Matt closed the door behind him and sighed. It was only noon. The kids would be at school for another couple hours , and Sean's car wasn't in the garage. He must've gone shopping. "There goes my nice empty Visa bill." He muttered to himself, and flopped onto their bed, still fully dressed. He was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
He'd been gone for a month, doing promotional stuff for his new album, and while he had slept on the plane, there was nothing like sleeping in your own bed.
The door slammed downstairs, and there was a sound of hurried footsteps up the stairs, along with faint sniffling. Brie tiptoed down the hall, hoping that one of her daddies were home, and peeked into the bedroom, eyes widening at the sight of Matt. "Daddy!" She yelped, launching herself onto him, and looking very much like a black-haired, pint-sized Sean as she did it. For now, her sadness was gone; her daddy was home!
Matt snarfled softly and opened one eye, blinking the sleep from his gaze. "Nn.. what the hell?" He mumbled, looking at the clock. ".. Brie, it's only twelve-thirty. What are you doing home? Is Sean back? Did he pick you up?" He sat up, hugging her back, but very confused.
The tone of his voice made her upset again, and her breath started hitching as he eyes welled with tears. She shook her head. "I.. I h..had to come home..."
"... how did you get home?" He asked, looking at her with wide eyes.
"T..took a taxi..." She wiped her nose on her sleeve.
"A TAXI?!" Matt gaped. The thought of his little girl taking a taxi by herself terrified him, but he immediately softened, seeing the tears. "I'm sorry, baby. I'm not yelling at you. I.. you should've phoned one of us. Why did you have to come home?"
Brie whimpered. "I.. hurt somebody..." he mumbled, not looking at him.
".. you hurt someone?" Matt repeated, and frowned. "Brianna.. tell me exactly what happened."
She was getting worked up again. "T..they said I c..can't ever go back to school again... a..and that I was a ju..juvenile delinquent... I'm not a juvenile delinquent, am I, Daddy?"
Matt held her close and swayed with her a little bit, letting her calm down. There was no sense in having her talk to him when she was this upset. "Shh, baby. Just breathe, and tell me what happened, okay?"
"Stupid Brandon Ferguson and his friends were saying mean things..."
"That having two daddies isn't normal and you and Mum are going to Hell and me and Kellen are too..." her voice was rising in pitch as she got more and more upset. "A..and he called you the bad word..."
Matt's jaw clenched, and he kissed her forehead. "Shh, sweetheart." He said through clenched teeth. "What happened after that? Where was the teacher?"
Brianna shook her head. "Wasn't around... a..and I couldn't just let him say that stuff... so I kicked him, a.. and the teacher saw that part..." She sniffled again. "..he lied to her, Daddy. Told her I was a bully and trying to beat him up... a.. and now I can't go back to school anymore!" The last statement was punctuated with a dramatic sob; she was Sean's daughter, after all. Biological or no.
Matt stroked her hair and reached for his car keys, almost shaking with anger. "Brie, you shouldn't have kicked him. But he shouldn't have said those things to you. Come on, we're going to talk to your principal."
Her eyes widened. "He's mean, Daddy..."
"So am I , darling." He took her hand and went down to the car with her, starting it up. "And after, we'll go for lunch, okay? But.. you will be punished for kicking that other boy."
She sniffled, her voice going quiet. "Yes, Daddy..."
Matt drove back to the school, which was quiet, now that classes were in session once more. Still holding Brianna's hand, he went to the receptionist, giving her his most winning smile. "I'd like to see the principal as soon as possible."
The older woman melted and nodded, speaking on the phone for a moment. "Your name, sir?"
There was a pause, and she hung up. "He can see you now. I.. sir?"
".. could I have your autograph for my daughter?"
Matt's eye twitched. This was hardly the time, but still. He signed an autograph for the woman's daughter, nodded to her, and went into the principal's office. "Excuse me."
Brianna, though hardly shy, tried her hardest to hide behind him. What if she got in worse trouble? Could you be expelled from the city?
At the voice, the principal turned around. Mr. Tooly was aptly named; he was a complete and utter tool. And he looked rather rat-like, with beady eyes and a pointy nose, and slightly mal-formed teeth. "...can I help you?" He asked, with the voice of someone who'd just tasted bleach. Or worse... Sean's food.
".. Yes. I'm Matthew Grey. Brianna's father. I'd like to speak to you about the suspension. "
He counted back from ten. "And what right do you have to expell my daughter? Those little shits were harassing her."
"There's no evidence against those boys. She provoked and attacked him on purpose. Some of the students even say it was pre-meditated."
Brie's mouth dropped open. So did Matt's.
"No evidence? They were harassing her, and telling her that her entire family was going to hell. " He growled, and turned to Brianna. "Cover your ears, love." Once she had, he looked back to the principal. "They called us faggots."
That was the bad word. Matt had told both children that they were not allowed to use it. He personally hated it.
"How did she provoke them? And where was the teacher during this!? How can you possibly say that Brianna attacked three boys that were bigger than she was, you wanker!?"
Mr. Tooly, however, was calm. "Mr. Grey. I assure you, we wouldn't expel a student without good reason. The truth is, this is not the first time something like this has happened with your daughter. Brianna is... well... she's what we call a bad seed." He looked him over coolly. "It's obvious where she gets it."
Matt's eyes went dark. No one badmouthed his daughter. "Look, you--." He calmed himself and took a deep breath. "Don't you dare badmouth my family. You let a nine-year-old get in a taxi by herself! She could've been kidnapped or killed! I pay good money - even if it is -fag- money - to have my children here in this school, because I was promised that they'd be safe here, and they'd get a good education. I've even donated extra money when I -really- didn't have to. I didn't like this school. I didn't want to send them here, but the kids liked it, so I put up with it. But this is.. this is beyond bullshit."
The principal merely looked at him, an amused twinkle in his rat-like eyes. "So you're saying that.. because you have donated extra money, your daughter, a common playground bully, should get preferential treatment? That hardly seems fair, Mr. Grey. After all, the parents of all the other students at this school pay just as much as you... some even more."
"She is absolutely not a playground bully. So help me god, I will get so many human rights lawyers up your asses. I will have so many gay rights groups on your case that you won't be able to breathe. " He nodded to the phone on the principal's desk. "Call my son's class. Now."
Mr. Tooly, however, was unfazed. "Brianna could have seriously hurt that boy. He was rushed immediately to the family doctor to be certain there was no lasting damage done. If he ends up being sterile, why, I wouldn't be surprised at all if there was a lawsuit. He comes from a very affluent family, you know. They value their offspring."
"Right. Right. Heavens forbid that a heterosexual family's child was hurt. " He was using every ounce of self-control he had not to punch the man across the desk, and took out his cell phone, dialing a number. "Hello? Yes, wonderful. This is Matthew Grey, I'd like to speak to James, please? " He turned away. "James, how are you? Lovely, thank you. " He explained the incident to his lawyer, who promised to come right down. Matt gave the principal his warmest smile. "We'll just wait here for him. If you'd phone my son and have him come down, please."
For the first time, the other man was showing signs of losing his cool. His left eye was twitching ever so slightly, making him look even more like a rat. He sighed and phoned the front office to call Kellen in to see him via the intercom.
Kellen looked confused as hell when he came into the room a few minutes later, but brightened at seeing Matt. "Dad! When did you get back?"
"This afternoon. My flight from Tokyo was early." He smiled. "We're just waiting for my lawyer."
".. Lawyer?" Kellen asked, sitting down on Matt's other side. ".. why?"
"Oh, let your principal answer." Matt was fairly certain he couldn't say the man's name without snickering.
Mr. Tooly gave him a look that would wilt flowers. "Brianna has been expelled for attacking another student. Your father thinks I've made a mistake."
Brianna, not wanting to get into worse trouble, still had her ears covered.
Matt gently lowered her hands and sat with that same smile, and Kellen stared at his sister, gaping.
"You attacked another student, Brie?!"
"H..he called Daddy and Mum the bad word... and said we were all going to Hell."
Mr. Tooly snorted.
".. Good thing you beat him up." Kellen said, sitting back in his chair. "Am I leaving the school too, dad?"
"Mmhm. Just waiting for the lawyer."
"We gonna sue 'em?" Kellen looked delighted.
"Maybe. " Matt smiled sweetly at Mr. Tooly.
"You'd never win," The other man murmured.
Brie looked proud of herself when Kellen approved. She worshipped her big brother.
"Oh, I don't know. Brie, how many boys were harassing you?" Matt asked.
"Brandon Ferguson and his stinky friends Sam Peters and Darren Miskewicz."
"Three . Three boys against one girl. And even if we don't win, which I think we will, you probably won't get many same-sex parents choosing this school. That'll be a victory within itself."
An older gentleman came into the principal's office and greeted Matt as well as the children, and Kellen got a little shy. He always thought that Matt's lawyer had looked like the guy who played God from that Jim Carrey movie. And having God as your lawyer was pretty cool, he thought.
"Would you like to take them to court, Matthew?"
"Do you think we have a chance at winning?"
James looked at Brianna and chuckled. "Well, as much as she looks like a hellraising bully..."
"I think you could have a case."
Matt nodded and signed the paperwork that James handed to him.
"Right, then. We'll be seeing you in court." Matt said cheerfully.
Mr. Tooly looked like a deer in headlights. A ratty one. "...what? You're suing me? That's preposterous!"
"Technically, we're suing the school. " He shrugged.
He sneered. "Suit yourself. You don't have a case. Despite what your.. lawyer says. It's their word against hers. 3 against 1. Who do you think the jury will believe?"
"Brie?" Matt smiled at her and motioned to start crying. Hard. Of course, at the moment, Brie wasn't upset, so it was hard. But luckily, she was a good little actress. She could fake-cry with the best of them, and pretty soon the fake tears had turned to real ones. Matt just gave Mr. Tooly a huge grin, and scooped up his daughter, offering Kellen his free hand, which he took, sticking his tongue out at the principal. And of course, Mr. Tooly was too stupid to realize just how screwed he was.
He thanked James again, and told him to keep in touch. "So. Lunch. Where do you two want to go?" He was still in a suit, although it was rumpled, and the kids were in their uniforms. "Somewhere fancy?"
"Fancy?" asked Brie. Her idea of fancy was anywhere without a drive-through window. "...Subway?"
"... no, darling. An actual menu."
Kellen climbed in the backseat. "Like that place we went in Paris?"
Matt nodded. "Mmhm." He phoned Sean's cell number and waited.
Luckily, the customers in the store barely looked up when Diana Ross began singing 'I'm Comin' Out' from Sean's belt clip. The redhead answered, squealing into the mouthpiece. "Matty!"
"Hello, darling. Grab a suit and come meet us for lunch. I'm thinking that little place we went to last week."
"A.. suit? Where will I get a suit on such short notice?" Sean looked down at himself. He was wearing cutoff denim shorts (extra-short, of course), a Green Day t-shirt, and converse low-tops.
"... Home? A store?" Matt asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Depends on when we're meeting. I'm not finished shopping yet.. ooh." Sean was distracted by a pair of patent leather heeled boots. "Nice."
"... Darling, I was planning on going for lunch right away. You can go shopping after." He started the car.
Sean sighed silently, hanging up the things he'd already gotten to try on. He'd have to come back later. He pouted. "Fine, be there in ten. Mwah."
Matt hung up and shook his head. "Sometimes it's like I 'ave a wife." He mumbled, and drove off towards the restaurant. He got lucky when he got there, there were a few tables opened. He sat down with the kids and ordered a virgin pina colada for Kellen and Brianna, and a glass of wine for himself and Sean, letting the kids read over the menu.
Luckily, there was a suit store on the way to the restaurant. Unfortunately for Matt's Visa card, it had only designer suits. Sean strolled in looking like he'd stepped off a GQ magazine cover. If.. you know... GQ was gay.
Matt kissed him softly. "Hello, my love." He smiled, slipping an arm around Sean's waist. "We need to talk."
Sean felt his heart drop down into his stomach, the smile vanishing from his face. That sentence was never good.
That's all we have so far. Hope's modem died in .. July. And it's been very difficult, since I can't very well write this on my own. So the plans we had for Dearly Beloved to come out at Christmas are kind of out the window at this point.
Any questions and comments can, of course, be sent to – and we'll get more done when we can!