Clara arrives Sunday evening after Blue has returned from dropping off Will. He’s always a little down after and Cheryl is letting Ocean stay up a little late to distract Blue with a game of monopoly,
The three are happily playing and drinking hot chocolate when Clara arrives with her bags.
“You’ll need to find a room upstairs.” Blue says.
“It is okay for me to stay?” Clara asks.
“You should have asked that before you got here. But yes. It’s fine.” Blue says with a grin.
“Chris asked me to give you this. I’ve not read it and I promise I didn’t ask him to do it, or suggest it in any way. Clara says handing Blue an envelope.
Blue looks at it and contemplates tossing it in the fire.
“Did you make it clear it wouldn’t change anything?” Blue asks.
“I have told them to have no expectations from you. That me losing my privacy is very different to you losing yours. They still don’t entirely understand what they did and how it could affect you long term. To an extent Chris seemed to think that he had done you a favor as you got the compensation money. He was quite surprised when I explained that the amount was so high because he could have ruined your ability to work.” Clara says.
“Ahh so he’s after my money. I thought getting what he was owed from Paul would be enough along with what he’s made so far.” Blue says.
“You brother doesn’t know what enough money is. Funny how he can volunteer his time without question, never begrudges not being paid by the shelters or vets or farms. But he expects money to fall in his lap from everywhere else.” Cheryl says.
“Yes it is like he doesn’t associate work with money.” Clara laughs.
“Did he give Bea her share of the settlement?” Blue asks.
“Yes, I made sure of that. Bea is certain she’ll be in graduate school for many, many years and asked me to help her put the money away for then.” Clara says.
“But you’ll pay for that.” Blue says.
“I might.” Clara says.
“They won’t calm down and heal until you stop with the ultimatums.” Blue says.
“You, Andy and Katelyn cope with my conditions just fine.” Clara says.
“About money for school I did. Not the rest. They totally fucked me up.” Blue says and Ocean’s eyes grow wide.
“Sorry buddy. Probably bed time.” Blue says getting up and clearing the cups away.
“I’ll show you your room, Blue is downstairs because of Will.” Cheryl says and Clara nods.
“I’ll always love you Blue.” Ocean says hugging his big brother.
“You too buddy.” Blue says picking him off the floor and squeezing him tight.
Blue wakes in the night to find Ocean lying at the foot of his bed.
“Get in properly kid.” Blue says, thankful he has shorts on.
Ocean scrambles up the bed and when Blue wakes again in the morning finds Ocean sprawled across him.
Blue eases out of bed, grabs a sweater and builds a new fire in the kitchen. He picks the letter off the table and sits on the sofa to read it.
I know you don’t owe us anything and that our current estrangement is our fault but please reconsider the triplet study and therapy.
Maybe not for right now, you’re right Bea and I have a lot to sort out but please reconsider it for down the line. I think it will be kind of interesting for us to find out what we have in common and what our differences are. What we share that Bea doesn’t. What you and Bea share, like the brains and why I missed out on that. I’m totally trying to appeal to your science geek side, given that is something all three of us share.
I know you’re concerned for your privacy and I guess Will is a large part of that. I get it now. I didn’t for the longest time. I liked the notoriety at school for a while until guys started selling sex stories about me and professors started commenting. Genie is out of the bottle and I can’t do anything but apologize.
Even if you won’t consider it, please think about getting in touch.
I can’t imagine us going through life without a relationship. We missed out on growing up together and I don’t want our kids to never know each other, our spouses, our grandkids. I’ve lost the family I grew up with, there is no way back with Paul and the rest have rejected me. I only have Bea and Clara now and I miss you.
A year ago we were getting closer. You’d moved on from my terrible behavior and we had found common ground. I was devastated when you left, I know taking it out on Andy didn’t help and will have given you more reasons to hate me. If it means anything my relationship with him was very real and I’ve never loved anyone that much before.
Momma told me to give you space. Told me I needed to show you I can change and then let you come to me. But I can’t wait that long. We’re twins dammit and that means a lot to me, I thought it did to you too.
I’m not asking for money or support or a place to stay. Just a call now and then to catch up.
Weird he’s calling himself Kit again. Another new start or way of getting some privacy back? Blue ponders. He isn’t moved to change his mind at all. He has always been curious about their traits, he and Bea spent ages dissecting them when they first met but Blue has no idea how much of that was real and what was fake and that is the main issue with his siblings. He has no idea when they are real and when they are fake. He has no idea what Paul and Lana feel about him. If his grandparents really wanted to meet him that time or what the story is with his aunts and uncles.
But Blue has put all those questions away, locked tight. He knows that one day he might want to deal with them. That one day he might be ready to confront them but not now and certainly not on Chris and Bea’s terms.
The question of their own kids is interesting. He fully expects if he has kids that they would mix with his college friend’s kids, they would become a large extended family. But Chris is right, he would want to know any offspring that Chris and Bea might have, and he’d want his kids to know their aunt and uncle, and for Clara to be able to host all her grandkids. But that is years away.
“Tea?” Cheryl asks coming in.
“Yes please. Ocean is in my bed.” Blue says.
“I hope he wasn’t a bother.” Cheryl says.
“No, I think he was worried about me. He’s sound asleep. Why are you up so early?” Blue asks.
“I’m coming to the bakery with you. Your mom will take Ocean to gymnastics.” Cheryl says and Blue nods.
“It’s a shame you and momma didn’t have kids at the same time. You’d have balanced each other out.” Blue says.
“It is nice to have you both talking and under the same roof. I was on your side, had been for longer than you know but Clara is a very good friend and has helped me over and over.” Cheryl says and Blue nods.
“You and Roe are two of the only people who have pushed through from being helped to being friends who don’t take her shit.” Blue says.
“Well Roe and I are very alike and know which battles to pick with her. I think we all know despite all her faults she is incredibly smart and outside her family incredibly kind and the magnetism from that makes her an engaging and entertaining friend.” Cheryl says.
“I think we’re long past the worst.” Blue says.
The pair get ready and head to the bakery, picking Ollie up on the way.
“Ollie you could have told us you hated being up front.” Blue says.
“It was part of the job, I knew that. I love Monday soup day though.” Ollie grins and the pair set to work while Cheryl helps Heidi.
With Cheryl’s help they get the prep and baking done in record time and Cheryl makes up a few batches of her marmalade buns to try out on the breakfast crowd.
“Blue told me about the plans you two have for a farm to table restaurant.” Cheryl says.
“If he can trust me again we want to push ahead in a year or two. Get the parlor up and running and see how the food businesses do.” Heidi says.
“We’ll keep looking for a property. Spence wants to invest. It might be we find somewhere but don’t open for ages.” Blue says.
“How are the deli plans going?” Heidi asks.
“Good. Wilson is going to send a team in next month and we’ve ordered the chillers and everything. I’ve fully resigned at home and Clara has bought up my share of the building so it can continue as a co-op for now.” Cheryl says.
“You did what?” Blue asks.
“Even if it doesn’t work out here, I am done there. I need to work day hours or I’ll miss out on Ocean entirely. Here I can work around his gymnastics and work from home and I already have a huge support network. You know my need to make more money was at odds with the others at home.” Cheryl says.
“I didn’t know. I always thought of it as solely your place as you did ninety percent of the running. It wasn’t much of a co-op.” Blue says.
“Exactly it had lost its way. You and Willow were the most regular teachers and I was the only regular cook and server. The collaboration had died and as I owned most the building it all fell to me. I needed out and your momma, as ever facilitated that.” Cheryl says.
“The boys will be missing your food. I think you’ll be in as much demand as me this summer.” Blue grins.
“Well they are in luck as will be using them to test out a lot of recipes. Marsha is great and has a lot of good options already but I will want to cook a lot too.” Cheryl says.
“I’ll be interested to see how you affect lunch trade. Marsha gets my overflow a lot, when we’re out of sandwiches.” Heidi says.
“Yes she said you improved her trade rather than reduced it. I hope we’ll be the same for you. It seems there is a growing vegan population in the area and they will be who we target along with healthy evening meals. Of course we need you to supply bread. How have your apprentices been getting along?” Cheryl asks.
“Well Ollie is by far the best of them but he’s not dead keen on bread and is only doing soup Mondays. No one else could hack the early starts or showed enough talent. I’m looking for someone new.” Heidi says.
“My cousin Freddie would love to do it. But he is autistic and wouldn’t cope out front.” Ollie says quietly.
“I know Freddie, has to have his soup reheated so it is scalding hot.” Blue says.
“That’s him. He could do soup prep too. Actually all prep, he loves chopping and peeling and mixing.” Ollie says.
“Would he manage early starts?” Heidi asks.
“He barely sleeps. Do you want to talk to his mom? He’s an adult but it would probably be best if you checked with her first. She will know what he can and can’t do.” Ollie says.
“What’s her number? I can give her a call. I know I need a full time baker. I love it but have so much more I want to do.” Heidi says.
“And if not here then we can use him for ice-cream. Not so much fun but it is all methodical and straightforward.” Cheryl says.
“Oy no more stealing my staff.” Heidi grins and then opens up.
Freddie comes in for a test session with Ollie and Heidi while Blue and Cheryl handle things out front. Cheryl loves being back customer facing and has a blast. Freddie’s mom waits nervously in the corner. When it quietens down Cheryl gets her to sit at the coffee counter.
“Has he worked before?” Cheryl asks.
“He’s tried a few things that haven’t worked out. He’s been taking various classes at community college and he has loved the food prep ones. But finding someone to take him on has been hard. I was hoping when your soup business started you’d have space for him. He hates the cold so ice-cream was no good. I’d ruled here out because Ollie said you had to do serving.” Freddie’s mom Bianca says.
“If it doesn’t work out here. We’ll have a prep job at the deli, I’m opening a second branch with Marsha, we thought ice-cream too but you’ve rules that out. If he has any friends who are similarly struggling to get work send them to me or Abby or Blue. We can’t fill jobs fast enough.” Cheryl says.
“I’ll ask around.” Bianca says.
Cheryl and Blue head in to the city to meet Clara and Ocean for dinner.
“I read the letter. What are you going to do?” Clara asks.
“Nothing.” Blue says.
“I’d rather you didn’t do the study.” Clara says.
“I know and I’d rather you didn’t give your opinion on it.” Blue says.
“Are you saying you don’t want him to do it because you thinks he respects your view or because you think he’ll be contrary?” Cheryl asks.
“I promised to stop the manipulation.” Clara says.
“Well I am not thinking about it or expending any energy on my siblings. The letter changes nothing so we don’t need to talk about it. How was gymnastics, Ocean?” Blue asks swiftly changing the subject.
“It was good fun. I like it a lot but I am going to be so sore.” Ocean grins.
“We’ll have to shop for some more bath bombs.” Blue says.
“Yes please.” Ocean says.
“I wish you got on so well with your real brother.” Clara says.
“Mike said the same about his two. I think Blue and Ocean get along so well because they choose to be brothers.” Cheryl says.
“I have a lot of brothers.” Ocean nods.
“I’ll pick you up from gymnastics tomorrow. We need to get you a bike helmet anyway.” Blue says.
“Yes I do.” Ocean says excitedly.
In bed later Blue calls Will and tells him about the letter.
“I’d put it away and re=read it in a few months. See what his actions are first.” Will says.
“Yeah. I’m just too busy to deal with them right now. And they have finals looming. So do you. Everything done?” Blue asks.
“Yes. Nothing outstanding for any course. Just finals and then I am free to be with you.” Will says.
“And rehab?” Blue asks.
“My shoulder is doing better than my knee. I’m trying new exercises and they’re confident I won’t need more surgery.” Will says.
“Good. Just don’t do too much.” Blue says.
“I’ll be fine. Honestly I will be careful. I miss you already boo.” Will says suddenly sounding softer.
“I miss you too. I wish I could come up this week but I am jammed.” Blue says.
“I know and you have the market this weekend. I hate being apart but just a couple of weeks now.” Will says.
“I know. I can’t wait. Thanks for my soup. I had so many people ask what the smell was tonight.” Will says.
“I love that I get to look after you from afar.” Blue smiles.
“It’s like you’re kissing my belly from the inside.” Will grins.
“I wish your cock was kissing my belly from the inside right now.” Blue grins.
“Tell me more baby, tell me more….” Will grins and Blue hops up to lock his door.