It wasn't the first time Andy had ridden a bus. Nor was it the first time Andy had ridden a bus by himself. But it was the first time Andy had ridden the bus by himself to visit his boyfriend for the summer, and meet said boyfriend's family.
Nerves were probably the order of the day, Andy thought as he watched the fields pass by the bus windows. No matter how often Nicholas assured him that his family would love Andy, Andy couldn't help but worry. He was just a girly boy, what was there to love?
Of course, Nick—and Andy's family—usually argued greatly with that thought, but they weren't here right now. No one was, except the strange-smelling lady across the aisle, and the man two seats up who kept sniffling. Clearly Nicholas' tiny hometown was not a hot destination for the summer.
Andy reassessed that thought when he stepped off the bus. Nicholas' hometown was a very, very, very hot destination. Hot and humid and Andy was miserable enough he almost wanted to be back on the bus. Even if he had to sit next to that chatty grandmother who'd occupied the seat next to him for over half the trip.
"Andy!" Nick yelled, running across the sweltering parking lot. He swept Andy into a huge hug, and Andy hugged back for a moment.
But only for a moment, because that was all he could bear in the obscene heat. "Your car had better have AC," Andy mumbled, squirming his way out of the hug.
Nick laughed. "And so does the house," he said. "It's nice to see you, too."
Andy leaned back against the comfortable bulk of Nicholas' chest for an instant. "I've missed you," he said. "Campus is so empty over the summer. It's not something you realize until everyone is gone, and you can't find anyone to hang out with."
They grabbed Andy's bags from where they'd been set next to the bus. "You're the one who wanted that internship," Nick pointed out. "I said you should come stay with us for the summer."
Andy's parents were re-doing the house, and wanted everyone out as much as possible during that time. Andy's sister was easy; she worked at a summer camp. His parents themselves had moved in with Andy's aunt and uncle for the duration. Andy, on the other hand, had been unmercifully kicked out of his home and told to find somewhere else to live over the summer. "And work on farms?" Andy said. "Outside, where there's no air conditioning at all?" He snorted. "Not likely."
Nick chuckled, tossing Andy's bag into the trunk. He slid an arm around Andy's waist and dropped a quick peck on his lips on his way around the car. "You adjust," he said. "And usually the wind's off the lake."
They settled into the car, and turned on the blessed air conditioning, chatting idly about their summer experiences as Nick drove home.
"Are you sure they'll like me?" Andy asked, as they turned onto a tiny residential street.
"What's not to like?" Nick asked, pulling in the drive of an older blue home.
"But- I'm your boyfriend!" Andy said.
Nick pulled his key out of the engine, and turned to face Andy as best he could in the car. "Andy," he said, "my fathers are gay. I don't think it'll be a problem."
"But-" Andy said, protesting.
Nick opened his door and hopped out before Andy could get any farther. Andy unbuckled his seat belt and took a deep breath, preparing himself to get out of the car.
Nicholas appeared at the passenger-side door and opened it. "You go to cons by yourself dressed as a girl," he said. "This should be nothing."
"The people at cons are not the family of my boyfriend," Andy said, though he finally stepped out of the car.
"And thank god for that," Nick muttered. He got Andy's luggage out of the trunk, and led the way to the front door.
There was a screened-in porch that ran the whole length of the house's front, and Andy glanced curiously at the scattered toys and winter wear, all of which looked like it hadn't been used for a while. "What if they don't like me?" Andy asked as Nick fumbled with his key.
"Of, for-" Nick started. Then he dropped everything, pulled Andy close and kissed him, one hand sliding up into Andy's hair, the strands pulling slightly as they stuck to Nick's sweaty skin. "They'll like you," Nick said, once he broke the kiss. "Because I like you, and that's all that matters." He pushed open the door, and dragged Andy in by the hand.
Inside was wonderfully cool, and Andy took a moment to simply close his eyes and breath in air that didn't feel like it was melting his lungs.
"Dad?" Nick called, "Dak?"
"In the kitchen!" came the reply.
The kitchen, apparently, was right off the living room, and Andy followed Nick through the first door on the right. It was a cozy little room, done mostly in browns and pale yellows, everything with a sturdy sense of frequent use to it.
"Dads," Nick said, pulling Andy forward. "This is my boyfriend, Andy. Andy, the one covered in flour is my dad, Lleu, and the one covered in frosting is my 'dak,' Jack."
The one covered in flour was of medium height, dark coloring and a rather bulky build. The one covered in frosting was short and thin, his hair a pale color that was either blue or bleached blond, while his skin was a golden tan.
"Dak?" Andy asked, not yet ready to progress beyond that.
Nick grinned sheepishly. "It's from 'daddy-Jack', but I couldn't say all the sounds, so I shortened it to just Dak. I used to call Dad 'da-du', but I outgrew that."
Andy shook his head, but held out his hand to the Lleu. "It's nice to meet you at last," he said.
Lleu put the mixing bowl down on the counter and shook Andy's hand. "Likewise," he said.
Jack unrepentantly licked the frosting off his hand, and held it out as well. Andy looked at it but didn't touch until after Lleu had directed Jack to the sink and the hand was washed and offered again.
"Nicky's told us so much about you," Jack said, "and-" he trailed off, eyes narrowing intently as he studied Andy.
Andy shrunk a little into himself, feeling like he was being measured.
"Yeah, Dak, he's shorter than you, geeze," Nick said, pulling Andy away from his father.
"Ha!" Jack cried triumphantly, poking Lleu in the side as though he'd made a point. He gave Nicholas a hug and then went back to frosting cupcakes.
"Are those for the cakewalk?" Nick asked.
Jack nodded absently, already engrossed in what he was doing.
"You'd better put the next layer on your jello-thing," Lleu said. He nodded at a teapot on the stove, which had just started to whistle.
"Alright, can I-"
A timer went off. "My cookies!" cried Jack, darting across the room.
Andy pressed himself as close to the doorframe as he could without actually becoming one with the wall. Nick sent him a sympathetic glance. The kitchen really wasn't big enough for this much activity.
"You can hide in the living room," Nick offered.
Andy shook his head, edging between the table and the wall into a chair. "I'll just watch," he said.
Nick grinned at him, and winked before turning around to tend to his jello.
Dinner was much less chaotic. Andy had been settled on a spare cot in Nick's room, and then the two had gone out for a short walk. When they got back, Jack had vanished, and Lleu was making dinner. After he waved off their offers of help, Andy got the grand tour of the house, a glass of lemonade, and a cuddle on the porch family swing.
Nick had told him all about the history of his family, and the history of the house, which had belonged to Lleu's grandparents before his grandfather had died, and his grandmother had moved into a retirement home. But mostly they just rested and enjoyed being together again.
Andy was almost asleep when Lleu called them in for dinner.
"Do you two have plans for tomorrow?" Lleu asked, halfway through the meal.
Nick shrugged. "I thought we'd go to the parade, and then make our way back to Sandy's for the potluck, maybe head out to Allison Park and see the fireworks in the evening."
Andy nodded. He hadn't realized they had even that much of a plan, but he didn't mind what they did, so long as it was with Nick. "Will there be goats?" he asked, just to be difficult.
Nick poked him. "If you're good, I'll take you to see old man George's chickens on the fifth," he said.
After dinner Jack produced a shocking number of photo albums, intent on telling every embarrassing story ever about Nick. There seemed to be a disproportionate amount of Christmas and winter photos, but before Andy could ask about them, Lleu appeared and snatched away both books and his lover, saying something about saving his son's dignity. Nick, who had been fluttering around the room trying not to be embarrassed, came and sat next to Andy.
"See," he said. "They like you."
"I guess," Andy muttered, trying not to smile. They cuddled in silence for a little while. "You look a lot like them," Andy said at last. "I guess I wasn't expecting that."
Nick rubbed his shoulder. "I've heard that a lot, but it's just a happy coincidence, really. I'm not the biological relative of either of them." He sighed. "I've never felt that way, though. Never felt like I didn't belong."
Andy smiled, though Nick probably couldn't see it from that angle. "They're good people," he said. "Don't you have a brother?" he asked.
"Oh, Gareth's way older than me and lives in some big city somewhere."
"He doesn't come home for the holidays?" Andy asked.
Nick shrugged. "The winter ones; he says it's too hot in the summer."
Andy sighed and stretched himself out along the couch. "He's right. I don't think I ever want to go outside again," he said.
"You'll come to the parade tomorrow, though?" Nick asked, tangling his fingers into Andy's hair.
"So long as it's with you," Andy murmured as he started drifting off to sleep.
Alright 'fess up; who didn't see that coming? Who didn't realize my oh-so-subtle crossover?