Chapter One: New Addition
“So Daniel, you like to paint, right?” Arty asked, turning in the passenger’s seat to look back at the teen, the boy’s dark eyes looking out of the car window. They flickered to Arty when the man spoke, and the teen smiled lightly.
Arty gave a big smile and reached out to pat Jack’s shoulder, his older husband looking out at the icy road while he drove. It had been a five hour drive to and from the orphanage, where Daniel was driven from his foster family’s home to wait for his new adoptive parents. There, it was chilly with frost on the grass. Once they reached the tall mountains of Colorado, the snow had taken over everything, and the roads held a layer of ice that made the road a little risky. “I knew he was going to be a painter,” Arty said like it was a bet. Jack rolled his eyes and glanced at Daniel through the rear view mirror.
“Arty likes to think he can see a painter by their face,” he said. Arty snorted and sat back in his seat.
“I’ve never been wrong, sweet husband. Speaking o-f,” Arty turned in his seat to look at Daniel again, the teen noticing and perking up, looking at the brunette when he sensed his eyes. “Jack used to be a painter, so I think you’ll love the art room. We have more supplies than you’ll probably even use,” the man said and smiled meekly. Daniel crossed a foot over his thigh and glanced back out of the window.
“These plains look very good for painting,” he said, and looked back at Arty to smile. “It must be very lovely here.”
Arty nodded and turned back to look at some paperwork that he hadn’t really been reading yet. “It really is; I grew up down in the north, though, so I didn’t see much snow. This all is really Jack’s forte.”
“Speaking of forte, we’re almost there,” Jack spoke up, where the city life started to become visible. From the city, it was a forty minute drive to the house, which lay in the snowy countryside, away from all of the meddling and stress that overcrowded towns held.
At a time that couldn’t come sooner, the house came into view to relieve them of their long driving. Daniel had to take a plane ride from his first home, on top of the drive with Arty and Jack.
Jack turned into the driveway that was close to needing another shoveling and parked the car. Arty was the first to get out, stretching his body and letting the biting cold assault his warmed skin from the car’s heater. Daniel followed pursuit, but he was very reserved and stifled a yawn, taking up his back pack that he had sat with and flinging it onto his shoulder. Arty glanced and him and laughed.
“You can loosen up- get a good stretch in there, you must be dying.”
Daniel’s cheeks warmed, but he just shook his head, smiling meekly. “It’s okay.”
Jack got out of the car and went to the back, where he popped the truck to get Daniel’s belongings; two suitcases of clothes and some cardboard boxes of presumably, his art and supplies. “You guys can go on in, I’ll get these,” he called. Daniel looked at Arty, who didn’t waste any time. The man waved for Daniel to follow and left to the front door.
When Daniel caught up to him, Arty whispered playfully, “If he offers, take it and run.” Daniel chuckled lightly before asking, “You have a son, what was his name again?”
“Geil, he’s six. He’s inside waiting to meet you,” Arty replied. He then started stomping his shoes on the porch to get the snow off. In his peripheral, he could see Daniel watching him before doing the same. He chuckled. “Jack’s brother is a carpenter, and I don’t want him to come all the way down just to do the floor again,” Arty added. Daniel nodded. The teen then furrowed his eyebrows, his dark bangs covering them, which meant he was due for a haircut.
“Why do you live so far away?” he asked. Arty clicked his tongue.
“Well, for the privacy, mostly. Jack works in the city a lot, and he doesn’t like work coming into our home life. Plus, my insanely annoying mom lives in the city. B-ut, she’s here babysitting, so... I hope you like family drama as much as the next person,” the man said and smiled for humor. Daniel laughed.
“See, you’re getting it.” Arty reached out to pat Daniel’s head of curly, dark brown hair before opening the door to let them in.
The house was as big inside as it was outside, and it was even more ornate and expensive than anticipated, on account of Jack’s job at the law firm. It was something Daniel’s eyes hadn’t even imagined before, yet it still looked human and lovely, and comfortable, like a natural home.
“You okay?” Arty asked Daniel. The teen nodded and glanced at the man.
“I know,” Arty sighed. “I was thinking of us going bigger.” He laughed when he saw the look in Daniel’s dark eyes. “I’m kidding, it’s already a little too big. But, Jack’s family grew up with money, on top of his job, so it’s just natural for the Masons to make a spectacle of things.”
“You aren’t from an aristocratic family?” Daniel asked, watching Arty. The man whistled and shook his head.
“Nope. And what about you, Mr. Vinci? Did you grow up swimming in gold?” the man asked, shrugging his coat off. Daniel gave him a look like he were silly.
“No. Scotland is full of castles and blood money, but I’m not in that category.”
“Never know; you could use a genealogy site and find out you’re a secret royalty~” Arty suggested, giving the teen a half smile. Daniel chuckled and rolled his eyes.
“Aw, I knew you’d open up fast,” Arty laughed, hanging his coat on the hanger beside the front door. Daniel smiled softly and took off his own to do the same.
A child’s excited yell sounded from the kitchen, just passed a sofa and near the staircase, through a tall open arch. The boy came into view, running through the arch and to Arty, who dipped down to sweep the boy up.
“Daddy!” the child squealed, wrapping his arms around Arty’s neck and his legs around d his waist.
“Ah, there you are, little baby,” Arty pinched Geil cheek before hugging him. He glanced at Daniel with a smile at seeing Geil. “Geil, this is your new brother Daniel, go ahead and tell him hello!” he said and peered at Giel’s face. The pale blonde haired child looked at Daniel, Arty brushing his hair down when he noticed some strands sticking up from whatever horseplay he had been up to while they were gone.
The child didn’t say anything, but he did stare at Daniel, trying to save the teen’s face into his head, or see if he knew him from somewhere. Other than that, the child didn’t do anything, because he didn’t know what to do. Daniel didn’t, either, standing with his hands at his sides.
“Hello,” Daniel finally said. Geil’s light blue eyes lit up and he looked at Arty with a childish grin.
“He sounds funny!”
Arty laughed. He quickly shook his head and started to explain. “He’s from Scotland, Geil, so he talks different. It’s cool, isn’t it?” He glanced at Daniel and winked, which made the teen feel a little better.
The front door came open and Jack stepped inside with the things. The boxes stood tall in his arms, covering his face, and he somehow managed to carry in the suitcases, too, one under his arm and the other in his occupied hands. He set the suitcases doen before the boxes, and once empty of the weights, stood up straight and coughed from the chilliness of outside. His nose and cheeks were pink.
“Aw, Babe, did you get stuck?” Arty asked in a teasing voice that Daniel smiled at, looking at the cold man. Jack’s hair was a light brown or sandy blonde color, with grey strands that fit into the combed hair. His chin had brown and grey scruff that Arty was very fond of looking at, but already tired of touching. The man shook his head, being too prideful in himself.
“Never. Where’s your mother?” he asked, taking off his coat and putting it away with the others.
Arty shrugged. “I don’t know.” He handed Geil to Jack, the child asking for him and then complaining when he felt that the man’s hands were cold.
“Boys!” a woman’s voice called from the kitchen.
“Speak of the devil,” Jack muttered.
“Are you here?” she called out again before emerging. She looked like she came with the house, blonde hair in a swirled bun and wearing clothes that looked like Daniel should know the brand of, but he didn’t. She was thin with so much heavy jewelry that she should have been weighed down.
“Oh, Artemis, there you are,” she spoke, her heels checking against the floor as she made her way over. She placed her hands on her son’s cheeks and smiled at him with perfect red lips. “You took so long I thought I was going to take Geil home with me,” she said, though the humor was missing from her words. Neither Arty it Jack laughed, and she dropped a hand from Arty’s cheek to his neck, where she grabbed the silver chain of a necklace that hung around him and played with it. Daniel watched her thoughtful eyes, and then he found them on him. She let go of her son and looked the teen over. “You must be my new grandson.”
The woman tapped her shoes to Daniel and put a hand on the teen’s head, where her rings clacked against his skull. He watched her as she calmly judged him.
“So, Mom,” Arty spoke up, “this is Daniel. Daniel, this is my mom, Sandra,“he announced, watching the two.
“Papa, I wanna show you something,” Geil said to Jack. The older man put the child down and reluctantly followed him upstairs, leaving Arty to his mother, who didn’t seem to mind Jack’s leaving. She kept her attention on Daniel.
“Daniel,” she spoke, “How old are you?” Her brown eyes looked him over again.
“Fifteen,” the teen answered. Sandra gave a breath and looked at Arty, pulling her hand away to put on her hip.
“A twenty eight year old adopting a fifteen year old. How funny does that sound. Isn’t that a, thirteen year difference?” She rose a fine eyebrow and her son noticed the amused smirk plastering its way on her face. He huffed in agitation and looked at Daniel.
“You know Daniel, I was going to ask you to go on and get a snack, but I just realized I haven’t shown you around yet. Excuse us, Mother,” the man said, smiling at the woman. Daniel looked at her, too.
“...It was nice to meet you, Sandra,” the teen said. He held out a hand to shake hers, but she didn’t lift a finger. Arty cleared his throat.
“Come on Daniel, let me show you your room,” the man said.
He stepped passed Sandra to lead Daniel to the stairs, pausing to say, “We’ll see you later?”
His mother didn’t reply. She turned to the front door and opened it, not having a cost because she was fond of her figure.
“Thank you for watching Geil-”
She shut the door before Arty could finish, cutting her son off Andy leaving. The man hummed and put a hand on Daniel’s shoulder. “Let’s go, kiddo.”
The two walked through the living room, where Arty showed Daniel the side doors that led outside, Jack’s office which was near there kitchen and front door, and the nearest closets and bathrooms; there was one bathroom downstairs and two upstairs, which Arty hadn’t shown Daniel yet. He did, though, take the teen into the kitchen, where it was tidy besides a plastic plate with scattered bread crust that sprinkled the dark marble counter beneath it. As Arty walked over to pick up the mess, Daniel stepped aside to look at a large, beige china cabinet.
“Do you and your mum not get along?” the teen asked, a hand raised and brushing lightly over the carvings in the wood. Arty laughed from behind him and Daniel looked into the cabinet’s glass to see Arty’s reflection shaking its head.
“Well, I like her and all, but she’s just apprehensive about some things. I mean, I think it has to do with-”
“Your relationship with Jack?” Daniel watched Arty look up at him before looking away as he scooped crumbs onto the plate.
“Yeah. You’re very smart, aren’t you? I mean, it’s not hard to tell our age difference, but still,” Arty laughed and walked away from the counter to the trash can, where he dumped the plate inside.
“How old is Jack?” Daniel asked, turning around so that he could look fully at Arty. The older brunette turned from the trash, looking up at the ceiling. He twisted his lips in thought before looking at Daniel.
“You’re lying,” Daniel spoke up and Arty laughed and nodded. He dropped his gaze to the floor before looking back to Daniel.
“He’s fifty four. Shocking, isn’t it?” he chortled, but Daniel shook his head.
“You two look happy.”
“Ah, you’re smart and insightful!”
Daniel huffed a smile and Arty motioned for him. “Come on, let’s go upstairs.”
There were two sets of stairs, and they had a beautiful carpet that lined down them. And then there was the hallway, with the two bathrooms, four bedrooms, Jack’s old art room, and a playroom.
“Are you ready to see your room?” Arty asked, when they stopped before a bedroom door.
“Will I share it with Geil?”
Arty laughed. “Not unless you want to.”
“Okay then, I’m ready,” Daniel said through a grin and Arty laughed again.
“Alright, go ahead and open it.”
Daniel gripped the doorknob with his pale hand and turned it slowly before pushing the door open.
It was clean inside, impeccably. The bed was made, with grey and pale blue bedding, and there was a dresser and walk-in closet, with a desk in front of the window. The walls were bright and pale, the floor pale wood like downstairs, but with a soft carpet covering a majority of it. Daniel stepped inside and Arty followed, looking around at the room.
“We didn’t really know what you’d like, so a lot of it’s up to you. And since you like to paint, you can even use the walls,” the man said, smiling lightly at the room he had put together. Then he walked to the closet, where he pat the door to get Daniel’s attention. “It’s a walk-in closet! They’re really neat; I always used to throw my shoes in mine when I was a kid,” Arty laughed. “Every house had to have one, according to my dad.”
Daniel walked to Arty and hugged him. “...Thank you,” he said, hugging Arty around his torso. The man let out a breath and wrapped his arms around Daniel in return, hugging him softly.
“It’s nothing, Daniel. Thank you for deciding to come here.”
Daniel reached a hand up to Arty’s neck.