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Someday Maybe

 
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Goshen
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Young Wyrm
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:54 pm    Post subject: Someday Maybe Reply with quote

"How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?" ― Albert Einstein


Despite his love for the finer things in life, Goshen found himself returning time and time again to the sylvan charms of country living, with its sprawling fields and quietly grazing animals, to center himself and gather his thoughts when things in his world began to confuse him. It was comforting in a way that his posh, New Haven apartment was not, and familiar in the sense that it was where he'd spent his entire life -- what he could remember of it, anyway. What came before Windy Oaks was a mystery. The five years of life he'd spent living with Fox and Margot Greene were all he knew and when life didn't make sense, he retreated to the wonted solitude of home.

It was happening more and more often these days. Navigating the murky, unfamiliar waters of newfound friendship was filling him with all kinds of feelings he couldn't define.

The rambling old farmhouse was not visible from the road, but tucked a quarter mile back behind a grove of oak trees for which the farm was named. Sun silvered shiplap showed hints of having been painted green at one point in time, now weathered and cracked with age. Its warped, gabled roof, supported by the sturdy columns of a wide, wrap-around porch, was decorated with mismatched shingles.

In contrast, the surrounding yard was bright and full of life. It sat in the middle of a sprawling, green lawn, flanked by enormous, bright blue hydrangea bushes. The large wildflower garden in the front yard teemed with insects that were kept in check by a brood of free range chickens who gorged themselves there day after day.

Beyond the house was a big, white barn containing horses, a small herd of sheep and one very ornery cow named Patience. Further still was a field of corn that went on for so long that its edges kissed the horizon.

By the time Fox came looking for him, the sun was beginning to set.

"Figured you'd've come in for dinner."

Fox was a stocky man fast approaching middle age, somewhere in his early forties, with wiry blond and layer of scruff pretending to be a beard and mustache. His square face told a story of a life spent working hard. That he'd enjoyed it was evident from kind eyes and the deeply etched presence of laugh lines.

Immaculately dressed in designer labels, it didn't appear as though Goshen belonged in a place like this, next to a man wearing a dirty t-shirt, Levis, and well worn boots. He was draped against the pasture fence like moonlight, pale and beautifully arranged. He turned his head to smile at Fox.

"I meant to. I think I lost track of time."

"Mm." Fox folded his hands and took up a comfortable lean by pressing his forearms into the top rail of the fence. He looked out over the empty pasture which had kept Goshen's attention for several hours. "Got a lot on your mind, huh?"

"There's just so much I don't understand. It's confusing."

"What is?"

Goshen pressed his fingertips to his chest like something pained him there. "What I'm feeling. I can't define it. It doesn't make sense. I can't--this isn't--" Words failed him, so he let the thought die as, dispirited, he sighed quietly, resigned to incertitude.

"Is this about Ed?"

Goshen nodded reluctantly.

Fox pushed up from his lean, trying not to look amused. "Come on. This sounds like a conversation to have with Margot. She's better'n me at explaining matters of the heart."

"But you're in love, aren't you? Why can't you just tell me what it's like?"

Now Fox did smile. "Son, it's not something so easily defined. I couldn't confidently put it to words." He waited for Goshen to slide off the fence; together they started in the direction of the house. "But I'll try. It's... it differs from person to person. When I met Margot, my world turned upside down. I knew right off the bat that I was gonna marry that woman. But it, uh... took her a little longer to get on the same page as me. When it's good, your smile is bright as the sun. It fills you up with a warm, tingly feeling in the pit of your stomach. When it's bad it feels a little like you're being choked from the inside out. There's a very real, physical pain to it. And love's that one emotion that can take you from one extreme to the next in the blink of an eye."

"Differs from person to person," Goshen echoed. He stuffed his hands into his pockets, frowning thoughtfully. That's part of what made things so confusing. What love meant to one person was not what another felt, so on and so forth. He'd done so much of his own research on the subject but had yet to find an answer that satisfied. It was all so foreign that he'd even begun to believe himself to be aromantic. No one he'd ever come across in all his teenage life made him feel even remotely the way he felt now when thinking about Ed. But what did it mean? For all he knew, this was just the way friendship felt.

Back at the house, Margot set everyone up with a glass of sweet tea and the three of them settled on the porch to talk. Goshen lay stretched out across the steps, facing the yard. Fox and Margot were behind him and to his left, visible in his periphery, seated in wicker chairs with a tiny side table between them.

"Love is friendship set on fire," Margot was saying.

Goshen stared out into the yard at the fireflies flashing in the swiftly dimming light of dusk. "I don't know what that means. Fire as in passion? Isn't passion just another form of lust? Right? They're the same thing? Everything I've read says that lust and love are not the same."

"Sweetheart, no one can explain love to its truest, deepest meaning."

"The dictionary defines love as an intense feeling of deep affection," Goshen replied. "It also mentions sexual attachment. But that doesn't compute; I'm attached to Lauren and Daniel, but what I feel when I'm around Ed is totally different."

Fox leaned forward, elbows to knees. "Hold on, now. Are you really attached to them or are you attached to the things you do with them?" He held up a hand to forestall whatever was about to come out of Goshen's mouth. "I'm not asking you to tell us what you do with them, that's private. But is it them you want to be around, or could you do those things with someone else?"

The teenager paused to consider Fox's words. Sex, to Goshen, was the only language he felt he knew how to speak fluently. It came to him effortlessly, it required no thought. He enjoyed it. He craved it. He wanted to experience it with every person who struck his fancy. It was a way to connect honestly with another person, something he'd yet to master in any other way.

What had him keeping Lauren and Daniel as clients was their lack of desiring anything more from him than what he provided sexually. They wanted to be dominated. He needed to have control. Within that there were kinks, of course. Lauren and Daniel let him do things that others would not. Like Ed, for instance. But the longer he thought on it, the more sure he was that he could find someone else out there who shared his same kinks.

"No. They're -- convenient. I mean, I care about them. They're not nothing to me like... well, like nearly everyone else I ***. But I understand what you're saying. No, I am not attached to them." Goshen teased his fingers through his hair for something to do with his hands. He hadn't quite considered this before. And its implication...

"Are you attached to Ed?" Margot asked.

There it was. The implication he'd only just realized. "Yes," he replied distractedly. "He's my friend." Or was he more than that? It could be argued that Daniel and Lauren were his friends, too. He cared for them more than others, he enjoyed their company, but it was Ed toward whom he gravitated. It was Ed whom he yearned to be around more than anyone else. There was a difference.

Goshen couldn't handle the unfamiliar burgeoning in his chest, nor the way it was suddenly so hard to breathe. "I can't love, though."

"I think you can," Margot argued gently.

"Ace and Aro people exist, Margot. They're not some figment of the imagination." He was growing irritable, but it wasn't her fault. Goshen was simply having trouble addressing what it was he felt taking root inside him.

"I know that, honey. I--I would never try to say otherwise. There are all kinds of people out there, and every way there is to be is valid. But ​sometimes the heart sees what's invisible to the eye. I don't think you'd want this so much if it wasn't in your nature."

"You desperately want children and yet it is not within your nature to have them," he fired back without thinking. Goshen only realized he'd been callously frank when he saw out of the corner of his eye Fox reaching over silently to take Margot's hand. Guilt and shame stabbed him like a hot knife through the gut. There was love gone wrong, just like Fox had told him about earlier. The words in and of themselves were nothing more than the truth, but they'd been unnecessarily cruel. "I'm sorry," he whispered, unable to look at either one of them. "I shouldn't have said that."

Margot was a saint. If there was ever a woman who deserved a child of their own, it was her. She was ever patient, always gentle, and she'd never once raised her voice to him. Even in those early years when he was more difficult to handle than the stupidly stubborn cow in the barn.

"No, you shouldn't have." Benevolent admonition. Margot's smile was sad at first, and she clung tightly to Fox's hand, taking from him the silent strength and support he offered. "But you're wrong." She swallowed the lump in her throat before continuing. "Fox and I have you. My desperation has eased so much since you've been here. I didn't come by you conventionally, but it doesn't make you any less a part of the family. Not to us, anyway.

"Maybe you're different in the same way our family is different. Maybe you don't love as easily or readily as others, but you do love, Goshen. I can see it. I think you only needed to find the right kind of soul to befriend." Margot relaxed her grip on Fox's hand. "I'm not trying to say that he's your soulmate, but he's special to you in a way no one else has ever been."

Goshen fought mightily with himself. The urge to smile joyously clashed with the desire to lash out in some childishly irritable way. He wanted to run away. He wanted to find Ed and kiss him soundly. He didn't know how to respond; he just tucked his chin to his chest and folded his arms up around his head, burying his face against his knees. Goshen let himself smile a little, even as his heart raced almost painfully behind his ribs.

He listened as behind him a wicker chair groaned and creaked from the stress of weight being shifted. A moment later, Margot's dainty frame joined him on the steps. She wrapped long, spindly arms around him and pressed a kiss in his hair. Little by little, Goshen unwound from himself and tipped toward the woman who had proven herself to be a mother to him in every way she possibly could. His head found her lap. Margot readjusted to better accommodate the change in position, rubbing her hand gently back and forth across his back.

"You remember why you chose the name Goshen for yourself?" she asked softly, pulling the fingers of the opposite hand through his comely waves. "There's so much more to you that's still being uncovered. It's okay to learn something new about yourself that you didn't think was possible until now. It's okay to change, to grow, to be something else."

He wanted so much to believe that was true for him. Goshen squeezed his eyes shut, forcing himself to calm down. Accepting even the idea that he could love someone was absolutely terrifying and thrilling all at once. "But how do I know it's love and not something else?" He felt like a broken record.

"Love is something that grows and changes with time," Fox said hesitantly. He looked to Margot for help. She was better at this than him.

"There's a sense of admiration for that person because you enjoy who they are and you enjoy who you are while with them. You want to do anything and everything to keep them happy. If you feel like that someone adds something that enriches your life, if when you wake up and when you go to sleep they're on your mind, if you don't want to imagine being without them, if the thought of losing them scares you, if you can look at that person and notice all their flaws and insecurities, and still yearn for them at the end of the day, then it's not something else. That's love, baby."

It wasn't anything he hadn't heard before, but circumstances had changed. Goshen was having these things pointed out while being able to relate with each and every example Margot gave. "But what do I do with that?" he asked.

"You don't have to do anything, son." Fox got up from his chair, too. Soon they were all three of them lined up side by side on the steps. He laid a hand on Goshen's leg.

"No?" The teenager clung to Margot's skirts like a small child, so unsure and vulnerable in this moment. She smiled down at him adoringly, he could almost feel her eyes on him. "Shouldn't I tell him or something?"

"Only if you want to." Margot's hand stilled in his hair for a moment. "Do you think he feels the same for you?"

Goshen shrugged. "I don't know. I don't think so. He's... I think he still misses Trick. Trick is who he really wants. He admitted before that it was a mistake to have sex with me. And I can't give him anything a conventional boyfriend could."

Margot gave him a squeeze. "You already make him very happy. Even a blind man could see that."

"Happiness isn't all that matters. Most people expect sexual fidelity in a relationship."

"Not everyone," said Fox. "There are all kinds of relationship models out there. Some people love more than one person at a time."

"I'm not talking about loving anyone else, Fox. I can hardly fathom what I feel for one person. I'm talking about *** them. Or even just kissing them. I know he doesn't like that I do it, but we don't ever talk about it because we're not a couple. I think I'd only hurt him if I told him that I feel something for him." Goshen forced himself to sit up. "I'd just disappoint him. At least this way -- the way we're doing things now -- we both know what to expect."

Margot nodded slowly. "A relationship does mean commitment of some kind. That doesn't always translate to a life together forever, but at least a commitment to forgive, to accept, to work with one another for the time that you share. Love requires things like that for it to last. You have to respect your partner -- or partners -- for who they are, good and bad, and embrace all parts of their individuality."

Goshen peered out into the darkening night, nodding faintly as he let that roll around in his head.

"We only want you to be happy," Margot continued. She smiled around him at her husband, then gathered up their son in a tight hug. "I love you. And I fully believe that one day you'll figure out the best way to express it for yourself. There's no rush and no pressure."

Fox added, "We're here for you no matter what."

The teenager hugged Margot tightly, burying his face against her shoulder. He didn't know how to make himself admit aloud that he loved her, too, so he tried to show her by pouring every ounce of his gratitude into their hug. The words would come in time. No rush, no pressure.
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Goshen
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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 11:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"We are not trapped or locked up in these bones. No, no. We are free to change. And love changes us. And if we can love one another, we can break open the sky." ― Walter Mosley


"I thought we were fighting, but we weren't. His body language said one thing, but later on he explained it was something completely different."

It was lunchtime. Margot, on babysitting duty today, brought Polly with her to meet her son during his lunch hour at an outdoor cafe in the marketplace. But Goshen wasn't hungry. He was too busy being entertained by the baby who was trying fruitlessly to tempt her friend rat, Wembley, to life with bits of fairy bread from her plate. She would eat a piece for herself, then drop another on the ground, just as she'd seen so many of her family members do throughout their own meals. Unfortunately, the rat was checked out; snoozing peacefully in the sun on Margot's lap with one of her dainty hands stroking him from head to tail with a slow-paced, hypnotic rhythm.

Goshen was also busy picking his mother's brain for advice. She and Fox were the only people he knew he could count on to never make him feel bad for having questions or not understanding how something (or someone) works.

"How long does it take to stop... misreading things? You and Fox don't fight or anything."

Margot laughed kindly. "You shouldn't compare your relationship with Ed to my marriage."

"Comparison is the only avenue through which I can measure my own growth," Goshen responded almost robotically, sounding every bit as alien as he often felt in this world of human emotion he barely grasped.

"Well, yes," Margot conceded, but held up a finger as she continued. "But not quite what I meant. Everyone is intrinsically different. Think about it: the things that bother me aren't necessarily the same things that bother other people. If you want to know how to avoid an argument with someone, you need to figure out their specific triggers."

Goshen's brows furrowed in thought. Polly tried to get his attention with a sharp noise, holding out a grubby hand with a piece of bread for him. If she couldn't feed Wembley, then she'd feed him. Goshen held his hand out distractedly, then put the tiny morsel of bread she'd given him on the edge of the pedestal table.

"What did you think the fight was about?" Margot prompted, sitting forward to divert the disgruntled baby's attention with an orange wedge. "If it's personal, you don't have to say."

Shaking his head, Goshen indicated the topic wasn't personal. He pushed a hand slowly through his hair in an enervated gesture, slender body arching as he stretched his muscles. "I asked what ended up being a stupid question."

"There's no such thing," his mother interrupted gently, as though she was reciting a long-standing mantra.

His expression flat-lined as he stared at her. Knowing she meant well, Goshen let it pass without comment. "There were some people at the bar discussing getting married, even though they'd only just met. The topic's been on my mind lately, and I didn't immediately realize that they were joking, so I asked about the social norm regarding how long you're supposed to wait for that kind of thing. Somehow it got out of hand, they were teasing me and Ed about getting married--or, rather, getting engaged at their wedding reception. I don't know. I stopped listening once I realized they were only kidding around. And by that point, Ed had become so flustered that he left."

When he looked up again, Goshen found Margot staring at him intently. She didn't say anything, so he continued. "I thought he was mad at me for bringing up the subject and assumed it wasn't something he wanted to discuss. I felt... bad, I think, that my curiosity upset him. And..." Another pause as he searched for the correct word to describe his feelings, "--disappointed, too."

Margot was unnaturally quiet when Goshen finished, no longer staring at him but focusing intently on the task of wiping Polly's face clean. After a minute she asked, "Is it because you don't think Ed is ready to talk about--that?" She'd tripped over the word, stumbling awkwardly as if having replaced another, better suited word at the last possible second.

"At first," he admitted. "Ed's shy about many things."

"It's a really big deal."

Goshen found it interesting that Margot was talking around the subject. "I agree."

"Good. You should."

"I do," he assured her.

Silence.

Margot finished fussing over the baby and finally lifted her eyes to meet his. "At first?" She questioned, circling back to the beginning, prompting him for the rest of the story.

He nodded once. "On the way home he told me he was just annoyed with the other guy and the wholly unromantic idea of a proposal at someone else's wedding."

An involuntary smile twitched into place on Margot's face. "It would be rather unromantic, and selfish, too, I think, to propose on someone else's big day." Her tone one of concession, as if agreeing would somehow broadcast her approval.

"Now I just have to figure out what constitutes 'romantic'."

She peered at him obliquely while offering Polly a drink from her cup. "You're really ready to make such a big step?"

Goshen shrugged, noncommittal. "Not, like, soon or anything. But someday--" He broke off, intentionally leaving the sentence open to interpretation.

Margot's expression was hard for him to read, but the smile she gave him was genuine. Then, the lines around her mouth and eyes softened, her expression growing a little more serious as she reached up to stroke his cheek. "I'm happy you found him."

"Me, too, mom." The use of the title made Margot visibly melt, all lingering apprehension over the topic gone in an instant. "Me, too."
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"The very essence of romance is uncertainty." ― Oscar Wilde


Goshen lay awake in bed long after his family had fallen asleep. It was quiet. The scent of summer clung to the sheets; sunscreen and freshly mown grass, heady applewood smoke, a hint of pineapple. It told the story of their day together, so full and exhausting they hadn't even bothered with bathtime before collapsing into bed. He was tired, too, but Mist's observation kept repeating itself on a loop in his head.

"You have made such a lovely family."

Closing his eyes, Goshen focused on the soft sounds of Ed's and Polly's breathing. In and out. Ed lay pressed up against back, a bare leg draped over both of his. Polly was sprawled inside the empty space created by the protective curve of his body around her. She was a terrible bed hog, always flailing about, often taking up more space than she gave them to share, but he didn't mind. He hadn't minded for a long time now.

Family. That's what this was. The three of them... they'd built a family, hadn't they. While the truth of it had been building for weeks, the full weight of it landed on him all at once tonight when Mist spoke the word 'family' into existence.

Polly stirred, causing Goshen to open his eyes and focus on the tiny baby in front of him. She pushed herself up into a kneeling position, chubby little arms propping herself up as she whined into the darkness. Being that she was only half awake, Polly flopped back down almost as soon as she'd sat up, rubbing her face back and forth against the sheets and crawling a few inches higher on the bed. Goshen rubbed her back gently, soothingly, until she settled again; and for a while, he followed along with the little girl's biological responses.

First, her muscles relaxed. Then her body temperature dropped; it would have been insignificant, an unnoticeable amount to anyone else, but he could feel it the moment it happened. Her levels of melatonin were climbing. The messy, irregular electrical impulses of her brain settled back down into a more steady, rhythmic pattern, which told him Polly was on her way out again. Before long, the alpha waves of relaxed wakefulness transitioned into the slower theta waves of light sleep.

Now see. He understood this. Biology was so very cut and dry; it was comforting. It's the psychological side of things that tended to overwhelm. For some reason, anything and everything to do with Edgar St. James overwhelmed him. And though he found the situation as a whole quite vexing, he couldn't help but wish to be in this position of vexation for as long as he lived.

Because maybe he wasn't supposed to understand. Maybe that was the point. What did it matter that he couldn't provide the textbook definition of every nuance of the way he felt? No one could do that--not even his parents, and he didn't doubt their love for one another. So why was he letting that hold him back? What was stopping him?

"Why shouldn't we have the things we want?" Goshen asked the sleeping baby, who had traded her pacifier for her thumb. Polly, of course, didn't answer, but he beamed at her cherubic face as if she had. The sudden swell of happiness crowding his chest made him ache with longing. Yes. He wanted this family. His family.

-----

Sneaking around was harder than Goshen thought it would be. Probably because he'd never needed to do so before. It had involved some clever wordsmithing. A text. Have to run an errand after work. Meet you at home. It wasn't a lie, see. Just... he left out the specifics. Then came the part where he had to wait around the corner from Ed's shop so he'd know when the boy left, that way he could catch Noodle on her own.

It was complicated business, but this was the easiest way to ask his question without otherwise arousing Ed's suspicion, because as it turns out... they spent a lot of time together.

Thirty seconds after Ethel pulled out of the garage and rumbled smoothly away, Goshen sauntered out of the mouth of the alley where he'd been waiting and crossed the street to let himself inside the shop. He was greeted by the heady scent of grease and oil, and there was a metallic flavor to the air that had him licking his lips in reflex. The radio was tuned to a heavy metal station, cranked up full blast.

"Hello?" he called out, voice lifting above the noise, which startled a plain brown rat that had been munching on a Tostito. The creature squeaked, dropped its bounty, and Goshen watched as it galloped across the garage where it disappeared behind a pyramid of soda cans.

A handful of other exotic machines were strewn about the place, including an aged drink dispensing machine, a half rusted clothes washing machine, and a decrepit and drooping boxing arcade machine. A few workbenches lined the walls, littered with various tools. None of them were put away in any sort of order. This is why he didn't come here all that often; the complete and utter chaos was distressing.

Noodle popped up from behind the washer. She was only slightly recognizable, wearing grime-coated coveralls and a welding helmet with the visor down. She flipped up the plastic shield and squinted at him.

"What in blazes're you doing here? Ed left already. Like..." She checked a clunky black plastic wrist watch, used a rag to clean off the face, and checked again. "Literally two minutes ago."

"Yeah, I know, but--" he stepped forward, then looked down at the floor to make sure he wasn't stepping in anything that would stain. Honestly, that didn't leave him much of a path through the garage work space. Goshen shut his eyes briefly, drew in a breath, and strolled gracefully toward the diminutive girl with his head held high. "I'm here to talk to you, if you can spare a moment."

"You want to talk to me," Noodle said, near tonelessly in disbelief. The girl arched one dark brow and stared at him.

"Can you keep a secret?" He wasn't one to beat around the bush. Goshen always got to the meat of any particular subject right off the bat.

Immediately, and drastically, Noodle's expression transformed from bewilderment to one of sheer hostility. "You better not be cheating on Ed. Because if you are I'll cut off your nutsack with my own bare hands, drop it in a blender, and spoon feed it to you myself." She wiped her hands off clean on the same rag she'd used to clean her watch face, angrily.

"Oh, is that all?" he asked flatly, though there was glint of humor behind amber eyes.

Noodle narrowed her eyes shrewdly. She jammed the rag into her back pocket, flipped off the welding helmet, and thumped it down on top of the washing machine. "Well, what is it?"

"You haven't said whether or not you'll keep it secret. I know you all have your rat pack gossip thing, where everyone knows everyone's business. I want this--no. I need this to be a surprise, Noodle." Goshen eyed the girl imploringly, utterly serious for all of his teasing moments before.

For a long cold minute she stood there and only studied him with a furious intensity he weathered patiently. Her dark eyes roved up and down. Unlike so many others who had looked him over, she did not seem much impressed with what she saw. She sniffed, at length, turned her head, and then spat a wad of too long chewed bubble gum out onto the floor. She did not seem concerned about stepping on it, because she walked right over it to a workbench to dig out another, fresher stick from a drawer. Once she had her gum unwrapped and in her mouth, she turned, hoisted herself up onto bench, and sat perched there like the queen of grime.

"I don't gab to nobody but Jack about anything, and he's not interested in Ed stuff, so whatever your secret is it's safe with me." She folded her arms over her not the least bit ample chest and waited.

Seemingly satisfied with her answer, Goshen gave her his most luxurious smile. It was as if he didn't notice her surly demeanor. That, or he was just really good at ignoring what other people put out there. "I need your help with something. You're with Ed more than anyone else, just about. I thought you might be able to tell me what kind of engagement ring he'd most like to receive."

Noodle sucked in a sharp gasp, which unfortunately made her inhale a wad of barely chewed bubblegum. Suddenly, she was choking. Goshen's smile vanished. The gum got itself lodged in her windpipe. She made gagging noises and pawed at the air, knocking aside a hammer and a few screwdrivers as she clutched at the workbench with her other hand. A second later, she brought her reaching hand to her throat. Her bugging eyes screamed for help.

Goshen was already darting across the room to help. He'd seen the heimlich maneuver performed on television half a dozen times, but it wasn't until this very moment that he realized he knew it was something he could do. Soon enough, Noodle literally coughed up that lump of gum. It sailed across the room and plinked against a soda can, dislodging just that one from the pyramid and miraculously making a single window.

Noodle wheezed and gasped desperately, gratefully, for air. Once she got enough wind back in her lungs, she sprang out of Goshen's grasp and opened her mouth to unleash a torrent, but paused because he immediately interrupted her.

"Could you not die, please? I am trying to marry your cousin."

"Are you freaking for real?" Noodle exclaimed. She had one hand raised already like she had been powering up for a lecture of a lifetime. Or something. Her eyes were wide. She forgot to even bother thanking Goshen for saving her life, because this was more important. "You're going to propose!?"

The whole choking episode had flustered him. Goshen took a moment to reassess and collect himself, pushing slender hands through copper hair to smooth it back into place. In all honesty, she'd terrified him. But no one but him needed to know he was having trouble getting his heart under control again.

"Yes," he finally replied. Maybe he couldn't get his pulse to cooperate because this topic was just as terrifying (and exciting). A smile resurfaced.

"Holy cheese and molasses! This is the greatest secret in the history of secrets! Goshen!" She leapt at him for a spur of the moment hug that he weathered in much the same way as her glare. She was just too excited. "You're going to propose!" She immediately let him go after the hug, jumped back, and proceeded to bounce around in a circle, clapping her hands together.

He might not have known what to do during that hug, but Noodle's excitement was contagious. Goshen beamed at her, infected with a jittery enthusiasm that had him rocking up to bounce on the balls of his feet. His arms swung at his sides, back and forth, then clasped together in anticipation. "I've been thinking about it for a long time now. The last couple weeks made me realize I don't need to think about it anymore." He paused, looking her up and down, expectant, and opened his mouth.

But Noodle was shaking her head and lifted up one hand, fingers together and palm out like she was thinking about placing them over Goshen's mouth. She didn't, but she thought about it. "Say no more. You don't need to explain to me. Seriously, this isn't the sort of thing you've gotta justify." She paused for all of a second and then clasped her hands together again with the giddiest smile. "Goshen, you're going to propose! It's great! It's going to be great! Don't you worry."

"Does that mean you'll help?"

"Does that mean I'll--" She spluttered and flailed her hands. "Of course it means I'll help! I've got this! Ring." She rubbed her hands together like some kind of maniacal mastermind. Under her breath she even seemed to be saying mwuahaha.

"I don't want him to have any idea. You know how suspicious he can get."

"Oh Lordy do I."

Goshen chuckled. "All the scenarios I came up with in my head would make him wonder, and then he'd pester me with questions."

"Don't sweat it. We'll figure it out." Rubbing the back of her head, Noodle wandered aside to yet another workbench entirely. "Wish Linda were still around. She'd be the better person to ask than me. Those two were tight." She wound her index and middle finger around each other as far as she could to show just how tight. Then she pulled open a drawer, pulled out a cell phone, and turned to toss it to him. "Pop in your deets and I'll keep you posted."

Goshen caught the device in both hands and added himself into her list of contacts. Instead of tossing it back, he actually walked over to hand it to Noodle personally.

"Thanks," she said, taking it back. She slipped it into the front pocket of her coveralls. "And thanks for saving my life," she added. She even smiled, maybe a little shyly.

For a moment, he looked stricken. It passed quickly, replaced by one of his patented silken smiles. "You're welcome. And thank you, too."

"Are you kidding? This is going to be so much fun! Best mission impossible ever." She aimed a super light punch at his arm.

Goshen just kept on smiling, because Noodle only hits the people she likes.
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Goshen
Devils Food Cookie
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment." - Sarah Dessen


By mid-afternoon the second level unit was ready to receive visitors. Not Nellie, specifically. Most everyone had the chance to get a few hours more sleep, but her. Olive and Auntie Sizzle were taking turns playing nurse to the newborn, slipping into the bedroom for feeding and then whisking him away immediately after to allow the exhausted mother more rest. When he wasn't eating, he was sleeping too, cradled in the warm arms of one admirer or another.

A new baby was cause for celebration, so when Ed and Goshen stopped by to visit, they brought presents and balloons to commemorate the occasion. One of the gifts, acquired last minute on a sprint across town and back, was a fourteen inch baby safe plush of Remy the rodent chef from the Disney film Ratatouille. There were even gifts for Nellie and the new baby's older siblings. Ed doled out the treasure while Goshen plopped Polly on the rug with Warren and a handful of helium filled mylar balloons with long, curled ribbon strings for the two to fight over. There were enough adults in the room to make sure no one got tangled up.

"Where is he?" asked Goshen. He rubbed his hands together eagerly, anxious to get them on the newest ratkin family member.

Olive left the room and came back a minute later with Jack's girlfriend, Beth, who held the tiny baby against one shoulder. She was hugely pregnant herself, due in three months, and positively glowing. "I suppose I can share," Beth admitted with a small sigh.

Goshen's eyes were as big as saucers while watching her transfer the little boy into her arms as she made to pass him over. "He's so small," the prince whispered.

Beth snorted. "If only they felt that way on the inside." She patted her swollen belly after the trade off, smiling at the bump affectionately. "Not too much longer and we won't have to take turns like this." She winked at Goshen who was staring at the baby in absolute wonder. It made her laugh.

The prince hardly knew what to do with himself. Nellie's baby was so small, practically swimming in the tiny sleeper he'd been dressed in. Goshen plucked at the empty fabric where his little toes should have been, then stroked a finger across a tiny fist. He moved slowly, almost in a daze, toward the couch and lowered himself carefully onto a cushion so as not to disturb the sleeping babe.

He was so enraptured by the snoozing newborn that he hardly felt the cushions shifting beside him. The sharp weight of Ed's chin settling on his shoulder, and half his body tucking up close against his back registered sooner. He stole a brief glance to find the younger boy's radiant smile right up in his face. Ed stole a kiss to his cheek and then reached around his arm to very lightly touch the new baby's tiny knuckles with his fingertip.

Polly shrieked at that exact moment, a sharp, shrill noise that coincided with a flail that made the balloons jostle together noisily. Ed twitched. Goshen looked up at her, smiling, then back down at the baby who hadn't moved a muscle. "To think Polly was this small at one point. I almost don't believe it. I would have called her tiny this morning, but now?" He shook his head faintly.

"I think she was smaller," Ed remarked quietly. He worked the new baby's tiny fingers apart very carefully with his own, watching all four of them spread and then coil around his pinky. He stifled a giggle against the back of Goshen's shoulder.

"I think so, too." Goshen managed to extract one of his arms, freeing a hand that he then used to stroke the downy hairs on the baby's head. His fingertips traced the silken whorl, and then the tiny curve of his ear.

Polly shrieked again, but when Goshen continued to stroke the new baby's face, she abandoned the colorful ribbons and balloons to toddle over to the couch where she could better demand attention. Dissatisfied with only her Papa's smile in response, the thirteen month old proceeded to butt her way into the scene by climbing onto Goshen's lap and inserting herself into his arms. With a startled gasp, Ed swooped in to rescue the newborn from Goshen's arms before Polly could sit on him.

Auntie Sizzle tittered from the corner of the room where she sat in an old recliner, knitting needles clacking away. "Someone's jealous," she sang.

Goshen laughed, winding his arms around the little girl and crushing her to his chest. Polly grinned at him from behind her pacifier. Then she headbutted him against the cheek. "Ow! Look. Look at the baby, Polly. Can you say baby?" Goshen gently tapped the newborn's leg in an attempt to draw the toddler's attention. "Baby."

Polly not only refused to participate, she twisted around to sprawl out in Goshen's arms, facing the room. She reclined against his chest like the little diva she was, and after popping the pacifier out of her mouth with a chubby hand, said, "My." And that was that.

Ed giggled as he resituated beside them, the smile on his face more adoring than ever. He carefully nestled the newborn close to his chest and sat cross-legged on the neighboring cushion. Goshen slipped one of his arms around his shoulders, and Ed scooted in close, flush against his side. "What's his name anyway? Did Nellie say?" he asked Auntie Sizzle.

"Oh," she said, as if the very concept had completely slipped her mind until just this moment. "Gary."

"Gary," Goshen cooed. "I like it. We need one."

"A Gary?" Ed laughed, jostling the baby just enough to make his little face scrunch up in the beginning stages of a protest. A whimper soon followed. "Oh. Sorry, sorry," he whispered to the baby, and then proceeded to make hushing sounds while rocking him.

"Yes," he replied softly, watching as Ed coaxed the infant back to sleep. "Don't you want another baby?"

"Oh gosh I don't know," Ed replied. The very concept made him go wide-eyed. To his credit, he did not drop baby Gary and run off in a panic. "I mean... Another?" He tilted his head to side-eye Goshen and Polly.

The former was watching him dotingly. The latter threw her pacifier at him and yelled, "Da!" Goshen and Auntie Sizzle seemed to chuckle in unison. Miss Polly squirmed out of Goshen's arms and wriggled to the floor to go chasing after the pacifier, which, after bouncing off Ed's forehead, had gone bouncing across the floor.

"She knows as well as the rest of us do who she belongs to," Sizzle commented. She never stopped rocking and knitting.

"Another...?" Ed gulped and looked down at the tiny newborn in his arms. "Well. We'd need a bigger house, wouldn't we?" He wasn't entirely against the idea. "And I mean. We can't just take baby Gary. He's Nellie's."

"And mine!" exclaimed Cindy, swooping in for her turn at holding the baby. Ed surrendered the newborn to his big sister without complaint. He could only smile, but now his arms were empty and so he hugged himself.

Goshen hugged him, too. "So we'll get a bigger house." He made it sound so simple.

"Will we?" Ed sounded absolutely bewildered. He set his hands on Goshen's arms to make him keep squeezing, as if needing the extra reassurance.

"Sure. Why not? It shouldn't take very much to convince the landlord to let me out of my lease."

"Pfff." Ed spluttered. "Well it's not like we're going to get a house as soon as tomorrow." His tone indicated how absurd he thought the notion was.

"But we could start looking," Goshen reasoned. "I know you. You're a fickle thing. It will take us forever to find something."

"No," Ed agreed cautiously, starting to literally squirm. "There's no harm in looking."

"Great!" The prince flashed a silken, victorious smile at him. "It's settled."

"It is?" Ed sounded as if he wasn't completely certain he knew what precisely he had agreed to.

Goshen's smile dimmed, his eyebrows twitching into a quizzical furrow. "You do want to look, right?"

"Of course I do! I mean. It's a thing I dream about doing all the time. Looking at houses. With you. Eventually." There was a momentary collective awww from the sidelines. Ed glanced over at Beth and Cindy, and blushed. "But gosh. This is so sudden. It's... everything's out of order now. With Polly. And you." He pushed his fingers up into his hair to cradle his spinning head.

"And you want to do things the right way." The older boy nodded, recalling past conversations about the subject.

Ed nodded, his hands slipping from his head as he did so. They slapped against his thighs. "Polly threw everything out of whack." Listen to him blaming the baby, but he was smiling at her as she gurgled at him from across the room. "Not that I'm complaining. I can't go back and change that and make her go about things in proper order or anything." Sizzle snorted and Ed giggled. "But wow. I'm not ready to just jump in to get another baby until... you know. Everything's right."

Goshen continued to hold the younger boy in a tight embrace as he listened. When Ed was finished, he made a dubious noise in response, but ultimately accepted the explanation without argument. "That's fair, I think. Fox would probably agree were I to ask him, so, all right."

At that point Ed exhaled tremendous relief and his pulse stopped going haywire. To say that all this talk about adopting another baby had put him in a panic was an understatement. At least he had managed to restrain himself from having a total freak out.

Goshen caught Ed's jaw with a few fingers and directed the boy's face toward his own for a lengthy kiss that completely settled his rattled nerves. Ed sighed absolute contentment and melted against him. When Goshen pulled away, his expression was positively sly. "I have something that might make you feel better."

"Do you?" Ed asked dazedly.

The prince nodded, leaning to one side so he could slip a hand into his pocket. He produced a small, metal keychain with four charms: one circle and three squares. "Here," he said, holding it up in front of the younger boy's face like a fishing lure. "I got this today while we were shopping."

Ed blinked several times and rubbed the blur out of his eyes before taking the dangling charms from the older boy's grasp. "What's all this?" he asked, inspecting each of the little metal cards and the disc. He smiled and ran his fingers over the engraving etched onto the surface of the circle, but he looked puzzled about the miniature calendar pages with their circled dates.

The prince leaned closer, getting all up in Ed's space to help him decipher the mystery. "Well, this one's the day we met. See?" Goshen smoothed the pad of his thumb across the surface of the first square. He slanted a curious glance aside at what he could see of Ed's face from so close, noting a blush coupled with a smile before moving on to the next tiny calendar.

"And this one's the day we exchanged 'I love you's." Ed's smile grew and he tipped his head to nuzzle his nose to Goshen's cheek. He never took his eyes off the square. Pausing the explanation process by getting his fingers in the way so he could trace the engraved circle around that specific date. The third one, when they flipped to it, brought a puzzled knit to the younger boy's brow.

"This is today." As far as Ed knew there was nothing significant about this day besides the fact that Gary had been born several hours ago. Goshen's birthday wasn't for another few days yet. What was he missing?

"That's right," Goshen confirmed quietly. He turned his face toward Ed's, remaining intimately close. He let go of the charms, sliding his fingers over the younger boy's hand and gripped his wrist gently. It was a struggle to keep his physical reaction in check, too late in stopping the flood of adrenaline and the rush of endorphins that made his heart pound thunderously in his chest. "And today's the day I ask you to marry me."

Goshen slid away from Ed, off the cushions of the couch and onto one knee in front of the younger boy. A collective gasp chorused around him. Ed's jaw dropped open silently, struck completely mute and staring. From where he knelt, Goshen pulled another item from his pocket. This time it was a black velvet box that, when opened, displayed a riotous rainbow of colorful stones on a white gold band, nestled in black silk.

"I've had this ring for almost three months and don't want to wait any longer." The prince wore his most silken, luxurious smile, and said, "Edgar St. James, I love you. Will you marry me?"

Ed's immediate response was, at first, a squeak. The room was holding its breath. When he too remembered how to breathe again, he whispered, "Oh my gosh." Which triggered a repeat switch that had him saying it a half dozen more times, steadily getting a little louder each time, and bouncing on his seat until he was right on the edge and clasping his hands around Goshen's, and the ring in its box.

"Yes," Ed wheezed. And then with a hysterical giggle, and much louder, "Yes! Yes I'll marry you!" Instead of spilling off the couch, he pulled hard on Goshen's hands to make him lurch forward and then flung his arms around him for the fiercest of hugs.

Feeling as if she needed to contribute to this historic moment, Polly shrieked, "My!" Which was the cue for everyone else to break the silence. Cindy and Beth both screamed their congratulations. Auntie Sizzle might have sniffed and dabbed a tear out of the corner of her eye. Olive harrumphed. Pert sighed, having slipped in from the hallway when no one was looking.

Ed unlatched from the hug and leaned back, grabbing Goshen by the face to kiss him even more intensely. An enthusiastic affirmative oozed out of his every pore. It was the kind of response Goshen could read on a molecular level, appealing to him in the best of ways. There was no doubt in his mind about Ed's answer; it filled him with a level joy he could hardly fathom.

Lost in the delirium of euphoria, Goshen didn't immediately comprehend that the sudden build of pressure behind his eyes and the moisture on his face was because he was crying. He'd never cried in his life. And it didn't make sense to him because he was happy! He laughed, overcome with emotion, and swiped at his eyes with the back of a hand. In doing so, he realized he was still holding the ring box.

"Oh!" He laughed again, pressing his mouth to the back of his hand in an attempt to hold back the deluge of emotion rising up within him. Goshen felt as if he sprung a leak, too overwhelmed to pinpoint the source and patch the hole.

"Put it on, put it on!" Ed cried excitedly, offering his hand. Nobody pointed out the fact that Goshen's eyes were leaking, or that his hands shook while putting the ring on Ed's finger.

"Do you like it?" he asked tentatively.

"I love it!" Ed took three seconds to admire the ring now adorning his finger, and then grabbed Goshen's face to kiss him hard again. "I love you. Oh my gosh, Goshen. You're the best. This is the best." An incoherent noise that combined a gurgle and a scream escaped him next. Polly echoed him from across the room, which made Ed break into a short giggle before he kissed Goshen again. "I love you." And again. "I love you so much I can't even."

Ed's response was everything Goshen imagined it would be and more. He weathered the younger boy's spastic reaction with the ever patient grace he was known for, happy to love and be loved in return. He pushed slender fingers through Ed's hair, twisting and gathering it loosely in one hand. He wrapped the other around the gold circlet Ed wore around his neck, reeling him closer for a deeper, lengthier kiss.

A loud and unexpected pop interrupted the scene. The boys came apart with a startled gasp, and everyone turned to see Jameson standing in the open doorway, an unlit half burnt cigar clutched between his teeth and a freshly opened bottle of champagne clutched in his hand, angled with foam spouting out the top. He blinked owlishly at all the staring.

"What? Don't just sit there. Someone get some damn glasses. We're celebrating, right? Mazel tov!" He lifted the oozing bottle in salute to Ed and Goshen, who beamed at one another in rapturous excitement and stood to join the others.
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