A/N so this took a long time and I'm sorry, it's not because I didn't have it ready, I did, I just have not had time or energy to edit it. I have a lot of this story already written, it just takes me a long time to get it out to you lot. Hope you enjoy it anyway, DS.

The kids are in bed and all is quiet on the western front. I walk down the stairs feeling all excited and I know I have plenty to feel excited about but I don't know why I should feel it so keenly now. As I walk through the kitchen door I suddenly do.

Doug has his back to me and is humming softly to himself as he washes the dishes. He hasn't heard me come in so I lean against the door frame and take a moment just to watch him, feeling a shock of attraction coursing through my body that is almost painful it is so intense.

He has a really interesting back: expressive in a way I never really thought backs could be. Right now his shoulders are relaxed and he looks at ease and comfortable. I've seen his back when he's been tense and unsure and it looks different: all square and knotted,

"You know there's a dishwasher." I say, causing him to whirl around with a gasp and clutch his chest, "Sorry." I grimace. I didn't mean to startle him. I walk up to him as he rolls his eyes and turns back to the sink to continue his task,

"I know there's a dishwasher," he says snippily, "But there wasn't that many dishes so I thought I'd just do them by hand. Besides, I didnae have anything better to do plus I happen to like washing dishes." I can't help smiling,

"I think you must be just about the only person I know that does." I hum as I stand beside him, pick up a tea towel and begin to dry plates, "It's so mundane and boring."

"Loading a dishwasher is mundane and boring too and takes about as long as it does to wash the things by hand." he says, "Mundane and boring can be kind of comforting though." he says quietly, almost sadly, then he shrugs his shoulder and returns to the task.

The more time I spend with this man the more I see the world through two very different eyes. Washing dishes is always something I have tried to avoid because it was a chore that took me away from having fun. Doug sees it as something to find comfort in and I wonder what kind of home he came from that causes him to think that washing dishes is almost a treat.

I suddenly want to hug him so badly. His shoulders have tensed and I want them to go back to being relaxed like they were before he knew I was there. I wrap my arms around him from behind and pull him into a hug. He gives a surprised little grunt but doesn't pull away, he leans back with a soft sigh and tips his head to one side as his hands slip over mine,

"Are Amy and Jake in bed now?" he asks, pulling away and changing the subject before I can ask him anything else about why he likes washing dishes. It's as if he's embarrassed to have shown a weakness in succumbing to my embrace and to have revealed something about himself that I might find weird. I release my hold and lean back against the bench beside him,

"Well, they're in bed, but they aren't asleep. I doubt they will be for some time, they're too excited about their new baby brother or sister." I say, he smiles a half smile that I think is just adorable, "Besides that, they are also waiting for you to go and say goodnight." He turns to face me with wide eyed surprise,

"Me, why?" he asks in utter disbelief. I chuckle and lean in to kiss him on the cheek,

"Because you're here, and they like you." I say. He pulls back and regards me with a sceptical frown,

"They like me?" he asks and I nod, "What the hell did I do to make them like me?"

"Dougie, you just taught them how to make spaghetti sauce. Kids love cooking, and besides, you're a likeable person, you didn't have to do anything except be yourself." he scoffs and turns away, "And Amy thinks you have nice hair." he actually snorts, "I think she has a crush on you."

"A crush?" he splutters, "She doesnae have a crush on me, don't be so bloody ridiculous." he's blushing though and I can't help smirking as I wrap my arms around him from behind again and whisper softly in his ear,

"I think I have a crush on you too." I murmur, and I feel him tremble beneath my hold,

"Don't be so bloody daft, Mason." he says, but he doesn't pull away, instead he turns, inside the cocoon of my arms and faces me, his hands placed gently on my chest,

"It's true." I tell him, gazing into his lovely green eyes: eyes that I could just drown in.

He has this look on his face, not like he doesn't believe me, but like he doesn't want to let himself believe me, like he doesn't want to believe it is even possible to believe me. How many times has someone said something nice to him that turned out to be just a line to get him to give himself to them? I suddenly feel very angry that anyone could do that to someone as incredibly amazing as him.

He seems to see a change of expression on my face, even though I didn't even think I was even showing it,

"What?" he asks, frowning slightly,

"Nothing," but I see he doesn't believe me, "Just..." I falter, what do I want to say to him? That I think all the other guys he has been with are incredibly stupid to not have seen how amazing he is? That they don't have any idea what they were missing out on? That I would quite gladly punch each and every one of them in the face for hurting him?

What am I thinking though? I don't even know anything about his past relationships, except that he told me he hasn't really had any, long term ones anyway. How do I even know he was hurt? Maybe it was him that ended them before they could get serious. Maybe he'll do that to me. Somehow I don't think he will though, and I have no idea how I know this, it's just a gut feeling,

"Mason, you know, I could stay here all night watching you think but there are dishes to wash and besides that I think I'd get bloody cramp." Doug says impatiently. I chuckle and lean in to kiss him but he turns away nervously and picks up the last of the dishes. Well I missed my chance there didn't I? I should have just kissed him and not let my mind wander. I sigh gently,

"So will you go and say good night to the kids?" I ask, trying not to let the frustration I feel seep into my voice, "I said I would ask you." he sighs,

"Mason, I wouldn't even know what to say." he says and I frown, he looks serious and anxious, why would he not know how to say goodnight to a kid? Surely he remembers how it was said to him when he was young. Or, oh my god, maybe he doesn't, maybe no one ever did. How horrible is that? He looks so uncertain and stressed about it and I don't want him to be,

"Just go up there and say good night to them, they won't bite you, they like you. Don't worry about it, just be yourself, like you have been all night." I assure him, "They'll be disappointed if you don't go." I add and that seems to clinch it.

He frowns then takes a deep breath as if steeling himself for an assault on a really high mountain or a kid being sent to the Principal. He nods and walks towards the door then stops and turns to me. He looks like I'm sending him down death row or something and I can't help laughing although I know that it's probably going to piss him off,

"Go on." I chuckle, "If you're not down in five minutes I promise I'll come rescue you from a fate worse than death." he purses his lips and narrows his eyes,

"Arsehole." he mutters as he turns and disappears through the door to the sound of my giggles,

"Just remember not to swear at them." I say as a jokey last word but I don't miss the sudden cloud pass across his eyes and the way his face pales. I did piss him off.

Mason, why are you such a motor mouth sometimes?

I want to know what he does actually say to the kids. I know it's probably wrong but I want to be a fly on the wall. Should I follow? Should I sneak up the stairs and listen discreetly? He'll think I'm checking on him and I'm not because I know he will do just fine without my interference. I'm just curious that's all.

I take seconds to decide that I will spy on him, although spying is probably a harsh word for curiosity. I know if he sees me he will be even more pissed but I just can't help myself, I'm his stalker.

He is in Jake's room when I get to the top of the stairs,

"What made you talk so funny, Doug?" I hear Jake asking, and I fight the urge to laugh and give away my espionage. I know he's been dying to ask that all night,

"I don't sound funny where I come from, Jake." Doug explains, his voice soft and full of tolerance, which surprises me, but it shouldn't because he was so patient with all of us when we were making a mess in the kitchen. He never once lost his cool. He did roll his eyes a couple of times and we shared some amused smirks at the things that Jake and Amy were saying. It was a great evening, even if it wasn't what we had originally planned, it was still great,

"Where do you come from?" Jake asks,

"I told, you, Jake, I come from Scotland." Doug tells him, "It's a long way from here."

"Is it cold?"

"Oh yeah, so cold sometimes it freezes your bones, and when it's not cold it's windy and raining."

"Is that why you came here?" Jake asks in that pseudo adult way kids sometimes have when they are trying to sound empathetic, "Because it was so cold?"

"Yeah, something like that. It's definitely warmer here."

"You must have been sad to leave your mom and dad though." he says,

"Not really, Jake" he says in such a sad tone that I feel a lump in my throat.

That statement tells me a lot about his relationship with his parents or rather the lack of it. I hear him say good night to Jake and I duck down behind an ottoman as he comes out of Jake's room to make his way to Amy's,

"Hey Doug?" Jake calls to him and he turns in the doorway,

"What, ye wee monster?" he asks, almost affectionately: doesn't know how to speak to kids my ass. I hear Jake giggle and it makes me want to but I fight against it because I'm supposed to be in the kitchen, not spying on him,

"Will you teach me how to make meat balls next time?" Jake asks, and Doug chuckles,

"Aye, if that's what ye want." he says, sounding surprised and delighted that my cousin has even asked him, "Good night, Jake, sleep tight."

I suck in my stomach and hold my breath as his footsteps sound close by then I hear Amy's voice,

"Dougie, are you gonna be here in the morning?" she asks,

"Oh, I don't know, Amy, maybe." he says and I swallow a gasp, because I would have expected him to want to get a cab home or something. Is he really planning on staying with me until Gareth gets back? It could be a while. We haven't even heard anything yet,

"I can help you make breakfast if you want." she says in her cute little girl voice that melts everyone's heart, and Doug's too apparently,

"I'd like that very much." he tells her and I can't help smiling, "Because Mason and your brother are completely useless in the kitchen." Amy giggles but my smile has faded because of his and her complete treachery. I wasn't that bad,

"Mason only cut his finger once, Dougie." Amy giggles. I look down at the plaster on my finger and grimace,

"Yeah." Doug is giggling too, the little..., "But he managed to bleed over the onions and he did squeal like a girl when he did it."

"I don't even squeal like that, Dougie and I am a girl." Amy giggles again,

"You should be going to sleep now Amy." Doug says between chuckles and she groans, "But I wanna stay awake to see what baby mommy has." she says quietly,

"If ye do that you'll be too tired tae help me tomorrow. Besides, if yer dad calls Mason'll come an' tell ye all about it." I smile at the rapport he appears to have with Amy and with Jake,

"Okay, Dougie." she agrees, "Can I have a hug?" she asks and I imagine Doug giving her a hug. I can hear them both whispering goodnight and then I curl up tighter behind the ottoman as he comes out of Amy's room,

"Aye and ye can come out now, Mason ye bloody eavesdropper." he says and I sheepishly reveal myself, peeping out from behind the ottoman to see him standing with his hands on his hips and his green eyes flashing, "How long were you actually spying on me?"

"I wasn't spying on you as such, Dougie." I say as I stand up and smooth down my shirt. He gives me a sceptical look, "I wasn't." I say in as innocent a tone as I can muster and his scepticism turns to an amused twinkle, "You were worried about what to say, and I didn't want you to feel bad if it went wrong so I followed you just to jump in and support you." I say. He purses his lips and steps past me to go down the stairs,

"Aye, whatever, Mason." he says, but that twinkle is still there and I don't imagine the brush of his hand.

Back in the kitchen I return to drying the dishes and putting them away. I'm almost done when I notice he hasn't washed the saucepan that we used and as I inspect it I realise there is actually quite a bit of sauce left. I am holding it deciding what to do with it when he calls out,

"Don't throw that out." he says quickly, not that I had even gotten around to deciding anything, "I made enough for another meal so it can be frozen." he explains and I frown slightly, "Well, your Auntie won't be able to do much cooking with a new baby to look after so I just thought..." he doesn't finish what he's saying because my lips have stopped him.

When I realised what he was saying I put the pan down and pulled him to me, pressing my lips to his and feeling him melt against me as he wrapped his arms around my neck.

His lips part as I press my tongue against them and he brushes his tongue against mine with a soft moan. Oh lordy, I love kissing him, I just love it. I think I moaned too, although I'm not entirely sure since I have no control over my vocal chords, or any part of my body as all I can focus on is his tongue against my teeth, and tasting the inside of my mouth and the feeling of his body pressed against mine.

My legs have quite literally turned to Jell-O and my heart is beating so fast I think it will beat out of my chest. My ears are even ringing. Douglas McKenzie is such a lovely, lovely man. He doesn't even know my Aunt and Uncle but he's so thoughtful he made them extra sauce to keep for later.

When we eventually pull apart we are both breathless and he is blushing furiously,

"What was that for?" he breaths, regarding me from a slightly awkward angle. I bite my lip and grin,

"Just for being so nice, and amazingly lovely." I say, my voice slightly husky so that I have to clear my throat. He frowns but chuckles,

"I'm not, I just do it automatically, since it makes sense to cook in bulk and freeze ahead." he says,

"Is this another lesson?" I ask, raising an eyebrow, "Should I be taking notes?" he chuckles and shakes his head,

"Take all the fucking notes you want, Mase," he says, "None of it is worth listenin' to."

"Of course it is, Scotty Dog." I say indignantly, "Everything you say is worth listening to." he tips his head to one side as takes a step back so I have to release my hold on him. I fight the urge to protest,

"Mason, you know if you keep saying nice things to me I might start to think it's not such a bad idea to go out with you." Is he serious? He has a wicked twinkle in his eyes though. I push my tongue into my cheek as I reply,

"And that would be a bad thing because...?" I ask.

He frowns and looks away so he doesn't see my face fall, or my heart miss a beat in disappointment because I thought we were making some sort of break through here, like that night in his apartment when I was trying to make him see that I do actually like him very much. He shrugs his shoulders nervously and hangs his head. I wait for him to speak, because I know he needs space and time and can't be rushed,

"You told the kids that I'm your boyfriend." he says. I take a step closer to him,

"Yes I did." I say, "I but I wasn't the first one to mention that word." I remind him as I remember the grocery store and the slip of his tongue during our unofficial shopping cart war. He turns to me with a serious look on his face,

"You're right, you weren't." he is frowning and studying me, as if he's trying to gauge my reaction to his words. He looks up into my eyes and I feel my breath hitch, "Is that what you want?" he asks, "Me to be your boyfriend?"

I nod, wordlessly, taking another step closer. Should I reach out to him? Damn I want to touch him so badly. I want to run my fingers through his hair and whisper soft words in his ear and feel him tremble with anticipation as I press my lips against his skin,

"Why?" he asks and I frown,

"What?" I ask, confused and thrown off kilter by his direct question,

"I mean, why me, Mason?" he asks, "What is it about me that interests you so much?"

"What is there about you that isn't interesting Dougie?" I ask him and his frown deepens,

"I don't think there is anything interesting about me." he says, "I mean, before you started having lunch with me how did you even know I would say yes when you asked me out?"

"I didn't." I say with a smile and his eyes widen,

"So you just asked me in the hope that I might say yes without even finding out if I would?" he asked and I nod, "Why?"

"Why not?" I ask him, "I don't know about you, but I have kind of noticed that if you want to find something out about someone you should just ask them. I asked you out because I thought I might like to get to know you better. You had an opportunity then to tell me that you weren't interested and that you weren't gay, but you didn't so I kind of took that as a confirmation that I was barking up the right tree, as opposed to the wrong one."

"I could have punched ye in the face." he says and I laugh,

"Yeah you could, but I guessed that I was pretty safe in the refectory surrounded by other people." I say. I reach out to brush some hair from his face and thread my fingers through said hair,

"Amy says she thinks your hair looks like red gold." I tell him and he blushes,

"Yeah I know she and Jake argued about it while you were getting the bags from the car." he says. I laugh as I move closer,

"You want to know why I asked you out Doug?" I ask him and he nods as he looks up at me. I hook my finger beneath his chin, "I think you're beautiful, and I wanted to make you smile, and I wanted to find out what makes you laugh and what movies you like and what kind of dressing you like on your salad."

"I can tell you all of those things Mason, you didn't have to ask me out, and as for me being beautiful, I'm not I'm..." he doesn't finish because I don't let him, I'm kissing him again and he's melting against me once more,

"You're beautiful." he whispers and my heart literally stops, I think I might need resuscitation,

"Dougie." I whisper into his hair, "Will you be my boyfriend?" I ask, feeling like I'm back in school asking my first crush if he'll go out with me.

Doug chuckles and then sighs,

"What if you find out that you don't like me?" he asks, "What happens when you realise that I'm just a boring sod that doesnae know how to be with anyone without making an arse of himself? What happens when you realise that those rose tinted glasses of yours were lying to you the whole time?"

"What if you start to like me?" I ask him, countering his arguments, "What if you find that when you're not with me you miss me so much it hurts in your chest? What if when you look at me there's this pain so intense you think you're having a heart attack?" he snorts,

"Things like that only happen in books and movies, Mason, not in real life." he says and I shake my head,

"I beg to differ, Douglas McKenzie, because I am starting to like you very much. When I didn't see you on Tuesday and Wednesday I missed you so much it was painful and when I was watching you, just before, when you were washing the dishes, I thought my heart had stopped beating."

He looks at me so intensely,

"How do I know what you're saying isn't just a line?" he asks and I realise that even after everything I have said there is still that wall between us, that barrier that has taken him a lifetime to build and is going to take me a lifetime to break down. Do I want to? If he doesn't believe what I'm saying now how can I be sure if he'll ever start believing me?

"All I can do is assure you that everything I say to you is the absolute truth." I tell him, "It's up to you if you want to believe me or not."

"It's not that I don't want to believe you, Mason, it's just that," he looks away and sighs heavily; "people have said nice things to me before and not meant a word of it."

Shit, I knew it; I knew I was right,

"I won't ever hurt you." I tell him, almost blurting it out because I need him to know that, "I won't ask you to do anything you don't want to do." I assure him, "If I ever do anything to make you feel uncomfortable or make you feel like we're moving too fast I will back off, I swear, just, please, give me a chance, Dougie." I feel like this is a pivotal moment, like whatever he says right now is going to mean the beginning or the end of us being together.

He regards me with those moss green eyes and his brow is furrowed with indecision: should he take a chance or should he play it safe?

"Take a chance Doug." I say, as I move a little closer, "I promise you won't regret it." His indecision has turned into vulnerability. Oh God how could anyone ever have hurt him?

"Okay." He says, softly and I bite my lip, not really believing he has said this. I search his face for any signs that he is going to say anything else to the contrary, "Mason, you heard me right?" I nod in shock, "So?" he asks,

"So what?" I frown,

"I said yes, I want to be your boyfriend so why aren't you bloody kissing me?" he shakes his head in frustration, "I don't know, I fucking agree to this hair brained scheme of yours and all you can do is stare at me as if I have fucking two heads. Did it ever occur to you….?" I stop him with a kiss and I can feel him laughing into my mouth, actually chuckling as I kiss him.

Douglas you old dog. I can see I'm going to have my hands full with you. Although, didn't I already know that? He may think I have rose tinted glasses, but I think I see everything very clearly.

A/N: Did you guess who had to slow down? I can't really decide myself really. Reviews are always answered personally by the way because I love you all. DS