Mike Carden/Kevin Jonas
Sequel to Supersaturation, Solvation, Enthalpy, Entropy, Sublimation and Allotropy.
“Skippy here’s a virgin,” Carden says, tugging Kevin down into the seat next to him. He’s been doing that all day, pushing him around, like he’s some sort of circus freak or trained dog or something.
A/N: So I did it! It’s the JoBros in space! But also Mike Carden! And Chuck and Chislett! While reading the many stories before this one isn’t strictly necessary, there are references to stuff in the other fics, and Carden himself was introduced briefly in Allotropy, so I’d advise reading them all before attempting this one. And, of course, the next major stop in this ‘verse will have more Carden, so this one will be helpful for that.
A couple things: Kevin is the oldest Jonas brother. Bonus Jonas is actually named Frankie, but calling him Bonus is way funnier. Selena Gomez does, indeed, have a large head. Purity rings will never not be funny to me, sorry.
Finally, thank you so much to insunshine for the quick beta and for being generally kick-ass awesome.
* This was actually supposed to be what I had planned for V-Day, so consider it an early gift? I'm just really horrible at waiting to post once I've got a finished copy :) Enjoy!
Kevin has a really horrible and disturbing mancrush on Corporal Mike Carden. “It’s so gross,” he says, making a face.
Carden’s sitting across the commissary from them with ‘gate techs Campbell and Chislett. He looks like he’s maybe just come from the gym, uniform jacket open over a dingy white shirt, a bandana holding his hair back off his sweaty forehead. Carden’s such a guy. Kevin’s sure that nine times out of ten, when he happens to come across Carden while he’s off duty, Carden’s blind stinking drunk.
Carden smirks and rubs a hand over his lightly shadowed jaw and Kevin swallows hard.
Nick says, “Totally.” He doesn’t even bother looking up from where he’s meticulously rebuilding his sandwich – he likes his meat and cheese to be in a special order. “Are you going to eat your pickle?”
Kevin kicks him in the shin. “Seriously, are you even listening?”
“Your mancrush on Carden. Gross,” Nick says. “I really want your pickle. This is important, Kev, make up your mind.”
Kevin arches an eyebrow. “On whether I want my pickle or not.”
Nick grins brightly at him and snatches the spear off his plate. “Too late, I’ve taken the matter out of your hands.”
Sometimes, Kevin doesn’t know why he agreed to travel all the way to another galaxy with his brothers. Sometimes, it really sucks having both Nick and Joe around, stealing his pickles without any fear of retribution. Kevin’s sort of shit at taking any kind of revenge on them. He kind of loves them too much.
He sighs. “Any progress with the simulation?”
“Nah.” Nick shakes his head, pushes his curls back off his forehead. “Total bust, not enough power. Joe’s trying to convince Zelenka to give us free rein over the east tower’s naquadah generator.”
Nick and Joe are on Atlantis for the express purpose of constructing a time-traveling puddlejumper – they’d done all they could on the one at the SGC, and they’d, um, kind of blown it up. The notes the Ancients kept on this project are mainly a whole lot of ‘don’t do this’ and ‘stop before the world ends’ and all that kind of doom and gloom that Nick and Joe don’t really believe in. Kevin blames their dad.
Kevin, it seems, is on Atlantis for the express purpose of having his ass kicked.
“How’s your acclimation coming along?” Nick asks.
Kevin says, “They locked me in the food pantry for five hours.” Morris had found him at 0600 that morning. Kevin’s not a big fan of ‘gate techs Campbell and Chislett.
“Still hazing you, huh?” Nick shrugs. “Just don’t let them see you cry.”
“I don’t cry,” Kevin says, frowning.
“Oh, I’m sorry, leak manly tears of sorrow and rejection,” Nick says. He points his fork at him. “You should tell Colonel Sheppard.”
“I’m not going to tell on them, geez.” Kevin rolls his eyes. “This isn’t middle school.”
“Which is why you totally didn’t get a swirly yesterday, right?”
Kevin scrubs a hand over his head and blinks back manly tears of sorrow and rejection. Kevin really enjoys being liked. He’s not so much into the teasing and humiliation thing; there’s really enough of that in his past. But ‘gate techs can be really sort of nasty when they think you’re horning in on their territory. It’s not his fault, though, that they’d had to send Conrad back to earth.
Kevin’s really sort of shit at taking revenge on anyone, apparently.
“Dude, Kev, you’re not a doormat, okay.” Nick gives him one of his serious looks – he has quite a few, despite being the youngest of the three of them. “Stick up for yourself, tell on them, do something.”
Kevin grimaces. Do something. Right.
“Uh, it’s Kevin.”
Carden stares at him blankly.
Kevin gives him a weak smile.
Carden’s blank stare morphs into a sort of do-you-think-I-give-a-fuck look, and Kevin tries not to shrink into himself. He’s not a doormat. He’s not.
“So,” Carden starts again. He’s leaning against Campbell’s console, palm flat on the desk, one booted foot hooked over the other. He looks bored. Kevin figures that’s the only reason he’s actually talking to him. “You married?”
“Huh?” Kevin blinks, because, seriously, what?
Carden straightens up a little and unsheathes a knife from his belt and then—then he casually starts picking under his thumbnail with the razor sharp tip. Kevin feels heat spread in from his ears.
Carden arches an eyebrow. “You married? Your ring, man,” he says, flicking the knife blade towards him, and Kevin automatically toys with the plain silver band encircling the ring finger on his left hand.
“Oh, um. It’s. It’s, like, a pledge?”
Carden keeps his eyebrow raised.
“A purity pledge?” Kevin goes on, and instantly regrets saying anything when Carden’s eyes go wide and genuinely startled.
“Holy fuck,” Carden says. And then he starts laughing.
“Skippy here’s a virgin,” Carden says, tugging Kevin down into the seat next to him. He’s been doing that all day, pushing him around, like he’s some sort of circus freak or trained dog or something.
Campbell does a spit-take, and Kevin almost grins as his juice goes all over Chislett. Almost, because he’s actually never been more embarrassed in his entire life, and that’s saying something.
Corporal Mike Carden is an ass.
“It’s not a big deal,” he mumbles. He ducks his head and glares at the tabletop.
Carden slaps his back and grins evilly. “It’s cute.”
“Oh yeah, honestly,” Chislett says, nodding. “Adorable.”
Hate’s a strong word. Kevin doesn’t usually hate people. His dad always says that hating someone implies that you want them dead, so, really, Kevin’s not that kind of guy. Kevin doesn’t hate Chislett and Campbell and Carden, but it’s a close thing. Carden’s lucky he’s so good-looking.
“How come you guys never get made fun of for this?” Kevin asks Joe, sprawled back on his bed.
Joe looks up from his laptop and shrugs. “We’re cooler than you.”
“Yeah, sorry, Kev.” Nick’s got a hundred tiny metal parts spread around him on the floor and a light strapped to his head. Kevin doesn’t get how he’s the only one who suffered through boot camp and McMurdo, and he’s the dork here.
Joe narrows his eyes at him. “Is your shirt pink?”
“No.” It’s possible that his undershirt is pink. His last batch of skivvies had basically all come back from the laundry pinkish, but Kevin’s not going to acknowledge it, no way.
“You know what you should do,” Joe says. He taps his pen onto his bottom lip and makes faces at Kevin until Kevin breaks out into a grin, because Joe’s so weird, seriously.
“What should I do?” Kevin asks, lacing his fingers over his stomach.
Nick lifts his head – he’s got a magnifying glass over one eye, making it blurry and huge – and snaps off his light. “You need to get back at them.”
Joe nods. “Right. That.”
This would be awesome advice if Kevin had any idea how to get back at them. Kevin’s just really bad at pranks. Joe and Nick are okay at them, but generally they think it’s hilarious to move decimal points in Dr. Ager’s white-board formulas or hide all the space pens from Dr. Iero – prime geek stuff, and, seriously, how are they cooler than him? How is that even possible?
He decides that it’s time to consult a master.
Every two weeks, Atlantis sends and receives a databurst from earth, so Kevin resigns himself to a lengthy amount of planning.
Bonus Jonas is sixteen. Bonus is, relatively speaking, normal. He’s going for a football scholarship and he pulls straight Cs and Kevin caught him smoking weed, once, with his friends Omar and Sly. Bonus dyed their cat green when he was ten. If anyone’s going to be helpful in this situation, he thinks Bonus is it.
Kevin decides to tell him everything – B already knows he’s kind of a loser, so it’s not like it’ll be a surprise. Kevin had never been very popular. There’d been that whole birdhouse obsession in ninth grade – you know, start the old high school career off right and round out the year by taking a vow of abstinence.
He’s glad his brothers learned from his mistakes. Mostly. Although he’s pretty sure Nick’s ring is purely for show now, so their mom doesn’t cry; there was that Mindy Hortenpheffer thing in tenth grade, with the grainy cell phone pictures and bathroom graffiti and general Nick smugness, like when he’d scored that Star Trek Borg lunchbox before Joe.
So, anyway. Kevin types up the whole of his troubles and sends off the email and waits.
Carden tosses him a towel. “Here you go, kid.”
Kid. It’s better than Skippy. Kind of.
Kevin swipes his forehead and tips his head back against the wall. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just water, but he’s feeling oily and gross, so olive oil it is. Morris’ll probably be pissed. He’s not exactly sure how Campbell and Chislett even rigged the bucket up to tip on him, since basically all the doors on Atlantis slide open. He’s reluctantly impressed.
Carden leans against the corridor wall across from where Kevin’s sitting with knees propped up, and he crosses his arms over his chest and stares. It’s more than a little unnerving.
“So, like, nothing?” Carden finally says.
“You’re completely chaste,” Carden says, and Kevin bites back a giggle at the word chaste, and how odd it sounds out of Carden’s mouth. “You don’t fuck.”
Fuck, okay yeah, that’s better. Or worse. Kevin’s face doesn’t know whether to blanch or flush, but he feels kind of sick to his stomach.
“Just because someone’s a virgin doesn’t mean they’re, like, inexperienced,” Kevin says defensively, although in his case it really, really does.
“Oh yeah?” Carden doesn’t actually look skeptical. More intrigued.
Kevin swallows hard. “Uh.”
“Like, we’re talking, what, handjobs? Blowjobs? Has anyone sucked your cock before, Skippy?”
You’d think being in the military would’ve hardened him or something, except Kevin’s Air Force and they don’t even let him fly anything; they’d given them time-out cards in boot camp and it’s possible that Kevin’s never even finished a five mile hump. His best pal at McMurdo had been a little guy with glasses and a wrist brace. They’d played a lot of table tennis.
“Uh,” Kevin says again. He’s feeling a little cornered. “I, um, gotta shower before my shift.” He struggles to his feet and tries not to focus on Carden’s stupid smirking face.
Bonus writes Kevin: dude, seriously, how can we be related?
And: stick with the classics, anything fancy’ll backfire on an inexperienced lame-o like you
And also: three words for you, Kev: water soluble adhesive
There’s some stuff in the email about their mom and Omar and Sly and Bonus’s current girlfriend, Tampa, and a when are you coming home, asshole? and a tell Nick to stop sending those corny science jokes, I’m not a loser like you guys and a single mention of their dad, which is something, since Bonus and their dad don’t really get along all that well.
Kevin hits reply and sits there for ten minutes staring at the blank screen. There’s not a whole lot he can tell him that isn’t classified, first off, and secondly, well. Kevin suspects asking your much younger brother about sex is really pathetic. Beyond pathetic, and also embarrassing. And also, probably just plain wrong.
He sighs and ends up just saying thanks and that he loves him and that they’re all still fine and that they’ll probably be home for Christmas – if they can swing a leave at the same time – and that he’ll keep him posted on the whole revenge thing.
Water soluble adhesive. It’s kind of ingenious in its simplicity.
Since there’s a limited amount of ‘gate techs, they tend to leave their stuff lying around their consoles: pencils, pens, mugs, plastic lizards, GI Joes, that can of Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty. Actually, when Kevin thinks about it, this whole prank is going to be hilarious if he manages to go through with it.
The hardest part is timing, since very rarely is the control tower completely empty, and it’s important that no one sees Kevin. Stealth is key. So is speed. He practices, sees how much he can pretend to get done before Campbell comes back from lunch, or when he’s got the overnight shift with Chislett – Chislett takes ten to fifteen minute naps every couple of hours, because he thinks Kevin’s a doormat, and that he can do whatever the heck he pleases.
Kevin is not a doormat.
“Do I want to know what you need this for?” Joe asks, dropping the small tube of adhesive in Kevin’s palm.
“For something awesome,” Kevin says. He’d tell Joe if he pressed, but Joe generally isn’t known for pressing.
“Cool, so,” Joe bobs his head and slips his hands into his pockets, “if Taylor happens to, you know, mention how much of an asshole I—”
“I believe the exact words she used were ‘sucking hole of brainless pig shit,’” Kevin says.
Joe grimaces. “Eh-yeah,” he says. “Huh. I guess she’s madder than I thought.”
“Maybe,” Kevin says. Joe can be kind of a dick. A lovable dick, sure, but sometimes girls don’t get that.
“Okay, well. I’ll just be off hiding for a while.”
Taylor’s sweet, but Kevin understands Joe’s fear. Kind of. In theory. Kevin’s never actually had a girl mad at him - or actually, like, want to date him or whatever.
Kevin waves the little tube of glue in the air. “Thanks for this.”
“Sure, bro.” He holds up a fist for Kevin to bump. “Just remember to cap it when you’re done. Zelenka probably won’t even notice it’s missing.”
Kevin doesn’t understand Joe and Nick’s casual dismissal of how completely frightening Dr. Zelenka can be. Kevin doesn’t want to know what’ll happen if Zelenka notices his adhesive’s missing.
Therefore, it’s especially crucial that no one knows what Kevin has planned.
In the end, Kevin isn’t exactly sure how he manages to pull it off. The world’s a blur for fifteen whole minutes, and the tips of his fingers are tacky afterwards, and he’s pretty sure he ruined that pile of readouts – water soluble adhesive is great for not ruining things, except for the things that get ruined by, you know, water. But at the last minute he decides to glue down Campbell’s rolly chair, and he thinks maybe that’s the best idea he’s ever had. Campbell’s really, really attached to his rolly chair. Now, quite literally. Kevin bites his thumbnail and giggles.
He wishes he could have stayed and watched the results of his handiwork play out, but he doesn’t want to actually die. With luck, they’ll never ever be able to prove it was him.
He’s enjoying a celebratory pudding in a corner of the cafeteria when Carden drops down into the seat across from him.
He absolutely does not make a squeaky sound of surprise.
Carden grunts at him before digging into his food, but doesn’t, like, hold a butter knife up to his throat or kick him in the shins or accuse him of gluing down every movable piece of matter within a two foot radius of Campbell and Chislett’s work stations, so Kevin figures he’s okay for the moment.
He eats another spoonful of chocolate pudding and eyes Carden warily.
Carden is very focused on his sandwich.
It’s all really weird.
Kevin finishes his pudding, but he’s kind of afraid to move, to draw any attention to himself, so he sits still and stares at his empty Snack Pack.
Finally, Carden says, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” but there’s no heat in his words, only curiosity, like he really wants to know why Kevin’s just sitting there, empty plastic container of pudding in front of him, hands fidgeting with his spoon.
“Um.” Kevin can be articulate, he really can, just not while in the presence of hot guys who can beat him to a bloody pulp, in ways that Kevin thinks maybe he’d, uh, like. A lot. “Nothing.”
Kevin’s radio crackles with a sharp, “Jonas,” and he starts a little, because Kevin’s radio hardly ever crackles. Joe and Nick are usually the only ones who ever need or want to get in touch with him – he’s always on time for all his shifts, and it’s not like anyone ever contacts him in an emergency.
Carden arches an eyebrow at him, because he probably thinks Kevin’s a complete spaz, geez.
Kevin grins sheepishly and taps the comm. link and says, “Yeah?”
“What the hell, Jonas,” Chislett says, and Kevin thinks maybe he can hear Campbell laughing in the background. “You utter asshole.”
“I’m not sure I—”
“How could you do this to Daniel Webster?” Chislett yells. Kevin is not sure who Daniel Webster is. He’s assuming he’s one of Chislett’s tiny plastic geckos.
Campbell still sounds pretty hysterical, and also like he’s wailing about his rolly chair.
Kevin schools his face carefully blank, because Carden is watching him intently, and he can probably hear Chislett’s tinny little voice through the comm. link, even from way across the table. “I really don’t know what you’re talking about,” Kevin says.
Carden leans back in his chair and crosses his arms over his chest.
“You wait,” Chislett says. “You just wait, Jonas.”
Distantly, Kevin hears Campbell say, “Fuck’s sake, he got all the candy in your third drawer.”
The retribution for this well-played prank might be astronomical. Kevin’ll probably be very afraid tomorrow, but right now he can’t help but bask happily in his success.
“Bold move,” Carden says.
Kevin just grins at him and says, “I admit to nothing.”
Carden is, like, second in command of base security or something, which is why he’s always hanging around the control tower. Well, that and because he’s best friends with Chislett. And because his favorite pastime is apparently torturing Kevin.
Torturing Kevin with his sardonic grins and rippling muscles and hardy grips on his shoulder. Manly back pats. A conspiratorial wink here and there whenever Chislett or Campbell discovers yet another something that Kevin had glued down.
Of course, Chislett and Campbell had quickly gotten back at him by stuffing almost his entire quarters with packing peanuts.
And dying his hands blue.
Kevin’s pretty confident they aren’t doing it out of spite anymore, though. Plus, Kevin just recently filled all their shoes with that honey-like paste Dr. Trohman and the biologists harvested off PX4-600.
“So, you’re especially giddy for someone with DORK markered across their forehead,” Nick says, picking at his egg salad. “Is that permanent ink?”
“Yeah,” Kevin says brightly. He’d woken up with it, and soap and water only served to make his skin angry and red. Kevin’s really starting to get a sense of belonging here, he truly is.
And then he feels a strong grip on his shoulder and Nick’s eyes widen comically.
“Kid, seriously,” Carden says from behind and above him. He mashes a cap down on Kevin’s head and then tugs the brim over his forehead. “You’ve got the survival instincts of a piece of cheese.”
Nick’s eyes remain huge and shiny, fork paused halfway to his mouth.
Carden gives him a firm, manly pat on the back and then moves on.
For real, Kevin’s totally getting the hang of this living in another galaxy thing.
Of course, it’s when the pranks start slowing down that the weirdness kicks in.
Gomez is pretty and all, even with the large head thing, but, like, first of all, Nick’s kind of crazy about her, and second of all. Second of all, girls don’t just come up and ask Kevin out. This is a true fact of his life.
Kevin wrinkles his nose and says, “I’m sorry, I’m, uh, just really busy right now,” and tries to smile.
Gomez says, “Maybe another time,” and squeezes his arm, and over her shoulder Chislett and Campbell are giving him practically twin what-the-hell looks, but, um. This is just awkward.
It gets even weirder when the same thing happens with Lovato and Osment and Cosgrove - Kevin’s running out of lame excuses.
And it gets weirder still when Carden visits him in the control room, spinning Campbell’s chair around so his arms are folded across the back. He says, “So what’s wrong with Cosgrove, Skip?”
Kevin stares down at his console. Lines of green numbers scroll rapidly over the screen; occasionally he hits the enter key to run the next set of diagnostic tests on the stargate. Technically, there’s nothing wrong with Cosgrove. “I’m just not interested,” he says finally.
Kevin glances over at him. “What?”
Carden spreads his hands, palms up. “Nothing,” he says. “Just ah-ha.”
When Trace - who Kevin knows from back at the SGC, even though they’d never really gotten along all that well - shows up at his door with a slight frown and an awkward shift of his hips, Kevin realizes that this—this whole situation has to be Carden’s fault.
Kevin can be slow, yes, but Carden’s smirking little ah-ha the other day makes a lot more sense as Trace, with a pained twist to his mouth, asks him to movie night at the lounge.
In the next databurst to earth, Kevin mans up and emails Bonus, so I think I only like boys, and also, don’t tell mom, and also, embarrassingly enough, you’ve had sex before, right?
It’s not that Kevin doesn’t want to keep waiting; he wouldn’t still be wearing his ring if that was the case. It’s just that he wishes it wasn’t such a big deal. He wishes that being a twenty-eight-year-old virgin didn’t have such a stigma attached to it – he gets the feeling that it wouldn’t even matter to anyone, maybe, if he hadn’t taken an actual vow.
He sighs, runs a hand through his curls, then folds over his desk until his forehead hits the hard, cool metal.
The problem is—the problem is that he doesn’t have so much a mancrush on Carden as an actual crush. He likes men. He’s—geez, he’s just tremendously gay, really, and not some sort of humanoid robot, thanks very much, Joe – there’d been that whole thing in college, when Joe had been working on his Master’s thesis, running on about three hours sleep in as many days, and he’d called up Kevin, convinced his lack of interest in girls was the beginning of the robotic revolution.
It’s not like Kevin’s in denial about it or anything. He’s pretty sure Nick knows, even if Joe doesn’t; Joe’s brilliant, but thick. It’s just never been much of an option before. Having Trace show up at his door kind of opened his eyes – things are just lax here. The Atlantis base is the least disciplined base he’s ever been on, despite the threat of evil, soul-sucking aliens.
That doesn’t mean he wants Carden coercing – threatening? – people into asking him out.
Kevin finds Carden on the balcony off the back of the commissary, settled along the railing with a bottle of beer, the rest of the six-pack tucked between his feet, shading it slightly from the bright sun. There’s a lit cigarette pinched precariously between the knuckles of the hand holding his beer.
“You realize that this isn’t because I can’t get a date, right?” Kevin says, holding up his hand and waving it in Carden’s face. Although he actually has his doubts about the date thing. It’s just that one thing has nothing to do with the other.
Carden nods slowly, like Kevin’s an idiot. “Kinda knew that, yeah.”
Kevin slumps against the railing, one hand curving over the sun-warmed metal. “Okay,” he says, kind of grumpily, and Carden lets out a laugh, his whole face relaxing in amusement.
“Fuck, kid, I’m not trying to get you laid. At least, not yet.” He tips his beer bottle towards Kevin. “Gotta swim to reach the shore, if that’s your thing.”
Kevin blinks. “What?”
“Marriage, Skip. Dating leads to marriage leads to sex. It’s the natural order of things.” He grins. “Kind of.”
“Marriage,” Kevin echoes dumbly.
Carden says, “In some states, it’s even legal.”
It takes Kevin a second to realize what Carden isn’t saying. Kevin’s mom is going to sob when he tells her about this.
Sighing a little, he stares off into the ocean. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Carden watching him, a half-smile curling his lips, expression almost—well, Kevin’s going to go ahead and call it fond.
He takes a deep breath. He can be wrong about this. He can be totally wrong, but if he is, he’s ninety-five percent certain Carden won’t beat the snot out of him; thinks he’s more likely to hook an arm around his neck and drag him down to the lounge anyway, just as friends.
He takes another deep, fortifying breath. He says, “Die Hard 4 is playing in the lounge tonight,” because he’s a total pansy, and he can hear Campbell in his head, laughing at him.
Carden pauses mid-sip, with the top of his beer pressed into his lower lip. “Oh, yeah?”
“Um.” Kevin’s fingers toy with the hems of his sleeves. “Yeah.”
Carden quirks an eyebrow at him. “You asking me out, Skip?”
“No?” Kevin’s heart has stopped. Kevin is no longer alive, he’s sure of it. It’s just—you don’t come out and say it, right?
“Too bad,” Carden says, slinging an arm around Kevin’s shoulders. He steers him away from the railing. “But hey, Bruce Willis, shit blowing up, that Long kid with the pretty mouth. I’m game if you are.”
Kevin isn’t dead. He’s dying. A slow, painful death, throat constricting with—he’s not exactly sure, but it might be pure glee.
“Seriously, what’s up with you?” Joe asks Kevin before turning to Nick. “What’s up with him?”
Nick says, “Nothing,” without looking up from his datapad. “You know, if we use these numbers we’ll blow up Sasha, and then I think Colonel Sheppard might cry.”
“He’s grinning like an idiot,” Joe says to Nick, then turns back to Kevin. “You’re grinning like an idiot. You’re scaring me, Kev. This is me, scared.”
Kevin keeps grinning. He can stop at any time, it’s not like his mouth’s stuck like that, but creeping Joe out is kind of fun. Plus, Carden just ducked his head into the lab on his way past and winked at him, and Kevin’s no match for Carden’s saucy winking.
Joe says, “Wait, wait, this isn’t, like, a sex grin, is it?”
“What?” Kevin says.
“What’s a sex grin?” Nick asks, finally looking up at them. “What?”
“You know what I mean,” Joe says, crossing his arms over his chest. His face is in that weird place between a grin and a frown, like he can’t decide which way to go – disappointment or envy.
“It’s not a sex grin,” Kevin says. It might be a making-out grin. A heavy petting grin is not off the table, either. Kevin takes his vows seriously, though, unlike a certain other brother he could name. He gives Nick a look, but Nick just rolls his eyes and goes back to his work, muttering, “Whatever.”
“It better not be a sex grin,” Joe says, and Kevin gets the feeling that maybe Joe just really likes saying ‘sex grin.’
Kevin says, “It’s not.”
Bonus’s next email has the subject line: oh my god, you’re such a doofus.
He writes: I’m not telling you about sex and you seriously need a boyfriend and also Sly’s available, if you’re interested, which is vaguely disturbing, considering Sly’s a six foot five, all-American jock with shining blond hair and a blinding smile – he wears a letterman’s jacket and irons his jeans and he’d beaten the crap out of Bonus for years in grade school before somehow morphing into his best friend - and Kevin has never wanted to date a guy like that, if he’s being honest.
Kevin thinks Carden’s more like that guy in high school who hung out behind the gym with a pack of smokes and a forty hidden in a paper bag; who wore the same obscure concert t-shirt five days in a row and played guitar in an Anthrax tribute band. Or something like that. It’s possible Kevin’d had a little infatuation with that guy.
When Carden shows up for dates, though – because they’re dating, and how weird is that? - he’s usually clean-shaven and showered and mostly sober.
“What’s up with your brother?” Carden asks.
Kevin takes a brief moment to appreciate the fact that Carden knows he has brothers on Atlantis before asking, “Which one?”
“The weird one,” Carden says.
That descriptor does not actually help. “Uh.”
Carden’s sprawled low on his couch, legs spread, one hand loosely clasping a can of beer propped up on his stomach. Kevin’s curled up in the corner, and he’s got one sock foot pressed up against Carden’s thigh. It’s nice.
“I don’t know, man,” Carden says, “you all look alike.”
Kevin rolls his eyes. “Thanks.”
Carden’s mouth curves up at the edges. It’s a friendly sort of smile, not a smirk, and he wraps a hand around Kevin’s ankle and says, “Apparently, I’m giving you a sex grin.”
So it’s Joe, then. Kevin’s impressed Joe’s actually figured out the whole dating Carden thing. His face heats and he mutters, “Not really,” picking idly at the material of his pants.
“Skip, Skippy,” Carden says, setting his beer down on the floor. He tugs on Kevin’s foot and simultaneously scoots closer to him, pulling Kevin further down the couch until his legs are draped over Carden’s lap, their arms bumping. This close, Kevin can smell bitter hops and smoke and soap – Carden’s hair is still damp at the ends.
“I have a name,” Kevin says. Carden’s leaning over him a little, still grinning, and Kevin’s breath catches, still not exactly used to this—whatever this is. “A real one,” he goes on, “that my parents gave me.”
“I know, kid.” Carden tangles his fingers in the ends of Kevin’s hair, plays with the curls, moves down to skim his cheek. “I know.”
“You’re never going to call me by it, are you?”
Carden says, “Probably not,” and his grin turns wicked and way too sharply amused, in Kevin’s honest opinion.
With Carden’s thumb resting lightly at the corner of his mouth, though, he can’t actually bring himself to really care.