Keagan looked through the menu he was hiding behind so no one would notice him blushing like a little kid, but that didn't help his discomfort about the evening at all. He saw the prices of the dishes and couldn't stop the squeak of nerves. Cassius leaned over closer to him and whispered quietly, "When the man that owns the restaurant invites you to dinner, you don't have to worry about the prices, Sugarbuzz."
"Now that you remember me from that day, you aren't going to let me live it down, are you?" He tried to glare at Cassius, but it was about as effective as a cricket staring down an armored tank, and apparently both Claude and Chay found it just about that cute too, since they both chuckled at the sight. "Did I miss the memo that said it was pick on Keagan day?" the teen pouted.
"I'm your big brother now, remember, kiddo? It's always pick on Keagan day for me," Claude told him with a grin. This of course only made the petite blonde pout more.
"Food will make you feel better, Chipper," Chay soothed as he reached over and patted Keagan on the shoulder. "Now, as it his restaurant, why don't we let Cassius order for us? That way we can concentrate on having a wonderful time, while we wait for him to tell us whatever it is that he is trying to get the nerve to say."
"You keep saying you don't have the gifts, but you keep making me wonder," Cassius said as he raised an eyebrow at Chay. "But, if you all wouldn't mind, I would like to order my own favorites for you all."
"Prince LeVeau, I know as Keagan's guardian you probably already know this, but as his elder brother, it is my place to remind you that he is not allowed alcohol tonight," Claude said as firmly as he could although he was clearly nervous.
"You would tell the Crown Prince of the House of LeVeau how to do my job as guardian of our High Prince?" Cassius asked him quietly.
"I would not tell you, great prince, only remind you," Claude returned quickly. "It's just as I said, as his older brother, I too bear a responsibility as well as a vow to care for and protect His Grace."
"I have the gifts of my family, Claude Guebert, all the gifts now that I am the Crown Prince. Do you still stand between me and the High Prince?"
"I do not wish to, My Prince, but if I must I will. I have sworn my life to never let harm come to my brother if I can do anything at all to stop it or at least delay it with my own death if need be."
"Don't you be mean to my brother, Cassie LeVeau!" Keagan snapped as the lights in the restaurant flickered a bit. "I will tell Aunt Dixie on you in a heartbeat."
"My apologies, Your Grace, I merely wanted to make sure that the one I believe to be my split apart has the backbone to stand up to me when he needs to. I would not want a partner who is so afraid of me that he never calls me down when he believes me to be in the wrong."
"Your split apart?" both Guebert boys asked.
"Claude, it is my great pleasure to tell you that Prince Henri Lafayette has given his blessing for me to court you," Cassius smiled.
"You want to date me?" Claude squeaked sounding every bit as high pitched and shocked as his younger brother could at times. "But I'm…."
"Claude, if you dare say you're nobody, I swear I will kick you under this table right now," Keagan scowled. "I may not understand all of this stuff just yet, but even when the families would have called you Claude No Name, you were already my best friend, and now you're my big brother. That puts you in the House of LeVeau thanks to Aunt Dixie, and back in the House of Lafayette thanks to PawPaw. You are definitely not a nobody."
"You tell him, Keagan," Chay smiled. "Claude, a nobody would not have hunted Keagan down to make sure he was ok after that party, especially when you couldn't know for sure that you wouldn't get into trouble for it. That was before you even knew that he was blessed and claimed by Aunt Dixie. It was very honorable and brave of you. Keagan couldn't have found a better man to be his older brother. I am sure of that."
"Claude Guebert, of the House of LeVeau and the House of Lafayette, do you accept my courtship?"
"If you say no to him, I will still kick you, brother," Keagan snapped. "You talk in your sleep, Claude. I know you want to…. Well, I won't say what I heard you begging him to do in your dream last night, but I will be putting ear plugs in my ears before bed tonight."
"KEAGAN!" Claude squealed and hid his reddening face in his hands. "You're supposed to be on my side."
"I am, you big goofball," Keagan replied. "That's why I'm telling you to say yes like you already want to do anyway. Besides, if you get a boyfriend, maybe you'll quit teasing me so much about…. Well, you'll quit."
"Not likely, little bro," Claude laughed. "You're too cute when you're embarrassed. Just because I got a gorgeous stud, doesn't mean I'm not going to pick on you every chance I get until you get yours, too."
"A gorgeous stud, am I? And you talk in your sleep? Clearly your little brother and I will have a lot more to talk about than just House matters," Cassius smiled.
"Oh, umm, did I say that part out loud?" Claude blushed and whispered.
"Sure did," Chay confirmed. "Congratulations to you both. Does this mean you're going to start dancing around in nothing but your jock strap in Cass' kitchen instead of mine now?"
"YAY! Someone else is getting picked on finally," Keagan grinned. "Hey! What were you doing looking at my brother?" he blurted as he turned to glare at Chay. "Wait, you were looking at him? Does that mean you like guys?"
"No," Chay answered quickly. The whole table saw the disappointed look on Keagan's face. "It means I like one particular guy, but I wasn't planning to tell him for a few more months."
"Oh, ummm… well I hope you and him are real happy together then," Keagan stammered. He suddenly stood up and started looking around the room, anywhere except at Chay. "I… uhh… I just remembered a umm… a project for class. Yeah a project for a class and it's uhh late I mean due tomorrow and I uhh I better go work on it tonight." He turned and walked as quickly as he could out of the dining room.
"I'll go with him," Claude said as he started to stand.
"No, I think this is something I need to clear up with him myself," Chay corrected. "I'm sorry about the dinner, Cass. Maybe we can reschedule or something." He stood and hurried out after Keagan.
"Well, as business dinners go, that was pretty much a flop," Claude mumbled.
"I can talk to Chay another time," Cassius shrugged. "I can't see the night as a total loss though. I still got called a gorgeous stud by the hottest college boy in the whole city. Best of all, he's still sitting here beside me and we still have the chance to have dinner together and see where things go the rest of the night."
"As long as I'm back at the bakery at some point to make sure that Keagan and Chay are ok, and PawPaw doesn't have to kill any of us," Claude pointed out.
"You remind me of my duties once again," Cassius smiled. "And this time you did it without shaking in your chair."
"I know you want me now, big guy," Claude quipped. "If you want me talking in your bed instead of Chay's…."
"What were you doing in Chay's bed?" Cassius snapped.
"Keagan and I share it and Chay sleeps upstairs in Keagan's bed," Claude explained quickly. "Relax. I would never do that to Keagan, even if Chay were my type."
"So what is your type, then, Claude Guebert?"
"Well, let me put it this way," Claude smirked. "Why settle for a pastry when you can have a whole meal? Now… what do you plan to feed me for this meal?"
"After a comment like that, you expect me to…."
"Hey, you said it yourself. I'm a college boy, and college boys never turn down free food."
"You are a tease," Cassius growled.
"I am not," Claude defended. "I just know that until November, one of us needs to stay in that apartment with them to guard my baby brother's virtue, even if we wind up guarding it from himself as much as we do from his split apart."
"Your grandfather is a man of great honor and he wants his grandsons to be as well," Cassius agreed. "We will eat our dinner quickly and then go to the bakery to make sure they are reconciled, but not connected quite yet."
"What do we do if they are, though?"
"Then we beg mercy from God, because neither your grandfather nor my aunt will have any for us." Claude really hoped that the man was joking, but he really couldn't tell for sure.
Out in the parking lot, Chay had rushed around and finally caught sight of Keagan just as the boy rounded a corner leaving the city behind to walk along the levee. He paused at the top of the barrier holding the water of the river out of the city for some reason, which made it easier for Chay to catch up to him.
"Chipper, you can't just take off like that in a big city like this," Chay wheezed as he reached the top of the levee.
"Just because I look like a little kid, doesn't mean I am one," Chipper snarled.
"I never said you look like a kid," Chay said holding his hands up in surrender.
"You thought it, though, didn't you?"
"I don't understand why you're so mad at me," Chay responded. "Oh, wait, maybe I do. I mean look at you, especially tonight. And then I go and open my big mouth and embarrass you in front of Cassius and Claude, even if I don't know how I did that."
"What do you mean you don't know how? I've been following you around like a stupid slutty high school cheerleader chasing the star quarterback since the day I met you and right in front of my brother and his boyfriend you tell me that you don't like me; that you like someone else. I mean I get it, I'm just a dumb homely kid that you took in because you felt sorry for me, but…."
"Hey, you stop that talk right now," Chay ordered. "You are anything but a dumb or homely kid. You are acing all your classes in college even though you are at least a year younger than anyone else in class and that's on top of working with me at the shop full time when all I expected from you was part time work. And don't even get me started on you thinking you're ugly. That's just crazy. Have you never seen yourself in a mirror? You know, contrary to some people's opinion, it is NOT my age that has me breathing funny and gasping around you. I never knew a human being could be as gorgeous as you are, Sunshine. There's a reason all of us call you that, you know. You are more beautiful than the prettiest sunshineyest day of the spring."
"Pretty sure sunshineyest is not a word," Keagan mumbled as he blushed more intensely than ever before in his life as the rest of Chay's little speech sunk into his brain. "You like ME?" he squeaked like he was just starting puberty, not finishing it… ok at least halfway through it.
"I'm sorry, I guess you think I'm some kind of creep," Chay admitted while staring at the ground. "I can't blame you, of course. An old geezer like me thinking a gorgeous twink like you could be inter…." His voice stopped as his chest was practically crushed in a bear hug from a blue eyed blonde whose smile was brighter than a supernova.
"I ran out of the restaurant because I thought you liked someone else and that I was just some stupid kid you had to put up with, and I didn't want to…. I couldn't stay and… and… I guess I really am dumb huh?"
"Well, if you are, so am I," Chay smiled as he rubbed his hands up and down Keagan's back. "I have fallen so completely in love with you, and I thought you would never see me as anything but your grumpy old boss."
"You're only grumpy when I tease you about your age, though," Keagan giggled. He would love to say he chuckled or chortled or snickered, but he knew. He giggled. The thing was he suddenly remembered all the times that Chay had deliberately made him giggle, so maybe the sexy baker liked his giggle.
As if reading his thoughts, Chay hugged him closer and said, "I love it when you giggle like that." He planted a kiss on top of Keagan's head and whispered, "I feel so many things when I hear that sound. I mean obviously it makes me horny, but it makes me proud of you because you were so sad the day I met you. Even before I fell in love with you, I wanted to do anything I could to make you smile so I would never have to see you look so lost, so sad, so alone ever again."
"I…. I make you… horny?" Keagan whisper gasped the last word as his blush returned with nuclear power.
"Oh don't you start this. Don't do this to me, Chipper," Chay groaned and clenched his eyes shut. "Do you have any idea how guilty and perverted I felt when I saw you dancing around in your room in nothing but those skimpy little shorts? I am such a dirty old man."
"Hmm, maybe so, but now you're MY dirty old man," Keagan grinned almost maliciously.
"Hey, what happened to that sweet, innocent little boy that I hired to work for me?" Chay asked with a smirk.
"Honestly, Baptist or not, I grew up in a group home of boys," Keagan said, rolling his eyes. "I can't be all that innocent."
"Oh, so you boys played around when the house parents weren't paying attention, did you?"
"I most certainly did not," Keagan gasped. "I meant I've seen boys, you know… umm naked… like in the showers and stuff and I did their laundry so yeah not many secrets after that."
"So all you've ever done is look?"
"Is that bad? Am I a little sicko?" Keagan asked worriedly.
"Sweet angel, if you hadn't looked, I would have been worried," Chay told him with a relieved sigh. "I know I would have been taking peeks when I could if I had grown up with those kinds of chances."
For several minutes, they just stood there on top of the levee holding one another. Finally, Keagan broke the silence. "I never knew the water was so much higher than the city. That can't be a good thing."
"Well, that's what the levee is here for," Chay smiled and stepped away, but took Keagan's hand in his. "They keep us safe from the water, plus the Army Corps of Engineers dredges the river all the time to keep the silt from building up too fast at the bottom of the river. Oh, look at that," he called out excitedly. "It's a sternwheeler, oh wow, it's the Natchez. Isn't she gorgeous?"
"Oh, that's awesome," Keagan agreed. "I always dreamed of taking a cruise on one of those boats."
"Well, you certainly have the outfit for it now," Chay teased him. When he saw Keagan about to speak, he put a finger on the teen's lips. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't tease you because you look more incredible in that suit than I have ever seen you so far. You look so cultured and refined and drop dead sexy in that. It's like you were born to wear that suit."
"Maybe I was," Keagan shrugged. He then told Chay the backstory of the suit and its connection to his new grandfather's deceased lover.
"I don't know a lot about the powers your families have, Chipper, but I know enough to not question when those powers work for good for the people I care about, and I care more for you than anyone on this planet. I'm happy and proud for you that you get what is really an heirloom from your new family to go with the furniture heirlooms that you have at home."
"Speaking of home, we should probably go there soon because I'm pretty sure that Cassy and Claude will be looking for us there soon if they aren't already there," Keagan said after giving Chay another hug. "I'm probably going to get yelled at for running off like an idiot when they are both responsible for keeping me safe, and I just ditched them like a dummy."
"Well, Claude was going to come after you, but I told him to let me, since I was the one that screwed up telling you that I love you," Chay confessed. "I never thought you would think that I meant someone else. I am so sorry for hurting you like that."
"I think we both jumped to some conclusions that were way off the truth," Keagan pointed out.
"I guess we should talk to one another more, so we understand each other better from now on," Chay told him as they started walking down the levee into the restaurant parking lot once more.
"That sounds like a plan," Keagan smiled. "Let's go home, Sugarman."
"Oh my God, we can't," Chay blurted. "I drove the delivery wagon here tonight. You can NOT ride in that thing in that suit. It would be ruined. We'd better see if someone in the restaurant can…. Oh dear. They're closed now. What do we do now?"
"I have an idea," Keagan suggested. "I can't mess up the suit as bad if I'm not wearing it." He stood beside the purple, green, and gold vehicle and started taking off his jacket and vest.
"What are you doing? You can't ride home with me naked," Chay squeaked as if he were the one still in puberty.
"It wouldn't be the first time," Keagan argued.
"You're going to be the death of me," Chay mumbled as he unlocked the van so Keagan could get inside before he took off anything else.
"I hope not anytime soon, because I'm counting on a happily ever after from my super hero, Sugarman the Magnificent."
"One thing about it, whenever I die, I will have the world's largest ego from you always complimenting me like that," Chay said as he cranked the van and started driving. "OH MY GOD, KEAGAN, what are you wearing?"
"Just the new undies that Claude got for me," Keagan answered with an impish little grin as he lay on the floor of the van beside Chay. "Do you like them?"
"I'm going to kill that brother of yours," Chay grumbled. "Right after I thank him."