One Less Problem Without You

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For the first time, Michael is rudely awoken in the morning, rather than being allowed to sleep in. He winces as he feels the mattress shift and slant precipitously. A chirpy voice says to get up near his ear. And Michael knows his honeymoon period is over.

Ashton’s smiling from ear to ear, which makes Michael want to do nothing more than punch him. It’s nine, Michael realizes as he glances at the clock, making it a minimum four hours too early to be awake.

Michael scowls up at Ashton. “Go away, Ashton. The sun’s not even up.”

Ashton reaches over to the window above Michael’s head and tugs open the blinds. Light explodes unpleasantly into Michael’s room, and he winces. “Au contraire, my friend,” Ashton responds. “Time to get up. And you better get up, or I’ll bring up a cup of ice water and dump it over you.”

“He’s not joking,” Calum says from the doorway. His hair is plastered to his forehead, dripping onto his shirt. Michael grimaces on his behalf. Calum sighs.

“We have things to do today,” Ashton says, drawing Michael’s focus back. “So get up. Now would be preferable.”

Michael makes a face, but it’s not like he’s exactly asking for ice water to the face, so he shoves Ashton off the bed and gets up reluctantly.

He walks to the bathroom, passing Luke’s ever-shut door, and steps inside, locking the door behind him. He splashes some water at his face half-heartedly, trying to bring some life back to his face. He brushes his teeth carelessly and rinses his mouth out, and then washes off the toothbrush. He finishes his morning routine and pulls a face at himself in the mirror under his fluorescent hair, which is currently sticking out every which way. He tugs on his hair until it looks acceptable and exits the bathroom.

When he opens the door, it hits something solid, and Michael hears a little squeak.

He pokes his head out to find Luke rubbing his arm ruefully and walking down the hallway.  Shit. Calum flicks the side of Michael’s head in retribution for Luke as he walks by him on the way to the kitchen.

Michael goes to the kitchen, following the trail of boys, and slumps down at the table across from Luke, who’s leaning back and staring down at his feet beneath the table. Calum’s sitting on the counter, toweling off his hair, and Ashton’s eating a frozen waffle, forehead leaned against the fridge.

“So why are we all awake?” Calum asks, rubbing his eyes. “I...mmm. I need breakfast.”

“That can be arranged,” Ashton says, banging his head a little. “Ugh.”

“Don’t make that noise, you’re doing it to yourself,” Michael supplies.

“Thanks, Michael,” Ashton says sarcastically, and removes his head to face the rest of them. Calum stops toweling and lets it hang around his head and shoulders, Michael slumps in his chair, and Luke remains stubbornly fixated on his shoes. “Okay. If we’re going to make this thing work, we need to organize. Luckily for us, a family friend is lending it to us, so we don’t have to pay rent on this thing, but we do still need food and other things. I’m tired of frozen waffles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We also need to do our fair share of housework and all that shit.”

“I’m not grocery shopping,” Calum says immediately, touching his nose as fast as possible. “Nose goes.”

Ashton catches on quicker than Michael, who’s in a haze still, and Luke, who doesn’t really seem to care until he realizes that he’ll be stuck with Michael. He almost beats Ashton, but slumps in his chair when Ashton gets it first. Michael wishes he could muster up the energy to feel offended.

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