About: Kevin, Scotty and a bit of Chad and Chris, the pilot
Disclaimer: Written with love, not for money
Summary: Well, if I'd tell you, you wouldn't have to read it.... ;)
Still 3 days to Christmas
“Okay, let me see if I get this. If either this Scotty or Kevin calls and ask that I should fly them back to Ontario, I’m supposed to say that I can’t?” Chris wants to know. He’s the pilot of the little plane that brought Kevin, and later on Scotty, closer to the cabin.
“That’s right.” Chad answers.
“What am I supposed to say? I said that I’d pick them up if they needed me to.”
“I don’t know: The plane has frostbite, got abducted by aliens or just fell apart in 2 equal pieces, but whatever excuse you have to come up with, keep them there.”
“Are you sure that’s alright?” Chris still seems unsure.
“Yes, buddy, I’ve spoken to Kevin’s mom. She will take care of their kids. Kevin’s uncle will keep an eye on Scotty’s restaurant. Everything is settled and taken care of. Those guys need some time together…. Come on. As a favor to me. … Please?” Chad pouts on the phone, even if Chris can’t see that.
“Alright.” Chris sighs. “If they call me, I’ll tell them that something is frozen and I can’t get another repair-piece until after Christmas.”
“Good. You know I love you right?” Chad grins.
“Yes. When you were 17 years old.” Chris smiles back.
“No, still do. But then you decided that you wanted to be straight.”
“I am straight.” Chris grins.
“Yeah right.” Chad replies.
“… One drunk kiss don’t make me gay. Or bi. Or whatever.” Chris reminds Chad.
“Oh, of course, that’s right…. You only remember the kiss…”
“It there was more, I don’t remember.” Chris lies. He remembers everything. From their first kiss till how it ended naked on the backseat of his father’s car. But, afterwards, it had just felt wrong and they had both chucked it on being drunk and left it at that.
Chad and he never did it again and Chris is happily married to a lovely woman, has four kids and no interest in guys whatsoever. And Chad… is Chad. And he still cares about his old friend and if Chad needs him, he’ll help Chad. And if Chad wants him to keep this Kevin and Scotty in his uncle’s cabin then Chris won’t ask too many questions.
Scotty puts dinner on the table. A simple meal, because he hadn’t wanted to spend much time in the kitchen. Plus, after the long walk and the serious talk he had felt worn out and tired. Kevin pours the wine in the lemonade-glasses, for lack of decent wine-glasses, and lift his glass.
“To you, my Scotty. I love you.” He says. Scotty smiles.
“To both of us. I think we had forgotten that we’re a couple. And perhaps we try to protect each other a little too much…” He lifts his glass as well and for a moment everything is peaceful and quiet, except for the radio that still plays old music.
“Is it too soon to talk about Café 429?” Scotty asks shyly, not wanting to put his own problems on the forefront, when he feels that Kevin needs affection and tenderness. Kevin shakes his head.
“Of course not, if there’s something on your mind…?”
“I had a long talk with Mr Hatch…”
“That guy who does our accounting?”
“Right. That one.”
“Something the matter?” Kevin asks.
“According to him, Café 429 isn’t making enough money.”
“How can that be? The restaurant is full almost every night, we’re not overstaffed and you are very good at balancing the stock. We have very little waste of food.” Kevin isn’t sure that he understands.
Café 429 has been the biggest source of income these last few years and Kevin is unaware that they have financial problems. Not that it's really a problem. He still feels that he could get back to working for a big law-firm and make good money, rather than work for himself, if necessary.
“Mr Hatch is very pleased with your law-firm. He says that you make a good profit. The numbers are good…. So it might seem that, perhaps a year from now, you’ll do better than me.” Scotty says. Kevin frowns, not sure that he understands what Scotty is getting at.
“Are you… jealous…? Or something?” He asks carefully. Scotty doesn’t answer straightaway, but instead seems to weigh his answer.
“I’m not sure. Not sure if it’s jealousy, perhaps a bit of… I don’t know… I’ve been the main provider for the last few years… and … now you’re starting to do better than me…”
“Yeah, I know that feeling. I’ve always had a good income, until I quit and started working for Robert… I felt weird about making so much less money and then you started up Café 429 and I was without a job and I felt like I left everything to you… And … I’ve left you to turn into me….
Remember how you once said that I couldn’t handle not being the main provider? That I was only comfortable in our relationship if I was the main source of income? That I was being competitive with you?” Kevin teases gently. Scotty makes a face, but then smiles lovingly at the memory.
“You wanted to prove to me that you could continue to care for me, because .. if you couldn’t.. why would I even love you….” Scotty remembers. Kevin nods and grabs Scotty’s hand. Scotty lets Kevin’s words sink in. Is he jealous? Or just worried that he can’t provide for his family?
“I don’t think I’m really scared. I know… we both know… that if push really came to shove you could always go back to working for a big law-firm and earn tons of money. You wouldn’t be happy, but you could still do it, if you needed to provide for me and the kids. So, I don’t think that I have financial worries.
It's just that I used to love working at Café 429 so much. And I was rather proud that I went from living in my car to owning my own place. And I ... I think I'm afraid that if I would lose it all... I don't what I'd do. I don't know from where I'd have to get the energy to start all over again.”
He gets up and takes some papers from his bag.
“These are sheets Mr Hatch gave me. I’m not that good with all the numbers, it’s why I hired him. He’s after all our bookkeeper. But, I don’t understand why he said what he said.”
Kevin browses through the paperwork. With the eye of a lawyer, yes, but also with the knowledge of someone who’s been through a lot of financial papers.
“What was it that he said exactly?” Kevin eventually asks, not sure that he understands what’s going on.
“That I should take a step back on the expensive products and I shouldn’t pay my staff as much as I do now… Maybe even fire one or two.” Scotty replies.
“And you think he said that because Café 429 isn't doing too well?”
“Why else would he suggest that?”
Kevin manages to hide a little smile. He'd never want Scotty to think that he's laughing at him.
“Scotty, sweetie, I don’t think that it’s because you don’t make enough money. Or that the restaurant is in financial problems.
He's our bookkeeper. The man handles our accounts. All he sees are the numbers and all he thinks of, is the bottom-line and how that bottom-line should show an ever increasing amount. Because in most businesses success in measured in higher and higher profit.
I think that what he meant to suggest is: cut back on the quality of your products, make people pay the same, or more, for inferior quality and make your profits bigger. You could also consider cutting back on the staff. That will also give you more profit as well, meaning that in the end you’ll make more money.
But that’s not who you are and that’s not what Café 429 is all about. I know you’d never want to do those things, because cost-effective as those decisions would be, that is not what Café 429 needs. Making a huge profit was never the most important thing for you. Or to Uncle Saul.
You wanted to create a warm and cozy place, where everyone who comes to your restaurant gets quality food on his or her table and know that it’s prepared by people who know their job and that the food will be served by a staff that cares that people get all the attention they need.”
“So, I really don’t have to be more competitive, more edgy, more…. anything else??”
“No. You’re doing just fine. There’s enough profit, no reason to lay off staff and you can continue to use the excellent food you’ve always used.” Kevin answers and Scotty heaves a deep sigh. “You just won’t make as a big a profit as you could make.”
“I thought I wasn’t doing good. I’ve been so worried. I like my place just the way it is, but hearing that I needed to make changes stifled me. I desperately tried to get my feel-good moment back, but I couldn’t do it. I had these nightmares about having to close down Café 429, because I wasn’t good enough.”
The relief on Scotty’s face was so big that Kevin is surprised.
“But, why didn’t you ask Mr Hatch? Or even Uncle Saul? He’d know this too.”
“I didn’t dare to let anyone know that I was apparently failing?” Scotty answers a bit shy.
“Oh, honey. You’re not failing. You’re doing a great job. And you thought that….”
“I couldn’t think of anything else, except losing the restaurant.” Scotty sighs. Now that Kevin has explained the true meaning of Mr Hatch’s words, he feels like such an idiot for not having asked more questions.
And even more foolish for having been so afraid and for neglecting everything and everyone, for a non-existing problem.
“I’m sorry.” Scotty says softly.
“Don’t be. I think you were right… we were trying too hard to protect each other. We should just be honest with each other, even if it means admitting to failure. Or, in your case, a perceived failure.”
Kevin reaches out to Scotty and their fingers entwine. The silence that is between them, seems to say more than a thousand words could. They look at each other, love in their eyes, tenderness in their touch, an understanding for each other’s position is finally reached. And for the first time in a long time, they feel united again.
END OF CHAPTER SEVEN