Author's Notes:

I want to thank my Readers. You guys are the best. Okay, these characters are not meant to resemble any living or dead persons. I make no apology to anyone who is offended by anything in this story. If you do not agree with the idea of guys being in love, then find something else to read. Let me know what you think of the story by emailing me at

_Hnstskr4@aol.com_

Copyright 2008-2018 by Chuck B

The Journey Begins

Chapter 30

Mr. Smith's Wedding

 

Our story begins after the final bell of the school day on April 23. Eric is about to pass by Mr. Smith's room when Mr. Smith stops him.

"Eric, I have something for you and Steve, just wait right here for a second."

His teacher walks back into the classroom and grabs an envelope off his desk.

"My boyfriend and I are getting married June 2nd, and we want the two of you there. I realize that school gets out the Friday before the wedding, but I'm hoping you and Steve will be there."

Mr. Smith hands the envelope over to Eric and then goes back to monitoring the hallway. Eric's excited because he knows that the wedding was approaching and the excitement has been building up inside of him. He had no idea that he would be invited to attend along with Steve. One can't ask for a better way to end the graduation week then to spend it at a wedding.

"I'll talk to Steve and see if he's interested in attending with me."

Eric knows that Steve will attend the wedding with him. For Eric, attending the wedding is all about supporting Mr. Smith. His teacher is responsible for getting Steve and Eric together and for that they will always be grateful.

"Talk to him and then if you're going make sure you RSVP April 31."

"I will sir, I promise."

With that, Eric goes to his locker, and Mr. Smith enters his classroom to get ready to wind down the work day.

***

Eric meets his boyfriend at his car with a smile on his face and the envelope in his hands.

"Mr. Smith invited us to his wedding."

Eric hands Steve the envelope.

"I take it that we are going to the wedding?"

It doesn't take Steve long for the RSVP to be signed, checked, and put back into the envelope.

"We're going to the wedding, and we're going to dance the night away."

Life seems to be going their way as of late, and they love it. Eric leans in and kisses his boyfriend.

***

It's the next school day, and Eric and Steve are super excited to deliver the envelope. Before the first bell rings, they get permission to head up to Mr. Smith's classroom. Eric knocks on the door, and they enter the room.

"Mr. Smith here is the RSVP all ready for you."

Eric hands the envelope to Mr. Smith.

"I have to admit that I wasn't expecting it this early."

The first bell rings and the teens know that they need to hurry up and get to class.

***

Flashforward to June 2nd and Steve is already at Eric's house, and they are both getting ready for the wedding. Steve brought his tuxedo and is busy putting it on, while Eric is busy getting prepared for the wedding. When Eric enters the bathroom, Steve whistles at his boyfriend.

"I forgot how hot you look in your tuxedo."

Steve is loving the view from where he is standing. Eric is enjoying looking at Steve's backside also, and he loves his baby so much.

"Are you ready Steve?"

"Yes, I am except for a quick hair check."

Steve leaves but not before he takes a quick look at his hair and then walks out of the bathroom. Since he's in the bathroom, Eric decides to do a hair check too. Everyone's hair is on point. They're finished getting ready, so they head downstairs so they can get Sarah to critic them. She gives them thumbs up and out the door the two guys go.

***

The wedding so far has been very romantic, and it's now at the point where Mr. Smith and his husband are getting ready to say their vows. This part of the ceremony has always been Steve's favorite part of a wedding., He doesn't know why it just is. The microphone is given too Mr. Smith. He looks into his husband's eyes.

"Six years ago, I was walking in a park near the university that we were attending when I saw the most amazing guy walk past me. I instantly felt a need to say something to him. I was just about to turn around and follow him, without me knowing it, he has turned around and was standing behind me. You tapped me on my shoulder, and in your quiet but confident voice, you asked me to be your teacher, and I could see a glimmer in your brown eyes. How could I say no to you when you asked me out? By the end of the night, I wanted more; more chances to hear you laugh, more chances to see you smile, and one more chance to hold your hand. Luckily, I got that chance that very next weekend, and it was on that second date, that I knew, we were meant to last. I felt like I had no choice but to keep it to myself because I wasn't sure if you were ready for the two of us to become boyfriends. When I knew, you wanted to be with me; I moved on the idea right away. On a warm day in May 2016, you proposed to me, and together we began planning our big day. Even as I am writing my vow, I can see your smile even though you are at work. In years, that we have been together, I have learned to love you more and more every day. I want to spend my life with you by my side. I love you, and I promise always to cherish you and I will never wander away from you. Lucas, you are my now and forever."

Steve found himself glued to Eric the entire time that Mr. Smith was talking. Mr. Smith passes the microphone to Lucas. Lucas reaches into a pocket and pulls out a piece of paper.

"Sorry for needing to read this, but I'm nervous, and I don't want to forget anything that I wrote down. When I first met you, I was working on my Information Technology, and Security degree and you were working on your teaching degree. I remember asking you if you would be my teacher and it worked. Yeah, I was that lame, but I hope that I've improved over the years. ..."

Mr. Smith can be saying "You have" and he smiles at Lucas.

"I'm so glad my pick-up line worked even though it was silly because look where we are. You were everything to me. Somehow despite college and looking for work, we made it all work for us. You have been my Angel when the world has tried to knock me down. Despite what our friends may say or think, we've had our fair share of rough times, but we've always managed to survive them. You made me stronger back then, and you continue to make me stronger every day. Having you in my life has always blessed me. I've seen you give your all for your students, and I know that there are at least two students here tonight. I know they are thankful that you were their teacher. They may have had you for one hour every day, but I had you in the hours that you were home and every weekend. When I have been sick, you have managed to tolerate my need to stay in bed and rest. Sickness is nothing new for us, you boldly took it upon you, you help me face each day, and even though deep down I know you worry about each day being my last. Aaron if I end up leaving this life before you please know that, I will always be here when you need me. I will never let a day go by that I don't show you my show my gratitude. I love you now, and I will love you into eternity."

Lucas managed to make it through to the end of his vows without crying, but towards the end, Steve thought he saw tears in the guy's eyes. The rest of the wedding was just as romantic.

***

Eric and Steve have moved on to the place that is holding the reception. Eric and Steve watch as the wedding party enters the reception hall. It is decorated nicely and the staff is very respectable as well. Eric didn't know what he was thinking would, but this is incredible. The flower girl and the ring boy are incredibly cute. When Aaron and Lucas enter the reception hall, everyone stands up. The guys enjoy watching the whole procession. When the meal comes out, the guys dig in and enjoy the meal. As Eric and Steve look around they are amazed at the crowd at the reception. There are few teachers from the high school, family, friends, and a few other LGBT+ couples. Eric and Steve feel completely comfortable amongst the crowd. Soon it's time for the newly weds to get on the dance floor.

***

Aaron and Lucas are called out onto the dance floor. The music starts for "Bless the Broken Road". The husbands get up and start to slow dance. Eric is starting to think of songs that they might play at their own wedding, while Steve is just enjoying the dancing taking place in the middle of the dance floor. Aaron and Lucas enjoy some tender kisses as they dance. Just like at Jason's and Shaun's wedding, the grooms seem to block out the eyes of everyone in attendance. After the first dance, Aaron is asked to bring up his mom and they dance to Kane Brown's "Heaven". Lucas' dance with his mom is accompanied by Brett Young's "In Case You Didn't Know". After the mother-son Dances, Aaron and Lucas bring up their dads for a dance.

***

The entire time that the grooms are dancing, there are two pairs of eyes on them. A list of songs is still running through Eric's mind as he makes up his list of songs for the future. Steve loves watching the mother and son dances because he can't wait to get his mom up onto the dance floor for his first dance. There is a strange romantic silence in the hall. Smiles are breaking out on their faces as they watch each dance and listen to the words of each of the songs. Between the dances, Eric and Steve talk about the music, the dances, and the future. They had no idea that their teacher had any skills when it comes to dancing. With the formal wedding dances done, the floor is opened to anyone that wants to dance.

***

Steve asks Eric to dance and at first Eric resists but then Eric gives in and he's all happy about it. Eric doesn't want to dance, but he does admit that it feels good to be up against his sweetheart. The dance wouldn't be their last dance of the evening. They danced a total of five times that evening and each song, each dance was magic.

***

As the night progresses, Aaron and Lucas start circulating among the guests. Lucas comes up and sits across from Eric and Steve.

"Hi guys, my name is Lucas Smith, and you must be Eric and Steve. Aaron wanted us to try and thank a few of the people that were on the guest list, that have VIP status if you will; other then our family and close friends."

As he greets the teens, he reaches out with his left hand to shake their hands.

"Thanks for inviting us."

Eric says to the older guy. Steve is silent as he smiles at Lucas. You can tell that Steve's silence isn't accidental. He can't get his mind off what Lucas said in his vows. The love that Mr. Smith and Lucas have has to be incredibly strong to overcome whatever illness that troubles Lucas.

"Um...do you have a question?"

Lucas has picked up on Steve's burning question. He doesn't know what the inquiry is, but he knows it's ready to be asked.

"I know it's none of my business, but...it doesn't matter."

Steve feels as if the question is out of line, so he decided to recall the query. Lucas thinks that he knows what the question is and if his husband thinks so highly of these young men, then they must be outstanding. He reaches out his hand to Steve and then looks him dead in the eyes.

"Look whatever the question is, it's okay to ask I bet it has something to do with my vows. Am I right?"

Steve doesn't want to be rude, but by not responding to Lucas' question, he is rude. He can't take a chance on being rude when Lucas and Mr. Smith have been so kind to Eric and him. Eric would kill him if, he ruined the evening.

"I guess, I was wondering, what sickness you have?"

Lucas has faced some discrimination not just because he's gay but also because of his illness. He's nervous as he gets ready to tell Eric and Steve what he carries inside of him.

"I have HIV, but my virus load is undetectable which is awesome. Aaron and I treat each day as if it's our last. I know that I'm good, but in my head, I know that the virus is still there somewhere."

The guys have read up on HIV and AIDS, so they realize that having the virus load being undetectable is a big deal, and yet they don't make it a big deal. Lucas smiles at the guys. He realizes the silence from them is partially due to them still processing what they've just heard, but he can also tell that they aren't judging him.

"Thanks, guys for not thinking ill of me."

"Sir, we could never think bad of you. You are married to the man who is solely responsible for being in a relationship with this guy."

Eric says as he points to Steve.

"It's not been easy being with him, but I treasure every day that I have with him."

Steve talks about Eric with a smile on his face.

"Guys, I have learned that the best relationships are the ones that you have to fight for are the best ones in my book, because you learn to treasure them. They make you stronger."

Lucas shares a bit of advice with the boys. He has no clue the stuff that Steve and Eric have been through in their time together. He's also not going to ask their story today.

"Guys, I need to move on but thanks again for being so great with everything. Keep on enjoying the night okay?"

Lucas says as he gets ready to move on to the next table that Aaron asked him to stop at while the husbands walk around the crowd.

"Thanks for not being offended by my question."

Steve says before Lucas walks away.

"You are most welcome. Thanks for being understanding."

With that, Lucas stood up and walked to the next table.

"I love you, baby."

Eric says as he reaches across the table to take Steve's hands.

"I love you too Eric."

Steve says and bends his head down and kisses Eric's hands. With the reception over the guys head out for home; Eric's place. They are leaving for the night, and they have a lot on their minds. One of the things that is running through their brains is marriage. Why wouldn't that idea be running through their minds considering that they have just been through one?

***

Their world appears so much brighter today then it ever has in their entire lives. Eric and Steve are contemplating their future once again.

"So, what did you think of the wedding?"

Eric wants to know what Steve thinks of the ceremony.

"Are you kidding, I loved it. What did you think?"

Steve wants to know Eric's opinion of the ceremony.

"Honestly, it got me thinking of you and what the future may hold. I don't know why but listening to the vows made me think about our wedding."

Eric isn't the only one who was affected by the vows. Steve too was caught up in the emotions during the promises.

"Where would you want to get married?"

Steve's question maybe is a tease or a letdown, but Eric takes a few seconds to think about the inquiry. Eric's face lights up just before he answers.

"The beach at Indiana Dunes State Park or maybe at that wonderful the special event's building downtown. You know the one that I'm talking about?"

Steve smiles as pictures the building that Eric is talking about in reply to the wedding location question.

"Yeah, I know the one that you're talking about, and I think it's way out of our pocket book, but it's something to talk about right."

Steve sits quietly for a second before speaking again.

"I would love to get married at the Chicago Botanical Garden. It's peaceful there. I love your idea of the special event's building."

Date night set for one night in the next two weeks.

"I wonder what our vows will sound like?"

Steve asks as another thought enters his head.

`I don't think; I'll be able to finish mine without shedding a few drops of happy tears.'

"Mine is going to be filled with romance, happiness, and thank you."

Eric proclaims as they continue driving down the road. Suddenly, Steve feels conflicted. He loves his boyfriend so much, but all this talk of wedding stuff is making him want to pull over, get out of the car, get down on one knee, and get it over with he's ready for it. Eric wouldn't' stop him either, he's confident of that, so maybe he should. He wants to make Eric happy.

`Hmm...I think I'm better off waiting till after college.'

"What would you do if I pulled over and proposed?"

Eric's eyes became huge.

"Are you serious right now?"

Steve winks at Eric, and immediately Eric knows that Steve isn't going to be pulling over, but there is still something that Steve isn't saying. What "that" is, is a big unknown at the moment, but Eric knows that someday, Steve will tell him what the glow in his eyes was all about.

"Eric, I don't have a ring to give you. I don't want to get engaged until I have something to give you."

Steve says as he watches Eric's face for any sign of disappointment. For a second, his face does look like he's feeling a bit letdown.

"Do you mean it, Steve?"

Steve takes one hand off the wheel just long enough to grasp Eric's hand.

"Yes, I mean it."

The guys feel nothing but love around them as they approach the house. When they get to the driveway, Steve parks the car and kisses his boyfriend before getting out of the car to let him out. Together, Steve and Eric walk into the house.

***

As they walk into the house, Mark and Sarah walk out of the dining room.

"How was the wedding?"

Sarah asks knowing how excited Steve and Eric were about going to the wedding. She wants to hear about all the events of the evening.

"The wedding was amazing. Mr. Smith and his husband had the most amazing ceremony. I loved their vows. They were incredible."

Eric and Steve both loved the wedding, and they're enjoying the fact that they can sit back and relive it with Eric's sister and brother-in-law.

"Honestly, I think Lucas' vows were more romantic than Mr. Smith's vows."

When Lucas called Mr. Smith his angel, it hit Steve in the heart.

"You are such a romantic."

Mark says as he looks at Steve with a smirk on his face. Despite the grin, Steve is romantic.

"There was a moment when they were exchanging rings that you could see the light in their eyes that was so powerful, that I couldn't take my eyes off of them."

When Steve finished his sentence, he turned to Eric, and there was a flash in in his eyes, and then Eric smiled shyly.

`Wow, what just happened? I think we're in trouble here. I need to remember to ask Eric about this when Steve isn't around.'

Sarah thinks to herself when she catches Eric and Steve's expressions.

"Yeah, I had a few moments like that during their first dance together during the reception. They were incredible to watch."

Eric loved to watch Aaron and Lucas move across the floor.

"Course our dances together were just as incredible as their dances, I think anyway."

No way was Steve going to let his boyfriend discredit their time on the dance floor.

"Yeah, it was pretty sweet being out on the floor with you. I agree. We have some skills too."

They may not be as polished as the adults are, but they did good out on the floor as well.

"One of these days, you'll have to show us okay?"

Sarah's question triggered the memories of the conversation in the car in Eric's mind.

"We had a relaxed conversation on the way home from the wedding.

Eric's comment sparks more thoughts in Sarah's mind and more worry.

"Now, I know we're in trouble."

The thought came out of her mouth quietly, but it still came out loud enough for the others to hear.

"What was that Sarah?"

Eric asked with a displeased look on his face.

"Eric, Steve, please tell me that your discussion on the way home didn't include any wedding plans."

The teens look at each other with that deer in the head-light expression on their faces.

"We might have. I'm not going to lie. Don't worry though; Steve didn't give me a ring but..."

Sarah puts her fingers in her ears because she doesn't want to hear what Eric is going to say next.

"So, what is that "but" about Eric?"

Mark says as he waits for Eric's response. Sarah removes the fingers from her ears.

"We reduced our wedding location to either the community center or the Chicago Botanical Garden."

Now, it's Mark's turn to be nervous. He knows what Steve already knows that these guys are much to young to even be planning a wedding. They don't need to have these things hanging over their heads while they attend college. If she is being honest with herself, she would remember that Mark proposed before they graduated from college.

"We discussed wedding locations and vows. Steve said that he wouldn't propose to me until he has a ring."

Sarah is curious about what locations they discussed, so she asked her what places they picked out.

"We decided on the community center on Porter Avenue, and the Chicago Botanical Garden."

Sarah is kind of worried that perhaps the teens discussed stuff that they didn't mention.

"Steve, is he right? Guess, what we want to know is, have your plans changed? Still wanting to wait till after your college?"

Steve looks at Eric, and this time there is no smile just a stare that doesn't communicate anything but uncertainty. He wants to say the right thing and not put anything out there that might get them into trouble, even though there was nothing mentioned that should get them into trouble.

"Look, guys; we aren't angry. We want to know what's going on in those heads of yours."

Steve is gathering his thoughts. He wants his thoughts straight so he can speak his mind freely.

"Sarah, Mark, I've said this more then once, and I have no problems shouting it from the rooftops. Someday, I will marry Eric but I won't until I can buy a ring. We did discuss a place to get married, and I'm sure that Eric would love to talk more about the plans. We know that we want to write or our vows, but a part from that, it's hard to say where our lives are going to go."

The two adults have mixed feelings on the relationship between the two teens. They like the fact that the young man is willing to wait for the ring which might give their families enough time to prepare for the eventual wedding. It troubles them that if somehow Steve was given a ring, that he might decide to propose to Eric earlier and that is worrisome to Mark and Sarah.

`It's crazy to hear myself talking about a wedding, but I can't wait to have the stud sitting next to me as my husband instead of a boyfriend.'

Steve thinks to himself as he holds Eric's hands. Mark is a little worried about how all of this will go down. It's not that Sarah and Mark don't support Eric and Steve, but they know that relationships don't always last.

"Guys, I get it, you love each other, but there is a lot of more to getting married besides a pair of rings and some written vows. You still need to get your college degrees and a job that will pay your bills, buy your food, and eventually buy you house. You will need a car or cars. Marriage is about love, but there is so much that goes into a wedding. I don't want to discourage, but I want you guys to make a good decision. I want you to get married when the time is right."

Mark says as she looks at both Steve and Eric. Steve can feel Eric's hand gripping a little harder. A sure sign that he's not happy about what Mark just said.

"The time will be right."

Eric is quick to respond to his brother-in-law's words. The teen's comments don't make Sarah and Mark happy, but they understand where Eric is coming from, but attitude tainted the words. Steve isn't sure how to respond to the comment, so he blows it off. He agrees with Eric though when they get married; it will be the right time for them.

"I think, we should call it a night; Eric before we get ourselves in trouble."

Steve says knowing that Eric isn't calm yet, and when he gets like this, he's apt to say something that he doesn't mean. Eric, on the other hand, doesn't want to give up his time with Steve, but even he can see that maybe it's time to say goodnight. Eric and Steve get up and walk to the door together. Sarah follows right behind them to say goodnight. Under the glow of the porch light, the boyfriends exchange a kiss. There is more to this wedding discussion then the boys are saying, and Sarah knows it. She turns away from the teens and returns to her husband.

"What are up to to Sarah? You have that look in your eyes that usually means you know something that I don't."

She leans in and kisses her husband.

"I just have a feeling that my brother is keeping something from us."

In the past, if Sarah thought someone was hiding something from her, she would dig until it came out. Mark knows this and hopes that this time, she'll handle things differently.

"Sarah, maybe whatever Eric is hiding from us, isn't worth our worry. I don't want him hating us because you pried."

Again, Sarah kisses her husband and walks to the front door. She was hoping to catch her brother before he headed up the stairs to his room.

***

Eric goes upstairs while Sarah and Mark are talking and it isn't long before his sister joins him in his bedroom. He's at his desk working on something when she knocks on the door. He quickly closes the notebook that he's in and turns his attention to his sister.

"What are you up to Sarah? I know you were watching Steve and me as we said good night. I thought spying on us was what Mom and Dad used to do?"

It's been awhile since she has seen this side of her brother.

"Look, I didn't come up here to argue with you, but I do want to talk to you. Can we do that without you losing it?"

Eric isn't going to promise anything at this point. Eric shrugs his shoulders and leans back in his seat so he can at least be comfortable while he listens to his sister's rant.

"Is there something you aren't telling me about what you and Steve discussed in the on the way home from the wedding.?"

`Why can't she mind her own business just this one time? She is making a mountain out of a mole hill.'

Eric doesn't want to talk about this with her especially since they've already spent talked about it.

"Look, we've already talked about this downstairs. Do we have to talk about it now?"

Eric says to his sister trying to stay calm.

"We are, now spill it."

Sarah can sense that there is something big going on inside her brother's mind. She eyes the notebook on the desk.

"Were you writing about it in that notebook?"

She would love to see what he was working on in the notebook.

"Sarah please just leave this alone."

"I'm just watching out for you. I don't want to see you and Steve rushing into anything."

"Look, I love him and yeah I would marry him tomorrow if he asked me too, but it's not happening. We know that we have to go to school and get our degree.

Despite Eric's attempt to reassure her, Sarah still feels like there is more to it. IF she pushes a little more, she might get him to spill his guts. She reaches out and hugs her brother, and he melts in her arms.

"Sarah, I do love him. Sometimes though, I feel like I am not worthy of his love. He reminds me time and time again that he loves me and I know he does, but with everything that I've done, I don't know how he can trust me."

Now, she knows what's going on his head. He's still under the influence of Vince so to speak. Vince has torn him a part. Vince broke him, and he's never forgiven himself for hurting the guy he loves.

"We love you Eric, and I know Steve loves you very much, but you have to believe us. Can you tell me what is in the notebook?"

"It's filled with my deepest and darkest secrets."

The notebook is a 5-subject notebook that he has been using as a journal, and it contains all things about his relationship with Steve. Lately, though, the entries have been dealing with future.

"I don't' suppose you'll let me see it."

Sarah asks her brother hoping for some insight into what is going on inside her brother's mind.

"I'm sorry Sarah as much as I love you. You are not reading my journal."

You can't blame him for not letting her sister read it. It's important to him and so personal, it should only be shared with Steve when the time is right. Sarah isn't one bit upset with her brother.

"It's okay Eric. I was just worried about you."

"Why were you worried about me?"

Eric doesn't get why his sister was worried about him. He wasn't in any danger. Sarah stares at him for a split second.

"Can't a sister worry about her brother every once in a while?"

Sarah would love to have hear his answer. Instead of an answer, he smiles at her letting Sarah know that it's okay to worry about him. It feels good knowing that they can talk like this, even if it did start off a little wobblily. Sarah stands up with outstretched arms. Eric stands up and accepts the hug.

"I don't know if you're still hiding things from me or not, but it's okay. I hope you think about what we talked about today."

"Sarah, you honestly don't need to worry. Everything is good."

Sarah heads back downstairs.

***

Turning back towards the desk, Eric opens his notebook again and then picks up his pen. He starts back up writing about the wedding. Eric captures the wedding in detail. As he wraps up the wedding specifics, he moves to the conversation that Steve and he shared in the car. He records what they talked about in the car and then starts writing about what he wishes they had discussed on the way home.

"I'm sure I'll change this a million times before our big day, but I wanted to get started on my vows before anything else can happen. It took one teacher and one misguided friend to bring us together after years of crushing on one another. When I was at my lowest, you fought for me literally. You rescued me that day, and I will never forget what you did for me. I'm so proud of you Steve. With everything we've been through, I know there is still so much ahead of us. It still feels like yesterday that we were talking in the car on the way back from the wedding when we decided on where we would get married someday. Not many people know this, but you were always on my mind and in my heart. Steve, I hope whatever the future holds that we'll find our way through it together. I love you, Steven, now and for eternity."

Eric closes his notebook and then sits and ponders on the events of the day. The cries of his nephew take him out of his thoughts, and he quickly gets up to comfort him.

***

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