Blue wakes at 6am to 23 missed calls on his work phone. He laughs then tosses the phone in the hotel bin. Feels good to have had a lie in. Feels even better to have Gervais in his arms. He takes in a big breath to smell Gervais neck and grins to himself. Gervais still looks 19 or 20 and probably gets asked for id all the time. He hasn’t suffered early hair loss like many blondes, not that Blue would have cared if he had.
He looks over to the other bed, Chris sprawled out starfish style. Blue smiles some more. They have hope. The three of them will survive this and things are going to get better, they already are a million times better already.
He squeezes Gervais and gently kisses his ear to wake him, a gesture he’s made a hundred times and feels so natural.
“Mmm that feels nice.” Gervais whispers.
“No, no funny business while I am in here. You are still my bro and my ex and its icky.” Chris shouts suddenly awake.
“I hope we have separate rooms at the next place.” Blue says.
“We have a 2 room suite, I was feeling fancy. Plus it has a jetted tub and I figured you’d both love a decent soak.” Gervais says,
“I love you.” Blue whispers and Gervais heart jumps out of his chest.
“I’ll go shower.” Chris says walking to the bathroom.
“Can I kiss you?” Blue asks.
“You don’t need to ask.” Gervais says turning and kissing Blue. They both feel their chemistry snap back I to place and they jolt apart.
“Wow.” Blue says.
“I knew you were still my Blue in there.” Gervais says.
“I hope I can be.” Blue says and moves in again for another kiss.
Gervais runs his hands over Blue’s face and tries to take in the changes. Blue has aged and his face is thinner but still very handsome, beautiful.
They move apart as the water stops and get ready to use the bathroom themselves. Gervais gets out the clothes he bought for Blue and puts an outfit on Chris’s bed for him.
“Thanks G.” Chris says coming through wrapped in a towel.
“I am going to do a Spence and take you two shopping this week. I bet neither of you have treated yourself to anything nice in years.” Gervais says.
“Shopping, lunch at some junky Plastic chain and an evening watching movies and eating popcorn.” Blue says.
“You great girl. Sounds perfect.” Chris says.
“I am starving.” Blue says.
“Ocean took all the food, including the leftovers and the bread you brought for me. So lets shower and I’ll buy you breakfast at the airport.” Gervais says.
“Okay.” Blue says with a smile. He likes Gervais taking charge like this.
The three are soon at the airport drinking coffee, Chris and Gervais are eating pancakes as Blue picks at some fruit.
“Wow it is hard to feed a vegan in the airport.” Chris says.
“Sorry.” Blue says.
“Bro I’m not mad at you. I was just saying.” Chris says.
“Sometimes I can get oatmeal made with coconut milk. It is utterly rank but I eat it and sometimes places stock my ice-cream.” Blue says with a grin.
“I ate the vegan sort by mistake once and it was good. I could live on that.” Chris says.
“Did the diner work out?” Blue asks suddenly.
“Yes, still going strong. It impacted Heidi’s bakery initially but she adapted and now both businesses thrive. I don’t eat there, I still feel like the parlor could have been restored and would have fit the town better. Ollie hated it too. It was quite divisive in the business and everyone was happy for Saul to buy it.” Gervais says.
“I loved the parlor and you guys didn’t deserve what happened.” Chris says.
“Feels so long ago. The beginning of the end our birthday was.” Blue says.
“Yeah.” Chris says.
“Have you two celebrated a birthday since?” Gervais asks.
“Nah, our dates of birth change each move.” Blue says.
“Lets hope no one looks too closely at us and our id today, we have the same face and birthdays 3 months apart.” Chris says laughing and grabbing Blue’s license.
“Yes Hugo.” Blue laughs.
“We need one last id with matching names and birthdays. Do you think they will do that for us?” Chris asks.
“I hope so but I have no idea. They usually say if we leave we’re on our own.” Blue says.
“We’ll sort something, we don’t exist any more.” Chris says.
“I just need the bathroom.” Gervais says getting up. He slips over to a store and grins to himself.
“So are you two official now?” Chris asks.
“No but I want to be. I daren’t though, I need to pull back until we work out our plan. I can’t let myself fall and lose him again.” Blue says.
“Bro if we have to start over he’s coming too. You must be as sick of this shit as I am, having no friends, no chance at love or a career. We cannot go on like this. The three of us are a unit whatever happens.” Chris says.
“I don’t think I would have survived another move. I don’t think I would have lasted another year. How about you?” Blue asks.
“One more, maybe 2. I didn’t see me making it to 30.” Chris says honestly.
“Feels amazing and shit to say that aloud.” Blue says.
“It is fucking scary. Not wanting to die, not wanting to live.” Chris says.
“Existing. Please don’t tell Gervais just how bad it is.” Blue says.
“He loves you and he wants to get you back on your feet. I wish I had someone who loved me like that.” Chris says.
“I don’t want him to know until I know we are safe and able to get on with our lives. Then I’ll be open with him. Thanks for holding back so far.” Blue says.
“We’re just so alike. I knew exactly what you needed and you are letting me stay, join you. It makes it harder for you but you’re letting me stay.” Chris says blinking back the tears.
“I have to. I can’t go another year worried you’re shooting up in a parking lot.” Blue says.
“Thanks for believing in me.” Chris grins.
“Don’t tell me the thought hasn’t crossed your mind about me.” Blue says.
Chris nods and the pair hug as their flight is called.
“I got us all headphones.” Gervais says as they sit down.
“Oh my God. When I was going to Australia Gervais gave me a care package, which included headphones. Thanks babe.” Blue grins and shows a little more of his old self.
“I never did get to Australia.” Gervais says.
“We should consider travelling before settling down. I mean there is no rush to get into business. Why don’t we go see the world?” Blue says.
“Bro? For real?” Chris asks.
“It’ll take time to sort money and stuff. Why don’t we head to Hawaii and Thailand and New Zealand, wherever we fancy.” Blue says.
“Why don’t we?” Gervais asks.
“Coz I’d be the ruddy fifth wheel.” Chris says.
“I think Hawaii sounds better than holing up in city hotels.” Gervais says.
“And you’ll find playthings.” Blue says.
“Oh I am all for it. I really am, I just don’t want to piss all over whatever you two are getting on.” Chris says.
“We’ll be figuring things out wherever we are, why not in Mexico?” Blue says.
“I’d prefer to be somewhere where hit men are harder to hire.” Chris says.
“Who is the smart one now?” Blue laughs.
“Do you really think you’re at that level of risk?” Gervais asks.
“Whoever killed my cousins is out there. Rivals of Grandpop are out there.” Chris says.
“Jett is back out there.” Blue says,
“And we have no idea who the full network is or was. I get that Bea is out and alive but you all know just how protected things are up there. People won’t accidently put her picture up because there is hardly any cell service and waiting for wifi gives people a moment to remember not to. We might have been able to live that life but we’d have been resigning ourselves to always being single.” Chris says.
“Well you might, I’d have moved for Blue. But I get it. I do. You’d happily have made your life at the lake if you had a partner or you’d qualified as a vet. Blue would have been unhappy there whatever.” Gervais says and Blue nods.
“So we all fancy a trip to Hawaii. I was always jealous of Andy and Katelyn.” Blue says bringing the conversation back to something lighter.
“Agreed. I fancy some sunshine and fruity drinks.” Chris grins.
“And Blue might eat more than 2 grapefruit segments.” Gervais says.
“It wasn’t good.” Blue says.
“We’ll find somewhere nice for lunch.” Chris says.
“Will we be able to check in early?” Blue asks.
“We might. We can drop our bags at least then go shopping for vacation outfits.” Gervais smiles.
Gervais checks his phone when he gets off the plane and smiles.
“Ocean is suggesting he tells people I have gone on vacation. Is it okay if I say Hawaii?” Gervais asks.
“Yeah, no need for you to lie. You can send pictures, just make sure we’re not in them.” Chris says.
“Cool. I am getting excited now. This fancy hotel is going to be a letdown.” Gervais giggles.
“I doubt it. You’ve promised me a big bath tub. I’ve not had a bath in years.” Blue says.
“Blue you didn’t have to deny yourself everything.” Gervais says.
“What, get a hotel just to have a soak? No thanks, I’d have jumped off the roof.” Blue says.
“Blue.” Chris says worriedly.
“Skye. Hugo, its Skye.” Blue says frustrated.
“I’m sorry.” Chris says shaking his head.
They get the train into the city, change lines and walk the last couple of blocks to the hotel. Gervais has clearly memorized the route. It is practically check in time by the time they get there.
They have a huge one bedroom suite with a connecting room making it in to two and giving Chris some privacy. There are amazing views of the lake and Blue is more than happy with the bathroom.
“Foosball. Man you are spoiling us.” Chris laughs as he checks out all the fancy things in the suite.
“Lets go and get some food and shop a little.” Gervais says.
“I’m kinda tired and a bit worried about being seen together. Can I stay and soak and you guys bring me some food?” Blue asks.
“Okay. True about us being seen together. You trust me with the clothes?” Chris asks.
“Yeah, I’m just exhausted.” Blue says.
“What food do you want?” Gervais asks.
“Some salads, some greens, no dressing and some grains of some sort. Make sure there is no cheese.” Blue says.
“Okay. Do you want some nuts or something for a snack? And some juice?” Gervais asks.
“That sounds really good, thanks G.” Blue smiles weakly.
“What’s the betting he eats one piece of lettuce and 3 nuts?” Chris says in the elevator.
“You’re worried too? I worry being vegan is a smokescreen for him having an eating disorder, a way of limiting foods in an acceptable way. A control thing when his world is out of control.” Gervais says.
“Shit.” Chris says.
“Exactly.” Gervais says.
“You might be wrong.” Chris says.
“I might. I think we get him to the beach and he sees us tucking in to some beautiful fresh fish he’ll want to join in. If he is fully inside it then it won’t be that easy but I think maybe he’s on the edge.” Gervais says.
“I trust you when it comes to my bro. You two and that crazy connection. I still love food but it is hard to enjoy sometimes when it beings up memories. I expect it is the same for Blue. He can’t have a cookie as it reminds him of Andy, bananas are Ocean and avocado is Will. I have enjoyed reliving memories during tough times but Blue tried to block you all out. I bet his restriction is part of that.” Chris says.
“Are you 9 or 10 worried about him and how worried should I be about you?” Gervais asks.
“It’s not your job to fix me and 10 red alert for Blue, I’m at maybe an 8.” Chris says.
“Keeping you happy keeps Blue happy. One less worry for him.” Gervais says.
“Shopping then food?” Chris asks.
“Yeah lets get on it.” Gervais smiles.
Back at school Ocean drops a message to Will about Gervais going to Hawaii and giggles to himself. He’s kind of jealous that he doesn’t get to go too. Maybe this summer they’ll whisk him off to Costa Rica.
Ocean hits practice in a positive mood and has a great session. He enjoys working with his new coaches and teammates, but isn’t so keen on all the monitoring, his food, grades and study hours are something he has happily managed himself for years. He gets that coach needs them to be in optimal shape and have enough endurance come season but he wishes he was trusted like an adult not treated like a kid.
Though some of his teammates are utterly clueless and have clearly never done their own laundry or fixed themselves a meal in their lives and probably need more guidance.
“Can you come to my office after practice?” The head coach asks and Ocean nods and gets on with his workout.
“Have I done anything wrong?” Ocean asks as he goes in.
“You seem to be a bit aloof from the team. You go to team events, you show up on time for practice, you are always prepared and you’re making great progress. But you don’t seem to be bonding with your teammates. I know you’re not in athletic housing, is that the issue?” Coach asks.
“I don’t think so. Like you said I go to all the team event, I think I’m helpful in practice, I certainly help others when I can. I do the volunteering with the team too. But it’s only been a few weeks and I guess I’ve been slow to make friends. I’m still getting used to things and I don’t tend to make plans with people. I’ll make more effort.” Ocean says.
“Usually the freshmen have a study group together, I hear you blew them off.” Coach says.
“This sounds stupid as I’m in college but I don’t want to spend more hours studying than I need to. We have mandated study hall as it is which is often longer than I need for my homework, I know that will change when we’re on the road for meets and playing catch up. Gymnastics takes a lot of time as it is.” Ocean says.
“If you’re finding classes easy maybe your team mates would benefit from your help in their study group and you might benefit from going for coffee with them after.” The coach says spelling it out.
“I’ll make an effort. Anything else?” Ocean asks.
“Your flexibility is insane, yet you spend the minimum time stretching in the gym. I have no issue with your active stretch, I’d love for others to be as efficient as you. Especially as you’ve had no major injuries your whole career.” Coach says.
“I have done yoga since I was a baby and do it first thing every morning. I also take a class on campus, you know that, some of the other guys take it too.” Ocean says.
“I can’t ask you to do this. But a student run early morning yoga or stretch practice would be a very good idea.” Coach says.
“No problem, I really enjoy the other student led practices. I’ll talk to Carl about it.” Ocean says with a smile.
Ocean walks back to his dorm puzzling over the situation. He’s always been friendly, growing up in his mom’s coop he had to be. Friendly to customers and to people taking class, friendly with the kids who came by and at school and the retreat.
He knew he didn’t fit in with the kids at school. When he moved to Blue’s place he thought he was an outsider in the gym because he didn’t live in the city or because he was too friendly with Spence and Will. But he made friends with Jane and he had his brothers and Katelyn. He never felt he was missing out socially, especially not when he went back to school part time. Jane helped pave the way and he had a good group of friends.
Ocean suddenly remembers something Blue said to his mom when he started college, he was struggling because everyone was the same age and he was so used to being part of the community as a whole. Ocean always had younger and older friends, he still counts Gladys as a dear friend and he’s as likely to confide in her as Gervais or Jane.
He needs to make more of an effort, support his team mates in their other passions and try and make proper friends. Though suggesting an early start is unlikely to win too many people over.
He texts Carl the team captain and soon gets a group message from him of 2 early sessions a week. There are a few grumbles in reply but the response isn’t as bad as Ocean expected. He then messages one of the other freshmen about the study group.
Ugh making friends should not feel like a chore. Still he has been a bit of a loner here at school which isn’t like him. It’s been kind of nice not having everyone know his business. Ocean smiles to himself again realizing just how like Blue he is, even though his world at 18 was much larger.
Ocean heads to the dining hall to get some food and is about to sit alone when he changes his mind and sits next to a guy with his nose in his kindle.
“Study or pleasure?” Ocean asks.
The lad looks up startled, then smiles at Ocean’s friendly face.
“Pleasure, of the guilty variety.” The lad says.
“I’m Ocean and I hope you’re re-reading Twilight for the four hundredth time so my reading choices look good.” Ocean says with a grin.
“I’m Adam and I’m insulted you went there, Maze runner and only the three hundred and ninety ninth.” Adam smiles,
“I am sorry for interrupting, I was going to sit alone but I’d just given myself a talking to about trying to make friends, you were my victim.” Ocean says.
“Thank-you. I absolutely suck at introducing myself to people but I don’t actually want to be a total loner loser,” Adam says.
“I would be quite happy to be but my coach is on at me to integrate better.” Ocean says rolling his eyes.
“Coach? You don’t took tall enough and too big for a cox.” Adam asks puzzled.
“Gymnast.” Ocean says.
“That makes sense. So what’s a hot jock like you doing sitting with a boring nerd like me, when you could have sat with the cool kids?” Adam asks.
“Gymnastics isn’t exactly cool, you looked worth talking to and I am more than my sport.” Ocean says.
“My apologies. I get so used to being judged that I do the same.” Adam says.
“Me too. I try and be open and give people a chance but they’ve mostly already put me in my box.” Ocean says.
‘Want to get out of here and get some real food?” Adam asks looking down at his untouched meal.
“I have a loaf of yesterday’s bread, almond butter and homemade blackcurrant preserve in my room. I have no idea why I even got this slop.” Ocean says with a grin.
“That’s the most creative excuse to get me back to someone’s room yet. Lets go.” Adam says.
Ocean grins, grabs his banana and they head up to his room. He has a good look at Adam, he’s tall and skinny and has beautiful brown eyes hiding behind his glasses and hair. Ocean feels a ping in his chest and tells himself to slow down. Although he’s certain he’s at least just made a friend.
“A single, I am super jealous.” Adam says as Gervais makes sandwiches.
“I have a rich benefactor.” Ocean says.
“Seriously? Are you straight out of a Dickins novel?” Adam asks.
Ocean laughs and explains about Spence.
“So a bunch of guys ten years older than you adopted you as their little bro when they were in college and have looked out for you ever since? That is bizarre and amazing all at once. My parents would have thought they were a pedophile ring and kept me away.” Adam says.
“I adopted them, called them my big brothers right from the start. I’d spent summers with one of them for years and he was close friends with my mom too. How they put up with me when I was an annoying kid I’ll never know but they are my people. Were your parent’s super protective?” Ocean asks.
“Not really, I grew up in a commune. The artist Birch was there as a kid.” Adam says.
“No way, my mom used to date Willow and one of my big bros dated Birch.” Ocean says.
“No way. No way. For real?” Adam asks.
“For real. So are you a good hippy kid or are you rebelling on fast food and candy?” Ocean asks.
“Somewhere in the middle. For real you know Birch and Willow?” Adam asks.
“I know them both really well. Did you keep in touch?” Ocean asks.
“No, I was so young when Willow left and neither of them came back for breaks,” Adam says.
“Are you for real, real or have you just read up on them and making up a more interesting background?” Ocean asks feeling a little paranoid, especially as they are in the expensive dorm.
“Here.” Adam says putting up some pictures on his phone. One of which is distinctly a young Adam with a teenage Birch. Ocean relaxes, he’ll always be paranoid someone is after Blue. Then he kicks himself for being rude, he approached Adam.
“Sorry for being so rude, I get a little paranoid.” Ocean says.
“I get it, people probably would use you to get close to him.” Adam says.
“Yeah.” Ocean lies, that seems easier than explaining his best friend was under witness protection.
“We should go see his paintings. Have you been to see the gallery?” Adam asks.
“No I haven’t. I’d like that.” Ocean says.
“It’s a date.” Adam says and then blushes beet red.
“Sure, we can have dinner after.” Ocean says hoping that Adam knows he is more than happy to call it a date.
“That would be amazing. I guess my instant crush is out the bag.” Adam says.
“You already called me hot and I didn’t run away. Its mutual.” Ocean says.
“Cool.” Adam says and leans in for a kiss.
Gervais and Chris surprise themselves at just how well they get along on their shopping trip.
“This used to be your fave thing, shopping when someone else pays.” Gervais smiles.
“It was, I was as shallow as a puddle. I know you can afford this and I’m pretty sure you don’t feel like I’m taking advantage. I’ve not shopped to look good in forever. I am having fun. Thank-you.” Chris says.
“Me too and no you are not taking advantage. It’s useful to have you here to know what sizes to buy Skye.” Gervais says.
“We will need luggage too. And all the practical stuff toothpaste and shaving stuff.” Chris says.
“We can get luggage tomorrow. I don’t want to leave Skye too much longer.” Gervais says.
“Lets swing by the drugstore and then get some food.” Chris says as they finish paying.
“Yeah I want to get a bunch of little things for Blue to eat, In the hope he’ll have a bite of each.” Gervais says.
“And lets get some of his fave things for us.” Chris says.
“Great idea. You okay with veggie?” Gervais asks.
“Yeah rarely buy meat unless someone else is paying. Before you accuse me of being the same as my bro, I think you’re on to something and I was going down that route. I am really glad you flagged it, something for me to think about.” Chris says.
“A solitary life is no good for you two.” Gervais says shaking his head.
They get back to the hotel loaded with bags to find Blue asleep in bed shivering with an obvious fever. Chris heads straight back out to get some meds and Gervais tries to coax some soup into Blue.
“Come on baby, you need some liquids. I’ve got you some juice too.” Gervais says gently.
“I’m sorry.” Blue says.
“You can’t help being sick.” Gervais says.
“I never get sick. I get stupid rashes and headaches but I don’t get sick.” Blue grumbles.
“Your body was just waiting until you relaxed and had someone to take care of you. Try and drink a little more.” Gervais says.
“Juice?” Blue asks quietly and Gervais puts the soup down and pours a little juice into a glass.
“You could have told us you were not feeling well.” Gervais says.
“I thought I was just tired.” Blue says bewildered.
“Do you want a shower? I can get new sheets brought up.” Gervais says gently.
“Too tired. I’ll be okay.” Blue says.
Chris comes in with some medication and doses Blue up.
“Drink some more juice bro. Do you want me to get some tea from room service?” Chris asks.
“Tea would be good.” Blue says sleepily.
“I should have thought of that.” Gervais says.
“I’ll call, then we need to eat.” Chris says and Gervais nods.
“So I could have been totally over thinking it and he was just coming down with something.” Gervais says sheepishly as Blue falls back to sleep.
“I expect its somewhere in the middle.” Chris says.
The pair tuck in to their food not worried that it’s cold. The tea comes and they wake Blue and get him to drink a cup before he goes back to sleep.
“Lets look at places to go. I guess it’ll be a week or so before he’s ready anyway.” Chris says.
“Good idea. I think somewhere fancy and remote.” Gervais says.
“I’ve not had a real vacation in forever.” Chris says.
“You had all those trips to LA, I know you were working but it must have been pretty fun too.” Gervais says.
“Yeah we had days by the pool but its not the same. What about you? When were you last away?” Chris asks.
“I went to Rio to watch Will. Andy, Ocean and I had so much fun while Spence barely had a minute to himself. He and Andy went off to Belize after for their delayed honeymoon. Since then well we usually tacked on a few days sightseeing to Ocean’s trips to nationals or other big meets. Oh and when he had that international in Italy I went then too.” Gervais says.
“Blue and I missed all of that. Did you worry when Will pulled that stunt?” Chris asks.
“I ran down the steps and tried to reach him to stop him but he couldn’t hear me.” Gervais says.
“It was beautiful though. I really did just sit there sobbing. I knew that I’d be shipped off again but it was so lovely. I was in a secure house not long after anyway because of the trial.” Chris says.
“They could have let you be together for that.” Gervais says.
“I know. It would have been cheaper too.” Chris says.
“So cruel, all of this was cruel. But after what happened to your cousins I have to be grateful.” Gervais says.
“I’ll never get why they weren’t protected better. Why we were. I have a lot of guilt.” Chris says.
“Did you ever have any idea? About your family?” Gervais asks.
“No. I knew my grandparents seriously ruled the roost. I knew they had some friends that mom didn’t like. But I had no idea at all. I’ve watched a million mafia and crime dramas and documentaries and none of it really resonated with the life I had.” Chris says making another tea for Blue.
Gervais takes the cup and helps Blue sit up.
“Your grandparents were classically controlling.” Blue says quietly.
“Yeah they were, building up and beating down. Ostracizing us and encouraging our parents to do the same. My parents were so happy to meet you the first time. My dad actually cried after. I really thought they wanted to know you then suddenly you were the enemy. I think there was a lot of crazy we never saw.” Chris says.
“Do you ever think you’d visit them in jail?” Gervais asks.
“I’d like to visit dad. I haven’t forgiven him but I’d like some answers. Mom can rot in there. She was the one who pulled everyone in to her mess. She knew, always knew, we know that from the trial.” Chris says.
“I wish someone would give us our true story. The whole thing.” Blue says quietly.
“Momma doesn’t even know any more, she has so many lies she doesn’t know the truth.” Chris says.
“She does love you both, very much. It is tearing her up not seeing you.” Gervais says.
“She left us. She left before the shit hit the fan and let us get separated again. She knew something was coming and chose to protect herself and not us.” Blue says bitterly.