Disclaimer: Written with love not for money.
Summary: It's Christmas, go with it.
"Why don't you explain it to me slowly, maybe I'll get it then." Saul asks. Scotty heaves a sigh.
"I decided to close the restaurant for Christmas. And yes, I'm aware that it is not very common. And yes, I do know that it will cost us, but..."
"Give me a good reason why...?" Saul insists. Scotty puts down his knife, which considering how agitated he feels right now, will probably a good decision in the long run.
"Saul, you and Jonathan are going to Paris. Nora will spending time with Brody. Sarah will go to France. Kitty to Boston. Justin is celebrating Christmas with his in-laws.
Chad and Jason are somewhere in Europe because Chad is filming there. And Jordan is on a plane to India to see his family. My parents have the time of their lives in New York and plan to spend Christmas there... This Christmas, it will be just Kevin, the kids and I. I want to celebrate with our own little family and not spend the entire day running around in the highest stress-mode."
"I hope that you won't regret this choice." Saul mumbles. "Customers don't forget getting sent away."
"We're not sending anyone away. It's clearly marked on our website and on our counter that we're closed for Christmas. No ifs and buts about it. We. Are. Closed."
"I just hope you won't regret it." Saul says one more time. Scotty closes his eyes and in his head he counts to ten. Then to twenty. Slowly. Then he opens his eyes again and starts cutting up the vegetables for tonight's soup. He will relax if it's the last thing he does. He will remain calm and not listen to others.... No stress this time.
"Thank you, mister Walker, for taking care of this matter." Mrs Alice Green gives Kevin her biggest and happiest smile. Kevin smiles back at her. He really likes the old woman. And he's glad that he managed to make sure that she can keep her home. Sometimes it can be rewarding to go up against a big company.. and win.
"So, you'll still be in your home at Christmas. Planning a family-dinner?" He asks, as he gathers all his papers. Her smile fades a bit and she shakes her head.
"No. The children all have made other plans. Each thinking that the other would invite me, so in the end, they're all gone and I'm alone."
Though she shrugs as if she doesn't care, Kevin knows that she does care about this.
"I'm sorry to hear that." He says in all sincerity.
"And you?" She now asks. Kevin hesitates. He's always careful about talking about his private life to clients, but then he realizes that he has won this case.
If this woman can't handle that he's gay then they no longer need to see each other after today anyway.
"My husband and I..." He can't help but wait a little longer than necessary. "... we plan to have just a little dinner. Just with our kids."
He tries to figure out what she thinks. She nods.
"Your husband? That's the tall, handsome guy who runs the restaurant where you have your office, right?" She asks.
"Yes." Kevin confirms. Here it comes. Either she's mad or...
"He's one good looking guy. You have an excellent taste... And so does he." She replies with a little wink. Kevin can't help but smile.
"You're very fortunate."
Kevin has to agree with her. He is indeed very fortunate. Not only is Scotty handsome and sweet, he's a good cook, a great husband, an excellent lover and a wonderful father.
And Kevin can't wait to spend Christmas with his family. It will be just him, Scotty and their children. He's so looking forward to it.
"Was everything up to satisfaction?" Scotty asks as he leans over the table make stash of the one dish, the one cup, the one glass, the one set of fork and knife.... It's so sad. Martino Vanelli, 73 years old, always used to come here with his wife Sammy, short for Samantha, 71 years old.
53 year of marriage and still gazing into each other's eyes like they did when they were in high-school. And then one day she was gone. Gave her husband a goodnight kiss, turned off the light and didn't wake up the next morning. Scotty didn't see Martino for two months and then one night he had shown up at the restaurant.
More frail than before, lines of deep sorrow on his face, but with a certain determination to keep on living. Scotty remembers how Martino had looked at him and said that he had always enjoyed coming here with Sammy and that for Sammy's sake he wanted to keep doing that.
Scotty's staff had offered him their usual table, if he felt that it wouldn't bring back too many memories. Martino had considered their words, but then he had said that he cherished the memories, good and bad, and that he wanted to sit there, at their old table. Since then he came in once or twice a week...
"The spaghetti was as Sammy would have loved it." Martino answers Scotty's question. Every week he picks something different from the menu, like Sammy had always wanted to do. Scotty nods in acceptance of the compliment. 'As Sammy would have loved it' is just about the biggest compliment he can get.
"Happy to hear you liked it." He answers.
"It's too bad you're closed for Christmas." Martino says.
"Yes, but it was necessary decision. I guess I just want to enjoy my family while I can." Scotty's answer gets a nod of approval from Martino.
"And you? You will spend it with your family, I assume." Scotty asks. Martino doesn't answer straightaway, then he motions Scotty to come closer. Scotty looks at Angie, who's working in the kitchen. He can afford to spend a few minutes with Martino.
"Can you keep a secret?" Martino asks in a conspiratorial tone of voice. Scotty grins.
"Of course." He answers and Martino smiles mischievously.
"I've told Allesandro that I'll be with Alice, my niece. I know that Allesandro and Alice don't talk to each other. And I told Alice, I'd be with Franco, my brother, who she cannot stand. I told Franco I'd be with Allesandro... Franco and Allesandro would love to talk, but Franco doesn't speak English and Allesandro doesn't speak Italian."
"But why?" He then asks.
"I want to spend Christmas alone, with my memories of my Sammy. I love my family, but they drive me crazy with how they want to 'save' me from myself.
I don't need saving. I miss my girl, yes, but I'm not suicidal. Sammy would kill me, if I did something stupid. She would want me to go on living, so that I have plenty of stories to tell her when we meet each other again. I want to do as much as possible of the things that she had still wanted to do."
Martino speaks with more strength than Scotty had imagined the frail body could handle. He places his hands on Martino's.
"I won't tell anyone what you told me.... and I'm glad that Sammy won't let you do something stupid. I don't want to lose you too."
As the words leave Scotty's lips he know that he's telling the truth. One of the reasons for starting Café 429 had been to become a part of people's lives. He had always wanted to have his regular customers and know their names and their stories. And Martino and Sammy had been just the people he had wanted to welcome into his life. Positive. Strong. Not perfect, but lovable.
Martino pulls one of his hands away and gently taps Scotty on his hands twice. A sweet, soothing gesture.
"Just cherish that family of yours while you can." He says with all sincerity and Scotty nods slowly in agreement.
Olivia picks up her phone and sees 2 messages. "They're at it again. I'm so tired of this." is the first message. "If they don't quit, I will." is the next. Olivia sighs and places her phone on her desk. She's not sure what to reply. Laurette, her best friend, has only bad messages these days.
It's sad of course that Laurette's parents are constantly arguing, but there's nothing much Olivia can do about it. When she had first met Laurette, she'd been so jealous of the smart girl with the long blonde hair, slender body and beautiful blue eyes. Laurette had been everything she had ever wanted to be.
Then her teacher had put her and Laurette in one team for a project. It had been uneasy and strained at first. Olivia remained guarded and distant, making it hard for Laurette to work with her, until Olivia's defensive attitude had caused an argument between them, because Laurette had wanted to know what Olivia's problem with her was.
Olivia had first not replied, but after talking about it with Kevin and Scotty she had realized that ignoring Laurette just wouldn't help. She had sat down with Laurette and explained to her that Laurette made her insecure. Next to Laurette, she felt fat and ugly.
She had been totally shocked when she found out that next to her Laurette felt like a stick-figure and bland. It had been the start of a close friendship. So close that Laurette finally dared to admit that her parents might be rich and successful, they also couldn't stand to be around each other anymore.
Olivia picks up her phone and her fingers hesitate. The fights between Laurette's parents were getting uglier. She hears a familiar sound and she smiles when she sees Scotty enter the house. Seated at the dinner-table, she can see Kevin lean in for a kiss. The sweet tenderness between the two men can still touch her.
She's so happy that these two men came into her life and made her part of their lives. Her eyes meet Scotty's and the loving, welcoming smile he immediately gives her fills her heart with a joy that she rarely expresses.
"I wish I could help you..." She then replies to Laurette.
"So, did you hang up your Christmas stockings?" Scotty asks Angie, his chef, and Angie rolls her eyes. She now remembers that she had told Scotty about buying Christmas stockings for herself and her boyfriend. Of course that was four weeks ago. When everything had still been right between them.
"No. But thanks for reminding me what I forgot to stuff down his throat when I threw him out the door." She replies. It should have sounded funnier, but instead it sounds very bitter. She feel Scotty's eyes on her.
"What happened?" Scotty asks.
"He was sleeping with one of my friends behind my back. Told her that he and I had broken up. I didn't know until she wondered why I kept 'trying to get back to him' and 'why I couldn't accept that we were through'... Then she told me about her and him. And I just knew he and I were through."
"I'm so sorry." Scotty replies. Her shoulders sink.
"That's not the worst of it..." She then says. "I found out this morning that I'm pregnant. And I don't know what to do." Her eyes fill with tears and Scotty takes her in his arms as she starts to cry.
"Daddy!" Daniel throws himself into Kevin's arms as Kevin picks him up from the day-care center. Kevin easily catches him and cuddles him as Daniel enthusiastically starts to tell him about his day. Daniel may have Scotty's DNA, but everyone always says that he has Kevin's ability to talk.
Daniel holds up the drawing he made for Olivia and he explains to Kevin that it's a dinosaur, but if he would have said that it was a balloon with ribbons attached to it, Kevin would have 'seen' that immediately too. Kevin ruffles Daniel's hair.
"Are you ready for pancakes?" He asks. Daniel nods eagerly.
Daniel sits down in his chair and Kevin makes sure that the seat-belt is tight, so Daniel will be safe. As Kevin gets ready to go to the driver's side, he hears a loud cuss, immediately followed by an apology. As Kevin turns around he can see one of the other fathers carry his son to the car.
A father is struggling with his child, the child's school bag and the car-keys. Kevin recognizes the child, Cody, as friend of Daniel's. The man is one their neighbors from further up the street. Kevin closes the door of his car and runs over to the other father.
"Aaron! Wait! Let me help you!" He offers.
Aaron is grateful to hand the young boy over to Kevin so he can open his car and throw the schoolbag in the car.
"Thank you." Aaron's soft spoken thanks sound as tired as he looks.
"Is everything alright?" Kevin now asks as he looks on while Aaron puts Cody in the car.
Aaron turns around to face Kevin. He doesn't immediately answer, but just stares at Kevin as if to determine what to reply. Then he lets out a deep sigh.
"Oh, well, you'll hear about it eventually through the grapevine anyway... Susan has left me... Couldn't take it anymore... Motherhood, work and all.
She practically cleaned out our bank-account, took a plane-ticket to Vegas and she's trying to 'find herself' there." Kevin is astounded. Susan is one of the most efficient mothers he knows, but then, now that Aaron mentions it, he has to admit that he had often felt that Susan was trying too hard.
"I'm sorry to hear that." He says on automatic pilot. What else can he say?
"You know what's worse? I'm glad she's gone."
"I just wished she would have picked a better time than just before Christmas."
"..." Kevin opens his mouth, but he's at a loss for words.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't put my misery on you like that, but you're the first person I'm talking to about this. She left almost a week ago and at first it seemed like a moment of insanity. I thought she'd be back within 2 days, but last night she called me and she's sure.
She wants a divorce and she wants me to have custody over Cody. She says that she feels like she's suffocating and that she needs space and that in that space there's no immediate room for Cody ... or me. And it's fine with me. I'm done with everything right now anyway.
I was so sick and tired of her constantly running our lives. Everything had to be organized to the minute. I was just too tired of it all and thought about quitting this relationship myself, but then I'd see him...."And he looks at his son, sitting in the car, waiting for his father and a smile lights up his face. "... how could I leave him..?"
Kevin looks over his shoulder and sees Daniel look at him and he smiles too.
"Yeah, I know what you mean... Listen, why don't you join Scotty and me at the restaurant. We'll be eating pancakes?" He suggests. Aaron taps on the window and asks Cody:
"Hey, wanna eat pancakes at Daniel's place?" Cody nods fast and with a huge grin. Aaron turns to Kevin. "I'd like that."
"I'll tell Scotty to make few more." Kevin promises.
"Thank you... It's very kind of you." Aaron nods.
Scotty turns on his back and Kevin has had enough.
"Would you just stop twisting and turning, please? I'm trying to fall asleep here." He mumbles, trying to not wake up too much.
"Sorry. I can't sleep."
"What's wrong? What's bugging you?" Kevin now sees that sleep will not happen any time soon, unless he deals with Scotty's problem first.
"It will be Christmas tomorrow."
"I thought that I would love it to have the place to ourselves, no planning, no running around, no drama, no cooking... And there would be just us... The kids, you, me... " Scotty starts. A little smirk comes to Kevin's face. He knew it! He had wondered if Scotty could really handle not having to arrange a Christmas-meal for a group of people.
"... And now you find out that you actually want the buzz, the drama, the planning and the cooking?"
"Yeah. Kinda..." Scotty hates to admit it, but he's bored with the lack of activity in his kitchen. And, maybe more important, a lack of activity in his head.
"I thought I'd be happy with 'no fuss', but with your family gone, I just have nothing to get annoyed about. I miss the unexpected drama that you know will happen somehow, somewhere. And then I see so many people who are unhappy and alone and it bugs me. These are people I care about.
And here I am. I can celebrate Christmas with my handsome husband and my beautiful kids, in our own house, and I do not have a single worry. And I realize that I'm being selfish for complaining. And I get annoyed, ... because I can't get annoyed. If that makes any sense?" Scotty sighs. Kevin smiles in the dark.
"You know that I love you, right?" Kevin says.
"Of course. And I love you... What does that have to do with anything?" Scotty asks.
"Can I make a contract that next year you must prepare the Christmas-meal and you're not allowed to cancel on it..." Kevin teases.
"Oh, you want to have this black on white, right?" Scotty now teases along. "Well, first we'll have to negotiate the details." He says, turning to Kevin and pulling him closer. He kisses Kevin's lips and Kevin lets him, until he decides to break the kiss.
"Well, stop being selfish and stop complaining and let me work on the fine print...."
Scotty kisses Kevin to silence him. The kiss goes on until they're both out of breath.
"Of course,... fine print is overrated." Kevin moans as pushes Scotty on his back and he lets his hand move down, until he hears Scotty gasp with delight.
"How many courses should the dinner have?" Scotty manages to utter as Kevin's hand starts to move.
Kevin continues to kiss Scotty wherever he can reach. Shoulder, chest, arm. Scotty makes a sound that Kevin recognizes as the one that Scotty makes when he's losing his grip and Kevin laughs softly.
"Working on thpse details right now... Care to continue negotiations...?"
"No. Put that mouth of yours to other use." Scotty practically begs, moving his body closer to Kevin's fingers. As Kevin's head disappears under the duvet, a little thought comes to Scotty's mind, but then his mind gets disconnected as Kevin's lips continue where his fingers had stopped and any further ideas will have to wait.
END OF PART 1/2