This is an AU Fic following On My Way. (In other words, an AU of an AU of Falling Into Place that is not canon with any of those works, because I don't think Adam and Nick would actually ever get together.) As such, this contains spoilers for those two works, so you should read them first.
Adam wakes up in a cold sweat, sitting up suddenly in bed. He squeezes his eyes shut, trying to forget the dream he had, although the mess in his underwear was an inconvenient reminder.
He doesn't bother changing them, falling back into bed instead, not wanting to think about how this wasn't the first erotic dream he'd had of Nick, and feeling even more guilty about it now than the first two times.
It wasn't his first time having erotic dreams about another man -- he'd had a similar experience in undergrad, his sophomore year, about Chris, shortly after Carlos had come out to him. He'd pushed it aside then as his libido randomly asserting itself, and after having some alone time with an adult video afterward, it hadn't happened again.
He closes his eyes again, telling himself he'd crank one out tomorrow, and that he was just feeling lonely.
"Hey, chico." Carlos sounds just as happy to talk to him as always, despite the length of time it's been since their last call. "How are things?"
"Not bad," Adam says, wishing he could just cut to the chase, despite also really wanting to catch up a bit with Carlos. "I was just thinking of you."
"Well, you're always welcome to come visit again, of course, but I guess finding time is going to be difficult, now."
"Yeah." Adam had taken some time over the summer to pay Carlos and Malik a visit, and also get some sightseeing done in Chicago. But then he'd come home feeling somehow even lonelier than before, despite Nick being here, and he isn't sure another trip out would be so good for him. "How have things been with you the past couple months?"
Carlos talks at him for a while about his job and Malik's recent coworker drama, and Adam tries his best to listen in, but his mind keeps being drawn back to Nick, and worrying that Nick would return home from his run at any point before he could get to the subject.
"Okay, chico. What's wrong?"
"What?" Adam wonders if he'd missed an important question.
"You're distracted. I can tell, even over the phone. What's up, dude?"
"I, um..." He hates how well Carlos can still read him, and idly wonders if Nick can read him in the same way. He wonders if Nick already knows. "Can I ask you something, dude?"
"What is it, chico?"
"Can you be... gay for one person?"
Carlos is quiet for a bit, but the response shouldn't surprise Adam when he speaks. "You're interested in Nick, aren't you?"
It shouldn't surprise him, but it still does. "I don't know, dude! That's not a thing, right? I'm straight. I'm attracted to women. I haven't dated a woman since Nicole, but still, in the abstract, I date women."
"Maybe you're not as straight as you think you are, Adam." Carlos' voice is gentle, and should be reassuring, but it just makes him panic even more.
"Dude. I'm 24 years old. You don't... discover your sexuality at 24, do you?"
"I honestly don't know, chico. But it could be a thing. Are you physically attracted to him?"
Adam thinks the answer should be an obvious 'no', but then he thinks about the way he'd stared more than once at Nick as he'd emerged from his bedroom in a tight t-shirt and sweatpants, or the way Adam feels looking at Nick when they were both sweaty after a run, or how he'd been inexplicably turned one one time when Nick had emerged from his bedroom wet and in nothing but a towel and asking Adam to borrow some shampoo. "Maybe."
Carlos seems to laugh on the other end. "That's not a 'no', so I'm going to assume you're doing that thing in your head where you're thinking over reasons it should be 'yes' and not liking what they're suggesting. So then what's the problem?"
"I don't do that!" Adam huffs, feeling like indignation was easier than answering Carlos' question.
"Sure, dude." Carlos' voice is teasing. "Fine. But really. Nick's gay, right?"
"Yeah." Adam remembers how Nick had randomly brought up ex-boyfriends in their first few conversations together, maybe trying to feel out Adam's discomfort. He'd done everything to reassure Nick that he was totally cool with everything, of course, and it hadn't come up again.
"So ask him out. What's the worst that could happen?"
"Dude! He's my best friend!" That part slips out, and Adam feels momentarily mortified when he remembers who he's talking to, but Carlos doesn't seem phased by it.
"So? Isn't it worth some risk to find out if he could be something more?"
Adam's distracted by the sound of the key in the door. "I have to go, dude."
"Call me again when he's not around if you want to talk. Okay?" Carlos says, and Adam hates how much Carlos knows him.
"Yeah. We should catch up more often too. I know that's my fault, but..." He shrugs, waving at Nick as he walks in the door, and tearing his gaze away from his sweaty, tight running shirt.
"Do you want me to schedule some times to call you, chico? I haven't been, because I always feel like I'd be interrupting you, especially given the time difference."
"Hi, Carlos," Nick says, pulling off his shirt as he walks into his bedroom, and Adam doesn't even realize he's staring until he realizes he's looking at the closed bedroom door.
"I, uh... is that too much of an imposition, dude?" Adam says, instead of conveying Nick's greeting, his cheeks red now.
"I'd be happy to, chico. Next Saturday, same time?"
"I look forward to it," Adam says, realizing only after he'd hung up that he hadn't said 'thank you', and feeling like the conversation left him with more questions than answers.
Carlos does call the following Saturday, as promised, but they don't talk about Nick, or sexuality, instead having a casual conversation about Carlos' recent cooking adventures that just make Adam miss him more.
But he almost thinks he's able to move away from the conversation, and his whatever-his-feelings-were with Nick, until he and Nick are sitting on a couch one evening, eating their takeout and watching some random TV show in a break from studying. He glances over at Nick, who licks some sauce from his lips, and he feels a sudden need to kiss him that convinces him that he can't keep ignoring whatever's going on here.
"Can we talk, dude?"
Nick looks a little surprised, but nods, turning off the TV and turning to face him. "Yeah?"
"I, uh..." Adam blushes, staring down at his food, unsure how to start. It doesn't help that Nick is looking at him with sympathy despite not knowing anything that's going on. "Can I ask you something?"
"Nothing's ever stopped you before." Nick smirks, and Adam hates what that look does to him.
"When did you... realize you liked guys?"
Nick's face does something Adam can't identify, but it seems to settle on bemused. "That's not something I ever expected to hear from you. Um. Probably late elementary school or early middle school? I just found myself noticing men in the same way I guess my friends were noticing women, and then I figured it was a thing, and went from there."
He doesn't ask Why? even though Adam wants him to.
"Okay, um. Sorry. I know it's not fair for me to ask you any of this, but uh... do you think it's possible to... find out later in life?"
"Honestly? I don't know." Nick seems to think. "I guess it's always possible? Some people think sexuality is more fluid, or maybe for some people it is. But I've never been attracted to women, and I'm still not, so my sexuality at least isn't in that category."
He still doesn't ask Why?, and now Adam really wishes he would.
"Okay." Adam takes a deep breath. "I need to be honest with you."
"You've always been honest with me, Adam."
That makes him feel better, at least. "I've always thought of myself as straight. I find women attractive. I still find women attractive. My, uh, admittedly single relationship was with a woman. But lately, some things have made me... question that."
It's as close to an admission as he wants to get at the moment, but Nick nods, seemingly understanding. "Okay. If I can be very straightforward for a second... is that something me?"
Adam looks away, not wanting to see his face when he answers. "Yes."
He doesn't dare breathe, his brain running down multiple scenarios, including the frankly improbable ones of Nick kissing him. This isn't some romantic film, Adam reminds himself. This is reality.
"Okay," Nick says, finally. "Then I need to be honest, too."
Adam looks up at him, and Nick is staring at his food, biting his lip, and he thinks that's probably not a good sign.
"I can't be someone's... experiment, Adam. And if I'm still being honest, I value your friendship too much to risk ruining it over helping you figure this out. And I'm sorry, because I know that's not the answer you wanted."
Adam feels his heart fall anyway, even though it's what he'd expected. "No, dude. I didn't... ask, or tell you, because I wanted that from you. That wouldn't be fair to you. I just... needed to get it out there."
Nick nods, looking up at him and smiling. "Then, if it helps, I don't think that needs to change anything between us. I still think you're a great best friend."
Adam smiles back, liking that. "Thanks, dude. You too."
Adam approaches the situation, like most things, analytically, which is why he finds himself on a date with another guy a couple weeks later, his heart pounding in his chest the entire time they talk and as the guy -- William -- holds his hand on the table and gently strokes his fingers in a way that should feel nice but instead just makes him panic.
This isn't right, he tells himself, feeling the entire time like he's playing a trick on the poor guy, especially when they're standing outside afterward and William is looking at him expectantly, as if waiting for a good night kiss.
He makes an excuse instead, and leaves, and calls Carlos on his phone as he walks back home and his heart rate starts to return to normal.
"I went on a date with a guy," Adam says when Carlos picks up, not even bothering with a response to Carlos' greeting. "And it was... terrible."
"That seems just like you, chico," Carlos says. They'd talked about Adam's confession to Nick on their regularly scheduled call, and Adam doesn't even realize tonight was another scheduled one until he thinks about it. He counts himself lucky that he'd ended the date when he did. Carlos would have called in the middle of something, otherwise, and that would have been awkward.
"I don't know. I can't just like one guy, can I?"
"Maybe Nick is your exception, dude. Maybe you're just really far to one side of the Kinsey scale and need the right person to fall for."
Adam suddenly remembers his dream with Chris, years ago, and wonders if it was significant. "Actually, I, um... Nick isn't the first."
"Oh?" Carlos legitimately sounds surprised at this. "Chico. How have I never heard about this?"
"Because I was embarrassed and pushed it aside and never thought about it again, myself," he says, blushing even now at the memory. "But I had a, um... dream. About Chris. When were still living together."
"Ah," Carlos says before falling silent. Adam expects Carlos to tease him about having a thing for his roommates, or ask if he'd had similiar thoughts about Carlos, but instead he seems to understand how distressing the situation was to Adam.
"Maybe you're right? Maybe it's just very specific guys? What do I do, then?" Adam doesn't like the silence.
"You've already said Nick isn't open to anything, because you're not sure, right?"
"Right." Adam hates the way his chest feels tight at that.
"So then it sounds like your option is getting over him. Or distracting yourself by going out with some women, instead." Carlos' voice sounds strangely strained, and Adam wonders why.
"How do I get over him when I live with the guy, dude? And we legitimately get along great other than... this, so don't say the answer is to move out."
"You can live with people you have a crush on without anything coming from it, chico," Carlos says, and from his tone of voice, Adam suddenly realizes he's speaking from personal experience.
"I don't want to talk about it," Carlos says, more or less confirming Adam's thought. "But I'm just saying."
Adam sighs as he approaches his building, reaching into his pocket for his keys. "Thanks, dude. That actually... really helps."
"Can I call you back in a bit? I'm home now, and usually lose reception in the elevator."
"Sure, dude. I'll be here."
Adam hangs up, Carlos' words running through his head as he rides the elevator up and walks down to the hallway to the apartment.
He opens the door, and is surprised to see Nick, who jumps up from his seat on the couch at the sight of him.
"Dude," Adam says, cautiously shutting the door behind him. "I thought you were going out for dinner."
Nick shakes his head, moving in front of Adam and stuffing his hands into his pockets. "I... I don't care if I have to be an experiment for you, Adam."
"Wha... what?" Adam tries to meet his gaze, but Nick stares at the ground.
"It's not fair of me, I know. I'm supposed to be happy for you that you're putting yourself out there and trying to figure things out, and I should be supportive of that. But all I could think about while you were on your date was you kissing him, and feeling the biggest pit in my stomach at the thought. I've been... sitting on that couch the entire time, worried you wouldn't come home tonight, and worried you'd call me saying you had a boyfriend now, and all I could think about how that should have been me. So I don't care, Adam."
"Dude. I..." Adam's honestly not sure how to respond to so much honesty. "I don't want to screw up our friendship."
"Wade and I are still on good terms," Nick says, still not meeting his gaze, and Adam remembers that Wade is Nick's ex.
"And you're right that it's not fair to you. I can't ask you to take a risk on me like that."
Nick shakes his head and looks up at Adam, and Adam's breath is almost taken away by the need in his eyes. "You're not the one asking. I'm telling you that I want to take that risk."
"I didn't kiss him, dude," Adam says, not sure why those particular words came to mind first. "I'm not interested in him. Only in you."
"Shut up and kiss me."
Adam doesn't need to be asked twice, closing the remaining distance between them and closing his eyes as their lips meet. It's needy and somehow the hottest thing he'd ever done and Adam doesn't know how he ever had any doubts about this, some corner of his mind noting how comfortably and perfectly Nick fits into his arms.
They break eventually, Adam gasping for breath and looking at Nick through half-lidded eyes. Nick smiles at him, looking far more put together than he'd expect for someone who just had a world-altering kiss.
Or maybe that was just him.
"Was that... okay?" Nick's smile is tinged with worry, and Adam doesn't think he has words at the moment. Instead his hand finds Nick's and guides it to his crotch, where he's pretty sure his sudden arousal speaks for itself.
He worries that it's too much, too fast, and extremely inappropriate given the situation, but then Nick swallows hard and kisses him again, more gently this time, his hands running up Adam's back and Adam pulling Nick against him and all of it just feeling so right.
They break again, this time Nick trailing gentle kisses down his neck, and Adam groans at the feeling. "Dude..."
"I don't want to take things too fast for you," Nick says into his shoulder.
Adam wants to say that he doesn't mind, and that he'd want nothing more right now than to fuck Nick into his mattress, but he lets his rational side take over for a bit. "I... don't mind, but I think we probably need to talk, first."
Nick nods, stepping back but looking mildly disappointed. "No, you're right."
Adam sits on the couch, and Nick sits next to him, so close that their legs are brushing, and Adam definitely doesn't mind that. "I, um... I'm pretty sure this will work, dude. I'm clearly attracted to you, because, um..." He trails off and blushes as Nick's gaze drops to his crotch, where his arousal is still extremely apparent through his jeans. "And I know we get along really well, in general. But I still don't want you to feel like I'm... misleading you."
Nick smiles at him, gently. "That's really thoughtful of you, but I don't think you are. Let me know if I've gotten any of this wrong..." He puts his hand on Adam's, seemingly out of a need to touch him that Adam can entirely relate to at the moment, and somehow this feels entirely unlike William at the restaurant. "You've always thought of yourself as straight. You've only ever found women physically attractive. But you find me attractive, and you're interested in trying out a relationship with me, including the physical parts. But you can't promise anything because you don't know how any of that will go or if your attraction is potentially something transient. Is that... about right?"
"Yeah." Adam thinks he's covered all of it.
"Okay. Then I think you're not misleading me, in any way. Can I be honest with you about some things, too?"
"Please do, dude." Adam tries not to be distracted by how nice Nick's hand feels against his, but he turns it anyway so their fingers are intertwined, and Nick smiles at that before growing serious.
"Um. I have to start by saying that I'm still not... thrilled about being an experiment for you. I've never dated someone who wasn't out before, or who wasn't sure about their sexuality. So if we're going to do this, I need you be brutally honest with me, always, about how things are going. I know you're not the kind of person who ignores problems hoping they go away, but in this case, I need you to make an extra effort, okay?"
Adam nods. "Yeah. That's fair, and understandable. I can promise you right now that kissing you was, um... the hottest thing I've ever done, somehow. And you holding my hand feels right and completely opposite everything I was feeling on my date tonight. So I have no doubts, at the moment."
"That's good," Nick says, smiling again before growing serious again. "And, um. It's important to me that I'm a part of any serious boyfriend's family. Please don't interpret that to mean that you have to... come out or whatever right now, especially while you're still working through things for yourself, but I need to know that this isn't a dealbreaker for you. That if things work out, we're not going to be doing some sort of 'here's my friend Nick' game during the holidays or whatever."
Adam shakes his head. "No, dude. I... I don't think I want to tell them before I get a bit more of an understanding of this for myself, but I would never ask you to hide like that from my parents, or any of my family."
"Okay." Nick takes a deep breath, then seems to blush. "Um. Last thing. Question. Have you... sorry, no, I know you haven't had any sexual experience with men." Adam blushes at that, too. "And I'm definitely not implying we have to do anything until you're ready, but... do you think you'd be into penetrative sex, and if so, topping or bottoming?"
"Um." Adam isn't 100% sure he has it right, even though he's pretty sure he gets the idea. "I, um... okay, this might be inappropriate, but you've touched my dick through my jeans, so, um..." He blushes harder, not sure why his mouth is doing this. "I had a dream about you, and I was, um... inside you. So I guess that's topping?"
Nick nods. "Okay. Uh. I'm going to be honest here too and say I'm not... thrilled about that either? I typically top, but I also dated a guy once who didn't bottom, and we found other things to do, so it's not a dealbreaker for me, as long as you're okay not always doing that, and mostly sticking to other things, instead."
"I, uh... can we file that under the bucket of things I need to work out? I hadn't really thought that far ahead."
"That's fair." Nick smiles at him again. "Okay. I'm done interrogating you now."
Adam laughs at that, despite his nerves. "That's good. Can I, uh... kiss you again?"
Nick's hand leaves his and finds his cheek, the fingers gently running down his sideburns as Nick gently leans toward him. "I thought you'd never ask."
"You really don't have to do this bab... Adam."
Adam shakes his head, missing the feeling of Nick's hand in his already, and resisting the urge to reach out for it despite his pounding chest. "I know. But I want to."
"Is it easier if I'm there with you, or if I wait inside?"
"Come with me," Adam says, holding out his hand, because screw it. If he was coming out, it didn't matter anyway.
Nick smiles and takes it, their fingers slotting together in the usual way that's comfortable for him now. Nick's hand squeezes his, and it brings him back to last night, when Nick had taken his ass for the first time, their fingers similiarly intertwined at Adam's side as Nick looked into his eyes. He thought he'd hate the experience, but for some reason, that too felt right with Nick. He wasn't sure it was something he necessarily wanted to do all the time, but he thinks he understands now what Nick had meant when he said he was sometimes in the mood for Adam to be inside him, because he had definitely felt the same way.
Sex in general was the area he'd maybe been the most worried about, but all of that went away after Nick blew him the first night, and especially after they'd dry humped to completion the following night. He thinks simple things like handjobs shouldn't feel as good as they do, but somehow it's Nick, and it being Nick made everything feel right.
He takes a deep breath, pushing the thoughts aside especially given the fact he was about to see his parents, and walking through the front door of the building to the waiting car.
"Hi, honey," his mom says, smiling at him and only looking a little taken aback at the fact that he was holding hands with Nick.
"Hi. Um. This is my boyfriend, Nick." He gets it all out in one go before he can think twice about it, and he can feel his breath unstick in his chest as his mom's face seems to light up.
"We've heard so much about you! I didn't know you were..." She stops, smiling at them. "Sorry. That's rude of me. It's very nice to finally meet you, Nick."
"It is," Adam's dad says, standing beside her now and holding out his hand.
Nick smiles back, releasing Adam's hand and shaking his dad's hand. "It's very nice to meet you too, Mr. Prewitt."
"Please. That's Denise and Scott to you," his mom says. "Were you joining us for the holidays this year?"
"Oh, no." Nick looks surprised at the thought. "I have a flight tonight. Adam just wanted to introduce me, since we missed each other last year."
"Well, then it's very nice to meet you. We'll have to catch up more properly next time."
"I look forward to it." Nick smiles at Adam and seems to hesitate before kissing him, quickly. "I'll see you in a few weeks, babe."
"I'll miss you, dude," Adam says, not caring anymore, wrapping Nick up in his arms and kissing him more properly.
Nick chuckles as they break, squeezing his hand again before waving to Adam's parents and walking back into the building.
"Let's get your bag in the car, Adam. We're parked illegally," his dad says, and Adam seizes onto the temporary diversion.
He loads his bag and climbs into the front seat as his dad pulls out and starts the drive home. It's quiet for a while, and he appreciates the fact that his parents are waiting for him to speak.
"It's really new," he says, feeling like that's a good place to start. "It's only been about a month."
"Well, we're both happy for you, honey," says his mom, and his dad nods in agreement.
"All we care about is that you're happy, son. If Nick makes you happy, then we're happy for you." His dad does sound happy for him, and he thinks that if he was still worried about it, that would help. "And Nick seems like a very smart, very responsible man, from everything you've told us about him, so you seem like you're in very good hands."
"I... I guess I'm bisexual," Adam says, even though it doesn't feel quite right. "And I didn't want to tell you until I was more sure that things were working, but I think they're working, so." He shrugs. "I'm sorry I wasn't more, um... subtle about it."
His mom laughs and pats his shoulder from the back seat. "Honey. It doesn't matter to us how you told us. That look on your face though... you just looked terrified, and I'm sorry if your father or I ever gave you the impression that we wouldn't be okay with anything."
"No." Adam feels relief at that anyway, even though everything was clearly fine. "It's not you. It was just... I'd been assuming for 24 years that I was straight, so it took me a bit myself to really understand what was happening. So it was just... hard. To tell you."
"Well, we're glad you trusted us enough to tell us now."
He nods, and his mom turns the conversation to her new indoor herb garden and her problems with pests, and Adam relaxes at how normal all of this feels, as if he hadn't just upended 24 years of sexuality and come out to his parents.
He's really looking forward to his parents spending some time with Nick when they drove back.
Nick's dad smiles up at Adam, setting down his cup of coffee and newspaper. "Good morning, Adam."
"Good morning." Adam clasps his hands together, nervously. "Can I ask you something?"
"Of course." Jon indicates the seat next to him at the kitchen table, but Adam doesn't particularly want to sit right now.
"I wanted to ask Nick to marry me."
Jon's face seems to light up. "And you wanted my blessing?"
"Yeah. I know that's kind of... old fashioned, or whatever. But I just wanted to make sure you and Helen were... okay with it."
"Of course we're okay with it," Jon says, and Adam lets out a breath he didn't know he was holding. "You make Nick happy, and that's all we want for him. So you have our blessing."
Adam nods. "Okay. Thank you. And um... I hope it wasn't too forward of me, but I wanted to propose... tomorrow."
"That sounds perfect," Jon says, smiling at him. "Do you need us to do anything?"
"I think there's one more thing," Adam says, grabbing the box from where he'd hidden it next to the couch before standing in front of Nick. He can see Jon pull out the camcorder, on the other side of the room, and he smiles at Adam.
"Babe, what's this?" Nick frowns as Adam hands him the small package, shaking it gently.
"Just... open it."
Adam's heart beats quickly as Nick does, and as he pulls the small velvet box out of the wrapping, Adam kneels.
Nick looks down at him, cautious joy and surprise on his face. "Adam?"
"I, uh... getting to know you over the past three years has been the most amazing time in my life, even when we were just friends spending late nights together over textbooks. I love studying with you, and eating takeout with you, and running with you, and generally spending time with you. You're smart, and patient, and understanding, and I love you. And I know this might be a little premature, because we could still be torn apart when matching happens in a few months, but I want to spend the rest of my life with you, and I know that no matter what happens, we'll always find our way back to each other. So I hope that you'll... do me the honor of agreeing to marry me."
"Babe!" Nick opens the box and stares at the ring. Adam had picked out a fairly plain stainless steel band, feeling like it was appropriately understated and also a material that made some sense for their professions.
Then Nick stands, and Adam watches as he walks over to the Christmas tree and fumbles for something behind it. "Actually..."
Adam lets out a laugh, despite himself, when Nick turns back around with what looks like a small ring box, and from the surprise on Jon and Helen's faces, he gathers they didn't know about this. "Nick?"
"I wasn't sure I was going to propose today, because as you pointed out, matching could still go badly despite us having done the couples match, but Adam... you fill my life and my days with such joy, and I know that I want that, and I want you, every day for the rest of my life. So I hope that you'll... well, I guess you already proposed, so I know your answer, but um... here's me proposing back." He shrugs, blushing.
Adam stands and meets him where he is, grabbing him and kissing him. Nick melts into his arms in the way he always does, and he's only vaguely aware they have an audience until they break and he can hear the beep of the camcorder when it stops recording.
"Congratulations, boys," Helen says, and Jon and David and Eileen nod in agreement.
"Thanks, mom," Nick says, still not looking away from Adam's eyes.
Adam kisses him again.