Then Take Care of Him

"Dave," Jack Kelly down the short hallway for what felt like the hundredth time. "Are you ready to go? We're gonna be late."

"Almost..." David Jacobs' voice trailed off as he stood in front of the mirror. He heard Jack's footsteps approaching, and a moment later, the slightly taller young man was leaning against the bathroom door, watching David's reflection.

"What are you so worried about?" Jack asked, an amused smile curling the corners of his mouth.

David ran a frustrated hand over his hair. "It won't... It isn't cooperating."

Jack very nearly laughed. "What's the big deal? It's just hair. You look fine."

"But..." David sighed and shook his head.

Guessing correctly what his boyfriend was thinking, Jack took a step forward, his arms winding around David's waist. "Stop worrying about it. She'll love you. Curly hair and everything."

David huffed a little, but leaned back against Jack's solid warmth. "You can't know that."

"Yes I can," Jack laughed. "I know her, she's family. She'll like you, trust me."

David sighed, but it was only a few moments later that they were headed down the street to the subway station, bundled against the cold.

Jack's aunt was frailer looking than David had expected. She was tall for a woman, but shorter than both of the young men coming to visit. She was thin, the bones showing at her wrists and collar. Her hair was dark and swept into a tight bun, pulled out of her long face. Her smile was as wide as Jack's could be, and she pulled her nephew into a hug.

"Jack, come in, you must be freezing." Her smile faded very slightly as her eyes swept over David. "And you must be David, come in." She turned and led them into the townhouse.

It was Christmas Eve, and David was meeting the woman who had raised his lover. Things, so far, were not relaxing David in the least.

Dinner was tense, although Jack did his best to keep conversation flowing. The gift exchange, afterward, was equally as uncomfortable. David and Jack had already swapped their presents. Jack had a pile from his aunt, his aunt had her own fair share from Jack, and David held a single envelope. He tried to watch from the sidelines with grace as the two family members carried on a conversation without him.

When there was nothing left of the wrapping paper but a colorful pile on the floor, Aunt Vivian stood. "I'll get us some coffee."

"Let me," Jack insisted, standing quickly. Aunt Vivian didn't put up much of a fight. When Jack had moved into the kitchen, David swallowed nervously.

"So," Aunt Vivian said, her smile friendly in a thin, strained sort of way. "Jack tells me you're studying journalism."

"Yes ma'am," David answered, trying to be polite.

Aunt Vivian leaned in suddenly, startling David. "Tell me, boy, do you care for him?"

David nodded, momentarily stunned by the directness of her question. "Yes," he said. "I do. Very much."

"Then take care of him," Aunt Vivian said, her eyes momentarily burning with the passion of her matronly love.

Before David could respond, Jack reentered, carrying a tray of coffee cups. Aunt Vivian gave him a wide smile as she took one.

Jack made eye contact with David, eyebrows raised.

David nodded in answer to the silent question.

Jack smiled back.

When David glanced back at Aunt Vivian, she was smiling secretively into her mug.

Maybe the evening was turning out so badly after all.