"Is Timmy okay?" John asked, looking out the kitchen window at the backyard, washing the omelet pan. Rodney didn't like his pans in the dishwasher, so John had taken over the handwashing. It seemed only fair, given that Rodney handled all the cooking. "He looks like he's pulling bits off the bushes."
"Hmm?" Rodney asked, diverting his attention from the laptop on the table and looking out the window by the breakfast nook. "Oh, he's, um... debudding camellias."
"You mean he's taking the flowers off?"
"No, not the flowers. The buds."
"Doesn't he like flowers?"
"Yes, but they get double buds. He removes one of the buds so the other flower gets bigger." Rodney typed a few words, studying his laptop screen as John rinsed the pan. "Marie used to do it. She taught him."
"Okay," John said neutrally, letting the water out.
"Oh my god, you think he's weird!" Rodney burst out, staring in shock at John.
Denial was instinctive. "What? No!"
"You do! You think he's weird to be debudding camellias."
John wiped his hands on the tea towel and looked out the window at Timmy, still busily occupied in his task. "He's just... different than I was as a kid."
"And that makes him weird?"
"Jesus, Rodney, I didn't say I thought he was weird. Different is just different."
"Different is weird."
"Says the man who idolizes Star Trek," John retorted, glaring at Rodney. "Different is just different. He's more... still than I was."
"Oh." A little of the tenseness left Rodney's face as he accepted John's reassurance, then he gave a snort. "You probably broke bones on your skateboard every day."
"Roller skates when I was Timmy's age. Or my bicycle. I didn't get a skateboard until high school," John said absentmindedly, hanging up the towel and crossing the kitchen to sit at the table by Rodney. "And only my collar bone and one of my arms. And I sprained an ankle." Wrapping his arms around Rodney's arms, and tucking his chin on his shoulder, John frowned as he tried to remember. "Maybe my arm twice, once when I was really young."
Rodney's body sagged against his, their faces both turning to watch Timmy. "You must have driven your parents to distraction."
"I liked going fast." John sighed, trying to stop his mind from dwelling on his parents' unhappiness with him.
Rodney curled his hands around John's arms, squeezing in sympathy. "I haven't broken any bones. And I have grass allergies, so I never had to garden. Really, it's a wonder that Marie and I got together. We had so little in common. She loved to garden." Rodney waved one hand toward Timmy. "And debud camellias."
"Dad used to make me mow the lawn. Weeding, edging, all that stuff. I didn't mind it but I don't enjoy it like Timmy does."
"Timmy's very much like Marie."
"He looks like you though. But still too short to do all the bush." John nuzzled the side of Rodney's face.
"Even Marie wasn't tall enough. She would get the ladder."
"I can reach the top. I'll let him teach me." With a last kiss on Rodney's cheek, he stood and walked around the table, pausing at the back door, glancing back. "Okay?"
"Yes, yes, fine. I'll let the two of you debud camellias." His lopsided smile was tilted high with happiness at John's willingness to share his son's obsession. "I've got reports to review," he added, waving to his laptop in explanation.
John nodded and went outside to join Timmy.