This is a short companion ficlet to Reaching Out To You, but that also builds on I Got You Wrong and Set Sail. You should read those works first.
Carlos grabs Nick's hand and squeezes. "I can't believe we're finally here together."
Nick laughs. "I told you it might take me a while, but thank you for continuing to ask."
"I was beginning to think you were lying about Nick going clubbing, man," says Joey as he walks up to the two of them. "He never seemed like the type, anyway. But it's nice to see you again, Nick."
"Excuse me," Nick says, grinning. "I'll have you know that one of the reasons my ex and I got along so well was that we went clubbing together every week. Or just about. Also it's nice to see you again, too."
"I'll believe it when I see it, man. I still don't think you can dance."
"Don't be rude, J." Aditya punches him in the arm as he walks up. "Also you can't dance, so you're one to talk."
"Oh, you're asking for it now!" Joey reaches his fingers out in Aditya's direction, who hides behind Carlos and Nick.
"No! We agreed no more tickling!"
"Calm down, children," Carlos chides, holding his arm out between them and grinning too, despite himself. "We're not waiting for anyone else tonight, right?"
Joey and Aditya shake their heads, and Carlos is about to head in when he spots a familiar face walking toward them, and he can feel his heart drop at the sight of him.
"Tony," he says, the name sounding bitter on his tongue, all hopes that he hadn't also spotted or recognized him dashed. "What are you doing here?"
Nick seems to sense the tension, because his grip on Carlos' hand grows firmer.
Tony stops in front of him, looking him over. "You're looking as good as ever. But I was visiting the city and thought I'd see what the scene was like. What are you doing here?"
"I live here now." Carlos stares him in the eyes, wanting to be defiant, and feeling a tinge of victory when Tony looks away first.
"I'm Nick," Nick says, holding out his free hand, even as his other continues to grip Carlos' firmly. "How do you know Carlos?"
"He's my ex," Carlos says before Tony can say anything. He doesn't want to know what kind of introduction he would have made otherwise, but he's pretty sure it wouldn't have been a pleasant one.
"Ah." Nick's face seems to harden and his outstretched hand drops, and Carlos is glad he'd only talked about Tony in generalities before, not getting into the sordid details of their breakup or how much Tony had ruined his concept of a relationship before Nick came along. He doesn't think he's seen Nick angry before, but he thinks that Nick probably would be now if he had.
"Come on, J," Aditya says, grabbing Joey's arm and pulling him toward the door. "We'll see you two inside."
Carlos nods in their general direction, still not wanting to look away from Tony. Nick's hand is grasping his so tightly now it's starting to hurt.
"I see you finally ditched Adam," Tony says, his tone matter-of-fact but tinged with amusement, and of course he would. Carlos shakes Nick's hand off and hooks his arm around Nick's instead, still needing the comfort but legitimately worrying that Nick was causing some damage.
"Adam is my best friend," Nick says, his voice level but filled with venom, and Carlos is reminded again why he loves this man so much. He probably shouldn't be surprised by the statement, given how much time Nick and Adam spend together and how well they get along, but it's still nice to hear it in words.
"Oh." Tony stares at them for a bit before his face softens, and Carlos doesn't even realize he's holding his breath until he speaks again. "Then I think I owe you an apology, Carlos."
"What?!" That was the last thing he'd expected to hear.
Tony shifts uncomfortably, and Carlos thinks it's the first time he's seen Tony anything but overly self-assured and confident, even in the quieter moments they'd had together as a couple. "I know you probably blame me for a lot of things, and you would probably be right to. But the truth is that I always wanted what was best for you."
Carlos can't help but laugh at that. "Excuse me?"
"It's the truth," Tony says, looking into his eyes now, and Carlos stops laughing at the honesty in them. "I really cared about you, Carlos, and I thought you were too... hung up on Adam. I thought you just needed someone to help you move on from him. I was jealous, yes, but also really just wanting to help. And I legitimately didn't think that anyone would... tolerate the relationship the two of you had."
"I appreciate the fact that my boyfriend loves so fiercely and is so loyal and caring," Nick says, his voice still harsh but his arm relaxing against Carlos'.
"You know that I hated letting you go?" Tony says, ignoring the outburst, and Carlos thinks it's the most honest he's ever been, even while they were dating. "You were a good fuck, sure, but it was more than that. You were... caring. Probably more caring than I deserved. And when you ended things like that, it... hurt."
Carlos feels his anger rising now, hating how they had never talked about this back when it mattered. "Dude, you almost destroyed my friendship with my best friend and made me feel like I was... incapable of being loved by anyone for it. Fuck you, and fuck your... feelings."
Tony just nods. "That's probably fair. I probably deserve that." He looks between Carlos and Nick, and then smiles. "You bagged a good one, Nick. And if the way you're behaving toward me right now is any indication, he did too. You two are good for each other."
Carlos deflates at that, feeling extremely confused but also maybe with a tinge of relief. "Dude. What is going on right now?"
"Things change. I'm sorry for what happened between us, and especially how it ended." Tony shrugs. "Anyway, I think I'll go check out a different club. Have a nice night."
"No," Carlos says, surprising himself, and by the expression on Tony's face and the way Nick stiffens against him, he isn't the only one. "I mean, if you want to stay, I would be... okay with that. Maybe we could talk a bit." He looks over at Nick, who seems to be staring at him now, a smile ghosting his lips. "If it's okay with Nick, anyway."
"Babe. Of course it's okay," Nick says, and Carlos thinks that if he didn't know Nick so well, he'd wonder if that was just a placation. But Nick legitimately seems happy for him, and he knows by now that Nick isn't the jealous type, and not just when it comes to Adam.
Tony nods, smiling now. "I'd like that. If you're sure that's okay."
"I think we left some... loose ends," Carlos says. "I think we'd both feel better if we resolved them."
Tony nods again, and gestures with his arm toward the door, and Carlos lets Nick drag him through it as Tony follows behind them.
And even though it's maybe too early to say for sure, he thinks he might actually be glad they ran into each other tonight.