Something About You by Arok
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Chapter One by Arok
Fall was Kevin’s favorite time of the year. Not just because his birthday was in October, but mostly because he found something beautiful and poetic in the way the leaves would spend months growing tall and strong and reach a pressipis and begin to age quickly, turning into brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow before curling into themselves and simply letting go of everything. Once separated from the tree they would die and become one again with the earth. It was a cycle one could depend on, like clockwork and in Kentucky, the trees were always just a little more vibrant, more engaging to the senses. The gorgeous colors of fall would draw a person into the arms of nature and then show them how wonderful it could be to finally let go.

Kevin never raked the leaves to dispose of them in bags, instead he preferred to let them litter the acres of land he owned, allow them to crunch under their feet and disintegrate until they were only a whisper of what had been. It was nice living on several acres of land, there weren’t nosy neighbors who preferred perfectly manicured lawns with no leaves to really allowing the land and himself to become one with nature. After all, why else would he even want to be here if it weren’t to completely immerse himself in the beauty of the trees and the crispness of fall.

Nothing made him happier than when the wind would pick up, catching some of those freshly fallen leaves up in it’s embrace and moving them from one section of the yard to another. Nothing made him feel more at ease, relaxed, then sitting out on the patio with a cup of coffee and feeling the breeze rush past. He kept the windows open in the house more often than not for this reason as well. He was always surprised how quickly nature could change his mood, his whole perspective on life. All it took was some trees and wind and he would always feel more grounded than he had been before. He was a simple man really. It was a blessing and a curse depending on the situation and who you asked.

He relished mornings like this. The rain had rolled in the night before bringing with it a coolness that was predicted to stay for the remainder of the week. The early morning sunlight was trying but failing to break through the dense fog that had set in earlier this morning. There appeared to be a barrier of precipitation hovering mere feet above the ground, just waiting to burst and bring forth more rain.

The boys were with Kristin and he had a week to just be before they returned home to him. They were on an extended break and there were some projects he could work on if the mood struck, but other than that he was completely free of responsibility and could just sit out here for hours if he so chose. He could barely remember a time when he’d felt so light and free. He loved his boys, but there was also something so freeing about not being responsible for them for just a little bit and knowing they were safe with their mother only added to his freedom.

Thunk. Thunk.

He sat his coffee cup down and glanced around. He’d thought he’d heard something, but peering out over the yard and around seemed to hold no indication of movement or sound. He decided it must have been the wind or a squirrel. They seemed to be all over the place this morning. He’d seen several playing in the yard when he’d first stepped out onto the patio. They quickly dispersed when they realized they were being watched.

It was getting chilly out. Kevin pushed out of the rocking chair and stood and stretched. He needed his cardigan and the paperback he’d started last night he decided. Turning to head back into the kitchen he heard the same sound again.

Thunk. Thunk.

What the hell was that? He spun around on his heels and tried to focus, listening, looking. Still nothing jumped out at him, allowing him to identify the sound he kept hearing. He shook his head. He was starting to go crazy out here in the wilderness he thought to himself chuckling.

In the kitchen he washed out his coffee mug and laid it on the rack to dry. Another benefit of being by himself for a week was the scarce amount of chores that he created just taking care of himself. He still had a housekeeper coming in once a week, but he was tidy by nature and couldn’t let dishes or clutter sit waiting for her once a week trip.

He’d just started up the stairs to the second floor when the noise was so loud he jumped.

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.

This time it was faster, louder and very close. He was completely alone in the house, there weren’t even any pets here. The boys hadn’t asked for one yet, and Kevin had been waiting on them to request the responsibility of one before forcing something like that on them. He didn’t want to be the one stuck taking care of it all the damn time. They were getting older now, so he figured that was coming soon. But for now, the house should be silent. Where in the world was that noise coming from? He took the stairs two at a time back down and stood in the foyer waiting to see if he heard it again. Realization dawned on him about the same time the noise started again.

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.

It was the front door. How in the world had he even managed to hear anything that far out on the patio and how long had someone been banging? He quickly crossed to the front door and peered out the peephole. He didn’t see anyone at the door, but there was an unfamiliar SUV parked in the driveway. How in the world did someone even get up here? His place wasn’t listed anywhere and there was a gate and incredibly long driveway. He could have sworn he shut and armed the gate when he’d dropped the boys off with Kristen the night before but he’d been so tired and drained from the switch off that he’d done everything on auto pilot. For the life of him now he couldn’t remember if he’d gotten out of the truck and physically shut the gate or not.

Without being able to see anyone at the door he was a little hesitant to yank it open. But he convinced himself he was just being paranoid. It was probably a neighbor, even though the closest one wasn’t for miles. He placed his hand on the doorknob and felt the door vibrate against his hand.

Thunk. Thunk.

He shook his head and twisted the knob, pulling the door open. Before he knew what was happening something hit him directly in the face. He stumbled backwards slightly, the door swinging wide open as he tried to figure out what the hell had just happened. Looking down, there was a red fire truck on the floor and a blonde haired, blue eyed boy standing with clenched fists on his doorstep.

“Odin?” Kevin said, completely shocked to see the little boy standing on his porch.

The boy tilted his head and peered up at him but remained silent. Where the hell was Nick. What in the world was going on? And best of all, why the hell did he get a fire truck to the face?

“Where’s your daddy?” Kevin asked gently, trying a different tactic.

Still Odin said nothing and continued to stare. After a moment he turned on his heel and pointed to the SUV. Kevin looked at the car closer but couldn’t see anyone inside it. He reached out and put his hand on Odin’s shoulders. “Let’s get you inside and then I’ll go check on your daddy.” Kevin said bending down to pick up the truck. He ushered the small boy into the living room and flipped on the TV. Deciding cartoons would be a welcome distraction he left Odin with the TV and the offending fire truck and went back outside.

Closing the door behind him, he once again looked at the SUV. It wasn’t one he recognized as one of Nick’s, but then again they hadn’t talked in months. That’s what made this all so strange. They weren’t the two most likely to hang out with each other during vacations, so why was he here? Why now?

Making his way closer to the SUV he heard the blood curdling scream that could only come from a baby. He heard Saoirse before he saw her. She had most definitely gotten her father’s lung capacity he thought. Nick was in the driver’s seat, hunched over the steering wheel as the poor baby wailed in the backseat. Whatever was going on had to be bad. Kevin quickly closed the distance between him and the car and yanked the door to the backseat open. Saoirse was louder now, screaming and crying, her poor pretty face covered in tears, snot and was that applesauce? Kevin shook his head and made quick work of unbuckling her from her carseat. Lifting her out of the car he situated her in his arms before shutting the door. She wasn’t dressed for the Kentucky fall and Kevin worried about her catching cold but the cool air seemed to have the same calming effect on her that it did him. Once out of the car seat and into the crisp morning air the wailing subsided into noisy gasps for air and soft hiccups. “That’s better isn’t it little one.” Kevin said gently rubbing circles on her back to help calm her down.

Inside the SUV, Nick still sat. Kevin could see now his shoulders were shaking viciously and he knew whatever drove the younger man to come here was devastating. Kevin took another look at Saoirse to make sure she was okay for the moment before shifting her to his left side. He walked around the side of the SUV and gently opened the driver’s side door. Leaning into the car he wrapped one arm around Nick’s broad shoulders as he held his baby girl in the other. As soon as Kevin touched him, Nick seemed to come completely apart. The cries grew stronger and he collapsed against Kevin, wrapping his arms around the other man’s waist. He knocked Kevin off balance for a moment but Kevin managed to shift his weight quickly enough to keep everyone upright. Nick clung to Kevin desperately, crying and muttering “gone” over and over. Kevin was starting to get scared now. He’d never seen the younger man like this. It was uncharted territory.

Sure he’d always been the one Nick came to in crisis, the one to soothe his fears and insecurities away, but he hadn’t been in this role for years. Nick hadn’t needed him anymore.

Kevin continued to try to rub Nick’s back all the while balancing the baby in the other arm. It had been quite a while since his boys were this little and he was quickly remembering how fatigued arms could get while holding these small bundles of heavy joy.

A noise caught his attention and he glanced up to see the front door standing wide open again and Odin standing in the opened door frame. He sighed quietly. So much for his quiet week of no responsibility.

“Come on baby,” Kevin said to Nick, pulling him away from his embrace. “We need to get the kids into the house and then you and I can talk okay?” Kevin said looking down at the shattered man.

Nick nodded and turned the key in the ignition. He grabbed the diaper bag out of the passenger seat and got out of the car. Kevin held Saoirse out for him to take. “You take the kids inside and I’ll get all your bags out of the car.” Kevin said rubbing his own arm after Nick took her back. His arm was going to be sore for a while. He never understood how small babies could make a grown man’s arms hurt so bad.

“There’s a lot Kev,” Nick said softly, not meeting his eyes.

Kevin laid his hand on Nick’s back and squeezed his shoulder. “That’s fine. It’s chilly out here and neither of the kids have coats on right now. Get them in the house before they catch a cold. There’s some grapes and bananas in the kitchen, get Odin a snack and let me unload the car.”

Nick nodded and shifted the baby onto his hip. “Kev,” he started.

Kevin interrupted him. “We will talk until you can’t utter another word. But right now the kids come first so let’s get them taken care of and then I’ll give you all the time you need baby.”

Nick nodded and slung the diaper bag over his shoulder. Heading towards the front of the house he scooped Odin up by the shoulders and directed him back into the house. Kevin sighed again.

What in the hell was going on? He couldn’t believe something this significant had gone on with Nick and none of the others had thought to call him and give him a heads up that there was a possibility of his younger friend showing up on his doorstep. He quickly took his phone out of his pocket and sent a quick WTF message to Brian before beginning to unpack the bags from the back of the SUV.

Nick was right, there were a lot. Kevin was well versed in fatherhood and knew how much kids needed anytime you traveled, regardless of where you were going or how long, but still. How long was Nick planning on staying here?

There was only one way to get to the bottom of all of this. Pushing several duffle bags up his shoulders, he grabbed the pack and play, and slammed the door to the SUV. Surely this would be enough to get them set up and if they needed something else they could always come back out and get it.

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