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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

The Empty Spaces Between Us - 41. Chapter 41 & Epilogue

His fingers trembled slightly as he finished fixing the last button on his coat. Staring into the mirror the last few minutes had left Andy with the impression that he was staring far into his past. The clean shaven face along with the high and tight hair was a vision he hadn’t seen in so long, it seemed more like one of his dreams. Colonel Hickman told him his gloves were optional since he would be expected to put on a ring before the day was out, so he kept them in his pocket for now. Maybe later, if he thought of it, he would put them on.

“My god, if that’s the face I would’ve first seen all those years ago, I probably wouldn’t’ve given Jacob the time of day.”

Andy looked in the mirror at the smiling Tyler who was leaned back against the wall behind him. “Oh, now you tell me.”

Tyler laughed softly and walked up behind him. “You look fine. Stop fidgeting.” He brushed the back of the uniform coat carefully to remove some lint he saw there. “How do you feel?”

Andy sighed. “You and Tanner, I swear…” He realized today it was a legitimate question to ask. Since he woke up in a room that wasn’t his own for the first time in years, gotten a shower in his best friend’s home while five loud boys were running around and chattering amongst themselves while the adults were trying to herd them to breakfast and then to changing their clothes, things haven’t felt normal and he’s had this constant feeling of floating throughout most of it. “I’m fine. I took my meds with breakfast. You and Sean ran and got me my uniform and now I’m about as ready as I can get before…” A familiar constriction in his chest made his words falter. Today was the day. “Before it’s time.”

“It’s gonna be sunny and decent today, temperature wise,” Tyler said, off handedly as he turned Andy around. He smiled when he looked at all the ribbons on his friend’s chest. “What’s all these?”

With a dry, sarcastic voice, Andy replied, “all my employee of the month awards.”

“They bring out your eyes,” Tyler said, returning the sarcasm with a wry smirk.

Andy chuckled silently. “Heard anything from the other side of the battlefield?”

“Jacob texted me and said Brian might be starting to crawl up the walls, waiting for this to be over.”

Andy shrugged, unsurprised. “Sounds about right. Where are we with time?”

Tyler checked his phone. “Ten minutes to get you down there.”

“Sounds like we should get going then.” He took one last look at the face in the mirror before picking up his cover and tucking it under his arm. Taking one last deep breath he turned towards the door. Tyler stepped into place behind him as they exited the guest room and headed down the stairs to the kitchen.

As the click of their boots and dress shoes rang on the steps Tyler became acutely aware that this was likely to be the last special moment of his life in this house. He looked through the doorway to the living room and saw Stephanie holding Aaron with Liz and his mother keeping the boys as contained as possible. David was in the kitchen with Sam while Nate, Kyle and two of the members of the band, who were also in their dress blues, were standing outside on the patio waiting. The two older men watched them as they walked past and exchanged a few small smirks.

Andy stopped a few steps out of the door and took in the sights around him. Everything felt different. As if the world was suddenly made sharper to his eyes. The green of the leaves in the orchard nearly glowed in contrast to the azure blue overhead. Here and there a wisp of a cloud meandered across the sky and the sound of birds singing in celebration of the warm air and new life filled the soft air. His life was different now somehow. He’d been a son, a marine, a lover, a husband and a father and now his heart tugged at him. Like an excited child impatient to begin a new adventure. But the path ahead of him was insignificant compared to the road he travelled to get to this place. And he wanted, above everything else in that moment, to take a minute and remember how close he had come to this day never arriving.

The others stood next to him and watched Andy’s face as he stared out into the world. As Kyle stepped up and put a hand on Andy’s shoulder, he saw a warm, broad smile as he stared ahead of him. “Are you ready,” Kyle asked his best friend.

Andy looked at him with shining green eyes looking more confident than Kyle could ever remember seeing. “I’m ready.”

Kyle looked over his shoulder at Tim and Rich and nodded his head. They both silently acknowledged and headed off into the orchard to ready the band. He had spent all morning getting ready for this. Getting up early with Jacob to get the baby fed and then coordinate with Tim to make sure all their equipment was set up and everything worked. The band only had an hour to do the final checks before they headed back to get dressed and ready to play once the wedding started. Everyone had a task to perform even if they were not part of the ceremony itself. Stephanie and David were to watch the children while Liz and Colleen made sure that the catering arrived on time and were able to direct them on where to set up.

The entire wedding had a more relaxed feel to it compared to Kyle and Jacob’s day. Since it was all taking place outdoors and in one area, there was no need for a big delay between the ceremony and the reception. Tables were set up along with the picnic benches they had used the night before only in larger numbers. The entire list of guests was less than a hundred, giving it a closer, more intimate feeling. Most of the guests came from town but a few dozen were either friends of Brian’s from college, or other marines that Andy had served with. The atmosphere was much more casual due to the weather and everyone had been advised in their invitations to dress casually for the day.

David stepped outside and asked Kyle, “we’re ready?” When he saw Kyle’s nod he turned and went back inside and started getting everyone moving. In a few minutes, David exited the house leading a line of boys along with Stephanie, Liz and Colleen.

As the boys walked by, Tanner and Blake stopped in front of their dad as he knelt down and held his arms out to them. “Oohrah, daddy,” Blake said before kissing Andy’s cheek.

“Oohrah, Dad.” Tanner hugged his father’s neck, smiling brightly.

“Oohrah.” He kissed his sons, his most precious gifts. “Get going. Time to get you guys an extra dad.”

David smirked and motioned with his hand. “Come on, boys.” Andy released them and stood up to watch them walk down the ramp and into the orchard.

They four of them stood there want waited quietly. Nate didn’t directly answer any questions Andy or Kyle had about Stephanie, opting to just smile enigmatically and then look at the ground. “So, what’s new with you and Sean,” Kyle asked Tyler as they continued to wait.

Tyler felt his face burn a little, thinking about the news he had gotten the night before. “Ask me later,” he replied in hopes of putting off announcing his imminent departure.

“That sounds like bad news,” Andy commented as he looked around absently. “May as well tell us now.”

A feeling of embarrassment started to set in. “Don’t worry about it. This is your day.”

“Then tell us, so we can get back to it,” Andy quietly insisted.

With a sigh of resignation and the eyes of all three of them watching him, he gave them the news he was dreading in a quiet voice. “Sean starts his new job in two weeks. So, we’ll be leaving before then. Probably next week.”

Kyle looked a little surprised and Andy stoically regarded his shoes. Tyler felt his lower lip tremble as he watched them react. A part of him he didn’t know existed, the part of him that had never felt wanted or expected to even have friendships that ran this close and this deep had expected them to just shrug the news off as unimportant to their lives. And now, in this quiet moment shared with these people who had come to mean so much to him proved that in so many ways he was important to them. That they cared about his future and that his leaving was going to affect them. “I’m sorry,” Tyler whispered as he lowered his head.

He heard the click of Andy’s boots and then felt strong, comforting hands on his arms. “Don’t be sorry for wanting to have a better life.” Tyler looked up and saw a small but confident smile on his friend’s face. “Look at me. I became a marine and while there were some bad times in that part of my life, there were great ones too. I don’t regret my decision, even if I think I did it for less than perfect reasons. We’ll miss you but I’d be happier knowing you were living the life you wanted instead of being here, just going from one day to the next.”

Kyle’s phone buzzed prompting him to pull it out of his pocket. “They’re ready for us,” he read before stuffing it back in place.

Andy rubbed Tyler’s arm gently and smiled. “Let’s go.”

They filed down the ramp and made their way to the path that lead into the orchard towards their destination. Andy walked with his head up and his shoulders back, eyes clear as his measured steps clicked on the driveway where he could remember the sound of an unspent bullet tapping out the truth of how deep his depression had gone before he found the courage to admit he needed help. The soft crunch of the gravel on the path into the trees brought back the laughter of three boys who would one day grow up to be men. The gentle sigh of the wind through the leaves carried with it the memory of his father’s laughter as they picked apples together from a tree.

The uniform brought back memories of his time in the service and his body reacted accordingly. It helped him to push all the unimportant thoughts aside and focus on the moment that lay in front of him. As they reached the small copse just outside of the area where the guests were seated, he stopped and waited with Harry standing just within sight of the guests on the other side. Andy stood in front of his soon-to-be father-in-law and gave him a nod which Harry returned.

Behind Harry, Jacob, Troy and David appeared, all wearing shirts and ties with long slacks. Brian was nearby, Andy assumed, but was out of sight waiting until his signal. It had been agreed upon that Andy would enter ahead of everyone and Brian would be the last inside. He felt a tremor in his chest that quickly passed as he took a slow even breath. Harry stood patiently for the last moments of waiting to pass. He looked at Andy and smiled as he leaned in slightly and whispered, “I’m so very proud of you, young man.”

Andy lifted his eyes to meet Harry’s. He was never quite sure how to treat the man who had once disowned his son only to later see the error of his ways. In the last year, Harry had proven to be supportive, thoughtful and compassionate towards him and his sons and that became reason enough to earn Andy’s trust. When their eyes met, Andy saw only compassion and love in his eyes which made him smile a little even as he maintained the marine discipline that seemed etched in the uniform he was wearing and had come to respect again after once wishing those times and memories out of his life. Now he understood that no matter the scars, physical and emotional, he was a marine. And he always would be. “Thank you, sir.”

Elizabeth appeared from behind Harry and whispered to the group, “we’re all set.” Her eyes went to Andy, smiling a little at how handsome he looked. “Are you ready?”

Andy looked from her to Harry and then nodded. Harry put a gentle hand on Liz’s arm as she stepped out of the way for him. He stood still for a moment to whisper a silent prayer before he walked at a steady pace towards the other end of the clearing. Taking a last moment to make sure his cover was sitting correctly on his head, he calmed his nerves and felt the inner peace settle once again within himself. It was a new sensation for him that he was becoming accustomed to over the last year since his time away for therapy. The immeasurable guilt that he had carried in his heart since Brandon’s death had crushed him without him even being aware of it. Back then, he buried deep down inside to survive in a warzone and had gotten so used to avoiding the pain or even acknowledging it existed that overtime survival had become dependent on him never talking about what happened or even thinking about it. Even with everything else that was good in his life, with his children and his closest friends, the danger of remembering Brandon had become a battle his mind played out every day. It had even contributed to Andy’s avoidance of being around Brian. It was only when he found the courage to talk to Brian again and finding those old feelings still ran as strong as ever between them that his grip on Brandon’s memories – of their love that had been tragically lost – began to loosen until he was finally able to truly let go and live his life instead of punishing himself for circumstances he had no control over.

And here, in this familiar place, with his friends, old and new, was an old life made new again by this day that he had put off for far too long. “God works in mysterious ways,” Harry had said to him not long ago. Perhaps it was true, but Andy felt that God could have made it a little easier on him. But he was complete now. A man ready to live his life instead of waiting for the end to come. And no longer having to fight against the temptation to hurry it along. He still loved Brandon, and a part of him always would. But it was felt so small now compared to how much he loved the person he was about to commit himself to today.

The band began to play softly as Hannah sang. The song, “To get me to you,” was something he remembered from long ago and came to mind not long after Brian returned to his life. When he suggested it, Brian listened to it and agreed with him that it should be the song for their wedding. Tim assured them the band rehearsed it several times in the last week and once this morning after their equipment was set up. The first few notes of Tim’s guitar confirmed Andy’s confidence in his fellow marines. He took one last look at the others before stepping through and walking down the path past the guests until coming to a stop on Harry’s right. He turned and assumed a parade rest stance out of habit and waited. His eyes flicked towards the band and saw the men in their dress blues, with the exception of Nick who was in his army “Class A” uniform. The two wives on stage with them wore simple white spring dresses. A small smirk played on his lips as he thought about how thankful he was for their show of solidarity with him. He also noted his former commander was also in his dress uniform, complete with his officer’s sword. Even sitting, he had an air of silent dignity to him that garnered respect from the other guests around him.

Andy’s eyes went to the opening in the trees as the band played and saw Jacob and then Tyler begin walking down the path towards him. Fatherhood had definitely grown on Jacob, Andy decided. He had a new light shining in those blue eyes that didn’t seem to be dimming any time soon. Andy couldn’t help but wonder at his good fortune that he should have two friends who were as steadfast and reliable as those two. Troy and Kyle came next and seeing the two of them together in this place made it harder to keep a stoic look on his face. Decades may have passed between them, but his mind could still picture them as little boys the same ages as the sons they had now, running and playing together, growing together and forming a bond that had proven time and again to be unbreakable. There were words that could define their friendship, but they never seemed to quite capture the essence of that bond that existed between them. He could see signs of that same bond forming with their children. Whatever the future held for their boys; he knew it would be an interesting one. Lastly, came his brother Nathan and David. In the last year his brother was looking more and more like their late father. That he was walking in just ahead of David, who had taken the role of a father to him so many times in his life, made the pairing feel poignant. In his mind’s eye he could imagine his father would have been walking in between them and smiling just as proudly as the two of them were now.

Once David completed his walk and was standing at the far end, there was a drum beat and the entire band joined in to sing the final chorus as Brian stepped onto the path in his white suit with the blue bow tie that matched his eyes. Andy immediately snapped to attention and stood straight and proud as his eyes locked onto his lover and never wavered as Brian came closer and closer. The amount of love from the look on Brian’s face as he stepped up to him was enough to take Andy’s breath away and bring a sting of tears to his eyes which he was quick to blink away. His cheeks flushed slightly but he ignored it as the music ended and he knew all eyes were upon them.

After a small pause, Harry began to speak. What he said was lost to Andy’s ears as he continued to just gaze into Brian’s eyes. The sun was partially obscured by a stray cloud but there was enough light that to make Brian’s suit appear to glow. The moment and knowing just how far they had come to get to this moment were not lost to either of them. He was aware enough of his surroundings to know Harry was about to ask them to recite their vows.

“Brian? What would you like to share with Andrew for all of your friends and neighbors to hear?”

When Harry said Brian’s name, Andy braced himself for what was to come. They had worked out their own words for this moment but had chosen to not share them until this moment. Brian’s voice began soft, but with each word, he grew louder and more confident for all to hear. “I had a dream once. That the person I loved most in this world left when I couldn’t find the words to get him to stay with me. If I could have, I would have told him how much I loved him and always had since the first day I set eyes on him. I would have told him how much that first kiss and that first real taste of love meant. That I was sorry I didn’t feel strong enough to be the person he needed me to be. It never occurred to me that maybe he needed support as much as I did. That despite all the friendships we shared, maybe he felt as empty and alone as I did.

“I promised myself that someday, if the chance ever came again, I would tell him what was in my heart instead of hiding it behind jokes and smiles. So now I have this chance to say to you that you are my world, Andrew. There is no one else who fits in my life as good as you do. There’s no one I love hearing laugh more than you. Every day since we first rekindled our love has been a gift. One I don’t intend to ever return. I promise that, from this day, you will never be without someone who loves you and who respects you. Who accepts you for who you are and will always be there for you through whatever storm may come. You own my heart. And every day from this day forward, I will cherish every moment, every touch and every word that we share.”

It may have been his imagination, but Andy thought Harry’s voice sounded heavier as he looked to him and said, “Andrew, what do you wish to tell Brian in front of all of your friends and neighbors?”

Andy took a breath and ignored the shake in his voice as he started to speak. “I can still see in my mind, the kid I first met so long ago every time I look in your eyes. I remember how… how well you fit into my life. The fun we shared when we were with our friends and how every day, I thought about you before I even got to see you in school. I also remember how much I cried the day I left you and knew how big of a mistake it was. I was so scared of myself and my feelings for you, I made the wrong choice. And after going through years of hell and pain, heartache and loss, it was always you I thought about to remember what I could have if I was brave enough.

“Well, it took me a little longer than I had wanted, but I did find the courage to finally stop being afraid and stop hating myself. And when I did that, all I wanted in my life was you. You, Brian, are my other half. You are what makes every day worth living. You make it easier for me to be the example I want to be for my children, and you are the only person who I could share them and myself with. So, while I am far from perfect and will need someone to lean on from time to time, I promise you that I will always remember how precious every moment I get to spend with you is. I will always put your needs ahead of my own. I will make you laugh and hold you close when you need me. You complete my life and your love and your commitment to me has made me whole again when I thought I was going to be broken forever.”

Their eyes never wavered from each other as Harry motioned to Tyler who stepped closer and handed the golden ring he had been holding in his hand to the older man. “Bless this ring, O Lord,” Harry intoned. “Make it a sign of everlasting love that comes from you and binds these two people together.” There was a pause before Harry held the ring to Andy. “Take this ring as a symbol of your love and place it upon Brian’s finger.”

Andy carefully took the ring as Brian held out his hand. With no words, only the remembrance of the words they just shared, Andy slid the ring onto Brian’s finger. The moment it was done, there was a finality to the act. Like having crested a summit that had seemed too hard for so long that only now, when standing at the top, seemed such a simple accomplishment that it would become the foundation of the rest of his life. He heard Harry repeat the words, directing them to Brian. Brian’s hand gently took his and lifted it as their eyes maintained contact. Andy felt his heart swell as the feel of the cool metal touched the skin of his finger and slide into place on his left hand. In that moment, he knew that this bond was forever. And forever wasn’t going to be long enough to tell Brian all the different ways he loved him.

Harry’s smile was possibly wider than it needed to be as he spoke. “With their vows spoken for all to bear witness and the rings blessed, exchanged and accepted, I hearby declare from this moment, Brian and Andy are one. Bound in love and blessed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let no one pull asunder that which God has ordained.”

A cheer started somewhere in the crowd, but Andy and Brian were too engrossed in each other as they finally leaned their heads in together and gave each other a passionate kiss as their arms wrapped around each other. The cheer was swiftly joined with applause while a loud and echoing “Oohrah!” seemed to come from every direction.

As the cheering subsided, Harry put one hand on each of their shoulders and said in a louder voice, filled with pride, “I am blessed to present to you, my son and my son-in-law, Brian and Andrew Stewart.” The announcement was met with the guests coming to their feet to renew their cheers. The marines gave another loud shout of approval and celebration as Andy and Brian felt their friends draw near, silently showing their love and support for their union.

Harry stepped past the couple and spoke again to those in attendance. “I’ve been instructed to inform everyone that the food has arrived, is hot and ready to eat. Andrew and Brian invite all of you to gather and share in this meal while they attend to their pictures.”

With that pronouncement made, the newlyweds and their friends stepped out of the clearing into the trees for their formal pictures to remember this blessed day.




Brian sat at the long table next to Andy and the rest of their wedding party, eating and talking with the others amiably, even as his right hand would occasionally meet Andy’s left hand and squeeze it gently. It was almost a need to be reassured that it had all actually happened. He looked around the clearing and saw people he’d known most of his life. True, his father was the only actual blood relative of his to be there, but that seemed to matter less and less to him now. What mattered most was that he and Andy were almost done eating and soon, very soon, revenge would be the next course of their meal.

Having eschewed the traditional cake for a cookout, pies and other pastries for dessert, he and Andy had, like they had done many times before, paved their own way in regard to how they were going to celebrate their wedding day. But one thing was seemingly abandoned which had opened the door for Brian’s one plot to make this day memorable in a more private way between the two of them. If it wasn’t so serious, it could be considered a prank but, in truth, it was Andy’s fault and he had to pay for what he did. He had the good sense not to give himself away as the two of them talked and Brian’s eyes would occasionally wander over the crowd, taking careful note of his co-conspirators.

Andy at one point, leaned over to him and said in a hushed tone, “so, Tyler told us right before the wedding that he and Sean are planning on leaving next week.”

Brian regarded him with a little surprise. “Really? Why so soon?”

“Something about a job,” he replied with a shrug.

“Is he excited?”

“I haven’t had the chance to ask Sean yet. But Tyler seemed more worried about telling us than anything else.”

Brian rolled his eyes. “Leave it to that little boy toy to not see a good opportunity when it’s right in front of him. I’m glad he’s going to go out into the big bad world and start a life.”

“Still, I think we should have a going away party for them.” Andy looked around and saw Sean talking to Liz and Colleen at a table nearby. “When we finish eating, I’ll go over and say something to him. Nail down a date.”

Brian smiled while trying to keep any smug look off his face. “Sounds like a plan.” He knew that wasn’t going to happen and if he had his way, any thought of Sean and Tyler and them moving away would be out of his mind for a while.

Tim and the other members of the band started putting their plates away as Brian chewed the last bits of food from his plate. A quick glance to Andy’s plate revealed that he was likely done eating as well. When Brian looked around the clearing, his eyes met Tim’s for a fraction of a second, giving him a subtle nod and placed his right hand flat on the table. Tim, having received the pre-arranged signal, nodded and started calling the others together and whispering in their ears as one by one, the members of the band went back up to the stage, getting into position.

“Sweetheart,” Brian said innocently as a pleased smile lit his face, “do you remember how you proposed to me?”

Andy chuckled with a confused look. “Of course, I do. Took me forever to pull that off.”

“Hm, yes,” Brian replied with a slightly widening smile. “I’ve been meaning to get back at you for that.”

Andy’s look became more cautious as he looked around. Nothing seemed amiss or out of place. “Okay… Well, I’m sure you’ll think of something when the time comes.”

With those words, Brian knew he had succeeded. “I’m sure I will.”

The other guests noticed the band were all back on the stage and there were a few scattered claps as Tim adjusted the guitar over his shoulder and his microphone stand before he spoke into it. “Hope everyone had a good meal. Pretty soon it’ll be time to work it out but for right now, I just wanna introduce the band to everyone.” Brian smirked as Andy’s attention was drawn to the band as it looked like they were getting ready to play. Tim went through the roster to all the guests, feeling it was important to give credit were it was due while taking the opportunity to make a joke about sticking the army guy behind the drums so he wouldn’t be seen. “Before we start the real show, I think we should take a second and congratulate my friend and his new husband on probably one of the prettiest weddings I’ve ever seen.” There was a slightly louder applause for that before Time continued. “Also like to thank our host and fellow marine, David Howard for the venue today. This has been a great visit for us, and we appreciate getting to play for y’all.” His eyes went to the main table and a tell-tale grin appeared on his face which told Andy that something was up. “And now, it is my honor, as a marine veteran who served with Sergeant Andy Stewart, to get to play the song for his first dance. Let’s give the happy couple another round of applause.”

Andy’s eyes widened in surprise which was only heightened as Brian was already out of his seat almost as if he knew it was coming. “Come on, dear,” Brian said too sweetly, “We can’t disappoint our guests.” Brian removed his suit jacket and put it on the high backed chair Jacob had made for the him which matched the one Andy was sitting in. He put his hand on Andy’s arm and gently but insistently pulled him to his feet.

As he got up, Andy looked at his husband and said in a low voice, “I thought we agreed we weren’t going to do this.”

“I lied,” Brian replied simply as they worked their way around the table.

“You lied?” He knew this was all Brian’s doing and while he did feel unprepared, it was difficult to keep a smile off his face as he saw the look of triumph in Brian’s eyes that only he could have noticed. “Less than an hour being married and you’re already lying to me?”

“This is payback for making me cry when you proposed.” Hand in hand, the two of them came to the middle of the space that had been cleared for any dancing after everyone was finished eating. Brian was magnanimous in victory and let Andy lead as they joined hands and waited. “By the way you look dashing with your uniform and your hat.”

“It’s a cover, not a hat. All you ever dreamed it would be,” Andy asked with a sardonic smirk.

Brian grinned. “More.”

Tim’s voice filled the area one more time. “Andy? Brian? This is for you.”

As the first few notes began to play, a question formed in Andy’s face, not recognizing the tune or what to expect.

“Baby,” Brian whispered, “if you’re going to cry, just lean your head on my shoulder.”

Andy became a little concerned until Tim began singing and the words went right to his heart.

Well here we are again
I guess it must be fate
We tried it on our own
But deep inside we’ve known
We’d be back to set things straight.

Andy stared softly into Brian’s eyes. His feet moved on their own as he stared at his lover, his best friend and now his husband looked up at him with eyes that silently sang along with the words as Hannah’s sweet voice took over the next lines.

I still remember when
Your kiss was so brand new
Every memory repeats
Every step I take retreats
Every journey always brings me back to you.

Andy felt his body flush as the words struck home and punctuated the day. He’d never heard the song before, but the words seemed like they were made just for them. As Tim and Hannah sang the chorus in perfect harmony, he felt tears come to his eyes. But these were happy tears. How fitting it was that he was wearing the uniform that had taken him away from his friend and lover for so long because it was in that moment, as he felt a tear fall onto his cheek, that he felt like a soldier who had finally come home from a long fight.

After all the stops and starts
We keep coming back to these two hearts
Two angels who’ve been rescued from the fall

And after all that we’ve been through
It all comes down to me and you
I guess it’s meant to be
Forever, you and me
After all.

They danced slowly, turning and holding each other close. The look of complete love and devotion in Brian’s eyes made Andy feel truly at peace inside. Even as a few more tears fell from his eyes, and a few from Brian’s followed, he knew only happiness and a relief as a weight fell from his soul.

When love is truly right
This time, it’s truly right
It lives from year to year
It changes as it goes
On and on the way it grows
But it never disappears

This was his life now. The past: the war, the killing, the dying… Brandon… it was all back there where he couldn’t go back. And now, within this moment that only the two of them shared, it was all gone. What he held in his arms was his future and a feeling of renewed excitement of all the potential of that future grew within him. He would keep the memories of his lost friends and his lost love in his heart and he would honor them as he should. But this love was the bandage that had been placed on his soul to heal the wound and made him whole again. No one else could have done that. Only Brian. Only his love. Not bothering to hold back, he pulled Brian in closer and kissed him with a yearning that defied description.

Some of the guests would remember the excellent performance from the band and see the play of emotions on Andy and Brian’s faces as they danced. Other’s would be struck by Tim and Hannah’s voices as they sang with practiced harmony and real emotion as they made every word sound heartfelt and pure. Their friends would see the two newlyweds as they were meant to be: Together forever. And two men, older, wiser and well aware of the struggles and heartaches Andy and Brian had endured, stood off to the side of the clearing and watched with a shared look of stoic pride as a promise of love was made with heart instead of words that would prove to bind their union even stronger than before.

Colt had silently come to stand next to David who had eyes only for his boys. The officer knew that look and silently approved. It was the look of a man determined to protect his own, no matter what cost. They stood there, side by side, watching as one by one, other couples joined into the moment. Occasionally, Colt’s eyes would glance over at David, sizing him up. David’s eyes were drawn to him once or twice as they stood there silently, watching the scene before them.

“I have a question I’m not sure if you want to answer or not,” Colt finally muttered.

David cocked an eyebrow. “Go ahead and ask then.”

“How bad did it get for him?”

David wasn’t expecting it or the obvious concern the officer showed for a former subordinate. “I took his guns away from him.”

Colt nodded slightly as if expecting that. “Tough thing to do. You did a good job, though.”

David sighed. “I guess. Maybe too good of a job,” he smirked with a little note of bitterness.

Colt looked at him, perplexed. Too good?”

A small smile lifted his lips even as a look of sadness filled his brown eyes. “My boys are all grown up now. They don’t really need me for anything anymore.”

Colt snorted. “Only just now? My youngest is nineteen and I barely can get him to answer his phone when I call.”

“Oh, I think for the last few years they’ve just been humoring me. It’s a hard thing to realize one day you wake up and you got kids and grandkids. They’ve got goals, they’ve chased down their dreams and living a good life.” He took a drink from the glass in his hand and sighed again. “You want to still be their father and protect them and keep them out of danger. But you know the right thing to do is to step back and let them take the reins.”

Colt nodded in agreement. “Just means you have more time to do your own thing. I’m sure you have one or two dreams left.”

David nodded as he watched his family from a distance. He couldn’t hide the smile as he watched Matt and Blake playing with Carter. Stephanie talking with Nate and Lisa as she held Aaron in her arms while his fathers danced to the music. He watched little Emily swing around the three of them, his paternal instinct keeping tabs on her to make sure she didn’t go out of sight. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Sam approach only to see him slow down slightly with a curious look on his wrinkled face.

“What’re you doin’ hiding over here,” Sam asked David as he looked from him to Colt.

“Apologies, sir,” Colt said as he extended his hand. “He was talking with me about Andy. Colonel Colt Hickman. I was Andrew’s commander when he was in Afghanistan.”

Sam took the offered hand. “Sam Adams. Nice to meet you.”

David realized something was up from the look on Sam’s face. “Sam’s my best friend from when we were kids. What’s up, Sam?”

“Oh, nothing,” he replied with a shrug. “Just wanted to make sure you were okay standing all the way over here.” Sam gave Colt another appraising look. “I’m gonna go keep Emily entertained before she decides she wants to bolt for the woods.”

David gave him a questioning look. He came over just to tell him that? “Alright…”

Sam gave him a meaningful look before looking back at Colt before grumbling, “I’ll leave you two to do whatever it is you marines do.”

He watched his friend walk away, wondering what silent message Sam had been trying to tell him. It was too late to chase after him without looking rude to Colt, so he opted to just remain where he was and figure it out some other day. “Emily is his granddaughter,” he found himself explaining to his companion. “That’s Troy and Liz’s baby girl along with Chase and Carter.”

“I thought I heard one or the other calling you ‘grandpa’ earlier,” Colt replied with a little confusion.

David smirked. “It’s kind of complicated.”

Colt looked around and shrugged. “I’m not going anywhere.”

David turned to regard him curiously. “You mentioned you have a kid…”

“Two,” he supplied. “Boy and a girl. Tony is serving in San Diego right now and Lauren is in college.”

“Where’s your wife then?”

It was Colt’s turn to smirk. “Probably somewhere in Texas with her boyfriend. Been Divorced for three years.”

“You still wear the ring?”

Colt looked down at the ring on his hand. “Mostly to dissuade women from coming onto me. I’m pretty much done with women from here on out.”

David nodded in understanding. “Being single isn’t easy.”

“Oh, I didn’t say I plan on staying single,” Colt said. “Just said I was done with women.”

David hadn’t been prepared for that and now understood the look on Sam’s face. How did he not see this coming?! “Oh.”

Colt’s expression didn’t change but the amber eyes seemed locked onto his. “You wanna tell me more about your ‘complicated’ family?”

On the other side of the clearing, Tyler was dancing slowly with Sean who was staring down at him with a gentle smile. “So, how did they react?”

Tyler blushed and giggled slightly. “How do you know I told them?”

“Just a feeling, I guess,” Sean replied as he held his lover close.

“Andy just… accepted it,” Tyler said with a little huskiness in his voice. “Kyle looked a little sad too. I didn’t really make an announcement. Just told them while we were waiting. I’m sure the news will spread. Oh, shit, I need to tell Ma. And David. I should tell him myself and not hear it second hand.”

“Probably should’ve told her first,” he replied with a chuckle. “Are you ready for this? It’s a big change.”

“Yes,” he said with a confidence he was surprised to actually have. “It’s going to be hard at first, I know. There’s still so much to decide what I’m going to do with my stuff and my truck and closing out my accounts…”

“Hey.” Sean gripped him a little tighter to break Tyler out of his verbal list of things to do. “That can wait until tomorrow. Let’s just enjoy today, and tonight, when we’re in bed after I’ve made love to you, then you can start making your list.”

Tyler smiled and gave in and let it go for now. The music was so fitting, and the band’s voices were perfect for the moment. It helped make all those worries and concerns melt away. He gazed up at Sean and said, “I love you. I can’t promise you a dream like Andy and Brian, but I promise I’ll always give you the best I’ve got.”

Sean leaned in and kissed his lips softly. “And I promise you that I will always give you the kind of love and devotion you deserve.”

The party continued for hours as neighbors chatted, couples and singles danced and sometimes sang along to the music as the band continued to play. Pictures were taken by nearly everyone to capture special moments, excited children playing on the edges of the clearing or fun, humorous episodes. Other group pictures were taken as well so everyone would have something with which to remember the warm sunny day that they were all able to appreciate.

Well into the party, the boys gathered in a circle to discuss the news. “So, what are we going to do for Sean and Tyler before they leave,” Kyle asked the other four.

“I think it’s best to give it a day or two to let them settle their own plans before making ours,” Troy replied. “I’ll pester Tyler on Monday and get some details from him. We can go from there.” He turned his attention to Andy and asked, “so, when am I going to be seeing you back at work?”

Andy shrugged. “Probably Monday or Tuesday. We’re gonna wait until summer vacation to go anywhere and take the boys with us.”

“Well, good. I can use a good set of hands right now.”

“Speaking of working,” Brian interjected with a smirk. “I heard that Mr. McMullen is retiring at the end of the year.”

Jacob frowned in thought. “McMullen? The history teacher? So what?”

Brian awarded him with a knowing smirk. “That means his job is opening up. And I think I’m going to apply for it next week.”

The others were all caught off guard by his pronouncement. “You wanna be a high school teacher,” Troy asked in surprise. “Here?”

“I don’t see why not.” Brian shrugged absently. “Blake is starting kindergarten in the fall and that’s going to mean I’ll be without anything to do most of the day. I want to stay busy and do something. Besides, I kind of feel like I’d be giving back to my community.” He looked to his husband to get his reaction.

Andy examined him thoughtfully before he smiled. “If that’s what you want to do, then I’m fine with it.”

“Shit,” Jacob said with a grin, “he’s going to be teaching all of our kids eventually.”

“Just one more reason to fear me,” Brian countered sarcastically.

They all chuckled amiably at the notion. Kyle shook his head and said absently, “that’ll mean I’m the only one without a job. I’ll need to fix that.”

“Bullshit,” Jacob spat. “You’re being a great dad and that’s a hard enough job. Plus, don’t think I didn’t overhear you on the phone the other day.”

Kyle smiled shyly. “That was just a consultation. But, The DA’s office in Pittsburgh somehow found out about me living in the area. Emailed me to see if I was interested in prosecuting again.”

Jacob smirked slightly. “Are you?”

“I can’t say it doesn’t interest me,” he replied. “We’ll see.”

“Let’s table all this for later,” Brian said. “It’ll all work itself out. I want to dance.”

Stephanie grinned as she bounced Aaron in her arms. His happy grinning face. “Uh, oh,” she laughed as she looked into his open mouth, “I see a couple teeth starting to show.”

“I wonder if he’ll be a howler like Andy was,” Lisa Stewart said as she moved closer to see for herself. “I used to pawn him off on Peter when he started getting around this time.”

“Well, I’m sure Jacob and Kyle are prepared,” Stephanie muttered. “They tend to be, at least.”

“What about you,” Lisa asked her meaningfully. “You have any plans of your own?

Stephanie rolled her eyes. “Anything is possible.” She brushed her hand through Aaron’s black hair that seemed to be fuller than she remembered. “Man, he’s gotten heavy. What’re they feeding him?”

Lisa laughed. “He’s just growing. Here, let me.” Stephanie passed Aaron over to Lisa who seemed all too happy to encounter a new person. Lisa smiled happily at the child.

With her arms free to rest for a moment, she looked around for familiar faces and saw Kyle and Jacob off to the side with Andy, Troy and Brian. “I wonder what they’re up too?”

Lisa glanced in that direction and smirked. “Knowing them, anything is possible.”

“Planning on taking over the world, no doubt,” Sam muttered wryly as he came up behind the women. His attention went immediately to the baby who squirmed and reached out for him.

Lisa was a little surprised but let Aaron go to Sam. “Friend of yours?”

Sam’s face brightened noticeably as he held the baby in his arms. “Something like that. We’ve been talking last couple times I’ve stopped by.”

“You old softie,” she declared.

Sam ignored her and cast his eyes over to the side where David was still standing with that new guy, Colt. “Just doing what I can.”

Brian grinned as Andy spun them around to the music. “How are you feeling?”

“Right this second?” Andy leaned in closer and kissed his cheek. “In love.”

“Really? With who?” They shared a laugh, feeling that familiar sensation between them that seemed to never get old. Brian’s eyes were drawn to something on the other side of the clearing. His eyebrows raised and an impish grin appeared on his face. “About damn time…”

“What,” Andy asked curiously.

“I think someone’s getting laid tonight.”

“Well, I would hope so.”

Brian giggled. “I wasn’t talking about us, which, by the way, yes, we are.”

Andy laughed. “Okay. Who were you talking about then?”

“Our back-up-parent,” he said with a conspiratorial grin.

Andy looked at him with a dubious smirk. “What? With who?”

“Turn me and then look over my left shoulder.”

Andy humored him, turning them around and dutifully looking over his shoulder. He frowned in confusion. “I don’t see anything. Just him and the Colonel talking.”

Brian rolled his eyes. “Look at where his hand is. On David’s back.”


Brian sigh in exasperation and took the hand on Andy’s shoulder and moved it down to where he had seen it seconds ago on David’s back. “There. How many times does Troy or Kyle put their hand on you there?”

Being on the receiving end gave him a new perspective. “Yeah, but… Are you sure that’s what you saw?”

“As sure as I know who I got married to today.”

Colleen sat there, feeling a little stunned as she looked at her son’s face. “Wh—” She went from looking at Tyler to Sean and back as they sat there patiently after explaining their plan to leave. “This seems so sudden. I mean, are you ready for this?”

Tyler smiled and nodded. “Yeah, Ma. I’m ready for this.”

She stared at him as she took in the sudden changes that were going to take place before her heart was ready. “Well. I guess there’s no real way of stopping you. I don’t want you to leave, at least not this soon. But I can tell this is what you want. And I want you to be happy.” Tyler visibly relaxed. It made her smile a little, seeing the relief in his eyes that she wasn’t going to cry, or act upset. She wasn’t looking forward to it. But she knew this was a path her son wanted, and she couldn’t be selfish just because he was going to be moving so far away. “But,” she pointed a stern finger at him, “I expect you to still visit.”

“Oh, I will,” he assured her. “I’m not sure when exactly, but I’ll find time to visit for holidays and stuff.”

“I’ll make sure he does,” Sean added. “Whenever he’s on a semester break. Or later on when he’s actually got a job.”

Colleen looked at Sean. “I’ll be holding you to that.”

“Ma.” Tyler moved closer to his mother and took her hand in his. “Thanks. Thanks for… well, for everything.”

She smiled and leaned over to kiss his cheek. “I know you’ll make me proud. You always do.”

Colt Hickman stared out over the slightly smaller crowd in the clearing as he digested all that he learned while standing there. “So, he’s your son-in-law as of a year ago. But he’s lived with you since he was eighteen. And before that, he was just a high school kid your son met?”

David nodded with a prideful smile. “Yes. He’s got his own trade as a carpenter. He makes a whole bunch of stuff now. He made the door you were asking about earlier.”

“That glowing door?” Colt looked over the crowd and finding the man in question they were talking about. “And he has a baby.”


“With a girl who also had a baby with your son.”

David chuckled and nodded. “It’s not that complicated when you think about it.”

“The more I think about it, the more complicated it sounds.” A faint smile appeared on his lips as he regarded David. “I thought small town living was supposed to be simple.”

“Don’t believe everything you’re told.” David found himself closer to Colt than they started out. He couldn’t say he disliked the idea of being closer to him. The touch on his back earlier hadn’t gone unnoticed. The remembrance of that touch still lingered in his mind. “So, what’s next for you?”

“Well, I have another four months left before I retire. After that, I thought I might go back home for a bit. Last time I checked I had a house in Georgia.”

“Where abouts in Georgia?”

“Just outside of Savannah,” Colt answered. Impulsively, he added, “You should come and visit.”

David chuckled and shook his head. “Four months from now I’ll be knee deep in harvesting all this.”

Colt’s face took on a little more stoicism. “Well, maybe some time.”

David shrugged. “Though… you could come visit here for a few weeks. See what this place looks like when it’s in full swing. And then after that, who knows what could happen?”

Colt nodded slowly as the idea took root. “I think I can manage that.” He turned again so that he was just standing beside David, looking out at the crowd and listening to the music. “I brought a bottle of scotch with me to celebrate, but Andy and the others seem preoccupied.”

“I wouldn’t mind some. It’s been awhile.” He took another long look around and then added, “but we sort of have a rule in the house against alcohol. For Jacob’s sake, that is. But, if you wanted, we could go share a few drinks in my room. We wouldn’t be disturbed there.”

With a slow nod, Colt replied, “think we should say something to anyone before we leave?”

“I don’t need anyone’s permission. Besides, I can show you the rest of the place on our way back to the house.” He smirked a little to himself at his next thought. “I imagine you might be a little hot in that uniform anyway.”

“Lead the way.”

Taking one more look around, David motioned for Colt to follow him and they stepped into the trees and out of sight.

As the sun began to settle into the western sky, the guests started to thin out. After celebrating all afternoon out in the spring weather, many guests said their goodbyes and wished the newlywedded couple their best before departing. Tim and the rest of the band eventually finished for the night with one last song before thanking everyone still there. They began the long process of packing up their equipment and carrying it all back to their bus, intending to head out after they shower and change for the long trip back where they came.

Andy, Brian and the others remained, sitting quietly at some of the tables, talking and sharing stories. The comfort of their friends and family around them seemed like the perfect ending to the day. Tyler and Sean sat together and watched as Kyle played with Aaron. Jacob had Matt snuggled in his arms while Troy and Liz had their children sitting around them. Blake and Tanner sat with their dads as they quietly went back and forth about what they were going to call Brian now that he was officially their dad. Nate commented on the look on Blake’s face, as if he’d been given a new toy to play with.

The band and several other marines who had come to see their former comrade get married all gathered together for a group photo and before it was done, there were several more family pictures taken. Plans were made to reunite the next day to help remove the stage and clean up the area, making good on their promise to David that they would leave the place in much the same way as they found it. After the last of the guests were escorted back to their cars, the band had left and the day was officially done, Kyle locked up the side gate to the orchard and made his way back to the house as twilight settled into night. Along the familiar path he found Jacob waiting for him, smiling softly as they joined hands and walked together. “Matt and Aaron are already in bed.”

Kyle blinked in surprise. “Already?”

“It was a long day,” his husband confirmed with a nod. “I guess Stephanie fed Aaron a little while ago. That or Liz did. Or Lisa. Or Colleen. Man, that kid got around a lot today.”

Kyle laughed and squeezed his hand. “Wait till he’s walking on his own.”

“I think Dad went to bed early,” he added as he released Kyle’s hand only to wrap his arm around Kyle’s waist. “I didn’t see him, but I noticed his bedroom door was closed when I put Matt to bed.”

They walked through the darkening orchard as Kyle smirked. “Are you suggesting something?”

“I’m suggesting we grab something to drink on our way through the kitchen, take a shower and then call it an early night.”

“Just go to sleep?” Kyle grinned to himself, loving how Jacob tries to act subtle when he’s so obvious.

“How about we just get in bed and see what happens after that.” For the rest of his life, Jacob was never going to get tired of hearing the note of amusement in Kyle’s voice anytime he did this routine.

“Well, I guess so,” Kyle said with barely veiled sarcasm.

Jacob laughed softly and kissed Kyle’s cheek. “I’m so glad I get to spend forever with you.”

They exited the orchard and walked up to the green glowing door, a sign to all who come to this house that they are welcome. Without another word shared between them, they stepped inside and headed to bed.




Tyler lay in bed, feeling a nostalgic warmth fill his heart as Sean curled up behind him. The day had been wonderful and the sex at the end was nearly perfect in his opinion. Sean leaned in and kissed his neck as he softly asked, “what are you thinking about?”

“Tomorrow,” he answered softly.

Sean sighed contentedly and just enjoyed the feel and the thankfulness in his heart that they were together. “Lots to do tomorrow. Oh, I forgot to tell you,” Sean shifted slightly and moved into a more comfortable position while still holding onto Tyler. “Dad and I talked and he’s giving me the house.”

Tyler didn’t bother to hide his surprise. “Like, permanently?”

“Yup. It’s all mine as of now.” Sean rubbed his nose in Tyler’s hair, loving the way he smelled. “Well, ours, really.”

“What brought that on?”

“He said he thinks you’re a good influence on me,” Sean replied which brought on a good natured chuckle from both of them. “But I think that’s only half the answer. I think what he’s really doing is getting rid of Tracy and he wants to protect some stuff from her trying to get her hands on it even with a prenup.”

“So, if it’s yours and not his, then she can’t try and take it for herself.”

Sean nodded. “That’s my theory at least. But, anyway, the point is, it’ll be ours and no one’s going to just barge in without us letting them in.”

Tyler smiled in the darkness of the room. The way Sean talked about it, he made it sound as if them staying together was a foregone conclusion. He could remember Alex talking like that, with the notable difference being Alex was only interested in what benefitted him. Sean was sharing it with him to tell him that he wanted their lives to be shared. No splitting things, no fighting, and no regrets.

Years ago, Tyler was just trying to survive in the world. Now, he felt as if he was on the cusp of something much bigger. It was exciting and frightening. But he knew Sean was always going to be there, offering what support he could give. And in that way, Tyler felt as if he really understood Andy’s love for Brian. And Jacob’s love for Kyle. It wasn’t just because of a desire to not be alone, but to share their lives. To be stronger and more resilient together than apart. And that’s how he felt with Sean. “I think it’ll make a great home for us.”

Sean sighed and closed his eyes. “I’m glad. But we can talk about it tomorrow.”

“Yeah.” Tyler closed his eyes and felt his body relax. As he drifted off, his last thought was that tomorrow was going to be a good day.







The quiet but insistent buzzing of Kyle’s phone alarm brought an involuntary groan from his throat as he stretched and reach towards the nightstand to silence it. Forcing himself to open his eyes, his eyes strained to take in the sun's light coming through the window and illuminated Jacob’s sleeping form that lay next to him. Years together and their first anniversary in less than two months hadn’t dulled their passion for one another. The single sheet combined with Jacob’s habit of sleeping on his stomach was the only thing leaving him decently covered. Not that Kyle minded. He allowed himself a few seconds to just watch his husband sleeping peacefully before getting of the bed carefully to let Jacob sleep a little longer.

He grabbed a pair of underwear and shorts from the dresser and kept it at that since everyone left yesterday after Andy and Brian’s wedding. The first thing his mind wanted was coffee but the first thing he had to do was get Aaron up and get him fed. As he exited the bedroom and into their sitting room, he could already hear Aaron moving about in his crib. Kyle sighed even as me smiled a bit, thinking that before too long they would need to consider getting him something bigger. When Aaron saw Kyle approach his little face lit up in a huge smile followed by a few happy noises which only made Kyle’s heart swell. He picked the baby up and cradled him in his arms before giving him a loving kiss to the forehead. “Good morning, my little angel.”

After a quick inspection and diaper change, he exited their rooms with the baby on one arm and headed down the hallway towards the kitchen. Within three steps he slowed his pace and a curious frown came to him as he listened to the complete silence of the house. He knew what time it was, and he also knew that by now his father should be awake, in the kitchen and preparing breakfast. Kyle stepped down the hall and into the kitchen only to find it empty. A half second of concern was quickly brushed off as he figured his dad was just sleeping in after the long day they all shared. If anyone deserved to sleep in for a change, it was definitely him.

Kyle went about prepping coffee and getting Aaron’s bottle ready, figuring he would wait a little while longer to see who gets up next. As the coffee brewed, and he held Aaron while he took his bottle, Kyle started to prepare a mental list of all the things they needed to do today. First thing that they needed to do was clean up the area of the orchard where the party had been held. While his dad may have been absent towards the end, Kyle knew he would be out there looking everything over. The sooner he and the others got it all cleared the better.

The second thing he could do while they were cleaning up, and that would be to talk to Sean and find out when he and Tyler expected to be leaving. He wanted to make sure he and Jacob throw them a proper party before leaving. He should also talk to Troy about possibly seeing about anything they could give as gifts for the event as well. The last thing on his mental list was to get Jacob to stop waking up with Aaron in the middle of the night. He understood how hard it is when you get used to getting up at the sound of a baby crying. But he also knew that there was a time when you had to stop and let the baby just go back to sleep. That way everyone will start sleeping through the night.

Once the coffee pot was full, Kyle poured himself a mug while keeping a firm grip on Aaron. In hindsight, he felt he should have brought Aaron’s carrier to set on the table to free both of his arms, but having a baby was a labor of love and he wouldn’t sacrifice the inconvenience when he got to watch that bright happy smile erupt from that face each time they made eye contact. He had to admit, Aaron was a much happier baby than Matthew was at that age. The memory of waking up nearly every morning to that scream Matt would give whenever he wanted to be up was still a strong one and he was relieved when Aaron didn’t show the same proclivities to scream for attention.

He was about to take Aaron back to bed with him as he was just finishing off his bottle when he heard a door upstairs open and close. The weight of the steps on the stairs told him from long experience that his dad was about to enter the room and he wasn’t disappointed. What was a surprise was the sight of his dad wearing only a pair of old shorts and a tee shirt? Any other day, his father always came out of his bedroom fully clothed and cleaned up, ready for the day. David’s hair looked like it was still a little mussed up from being in bed as well. He also moved with a slight lurch with his eyes still looking tired. That image changed when David realized Kyle was standing there leaning against the sink watching him.

“Oh.” If Kyle didn’t know better, his father looked like he was just caught doing something he shouldn’t. “What are you doing up so early?”

Kyle cocked an eyebrow in amusement to the question and countered, “what are you doing up so late?”

“Oh, nothing. I was just… forgot my alarm last night. Busy, I guess.” David moved towards the coffee maker, grabbing two mugs out of the cupboard and began to fill one as his son watched in muted confusion.

Kyle felt a moment of concern, wondering what was wrong with him. “Uh, Dad? Are you okay? I mean, I know we kind of pushed all this on you and Andy and Brian really wanted to have their wedding here and all—”

“Oh, don’t worry about me,” David said sounding rather more upbeat as he smiled and poured a cup of coffee. He was about to pour the second and then faltered for a moment, looking back at Kyle as if just now remembering he was still here. “You should go back and wake Jacob up. Have him start breakfast for all of you. Us. All of us.”

Kyle shifted Aaron on his hip as he giggled at his Dad’s response. Was he blushing? “Dad…! What is up with you? You’re acting all weird.”

“I’m fine,” David said. The smile on his face and sparkle in his eyes was maybe a little brighter than usual but he sounded no different, other than perhaps his over exuberance. “Go wake up your husband.”

Kyle’s eyes flicked from his dad’s face to the coffee mug his dad had pulled down but not filled. His instincts told him holding out could prove interesting. “He got up last night with Aaron. He doesn’t really need to be up for another hour or so and I figured he should get the extra sleep.”

“Well… you should go rest too. You had as big of a day as he did yesterday. Me and Aaron can hang out together until you’re both back on your feet.”

Kyle was about to press the issue further when they were interrupted by the click of shoes on wood as someone descended the stairs. Kyle’s eyes widened in shock and his fought hard to keep a big grin off his face as he watched David’s eyes widen as well and looked like a guilty man who had just been caught. As the footsteps approached, Kyle’s mind raced to try and guess its owner. “Oh my God.”

David pointed a finger at his son and said with a stern warning, softened only by his spirited smile, “shut up.”

Kyle choked down a laugh and was so grateful to be holding Aaron to keep his hand from flying right to his mouth as he watched Colt Hickman, still wearing his dress uniform from the day before, appeared in the doorway. When he saw David was not alone in the kitchen he halted in his steps and paused as he took in the scene between father and son. “I was wondering what was taking you so long with the coffee.”

Kyle fought very hard and managed to swallow the combination of a laugh and a scream of surprise when the other man appeared though his lips twitching as he fought down that laughter was probably a dead giveaway. “Good morning, Colonel. Would you like some coffee?”

“Actually,” Colt said absently as he looked at the time, “I should be heading out. I need to change and get back on the road to D.C. here soon.”

“I can put it in a travel mug for you,” David said, sounding a little eager to Kyle’s ears. Without waiting to be asked, he went about finding a mug for the marine to take with him.

“That’s not necessary,” Colt insisted.

“I insist,” David said with a smirk as he finished his self-appointed task. Once he was finished, he added, “I’ll walk you out to your car.”

“You don’t need to do that.” From Kyle’s perspective, Colt’s voice sounded a little softer and he thought he saw the man’s cheeks redden slightly.

David closed the distance between them slowly with a growing smile before saying in a quiet voice, “when you’re in my house, I call the shots. I think I made that pretty clear last night.”

They locked eyes as some kind of silent battle took place between them before Colt’s lips lifted up a fraction. “Alright then. But I should get going now.” He turned his head to Kyle, as if he just now appeared in the room and nodded. “Good to see you again.”

Kyle could only mutter a goodbye as he was too stunned to remember his manners. A giggle was fighting its way up to his mouth as Colt and David walked out and it was only David’s reproaching stare that kept it down until they both stepped out of the back door. He took a second to catch his breath and looked down at the baby in his arms who was totally oblivious to what just took place. “Your dad is going to be so pissed he slept in,” Kyle muttered as he turned around to look out the window at the retreating figures.

He couldn’t hear anything and all he saw was his father’s back as it seemed the two of them exchanged parting words and David’s head leaned in for a moment before he stepped back as Colt’s car came to life and slowly drove off down the driveway. When David came back inside he wasn’t surprised to see his son still standing there staring at him with a million questions in his eyes. David just chuckled and shook his head before saying. “I’m getting dressed and starting breakfast. Go wake your family up.”

Kyle impulsively stepped up to his father and gave him a loving kiss on his cheek before heading back to his room to get Jacob. While some things may not change, he was sure there was going to be some very interesting times ahead.

Copyright © 2019 Jdonley75; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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…when you’re in my house, I call the shots. I think I made that pretty clear last night.

I guess we don’t have to ask who was on top…

So FanLit was right! And my guess about the ring was accurate too. But I wouldn’t have thought in that direction without FanLit’s persistence!

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Lots of straight guys go to weddings to pickup bridesmaids and other single women. I’m sure Marines comprise a larger percentage of those than their population would account for. I’ve known several who could charm the pants off of anyone they targeted (never me, by the way).

I like the sexy clean-cut look, but not the psychological bent of those who enlist in the Corp. And all too often, the prettiest ones get gigantic, ugly tattoos to ‘prove’ how butch and manly they are. Active Duty and All Worlds porn videos feature many Marines who exhibit those traits.

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I can’t believe this story has concluded!

I realize the writers want to stretch their wings and try different genres and themes. But some very well-known authors stick to just one. Armistead Maupin at first appears to have written two stories unconnected to the Tales of the City series, but when you read them you find out that they both have a minor character that ties them to the Tales series. JRR Tolkien did write a few other things, but his Middle Earth books are what he’s known for.

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6 minutes ago, nix said:

I’m done reading and I can’t wait for Book 3: Sean and Tyler Become Parents, and Book 4: Colt and David Get Married, Book 5: The Matt and Blake Love Story, and Book 6: Presenting Matt and Blake’s Children, and Book 7: Kyle and Jacob Golden Anniversary.

You forgot the book that ends with Tyler & Sean’s wedding in their backyard!

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2 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

You forgot the book that ends with Tyler & Sean’s wedding in their backyard!

I guess it will also be written in the book 3 where Sean and Tyler adopt 7 kids of different ethnicities like any Hollywood couple/Brangelina. Jks. 

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2 hours ago, droughtquake said:

Lots of straight guys go to weddings to pickup bridesmaids and other single women. I’m sure Marines comprise a larger percentage of those than their population would account for. I’ve known several who could charm the pants off of anyone they targeted (never me, by the way).

I like the sexy clean-cut look, but not the psychological bent of those who enlist in the Corp. And all too often, the prettiest ones get gigantic, ugly tattoos to ‘prove’ how butch and manly they are. Active Duty and All Worlds porn videos feature many Marines who exhibit those traits.

Well, straight guys will do what straight guys do.

As far as marines in porn are concerned, I'm thinking that's a very skewed viewpoint of them.  My (very) personal experiences with marines have not been like that.

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