On a particularly busy Sunday in EC West, we joined our friends from Cardeno C.’s Home series for brunch. In between mimosas and food, we caught up with Noah and Clark (from Home Again), Micah and Ben (from Just What the Truth Is), Jake and Nate (from Where He Ends and I Begin), Jonathan and David (from Love at First Sight), Zach and Aaron (from He Completes Me), and TJ and Finn (from the free series of shorts posted at www.cardenoc.com). We’re grateful to Amanda, Anita, Wilbert, Monique, and Jonathan for sharing what they learned with us.
Zach, are you still having to visit the craft room when you visit Aaron’s family or is Mimi a little easier to take now?
Zach picked up his glass and swallowed down his mimosa before answering.
“Oh, shit yeah. Mimi’s nice and she dotes on Aaron, which is cute as hell. But when we go visit we’re usually there for a whole week and it’s fuckin’ chaos the entire time.” He rolled his eyes. “Hanging out in the craft room with the other in-laws is the only break I get.” Then he set his glass down and leaned forward, whispering conspiratorially. “Just don’t tell Aaron about that, okay? It’s top secret classified blah blah blah.”
We didn’t realize Aaron had walked up behind us until he we heard his voice.
“What if I already know?” he said.
Zach flew up from his chair and turned around. Aaron smiled at him and took his seat, then he pulled Zach down onto his lap and kissed his cheek.
“Don’t worry about it, babe. I realize those trips to see my family can be a lot and you’re amazing the whole time. Besides, I think it’s nice that you and Jane and Cliff spend time together.”
Aaron, you said next time you wouldn’t be so weird about being topped by Zack, so was there a next time? If so were you ever relaxed enough to really enjoy it?
Aaron’s neck and cheek turned bright red and Zach started laughing hysterically.
“Fuck, Aaron, it’s not a secret that we’re screwing, why’re you so embarrassed about it?” Zach shook his head. “The man’s hopeless. Don’t worry, though, it freaks him out to talk about sex, but he’s got no problem with actual execution.” He patted Aaron’s arm. “Are you going to answer the nice lady’s question?”
Aaron opened his mouth but no words came out. He looked so panicked, that Zach stepped in.
“I got this, big guy. Yes, we tried it again, because he wanted to. And it was better than last time. But the reality is, bottoming isn’t his thing and topping isn’t mine. Soooo, let’s just say, that’s never going to become a regular item on the menu.”
Do you guys see marriage in the future at any point? And given how much Aaron loves kids, any more thought on kids?
“Absolutely,” Aaron answered.
Zach’s eyes widened. “Seriously?” he asked Aaron. “When did you decide this?”
Aaron furrowed his brow. “Umm, probably about thirty seconds after you walked into Kimmy’s kitchen and I felt my heart race. You know that, babe, I’d love to be able to marry you. The day it’s legal, I’ll be down on one knee.”
“Oh,” Zach sighed in relief. “You were answering the marriage question.”
Aaron started laughing. “Course I was. I haven’t changed my mind about kids, and even if I did, I wouldn’t spring that on you at brunch.”
“I would, you know,” Zach nuzzled Aaron’s neck and spoke quietly into his ear. “If you want kids, I’ll do it, big guy.”
Aaron cupped Zach’s cheek. “I know. But I want you all to myself, so it isn’t an issue.”
Noah, Clark, what about the two of you? Do you think you’ll ever have kids? And how are things with Noah’s folks now that his big brother, Ben, has the twins?
“Lilah and Raphi are the best,” Clark answered. “We love being uncles.”
Noah nodded. “They’re cute as hell and I think they’ll be even more fun when they get older. Sometimes I think about what it’d be like to have our own, but family is …” He let the thought trail off and shrugged.
Clark curled his hand around the back of Noah’s neck and stroked his tattoo with this thumb.
“Things are getting better with Noah’s parents,” Clark said. Noah snorted. “But there’s still a ways to go,” Clark continued, calmly. “It might help speed things up if we spent as much time with them as Ben and Micah.”
“Right,” Noah scoffed. “Because when we have down time, I want to go hang out with my parents so they can look at us like we’re circus freaks. No thank you. Ben’s doing fine, he doesn’t need me there, so why bother?”
“They don’t think we’re circus freaks, sweetheart,” Clark replied. “It’s just that this is still hard for them and they’re not used to it. But at least they’re trying now. You know, they’re never going to get comfortable around us if we’re not there.”
“It’s not my job to make my parents comfortable. They need to get over their issues. Or they don’t. I don’t give a shit either way,” Noah said in an angry tone.
“I know you don’t, Noah. But Ben does. Your brother cares a lot. You know how much it means to him to get your family reconnected.”
Noah gazed into Clark’s eyes for several long seconds. “Ben, Micah, and the kids are coming over for dinner next weekend, right?” he said quietly. “I’ll call my parents to see if they want to come over too.”
So, Noah, you’re spending time with your brother now. When you were kids, did you miss not having a good relationship with Ben? Do you ever regret pushing him away?
“Honestly?” Noah asked and shook his head. “Nope. You have to understand, I didn’t know what Ben was going through back then. He seemed like Mister Shiny Happy to me. We lived in two different worlds as far as I was concerned, and I was too pissed off to think about wanting a good relationship with him. And as far as regrets …” Noah shrugged. “Why bother, you know? Shit happened, it’s over, and we’re all good now.” He brushed his hands together. “Done and done.”
Noah, you used to want Clark to be more dominant in the bedroom and now he is. But how would you feel if Clark wanted you to be the dominant one in the bedroom for a while?
“Thankfully, he doesn’t want that. I’d give Clark anything, but …” Noah shook his head. “He’s my angel, you know? I wouldn’t ever want to hurt him. I know that sounds weird, ‘cause of what I like him to do to me, but …” Noah shrugged. “It is what it is. What we’re doing works for both of us.”
David and Jonathan, What did y’all end up doing with the “Will Dragon” disk?
“Uh,” David pursed his lips and racked his memory. “I don’t remember seeing it at all after that first day I had it. I have no idea where it is.”
“I broke it into a million pieces with a hammer and then trashed it,” Jonathan supplied helpfully.
“You did?” David asked in surprise.
“Mmm, hmm. I mean, I didn’t want to take the chance on Sam somehow stumbling onto it. I sure don’t have any interest in seeing it. And you said you didn’t need to watch. So I figured, why keep it, you know?”
David draped one arm around Jonathan’s neck and the other around his waist. “Hey,” he whispered. “I’m sorry I didn’t think about Sam seeing it or about what you’d want to do with it. I guess I just—”
“Going on five years and you didn’t think about it at all. It didn’t matter to you. I know,” Jonathan said and kissed David softly. “And I love that about you.”
I decided it was my lucky day when Aaron got a call from his cousin, Jake, during brunch and I got to ask a question that had been on my mind. Jake, you told Mama C that you could handle the guilt of what happened the night of the accident. And I know you feel that you are protecting Nate by not telling him, but do you ever feel guilty about not being honest with him about that night when you are honest in all other aspects of y’all’s relationship?
“Fuck no. Nothing good can come to Nate from knowing about that. Honesty is one thing. Hurting him to make myself feel better is something else entirely. I try not to remember my parents in the context of that one crappy moment. We had years of great times and I focus on those. But I’d be lying if I told you that I could keep it out of my head all the time. I remember the way my mom was hunched in the car. I remember the look in my dad’s eyes. And I remember knowing that I’d never see them again. If Nate had been awake, he’d have probably figured out a way to save them, but I don’t have his brilliant mind.” A pause and a loud sigh came over the phone. <strong.“Do I feel guilty?” Jake asked, his voice rough. “Yeah, but not about keeping that awful shit from Nate. And not about choosing him. I just wish I had been able to save them too.”
Micah and Ben, how often does Micah’s mom come to visit the twins? And does she make you nuts while she’s there?
“My mom comes in about one weekend every month and we try to get out there every few months,” Micah answered. “She spends a lot of time with Raphi and Lilah, she cooks up a storm and fills our freezer with meals that last a couple of weeks, and she’s really good to Ben.”
“Don’t you love how he answered your question without actually answering it?” Ben laughed. “Deborah’s the best, but she does make Micah nuts sometimes.” He looked at Micah and winked. “Either that or it’s a coincidence that when she’s here you often remember a really critical project at the office that requires you to go in unexpectedly.”
Speaking of family, Ben, how is your relationship with Noah? Is it still somewhat tense?
“Tense? No, definitely not. Tense was most of our childhood when Noah was pissed off at our family and sometimes the world and I was hiding and pretending everything was okay. Things between us now are better than they’ve ever been, which is amazing considering …” Ben dragged his hands through his chestnut hair and sighed dejectedly. “I messed up so many times. The things I said to Noah, the way I treated Clark, I … I know I don’t deserve their forgiveness but—”
Micah put his hand on Ben’s bicep and squeezed lightly. “Come one, honey, don’t be so hard on yourself. You made mistakes. That makes you human. Your brother and Clark realize that and they’ve forgiven you. Maybe it’s time you forgave yourself.”
Micah, would you have been as forgiving to Ben as you were if he was a commitment-phobe as opposed to someone who ended up being severely repressed?
“I was frustrated with Ben because I didn’t understand why he kept pulling back and, frankly, freaking out. Once he explained what he’d been going through, a lot of his actions made sense. But the most important thing to me was that Ben was committing to put himself in the relationship. I wasn’t interested in chasing someone that wasn’t ready to settle down or wasn’t interested in me. With those issues resolved, there was no keeping me away from Ben. I mean, have you met my guy? He’s incredibly sweet, has a giving heart and a sharp mind, he’s fun to be around, and he is seriously hot.”
TJ, Finn mentioned a man at your office that gives you strange looks? Is it Ben Forman?
“Oh, God!” TJ cringed. “If I have any hope of making partner, I better pray word of that little comment I made doesn’t get out. Micah would surely find some way to make me wish I was dead or something if he thought I was bad-talking Ben.”
“Oh, please,” Finn rolled his eyes. “Ben all but apologized to you for all that. He knows he used to act weird. I’m sure it’s not a secret to Micah. Besides, it’s all in the past, right?”
“Course. Ben’s been great for awhile now.” TJ furrowed his brow. “Actually, he’s been better since around the time he and Micah got together. I guess true love ‘ll do that to you.”
“Either that or great sex.” Finn shrugged.
TJ nodded thoughtfully. “True,” he said. “Speaking of which, are you ready to go home?”
You can learn more about these characters and find information about Cardeno C.’s Home series at www.cardenoc.com.