Chapter 1: Tom Calls Matt
"How the fuck did you get this number?"
Answering the phone at six am was never fun, even if Matt was fully awake. He had always been of the opinion that the outside world should stay outside before eight am.
"I talked to Travis. I wanted Mark's number, but he wouldn't give it to me. Said I should talk to you instead."
That sounded like something Travis would do. He wouldn't cut DeLonge out completely, but he would keep Mark out of it. His loyalties were with Mark, and would stay there.
"Mark's made it clear he's done with wanting to talk to you. You've hurt him enough." Being territorial had never been Matt's style, and Mark had put it in the open that he never liked it either. Matt just hoped his boyfriend could forgive his current testosterone fueled words.
"I know. I just, wanted to know if he's okay."
It was going on three, no, four years. And he wanted to know now. But Matt cared more about Mark, and he knew screaming at his cellphone would resolve nothing. Aggression would always fail in the presence of communication.
"While I don't appreciate you taking so long to ask that, I can appreciate that would would ask at all,"
"I know, I know. Please; how is he?"
"He's better. You broke his heart. Again. I'm just glad he and Skye are still friends or else I doubt this would have made it to such a good place."
"What do you mean, 'still friends?' Are they not together anymore?"
Mark had been trying to keep his divorce private; of course Tom wouldn't know. It was odd to Matt, he was talking to someone who had been the person to know Mark best for years. But now they had traded places.
"Yeah, they're separated as of now. Jack goes where he wants when he wants. He's taking everything in stride. It's all very amicable; no hatred on either side."
Matt figured that was the best way to phrase it. He was talking to a man who had been troubled by his own parents' divorce for years; he didn't want anything to sound aggrieved that wasn't.
There was silence on the other line as Matt stepped out onto the backyard patio.
"I'm glad," Seemed to be all Tom had to say on the matter.
"Has he moved out of his and Skye's house? What are they doing for custody?" Matt had been wrong, Tom did have questions. Matt figured he could give some answers.
"He moved out, yeah. He's staying with me right now; in my LA place. They've got fifty/fifty for custody, but they've let Jack choose the schedule. Things are going well."
"That's good, that's good. I uh, I'm sorry I called so early. He's still in bed, isn't he?" Tom laughed as he asked.
"He is. He only fell asleep a few hours ago. I'm the early bird in this household." Matt smiled to himself, thinking of Mark tucked in their bed, refusing to be under more than a sheet in the warm Los Angeles weather.
"How long is he gonna stay with you?"
"As long as he wants. He can stay forever if that's what will make him happy." Matt said softly.
"You're together now, aren't you?" Tom sounded, well, Matt wasn't sure how Tom sounded.
"Yeah, we are."
Matt turned back to the inside of the house, looked at the open door to his and Mark's bedroom; Mark was curled up in there, missing the sunrise Matt could see from the patio.
Matt's house was finally feeling like a family home. Mark and him in the master, a room Jack had claimed as his own on the other side of the house entirely. Matt couldn't have been happier.
"I'm happy for you guys." Tom cut into Matt's thoughts. "Can you pass that on to him for me? That and how I really am sorry about, well, everything." For the second time on their so far ten minute phone call, Tom sounded anxious.
"I will when he wakes up, yeah. Maybe someday you can tell him that yourself."
"I hope so. Thank you, Matt. It was really decent of you to hear me out. You're a good guy, and I hope that maybe one day we can all get together and talk." Tom said in what sounded like a singular breath. Matt figured the anxiety from moments before hadn't worn off.
"You're welcome. I hope we can do that someday, too. It was good to talk to you, Tom."
"It was good to talk to you as well. Be good to him, or Travis will kick your ass like he kicked mine." Matt laughed, feeling that asking to hear that story was a step too far for the first civil conversation between him and Tom since Matt had joined Blink. Even if he wanted to hear it.
"I know he will. Have a good day, Tom." Tom echoed the goodbye and the phone call was over.
It was strange, Matt thought as he watched the sun break the horizon. He could understand Travis's logic in having Tom speak with Matt before approaching Mark. It meant Mark wouldn't be caught off guard, and Tom had done that enough to Mark in his lifetime.
But most importantly, it meant that Mark could control the potential meeting or discussion. Matt would be the first to admit that that was the best way to get a comfortable, respectful resolution to the tension between Mark and Tom.
When the sun had fully risen and Matt had broken from his thought-induced trance, he made his way back inside to start their morning coffee. As the comforting drip of their first dose of daily caffeine started, Matt settled onto a stool at the breakfast bar, news paper in front of him.
After finishing reading what he'd wanted out of the paper and two of the four cup pot of coffee, Matt heard the floor boards near their bedroom begin to creak. Mark came out to the living room first, taking stock of his surroundings before moving towards the smell of liquid caffeine.
"Good morning, babe. Sleep well?" Matt asked as Mark poured himself a cup of coffee.
"I did indeed," He paused, carafe in hand. "Were you on the phone earlier? I could have sworn I heard you talking to someone."
"I was, actually. And you'll never believe who called."
Chapter 2: A Second Call
It takes a few cups of coffee, but even Mark Hoppus is not immune to questionable decisions.
You can find me updating these old bastards instead of writing those promised new stories
“You’ll never believe who called me at six this morning.” Mark put the coffee carafe on the counter, curious why his boyfriend would sound so disbelieving.
“Who?” An eyebrow went up.
“DeLonge,” Matt was glad that Mark had put the glass pot down, as the blood seemed to drain from his boyfriend’s face at the mention of the other man.
“I, why?” Mark scrubbed at his face with his palms before returning the coffee to its place after filling his mug.
“He wanted to apologize. To you, specifically. And apparently Travis thought I made a good middleman.” Matt snorted a little.
“What the fuck.” No question, just a statement.
“Don’t shoot the messenger, man. He is your boyfriend.” Matt finished his own cup of coffee.
“Right, sorry. I’m just,” he paused, “surprised.”
“No shit, Sherlock. I get it, though.” Matt kept on sipping his coffee.
Mark just nodded.
“He left his number, in case you wanted to talk.” Matt added, pouring another mug.
There was silence. Matt finished and refilled his mug.
“I think I should call him back.” Mark said, a few minutes later.
“Do you want to do it from my phone, or do you want him to have your number?” It wasn’t worth asking stupid questions. Questions like why. He knew the answer to that. Irrationally, Mark still felt guilty for moving on.
“Would you mind if I used yours? I don’t think I’m ready for him to have mine yet.” He looked into his dark drink. He hadn’t put cream in that morning. He rarely did.
Matt wondered if maybe it was too early for this conversation; he hadn’t even let his boyfriend finish his first coffee. Not his best move.
“It’s all good. The number’s still in the recent calls. You wanna do it now, or later?” Matt understood. He didn’t really want Tom calling him out of the blue, either. He’d have to say something to Travis about that.
“Might as well get it over with. Just let me finish my coffee and get some clothes on first.” Mark drained his cup and pushed away from the counter.
“Just let me know when. You know my passcode, right?” Mark stopped walking and turned back.
“I like this relationship. I like that we have free access to each other’s phones. It feels so… healthy.” Mark smiled.
“Babe, that so sweet. I love this relationship too. This is the happiest I’ve ever been.” Matt walked forward and wrapped his arms around Mark’s neck, pulling him into a bear hug.
“I love you.” Mark put his hands on Matt’s hips and kissed him. Matt pulled back from the kiss and shoved his boyfriend lighty back.
“Go get dressed. We’ve got shit to do after your call.” Matt laughed and stared as Mark walked away.
“Stop staring at my ass, Matthew!”
The backyard was as unassuming as it always was. With its pretty pool and careful landscaping, it was the best place for Mark to sit down and face his past. Maybe his future, too.
His hands shook as he clicked on recent calls. The phone listed the area code as San Diego. He was calling from an LA. number. He had changed his number years ago.
He clicked it.
“Hello? Matt?” It was really him. Tom. His once best friend; whatever you wanted to call him.
“Holy shit. I didn’t think you call, let alone this soon.” It was weird, to hear his voice over the phone after all this time.
“It’s an easily reversible decision.” He didn’t like being so cold to the person he’d once been closest to, but it was what it was. Tom needed to know that Mark was in charge here.
“Right, I’ll uh, I’ll try to make this worth your time.” Tom paused. “Matt said you and Skye are sharing custody of Jack. How’s he doing with that?” Mark wondered why Matt hadn’t mentioned Tom asking about the divorce. But then, it was a sour note for the four of them and he probably hadn’t wanted to make Mark any more paranoid than he already was.
“He’s sixteen, so we’ve got a schedule, but he can come and go as he pleases. How, how are Jen and the kids?” He wasn’t sure if he wanted to know, or why he was being polite.
“They’re good. Jen’s working on some new interior design projects, as per usual.” Tom sounded so casual, nowhere near as scared or stressed as Mark was sure he sounded.
“That’s nice.” He took a deep breath in, “why did you call Travis? Why did you get Matt’s number from him?” He wanted to know, he was sure he did.
“I wanted to know if you were really ok. Seemed touch and go for a while there. And I know I’ve done some things and said some things, but I still care. Even if it’s been a few years.”
Tom’s words sounded like a dream Mark might have had back in late 2015. Telling him it was all going to be okay now; that he’d take care of everything and it would all be fine.
“Jack and Skye are happy, Matt takes good care of me; I really am ok. I wasn’t, for a while, but now I am. Things change.” Things always change. The only consistency in life was change.
“I’m glad.” Mark looked around the backyard, briefly wondering what the temperature would be later that day.
“Would you like to meet for lunch sometime? I’m going to be in L.A. for business next week, and I still trust your taste in restaurants. You still like veggie burgers, right?” Of everything to remember, a love of veggie burgers made the list?
“Ok. I do, by the way. Name the date.”
They made their plans as Mark began to feel his arms and legs tingling. He wasn’t sure if it had to do with the agreement or the hard wooden bench beneath him.
“I’ll, uh, see you then, Tom.”
“See you then then, Mark.” He hung up.
As he made his way across the yard, a need for moral support filled Mark.
He opened the back door and shouted to his boyfriend.
“Babe, I think I fucked up.”
Chapter 3: The Dramatic Diner Scene
Brunch is a thing that happens, and Mark is as usual, conflicted about it.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“I shouldn’t have suggested this. This was a bad idea.” Mark lamented as soon as they pulled up to the diner across the street from a skate park.
“It’s not a bad idea. And if anything happens, I’ll be right across the street with Toby and Max.” Matt tried to comfort his anxious boyfriend. He himself wasn’t sure how it would go, but he’d still supported his boyfriend’s choices.
“I know, I know. And I’m coming of my own free will, and I can leave of the same accord if I need to.” Matt could tell Mark was talking to himself, not to him.
“It’ll be okay, babe. Besides, if it doesn’t go well, we never have to come back here and you never have to see him again. That’s the beauty of this. And choosing a place we never go to.” Matt nudged
“Ok, you’re right. This will go fine; it’ll be super awkward, but it’ll be fine.” Mark reassured himself as Matt rubbed his arm.
“We’ll leave the car here, I’ll walk over. That way you can leave whenever. Just come meet me when you’re done.” Matt said, unbuckling his seat belt. He opened the door and turned his head back towards his boyfriend. “Are you sure you don’t want me to walk you in?”
“No, I think it’s best I do this on my own. Thanks though, babe.” Mark open the passenger side door.
“Good luck, I love you.” Matt kissed Mark’s check and got out of the car, walking towards where Toby and Max were waiting for him across the street.
“Here we go, motherfucker.” He opened his car door and walked up the the front enterence.
The inside of the restaurant was full of chrome and baby blue leather booths. Every wall between the windows had photos or prints of farms and vegetable stands.
Tom was already sitting in the restaurant when Mark walked in. He had apparently been there long enough to have claimed a booth and a mug of coffee.
“Hey, Mark.” Tom greeted him when he was close enough to hear.
“Hello,” Mark sat down on the bench across from him. He picked up the menu. Tofu scrambles had their own section. He liked that.
“I’m glad to see you.” Tom raised a hand to signal the waitress. Mark wondered if that annoyed her. She came quick, allowing him to get away with not replying.
“What can I get you?” Her name was Rachael, according to the nametag on her blue uniform. It was odd; a fifties style vegan diner. Just the sort of place Matt would find, he supposed.
“A black coffee and a Southwestern tofu scramble, please.” Mark ordered, Rachael scratching at her pad.
“A veggie burger with sweet potato fries, thanks.” She took their menues.
“Do you need a refill on that coffee?” She asked Tom
“Not yet, thanks.”
“Alright, that’s gonna be up in a bit, let me know if you need anything else.” She left.
“I heard you emailed Hillary Clinton’s campaign about aliens.” He wasn’t sure what else to say, but that may not have been the smartest one.
“It was not my brightest moment. Jen didn’t even know I did it until the emails leaked.” Tom looked ashamed. “That wasn’t a good move on my part.”
“It sure was weird when Jack found it on the internet before I did.” Mark started fiddling with the paper placemat on the chrome topped table. It was a waste of a tree.
Rachael came back, putting Mark’s coffee down.
They sat in silence for a moment, drinking their coffees.
“Why am I here, Tom?” Mark asked once Rachael had put their food down
“I guess I just wanted the chance to say I’m sorry in person. I uh, I really fucked you over. So, I’m sorry, for everything.” Mark stared at him, unsure how to respond.
“Thank you, it’s nice to hear that.”
They dug into their food, Tom offering some fries in exchange for some of the tofurkey hash on Mark’s plate.
Back and forth, they exchanged stories about their kids until they both cleared their plates.
“It was,” Mark paused, “nice to see you, Tom.” Things were coming to an end. Mark wanted them to be.
Tom looked down at his empty plate.
“It was good to see you, too. I’ll take the bill; I invited you here.” Tom drained the last of his coffee.
“Thanks.” Mark gathered his things and put his wallet back in his pants. He made to get up, but paused. “Why now? After all this time?”
“We’ve both had time to think; you’ve moved on. It seemed right.” He shrugged, looking a little lost.
“Sounds reasonable, I guess. But why did you talk to Matt?” He knew Travis had only given him Matt’s number, but he didn’t know why Tom hadn’t just asked to speak to him.
“He’s a good guy, and I figured that if I was going to apologize to you, it would be helpful for him to know it was genuine.” Genuine. Somehow, Mark hadn’t expected how much Tom actually meant what he said.
“I can respect that. It was good to see you, Tom.” Mark got out of the booth.
“It was good to see you too, Mark. Have a good one.”
“You too.” Mark walked towards the door, and didn’t look away from his target of the skate park until Matt was in his line of sight.
“Hey, babe.” He called to him. Matt and Toby were watching Max try what looked like some new trick.
“Hey, how’d it go?” Matt pulled him into a side hug, continuing to watch his psudeo-nephew.
“It was better than I’d thought it would be. He was a lot like he was on the phone; pretty chill.” It was true that brunch had gone better than Mark had thought it would. It didn’t really mean he wanted to do it again though.
“I’m glad. Are you ready to head home?” Matt smiled at him, a genuine one.
“Yeah. Bye guys!” He yelled to Max and Toby, who shouted back their disapointment in them leaving.
“By the way, nice choice on the location. They had a great scramble.”
“See, I had this feeling,”
That's a wrap on this story! Finally, a year later, it's finished!