Chapter 1: Checking out the scene
Greg was sitting in his lawn chair outside of the carwash that he owned and worked at. He sat in the sun in his cut off jean shorts and his signature white tank top. He had a refreshing cold cola soda in his hands and enjoyed the hot summer air as he sat there until it was time to close the building.
He knew he probably wouldn't get any customers today, but hey he had to stay positive. So he sat there enjoying the nice weather while he sipped his drink every here and there.
Greg was kind of surprised when a truck pulled into the car wash parking lot. At first he assumed that it was a tourist lost and about to ask for directions to a different place. The truck pulled to a stop and the engine was cut off.
The door of the truck opened and a tall muscular burly man with red hair pulled back into a man bun with a red matching short mustache and beard much like Greg’s. He looked to be in his mid to late thirties, maybe even early forties. He wore dark blue denim jeans, a green plaid long sleeved shirt with the sleeves pulled up to his elbows revealing tattoo inked arms, and a white t shirt underneath his green plaid shirt. The man wore big black workers boots.
He walked towards Greg, as he got closer, Greg could see that he had piercing emerald eyes and a small scar underneath his left eye. He had an eyebrow piercing and slight freckles on his cheeks and nose. The man approached Greg with a polite, yet nervous and goofy smile.
“Hello sir, how may I help you today?” Greg asked politely as he stood from his seat.
“Are you perhaps still open or have you closed up for the day?” the man asked.
Greg had to admit the man seemed a tad bit intimidating when he first stepped out of his big silver truck but now that he was right in front of Greg, the man gave off a vibe he got from his son, Steven.
“Yes, I’m still open. Would you like a wash?” Greg asked.
The man nodded.
“Would you like the regular wash, the super wash, or the extreme wash?” Greg asked.
“Just a regular wash please, if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind at all” Greg said a bit too fast.
Greg felt his cheeks burn slightly in embarrassment.
The guy smiled goofily at Greg.
Greg immediately grabbed a bucket, filled it with water and soap, and a sponge. He rushed over to the burly man’s truck and quickly got to work, but made sure not to damage the truck in any way.
“So what’s your name? I’ve never seen you around before,” Greg asked as he soaped up the truck.
The man leaned into the truck’s drivers seat door, crossing his legs.
“Names Cliff Hernandez. I’m moving here soon, so I decided I would check out the place before I made my final decision. What’s your name?”
“Greg. Greg Universe. It’s nice to meet you Cliff.”
Cliff smiled at Greg in a warm and welcoming way that made Greg blush again. He began scrubbing frantically trying to calm his heartbeat.
“So do you live here in Beach City?” Cliff asked.
“Yeah” Greg said with a smile back.
“How is it? Do you like living here?” Cliff asked.
“Oh yeah. I love Beach City. I’ve been here ever since my first time visiting this place fourteen years ago. I found it to be a nice peaceful place with not too many people. Everyone here is pretty friendly.”
“What about it made you want to stay in general?” Cliff asked.
Greg’s first thought was Rose but he pushed that thought away and decided to mention all the other reasons besides Rose that made him wanna stay.
“At first it was little things like the scenery, the peacefulness, the friendly neighbors, the beach, the beach life in general. But now it’s a little different. My main reason is my son.”
“How old is your kid?” Cliff asked, watching as Greg continued to clean his truck.
“He just turned fourteen about two weeks ago today,” Greg said smiling.
Cliff noticed this and smiled at Greg.
“That’s nice Mr. Universe. I’ve always wanted a son, but I would probably have to adopt” Cliff said, looking down slightly embarrassed.
“Greg” Greg said.
“Huh?” Cliff asked.
“Call me Greg, Mr. Universe is my old stage name and it kind of makes me feel old rather than when I was young and going by that name.”
Cliff broke into a goofy smile.
“Stage name? Were you a rockstar?” Cliff asked wagging his eyebrows.
Greg blushed for the third time since the man arrived, man something was off about him today. why was he getting so flustered by this attractive man?
‘Wait, did I just think he was attractive?’ Greg thought to himself.
“Wow, a real rockstar” Cliff muttered looking awestruck.
“So umm, why can’t you have any kids of your own?” Greg asked as he continued to circle the truck, cleaning it to the best of his abilities.
“Oh um, yeah. I don’t swing that way if you know what I mean,” Cliff said with a nervous chuckle, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Hey that’s totally fine, nothing wrong with that” Greg said encouragingly.
There was a brief silence between them while Greg grabbed the hose and sprayed the soap down the truck’s body, creating large puddles underneath it.
Once Greg was done, he smiled at his work. Cliff had to admit he hadn’t thought he saw the outside if his car this clean since he bought it.
Both men turned to each other and Cliff opened his mouth to say something when suddenly there was a yell somewhere in the distance, not too far but not all that close either, but still loud enough to break both men’s attention away from each other and down the street.
“Dad!” Steven yelled waving his arm around as he got closer.
Cliff noticed that Greg’s smile seemed to have softened at the sight of this very short, small, young looking boy.
‘Wait did this boy just call Greg, dad? I thought Greg said his kid was fourteen? This kid doesn’t look an age over eight years old!’ Cliff thought to himself.
“Steven, what’s up buddy? I wasn’t expecting you for another couple of hours” Greg said when Steven was close enough.
“I couldnt wait any longer. I’m just so excited for our sleepover tonight.”
Steven noticed the stranger that was near Greg and Steven smiled toothily up at the big guy.
Steven cocked his head to the side and held out his hand to wave at the man.
Cliff smiled down at Steven.
“Why hello, you must be Steven. You look a lot like your father,” Cliff said, examining the similarities between the two.
“What’s your name?” Steven asked.
“Names Cliff, it was nice to meet you.”
Steven got stars in his eyes.
“Woah! That’s a super cool name!” Steven gushed.
Cliff laughed and Greg blushed slightly.
“So eh, I’m done washing your truck, Cliff.”
Cliff smiled over at Greg, reached in his back pocket and pulled out his wallet.
Greg was about to say his price when suddenly Cliff handed him a decent stack of bills.
“Wait, this looks like a lot” Greg started but Cliff held up a hand to stop Greg.
“Think of it as a token of appreciation. Thanks Greg. I’ll see you around sometime.”
With that Cliff got into his truck and was soon driving off down the road.
“That Cliff guy was really cool,” Steven said.
“Yeah, he was” Greg said with a slight blush covering his cheeks as he stared in the direction Cliff left in.
Chapter 2: Moving in
Cliff decides to make his decision on moving to Beach City finale, unable to get Greg off of his mind. Later though he bumps into Greg's kid, Steven. They have a nice talk and Cliff see's Greg again. He knows he made the right choice.
Cliff carried the last two boxes out of the moving truck and in through the door of his new house, located in Beach City. He placed the boxes down and looked around the place, it was a decent sized place.
Cliff’s german shepherd dog ran to him as he placed the boxes down in the living room.
“Hey Bingo,” Cliff greeted his dog companion.
Bingo barked happily, licking Cliff’s hand.
Cliff rolled up his sleeves and got to work unpacking some of the boxes, putting things away while Bingo chased him around the house happily.
Cliff had emptied and put away half of his belongings when his stomach growled hungrily.
“Hmmm, might as well take a break and check out the food joints around here and get something to eat. I’m starving,” Cliff said wiping the sweat off his brow.
Bingo barked in confirmation.
“Okay, let’s go for a walk,” Cliff said kneeling on the ground with Bingo’s leash.
Bingo bounced happily while Cliff attached the leash to Bingo’s collar.
Cliff lead Bingo out of the new house, shutting and locking the door behind him on his way out.
Cliff walked down the street on the sidewalk, Bingo happily strutted in front of Cliff. He didn’t have to walk very long before he found himself in front of a pizza shop. Right next to the pizza shop was a fry shop and an ice cream shop.
Cliff decided which he’d rather eat, fries or pizza. He chuckled as he made his way to the fry place. It was hard not to go with the fries, one of his favorite foods.
He walked over and peered in the open window. There was a man with long blond hair, most likely being held up with gel.
“Hello, what would you like to order?” the man behind the counter asked.
Cliff eyed the menu hanging above and decided on a medium fry.
“Medium fries, please.”
“That will be seven minutes, I hope that’s okay.”
“Yeah totally, take your time,” Cliff said with a friendly smile.
The man behind the counter smiled before turning around and starting on Cliff’s order of fries.
Cliff stood patiently on the side while Bingo sat by his side.
Cliff enjoyed the small breeze and warm summer air.
That was until Bingo sat up a bit straighter, sniffed the air, his ears perking up before bolting away so fast that the lack hold he had on the leash released.
“Bingo!” Cliff yelped and ran after his dog.
Bingo didn’t go far but he jumped on someone, making them fall down right on their butt. Bingo licked the face of the person that he took down.
Cliff caught up to them and grabbed the leash pulling him off from the person they had taken down.
“I’m so sorry -” Cliff started, but then noticed who was on the ground, it was Greg’s kid, Steven.
“Oh gosh, Steven!” Cliff yelped in shock.
“I’m so sorry, I don’t know what’s gotten into Bingo, he doesn’t normally do this” Cliff apologized as he tried to Bingo from jumping on Steven again, while holding a hand out to Steven, to help him up.
“Cliff!?” Steven asked with a big smile as he accepted the big hand up.
“Steven h-how have you been?” Cliff asked.
“Good, how about you?” Steven asked.
“Good good, and what about your father?” Cliff asked, trying to make himself sound not so desperate.
“He’s doing good too,” Steven said with a wide happy smile that made his eyes crinkle the way that Greg’s did.
Bingo yelped as he tried to get to Steven again.
Steven giggled and held a hand out to Bingo who greedily licked the boys hand.
“Bingo must really like you, he seriously has never acted like this to another person he didn’t know,” Cliff said with a nervous chuckle.
“Yeah, I seem to have that effect on lots of animals,” Steven said as he patted Bingo.
“Hey sir! Your order is done,” the fry guy called out behind his cupped hands.
“Oh, that’s me” Cliff said as he gently tugged at Bingo, and walked towards the counter.
Steven followed, stood next to Cliff and peered through the window. The fry guy handed Cliff’s order to him and then noticed Steven standing there.
“Hey there Steven, I’m guessing you want the usual?” the fry man asked.
Steven nodded his head eagerly.
“Yes please, Mr. Fryman” Steven piped up happily. Cliff grabbed his wallet from his back pocket and fished out the amount of bills his food came to.
“You a regular here?” Cliff asked as he grabbed a few bills, tucking his wallet back into his back pocket.
“Yeah” Steven said with a grin.
Mr. Fryman handed Steven a small bag and then looked at Cliff.
“That will be $2.85” Mr. Fryman said.
Cliff handed him a five dollar bill.
“Keep the change,” Cliff said with a smile.
“Thank you, have a nice day” Mr. Fryman said.
“You too” Cliff called out as he began to walk towards a bench to sit down and eat some of his fries.
Steven followed Cliff with his bag of fry bits, clutched in his hands.
Cliff sat down, Bingo circled around and laid down on the warm ground.
Steven sat on the bench beside Cliff and munched on his fry bits.
“I haven’t seen you in a little while” Steven said, making conversation.
“Oh yeah, I was just checking out Beach City then, but I just moved in Beach City, earlier today.”
“Really?” Steven asked, getting stars in his eyes.
Cliff chuckled at how Steven’s eyes seemed to glitter and shine.
“You’re going to love it here!” Steven gushed.
Cliff smiled and looked around him at the calming waves crashing onto the shore, the few people walking about, the gulls in the air screeching and flying around.
“Yeah, I think I will too” Cliff said, his mind immediately wondering to Greg.
After about twenty minutes of Cliff and Steven chatting, Steven checked his phone and realized the time.
“Oh man! I forgot I was supposed to pick up my ukelele from my dad’s before I went home,” Steven said getting up and throwing his empty fry back away in the nearby trash container.
“You don’t live with your dad?” Cliff asked curiously as he too threw away his garbage.
“No, I used to. He lives in his van at the carwash, I live on the beach with my mom’s friends from back before I was born.” Steven explained.
“So you live with your mother and her friends?” Cliff asked.
“No just my moms friends, my mom, she ah. She’s not around. She-” Steven stopped not knowing how to explain what happened to his mother.
“Oh Steven, I’m so sorry” Cliff said, kind of understanding what the boy was trying to get at.
“It’s fine, her friends are really nice,” Steven said as the two of them and Bingo started walking towards the carwash.
“So why don’t you live with your father?” Cliff asked.
“Well his van isn’t really big enough for the both of us,” Steven said.
“Wait, so he really lives in his van?” Cliff asked, feeling bad for the man who seems to have stolen his heart at first meeting.
“Yeah,” Steven said as they crossed the street.
“Hmmmm” Cliff hummed, daydreaming about if him and Greg started dating maybe, just maybe, Greg could move in with him, maybe even Steven too. And they could be a family. He knew he was getting ahead of himself but he really did like Greg. Plus he always loved and wanted kids of his own. He knew he was getting way ahead of himself, wishful thinking and all. But hey, a man can dream.
Steven, Cliff, and Bingo neared the carwash, and Cliff felt his heart swosh,soar, and flutter in his chest when he saw Greg sitting in his folding chair right beside his van, just like the first night that he had met Greg.
Greg looked over and smiled at them as they got closer.
Greg stood with a big smile.
“Hey Steven, Cliff. You’re back in Beach City,” Greg said.
“Dad, Cliff moved into Beach City today!” Steven said happily as he ran to his father’s side giving him a hug.
Greg hugged Steven back, then stood up smiling at Cliff, the kind of smile that Steven had made earlier that day, the way his eyes crinkled.
“So you moved in today, huh?” Greg asked, crossing his arms.
“Yeah, and let me tell you, it was a good idea. I’m glad I made the choice to move here. I think I’m going to really like it here.”
Bingo yipped when Steven walked back over to the two men, carrying his small ukulele.
Steven giggled as he patted Bingo.
“What’s your dog's name?” Greg asked as he looked down at his son patting the dog.
“His name is bingo,” Cliff said as he ruffled the dogs ears playfully.
“And Bingo seems to really like Steven, too” Cliff said as Bingo licked at Steven’s face.
“I see that. That’s a Steven thing, all animals love him,” Greg said, saying something similar to what Steven had said earlier.
Cliff chuckled, they really were alike, Steven and Greg.
“I gotta head back home before Pearl calls a search party to look for me,” Steven said hugging his father’s legs.
Greg patted Steven’s curly hair.
“You’re right, she probably would too. Night kiddo.”
“Bye Bingo” Steven said patting the dogs head.
Steven looked up at Cliff before hugging Cliff’s leg, surprising Cliff.
“Bye Cliff, bye dad” Steven said as he started walking away with a big smile and a wave.
“Sorry about that, he’s a touchy kid. Likes to show his affection to people he likes,” Greg apologized, noticing the slightly shocked look on Cliff’s face.
Cliff shook his head.
“No no no, it’s totally fine. Just caught me off guard is all. He’s a good kid,” Cliff stated with a smirk.
“He seems to like you” Greg stated as he watched Steven walk down the street.
“That’s good, because I was going to invite you and Steven over Tuesday, you know if you want to, that is,” Cliff said nervously.
“That’s the day after tomorrow, right?” Greg asked, perking up a bit.
“Yupp, you two in for dinner at my place then?” Cliff asked.
“Yes, that sounds nice.” Greg said.
“That’s great, I can’t wait. Do you have a phone? Maybe we can exchange numbers. I can text you the address and time.”
“Oh yeah! Yeah.” Greg said pulling out his cell phone from his shorts pocket.
The two of them exchanged numbers and eventually Cliff had to get heading home so that he could finish unpacking and feed Bingo.
Cliff was on a happy cloud on his walk back home, he had some work to do before Tuesday rolled around.
Chapter 3: Getting the house ready
Cliff woke up the next morning, ready and determined to work all day long, so that his place looked nice for his company which would be coming by tomorrow. Greg and Steven.
Cliff smiled goofily to himself. He couldn’t believe his luck yesterday bumping into two two again. Now they were going to be having dinner tomorrow too. He was so excited.
So Cliff started unpacking all the boxes from the living room first. He stacked all the books he had on the bookcase, then stacked all the movies on the movie shelf. He made sure to center the television set on the entertainment center, followed by centering the couch to the television.
He set out a rug beside the front door. Once that was done he hung up a few paintings and pictures. Then he set up his computer in the corner along with a dog bed next to the computer. A few stray dog toys were left on the ground.
Next we went to work on his kitchen, unpacking all the bowls, plates, cups, pots, pans, and silverware. He put them all away neatly in the correct places. Once that was done, Cliff wiped the sweat on his brow. He took out a few knick knacks and filled the salt and pepper shakers.
Once the kitchen was set up, Cliff took a break to play with Bingo with his tug of war toy. Cliff pulled one end while Bingo bit and yanked the other side. Cliff let Bingo win this round.
With that Cliff filled Bingo’s food dish and water dish so that he could drink water and eat dry dog food while he continued to put the rest of his house together.
The next room he worked on was the bathroom. He unpacked his candle holders and grabbed a few cubes of wax and put them in the wax melter and turned it on. Soon enough the smell of lavender was flowing freely through the house. He got out his matching bathroom set and started making his bathroom look nice. Next came all his towels which he had to fold and put away.
Cliff then set up his grand piano and lined up his guitars in the room he now called the music room. He placed a small bookshelf in there to hold all of his music book and all the notes he has written for his own music that he’s made.
He should probably make a run to the store and get some things he needed.
So Cliff started writing a list of things he needed as he put the finishing touches on his house. Once he was done with the house he went over his grocery list.
He needed fabric sheets, laundry soap, dish soap, sponges, milk, butter, bread, peanut butter, strawberry jam, grape jelly, pineapples, ground beef, cheese, frozen french fries, juice, toilet paper, another bag of dog food, and some coffee creamer.
Once he looked over the list a few more times to make sure he wasn’t forgetting anything, he shoved the list in his pocket.
Cliff put on his work boots and decided against a sweater since it was still so cool outside.
Bingo barked at him when he noticed that Cliff was getting dressed to leave the house.
“I’m sorry Bingo, but I can’t bring you to the store with me buddy. You’re gonna have to stay here, sorry pal,” Cliff explained to his dog whom then started making whining noises.
“Be good while daddy’s at the store,” Cliff said before giving Bingo a smooch on the head, and leaving the building, locking the door behind him.
He got in his truck and headed for the store to buy all the things on his list. It took him about an hour and a half before he was pulling back into his driveway.
He hooked all the bags around his wrists, he was a one man trip. He carried all the bags with the bag of dog food slung over his shoulder. Bingo was laying in his bed in the living room, his ears perking up when the door was unlocked from the other side.
Bingo was up within seconds of Cliff entering the house, making Cliff chuckle a hearty laugh. He put everything away in the places they had to be in before he played with Bingo some more.
Soon he started making some nachos for dinner, followed by washing those dirty dishes, and a shower. Once showered Cliff and Bingo were laid out on Cliff’s bed.
“I can’t wait for tomorrow Bingo,” Cliff said as he thought about Greg and his son Steven coming over for dinner.
“I’ll make them a delicious dinner. Maybe I’ll even ask him out on a date before he leaves,” Cliff considered, not holding back the smile that melted on his face when he thought about Greg.
“”Yupp, tomorrow’s going to be awesome,” Cliff said shutting his eyes.
Bingo made a noise and turned over in his sleep.
Soon enough, Cliff too was in dreamland.
Chapter 4: Going to Cliff's house
Greg woke up at the same time he always did, but instead of feeling like he normally does, he felt like a nervous wreck. His stomach was in knots, twisting in his gut as the day continued on.
He had to make a pit stop at his storage unit to find a nice outfit to wear, nothing fancy, but nothing to plain either. He really liked Cliff and even though him and Steven were only eating dinner over there, he felt like it had to be or was going to be special in some way.
Greg gulped as he turned onto the sandy beach to pick Steven up. As soon as he parked in front of the beach house he whipped his cell phone out and brought up Cliff’s contact info and started a text.
I’m picking up Steven now, then we will be heading out shortly. What is the address? -Greg.
Once the text was sent, Greg got out of his van and slowly walked up the steps to Steven’s.
He didn’t know why he was acting this way, it was just dinner with a very goofy yet handsome man who he had dreamed of ever since he had met that night. He breathed in deeply, then out.
Love should have been a drug, because he felt intoxicated. Why was he so nervous, he had been on a handful of dates before without ever being this nervous, not even when he was dating Rose. And this wasn’t even technically a date!
Greg walked into the beach house, he stopped knocking a while ago when the gems gave him permission to come or leave whenever he wanted, Steven was his son afterall. He should have more of a roll in Steven’s life.
A buzz from his pocket alerted Greg of a text message. He whipped his phone out and peered at the screen. He had received a message from Cliff.
Alright :) My address is 288 Summer ave. I hope you and Steven are hungry, I’ve made a lot. Can’t wait till you two get here :p -Cliff
Greg’s heart thumped loudly in his chest, his mouth suddenly dry.
“Steven!” Greg called out.
“Wait a second!” Steven called back.
Greg coughed nervously before he grabbed a cup and filled it up with tap, then chugging the water.
“Ready to go, dad?” Steven asked emerging from his loft bedroom.
“Yeah kiddo, I’m ready to go,” Greg said with a determined smile.
Both Universe’s walked outside and got into Greg’s van.
Once they were buckled Greg pulled out, sand kicking up behind his tires as he drove in the sand. Once they turned onto the tarred road, the ride was much smoother.
“How come you look nervous?” Steven asked, eyeing his father from the passenger's seat.
Greg chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck with one hand while the other controlled the steering wheel.
“You like Cliff right?” Greg asked.
“Yeah, he’s awesome and his dog is awesome!’ Steven said with a carefree smile.
“Do you like Cliff?” Steven asked, redirecting Greg’s question right back at himself.
“Yeah, I do kiddo,” Greg said, meaning more behind what he said than he let on.
He wasn’t ready just yet to tell Steven how he truly felt about Cliff.
“Then I’m sure everything will be fine. You don’t need to be nervous dad. It’s like having dinner with Connie and her parents. Remember?” Steven asked.
“Yeah I remember. You’re right. It’s just dinner,” Greg said as he pulled onto Cliff’s street.
Greg looked at the houses, searching for Cliff’s number. Once he spotted it, he breathed in deeply and then exhaled calmly before pulling onto the side of the road, parking.
“Okay, we’re here. Just be on your best behavior Steven,” Greg told his son.
“You got it,” Steven said with a wink and a thumbs up.
Greg smiled and patted Steven’s head affectionately.
Both Greg and Steven got out of the van and walked up to Cliff’s front door.
“Ohhh, can I knock dad?” Steven asked excitedly.
“Go for it Schtu-ball.”
Steven grinned happily as he knocked on the door and then took a step back.
Chapter 5: Dinner
Cliff heard a knock at his front door and grinned down at Bingo.
“Our company is here,” he all about squealed.
Bingo barked and stood up from his spot he had been laying in.
Cliff raked his hand through his hair and sighed happily as he removed his appron and approached the front door.
He opened the door and smiled.
“Greg, Steven. So nice to see you two made it okay. Come on in,” Cliff opened the door a bit wider and stepped out of their way so that they could enter.
“Thank you for inviting us, Cliff,” Greg said with a smile.
Cliff shut the door behind Greg.
“Welcome to my house, come to the kitchen. I’ve made french fries and burgers for dinner. They just got done, so they are still nice and steaming,” Cliff stated.
Bingo wandered out from the kitchen and trotted right to Steven, rubbing his head against Steven’s leg.
“Bingo, it’s so nice to see you too,” Steven chuckled as he pet Cliff’s dog.
Cliff smiled and they all went into the kitchen.
“Wow Cliff, this meal looks delicious,” Greg stated.
“Are you a chef?” Steven asked as he got starry eyes, admiring the food.
“I wouldn’t say chef, but I do love to cook,” Cliff said with a hint of a blush on his cheeks.
Cliff, Greg, and Steven got their food plated and on the kitchen table.
“Would either of you care for a drink? I’ve got bottled water, orange juice, apple juice, hawaiian blast juice, milk, coffee, coca cola, Pepsi, tea, and chocolate milk,” Cliff said.
“Ooo can I have some chocolate milk?” Steven asked.
“Yes you may. I’ll pour it for you, Steven” Cliff offered.
“Please, and thank you Cliff,” Steven said.
“I’ll just have a bottled water,” Greg said standing up to get his water from the fridge.
Once Cliff gave Steven his chocolate milk, he poured himself some Pepsi soda and then they were all three sitting at the table.
“So how did it come out?” Cliff asked nervously as he watched his guests take bites of their burgers.
“It’s very good Cliff” Greg complimented.
“Ohh yummy” Steven chimed in, stars forming in his eyes once again.
“Glad you like it” Cliff commented as he took his own bite of his burger.
Bingo laid on the kitchen floor again, watching as the three of them happily ate. Bingo knew better than to beg when he had his own food set out in a bowl.
Cliff, Steven, and Greg chatted and made small talk while they ate.
After eating the meal Greg and Cliff sat on the couch together and chatted some more about themselves while Steven ran around, playing with Bingo.
Steven came out from nowhere looking excited and shocked.
“Cliff, you have a whole music room!?” Steven asked, hands on his face.
“Haha yeah. You into music Steven?” Cliff asked.
“Yeah. I take after my dad when it comes to music. Dad used to be a rockstar who sang and played the guitar. He still does even though he’s retired. I can play the ukulele, guitar, piano, and sing,” Steven explained.
“Woah, so you both are musicians then?” Cliff asked.
“Yeah, maybe we can jam out together some time” Greg said.
“Would you mind playing something on the guitar right now?” Cliff asked.
“Oh sure,” Greg said.
All three of them went into the music room. Greg picked a guitar out and tuned the strings before plucking a few to begin with. Soon enough he was lighting humming a tone to a full blown on guitar song he had known how to play for a while now.
Steven sat on the piano chair and then started pressing the keys, beginning to play something that went very well with what Greg was playing on the guitar. Together they played the instruments, sounding in complete harmony.
Cliff was blown away by how nice the piano Steven was playing and the guitar that Greg was playing merged and intermingled together to form an amazing harmony. He almost didn’t want it to end, but eventually they both stopped.
Cliff started clapping, “that was great!” Cliff cheered.
Greg blushed, the only person who ever complimented him on his music these days was his son. It felt nice to be cheered on by his new friend, Cliff.
After another couple of hours Steven slowly walked out to the van while Greg and Cliff were on the porch saying their goodbyes.
Greg mentally prepared himself to ask Cliff to hang out again soon, when Cliff beat him to it.
“I know we just recently met Greg, but I feel like we really clicked tonight. I don’t want to scare you away or anything, but maybe we can go on a date sometime soon?” Cliff asked hopefully.
Greg smiled brightly.
“Yes! Of course. I was actually just about to ask you the same thing. I really had fun tonight.”
Cliff smiled genuinely.
“It was really nice seeing you again Greg.”
“You too Cliff. I had a good time, and I know Steven enjoyed his time here tonight too. So thanks for inviting us over.”
Cliff smiled again.
Greg wanted so badly to pull Cliff into a hug, or even a kiss. But he wanted until they had at least a date or two before he stole a kiss from Cliff.
“Bye, drive home safe,” Cliff said, leaning in the doorway.
“Thank you, and bye Cliff,” Greg said before turning and making his way back to his van.
Cliff watched as Greg drove off in his van before he retreated back into his house.
“I feel like I’m on cloud nine. Is this what love feels like?” Cliff asked Bingo as soon as he sat down on the couch.
Bingo only stared at Cliff and with a huff, moved closer to be pet.
Chapter 6: Chatting
Cliff walked Bingo around town the next day. He stopped in at the car wash and said hi to Greg. Greg was sitting in a folding chair plucking his guitar strings, eyes closed, and enjoying the slight breeze.
Cliff had to restrain himself from kissing those happy lips as he approached closer and closer until he was right in front of him. Bingo let off a bark, startling Greg.
“Ahhh!” Greg yelped, clutching his guitar to his chest, eyes wide.
“Hahaha” Cliff chuckled.
“Sorry about Bingo, Greg,” Cliff apologized.
Greg calmed down as soon as he realized who it was who had startled him.
“Hey Cliff, hey Bingo” Greg greeted the two with a small smile.
“What are you up to?” Cliff asked Greg as he tucked some of his red hair behind his ear, opting to not tie his hair into a ponytail or man bun for the day.
“Just waiting for any customers to show up. Just trying to write a new song while I wait,” Greg explained with a slight blush.
“What about you, what are you up to?” Greg asked as he placed his guitar in his van which was a few steps away from where he had been sitting in the chair, the backdoors open.
“Just taking Bingo on a walk, enjoying the nice day,” Cliff said with a smile.
“The weather is another reason why I love living in Beach City,” Greg stated.
“Would you like to sit down?” Greg asked as he grabbed another folding chair from the back of his van.
“Sure, if you don’t mind the company,” Cliff said.
“I don’t mind at all. It’s nice to have someone to talk to,” Greg said as he set the chair up and sat back down in his chair.
Cliff agreed with a head nod, sitting down and looping Bingo’s leash around his wrist so the dog wouldn't run, but he highly doubt that would happen since he was a pretty good dog that listened well.
Bingo laid down in front of Cliff’s chair, laying in Cliff’s loaming shadow to cool off a bit.
“So how are you liking Beach City so far?” Greg asked as he fiddled with his fingers.
“I love it so far,” Cliff said with a smile as he looked over at Greg.
“That’s good” Greg said, his heartbeat beating against his chest, licking his suddenly dry lips.
“Where’s Steven?” Cliff asked as he looked around.
“I know he doesn’t live with you but I figured he’d be hanging out with you to keep you company,” Cliff went on.
“He’s off with the gems” Greg said with a shrug.
“Gems?” Cliff questioned.
“Oh yeah, you don’t really know about the gems yet” Greg said as he rubbed the back of his neck.
“Well it might be a bit hard to believe but they are aliens. Aliens that are rock people? And they protect the earth from corrupted gems, which are basically monsters that attack Beach City frequently” Greg stated lamely, not very sure how to describe the gems.
“Woah, sounds like it’s right out of a sci-fi book,” Cliff stated.
Cliff had seen a lot of news about weird things attacking Beach City and other abnormal things happening here. He probably would not have believed it if he had never seen any of those news stories, but he had read quite a bit about this place before he came to check it out for moving here.
“Steven is a crystal gem too. Being a crystal gem basically means being born with a rock on your body, and fighting for the earth to live and stuff” Greg said interrupting Cliff’s train of thought.
“So Steven was born with a rock on his body?” Cliff asked curiously.
“Yeah, he got it from his late mother. She ah passed her stone down onto him before she uh vanished from the face of the earth,” Greg continued nervously, not wanting to sound crazy to the one person he had fallen for since Rose was around.
Greg didn’t want to ruin what he had but if he ever was going to have a chance with this guy, he knew he would have to tell Cliff a bit about Steven’s side of his family. He didn't want to keep secrets like Rose had done to him those many years ago.
“So is it a normal rock or is it some kind of crystal? You said something about crystal gems?” Cliff asked, hoping he wasn’t asking Greg too much personal things, he just wanted to get to know Greg’s family a bit, to understand the guy that he was crushing on more.
“They all have some kind of crystals. Steven has a...a rose quartz gem. His guardians whom he lived with are Pearl, Amethyst, and Garnet. Pearl has a pearl gem. Amethyst has an amethyst gem. And Garnet has both a sapphire gem and a ruby gem.”
“Hmmm” Cliff hummed. Interesting.
Cliff was about to open his mouth and say something when a huge loud howl could be heard echoing in the distance.
“What was that?” Cliff asked, looking around with wide eyes.
“That would be the crystal gems fighting a monster,” Greg said with a nervous chuckle, looking towards the beach to see if he could spot any of them. He always worried when Steven was in field. He didn’t want his one and only son to get hurt.
“Are you okay Greg?” Cliff asked as he noticed the worried look on Greg’s face.
Greg swatted at the air and chuckled.
“Yeah yeah, im fine. I just...I worry about Steven sometimes. It’s fine though. He’s a strong kid. It’s just even though he’s strong, there’s a chance he could get hurt too, and I worry about that a lot” Greg explained trying to push his feelings aside.
Cliff wanted to give Greg a hug and tell him that it sounded perfectly okay to worry about his kid, every parent worries about their children and how they will grow up. He bet Greg had to worry about his son and his son's safety more than other parents.
Chapter 7: Gems
The howls in the distance didn’t stop for another ten minutes. In the distance, though, you could make out a decent sized sand explosion all the way from Greg’s car wash.
Greg watched with bated eyes as he and Cliff continued to talk, stopping every once and a while when there was a particular loud howl.
Once the sand settled, Greg’s nerves calmed down, no more howls could be heard, so Greg could only think that hopefully the crystal gems had taken care of the monster and that everything was okay.
After another twenty minutes of Cliff and Greg hanging out and idly chatting, they had heard Steven as he jumped high in the air, and made a slow descendant back to earth ground, using his floating powers.
Cliff watched in amazement while Greg watched with a proud smile.
Steven landed on the pavement in front of them both, a large smile on his face, although he did look slightly exhausted, most likely from the fighting that had just taken place not that long ago on the beach.
“Hey dad, hey Cliff, hey Bingo” Steven said with a wave to them all.
“How was fighting today?” Greg asked Steven.
“Tiring” Steven said as he rubbed the back of his neck.
Greg noticed a bad scrape on Steven’s arm and he gasped.
“Son, your arm!” Greg yelped, grabbing Steven’s wrist and pulling him closer to look at the damage.
“It’s all fine, I’ll heal it,” Steven said as he licked his hand and placed it on the injury.
Cliff could not believe his eyes that within seconds of applying his spit to his wound, it healed itself, like he was never hurt in first place, leaving sparkles to dust down from where he had just healed himself.
“Incredible” Cliff said as he watched on.
“Oh thanks, sorry about all the noise by the way. That monster was a tough one” Steven said with a nervous giggle.
“It’s fine schtu-ball, I’m just glad you’re all better now,” Greg said as he placed a hand on Steven's mop of curly dark hair.
Greg ruffled Steven’s hair, making Steven laugh, leaning into his father.
Cliff watched the two bond and wished he had a kid of his own.
“Greg!” a voice called out interrupting them all.
Cliff, Greg, and Steven all looked up to see Pearl strolling in the parking lot with her hand raised to get his attention.
“Oh hey Pearl,” Greg greeted.
“Oh you have a human friend over,” Pearl said, taking notice of Cliff sitting beside Greg.
“Oh yeah, uh Pearl meet Cliff. Cliff meet Pearl” Greg said.
Cliff smiled brightly at Pearl.
“Hello Pearl,” Cliff greeted.
“Hello, Cliff, was it?” Pearl said back.
“Haha yes,” Cliff said.
“Anyways. I came by to ask for some money. I’m heading to the store to pick up some groceries for Steven,” Pearl said.
“He’s running pretty low, and I asked him a couple of days ago to ask you for the money, but he never did,” Pearl went on.
Greg cast a look at Steven who shrugged with a nervous chuckle.
“Whoops, I guess I forgot,” Steven said.
“So may I have some for the groceries?” Pearl asked Greg, crossing her arms.
Cliff stared up at Pearl’s gem, it was on her forehead, and then he looked over at Steven but didn’t see his gem visible.
“Yeah sure,” Greg said, getting up from his chair and walking over to the van with Pearl on his heels.
Steven sat down on the tar and petted Bingo who greedily sucked up all the attention he was receiving from Steven.
Cliff watched from the corner of his eyes, Greg handed Pearl some money and she held it up in the air, her gem glowing brightly, then the money moved from her hand and went inside her gem.
“Thank you Greg, this is much appreciated,” Pearl thanked Greg before she got in position and then with a mighty jump she was gone from view.
“Woah,” Cliff said, watching in awe.
Then Cliff remembered about Steven’s gem.
“Say, Steven. Where is your gem?” Cliff asked curiously.
“Right here” Steven said as he tugged the hem of his shirt up slightly, revealing a big round rose quartz gem on his stomach, right where his belly button should have been.
“That’s a beautiful gem,” Cliff commented, making Steven blush, swatting at the air, and letting his shirt fall back down to cover his gem.
“Aww shucks, thanks Cliff.”
Greg walked back to them and sat back down in his chair with his guitar in his hands.
“Oh working on a new song, dad?” Steven asked, his eyes wide and his pupils took shapes of big stars.
“Yupp, wanna hear what I’ve got so far?” Greg asked.
“Yes please!” Steven yelped as he sat right in front of Greg.
Cliff smiled and turned towards Greg.
Greg chuckled as both of his audience members watched with big eyes.
“Okay, this is what I’ve got so far” Greg said before he started strumming a lovely tune.