The following is an outtake from The Bar. It’s posted in what we call the “Out of Context Forum” because it’s not part of the regular story, but does use the characters from the story. This post is dedicated to Miss Britt, whose own story was an inspiration to Lex.
Lex walked into the living room to find her eldest son staring at CNN. For a moment, she wondered when he had become like his godfather Stein. Then she realized he was frowning. Aric never frowned. Well, except for when he was pretending to be his Uncle Lucius. Usually, Aric was a very content little boy, if slightly serious. His younger brother Ahren was bright and amusing, the fun guy, very much his father’s son. Aric was more like his mother and uncle, which of course made him the apple of his grandmother Maddy’s eye.
“Aric? What’s wrong?” Lex asked as she sat down on the sofa beside her 8 year old son.
Aric looked at her with those steel blue Kohl eyes, so like his father’s, and those of his Uncle Lucius, cousins Johann and Sascha, and his grandfather Konrad. The puzzlement Lex saw in those blue depths made her realize something really was wrong. She reached out and gave Aric a quick hug.
“You know you can tell me and your father anything. Did something happen at school today? Or at Mary’s?” she asked gently, trying to get to the bottom of the odd expression in her son’s eyes.
“At school,” he finally said, his voice low and filled with confusion. “Someone told my friend Mark that he was gay. We didn’t know what that meant, but it sounded bad. When we went to Mary’s after school, Ahren and I asked Jason what it meant. Jason said it was a mean thing to say to someone. Then Jack said at least the kid didn’t call Mark a fag.”
Aric looked up at his mother with worried blue eyes. “Why are kids mean, Mom? And what is a fag?”
Lex’s heart turned over in her chest. No one had called her sons names, but both boys were inherently good children who didn’t understand why anyone would be mean to another. She bit back a sigh and drew Aric into the curve of her arm. She glanced up and saw her husband and bloodmate Alaric standing in the doorway with his brother Lucius and cousin Griffin. All three men looked like they wanted to hit someone. She shook her head slightly at them, then turned her attention back to Aric.
“Aric, remember how we had that talk about how some girls like to kiss girls and some men like to kiss men,” she began cautiously, hoping she was doing this right.
Aric nodded. “Ahren and I thought it was a little weird. I mean, we don’t want to kiss boys.” He wrinkled his nose then. “We don’t want to kiss girls either though. It’s okay when you kiss us or when Dad does or Grandma Maddy. We kinda expect our family to hug and kiss us.”
Lex turned slightly as a warm body wriggled onto the couch and into her other arm. She looked down into a pair of electric blue eyes very like Alaric’s. Ahren grinned up at her and leaned against her breast, his gap toothed six year old smile showing the buds of his fangs.
“I like it when Aunt Opal hugs me,” he told his mother with an emphatic nod. “She smells nice.”
Lex looked over Ahren’s head at Lucius, who was grinning. “You’re definitely one of your Aunt Opal’s favorite nephews,” Lex told him with a smile. “I know for a fact that your Uncle Lucius likes it when she hugs him.”
“She hugs him all the time.” Ahren made a face that was definitely a grimace.
“That’s what I mean, Mom,” Aric cut in. “When we grow up we want to be like you and Dad and Uncle Lucius and Aunt Opal. We don’t want to kiss boys.”
Lex frowned. Had the boys gotten the idea that kissing someone of the same sex was bad? The very idea horrified her. There were a lot of things she would tolerate in her children, but intolerance wasn’t one of them.
“Even though you don’t want to, it would be okay with your father and I if you did want to, Aric. Not everyone thinks like we do,” she stated cautiously. “When Jack said that it was a good thing that the boy at school hadn’t called Mark a … a … fag…” Lex stumbled over the word, her face a mask of distaste, “… he meant that at least the boy hadn’t been more mean to Mark.”
“But what is a fag, Mama?” Ahren asked, his pale face scrunched up in a look of puzzlement.
Lex glanced at the adult men in her life. Alaric looked pissed. Lucius didn’t look much different. It was Griffin whose dark eyes held an expression of deep empathy that made Lex realize he truly understood how she felt about her children being exposed to such cruel words.
She opened her mouth to explain to the boys, but stopped as Griffin came into the room and knelt before the couch. His dark eyes went from Aric to Ahren.
“The word fag is said by ignorant people,” he began. “Mean people who don’t understand that there are many different ways to love. They don’t understand, so they make fun of it and say cruel things. People who are gay love people of the same sex. The boy who called Mark gay was using the word like a curse word, in a mean way. Fag is a cruel name for men who are gay, men who love men.”
“Can vampires be gay?” Ahren asked cautiously. He was obviously thinking hard about everything that had been said.
“Our world has few restrictions, Ahren,” Griffin replied. “In the Otherworld, if you can dream it, you can be it.” He made a face then. “Apologies to Rocky Horror, but if the words fit…” He shrugged. “The point is, boys, that ANYONE can be gay. No one asks to be. They just are. The same as mean people. We don’t know why people are mean… they just are.”
Aric and Ahren looked at each other, and then at their father’s cousin. “We don’t like mean people,” Aric said solemnly.
His brother nodded. “We won’t ever use those words, Uncle Griffin,” Ahren promised.
“Maybe we don’t want to kiss boys, but we understand that just because we don’t want to do it doesn’t mean it’s wrong,” Aric stated, his words slow and thoughtful.
“Love is a good thing,” Lex told them, her throat tight with suppressed tears. “Don’t ever think that it’s not. When someone loves you, you are blessed, whether that person is a boy like you or a girl.”
Now, Lucius came into the room and sat on the arm of the couch beside Aric. “This is like the discussion we had about whether vampires are better than dragons,” he told the boys. “No one is better than anyone else. We are all just different from each other.”
“And sometimes we can’t help who our hearts decide to love,” Alaric said as he sat down on the couch beside Ahren. His long arm stretched out to brush back a stray curl from the side of Lex’s face. The love on his face for his bloodmate and his children was palpable.
“Ugh. You’re not gonna tell the story about how your heart decided to love Mom, are you?” Ahren groaned.
Aric made a little sound and frowned at his brother. “It’s okay when they tell that story. It just means they love us,” he said chidingly to Ahren.
“It means they love each other. That’s okay, but man, we’ve heard that story a million times already,” Ahren complained.
“You’re very lucky to have a family that loves you,” Griffin told them. “Maybe the reason that boy was so mean to Mark is because at home, no one loves him unconditionally, the way your family loves you.”
Aric and Ahren exchanged another look. “We have each other,” Aric told Griffin. “That kid doesn’t have any brothers or sisters. Maybe that’s why he’s mean.”
“Maybe one day someone will love him and he will stop being mean,” Ahren said.
“I feel sorry for him now, even though he was mean.” Aric and Ahren both nodded and the adults heaved sighs of relief as the moment passed.
“Do you think Gerda made cookies?” Ahren asked his mother.
Before Lex could answer, Griffin rose to his feet and held his hands out to the boys. “I bet she did. Let’s go see.”
As the three of them left the room, Griffin was heard to say, “Did I ever tell you about the time your Grandma Maddy tried to make me eat an entire plate of Gerda’s cookies with milk?”
“That was when she thought you were Uncle Lucius’ son!” Ahren piped up, his voice full of laughter.
“But Aunt Carlisle gave you her Chivas instead of the milk, right?” Aric asked, his own laughter joining his brother’s.
Lex looked at her husband and then at her brother-in-law. “This family really is blessed, isn’t it?” she murmured.
“We weren’t always, but apparently, we are now,” Lucius admitted.
“We’re a fucking miracle, Angel. That’s what this family is,” Alaric chuckled. “Another crisis averted.”
“It’s too bad we can’t eradicate the hate in this world as easily as we’ve all managed to find love in this family,” Lex murmured, leaning into Alaric’s embrace.
The Kohl brothers burst into laughter. “I don’t think our roads to love were very easy, Angel,” Alaric told her. “Luc and I both are just damned lucky. Our boys will be too. They have a loving family who teaches them that some of the most important things in life are love and tolerance.”
Lucius stood up. “We better hurry or Griffin and the boys will eat all the cookies,” he grinned.
As the three of them walked toward the kitchen, Lex said, “This family is the most tolerant I know. Look how they put up with Big Al the Drunkard and Luc the Procrastinator for so many years.”
Lucius looked at his brother Alaric over Lex’s head. “For that, I think we are owed her share of the cookies.”
A gurgle of laughter escape Lex. “Not if I beat you to them!”
The tiny petite Lex bolted for the kitchen, leaving the men in her family scrambling to catch up to her. The sound of laughter and love rang out in the big white house where love reigned supreme.