LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, nor do I profit from them.
A/N For the purposes of this story, Declan is unaware his dad is gay.
Brendan couldn't quite believe what he was hearing. No it wasn't unexpected praise for the fact that he had managed to get the breakfast eggs from their shells to their plates via the frying pan, without any major mishap. It was the fact that his newly out-and-proud son had revealed the identity of his latest crush.
Stephen no less.
Brendan prided himself on being a man of action, but he was currently doing the best impersonation of a statue the world had ever seen.
Declan liked Stephen, his Stephen. What the ...?
How could this be happening? What did I do in a former life to warrant this as punishment?
He shook his head-this will not be happening, he thought decisively. We may share DNA, but we are not sharing men!
"Da watch what you're doing- the salt," Declan interrupted Brendan's internal panic.
"You're still pouring it on your brekkie, you can't like it that much."
Brendan swiftly moved the position of his left hand.
"You shouldn't have more than 6 grammes a day," Declan reliably informed his dad.
"Hmmm" was all Brendan could muster in response.
For the remainder of the meal, Brendan eyed his son with what can only be described as suspicion. His every movement and expression scrutinised.
This is not right Brendan thought. He's my son, part of me and yet... he didn't want to finish the rest of that thought. He was trying to suppress the burning sensation that was raging around the place where his heart should be.
Brendan didn't do jealousy, but someone had forgotten to tell the emotion that it wasn't welcome at this home and it was trying on all the beds for size, to see which was the most comfortable, before settling down for the duration.
"So what do you think of Ste Da, a good bloke?"
"Um yeah yeah, he's sound," Brendan managed to reveal.
"Great, cos we're meeting up this evening. It's a sortof date."
Declan beamed at his dad in triumph, proud of his achievement.
Despite himself Brendan smiled back. Fleetingly.
Brendan was understandably distracted for the rest of the day. He sat alone in his office, supposedly doing paperwork. Plotting. Scheming.
He ran a coin through his fingers as he thought of what to do.
15 minutes later.
"Hello Peter, how goes it in da hood? I've been thinking, about ya recent troubles and thought, wouldn't it be best if you tackled the issue head on-straight away; possibly calling a meeting tonight to get the ball rolling. Just an idea. You know I'm always thinking of ye."
"Amy - sorry for the short notice, but there will be an urgent meeting directly after classes today, concerning the recent drugs found at the school. Attendance is mandatory. See you there."
"Ste, thank God I've caught you. Pete's called an emergency meeting for tonight and all staff have to attend. Can you pick up the kids up from nursery and look after them until I get home? Thanks everso."
"Hey Deccy Monster, I know it's last minute, but I can't make it today. Ames has got to stay late at school and I've now got to baby-sit. Soz, another time yeah?"
Declan glumly shut off his phone after receiving his disappointing call and kicked the football his dad had given him as a present, hard across the park. His date with Ste had been cancelled and he needed to vent his anger.
"Oi watch it," a voice called out.
Declan looked up to see a group of lads, roughly his age standing a little way ahead of him. One of which was holding his ball.
"Sorry about that," he called out. He walked over to them.
"No worries" said the lad holding the ball. "It's just that you seemed to kick that with a bit of passion that's all. I'm Jason, by the way. This is my brother Seth, that's Ricky and smiler over there is Duncan."
An idea entered his head.
"Fancy a kick-about, if you're not too busy?"
"Yeah sure" Seth replied.
The group moved as one. They spread out across the grass, divided themselves into teams and used their jumpers as goalposts in the time-honoured fashion.
Declan soon recovered from cupid's first miss-hit.
Brendan wasn't keen on Declan hanging around the club, what with him being underage and all, but when it was quiet, he had been known to relent. This is how he found himself listening to Cheryl's high-pitched squeals and banter with Declan from his office. Cheryl was filling his son up with crisps and coke, whilst also admonishing him not to ruin his appetite for lunch.
"So my nephew, my lad, what are your plans for today?" She asked loudly.
"I'm meeting Ste in the skatepark, this alvo" he said.
"Gonna show him some new moves. He reckons he's boss, but he's so not."
Brendan's ears pricked up. So this baby-flirting is still continuing he thought.
He stood up, picked up his jacket and walked purposely out of the office.
"I'm off for an early lunch Chez" he called out over his rapidly departing shoulder.
"See you later- coming back."
He nodded at Declan as he passed. It was the least he could do.
Outside he phoned Ste straight away.
"Stephen, my place. Now." He ordered.
Should do the trick he thought.
Within ten minutes Ste was making his way up the stairs, two at a time, in his eagerness to follow orders.
"Hi" he said. "This is unexpected."
"I was feeling peckish and you know what I like to eat." This was said with a wolfish grin.
"Don't I just." Ste responded, falling through Brendan's slender doorway with practised ease.
Ste noted that for some reason today Brendan seemed to be doubly keen. There was virtually no foreplay (not that this was usually a priority of his ... but still). Before he knew it, Brendan had reached his destination and was thrusting in double-time. A mission of his seemed to be, to leave as many reminders that he had been present as possible on his neck and collarbone. His lips and teeth providing an alternative tattoo. Leaving a pattern behind that the recipient would have to decide later, what it was meant to be exactly.
Despite the rush, Ste came at the same time as Brendan. Nothing could disrupt their synchronicity.
Another surprise awaited Ste. Brendan was good to go again, almost immediately. Normally, there would be time for a chat, snuggles, even a snack, before Round Two; not this time.
"It must be my aftershave," Ste joked as his head hit the pillow-again.
The only thing about participating in today's afternoon delight was that Ste had skipped lunch. He was so hungry that when Bren dipped his head to kiss him goodbye, he found it hard to resist the urge to nibble his lips.
"Bye then." He said.
"Yeah sees ye." Bren said.
Unknowingly, Brendan always took a step towards Ste whenever he turned to walk away from him; as though pulled by an invisible umbilical cord. He unconsciously fought being parted from him.
Ste wasn't the only one who was ravenous either.
I could eat the South side of a horse travelling North Brendan thought. Let's hope Relish has got some 2-4-1 deal going on. He walked briskly towards his goal, only not too briskly so that he caught up with Ste.
Commence Operation Surveillance.
Smoothing down his hair and straightening his jacket, Ste headed towards the skatepark to meet Declan. Brendan's son was on his school holidays and Ste had thought it would be hospitable, to spend some time with him. It must be hard having to hang around by yourself for most of the day he thought.
When he got to the park, Declan was already waiting for him.
"Alright?" Ste said.
Declan's face lit up.
"Yeah good, I'm good," he blushed slightly.
"Wanna show me your moves now that you're here?" He enquired. Declan had dropped his eyes, but when he raised them again, he caught the tail-end of a huge yawn escaping Ste's lips.
"Oh sorry about that I'm just a bit.."
Ste found he was suddenly too tired to finish his sentence. Instead he grabbed Declan's board and started to bust some moves. Unfortunately he was a little rusty, well a lot rusty really.
He fell once, tripped up twice and completely forgot which direction he was meant to be moving in, three times. To cap it all, each mistake was coupled with a yawn.
"I'm so sorry – again, I'm all over the shop. I don't know what's got into me." He explained.
"Do you mind if I knock it on the head for today? I promise I'll put some practise in for next time."
Declan found that even though he was annoyed he, like his father, couldn't be cross with Ste for long.
"Yeah sure, but only if you promise to let me thrash you at Pool tomorrow."
Declan had a way of turning things to his advantage.
"You're on and I'll try an' get some kip in between now and then." He laughed and turned to go.
"See ya," Ste said.
"Laters." Declan murmured.
"Job done," Brendan said under his breath, from his vantage point nearby.
Finding himself unexpectedly alone, Declan started to make his way back to the flat.
"Hey flash-boy where are you off to?"
Declan turned to face the voice. Seth was standing at the opposite side of the park, with his brother, Duncan and of course Ricky. Smiling Declan picked up his board and headed towards them. Maybe this afternoon wouldn't be a total wash-out after all.
Brendan was used to calling the shots, so he wasn't best pleased when Ste blew him out when he rang and suggested a repeat performance of yesterday's lunch-time tryst. To make matters worse, he was given the knock-back in favour of his son.
Apparently plans had been made to play Pool in The Dog (this he already knew. So?). However Ste refused a pre-match warm-up session with him, so that he would be alert and awake when he met up with Declan this time.
Of all the rubbish excuses! Brendan was gripped by a flash of white rage and actually hung up on Ste.
He'd heard that counting to ten could work in these circumstances, but who had the time?
He drummed his fingers on the bar and tried to think laterally. That's when he spotted Cheryl and her best mate Lynsey.
He strode over to the sofa, where they were perched and launched into his charm offensive.
"Ladies, to what do I owe this pleasure." He uttered smoothly.
"Oh Bren love, we're just catching-up. We're like ships that pass in the night at the moment, so we're making the most of this while we can." Cheryl informed him.
"On a time-crunch are ye?"
"You could say that Bren, my shift starts in 20 minutes and then it's worker-bee mode for me." She continued.
"Well let me transform you into a queen-bee. How about you take the afternoon off? I can handle it here until Foxy turns up. You could go for a proper catch-up at The Dog maybe and then go on to Cinergy for a mani-pedi after. All on me, of course."
Lynsey gasped. "Are you sure Brendan?"
Cheryl on the other hand screamed her delight.
"Oh I have the best brother in the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
She flung her arms around Brendan and temporarily forgot that he needed to breathe.
"Not a problem, I just wanted to help. Only promise me one thing - enjoy yourselves ok, try something new."
Both girls obediently nodded their heads as Brendan slipped a wedge of notes into Cheryl's hand.
"Have fun." He called after them, as they descended the stairs as quickly as their fashionable heels allowed.
Declan was surprised to discover that Ste was excellent at Pool.
He was good, but Ste was better.
That's ok, he thought I can ask him to show me all the tricks of the trade and that could take ages.
Pleased with this thought Declan reflected on how today was turning out to be so much better than..
"Coo ee love, how are ya?"
Cheryl's loud un-dulcet tones rang out across the pub.
"Watcha playing?" She continued to boom, whilst making a bee-line straight for him.
"Pool." He said, wondering how she could have missed the fact.
"Great, can we join ya? I've always wanted to learn how to play," she asked.
"No." Declan said.
"Yes." Ste counter-claimed.
Ignoring Declan, Cheryl went to collect cues for herself and Lynsey.
"You should learn something new everyday," she commented mainly to herself.
"I know" said Ste "let's even up the teams to make it fair. I'll go with Cheryl and you can have Lynsey, deal?"
"Deal." Declan said despondently. He knew that he really didn't have a choice in the matter. As he chalked up his cue, he knew that this date had already slipped from his grasp.
He had a horrible sense of déjà vu.
This can't go on, Brendan thought. I can't secretly tag Declan with a GPS device and leap out every time he gets within a metre of Stephen. I need a permanent solution.
The rational part of his brain told him to come out to his son and be done with it.
It would save me so much pain he thought. It would cause me so much pain, the dominant irrational side of him argued back.
A shiver ran down his spine, his breathing rate momentarily increased. The signs didn't look good for rational thought.
Being the gambler that he was, Brendan decided to leave this momentous decision to chance.
He would flip a coin. Heads he reveals all. Tails he reveals nothing at all. I can live with that, he reasoned.
After three flips of the coin, the score was Heads 2 Tails 1. The best out of five, he frantically reassured himself. The fourth flip landed tails up. Even Stephens he thought and couldn't resist a chuckle. He flipped the coin for a final time.
Whilst the coin was still in the air, Declan entered the office and slumped down heavily into the chair facing him.
Immediately switching to dad-mode Brendan asked.
"So how are ye wee fella? How's ye love life?"
"It's black boxed." Declan replied moodily.
"It's crashed and burned," he explained.
"Oh, sorry to hear that." Brendan offered. He tried to hide a smirk that played on his lips with his hand. Thank God for my moustache he thought.
"I've gone off Ste, he's boring. Anyway there's someone else I like now."
Brendan looked bemused, slightly amazed at the speed at which his teenage son had moved on.
"Yeah, Jason I think his name is."
Declan couldn't understand why Brendan burst out laughing for quite some time.
While he sat waiting for his dad to regain his composure, he picked up a coin that was heads-up on the table and started to absentmindly spin it.