Firecracker Showdown

"Happy 4th of July!" Eric yelled out happily as he scooped up one of his many little nieces. The small child shrieked as she was tossed in the air effortlessly, Eric laughing all the while. Luke chuckled at his lover's antics as he too hugged other people at the holiday barbeque. The couple had been invited to the Saulderman's annual 4th of July party and of course Luke was all ready to go. The drive up had been hectic, since Eric seemed to be forgetting everything from the camera to his boxers to their toiletries. Luke finally got so fed up that he grabbed his bigger lover by the ear and yanked him into the car, shouting that whatever they forgot they could by in town.

Finally the pair made it to the house in the early afternoon, jumping immediately into the fray of the family members already there. It seemed that the entire Sualderman Clan had been invited, with more people that Luke remembered meeting showing up and introducing themselves. He saw a few people from the Christmas party last year, but every time he saw someone he recognized, another two took their place. His hand was about to fall off with all the shakes it was forced into.

When a free moment came up, Luke quickly joined Eric by one of the picnic tables and piled on a plate of food. Eric gave a goofy grin at Luke flustered face. Seeing it, Luke returned it with a more devious one.

"Don't think I don't know what you did Eric. Running to the kids and leaving me to those sharks you call family." Having the good sense to look ashamed, Eric pouted like a small puppy.

"But Luuuke!" he play-whined, "I haven't seen my little nieces and nephews in months!" Luke 'hrumphed' but gave a playful nudge into Eric ribcage, almost causing the football player to spill his food.

"I'll get you back later love. Just you wait."

Laughing nervously, Eric quickly wolfed down a chili hotdog and smiled fully at Luke. Giving a look of disgust, Luke turned and poured himself a cup of ice tea. "I'm going to go find your parents and say hi okay? Try to leave some food for the rest of us you human disposal machine." With a quick poke in Eric's stomach, Luke turned and walked off, leaving Eric looking extremely thoughtful. With a deep swallow, he turned and subtly walked over to the house.

Reaching into his pocket, Eric pulled out his cell phone.

"Yeah it's me." A pause. "No, come over now, while he's busy. I don't want him running or locking himself in the bathroom." Eric closed his eyes in silent prayer. "Yes. Yes, I know he'll be upset, but you know how he is, once he gets an idea in his head, he digs his heels in and won't budge. So we're gonna have to surprise him and catch him off guard." Another pause. "Yeah, me too."

Flipping the phone shut, Eric went inside and began making preparations.

/\/\/\/\/\

"So how does it feel being a college graduate now Luke?" asked one of the many cousins of Eric. Shrugging, Luke swallowed the bite of hamburger in his mouth.

"I don't know really." He paused, scanning the crowds for Eric. Not spotting him immediately, Luke continued, "I mean, I still feel the same, so it's a bit surreal I guess. I'm waiting to hear back from some graduate schools right now for business and marketing. If that doesn't work out, then I'll just find a job for a year, get some experience, and try again later. I'm in no rush really." Finishing his food, Luke tossed his plate off to the side in a trashcan. Suddenly he was picked up from behind and propped onto a broad set of shoulders fireman style.

"'Scuse me folks, but I gotta borrow my lover for a bit, hope you don't mind."

Holding his mouth tightly shut until the world stopped spinning, Luke began pounding the back of his sudden attacker. "Eric! What the fu – I mean, what the heck!" Seeing little kids running around made Luke pause mid-rant. Not getting a response, Luke twisted but found no release; Eric was holding on tight. Huffing in frustration, he fell back onto Eric frame and sighed, "Can you at least tell me what we're doing?"

Not seeing his lover's face, Luke heard Eric mumble, "I wanna show you something heart, it's inside though." Frowning slightly at Eric's tone, Luke rolled his eyes.

"You know, some couples take the normal route and walk together."

Eric laughed, "Yeah, but why be normal? Besides, I like carrying you. Reminds me of how strong I am for you."

Sighing again, Luke didn't have the heart, nor the mental age, to argue with his lover. Walking past Eric's parents, Luke perked up at hearing his name called. Karolyn came over to them and, not even quirking an eyebrow at her son and son-in-law's crazy behavior, asked if Luke could take a platter in. Convinced now that the Sualderman craziness only increased as the family got together, Luke nodded and took the tray with one hand, while using the other one to keep him balanced on Eric's back.

"So what is it you're showing me again?"

Shaking his head, Eric answered, "Nu-uh, not telling. You have to see it for yourself."

The pair went up the stairs and onto the patio. Ducking a bit so Luke didn't get whacked, Eric walked inside the house. With his back to the room, Luke looked up at his lover as Eric stepped back and closed the door.

"Okay, so what is it Eric?"

Turning around, Luke saw Eric's face set into a grim look. It was the face he put on when he stepped out onto the field when he was about to make a difficult play and was unsure of the outcome. It was also the face Eric wore when he was going to do something that he thought was best, despite what Luke thought.

"Turn around Luke." Eric commanded.

Feeling the hairs on his neck stand at the sudden chill in his gut, Luke whipped around and gasped at the two people standing there in the room.

"Hello Luke."

"Hello son."

The platter fell to the floor in a loud clatter, silencing all other noises in the room.

/\/\/\/\/\

The whole room was tense, and the lack of noise was deafening. Luke began panting heavily as he took in the sight before him.

Standing barely a few yards away were his mother and father. Seeing them in the flesh, Luke's memory flashed back to the last time he saw them. Four years had passed, almost exactly to the day, his mind randomly came up with, and the time hadn't been kind to his parents. His father had more grey hairs in his beard, along with a few bags under his eyes. His mother too had some grey in her hair, and there were now crow's feet at her eyes. Despite the difference in their faces though, they still had that same look on their faces when one of their children had done something to make them proud.

Luke's mother, Aabha, was wearing a silk lavender dress with a white henna design on it. Luke remembered pooling his allowance back in high school with his siblings to buy that dress for her one Mother's Day. His father, Ghalib, was wearing a dark business suit with a matching tie, white with purple henna designs on it. Again, something that Luke bought with his siblings on Father's Day.

Mouth opening and closing soundlessly, Luke stood silent as his parents stared back at him. When his father took a cautious step forward, Luke immediately snapped out of his daze and moved to step back. He fell into Eric's strong arms however, and felt hands grip his shoulders tightly. Struggling, Luke ripped free and turned around, looking up at his lover, who now made sure to block the only exit out.

"W-what are you doing Eric?" Luke whispered, his voice heavy with the pain of this betrayal.

With tears in his eyes, Eric shook his head. "You can't run anymore Luke. I know how much you're hurting from your past, and it hurts me too." Placing his hands gently back on his lover's arms, he began to gently rub them. "I invited them here, so you could finally resolve your differences and heal at last."

"No!" Luke cried at, pushing Eric's hands off his arms. How could the man he loved do this to him? He couldn't believe what was going on, what was happening right now.

"Luke, heart, I want you to listen-"

"NO!" Yelling, Luke pushed at Eric, trying to claw his way to freedom. Shuddering and feeling tears slip down his cheeks, he blindly grabbed whatever he could grip and began hitting, yelling obscenities. Eric took them all in stride, blocking most hits and not saying a word as Luke kept yelling. Finally, Luke's knees gave way and Eric grabbed hold, bringing his sobbing lover into his arms.

As Luke whimpered and tried vainly to get loose, Eric leaned down and whispered, "Luke listen to me. I love you – that will never change. Nothing you say or do will make me not love you. But you're hurting. Our entire relationship, you've been hurting and finally, finally I can make things right. I just need you to try with me." Luke didn't say a word. "I found your family and contacted them. They've been looking for you for a long time, almost since you left. They miss you and want you back. Please Luke, please listen to them."

Not saying a word, Luke gave a shuddering breath and stood up. Giving Eric an unreadable look, Luke turned and faced his parents. Aabha had tears in her eyes and Ghalib was holding her tightly, comforting her as they saw just how negatively Luke reacted to them.

Silence reigned for a few moments, until Luke broke it with, "Is what he says true? Or did you just tell him that so you could rub more insults in my face?"

"Luke!" Eric was shocked at the cruelty coming out of his boyfriend's mouth.

"No we deserve that." Ghalib whispered. Luke said nothing; he only continued to glare. "We said some cruel things to our child on that day, things said out of anger and surprise."

"We deserve so much more too." picked up Aabha. "When Luke came out to us, we reacted badly. We said no son of ours was gay, that what he was saying was dirty and foul. We screamed and yelled at him. I slapped him and my husband pushed him out of the kitchen where we were arguing. Luke stormed off in a temper, up to his room, yelling that he never wanted to see us again. We said, 'Do us a favor then and leave!'" She choked on her words and began sobbing, her whole body wracked with the pain of her memories.

Clearing his throat, Ghalib continued. "Luke, you have always been a passionate child. So when you began packing and loading up your suitcases, we thought nothing of it. We were still angry so we just ignored you and the slamming of the front door…" Pausing, Adrisa began again, this time with a hitch. "W-when you didn't come home the next day, we started to worry. A few more days passed, and we began calling all your highschool friends. No one had seen you since the last week. We knew immediately that you had left."

Tears were falling down Luke's father's face. "We called the police and explained everything to them. They said that since you were of legal age, and had left of your own free will, they had no reason to suspect foul play and were unable to help." Sobbing now, Ghalib looked at his son and said, "We never stopped looking Luke, all the years, we kept an eye out by hiring private eyes, searching the social networks, anything we could think of. But you had disappeared and eventually we gave up hope."

Luke stared at his parents, unsure now of what to do. He jumped when Eric spoke behind him. "I was the one who found them. It was a few weeks after Easter Luke; I was cleaning out our bedroom and found your birth certificate, along with your parents' names. So I typed them in a search engine and found your dad's business and e-mail. I told them everything – from who I was, our relationship, our address, anything that I thought was important.

They only kept asking about you though. Once they knew you were safe and happy, they immediately wanted to come visit you. I invited them to our graduation and they saw you there."

Luke's mouth dropped open again. "So you were there!"

Aabha nodded. "We saw you and began thanking God." She gave small, tear-filled smile. "You were amazing you in your speech, both of you. We were so proud of you Luke; you came so far on your own and you made the best of yourself."

"By no thanks to you." Luke gripped out; however his words had lost their barb. He stood there, awkwardly shifting from one foot to the next. A thought came to him. "So where is the rest of the family? Where's Nadeen, Padmaal, and Udaya?" He listed of his sisters' and brother's names.

"They wanted to come to your graduation but couldn't-"

"Because their brother's a flaming homo?" interrupted Luke bitterly. Eric hugged his lover closer to him, holding him tightly in his arms. Shaking her head, Aabha continued.

"Your sisters couldn't get out of school and across the country quick enough, and your brother couldn't be reached at the time. He was locked away in a meeting all day and didn't get our messages until late in the evening. His secretary was fired on the spot."

Luke couldn't help but smile; that sounded exactly like Nadeem. "So where are they now?"

Ghalib looked his son, a hopeful expression on his face. "They're outside in the car. When Eric invited us to his family's barbeque, we immediately called everyone and told them where you were."

Luke jumped at hearing that. "Wait…you called everyone? As in the whole family?" Seeing both of his parents nod, Luke quickly ran over to the front window, facing the driveway. Outside were perhaps a dozen cars, maybe more, all packed with people. Luke could see uncles and aunts, cousins and his grandparents. He even saw his siblings too.

Eric, Aabha and Ghalib followed him. Seeing the number of people, Eric gave a low whistle.

"Everyone who was available on such short notice packed up and drove here. We made reservations at hotels in town and also brought food for the dinner tonight." Aabha said, standing close to her son, yet not touching him.

Ghalib murmured, "They're here for you Luke. We love and accept you. Everyone has missed you so much these past four years. Please…please, can you forgive us and let us back in your life?"

Luke's back was too them. Standing there, they saw that his head was hung low and his shoulders began to shake. Soon they heard the sobs and quiet whimpers. With a sudden turn, Luke reached out and hugged his two parents tightly, crying incoherently. Aabha and Ghalib immediately started to cry too, both whispering soothing words and apologies into their son's ears.

Eric gave a smile in their direction before quietly walking out to tell Luke's family to walk around to the back.

The inside of the house was left undisturbed for the remainder of the afternoon.

/\/\/\/\/\

BOOM!

The night life was lit up for a brief moment as a shower of light and smoke exploded across the sky. 'Oohs' and 'Ahhs' rippled across the crowd as two families sat together and watched the show. Luke's family had been embraced with open arms and eager smiles and any cultural boundaries were immediately forgotten as everyone chowed down on the food. Luke himself finally came out of the house with his parent's and was snatched up by his older brother and younger sisters, all who were crying and hugging him senseless. The rest of the day was spent with Luke playing catch-up with his own family, hearing about all that he missed the past four years. Of course everyone wanted to hear about his college life, and naturally about Eric too. Nadeem got it into his head that since he was Luke's big brother, he had to 'personally' approve of Eric. Luke nipped that in the bud real fast, threatening to kick Nadeem's ass. Laughing, Eric said that he would welcome any challenge from Nadeem. Ten minutes later the two of them were playing football and acting like the best of friends.

Currently, Luke was sitting in between Eric's legs and leaning onto his chest while Eric himself laid down on the grass. Tracing his fingers along the contours of Eric's thigh muscles, Luke gave a small chuckle as Eric squirmed in ticklish delight.

Flipping himself over and scooting up a bit, Luke looked down at Eric's face. With a smile, Eric leaned up and gave his love a kiss on the lips.

"I did good right?" he asked Luke.

With a dramatic sigh, Luke rolled his eyes and groused out, "Yeah I guess you did Eric…but you owe me something." He finished with a playful glare.

Eric raised an eyebrow. "Oh really?"

"Yes really." countered Luke. One of his fingers began making circling motions around one of Eric's nipple, before the rest of his hand came up and pinched it. With a hiss, Eric tried to swipe Luke's hand away, but the smaller man held tight. He let go when he felt Eric's nipple had been punished enough. "But you also deserve a reward too I believe."

Eric gave a lecherous grin. "Oh really?" he asked again in a teasing manner.

"Do you want me to pinch you other nipple?" Eric immediately stopped teasing. "Good. Now as I was saying," and now Luke began tracing his fingers up and down Eric's body, pressing in between the ridges of his muscles and limbs, "that you deserve both a punishment and a reward. The only thing I can think of is…" he left of his sentence, taunting Eric.

Squirming as Luke's body grinded into his own, Eric tried to not become too aroused since there were kinds around still. "Is what Luke, c'mon teeeell meeee!" he pleaded.

"Make-up sex."

"Huh?" He did not just hear that right…did he?"

"Tonight, in our bedroom, you stop when I say stop, and you cum when I say you cum. And Eric…you will work for every load, I promise you that." Luke finished with a devilish smile.

Or at least it would have been devilish had Eric not lunged up and began kissing his lover raw. When the two finally broke apart, Luke was panting heavily.

"Oh Luke I can't possibly wait." smiled Eric as he rolled both of them on their sides, watching as the remainder of the fireworks exploded across the night sky.