It was sunny when it happened, and Max didn't suspect a thing. He stalked downstairs, heading straight to the coffee machine. If Gwen and David said good morning and actually got a response, however mumbled it was, there was no one to vouch for that. And once he got coffee in his system, if he smiled at his new parents, no one saw that.
“I’m gonna go grab the mail,” Max mumbled, before shuffling out the door.
They, Max Gwen and David, lived in a basic two story house, three bedrooms upstairs, two bathrooms-one up and the other down- one living room downstairs, and one kitchen. Thanks to it having no place for a washing-machine or dryer, they went to the laundromat on the next street over on weekends, but they had fun doing it together. They were on a basic neighborhood cul de sac, with the little kids and middle-aged parents on the opposite side of the street, and hundreds of other families around them. Their house was a dark brown, almost maroon, and it reminded Max of the councilors cabin at Camp Campbell, but despite his previous words against it, the color made him feel more at home somehow. Not that he’d ever tell David that.
Max walked out to the area where the mailboxes for the whole circle were (was there an official name for that place?), and when he got there, realized he forgot their key. When he had gone back to the house, cursed about it to David, who promptly told him to mind his language good naturedly, and got back, he was much less willing to be positive about the mail. It was bound to be taxes or some other adult shit.
Turns out he was right. Taxes, taxes, vote for me, taxes, do you want to help people?(he better throw that one out before David sees it, or give it to Gwen, they could laugh about it together), and a fancy letter to his family in Nikki’s handwriting.
A fancy letter to his family in Nikki’s handwriting? Max did a double take, holding the letter closer like it would read something different if he looked at it from another angle, but nope, it was to his family. Max took an executive decision, which happened to be running home very fast, slamming open the door, and yelling for Gwen and David as loud as he could.
“So, Neil and Nikki’s parents are really gettin’ hitched, huh?” Max asked, putting his head on his arms.
“It seems that way! But so soon? Oh I bet they’re just excited, I know I was too with Gwen, though she did reel me in.” David smiled over at Gwen, who laughed before responding.
“David, you told me we should get married two days after I agreed to date you. And besides, we aren’t even engaged now .” Gwen got up to put away the dishes from breakfast, giving both Max and David kisses on top of their heads.
They had opened the letter together, and decided they wanted to go, of course, even if it was only a month or so away. What Max wondered, was how he would explain showing up with David and Gwen instead of his parents. He had been waiting to tell Nikki and Neil till school, since they would get to go to school together now, but with the wedding so soon, it seemed they’d find out a little bit sooner.
“Hey, guys? How am I going to explain to Nikki and Neil that I’m going to be there with you instead of my old parents?” Max seemed to shy away form his own question. He didn't want it to seem like he was ashamed of David and Gwen, but it was weird having to explain to your friends why you were living with you camp counselors from a camp you claimed to hate, especially when they shared those councilors, and when they had helped you make those specific counselors lives hell.
“Don't worry Max, since it’s still a little bit aways, you have time to decide whether you want to tell them, and if you do, then we’ll be by your side!” David provided, his cheery personality still somehow apparent on the weekend morning.
“And if you decide you’re not ready, which is perfectly understandable, we’ll just tell them that we found you sneaking your way over and David wouldn’t let you go by yourself.
Max sighed, getting out of his chair and making his way upstairs. “Thanks Mooaaooaae home skillets..?” Max stumbled over his words, but David and Gwen seemed to understand, so he ran the rest of the way, his face burning as he closed his door.
Sure Max had been living with Gwen and David for more than a few weeks now, but it still felt too soon to call them Mom and Dad, even if he felt like it. What if it was too much for them? What if they didn't like it? What if they didn't like him and calling them his parents would be too much because it would solidify them keeping him and they didn't really want that and it would guilt trip them into keeping him?
Max, realizing how crazy his thoughts were, decided that checking his phone would calm him down enough, and brought it out. Perfect, he had a new text from Nikki.
And send! Nikki thought before calling back to her mum that she would be right over. She had decided to send a message to Max, in case he forgot today was the wedding. He’d been really cagey about when and how he’d get there, but he’d RSVP’d as soon as he got the letter, according to what he told her and Neil, so she didn't worry about it too much.
Nikki raced downstairs out of her now shared bedroom with Neil, her soon to be brother following soon after, telling her to stop running or she’d hit something. She only laughed, like it even mattered, all there was in this house anymore was smartypants stuff anyways! Thinking it didn't matter, she yelled exactly that over her shoulder to, making him bluster and squirm about how she just didn't appreciate it.
When they made their way into the kitchen, their mother and father were standing next to each other, and looking like the picture of modern stereotypical home life. It was cute, in it’s own way. And it was only going to get cuter; today was the day of the wedding after all! Was she thinking that a lot? she wondered, it didn't matter, she was allowed to be excited after all.
“I’m gonna go play outside, ya wanna come, Neil?” Nikki grabbed his arm, expecting him to say yes, but before he could answer, their Dad had something to say.
“Actually, kids, you can't play outside right now, the wedding itself is being setup. Kinda the bad thing about choosing to have it in our own yard.” Nikki’s dad looked like the human version of the sweatdrop emoji to her, but she decided now wasn’t the time to make jokes, she couldn't go outside!
Nikki huffed, before deciding that fine, she’d just video chat Max until he got here, even if ate up his battery, he could just complain when he got here, she’d let him use hers anyways.
Bounding up the stairs after putting away her dishes from breakfast, that’s why her mom had called her down earlier, Nikki pulled out her phone and punched in Max’s number, starting the call as soon as she could.
When they were about halfway to Nikki and Neil’s house, Max’s phone started ringing with the tone that symbolized that it was video instead of simple audio, and David decided to call back to him to ask who it was that was calling. Of course, at that point, Max had already pressed answer, so when the call patched through, Nikki caught the end of David’s voice.
“Hey Nikki! What’s up!?” Max tried to yell over David, but unfortunately for him, Nikki had already heard him.
“Was that David? Why are you with David? Are you already here? Where are you? Oh, I know! I’ll sniff you out! Stay right where you are!”
“No Nikki! My dad just uh… sounds alot like David! And ya know… people sound weird on the phone. And no, we’re not there yet, but we’re only like two minutes away, so don't worry, see you soon!” Max tried to get it all out as fast as he could, the sooner he did, the sooner Nikki would stop suspecting him. If it had been Neil, he would’ve known right away, lucky him.
“Wait ma-!” Nikki was cut off by Max hanging up mid sentence.
Max looked up to Gwen looking back at him suspiciously, so he figured he needed to justify himself.
“I’m gunna tell them when we get there, I promise…” he would… probably.
Turns out, he wasn’t ready when they got there, but Nikki and Neil were. When Max got out of the car, and started his way up the driveway, he saw the pair of siblings to be waiting for him. By the looks of expectancy on their faces, Max could infer that Nikki had told Neil about his weird behavior on the phone. That, along with the fact that he was getting out of David and Gwen’s car, would definitely lead to them questioning him.
“Hey gu-” Max started, planning to try and dominate the conversation until he could change the subject effectively so his friends couldn't question him properly. Luckily for him, though, his friends had found something more interesting for the time being.
“David? What’re you doing in Gwen’s car?” Nikki shouted, running up to her old camp counselors like seeing them up close would make it all make sense.
“Well Nikki, you see…” David trailed off. The truth of the matter was, David had been so focused on trying to come up with a suitable alibi for Max being with them, he hadn't thought of one for why they were together in the first place.
“Yeah, are you guys… dating or something?” Neil, ever the brainiac, figured it out all on his own.
David sputtered and flushed, but Gwen came to his rescue.
“Yes kids, we are dating, we just didn't want to tell you all because we knew you’d make a big deal of it, like kids do, and we wanted to be able to focus on the camp activities. But, since camp is over, you’re free to know.”
With it all explained, Nikki and Neil nodded in understanding before turning to Max, they hadn't gotten their answer from him yet, after all.
“And why are you with them then, Max?” Neil scrutinized him suspiciously, and God was it annoying.
Saved by the Bride, the children were called in by Candy, who said it was time to get ready, since the wedding was starting soon. Another good thing about hosting your own wedding, you gto to make the rules, when it starts, where it goes, who does what, and other things like that.
The children, who had all been in casual clothes thanks to not knowing any better, were shoved into fancy dresses and suits for the big day. Nikki ended up in a peach pink dress with a mint sash that matched her hair, knee length of course, lest she get too rowdy and rip one that was longer. She was also permitted to keep her sneakers and socks, her mother knew she loved them and wouldn't be comfortable in anything else. For her hair, Nikki’s mom had brushed it out of its near permanent twin ponytails earlier, but thanks to the nature of Nikki, it was tangled and needed to be brushed again. Nikki didn't mind much, and even decided she would try not to tangle it too much this time.
Max was wearing a pair of black slacks, a white dress shirt, and a black vest that was a little too big for him. It was cute, and Gwen had picked it out for him when they had gone shopping a few days before, specifically for the wedding.
Neil was in a plain black suit with a light pink tie, and his hair was combed as much as it could be, given how it was. His shoes were shined, and he kept on looking at himself in them, commenting almost constantly on how it was ‘simple but sophisticated, an outfit truly worth his time.’ Max got annoyed by that rather quick, and Nikki laugh-snorted when he bonked him over the head because he was talking too much.
While the three little bastards joked and ragged on each other, which involved quite a bit of Nikki and Max trying to ruin-but not really ruin- Neil’s suit. Soon enough, though, it was time to begin, and Nikki and Neil needed to head up to the front of the aisle, as was their job as the best man and maid of honor. They, in perfect childlike manor, raced to the end, Nikki ultimately winning because of her faster pace.
When they both arrived at the end, Neil gave his dad a quick hug before shifting into place next to him. Nikki, not sure where to stand at first, looked to Neil, who showed her where to stand. Carl smiled down at them, he was just so happy, after all, he was marrying an amazing woman who he couldn't wait to spend the rest of his life with, and his kids, because Nikki was his now too, were happy as well.
When the wedding bells chimed, and Carl looked up to see Candy walking down the aisle in a floor length strapless white dress with pink accents, nobody could deny how amazing of a day it undoubtedly was.
After all was said and done, with Candy and Carl sitting and eating cake, happy as they could be, Nikki and Neil snuck Max away to finally get some answers. They pulled the small boy away to the front yard, cast in the warm light from the setting sun, and it felt perfect for what they wanted to ask.
“What did you guys need?” Max asked, reasonably scared of what his friends had in store for him.
Neil, ever the one to talk sophisticatedly and straight to the point, decided to speak first, no dancing around. “Max, we knew as soon as we spent five minutes at Camp Campbell that David cared about you more than what seemed normal, but what we don't get, is why you turned up here with him and Gwen like they were your parents?”
“Yeah Max, what’s up with that. Are you actually David’s son?” Nikki asked, tilting her head to the side slightly.
“That, is probably the absolute worst thing you could ask me, Nikki…” Max sighed and fell back on the ground, preparing himself for the long story. “So, it started on parent day-”
“Did your parents not show up because they were already there but you guys just didn't want us to make a big deal?” Nikki interrupted, practically pouncing on Max.
“No! And if you interrupt me I won’t be telling you guys jack shit!” Max threatened, pointing his finger accusingly at both his friends. “Alright, so yeah, my parents didn't show up, because they just didn't care. Campbell himself saw that they weren’t, and tossed me off to Gwen and David, spouting some BS about how we’d be the perfect nuclear family. David though, he kept on believing that they’d come, until he got my paperwork… and saw that my parents didn't even sign me up properly, just put down my name and age. David finally got it, and after that things started to get better I guess. Camp still sucked, but less or whatever.” Nikki cooed at that, but Max let it slide. “Then… soon it was the end of the summer. And It was time to go home. But, my parents didn't come ‘til really late at night. David got upset at them, especially when they started yelling at me, not like it was anything too bad, but David and Gwen ended up taking me home. Now… They’re like the family I never had, and actually got, I guess. But, if you’re wondering if Gwen and David are my mom and Dad… yeah. Yeah, they are.” Max smiled at his friends, who smiled right back, so happy their friend was able to be happy too, even if it was in an unexpected way.
“Max!” they heard David call from the front door, and when they turned, they saw him holding his arms open, and slight tears in his eyes, making it obvious he had been listening.
“Go on Max, go give your Dad a hug!” Nikki teased, shoving Max in David's direction.
Max, who blushed slightly, muttered a quiet ‘fuck it’ before running into David’s arms, who proceeded to twirl him around, laughing in chorus before they were tackled by Nikki and Neil, who were sick of being left out of the fun. Then of course, with all the noise they made, Gwen, Candy, and Carl made their way outside, which made all those in the pile in the yard stop for a moment, before David spread his arms wider, inviting them in. they of course joined.They weren’t normal by any means, but they were happy.
Later, Nikki and Neil would be tucked in by Carl and Candy, who would then smile softly as they closed the bedroom door, running down stairs to the living room to dance together once more, not able to get enough. They would eventually retire to their bedroom, but not before spending hours in each others arms, just so caught up in love.
And on the drive back to the hose, Max would fall asleep in the back car, David and Gwen looking back at him fondly, their hands joined in the dark, just as in love as the day David had proposed, though now, if he were to ask again, Gwen might have a different answer to give. School was starting soon, they knew that, and they knew that not only would it make them happy to no extent, it would make Max feel that much safer knowing he had stability in their home. As they tucked him in at home, not but a few minutes later, they couldn't help but be washed away in the amount of joy and love they were surrounded by in their home. And if he was awake enough to mumble ‘goodnight’ and ‘I love you’ to Gwen and David, they didn't mention it, even if he called them Mom and Dad.