“Good morning,” Stephanie said as Justin answered the door of the conjoined cottages.
“Morning, we thought you’d come over for breakfast,” Justin said as he led Steph and Sabastian into the kitchen. Brian was finishing putting the breakfast things away. Bree was wiping the table.
“Morning, everyone,” Steph said cheerily. She got “Morning” in reply from Brian and Bree. “Where’s your son?” she asked Brian.
“They like to sleep in when they get the chance,” Brian said with a smirk. “Have you had breakfast?”
“We’ve eaten so much the last couple of days that I thought we’d have a bit of cereal and try not to gain twenty pounds while we’re here,” Steph explained with a laugh.
“Too late,” Sabastian grumped.
Brian raised an eyebrow. “And good morning to you too,” he said to the doctor.
“Morning,” Sabastian finally said after a little nudge from his wife.
“Looks like someone got up on the wrong side of the bed,” Brian said with a smirk.
“Did not,” Sabastian countered. “My wife made me wear these stupid sweat pants and sneakers.”
“Very fashion forward,” Brian said with no attempt to disguise the irony in his voice.
“You look fine, Dr. Cabot,” Bree piped up.
“Thank you, young lady. You have excellent manners,” Sabastian added with a pointed look at Brian. Brian gave him a saccharine smile.
“Um, based on your clothing and shoes,” Justin began, “I guess you want to go up to the treehouse.”
“Treehouse,” Sabastian grumbled. “What are we - four?”
“We can fit four people in the treehouse,” Justin said with a grin, deliberately taking the wrong meaning from the good doctor’s words.
“It will probably fall out of the tree with that many people up there.”
“Oh no,” Bree interjected, “we’ve had way more people than four up in the treehouse.”
“You have?” Sabastian asked with a look of horror on his face. Bree nodded emphatically. “Well I think the whole idea of adults up in a treehouse is … is … patently ridiculous.”
“You obviously haven’t seen our treehouse,” Brian stated firmly.
“And I really don’t want to.”
“Fine, Sabastian,” Stephanie said. “Stay on the ground like the old fogey you are. I’m going up. Ready, Justin?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Justin said with a smile.
“Can I come too, Daddy?” Bree asked.
“Can I come too, Daddy?” Brian asked in his best falsetto.
“Sure, sweetheart,” Justin replied with a chuckle.
“What about you?” Brian asked Sabastian.
“That will make four people in the treehouse if you all go. You said it would hold four.”
“I’m sure we can squeeze you in,” Brian said with another smirk. He was enjoying tormenting the rather stuffy doctor.
“But…” Sabastian began.
“You’re coming with us,” Steph said brooking no disobedience.
“Yes, dear,” Sabastian said contritely as they all made their way outside.
“Want to go up first?” Justin asked Stephanie.
“Sure,” she said starting up the tree.
“Be careful, dear,” Sabastian said. His wife gave him a snort in reply. “It does look better and more … solid than I thought it might,” he admitted looking up at the structure. “You’re sure it’s safe?”
“Very,” Brian replied.
“Come up here, honey,” Steph called to her husband.
“I’m fine right where I am,” Sabastian said.
“Give it a try, Doc,” Brian said gently. He did want Dr. Cabot to enjoy the weekend. “You might like it.”
Sabastian looked at his host, but he didn’t see the usual sarcasm there. “You think I should?”
“Yeah, you actually might like it.”
Sabastian tentatively started up the tree. He made sure he didn’t look down. Heights weren’t his favourite thing. When he reached the first level Stephanie pulled him into her and kissed his cheek.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” she asked.
“Bad enough,” Sabastian replied looking around. “You do get a nice view from up here.”
“Let’s go inside,” Steph said.
Justin was making his way up the tree.
“Be careful, Daddy,” Bree advised.
“I’m fine, sweetheart,” Justin said. “You can stop worrying about me.”
“No I can’t,” Bree muttered.
“Squirt, he’s doing fine,” Brian whispered to his daughter. “Let him show the Cabots around. Want to go up too?”
Bree nodded. She and her older father started to climb up.
“This is incredible,” Stephanie gushed when they were all inside the treehouse.
“Thanks,” Brian and Justin said at the same time.
Stephanie smiled at them. “More of your wonderful artwork, Justin. That must be a young Gus,” she added pointing to the boy in the mural. Justin nodded in agreement. “I could move in here right now.”
“We do rent it out to certain special people,” Brian said tongue in cheek.
“Really?” Steph asked. “I’d love to spend a night up here.”
“No you wouldn’t!” Sebastian said brusquely.
“Yes … I would!”
“You can’t be serious. It’s cramped and cold and…”
“I can do cramped for one night, and you said there was a fireplace,” Steph said looking at Justin who nodded.
“My God! There is a fireplace!” Sabastian reacted. “Won’t it burn the tree down?”
“Hasn’t so far,” Brian replied.
“I’m going to stay here tonight,” Stephanie declared. “Um, if it’s all right with you?” she asked looking from Brian to Justin.
“That can be arranged,” Justin said.
“No, I forbid it,” Sabastian blustered.
“Forbid?” Steph asked with a glare at her husband.
“Darling, you can’t be serious.”
“I’m very serious, and you should stay with me if you’re so worried.”
“No, no, I don’t want to stay here,” Sabastian muttered.
“So you’re not really very worried about me if you won’t stay with me,” Stephanie said laying on the guilt.
“I am worried. I don’t want you here by yourself overnight.”
“Then stay with me, because I’m spending the night here.”
“Okay,” Sabastian said softly shaking his head from side to side. He knew when he was beaten.
“Great,” Steph said, “and now I’m going down the slide. And you’re coming with me, Sabastian,” she added.
“Yes, dear,” Sabastian said as he followed his wife out to the slide.
“Guess we know who wears the pants in that family,” Brian said.
Bree and Justin nodded their heads before breaking out into giggles.
Seeing all the cleaning supplies Justin was carrying, John had to find out what was going on.
“What are you doing?” John asked in a Brian Kinney-like way, arched brow included.
“You’re getting good that,” Justin countered. After years of dealing with the original Kinney, John didn’t intimidate him.
“Good at what?”
“Making like Brian. And in answer to your question, I’m going to clean out the treehouse,” Justin said with a sigh.
“Why?” John asked as he grabbed the bucket that was about to tumble out of Justin’s hands.
“I made the mistake of showing Stephanie the treehouse…”
“And now she wants to sleep in it,” John said, completing Justin’s thought.
Justin nodded. “It’s a little messy.”
“A little? No one’s been up there for months. Come on, I’ll help you,” John said. “We’re going to need the cold weather bedding,” he muttered to himself. “Patrick!” John shouted before leaving the sun porch.
“Yes, Dad?” Patrick asked as he stuck his head out of his side of the conjoined cottages.
“The Cabots are going to spend the night up in the treehouse.”
“You’re kidding,” Patrick stated with one arched fiery red eyebrow. Justin broke out into giggles. The Kinney men ignored Justin.
“I am not.”
“You want me to get the air mattress and the heavy duty camping gear,” Patrick anticipated the request.
“Please,” John replied. “At least someone around here has some sense,” he grumbled as he and Justin went out the sun porch door.
“Hey,” a sleepy Gus rolled over to draw Ray in closer.
“Morning,” Ray mumbled into Gus’ shoulder. He inhaled Gus’ scent and snuggled closer. “Mmm, you smell good.”
“Yup. Like I said, you smell good.”
“You’re a freak,” Gus teased.
“No denials here.”
The boys were contemplating an afternoon of sex when stomachs loudly grumbled.
“Yours?” they both asked at the same time. “Ours!” they both announced.
“Besides, we shouldn’t scare the breeders. You’re loud,” Gus teased.
“Me?! I beg to differ. I’m sure they can hear you in the next county,” Ray countered.
The challenge was on, the boys began making fake grunting noises and laughing themselves silly.
“Hey!” came a loud shout followed by a fist pounding on their bedroom door. “Straight people wandering about,” Brian warned.
“Gay boys in here,” the boys shouted back.
“Let’s get cleaned up and find food. I’m hungry,” Ray suggested. Gus agreed. Their stomachs took precedence. Soon the boys made themselves presentable and were in the kitchen making themselves breakfast…brunch.
“About time you two decided to take a breather,” Brian snarked as he came into the kitchen looking for fresh coffee.
“You should talk, old man,” Gus said poking the tiger. “I get that from you.”
“Yeah, thank you, by the way,” Ray said to Brian with a big smile.
“You’re very welcome,” Brian said with a knowing grin. “What are your plans, besides the obvious?” Brian asked.
“Do you mind if we stay here for a while, Pop? We’re both tired from our trip.”
“Stay as long as you like. I know one little girl who would be very happy to have her favorite big brother and his partner stay for an extended visit. You can even move into the B&B once the Cabots leave if you need a little more privacy. You know, for all that manly grunting,” Brian teased. The boys snickered as Brian left the kitchen with his mug of coffee.
“Do you mind if we stay?” Gus asked Ray.
“Not at all,” Ray assured his partner. They had a very fast paced business trip and really needed some down time. “I’ll call my dads to let them know. They’ll check on our apartment.”
“Speaking about our apartment. We’ve been in that little place for years now. I think we can afford a larger place,” Gus commented as he scrambled up a large batch of eggs in a pan while Ray began the toast.
“Or maybe move to the loft,” Ray suggested nonchalantly.
“You’re kidding,” Gus said as he nearly dropped his whisk.
“No, I’m not. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. One of the reasons we stay in New York is because I wanted to be close to my family. And at the time, I was still in law school. I’ve been out of school for years and we’re no longer tied to Kinnetik N’rgy. I’m not ready to give up our little apartment and we don’t have to. We can keep it as our New York base and use the loft as our Pittsburgh home,” Ray said. He looked up into Gus’ eyes to judge his reaction.
Gus turned the heat off under the eggs then went to Ray. “Thank you,” said Gus as he wrapped his long arms around Ray. “I love you,” said Gus giving Ray a toe curling kiss.
“Love you too,” Ray replied with a sweet smile.
The boys languished in the moment for a few more minutes until their stomachs spoke up again. They laughed then served up their brunch.
“You think your dad is ready to be our landlord,” Ray asked in between bites.
“I think the more important question is, are you ready for Brian Kinney to be your father-in-law?”
“I didn’t have to worry about that living three hundred some miles away,” Ray replied. “Do you think he’ll act differently?”
“No, but you never know with him. He’s still full of surprises.”
“Who’s full of surprises, Sonny Boy?” the man himself asked as he sauntered back into the kitchen.
“We were wondering what kind of father-in-law and landlord you’re going to be,” Ray said without skipping a beat.
“You guys thinking of moving out here?” Brian asked trying to keep his emotions in check.
“The loft,” Gus said. “We’re ready, Dad, if your offer still stands.”
“Whenever you’re ready, I’ll even personally evict the professor. I hear he’s a very boring tenant. But I gotta warn you, some of your neighbors may be a little nosy, and then there’s the occasional kettle drum. Oh, and lesbians,” Brian said with an exaggerated shudder. “There are lesbians in the building,” he whispered. Brian gave Ray and Gus a hug and peck to their temples before pulling out his phone from his pocket.
“Schmidt! Kick the professor out of the loft. Gus and Ray are moving in,” the boys heard.
“Knock knock,” Brian said as he knocked on the door of the log cabin. He slowly opened it with his eyes closed. “Anybody home?” he called out.
“Why are your eyes closed?” Debbie screeched.
“I was afraid of interrupting something that I really didn’t want to see,” Brian replied with puppy dog eyes as he stood in the doorway.
“Then you should have waited until someone answered the door,” Michael complained.
“Please come in, Brian,” Ben invited his friend into the cabin. He rolled his eyes at the absurdity of the situation. “What can we do for you?”
“I have to ask you something, but I don’t want you to feel compelled to give me an answer right away,” Brian began.
“Since when does Brian Kinney beat around the bush,” Debbie asked with a stern expression.
“Brian Kinney doesn’t do bush,” Michael commented with a smirk on his face. Ben shook his head.
“Michael!” Debbie shrieked.
“Brian, you can ask me anything,” Ben said.
“Have you and Mikey made any decisions about when you’re moving back home?”
“Are you kicking Ben out?” Michael asked in anger.
“Michael, why don’t you and Debbie go into the kitchen while Brian and I talk,” Ben strongly suggested.
Grumbling all the way, mother and son took the hint and went into the kitchen while Ben and Brian went to the living room.
“Ben, I meant what I said. You can stay at the loft for as long as it takes, but Gus and Ray expressed their desire to move into the loft. They want to make it their home base,” Brian said with obvious pride.
Ben took Brian’s hands. “That’s wonderful news. You must be very happy. I know you’ve held onto the loft for him. And it’s only right that the next Kinney generation live there.”
“I don’t want to rush you, especially if you and Michael aren’t ready to take that next step.”
“Actually, we’ve been discussing just that,” Ben said with a pleased smile.
“And we’ve decided that we’d spend this Christmas in our home together,” Ben said. He felt his face become hot as he blushed.
“That’s great news,” Brian sincerely stated.
“You think we’re ready?”
“Do you think you’re ready?”
“Yes, I am. We both are. I love him, Brian. I’m still in love with him. I know there are things about him I will never be able to change, but maybe I shouldn’t because it wouldn’t the Michael I fell in love with. And I know I need to be a little more flexible. Sometimes being a stuffy professor clashes with my emotional partner.”
Brian nodded with understanding. Michael was more like his mother than anyone cared to admit. “You have my full support. Both of you do,” Brian said as he extended his hand. Ben took it then pulled Brian into a hug.
Brian clapped Ben on the back, said goodbye to Deb and Michael then walked out. He was about to head for his cottage but then did an about face toward Emmett’s cottage. This time Brian knocked and actually waited for someone to answer the door.
“Hiya, honey,” greeted Emmett when he opened the door. “Come on in. Is everything all right?”
“We’re good. Do you have one of those picnic baskets that hold wine and dishes and things?”
“Ooooo, planning a romantic night with a certain blond?” Emmett gushed.
“Not exactly,” Brian said then explained about the Cabots and their overnight in the treehouse.
“Very romantic and very cold. But I think I have just what you need. I’ll whip up some snacks. Can you supply the wine?”
“No problem. And we have plenty of cheese and fruit,” Brian said.
“Very nice. I’ll be up in a little while,” Emmett promised.
Brian headed back home very pleased with himself.
John and Justin were dirty, sweaty, and very tired after their labors in the treehouse. However, they were satisfied that it was now suitable for overnight guests. Even if it was almost December. When they got back to the sun porch they found Emmett, Bobby, and Brian with their heads together and hunched over something that was on the table.
“Hey, what’s going on,” Justin asked.
The boys at the table stepped aside so that John and Justin could see.
“Wow, that looks really nice,” John exclaimed. He didn’t want to get too close since he was covered in grime. Neither did Justin.
“We thought we could help the love birds get into the mood,” Emmett gushed.
“Has the treehouse ever witnessed heterosexual sex?” Brian pondered.
“Do you really want an answer to that?” Bobby asked. Brian vehemently shook his head no. “Didn’t think so. Emmett donated the basket with plates, utensils, and some lovely appetizers. Brian contributed a nice bottle of wine, the crystal glasses, and the fruit and cheese.We had the fixings for tea sandwiches. Everything one needs for a romantic night.”
“Provided the couple in question are still talking to each other,” Justin threw in. The boys nodded in agreement.
“Well, if the Cabots bow out, we can send Gus and Ray up there,” Brian began. “They’re staying for a while then they plan to make Pittsburgh their home,” Brian said with an ear to ear grin. He gave the boys a minute to let his news sink in. The guys cheered.
“What about Ben?” Emmett asked.
“Our temporary tenant is going back home to his hubby!” Brian crowed.
“This calls for a celebration,” John began, “but after I take a shower.”
“Me too,” Justin said.
The boys went their separate ways but planned on returning within the hour to celebrate with the rest of the family.
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