Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Mountains of coursework and exams all over for the year, so I thought I'd get myself back into the swing of things by committing myself to the Thanksgiving fic I've been trying to write for god knows how long. Hopefully putting up the first chapter will be the kick in the butt that gets it finished.

As summary says, this is 16x8 universe, although you don't necessarily have to have read all those drabbles, particularly as it's set pretty early on - just a year and a bit post-Olympics. The only thing you need to know is that after not seeing one another for almost a year, Payson and Sasha reunite at University of Washington when Sasha takes up a coaching position with the GymDawgs.

Disclaimer: I do not own MIOBI.

Summary: 16x8 Universe. Sasha had never actually celebrated Thanksgiving and his first experience was beyond memorable. What with crotchety old men, mischievous little sisters, and well meaning parents . . . all of whom believe he's in an inappropriate relationship with his most prized gymnast.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner – A Common Misconception

"I'm bringing Sasha home with me to Thanksgiving," Payson said, letting her mother know there would be an extra guest at the usual Keeler family celebration. Not that Sasha actually celebrated Thanksgiving – he was so British sometimes – but it was the thought that counts.

"So you'll be coming together?" her mother asked in a suddenly strained tone that Payson couldn't understand. She had thought her mother would be pleased to have Sasha there after not seeing him in so long. Sasha had even said himself that outside of his gymnasts – 'you rebels' he always deemed them affectionately – Kim Keeler was probably the one person he missed from his days at The Rock.

"Yes together," Payson answered rather casually paying no real heed to the way that Kim had asked the question. "I don't finish class until late on Wednesday and Sasha will be getting in one last practice before he leaves, so we won't be catching a flight until Thursday morning, but we've both got Friday off so we can stay for the weekend.

"Sasha was going to book somewhere but I told him he'd be fine to stay at our place," she finished straightforwardly, unwittingly forcing their travel arrangements upon her mother.

Her mother gave an awkward hum and pursed her lips (although Payson couldn't tell this via the telephone). "Payson, we don't have a guest room," Kim reminded her. "Where's he going to sleep?"

"I figured he'd just stay in my room," Payson shrugged. Sasha was their guest, after all, and so it was only right that he take her bed and that she slept on the couch or bunked in with Becca. It had been so long since she and Becca had shared a room and it would be a nice opportunity to catch up on everything that had been going on while she was at college.

"Payson, is it . . . are you and Sasha . . ." Kim began, attempting several sentences but seeming reluctant to finish any of them.

Payson frowned at her mother's strange behaviour. The way she was going on, you'd think she didn't want Sasha to come. "You're alright with this, right?" she checked, realizing it might have been wrong for her to simply assume that her mother would be happy to see their extra guest. "You're not - "

"Of course I am, sweetheart," Kim assured quickly, her voice still strained. "I just . . . I was thinking about having your grandfather and his," she swallowed her disdain, "girlfriend over for Thanksgiving. I just . . . want you and Sasha to be prepared for that in case those are the plans.

"Are you and Sasha okay with that?" she asked seriously.

Payson shrugged. "That sounds fine," she brushed off easily. "We can use Sasha as a distraction when Pop gets all disapproving or Maxine does something inappropriate."

"So you're really . . . this is it then?" Kim asked haltingly.

"Mom, are you sure you're okay? It's not too late to back out, you know? Sasha will understand."

Payson heard a quick gasp from her mother before another assurance that she was "perfectly fine."

"I just want you to be happy, sweetheart," Kim said.

"I am happy, Mom," Payson assured her, although she wasn't sure why the assurance was necessary. "I'll see you in a few weeks and I'll let you know our flight information once Sasha sorts it. Bye now, Mom."

"Bye, Payson."

Kim Keeler frowned as she hung up the phone, still recovering from a trying but not unexpected phone call from her eldest daughter. She'd seen this moment coming for a while now – ever since Sasha moved to Seattle at the start of the semester – but she hadn't expected Payson to be quite so forthright about it, simply implying the fact that they were now an item and expecting people to accept it.

Not that Kim hadn't come to accept it . . . mostly. She knew nothing had happened until after they stopped being coach and athlete, but there was still something a little improper about the relationship that was sometimes a little hard to get past. Especially when Payson's easy assumption that they'd be sharing a room here in Boulder (something Kim wasn't entirely sure she'd be okay with even if her daughter's boyfriend wasn't her former coach and more than a decade older than her) implied that they were sleeping together, and maybe even living together given how hard she often found it to reach Payson at her dorm. These were difficult things to come to terms with, even if she did – for the most part – support Payson's relationship with Sasha.

"Honey, what's wrong?" Mark asked, looking concerned as the colour washed from her cheeks.

Kim took a breath, easing the jittery feeling in her limbs that had pervaded. "Payson just told me," she said, giving him a serious look that conveyed exactly what had been said.

"Wow," Mark awed after a moment of looking as stunned as she had earlier. "So it's official?"

"As official as it gets," she replied, nodding her head. "He's coming here for Thanksgiving. And they're sharing a room," she added reluctantly.

Mark scoffed in disdain. "Not in my house," he intoned seriously, his protective father instincts flaring up.

"I don't like this," he admitted with a rueful look. "And it's not because of the age gap or the fact that Sasha used to be her coach.

"I don't like that Payson kept this from us. That they've been carrying on behind our backs for who knows how long," he said ruefully. "That's not the way I raised my daughter."

Kim's expression dulled to match his as she tried to find a way to appease him. If it were just the age and their former coach-athlete relationship that were a problem, she would have easily found a way to brush that aside. She would simply remind Mark of what a good man Sasha was and that the only thing that mattered was Payson's happiness. Mark had instead raised the very real concerns she shared over the degree of secrecy that seemed to surround the relationship.

Payson had never outright told them about her relationship with Sasha, although she wasn't exactly hiding it of late. They'd worked it out, of course, once Sasha took a job at University of Washington and Payson started making regular references to the time she was spending with Sasha and not just vague allusions to people and places. It just would have been nice for Payson to sit them down and tell them upfront that she was seeing someone instead of going about it in this half-covert manner.

"Maybe they had their reasons," she offered weakly, not convinced that those reasons were any good. "You know what Payson's like," she added a bit more strongly. "She'll keep things to herself until she's sure about the outcome.

"Maybe they wanted to see if it could work before they got everybody all up in arms about a relationship that might not last," she said, coming up with the only thing she had to explain Payson's behaviour.

"We can talk to her about it when she gets here," she concluded.

"To both of them," Mark corrected, not letting Sasha out of this. Despite some acceptance of the relationship, he wasn't going to let Sasha escape without some strong words on what would happen if the man ever harmed his daughter.

"At least some good came out of it," Kim pressed, always able to find the silver lining no matter how dark the rain cloud. "At least we won't have to invite my dad and Maxine to dinner this year."

Mark managed a small smile at that one saving grace. "Well that's something."

~ to be continued ~

Well, hope you liked it. I've got the next couple of chapters pre-written, so hopefully I'll be able to update early next week (provided that I've made some progress on the later chapters).

Let me know what you think.