“I’m sorry for blowing up yesterday. It was the wrong time, wrong place.” Birch says.“It’s okay. I sometimes shout it at myself.” Blue says. The pair are sat on the lakeshore with a picnic.
“So why? I know you have that sexual magnetism but he has been awful to you. Chris too. How can you live with them?” Birch asks.
“I have been alone for seven years. I’ve not had a friend in 5. When Ocean found me I was close to ending it. Chris is the only one who has been through the same and I could never leave him or push him away. Not now. It takes a lot to stay forgiving when he’s being a dick but even though we were apart our shared experience binds us. He is the only person I can talk to about the worst parts and it is the same for him.” Blue says.
“I get that. You two deserve to get to know each other but all that he did. Be careful. Be careful and know you have people who love you and who care so much about you. You could come to the lake, stay with Robin or Will. Magnus and DeShawn would take you in. You were alone but we all loved you and wished you’d come home to us.” Birch says.
“I couldn’t, I still can’t. I have Chris’s face. And while Bea is safe, Chris isn’t. Because he isn’t, I’m not.” Blue says.
“Are you not risking things for Gervais and Larry then?” Birch asks.
“They know the risk. We don’t believe it is a big threat any more but Chris and I are not ready to risk it. I don’t believe Gervais and Larry are at risk, not really. More from isolation than anything else.” Blue says.
“Why did you choose where you’re living to open a café? It’s not a town, just a farm an hour from the city. I checked it out last night. A boarding school, some fancy retirement housing and a few farms. Sure there is an elementary school but it must be pretty tiny.” Birch says.
“People will travel from the city when they hear about my cheesecake. We’ll make ur businesses work here, we’ll be a destination eventually.” Blue says.
“That is a lot of work for someone with your kind of money. I thought you’d at least be living somewhere like that, with an amazing view.” Birch says gesturing a house in the hills that looks down on the lake.
“I don’t have any money. I would love to live somewhere like that and work less but I have to make this café work so we can get on to the next stage. I sold the house and my share in the business to G when I first went into the program. But each move ate in to that, when you have to move fast the program sells what is left behind at a knock down price for speed.” Blue says.
“But Abby’s money. I mean she had a fortune that dwarfed Spence’s. She left really clear instructions about what would happen if you showed up again. G was like the trustee for the bulk and was allowed an income but it was yours if you came back within 5 years and you are in that timeframe.” Birch says.
“G sold some of Abby’s property to help buy this place and is bankrolling us. Blue doesn’t exist, and I couldn’t take it from G. I think you’re exaggerating the value.” Blue says.
“She suspected your name would have changed. Blue she covered everything. Everything. I know because she left some money and property to me to continue the arts program that Roe and Jeremy set up. I was at the will reading. Blue if I arrange it will you come to the city tomorrow and meet with a lawyer? You don’t have to take the money but you need to be informed. Blue is it possible Gervais is trying to keep you under his control? So you can’t be with anyone else? Even giving up his life and coming with you puts a huge obligation on you. He might say it doesn’t but we all know that your personality processes it that way.” Birch asks gently.
“We broke up a bit ago, usual stuff. I was working all hours, had no money. Everyone was being utter slobs and I was stressed, so stressed I couldn’t see straight and sleep deprived and miserable. Gervais was giving me a yoga studio for Christmas, high spec and a hot tub which Chris actually wanted.” Blue says.
“And you just saw them filling you hours will more work and lost it like you do. He never accepted you for who you are. No that isn’t it, he always used who you are to his advantage, subconsciously or not. He loves you, I don’t doubt that but he doesn’t treat you well when you are together, or are on the cusp of being together. You deserve someone who treats you like Will did. Don’t settle.” Birch says.
“He’s changed and we just need to work a bit harder. I’ve changed too. We’ll come through it. I don’t think he’s hiding me away or anything. He waited for me and that means a lot. He waited for me and we will be happy.” Blue says.
“What happens when your self esteem comes back? He has all the money, you’re in the middle of nowhere and running a café and living off the land. You’ve swapped your momma for Gervais. You might as well be up at the lake. At least there you’d not have to work in the café everyday.” Birch says and Blue gasps.
“I can’t close the café, the community here needs it.” Blue says.
“Meet me tomorrow. Tell them you’re taking a whole day off. They can cope. We’ll see a lawyer and we’re going to a spa because I cannot cope with this grey dry skin, we’re getting scrubs and massages and whatever other treatments we fancy. I have a few things to do but you can amuse yourself shopping and drinking coffee.” Birch says.
“That sounds really good. Any chance you could get me a room at your hotel tonight? I’d love to sleep in. I think I need some thinking time alone.” Blue says.
“Sure, lets go to your place, show me round and then we can go into the city. I have an event tonight, you can come if you want to.” Birch says.
“Okay.” Blue says and they go back to the farm.
“This is pretty nice, or it will be when you get your green fingers to work. I’m pretty honoured I’m supplying the décor.” Birch says.
“If I needed to sell could you put me in touch with someone? I love them, I truly do but if I needed to.” Blue asks.
“I would be able to help. I’m going to catch up with G while you get some things together.” Birch says.
“Can we trust you?” Gervais asks.
“I’m not going to steal Blue, that ship sailed long ago.” Birch says.
“He loves me you couldn’t whisk him away. I meant can we trust you not to tell people where we are?” Gervais asks.
“I don’t know.” Birch says.
“Specifically can you not tell momma or Willow or Roe or Bea or anyone else who might tell momma or Bea?” Chris asks.
“Your momma misses you so much, so much. She has so many regrets that are eating her up inside. She would give anything to know you’re okay.” Birch says not sure he can keep the secret.
“You better not tell. If you tell her we’re okay she will find us. She will look at your literary and track us down and I do not want that, neither does Blue. I punched Andy to make the point already. If you value your artist fingers you won’t tell.” Chris says seriously.
“I understand. I don’t know why you’re keeping up the feud but I get it and I know she was not a good mother to Blue. As a person to me she is great but I also know that is her MO. Though she usually did it in front of Blue to make him feel more shit. I get it. I do. I wanted you to know how she feels right now and how getting in contact might not be so bad. No need for violence.” Birch says.
“Good. How did Blue seem today?” Chris asks softening. He hates that he and Blue are not close like they were.
“Can we take a walk?” Birch asks Chris.
“Sure.” Chris says and Gervais pouts.
“What the fuck is going on with Blue? Is he sick? He looks awful and his self esteem is in the toilet.” Birch asks.
“Too much too soon here. He actually looks better than he did when we found him, he’s eating now and gaining weight. He’s not sleeping much and he and G have had a huge fight, which I didn’t get at the time and now do. Truth is I’m worried but don’t know what we can do. Our eggs are all in this basket. I could give up on going to vet school but I am too selfish to be truthful. I will totally pay Blue back in time when I’m done, I will make sure he doesn’t have to work.” Chris says, it feels good to get all his worries out. He has held back from Gervais since Christmas and he doesn’t want to burden Larry who is going through his own issues.
“I am taking him to my hotel tonight, he asked if I could get him a room as he wants to sleep in. I’m booking us some time in a spa tomorrow. Try and get some moisture into his skin and get him a proper haircut. Which you could do with too.” Birch says.
“Thank-you. We’ve had some down time before we got here but he was sick and stressed and well obviously it wasn’t enough. I’m trying to cut the café’s hours. I wish we could afford to hire some help.” Chris sighs.
“You can, or G can. I’m also getting a lawyer here tomorrow to sort out Abby’s will. I hate saying this to you as to me you’re still that gold digging brat but Blue seems to trust you now. Whether Blue claims what is his or not, Gervais is sat on a gold mine. Seriously some of Abby’s investments are in gold. Get thinking about what is truly best for you and Blue. Please. Money is no object. It never was, Spence, Magnus and I would have sent whatever you guys needed.” Birch says.
“Blue is a flight risk and keeping him short is understandable. I don’t think we expected the café to take off on day one. None of us, except Blue, knew how much work it would be. I forgot the pull of Blue’s food. I mean I dreamt of his cheesecake as often as I dreamt of dick but I forgot that it like crack and gets people coming back and back.” Chris grins.
“It was his paella I missed. I know the soup and desserts are good but that paella he kept for special occasions and it was so good.” Birch says.
“He made it for Christmas Day, stormed out when we didn’t get up to help prep and didn’t get to eat any. I suck because I was scrapping it out the pan and none of us thought to save him a bowl. He used to make you the soups when you dated, didn’t he? Funny how you two sucked for each other but it influenced you as an artist so much and him as a soup maker extraordinaire.” Chris says.
“That is very true. You should come and see my current showing. Blue’s influence is in every piece.” Birch says.
“Please don’t paint here.” Chris says afraid.
“I am going to paint the lake here, but for Blue not for exhibition.” Birch says.
“He’ll love that. He loves that lake already. Up there doing yoga at dawn, running round it.” Chris says.
“Get him a boat so he can fish.” Birch says.
“We will do that. I’m going to push to close on Mondays and Tuesdays. Let us all have a weekend. Though our best customers order breakfast and lunch 6 days a week. It’s hard.” Chris says.
“Get in help. Make it easier. For all of you.” Birch says.
“I’ll talk to them. Once Ezra’s guys move on we’ll change things up. Thanks Birch we need to make some friends and not be just us 4.” Chris says.
“That Liv seemed nice. Blue mentioned some seniors too.” Birch says.
“Yeah we’re getting there. Slow to trust and with Gervais business being all over it is hard.” Chris says.
“Do you think he moved here with that info in his back pocket?” Birch asks.
“What do you mean?” Chris asks.
“Maybe he kept tabs on all those guys and used it to get Blue back. I mean it is great he stopped the guy but I had to wonder.” Birch says.
“No, he was terrified. It wasn’t an act, not at all.” Chris says.
“Why did you support the two getting together?” Birch asks.
“I know all the things I did to Blue and just how awful they were and I also know I have changed and deserve another chance. I love Blue, it took me a while to pick through all I did to him and understand just how shit I was. Immature douche of the highest order. I know I won’t hurt Blue again, not maliciously, I am working on being a douche, and so I believe Gervais has changed, all that therapy, he deserves a chance too.” Chris says.
“I forget the timing, did you get to see Will and Blue together? How Will treated Blue? Don’t you want that for him?” Birch asks.
“They are in a rough patch. They’ll get through it and they will be that for each other.” Chris says confidently.
“And if they are not?” Birch asks.
“I get you. I will help Blue understand he isn’t alone and if anyone leaves it will be G.” Chris says.
“Which is why Blue needs his money. Please call me, or my agent if you ever need anything, if Blue needs anything. If you think he is slipping further. I won’t tell your momma. It’ll be hard not to tell Willow, she’ll probably guess.” Birch says.
“How is Bea doing?” Chris asks.
“Okay, not more than that. She puts on a huge front of doing well and being part of the community. She’s getting married and on some level she is happy but she’s the only one Clara has now and that is hard. She feels guilt over your parents, especially your dad. Huge, huge guilt over your cousins. She has a memorial to them up by the lake, some stones with their names on and she visits often. She worries about you two. She had it a lot easier than you guys, she basically got her education, her masters and teaching qualification then came to the lake. She didn’t have the same periods of isolation Blue said you two had. And of course she was less well known and it’s easier for girls to colour their hair and change styles to look different. When she came to the lake she was platinum blonde, in a pixie cut and heavy makeup. She was thinner, like you two but not so extreme and looked so striking. She’s got long curls now.” Birch says and fishes out his phone and shows Chris a series of pictures.
“Wow she got so skinny. She looks better now. Man if she had been that thin when we were teens she’d have been a catwalk model at her height. Not that she had the personality.” Chris says wiping away the tears.
“Why don’t you record a little message for her on my phone? I won’t send it to her just show it. Let her know you’re alive and you love her.” Birch says.
“Too dangerous. But do, do tell her I love her.” Chris says and descends into sobs on Birch’s shoulder.