Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.John Ed Pearce
San Myshuno Declan Cameron and Rory Flynn's apartment
Dale looked excited after just finishing a rant about a new gaming computer, mostly aimed at Declan, but it generated moans and groans from the two girls present.
“Not … again! NOT AGAIN!” Rory pleaded theatrically.
“I agree … not THAT again!” Ashleigh agreed.
“Don’t listen to them, ignore that. Dude, you TOTALLY need that. I mean, it’s the overlord of all gaming systems. You are just raking in the dough and still live in an apartment. Out of all of us, you can definitely afford it the most! I sure can’t, since I am apparently saving up for a wedding …” he glanced at Ashleigh on the couch next to Declan.
“That’s right, you are! WE are! And saving for a bigger house. Remember?” Ashleigh said grinning.
“I know, I read all about it, it is seriously kick-ass, but the missus won’t even let me get the whole question out … and we kinda agreed that larger purchases need to be discussed and all that … you know, like couples are supposed to and such …” Declan sighed now, still hung up on the gaming computer discussion.
“Missus?! The missus?! All right, first of all, I am not ‘the missus’, we’re not even engaged! Secondly, this ‘missus’ here was very supportive when you just HAD TO have that ugly monstrosity of a robotics workstation that is now squished into our home office. I helped pay for it, I helped you carry it up the stairs since it didn’t fit into the elevator and I helped assemble it. I also have not uttered one single word about it now being yet one more thing keeping your butt glued at home all the time instead of going out with me unless I force you at gun point! So, you REALLY want to go down that road with the gaming computer again?” Rory ranted, but it was mostly playing.
“No.” Declan said with a little voice, trying to ignore the grins of his two friends and Ashleigh.
“You are lucky that you are so cute and adorable and that I love you, Mr. Cameron!” Rory smirked.
“Yeah, I know … remind me to thank my parents for giving me those ‘cute’ genes. And I love you, too, you are the bestestest, most patient and most beautiful girlfriend ever.” Declan smirked, making Rory giggle and shake her head.
“Well, speaking of missus, Dale and I have started shopping around for wedding locations. Nothing set in stone yet, not even a date, but we next leveled the efforts. Any interest in helping me out with the girly stuff, Rory?” Ashleigh asked.
“Yeah, sure, totally, sounds like fun. Declan can go nuts with his tech at home and I get to have some girl time. Something related to pretty stuff for girls, not just constantly microchips and Apps and upgrades. I may not be the girliest girl out there, but I guess I am not nerdy enough either. Totally game!”
“Awesome! Decided then! This will be fun! Can’t wait.” Ashleigh clapped her hands.
“Samsies! Like … totes.” Rory played up the Valley Girl voice, leading to both girls giggling.
“Maybe I want to help too …” Declan pouted. He hated going out, certainly wasn’t the first authority for all things wedding, plus he still suffered from severe issues when talking to strangers, but he hated being separated from Rory even more. He’d rather help plan someone else’s wedding.
“You? YOU want to help my fiancée plan our wedding? No offense man, you are awesome, but I’d rather do a Las Vegas drive-thru wedding instead of anything you’d conjure up.” Dale laughed.
“Why? I can be romantic as all get out. Ask Rory!” Declan said.
“OMG those puppy dog eyes! But It’s true. He is very romantic if he wants to be. And he is just the perfect boyfriend, most of the time does the dishes before I can get them, he makes the bed while I am in the shower, if he gets home before me or works from home, he has dinner waiting. He listens to my rants about work and traffic, he watches my shows with me … and the bedroom stuff is … yes, please!”
“Rory, please stop before Ashleigh starts taking notes!” Dale laughed.
“Oh, Ashleigh already took notes, babe! Rory, you and I will meet for coffee – without the boys – and TALK!” Ashleigh giggled.
“Dang it! See what you’ve done now, Declan!?” Dale joked.
Everyone laughed, once it calmed down and got quiet for a moment with most of them taking a sip of their beverages, Chad, who had been unusually quiet all this time suddenly spoke.
“Carley’s mother called me earlier today.” All eyes were on him but nobody said anything.
Chad LeChien was 25 now, just like the rest of them, equally as nerdy and shy, and currently the only single of the group, with little hope of changing that anytime soon.
In a rather cruel twist of fate however, when he was 17, an older woman who frequented the café he worked at as a barista had seduced him, he never heard from her again after. Until recently, when Child Protective Services contacted him for a paternity test and it turned out that the one night stand had resulted in a child, a daughter named Carley, now 7 years old. A very convoluted development later Chad was awarded full custody. He had bought a small fixer upper two bedroom home in Evergreen Harbor, and with the help of Declan, Rory, Dale and Ashleigh had remodeled it into a decent family home.
Now he was trying hard to figure out how to be a good single dad, while getting to know the little girl, who was sweet as pie but it was obvious she had been neglected. A tough job for a young man who had his nose in books or plastered to a computer screen all his life and never had a real relationship.
“Well, not all of you at once. But since you all asked – NOT, I am just gonna tell you. She wants to be in touch, whatever that means. Get involved with Carley and all … and I don’t know what to do … I mean, a child needs her mother, but … maybe not really THAT one. I just don’t know. I let her come by the other day, for Carley.
It was so awkward, my parents and grandparents told me right away it would be a mistake, and at first all went well, but then Carley got a bit whiny and Rachel just flipped out at her! So I asked her to leave, but she called me later, crying, telling me it was just the stress of the situation and her infant daughter. Yeah, she has another little girl like Carley now, no baby daddy again. What do you guys think I should do?” Chad continued with a labored smile.
None of the friends had any idea about kids or relationships, either they never had a real girlfriend, like Chad, and for Declan, Rory, Ashleigh and Dale it was their first relationship ever.
Later that night after all the friends had left, Declan picked up the phone to call Everett, who answered after the first ring.
“Dec-Man! How the hell are you, bro? I was just about to call you too!”
“Oh really? Nothing bad I hope?”
“Nah, Maeve and I are coming for a visit, just for a few days. Her sister got engaged and moved to some hoity-toity three story penthouse, so Maeve was ordered to make an appearance but doesn’t want to go alone. And now I, her sister’s ex-boyfriend, am gonna show up with her, so everyone can assume we are a couple. I was hoping to get some one-on-one time with my favorite brother …”
“I am your ONLY brother … but yeah, that sounds great. Come over to our place after the engagement party, we can all hang out for a bit, I betcha there will be a family dinner in Windenburg after, you and I can have a guy talk …”
“Since when do you do guy talk?” Everett teased laughing.
“Never mind then.” Declan said almost upset.
“Just playing, come on Dec-Man … Don’t get your feelings in a wad, our guy talks are the best! So, see you this weekend then?”
“Sounds great! I would offer you to crash at our place but as you know our second bedroom is an office …”
“Nah, that’s fine. Mom and dad offered to stay there so Maeve can have your room. Hope that’s okay, if not, I’ll take yours and she gets mine.”
“No, that’s silly. She can stay in my old room. Not like I’d ever really need it again. Just please make sure she doesn’t mess up the order in the drawers by my desk. There are processors, computer chips, CPUs and stuff in there, carefully separated by …”
“Decs! Man, chill. I can guarantee you she won’t dig around in your drawers. She is about as interested in computer junk as me. It’s all safe, she just needs your bed.”
After they hung up, Declan went to tell Rory.
“Rett’s coming home this weekend. So they’ll stop by our place to hang out and then we all go out with my family in Windenburg. He’s bringing Maeve!”
“Oh cool, I hardly know her. All that sounds great. And you and I get out for a change.”
“Now I feel bad. I want to make my girl happy, but you know how I am with strangers … I just rather … not go out. But if it really means that much to you, I guess we can go out for meals more often … I can do better, Rory.”
“I know it’s because of your issues, that’s why I rarely complain. I just like to show you off every now and then, handsome … occasional dinner dates out sound great, Decs.”
“I love you more than I can say, Rory.”
“I know … that’s why I put up with all your crap. And I love you too.”
San Myshuno Financial District, Cordelia Reed and Julian DiLaurentis' Penthouse
The following weekend Everett and Maeve stood together in a corner, staring at the many guests at Cordelia and Julian’s engagement party, in a truly impressive three story penthouse located in the center of San Myshuno’a financial district.
Both of them had already endured the stares of the engaged couple and of Maeve and Cordelia’s parents when they arrived. Rett’s former ‘friends’ were all there too, but none had said much beyond the usual greeting and empty phrases. Hard to believe those people used to be the center of Rett’s life growing up, right after his family. Now they were practically strangers, which made him sad in a way, but on the other hand, if they were to try and reconnect with him now, he would resend that even more.
“Ah, there is my little girl. So glad you could make it. It means the world to your sister!” Maeve’s mother joined them, hugging Maeve, then eyed Everett with an indistinguishable look.
“Hey Mrs. Reed.” he offered.
“Everett…” she said with a cold glare.
After this awkward moment, she pulled Maeve away with her for some mother-daughter talk. Everett wasn’t alone for a full minute, until Cordelia showed up, pulling him onto the balcony with her.
“What are you doing here?! You were definitely not invited! I learned calligraphy just for the invites and I would remember writing your name! I didn’t!” she hissed.
“Chill, I came with Maeve, thought you saw us.”
“Why?! Why my sister now, Rett? What the hell is wrong with you?! I am asking you to leave her be. Bad enough all that you have done to me. Maeve may seem tough, but she is very sensitive. You need to leave her alone. Not my little sister, Rett. Just no!”
“First of all, Cordelia, I’d say you got me back big time when I literally walked in on you and Julian practically right after climax, leaving me standing in the doorway with a red rose, dressed up like a fucking fool, so we are at best even! What I did to you in high school was shitty, but we were teens and it was all of us being dumb kids. When we were together as adults, YOU fucked it up in the worst possible way, so don’t give me that shit! Besides, Maeve and I are friends and roommates. Neither of us has the cash to afford their own place just yet, so this is what it is. Sorry, not sorry!”
“You are unbelievable! The forehead alone to show up here! Nobody hears from you for months, then suddenly you just show up uninvited! Do you not realize or care that you are making EVERYONE uncomfortable?! You are ruining my big milestone! This is supposed to be one of the happiest memories in a girl’s life, yet this is mine now, with her ex crashing the party!”
“I didn’t crash shit, Cordelia, I am a ‘plus one’! Back the fuck off me, you psycho bitch! I don’t want to be here any more than you want me here, believe me, but my loyalties lay with a good friend who just happens to be your sister. I can fix this problem for you though! Congratulations again! And condolences to the blushing groom!” Rett said, then stormed out, looking for Maeve who waved at him, so he pointed at the front door, and continued rushing out.
She caught up with him right outside the front door of the penthouse, right by the elevator.
“Sorry, I can’t do this another minute, Maeve. Declan and Rory live close by, just meet me there when this shit show is over.”
“Nah, I am so done too. Let’s bounce, Rett!”
On the way over to his brother’s home they traded stories of what happened. Turns out Maeve got pretty much the same spiel from her mother as Rett got from Cordelia, which had triggered pretty much the same reaction.
Once at Declan and Rory’s small apartment all that was soon forgotten. There was so much laughter, as each of them shared current news and memories of their past together.
They almost were late leaving for Windenburg for a dinner with the rest of Rett and Declan’s family.
As much fun as it all was, it was frustrating to both Everett and Maeve that everyone just kept assuming they were a couple. But Rett was so happy to see his family again, and realized how much he really missed spending time with them. Phone calls and chats were nice, but this was better.
Maeve seemed to enjoy herself as well, laughing, talking with Rett’s parents, grandparents and of course Declan and Rory.
Later that night at the Cameron Beach House she looked at all the old photos of Everett and Declan, the wedding pictures of a young Brendan and Natalie.
After everyone turned in for the night, Rett knocked on the door to Declan’s room, where Maeve was staying.
“Hey, just wanted to see if you got everything you need.” he asked after she had called him inside.
“Yeah, I am all set. Thanks Rett. For this and for going with me today. I know I asked a lot and that couldn’t have been comfortable. But all this here is great. The house is great, your parents are great, your mom is super-sweet and your dad hilarious! I fake-hate you, Rett. Your family is amazing. I would kill for my parents to be like yours. Mine are great, but only as long as you follow THEIR rules. As soon as you stray, you are the red-headed stepchild, dissed and ditched. Yours know about all the crap you pulled, weren’t thrilled with you going to Del Sol Valley, but still support you. That is so amazing to me. And Declan is soooooo sweet. What do I have for a sibling? Annoying ‘Sister-Barbie’, who is now about to marry also annoying ‘Fake-As-Fuck-Ken’. The ultimate Instagram couple. And I am expected to show up for that wedding, because guess what? My dumb sister told everyone she wants me to be her Maid of Honor. She never ran that by me, it was decided and now I am stuck with that job or I need never come home again. URGH! Does she not have any other friends?!”
Everett laughed, which took the edge off for Maeve, so she smiled.
“Hey, you just need to get yourself knocked up between now and then. Cordelia would NEVER have someone soil her precious photos with a baby bump. That much I DO know.” joked Rett.
“Great idea in theory, but you don’t know my sister like I do, Rett. She’s gonna be Bridezilla for sure, just you watch. If I or any of her other bridesmaids were to show up preggers, she’d have us fucking induced, then stick them in Spanx and resume the program as scheduled. You are seriously lucky you got out when you did, dude. You have no idea!” Maeve laughed.
Everett chimed into the laughter.
“Trust me, I have an idea … and I am glad.” he told her.
“Hey, let’s make a pact, Rett. If we get famous and one of us starts behaving like Cordelia, the other is required to immediately take action! Any means necessary, including serious ass kicking till the shoe gets stuck! Until it bleeds, I swear!” Maeve told him.
After they said goodnight Rett fell asleep smiling.
A.N.: If anyone is interested in Declan and Rory’s apartment, Chad LeChien’s home in Evergreen Harbor, they are in my Gallery.
Also, there is more to the story of Chad and his surprise daughter Carley. Rachel Adams, the much older mother was once one of Declan and Everett’s FATHER Brendan’s girlfriends when he was still in high school (yeah, she is THAT much older!). She had three kids from three different men, none of which she is with. Lives with her elderly parents instead. Her oldest son is OLDER than Declan, Everett and Chad, the youngest an infant. Yeahhhhhh .. and no, none of that was MY idea.