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Growing Up

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301 Re: Growing Up on 27th June 2013, 21:37

Jo looked for another moment at Liam. “But can we go into the shallow water? It makes me nervous that I can’t touch the ground.”

Liam smiled and nodded he has been swimming on the spot but swam closer to his wife to kiss her. “You wanna try to swim to the shallow water so I know how to help you?” Liam asked gently. “You can swim close to the edge so that in case you get under water you can reach it. Not that I would make sure you don’t get under water.”

“I don’t mind being wet not even my hair, I’m just scared when I get under water and then I panic not to come up again and then I can’t swim anymore.” Jo mumbled embarrassed. Liam was standing on the ledge under water one leg on each of Jo’s sides. He looked at his wife for a very long time before he kissed her again. “That is understandable. Did someone ever really teach you how to swim?”

Jo shook her head. “Daddy is not a very big swimmer, and well mother thinks swimming is not a sport a lady should do. So I just read about the technique and… tried it a few times at night when I knew no one would see me but I was so bad that I stopped very quickly.”

“I see. Do you want to show me your technique? I won’t judge you.” Liam gently brushed with his lips over Jo’s cheek.

“Okay, but um… I’m not sure I can swim the entire lane at once.”

“That is okay, we can make breaks in between.” Liam smiled. Jo smiled shy back and nodded. Liam let go of one hand to let Jo swim passed him. Jo swimming style was… interesting it looked a little like a three legged dog, a blind seal, and a log (yes a tree floating in the water well more a soaked heavy log so it was nearly floating under water). Liam was quickly ahead of her but started swimming slower it was actually challenging to swim that slowly. Jo tried so hard but just a few yards when her head got under water she panicked her paddling got hastier. Liam noticed that Jo was having troubles swimming he was quickly at her side and placed his hand under her stomach to lift her up. Jo was coughing and shook her head. Liam pushed her closer to the edge and she grasped it desperately. “Liam I suck!”

“No your technique is just a little bit weird. Come here let me show you something.” Liam knew he was strong enough so he pulled Jo on his back and piggy bagged her to the shallow water. Jo was surprised that she actually enjoyed properly floating through the water. When Liam stopped in the shallow water he was surprised to see her smiling. “This was nice.” Jo whispered.

“Good, I’m glad you liked it.” Liam smiled at him. “Come here I show you how you can move your arms that you don’t get water in your face.” Liam showed Jo the arm movement and after she saw it a few times he stepped behind her to lead her arms. Liam’s body was so close it actually made her nervous. “It’s fine just relax your arms and turn your hands and keep breathing.” Jo slowly calmed down in his arms. A while later Jo was swimming in the shallow water with Liam’s hand protectively under her stomach to hold her up just in case. “See you can swim, you are maybe slow and hopefully never have to rescue someone but you can swim.”

Jo didn’t reply she was concentrating so hard that she heard Liam but could not answer. She needed a few more strokes before she let her feet sink back on the ground and stand safely. “You taught me how to swim.” Jo mumbled.

“I did.” Liam smiled and wrapped his arms around his wife. “You are shivering let’s get out and dry and then have some food and then see what else we can do in an empty school.”

“Okay but I want to try to swim a lane to the other end.” Jo smiled shy, Liam nodded and swam along her. Just to make sure she was okay.


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302 Re: Growing Up on 29th June 2013, 17:30

About one week later the twins got to spend their day somewhere else. This time not at Lorelai’s or their grandfather’s place, but at Ricky’s, who had offered to take them for a day and Jo knew how much it meant to him to be around the twins. She knew that Ricky was probably the person who wanted children the most, but would never be a father himself, and she felt so sorry every time she saw how happy he was when he saw the girls and how great he was with them. If anyone was born to be a dad, it was Ricky. So Jo trusted him enough to look after her girls for a day. However, there was also Alfie, and she sure as hell didn’t trust him when it came to her daughters, and unfortunately Alfie lived with Ricky. Of course Ricky assured her that he would make sure Alfie would leave them alone, and Jo knew that she could count on her best friend. So, on Saturday, shortly before noon, after Jo had explained the girls’ routine very detailed to Ricky, she and Liam dropped them off and would spend the rest of the day relaxing and having a little picnic on the grounds of Waterfall Downs.
The girls were happy to see Ricky, even Jane, who was normally very reserved with others, but she could sense that Ricky was a kind soul and she also knew that he liked to sing, which she loved to listen to. Jill, however, was looking for someone else… She slipped right through Ricky’s legs and walked into the flat, her eyes wandering around.

“Where are you off to, little Miss?” Ricky closed the door behind him, Jane holding on to his hand, looking shyly around. She had never been in this flat, so she was insecure, as always, when the area around her was new.

Jill was very excited, but not necessarily because of all the pretty objects around her, there was something else that excited her more- or someone else. “Fi!”, she squeaked excitedly.

“No”, came the cold, unemotional answer from the living room.

Jill’s eyes started to light up and she literally stormed into the living room. “Fi!”

Alfie sat on the couch and was holding up a book, not even looking at her. “I’m ignoring you”, he said dryly.

“Fi!” The little girl ran to him and put her little arms tightly around her leg. “Fi! Fi!”

“Don’t call me that, you little-“

“Alfie!” Ricky came into the living room and shot him a warning glance. “Be nice.”

Alfie finally looked up from the book. “Why did you have to take them? They are…they are so…small.” He almost sounded disgusted. “And little brats always have sticky fingers, and there’s always jam in their faces and other disgusting gooey stuff, and they break things, and they-“

“We talked about this”, Ricky said calmly. “If you can’t endure those lovely, little ladies in your flat, just go outside, spend the day at the club, do something, but don’t sit here and complain about everything, okay?”

“I would go to the club, but the thought of having two red-headed monsters in my flat wouldn’t give me any peace, and I would constantly have to wonder what they break while I’m not there to make sure they don’t touch my stuff. So, I rather stay here, where I can watch them.” He looked down at Jill who was hugging his leg tightly like a teddy bear. “And you- you’re getting on my nerves! You better not get my trousers dirty, I hope you didn’t just have your fingers in your nose or any other weird place kids stick their fingers in.”

Ricky rolled his eyes. “Come on, girls, I’ll prepare some lunch, okay?” He looked down at Jane, who was still holding his hand. “And of course I will prepare something special for you, your mommy told me about your eating habits.”

“Just give them some goddamn caviar or whatever kids eat.”

“Kids don’t eat caviar”, Ricky replied sarcastically.

“I did when I was a kid.”

“Well, you were not a normal kid to begin with”, his boyfriend said. “Jill, honey, do you want to follow me in the kitchen?”

Jill shook her head, she was still clasping on to Alfie’s legs.

“I think you should let go off Alfie’s leg, honey.”

She shook her head again. “Fi!”

“Oh man, she adores you.” Ricky chuckled. “Alfie, maybe you should get up, she might let go off you then.”

Alfie sighed and got up, but Jill kept holding on to his leg, so he just walked out of the living room, with Jill not letting go.
“I need my bloody leg”, he grumbled. “I can’t fuck when I have just one leg. Have you ever heard of anyone fucking with just one leg?”

“Alfie!” Ricky showed up behind him. “Please watch your language in front of the girls, I don’t want them to catch up any bad words.”

“What? I don’t see how ‘leg’ is a bad word”, he replied sarcastically.

Ricky just rolled his eyes and went into the kitchen with Jane. “Please don’t let Jill out of your sight”, he shouted from the kitchen, but Alfie already walked upstairs to their bedroom, the little girl remaining tight to his leg. She finally let go off him when they were upstairs, she seemed to be very interested in the bedroom.
“Wow.” Her eyes widened as she looked around, and then she discovered a big chest that caught her attention. Meanwhile Alfie quickly put on another pair of trousers, he felt like his other trousers were dirty, now that a toddler had touched it. Without even checking for Jill, he just went back downstairs to the kitchen.

“Where’s Jill?”, Ricky asked.

“Who?”

“Jill! The little girl who just hung on your leg! Where is she?”

Alfie shrugged his shoulders.

“Seriously?” Ricky took a deep breath and walked out of the kitchen, but then he spotted Jill, very carefully crawling down the stairs. “Jill, are you okay?”

Jill reached the floor and nodded, then she walked to Ricky and held up something she got out of the chest. “Toy!” She grinned widely at him.

Ricky went pale at first, then he blushed. “Is that…is…um…”

“Oh, nice.” Alfie stood next to him and looked at the little girl. “She found the sex toys. There’s a smart kid.”

“Oh God…” Ricky closed his eyes for a moment.

“Toy!” Jill looked at Alfie with a wide grin. “Fi!”

“You want me to play with you?” A grin crossed Alfie’s face. “You’re a naughty one, aren’t you?”

“Don’t even joke about that!” Ricky looked at him with a warning glance. “I have to check on Jane, and you better make sure that you get that…thing away from this 1-year old toddler.”


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303 Re: Growing Up on 29th June 2013, 19:12

Jane was sitting a little scared in the kitchen on the chair at the table. She wasn’t crying but she looked like she would like to start.
 
“Oh darling come here, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to leave you all alone.” Ricky hurried to the shivering little girl.
 
“Ducky?” Jane whispered. Ricky nodded as he hugged her and quickly got up to get Jane’s stuffed duck from the bag with all the twin’s things.
 
“See here is your ducky.” Ricky picked up Jane and the little girl hugged her duckling tightly and leaned her head against Ricky’s shoulder.
 
“Thanks.” Jane mumbled in her little toddler language.
 
“No problem darling. Let’s see how about some grilled chicken with broad beans and asparagus. Just something light and something you can keep clean and separate.” Ricky was holding Jane and checked the fridge. He felt Jane nod on his shoulder and smiled. “Good. You can sit here.” Ricky put down Jane on the black marble kitchen counter. “And then I can put the chicken in the grill and will steam the vegetable.” Ricky liked talking to Jane.
 
“Here take this brat.” Alfie handed Jill -who he was carrying more like a sack of potatoes then a toddler- to Ricky.
 
“Alfie! I am making some lunch it won’t be long.” Ricky looked at Alfie’s back. He knew that his boyfriend doesn’t like children. “I call when it is ready and then we can eat together, please.”
 
Alfie said for a while nothing. “Fine.” He walked back into the living room and this time closed the door. Other people thought it was nice to see Ricky with children but it actually hurt him to see his Ricky with a child, because he can buy him everything… everything except the one thing his boyfriend really wanted a family, a family with children and a house and everything. Every time Alfie saw Ricky with the twins he wanted to start screaming and going to find a family that was poor enough so that he can buy off their children to give Ricky the family he wanted.
Ricky chuckled in the kitchen about his boyfriend. Meanwhile Jill got a chair, pulled all her strength together and managed to push a chair towards the counter on which her sister was sitting. “Me help Uncle Ricky.” Of course her speech was by far not that clear she had hard troubles of pronouncing the world uncle, but Ricky could understand her well enough.
 
“Okay you can help. Let’s see. The chicken is in the grill it has just a mild marinade of lime and coriander so it should not be too spicy for you girls. Here you want to put the beans into the steamer?” Ricky looked at Jill.
 
“Yeah!” Jill grinned and started putting the beans from the basket -in which they are stored in the fridge- into the steamer. Jane watched her sister witch watchful eyes.
 
“Alfie are you coming lunch is ready.” Ricky called not much later. A grumpy Alfie came back he smelled like cigar and whiskey. Ricky looked at him. “Are you okay?”

“Yes fine. Let’s just eat.” He sat down at the table and looked at the girls one of them on each of Ricky’s sides. “Is the starring ones her food on three plates?”
 
“Yes, Jane does not like it when her food touches so I just put it on different plates.” Ricky explained while he cut Jane’s chicken in small pieces. Jill didn’t even wait for him to cut her chicken she just stabbed it with the fork and bit of pieces while she stuffed some beans along into her little mouth. “Fi eats.”
 
“Stop calling me this!” Alfie barked that Jane flinched.
 
“Alfie please don’t shout like this.” Ricky said calmly and kissed Jane on the top of her head. Jane looked up at Ricky he was calm and smiled friendly so she calmed down and took the small fork at started eating the small bites Ricky had cut.
 
“She is eating her lunch with a dessert fork.” Alfie said coldly.
 
“A main meal fork is too big for her.” Ricky smiled and tried to help Jill with her lunch.
 
Alfie rolled his eyes.
 
Meanwhile on the other side of Oxford Jo had set up the entire picnic when she and Liam just sat down when suddenly a heavy shower came down. “Oh no!” Jo tried to get everything of the picnic back in the basket when Liam took her hands. “I don’t care if the picnic is ruined I all want for lunch is you anyway.”
 
Jo giggled and snuggled against Liam. The rain was falling down on them and they didn’t care. “I love you so much Liam.” Liam didn’t answer with words but his warm embraces said enough. He kissed her so lovingly that it made her knees buckle. “Come with me.” Liam took her hand and pulled her into the new student lab that they were building. It was a small well ventilated and amazing lab it was not yet finished but it was finished enough to use it as shelter.
 
“Liam are you sure we can go in here?” Jo was as always nervous in a lab.
 
“Yes. Walls, windows, doors and floors are all finished the lab furniture is just missing be careful there are some pipes for gas and water and similar but other than that it is safe to be in here and it is dry.” Liam kissed Jo on the cheek and his hand was resting on her hip. “You are lovely.” Liam whispered and Jo knew what he tried to say. She looked at him and then it hit her.
 
“Liam I think this summer will be one of my best summers, because last year at this time I was at a very, very dark place but this year I am not saying the world turned into a pink wonderland but I am allowing myself to feel the good things and the bad things. I walk with open eyes through the world and I am not scared because whenever I think I’m drowning I know you will be there, just like you had been in the pool.”
 
Liam was quiet for a moment because a year ago he did something horrible but then he saw Jo’s eyes and knew that he really had her one hundred percent back the girl from the stage at the Oxford concert so many years ago.
 
“I am, even when we disagree I will still be there to lift your head above the water.” Liam smiled lovingly at Jo before they sunk into deep passionately sweet love at the new science lab of Waterfall Downs Academy for Gifted Youngsters.


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304 Re: Growing Up on 30th June 2013, 18:06

Alfie had to spend the entire afternoon with his grandmother, who had insisted on him showing up for tea. Usually he would have tried to get out of this, but she actually threatened to make a stop at his flat if he wouldn’t show up, and he sure as hell didn’t want her to come anywhere near the flat, so he quickly agreed on meeting her for tea. Of course his grandmother talked about marriage again, but this time it was a lot more serious. Usually, Alfie would just pretend to listen but didn’t actually pay attention, but this time she really threatened with marrying him off in the next few months. All in all, after they were done with their ‘lovely talk’, Alfie was so pissed off that he didn’t go home immediately afterwards because he didn’t want to meet Ricky while he was so angry, so he actually remained in the Jackson mansion, only that he went to the huge basement, right to the wine cellar and the rooms where all the expensive alcohol was stored, some of the bottles worth up to a million pounds. He actually wished Sofiya would be here right now so he could let his anger out on her, but she wasn’t, and he didn’t feel like going to a prostitute right now. He didn’t feel like seeing anyone at all, so he stayed in the basement for a while and opened some of the very expensive stuff. He didn’t even pay attention to the amount he drank, and normally he was used to so much alcohol that he couldn’t get drunk, but after a while in the basement, opening up about seven different bottles, he started to feel slightly dizzy- something he so wasn’t used to. Before he would end up falling asleep in his parents’ basement, he decided to go back to his flat, so he called his driver, but he had a hard time getting normal sentences together. Luckily his driver handled the situation well and brought him home safely, to a very shocked Ricky.

“What happened to you?”

“My family”, Alfie grumbled.

Ricky could smell all the booze, and it shocked him, because usually Alfie never smelled so much like alcohol, despite the fact that he drank every day.
“You’re drunk?” It was less a question and more a statement.

“Bullshit.” Alfie laughed stupidly. “I don’t get drunk.”

Ricky looked concerned at him. “Here, sit down, you can barely stand.” He took his arm and led him to the couch.

“I fucking hate people”, Alfie said. “Not you. Just people. In general.”

“I’m going to make you a tea, okay? And I’ll get you some water, water helps to-“

“I fucking hate water.”

“I don’t care, you need water.” Ricky sounded almost a bit strict and quickly returned with a big glass of water. He had never seen Alfie drunk, and he worried that Alfie was one of those angry-drunks, but when he came back from the kitchen he saw his boyfriend staring blankly into the room, and there was suddenly something almost sad about him. Ricky sat down next to him and reached out for his hand, but Alfie pulled away.
“It’s not fair”, he said quietly. He didn’t sound angry at all, he actually sounded defeated.

“What?”

“Death.”

Ricky watched him with a concerned look. “I know, but it’s going to happen to all of us, I’m afraid.”

Alfie was quiet for a moment. “I’m not scared of death”, he mumbled while he avoided looking at Ricky. “But I’m scared of what comes after it. I don’t believe in the garbage that the church teaches, but I believe that there is a place for the good people and a place for the bad, after they die, you know? I don’t really know if there’s a heaven, and I don’t know if there is such a thing as angels…but I’m pretty sure there’s a place all the good people go to.” He paused, staring at the floor. “No, I’m not scared of dying. What I’m scared of is losing you…when I die.” He finally looked up at Ricky. “I know that we won’t be together after we die, because I’ll go to the place where the bad people end up, but you…if there is a heaven, you go right up there, and you have the brightest and nicest spot in heaven, because you are heaven’s brightest angel.” His voice started to tremble, something Ricky had never seen before. Well, he had never seen Alfie like this before, and he felt how is throat was closing, because Alfie’s words hit him right in the heart.
Alfie cleared his throat, trying to control his voice. “That’s right, you’re the best and brightest of them all. You’re like…you’re like this little piece of heaven in my life. I know I’ve never told you, but you are. I had nothing good in my life until you came, and when we die, we will get separated because you deserve the nicest spot in heaven, and I end up…I…I’ll be where the bad people are.”

“Alfie, that’s not true…” Ricky tried really hard to hold back tears. He had never seen his boyfriend so human, so fragile. It was killing him to see him like that, and to see how wrong Alfie thought of himself.

“Of course it’s true. I’ve been…I’ve done…bad things. Look what I’ve done to you…I ruined you.”

“No.” Ricky shook his head. “No, you haven’t.”

“Yes, I have.”

Ricky tried to take his hand once more, but Alfie pulled away from him again.
“You…you’re like nobody else. You have this innocence and purity that I have never seen before. You should have been kept under glass, protected from everything and everyone out there. You’re so valuable, you should have stayed protected from the world, untouched. There’s such a purity about you and I shouldn’t have taken advantage of it. Nobody ever should.”

Ricky sighed quietly. “Alfie, even if we had never met, I don’t think I would have stayed…untouched…for the rest of my life. You didn’t take anything away from me. Quite the opposite, you made me become a more confident and grown person, I’m no longer scared of who I am, I came to embrace it, all thanks to you. You have done nothing wrong, please believe me.”

Alfie didn’t look at him, he was quiet for a bit, lost in thoughts. “When you get to the place where the good people end up, you’ll meet my grandfather. I miss him, I really do. I’m trying not to, but how could I not miss him? He was one of the good ones, you know? One of the very few people in the world who are just good, nothing else, just good and kind, like you. And he didn’t give up on me, he told his friend…he…I once heard him say that I wasn’t a lost cause yet, not like everyone else in my family. He said I was one of the special ones, but he couldn’t have been more wrong. After he died…I just…I turned into someone he wouldn’t be proud of, and I hope that, wherever he is right now, he doesn’t see me and see what I have become. He would love you, though…” He looked slowly up. “He would have loved to see me become someone like you. Can you promise me something?” He finally looked at Ricky again, who didn’t manage to hold back his tears anymore, they just silently ran down his cheeks. “When you meet him, please tell him that I’m sorry, okay?”

Ricky bit his lip. “No”, he said quietly. “You’re going to tell him that yourself.”

“No chance”, Alfie mumbled. “I won’t…I won’t go where you will go, don’t you see? I will never see you again after I die, I’ll never see my grandfather. I will go someplace else.”

“No.” Ricky shook his head. “You will not. I won’t let you.”

“I’m so dizzy.”

“Are you feeling ill?”

“No, it’s just…everything is spinning.”

“Okay, maybe you should-“

But Alfie didn’t listen to him, he stretched out on the couch, and Ricky quickly put his head up in case he had to throw up. He gently placed Alfie’s head on his lap and ran his fingers through his hair.
“You’re okay?”, he whispered.

Alfie nodded and moved his hand towards Ricky’s cheek. “My little piece of heaven…” A sad smile crossed his face.

Ricky smiled weakly while he could still feel a few tears running down. “Do you really think I’ll let go off you after we die?”, he whispered. “I won’t let go off you, not even if Satan himself tries to pull you away from me. I will hold your hand. Always.” He bent down to kiss Alfie’s forehead, then he began to sing very quietly their song until Alfie fell asleep.


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305 Re: Growing Up on 30th June 2013, 18:24

Dan was living now for eighteen days at the Three Lake Stud Farm. It had been the best two and a half weeks of his entire life. Henry came at least once a day to him and gave him another picture of a men sometimes also boys not that he kept those but the thought was still nice. He was outside with the boys again, Edward was reading -yes reading- a book containing all musical pieces of Beethoven, Henry was building a fort with sticks and stones he collect in the garden while he was doing his homework. It was chemistry for Liam and he was not that great with science. They had the tape player out with them and where listening to some of the boys music tapes. All three boys were enjoying the day, it was raining but they were still outside under the glass roof of the patio so Lorelai was in hearing distance as always, not because she didn’t trust Dan but because she wanted to make sure that all of her boys were okay. She had just received a phone call and was now after she had passed along the message to John who had started packing while Lorelai went to the boys.
 
“Edward, Henry Mutti and daddy have to go to work for a while. Dan will watch you so you have to listen to him just as you listen to me and your dad.”
 
Dan went pale, while Edward looked upset it was Henry who spoke first. “You will save the world?”
 
“Yes we will do some good.” Lorelai smiled at her youngest son. “This is a really good fort.”
 
“Thanks.” He was hugging his mommy.
 
“Edward are you okay?”

“Can I still have lessons with Graham?” He mumbled.
 
“Yes you will, I would have to ask you Dan to call him that he can come here.” Lorelai looked at Dan he was really pale and didn’t look well. She kissed Henry one more time and then got up to pull the scared teenager in a tight embrace. “You don’t need to worry. I had hoped that you are here for a little longer before John and I have to go on a trip but that is not the case. I left you a check book in my office, here this is a key to my personal bottom drawer there is the check book and all other papers you might need. I leave you in charge of the family. Don’t worry about the Ranch my foreman will handle this. I forwarded all calls to my office to his. So all you do is make sure you boys eat, get fresh air and exercise and do your homework. I left a list of things I would like you to do for me, like call Graham and also Josey. She will check on you once a day and if there is any problem call her!” Dan was quiet he didn’t move and was just trying to calm himself down. He had wrapped his arms around Lorelai as if he was drowning and she was the only thing from keeping him alive. “It will be fine sweetie. I’m coming back.”
 
Dan nodded barely noticeable.
 
“Dan I need you to say something.”
 
“Okay.” Dan whispered.
 
“Okay good I have dinner prepared it is in the oven you just need to reheat it. You finish your homework and I finish packing. I will come and say good boy okay?”
 
“Okay.” All three boys said.
 
Lorelai kissed each of them and then went back into the house to get ready herself. Edward had stopped reading and he was just staring into space, Dan was scared to be alone with the boys Henry was still having a slight pink mark from his fall a while ago. And then Dan looked at Edward and suddenly he forgot his own fears. He got up, took the book out of Edward’s hands and pulled him into his arms. “It will be okay. I will call Graham so that you can still play the piano. And I will make sure we have good food and are safe. I’m here okay?” Dan whispered. “Lorelai would not go if she doesn’t trust me to make sure that we are okay.” Dan was some of the things saying to calm himself. He was scared that as soon Lorelai left his father would come and take him back or kill him. Lorelai came back and said bye. The boys were quite good and didn’t cry.
Lorelai had left and then suddenly said to the young boys. “I’ll be right back. Just stay here.”
 
He ran around the house and jumped in front of the car.
 
“Dan? What the hell are you doing?” Lorelai yelled at him it was of course her driving her red Porsche with Charlie on the backseat and John and the passenger seat.
 
“I’m sorry, but I had to.” Dan was heavily breathing, his hands on the hood of the Porsche. “Before you go, I… Lorelai… before you go.” He looked at the woman in the car. “You said not to call you Ma’am or Mrs Von Gruensee but Lorelai. But… is it okay if I not call you that? Can I call you Mutti?” He bit his lower lip. He was never so scared in his live as asking Lorelai to be him mom. John squeezed Lorelai’s hand on the gear shifter. Lorelai quickly looked at John and then got out of the car. She pulled Dan into the tightest hug she ever had given him. “I was never anything else as your Mutti!”
 
Lorelai kissed her teenage son on the cheek and whispered. “I love you.”
 
For a moment Dan stiffed and then he relaxed and kissed her back on the cheek. He wasn’t ready to admit to anyone that he loved someone not even the love for a mother but he said instead. “Just come back quickly okay?”
 
“We will do that.” Lorelai let go of Dan and went back to the car while Dan went on the other side to John. “I’m sorry I’m not ready yet.”
 
John nodded. “I know. One day you will be.”
 
“Make sure she comes back in one piece please.”
 
“I will do my best, you make sure you boys are okay and the house still stands got it… son?”
 
“Yes got it.” Dan hugged John and then stepped away from the car so that his Mutti could drive without driving over his foot. John understood that Dan would need longer to call him dad, his mother was just absent but his father tried to beat him to death. Dan looked after the car until it was out of sight and then went back to his little brothers in the garden. They were upset and now both of them looked scared because not just their parents had left but also their big brother.
 
“Hey boys you wanna watch a cartoon before dinner?” Dan asked, he was now wet since he had been running through the rain. “I just need to get changed and maybe take a quick shower.”
 
“Mutti said this morning I need to shower.” Edward mumbled.
 
“Okay so we all shower.” Dan only said this because he knew that Lorelai and John were taking baths and showers with their sons and just last week when Edward had walked in on him taking a shower, she had said that she doesn’t see a problem of showering with the boys together. “And then we watch a cartoon.”
 
“Can we watch Heidi?” Henry asked shy.
 
“Yes we can watch Heidi.” Dan didn’t mind to watch the German cartoons in German. He hasn’t told anyone but he has started to learn German. John understood German, and Lorelai of course spoke and understood German and she spoke with the little ones German when she cooked she cooked something German it was quite a lot of her inheritance in the house. And it was not just that her father was her foreman and her brothers were involved in the ranch as well the Three Lake Stud Farm was in a way little Germany in Oxford. So he was secretly learning German.
Dan was nervous when they went inside he locked all doors and windows, called Graham to tell him that Edward needs to have his lessons at the ranch for a while and then called the foreman to double check that he knew that he was in charge of the farm right now and then he unlocked the drawer there was a check book in his name, and the wills of Lorelai and John and some other papers. He took the check book but left everything else untouched. He put the book in his room and then went into the bathroom he shared with Edward and Henry. Dan knew he would not sleep a few nights but he was rather tired but would not break his promise. He would keep his brother safe and healthy until Mutti and John came back.
 
Dan was looking into Edward’s room the boys wanted to sleep in one bed and for tonight he let them. They were showered, fed and now sleeping and Dan was so scared. He was never responsible for someone and now he was responsible for two little boys. He went to the corner at the end of the hallway and dialled a number he knew by heart. It was ringing and then:
 
“Hello?” Ricky answered sounding rather irritated.


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306 Re: Growing Up on 1st July 2013, 19:00

Alfie had just fallen asleep, when the phone rang. Ricky startled and hoped the phone would stop to ring, but it didn’t, so he carefully got up and walked to the phone, still watching his boyfriend who was sound asleep.
“Hello?” Ricky didn’t want to sound annoyed, but it bothered him that someone had to call him right this second, when it was very inconvenient.

“I’m so sorry for calling you, but it’s…I’m alone here with the boys, and…and…”

“Dan?”

“Oh sorry, yes it’s me. Am I bothering you? I’m sorry, I just…I-“

“It’s not a particularly good time right now”, Ricky said quietly, he tried to be as quiet as possible. “But why did you call? Is something wrong?” After all, he had assured Dan that he could call him any time, so he wanted to keep that promise and not tell him to call him another time. Besides, the boy sounded very troubled.

“Lorelai and John left for a job, and Lorelai left me in charge of her sons, and now…I…I’m not sure what to do, or if I’m doing it right. It’s just…I never had to take care of anyone before, I’m scared that something could happen.”

“Dan, calm down”, Ricky said. “Where are the boys now?”

“They’re in Edward’s room, sleeping. We had dinner before, and I made sure they took a shower, and now they are asleep.”

“Sounds good to me.”

“Yeah, but what if something happens?”

“Stop with those ‘what-if’ questions, you’re only going to drive yourself crazy. You’re a very responsible young man, so responsible in fact that Lorelai trusts you enough to look after her sons, and believe me, she doesn’t trust anybody, so in the past weeks you obviously proved to her that you know how to take care of children, and I have no doubt about that either. Just don’t try to think of the possible things that could happen, you will be fine, Dan.”
It took a few more minutes until Ricky managed to calm down the teenager, but he was sure Dan would be fine with the boys and wouldn’t mess it up. Dan was a really responsible young boy.
After Ricky hung up the phone, he returned to Alfie who opened his eyes.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“I’m thirsty.”

“Okay.” Ricky quickly went into the kitchen and brought some more water. “Are you still dizzy?”

“A bit.”

“You need to try to sleep, you will feel better tomorrow. Well, you will most likely have a hangover, but the sleep will help a bit.” Ricky tried to smile, but he couldn’t, his heart felt way too heavy, and there was this one horrible question running through his head. Alfie had never talked about death and afterlife and those things, but now that he did, Ricky started to wonder where it all came from and if there was something his boyfriend hadn’t told him.
Ricky took a deep breath. “Alfie, you have to be honest with me.” That was almost unnecessary, since Alfie would definitely blurt out the truth in his drunken state. Ricky had a hard time asking that question, especially because he was scared if his greatest fear was true. “Alfie, are you sick?”

“I said I’m fine”, he mumbled while he took a sip of the water. “I’m not throwing up if you worry about that.”

“No.” Ricky shook his head. “All those things you said…about dying…is there something you haven’t told me?” He tried really hard to hold back his tears. “Do you have a terminal sickness or something like that?”

Alfie looked confused. “What?” He was way too drunk to think straight.

“I mean…um…all this talk about dying, and what will happen to you…it’s just…it scared me. You never talked about this, you always said you were healthy, you never go to the doctor, and suddenly you talk about dying. Of course that worries me a lot, you have to understand that.”

Alfie still looked confused. He actually looked like he just wanted to pull a blanket over his head and sleep it off, but Ricky needed an honest answer first before Alfie would get sober again and refuse to talk about those things, as he always did.
“I’m not dying”, he mumbled a bit unclear. He couldn’t even speak properly. “I just…had to get this out, you know? It had always bothered me, like, constantly thinking about it and stuff…and…eh…” He needed a moment to put his thoughts together, the dizziness was still there. “I just wanted to say that it’s fucked up, you know, that we…that I can’t see you every day after I’m dead.”

Ricky was quiet for a moment. “So you’re sure you’re not…um…”

“Dying? Not yet, I think. I mean, you never know if a piano falls on top of you the next day or some shit like that.”

“Okay…” Ricky took a deep breath.

“Why do you look so sad? I don’t want you to look so sad, it makes me sad too. I don’t know anyone who can look as sad as you do. It makes me really sad now.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to make you sad.” Ricky tried to pull off a smile, but it was a very weak attempt. “It’s just…the things you said…it only made me realise even more how much you mean to me, and how I never want to live without you. I just can’t. I would fall apart without you.” He didn’t know how much of this Alfie actually understood in his current state, but that was okay, it felt nice saying it.

“Don’t be sad, baby penguin.”

“I’m not.”

“Good.” Alfie looked quietly at Ricky for a moment. “You have no idea how much you light up everything when you smile. I love that, I never say it, but I really love it. Your smile has the greatest effect on me, it just takes everything that’s bad away from me. I don’t want you to be sad, you don’t deserve that. You just…you need to be happy, that’s what matters.”

A warm smile crossed Ricky’s face while he held Alfie’s hand. “I love you, Darcy.”

Alfie didn’t say anything at first, he just stared at Ricky’s hand which was holding his, then he slowly looked up. “You’re not a man”, he said finally, almost whispering. “You’re a boy.”




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307 Re: Growing Up on 1st July 2013, 22:23

Ricky smiled and let Alfie snuggle into his chest for a change. “Just don’t go away okay?” For a change Alfie was holding Ricky’s shirt tightly.
 
“I’m not going anywhere, I’m right here.”
 
“Who was on the phone?” Alfie mumbled.
 
“It was just Dan, apparently he is alone with the boys of Lorelai so he was a little scared.” Ricky whispered while he was brushing his hand through Alfie’s hair. Alfie slowly fell asleep.
 
“Do you have to go?” He whispered sounding scared.
 
“No, Dan is fine I’m just with you. But Alfie listen try to sleep okay?”
 
“I need you so much.”
 
“Okay, Alfie not so tight you are hurting me.” Ricky managed to loosen Alfie’s grip on his arm.
 
“Sorry.” Alfie stopped holding him so tightly at least not tight enough that he would hurt his penguin.
 
“It’s okay, do you want some more water?”
 
Alfie just shook his head. Ricky was smiling in the darkness, he liked it that for a change he was the protector. Ricky closed his eyes and would just watch his boyfriend this night.
 
Ricky was not the only one watching over someone sleep. Dan was sitting in the armchair in Edwards room, every few minutes he got up to walk through the house to check that all doors and windows were still locked just to sit back down on the armchair and watch his two little brothers. He didn’t know when but at some point in the night he fell asleep. It was quite early but Edward had a bad dream and Henry had peed in his bed, the younger boy sometimes did that when he was scared. “Dan? Can you wake up, please.”


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308 Re: Growing Up on 4th July 2013, 15:36

Dan startled when he heard the voice of the little boy.
“Yes? What? Did something happen?” He almost jumped out of the armchair and looked at Henry, who stood in front of him, looking a bit freaked-out. “Henry, what’s wrong? Is something with Edward?” Dan got up, but at the same moment saw that Henry’s older brother was standing behind him.

“I’m okay”, Edward said. “I just had a bad dream.”

“And I had to pee”, Henry mumbled.

“Do you want me to go to the bathroom with you?”, Dan asked.

The little boy shook his head. “Already happened.”

“What?”

“Henry wet the bed”, Edward explained. “He sometimes does that when he’s scared.”

Dan was about to ask if Henry had a bad dream as well, when he suddenly heard the loud thunder outside. “Oh, I see. You’re scared of the lightening, aren’t you?”

Both boys nodded.

“I didn’t even hear it, I was so sound asleep. I’m sorry, I wanted to stay awake.”

“That’s okay”, Edward said.

“Um…okay…so I’ll better change the bed sheet now, and then…um…”

“Can you read something?”, Henry asked.

“So that we aren’t scared anymore”, Edward added. “Mutti always reads something to us when we’re scared.”

“Of course.” Dan smiled and tousled Henry’s already messy hair. “And don’t worry about wetting the bed, I’ll quickly change the sheets.”

“Can we come with you?”

“Eh…sure.”

So the little boys followed their big brother to the big wardrobe with the fresh bed sheets and blankets, then they went back into Edward’s room, where Dan changed the sheets. Every now and then Henry flinched when lighting appeared outside the window, but his older brother told him that nothing can harm him as long as they are inside, and as long as Dan looks after them.

“I have an idea”, Dan said after he had changed the sheets. “You just follow me downstairs.”

The boys nodded, each one holding on to his hands, then they went downstairs to the kitchen. “I know it’s a little late…or, well, a little early, but I think there is never a bad time for hot chocolate. What do you think?”

Both boys grinned.
“With whipped cream?”, Edward asked.

“And marshmallows!”, Henry added.

“Of course.” Dan quickly prepared hot chocolate for everyone, then they went into the living room, sat on the comfortable couch, where Dan tucked both in their soft blankets, then he grabbed a fairy tale book and began to read. In no time his little brothers were not scared anymore and were only focused on him, not caring about the thunderstorm anymore.


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309 Re: Growing Up on 4th July 2013, 22:20

“Dan can you read this?” Edward gave Dan an old looking book, Das Fliegende Klassenzimmer.
 
“Oh, um Edward I can’t read this it is German.” Dan brushed the boys hair out of his eyes.
 
“Oh okay.” Edward looked a little sad.
 
“Listen Teddy I promise I will be able to read this book one day okay just not today.” Dan kissed him on the forehead.
 
“I’m hungry, can we have breakfast?” Henry looked painfully at Dan. Dan started laughing.
 
“Yes let’s get some breakfast.” Dan grinned at picked both his brothers up to carry them into the kitchen. He made them some toast and jam and then called Waterfall Downs.
 
“Hello?” Jo sounded so sleepy.
 
“Hello it’s Dan. I’m so sorry to disturb you. I know it is still early.” Dan said quietly.
 
“That is okay. What is it?” Jo mumbled, she was alone in the flat Liam had taking the girls down Jill had a bad night the thunderstorm had kept her up and well Jane was up early anyway so Liam had offered to take them into the garden to have breakfast at their patio and maybe take Jill for a morning swim.  And Jo would follow after she showered, and woke up. Well and now talked to Dan.
 
“Um Missis Jo your cousin Lorelai and John they are gone, I mean not gone but they went for a job and I’m alone with the boys. Henry wanted to sleep in Edward’s bed so I let him but then he wet the bed. I changed the sheets and managed to calm them down but I don’t know I’m scared.”
 
Jo sighed tired. “Okay sorry I had a rough night but Dan you need to check if Edward still has the cover on his mattress because if not well then he needs a new one the urine will have soaked the mattress. And the thing about being scared that is normal. Have the boys and you eaten?”
 
“Oh okay I will check I don’t think he has, from where do I get a new mattress? Yes they have eaten and slept and showered.” Dan whispered.
 
“Lorelai has a book from where she buys things like mattresses it should be with all her paperwork, although check the attic first Lorelai buys stuff always on backup. Good that sounds like they are having a good time. Just try to relax make sure they don’t watch all day TV, go outside and that Edward practices his piano not that you really need to be after that. Oh and put the duvet into the wash just to make sure it is clean. And when the boys are scared you could try to built a tent in the living room and camp out there. Or you could ask Uncle Will where the real tent is and camp in the garden. Don’t worry that you will do things differently than Lorelai will do she knows that and when she would not like how you  are with the boys she would have send you all to come and stay here.”
 
“thank you Missis Jo.”
 
“You’re very welcome Dan. And I will talk to Liam that until Lorelai is back your summer assignments hand in will happen slower. Only work on them if you really do have time. It is more important that you are okay.” Jo said calmly.
 
“Okay I understand.” Dan smiled.
 
“Good, and now if you excuse me my family is waiting for me in the garden. It is quite nice after the storm last night.”
 
“Yes of course, please say hello to Mr Liam, Jane and Jill.” Dan smiled. “Have a good day.”

“You too, and Dan whenever you need anything give me a call. Bye.”
 
Dan looked at the two young boys, Edwards was eating his toast and playing the piano well sort of he was still sitting at the kitchen table so it was just the piano in his head. Dan grinned those two were just too funny.
Meanwhile in old town Oxford a handsome young man was slowly waking up. He felt dizzy and actually like crap. “Ricky?” His voice was a horse Mickey Mouse croaking.
 
Ricky was not far and crawled back to Alfie to bed. “I’m here.” Ricky kissed his boyfriend. “I’ve got coffee and some food you need to eat something.”
 
“Come here.” Alfie pulled him into his arms and kissed him tender but with lots of passion.
 
“Do you remember last night?”
 
Alfie was quiet for a moment. “No. Did we make out?” Alfie grinned cocky.
 
“No we didn’t.” Ricky liked that Alfie was holding him again. He would never tell him what they talked about last night, well he would find a way to ask him again if he is terminal ill. “I love you Alfie! I love you so much.”


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310 Re: Growing Up on 5th July 2013, 17:19

Alfie looked slightly irritated. „Why do you have to tell me this?“

“That I love you? You shouldn’t ask me that. I keep telling you this not only because I really mean it, but also because you deserve to hear it now and then.”

Alfie didn’t answer, he looked a bit uncomfortable, as always when it came to feelings and talking about it.

Ricky couldn’t stop thinking about what his boyfriend said last night, and how much it scared him to lose Ricky. Of course it was drunken talk, but Ricky could tell that Alfie really meant it. He really was scared of what would happen after he died, and of losing him.
Not that he would ever admit it in a sober state. Ever.
But last night was proof enough to Ricky that Alfie really cared about him, not in a sense of liking him, but in a sense of actually loving him, and Ricky felt so happy to know how much he really meant to Alfie, he just wanted to tell him as well how important his boyfriend was to him.
Ricky sighed quietly. “I know you don’t like to hear that, but I think that you really need to hear it because you never got to hear it when you were little, that’s why I keep telling you that I love you, you definitely deserve to hear that more often.”

“Whatever”, Alfie mumbled, though he was glad Ricky said those things to him- not that he would admit it. He cleared his throat. “Why do I sound so fucking gay?”

“What?”

“Don’t pretend you don’t hear that.”

“Your voice?”

“Of course my voice! I sound even girlier than you do, and that means something!”

Normally Ricky would feel a bit offended, but it was just impossible to take Alfie seriously with that squeaky voice. It was actually hilarious and Ricky tried really hard not to laugh. After that crappy night that Alfie had, Ricky wanted to be sensitive and not make fun of him.

“I sound like a fucking mouse whose balls have been cut off!” Alfie sat up and kept clearing his throat, but that didn’t help a bit. “What the hell happened yesterday? Don’t tell me you dragged me into a shitty karaoke bar or something like that!”

“I would never do that to you, I swear!”

“Did you make me sing at home then? I sound like you made me sing a fucking Bee Gees song! Why do I sound like Mickey Mouse without balls?”

“I didn’t make you sing, Alfie, believe me.” Ricky sat up as well and looked determined at his boyfriend. “You really don’t remember a thing, do you?”

“I start to believe that it’s better this way.”

“Probably”, Ricky mumbled.

Alfie raised his eyebrows. “Why? Is there something I should know?”

Ricky wished he could talk to him about everything they had talked about last night, and he wished Alfie would open up to him without having to be drunk in order to do that, but he knew how edgy Alfie would be as soon as Ricky told him about what happened last night. He would probably deny all of it, even though he didn’t remember a thing. He would hate the fact that Ricky saw him fragile and scared, so Ricky decided against telling him.
Ricky sighed. “You just had a very bad night”, he said. “That’s all. You felt dizzy and passed out on the couch, but nothing else happened. And it often occurs that people lose their voices when they get drunk.”

Alfie didn’t look very convinced, but he was too tired to cross-examine his boyfriend. “And you’re sure we didn’t make out?”

Ricky laughed. “You were too dizzy to make out.”

“I’m never too dizzy to make out”, Alfie replied drily.

“Believe me, you were definitely not feeling well enough yesterday.”

“I’m feeling okay, so we can make out now.”

Ricky shook his head. “No, I don’t think so. You, my friend, should take a shower now, and –“

“You’re going to join me”, he interrupted him very matter-of-factly.

“I’m going to make breakfast”, Ricky continued.

Alfie rolled his eyes. “I don’t want breakfast, I want you.”

“You can have me after you showered and eaten a proper meal.” He leaned forward and kissed Alfie on the forehead.

“You’re all bossy, you’re turning me on, penguin.”

“Go shower.”

“Seriously, I want you right now!”

“Nope, you shower and eat first, then we see how we proceed.” Ricky smiled at him. “And by the way, you’re an adorable Mickey Mouse.”

Alfie looked grumpy at him. “Don’t ever call me adorable! I already feel emasculated enough. Look at us, you sound manlier than I do, that’s humiliating!”

Ricky chuckled and shook his head. “Go shower, Mickey.”

Alfie mumbled something but then got up.

“I love you!”, Ricky shouted.

“Whatever!”, Alfie squeaked back as he walked into the bathroom.


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311 Re: Growing Up on 5th July 2013, 22:04

A while later on a rather rainy day all high society of Oxford met for some kind of important event at the Jackson Manor, it didn’t matter what it was but Jo and Liam had to go without their daughters, they found some nice faces like Colin and even Graham. Neither Ricky nor Alfie were there, but that was actually okay. The event was rather boring until Elizabeth found Liam kissing Jo in one of the many window corners. For a while Elizabeth just starred at them. “How dare you to improper handle my daughter? You are a dirty bastard and do not deserve to be on this world, I think we should make sure another famine hits Ireland and we erase the rest of the populations of this Godforsaken piece of earth!”
 
“Mother!” Jo looked really shocked at her mother she knew that she had a very hard time right now and was in and out of a sanatorium but she never attacked Liam that bad. “You cannot talk with my husband-“
 
“It’s okay Jo.” Liam kissed Jo on the cheek and did not let go of her hand, she was trembling this attack on Liam the man that helped his wife to keep her sanity well no not just this he had shown her how to live and not just breathe. “Let her say what she needs to say and then she got it out of her system.”
 
“You moronic bastard! How dare you to speak to me as if I am an insane person? Do you know who you are talking to? I am Lady Elizabeth Margaret Victoria Williams you do not talk to me like I’m a beggar in your filthy home country.” Elizabeth was red in the face and screaming now loudly. Colin hurried towards his wife.
 
“Darling you are a little bit loud the people are looking.” He whispered calmly.
 
“Don’t tell me what to do.” She definitely had a crazy look in her eyes. “Don’ tell me what to do.”
 
“Elizabeth darling, did you take your medication today?” Colin was speaking very quiet that barely Liam and Jo could hear him.
 
“Oh just be quiet husband, this disgusting boy is besmirch your daughter’s honour and with that the honour of our family. We should have gotten interfered a long time ago. He is a bastard!” Elizabeth was screaming at her own husband still attacking Liam.


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312 Re: Growing Up on 6th July 2013, 16:54

Liam didn’t even need to look at Jo, he could already feel her trembling. He was a lot more worried about Jo and how she felt right now than actually getting mad at Elizabeth. Of course the things she said hurt, but he didn’t want to cause a scene by standing up against her in front of everybody right now. He knew Elizabeth was sick, and though that was not really an excuse for her incredibly rude behaviour, he still knew that it wouldn’t be wise to get into a verbal fight with her, especially not in front of all those people who only waited for the Irish peasant boy to make a mistake. They would all be on Elizabeth’s side, even though she was the one who started all of this, but she was still Lady Williams, and he couldn’t dare to be disrespectful towards her in front of Oxford’s upper class unless he wanted to get himself a ticket right home to Ireland.

“Lady Williams”, he suddenly heard a familiar voice, which, however, sounded unfamiliarly harsh. Graham showed up next to them, but he didn’t even look at Liam, he only looked at the older woman with a cold glance that Liam had never seen on him before. “That is my son you are talking about.” He didn’t even flinch or politely reminded her of the fact that Liam was his son. No, this was so far from the polite and gentle Graham Hart that everybody knew.

Elizabeth looked a bit confused, especially since the younger man who she knew so many years and whom she actually respected, suddenly behaved very differently towards her than he usually did. Even Colin raised his eyebrows in surprise, but he didn’t stop the other man from saying what he was about to say.

“Now I’m aware that the ladies in this town have certain opinions about people who are not from their background, and I can’t forbid them to have those opinions, but I find it absolutely inexcusable to treat people from other backgrounds like inferior human beings, and I definitely won’t accept the way you talk to my son.” Graham looked so cold, he could actually kill with his look. Liam and Jo just stared at him in complete surprise, and the others around them had grown very quiet too.

“I didn’t say anything against you, Mr Hart”, Elizabeth said.

“Not directly, but you seem to forget that this country you wish to be erased is also the country I come from.” He actually changed into his Irish accent, which wasn’t as strong as Liam’s, but you could still hear that he came from Ireland, and he purposely didn’t speak proper English anymore. “And yes, Liam’s mother and I weren’t married, but that doesn’t give you the right to speak to him in the way you just did. His mother was the bravest woman I know, and she raised this boy by herself without any help, and she did a wonderful job, it doesn’t matter whether she was married or not. If there is anyone you should call bastard, than that’s me, for leaving those two alone, but how dare you calling this young man those horrible names?”

Elizabeth had to catch some breath, she definitely lost her voice.

Graham didn’t even show a hint of emotion, it was almost scary to see him like that. “He’s your daughter’s husband, you should be happy for the two and their little daughters, your granddaughters. For you it’s all about names and status that leads to happiness, but the ironic thing is, it’s all the people with the important names who are actually the least happy. So why can’t you just be happy for your daughter’s happiness and stop attacking the man she loves? You should think about that.” He looked at her a last time, then he turned to Liam and Jo. “I think nobody would mind if we skip this whole thing and just leave.”

The two young parents still stared at him in shock, slowly processing what just happened. Even Jo, who knew Graham a lot longer than Liam, had never in her entire life seen him like that.
Liam slowly nodded, still holding Jo’s hand.

“Sounds good to me”, he mumbled.

Jo nodded too, then she looked at her father. “Is it okay if we-“

“Of course.” Colin smiled at her. “You just go home, take your girls and have fun.” He put his hands on Elizabeth’s shoulder, and Jo understood that her father would have to calm down his wife for a while.

The three left and were glad when they finally stepped outside, both Jo and Liam still not over the fact what Graham had just done.

“You’re okay?”, Graham asked them.

“Um…I think we should ask you that question”, Liam said.

His father sighed. “That was necessary. Honestly, I should have said something long ago, but you know, I know she’s in a fragile state and I didn’t want to overstep anything, but today I just couldn’t take it anymore. I actually feel a lot better now.” Finally the emotions came back to Graham’s cold face and even a smile appeared.

“Thank you.” Liam looked at his father. “I mean…seriously…thank you.”

“You don’t have to thank me, of course I defend you.”

Liam smiled, almost shyly. It was nice to have a dad who stood up for him, something he could have never imagined when he was little and fatherless.


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313 Re: Growing Up on 7th July 2013, 16:02

Jo was holding Liam’s hand tightly. Seeing her mother freak out like this in public while reporters where there to cover the event. She knew there would be pictures and reports about it. It was the end of Lady Williams, her father had to publically explain that his wife was mentally unstable due to several personal setbacks they had in the past. Graham looked at Jo, he knew this look she had this look when her mother forbid her to play and her father’s driver had to sneak her out of the house. But he knew how to fix that, or at least make her feel better.
 
“Jo I would like to show you something. Send your driver home you two will come with me.” Graham squeezed his son’s shoulder to make sure he did not feel left out. Jo looked at Liam who nodded. Jo went to send the driver home and meanwhile Graham looked at Liam.
 
“You did good son, it was good that you not reacted like I did. Lady Williams was always a complicated woman, she had to suffer so much during her life. You are grown Liam, do you know that? You are grown into a man your Mhamaí would be proud of. Very proud!” Graham smiled at his son who was looking just for a second at him and then looked away but it was all that he needed to do. Graham understood what his son was saying without words.
 
“I’m ready.” Jo said shyly.
 
“Good come on lets go we need to pick up someone else.” Graham smiled. Liam was curious what his father had planned to cheer up Jo he thought they would pick up the girls but to both O’Dohertys surprise they drove to Three Lakes.
 
“Edward? How about we rearrange your lesson? I think it is time that you see.” Graham smiled at his young student.
 
“See?” Edward who had been sitting with Dan and his brother under the patio.

“Yes see. Dan do you mind if I borrow Edward for a while?” Graham asked Dan like he would have asked Edward’s parents. Dan looked at the insecure Edward. “No not at all, if Edward doesn’t mind.”
 
“Okay.” Edward nodded and got up. “Do I need anything?”
 
“Yes the music sheets you think you play best.” Graham looked mischievous at his favourite student. Edward ran into the house to get the sheets. “It will be a while until we are back home, I think Edward will not make it for dinner.”


“That is okay.” Dan said while Henry climbed on his lap.

“Auntie can I visit the girls?”Henry asked in his so adorable toddler English.
 
“Of course they are with Ellen and her daughter Gracie.”
 
“Danny can we go? Pretty please?”
 
Dan laughed and nodded. “Yes we can go and visit the girls.”
 
Graham, Liam, Jo and Edward drove a while and then reach the destination, the Royal Albert Hall.
 
“Dad what are we doing here?” Liam asked as he watched Jo take Edwards hand to make sure that he does not run off or get kidnapped or something like this.
 
“We are going to hear a very dear friend of mine play the piano.” Graham knew pretty much everyone who there was to know in the classical music scene. So he did not have to worry to get into any music hall, he would say his name and was able to get in. “Jo Liam please take a seat, Edward you come with me.” Graham took Edward around and up onto the stage. There was one beautiful black grand piano standing on it. “Edward listen to me, one day you will sit on this chair and play for a full house and when this day comes you will always remember this moment that no one but Jo and Liam are sitting in the audience. I want you to sit down and when you are ready you play.”
 
Edward looked scared but sat down as he was told and for a while he just starred at the keys. And nothing happened. Jo was squeezing Liam’s hand so tightly. “Graham did the same with me. I was sitting for over an hour at this piano. It was the hardest hour of my life. But when I played and I heard the music fill the hall. I knew that everyone on this house could hear me play and I felt never so fulfilled, well at least until I met you. But back then it made me fill invincible.” Jo whispered to Liam. Liam looked at Jo and he saw her eyes sparkle and he loved it. And then Edward started playing For my Heroine and he played it perfect. But not just this he played it for his Auntie, it was maybe written for Catherine O’Doherty but right in this moment it was played for Josephine Yvaine O’Doherty. Graham knew it would be the song Edward would play, he knew that it was his favourite song. The song that was written for a heroine Graham had not seen for so long but loved so much, so it was not a surprise that Edward kept playing this song while his mother was gone. It did exactly what he thought to hear her nephew play. Jo calmed down and felt that even when her mother was now known for her mental problems it would not change who she was. She was the girl that built an elite school within two years and the waiting list to enter it was at least three foot long. She was Missis Jo and nothing could change that, not even her mother. Edward got lost in the music and started to just play while Jo was leaning against Liam and just loved the moment.


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314 Re: Growing Up on 8th July 2013, 20:30

The moment was almost magical, this little boy playing the song that Liam had always loved since the first time he heard Jo playing it. Back then he didn’t know for whom this song was, and yet, he always felt drawn towards this song, and so did Jo, and now Edward. It was funny how Cathy’s song connected all of them in various ways, and after this truly crappy day, it was a perfect change and made everyone feel better. Liam planted a kiss on Jo’s head while she watched the little boy with complete fascination, and when Edward played the last notes, both of them got up and gave him standing ovations.

“That was incredible, Edward!” Jo smiled widely at the little boy who blushed. It was adorable how shy Edward was, especially in contrast to his younger brother. Jo couldn’t help but see the similarities between her and Edward, she had been as shy and quiet as he was, and so humble. When people paid her compliments, she blushed, just like Edward did.

“He’s truly gifted, isn’t he?” Graham put his hand on Edward’s shoulder.

“Incredible”, Jo mumbled.

“I feel kind of weird now”, Liam said with a grin. “I’m surrounded by three extremely musically talented people, I kind of suck next to you guys.”

“Aww, you don’t suck!” Jo giggled and kissed him on the cheek. “The girls love it when you play the guitar, they go all crazy, even the usually quiet Jane. And they always want you to sing to them. When I sing to them, they stare at me as if they think ‘what the hell are you doing there?’, but when you sing they are the happiest little girls.”

“Probably because I already sang to them when they were still in your stomach”, Liam said, then he turned to his father and Edward. “Thanks for making this day a bit nicer. This was really great.”

“I knew that’s what you two needed, a little distraction from all the craziness today”, Graham replied. “Music is sometimes exactly what you need when the day sucks, and thanks to this young man, the day got saved.”

Edward smiled shyly. “I love playing.”

“Oh, I can see that”, Jo smiled at the boy. “And especially hear it.”

The rest of the day really turned out nice. Edward played a few other songs while the young parents leaned back in their seats and enjoyed listening to him and forget about everything that happened a few hours before.
Afterwards, Graham drove them all back to Waterfall Downs, where they found Ellen in the living room, reading something to Gracie, Dan, Henry and the twins. Henry sat next to Dan, his head leaned against his big brother, and his arms around Jane, while Gracie had Jill sitting on her lap. As soon as the others entered the room, Jill squeaked “Mommy, Daddy!”, and a smile appeared on Jane’s face as well when she saw her parents. Henry waved at Edward and told him to sit next to him, so that’s what Edward did, smiling at both his brothers.

“Thank you so much for watching everyone”, Jo said to Ellen. “If you want, I can take it over from here.”

“Oh, you don’t need to do that.” Ellen smiled at her. “We’re in the middle of a story, if you want, you can join us.”

“I would love to.” Jo sat down next to Gracie and Jill, who she kissed on the head. Liam and Graham sat down as well, and it looked really funny how the children and the adults sat on the floor, listening to Ellen. Jo briefly glanced over to Graham and saw the loving look on his face while he watched Ellen, but then she leaned her head against Liam’s shoulder and continued listening.


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315 Re: Growing Up on 9th July 2013, 20:16

The car was pack and they were on their way, no they were nearly there at the house in Brighton. Jo was very excited it was the first holiday as a family. The caretaker who was always preparing the house for them had  filled the kitchen with food for two days, and made sure all other essential were available and the house was cleaned and the beds ready. Jo was pulling just into the driveway. Jill was happily gurgling in her seat while Jane was not surprisingly half asleep.
 
“You want to take the girls and I get Teddy and some of the luggage.” Liam leaned over and kissed Jo on the cheek.
 
“Okay.” Jo got out and went around to get Jill first and then the half sleeping Jane. Jill walked next to her mom holding her hand while Jane was holding on to her mom tightly. “Jill can you let go of mommy’s hand for a moment I need to unlock the door?” Jill nodded and looked with her big eyes at her mom, watching her to unlock the door. “Okay munchkin lets bring you upstairs in your bed.”

Jill followed her mum up the stairs and into Jane’s room. It was pale yellow decorated just like at Waterfall Downs. “Ma.” Jane whispered sleepy as Jo put her into the cot with her ducky.
 
“It’s okay munchkin you can just sleep okay?” Jo kissed Jane on the forehead and took Jill’s hand. They went together back downstairs. Liam had carried all their luggage in the house and was now starting to sort them so that they could tidy them away.
 
“Is Jane asleep?” Liam looked at his wife.
 
“Yes.” Jo smiled. “Jill would you like to have a snack?”

“Yeah. Cheese?” Jill grinned at her mother, she had a thing for cheese. It made Jo laugh.
 
“Yes darling, you can have some cheese and maybe some apple?”

Jill nodded and looked questioning at her mother, the little girl didn’t know where the kitchen was. “Liam would you like to join us?” Jo looked relaxed at Liam. She was really happy right now, like really happy. “I would like it very much if you join us, just leave the bags where they are. Maybe when Jane wakes up and got a snack too we can go to the beach. Maybe Jill likes to swim in the beach while Jane and I just dip our feet in the shallow waves. I think it is warm enough, don’t you think?”


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316 Re: Growing Up on 10th July 2013, 13:01

„Yes, it’s definitely warm enough.“ Liam followed them in the kitchen where Jill got her cheese while Jo also cut an apple into small pieces. “Would you like to go into the water?”, he asked his younger daughter.

Jill nodded excitedly while she stuffed a piece of apple in her mouth.

“I got the girls new bathing suits”, Jo said.

“Was something wrong with the old ones?”

Jo giggled. “No, but girls just like to buy new clothes, and I saw very cute bathing suits and I had to get them, they will look so adorable in them.”

Liam shook his head. “Girls and shopping.”

“Hey, I’m not that bad. Lorelai is the one who has a shopping addiction.”

“True.” Liam tousled Jill’s red hair. All of them ate a little snack and put some of the bags aside, then Jo and Jill got changed while Liam looked after Jane who had slowly woken up.
“Hey, Princess.” He smiled at her and planted a kiss on her head. She looked sleepy at her dad. “Did you sleep well?”
Jane nodded and yawned, then she stretched her arms out, always a sign that she wanted to be held by her daddy. Liam carefully lifted her up and gave her another kiss. He loved how the girls smelled after they slept, always like bed and sleep and dreams.
“We’re going to the beach now, but you don’t have to go into the water. You can join Mummy under the parasol.”

Jane looked a bit sceptical when he mentioned the word ‘water’, but he would make sure that she didn’t feel forced to go anywhere near it.

“Liam?” Jo appeared in the room. “Is Jane awake?”

“Yes, she just woke up.”

“Hey, Sweetie. Are you going to join me while Daddy and Jill go into the water?”, Jo asked the sleepy Jane, who nodded quietly.

“Okay, let’s get you into your new bathing suit then.” Jo carefully took Jane off Liam’s arm. That same moment Jill appeared, already in a super cute turquoise bathing suit with white dots. Jane had the same one, only in pink. Jo knew that her older daughter preferred girly colours, while Jill seemed to like all colours, especially blue tones. “Liam, could you put sunscreen on Jill while I’m changing Jane?”

“Sure.”

“And please make sure you cover every bit of her skin, it’s really important.”

Liam chuckled. “Yes, ma’am.”

“What? It’s not my fault they have your super sensitive, pale Irish skin.”

“I know, I know.” Liam got out the sunscreen and knelt down to his daughter.

“And when you’re done with Jill, you’re going to put sunscreen on yourself as well”, Jo said without any room for argumentation.

Liam sighed. “Do I have to?”

“No, you don’t have to, but if you don’t do it, you will regret it very deeply because you will look like a lobster afterwards and everything will hurt”, Jo explained.

“But-“

“And I highly doubt you will be able to…hug me when your entire body is burnt and hurting.” She purposely said ‘hug’, she didn’t want the girls to catch certain words, but Liam got it anyway, and that was definitely an argument that convinced him to put some sunscreen on.
“Are you happy now?”, he asked after he covered himself and Jill with sunscreen.

Jo smiled. “Yes.” She kissed him on the cheek, then she knelt down to put some sunscreen on Jane.


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317 Re: Growing Up on 10th July 2013, 21:44

Liam and Jill were playing in the waves, Jill’s laughter travelled far over the beach. Jane and Jo were having their feet in the water just where it touched the sand. Jane was squeaking every time the water touched her toes but it was a happy squeaking. Jo smiled at her daughter in her little pink bathing suit and because Jo knew she would not go into the water so Jane was wearing a very light white beach dress. “Mommy beach.” Jane looked at her mother.
 
“Yes munckin it is a beach. Do you like it?”
 
“No. Not tidy.” Jane looked at the sand at her feet it was just like sand was not fully one colour.
 
Jo grinned. “It is not tidy in your eyes. Munchkin you need to relax a little bit. This beach is very tidy, look around you there is no rubbish. And remember what I told you? A little bit chaos is okay.”
 
Jane nodded. “Mommy sit?”
 
“Yes let’s sit down. Do you want to have some juice?”
 
“Yes please.” Jane tried to wipe off the sand from her feet which obviously did not work at all. Jane bit her lower lip she was really upset.

“Munchkin just calm down I will clean your feet in a moment oay?”

“Promise?”
 
“Yes I promise.” Jo lifted up her little girl to rinse of the sand. “See all clean.” Jo sat down Jane on the blanket. While Jo got some juice from the cooler the little girl started brushing off the sand from the blanket. “Jane, munchkin please stop.”

“Mommy look dirty.”Jane started to have this slightly crazy look on her face.
 
“Munchkin please calm down. Look at me and drink your orange juice.”

“Mommy.”
 
“Jane.” Jo sounded a little bit strict this time. Jane stared back at her mother and then took the small orange juice box. She sat down and looked out at her dad and sister in the water. She was shuddering watching them, Jill did not seem to mind when she got her head under water. Jo put her arm on her daughter’s back and kissed her. “It is okay munchkin you are far away from the water.”

“Mommy so dirty.” Jane looked pleading at her mother.
 
“I know Jane try to ignore it. Look I’ve got you some books.” Jo handed her daughter some books while she watched Liam and Jill in the water. Jo was nervous watching them, she knew Liam would never let anything happen to Jill and still she was a little bit nervous. But every time Jo heard Jill giggle in the distance she had to smile. Jo looked at Jane sitting next to her once in a while brushing of some sand from the blanket and then at Liam and Jill in the water and even Teddy at the shallow water once in a while barking especially when Liam’s head got under water. Jo smiled, she knew that this was perfect. Jo might regret forever that she had missed the first months of her daughters’ lives but she was here now and so was Liam.
 
“Look mommy daddy fish.” Jane had been looking out to Liam and decided that her dad must be a fish the way he swam. Jo couldn’t stop it but burst into laughter, so hard that she started crying.


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318 Re: Growing Up on 12th July 2013, 17:08

While the other two ladies of the house decided to stay away from the water, Liam took his youngest daughter by the hand and walked right towards the ocean. They were followed by Teddy, who liked to make sure that his ‘family’ was okay.
Jill wanted to let go off her dad’s hand and run right into the water, but Liam obviously kept holding it. After all, Jill still couldn’t swim on her own, and he sure as hell wouldn’t let the little toddler go into the water by herself.
“Daddy!”, Jill said, almost impatiently while he kept holding her hand.

“I know, Cupcake, but you have to wait. We’re not going to jump into the water, that’s too dangerous, do you hear me?”

Jill looked at him with her big blue eyes, the blue eyes she and her sister had inherited from their dad. “Daddy, water.”

“Yes, we’re going into the water, but you have to hold on to my hand until I tell you otherwise, okay?”

Jill nodded, and then she and Liam carefully walked into the water, and she immediately let out a happy squeak when she felt the water. They didn’t go deep, the water only reached Jill’s knees so far, and Liam wanted to stay in the shallow water with her.
Jill didn’t even wait a minute when she already put her head under water, and Liam made sure she would put it back up soon afterwards. It didn’t really make him nervous that her head was under water, as long as it wasn’t there for too long. Jill was a clever girl, however, and her dad didn’t even have to take her head out of the water again, she did that by herself.

“Can’t see”, she said after her head appeared above the water surface.

“I know, it’s the English Channel, and the water isn’t as clear as the Caribbean water.”

“Monsta?”, she asked.

“What?”

“Monsta here?”

“Oh, you mean if there’s a monster in the water?” Liam laughed. “No, honey, there aren’t any monsters in the water, even though it looks dark down there, but I promise, there is no monster.”

That seemed answer enough for her, and she dug her head in the water again, then she looked up and giggled, the water running over her face. Teddy walked towards them, his tail wiggling in excitement. Just as Liam and Jill, he loved the water.
“Teddy!”, the little girl squeaked and touched his wet nose.

Liam looked over to Jo and Jane. Even though they were a bit in the distance, he could see that Jane was unhappy about something, it looked like she tried to brush off the sand from the blanket, but Jo talked to her and gave her something to drink in order to distract her a bit.

“Fi!”, Jill shouted when a tall man appeared next to them.

Liam turned around. “No, Cupcake, that’s not Uncle Alfie”, he said. “He would never wear yellow swimming trunks”, he added with a grin.

Jill looked disappointed at the other man who was obviously not her Fi, but then she turned around and splashed some water at her dad, and the two played around for another ten minutes until Liam decided to take a little break and join the other two J’s, so he took Jill’s little hand and walked towards them, followed by a very wet Teddy.

“What’s up with you?”, Liam asked when he saw Jo laughing so much that she actually cried.


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319 Re: Growing Up on 12th July 2013, 20:15

Jo was still giggling when she looked up at Liam. “Your daughter decided that you are a fish.”
 
Now Liam started to laugh as well. Jane was again brushing off sand of the blanket. Jill watched her sister she was slowly freaking out and trying to pick up single sand grains between the fabrics of the blanket. Their parents were laughing while Liam sat down next to Jo and took the towel from her. He wanted to dry Jill first but then the scene stopped him. Jane started to look nearly crazy her breathing was getting shallow and then Jill leaned as wet as she was down and hugged her sister. Jane squeaked and fought Jill first but then let her younger sister hug her. Jo looked surprised and then she realised that Jane had just bad episode of OCD and Jill had just stopped it completely.
 
“Jane darling are you okay?” Jo put her hand on Jane’s back. Jane nodded, Jill let her go and Jane crawled onto Jo’s lap. She was suddenly very tired and needed her mommy. “It’s okay Munchkin, the sand is okay. It won’t harm you.”

Liam was drying Jill and got a new dry bathing suit out of the bag and watched his wife calm down Jane.
 
“Janey?” Jill asked while Liam draped the towel around her shoulders so that no one could see his daughter naked while he changes the bathing suit.
 
“She is fine Cupcake, she just got a little scare.” Liam kissed Jill who looked with her big blue baby eyes at her sister.
 
“Needs a cupcake.” Jill pushed the towel aside and went naked to the cooler bag to get a cupcake she had seen her mother pack for her sister. Jo laughed again not as hard and not just at her daughter but also at her husband who seemed a little worried that his one year old daughter was walking around naked. Jill handed her sister a cupcake and well then bit into it herself and then tried to hand it to Jane again but Jane just shook her head a little panicked. Liam laughed and pulled Jill closer to him again. “Come here we can share that cupcake, Cupcake.”
 
Liam put on Jill’s dry bathing suit and also her beach dress. Jane was semi napping in Jo’s arms while Liam and Jill were building a sandcastle next to the blanket. Teddy was helping them digging holes and playing in the sand. Liam laughed.
 
“I think we need to wash Teddy before we go back in the house.”
 
“Yes I think so too, we can rinse him off with the hose in the garden. I bet Jill will love to join him.” Jo laughed looking at Teddy’s sandy head popping up from the hole he was digging. He really enjoyed being outside all day and digging holes. It was a really good first afternoon of their first holidays together.
 
A few days later Jane and Jill were watching cartoons, it was nearly lunch time Jo had prepared some pasta salad and some grilled chicken, Liam was standing behind the couch on which the girls were snuggled up, Jane was already getting sleepy and so was Jill but she was fighting it better.
 
“Hey Liam.” Jo whispered seductively in Liam’s ear. She pushed her hand into his pants. “I need you in the kitchen.”
 
At first Liam didn’t understand it but then her hand reach what she was looking for. Her touch was gentle and determined and very arousing.
 
“Oh. But the girls.” Liam whispered back.
 
“We close the doors and d it in the kitchen.” Jo murmured back.
 
Liam grinned and nodded then sneaked into the kitchen and had closed the door. “We don’t have long.” She mumbled as she climbed on the kitchen table and spread her legs.
 
Jo just hopped down the table when Jill walked into the kitchen with Jane right behind her. “Mommy lunch?”
 
Liam half dived behind Jo to pull up his shorts and not let the girls see that daddy had them down in the kitchen.
 
“Yes Munchkins, we will have lunch, you want to go into the garden and wait for us?”


“Okay.” Jill nodded and took her sister out into the garden. The little girls had noticed what just had happened in the garden. Jo was giggling nervous for the rest of the day, it made her just so happy to have her perfect little family together.
 
Over in Oxford Ricky was at home… alone again. It was lunch and Alfie had managed to leave the flat for longer then it sounded. Ricky knew what… who he was doing and it broke his heart. But even when he knew it he still had to call. “Hello James? This is Ricky Butcher. I was wondering if Alfie is with you.”
 
“No he is not.”
 
“Oh I see, okay um can you just tell him that... I mean when you see him… no wait never mind he doesn’t need to know I called he will just think that I am overbearing and he already thinks this, anyway just forget that I phoned.” Ricky didn’t even wait for James to answer ad just hung up. Ricky went upstairs and took a shirt of Alfie from yesterday out of the laundry basket and curled up on Alfie’s side of the bed. This was just a crappy day, no it was starting to turn into a crappy summer. Alfie was gone all the time, like all the time.
 
James was looking a little confused at the phone and then picked it up again. “Hey Englishman you need to talk to your boy. He is freaking out and thinks you are sleeping with me all summer. When are you going to tell him that you have a job and not screw around.”

“Shut up Scot.”
 
“No I’m serious I think he is having a mental breakdown right now. He just phone and first he wanted me to tell you something and then he said not to mention anything because you will think that he is overbearing and then he said just to forget that he called at all. Dude tell him that you are having a job, I don’t want to be your crazy boyfriend’s fantasy sex buddy.”
 
“Whatever.” It was the second time that someone hung up on James. James shook his head. He was still working on his port folio for his new job, the job he was going to get. He had to kick his bed friend in the butt to make sure he was not losing the boyfriend that was so good and right for him. James chuckled his best friend was just a bit weird when it came to anything that was involved with feelings.


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320 Re: Growing Up on 13th July 2013, 11:21

After Alfie hung up on James, he looked down at the manuscript in front of him, but he couldn’t focus anymore. He looked up again and his eyes wandered to the framed picture he had of Ricky, right on his desk. So far nobody would dare to just walk into his office, only James had been here once, but if anyone thought he had to bother him, he had to knock first before he could enter, and by that time Alfie could hide the picture. That barely happened because from day one he started working, he made sure that people would only call him if they had questions, and not come to his office. He always hated social contacts with people, he found it exhausting. He found people exhausting, unless they spread their legs for him. Other than that he wanted to have his privacy, when it came to that he had always been a private person, that’s why everyone in Oxford knew who he was and everything about his family, but nobody in fact really knew him. He was always a mystery to the people, and he preferred it to stay that way. So naturally he insisted on being left alone while he was working, and if someone had a new manuscript for him, they needed to call him and send it to him, but never just stop by personally to give it to him.
While he looked at Ricky’s picture, he could already imagine that Ricky was probably at home, watching Gone with the Wind, most likely crying. It was kind of ironic, because they had summer holidays and usually Alfie had always looked forward to the big holidays because that meant that he would have Ricky to himself all day long- at least during the time when Ricky didn’t teach summer school. He loved having Ricky there in the morning and afternoon, and not only in the evening. But now he was the one who left in the morning and didn’t come home until late afternoon or evening, and Ricky was sitting alone at home and had no idea what was going on.
Alfie wanted to continue reading the manuscript in front of him, well, more likely skimming it, because he didn’t have the nerve to properly read it, but ever since James called and told him that Ricky called James and asked about him, Alfie couldn’t focus for a minute, so he sighed and gave up for today. It was almost five o’clock anyway, and he still had to travel back to Oxford, so it was a good time to leave now, and the manuscript sucked anyway.
When Alfie arrived at home, the living room was quiet. Obviously no Gone with the Wind. Thank God, he couldn’t take their yammering and cheesy talking anymore, and besides, what the hell was that chick wearing anyway? Yanks! Had no idea about fashion.
Since the living room was empty, Alfie assumed Ricky would be in the kitchen, doing stress-baking or something like that, but the kitchen was empty as well, and so was Ricky’s study, and Alfie started to assume that Ricky was either at his parents’ or he had gone to his girl scout friend and her obnoxious daughters because Ricky loved those brats.
Alfie went upstairs to get changed, but then he saw Ricky lying in bed, still completely dressed.
“Ricky, are you okay?” Alfie wanted to sound calm, but he sounded slightly worried and he couldn’t hide it. He immediately thought Ricky was sick, and he hated seeing his penguin sick.
Ricky didn’t answer, he didn’t even turn around. Alfie walked to the bed, but then he saw that Ricky had cried, and he was holding on to one of Alfie’s shirts, and then Alfie got it. He wasn’t sick. He just thought that Alfie was out all day sleeping with others, most likely with James.
Ricky looked so pathetic, it was heartbreaking. Alfie really didn’t know anyone who could look as sad and pathetic and tiny and heartbroken as Ricky, especially while he was lying there and holding on to his shirt. Alfie knew it was time to tell him the truth, he had hurt Ricky enough- once again.

“Hey…” Alfie ran his fingers through Ricky’s soft hair and bent down to kiss him, but that seemed to make it even worse and new tears ran down Ricky’s cheeks.
“Why are you crying? I’m here, okay?”

Ricky bit his lip and buried his face in the shirt he was holding. He didn’t want to look at Alfie when Alfie decided to tell him that it was time to leave.
“Ricky, nobody died. Calm down, okay?”

“When do you want me to go?”, Ricky mumbled into the shirt.

“Go where?”

“Go away. From you. That’s what you want, isn’t it? The last weeks I became so boring for you, because you had to see me every day and you got tired of me, that’s why you have to leave the flat every day. I don’t blame you, I know I’m boring. I’m so lame, I don’t…I can’t even…God, I’m so sorry I wasted your time!”

Alfie looked at him quietly for a moment. “That’s what this it? You think you bore me? God, Ricky, how many times do I have to tell you that’s absolutely not the truth.”

“But-“

“I lo…I…eh…I like having you here, I really, really like it, okay?” He sighed. “Screw this! I love having you here! And I sure as hell don’t want you to leave.”

Ricky was quiet under the shirt. “Why are you doing this then?” His voice was weak.

“What?”

“I mean, I know you sleep with others, that’s no news to me, but the past weeks you have done it…well, more than usual. You just go out for hours, every day, without even telling me when you will be back. So of course I assume that I must annoy you so much, otherwise you wouldn’t have to stay out all day and avoid me. Just be honest with me, okay? I can take honesty better than your lying.”

“And I’m not lying when I tell you that you don’t annoy me, not even when you sing all this Broadway shit in the shower, I actually kind of miss it when I don’t hear it.”

“But why do you have to go away every day then? I would almost think you’re meeting Sofiya in London, but then you would smell like her and well…you would look like a grizzly bear attacked you, because that’s how you always look after you’ve been with her.”

“Hell no, I’m not meeting her!”

“It’s James then, isn’t it?”

Alfie sighed and sat down next to him. “Man, I tried more than enough when we were teenagers, but he’s the only one who made a pass on me. Serioulsy, nobody ever makes a pass on me, but he did. That little Scotsman just wouldn’t let me into his pants, and he still doesn’t, and I don’t even try.” Alfie looked at Ricky with honesty, but Ricky couldn’t see it because his face was still buried into the shirt. “Even if James would suddenly change his mind and come to me, I would be the one to make a pass.” He wanted to add that he just couldn’t sleep with other men anymore, it felt so wrong that he couldn’t do it, it felt worse than sleeping with Sofiya, which was already bad enough, but when he slept with some other guy, he really felt like he was cheating on Ricky, a feeling he had never felt before. So he couldn’t do it anymore.
“I’m not sleeping with James, nor with any other one, and I don’t have an affair with someone, which you probably thought of, too.”

Ricky didn’t answer, but Alfie knew how his Lover Boy’s mind worked.
He took a deep breath. “I…work.”

Silence.
Then very slowly Ricky looked up from the shirt he was clinging on. “What?”
His hair was all messy, and Alfie actually loved it like that, he thought it was adorable. Ricky just was so adorable, Alfie thought that all the time. Literally, all the time.

Alfie cleared his throat. “Um…well…there’s an…institution I offer my work to.”

Ricky looked confused. “You’re not…are you…I mean…are you doing something with…eh…your body?”

Alfie just stared at him. “What now? You think I’m a male prostitute or what? As if I need to sell my body!”

Ricky blushed. “Sorry, but you just…it just sounded very weird.” He sat up now and looked at his boyfriend. "So you…ehm…you work? Like, getting up, going to a place and-“

“Work, yes”, Alfie interrupted him, almost impatiently. He acted as if working was the most embarrassing activity on this planet. “And I don’t do it for the money. I’m loaded, I don’t need money. I do it to…I…well, who cares about the reasons? I work, okay?”

Ricky nodded, then very shyly asked: “And…eh…can you tell me what you do exactly? Not that I want to be too curious, but you’re my boyfriend and you leave every morning and I have no idea where you go.”

“Penguin.”

“Yes?”

“No, not you. I work at the Penguin Group.”

“The Penguin Group?” Ricky raised his eyebrows. “As in the big publishing house?”

“Yes.” Alfie didn’t show any sign of emotions.

“But…that’s a real job. You are working at a publishing house! At the publishing house! That is…that’s great!”

“Whatever.” Alfie got up, he started to feel uncomfortable know. At least his penguin was happy again.

“We have to celebrate.”

“No.”

“Yes!” Ricky jumped up. “I’m going to cook something for you and-“

“I’m not hungry.”

“I don’t care!” Ricky ran to his boyfriend and Alfie felt his arms around him, hugging him tightly. “I’m so proud of you.”

“It’s no big deal.” Alfie rolled his eyes. “God, I wish I wouldn’t have told you.”

“I’m glad you did.” Ricky smiled at him, and it was that smile that made Alfie’s heart beat faster.

He cleared his throat. “Don’t even think about making a big deal out of this, because it’s not”, he grumbled, but Ricky wasn’t listening to him anymore. Well, his penguin was happy, and that was all that mattered.


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321 Re: Growing Up on 13th July 2013, 14:42

The O’Dohertys had just come back Ellen had mentioned to Jo that some important post had arrived during their absence so Jo went quickly down to her office to get it and look through it. She was on the way back upstairs when she saw the file. It was a file that she had not expected.
 
“Hey Liam? I know we are still looking for one teacher to have a better ratio but I didn’t see this coming did he mention anything to you?” Jo said as she walked into their flat.
 
“Um no? Who? Mention what?” Liam was sitting down the girls for some afternoon snack.
 
“James McAlister, Alfie’s school friend.”
 
“What? He wants to work here?”
 
“Yes I remember that Ricky told me that he asked many questions about the school and now he send this file full of letters of recommendations, records of his class statistics, observations of his teaching, a letter of application and lots of other stuff. Liam look at it.” Jo put the other letters down on the table and handed Liam James’ file. Jo sat down next to Jane who was eating with a very serious face her fruit plate it made Jo giggle.
 
“This is actually a really good file. He seems to be a very good teacher. And you said he was interested in Waterfall Downs?” Liam read the file, there were even letters from James’ students.
 
“Yes. Do you think we should call him? He is staying in the town flat. He stayed in Oxford all summer for no reason; I think he was planning this application.” Jo put some cucumber slices on Jill’s plate which she happy started eating.
 
“Yes I think we should call him.”
 
“Okay, I will do that. Can you check the other mail in the mean time? Make sure none of our students have troubles coming for the new term. I later also need to call Dan he is still alone with the boys, I don’t like that. Do you think you could give Mission Force a call to find out where Lorelai and John are?”
 
“Sure I can give it a try, but no promises.” Liam read one letter. “We got another donation from one of the students’ parents. And maintains are coming tomorrow to check the pools heating system to make sure that it is functional for the winter. And the pet zoo food supplier suggests adjusting the food deliveries we are getting.” Even though when Liam and Jo were talking about school business it was never that they ordered each other around. They were a team of headmasters and they both were glad that they were because they were still young. Jo kissed Jane on top of her head and got up to call James.
 
“Okay sounds good.” Jo smiled as she dialled James’ number.
 
“Hello this is Missis Jo O’Doherty. Sorry for the late response we were on holidays. So we received your application.”
 
“I hope you had a good time?”
 
“Yes it was very good, listen we are interested in you as a teacher but there are still some obstacles to overcome. We had some troubles before with teachers so we have a different way of screening new personal, any personal. So how about you come around and we talk?”
 
“That sounds fair. Are you busy right now?”
 
“No we are just having a small afternoon snack but sure you can come around.”
 
“I’ll be there in a little bit, see you later. And thank you for this opportunity.”
 
Jo smiled. “Okay see you later.” She hung up and turned to Liam. “It is okay that he said he would come right away isn’t it?”
 
“Yep. School does start in two weeks so if we hire him he needs to prepare. He is a geography and PE teacher that is good. Both subject we have not well covered. PE was covered by all of us and geography was well the same we all tried our best but he actually study Geography and sport so that is good. Okay so before he comes do you want to shower and I watch the girls?”
 
“No I think I’m okay.” Jo smiled she would be looking forward for a real PE teacher to arrive. She didn’t like the classes of exercise she taught the children. Jo didn’t sit back down next to Jane but climbed on Liam’s lap. “I love you.”
 
Liam grinned and kissed his wife. “It will help with the new arriving students.”
 
Jo giggled as she snuggled against Liam’s shoulder and watched their daughters something she really loved to do. They both had gotten a slight summer taint and looked very refreshed, very happy. Jane was sorting her fruit and vegetable pieces into an order only she understood while he sister just picked on and ate it. “Do you think they should start nursery yet? Edward and Henry had started before the girls’ age. I don’t want them to miss out on educational opportunities and maybe they like to meet other children their age, but at the same time I don’t want them to feel as if we hand them away.”


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322 Re: Growing Up on 14th July 2013, 17:13

Liam looked at his beautiful daughters, Jane still sorting the fruit while Jill was eating it, almost too quickly, so that Jo had to tell her to slow down a bit, she didn’t want Jill to choke on her fruit.
“I’m sure they don’t think that we hand them away, but I worry a bit about Jane. I think Jill would be okay, but I can’t picture Jane in a nursery yet. Lor’s boys are very different from the girls, I think they were more mature, and well, they are boys, and boys are more confident when it comes to new environments. Not all the time, but very often.”

Jo was quiet for a moment. “Yes, I was thinking about Jane as well. I think she’s not ready yet, and we can’t just send her sister to a nursery and she has to stay here, so either both go, or both stay here.”

“So should we wait until they are a bit older, and maybe Jane a bit more confident?”

Jo nodded. “Yes, I think so too. I was thinking about the nursery and if they are ready, but I think Jane isn’t yet, and they are just about a year old, so we don’t have any pressure to find a nursery yet, but we can start looking.”

“Sounds good.” Liam smiled at his wife first, then at his little ginger girls.

A bit later James arrived in Waterfall Downs. Liam had both girls close to him while Jo held the paper work ready. Jo greeted him friendly and led him to the living room, where Liam and the girls were.

“I hope you don’t mind that our daughters are here, but it’s not their nap time and they wouldn’t sleep anyway, so they have to be with us, otherwise Jill will cry for attention if we keep her alone in her room.”

“That’s no problem”, James said, smiling at Liam and the pretty little ladies next to him.

“You don’t have any children, do you?”, Jo asked.

“Me? No. I wish I had, but never the right partner or time. I have four younger sisters, though.”

“Wow, so you know a lot more about little girls than I do”, Liam said.

“Don’t worry, you’ll get used to them”, James chuckled. “And all their moods.”

“Oh, I can’t wait.” He tousled Jill’s hair who grinned cheeky at her daddy.

Jo and James sat down on the couch. “We’re in desperate need of a PE teacher, we’re all a rather bad excuse for PE teachers, so your application was perfect timing.”

“I’m glad. As much as I love my home, it was time to get out of there, you know? I mean, there’s just not much to do in the middle of Scotland’s nowhere and I never wanted to take over the family business, I always preferred teaching and being around children. The oldest of my sisters will take over the distillery, she’s looking forward to it, but my parents are both still very fit for their age, so they won’t retire anytime soon, and they both have nothing against me being a teacher.”

Jo smiled. “That’s nice. I figured there isn’t much work in the Scottish highlands, besides cattle farms and distilleries.”

“Yes, and I kind of lived here in Oxford more than in Scotland, so this is as much a home for me than Scotland, I just refuse to drop the accent.”

Jo grinned and looked over to her husband. “I know someone else like that.”

“I sound weird if I try to speak English”, Liam replied cynically.

“I know, and I never want you to speak like everyone else around here”, his wife said, then she turned to James. “So…eh…James…or do you prefer Mr McAlister?”

“God, no, that makes me feel old. James is okay.”

“Perfect. You can call us Jo and Liam, we prefer to go by first names too.”

Nobody had noticed Jane’s face while her mom was talking to that man Jane didn’t know. There was something about this young man that caught her interest. Before James came into the living room, she almost fell asleep in her dad’s lap, but the moment she saw him, she suddenly was wide awake, and while he talked to her mom, Jane’s blue eyes watched him carefully. Suddenly, she got up on her little feet, much to her parents’ surprise because Jane didn’t really like to walk, but there she was, standing on her little legs, looking straight ahead, and then she walked right towards James. Jo and James immediately stopped with their conversation and Liam held his breath, because this just never happened, but then she surprised her parents even more. She looked at James and actually tried to climb up, but she was too little, so she stretched her small hand out to him, and James, as if he had always been around little toddler girls, leaned forward and gently lifted her up on his lap, smiling warmly at her. Jane looked at him with her big blue eyes, she didn’t even blink, then she very carefully touched his cheek. Liam and Jo just stared at them and couldn’t believe what happened.
“Aren’t you the prettiest little girl I have ever seen?” James looked friendly at Jane. “With eyes as blue as the ocean.”

“That…what…why…how?!” Liam’s jaw dropped.

“Oh, sorry, shouldn’t I have taken her?”, James asked, a bit insecure now.

“No, no, that’s okay”, Jo said quickly. “But we’re just…that…that never happened before. I mean Jane. She is very shy and she doesn’t trust any strangers, and that…she never even did that with people she knows.”

“So I guess she’s not scared of me then?” James looked down at Jane who started to look sleepy. She leaned her head against his chest, her breathing became even.

“One can say that…”, Jo mumbled, still unable to believe what just happened, but there she was, little Jane, falling asleep in a stranger’s arms.


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323 Re: Growing Up on 14th July 2013, 19:10

Jo couldn’t stop starring at her daughter. Jill was sitting next to Liam on the floor playing with her little tea set. She and Jane really liked having tea parties with her mommy so Jo got them a miniature tea set and they had several tea parties a day. Jo had expected Jill to trust James but Jane.
 
“Okay so um… where were we? You studied Geography and English right?”

“Yes and also sport physiology. I enjoy teaching children how to be active in ways they enjoy it without overdoing it.”
 
Liam kept watching Jane with hawk eyes, yes James seemed to be a good guy but the last time someone was so interested in them they had to fire the men because he had inappropriate pictures of students. “Do you like looking at little children without close? Does it arouse you?”
 
“What?” James looked at Liam a little shocked.
 
“We had a teacher here and you said you love being with children so, do you?” Liam looked nearly angry at James.
 
“Liam!” Jo protested.
 
“No, no Jo it is okay. He is right he is just protecting his students and daughters. No I am not. I love children but I would never ever hurt a child not even by looking at them in the wrong way. I want to teach them to guide them to become respectful adults.”
 
“James do you mind watching the girls for a minute I need to talk to Liam.” Jo smiled apologetic.
 
“Sure. Hey Jill could I have a cup of tea?” James smiled at Jill and for a moment it looked like Jill would say no but then she grinned and nodded. She picked up her tea pot and cups and went over to James to pour him some tea. Jo and Liam went into the hallway.
 
“Okay I think he is a perfect match for the school Liam. He is from a humbled background but grew up in Oxford and knows what it means to work hard. He is a good man.”
 
“You are saying this because Jane is sitting on his lap.”
 
“Well yeah, she never trusts strangers and there she is sitting on his lap. Liam he is a good man.” Jo looked and her husband, she knew what was going on. She knew the moment Jane got up and walked towards James. “It doesn’t mean she doesn’t need you anymore, she still adores you and you are her daddy it just means we got closer one step for her to be ready to go to nursery. Liam Jane needs to do those steps, she needs to gain confidence or she will still live at home when she is forty and as much as I love her I would like to spend the rest of my live with you and not with you and our daughter.”
 
“Are you interested in James?” Liam looked at his wife.
 
“What?”
 
“He has an accents is not tall has blue eyes and brown hair and an accent. Do you like him?”
 
“No not in this way. I am in love with you but when our daughter can trust him so can I. Remember how the girls were with Mr Douglas? They were terrified of him.” Jo saw that Liam was dying to punch James in the face. She smiled and curled up into Liam’s arms. “I swear I am interested in him as a teacher and not a man.” Jo kissed Liam not the way she did when she wanted to have sex but the way to tell him that she loved him. “You are the man I love.”
 
Liam was quite for a while but then nodded. “Okay we hire him but I want that all new hired teacher are on probation for six month and I worked out a system that the students grade the teachers so we know who is good and who is not. We have the smartest children here we need teacher that suit their needs.”
 
“Okay that sounds fair. And it is good now we have a backup English teacher when I am unavailable.”
 
“Yes.” Liam brushed Jo’s hair out of her face. “I gonna miss having you all to myself.”
 
Jo grinned. “I know, but I also know that you love teaching your students. So do you want to tell James that he is hired?”
 
Liam took Jo’s hand and together they went back into the living room. “oaky James listen you are hired but with the new term starting we decided all teacher will be for six months on probation. And there is a new system to evaluate all teacher, the students will on a regular basis grade teachers. Here this are the terms of the employment and do you have a place to stay or do you want to stay at Cork House, the house in which we have several flats for teachers. It is on the grounds you might have seen it, that large red clinker house behind the pool.”
 
“That sounds fair. I think I prefer staying on the grounds if that is okay?”
 
“Yes then you income will change a little bit, the rent is very low but still fair.”
 
“Sounds good.  The term starts in two weeks right?”
 
“Yes but the boarding students come back next week so we would appreciate if you move in as soon as possible.” Jo smiled. “So that you know your way around and the student will meet you.”
 
James grinned. “Ace, I will see that I get a car to move my things and then I travel back to Scotland to proper move here.”
 
“I can go and show you the available flats?” Jo offered.
 
“Oh I’m sure it will be fine. I just need one bedroom, nothing special.”
 
All three adults went to some small talk before James excused himself to get his move sorted. Jane was asleep on the blanket in the corner where all their toys were. Jill started rubbing her eyes.
 
“Munchkin I think you need to lie down too.” Jo whispered.
 
“No mommy. No sleepy.” Jill whispered but was already snuggling against her mother’s chest. Jo giggled and held her daughter while she leaned against Liam’s shoulder.
 
“So this went well, we have got all our teachers thanks to Graham we got a music teacher that is incredible and now we’ve got James, more students and really good curriculum. This will be a good year I know it.”
 
“It will be.” Liam wrapped his arm around his wife and watched Jill fall asleep.
 
“Thank you.” Jo mumbled.
 
“For what?” Liam was reading one of his scientific journals.
 
“For being awesome and building this live with me.” Jo looked up and met Liam’s gaze.
 
“It is a pretty good life.” Liam grinned cheeky at his wife. He pushed up Jo gently so that he could carry Jill to the blanket next to Jane not to close though. He knew both girls preferred to have their space. Teddy lied down close by just to make sure his little girls (or puppies as he saw them) were okay. Liam checked that the dog was not lying on his girls but then went back to the couch. Jo was working on menus and what they needed to buy in what week so that the school chef could prepare all meals including snacks. As always Jo made sure that the meals would be tasty and healthy at the same time and still have some treats. Liam grinned and kissed his wife. “You are lovely you know that right?”
 
Jo grinned and pulled Liam on the couch while her papers slipped to the floor. “I do. The girls will sleep for about forty-five minutes how about we go to the bedroom, or you know in one of our offices and play teacher and student. I’ve got some new uniforms for me… Sir.” Jo whispered seductively.


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324 Re: Growing Up on 15th July 2013, 15:46

Nervousness was an understatement of how Ricky just felt. He felt sick while he was sitting in the tiny living room of his parents’ house. Ricky didn’t feel well at all. Alfie was mad at him and hadn’t talked to him since yesterday evening. Usually, Ricky always kissed him before his boyfriend woke up, but this time Alfie got up a lot earlier than usual and left the flat without saying good bye. Of course Alfie’s silent treatment had a reason. Ricky was at his parents’ house today because he wanted to tell his father the truth. Ricky just couldn’t lie to him anymore, it really hurt lying to him every time his father kept talking about the sons of his hunting buddies, who all got married now and started to have their own families, and Tom Butcher constantly had to tell his friends that his son didn’t even have a girlfriend yet. Ricky loved his dad, and although he knew that he was probably the biggest disappointment of a son, he had to come clean and tell him why he didn’t have a girlfriend, and that he wouldn’t get married. Ricky had felt free after he told his mother the truth, but he also knew that his mother was a lot more understanding. He was scared of his dad’s reaction, but he wanted to go through with this- much to Alfie’s dismay. Alfie told Ricky that he thought it was a stupid idea, and he made clear that he didn’t want Ricky to go through with this. Ricky asked him why he didn’t want him to do it, but Alfie was acting all weird, saying something like this could end their relationship and his dad would probably go public with it and make sure Ricky would break up with Alfie and things like that. Ricky didn’t believe that and tried to convince Alfie that this wouldn’t happen, but Alfie stopped listening to him and gave him the silent treatment after that. Last night he slept far on his side of the bed, his back turned towards Ricky, and when Ricky wanted to curl up next to him, Alfie just moved even further away. And this morning he left without saying a word.
Ricky sat on the old couch and sighed. He couldn’t understand why Alfie had been so harsh to him. All he wanted to do was to be honest to his dad and stop with the lies, but apparently Alfie had an issue with honesty.

“Are you all right, honey?” Emily came into the living room and handed her son a cup of tea.

Ricky smiled weakly. “Thanks, Mom, I’m fine.” He hadn’t told her what he planned today. She had no idea. “So…eh…is Dad coming?”

“Yes, he’s just getting changed, he just came home from work and his clothes were all dirty.”

Ricky nodded quietly, trying not to look too nervous, but it was hard hiding it, and his mother knew him well enough to sense that something was up.

“Is there something bothering you, Ricky? Did you and Mr…eh…Alfred have a fight?”

“No, that’s not it.” Well, technically they sort of had a fight yesterday and his boyfriend refused to talk to him ever since, but that was really not the reason Ricky felt sick to his stomach. “Mom, I-“

“Here I am, nice and clean, just like you wanted.” Tom Butcher came into the living room and put his hand on his wife’s shoulder for a moment, then he looked at his son. “Hello, Ricky, we haven’t seen you in a while.”

“I…eh…I was really busy”, Ricky said.

“That’s okay, at least you’ve got a decent job.” His father sat down on the couch across from him. He didn’t say it often, but he was really proud what Ricky had accomplished all by himself.

Ricky smiled, almost pathetically. He felt dizzy, that’s how nervous he was.

“Any specific reason you stopped by today?”, Tom asked while he took a sip of his black coffee. He wasn’t that much of a tea drinker, unlike his wife and son.

“I…ehm…no…eh…just…”

“You know Matthew’s son, Matty Junior?”

“What?”

“You know Matty! You went to school together.”

“Yes, I know him, but why is that important?”

“He became a father a few days ago”, Tom Butcher said. “Twin boys.”

Ricky knew what his father wanted to point out, and he took a deep breath. “There’s something I have to tell you.” He looked at his father now, and only his father. Emily seemed to guess where this was heading, and she grew pale.

“Okay…” Her husband seemed a bit confused. “Did you get anyone pregnant?” He let out a dry laugh, but neither his wife nor his son laughed. “I guess not, then…” He took another sip of his coffee.

“Dad…” Ricky felt like his heart would jump out of his chest any moment. God, this was so hard. “I…I will not get anyone pregnant, not now, and not ever.”

It was quiet for a moment, then his father cleared his throat. “Why? Did the doctor say there’s something wrong with your sperm?”

This was awkward, talking with his father about sperm. Normally, Ricky would have blushed, but right now he felt so sick that he was just pale, similar to his mother, who looked like she was about to faint. Ricky avoided looking at her.
“No.” He took another deep breath. “I…I…like men, Dad. And not any men, one man, and he’s…he’s the love of my life. And I’m neither mentally ill nor in any way confused. I know that I love this man, I know it, just like you know that you love Mom, and nothing is going to change that.”

Silence.
Emily looked like she was about to cry, but Ricky looked straight at his dad, who didn’t show any single emotion. Ricky had no idea what he was thinking right now, he looked like he was frozen.
“Dad?”


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325 Re: Growing Up on 16th July 2013, 22:08

On the other side of Oxford Jo was sitting in the fire room. It was a nice cosy large living room like room with a huge fire place. The twins had with Edward and Henry a tea party on the small coffee table. Jo had gotten them a miniature tea set and had asked the cook to bake some mini cupcakes. The boys were actually having a good time with the girls while Jo and Lor were cuddled up on the couch both had a giant cup of sweet milky tea.

“I still can’t believe you left Dan and the little ones alone for over a month.”
 
“I had no chance. I had to, we had to.” Lorelai mumbles watching her younger sons. Dan was in a tutoring session with a younger student.
 
“Dan is quiet about how you came home and we didn’t have time to see each other so?” Jo looked curious at her cousin. Lorelai chuckled.
 
“It was late at night three days after school started. And I’m sorry that he was tired those first days. He was freaking out a little.”
 
“Lor! You are stalling.”
 
“Just a little. So Dan had put the boys to bed and was sitting by himself in the living room doing his homework. But I saw that he wasn’t concentrated, he kept checking the clock on the mantelpiece. John had came through the front door while I was standing there watching my oldest son through the living room glass door. It was perfect and still something was missing. And then I couldn’t wait any long I wanted to see this boy see happy smiling again, so I gently tapped the glass. He looked up at first scared but then this strong face melted away and he started crying. My big boy cried the way Edward cries when he cannot play a piece. He unlocked this door so fast that he nearly broke it and just ran into my arms like a little child, like a boy that knew I could fix everything. For a long time he just was in my arm crying and grasping my jacket. Mumbling words I could not understand. I manage to push him far enough in the room so that I could close the door behind me. John had checked the boys upstairs and signalled me that they were fine. Dan on the other hand not so much. Honestly he looked like you when you had one of your panic attacks last summer, it was really bad. It took me nearly forty-five minutes to calm him down. I took him up to his room and that night I slept on his armchair in his room. He woke up every couple of minutes searching for me. He was a wreck all weekend but after the first night he was slowly getting better. He did not freak out every time I left the room and by Monday morning he was ready to go to school.”
 
“He was still pretty shaken up Lor.”
 
“I know…” Lorelai looked at the children Jane was trying to teach Henry how to spread his little finger when he drunk but it was not straight enough in her eyes yet. All four were busy with each other and did not pay attention to the adults. “… We were meant to be back after two weeks but then stuff happened and we got stuck. It was not safe to come back home.” For a moment Lorelai’s eyes rested on Jo, and Jo understood and remembered the night she got taken. “He said you helped him a lot, came over every couple of days to make sure he was okay. Thanksfor that. I suggested he should have just moved over here but he said he needed to do it himself. And he did a wonderful job, Henry still collects any picture of men and boys and gives it to Dan because he likes looking at them as Henry puts it. Edward once in a while asks if he has a boyfriend yet and tells him that he could invite him for dinner he would play something for the boy. I mean as bad as it was to leave them for so long alone it made them grow tightly together. They are now truly brothers.”
 
“Do you know when you have to go next?”
 
“No I don’t but I said I am not available before Christmas. I need to be with my boys.”
 
“That is good.” Jo leaned her head against Lorelai’s shoulders and chuckled as Jane tried to bend the finger of Henry in the right position. Just then the door opened. “Missis Jo, Mutti? Can I come in?”
 
Lorelai looked at Jo and then laughed. “Sure come on in Dan. It’s your school after all.”
 
“There are some friends, we just thought sitting at the fire and spending some time with the tins would be nice.” Dan looked a little shy at Jo.
 
“Come on in, we have enough tea for everyone and I’m sure the girls will share their cakes.” Jo smiled at the small group of children come in. They all said hello and were slowly coming in, Lorelai’s boys were well know at Waterfall Downs and the tea parties this year well Jane and Jill had found their passion and their tea parties were just as amazing as the one of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. “Look at this my English class is stalking me.” Jo laughed it didn’t take long and one of her students had gotten out a book at they were reading out loud. It was a very nice afternoon. Jo just missed Liam to hold her then it would be perfect.


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