The Rest of the Story
by Nick Brady
The Rest of the Story – Chapter 1.
This is the fifth (and final) book in a series about Marco, Marty, their adopted sons Samuel, Benjamin and foster son Brian in Tulsa Oklahoma.
Book 1 is Marco in the Park
Book 2 is Marco, Marty and the Twins
Book 3 is Brian Goes to College
Book 4 is Brian and Lanny go to Europe
It's well worth readimg them in order, otherwise some of ehat you see in this final story may make you woinder what is going on
Copyright © 2015-2017 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.
Now that Brian and Lanny were back from their adventure in Europe, they found themselves looking ahead to the possibilities for their future. They wondered if the relationship they found so exciting while abroad would last in the long term, or would it fade? After their initial conversations with their parents, they met for lunch two days later to check signals.
"Hey. Nice to see you again," Lanny told him.
"It's funny to think that this is the longest we have been apart in over a month," Brian chuckled. "Did you miss me?"
"I did. That's the funny thing. I couldn't go five minutes without thinking about you."
"Me neither. How are your parents taking all this?" Brian wondered.
"At the moment it's kind of the elephant in the room. Everybody is thinking about us but nobody wants to bring it up," Lanny said. "Mom is carrying on like nothing happened but Dad is awfully quiet. I guess he is struggling with this thing about you and me wanting to be together."
"When you were talking to them about the trip and our friendship, was it clear that you and I are gay?"
"I'm think so. I think Mom had figured that out, but dad, not so much. Maybe he suspected as much, but was hoping it wasn't true. I guess it's hard for a dad to find out his son is gay."
"But he still loves you. I mean, he didn't threaten to kick you out of the house or anything."
Lanny shook his head. "No. Nothing like that. But he's sort of been avoiding eye contact with me. See, he doesn't really know you, Brian. I think if he gets to know you, he will come around. Maybe he thinks we sneak around and wear dresses or something."
Brian laughed, "We are gay, not transsexuals. Neither of us wants to be a girl."
"I know, but I'm not sure he knows the difference. He probably hasn't spent a lot of time thinking about this sort of thing."
"I do think it will help if he actually gets to know me," Brian agreed. "It would be good if he could get to know Marco and Marty better too. Neither of them fit the gay stereotype."
"I guess there are a lot of stereotypes about being gay. Maybe some gay guys like to be flamboyant, but the majority blend in like everybody else."
"We are like everybody else," Lanny reminded him. "Being gay and loving you doesn't define who I am. That's only one part of me. An important part I'll admit, but certainly not everything. It seems unfair."
"I think most people don't really understand how that works. At least we don't get sent to the gas chamber like those poor guys in Nazi Germany."
"Well, I can't change that I'm gay, and I can't change that I love you. We'll just have to see how this plays out."
Brian reached under the table to take Lanny's hand. "I don't think I would change any of that even if I could. If we don't know each other after all the time we spent together in Europe, we never will. I really love you Lanny."
"So where do we go from here?" Lanny asked.
"I've talked to Marco and Marty a lot about us in the last two days. I guess it's not surprising that they are a lot more understanding than most parents would be. They gave me a lot of good advice."
"What did they say?"
Brian sat back and looked serious. "They suggested that we give things a month or so to cool off. To see if this is like a shipboard romance or something like that. In the meantime they would be OK with you staying with me at our house. If we feel the same way in another month then they said they might talk about our getting a place of our own."
"Really?" Lanny looked surprised. "Would they do that? We don't have any money. How could we do that?"
"How are you going to pay for your college? Do you have all the money saved for that?"
"No. You know that. My folks have said they will help me. I think they started an education fund for me and my sister Cindy when we were little. That's how they helped her through college. I mean, she worked some, but they helped with most of it."
"What would they do if you wanted to go to school out of the area? Would they help with housing?" Brian asked.
"I guess they would have to. We haven't talked a lot about that. What are you getting at?"
"If I was going away to school, I would have to stay in a dorm or someplace. My folks said that if I needed my own place while going to school here that they might help me with that. The important thing was that I say on track with school."
Lanny looked thoughtful. "I don't know if that would work for me or not. If I was going away for school they might help me. Sharing an apartment with my boyfriend might not fly."
Brian leaned back and stretched. "We're going to have to figure a lot of this out as we go along. I suggest the best thing for us to do is try to get your parents on board. How about we put together a slide show of photos from our trip and get them all together to see it. That will let us tell them all about what we saw and did so that they can see it wasn't just a month long orgy."
"We did a lot of cool stuff and learned a lot," Lanny nodded.
"The only time our families have been together was at the park for a picnic before the trip. How about we get everyone together for a big show and tell?"
"Your house or mine?"
"I think my place would be better," Brian suggested. "Sam and Ben will want to be there and you might not want to inflict them on your parents. Besides, they're concerned about the gay couple thing. It might be nice for them to see how normal we really are."
"That's a good idea. I expect they'll be OK with that. They want to know more about the trip and I imagine they're curious about Marco and Marty and how that all works out."
"How about I load all my photos onto a USB drive and give them to you to put into a presentation. You are better than I am with that sort of thing. Then we can go from there."
"You didn't take any photos of the gay clubs in Berlin, did you?" Lanny asked with concern.
"Of course not. I'm not that stupid. But I got a lot of nice photos of the museums and cathedrals wherever we went. And of Normandy and the American Cemetery where you found your grandfather. Your dad would like to see those. I think we should include some photos of Fredrick and his family, since they were so kind to us. The Goldsteig Trail was beautiful and your mom will want to know about Roth and your accident."
Lanny began to mentally organize their trip into a presentation and narrative. "I think I could do that. Give me a little time and I'll show it to you."
They finished their burgers and fries and sat back.
"Have you figured out what you are going to do about school?" Brian asked.
"I have. Actually, I went over to OU Tulsa yesterday and picked up a catalog. I even found a counselor who spent a little time with me. There are details to work out, but he mentioned a Classics degree with the electives in Arts Education. You know, European history, humanities, ethics, that sort of thing. Didn't you talk about something like that one time?"
Brian laughed, "You know that's what I am doing my pre-med in, the Classics program with pre-med electives. Are you serious?"
"Would we have some classes together?" Lanny asked innocently.
"I thought you were going to TU, the University of Tulsa, not OU Tulsa."
"They are both in Tulsa," Lanny reminded him. "Besides, I have a friend who is going to OU Tulsa."
Brian sat for a moment then closed his mouth. "You are something else. Would you really do that?"
"Why not? It's a good fit for me, and it lets me stay in Tulsa so my father can keep an eye out for me," Lanny smiled. "Would you mind if I sort of tapped into your plans?"
Brian sat for a moment as his eyes began to grow misty. "You really do love me. You're going to make this work. I don't deserve you."
Lanny scowled. "You aren't going to start that crap again, are you?"
"No, no. I'm sorry. You will let me claim to be lucky, won't you?"
"Maybe we're both lucky," Lanny grinned as he picked up the check. "This is on me."
Brian went through all the photos he had taken on their trip and put them on a thumb drive for Lanny who began to combine them with his own and organize them into a narrative of their travels through Europe. They consulted with each other several times over the phone but otherwise did not spend any time together for the next two weeks as part of their agreement to take a break from things. Plans were made for a gathering at Brian's house with Marco planning a simple meal. They decided to invite their friends Louisa and Melissa who were curious about their adventure. Lanny put the presentation on his laptop and brought it to the restaurant where they met for lunch.
"What do you think?" Lanny asked after they went over it. "Any suggestions?"
"This is awesome. With a little background music, you could put this on TV."
"The hard part was trimming it down to a reasonable length. I tried to pick out a few highlights from all the places we visited. One cathedral looks a lot like another, but there are some things that are special for each one. The same is true of museums. I did quite a few of Normandy and Granddad's grave because I knew that would mean a lot to my father. The photos of the time we spent with Roth were really very beautiful in the mountains and on the trail. I left out the ones you took when I was in the hospital so I wouldn't upset my mother. Are there any I have left out?"
"What about those naked pictures I took of you in the hotel room?"
"The what? I didn't see any like that! Did you do that?" Lanny asked anxiously.
Brian laughed. "No. I just wanted to see your reaction. Marco told me one time never to take a photograph I didn't want to see on the internet by surprise. I took his advice."
"That's good advice. I have a fear of that sort of thing. You had me worried for a minute."
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't joke about stuff like that. The presentation looks really great. Thanks for putting it together, Lanny."
The gathering was planned for Saturday evening and they agreed that Lanny would bring Louisa and Melissa with him. That way, they could take them home afterwards and perhaps speak to them privately.
Marco made a nice chef's salad and a plate of sandwiches, set up coffee, iced tea and sodas and put them on the dining table as a sort of simple buffet. This would free both Marco and Marty to talk to their guests rather than being distracted by serving a meal. Sam and Ben were reminded of their company manners and they waited for their guests to arrive. First was Lanny with Louisa and Melissa. The girls were animated and looking very pretty. Shortly afterward Frank and Nancy arrived with a pie. While the families had met at the picnic before the European trip, they looked at each other in a different way now that the relationship between Brian and Lanny had turned more serious.
"Nice place you have here," Frank said.
"Thank you," Marty replied. "When Brian joined us we needed a little more space and moved here. We really like it."
They all sat in the living room and made casual conversation until Lanny connected his laptop to the flat screen TV and declared it was time for the show. "Are we ready?" he asked.
"You have the floor," Marco told him.
Lanny began. "We sent a few of these photos home in some emails, but I think most of them will be new to you. As you know, we started our trip in Edinburgh, Scotland. There was a neat old church on top of this mountain."
It took nearly an hour for Lanny to narrate their trip across Scotland, England, France, Germany and Holland. The emphasis was on the historical significance of the places they visited. Frank was obviously touched by the photographs of Lanny at his grandfather's grave in Normandy. There were photos of Fredrick and his family, photos of their trek on the Goldsteig trail with Roth, and of their drive up to Amsterdam.
While Brian and Lanny appeared in some of the pictures, the message was clear. This was a serious search for understanding and appreciation of the beauty and history of Europe. No doubt they had enjoyed the trip, but they were intent on making the most of their time there and had crammed as much into the journey as possible. They had not wasted their time.
Nancy was concerned about Lanny's injury and wanted to know more about Roth. "Who is that red headed boy?"
"That's Roth. He was a friend of Fredrick's family and took us hiking," Lanny explained. "He is a super sharp guy and we got to know him pretty well. When I sprained my shoulder he and Brian looked after me so we could complete the hike. Then he drove us up to Berlin and we went on to Amsterdam by ourselves."
Lanny's narrative was frequently interrupted by questions to which both Lanny and Brian responded. Sam and Ben asked so many questions they were given a stern look from Marco. When he concluded, Lanny sat cross legged on the floor in front of the TV and let out his breath.
Frank nodded thoughtfully. "I can see that you got a lot out of that trip," he said to Lanny. "Did it live up to your expectations?"
"Oh yes. I loved every minute of it. We got to see so much. It was so great having Brian with me. I guess I would have enjoyed it by myself, but I think it would have been kind of lonely. Having a friend along made it a lot better. We could talk about what we saw and share ideas and impressions. We got a lot more out it together than either of us could alone. We made a good team, and to tell the truth, it made it safer, too."
Was there any time when you felt unsafe?" Marco asked. "You said you never had any real problems."
"We really didn't," Brian responded. "Except for Lanny's sprain, everything was fantastic."
"Well," Lanny shrugged, "There were a couple of times that I was glad Brian was with me. Most people we met were really nice, but there is always a knot-head somewhere. There was this time when we were in a hostel and some guy started to give me a hard time. Brian stepped up and the problem went away. It's better to travel with a friend."
"I think people everywhere are pretty much the same," Brian suggested. "We were respectful of the people we met, and they generally responded to us very positively. There were very few exceptions to that."
Marty suggested that they take a break, help themselves to the snacks on the dining table, then reconvene in the living room. When everyone was back in a comfortable seat, the discussion began.
"So, you guys got to be real close friends on that trip?" Frank asked coolly.
Brian sensed some hostility and answered quickly. "Yes sir, we did."
"More than just friends, actually," Lanny said, shining a light on the elephant in the room.
Frank's eyes narrowed a bit. "How's that work?"
Brian spoke out. "It's like this. Lanny and I barely knew each other when we started on that trip. Fortunately, we discovered that we like a lot of the same things and we got along really great. I don't know about Lanny, but I've never had a friend that I feel I know as well, or trust as much. I like being with Lanny and when we start classes in a month, We think it would be cool to be roommates. That's how that works for me."
"So, you guys want to be roommates is all? Just buddies?" Frank asked slowly.
"That's right, Dad. We are good buddies and we like to be together," Lanny said steadily, looking Frank directly in his eyes.
"So where's that go?" Frank inquired.
"I guess after a year or so, we will either grow closer or get sick of each other," Brian answered honestly.
"So then what happens?" Frank pressed the point.
"I guess we'll figure that out when we get there," Brian responded diplomatically.
"It's like this for me, Dad," Lanny spoke firmly. "Brian and I really care about each other, and we want to be together."
"I guess, then you boys can be as close as you want, right?" Frank asked in an unpleasant way.
"Let's quit dancing around the real issue, OK?" Lanny said firmly. "I'm gay, Dad, and so is Brian. We fell in love with each other while we traveled across Europe, and we want to see where this will go!" Lanny was shaking. "I'm sorry Dad. I know this isn't what you want to hear, but it's the truth."
Nancy nervously got to her feet and began to gather up empty paper plates. "Let me help you with this, and I brought a pie if anybody's interested."
Louisa and Melissa had listened quietly as the drama unfolded. "Yes. Let us help you with that pie."
The three women cut the pie and put pieces on plates to be served in the living room. Marty put on a fresh pot of coffee, and there were a few takers on the bathroom. Sensing conflict, Sam and Ben took their pie and retreated to their bedroom.
When they were all back together, Marty stood and cleared his throat for attention. Marty was rather an imposing figure at his current age of thirty eight. Tall and still slender, his light brown hair showing a little gray at the temples, he looked the part of a corporate manager, and exuded a sense of authority.
Marty began, "I really enjoyed your presentation, Lanny. It seems to me that you were both serious students on an extended field trip. I think our investment in Brian's education was well spent. But we already knew that."
Marty cleared his throat again. "Since the conversation has turned to curiosity about the future of their friendship, I would like to try and clear the air a little. As all of you know, Marco and I are a same-sex married couple. We are gay, and we love each other. Being gay was not a decision on our part. It was the hand we were dealt. When we first met and realized that the relationship might have a future we started living together. We wanted to be sure that we were right for each other. It turned out that we really fit, and we have been very happy together for just over fourteen years now. Am I right about that Marco?"
Marco nodded and smiled from where he sat.
Marty continued, "I tell you this to explain why we are fine with these guys living together, as roommates, good friends, or as a committed couple. What we want for Brian, is for him to be happy and to live up to his potential. I suspect that is what you want for Lanny too. Can we agree on that?"
"Of course that's what we want for Lanny. What parent wouldn't?" Nancy spoke up and gave Frank a stern look. "You're a good boy, Lanny. I know you have a good soul and I love you no matter who you are or what you do."
Hearing the issue put so directly, Frank sat back in his chair. "Look, I'm sorry. This is hard for me. Give me a minute to get my head around all this, OK?"
"Come on, Dad. You really didn't notice that I was different from most other boys? Is this really such a big surprise?" Lanny asked.
"Now Frank. We've talked about this," Nancy said quietly.
Frank took a deep breath, held it for a minute then slowly let it out, looking at the floor. "OK, OK. I give up. I'm sorry Lanny. I'm just an old red-necked Okie and this sort of thing is hard for me. Yes, I do want you to be happy. No, I can't live your life for you. Yes, I can accept you and Brian being roommates, and," Frank raised his eyes from the floor and looked directly at Lanny, "and, yes, I do love you, son – no matter what you do, I'll still love you. You go and figure out what seems right for you, and I'll support you."
Nancy put her hand on her husband's arm and smiled, "Oh Frank!"
Lanny resisted the impulse to leap to his father and hug him. "Thank you Dad. Thank you so much! I love you too. You've always been like my personal hero, and I wanted you to be proud of me. This has been hard for me too, because I figured you would hate me if you knew I was gay. I tried not to be, really I did, but I just can't change who I am."
Frank hung his head. "I'm sorry kid. I tried to be a good father. How can I hate my own son? You can't change who you are, so I have to change how I think about it. I'm sorry, Lanny." Frank stood up and held out his arms. "I love you, son."
With no more encouragement, Lanny took his father in his arms and wept as they held each other tight. The others sighed with relief at the release of tension.
Louisa stood and asked cheerily, "Would anybody like more coffee? What can I get for you?"
"I'll take another cup. Milk and sugar please," Marco replied.
Nancy stood and said pleasantly, "None for me, thank you. This has been a good meeting. Lanny, your presentation was very nice. I agree with Marty that you boys got the most out of your trip and we are very proud of you both. I do hope that we all understand each other better after tonight. I wish you both all the best, and so does my hard-headed old husband." She laughed and took Frank's hand. "Let's go home, honey."
Frank stood and laughed. He went around the room, shaking everyone's hand and thanking them for the evening. When he came to Brian, he stopped. "You seem like a fine young man, Brian. I hope you don't think I have anything against you personally. If Lanny loves you then I'll just have to love you too," and he gave Brian a brief but sincere hug.
After Frank and Nancy had left, those who remained were exhausted after all the tension.
"Well!" Melissa laughed. "Welcome home guys! This has been quite an evening. Are you two OK?"
"I'm fine," Brian assured her. "I hate drama, and I really hate trying to sneak around and hide what I know is right and good. This was kind of tense, but I think we got past some things tonight that will make it easier for Lanny and me to work on our own issues. I feel like we are freer now that we kind of had it out today. This was a good thing."
All eyes went to Lanny. "This was pretty heavy for me. Confronting my father about my sexuality is something that I have dreaded for as long as I can remember. I never thought it would play out in a group like this, but really, I think that made it easier. It would have been tough to do this alone. Maybe you guys were like referees, to make sure we all played fair. Look, my father is a good guy, but like he said, this is hard for him. I understand that. I guess it was hard for us all. But did you see how he came around? He showed me today that he really does love me, and I'm very relieved."
Now Brian stood. "I think we need to get these girls home. You ready, Lanny?"
They got in Brian's Santa Fe and started off, Louisa in the front with Brian, and Melissa in the back with Lanny. "I think maybe we need to ask you how you feel about all this?" he asked the girls.
"I was proud of both of you," Louisa told them.
"I'm relieved that you feel that way," Lanny said. "Brian and I would never have met if it were not for you. Did you suspect that we might end up as a couple?"
Melissa took Lanny's hand, "I have to admit I suspected that Lanny might be gay. We have been really good friends for a long time, but there was never anything sexual between us. It always made me wonder."
"You've been such a great friend," Lanny told her, "I didn't really expect that Brian and I would end up falling in love. I was afraid you would feel rejected."
"Don't be silly," Melissa replied. "You're a really cute guy. When we first started going out, I confess that I thought about the possibility that things might get romantic, but we were just friends and it never went beyond that. I didn't think that you found me unattractive, so I guessed that there might be another reason. If I am really your friend, I should want you to be happy. If Brian is the one for you, then I am happy for you. Don't worry about me. I won't end up an old maid."
"What about you, Louisa?" Brian asked. "You and your family have been so kind to me. You even taught me how to play tennis. I was sort of in denial about my sexuality. You made me realize that if I was not going to fall for someone as smart and pretty as you, then I wasn't going to fall for any girl. I sort of agonized about that. I really didn't want to hurt you."
Louisa smiled. "Melissa and I have been best friends for a long time. We talked about you guys and guessed that you might not be attracted to girls in a romantic way. You and Lanny are such neat guys and we wondered if you had something in common. All we did was bring you together. Apparently, we guessed right. As for the tennis, that was my father's idea. He really took a shine to you. We all did."
"So, you really aren't disappointed in me, in us?"
"Not at all. This turned out great!" Louisa laughed and sang a bar from Fiddler on the Roof – 'Match make, match maker, make me a match....'
When Brian and Lanny returned to Brian's house they were joined in the living room by Sam and Ben. "Are you and Lanny going to be boyfriends?" Ben asked.
"Kind of looks like it," Brian replied. "Are you guys OK with that?"
"Sure," Sam shrugged. "We like Lanny. Why wouldn't we be OK with that?"
"You guys are cool," Lanny sighed. "I'm beginning to get a really good feeling that this is all going to work out like it's supposed to."
"It's getting kind of late," Brian pointed out. "Do you think you might want to, uh, stay over tonight?"
Lanny grinned, "Let me call my mother and let her know. I guess we have a green light."
Lanny excused himself to call his mother and returned in a few minutes. "Can you loan me a toothbrush?"
"Better than that, I can give you one. Just leave it in the bathroom. Hopefully, you can use it often," Brian said.
"I think you know that you have our blessings," Marty told him. "Take your time and focus on your studies. If this is right for you guys, you will know it. You are always welcome here, Lanny. Consider yourself part of the family."
"Are you adopting me too?"
"Maybe Brian has," Marco smiled.
The six of them devoured the rest of the sandwiches and Nancy's pie, then got ready for bed. Sam, Ben, Brian and Lanny went upstairs to their bedrooms.
Sam and Ben laid on their beds and discussed the day.
"Lanny's father wasn't very nice," Ben said.
"It's like Lanny said, this wasn't easy for him. Not everybody is cool with guys having boyfriends," Sam reminded his brother.
"Is everybody in this house gay?"
"Daddy, Papa, Brian and Lanny are. I'm not sure about you and me, Ben said.
"I guess we're still figuring that out," Sam told him. "Right now, almost everything makes us horny."
"You horny now?" Ben asked.
"Maybe," Sam replied.
Ben got up and checked the door, then returned to lie beside his twin brother and begin the private game they had played so many times. Life was good for these boys.
In Brian's room, he and Lanny were alone together for the first time in weeks. Brian turned to him, "Do you think your father is cool with us being together?"
"Probably not really, but he won't make a big fuss after today. That's close enough."
"This was a little tense tonight, but I think we're on track. I really appreciated Marty's little speech. That sort of set the scene for acceptance."
"Your dads are awesome."
"They are, and so are you. It took a lot of courage to stand up to your father like that," Brian said.
"That's been a long time coming. I was glad to get it over with. Mom was cool too. It's like this is supposed to work out for us."
"At least it gives us the chance. I guess it's up to us to work it out."
Lanny put his hand on Brian's thigh. "This is the first time we have had a chance to be together in a while. Should we take advantage of it?"
"Of course. Want to take a shower first?"
"I could see doing that. Is it private up here?"
"Oh yeah. Sam and Ben have one of the bathrooms and I have the other. Marco and Marty have a bedroom and bath downstairs. We all respect each other's privacy. You ready?"
"You know it," Lanny grinned.
They went in to shower and then came back to renew their friendship. It was as good as ever.
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