A/N: I have been working on this fic (on and off) since summer. So it's a tiny but choppy in places, but I think it's fairly cohesive, overall.
A/N the second: Yes, Bumlets (Alex) is a crossdresser. That doesn't make him any less of the gender he is (male) nor does it invalidate his sexuality at all (gay.) Any flames will be laughed at and marshmallows will be toasted on them.
Disclaimer: I don't, nor do I pretend, to own anything. Newsies and its respective characters belong to Disney.
Alex Cortez, when asked for the story about his life, always told it like this:
He always knew that he wasn't quite normal. Aside from the fact that he was gay—really, something that was small in the scope of things, he always felt different than the other boys.
He would go through Seventeen and Vogue, checking websites that offered vintage clothing, and through it all thought, 'damn, these dresses would look so fucking good on me it isn't even funny.'
And that's when he realized that he was different. It's not like he didn't want to be a boy, because he was very happy with his testosterone, thank you very much. It's just that sometimes, when his hermanita spoke about wearing a princess dress, he wanted to have one as well.
Looking back, it had all started since before he could remember, watching Disney movies for the dresses all the heroines got to wear. But he had become cognizant of the fact when he was about fourteen.
It went like this:
His older sister was taking sewing for her practical arts class her senior year, and her dress model bailed on her. She had been distraught, naturally, and had called up all of her friends that were about the same size. When she couldn't find any, she resorted to blackmail.
"Alejandro, if you don't do this, I'll tell mamá about you quitting your AP math class."
And so he agreed to do it.
It was weird at first, his sister poking him with pins and needles, trying to give him an hourglass figure so the dress would fit correctly. He complained and she threatened and so he ended up actually helping her get things done rather than just standing there like a limp noodle.
He was uncomfortable, naturally, but then he caught sight of himself in the mirror. He stifled a sharp inhale in his throat, and that's when he knew.
After her final project was graded, his sister never even bothered to find out where her dress went.
His parents knew that something was up, of course, as they weren't stupid and he wasn't all that entirely covert about it, but they never said anything. He didn't know whether or not he was grateful for that fact.
He made sure that he knew his size perfectly before even attempting to go into a store to actually buy a dress, so if asked, he could tell the salesperson that it was a gift for his mother/sister/girlfriend, whichever one seemed apt at the moment. He stuck them all in the very back of his closet, the places where no one would think to look, and only wore them when he knew he was truly alone.
Then one day, his mother caught him. He was wearing a navy, knee-length, pleated skirt, a yellow belt, and a— white with blue flowers, camisole tucked inside, serving as the shirt.
His mother blinked, hand still poised over his doorknob, and he blinked back, too shocked by the sudden intrusion.
"¿Qué es esto?" she asked, voice and face betraying nothing.
He tried to take in a steady breath, failed, and for the first time in over two years, cried.
After he told her everything, his mother looked at him differently. Not bad, per se, just different. Like, when his hermanita would talk excitedly about the new dress she got, his mamá would look over to him, as if she expected him to shout out that he got one exactly like it.
It was heart breaking, at first, her looking at him as if he wasn't the same person he was before. However, after a couple of months, he started noticing that sometimes the internet browser would be open to a website offering vintage clothing, his mother's credit card placed conveniently next to the monitor.
They never spoke about it after that afternoon when she found him, but he knew that, at least on some level, she accepted him.
And that's how it all started, really.
After that, life was boring. He went to school, came home, did extracurriculars, and slept. It wasn't until he got to college that he, once again, had to shift his view about his lifestyle.
See, after his mamá found out, it became something to hide. Not in shame, he never thought of it that way (but then again, it might have been, had he actually analyzed himself,) but just so that it was easier for everyone.
And then one day, second semester of his freshman year at university, he woke up late. Without bothering to change, he ran to his class, not realizing that he was wearing one of his dresses. When he got to class and sat down, he noticed.
He was horrified and was about to run out again, regardless of whether or not he missed the damn test, when someone tapped him on the shoulder.
It was the boy that sat behind him, David or something. Alex turned around in his seat, wondering if the usually kind eyes would darken or not, and was confused when all he received was a smile.
"I like your dress," David (it was David, he remembered that now) said, turning back to his notes after.
And that was that. No one cared, really, and the people who did were few and far between.
So he went about the rest of his freshman year, wearing dresses and growing his hair out longer, profoundly grateful that he went to a liberal arts college.
For the first time, he could be himself and express himself the way he wanted, not having to think about society's reactions to him. He was happy.
It was first semester of his sophomore year and he and David were grumbling about having to take a stupid political science class. They, of course, chose sociology, which corresponded well with their respective major.
It would be full of pretentious psychology majors, David swore, because his friend Skittery had to take sociology and that's the exact thing that happened to him. Alex hated psych majors. Thinking they were better than you because they could basically read your mind. Whatever, totally overrated.
They got into class and Alex looked around, turning back to David only once he left. He double took, glancing up at the rows, groaning once he realized that David was just going to sit next to Spot the entire semester. David grimaced at him, both apologising and saying 'I really want to get laid, so I don't actually regret anything.' Alex gracefully flipped him off, slouching down into the first empty seat he saw.
He sat there, glaring at the table for a few moments and mentally pondering about how he didn't really need friends, especially ones who abandoned him in psych major hell to go flirt with their pseudo-boyfriends.
"Um…" came a voice from next to him.
Alex swiveled around, slightly shocked at the person interrupting his inner monologue.
It was a guy, blond, emo hair, and glasses. He wore a t-shirt and jeans, both faded and wrinkled and he was paler than that one dude from that shitty vampire movie. He had an earring in one ear, but no other apparent jewelry. His expression looked rumpled as well, or maybe it was just confusion, Alex didn't know, but he looked like he was analyzing Alex as well.
Alex snorted internally. First impressions always sucked with him.
"Did I take someone's spot?" he finally asked, after it seemed like the blond wasn't going to speak.
"No, don't worry about it, dude," and Alex was instantly 10-times more attracted to him.
He glanced at the guy again, out of the corner of his eyes, this time definitely more appreciative. Because, okay, maybe voices did something for him. And, wow, he had nice hands as well.
"I'm Alex," he stated, holding out a hand to shake, "and I wasn't worried about it."
"Louis," he shook Alex's hand, his grip firm and wow, okay, Alex liked him even more, "some people call me Dutchy, but Louis is fine as well."
Alex nodded, taking his hand away. He was definitely going to like this semester.
"So, what do you major in?" Louis asked, voice polite with a hint of sweetness running through it.
"Journalism," Alex replied, voice strong, as if daring Louis to make fun of him.
"That's cool man," Louis stated, hands going up in the air as if in a plea.
Alex scrunched his nose, chuckling slightly and asked what Louis was majoring in.
"Psychology," Louis proudly stated, eyes wide and earnest.
Alex groaned softly. He was going to hate this semester.
It was the second week of class and Alex could feel his fire-intense hatred of psych majors dwindling down until he had to poke at it with a stick for the embers to glow once more.
It was that damn Louis' fault. Making psych majors seem likeable and friendly, Alex hated it. On the other hand, disliking an entire group of people based on their major was wrong, so maybe Louis getting under his skin was for the best (at least that's what David tried to keep telling him; Alex mostly just ignored him and talked about Dutchy more, basically just proving David's point.)
"Just admit that you want to date him, Alex," David would always say, completely ignoring the fact that Alex would never date a psych major, no matter how nice and wonderful and sweet he seemed to be.
Then he stopped lying to himself.
"I want to date Louis," Alex told David, voice resolute and slightly fearful.
"That's nice," David said, rolling over and throwing the cover over his face, "Can you tell me that when it's not 3:30 in the morning?"
"No. David, no. You don't understand. This has to be discussed right now. I am in an existential crisis."
He finished that statement by plopping onto David's bed.
"David, help me," he whined, throwing David's covers back and staring, pleadingly, into his face.
David glared at him.
"You wanna date Louis, but it's freaking you out because you have an aversion to all psych majors. So, in my opinion, either don't date Louis, or get over your irrational hatred."
David pulled the covers back up and rolled over once more.
"Good night, Alex," me muttered, curling up and resolutely attempting to go to sleep.
"You're absolutely no help," Alex pouted, walking back to his own bed and laying down.
"I hate my life," he told the ceiling, ignoring the pillow thrown at him from the other bed.
"But, couldn't you make the argument that everything we learn about sociology comes from the fact that behaviorism exists in psychology? Because the point of behaviorism is that our actions exist, predominantly, from our various behaviors and how people interpret them."
Alex tapped the end of his pen lightly against his notebook, staring vacantly at the front of the room and wondering when the fuck that Delancey kid would shut the fuck up.
"Behaviorists are the worst kind of psychologists. Sometimes I wonder why people still let them exist," came a whisper into his ear.
He stifled a laugh and chanced a glance over to Dutchy, who was quirking a grin at him.
"I mean, they basically ignore all science and neurobiology that has come into play over the past 50 years, and think that all psychology is based solely on behavior. It's crazy that people still think science is worthless when science is a major factor in their own field of study."
Alex grinned and his shoulders shook with suppressed chuckles
"You're going to make me laugh when a heated debate is going on. That's terrible."
Louis nodded gravely.
"Yes, it seems that everyone is deeply engrossed in the contention."
They both looked around, noticing the doodling, asleep, or texting students, and started talking once more.
The professor let class out.
"I'll see you Wednesday, then, yeah?" Dutchy asked, scrunching his nose and rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly.
"As always," Alex replied, flushing lightly and waiting for David to come down the steps.
Dutchy nodded and turned to leave.
"Oh!" he exclaimed turning around once more and smiling brightly at Alex, "I really love your dress. It suits you."
He walked away, and Alex stood, gaping, until David tapped him lightly on the shoulder.
"How do I stop irrationally hating psych majors?" he asked, turning around and giving a pleading look to David.
David smiled and led him out of the classroom.
"What happened?" he asked, leading them both over to the little coffee stand and sitting at one of the benches.
"He liked my dress," Alex replied, flushing a bit and playing with the hem.
"Did he?" David asked, mostly in rhetoric, and stirred more sugar into his, otherwise, black coffee.
Alex nodded and hummed a bit, wrinkling his nose at a sudden thought intrusion.
"Does this mean I'm going to have to learn about Freud and shit?" he asked, staring morosely into his Styrofoam cup.
"Ew. You have to learn about Freud? Why? Freud is totally bullshit."
Spot sat down next to David and stole his coffee, drinking some and making a face at the copious amounts of sugar.
"He's trying to see what he'll need to not hate about psychology, because he's in love with a psych major," David smirked, laughing slightly at Spot's gagging face.
"Oh. Dude, no one gives a shit about Freud anymore. He's a total asswipe. Seriously, I took intro psych and I think we talked about him for, maybe, two days. And it was mostly just shit about how he doesn't apply in the contemporary world, so…" he trailed off, biting at David's neck when David continued to laugh at him.
Alex started to respond and then paused, glancing between Spot and David and sighing.
"I'm gonna go and talk to Skittery," he said, throwing a couple of dollars down on the table and leaving the— now arguing, couple behind him.
He walked outside and pulled his sweater a little closer to him, still shivering slightly as he waited for Skittery to text him back. His phone buzzed and he opened it, starting to read the text and groaning when he realized that he would just have to wait for David and Spot to break apart.
The campus was pretty quiet. If he were more superstitious, he would think it was a sign of some sort. As it stood, he leaned against a wall and contemplated his next course of action.
His history class didn't start for another three hours and he could probably go and hang out at his dorm. But if he did that, he most likely wouldn't go to history class, because he was lazy. The library was always an option, but he always just holed himself up in a corner and read history books. Last time that happened, he was there for 15 hours straight and almost missed a midterm. He deliberated more, closing his eyes to think better and shivering slightly again.
A warm fabric draping over his shoulders stopped his thoughts briefly.
"Doing this won't make me forgive you for ignoring my horrible problems and flirting with Spot, you know," he groused, pulling the coat further around himself.
"Who's Spot?" a voice—definitely not David's, asked.
Alex turned around and almost fell over in shock.
"Louis!" he exclaimed, his eyes wide and face flushed.
"Obviously not who you were expecting," Louis said, smiling a bit and shoving his hands in his jeans pockets.
"Um, no," Alex stammered, trying to tamper down his blush by sheer willpower alone.
"Um, you gave me your hoodie," he continued, moving to shrug it off.
Dutchy shook his head and placed his hands lightly on Alex's shoulders.
"You looked cold," he explained, flopping around an arm, as if encouraging Alex to put it on correctly.
Alex did so.
"Thanks," he smiled, zipping it up and grinning at the logo.
"Didn't take you as a Left 4 Dead fan," he exclaimed happily, lips curling up even further— knowing, in that moment, that it would be easy to get over his hatred of psych majors.
"Yeah. I mean, I like Assassin's Creed more, but…" he shrugged and trailed off, smiling at Alex and flushing slightly.
"You play Left 4 Dead?" he continued, leaning against the wall next to Alex and turning so he faced him, rather than the empty quad.
Alex nodded and turned as well.
"I like Left 4 Dead 2 better, but the first is good. And I haven't played Assassin's Creed, but I play a lot of Halo. And Portal."
"I didn't take you as a video game fan," he stated, flushing instantly as he comprehended what he said.
"I just mean, you know, because you're a journalism major, and like, news editor for the school paper, and you talk about history and literature like it's your salvation, and you just seem so smart, is all."
His words tapered off as he stuttered further, and he flushed brighter. Alex smiled at him, irrationally pleased that his supposed intelligence seemed to be the only reason why Louis thought that he didn't play video games. Years of 'fairy' and 'girl' usually hardened him to innocuous comments like Louis', so he was glad that Dutchy seemed to differ from the norm.
"I'm not that smart," he retorted, "and even if I were, I would still play video games. They're basically the most amazing thing ever."
Dutchy tilted his head and nodded at the same time— making his head jerk awkwardly, and Alex could tell it was in gratuity for him not taking Dutchy's previous statement the wrong way.
"Um, so, anyways, I actually came up to you for a reason," Louis stated softly, touching his hand hesitantly to Alex's shoulder.
Alex cleared his throat and flushed lightly.
"What's the reason?" he asked, voice pitched softly as well, to match the sudden enormity the situation seemed to take on.
"I was, um," Louis paused and rubbed nervously at the back of his neck with his free hand, "I was wondering if you, maybe, wanted to go and get an early dinner with me?" he squeaked out the last part, flushing further and refusing to look at Alex.
Alex flushed as well.
"I would love to," he replied, taking his own hand and placing it on top of Dutchy's.
Needless to say, Alex couldn't concentrate in history that day.
"What's wrong?" David asked worriedly, clapping Alex's shoulder on the way out, "What happened?"
"You know Louis?" Alex responded.
"You decide to get over your irrational hatred of his future profession?" David asked before Alex could say anything else.
"I went out on a date with him."
David stopped walking and looked at Alex. Alex blinked back, wondering why in hell David was just staring at him like that.
"You went out on a date with him?" came David's voice, though it sounded more like a broken record than anything else.
"Yeah, before class actually," Alex replied, "and he asked me out on another date too."
David kept gaping at him and Alex started to wonder if he accidentally broke his best friend's face. That would be unseemly.
"Close your mouth, dear, you look like a fish," Alex finally chided in his best Esther impersonation, snapping David immediately out of his self-induced hypnosis.
"I can't believe you actually did it, is all," David finally stated after blinking a couple more times in wonder.
"Me neither. But, you know, he's really sweet. And the date was really nice, as well."
Alex shrugged and flushed a little, ducking into the sweatshirt that Dutchy had given him. He should probably be incredulous at the fact that David thought he couldn't do it, but, yeah, okay, David was right— he wasn't the type of person to just go out with someone on a whim.
"Is that his?" David asked, eyes focusing on the article of clothing that was most definitely not Alex's.
David nodded and started walking once more, making it so that Alex had to practically run to catch up with him.
"So…?" he asked, still walking at a slightly more hurried pace to keep up with the taller boy.
"So… Are you over your hatred of psych majors yet?" David asked, smirking down at Alex and bumping their shoulders together, "I think you guys would be cute together, so…"
He shrugged and kept walking to their dorm, Alex sighing in relief at David's nonchalance.
"I was afraid that you wouldn't approve," he admitted quietly, once they were watching old reruns of television shows.
"Like I could disapprove of anyone who wants to date you."
He laughed at Alex's incredulous look.
"You're just kind of tightly wound is all, dude. But if the guy likes it, then more power to him."
"You're worse than I am!" Alex shouted, punching David in the shoulder and smirking at David's whined 'owww.'
"Exactly! Takes one to know one and all that jazz."
And that's basically where their conversation devolved for the night. See, Alex and David had this thing where they were both really smart, all of the time. But it's hard to act smart every single second of every single day. So, you know, they stopped.
It started out innocently enough; they would be hanging out together and their conversation would just kind of peter off into 'normal' boy things that they wouldn't talk about to anyone else. Then it became a sort of system, where, mostly every day, they would just talk and do whatever, not giving a fuck about their 'smarticles.' (Smart particles; the particles of your brain that made you smart— Spot had coined the term and no one had really thought twice before starting to use it.)
"Do you believe in fate?" Alex asked, curling up onto his side three hours and five unsuccessful video games later.
"Like, something's destined to happen, no matter what? No. In the sense that you get a feeling and go with it and a larger plot unravels? Sure, why not, anything's possible. Why do you ask?"
David flopped down next to Alex and raised an eyebrow at his best friend. Alex, in turn, stuck his tongue out and crossed his eyes.
"Just wondering," he stated softly— and you know, lying about it, as he picked at a loose thread on his hem.
"Bullshit," David stated, poking Alex's nose, which scrunched up at the invasion, and hmmm, now Alex was having thoughts of tiny David aliens invading people's noses by poking them; weird.
"No, but seriously," David continued, tilting his head in Alex's direction inquisitively, "why do you ask?"
"Because I've never believed in fate before, but now I'm starting to think that I do," Alex whispered, somewhat shamefully.
"There's nothing wrong with that, man. Isn't college supposed to be the time of changing and figuring out who you are anyways?" David asked rhetorically, throwing his arms out wide to drive his point home.
"Yeah, I suppose you're right," Alex murmured, laying on his bed fully and gazing at the ceiling.
"I know I am," David stated confidently, clasping Alex's shoulder quickly before standing up and stretching, "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and visit Spot."
He winked and left the dorm, closing the door loudly behind him. Alex hummed at nothing and continued thinking, thoughts drifting in and out of his head aimlessly as he let his mind wander.
Life was weird. Well, people were weird. So why did people like people so much? Probably because everyone was just primordial goop, ready to expand for the next evolutionary scale, where humans were considered the primitive species.
And he should probably stop taking that Evolution class, because it was fucking with his head. He needed to stop thinking about the universe because before he knew it he always thought— and there it was.
Sometime, somewhere, the universe just stops. And everything that exists just is in a bubble, where there's absolutely nothing beyond it, because the universe has an ending point. He needed his inhaler— well, he would if he had asthma, and wasn't just appropriating Skittery's disease, which he was, unfortunately, prone to doing. Nevertheless…
In the vast scope of things, nothing mattered. Nothing at all.
So why, if nothing mattered, did he care so much about what his hair looked like? He wished that he was still in the same damn mindset he had been that Wednesday night. And, seriously, this was his fourth date with Louis, why did he still care so much?
Because he was an anxious person, that's why. He couldn't help himself, really, he was anxious about anything and everything, no matter what. Most of the time he could stop himself before it got too terrible, but there were some times when he just felt his stomach contract, his throat tighten up, and his body start to sweat; it was always personal and it always made him to the point of immobility.
Thankfully David was there, and Alex really didn't know what he would do without David, really. Probably die, or something equally as drastic— he didn't quite know what was more drastic than dying (or even equal to it) but he wouldn't put it past some people knowing.
"Get over it," David said, leaning against the bathroom door, eating a sandwich.
"I can't," Alex whined, smoothing his dress and trying to fix his hair again.
David rolled his eyes and called up Spot, conversation muffled from where Alex had shut the door on David's face. A few minutes later there was a knock, Alex opening it the slightest bit, just to be bombarded with Spot Conlon.
"Sit," Spot commanded, rolling his eyes and sitting Alex down, himself.
And then there was just a blur for a few minutes, as Spot actually did his hair— and who knew, right? Another few seconds and Spot stood him up, turning Alex to face the mirror. As Alex looked, he wondered if he should be paying Spot or something, because, okay, this was a weird but amazing talent the shorter boy had.
"How do you—" he started, getting cut off by David's 'it's better not to ask.'
"Thank you," he said instead, smiling bemusedly at Spot and leaving the restroom.
That was weird. Now all he had to do was— answer the door, apparently.
He blinked and flushed brightly.
Dutchy nodded and explained, Alex making little humming noises every once in awhile in agreement. He held up his finger, indicating that he would be just a moment, and hurried to finish getting ready. And, oh shit, leaving Dutchy alone with Spot and David. Not the best idea he had ever had, but it's not like he could do anything about it now.
"Okay, ready," he murmured, sticking his last earring in and smiling up at Dutchy.
"Sorry for coming early and surprising you," Louis said, standing up and offering his hand.
"It's fine; life happens, you know?"
David scoffed at Alex's faux 'chillax' nature and Alex turned to glare at him, because fuck David, seriously. Who needed him? Not Alex, that's for sure.
"Your friends are… interesting," Dutchy said as they started walking.
"Yeah, you get used to them," Alex sighed, grimacing up at Louis and shrugging in apology.
"It's all good. They're just about as weird as my friends, so I suppose it's even, you know?"
Alex nodded and smiled. This would be a good relationship, he thought. And as Dutchy hesitantly took his hand, he turned his 'thought' into a 'definitely.'
Alex didn't normally gloss over parts of his life— he was so attentive to detail in that way, he supposed. But he could not, in good faith (and without getting boring,) say everything that happened with him and Dutchy; it would be slim to impossible— and he knew he was mixing up a metaphor there, but he didn't much care.
So whenever he told the story, people got the short version around this time.
He and Louis went on a few more dates, and oh, okay, for their eighth one he needed a cut scene:
"I thought that it was awesome. I mean, definitely not as good as the comic, but overall really good, you know?"
Louis nodded and grinned at Alex, who was still fanboying over the movie. He pulled Alex closer, tangling their fingers together and smiling once more.
"Hey, Alex," he started, Alex turning his head and looking up at Dutchy at his name.
And with that, Louis leaned down and kissed Alex, gently cupping the back of his neck and smiling the slightest bit into it. Alex kissed back, and for the first time, wasn't thinking. Because, wow.
"Sorry, you were just being absolutely adorable, is all," Dutchy stated, blushing slightly as he pulled away.
"Um…" was Alex's only response, letting himself be tugged into the coffee shop.
And yeah, David had to practically pry them apart when their date was over, but he didn't much care.
They officially started dating after that— thank God, because Alex had always thought that eight dates were enough to determine potential 'mating' partners. It quickly convalesced from there, the end of their sophomore year presenting itself with an offer that Alex really could not refuse.
"Hi, Louis," Alex stated happily, leaning up the slightest bit to kiss his boyfriend's cheek.
"Hi, love," Dutchy responded, a nervous smile playing on his face.
"What's wrong?" Alex asked, feeling Dutchy's forehead— he looked flushed and Alex was worried that Louis had gotten sick or something.
"Nothing, nothing. Just a question I'm nervous to ask you, is all."
Alex nodded and sat down beside Louis, holding his hand and smiling.
"Well, if you ask me, you won't be nervous anymore, will you?"
Dutchy nodded and took a breath.
"So, I was wondering, because I know that David is going to go and live with Spot and all, if you, maybe, wanted to move in together? We can keep your apartment, if you want, but I know how you hate living with strangers, and you would have to find a roommate anyways, to keep the place and—"
Alex cut him off with a kiss.
"Let's move in together, yeah?" he answered, smiling and kissing Dutchy once more.
"Great idea," Louis answered, nodding and grinning, "Yeah, let's move in together."
He smiled once more and lifted Alex up, spinning him around despite his boyfriend's vehement protests.
And life went on, happily and lovingly. Actually, for the rest of Alex's story, people always needed to know these things, and Alex always forgot to say:
Spot and David broke up— Spot cheated on David with Racetrack (who no one really liked except for Skittery, but they were dating, so it didn't matter,) and Spot tried incessantly to get David back to no avail. Skittery and Racetrack, then, broke up as well. Sarah (David's sister) and Alex started hanging out to the point of being very, very good friends, and Katherine always went along for the ride— Sarah's girlfriend. David kicked Spot out and kept the apartment, Spot moved in with Racetrack (not the smartest move, as they both hated each other at that point) and David decided that British television would be his only relationship from that point on.
Alex, while not asking Louis to marry him— because they were only juniors in college for God's sake, hinted that it was definitely in the cards, only to be tackled by an exuberant boyfriend, so he figured that his news was well-received.
So, yeah, life went on happily enough (and okay, that was caviler, but Alex didn't know how else to put it.)
Until, one day, it didn't. And Alex could no longer use cut scenes, because this was where the story really started.
[Setting: Alex and Louis' apartment. Night time— before dinner, though. Reason for fight? Undetermined.
"Louis, you have to realize that even if we fight, which God knows we have and will continue to do so, all couples do so. You don't see them breaking up over their fights or misunderstandings, do you?
"Because they don't. We love each other. I love you so much. And I am so afraid of losing you as well. But it won't happen if we don't let it. We can get through anything; fights, crying, misunderstandings, you name it. We can get through those and become a better couple because of them. Okay?"
Alex finished his speech, blinking back frustrated tears, and looked at Louis, lips pursed. He slowly exhaled when he saw Louis nodding, grateful that the crisis was over with.
"So, what you're saying is, no matter what happens, we'll always be together in the end?" Dutchy asked, voice low and grave.
"We will get that damn fairytale ending, even if it's the last thing I do."
Louis nodded back, seeming to contemplate this statement.
"I think we should take a break," he finally stated, not looking Alex in the eyes.
Alex was stunned. He must have uttered something akin to a 'what?' because Dutchy started explaining.
"I just—need to sort some things out and I can't do that with you always trying to help me. So, I want to break up with you."
Alex started laughing then.
"That was a funny joke. You really got me there for a second. Break up, that's ridiculous."
"I'm not joking, Alex."
"No. I will not allow this to happen."
Louis sighed and ran his fingers through his hair.
"Weren't you the one that said no matter what, we would end up together in the end? If you still believe that, if you weren't just placating me, then let me do this. I love you, Alex, but I can't be with you right now."
And so Alex let him go.
He stood there as Louis packed a single duffel bag, stoic as he cleared out his side of the sink and bedside drawer, stayed silent as Louis said that he would be staying at Specs' place for awhile.
Only after he left, kissing Alex's temple— hesitantly and sad, and placing his key lightly on the table by the door, did Alex fall to the ground.
It was the first time that Dutchy had ever made him cry.
Three days after Dutchy left— and one day after Alex stopped waiting by the door for him to come back, Alex wore a pair of jeans to class.
He sat down next to David, like usual, and opened his binder to take notes. David muttered a 'hello' to him, obviously still half-asleep and Alex grunted one back, not half-asleep, but definitely not in the mood to talk.
"What did you get up to this weekend?" David finally asked, guileless and pleasant.
David started to respond, but seemed to choke on his words.
"What are you wearing?" he managed to get out after 20 or so seconds of hacking up a lung.
Alex looked down at himself, as if David asking was a strange concept to him.
"Jeans," he stated, shrugging in response to David's 'but why?'
"Alex, what's wrong?" David asked, not even paying attention to the professor, who had just started to speak.
"Nothing," Alex hissed, trying to ignore David by taking notes from the powerpoint.
"I just realized that there are some ways you shouldn't express yourself, so I remedied it."
David sighed and placed a hand on Alex's shoulder.
"You know no one cares about your dresses, right?"
"Of course people care," Alex replied, shrugging off David's hand, twitching his nose slightly at the cold the action brought about.
"They really don't though."
"Louis fucking broke up with me, okay? He said that it was for his own personal reasons, but I heard him talking on the phone earlier that week about how it 'would just be easier dating a girl, sometimes.' So yeah, people fucking care, David."
The rebuttal stayed quiet, but both Alex and David could feel the stare of their professor boring into them.
"I'm sure he didn't mean it like that," David softly replied, packing up both his and Alex's things and standing up with them, walking silently out of the back door.
"What else could he have meant though?" Alex replied once the door closed behind him.
"I dunno, but it doesn't seem like a very Dutchy thing to say."
Alex shrugged once more, but that was the only response David got.
He heard David sigh and shift the shoulder bags in nervousness. He nodded in response to David's offer of coffee and walked, uncomfortably, behind his best friend.
The first thing that Alex heard the next morning was David hissing angrily into the phone and then slamming it down on the table.
"Wha's goin' on?" he yawned, stretching slightly on the couch and blearily opening his eyes.
"Nothing, don't worry about it," David said, glaring at his phone, as if it was the one that offended him.
Alex hummed in acknowledgement and sat up fully, pulling the quilt around his shoulders.
"Who was on the phone?" he finally asked after yawning a few more times.
"No one," David waved off, face too innocent for Alex to actually believe him.
Alex paused before his sentence, treading gently into his next thought.
"Was it Spot?" he asked gently, carefully watching David's face for any indication of stress.
David twitched at the name— still (and Alex hoped that he wouldn't be that way with Dutchy, but knowing that he would probably be even worse) and shook his head, colouring slightly in residual anger and hurt.
Alex was confused for a second, before realizing whom it was that David called.
"Why did you call him, Davey?" he asked, hoping the use of David's nickname would show how serious he was about the situation.
"I just wanted to find out why he did what he did."
Alex crossed his arms. "And what did you find out?"
"Nothing, I got angry and yelled at him and hung up."
"… See, when you said that you called him, I wanted information, and now that your information doesn't help, I have deemed you a horrid friend," Alex stated, trying to make light of the situation, at least somewhat— the weight in his chest was seriously not something he needed at that moment.
David nodded his head and sat down next to Alex.
"Are you okay?" he asked, hand resting on Alex's back, rubbing in comforting circles.
Alex leaned his head on David's shoulder and shook his head slightly, bringing his knees up to his chest.
"All of his stuff in still in the apartment," he said biting down on his bottom lip, "and I hate passing by it every time I actually look around. I'm starting to differentiate between his things and my things, so when he asks for them, I know what to give him."
"I don't think it'll come down to that. I think he'll come back…" David paused for a second, "and when he does, you better make him grovel."
Alex barked out a surprised laugh and butted his head against David's neck. David always knew what to do when Alex needed a slight lift. Always unexpected, though, for some strange reason.
"The pleasure's all mine. Now, I think you have class that you need to go to, am I right?"
Alex groaned in realization and stood up, thanking God that he brought extra clothes with him.
He walked out of the restroom, ignoring the grimace that David gave his clothing choice.
"Why are you doing this to yourself?" he asked, handing Alex his backpack and a mug of coffee.
"I don't know what you mean," Alex flippantly replied, scooting around David, trying to get to the door.
"Yes, you do!" David called to his retreating back, shaking his head and frowning at Alex's jeans.
Alex closed the door behind him, leaned against the wall for a second, inhaled a deep breath, and walked to class. He was going to start dressing normally in public again, if it was the last thing he did.
He was at the door to his history class with David, the both of them comparing notes, when he stopped. David paused as well, hand on the doorknob and turned to look back at Alex, confused.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
Alex felt like he couldn't breathe.
"Dutchy is in this class," he managed to get out, swallowing hard at the thought.
David opened and closed his mouth a few times. He then took a hold of Alex's arm, opened the door, and tugged Alex in. He marched up to the first row of desks and sat them both down, resolutely not looking behind himself.
Alex did the same, but shouldered David lightly in gratitude.
"Thanks," he whispered, leaning in close to David so no one else would hear him.
"That's what I'm here for. Besides, you did the same for me, so now we're equal."
Alex hummed in agreement— he remembered that scene between David and Spot vividly, took his pen out, and opened his notebook, ready for another day of European history.
After no more than what seemed like a few seconds, a piece of paper hit his desk. He looked down at it, crumpled into a little ball, and opened it quietly. It was a note, handwriting he didn't recognize, with the words, 'why are you wearing that?' written on it.
He rolled his eyes and didn't reply. The paper, however, kept taunting him, even when he threw it into his binder. Finally, five minutes before the end of class, he replied.
'I am not normal, otherwise,' he wrote, handwriting painstakingly neat in trying to not give away emotion (handwriting could do that, everyone knew.)
The professor dismissed them and he left hurriedly— not waiting for David to pack away his books, and the note sat there, folded up precisely and waiting for the owner to look at it.
A brunet with glasses sighed and opened the note, wincing reflexively at the words written within. A blond came up from behind him and snatched the note away.
"You're a dumbass," the brunet stated, folding his arms across his chest and turning contemptuously towards the blond.
"I know," the blond whispered, passing his best friend and walking out the door.
The next class that Alex and David had together— writing again, Alex came into class wearing sweatpants.
David gaped at him, partly shocked and mostly horrified.
"What are you wearing?" he asked, reminiscing over the days when Alex just wore jeans.
Alex shrugged and didn't say anything, instead choosing to sit down in the back of the room and put his head down.
David followed, incredulous and worried, sitting down next to Alex and laying a hand on his back.
"One of my professors thought that I was cheating," Alex mumbled, hands muffling most of his voice.
"Why?" David asked— rightfully so, as Alex was the student least likely to cheat, including David himself ('It was one time!' David would always point out, sniffing haughtily afterwards.)
"He thought that I was a random person taking the test and turning it in with Alex's name."
David's free hand went up to his face as he tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle his giggle.
"Don't laugh at my pain," Alex groused, trying to keep his face stern.
"Is that why you're wearing that?" Davis gestured, laughter coming out more freely.
Alex nodded and let out a little huff of laughter himself, trying to explain between his amused chuckles.
"I figured," he started, propping his face on his hands, "I figured that if he wasn't going to recognize me when I just wearing jeans, why not really freak him out?"
They laughed together for a few more seconds before Alex stopped and told the rest of the story.
"I had to show him my driver's license for him to actually believe me," he got out, wiping the tears from the corners of his eyes.
"No way," David gasped, fumbling blindly for his notebook and pen.
Alex nodded and the two spent the rest of the class giggling sporadically.
In hindsight, Alex figured that laughing with David in class was the first time he had done so since the break-up.
It was freeing, he figured (if he thought long enough about it.) Being able to laugh about something— even though it wasn't all that funny to begin with.
He and David kept the joke running as long as they possible could, but soon it dulled and blackened, and his joyous rambunctiousness deadened as well.
So after that he went about his life— class to class, meal to meal, staying close by David and hardly daring to glance around in fear of a reminder of his before.
Because that's all it could be now, a before. It couldn't be anything else, because it had been two weeks, and nothing had changed.
(And he really needed to lay off the drama novels, because, wow that was terrible.)
Dutchy's things were packed and Alex kept waiting for the moment when he would hear a knock on the front door and see Specs, or even Dutchy himself, waiting to pick up the things.
Through it all, however, he refused to coin himself as depressed. He was sad, yeah. Heartbroken, for sure. But depressed? That was something only a psych major could refer to him as, and he hated all psych majors.
One day, when David was over and Alex was attempting to teach him how to correctly play L4D2, he heard a knock at the door.
He paused the game, threw the controller onto the couch, and stood up. David glanced at him, took one look at his pallor, and stood up as well.
They walked, silently, to the door and Alex opened it, letting out a breath as he did so.
It was Spot.
Alex blinked and stared at the haggard-looking Irishman, taking in the dull expression and baggy clothes.
"You look like hell," he remarked, not particularly caring about his blunt tone— best friends always came first, even in regards to other friends.
Spot sneered and bit his lip after.
"Can I talk to David?" he asked, voice growing slightly less brash by the end of his question.
Alex flickered his gaze over at David, who was hidden by the door, and nodded.
"I'll be back later," he stated, picking up his wallet, phone, and keys.
He walked out the door, but stopped Spot before he could go into the apartment.
"What the fuck is going on?" he hissed, not missing the minute flinch he got from Spot.
"I wanna apologize," Spot reluctantly stated, tripping over his sentence, as if he weren't used to uttering it.
"I was an ass. I didn't know how to apologize correctly before. I love him. And I could go on, but I should probably be telling him this, and not you. No offence."
Alex nodded and let go of Spot's arm, opening the door once more and gesturing Spot through.
"Don't think that I won't make do on my threat of killing you, if you fuck up again," he stated softly, closing the door behind him and walking off.
He meandered for awhile, ending up in a tree overlooking the main quad. He breathed in deeply and let it out, sighing in relief as he felt the fresh air pass through his lungs (no matter how much it smelled like gasoline and nature mixed together to create an off smelling hybrid/mutant.)
Alex looked around at the scenery below him, seeing faces and people for the first time in what felt like forever. He stared, almost unblinkingly, and let out little puffs of breath every now and again.
He noticed Racetrack walking quickly across the grass, holding a cup of coffee in his hands and waiting, impatiently, by the Anthro. hall. He decided that Race watching was more enjoyable than random people watching.
A class got out and Alex spotted the messy, dark hair of Skittery, and he gave a silent 'ah' of comprehension.
Skittery took sight of Race and turned around, heading in the complete opposite direction of his apartment.
Race caught up and handed the coffee to Skittery, motions harried and jerky, obviously trying to get Skittery to see a point he was attempting to make.
Alex saw Skittery shake his head and give Race a soft, sad, grin.
Race's arms flew about himself faster (and, oh, Race was too Italian for words) and finally gripped the lapels of Skittery's jacket, pulling him down into a—surprisingly soft looking, kiss.
Skittery's hands flailed a little bit, almost dropping his coffee, and responded, resting on Race's waist.
Alex looked away then, feeling as though he was intruding in on their private moment, and turned his body the other direction.
He was happy for David and Skittery, truly, but why was it that they could break up with their significant others and then, presumably, get back together?
Of course, he mused, straddling the branch as his legs started to hurt, the problem was with their boyfriends and not themselves, so maybe the situation was different.
A sharp whistle from below him jolted him out of his thoughts and he looked down, holding onto the branch tightly.
"Why are you up there?" asked a voice, female, and Alex squinted to see Sarah looking back up at him.
"Sitting," he called down.
Sarah paused for a moment before shaking her head slightly, knowing that he wasn't going to actually answer her question.
"Do you know where my brother is? He wasn't at his apartment."
"He's at mine," Alex stated, swinging down from the tree and smiling down at Sarah when he achieved two feet on the ground.
"But I wouldn't go there right now," he continued, stopping Sarah as she tried to turn around.
"Why not?" she asked, obviously confused.
"It's just that Spot is there. You know, apologizing and stuff." He finished his statement awkwardly, knowing how protective of her brothers Sarah was.
She contemplated that statement for a second. "Does he mean it?"
Alex nodded, knowing exactly what she meant without her explaining more.
"He really does."
"Do you think he'll fuck up again?" she asked, looking at Alex as if he would know anymore than she.
He shrugged and gave her an apologetic look.
"I honestly couldn't tell you for sure. But if he does, I'll fuck his shit up. No matter how tough he makes himself out to be."
Sarah nodded and softly agreed.
"So, do you want to go out for lunch?" Sarah asked, offering her hand for Alex and smiling brightly at him.
Alex hesitated and Sarah took his hand and squeezed it in between the two of hers.
"I think we need to talk," she stated, serious and looking at him straight in the eye.
"About what?" he asked, voice hesitant and wary.
"I am David's older sister. David is your best friend. You honestly think he doesn't tell me everything that goes on in your guys' lives?"
Alex flushed and averted his eyes, knowing that he was caught.
"Come on, honey," Sarah urged, tugging on his hand slightly, "I'll buy you lunch and you can talk to me."
"Okay, fine," Alex acquiesced, not letting Sarah know that he was, maybe, secretly, a little happy about talking to her.
"You know you love me," Sarah exclaimed, happily dragging him across the quad and into a café.
And it's not like Alex could argue the point, having stayed with the Jacobs all of Christmas break the year before. And the year before that, spring break, back when he had barely even known David, yet alone his family. (Not even to mention all the summer days he spent there, but at that point Alex tended to digress.)
"So what happened?" she asked, once they had sat down and ordered.
"I thought that David had told you everything," Alex retorted, trying for one last bit of belligerence.
Sarah gave him a look and he ducked his head down under her gaze.
"You know perfectly well that it's different hearing it from my brother and hearing it from you, Alex."
"He wanted a boyfriend who doesn't remind him of a girl," Alex burst out quietly, putting his hand to his mouth immediately after.
Sarah gaped at him for a second.
"Alejandro Miguel Cortez," She cried, hard and resolute, "You know for an absolute fact that that's not true!"
"But I heard—"
"90% of the time you eavesdrop, you hear either bad things, or things not pertaining to you, but you think that they are.
"Besides, he bought you dresses. All of the time. Even for no apparent reason. He helped you get in, and out, of them. He forbid you from wearing pants when you met his family because he knew you hated doing so, but thought that it would be easier. He—"
"Okay, okay, I get it," Alex stated, literally leaning over the table and covering Sarah's mouth with his hand.
"I was just scared, you know," Alex asked, his question coming out more of a statement than anything else.
"I think you're still scared of being who you are," Sarah stated softly, taking his hand again and squeezing it gently.
And Alex wanted to deny it. Wanted to rail at her for ever thinking that he was uncomfortable, let alone scared of being who he was. Especially because he knew about himself for years, and he should be totally and completely comfortable in his body. But he couldn't. Because in that moment he remembered everything he thought about himself when he was sad or worried or anxious. (Even in moments when he was at his happiest, sometimes he still whispered 'not normal' to himself when looking in his full-length mirror.)
So he stayed silent and let Sarah lead him out of the restaurant, paying for the food they didn't even come close to eating.
"You need help," she softly stated, once they were outside once more and Alex felt that he could breathe easier.
"I know," he whispered, wrapping his arms around himself and meandering along beside her— and the real reason he hated psychologists finally came to light.
They walked for awhile, and slowly, painfully, Alex became cognizant of the reason why he always kept a box of men's clothes at the back of his closet.
"Do you think that's why he broke up with me?" he asked quietly.
Sarah shook her head.
"I think that he just had some things he needed to take care of, as well," she stated, voice even and sure.
"Though when he does want to come back, you better make him grovel," she continued.
That startled a laugh out of Alex and he nodded his head in agreement.
"That's what your brother said," he replied in response to Sarah's bemused look.
"Yes, well, genetics," Sarah dismissed, not even caring that, as a neuroscience major, she should know full well that it had nothing to do with genetics.
They kept walking after that, going in lazy circles around the quad, until Sarah had to answer a call.
Alex tried not to listen in, heeding her earlier advice about eavesdropping, and contemplated the beautiful day.
"That was Kath," Sarah told him after hanging up the phone, "I need to go back to the apartment and take care of some stuff."
Alex nodded and moved in to hug her goodbye. She responded, hug tight and earnest, and gave him a friendly kiss on his temple.
"You take care of yourself, you hear?" she told him, not letting go of the hug.
"I will," he replied, feeling his body relax incrementally.
"And make sure you think about what I said, yeah?"
"And call me if anything develops."
"I will, Sarah."
"I love you. Tell my brother to behave."
"Love you too. And I aim for him to misbehave, don't worry."
She lightly smacked the back of his head, squeezed him tight one last time, and walked away.
Alex sighed, looked at the time, and headed back to his apartment. If Spot and David weren't done talking, Alex was sure that they were at least done having sex.
As it turned out, Alex's predictions were right. (No, not the sex, he didn't want to even think about that.) Both couples did get back together that day.
It was sweet, actually. Spot stopped by the newspaper room to drop off lunch for David, hot-tempered demeanor cooled into a brash apologetic one. In their politics class, Alex normally saw Skittery come in— grudgingly, carrying a bouquet of flowers or sweets of some sort. (He and Alex always laughed over Race's sentimentality, through from the looks Alex saw Skittery eyeing the gifts with, he suspected that Skittery liked the attention more than not.)
Another week went by before anything "developed" so much that Alex felt the need to talk to David and/or Sarah.
So, he decided to do both. It was always a risky move, talking to both the elder Jacobs siblings at once, but Alex felt that with the right dinner (Thai takeout) and the right setting (his apartment) he could pull it off.
"I'm seeing someone," was the first statement out of his mouth. He then winced at his wording.
"Like, to talk to," he amended quickly, noticing both gaping faces before him, "about my problems."
"Good for you," David replied after a moment, smiling and nudging Sarah, who still seemed to be in shock by his first statement.
"I'm glad," Sarah responded, her smile making Alex feel ten times better about his decision.
"When's your first session?" she continued, speaking through a mouthful of curry.
"It was today."
"And how did it go?" David asked, cutting up his Pad Thai noodles.
"She was really nice. Very informative and helpful."
"You think you'll keep with it?" Sarah took over, after glancing over at David, who was gesturing wildly through his mouthful of rice.
Alex nodded and gave a 'yes,' smiling softly at the thought of finally getting better.
"What else, then?" David asked.
Both Alex and Sarah gave him an inquisitive look.
"I mean, you wouldn't have brought us here just to tell us that. So there must be something else."
David shrugged as if it were no big deal and started eating again. Alex shook his head, but gave a gesture over the table, conceding to David's point.
"This was on my doorstep when I went to get the paper this morning," Alex stated, taking a little note-card off his counter and handing it over to the siblings.
They glanced curiously at the card that Alex had already memorized.
It was ivory cardstock, the weight indicating it was scrap material from an invitation of some sort. (And that's about as far as Alex got before his 'card' knowledge ran out.)
The card was folded in half, the front declaring 'Alex' in block letters.
Inside, the message was simple: 'Meet me at 10pm on the main quad. Tonight.'
"That's kind of creepy," Sarah stated, turning the card over to look for other clues.
"Are you gonna go?" piped up David, immediately after Sarah had finished her sentence.
"Of course he's not!" Sarah exclaimed, giving David a nasty look.
"Are you?" she continued, glancing at Alex in concern.
He shrugged and didn't look at either of them.
"You are!" she exclaimed, voice pitching higher as she gaped incredulously at him.
"I may intend to, yes," Alex hedged, attempting to quell the wrath he knew that he would inevitably face from her.
"Are you stupid or something?" Sarah questioned, slapping David across the back of his neck as he chuckled into his curry.
"I wanna see who it is!" Alex finally shot out, voice raising for the first time in what felt like years.
Both Sarah and David paused. Suddenly their looks got soft and Alex knew that he was found out.
"You just want it to be Louis, don't you?" Sarah asked gently, taking his hand into hers and squeezing it.
Alex sighed and didn't say anything, prompting David to take his other hand and squeeze it in both of his.
"I'm so sorry, love," Sarah soothed, walking over to the side of the table that Alex was on, and sitting next to him.
"He's a dumbass," David added, snorting derisively at the mere thought of Dutchy.
Alex smiled lightly.
"You guys are the best."
"You're pretty damn cool yourself," Sarah responded, hugging him tightly before bringing her food over to her new seat.
Alex, with David and Spot not-so-secretly following him, approached the quad. He pulled his jacket around himself tighter and shivered a little bit in the cool air. Of all the days to finally feel good enough to start wearing dresses again.
He looked at his watch. 9:57. His secret card person should be here any minute. Bouncing on the balls of his feet, he shivered again and bit his lip. He wondered what was going to happen, hoping that it would be good.
A jacket found its way across his shoulders, and Alex looked at it in confusion for a second, before hitching his breath. Oh.
"I was wondering where it went," he murmured, for lack of anything else to say.
"I first asked you out in this quad, a year and a half ago, today."
He nodded and turned around, coming face to face with Louis for the first time since the break-up.
"You don't seem surprised."
"Call me masochistic, but I was hoping it would be you," Alex shrugged, putting the sweatshirt on all the way, smiling faintly at the Left 4 Dead logo as he zipped it up.
"I'm sorry," Dutchy said, pushing his hair back and grimacing at Alex.
"Why did you do it?" Alex asked, in lieu of forgiveness.
"Because I was scared. Because you were the first real relationship that I had ever had, and I was scared because I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you, but I didn't know if that was normal or not."
"Normal's overrated," Alex murmured, picking at the fraying sleeve and not looking up at Louis.
"I know. I figured that out. Unfortunately it was too late."
Alex nodded and continued playing with the stitches, not knowing what to say— not knowing what Louis wanted him to say.
"I love you," Louis finally murmured, voice desperate in a last attempt.
After a few seconds of Alex not saying anything in reply, Louis nodded and took a deep breath.
"Okay. Okay. I won't be that guy that begs and begs, because you know what's best for yourself, and I wouldn't pretend to think otherwise.
"Just know— just know that I love you, and I don't think I'll ever stop. I know I'll never stop. Because you're it for me, Alex, you really are. But I can accept it if I'm not it for you. More than anything else in this world, I want you to be happy.
"So, um, I guess I'll get Specs to pick up—"
"I was going to make you grovel," Alex interrupted, not wanting to hear the rest of Dutchy's statement.
"I was going to make you grovel and beg for forgiveness for dumping me. Because you made me cry, and let me tell you something, I do not cry. But, I can't do it."
He smiled and shook his head ruefully at himself, shrugging and finally looking up at Dutchy.
"I love you too. You're forever, for me," he finished, quirking his lips up and shrugging once more.
Dutchy blinked for a second, tilting his head and gaping the slightest bit.
"Wait," he started, holding up a finger and shaking his head at himself, "you're taking me back?"
"Call me ridiculous for doing so, but yes," Alex nodded, sighing and scrunching his nose up at Louis.
Louis, who just stood there, grinning for a few seconds, before hurrying over to Alex and holding him tightly.
"I am so, so, so sorry," he mumbled, petting Alex's hair and kissing the top of his head every so often.
"It's okay," Alex murmured, holding onto Louis tightly back, "it will be okay. We can work through things together, love."
"Because we're going to get that damn fairytale ending, even if it's the last thing you do?"
Alex laughed and nodded, leaning up on his tiptoes to kiss Dutchy gently.
"Better than a fairytale though, I think. Because it's real."
Louis nodded and grinned, agreeing whole-heartedly.
"Love you, mi amor," Alex whispered, kissing Louis' cheek and smiling gently.
"Love you more, mijn hart," Dutchy replied, and wow, okay, Alex forgot how much he missed the Dutch petnames.
"Agree to disagree?"
And that's where the story ended. Well, not truly, because no story ever really ends. But that's where Alex could have put the 'happily ever after' and everything would have fit well enough into it— not perfectly, but well enough.
But there was something else that would make the 'happily ever after,' even better and more poignant, if only Alex could remember what.
Oh, right, the epilogue:
"Do you have everything?" David asked, tying the laces tighter, despite Alex's wheezed breaths.
"Yes, I have everything," Alex mumbled, gesturing for David to tie them even tighter if possible.
"I don't know why you decided to wear a damn corset, seriously," his best friend muttered, holding the laces in his teeth to pull them tighter.
"Because it looks good."
"Slave to fashion," was all David mumbled around the laces, finally tying them off and gesturing for Alex to look in the mirror.
"I think you look gorgeous."
"Like your opinion matters," Alex stated, doing a slow turn in front of the full-length mirror.
"You know, historically, white was for virgins."
"Then no one should wear white," Alex snorted, fixing the tulle on his skirt and humming to himself.
They stayed there for a second, Alex finally raising his eyebrows at David, who wiped at his face and sniffled the tiniest bit.
"No crying! You're next, you know."
"Doubtful," David muttered, shaking his head and taking one of Alex's hand, squeezing it gently between his own two, "Spot would never think to ask."
"Then you ask him, duh," Alex retorted, squeezing David's hands back, facing forward as his cousin came in to say that everything was ready.
"Yeah, like he wouldn't figure it out," David whispered, linking arms with Alex and starting to walk with him through the hallway.
"It'll put the idea in his head at least," Alex murmured back, biting his lip and waiting for the doors to open.
"Point. But it's no longer time to talk about that."
David paused and looked at Alex, who was white and breathing heavily.
"Don't be nervous. I swear to God, you've known this was going to happen since you two first met."
"I know," Alex replied, taking a deep breath and nodding to indicate that he was ready.
The music started and they walked on step at a time, Alex turning to smile brightly as he met Dutchy's eyes from down the aisle.
And, okay, this was the point in his story where he could safely say:
'And they lived happily ever after.