Rictor felt his bones grind as he rolled to the ground, narrowly missing the projectiles aimed to rid his skull of its brains. He could feel Cable watching him, judging him, deciding if he was in peak physical condition. He never was, but Nathan insisted that Julio try anyway.
From the corner of his eye, Rictor saw the object seconds before it hit him square in the jaw, sending sparks of pain through his face and besting him. Julio collapsed on the floor, breathing labouriously and physically ill from pushing himself too hard.
"It's not a crime to use your training," Cable said harshly from the observation deck, looking undoubtedly disappointed and making no effort to hid it. "We're early, but I'm ending this. I expect you to work harder, Rictor. You're dismissed."
"Madre Dios!" Julio hissed, stumbling to his feet and clutching the wall for support. With a clenched fist, he hit the metal then pressed his forehead against the cool surface. The pain was fading from his face, but the ache in his joints was still strong. Slowly, he limped out of the gym.
"Julio?" Shatterstar asked quietly when Rictor stepped into the narrow hall that led to the change rooms. Gaveedra was next on Cable's schedule, eager and early as always, but the warrior stopped and dropped his swords when he saw the defeated mutant.
"Gaveedra," he murmured with his hand to his head, trying to cover his dark eyes from the concerned face. He didn't want Shatterstar to see the weakness, to see the threat of tears his eyelids tried rapidly to blink away. "I just screwed up again. It's nothing major."
"He is harder on you," Gaveedra said quietly, touching his fingers to Julio's face and rubbing the swell of cheekbone beneath the tanned skin. Julio only nodded mutely, his mouth firmly pressed shut, and Shatterstar kissed the dry lips. "It will be all right."
"No, it won't. He thinks he has something to prove, that by somehow making me ‘the best mutant I can be' he corrects what Stryfe did to my father. He doesn't realise that it doesn't matter anymore," Julio muttered, pushing his sweaty hair from his face with his hands and leaning back against the wall. "I don't know what else I have to do to convince him that I don't blame him."
Shatterstar nodded sympathetically, his face tragic and crestfallen. Julio smiled at him, weakly and sadly but smiling nonetheless, knowing that Gaveedra responded more to the physical feelings because he was still new at understanding the emotional ones. Julio wanted his lover to understand that he *would* be all right, and the sombre face lightened slightly, just enough to set the world right again. "How long until your session starts, mi Amor?"
Shatterstar checked his watch. "Twelve minutes."
"Twelve?" Julio repeated, and Gaveedra nodded slowly, not quite understanding why Julio felt the need to repeat the number with such emphasis but trusting that Julio saw some significance. "Twelve minutes can be a very long time."
"I suppose so," Gaveedra replied, his eyebrows furrowed as he looked at Julio, now trying to decide if he was understanding correctly. Julio grinned slightly, flushing under Shatterstar's serious gaze, waiting for everything to click. It would. Eventually.
It had been a busy week for them, and they had barely seen each other, but a month ago, Julio could list it to the minute, they had made love, no, more than that, they had become *one* creature forged from that love. Julio had grown used to sharing his bed with Gaveedra, waking to find the long body draped over his, opening his eyes to see the silver ones looking back. A week apart was far too long. There had been a few brief encounters since then, mostly stolen kisses and light touches, but it had only heightened Julio's desire for his best friend. Now seemed an almost perfect moment as if time itself had been waiting for them in the abandoned passageway.
Julio looked up and down the hall, convinced that it was empty and that no one would come for at least another half-hour, not until Sam had his session. Shatterstar followed his eyes, grinning slightly to himself as he finally came to an awareness of what Julio wanted, of what Shatterstar himself was all too willing to give. Within seconds, Gaveedra had taken the steps to bring himself to Julio and he wrapped his arms around Rictor's trim body, wrists settled softly on prominent hips.
"This is dangerous," Gaveedra whispered, brushing his lips against his partner's forehead, pressing kisses along the dark line of hair. Julio only nodded and brought his hands upon Gaveedra's sculpted back, pressing the tall body closer. "But I want you to feel better."
"And I need you, Gaveedra."
Gaveedra smiled brightly, his handsome face lighting up, and Julio pulled them together again, his legs automatically settling on either side of Star's thigh. With a grin, Shatterstar kissed Rictor deeply, drawing sweet nectar from wanton lips, and he pushed Julio against the wall, his knee bending and lifting, sweeping into the vee of Julio's legs.
Rictor groaned loudly, muffling his desirous cries into Shatterstar's shoulder and hooking his arms around Gaveedra's chest so his fingers could tangle with the red hair. Shatterstar pushed against him, the swell of his hip deliberately rubbing against Rictor's burgeoning erection.
Julio closed his eyes, feeling the kisses on his face and the urgent grinding against his groin and losing himself to the breathtaking sensations, letting the stronger body that moved so determinedly control everything. Rictor didn't want to think, didn't want to worry, he only wanted to feel, to feel the need of his lover, to feel all of his love and his lust and his desire and mix it all with what Julio had in himself.
The hands that had been resting on Julio's hips, kneading and pressing the subtle roll of muscles, suddenly slid behind Rictor's body, large palms cupping the swell of toned buttocks and lifting, pressing them together so tightly Julio lost track of where he ended and Gaveedra began.
Julio felt himself tense and thought only momentarily that he was still dressed, the fabric of his short straining but still intact, then he came with a muted whimper, his sounds dying out to the mouth that was suddenly upon his, swallowing his cries.
Gaveedra tightened his arms around Rictor, holding them together and refusing to let go, and Julio smiled warmly, realising his face was flush with heat and how terribly obvious it would be to anyone who saw him what they had been doing. Shatterstar opened his mouth to say something, but Julio put his fingers to the parted lips.
"Can I return the favour, mi Amor?"
"It is not necessary. You are tired and upset. I do not want to be a burden."
"Do you *want* me to touch you, Gaveedra?" Julio whispered, tucking an errant strand of russet hair behind the Mojoworlder's ear. If Rictor asked, Shatterstar would turn the world around and never ask for anything in return. It was ...worrisome. "Gaveedra? Do you want me to touch you?"
"Yes," he replied quietly as if he still felt he was asking too much, but Julio kissed the side of the beautiful head, christening the sharp cheekbone to seal his assurance. Rictor knelt before his lover, his fingers curved into the tensed thighs and his thumbs gently stroking the smooth skin. "Oh, yes, Julio."
Julio slid the shorts down the muscular legs then ran his hands up the perfect flesh, his fingers coming together to curl around the hot length. He stroked lightly to tease, aware of how close Gaveedra was to release and wanting only to delay it, to let his lover feel the pure bliss Julio had experienced.
"Julio," Gaveedra murmured, his arms lifted over his head and his belly taunt with need, and Julio took the burning erection into his mouth, sucking and licking, tasting the sweet honey of Gaveedra's body and wanting only to drink of it forever.
Gaveedra whimpered, his back arching as his fingers clutched at the wall, finding nothing to hold, and he came with a muted groan. Julio pressed his face to Shatterstar's stomach and kissed it firmly before standing up, taking the shorts with him.
"Meet me in my room," Julio whispered and kissed his love one last time, lingering and not wanting to part, not even for half a day. They had been too long apart already, and they held tightly together, grasping at the moment. "Tonight."
"And every night after, Julio."
"Where's Roberto? And Rictor?" Cable did another quick headcount just to make he wasn't missing the obvious, especially when the obvious couldn't blend in if he tried. "And Shatterstar?"
"Haven't seen them, sir," Sam said sleepily, yawning despite himself and running a hand through his blond hair, "not since yesterday. Don't know about Star, but Ric and Bobby are probably still sleeping."
"I'll get them," Domino said, "start the training."
Domino smiled as Nate continued to fume, chasing Sam, Tabitha, Jimmy and Terry into the gym while ranting about the value of punctuality. Domino burst into Bobby's room first, clapping loudly and yanking the sheet from Roberto's body.
"Up and at ‘em, Sunspot," Domino whispered in his ear and the startled Brazilian jumped, blushing fiercely when he realised he was nude. "I expect you down in the gym in five minutes. I'm timing you."
She left Bobby to dress, smiling smugly to herself. She always took such perverse pleasure in recovery duty, loving the look of extreme panic that could cast away sleep from anybody in seconds. It was often the height of Domino's day.
Domino walked down the hall to Rictor's room, trying the door and realising it was locked. Oh well. With a kick, the door flew open and the sight her eyes feasted upon was indeed worth the effort.
"Huh?" Julio muttered, replaying the voice in his head. It didn't sound like Gaveedra. Over and over again it repeated. Nope, not Gaveedra. Domino. Julio's eyes shot wide open and he immediately grabbed for the blankets which were long gone. Star was already out of the bed, dressing as quickly as he could and knowing exactly what they were missing. "It's not what it looks like."
"It's exactly what it looks like," Domino replied, trying very hard not to smile and look seriously grave instead. "Now get up, both of you, and get to the gym before Nate comes hunting for you himself."
Julio was dressed in ten seconds.
After the training session, Domino pulled Rictor and Shatterstar aside and asked them to join her for a few minutes, being as gruff and demanding as she could be for their sakes. They exchanged looks but followed without a word. Once she was sure they were far from eavesdroppers and inside Nathan's den, she sat down.
"Care to join me, boys?"
"Julio, sit down." Julio promptly sat and clasped his hands, aware of the equally stoic body sitting perfectly still beside him. Their legs were touching, just slightly, but it was enough to be comforting. "We're going to have a little talk, not because I think it's any of my business but because I don't like the fact you're hiding it. I'm not even going to pretend last night was the first night. How long?"
"A month, a little bit more," Julio muttered, looking to Gaveedra who nodded in agreement, moving his leg slightly, "and we're going to tell the others, eventually. We've talked about it a lot. We just haven't got around to it."
"A month? God, kids, I'm blind, I'm sorry."
"Nothing to be sorry about," Julio replied quickly. "We just wanted a bit of privacy, and well, to be honest, I'm not sure I want to ruin that privacy. Between ‘Berto and Tab, I've heard them talk about ... about ... well, about people like me enough to be really worried."
Domino frowned. "People like you?"
"I'm gay, Domino, didn't you know?" Julio asked with a slight smile.
"No kidding. And you, Star?"
"I am gay also, though that was not the term we used on Mojoworld. Our word did not carry such negative connotations because it is not so frowned upon there as it is obviously here, which I simply cannot not bring myself to understand at all. Humans!"
Gaveedra exclaimed it with a shake of his head, putting such exasperation into his voice that Julio smiled and took the warrior's hand, squeezing it as if he could somehow make humankind more sensible with his fingers.
"Listen, if any one of them gives you a hard time when, and I am intentionally leaving out an ‘if' here because if you guys are as serious as I think you are there is no ‘if', you come out, you tell me, okay? I'll have a little chat with them."
Shatterstar looked at her. "And you are not even surprised, are you?"
"I'm too old, Star, to be surprised by much anymore. Repeat a word of what I'm about to say to anyone ever and I'll gut you, but this is a lonely life we lead and if you can find love anywhere, whether it be in your enemy or your best friend, take it. Missed opportunities, you'll regret them to the day you die, kids."
"Do you regret?" Julio asked quietly, and Domino nodded, her chin barely moving but Julio looked away anyway, uncomfortable that their pillar of stone wasn't such a rock after all. "Should we tell Cable?"
"I would, but it's your choice." Domino suddenly narrowed her eyes, glaring at Julio then turning her sight on Gaveedra, making sure they got equal treatment. "You boys are practising safe sex, aren't you?"
Julio found himself blushing up a storm, his face going from cool to piping hot in four seconds. Madre Dios. The dreaded question. And from *her* no less. "Yes ... no ... I mean ... we don't use ... I mean ... we should but ... the tests ... they ... we use ... uh ..."
"Christ. Star, translate for me here. Your boyfriend is speaking man-ese."
"We do not use condoms because we have both tested negative for all diseases. We use lubrication, water-based, and we do nothing that is not pleasing for both partners. Julio is a very enjoyable lover. Mmm."
"All right, too much information. It's one extreme or the other with you two, isn't it? But that's good, kids, good to hear, so you're free to go. Moral of today: don't sleep in or Domino will bust in on the old lovefest, okay?"
Julio nodded and grabbed Shatterstar. They walked bravely into the hall, rounded a corner then burst into laughter, the kind that signalled intense relief and barely missed insanity. Julio rested his head against Gaveedra's shoulder, hugging him tightly.
"It is nice that she cares," Star said quietly with a gentle smile.
"Yet she took so much pleasure in seeing us squirm," Julio replied, only vaguely aware that someone could turn that corner any second and see them together. "Gaveedra, do you want to tell the others? I mean, I know we've talked about it but we never said when. Maybe she's right, maybe it is better just to tell them, even Cable."
Shatterstar shrugged. "If you like. They are your friends."
"They're yours, too."
Shatterstar shook his head. "No, your friends. I have scarcely ever talked to any of them, with the exception of Teresa and she tended to be very drunk most of the time. I have only ever really talked to you and Adam, and I have not seen X-Treme for months. I hope he is all right."
Julio laughed suddenly, putting his fingers to his mouth as the other hand tightened reflexively around Shatterstar. "Can I confess now that I was very worried you'd see something in him that I felt you should see in me? And not just worried, terrified, utterly scared shitless."
"Adam?" Shatterstar smirked slightly, the corners of his mouth crinkling with mute merriment. "Well, he is very attractive, but it would be like loving myself. We are far too similar, and he is as displaced as I am. It could never have worked."
"All right, where's Star and who are you really?"
"I abducted him several months ago. I was wondering when you would notice."
Rictor laughed, looking into the bright eyes and feeling the love sweep over him again and again, love from Gaveedra, love for Gaveedra, it was such a wonderful mixture that Julio wondered how he could have ever existed without it at all.
"Cable?" Julio said quietly, watching the various tools float around his leader's head, levitated by telekinesis and held in an oddly calming wave of motion. Cable look up from the jet engine, back grease mixed with his white hair. "Can we talk to you?"
"Sure. What's on your mind?"
Shatterstar took over, knowing that if he left it up to Julio they'd be in there for the next six hours and those were six hours he could spend making love to his beloved. "We are pursuing a relationship. We have decided to inform you of it."
The tools dropped from the air to the floor, clanging loudly, and Cable turned to look at them, his eyes darting between the two X-Force members as his eyebrows formed a single solemn line. "The two of you? Together? Hmm."
"Hmm?" Julio repeated. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means exactly that. Hmm." Cable stood up and brushed his hand through his hair, frowning deeply when he felt the grease. Wiping his fingers on his jeans, he looked at them again. "Well, I'll tell you what I told Sam and Tab: as long as it doesn't affect the team, it's none of my business. The minute it does, you'll never get rid of me. Sound fair?"
"It will not interfere with our work," Shatterstar vowed, and Julio saw the looming threat of fanaticism in his lover's eyes, so he grabbed Gaveedra before the warrior could make any vows or pledges on his sword. "But Julio ..."
"He gets it, Star."
"You have no respect for tradition, surely you must know that."
"No, I just get jealous when you promise that sword more things than you do me."
Cable looked between them, watching Julio all but pull the taller mutant out of the room as they bantered happily, and he shook his head. Kids. Strange kids. Strange kids who obviously deserved each other.
Cable smiled and went back to his work.
"You are pacing," Shatterstar said quietly from the floor, his elbows resting on the carpet as he read the television guide for the upcoming week's programming. Julio stopped in front of him, looked down then beginning to pace again, back and forth, back and forth, his body glimmering attractively in the dim light. Gaveedra found it increasingly hard to pay attention to one of the other loves of his life, television. "You are making me nauseous."
Julio sighed with extreme exaggeration and sat on the bed, leaning forward and placing his hands on Star's shoulders, beginning to knead the tight flesh. "I'm thinking group email. Get everyone with one shot, you know?"
Gaveedra smiled to himself. "You worry too much, Julio."
"And you don't worry enough, mi Amor," Julio responded with a grin, pressing a gentle kiss to Shatterstar's temple as his fingers brushed the red hair so it lay across only one shoulder, spilling onto the smoothly sculpted chest. "Anything good on next week?"
"Not really, no," Gaveedra replied, leaning forward as Julio worked his hands down, pressing and rubbing in all the right spots. "You should just be blunt and tell them that you are gay, for I doubt they will be surprised about me ..."
"Trust me, they will be."
"But I have been so obvious," Star replied, looking genuinely perplexed, and Julio smiled softly, kissing him again and thinking that he could probably kiss Gaveedra another million times and never be completely fulfilled. "I have never so much as glanced at a female."
"You haven't exactly drooled over the men either," Julio pointed out, running his thumbs down the length of spine beneath his hands, pushing into the muscle and bone. Shatterstar moaned appreciatively. "And you don't do obvious, Gaveedra."
"Or perhaps you do not see obvious," he replied with a smirk.
Julio laughed and conceded with a hum, gesturing for Gaveedra to join him on the bed. The warrior left the magazine on the carpet and climbed onto the mattress, urging Julio to lie down so he could return the favour of massage.
"Julio, it matters not what they think. This is your life, and if this makes you happy, if we make you happy, then they must be happy for you. Where is that oil you bought?" Julio pointed to the bag by the window, his face buried in the pillows. Gaveedra grabbed the bottle and poured the vanilla-scented lubricate onto his fingers. "If they are not happy then they are not your friends at all."
"Real life doesn't work out like television, Gaveedra," Julio muttered, arching his back as Shatterstar sat across his legs and began to rub his shoulders, working out the sore knots. "Though I would probably kill for a script right about now."
"I will tell them if you like," Gaveedra said, using his knuckles to work out the kinks in Julio's back, pressing the exact points needed to relax the tense body beneath him. "And if they say anything to you, they will regret it."
"Promise me you won't touch any of them, Gaveedra."
Julio lifted his head. "Yes. I won't have you going after them just because they're ignorant. I expect you to shoulder anything anyone might say and brush it off. Deal with your head and not your sword, okay?"
"Then I will at least call them dirty names," Shatterstar said lightly, pushing Julio's head back to the pillows with warm, sweet smelling fingers, "and insult their mothers. You humans seem to do that a lot."
Rictor laughed into the cotton bedding. "Where on earth did we find you?"
Shatterstar shifted on Julio's legs, working the small of Rictor's back, pressing and kneading the stiff muscles. Long, russet hair pooled on Julio's arm, tickling him lightly, and Gaveedra moved deliberately to entice a pleasing squirm from Julio whenever the hair touched his slim ribs. "Stop moving, Julio."
"I can't," he moaned, "you're driving me crazy, Star."
Lips came to Julio's ear, the breath soft and warm as Gaveedra spoke. "Am I, my love?"
Julio gasped suddenly as Shatterstar kissed between his shoulders blades, a hot tongue leaving its mark. The large hands paused on Julio's buttocks, stroking the twin swells of flesh with gentle caresses. "Madre Dios, you always know the perfect spots."
"That is because I know you," Gaveedra replied with a smile, his fingers gripping Julio's slender hips and turning him over. Shatterstar sat atop his lover, his thighs astride the slim body and his hands pressed lightly to the smooth chest. "I love you, Julio."
"And I love you, Gaveedra." Rictor smiled as the redhead beamed innocently and he lifted his fingers to the trim belly, but Shatterstar grabbed his hand first and kissed the fingers, wet and hot. "You are so sexy."
Shatterstar smiled and lay Rictor's arms to the bed, holding them so Julio understood they were not to be moved. A shy grin and Gaveedra sat back, his weight resting lightly on Julio's torso. The hands swept under the copper hair and brought it away from the muscular body, Gaveedra's back arching and his eyes half-closing, mouth parting and moistening dry lips. Julio's breath caught in his throat and his hips moved slightly, his erection like a steel pillar and pressing urgently against the warrior.
"I'm not going to last if you keep doing that,"Julio murmured, aware an adonis straddled him and held him in a jail of his own desire. Cruel and inhumane torture, Julio thought lovingly, but so wanted, such a gift of self. "I want you."
"Do you?" The accent was thick, hard and heavy, and Julio nodded, watching as the silver eyes opened slowly and focussed on him. "And to think I want you, too. You are so beautiful, Julio. I am proud to be your lover."
Julio bit back the groan as his body responded to the declaration.
Gaveedra reached behind them, doing something Julio could not see, but he felt it when slippery hands encircled his throbbing erection, stroking him, readying him for the paramounts of pleasure. Julio moaned in protest when the hands left, leaving him feeling empty and alone, but then the body settled more securely, sinking down onto him. The warmth of Gaveedra's body caused him to see stars, thousands of them, millions of sparkling lights inflaming his very soul. There could be nothing more perfect than this union of bodies, Julio thought, to be inside him and feel him like this.
"I want to touch you," Julio whispered, and Gaveedra shook his head. "Please."
"No," Shatterstar repeated quietly, a coy smile on his lips, "you watch and feel my love."
Rictor nodded mutely and realised he could lift his arms if he chose to lift them, but the fact that Shatterstar had left his wrists unbound, that he trusted Julio enough to leave him free, compelled him to stay where he was, watching with wide eyes as the love of his life touched himself.
Beauty, Julio thought, he doesn't even realise he's beautiful, that he is beauty in its most perfect form. Perfect beauty and perfect love, oh God! His hips thrust upward, his back bent as his body struggled to travel deeper into the incredible warmth his lover offered selflessly to him, and Gaveedra worked muscles Julio hadn't thought could exist, pushing him to the grand peaks of desire.
"Dios!" Julio cried out as his orgasm raced through him, bracing his feet on the bed as Shatterstar went stiff, his grey eyes closed and the mouth open, gasping in breath, so utterly beautiful and never truly seeing it.
Julio needed to touch that beauty. "Come here?"
Gaveedra slid into Julio arms, his arm reaching back for a towel from the floor and wiping them clean. They kissed slowly and smiled tenderly, twin reflections in a mirror. "Julio, I will tell them, all right? Do not worry anymore. Trust me."
"Only you," Julio replied and closed his eyes, pressing his cheek against the smiling face as the strong, warrior arms wrapped around him, holding them together as they drifted off to sleep together. "Only ever you, mi Amor."
When Julio awoke, Gaveedra was gone. Sometimes he stayed, sometimes he left, Julio could never predict what made each morning different. Rictor stood up and stretched then grabbed a pair of track pants and tee-shirt, pulling them on before padding sleepily down the hall to the bathroom.
Hungry. That was his next thought as he washed his hands. Very hungry. So he went down to the kitchen, sneering mildly as he entered and realised he was the last one awake. No good cereal left, then, just the healthy crap only Domino ate.
"Hello, Ric," Terry said brightly, and Jimmy waved with a grin, switching his bowl with Terry's when she wasn't looking. Sam, Roberto and Tabitha all semi-smiled but didn't say anything though Julio got the sense they had been talking before he came into the kitchen.
"Uh, hello," he replied slowly, wondering idly if he should have brushed his hair. He ignored them all and went to the fridge, throwing it open and grabbing the carton of orange juice. He swore when he realised it was empty and slammed the fridge door. "Shit, guys, can't you leave some for ... oh."
Julio blinked then looked more closely at the refrigerator. Amidst the usual garble of clipped cartoons and coupons that no one but Terry ever used, there was a picture. Julio smiled slightly, mostly to himself, when he recognised it. Gaveedra had dragged him into one of those photo-booths that seemed a prerequisite for every mall in the general area. They were the only pictures ever taken of them together, and Julio noted with mild relief, the one on the door was also the tamest of the four.
A heart had been very carefully drawn around the edges in red marker, probably forever marking the fridge, and a note was attached to it with a strip of tape, the script on the paper very recognisable. ‘For further information, Julio will be sending out a group email.'
"Uh ..." Julio turned around slowly. "So... surprise?"
"Then it's true?" Roberto asked, evidently having attributed it to Star's bizarre sense of humour until that exact second because the look on Sunspot's face was quite clear that he hadn't believed it until then. "But you ... you can't ..."
"But I can." Julio swallowed loudly. "And I am."
Roberto couldn't seem to find the words and he stood up quickly, spilling his cereal and leaving the room. Tabitha followed him, not even letting her gaze rise from the floor, and Julio looked at those who stayed, waiting for Sam to follow suit, but the blond leader just continued eating.
"Wonderful," Julio grumbled as he sat down, drenching the bran flakes with milk then munching angrily until he bit his tongue. Taking a deep breath, he glared at the table until he felt able to speak without screaming. "Where is he, by the way?"
"Roberto said something cruel to him and he left without dismembering anyone," Terry said quietly, eyeing her bowl of bran flakes then playfully slapping Jimmy's arm when she realised he had stolen her Lucky Charms. "Just let them get used to it, Ric."
Julio shrugged bravely. "It doesn't matter."
"Yes, it does," Sam said quietly, "and they're wrong to think otherwise. Ah can't say that this isn't a surprise because it is, but Ah can tell y'all are happy, so Ah'm happy for you. Besides, Star is scary and if you've saved the world from him, all the better."
Julio smiled cheerlessly. "Thanks, Sam."
"Hey, Ric, you can take solace in the fact that I'm now a hundred dollars richer thanks to you," Jimmy said with a grin, spooning as much of the Lucky Charms as he could into his mouth before Terry managed to steal them back. "See, Terry and I had this bet to see how long it would take you guys to admit you had some love action going on. Another week and I would have lost. Great timing, man!"
"Aye, thanks, Julio," Terry said sarcastically, wrestling the rest of the Lucky Charms back to her side of the table. "Really, I don't know where these guys were looking, but ye're just perfect together, gorgeous. And happy. I don't think Shatty's ever smiled as much as he has these past few months."
Julio opened his mouth to offer his sincere thanks then stopped abruptly, raising an eyebrow at her comment. "But we've only been together a month."
Terry and Jimmy exchanged humoured looks, and Terry spoke, "I guess someone should have informed ye guys what we two already knew, eh? I swear, left to yer own devices, ye men would never know a damned thing, would ye?"
"Oh, God, not the man-speech again," Jimmy said with mock horror, covering his ears and laughing loudly. Terry shoved him and shook her head, grinning as she pitied his surplus testosterone. "Hey, Shatty, man! Get your ass in here!"
Julio looked up as Gaveedra entered the kitchen and he smiled warmly at the solemn warrior, aware of the three beady sets of eyes on them, waiting for them to do something spectacular and decidedly out of the closet. Gaveedra rolled his eyes and shook his head, clearly dismissing them as nuts. Julio laughed and took his lover's hand.
"Good morning, mi Amor."
And in front of their friends, they kissed to welcome the glory of a new morning.