Disclaimer: I do not in any way own Shelter, etcetera etcetera, blah blah.
Author's Note: Rated for one used of the F word and a very oblique reference to sex.
Reviews would be lovely :D
It was with a heavy heart that Zach turned to Cody and said "Five more minutes Codes, then we have to go."
Cody looked up at Zach, a small frown appearing on his forehead, and whined "But I'm having fun here."
Zach knew how he felt- he, too, had been having a great time hanging out with Shaun and Cody at the beach. They had swum for a bit, then Shaun and Cody had started work on what Shaun said was going to be 'the sweetest sandcastle you ever saw' while Zach watched them, a silly grin on his face the whole time which he couldn't wipe off no matter how hard he tried. It didn't help that whenever he caught Shaun's eye, which was frequently, Shaun would give him an equally silly grin in return.
But it was getting on for three, when Zach's shift at the diner started, and as much as he hated to do it he was firm: "I know buddy, but we can do it again soon."
"But I wanna stay here with Shaun!" Cody's voice was plaintive. He turned to Shaun- in the short time he'd known him, he'd already worked out that Shaun was a total pushover. "Shaun, can I stay here with you?"
"No Codes, Shaun's got things to do-"
"I wasn't asking you!"
Zach couldn't help but laugh at that, and neither could Shaun. Cody looked pleased with himself.
"So can I stay with you Shaun, pleeeeeeease?"
"I'm counting on it dude; this sandcastle's not gonna finish building itself!"
Cody grinned triumphantly up at Zach, who was too busy looking at Shaun to notice. He didn't know what to do- Cody was his responsibility, not Shaun's, and it was fair to leave Shaun taking care of him. But he always felt bad when Cody had to come to work with him- although Cody never complained, the diner wasn't exactly fun for a kid. He decided to give Shaun the opportunity to change his mind.
"Shaun, you don't have to-"
"Zach, I want to." Zach was struck by the sincerity in his voice. "It makes far more sense for him to stay here with me than sit at a table for four hours."
"But your writing-"
"But you're not used to-"
"Zach." Shaun said firmly. "I have a brother who's ten years younger than me. I have friends who are parents. I'm used to taking care of kids. In fact," he added, smirking, "I can remember babysitting you on more than one occasion. Which is extremely weird and something we should probably never talk about ever again. But you lived to tell the tale, as did Gabe, as did all the other kids I've ever been left in charge of. I can do this. Okay?"
Throughout this exchange, Cody had been looking from one to the other of them with interest, to see who would win out, Zach supposed. But now he looked at Zach intently, waiting for his answer.
Zach sighed, and mock glared at Shaun. "Okay."
"Alright!" Yelled Shaun as Cody jumped up and down in the sand. "High five, dude!" And when Cody slapped Shaun's big palm with his tiny one, Zach couldn't help but chuckle.
Shaun turned back to Zach. "What time's your shift finish?"
"Seven." Zach answered. "And Jeannie's working late tonight. But if you need to, you can come drop him at the diner."
Shaun merely rolled his eyes at that. "I won't need to. What do you say to dinner at mine after your shift, huh? Me and Cody can get it ready for you. What do you think ankle biter?" He called to Cody, who had gone back to the sandcastle. "Shall we make dinner for Uncle Zach?"
"Okay!" He replied cheerfully.
"Shaun-" Zach began, but didn't get very far.
"I want to do this Zach, okay?" He looked so earnest as he said it that, even though they were in public, Zach couldn't help but reach over and squeeze his hand.
"I'm that predictable, huh?" He asked with a smirk.
Shaun smirked back. "Fraid so babe," he said quietly. Zach's stomach fluttered at the endearment; Shaun hadn't called him that before, but he liked it. "See you later, okay?"
Zach nodded and squeezed Shaun's hand once more, then walked over to Cody.
"Be good, okay buddy?" He said to Cody as he ruffled his hair.
"Okay!" Cody replied agreeably, before turning back to his sandcastle.
Shaun watched Zach as he walked back to the condo, where he'd parked his car. When Zach disappeared from sight, Shaun turned back to the sandcastle, only to find Cody looking at him with a puzzled look on his face. Before he could ask what was the matter, Cody spoke.
"Why didn't you kiss Zach?"
Whatever he'd been expecting, it was safe to say it hadn't been that.
Shaun wasn't really sure what he should answer, so in the end decided to go with another question. "Why did you think I was gonna?"
"You did the other night, when you said goodbye. The night when you made me that awesome dinner! Can I have that again tonight?"
Shaun smiled, knowing that Zach would scold him for spoiling Cody if he said yes, but unable to care. "Sure thing kiddo." Then he realized what Cody had said. "Wait, weren't you asleep when you went home that day?" 'That day' had only been four days ago, but Shaun knew enough about kids to know that to Cody it would seem like weeks and weeks ago.
Cody grinned proudly. "I pretend to be asleep sometimes. I'm really good at it, not even Zach can tell!" Shaun laughed. "So I was awake when you kissed Zach goodbye, and I thought that's what you did, and now you didn't. Is it cuz you're seeing him later?"
Shaun stared in amazement and this tiny little kid, who thought it odd that his uncle wasn't kissing a guy, and felt a sudden urge to give him a hug. Instead, he settled for ruffling his hair and saying "Sort of, but it's also because there are people around today, and most people don't like to kiss where other people can see them. It's sort of a private thing. You know?" Plus Zach wasn't ready to be publicly gay, but Shaun decided that wasn't really something Cody needed to know.
Cody nodded thoughtfully, and then said "Zach and Tori used to kiss sometimes, but they don't do that anymore. Do you and Zach kiss now?"
Such a simple question, but to Shaun there seemed a wealth of meaning behind it. What Cody was asking was if Zach and Shaun kissed regularly, if they were going to keep kissing, if them kissing meant the same as it had used to mean when Zach and Tori kissed each other. Zach and Shaun hadn't really talked much about what they were doing- they'd spent a lot of the last five days kissing, and doing other stuff which thankfully Cody had no concept of yet, but since no one else knew there'd been no need to define their relationship as 'fuck buddies' or 'boyfriends' or anything else. But Shaun know how he felt about Zach, and he had a pretty good idea of how Zach felt about him, and this thing between them didn't feel like it was going to end any time soon.
"Yeah kiddo," Shaun finally answered Cody. "Zach and I kiss now. Is that okay?"
Cody nodded happily. "Yeah. Tori's cool, but you're even cooler! You build awesome sandcastles!"
If only everybody were so easy to impress, Shaun though wryly. But he couldn't help but grin at the fact that Cody thought he was 'cool'. Once again, he ruffled Cody's hair affectionately, and decided it was high time they got back on track.
"Come on ankle biter, we gotta finish this sandcastle so we've got time to go buy stuff to make Uncle Zach his dinner!"
So they finished the sandcastle, and went food shopping, and made dinner and ate it with Zach, and when Cody fell asleep on the sofa, Shaun finally told Zach about the conversation he'd had with Cody earlier.
For a few moments, Zach was quiet, looking down at his hands which lay in his lap. Then, just as Shaun was starting to worry, he looked up, the shy smile on his face so beautiful it took Shaun's breath away.
"So… we kiss now, huh?"
Laughing in relief, Shaun reached up to stroke Zach's cheek. "Yeah, I guess we do. That cool with you?" Shaun couldn't help but feel a little nervous as he asked the question.
But Zach's eyes shone as he answered, "Oh yeah." His smile became a bit less shy and a bit more of a smirk. "In fact, maybe we should-"
But he never got to finish his sentence, for at that moment Shaun leaned forward and kissed him for all he was worth.