Title: The Five Things that Dave Learned the First Time Vacationing with Aaron and Jack

Author: Kuria Dalmatia

See Chapter 1 for Comments/disclaimers/etc.

The Fifth Thing: It's okay to weep quietly from the sheer joy of watching his husband, his son, and his dog play Frisbee on the beach.

The cigar tastes good and smells even better. It's one of the rare times he indulges but he's on vacation, damn it. Aaron gives him a bit of hell about it because he doesn't want Jack to see his parents lighting up, but Dave isn't giving in on this one. When Jack asks about it, Dave explains he's using the stogie to repel mosquitoes. Aaron grumbles under his breath but then asks Jack if he'd like to play on the beach.

So Dave sits on the deck of their rental house, smoking his cigar and nursing a glass of pinot. He watches as his husband and his son toss the Frisbee while his dog gives chase. He hears their laughter. He hears the dog barking what he always thinks of as Mudgie's "happy yap."

The sun begins to set, creating a picturesque scene.

That's when it hits.

And it hits hard.

Because finally, finally Dave has what he's been trying to achieve for all these years. He has a spouse who gets it. He has a kid who thinks it's awesome to make homemade pasta. He has a dog and a house and two successful careers and enough money to retire comfortably and pay for a good college for Jack and … and …

He feels the tears run down his face. Tears of joy. Tears of thankfulness. Tears of knowing that if he were to die right here, right now, he would be the happiest man on the goddamn earth.

There's part of him appalled that he's crying like a baby because "real men don't cry" but there's a bigger part of him that counters with "real men do cry" because they are confident enough not to give a shit about what other people think.

The emotions are overwhelming. Dave's hands shake. He has enough coordination to put out the cigar and haul his ass inside before Aaron and Jack can see him sobbing on the porch. He's not ashamed but it's too hard to explain without sounding like a moron. So he sits on the bed, gets it out of his system, and then washes his face. The cold water helps reduce the puffiness under his eyes but it will be fairly obvious to someone like Aaron that Dave's been blubbering.

Dave goes to the kitchen and starts making dinner. It's their last night here and they've managed to eat the evening meal in for all nine days, a minor miracle considering all they've done. Horseback riding, sailing, fishing … Dave can't recall seeing Aaron smiling so much, so consistently, ever.

The thought causes him to tear up, but Dave blames it on in the onions he's chopping. His family comes roaring back into the beach house, Mudgie, of course going right for the kitchen. Jack and Aaron call the dog back, but Dave sneaks the pup a piece of meat before he sends him away. Dave continues to cook while Aaron and Jack play a round of Candyland at the kitchen table. Aaron knows something is up with Dave, but refrains on drawing attention to it.

Damn those onions, Dave says to himself as he turns away and wipes his eyes yet again. Dinner goes by too quickly as does the walk along the beach.

They're repacked for the most part, so tomorrow will be an efficient round of tidying up. When they put Jack to bed, Dave reads three stories including the Cars one, even doing the voices for the latter. Afterward, Dave and Aaron sit in silence on the deck, Dave holding Aaron's hand, and it's another one of those memories that Dave wants to latch on to forever. He can't blame the tears on the onions this time, so he leads Aaron back inside.

There's a difference between fucking and making love, and this last night, Dave gives the latter everything he's got. It's slow. It's sensual. It's everything he can't find the words to say. Aaron is responsive, encouraging. It's not until they've both climaxed and are panting down from the sex high that he gets the question, "Is everything all right?"

There's a mild panic in Aaron's voice and Dave immediately realizes that his emotionalism can certainly be interpreted as preparing one's spouse for really crappy news.

"I love you," Dave says against his husband's lips. "I love Jack. I love the dog even though these days he gets on the furniture at home like he owns the damn things."

Aaron runs a gentle hand through Dave's sweaty hair. "I love you, too," but there's still caution in his voice. He's waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Dave pulls back and meets Aaron's gaze. "I gave up on the whole 'happily ever after' thing a while ago. Now? I think I've got it." He leans in for a brief kiss. "The only thing that's wrong is I'm being sentimental as hell."

Aaron searches his eyes for the longest time before finally nodding. "Okay."

"Really, Aaron. That's all that this is." He rolls to his side and pulls him closer. "I'm not dying or anything dramatic like that."

"You're just being dramatic," Aaron teases.

"Yeah." He shrugs. "I don't want to go back out in the real world."

His husband offers a warm smile. "We have a few hours until morning."

"Yes, we do."