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"Don't worry, it's going to be fine." Galen said assuringly.
"I really shouldn't be here. This time should be for you and your son." Marc said quietly.
"We've already been through all this. Pretending that we're not a couple isn't going to make anything any easier. It'll just take that much longer for Collin to accept the way things are now." Galen said with concern at Marc's apprehension.
"But what if he doesn't want to accept the way things are? What if he sees me as a home wrecker? What if he thinks I'm the one who caused his parents to get divorced?" Marc asked in a worried tone.
"If that happens I'll explain things to him. Please give him a chance to accept you before you give up." Galen said as he turned the car into the airport parking lot.
After a long moment of silence between them, Marc finally said, "I'll try. But if it's obvious that he can't accept me, I'm going to stay in a hotel so you two can enjoy your holiday together."
Galen got out of the car, then said, "Marc, we're living in your house. If we can't work things out any other way, I'll take Collin to a hotel."
Marc shook his head and said, "It's our house. And I don't think I could stand being there without you."
Galen walked to Marc's side and said, "Then I guess we'll just have to stick it out together."
"I guess so." Marc said quietly.
"Come on. His flight should be landing any minute." Galen said with a smile.
* * * * *
"I'm here to pick up my son, Collin Anderson." Galen said to the flight attendant at the desk.
"Let me see... there he is, the passengers are still deplaning, so it might be a minute. If you'll just show me your ID and sign here you'll be ready to go." The flight attendant said professionally.
Galen produced his ID, then signed where he was told to.
"Thank you Mr. Anderson, your son should be off the plane any minute." The flight attendant said and finished with a false smile that said, 'We're done. Move.'
"Let's wait for him by the windows." Galen said to Marc at his side.
Marc nodded and followed apprehensively.
* * * * *
"There he is. He must have sat all the way in the back." Galen said speculatively.
Marc strained to look where Galen was pointing and finally found Collin among the passengers leaving the plane.
"Come on." Galen said, as he patted Marc on the shoulder.
Marc forced himself to start walking as he felt the apprehension gnawing in his stomach.
* * * * *
"Collin! Over here!" Galen called out as he approached his son.
"Dad?" Collin called in return as he searched for the source of the voice.
A moment later, Galen was able to work his way through the flow of passengers and came face to face with his son.
Marc slowed his pace as Collin spotted his father and ran to hug him.
"How are you doing? Is everything alright?" Galen asked with concern at his son's uncharacteristic warm greeting.
"Everything is great." Collin said, as he hugged his father tightly, then he quickly said, "Come over here, there's someone I want you to meet."
"Okay..." Galen said, uncertainly.
Collin took his father by the arm and began to pull him away, then suddenly stopped.
"You too Marc. There's someone I want you to meet." Collin said happily.
Marc smiled with relief as he hurried to Galen and Collin's sides.
"Christian, this is my dad, Galen, and this is his boyfriend, Marc." Collin said in an excited, yet somewhat formal tone.
Galen and Marc were both surprised by Collin's willingness to introduce them as boyfriends.
"It's nice to meet you, I'm Christian." the young teenager said with a timid smile.
Marc smiled in return, but noticed something in Christian's expression. He couldn't pin down exactly what it was, but there was something like worry barely hiding behind Christian's smile.
"I invited Christian to come over to visit us during the Christmas holiday, that's okay isn't it?" Collin asked hopefully.
"I don't know..." Galen began to say as he looked at Marc with question.
Marc saw the anxiety flare in Christian's expression for an instant before he expertly hid it.
"I think that would be fine." Marc said, as he turned and looked Galen in the eyes.
"Are you sure?" Galen asked hesitantly.
"Yes." Marc said definitely, then turned his full attention back to Christian.
Marc reached into his chest pocket and pulled out a business card then said, "This has my work, home and cell phone numbers on it. Just call us as soon as you're ready to come over to visit and I'll come and get you."
Christian accepted the card and cautiously asked, "When is it okay to call? Should I wait until the weekend?"
Marc looked at Christian's anxious expression carefully as he considered, then said, "No, you don't have to wait unless you want to. Just call whenever you're ready and I'll be there."
"Thanks." Christian said with a hopeful smile and carefully put the business card into his pocket.
"Would you like for us to wait here with you until your father comes?" Collin asked hopefully.
"No. It would probably be better if you didn't. It's not that I don't want you to meet him, but he's usually in a pretty bad mood from the airport traffic and stuff." Christian said cautiously.
"Call soon." Collin said quietly.
Christian smiled gently and said, "I will. I promise."
Collin and Christian looked at each other, both obviously wanting to say something more, but also both aware that they were in the middle of a busy airport arrival gate.
"Come on Collin, we need to be going." Galen said as he put his hand on his son's shoulder.
"Yeah." Collin said reluctantly, then turned to Christian and said, "Bye."
Christian shook his head and said, "Later."
Collin broke into a smile and said, "Yeah. Later."
* * * * *
"This is all you brought?" Galen asked as they retrieved Collin's luggage.
"Yeah. I don't need much." Collin said dismissively.
"Well, at least we won't need to rent a cart to haul it." Galen said as he picked up his son's suitcase.
"I can carry it Dad." Collin said seriously.
"I don't mind. Come on, let's get out of here." Galen said as he started walking.
"Did you have a good flight?" Marc asked Collin hesitantly, just trying to make some kind of conversation.
"Yeah, it was totally awesome." Collin said with a glow of happiness.
Marc shared a surprised look with Galen at Collin's ebullient response.
"Is it really going to be okay if Christian comes over? I know I should have asked you before I invited him but, well... is it okay?" Collin asked apprehensively.
Before Galen could answer, Marc said, "It's fine, Collin. I'm glad you'll have a friend to spend time with while you're here."
Galen considered Marc's words for a moment, then nodded his agreement.
"Thank you, both of you." Collin said as he moved between Marc and Galen and put his arms around both of them.
"Still worried about him accepting you?" Galen asked with a chuckle.
"Not as much now."
* * * * *
"Here, ours is over here." Marc said as they walked through the rows of cars in the parking garage.
"Which one?" Collin asked curiously.
"The blue one." Marc said, then waited for Collin's reaction.
"The really really old one?" Collin asked uncertainly.
"That's the one. But I prefer to call it a classic." Marc said with a smile.
"Oh, um. Yeah... is it safe?" Collin asked uncertainly.
"Is it safe? You have enough metal in this car to build six modern cars and you'd have enough left over to build a lawn storage shed." Marc said frankly.
Collin considered that as Marc opened the trunk.
"Holy crap! A family of six could live in here." Collin said as he looked at the huge trunk.
"Pretty much." Marc said with a smile as he took Collin's suitcase and put it into the trunk.
"Now for the down side of owning a classic. Backing this barge out of a parking space." Galen said as he walked to the driver's side of the car.
"Why don't I drive us home so you can spend time with your son?" Marc asked seriously.
"Sure. No argument here. I really love driving this car, but it's so big that I hate trying to back it out." Galen said as he handed the keys to Marc.
"It's all part of the fun." Marc said with a grin, then glanced at Collin and said, "Get in so we can get going."
Collin opened the back door and climbed into the car.
* * * * *
"I don't think I've ever been in a car this big before." Collin said as he put on his seat belt.
Rather than respond to Collin's statement, Marc started the engine.
Collin's mouth fell open as he felt as well as heard the rumble of the car's engine.
"That's a 450." Galen said over his shoulder.
"I always set off a few car alarms when I start it up." Marc said with a chuckle as he shifted into reverse.
"I never really cared too much about cars... but maybe that's because I was never in one like this before." Collin said as he felt the vibration of the engine coursing through his body.
"Well, not all the cars were like this back in the 60's. This one's been souped up a little to emphasize some of the finer points." Galen said as he watched Marc carefully maneuvering the car out of the parking place.
"I just know that I love it! This car is great!" Collin said happily.
"The best is yet to come." Marc said as he finally finished backing out.
Collin looked at Marc in the rear view mirror curiously, but didn't ask what he meant.
"Remember to hold her back until we get out of the airport." Galen said carefully.
"I'll do my best." Marc said with a smirk.
* * * * *
"So Collin, are you hungry or sleepy or anything?" Galen asked his son as he looked into the back seat.
Collin considered for a moment before answering, "I guess I'm a little bit hungry. All I had was some peanuts on the plane."
"How about we take you to the house to drop off your luggage, then we can go out to a restaurant?" Marc asked casually.
"Sure, I guess." Collin said uncertainly.
"Is there something else you'd rather do?" Galen asked cautiously at his son's lukewarm response.
"Well, I've been running and going and doing all day so I really don't feel much like going out. But if you want to go out, it's not a big deal." Collin said hesitantly.
"Truth be told, I don't feel much like going out either. I just wanted to do something special to welcome you." Marc said seriously.
Collin smiled and said, "You don't have to do anything like that for me. I'd feel a lot better if we could just relax somewhere quiet for a while."
"Then it's settled. When we get to the house I'll make us all something to eat." Galen said cheerfully.
Marc looked at Galen with concern, but restrained his objections and dutifully turned his attention to the road before him.
"I saw that." Galen said playfully to Marc at his side.
Marc glanced at Galen with question.
"You just gave me that 'Oh God! He's going to try to cook' look." Galen said with a chuckle.
"Can you cook?" Collin asked cautiously from the back seat.
Galen looked at his son and said, "Not very well. I never had to cook before so I'm just learning. I'm sure I'll be able to open a can of something... But I'd really like to be the one to fix your first meal with us."
Collin smiled and said, "Thanks Dad. That sounds nice."
Marc glanced in his rear view mirror at Collin and saw the loving smile directed at Galen.
As Marc guided the car into the driveway of their house, he felt that things might actually work out.
* * * * *
"If you'll show Collin his room, I'm going to get dinner started." Galen said as he lifted Collin's suitcase out of the trunk of the car.
"I could help you if you want." Marc offered cautiously.
Galen smiled at the offer and said, "Maybe next time. It's kind of important to me to do this."
Marc nodded that he understood, then moved toward Galen to give him a quick kiss.
Galen automatically responded to the movement, but before he could kiss Marc, he turned to see his son watching them.
Galen flashed Marc an apologetic look, then turned toward the house.
An expression of disappointment ghosted over Marc's face, but then he noticed that Collin had picked up his suitcase and was waiting patiently.
"Come on Collin. I'll show you where to put that." Marc said as he began to walk toward the house.
* * * * *
"This is your room, the bathroom is over there." Marc said as he led the way into the room, then stood aside.
Collin looked around and said, "This is really nice. I didn't know what to expect when I left home. I kinda thought that I'd be sleeping on the couch."
"Nope. You get a queen sized bed and a room that's all your own. You can even put up posters and get some things to fix it up if you want. Even when you have to go home, we're going to keep this room just for you." Marc said cautiously as he watched for Collin's reaction.
Collin put his suitcase on the bed, then turned to face Marc and said, "Thanks Marc. I appreciate you being so nice to me."
Marc was taken aback by the sincere thanks and gently smiled as he responded, "Thank you too Collin. I've been really nervous about you coming to visit."
"Me too." Collin admitted shyly, then continued, "But seeing my dad happy makes all the difference."
Marc's curious look prompted Collin to continue.
"I never knew that Dad was unhappy while he was with Mom. I just thought that he was always kind of serious and a little bit grumpy. That's just the way he was."
Marc slowly nodded that he understood.
"Now I can see that he's happy and he's like a real person now... a whole person. He's a lot more relaxed and I feel like he's somebody that I want to get to know... does that make any sense?" Collin finished uncertainly.
Marc smiled and said, "Yes Collin. It makes perfect sense. Would you like to see the rest of the house before we have dinner?"
* * * * *
"Well, the kitchen is through that door, but I don't want to interrupt your father. He might think we're checking up on him." Marc said in a conspiratorial whisper.
"I'll see it later." Collin said gently.
"Next to the kitchen is the dining room." Marc said as he gestured at the open doorway.
Collin peeked into the room, then looked at Marc expectantly.
"We usually eat in the kitchen. I think we'll have Christmas dinner in the dining room, but that's probably the only time we'll be in there." Marc said casually, then gestured absently as he said, "Stairs."
Collin glanced at the staircase, then followed Marc across the hall to another doorway.
"The door at the end of the hall is the garage and this is the living room." Marc said as he stood by the door.
Collin looked into the living room and noticed that there was a Christmas tree set up, but it didn't have any decorations on it.
"Your father thought it would be nice for us to do the decorating together." Marc said quietly.
Collin smiled and said, "Yeah, that does sound nice."
"I think that's about it. You can unpack or relax in here until dinner." Marc said in an uncertain tone.
"Where is your room?" Collin asked cautiously.
"Upstairs. We have a suite of rooms up there." Marc said casually.
Collin looked around the living room and finally settled into place on the love seat.
"Would you like to watch some TV?" Marc asked uncertainly.
"Not really. After all the airports and planes and stuff today, the quiet is nice." Collin said honestly.
"I can understand that. Can I get you a drink or anything? I think we have hot chocolate..." Marc said uncertainly.
"Marc. I like you." Collin said as he looked up into Marc's eyes.
"What?" Marc responded automatically to the seeming non sequitor.
Collin stood and faced Marc before saying, "You don't have to try so hard. I already like you."
"Thanks Collin." Marc said in a flustered voice, "I guess I'm still a little nervous about you being here and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing."
"I'm not sure either. But you being all stressed out isn't helping." Collin said honestly.
"I'll try to lighten up." Marc said quietly.
"Maybe this will help." Collin said, then pulled Marc into a hug.
After a moment of hesitation, Marc slowly put his arms around Collin and gently held him.
"I've been thinking about it and, if you wanted, we could try to be a family." Collin said as he continued to hold Marc firmly.
Marc hugged Collin a little bit tighter as he thought about the words.
"I mean, you don't have to... but I thought it might be nice..." Collin trailed off uncertainly.
"I've always wanted a family. I just never thought it could happen." Marc whispered.
Collin looked up to see tears in Marc's eyes.
He resumed his hug full force.
After a long moment, Marc finally said, "Thanks Collin."
Collin's only response was to nod into Marc's chest.
Marc finally released Collin from the hug and smiled down at his lover's son who had accepted him so completely.
* * * * *
"How are you guys doing?" Galen asked as he walked into the living room carrying a platter.
"We're fine." Marc said with an honest smile directed at Collin.
"It's going to be a little while before dinner is ready so I decided to bring you something to snack on." Galen said as he placed the platter on the coffee table.
Collin looked at the platter curiously. There was an assortment of crackers surrounding... something white. It was sort of creamy looking with pink and green things mixed into it.
"What is it?" Marc asked cautiously.
"Please just try it before you judge it." Galen said hopefully.
Marc hesitantly took one of the crackers, then scooped up a little of the white stuff.
Collin watched Marc's expression carefully, knowing that he would say it was good even if it was hideous.
Marc slowly considered the flavor, then looked to Galen and said, "This is really good."
Collin couldn't tell if Marc was being honest or just acting like it was edible.
Galen smiled with accomplishment, then looked at Collin hopefully.
Collin dutifully took a cracker and scooped up some white stuff.
It took a moment for the taste to register, but he was surprised to find that he actually liked it.
"This is really great! What is it?" Collin asked as he reached down to the platter to get some more.
"Soft cream cheese with some chopped up ham and green onions." Galen said with a smile at his son's reaction.
"That's it? For such a simple recipe it has a fantastic flavor." Marc said as he waited for Collin to finish so he could get another cracker.
"One of the ladies I work with was talking about how much better this is than buying a cheese log." Galen said with pride.
After a moment to finish his cracker, Collin said, "I'm glad she did. This is really good."
"If you're going to be cooking like this, I may just let you take over the kitchen." Marc said, then popped the next cracker into his mouth.
"I don't think I'm ready for that yet, but I wouldn't mind sharing the kitchen with you." Galen said with a loving grin at Marc.
Marc gave a shy smile and moved in to give Galen a quick kiss, but Galen backed away and glanced at Collin.
"Come on Dad. Marc is your boyfriend and you need to act like it. If you don't kiss him, I will." Collin said frankly.
Galen and Marc were both stunned by the statement and neither knew how to respond.
After a moment, Collin said, "I warned you." then walked up to Marc and gave him a quick, firm kiss.
As Collin stepped back, he looked at his father who was staring at him with disbelief.
"Now don't make me have to do that again." Collin said with a grin.
"You... you..." Galen stammered in shock.
Collin rolled his eyes and said, "I just did that so you'll know that it's okay if you two kiss in front of me. I'm not going to freak or be grossed out or anything. In fact, it makes me feel like I'm in the way here when you act like you can't touch each other in front of me."
Galen stared for a moment longer, then looked at Marc with question.
"He's right love. Acting like we're not a couple isn't doing any of us any good." Marc said gently.
Galen nodded, then slowly took a step toward Marc and looked him in the eyes.
Collin watched as the pair seemed to be frozen, both waiting for the other to make the first move.
"If you don't hurry up and kiss him..." Collin began to say when Galen moved in to give Marc a firm kiss.
Collin smiled at the scene before him, then reached down to get another cracker.
* * * * *
The phone ringing interrupted the kiss that had gone on longer than either expected.
"Do you want me to get that?" Collin asked hesitantly.
"No, it's probably for me... my work." Galen said as he reluctantly released Marc from the hug.
Collin nodded and watched as his father answered the phone.
"Hello?" Galen answered.
Marc and Collin both became concerned at the myriad of emotions running across Galen's face.
After a moment of listening, Galen held the phone to his chest and quietly said, "Marc, it's for you. It's the police."
Oh he has reverted to type and given us a cliffhanger here. He warned me in the e mail containing the chapter that he had a cliffhanger, but I was lulled into the wonderful feeling that he had presented with the wonderful way that Collin had accepted his father and Marc being a couple and in love with each other. Then Bam!!!!!!!! a cliffhanger. Let me at him.
This was a very good chapter, and we get to see how Galen and Marc feel about each other and we get a glimpse at how Collin is reacting to his 'Dads' being together. I can see this becoming still another wonderful MM story. Great job MM!
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher.