We both walk in the front door of his, or I guess now his parent's house. I don't see Alejandro, but Regina is sitting on the sofa, reading, and looks up, surprised. She looks at A.J., scowling.
"Where have you been? Never mind; I see where you've been. Why is he here? I told you Sunday was for family only."
A.J. stares her down. "I'm just here to get my stuff, Mama. We'll be out of here in no time."
"What stuff? You need to do your studying here so you can concentrate."
"I meant all of my stuff. I'm moving out, Mama. You said if I couldn't respect your house and your rules then we had a problem. Well I think it's time I had my own set of rules I lived by. I respect you and Papa too much to keep going against you. I'm an adult now and it's time I make my own decisions and deal with my own problems; not relying on you and Papa to hold my hand at every turn."
She scowls again and looks at me. "You're behind this!"
"No ma'am, I'm not behind this; I'm giving him options. He doesn't have the resources to set out on his own just yet so I'm providing him someplace to stay until he has even more options. What he does is entirely up to him."
"So he goes crying to you and you stick your nose in and suddenly know what's best for him. I'm his mother and I know what's best for him, and it's not shacking up with you." She turns to A.J. "The only place you're going is upstairs to do your homework and study. I won't see you destroy your education just to have sex!"
"Mama, this has nothing to do with sex or my education. I cannot live by your rules anymore and it's time I set out on my own. I'm a grown man and I don't want to be told when to get up, when to go to bed, when to study or who I can see and not see anymore; I've had enough. I no longer wish to be treated like a twelve year old who doesn't have sense enough to tie his own shoes." He turns to me. "Let's go. I have some of those big trash bags in my room and we can load stuff in those and my suitcase."
As we turn to walk away, she turns and shouts towards the kitchen. "Alejandro! Get in here and talk to your son; he's acting crazy!"
Alejandro steps around the corner and looks at us and then at Regina. "I heard everything he said, Regina, and he's not acting crazy. A little impulsive maybe, but not crazy. He's twenty-one years old, an adult, and he has every right to choose how his life is. I was out of my parents' home when I was eighteen and I did just fine."
She scowls at him. "He's not ready for this! He may be twenty-one but he's not ready to be on his own! Or with this guy!"
"Regina, that's not our decision to make anymore; he's not a little boy. And I don't know what you said to him after Mass today, but I'm pretty sure now it had the opposite effect you were going for." He turns towards us. "A.J., if you're absolutely sure about this then we (he nods to Regina) won't stand in your way. And never forget we're still your parents and we still love and support you. If you need our help, you know where we are. I'll go get some boxes for you."
Regina stands up, throws her book across the room and storms off. Alejandro shakes his head a little and turns to me.
"I'm not saying I support him moving in with you; I think it's way too soon for that; you just met yesterday. I am supporting my son's choices though. And I agree he needs to be on his own; his mother will never let him grow up if he stays here. And this isn't a threat, but if you hurt him, there won't be a safe place for you. Look after my son as if he were your own." He turns and walks back through the kitchen.
A.J. and I just look at each other. He grins a little.
"Don't worry too much; that's just his way of saying he respects you. Let's go get my stuff."
I just nod my head and follow him upstairs. When we walk in his room I just look around, seeing what he surrounds himself with. I turn and smile at him.
"Oooo, I'm finally in my boyfriend's bedroom; nice..."
He giggles. "Yeah, but don't think you can have your way with me just `cause I let you in here."
I laugh. "Oh I see how it is now. You invite me up to your room and then slam on the brakes. Tease."
He laughs. "Perv."
"Guilty." He giggles again. "What should we start with?"
"Let me get the bags and we can just shove my clothes in `em. If Papa's bringing boxes we can use them to load the other stuff." He grins at me. "Now you get to go through my closet and touch my clothes, baby."
I smile at him and rub my hands together. "Dreams do come true."
He laughs again and punches me on the shoulder lightly. "Get to work, mister."
We have three bags full of clothes, and still probably have three or more to go (the boy has a ton of clothes) when Alejandro arrives with the flattened boxes and some packing tape on one of those big warehouse dispensers. He just sets them on the floor, grins a little at A.J. and leaves the room. Right after he leaves, Javier pokes his head in the door, looking at A.J.
"You're really moving out, A.J.?"
"Yeah, I really am. I'll really, really miss you and Angelina but I can't live like this anymore. I'm so tired of being treated like a little boy."
Javier smiles and nods. "I know exactly what you mean. I know you get it more because you're the first born, but it's not exactly a vacation for us either." He looks at me and grins. "Watch him; he snores like a dog in his sleep." We all laugh.
A.J. looks at him, grinning. "How could you possibly hear anything with your snoring? It's like the house shakes from the time you go to sleep until you wake up. And if you're not snoring, your bed's squeaking while you jerk off. I'm surprised I ever got any sleep."
Javier grins. "Hey, I can't help that second one; I have needs. And I don't have someone to help me out with that like you do."
"We haven't touched each other, so don't get too jealous yet."
"We haven't. All we've done is kiss."
Javier smirks and grins at him. "And phone sex, perv."
A.J. blushes a little and smiles at him. "Well OK, and phone sex, but only once. Why are you listening at the bathroom door anyway, perv?"
"I wasn't; Mama was. Well OK, when she walked away I listened. I was there when you came on the mirror." He laughs.
"Perv. Then you probably went to your room and jerked off thinking about it."
Javier blushes hard. "That's your thing; not mine. I like girls."
A.J. laughs. "Your face says otherwise, liar."
Javier blushes again and smirks. "So what if I did? I still like girls. Anyway, I'll let you get back to packing your crap; at least before he packs your crap for ya." He laughs loudly and walks out of the room.
We have all of his clothes finally packed and we're working on the second box when Angelina walks in, looking sad.
"Are you really gonna leave, A.J.? Please don't go. I'll miss you so much."
A.J. stands up and pulls her into a tight hug. "I'm sorry. I'll really miss you too; I will, but I have to do what's right for me. You'll understand it someday."
She sniffles into his shoulder. "I understand it now, but I still don't want you to go. Just let Mama calm down and everything will be alright."
"No it won't, Angelina; it'll always be the same. I'm a man and I have to live my own life, and Mama will never let me. I'll miss you and Javier and Ringo soooo much, but I have to do what's right for me."
She breaks the hug and looks at him, still sad. She nods her head a couple of times. "Do you promise to come and see us? Will you still go to mass and over to abuela's for dinner on Sundays? I don't want you to just move away and never see us anymore."
"I promise. I'll still see you as often as I can. I'll still go to mass and abuela's if Mama will let me. I won't just disappear, Angelina. Besides, I'm still close by. Actually, I'll be right next door to your school."
"Really? You'll be in those apartments over there?"
"Nope, I'll be in the yellow and white house right across the street from them. And you and Javier can come and see me whenever you want." He smiles at her.
"Ringo too, A.J.; he'll miss you too."
He laughs. "Ringo too. We can take him for walks together."
She looks at me and smiles shyly. "It's okay if we bring Ringo to your house?"
I smile at her. "It's more than okay, Angelina. You and Javier and Ringo are welcome there anytime you want to come."
She smiles. "Good. Are you and my brother boyfriends now?"
"Yes we are."
She smiles bigger. "I'm glad you are. You make him smile all the time."
"He makes me smile all the time too. So do you have a boyfriend yet?"
She blushes. "Noooooo. Mama would never let me have a boyfriend until I'm eighteen. Besides, I don't know any nice boys I'd want as my boyfriend. They're all jerks at school."
"I hear ya. Boys who are only thirteen or fourteen can be real jerks sometimes. Give it time; you'll find a nice boy. Maybe once you get to high school. They've grown up a little more by then."
She blushes and smiles. "Maybe... I hope I find one as nice as you." She blushes again.
I smile at her. "Thank you, Angelina. He'd be a very lucky boy to have you as his girlfriend."
She blushes again and hugs her brother. She whispers in his ear. "Él es lindo y agradable. Te echaré de menos. Te quiero, hermano mayor."
He whispers back. "Sí lo es. Yo también te quiero, hermanita." He kisses her cheek and pulls back, smiling at her. "Now go play with Ringo while we finish up in here, please."
"Okay. You'll say goodbye to Ringo before you leave, won't you?"
"Of course I will. I'll say goodbye to everyone before I leave; don't worry."
She smiles, kisses his cheek and leaves the room. He turns to me and smiles.
"Now you're cute and nice; you've been upgraded."
I grin. "Not upgraded; she just didn't know before now." He smirks and grins.
To our surprise and probably Regina's dismay, Alejandro loaded the boxes into his truck while we loaded the bags and unpacked things into my SUV. I guess we can do this in one trip. Personally, I think he just wanted to know where I lived, and this was a good excuse to find out. Once all the tearful goodbyes were over, we drove back to the house and began to unload everything. And not just to make it look good, but also because A.J. has a lot of stuff, we moved him into my spare bedroom. Of course after his father left he could move whatever he wanted into our room. And also, unsurprisingly, Regina was not present for the goodbyes. I just rolled my eyes and shook my head, but not visibly enough to let A.J. see it. When we had everything moved in, we were standing in the doorway with Alejandro. He looked at me and smiled.
"You have a good house, Brody."
I grin. "That seems to be the consensus lately. I know why your children think it's a good one, but what's your reason?"
He laughs. "Yeah, they like it `cause it's close to the middle school and A.J.'s friend, Hunter used to live here. No, I've done quite a bit of work here. The added room in the back where your washer and dryer are was one of my jobs. Also, all the wiring has been replaced; also by my company. It's a sturdy, well-built house though."
A.J. turns to look at his father. "Yeah, Papa, he only rents now, but the owner said he could buy whenever he wants, and he'd even use all of the past rent as down payment. He says he's still thinking about it though. I think he should go ahead and buy it."
"I'd definitely buy it under those conditions; it's a no-lose deal. You really should talk to a mortgage company and see what you can qualify for. Did Mr. Andrews give you an asking price?"
"He said he'd take $170,500 from me."
"I'd jump on that quickly. Houses in this same neighborhood have been selling for 200 plus, and most of them aren't as good as this one. You're about the only one here with a 2-car garage and the added room. Don't wait much longer, Brody. And your house payment would probably be even less than you're paying for rent."
"You're making it sound better and better all the time. I'd have lower payments and I'd have equity in something that'll gain in value."
"Definitely. Home ownership is where it's at. Why pay for someone else's equity?"
"You make an excellent point. I'll get on the computer later and see if I can get pre-qualified. I'll also give Mr. Andrews a call and tell him I'd like to buy it." I smile. "Thanks, Alejandro."
"Hey, I'm just giving you the benefit of my experience with this house; it's a great deal."
"You did, and thanks for that. You gave me the kind of info I needed to make a decision."
"Glad to help. I guess I should get back home. I know there's gonna be looooooong talks later today."
"Papa, I'm really sorry for stirring up so much trouble and then leaving you to deal with the fallout. But this is the right thing for me. I need to get my feet under me."
Alejandro smiles at him. "I know, A.J., and I completely understand; I really do. I think it's past time for you to get your feet under you. And I'll deal with your mother; it won't be the first time; don't worry about it. Believe me, this isn't the first time any of us have pissed her off." He laughs.
A.J. hugs his dad and rests his head on his shoulder. "Thanks, Papa. I love you."
"I love you too, hijo."
They break the hug and Alejandro reaches across and shakes my hand. He grins at me. "Take good care of my son."
He nods and turns to A.J. as he opens the door. "If you need anything, you know how to reach me. And if you end up pregnant, call your aunt Teresa." He laughs and walks out.
"Papa! Very funny!"
"I thought it was funny! Adios!"
"Adios, Papa." A.J. turns to me, grinning. "Don't you say a word, mister."
I laugh. "I wasn't gonna. But what should we name the baby?"
He laughs and slugs me in the shoulder. "You decide; you're the one who'll be pregnant!"