Kevin sat leaning against the wall, trying to stretch the kinks in his back but being unsuccessful. “I don’t even know that shape has anything to do with it. We were already tired when we started and neither of us has ever spent a lot of time doing manual labor.” Kevin said chuckling. Giving up on being able to stretch while still sitting up he laid down beside Nick on the floor and tried again. This time he was able to pop the section of his back that was giving him the most grief. He moaned slightly, finally getting a little relief in his tired muscles. Nick looked at him briefly before quickly looking away and rolling onto his side to face the older man.
“I’ve been here for hours and I haven’t even taken the time to ask you how you are. I’ve been so consumed with my own drama and the kids. I’m sorry for being so selfish. How is it having to split custody of the boys?” Nick said looking over at the older man.
Kevin laid there for a moment before rolling onto his side as well. Facing each other, Kevin sighed. “I hate sharing. But we’re doing a good job of it. The boys are well adjusted and don’t seem to mind going back and forth. A week is hard, but it’s nothing like it is when we’re on the road. I think having that experience really helps. It’s been a blessing being stuck at home so much and getting to spend so much time with them. They are so independent and so grown up while still being so little. It’s amazing to watch their little personalities develop. They are alike in many ways but so different too. They love each other the way brothers do but spend the majority of their time aggregating each other. It will be nice for them to have Odin and Saoirse here to play with the weeks they are here. I think sometimes they get bored with me.” Kevin said chuckling.
Nick smiled and laughed as well. “You? Boring? Never!”
They settled into comfortable silence for a long moment. “Why did you file for divorce Kevin?” Nick asked quietly, not meeting the older man’s eyes. Kevin hesitated for a second before rolling back onto his back. He stared at the ceiling looking for the right words.
“How come you didn’t ask me that last year when it was happening?” He asked looking over at the blonde.
Nick shrugged and rolled onto his back beside Kevin. “I always got the feeling you didn’t want to talk about it, so I wanted to respect your privacy. I asked Brian a few times but all he would tell me was you had your reasons.”
Kevin nodded, leave it to Brian to be evasive and make it seem more tawdry than it really was. “You need to call him by the way. He knows you’re here but I didn’t tell him what was going on. He’s chomping at the bit to talk to you but I told him to give you a few days to settle in first.” Kevin said. He stretched his arms above his head, making his frame even longer than usual.
“Thanks Kev. I’ll call him in a day or so. I’m not ready for everyone to know how I failed at my marriage yet.” he said with a sad laugh.
Kevin turned his head to look at him and took one of Nick’s hands in his own. “You didn’t fail baby. You did everything you could, but love isn’t always enough. Especially when one of you has a problem with substance abuse. How many times has AJ relapsed until it stuck? He had to get there on his own, there wasn’t anything we or Rochelle could do to get him there. Same thing here, you did everything you could, she’s just not ready to be clean. Don’t think for a second you failed. Yes, your marriage may be over, but you put your babies first and that’s the most honorable, strong and selfless thing you could have ever done. I’ll never say it enough, but I am so incredibly proud of you. You’ve not only grown into a wonderful man, but an amazing father. The rest of the guys feel the very same. Believe me, I would stake everything I have on that fact. Not one of us would ever think this is your fault or something you could have done differently. I don’t want to hear that defeatist tone again. You are amazing.”
Nick didn’t know how to respond. Tears filled his eyes again for the millionth time that day. Knowing Kevin was proud of him was enough to bring him to tears. He’d tried so hard, for so long in everything he did to make the older man proud of him. To hear the words said in such a loving and understanding way was almost too much for Nick to hear.
He smiled a wobbly smile at Kevin and then hid his face against Kevin’s chest so the older man wouldn’t see him cry again. Kevin brought both arms down around the blonde and held him close while they laid on the floor. After a few moments Nick spoke.
“You didn’t answer the question. Why did you ask for a divorce?”
Kevin exhaled slowly. This wasn’t something he talked about, with anyone. He wasn’t even sure what or how much to say. They had divorced for many reasons. Some that were public and others that were just between him and Kristin. A lot of factors came into ending their nineteen year marriage, the most significant would never be spoken out loud.
“We grew apart. I know it’s a cliché, but I grew at a different rate and in a different direction than she did. At the end of the day, we both loved each other and we love the boys, but I was no longer in love with her. I took a long hard look at my life and realized that I hadn’t been happy in a very long time and it wasn’t fair to her or the boys to keep pretending it was her that made me happy any longer.”
“Was there someone else? Someone else that made you happy?” Nick said looking up at him through his eyelashes.
Kevin swallowed hard and looked away. “Are you asking me if I cheated on my wife? The answer is no. I was always faithful to her. As you can understand from your own experiences, even though you try for something, doesn’t always mean it’s going to work out. That’s what happened with Kristin. At the end of the day I am happier being alone than pretending to be something I’m not.” Kevin said quietly, hoping Nick would drop the subject.
They laid together in silence for a few more moments before Nick finally pushed himself up into a sitting position. “We’d probably better get finished before we become too stiff to move.”
Kevin stared at him, swallowed hard and nodded, trying desperately not to think too hard about the words the younger man had just muttered.
The house had eight bedrooms in total. There were two master suites on either side of the house with three bedrooms on the third level, two more on the second floor and a very small one on the first floor that was mainly used for storage. The third floor housed his boys and the studio. He did most of his work in the studio and when the boys were there it was easier having them on the same level he was. It also helped having his bedroom on a separate floor so they all had some privacy. It made sense to Kevin to set Nick up in the master on the other side and let Odin and Saoirse have the other two bedrooms on the second floor. Nick tried to argue with him about the arrangements.
“Kevin, you do not have to give us all this space. It’s too much. The kids can stay with me in my room.” Nick said, shaking his head.
Kevin turned from where he stood making the twin bed in one of the rooms for Odin. “Stop Nick. Don’t be ridiculous. There is no way any of us are going to get any peace if the three of you are holed up in one bedroom. How do you expect to spend your time here? This house is just as much yours while you are here. I expect the three of you to take full advantage of all rooms of the house. We may have to keep the kids out of Max and Mason’s rooms, but mostly because they have Legos and other things Saoirse can choke on and I don’t feel right making them move their things, but other than that any place in the house is fair game for all of you. Don’t keep the kids locked up in a room. Let them explore and feel at home here.” Kevin said emphatically.
Nick shook his head. “What did we do to deserve you?” He said quietly.
Kevin wasn’t sure how to respond so he didn’t and finished making the bed. He set up some of the trucks they had found upstairs on one of the bookcases for Odin to see when he woke up. They’d found most of the things he’d been looking for. The highchair and booster had been easy to find. They’d found boxes of books and old toys that Kristin had asked him to take to Goodwill months ago and forgot. They were perfect to bring down for the kids though. He’d looked all over but still couldn’t find any of the baby gates. He’d quickly ordered one for each floor from Amazon. They would be essential in keeping Saoirse safe in the house.
“Odin is going to love this. He will love all the toys he’s never played with. It’s like Christmas.” Nick said chuckling as he turned and looked at all they had managed to get done in the short amount of time.
“I’m glad. Whatever I can do to make this all easier is all I want to do.” Kevin said, smiling genuinely at the other man.
“You really mean that don’t you?” Nick asked suddenly.
“What? That I want to make this easier on you?” Nick nodded. “Of course. You know all I’ve ever wanted to do is take care of you baby. Even when you didn’t want me to. You can be pretty stubborn. I’m just glad you came, that you trusted me to help you and you didn’t shut down and shut us out.” Kevin said, crossing the room to wrap the younger man in a hug.
Nick clung to him and allowed the tears to fall. He was getting really sick and tired of crying. “I’m sorry I’m such a blubbering mess.” Nick said laughing against Kevin’s shoulder. Kevin squeezed him close for a moment and then released him.
“No worries. I’ve been there. You’re going through a lot. It will take time, but you’re going to be just fine. All of you.” Kevin grinned at him before leaving the blonde alone in the room.
It had been an incredibly long day, Kevin thought as he climbed into bed a few hours later. Rolling over onto his side he glanced at the clock. It was after two. Pretty late for this old man who had gotten up at five that morning he thought chuckling to himself. They had managed to get all the rooms set up and Nick had opted to sleep downstairs in the living room with the kids until they could get some baby monitors. Kevin had placed another order for monitors and a few extra toys for the kids, his own included. This was going to be an adjustment for everyone and the more he could do to make sure all the kids felt safe and comfortable the better they would all be for it.
Even though Kevin was physically and emotionally exhausted he still had difficulty relaxing enough to fall asleep. His mind kept drifting to the people camped out in his living room. People who needed him now than ever before. That fact alone was exhilarating. Kevin, selfishly, lived to be needed by the people he cared about. Taking care of others was completely natural for him, he excelled at it and most of all, he really enjoyed it. The next few days were going to be insanely hard. He had no disillusion about that, but knew he would do everything in his power to make this work for everyone. His mind finally slowing, Kevin fell into a fitful sleep.