This is an AU Fic for Falling Into Place, following events if Adam and Chris had been dating (and engaged) after graduation instead of Adam being single. As such, this contains spoilers for and will not make sense without Falling, so you should read that work first.
"Do you want to study together sometime?" Adam isn't sure he should be that straightforward, but he and Nick have basically been inseparable for the past couple of days of classes, and he feels like they really get along. "Literally just studying, I mean," he adds, blushing, in case 'studying' was innuendo in some way, as he finishes packing up his backpack.
Nick chuckles. "Yeah, that could be useful. I think I need some more review on codons. Want to hit the library tomorrow after classes? Or if you didn't have plans today..."
Adam nods, feeling a bit relieved for some reason. "I'm supposed to jump on a video call with my, uh, fiancee Chris later tonight. And I think Carlos was making dinner. So I should probably let both of them know in advance before ditching them for the evening, but tomorrow should work."
"Look who's popular," Nick says, smirking, as they walk out the door together. "A fiancee and a domestic partner." Then his face seems to fall and he blushes. "Sorry! I didn't mean to..."
Adam laughs. "No, dude. That's... I wouldn't exactly call myself popular, but I am really lucky."
"What's she like?" Nick starts, then blushes harder. "Sorry, I mean... if you want to talk about her."
"Chris?" Nick's looking at him with confusion now.
"Oh." Adam can feel his face turn red, despite himself. He and Chris aren't exactly a new thing, but in moments like this, he wishes Chris had a more obviously masculine name. "No, um... Chris is a he."
"Oh!" Nick stops walking, looking mortified. "Oh my god. I'm sorry. I just... assumed..."
Adam shakes his head, patting Nick's shoulder in an effort to be reassuring before he realizes what he's doing. "Dude. Don't worry about it. Actually, that was a whole thing in undergrad where I had to figure out my sexuality. I think I ultimately settled on demihomosexual, since I'm normally attracted to women, but Chris is kind of my one exception for men, but uh... usually when people ask I just say 'bisexual', because it's easier, even though it's not quite right." He shrugs. "Sorry. Don't mean to give you my life's story."
Nick chuckles and starts walking again. "You say that like I mind listening to any of it. But, um... that sounds familiar. Well, not familiar, but I helped my undergrad boyfriend come out before we started dating, so I'm familiar with the struggle, even if my own experience was significantly simpler than that."
Adam just nods, recalling how Nick had started casually bringing up his ex-boyfriends in conversation over the past couple days in a way that Adam had found a little strange at first, but now thinks is actually fairly liberating. He isn't sure how Chris hadn't come up until now, but he thinks maybe he'd been a bit worried about this, despite everything and despite Nick obviously being cool with things.
He also suddenly remembers he had talked about Nicole, feeling like the mention of exes was a prompt, mentioning that he seemed to always somehow find himself in a long-distance relationship, and suddenly understands Nick's confusion.
"Anyway." Nick stops walking at the bus stop, and Adam tells himself to stop feeling guilty about it. "I'll see you tomorrow, Adam. Shoot me a text if you want to play hooky after classes."
"I'm pretty sure studying in the school library is the opposite of hooky, dude, but I definitely will."
Nick nods, and Adam waves as he heads back in the direction of the apartment.
"Are you sure this is okay?" Nick asks as he stops walking behind Adam. Adam stops and turns back to him.
"Dude. I asked him explicitly if it was okay. He's happy for us to study here."
Nick nods, but still looks dubious. "I just don't want to impose on the two of you. I know I'm already imposing on your evening calls with Chris, but Carlos probably wants his time to unwind after work and everything."
"Well, studying in the apartment will make video calls easier, and Carlos always loves company, so I think you're doing the opposite of imposing, dude."
"I'm sure." Adam smiles in a way he hopes is reassuring, and Nick nods, following him the rest of the way down the hallway and into the apartment.
Carlos is sitting on the couch, playing Smash. He pauses the game and grins at the two of them as they enter. "Well, look who it is!"
Adam shrugs off his backpack. "Nick, meet Carlos. Carlos, meet Nick."
"You have a really nice place," Nick says. "Sorry. I mean... hi. It's nice to meet you." He moves around Adam, his hand outstretched.
Carlos stands and shakes it. "Likewise."
"So, uh..." Adam looks around, realizing he hadn't really thought about logistics for studying. "We could go study in my room, or if the dining room table wouldn't bother you too much..."
Carlos shakes his head as he quits the game. "Nope. It's more comfortable out here, and I should start dinner, anyway."
"You're sure?" Nick's looking at Carlos, legitimately concerned. "Don't let us put you out like that."
"Dude. I'm sure. The only thing I need from you is to know if you're staying for dinner."
"Oh." Nick looks over at Adam and shrugs. "I expected I'd just order some delivery."
"Nope. No way. I'm making another attempt at casado tonight, now that I found actual plantains instead of trying those store-bought bananas again."
Nick stuffs his hands into his pockets, which Adam has started learning means he's uncomfortable. "If you're sure it's not too much trouble."
"Shush. Cooking for three isn't different than cooking for two." Carlos grins at him. "As long as you don't mind rice and beans and chicken."
Adam sits down on the couch and pulls some binders out of his backpack. Nick tentatively sits next to him.
"No, that all sounds... great." Nick seems a little more relaxed at the sight of the familiar notebooks and textbooks, at least.
"Thanks for cooking, dude."
Carlos ruffles his hair from behind, and Adam flails his hands vaguely behind him.
"You're welcome, chico."
Adam nods, not looking up from his notes, as Carlos hangs up his phone and stands. "Thanks, dude."
"I should thank you for saving me from cooking tonight."
"Like you mind cooking, dude," Adam says, grinning, although he hopes Carlos' words were a joke.
Carlos grins back and ruffles his hair, and Adam knows they were. "Right. You and your super demanding vegan keto organic juice-only low-sugar gluten-free cleansing diet."
Nick seems to be thinking at that. "That would leave... vegetable juice? You could drink like... kale juice. So maybe that would actually make cooking easier."
Carlos playfully punches Nick's shoulder, who blushes. "Back in a bit."
Adam returns to his quizzing with Nick, not even bothering to look up when Carlos returns and the door opens again.
"Um. Adam?" Nick seems to have stopped asking questions about virology.
"Hm?" He looks up at Nick, who seems to be staring at the door with a befuddled grin on his face. "What?"
Adam turns to see Carlos grinning at him and, behind him, Chris, looking somewhat guilty but also ecstatic to see him. Adam's pretty sure that's mirrored in his own face. He stands, not even caring about the binder that falls to the floor, closing the distance between them and kissing him needily, pushing him back against the door. Carlos chuckles as Adam and Chris break, but Adam can't look away from Chris' eyes, a gentle affectionate smile on his face.
"I missed you." Chris shrugs. "I didn't want to wait until Christmas."
"Dude. You..." He's hit with a sudden realization. "That's why you were so insistent I study at home tonight."
"I figured you would anyway, but uh... sorry if I made you think something was wrong."
"Well, I wasn't sure, since you so rarely insist on needing to talk, but... dude."
"The food isn't actually here yet," Carlos says, pulling Adam out of his thoughts, although he still refuses to look away from Chris' eyes. "So if you two wanted to have some alone time before we eat."
"Um..." Adam and Chris both blush, but he suddenly feels guilty, glancing over at Nick, who just smiles at them.
"Go spend some time with your fiancee, Adam. I'll get Carlos to quiz me instead." Nick's grinning at Carlos now, who laughs.
"Right. 'Tell me the taxonomic ranks in order.'"
Nick raises his hand and waves it around. "Oh! Teacher! Pick me! I know them!"
Adam laughs and kisses Chris again, quickly, before taking his hand and dragging him to the bedroom.
"I'm surprised my ex hadn't come up in conversation yet, chico."
"Hm?" Adam glances over at Carlos, who seems to be done eating. That shouldn't be too surprising though... he hadn't let go of Chris' hand throughout the meal, and eating with his left hand was a bit more difficult than he'd expected, so he was behind everyone else. "I'm not exactly in the habit of talking about assholes, dude. Plus your ex isn't really any of my business, anyway."
He'd also been somewhat avoiding the subject because it felt like it would be outing Carlos to bring up an ex-boyfriend, and that wasn't his place.
Carlos just shrugs. "Nick was surprised when I brought him up. His ex seems like a nice guy. And he's come up in conversation before." Adam wonders how much of the surprise was the revelation of Carlos' sexuality.
"I'm sorry you had such a bad experience, Carlos." Nick seems to hestitate before patting Carlos' shoulder.
"Yeah, well. Between Adam and Chris, I had my hands full, so it was probably better that I got that bad experience out of the way and moved on to not dating."
"Why don't you date Joey, dude?" Adam isn't sure why he's bringing this up, and chides himself for speaking with a mouth full of food. "You go clubbing together every few days or every week."
Carlos seems to laugh in disbelief at that. "Chico. You've met Joey. Can you imagine?"
Adam can, actually, but he supposes he doesn't really know Joey all that well to know enough why Carlos thinks they wouldn't get along. "I guess not?"
"Joey is great but he's also a bit like taking care of a kid. Reminds me of Tom, actually, when he'd get drunk. I want a partner, not a responsibility." Then he shrugs and grins and ruffles Adam's hair, and Adam doesn't have a spare hand to bat him away with, so he just makes an annoyed noise instead. "Someone like you. You're smart and responsible and have your life together and are also just legitimately great."
"Dude..." Adam blushes, and Chris kisses his cheek.
"Oh, did Adam tell you how he and Chris met?" Carlos seems gleeful at that, and Adam cringes.
"He didn't," Nick says, grinning, and Adam wants to disappear into his seat.
He settles for stuffing another fork-full of food into his mouth instead, focusing on his chewing and the feel of Chris' hand in his.
"It's all thanks to me. They were roommates Chris' Freshman year because Adam and I were supposed to live together at the frat house, but some renovations happened, and that didn't work out."
"Frat house?" Nick looks over at Adam, in disbelief. "You?"
"I, um... had a very interesting undergrad experience." He isn't sure why that hadn't come up in conversation with Nick before, either.
"Anyway," Carlos continues. "I came out to them... that's a long story I won't bore you with at the moment... and Chris had come out to him before that, and I guess being surrounded by gay men just got him thinking about his own sexuality."
Adam wants to object, but he thinks that's actually a fairly accurate description of what had happened.
"So Adam and I went to his parents' for Christmas that year, and he kind of confessed his interest in Chris to me. And I made him watch all the gay porn, just to make sure."
"Dude!" Adam's blushing now, pretty sure that detail wasn't necessary, but Nick is grinning at it.
"Yeah, yeah, chico. Anyway. You figured out you liked Chris, but only Chris, but that didn't matter because you liked him. And then you two became a thing and you still weren't sure for a while but then it all worked out. So here we are!" Carlos pats his shoulder. "Like I said. All thanks to me."
Adam wants to object to that, too, but when Carlos states it like that, he isn't sure he can. He settles for another bite of food, instead.
"Sounds like quite a romance," Nick says, smiling at the two of them. Chris blushes, too.
"Yeah, well. Sexuality is complicated, is mostly what I learned. And also it doesn't matter because I love him, and I'm attracted to him, and whatever we have works, so..." Adam shrugs. "So it's just nice."
"So, what do you do, Chris?" Nick smiles, then seems to hesitate. "Sorry. I know you're still a student, in computer science. What are you looking to do afterward?"
Chris starts talking about potential post-graduation plans that he and Adam had already discussed, and Adam eats his food instead, in silence but with a full heart.
"Thanks for coming, dude," Adam says to Nick as he shuts the door behind him.
He turns back to Chris and Carlos. Chris is staring at him from the couch, and blushes when Adam meets his gaze, even though Adam really doesn't mind that look at all.
"Can I ask you something, chico?" Carlos seems to be lost in thought.
"Yeah. What's up, dude?"
"Nick's single, right?"
"Yeah?" Adam's pretty sure he knows where this is going, and he thinks he realizes why his subconscious had brought up the question of Joey.
"How would you feel if I, um... asked him out on a date?"
Adam sits down on the couch next to him, and ruffles his hair. The smile on his face is so large it's almost painful. "Dude!"
Carlos blushes. "I, um... he seems really nice. And he reminds me of you in all of the ways that I said when I said I didn't want to date Joey. So I just..." He shrugs.
"Dude. I think that would be great."
"I'm just worried I'm going to... ruin things for you if it goes badly." Carlos looks a bit worried now. "Like you two are such good friends."
Adam thinks for a bit about how to be reassuring. "Chris and I were good friends before we started dating. I had the same worry. Well, I guess not exactly the same worry, but similar."
Chris smiles at him and his hand finds Adam's. Adam squeezes it.
"Still, chico. I don't want to get in the way of something great that you have."
"Dude." Adam puts his hands on Carlos' shoulders, making him look at him. "Just like I figured love was worth the risk with Chris, I think it's definitely worth the risk here, for you. Besides, I would choose you over Nick any day, always, so don't let my friendship with him and that hypothetical 'what if' get in the way of you finding your happiness, okay?"
Carlos wipes away a tear and smiles. "Fine, chico. And... thanks."
Adam pulls him into a hug. "I love you, dude."
Carlos sniffles on his shoulder. "I love you too, chico."
"You're sure he'll be here, tonight?"
Adam turns back to Nick, following behind him, one hand in a pocket and one hand clutching the bouquet of flowers so tightly that Adam's a little worried about it.
"Yeah. He was going to have a quiet evening in, tonight, since Chris is in town." Adam doesn't want to spoil Carlos' surprise, but can't help but think back to how he and Chris had proposed to each other at the same time.
"Still. Fridays are normally his clubbing nights, right? Even if he's here now, I don't want to keep him from going out later. If, um... if he says yes."
He'll say yes, Adam doesn't say, but the thought of how utterly considerate Nick is being to Carlos makes him want to spill the beans then and there.
"Well, you can tell him that yourself," he says instead, and Nick nods.
Adam stops at the apartment door, key in hand. "Ready for this?"
Nick takes in a deep breath. "Yeah."
Adam opens the door, and Carlos quickly stands from the couch as Chris stands more slowly next to him. Adam notes with satisfaction that both Carlos and Nick had chosen pink roses.
"So, I..." Nick starts, walking in behind Adam, but stopping when he sees Carlos, disbelief on his face. "What?"
Carlos blushes and holds his flowers out. "Um. I was... hoping you'd go on a date with me. Sometime. But from the looks of things, you were about to ask me the same thing."
Chris walks up to Adam, kissing him gently.
"And I think that's our cue," Adam says, wanting to leave the two of them to discuss things alone. "I'll send you a text when we're heading back after dinner tonight. Just in case."
"Chico..." Carlos blushes harder, still not looking away from Nick, who seems to be staring back at Carlos, equally transfixed.
"Have a nice night," Chris says, smiling, taking Adam's hand as they walk back out the door together.
There's no response to Adam's text, and the apartment is empty when he and Chris return after dinner and a walk, and he thinks that's a good sign. He spots one bundle of roses -- presumably the ones Nick had gotten for Carlos -- crammed into a glass on the counter.
"I'm really not looking forward to losing you in a couple days," he says, turning his attention instead to Chris.
Chris nods. "Same. But we'll see each other again in two months."
"You're still sure your mom won't kill me for having you over Christmas?"
Chris shakes his head and smiles. "We'll have to make it up to her later, but she understands. It'd be nice to spend some more time with your family, anyway."
"Yeah." Adam kisses him, gently. "Bed? Not to sleep, but um..."
"Bed sounds perfect," Chris says, as Adam blushes, and they walk to his bedroom together.
"Good morning, chico. And Chris," Carlos says, grinning at them as he fries bacon at the stove.
Chris yawns as he and Adam walk out of Adam's bedroom and sit at the dining table.
"Morning. Smells good, dude."
"I, um... invited Nick over for breakfast. Is that okay?" Carlos looks a little guilty, and Adam isn't sure why he would be.
"Dude. Why wouldn't that be okay?"
Carlos shrugs, turning back to the bacon. "Normally we ask each other first before bringing over visitors."
"Well, I don't think you need to ask to bring over your... boyfriend?"
Even though Carlos is facing away from him, Adam can tell he's blushing. "Yeah. We, um... talked for a bit, and then got dinner, and went back to his place to talk some more, so we could give you and Chris some privacy. We didn't exactly discuss terminology yet, but I think 'boyfriend' is appropriate."
Adam is pretty sure they'd done more than just talk, but resists the urge to tease him about it. "I'm happy for you, dude," Adam says, squeezing Chris' hand next to him and feeling like he's bursting with joy this morning.
"So. Over hard and scrambled, right?" Carlos asks, changing the subject, before his phone rings. "And I think that's Nick."
Adam stands, kissing Chris quickly. "I'll go down and get him. And yes, unless Chris is tired of scrambled eggs."
Chris shakes his head, and Adam grabs his keys before heading downstairs.
Nick is waiting in front of the building, holding what looks like a glass vase, and be blushes when Adam walks out the door.
"Good morning. I, uh..." Nick shrugs. "I realized yesterday that I should have gotten him a vase too, for the flowers, so this seemed appropriate." He shakes his head and smiles, following Adam back into the building and into the elevator. "I hope you and Chris had a nice night."
"We did, thanks. Sounds like you two did, too."
Nick blushes again. "We did. He's... wonderful."
Adam pats Nick's shoulder. "He definitely is, dude. And I know this goes without saying, because I know you and I know what kind of person you are, but treat him right, okay? He's been burned in the past, so it says a lot about how much he trusts you to put himself out there again, for you."
Nick nods. "I know. And, um... I know he was worried about you and me, too, and I want to also promise that I'll do everything I can to make sure our friendship also stays strong. And I don't ever want to... interfere with the two of you, either. Please tell me off if you feel like I'm monopolizing his time or pulling him away from you or anything."
The elevator dings as it arrives at their floor, and Adam isn't sure he can express how touched he is by the sentiment. "Dude... You're... That's the most considerate thing I think anyone has ever said to me, about me and him."
"Well. I just... don't want a repeat of his ex-boyfriend."
Adam nods, understanding, even though he and Carlos had never talked about that breakup, and Carlos had never said outright that it was because of the friendship that the two of them had, but he'd inferred it anyway from the way events had unfolded. "I don't think there's any way you ever could be."
Nick blushes again, following Adam into the apartment. The sizzling bacon is accompanied now by a pan of eggs.
"Hey, babe," Nick says, holding out the vase in Carlos' direction. Adam doesn't miss how Carlos' eyes seem to light up, either at the words or at the gift.
"Dude. You didn't have to get me anything else..."
"Well, I thought you might need the drinking glass back to use, so." He shrugs, smiling when Carlos puts down his spatula and pulls him into an embrace and a kiss.
Adam rejoins Chris, who takes his hand in his, trying not to watch Carlos and Nick as they break, and Carlos puts the vase down on the counter.
"So. I realized I don't actually know your egg preferences, because we've never had breakfast before. Adam over there is getting over hard, because he thinks undercooked yolks are a health hazard, and Chris is getting scrambled. What do you want?"
"Oh, um." Nick seems to still be a little distracted by Carlos' arms around him. "Anything is fine."
"Not what I asked." Carlos grins.
"Um. I usually have sunny side up. I like dipping toast in the yolks." Nick looks a little guilty at that, but Carlos grins.
"Dude! Me too. It's all warmed up enough and whatever to kill the bacteria anyway, right?" Carlos kisses him again, quickly, before returning to the pans, and Nick sits next to Adam at the table, smiling now.
"So, I..." Nick stops talking and frowns at Adam. "Sorry, but your shirt is on inside out, Adam."
"Oh." Adam had grabbed one quickly this morning after hearing Carlos busying himself in the kitchen. "Thanks, dude." He pulls it off and swaps it around before pulling it back on, and Nick looks away, but blushes, and Adam realizes too late that maybe he should have done that more in private.
"So, I... was wondering if you had plans today, Carlos."
"Only to spend them with you, unless you and Adam need some alone time with your books today," Carlos says, and even without seeing his face, Adam can tell he's grinning.
"Double date somewhere?" Adam proposes, pulling Chris closer to him, who smiles. "Although if you'd prefer some time with just the two of you..."
Nick shakes his head. "No, I think that would be nice."
Carlos nods in agreement as he slides some eggs and bacon onto a plate and sets it in front of Adam.
"Sounds like a plan, chico. Over hard. Scrambled is next. Toast is coming."
"I'm really going to miss you," Chris says, staring at the floor, his hands clasped together.
"Same, dude." Adam hestitates for a bit, before deciding to screw his discomfort with the extremely public setting. "Can I kiss you?"
Chris looks up at him, smiling, closing the distance between them, and Adam's arms wrap automatically around him as their lips meet. It's surprisingly gentle for how needy he thinks he actually feels at the moment, and he's breathless when they break.
"I love you," he says, feeling like he doesn't tell Chris that enough, one hand fiddling with his engagement watch behind Chris' back.
Chris just smiles back, kissing him again gently before pulling away and grabbing the handle of his bag. "I love you, too."
He watches Chris make his way into the security line, looking back at him as he pulls out his boarding pass and ID.
"This was a really great week," Carlos says, grinning, as he throws an arm over Adam's shoulders.
Adam blushes, his mind jumping for some reason to this morning, when he'd been woken up by a blowjob. "Yeah. It really was."
They stand there in silence until Chris disappears behind the security scanners before Adam finally turns and heads back toward the train to the BART station.
"Do you and Nick have any plans today, dude?"
Carlos shakes his head. "We figured too much of a good thing might be pushing our luck, so today's just me and you, chico."
"As much as I would never complain about seeing Chris, and about you spending time with your boyfriend, that's actually really nice, too."
"What do you want to do?" Carlos ruffles his hair, and Adam bats his hand away.
"Brunch, and then maybe we can wander Golden Gate Park?" Adam feels like he doesn't get outside enough.
"Sounds like a plan, chico."
"Chico. You have to try these eggs."
Adam laughs. "You know how I feel about runny yolks, dude. And I'm pretty sure that's a crucial part of Eggs Benedict."
"Still. Properly poaching eggs is so hard, and these are perfect." Carlos' smile turns into something else -- amusement? -- as he looks at something over Adam's shoulder. "And look who it is."
Adam turns to see Nick, looking sheepish as he slows down to a stop from his run near their table, breathing heavily.
"Hey," Nick says. "I promise I'm not stalking you or anything. The Embarcadero is just a convenient place to run."
Carlos chuckles. "Well, if you were stalking me, I'm not sure I'd mind. Come try a bite of these eggs!"
"Leave him alone, dude," Adam teases. "The man can't even run in peace without you pushing your food on him."
Nick blushes, but obliges, chewing thoughtfully. "Hm. This hollandaise has something unusual in it. Dill?"
"Dude!" Carlos' eyes seem to grow wide. "That's what it is! I have to try and recreate these now."
Nick chuckles, patting Carlos' shoulder. "Have a nice breakfast. I'll see you tomorrow, Adam. And probably tomorrow, babe?"
"I look forward to it, dude," Carlos says, and the two of them watch Nick continue his run down the sidewalk.
"So," Adam says, grinning, liking the way Carlos' face softens as he watches Nick. "You were so insistent on taking credit for me and Chris getting together. I'm going to take full credit for this, now, especially in my best man speech when you two get married."
"Shut up, chico," Carlos says, blushing and turning away, but he's smiling. "Also I like that you assume you're going to be my best man."
Adam notes that he's not objecting to the implication that he and Nick would get married someday. "Right. I forgot. You were going to ask Joey."
Carlos laughs at that, and they both return to their food. And as Carlos chews, and their eyes meet, Adam's pretty sure Carlos is communicating a silent 'Thank you'.
He smiles and nods.
You're more than welcome, dude.