Gift #21

Dec. 30th, 2016 01:46 pm
[identity profile] mander3-swish.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] qaf_giftxchnge
TO: [livejournal.com profile] asm614
FROM: [livejournal.com profile] wren_kt7oz
TITLE: Joan Kinney: Died 23rd December 2016. RIP
GIFT REQUEST: Fic. Fluff/ schmoop, angst, canon-compliant, hurt/ comfort, humor, sexy fun times Brian/Justin, post-canon (present day would be preferred, but as long as the characters are as canon-compliant as possible, I'm open). Either something holiday-related (including other members of the gang, if desired) or something more H/C geared (preferred if Justin is the one providing the comfort, but either way works).
Nothing AU in terms of canon deviations, crack!Fic, or basically anything that would exist outside of a canon-compliant realm. Nothing where B/J aren't (or at least don't end up) together.
NOTES: I hope this comes somewhere close to what you were looking for. It was a really strange one to write because when the first line came to me, I thought it was Justin "speaking". It was something of a shock when I found out it was Deb and from there the whole thing turned out completely differently to what I'd planned. But in the end I kind of liked it. It puts a different spin on the usual H/C fic and gave me an opportunity to play with the whole gang and see what they're up to now that it's 2016. I can only hope you're not disappointed by it.
I was going to leave everyone guessing whose "voice" they were listening to, but my beta didn't like that idea, so I've put the names in.
WARNING: For a change – no warnings. I'm even fairly nice to Michael.







Debbie

It's just typical of Joan Kinney that she decides to die the day before Christmas Eve, the same day Brian is supposed to fly to New York in time to meet Gus off his Toronto flight so that they can spend Christmas in the Big Apple with Sunshine.

Not that Justin still lives in New York, of course. He and the big lug live out in the sticks in West Virginia in a fucking mansion. Well, as much as they live in any one place for very long. They both travel a lot; mainly these days they travel together for Justin's art. Brian's fucking company just keeps getting bigger and bigger but he doesn't have a lot to do with the day to day running of it any more. He leaves that to other poor schmucks like Teddy. Mind you, Brian made Ted a junior partner a couple of years back, so I guess it's Ted's business as well now.

It's funny, looking back, to think that at one point Ted had sunk pretty much as low as you can fucking go. Now he's partner and CFO of one of the most important ad agencies on the East coast. And he and Blake got married as soon as it was made legal, so he's got a solid relationship as well as being so successful in business.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming about how happy and successful all my boys have become. Michael and Ben have two grand kids now. I'm a great grandma. Hunter and his wife got into in some program that does "sperm washing" or something like that so he could father a child without risking either the child or the mother becoming infected. And they wound up having beautiful healthy twins so they both think that all the stuff they had to go through was worth it.

It's been tough having little JR growing up in another country, but now that she's older, she spends a lot of her school breaks down here with us, so it's not as bad as it could have been.

When I think of how I used to despair that Michael would ever have any kind of real life when he spent all his time obsessing over his "best friend", I want to get down on my knees and thank God for how his life has turned out.

Which brings me back to my other lost boy, Brian Fucking Kinney and his bitch of a mother who managed to make even dying a way to interfere with that poor kid's happiness.

God knows how he's going to react. If I know him, little Sunshine's going to have his hands full. And no matter how Brian reacts, they still have to sort out Christmas, because neither of them are going to want to disappoint Gus.

This is the first time that the girls have let Gus spend Christmas with his Dads. Because that's what they are, Justin has been like a father to that boy for his whole life. And Brian … against all the fucking odds, and all the stuff they say about how abused kids turn into abusers, Brian has turned out to be one of the best fathers you'll ever find anywhere. I'm so fucking proud of the asshole that sometimes I feel like I'm going to have to tell him.

Of course then he'll pull one of his usual stunts and I'll go back to calling him the asshole for a while; but he really is a good father to Gus. And to Justin's kid, Simon. That was a real surprise to most people, that Brian would agree to them having another kid, but it's worked out well. Simon lives with his Moms just like Gus does, but Justin has full parental rights and Simon spends a lot of his time with his Dad. His Dads. His Moms are a lesbian couple Justin got to know when he was living in New York which is why they were planning on spending Christmas there this year, so that they could share it with Simon.

But now who knows what's going to happen?

Oh, well, if they're in Pittsburgh they can always come here. Michael and Ben are insisting on doing all the cooking this year, but I still like to have everyone to my house. That's when it really feels like Christmas.

I guess it will be Tuesday at least before they can hold the funeral.

Claire will be fucking useless as always. That girl's got no more gumption that a mashed potato. If she were a man, she'd have a permanently limp dick.

So someone else will have to make the funeral arrangements. I hope they know that I'll help out.

I know Brian will want to use fancy caterers just so he doesn't have to bother with it, but that's still not the way things are done in the neighborhood. The family provides drinks and the neighbors all bring some food. I'm guessing Joanie didn't get on too well with her neighbors and didn't have a lot of friends, but the ladies from the church would starve themselves before they'd fail to bring a plate to the funeral of one of their own.

*****

Jennifer

It's so frustrating.

Just when we were all going to have our first Christmas together with my adorable grandson, Joan Kinney has to spoil it by dying at just the wrong time.

I'm sure that sounds terribly uncharitable, but to be honest it's hard to find any compassion or charity for that woman. She has done so much to make her son's life a misery. Not that Brian says a lot, and Justin doesn't tell me anything; he would never betray Brian's secrets. But over the years both of them have let enough slip to give me a fairly good idea of what Brian's childhood was like.

Not that Justin's was a picnic. Craig was always a controlling bastard. I'm just sorry that I didn't see that sooner, didn't realize that my children would do far better, and be much happier without his constant demands. One of the things I truly admire about both my sons (because I do see Brian as my son after all these years), is that they both give Gus the kind of support and unconditional love that neither of them received from their fathers. I hope that I did better as a mother than Joan Kinney, but sometimes I wonder. I stood by and let Craig throw my seventeen year old son out of his home. What was I thinking?

Well, I suppose I was thinking that it was up to me to keep the balance in the family. That's what I told myself whenever Craig and I clashed over Justin or Molly. He was always accusing me of being too soft, of letting them both get away with too much, of never pushing them enough to do better, to excel, to be everything Craig wanted them to be. Especially Justin, of course, because he was "the son and heir". What complete and utter nonsense it all was. But I believed it. I'd been trained to believe it. Father knows best. It's how things work in nice WASP families. It's certainly how I grew up.

Except that I didn't really grow up until Craig threw Justin onto the streets; coming to terms Justin coming out and all that it meant forced me to grow up in a hurry.

I'm only sorry I left it so late. It almost cost me my son.

But Justin seems to have forgiven me, and Brian and I reached agreement a long time ago. We both love my son. Brian knew and has never forgotten how hard it was for me to go to him when I couldn’t' help Justin after the bashing; and I know Brian would find a way to drag down the stars from the sky or die trying if that's what it took to make Justin happy.

Here's what I know about my son's relationship with Brian Kinney: Justin is always more completely "Justin" when he is with Brian. Whenever they've separated, even when they were trying to maintain their relationship while Justin was living in New York, Justin has been … less. When they're apart, Justin is less vibrant, less confident, less fully himself, than he is when he and Brian are together.

It's strange. I was so sure that Justin being gay would mean that he lived a lonely unfulfilled life. Yet just the opposite is true. He has a partner who loves and supports him, a … step-son, I suppose is the best description for Gus, who adores him, and now his own child. Monique and Stasi are a wonderful couple and they dote on Justin as well as on Justin's son. They are both immigrants – Stasi from the Eastern Europe and Monique from North Africa. Both of them were more or less forced to leave their homes and their families if they didn’t want to live in fear just because they're lesbian. That isn't right, but at least it brought them together and brought them into Justin's life. For them, Justin and Brian seem to have become a replacement family, and they're both kind enough to call me "Mama Jenn". I can't tell you the thrill that gives me.

And how much I've been looking forward to sharing Christmas with them and my grandson.

Last year little Simon was only a few months old – not even crawling yet, and Justin and Brian were in London because Justin had an exhibition there at Somerset House, so Molly and I spent Christmas with them in London. We all missed Simon and the girls, but we knew that Simon was too young to care, and that the girls needed a low key Christmas while they were dealing with sleepless nights and teething. There are trials as well as joys in having a young baby in the house.

But this year is different. Simon is such a lively little boy. He's walking, and babbling away in his own language, and the girls posted some vids of him squealing with laughter whenever he sees a Santa. They say he doesn't really understand, but he seems to associate Santa with good things already. They're expecting him to simply go nuts on Christmas morning, even if he gets more thrills out of tearing the wrapping off his presents than anything inside them.

Justin and Brian must not miss this first real Christmas with him.

If that means that I have to stay in Pittsburgh and make all of Joan's funeral arrangements myself, then that's what I will do.

Brian was deprived of far too many happy Christmases in his childhood because of his parents. I will not let Joan Kinney deprive him of this one.

*****

Michael

I want to throw my phone across the room but instead I just click it off. Ben will kill me if I break another one. Not that I usually throw things, but I dropped one phone onto the concrete steps at the GLC a couple of months ago, and then I forgot the new one was in my pocket before I put my jeans into the washer and last week I was trying to juggle Christmas presents and text to Hunter about Christmas Day and I slipped on some ice. I lost my balance, and I didn't just drop the phone, I wound up standing on it as well.

So I don't dare damage this one because I will just never hear the end of it, but I really do want to smash it, to jump up and down on it and just shatter it into tiny pieces.

Fucking Joan Kinney!

I have no idea how Brian is going to take this.

He shouldn't care about her. He shouldn't. She's never done anything to deserve him caring. But she is his Mom, and with Brian you just never know how deep some things are going to cut him.

I remember when Jack died, he was a fall down mess for a couple of days. I was really worried about him. He seemed to shrug it off after a while, and went back to the usual rounds of drink, drugs and fucking, but … sometimes I think he just buries things inside, and they go on eating at him all the time he's trying to numb himself not to feel anything.

Hopefully, he won't go into his old pain management mode this time round.

Justin will probably go mad if he does. I'm sure he's made it really clear that he expects Brian to behave like a grown up now that they've got two kids.

Oh, shit! Brian's supposed to be flying to New York this week to meet Gus. Is that today? I think it is.

What can I do?

Maybe I could …

Well, there's no good me going to New York. Justin is there, and he could meet Gus.

But if Brian has to deal with Claire, he'll never get a flight out of here today.

Maybe I could go over and sit with her or something.

She'll bitch about Brian not being there of course, but at least if she bitches to me, I can try to set her straight.

I'll call Ma and ask what she thinks. Brian doesn't like anyone pushing too much … especially where his family are concerned, but Ma and I are the only ones who knew Brian back when he was living in the Kinney house, so we kind of understand more about how things were for him. And for Claire.

Although at Jack's funeral it's like Claire was pretending he was the perfect Dad or something. Back then I guess I thought maybe that was okay; that maybe it was better to have had a Dad like Jack Kinney than no Dad at all like I did. But now I'm a Dad, Hell I'm a grandfather. And I understand a lot more about how families are supposed to work. And how much damage they can do. And I know that I was a lot better off with Ma and Uncle Vic than Brian was with Jack and Joan Kinney.

So maybe I could at least take care of Claire so that Brian doesn't have to.

I'll call Ma; we could drive over there this afternoon.

*****

Emmett

I love Deb, but if she calls me one more time I'll forget all my manners and hang up on her. As if I don't know how these Church lady funerals work. I bet they're the same here as down home – all of the ladies bring something "nice" for everyone to eat – which usually means tasteless sandwiches and too many cakes. So what I need to do is to call the priest – what's his name? I can't remember who took over from Father Tom. Tom was kind of notorious because we all ran into him at the Baths one time or another. But that's okay. A gay man's gotta do …

Anyway, that Church has had a couple of priests since then, but the latest one seems okay. He's older than most, and I guess he's seen it all, because he's much more relaxed about most things than some of the young ones who can be terribly up tight. He didn't turn a hair when I accompanied Deb to this year's All Soul's Day service to pray for Vic wearing the most fabulous tangerine leather coat. It's divine. Long and really well cut, so when it's not buttoned all the way down it kind of swirls out behind me like a cape. I just love it, and the lemon and lime scarf Drewsie bought me in the Bahamas goes with it perfectly.

Father James … that's it. I need to call Father James and get a phone list so I can call all the ladies and co-ordinate things a little better. A little gentle coaxing and I'm sure we could come up with some more appetizing options without upsetting anyone.

Teddy is getting the key to Joan's house, and seeing if we need to get a cleaner to have it spick and span for the wake. He'll make sure all that is sorted. Deb and Michael are looking after Claire, and Deb says once Ted has the keys she'll meet him at the house and choose something for them to dress Joan in for the viewing – and the burial of course.

Ugh! I hate burials. I want to be cremated. One last chance for my flame to burn bright, not molder away in the ground. But of course Joan Kinney is old school and she'll be buried right alongside her husband. Hopefully that means that Brian can bury all the shit they put him through once and for all.

All of us, all of Brian's real family, are determined that the woman who used to call herself his mother is not going to spoil this Christmas for him.

He's pretending he's not happy about it, of course; Justin says he's been bitching and complaining about how pushy we all are, and how he can manage just fine without us, but that's all horse shit. If he were really upset about it, he'd make sure we all backed off and then he'd go into hyper-drive just to prove that he can do it all and doesn't need anybody.

Instead, he called the funeral directors from the airport, got on the plane to New York exactly as he'd planned in time to meet Gus's flight from Toronto.

Of course, as soon as he was off the plane in New York he was calling all of us to make sure that his instructions were being obeyed, but that's just a minor little queen out.

And he really has nothing to worry about.

Jennifer has already met with Father James, and told him that if he has any questions about the service, he's to call her before he disturbs Brian.

Deb and Michael are looking after Claire and keeping her away from Brian.

Teddy is dealing with any financial matters and, with Debbie, will look after the house and make sure it's ready for the wake.

I'm going to make sure the food is edible and that there are at least some salads and things that His Majesty might condescend to eat (because I suspect he'd starve before he'd eat any of the Church ladies' offerings). That's easy for me. My business just about runs itself these days. Sometimes I worry about getting bored, because bored people become boring, and that is something I promised myself long ago that I'd never be. Of course, there's always more work over the Holiday period but nothing that my crew can't handle which will leave me with plenty of time to make sure Joan Kinney's wake is a lot more fabulous than she deserves. Drewsie will be out of town next week anyway, because he's traveling with the Steelers. They've employed him as their "color man" and if they're milking the whole "look how inclusive we are" thing, that's alright. It's still sending the right message in a sport where that message isn't heard very often.

And Justin, of course, is looking after Brian.

He'll probably have his work cut out, but at least Gus will be there, and that will help keep Mr. Kinney on the rails.

Not that he runs off them all that often any more, but he's still prone to major Drama Queen moments when the wrong buttons are pushed and Gus will help head those off. Knowing Brian, Justin will need all the help he can get.

I wouldn't like to be Michael trying to deal with Claire, but I suspect it's Justin who's got the toughest job.

*****

Justin

When Brian called to tell me Joanie has finally passed away, I couldn't believe her timing.

She'd been in the hospice for over a month, and although at first we'd discussed changing our Christmas plans, it wasn't all that easy to do.

It's not as if Brian's Mom was even going to know whether we were visiting her or not. She's been in the last stages of severe liver damage; one of the effects of this is that she has become increasingly confused, and disoriented and has just wanted to sleep all the time. She's also in a fair bit of pain from various other side effects either of the liver disease or of the medications so she's been doped up to the eyeballs and over the last week she's been pretty much comatose all the time. She hasn't recognized either Brian or Claire when they have visited since she went into the hospice. Although Brian of course, didn't want to visit at all, and the hospice staff have asked Claire to stay away if she can't control herself because her hysterical outbursts just upset everyone – well, except for Joan who is oblivious to them. But all the other patients and even the staff find them really disturbing.

So between knowing Joan wouldn't be aware whether we visited on Christmas or not, and both of us wanting to spend this Christmas with Simon and his Moms and with Gus, we finally decided we'd just go ahead with our plans and fly back if we had to between Christmas and New Year. It's not as if it's a long flight. We can go from New York to Pitts and back in a day easily.

But of course Joanie upset all our plans by dying at exactly the wrong time.

I know I should feel compassion for her; she was another human being after all. But given how much grief she's put Brian through, and how the damage she did to Brian has made things incredibly difficult for us, for Brian and I, I'm finding it really hard.

Now she's even trying to spoil this Christmas; and it was going to be such a special one. It's the first time Gus has come to us for Christmas on his own. I mean, we've seen him some years when the family has been all together, but we've never just had Gus with us before. And of course, this year there's also Simon.

I can still hardly believe I'm a father. He doesn't really look like me (although Brian swears he'd know him for my kid anywhere just because he's so stubborn). He's got dark hair and Stasi's high cheekbones. His eyes are blue (Stasi, the birth mother, has blue eyes too), and I think he's got her nose and jaw line. But both Mom and Brian tell me they can see me in the way he holds his head and Brian says he's definitely got my mouth – and my appetite.

But none of that matters. He's mine not just because he shares my genes, but because I think of myself as his father, and because he seems to smile at me whenever he sees me, and it makes me feel ten feet fucking tall.

I never thought I'd have this. I thought Gus was as close as I'd ever come to having a child. And that was okay. I love Gus. But when the girls asked me … it just felt right.

Of course, Brian got all control freak over it and made sure that proper legal agreements were drawn up and signed long before the baby was born. And then new ones signed as soon as he was born. And had those notarized and registered with the courts.

I don't blame him. Between us we made such a mess of things with Gus. I still feel guilty sometimes that I encouraged him in the end to sign over his rights. I thought that if it got Mel and Linds back together it was the right thing, and both of us believed Mel when she said that it had to be either her or Brian who had parental rights, that it couldn't be all three of them.

It wasn't until JR came along that we found out that wasn't true.

And by then it was way too late to do anything about it without causing huge ructions between everyone involved. Brian decided that couldn't be good for Gus, so he let it go, but sometimes I still regret it, and I know he does too.

So he wanted to be sure there was going to be none of that with Simon.

And there won't be.

To start off with both Monique and Stasi are a lot more reasonable than either Lindsay or Melanie. At least neither of them hate either of us. In fact, we all get along really well, so even Brian has been looking forward to spending Christmas Day at their house, and watching Simon open his presents; well, opening all of our presents together, because Gus is old enough now to be happy to wait until we get to their place to do all that.

So it will be a real family Christmas.

Or it would have been.

Now who knows what will happen.

But what I do know is that I need to make sure that Brian gets out of Dodge – I mean, Pittsburgh.

As long as he's there, Claire will batten on to him the way she's tried to do these last few weeks, and everyone else will drive him crazy.

Of course, he'll feel like he's got to stay and deal with everything, because that's what he does, but …

At first I think of telling him that I can't cancel my meeting with the curator from the gallery in Tokyo, so he'll have to come here to meet Gus.

That would probably work (if he doesn’t run completely amok and cancel Gus's visit altogether), but it will make him feel like I don't care enough to drop everything to help him.

So instead, I call him back and tell him that I couldn’t reach the guy to cancel, but I've left a message for him to call me back, and I've been looking online for flights to Pittsburgh.

That was all it took.

He told me what a twat I was being and that he had every intention of meeting Gus's flight himself as planned and that anyway both Deb and Mom had already called and they were itching to rally the troops so he wasn't going to risk his remaining ball by fighting them for the privilege of deciding what "God awful fucking dress they want to bury Joanie in".

"They both told me that all I had to do was to get my ass on the plane and make sure I don't fuck up this Christmas for Gus."

He hesitates and then adds, "And for you and Simon."

I should have known they'd try to help, and it sounds like they have, more than they know, because they've both stressed that Brian's primary responsibility isn't to his mother now, it's to his children.

He knows that. Of course he does.

But they've given him a reason, although Brian probably sees it almost as an excuse, to believe it.

I don't say anything about that, of course. I haven't made it to the sixteenth annual edition of the Kinney Operating Manual for nothing.

Instead, I tell him that I've already checked out the suite at the Four Seasons, and Gus's room is right over the other side (it's fucking huge suite, but that's a good thing) so we shouldn’t disturb him tonight if we decide to test drive some of the Christmas presents I've bought for his stocking.

We banter back and forth a bit about whether it's okay to open presents early, and then he sighs, and says, "I'll still have to come back next week for the funeral."

"We'll both come," I tell him. "If you don't want Gus there, I'm sure the girls can use his help with Simon for a few hours. We'll fly in that morning and hop a plane back as soon as we can. Deb and Mom will cover for us if people are still hanging around."

He doesn't say anything, but that's okay. I can practically hear him nodding. Then, a bit to my surprise, he says, "Can you book the tickets? Get three in case Gus wants to come."

Somehow I know then that although he's hurting, he's going to be okay.

He's not going to go off on a bender or disappear for days to the clubs and bars of New York. He's going to do his best to brush it all aside and go ahead with Christmas as planned.

And I make a promise to myself that by the end of this Christmas, he'll be ready to deal with the fact that he had two fuck ups for parents, but that was nothing to do with him. He'll be ready to acknowledge that he has a family who love him, and who are all rallying round to support him.

And he has a partner who loves him more than life itself.

As I click the "end" button it occurs to me that I'm going to have to postpone that meeting anyway.

I have to get to the airport.

My partner's hurting and I need to have him in my arms as soon as I can get him there.

*****

Brian

When they first called and told me that that Joanie had been admitted to hospital and that I should make some arrangements because they didn't think she'd ever come out again, I didn't really feel anything except annoyed. We were just about to launch a number of big Christmas campaigns and the timing was terrible.

I made all the arrangements to get her into a hospice – or someone did – Ted or Cynthia or some lackey. All I really did was sign off on the payments.

I didn't want to go near her, but I knew I'd never hear the end of it if I didn't so that first weekend Justin and I drove into Pitts and visited her together.

Maybe I was hoping that the fact that I'd brought my lover with me would be enough of a shock to get her to shuffle off this mortal fucking coil. But she didn't even recognize me, let alone Justin. She wasn't asleep exactly, just … not there.

It was almost like whoever or whatever Joan Kinney was had already checked out ahead of time and just left the still breathing fucking carcass behind.

At least that meant I didn't have to repeat the visit.

When they called to say she'd died, I really didn't feel anything except his kind of dreary exhaustion at the thought of having to go through all the ridiculous fucking ceremonies that are associated with disposing of the remains of the fucking deceased. I would have been happy to tell them to cut her up for scrap and burn any bits they didn't want, but I knew that would send Claire completely off the deep end, and tempting as that thought was, I couldn't be bothered dealing with her shit.

So I called Justin to let him know and tried to work out how we were going to shuffle things around to try to make sure that Gus still had a decent Christmas and if possible make sure that Justin at least got to spend Christmas with his son.

Young Simon.

He's so much like his father it takes my breath away sometimes. His eyes are a slightly darker blue, but the way he carries himself already is just like that cocky little twat who used to be my stalker. He's just as stubborn, too. Try to get him to eat something he's decided he doesn't like the look of, or get him to sit down when he wants to be up and moving around and you know whose son he is alright.

But we're buds, Simey and I. He already knows I'm the soft touch in the family. When all the temper tantrums haven't worked, he turns those big blue eyes on me and I'm done.

If he adds one of his heart-rending pleas to "Bi-bi", he can pretty much do what he wants with me.

Ma-ma, Mo-mo and Da-da might be able to resist him, but he knows he's got Bi-bi wrapped right around his little finger. So I figure what the hell, and Simey and I just have fun together.

Justin hates it when I call him that, but Simon seems such a solemn name for a kid who spends most of his day laughing at just about everything.

I'd really like to be able to be there Christmas day, but I remember all too well how much fucking organizing went into Jack's funeral, and Mom took care of most of the details of that.

Guess that's one thing she did for me.

Plus, there's Claire, of course.

I'm just thinking that when my cell beeps. At first I think it's her and I'm not going to answer it, but when I check, it's Deb.

Seems she and Mikey have decided that they're the best ones to take on whatever care Claire is going to need in the next few days.

I'm about to put up some kind of argument, for form's sake at least, when Deb says, "You two always get on each other's nerves. Let Michael and I deal with her. She won't get away with her fucking hysterics with me."

I can almost feel myself grinning at that thought. Deb's right, as usual. She'll deal better with my dear sister than I ever could.

"Say 'thanks Deb'", she tells me. "And call Teddy. He needs some information about the funeral arrangements."

I haven't even called the funeral directors yet, but I call Ted anyway.

He wants to know if I can drop off the key to Mom's house at Kinnetik on my way to the airport. Says he'll make sure it's cleaned up and ready for the wake, which I guess will have to be next week sometime.

I'm about to tell him that I'm not even sure I'll be heading out to the airport when my cell beeps to let me know there's another call so I just mumble some shit and press 'end'.

This time it's Mother Taylor, and I can tell she's in a take no prisoners mood. She brushes aside any of the usual condolence bullshit and says that she and Emmett have both spoken to the priest and they're going to make all the arrangements for the service and for the wake. Either Tuesday or Wednesday would be fine and I should just let her know after I call the funeral people.

"The service can be at 11 to allow you and Justin time to fly in that morning, but still have the wake over early enough for you to catch a commuter plane back to New York in the late afternoon."

My fucking vocal chords pick that moment to seize up or something and she goes on, "You have a partner and two sons who love you and are relying on you being there with them to make their Christmas a happy one. Don't let your sad failure of a mother spoil that for you or for them."

I don't really have anything to say to that, so I end the call, still wondering if it can be that simple and if Christmas can still go ahead as planned when my favorite ring tone sounds and I hear Justin telling me that he's planning to cancel the meeting with the rep from some important gallery in Tokyo so he can fly here and hold my hand.

Fuck that!

If Mikey and Deb are handling Claire, I can trust Jenn not to get let Emmett get carried away with the arrangements for the service and the wake, and Ted will look after all the practicalities.

So I'm heading out to the airport and I'm going to collect my son and go to meet my partner and I'm going to spend Christmas Day with my fucking family.

Joan Kinney's body is already rotting and I don't give a fuck.

For years I let Joan and Jack convince me that the problem was me. That I was such a total inadequate that it was no wonder my own mother couldn't fucking stand me and my father just wanted to beat the shit out of me.

But having kids has taught me that it's never the kid. That when those kind of things go on in families it's because the parents are the total fuck ups. And that's what Joanie and Jack were. They weren't happy with their lives, so instead of trying to make sure that their kids' lives would be better, they took all their frustrations out on them instead.

And told the kids it was their fault that their parents were so fucking miserable.

Well, that's fucked.

I have friends who moved with their kids to a whole new country just to try to keep them safe. They took my kid, and in the end I let them. Although I hated being separated from him, I totally understood that Mel and Linds were doing what they thought was the right thing to protect him, and how could I argue with that?

Because that's what you do when you're a real parent. You would do anything, sacrifice anything, to keep your child safe and happy.

So Joanie's corpse can join Jack's rotting bones next week, but meanwhile, I am going to fly to New York, and collect my son and he and I are going to go meet my partner and spend tomorrow doing all the tourist stuff that Gus is trying to pretend he's too old for but secretly really wants to do – like ice-skating at the Center, and all that shit.

We'll spend Christmas Day with our friends, who have become part of our family, like we've become part of theirs, and we'll spoil Gus a little, and I'll spoil Simey a lot and we'll all have a fucking good time; while the rest of the family back in the Pitts picks up the slack for me. (Although I'd better make sure Ma Taylor and Molly make it to New York for Christmas Day if I want to keep my own member of the Taylor family really happy. And I do.)

Because that's what real families do. They love each other, and look out for each other.

Then in the New Year, I might see if Cynthia can get everyone a booking at some holiday resort in the sun somewhere (if we can organize it before classes start maybe even Gus can come). That way they'll all know (even if I'd have my tongue cut out rather than tell them) that I appreciate how they've looked out for me today.

Right now though, I need my own dose of Sunshine.

I sure as fuck hope his meeting doesn't go too long.

RIP, Joanie.



Date: 2016-12-31 02:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snowhitesally.livejournal.com
This was amazing. I loved reading everyone's thoughts on Joan... and SIMEY... okay, I love how Justin is a daddy, yet Brian... sorry, Bi-bi is the soft touch :)

Date: 2017-01-02 12:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wren-kt7oz.livejournal.com
I suspect that where his kids are concerned, Bi-bi would always be the soft touch.

Glad you enjoyed this one.

Date: 2016-12-31 10:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yumyumpm.livejournal.com
Joan may have tried, but she's not going to spoil Christmas. We learn everyone's thoughts and how they all pitch in to help. Plus we learn that Justin has his own son and Bi-Bi loves the little man. A truly wonderful story.

Date: 2017-01-02 12:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wren-kt7oz.livejournal.com
It was interesting writing this one, because it went it a completely different direction than I planned and in the end I just ran with it. It was interesting exploring Justin finding a different parenting solution than being a full time Dad.

Glad you enjoyed the results.

Date: 2017-01-03 03:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sfscarlet.livejournal.com
I really enjoyed how everyone picked up the ball and offered Brian help so he could do the important thing- enjoy the holidays with his family ( Justin, Gus and his son Simon)- very creative and I know Brian really appreciated the help great job

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