SLASH BACKSLASH ONE-SHOT CONTEST
Story Name: Shooting Stars
Pen name: Rosmarina
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns any Twilight characters and Twilight plot lines that may appear in this story. The remainder is my original work.
To see other entries in the "SLASH BACKSLASH" contest, please visit the C2: http:/www . fanfiction . net/c2/68069/3/0/1/
Summary: *Entry for the Slash Backslash Contest 2.0* The meadow, a meteor shower, two men in love and the family they made. Edward makes a wish on a falling star and decides it's time to take what he wants.
xoxox to Winterstale for pre-reading and generally being an awesome friend and writing buddy.
August 13, 2010
"Daddy, I'm so in-zosted!" Davey's little voice whines. We're picking our way down an old trail to the meadow and his light-brown curls are starting to stick to his damp forehead. The trail is not terribly overgrown; still, it's hard work for little legs.
"You're so exhausted?" I parrot back automatically. It's a habit Emmett and I have both picked up as one tool to help him overcome his slight speech difficulties. His enunciation is a little delayed for a four year old, but there's nothing wrong with his vocabulary.
"Yes," he groans emphatically and his shoulders slump.
"Okay, buddy." Emmett bends to one knee beside Davey, shifts his backpack into a more comfortable position, and hoists our youngest up onto his broad shoulders. "Up you get."
I watch my big man straighten up and continue down the trail ahead of me. He's got his loaded pack, half our water and a bed roll strapped to him, and now forty extra pounds of our little man on his shoulders. He's both the strongest and the gentlest person I know, and I feel a little catch in my throat at the sight of them.
Emmett is wearing the clothes I laid out for him to change into when he got home from the office – an old and very soft black t-shirt over olive cargo shorts and his hiking boots. It's probably my favorite thing to see him in, if he's got to wear clothes that is. His broad shoulders look amazing, his bubble butt is still fine as can be, and his muscular calves are downright drool-worthy.
Davey is Emmett's mini-me, blue-eyed and stocky and solid, though his curls are lighter and his face still has that roundness of babyhood. I can already tell he'll be tall like his daddy. Walking beside me, Nina's long straight ponytail is the color of cinnamon – a product of combining my brassy copper penny hair color with her bio-mom's chestnut brown. She's willowy and slim like me at that age and so tall already. She starts the fourth grade next month.
Some days I look around and can't figure out how I've gotten here so fast. Thirty-six years old. Bio-dad to an almost nine year old daughter. Adoptive-dad to a four year old son. Elementary school teacher for twelve years. Committed life partner to Emmett McCarty for ten. Registered same sex domestic partner to him going on three.
It's gone by in the blink of an eye.
Sometimes I just need to slow it down a little. I need to get away from all the distractions and focus on the most important people in my life. I've had this overnight camping trip planned for months. As much as I appreciate Seattle, it feels so damn good to get away from the city for a while. This piece of woods on the Olympic Peninsula has been in my family for a couple of generations, and I've always loved getting away out here in the summers. There is a cabin down to the south for the rest of our long weekend stay, but tonight we'll rough it in the meadow. The annual Perseid meteor shower is supposed to be at its peak tonight, and the clearing will be a great place to watch it.
A few minutes more and we make it to the meadow. After the shady green coolness of our walk through the forest, the circle of bare blue sky overhead makes a stark contrast and the sunshine starts warming our skin. The meadow in summer is all soft tall wild grasses and not much else. It's a mysteriously empty oasis amidst the towering cedar, madrona and douglas fir with their lush undergrowth of fern and ocean spray.
A few amenities greet us. No water or electricity of course, but there is a picnic table and a stone-lined fire pit with a couple of logs around it for sitting on. Emmett lets Davey down off his shoulders, and we all take off our packs and set them on the old wood table. I start to get the kids settled in while Em goes back for a second load of our things.
We're only staying one night so it would follow that we don't really need all that much, right?
There's a cooler with ice and the perishables for dinner and breakfast. Bug spray and flashlights (the Spiderman one for Davey of course) and extra batteries just in case. There's a tent and a folding camp-shovel. Two gallon jugs of water and tp and wipes. A bag for trash and a first aid kit. I've brought a thermos of decent coffee we can reheat over the fire in morning because I'm picky and I can't stand camp coffee. Davey and Nina have their own kid-size backpacks with their mess kits and a few toys and one bedtime book each.
There are heavy-weight sleeping bags and pillows and foam pad for Nina who's like the Princess with the pea when it comes to sleeping on the ground. There's a change of clothes for each of us – and an extra in the car, just in case – and warm fleece jammies for the kids and sweats for Em and me. It may be summer but nights are still cool in the Pac Northwest, and the forecast says it will dip as low as fifty-two degrees Fahrenheit tonight.
Still, the partial clouds of the morning have long since been burned off by the sun, and it promises to be a very clear night for star-gazing. I don't know if Davey will stay awake long enough to see much, but Nina probably will and she's likely old enough to appreciate it too.
I look over everything laid out on the table and try to organize it. I've probably over-packed, but I've probably forgotten something too. I just keep my fingers crossed that I've remembered the absolute necessities. It's not a long hike back to the car, and after that a fairly short drive to the cabin on the other side of the property, but that old trail will feel twice as long if one of us has to do it in the dark.
"Daddy! I'm behind you!" Davey says, holding onto the back pockets of my jeans. I peer over my shoulder at him. His face is split in an enormous grin, and he breaks out in giggles when our eyes meet.
"No, Daddy," he chortles. "Don't see me!"
Dutifully I comply, facing the table again and asking the air, "Where's Davey?" I turn to the left and my little man shuffles along trying to stay out of sight behind me. I pretend to peer down the trail after Emmett. "He's not with Daddy." Muffled giggles come from the vicinity of my right hip where he buries his face against me.
I turn to the right and Davey shuffles again. "Nina, have you seen Davey?"
"Nope," she plays along. "But there's some weird animal behind you!"
"What!" I feign shock and whip around 180 degrees. Davey almost loses his grip on my pockets, and he's laughing so hard I'm glad he doesn't have food or gum or something in his mouth because surely he'd have choked on it by now.
"I don't see anything…" I muse aloud.
"There! It's behind you right now!" Nina's giggles join Davey's, especially as I whip around again. She jumps up and runs over, trying to point him out to me. Every time I turn my head I hold my hand above my eyes as if I'm peering off to the horizon. I don't look down or break the illusion but just keep shuffling us around until we're well away from the table. Then I let them tackle me to the grass.
"Oof. There you are, Davey. I've been looking all over for you."
I get up and grab my son, trying to tuck him under my arm like a football and he's nearly too big, but I manage to carry him back to the bench still wiggly and giggly.
Once he's standing on the bench in front of me I spray him down with a non-toxic citronella oil bug spray. I try to remember to do it anytime we are out after dark in the summer. If I don't, my little guy comes home with angry red welts everywhere the mosquitoes can get to his skin. He squirms and wrinkles his nose every time he feels the spray. It takes me twice as long as if he'd just stand still, but I wouldn't trade a minute of his wiggly self even though I frequently find myself in-zosted at the end of the day.
When I've covered Davey in the pungent lemony mist I let him run off to gather sticks from the edge of the clearing for the fire we'll make later. Nina has gone to kneel beside an enormous cedar tree to poke at a bug with a stick. The tree is so big that I bet if Emmett and I both put our arms around it our hands wouldn't touch, and I wonder how long it's been here. One hundred years? Two hundred?
"C'mere for a minute, baby girl."
"I'm not a baby anymore, Daddy." She insists, and in contrast to her brother she stands perfectly still while I mist her with bug spray.
"You're right." I admit, and I sit down on the bench and draw her on to my lap anyway. "You're my big girl, aren't you?" She smiles proudly and that lump in my throat comes back doubled.
I press my face into her soft locks, still baby-fine despite how much she's grown. "But you'll always be my baby, too," I say to her hair. I move my nose into her neck exactly where I know it tickles. "Even when you're as big as a tree!" She cringes away laughing and I let her go. She runs back to her play.
Emmett gets back a little while later and I help him unload everything. When his hands are empty at last I wind my arms around his waist.
"Happy we're here, babe?" he asks me, wrapping me up in his arms too.
I nod into his chest and nose around there a little bit. He smells of fresh sweat and my body is responding. He pulls back just enough to look down at me and waggles his eyebrows with a smirk. "Mmm," is all he says though before kissing me, but he pulls me harder against him by my ass so I can feel him responding to me, too.
Davey runs up. "Can we make the fire now, Daddy?"
Emmett gives me a quick kiss and mouths the word later. He waggles his eyebrows again, then slaps me on the ass. Bending down, he gets eye to eye to talk to Davey. "Sure thing, buddy."
I take the opportunity that's presented and pop him one back, earning a sound that's half yelp and half laugh. He winks and blows me a kiss a la Marilyn Monroe. I snort, and when Davey's not looking I shoot him the bird.
Nina and I get to work setting up the tent while Em and Davey work on making the campfire. She wants to hammer in the stakes but she's not quite strong enough by herself. I kneel and reach around to let her put her hands on top of mine as I do it. She gets to see how to angle the stake and how much weight the mallet needs to bring to bear.
When Emmett and the little mister have enough firewood gathered from downed branches, they make a teepee shape out of kindling and Em gets out his fire steel. I don't tell him I've got a lighter in my pack and a small cache of firewood back in the car, just in case his wilderness skills don't pan out the way he hopes. It's not that I don't have faith in him, I do. It's just that becoming a parent has made me even more of a worrier and planner than I was pre-kids. Emmett has always been the spontaneous oh-hell-just-wing-it one in our relationship, and I'm man enough to admit that. I'm also man enough to step back and give Emmett a chance to be successful. Man enough to be proud of him when he's got the fire blazing just right.
After a while Davey runs off to chase bugs and to whack tree-dragons with his stick-sword. Nina gathers bark and leaves and pine cones and sticks and moss into a little pile at the base of that same cedar tree. The old one. She painstakingly balances the pieces in a precise arrangement. Emmett asks her what she's making and gives her his rapt attention as she tells him about the fairy house she's building. When the second floor keeps collapsing, Emmett offers advice on construction. It's a three-story collaborative masterpiece by the time tummies start rumbling for dinner.
We roast hotdogs over the fire on green sticks of ocean spray Em cut from the woods, and afterwards we make s'mores. They're sweet and sticky and a little charred because Emmett gets impatient and lights the marshmallows on fire half the time. I spend most of my time blowing on lava-hot marshmallows to cool them off enough that the kids can eat them without getting burned.
They binge on sweets for a while until some internal message from their bodies tells them it's had enough and they start chasing each other through the grass. I'm not overly worried about the sugar because we're planning to stay up late tonight anyway and this is about the best outlet for a sugar-high as I can figure and also it's not something we do very often. They both ate a ton of dinner, and the hot dogs were organic ones on whole wheat buns, so I've not fed them total crap today.
Besides, I'll brush their teeth in a little while, and it'll all be good.
That's what I forgot. The toothbrushes.
Not the kids'. They've each got theirs in their backpacks along with a travel size of their favorite toothpaste – silly strawberry for Nina and outrageous orange-mango for Davey.
No, I've forgotten mine and Em's. I guess we'll have to do without tonight or use the kids'. I laugh a little to myself thinking of Emmett trying to brush his teeth with Davey's tiny toothbrush.
As it gets dark Emmett stops stoking the fire and starts letting it burn down to coals. It'll put out some heat for a while but the larger flames would interfere with the stargazing we want to do. On the other side of the fire, away from the tent and closer to the middle of the meadow, I spread out some blankets for us to lie down on, and then we brush teeth and change into jammies.
The sky is so clear and there's no light pollution at all. Em and I are on the ends with Davy and Nina snuggled between us and a warm blanket on top. Davey has trouble getting settled at first, and I cup my groin protectively with my free hand. He has a tendency to kick his feet in just the wrong spot. There are two dozen or so of the brightest stars like we might see at home on a good night and behind that is a dense layer of smaller, dimmer stars that we wouldn't normally get to see. It's too many to even consider counting. There's a swath of sky where the stars are so thick and plentiful that it almost looks like a silvery cloud. I guess that's part of the Milky Way. The idea of lying still and waiting patiently for a star to shoot across the sky is a tough concept for the little guy so I start to tell him stories.
I tell him how the earth spins like a top, but so slowly that we can't feel it moving under out feet.
I tell him that the stars are always out there, but we can't see them in the daytime because the sun's just too close and too bright. That when the spot of earth we're on spins away from the sun then it's nighttime for us and finally we can see stars that have been hiding from us all day.
I tell him how this big ball we live on rolls in a huge circle around the sun, and the circle is so big that it takes a whole year just to go around one time.
I tell him how sometimes tiny rocks as small as a piece of sand hit our atmosphere and catch fire, and it looks like a star falling out of the sky. I tell him that's called a meteorite, and when there's a bunch of them like there will be tonight we call it a meteor shower.
"There's one," Em calls out.
"Where?" Davey asks and Em points.
"It's gone now, buddy, but I saw it right over there."
"Make a wish, Dad." Nina is old enough to differentiate. When she wants me she says Daddy, and when she wants Emmett she says Dad.
"Alright… I wish Grammy and Pappy would move out here to be closer to us when Pappy retires."
"It would be nice to have them closer so we could see them more," I agree. My parents live here on the peninsula, but Caroline and Bradley McCarty are back in Tennessee where Emmet grew up. Nina and Davey only get to see them about three weeks out of every year across two different visits. We do regular video calls with them on the computer, but it's just not the same.
"Did you talk to your mom today?"
"Yeah, Dad called me at work, and she got on the phone for a minute. She was a little groggy still, but it sounds like she came through the cataract surgery just fine. Now we just have to wait to see how well it took."
The four of us are silent for a little while after that, watching the sky.
"I saw one! I saw one!" Davey is elated, and I'm in absolute love with the smile on his face.
"What do you wish for, little man?"
"I wish for suuuu-per peed!"
Nina and Emmett start giggling. I have to work to maintain a straight face. "Do you mean super speed, kiddo?"
"Yup! Super peed. So I can run rewey, rewey fast!"
"Ooh! There!" Nina exclaims just as I catch sight of one out of the corner of my eye.
"What's your wish, Nina-lina?" Em teases.
I watch her think it over. Her lips purse and squish over to one side and she tugs on a lock of her hair by her ear that's come loose from her ponytail.
"I wish my daddies could get married."
Emmett's eyes meet mine over their heads. He hugs her closer to him. "That's sweet, honey. Thank you. Now look for another one and make a wish that's just for you, okay?"
Davey and Nina keep a sharp look out, and their wishes run the gamut from wanting to fly to Grammy's house or find pirate treasure to wanting a remote control motorcycle and two birthdays each year. Finally Davey gets quiet, and before I know it he's fallen asleep with his head on my chest. Em and I whisper tranquilly while we watch the sky for little glimpses of shooting stars. Nina's next, her head nodding against Emmett's bicep. Gingerly he lifts her with one arm under her shoulders and the other under her knees. He has to duck down onto his knees to get her into the tent. When he ducks back out, I carry Davey in. I tuck him next to Nina and then zip them up into the same down sleeping bag.
Em is already settled back on the blanket and waiting for me. I slip under the covers and into his arms.
We kiss for a while and it's sweet and satisfying even though it lacks the playful heat from earlier. Emmett is beat, and I let him drift off to sleep while I listen to his heartbeat and look up at the glittery night. Every few minutes or so a brief flash catches my eye.
I realize that I haven't made any wishes.
I have so much to be grateful for already. It seems almost selfish to wish for more.
So I just wish for little things: for Davey to get the hang of riding his two-wheeler, for Nina to continue enjoying her piano lessons so much, for Em to get a break at work because even though he loves his new project I know he misses the kids.
I lay awake for a long time just thinking over the day and absorbing the magnificent majesty above us.
The frequency of meteorites seems to be increasing. It feels like a symbol of the abundance of the universe, and I start to wish for things that are a little bit bigger: for Caroline to recover well from her surgery, for my sister Allie's artwork to start selling so she can quit working her shitty day job, for Prop 8's overturn in California to stick.
Same sex marriage is not recognized in Washington state where we live and raise our family. In 2006 the state supreme court had a chance to legalize it, but the ruling came back as a 5-4 split decision against. A year later the state legislature passed domestic partnership status. Emmett and I processed the paperwork as soon as possible, and it did make things move a little more smoothly when I adopted Davey. It wasn't everything we wished for, but there was less red tape this time around than when Emmett filed to adopt Nina.
Since then the limited rights offered to registered domestic partnerships like ours have been steadily expanding in bits and pieces. Last year our governor signed the "everything but marriage" bill into law, and when the opposition put it to popular vote by referendum it was upheld 53% to 47%, much to their dismay.
Take that, assholes.
It was the first time any U. S. state has approved a same-sex union law by statewide vote.
It's a good thing.
But it's not enough.
I keep watching the sky as I think. If Prop 8 gets struck down in California, will that pave the way for other states to open the doors to same-sex marriage? If limiting marriage to one-man-one-woman is ruled unconstitutional in California, shouldn't it follow that it's unconstitutional everywhere in the United Sates?
My eyelids are getting heavier, but there are so many meteorites it's just incredible. They are coming close enough together now that I start to count the number of Emmett's deep lumbering breaths beside me between sightings. Sometimes there are nine or ten breaths between streaks of light crossing the sky. Sometimes there are only four or five.
There are so many I let myself wish a little bigger, a little bolder. I think about Nina's face when she wished that her daddies could get married. It's understandably confusing to her why other people's parents are allowed to marry, often expected to marry even, but her own parents don't have that very basic right. I don't want to see her confused or sad or angry, and I've been down-playing my personal frustration and dissatisfaction because they are both so young. I don't want to hide things, but they shoulder enough burden already just having a family that's perceived as different, as less.
But here in the dark under the glorious light of these stars I decide to let myself be bold. The next star I see shooting across the sky, I let myself wish for the right to marry the man sleeping next to me.
I let myself wish for it with everything in me, and once I let that wish out, it's like letting the genie out of the bottle. I can't just stuff it back in.
I wish for it over and over on every piece of space dust that dances and skids across our atmosphere, burning and flaring to light in the dark sky. I wish for it so hard that I grit my teeth and kick at the covers in frustration.
Emmett stirs beside me. He scrubs his face and clears his throat a little. "You still awake, babe?"
"Yeah," I whisper, chagrined that I woke him. Reaching out, I rub his back. "Go back to sleep." He makes a kiss-sound at me and puts his head back down. His breathing stays shallow though so I'm not surprised when he flips over a minute later and drags me against him.
Emmett's forearm tightens across my chest until I'm backed up against him so close that I can feel every shift of his chest as he breathes. His mouth on the back of my neck is so good. He knows it's one of my absolutely favorite spots, and he rubs his lips and stubble over this piece of me that is bared to the cold.
"Is it later yet?" he rumbles quietly into my ear.
We've gotten really good a keeping quiet during sex since starting our family so I'm not worried about waking the kids even though they're sleeping in a tent just ten feet away from us. I press back against him harder, and answer his question with my body. He snakes his right arm under me so we can link hands.
Now his top arm is free to roam my body. The feel of Emmett's large strong hand stroking my chest under my shirt is melting my tension and replacing it with a frisson of sexual energy. My skin awakens and remembers his touch even as it moves to a new part of my body. He maps out my neck and my collar bones. He finds my nipple and sets it humming with pinches and tugs. The heel of his hand kneads the muscles down my side just along my spine; his fingers ripple over my abs. He grasps and clutches at me, running his teeth over that spot on my neck, and still holding tight to my right hand with his.
By the time he dips his left hand into my sweat pants it meets with hard and ready flesh. I can feel his matching hardness heavy against my backside. Some unconscious clue – the silent language of long-time lovers – registers between us and he slides my pants down over my hip just as I reach back to pull down the front of his. We're so close together that I can feel Emmett fishing in the pocket of his sweat pants for something. We wiggle and shuck until at last we kick free of our pants underneath the blanket. Then I figure out what the something is when I hear him use his teeth to rip open a travel-size packet of lube.
Moments later, Emmett's lubed cock slides through my cheeks and rubs across my sensitive skin. He reaches for me again. Rolling against me, advance and retreat, his slippery hand alternately strokes my erection and fondles my sac. I close my eyes and sink into his knowing hands, letting his touch set off delicate vibrations of sensation and energy within me.
When my heart is racing and those enticing vibrations grow in frequency and pitch, I draw up my top leg and roll forward slightly, opening, initiating the next step. I take deep lungfuls of clean crisp nighttime air as he makes me ready and then parts me and enters. I roll back to meet him, and through all this we are silent except for the sounds of our breathing.
We slip and slide past each other slowly, connecting deeply and drawing away and connecting again. The heat we're producing moving together like this is starting to make us sweat. Emmett and I pause just long enough for him to pull off his layers of shirts. I drag my own over my head as well. I don't let our right hands untwine though. I don't want him to pull out, and I don't want to let go of his hand. It means clothing bunched around our arms, but we just make do.
And who cares really? Because his chest is finally – finally! – naked against my back. His mouth is on my shoulder, and mine is gasping for air, and the front of his thighs are against the backs of mine. His knees are inside of my knees, his cock is inside me and my cock is inside his hand, and his other hand holds mine right over my heart. I feel so totally encompassed by this love between us. It manifests itself in so many ways – in making love physically, of course, but also in companionship and friendship and partnership. In commitment and belonging and family.
My head is searching for the right word for this perfection, is always searching for it. Life partner. Co-parent. Lover. The father to my children. The other half of my heart. Each of these titles is true and holds important meaning. They are valuable words, if somewhat narrow.
But they lack a certain power. None holds the weight, the significance, the cultural legitimacy I crave like the word husband.
And I want that empowerment. I want the right to that word. And I'm so tired of waiting for someone else to decide that I can have it.
We've made vows to each other. Ten years ago we stood in front of family and friends with a minister from the Unitarian Universalist church and promised our commitment to each other as lovers and partners and life-mates. But never did we use the word husband. Even then we were legally dispossessed of that title.
I want that word.
So here in my meadow under a shower of meteors with the man that I love, I decide to take it.
"Emmett Dale McCarty," I whisper to him, "I take you as my husband, with the stars as our witness, for the rest of my days."
He stills for half-a second, less maybe, then his arms tighten around me even more. The hand twined with mine over my heart is clutching mine so hard that it hurts. It's a good pain though, like we're crushing to dust everything and everyone who wants to stand in the way of us having this word like we should. We deserve it as much as anyone else.
"Edward Anthony Mason," he starts, and his voice is thick with emotion but so soft, right in my ear. I didn't think my heart could beat any harder than it is already, but I was wrong. I can't even see his face, but we are so connected right now that I have everything I need, everything I wish for when he answers me, "I take you as my husband, with the stars as our witness, for the rest of my days."
When we begin to move again it's with new purpose.
Taking this word, this title of husband, isn't about giving up the fight or accepting the status quo of separate and unequal. It's about staking my claim to this right in any way I know how until the rest of the world catches up with me. Because what we have is real – laws on the books be damned – and it's not going anywhere.