Written for Naatz.


"I'm sorry, you want to buy me a house?" Mikey glanced up at Arch in utter confusion.

"Yeah, I do believe that is what I just said." Arch smirked, and Mikey was never quite sure how to take that. In his past experience, smirking was usually followed by insults, which usually led to him huddling up in some corner of some closet and trying not to chew on his hair like the useless crazy bastard-child his mother had always accused him of being.

"You want to buy me a house." It bore repeating, because things like that didn't just happen in real life, and what was more, they didn't happen in Mikey's life. Had Arch nonchalantly informed him that he was going to blow up Mikey's house and had just spent the last six months of their mutual acquaintance getting Mikey to soften up enough so that the final blow would hurt that much more...well, that just made infinite more sense to Mikey. "You can't buy me a house."

"Silly Mikey," Arch sing-songed, ruffling Mikey's hair. That Mikey couldn't stop himself from flinching was his own private moment of humiliation. "If I say that I bought you a house, then I bought you a house. C'mon, now, let's go see it so that you can tell me what a kickass boyfriend I am." Arch stuck his chest out, striking an absolutely ridiculous pose.

It was hard not to smile, although Mikey was sure that his smile was a wobbly uncertain imitation of the real thing.

"If it's made of gingerbread, all you had to do was say so." He rolled his eyes for good measure, but his stomach was rolling around and taking his heart for the ride. Of course Arch wouldn't have bought him a real house. How stupid was he to assume that? Arch was joking around. Like in all the myths from all the parts of the world that Mikey had read when he was younger, Arch was the trickster. Demon or god, it didn't matter. Even when the things Arch said hurt, it was still worth the fun.

"It's not gingerbread, dumbass." Arch laughed, bodily hauling Mikey up against him and tickling Mikey's ribs with his fingertips and Mikey's hair with his breath.

"Gingerbread, doll house," he rolled his eyes cynically, "the end result is the same. Quit goofing around."

"C'mon, hold out your hand."

Gingerly, Mikey let Arch uncurl his fingers, and he watched Arch place a regular, ordinary metal key in the center of his palm. It felt warm against Mikey's skin as his fingers automatically curled back around it. "You didn't buy me a house. You can barely afford your own."

"Don't be a wet blanket. C'mon, we're going to go see your new house." Arch pulled him along, leaving Mikey little choice but to follow. They went past the street where Mikey lived with his mother who pretended that she wasn't a mother. They went past the street where Mikey's father lived with his new family that didn't have space in their house or in their hearts for another person, let alone for someone like him.

They went halfway across town and walked down the street where Arch lived and stopped in front of the house that Arch barely owned.

"This is your house," Mikey said out loud, cringing slightly at the sheer obviousness of the statement.

"Try the key," Arch urged, his eyes shiny and happy and really, there was no saying no to a face like that, even if it meant getting burned later, so Mikey tried the key. The door swung open. "See!" Arch practically bounced on the balls of his feet in excitement, obviously expecting some kind of exuberant reaction from Mikey in return.

"I don't understand."

Arch's mouth worked wordlessly for a few moments before a small frown settled on it. "Maybe if I show you, you'll get it."

He dragged Mikey past the study he'd managed to somewhat clean, and up the stairs, avoiding the creaky step that Arch had named Bob because something that loud deserved a name to go with its personality. They went past the bathroom that Mikey's toothbrush had a somewhat spotty and casual relationship with. Arch stopped them in front of his bedroom, and with flourish flung open the door and practically threw Mikey into the room.

"You redecorated." Mikey blinked, taking it all in. "Why did you redecorate?" And what did that have to do with Arch's insistence that he'd bought Mikey a house?

"Mikey," Arch sighed, long and put upon, "what is your favorite color?"

"Blue?" Mikey returned hesitantly.

"And what color did I repaint the room?"

"Blue."

"Any guesses as to why I might have done that?"

"Because it's a color I like and you like me?" Mikey chewed on his bottom lip uncertainly as he slid his gaze over to Arch.

"I more than like you, twerp," Arch ruffled his hair, pulling him farther into the room. "I saved what money I could and I bought those big bookcases, because lord knows you have enough books to start up your own library."

"So I can keep my books here?" Mikey smiled hopefully.

"Yes, you can keep your books here," Arch laughed. "I got a bigger bed because even though you huddle in a small ball on the bed to sleep, I know I kick. I got you your own dresser, too." Arch pointed to the pretty pine piece.

"Thank you." Mikey smiled politely, not really getting what that had to do with Arch buying houses either, but appreciating the gesture nonetheless.

Arch shot him a look of complete consternation before sighing and throwing an arm around Mikey's neck to draw him close. "There's not one closet in this house anymore. I knocked them all out."

"What?" Mikey's breath all but stopped in his lungs. "All of them?"

"Yup. Every last one."

"But, but," Mikey sputtered, "why?"

"Because, I never want my Mikey to have to feel like he has to hide—from himself or anyone else—in his own house." Arch bumped their foreheads together. And Mikey's smile wobbled again because he wasn't sure what the joke was or where it would pop up, but he was starting to think that it might just kill him when the punch line came.

"But this is your house."

"But I bought it for you," Arch murmured, "I could have lived in that stupid cramped apartment on the other side of town for the rest of my life. But you couldn't have and I didn't want to make you."

"You don't have to live with me just because we're in a relationship," Mikey reminded him, shaking even as he said it. A smart person would have taken it all at face value, but Mikey couldn't. He wasn't the kind of person that people wanted to live with, and he wasn't the kind of person who garnered grand gestures. He'd made a life out of living off the scraps of affection that people felt like feeding him.

"I want to. I've wanted to since the beginning, which is why I bought the house and why I'm giving it to you." Arch grinned, tugging on Mikey's ears.

Mikey looked around the room, seeing it with new eyes. Arch had gotten a dresser and a bigger bed to make it easier for Mikey. Arch had gotten bookshelves so that even Mikey's books could be comfortable and at home.

He'd gotten rid of all the closets in the house.

Mikey's tears started before he could even think to stop them.

"It's not supposed to make you cry," Arch murmured into his hair as he held Mikey so tight Mikey could feel his ribs creak from the strain. "It's supposed to make you happy."

"Sometimes, they're one in the same," Mikey managed with a wet giggle.