If we were playing twenty questions, we must have been in round 500 at least! Devon's father was asking me questions left and right, and I was almost having trouble keeping up. I found it almost flattering, in a way. He asked about my past; he asked about my future. He asked about my dreams and aspirations, and he asked about my father. I wish he had strayed from that subject. I really had no feelings for that man, but still, it hurt to know that the man who once demanded that I call him father now demanded that I call him nothing at all.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Garley, but I..." I paused for a moment and sighed. "My father and I are no longer speaking... ever again." Devon placed a sympathetic, and yet loving hand, upon my own.
Mr. Garley smiled at me kindly and said, "Please, Ben. Call me Jack." I shuddered for a moment, remembering how a sick man had requested that I address him by his first name as well.
Jack noted my reaction with concern. "I'm sorry, lad. I'm asking too much after your ordeal... I still can't believe.. how could anyone be that sick?"
With that, Devon protectively wrapped his arms around me and kissed me gently on the lips. He buried his head into my shoulder and wept softly. Between his tears, he said, "I love you."
Jack smiled at me happily as if he had never felt so fulfilled. "Just me one thing, young lad. Will you be good to my boy? You see, I lost Sandra to the fire... and I almost lost Devon," he said, his voice becoming softer, "And I can't bear the thought of losing him. I see the love in your eyes.. in both of your eyes. I know that what you have is real. That's what Sandra and I had." He smiled at me and continued, "You better be good to my boy. He's all I have."
I looked Jack straight in the eyes and said, "And he's all I have. I will never leave Devon's side." Jack smiled and patted my hand, stepping away from the table we were sitting at, trying to hide his tears.
Jack came back a few minutes later with reddened eyes. "Your lives won't be easy, you know." I looked deep into Jack's eyes and told him how much determination I had without moving a muscle. "Devon's life is hard without..." he paused, looking for the words.
"Because I don't follow the path that people want me to take? Because I know who I am and who I love?" Devon answered for him. Jack just looked down towards the table and nodded quietly.
"You know, no matter how much money I have, and how many people use my switches with pride, I... It doesn't matter anymore. I've been shirking away from something much more important than networking hardware and dollars... I've been hiding from you... Afraid of what might happen.. and not wanting to think that you could leave me like Sandra did... You know, when they first told me you were blind, deep down inside I wished that they hadn't saved you." Jack was crying now, looking at a son who would never be able to look back. "But Devon, I don't feel that way anymore. I look at you and I see what you have become. You are a wonderful son, a courageous fighter, and a great example of what man should be struggling to achieve. I don't want to lose this, son. And it had to take something like this... for me to realize how precious each moment is." Devon was smiling softly. I excused myself and left the restaurant, giving two hearts some time to mend. I looked at the outside of the Italian restaurant that I had been dining in, and suddenly realized that this was the same restaurant that Mordrin took me to my first night here. How times have changed.
(As told by Devon)
Father took my hand in his and began to softly weep. "Why did it take you so long to tell me this?"
"Come now," he said in between tears, "How often does a Garley admit when he's wrong?" With that, he patted my hand condescendingly.
"Not often enough." I replied, perhaps a bit too bitterly.
Father sighed to himself, and decided to change the subject. "Do you love him?" he asked quietly.
"Do I love him?" I repeated. "That's not even a question. We barely know each other, but... but he's a part of me already. I know, it's weird. I can't explain it, but when I breathe, it's almost as if my breath is for him. I can't imagine living life without him now that we are together. I know you don't approve of my so-called choice, but that's what it is. And it's not even a choice. It's something that must be.. Something that I could never forgive myself for not taking. Dad.. he is like an extension of me."
"I know," is all that he replied.
"By the way," I went on, sighing deeply, "Thank you for putting on the tolerance show earlier. I think Ben actually believed that you were proud of me. ..For being who I am. But we both know the truth. That's why I'm here, isn't it? To free you from the fag?"
"Stop that!" my father hissed. "You want a Garley to admit when he's wrong?" There was a moment of silence, and then my father said, "Ok. Well here it is, I was wrong. About a lot of things. It's taken a long time to get over your mother's death... but I think I've finally grown up. I've missed so many years of your life, but I'm not going to miss any more. I'm here for you now, son. No jokes. No BS. I'm here."
"And what about Ben?" I said, a little surprised.
"Well, he better be there for you, too, or I'll sic Lara on his ass." I giggled at the thought. Suddenly, I felt him pulling my arm up from the table. I stood up and hugged my father tightly. He was finally back. The father that I had known and loved for so long.
"Dad?" I said while my face was buried in his arm.
"Let's get out of here before the cheese police come here and arrest us!" My father laughed heartily as we walked to the counter and paid the bill. We walked outside the restaurant, and I felt arms grab around me the moment I stepped out the door. "What the hell!" I yelled in surprise. I soon felt Ben's skin against mine, and felt safe again. "I love you, Ben." I said softly to him. With that, I stepped away from his warm embrace, and yelled, "I love Benjamin Dowling!" at the top of my lungs. With that, I grabbed him in my arms and gave his tongue a battle so fierce he didn't have time to even moan in response.
Ben laughed and response and said, "You're such a nut!" I soon heard the crazed questions of reporters, and distinctive sounds of cameras. One person yelled above the crowd, "Would you like to give a statement?"
Feeling higher than a kite, I responded, "Oh fuck off! Don't you have anything better to do? My lover and I are going home. Thank you." With that, Ben escorted me into my dad's car, and we zoomed away. God I love him!
Thank you for reading my story. I hope you enjoyed it. As always, feel free to e-mail me with any questions, comments or concerns you may have. Thanks! =)