Bonus scene: Smithy and Jessie
The anniversary of Denny’s death was difficult, but his birthday was worse, and this year, though he had Jessie, it wasn’t any easier. He’d awoken with the heavy feeling in his heart and rather than share it, he’d left Jessie in the shower and come downstairs to give himself a few minutes, to grieve and accept something he couldn’t change. What he had with Jessie brought home exactly what Denny had missed out on. Was it selfish to be this happy? To have moved on?
“Daddy, where are you?” Jessie’s voice rang out from upstairs, before there was the clatter of feet descending from above.
Smithy wiped at his damp eyes, sniffed, and placed the picture he’d been holding of Denny down. He walked out of the room and met Jessie in the hallway. It was Saturday and Jessie had a rare full weekend off from work and they’d plans just to chill at home together.
His nose wrinkled as he came towards Smithy, the T-shirt and shorts were to accommodate the hot weather they were having. It had reached thirty degrees and it was like an oven outside.
“Why aren’t you dressed?”
Smithy glanced down at his bare chest. Shit. “You distracted me when you went off to have a shower without me.” He added as much cheer as he could muster to his voice, stroking a finger down Jessie’s nose to smooth out the wrinkles.
It didn’t work, his eyes narrowed on Smithy pinning him with one of his knowing looks. “Have you’ve been crying?” His lips trembled and his own eyes sheened, ever attuned to Smithy’s mood. He wanted to sigh at not being better able to hide his feelings. Jessie removed the distance between them and wrapped his arms around Smithy’s waist. Jessie was scented with the new shampoo he’d bought that reminded Smithy of a tropical garden. Jessie rested his blond head against Smithy’s chest, rubbing his cheek on the muscles before looking up at him. “What’s up Daddy?”
A shuddery breath left his lungs in a rush. “It would have been Denny’s thirtieth birthday today.” Saying it hurt. A frown appeared and he cupped Jessie’s cheek wanting to remove it and not put a downer on their time off. “I’m sorry I don’t want to spoil our weekend──”
“Shush Daddy, you loved him. There is no need to hide that.” The reprimand was gentle and gave Smithy another reminder, not that he needed one of how special Jessie was.
He kissed the tip of his nose. “I love you.”
The giggle was full of joy. “I know, silly.” He came up and kissed Smithy softly. “Denny was a big part of your life…” his eyes lit up and he paused for a second, “why don’t we celebrate his birthday?”
Smithy’s head tilted as he stared at Jessie. “How?”
“What places did he like to visit? What did he like to do on special occasions? Did he like a favourite food? Cake? Oh, I could bake some of his favourite things!” The excitement was palpable and pulled Smithy from the doldrums of his misery.
“He liked plain, but he loved a strawberry tart, the ones with creme pate.”
Jessie shook his head, laughing. “Isn’t that your favourite?”
Smithy aimed for innocent and knew he’d failed when Jessie raised one eyebrow. “It is, but he loved them too. I’d buy three and we’d binge. He loved to go to the pictures to watch a movie for the effects of the surround sound. He loved going for a walk to explore a place we’d never been before.” Warming up to the idea, memories of the things Denny liked to do swam to the surface. “He loved historical places, learning something new. He was a huge fan eighties music.”
Jessie let him go and took hold of his hand dragging him along the hall to the kitchen, he went to where his phone had been left in the docking station to charge and grabbed it. He let go of Smithy’s hand leaving him a little bewildered as he started to tap at the screen, mumbling and muttering to himself, making no sense.
Smithy leaned a hip against the counter and watched his boy, his heart was full, it was, even when it hurt for Denny.
“Yes!” Jessie fist pumped the air and then went back to tapping at the screen his lower lip clasped between his teeth.
“What are you up too?”
Sparkling eyes flicked up at him then back at the screen. “You’ll see. We are going to give Denny a day to remember. We’re going to do some of the things he liked and honour his memory.”
The sob caught in the back of Smithy’s throat, his eyes started to ache and he blinked back the tears. “You’re very special, you know that Angel Eyes.”
The smile was full of brightness and Smithy once more counted his lucky stars to have found a boy who accepted that Smithy continued to hold affection for his dead lover. “Daddy, you make me feel special.” When he pulled his gaze from the screen, Smithy got lost in the depth of love shining at him. “You loved Denny, he’s always going to have a place in your heart. There’s room in their for both of us because you’re so big hearted. I’ve said it before, I’m happy to share.”
“Special,” Smithy croaked, then gave up trying to talk when he sounded like a bull frog.
A cheekiness that was all Jessie when he was up to something appeared and set Smithy’s heart racing. “Daddy, how do you feel about an outdoor concert?”
There was something in his tone that set off alarm bells. “Concert, outdoors where? Who are we going to see?”
“You said Denny loved eighties music, I hope he liked Rick Astley.”
Smithy blushed, and pointed a finger at Jessie. “You know fine well he’s on my play list.”
“Yes I do, you love cheesy pop, did Denny give you that love? And just an FYI it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
He quirked an eyebrow up at Jessie. “Is that so?” The humour winning over.
“It is, now you need to go and get dressed. I’m gonna check what I need to make a tart, we ate all the strawberries so we’ll need more of those. I’ve pastry I’ve made in the freezer.” He tapped at his lip, the little nose back to wrinkling. “I’m sure I’ve got what I need for the rest of it.”
Jessie looked at him up and down and made a shooing motion with his hand. “Daddy, you need to get dressed, and while you do think about anything else Denny liked. I could make up a picnic basket we could eat in the gardens at Hyde Park before going into the concert.”
“Hyde Park?” Smithy was confused. “I thought we were going to a concert?”
“At Hyde Park.” He shook his head, catching himself before he rolled his eyes at him.
“Wise decision Angel Eyes, or we might have been heading up to our playroom first.”
He shivered, his breathing increasing as he eyed Smithy with renewed interest.
Smithy held up his hand, as much as he’d enjoy going upstairs with Jessie, he liked the idea of giving Denny a day out even if it were just to remember the good times. “Tomorrow, I’ll plan something fun for us.”
“This will be fun too.”
Unable to resist the slight pout, Smithy kissed Jessie with all the love he felt. He melted against him, his mouth pliant and sweet. Breathless and more than a little aroused, Smithy released Jessie before he changed his mine. “Dressed, I need to get dressed.” His lack of conviction got a smug smile from Jessie.
Before he could change his mind he headed out of the kitchen and went to dress. The day looking brighter already.
The trip to the shop took half-an-hour while Jessie questioned Smithy about what would make a good picnic meal for Denny. They added a bottle of wine that Denny had liked that Smithy wasn’t a fan of, but this was all about celebrating for Denny. Back home with two bags of shopping, Jessie got started on the pastries having taken the pastry out of the freezer before they left.
He followed instructions, Jessie was the king in the kitchen. Once he’d everything the way he wanted it, Smithy was sent off to find a bag that could be easily carry everything.
By the time they’d packed up and figured out the quickest route to Hyde Park, their tickets downloaded, a blanket, sun cream and two baseball caps added to the bag, it was lunch time. Jessie asked loads of questions about Denny as they walked hand in hand to the station. The sky had become a little cloudier, meaning the sun wasn’t as unrelenting.
The streets were crowded as they exited the station at Hyde Park Corner. “How big is this event?” Smithy finally asked noting how many people were heading in the same direction as them.
“Oh I don’t know, maybe fifty to sixty thousand.”
Jessie continued to tug him along the street as he stumbled at the sheer number. “Haven’t you been to one of these outdoor concerts before?”
“Nope, if I’m honest I’ve never been to a concert in decades.”
It was Jessie’s turn to attempt to come to a halt but the people around them kept them moving. “You haven’t!”
“No. An outdoor gig is a first for me.”
Jessie quickened his pace. “Then we need to get there and find a good spot to have our picnic so you can soak up the atmosphere.”
“With all those people, how the heck can we set up a picnic?” Smithy asked, his head full of being trampled to death, and a niggle of doubt about what they were planning forming.
Jessie giggled, his fingers squeezing around Smithy’s. “Daddy’s a Hyde Park concert virgin.”
“Hey, you aren’t laughing at me are you?” He put a lot of mock outrage into his voice.
The giggles increased as he bobbed his head, struggling to speak past the laughter, “I am.”
Smithy tutted for effect, while he enjoyed Jessie’s sassiness. “Tomorrow,” was all he said making Jessie giggle louder. He shook his head. “I’ve created a monster.”
“And you love it.”
“I do. Now explain how we aren’t going to get trampled to death while eating our Denny picnic in the park?”
“I like that, a Denny picnic.” With his free hand he tapped the side of his nose. “It’s for me to know and you to find out.”
The cheeky Jessie was fun so Smithy played along, feeling a lightness he’d never expected when he’d woken this morning. In the park they headed towards the center and Smithy grinned at the people sat about on deck chairs, listening to the music that was coming from the closed off area that had barriers where people queuing to go in. “We’re eating out here, aren’t we?”
“We are, without being trampled to death.” The cheekiness back in full force. Looking about, Jessie pointed to a spot with two empty chairs under a tree. “There, we get some shade and there isn’t a load of people close by crowding us.”
Back to picking up his pace, Smithy lengthened his stride, his back more than a little damp from carrying the heavy backpack.
As soon as they sat a guy wandered over to take the money for the seats, once he’d gone off after they’d paid for four hours, Jessie pulled out the blanket, laid in on the grass. He sat on it and pulled the bag next to him.
Smithy brows arched. “Why did you want the seats if we’re gonna sit on the ground?” he asked as he sat on the other side of the blanket.
“Daddy, this gives us options.” He pulled out the prepacked packages and containers. Inside was all of Denny’s favourites.
Jessie set the food out, then offered Smithy a paper plate which he took and laid in front of him. The plastic glasses were placed next on the blanket and he filled them with the wine, tucking the bottle back into the cool back which also held the strawberry tarts. Smithy watched his boy and there was the love he’d thought he’d never find again. It was warmer than his log fire, heating all the places that Denny’s death had removed. For whatever reasons, the universe deemed him lucky to get love twice, and Jessie was right, his heart was big enough. That today was about celebrating what they’d had and remembering the good times.
He shut his eyes and pulled up Denny’s smiling face as Rick Astley must have stepped on to the stage, the crowd inside the shut off area, cheered as the opening music for Never Gonna Give You Up played.
Then came the lyrics. “We're no strangers to love. You know the rules and so do I. A full commitment's what I'm thinking of, you wouldn't get this from any other guy. I just want to tell you how I'm feeling. Gotta make you understand.”
Smithy opened his eyed and looked at Jessie who was smiling at him in that way that captured his heart from the very beginning. Up off the blanket before he could over think, he pulled Jessie up with him uncaring who was watching started to dance with him, singing loud and off key, “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down. Never gonna run around and desert you. Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye. Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.”
Jessie joined in, his little backside swinging for side to side as he held Smithy’s hands. “We've known each other for so long, your heart's been aching──”
Emotions took hold and Smithy picked up Jessie, his legs went around his middle as they kissed. The words played through his head, there meaning holding true, his heart had been aching. Now all it felt was the beauty of life, of living, of having Jessie and that was okay.