20 years later
Ben and Billy were lying on the couch in the spacious living room of their house, Ben on top of his husband of 19 years and Billy having wrapped his arms around the smaller man, holding him tight. Their lips were locked for minutes and both drank in the breath of the other, moaning softly and feeling subtle arousal grow between them. John once said that it was disgusting how much in love they still were, but then grinned at his own husband who had raised a brow. It was no secret that the Silver-Flints were devoted to each other, inseparable and working like a well-piled machine in those moments when their stubbornness did not clash and make them yell at each other. It was a relationship they would have been jealous of, if their own love and marriage was not still as strong as it had been in those first weeks.
When they had told their children the story of how they met, when Percy and Emmy had been old enough, both children grinned only and told them that they were giving them a bad example. To the question why, Emmy had told them that meeting someone as perfect for them would be near impossible, and that she and her brother were destined to be alone forever.
“You’re disgusting,” a voice said from the doorway, and Ben raised his head to look over the backrest of the couch to look at his daughter, who was leaning against the wall, the arms crossed and the same smirk on his face that he often wore.
She looked so much like him that it surprised him sometimes too. The same sandy blonde hair that grew much lighter in Summer when she was spending more time outdoors, the same brilliant blue eyes and the same full lips and button nose. Even the thick black lashes were the same. Only that she had stayed smaller than him and had curves in all the right places. As a father, he should be worried about his twenty year old daughter being such a beauty, but he was proud and he trusted her judgment. And even if she made him a grandfather before he turned 50 in three years, so what? They would welcome any addition to the family no matter what, even if he hoped that Emmy would take a little more time before she brought another generation of Manderlys to this world.
“You’re just jealous,” Billy said from underneath him, without looking up, and when Ben looked at him, his husband wore a grin on his face that took years of him. Billy was still gorgeous and there was not an ounce of fat on the trainer, and there were only few wrinkles on his face. The single hairs of grey in his scalp were not even worth mentioning, and he thought that Billy was still the most gorgeous man on the world, while he sometimes felt old next to him, even if Billy would disagree.
Ben wore his hair shorter now, but often forgot to go to the hairdresser and found himself at least once a year with hair he could bind back into a ponytail like in the time when they had met each other. There was not even a hint of grey on his head, but when he let his beard grow out, there were strands of white on his chin. The corners of his eyes showed first wrinkles, but Billy was proud that Ben turned heads when he picked his daughter up at university or when they met with friends for drinks.
“Jealous of what exactly?” Emmy asked. “You’re late.”
Ben looked at his watch and cursed.
“Oh fuck, we’re really late,” he said, sitting up on his husband’s groin and making Billy moan at the sudden contact. “Get up, old man.”
“Who are you calling old man?” Billy asked, pushing Billy off him, who had to balance himself out to not fall.
“Can you two stop acting like teenagers and get going? We’re late, and Perce will never forgive us if we’re not there with him,” Emmy said, sounding a little annoyed but with a smile in her eyes.
“Coming!” Ben yelled, getting his shoes on and then running outside, followed by Billy, who took the driver’s seat, and Emmy, who got into the back without any discussion needed.
Ben looked over his shoulder, smiling at his daughter, who looked excited and bouncy.
“Do you think he will like us?”
“He better,” Billy said, while driving onto the motorway that would bring them to Heathrow.
“What if not?”
“Then we will shower him in love and affection until he has no choice,” Ben replied. “Stop worrying, Emmy. Everything will be fine.” He smiled and reached back to take her hand for a moment. “Will Johnny come too?”
She shook her head.
“Nah. He has to work today, his granddad said no excuses.”
Ben grinned, knowing that Emmy loved Teach to bits, even if neither of them would ever admit that. He still worked for the owner of the Revenge, who was as grumpy as ever and whose famous black hair and beard were not, while still as full, pure silver, but not as a bartender anymore. For a few years after their wedding, Ben had saved every penny he could to finally be able to attend culinary school. It had been tough years for him and Billy, money had been tight while he could not work full time, but Teach had surprised them all when Ben had finished school with perfect grades and had offered him a job in the new restaurant he was opening. Ben’s cooking skills and Anne, who had changed jobs with him to work as the sometimes a little grumpy hostess, had made the Colonial Dawn a success that was continuing for more than 15 years now.
After finally finding a parking spot, the three of them went into the arrivals building and found Percy standing there, looking nervous and holding something in his hands, that all three noticed with touched smiled. As soon as the tall man that Percy had become, saw his family, he smiled that smile that looked exactly like that of his father and took his little sister into his arms.
“I was scared you wouldn’t come,” he said, giving both his fathers short kisses.
He wore his hair a little longer than Billy wore it still, but he was too the spitting image of his father, towering in height and always looking a little shy, but other than Billy, he was not the softspoken gentle giant, but had a mischievous streak that had them all hold their breath throughout his teenage years. Now, at almost 25, Percy had turned into a kind man with soft eyes, who was just as stubborn as his sister and was working in one of the Vane’s gyms as a trainer while he put himself through medical school.
“Oh God, there’s my asshole of a boss,” Percy moaned, earning a whack on the back of his head when John had reached them.
“Did you just call me asshole?” He laughed while giving his friends and Emmy hugs, before they all turned to James, who was rolling his eyes at his husband.
The oldest of them, James’ hair had lost most of its red glow and had turned into a soft grey, as had his beard. He still looked not his 61 years yet, mostly due to his sparkling eyes and lopsided, boyish smile. After an accident with his bike while working out, he was leaning on a single crutch that John loved to make fun of and regularly earned a hit against his leg with it. Until his last breath, he would work the Daycare, and still loved it and the many children he had seen come and go in all those years, while John had taken a management position in one of the gyms the Vanes owned after Billy had refused to take that job, not wanting the responsibility.
“Are we late?” John asked. “The angry ginger here thought he knows a shortcut, which turned out to be a lot longer than the usual way.”
“We’re in time,” James said.
“We are in time.”
“Will you two stop with the bickering?” Emmy said. “It’s as if you were kids in the daycare instead of two grown men.”
“You know I could order you to work overtime,” James said with a wink.
“Do you really want that, Uncle James?”
“Now that I think about it. No,” he grinned and kissed Emmy on a cheek, making the young kindergarten teacher smile brightly.
“Plane has landed half an hour ago, he should be through customs any moment,” Percy said, bouncing on his feet, stretching his neck to look over the people that started to pool out of the gate.
The minutes they were waiting seemed endless. And then, Percy whispered a breathless: “There.”
He made steps through the crowd, pushing people out of his way to get where he wanted to go, and finally stood in front of a handsome man with bright blue eyes and short dark curls. He looked a lot like his adoptive father, who wore his black curls now short too without a trace of growing older, which made all of them joke about John being his biological father in reality, but Jim Flint was nothing like the cocky and cheeky man that was one of his fathers. He was the most gentle soul anyone of them had ever met, smart and observing, he never got loud and never had a temper tantrum. The more his parents had been not only surprised by shocked, when he declared he would join the Navy for a few years like James had done. It had become the one big argument in their family, resulting in all three of them not talking to each other for days, but then, when Jim had left, just eighteen for his basic training, his fathers had brought him to the train station and hugged him simultaneous as tight as they could, telling him that they were proud of him. That Percy had made his plan that had started to grow in his head with he was only four years old, true, should have not been a surprise to any of them, and it still came as one when Jim had returned from his first tour in Afghanistan and he and Percy had declared that they would be getting married before Jim left for his next assignment. A small wedding had taken place four years ago, binding the families of friends together forever.
“Hey,” Percy said, standing in front of the shorter man who still wore his uniform.
“Hey yourself,” Jim replied, a bright trademark smile appearing. “Missed you.”
Jim grinned, while Percy’s attention shifted to the little boy that Jim was carrying on his arms, who was looking at him with huge black eyes and looked ashamed away when he noticed that the tall stranger was looking at him.
“Hey, you,” Percy said softly and touched the child’s head, making him look at him again.
A tear ran down Percy’s cheek that Jim took away with a finger while he leaned a little against him, noticing his family a few meters way, keeping their distance until the young husbands had said their hellos.
“This is Amil,” Jim whispered, kissing the boy’s hair. “Amil, this is Daddy.”
Percy smiled, but could not hold back the tears that caused Jim to sniff a little too.
“Hey, Amil,” he said to the boy, just four years old, the same age Jim had been when he had become a Flint. “I have something for you.”
He heard Ben behind him sniff loudly, embraced by his husband, when he lifted the toy he had been holding the whole time.
Amil, the orphan boy from Syria, looked with wide eyes for seconds at the blue terry cloth bunny and then took it and pressed it to his chest.