Then Comes Marriage
"Mother, I don't think this is a good idea."
"Jackie, I'm not that happy about it either but as much as I trust them, I don't trust them with a twenty pound turkey. Now, open the door."
"All right, but when the fur starts flying, I'm taking the coward's way out and hiding behind my son."
John opened the door to the cottage. He and Claire had driven over early, very early; the sun was barely hitting the tops of the trees. Claire had promised Brian and Justin to come over early to get a head start on Thanksgiving dinner. Debbie and Carl would get there around nine and the rest of the family around . Dinner would be served between one and two. If the turkey was to be ready in time, it had to be put into the oven by . It was approaching seven when John unlocked the cottage door to let Claire and himself in. John eased the door open. Claire and John walked into the quiet and dark cottage.
"I knew it," Claire grumbled. "They're not even awake yet."
"Mom," John whispered loudly.
"Look." John pointed to a huge turkey shaped floral arrangement that was sitting on the granite island. Sticking out of the top of the turkey's head was a note.
"The turkey is in the oven, and the coffee pot is set on automatic for . Please help yourselves to the muffins and bagels. Let me sleep with my husband until at least seven and I promise not to be grumpy. Brian."
Claire re-read the note then handed it to John who also read it then shook his head. On the counter was a basket with huge fluffy muffins and a platter of bagels. They both felt the heat coming from the cobalt blue oven. Bending over the oven door, Claire and John gingerly opened the door just a bit to take a peek inside.
"I don't believe it!" Claire exclaimed. As instructed, the humongous bird was in the oven roasting away.
"That's my little brother. When he makes up his mind..."
"You don't have to remind me. Well, I guess we should enjoy a muffin while they sleep."
"Are you going to wake them? It's just about seven now."
"Let them sleep a bit longer, and I'm embarrassed that I doubted them."
"Don't be. We still have to check out the porch. There's a lot of furniture to move and I know Brian wasn't too happy about taking apart the bed. But it can't be helped, we need the room." John left Claire to contemplate a muffin as he went to check out the porch.
"Damn, he's good." John stood at the doorway awestruck. The good fairies had struck. The portion of the porch that acted as Justin's studio was cleaned up. Not a tube of paint or brush to be found. The bed had found its way into the far corner, screened off by the Japanese screen with the potted palms in front to prevent curious fingers from leaving prints on the screen. The wicker furniture, while huddled together just in front of the plants, was neatly arranged and the table set for the kids. Two long tables were set side by side for the adults. They were awaiting the table cloths, dishes and cutlery and the floral arrangements that Justin had picked up. The folding chairs were leaning against the walls. John stood there shaking his head.
While John was perusing the porch, Claire sat on a stool enjoying a muffin. Soon the coffee maker sprung to life and the aroma of Brian's special blend filled the kitchen.
"Mmm, that smells awesome," John remarked.
"Yes, it does. Do you know where they keep the mugs?"
"In the cabinet just to the left of the sink. I'll put the kettle on
too. Justin likes tea in the morning. Mother, this is really a very good idea
and makes so much more sense than having the
"I had a little help."
"What Justin wants..."
"Justin gets." Mother and son shared a giggle. "Seriously, Jackie, it wasn't that difficult and Brian saw its advantages."
"No overnight guests." As Claire and John cracked up with laughter, Brian was stirring.
"Fuck, this is going to be a nightmare," Brian groused to himself. Justin slept the sleep of the innocent. Forcing himself out of bed and into a robe, Brian gently kissed Justin and tucked him in. No need for both of them to be awake at this ungodly hour. Brian went to the bathroom then out to the kitchen.
"Couldn't resist waking me up at the crack of dawn, could you, Claire?" Brian grumbled but kissed the woman on the cheek and gratefully accepted the mug of coffee John placed in his hand. Taking a few sips, Brian was becoming civil.
"Good morning." Brian was almost cheerful.
"Good morning, little brother. You certainly were very busy this morning."
"Mmm. I got up early to put the turkey in then went back to bed. Shouldn't be too much left to do."
"I noticed. John and I brought the stuffing, salad and pies. I know Debbie is bringing the potatoes and heaven only knows what the rest of the family is bringing. But I'm sure it will all be fabulous, to quote Emmett. Speaking about Emmett, I hear he and Sam broke up. That's a shame. I like Sam even though he did seem a little uncomfortable at times. I hope it wasn't a difficult breakup."
"Don't worry about Emmett. He has a way of bouncing back. And bouncing and bouncing and bouncing. He'll be here with his new boyfriend, who really is his old boyfriend; long story. Anyway, Temmett and SO's will be here."
"SO's?" Claire asked.
"Significant others. My sister won't be joining us, although she may
for Christmas. Her boyfriend wanted her to do Thanksgiving in
"How about Ben and Michael? Will they be joining us?" John asked Brian. The closer Brian and Ben got, the further Michael and Brian got. Brian still wasn't sure why but he tried to remain pleasant and he really enjoyed his occasional lunches with Ben. Brian found them stimulating, ahem.
"Zen Ben and Mikey shall be here. They miss Hunter and now that the boy has been accepted to my alma mater, they want to spend as much time as possible with him. And of course the Munchers will be here and Jennifer with Molly. What time does Debbie get here?"
"Around nine. Should we wake Justin?" Claire was curious as to why Justin was still asleep.
"Leave him. I'll wake him before Debbie gets here. He was up late cleaning." Claire and John looked around. The cottage was beyond immaculate. "I know. The boy got a bug up his ass. The place is so clean you can eat off the fireplace hearth. The little twat was exhausted when he hit the sheets. I'm going to take a quick shower then I guess we can set the tables."
"Brian, I just thought of something. Do you have enough place settings? I realized that this is really your first dinner party. How thoughtless of me. We could have brought some things."
"Not to worry, Claire. I went shopping."
"Shopping?" John and Claire said together.
"Shopping. The boxes are in the den. I'll be out soon."
Brian went to shower, Claire and John went to explore Brian's new purchase. In the middle of the floor were several boxes each containing dishes, bowls, glasses, cutlery, etc. Everything one would need for about fifty people. The dishes were of a creamy white. Elegant for the fanciest dinner party and simple enough to use for every day. In another box were chair covers. Brian had borrowed the metal folding chairs from John. To make them more elegant and comfortable, Brian purchased brocade fabric, also in a creamy white. And he had matching table clothes. Brian had thought of everything.
"Fortunoffs?" Claire questioned.
"I repeat, damn, he's good," John replied then he lifted the first box and brought it out to the porch.
Debbie arrived with Carl promptly at nine and the
"Drew, honey, I'm not sure if you had a chance to meet John. John is Brian's brother." Drew stood to shake John's hand, slightly taken aback at the sight of Brian's look alike older brother.
"Wow. I mean, nice to meet you. I didn't know Brian had a brother."
"Neither did he five years ago. But here we are. Didn't you play pro football? And you're the colorman for the team."
Drew nodded and then the 'men' huddled off in a corner to talk sports leaving Emmett with a silly grin on his face and shaking his head.
"Emmett? Something wrong?" Justin observed the look on Emmett's face.
"Nothing, sweetie. Just watching our macho men strutting their stuff." Emmett nodded over at Drew and John, and now joining them were Dan, Carl and George, and Allen. "I guess I'm not manly enough to join in their games."
"That's a whole load of bullshit but I'm not into sports either. Unless you call fucking a sport. I excel in that sport." Justin and Emmett cracked up in laughter as Brian joined them.
"And what are you two ladies laughing about?"
"Oh, nothing really. Justin was just saying that he excelled in fucking."
"Hmm. Sunshine, if there ever was a Superbowl of fucking, you would certainly take home the winning ball," Brian said with a wink to his partner then sauntered off to see what Gus was up to.
"Aww," Emmett gushed. Justin beamed.
"Em, seriously, how's it going with you and Drew? Do you think this time's for real?"
"Yes, sweetie, I think so. He really has been very attentive. And we go out on dates. You know, real dates. I think he's courting me, and I love every minute of it."
"That's so great, Emmett. I hope it works out."
"I do too. I wonder how Ted and Allen are getting along. They both have lived on their own for such a long time. I know how difficult it is sharing your personal space with someone. Silly me, you know better than anyone else how difficult it is to share space."
"True, but if you really think about it, most of the time Brian and
I were together, we weren't really living together. I guess it's been since LA
that we've gotten closer. Still he has his business and I have to travel to
Both Justin and Emmett had wistful looks in their eyes.
"You know, Emmett, I have never seen Teddy so peaceful, so happy. I think it's working with Allen. I certainly like him a lot better than Blake. I trust Allen, if you know what I mean. He seems to be so comfortable with himself and with us. I am really happy for Ted."
"I am too, honey. There was a time that I really thought it would be the two of us. But I love Ted as a friend. You know what I mean?"
"Yes, Em. I do."
"Hunter, how are you? And where is that sweet hunky boyfriend of yours?" Emmett inquired.
"He's spending today with his parents but I get him for two whole days before he goes back to Penn," Hunter said with a gleam.
"Is it true? You've been accepted to Penn for the Spring semester?" Justin asked.
"Yep! I can't believe it. This is the master's program for social work. I still can't believe they accepted me."
"And why not?" Brian said with a slight growl. "Your grade point average was 3.85 and the work you've done at the Farm shows your intention to actually do something with your degree. The admissions committee would have been remiss if they didn't accept you."
"Brian, how do you know so much about my admission?" Hunter was totally surprised.
"Yeah, Brian. How do you know so much?" Justin leered at his spouse. Hunter's mouth was gaping open and Emmett stood with his hands on his hips. To maintain the peace, Brian had to reveal his little secret.
"We all knew that Hunter was applying to Penn and I am an alumnus. I know about the graduate admissions committee so I wrote a letter of reference. Now before any of you accuse me of anything underhanded, I have a copy of the letter in my office. I was planning on giving it to you anyway. It's not unusual to require letters of reference when entering a graduate program and I've known you since you were a wee little hustler. I thought it would be appropriate to send my letter. Now are any of you going to complain?"
Three heads shook, 'no.'
"Good, I need coffee." Brian left the porch. He met up with Ben in the kitchen who was helping himself to a cup.
"Coffee? I thought you stuck with herbal twig tea or something equally as vile," Brian snarked.
"Fuck off," Ben snapped back. Brian nearly spat out his coffee through his nose.
"Fuck off? Isn't that my line? Ben, what's wrong? You're not getting sick, are you?"
"No, not that. Brian can we go into your office for a few minutes. I really need to talk to someone before I go crazy."
"Sure, professor. Grab your mug and follow me." Ben and Brian took their coffee mugs into Brian's inner sanctum. Taking a seat on the futon sofa, Brian faced Ben and urged him to talk. "Ben, over the past year I've grown to consider you one of my closest friends. You can tell me anything. I won't break a confidence."
Ben took a deep breath. "Michael and I are having trouble." Brian was tempted to say something snarky but he thought better of it.
"When did it start?"
"That's just it. I have no idea. I can't blame it on one thing. It seems that everything bothers him now. First it was the thought of you and Justin finally settling down after he came home from LA. Then Hunter growing up and having his own life. You and Justin being monogamous and for so long. I believed it; I always knew your relationship was much deeper than anyone suspected but I guess that's why you call me Zen Ben. Then Ted and Allen and finally Emmett with Drew. It's like the more everyone settles down and perhaps follows our example, the more miserable he becomes. I don't understand why he just can't be happy for everyone. Brian, it's horrible the way he gloats when one of you has a difficult time. I don't think he's doing this on purpose. And believe me, I have tried to get him into counseling, couples' counseling. But he won't have it."
"Ben, should I try talking to him? Not that I have a snowball's chance in hell of getting through to him"
"No, don't bother. I've given him an ultimatum, either he gets his
act together by the New Year or I'm out. He can stay in the house or sell it. I
really don't care. I may even move closer to
"Fuck, professor! You can't be serious. It's been Michael and Ben forever."
"I'm having a difficult time with it myself. But you must have noticed how he's changed. How bitter he's become. I've tried to be supportive, not demanding but I can't live like this anymore. It's not good for him and unhealthy karma for me."
"Ben, I am the last one to offer advice but before you do anything rash, take the asshole on a vacation. I don't recall you two ever getting away on your own. You have time in between semesters."
"Brian, I can't afford..."
"Leave that to me."
"Ben, I'm crazy but not stupid. Tell him you won a pair of tickets to the paradise of your choice and you booked yourselves into the hottest gay resort in Acapulco. I'll take care of the arrangements. I'll be discreet and go through my travel agent. She's sworn to secrecy especially if she wants to keep my business. If it still falls to pieces after, then at least you'll know you've done everything in your power to make it better."
A strained silence descended.
"Please let me do this for you. I love him. I always have and always will. I just wish he knew that."
"On some level he does. He just can't accept it."
They sat in silence once again, sipping their coffee.
"Professor, I hate cold coffee. Let's get a fresh cup. We've been hiding in here far too long. And I know how much you love all those rumors about us." Ben snorted then held out his hand to Brian. Brian took it and gave it a squeeze.
"Ted, I think it's time to head home. I need to get in a little practice time."
"Sure, I'll go find Brian and Justin while you get our coats." Within thirty minutes after Ted and Allen said their goodbyes, they were on the road heading home.
"You know something; I really had a good time today."
"Teddy, why so surprised? You spent the day with your family. The food was phenomenal and the company pleasant. The children were very well behaved. We have a wonderful bunch of friends."
"Allen! Pull over." Allen pulled the car onto the shoulder of the highway.
"Ted, what is it?" Allen could see the beginnings of tears in Ted's eye. Ted leaned over and gave Allen a loving kiss.
"For what, Ted."
"Thank you for saying we. We do have very good friends and I'm proud to be a part of this family. And I am so happy that you've become a part of it too. Thank you." Allen leaned in and returned Ted's kiss.
"Ted, I knew the minute we met, my life had changed for the better. Now let's go home. I think I'm going to give the boys the night off. After all, it is a holiday."
"Ah, those boys. Are you sure you won't miss all the banging?" Ted smiled at Allen.
"I guess I'll just have to bang someone else," Allen smiled back and then he pulled back onto the road.
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