The One I Love No Matter What
"Mark, you awake?" a chipper female voice asked. "Mark? Mark? Marky?"
"Don't you dare call me that, Pat!" a lethargic man snapped, pulling the covers over himself.
"Payback." Pat-short for Patricia-chuckled as she tried yanking on the covers. "Up all night again, huh?"
"Yeah, Pat." Mark said with a yawn. "The kids up yet?"
"Zoe and Chloe are already eating breakfast, Jerry's making his bed and YOU'RE still in bed." Pat laughed in a playful manner. "And I thought I was a sleepyhead."
"Well, technically, you were, Pat." Mark grumbled a little as he sat up, looking at Pat and all her glory-her trim ginger hair, her green eyes, her freckled skin and faded scars all over her arms, legs and face. "Don't make me remind you."
"Mark, you're such a nerd." Pat laughed again. "Now come on, time to get up."
"Coming, Pat." Mark smiled a little as he followed her to the kitchen. Identical twin girls with the same blue eyes, orange hair and pudgy cheeks were sitting at the table, devouring bowls of cereal with milk. He remembered the day he and Pat adopted the twins-two small, pudgy baby girls with hypnotic blue eyes. How could they have said no to them?
Now, Zoe and Chloe were 9 years old and had almost identical personas. Both enjoyed music, dance, sewing and cooking yet enjoyed peanut butter and coconut. Pat would always joke that anything the twins made via sewing was better than anything she wore as a child. When learning about a skating dress their mom once wore, the twins agreed with her statement.
Mark chuckled as he ruffled Zoe's hair. She had a loose ponytail whilst Chloe had pigtails. "How're you, Zoe?" asked Mark.
"We're good, dad." Zoe responded, scooping another spoonful of cereal into her mouth. Crushed cheerios and saliva dripped onto the tablecloth, making her twin gag a little. They definitely got their mom's eating habits.
"Yeah dad, we're good." Chloe smiled. "Dad, we're doing a report on our parents. Were you ever in the army? How about the marines?"
Mark blinked. "No. why?"
"Mom says you used to call her-" Chloe began.
"I was young and a bit naïve, Chloe." Mark explained, answering his daughter's question.
"Oh." Chloe realized. "But WHY did you call mom-"
"It's long in the past, Chloe." Mark cut her off again. Zoe rolled her eyes a little.
"Yeah. Long ago." Zoe sarcastically explained as a perky seven-year-old boy with brown hair, glasses and gap teeth ran to the kitchen. "Morning, Jerry."
"Morning, girls." Jerry replied, grabbing an empty bowl of cereal and filling it with Cheerios. "Morning, mom. Morning, dad."
"Morning, Jerry." Pat smiled.
"Morning, champ." Mark replied, ruffling his hair.
"What're you talking about?" Jerry asked as Chloe helped him pour the milk in his bowl.
"Dad used to call mom-" Chloe began before Zoe cut her off.
"Dad, we're out of Cheerios!" Zoe exclaimed, examining the Cheerios box.
"I'll put that on my list." Mark explained, adjusting his glasses.
"Okay." Zoe smiled.
"So. What did dad call mom?" asked Jerry eagerly.
"Apparently, he used to address her as if they were in the military." Chloe explained.
"I know how soldiers speak!" Jerry exclaimed, standing up on his chair. "SIR, YES, SIR!"
"Jeremy!" Mark exclaimed. "Get down from there, young man."
"SIR, YES, SIR!" Jerry exclaimed, doing so.
"Don't say that." Pat chuckled to herself.
"MA'AM, YES, MA'AM!"
"Oh good grief." Mark laughed at little Jerry's antics. "Well, champ, you did better than I did at your age."
"I did?" Jerry's green eyes widened behind his owl like glasses as he smiled in awe.
"Yeah." Mark smiled, sighing a little as he looked at Pat. She knew what the kids didn't know yet. Or, so they thought. Zoe had recently explained that she likes girls and Chloe mentioned a bit of gender confusion a few days earlier. Jerry, being a bit on the ditzy side, had no idea what a sexuality was and definitely wouldn't understand what his older sisters were saying.
"You gonna tell them?" Pat asked. Mark sighed as Jerry giggled happily. "Mark? Are you okay?"
"Yeah…Pat, I'm fi-" Mark began.
"Mark, Chloe knows about the pet name. It's time they know." Pat explained. Chloe blinked in confusion.
"Know what?" Chloe asked. Mark began sweating bullets. Pat smiled and hugged him.
The first time she saw him so anxious was in middle school-7th grade to be exact. Everyone was discovering themselves. Mark especially was struggling with his sexuality. Pat would always take time out of her day to talk to him, so when he dropped a bombshell, she was very supportive and compassionate. So were Charlie Brown and Linus. Three girls named Lucy Van Pelt, Patty Swanson and Violet Gray weren't as supportive as they were the higher ups of the middle school hierarchy arc, always making everyone else's lives a living hellhole.
Mark would always isolate himself in the library, reading his worries away. Sometimes Pat would be with him. When school ended and everyone went on their own paths, Mark and Pat were never far from each other, with the exceptions of school, work and Pat's job at the burger joint.
"Mark?" Pat asked as he looked up at her. "You okay? You seemed a bit dazed."
"I'm worried, Pat. How do we tell the kids?" Mark asked.
"Tell us what?" Jerry asked eagerly. "Are you two going on vacation? What about a divorce? Are we moving?"
"Calm down, Jeremy." Mark suggested. "It's not any of those things."
"I know! It's a surprise!" Zoe exclaimed.
"Yeah!" Chloe agreed.
"You can say so." Mark chuckled a bit anxiously. He wasn't ready to tell the kids, but if it were to help the twins understand something they didn't know much about, it would have to come out. Soon.