"Hi, Mr. Rollins, hi Mrs. Rollins," Terrance said, opening the door to let them in.
"Anna," admonished Alexander's mother.
"Right, Anna. Sorry." Terrance grinned. "Hi, Alexander. Um…Your sister. Heather?"
Alexander grinned back and nodded. Heather was less impressed and pushed past them both into the house.
Terrance looked at Alexander. "She and Naomi are going to get along, aren't they?"
"Probably," Alexander agreed, remembering what little he'd seen of Naomi and knowing what he did of his twin.
Terrance took his hand and led him inside. Both sets of parents hand taken over the couches and were making small talk about the weather, or coffee, or whatever it was that adults always seemed to be chatting about.
"It's been so cold lately…" Terrance's mother said, leaning forward eagerly.
The weather, then.
"It has," Alexander's father agreed. "But—"
"Dad!" Alexander groaned. "Can't we talk about something else?"
"Oh?" his dad said, looking at Alexander. "And what would you suggest?"
"I don't know…books?"
"Adults don't have time to read books," Alexander's mother told him, looking at Terrance's parents nervously. Alexander didn't blame him. If Terrance's parents liked to read, then that statement would probably lead to a lot of awkwardness.
Of course, Alexander figured if his parents watched fewer than five hours of television a night, they might have some time for books.
"Thank you for reminding me why I don't want to be an adult," Terrance added, sitting down on the floor between the two couches, making a small U-shape of people. "I won't get to read much."
Alexander's dad frowned at Terrance, and Alexander pretended not to notice as he sat down next to his boyfriend. His dad wasn't a fan of teenagers, really, an old man before his time. He thought they were too irresponsible, and Terrance had practically just admitted to wanting to stay a kid.
He sighed, but stopped when Terrance took his hand and said, "So when's dinner going to be ready, Mom?"
His mother looked over at them. "Oh, in maybe fifteen minutes."
"What did you guys make?" Alexander asked curiously, looking to Terrance, wondering if he chipped in at dinner. He'd had to learn to cook somewhere, obviously.
Terrance grinned. "You'll find out in fifteen minutes."
Dinner was pot roast; it wasn't bad. Terrance never took any credit for it, though, which was frustrating. If he had helped, it would be good for Alexander's parents to know that. It might make them like him more, if they thought he helped out like that.
But how was he supposed to tell Terrance to brag?
Everyone was fairly quiet while they ate, and crammed together as the table that normally sat four and could comfortably fit six tried to accommodate eight people. Alexander liked Terrance, but that didn't mean he wanted to be crammed this close to him.
His parents didn't look upset about it, though, so that was good. Heather looked a bit crabby, but she hadn't even wanted to come. Their parents had insisted, though, because they didn't want to leave her home alone for dinner, and Terrance's sister would be there, in any case.
Alexander didn't blame her, though. She and Naomi had been pretty well ignored the entire evening so far.
Terrance glanced over at him and smiled hopefully, a silent question.
Alexander nodded and smiled back. It felt weird to break the thick silence that had descended, but that didn't mean he was upset by it.
"You two are sickening," Heather complained, pointing her fork at her brother.
Alexander scowled at her, but felt his face heat up regardless. Why was smiling at his boyfriend "sickening"? "You're just jealous," he insisted.
Heather rolled his eyes. "For the last time, 'Xander, I'm not jealous of you. Yes, you have a boyfriend. Whatever. I don't have to be jealous to not want to watch you coo over each other at the dinner table."
Cooing? Smiling at someone was cooing over them now?
Terrance turned bright red, though. "Sorry," he managed, looking down at his plate. Alexander kicked him gently, trying to get his attention, to tell him he shouldn't be embarrassed—he wasn't the one who got mad at dinner. This was hardly the time or place for his sister to start complaining. Terrance didn't look up, though, and Alexander sighed quietly.
Heather had broken the oppressive silence, though, so Alexander almost forgave her when Terrance's dad said, "So, uh, how do you all like dinner?"
After they were all finally done eating, Terrance volunteered the two of them to clean up dishes, shooing their sisters and parents out of the room. Where Naomi and Heather disappeared to, Alexander could only guess, but he didn't want to. Their parents were talking in the living room—about their sons, this time, and Alexander was suddenly glad he wasn't expected to be in the room with them.
"That could have gone better," Terrance muttered, grimacing and he cleared plates off of the table and stacked them next to the sink he was filling with soapy water.
"Could have gone worse, too," Alexander felt compelled to point out as he wiped the table down with a wet rag that Terrance tossed him. "My sister doesn't really get a say in this, you know?"
Alexander finished cleaning the table and looked up at him sharply. "What? Honestly, Terrance, there has to be something bothering you besides that. What?"
Terrance sighed, already elbow deep in water, scrubbing away at dishes. Alexander wandered over to help dry—dishes didn't take as long with help. Finally, Terrance managed to say, "It's just…I wanted tonight to go perfectly, and I've been kind of freaking out about it, and I think your dad hates me, and who can even tell if out parents can get along, and why did we even decide it was so important to have this dinner?"
Alexander stared at him for a long moment as he accepted the first plate and took a dry towel to it. "That was…a lot of stuff in one sentence."
"Yeah, well," Terrance said, shrugging.
"Okay. Well. First off, I don't think my dad hates you. He just doesn't know you yet. He never likes any of the guys Heather and I go out with. He barely likes the friends I've had forever. It's not you. Second, nothing involving families is ever going to go 'perfectly', so stop worrying. And. And I don't know why we thought this was important. It was your parents' idea, not mine."
"You aren't very good at comforting people, are you?" Terrance asked, giving Alexander a look somewhere between exasperation and gratitude. "But…thanks anyway, I guess. You tried."
"I think you're just hard to convince."
They finished the dishes in what Alexander considered record time, considering that there were eight people to wash dishes for, not including ones to make dinner.
And then they got to face their parents again. After listening to Terrance worry at him, he decided it would be best to simply get things out of the way and asked, "Okay, so…what? Do you guys like each other or not?"
He could hear Terrance smacking his forehead, but pretended not to.
It made the adults laugh, though, so that was good.
"I'm not sure we know each other well enough to make a decision on that yet," Alexander's dad said.
"But," Terrance's father continued, "that's nothing we can't fix by having some more of these little get togethers." He smiled, and Alexander decided to take that as a good sign. He turned to Terrance.
"See? Stop worrying."
The adults laughed again. "Oh, I hope you stick around for a while, Alexander," Terrance's mother said when she managed to settle her amusement again.
Alexander's father smiled. "If he's that straight-forward with someone, I think he will."
Terrance and Alexander met each other's eyes and turned varying shades of red—Terrance's was a bit deeper, but then, he had a darker tan. But Terrance did take his hand again and settle them to sit down and join the conversation.
Alexander looked down at their hands and squeezed Terrance's gently. Yeah, things would definitely last a while.