so. much. sugary. fluff. sorry not sorry.
Alex paused just inside the front foyer; head cocked as the sound of the upstairs TV drifted down the stair. He glanced at his watch, but the hands read 5:30, just as they had read 5:25, five minutes ago. Bemused, he set the white box that had been balancing carefully on one hand down on the hall table, and padded up the stairs to investigate.
…..this has nothing to do with a box….
“Great news everyone!” Matthew trilled as he bustled into the room, arms clasped around a box overflowing with papers. He stopped at the head at the table and beamed at them. “Charles and Camilla are coming on tour!”
Silence greeted his announcement. Ilan, who seconds ago had been on the cusp of defeating Ralph in a game of paper football, swallowed heavily, all of his energy sliding down to form a heavy knot of trepidation in his stomach. The reaction around the table was similar. Victoria slouched down in her chair, while Marie suddenly became very interested in her files, or at least, trying to hide herself behind her files. The silence stretched on, becoming heavier by the second. Matthew’s smile wavered, and was about to crack when Oliver sighed, flipping open a notebook and reaching for a pen.
Instantly, the grin was back. “Victoria Day weekend!”
A chorus of groans greeted that particular piece of news.
“It’s appropriate!” Matthew scolded, “besides it’s only a small tour, just three provinces.” He began to rifle through the box, searching for the itinerary.
The mood in the room shifted as it dawned on them that not all of them would have to sacrifice their holiday to be royal babysitters. Ilan eyed his neighbours, wondering which ones would be the unlucky ones.
“A ha!” Matthew grinned, and pulled a sheet out. “Let’s see, they’ll land in Halifax.”
“Then it’s on to P.E.I the day after,” Matthew threw Annie a smile, which she returned, painfully. “And then finally, they fly to,” Matthew flipped the sheet over as the remaining provinces collectively held their breath, “Manitoba!”
Ilan’s shoulders drooped. “Oh come on!”
Next to him, Ralph let out a sigh of relief and leaned back in his chair.
Ilan stared hard at Matt. “Shouldn’t they go to the capital instead?”
“Oh hell no,” Oliver said, “I’m opening the cottage that weekend.”
“Sweet. Can I come?” Owen asked.
“Bring a case of beer and you can,” Oliver said, jotting something down in his notebook.
Owen grinned, “can do.”
“Hey, if he gets to go I get to go!” Ralph piped up.
“Bring steak,” Jean advised. Oliver shot him a look, but the man just shrugged. “Nobody wants to eat nothing but barbequed vegetables.” Oliver rolled his eyes, but made another note the in the book.
Ilan watched them miserably, thinking of large cottage, with its floor to ceiling windows, airy guestrooms and sunny solarium leading out onto the large deck. They’d break out the jet skis of course, and there would be sunset fishing and bonfires every night. On Monday, they’d launch fireworks from the dock in the middle of the lake and party until the sun rose…and he’d be stuck in a receiving line, shaking hands and slowly sweating to death under a wool suit.
It was almost enough to make a man consider becoming a republic…
“Tough break, bro.” Ralph clapped a hand on his shoulder in commiseration. “We’ll light a firework in honour of your noble sacrifice.”
Ilan groaned, and accepted the official itinerary Matthew waved under his nose happily.
The things he did for family and country.
prreeeeeettty sure this is not what you had in mind. fail.
“…What?” Oliver asked, confused, when Jean suddenly stilled. “What is it?”
The other man deflated, sinking against him like a heavy blanket. “Calisse de chat d’marde,” Jean grumbled into his neck, one hand flinging out to point accusingly across the room. Confused, Oliver followed it.
In their haste, they’d forgotten to close the bedroom door, and now Schrodinger sat in the threshold, kitty eyes narrowed and glaring at Jean for all he was worth. Unable to help it, Oliver started to laugh.
“Oi!” Jean nipped his neck in retaliation. Oliver yelped, and promptly pinched him in return. Jean reared his head back far enough to favour him with a smirk, and then the war began.
Oliver attempted to squirm away. Jean countered by becoming deadweight, pinning him in place. The blond went for the ahoge instead, and was stopped by fingers dancing along the sensitive skin of his sides. Laughter and pinches turned into breathless tickling, which melted into soft caresses and the cat was forgotten.
….Until Schrodinger, sensing that his human had lost the war, decided to take matters into his own paws.
Jean will say he is there for the peaches; soft and sweet and unable to grow in his colder climate. They’ll spend the day wandering between the trees, baskets on their hips, reaching up and pulling off the low hanging fruit, the sticky juice staining their fingers. At night they’ll eat them with fresh cream, sitting out on the veranda of Oliver’s Niagara home, side by side in the sultry summer air.
Every year, Oliver watches the harvest. He watches as peaches are carefully placed into the backs of trucks, which set off down his highways, bound for the markets and tables of his brothers and sisters.
It takes only a day for one of those trucks to cross the border into Jean’s home.
But still, every year, Jean comes himself, basket in hand.
For the peaches.
Matthew stood in front of the bookshelf, running his fingers over the glossy spines, trying to make a decision. One by one, the titles of the books slid under his fingers; Raising Strong Willed Children, Forging Family Bonds, Your Loving Family, Ten Steps to a Better, Stronger Family…
Across the bookstore there came a terrific crash, followed by familiar voices rising in anger.
With a sigh, Matthew swept the whole selection of books into his shopping basket.
I blame liz :P
“What?” Matt turned away from the crowd, struggling to hear the voice on the other end of the phone line.
“I said, do you get to keep the dog?!” Al bellowed back. “The one in the tartan!”
“The…dog?” Matt’s brow furrowed in confusion, until he spotted the small Scottish Terrier that had lead his athletes into the stadium. Oh.
“Because I was thinking,” Al continued on in a rush, “you know Kuma doesn’t really like other animals, sooooo I was thinking I’d do you a favour and take Haggis MacBark off your hands…”
“The dog, Matt,” Al said as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. “I’ll totally take care of him and play with him every day, and take him for walks. And he can totally play with the president’s dog-”
“Al!” Matt said, “its not my dog. It’s Scotland’s.”
“…Oh.” Even across the ocean, Al’s disappointment was clear as day.
Matthew thought that was the end of it until, two weeks later when they’d all gathered to discuss the world economy yet again, Al stopped mid-sentence, making a beeline across the conference room to sling his arm around Scotland’s neck.
“So, about those dogs….”
Matthew had learned, decades ago, that when Alfred swanned up to you, both hands behind his back and megawatt grin in place, it was best to mentally brace yourself for the inevitable outcome.
This time it was in form of an eye blindingly garish polyester running suit, patterned in the iconic red, white and blue of Captain America. It was, Alfred explained with shining eyes, the greatest thing ever to be created, and he was going to wear it during the half marathon next weekend.
When Matthew calmly pointed out that they had already agreed to wear matching t-shirts in a show of North American solidarity, the smile grew. Matthew’s heart sank. Alfred’s other hand whipped out from behind his back to proudly display the other “greatest thing ever to be created.”
The polyester this time was bright yellow, with black claw marks up the sides and bright blue shoulders. A drawn on belt with a large “X” in the middle completed the replica Wolverine shirt.
Alfred rocked on his heels in excitement. “North American solidarity, bro.”
Hahahaa 3 sentences, yeah right. Also, fun fact of the day: Ontario is home to 1/3 of the world’s fresh water.
It’s easy to forget that Oliver is more than just glass towers and grid locked streets, political halls and busy factories. It’s easy to forget that there is a side of him that runs just as wild as the rest of them. They have their mountains and their wide open plains, their huge swaths of ice and craggy ocean shores; it’s easy to forget the home of streams and rivers and ponds too numerous to count, the home of four Great Lakes, greeny blue and steely grey, some days silent and some days seething in their banks. It’s easy to forget that a joking push into the pool won’t produce a coughing, sputtering squawking mess…
Jean has exactly 20 seconds to remember all this, before a wet hand closes on his ankle in an iron grip. He has 5 seconds more to think “calisse” before he’s under the water as well.