“I have a team dinner now. Maybe we could meet tomorrow afternoon, I know you’ll have work Skye, G is staying a few days.” Ocean says hopefully.
“Do you have a hotel?” Blue asks,
“Yes, and Ocean I will see you for breakfast at the dorm, we can firm up plans then.” Gervais says, he is clinging to Blue’s arm as they chat to Ocean.
“Have a good night.” Blue says and kisses Oceans cheek. Ocean hugs them both and runs off to be with his team mates.
“When did he find you? How? Is this why he came to school here?” Gervais asks as they walk to Blue’s car.
“Like two weeks ago he walked past me in the street. We had coffee and we went fishing the other weekend. He told me none of you were coming today. That I’d be safe. You know I might have to move on now.” Blue says.
“Surely not. Bea manages. She left the program and has been safe. You could come home.” Gervais says.
“I don’t want to take that risk. Bea is her own look out. I can’t risk your homes and businesses and I can’t risk Chris’s life either.” Blue says and Gervais nods.
“Ocean called you Skye. Is that your name now?” Gervais asks.
“Here I am Skye, who knows who I’ll be next.” Blue says as they enter Gervais room. He’s in a functional chain hotel close to campus.
“I was so proud of Ocean out there today. He’s struggling with school just like we did. The volume of people and classes being not what he expected. We prepared him too well. He’s so like us, a total sponge and so smart. George and I loved being able to work with him.” Gervais says.
“Ocean said he sees you like his dad. It sounded like he felt pretty let down by Mike and you stepped in. I’m so proud of you for doing that. I thought you’d have your own kids by now. Ocean caught me up on everyone, I know about Will.” Blue says.
“We all thought you’d come back after the trial. He waited for you. He had options after the Olympics too, nothing major but he could have gone into the agent route that he originally planned. But he stayed with us, was a part of the family, that didn’t change.
He met Aled online, not a dating site but a sports site and Aled visited and never left. They had the barn, I did what we’d planned, two homes that could be made into one, he had one and Robin the other. Robin has long moved on and it’s one family home for them now. Ocean and I contemplated swapping but we both felt we wanted to hang on to the house just in case you came back. We both believed you’d come back.” Gervais says.
“It’s your home. Thanks for all that you did, buying it and my share of the businesses. I hope it didn’t stop you from doing what you wanted. I felt kind of guilty tying you down.” Blue says.
“Are you kidding? Blue I was honored to help. I put aside my share of the profits from the businesses in an account for you. I figured if I didn’t find you it would go to Ocean. We could start over, we could buy a ranch and just be us.” Gervais says.
“I gave up on hopes and dreams years ago. You don’t know me and I don’t know you. We’ve been apart longer than we knew each other. More than twice as long. I’m not that guy any more. Keep the money, use it for good.” Blue says.
“If anyone can bring you back its me and Ocean. We never gave up on you and we never will. Consider it. Please.” Gervais begs.
“Tell me about you, what happened after I left. I know you took care of Ocean but I expect his version of events are different. What happened with Robin? Ocean seems to dislike him. And Katelyn? She must be a senior in college or did she graduate already?” Blue asks craving more news from home. Needing to change the subject from his impossible future.
“I went to see Randolf before I even knew you were gone. He was great and he wasn’t allowed to tell me what was going on, it was easy to guess. I’m afraid I didn’t tell the others. Will had come over because you’d been in a fight and he and Robin had called the police about you being missing. The police gave them some weird message about you being okay and adults being able to leave. I told them you must have gone like you always did. I regretted that, I always did.” Gervais says.
“But given burger girl and Jett you didn’t trust Will not to have been a part of it.” Blue says and Gervais nods.
“I know it sounds stupid and paranoid. I knew you trusted me. I knew that you were asking me to buy you out so your mom couldn’t get her hands on your house. I believed that meant you wanted to come back.” Gervais says.
“I trusted you, Andy, Spence, Robin and Ocean and that was about it. I knew all your families, knew you weren’t plants. My heart was true to Will but I worried how we met again was too perfect. I was questioning everything, even Abby and Gladys. My gut told me to trust Cheryl though I wasn’t sure, especially given how long she knew momma. I wanted her to stay around for you. I’d not have blamed her for taking Ocean to the lake and getting back with Willow. She must have thought about it.” Blue says.
“She did and it was the end of summer display at the gym that stopped her. She saw Ocean and just how good a gymnast he was, how much he was improving and she knew she couldn’t let him quit. She moved him over to your place, back to his room, he was struggling before you left, after was very difficult. I almost didn’t go back to school. But he soon settled back down, he may have slept with one of your hoodies for a year and we had a yoga call every morning. That helped us both.” Gervais says.
“That’s so sweet. I am glad you had each other.” Blue says.
“I was a mess after you left. I guess I felt the most alone and the most directionless. I studied night and day and didn’t go out much that last year. Graduated third in my class. Cheryl and Ocean came to graduation, and Robin’s family was there of course. It was Robin’s mom who made me do it, I would have skipped it like high school.” Gervais says.
“I wish I had been there. I got my degree too. After the safe house I was sent to school.” Blue says.
“And you had no one there. I can’t believe they split the three of you from the start. Did you ever try to find them?” Gervais asks.
“No. What did you do after graduation?” Blue asks.
“I moved back. I sold the house at school. I hope you don’t mind. It was too complicated to keep it going, Spence did the same. With your mom not being at the lake you know.” Gervais says.
“We owed her nothing. We didn’t, not by the end. Don’t feel bad at all.” Blue says.
“I don’t. We can’t help everyone and we don’t owe anyone accommodation at school. So I moved back, we all lived between the two farms to start with while we sorted other placed. Roe and Katelyn bought a place closer to school and the gallery.” Gervais says.
“That went well? The art project? Birch has a couple of pictures in the modern art gallery here. I see he’s a big deal.” Blue says.
“He is. His showing launched the project. Roe spends more and more time at the lake now Katelyn is or she says she’s going to the lake but goes to wherever your momma is I guess.” Robin says.
“How did Cheryl and Marsha happen? I mean Marsha was straight and married, I thought.” Blue asks.
“No idea, suddenly they were together and happy and expanded their business. They are happy, Ocean loves them together and so do l.” Gervais says.
“So we’ve sidetracked enough. What about you?” Blue asks.
“I potter. I keep the kitchen garden going and the chickens, Andy has the rest of the land. I worked on Heidi’s project for a while and I run a gardening club and yoga class over at the school for kids with autism. I volunteer with charities that help kids in the system get in to college. Until a few weeks ago I took care of Ocean. I did date after you left, not a lot and nothing lasted more than a few weeks. Then when Will found Aled I stopped. I don’t know how conscious it was. He stopped waiting so in my mind you were single and I started waiting. Presumptuous I know. You could have been with someone or not want me at all.” Gervais says.
“And you want me now? All skinny and bitter about life?” Blue asks.
“I want what Spence and Andy have, what you had with Will, Ollie and Tad. You know a strong friendship and a relationship built on mutual support. I’ve not found anything close and it is hard not to compare everyone to you. Sometimes I’d look for you on apps, you and Chris I suppose, hoping if I put in your height and the whole country that one day you’d show up. Neither of you ever did. I knew I couldn’t actively look for you. What happened to your cousins was awful. But I still had alerts on cheesecake and soup and gingerbread. Just in case.” Gervais says.
“I told Ocean I made my soup for a dinner party once. But I’ve never made another cheesecake or gingerbread house. I make myself soup to eat, I live on hot and sour soup to be honest. Make a vat on a Sunday night.” Blue says.
“You don’t look like you eat at all. Worse than when Andy got skinny.” Gervais says honestly.
“I know. Its all part of not caring isn’t it? I’ll not actively try and end my life but I won’t do anything to prolong it. Oh don’t worry I’m not an addict or anything. I always worry that Chris might be. I hope he completed his studies and is a vet somewhere.” Blue says.
“You always loved food. I know it is no fun with no one to cook for. I really miss having Ocean and Will at home. I try to have Andy and Spence round once a week, Roe too if she’s about,” Gervais says.
“Not Robin?” Blue asks.
“Robin and I don’t talk. At all. Well no every few months he offers to buy my share of the business and I always say no. I own more than half and he hates it. I bought your share and I inherited from Abby and Heidi sold me hers too. She needed the cash and didn’t want to sell to Robin or Arnold’ Gervais explains.
“Why don’t you talk? And as you don’t talk and own that much of the business why haven’t you ousted him?” Blue asks.
“l hated how he capitalized on your situation. Your ice-cream had gone fully national and there were plans for a new factory. We fell out over it badly and never made up. I don’t like who he has become. He was made CEO before I got Abby’s share and I can and do veto anything I really dislike and that pisses him off more. It is petty and vindictive but I let him keep his job because he knows I could take it away.” Gervais says.
“So you run the show really?” Blue asks.
“No way. But I do go to board meetings and I do participate properly. I usually get the inside line from Ollie and Claud first and go with what they want. I try and keep well out of it. Like I said all the money is put aside for you, its all built on your foundation.” Gervais says.
“I’m pretty mad at Robin too. Feels cold.” Blue says.
“Mercenary.” Gervais says.
“Yeah. I mean I only have yours and Ocean’s side but Ocean is rarely wrong. I bet Robin would say he was doing it for me but there is no way in hell he’d relinquish the job to me.” Blue says. Not that you ever wanted to be CEO.” Gervais says.
“No but it would be pretty funny if you told the board you had a candidate and brought me out.” Blue grins.
“I would die.” Gervais grins.
“You could tell them you’d sold your entire share.” Blue grins.
“I could sell it. We’ve been approached many, many times and I have refused to sell, Claud and Arnold always back me on that but in a few years when they want to retire it could be different. I always said no for you. But if you don’t want it back then we can sell.” Gervais says.
“You shouldn’t have waited for me.” Blue says.
“I had to. Blue I couldn’t have a life without you.” Gervais says and the pair hug. Blue feels a spark of happiness that he hasn’t felt in years.
Gervais phone rings.
“Where is he?” Will asks.
“What?” Gervais asks.
“I saw you in the background of a picture, with him.” Will says agitated.
“I didn’t know he would be there. Can you get the pictures taken down? Are they official ones? I’ll call Ocean.” Gervais says and Blue looks terrified.
“Can I talk to him?” Will asks.
“Can Will talk to you?” Gervais asks.
“On your phone. Sure.” Blue says.
“Hey.” Will says.
“Hey. Congrats on the wedding and adoptions. I am so glad things worked out for you.” Blue says.
“He isn’t you.” Will says.
“No but you love him and have a family and we might never have worked out.” Blue says.
“Why didn’t you take me with you?” Will asks.
“You would have had to give up your dreams, all of them. I couldn’t ask that. I begged to be allowed to call you, to see you to say goodbye. I had no idea it would be for so long. No idea at all. I wished I could have had you with me. I loved you more than anything, more than anyone ever and I never got over it. But I am glad I didn’t ask you because my life is shit and it would have been shit for you too. I could never have lived with the guilt of putting you through this.” Blue says honestly.
“But we’d have been together.” Will says.
“But you’d not have been to the Olympics and you wouldn’t have your kids so it worked out. At least for you.” Blue says.
“I feel like we’re having the same argument we had before you left. You filtering what I get to hear, what decisions I got to make. I would have given it all up and gone with you. Thank-you for making the right choice. I was young and naive and you’re right I wouldn’t be without my kids.” Will says calming down.
“Or husband.” Blue says.
“I’d not be without the kids.” Will says ensuring the door is open.
“I hope things get better between you. I guess three kids is a lot of work.” Blue says.
“It is but worth it. Are you coming back?” Will asks.
“No, I have nothing to come back for.” Blue says and Gervais looks at him sadly.
“I had to move on.” Will says softly.
“Yes you did. I am not angry with you at all. I might be with some of the others but not you. I left you, I might not have had a real choice but I did leave you. I can’t come back anyway. Not really, it could mess up Chris’s life as well as mine and I never want to put anyone in danger again.” Blue says.
“I would like to see you. I’ll be up for a meet or two.” Will says.
“I’ll not be able to go again but if I get to stay I would love to see you.” Blue says.
“Feels like we just broke up. Stupid for me to say as I’m married.” Will says.
“Closure, we both needed closure. I loved you so much and I am grateful that you loved me as much as you did. I didn’t let myself think of you, it was too hard but knowing how much you and Gervais had loved me kept me going, I knew in my heart I was worth something.” Blue says.
“Oh Blue you are worth so much, you mean so much to so many people. Value yourself, love yourself. I hope tonight doesn’t cause problems for you. Oh Blue I do wish you’d come home, we all need you back.” Will says.
“I can’t Will. I can’t interrupt everyone’s lives and expect you all to make space for me. Even if it were safe for me I wouldn’t put you all through it.” Blue says.
“You’re too selfless for your own good. Take care of Gervais, he needs a friend, we all worry about him.” Will says.
“I will. Take care Will.” Blue says and ends the call.
Blue collapses on the bed and sobs, letting seven years of emotions out. Gervais is talking to Ocean and watching Blue, his heart breaking for him.
Gervais has spent a long time trying to understand how things would be from Blue’s side but he’s always believed Blue would be doing well wherever he landed. Imagined Blue would make new friends and be okay. He’s never imagined that Blue would be too heartbroken to function.
“Ocean is sorting the pictures, everything is going to be fine. Let it all out babe. Must be like losing Will all over again.” Gervais says gently.
“You’ve all moved on and time has just stood still for me. It feels like forever and just yesterday that Will and I couldn’t even make it inside the apartment before we were fucking. I loved Will so much. We might have had difficulties but he made me want to work on things, he was way too good for me, out of my league but he loved me. I should have done something. I should have risked it to be with him.” Blue whines.
“But you couldn’t. You know that. Maybe you could have come back, or sent for him somehow but if you had and something had happened. You know all this. You’re a very smart man and an incredibly selfless one. But you’ve done enough. We’re going to start over, friends or more, I don’t mind but we are going to buy some land and make wine just like we always dreamed. The ice-cream and soup were meant to be a means to an end. They have been, you have enough money for a vine yard and the equipment. Lets do it Blue.” Gervais says.