Will spent all day flittering around the kitchen and the house. It was Christmas Eve Eve and Brian's mother and stepfather were arriving the next day. On top of that stress, Brian volunteered Will to do all the baking for Marlena's dinner as well as the desserts for Ari's dance recital. Plus, Will still couldn't get the image of Brian shirtless out of his head from the other night.
How the man looked like that when he ate his weight in Will's baked goods every day, Will would never know.
Will worried most about whether he could keep his feelings for Brian a secret much longer. Terrified Brian would realize how much Will looked forward to being out in public together because they had to act like a couple.
After finishing his last batch of cookies, Will took a long, steamy shower. And if the sight of Brian shirtless lingered on his mind while in there, it was no one's business but his own.
Turning off the shower, Will hissed when he flung open his shower door and all the heat escaped. Before Will had time to grab his towel, Brian came barging in, headphones on and a laundry basket in his arms. When he glanced up and saw Will's naked form, he dropped the basket, clean clothes spilling everywhere.
Will fumbled to cover himself, glaring at Brian.
"Really? What is this, payback for the other night?"
Brian, recovering quicker than Will did when their roles were reversed, shook his head while gathering up the clothes again.
"I didn't hear the shower on," Brian pointed to his headphones.
He started walking backward toward the door, eyes gliding over Will's body with a wide smile.
Will rolled his eyes but couldn't stop the boost of confidence Brian's look gave him. Will knew he didn't look like Brian but his body was nothing to be ashamed of. He'd never had any complaints before.
"I guess we both have a problem with knocking," Brian said lifting his brows up and down.
"Yeah, yeah, now you know what to ask Santa for, don't you?"
"I have been a good boy this year," Brian quipped, the sight of Will dripping wet and naked haunting him all the way to bed.
The morning of Christmas Eve, Will was running around the house, a frazzled, nervous wreck. Not because he wasn't prepared for the holiday. He'd gotten Ari's gifts wrapped the day before. Not because he needed to finish baking, no. He completed that the night before too.
He was anxious because Brian would be over any minute with his mom and stepdad. Will so badly wanted to make a good impression. Tori hated the idea of Paul with Will. Adrienne despised Will, even more so now than before.
Not to mention, this entire scheme was to make Brian's mother happy. So far, after everything she heard from Brian and the minute or so she saw Will back on Thanksgiving, Karen Michaels liked what she saw. But, Will was known for ruining things. He didn't want this to blow up in Brian's face.
Will vacuumed and dusted, wiping non-existent specs of dirt off the countertops. Running back to the bathroom to look in his mirror, frowning at his reflection.
He let Brian pick out his outfit while Will wrapped presents the night before. It wasn't fancy, just a well-fitting pair of jeans and a tight blue button-up shirt. Brian insisted it was perfect but Will worried it wasn't enough. Worried he wasn't enough.
He shouldn't freak out about meeting the mother of his fake boyfriend this much but he couldn't help it. The past month getting closer to Brian was wonderful. Brian was so handsome and charming. He made Will laugh and never put up with any of Will's crap. It was refreshing and new after so many months of being alone.
And if every now and again Will liked to pretend they really were a couple, well, that was a secret worth keeping.
"Daddy, doorbell," Ari bellowed from her toy room.
Will let out a shaky breath, tugged at the hem of his shirt one last time, then ran for the door. His smile shifted into something much more natural when he saw Brian, eyes lighting up.
"Hi," Will gushed, slightly overwhelmed by the sight of Brian in a tight white sweater. "You didn't use your key."
"Thought I'd give you some warning," Brian leaned forward and kissed Will's cheek. He gestured to a handsome couple behind him. "Will, this is my mom, Karen, and my stepfather, Jacob. Guys, this is Will."
"Well, of course, it is," Karen gushed, shoving Brian aside and yanking Will into a tight hug. "Oh, it's so nice to meet you in person. Let me look at you."
She grabbed Will's cheeks in both hands, smooshing his face together.
"You're even more handsome than over the phone," Karen pulled him into another hug. "Jacob, isn't he the cutest thing you've ever seen?"
"Adorable," Jacob responded in a dry tone but gave Will a smile when they caught eyes over Karen's shoulder.
"Hi," Will greeted, looking at Brian for help.
"Mom," Brian eased her off Will with an embarrassed expression. "Quit smothering him."
"I can't help it," Karen wiped at her eyes. "He's perfect and you're so beautiful together. After all these years of you being alone, I don't have to worry anymore."
Will and Brian looked at each other, an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of their stomachs. Face-to-face with Karen, seeing how their lie was affecting her, made them nervous.
"I sure hope you don't," Will said letting the words flow naturally. His fingers slipped into Brian's and gave a squeeze. "Because Brian's amazing. He's a fantastic doctor. I know. My aunt is in charge and she let slip how great she thinks he is."
Brian gave Will a skeptical grin.
"What? She did?" Will insisted. "And on top of being ridiculously handsome, he's a wonderful person and the time I've spent with him has been some of the best of my life."
"Oh," Karen waved her hands at her eyes again. "That was beautiful."
"Will," Brian started to say before Will shook his head.
Brian stared at Will with a soft look on his face. Something gentle in his eyes, squeezing Will's hand tight.
"Daddy, who is it?" Ari yelled, interrupting them all, as the sound of toys being thrown echoed around the house.
"Daddy?" Karen questioned with a frown.
"…uh," Brian knew he forgot something.
Will, pinching Brian firmly in the side, cleared his throat.
"That would be my daughter, Ari."
"Daughter? You have a daughter?" Karen asked, taken aback.
"Yes, Ma'am, she's six," Will answered.
"Well," Karen sniffled, "I wasn't expecting this but it explains why you have such a charming house."
"Why don't you meet her?" Will suggested, inviting everyone inside. "Ari, come here, please."
It took Ari a few minutes to come to the door, long enough for everyone to remove their coats and scarves.
"Ari," Will smoothed out her hair, hands on her shoulders, reminding Brian so much of his first meeting with the girl, "this is Brian's mom and dad."
"Ooooh," Ari said, slipping on a grin. "I love Brian! He's the bestest doctor and ice skater ever!"
"You're not so bad yourself, Squirt," Brian winked at her, offering a fist bump.
"Well, now, look at you," Karen kneeled in front of Ari. She touched Ari's cheeks and brushed her hair aside. "You are the spitting image of your father."
"I know," Ari nodded. "That's why I'm so beautiful."
Will let out a bark of laughter before Ari added, "at least, that's what Brian says when Daddy's not around."
Brian's face heated up when everyone turned to look at him.
"Uh, can I offer anyone something to drink? Will's got an awesome espresso machine and makes the best treats."
"Now, this I've been looking forward to. The kid hasn't shut up about your baking," Jacob revealed, following Brian into the kitchen.
"That's because Will's baking is amazing," Brian maintained. "I keep telling him he should open his own bakery or start a catering company or something."
"You keep saying that and I keep reminding you I have no idea how to run a business," Will reminded him.
"Well, now, don't sell yourself short," Jacob added. "With the right help, I bet you could get started on something."
"See," Brian gave Will a knowing look causing Will to dig his elbow into Brian's side.
Karen watched the two with a blissful sigh, leaning against Jacob. The sound of Ari playing with her toys a happy soundtrack as they all got to know one another.
Karen left Ari's bathroom and entered the hallway. She couldn't stop from taking a sneak peek in the two bedrooms adjacent to the bathroom. One room was clearly Ari's. The walls were pink, the bedding purple, and it was covered in stuffed animals. Karen smiled at the sight and the hastily stuffed toys spilling out of storage bins.
The next room was an office of some sort. Bookcases lined the walls, a desk, and a dark gray couch. Next to the couch was a heap of men's clothing and a suitcase. A vaguely familiar suitcase with vaguely familiar clothes and a set of shoes she bought Brian for his birthday three months ago.
"Mom," Brian said from the hall, startling Karen. "What are doing?"
"Snooping," Karen said, picking off a piece of lint from Brian's sweater before smoothing it down his shoulders. "And my Brian boy, you don't have to hide. I know."
"You know what?" Brian wondered.
"I know about you and Will," Karen said with a mischievous smile.
"You know what about me and Will?" Brian asked, internally panicking. Mind whirling for an explanation for all the lies he and Will had told.
"I know you're staying in his room," Karen whispered. "Honestly, hiding your suitcase in here? You're an adult. I know you're having – well – relations with your boyfriend. There's no need to hide it."
"Now, what time is Ari's dance recital?"
"We need to leave in about twenty minutes," Brian said, letting out a relieved puff of air.
"Speaking of," Will said as they walked into the living room. "I need to explain before we leave who we'll run into while there."
Will glanced at Brian for a moment before saying, "did Brian ever tell you the story of when we first met?"
Later in the evening, after a whole day together, Will, Brian, Karen, and Jacob arrived at the Horton Recreational Center. Ari's ballet troupe was taking part in a Christmas pageant. There would be school choirs singing and various dance groups, as well as treats and mingling.
After watching Ari's dance, Will and Brian went to set up all the desserts Will baked. A selection of cookies, candies, and cupcakes and if anyone hated his baking, Will was blaming Brian.
Brian attempted to calm Will's nerves but he didn't need to. A few minutes after setting out the treats, a long line formed. Everyone complimenting the chef and leaving Will a speechless, fumbling mess.
Brian left Will to his compliments to take his mom and Jacob a selection of each treat before they were all gone. When he left, Will looked up to see Sonny and Leo next in line.
Will withheld a sigh.
"I'm not sure anyone should be eating these," Sonny said with a tense smile. "I know how dangerous you are in the kitchen."
"I guess you don't know me as well as you think," Will quipped, ignoring the way Leo smirked at him.
"I guess not," Sonny agreed, oh so casually bringing his arm around Leo's waist. "Ari said you had a boyfriend and yet no one's met him, strange."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Will replied, trying to control his fingers from fidgeting. "Marlena's met him. Kayla works with him. Ari spends time with him all the time. Hell, even the dance mom's here have met him."
"Well, why hasn't Sonny met this man, then?" Leo asked with his nose in the air. "If his daughter is spending time with a strange man, I think he has a right to meet him."
"Leo," Will gave him a saccharine smile, "Sonny doesn't get to decide who's appropriate to have in my daughter's life, considering he's with you. And if you want my daughter to be anywhere near either of you, I suggest you keep your opinion to yourself."
"Ouch," Leo said with as much sarcasm as possible. "When did you grow claws, Little Will?"
"I seem to remember him always having them," Brian said, easing around Sonny and Leo and slinking up close to Will. Brian ignored the other two, focusing on flattening Will's collar and kissing his temple.
The look of dawning comprehension on Sonny's face was almost too much for Will to handle. He had to bury his face in Brian's neck to stop from laughing. Enjoying the feel of his skin and the scent of his cologne while he was there.
"Brian?" Sonny spat with wide, horror-filled eyes.
"Hmm?" Brian finally glanced at Sonny, giving him a once-over before frowning.
Will was right. Sonny didn't even look anything like Brian remembered.
"Who is this, baby?" Leo wondered with pursed lips.
"Brian, he and I were – well, we were friends," Sonny answered, licking his lips. "And I thought you hated Will."
"Hated Will?" Brian laughed, giving Will a fond look, without having to fake a single emotion. "I never hated Will. Jealous and disliked, maybe. But that was what? Seven years ago? Ancient history, especially compared to the last few weeks."
Will smiled at Brian, standing ever so close.
"Oh, right, Brian, this is Leo, Sonny's – hmm – boyfriend. Leo, this is Dr. Brian James, my boyfriend."
Brian gave Leo an even more unimpressed look than the one he gave Sonny.
"How did – why did – what?" Sonny sputtered.
"Will and I are together," Brian answered with a confidence Will wouldn't have been able to muster. "It shouldn't be confusing. We reconnected at the hospital when he got hurt. And it was obvious our differences from before stemmed from our attraction to each other."
Brian gave Sonny a patronizing look, a look he once reserved for Will all those years ago and said, "I do think you should keep an eye on him, though."
Brian nodded toward Leo and his ostentatious Christmas-themed suit.
"You know, since it seems any man who was once interested in you ends up falling harder for Will in the end."
Sonny gaped, slack-jawed and unattractive.
"But, honestly, Sonny, what did you expect? For both of us to pine over you, after so long?" Brian rolled his eyes. "Will's gorgeous and I haven't been able to stay away."
Will was certain his face was going to erupt in flames.
"He certainly is," Karen interrupted, walking over with Jacob holding her hand. She gave Sonny and Leo judgmental glares. "Will is gorgeous and the perfect boyfriend."
"What?" Adrienne Kiriakis said, barging in on the conversation, putting her hand on Sonny's shoulder. "You're talking about Will? Will Horton?"
"I'm sorry, who are you?" Karen asked with a sharp smile and devious eyes.
"Adrienne Kiriakis," Adrienne answered, Justin hovering behind her. Looking as awkward and uncomfortable as Jacob did. "Will was once my son-in-law. So, trust me when I say there is nothing gorgeous or perfect about him."
Will fidgeted, eyes lowering as Brian and Karen bristled.
"Did anyone ask you?" Brian wondered with a scoff.
"Brian?" Adrienne asked with a frown, eyes taking in his positioning with Will. "What?"
"I'm sorry, I have to disagree," Karen insisted, holding her shoulders back with her head held high. "Will has been nothing but kind and generous. He's a marvelous father and a wonderful boyfriend. I've never seen my son happier and it's all because of Will."
Adrienne, with a great bit of difficulty, pulled her eyes away from the sight of Will and Brian. She huffed, clutching tighter to Sonny's shoulder.
"Well, you obviously have low expectations for your son."
Karen's eyes narrowed while Jacob swiped a cookie off the table.
Will and Brian both could have sworn he said, "this is gonna be good," before taking a large bite.
"My son put himself through medical school. He had his choice of residency locations. Now he lives in his wonderful boyfriend's perfect house with his equally amazing daughter. I sincerely doubt you want me to compare Will and Brian's profession with your son and his little friend's. Seeing as it's Christmas, and I would hate to make a scene, I'm going to have to ask you and yours to leave, immediately. You're holding up the line, impeding on business for Will's second, reputable profession."
Adrienne, Sonny, and even Leo looked stunned all while Justin tried to appease the situation and guided them all away.
"Oh and Sonny?" Brian called out as they motioned to leave. "I hope you're happy with your choice in partner. I know I certainly am. And don't worry, I'll tell Ari merry Christmas for you."
Will beamed at Brian, wanting nothing more in the world than to pull him into a kiss and never let him go.
"Sorry about that, boys," Karen said, shaking her neck around. "That woman just fired me up with her hypocrisy. I know I nag you, my Brian boy, but at least I cut you from the umbilical cord at birth."
"You didn't have to stand up for me," Will tried to say only for Brian and Karen to give him the same exasperated expression.
"There's no arguing with them, kid," Jacob slapped his back. "Best get back to serving people before all the desserts mysteriously disappear."
Jacob popped another cookie in his mouth and smiled.
"Okay," Will said as they all stood outside Marlena's front door. Will bouncing from foot to foot, giving Brian panicked looks every few seconds. "This might be a little awkward."
"Moreso than your ex-husband's mother making a scene at her grandchild's dance recital?" Jacob wondered.
"…possibly, yes," Will answered, giving Brian another panicked look before Brian took pity.
"Will's grandma –,"
"The one who works at the hospital?"
"Yeah, the man she's married to, well, his son is another of Will's ex's. This is gonna be the first time they've seen each other since the breakup. And, well, they're both bringing new boyfriend's home."
"I see," Jacob acknowledged. "At least, you've got Brian. That would be really awkward to come to this thing alone."
Will and Brian shared a smile before Will opened the front door.
They went through the usual introductions. Ari leading the way with her hand in Karen's, loudly introducing Brian as "Daddy's doctor boyfriend".
Marlena gave Will a tight squeeze and a kiss on the cheek, gazing at him and Brian with a fond look in her eyes.
At first, Will didn't even see Paul, something that wouldn't have happened before Will met Brian again. But, when Will did see Paul again, after so much time, he had to swallow down a large lump in his throat.
Paul was as handsome as ever, relaxed in a corner holding the hand of a man just as good looking. From his social media stalking, Will knew the man's name was Jeremy Stevens, a successful financier and part-time Instagram model. They met when Jeremy hired Paul to investigate a former employee and were inseparable since.
The two were disgustingly handsome and happy in every picture. In person was even worse.
But, Paul deserved it. Will never appreciated or loved him the way Paul deserved. Will loved him, he did. But, wasn't what Paul needed. Will was too much drama, too much work, too much effort.
Paul deserved someone as amazing as he was and if Will couldn't be that for him, he was glad Paul found someone that could.
Didn't mean he had to like looking at them together or that he wasn't envious. Sonny found happiness. Paul found happiness. And Will? Well, Will found someone to pretend to be his boyfriend so he wouldn't look pathetic and, pathetically, Will fell for him.
At least, no one needed to know that part.
Will sucked it up, knowing Paul deserved whatever humiliation he could give Will after everything, and said, "Paul, hi."
"…Will," Paul said after a few seconds of simply staring.
The man next to him, Jeremy, cleared his throat before holding out his hand, "I'm Jeremy, Paul's boyfriend."
He said it with more attitude than Will thought necessary but couldn't fault him.
"Nice to meet you," Will offered with a shy smile. He gestured to Brian, standing at his side. Will did a double take when he noticed the odd look on Brian's face. "This is –,"
"Dr. Brian James, Will's boy –," Brian introduced, sliding his left hand down Will's back to rest above the swell of his bottom.
"Boyfriend," Paul finished for him, blinking a few times, refusing to make eye contact with Jeremy when the man glared at him. "I saw on Instagram."
Brian, eyes narrowed, stuck his right hand out, shaking hands with Jeremy and then Paul.
Will didn't know what to make of the way Brian and Paul looked at one another. Hands squeezing the other's too tight, faces tense, and eyes hard.
Ari interrupted the staring contest.
"Daddy, can we get out the cookies yet I want to eat a – oh, hi, Paul – another cookie."
"Ari," Paul gasped, "you're so big."
"Duh," Ari teased before grabbing Will's hand and yanking, "you too, Brian."
"It was nice to see you," Will told Paul with a half-smile.
"You too," Paul whispered, eyes trailing after Will once he walked away.
The rest of the evening went well up until dessert. Paul and Jeremy were on one half of the large table and Will and Brian on the other during dinner. Sure, Jeremy seemed to coddle Paul, petting his face during any lull in the meal. Yes, Jeremy spoke at great length about how Tori adored him, the two shopping together and texting all the time. But, Will handled those things with little more than a furrowed brow.
Brian distracted him, pulling Will into a conversation or goading him into an argument. The two spent almost fifteen minutes bickering about the perfect consistency of mashed potatoes. Karen and Jacob helped as well. The two showing interest in everything Will had to say, cooing over Will's interactions with Ari, and engaging with Marlena and John.
It wasn't until dessert time that everything went to hell.
Will brought a peppermint cheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust, dealing with the usual amount of teasing from his family as expected when they discovered he made it himself.
At that point, everyone seemed to break off into smaller groups. Marlena, Belle, and Karen drifting off into the kitchen together. Jacob and John sitting on the couch watching a game with Shawn. Will and Brian delivered plates of dessert to everyone. Will cutting slices while Brian stood by his side, sticking his finger in the filling, causing Will to slap his hand.
The two giggling away while Paul and Jeremy watched from the other end of the dining room table. Jeremy doing all he could to drag Paul's attention back on him.
When Will, Brian not far from his side, offered the two a slice of cheesecake each, Jeremy eyed it with distaste when Will admitted to baking it.
"Really?" Paul asked, taking the plate and fork with a grin.
"Yes, trust me, I've heard all the jokes," Will insisted before Paul could make one. Watching when Paul immediately dug into it, letting out a pleased moan. A moan Will was once intimately familiar with.
"This is really good, wow," Paul praised after his first bite.
Brian, with a frown on his face, said, "everything he makes is delicious. I've been telling him it should be more than just a hobby."
"A hobby?" Jeremy said, refusing to eat any of his slice. "I thought his only hobby was breaking hearts and wrecking homes."
"Jer," Paul scolded immediately.
Will, crossing his arms around his waist, looked between Jeremy and Paul before sighing.
"Shut up," Brian spat.
"No," Jeremy huffed. "He's an idiot and needs to know exactly what he's been missing."
"I'm aware," Will stated with a bland tone. "And if I didn't, I think I got the hint when you hand fed Paul during dinner."
Brian, hand on Will's shoulder, added, "yeah, how'd that insecurity taste, by the way?"
"You would know," Jeremy insisted. "Like I haven't seen the glares you've been giving Paulie all night?"
"Excuse me?" Brian scoffed while Will mouthed the word Paulie.
"You heard me," Jeremy said, ignoring all the hissing Paul was doing in his direction. "I'd be jealous if I were you too. From everything I've heard, he's about three hours away from throwing himself at Paul. In fact, I'm surprised he even bothered to bring you. It's not like he cares if he has a boyfriend. All Paul's ever told me is how big of a sl–,"
Will moved in front of Brian's way before he lunged at Jeremy. Grabbing him around the waist and dragging him off all while Paul started yelling at Jeremy and everyone stared at them.
Will pulled Brian down a hall and into one of the spare rooms.
"Brian, stop it," Will insisted, tugging on his arms. "He isn't worth it."
"Yes, he is," Brian argued. "He needs a hard smack to his smart mouth. They both do. How can he say something like that? How could Paul?"
"Brian," Will said with a sad smile. "It's not like anything he said is untrue. My record pretty much speaks for itself."
"Will," Brian gave him a look, "shut up."
Will rolled his eyes but laughed.
"I don't need you fighting my battles for me. I can do that myself, if I wanted."
"Well, you shouldn't have to. You don't deserve to hear that and Paul shouldn't say shit like that about you to anyone, not if he loved you."
"Paul more than anyone deserves to say it. I hurt him more than anyone else ever had."
"So?" Brian crossed his arms. "If he loved you, he would want you to be happy, even if that meant you couldn't be together. I would know."
"You would know?" Will took a step back, surprised.
"I meant – uh – well," Brian fumbled to find the right words, looking at Will with wide, frightened eyes. "I just meant if I was in love with someone I'd be happy if they were happy."
"Oh," Will deflated, tiny bit of hope that Brian might feel the same as him slipping away.
"Look," Brian said, "I'm sorry everyone saw that but I'm not sorry for standing up for you. I couldn't let them talk to you that way."
"Thank you," Will answered, putting his hand on Brian's arm. "I mean it, I haven't had anyone stand up for me in a long time and you did it to Sonny and to this loser."
"I'd stand up for you to anyone," Brian admitted in a small voice.
Will licked his lips before smiling.
"You totally could have taken him."
"Oh, I so had him," Brian agreed. "Pretty boy would've freaked if my fist got anywhere near his face."
"Oh, yeah," Will nodded with a laugh. "What would his Insta followers think?"
Brian chuckled. Moving in closer toward Will when Will let out a burst of laughter and moved out of the way, never even knowing Brian was going to make a move. Brian scrunched his nose and sighed, following Will.
"I can't believe she actually got one," Will gushed, spotting a battered old organ. "Grandma told me she saw one of these at a yard sale and wanted to buy it. But she didn't tell me she went through with it."
"You know how to play?" Brian asked, joining Will at the stool in front of it.
"I used to, probably a little rusty," Will admitted. "You?"
"I took lessons when I was a kid but that was a long time ago."
It took Will a few minutes and several sour notes before he got his fingers working properly. He tickled the keys alone for a while before Brian joined him, the two banging out Heart and Soul.
"I should get Ari lessons," Will said once they finished their song. "It might teach her some focus. She's got the attention span of a gnat."
"I noticed," Brian replied. "She'd look cute with her itty bitty fingers."
While they spoke, Will fiddled with the keys, trying a few chords before changing his mind. It took a while, but he finally smiled, proud.
It took Brian a few moments to recognize the song. Some modern Christmas song by that ridiculous acapella group Will enjoyed.
It brought Brian back to when he, Will, and Ari decorated their tree. Holding Ari by the waist so she could reach the higher branches. Watching Will bustle about, playing with the tinsel and pretending to wear the ornaments as earrings.
Feeling something inside himself settle in a way he never had before when all three sat on the couch when they finished. Basking in their hard work, Will's face aglow from the Christmas lights, Brian comfortable and happy, belonging.
This song was playing then and hearing Will play it now brought the same contentment in Brian. The same sense of belonging, happy and comfortable in a way he hadn't felt since he was a child.
Then Will started singing and his voice was not what Brian expected. Not perfect by any means, but with a raw talent Brian did not anticipate.
"I've got this Christmas song in my heart. I've got the candles glowing in the dark. I'm hanging all the stockings by the Christmas tree. Oh, why? 'Cause that's Christmas to me. Oh, why? 'Cause that's Christmas to me."
Will trailed off when he noticed Brian staring at him.
"What? Do I sound terrible or something?"
Brian shook his head, eyes still on Will.
"No, definitely not terrible. The opposite of terrible, in fact."
Will treated Brian to one of the softest smiles Brian had ever seen while he switched songs.
"Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light."
Will nudged him in the side until Brian got the hint and joined him.
"From now on your troubles will be out of sight."
The two harmonized, both forgetting the same words at the same time and making them up as they went.
They never even noticed Marlena and Karen standing in the doorway with matching grins on their faces.
"Do I have to go to sleep, Daddy?" Ari asked, clutching her covers to her chest.
"Yes," Will said, watching as she fought to keep her eyes open. "How else is Santa gonna bring your presents? He only comes to houses with sleeping little girls."
"But I don't wanna," Ari argued.
Will ran his hands over her scalp, singing softly to her. A few lullabies until her breathing evened off and she was out.
Will closed her door behind him while he hurried into the garage. If he wanted to get Santa's present in order before morning, he'd have to start now.
Fifteen or so minutes later, Will heard the garage door open. Brian was back from taking his parents to their hotel.
"Hey," Will greeted when he saw him. Admiring the view of Brian in his sweater once again.
"Hey," Brian echoed, sitting down on the floor and pulling a set of directions away from Will. "You're already putting this together wrong."
"Then you do it," Will complained but only half-heartedly. He wasn't the handiest of men and putting together a playhouse was definitely not in his skill set.
Brian corrected Will's mistakes, putting the plastic pieces of Ari's play house together in a way that made sense.
"So, what did they say?" Will asked, rising up to his knees.
"What did who say?" Brian said with a plastic screw in his mouth, focusing.
"Your mom and Jacob," Will rolled his eyes. "What did they say about me? Do they think we're a couple?"
Brian took a few minutes to respond. Remembering oh so clearly what they told him not a half hour before outside their hotel room.
("Oh, my Brian boy, I can't tell you how happy I am. I spent so many years worrying you'd never find anyone to love and here you've found two. Will is wonderful and Ari is an angel."
"Yeah, kid, I had my doubts but I've never seen you like this before. You really love that boy, don't you?")
"They definitely believe we're a couple," Brian settled on before sighing. "And considering my mom was fawning over you all day, you know she loves you. Whatever makes my mom happy makes Jacob happy but even he said you were great."
"Really?" Will asked, voice squeaking. "I mean, really? Like they met me and still think that?"
"Well, I'm starting to have my doubts," Brian mumbled, smiling when Will hit him. "Yes, Will, they love you. I'm pretty sure my mom would adopt you if she could. Now, stop distracting me."
"Fine," Will said, standing up and brushing off his knees. "I'll get the rest of the presents anyway."
Over the next hour, Will strategically placed presents under the Christmas tree. He took bites out of the special cookies Ari laid out for Santa and took a large gulp of milk. After helping Brian move the playhouse into the backyard, Will dragged Brian to the living room.
"I almost forgot," Will said as he shoved a few LOL toys in Ari's stocking as well as a few bags of candy. "I got you something."
Will rummaged through a bag before pulling out a red stocking with Brian's name written in clumsy sparkles.
"Ari wrote your name, in case you couldn't tell," Will explained as he hung the stocking next to his own. He took a step back and admired how fuller it made the mantle look, how complete.
"You got that for me?" Brian asked, fingertips brushing over the squiggly lines of his name.
"Yeah," Will answered with a shrug. "I mean, you live here, you're a part of us. Of course, you needed your own stocking."
Brian held perfectly still, eyes drifting between all three stockings, his name intertwined with Will and Ari's. Hanging above a fireplace, next to a tree he decorated, in a home he began to think of as his own.
"Will," Brian said after a long silence. "I don't think I can be your fake boyfriend anymore."
"What?" Will asked, facing Brian with his eyes as wide as saucers. "What do you mean? Brian, is this about the stocking? Because I can take it down."
"It's not the stocking," Brian turned to face Will. Watching his light blue eyes flicker to life with panic. "I love the stocking, I do. And that's the problem."
"I don't understand," Will admitted.
He thought tonight had gone well. It was one of the best holiday's he'd had in a long time. But he should have known that nothing ever lasted long for him. Just when Will found happiness, he always found a way to ruin it, always.
"What did I do wrong?" Will added.
Brian closed his eyes tight and shook his head.
"You didn't do anything. Okay, you didn't do anything wrong and that's the problem. You didn't do anything wrong but I did. This is just pretend. So my mom could get off my back and so you could – so you wouldn't be alone during the holidays. We aren't dating, not for real."
Will winced, arms winding around his waist.
"That's what I did wrong, Will. I know this is pretend but it feels real to me. I want it to be real."
"What?" Will asked, certain he misheard. There was no way Brian felt the same way he did.
"I don't want to be your fake boyfriend anymore. I can't. I couldn't stand it. I want to be your real boyfriend. I want to hold your hand and kiss the tip of your nose when it's red. And I want to crawl into bed with you at night and hold you close and shut you up with a kiss. I want to do all the things we already do but know it's real. Know I'm not the only one feeling this way. And I know you don't want to date me. I get it. I do. I'm sorry if this freaks you out but I can't keep pretending. This past month together has been amazing and I didn't mean to but I fell for you. You and Ari and this house and everything you have to offer. Okay, I love you and I'm sorry. I know this wasn't supposed to happen but I couldn't help myself. I love you and –,"
"Brian, shut up."
Will moved closer, close enough to slide his hands up Brian's impossibly soft sweater. Hands resting on his chest, leaning forward.
Brian didn't even have time to smile before Will tilted his head and lifted his toes, lips meeting in a gentle, perfect kiss.
"I haven't been pretending for a long time," Will admitted. "Since you moved in, maybe even before. I love you too."
Brian's lips spread into a dazzling white smile. Finally giving into a long-standing temptation and kissing the tip of Will's nose before joining their lips together again.
"Merry Christmas," Will whispered with his forehead pressed to Brian's.
"Merry Christmas," Brian repeated, capturing Will's lips again and again, angling them toward Will's bedroom.
Their soft, gentle kisses turned fierce. Brian biting and Will licking before Brian tossed Will onto the bed, laughing when Will let out a surprised grunt.
Brian crawled over Will's prone form with a wide grin, hand gliding under Will's shirt.
Will was content to let Brian shower him in attention for several minutes. Brian kissing any bit of Will he could reach. Facial hair scraping the delicate skin of Will's neck, throwing Will's shirt over his shoulder and mouthing up and down Will's chest and stomach.
When Brian pulled Will's jeans and underwear off, Will grabbed him by the shoulder and knocked him to the bed. Immediately pulling open Brian's shirt and groaning at the miles of exposed skin he could finally, finally touch.
Preoccupied with Brian's torso, laving at the deep lines in the side of his hips, Will grunted when Brian yanked him by his hair up for another kiss.
The two kissed and kissed while rolling around on the bed, each knocking the other over again and again. Battling Brian's belt and kicking his pants to the edge of the mattress. Then they were both naked and hard. Out of breath and covered in marks, Will's on his neck and Brian's along his hips.
They stared at each other, panting for a few seconds before lunging for the other again. Landing on their sides and holding the other close. Without needing to discuss it, Brian wrapped his large fist around both of their cocks. Will threw his leg over Brian's hip, getting closer. Foreheads pressed together, breath puffing against the other's lips. Brian jerking his fist up and down, the two gliding together with just enough precome to slick their way.
Will clung to Brian's shoulders, stifling his cries with Brian's mouth when a particular twist of Brian's fist sent him over the edge.
Brian didn't last too long after that, the feel of Will trembling against him, pulsing over his fingertips was enough to set him off.
Will swallowed Brian's moans, their tongues and lips moving together for what felt like hours afterward. The two sweaty and sticky yet neither moved.
It wasn't until the come clinging to Brian's hands grew viscous did they pull apart. Lips red and puffy, Will flushed down to his groin while Brian had the widest smile Will had ever seen.
"Should have done that a long time ago," Brian admitted, stealing another kiss before they rolled off the bed.
"Uh-huh," Will nodded, a little weak in the knees.
"I must have found another way to shut you up," Brian teased as Will shoved him through the bathroom doorway.
Will backed him toward the shower door, hands slipping and sliding along Brian's torso and hips. The two stumbled into the stall, Will turning on the water with one hand and using the other to pull Brian close.
"I think I know a pretty good way to keep you quiet myself," Will murmured when the water reached the perfect temperature.
Brian groaned when Will slid to his knees, fingernails scratching through the hair on Brian's thighs.
"I knew I loved you for a reason," Brian hissed before Will licked the head of his rapidly filling cock.
The two settled into bed, sated and tired. Brian's suitcase and overfilling clothes haphazardly thrown near Will's closet. Will snuggled into Brian's side, holding tight to his muscled forearm. Brian running his fingers through Will's hair.
"Do you think we'll ever tell anyone the truth?" Will asked, eyelashes fluttering against Brian's bare skin.
"God, no," Brian snorted. "My mom would be even more obsessed with you if she thought you were all sad and lonely and I wanted to lie to her to keep her off my back. Nope, no one is ever knowing we faked the past month."
"Well, I wouldn't say we faked the whole thing," Will replied. "You had to do something right to get me to fall in love with you."
Brian smiled to himself, soft and gentle before sighing.
"So, with that in mind, this might be a good time to tell you your Christmas present."
"Present?" Will perked up. "What present? What is it? I want it, now."
"You sound like Ari," Brian pointed out. Yet another thing about Will that should annoy him but he found charming instead. "And you can't really open it, open it."
"Oh," Will deflated, nuzzling back into Brian's chest. "What is it?"
Brian cleared his throat.
"Now, don't get mad but –,"
"What did you do?"
"When your baking was such a success at the recital, I might have texted the volunteer coordinator at the hospital."
"What does that mean?"
"It means you get to cater the desserts at the hospital fundraiser on New Year's Eve."
"Brian!" Will popped up, glaring down at his pushy, irresistible boyfriend. "Why do you keep –,"
"Will," Brian grabbed the back of Will's head, pulled him close, and whispered just before kissing him, "shut up."
Thanks to everyone who read/reviewed/favorited/followed. I appreciate the support. Hopefully I converted a few people over to the Will/Brian side of shipping.
I hope everyone has a happy holiday no matter what they celebrate and a happy New Year.