These extra ficlets follow on Falling Into Place, and both contains spoilers for and will not make sense without that work. You should read that work first.
Takes place just after their first kiss in Falling Into Place
"So I think I'm going to head home and do some studying."
Carlos knew Adam was there, of course, but he still blushes at the reminder that they have an audience, and lets Nick go, stepping back but remaining close enough that he can still feel Nick's body heat next to him. Nick, for his part, seems fairly unphased, mostly still caught up in the kisses they'd just shared, at the moment.
"Chico, are you sure? This was supposed to be our day to hang out."
He glances over at Adam, who's grinning at them now. "I think something more important came up. We'll hang out next time."
Adam holds out his hand, and it takes a second for Carlos to realize he's still holding the bag of mushrooms. He hands it to Adam, who pats him on the back and walks back up the street.
"Is this our first date, then?" Nick's voice brings him back to the moment, and he looks away from Adam's retreating back, at the man next to him. Nick is blushing now.
"Yeah. What... kinds of things are appropriate for a first date?" Carlos isn't sure how quickly Nick wants to move with things, but for once, he finds himself wanting to just spend time with him instead of just dragging him into bed and getting him naked.
Not that that wasn't also tempting.
"It's not actually too cold out, today. Do you want to walk somewhere and then maybe get lunch?"
Carlos nods before leaning in again, unable to keep his hands off of Nick. Nick smiles and meets him halfway, their lips brushing more gently this time.
"How about the Palace of Fine Arts? I've been meaning to make it out there since we moved here, but never did."
Nick nods. "Sure. Do you want to walk, or?"
"Um." Carlos tries to remember bus routes in his head. "I think the 30 can take us there, if you don't mind walking a bit into Chinatown. Oh, and there's a great little shop on Jackson that does good sesame balls, if you..." He pauses, having started rambling as the nerves started creeping in again. "Sorry. We can just walk, too."
Nick shakes his head and kisses him again, quickly. "Both of those sound good. Also how do you remember bus routes that well?"
"Oh." Carlos blushes again. "I just have a good memory, I guess. And I take the bus a lot. The 30 runs up to the Presidio from the Caltrain area, which is convenient for me to get to Chinatown, so I take it sometimes." He shrugs, telling himself not to ramble again even though Nick is looking at him affectionately at it. "So, um... shall we?"
Nick nods and they start walking. He glances over, and Nick meets his gaze and holds his hand out. Carlos hesitates only briefly before taking it, their fingers fitting together naturally, and he thinks for a second how it was never like this with his ex, or anyone else before.
And as they fall into comfortable conversation as they walk, about the city and Carlos' cooking, he can't help but think that it's the start of something meaningful.
Takes place after Carlos and Nick start dating in Falling Into Place
"Nick really likes you, dude."
Carlos looks over at Adam, pulling off his shoes by the door, from his pan on the stove. "What?"
"He was giddy today. He stopped a random person in the hallway and told him that he had the best boyfriend ever. And then completely missed it when that person congratulated the two of us."
Carlos blushes. "Yeah, well. It's still really new, so..."
Adam shakes his head, dropping his backpack by the door. "Also don't think I haven't seen the way you look back at him."
Carlos turns redder. "Chico. Shush or you're just getting plain rice for dinner tonight."
"I'm glad you two are so happy, dude."
"Me too, chico. Me too."
"Oh, and he gave you this." Adam holds out a folded sheet of notebook paper before carrying it over to the dining table and setting it down.
Carlos can feel his cheeks flush again at the fact that Nick had written him a note. "What's it say?"
"I don't know, dude. I didn't read it. Do you want me to?"
"Sure." He's pretty sure, whatever it is, it wouldn't be too personal or explicit. And if it was, he'd get to see Adam blush, and that was a win, too.
Adam unfolds the paper. "It just says, 'I miss you'." Then he grins. "Your boyfriend misses you, dude."
Carlos thinks that his cheeks are just permanently red, now. "Whatever, chico. Tell him I miss him too, or whatever."
Adam puts the paper back down and pulls off his shirt, still grinning. "I'm going to take a shower. But remember that Nick is thinking about you!"
Carlos tears his gaze away, staring back at his pan on the stove. "Plain rice, chico!"
Takes place during Second Verse
"I think I need a break."
Carlos looks up at Nick and Adam from the kitchen where he's loading dishes into the dishwasher.
Adam sits up on the couch and stretches, seemingly agreeing with Nick. "Yeah, that could be a good idea. My eyes are starting to cross."
Nick grabs the remote. "How about some quick mindless TV before we get back to it?"
"Sounds good, dude."
Carlos busies himself with his cast iron pan, not trusting Adam to not absentmindedly soak it with soap, while the TV announcer drones on about something.
Next up, our exclusive interview with James Bennett about his recent work and his personal life.
That gets Carlos' attention, and he puts the pan down, staring at the TV. The show appears to be Entertainment Weekly, and James appears onscreen, looking as happy and outgoing as he always does in interviews.
Carlos still isn't sure he can reconcile that with the James he knew from undergrad.
"Turn it up, baby?" He dries his hands and sits next to Nick on the couch.
It's a pretty standard interview, and Carlos vaguely recalls hearing or reading some of these responses before when he'd looked up James' new movie a few weeks back and fell into the online spider web of speculative and interview articles.
Just more sensationalism, he thinks to himself, ready to return to dishes, when the announcer starts up on something new.
There have been some discussions stemming from your past involvement in college with Daniel Carlton, writer of the surprise housewife-hit book 'Fifty Things I Would Do To You'. There have also been questions about the wedding ring on your finger. So we all have to know: Who's the lucky lady?
Carlos, for some reason, doesn't dare breathe as James pauses before answering.
It's an engagement ring, not a wedding ring. I'm engaged to a man. His name is Chris, and we met in college. I'm bisexual.
It barely registers that Nick is staring at him now, and he realizes his mouth is hanging open, an expression of shock mixed with pride on his face. He shuts it and pulls Nick against him, not sure what to say.
"Well, I wasn't expecting that," Nick says as he snuggles up against Carlos' side. "Despite the rumors, he's always come across as straight to me. But good for him. It must be hard coming out so publicly like that."
Carlos glances over at Adam, who seems to be holding back a laugh. "Do you want to tell him, or should I, chico?"
"Um." Adam does chuckle, now. "Do you remember when I told you about my roommate Chris, in undergrad? And how he was dating an actor?"
Nick nods, then his eyes grow wide. "Wait, what?"
"That reminds me... I should call Chris and congratulate him, and catch up," Carlos says, kissing Nick's head before standing and heading back to the kitchen. Nick's eyes follow him, seemingly in disbelief.
"Babe, when were you going to tell me that the James you always talked about as one of the people who really helped you over the initial hump was James Bennett?"
Carlos shrugs, but he's grinning. "I don't know. Does it matter?"
"Next thing you're going to tell me is that the Dan you had your sexual awakening with is... I don't know... Daniel Carlton or something."
Adam laughs at that. "Dude, I think there are a few things we should probably tell you."
Takes place after Second Verse
The call connects and Chris pops onscreen.
"Hey, dude! Congratulations!" Carlos isn't sure if congratulations are appropriate, but given James just came out on national TV for him, it feels right.
Chris blushes. "Thanks. He didn't tell me he was going to do it, so I was really surprised, too."
"Now you get to walk the red carpet with him at the next premiere!" He realizes that's not really Chris' thing, but he can't help but feel excited on his behalf anyway.
"I think Josh... sorry, his publicist, might have something to say about that, but I don't know. It's turning out that this is drawing a lot of attention now, and James isn't really happy about it, so..."
"Um... I don't think you've met Nick, yet." He senses Chris' discomfort, and wants to change the subject, so he turns the laptop so Nick is visible onscreen, and Nick waves. Nick hadn't believed him and Adam, and wanted to see the proof for himself.
"Hi, Chris. Congratulations."
Chris smiles at him. "It's nice to meet you, Nick." Then he seems to look back at Carlos. "I'm sorry it's been so long since we've caught up, either on the phone or over Skype like this. Things have just been busy over here, and I'm not great at reaching out over anything that isn't instant messaging."
"Dude, don't apologize. I should've been better at it, too."
"We should make sure the next time isn't quite so long. How are you? How's A..." Chris stops talking and looks to his side before scooting over. James sits down next to him on the couch, and Nick's eyes grow wide. Carlos can't help but chuckle.
"Hey, James. Congrats!" Carlos is pretty sure Nick is speechless, at the moment.
"Thank you." James is smiling his regular smile, and Carlos thinks it looks more genuine, and more correct on him, than his usual interview smile.
"This is Nick, my boyfriend. He just wanted to meet you."
"Babe!" Nick blushes. "I just wanted to say hi to Chris. But, um... it's very nice to meet both of you. Carlos has talked highly of you. Both of you."
"I'm just glad I could help," James says, and Nick practically melts against Carlos' side. Carlos makes a note to talk to him later and tease him about what was apparently a bigger celebrity crush on James than he'd thought.
"So how are you and Adam doing?"
The call is short, but nice, and Carlos doesn't realize how much he's missed talking to Chris. James, of course, is pleasant and supportive as always, congratulating him on finding Nick, and ending the call with a "Let's talk again soon" that he's sure is genuine, even if it might take a little while for 'soon' to come.
He looks over at Nick when Chris hangs up, who seems to be staring at the screen with disbelief still on his face.
"I'm glad you finally got to meet Chris."
Nick just stares at him. "We just skyped with James Bennett."
Carlos laughs and wraps his arms around him, kissing his temple. "Okay, mister. Should I be concerned about this?"
Nick relaxes into him, closing his eyes, but smirking. "I don't know. I think there was a spark. I'm going to leave you now for him, and I'm sure he'll leave his fiancee who he basically just declared his love for on national television for me."
Two years ago, that would have been too much, and would have brought Carlos' insecuries exploding back into his chest. But now, feeling the way Nick's hands pleasantly hold his against Nick's bicep, and thinking back over the years they've been together, he feels only amusement, taking it for the joke that it is. "Well, then I hope James takes half as good care of you as you deserve."
Nick turns in his arms, expression all affection now, and kisses him, pushing him back into the couch. "I love you, babe."
"I love you, too." He opens his eyes, staring into Nick's. "But I'm still going to tease you about this."
"I would expect nothing less."
Takes place after Carlos and Nick's engagement in Piece By Piece
"Babe? What's this?"
Carlos looks over at Nick, who's trying to organize the things from Carlos' desk as they start to pack Carlos' things for their moving in together. Nick seems to be looking at an old folded piece of paper, and Carlos blushes when he realizes what it is.
"I think you know what that is."
"I wrote you this. The first day after we started dating, when I couldn't come over after classes."
"You did. And Adam gave it to me and teased me about it all evening."
Nick looks at him now, disbelief mixed with utter affection on his face. "And you kept it?"
"Dude. Of course I kept it."
Nick shakes his head, setting it on the desk while he returns to rummaging. "I'm going to frame that for you and stick it on your desk in our place. Just as a reminder for when we're apart."
Carlos likes that thought. Even now, he can remember exactly what Nick's sloppy handwriting looks like, the thick ballpoint pen on a half a sheet of notebook paper, reading I miss you.
"Babe? Did you see there's a new Star Trek series coming out?"
Carlos looks over at Nick, sitting on the couch with his laptop. "I didn't. I also didn't realize you were into Star Trek."
"Oh." Nick blushes. "I'm not, really. I just... follow James news, and apparently he's been cast in it."
"Ah. We should call him and Chris and congratulate them. I didn't realize James had decided to do TV again... it's been almost a decade."
"Well, he's always been a huge Star Trek fan, so I imagine he jumped at the opportunity."
"What? How do you know that?" He's studying Nick's face more carefully now, and Nick blushes harder.
"I just... follow James news."
Carlos grins, deciding the spinach would be okay for a few moments, walking over to the couch and ruffling Nick's hair and kissing his head. "Just how much of a crush on this guy do you have, baby?"
"It's not a crush!" Nick buries his face in his hands. "I just... think he's a good actor."
"Uh huh." Carlos kisses his head again before returning to the kitchen. "Well, I guess mark our calendars now. I imagine you're going to want to make a night of it whenever new episodes come out."
"I love you," Nick says, one eye peeking out at Carlos from between his fingers.
"Not half as much as you love James," Carlos teases, before thinking better of it because, as a rule, they never leave the other hanging. "But I love you too."
"Merry Christmas, babe."
Carlos pauses his game and looks up at Nick, who's holding out a rather large wrapped box in his direction.
"What... but Christmas isn't another couple of days."
Nick nods. "I know, but since I'm working Christmas Eve and Christmas this year, I wanted to give it to you early."
"I thought we were celebrating next week, instead. That's when we were going to visit your parents." He takes the box anyway. It's heavier than he expected.
"We are, but I didn't think it made sense to lug this there and back. Also since I'm working tomorrow, I wanted to give it to you tonight. I don't trust you to not go rooting around the closet for something and accidentally finding it."
"Oh." Carlos feels a little strange opening the present early. "Should I... save it for Tuesday?"
Nick sits down next to him and kisses him. "Like you'd be able to wait that long."
Carlos thinks that his husband knows him too well, and gingerly tugs at the corner of the wrapping paper. "I can wait."
Nick smirks. "Sure you can, babe."
"I can!" he insists, even as he pulls tugs up the wrapping paper flaps on each end of the box.
Nick just smiles at him, watching him pull the paper off. It's a cardboard box, also taped shut.
"This isn't a box of rocks, is it?"
"No. It's a box of potatoes." Nick's grinning again, but Carlos wouldn't put it past him, and thinks he probably would appreciate a box of vegetables to cook with.
He opens the inner box, and pulls out a VR headset and some controllers. "What..."
"You'd been talking about Beat Saber for a while, and the physician in me thought it would be good for you to have a video game that was also a bit of a workout."
"Dude." Carlos finds himself touched by the gift, and drops the opportunity for a quip about a certain physician being in him. He examines the box before a thought occurs to him. "But we don't have a Playstation."
"I know," Nick says, and Carlos realizes the box isn't empty yet. He sets the headset aside and pulls out the console, as well.
"Dude." He doesn't have words at the moment to express how he's feeling.
"You're welcome," Nick says, grinning.
"I... didn't get you anything nearly this nice." He runs his finger over the box, suddenly feeling extremely guilty about it.
"You get me you, every day, babe. That's the nicest gift in the world."
Carlos blushes and kisses him, putting the box aside and standing. "Still. It's probably only fair that I give you your gift now. But it's really... not... anything."
He heads into the kitchen and digs around in the cabinet with his pans before pulling a box from the back. It was the only place he could think to hide a present that Nick wouldn't look, and it occurs to him too late that he probably wouldn't be able to use it again. He makes a mental note to ask Adam if he can stash gifts at his apartment, for future years.
Nick smiles at him as he sits back down on the couch and hands him the gift, but doesn't comment on the hiding place. "What is it?"
"You want me to tell you what's in the box before you open it?"
"Maybe," he says, but he's already shredding the wrapping paper. Carlos watches him open the box inside and pull out the items, staring at them, a grin on his face. "Babe!"
"I, uh... know you still hate that you have to wear dress shirts and ties, but I thought you could at least have a little fun with it. And, um... the stuffed ones are for your desk." Carlos wonders if he should have gotten Nick something nicer, even though the grin on Nick's face seems to indicate that he likes his present just fine.
Nick holds up the ties, patterned with various viruses, bacteria, and cells, inspecting them before setting them down and picking up two of the giant plush microbes, squeezing them with absolute joy on his face. "Carlos. These are perfect."
"I'm... glad you like them. I was going to get you a new clubbing t-shirt since Joey ruined your favorite one, but I thought it might be better if we went shopping for that together so you could try them on first. So I guess that's kind of part two of your gift."
Nick puts the box down and grabs Carlos, pushing him back against the couch and kissing him forcefully. They're both breathless when they break, and Nick smiles against his lips. "These are perfect. You are perfect. Thank you."
"Thank you, baby. For your presents. And especially for you."
Nick pulls back and smiles. "So, we have some time before bed. Let's set your stuff up and maybe I can get in a round after you."
Carlos laughs. "I see. So it's actually a present for both of us under the guise of you being extra sweet to me."
"Mmm. Like you mind at all, babe."
And Carlos really doesn't.
Carlos pauses his game and stands at the sound of the key in the lock. Even if Nick had to work Christmas Eve, he was glad that Nick's specialty had him working regular hours most of the time, at least, unlike Adam's unreliable and often overnight shifts.
"Welcome home," he says as the door opens and Nick walks through. Even though this is nothing new anymore, his hands still twitch at the sudden need to hold his husband.
"Hey," Nick manages to get out before Carlos swoops in, pushing him against the door and using his body to shut it before claiming his lips, needily. Nick laughs when they break. "What did I do to deserve that?"
"You married me," Carlos grins, his fingers curling in the short hair at the back of Nick's head.
Nick laughs again. "If I'd known it was that easy, I would've done it a long time ago."
"You did. It's been four years."
"Mmm. I see." Nick kisses him, again, more gently this time, before seeming to sniff the air. "Something smells good. Other than you, of course."
"Oh." Carlos blushes. "Your mom used to always make pot roast for Christmas Eve, right? And since you weren't making it home for that, I thought I'd give it a try."
"Babe..." Nick's staring at him with what seems like disbelief. "You didn't have to do that."
"Well, it could still have gone wrong. It seems fairly straightforward, but I've also never done this before, so it might turn out tough, and the potatoes and carrots might be mush."
Nick's hands work their way down Carlos' back to his ass, pulling their hips together, and Nick smirks. "How long until it's done?"
"Um. We have time for some... stuff first." Carlos likes what Nick's doing to him.
Nick kisses him again before dragging him to the bedroom.