|Boon And Bane Of Family
Author: whisper75 PM
The story is set about 2 months after the press conference. How do Sean's folks feel about Holden? And why do Holden's parents show up after what had happened years ago? **awful summary, just read /and review/ please..**Rated: Fiction T - English - Family/Hurt/Comfort - Holden W. & Sean J. - Words: 14,122 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 3 - Published: 03-07-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7902877
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Sean come on, you want us to miss the flight?"
Sean muttered by the new interruption. He pinned his lover down to the bed using his whole bodyweight. It was Holden's third try to get up, but again he failed. Ok, he had to admit it, those tries had been less than half-hearted. He loved feeling Sean's warm skin on his own, the demanding hands, the lustful glint in the other man's eyes. Sean mumbled some unintelligible words into his neck while kissing it. Sounded a bit like "we'll take … next … want ya now!" Holden wasn't sure about the first part of that, but when Sean ran his fingers through his hair and slowly tugged his head back into the pillow to kiss his Adam's apple it was pretty clear that he got the 'want ya now' part accurately. The footballer returned to the left side of Holden's neck and started sucking in the soft skin, very gentle at first but he intensified very quickly. Holden bit his lower lip and sighed out a moan when he felt Sean's teeth capturing his flesh. He glanced at the clock - they still had almost four hours until the flight. 'Ok then, no breakfast.' Tenderly ruffling Sean's hair he guided him down. Sean followed obediently and loosened his grip now that he was sure that Holden would stay in bed. Still lying on him Sean framed his lover's sides with his arms and took his time for covering the sensitive skin of his chest with kisses. The fine line of hair along Holden's stomach directed his lips down. After making another moisty stopover, this time at his abs, the footballer finally disappeared under the sheets.
"God!" Holden grabbed the mattress with one hand and added to the pressure on Sean's head with the other to make him take in as much of his length as possible. 'Why would I want breakfast if I can have this!'
Holden brought down their bag for the weekend. Sean was still in the shower so he decided to make them at least a coffee for the drive to the airport, the taxi should arrive in 15 minutes.
Holden was just switching the machine on when the telephone rang. On his way through the room he slipped into the T-shirt Sean had ironed yesterday evening. He smiled thinking about the explanation his partner had for doing so.
"Mom has ironed all of my clothes when I was a kid, and I wanna show her that I learned that for life."
"Sean, you haven't ironed anything as long as I know you. I'm wondering that you know where the flatiron is stowed away!" He laughed at the face his partner made and contentedly leaned back with a wide grin on his face. "Sean Jackson is cheating his mom, I can't believe it!"
"I'm not cheating her! Just… starting again with good old habits!"
Holden could see that not even Sean himself believed what he was saying there. He stepped behind him and grabbed his tight waist with both hands, leaning against his back and putting his chin on his shoulder. "So, will you iron my shirts for work from now on? I don't want you to be bored with just our T-shirts."
Sean snorted but continued his task. "No, I won't. I mean, I could… Ok well, you got me. You know, as long as I can remember she keeps asking if I'm doing well living on my own and stuff. And maybe she recognizes by things like this that I'm grown up and can take care of myself. It's stupid, I know."
"A bit yeah. But well, she won't ask anymore. She knows that you have me now. Of course she thinks you're doing well from now on." Holden stated seriously.
"You're a jerk."
"Right back at you."
They couldn't keep straight faces any longer and shared a laugh.
Sean turned around and looked at Holden with steel-blue puppy dog eyes. "Can I be honest with you? I hate ironing. Your shirt is done. Is it ok that you will look flawless tomorrow and I won't? I can't make one more move with this thing, let alone a whole shirt."
Holden didn't answer. With a knowing smile on his face he took the flatiron out of Sean's hand, pulled the plug and put it in a safe place to cool off. Then he took his partner's hand and drew him upstairs. "We better go to bed, before you're too tired for another good old habit." The sparkle in Sean's eyes showed him that he didn't need to be any more specific.
Holden had reached the phone and looked on the display. "'Phone number withheld', okayyy." He accepted the call. "Hello." He heard some slight noises on the other end, but got no answer. "Helloooo…" Nothing. "Ok then, thanks for calling. Maybe you have something to say next time." He ended the call but kept looking on the display, 'that was strange, I swear I heard something.'
Warm lips on his neck and two strong arms embracing his waist made him forget his thoughts. "Who did you call? Hopefully not my mom to tell her we can't make it. You would break her heart." Sean chuckled. "She loves you to death!" Holden turned around in his arms. "No, it was an incoming one, someone probably dialed the wrong number, he could at least have apologized. But aaanyway… I never would cancel the weekend! I can't wait to see your parents again. They were so lovely the other day. I still can't believe you were afraid telling them you're gay. I only met them once, but I feel that I could share almost everything with them. It's like I've known them forever."
Sean smiled at him. "Yeah. Hm… I don't know if I'm allowed to tell you, but they mentally adopted you when they saw you for the first time. At least my mom did!" Holden giggled and blushed. Sean looked right into his eyes now. "I love you Holden. Everything is so much easier now that it's out. I was an idiot." "You were!" Sean was about to protest, but before he could say something Holden cupped his face with his hands and kissed him. "But not anymore."
They just stood there arm in arm smiling at each other for a moment, then both startled by the noise of a honking car. "Our taxi." "Yeah." One deep breath and another smile later they finally parted and left the house.
The flight from LAX to SFO would take about 1.20 h. Ten minutes after take-off Sean had dozed off. His head rested on Holden's shoulder, their entwined hands on his thigh.
Holden couldn't sleep. While looking out of the window he thought about how his life had changed during the last two months. Before this year's Valentine's Day Holden practically 'didn't exist', their life as a couple was limited to the house. He never attended any public event with Sean. They didn't even drive to the supermarket together nor had a walk at the beach. When they went out for dinner, which rarely happened - only when Sean was tired of hearing Holden's begging anymore, he always was his estate agent when he was asked. He remembered one recent dinner in particular. They just had ordered their drinks when a lady of Sean's management saw them from another table and came over to say hello. It was pure torture for Holden to see the couple next to them holding hands and showing their love to the world, while Sean talked to that woman and called him 'Mr. Wilson'. He politely smiled at her despite his feelings. It was part of the game.
But now he was a part of Sean's life, his entire life. It was so exciting to finally get to know the team and his friends. And most of them were so cool about it and were happy for them. While being hugged and clapped on the shoulder they heard a lot of 'I knew it' and 'I never bought that estate agent story, one look into your eyes said it all'.
The minor rest wasn't that enthusiastic, but accepted it. Which was fine with Holden.
Sean's fans were wonderful too. Well, most likely there were some folks that were not very happy to see their favorite football player with a guy on his side… comes with the territory, you can't please everybody. But those people thankfully kept quiet.
Holden remembered when they attended this huge fundraising dinner. It was their very first official appearance as a couple. He was so nervous and almost hadn't the guts to get out of the limousine that had picked them up from home and stopped at the red carpet now. He could see that Sean felt the same. Neither their flawless black suits and ties nor the rest of their well-groomed appearance could hide the tension. But then Sean took his hand and kissed his palm. His eyes assured that everything was good and they finally got out of the car. Being the boss of about 200 people and having to deal with his clients, most of them important and / or rich, Holden wasn't a shy person. At least that's what he had thought until now. This scenario however was insane, and very intimidating. The people went nuts. They were screaming like he and Sean were some kind of rock stars. Right, they cheered for him too, ridiculous. Sean immediately flipped the switch and was right in his element, he was used to being cheered at. With a perfect grin on his face he took Holden's hand and waved at the crowd with the other. Meanwhile Holden really had to concentrate on smiling and not looking like a timid fawn in the light cone of a car. And it worked. With the help of his self-soothing - well… breathing -, Sean's closeness and the fact that they were frenetically reveled he finally calmed down and started soaking up the atmosphere. He had to admit it… it gave him quite a rush.
The photographers at this event were as crazy as the fans. Holden had never been snapped that often in his whole life as in these ten minutes on the red carpet. Even half an hour later he still saw white little stars dancing in front of his eyes.
Then the paparazzi. Their creativity to get 'the shot' was both fascinating and annoying. During the first three weeks after Sean's coming out they were everywhere. He and Sean had a hard time to live a halfway normal life. Holden couldn't go to work and come back home without being photographed. But eventually everybody had calmed down. The people apparently had read enough 'Quarterback Sean Jackson's boyfriend is leaving their love nest' articles.
He snorted and shook his head.
Then he looked down on his partner. 'So peaceful.' He sighed and gently kissed his hair. Sean responded with a deep breath. When Holden looked back up, his eyes met the glance of a redheaded teenage boy sitting in the seat row to their right. He smiled at him. The boy startled a bit like he felt getting caught staring at them. But then he smiled back with a light flush on his cheeks which brought out his freckles even more.
"Hi." The flush disappeared as quickly as it came. "I saw you on TV and in the mags. It's a pretty cool thing what he did at that press conference." He pointed at Sean.
"Yeah, it is."
"I mean… really… not many would have the balls to come out like this!"
"Sorry, I mean… wouldn't have the courage." The boy frowned, obviously worried about his choice of words.
"No, 'balls' is ok – couldn't say it any better." Holden grinned.
The flush was back. "My name is Neil."
"Hey Neil, nice to meet ya."
The seemingly same-aged girl next to Neil rolled her eyes and hit his arm. "Ask him already!"
The boy frowned at her, but she didn't seem to care. Instead she leaned over his lap which made her wild red locks fall into her face. Puffing it out of her sight she addressed the amused Holden. "Hi, I'm his sister. Neil is gay, he has a huge crush on you two and wants to ask if he could take a photo with you. He thinks you're hot, which is true by the way. If you do it, I want a pic with you as well."
"Audrey, shut the fuck up!" He pushed her back into her seat and hung his head in shame. He was blushing crimson now.
Holden tried not to wake Sean with his chuckling. "Okaaay… I think we can do that. The photo thing. We should wait until he wakes up though, what do you think?"
The boy giggled and looked bashfully at the ground. "Probably better, yeah. Thanks." Then he glanced back at Holden and shrugged his shoulders. "Sorry for my sister… family!"
"Yeah. No problem, it's ok." Holden looked down on their hands in his lap, still smiling. "Family."
When the flight attendants started serving drinks and snacks Sean woke up from a seemingly very healthy nap. He yawned and stretched and before Holden knew it grabbed his face and kissed him. And kissed more intense with every passing second.
When he felt his partner's tongue sliding into his mouth Holden backed off. "Sean!" The football player grinned. "What! You wanted me to openly show my love for you." "Yeah, but not all of it… on a plane." Holden raised an eyebrow. But he couldn't help grinning back.
"You want a coffee, gentlemen?" They simultaneously looked up to the stewardess and simultaneously replied with a "No, thank you". All three shared a smile and she moved on.
Sean took Holden's hand again and slightly massaged it. "I didn't wanna bring it up again at first, but… I've been thinking about this phone call today. You know… it wasn't the first one. He or she called twice already, at least I guess it's the same person."
Holden frowned. "Do you think that could be some weird fan or something? I mean, should we be worried?"
"It could be a fan yeah, but I think we have nothing to fear from him / her. Let's wait if it stops."
Holden slowly nodded. "Ok." He wasn't sure if it was ok, but he trusted Sean. He surely could evaluate the situation. But then his face lightened up. "Oh on a lighter note, let me introduce you to Neil and Audrey."
The plane had landed and the two men were waiting for their luggage. While the conveyor belt offered them everything but their own bag, Holden leaned against Sean. In the corner of his eye he saw someone waving at them. Sean must have seen it too since he already raised his hand. Holden kept his right arm around his partner's waist but waved back with the left one. Those two kids were really cool. Unbelievable that twins looking alike like them could be such different personalities. Chatting with them had made the rest of the flight really enjoyable. Now they were leaving with their parents and would have a great vacation here in San Francisco. Neil and Audrey, really beautiful names.
Finally their bag arrived and they could head to the waiting area where they should meet Sean's parents. On the way out Sean turned his phone back on. Two seconds later it beeped.
"It's a message from mom. 'Hey boys. Take a rental or taxi, explain later.'" Sean seemed more surprised than worried. "Taxi or rental, Holden?"
"Both fine with me. Let's take a cab."
They didn't directly drive to Sean's parents. He made the taxi driver take them to his old high school at first to show Holden around. Sean had assumed that for a Friday it was too late for any classes and they would be alone. He was wrong. They were overrunning him, asking for autographs and pictures. He was the hometown boy returning to the place where everything had started, so he couldn't refuse.
Holden waited patiently, he was used to it by now.
The last group of girls even wanted a pic with both men, which was pretty strange according to Holden. He was a Nobody to them. But Sean had already grabbed his hand and tugged him into the visual range of the camera. "Cheese!"
It took them a good hour to get away from there. After that they had a little sightseeing tour, stopping by at Sean's favorite places of his neighborhood. Holden loved seeing all this and listening to Sean's stories and memories. He had visited San Francisco before, but only for work. He had seen nothing but his hotels and conference rooms. But the city was really pretty… and not just because Sean obviously loved it.
When they finally arrived at his parents' house, they paid the driver and wished him luck with his third baby girl – he hadn't talked about anything else during the whole drive, very sweet and amusing. He really loved that little girl.
Holden had a look around. It was a lovely, good middle-class neighborhood. Nicely trimmed hedges, green front lawns everywhere, even the trees were cut accurately. He had been here before, but that was his first meeting with Sean's parents and he didn't have an eye for it then. It had been hard enough for him to keep breathing and try to live up to their expectations. This time, being much more confident of their affection, he could take his time to take everything in. So this was the place where Sean was raised. He turned around. Even the house itself radiated nothing but kindness and love. It was a nice two-floor building, painted in a light green. Various flowers in tubs and other plants were perfectly placed to complete the picture.
This was a home, a real home. Holden sighed deeply. Fragments of memories of his own childhood crawled into his mind, but he instantly shoved them away. He had promised himself not to think about it. And he wouldn't. Not today. Looking at Sean he could see the concern in the other man's eyes. But as soon as he put on a smile, his partner's features lightened up again, he leaned over and kissed him.
The door flew open and Sean's mom rushed out with open arms and a wide grin on her face. Her skirt with a colorful flower print made her look like spring itself.
"Sean! Looks like we see you more often now that you're out of the closet. It's just been a month since our family party and you visit us again!" She hugged and kissed him. "Hey darling!"
Letting her out of his embrace, Sean saw his mother's sparkling eyes when she turned to his right. Following her look he just could smile about the cute sheepish grin Holden had put on. His concern from earlier had disappeared. This was the Holden he wanted to see. Sean slightly shook his head. 'Those two.'
His mom gave Holden a long and tight cuddle. "Hey sweetie. Look at you! You are so gorgeous!"
The young man hugged her and ran his hand over her back. Sean could feel that Holden was still insecure with handling her, but on the other hand he was more than willing to take every gesture of love he could get. Holden finally placed a gentle kiss on her cheek. "Thanks. You look very pretty today, Christine."
She tilted backwards and gave him a half pretended half meant angry look. "Holden, I told you to call me mom."
Holden wanted to answer, but Sean interfered. "Mom, give him some time. He knows you for a month now and has just met you once! And he's not used to so much mother love."
Both of them looked at him.
Sean's mom frowned. "What do you mean?"
Holden put a hand on Sean's chest, "please… don't." He then turned back to her with a slightly afflicted smile and she could read in his eyes not to bring the missing mother love into question, at least for now. She nodded. "Okayyyy… so boys, sorry we couldn't pick you up from the airport. The car is broken down again. And well… the money doesn't grow on trees, right?" She nudged Holden who just smiled at her.
"What do you mean with 'again'? Mom, I told you a thousand times to call me when you have a problem. I would have paid the repair or a new car."
"Sean, we don't want that. Live off your money."
"You don't do that, come on! I love you and of course I wanna help you when you need it." He looked at Holden who obviously felt a bit uncomfortable witnessing the little disagreement.
Sensing that his partner wanted him to say something he put a hand on Christine's back, "Sean's right. We'd love to help you out. That's what the family is there for, right?"
"Right!" Sean agreed. "See mom, your sweetie is saying it too." Holden made a face but then chuckled. The woman smiled too, "ok then, let's talk it over with your dad."
On the way in she skimmed along Holden's chest. "You iron your T-shirts, Holden? Wow. See Sean, take your boyfriend as an example. He always looks dapper and all spruced up. Look at you! Your shirt is so crinkly, one might think you have been sleeping in it for a week now."
Holden glanced over to Sean trying not to laugh. The footballer made a face but didn't say anything to defend himself. "Sure mom. I'll think about it." He then addressed his partner with an unmistakably sarcastic undertone. "Maybe you can show me how to do it, love."
Holden took his hand and slightly squeezed it. "Yeah let's see if you can learn it."
Sean chuckled and closed the distance between them. "Jerk." It was just a whisper into Holden's ear which made the other man grin.
Sean's mom however was not amused, both men wondered how she could have heard it anyway. "Sean Jackson! I don't wanna hear that kind of language!" She turned to Holden again with a much sweeter, almost lulling voice. "Don't listen to him sweetie, you're the best that could have happened to him. And no matter what he says, he knows it." She put her arm around his waist and guided him into the house. Sean stopped and gazed after them, half amused, half upset. "Holden, tell her who ironed that shirt."
He could see his partner whispering something into his mother's ear. They both giggled and turned around. Holden reached out his hand. "Don't be offended, come on." Sean's last try to act huffy yielded to a wide grin. They took him into their midst and went in together.
"Hey Sean. Glad you're here. We haven't seen you that often over the last two years." Sean's dad hugged him tightly.
"Yeah dad, mom already mentioned it." Sean pursed his lips but instantly smiled when he saw the mischief in his dad's eyes.
In that moment Holden entered the living room with Christine. "Holden, my friend." The older man went over, took him into his arms and patted his back. "How's the house selling doing?"
Holden didn't answer immediately. He took a deep breath and hugged Sean's dad back. He knew it was stupid, but he envied Sean for having parents like this. They were so lovely and kind and… in lack of a better word… wonderful. They've already been very sweet at that family party, but there had been so many people. This weekend they could fully concentrate on each other.
That thought made Holden nervous again, he wanted them to like him so badly. But the next second he started chuckling. 'What are you thinking about? Look at them. They both hug you like your own parents never did. How can they not like you?'
"Hey Eric. Business is doing well, thanks." With that they parted.
"Dad, mom told me about your car. What do I tell you all the time? You…"
Eric cut his son off. "Sean, you think you have to help us because we're your parents and you love us." Sean inhaled. "No, let me finish. We know that. We know that you could give us the money and we appreciate that you would do it. But we get along pretty well without it. There's only one thing we want from you. Your love." He frowned for a second. "Ok, maybe there are two things. We also want you to visit your old parents a bit more often than once a year."
Sean slightly shook his head. "The car thing isn't off the table yet. But you're right with the rest." A conciliating expression appeared on his face.
Christine linked arms with Holden again. "Let's not argue now. I have some freshly baked brownies and an apple pie for us. And now tell us what happened in your life since our last phone call."
After a funny afternoon with watching tons of photos they enjoyed a delicious dinner – now Holden knew where Sean had his cooking skills from – with a great red wine. For the time after dinner Eric brought out his best scotch. Holden felt like the wine already had been enough for him, but he didn't want to be rude. At about midnight they finally decided that it was time to hit the pillow.
Holden got up and instantly felt a bit dizzy. "Whoops. I guess that was one scotch to many. I think I can't keep up with the Jackson men." He smiled at Sean's mom and the two other men who were obviously zero affected by the alcohol.
Sean's dad patted his shoulder, "I don't think that's a bad thing, Holden." His hand still on the younger man's shoulder he smiled at his son now, "you better put him to bed, Sean. I need him fresh and not hungover tomorrow. Wanna show him my new building project."
Curiosity fought its way through the dizziness in Holden's head. "Project?"
Sean knew from a phone call with his mother what his dad was talking about. He rolled his eyes and dragged Holden out of the living room. "I'll tell you later, bear. Niiiiight!" But Holden managed to squirm himself out of Sean's grip. "I'm tipsy, but not bad-mannered." He made his way over to his partner's parents and gave them both a hug. Christine got a peck on the cheek as well. "Good night!"
On their way up they heard Sean's mom. "Eric! Building project? You wanna 'clean up' our old shed. That's not a project. Holden is a highly renowned architect! He won't waste his time with your little idea of a guest house." His dad was protesting. "How can you know, Christine. I just wanna show him… wanna hear his opinion!" Sean smiled and shook his head while guiding Holden into his old room.
"This photo of you… I want a copy of it for my office. You know, the one with you as a 6 year old in your first football gear! It's so cute!" Holden grinned at Sean while brushing his teeth.
Sean had just rinsed his mouth and looked into the mirror. What he saw, was just adorable, Holden sitting on the edge of the bath tub with stretched out legs, just wearing pajama pants. He wasn't fond of the idea that all of Holden's staff would see the picture, but hey, it could have been worse. There were far more embarrassing shots of him, he could live with it. "Sure. It's mom's favorite pic too. I'm sure she'll be happy to make you a copy."
Holden was still working on his teeth, but miraculously Sean understood every word he was saying. "Yeah, she told me she loves it. Tomorrow she wants to show me some videos too."
"Oh nooo…" Sean mentally flipped through the video footage of him as a child and teenager his parents had shot over the years.
"Your dad said, they have put the stuff on DVD now, to save the quality."
"Yeah great! This will be so embarrassing."
Holden grinned even more. "Can't wait!"
Finally lying in his old queen-size bed Sean wanted to tell Holden about his father's project. But his partner obviously wasn't in a chatty mood anymore. "I love you so so much!" He flooded Sean's neck and face with sappy kisses until he finally found his mouth. Sean loved it when Holden was that passionate and welcomed his lover's demanding tongue with his own. Without ceasing the invasion into his mouth Holden now crawled onto him. Sean automatically put his arms around his body to hold him close. Meanwhile Holden framed Sean's head with his arms and stroked his hair. They enjoyed the mutual caressing for a while. When Holden shifted a bit for a more comfortable position, Sean felt his lover's growing erection brushing his thigh and he moaned into the kiss. Holden smiled against his lips, slowly parted Sean's legs and started massaging his crotch with his own thigh.
Sean almost saw stars and the decision to stop Holden in this moment wasn't easy, but somehow his brain subdued his want. "Holden, we're at my parents' house!"
"They won't hear us. We'll be quiet." Holden breathed into his ear.
"You've never been quiet!"
"Just because I didn't have to." He now rested on his elbows and winked at Sean. "I can do this!" His partner shook his head with a grin. "Bear, you're soooo not used to alcohol. I think we should sleep now." Holden snorted "This isn't the scotch. It's already gone. I know what I'm doing. And right now I wanna looooove you!" He started chuckling. His sparkling light blue eyes focused on Sean's lips before he bent down and crashed their mouths together again.
Holden knew exactly which buttons to push and Sean had a hard time to withstand him and his own recurring, well never really gone lust. But mentally picturing his parents, lying in their bed in the next room hearing them having sex, finally cleared up his mind.
"Holden no! I can't do this."
Holden returned into his 'half on his elbows, half on Sean' position and looked at him with sad puppy dog eyes.
"Don't look at me like that. I love you, you know that. You're beautiful. God, you're hauntingly beautiful. But, I just can't get romantic with you… with my parents in the same house!"
Holden took a deep breath as if he was considering this argument. He smiled at the man beneath him and slightly nodded before rolling off and getting comfortable at Sean's side. With that none of them said a word for a while and Sean already damned himself for making his partner mad at him. Then Holden finally looked at him with a grin. "Hauntingly beautiful? What kind of cheesy cheap novels are you secretly reading, honey?"
Sean sighed in relief that he had obviously misinterpreted the silence. He tugged Holden closer to his own body and fondled his hipbone through the fabric of the pants. "It's not cheesy when it's the truth!"
"Aww! That's so cute… Sean, I love you so much for being like that!" Holden reached up and stroked his cheek and jawline. He then snuggled up to Sean and when they had found the perfect position they fell asleep within a few minutes.
"Eric… this is a pretty cool idea! I like the concept!"
Sean's dad looked at his wife and son with a self-satisfied smile. "See, I told ya!" Both sighed and rolled their eyes. Holden didn't notice it, he concentrated on the construction plan Eric had made. "May I suggest something?" The older man forgot his family in an instant and got all excited now. He grabbed a chair and sat down. "Sure!"
"I don't know if you like that kind of room concept… but you could put an open gallery in there. I think it would look fantastic. All wooden materials, very natural …" All of them could literally see Eric's brain work. "Ohhh. Ehm… you… you think we could have a look at it?" Holden looked into the man's sparkling eyes and had to grin, "Sure! Let's go."
Sean helped his mother preparing breakfast when the two men were heading to the old shed in the backyard. He could see them through the kitchen window. By the time he started slicing the tomatoes they had arrived at the – in Sean's view – ramshackle hut. They stopped in front of it and his dad was wildly gesturing, obviously describing every detail of his dream to Holden. Sean started to feel sorry for him, but to his surprise his partner chimed in with what looked like own thoughts and suggestions. The footballer smiled widely and concentrated on the tomatoes again.
His mom stepped beside him and glanced out of the window. "You think, dad is bothering Holden with this thing?"
"No mom, look at him – he loves it!"
"But I don't want him to feel forced into helping your father with this. He should relax and feel at home here and not… work."
"Ma, relax. He feels at home, believe me. And he finally has someone to chat about houses and architecture stuff. Just look at them – they're like kids in the candy store."
Sean looked at his mom when she responded with a short "ya". "What is it, mom?"
"Nothing dear.. I just hope they won't spend the whole weekend out there. I want to get to know Holden better too. Ehm… never mind. let's set the table."
Sean's eyes followed her as she rushed out of the kitchen. 'Could it be that my mom is jealous of my dad for spending time with Holden? Unbelievable.' He chuckled and followed her with more dishes.
Holden and Sean already sat at the breakfast table and waited for Sean's parents to join them. After a short glance into the corridor Holden leaned over to his partner. "Is it ok to tell you that I really like your dad?" Sean snorted and stared at him. "Of course! I'm so happy that you get along!" "You know, he is sooo interested in architecture. You never told me! Did you know that he has a like new issue of 'The life-work of Frank Lloyd Wright' by H. Th. Wijeveld from 1925? You know… the architect who designed the Guggenheim museum in NYC… the guy I wrote my thesis about… It's so cool!" Sean rummaged in his memories, but before he could respond to that his parents came in with the coffee and a pan with still sizzling scrambled eggs.
Eric smiled at his son's partner. "Holden, I can't wait to see your plan for the gallery. But as I said, take your time. Your work of course takes priority." "Eric, would you stop it and let the boys eat?" He looked at his wife. "You're just jealous that we have the same interest, you only tell him how gorgeous he is." "He is gorgeous! And just for your information, we have common interests too!" The older man snorted, but Sean's mom continued. "He doesn't love you more than me… not even now that he knows about your filthy old book of this Wright guy."
The two men at the table first followed the argument like a tennis match – left, right, left, right – but with the last comment they couldn't hold back the laughter any more. Interrupting his parents' little argument Sean put an arm around Holden's shoulder. "First of all: From the three of us Holden loves me the most! And second: Give us some eggs already, we're starving!"
Holden still giggled but looked at the couple opposite the table. Though the whole situation was almost comedic, he was really touched. "You know… Sean is right!" The urge to laugh welled up again, but he fought it down. "No seriously. I really love both of you so much. You can't imagine what it means to me to have you in my life now. And I'm thankful that Sean is willing to share his parents with me." He now looked at his partner who just smiled at him and replied with a slight nod. Holden leaned over and put a light kiss on Sean's lips.
His mom sighed with pleasure and threw her hands on her heart. She looked at her husband, "look at them!". He put an arm around her waist and tugged her closer to his side. "Yep, that's all we could wish for. Our son has found someone he's really happy with." "Yeah, they're such a gorgeous couple!"
Holden blushed. He looked at Sean and was astonished to see that his partner's face had changed colors too.
"Can we stop talking about that and have breakfast already?"
They all knew Sean and smiled about his acted grumpiness. He was romantic, but he obviously wasn't comfortable with his parents analyzing his partnership.
"Yeah, let's eat before the eggs get cold." Christine agreed. "And let's not forget, we have a lot to chat about today and even more videos of sweet little Sean to watch. Of course just if you want, Holden."
Holden couldn't answer, because right in that second he had shoved a great amount of eggs into his mouth. But he eagerly nodded with sparkling eyes. Christine grinned at him.
Sean looked at his parents, then at Holden and finally on his plate. "Oh my God."
The weekend was over in a heartbeat. It was Sunday afternoon and they were on the flight home again.
"I just love your parents and I sooo can't wait for them visiting us. Is it ok that I invited them? I mean, I have to catch up on 'having parents', but I don't want you being annoyed or something."
Sean kissed Holden on the cheek. "How could I? Mom had tears in her eyes when she had to let you go. And dad wants to see your office and your plan for this gallery thing. Just let me warn you, you can't escape from them anymore."
Holden grinned at him now. "I don't want to escape. I love it!" He felt so happy right now like he could embrace the world. And he already created a plan for Eric's guest house in his mind. He hadn't designed anything for a while now and looked forward to this welcome change from just selling property. Working on this project with Eric would be great. 'He'll be surprised what a treasure has been sleeping in his backyard over years.' Ok, Holden had to admit, he was a bit selfish too. When the guest house would be ready, he and Sean would sleep there during their visits… and… well… Sean probably could relax better when his parents weren't in the adjoining room anymore.
'God, I feel like a teenager planning the first sex experience and trying to hide it from the parents.' He chuckled and looked at the other man. When Sean became aware of it, Holden batted his long lashes for a heartbeat longer than necessary. The footballer seemed to read his mind in a split second and grinned mischievously. He bent over and whispered into Holden's ear. "Can't wait 'til we're home. I'll make it up to you… for the last two nights."
Holden tilted his head… almost unnoticeable, but Sean took the offer and kissed his neck.
"God Holden, this will be the longest hour of my life." Sean growled into the soft curls behind his ear.
"Don't forget the one hour taxi drive from LAX to our house."
"Dammit, that's too long. Wait, we could take a room near the airport. Just for…"
"Eww, Sean! I won't check in at a 'God-knows-who's-been-lying-here-before' hot-sheet hotel!"
People's heads flew around and many eyes stared at him, too many. 'Oh, that was probably a bit too loud.' While his face turned crimson he glared at Sean. It was his fault after all. But the stifled grin on his partner's face made him chuckle too. "I'm sorry folks, didn't mean to be rude." He slouched down in his seat and dragged Sean closer by gripping his shirt. When his ear – this delicious and lickable ear… uh oh, focus Holden! – when his ear was close enough, he whispered "What I wanted to say before I made half the plane look at me with disgust – I won't have sex with you in a place like that. Even if the drive will take four hours, we will go home!" He tilted his head to see the reaction on Sean's face. "Will you stop grinning please?" He half-heartedly pushed the other man back into his own seat and tried to stay out of focus for the rest of the flight.
"Sean, I'm home! Sorry for being late!"
Holden put his briefcase on the sideboard. While crossing the living area he loosened his tie, put off his suit jacket and dropped it on a chair. It was a hot day for April and he felt like dying of thirst. Opening the fridge he moaned because of the wonderful cold breeze greeting him. He took out a water.
While greedily gulping down the cool liquid he had a look around to see any sign of Sean being at home. But then he heard him coming down the stairs. He had someone on the phone.
"Oh, he's at home now… ehm… do you wanna talk to him?"
Holden was curious now. "Who is it, love?"
Sean looked at him. "It's your… mom."
Holden grinned at him, anxious to talk to the woman he was expecting to be on the other end. He kissed Sean and yanked the phone out of his hand. He frowned for a second at Sean's uneasy look, but then started chattering into the unit.
„Hey Christine. Your son is teasing me. Said, it was my mom. I mean, I know you told me again to call you mom and we had a great weekend with you, but… ah you know what, to hell with it…" He giggled.
It took him a second to realize that it wasn't Christine. The smile fell out of his face. His body froze and he had a hard time to continue breathing.
He grit his teeth, couldn't say a thing. He hadn't heard this voice for over two decades.
"Holden? You're there?"
Again the memories rushed into his brain, unbidden.
"Is he there?" asked a male voice in the background.
Holden started shaking. He got chills all over his body. Tears welled up in his eyes.
He didn't even have to look at Sean, his partner summed up the situation by himself. He took the phone from Holden and just ended the call.
"I wanted to explain, but you were too quick. You just… Holden?"
"I'm having a shower." And he was gone.
Holden sat on the sofa with his legs drawn up. He pretended reading, but Sean noticed very well that he hadn't flipped the pages for about an hour now and just stared at some undefined spot on the actual page.
"Holden, we must talk about this." He went over and sat down opposite the other man. "Your mom told me that they wanna see you."
Holden looked up. "Good for her. How did they find me anyway? I mean…"
"Baby, everyone in this country with the slightest bit of interest in football knows about us. And putting two and two together they will assume that you live with me. And you told me that your dad is a football fan, so…"
"Right. But Sean, I don't think that I want that." Holden looked at him with pleading eyes.
Sean sighed and crawled over. He put his hand on his partner's thigh and fondly squeezed it. "It's your decision. Yours only. But maybe they're really sorry. You should give them a chance. And even if it's just for closing this case forever. Nothing happens without a reason. And you never know, maybe they surprise you."
He could see Holden's skeptical look. "You know that he beat the hell out of me when I was 16. They banned me. I can't forget that just because they call twenty years later and say 'Hey, we think we wanna visit you!'"
"I know! Believe me, I do. But as I said, everyone deserves a second chance. You gave me a second chance two months ago, when I came out. After the way I treated you the years before, I wasn't sure you'd come back to me."
"Oh Sean, please. That is something completely different! I knew that you loved me!"
"What tells you that your parents don't regret everything? What tells you that they haven't been thinking about the fact that you are their only son and that they love you?"
"You can't be serious, Sean."
"But are you sure that they don't regret?"
Holden stared at him. He had no exact answer to that. He wasn't sure. "I would see it in their eyes I guess."
"Ok. Does that mean you wanna see them?"
Holden looked surprised, either by this question or his own subconscious decision to meet his parents. "Yeah, I guess."
"Ok." Sean got up to prepare the dinner. "Oh, what I wanted to tell you. Those calls over the last few days, you know?" Holden nodded. "It was your mom. She told me. She didn't know how to start…"
Holden nodded again. "You'll be here, right?"
Sean turned around and smiled at him. "Of course!"
It wasn't easy for Holden to fight his inner demons and see his parents, but maybe Sean was right. He wanted to hear what they had to say about their behavior towards their only child. And if they hadn't an explanation – which was the more likely option – maybe he could finally put it behind after that. He didn't know how he would endure this evening, but he knew that Sean would stand behind him. He took a deep breath.
He hadn't slept the whole night and now couldn't stop fumbling with the edge of his shirt. Initially he wanted to wear a suit but then decided against it. Who was he trying to impress. And well, they wouldn't be impressed anyway. He was an office sitter, not a doer! He wasn't… God, why did the self-doubts crawl back into his head right now?
The doorbell rang and his heart leapt into his throat. Sean opened the door, welcomed them and asked them in.
When his mother saw him she smiled and headed up to him. She wore simple jeans and a washed out red blouse. Her ashy hair was tied up in a ponytail.
Holden didn't move. 'The time hasn't done her good. She looks worn out and tired.' The stubborn child in him didn't want to feel for her but she really didn't look well.
When she reached Holden, she hesitantly hugged him. He didn't hug back, just put a hand on her shoulder for a second and then stepped back from her. This felt as awkward as he had imagined it.
"Holden, you've become such a handsome young man."
The only reaction he had for her was a forced smile. Then he looked at his father who was right behind her and he automatically gritted his teeth.
"Son." When the older man reached out his hand and Holden raised his own to join the handshake he had to suppress the shivering. His mind made him feel like the 16 year old boy again. It was awful.
Sean obviously sensed that the atmosphere had absolutely plummeted. He made them have a seat at the dining table and started a small talk. It was tough and tedious in the beginning, but then Holden's mother started to tell how they learned where Holden lives now and that he is together with Sean.
After a few minutes she came to an end. "As I said, we saw the press conference and then the pictures of you two. We couldn't believe it. Our son and Sean Jackson. You really have a good taste Holden."
His father had been very quiet so far but now chimed in. "Yeah, he's one of the best quarterbacks at the moment. Sean, do you remember that game in Houston last year? You really saved it man. I didn't believe you could do it, but you did! A real football star! The others are football players, you're a star! I always knew that you have the potential. When you were playing in Boston in your early years, I swear I saw it back then!"
Sean uneasily shifted around on his chair. He glanced at Holden who seemed to take deeper and deeper breaths with every of his father's words. The footballer stood up, a bit too quick maybe. "Anyone want a coffee?" Without waiting for an answer he headed to the coffee machine. Maybe he was hoping the talk about him would stop.
But Holden's father didn't seem to care that Sean had left the table. He wallowed in his memories of the great games Sean had during his time as a pro so far.
Holden had listened patiently and now waited for their apology to him, it had to come. His parents didn't come here for that, right? When he raised his voice he couldn't be friendly, he didn't even try it. "So, you're here for small talk? For worshipping Sean and football? You could have written a letter. Or just have met him at a game or when I would have been at work. Don't you think you have something to tell me?" He put as much disappointment as possible into his voice for the last question, which wasn't difficult because he was disappointed.
His mom looked down at the table and kept quiet. His father looked at him with reproach, probably because he had interrupted his praising. Then the older man unwillingly started with what sounded like an apology. That he didn't mean it. That it had been the shock making him do what he did. That it was a different time then and gays – that was a hard word for him, everyone could see it – gays weren't as accepted as today. "I'm sorry." Two other words that obviously didn't pass his lips easily. There was a certain glance in his eyes, but Holden couldn't hold the eye contact long enough to interpret it. He still was intimidated.
A feeling started growing in him. Was it hope? Hope for being acknowledged? Or even loved? He swallowed. If Sean was the key to his own parents, to his father, why wouldn't he take this opportunity? Sooner or later they would see what their son had blossomed into. They would see what they've missed.
He inhaled deeply. He just had remembered the last time he had seen his father before he was taken to the hospital, seen his face in the dim light on the porch, his disgust, his hate and his desperation because Holden wasn't the son he had wished for. His mother hadn't even left the house.
No! They couldn't get away with a 'We're sorry, those were different times.' Not after what they did to him. Not after the twenty years of nothing. Holden mentally pushed the hope away and tried not to listen to it. Something was wrong. His dad had apologized, yes. But only because he literally had forced him to do it. And this annoyed look before. Nothing had changed.
He raised his eyes. 'Mom really looks bad.'
He looked back on his hands. No! No hope and no sympathy. Not even pity! He couldn't forgive them, because they didn't want to be forgiven. It became more and more obvious with every word out of his father's mouth. Was he really talking about one of the then neighbors' boys who he still had contact with? Oh right, he played basketball. That's a pretty good reason to love him. Holden swallowed again. The air was so stifling. Sweat started to shine on his forehead. He wanted to get out of here. Run, just run. It would be easy. He could stand up, go on the terrace, open the door and would be free. Free to run. Or to swim. Yes, swimming was even better. He would see nothing but the horizon. He wouldn't look back, just swim out. Would hear nothing but the water around him and some seagulls. Seagulls, that didn't lie to him about how sorry they are and justify their actions with 'different times'. Or tell him what a handsome young man he had become. Tell him that now all of a sudden he was a good boy because of the partner he had chosen. Tell him that…
He breathed deeply. No, he couldn't get out of here. He was trapped in his own house. With the man he loved more than anything in this world, but also with the two people he hated the most. But didn't he want just love from them at the same time? He felt the first signals of a headache coming up. But he had to be strong. The 'talk' would return to Sean and his great accomplishments and he would just have to sit and wait. Wait for them to leave. So he could let in some fresh air. Salty air from the ocean. He wanted to be in the ocean so bad. No, we already had that, no swimming for Holden today. Not now. Be strong. He looked out of the window and saw a seagull flying past the house. And smiled.
The familiar voice woke him from his daydream. He looked around. All eyes were on him now.
Sean gently smiled at him. "Your mom brought some photos of you as a child. You don't wanna look at them? You were such a cute boy!"
Holden stared at the pictures in front of him. A little blond boy with huge blue eyes smiled at him. But something wasn't right. And by looking at every single one he remembered. None of those were taken by his parents. All of them showed him at a friend's birthday party or in the summer camp. That's why the cute little boy was smiling. Was happy. And with showing those photos around, they could pretend having been good parents? Were they really convinced that they had done a great job at raising him?
He had to get out, to hell with being strong. He got up. Didn't choose the way to his beloved ocean though, because Sean would probably follow him. He needed an option with a door. A door that he could lock behind him. Without saying another word he went upstairs. When he had passed half the way he heard a chair moving and he knew that it was Sean's. "Don't!" was the only thing he could bring out. And his partner stayed.
After closing and locking the bedroom door, Holden instantly felt sorry for leaving Sean alone with them. But he had never been selfish, always had put everybody's needs above his own. This time it was his turn. He needed to be alone, away from them. And he was now.
He got naked and stepped into the shower. It wasn't the ocean, but it was water. At least something.
Holden was in the shower for over twenty minutes by now. Sitting on the bed with his back against the bedhead, waiting for him, Sean recalled the day.
When he had opened the door and looked into the eyes of Holden's dad, he knew where his partner had those amazing blue eyes from. But they weren't quite the same. The thing that always struck Sean most with Holden's eyes beside their color and those irresistible sparkles in them was their warmth. No matter how mad or angry he had ever been, one look into those eyes calmed him down and made him melt. Sean knew what was missing in the older man's look – this warmth. It made the light blue glance very cold. And though the man was obviously admiring him, Sean felt kind of uncomfortable around him. Holden's mom was quite shy and unremarkable. But from what Holden had told him she was not the woman having an own opinion. Yeah, that's exactly what she looked like.
Everything about this 'family reunion' had been pretty awkward. Yep, that's the perfect word to describe the evening – awkward. Poor Holden. When even Sean felt like that, what the hell must go on in his mind.
Thank God they had left immediately after Holden had disappeared. Empty phrases like 'It's late anyway.' and 'We still have some miles to drive.' were shared and they were gone.
Ah, the water finally had stopped. A moment later his partner came out of the bathroom just with a towel around his waist. He looked so miserable and lost. Sean reached out his hand. "Come here."
While making his way to him, Holden started apologizing. "I'm so sorry for leaving you alone. But… I couldn't stay in there any longer. I just couldn't. The indifference in his voice, as if nothing had ever happened… Those photos…" He reached Sean and crawled into his arms, embracing him as tightly as possible. "I couldn't be strong."
"Holden! Don't tell me you weren't strong! You haven't seen them like forever and now you sat there face to face. That can be overwhelming. You made a big step towards them. But you're right, it was a bit too much talk about… too much…"
"Too much talking about you? Yes. I think I have to accept the fact that you're the real reason why they wanted to meet, Sean. It's not me. Not their son. It's the football star I live with."
Sean sighed. "Hey. Don't say that, love. They tried, they really did. They want you to have the photos, they're in the living room. That's a gesture, right? I'd say they are really sorry and wanna make up for it."
Sean didn't feel confident in what he was saying there. But if he'd show the slightest hint of a doubt, Holden would never agree to another meeting with them. And that would be so wrong. Sean still couldn't understand what Holden's father had done to his son, and never would. But they were his parents, for God's sake. His mom gave birth to him, they raised him. It was just impossible that there wasn't any love left. This first get-together was a flop, yes. But he wanted Holden to be happy – and this has been everything but that. They needed to give it another try.
He looked down on Holden who had already fallen asleep. Sean carefully removed the half-wet towel from him and covered his naked body with the light sheets. Then he tiptoed into the bathroom and returned after a quick wash. He didn't want Holden to be alone now. Slipping under the sheets he took his partner in his arms. "You're safe baby, safe. No matter what." Holden didn't wake up, but snuggled up to Sean in a natural movement. Sean ran his fingertips over his forearm, enjoying the slight tingling of the hair on it. But with the feeling of his lover's even breath against his neck he finally dozed off too.
Holden had no idea why he was here. The first meeting, or better the fiasco with his parents was just a week ago. And now he was sitting here with Sean next to him in a quiet little restaurant, waiting for them. He didn't even know how Sean had managed to persuade him to do this. Well ok, he knew it. His partner was great in talking him into things. But he also got the goddess of persuasion on board, Kathy. His secretary had been after him the whole week. Yesterday she told him how important it was to get back in the saddle again and try it just once more. In the saddle? Really? He laughed about it, but she grabbed his arm and made him sit down on the sofa in his office. When he saw her dead serious eyes he knew he had to listen to her. "Mr. Wilson. Pease give it a try. They are your parents, the only parents you have." Holden wanted to bring up Sean's mom and dad, but kept silent. He knew what she was trying to say. She continued. "You know that I love working for you. And not only because you're a great boss." Holden smiled at her. "But because you are a great person. You deserve having parents that love you. And maybe they do and just couldn't show it that day. I'm sure it was strange for them too… meeting you after all those years." He looked into her eyes for a while and for a few seconds he tried to believe her. He couldn't however, he knew his parents better. But he was touched that she cared for him.
Her care and Sean's countless attempts at persuasion resulted in him sitting here. He sighed. His left leg nervously bobbed up and down until Sean placed his hand on it and gently stroked it. Holden smiled at him and leaned against his shoulder. He closed his eyes and for a moment he wished that they wouldn't come, that it would just be Sean and him for dinner.
Someone markedly cleared his throat. Opening his eyes Holden recognized his dad who now tried to look in any direction but theirs. He obviously had a hard time handling the innocent moment of affection between them. Holden shook his head. 'Yeah dad, you're right. I lean against his shoulder. Wow. I could just as well hump him on the table! Would be the same for you, wouldn't it?' Nevertheless he parted from Sean and sat straight.
His parents sat down and Holden tried to fight his slightly confrontational mood down. No, he didn't feel weak today… which was good. Maybe it was due to the fresh air, they had been placed outside.
Seeing his dad exclusively talking to Sean and completely ignoring him – like he used to do as long as Holden could think – and his mother hanging on his every word, made it clear. They would never be his parents, not the parents he had wished for.
Being honest he already knew it since their first meeting. But that evening had completely overstrained him, because at that time his little old friend 'hope' was still living in his mind. It had made him weak. But he was sick of being weak. Somewhere along the line between then and today, sweet little 'hope' had been kicked out by his new friends, 'sense of reality' and 'fuck you'.
As expected the talk was mostly about football again, but this time Holden was prepared for it. He and his new friends saw it with gallows humor. At least he had something to eat.
They wanted something. Not from him, that was obvious. So the only one remaining was Sean. Holden was almost excited when his dad would come up with it. 'What is it dad? What do you want?'
When his father got up and went to the restroom, his mom, who sat opposite him and again hadn't contributed much to the conversation so far, leaned over the table. "How is your work doing, Holden?"
Holden stared at her with disbelief. "Are you kidding me, mom? For over an hour you don't talk to me and now that he's away you come up with that?"
"You know your dad, Holden. All he wants to talk is sport. So I just thought…"
"Oh stop it."
With that an awkward silence came up and remained until his dad came back. He spread an atmosphere of departure though. "It has become late. But, Sean… I just wanted to ask you a favor." He nestled at the bag he had placed behind him.
Holden almost felt relieved, he was right. Sean looked at him. The surprise in his eyes couldn't be overseen. "Sure."
Holden squinted his eyes when his dad pulled out plenty of glossy prints with Sean in his gear on them. They were followed by ten of his team's caps. "Would you mind to sign these few things?"
Sean was apparently confused, but stayed astonishingly calm. "Ehm, okayyy… any name on it?"
"No it's ok, just sign it…" The older man prepared the pen for him.
Holden stared at Sean who started scribbling his name on the prints. "What the fuck? I can't believe it." His partner looked somewhat helpless but Holden just shook his head. "I'm waiting in the car." He glowered at his dad, took the keys out of Sean's pants pocket and left.
They hadn't talked at all on the way home. When they finally arrived, Holden went straight up into the bedroom and prepared for going to sleep.
Sean followed him and did the same. Pulling off his clothes he looked at his partner. "Holden, could we please talk? What is it?"
Holden snorted. "Come on Sean. Do me a favor and try to think with me. The stuff you signed today, what do you think, is he doing with it? Hm? Exactly! He will sell it! To the highest bidder."
Sean looked honestly off-guard. "No, I don't believe that."
"Sean. You don't know my dad. I do!" All of a sudden his anger directed against his partner and he couldn't do anything against it. "Anyway… where is your rage from three years ago when you first heard the story of my fucked up youth? If he had been there back then, you would have done 'God-knows-what' to him. You would have stood by my side. But today… you developed into his merchandize-signing cash cow!"
"No, you know I'm right!" Holden flopped onto his side of the bed.
Sean lay down and closed the distance between them. "I just tried to be friendly. I'm sorry if I hurt you with that. Come on love... please."
Holden sighed and Sean continued. "And according to the things… We both know he is a fan. Maybe the stuff is for his friends."
Holden snorted and turned his back to him, hectically sorting his blanket. "Friends. Yeah right. 40 close friends who all want your signed photo. And since my dad knows you, they surely don't want their name on it. You're so naïve."
With that the conversation was over. Sean returned to his side of the bed and stared out of the window. After a while Holden thought about talking about this argument but dropped it. He was right.
When Holden arrived at the office the next morning, after a night with no sleep at all, he was happy that Kathy wasn't at her desk. She would have asked about how the second meeting had been and that was the last thing he wanted to talk about right now. He had something else in his mind.
He started the computer and waited for the internet connection to build up. "Sean is too good for this world, and definitely too good for my parents!"
After flipping through some online portals and stores he found what he was looking for. The ink on the photos wasn't dry yet and his dad offered them for sale, way overpriced. "So they're making good money. I knew it." They didn't want to make up for his childhood and for the way they had treated him when he came out to them. They just abused him as go-between to Sean, the great football star. Well, he wasn't even a go-between, they barely talked to him anyway. They just wanted to reap profit out of Sean.
He felt tears running down his cheeks. 'Wait, what is that now? I thought, we had left that behind?' Dammit. Why could everybody he knew love him except his own parents? He buried his face in his hands and stayed like that for a while.
When he looked back up the tears had dried already. That was it. They had overstepped the mark. "You try to treat me like I don't exist and abuse Sean as source of income? No dad, not anymore."
"Why are we meeting your parents again? I didn't think that you would want that after last time." Sean looked confused and suspicious.
Holden hadn't told him about what he had found out. He wanted to confront his parents with it right in front of him. "I just wanna clarify some things. You'll see."
The doorbell rang and Holden went to let his parents in.
They took a seat on the sofa and Holden started right away. "Dad, what were the prints and caps for the other day?"
His father seemed surprised by the direct question and started stuttering while searching for an answer.
"You sell the stuff, right?" Holden continued shooting.
Sean looked at him and then at his dad.
The older man sat straight and looked at Holden with this cold gaze he knew so well. "Yeah. Why not? He's a football star, why not make a bit money with it? What do you care?"
Holden snorted and looked at Sean, who shook his head.
"What do I care? You are so unbelievable. But you won't do that. You don't come here with your fake apology and reap profit out of us!" Holden got up and started talking himself into a rage. "I knew it! I so knew it when you stepped through that door for the first time! Twenty years… shit! And now that you know I'm together with a football star, you remember having a son? After fucking twenty years of nothing? You call yourself a father? Or a mother?"
His mom started crying but his father got upset, exactly the reactions he had imagined. "Holden, watch your words. We raised you."
"So you're telling me I owe you something?" The young man panted. "Fuck you man! You didn't even talk to me when I proved to be the son with no interest in sports and all this 'man stuff'. It was like I didn't exist from the age of 5. You and her-", he pointed at his mother, "you gave me food and clothes. But that is not raising a child! You know what? I know Sean's parents for a month now… and they've given me more love and support than you did in those damn sixteen years I've lived with you! You gave me nothing but the feeling of being useless scum not worth the effort. Fuck!" Tears flooded his eyes, but he had to get it out now. "So I should honor you as parents? You remember what happened at the end of your oh so great raising, don't you? You beat the crap out of me and threw me out on the street like a rotten piece of shit. Thank you dad, thanks for that! And mom, thank you too. For doing nothing when he beat me down and broke my ribs and nose with his boots to kick the 'gay' out of me. For looking right into my eyes when he lashed me with his belt and finally knocked me out! You didn't do anything to stop him. You truly love me, I'm sure. So what do I owe you? Nothing!" Holden finally wiped off the tears that were pouring down his face. He barely could see the two people in front of him. Expressing the rediscovered hate for them was relieving, but it also had taken all his energy. He had to leave the room, breathing the same air as them made him feel sick. He also didn't want to hear any answer – it would be a lie or bad excuse anyway.
When he had passed the sofa his dad got up. "So, what do we see here? A grown up man crying and fleeing from confrontations again. You've been weak all your life. You were as a kid and you are now. And blaming it all on us is so easy, isn't it? But it's your fault, you decided to be a disgrace for us. And now you even dragged Sean Jackson into this environment."
Holden slowly turned around. His blue eyes were as cold as ice as he stared at his dad. He started shaking. After two more deep breaths he jumped at his father and pushed him to the ground. The pure rage made him hit the older man. Again and again. Didn't listen to his mother screaming. Didn't really notice Sean trying to get him off his father. He just couldn't stop. Soon blood started to splatter all over them and the floor. He didn't know whether it was from his father's bruised face or his own grazed knuckles. And he didn't care. This felt so good… no, it was unbelievably fucking fantastic. He heard himself laughing while his tears dropped on his dad's bloody shirt. 'Is this the feeling of going mental?' His hard punches were still not missing their target when he felt his partner's strong arms trying to interfere again.
Sean tried to draw his partner off the other man as soon as he woke up from the shock. But he had underestimated Holden's strength which of course was multiplied by the hate for his father. He was like a predator not willing to let go of its prey. Sean knew he would beat his father up until he didn't move anymore. He wasn't sure that Holden would stop even then! That thought gave him chills and he once more collected all his strength. Finally he could yank his partner to the side. Once he had him he put him into a firm grip and forced him to the ground with his own weight.
"Holden calm down! He's not worth it!"
The man underneath him kicked with his feet and bucked against him to get free again. Sean had never seen Holden like that before. He felt every muscle in his partner's body tensed and ready to attack his father again. All this aggression. But he gave Holden no other choice. After a few more seconds he finally capitulated and stopped fighting against Sean, panting for air, eyes closed now.
The footballer, still sitting on Holden and fixing his arms just in case, turned to see how the older man was doing. His wife now knelt by his side trying to clean his face with a tissue, but he pushed her away. He sat up, wiped the blood off his eyes with his sleeve and stared at Holden with the one eye he still could open. His face was a total mess. But he was conscious.
Sean focused on Holden again. "Can I let you out of this? You won't attack him once more, right? The old man's had enough."
Holden seemed thinking about it. Sean could see his inner fight. But then his breath slowed down to a normal degree. "Ok."
Sean lifted himself up and helped Holden on his feet. He looked worn out as hell and his bloody hand was shaking. The footballer noticed that it started swelling. Some bones in it were probably broken by the sheer force of his punches.
"Still call me weak, dad?" Holden's voice was calm, but the hate in his eyes was still there. "Look in the mirror and tell me again that I'm weak. This seems to be the only 'language' you understand."
His father wanted to say something, but Holden cut him off.
"Shut up! Don't say a fucking word! I have achieved so much in my life. I have a great job and an even greater man by my side. I finally know what it means to have a home and a family. And having parents that love me. I don't need you. We don't need you." He breathed deeply. "And now get the fuck out of our house!"
He passed his parents without looking at them and disappeared upstairs.
After Holden's speech and the fight afterwards the house now was frighteningly quiet. Sean stayed silent when Holden's parents collected themselves and where about to leave. When they were in the hallway he overheard something the man mumbled. "He's strong… but he has no respect."
Sean grabbed him by the shoulder and turned him around "Wait what? What did you just say?" He stared at the old man. "You're talking about respect? Your teenage boy came to you and told you he is gay, because he trusted you and you beat him up and tell me something about respect? You insinuate yourselves into our confidence to make fucking money out of me and tell me something about respect? Then you insult your son in his own house and call our lifestyle 'environment'… and tell me something about respect? Let me tell you something before you leave forever. You two don't deserve him as son. He is the most wonderful person I have ever met, all good and strong and endearing. Now that I know you, I think it's a miracle that he could grow into the man that he is. Thank God your environment couldn't poison his beautiful soul." He focused Holden's dad now. "And the next time he decides to kick your ass I swear I won't stop him. And now… what were his words… get the fuck out of our house!"
The still bleeding man wanted to say something but decided against it. They left without another word.
When he had closed the door behind them, Sean took a deep breath. All his thoughts revolved around Holden now, so he rushed up the stairs to see how he was doing.
"Ouch. Fuck." Holden's hand still hurt like a bitch, though it was almost a week ago now. The doctor in the hospital where Sean had brought him had put his hand in plaster and told him to keep it still for at least three weeks. He was handicapped anyway, since it was his right hand, so he didn't go to work. No, he enjoyed being at home and being cared for by his partner. Sean was really sweet, he complied with his every wish... though he didn't have many. He just asked for an extra kiss here and there. And he made Sean cook for him, every day.
To his own surprise he didn't feel bad about what he had done to his dad. Ok, he didn't feel brilliant either. Beating someone up normally was under his niveau, but too much is too much. He was at peace now. He would never see those people again.
He heard Sean coming home from running some errands. But who was he talking too? Holden was too lazy to get up from the sofa, he decided just to wait. But then he recognized the familiar voices beside Sean's. He jumped up – almost forgot not to support himself on his bad hand. He sneaked around the corner and a grin popped up on his face.
"Christine! Eric! What are you doing here? I thought you were coming next weekend."
He rushed over and embraced both of them.
Sean's mom inspected his hand as soon as she let him out of her hug. "Sean called and told us that you need some cheering up. And… here we are."
Eric patted his shoulder. "So, what happened?"
Holden looked at Sean and put all the thankfulness he could into his smile. The other man nodded and brought his parents' luggage into the guestroom. Holden went into the kitchen to make some coffee, but Christine headed him off. "Don't you dare to do anything for us, Holden Wilson. Get back on the couch and let me make the coffee. Eric!"
Her husband got the hint and guided Holden to the sofa. "You have to rest, boy."
When Sean joined them again and they had something to drink and Christine's wonderful brownies to eat, Holden looked at the Jackson family with a satisfied smile. When Sean returned the smile he sighed.
"Christine, you remember the last time we visited you and Sean told you I'm not used to so much mother love?"
She looked at him with curiosity. "Yes. And your eyes told me not to ask you about it." She gave him a warm smile when he choked back the tears.
Holden slightly nodded and put his cup on the table. Then he started telling his story.
Christine and Eric got up at the same time and sat down on both of Holden's sides. He hadn't been crying while telling, he really was kind of proud of himself. And even when they both hugged him now, all he could do was smile. A hardly known feeling started spreading in him. 'This must be what it feels like… being loved by his parents.'
Sean got up and tousled his hair to lighten up the emotional scenario. "Welcome to the Jackson's. We're a clan of huggers."
Holden chuckled. "I see. I'd love to join."
Sean's parents parted from him. Holden could see that Christine had to fight back the tears. She sighed deeply and took his hands into her own. "You have a family now. And parents that love you for who you are – a wonderful man and our son's partner. We will always love you, no matter what."
"Thank you… mom."