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Comfort and Joy

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As soon as Berg got in the door, he asked, "How's Michael?"

Pete smiled. "He's hurting a bit, but he's okay. I don't think I'd be that good if I hit a cow at the speed he was going. He liked the plush cow I bought him at the gift shop."

Berg's coat missed the hook as he laughed. "You didn't!"

"I did."

"I'm proud of you. Will Caitlyn ever let us babysit him again?"

"Actually, yeah. It turns out that Michael likes us, and she was impressed that we told her the truth about what happened instead of covering up."

"No matter how unbelievable the truth sounded? 'Yes, your son hit a cow while sledding, but we swear he's just fine.'"

"It wasn't our fault. How the hell could we have foreseen that?"

Berg bowed. "I've taught you well. You now rationalize with the best."

"Yup. So," Pete batted his eyes, "did you comfort the lonely old man?"

"Perv. He beat my 'lanky butt' in Checkers over and over again." At Pete's snickering, Berg repeated, "In Checkers!" Berg sat down next to Pete and cuddled in, putting his head on Pete's shoulder and folding his lanky self up onto the couch. Pete felt like they should have had a fireplace with an obligatory roaring fire in front of them to finish the picture.

"I've heard tell that you've been saying you have no butt." Pete's hand drifted down to the territory in question.

Berg smiled. "That was to annoy the 'lonely old man,' and I don't."

"Sure you do. It's just streamlined, aerodynamic..."

"Which are other ways of saying 'nonexistent.' Ow! Hey!"

Pete followed the slap with a caress. "You didn't like that?"

Berg looked up with his patented fox grin. "Just surprised me, is all."

"That visit was really unlike you."

"It seemed like the right thing to do."

"Did you get kidnapped by elves and brainwashed into the Christmas spirit? I'm getting Clockwork Orange images, but with Santa's helpers."

Berg looked almost shy. "You'll think it's stupid."

"Now I really want to hear it."

"You'll laugh."

"You're the one who laughs at people. I'm the nice one."

"Oh sure."

"It's true! Now give."

Berg sighed. "I'm gonna regret this."

"What else is new?"

"Okay. So Michael and I were sledding-- By the way, can we go sledding again soon?"

Pete snorted. "Sure."

"But next time you do more sledding too. Not that you weren't cute while you were just watching us, all paternal-like--"

"Please don't take this where I think it's going."

Berg stuck out his tongue. "You didn't remind me of my dad. You were just... cute. Then you told the owner that I was yours too. I mean, you didn't tell him that we were lovers, just that I was... yours, and it was public... Oh, shit, I don't know what I'm saying." Berg buried his face in Pete's neck. "Told you it was stupid. Sappy."

Pete smiled. "I'm not just the nice one, I'm the sappy one too, remember? I know exactly what you mean. It made me happy to say that. Especially when I mentioned that I spoil you rotten."

"Calling me 'the big one' helped." Berg curled in closer. "Then Michael got hurt, but he was okay after all, and you didn't get in trouble with Caitlyn. So I was happy and wanted other people to be happy too. Sue me."

"Nah. You're cute like this."

"I like Michael."

"I do too. A lot."

"You going to stick it out with him and his mother?"

"And what's that supposed to mean?"

Berg punched Pete's arm. "Perv."

"I think I'll keep seeing them. Yeah."


"Good? Are you that desperate to be Uncle Berg?"

"You have no idea how desperate I can be."

"There's a frightening thought."

Berg climbed into Pete's lap. "Let me show you." Some time later, Berg gasped, "Still frightened?"


"That's what I thought."