“How about go-karts?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Relax, dude, I’m just messing with you.”
“Well why don’t you come up with something then?”
“Okay fine. Dinner at a steakhouse?”
“Aw, I hate dressing up and those places always smell funny.”
“A trip to the spa for the day?”
“You ain’t making this easy, Junior.”
“Neither are you, dude. Look. why don’t we just go out and see a movie?”
“We can do that any old day. I want us to do something special next weekend, something fun and exciting that we’ll remember forthe rest of our days.”
“How about camping?”
90s Kid and Harvey moved their heads in unison to the couch, where Dan sat flipping through an old issue of ‘People Magazine’ with Jodie Foster on the cover.
He hadn’t expected the conversation of what to do for Father’s Day this year to have taken so long, especially since he and 90s Kid had dinner plans that evening, and he could tell from the teen’s rumbling stomach that he was growing hungrier with each passing minute, but honestly Dan hadn’t minded the delay. He actually found it somewhat relaxing to listen to the pair bounce ideas off each other and was therefore perplexed when the banter suddenly stopped. Dan glanced up from his interview with the lovely Ridley to determine what the problem was and was surprised to see he was now the point of attention for both of them.
“What is it?” he asked.
“You want to go camping, Dan?” 90s Kid repeated, uncertain he’d properly heard him. Dan’s eyes widened and he lowered the magazine.
“Did I say that out loud?” he asked quietly, as if to just himself, not having realized his slip, before he raised his voice once again. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt. Just ignore me.”
“What are you talking about, Crockett? You’re a part of this conversation as well,” Harvey gently chided with a smile. “If camping’s something you’d like to do, it’s certainly open for discussion.”
“Oh, well it’s not that I want to do it,” Dan quickly replied. “I’ve just... never been camping before.” He lowered his gaze and caught his reflection in Harvey’s newly shined Italian shoes. “But I’m sure that isn’t something you’d be interested in, Harvey.”
Harvey scoffed, as if offended. “What, you think I’m too much of a stuffed shirt to enjoy the great outdoors?”
“Aren’t you?” 90s Kid asked, earning himself a knock on the arm from the singer.
“Hardly. I may enjoy the finer things in life but I’m no doily. I can rough it with the best of them which is why I think camping would be a swell way to spend a weekend.”
“You sure about this, Harvey?” Dan peered into his face, as if looking for some sign of doubt, but Harvey just smiled brightly at him.
“Sure I’m sure. It’ll be a swell time.”
“Yeah, this is gonna be awesome” 90s Kid agreed before the rumbling in his stomach caused him to groan. “Uh, can we finish this discussion later? If I don’t get some food in me soon, I don’t think I’m gonna make it.”
Harvey chuckled and nodded. “Geez, Junior, if you don’t toughen up you’ll never make it out in the wild. Alright, you’re dismissed.”
“Thanks, Harvey.” Dan stood and wrapped an arm around 90s Kid’s waist as the teen pulled out his teleporter. “And don’t worry, Kid and I will make all the preparations for the trip, so you can just kick back and relax.”
“I think I’ll take that advice,” Harvey agreed, plopping down into a chair as he picked up the newspaper.
90s Kid rolled over in bed the next morning still smiling as he remembered his day out with Dan the previous day. Even a simple trip to the pizza parlor was magical when the two of them were together. Before he could become lost in his reverie, though, the vibrations from his phone brought 90s Kid back to reality. He quickly reached over to read it with bleary eyes.
Afternoon Kid! I hope this doesn’t wake you, but I’d really love it if you would come over and take a look at some things! I’ve been hard at work and I think you’ll like what I have in mind. I love you!
90s Kid smiled and sat up so he could text a response.
Love you too! Let me just shower and I’ll be right there!
Ten minutes later, 90s Kid found himself in the middle of Dan’s bedroom, which seemed to be packed full with more stuff than usual.
“Whoa!” he said as he just barely avoided stepping on a slightly rusted metal spike laying right beside Dan’s closet.“What is all this junk?”
Dan, who was sitting on the floor polishing a few slightly rusted metal poles, beamed up at the teen with pride. “Impressive, huh?” He gestured toward his bed, which was invisible at the moment thanks to a giant canvas tent, three rolled up sleeping bags, several tarps, ropes, foam sleeping pads, assorted pots, pans, pieces of silverware, and bags of food, gloves, and other various items covering it.“This pyramidic slice of paradise is made of pure canvas and guaranteed to protect us from wind, rain, sleet, and whatever other surprise Mother Nature has in store for us!”
“I didn’t know that was a word,” 90s Kid muttered but Dan was too busy chattering to hear him.
“And if you’re worried about a sudden cold-front, then have no fear. These state-of-the-art sleeping bags are nylon-covered, down-insulated, water-proof, and come in three wonderful colors!”
90s Kid set his hand down on the green one and squeezed it a bit.
“Ooh, soft. This is truly impressive, Dan, but how did you get all this so quickly? Cuz I was here yesterday and this stuff… wasn’t.”
“Oh, you know me, I have a friend at every thrift shop.”
“They must be really good friends.” 90s Kid bent down closer to the examine the sleeping bags before his nose started to wrinkle. “Ugh! Maybe you should ask your friends if you can trade this in for junk that doesn’t smell totally gross.”
“Oh, that’s just from the mothballs,” Dan said, suddenly on his feet and pulling 90s Kid away from the bed. “With just a few quick sprays from this, our equipment will be smelling as fresh as a summer garden.” A can of air freshener appeared in Dan’s hand as if by magic and he happily sprayed down the sleeping bags, tent, tarts, and bed pads while 90s Kid watched.
“I never thought you were so interested in camping,” he admitted. “How come you never mentioned wanting to go before?”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say I’m interested,” Dan said with a shrug of his shoulders.“I just want this to be a trip we all remember fondly, like Harvey said.”
“I want that too, but you don’t have to knock yourself out getting this stuff. I’m sure Linkara would let us borrow some money to buy some, uh,”90s Kid hesitated slightly, “some more modern supplies.”
Dan frowned at him. “What’s wrong with these supplies?”
“Well, maybe I’m wrong, but aren’t we supposed to hammer these into the ground?” 90s Kid picked up one of the rusted spikes, making a face when it started shedding flakes into his hands.
“Yes, so the tent will remain in place,” Dan replied, still not seeing any problem.
“Right, but modern tents don’t need spikes to stay into the ground. I mean, I love the classics as much as you, Dan, but hammering spikes into the ground for an hour doesn’t seem like fun-it seems like work.”
Dan chuckled as he took the piece of metal from the teen’s hand and dropped it back onto the floor.
“What’s wrong, sweetie? I thought you liked a good work-out. But now you’re afraid a little hammering will be too much for you?”
90s Kid easily took the bait. “Nu uh! That’s not what I meant, dude!”
“Or maybe all those pizzas have made you too soft.” Dan teasingly poked 90s Kid in the stomach, which resulted in a soft squeal and a sharp intake of breath from the teen.
“Ahh! Oh, that’s it, dude. I hope you are in the mood for a good work-out!”
A short chase around the house later found the two exhausted men returning to Dan’s bedroom and collapsing onto whatever space could be found on the floor.
“You really should… move this stuff.. somewhere else…” 90s Kid said in between pants.
“Agreed. Help me… move it?”
Dan managed to rise first and collected a few pouches of dried fruit and nuts into a backpack before offering it to the teen.
“Uh, I’m not sure you should trust me around food right now,” 90s Kid mumbled right before his stomach let out an enormous roar. He blushed while Dan laughed.
“You’re already that hungry?”
“Well I didn’t have breakfast.”
“Because you told me to come right over.”
“I didn’t mean to skip eating, sweetie. You know how important it is to keep on track when it comes to meals.” Dan pecked 90s Kid on the cheek before tugging on his wrist. “Alright, come on. I’ll cook you something tasty so you’ll have your mind and stomach in the right place.”
“You’re the best, Dan.”
By the day’s end, 90s Kid was feeling as exhausted as he did after completing one of Ninja Style Dancer’s training courses. He and Dan had spent hours practicing hammering stakes into the ground, tying knots which would not come undone thanks to a gust of wind, and hoisting up the less-pleasant smelling items onto a clothesline to air them out.
“My fingers are so sore,” he moaned as he collapsed onto the living room couch.
“Too sore for some chicken?” Dan asked, offering the teen a plate of the freshly fried meat.
“Yes,” 90s Kid replied before instantly grabbing a drumstick. “How did you even have the energy to cook all that?”
“Oh, I save a little for special occasions,” Dan cheerfully replied as he grabbed 90s Kid’s by the arm. “Come on, Dolly will kill me if we eat in the living room.”
90s Kid reluctantly followed Dan into the kitchen where his eyes widened at the plates of chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, and biscuits set before him.
“I think you saved up more than a little, dude.”
“What, this? It’s really nothing,” Dan said as he began scooping food onto a plate. He hummed merrily as he set the loaded dish before 90s Kid and then made another for himself, which caused the teen to stare at him in confusion. “What’s wrong?” Dan wondered upon noticing his expression.
“It’s just… you’re really happy, Dan.”
“Well, why wouldn’t I be? I’m about to eat a delicious meal with the man I love most, after spending a whole wonderful day together!”
“I mean, I loved being with you too, but like, we just did chores and stuff.” 90s Kid winced as he forced his fingers to curl around his fork. “Really hard chores. But you’re acting like we just watched movies and ate ice cream all day.”
“That reminds me, I’ve got a fresh box of Mint Chocolate Chip in the freezer for after dinner! I hope you’re got enough room for sundaes!”
“Dan.” Dan lowered his fork as 90s Kid’s expression softened. “Do you want to talk about anything?”
“Maybe I am a little excited. I just… I really want to make Harvey happy this Father’s Day.” Dan’s voice lowered and he looked down at his plate.“He’s been so great with me, letting me be a part of things and making sure I feel included. He always wants us to have a good time when we’re together, and I really want to do the same for him. I know last time things didn’t run that smoothly so I want to make up for that. That’s why I want to make this camping trip perfect, or at least as perfect as it can be considering we’ll be a part of it.”
90s Kid laughed along with Dan at that.
“Okay, dude, I get it. I wanna make Harvey-dude happy too, cuz Father’s Day is just… you know, special.” Dan nodded in complete understanding. “So, I’ll work hard with you to get all this junk ready, even if it means my fingers fall off.”
“Don’t worry, sweetie,” Dan said in a reassuring voice, “if that happens, I’ll call Linksano over to make you some cool robotic fingers as a replacement.”
“Dude, that would be amazing! Now I’m totally gonna hope they fall off!”
The rest of the week passed in a similar manner, with the two learning to roll up sleeping bags, practicing their fire making skills, and learning how to read maps. While 90s Kid went about these activities with his usual amount of enthusiasm, Dan’s energy level matched and at times even surpassed his, which 90s Kid found delightful, if a tad concerning at times. Dan had never been the outdoorsy type before but he was putting every ounce of effort he had into preparing and planning for this trip. He’d even woken 90s Kid up one night to show him a few maps of nearby camp sites with hiking trails and small bodies of water fit for swimming.
“You don’t think it’s too cold to take a dip, do you?” he’d asked worriedly while 90s Kid yawned.
“Mmm seems fine, but Harvey’s not much of a swimmer...”
“That’s true. I wouldn’t want to force him if he’s not comfortable. But he does enjoy hiking, right sweetie? Sweetie?” The sound of 90s Kid snoring caused Dan to smile and tuck his maps back into the drawer on his nightstand. “I’ll ask you tomorrow.”
When Friday morning finally rolled around, Dan woke 90s Kid up by bustling around his room and rifling through his suitcase.
“What are you doing?” he murmured, rubbing his sleep-filled eyes as he spoke.
“Just making sure you packed clothes for cool and warm weather. I don’t want you getting sick out there,” Dan cheerfully replied as he pushed a first aid kit into the middle of the teen’s suitcase. “Everything seems to be in order though so why don’t we head down for a hearty breakfast and then see if Harvey’s ready to go?”
90s Kid squinted at the clock beside his bed.
“Dude, it’s 6 in the morning. The sun isn’t even up yet, so there’s no way I’m gonna be either.”
“But Kid, what if we get there so late that all the campsites are taken and we end up having to share with some weird, mountain family who want to make us their new ‘best friends’ and-ah!” Dan let out a squeak as strong arms pulled him back under the covers.
“We’ll make a new campsite if we haveta, and I always think it’s fun to make new friends. For now, sleep.”
Three hours later, a well-fed and somewhat well-rested 90s Kid and Dan sat in the living room among their many supplies. Harvey, whistling cheerfully, headed into the room before stopping to smile at the two.
“Good morning Junior, Crockett. It’s certainly a beautiful day today.”
“It certainly is!” Dan agreed, one hand squeezing 90s Kid’s tightly. “I hope you’re ready for our weekend, my dapper friend!”
“I certainly am!” Harvey pulled out his teleporter and picked up a surprisingly small leather suitcase. “I’ve picked out a real beauty of a spot for us, so let’s not dilly dally around here!”
“Wouldn’t dream of it, right Kid? Uh, Kid? Wake up, hon?” Dan rocked 90s Kid’s shoulder, who quickly shook his head.
“Huh? What? I-I’m up.”
“And while you’re up, could you pick up a few of the bags as well?”
“Oh yeah, sure.” Once their arms were loaded, the two approached Harvey and placed a hand on each of his shoulders.
“Majestic Meadows, here we come!”
Dan kept his eyes closed as they teleported and once they’d arrived, he happily sucked in a deep breath of the fresh, clean air surrounding them. He had been dreaming of this moment for some time and the air smelled just as Dan thought it would, crisp and sweet and full of nature. He opened his eyes to eagerly drink in his surroundings but almost immediately his jaw dropped to the ground.
There were cabins all around them- if you could even call them cabins, that is. To Dan they appeared to be tall, fancymini-mansions that looked more as if they’d be more at homealongside a golf course or country club. There was also a wide, sparkling lake stretching out as far as the eye could see, and a humongous pier where massive boats that could have passed for yachts proudly stood, clean and polished, and several little stands selling wine and various seafood delicacies had set up shop.
“Ain’t it beautiful?” Harvey asked, looking around the property with gleaming eyes.“I fell in love with it as soon as I saw the brochure. They call this area a‘glampsite’, and what we do is glamping, a way of getting back to one’s roots of nature while still being able to appreciate the finer things in life. It’s like something out of a dream! In-room Jacuzzis, masseurs on speed dial, duty-free shops, full room service with gourmet chefs! They even found a way to heat up the lake! Pretty sweet place to spend Father’s Day, wouldn’t you say?” Harvey eagerly turned back to 90s Kid and Dan to see their reactions.
“Duuude, this is awesome!” 90s Kid’s head was swiveling around at such an intense pace that it seemed ready to pop off at any moment. “These cabins are huge! And look at those boats and-are those jet skis?” He turned back to Harvey, disbelief etched into his face. “Are-are we really gonna get to ride jet skis?”
Harvey laughed and clapped 90s Kid on the shoulder.
“Course we are! I thought those babies might win your heart, Junior. Better watch out, Crockett, cuz you might have competition.”
He elbowed Dan in the side and flashed a cheeky grin before 90s Kid pushed him away so he could embrace the older man while starting to bounce up and down.
“Jet skis, Dan! Jet skis! I’ve always wanted to ride one and now we can do it together and it’s going to be so awesome!”
“Care-careful, Kid, I’ve had a big breakfast,” Dan said, gently placing his hands over 90s Kid’s before he removed them from around his body. He was smiling as well as he looked over to Harvey, though if you looked closely you could see that it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Harvey, this surely is impressive, but are you sure this is the right fit for us? I mean, of course you are the man of the hour, and what you want is most important, but this must have set you back quite a lot. I thought you were the one who should be on the receiving end of any gifts this weekend.”
“What can I say? I’m a giver at heart,” Harvey replied.
“This is just…not what I expected,” Dan continued, his amazed eyes still scanning the various accouterments Majestic Meadows offered its campers. He stiffened slightly when he felt an arm around his shoulder but when he saw the look of joy in Harvey’s eyes he softened under his touch.
“I’ve always said you can’t put a price on happiness. I’d spend a fortune just to have one amazing weekend with my two favorite kids.”
Dan watched 90s Kid press closer to Harvey, who laid an arm around his shoulders as well, and felt a warmth in his chest that finally radiated from his eyes.
“Well, you’re right about that, Harvey. There isn’t any place we’d rather be this weekend.”
Harvey squeezed his shoulder before releasing the two and clapping his hands together.
“Alright, you two, get your stuff unpacked and then meet me at the lake in twenty minutes. We’re having lunch on a genuine riverboat, so prepare for an afternoon of singing, gambling, and genuine fun!”
“This is gonna be the best weekend ever!” 90s Kid cheered, quickly scooping up most of the bags he and Dan brought before he rushed into the grand wooden structure before them.
Dan followed along after him, pausing for a moment to take in the lush interior of what could barely be classified a cabin. A marble fireplace was the centerpiece of the room, while a 72-inch plasma television and enormous speakers covered the walls. Dan also passed through an enormous kitchen, an entertainment room with even more electronic equipment inside, and a luxurious bathroom before he reached the stairs.
“Dude, our room’s at the end of the hall!” 90s Kid shouted as he hurried over to help Dan with the rest of their things. “I can’t believe how big it is! There could be, like, five of us in here and I think we’d be comfortable,” he happily babbled as he tossed Dan’s suitcases into the double-wide closet. Dan peeked into the en-suite bathroom, complete with a bathtub and a Jacuzzi, before he settled upon the king-sized bed.
“Comfy,” he admitted as he pressed one hand into the mattress.
“I know, right? Although I don’t know how we’re gonna sleep when there’s so much totally awesome stuff to do around here! I can’t believe we were so worried about making Harvey happy and wasted all that time doing boring stuff. This totally blows camping out of the water, right Dan?”
“I wouldn’t say it was a total waste of time,” Dan replied, a bit quietly.
“Yeah, I guess it did make for a good work-out.” 90s Kid flexed in front of the mirror a few times, admiring his biceps, before he straightened his cap and turned back to Dan. “Ready to hit the lake, dude?”
“You go on ahead,” Dan replied, another smile popping into place. “I just want to change into my swimming trunks.”
“I told ya ya shoulda put them on beforehand,” 90s Kid gently chastised as he headed out the door. Dan waited until he heard the end of the thunderous clatter of feet on stairs before he closed the door to the bedroom. Once alone his smile faded and a soft sigh escaped his lips. He cast his gaze over to the tent and sleeping bags he’d spent all week preparing, now casually shoved into the corner, and took a few minutes to neatly stack them inside the darkest part of the closet.
“Maybe next time,” he muttered as he shut the door.
The sparkling lake which had immediately caught their eyes upon arrival actually connected to a small river, and 90s Kid and Dan stood on the pier looking up at a riverboat so large it almost made them dizzy.
“172 years old. That makes this baby an antique,” Harvey proudly explained.“She’s been making journeys since the 1800s, back when this was one of the fastest modes of transportation.”
“Is that how you got to school back then?” 90s Kid teased.
“Very funny. Of course, this riverboat is small potatoes compared to the ones I traveled on when I was your age,” Harvey bragged, walking them onto the riverboat and paying the cover charge. Once aboard, they admired the interior decorated with vintage furniture and wall fixtures, while standing beneath a huge crystal chandelier.“There’s lots to do on ships like this, but first we’re gonna hit the casino. Now, everyone’s looking for a sucker, but stick with me and follow my lead, and we’ll be swimmin’ in dough before you know it.”
They walked down a narrow hallway which ended in a beautiful ballroom fitted with numerous tables for craps, roulette, blackjack, Texas Hold ‘Em, and countless other games of chance to bet any sum of money on. Dan felt an uneasy feeling settle in his stomach as the boat’s security team began pointing at 90s Kid and whispering, but after a strategic and bountiful handshake from Harvey, they pretended as though they had never noticed the teen in the first place.
“C’mon, Junior, I’ll show you how to get a perfect 21 in Blackjack. Maybe if you do good enough I can take you to Vegas to play with some real pros,” Harvey offered, completely serious about wanting everyone to see what his boy could do.
Despite Harvey’s guidance, 90s Kid did not seem destined for a future in the lucrative world of petty gambling. He ended up panicking whenever he had a hand in the teens and always ended up busting, despite Harvey’s assurance that a 17 was good enough for him, he couldn’t predict one number on the roulette table, and his poker face was nonexistent.
“Boy, I’ve never seen someone lose so quickly,” Harvey remarked as the last of 90s Kid’s chips were swept away. “What happened, Junior? You weren’t this bad when we played with that angry fellow who’s friends with the Kid?”
90s Kid finished drinking from his root beer float and let out a sheepish giggle.
“Sorry, dude, I guess I’m having an off day.” Harvey smiled and picked up his remaining chips. “As long as you’re having fun, then I don’t care how off a day you have. Although, I’m surprised to see Crockett hasn’t taken the plunge even once.” He turned toward Dan, who was finishing up his third float, with a puzzled look. “What’s wrong? I hope you ain’t feeling skittish about betting with my money.”
“It’s not that,” Dan explained in a polite tone. “It’s just that my support group has gone over how recovering addicts should not engage in other addictive behaviors or else we might replace one addiction with another.”
“Ah gee, I’m sorry, Crockett,” Harvey said, looking truly apologetic. “I wasn’t even thinking about that.
“It’s totally fine. I know you two were having a blast and I still got to indulge in the delicious libations this fine vessel produced. In fact, I was thinking of having another, in a new flavor-”
“Forget that, Crockett. You can’t fill up when there’s still so much to do,” Harvey said, suddenly standing up. “Alright, boys, time to earn our money back. This place has a got a gourmet buffet fit for a king, so don’t hold back.”
“As if!” 90s Kid cried, hurrying off after the singer. Dan took his time collecting his dishes and returning them to a grateful waiter, and by the time he arrived in the galley, his fiancé was already on his fourth slice of pancetta pizza.“This stuff’s even better than bacon-you gotta try some!”
“With this caliber of food, I guess we’ll have no need for the trail mix I made,”Dan said as he loaded his own tray with a few more soda floats.
“No offense, Crockett, but nothing you brought could taste better than this foie gras slider,” Harvey moaned. “I don’t even like foie gras but I can’t… stop eating it… mmm...”
“None taken,” Dan replied as he plopped down beside 90s Kid.
“Whoa,” 90s Kid muttered softly as he watched Dan slurp down one of the desserts in about a minute. “Dude, doesn’t that give you brain freeze?”
“I think that part of my mouth is too numb to be affected by it,” Dan explained.
“Oh. Cool?” 90s Kid wasn’t sure how to take that, but he did frown when he saw Dan reach for the next glass. “Uh, maybe you should take it easy a little. I know we’re on a trip and we’re going a little overboard, but maybe that’s too far overboard with the sugar.”
Dan licked a bit of whipped cream from his lips and smiled at 90s Kid. “Sorry to worry you, sweetie. It’s just so good, and I don’t want Harvey’s money going to waste.”
“Hey, nothing I buy is ever a waste,” Harvey insisted.
“I don’t think Linkara would agree with that,” 90s Kid murmured.
“Eh, what he don’t know won’t hurt him… or me.” 90s Kid let out a snort which Harvey ignored. “But enough of that kinda talk. Now that we’re full, let’s hit up a show or two!”
“Are they long shows?” Dan wondered as he checked his Swatch. “I was hoping we could spend some time on the lake.”
“Jet-skis!” 90s Kid cheered in agreement.
“Sure, sure, we got plenty of time for that,” Harvey insisted. “But we can’t leave here without hearing the Majestic Meadowlarks-they’re the premiere swing band this side of the Mississippi!”
“Well that sounds fun,” Dan said with a nod. “Let’s pop by a show then.”
One show turned into two, which turned into a tour of the ship by the captain himself, which turned into dinner and a show. By the time the ship arrived back at the docks, the sun was setting and a cool breeze had settled over the area. 90s Kid and Harvey spent their time babbling amicably about their afternoon as they departed down the gangplank, while Dan trod along silently behind them.
“Did you see the size of those pistons, dude? I can’t believe the captain let us into the engine room like that!”
“I thought you’d enjoy that, Junior. Maybe you could talk the Kid into adding one into our transportation repertoire.”
“Pfff yeah right, as if Linkara would ever buy something cool like that. He’d never let us spend our money a steamboat or a speedboat or a jet ski-” 90s Kid’s eyes suddenly went wide. “Jet ski! Oh man, I totally forgot! And now it’s all dark and junk!”
“Relax, Junior, you got all day tomorrow to zip around the lake.”
“Oh, right.” 90s Kid turned back to face Dan. “Don’t forget to remind me about this tomorrow, dude.” He waited for Dan to respond. “Dude?” Again, no response. “Dan, are you listening to me?”
“Huh?” At the sound of his name Dan blinked and shook his head, focusing directly on the teen. “Sorry, Kid, did you say something?”
“I told you to remind me about the jet skis tomorrow.”
“Oh, sure thing, sweetie.”
“You say that, but you totally forgot to remind me today, Dan,” 90s Kid said in a teasing tone.
Dan nodded along. “That I did. I hope you can forgive me.”
“Uh, I was kidding, Dan.”
“Oh. Good one, Kid.”
90s Kid frowned and stopped once he set foot on the pier, waiting for Dan to reach him so he could walk beside him.
“You okay?” he asked in a softer tone, as if he didn’t want Harvey to hear him.
Dan blinked before nodding again.
“Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?”
90s Kid shrugged.
“I dunno, you just kinda seem weird right now. Like, you’re so quiet and junk.”
“I’m just… hungry,” Dan replied.
“Hungry? After that dinner? Didn’t you get doubles on everything?”
“Yeah, right. Sorry, I meant I’m tired.
“Tired, Crockett?” Harvey suddenly piped in, having slowed down so he could catch back up with the two.“Well don’t worry, because there’s a whole load of relaxing spa treatments we can pamper ourselves with. I’m hankering for a seaweed wrap and a shiatsu massage myself.”
Dan hesitated before glancing over at Harvey.
“Were there, uh, any actual camping activities you were interested in trying Harvey? Maybe going on a nature hike or a canoe ride by moonlight or maybe... building a campfire?”
Harvey’s eyebrows rose slightly and he rubbed his chin.
“Gee, hadn’t thought about doing anything like that, but eh, sure, after a day like today I could do with a little less glam in this glamping trip.”
“Really?” Dan asked, a bit more eagerly than he’d intended.
“Say, Finevoice!” One of their neighbors in a cabin with a rooftop bowling alley waved as the three approached their domicile. “Word round these parts is that you never back down from a challenge!”
“I’d say that word is good!” Harvey shouted back.
“Care to put that word to the test?”
A cocky grin slid across the singer’s face.
“Why, you thinking about losing some money to me?”
“I’m thinking about kicking your ass on the karaoke floor!” the man shouted back.
Harvey let out a guffaw so loud it caused a pair of birds to fly out of a nearby bush. “
You gotta be pulling my leg! You think these golden pipes can be beaten by ones covered in rust? I could beat you without even opening my mouth!”
“Wouldn’t that be a delight!” the man teased in response. “Tonight, 8 o’clock, it’s my girls versus your boys!”
“You’re on!” Harvey turned excitedly towards the two. “I mean, if that’s alright with you two. This is your weekend too, after all.”
“Oh, I am totally there!” 90s Kid agreed, his prior concern flooded with excitement as he looked to Dan. Sensing their exuberance, Dan brightly nodded at the pair.
“How could I ever let my two favorite guys down?”
“If you’re not feeling up to it, Crockett, you can turn in early.”
“Of course I’m up to it. I can feel that second wind coming on right now.”
It was a battle for the ages, where Harvey and 90s Kid sang their hearts out to song after song. Dan battled as well, though his singing wasn’t quite as loud or joyful as usual, even when participating in a duet with 90s Kid.The moon was high in the sky by the time they headed back to their cabin, and everyone was yawning, but Harvey and 90s Kid were still in amazingly high spirits.
“There’s no better way to end a day then by letting your pipes shine and earning a sweet prize to boot.”
“I really thought they had us when they pulled out that ‘Beatles’ medley but then you knocked ‘em out with your Sinatra session!”
“Never forget, boys-nobody beats ol’ Blue Eyes.”
“Well, I mean, Kurt Cobain could probably-”
“Junior, I’m gonna stop you before you finish that sentence.”
“Fine, whatever. We both know the real truth anyway.”
“That we do.” Harvey unlocked the door and let out an enormous yawn. “Alright, it’s time for me to hit the hay. Don’t stay up too late either, because we’ve still got a full day ahead of us tomorrow.”
“We won’t!” 90s Kid promised, Dan nodding in agreement. “Night, dude!”
“Sweet dreams, kids.”
While 90s Kid took his time changing into pajamas and brushing his teeth, Dan speedily shed his clothes and slipped into bed. He rolled over onto his side and closed his eyes, trying to will himself to sleep. Eventually 90s Kid climbed in beside him, still talkative despite the incessant yawns which peppered his words.
“What an awesome day. I know you were, like, totally worried about making sure Harvey was having a good time, but we should’ve figured he’d pick the most perfect spot for us all to hang.”
“You certainly seem to be reveling in everything this place has to offer.”
“And you’re not?” Though 90s Kid had been joking, he noticed how Dan didn’t respond.“Dude, you okay? You’re like...quiet.”
“I’m fine, Kid. I’m just tired from all the activities we did today,” Dan said, shifting slightly so that he could snuggle into his pillow. “I’m sure I’ll be back to my usual self in the morning.”
90s Kid frowned, feeling a bit uneasy, but decided to accept what Dan had told him.
“Okay, dude. I’m sure sleep will help us both feel rad.” 90s Kid gently reached out and wrapped his arms around Dan from behind, squeezing tightly. “I love you, Dan.”
90s Kid felt relieved when Dan placed his hands atop the teen’s and snuggled against him.
“I love you too, Kid.”
The next morning, after a heavenly breakfast of eggs Benedict, bacon, and French toast, 90s Kid finally achieved his dream. He rode across the water on a jet ski so fast that he left waves reaching almost four-foot-high in his wake. Fortunately, there were no other swimmers or canoers on the water at that time, or ever as it seemed the residents of Majestic Meadows cared more about being seen beside the lake than actually enjoying it, and he was free to drive to his heart’s content. “
He’s getting pretty good at that.” From atop his chaise lounge chair at the end of the pier Harvey smiled proudly as he watched 90s Kid on his beloved jet ski. He lifted a fruity drink sporting a little umbrella and took a sip before glancing at his side. “If only he were this skilled at driving a car, eh Crockett?”
Dan, who was sitting on a lounge chair beside Harvey and munching on some extra bacon left over from breakfast, politely nodded in response. Just as he finished swallowing the last of it, Dan sighed as a fine mist of warm water fell over him, an indication that 90s Kid had steered his vehicle directly toward the dock.
“Dudes, this is the most awesome day ever!” he cheered as he beamed at the two. “Come on, you gotta try this!”
“Thanks for the offer, Junior, but I’m happy just watching you have fun,” Harvey replied.
“Aw come on, man, live a little.”
“Hey, I’ve spent more years on the sea than you’ve been alive, so I’ve already done my time.”
“Lame,” 90s Kid muttered, flashing a playful grin at the singer before he turned to Dan. “Okay, dude, guess you’re up.”
“Oh, sweetie, I don’t think I can drive one of those. I tried once before, but I was extremely intoxicated and ended up plowing into a weekend beach barbecue,” Dan said as he licked the last bits of salt from his fingertips.
“You don’t have to drive then, just hold on to me and come along for the ride.”
“I don’t know,” Dan hesitated, though when he saw the pitiful expression crossing 90s Kid’s face he relented. “Alright, you know I can’t resist it when you look at me like that. Let me just grab a life jacket.”
Once he was ready, Dan gingerly settled onto the slightly damp seat behind the teen, wiggling his body a bit until he felt comfortable.
“Just hold on to me.” 90s Kid waited until he felt Dan’s arms around him and then he smiled.
Without warning he started the jet ski and shot away from the dock, causing Dan to yelp and cling more tightly to him, which had been 90s Kid’s most desired outcome.
Even though Dan had been hesitant at first, he quickly found himself enjoying the cool wind whipping against his face as they zoomed across the lake at a speed he found very entertaining. Before he even realized it, he was laughing and urging 90s Kid to go faster still, his grip around the younger man tightening not out of fear but excitement.
“Come on, Kid, floor it! I wanna see just what this baby can do!”
“You got it, dude!”
Dan whooped and let out another laugh as they sped up yet again, kicking his feet into the air and raising his arms like a child who’d just eaten a pound of sugar. He might have been just a tad too excited, though, since he ended up lifting them just as 90s Kid was sharply turning to avoid hitting a buoy. The force of the sudden turn sent Dan flying towards the right and he plunged directly into the water.
“Dan!” 90s Kid cried, quickly steering the jet ski in the direction he’d fallen. He was on the verge of hopping off the vehicle to collect Dan when the older man’s head popped above the waves with a smile still on his face, and only a small amount of water in his lungs.
He coughed a few times as 90s Kid pulled him back onto the jet ski but managed to say, “That was indeed totally awesome, Kid.”
“Yeah, awesome,” 90s Kid muttered, more concerned with patting Dan’s back until he stopped coughing for good. “You okay, Dan?”
“I am totally fine, sweetie.” Dan leaned forward and kissed 90s Kid to prove it. “Just let me get a grip on you again and we can get back to it.”
“Or we could get back to the dock,” 90s Kid suggested. “I think I’ve had my fill of jet skis for now.”
“You sure, Kid? Because I wouldn’t mind another ride like that,” Dan said, his eyes truly lit up for the first time since they’d arrived at Majestic Meadows. 90s Kid hated to quash Dan’s excitement but he hated the thought of him being injured more, so with reluctance he nodded.
“Yeah, I’m sure. Besides, it’s almost lunch time and I wanna fuel up before Harvey lets us know what he’s got planned for us next.”
At the mention of Harvey’s name Dan’s expression fell slightly and his smile became a touch forced.
“Right you are. Let us get back quickly then, since I can feel my stomach rumbling already.”
Instead of returning to the cabin for lunch, Harvey decided to take the boys on a stroll along the pier. They visited every stall they came across, sampling whatever freebies were offered to them, or purchasing the ones that weren’t. Harvey’s credit card got more mileage than one would expect from a weekend camping trip and by the time they’d visited every stall, it was practically smoking from overuse.
“Remind me to pick up the mail before the Kid has a chance to see the bills,” he told 90s Kid, who nodded in promise. “Now, uh-say, where’s Crockett?”
“Over there?” 90s Kid gestured behind Harvey, to a small rental stall where various types of watercraft could be acquired. Dan was admiring the selection and looked up in surprise when the others approached him.
“Oh, sorry for wondering off like that. I just noticed these canoes and wanted to get a better look. But I’m done, now, so we can leave.”
“Hold on, now, we’re in no rush,” Harvey said as he began to admire the boats as well. “Are you kids in the mood for a boat ride?”
Dan tried not to look too excited.
“Well, I don’t want to push anyone into anything, but honestly I’d really like-”
“Whoa, hold on a sec!” 90s Kid’s expression had changed to one of disbelief as he stared down at his phone. “Harvey-dude! You know how yesterday this place was a nest for Vulpix?”
“Well the game updated and now it’s a nest for Wailmers! I totally just caught three and there are still six more all around here!”
“Wailmers? I’ve been dying to get my hands on a Shiny for months now!”
“Well you better hurry then, or I’ll catch one first!”
“Not a chance, Junior! I’ve beaten you to every Shiny Pokémon released and this’ll be no different!”
“You’re on, dude!”
As 90s Kid and Harvey scampered back off down the pier, Dan watched them silently before sparing one last glance at the boat rental stall.
“Maybe next time.”
“Little lower... little lower... ahhh, that’s the spot.”
Harvey let out an incredibly loud, incredibly satisfied sigh as the skilled hands of the masseuse dug into his hamstring. “That’s an injury I got back in the war... don’t ask which one, because a gentleman never reveals his age.”
Dan let out a small chuckle from the table beside Harvey, which was the most noise he had made throughout the duration of this experience. Usually he was always in the mood for a good massage, and this was one of the better one’s he’d experienced in his life, but Dan found he couldn’t appreciate it as much as he ought to.
“You seem to have quite a few knots here,” the friendly young woman who was working on his back mentioned. “Are you having trouble relaxing, sir?”
“Oh, no, I’m fine,” Dan said, glancing over to see if Harvey had heard. “Don’t worry about it.”
She frowned in response.
“Sir, is there anything I can do to help make this experience more enjoyable for you? I don’t think I’ll be able to help you if you can’t relax.”
“Something wrong, Crockett?” Harvey asked, his voice somewhat muffled.
Unsure if he could up the ruse any longer, Dan secured the towel around his waist and stood up.
“No, everything’s great, Harvey. I’m feeling as fresh as a summer day! In fact, I think I’ll head downstairs and spread this exuberance to Kid.”
“Ahhhhh good idea,” Harvey murmured, once again lost in a blissful world of his own.“He needs some cheering up since I… beat him to that Shiny Wailmer…”
Dan hurried into the bedroom he shared 90s Kid and quickly changed before heading downstairs. Following an audible trail of familiar blips and beeps led him to 90s Kid, who was parked in front of an old-fashioned arcade machine.
“Give me two minutes, dude, I almost got the high score!”
Dan walked behind 90s Kid and watched over his shoulder as the teen maneuvered Q*Bert through a cavalcade of obstacles before finally wiping out.
“Aww, bummer. But I totally had the high score before I lost!” 90s Kid announced gleefully as he entered his initials into the machine. “So what do you say, Dan? I got way more quarters, and I’m totally up for a rematch if you wanna try to beat me!”
Normally Dan loved 90s Kid’s challenges, and that adorable, excited grin that came with them, but right then he just couldn’t bring himself to focus on games, even one that was one of his favorites from the 80s.
“I think I’m good for now, Kid. I’m not really in the mood for this kind of game,” Dan said as casually as possible, sliding his hands into his pockets.
90s Kid frowned a little, noticing right away that Dan didn’t seem quite right, but just as soon as that look came it disappeared and his smile was back again.
“Okay, dude, no problem. How about we do play some Air Hockey instead? I’m totally the greatest at it, but if you actually manage to beat me, I can totally make it worth your while.” 90s Kid bent close to Dan’s ear and lowered his voice to a whisper.
In spite of himself, Dan shuddered. He never had been able to resist a temptation of that nature, especially not when 90s Kid was the one offering, and he quickly found himself nodding.
“You’re on, Kid. But don’t think I’ll go easy on you.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
90s Kid looked confident as he took his place at one end of the table, so Dan flashed him a cocky smile to show he was anything but scared of him. He picked up his paddle, taking a moment to get used to the feeling of it in his hand since he hadn’t played for quite some time, and watched as the puck hurtled down the field and directly into his goal. He winced at the loud clinking sound this produced before collecting the disc from the slot and looking bemusedly at 90s Kid.
“I thought you’d warn me before you started.”
90s Kid scoffed.
“You should always be prepared around me, dude. You know I go at everything hardcore!”
“How silly of me to forget.” Dan dropped the puck back onto the table, narrowed his eyes, and with a flick of his wrist sent it careening away from him, directly into 90s Kid’s goal. He chuckled when he saw the surprise on his fiancé’s face. “Haven’t I ever told you about the many days after school I spent slamming the old disc around, sweetie?”
“Nope. But it’s cool, cuz I like learning new things about you, Dan. “
A small smile slid across Dan’s face and his eyes softened, but not enough to miss the puck whizzing toward his side of the table. He quickly deflected it back and soon the two were engaged in a fierce battle, never letting the other get more than two points ahead. As Dan grew more absorbed into the match, his lips naturally started curling upwards and he began laughing with every goal he made.
“You’re on the ropes now, Kid!”
“Hardly, dude! I’m gonna score on you so totally hard your head will spin!”
“An enticing prospect, but let’s save that kind of talk for the bedroom, sweetie.”
Dan laughed yet again as he noticed 90s Kid flinch in response, clearly unaware of how his words had sounded, and he used the distraction to score another goal.
“I’m just one point away from victory. Why don’t you surrender now, Kid, and make this easy for both of us,” he taunted, knowing the teen would never back down.
“As if, dude. That’s just what you’ve been waiting for... or maybe you’ve been waiting for something else entirely.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that there’s been something bugging you this whole trip and I don’t get what it is.”
Dan froze at these words, allowing the puck to easily slide into his goal. He silently reached down to collect it but clenched it tightly in his fist instead of returning it to the table.
“I don’t know what you mean, Kid. This has a been a perfectly pleasant and very fun outing.”
“Yeah, it has,” 90s Kid agreed, tossing his paddle onto the table.“So why haven’t you been enjoying it?”
Dan looked down.
“I... I am...”
He trailed off as 90s Kid walked around the table, resting his hands on top of his shoulders.
“No, you’re not, Dan,” he said softly. “I know when something’s up with you. You’ve been so weird all weekend and I wanna know why. Actually no, it’s been longer than that,” 90s Kid realized. “Ever since you made the suggestion to go camping, you’ve been different and I couldn’t get why. Look, I’m not mad at you or anything, dude,” he reassured him, “I just wanna understand what’s up. Why were you so happy before and what’s making you feel so bad now?”
Dan trembled a little in 90s Kid’s grip, leaning against his fiance’s chest for support. 90s Kid knew him better than anyone else ever could, better than he knew himself sometimes. He should have known better than to think he could have hidden his real feelings from him.
“It’s...it’s not that I wanted to hide anything from you, Kid, it’s just...” Dan trailed off again and seem to choke slightly, sighing and calming down as 90s Kid hugged him tightly to his body.
“Dan, it’s okay. I don’t think you were hiding anything on purpose. I’m just worried about you and I want to know what’s bothering you.”
Dan straightened up and looked up timidly into 90s Kid’s eyes, managing to hold his gaze since 90s Kid’s embrace always gave him comfort.
“I don’t mean to be ungrateful, Kid, I know that Harvey is doing everything he can to make sure we’re enjoying ourselves out here, but I’m really… I’m just not having a good time here,” Dan said, shame dripping off every word and overwhelming every sense in his body. “I guess when I suggested going camping, I had a very different idea about what this trip was going to be. I wanted it to be like the first time I went.”
“I thought you said you never went camping before,” 90s Kid softly wondered.
“It was only once.” Dan sounded very small and quiet.“I don’t even remember how old I was. But I do remember staring out the back window of my dad’s Cadillac and into a whole forest of greens and browns. I remember the smell of his coffee, heated up over our rickety campfire, and the feel of the fishing pole in my hands as I managed to reel in my first catch ever. I remember him teaching me to toast marshmallows and pointing out the patch of Poison Ivy so I wouldn’t walk into it… and I remember him smiling at me. A real, genuinely warm smile. One of only two I ever received from him…”
Dan paused to collect himself while 90s Kid gave him a supportive squeeze.
“It’s really amazing how much I can remember about that day,” he continued, his voice quavering slightly. “It was only one day, after all-my Dad got called into work later on so we had to leave early. But I still remember every detail from that trip and I so wanted to take another. I kept on asking my dad about it, every weekend it seemed, but he always had the same answer for me. Maybe next time, Dan. Maybe next time.” Dan’s smile turned bitter. “Next time never would come, as it turned out. The next time he found himself with a free schedule, he’d discovered I wasn’t the sort of son he wanted, and I’d discovered he wasn’t much of a father at all, let alone a decent human being. I wouldn’t have gone with me even if he had asked…”
Dan looked down and felt the ache from scars that would never quite heal, before forcing himself look back up again.
“I’m really sorry, Kid. I’m being so selfish and stupid right now. It doesn’t matter if this is different from what I was picturing. I should just be happy that you and Harvey are having a good time. Father’s Day is supposed to be about him, and I shouldn’t be bringing down your mood with my own stupid problems.”
90s Kid leaned down to press several kisses atop Dan’s head.
“Your problems are not stupid, Dan,”he murmured into the smaller man’s hair. Even though he enjoyed the sensation, Dan shook his head at that assertion.
“Come on, Kid, have you actually thought about what I’m saying? ‘Oh no, a great guy has taken me and the person I love most out for a weekend of pampering and fun’. Yeah, I’ve got a lot to complain about.” Dan sighed and looked down but allowed 90s Kid to gently tilt his chin up a moment later.
“But that’s not what you’re saying, dude. We all agreed to go on a camping trip, but that’s not what we ended up doing. It’s okay to not be happy cuz things didn’t go how you wanted them to.”
“The two of you are happy though and that should be enough,” Dan insisted.“I have no reason to feel otherwise.”
“But the trip was for the three of us, Dan. Your feelings matter too, especially to me.”
Dan knew he would lose himself if he remained in that warm embrace, so he wriggled away and stared up at 90s Kid with a serious expression.
“I know you’re just looking out for me, Kid, and I love you for always doing that for me, but the weekend’s almost over, and I don’t want to bring Harvey down like I’ve done with you.”
“But you’re not-” 90s Kid tried to say, though Dan wouldn’t give him the chance.
“Please, Kid, just keep this between us and let Harvey enjoy the rest of the trip. He hasn’t noticed anything odd about me and I’d like it to stay that way. When we get home, we can talk about this more if you’d like, but for now let’s not ruin the weekend. Please.”
90s Kid hated hearing the desperation in Dan’s voice so he gave a reluctant nod.
“Okay, fine, I won’t say anything. But I totally don’t agree with this.”
“Thank you.” Dan laid a hand on 90s Kid’s neck and gently pulled him down for kiss before he glanced at a clock on the wall. “Harvey said to start dinner without him, since he’s getting the full relaxation treatment, but I’m not really hungry. You go ahead and eat, Kid. I think I’ll just take a soak in the hot tub for a while.”
“Oh, uh, okay. See ya later, dude.” 90s Kid looked disappointed to see Dan leave, but he allowed him to go without protest. Once alone in the room, 90s Kid took a long look at the gadgetry and impeccable décor surrounding him before plopping back down in front of the Q*Bert machine. If he’d only looked a little harder, he would have noticed a tall figure in a dark suit silently slipping out of the doorframe.
Dan gave a long sigh as he eased into the tub of steaming hot water. A part of him felt better while he sat there in the Jacuzzi, the bubbles and jets doing wonders at soothing his skin, but it was far from enough to take the weight of worry off his mind. Dan still felt very ashamed of himself, despite 90s Kid’s attempts to soothe his fears.
“I shouldn’t have said anything,” he muttered. “I shouldn’t have even come.”
Knowing he was heading down a path which would be difficult to return from, Dan eventually settled for clearing his mind of thoughts entirely and focusing only on how good the hot water felt on his body. After a half hour, he climbed out and wrapped himself in a towel so he wouldn’t overheat, made his way into the bedroom, and fell asleep.
Sometime later, Dan wasn’t sure exactly how long, he awoke from what had ended up being a relatively deep nap. He yawned and stretched his arms out over his head before bringing the one bearing his beloved Swatch in front of his face. It was well past dinner time and a glance out the window revealed that the sun was just about to disappear beneath the horizon. A rumble in his stomach alerted Dan that he needed to fill it, hopefully with something relatively healthy for a change, so he ran a comb quickly through his hair and practiced smiling a few times before he headed downstairs.
Dan had expected to find Harvey and 90s Kid chatting away in the kitchen over the remnants of whatever gourmet meal they had chosen that evening, but instead he found the room dark and empty.
“Kid?” he called out as he wandered through the cabin. “Harvey? You guys upstairs?”
A quick search revealed that they were not, so Dan decided to head elsewhere. He opened the front door and poked his head outside, hoping to hear Harvey’s dulcet tones from one of the neighboring cabins, but all was silent that night. Dan decided to take a walk around the area as he continued his search, when a sudden flickering of light from amidst the trees caught his attention. He stopped to stare at the dancing flames, only barely visible amidst the foliage, before a familiar voice jolted him forward.
“What’d I tell you, Junior? Third time’s always the charm.”
“More like eighth, dude.”
“Eh, who’s keeping count. Come on, hand me one of those sticks so we can get this weenie roast started.”
“Sure thing, dude! I’m totally starved from all that work!”
Confused as to what was happening, Dan weaved his way through the shrubbery and hopped over rocks until he found himself in a moderate-sized clearing. The sounds of the lake lapping against the rocky shore could be clearly heard and the air smelled of fresh pine needles and charred wood, which burned ever brighter as the sky continued to darken. Dan turned his gaze from the brilliant fire to the pair of familiar tents staked into the ground around it, and then to the two men sitting atop two familiar sleeping bags, who looked up from their attempts at roasting hot dogs with matching smiles.
“You’re early, Crockett. I was gonna have Junior fetch you once dinner was ready.”
“I carved this stick for you, Dan! Come sit next to me.”
Dan’s shock melted away into something a bit harder to read and he crossed his arms before shooting a stern look at 90s Kid.
“I thought we had an understanding, Kid. I never believed you could break a promise.”
90s Kid paled and his mouth fell open. “Wha-what? Wait, Dan, I-I-”
“Junior didn’t say one word.” Harvey lit up his e-cigarette and took a long puff. “I came up with this idea all on my own.”
Dan’s gaze moved to him.
“You overheard us,” he stated rather than asked.
“I might not be the fastest cat around, but I still get around where I need to.”
Harvey blew out a ring of vapor while Dan looked down, shame overwhelming him.
“Look, Harvey, I-I didn’t want this.”
Harvey arched an eyebrow.
“Ain’t that exactly what you wanted? A camping trip with me and Junior?”
“I mean I know it’s not what you wanted.”
“I wanted a fun trip with my two boys,” Harvey said, slowly rising to his feet. “I wanted one weekend where I could make you two as happy as you make me every single day. I never cared what we did, Crockett-the only important thing to me was you two.” Harvey stood before Dan, his eyes warm but sad. “I just wish I’d realized sooner how important this was for you.”
Dan hung his head, his voice lowering to a whisper.
“I didn’t want to feel like this. It’s so stupid... I really did appreciate everything you did for us... I just feel so stupid now...”
Dan fell silent when Harvey touched his shoulder.
“I know it can be hard to ask for things you don’t feel you deserve. But you were asking all along, and I shoulda been better at listening to you. I’m really sorry, Dan.”
Harvey smiled as Dan pulled him into a hug before embracing him in return. Eventually Dan pulled back, and this time a genuine smile was brightening up his face.
“I-I think that was enough of a feel-good moment. Why don’t we get back to dinner before the friendly meadow critters come out to join us.”
“Smart thinking, Crockett.”
While Harvey took a few more drags, Dan took a seat right beside 90s Kid.
“Here, dude. I roasted these two already, so dig in,” he said, offering Dan a plate with some delicious smelling dogs.
“Thanks, Kid.” 90s Kid was about to turn away when Dan grabbed his hand and pulled him close. “Sorry for earlier,” he muttered. “I know you would never do that to me. I’ve really been such an idiot lately.”
90s Kid easily slid into the embrace, relieved that everything was finally feeling right again at last.
“You’re not an idiot, Dan. I totally get why you assumed that and I’m not mad at you. Let’s just try to relax and have fun now, okay?”
Dan still felt ashamed and clung to 90s Kid harder.
“But you’ve always been someone I can trust and I shouldn’t have-”
90s Kid kissed Dan to shut him up and lowered his sunglasses so he could look into his eyes.
“I know, Dan. I promise you, it’s okay. I’m just happy you’re finally being honest with me.Just promise me you’ll always tell me what you’re really thinking and feeling, okay?”
“Of course.”Dan nodded and let all his remaining doubt fall away before eagerly biting into his hot dog and relishing the savory, smoky taste. “Mmm, that’s good!”
Harvey and 90s Kid did the same, both nodding in agreement.
“I’ll say, Crockett. There’s nothing like food cooked over an open fire. I should have been listening to you right from the start.” Dan blushed and quickly took another bite.Soon the conversation turned to more light-hearted topics and the atmosphere grew as warm and cozy as the campfire. Once they’d finished eating and cleaning their dishes in the lake,90s Kid set to work arranging several sticks laden with marshmallows around the fire, while the other two laid back on their sleeping bags and looked up at the stars, admiring the many constellations and patterns strewn across the sky.
“It really is a beautiful night,” Dan murmured, soaking in as much of the sight as he could. “When I was young, I grew up in the city, and you couldn’t see the stars at night. Getting to actually look at them like this has always been something I’ve dreamed about.”
Harvey chuckled, looking up at the stars with the same wistful look in his eyes.
“I grew up in the city too, so I get what you’re laying down. It’s real nice to be able to slow down and just take a look at where you are in the world. Being out here, realizing how small we are, and how big the universe is, really makes you think about your life and what makes it special… like having two good boys who make every day an adventure and have become two of the brightest lights in my life.”
Dan kept his gaze lowered but he nodded along at Harvey’s words.
“I feel like that too. I have so many things in my life now to help keep me going and I’m... so happy that you’re one of them, Harvey.”
“Who wants s’mores?” Harvey chuckled as 90s Kid offered a plate of gooey cookies to him.
“I guess I can always count on you to keep the mood light, Junior,”Harvey replied as he took the smallest s’more from the pile.
90s Kid stuffed two into his mouth before glancing at Dan.
“How’s yours coming, dude?”
“I almost have my marshmallow at the perfect texture,” Dan muttered, his eyes fixated on the smoldering black substance on the end of his stick.
“Oh yuck, it’s totally burnt,” 90s Kid said, sticking out his tongue in disapproval.
Dan chuckled and took a bite of the blackened confection.
“Mmm. It tastes just as good as it did 20 years ago.”
“Ugh, your teeth look black too. You’re not kissing me again until you brush that junk off,” 90s Kid muttered as he finished his third s’more.
Dan’s eyebrows rose slightly before his grin turned playful. “Is that a challenge? Then, accepted.”
“Huh? No, I wasn’t-ah! You stay away from me! Nooo!” While 90s Kid shrieked as Dan chased him all around the meadow, Harvey took in a deep breath of clean lake air before laying back on his sleeping bag with a peaceful sigh. He watched as they tired themselves out before they returned to the campsite and crawled into their own sleeping bags.
“Alright, kids, time to turn in. We’ve got a busy morning ahead of us.”
“We do?” Dan asked in surprise. “What’s going on?”
“Oh, just a few more activities no camping trip should be without. I wanna make the most of our time here, so we’re getting up bright and early.”
“Bummer,” 90s Kid muttered. He then glanced at Dan. “But it’s cool. I can get up early once in a while... just once... but I can totally do it.”
“Thanks, Kid.” Dan reached out an arm from his sleeping bag and wrapped his hand around 90s Kid’s, the two holding tightly to each other as they drifted off. Harvey gazed at them both with a fond smile until he too joined them in slumber.
The sun was bright overhead as long ripples ran through the lake, trailing behind 90s Kid and Dan’s eager paddling of the canoe Harvey had rented for the day. 90s Kid had been so excited to spend yet another day in a water vehicle that he’d almost toppled the boat right over merely climbing into it; judging by the speed of his paddling, that wasn’t an out of the question scenario now either.
“Whoa, Junior! Let’s be careful now! This suit is dry-clean only!” Harvey called out a bit desperately, though his voice was filled with exhilaration as well.
“Sorry, Harvey-dude! I just never realized how awesome boats are!” 90s Kid said, managing slowing his pace so he could speak to the singer. Dan took in a few breaths and, having just given his arms a detailed workout from trying to keep up with 90s Kid, slowed his paddle with relief.
“I’m glad I got an energy boost from Harvey’s pancakes this morning,” Dan said once he got his breath back. “I have no idea what you put in those things, but they make me feel ready for anything!”
Harvey laughed and let his hand trail along in the water as they floated along.
“I might tell you two the recipe one day when you’re older. Trust me, I put something special in ‘em that nobody will ever guess.”
“I bet I can guess it,” 90s Kid said, earning a snort of amusement from Harvey.
“Twenty bucks says you can’t.”
“You’re on! Is it cinnamon?”“Feh, how pedestrian. Anyone can put cinnamon in a pancake.”
“This is gonna be the easiest money I ever made. Karaoke was tougher than this, Junior.”
While they two continued their guessing game, Dan continued to paddle with a bright expression. It had been quite the surprise for Dan and 90s Kid to wake up to Harvey flipping a pan of his world-famous pancakes over the campfire. Dan had been the slightest bit worried that the singer would have regretted his decision to ditch his down-comforted bed for a night on the ground but Harvey had been in great spirits all day. After their delicious breakfast, he’d organized a pleasant hike through the woods which allowed them to pass by beautiful rock formations, majestic trees, and many adorable woodland creatures. It was unfortunate thatsaid walk had been cut short thanks to a run-in with a family of skunks, but the three had gotten their fill of the meadows by that point anyway. Besides, it had given Dan and 90s Kid a good laugh to see just how quickly Harvey could move when necessary.
“This could go on forever, Junior. Why don’t you just pay me now and save yourself the trouble.”
“Fine, but I’m not giving up,” 90s Kid declared as he handed over the cash. “One day I will figure it out without you having to tell me.” Harvey shook his head in amusement and pocketed his winnings, while 90s Kid paused to wipe some sweat from his brow. ‘Whew, I’m getting toasted out here.”
Dan glanced over at him and the two shared a knowing look.
“You thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Last one in has to make lunch!”
The two frantically started ripping off their shirts and shoes before they stood up and quickly jumped into the lake.
“Hey, careful!” Harvey cried, gripping tightly to the sides of the suddenly rocking vehicle. “What did I say about this suit!”
“Hey, don’t splash me!” Dan laughed, shielding himself from 90s Kid’s onslaught and trying to get in some return shots.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, dude! I’m just helping you enjoy all of the lake!”
While the two kept up their playing, Harvey settled back into a comfortable position in the canoe, watching his boys as they frolicked around. He reached into the cooler for a soda and snapped it open, sipping it as he thought about everything that had happened over the last few days. Watching Dan as he was having so much fun playing with 90s Kid in the water made his chest swell with joy. He was a good kid-they both were-and Harvey knew he was the luckiest man on Earth to have them.
“Ah!” Dan suddenly cried out as strong arms suddenly tugged him underwater. 90s Kid laughed and waited for him to reappear, which he swiftly did.
“Hey, you two, no rough-housing!” Harvey called out. “Don’t make me turn this canoe around!”
“Sorry!” 90s Kid yelled back before swimming over to Dan. “You okay dude? Sorry if that was too much.” He embraced Dan, who smiled and rested his head against the taller man’s shoulder. “Nah, I’m fine.”
90s Kid closed his eyes and sighed softly, which gave Dan the perfect opportunity to grab him by the shoulders and dunk him under the water.
“Okay, that’s it!” Harvey called out as 90s Kid resurfaced. “Get back in the boat this instant!”
Once again, Dan and 90s Kid shared a knowing look.
“Okay, dude, if that’s what you want. We’re coming!”
Harvey’s eyes started to bulge as both of them tried climbing into the canoe simultaneously, which caused it to rock ferociously back and forth.
“Wait-wait! One at a time! You’re gonna-ahh! If I fall in there you’re both grounded for the rest of the year!”
Dan laughed before releasing his hold on the canoe.
“Okay, I think we’ve done enough, sweetie. Why don’t we just swim back to shore and leave the canoe to Harvey.”
“I guess that’s the only way to keep him and his suit dry,” 90s Kid said before dropping back into the water as well. “Come on, Dan, I’ll race you!”
“No fair, you got a head start!”
As they made their way back to shore, Harvey managed to get his bearings and sat upright once more. He placed one hand over his rapidly beating heart and let out a sigh.
“That was too close for comfort. But don’t worry, baby, Daddy would never let anything happen to you,” he murmured, stroking the lengths of his jacket lovingly. “Now that those knuckle-heads are gone, it’s just you and me... wait, that means I have to paddle back myself. Oh, you rotten kids!” He shook his fist at the two. “When I get back, you’re both gonna get it!”
By the time Harvey finally made it back to shore, he was so exhausted from rowing that 90s Kid and Dan had to carry him back to the he campsite, where they indulged in a delicious lunch of trout, which 90s Kid had caught that morning, and watched the yachts glide gently across the lake. It was the perfect way to spend their last afternoon of the weekend, and once they were finished, Dan and 90s Kid set to work deconstructing their tent. They carryied the rest of their supplies back to the cabin and set to work packing their suitcases, preparing for the journey home.
Harvey had just closed the lid on his suitcase when he heard a soft knock at the door.
“I just wanted to see if you needed any help packing,” Dan asked, poking his head into the well-decorated bedroom. “I figured the rowing must have tired you out and I know you’re not one to travel light, so if there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know.”
Harvey chuckled as he sat on the edge of his bed.
“Well, thanks for the offer, Crockett. I’ll definitely take you up on that. Although shouldn’t I be the one offering to help you carry all those poles and ropes and whatnot?”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. Kid and I can handle them just fine,” Dan reassured him.
Harvey nodded and reached for his e-cigarette on the table beside his bed.
“I was impressed with the caliber of camping equipment your decade produced.”
Dan gave a slightly embarrassed chuckle.
“Thanks. I, uh, made sure to pack all of that stuff somewhere safe just in case I’d have the opportunity to use it again. I’d say it’s in pretty good condition despite its advanced age”
“Hey, no need to feel embarrassed-the same’s been said of me many times.” Harvey smiled as Dan let out a more natural laugh before taking in a deep drag of his e-cig.
“I’m actually feeling really happy,” Dan admitted, taking a step closer to the bed before he looked into Harvey’s eyes. “You don’t know… how much this meant to me, Harvey. How much I-I was hoping I could... one day... do this again.” As Dan took a moment to collect his thoughts, Harvey stood up and placed a hand on his shoulder, urging him to continue. “And I’m sorry about-about before... because I know you were only trying to think of us... and I was being so stupid-”
“Enough apologizing,” Harvey gently interrupted, “and enough of that other nonsense too. I don’t want to hear another bad thingabout yourself again, Dan, you got me? You’re not stupid and you got nothing to be sorry for because this weekend has been one of the best of my life.”
Dan blinked in surprise before nodding, and Harvey smiled once more.
“Sheesh, Crockett, I never knew you could get so tongue-tied. What happened to the confident young man I know and love?”
Dan’s cheeks slowly reddened before he once more drew Harvey into an embrace.
“Don’t worry, he’s still here.” he said softly. “And he loves you too.”
“Ah, home sweet home.” Harvey set down his suitcase and took in a long breath. “French fries and air freshener-truly Mother Nature can’t ever hope to compare with the smells of home.”
“I’m glad to see you all back in one piece,” Linkara greeted as he walked in from the kitchen. “I take it you had fun.”
“We had the most awesome time ever!”
“I wouldn’t mind making this an annual tradition,” Harvey added, catching Dan’s eye and chuckling at the grin that lit up his face.
“I can’t wait to hear all about it,”Linkara said. “Why don’t we talk about it over dinner. I’ve got burgers and fries for everyone.”
“Dude, we’re so there!”
While 90s Kid and Dan hurried into the kitchen, Linkara deftly stepped into Harvey’s path.
“Before we eat, can I have a quick word, hon?”
Harvey’s expression grew amused.
“Boy, Kid, I’m flattered you missed me so much, but can our passionate reunion wait until after dinner?”
“Oh, I don’t think it can,”Linkara said in a low voice. “So why don’t you just close your eyes and wait for a big surprise.”
“Hot dog!” Harvey eagerly did as instructed, pursing his lips instinctively, although he let out a soft shiver when he felt Linkara’s hands sliding around his waist. “I gotta admit, I was not expecting such boldness from you, Kid.”
“Oh, it’s not what you think. I was just pickpocketing you.”
“Ah, you... you what?”
Harvey opened his eyes to find Linkara staring directly at him, his wallet clenched in one hand, a cell phone in the other. “Would you care to explain why I got a call from the credit card company asking about suspicious purchases on your new card? The card you promised to only use for emergencies, Harvey?”
“Uh...” Harvey gulped and took a step backwards. “I swear, Kid, I was doing it for those two. I wanted them to have a good weekend and those were all necessary purchases-”
“You rented a fully-staffed riverboat!”
“Just for the day! If I rented one hourly, it would have been twice the cost!”
“I can’t even believe you’re trying to justify this! You were supposed to be camping! So why am I seeing charges for a masseuse and a manicurist?”
Dan and 90s Kid huddled close to the doorframe, munching on their burgers as the berating continued.
“So how long do you think this will last?”
“Shouldn’t be much longer, Linkara’s face is almost completely red now... and he’s done.”
They quickly separated to allow Linkara to stomp into the kitchen, while Harvey followed meekly after him.
“Say Crockett,” he whispered, “can I borrow that tent for a couple nights? I think I’m gonna need it.”