Freddie could admit that he wasn't exactly thinking , when he decided to haul up Brian and Deaky in their crumbling van and drive directly to Truro. But well, he missed his Roger dearly, and he wanted to see him. It seemed a good idea at the time.
Alas, now that he was standing in the middle of the hallway, surrounded by Roger's extended family, being practically dissected by piercing, calculating gazes, he wasn't so sure any more. And he didn't even get to see Roger yet.
Point is, he knew that Roger didn't come out to his family. Neither did he, for that matter, nor Brian nor Deaky. Times were hard for homosexuals, and the best solution for them all was to remain in the shadows. They had created a new home, for the four of them. A family, in which they could finally be themselves. Unfortunately they could not forget that they have other families, that sometimes demanded their presence home for some kind of commitment. This time it was Roger's father birthday and, even if the blond couldn't stand Michael Taylor as much as his father couldn't stand his son, he relented after the months-long whines of his mother over the phone.
Freddie just wanted to see if his love was alright...
Roger's granny stared at him with blue, deep, eyes, like she could see his soul. Freddie squirmed, awkwardly.
...now he wasn't sure that he would be alright, honestly.
Beside him, Brian stood as stiff as a board, and Deaky was doing a perfect impression of a statue.
He couldn't think of a worst first meeting with his boyfriend's parents – and relatives – that this one. At least everyone, save from the granny, seemed welcoming enough.
Why the hell didn't he stay home?
“Oh, it's a pleasure to meet you, at last! Roger's always talking about you” Winifred, Roger's mother, said with a wide, if a bit strained, smile. Michael was staring down at them, with a judging expression. Probably berating their long hair, or the sleeveless shirt that Brian was sporting. Or maybe Freddie's tight jeans, that had a definitely womanly shape (directly from Biba – woman's section. Why the hell didn't he though about dressing like a bloke for once?).
“Thank you ma'am, we're pleased too. Hope we're not interrupting, though. We just wanted to say hi to Rog giving that Truro's on the way”. Brian, the always polite gentleman, answered for them all.
Freddie was suddenly very grateful to Deaky, the sly boy conjuring a B plan of action if things were going to backfire on them. Which could be very much the case, if the stern expression on Taylor senior was any indication. They already explained about their plan to spend the weekend on a small, picturesque village on the seaside.
“Nonsense, dears, we're very happy to have you here. I must insist for you to stay for dinner” Winifred remarked, with a pleased smile. Freddie swallowed, hard.
“Oh no, there's no need! Our weekend is already planned, ma'am, really” interjected Deaky, to seemingly no avail. Winifred was already planning dinner with a woman that Freddie thought was Roger's aunt. The red haired woman was nodding, eyes on them, a bit unseeing. Probably she needed glasses like Rog and, a real relative of the blond, refused to use them in public.
“I insist. Now give me a moment to prepare the guest rooms... just settle down, boys, come in, come in” Winifred gestured to the living room, Michael still stone faced beside her. God, that was bad.
“We were just about to have tea, you have perfect timing! Clare, dear, help me with the cups, will you? Here... oh, Roger”.
At Winifred statement, Freddie's neck whipped to the right. There he was, his beautiful, perfect boyfriend. Long blond hair messed up in a chaotic fashion and blue eyes wide and stunned. Looking at him with an expression that said what the hell are you doing here? in neon lights. The three guests offered him a sheepish smile.
“Roger, love, would you believe it? Your friends from London came to see you! They missed you” Winifred cooed. Roger's eyes met Freddie's, and the dark haired man had to restrain the urge to kiss the blond's pink lips.
“Roger” Brian said, opening his arms. Roger proceeded to greet them, trying subtly to downing the kissing to a bare minimum. The only one who kinda managed was Deaky.
Roger turned to his family, placing himself in front of his friends like some kind of human shield. The Taylor's family looked back, with various degrees of affection. The most charmed was probably the granny.
“What handsome friends you have in London, dear. Aren't they handsome, Rita?” Roger's mum commented to the redhead. Roger's shoulders stiffened.
“I... I'll take a glass of water” Roger stammered, uneasy. Freddie wanted to beat himself up for making his boyfriend this nervous but, really, the damage was already done. And they still had to tell him that they were invited to dinner.
Again... why didn't he stay home?
Dinner was a huge affair. A big table, with a lot of dishes, water and wine. For the occasion, Winifred had settled the table with the silverware. Roger, seated near his father, could hear his heartbeat rising increasingly at every movement of his friends. Could someone be more obvious?
“Well, now that you are here why don't you stay a couple of days? There's a lot of space, and the seaside is not far away” his mum offered, eyes shifting from Brian to Deaky to Freddie. Roger breath hitched.
“That's a good idea, you can travel around the place, go swimming... there's a lot of pretty girls too” his dad added. Roger, inwardly, snorted.
“Well, if there are girls...” Brian trailed off, putting on a rough, no-bullshit, 'real' man facade. Totally failing, in Roger's opinion. Good Lord, they were hopeless. John nodded to Brian statement, and at least he was more credible. Michael smiled, satisfied. Roger took a deep breath.
“But you have to come to dinner at ours, too. Tell you what, for the occasion, I'll cook” Daniel, Clare's husband, offered. He, a Londoner moved to Cornwall, couldn't pass the opportunity to have someone of the City around. He finished with a smile to Deaky, seated in front of him.
“Mmh, good idea” John murmured, a too heavy look to his brother-in-law direction. Roger's eyes widened, was him fucking serious? They were trying to out him or something? He chanced a glance to Freddie, seated near his mother, to convey his cry for help. The hopeless, and slightly aghast, expression on his boyfriend's face didn't relax him one bit.
“I'll tell you, my husband can't do shit in the kitchen. It's all talk” Clare commented, apparently addressing the whole table. In reality, she was looking directly at John. Roger wanted to scream.
“And, hum, how are you Rog? Did you do something interesting in this past days?” Brian tried to steer the conversation to the other side of the table, and everyone suddenly looked at him. Roger swallowed on nothing.
“I... uh. Had the occasion to clean my room” he said the first thing which popped up in his slightly panicked state. Freddie smirked at that, and the blond had the insane urge to punch him. Michael rolled his eyes.
“And we talked about school and future prospectives. Speaking of which, I would like to hear from you too about Roger's accomplishments in dentistry, he was awfully vague about the topic” his dad asked, addressing Freddie. Roger heart missed a beat. He didn't tell his parents about the changed major from dentistry to biology, and neither about their project to make a living out of music. And Freddie couldn't lie for shit. He better try and win an acting award, or this time Roger would kill him.
“Oh, well, hum, he's... good at it. Very good. Perfect, even” Freddie stammered, totally unconvincingly. Jesus Christ, Roger could just go and take his bags because he was going to be disowned by the end of the day. Michael eyes narrowed, and darted to his son direction. Roger, stubbornly, kept his gaze fixed on the tablecloth.
Meanwhile Deaky's flirtation had become a bit too obvious, because in that moment Clare clapped her hands, loudly, in front of his husband face. The entire table looked at them, leaving the topic of Roger's university achievement alone for now. Small blessing. Clare was unnaturally innocent when she justified her action with 'sorry, a mosquito' , but Roger took the opportunity to throw at John a murderous glare. Deaky sent him back a sheepish, and not-quite-apologetic, nod.
“You know, Roger's going to have a lot of responsibilities in the family business after the graduation” Winifred told them, conspirational. Freddie nodded with a too wide, too fake, smile. Roger rolled his eyes, he gave up, really.
“Oh yes, we have a dentistry study here, in the centre of Truro” Rita, Roger's aunt, added, looking directly at Daniel. Probably trying to address Brian.
“Auntie, a bit more on the right” Daniel informed, usefully. Rita's glaze moved to a nervous Brian. Roger huffed, that wasn't a family, it was a joke.
“It was started by our grandfather, more than twenty years ago” Rita, undeterred, went on with the story, arm raising to probably put more emphasis on the otherwise kinda plain tale. Inadvertently she hit her glass, which fell on Freddie's plate.
In Roger unbiased opinion, the sound wasn't so loud to justify the girly-like scream that Freddie left out. He, anyway, was quite used to the excessive drama of his lover.
Alas, his family was not. On the whole table fell a deep silence. Freddie looked at him, apologetic. Brian's seemed a deer caught in the highlights. Deaky, unperturbed, looked at Daniel. Michael was staring at the three of them, flabbergasted.
Roger sighed. Really, why bother?
“It went well, after all” Freddie commented once they were safely inside the guest room. Deaky huffed.
“Sure, if it wasn't for the flashing light” he remarked, looking at Brian with a slightly reprimanding glare. Brian's brow furrowed.
“The one just upside your head, that said 'fag – fag – fag' in neon” Freddie answered with a barely contained smirk. Brian's eyes widened.
“Are you serious? I was super focused, I didn't give away nothing” he protested, sending to both a narrow-eyed glare. Deaky rolled his eyes.
“You have to chew on your fucking hands, Brian” he said in lieu of an answer. Brian, who was gesticulating, after a beat of silence put his hands in his pockets.
“Well, you're the one to talk! Any moment now and you would have been under the table with Rog's brother-in-law” Brian claimed, pointing at John. The brunet shrugged.
“Well, have you seen him? I couldn't help myself” he agreed easily, efficiently cutting Brian's scolding short. Both turned to Freddie.
“And you could have avoided that girlish performance” John added, to make clear that no one was without liability. It was Freddie's turn to shrug.
“What can I say, that's the real me. I tried to lock him in the car, but without results”. Brian and John shared an incredulous look, what could they answer to that?
They heard the door opening and their blond haired friend entering. Roger closed the door and locked it. The three boys swallowed. Roger turned to them, back leaned on the door, and fixed them with a stern glare.
For a long moment, they were silent. Then...
“Rog, we just...”
“Darling, I wanted...”
“It wasn't my idea.”
Roger cut them all out with a sharp gesture.
“I can't believe it, but you convinced them enough. The only one who asked me which one was my boyfriend was my granny. Speaking of which...” Roger gestured to Freddie, beckoning him near. The dark haired man didn't pass the opportunity to kiss his boyfriend silly when he reached him. Roger kissed back, he couldn't deny he missed his lover too. When their lips parted, Roger offered Freddie a cheeky grin.
“My granny wants to meet you properly. Ready for the most terrifying shovel talk of the century?” the blond asked, placing an arm firmly around his boyfriend waist. Freddie smirked, putting on a brave facade.
“Everything to be considered worthy of you, gorgeous” he answered, covering the blond's mouth with his own for a second time.
All in all, the first meeting with Roger's parents went better than expected. Even if the granny's shovel talk gave Freddie nightmares for a long time.