“Blue!” Clara cries waking up with a start and reaching for her son.
“You okay momma?” Blue asks.
“When Spence found you crying in the snow, did you intend to hurt yourself?” Clara asks.
“Maybe. I didn’t have a plan but I didn’t really care if I froze where I was.” Blue says gently.
“And are you wanting us to cut ties?” Clara asks.
“Well you’ve already cut me off financially and you made it clear over break that I don’t have a home with you anymore. I think it is you that is cutting ties.” Blue says.
“I haven’t cut you off financially.” Clara says confused and still woozy from sleep..
“Not directly but I know I’m on my own after this semester. It’s okay I’ll probably take a year to save and transfer somewhere cheaper, I have great grades it shouldn’t be too hard.” Blue says.
“I have never said you are on your own. Stop talking in riddles.” Clara says.
“You made it clear you’d only pay for my accommodation if I lived with Gervais. Now he and I are trying to be friends but it still hurts me so much to be around him and being around him and Chris is pure torture.” Blue says.
“But you’ll be living with Spence.” Clara says.
“Spence has good intentions but there is no way George will let me live in that house. You know that, you know exactly what script he will use. Whether he and Spence become more than friends or not over the next few weeks he’ll convince Spence it is better I don’t live there. So I’ll need to find a place and I’ll need to work to pay for it. I am okay with that, I am fine with paying my way but I will have to get a real job for the summer and so you won’t pay my tuition so I’ll need to take some time off and save while working and it makes sense to complete my studies somewhere cheaper.” Blue says.
“You seem to have it all planned out.” Clara says.
“It’s a first draft.” Blue says.
“Why not ask me for help?” Clara asks.
“I don’t trust you and you won’t compromise with me, seemed a waste of time.” Blue says.
“And you don’t see a way we can rebuild?” Clara asks.
“Why bother? I am way down your priority list. I can manage without you, you made sure I had skills.” Blue says.
“You would only be managing. Scrapping by. You take one year off and it’ll turn into two, your car will need a repair or you’ll get sick, you’ll barely be making ends meet, saving for school won’t happen.” Clara says.
“Thanks for believing in me.” Blue says.
“You have a college plan. I can’t do anything with the money other than pay for your schooling. You have banked far more voluntary hours than you need to meet my criteria for paying for you. I told you today we needed to renegotiate. That wasn’t meant in a negative way and I don’t know why you think it was. Why are you constantly thinking the worst? Where has your strength gone?” Clara asks.
“You stamped on my strength. You spent my whole life telling me my feelings were my feelings and they were valid and then Gervais left me and ever since then my feelings have been an inconvenience to you and added to that you lied to me my whole life then refused to talk to me and b have belittled me at every opportunity, told me my life’s dream is pathetic, favored Gervais who broke my heart over and over, favored Andy and after knowing him for an hour you bought Chris a house no strings. I am so lost and you keep piling it on.” Blue shouts.
“You’re jealous of Chris?” Clara asks.
“I’m jealous he has Gervais and I’m jealous you trust him.” Blue says.
“Stop, stop right now.” Clara says.
“What?” Blue asks confused.
“This is too close to the dream I keep having where you die.” Clara says.
“Is that why you’re here?” Blue asks.
“I’m here to sort the house and to collect Roe and her sister.” Clara says.
“Not for me.” Blue says sadly.
“Of course for you. I keep dreaming our fights and you jump off the roof or run into traffic or freeze in the snow. I’m not leaving here until I’m convinced you’re okay.” Clara says.
“So why not hold me and tell me it’ll be okay. Why keep showing me I’m nothing, that I am last on your list. Why not tell me you’ll pay for school and tell me great job for my grades? Why do I have to work so hard for fuck all from you? I wouldn’t kill myself over you. I’m not letting you and your controlling bullshit win.” Blue screams.
“Glad to hear it.” Clara says.
“Now you know I’m not suicidal can I go? Are we done?” Blue asks.
“I know over the last year you’ve felt like one in the crowd. I had to prepare you for not being my only. You made yourself a family at school without my help and I was delighted. What Gervais did to you was awful. I needed you to learn to live with someone who hurt you because I knew that when you found out about your family that we would struggle.” Clara says.
“We wouldn’t have struggled if you had talked to me straight off. I wasn’t that mad. Everything has grown and grown. I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone until you talked to me and I was close to bursting and then you pushed me out for Bea and I knew you and I were done. Seeing you with Chris today confirmed it.” Blue says.
“Because I bought a house for him to live in. You were happy with it at the time. What changed?” Clara asks.
“You didn’t even ask to meet who he’ll live with. You’d known him for an hour and trusted his judgement in people. You know all my friends. You know I’d not live with anyone who would trash the place. You know I’d not have loud wild parties and that I’d have kept it maintained. You don’t know anything about Chris. You complained about the sibling rivalry between Bea and Chris and yet you’ve forced me into the middle of it. Chris promised he would take everything from me. I tried to have a clean slate with him but I am certain that neither of us meant it.” Blue says.
“Why even pretend with Chris?” Clara asks.
“Nothing has changed with Gervais, I still don’t know how to be around him and not in love with him. But I decided I just can’t cut him out and if I want to be around him then I need to fake it with Chris. Plus I have that niggle about Chris, I worry that he knows about Gervais money. I worry that he has stuck around for that.” Blue says.
“I have the same worry which is why I got Chris the house, the more he thinks he has the less likely he’ll take from others. Who says I won’t make strings for him? Who says I won’t vet who else lives there? That Gervais told me that Chris is very materialistic means that Gervais has thought about it too.” Clara says.
“Gervais is protective of you too. He is so mad about them taking money from you. Really mad. Is it true you offered it?” Blue asks.
“I didn’t have much choice. You and Gervais called it, Lana needed it. I did expect them to save for college as agreed though, that’s why I gave more than agreed.” Clara says.
“They are scum. They were nice to me and wanted to meet me but nothing makes sense. Nothing. Not your choices, not theirs. Why didn’t you try for custody?” Blue asks.
“They were never my children, not really and I wanted to keep my end of the deal. If Lana would have left Paul I’d have gone for custody, housed them together but she loves him.” Clara says.
“Do you regret not having kids with someone you loved? Is it because I’ve started to look like him that you stopped loving me?” Blue asks.
“Sometimes I see him in you and I’m revolted. You are nothing like him in character but sometimes for a moment you’ll say one of his phrases or make a look and I just have to walk away.” Clara admits.
“So you have stopped loving me.” Blue says.
“No of course not. It has just been harder to be around you. I never wanted more children but now I have Katelyn and Gervais I am happy to have them.” Clara says.
“I’m not going to have a relationship with Chris or Bea. I’m being civil with Chris until he and Gervais are done but I won’t make an effort. Bea was only ever after an invite to see you and Chris never wanted anything to do with me.” Blue tails off.
“I never expected you to. I have to be there for them to see this whole thing through. I don’t see them as replacements for you and I never did. I know this is all new to you, not being friendly with people in your life.” Clara says.
“Its been that way with most the people I’ve met at college. Different to home but I’m not friends with Deke any more, first person from home out of my life.” Blue says.
“And me?” Clara asks.
“Its difficult. I can’t say either way. I get that you don’t want me to be like Paul, I get that was why you were against me pursuing things I wasn’t the best at. I loved to draw though and had no plans to be an artist. I just liked it. I suppose you see the vineyard dream as being like his failed businesses. I get it, I do but it is still what I want. I never expected you to buy it for me. I just wanted some mental support. I want to run tea rooms too up there, people to tour and do tastings and have my cakes. I see the wine as a challenge, a puzzle to solve.” Blue explains.
“You never mentioned the tea room. Roe thinks you should open a patisserie.” Clara says.
“It’s not enough. I’d love it but be bored.” Blue says.
“You’d be exhausted.” Clara laughs.
“Gervais wanted us to have a beautiful farmhouse and kids running between the vines, me making a big meal for us all. You ready to be a grandma?” Blue asks.
“You are having a really hard time letting go.” Clara says.
“It was his dream. I was never so romantic about it but it was a lovely dream and I know he holds it dear.” Blue says.
“I didn’t know you’d planned so far ahead.” Clara says.
“He was everything to me and then he left me.” Blue says.
“And George was too soon and terrible for you.” Clara says.
“Yeah, we were cute for 5 minutes but there wasn’t enough there for a relationship.” Blue says.
“I need you to know that I do trust you and you do get to tell me to back off. I’m going to sort things so you have your own money like Spence. I’m not saying that it will be as much as he has but I think you’ll be happy. I’m letting you off this summer. I wanted you to travel but it is your choice what you do. And we’ll get you a house. If you really think it’s going to be an issue with Spence. No we’ll get you a house I do not want you living with George.” Clara says.
“I don’t want money or houses momma. I want some support, some guarantees and some answers. Tonight has been good but we’re both avoiding everything that we really want to talk about.” Blue says.
Clara nods and hugs her son. They talk for hours, arguing at times but both careful to not go too far. They know things will never be the same but they are going to be okay.
The next morning they pick up a few things then collect Cheryl and Ocean. Clara and Cheryl take a walk together to get coffee and catch up. Blue gets a stack of books for Ocean to stand on and he helps Blue in the kitchen. Ocean loves any task he can do with his favorite big brother but making ice cream is giving his a lot of fun.
“Can we have banana ice cream and banana milkshake and banana bread?” Ocean asks.
“You have a banana obsession.” Blue laughs.
“Nana nana nana nana” Ocean sings.
“You are a very good chef. Look at this bread you made.” Blue says.
“I am the top chef.” Ocean says.
Gervais and Robin come out and help a little but Blue mostly has it under control.
“I think we’re done until later. Shall we go for a juice?” Blue asks ocean.
“Can I see the pool?” Ocean asks.
“Sure but its too cold to go in.” Blue says.
“I just want to see.” Ocean says.
“Coat and gloves on.” Blue says and takes Ocean by the hand and walks him upstairs.
“You can see all the city.” Ocean says standing on a bench and looking out.
“Its pretty cool right?” Blue asks.
“Yeah, cool for my Blue.” Ocean says.
“You’re going to meet Chris today.” Blue says.
“Gervais boyfriend.” Ocean says.
“Yes, he looks like me because he’s my twin brother.” Blue says.
“No I’m your brother, just me.” Ocean says.
“I only met him a few weeks ago.” Blue tries to explain.
“So I’ve been your brother longer?” Ocean asks.
“For the longest. I’ve known you longest.” Blue says giving the kid a hug.
The sun is shining and the Perspex wall shelters them from the wind so it feels warm enough for them to sit and chat. Ocean tells Blue all about his gymnastics and school and friends. He is loving having Blue’s full attention and making the most of it.
“I’m freezing. Lets go make some hot chocolate and see if Spence back.” Blue says.
“Spence is my best teacher. No Blue is my best and then Spence but sometimes I like gymnastics best not yoga.” Ocean says.
“That’s okay buddy. You’re my bestest student.” Blue says.
“Duh I know.” Ocean says and they giggle.
Blue starts on the finishing touches as people start to arrive.
“Hey Willow, Birch come on in.” Blue says with a big smile.
“Cool you have nature names like me. I’m Ocean.” Ocean says introducing himself.
“Willow is really good at yoga and Birch is thinking of coming to your class. Can you look after them while I finish up?” Blue asks.
“Blue is my best big brother and Gervais and Spence and Andy are my other big brothers.” Ocean says and Willow and Birch break into huge grins and happily look after the kid while Blue calls Clara to tell her to come back.
“I told Ocean about Chris but he wasn’t really having it.” Blue says to Gervais.
“He’s on his way. Everything okay with you and momma now?” Gervais asks.
“Not entirely but we both put everything out there and she didn’t shut me down.” Blue says.
“That sounds positive. Willow is really pretty.” Gervais says.
“I know. I am so glad she’s gay.” Blue laughs.
Clara and Cheryl come in and Chris is right behind them. Blue looks for Ocean and picks him up and takes him over to Chris.
“Man you are getting way too big for this.” Blue says.
“No, you are strong.” Ocean says squeezing Blue’s arm.
“Ocean this is Chris.” Blue says gently.
“Noooo no no no.” Ocean shouts distressed. Blue smiles to himself the kid can spot a bad un.
Blue cuddles Ocean while he calms down and then gets him to help serve up.
“Thanks Blue this is amazing.” Dylan says.
“No problem. Have you met momma and Cheryl?” Blue asks and Dylan introduces himself.
Blue sits next to Birch and Willow and Ocean sits on Blue’s lap and the four chat away.
“We cannot compete with that.” Andy says to Gervais motioning to Birch.
“They’re friends.” Gervais says looking round for Chris but he’s deep in conversation with Clara.
“They look cute together, like a family.” Andy says.
“Ocean had a bad reaction to Chris.” Gervais says.
“I never saw him like that.” Robin says.
Blue gets up to make Dylan’s dessert. Gervais gets up to help clear space and puts out the cheesecake as Blue finishes up.
“Oh my god. Blue you are incredible.” Dylan says.
“I did the ice cream.” Ocean says.
“Is this your first try?” Andy asks.
“Yeah, it was complicated to finish while you were all here.” Blue says.
“I love it.” Birch says.
“You said to save room for dessert, I didn’t know you meant don’t eat anything because you’ll want to finish the entire cheesecake.” Willow says.
“Don’t you dare. I’ll fight you for it.” Andy says just as Roe and his mom arrive.
“Sorry I didn’t know they were coming. We could have waited.” Blue says embarrassed.
“My mom will have made them late.” Andy whispers.
“You okay?” Blue asks.
“Talk later.” Andy says clearly not okay.
Spence sorts extra chairs and Blue grabs some plates and forks.
“The baked Alaska is gone but you can stop a fight between Willow and Andy for the last of the cheesecake. There’s soup and bread left too but if you eat that first the cheesecake will be gone.” Blue laughs.
“You could fill a thermos with the soup for the car for us.” Clara says.
“And one of coffee?” Blue asks.
“Thanks darling that would be great.” Clara says and all the suite guys turn and stare at the change in attitude between the pair compared to break.
“Anyone else want coffee?” Blue asks.
“I’ll go down and get some, be quicker.” Andy says.
“I’ll help.” DeShawn says.
“He is taller than Blue. Wowzers.” Ocean says.
“You wanna come help?” DeShawn asks and Ocean runs after him willingly.
“So its just me he doesn’t like.” Chris says.
“He needs to get used to you. He has known Blue his whole life and he has found the Blue, Gervais breakup difficult to understand.” Cheryl says.
“We’re not telling him about ours yet.” Spence says.
“Oh Spence I didn’t know. I am so sorry.” Cheryl says genuinely.
Robin and Dylan stop Blue from clearing away and they sort the thermoses for Clara and Roe.
Blue tries to introduce himself to Andy’s mom but she’s not receptive so he goes back to talking to Willow and Birch.
“Thanks for having us. We didn’t know parents would be here but it felt like home for a couple of hours.” Willow says.
“And your food was amazing. So was the kid, I miss having all aged people around.” Birch says.
“I know right? That is such a weird adjustment. Never seeing old people or kids.” Blue says.
“Roe this is Willow and Birch, Birch is an art student, Roe is an artist.” Blue says and Roe and Birch instantly fall into conversation.
“It’s a shame she arrived so late. My brother loves to talk shop.” Willow says.
“Roe too. Thanks for coming. Having new people here kept everyone on their best behavior.” Blue says.
“Everyone is so nice. Your mom knows some of the people we grew up with. I guess our world is pretty small.” Willow says.
“That’s cool. I am so not ready for classes tomorrow.” Blue says.
“Come to class with me early. You’ll feel good after, focused.” Willow says.
“I’d love to. You have the best ideas. I feel like you get me so much.” Blue says.
“It’s mutual, this dinner was what I needed too. I miss this sort of socializing. When I was an undergrad I tried joining a sorority because I thought it would be like the commune in a way, at least having meals together and stuff but it was hell on earth.” Willow laughs and Blue joins in.
They say goodbye to Clara and Roe and Willow and Birch reluctantly leave too. Blue showers for a long time and climbs into bed more confused than ever.
“Room for me?” Andy asks.
“Yeah. You okay?” Blue asks.
“Can we not talk about our moms tonight?” Andy asks.
“Good with me.” Blue says.
“I bet you’re too tired to fuck.” Andy says.
“Too tired and too full. You’re pretty presumptuous that I’d choose you if I was in the mood.” Blue says.
“I know its too soon for us right now but I do love you and thought that sometime down the line, when we’re ready.” Andy starts.
“Are you joking? I would never date you.” Blue says laughing.
“Why not? We have so much in common and we had good sex.” Andy says.
“You have treated me like shit. I’ve forgiven you but fuck man why do you think I would date someone who could treat me so badly. Hell you cheated on Spence and you’d been together years. You are a shit boyfriend.” Blue says.
“Kick me when I’m down.” Andy says getting out of bed and Blue just shrugs, he can’t deal with Andy’s bullshit.