In the cab to the airport Will grips Blue’s hand in both of his, never wanting to let go.
“I don’t want to leave you.” Will says holding Blue tightly as they wait for their flights.
“I don’t want to be apart.” Blue says.
“I don’t know if I can be away from you, not for so long, I don’t know if this is worth it.” Will says, the enormity of the sacrifice he is making is hitting him hard. The high from the meet and being wanted is gone and the reality of putting his future with Blue on hold is hurting so bad.
“You can’t not try.” Blue says wishing he could ask Will to give it all up.
“I do better when I’m around you.” Will says looking up at Blue his mind working overtime.
“I do better around you too.” Blue says, knowing it’s true. Will gives him real purpose.
“I do better around you.” Will repeats slowly a plan forming.
“What is it baby?” Blue asks.
“Leave it with me. I don’t want to get your hopes up, or mine for that matter. I’ll call you tonight. We’ll need to rework our visit schedule when we know when my ops are.” Will says distracted.
“Yes. Don’t do anything silly.” Blue says.
“I’ll be okay. Blue I love you and that means that you are number one in my life. I need you to know that. I always think of you, every choice I make.” Will says.
“I know, you need to do what is best for you right now. That is best for me too. I’m doing my best to think long term, I can’t have you resenting me 5, 10 years down the line.” Blue says.
“That helps. You have no idea how much it helps that you still see me in your future.” Will says.
“You’re mine.” Blue says and squeezes Will as tight as he can.
The slowly pull apart as Will’s flight is called a second time.
Will starts to walk away and then turns back grabs Blue and kisses him as hard as he can.
“I am all yours.” Will says and leaves unable to look back.
Blue is upgraded on the way home which is small comfort. He realizes he has a lot of miles after this summer’s trip, his momma used his loyalty card for all the flights. He figures might be able to get some free trips in to Will if he’s flexible. This cheers Blue up. He’s been worried about money. He’s reluctant to use his savings, even for Will. The money he has left he needs to get going with his business. He knows he’ll resent Will if his own future has to go on hold.
Mike collects Blue from the airport, a gesture that Blue really appreciates. He sees Mike as a father figure more and more. Finding Abby, Gladys and Mike have been the best thing about landing here.
“What are you thinking?” Mike asks.
“Oh just that you Gladys and Abby treat me like family, or how I think family should treat each other. I love it. I just wonder why it never happened for me at home. I helped out lots of older people but none took to me the way Gladys and Abby have. Those two are always pushing me to be my best and they don’t shy away from asking for favors now they know me.” Blue says.
“I expect your momma’s influence kept everyone a step away.” Mike says.
“I know, I’m just kind of sad that it took me until I was 20 to find a grandmother, now I have two.” Blue grins.
“You treat them far better than a lot of grandkids do.” Mike says and pulls up to Blue’s house.
Wilson is there, painting the front of the house, it looks amazing.
“Wow, this is incredible.” Blue says getting out, eyes shining.
“I sold some of that furniture you gave me for far, far more than I knocked off your bill. The wife has been nagging me to help you out. She’s still grateful for Christmas. Mike asked me to check on your chooks Friday and I thought painting the house was the perfect thank-you.” Wilson says.
“You must let me pay you for the paint.” Blue says.
“We had enough between us.” Mike says gruffly.
“Thank-you. You can at least let me make you a dessert.” Blue says.
“I will never turn down one of your desserts, the kids love anything chocolate.” Wilson grins.
“Leave it with me. I expect they’d enjoy some ice-cream samples too.” Blue grins.
“Even when it is frozen out.” Wilson laughs.
“Thanks for the ride Mike.” Blue grins.
“Any time. Come up for supper on Wednesday.” Mike says.
“Can I bring anything?” Blue asks.
“Yes please, whatever you like.” Mike grins and Blue waves as he leaves.
“I’m about done here. The place looks good. I love what you’ve done with upstairs.” Wilson says.
“It’s a bit lonely right now but it’ll be full this summer. I can’t wait.” Blue grins.
“You’re always welcome at ours if it gets a bit lonely. The kids are always excited to have someone else to play with.” Wilson grins and Blue grins back. A night babysitting might be just what he needs.
Blue drops his bag inside and puts a wash on before checking on the chickens. Having chores to do keeps his mind off Will. He receives a stream of funny messages from Spence and Andy, the two are clearly back to being close and Blue hopes they find their love again.
Blue keeps himself busy all week. He’s at the bakery or up at Arnolds working on the ice-cream in real conditions. Ella and Nick mostly leave him alone, other than suggesting flavors now and then. Blue has 6 that he is totally happy with. Left to work alone on his recipes he’s loving the process.
On Tuesday he stops at Wilson’s house on the way home with some ice-cream and a big tin of cookies and brownies he’s made.
“If you guys need a babysitter one evening, just ask. As long as Will isn’t here my evenings are mostly free.” Blue says.
“I wasn’t hinting.” Wilson says embarrassed.
“I didn’t say you were. I’d love to see you as a family but I know sometimes you might want to call on someone outside the family.” Blue says.
“Thank-you. We’d love to just go to a movie sometime, without having to justify it.” Wilson says.
“You have my number.” Blue grins.
“Thanks for the treats.” Wilson says.
The next night Blue bakes some onion rolls and a pecan pie to take to Mikes with the days ice-cream a beautiful caramel swirl to go with the pie and a blood orange sorbet. Blue is pretty proud of what he’s produced. Arnold isn’t sure about making anything dairy free but Blue has insisted then need both a dairy free and a fully vegan line to cater to everyone.
“Can I pop these in the freezer?” Blue asks letting himself in.
“Of course, you know where it is.” Mike says.
Blue places the pie and rolls on the counter and Mike grins.
“Is that a hint to get the pecan trees planted?” Mike asks.
“No it is a tasty pie for us to enjoy.” Blue smiles.
“Heidi is bringing Abby and Gladys up. I’ve a fish pie in the oven, my mothers recipe. Something Abby can eat with her gums and you can eat. I’m really enjoying cooking again, can’t always leave it up to you and its something Tad and I can enjoy doing together.” Mike grins.
“It smells really good.” Blue says.
“Hello, hello. Ooo its cozy in here, bitter outside.” Gladys says coming in slowly with Abby and Heidi behind her.
Blue helps her with her coat and gloves and gets her sat down as Mike helps Abby.
“I thought we needed a supper with no shop talk.” Mike says and Blue grins.
“We want to hear all about Las Vegas.” Abby says.
Mike serves up and Blue talks about all he did with his friends as they enjoy the food.
Blue scrapes some pie filling out for Abby and puts it on ice-cream and gives the others normal servings.
“I know we said no shop talk but this is a winner, this caramel. But is it not too sophisticated?” Abby asks.
“For the kids maybe, for their parents no and I hope for the foodies it is just right. It’s the sort we’d look at selling in the deli.” Blue says.
“And using in fancy desserts.” Heidi says and explains about their ideas for date night menus and nice desserts aimed at adults.
“You two always pushing it. Well both these are perfect for that. This blood orange is just sharp enough, not too sweet.” Gladys says.
“It won’t stay in my freezer long that is for sure.” Mike grins.
“Your combined talents are wasted in the bakery and parlor. You need to be doing more than soup, bread and dessert.” Abby says.
“One day. We both want a rustic restaurant where we grow a lot of what we cook with and source as much as we can locally. It’s a pipe dream for now but on our five year plan.” Heidi says.
“What five year plan?” Blue laughs.
“Well its on mine.” Heidi grins.
“My friend Spence is going to invest if we find the right place.” Blue says.
“He is?” Heidi asks and Blue nods.
“More than a pipe dream then.” Mike says.
“We have a long way to go before we’re growing enough and find the right place.” Blue says.
“And I only just expanded the bakery and we have this ice-cream to deal with.” Heidi laughs.
“And I need more training. I signed up for cooking classes which start in a few weeks.” Blue says.
“I admire you both, so young and determined.” Mike says.
“We’re lucky to have talents. We want to use them. Neither of us is looking to get rich, we want the continual challenge.” Heidi says.
“I loved farming. I farmed my whole married life and I’d do it today if my bones would take it. Do what you love.” Abby says.
“I love baking bread but it isn’t enough. I love creating and I will always work on something new but I want that to be more than a new type of loaf. I’m enjoying passing my skills on and hopeful the bakery will need less and less of my time.” Heidi says.
“My friends always said I should open a patisserie and sell my desserts and cakes but I always knew it wouldn’t be enough. I love working with Heidi, making the soups and cheesecakes. I’m enjoying the ice-cream now the stress of making the practical business side work is out of my hands. But I want something I’ve made all myself, whether that is growing the veg for a restaurant I part own or the wine or both.” Blue says.
“Oh you will. I knew you were a go getter when you started mowing my lawn. Not like the other young men who blow through town looking for work.” Gladys says.
“My luck changed when I met each of you four. I feel very lucky you needed help with your shopping.” Blue says with a smile.
Later that night he tells Will all about the meal with his friends and how supportive they are. Will is a little distant and Blue worries he’s boring him.
“What’s up?” Blue asks.
“Sorry my mind slipped elsewhere.” Will says.
“What’s bothering you?” Blue asks.
“Just working on my plans. I’m having the surgery here and rehabbing here. It’s a great facility and I think my best shot for getting back to fitness fast.” Will says.
“You won’t rush and hurt yourself.” Blue says.
“No, I won’t. Its after that that I’m torn. Do I stay here and train go back to my old gym? Should I go to the National Training Center so I get a room and access to great recovery suites and the best trainers? Is it suicide to find a new coach now?” Will asks all the questions in his head aloud.
“I know he isn’t a top coach or an Olympic prospect but call Spence. You two got on so well before I came on the scene. You know he will be looking into every top coach in the country and have an opinion about best fit for you.” Blue suggests.
“You think he’ll talk to me?” Will asks.
“Yeah and he’ll be totally honest with you.” Blue says.
“Thanks babe. Sorry for being out of it.” Will says.
“I’m sorry for prattling on when you’ve got real things to talk about.” Blue says.
“I like hearing about it all. I love the idea of the restaurant. I can just imagine being there in September with cold soup made from the best tomatoes and incredible fish with purple potatoes you pulled that morning smothered in gooey cheese you made yourself. Mmmmmmm.” Will grins.
“Washed down with apple juice pressed from my fruit.” Blue smiles.
“Or a glass of your wine.” Will grins back. He strongly believes that Blue can do anything he wants to and he’s excited to be standing by his side when he does.
On Saturday morning Blue is up early running errands for Gladys and Abby. He hates either of them being out when it is cold and icy. He cooked for them the day before after his shift at the bakery and they gave him a list. He drops everything off and makes them a fresh pot of coffee before leaving.
Not wanting to go home he steps into the bakery, the morning line has cleared and its busy but not too crowded. He gets a coffee turns to find a seat and drops his cup. Coffee splashes all over him but he doesn’t notice.
“Are you okay?” Heidi asks.
“Yeah just had a shock.” Blue says.
“Come and sit down.” Clara says from a table in the corner.
“Who is that?” Heidi asks.
“My mother.” Blue says.
“I’ll bring you another cup.” Heidi says.
“Thanks.” Blue says still rooted to the spot.
“She’s tried both your soups and had a slice of cheesecake.” Heidi whispers and Blue smiles.
“Did Andy tell you where I was?” Blue asks sitting down, angry, happy and utterly confused.
“I always knew. You can’t really think I’d not look for you. I made sure you were okay and left you to it.” Clara says.
“So why clear out my room? Why act like I didn’t exist?” Blue asks.
“Your personal things are packed away in the attic. We needed the room. It was a practical not an emotional decision. I chose not to talk about you with your siblings around as it hurts and given the rejection they have been through they needed to feel they had my full attention.” Clara says.
“Hardly reassuring to know your mother can drop her resident child like that. Must be quite frightening for them. Though they are so arrogant I suppose they think it would never happen to them.” Blue says.
“Quite. I love your siblings, they are my children just as much as you are. But I am not blind to their faults, you know this.” Clara says.
“Why are you here? Why now?” Blue asks.
“Whilst I am entirely happy with you gifting the second house to Gervais and I am entirely happy with how he has handled things and the rent he is asking. It did create a difficulty. With Bea and Chris unable to be human beings about things they need money again. Neither is able to stick to my conditions for long, you know that. I only agreed to cover their rent to the level Gervais was asking.” Clara says.
“My sibling are awful gold diggers. I know that. What has that got to do with you visiting?” Blue asks.
“When did you get so impatient?” Clara asks with a smile.
“When you arrived.” Blue says back.
“I see. Your siblings looked for alternative money sources. Neither would think of doing anything normal like get a workstudy position or flipping burgers. They have sold our story to a magazine and it is snowballing. They are going to be doing TV interviews, have a book deal on the table and I came out here to warn you.” Clara says.
“Makes no difference to me. I don’t read magazines, buy trashy biographies or watch television.” Blue says.
“Others do. They tell one untruth about either of us, Gervais or Andy and I will take legal action.” Clara says.
“I don’t care what they say. I don’t. Man its not like any journalists are going to be able to get to you. I bet there are trees down on the main roads in right now and everyone is using the secret retreat road.” Blue says and sees a spark in his mother’s eye.
“But they might find you.” Clara says.
“No one here will believe anything bad about me. They’ll close ranks.” Blue says.
“You need to warn your friends if you have anything to hide. I have spoken to your college friends and I asked them to let me tell you. Is there anyone else?” Clara asks.
“Oh hell I better tell Will.” Blue says.
“Will?” Clara asks.
“My boyfriend. He’s a gymnast, trying for the Olympics so has a public profile.” Blue says.
“Call him now while I use the rest room. Then you can show me around.” Clara says and Blue nods.
He calls Will who laughs.
“Always drama with your family. I don’t know how you are so normal.” Will giggles.
“Just be aware if anyone asks about me. I doubt they will I’m just not interesting. I guess triplets separated at birth is the sort of thing that gets people hooked in and so we could be a nine minute wonder.” Blue says.
“It seems so silly but yes I’ll be careful. I always am. I’ll let the national staff know too. Your sibs don’t know we’re together so its unlikely we’ll get linked.” Will says.
“That’s true. I trust the four not to say anything. I worry most about Andy really.” Blue says.
“Me too given how Chris went for Gervais after they broke up.” Will says.
“I bet they leave that part out.” Blue says.
“Are you okay? With the hellbitch arriving?” Will asks.
“Calmer than I thought I’d be.” Blue says.
“Be careful. You owe her nothing.” Will says.
“I’ve had no time to think. I don’t know what I feel.” Blue says.
“Call me later. I love you.” Will says.
“I love you loads. Thanks for not going mad.” Blue says.
“It isn’t your fault and I can’t see how it reflects on me. The absolute worst case is we have to keep us on the down low until my gym career is over. As we would both rather be in your house than anywhere else, I don’t see that that is a big deal.” Will says.
“I would hate it, but could live with that.” Blue says.
“So are you going to show me your house?” Clara asks coming back to the table.