Adi stared at the three-year-old that was toddling towards his best friend. Riley rolled his eyes and crouched down in front of the boy. Adi held tight to his soccer ball as the pair spoke in murmurs before Riley sighed and pushed the toddler away. He jogged back over to Adi and rolled his eyes again.
"So that's your brother?" Adi asked as they walked across the field.
Riley nodded, his blond hair falling in his eyes. "Yeah. He's such a pain sometimes."
"He doesn't look like you," Adi said, placing the ball on the ground. They kicked the ball back between them though Riley occasionally looked over his shoulder to check on his brother.
"So what are you doing for your birthday party?" he asked Adi.
"Race cars!" Adi told him excitably. "It's gonna be great. And…" he paused for dramatic effect, "Dad said he'll take you and me out Dodgem Cars on Sunday."
"Oh, this'll be great!" Riley exclaimed. Before he could say anything else a loud scream was heard and his face paled. "Oh no…"
Abandoning the ball, the two five-year-olds ran over to Riley's brother, who was laying on the ground below a tree, screaming his lungs. Adi saw his arm was at an awkward angle and was pleased to see Riley's dad coming over.
"I think his arm is broken," he told him once he kneeled next to Riley.
"Shit," Riley's dad muttered before scooping his youngest son in his arms. "Riley, go home with Adi tonight, yeah? I'll pick you up tomorrow."
They watched as Riley's dad walked across the field, Riley's brother still screaming in his arms. Riley sighed.
"See, told you he was a pain."
Adi was nine-years-old when Riley's younger brother skipped over to him. Adi still couldn't believe that the two were related because they looked nothing alike. While Riley had blond hair and hazel eyes, his younger brother had dark black hair with dark blue eyes.
Adi sighed. "Hi Ricky. How are you?"
"I'm good," the younger boy smiled. Adi saw the gap in his teeth. "I lost a tooth today. Mummy says to put it under my pillow and the Tooth Fairy will come."
"Will she?" Adi mumbled, glancing around for his best friend.
"How do you know if the Tooth Fairy is a girl?" Ricky demanded. He pulled himself up to sit next to Adi on the bar stool. "What if the Tooth Fairy is a boy?"
Adi sighed. "I don't know. The Tooth Fairy might be a boy. Does it really matter?"
"Well, I like boys," Ricky said. "Girls are weird, except Mummy. I like Mummy. But boys are nicer."
"Yeah, well, you'll grow to like girls eventually," Adi told him, perking up when he heard Riley coming down the stairs.
"Ricky, what have I told you about annoying my friends?" Riley huffed, going over to the kitchen and pulling a juice box out. He plopped it in front of his little brother. "They don't have time for little brothers."
"I wasn't annoying him," Ricky frowned. "I was telling him about my missing tooth."
"Yeah, well, he's not that interested in that," Riley said. "Come on Adi, let's go play."
"Bye Adi!" Ricky waved before sucking on his juice.
Adi waved back. "Bye Ricky. Good luck with the tooth fairy."
"Emily is cute," Riley said, flipping through his magazine.
Adi pulled a face. "Yeah, but did you hear what she said to Thomas? She threatened to beat him up if he tried looking under her dress again."
"Yeah, but Thomas is gross," Riley counted. "You're not. Though, I don't doubt her being able to beat someone up. She does boxing with Ricky and damn she's good."
"How'd Ricky get into boxing anyway?" Adi asked.
Riley shrugged. "Dunno. Just wanted to I guess."
"Hmm, I guess so," Adi agreed. He got up from Riley's bed and stretched. "Come on, let's get something to eat."
"Yeah, I'm starving!"
The two boys trooped down the stairs and into the kitchen, where Riley's mum was helping Ricky with his homework. Ricky brightened when they came in and jumped off his stool to stand by Adi.
"Hey Adi! Do you wanna come to my birthday party tomorrow?"
"Ricky, Adi's probably not interested in coming to a kid's party," Riley said, rolling his eyes.
Ricky frowned. "But I'm turning ten! Double digits! It's gonna be great!"
"Ricky, don't pester your brother's friends," Riley's mum scolded lightly. "Come, we need to finish this maths homework."
"Okay," Ricky sighed, slowly making his way back to his stool. Riley handed Adi an apple with a bottle of chocolate milk. The pair sat on the stools and watched as Ricky worked through his homework. When a car honked outside, Adi slid off his stool.
"That'll be my dad," he said. He went to leave but stopped by Ricky and squeezed his shoulder. "Hey, I'll come to your party tomorrow."
Ricky threw his arms around Adi's shoulders. "Oh, thank you!"
"Hey Ricky, how you doing?" Adi asked cheerfully, falling down on the lounge next to him.
Ricky gave him a strained smile. "I'm good."
"You don't look to good," Adi frowned. "Normally you're bouncing to see me!"
"I'm fine," Ricky insisted, standing up. He shoved past Riley who had just entered the room and they heard him stomp up the stairs.
"What's got his boxers in a twist?" Riley asked, sitting next to his friend and handing a Coke over.
Adi shrugged. "Dunno. He hasn't been so cheerful the past few days. Try and find out and tell me? I'm kinda worried."
"Me too," Riley admitted. "I'll call you tonight and let you know."
When Adi got a call from Riley that evening he was quite shocked at what his friend had to say.
Adi remained quiet for half a minute. "Say what?"
"Ricky's gay," Riley sighed. "And he got himself so worked up that we would hate him because of it."
"You're not right?"
"Course not, he's my baby brother. He said he's not sure and that's fine, geez, he's only thirteen but I'll still love him either way."
Adi hesitated before speaking. "Will your parents get angry?"
"Dunno…" Riley sighed again. "Look, I've gotta go. Ricky looked like he was about to cry when I left the room."
"You didn't leave right after he told you did you? Cause that would have been bad tact."
Riley scoffed. "Course not, I'm not that bad. Anyway, see you at school tomorrow."
"Bye! Tell Ricky I'm still his friend."
"Yes! Your legal now! I can take you out to clubs!"
Adi laughed. "I've tried alcohol and it's not all that great."
Riley nodded in agreement before sitting on the bar stool next to his friend. They both had a bottle of Coke in front of them, as well as a pile of homework that was no where near complete. Adi was kneeing a soccer ball while he sipped his drink, looking around the kitchen.
Riley pulled a face. "Out with his boyfriend I think. Guy's a jerk but Ricky's happy I guess so…" He trailed off with a shrug before taking a large gulp of his drink.
They heard the front door open and close with the sound of people drawing closer. The two friends looked out of the kitchen and saw Ricky leading a boy that Adi didn't recognise up the stairs.
"Oi, Ricky, come here and wish my friend a happy birthday!" Riley called out before whispering, "I don't want him upstairs alone with the guy."
Adi watched as Ricky peeked around the archway and a bright grin lit up his face. "Happy birthday Adi!" He walked over and threw his arms around Adi and squeezed him tight. "Wow, you're eighteen now!"
"Thanks mate," Adi said, patting the younger boy's shoulder. He nodded his head at the other boy who was glaring at him. "Who's this?"
Riley looked back and gestured the other boy over. "This is Paul, my boyfriend. Paul, this is Adi, Riley's best friend."
Paul just nodded at him before wrapping an arm tightly around Ricky's waist. Adi didn't like the way the other boy was looking at him so he stood up and drained the rest of his drink.
"I best be off," he said, placing the bottle in the sink to be rinsed. "Nice seeing you again Ricky, meeting you Paul. You coming round later Ry?"
His best friend nodded. "Yeah, once I get some homework done." Adi knew he meant when Paul left but hey, if he had a younger sibing he'd be protective of them too.
"Bye Adi!" Ricky called out with a wave to his back.
"Holy fuck Adi, are you drunk?"
Adi blinked blearily up at his friend and gave a slow nod. "I think so…"
"Why?" Riley asked, crouching down so he could look at his friend's face. "You didn't even get buzzed when you turned eighteen. What's up?"
"I think… I think I might have a crush on Ricky." At Riley's shocked face he lifted his hand up. "Just a teensy one, cause I'm twenty-one and that's too old to have a crush," he added, putting his finger's together.
"Fuck…" Riley drew out, rubbing a hand over his face. "Fine, you and I will talk about your teensy crush on my brother when your sober. But first, let's get you home."
Adi thought the drive to Riley's place went by too quickly. But they were there and he was stumbling up the pathway with Riley's arm around his shoulder, cursing every few steps. The outside light flicked on and the front door opened. Adi cringed at the bright light, tucking his head into Riley's shoulder while another arm slid around his waist and helped him inside.
"What happened to him?" he heard Ricky ask fainty as Riley laid him on the couch.
"He got drunk. Go back to bed Rick, I got this," Riley answered.
Adi could feel Ricky hesitate before a hand brushed a bit of his hair off his forehead. "Okay, but get me up if you need help. Night Ry, Adi."
"Night Ricky," Adi sighed happily before promptly passing out.
When Adi was twenty-six and Ricky was twenty-four, he found himself pushed up against his apartment wall by the younger one.
"How come I'm only finding out now that you had or have a crush on me?" Ricky growled out, his hands bunched up in Adi's shirt.
Adi blinked at him before turning his head away. "You weren't meant to find out. Your Riley's younger brother, it's not right."
"Damn it Adi, I'm a grown man and I don't need my parents or older brother to make decisions for me!" Ricky yelled, stepping back and running his hands roughly through his hair. "I mean, you were the bloody guy that made me question my sexuality in the first place. You were always over and you were always nice to me even if Riley said I was annoying. You never treated me like his younger brother, you treated me like a friend!"
By the time he finished his rant he was breathing heavily and Adi was staring at him with wide eyes. Before Ricky could register what was happening Adi was in front of him, cupping his face in his hands and pressing his lips hard to his own. Ricky gave a small gasp before kissing back, the two fighting for dominance. They eventually broke apart when the need for air became apparent and Ricky was sure that his face looked exactly like Adi's; flushed with pupils blown wide.
"Bedroom?" Adi suggested raggedly, tilting his head down the hall.
Ricky took a deep breath. "You got condoms and lube?"
Adi nodded and pressed a quick kiss to his lips. "Yep. Come on, I want to do this properly."
"Yeah, course," Ricky said breathlessly as he followed Adi into his room.
"Fuck," Adi breathed out as he looked at himself in the full sized mirror. "Fuck."
Behind him Riley snickered. "Suck it up mate, you asked him. Of course, if you leave him now I will bash you up."
"Do you think it's the right time though?" Adi asked nervously, fidgeting with his bow tie. "I mean, he's only twenty-seven, what if he changes his mind or-"
"Adi, you are going to give yourself a heart attack if you keep asking what ifs," Riley interrupted. "I think you guys will be fine. He loves you, you love him, you've known each other your whole lives almost. You guys make each other happy. You're making the right choice." He shook back his suit sleeve to look at his watch. "Come on, we need to get you out now."
"Fuck," Adi breathed again as Riley led him from the room. Before he could say anything else he received an armful of a very excited man.
"You're nervous, why are you nervous, this is so exciting, I can't believe this," Rick babbled, jumping up and down on his toes. "We're getting married, this is so amazing!"
When Adi looked at his face and saw the excitement, nerves and love in his fiancé's eyes, he knew he was making the right choice.