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The Conquered - Chapter 18: Blood and Relations

***** Andrew *****

I came to a very important conclusion early on Christmas Eve. Airports sucked! Not just sucked a little, but sucked with a capital S. Parking was a nightmare. People were rude and self-centered. Security hassles that everyone had to deal with became a personal affront during the holidays. But Don and Sebastian needed a ride to the airport, and with a very unsubtle kick to my shins, I actually parked the car and the three of us, Sean, Taylor, and I, braved the crowded terminal. Okay, so Don looked like he was going to wet himself in fear; but man, the crowds blew donkeys.

While Don and Sebastian checked in their bags, Taylor and I talked a bit near the arrival and departures sign. Sean stood by us, staring at the changing flight information, looking at all the fun and exotic places. "Where do you think he's looking to go, Taylor?"

"I'm not sure. Someplace warm probably. He's going to school in Florida."

I took Taylor's hand, mostly because he still gave that momentary stiffening before relaxing into a public display of affection. "What about Don? Do you think he'll make it?"

Taylor shrugged his shoulders. "I think so. I'm just grateful he isn't afraid to fly. We'd be bailing them out of jail for trying out the mile high club."

I snickered before grabbing Sean from behind and hugging him. "Where are you looking to go kiddo?"

Sean answered before he could stop himself. "Orange County. I've always wanted to go to Disneyland."

That information was stored for later use. "I'd like to go to New York. I've never been there, and it looks like a lot of fun."

Taylor came up beside us, sliding his arm behind Sean's other back. "I'd like to go to Boston. All that history."

Sean and I exchanged a look before snickering. He turned to us and scoffed. "Screw you guys. I like to learn new things."

"So do we, Taylor," Sean snorted, "but Boston? Why not Philadelphia or Washington?"

"You tell him, Sean. I'd like to go to Alaska."

Sean turned around, getting into the game. "Nah. Hawaii."

"Oh nice." I looked up at the flight board. "Hmm, let's see. I know." I pointed. "We should all catch flight 985 to Des Moines. Let's go to Iowa everyone."

Taylor started laughing. "Why would you want to go to Iowa?"

I leaned in and whispered in his ear. "I want to fuck you senseless in a corn field."


I shrugged my shoulders, and grinned a bit embarrassed. "I've always wanted to wear some overalls and nothing else, stand out in a field, and do a guy in a suit, like door to door salesman."

Taylor grinned and stared off into space for a moment. "Like a vacuum cleaner sales man." I could hear the dialog in his head, Suck on this hose, baby.

Sean started laughing. I pulled Taylor aside, so Sean couldn't overhear me. "Are you sure we can't give him his present at Mom's?"

"Hell no!" He hooked his hand behind my neck and nipped at my nose.

His eyes twinkled with mischief and I felt myself stirring. "Wanna give him some inspiration tonight? I can make you scream real good. Perhaps we can find a different place for the suction cup?"

"Behave. We're here for Don."

"Spoil sport."



"Horn dog!"

"You got it, and don't forget it, Bacon."

Don and Sebastian had finally checked in and headed towards us. Don looked nearly sick, almost green. He fidgeted and looked like he could use about ten Valium. I leaned in and whispered to Taylor, "If he farts, he's going to get to Wisconsin before the plane."

Taylor tried not to laugh, really he did, but he failed. Don gave us a sour look, but grabbed Sebastian's hand before we all headed towards security. The lines weren't too long and before we knew it everybody hugged. With a final wave, we saw them off to the gates and we headed back to our car. "Okay guys, what do you want to do until we head over to Mom's?"

Sean raised his head from his book and grinned at me in the rearview mirror. "Can we go sit in the hot tub?"

I glanced over at Taylor and grinned. "I think we can manage that."

Once home, Taylor went to the kitchen to make a small snack. Not that we needed it, because mom would feed us until we burst, but more to have something to do while Sean and I got the hot tub ready. I pulled the cover off of it, stared up into the gray clouds to see if snow would fall, and then made sure we had plenty of towels by the Jacuzzi.

When all was set, I pulled off my shirt and kicked off my shoes, stripping down. When I hooked my thumbs in my boxer briefs to drop those too, I glanced up at Sean, who had a dazed, bashful expression on his face. Oh shit. "Um... let me go see if Taylor needs help."

I hightailed it inside, grabbing Taylor from the back. "Um... sweetheart... was this going to be our usual skinny dip?"

Taylor looked at me over his shoulder. "Why?"

I turned him around to face me. "Because if we do, I think Sean will have a stroke."

Taylor started laughing. "Why would you think that?"

"Because when I stripped down, he stared at me like I was the last piece of chocolate on earth."

Taylor cupped my face and kissed me with a gentle brushing of lips. "Think locker room. Think showers at the gym. And remember, Sean is still coming out, a complete novice. I think he'll stare at both of us." He nipped my chin, licking at my beard stubble. "Just sit far away from me, or we'll show him stuff he should only hunt down on porn sites." He chuckled. "I didn't think you were shy."

"I'm not. But I don't want to scare him either."

Taylor reached down and grabbed my underwear-covered cock and purred. "It won't scare him, but it'll make him blush and probably get hard. It does that to me."

I grabbed him by the ass as I worked on his shirt. "Kick those shoes off, Bacon. Let's go give the kid an eyeful."

As he grabbed the plate of cheese, meats, and crackers and I got him down to his underwear, we made it out the sliding glass door. Sean sat by the side of the hot tub. When we made it outside, I looked over to Sean and called out, "Come on, let's soak."

Taylor set the plate of goodies down on the table by the side of the hot tub and I shucked my underwear and climbed up and into the water. When I had sunk in, I watched as Taylor looked anywhere but at Sean as he dropped his briefs and joined me in the water. Once he was settled, Sean looked shell-shocked as he started getting out of his clothes. He was so far gone; he tried to take off his pants over his shoes. When he was down to his underwear, I tried not to laugh, because the kid was tented. Finally, he got his shoes and socks off and slipped his boxers off and he stood hard and high against his belly. I took Taylor's hand and pulled him closer to me as Sean got in the water.

We all settled in, and Sean's blush faded. Taylor and I strived to make sure we treated everything as normal. None of us mentioned Sean's aroused state, nor did we comment on his staring. We just relaxed and joked about Don, about what would happen at Mom's, and moaned at how damn early we had to get up the next day to go to Taylor's. I was really looking forward to Christmas Eve.

***** Don *****

Thank God we'd been able to get a four-by-four at the rental place. By the time we got to Collinsville, the snow was falling thick through the night air. "Not that you can see anything," I said as we rode through downtown, "but here's where I grew up."

Seb gazed out at the seasonal lights and twinkling decorations. "Looks like Smallville on TV."

I laughed. "Now if only I were Superman, everything would be cool."

He looked at me, reached out, and squeezed my bicep through my coat. "Everything will be cool."

"I wish I had your confidence."

Seb smiled. I knew he wasn't as confident as he admitted, but he kept up a great front. "We bought your father a watch, your mother diamond earrings and your sister a killer bracelet. Trust me, it will be fine."

"I wish Taylor could prescribe. I could use some valium about now." I turned us onto Pine Street. We passed the cheery, snow covered, decorated houses as we closed in on my family home. I nodded. "That's my Aunt Meredith's house. I grew up climbing that apple tree in her front yard."

Seb smiled. "It's a beautiful town."

Collinsville was a beautiful town. It'd gone through a major slump in the late seventies and eighties, but they had revitalized in the nineties. Early two thousands economic slumps aside the town was doing well. I turned at the coach light at the end of the drive and parked behind my sister's Outback. "Here we are."

"Nice," Sebastian commented. He caught my arm before I got the door open and pulled me into a kiss. I melted. He had no idea how badly I needed that. "Just in case we don't get a chance after we go inside."

"I love you." I needed to say it. I needed to hear it. It was possible we'd be out the door before the night was over.

"I love you too." Seb looked at our luggage. "Want to bring it in now?"

I shook my head. "No. I don't plan to sleep in the place in emotional limbo. We go in, I try not to puke, and we come out to my parents. If they can't deal, at least we won't have to try to get the shit out of there in a hurry."

I shut off the car, and we got out. Mom opened the front door, peering out at us as we made our way up the drive. Seb was definitely not used to snow. "We were just getting worried." She smiled as we climbed the steps. "Did the weather slow you?"

I let her pull me into a hug, and then usher us into the house before answering. "Yeah, it started snowing as we left the airport."

Mom put out her hand to Seb. "Hello, Sebastian. I'm Gladdis, Donald's mom."

He shook her hand while shrugging out of his coat. "Hi Gladdis. Thanks for letting me invade your home."

I took Seb's coat without thinking. I always did. Just like I always held the door and led the few times we went dancing. The Prince Charming lessons had taken root early. I couldn't help it. Mom smiled at nothing in particular, and looked back at Seb. "Don't be silly. Any friend of Donald's is family."

I hung our coats, about to close the closet when I heard someone bounding down the stairs.

"Where's my Jar-head of a brother?" Lisa looked at me from the stairs before her gaze slid over to Sebastian. He was between us in age, and I could see the wheels turning. She shifted her weight over to one hip and her voice dropped a good half octave. "Hello." Did she just draw that out into a twenty-syllable word? I'd always thought Sebastian was beautiful. After a moment, I realized I wasn't alone in that assessment. If I'd had claws, they would have extended.

"Hello," Seb said as Lisa finished her descent, markedly slower than before. I swore she had a sway to her hips. "You must be, Lisa. Don didn't mention you were better looking than he is."

Smooth talker or not, after the handshake was over, I stepped in and put my hand on Seb's low back. I think I did everything but pin a badge on him that said "mine". "Hey short stuff, you've finally grown into your height."

Lisa rolled her eyes. "Is that all I get? Where's my hug?" I scooped her up and gave her a hearty squeeze. Okay, the claws were back in. She whispered in my ear before I set her down, "Thanks for coming home."

I wasn't sure what she meant until Dad came around the corner. God he looked old. He was only fifty-five. It was impossible to miss the limp and the slight laxity in the left side of his face. The last time I'd seen him, he didn't look a day over forty-five. He'd aged twenty years in three. "Where's that AWOL son of mine?"

"Dad?" I think I squeaked.

He shot me a gruff look. "Now don't you start. I'm fine."

Fine? How could looking ten years older than you were be fine? I looked at Mom, and she shrugged sadly. "He had a minor stroke over the summer. The doctors say he should make a ninety percent recovery."


Dad waved away my outburst. "Because there was nothing you could do. I wasn't dying."

Lisa shrugged. "They didn't tell me either. I only found out at Thanksgiving. I thought they'd told you."

What was I, an outsider? "You should have told me."

Dad frowned. "You know now. I'm fine, your mother's fine, Lisa's fine. That's all that matters." He looked about. "Where are your bags?"

"In the car."

"Well bring them in and then we can catch up." He walked into the living room and sat in his chair near the fireplace. Other than the slight limp, he really didn't move badly.

I looked at Seb. I had no idea what I should do. The plan didn't seem like such a good one any longer. I closed the closet and sat down on the couch. Seb sat down near me, but not so close as to be intimate. "We can get them later. It isn't like the room is going anywhere."

"I hope you two don't mind sharing the sleeper sofa," Mom said as she sat down on the arm of dad's chair.

"Uhm, no," Seb hedged, "that's fine."

"So you finally escaped that efficiency you found when you got out of the military?" Dad sure knew how to hit questions that could lead in very uncomfortable directions.

"Yeah, our..." Did I just say our? "Uhm... the apartment is a lot nicer." I slid my foot a little, behind the coffee table, until I could touch Seb's. What I wanted was to have him the way we normal sat. I wanted him right against me, hip to hip, with my arm over his shoulders. Anything was better than nothing.

"So, Sebastian, what is your family doing for Christmas?"

"My brother is spending it with my parents in LA." He looked at me, and then added, "Don hadn't seen you two in a while, so we decided to spend it here."

Fuck. There was no way to explain why I'd bring "a friend" across the Rockies, to the middle of Wisconsin. There just wasn't. I also just couldn't do it. Seb could have fucked me with an I-beam and I still wouldn't have had the guts. "We should probably go."

"What?" Mom looked horrified as I pushed off the couch. "Donald, you just got here."

"This isn't a good time, Mom." Seb followed me out of the room, looking at me like I was crazy. I couldn't do it. My father wasn't well. How could I tell him his eldest child was a faggot? I didn't make it to the closet.

"Donald Ethan Klein! You get your stubborn ass back in this room!" Fuck. Dad still had the tone. He may have looked older than his age, but his voice still carried the authority that could nail my feet to the floor.

I trembled so badly I couldn't move. Seb slowly slid his arm around my waist. I think he was the only thing that kept me from bolting for the door without the coats. "I'm here," he whispered, squeezing me.

We turned around and I stepped back into the room, barely. Dad looked at me with that look he'd always used when I'd done something I shouldn't have. "You came up here, after disappearing for years, to tell us something. I didn't raise a coward."

Yes he did. He had no idea how much of a coward he'd raised. It wasn't his fault. Dad had never been afraid of anything in his life. Seb was practically holding me up. I couldn't look at my father as I mumbled the words. "Seb... isn't my roommate. He's my partner." I took a deep breath, and let it out. "I'm gay."

The only sound I could hear was the crackling of the fire, the soft drone of Christmas Carols from the kitchen radio, and our breathing. My father was the one to break the silence. "About damn time."

***** Andrew *****

"Why didn't one of us set an alarm?" Taylor dried his hair, frustrated and flustered. He was so anal about being on time. It was only family dinner and presents. No one cared if we were a little late.

"Calm down, Taylor." I mussed his almost styled hair, causing him to growl obscenities at me, and went to put on my clothes.

"I should just cut this shit off," Taylor mumbled as I came back in and put on deodorant.

I tugged at his little pony tail. "Nah, I like the way it curls."

"It's a pain." He smoothed his hair back, making sure it was all in place.

I teased the little curl at the back of his neck. It was so damn cute. When his hair dried without the blowdryer, he had ringlets. I bent down and whispered in his ear while catching my fingers in his curly tail. "I like your curly, tail. It reminds me of my hot little pig."

Taylor rolled his eyes. "The things I do for you."

I chuckled. "The things you do to me."

"That too." He pushed my hand away from his hair. "Get your sweater on and pack the SUV." He finished putting on cologne while I pulled on my sweater. "I'll make sure Sean's ready."

Sean stuck his head in the room. "I am ready. You'd think with four hands you guys could get washed faster."

Taylor scowled. "Then help the big guy load up. I can get dressed faster if I don't have an extra set of hands 'helping'."

"Spoil sport," I teased.


Though there was no way we could get to the house on time, Taylor tried his damndest to do it. In addition to breaking nearly every traffic law known to man, I think he shortened our lives by a few years. I made a note to myself never to let Taylor drive when we were going to be late. Moira welcomed us at the door, hopping up and down to hug me tight. "You're late!"

"Merry Christmas, Sis." I gave her a squeeze, lifting her off the ground.

"And to you, big bro." She settled on her feet gracefully. Moira was too used to my hugs to get flustered or off balanced by the lift.

I grinned. "What do you think of the new step-dad?"

Moira stepped back and winked at Taylor. "I'm trying something new from the last time I met a new family member." She walked up and hugged Taylor to her. "Merry Christmas, bro."

Taylor hugged her for a moment before pulling back. "Merry Christmas to you, too."

"Hey, Sean. Merry Christmas."

Sean smiled shyly. "You too."

Moira looked at the three of us. "Well come on in, it's cold out here."

I stepped through the door and took Sean and Taylor's coats before they went put presents under the tree. I left Taylor to introduce Sean to Tom as I made my way into the kitchen. Buck hugged my mom, stealing a kiss while she washed something up at the sink. "Get your hands off my mother, you old fart!"

Buck jumped back and spun around, grabbing the counter. "I'll do no such thing, Son. Besides, I'm sure I'll have to use the crowbar to keep you and Taylor apart."

I laughed, stepping in to give Buck a hug. "Probably, Dad. Merry Christmas." I stepped back to look at him. "Did you hear from Kelly and Mark?"

"Yeah. They're doing great, but Kelly is so close, the doctor wouldn't let her fly home for Christmas."

"When's she due?"

"January 10th. Your mom and I are flying to Frankfurt on the second, so we can be there with her."

I looked to mom. "You're flying? Ms. Grace, I'm afraid of airplanes, Jackson?"

"Hush you. Now give me a hug."

I headed over to mom, so I could pick her up and kiss her cheek. "Merry Christmas, Mama."

"Merry Christmas, baby." She swatted my shoulder until I put her down. "Where are the other sexy men?"

"They're in the living room, Taylor's showing off Sean." I looked over my shoulder then stage whispered to Mom and Buck. "Think I should go rescue him from the perpetual blush?"

"Why don't we all go? Grab the punch bowl from the fridge, Andrew. Buck and I'll bring out the cookies."

When we got back to the living room, Tom and Sean were wrestling on the floor, laughing. "What the hell's this?"

Tom flipped me the bird as he pinned Sean to the ground and Moira bent down to tickle him. "He's being inducted into the Jackson clan."

Taylor came up to my side and wrapped his arm around my back, kissing me lightly. "Thanks. I was so worried Sean would be miserable today."

"I worried too."

Mom grabbed Taylor and hugged him. "No one goes unloved in this house, Taylor."

"Thanks Grace."

We sat down and drank eggnog, laced with enough rum to kill any hint of a stomach lining. I avoided it, as did Sean, but everyone else enjoyed it. We ate cookies and talked while Nat King Cole sang about chestnuts. After an hour, Mom got up and started handing out presents. When she handed a bunch to Sean, he tried to protest.

"Stop it, Sean. You're family." Mom's voice was warm and loving, just like any mother I supposed. Only it started off a bunch of tears that Sean blinked away before standing and walking from the room. Taylor and I both jumped up, which sparked the war between us with our eyes. I won. I walked outside to find Sean sitting on the swing, snowflakes falling in his hair. He was bent over, staring at his clapped hands between his knees. "What's wrong, Sean?"

"Why is everyone so nice to me?"

I sat by him, putting my arm around his shoulder. "In case you missed it, we love you."

He turned to look at my eyes; his tears trailing slowly down his cheeks. "I miss my dad. I miss him so damn much."

Damn if I didn't start crying too as I engulfed him in my arms. I knew what he was going through. I hate my father now. But after he first left, I tried everything I could to be a better son, so he'd come back. "I know, Sean. I know."

"Why can't he love me?"

I kissed the top of his head. "I wondered why mine couldn't either."

"Does he hate you because you're gay?"

I chuckled without mirth. "I haven't seen him since I was eight. He took off one night and never came back."

Sean pulled back, stared in my face for answers I hope he found. "I'm sorry."

"I was too, but I got past it." I stood and walked around for a bit before I turned back and kneeled in front of Sean. "In the last year, I've learned what a family is. I have Buck, who's a better dad than the man who fathered me. I have brothers in you and Lee. I have a loving partner. Families can be made. You don't have to be in the one you were born into."

"You all are being so generous."

"You're family." I shrugged as I said it. I couldn't be anymore truthful than that. "Come on, let's go see the haul you made."




I hugged him up again. "Because we love you."

When we got back inside, Mom was waiting by the door. She hugged Sean and held him for a moment. "Sean, I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable."

"It isn't that. I'm just... you're all being so loving and generous. I'm not used to it."

Mom pulled back and looked at me before taking Sean's face in her hands. "You're family."

He nodded, struggling not to cry again. "I know."

"Good. Now get in there and open presents."

We did. We opened gifts and munched on cookies. Moira got me a chair cover for my big, over-stuffed easy chair in the living room. Buck gave me a watch. Mom gave me a new sweater. Tom got cute and gave me a gift certificate for legal advice, with specific emphasis on domestic partnership contracts. Taylor gave me some new underwear, skimpy, brief things that were nearly sheer. Damn if I didn't plump up at that. Sean got me some water bottles with Goals & Dreams logos on them.

Sean made off like a bandit. Mom and Buck got together with Taylor and gave him a laptop computer, it was used, but it would do him wonders in school. Moira got him some shirts. Tom gave him a really nice pen. The man couldn't shop, but it didn't matter. It's the thought that counted. I hate shopping, Taylor knew it, but I was determined to go out and get Sean something on my own, specific for him. I got him some bedding for his dorm room in college, and a huge stuffed Mickey Mouse and Goofy for his bed. I couldn't take him to Disney World, but he could take a bit of magic to school with him.

Once we'd eaten and packed the presents in the SUV, we headed home. Sean fell asleep in the car, and a sense of excitement took me. Not that I wanted Sean to be a toy freak, but at least now, he could learn and experiment safely. With the books, the dildos, vibrator, lube, and condoms, he would now have some idea what to do when the time came.

We woke Sean up in the driveway and headed into the house, carting the booty with us. Taylor got out the chair cover and put it on and it immediately made the room look better. Okay, so I should shower before plopping down after mowing the lawn, but old habits are hard to break and I lived alone for a long, long time. Before Sean could go upstairs, Taylor called for him to wait.

We handed him the boxes and told him to open the one with the book first. As he tore off the wrapping and he knew what the book was, he blushed, again. "Thanks, guys."

"The other boxes you'll probably want to open in private." Taylor touched Sean's shoulder and smiled at him. "But if you ever have any questions, come to Andrew or me. And if you can't talk to us, you can go to Seb or Don."

I kissed Sean on the forehead as he balanced the new gifts on his way up the stairs. I grabbed Taylor and sat him down on my lap as I turned the chair to watch the falling snow. I kissed the back of his neck and nuzzled his hair, taking in his shampoo scent that drove me wild. "I love you, Bacon."

"I love you too." Taylor turned in my arms and started to kiss me when we heard a shout from upstairs that sounded like "Oh my God!" We both burst out laughing as I picked Taylor up and carried him upstairs, passed Sean's room and the shuffling of paper, leaving Sean to discover things in private.

Once we made it to the bedroom, I stripped us both down before crawling between the sheets. I turned on one bedside lamp and faced Taylor. I stared into his eyes as I began to stroke his cock, inviting him to do the same to me. We spent several minutes, just staring at each other as we stroked the other. When my time drew near, I kissed Taylor deeply as I erupted over his hand, only to feel Taylor follow quickly. After I cleaned us up with a towel, I spooned behind Taylor, kissing the back of his neck. "Ready for tomorrow?"

"As I'll ever be."

"It'll work out. I promise."

Taylor grabbed my hand and brought it to his lips. "I know."

"I love you, Taylor. Merry Christmas."

"I love you too." I curled around Taylor and drifted to sleep.

***** Don *****

"What?" Did I just hear him right?

Mom rubbed Dad's shoulder as she looked at me. "Honey, we've suspected for a long time." It surprised me that my legs didn't give out. I just stared at them, speechless. Mom continued, calmly, sadly, but with nothing approximating the condemnation or anger I'd dreaded. "You never dated girls, not once, not even for the Prom. You never mentioned them. You never had magazines, or pictures, or anything most teen aged boys had."

Dad snorted. "We weren't born yesterday, Donald. Your mother and I were in our teens and early twenties in the late sixties: protests, free love, flower children, and all that. The only reason you weren't a have-to baby was because God gave us a chance to get settled before blessing us with children. It certainly wasn't from lack of fun."

"Carl," Mom sighed, rolling her eyes. She looked back at me. "Donald, please sit down."

I didn't. I just braced myself on the back of the couch and looked over at Lisa. "What about you?"

She shrugged. "I figured it out on my own."

I groaned, dropping my head. God was laughing at me. "I'm sorry."

"For what, Donald?" Dad sounded angry. "For not telling us or trusting us? Or are you apologizing for being Gay?"

"Both I guess."

"Well I accept your apology for the lack of trust. As for being Gay, don't be an idiot." I looked at him and he frowned. "For God's Sake, Donald Ethan, sit down."

Seb nudged me and I walked around the couch and sat. This time Seb didn't bother with the distance. He sat right next to me, hip to hip, and didn't let go of my hand.

Dad patted Mom's leg. "I think he needs something, Gladdis." He looked at Sebastian. "How do you like your coffee?"

"Black with sugar, like Don does."

Mom left, and I tried to get my thoughts sorted out. Dad simply left me to my thoughts and turned his attention to Seb. "So, Sebastian, since my son has left out any important detail of his life for the past... decade, maybe you can enlighten me. How long have you two been together?"

He looked at me for a moment, squeezed my hand, and smiled before looking back at Dad. "Well, we met about a year ago, but we didn't get together until March."

Mom came in with the coffees, set one down for each of us, gave Lisa hers, and then returned to her spot on the arm of Dad's chair. "How did you meet," she asked as she shipped her coffee.

"We met at the Dojo, where Don teaches. I'd just moved to town and was looking for a new place to continue my martial arts practice."

"Who seduced whom," Lisa asked, causing me to almost spit my coffee. Leave it to my little sister to go right for the groin.

Seb grinned. "He seduced me, actually."

I frowned. "You're the one who asked me out."

"To dinner," Seb countered, "not to eat in."

I was not going there. Lisa watched us as if we were a tennis match on TV. I frowned at her. "None of your business."

"Who asked you," she quipped, "Dad told you to shut up. We're talking to Sebastian."

"Lisa," Dad warned, "I have told no one to shut up. If Don wants to tell his side of the story, I'm all ears."

Lisa frowned, sitting back, and sipped her coffee. "Whatever."

Dad looked at me. "Well?"

"Uhm." Yeah, my brain was just buzzing with things to say. I squeezed Seb's hand. "I'd like to say I was planning this, but to be honest, Seb just snuck in under my radar." God. I just wanted to kiss Seb. I hadn't realized how far he'd brought me until that moment. I wasn't scared to say what I felt. "He's the best man in the world." Oh, fuck it. I pulled Seb's head to me and pressed my forehead against the side his head. "I love you," I whispered, just loud enough for Seb's ears only.

Mom sniffed, and wiped her eyes. Seb smiled. If we'd been anywhere else but sitting in my parent's living room, I'd have been trying to suck his tonsils out. I just closed my eyes and held our heads together. Sex, cuddling, kissing, or just sitting with our heads together, it was all about love. I could have sat there, quietly, forever.

Dad, again, broke the silence. "When you bring a man home, Lisa, I hope you are as respectfully reserved as your brother. I'd rather not watch either of my children making out on the couch."

I started laughing. I was certain Dad really, really didn't want to watch his son sucking face with a hot, incredibly sexy, Hispanic investment consultant.

Dad looked back at me. "Now, go out and get your bags. You have no reason to make a mad-dash for the door unless you are terrified of catching us up on your life for the past decade or so."

I smiled. "That's simple. I spent the last nine years trying to find myself. This last year, with Seb's help, I've not only found myself but I'm actually starting to like who I am." I shrugged. "That about cover's it."

Dad shook his head. "Okay, I suppose that is enough for one night, and it's late." He pushed himself out of his chair. Mom was ready to support him, but Dad didn't need it. "You know where your room is. I am going to bed. God has chosen to test my blood pressure medication by allowing your Aunt Elizabeth to host Christmas."

I got off the couch and stopped in front of Dad. We just looked at each other, and I searched his eyes. "Your really aren't mad at me?"

Dad brought his hand up, cupping behind my ear. "Do you remember your Godfather, Uncle Stephen?"

I nodded. "Barely. Blonde, skinny, funny laugh?"

Dad smiled. "He was my best friend in college, my best man at our wedding, and your Godfather. He was also as gay as they come. I believe today they call it 'flaming'." He smiled, a bit sad, caught in his memories for a moment. "He was a free spirit. He died when you were five; one of the early victims of AIDS before we really knew what it was."

I flinched. "And that's supposed to make me feel good?"

Dad shrugged, but didn't move his hand. "If we had no problem with your Godfather being a homosexual, Donald, it would be hypocritical to condemn you for how God made you."

My eyes misted, and I pulled Dad into a hug. "I love you, Dad."

He held me, tighter than I'd expected, and patted my back. "We love you too, Donald. Just the way you are." When I let go, Dad put his hand out to Seb, who shook it. "I'm glad to meet you, Sebastian. I'm happy someone could get through that thick skull of his."

"Likewise," Seb replied, letting me drape my arm across his shoulders as Dad moved slowly towards the stairs.

Once Dad disappeared, I looked at Mom. "Is he really okay?"

Mom gave me a brave smile. "The doctors think so. I'm not as worried about his body as I am his spirit." When I frowned, she shrugged. "You take after your father, Donald. Even if you were promised a long, full life, how would you react to having a disability?"

Looking back at the stairs, I thought about it. "I'd hate it."

Mom nodded. "He's always been strong and self reliant." Lisa came up and hugged Mom from behind. "At least now he has something to live for." She smiled at me. "He's missed you, Donald. At first we thought your pulling away was just teenage rebellion and independence. By the time we suspected what you were struggling with, you were gone. He hasn't forgiven himself for not being there for you."

My vision blurred. "It wasn't his fault, Mom. You guys were great parents."

She smiled, her eyes watery as well. "I know honey, but that's the way parents are."

Wrapping my arms around Mom, I kissed her head. "Thanks, Mom, for everything."

She hugged me. "Oh, Donald. We've missed you."

Lisa grinned passed me at Seb, wiping away a tear. I frowned at her. "And you, brat, stop flirting with my boyfriend."

Lisa laughed. "I'll flirt with anyone I like, Jar-head. If he has a problem with it, he can speak up." She raised an eyebrow at Seb, who put up his hands.

"Leave me out of this. I know where I sleep."

Mom patted my arm. "Go get your things, Donald. Your father won't rest easy with you packed for a fast retreat."

God. I felt guilty. "I wasn't sure Mom. I'm sorry."

She stroked my face again, pulling at the soul patch I'd grown since September. "Faith was never one of your strong points, Donald." She looked at the stairs. "I'd better check on your father. He likes his independence, but a little tug here and there makes things go a lot easier."

"Night, Mom." I kissed her head again.

Lisa started picking up the coffee cups. "I've got the dishes, Mom. See you in the morning."

Mom pulled Seb into a hug. "Welcome to the family, Sebastian."

Seb and I got our bags while Lisa took care of the dishes. As usual, I held the door, and most of the luggage, when we came back in. Lisa laughed. "You got him trained right," she said to Sebastian as I closed the door.

"I didn't have to do anything." He smiled at me, his eyes filled with enough love to light up the whole fucking town. I almost dropped the suitcases. "Your mother gave him great Prince Charming lessons."

"Oh, gag me." Lisa rolled her eyes.

"Shut up, Lizard."

"Dung beetle!" We grinned at each other. Finally, Lisa gave Seb a hug. "Thanks for taking him off the market. I was worried about him."

Damn it. My bratty sister wasn't supposed to grow up. "Nite sis."

We got up to what had once been my room. The sofa bed had been pulled out and made, and there were candles, cookies and milk, and a note. I put the suitcases down and smiled as I touched the freshly baked ginger cookies. "Mom always gave us fresh ginger snap cookies and milk on Christmas Eve, so we could share with Santa."

Seb slid back under my arm as we looked at the little candle lit setting; two milks, two plates of cookies, one candle between them, and the note. "What does the note say?"

I picked it up, unfolded it, and read aloud. "The springs squeak."

I turned twelve shades of red as Seb laughed. He sat down on the edge of the bed, getting control of himself as I tried to decide if I wanted to laugh or cry. I'd been such a fucking idiot. I didn't do either. I went into my suitcase and pulled out the box I'd planned on using on Thanksgiving, but Buck kind of stole the show. I didn't need the show; not after tonight. I knelt down in front of Seb as he stopped laughing, and I took his hands in mine. "I wouldn't be here, if it weren't for you."

Seb smiled. "I just got you to make the call."

I shook my head. "I don't mean just here, back home, but home at all. I thought being gay was like being a homeless person... you moved from place to place, person to person, and never had anything or anyone you could call your own."

Seb's smiled wavered. "Don..."

I pulled out the ring I'd been holding onto for months. "I love you, Seb." Asking him to marry me was pointless. We couldn't get married, not yet at least, but it didn't mean I couldn't get what I wanted for Christmas. I decided to take a lesson from Andrew; I wouldn't take no for an answer. I simply slid the ring on his finger. "You're my home, Seb. You're all I'll ever need."

He just stared at me, his eyes so full of emotion I wasn't' sure he'd say anything. It took him a moment, and then he wiped away a tear. "Where's the other fucking ring?"

I held up the box, and he pulled out the ring. He smiled. "Even when you were a frog, you were still my Prince Charming." He slid the ring on my finger, leaned in, and whispered, "I still believe in happily ever after."

I couldn't keep away from him any longer. I pressed up, kissing the only man I'd ever loved enough to cry over, and finally felt complete. We pushed back, onto the mattress, kissing like our lives depended on it. The bed squeaked. Seb tried not to chuckle, but at that point we really were at a laugh or cry crossroads. We both laughed, trying to keep quiet, as the bed squeaked around our laughter.

***** Taylor *****

After the third polite knocking, I cautiously pushed open the door to the guest bedroom. "Sean?" Poor kid. I was used to five in the morning wake up calls, even after too much eggnog, but Sean wasn't. Of course, he also hadn't overdone the eggnog. The light from the hall fell across his bed, and I couldn't help but grin. What a mess. The comforter was kicked off on the floor, the sheets were tangled, and Sean was on his stomach, sprawled half on a pillow and half off. I ignored the fact that the sheets were barely covering his ass.

His suitcase sat near the door, packed and ready. I pulled it out, set it in the hall, and put my finger to my lips as Andrew came up the stairs from stowing our luggage in the SUV. He picked up the suitcase and peeked in with a smile. "He's so damn cute," Andrew whispered over my shoulder.

"Yeah." My eyes followed the littering of ripped open gift wrap, to the base of the night stand. I tried not to laugh. "I think he's been playing with his toys."

"Wouldn't you?" Andrew gave me a quick peck on the cheek.

Grinning, I nodded. "Yeah." It was pretty obvious he hadn't put it all away. "I'll have to remind him about washing up after use."

Andrew cringed. "Didn't he use the condoms?"

I swatted his shoulder. "Like I'm going to check? Give me a break, Andrew. He should wash them regardless." Shooing him towards the stairs, I turned back to the task of waking sleeping beauty. "Just put his stuff in the car and get it warmed up. I'll get him moving."

Andrew grunted, but left without debate. I moved around the bed, opposite of the scattered toy stash, and shook Sean's shoulder gently. "Time to get up."


I shook him again, letting my fingers circle on his shoulder. I hated being jarred awake. I didn't want to make him bolt out of bed. "Come on, Sean. We've got to get moving."

"Ohhhhh," he whined, still asleep, "but I'm so close..."

I blinked. It took me a moment to realize that his increased restlessness included a very familiar hip gyration. This I did not need to be a part of. I shook and spoke a little more forcefully. "You can be a stud later, Sean. Wake up."

Sean shuddered, blinking for a few moments before rolling over and groaning as the light hit his face. "Ugh..." He covered his eyes with his arm. There was no missing his dream inspired wood. God he was a nicely built kid. Some man, some day, would be very lucky.

I decided a little shock wouldn't hurt, and I took a page from Andrew's Book of Tact. "Cover yourself up Sean, unless that's an invitation."

Sean's eyes flew open as his arm came down. He groped for a moment before pulling the sheet to his nipples. "Oh, God."

I laughed. "At least something worked." I could see his blush, even in the shadowed light from the hall. "We've already packed your suitcase in the car, Sean. I'll go make some coffee. We've got time for you to get cleaned up."

"I took my shower last night." He let the sheet go; finally realizing he wasn't on display.

"Well," I nodded towards the toy box. "Before or after play time."

"Uhm..." The kid blushed worse than me. His entire torso got into the act.

"You should probably shower again anyway." I got to the door and looked back at him. "I know you couldn't have read all the safety instructions in the book, kiddo, so do me a favor. Take anything you played with into the shower with you and use antibacterial soap on it all. This is one of those times where cleanliness is close to godliness."

Sean nodded, looking about, ready to crawl under rock. Poor kid. At least I hadn't walked in and caught him playing.

"If it's any consolation, Sean. Andrew walked in on me when I was playing once." He blinked, and his jaw hung slack as I shrugged. "We gave you the toys, kiddo. The last people you should be embarrassed by is us."

"Thanks, Taylor..." He looked away, but the tone in his voice made me ache, "for everything."

God. I wanted to hug him. I had my own concerns for Christmas, but he had no home and no family at all. Well, he had us. That would have to be enough. "Get yourself ready, Sean. We'll be down stairs."

Andrew had the coffee brewing when I got to the kitchen. "He up?"

"In more ways than one," I replied. "He's one well hung kid."

Andrew nodded. "Yeah, he said seven. That's pretty good for an eighteen year old."

"Even my kids are bigger than me," I grumbled, pulling out the cream and sugar.

Andrew chuckled. "Not by much."

I grunted. "Yeah, but he's probably got another quarter to half inch of growth ahead of him."

Laughing, Andrew kissed the side of my head as he reached for a mug. "You're such a size queen, Taylor."

I grinned. "With the only guy to ever fuck me being hung like a horse, what do you expect?"

Turning me around, Andrew pressed in, bringing his lips close to mine. "Well, I like my hot little pig the way he is." Bypassing my lips, he chewed on my ear. "I didn't get my morning Bacon this morning... think we have time?"

Bastard. I smacked his shoulder. "No, and I'm not going to have Sean walking in on me with my ass in the air, again, thank you very much."

Andrew let me make my coffee, pouring mugs for both of us. "Aren't you ever going to get over that?"

"Have you any clue how vulnerable that made me feel?"

Andrew pressed against my back, pinning me against the counter, his hands gripped mine and held them down. "I thought you wanted to be helpless and vulnerable," he whispered.

I squirmed, trying to pull my hands free. "Andrew..."

I could feel him thickening against me and he wasn't giving me any space to move. He bent in, bit my neck and pressed me painfully against the cabinet. I was shaking. "You've got to make up your mind, Bacon."

I felt like a trapped rabbit. There was no way I could stop Andrew. He had nearly a hundred pounds of muscle over me. At the same time, I was hard and straining in my briefs. I closed my eyes, and swallowed. "Please..."

His breath was so warm against my cheek. "Please... what?"

I whimpered. I wanted to run. I wanted to tell him to stop. This was Andrew. He'd never hurt me. I didn't have to protect myself from him. With that thought, I gave in. I melted under the pressure, the fear, the panic, and I just let myself go. "Please... sir."

It took me a few moments to realize Andrew had stopped. He held me, kissing my neck and stroking my hair, as he whispered my name reassuringly. He turned me around, looking in my eyes. He looked so frightened. "Are you okay?"

I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath, and nodded. "Yeah." I looked up into his worried face. "You okay?"

Andrew nodded swallowing. "It was all fun until you called me 'sir'." He frowned, trying to figure out what he wanted to say. "That scared the shit out of me."

I blinked. Andrew had always been the guy who didn't take no for an answer before he met me. "Why?"

He couldn't meet my eyes. "I don't want you that way, Taylor. You're my rock... I promised you'd never be a fuck to me."

I loved him so much. I brought my hand up, cupping neck and rubbing at the base of his skull in that way that always calmed him down. I waited for him to look at me. "But?"

He swallowed again. "For a moment I just wanted to fuck. Not make love. Nothing. Just take my pleasure any way I liked. I'm not like that any more." He breathed. "I wanted to 'make' you enjoy it."

I heard Sean bounding down the stairs, and I gave Andrew a quick kiss. "We'll talk about this later." I couldn't leave it like that. As scary as what just happened was, I was still hard. Pulling his ear to my lips, I whispered, "For the record... I'd have enjoyed it."

I'd planned to be out of Andrew's arms when Sean came into the kitchen, but the big gorilla devoured me. "I love you so fucking much."

We kissed, trying to prove nothing had changed, until Sean coughed. "Uhm... should I go back to bed?"

I grinned as Andrew let me go. "Nah. We're just stocking up on the intimacy, Sean. We'll have to be on good behavior at Claire's. Three gay guys at the family gather will be stressful enough. Having two of them sucking face like horny teenagers would be bad."

Sean grinned. "So that's what I'm supposed to be doing in my teens."

I shook my head. "Get your coffee you, brat."

Andrew laughed. "You're supposed to be getting ready for life. You've got plenty of time to live it, Sean."

"Spoil sport," Sean complained, half-heartedly, as he snuck around us to get a mug.

We got our coffees in the travel mugs, checked that we had the temperature right and unnecessary electronics off, and piled into the car. I put on my seatbelt as we went over the list. We had everything. I eyed Sean in the rearview mirror. "All tidy?"

Sean blushed. "Yeah... neat as a pin."

Andrew chuckled. "He can be a mother hen can't he?"

I rolled my eyes and started down the drive. "I'm another kind of 'mother', thank you very much."

"Yes, Mama T."

"Stop it."


"You know what."

"Okay M.T."

"Andrew!" It was a long ride to Claire's house.