Marc finds it a little odd and possibly scary with how well his family accepts him being gay. Telling them was one of the most difficult things he’d ever had to do and his parents and brothers just hugged him and told him they loved him and would support him no matter what. His mother with tears in her eyes and Jared hugging him, not letting go because he wants to make sure Marc knows how much he loves him. Even Eric managed to not say anything dumb which, to be honest, Marc would have been grateful for because it would make the whole situation feel more normal. Because right now everyone is too nice and it is freaking Marc the hell out.
About a week after Marc tells his family, Eric calls a meeting for the brothers. As the oldest, he likes to pretend he’s got some control over them which the others will go along with just to mess with him. The topic tonight, he informs them as he sifts through flashcards and behind him is an easel with pages that are covered and really the fact that he called a meeting should have set Marc off but he’s been so distracted by waiting for the fallout he hadn’t even considered this aspect of, the topic tonight is Marc’s love life.
Marc coughs violently as the beer he’s drinking goes down the wrong pipe.
“Dude,” Eric tells him, “you gotta work on that gag reflex if you ever want to get laid.” And Marc is pretty sure that a) Eric has no clue what actually entails a gag reflex because beer going down your windpipe instead of esophagus as your brother decided to make your personal life his business versus being able to swallow a dick whole are two very different things and b) his getting laid is really no one’s business but his own. And the guy with whom he will be laying but really, that's it.
Jordan smacks him on his back and says “It’s okay, you know. You don’t have to be embarrassed about this. We’re here for you.”
Marc mumbles “nknngghh” in response and reaches for his beer because if he’s going to go through this, it will not be sober.
“Besides, I’m just happy these notes don’t go to waste,” Eric grins, gesturing to the cards in his hands and the board behind him. “I figured one of us would end up coming out, I just always thought it would be Jordan.” He shrugs at Jordan’s raised eyebrows. “What? You’re kind of a momma’s boy.”
Jordan pouts and sits back in his chair, his arms crossed. This clearly does not do anything to change Eric’s mind because he replies, “It’s never too late, Jordy. We love you anyway.”
“Uh, guys?” Jared breaks in. “This is about Marc, remember?” And Marc could kill him because a brewing fight between Eric and Jordan is really just what this situation needed. Mostly to not discuss him.
“Right!” Eric exclaims brightly. “Thank you, Jared. And now let’s get business underway. Marc. Are you seeing anyone?”
Marc clears his throat. “Is this really important?”
“I’m gonna take that as a no. And yes, smartass, it is important. We,” Eric gestures to Jordan and Jared, “need to know what we’re up against.”
“You are not up against anything,” Marc informs him but is purposefully ignored as Eric forges on.
“Are you planning on coming out?”
“To the public?”
“Well, yeah. You already told us.” Eric gives him one of his patented ‘why are you being dumb’ looks.
“No.” Marc shakes his head. “I mean, maybe but I don’t see it happening anytime in the next oh ten years or so.”
“Okay,” muses Eric as he flips through his cards.
“What the fuck is going on with you and those cards?” Jordan asks.
“There are different options! I’m trying to find right one. Here we go, single and not looking to come out. Are you looking for a boyfriend? Hey! Sit your ass back down!”
Marc is already standing and turned to the door. “No. This meeting is hereby done with.”
“You can’t end a meeting without a majority vote,” Jared reminds him and really, Marc thinks, he’s just looking to get strangled tonight apparently. Youngests.
“Right. Majority vote and you don’t have one,” Eric says. “So sit down and accept this because your brothers love you, care about you and your wellbeing despite your ungratefulness toward us, and really we just want to see you happy.”
Marc gets another beer from the fridge and reluctantly sits back down. “I hate you all.”
Jared pats his arm. “We love you too.”
“Everything you say makes me want to hit you more.”
“That’s just cause you’re in denial of how lonely you are. Maybe if you got laid, you’d be in a better mood.”
“Yeah, that’s actually a scientifically proven fact,” Jordan adds. “Sex is a stress release.”
Marc gives him a death glare before letting out a long-suffering sigh. “Fine, I will answer your dumb questions. What did you want to know?”
“First off, stop with the antagonism. We’re here for you,” Eric reminds him. “And the question you haven’t forgotten, you’re just wasting time, is: are you looking for a boyfriend?”
Marc plays with the label of the bottle in his hands. “Not looking, per se,” he answers finally. “Just, you know, looking.” He looks up hesitantly at his brothers, who give him blank looks.
“So you want to get laid,” Jared finally replies.
“Oh God.” Marc hits his head on the table. “Kill me now?”
Jordan laughs. “Sorry, dude. This is good. We’re sharing? Right?” He looks toward Eric for assistance but their eldest brother has stood up and started flipping the pages on the easel. “Seriously, Eric. The hell?”
“GUIDELINES!” Eric yells. “There’s a protocol we need to follow. Okay, so Marc. Do you want to just get laid by guys or actually pursue a relationship?”
Marc looks up and squeaks in response, in part from the question and in part from looking at the page Eric has stopped on. There’s a whole diagram filled with names and questions marks labeled “Marc’s Love Life” which yes, has the first letter of every word capitalized and each option is in a different color. Such as “Relationship” and the names underneath it are in red, “Friends with Benefits” all in blue, “Booty Calls” in black and a fourth option “Others” in green, the latter two with no names under them.
He feels like a fish, his mouth opening and closing trying to form words or a sound but he can’t. He’s a little shell-shocked to say the least.
“Dude!” Jared whispers, half-scared half-awed. “When did you have time to do that?”
Marc finally finds his voice. “DO YOU WANT TO DIE? Stop encouraging him!”
Jared shrugs.”It’s impressive that he went through all this trouble. And it looks so nice.”
“Thank you, Jared.” Eric smiles proudly, more at the board than at his brother.
“Yeah, good idea and job on the color-coding,” Jordan says approvingly.
“What the fuck does “others” mean?” Marc asks warily.
“I’m not sure but I figured it didn’t hurt to put it there. It looked lonely with just three options.”
“OK, well you can take it out. Also, booty calls?”
Eric shrugs. “I don’t know. You live in New York. Lot of gay bars. So, meet some guy in a bar, you’re not looking for friends so you just keep each others names and numbers in your phones for when you’re super horny.”
“ I know what a booty call is! I just don’t know why you’d put that in there. A)I would never give you information about that. B) …There is no B. Just remove the damn column.”
“OK, OK.” Eric makes large “X”’s over the third and fourth columns. “No need to get your boxers in a bunch. You should thank me because I almost said panties but didn’t want you to feel insulted that I would say that to a gay man. Even if he is my brother.”
“You should thank me for not kicking your ass,” Marc shoots back.
“I’m ignoring that. So, our remaining columns are Relationships and Friends with Benefits.”
“Do any of your teammates know?” Jordan looks at him, his eyes narrowed. “Or any other friends?”
Marc nods. “Some of the guys do. They’re cool though, they won’t tell anyone. And two guys I was in Juniors with. They were also…” he trails off, “so we sort of hung out a lot. Bonded.”
“Was Jake one of them?” Jared asks excitedly. “He was, right? I knew it! You guys were dating? Were you?”
“Who is this Jake and why have Jordan and I not met him?” Eric demands.
“No one.” Marc kicks Jared under the table and gives him a death glare. “He’s a friend who I played in Sudbury with and we sort of dated,” he rolls his eyes at Jared’s whoop, “but it was a long time ago and we’re just friends now. Can we talk about something else now?”
“Sure,” Jordan says quickly, trading a glance with Eric that Marc sees and doesn’t like. “Uh, Eric. Tell us about the names you have on the board.”
“Great idea, Jordy. Well, under “Relationships” I’ve put some names that I feel would make great additions to the family and I’m sure you’d like them. Local guys. I wasn’t sure if you wanted hockey players because I’d totally be okay with that but it could get tricky. I’m just not sure if you like someone who’s gay and I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.”
“Really?” Marc says sardonically. “That’s sweet of you.”
“Look, Marc,” Eric sighs, “we’re just trying to figure out this out too.”
“ I didn’t ask you for your help in this!”
“Well, you’re getting it so shut up and deal.” Eric flips through the abandoned noteards on the table. “So do you want to date a hockey player?”
Marc keeps his mouth shut.
“OK. Just…tell us what you’re looking for right now?” Eric pleads.
“Some peace and quiet would be nice. Also, to not have my brothers meddle in my life.”
“We can’t do that.” Jordan shakes his head. “Try again. Do you want to date or to be single for awhile as you figure this out?”
Marc groans. “Look, I’ve been figuring this out for awhile now. Dating is going to be difficult but I’m not adverse to it.”
"Just to be clear,” Jordan says, holding his hand up before Eric can say anything, “you would be okay with us setting you up?”
“We know some really great people,” Eric chimes in. “The least you could do is go out with them, maybe make some friends if they’re not for you.”
“I know I will regret this but…yes.” And right away Marc thinks this was the wrong thing to say as Eric’s face fills with glee and Marc thinks his brother is so happy, he’s practically shaking like an overexcited puppy.
“OK. So the local guys or another hockey player?”
Somehow Marc’s arms have decided to move as if independent of his body because they are flailing and he doesn’t recall ever having them flail before in his life. “Does it matter?”
“Has to be one or the other, bro,” Jared tells him. “It’ll get too messy when we try to fix you up. Easier to not get too many people involved.”
“That is the dumbest thing you have said today. Have the three of you lost your minds?”
Jordan stands up and leans down to hug him from behind. “We just want you to be happy. And want to make sure that happiness happens. Okay? It’s well-intentioned.”
Marc thinks for a minute and rolls his eyes at Eric’s impatient foot-tapping. “Fine. Hockey player.” He marvels at Eric’s face which is just getting happier by the second.
Case in point. “Anyone in particular?” Eric practically trills, his smile stretching from ear to ear.
“Fuck you and no.”
“Oh come on. You’ve totally thought about this.”
“Shut up, Jared.”
“Just cause I’m younger than you, doesn’t mean you can bully me.”
“That’s pretty much exactly what it means.”
“Marc, be nice. He’s only trying to help. Now, come on,” Eric wheedles him, “tell me who you’re crushing on.”
Yeah, okay, Marc thinks to himself. Who the guy is he likes is something he will never tell his brothers. In fact, they won’t even get to meet him until he’s practically married to the guy. Which will never happen so really this information is just going to stay happily in his head.
“Oh come on, Marc. Between me and Jordan, I’m sure we know the guy and-“
At the mention of Jordan, Marc turns around. His brother has been quiet and that’s always a bad sign. He spies Jordan in the doorway looking at his phone. Except it’s his – Marc’s – phone and Marc says very quietly, “Give me my phone.”
Jordan looks up and grins at him. “Okie dokie. Got what I needed.”
“Are you fucking kidding me!” Marc shouts as Eric cries out “You did? Spill it!”
“Drumroll please,” Jordan says and Jared, the little fucker, actually obliges him before Jordan declares gleefully, “Andrew Ladd.”
Eric’s face lights up. “I can do that.”
“No!” Marc yells. “No, you can’t. Cause it’s not him.”
“Yeah it is,” smirks Jordan.
“Texts not sent to you are private! You can’t just go through people’s stuff like that.”
Jordan pokes him. “Then make your phone’s security lock is a lot harder to crack than the default one everyone gets. Yeesh.”
Marc glares at him but before he can say anything, is distracted by Eric who’s already making a call. “What are you doing?”
Eric waves his hand at him and walks out of the room and Jordan grabs Marc before he can follow him. “Marc. Let it go. The worst he’ll say is no. And then we’ll find someone better.”
Marc whirls around. “That’s exactly what he’ll say! And it will be horrible because my older brother is calling to set this up and you know Eric, he’ll be all patronizing when he lets me down because Andrew has no interest in going out with me for so many reasons and aaaaggghhhh!” he kicks one of the chairs and then slumps down on it. “This day is just going from bad to worse.”
Jared and Jordan pat him awkwardly on the back and Marc really wants to kill them both but he’s too tired.
Eric walks back into the room a few minutes later. “I’m starving. What time is dinner?”
Marc stares at him. Jordan looks at his watch and answers, “About 7, I think? You want to get something to eat?”
“Mom’ll kill you if you spoil your appetite,” Jared pipes up. “It’s already 5.”
“I’m a big boy, I can handle it,” Eric says dismissively. “Maybe some ice cream or something?”
“Sure,” Jared replies and Jordan nods.
“Let’s go. Marc, you coming?”
Marc is still staring at Eric.
Eric leans his elbows on the table and stares right back at him. “Dude, stop looking at me like that.”
“What just happened?”Marc practically yells.
“Oh. That.” Eric examines the table closely then grins at Marc. “Friday at 7. You have a date. Andrew’s coming to pick you up. He wanted to know if he should bring flowers and I told him no roses if he did, might scare you off. Don’t want to come off too strongly, you know?”
“I hate you,” Marc whispers.
“You should thank me. I just got you a date.” Eric smiles brilliantly at him. “I think you owe me ice cream.”
“He owes us all ice cream,” Jordan declares. “It was a joint effort. Well, maybe just us two. Jared didn’t do much.”
“Fuck you, if he’s paying for you guys, he’s paying for me too. I got death threats.”
“This is new?”
Amidst a Jordan and Jared argument, Eric leans over and tells Marc quietly, “You know he’s a good friend of mine. He wondered if he did something to piss you off because you never talk to him. You could have just told me earlier, it would have made everything so much easier.”
Marc just shakes his head and Eric hugs him. “Come on, I’m your big brother. You really think I would do something to hurt you? Let’s go. I want ice cream. A triple scoop because you owe me.”
The argument has turned into a slight shoving match and Eric turns away to pull the younger two apart. “Focus. Marc has a date and now he’s buying us ice cream to say thank you.”
Jordan bumps Jared’s shoulder and grins. “So where are you gonna go on your date?” And Marc looks up in terror because he really has absolutely no clue what to do on a date with Andrew Ladd.
“Relax,” Eric says. “He’s calling you later tonight. But no phone sex until three dates in. What? I don’t know how long it’s been since you got laid. You might feel the need to jump the gun or something.”
“Double scoop,” Marc tells him. “And you keep talking, it's going down to a kids’ single.”
Eric wisely keeps his mouth shut all the way to the ice cream parlor.