Final chapter, Enjoy. Next week will either be OMAM, or our new story Angel Hunter.
it was time for Arlo to go back to work and he couldn’t say he was happy about it. Since he was now spending most of his day at the hospital, and not at home, Mama returned to her own house. He couldn’t say he was glad to see her go. Mama had made him feel warm and loved, in a different way than Jake did. Jake loved him like a boyfriend. Mama loved him like family. It was something Arlo hadn’t felt in a long time. The staff welcomed him back with open arms, and no one ask any questions. Arlo felt like his life was finally being pulled back together, there was only one thing left that he felt guilty about.
He had been so proud of his AA chips. He had never really liked the AA meetings, and had only gone to a few. The meetings, the sponsors, the threat of losing his job and his education, none of it really broke through. What really got through to him, were the chips. They were something hard and physical. Something he could hold on to. But now that he had relapsed, he felt like he didn’t deserve them.
“What are you doin’?” Jake asked, as he walked into the house. Arlo sat on the couch, looking at his box of chips. The many colors were still clean and bright, like the day he had gotten them.
“Nothing, just moping,” Arlo mumbled.
“Over what?” Jake sat down on the couch with him, still in uniform. He leaned over and looked inside the old wooden box that Arlo had kept his chips in. “Poker chips?” Jake picked on up and bit it, frowning at the piece of plastic.
“Hey!” Arlo scowled and took the chip back. “They’re my sobriety chips,” he sighed.
“Ah, I see. That’s a lot of chips,” he said.
“You get one on your first day, your three week, and then three, six, and nine months,” Arlo explained, “Your one year is the big one, and then after that it’s every year,” Arlo said. Jake did a quick count of the chips.
“You were doing good,” he said.
“Yeah,” Arlo murmured. The truth was he hated being sober. Almost any alcoholic did. At least for a little while. He was miserable. He had to face reality and think about his problems, not just drink them away. He knew he would get over it. Jake had been sure to keep all alcohol from his reach and Arlo quickly fell back into his normal, non-alcoholic routine.
“It wasn’t a bad relapse you know,” Jake said.
“Like there’s a good kind?” Arlo frowned.
“Well, no. I just mean, you knew you were being stupid and it just took a kick to the head to get you to snap out of it,” Jake said. “You shouldn’t beat yourself up over it. You’ve been doing good,” Jake said.
“I just feel like I don’t deserve them. I messed up,” Arlo said.
“Everyone messes up, Doc. I’m not going to lie and say that it wasn’t your fault, because it was-”
“Gee, thanks,” Arlo rolled his eyes and shut the box.
“BUT,” Jake continued, “I will say that you’ve made an honest effort to not slip up again. I know you think about it. But all you’ve done is think about it,” Jake repeated. When Arlo was still silent he added, “would it make you feel better to go to an AA meeting again? I’m sure there’s a group in town,” Jake said.
“No. They never really made me want to get sober anyways. All those religious Nazis do is make me want to drink more,” Arlo laughed.
“You know, they have non-religion based AA groups,” Jake chuckled.
“They always get in. They’re everywhere!” Arlo said, in an ominous voice. Jake rolled his eyes. When Arlo went back to being quiet and thoughtful, Jake stood up. “Where are you going?” Arlo asked.
“Just hold on,” Jake said over his shoulder. He dug around in a drawer for a minute, before pulling something out and keeping it hidden from Arlo. Arlo tried to peek, but Jake made sure to keep it close against his chest, covered by his hand. He rummaged through a few more drawers before sighing, obviously not finding what he needed.
“What--?” Arlo asked.
“I said hold your horses, cowboy,” Jake said, his southern accent really coming out. Arlo smiled and watched as he headed towards the fridge. He pulled something out from the door, and then reached for a tooth pick. He worked over the counter for a minute, before blowing on whatever he had been working on for a minute or two. When he came back, Arlo raised his eyebrow at a poker chip covered in mustard.
“What the hell is this?” he asked, taking it from Jake.
“It’s your relapse chip,” Jake explained. Arlo noticed that he had copied the symbol that was engraved on his sobriety chips in gold. Of course this chip had it done in mustard. “I’ll take these,” Jake grabbed the box from Arlo’s lap. Arlo pouted and reached for them, but Jake pulled them away. “You can have them back as you reach the milestones. Okay? And when you have them all back, you can throw away the relapse chip,” Jake said. Arlo looked down at the mustard covered poker chip.
“Okay,” Arlo nodded. Jake dug through the box for a minute, and pulled out a white chip.
“I saw on a movie once that white was the first day chip?” he asked. Arlo nodded and took the chip. He held the two pieces of plastic next to each other, one a pearly white with gold engraved into it, and the other a sickly green with dried mustard scribbled into a clumsy symbol. Somehow, the relapse chip meant more to him than the others.
Arlo sighed as he got off work. It had been a long day. He had spent most of it treating a child who had fallen into a bed of cacti. The poor boy was covered from head to toe in spines from the plants, and it took several nurses and himself to remove them all. His feet hurt, and he couldn’t help but admit that the only thing he wanted right now was to sit in a nice dark bar with a drink in his hand. He dug the chip out of his pocket quickly, and glanced at the mustard covered item. He smiled and shoved it back into his pocket. Jake was getting off work around the same time as Arlo, and they had decided that they would treat themselves and go out to dinner together.
Jake had let Arlo pick the place, and he chose his favorite Italian restaurant. It was a bit expensive, but they agreed to split the cost so it wouldn’t hurt them too bad. Soft music played in the background, and the place was nearly empty. They ordered and their food was brought out to them quickly. Conversation was slow, but finally Arlo brought up the subject that he had been thinking about for awhile now.
“Jake, you’ve been so nice to me. There’s... there aren’t words to say how thankful I am for everything you’ve done. You’ve given me a place to stay, and helped me stay sober, and your mom just welcomed me into the family like it was nothing.” Arlo took a deep breath. “And I appreciate it, all of it. It means more to me than you could ever guess,” Arlo said. “But I think it’s time I moved out and found my own place again. Donovan can keep the house, I don’t want it anymore.” Arlo shook his head. “But I’m sure you want your own place back. It’s not exactly big enough for all of us,” Arlo said, counting the dogs Jake lived with. When he finally stopped rambling, Jake only stared at him.
“Doc...” Jake’s skin took on a bright red blush. “Do you really think that I want you to move out?”
“You mean you don’t?” Arlo asked, stopping his fork just a few inches from his mouth.
“No, I want you to stay with me,” Jake said. “I know I said I didn’t think you were ready to be in a relationship, but I also said that that didn’t mean I didn’t want one with you.” Jake reached a hand across the table and placed it on Arlo’s. “I love having you in my house. Before, that’s all it was. A house. With you there, it feels like so much more. It’s a home with you there, Arlo. I understand if you want to leave, I just want you to know that I want you there because...” Jake’s skin turned an ever brighter red. “I love you, Arlo,” he admitted. Arlo nearly swooned at his thick country drawal. He smiled, and opened his mouth, but no words came out. “You don’t have to say it back, not yet. You still have a long ways to go before I think you’re better,” he said. “But you're well on your way, Doc.” Arlo giggled. “What?” Jake frowned.
“You said my name,” Arlo smiled.
“Whad’re ya talkin’ about, Doc?” Jake asked.
“You called me Arlo. You never call me Arlo,” he smiled. Without warning, he leaned over the table and kissed Jake passionately. When Arlo pulled away, Jake whistled.
“If that’s what I get everytime I call you Arlo, you can expect it more often,” Jake winked.
“Sounds good to me.” Arlo smiled.
Arlo was smiling to himself all day at work. The dinner last night had been followed by lots and lots of snuggling. Arlo was pretty sure that was his favorite thing about Jake, he loved to cuddle even more than Arlo did. Since that night when Arlo had slept with him on the floor, he hadn’t slept alone. Jake always made sure he invited Arlo to sleep with him, so he wouldn’t ever feel awkward about having to ask.
“Arlo, we have a car accident coming in,” Ronda said, as she listened to the radio that the medics always called in on.
“I’ll get room 1 prepped,” Arlo stated, and got to work. He was getting a small group of people ready to treat the incoming patients when his cell phone chirped. He usually didn’t carry it with him, but because of the recent Donovan situation, he decided it was for the best. He picked it up and, expecting to see a text, realized it was actually ringing. He answered it.
“Hello?” He frowned, realizing he forgot to check the number.
“Doc? Look, don’t treat the patient coming in right now,” Jake said.
“The car crash guy? Why not?” Arlo frowned.
“Here!” Ronda called out. Arlo turned and shoved the phone in his pocket, saying a quick goodbye to Jake. He jogged to meet the paramedics at the door, as they wheeled in the unlucky guy. Arlo began working on him quickly. He attempted to talk to him, but soon realized he wasn’t responding.
“Who is this guy? Do we have any records on him?” Arlo asked the nurses around him. Someone tugged the wallet out of his pants, and read through the information quickly.
“Donovan Cohen, I’ll go check,” she said, and ran off. Arlo stared down at the bloodied man. Through the matted hair, wounded face, and bloody clothing, he knew it was true. This man was Donovan.
“Doc?” Jake called out, as he ran into the hospital. “Doc!” he called out again. The young doctor was sitting in the hallway on a bench, with his head between his legs.
“Jake?” Arlo looked up and when he saw it was who he thought it was, he stood up and fell into Jake’s arms.
“I’m sorry, Doc. I tried to warn you I just- I’m sorry. Are you okay?” Jake asked, pulling Arlo away so he could look at him.
“Yeah... I didn’t know it was him until one of the nurses....” Arlo trailed off and looked lost. Jake pulled him back into a hug. He wasn’t crying, but he was obviously stressed by the whole situation.
“What happened?” Jake asked.
“I was going to work on him, cuz I didn’t know what you were talking about on the phone.” Arlo sat down on the bench, and Jake followed. “We were just getting started when I found out. When I heard his name I had a panic attack. I’ve never freaked out around a patient before,” Arlo whined. “They pulled me from him and sat me here. It’s kind of a rule that you don’t work on people you know,” Arlo said.
“I know. Here,” Jake said, and handed Arlo a bottle of semi cold water. He accepted it thankfully and took a long sip, before screwing the cap back on. “Are you sure you’re alright? You’re really pale,” Jake said, and felt his head for a temperature.
“Yeah. I’m okay,” Arlo said, and took a deep breath. He stood up and Jake saw he was visibly shaking.
“No you’re not, come on. You’re taking the day off,” Jake said.
“Jake, I’ll be fine. Really,” Arlo said. “I don’t want to just sit at home. I want to keep busy... and be near him,” Arlo admitted. Jake paused.
“Do you still have feelings for him, Doc? After all he’s done to you?” Jake was beginning to get angry.
“It’s not like that. I mean, I’ll always have feelings for him, but not in that way. We were together for a long time and even if he was a jerk, you can’t do anything to get rid of all that time,” Arlo tried to explain. Jake sighed.
“I don’t understand,” he admitted.
“I know. But I’m not asking you to understand, I’m asking you to deal with it. Okay? For me?” Arlo asked. Jake nodded.
“Okay. Do you need me to stay here with you?” Jake asked.
“No, I’m already feeling better. I think I was just in shock,” Arlo said.
“Okay... I’ll see you at home. Call me if you need anything,” Jake said. Arlo nodded. He turned and left, leaving Arlo in the hallway alone.
Arlo spent the rest of his day milling about, trying to keep busy. He did little tasks and worked in the clinic for most of the day, dealing with colds and broken bones. But every time he had a free moment, he went and checked on Donovan. The man was obviously hurt badly, and they had struggled to keep him stable, but now that they had Arlo was beginning to calm down. He looked so much smaller and weaker in the hospital bed than when he had towered over Arlo with his fists raised. Arlo didn’t know what he felt for Donovan anymore, but it wasn’t love. He was beginning to think that it was never love. If it was, it was never returned.
Arlo dreamed of Donovan. Sometimes they were good dreams. Other times they were bad. He woke up three times in the night, and each time Jake had been there to comfort him. After the third time, Arlo got up and went to sit at the bar in the kitchen. Jake followed him quickly and sat with him.
“Want a drink?” Jake asked. Arlo looked at him like he was crazy, and Jake held up the little container he had grabbed before sitting down. “Hot chocolate. Mama used to make it for me when I had nightmares. That and...” he stretched and reached into the light fixture above the table, pulling out a package of Oreos.
“Why are you stashing Oreos?” Arlo rolled his eyes.
“Because, if you have them all the time, it ruins the magic.” Jake smiled and set the bag down on the counter. He made them a cup of hot chocolate and sat down with Arlo. He took one, twisted it in half, and then let both halves float in the large coffee cup.
“You’re such a weirdo.” Arlo laughed, and just bit his cookie.
“What are you doing? You can’t eat an Oreo like that! You’re mad. I’m going to have to leave you for this. Get out of my house,” Jake said, shaking his head sadly.
“It’s just a cookie,” Arlo laughed. Jake scoffed.
“It is not just a cookie! These,” he held up the bag, “are Oreos. Milk’s FAVORITE cookie. On top of their fluffy, creamy insides, they have the chocolate on the outside. Which means they go perfect with hot chocolate.” Jake dipped a full cookie inside his hot chocolate and let it sit there for a moment, letting it get mushy.
“Then what’s with that?” Arlo pointed at the gooey mess that had become of the cookie Jake had tossed in the hot chocolate.
“Simple,” Jake finished a third cookie, and then drank the majority of his hot chocolate in a very precise manner, so that at the end he had a tiny bit of hot chocolate, with swirls of chocolate powder and warm cookie to drink.
“You make things way too complicated.” Arlo laughed and downed his hot chocolate, before eating another cookie.
“An abomination is what you are!” Jake pretended to tear up and run away, arms flailing. Arlo laughed and followed him, leaving the cups and cookies behind. He found Jake in bed, pretend crying.
“I’m sorry, Jake,” Arlo said, with fake sincerity. “I promise next time I’ll eat Oreos your way.” He smiled. Jake looked up, forcing his lip to quiver.
“Promise?” he asked, like a small child.
“Promise.” Arlo burst into laughter. Jake smiled and pulled Arlo into a big hug
“Feeling better?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Arlo smiled, not letting go of Jake. “Thank you.”
“No problem,” Jake shrugged, and smiled down at Arlo with care.
Donovan woke up the next day. Arlo was already at the hospital, working, and so he only had to walk down the hall to see him. All he had to do was walk, but that wasn’t what he did. His shoes squeaked on the floor as he slid around a corner and took off again to reach Donovan’s room. As soon as he arrived at the doorway, he stopped. His heart pounded in his chest and he was out of breath. But that wasn’t what made him freeze in place, it was Donovan’s eyes that met with his. Arlo hadn’t seen him since the day he put him in the hospital.
“Hi,” Donovan said.
“Hi.” Arlo couldn’t help it when his voice cracked. He didn’t know if it was from relief, fear, freedom, or any of the other 300 emotions he was feeling. “Are you okay?” he asked, without even thinking about what he was saying.
“Yeah. I guess I am,” Donovan said.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Arlo mumbled.
“Maybe it is,” Donovan replied, voice filled with sorrow.
“Don’t say things like that, Donovan,” Arlo said. Donovan stared at him for a long moment.
“I’m sorry, Arlo. It’s just... since you left... I don’t know.” Donovan shook his head.
“Since I left? Like you gave me a choice?” Arlo felt his anger flare.
“I didn’t make you leave,” Donovan frowned.
“You didn’t? Really?” Arlo crossed his arms, and Donovan sighed.
“You’re right. I did,” Donovan nodded. “I’ve missed you.” Arlo remained silent. “Did you miss me?” Donovan asked.
“Honestly?” Arlo asked, Donovan nodded. “No, I didn’t. It’s been nice being able to get a full nights sleep and not waking up sore, or with bruises everywhere,” Arlo said seriously.
“Look, I said I’m sorry, okay?” Donovan asked.
“No you didn’t. You’ve never said you’re sorry, and meant it.” Arlo added the last part to be clear.
“Well I mean it this time. I’m sorry I hurt you, Arlo. Forgive me?” Donovan asked. Arlo stared at him for a long time before nodding.
“Yeah, I forgive you.” Donovan beamed. His eyes lit up and his smile was wider than Arlo had ever seen it.
“Thank you so much, Arlo! You won't regret this, I’ve changed I promise! I’ll get sober again, I’ll go to AA meetings! Everything! We can get a new house, leave all those bad vibes behind. We can-”
“Donovan,” Arlo interrupted him. “I said I forgave you, not that I would go back to you,” Arlo clarified. Donovan frowned.
“No, Donovan. I have to do what’s best for me now. I can’t let you ruin my life anymore,” Arlo said. When he had come in, he had told himself that he wouldn’t cry, but that obviously wasn’t happening. He felt hot tears stream down his face as he continued. “I’m happy, Donovan. I’m happy, and I’m in love, for the first time in a long time.” Donovan stared at him blankly. “I’m sorry. I really am. But I can’t hurt myself again by going back to you.”
“Just give me one more chance, Arlo, please,” Donovan begged.
“I’ve given you too many chances already. You blew it, Donovan. I’m sorry.” Arlo turned and walked out of the room. He only made it around the corner before he began sobbing. He held onto the wall for support, and cried. When he felt large hands wrap around his shoulders and slowly massage them, he looked up. Jake stood behind him, his gentle face smiling softly.
“Jake? What are you doing here?” Arlo asked.
“I told the nurses to call me when he woke up, I wanted to be here for you,” Jake said.
“How long have you ‘been here for me’?” Arlo asked.
“I may have eavesdropped a little...”Jake admitted. Arlo scowled.
“That was a private conversation,” Arlo said.
“I know, but I worry. I’m sorry,” Jake apologized, and hugged Arlo.
“It’s okay,” Arlo said. “Can we go? I really just want to be with you right now,” Arlo said, hugging Jake possessively.
“Yeah, I can get the rest of the day off. How about we make a thing of it and go to the movies or something? Maybe go hang out at the park?” Jake asked, as they left the hospital. It was still pretty early in the morning, and they had time. Lots of time.
Arlo smiled quietly to himself as they walked home. He loved to walk. It was just enough exercise to take things off his mind, but also allow him to think. Walking with Jake was even better. He was silent, but made it obvious he was there. The cool night air played through Arlo’s hair, making the hair on his arms stand on end. It was cold out, but he liked it. He never was one for the heat. Jake had taken off his jacket and was enjoying the crisp air as well.
“Jake?” Arlo finally picked up the conversation they had dropped.
“Yeah?” Jake wrapped his fingers around Arlo’s, in a tight hold.
“I want to have sex,” Arlo said, looking up at his boyfriend. The word felt foreign, even in his mind. Jake seemed like so much more.
“Are you sure? A lot has happened the past few days, Doc,” Jake said.
“I know. But I think I’m ready. I feel like this is the last step. I’m finally free of Donovan. It’s time to move on, and this is the last thing I need, and want, to do,” Arlo said, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to kiss Jake.
“If you’re sure about this, you know I’m all for it. But I want you to be sure,” Jake said. Arlo could tell he was obviously trying hard to be the good guy in all of this.
“I’m sure,” Arlo smiled.
“Then fuck this walking shit,” Jake smiled, and grabbed Arlo’s hand as he took off in a run. Arlo laughed as he caught up to Jake, sprinting towards home.
They hit the bed hard, and Arlo’s clothes were already half way off. Jake was trying to be slow and tender, but was failing miserably.
“Jake, I’m not made of glass,” Arlo smiled. Jake blushed. “I like it rough,” Arlo whispered. Jake let out a low growl, before diving down and biting the tender skin around Arlo’s neck and shoulders. Arlo groaned as Jake played with his nipples, tweaking and pulling the cinnamon colored peaks. He slid his hands under the waistband of Arlo’s briefs, jerking him off slowly. Arlo whimpered with pleasure as Jake pulled down the briefs, and threw them to the side.
“I want to see you, too,” Arlo said, after Jake took a moment to drink in the sight of Arlo’s hardening cock. He smiled and pulled back just far enough so that Arlo could slowly unbutton his shirt. Once his top half was stripped, Arlo took the chance to thread his fingers through the ample amount of chest hair that covered Jake’s upper torso.
“Does it bother you?” Jake asked.
“I like it.” Arlo smiled, and continued to curl his fingers around the sprinkling of hair. “But there’s more I want to see,” Arlo tugged at his belt. Jake helped him strip off the jeans he wore, and soon his cock bobbed free of the confining clothing. Arlo wrapped his thin delicate hand around Jake’s thick cock, and began stroking it lovingly. Jake returned the favor by gently stroking Arlo. They kissed and stroked each other to the brink of release, before Arlo stopped. “I want you inside me,” he whispered. Jake nodded silently, and reached for his fallen jeans, pulling out a condom and a small tube of lube. He poured a large glob onto his fingers and, without looking away from Arlo’s gaze, slowly began opening up his lover. He pushed in a few fingers and slowed down when Arlo hissed. “I’m okay. It’s just cold,” he giggled a little. Jake nibbled his bottom lip, before pushing in a third finger. He pumped the digits in and out, until he was sure Arlo was prepared. He grabbed the small package and tore it open with his teeth, and was about to roll it on when Arlo took it from his hands.
“Let me?” he asked, and took the rubber from Jake. He rolled it on gently, stroking his cock as he went, until it was on. He leaned back and raised his knees a little, until Jake grabbed them and pushed them back against his chest. He wrapped Arlo’s knees around his elbows, and lined up his cock. He freed one leg, just long enough to push the large head of his dick into Arlo’s tight hole. Arlo moaned as Jake pushed in another inch.
“Are you okay?” Jake asked.
“I’m more than okay. This is what I want, what I’ve wanted for so long,” Arlo whimpered. He leaned up and kissed Jake again, before letting him build the steady fucking motion. He let his hands snake upwards into Jake’s hair, and he held onto handfuls of the smooth hair that was normally hidden by his hat. Jake grunted as he fucked Arlo harder, making him moan each time he withdrew his cock from the tight heat that was Arlo’s ass. Soon Arlo couldn’t take it anymore. “Jake... I can’t... oh God. I’m going to cum,” he gasped, as Jake continued to pound into him.
“Cum for me, Doc,” Jake whispered, and bit down on a peaked nipple. Arlo arched his back and cried out as he came. Jake held onto him tightly, as the waves of pleasure passed through his thin, but toned body. As he watched the feeling of ecstasy on Arlo’s face, he lost control and filled the condom with his seed. Now a heap of exhausted bodies, Jake pulled out, and tied the condom off before throwing it away. He lazily crawled out of bed and walked into the bathroom, retrieving a warm wet washcloth. Jake wiped Arlo down quickly, removing all traces of his cum, and all of the sticky sweat he had been covered with during their lovemaking. After wiping himself down, he crawled back into bed and spooned his lover gently.
“I love you, Jake,” Arlo whispered.
“I love you too, Doc.”
“Ready?” Ronda asked, as Arlo straightened his tie, and looked at the beautiful white rose on his coat.
“Definitely,” he smiled in the mirror, before heading towards his destiny. The standard music played as he walked down the aisle. He hated that he was the one to walk, and that Jake had begged him into letting the classic song play. He didn’t want such a ‘straight’ wedding. But if it was what Jake wanted, Jake would get it. Mama cried in the front row, tears of joy luckily. She wiped at them as Arlo walked by and winked at her. She smiled and burst into tears again. The rows were filled with friends and family. Some of which Arlo had never even met. Doctors and nurses from the hospital filled other rows, Rhonda was his ‘best man’ and he was glad for that. Donovan sat in one of the aisles, smiling at the couple happily.
After that day in the hospital, five years ago, Arlo had agreed with Donovan that they would remain friends. No matter what Donovan had done, they couldn’t erase the time they had together, and Jake respected that. But, by no means did he like the other man. They didn’t talk much, but Arlo had insisted that he wanted Donovan at the wedding. Donovan had been eager to accept, but only if it was okay with Jake. The threat of a month without sex was enough to make it okay.
Jake waited for him up ahead. Another thing he had insisted on was having the wedding in a church. Arlo had agreed to all of these things for one reason and one reason only, the wedding was for Jake. He loved the other man dearly, but didn’t feel the need for a wedding. He had saw the hurt in Jake’s eyes when he denied his proposal at first. When he spoke about how he didn’t need a wedding to show the world they were in love, he knew that Jake didn’t want it for that reason either but for himself. So Arlo had agreed, and he realized it was very much worth it to see the absolute joy on Jake’s face. Arlo smiled as he reached the end of the aisle.
“Hi,” he said.
“Hi,” Jake smiled. “You’re gorgeous,” Jake said. The one thing Arlo had put his foot down on was not wearing a white tux. But Jake had talked him into the white rose after a week or two. The matching tuxedos they wore were perfect, and Arlo had to admit that it made him want Jake more than usual. The man did look good in a tux.
“Dearly beloved...” the priest began. Arlo couldn’t focus on the words he was saying, and it felt like Jake couldn’t either. Both of them simply stared at each other, having a silent conversation just to themselves. Neither of them could believe this was it. That they were getting married. They had known that they were committed to each other and no one else, for years now. But this seemed so final. To them and to everyone else.
“Do you, Jacob Ivory Hudson, take A-” The priest cleared his throat. “‘Doc’ to be your husband, your partner in life and your one true love? Will you cherish his friendship and love him today, tomorrow, and forever?” the priest asked.
“And yesterday, too,” Jake smiled. Arlo couldn’t help but laugh, when his southern accent came out.
‘Will you trust and honor him, laugh and cry with him? Will you be faithful through good times and bad, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live?”
“I will,” Jake said, his eyes glossing over with unshed tears.
“Do you Ar-” Jake gave him a look. “ ‘Doc’ take-”
“I will,” Arlo interrupted. Jake smiled and laughed.
“Well, my job is easy, isn’t it,” he mumbled and threw his hands up. “Do we have the rings?” he asked. A cute little girl who Arlo knew to be Jake’s niece came running up, two boxes in hand. Arlo frowned and took the one handed to him, while Jake took his. “Go on! You don’t need me for this part,” the priest said said. Jake smiled and opened his box.
“Five years ago today, you were sitting on my couch, sad and lost because you had made a mistake. Five years ago today, I made you a promise that I intend to keep.” Jake pulled out the gold five year sobriety chip from the box. “I hope you remembered to keep yours,” Jake said. He handed Arlo the chip. Arlo smiled down at the shining metal in his palm, and with a little confusion, opened his own box. In the box was the ugly, mustard stained poker chip that Jake had drawn the logo that all sobriety chips had onto. He smiled, and handed Jake the chip back, who took it willingly. “Now you have all of your pieces back,” Jake said. “And can start getting new ones,” he added.
“I intend too,” Arlo smiled, his eyes welling up.
“You may now kiss,” the priest smiled. Jake dropped the box to the floor of the church, and pulled Arlo into a rough hug. Arlo giggled and smiled as Jake hugged him, before pulling him into a passionate kiss. His heart raced as the crowd before them cheered and clapped. After a long moment, Jake finally pulled away and smiled out at everyone.
“I love you, Doc,” he said, just quiet enough so that Arlo would be the only one who could hear it.
“I love you, too, Jake. More than anything.” He couldn’t help the tears that fell from his face. Jake wiped them away, and kissed him once more, just a peck on the lips.
“Now lets party!” he cheered, and so did the crowd.
Arlo was almost dizzy from the music and the food and the cake that they fed each other. He had never been big on parties, but this was one he would remember for awhile. Of course there was no alcohol, and he felt a little bad that everyone was sober. They didn’t have to ruin the party on his account. He was about to say so to Jake when the loud sound of someone clearing their throat on the microphone cut through the crowd.
“Excuse me,” Donovan said. “Uh, hi. First of all,” he spoke when the crowd died down and everyone was looking at him. “I want to thank Ronda, for allowing me to steal her ‘best man’ speech,” he said. Arlo looked at Jake, who shrugged. Ronda waved from where she sat, a drink of water in her hands. “For those of you who don’t know me, which is almost everyone here,” he laughed nervously, “my name’s Donovan, and I’m the ex of the groom.” When he looked towards the happy couple, Arlo waved, still wondering what was going on. “One of them anyways, I’m not that kinky,” Donovan said, stirring forth a laugh from the crowd. “Arlo is my ex, and a few people who know that here have asked me, ‘well, doesn’t this make you mad? Don’t you miss him?’ and I just want to say...” he looked at Arlo. “I do miss him, every day. He’s a wonderful person and way more than I deserve. But the only thing I want is for him to be happy. And that man standing right there is what makes him happy.” He pointed at Jake who smiled, thankfully, and kissed Arlo’s temple. “I’ll always love Arlo, and he’ll probably always love me in some way. But this is what was meant to be. I’m sure I’ll find someone someday and he can be the one standing up here like an idiot being jealous,” Donovan joked, making the crowd laugh again.
“I just wanted to come up here and say that I wish the groom and... groom-two all the luck in the world. Even though I don’t think they’re going to need it, they have love on their side after all. I love you guys,” Donovan said, and shut off the mic. The crowd cheered and clapped as Donovan made his way through the crowd to hug the two men.
“Thank you, Donovan,” Jake said, as the crowd went back to the partying.
“It’s nothing man, you guys deserved every word. I owe you a hell of a lot more than some dumb speech,” Donovan laughed.
“It wasn’t dumb. It meant a lot to me, Donovan. Thank you.” Arlo pulled away from Jake just long enough to hug Donovan and give him a kiss on the cheek.
“You’re welcome,” Donovan nodded. Since he had nearly died in that car accident five years before, he had given up drinking for good. Seeing Arlo happy had finally made Donovan realize that maybe he could be too. With the help of Jake and Arlo, he recovered. He got anger management help, and had been going to every AA meeting he could find. After five years, he didn’t feel guilty every time he looked at Arlo’s face. “I’d love to hang out and chat, but you guys have a dance to do.” He pushed the couple out onto the floor, as they began swaying to the slow music together.
Not long after, everyone sat down at the tables to eat dinner. Arlo sat next to Jake, constantly touching him for comfort. He loved the feel of Jake’s hot skin under his hand. Even through the tuxedo could feel the natural heat that poured off his body. Jake dug into his pocket suddenly, and pulled out a box. He opened it, and two rings sat inside.
“I knew you would like the poker chip thing. But I always wanted wedding rings,” Jake said, and slipped one of the rings over Arlo’s finger. Arlo stared down at the glistening band and smiled.
“Thank you,” Arlo said, and kissed Jake’s lips passionately.
“That’s what husbands are for.” He smiled.
“Husband... I don’t think I’m ever going to get used to that.”
“Oh you will, I’ll make you moan it a whole bunch on the honeymoon,” Jake smiled. Arlo groaned.
“My ass is already sore,” he laughed.
“Oh, I almost forgot. There’s an engraving in it”, he said. Arlo pulled off the ring, and look on the inside of the gorgeous band. He frowned.
“Mine just says ‘Gummy’...” he said, confused. Jake showed him his. “‘Worms’... out of all the things you could have had engraved on our wedding rings, you picked Gummy Worms.” Arlo couldn’t help but burst out laughing at the stupidity of it all.
“I love you, Doc. I don’t think any words could ever describe it. But I love Gummy Worms almost as much,” Jake nodded.
“Oh shut up, you big dumb cop,” Arlo shoved him playfully.
“Okay, my sexy doctor,” Jake winked. Arlo stared into his eyes and couldn’t help the satisfied look that crossed his face. “What?” Jake asked.
“I finally got my happy ending,” Arlo smiled.
“I got mine, too,” Jake said, and wrapped his fingers into Arlo’s hand.
“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Arlo whispered.
“I love you,” Arlo said, kissing Jake’s ear.
“I love you, too, Arlo.”