"Flight 236-34 is now boarding. Thank you for flying with Ryan-Air."
"Welp, he wasn't lying" Sydney said, snapping out of an almost-sleep, prompting Jin to giggle, "Not even long enough for me to snore."
"Yeah, I think they gave Chase a company coupon?" TJ said, helping Sydney up and pecking him on the cheek, "Its nice that we've haven't wasted any time at all, seeing as they might leave today."
And indeed, soon after Chase, Leo, Shams and Jane were waving at them, Kudzu giving a somewhat tired hand raise. The kids were closing in on them, but they weren't really rushing, they were just faster because they weren't carrying bags.
"Miss us much Miss?" Sydney teased, patting his daughter on the head.
"Not really" Jane said nonchalantly, "In fact I hate you for cutting my vacation short. Only reason I didn't fly away is because I didn't want to give my three new and improved dads a heart attack."
"We missed you too" TJ said, not bothering with the sarcasm Syd and Jane endulged in, "And my, your fur really looks dazzling today Shams!"
"Thanks I guess" the cheetah said, somewhat embarassed as TJ hugged him.
"He put on like three different shampoos" Jane rolled her eyes, "You'd think he's trying out for a drag race or something."
"Or a strip club" Sydney quipped, patting Shams on the shoulders.
"I swear, you two drive me crazy" TJ scolded, "Anyways, I think you look very lovely. Did you do all this for RJ's party?"
Shams considered answering, but just then Chase, Leo and Kudzu caught up.
"Trouble with the bags I take it?" Sydney said, extending a hand to Leo only to retract it when he almost gave him the bag.
"Cabron!" Leo winced, his muscles straining after having to turn quickly as to not let it fall into the ground.
"You know, you didn't need to pack all your things, we're happy to share in case you need to stay the night" TJ offered, helping Kudzu with some of the bags.
"We really don't want to impose" Chase said, "Plus I needed to take some equipment. After this we'll be off on assignment."
"We didn't forget the presents, in case you start" Leo said, eyeing Sydney with a bemused sort of anger.
"Hey, I trust you" Sydney said, raising his hands theatrically, "Trust you to not piss me off on my son's birthday."
Chase laid down his bags, giving TJ and Sydney a hearty hug. Leo soon followed with a clasp of arms with Syd leading to a chest collision, while Kudzu tried with a simple handshack only to be pulled into a hug by the others.
"Honestly, though, I'm glad you made it" Sydney said, "Tried to get Flynn to come but you know how he is about these things."
"No offense, but do you really think he should attend a kid's birthday?" Kudzu said, almost regretting it as Sydney gave him a glare.
"I mean, he is like an uncle to the kids" TJ said, atypically irritated, "But mostly Syd just needs to talk to him in person sometimes. I, I kind of owe it to Flynn after-"
"No Toby, you don't owe that jealous cunt anything" Sydney said, kissing TJ on the lips, "If he doesn't want to show up that's his loss. A pretty damn shame though, I was hoping he, me and Leo would show the kids cool stuff."
"Oh, you mean how you're completely inept at video games and try way too hard with shit literally nobody cares about since billions of years ago?" Jane said.
"You're so going to swallow those words when civilisation collapses and you need a swiss knife to open tin cans to eat" Sydney said, patting her head with his tail.
"I'd rather starve than learn anything from you" Jane responded, swatting it away.
"Come on Jin, say hello to your uncles" TJ said to the chevrotain hiding behind his leg.
"Aw, he came too?" said Leo, before doing some goofy faces to make the boy laugh.
"Yeah, we have to pick up RJ from school so I couldn't leave him alone" TJ said, picking Jin up in his arms and kissing him on the forehead.
"Hi, do you still remember me?" Chase said, keeping his distance but reaching out his tail in case Jin wanted to play with it.
"Chase" Jin half mumbled shaking hands with the tail, giggling as he did so.
"That's right" TJ cooed, "Do you wanna say hello to the others?"
"Okay" Jin said, still playing with the otter's tail.
Everyone got into two cars. Leo, Chase and Kudzu went with Sydney on his jeep, going directly to Sydney and TJ's house, while TJ and the kids went on his van, diverging half the road away. They stopped in from of a private school, RJ already outside and stopping his texting to wave at the car. TJ noticed Shams fiddling with his hands and preening his fur, pressing himself against the seat to conceal himself.
"Do you want to surprise him?" TJ asked.
"No fricking duh dad" Jane said, "I hope you didn't blow that up."
"I just said we're picking him up" TJ frowned, "I'm just asking if we should tell him Shams is here."
"Then the answer is obviously no" Jane said.
Before either TJ or Jane could continue, RJ came to the window, stopping in his tracks. He quickly opened the door, looking incredulously.
"S-surprise!" Shams said, waving timidly.
A bright smile washed over RJ's face, quickly followed by nervous checking of his clothes and body odour, before he closed the door and they drove off.
"I'm so glad you came!" RJ beamed, "I was afraid it'd be like last time and you couldn't show up."
"Yeah, that's not going to happen ever again" Shams said a bit more confidently, "I even forged a passport and everything."
"WHAT!?" TJ said, stealing a few glances while trying to keep the eyes on the road.
"Yeah, it was my idea" Jane said, taking the "passport" out of her pocket.
Jin, who was was between Jane and Shams, tried to touch it, so Jane handed it over to RJ quickly.
"Wow, that's so cool" RJ said, carefully touching only the borders, "How did you manage to do this?"
"I wanna see!" Jin pouted.
"Shams, that's sweet and all but that might very well be illegal" TJ said, "Plus you're still a kid."
"I can pull off a sexy dwarf if I want to" Shams said, trying to do a pose.
"Yeah" RJ said, drooling a little, "Oh, have you seen 'The Red Parade'?"
"Sadly no. Me and Jane tried to stream it but Leo was on to us. B-but you can spoil it if you want."
"Hell no!" Jane said, "I don't care if you want to fuck each other, if any of you does that I'll have spoil all your shitty 'Strigoi' novels and phone their endings to you over and over and over-"
"I-Is any of that G-rated?" TJ asked concernedly.
"Yeah dad, we should take RJ's birthday as an opportunity to see that movie and read those stupid novels, as a family" Jane said, no hint of sarcasm or smugness as it was usual.
"So, you still a news reporter?" Sydney asked.
"Yeah" Chase nodded, "I'm now at CTVT."
"Ah" Sydney smirked, "Isn't that too liberal for you Leo?"
"I'm a bit danced out of television" Leo said, "No offense love, but even you can't make me tune in to an endless stream of shit on pretty much all channels."
"None taken baby" Chase said, "And I'm trying to branch out into more meaningful stuff, like documentaries."
"Honestly I though that'd happen sooner, what with Echo and all" Sydney said.
"I got shut down quite a few times" Chase sighed, "Really messed me up."
"I too know the bitter tale of rejection" Sydney said, putting on a more dramatic intonation before shifting to a hick accent, "Turns out the most redneck wrestlin' companay in this gosh darn worl' don't give no shit about acts involvin' trucks."
"You still work for EWW right?" Kudzu said, "Don't they have an equivalent here up north?"
"Well, yes and no. No because there's no real "equivalent" as you put it, its not called "Elite World Wrestling" for no reason. Don't get me wrong, I love my work, but I'm not going with lesser acts when I have a family to support and the delicious hatred of millions. What they do have here is many EWW events, which is the ones I usually participate in to try to stay close to my kids."
"But you do have to go abroad more often than not, right?" Leo asked.
"Yeah. They don't really help me out with that, but the pay's decent enough to cover that."
"Not to be rude, but do you ever wonder if, you know, there'll be a time when-"
"Chase, I'm not a porn star. As long as I look tough and can play my role I'll be fine. But I'm not stupid, I know sooner or later I'll have to crawl with my tail between my legs to the indie rings. Not because I'll be poor, mind you, but because I can't live without the booing."
"Aw, your daughter can't hate you enough?" Leo teased.
"She likes to be a bitch but she's always looking out for her dear pops and her brothers. No, I need that visceral name calling, those howls of anger as I deck the so called goody-two shoes right across the face, those declarations of how I'm a monster that needs to be put down."
Chase and Leo frowned. If Sydney noticed, he didn't show, seemingly lost in a good mood.
"I'm sorry" Chase said.
This got Sydney's attention.
"For what? You made me stop acting like a little shit and got me the love of my life. Plus I knew you couldn't do it."
"Still, it was very shitty of me. Both that at the lake and bullying you."
"Like I said, it was nothing. Worked out for the best."
A moment of silence followed. Sydney was pissed off for having his good mood ruined, but something within him sparked, and he took a deep breath.
"I have been thinking a lot about everything on Echo, and I came up with a very strange conclusion."
"Yeah?" Leo asked.
"I think I've realised how much you all mean to me. I mean, we're basically brothers. We hang out together, we stood out for each other, we bickered. A lot. Like all proper brothers do."
"Aw, thats very sweet man" Chase said, laying his hand on Sydney's shoulder.
"And basically what I've been saying since forever chula" Leo snickered.
"Yeah, but its my epiphany so shut up. Anyways, I'm just so glad that we're all together in this now, raising our kids and talking about our careers and shit. I don't miss Echo, but I miss shooting the hell of the shit with you guys. I just wish Flynn and Carl were here."
"What about Jenna?" Chase said.
"Yes, even her. You know we bonded over our shitty parents right?"
"But you almost never talk to her" Kudzu said.
"Eh, me and TJ had dinner with her like a month ago. T'was pretty nice. She even got Jin some weird kid's book with fish and frogs that freaks me out."
"Shame she isn't close with the kids, otherwise it'd give her more of a reason to hang out" Leo lamented.
"I'm pretty sure TJ can get through to her somehow. Anyways, like I said I'm just glad you're all here."
"We love you too Syd" Chase said, "And I know you like to be the bad guy, but you'll always be our brother."
"As long as I'm not ass-similated into your hivemind that's fine with me" Sydney said, smiling a lot harder than he showed.
Sydney's jeep arrived earlier than TJ's van. As soon as TJ pulled over, RJ exited quickly, greeting with uncles with a hug.
"Happy birthday bicho" Leo said, ruffling his hair.
"Here, I got something for you" said Chase, taking a present out of one of his bags.
RJ could tell a mile away what it was, but he store tore at the white and pink fabric with glee.
"New headphones?" Jane asked incredulously, "Yours still work well."
"Ah, but these are peak aesthetic" RJ said ahipply, examining the black headphones with rainbow pads and a vaguely cross-like symbol on the rim.
"Speaking of that, show him yours gray dad" Shams chirped eagerly.
"Alright, but its not as impressive."
Kudzu handed RJ a large black box. To the olinguito's delight, there was a large book inside, "The Art of Space: The Confluence".
"I heard you were into that card game and art so I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone."
"Thanks Kudzu, this is awesome."
"My turn" said Leo, handing him a pair of cross bracelets similar to his own anchor ones, "I know aren't as flashy, but they're better than any ring at show your love for your special someone."
"Thanks Leo, these are beautiful."
RJ stole a quick glance at Shams, both of them blushing a little.
"I got you a present as well" said Jane.
"Really?" said RJ, confused.
Jane handed him thirty dollars.
"There, expend it as you see fit."
"So instead of buying a gift you just gave your brother money" TJ scolded.
"Dear father, this is to stimulate his on sense of individuality and give him the freedom fo choose what he wants. Besides, I don't care and I gave away a lot of money."
"Its okay dad, I don't mind" RJ said, laying his hand on TJ's arm.
"And you Jin, have anything to give to your brother?" Sydney said, lowering down to kiss his son on the cheek.
"Here you go RJ" Jin said shyly, showing him a page with a drawing of him and Jin hugging.
"Aw, thanks Jin" RJ, bringing that picture to life by hugging his younger brother.
"So, its our turn now" TJ said, going back to the van.
He opened the backdoor, revealing a massive collection of pins. Gay pride ones, christian ones, comic book ones, all neatly organised within a case.
"Wow, this is awesome!" RJ said, carefully examining them, "Did you order them online or did you pick them from a store?"
"The case I bought, while the pins were actually mostly given to me by Jenna" TJ said, "She apparently knows someone at the shop she goes to for her mangas, so they did this favor for her."
"So Jenna really was involved this time" Leo mused, "Guess we might get our 'shooting the shit' with her sooner than expected."
"The sooner the better" Sydney said, "And with that lets get to my gift".
Sydney hugged RJ tightly.
"Happy birthday son! Here's my gift to you."
"Thanks dad, but that's it?"
"I think so, yes. Don't you like daddy's love?"
"I love you too dad, but-"
"But you were hoping for fifteen redeem cards for Space: 'The Confluence: Planeswalker', which happen to have right here?"
"Dad" RJ said, fighting back tears as he marvelled at the black rectangles with codes, "I don't know what to say!"
"Enjoy your game I can even barely comprehend kiddo, you earned it for being such a good son and person" Sydney said, kissing and hugging him one last time before he darted inside, eager to try his gift.
"I hope he doesn't forget about the other stuff though" Kudzu lamented.
"Don't worry, he's just excited because he's really wanted this for months now" TJ said, carefully gathering the discarded fabric and throwing it on the bin.
"Nah, I think we should go ahead and throw them into the trash as well" Sydney said, holding the art book above the can.
"I'd be pretty fucking pissed if he didn't use the FORTUNE I gave him" Jane said, pulling at Sydney's tail.
"Either way, he had the right idea" Leo said, rubbing his belly, "I'm starving. Do we eat before or after the cake thing?"
"Before, cake's for dessert" TJ said, carefully picking up the presents alongside Sydney.
"That should give us some time to talk" Chase said, "We and Sydney had lots of interesting conversations on the car, we'd like to share them with you."
"Oh, what were they about?"
"About how I'm going to leave you and the kids and become the fourth cock and asshole in their neverending orgy" Sydney teased, nuzzling against TJ.
As they entered the house TJ noted that Shams still hadn't given a gift to RJ.
"Hey, did you bring a gift for RJ? No judgement, I'm just curious."
"Oh no, I did, I'm just going to show it to him later."
"Is there any reason why you couldn't have shown it here?"
"Its a secret."
Before TJ could interrogate Shams further, Jin tugged at his leg.
"I'm hungry like uncle Leo."
"Syd, we should start cooking now" TJ said, picking up Jin in his arms.
"That was so sweet Syd" TJ said, holding back tears, "Yes, we're all a big family."
The adults were discussing at the table, eating some seafood stew while the kids were playing video games. Surprisingly the only ones not into it were both otters, Chase just picking the random fish bits while Sydney was munching on bread. The kids themselves ate some, Jane and Jin enthusiastically while RJ and Shams were somewhat indifferent to it.
"Aw baby, you're gonna make me cry too" Sydney said, holding his tightly against his side.
"Speaking of things that make us cry, how about politics?" Chase said, unusually mischievously like in his teen days.
"Please lets not, I'm trying to not have a fight at my son's birthday" TJ said, somewhat aggravated.
"Come on, its fun!" Sydney said, "We'll stop if things get too far, I promise."
"Why do you even want to talk politics anyways!?" TJ asked.
"Well, Sydney brought it up when he said CTVT was "too liberal" for Leo" Chase responded.
"So I'm guessing you're a log cabiner then?" TJ asked, resigned and bracing for impact.
"Eh, kind of" Leo said, gesticulating pensively, "I guess I'm more anti-government more than anything. I don't really like snowflakes, but they're pretty harmless compared to actual politicians, left or right. I just want to be able to raise my boy, keep my guns and not pay taxes. And before you ask no, I don't associate with right-wingers. The enemy of my enemy is not my friend, especially if they also the enemy of my children and my chulas."
"Not to mention you yourself, since you're gay and latino" Kudzu said.
"Eh, if I really wanted I could pass for a gray wolf. But I'm not a coward, which is the issue I have with most liberal types."
"Are you going to let him trash talk you like that Chase?" Sydney said, bemused.
"He can bark all he likes, but I'm the one winning with the truth all the time" Chase said, picking a bit of lamprey.
"Helps that you and Kudzu are the bravest men I know" Leo said, kissing Chase in the cheek, "If more liberals were like you they'd actually get something done."
"So I take it that your issues have more to do with personality than what they stand for" Sydney said, hands on his chin, plotting.
"You have to be honest in every way, that's all I ask" Leo said, cracking oyster shells with his teeth.
"Since you're all manipulative like that, what do you believe in Syd?" Kudzu said, spiting out crab carapace.
"Well, I'd say I'm kind libertarian-left" Sydney said pensively, "I've always disliked authority since my parents were right-winger cunts and my best friend came out long before me, but I've never really thought about it until I had kids. For me it was mostly just doing what I wanted, now that I'm raising children its more about letting people be free to express themselves. I'm not much of an activist anyways and I can't for the life of me even pretend to be interested in all those hashtags."
"You kinda do look like a protestor though, what with your black clothes and hat" Chase noted.
"I guess I do" Sydney snickered, "You know, some of my fans have asked me to take social issues more seriously, since I'm a bisexual wrestler raising a family with millions of lunatics tuning in to my every word. Who knows, punching fascists does look like fun."
"Meanwhile, it doesn't take a genious to figure out Chase is a liberal" Kudzu teased, kissing Chase.
"Guilty as charged" Chase said, "If my social media and job doesn't give it away then I'm pretty sure you all remember my tirades back then."
"Ah yes, how we otters "shouldn't be water clowns"" Sydney cringed.
"Jenna brainwashed him before college even had a chance to do that" Leo mock sniffed.
"Yeah, I have to agree with Leo here" Sydney said, "Less teaching about micro-aggressions, more causing super-aggressions against fascists."
"Our kids will all go to college if that's what you're asking" TJ said, less than amused by the whole conversation, "Hopefully one like the CCU for RJ."
"Which brings us to you" Kudzu said, wiping his mouth.
"Yeah, what's your deal bayunco?" Leo said, "You're hyper-christian but you're in a gay marriage, you didn't judge us for being gay back then but you always were near vomiting when we said bad words, you went to a college where you pretty much had to live like a nun but you live in a secular house. What's going on?"
"I don't know. All I want is for people to live in peace and harmony and I think religion is a good way to motivate people to do that, to be connected to each other to be better to each other. I think I'm left-leaning overall but I dislike how secular the left tends to be. Don't get me wrong, people abuse religion and that's why I'm not going down that path, especially given what happened to Syd."
"Thanks babe" Sydney said, kissing TJ softly and nuzzling against him.
"Honestly though, how far have we fallen that I have to explain myself for being both a christians and a good person?"
"Sorry if we pushed too hard" Chase said, "Its just that we shouldn't be afraid of discussing these things. Its better if we understand one another, though not at the expense of your comfort."
"Its okay Chase" TJ reassured, "Now I'm just curious about Kudzu's views."
"Green" he said nonchalantly.
"Wanna add more chula?" Leo asked playfully.
"Well, I want what TJ wants, except with nature instead of religion. That's pretty much it."
"You're in luck, our Green Party has been expanding a lot lately" Sydney said.
"That's great" Kudzu said, drinking.
There was an awkward silence for a while.
"I'm going to check in on the kids" TJ said, leaving the table.
As he did he spotted Jane texting and Jin sleeping, but no sign of RJ or Shams.
"Jane, where did your brother go?" asked TJ.
"Oh, he's probably fucking Shams right now" Jane said nonchalantly, "Its his gift."
"WHAT!?" TJ screamed.
"Everything alright?" Sydney said, rushing to him, followed soon by the others.
"Oh, I just told him Shams and RJ are probably slurping on each other's cocks and eating each other out" Jane said, amused by the chaos.
"This isn't funny Jane" Chase said, "Where did they go?"
"Not in the rooms if you're asking" she said, annoyed and sad that it was Chase, a "cool uncle", the one lecturing her, "They figured out that's where you'd search first."
"She's right" Leo sniffed, "They're not there."
"Can you pick up where they are?" TJ asked concernedly.
"I think they might be outside, but their scent is starting to thin out."
"Oh, I know what they're probably doing" said Kudzu, motioning them to follow him.
The adults went outside to the garden. Kudzu pointed to a particularly large rhododendron bush. Sure enough, once Kudzu lifted the branches they could see RJ lying on the ground, with Shams on top of him. Shams was shirtless but otherwise they didn't have the chance to get any more naked. They stared at them with the widest eyes, their lips still drooling from the kissing.
"Well look at that" Sydney said, "I honestly a bit impressed by this trick. If only desert bushes weren't so spiky."
"And full of spiders" Chase concurred.
"Come on kids, lets go" TJ said, reaching to help RJ up.
"Dads!" RJ said angrily, surprising everyone, "This is Shams' gift to me, so get out!"
"Well, consider it another gift from us for you to come inside right now" Sydney said irritatedly.
"Its not fair!" he cried angrily, "Its MY birthday and I don't even get to see Shams a lot and now you're ruining it!"
"RJ, we're not going to stop your relationship" TJ explained calmly, "We just want to talk, okay? We're not mad and we won't get in your way, we just want to understand a few things, and then you both can, well... lets just talk, alright?"
RJ sniffed, and Shams got out of him, helping him up. Sydney lent a hand, hugging him in the process.
"Sorry for saying that" Sydney apologised, "I don't want you to think that I don't support you. I just want you to not rush into things. What you have is wonderful and we just want to make sure it stays that way, okay?"
"O-okay" RJ sobbed, a bit resentfully.
"So, when did this start?" TJ asked.
Everyone was on RJ and Jin's bedroom, not wanting to involve either Jane or Jin. RJ and Shams were sitting side by side on the lower bunk of the bed, while the adults picked chairs to sit at close to eye level.
"Well, today, kind off" Shams said, "We figured out we liked each other but we never did anything until today."
"It was my first kiss, and you had to ruin it" RJ said bitterly.
"RJ, we think this is adorable" Sydney said, "But from the looks of it it was going to be a lot more than just kissing. We just want to make sure you're ready for stuff like that."
"Well, I am."
"Okay then" Sydney said, "and of all people I'm glad its with someone we all know and trust. I just want you to consider maybe waiting a little longer, you know? I mean, you're both still kids and the last thing everyone in this room wants is for either of you to get heartbroken."
"Chase and Leo had sex all the time when they were kids" RJ mumbled angrily.
"Okay, first off we were like two, three years older than you two" Leo said, "And sure, it was wonderful and everything, but that doesn't mean you can just fuck in secret without us knowing. You're not really mature at your age, so you might make mistakes you'll regret forever."
"So that makes you hypocrites then" Shams said bittingly.
"We're just concerned, alright?" TJ said, "We don't want either of you to hurt each other. If you really think you're ready, then you're ready. But its not easy to know that, okay?"
"We are" RJ said, his tail wrapping around Shams.
TJ sighed, and left the room. Slowly and hesitantly, the other fathers followed.
"Do you think we're good parents, for letting them do that?" TJ wondered.
TJ, Sydney, Kudzu, Leo and Chase were outside, staring at the stars.
"We told them what they needed to hear" Kudzu said, "But they need to learn that shit on their own."
"I kind of feel bad for busting them out to be honest" Sydney said, "Its like for a moment I turned into my father."
"You're not like your father" TJ reassured him, kissing him, "You're concerned for RJ, you're not suddenly going to turn into an ass just because you don't want your son having sex at such a young age."
"Still, I talked back to him" Sydney continued, "I don't want that to be a slippery slope."
"And yet you apologised to him and ultimately let him have his way" TJ sighed, "That alone shows that the free spirit I fell in love with will always win over whatever that was."
"TJ's right" Leo said, "Frankly I'm a bit surprised you think that, since you're always the one whining about people who are too nice all the time."
"Well, I am married to TJ, so I guess I don't practise what I preach then" Sydney said, kissing his husband on the ear, "Then again, you're letting your mask slip a lot lately love. You looked so tired and done today."
"What can I say, everyone is hellbent on driving me crazy" TJ sighed, nuzzling against Sydney.
"Well, all I can say that I'm glad that it wasn't Shams who threw a hissy fit" Chase said, "That would be a real shitstorm."
"Jane can do a lot worse than that" TJ said, "So don't you think we can't handle brats."
"Well, to our brats then" Chase said, raising an imaginary cup.
"To the future union of the Hunters and Hess-Bronsons" Sydney said in a posh accent.
"Man, they'll inherit such a fortune if they do get through their arranged marriage" Chase said.
"Yes chula its arranged.... por amor!" Leo said, making a heart with his hands.
"No son of mine will marry out of love!" Sydney continued, "God, I really think this is something my father would have said."
"Yeah, fuck that bastard" Chase said, "I was an idiot to ever think you were a bad person if you killed him."
"It all worked out, so I'm now the bastard to my kids" Sydney mused, half-sarcastically and half-bitterly.
"Well, then drink your sorrows away" Leo said, gulping down an imaginary cup.
"Nooooo, we don't think!" TJ said, getting into the tomfoolery for once.
"Too late, I'm drunk now" Sydney said waving his arms erratically.
As the others were laughing, Kudzu noticed Jane looking at the ceiling, her phone on the couch. Kudzu sneaked into the house, joining her on the couch.
"Everything alright?" he asked.
"You know this whole thing was my idea, right?" she said.
"What do you mean?"
"In the sleepover I told Shams RJ had a crush on him, so I thought it'd be a good idea for them to confess today."
"Oh. Do you regret it?"
"I don't know. Shams' my best friend and I want him and my brother to be happy, but I wonder if I'll become a third wheel or something."
"Don't worry, you'll always matter to them. Just today your dad was pretty upset when Flynn didn't show up."
"And I'll be the Flynn someday. Is that your way to make me feel better?"
"Well, you'll only "be the Flynn" if you think your friendship isn't worth it. And even then I'm pretty sure Flynn just couldn't afford a plane ticket. You can fly, so that won't be a problem."
"I guess so, "boring dad"."
"Well, have fun staring at the roof all night."
"Its riveting, you know."
Kudzu nodded, then looked at Jin, still asleep.
"Should I take him upstairs?"
"Nah, those two are definitely fucking."