“Ben saw Arthur today.” Caroline says at the dinner table.
“Really? How is he? He sent me a lovely Christmas card.” Pat’s mum Barbara says.
“Okay that is weird.” Pat says.
“Why, he always sends a card?” Barbara asks.
“He’s Ben’s ex. And you barely knew him.” Pat says.
“You brought him to ours many times. He was your closest friend and we considered him part of the family. Don’t re-write history to suit your future.” Barbara says.
“You boys need to understand that because you don’t want him in your lives any more doesn’t mean we don’t. I know you two are married and I support that. I truly do. I see how you are a better suited couple and how in love you are. But Arthur is a good man, I counted him as a son for fifteen years, he was there for the family many times. Ben might not love him anymore but I still do.” Angela, Ben’s mum says.
“Exactly you two have moved on but we haven’t, the kids haven’t.” Gary, Ben’s dad says.
“You too?” Ben asks.
“Yes me too. Arthur and I talked often and it is hard not to have him around. Gavin is here tonight as we all see him as family. It feels strange without Arthur.” Gary says.
“Maybe next year.” Ben says quietly.
“Man you can go some.” Joe says.
“You too.” Arthur says with a big grin on his face. Whether Joe moves in or not there was no way they could hold off having sex. It was great.
“Want to go again?” Joe asks excited to have found someone who can keep up with him.
“Mmm.” Arthur says running his hand over Joe’s hairy arse and then his finger down the crack.
“Oh fuck yeah.” Joe groans as Arthur replaces his finger with his tongue.
The pair explore every inch of each other for hours until Arthur suggests they shower and go to church.
“I thought you were an atheist.” Joe says.
“I am but I always try and go to midnight mass, makes it feel like Christmas.” Arthur says.
“You could have just got a tree.” Joe says.
“Utterly depressing to have no gifts under it.” Arthur says.
“Church it is. Be warned I will sing out loudly.” Joe grins.
“Oh me too.” Arthur grins. He might never have caught religion the way his family did but the rituals calm him and he thinks it will help him be able to face the next few days. He and Ben always went to a large church near their home. This year will be different.
Arthur takes Joe’s hand as they step outside. Joe looks at the older man and smiles. He knows this can’t go anywhere but it sure feels nice to have someone comfortable enough to hold his hand after only a few hours.
They are a little early but not the first to arrive. They are handed candles on the way in along with hymn sheets and take a seat half way down. It’s a small chapel and soon fills up. The organist is blasting out carols and Christmas tunes and it feels quite jolly despite being in the dark.
The choir enter and the candles get lit as they parade in and placed into holders, it’s beautiful and Joe and Arthur share a smile.
Arthur lets the familiar words wash over him and spaces out during the short sermon. Joe watches Arthur throughout, trying to get a grip on who this guy is. He has welcomed a stranger into his home for Christmas even though he is clearly in a lot of pain. All Joe knows is he wants to know more.
Ben wakes up and reaches for Pat, it is Christmas morning and they have no commitments until visiting his sister and the kids after lunch.
“Gerroff I’m hungover.” Pat says pushing Ben away.
“It’s been two weeks and you’re either drunk or hungover. I need real cock dammit.” Ben complains.
“Fuck off and sort yourself out.” Pat grumbles.
“I’m sorry about earlier.” Pat says over breakfast.
“Will it change?” Ben asks.
“Don’t be a nag. If I wanted to be married to a woman I would have married Gavin.” Pat says and Ben gasps.
“Don’t be a cunt. I’m a man, with a healthy sexual appetite. You’re so attractive, I want you all the time. My dildo isn’t cutting it. Why don’t you want me?” Ben asks.
“We’re nearly 40, we’re not newlyweds any more. Why can’t you slow down?” Pat asks.
“Because I am a horny fuck who loves sex, I thought you did too.” Ben says not sure how he can make at want him again.
“I do, I just hate you grabbing me all the time. I’m never horny first thing. You need to reset your sex clock and let me come to you.” Pat says and Ben sighs. Ben will do as Pat asks but he isn’t sure it will work, he might be waiting a long time.
Joe reaches for Arthur when he wakes and Arthur grins.
“Ride me big boy.” Arthur murmurs and Joe groans as his cock leaps at the thought.
Joe considers himself a top, a vers top but mostly a top. Yesterday they pretty much took turns and it was awesome, Arthur was skilled both ways and Joe felt he was getting the true benefit of being with an older man. He lubes himself up and lowers himself on, hungry for what Arthur has to offer. A gorgeous 7incher, uncut, nicely curved to hit Joe perfectly where it counts.
Arthur is just awake enough to know it is Joe and not Ben who is up there. He grins at the younger guy taking control and enjoying himself. What a great way to start Christmas.
The pair enjoy a shower together after where Joe pounds Arthur. Together they make a big lunch and watch some TV.
“Lets go for a walk along the river.” Arthur suggests after they are stuffed from dessert.
“Sure, sounds good. Can I borrow a sweater or five?” Joe asks.
“Shit were you cold at church?” Arthur asks.
“It was pretty snug in there. But the walk home I thought I died.” Joe grins and Arthur points him at his dressing room.
“Help yourself.” Arthur says.
“I can’t believe you have all this space. You’re like Cher in Clueless.” Joe says.
“I know. I fell for this place because of the terraces and view but the dressing room had me paying asking price.” Arthur says.
“You bought it outright?” Joe asks awed.
“Yeah.” Arthur says not wanting to expand.
“All power to you. This city is crazy expensive.” Joe says.
“I love it though. I thought about moving away, I had no ties here anymore but I couldn’t do it.” Arthur says.
After Joe wraps up they head out and enjoy some fresh air.
“Uncle Arthur, Uncle Arthur.” Three little ones shout and run into his arms.
Joe smiles at the scene and then bristles at the sight of Ben and a women.
“Look mummy, Uncle Arthur is here. Have you come to help feed the ducks?” The oldest kid asks.
“Mummy said you wouldn’t be coming.” The middle one says.
“It’s just a happy accident. I thought you would be on the common.” Arthur says loudly while hugging all the kids.
“We thought it was time for a new tradition. I suppose you did too.” Ben says.
“Why didn’t you come to my party?” The littlest of the kids asks tugging at Arthur’s jacket.
“Oh I’m sorry Maisie. Did you have a lovely party? I wish I could have been there.” Arthur says not wanting to give an excuse, even to a 6 year old.
“Thanks for their gifts.” Caroline says.
“Yes thanks Uncle Arthur we’re going to buy supersoakers and a water slide for the summer.” The eldest says.
“I‘m hoping they’ll have forgotten that plan by summer but they feel very grown up to have their own credit cards as they think they are.” Caroline laughs.
“I figured toys r us would get them something fun. You can get them boring things.” Arthur grins.
“Yes the John Lewis vouchers will be very useful Thank-you, you really didn’t have to.” Caroline says.
“Of course I did.” Arthur says and accepts Caroline’s hug as Joe and Ben look on awkwardly.
“Well we want to see more of you. Mum and Dad too. We’ll fix something up soon.” Caroline says.
“I’d love that. Where is Pat?” Arthur asks.
“He’s snoring like a train. Snorrrrrrre Snorrrrrrre.” Masie says making huge noises.
“He’s napping after lunch, he ate a lot.” Ben says and Caroline rolls her eyes.
Joe tries to distract himself with the kids, helping them sort out their bags of seed to chuck at the ducks. He’s keeping a close eye on Arthur and his reaction to Ben. Ideally he’d like to just push Ben in the river.
“And how are your parents?” Arthur asks.
“Really good, happy to be retired. Mum looks heaps better.” Ben says.
“I’m really glad. I’m sorry if it was weird me sending cards. I didn’t want them to feel like I was mad at them. They were so good to me.” Arthur says.
“They loved it and they miss you. Can we meet up and talk some time?” Ben asks.
“With the kids sure.” Arthur says.
“No, I need to..” Ben is cut off by a huge clap of thunder and it starts to pour down.
“Shit, we’re going to be soaked.” Caroline says.
“Come to mine it’s the closest. I think Joe brought some hot chocolate with him.” Arthur says and Joe nods and they all hurry to Arthurs flat.
“Wow.” Caroline says as they get inside.
Arthur is suddenly tense and unhappy at Ben being there. He grabs towels for everyone to dry off and shows the kids round while Joe makes hot drinks.
“How long have you two been together?” Caroline asks.
“Ah we’re not a couple we just met yesterday, a mutual friend introduced when he realized we would both be alone today.” Joe says watching Ben for a reaction.
“He’s a great guy, you couldn’t do much better.” Caroline says.
“He’s amazing but totally not over your brother.” Joe says quietly.
“He’s worth hanging on for.” Caroline says and Joe smiles at being married off after a day, he knows it isn’t Arthur’s plan and it isn’t his either but it’s nice to have someone in their corner anyway.
“I only had the one glass at lunch. I can drive you back.” Arthur says.
“Except you can’t fit us all in.” Ben says.
“I have a seven seater. It’ll be fine.” Arthur says.
“Why do you have a mumobile?” Ben snorts,
“I have a 2 seater and a 7. Its not a mini van, it has an extra row of seats that can be flipped up. I wanted something with a lot of boot space.” Arthur says not bending to the teasing and helping Joe hand out the drinks.
The kids sit at the table and fall silent. Arthur hovers uncomfortably and Joe does the same.
“Sit both of you. This doesn’t have to be weird.” Caroline says.
Joe chats away to the kids and Caroline, she seems very easy going and it stops him from grabbing Ben by the throat and dropping him off the side of the building.
“Please can we talk sometime, without the kids? I need to explain some things.” Ben pleads.
“The time for explanations was a year ago.” Arthur hisses.
“I’m sorry. There was so much I didn’t get then. You know how slow I can be.” Ben says and gives Arthur that look, .the puppy dog that can’t be turned down.
Arthur looks away, looks at Joe and Joe gives him a big grin.
“Why don’t we drop the kids off and go for a drink.” Arthur says knowing it will be better to get it over with.
“What about Joe?” Ben asks.
“He can come too or stay here, he might want a nap.” Arthur says.
“If you want me to be there I will babe.” Joe says territorially.
“I think so.” Arthur says.
“Can you come to my party next month Uncle Arthur?” The eldest Jake asks.
“No that’s not fair.” Masie shouts.
“I expect you mum already has it all planned sport. “ Arthur says.
“We’re doing laser quest. You could be on my team.” Jake says.
“You’ll just want your friends on your team. I am far too old to be running around.” Arthur says.
“I don’t know.” Joe grins.
Ben goes white with jealousy for a second and then checks himself. He has Pat.
Ben, Joe and Arthur grab a table in a pub near Caroline’s place. Pat was still asleep when they dropped the others off so Ben is glad to stay away.
“What was so urgent you had to wait a year to tell me and fuck up my Christmas?” Arthur asks once he sits down with the drinks.
“I just want to explain. It was only a couple of months ago I realised that Pat had time for me because you were covering for him and taking on his work. I never felt neglected not really I knew you were working hard for us. I just need to apologize. I have been mad at you for not getting over it, for not being friends with me like Gavin is but I finally get just how much you lost and I truly am sorry. You didn’t deserve any of it.” Ben says.
“Look mate. He knows how much he lost, he doesn’t need a cunt like you reminding him. You’re saying all this shit to make yourself feel better. Did you ever think of him when you were together or were you always a selfish cunt?” Joe says unable to hold it in.
“Wow you don’t hold back.” Ben says.
“Why Pat? I could have forgiven an affair with anyone else. Why my best friend? Why take him and his family away from me too?” Arthur asks.
“You would have forgiven an affair?” Ben asks shocked.
“Yeah, I knew things weren’t perfect but I had my head in the stand as I knew we were so close to getting what we dreamed of. Of course you still got that but just had Pat to give it to you instead, while only putting a fraction of the effort in.” Arthur says bitterly and Joe cringes at just how raw Arthur’s feelings still are.
“I know. I just. Fuck I can’t make anything any better can I? I didn’t know I’d be fucking your life up so much. I’m sorry. I wish I could have done things differently.” Ben says.
“Whether you fucked around or not the outcome would always be the same with Pat. I am not going to sit here and try and make you feel better. I hate what you did to us. I hate how you replaced me. I hate how it’s like those 15 years meant nothing. I’m going home I can’t do this. Tell Caroline I’m sorry and I won’t be able to see the kids again. I need to move on, completely move on. Ready Joe?” Arthur asks.
“Yeah come on babe.” Joe says.
“Can you drive?” Arthur asks outside.
“Sure I only had a coke. Worried you might be in a state.” Joe says.
“I will be in about two minutes.” Arthur says.
“Hey don’t mind me. I’d have rammed his head into the wall if I was you.” Joe says.
“Have you got gbh convictions you’re hiding?” Arthur asks.
“No, all my violence is in my head, and occasionally the bedroom.” Joe laughs.
“Good to know.” Arthur says sniffing to hold back the tears.
In the car Arthur can’t stop the tears falling and can barely choke out the carpark code when they get back.
Ben walks back slowly feeling more and more guilty. Why did he chose Pat? No Pat chose him, why did Pat chose him knowing what would happen. Knowing that Arthur would be so royally screwed. Fuck how could he treat the man he loved so casually? How could Pat have treated Arthur so badly after all they had been through together? Was he jealous? Had he planned it? Does he love Ben at all? How could he have married a man who treated his closest friend so badly? Who the fuck has he been kidding this last year?