“Are you okay?” Robin asks as they get closer to Bea’s house. Robin isn’t sure Blue is ready for this.
“I’m terrified.” Blue admits.
“I can drop you at a food place and come get you with Bea if you don’t want to go to the house. If you’re not ready.” Robin says.
“I don’t want to make it into a bigger deal. I need to face it, ready or not.” Blue says.
“Do you want to go in and meet them?” Robin asks.
“Not really. I mean what do I say, thanks for abandoning me because I loved my childhood and hate my brother?” Blue laughs and Robin joins in.
“I bet they regret it. I figured that is why Lana never worked, losing you would have been impossible to get over. Same for your momma losing Bea and Chris.” Robin says quietly.
“I’ve thought a lot about it too. I just can’t work out what my feelings are and I get side-tracked imagining theirs. I don’t believe Paul is a monster. I bet my mom made him out to be to Cheryl because she was upset whenever they talked about it.” Blue says.
“You can talk to me. You should talk to someone not just mull it through in your head.” Robin says gently.
“I don’t want to. Not before talking to Momma, hearing her side properly. I wish she’d come down to see me when I found out.” Blue says.
“I can’t believe she didn’t.” Robin says thinking that his own mom would have been there in a second, would never have let him go through anything like that without her.
“You lucked out with great parents.” Blue says reading Robin’s thoughts.
“I really did.” Robin says.
“Your mom has been great this holiday. I still can’t believe she threw all your traditions out and served lobster.” Blue says.
“It was awesome. So was the soup you made with the leftovers.” Robin says.
“I had a really great time. Thank-you for inviting me. Your parents didn’t care that an extra person showed up at all and your sisters welcomed me.” Blue says.
“You got my sisters to put down their phones and make gingerbread houses with you. My mom was over the moon that they joined in an activity without complaining. That was the best present you could have given.” Robin says.
“My momma has never let me make one. I always wanted to make a whole city of skyscrapers. Your mom was happy to let me, even your dad joined in.” Blue says.
“That was a miracle, my dad justified it as a construction task but you could see he had more fun with melting chocolate and adding sprinkles than measuring the pieces out.” Robin laughs.
“I sent momma some pictures of it and she said she’s bet Gervais that I’d make one,” Blue smiles.
“So you are talking.” Robin says.
“About everything but the triplet stuff.” Blue sighs.
“You seem to be the one making all the effort. I’ve not seen her sending you pictures or even calling often.” Robin says.
“I know and when I call she mostly talks about what she and Gervais have been doing. I think I’ve been replaced.” Blue smiles.
“She treats you like shit. I love your momma and she is great to me but she is not a good mom to you.” Robin says.
“Gervais used to say the same but she was a good mom. She’s hard on me and can be pushy but I’m a good guy, she raised me with good values and some great skills.” Blue says.
“That’s true but from the outside sometimes it is really hard to watch. Nothing in your relationship with your momma is unconditional and maybe that’s why you want to turn every encounter into a relationship. You just crave the hugs and kisses and sweet nothings that don’t come with strings attached. It’s why we get along so well, we’re both tactile and not afraid to get affection from each other, even if it goes too far sometimes.” Robin says.
“I loved that very first night cuddling you. It was all my dreams come true.” Blue says.
“You sure kept me warm that winter.” Robin says and smiles at Blue as they pull up at the house.
“You totally distracted me. I thought I’d be sick my stomach was in knots before.” Blue grins.
“Pure accident but I’m glad you’re okay.” Robin says.
Bea comes outside with her bag the second they pull up, she’s been looking out for them. Blue looks at the house with a strange feeling. He could have grown up here. This could have been his home.
He’s tried not to think too much about the life he might have had, its obviously something that has shaped Chris’s personality and he really wanted to avoid being bitter. But looking at the normalcy of the house he can’t help but wonder what his life could have been and if it would have been better or worse.
Paul looks out from an upstairs window at the son he threw away. Every day he has regretted what he did and he knows the decision has shaped his marriage and the relationship he has with Bea and Chris.
“He’s so big.” Lana says standing by his side. She has never contemplated leaving Paul, she knows why he takes his frustrations out on her and she will always feel responsible. Despite the view from the outside they have a strong relationship, she doesn’t feel trapped by their circumstance, that Clara has never accepted that has added to their estrangement. Lana wishes they could have resolved things, let the kids meet each other much sooner.
“I can’t imagine Kit with muscles like that.” Paul says tears running down his cheeks, he slips his arm round Lana’s waist and pulls her closer.
“Can we go and meet him?” Lana asks anxious to see her son up close after 19 years.
“Do you think we should?” Paul asks. Lana looks at him in surprise, her usually dominant husband
“Come on lets go. We’ll regret it if we don’t. We might not ever get another chance.” Lana says.
Paul takes his wife’s hand and they go outside. Robin, Bea and Blue have been chatting animatedly while the boys take the chance to stretch their legs.
“Blue?” Lana says tentatively.
Blue turns around to look at them. Paul is tall like his children and Lana is tiny, birdlike. Blue can see they’ve both been crying. He wants to run and hug them but is rooted to the spot.
Robin looks at them in wonder trying to see which features Blue gets from Paul. These people look so normal, not like the horrors Bea and Cheryl have painted them as. Bea looks on curiously, she’s never seen her dad cry before, even when his business went under, yet here he is face covered in tears.
Slowly Blue steps towards them and soon all three are in a big teary hug.
“I have so many questions.” Blue says when they step apart.
“Come inside you can stay and go tomorrow.” Lana says.
“No, we have to get going. I need to talk to my momma, to hear her side.” Blue says quietly.
“Just for an hour. Please.” Paul says quietly.
“Come on I get two weeks with Clara, you can give dad an hour.” Bea says.
“Where’s Chris?” Robin whispers to Bea.
“Out with friends, don’t worry.” Bea whispers back.
Blue has never felt so shy or tongue tied. He can’t seem to form any words.
“What’s your major?” Paul asks feeling lame but desperate to know anything.
“I’m undeclared. I think it might end up being chemistry.” Blue says.
“Blue is a great student, amazing grades. He could choose anything and do well.” Robin says trying to fill in some of the silence.
“Bea said you cook. Is that why you like chemistry?” Lana asks.
“I don’t know. Oh wait.” Blue says and starts rummaging in his bag and hands Lana a paper bag of cookies he made for the journey.
Robin looks at him and laughs.
“Sorry I can make more.” Blue says.
“I know, that’s not why I’m laughing. It’s so typical of you to magic up a gift. You’re making me look bad, I’m meeting my girlfriends parents empty handed.” Robin says making Blue grin and breaking the ice a little.
“We made them in your kitchen, you helped.” Blue says.
“Those cookies are totally from me.” Robin smiles.
“Do you do sports? You’re so muscular.” Paul asks.
‘No, Robin is the sporty one he was a wrestling champ in high school and a cheerleader. I tried working out but I didn’t like it that much. I just swim and do yoga.” Blue says.
“Blue got all hulked up gardening and chopping wood, he does loads of physical outdoor work at home.” Robin says.
“Do you watch sports? Who are your teams?” Paul asks.
“I’ve never got into sports. I get so confused when the guys watch games on TV. My school was so small we didn’t have any team sports, so I’d never played any before Robin and I tried some this year.” Blue says.
“You’re built like that and you never even tried? What a waste. If I’d known Kit could bulk up like that we’d have made him a superstar.” Paul says shaking his head.
“I think we should go.” Blue says abruptly.
“‘Yeah we want to make the most of the daylight.” Robin says seeing his friend’s distress.
Bea stares at her dad with contempt. How could he ruin this like that?
“Can you make sure you bring my red bag and the blue one when you take Kit up to school?” Bea asks.
“Sure honey.” Lana says looking sad.
“Drive safely.” Paul says looking confused.
“It was good to meet you Robin. Blue please come back any time, we know it must be difficult and confusing for you.” Lana says stroking his face trying to take it all in.
“Thanks. It’s all still too new for me. I’m sorry.” Blue says before leaving.
“I am so sorry Blue. I should have known he’d do something like that.” Bea says as they dive off.
“I don’t think he did it on purpose.” Robin says.
“Maybe not but I’m his biological son and he hasn’t seen me in nearly 20 years and in the 3 sentences he says to me he brings up a missed opportunity with my brother who he saw every fucking day. Fuck him.” Blue says.
“I am loving the reappearance of your backbone but be careful.” Robin says.
“I don’t need them in my life. I have managed without so far.” Blue says.
“I’m glad it’s not just me who gets that treatment. I am invisible compared to Kit.” Bea says.
“It was one awkward conversation that no one was prepared for. Don’t cut them off on the basis of that.” Robin says gently and Blue nods. His irritation and anger already long gone. He’s met his dad and the woman who could so nearly have been his mom.
The trio settle in to the journey and share Christmas stories. Blue goes on about the lobster again making Robin smile.
“Did you bring any gingerbread back? Its my favorite type of cookie.” Bea says.
“No Robin’s dad took the whole thing into work and auctioned it off for charity.” Blue says proudly.
“We can make some when we get to Clara’s place. We have to stop off and pick up her dry order anyway. We can probably find somewhere for the molasses.” Robin says.
“Dry order?” Bea asks.
‘Beans, lentils, rice, nuts, coffee. She’ll do a bulk buy a couple of times a year. I just need to collect it for her on the way. Its why we said we’d not have much room in the car.” Blue says.
“Why doesn’t she buy it from your local store?” Bea asks still loving all the details of Blue’s life.
“The food the store sells is mostly local. Sold on for local people. It stocks some longlife things but not a lot. Most people bulk buy things like rice, oats and flour and everyone grows something. It works because if you have a glut of something you can take it to the store and get credit, as long as you don’t all have the same glut.” Robin says.
“And we all can a lot of things too and send a few jars to the store, everyone uses a different recipe. Momma makes great preserves but we can’t use it all. At the retreat they have bees and sell on the excess honey. All the farmers sell a little to the store too.” Blue says.
“They don’t have their own stores or stalls by the road?” Bea asks.
“No we don’t exactly have passing trade. Much easier to send a little to the store for local people.” Blue says.
“OMG my mom says she doesn’t know what you put in those cookies but dad inhaled the bag, she barely had time to rescue one for herself and Kit is in a strop for missing out.” Bea laughs and Blue smiles.
“So your dad and Kit are totally alike, not keen on me but love my food.” Blue says.
“My dad never eats sweet stuff. Complains sugar is empty calories and dentist bills. It’s a huge deal for him to eat a bag of cookies believe me.” Bea says and Blue smiles to himself feeling oddly proud.
Whenever he’s not driving Blue watches the interactions between Bea and Robin and feels more and more guilty that he asked Robin to break up with Bea. They are great together, cute, funny and affectionate. What he and Robin did meant nothing and he hopes Robin has a change of heart and decides to stick with Bea. Breaking up seems like the wrong thing for them both.
“Are you nervous?” Blue asks Bea.
“Not really. I mean I don’t think it will be as awkward as you meeting mine.” Bea says.
“That was so weird. Your dad said the wrong thing but they wanted to meet me. Both of them actually seemed like they wanted to meet me.” Blue says.
“They really did. Will you keep in contact with them?” Robin asks.
“I don’t know. I want to talk to momma and then once I’ve understood a bit more I want to speak to them again, ask all the questions I have.” Blue says.
“They might be totally Kit centric but they’ll come up on a weekend for you. Mom is sending me a million messages right now asking me to tell you they’ll do whatever you want. I think they mean it.” Bea says throwing her phone to Blue in the backseat.
“Wow, your dad really did like the cookies.” Blue laughs handing back the phone after reading the messages.
“Mom will be hounding you for the recipe.” Bea says.
“Was just basic choc chip and coconut, Robin’s favorite.” Blue shrugs.
“Show Bea the pictures of the gingerbread city.” Robin says and Blue smiles does.
“Looks like you two had a lot of fun together.” Bea says.
“It actually really worked out for me. I got a real break rather than diving in to more drama. I am still mad at those guys but I had such a good time. How was yours?” Blue asks.
“It wasn’t so bad. My parents are stressed about what Clara might do. I think my finals all went great so I’m certain I’ll keep my scholarships but Kit is reliant on Clara. My parents are working out what loans he can get and Kit is mad at me because I won’t come out with as much debt and its all my fault if he does. Never mind he could have worked harder.” Bea says.
“It must be a big shock to him that Blue is smart. He’s had an excuse that he’s just not wired like you and now he can’t use that.” Robin says.
“Another reason he hates me.” Blue says.
“He doesn’t hate you.” Bea says.
“No? He tried to set me up, he wanted to expose me as this big cheat who snaked his guy. He told me he was going to take everything from me, that Gervais was just the beginning. The whole plot to break me up with George and have me lose Gervais again was his way of humiliating me, he wanted to see me suffer. He really, really hates me.” Blue says.
“He said what?” Robin asks spitting mad, no idea that Chris has been so mean.
“He’s not that calculating Blue, you’re confused.” Bea says.
“No I am not. He was very, very clear. He was encouraging Gervais to lead me on so he could expose me. He wanted me to be a bad guy. Even when the truth came out he was disappointed that he no longer had an excuse to bring me down and not happy that I hadn’t tried to get his boyfriend to leave him for me.” Blue says.
“I really don’t believe you, I’m sorry, I know my brother and while he has jealousy issues and can be oblivious to others pain he is not cruel.” Bea says.
“Blue doesn’t lie about people.” Robin says.
“Well he has interpreted things wrong.” Bea says.
“I doubt it. Blue downplays the bad things that happen to him. If he says Chris said these things to him it was probably worse.” Robin says.
“I know Kit and you don’t.” Bea says.
Blue slumps in his seat and when he takes over driving encourages the other two to sleep in the back so he doesn’t have to talk to them. He thought he and Bea had a connection, that they were friends.
He knows he isn’t wrong about Chris that he was vile to him, gleeful that Blue had put a foot wrong, reveling at his chance for revenge.
The weather turns bad and they have to take things slower, stopping frequently they debate getting a room for the night but Blue wants to press on.
“I don’t want to meet Clara when I’m half asleep.” Bea says.
“I’ll call Roe, we can take you straight to hers, get some sleep and then have brunch together tomorrow at mine.” Blue says.
“Okay that sounds okay.” Bea says nodding thoughtfully.
“Katelyn is so excited to meet you.” Blue smiles.
“I don’t know Andy that well, its kind of weird she’s excited.” Bea says.
“Blue is Katelyn’s big brother too, she sees you as a sister already. Humor her.” Robin says as Blue steps away to make the call.
“It’s a lot of pressure. You all see it as cute that this kid is excited to see me but I’m coming to meet my birth mother and find out about my roots. I won’t have the energy to entertain a teenager.” Bea says.
“No one is asking you to babysit twenty four seven but theres no harm in giving her some advice on boys and talking about movies and music at night.” Robin says.
“I don’t see why I can’t just share a room with you.” Bea says.
“If we do that then Blue and Gervais have to share a bed.” Robin says abruptly.
“I am just stressed about it all.” Bea says.
“I know. Just remember Blue is too and he hasn’t been able to talk to his mom yet and we will need to give him space to do that.” Robin says.
“You stick up for him over me too much.” Bea says.
“If it came to it I’d chose my friendship with him over anything with you. I’m not saying that to be cruel but he has stuck by me through a lot and he needs me.” Robin says feeling fed up with people shitting on Blue. He feels for Bea and her situation but meeting Clara is a life’s dream for her where Blue is dealing with his whole life being a lie. He cannot believe that no adult has properly stepped in to help Blue and is ashamed that his mom had to point out to him that he had let his friend down.
It’s not like he or Gervais are equipped to support Blue, not really but they should both have done better at putting the focus on the big issue and not the romantic relationships.
Robin really hopes that Andy has snapped out of whatever is going on with him because he needs someone to talk to himself.
The rest of the journey they are all subdued and in their own worlds. Blue is a little concerned that the nice spark between Robin and Bea has already dimmed in a matter of hours. Then remembers why Bea is with them and his own jitters when going to her house and he had no firm plans to meet the parents.
They arrive in the early hours exhausted. Roe has waited up for them and they get Bea settled before leaving.
“Blue I’m here if you need me any time.” Roes says as she hugs him goodbye.
“Thanks. Sorry to have kept you awake.” Blue says.
“Its no hardship. I’ll see you tomorrow. We’ll call when Bea is awake.” Roe says and Blue hugs her again.
The guys leave the food and most their things in the car and go straight to Blue’s room. Gervais is asleep in Blue’s bed. Blue shrugs far less surprised than Robin. They strip off and climb in, first Blue then Robin.
Gervais stirs and leans over Blue and kisses Robin.
“Thanks for taking care of my baby.” Gervais mutters before falling back to sleep on Blue. Robin snuggles on to the other side of Blue’s chest and is asleep before he can think what Gervais means.
Blue looks down at the two heads on his chest, smiles and passes out himself.
Robin wakes first needing to pee, he slips out to the bathroom and when he comes back Blue and Gervais have shifted themselves to be fully entangled with each other. Robin stares for a second he knows he ought to wake Blue and move them apart but they look so happy that he can’t. Whatever those two do to each other, subconsciously they’re still totally in love.
Robin pulls on some clothes and decides to let them be. He’s grinning as he comes out the door just as Clara is walking past.
“What’s funny?” Clara asks.
“Look.” Robin says holding open Blue’s door.
“I am going to have trouble ahead with the twins. Blue needs to be less reckless.” Clara says shaking her head and closing the door.
“Chris hates Blue anyway.” Robin shrugs as they walk through to the kitchen.
“Because Blue pulls stunts like this.” Clara says.
“Why do you never back Blue? He’s a really great guy.” Robin says.
“Gervais and Chris are in a relationship, one that seem to be far more stable than any that Blue has had. Blue is jealous and trying to turn attention on himself with all this childish I can’t be your friend business. I won’t pander to him and support such destructive actions.” Clara says.
“Gervais was the one waiting in Blue’s bed.” Robin says and heads outside into the cold rather than suffer the indoor ice storm.