Rate: for now G, if it changes I'll let you know ;)
Disclaimer: Written with love not for money
Summary: Guy meets guy and, well, you know how it goes....
Just remember: This is an AU, so the usual applies; Things can/will be different. Don't like it? Don't read it.
"My mom would love this." Kevin holds up a large coffee-cup. Scotty looks at the price-tag. At least he can afford it. He doesn't have that much money, but he wants to buy a nice gift for Nora and William.
"She would?" Scotty asks.
"Oh, yeah, we can never have enough coffee and teacups in our house. We use them for soup, hot milk and hot chocolate too. And our family is rather big... Don't forget you haven't met my 2 sisters yet. They'll only join us tomorrow."
Ah, yes, Scotty will get to meet even more people. Apparently Kevin also has two sisters.
Kitty, married to Senator Robert McCallister, and Sarah, divorced, but bringing her two children.
"Should I buy something for the kids as well?" Scotty asks, but Kevin shakes his head.
"Nah. I'll buy something and say it's from the both of us."
"Are you sure? I don't mind..."
"But I do. I'm not going to let you waste good money on them. They're always ungrateful anyway. Ever since the divorce Sarah's been compensating with gifts. They only need to ask and, wham-bam, mommy will buy it."
"That's not healthy."
"No. Which is why I don't want you to spend money on them. My mom and dad will be grateful, Sarah's kids won't be."
"Alright, it's your family." Scotty concedes and Kevin relaxes somewhat.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to sound so harsh. The kids used to be sweethearts and their parents' divorce has affected them quite a lot. And my last experience is based on the last time I saw them, which was with Gregory, who just didn't like children that much. And the kids didn't like him either."
Kevin shrugs. And once again, Scotty wonders why Kevin ever married that man, if he seems to be so against everything that Kevin cares about.
"I should never have married him." Kevin says softly, more to himself than to Scotty. Though the question 'why did you?' is on Scotty's lips, he keeps his mouth shut.
But when his eyes meet Kevin they both realize that the question hangs between them. "I was at odds with my family. I thought it was time to react against my family, to be on my own, take my own responsibility.
And he was there for me. I thought it was his love for me that made him want to protect me. I was young, in love, ready to rebel against the world. We were so in love at first, well I was anyway. And then slowly something crept into our relationship, I think.
It was just these little things: about my family, about how I looked, about how I acted, the way I talk, the way I laugh. It was all very minor things, each small disapproval in itself was insignificant and something I wanted to change about myself.
I wanted to be better, improve myself and so on, but, looking back, and seeing the whole picture, he slowly turned me into who he wanted me to be and that he could not accept me for who I was. And ultimately, he also did not accept me for who I had become, because of him."
"That's sad." Scotty says, not knowing what else to say. Kevin nods that he heard Scotty's words. He stares into the distance. He blinks a few times and Scotty understands that he tries to hide his tears. Scotty discretely looks away.
He can hear Kevin swallow hard and then Kevin suddenly cheerfully announce.
"Know what? No use crying over spilled milk. Let's get something warm to drink! And I know just the place!"
"Stay at this table." Tyler orders Julia, when she sees Kevin and Scotty enter the café. "I'm going to greet those two and see if they want to sit with us, while we wait for Justin and Tommy..." She gets up to meet up with Kevin and Scotty, who just took their coats off, because it's hot in the place.
"Kevin! Scotty!" She yells and she enthusiastically runs up to them. But just as she's near them, her foot seems to catch behind a bag that's on the floor and she falls towards Kevin, her arms stretched out in front of her. She manages to stop herself from falling, but in the process, she shoves Kevin away, straight into Scotty's arms.
She gets a distinct impression that Scotty doesn't really want to let go of Kevin, but then he does anyway. As Kevin shyly apologizes to Scotty and Scotty waves it away, Tyler quickly hides her grin.
"Sorry about that boys. I nearly broke my neck there. Are you alright, Kev? Scotty?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." Kevin straightens his clothes somewhat.
"How fortunate that Scotty reacted so fast and caught you into those strong arms of his." Tyler says and immediately, to direct attention away from what she had said, she continues: "Jules and I are over there. Care to join us?"
She can see Kevin's eyes narrow, as if he suspects something, but she gives him her most innocent smile and takes Scotty's hand to make him and Kevin follow her to the table, where Julia barely manages to hide her laughter. She knows that Tyler used to be a cheerleader and that she has an impeccable balance. That fall was as staged as a fall can be.
"Can I order you two something?" Julia asks.
"Just coffee for me." Kevin answers.
"Coffee for me too." Scotty adds. He sits down, while Julia gets up to get them both some coffee and it feels awkward to Scotty because he's used to being the one who has to get the drinks. Always.
"Did you have a good time this afternoon?" Tyler asks.
"We got some presents for everybody. We decided that they should come from the both of us. I see no reason to let Scotty spend too much money.." Kevin answers.
"You're right." Tyler nods.
"It's not that I would have mind... everybody is so nice to me..." Scotty doesn't want to appear ungrateful or miserly.
"Kevin is right though. You went with Kevin to help him. No one can expect you to fork over too much money for just a one-time thing."
"You don't think that the family would mind?" Scotty is still not sure about the rightness of Kevin's decision.
"Of course not. They aren't greedy and neither am I. It's not about how expensive the gift is, it's about being together as a family and enjoying the good times we have." Julia says as she puts the coffee on the table.
"That's so great about Nora and William. No crazy expectations." Scotty smiles at her words, happy to know that he will not be making a fool of himself.
"Oh, there are the boys!" Tyler waves at Tommy and Justin, who are just looking for the girls.
They wave back that they've seen her and a few seconds later they pull up some chairs to join them at the table.
"So, are we ready?" Tommy asks.
"Yes. Just have to get out skates from the shed." Julia says eagerly.
"Ready for what?" Scotty asks, looking from one to the other.
"We're going skating." Justin answers.
"Already?" Kevin asks. "You didn't say anything to me." He pouts.
"We didn't know that you wanted to go with us. You usually don't like to skate. And we want to go before Paige and Cooper can ruin the fun." Justin answers.
"I want to go as well. And so does Scotty." Kevin replies quickly and the others understand that it's not so much Kevin who wants to go, but that he wants to take Scotty there.
"Well, come with us then. No problem."
"I don't have skates..." Scotty reminds Kevin.
"Don't worry. My parents have a gazillion pairs in their shed. Each year we got new ones, but we kept the old ones 'just in case'.
Add to that the skates that friends left at our place, skates from relatives who forgot them at our place. There's bound to be a pair of skates for you in there somewhere." Tommy waves Scotty's objection away. "But we're going to have to leave now, if we still want to be there on time and get something done before nightfall and dinner." Tommy points out.
Scotty feels a bit wobbly on his feet. It's been a while since he had been on skates, but after a few hesitant steps, he carefully lets his feet do the sliding. At first a bit shaky, but then with more confidence he moves on the ice. It's exactly like he remembered it to be. He picks up speed. The wind is cold and tugs at his hair and his face. He carefully tries to turn.
For one second he fears the he will fall, but then he gets his balance back and, after he has turned, he can see the others looking at him.
"Well done!" Tommy compliments, joining him quickly, followed by Justin.
The last one is Kevin, who still feels a bit stiff on the ice. When Scotty sees that Kevin nearly tumbles backwards, he immediately reaches out to him, takes his hands and stops his fall.
"Careful. You don't want to break anything." Scotty smiles.
"Thanks." Kevin grins, almost unaware that they're still holding hands. Tommy opens his mouth, but Julia, who has joined her husband by now, signals him to zip it.
Justin and Tyler share a smile as if they get it as well.
"You're actually good at this." Tommy says to Scotty. "Perhaps you should teach Kevin. He gets two left feet the moment he gets on the ice."
"Oh, I'm sure he's not that bad." Scotty answers.
"You're too polite, sweetie. He's a klutz." Julia's smile is so sweet though, that Kevin can hardly be insulted by her words. "I agree with Tommy, perhaps you can show him a trick or two? You're better at this than he is. Plus, it feeds the gossip-vultures on the ice." She winks.
Scotty looks at Kevin, who seems to be equally surprised by Tommy and Julia's suggestion.
"I'm not that bad. I can do fairly well, as long as I can move in a straight line. Just don't ask me to do sudden turns of move out of the way..."
"I can teach you that." Scotty laughs. "... If you want me to?" He adds, afraid that Kevin might find his words offensive. He knows Kevin is a proud man.
"You think you could? I mean, I know you looked forward to be on the ice? Alone, perhaps, or with more competent people?" He nods at the others.
"Well, if I teach you a few things, then next time, we can have even more fun, right?" Scotty sincerely hopes that there will be a next time, because he's already feeling more alive than he has in weeks, if not months. And he would love to see how well he still skates, but he knows that there's not much time today.
"You're right." Kevin concedes. "Just have to warn you. No one has been able to teach me much when it comes to skating."
"We'll leave you to it then. We'll have little trip around this part of the lake..." Tommy announces.
As he and the others skate away from Kevin and Scotty, Tommy can't help but look over his shoulder to see Kevin slip away, straight into Scotty's arms. And though Scotty breaks his fall again, neither of them seems to mind it too much. He grins. Nora will regret that she hasn't seen this. Then he sees that Tyler is filming them with her phone...
They all push and pull to get inside the lodge, where it's warm and comfortable.
"Please, mom, tell me the food is ready! I'm starving!" Tommy yells at the kitchen.
"I could use something warm to drink first." Julia blows on her fingers to get her blood flowing again.
"Mom! How long until dinner?" Kevin now yells. Nora enters from the kitchen.
"About half an hour. Did you guys have fun?"
"Kevin can actually make a turn on his skates! Without falling and breaking his neck!" Tommy announces.
"What??? That's a miracle! Have you already been visited by some Christmas-spirit?"
Everyone laughs at William's joke, even Kevin.
"No, Scotty ... It took him half an hour to get me to do something you guys never could." Kevin rubs it in with Tommy and his father.
"Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that Scotty is strong, tall, gorgeous and cute?" Julia teases. Scotty looks away, a little shy. Kevin however immediately replies:
"No. Aside from the fact that Scotty is all that you just mentioned, he's also patient. Very patient!"
Kevin's answer makes Scotty turn beet-red, especially because now everyone's looking at him with fascination.
"I ... I just taught him what my grand-father taught me." Scotty answers shyly.
"Well, you did the right thing, love." Nora says decidedly. "Hot drinks in the kitchen!"
"Where are Justin and Tyler?" William asks, pouring coffee in a big mug for Nora.
"They had some errant in town and had to go back. They took Kevin's car and we took Kevin and Scotty with me in mine." Tommy explains. "I had expected them back here by now, they left long before we did."
"I'm sure that they made a stop along the way.." Julia answers, with a knowing little smile at Tommy.
"Yeah, maybe that's it." Tommy laughs.
"Eeeeuw! Not in my car!" Kevin reacts and he fakes a huge shiver.
Just when Nora wants to say something, the door of the kitchen slams open and Justin and Tyler enter.
"Oh, my God, you won't believe what we've got! We saw him. Them. Together. They did not see us, but we saw them." Tyler immediately starts to talk.
"We need a bit more information? Who did you see?"
"Greg. With his new skunk. His name is Mark. And he's ... well... not ugly, but he sticks out like a sore thumb somehow...."
"What happened?" Julia wants to know.
"We wanted to get some coffee before coming back, because our hands were so cold. We went in and managed to get a table in the corner and that's when they walked in. They didn't see us, but we saw them. Look I made a picture of them...." Tyler holds up her phone and shows the picture to Julia.
"His name is Mark." Justin repeats the name of Greg's new lover. Nora makes an ugly face at the picture, William doesn't even bother to look at it, before it reaches Kevin and Scotty. Kevin quickly glances at the picture of a young blonde man who is about as tall as Gregory as. But he really doesn't want to see any more, so he gives it to Scotty.
Though Scotty is at first not very interested, one look at the picture changes everything. He gasps.
"Yeah, that's his name." Justin says.
"You don't understand. That's Mark. My Mark. Me ex." Scotty stammers.
"What???" Kevin wants to take the phone back, but Julia beats him to it.
"Did you know that? Is that the reason why you asked me here? To get back at Mark?" Scotty asks of Kevin. Kevin shakes his head.
"I didn't know. I'm sorry you had to find out this way."
"But... It can't be Mark... I thought you said that your ex and his new boyfriend were living together, but Mark and I broke up only early this week?" Scotty shakes his head and Kevin waits a few seconds to let Scotty's brains catch up with his words.
Understandings dawns on Scotty's face.
"He told me... He told me that he needed space to paint... He makes paintings. Beautiful paintings... He said he could stay at a friend's house... I never asked for anything... I trusted him to be honest with me..."
Though Kevin's mind screams 'been there, done that', he keeps his mouth shut, knowing that Scotty is only now realizing the full extent of Mark's cheating. Scotty reaches for the kitchen-chair and he slowly sits down.
"I trusted him." He repeats. "I didn't know that he was with your ex. Honestly. I didn't know."
Scotty's eyes implore Kevin to believe him. Kevin's smile is sad.
"I believe you."
"How could I have been so stupid? I never even asked ... thought... doubted... anything."
"You loved him. You trusted him." Kevin shrugs. It's what he had felt for Gregory.
The family remains remarkably quiet, letting Kevin and Scotty deal with the revelation on their own terms. Scotty shakes his head. He can't believe it. And, yet, he can't deny it. The picture is clearly of Mark. With another man. Scotty assumes that the man must be Gregory.
"This also means I'm completely useless now." Scotty suddenly says.
"What do you mean?"
"You were going to pass me off as your boyfriend... Mark knows exactly who I am..."
"So?" Kevin asks.
"Oh, come on! It's rather unrealistic that you, as one of the most expensive lawyers, as a successful man, with your money and status, would really fall in love with me. I'm just... a cleaner. Gregory would look right through your plan. And so would Mark."
"I disagree." Kevin says. His voice is calm and patient.
"I think..." William slowly starts. "That it will be believable, because Gregory knows Kevin and he knows us and he knows that we would never look down on someone, who works hard for his money. Gregory will look down on you, but not Kevin or one of us and Gregory is well aware of that fact.
And I don't like the fact that you consider yourself 'just a cleaner'. There is no harm in hard and/or physical work. I've started at the bottom. Picking fruit, carrying crates, cleaning up the stables where my boss' horses were. And when he died, I bought his place for a few bucks, because his family didn't want the place.
And I've worked day and night to make it a good farm with beautiful orchards. And when I married Nora, she and her brother got me to start my own company and sell our produce. We're doing well for ourselves now. But that is because I've worked my ass off to get where I am today. As did the other people in my family.
Sure, we made enough money to put our kids in school, but it was never handed to them on a silver platter either. I expected the best from all of them. And I got it. I don't believe that there's such a job as 'just a - whatever'. And I believe that I've raised my kids to have the same values as me."
"That's right, Scotty, Sarah and I are now running my dad's company, but we had to start with picking fruit and getting to know the land and what it offers us. I've been sweaty and dirty and covered in mud more times than I can count and so has Sarah." Tommy adds. "Nothing was given to us for free. And same goes for Kitty and Justin."
"And me. I've worked since I was 16. First for my dad and once I knew I wanted to be a lawyer, I've studied until I had square eyes and I didn't get a high paying job straightaway. I've filled endless stacks of forms, requests and other sorts of paper-work until I could finally move up. I agree with Tommy. Nothing comes for free.
And you're more than 'just a cleaner'. You're Scotty Wandell and you're nice and polite and you have a great sense of humour, you're smart, resilient...." Kevin sums up.
"... And very attractive..." Julia adds.
"... And very sweet and patient..." Tyler nods.
"Yeah, those too." Kevin agrees.
"And you have a knowledge of food and ingredients.... In fact, you'd fit very well in this family. Maybe more so than Gregory ever could." Nora can see that Scotty is touched by her words, though he has no idea why his love for food would matter to her.
"Can I ask you something?" William suddenly wonders. Scotty nods. "If time and money were not holding you back, what would you like to be? What would be your ultimate dream? The most wonderful thing that you could hope to accomplish?"
"I... I think I've given up on hope and ambition and... dreams.." Scotty sighs.
"Come on. Humour me. Close your eyes.... If you could wish for anything, any job in the world, what would it be." William encourages. Scotty closes his eyes.
"Speak from your heart." He can hear Nora's voice, which is filled with kindness and interest for his answer.
"My biggest dream.. What I'd want most of all... would be to own my own restaurant. To have a wonderful and cosy place, where people love to come and eat, and be with their families. Where people can propose to each other, have wedding-parties, share happiness... And maybe also their grief. A place where they feel at home and they feel well taken care of."
Scotty opens his eyes. He had spoken without even thinking and now he shyly looks from one to the other, seeing surprise and sympathy on their faces.
"I know. I know it's a ridiculous dream... I could never make it come true. I'm 31 years old, and I'm way too late with all of this.... I just..." He throws his hands in the air.
"I think I could use some fresh air. Please, forgive me..." He jumps up, storms out of the kitchen, grabs his coat from the coat rack and walks out. For a few seconds the Walkers remain motionless and a little bit flabbergasted at Scotty's sudden running off.
"I'm going after him." Kevin eventually says and he leaves the kitchen as well.
Nora looks at William.
"That boy is in a bad place... Can we help him, you think?"
"Of course." William nods. Though they are curious, they also don't like to meddle in the affairs of others than their own family. However, they both feel that Scotty needs help.
"Maybe..." Nora starts. "Maybe I should give one more try at inviting Saul and Jonathan for Christmas?"
"Now that would be a good idea." William agrees. "I think that Scotty could use someone to whom he can relate a bit better than to the rest of us."
"I'm going to call Saul." Before Nora can look for the phone, Tyler hands it to her.
"Try to convince them. If he won't listen to you, give him to me..." She says.
"Or me." Julia steps forward as well. "I like Scotty and we must help him. Plus I want Gregory to be green with envy...."
END OF CHAPTER SIX