When You're Smilin'

Colorado 
#1


Thanksgiving week was something he’d been looking forward to for a while. It seemed something continued to come up, blocking him from going home since it had been deemed a safe thing to do back in the summer. Now though, there was no excuse and after confirming with his mother several times through calls and texts that he’d be there, Frank was eager for the day to get here. There’d be family he’d been missing out on to catch up with, homesickness for the small town he grew up in egging him on to check into old shops, families, and haunts, and the need to hug his mother fiercely after over a year of not seeing her burning bright.

Considering it’d been a few months since Frank had originally brought up the idea that he go home, there’d been a plan to have Mathis come a few times later. But now because of how things landed and due to the holiday, Frank didn’t feel it right to leave him here. It felt right to invite Mathis to come along for a week in Ouray to meet family, but no pressure either way, giving full disclosure that his mother would probably have his head as soon as they got out of the car. If he could sustain that and some million questions from everyone, he’d love for him to come. The agreement to do so had been icing on the cake and after so many positives this week, Frank was feeling more like himself and even happier past that. Letting the newly formed prowl know where he’d be out till this weekend because of family functions, packing had been done without a sitch.

With the car packed on the Wednesday before the big day, the two would head off onto the trip there. And now some three hours into it with the road in front of them that followed alongside mountains and forests, there was a moment of calm and rightness to the world that had the sun shining especially brighter on the new snow scattered around. A look to Mathis after he turned onto I-50 from 75, he smiled. ”Is it too early for Christmas songs?” A hand would lift for the dial of the radio with a conspiratorial lift of his brows.
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#2


This was, admittedly, pretty nerve-wracking. If only because he was on the way to be introduced to... a lot of Frank's family. It was a big step in a relationship, no matter what way you looked at it. Even if they were both adults, there was some childish apprehension that Frank's family would not approve of him. It was not like that would really change anything for them, but, well, it wouldn't feel nice. He'd try and keep those thoughts to a minimum, and just be excited to experience his first actual Thanksgiving.

The drive was not as long as he expected, really, which was nice to know they wouldn't be in the car for long. Not that he was entirely complaining, it was a nice drive, full of beautiful scenery he didn't get to see often. He was looking over to the far off mountain tops that were capped with snow when Frank spoke up, and he would glance with a lifted brow at the hang hovering toward the radio. "If you want to disrespect the Thanksgiving." He said with a laugh, "Is there such thing as Thanksgiving music?"
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#3
“Disrespecting ‘the Thanksgiving’”, had him chuckling as he turned the channel to a local holiday one now that the station they’d been listening to fuzzed out with poor reception. Hands back on the steering wheel, he considered. ”Sure there are. Like the Peanuts special.”

Turning eyes back to the road, he tried to think of more. ”And… uh, y’know that one that...hah.” Not much else came to mind, unfortunately. A brief look over towards Mathis. ”Maybe some kind of jazz.”
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#4
A peanuts special. Mathis hadn't seen any of those specials, but he knew enough of them to know what he was talking about. He'd glance to the side of Frank's face as he struggled to grasp for another example of a song. "Mm?" He prompted, amused with a lift of his brows. What he settled on elicited a scoffing laugh, "Mhm, Duke Ellington pairs well with cranberry sauce."
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#5
The answer was proceeded by a laugh and addition from Mathis that hadn't been expected in the slightest. It was enough to send him over the edge and into his own laugh, face crinkling up and eyes twinkling. "I don't know what you're talking about that, that's a perfect combo."

A beat and then,”Really makes it pop, especially with a course of beef wellington.”
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#6
"It is!" Mathis would agree with a nod. But- he paused at that. Beef wellington? "Is that a Thanksgiving food??"
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#7
Oh gosh, was it? "Maybe? But not one I've heard of." It was just a fun pun edition and he was sorry for any confusion going forward.

"Ham or turkey are the usual," he reassured. Sometimes brisket too, but that was a very rare occasion at least for him.
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#8
Wait, but... had- oh. That'd been a pun, he recognized now in retrospect. "Oh! Wellington, Ellington." He scoffed with a shake of his head, hand waving in Frank's direction. "What else is there? What is that... red. Thing. I've only seen pictures." A shrug. He just never had had an American friend or companion that invited him to a Thanksgiving meal.
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#9
As it clicked for Mathis, the sides of his face hurt, laughing at the realization.

But, now it was his turn to be confused. ”The… red thing?” Staring forward in thought, Frank was at loss. There wasn't anything besides maybe some kind of jello salad or tomato dish that was red. He didn't imagine Mathis was talking about those, but maybe more so the mainstream ones. Frank gave a look of befuddlement over to him, not exactly sure. ”Uh, the cranberry sauce?”
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#10
He was mildly concerned that Frank didn't know what he was talking about. Mathis could picture it so clearly, there was no way he imagined it. Cranberry sauce? "It's, er, I've seen it when it's cut into weird disks? Off of a...log of it. Like a can shape." Was that sauce?
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#11
The description helped and he let out a breath through a smile, nodding. "Yep, that's jellied cranberry sauce believe it or not." And personally, it was a travesty. He could still remember liking it as a kid, but the times had changed on that quite quickly. But, maybe Mathis would like it...

"Did you want to try it?"
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#12
Jellied... no.

At the offer to try, Mathis would fail to hide a distasteful raise of a lip.

“Must I?”
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#13
A glance and the look of disgust had him huffing out a laugh. ”No, no, god no, its horrible.”

Taking a steadying breath, he shook his head some. ”Even if Aunt Teresa begs you, don’t do it. Its a trap.”
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#14
His lips would pull into a smile at that, head shaking. "Okay, I will try to kindly decline. I'm suddenly deathly allergic to cranberry." Funnier, because Weres could not be allergic to anything. "Do you have... an estimate, on how much family will be there?" He was, of course, used to large families. But, well, this was a family he was meeting for the first time, as the boyfriend of their son or nephew or uncle, who'd suddenly moved away a year ago. It was a strange look, probably.
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#15
A smile bled into his eyes at the excuse as he read a passing road sign.

At the questioning, he scratched at his chin. ”Well, if its the usual, my aunt and uncle and their families will be joining us. It’s about eight or so people last time I counted.” Sending a hand over, he grabbed at what could be reached of a thigh, squeezing it some. ”They’re a good bunch.”
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#16
Aunt and uncle, plus their families. Only eight? He guessed he was, truly, just used to more family at gatherings. He'd move a hand to rest on top of the one on his thigh. "I'm sure they are. You're part of them." He'd give the hand a tight squeeze. "I think, before I left, one of our Christmas feasts reached... oh, almost twenty. All of my sisters had already had children by that point."
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#17
A hand made its home on top of his and the sweet talk had Frank looking over with a laughing huff, enjoying it all the same.

And god, that sounded like a lot. Twenty? Of course, he could see how if siblings had been a thing for him that would’ve added to the count, but as it stood now, it seemed pretty insane. Maybe, once the nephew and nieces married it’d grow to that, but that in and of itself seemed so far away. ”That’s so many! I can’t believe you had room for them all at the table.”
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#18
Mathis would chuckle at that, "Oh, yes, one big long table to seat twenty." He said with a hint of mockery, but it was harmless. "I was actually always made to sit at the table with the children." It was... not a lie. He was, at the time, not yet eighteen the last time he'd attended a Christmas with the family. Well, save for the most recent excursion that had ended disastrously.
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#19
A huff escaped him, rolling his eyes good naturedly. Mathis knew what he meant.

Being always placed at the kid’s table had a furrow of his brows at play with a small laugh. ”Well I hate to break it to you, that trend’s probably following you here.” A table at max usually fit six and so they'd have to bring out a portable one right next to it.
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#20
"I'll fit right in, I'm sure!" He said with a laugh, shaking his head. If he really did have to, well... well, he'd do his best not to act like a child himself. He did like children, though, so he was looking forward to that, if there were any. He'd let that sit for a moment before, posing curiously, but gently, "Did you ever think of having children?" Not to, you know, be rude. It was just something he'd wondered, children were a thing a lot of men his age had by now. He wouldn't be surprised if the answer was no, especially now given, well, everything.
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#21
Chuckling with the exuberance of that statement, he brang his hand back up to the steering wheel, needing it more now that the roads were having more wind to them.

The sudden question about children though had the smile fading back as his face turned to one of contemplation, seriousness pinching brows as they rose a tad while his gaze watched the road. ”Well, I always thought it’d be nice and something that’d happen eventually later on, y'know?” There’d always been that internal question if he could even be a good father when his own had been so absent.

”But later came and went... I can’t now, so,” Frank inhaled with a shrug, exhaling at the last word. What good did it do to think over something out of his reach entirely now? Theoretically, weres could have kids, but it was a path he didn’t want to venture down. And adoption was a potential, always was, but again, having a were father was probably right up there with child endangerment. Being a were had taken so many things from him, even this, but he was trying his best not to dwell on them so much.
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