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He was nervous as hell. Before moving away he hadn’t thought that going to visit his mother during the holidays would be such a big deal. He knew that he would miss her, and god knows she’d miss him. Read had thought that he would look forward to this more than anything, especially after all the crazy things that had happened. However, he hadn’t taken into consideration that he was hiding more from her than just vampires and other monsters, but a very important person in his life that he couldn’t even talk to her about fully and it was...terrible. So, in typical Read fashion he impulsively got a plain ticket for Holland.
He had turned himself into a stressed mess the first week of December. My god it really had snuck up on them, and with work and school and also hiding things from Holland, Read was a clumsy, easily forgetful insomniac with a mind running a million miles a minute. That is, until he ended up telling Holland what was wrong with him. It wasn’t like he ever made himself inconspicuous, but when he finally gave in and told Holland he’d gotten him a plane ticket and hoped that he would really think about going home with him he hadn’t expected it to be all too well received, despite his innocent intentions.
When Holland accepted he was both thrilled and all the more nervous, but Holland’s presence helped him get through the plane ride, and soothed his nerves once they arrived and collected their things, but he was back to his worrying once they headed toward the pick up area. Read stopped and turned to Holland, a worried look in his features as he spoke. ”My mom knows that you can’t speak much.” Although Read had informed her of much more, he didn’t want to embarrass Holland with all the trivial little things, let alone himself. He could swoon over the guy sometimes, and he didn’t always want it to seem so obvious. ”So...You don’t have to push yourself okay. I can do most of the talking, but she will ask you questions here and there. I don’t doubt that.” God he hoped Holland was okay with this, that it didn’t make him want to leave once they got back home. Read loved his mother, but she could be intimidating when she wanted to be.
”And you know..I can always get us a hotel instead of staying at home.” They’d have to sleep apart, and that too kind of made him anxious.
Holland wasn’t dumb, and he knew something had been bugging Read for awhile. What it was, he hadn’t really known and he hadn’t pressed the other man for details. If nothing else he had learned that the blonde needed time to think when there was an issue, he needed to mull it over and rushing him to talk wouldn’t get him results. So he had waited, he’d kept an eye on his partner. He didn’t know all the ins and outs of it, but he could only assume it was school that was bugging him to some degree. Admittedly Holland had glanced over his shoulder a few times while he was doing his homework and just...what the fuck it was so complicated? Of course he was stressed. With that in mind, he was patient and simply let the other man work.
Eventually Holland had broken his silence on the matter, partially because Read was nearly killing himself daily due to his clumsiness and because he knew the other man wasn’t sleeping much. Was school that stressful? Maybe? Holland had no idea, but when Read finally spilled the beans and confessed he had purchased plane tickets for the both of them to go to Arizona and see his mother Holland balked at the suggestion at first. He hadn’t said no right off the bat, but it took some pressing to get a confirmation from him. Holland had no idea what meeting family was supposed to be like, but if the possibility of him saying no to the whole thing was only adding to Read’s stress then...he would go. He’d suck up his own weird anxieties over the situation and go.
Very quickly Holland had learned airports and planes were not fun places to be. Not because of all the waiting and the weird bag checks and security but because there was so many people. They were everywhere, scurrying around like busy little ants and the crowds had made him nervous, constantly on his toes. He didn’t like it, but he had kept a straight face. He’d kept his concerns quiet during the plane ride, though every so often during turbulence he’d...take a glance over at the blonde to make sure the plane wasn’t...you know, crashing. Read didn’t seem bothered, so Holland could only assume everything was fine. Luckily the first half of the trip was over soon enough, and once they had collected their bags and ended up in the pick up area Holland felt at least a little more at ease.
He didn’t know what kind of things Read told his mother about him, and when the blonde explained that she knew he couldn’t talk much he was a bit relieved. He’d rather be a fly on the wall through this whole thing, though if she spoke to him he wouldn’t...ignore her. He knew his mother was the most important person in Read’s life, and admittedly Holland wanted to be at least somewhat liked by her. While he might not listen to his friends if they were to insist he was a bad egg, Holland was certain he’d give his mother’s testimony to his character more credit. Holland had surmised that she didn’t know about their relationship, and while that might have bothered someone else Holland cared very little about it. Read was dating him, it didn’t matter who knew. The blonde could have decided to keep their relationship a secret from everyone and Holland wouldn’t have cared much. ’I can think of good lies.’ Was his only response in regards to being asked questions. He signed the words slowly for the blonde’s benefit, his signing was improving and Holland was thankful that he was needing to write things out for him less and less.
In regards to finding a hotel room though...Holland simply shrugged and gave the blonde an apprehensive sort of smile, ’whatever makes you happy.’ It didn’t matter to him where the slept or where they were, he was here for Read and he could deal with a bit of discomfort as long as his partner was happy.
He worried for Holland throughout their entire trip to Arizona. He wasn’t so self consumed that he hadn’t paid attention to the brunette. He was well aware what crowds could do to him, and since he didn’t think Holland had ever really been on a plane before, he let his ‘no pda’ rule slide and had taken his hand on while they were airborne. However, now that they were on the ground and waiting for his mother, he was back to his former nerves.
He wanted nothing more than for his mother to love Holland. She was very important to Read, and the only family he had left. So yes, for the next week or so he was going to do everything in his power to make his mother fall in love with Read and..subsequently help her forget about all the traumatic shit he’d endured while she hadn’t been around to look after him through it. He tilted his head as he watched Holland’s hands, frowning to himself at what he’d said. It had started to become easier understanding Holland when he signed, and though it was still quite difficult for Read to do it himself, he was pleased with himself that he’d come that far at least. However, he disliked knowing that Holland had to lie. Hell, Read was going to have to lie, and he hated it.
”I hate the idea of having to lie to her.” He sighed, defeated, because it didn’t matter that he disliked it. Read couldn’t exactly tell her the truth. He told himself it was for her safety, but it felt like a load of bullshit given how he had learned about the supernatural. He didn’t want that to happen to his mother, but he sure as hell didn’t want her fearing Holland. It was such a complicated mess that he was starting to get a headache. Still, leave it to Holland to say something that made him feel just a little bit better. Paired with that small smile of his? Read’s frown softened.
”But I want you to be happy too.” Read worried for Holland and his sleep since the episode he’d had in front of his very eyes. Holland had been getting better with it, or so Read hoped, but what if he had another nightmare and Read wasn’t with him to help? ”Maybe I can sneak in the guest bedroom after she’s asleep..” It sounded so childish that he couldn’t help but smirk a little, but hey, having to go a week without being affectionate with Holland would surely kill him if he didn’t do something to help a little. ”I’ll go nuts if I can’t touch you even once for an entire week straight.”
Lying to Read’s mother was most likely the only way this trip was going to go smoothly, and admittedly Holland wasn’t exactly keen on it either. His reasons differed from his partner’s though. It seemed unfair to hide such a big part of the world from someone, it seemed unkind to simply let them live their life in bliss when there were monsters out there that could do them harm. Still, Holland was learning that not everyone needed to know. Not everyone needed to be told about the scary things in the night. If they weren’t in immediate danger then there was no reason to shatter their worldview. He wasn’t entirely convinced that Read’s mother was blissfully unaware either, her son was...not human. Holland still hadn’t pinpointed just what the fuck was happening there but...perhaps she knew and had hid such details from him. Holland wasn’t going to touch that discussion with a fifty foot pole though.
As far as he was concerned, for this trip he was just going to be as human as possible which wasn’t too hard. He’d be...hungry and probably cranky by the end but he could hold out, and if he had to Holland was good at finding places to get a meal. Read’s disappointment in the fact that most of this trip would be half truths wasn’t lost on him, but Holland honestly had little to offer in comfort. Normally he would have thought to pat his head or...something, touch him, but he couldn’t do that in public and so he shrugged. ’Safer that way.’ Was it? He had no idea, but he’d tell Read that it was just to soothe him.
It amused him to some degree that Read was so hellbent on ensuring his happiness, and if Holland were a sappier sort of man he might have asserted that it was the blonde that made him happy no matter where they were or what they were doing. There were plenty of inane little adventures that the blonde dragged him on as of late that Holland enjoyed simply because he was with the other man. That made him happy, their sleeping arrangements for the next week didn’t matter to him. Seeing his mother would make Read happy, and while it unnerved Holland that he was being included in something like that it felt...good? Nice? He was pleased to see however, that the frown that had carved its way into Read’s face softened some at his words. Good, a frown didn’t belong there. ’I will be happy.’ Or at least content. Though at the suggestion that Read could sneak into his room...the brunette scoffed. ’You’re too noisy, we’d get in trouble.’ His signing was followed by a poke to the blonde’s side. It’d definitely be hard to go an entire week without any sort of affection shared between them but Holland could handle it. It wasn’t going to be world ending. All that being said he wouldn’t send Read away if he decided to sneak off to see him for a bit at night.
He hadn’t really thought that maybe part of Read’s desire to be with him in those late hours was due to worrying over him. It wasn’t something he thought about during the day. It was easy to put the woes of the night behind him when he was awake and busy with other things. Occasionally they lingered, and those were days that he stuck closer to Read, days that the blonde would wake up tangled in his arms. There hadn’t been another “episode” as Read called them since the last time, and he was grateful for that if nothing else.
Those thoughts were hardly things swirling around in his mind at the moment though, instead Holland found himself glancing around the pick up area. It was strange to be in a place where a super was the minority and not the other way around. It’d been....awhile since he’d left Mythril on any sort of job, especially after Read had told him they’d be going to Arizona. The last thing he needed was to show up mangled. Well, more mangled than he already was. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could stand here though, and after a quick glance around dark hues fell to the blonde beside him, ’I don’t know what your mom looks like. Not gonna be much help seeing her.’ Though he certainly...stood out a fair bit, if only because of his height.
Read did his best not to pester Holland about his dreams as harshly as he had that first time. Holland liked to keep things to himself when it came to feelings that he didn’t think he had the right to feel, and though Read wished he could fix it for him he knew that poking and prying constantly would more than likely just stress his boyfriend out than do any real good. Still, aside from his own selfish desire to be close to Holland, he hoped that he would be okay by himself. On that note he was going to make sure that Holland did have fun at least. It was Christmas break, and Read felt quite special that this might be the first time Holland’s ever really done anything in celebration for who knows how long.
He heeded Holland’s encouragements with a nod, but smirked the accusation that he was too noisy. ”I am not.” He grumbled halfheartedly, and after twitching thanks to Holland poking his side he returned the playful gesture with a nudge to the man’s arm. He wanted to hold his hand, kiss him, but he supposed maybe later he could sneak something while his mother was distracted with other things. That in mind, he pulled his phone from his pocket with Holland’s reminder that they were still waiting on her. ”She’s usually on time for these sorts of things, but it could be the traffic.” Holiday traffic was rough in Mythril, but in a much larger city it was a nightmare. The airport itself was far more active than what he’d remembered it being when he had left home too.
Read called her, but didn’t have to wait long for her to pick up. After a brief exchange of details, and their general vicinity, all he had to do was turn a little to the left and there she was. A short, blonde haired woman, looking hardly in her mid forties, and to Read’s relief she had the brightest smile on her face the moment he noticed her. He let go of suitcase to close the distance a few steps so she didn’t have to walk all the way, and pulled her into a hug that he’d been needing for months. Emotional and suddenly realizing how homesick he’d really felt, Read knew that if he lingered too long he might just start crying, but he allowed himself a couple more long seconds before he let her go and she started teasing him about his height and how much thinner he seemed.
She took a glance at Holland before Read could formally introduce. Her gaze was scrutinizing, but not overly critical, and before she could say anything just yet Read turned to Holland and gestured to him a bit nervously. ”So this is Holland. Holland my mom.” Read tucked a strand of blonde hair behind his ear, and watched as they exchanged glances, hoping she wouldn’t say anything to embarrass him right off the bat. ”Yes I know. You’ve mentioned him more than once Read.” She replied with a knowing grin in Read’s direction, which quickly made him flush. So much for not saying anything embarrassing.
”Mom.” He grumbled, but his complaints ended their when she stepped forward and took Holland into a hug of her own. Read hadn’t a clue how Holland might react, but he knew his mother, and he had sort of expected she’d be as welcoming upfront as she was with any of his friends. He supposed he should have warned his boyfriend first, but sometimes she was unpredictable. She didn’t hold onto Holland as firmly or as long as she had her son, but it was a warm gesture. Once she stepped back again, she patted Holland’s cheek - which got a bemused grin from Read. ”My name's Grace. It’s nice to finally meet you Holland. Now, let’s hit the road. These people drive like they’re insane.” God did he ever miss her. Read gave Holland a playful nudge, then grabbed his suitcase handle again before he started off to follow his mother.
Read was right in thinking that this would be Holland’s first “real” Christmas. He knew the holiday existed obviously, and he must have celebrated it at some point but those memories were foggy if nothing else. They were distant things floating off into nothingness, not things he could hold onto. After Boss had taken him in he just...never celebrated it. It was something that wasn’t for him, he had come to learn, and while at first he had been jealous whenever he saw other children so excited for the holiday he had come to accept that it wasn’t something for him. He was glad that Read and his mother wanted to include them in their holiday though, even if he felt like it was an almost private sort of thing that he didn’t deserve to be a part of.
That being said, he was happy to be here and he didn’t want to do anything that could get Read into trouble, or more likely, bring up uncomfortable conversations. So, he’d keep his hands to himself for the week. Mostly. He could only smirk at Read’s defense of himself. Truthfully Holland wasn’t sure if he was actually noisy. He was aware that the blonde made a lot of noise when they were intimate or just fooling around, but as to how loud he was...that was lost on him. Gauging sounds without being able to hear them was kind of hard, all he could do was rely on how hard Read’s chest and back vibrated and those weren’t necessarily indicative of volume. Maybe? Fuck if he knew. He wasn’t going to take chances.
Holland had kind of figured it was traffic that was keeping Read’s mother away, and he didn’t much mind the wait. He wasn’t a fan of the crowded airport but as long was Read was around he didn’t feel like a total fish out of water. He wasn’t sure how he’d fair on his own. There were so many smells and sights and it was overwhelming, especially as every so often someone would end up brushing against him. Annoying. That was annoying but he kept himself from worrying over it. He glanced over at the blonde fished his phone out of his pocket, and he could only assume that he was on the phone with his mother.
It didn’t take much longer after the phone call ended for her to appear. Admittedly he was surprised by how...similar her and Read looked? That was dumb though. Of course parents and children looked kind of similar, they shared DNA or whatever the hell. He waited patiently as they greeted eachother, pleased to see that Read hadn’t been met with a lecture and pleased to see that both parties seemed genuinely happy to see each other. If nothing else it only cemented that coming along was a good idea. Though, honestly, Holland wasn’t sure why he’d been invited in the first place. Maybe Read was worried something would happen while he was here, but that didn’t seem to be the reason.
When the two finally parted Holland glanced towards Read’s mom, meeting her piercing gaze passively. It made sense that she would be kind of weary of him, and the best thing he could do was simply let her pick him apart until she figured out if he was someone to be worried about or not. At Read’s introduction the brunette only nodded some, once again glancing between the two. He didn’t think his mother knew sign, and talking...no way. No way was he going to open his mouth and introduce himself. Read had already told him he’d do most of the talking and Holland was going to hold him to that. Not that the third-person introduction seemed to matter much to Grace, and before the brunette really had time to process what was happening she was stepping towards him to hug him.
When he’d first noticed her stepping closer Holland’s first instinct was to step away, but he caught himself and stayed still. It was a kind gesture, and rebuffing it wouldn’t do him much good, so he let Grace hug him even if doing so made him squirm just a bit. Though a bit nervous, Holland wasn’t entirely surprised by the welcoming sort of gesture. Read got his hospitable nature from somewhere surely, and it seemed like it had come from his mother. He wasn’t sad when the hug ended, though he smirked ever so slightly as Grace reached up to pat his cheek, and he had to bite the inside of it to keep his expression a bit more...neutral. He didn’t want her to think he was mocking her?
God it’d been five seconds and he was already nervous. It was hard to pick apart just what she was saying at first, when she announced that they should get going. It was hard to really know what people were saying upon first meeting them, it took a bit of time to be able to pick apart words. Everyone spoke a little differently, everyone’s lips formed words uniquely, but as Read grabbed his suitcase Holland pieced it together soon enough. While the blonde carried a suitcase he had a backpack partially because he didn’t really own a suitcase and because he didn’t have much to pack and he had learned to minimize what he needed for trips like this. Of course, he had...something extra for Read stored away in one of the pockets but the blonde didn’t know that yet. He turned to follow the two as they set off, hands tucking into the pockets of his jeans.
He gauged Holland’s reaction to his mother, hoping that her forwardness didn’t make the man uncomfortable. He was relieved when Holland accepted the hug without backing off, if nothing else. When she turned around he gave Holland a reassuring grin. Always he wished that he could show him some sort of affection in moments like these, and though it might not have been a big deal to most, Read felt more uneasy with it now that they were home - his home. He wondered if it bothered Holland at all, as he always did, but was forever reminded of the words Holland might say in response to his worry. He was overthinking things again. He just needed to relax.
”We’re gonna head home now.” He spoke quietly just in case Holland had missed what she’d said. ”When we get there you can rest if you want.” Read tried to sign with one hand as best he could, hoping he was understood as he did his best. Traveling was taxing. Even Read felt exhausted, though that was mostly thanks to his lack of sleep he’d been getting, but he wouldn’t mention it to Holland. He sort of wanted to just..catch up with his mom for a short while too. Read felt terribly guilty for thinking of leaving Holland out for anything, but he had missed her and if he was going to tell her - or drop hints- about Holland and why he was really here he didn’t think he could do that in front of the brunette.
When they got to his mother’s car, a small toyota that Read scrunched his nose at after he’d stuffed his luggage in the back, the blonde complained childishly once they got inside. He thought that it would be difficult to get comfortable with his mother again, given the time they’d been apart. He’d worried it would be awkward, but it didn’t take more than his complaining for that thought to crumble. ”Did you sell the truck? Our legs barely fit in this thing.”
She went off on him, and they went back and forth in playful banter to which she left Holland out of - not because she thought it would hurt his feelings but it just seemed rude to speak to him while he couldn’t see. She didn’t need Read’s guidelines to figure out how to conduct herself while his friend was around. When they got home and she offered to take Read’s things inside he waved her off, and refused to allow it. Grace had conceded, but only because it would make showing Holland the house much more easily.
One thing Read had forgotten since he moved, was how warm it still was in Arizona during the winter. He loved it, though the contrast of cold to warm was still shocking to his senses. He wondered, secretly if Holland felt the same. Thankfully his mother was kind on the AC. The home that she lived in now, though he hadn’t done all his growing up here, brought back memories as they stepped inside. It was a modest one story, with the guest bedrooms on the right side, and the master on the other. It made the tour fairly easy though. Read smiled once they’d entered, because despite there being no snow outside to indicate the season his mother had still decorated for Christmas knowing Read was coming home for it.
There was a tree placed in the corner of the living room, which was just to the right of the entryway. The tree itself was already lit when they entered, and Read gaped at her for going so far as to decorate for him too. He complained some more, arguing that she hadn’t needed to, until she turned and pinched his nose playfully and chided him to stop. He tried not to look embarrassed with Holland right there, but was glad when she showed them the guest bedroom where Holland would be staying just so that he could wave her off and shut the door so they could have another moment alone.
”Don’t laugh at me..she likes to embarrass me in front of my friends.” Read let his suitcase go, leaving it by the door. He stepped closer to Holland, and before he could say anything more he wrapped his arms around him and pulled him into an embrace. He knew it was sudden and out of nowhere, but he needed it - any little bit that he could get. He lingered with his face pressed to Holland’s chest for a moment, but slowly forced himself to pull away so he could finally talk. ”I don’t know how I’m going to tell her about us, but I really think I should.” He had thought that he might be able to get through this without saying a word, naive he had been, but how that he was here lying about one more thing just felt so terribly wrong.
He wished Holland could give him advice, or pointers, but he’d never been in this kind of situation before and Read knew that Holland probably didn’t really care whether his mom knew or not. ”I just don’t know...when or how or...when.” Read groaned sullenly to himself. Why was this so hard?
Honestly Holland was grateful that he wasn’t really...spoken to much on the ride home, and maybe that made him awful? He didn’t really know, but he needed to get his bearings, even if that was a bit difficult when his legs were in such n awkward position. He was much too tall for Grace’s car, and had to sit almost sideways so that his legs could stretch out and not have his knees shoved into the back of Read’s seat. It wasn’t something he minded so much, he’d been in more cramped places before but usually it was while he was shifted, and getting cozy in tiny places was somehow easier as a dog. Perhaps that was because he could just curl up? Shifting was out of the question though, so he positioned himself as comfortably as possible.
He didn’t even attempt to eavesdrop on Read and Grace’s banter, it was too fast paced for him to keep up with and he couldn’t really see either of their faces all that well in the rearview mirror, so instead he simply stared out the window. Arizona certainly wasn’t...the most beautiful place he had been, but he was biased to the forests that surrounded Mythril. He also wasn’t a fan of the heat here, because trust he felt it. His body temperature was already high, the last thing he needed was to be in the desert. Even so, he didn’t complain, and he’d at least somewhat prepared by wearing a shorter sleeved shirt.
Holland knew about Christmas trees, and he knew about decorations, he had seen them plenty of times even if he had never put them up himself. He wasn’t sure if Grace’s counted as impressive or what, but Read seemed enthusiastic about them, so Holland could only assume it meant they were good, or sentimental, or something. It meant they were something and he was glad he wasn’t asked his opinion on them. Pretty, he supposed they were, and he supposed that would have been a safe answer if he had been asked. Still, he was glad no one asked him and simply followed Grace about as she showed him around, and once he and Read were in the guest bedroom he tossed his backpack onto the bed before glancing towards the blonde who was already making his way towards him.
It was easier to accept affection from him, but that was probably true for all people and their partners, and as he huffed about not being mocked Holland snorted, letting his arms curl around the shorter man as he stepped closer. He wasn’t sure if Grace was attempting to embarrass him, or if that was just how she was, but...Holland didn’t mind it and truthfully he tuned out most of the things shared between them. If they weren’t speaking to him it didn’t really seem like his business. He gave the blonde’s back a pat just before he pulled away, and his next words had the brunette frowning some. He really didn’t get why it was a big deal why Grace knew about them, but the idea of it seemed to have Read all sorts of anxious and so he decided to push aside his confusion about the issue as he moved to sit himself down on the edge of the bed he’d be using for the next week.
’Are you worried she’ll be mad?’ That seemed like a good place to start. Soothing words weren’t necessarily his speciality, but if Read was worried she’d be angry…’If she’ll be mad she doesn’t need to know. It’s not a big deal.’ Besides there was always the chance Read would come to his senses and ditch him, a possibility that seemed less and less likely as the months ticked away. Read was right though in thinking that he had no real advice for this sort of situation.
It always made him feel good when Holland gave him affections in return. He didn’t even need to do much, and just the arm he got across his back and the pat he’d received after helped Read more than Holland might know. He soaked in Holland’s warmth, and the smell of him when he’d pressed his features to his chest and shoulder before he’d pulled away. It made him feel better knowing Holland was here with him, and despite how anxious he was sure they would have a good time he just...couldn’t help how he felt at the moment. Keeping secrets from his mother about the supernatural was one thing, but Holland was a big part of his life now.
Maybe he could have let it slide if Holland had decided to leave him, but Read had little plans to end it and if Holland didn’t either than he couldn’t hide this from her forever. It would have been easier, in that case, if he had left Holland back in Mythril and come to visit his mother alone, but he didn’t want to travel by himself. Holland deserved happy memories, and the thought of his boyfriend spending Christmas alone was far more out of the question than it had ever been to take him along.
When Holland sat down Read watched him a moment as he sighed, then went to sit down on the bed next to him. He shrugged, frowning at the thought that his mother would be mad. The blonde shook his head, and let his shoulders relax as he spoke. ”No..I guess she wouldn’t really be mad.” His mother was understanding, and he’d never gotten the vibe from her that she disliked couples of the same sex. He realized then that if that were true what did he really have to worry about? ”I guess..I’m afraid she’ll be disappointed.”
That would have been far worse honestly. At least if she got mad her reasoning would have been irrational, but if she was disappointed it would honestly make Read feel worse. The reasons behind that emotion could very too. Even Read could think of a couple. She’d teased him sometimes about the grandchildren she’d have, the lessons she’d have to teach him so he could be a good husband or know how to raise his kids right. Sure, it was usually just teasing and it was never implied that she was pressuring him to think he needed to get married or have kids - certainly not this young - but still. Those were normal things that mostly everyone wanted. If he were being honest, before Holland he had wanted kids.
But god that was just so complicated to think about now! And if he kept going on that train of thought he’d spiral into a terrible mood.
He had spaced out, and only realized it right then. Read sighed, brought a hand to his hair and fussed with loose strands that had come free from his hair tie. ”Maybe you’re right. Maybe it’s not a big deal.” The voice inside his head told him the very opposite, but Read forced a small grin for Holland’s sake. ”We’re here to have fun. I’ll try not to ruin it.” He teased lightheartedly, and leaned in to give Holland a kiss in reassurance. ”And, when we go back home after all this I do have something special for you waiting.”
Holland would have understood Read’s anxiety if he was worried that his mom would be angry with him over their relationship. He’d never really experienced homophobia to the degree that many people did, but that was perhaps more because he had a string of casual hookups and not actual relationships where people could see the “sin.” Perhaps someone had said something once or twice while he was at a bar or something, but if they had he had ignored them. It was an...easy thing to do when listening took so much effort out of him. He was also hardened to unkind words. Such things often rolled off his back, but he could at least somewhat understand if Read’s fear stemmed from the worry that his mom would have some unkind words for him.
That didn’t seem to be the root of his concern though, and when the blonde mentioned his worry was of disappointing her Holland’s brows pinched together. He thought to ask why she would disappointed rather than angry. The idea that she would want grandchildren, and perhaps Read wanted children, was lost on him. Such things never really occurred to him. The brunette didn’t dislike children, but he had never had much of a desire to be a parent. There was far too much baggage that he was carrying around to even consider it, and while Mason was...he wasn’t stupid. Again, Holland wasn’t a dumbass, Mason was his. He didn’t need some test to tell him that, but if Mason wasn’t like him, if Mason wasn’t a monster, there was no reason for him to get involved in his life. Not really. It would only serve to uproot what little stability he did have. Recently he’d made sure to contact Eva and figure out where the fuck she was. He couldn’t be actively involved in Mason’s life but if she needed...anything he would give it to her. It was only fair.
Still, Mason wasn’t Read’s child, and he couldn’t fill whatever...hole that would grow in his heart, nor his mom’s, and Holland supposed he could understand that to some degree. It wasn’t a desire he had himself but he could sympathize to some extent. He said nothing though, unable to really think of any sort of comforting words to give his partner. God he was the worst. The absolute worst. Read was always so quick to try and soothe him and here Holland was just struggling to even find the simplest thing to make him feel better. It seemed that Read was quick enough to at least attempt to cheer himself up though, but Holland couldn’t help but frown at the false cheer. He didn’t pull away as the blonde leaned into kiss him, but he kept it chaste before turning his gaze to the other man’s lips again, snorting at the assurance that something was waiting for him at home. He had ideas as to what it could be, but he didn’t press.
’Honestly I don’t know shit about…’ He paused, hands freezing for a brief moment as his brows knitted together again. ’...coming out.’ That didn’t seem right, and the frown etched in his lips showed he wasn’t entirely happy with the statement, but he didn’t correct it. ’Never had to do it.’ Which was true. Things had happened with men before, but that wasn’t some sort of loving relationship, they were just things that had been demanded of him, and he had obeyed. ’But…’ Again he paused, a low “uuugh” sound reverberating through his chest as he tried to piece his words together. ’Your mom loves you. Disappointment goes away. I’m sure she’s just happy that you’re alive and here.’ He was vaguely aware that Read had told his mother about some of the things that had happened to him, and him being gay or bisexual or whatever would most likely be the least of her concerns. At least...he figured as much? Maybe he was wrong? This was all confusing, and without anymore reassurances to give the brunette reached out to ruffle Read’s hair. Honestly it was always more satisfying after he had fussed with it. If all of this was a big deal to Read, then it was probably actually important. That being said, worrying over it too much wouldn’t do him any good. He’d just work himself up into a tizzy and Holland wasn’t sure how he’d go about comforting him if they were in a “no pda” zone for the next week.
Holland was sweet to try and reassure him, but he wasn’t always so good at it with Read. He knew that he couldn’t ask the man for advice. Read knew he hadn’t been through these sorts of things, but it was natural for him to want to lean on someone for advice when he didn’t have clear insight himself. That said, though he could feel that Holland was trying to help, the idea that her disappointment would linger at all -even for a short time- made Read’s heart flutter nervously. Terrible. He knew he was being terrible. Read didn’t want to show that it bothered him so much, so as Holland ended his advice there he nodded and accepted it regardless.
The ruffling of his hair at least made it easier for him to move on from there though. He smirked at the other man, nudged him playfully and gave him one of his usual looks of half hearted discontent. Read raised his hands to fix his hair right then, as her heard in that moment a knock on the door. His mother didn’t always knock when she was just dealing with Read, but she was much more polite with guests around. Read wasn’t a teenager anymore but young men still needed their space. She got it. Still, it flustered Read when she opened the door regardless of the warning.
”Eggnog and schnapps?” Read scoffed at her, surprised by the question but glad that it was something to easily distract him from his embarrassment. ”It’s not even dinner time yet.” Not that that had ever stopped Read before, but it made him concerned his mother had been drinking on her own this early by herself. Read had a way of babying her, like she was fragile and needed to be looked out for at all times. Really it was the other way around. ”So what? Don’t spoil a good time Read. Or I’ll steal your friend from you and we can have all the fun for you.”
The irony he felt for her statement made him pout. He was the usually the partyer, the center of attention. The thought of his mother being more fun than him was completely untrue, and he’d defend his title if that were the case. Though in honestly, this was a tactic Read’s mother used on him to get the blonde to have fun with her, relax. Nothing a little reverse psychology couldn’t fix. ”Maybe just a little, but we’ve gotta finish decorating the tree. I wanted Holland to help.” Read smiled, glanced at his boyfriend and smirked.
Read stood first, gestured for Holland to follow. His mother turned on her heel, singing her approval as she walked back down the hall. ”Do you want to help make dinner with her?” Read signed, and though he was asking he was more or less hoping that Holland would say yes. In that respect, he was pleading without actually doing so. He just wanted Holland to experience as many family esque things as he could while they were here. ”She’ll try to get you drunk so you can spill dirty details, but jokes on her.” Read scoffed, because Holland was actually fairly good with his liqueur. At this very moment, Read was proud of that.
When they made it back out of the hall and into the conjoined living room and kitchen area Read noticed the box sitting on a coffee table in front of their couch that hadn’t been there before. ”You work fast mom.”
”Only for my favorite son~”
He snickered at her and nudged Holland towards the living room so they could start decorating. ”Pick out whatever you want and just place it somewhere with room.” He wished he could explain more without making Holland seem strange for not knowing about these things, but he hoped that by watching him place a couple ornaments he’d get it. In the meantime, he let his mother hum about the kitchen as she began making them drinks and snacks before she started on dinner.
Holland was well aware that his attempt at reassurance had fallen short, but he was trying, emphasis on trying because that was really all he could do. He didn’t know the ins and outs of these sorts of things. All he knew was that Read’s mother was important to him and he didn’t want her to be disappointed and to some extent Holland could understand that. Disappointment often times had a worse sting than anger, but surely Grace wouldn’t be disappointed in Read as long as he was safe and happy? Perhaps he was being a bit too hopeful? He didn’t really know.
Still, he was happy that he was able to at least somewhat distract Read from his thoughts, and as the blonde lifted his hand to try and pat down his hair Holland snorted, only glancing towards the door once it opened. Admittedly he too was a bit surprised by Grace’s offer, and a bit amused. He didn’t really know when “appropriate” times to drink were, but it was obvious Read seemed to think after dinner was the best time to do it. Holland didn’t drink much anymore, at least, he never got beyond a little buzzed. It took too much effort for him to get drunk, and considering the years of binge drinking he’d done it only added to his tolerance. So, he wasn’t all that worried about getting annihilated and making an ass out of himself. At least he couldn’t really say anything embarrassing.
Dark hues turned to Read as he spoke, asking if he wanted to help make dinner...and admittedly the question got a snicker out of him. ’Not so good in a kitchen.’ If his help was wanted he could manage, but doing anything beyond holding things or cleaning was out of his element. More often than not Holland hung back in the kitchen whenever Read cooked back home, and while he didn’t really help with meal prep he helped with whatever was asked of him, if asked. He chuckled ever so slightly, Grace would end up wasting all her booze if she intended to get him drunk, and it wasn’t like he’d be a very good informant. Talking was hard enough while sober, talking while drunk? Ha, fuck that. Even signing was hard if he was drunk enough. ’Doubt she has enough booze to get me drunk.’ Sure if he pounded back a bunch of schnapps back to back he might get drunk but...then all the schnapps would be gone.
He stood as Read did, taking his nudge as a silent command to follow, and he did just that as they made their way back to the living room. He spotted the box on the coffee table, but didn’t bother to ask what it was for, and luckily Read was on the ball with it. The explanation was quick enough, just….hang things where there was room. Surely there was more to it than that, but asking seemed stupid, and so he followed the other man’s lead to pluck an ornament from the box. Holland paused once the ornament was out of the box and hanging by its string between his fingers. It didn’t look like a lot of the little ball ornaments he had seen, it looked like something a child had made. A...very young child that probably had a poor grasp on colors, now that he looked at it a bit closer. He watched it spin about before turning his gaze to Read, ”...fuck i-is thes?” He asked, using his words because he couldn’t really sign while also holding the little trinket out for his partner to see.
Read didn’t know how to ask things of Holland without sounding pushy. If he were a friend he would have cared less about Holland’s dismissal and told him that he was going to help no matter what, however, Read was still in a faze of wanting to impress Holland enough that they’d stay together. It was ridiculous no doubt, given all that they’d been together and how abnormal their relationship was. He should be over it by now, and not worry that Holland was going to get bored like every other relationship Read had had. Old habits die hard, and Read’s insecurities on the matter still hung around sometimes, even with Holland.
Read noted the man’s words, and when dinner came up next time he’d try to encourage him a little more. At least decorating a tree was a simple task. Read could remember when he hated doing this because it was boring and took too long, but with Holland he was actually content with it. He was grinning to himself, after stealing glances at Holland, until he heard the man speak. My god he loved just hearing the sound of his voice, but when he looked over at the man to see what he had in his hand his heart was pattering nervously before he could enjoy it.
”Was that a swear word I just heard?”
Read interjected quickly, went to Holland so he could try and take the ornament from his hands and/or hide it so his mother couldn’t see. If she did, she’d remember she had photo albums to pull out and start showing them to Holland. It was too early for that! ”He speaks~” Read’s mother was beaming, but teasing all the while and Read was trying to ignore it while he tried being as inconspicuous as possible.
”It’s a decoration.” He grumbled, and sighed as much as he could while he kept his back to the kitchen so his mother wouldn’t see what he was doing. ”Don’t laugh. I was little.” Speaking of which, he remembered right then that there were a number of other decorations in this box that he’d made as well, some of which also had his pictures in them. Crap. Read sifted through the box, carefully so that nothing broke, but with a sense of urgency just so he could take out the ornaments with his pictures in them so Holland couldn’t see.
He was going to die of embarrassment.
Holland had really only ever seen those little...ball ornaments? They were mostly on trees that were inside of store fronts or on “display” trees. Needless to say he was kind of stumped by the weird little ornament in his hand. It wasn’t one of the spherical ones, but looked handmade. Was that a thing that all kids did? Surely Read hadn’t made it recently, and he found himself frowning inquisitively at the little trinket, only for his gaze to snap to the blonde as he hurried over. He didn’t hear Grace’s chiding from the kitchen, but he saw Read’s response to it and he could only furrow his brow. He let Read take the ornament from him, passing it over easily enough. It was something the other man didn’t want him to see which admittedly made him want to see it some more, and when Read shuffled to sort through the box -- obviously trying to find more of them -- Holland shifted to look over his shoulder.
A decoration, Read had said it was a decoration and that much he could piece together on his own. It had a string like the other ornaments and was obviously meant to be hung. His embarrassment over it was something that intrigued the brunette. Arts and crafts were never really something he’d done as a child, why Read wanted to hide the things he had made from him Holland wasn’t sure. There were a lot of things he wasn’t fucking sure about apparently, and part of him thought that maybe he should just let Read hide what he wanted to hide and...the other half...well he was curious.
He didn’t let Read rummage through the box for long, instead he shifted to pluck the box off the coffee table. He was careful not to jostle it too much, considering some of the ornaments looked a bit more fragile than others. He turned away from the other man, stepping away to make it harder for him to snatch the box back from him if he were to try. One hand held the box, while the other moved to pick through it, and it didn’t take him long to find another “handmade” ornament. Again it was definitely made by a kid, though in the shape of a wreath of sorts, and in the middle there was a picture. It looked a sloppily cut out school photo. ”You?” It was then that he turned back towards Read, holding the ornament out to him to look at it.
Holland hadn’t even though to mock the other man for the silly trinkets. As far as he was concerned they were normal things that all families had, at least if he was basing what “normal” families were off Read and his mother. He was curious though, even if he had no real reason to be.
He tried to nudge Holland so he’d stop trying to look over his shoulder while he rummaged, but any more than that and he knew that his mother might notice what he was doing too. Read could hear her in the kitchen, glasses clinking, and felt that it was safe so long as she was distracted getting them something to drink. However, Hollands certainly hadn’t given him much time to look through the box before he was plucking it right off the coffee table.
”Hey.” Read whispered, despite it doing no good for his case. He turned to try and peek around Holland, reach for the box, but he was a tad bit taller and his frame was sturdy. Read loved him for those things, and though it was quite attractive on a normal day he was finding it very unfair and annoying right now. ”Holland.” Read still tried complaining quietly as possible, as he tried reaching for the box but stopped when the man held up an ornament with a picture he was quite familiar with in the center of it.
Was it him? Read gave him an apprehensive look, ”Well..” Yes it was him, but he didn’t want to give Holland cause to keep digging. To his dismay, the hold up on the decorating had gotten his mother's attention and as she came over with their glasses in hand she noticed what Holland was holding. She beamed as she walked around the table and set the cups down. ”Wasn’t he just adorable?” Read had lost. He sighed and placed his hands to his face, waiting to hear- ”Would you like to see more pictures Holland?”
”Hush Read. I don’t get this chance much anymore since you live so far away.” Of course she had to say just the thing that would make him feel bad too, and he groaned as he lowered his hands from his face to give her a look. He didn’t respond to her words though, and sighed as he tapped on Holland’s shoulder so he could take the box back.
”Which year would you like to see my Read in, hm?” Read could tell she was trying to speak much slower now, but for his own sake he secretly hoped Holland still wouldn’t be able to understand her. He was terrible, and aware of it.
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