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Declan might not have attended the party had Gabriela not said she was thinking about going, and Dean said he was certainly attending. Dec was pretty sure they’d only invited Dean because it felt wrong not to invite them both in the first place. Declan understood that, but sometimes they wished things weren’t like that. In his opinion, Dean was a good, but deeply flawed, person. Underneath all his issues he cared a lot.

The night of the party, Dean had swung by Declan’s place ahead of time because, well, it was on the way and Dean was trying to repair their relationship, and he wouldn’t be as well received if Dec wasn’t there with him. So he was there, sifting through Declan’s refrigerator while he waited for his sibling to get ready. Dean made a face as he pulled some rotting spinach out and tossed it in the garbage. Declan bought fresh food, but from the looks of the kitchen they never ate any of it. Dean couldn’t blame them, they were honestly too busy.

“Are you almost ready?” He called, long since tired of waiting around, “If we don’t hurry up people are going to think you won’t show.”

Declan had been so busy. Classes, studying, hospital rotations. It was dizzying and exhausting and left them little time for the small pleasures of life like taking their goddamn time getting ready for a party. “Yeah, I’m just-” He sighed, “It’s been so long, you know?” All their old friends were going to be there. Soren was going to be there. Maybe Simon. Dec wasn’t sure how to behave, or what kind of impression to make. Their social life had suffered for their excellent grades, and sometimes Declan wondered if he’d ever be normal again.

They left the cramped bathroom and came face-to-face with Dean, “Okay, I-” A pause, and a look around the room, “Were you going through my food?”

“Half of your shit was molding in the fridge,” Dean offered as an explanation, before turning to grab Declan’s keys and toss them at his brother, “Come on, parties are no fun if you’re the only sober ones there, and if we don’t hurry we will be.”

A subway ride and a couple blocks of walking later, and they were very nearly there.

“Dean,” Declan started, intending to ask Dean not to get Gabriella mixed up in whatever trouble he might concoct while at the party, but Dean waved them off before they got off the chance.

“I know this is my last fucking chance with most of these people,” He said, looking ahead, eyes not even glancing towards his brother, “Past it, even. I’ll be on my best behavior.”

Declan felt a little guilty. That was basically the gist of it, but they probably wouldn’t have been too harsh. “I just don’t want anyone to get hurt tonight, is all.”

There was a pregnant pause between the two of them.

“I know.” Dean finally replied. And after that, neither of them said much.

As they neared the building, Dean looked across the street and saw a squirrel behaving really erratically, and Dean pointed it out. “The fuck is that squirrel doing?”

Declan turned their head, eyebrow raised, “Let’s just get inside and leave it alone. Might be diseased or something.”

“Gross,” Dean mumbled as they entered the building.

They weren’t there long before Dean vanished from Declan’s side and someone else found him, “Where the fuck have you been.”

Declan quickly tried to explain, tone apologetic, “My rotation this afternoon ran a little long and-”

“It doesn’t even matter. You’re here now. Don’t you dare leave me alone.”

Declan nodded at the interruption, “I wouldn’t dream of it.” He nodded along as she started detailing the gossip of the night, occasionally puncturing her comments with little interjections of “oh?”, or “no,” or even, “I knew it!”

Declan raised an eyebrow at Gabriella’s comment about Erin and Evie. They smirked, “Right down to the outfits.”

Dean had made it to the kitchen, and Declan shot him an awkward smile as they both reached out for Gabriella to hand them a beer. Then Robyn Miller, of all people, was greeting Dean like they were the best of friends. What the fuck.

There hadn’t been much for Dean to do besides ditch Declan once the two of them got to the party, and then they were quickly reunited in the kitchen. Dean shot a beaming grin at Dec and went on to his business. The goal for the evening was to get drunk, get laid, and have fun. He ran into someone on his way out of the kitchen, and was a little pissed off until he noticed it was Robyn. He smiled at her greeting, “Hey! It’s great to see you.”

“How have you been? How’s the restaurant?”

Dean nodded, “Busy,” He offered, as explanation for how both he and the restaurant were doing, “How about you? How’s-”

Then Jade showed up, blowing through the room like a whirlwind. He swallowed down his annoyance of being interrupted to put on the act of a kind and caring boyfriend, shrugging off her apology for being late. “Not my party.” He neglected to mention that he, himself, had also been a bit late. He returned Jade’s kiss, and had to fight the urge to roll his eyes when Jade went on talking to Robyn about Nate’s passing. The conversation was suddenly about Nate, and he wasn’t the center of it anymore, so he was very quickly growing bored. But he kept a polite, neutral smile glued to his face.

Gabriella, who had turned to face Declan when Jade entered the kitchen, still couldn’t resist glancing out her periphery as she heard Jade call another by the endearment once reserved for her. Doing her best not to react she took a drink from her beer, looking back to Declan to see his reaction. It was evident it was just as much of a surprise to him as it was Gabriella.

“I’m going to go to the bathroom,” Gabriella mumbled to Declan, slipping past him and out the kitchen.

Dec had no idea that Jade and Dean were… Together? He shook his head when Gabriella looked at him, trying to wordlessly convey that he would have told her had he known. He sighed, softly, to himself as she slipped past. She needed a minute, so he let her go.

Declan walked up to Dean and, with a smile, said, “Excuse me ladies,” They cut a sharp look at Jade, it only lasted a second, but it was long enough to convey their distaste for her. “Can I borrow my brother for just a minute?” With their normally-gentle hand on Dean’s shoulder, Declan led Dean out of the kitchen and to the first empty corner they could find and shoved him into it.

“What the hell, Dean?!”

“What?” Dean’s expression was incredulous, he hadn’t done anything. Of course, he didn’t know the truth about what had happened between Jade and Gabriella, but for fuck’s sake.

“Jade? Out of everyone in the world?”

Dean shrugged, but he was angry at Declan for pushing him. Dec could see it on his face, they knew Dean better than anyone. “I really don’t think it's any of your business.” Dean smiled; all teeth and no warmth, “Is it?”