Brad sat quietly on the beach listening to the people he loved most laughing and having fun together. The sun was setting in a brilliant riot of colors the waves lapped gently at his toes. Brad closed his eyes listening to the soft slap of the waves and the laughter in the distance. He chuckled at the thought of this being his life; if anyone had told him back in '03 that he would be married to Nate, in a faithful poly relationship with Ray and Walt, recovering from serious combat related injuries and out of the Corps, but happier than he could ever remember being he would have laughed at them and told them to fuck off.
The wedding was perfect. The four men standing with each other on the beach, their families watching on as Ray and Walt said their vows. Ray and Walt’s mothers kept taking pictures, as they all stood barefoot in the sand the four of them wearing kakis and white button down shirts. The casual touches and quiet interactions that seemed as natural as breathing being exchanged between the four men showing the depth of their connection and commitment to each other. They silently wiped away tears as they watched their sons promise to love honor and cherish one another. Everyone in attendance knew that while this was cementing a union between Ray and Walt it was also reaffirming the commitment between the four men in front of them. Brad and Nate smiled brightly as Ray and Walt kissed…
Brad sighed softly as he dug his toes into the wet sand happy to be back in California, touching the Pacific, the chill of the water making him smile a little wistfully wishing he could be out there surfing. Next time he promised himself. Brad kept his eyes trained on the ocean as he listened to the soft foot steps approach, "Nate."
Nate chuckled as he gently kissed the top of Brad's head, before he sat down, "still the same Brad. Are you ok?"
Brad kissed Nate's forehead where it rested against his shoulder, "I'm fine, just marveling at where life has brought us."
Nate grinned as he looked out on the water, “it’s been a hell of a ride,” Nate kissed Brad’s lips, “ but I can’t think of anyone else I would rather have been with through it all.”
Ray and Walt sat next to the two men. “We’ve made it this far.” Walt began as Ray picked up, “I can’t wait to see where we go from here.”
Brad smiled at them, “anywhere we want. If we made it through all this there is nothing we can’t do as long as we’re together.”
The four men found peace sitting at the edge of the ocean, the sun setting, their extended families laughing and enjoying each other’s company in the background. A journey that began almost two decades ago with a trek through a desert, a bond forged in the fires of war only to come full circle in peace in the sand by the ocean.
Their new journey rising from the ashes of the old, none of them caring where the path would take them; trusting that they would build their future together on a foundation of love and hope, always faithful and never failing.