Picnic in the parkBy Marea67
Written with love, not for money.Summary
: When both Kevin and Kitty are stuck in meetings, Scotty and Robert are both left alone for lunch....
“I’m sorry, Scotty, Kevin is still in that meeting. I think he said that it would take at least another 3 hours…” Robert seems to be genuinely sorry, so all Scotty can do is shrug.
“Well, I had to try right? He never said he’d be back in time for lunch. I just hoped…” Scotty stops. He can see no point in explaining too much to Robert.
At that moment the phone rings and Scotty makes a hand-motion that he will leave, but Robert signals him to stay while he picks up the phone.
“Hi, Kitty… Oh, that’s too bad… No. I understand… It’s fine…. No. Fine.” Robert answers. Scotty can’t help but be curious, but he’s too polite to show it.
“It seems like we both of us have our lunch-plans cancelled. That was Kitty. She’s too busy and her meeting took longer as well.” Robert frowns, while he checks his messages. “Ah, here it is. No, Kevin is still stuck. Expects the meeting to take at least another hour, and then he’ll have get to here… Nah, he won’t be back for a while.”
“Okay, thanks for checking…” Scotty answers with a quick nod. “Guess, I’ll have lunch by myself then.” He turns around, ready to leave Robert’s office, when Robert suddenly suggests:
“Why don’t we have lunch together?”
“Lunch? Us?” Scotty has a quick déjà-vu of when Kevin had suggested the same and they had fought over a cheque.
“I know, it’s perhaps not the most obvious, but… you’re married to Kevin, I’m married to Kitty. I can’t see why we can’t have lunch together. We’re practically family.”
Scotty’s manages to keep a straight face. He had never, ever
, considered Robert ‘family’ before. He has no issues with Robert, but they’re not exactly best buddies either.
“I have no reservations anywhere, but I’m sure that we can find a good place to eat…” Robert starts.
“Thanks, but.. I just had plans for a quick picnic in the park.” Scotty deflects. He can see that his answer surprises Robert and, though he doesn’t have to, he explains: “I’ll be working until very late tonight. I just want to catch some fresh air and a few rays of sunshine, before getting locked up in a kitchen again.”
Scotty’s words make Robert look out his window. He can see Scotty’s point. The weather is good, the park in not so far away. A short walk and some fresh air would do him good as well.
“Mind if I join you?” He asks.
Scotty answers a fraction of a second slower than he should in all politeness.
“No, of course not.”
“Anything we can buy there? Hot-dogs or something?” Robert now asks, searching for his wallet. Scotty looks slightly insulted.
“I bring my own food. Healthier than hot-dogs. You can have Kevin’s sandwich.” Robert opens his mouth to protest, but the look on Scotty’s face makes it clear that he won’t take 'no' for an answer. Robert isn’t easily told to do anything, but there’s something about Scotty that makes Robert understand how Scotty could easily run a kitchen.
They find a place to sit, on a bench, in a sunny spot.
“I had forgotten how nice it us to actually have some fresh air.” Robert says, taking off his jacket and unbuttoning the first 3 buttons on his shirt. Scotty tries not to look. Robert is attractive enough.
Not that Scotty is interested in Robert, but he doesn’t want to give Robert any chance to perpetuate any preconceptions about gay men either.
“Chicken?” He hands Robert a sandwich.
“Thanks.” Robert carefully unwraps it while Scotty takes his own sandwich out of the bag.
“Fruit-juice. The real thing. No chemicals added.” Scotty now gives Robert a bottle, which gets a suspicious look. “Don’t worry, if I’d really wanted to poison you, I would have done it sooner…” Scotty jokes.
“One can never be careful enough with Democrats.” Robert answers.
“… Not that poison would work on Republicans, they’re already filled with venom.” Scotty continues without missing a beat. They give each other a side-glance, but then both grin. Robert takes a bite and follows it up with an appreciative humming.
“This is amazing.” He says.
“It’s Kevin’s favorite.”
“What do you put on it?”
“Chef’s secret. If I’d tell ya, I’d have to kill ya.” Scotty answers dryly and Robert considers the options. Eventually he decides that he would prefer to finish his sandwich without dying.
For a moment they continue eating in silence, until Robert puts down his sandwich.
“Can I ask a question?”
“Yes, sure.” Scotty shrugs.
“I heard that you had met the Walkers before I did. How was your first meeting with them?”
“You never heard about it?”
“I want to hear your
version. We both know that the Walkers gossip very well, but don’t always have their facts straight.” Scotty nods at Robert’s words.
“Well, here’s what happened… From my
point of view…” Scotty starts and he tells about meeting Sarah at Kevin’s office, about the raging argument between Sarah and Tommy, with Kevin stuck in the middle and about how he got invited. Robert takes it all in as if it’s the first time he has heard this story.
So, Scotty continues to tell him about the day itself. The red velvet cupcakes, learning about William’s infidelity, Tommy jumping into the pool, all dressed, to help Paige with getting over William’s death and how the siblings started freaking out when Holly showed up. Amused with Scotty’s story, Robert shakes his head, laughter on his face.
Scotty tells him how everyone had been assuming that Nora didn’t know that Holly was William’s mistress and how they desperately tried to keep that secret. Robert hiccups with laughter, he had heard that part from Kitty as well, but her version hadn’t been half as entertaining as Scotty’s, who had been quite the attentive ‘witness at the pool-party’.
And, of course, Scotty can’t leave out how Nora had retaliated by informing everyone at the dinner table that she knew all about Holly and how Holly had ran off….
“.. But the mango-peach salsa was to die
for….” Scotty finishes and Robert wipes away his tears of laughter.
“That family will never cease to surprise me. What must you have thought?”
“That this family was completely insane
and that I had to think twice about getting involved. No matter how cute Kevin was, … his family was weird
!” Scotty laughs as well. “How did your introduction into the family go?”
Robert wipes away one last tear while he thinks over Scotty’s question.
“Actually, I think it was just as disastrous as yours…” He closes his eyes, trying to get all the memories back of that eventful day. “Ah, yes, it was Nora’s 60th birthday and Kitty desperately needed a caterer and I offered her my help. Kitty invited me in return…”
And then Robert tells Scotty about meeting Nora, and Ida… Scotty smirks, meeting Ida had been quite an event in his
life as well. Robert tells him about the medieval decorations and getting into his first political discussion with Nora. He remembers his conflict with Kevin over same-sex marriage. Scotty’s smile becomes even bigger.
Then Robert tells about Sarah and Joe’s sex-tape and Scotty’s laughter roars. Robert recounts how Sarah made the decision to join the party, after having been home sick, and Kitty had dragged Robert in to the closet, where the wine been stashed to protect Justin. Now it’s Scotty turn to laugh out loud. He can so imagine Robert’s confusion.
Robert continues to tell about how everything had proceeded to explode in the kitchen with Ida finding out about Justin being in rehab, about Kevin being gay, outing Jason in the process, and Sarah finding out about the sex-tape. And how Robert had felt that this
was the moment to make an exit… and run
“I can imagine.” Scotty laughs. “They are crazy, aren’t they?”
“They sure are….”
“Yet, I wouldn’t want them to be anything other than their lovable, loyal, even if sometimes hysterical selves.”
“Me neither.” Robert agrees, after some consideration. “I can’t imagine my life without them anymore. I love my own family, they are crazy in their own way, but there’s something about the Walkers… It’s addictive to be around them.”
“Well, at least we agree on that.” Scotty laughs.
“I’m glad that you and Julia are at least sane enough not to get swooped up by them.”
“I think that Kitty, Tommy and Kevin chose us, because we’re the countermeasure to the insanity.”
“It’s hard sometimes though, not to go along with it.” Robert sighs.
“Yes, sometimes I think life would be easier if I was went just as insane as they are, but … I can’t. The family isn’t always good to
Kevin. I need to stay focused on Kevin.”
Robert doesn’t answer immediately. He thinks over Scotty’s words. At first he feels that he should point out that Kevin can take of himself, but he can slowly see Scotty’s point.
“Kevin often is dragged into the problems with Ojai or with the family, isn’t he?”
“He would never abandon them, or you, or Julia, and he’s still good with Joe too, but sometimes… he just needs someone to give a whistle and tell him ‘down, boy, their problem is not your problem’.”
“Yes, I know that feeling. Kitty often takes on things that she can’t fix either.”
“So does Kevin.” Scotty nods. They sit quietly beside each other, both reflecting on the partners they love so much.
“You’re doing a good job.” Robert suddenly says to Scotty, surprising Scotty.
“With what?” He asks.
“Everything. Keeping Kevin grounded, your work, your life in general, I think. I don’t know you all that well, we’re not exactly best pals, but… every time I see you, I have the feeling that you have your life well-organized. Not perfect, just … organized.”
“Thank you… I think.” Scotty isn’t sure what to say after Robert’s words. He’s not a good liar and he feels he can’t return the compliment. But Robert doesn’t seem to mind that no compliment is returned. Instead he finishes the sandwich that had been meant for Kevin and, rather uncharacteristically, licks his fingers clean.
Though it’s not the first time that Scotty sees a man do that, it does take him by surprise that Robert does it though and quietly he wonders if perhaps he hadn’t held Robert to some higher standard than Robert really needed to be. He’s not as unapproachable and distant as Scotty had always imagined him to be.
“Scotty? Have you ever thought about starting your own restaurant or something?”
“Thought about it, yes. Distant dream, for the time being though.” Scotty shrugs.
“If ever you do plan to start something, call me. I would really like to support you with that. I think you might have a good future if you’d own your own place.”
Scotty doesn’t know what to answer at first.
“Thank you. I think.” He answers hesitantly, clearly unable to hide his surprise and confusion. Robert smiles at him. It’s a genuine smile. He’s not toying with Scotty, Scotty can see that.
It gives him a strange and good feeling to hear that Robert would have enough faith in him to want to help him. Slowly Scotty answers Robert’s smile and then he teases:
“I’m still not going to vote for you though.” Robert laughs out loud.
“I didn’t think you would.” Robert replies.
“Thanks though. I might keep you up to that.”
“Please, do.” Robert nods. He takes a sip from his orange juice. Real juice indeed. The sourness makes him cringe and he can see a little smile on Scotty’s lips. And suddenly Robert envies Kevin somewhat.
He knows, through Jason, that Kevin isn’t a bad cook. He had eaten at Sarah, Tommy and Justin’s places and they all had managed to put quite some good meals on the table. Not as outstanding as Nora's food, but still… Then how come he managed to pick the one Walker who couldn’t tell the difference between a pressure cooker and a frying pan?
He loves Kitty, he really does, but sometimes he just wishes she was half as good at cooking as she was at debating political issues. And yet, Kevin, with all his faults and insecuries had managed to get a guy who was handsome, funny, intelligent, caring and an amazing cook.
He watches how Scotty takes his last bite and crumples up the bag. He opens up a plastic bag he had brought with him and signals Robert to throw in whatever waste had remained…. So, he’s environmentally aware as well.
“I have to go. I have be in the restaurant in half an hour. It’s a short walk from here.”
“You’re not going by car?”
“No, Kevin will pick me up later, after work… It’s been nice having lunch with you though.”
“Same here. It was good to get from fresh air and some fresh perspective on things.”
Scotty wonders for a micro-second what the ‘things’ could be, but decides to let it go.
“I’m sure.” He replies. And he gets up to throw away the contents of the waste-bag. “I have to go.” Robert gets up and suddenly there’s an strange uncomfortable moment. They haven’t exactly become friends, but something has changed between at the same time.
“Thank you for the food. The sandwich was delicious.” Robert eventually says. He sticks out his hand. Scotty accepts and the handshake is a strong one. Robert holds Scotty’s hand maybe longer than he should. “And I meant what I said. If you plan to start something of your own, let me know. I want to help.”
“I will.” Scotty promises. A nod of respect passes between the two men, before Robert finally turns around to return to his office and Scotty heads off in a different direction towards the restaurant. He turns around one last time, to see that Robert just does the same.
“Still not voting for you.” Scotty jokes. And Robert lifts up his hand and waves. Robert turns around again and walks away with a big smile on his face. The delicious food has certainly been good for his mood and he had enjoyed himself in a very casual way. Perhaps he should have lunch with Scotty more often.