“You best go to sleep.” Gervais say noticing Blue can’t keep his eyes open.
“Sorry.” Blue says.
“You’ve been up all night, no need to be sorry. Do you want something to eat first?” Gervais asks.
“No, I brought you some bread and cinnamon rolls, not iced but they’re still good.” Blue says reaching for his bag. Chris grabs the bag from him.
“Is there a coffee maker in here?” Chris asks.
“I’ll go get some from the lobby. Ocean I have groceries for you. Chris I got basic clothes for Blue, they should fit you too.” Gervais says.
“Thank-you. I didn’t think, I brought hardly anything with me.” Chris says stroking Blue’s sleeping back.
“I’ll go get the coffee.” Ocean says and Gervais nods.
“How are you doing, really?” Gervais asks.
“The first couple of months I was so angry. I was in a new school and I was doing okay in class you know? Better than before. I watched Will at worlds on TV and thought about how Blue should have been there and how much more he had lost.
It gave me a huge wave of empathy for everything I’d put him through as well as what we were going through together. I realized I didn’t have it so bad. I got through school and got relocated, I’d a job lined up near my school but Will put paid to that. I didn’t mind that move.
Every move after that ate into my savings and opportunity to earn a decent living. Thanks to you guys I had a good idea how to live frugally but it was grating, demoralizing. I worked hard for my degree and it was useless. I couldn’t even tell the truth about where I went to college.
Casual work or my own business was my only option. I suddenly felt lucky that I’d had that summer at the lake and knew Andy’s business so well. I felt at home on farms but after the last close shave I moved into landscaping.” Chris says.
“Here is coffee. Shall we start looking at land?” Ocean asks.
“Is that the plan, buy some land, are you still loaded?” Chris asks.
“Totally, more so than before. I put everything from the business aside for Blue. I inherited a lot from Abby too, which is also intended for Blue and I own a large share in the business and Blue’s house, which I’d like to keep for Ocean.” Gervais says.
“You don’t have to.” Ocean says.
“Don’t be silly kid, we all loved that house and you living there will make Blue happy.” Chris says.
“Exactly you need it for summers anyway.” Gervais says,
“So the three of us are going to buy a farm? Ranch or something?” Chris asks light bouncing in his eyes.
“I was thinking vineyard.” Gervais says.
“I’m in. If it doesn’t spoil your love nest.” Chris says.
“Like Blue says we’re not together.” Gervais says.
“But you will be soon.” Ocean says and Chris winks at him.
“Wow these are good.” Chris says dipping his bun into coffee.
“I missed Blue baking and his pasta. My mom makes great pasta but I still missed watching Blue in the kitchen. Gervais and I still have overnight oatmeal and we bake a lot but we’re still not as good. Now I’m here in college I am in total awe of how Blue pulled together those Sunday dinners with cheesecake for dessert. No idea how he did it.” Ocean says.
“It was what he did. We managed a fair few parties at the farm. Your mom and I made a pretty great graduation feast for you not so long ago.” Gervais says.
“Yeah but Blue was 19 and catering for 10 to 20 people. It was unreal, you had a nice kitchen in your dorm but it was still tiny compared to home. I’ve been brought up around food and I don’t think I could do it now.” Ocean says.
“I was impressed back then but you’re right kid it seems unbelievable now. When we get our place I think a big pot of paella on the stove and a cheesecake would be a perfect housewarming.” Chris says.
“Except Blue is vegan now.” Ocean says.
“That is going to change.” Chris snorts.
“You’re both so thin. I would have thought you’d be all muscular with the farm work and landscaping.” Gervais says.
“I’m the boss, I mostly use the ride on mower and I don’t do the heavy lifting. Lazy maybe but also I’m the boss.” Chris says.
“So you also have a business to tie up.” Gervais says.
“Its not worth shit. One of the guys will no doubt take advantage and take over.” Chris says.
“Like Robin.” Ocean says.
“What’s the story there?” Chris asks.
“Robin worked his way up, saw an opening and took it. Took advantage of Blue leaving and the turmoil in Arnold and Mike’s families.” Ocean says.
“I saw that Mike married Ella. What happened to Nick?” Chris asks.
“Arnold disowned him. Ocean do you want to get us more coffee?” Gervais asks.
“Oh come on Gervais, I am old enough to hear this.” Ocean says.
“Go get some coffee kid, you might be old enough to hear it but G doesn’t want to be faced with your questions.” Chris says and Gervais smiles and Ocean gets up reluctantly.
“Thanks. Nick and Norm had a pretty kinky relationship, and Norm was happy being a sugar daddy and didn’t like Nick working at the firm. Didn’t like that Nick was a superior to Saul, that didn’t work with the dynamics of their relationship. So Nick left the business which was strike one with Arnold.
Now you know Arnold wasn’t adverse to non-standard relationships but he totally lost his shit when he saw pictures online of Nick in diapers. That was strike two.
Then Norm died, huge heart attack when at a party with a lot of drugs, big scandal due to who else was allegedly there, it was held in a politicians, people leaving before the police came etcetera. Nick wasn’t there and Arnold wanted Nick to distance himself from Norm and the whole situation.
Of course it was sensible advice but badly timed as Nick was grieving, not just for Norm but because Norm has this whole other life of sex parties and the like that Nick wasn’t a part of. They had a huge row and Arnold washed his hands of him.” Gervais says.
“Poor guy. I guess after Nick quit Robin made a case for himself to hoover up all Nick’s roles and when Ella was getting married and having babies he took on hers and when you were all grieving for Abby and on.” Chris says.
“Exactly. I know that is how things work and someone had to take charge and all that but it felt underhand, right from the start, not in keeping with the business philosophy. Trading on being Blue’s best friend.” Gervais says.
“What Blue would have wanted.” Ocean parrots coming back in.
“Where is Nick now? Is he okay?” Chris asks.
“He does porn and manages a building of mine. Ella won’t have him in the house which has delayed any reconciliation with Arnold. Liberty still sees him and so do Ocean and l.” Gervais says.
“He was always hot. A building you own?” Chris asks.
“Abby had a lot of real estate. Including several apartment buildings. Nick lives in one and manages it for me. He’s good at it, not a handy man himself but knows all the right people and is friendly and my tenants like him.” Gervais says.
“But that must causes issues for you and Arnold. Is that why you rely on Ollie and Claud?” Blue says sleepily.
“Sorry did we wake you?” Gervais says gently.
“I need to pee.” Blue says and pads off to the bathroom.
The three look at each other worried. Blue not looking like himself is bringing out the nurturer in all of them. Gervais knows Chris needs just as much care and attention but it is Blue they are all worried about.
“How much did you hear?” Chris asks when Blue comes back.
“A little. So are you and Arnold having difficulties?” Blue asks.
“Arnold is grateful that Gervais has given Nick a job and home. He just can’t be seen to say so as it upsets princess Ella.” Ocean says.
“Ella was always lovely.” Chris says confused.
“Not since she got Mike to disinherit Larry and Tad she isn’t.” Ocean says.
“Wow. Ahh because she thinks her kids come first. So Tad and Larry lose out on their mom’s estate too.” Chris says.
“Bingo. Something Larry can’t forgive.” Ocean says.
“I can’t imagine Mike doing that. He wanted Tad and Larry to have the farm.” Blue says.
“He has more kids to put through college now. He didn’t disinherit exactly but Ella would be able to live there for life and then its split 4 ways but of course Tad and Larry won’t necessarily outlive Ella. Of course it’s a long way off as Mike is still alive and well.” Gervais explains.
“But still it isn’t what was expected and I can see Ella’s side too looking out for her kids but it’s a huge blow to Tad’s life plan and Larry never wanted to take on the physical farming he did want to do some of the management though.” Blue says.
“What happened to Larry?” Chris asks.
“We don’t know. He sends a Christmas card but that is all.” Gervais says.
“I need to sleep.” Blue says wearily.
“Yes you do. We need to eat. We’ll be just up the street. Will you be okay?” Gervais asks.
“Yeah.” Blue says and climbs back into bed.
“There is a good noodle place up the street. Chris and I will go and get takeout. You stay here with Blue.” Ocean says.
“It is really good to see you kid.” Chris says outside.
“You too. I’ve been so worried for so long.” Ocean says.
“Messed up your childhood my family. Bastards.” Chris says shaking his head.
“Not really. It was never going to be conventional and I was shielded from the worst.” Ocean says.
“How does he seem to you? You’ve seen him the most.” Chris asks.
“Not good, he’s pretty broken but Gervais will fix him and you. You’ll heal together.” Ocean says with certainty.
“I hope so. Did it work out with Andy and Spence?” Chris asks.
“They are very, very happy. Both crazy workaholics but they support each other through everything. I wish I should find someone who made me a tenth as happy.” Ocean says.
“I feel a bit like Gervais, you know Will and Blue were perfect together but Blue was the only one for G. I feel like Andy and Spence are perfect together but Andy was the one for me. Now G is going to get my bro and have his happy ever after.” Chris says sadly.
“You and Larry were good together. Maybe you should track him down and include him in the new venture.” Ocean says.
“Nah he was fun but not the one for me. I’ve met a lot of guys and none have been worth a third date. Gervais and Andy were great to be around all the time. Just like you and my bro are too. I guess I like smart guys who like to have fun and they are hard to find when you’re working in my line of business as I don’t really fit the bit of rough stereotype.” Chris says.
“Like I don’t fit the dumb jock mold, my hippy roots shine through too much for the jock guys and the earthy types think I’m a superficial athlete. We both need people who judge less.” Ocean says.
“At least it helps us rule them out quickly. I’m still young, I have loads of time and maybe my situation might become stable and I’ll have something to offer. You keep looking, college is much more fun with a boyfriend.” Chris says.
“Or girlfriend.” Ocean says.
“Oh please, you might have dated girls but you like men.” Chris says.
“I like both.” Ocean says.
“But you had a huge crush on Blue from when you were small and you loved having all of us as big brothers but girls rarely got a look in. All you wanted as a kid was to get to sleep over with us.” Chris says.
“I dated Jane for ages in high school. You accept Robin is bi.” Ocean says.
“I guess. But I know you’ll end up with a man, just as Robin will end up with a woman.” Chris says.
“Probably. But I’ll not limit my options.” Ocean says.
“How is Gervais doing? I never read anything about him, so I thought he’d moved on.” Chris asks on the walk back.
“He’s had some rough times. He is a lot better now. I would never have come so far away for school if he wasn’t. I was worried about him being lonely, I think having Will and Aled or Andy and Spence checking in regularly makes him more lonely, more aware he’s single you know? So when I saw Blue I knew I had to risk getting them together, its good for both of them.” Ocean says.
“It was worth the risk. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully live out in the open as myself but it feels like the time to try a little bit more freedom. I can’t thank you enough for this.” Chris says.
“I didn’t do anything for you.” Ocean says baffled.
“A happy accident.” Chris says.
“Yes. I can trust you to take care of both of them.” Ocean says.
“And I can trust you to suss out the situation with my sister and momma?” Chris asks,
“Of course. Once you’re gone I’ll talk to them both and report back. Do you want to see them?” Ocean asks,
“Yeah I do. I really want to know how much momma knew and when. I get the feeling she suspected years ago and knew for sure later. I always wondered if she was behind the arson just to get them caught. I strongly suspect that in that last year she was on a mission to trap them.” Chris says.
“She’s the hardest person in the world to read, so good and so evil. Still she misses you and Blue terribly and honestly I think it would break her heart to know how lonely and unhappy you both are. That neither of you has been able to live up to your potential.” Ocean says.
“She lost us before we disappeared but Blue and I have done the best we can with the circumstances. It is no accident that we look the same and have had the same experiences with dating and working. We have both done the maximum we can given the circumstance, we’re not failures.” Chris says.
“I’m not suggesting you are. I get that getting out of bed and not falling into a pit of addiction is the best you can do. I’m not judging you. I am mourning what should have been. I bet your grandfather paid Clara to have the babies. I bet he only paid for two, one of each,” Ocean says suddenly.
“Geeze Ocean, you don’t half know how to drop a bomb.” Chris laughs.
“Sorry, I’ve thought it over for years. None of the stories ever made any sense.” Ocean says.
“Even if she was paid for us, she did an amazing thing and deserved every penny. I’d bet it was money that made her go ahead, despite not having had her own kids yet, and she later turned it down. I’d even bet dad wasn’t all evil and didn’t let mom adopt us to keep us from being related to Grandpop.” Chris says.
“You’ve had a lot of time to think too.” Ocean says.
“Yeah. Come on lets get this up before it gets cold. Thanks for the chat, you’re a really smart kid. And you’re by far the best on your team, keep it up. I don’t know why you got such poor scores last season, don’t let the politics put you off.” Chris says.
“Thanks. Spence and Will say the same, Spence was spitting mad which didn’t help. But I don’t care enough to be bothered. I’ll enjoy college gym and then move on.” Ocean says.
“Blue leaving sure made you resilient.” Chris says.
“For sure.” Ocean grins. They both stand in the doorway of the room and let out involuntary aww sounds.
Blue is fast asleep hugging Gervais as close as a toddler does his teddy bear. Gervais is awake and smiles at the pair.
“You look happily trapped.” Chris says.
“Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. But I am starving.” Gervais says wriggling out of Blue’s embrace.
“You two always fit.” Ocean says sorting out the boxes of food.
“Made me feel eighteen again.” Gervais grins.
“Well you’re going to have to be a twin sandwich tonight.” Chris grins.
“Oh please you are so sleeping in the other bed.” Gervais laughs.
“You take care kid. Keep in touch with G.” Chris says as Ocean gets ready to leave.
“I’ll wake Blue. He won’t want to miss saying goodbye.” Gervais says and gently wakes Blue up.
“I’ll walk you back.” Blue says groggily pulling on some clothes.
“Thanks.” Ocean says.
“Things are not going to be easy keeping us secret. If you do slip up please let us know.” Blue says.
“l kind of like keeping you secret. I don’t want to face the third degree from the others. I also don’t want to deal with Robin.” Ocean says.
“Yeah we all need some time to decide what to do about everything. The house is yours though, you love it as much as I did and Abby would want you to have it, she loved you.” Blue says.
“Thinking about it coming from Abby makes it feel better. I might tell Gladys, she can still keep a secret. I think she worried about you as much as G did.” Ocean says.
“I think that is a good idea. You need someone to talk to and Gladys will never betray me, Just be careful who can hear.” Blue says.
“I will. You can trust me weather boy.” Ocean says and Blue grins.
“I can’t thank You enough for what You did. Getting me Gervais and Chris was beyond anything I could ever have hoped for. Take care and enjoy college as much as you can.” Blue says.
They unpack the groceries and Blue takes a last look round ocean’s room, lingering over the photos.
“Do you want to take some? I can get more printed.” Ocean asks.
“Yes you can. Here take this one of the wedding, and this one of my graduation. And this one of me with Abby and Gladys.” Ocean says unpinning them.
“Thank-you. You’re such a special kid. See you soon, I promise.” Blue says and they hug goodbye.
Ocean picks up the loaf that Blue brought for Gervais and smells it, it brings back hundreds of memories of being in the kitchen with Blue.
Ocean sits on his bed and picks up his Phone to call Will.
“Is he okay?” Will asks.
“He will be. Are you?” Ocean asks.
“Yeah, I’m still in shock.” Will says.
“Did you tell anyone? He doesn’t want me to tell the others.” Ocean asks.
“I didn’t even tell Aled. I went up the top of the garden to call last night. Please keep me updated, let me know he’s safe and well.” Will says.
“I will. He said tonight before leaving that I’ll need someone to talk to. We both forgot you knew. I just need to know if I can talk to you, that it isn’t too painful.” Ocean says.
“It’s a relief you know it is. Of course you can talk to me about him, about anything, anytime.” Will says.
“Can you guys keep an eye on the house and the chickens. Gervais won’t be back for a while. I think we can tell people he’s taken a vacation.” Ocean says.
“Okay, talk to him and text me the details. We need to have the same story. Are you handling this okay?” Will asks.
“Yeah I am. I am elated that he’s back in my life, even if it won’t be often, being able to text him the last few weeks has meant everything.” Ocean says,
“He’s a very special guy. It’s hard for me to even look at Aled right now, I feel like I jumped the gun with everything. I love my kids to the end of the world but I know I made the wrong decision to move on when I did. It is going to be very hard for me to work past this and I am not sure my marriage will survive.” Will says knowing he shouldn’t be talking to Ocean like this but knowing he has no one else, and crucially knowing Ocean won’t judge him.
“Aled loves you. If you don’t love him you have to let him go, and you have to make that choice without the influence of your feelings for Skye. Having your parents split up is not the end of the world. You need to remember how you felt when you first met Aled and what made you marry him, It wasn’t some need for kids. was it because you loved him or because you were so desperate to close the door on B? To punish him for not coming back?” Ocean asks.
“You are way too wise for your years. I have a lot of thinking to do. A lot. Thanks Ocean. You looked terrific at the meet the team. I had a chance to watch the whole thing back this evening. I hope you’re planning on winter cup. Let me know if you need me to enter you.” Will says.
“Don’t worry, I will be going coach.” Ocean laughs.
“Sorry, I was trying to distract myself and let you know you looked good. I can’t wait to see your full routines come season.” Will says.
“Thanks. I had 2 cinnamon buns today, no frosting, they were the best thing I have eaten in years.” Ocean says.
“Now I am seriously jealous.” Will says,
“That is why you want a divorce, you never got to eat his food with abandon after you retired. “ Ocean laughs.
“That is exactly it. If Aled could bake I wouldn’t be having doubts.” Will laughs.
“See you soon Will.” Ocean says.
“Keep in touch, I’ll get the kids to send pics of the chooks.” Will says and reluctantly hangs up.