This chapter may, or may not, contain sensitive material that some may find objectionable, and/or triggering.
Family Always Has Your Back - 8. TC4 — Chapter 8: The Others
While the six men were in Boston over the past week, life continued for Brayon, Bryce, Chandon, and Jill.
Saturday, June 23, 2018, found Bryce leaving the Harbour Island home, after he had just dropped off his son Travis, and went to work at the office of the Isen Family Cleaning Service. The office was in a small warehouse found just inside the Ybor industrial area. Mostly it held the supplies that the crews used for cleaning the various homes and offices across the city, but his primary office was found there as well. While Duncan ran the financial operation of his business, Bryce supervised the day-to-day operations, taking care of old clients, and meeting with new ones to set up a contract.
It was 11:30 am, and the knock on the office door was unexpected. “Door is unlocked… come on in.”
Jill Bolton, mother of Chandon Bolton, and guardian of Brayon Hopper, walked in and gave Bryce a smile. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”
“Not at all, Jill.” Bryce smiled and stood up as she walked in. “What’s up?”
They met in front of the desk and embraced each other. A deep kiss was shared between them, before Jill could respond.
“We need to talk.” Her voice was neutral. “Chan and Bray will be home this week, and before they get back and Travis when he does, I think we need to discuss us.”
He motioned for her to have a seat on the couch in the office and sat down on the opposite end from her. “I agree. We’ve had a great two-years and I want to keep having them. But I’m getting tired of hiding.”
Jill nodded. “I know I asked to keep our relationship secret because of Chan and what’s going on with Bray, but I feel it is time.”
“Who would have thought our kids would wind up being friends.” He paused for a moment. “Then we both agree. When the boys get back, all three of them, we all sit down and tell them we’ve been seeing each other since you saw Travis after the first assault.”
Jill moved over and kissed Bryce. “Now, to answer your question from last night.” She gave him a smile. “Yes, I will marry you.”
“I love you, Jill.” Bryce pulled her into a warm embrace. “The ring is back at the house, but it’s yours after work.”
The couple sat and talked about what each wanted for their marriage and couldn’t help but to smile at one another.
Almost 3,000 miles to the northeast on Sunday June 24, 2018, Chandon Bolton, with his boyfriend Brayon Hopper, are at the house of Chandon’s father, Luke Bolton. They had been there for three-weeks, staying in the guest room, with his father’s new wife and her teenage son, and visiting Luke in the Veteran’s Affairs hospital where he was recovering from the accident he was in at Fairchild Air Force Base. Luke was to be released from the hospital the following morning.
Brayon sat on the side of the bed with his phone in his hands. Silent tears dripped off his chin, as he typed out text messages.
“You alright, Bray?” Chandon moved over and sat behind his boyfriend with Brayon between his legs. He leaned his head down on Brayon’s shoulder. “What’s wrong?”
“The call was my boss calling to tell me I was fired. No call, no show the past two days, even though I have time approved off till Friday.” He laid his head on Chandon’s. “What am I going to do? I need a job for my emancipation case… I just sent some texts to Rob letting him know, since he’s paying for this.”
“We’ll get it worked out. When we get home, we’ll get you a new job, and make it alright.”
“I don’t know, Chan. I might have to quit sports and go to online school just to get two jobs that let me make what I was making at the law firm.” Brayon thumbs flew across the keyboard on his smartphone. “Rob says he’s going to talk to Adam after breakfast. He’s already been yelled at for texting at the table. I’m telling him not to worry about it.”
“Maybe going to Adam is a good thing? We heard what he’s doing for Travis and his dad.”
“Maybe… I don’t know what to do…”
Chandon turned his head a little and kissed his boyfriend’s neck, jawline, and cheek. “I know something I can do, to get you to relax.” His voice was seductive.
The phone was forgotten as the two teens descended upon each other.
Several hours later, Brayon and Chandon walked down the hallway of the VA hospital to the rehabilitation section. They knocked on the door to Luke’s private room, having found that it was closed, and walked in when they heard Luke saying to come in.
The room was like the typical one you found at countless hospitals across the world. Hospital bed, rolling tray table, and plastic covered armchairs and couch that were padded and stiff. Luke sat up in bed, his right arm in a sling, and the dressing on his legs were being changed by the nurse. There would be some scarring from the burns he suffered, but overall his health had improved.
“Hey boys, how are you doing today?” Luke smiled at the two teens. “Come over here and give me a hug.”
Chandon and Brayon each hugged Chandon’s dad in turn. “We’re doing well Dad. Getting things ready for when you come home tomorrow, and when we leave later this week.”
“Well… I might not be going home tomorrow. The doc was in earlier and wants to run some nerve tests tomorrow. Based on that, it is if she’ll let me go home.”
“That sucks, but you gotta follow what the doctor says, Mr. B.”
Luke noticed the sad tone to Brayon’s voice. “Brayon just call me Luke, or dad. You’re almost my son-in-law.”
The nurse smiled as she finished up the dressings. “There you go, Captain Bolton. I’ll check back with you later.” She left the room pulling the door almost shut to give the three men some privacy.
“Alright Dad.” Brayon gave him a smile. “Mind if I ask a question?”
“Sure, go ahead Son.” He looked at the two boys sitting on the couch next to each other.
“You do approve of me asking your son to marry me, right?”
“Why wouldn’t I?” Luke chuckled a little. “Brayon… I can see how much you two love each other. I have no issues with gays… if I did, then I would have to be mad at my Brother, who came out to me a couple of days before you two came up here. He said, I could tell you two because he had to get back to San Francisco, before he could tell you himself.”
“Uncle Frank is gay?” Chandon looked surprised.
“Bisexual most likely, but he doesn’t like the whole label thing.”
A lull in the conversation sprung up as the three of them sat looking at each other.
“You know, boys, I’m glad you two are here right now. Not just up here to see me, but right now. Just the three of us. Seems every time I’ve wanted to talk with you two, your stepmother and stepbrother have been around.” Luke paused. “Chan… I know you weren’t around that long the last time you were up here for mine and Kimberly’s wedding. So, now that you’ve spent the past three weeks with her, I want your honest opinion. No bullshit, no pulling punches, let me know what you think, Son.”
Chandon paused for a moment. “Well, they’ve both been really nice to us. Kimberly has gone out of her way to make sure Bray and I have been able to visit you, and that we had things to do at the house. Zach is great, though I think he was weirded out by Bray and me. We haven’t done anything inappropriate around the house, but Kim and Zach both know we’re doing stuff in my room.”
“Good… I’m glad you two and Zach are getting along. I was worried, because of some things he said.” Luke chuckled. “And that is your room, and you can do whatever you want in it. Even when we move, because we’re going to need to after this accident, you will have your own dedicated room.”
“Thanks, Dad.” Chandon smiled at both his dad and boyfriend. “Zach is a great guy. He’s been just as accommodating as Kimberly.”
“Yeah, and he may not play hockey, but he knows his sports.” Brayon smiled a little.
Luke looked at the boys. “What’s going on Brayon? I can tell something is eating at you.”
Brayon sighed some, and then proceeded to explain the conversation with his boss that morning and being fired. He went on to explain the status of his emancipation case, talking to Robert via texting, and how Robert said his father Adam will help him out. Brayon and Chandon each filled Luke in on their extended family in Tampa.
“That’s a lot to deal with, Son.” Luke’s voice was tender. “Adam sounds like someone that can help.” He paused to collect his thoughts. “Brayon… Son… you’ve been through the wringer a lot over the past year. Know that I love you, and that I already consider you my son. Even if things don’t work out between you and Chandon. If you need anything, and if it’s something I can help with let me know.”
Brayon wiped his eyes and swallowed down the lump in his throat. “Thanks, Dad.” He moved over and hugged Luke.
Luke returned the hug and placed a kiss on Brayon’s forehead. They broke apart with Brayon returning to the couch with Chandon.
The three men talked and hung out the rest of the day.
The morning of Friday June 29, 2018 found the Washington State home of the Boltons quietly waking up. The VA doctor decided she wanted Luke to stay in for another week, but the boys still needed to leave Saturday afternoon. Chandon and Brayon spent as much time as they could with Luke before they had to leave.
“Chandon. Do you and Brayon have any plans today?” Zach sat at the kitchen table, drinking a glass of milk, and reading the comic section of the local newspaper. He only wore a pair of briefs and displayed his average seventeen-year-old body. A medium amount of body hair covered his chest and stomach.
Accustomed to seeing Zach on display like this over the past several weeks, Chandon moved, unphased, to the fridge for his own glass of milk. “No plans for us, Zach. Bray and I are all packed for us to leave tomorrow, and Dad said for us not to come to the hospital today. He’ll be doing tests.”
Zach nodded. “Want to hang out, just the three of us? I know a couple of parks where we can go hike a little or do some fishing. I know a little secluded swimming hole we can go to as well.” He set the paper down and looked at Chandon. “I know it’s your last day here, and I’ve been pretty busy with work and some summer classes, but I’m free today… so…” He trailed off.
“Sounds good. I’d like that. We are step-brothers, and I wouldn’t mind getting to know you better.” Chandon sat down at the table with his glass of milk. “I know we’ve hung out a little when we’ve all been around, but this will be good.” He took a long gulp of his milk. “To be honest, Zach… I was starting to think you didn’t like me and Brayon.”
“Wait, what?” Zach looked aghast. “No, I don’t dislike you guys. Far from it. Actually, kinda jealous you get to sleep with your boyfriend every night. Neither my Mom, nor the Captain, allowed me to have my girlfriend over if we were to be alone.”
Chandon nodded. “Ahh, I see.” He chuckled some. “Brayon is my fiancé, he asked me to marry him a couple of months ago. Only our close friends, and Dad knows he did.” He held his hand up showing him the slim golden ring around his finger. “We’re waiting until after we graduate, now, before we go through the ceremony.”
“Oh… I had wondered about the rings you both have but didn’t think it was an engagement one.” Zach looked a little stunned. “Well, congrats Chandon. I wish you two the best.”
“Thanks, Zach.” Chandon gave him a smile. “My Mom knows how close we are but doesn’t know of the engagement. Brayon lives with us, after his parents kicked him out.”
“That sucks. I can’t believe a parent would toss their kid away like that. And didn’t I hear you two talk about him just losing his job too?”
“Yeah he did. This past year hasn’t been good for him.” Chandon took another gulp of his milk. “Zach… you and your mom have been really nice to me and Brayon this past month. Thank you.”
“You don’t need to thank me, but you're welcome. I’ll admit I was scared you were going to hate me, because my Mom got married to the Captain.” Zach has a sheepish smile. “I’m going to get ready, let me know when you and Brayon are ready.”
Zach left Chandon sitting at the kitchen table, and a few minutes passed before a sleepy-eyed Brayon walked in. After explaining what Zach wanted to do, the two teens went to get dressed and ready to head out.
The riverbank beach was deserted when the three boys walked out from the forest trail. A cooler and beach towels were sat out, and the three stripped down to swimming trunks. Being the Florida boys they were, Chandon had brought sunscreen with them, and he and his boyfriend were helping each other apply it.
“Zach, want some of this?”
“Sure.” Zach took the lotion and started to apply it. “Can one of you get my back?”
“I’ll do it.” Brayon took the tube and applied some to Zach’s back.
After a couple of hours swimming, the three teens lounged on the beach towels sunning themselves.
“How did you know about this place, Zach?” Brayon took a drink of the iced tea he had. “It’s pretty secluded. I’ve only seen a couple of fishing boats go by on the river.”
“My ex-girlfriend’s brother took us here one weekend, for a camp out at the end of May. Six of us, all couples, and there was less swimming, and more sex going on.” Zach chuckled. “It was after that weekend I broke up with my girl, and then you guys came up not long after that.” Zach looked over at Chandon and Brayon. “Do you mind if I ask you an awkward but legit question? It may be offensive.”
“Go ahead, Zach, just ask. If it is offensive, we’ll be cool about it.” Chandon looked at him reassuringly.
“Well, is it possible to like gay sex and not be gay?” There was a hesitant pause in Zach’s voice. “I mean… I don’t find myself looking at guys, like I do girls, but… I’ve been with guys before, and I’ve been the one that’s been on the bottom.” There was a tinge of red on his cheeks.
Brayon snorted a chuckle. “I don’t mean to laugh. It’s a question we sometimes get in our Gay-Straight Alliance club back at school. No, it’s not offensive, and yes a guy can like anal sex and not be gay.” He paused. “We went to a conference for GSA leadership for High School, College, and Organizational clubs, and there were all sorts of study material they gave us. One of them dealt with what you just asked. Prostate stimulation can be pleasurable for all men, just most can’t get relaxed enough or over the mental barriers to experience it.”
Chandon nodded. “Only thing we add, is a pamphlet on safe anal sex practices, and encouragement for STI testing, which the health department gives us to give out.”
“Don’t forget the condoms. Though, that really pisses the Christian Club off.” Brayon and Chandon both laughed some and stretched out on their stomachs facing the water.
“Thanks. I’ve been scared to look it up on Google, and never had someone I could ask, that I felt comfortable asking.” Zach pushed some hair out of his face. “It’s nice to know I’m not weird.” He lay back on the beach towel, with his hands behind his head and his head pointing the same way as the other two. “Mind if I ask a more personal question?”
“Have either of you been attracted to a girl before?”
Brayon and Chandon were silent for a moment. Turning his head towards his stepbrother, Chandon smiled some. “Nope. Not at all. To be honest, I’ve not been attracted to anyone else besides Bray here.”
“Likewise.” Brayon leaned in and kissed his fiancé’s cheek. “I knew I was supposed to be with Chan, when we first met. But it wasn’t until we got older when I realized what I was feeling.”
Chandon returned the kiss. “And I don’t feel bad about not seeing anyone else.”
Zach had turned his head to watch the two. “You two really are in love.” He sat up to face them. “I’ve heard the girls at school talk about soulmates and who they think they are mates with. Until they get dumped that is. But… you two. You’re making me believe that it’s real.”
“Thanks.” Chandon looked back at his stepbrother. “I’m not a believer in the whole soulmate thing, but if it’s real, I’ve seen it a lot lately.”
“Yeah, Robert’s parents… Adam and Duncan, and Jeremy and Travis. Though the jury is out with Robert and Giles.” Brayon laid his hand on Chandon’s back, rubbing it lightly.
“Speaking of Robert. Did he tell you his dad named the Brewpub?”
“I honestly can’t remember, Chan. If Rob has mentioned it, I must have forgotten about it with all the shit with work.” Brayon sighed some. “What is it?”
“He’s named it Novem, because of the three of us, and their signature beer is going to be the 25’ers.” Chandon chuckled some.
“Novem, 25’ers?” Zach looked at them confused.
“Our friend Robert, who’s on the hockey team with Brayon, his father is building a brewpub. He’s named it Novem because me, Bray, and Rob were all born on November 25th. That’s also where the 25’ers come from as well.”
“Wait… you two have the same birthday, as does one of your friends?” The astonishment was plain in Zach’s voice. “Cool, and freaky.”
“Yup. All three of us had the same birthday. Giles almost missed out. He was born on November 30th.” Brayon kept rubbing his boyfriend’s back as he turned on his side for better position, and to look at Zach.
“What are the odds that you know three people with the same birthday, and a fourth that is within days?” Zach looked between the two of them.
Chandon let out a soft sigh of contentment. “When you say it that way, yeah it does come across as a little freaky.”
“So, why did you break up with your girlfriend?” Brayon glanced up at Zach.
Zach snorted a chuckle. “She didn’t like that her brother was the last guy I had sex with.” He shook his head some. “We weren’t committed, but she felt that me and her brother were too close to home.”
“So, who was better? Your girl or her brother?”
All three started laughing. After their talk, some more swimming occurred, before they stopped for the day. The night passed them by with Kimberly taking the three boys out to dinner. Chandon talked to his dad before heading to bed. Saturday morning Zach drove Brayon and Chandon to the Spokane, Washington airport for their 6:59 am flight back to Tampa.
With the time difference between Washington state, and Florida, the boys flight landed at 6:30 pm at Tampa International Airport. The teens were stunned to learn that their economy class seats had been upgraded to first class, when they boarded the flight, but welcomed the experience.
Coming off the plane, the two of them turned their phones back off of airplane mode, and got several text messages each. They read and walked to the shuttle tramcar that would take them from the airside terminals to the main concourse.
“One of my texts was from Mom. She got called into work, but asked Bryce to pick us up.” He paused to read a few more, and to send a text to Bryce saying they had landed. “She just got off and will meet us at the house.”
“Bryce? Hmm… It’s nice that Travis’ dad would help. I didn’t know Jill was close to him.”
They walked down to the baggage claim area. Still checking their phones.
“Oh, shit… message from Rob. They are flying back from Boston tonight. Seems the ADA is being a dick and charging Jeremy.” Brayon looked at Chandon as they approached the baggage carousel.
“That fucking sucks.”
They grabbed their bags and stepped out the door to the loading lanes. They didn’t wait long, as Bryce was motioned over to pick them up. The two teens hopped into the car, and they left the airport headed for I-275 Northbound for downtown Tampa.
“Welcome home, boys.” Bryce was watching the traffic as he drove. “How’s your dad, Chandon?”
“He’s doing good. He’ll be in physical therapy for a while, but he’s lucky it was just burns and a couple of broken bones. I’m not sure if they are going to discharge him from the Air Force, or not.” Chandon cleared his throat. “We got the message about Jeremy. That sucks.”
“Indeed, it does. But he’s a strong kid. He’ll pull through this.”
Bryce pulled off the interstate onto Armenia Ave, and headed south towards Bayshore Blvd. A few minutes and a couple of turns later, they were pulling up to the Bolton household. The three men got out of the car, with Bryce helping the boys with their bags. Jill’s car was in the driveway.
“Mom, we’re home!” Chandon looked around from the front entry for his mother.
“I’ll be out in a moment.” Jill yelled back. “Tell Bryce to get himself something to drink if he wants.”
Chandon looked back at Bryce, who nodded to him, acknowledging he heard her. He was walking with his boyfriend towards their bedrooms, when he glanced back and saw Bryce enter into the kitchen, and easily get himself a glass.
“Chan, hun, are you okay?” Brayon’s voice was low. “You’re acting weird.”
“Bryce knew where the cups were.” Chandon replied, his voice equally low. “He’s been here before.”
Brayon gave Chandon a kiss on the cheek. “Don’t read too much into it. It’s probably nothing.”
Chandon shrugged as they went to their rooms.
Jill stepped out and walked into the living room, where Bryce had sat down on the couch. “Hey.” With a quick look before, she leaned down and gave him a kiss. “Are we ready for this?” She then sat down on the opposite side of the couch.
“I am. We’ll tell Travis later this week. We don’t need to dump this all on him at once.”
A few moments later, Brayon walked out to the living room. “Chan is in the bathroom. He’ll be out in a moment.” He moved on to the kitchen to get some water, before he came back and sat down on the loveseat.
Jill was about to say something, when Chandon walked out. “One moment.” He likewise grabbed a water, before he sat down next to his fiancé.
“How’s your dad?” Jill asked her son.
“He’s doing okay. He’ll have some PT to do before he can be one hundred percent, but he’ll do it. You know Dad.”
“That I do.’ Jill smiled. “Boys, we need to talk. It’s not the right time, especially with you just getting home, but with what’s going on with Jeremy, we have to do it this way.”
“Okay… what’s going on Mom?” Chandon looked worried.
Jill glanced over at Bryce. “Chandon. The easiest way is the direct route.” He paused. “Your mother and I have been dating for the past two years. Since we met at the hospital the first time, my son was assaulted.”
Chandon and Brayon sat stunned. “Two-years, and you didn’t say anything Mom?” Chandon slumped some. “Why hide it?”
“Because I asked Bryce not to say anything. Mainly, I didn’t want to hurt you, when you were talking about Luke and I getting back together.” Jill had a look of shamefulness. “I shouldn’t have hidden it from you.”
Chandon nodded. “I’m not mad at you for having a boyfriend, nor for hiding it. I am hurt you didn’t tell me before now. But—” He looked over at Brayon. “—I know how being in love can affect you.”
“This is going a lot easier than I imagined.” Bryce glanced at Jill. “Chandon, also, I asked your mother to marry me.”
“And I said, yes.” Jill smiled at Bryce.
“However. Chandon, I would like your blessing in marrying your mother.” Bryce smiled at him. “I’m not going to try to replace your dad, I could never do that, but I want to be your friend, much like you two are becoming friends with my boy, Travis.”
Chandon was quiet as he processed what was being said. “You have it. I want my Mom to be happy. I know you don’t need me to say yes, but yes, you can marry my Mom.” He smiled some, got up and walked over to hug his mom. He then shook Bryce’s hand, before sitting down. Brayon wrapped his arm around his shoulder and whispered something in his ear.
“Yeah… Mom… You’re not the only one engaged. Brayon asked me to marry him and I said yes.” He stood up with Brayon, as they showed her the rings.
It was Jill’s turn to be stunned. “You’ve had those rings for four months now.”
“Yeah…” The boys sat back down. “I didn’t want to say anything until we had everything ready.”
“You know, I can’t be mad at you for hiding your engagement, because I hid my relationship from you.” Jill shook her head some. “When are you planning the wedding?”
Brayon cleared his throat. “Chan and I had planned to get married the weekend after our birthday. Then we read the laws, and I would never get my parents permission, and even though you’re my guardian, you can’t sign the forms for me. So, Rob suggested I get emancipated, and get married after that. So, we planned for this winter break, thinking the emancipation would be quick. It’s not. So, we’re waiting until after graduation.”
“You’re getting emancipated? How are you paying for that? Didn’t you just lose your job?”
Brayon sighed. “Yeah I did. Rob is paying for it, and we’re going through Carol, his family court lawyer and cousin of Adam. He wanted to do it as a wedding gift. As for the job, Adam said not to worry about it, he’ll help me get it back.” He grinned sadly at the others. “One of the texts I got while getting off of the plane was from Adam saying he’ll still help, and that he’s already working on it. Even with the asshole pressing charges on Jer.”
“Language young man, but yes. ADA King is an asshole.” Jill shook her head. “Always has been since I’ve known him.” She paused. “Well, I am happy for you two. You should have said something, I would have supervised, but I should have said something as well.”
After a little bit more discussion on the events unfolding, talk turned to the four of them going out for dinner.
Eventually, the couples all went to bed, with cares set aside for the rest of the night.
All mistakes are mine, and mine alone.
Thank you for reading.
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