Joe smiled, watching Lucas play with little Anne, he had the toddler squealing with delight at his antics.
"He's a natural with kids," Debs shocked Joe from his musing, coming up beside him.
Joe chuckled. "They're mentally on the same wave length."
Debs gave him what Warren had affectionately dubbed the 'eyebrow of doom' and Joe knew he was in trouble. Debs saw much more than anyone gave her credit for.
"He's still a kid himself," Joe said.
"He's 25 next month Joe... and I'm not sure Lucas was ever really a kid, just a screwed-up semi-adult," Debs replied, smiling as Lucas swung her daughter around.
"He does... stop making excuses," Debs cut him off.
"Excuses for what?" Lucas asked, panting softly as he struggled to get Anne to release his leg and go to her mother.
"Nothing," Joe said quickly, furious when he could feel himself blushing.
"Stop making excuses Joe," Debs told him, grabbing Anne up and tickling her. "I'm gong home for the day, you kids try to stay out of trouble," Debs smirked, winking at Lucas on her way out.
"What was that about?" Lucas asked, perplexed.
"Nothing, just Debs being Debs," Joe said, hoping Lucas believed him.
"So what excuses are you making about what?" Lucas asked.
"Do you have to be so nosey?" Joe asked, regretting it immediately, he hadn't meant to snap.
Lucas frowned. "Sorry, I'll just go help Warren and Mark out front."
"Lucas... wait... I'm sorry it's just... it's complicated," Joe said.
"Not really Joe, it never has been, not for me anyway, you're the one making excuses," Lucas said.
Joe blinked, frowned and openly gawped at Lucas.
"I've always been here, just waiting for you to catch a clue bus..." Lucas told him, moving close enough that Joe could feel the heat from his body.
"Lucas..." Joe murmured, softly, disbelieving.
"Tickets free Joe, you just have to get on," Lucas told him, walking away before Joe even had time to process.
Lucas knew? He knew Joe had feelings for him all this time? He'd been waiting for him? How the hell... Joe stared blankly after Lucas, unable to comprehend what had just happened, how could he not have noticed?
"Joe... Joe..." Joe snapped out of it.
"Monosyllabic, did Lucas finally make a move?" Warren asked.
"Huh? Am I the only one in the store who didn't know?" Joe demanded.
Warren snorted. "I'm pretty sure, everyone on the block knew but you man."
"Joe, chill, it's all good, no one cares as long as you're both happy and you'll both be happier together than apart," Warren grinned. "I'm takin' off, I got me a date, have fun!"
Joe watched him go. Everyone knew, everyone but him. Was he blind?
"Apparently," Lucas looked at him, leaning against the door jam with an amused expression.
"You could have said something," Joe grumbled.
"Joe, would you have taken me seriously, really?" Lucas asked.
Joe looked at the floor, mildly ashamed. "No," he conceded, "I probably wouldn't have."
"I've loved you since I was sixteen Joe, but you needed to see me as an adult, I just didn't think it would take this long," Lucas growled slightly and Joe felt his body react, he was seeing Lucas in a whole new light. He'd loved him for years, but never let himself feel, or at least admit to feeling, the burning attraction, but for whatever crazy reason and he still wasn't sure who he should be blaming, or possibly thanking for it, Lucas was looking at him now and Joe was able to look back and see a man. An incredibly beautiful man, a man Joe badly wanted.
"I'm right here Joe," Lucas said, like he knew what Joe was thinking, even though Joe was pretty sure he hadn't spoken aloud.
"Lucas..." Joe murmured softly, moving towards him, almost stalking.
Lucas held his eyes, mesmerised, not backing down, head held high, ready to take Joe on. Joe pushed him hard against the door jam, claiming his lips almost brutally, years of suppressed passion bubbling under the surface as Lucas whimpered and surrendered to him.
"Erm... guys... not that this isn't great, but customers..." Mark's voice interrupted them and Joe blushed furiously as Lucas laughed, pushing Joe backwards, towards his office, the door between the back room and the main floor closing, cutting of the sound of giggling late night shoppers.
"That was... embarrassing," Joe muttered, banging his head against the door of his office after it closed behind them.
"Naw, gotta give the customers a show now and then," Lucas joked, grinning broadly.
"You think it's funny?" Joe asked, incredulous.
"Joe... most of them are regulars, in fact, I'm pretty sure one or two of them had money on the book," Lucas said thoughtfully.
"Book? There is a book on us?" Joe asked.
"Duh. My God, do you pay any attention?" Lucas snorted, amused.
"Apparently not enough," Joe conceded, letting himself flop onto the couch.
Lucas grinned, crawling over his lap, his knees on either side of Joe's own, so that Joe had to look up at him.
"Relax Joe, no one cares," Lucas murmured softly in his ear, nuzzling and nibbling softly.
Joe groaned, put pushed Lucas back to look at him. "No... not... not here..."
"No... but when I get you home," Lucas grinned cheekily.
Joe whimpered. "I'm not sure I'm going to survive tonight."
"Took you eight years, EIGHT years Joe, to figure out I felt the same and you practically had to be led by the hand... I'm not taking any chances now, I love you Joe and I want to be with you, make love with you," Lucas murmured.
Joe felt tears prickle at his eyes. "I'm sorry Lucas."
Lucas smiled at him, gently. "Just take me home and make love to me, hold me all night long and we'll call it even."
Joe laughed softly. "I can do that," he agreed, moaning into Lucas' mouth as he kissed him, like he was trying to map his mouth with his tongue. He could definitely to that.