Chapter 34 – I Know How You Got That Tattoo
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Chapter Thirty-Four - I Know How You Got That Tattoo

April stole glances in his dad’s direction as he was over-consciously chewing his breakfast. His dad looked good. No, he looked fantastic. It was like he was ten years younger or something like that. April couldn’t believe his eyes; was his dad in love or something? He couldn’t ask such a question. It would have seemed childish coming from him, and what kids ever asked their parents that kind of thing?

For the moment, he needed to settle for what was happening in front of his eyes. First of all, after the initial shock and talking about the situation, now there was a lot of politeness. Tom asked very politely for the salt, and Sid passed it to him just as politely.

“You don’t have to be like this for my sake,” April thought out loud.

His dad quirked an eyebrow. “Like this, how?”

“You know.” April shrugged. “Like you haven’t, err, um, like you didn’t, ah, like you don’t know each other!”

“You don’t have to shout each phrase,” Sid said. 

“Sorry.” April hadn’t realized his voice was getting louder for no reason. “I never thought I would sit at the same table as my dad’s boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend.” Sid looked amused at his plate, then at Tom.

“I have no idea what’s the right word,” April murmured and pretended to be absorbed by the food in front of him. As usual, everything his dad cooked tasted heavenly. His mind just wasn’t at breakfast. “Lover?”

“That sounds sort of old-fashioned,” Sid replied.

“We’re partners, son. How’s that?” Tom used the same gruff tone, but April was getting more and more used to it.

“Partners, okay.” He no longer minded being called ‘son’, either. In a way, he was Tom’s son. Twice, actually, if he thought about it. Once, because Tom was his dad’s partner. And twice, because he and Jett were together. Yeah, being called ‘son’ by that temperamental man sounded right.

“I am going to tell Jett everything myself. So I’d appreciate it if you didn’t call him,” Tom added.

“No chance of that. I think he went to an area where’s poor signal. Plus, it seemed like he didn’t want to be disturbed.”

Tom smiled. “You understand my son pretty well.”

“They’ve been living like boyfriends for several weeks now. Although April still didn’t find the courage to tell Jett a pretty big secret.”

“Dad!” April protested right away.

Tom quirked an eyebrow and looked at him. April felt the need to duck under the table. 

“Do you use grenades and stuff?” he asked all of a sudden, after a couple of moments of silence.

“Grenades?” Tom looked at Sid, most probably wondering how April’s mind worked.

“Way to deflect, April,” his dad scolded him. “April and Jett have known each other for many years.”

“Really?” Tom asked, his eyes turning to stare April down.

“It was that summer.”

Tom grunted in reply, and his eyes became shadows.

“They found some common ground, I believe,” Sid continued. “Like us.”

Tom grunted again. Now April knew that not liking to talk about feels ran in the family. 

“Only that April,” Sid stopped for a moment and let out a small sigh which he might have kept in for years, “told Jett at that time that he was called Theo.”

“Theo,” Tom said slowly. His eyes now became unfocused like he was searching for something in his mind. “Theo, Theo, Theo,” he repeated. Then he snapped his fingers. “The missing boy!”

“The missing boy?” Sid and April both asked in surprise.

“Jett kept pestering me at that time about how one would go about finding a missing person. My mind wasn’t quite on how to help him find such a person. But he mentioned the name many times at the end of that summer. For a while, I thought it could be some imaginary friend.”

April made himself small in his chair. So, at that time, Jett hadn’t hated him. At all. Why else could he have asked his dad how to find him? He stared down, feeling ashamed now.

“And you two just met again?” Tom asked.

“By accident,” April murmured, “yes.”

“And didn’t he remember you?”

“He thought I looked like someone he knew. But I told him that no, I wasn’t Theo.” His voice grew so faint that Tom and Sid leaned over the table to hear him.

“Then you should tell him,” Tom said solemnly. 

“Exactly what I told him,” Sid said.

“Great. Now no one’s on my side,” April complained.

“On this topic, I’m not, not the way you want me to be, at least,” Sid replied. “I think it’s long overdue, April. Not telling him is the wrong thing to do.”

“All right, I will,” April promised.

“Just curious,” Tom started, “why did you choose not to tell him?”

“I thought he would kick my ass,” April replied promptly.

“They had a bit of a falling out,” Sid explained. “They didn’t part as friends that summer, although April has had a crush on Jett ever since.”

“Dad!” April hoped the urgency in his voice was enough to have his dad drop the issue. 

Tom appeared amused. “Funny thing, I thought Jett, too, might have had a crush on his imaginary friend. He was talking about him way too much to be only friendship, although, at that age, one can never know. Kids obsess over so many things. I believe the distraction was good, even if it lasted so little.”

It felt so surreal to hear Tom talk so naturally about his son’s crush on a thirteen-year-old boy from such a long time ago. Actually, hearing Tom talk naturally about anything was enough to make April stare and gape. He pushed his jaw upward with one hand. 

“I will tell him,” he said softly. “Just don’t give me away, please.”

“I would never do that,” Sid promised.

“And it’s not my job to do that either, so it’s all fine by me. God knows I have my own secrets to tell,” Tom added.

April looked down again. There would be so many things that Jett couldn’t even start to fathom happening tomorrow.

***

“It’s been a good run, right?” Zane punched him in the shoulder and shared with him an ear to ear grin. 

“Could you just stop it with the punches already?” Jett massaged his shoulder. “You wrecked me, asshole.”

“Hey, it was totally your call because you needed it and stuff. Not that I didn’t enjoy kicking your ass big time.” Zane cracked his knuckles in satisfaction. “Now, I can barely wait to go back to my boyfriend.”

“So, serious about this dude, eh?”

“Told you. Serious enough to put my ass up for total destruction.”

“Let me know how that works for you.”

“Like hell, I will.”

“Just testing you.” It was Jett’s turn to grin. “Hey, don’t you want to get inside?”

“Nah. I’ve had enough of you this weekend. And I guess you want to be reunited with your pretty boyfriend just as much as I want. Tell April and Carina I say ‘hi’.”

“Will do,” Jett promised.

“It looks like it’s a party at your home or something. All the lights are on,” Zane pointed out.

“Yeah.” Jett stared at the house, a bit intrigued. “April and Carina might play hide and seek with Jay or something.”

“Hide and seek? All over the house?”

Jett shrugged. “What do I know? I can barely wait for Jay to be old enough to teach him how to throw a punch. You know, basic skills for life.”

Zane held his fist up, and Jett bumped it with his. “See you around, man.”

“Yeah. And don’t forget to tell me all about the wrecking of your ass.”

“Sure, sure. Maybe I’ll shoot a video, show you everything.”

Jett made a face. “Nah, I’ll settle for you telling me about it. I don’t want to look at your wrinkled balls.”

“Wrinkled? Is that what you see in the mirror?” Zane asked with a smirk.

“Just get out of here, Zane. I’m not up for a rematch on the front lawn of my house.”

“Too bad. As always, I would have destroyed you completely.”

“Dream on, fucker. Bye.”

Zane waved and smiled as he turned on his heels and began typing something fast on his phone. Jett could only suspect that Zane was already planning to meet with his boyfriend, and he couldn’t blame him.

He walked toward the front door, still smiling. It was good to be back even if he had been away for no more than two days or so. Maybe April was cooking something yummy. That, if he had returned from his visit for some time.

His chest was no longer as heavy. Well, maybe it wasn’t all okay, but he was reasonably fine. At least, he could be the same loving boyfriend toward April, a friend to Carina, and a dad to Jay, like he always wanted to be.

“Hey, you’re back.” April jumped in front of him, as soon as Jett walked through the door. 

Jett held April in his arms and smooched him loudly. April pushed him away slightly and looked away. “What? Don’t tell me you’re still mad at me.”

“Um, there’s someone here who wants to talk to you,” April explained.

Jett stiffened. Could it be that the Z brothers had sent some goons or something, trying to convince him to come back? He let April down from his arms. “Who?” he asked gruffly.

“Son, we need to talk.” His dad appeared from the living room.

Jett set his jaw hard. “I have nothing I want to say to you.”

“Please, it’s important.” April squeezed his arm, and Jett looked at him with hurt eyes. April winced, but he didn’t look away this time.

“I don’t see anything we could talk about.”

“Maybe you need to open your eyes for a bit, then.” It was someone else’s voice who said those words.

Jett looked up and stared at Sid. April’s dad was standing by his father’s side, and somehow, that picture struck him as off. Why would both dads be here? Had anything happened while he had been away? The ground under his feet seemed to tilt. “What? Did anything happen to Jay? Carina --”

“No, everyone’s fine,” Sid hurried to appease his worries.

His feet descended back on the ground. Jett had no idea why his mind had chosen to go in that direction out of all things. Now he felt a little stupid. If anything had happened to Jay, April would have told him that first. “All right. What do you want to talk about?” He stared defiantly at his dad.

Tom shifted his weight from one foot to another. “Let’s talk in the kitchen. It’s kind of private.” He scratched the back of his neck with the index finger and grimaced.

I hope he’s not ill, Jett thought right away. That would be the kind of thing his dad wouldn’t like to talk about in front of others. Jett steeled himself and continued his silent prayers that his old man’s health was still good. He looked in perfect shape, but who knew about such things?

With a nod of his head, he followed his father into the kitchen. From the corner of one eye, he noticed April hurrying by his dad’s side and the affection with which Sid ruffled his hair. That would never be he and his dad; at that time, Zane had just wanted to rile him up good, but there was truth in that, too. There was a pretty good damned reason why he never liked to talk about feels.

But his dad was still his dad. And he would do his best to help him if it came to that. He needed to be strong if anything happened to his parent.

Tom didn’t sit once they were inside the kitchen. There was a pretty nice smell coming from the oven, so April, indeed, must have been hard at work to make something tasty. 

Jett sniffed a little. It smelled like roasted pork. And smoked paprika. He didn’t recall telling April how much he liked that dish. It wasn’t like they talked much about food when they were together. And he would have eaten whatever April cooked anyway. 

“I made your favorite,” his dad said.

Jett plopped down on one chair and crossed his arms over his chest. “Well, you didn’t have to. Now, what you wanted to say to me?” he asked gruffly.

Tom looked away and paced some more.

Jett could feel his resolve to act like a prick waning. “Shit,” he murmured under his breath. “You’re not dying, are you?”

Tom stopped his pacing and stared at him in surprise. “No. What makes you think that?”

Jett breathed out. “Good. I mean, I’m glad that you’re not dying.”

“It’s good that you care.”

“Stop making fun of me,” Jett said, frowning and staring down.

“I’m not. I’m serious. I’m glad that you care.”

Jett could feel a lump the size of a tennis ball lodging in his throat. He wasn’t going to start crying now, right? 

“What I want to tell you is not exactly easy,” Tom started. “You know how much I loved your mom.”

Jett shifted in his chair. Even his dad wanted to talk about feels. What the hell was wrong with everyone? Was something in the water? Someone had to call the health department. “Could’ve fooled me,” he replied eventually.

“I did. She was the love of my life.”

“Is this going anywhere?” Jett asked, hating how his voice sounded. There was only this much he could do to stop his mind from going all mush and flooded with things that needed to remain gated and buried. “Are you finally remarrying or something?”

“Or something,” Tom confirmed solemnly. “And I want you to hear it from me.”

“You don’t have to go through all this trouble. I wish you and the missus all the happiness. I might not attend the wedding, though. Not my speed. But I’ll make sure to send a toaster or something.” He was being a jerk, but he could hardly help it. After all, his dad didn’t want him to be happy with April. So, yeah, he couldn’t pretend he cared about his dad’s remarrying too much.

“It’s not a missus. And I’m not remarrying. Not yet, at least.”

Jett stared at his dad, blinking. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

“Mind your language, Jett,” his dad barked.

Jett could think of a myriad of angry retorts, but he bit his tongue. The last thing he wanted was to get into another fight with his old man. The less he got involved, the sooner his dad would be on his merry way. “Whatever. Who is it?”

Tom appeared to have a tough time finding his words.

“Well?” Jett asked. “Wait … not a missus … Dad?”

“It’s Sid, okay?” his dad blurted out.

Jett was glad he was sitting. His jaw went slack. Was that a joke or something? “Sid? Like in April’s dad?” he shouted.

“Yes, April’s dad,” Tom confirmed, throwing his arms wide open.

Jett shook his head. It was unbelievable. It was fucking unbelievable. No, he couldn’t just believe that! “How the hell?” he murmured the question.

Tom sighed. “We didn’t plan for it.”

“Ha!”

“It just happened.”

“Seriously? Wait. All this time, you’ve been at Sid’s place?”

“Yeah. April walked in on us, and it wasn’t easy.”

“Walked in on you? Doing what? Oh, fuck. Were you fucking?” Jett was well aware his voice had over the admitted limit of decibels, but he couldn’t control anything anymore. His dad was calmly admitting to him that he was fucking another man! After all the scandal he had caused because he and April did exactly that!

“No. For God’s sake, Jett, pull your mind out of the gutter.”

“I can’t! You put it there!”

“We were just cooking together, but, well, I embraced Sid and --”

“Oh, fuck! I mean, what on earth … Dad, why? I mean, all of a sudden, you discovered you liked dudes? And you’re giving me shit about April?”

Tom looked away, appearing very much embarrassed. 

Jett ran both hands over his face. “Sid is not your first dude,” he said matter-of-factly.

His dad grunted in reply.

“Fuck,” Jett barely managed. “So why the hell couldn’t you see why I liked April?”

“I didn’t want you conflicted and unhappy.” Tom exhaled and shook his head, his hands on his hips, his fingers tapping nervously. 

“But I’m not conflicted and unhappy! How blind can you be? I’m in love with April! I love him!”

***

April covered his face and muttered to himself. “They don’t exactly keep it private, do they?”

His dad patted his knee in sympathy. “I suppose that’s not the way you wanted to hear Jett confess to you, right?”

April nodded, feeling all drained of energy. “He has said many things to me, but never something as direct as this.”

“Well, then it’s all the more reason for you to tell him the truth. You can’t hide forever, April. He might get upset with you, even angry, but you’ve heard him, right? He loves you. He’ll forgive you, of course, if you apologize with all your heart.”

“Thank you for the pep talk, dad,” April said dryly. “But you’re right. And I must tell him that I’ve always been in love with him, as well.”

“That should help you patch things up nicely,” Sid said with a smile. “And don’t forget you’ll always have me.”

“Thank you, dad.” April put his hand over his dad’s. “You have no idea how good it is to know this.”

On the other side of the kitchen door, the shouted conversation between Jett and Tom continued.

***

“Why? Why have you been such a damned jerk about it when you --” Jett choked on the words, the realization that he was practically discussing his dad’s sex life hitting him hard. “And how long … I mean, when mom --”

“No, never,” Tom said sternly. “But it is something I’ve felt for many years. I tried to push it away, to tell myself that it’s just something that didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.”

Jett stood there, staring at the floor, his hands linked in front of him, the chair pushed back from the table. This was all way too much. How could such things happen? “Why now? Why Sid?” he asked eventually.

Tom sighed. “We’ve found that we have a lot of things in common. We talked.”

“And then you fucked,” Jett said matter-of-factly.

“Crudely put, but yes.”

“That night, when you came late after meeting April’s dad, you two --”

“Did it? Okay, because you’re in shock over this, I’m going to indulge you, but this is the first, and the last time I’m talking about my intimate affairs with you.”

“Amen,” Jett said dryly.

“Smartass,” his dad retorted.

“But you were still a jerk at that time,” Jett pointed out.

“I guess I still couldn’t believe that it would be okay to, um, feel something like this.”

“What? Did you fall in love at first sight with April’s dad?”

“At our age, no one does that,” Tom replied. “But then we got into that fight, and Sid called me and asked me to stay with him until I needed to go back to my base.”

“And you just went.”

“Yes.”

“And you two didn’t say one word. You just kept it all for yourselves.”

Tom set his jaw hard. “Sid has been pestering me to talk to you. I guess April’s unplanned visit sped things along.”

“How long were you planning to keep it a secret?”

Jett noticed the slump in his dad’s shoulders. “I had to tell you eventually. After all, things between Sid and I got pretty serious during these last few weeks.”

“That’s frigging unbelievable.” Jett shook his head. “And now, what? Are you guys going to marry or something?”

“No.”

“So, you two aren’t serious.”

“We are. But it’s not like any of us sees marriage like you, young people, might. We were both married. We took our vows.”

The atmosphere in the room, no, in the entire house, felt lighter. Suddenly, Jett started laughing. He didn’t even know why, but he just did. His father joined him, although probably he had no idea why he was laughing, either.

“So, can I marry April?” Jett asked once he gained back his breath.

“Aren’t you guys hurrying a bit too much? April still has to finish his studies.”

“Yeah, I know. But it’s not like we’re going to do it now.”

“Have you already talked about it?”

“No, April doesn’t know. But this weekend, I just realized that I want to do it. Make it official and all that.”

“I’m surprised,” Tom said. “I guess you’re more responsible than I thought you were.”

“Yeah. I guess there’s a lot of stuff you don’t know about me.”

“Don’t be so sure.”

“So, do I have like your blessing or something?”

“Sure.”

“Just like that, huh?”

“I don’t know what you mean by it, but yes.”

“And you’re going to stop giving me shit about April.”

“That’s a given.”

“Sorry about laughing earlier,” Jett said all of a sudden, after a short silence. “I don’t know what came over me. It’s not something to laugh about.”

“You didn’t laugh about it, son, and I know it. You just experienced a bit of stress relief.”

“Oh, yeah? So that’s what you did, too?”

“Yes.”

“Why would you be stressed about?”

“Talking to you, first of all,” Tom explained.

“Really? Do I stress you out or something?”

“You’re a handful, Jett. But I guess you know that. Look, from now on, I’m not going to pester you any more about how to live your life. I think you’re old enough to make decisions and live with the consequences, too. You never listened to me anyway.” The last words were spoken with a small sigh, but they weren’t bitter.

“That’s true,” Jett confirmed. “But just so that you know it, dad, even if I didn’t listen to you, I still appreciated it.”

Tom quirked an eyebrow. “How’s that?”

“I knew you cared, and it mattered. And that’s all I’m gonna say.”

“So, you’re okay about Sid and me?” Tom asked.

Jett shrugged. “It will be kind of weird, but I’m okay. What April has to say about this? He’s totally a daddy’s boy, unlike me.”

Tom laughed. “That’s totally him, all right. He was shocked, of course. But a weekend of cooking all his favorites, watching the shows he likes, and even playing tabletop games with him, and I might have won him over. Well, his dad cooked, not me.”

“So, you thought about cooking something for me, too?”

“It worked to put April’s mind at ease about his dad and me. I thought to give it a try, too.”

Jett smiled and blinked a few times. “Am I dreaming all this or something?”

“I see you’re wide awake,” Tom said with a broad smile. “Now I should go. Sid and I need to drive for a while to get back to his home.”

“Stay here tonight.”

“There’s no room,” Tom pointed out.

“You two can sleep in our room. It’s not the first time April and I would sleep on the sofa or take the floor.”

“Was that a jab at me?”

“A little. But don’t go tonight, okay?”

Tom exhaled. “I’ll gladly stay here. I’ll have to check it out with Sid, though.”

“He needs to get to work in the morning, right? It’s okay; you can wake him up with the bugle.”

Tom’s eyes widened, and then he burst into laughter. “Now that’s something I didn’t know you to have. A sense of humor.”

“Trust me, it wasn’t funny at all,” Jett replied. 

“For you, sure, it wasn’t,” his dad confirmed and laughed again.

Jett couldn’t believe his eyes and ears. To be able to talk like that with his dad, like everything was normal between them, it felt surreal. But his old man had given him his blessing to marry April, so it wasn’t like he could take it back now.

A shy knock on the door interrupted his thoughts. His dad went to open the door, and Jett saw April.

“Can I talk to Jett for a bit?”

Tom looked over his shoulder at Jett. “I guess he’s all yours now, son. And we’re okay since you must be wondering.”

April’s face lit up with a bright smile. “We were wondering. That’s great to hear.”

Tom ruffled April’s hair as he walked out of the kitchen.

“I can’t believe he does that to you, but not to me,” Jett said with a grimace.

“He might be afraid that you might bite his hand off,” April replied.

“So, our dads, huh?”

“Yeah, that was quite the surprise,” April said. 

“Come ‘ere,” Jett said, gesturing for April to get closer. “I didn’t get to kiss you properly.”

April bit down on his bottom lip. “We’ll get to that, but first, I need to tell you something.”

“What? Don’t tell me you’re pregnant,” Jett joked.

April looked at him, a little crossed. “You wish.”

“Hey, I wouldn’t mind.”

“Jett, stop joking, or I’m going to kick your ass.”

“All right, all right.” Jett rubbed the back of his neck.

“That tattoo,” April started.

Jett moved his head to one side and pulled down the lapel of his jacket. “This one, right?”

“It’s your only tattoo,” April pointed out.

Jett smirked. “So? Do you want me to get another? I didn’t peg you for that type. What do you want? A little red heart with your name on it? If it means that much to you, I’ll do it.”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying,” April protested. “It’s, oh, fuck, how do I say this?”

“Hey, tonight, I just learned that your dad is fucking my dad. So say whatever.”

“How do you know it’s not the other way around?”

For a second, they both stopped. April made a face. “All right, let’s just stop imagining our dads having sex. I can’t, I won’t, and I’m forbidden to think of this kind of thing.”

Jett put one hand up. “Agreed. Now shoot. It’s not like anything else could shock me.”

April took one deep breath. Jett shifted in his chair. What could be now?

“I know how you got that tattoo,” April said in one heartbeat.

TBC

 

 

 

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