“Will you please stop that?” Aaron said as he threw an annoyed look in his brother’s direction. “I said I’d drive you so you can make out with your boyfriend on the way home but if you keep fidgeting like that you can walk the rest of the way.”
“I haven’t seen him in 8 months. I’ve missed him ok?” Luke replied. “He was in a warzone and he got hurt and I don’t know how bad it is.. and this is the first time I can actually kiss him in public without the entire US army having a meltdown.”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s finally officially gone.” Luke said and smiled. “I’m allowed to go to official army things with him now and he can have a picture of me with him without having to worry about who might see it. He’s free to be who he is now.”
“That’s great. Noah the badass soldier and you get to be an army wife.” Aaron teased as he pulled into the parking lot near the base Noah was stationed at.
They got through security without any trouble and made their way over to where the rest of the unit’s families were waiting.
“I don’t think I’ll get ever get used to this place.” Luke told his brother. “I always feel like I’m intruding.. like I don’t belong here.”
“Of course you belong here. You’re here to pick up your.. beloved.. who is in this unit. Even though I still don’t understand why a film student enlisted in the damn army.”
“Honestly.. I don’t really understand either.” Luke admitted. “But this is making him feel good. Make up for what his father did, clear the family name, you know.”
“And hopefully he won’t be sent out again now. We want to get a place together. Finally.” Luke added.
“Really?” Aaron asked. “Moving in together already?”
“Already? We’ve been together for four years, Aaron.”
“And he’s been in the army for what, two of those?”
“About that.. but well.. I love him and he loves me. That’s enough.”
“Alright, if you say so.” Aaron said and shrugged. “If you’re happy, I’m happy, little brother. Now go get your GI Joe.” He said and nodded at the army bus that just pulled over near them.
Luke walked towards the bus and smiled when he saw his boyfriend. One arm in a sling but otherwise in one piece, duffel bag slung over his good shoulder.
“Oh my god I’ve missed you so much.” Luke said into Noah’s neck after wrapping his arms around the other man.
“I missed you too. So, so much.” Noah replied as he pulled back from the hug slightly to look Luke in the eye. “It’s so good to see you again. To hold you in my arms again.”
“Right back at you soldier.” He said and leaned in for a kiss. “Have you missed that too?”
“More than you know. I love your kisses.”
“Just my kisses?”
“No. I love your kisses, your smile, the way your eyes light up when you’re excited about something, I love it when you dance around the house when you think nobody is watching, I love everything about you, Luke Snyder.”
Luke smiled and kissed him again.
“Good answer. And I love everything about you too. Except maybe the hair.” He said running his hands over his boyfriend’s buzz cut. “It’s so short.”
“Army regulation. But I can grow it out now.”
“You’re not going back?”
Noah shook his head.
“Nope. I enlisted for two years, they’re almost up.” He explained. “But they’ve asked me to re-enlist and join the training program for new recruits. To train them. Right here at home.”
“And are you going to do that?”
“I haven’t decided yet. I wanted to talk to you about it first. I still have 2 months to decide.”
“Two months?” Luke asked and Noah nodded. “Ok then can we forget about the army for a while?”
“Gladly.” Noah said and kissed Luke again.
“Get a room!” Someone yelled, followed by wolf whistling.
“Come on, Mayer, think of the children.”
Noah broke the kiss and turned around, laughing, good hand still holding onto Luke’s.
“Your kids are used to looking at your face, Denning, they can handle anything.”
“Fuck you Mayer.” The other man said laughingly.
“I’ve told you Eric, you’re not my type.” Noah replied. “And that’s corporal Mayer to you.” He said pointing at the stripes on his uniform.”
“That promotion has already gone to your head.” Eric said as he walked over to them. “We’re not on duty now so I don’t have to call you anything, asshole.” He joked and turned to Luke. “Hi, you must be Luke.”
“Y-yeah.. hi..” Luke stammered as he shook the other man’s hand.
“Ever since DADT was struck down this one hasn’t stopped talking about you, man. It’s like he’s making up for lost time.”
“I’m not that bad!” Noah protested.
“Yes, yes, you are. Ask any one of the guys from the unit what the name of Mayer’s fiancé is and they’ll be able to tell you all about his Luke.”
“Uhm.. yeah.. about that.”
“Uh oh, did I spoil a surprise?” Eric asked.
“Kind of..” Noah admitted. “But it’s ok.” He said as he turned to Luke and got down on one knee. “I planned to do this later, after I’d had time to buy a ring.. but.. I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Luke Snyder, will you marry me?”
“Yes, absolutely, 100% yes.”
A few years later
“I think I know why they keep giving you medals and promotions and stuff.” Luke said as he fixed his husband’s tie.
“Because I’m good at my job?”
“No. Well I guess that helps. But I bet it’s because they like the way you look in your dress uniform.”
“I think that’s just you, babe.”
“Hmm no, I think I prefer the way you look without that uniform.” Luke said and stole a quick kiss.
“Hey, hey small ears guys, keep it clean.” Aaron joked as he walked into Luke and Noah’s bedroom carrying their son Daniel.
“We’re good, we’re good.” Luke said as he took his son from Aaron. “Doesn’t daddy look handsome in his uniform?” He asked the toddler.
The little boy nodded and reached out for Noah.
“He likes your medals.” Aaron noted.
“I know.” Noah said and turned to his son. “But those aren’t toys and daddy is going to get yelled at if something happens to them. So be careful, ok Danny?”
“And why aren’t you dressed yet little man?” Luke said and tickled the little boy.
Daniel giggled and squirmed in his father’s arms.
“Are you giving uncle Aaron a hard time? You can’t go to the farm in your pyjamas.”
“Yeah we were having a slight difference of opinion on that one.” Aaron told them.
“I want to go with you.” Daniel whined, wrapping his arms around his father’s neck.
“We told you buddy, it’s going to be really long and boring.” Noah said and dropped a kiss in the boy’s hair.
“Yeah we’ll have way more fun at the farm with grandpa and the horses. We’ll go see the new baby horse.” Aaron told him. “And auntie Ali is bringing the twins over so you guys can all play together.”
“See? Way more fun than daddy’s work thing.”
“Yeah because at daddy’s thing you have to sit still for a really long time, and there is no-one to play with and you have to wear a suit like me.” Luke told his son.
The boy scrunched up his face.
“Really?” He asked his other father.
“If you go with uncle Aaron now and get dressed to go to the farm, papa and I will come over there as soon as we’re done. And we can stay with grandma and grandpa a few days, ok?”
Daniel seemed to think his father’s offer over for a second.
“Sure we can go get some ice cream.”
“Yeah? We have a deal? Are you going to be nice for your uncle Aaron now?”
Daniel nodded and Noah put him down.
“Ok come on Danny-boy, let’s get you dressed.” Aaron said as he chased the little boy out of the bedroom.
“When in doubt, bribery always works huh bubby?” Luke said as he smoothed non existing wrinkles from Noah’s jacket.
Noah gave him a small smile.
“He takes after his father. Always willing to make a deal if there is something sweet involved.”
“Guilty as charged.”
Noah checked himself over in the mirror. Everything, even down to the colour of his socks, was according to army regulation.
“Are you happy?” He asked Luke.
“What? Of course I’m happy. I have you, I have Danny, what more could I wish for?”
“A life outside the army.. I know you hate it.”
“Not as much as I used to. Having you and Danny with me and not having to live on base makes up for a lot of the stuff I hate.” Luke said, meeting Noah’s eyes in the mirror. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“And I know what’s going on in that head of yours right now, and yes you do deserve this promotion.”
“I’m going to be the same rank as him. I’ll be a colonel.”
“I know. And you’re going to be a great one. Better than him.”
“How do you know? What if I turn out just like him?”
“You won’t. You’re a thousand times the man he will ever be.”
“I went to see him yesterday.” Noah confessed.
“I.. I guess in a way I still want him to be proud of me. He doesn’t know I enlisted, that we got married.. he doesn’t know about Danny..”
“Do you want him to?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t go in. I sat in my car, staring at the gate, for ages. I’m surprised they didn’t call security on me.”
“If you want I can come with you next time.” Luke offered.
“I don’t know if there will be a next time. I didn’t plan on going, I just ended up there.”
“Daddy!” Danny yelled as he ran into his parents’ bedroom. “Daddy kiss!”
“He wanted to wish you luck before we take off.” Aaron explained laughingly.
“Yes!” Danny said as Noah knelt down in front of him. “Good luck daddy!”
“Thank you buddy, I’m sure everything will go great now.”
Danny beamed and planted a big wet kiss on his father’s cheek.
“And what about me?” Luke asked, pretending to be hurt. “Don’t I get a kiss?”
“What do you think?” Noah asked Daniel. “Should we give papa a kiss?”
The boy nodded and Luke was treated to two big wet kisses, one from his son and one from his husband.
A few years later
“Guys can somebody get that door please?” Luke yelled from his office. He was working on the last chapter of his book and the sound of the doorbell ringing wasn’t doing his writing mood any favours.
“I’ll get it!” Daniel yelled as he raced his younger brother and sister to the door.
“Oh hey buddy, is your dad home?” A man in a uniform similar to that of his dad’s asked Daniel when he opened the door.
“We have two daddies.” Emma, Daniel’s younger sister, told the man.
“Oh do you now? Which one of them is in the army?”
“Alright then I need to speak to him, can you get him for me?”
Emma nodded and ran off to find her dad.
“Why do you want to talk to our dad?” Daniel asked.
“Because I have a very special letter for him. From the president.”
“But it’s not his birthday.” Colin, the youngest of the three Snyder-Mayer siblings, said. “We only get letters on our birthday.”
“But this is super special, even more special than a birthday card.”
“Hi, can I help you?” Noah asked when he saw the soldier on his doorstep.
“Daddy he says he has a super special birthday card from the president for you.” Colin told his father.
“I have a personal message from the president for you, sir.” The man said and saluted Noah.
“At ease, I’m not working. A message from the president you said? For me?”
“Are you Lieutenant General N. Mayer?”
“It’s Snyder-Mayer. But yes, that’s me.”
“My apologies. But then this is for you.” The man said as he handed Noah an envelope. “If you could sign here please.” He said, handing Noah a clipboard and a pen.
“What happened to the tablets you guys carry?”
“I’m under special orders not to use that for this.” The soldier explained and took the clipboard back. “Have a nice day sir. Great kids by the way.” He said and saluted again before walking back to his car.
“What does it say?” Daniel asked when Noah tore open the envelope and took out its content.
“Uhm.. the president is offering me a job..”
“Cool! Does that mean we’re going to live in the white house?”
“I don’t think so buddy. Go get papa for me please.”
“What’s wrong babe?” Luke asked a few minutes later when he saw his husband sitting on their sofa, staring at a letter.
“What? Secretary of the Army? What does that mean?”
“It means I’d be in charge of the entire army. All of it. And I’d work directly with the president.”
“Noah that is amazing!” Luke said and read the letter again.
“It’s just a nomination. There might be other contenders.. and the senate has to approve.. and.. it’s kind of crazy.. they hand-picked me.”
“That’s not crazy. You deserve it. You’re good at your job, and the rest of the world is starting to see that too.” Luke said as he sat next to his husband and wrapped his arm around his shoulder.
“Are you sad, daddy?” Emma asked carefully.
“No sweetie, I’m fine.” Noah said and pulled his daughter onto his lap. “I just got some really big news that I wasn’t expecting.”
“The president wants to give him a job.” Luke explained. “And we’re really proud of him for that, right guys?”
“Yeah!” The three kids yelled and launched themselves at their father.
A few days later
“Wow, they’re thorough, they even mention me and my books in this article.” Luke said after reading yet another news article on his husband’s new job. “Do you think he’s seen it?”
“I don’t know.. I don’t know if they’re allowed newspapers in here..”
“I hope he’s seen it.” Luke said and grabbed his husband’s hand. “Hey, we can just go home if you want. You don’t have to do this.”
“No.. I do. I just.. I have to face him one last time. Close that chapter of my life once and for all.”
“Ok. Do you want me to go in with you?”
“No, it’s ok. You’ll only set him off more.” Noah said and pressed a kiss to Luke’s wedding band. “Thank you for coming with me.”
Noah gave him a small smile, took a deep breath and turned to the prison guard.
“Ok I’m ready.”
“Alright, when you’re done, just bang on the door. He’s cuffed and cuffed to the table so he can’t get to you.”
Noah nodded and waited for the guard to open the door.
“I’ll be right here if you need me.” Luke told Noah.
“I know. I love you.”
Noah walked into the room. The walls were bare and it was cold. No windows, no natural light. He ignored the table in the middle of the room at first, building up the nerve to finally face the man he’d come to see.
“Hi.. dad..” The words felt weird. It had been years since he’d called anyone other than Holden Snyder dad.
“Noah? Son is that you?”
A shiver went down his spine when he heard the man speak. His voice was weaker and thinner but it still brought back memories. Bad memories.
“Yeah.. it’s me.” Noah said and made himself sit down on opposite of the other man.
“It’s so good to see you son. It’s been so long.” Winston said and smiled and tried to reach out for Noah’s hands.
“Do you get newspapers in here? TV news?” Noah asked, putting his hands in his lap, fidgeting with his uniform hat under the table.
“Yes, but I don’t watch it. This country is going to hell. It’s been going downhill ever since they let fags serve.”
Noah bit the inside of his cheek to stop himself from getting angry.
“If you watched the news you would have heard my name.” He said instead.
“Oh? Why?” Winston asked, suddenly intrigued.
“I uh.. I got nominated. For Secretary of the Army.”
“I knew it. I knew you had it in you to be a great soldier. You’re my son, a Mayer, of course you can do it. Of course you got nominated.” Winston said, voice filled with pride. Noah realised, however, it was himself Winston was proud of. As if he’d had anything to do with Noah’s achievements.
“It’s Snyder-Mayer now actually.” Noah said, holding up his hand to show Winston his wedding ring. “I’m married. To Luke. You remember him don’t you?”
“Yep, still gay, dad. Who knew a fag could be in charge of the entire army, huh?”
“Do they know?”
“What? That I’m gay? Of course. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is ancient history. I proposed to Luke on an army base when I got back from my second tour in Iraq.”
“How can you defy the uniform like that?!” Winston demanded, struggling against his restraints.
“I don’t defy anything.” Noah said and pulled a newspaper clipping from his pocket and shoved it towards Winston. “Everyone is happy for me. I’m a family man. Married, 3 amazing children. Children who will never know you even exist by the way. As far as they know Holden Snyder and Dusty Donovan are their grandfathers.” He continued as Winston turned purple with fury. “I’m gay and I’m married and I have kids and I’m in the army. And guess what? I’m good at my job. Even the president thinks so.” He said and stood up.
“How dare you come in here and.. insult me like this?!”
Noah smiled and banged on the door a few times.
“I didn’t come here for you, I came here for me. To show myself I’m a better man, a better husband, a better father and a better soldier than you could ever have been. Goodbye Winston.”
The second the door closed behind him Noah let out a sigh of relief as Luke wrapped his arms around his neck.
“I’m so proud of you. So, so, so proud.”
Noah smiled and kissed Luke.
“Come on, let’s go home and pick up the kids, I need some cuddles and ice cream to celebrate my new job.”