A free story that celebrates Sean and Jason’s anniversary, and the passing of the Marriage Equality Act in New Zealand in 2013.
Sean’s plan to do something special for his and Jason’s second anniversary doesn’t exactly work out as he intended.
So much for romance. This trip was officially a total disaster. Sean Henderson took a deep breath and poked his head into the men’s room. “You okay in there?” he asked.
He was answered by the unmistakable sound of someone being violently ill. “Yeah, peachy,” Jason Adams replied. “I enjoy puking like this. I can’t wait to do it again.”
Sean winced. One thing he’d noticed early in their relationship was that Jason completely lost his brain to mouth filters when he wasn’t feeling well. “I’ll wait outside then, shall I?” he mumbled.
He waited a few minutes just outside the door then decided he needed some fresh air. The door out to the deck wasn’t that far from the men’s room. If Jason didn’t join him in a few minutes, Sean would go check on him again.
A few deep breaths of brisk sea air and Sean already began to feel more peaceful. He’d thought that taking Jason on the ferry to Picton would be a great way to celebrate their second anniversary together, especially as he knew Jason hadn’t been on a boat before. He’d asked Jason whether they still used boats in the future but Jason had shrugged and said he’d never seen the appeal of them.
The motor of the Arahura hummed beneath his feet as waves crashed into the side of the boat. Sean leaned against the railing and looked out into Cook Strait but his thoughts wandered elsewhere. The last two years had gone by so quickly, but there were moments when he still had trouble wrapping his mind around the fact that the man he loved was a time traveller. Jason had ignored the parameters of the assignment he’d been given and risked his life to save Sean. While Jason wasn’t very forthcoming about details of the time from which he came because of risk to the timelines, occasionally the odd hint about what it was like in the future slipped out. Sean didn’t push for information; with the second chance of life he’d been given and, more importantly, a life with Jason, he figured he owed the universe enough already without pushing his luck too far.
Life was good. Sean’s music career still hadn’t taken off, but he earned enough from playing the occasional gig with a couple of local bands to supplement his income from the cafe, and he was still composing. Jason had decided to study history at Victoria University, although he still wasn’t sure what he was going to do with the degree, and Ruth had offered him part time work at the cafe.
“Sorry about before.” Jason slipped his arms around Sean from behind, and nuzzled at his neck. “I’m not a nice person when I’m sick.”
“I kind of figured that one out, yeah. I don’t take it personally.” Sean smiled as Jason’s embrace tightened. “Feeling any better? We should be through the strait in about another five minutes and that’s always the worst of it.”
“My stomach’s still queasy but I don’t think I’ve got anything left to bring up,” Jason said. “It’s much better out here in the fresh air too.”
“I’ve always found that.” Sean turned to face him. Jason still looked a little green, but he managed a smile which was a step in the right direction. “I’m sorry for suggesting this trip. I thought it would be something you’d enjoy.”
“You had no way of knowing I’d be sick.” Jason pulled a face. “If I have to get on one of these ferries again it will be too soon.”
“You’ll have to brave it again this evening,” Sean pointed out, wishing he hadn’t when Jason’s face fell.
“Oh crap.” Jason’s pallor paled further. “I don’t suppose we could swap the ferry for the hovercraft crossing, could we?”
“We don’t have hovercraft crossings yet.”
Jason groaned. “Of course we don’t.” He lunged suddenly for the railing and threw up over the side.
It was a good thing they were on the lower deck so all he’d done was feed the fish.
“Do you want me to get you something to settle your stomach?” Sean rubbed comforting circles over Jason’s back. “It will be over soon, I promise.”
“Kia Ora.” Both men turned at the sound of a woman’s voice. An older Māori woman smiled kindly at them. “You don’t look well, tama. Try some of this. It will help.” She held out a paper bag. “A couple of my tamariki aren’t good sailors. This works a treat for them.”
“Thanks.” Jason took a piece of what appeared to be some kind of dried fruit from the bag, popped in into his mouth and chewed. “It tastes good. What is it?”
“Crystallised ginger,” the woman said. “Take a few more, in case you need them.” She gave him an approving look when he took her up on her suggestion. “Make sure to drink plenty of water too.” She gave them a nod. “I hope you feel better soon. E noho rā.”
“Goodbye and thanks.” Sean replied in English not wanting to insult her with bad pronunciation after she’d been so kind.
“Can we sit down?” Jason grabbed at the railing. He shivered. “It’s cold out here, but I’d prefer that and a bit of rain than going back inside again.”
“Sure.” Sean helped Jason to one of the seats. It was only spitting and they both wore jackets. “I’m not leaving you.” The little sun there was highlighted the hint of red hiding amongst Jason’s blond locks. Jason rested his head on Sean’s shoulder and made a contented noise when Sean stroked his hair. “Feeling better?” Sean asked.
“Yeah.” Jason snuggled in closer. “You must really love me to put up with this crap,” he murmured.
“Yeah,” Sean whispered, kissing the top of Jason’s head. “I really do.”
“I can see why you wanted to come here,” Jason admitted. He took another swig from his water bottle. “It’s peaceful and beautiful.”
Sean stretched his legs out and leaned back on the bench seat they were sharing. They’d found one near the waterfront with a good view of Picton Harbour, and the small boats moored in the marina. Surrounding the town in the near distance were green hills, behind Sean and Jason a play area and the couple of streets that made up the shopping area. “Worth the seasickness?” he asked. He took off his glasses and polished them on the hem of his shirt.
“Don’t push it,” Jason said. He laughed in case Sean got the idea he was serious. “You’ll have to put up with me being a total coward getting back on the damn thing though.”
“The weather’s eased off so it’s supposed to be a much smoother sailing going back,” Sean said. “We can sit outside and kiss under the moonlight.”
“You’re just trying to distract me and lead me into temptation.”
“Is it working?”
“Yeah.” Jason leaned in and kissed Sean. “Although I might need some practise to get in the mood. Dutch courage and all that.”
Sean laughed. “I thought that was supposed to refer to alcohol. Or is that another one of those pop culture things you still haven’t got quite right?”
“I’m much better than I was with that stuff,” Jason pointed out. He attempted a pathetic hangdog expression but Sean just rolled his eyes. He rubbed his leg against Sean’s, enjoying the warmth of Sean’s body through his jeans. However much time Jason spent in the sun his skin never tanned the way Sean’s did. But then, that probably had something to do with the fact Sean wouldn’t let him venture out without slathering himself in sun block first, despite Jason’s insistence that he was used to the lack of ozone layer and that it was way worse in his own time.
It had been easier to adapt to the twenty-first century than he thought it would be. While a lot of things had changed, there was much that hadn’t, and people were still people whenever they lived. It was something he’d learnt very quickly after joining the Tempus Institute. Having Sean to guide him had helped, and the fact he was very patient with Jason’s many questions. That was one of the things he loved about Sean, his patience and willingness to help out wherever he could. Jason had never regretted his decision to stay with him and make a life in Wellington. There were days he missed his family and friends, especially his father and Alisha, but he’d expected that. He was where and when he belonged and with the man he loved, and that was what mattered.
“Penny for them?” Sean said softly. “You’ve got that far away look again like you’re literally years away. I can listen if you want to talk.”
Jason linked their hands together and stroked Sean’s thumb. “I was thinking about how much my life has changed.” He shrugged. “I was never much for doing stuff the proper way, and I used to get into a lot of trouble for it at the Institute. I only read case files when I had to and as much as I had to. I figured that last assignment was probably my final chance before I got booted down to the stacks room to spend the rest of my days doing research.” He shivered at the thought. “James threatened me with it once before and he’s not one for idle threats.”
“James was your boss, yeah?”
“Yeah.” It was crazy but some days Jason kind of missed him too. “If someone had told me I’d end up as a full time student and handing assignments in on time―mostly―I wouldn’t have believed it.”
“You’re getting good grades. I’m proud of you. You’re working hard.”
“Yeah, after you kicked me up the arse for failing that first paper I took.” Jason winced at the memory. He’d seriously had to readjust some of his attitude after that one, but Sean knew what motivated him and wasn’t above using it to get results.
“I made it up to you later, though.” Sean grinned and slowly licked his lips.
“Keep doing that and I won’t have to worry about that ferry trip. We’ll both be arrested for indecent exposure and having sex in a public place.”
“So not the way I was planning to spend our anniversary.” Sean looked down for a moment. “I wanted this day to be perfect, you know? The last two years have been weird, but in a good way. It’s not every day that a guy finds out he was supposed to die.”
“You weren’t supposed to die.” Jason squeezed Sean’s hand. “I told you what Alisha said. That we’d put things right, the way it was supposed to be.” He cleared his throat and whistled a familiar tune. Slow Dreaming. The song that had haunted Jason for years, and Sean had finished writing after they’d first met. Time travel could be weird at times. It had no concept at all of doing things in the right order.
“Being with you feels like it’s supposed to be.” Sean stood bringing Jason with him. “We have a couple of hours until the evening sailing. I’d like to look around the shops and find somewhere nice for dinner.”
“Are you sure dinner’s a good idea?” Jason glanced warily toward the wharf where the Kaitaki would be docking in a few hours before it took them home.
“Yeah. Something light on your stomach will help.” Sean pulled Jason toward across the grass toward the shops. “Come on.”
“I’m coming.” Jason gave into the temptation and gave Sean a light whack on his backside. Damn he looked good in those tight jeans. Jason couldn’t wait to get him out of them once they did finally get home.
The view from Pencarrow Head, sailing into Wellington, at night was amazing. Sean heard Jason’s breath hitch when he saw the city lights in the distance. The mixture of colours had always reminded Sean of a Christmas tree. “This is why I wanted to take the later sailing home,” he told Jason. “I wanted you to see this.”
“Wow,” Jason said. He turned from the railing toward Sean, his face lit up with excitement. “They’re beautiful. Thank you.”
They were alone on the top deck as it was a chilly night, but thankfully the weather was otherwise behaving itself. The return sailing had been much smoother and Jason had been able to enjoy the trip. The sunlight had lasted long enough for him to take some photos of the Marlborough Sounds and enjoy the unspoilt scenery.
Jason kissed Sean deeply, cupping his buttocks to pull him into a close embrace. “They might be beautiful,” he murmured in Sean’s ear, “but they’re not a patch on you. You’re hot.”
“Ummm,” Sean mumbled. Although Jason told him that regularly, he still couldn’t see it, but had found out it didn’t pay to argue too much. Besides, he kind of liked hearing it even it did make him blush.
His hand went to the jade pendant around his neck. Jason had bought it for him in Picton as an anniversary present. Sean had wanted their anniversary to be special. The ferry excursion had only been the first part of it, but now he’d got to the really important bit, it was much more difficult to say the words than he’d first thought.
“Penny for them,” Jason said. “I can see the steam from here.” He frowned. “There’s nothing wrong, is there? I’ve enjoyed today, it was a good idea. I didn’t mean to ruin it earlier by being sick.”
“I know you didn’t.” Sean pulled away from Jason. He’d always told himself that when he did this, he’d do it properly. He knew it was probably old fashioned but he suspected Jason would appreciate the gesture.
Sean swallowed. He took Jason’s hand in his own, and knelt on one knee on the deck. “I love you. Will you marry me?” he asked, his voice hoarse with emotion.
“Marry you?” Jason didn’t let go of Sean’s hand but instead knelt next to him. “You really want that?”
“I wouldn’t be asking otherwise.” Sean met Jason’s gaze, trying to get some kind of clue of what was going on in his lover’s mind. “We can get married legally now, so yeah, I want to.”
Jason’s mouth opened and closed. He was shaking.
Then he kissed Sean hard, and embraced him, clinging to him. “Oh, Sean,” he whispered.
“Is that a yes?” Sean felt a cold chill go through him. What if Jason said no? Did they still get married where he came from? He’d never said much about it. “I just thought… when the marriage equality bill passed the first thing I thought of was asking you. I just wanted… Oh God. I wanted this to be the right time. I wanted it to be perfect.”
“Sean, it’s okay. Slow down.” Jason said softly. “This is perfect. I love you.” He caressed Sean’s cheek and smiled. “I’d thought the same thing but I wasn’t sure I should ask.”
“So that kiss?”
“Yeah, that kiss,” Jason said. “That was me saying yes.”
Kia Ora, hello (informal greeting)
Tama, young man
E noho rā, goodbye.
There’s more information about the Wellington to Picton voyage and the ferries here