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.
"Scotty, we actually have a favor to ask of you. Nora and I." Saul pushes his dish away and focuses his attention on Scotty.
"How can I help you?" Scotty asks politely, hoping that he actually do something to help this family that has captured his heart.
"I heard from Nora that you would love to, one day, run your own restaurant and that you're working to get enough money together to learn to become a chef?"
"That's right, but that's just a silly dream. I'm already 31 years old, I have no idea how will be able to get that much money together before my 50th!"
Saul laughs, but doesn't answer. He knows that Scotty has no idea who he is, what he owns and how he got there. And for now, he wants Scotty to remain ignorant.
"Does this mean that you like to cook? Or create dishes?" Saul asks.
"I always do try to make food look more ... fun?"
Scotty is careful with his words, because his friends usually don't care about the 'frivolities' with strands of chives, nicely cut out vegetables or carved out fruit.
"Well, that's fantastic! We were wondering... It's tradition that we - that is Nora, Jonathan and I - create the appetizers for the Christmas-dinner tomorrow-evening.
It usually takes us half a day to make them, we'll start tomorrow-afternoon, but we could always use an extra pair of hands? I'd love to see what you can do. I meet so few people who are interested in food the way I am." Saul says. Scotty wonders why it matters that much, but then he realizes that this family has a close relationship with food.
They have their own vegetables, orchards and winery, so food is an essential part of their lives, he figures. And why should he not help them? He loves to work with food, so why he should not use, what little talent he has, to give them a hand? He turns to Kevin.
"Did you have plans for us for tomorrow?" He asks.
"Not necessarily." Kevin shakes his head. "If you want to help my mom and my uncles you'd be more than welcome to do so. You're a free man..."
"I would love to help." Scotty offers.
"Good, then that's settled." Saul nods.
Night seems to fall even earlier than the night before and the sky is heavy with clouds that predict even more snow to fall. There's an excitement amongst the Walkers that Scotty doesn't quite understand, especially the kids keep running to the window and back.
"What's going on?" He asks Tyler, who now takes a look outside as well. "Why does everyone keep running to the windows and peeking out?"
"Because of that." Tyler points to a string of little lights that seems to climb up the path to the house.
"What are those?" Scotty asks, but before Tyler can answer, Cooper yells out.
"They're here! They're here! The sleighs are here!!" He sings and he jumps up and down.
"Calm down." Sarah laughs, ruffling her son's hair. "It's not like you're going on one of them.." She teases. Cooper turns on his heels, ready to argue, but then he sees that his mother is laughing.
"Hah-hah. Very funny." He makes a face at his mother, but then turns back to the window. "They're here! They're really here. I'm going outside!"
"Coat!" Sarah reminds him. Impatiently Cooper yanks the coat of the coat-hanger, but before he can rush out...
"Scarf, hat and gloves!" Nora reminds him. Cooper mumbles something, probably not very kind, into his scarf, but then nothing can stop him from running out and await the sleighs.
"Baby!" Paige rolls her eyes at Cooper's impatience.
But Cooper has heard her and he knows her all too well.
"Horses!" He reminds her. Paige's attitude immediately changes from snappy to interested.
"Oooh, the horses!" She grabs her coat, scarf, hat and gloves and she's out the door as well.
Scotty's still laughing when he feels Kevin's hand on his back.
"You want to come along for a sleigh-ride?" Kevin asks.
"Seriously?" Scotty asks. "A sleight-ride?" He can't believe that he would actually go on one, believing them to be only possible in romantic Christmas-movies.
"Yes. We do it each year. From here up to the old cemetery. There we honour the family-members we've lost. Then we return back home, the long way round. It's quite a nice ride... if you don't think that visiting an old cemetery is morbid or ghoulish." As Kevin adds the last words, Scotty has a pretty good idea who said them.
"I don't know. But I'm willing to find out." he smiles. The family gets dressed to go out into the cold and Scotty loves how the cold night air wakes up his entire body. Nora tells everyone where to sit. Unsurprisingly, to Kevin at least, he and Scotty end up sitting alone in one of the sleighs.
"This family is nothing if not persistent." Kevin mumbles.
"What do you mean?" Scotty asks.
"Nothing." Kevin shakes his head. He's too amused by his mother's tenacious attempts, to get Scotty and him together, to really be upset.
As the sleighs start to move, Scotty is fascinated like a little child. He takes everything in as much as he can. The jagged shadows of the trees, the millions of stars that shine in the night-sky, the cold that hits his face, while the rest of his body is comfortable and warm under the heavy blankets in the sleigh.
Kevin can see how impressed Scotty is.
"You love this, don't you?"
"I've never been on one of these, it's all so amazing. I just love it!" Scotty's eyes shine brightly and Kevin has to silence the urge to kiss him.
Scotty's enthusiasm rubs off on Kevin. Because Greg hadn't like this, Kevin hadn't been on one of the rides for years, because he didn't want Greg to sit alone and sulk all night. Now, with Scotty, he can feel the happiness, that he used to feel, rise again.
"Look! Between those trees! You can sometimes see the entire valley."
Scotty looks at where Kevin points and his face lights up, when he can see, in the distance all the little lights of the town. Something he hadn't really seen that morning when he had been this high up with Tommy. There's talking and laughing in the other sleighs, but there's silent wonder in Kevin and Scotty's.
For Scotty it's the first time, for Kevin it's a rediscovery of something long lost.
"There's the cemetery." Kevin eventually says. Scotty notices that the people in the other sleighs become silent as well. It's quiet up here, the place obviously evokes a certain amount of respect.
The cemetery that emerges from the dark in front of them is indeed small. Scotty quickly counts about 14 headstones. It's not as creepy or ghoulish as he had expected it might be from Kevin's words. The place is too well-maintained to be scary and the way everyone reacts is too positive to feel gloomy.
The sleighs stop and everyone gets out. Kevin turns to Scotty.
"We've made it a tradition, because Christmas is about family, friends, peace and being together, to come here and remember those we've lost and remind them that they're still a part of our lives...You don't have to go, if you don't want to.
It is just something we do. I get that they're not your family, but we're allowed to remember whomever we want to remember." Kevin explains as Nora begins to hand out tea-lights. The silence is heavy, but not sad. Everyone seems to be well aware of the importance of this little moment.
Scotty is deeply touched to see how the Walkers remember their family. He has no idea what happened to his grandfather. He wishes that he would have a place to remember him. But he doesn't even know if there were ashes or a grave-site. It's too long ago. He never thought to ask then, and now, he's no longer in touch with his family anymore, so he can't ask either.
Scotty gets out of the sleigh and he takes Kevin's hand to get his attention.
"Would it be alright if I used this place and time to remember my grandfather?" He asks softly.
"Sure. Whomever you want." Kevin answers.
As Scotty approaches, he can see Nora give a little nod and then an encouraging smile.
"How many lights do you want?"
"Just one." Scotty answers. He can see that Kevin takes three lights. He follows the others to a large stone table. One by one the family members light the lights.
William, Nora, Saul and Jonathan light several, but Robert only two, the children light the ones that Sarah put on the table. Scotty stops counting. It doesn't matter how many there are, just that they are remembered. Then he watches how Kevin lights the three he took, one after other, before handing over the gas lighter to Scotty.
It's strange. Maybe it's because everything is solemn, with honest emotions, but Scotty has never felt his grandfather this close to him, not like tonight. As he lights the light, he becomes acutely aware of the loss of his grandfather, the grief he was never allowed to show, because 'big boys don't cry, so, stop sobbing' and how intensely it still hurts.
The memory of his grandfather, with his shining blue eyes and big smile becomes immense and tangible. He had been the only one to always be happy to see Scotty, always willing to teach him, to play with him. Scotty can only now recognize how much he had loved the man and how much he misses him.
Tears well up. The pain is sharp and intense. It had been buried deep inside him, silenced and frozen by his mother, but now, like a volcano it just erupts. He tries to remain silent, but a little sob escapes him. He covers his mouth with his hand, not wishing to draw attention to himself or intrude on someone else's moment of grief.
But he can't stop the tears and he doesn't have to. Nora is with him in two steps and she puts her arms around him and though she's smaller than him, she somehow makes him feel like he's enveloped in love and care.
"I'm sorry." Scotty whispers, completely overwhelmed.
"That's alright, honey, this is why we do this. To remember. To love. And to cry, if we have to."
"It's been so long ago... It shouldn't affect me like this."
"Oh, hon, my dad died so long ago, and I still cry for him every year." She confesses, gently squeezing his hand.
Kevin is next to him now and Nora leaves the comforting of Scotty to Kevin while she returns back the table. She can see Kitty holding Robert's hand and she knows that Robert always lights candles for his parents. And she sees Julia in Tommy's arms, knowing that the three little lights they put on the table stands for the three miscarriages that Julia has had.
Justin's four lights: The three friends he lost in Iraq, and one who took an overdose and died in Justin's arms. She also knows that one light that Jonathan and Saul light every year stands for the friends they lost due to AIDS during the 80s, when they came here to grieve for them when no one else would.
Just like she knows that the three lights that Kevin lit are for three of his friends, who died in a car-crash when Kevin was 17 years old. Kevin would have been in the car with them, if he hadn't broken his foot that afternoon, trying to help Nora. He had been so angry at her that he couldn't go to the party with his friends....
"I want to thank of all you for lighting the lights tonight with William and me." Nora's voice is calm. "It's always emotional to be here and be reminded of those who should be with us, but no longer are. I'm glad we could take this moment together, as a family. As usual, we'll first have something warm to drink, before returning home. Thank you."
She steps back and proceeds to take plastic mugs from a bag and then reveals that she brought several thermos with tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Kevin and Scotty both chose coffee. As Scotty warms his hands on the mug, a lot calmer already, he feels a hand squeeze his shoulder. It's Robert McCallister.
"Well done. It's not always easy to come here. It's such a peaceful place." Robert answers with a nod to the flickering lights.
"I hadn't realized how hard it would hit me, or how suddenly."
"Grief can do that to you. Thank God, the Walkers have no issues with feelings..."
Kitty calls him and Robert apologizes. Scotty sighs.
"I can't imagine him ever losing it."
"But he did." Tommy joins them. "His first time here. Still had some left over traumas about his mother's death... He's not a total block of ice, you know." Tommy winks.
Tommy and Julia walk up to the stone table and Tommy claps his hands to get everyone's attention. When everyone is looking at him he nervously takes Julia's hand.
"As most of you know, it hasn't been easy for Julia and me. We came here tonight to light a light for the three children we lost due to a miscarriage.
And we both felt we no longer wanted to go through that grief. We would think of another way to expand our family. And so we informed ourselves on the possibilities at our disposal. Then, a little while ago, something happened. Something we didn't expect would happen and something we kept to ourselves, because we didn't want to jinx it.
But, here, tonight, in this place where sorrow and joy come together, and with her first trimester behind us, we wanted to tell you all that... Julia and I are expecting a child and we're passed the 3 month mark already." Tommy announces. The family explodes in cheers as Julia and Tommy get congratulations from all directions.
Scotty tiredly leans against Kevin. Kevin's arm is around him and he can let his head rest against Kevin's shoulder.
"This is all so nice." He says. "I can't remember ever having a better Christmas than this."
"And Christmas hasn't even started yet." Kevin points out, placing a little kiss on Scotty's head. "Tired?"
"Yes. And hungry." Scotty grins. "I feel good. It's been so emotional. I feel drained of all energy, but at the same time I'm insanely happy, as if a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders."
"I know. Going up there can be so cathartic. When I was kid, I'd often go there, when I felt bad. I was convinced that my grandmother was still there. I'd leave her little notes about how I felt. Just to be able to write down and tell her that I was happy, or sad, or angry and believing that she would read it... It helped so much."
"You're so lucky to have a family that is so close to each other. My parents wouldn't care if I'm alive or dead. I could never imagine Nora not caring what happened to you or one of your siblings."
"No, me neither." Kevin has to admit.
During the years with Greg he had created some distance between himself and his family, something he regrets now. He had missed them so much. With some bitterness, Kevin has to admit that he keeps realizing that he's so much better off without Greg. And that he'd be a whole lot better off with someone like Scotty.
"Thank you, that you wanted to do this with me." Kevin softly says.
"You're welcome. I'm glad I did it." Scotty replies. Under the warm and heavy blankets their fingers entwine almost automatically, finding strength in each other. Scotty looks up at Kevin, his eyes bright and beautiful.
This time Kevin gives in to his urge and he kisses Scotty oh so softly on the lips. Scotty doesn't seem to mind. Instead he only smiles, so Kevin kisses him again.
"I'm sorry I shouldn't be doing this." Kevin then says, confused by his own feelings.
"No." Scotty replies, but he doesn't entirely agree with himself. "But it's okay. I know that you're not trying to use me or hurt me. I guess our feelings are just in a strange place right now. I'm fine with it." Scotty replies. He can see that Kevin is glad that he's not angry.
END OF CHAPTER NINE