“Are you stalking Will now?” Blue asks as he sees Ocean on the shore.
“I just came out for some air. You two are such fucking liars.” Ocean shouts.
“Gervais and I broke up because of me. Just me. I have too much baggage, too many hang ups, need too much work to be the boyfriend Gervais deserves. I was holding him back. I asked for a break to get myself together, so I could be better for him but he didn’t want that. I tried my very best but it wasn’t enough. I’m not good enough for Will either. He doesn’t want me and a hug at lunch is the most I’ll ever get from him. You’ve no fight with Will, he’s just looking out for me. If that is too much for you then I’ll leave tomorrow. It won’t make any difference to me and Gervais, we’re over for good, that was his choice.” Blue says.
“You can try again.” Ocean says.
“I can’t live at the farm, I just can’t. Gervais doesn’t want to live at my place by the lake. Someone would lose and resent the other. This way is better, cleaner, he can find someone who is everything he needs, who loves him more than enough.” Blue says, tears streaming down his face at the realisation of the life ahead without Gervais or Will. A life alone.
“You’re just a coward.” Ocean shouts and leaves.
Will shakes his head and wraps Blue up in a blanket and tries to calm him.
“I have to leave. I’ll had back tomorrow.” Blue says.
“You don’t have to. But it might make things easier. You don’t need this level of stress. I never thought Ocean would turn on you. Man if he had any idea of the stunts Gervais has pulled, he’d never be on his side.” Will says.
“Yes he would. Gervais gave him a home and stability.” Blue says.
“You created the home for both of them. Give yourself some damn credit.” Will says.
Blue’s sobs subside and he dresses and heads home.
“What are you doing here?” Spence asks Ocean the next morning in the gym.
“What?” Ocean asks confused.
“I’ve not had an apology, Will hasn’t had an apology. You might wish yesterday had never happened but it did. So man up or go home.” Spence says.
“I’m sorry for being a dick yesterday and I’m sorry for being unsafe.” Ocean mumbles looking vaguely from Spence to Will.
“Just don’t do it again. Goes for all of you, respect and safety come first in the gym just like any other.” Will says and all the guys nod.
“We’re coming too bro. We’ll take two cars but we’ll stop loads together.” Chris says bounding in to the house during breakfast.
“Because we have great news.” Larry says nudging Chris.
“I’m in. I get to be a vet, or try to.” Chris says the pride brimming out of him.
“Congratulations. Oh I am so proud of you, look how far you have come. Are you sure you can’t all stay and celebrate?” Clara asks.
“I need to get back, I want to study and be super ready to go when I get there. Sorry momma, lets make this a celebratory breakfast.” Chris says.
“I’ll call Bea. Congrats little bro.” Blue says squeezing the life out of Chris.
The family are soon tucking in to pancakes and eggs, with Sunny trying to move from person to person for his portion.
“Take care of yourself. I’ll visit as soon as Chris and Larry are settled.” Clara says when it comes to leaving time.
“Me too, though I want to stay at the hotel and get all the spa treatments.” Bea grins.
“Come any time. Both of you. I’m going to miss you.” Blue says.
“You’re going to be okay. There is better out there for both of us.” Bea says hugging Blue.
“There better be. Chris can’t be the only one married and fat.” Blue grins.
“Right.” Bea laughs.
The guys get back eventually. Sunny is happy to be home and runs around in mad circles. Andy hasn’t turned the place into a sex den but the possibility is still there when Deke arrives a couple of days later.
“Uh ever since I found out you were divorced I couldn’t get you out of my head.” Deke says sad on Blue’s deck, the other three are out with Sunny.
“It’s good to see you.” Andy says honestly, he always enjoyed spending time with Deke.
“Seems a bit crowded here. I’m teaching here next semester. Blue and Spence said I can have a room at the hotel. It would be good if we could have a beneficial arrangement.” Deke grins.
“Chris, Larry and I move up to the farm next week. Spence and I have sold our place, Robin and Birch have bought it, they will lease the land to someone, probably Tad and Mike. I’m going to work with Larry until somewhere comes up for me here. We’re going to have a weekly market at the hotel, Sundays. So I’ll be around.” Andy says rubbing Deke’s thigh.
“Spence and Wyatt are pretty great together. That must sting.” Deke says.
“It does. It fucking kills. But I accept that he’s set me free. I love him and I would be happy to be with him forever, if I could have a few flings on the side. I can’t be fully monogamous, I was for several years but I cracked when things got rough.” Andy shrugs.
“But you lived the dream for a while, own business, hot husband.” Deke says.
“On a farm which you never wanted.” Andy laughs.
“The city is hard. I mean it was okay in college but tough after. I thought you guys were mad living in each other’s pockets but I was jealous as hell too. I can’t believe I’ve ended up with a bunch of you.” Deke grins.
“And we’ve left the dramaqueens behind. Spence and Wyatt are cool. Chris is totally changed, he and Larry are awesome together. And Blue is still Blue, sweetest guy in the universe, no clue how amazing he is and utterly broken.” Andy says.
“I didn’t really see him at home but mom mentioned he didn’t look well. Said his cooking was still amazing. She managed to somehow snag a tray of brownies and froze them. Amazing.” Deke says.
“Worst thing is, he is a lot better than he was a year ago. He’s gaining weight and can hold a conversation now. And he loves that dog.” Andy grins.
“You two together?” Blue asks as he gets back.
“We’re discussing terms.” Andy grins.
“Well that will stop you trying to jump me all the time.” Blue grins.
“Is it okay if I crash for a few days?” Deke asks.
“There really isn’t the space. I can give you a tent and sleeping bag.” Blue says.
“That sounds great.” Deke grins and Blue smiles back.
“We get our place end of the week. If you help us move you can have a room until the hotel is ready.” Larry says.
“Cool. I’m happy to work the land too. I kind of miss farming. I think it was just my brothers that made it hell.” Deke says.
“Assholes. I love your sister though, she’s awesome.” Larry says.
“She is a spitfire.” Deke grins.
Chris surveys the scene and worries. Having Andy around has been good for Blue, they’ve been having fun. With Deke arriving that makes Blue the odd one out again. Chris knows Blue is a lot better than he was and getting better day by day. But he is alone.
Blue misses Will and Gervais. Andy is great but Blue misses having someone to talk to that doesn’t need filling in on the gaps. Every day he thinks about calling but doesn’t pick up the phone. He isn’t sure Gervais would answer and Will is in the gym long hours. He calls Blue a couple of times a week and Blue makes do with that. He talks to Spence every few days but contact with Robin has fallen away.
Andy and Deke move up to the farm with Larry and Chris and Blue visits often but feels himself detaching.
In mid July the whole group meet up to watch Ocean, Garrett and the others compete at nationals. Spence has bought a big block of seats for everyone.
“Wow I can’t believe so many people from home are here.” Blue says as he takes his seat.
“I’m combining it with college visits for all the high school aged kids, and almost every other kid is here with their family. The gymnasts have been a great source of interest all summer.” Bea says.
“That’s so clever to combine with college tours. You’re expanding their world. I wish I’d had a teacher like you.” Blue grins.
Blue goes to get some drinks and snacks before the competition starts and finds he’s sat next to Gervais when he gets back.
“Ocean doesn’t want you here.” Gervais says without even saying hello.
“I’m here to support Spence and Will.” Blue says quietly.
“Leave. Please just go. This isn’t about Will and Spence, it is about Ocean and him having the best possible environment to do well.” Gervais says.
“Okay.” Blue says a little choked up. He gets up, passes the food and drink to Bea, claims a headache and starts to leave.
“Where are you going?” Cheryl asks as he passes her seat.
“I don’t want to distract Ocean or take focus away from him.” Blue says and continues along his way before Cheryl can reply.
“Why did you send Blue away?” Cheryl asks Gervais.
“Gervais and Blue are not talking. Him being here is a distraction.” Gervais says.
“What happened to your empathy, to your humanity? You turned Ocean away from me and you’ve done the same with Blue. You are a wicked influence on him and I wish we had never met you.” Cheryl says and heads back to her seat.
“Did you finally let him have it?” Marsha asks.
“Not nearly enough. Telling Blue he isn’t welcome pains me. It just isn’t right.” Cheryl says.
“I’ll see if I can catch him. You don’t want to miss anything.” Marsha says and gets up.
There is no sign of Blue. Marsha hasn’t got his number and shakes her head and goes back inside. She’s worried about Ocean and Cheryl’s relationship, even more since the kidnapping. While they initially reconnected Ocean has been more and more distant since.
“Sorry my love, I didn’t catch him.” Marsha says.
“I hate to see Ocean with so much hate. I raised him to forgive and to be open. He was always so open to people.” Cheryl sighs.
“He will be again, he just has some rebelling and some growing up to do.” Marsha says.
“I know. I just wish I knew he’d get through it.” Cheryl says.
“We should move closer, not close enough to crowd him but close enough that we can have family dinner now and then. Let him know how much we care.” Marsha says.
“You’re right.” Cheryl sighs and they fall silent as the meet begins.
Blue streams the meet in his hotel room. At the end of day one Ocean is in fourth and Garrett is in third. Both are looking good, have come top two on a couple of events and haven’t had any major falls.
He messages Will and Spence congratulations and then drinks the minibar dry and passes out on his bed.
Blue wakes dry mouthed, head pounding to his mom calling, she is dog sitting at his place.
“Is Sunny okay?” Blue asks.
“He’s missing you. Are you okay, you look dreadful.” Clara says.
“Drank too much last night.” Blue says.
“Well it has been a while since you saw all your friends. Be careful. I just wanted you to know all was well here.” Clara says.
“Thanks mom.” Blue says not letting on that he hasn’t spent any time with his friends.
He calls for room service, showers and eats and naps some more.
The day is a total write off. Blue has another drink once the mini bar is replenished. He messages Chris and Bea to say he’s sick but fine and not to worry, and hopes that Clara doesn’t check their stories. Blue isn’t in the mood to socialise. He doesn’t want to think about anything.
Gervais has more than slammed the door shut on them. Will doesn’t want him either and while Andy is trying to get Blue back out there, he just doesn’t want to be there.
He drinks again and sleeps late. Not even trying to get to the second day of the meet he orders more room service and streams again. Ocean has a better second day as all around him fall. He pushes up to second overall and Garrett clings on to third.
Blue is so engrossed in the sport he forgets that he has been exiled again and cheers away at the screen as if he were in the stands.
Then the squad for world trials is announced and Garrett makes it but Ocean doesn’t. Blue sees the anguish on his face and Will and Spence. He gets dressed and runs down there. He can’t not be there for Ocean, wanted or not.
He gets to the exit at the same time as Ocean, while other medals are still being awarded.
“Want to get dinner?” Blue asks.
“You look like shit.” Ocean says.
“So do you. Come on if we run we’ll be ahead of the crowd.” Blue says motioning the restaurants across the street.
“Thanks Blue. I just can’t face anyone’s disappointment.” Ocean says.
“You are second in the country and I guarantee everyone is proud as hell of you.” Blue says.
“Okay, I can’t face the sympathy.” Ocean says.
“That I can understand. Look there’s a seafood place. I bet you want to pig out.” Blue says.
“Sounds perfect. I can have a mountain of fries and bread and all the desserts tonight.” Ocean grins.
The pair get one of the last tables and order most the menu. After Ocean slows down his eating Blue looks at him worried.
“It’ll be hard to support Garrett through the next stage. I know he wanted it and you said you didn’t but you secretly wanted it.” Blue says.
“This summer I wanted it. I worked my ass off. I swallowed my pride over Will and got my head down and worked. Garrett worked just as hard. I don’t feel like he doesn’t deserve it, I mean he beat me on night one and I beat him tonight. And logically I get it. Two Olympians are coming back from injury and we have the same strengths, if they are both at trials I’d likely not have made the team. But dammit I deserved a shot.” Ocean says.
A woman at the next table, clearly listening in approaches.
“I work for an online gymnastics magazine. Would you like to comment on what happened? The rules were changed recently so no one was guaranteed a spot at trials. Do you think that was to keep you out?” The woman asks.
“I was top 2 on 3 events and top 5 on the other 3. I didn’t have a weak event but I didn’t win anything either, I guess none of my scores are medal worthy. I don’t think I am that big a deal that the rules would be changed for me.” Ocean says.
“So what do you think it was? Even if you didn’t make the team you’d be a perfect alternate.” The girls asks.
“Maybe I am too gay. I am gay, my mom is gay and her wife is gay and my boyfriend is gay, but he made trials and my guardian is gay and my big brothers are all gay. I think I am just too gay. My world is too gay.” Ocean says joking. He and Blue laugh and laugh together, just as they used to over farts and banana poo.
“I have missed you. I missed you so much.” Blue says once the women has gone.
“Why weren’t you in the stands? Everyone was there.” Ocean asks.
“Gervais said you didn’t want me there. Which was probably true, given how mad you’ve been at me. But he didn’t want me there and I didn’t want to spoil his time supporting you. Though of course I now am, whisking you away.” Blue says.
“Saving me. You watched and your first thought was for me, you needed to know I was okay. You haven’t even checked your phone. Or called Will or Spence. I appreciate that. I really do. I am sorry for being such a dick this summer. I love happy endings and I want one so much for Gervais and I can’t see him having one without you.” Ocean says.
“I couldn’t stay with him for you. We were about to make each other thoroughly miserable. If he had been up for a break and starting over then we might have had a chance. But the more space I have the more I know I wasn’t good enough for him. After living a shell of a life I just don’t have that much compromise in me.” Blue says.
“I get that. I know it was just a few days for me and I had to focus on survival but I did empathise with how lonely you had been and how your agency was taken away. I thought about you a lot.” Ocean says.
“Feels like your choices were taken away tonight too.” Blue says.
“Yeah it was such a boot to the stomach. Not the first time though and I have let the anger go already. I have spent way too long being angry this summer.” Ocean says.
“You’re not the kid I left behind. You have choices tonight. Dessert.” Blue grins.
“All of them. Can I stay in your room tonight? I cannot face sharing with Garrett tonight.” Ocean says.
“Sure I have a suite. You best message Garrett though, and Spence and Will so they don’t worry.” Blue says.
“And my mom.” Ocean says and gets texting.