Then Comes Marriage
After Ted and Allen left, everyone else sat around drinking coffee and picking at desserts. People separated into groups and chatted quietly. Jennifer joined Carl and Debbie who were sitting on the wicker furniture in the sun porch.
"Is something wrong with Michael?" Jennifer asked. Michael was over by the sliding door staring out into the yard.
"He's … been acting strangely," Carl said.
"He and Ben are going through a rough patch," Debbie supplied.
"Really?" Jennifer asked. She didn't see much of Michael except at these get-togethers. "I always thought he and Ben were rock solid."
"So did we, but Michael has been a stubborn little ass," Debbie stated. "You know he's never forgiven Brian for helping Hunter once he got to the farm. Things between Brian and Michael are still strained, and it's like that colors his whole fucking view of the world."
"Have you tried talking to him?"
"Of course, I have, but he won't listen. He thinks that Brian has moved on with Justin and Ted with Allen and Emmett with Drew."
"But, didn't he move on with Ben first?" Jennifer asked.
"Yeah, and it was fine as long as he could have both worlds - life with Ben at home and Babylon with Brian and the boyz whenever he wanted it."
"He wants to have his cake and eat it too."
"That's about the size of it. And he has his cake but he's not enjoying eating it."
"There must be something that can be done to wake him up."
"If there is, I don't know what the fuck it is," Debbie said with exasperation in her voice.
Carl stood up. "Maybe it's time I threw my two cents in."
"Carl, I appreciate the thought, but I don't think Michael will be very receptive to anything you say."
"He'll listen," Carl said as he headed over to Michael. Moments later the two men opened the door and walked down towards the stream.
"I hope Carl knows what the fuck he's doing," Debbie said looking worried. "I used to say that my Michael had the biggest heart, but lately he seems to have become mean and bitter. He better not say anything nasty to Carl."
"That doesn't sound like Michael."
"You haven't seen much of him lately, Jennifer. He's changed."
"I'm really sorry to hear that."
"What about you? Any new beaus on the horizon?" Debbie asked.
"Not so's you'd notice," Jennifer laughed. "I sold a house to this great looking guy a couple of weeks ago. He seemed interested, but I haven't heard from him since we closed the deal."
"Well, you could always call and ask how things are going, if he's happy with the house."
Jennifer chuckled. "You don't know much about real estate, do you?" Debbie shook her head. "Once the deal's made, grab your commission and get the hell out of Dodge. A couple of weeks in a new place is when the buyer starts to find all the things he doesn't like about the house. You don't want to be calling. You're liable to get an earful."
"If you like the guy, take a chance," Debbie stated.
"I don't know," Jennifer hedged. "How are you and Carl getting along?"
"I love that big lug. He's the best thing that ever happened to me," Debbie smiled.
"The honeymoon still isn't over?"
"Never will be if I have anything to say about it."
"You're lucky, Deb. I think about Craig sometimes, and it makes my blood boil, all that time I wasted with him making myself believe that he was something he wasn't."
"You loved him once, didn't you?" Debbie asked.
"Once, but it seems so long ago."
"It's time you found a new man," Debbie instructed her. "You're a good looking woman, Jen. Call that guy."
"I'll think about it," Jennifer said and sipped her coffee.
Carl and Michael walked in silence down to the stream. On the bank they stopped and stared at the babbling water as it bounced over some rocks.
"It's peaceful here," Carl said.
"Why aren't you at peace, Michael?"
Michael turned to Carl with his characteristic scowl, crossing his arms on his chest in annoyance. "What the fuck do you mean?"
"Look at yourself. That miserable scowl is on your face every time I see you."
"What the fuck do you know about anything?"
"I know unhappiness when I see it."
"You don't know shit!"
"Michael, you are making everyone want to avoid being around you because you bring them down with this perpetual bad attitude of yours."
"Fuck off, Carl."
"All right, I will, but not till after you listen to me." Michael glared at him but didn't move, so Carl continued. "If you keep on like this you're going to lose everything and everyone that is important to you. You've alienated Brian refusing to talk to him no matter how many times he's tried. You've cut yourself off from Emmett and Ted."
"I have not!" Michael retorted. "They've found partners and left me."
"They haven't left you. You just need to connect with them in a new way."
"And how the fuck am I supposed to do that?"
"Find some new things to do with them, besides
"I grew up first," Michael stated petulantly.
"No, Michael, you got married first, and you've resented everyone else that's following that route. You wanted it to be your exclusive domain, your claim to fame, your special niche."
"That's not true. I tried to get Brian to grow up, but he wouldn't."
"You said all the right things, but you never wanted him to change. If you had, you'd be happy for him now instead of refusing to talk to him. If you don't get a clue soon, Michael, you may lose everything including Ben and JR."
Carl walked away leaving his words to sink in. He had some idea just how bad things were between Ben and Michael, and he was pretty sure his last words would hit home.
Michael was about to tell Carl to mind his own fucking business when Carl just walked away. Michael stood by the stream for a long time staring at the water.
"So, Drew, I hear you and Emmett are sharing some space," Melanie said.
"You heard right," Drew smiled wrapping his arm around Emmett's waist and pulling him close.
"Oooh, you are so strong," Emmett gushed.
"I'm glad to see you two so happy," Lindsay said.
"Thanks, Lindz," Emmett replied. "You two helped me a lot back in the bad old days."
"You mean when you had that baying lover that time?" Melanie laughed.
"Shit! Never mention him again, especially not now that Drewsie is here."
"You'll have to tell me all about him, Emm." Drew smiled but the girls could see a tinge of jealousy. That was always a good sign early in a relationship, unless it got to be too much.
"It's great that Ted seems to have found someone too," Lindsay said.
"Yeah, and having them in the same building is so handy," Emmett smiled.
"Except for those fucking drums," Drew bitched.
"They are kind of loud, but he never practises after eleven. He's considerate that way," Emmett defended his friend and his lover.
"I guess we're all getting domesticated these days," Lindsay said with a slow smile.
"Who'd a thunk it?" Emmett asked.
"Yeah, who'd a thunk?" Melanie repeated.
By nine, the family except for Carl and Debbie, Claire, Steve and Hunter, John and Bobby and Patrick, had all gone home. Everyone went home with 'care packages' and the leftovers were neatly stowed. John and Hunter had loaded the tables and chairs into Hunter's pick up to be taken back to the farm. The family helped Brian and Justin set the sun porch back to its formerly arranged state. Debbie noted how the potted palms were arranged and the rest of the plants. She understood how a simple thing like house plants could fluster Brian and Justin. And she was proud that they fought their way through it. She was so proud of all her boys; they were no longer lost. Seeing Debbie standing alone in the porch, Brian came in and stood next to her.
"What is it, Deb?"
"I think you're right."
"I'm always right...about what?"
"Asshole. You're right about me and Carl. I waited so long to find a good man; it's silly to wait for something that that asshole in the oval office may prevent for the rest of my life. I think I'll ask Carl tonight."
"Ask me what, sweetheart?" Carl joined them handing a mug of coffee to Debbie.
"Carl Horvath, would you do me the honor of becoming my husband?" Debbie asked in all seriousness.
"You mean that?" Carl replied not believing that his dream would ever come true. Brian removed the mugs from their hands and turned to go back inside to give them a little privacy.
"Stay right where you are, Brian," Carl demanded, wanting a witness to this event. Brian stopped in his tracks.
"Debbie, are you saying that you're ready to become my wife?"
"Yes, Carl. That's what I'm saying. And what do you say?"
"I say, YES! And I say, let's get into the car and drive to
"Then what the fuck are we waiting for?"
"YIPPEE!!!" Carl shouted as he and Debbie danced across the floor.
Hearing the shouts, the rest of the family joined them. Brian was wearing a silly ear to ear grin on his face, still holding the steaming mugs of coffee.
"What's going on?" Justin asked, never seeing Carl quite so giddy.
"Elementary, my dear Sunshine. The love bug has struck again and Debbie asked Carl to marry her."
"Oh man, that's so cool!"
"Yes, it is. Our widdle Debbie has finally grown up," Brian snarked with a twinkle in his moistened eyes.
"Awwwww," the rest of the family chimed in and they all shared a laugh and hugs.
Whispering to Justin, Brian asked, "Do we have a thermos and a cooler?"
"I think so, why?"
"Because I think they're going for a drive. Come on." Brian, Justin and Claire went to the kitchen to pack a cooler as the rest of the family congratulated the couple. Within an hour they were on their way, determined not to let anyone or anything deter them. The family stood by the cottage door and waved them off.
"Amaazing!" Brian exclaimed as he shut the door. "Well what do you all think about that?" Brian asked the remaining family.
"About fucking time!" they all answered back and broke out into laughs.
Thanksgiving had come and gone. Carl and Debbie spent several days in
"Shit, Brian, it's Christmas!"
"Don't whine at me Justin. It's four days until Christmas. This can't be helped. This contract will set Kinnetik up for life."
"But I thought it was all signed and sealed."
"It is but the CEO and founder of the company has this thing about
the final handshake. If I don't see him now, the contract won't go through for
another month. He's taking his wife on a world tour. All I have to do is fly into
"Please, Sunshine. This has to be done. I could go into semi-retirement if I wanted to after this deal is done. Don't give me a hard time about it."
"I will give you a hard time. When you get back."
"That's my brave Sunshine. Besides, you can decorate to your little heart's content without me bitching about it. I think they can see the Christmas lights from the space station."
"Just hurry back. I love you, Brian."
"I love you too. Keep the home fires burning for me; I'll be back home soon."
Brian cut the connection. He was in
Brian's flight went without a hitch. He had a dinner meeting set up with the CEO that same night. The meeting went very well, all parties were immensely pleased. The CEO had his handshake; Brian had his contract. After dinner, Brian went directly to the airport.
It was late, almost
but Brian didn't care. The plane would touch down in
"Ladies and Gentleman, we're having a problem with the landing gear. Please direct your attention to the steward. He will assist you with our emergency landing procedures. We will be circling the airport while the air traffic tower gives us clearance and directs away the other planes."
The cabin became quiet for a moment then Brian heard a few people whimpering quietly. Brian grabbed the in flight phone and placed a call.
"Hello," a sleepy voice answered.
"John, it's Brian. I don't have much time."
"Brian? Where are you?"
"On a plane, circling
"Good God, Brian!" Bobby woke up hearing his lover cry out.
"John, listen to me. I need you to go to the cottage. Justin, if he wakes up with the news… I need you to be with him. Do you understand? Don't let him be alone. Don't let him hear the news. Tell him I love him. Tell him John...tell him how much he means to me. Tell him he's my whole life."
"Brian, God, Brian..."
"John, please, go to him. God, I love him so much, please take care of him. Please, John."
"Brian it'll be okay. You'll make it. I know you'll make it. Should I call anyone?"
"I don't know. Just go stay with Justin. John, I love you. Thank you for...for"
"Brian, I love you. I'll take care of it."
"John, tell him, you have to tell him, he has to know how much I love..."
John stared at the phone. He couldn't believe what he just heard. John jumped out of bed then began throwing on clothes.
"John, what's happening?" Bobby asked as he saw how frantic John was.
"Brian's plane, landing gear trouble. I have to get to Justin."
"Oh my God! Let me come with you."
"NO, stay here with the baby. I have to get to Justin. Brian wanted me to get to Justin before he heard anything on the news. God, Bobby, we can't lose him, I can't lose him."
"We won't. The gods protect drunks, little children and Brian Kinney. I'll call Michael."
"No, not Michael."
"No, he'll just scream and become hysterical."
"No. Ben, call Ben, he'll know what to do." Bobby nodded as they both went into their son's room. John lifted the sleeping child and gave him a kiss. Patrick opened his eyes to happily gurgle at his daddy, the hazel eyes so familiar, matching his father's and Brian's.
"Are you sure you don't want me to go with you?"
"No, baby. I need to you stay and make the calls. I'll keep my phone close. I'll call you when I get to the cottage. I love you, baby."
"I love you too, John." The lovers hugged then hugged their son. John left to go to Justin.
Bobby began to make his call. It was the most difficult call he ever made in his life.
Ben answered the phone and carefully listened to Bobby. He knew exactly who to call and what to do. Within minutes he was in his car heading for the loft. He called Allen and Ted and they in turn went down to Emmett and Drew's apartment. By the time Ben got there they were ready to go to the airport. Allen stayed behind to man the phones. He kissed Ted as Ted, Emmett, Ben piled into Drew's Hummer. Allen nodded to his family and they were on their way. Quietly the four men drove to the airport. Emmett took a chance and put on the news.
"Late breaking news. A small shuttle
plane flying in from
Drew lowered the volume as Emmett burst into tears.
As the cabin crew prepared the passengers for the emergency landing Brian scribbled a few words to Justin on the back of the contract. Then he stuffed the contract in his attache case. The case was metal and Brian felt sure it would survive. Brian grabbed the pillow he was issued and began to pray.
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