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The Taming of the Father - A modern fairy tale

Chapter Text

Prologue

 

Once upon a time two guys that lived together were ready for a vacation that could possibly change their lives. But until then they were packing their bags …

 

“You really want to go?” Type asked suspiciously.

“Of course,” Tharn replied while folding his shorts. “It was my idea after all, and I always come when you visit your family.”

“Yeah, I know, but…” Type didn’t finish his sentence, but watched his boyfriend closely until the other man looked up from the open suitcase.

“What is it?” Tharn was confused. “You don’t think it’s a good idea? Taking a week off from work the first chance we get?”

“No, it’s okay. We needed time off. We entered work straight after graduation”, Type answered.

“So, you don’t want me to come?” Tharn’s voice was tainted with insecurity.

“No… no…” The answer came hurried. “It’s just… I know my dad is hard on you sometimes.” Type was searching for the right words.

“Sometimes?!” Tharn sounded something between amused and disbelieving. “He plans my sudden death each time we visit.” Type grimaced when he heard that, but Tharn didn’t see it because he started packing his suitcase again.

“I don’t want you to feel bad because auf him.” Type’s voice sounded much softer than normal, that brought Tharn to look up from folding a shirt. “It is what it is.” He gave a shrug. Type packed his bag absent-mindedly while stealing glances at Tharn who finished packing his own suitcase and started cleaning their table from the remains of their breakfast earlier. He seemed distracted that morning, not only nervous about visiting his boyfriend’s family but off in a strange way. Type was afraid that his father’s disapproval was starting to way Tharn down. They had been together since their freshman year; their graduation also went by and they were working for quite some time now. Even though they had made it this far his father was still not ready to accept his son’s relationship. He even refused going to a graduation dinner with Tharn’s family although he had been at the ceremony earlier that day. Type’s mother had been glad about the nice invitation and had made an excuse for her stubborn husband, but Type knew the truth. And so, did Tharn. He had been terribly hurt. He hadn’t said it out loud, but Type knew him good enough. He still remembered how silent Tharn had been coming home that night. They had gone to bed straight away and his boyfriend had curled himself up on his side. Type had held him closely that night and had told him that he loved him, but Tharn had seemed far away and had only hummed as a response. 

“Don’t forget the tickets” Tharn reminded him now, sounding quite normal.

Type nodded and murmured a yes, still deep in thought. “This has to end”, he promised himself determined while closing the zipper of his sport bag.

 

 

Chapter Text

Talking it out with dad – part 1

 

Three days into their visit at Type’s parents Tharn was up and ready to go much earlier than normal. His boyfriend was still lying in bed and looking at him suspiciously. “Do we have an appointment I don’t know about? Should I hurry?”

Tharn smiled a little stressed when he answered. “No, I thought you want to relax a little today. It got late yesterday.” They had met with some old friends of Type’s yesterday and had visited a few bars.

“Okay, so come back to bed then. We can relax together.” Type tried to sound seductive and looked intensely at the other man.

Tharn smiled but refused. “I need to do a little shopping for my family. Thanya would never forgive me if I didn’t bring her some souvenirs and my mother’s birthday is in three weeks maybe I can get something for her too.” He took his backpack and was ready to go.

“Wait for me!” Type sat up in bed. “I can come with you.”

His boyfriend declined again while leaning down and kissing his forehead. “You don’t like gift shopping that much and I want you to relax a bit. Your new job has been stressful, you haven’t seen your parents for quite some time you should spend time with them. I’ll be back in the late afternoon. We can have a quiet dinner tonight.”

He gave Type another quick kiss on the forehead and wanted to leave but Type stopped him by grabbing his wrist. “You will be gone the whole day? Why can’t I come with you?”

Tharn raised his arm, loosened Type’s hand from his wrist and held it. “We have been together three days straight. You won’t even miss me.” He put a light kiss on top of Type’s knuckles. “See you, bye!”

Type watched his boyfriend smiling briefly at him before running out of the room like the devil – or better Type’s dad – was behind him. Type frowned. Something was off again. He didn’t like it. He didn’t like it at all.

 

 

When he went downstairs later his mother was clearly not happy to see him, but she tried acting normal. “Moring, son! Breakfast is ready! Just sit down.”

“Thanks, mom!”, Type murmured.

“Why isn’t Tharn eating with us today?”, she asked suspiciously. “I saw him leaving the house earlier.”

“He needs to buy some stuff”, Type answered distractedly. “We are eating dinner tonight, tough.”

“I don’t like it.” His mom was blunt like that.

“What?” Type didn’t understand. She always liked Tharn. “You don’t want us to have dinner together?” She smacked her son’s shoulder hard. “Ow!”, he yelped.

“I don’t like him gone without you. You should be with him on your vacation. Both of you are working now. That means less time for each other. You shouldn’t be apart that much; spending time together is important for a relationship.” She sounded really concerned, what made Type uneasy.

“He wanted to go alone.” Type looked at his mom angrily. “I wanted to join him, but he said I should relax and spend time with you and dad.”

Her mouth relaxed into a smile and she touched her heart with her hands. “So considerate.” She smacked her son’s shoulder again. “Why can’t you be more like him!”

“Ow! You’re hurting me!” He rubbed his shoulder, while frowning. “I am considerate.” At least sometimes, he thought. Or wasn’t he? He always checked the menu before inviting Tharn to a new restaurant. He came to most of his gigs with his band on the weekends even if he was tired. He accompanied him to his parents for dinner twice a month even if he still felt lost at their tight knit family unit. That was considerate.

“Morning, son!” Type’s father entered the dining area and looked around. “Pale face left already?! That’s great! So, we have you to ourselves for a few days until you have to leave again.”

His mother left to prepare some food after she smacked her husband on the head. Type’s frown got even deeper. “He didn’t leave for good… just doing some shopping. And stop calling him “pale face” his name is Tharn and you know it.”  

His dad sat down opposite of him. “I am your father; I call him whatever I like.”

“No, you don’t.” Type’s hotheaded nature came through. He had watched his father harassing Tharn for years now and he wasn’t going to take it any longer.

“Don’t talk back at me!” His father sat up straight and his look was hard. “I’m your father and you have to respect me.”

Type’s hands turned into fists under the table. “Tharn is my partner and you have to treat him with respect too.”

“Don’t call him that”, his father interrupted. He was clearly upset and fuming. “This is just a phase.”

“Pah!” Type’s laugh was without joy. Now he was really angry. “We have been together for years now, we live together and there isn’t going to change anything about that.” He was absolutely sure.

 “You aren’t a stupid frat boy anymore”, his father said annoyed. “You have a good job now! You can’t be with him any longer and threaten everything we worked your whole life for!”

Type’s voice sounded strong when he replied: “All my co-workers know Tharn, he was at the company gathering last month, he even met my boss. Nothing bad happened.” Type had been pretty stressed before that company gathering. He knew that there were prejudices in some work environments especially in sports, but he had talked to his boss about bringing Tharn to their event and he had reacted great. When they went to the company gathering, they were both nervous, but everything went smooth. All his colleagues liked Tharn. Type’s favorite female co-worker was going on about him all week afterwards. Type even got jealous a little bit, but Tharn made it up to him. All night long. Of course, everyone always loved that asshole, cause of his nice personality, his wit and his beautiful smile. Everyone except his prejudiced and stubborn father, who treated him like crap for more than half a decade already.

“You… You… You did what?!” His father’s scream was loud enough to wake the dead.

“I brought my boyfriend”, he emphasized the last word, “to the annual company gathering and introduced him to each an everyone. Just like that. No one had a problem and even if I wouldn’t have cared.”

His father’s head was red, and he looked like he was about to faint again. “You told your co-workers that you are his wife?!”

Type shook his head. His father still didn’t get it. “Dad, listen. There is no wife!”

“But you are …”, his dad interrupted, but he couldn’t end the sentence.

“I am a man and so is Tharn”, Type explained. “I came to terms with that and you should too, cause he isn’t going anywhere, like ever.”

“But you can’t be g… g…” His father wasn’t able to say it out loud and Type didn’t let him either.

He looked his father in the eyes. Even though his heart beat loudly in his ears he sounded calm. “This isn’t about words. This isn’t about me being … gay or not.”

“He isn’t worthy of you” The old man tried to change the subject.

Type got even angrier, when he replied: “Tharn has proven himself to you over and over again. You told us, that you would accept him if he survived the first three days of your torture, then the next three months, yeah even three years weren’t enough for you! Tharn never complains about how you treat him, and he did it all. But your view of him never changed! You don’t even get it! You don’t see how upset he is after every rejection. I hate seeing him like that and telling him that you will come around one day. But I’m sick of waiting for that day. And I’m afraid that he gets sick of it too.” Type’s biggest fear was right there, and his father didn’t register it at all.

His father couldn’t listen to that any longer. “That’s all his fault!” His voice sounded angry and pained.

Type banged both of his fists on the table. “Stop blaming Tharn! He didn’t do anything wrong!” He was beside himself with rage.

 “I don’t mean him”, his father responded quietly, tears swelling in his eyes. “I mean …” He simply wasn’t able to finish the thought.

Type tensed up. Now he knew who his father was talking about. His hands got weak and shook a little. “Don’t even think that” His voice was dangerously low.

“How couldn’t I think about him being the reason you screw up your life.” His father sounded deeply troubled and hurt.

Type hated it, hated this whole conversation, but he hated Tharn’s suffering more, so he had to clear this up, once and for all. “I warn you”, he said gravely. “Never say that ever again. Especially not to Tharn! What happened to me … as a child … has nothing to do with me and Tharn. He is the best thing that ever happened to me and I can’t have him question that.”

“But…”, his father wanted to intervene.  

“No, …” Type sounded calm and collected now. “Like I said earlier, this isn’t about all the things you think about, it is about me loving Tharn – now and forever. No matter what you say or do.” His father looked at him stunned.

The two stubborn man stared in each other’s eyes. Unmoving. Waiting. One hopeful. One baffled.

“You… you really love him”, the older man was clearly surprised.

Type’s heart ached. Even his own father hadn’t recognized how deep his feelings for Tharn were. He felt bad about that. When he answered his father’s question his voice was soft, he was thinking about Tharn’s smile while telling the only other man he had ever loved: “Yeah, I love him.”

A sudden noise from the door cut through the silence that followed Type’s revelation. Both men turned to the entrance where Khom stood awkwardly. “I’m sorry”, Type’s childhood friend said. “Was I interrupting something?”

“No, everything alright”, Type answered in a hurry. “Good you are here! Let’s go out! I’m hungry.” He jumped up from his seat at the table and pushed Khom out of the house before his father could even react. He heard his mother ranting about the breakfast she had prepared, but he didn’t answer her, he just wanted to leave and Khom’s sudden appearance was the best solution. He could apologize to his mother later.

Chapter Text

Talking it out with dad – part 2

 

When Tharn came back to the house in the afternoon it was silent. He looked around even though he knew Type was with Khom. He wanted to bring the bags to his and Type’s room and take a shower before dressing for his dinner date. But before he could do that he needed to talk to Type’s father. He searched for Type’s mother at first but suddenly he saw the old man sitting alone on the ground of the terrace, looking at the sea. Tharn left the bags in the living room and went out.

Type’s father didn’t recognize his presence even though he cleared his throat when he came to the terrace.

“Um… Father?!” Tharn tried another time to make himself known.

Type’s dad didn’t look away from the sea but murmured his reply.

“Is everything okay?”, Tharn asked and sat beside the older man. “Has something happened?” He was a little bit concerned, because Type’s dad was so silent, and he hadn’t even ranted at Tharn for calling him “father”. When he didn’t get an answer, her tried again: “I really have to talk to you.” Type’s father looked at Tharn for a minute straight then he turned and watched the sea again. Tharn’s gut wrenched. He had never been this stressed out before. Not even when that old man had threatened him with a machete or when he had to eat tons of spicy food that haunted him for days. But he was done waiting. Tharn gathered all his strength and courage. “There is a reason I wanted to come here …”

“You wanted to come?” The old man’s question sounded surprised and for the first time he looked at Tharn clearly. “Why would you want to come here? I’m not very nice to you when you visit.”

On the one hand Tharn wanted to point out that “not very nice” was a euphemistic description of the horrors that man had brought on him in the last few years, but on the other hand that wouldn’t help his case, so he simply let it go. He tried to calm his nerves again. “I wanted to come here to talk to you. Alone.”

“Not a very good idea. Coming to me without witnesses.” Type’s dad said it very neutrally even though it was kind of a threat.

Tharn gulped. “I came here to ask you for your son’s hand in marriage” He had finally said it. His heart beat faster than ever. He calmly waited for an answer, preparing for the worst.

“Why?” The old man simply asked but looked at him closely.

Tharn was confused. This whole conversation didn’t go as imagined. He expected Type’s dad to flip out, to try to drown him in the ocean, but now that man sat in front of him, looking unmoved but clearly invested in his answer. “I love your son.” It felt good telling him the simple truth.

The old man shook his head. “That’s not what I meant.”

Now he was even more confused.  “What did you mean?”

“I want to know why you are asking for my permission, Tharn.”

Tharn was shocked. For the first time since they had been introduced years ago the man had called him by his name. “You are his father after all”, he answered as collected as possible, he even smiled a little, “and even though you hate me with all you got, I love your son who loves and respects you and I know it is the honorable thing to do when you want to marry someone.”

“Even though you want to marry a man. What isn’t legal by the way”, Type’s dad replied.

Tharn’s heart sank. He knew that it wasn’t a possibility in their home country, but there were other options and it didn’t change the symbol, the commitment. “That Type is also a man doesn’t change our feelings for each other and so it shouldn’t change tradition.”

Type’s dad thought about that for a while.  “I don’t hate you.”, he stated after some time.

Again, a reply Tharn hadn’t foreseen. If one thing had been terribly clear to him all these years it was the hate that man had for him. Before he could answer anything, Type’s father said: “I hate men like you.” He didn’t say gay, but both of them knew what he meant.

Tharn took a deep breath and nodded. Not the first time he heard that. He knew exactly who the man was talking about. He had always known Type was like his father in many ways and in this very moment he saw it for sure. He saw the bad memories, the struggle, the hate and all this helplessness.  

“Are you like that?” The words were spoken very low into the ocean breeze.

Tharn reacted immediately, without thinking about it. It took a lot of strength to not take these words personally, but to see them for what they were: Fears of a father who hadn’t been able to protect his son once and who hated himself for it ever since. He took that old man’s tense hands into his own and looked at him honestly. “I would never do anything to harm Type and I would never let anyone hurt him. He is the best thing that ever happened to me and I will always take care of him.”

Type’s father relaxed a little, but he looked extremely sad, what made Tharn uneasy. “I hurt him today.”

Tharn felt his heart ache. He wanted to know what happened, but he knew it wasn’t the time to ask. “He will forgive you”, he said instead.

“How do you know?” Type’s dad didn’t seem convinced.

 “He is a lot like you.” Tharn sounded like it was obvious.

“What does that mean?”

“He has a hard shell, is very set in his ways and stubborn, but he has a kind heart.” Tharn’s smile was warm.

Type’s dad looked at the boy’s hands that still held his. “You really want to marry a man like that?”

Tharn tensed up instinctively but smiled when he said: “I really want to marry Type.”

The old man saw that it was the truth, relaxed a little more and decided that it was time for Tharn’s final test. “What happens when I don’t give you my blessing?”

Tharn withdrew his hands abruptly. That man wasn’t making it easy at all. Nevertheless, he answered without a doubt. “I’ll ask him anyway.”

“I knew it!” Type’s dad sounded like he had won. “So why asking me in the first place?” Back to square one, but he really wanted to know.

“Like I said, Type really looks up to you and I know that your opinion means the world to him. I’m not entirely sure he’ll say yes when I ask him, but your blessing would support my case.” Tharn smiled shyly at the last part.

Type’s dad laughed sincerely. “You aren’t even sure he is going to say yes, but you want to ask him anyway, even if it means getting my blessing first?” He nearly cried out of laughter.

Tharn wriggled beside the man. “I don’t know. It’s hard to tell with him sometime. Were you sure when you asked your wife to marry her?” He knew that he wanted to marry Type. To be with him for the rest of their lives and he was pretty sure his partner of several years wanted that too, but Type had his own set of rules and Tharn was afraid that asking him first wasn’t the right decision. 

The old man stopped laughing during the time Tharn needed to think but still looked amused. “If you put it like that, I’ll give you my blessing!”

Tharn knew that the man in front of him believed that Type would decline his proposal, but he was surprised and delighted, nevertheless. He thanked his father-in-law-to-be a hundred times until Type’s dad shooed him away. Then he felt light and nervous again, but he was ready to prepare himself for the big question tonight.

Chapter Text

The best thing that ever happened to me

 

It was a beautiful night. Tharn and Type had had a nice seafood dinner under the night sky and had decided to walk up to Type’s favorite place like they always did when they visited his parents. Their dinner had been lovely but a little awkward too. Type still seemed a little absent-mindedly and Tharn was in thoughts too. Both of them weren’t ready to talk about something and that made the conversation over dinner relatively boring. When they reached the point where they had to go up to Type’s special place, Tharn stopped abruptly.

Type startled. “Everything alright? Are you sick?” He sounded oddly concerned.

Tharn shook his head, his voice was a little bit weak when he spoke. “There is something I wanted to ask of you.”

“So, what.”

“I want you to let me go up first while you wait five minutes or so before you come after me.”

“Are we playing hide and seek or what?!” Type was clearly suspicious.

“Nooo…” Tharn wasn’t able to hold eye contact with Type. “It’s just something I want you to do, without asking any more questions.”

Type wasn’t the type of person who accepted things easily. He liked having control but he trusted Tharn so he nodded. “Go ahead, I can wait.”

Tharn beamed at his boyfriend lovingly, kissed him briefly and ran ahead before Type could change his mind.

“Watch out! It’s dark up there and I would prefer you not falling off the cliff!”, Type shouted after him but Tharn didn’t listen to him anymore. Type hated waiting. Especially when he felt insecure. The day had been exhausting because of the argument with his father and the mood at dinner had been strange too. He just wanted to take Tharn home and hold him until they both fell asleep. It sounded cheesy even in his head, but it calmed him knowing that they could be content with each other like that. He loved the feeling of them sleeping together. In every sense of the word. He got a little hot. Maybe they wouldn’t go to sleep as soon as they were in bed. There were other enjoyable activities too. Type had lost his sense of time. “Pah!”, he said and started walking up the trail to where Tharn was hopefully waiting for him.

When Type finally came to his beloved spot his heart stopped for a moment. The view was amazing. Tharn had prepared a picknick under the stars for them. A warm blanket was spread on the ground, cushions lay there too, and some snacks were prepared on a small table. But the best were the torches that lit up the area. Even Type realized that it was the most romantic scenery anyone could imagine. Tharn stood next to this improvised love-nest and looked shy. Type went to him. “You did all that?”

Tharn nodded. He wasn’t sure if his voice would work just now. His heart was beating loudly and looking at his long-term boyfriend under the stars next to candlelight made him a little dizzy. He had planned this evening for a long time. But he was extremely nervous.

Type grasped his boyfriend’s hips and yanked him in his arms to kiss him. It was a slow, romantic kiss that ended much too soon.

Tharn needed to end this kiss, because he knew that he would forget everything if he let passion take over. Type seemed a little startled, but Tharn began to speak: “There is a reason why I wanted this vacation. I wanted to meet with your parents to ask your father for validation.”  Type’s eyes grew big and he felt fear creeping up his spine, but Tharn signed him that it was fine, so he relaxed a little. “When we first met, I immediately liked you. Even when you started hating me, I…”

“I only wanted to hate you” Type interjected and caressed his boyfriend’s cheek until Tharn gave him a small smile.

“When you wanted to hate me”, Tharn corrected. “I realized that I liked you a lot more than I should have. Then we tried to be together and everything went wrong.”

He needed to pause for a minute because he had to think about Lhong and the break-up and all the sorrow. Type touched his cheek again. “That’s all behind us.”, Type reminded him.

“Yeah, it is.” Tharn smiled at his boyfriend and took his hands so that they couldn’t distract him. “I would have never survived all of this without you” Type wanted to interrupt him at that point, but he didn’t let him. “You gave me strength when I needed it, you protected me from someone who wanted to hurt me, and we have been together ever since. You are the best thing that ever happened to me and because of that I asked your dad for his blessing today.” Type tensed up. He was ready to tell his partner that he didn’t care about his father’s opinion, that they didn’t need his validation, but Tharn’s next words left him even more speechless than the ring Tharn fished out of a small velvet box or the fact that he got down on one knee. “And to my utmost surprise he gave me his blessing to ask you to marry me. We decided to spend the rest of our lives together a long time ago, but tonight I want to make it official by asking you: Will you marry me?”

“I told you I would be the one to propose to you” Type said while one tear ran down his face and he sank down on the ground to look Tharn in the eyes. Nevertheless, he let Tharn put the ring on his finger. After several heartbeats Type grabbed his wallet and fished something out of one of the back pockets. Tharn’s eyes went big when he saw it was a ring. “I don’t care what anyone thinks. I know there is no one else I want to spend my life with but you, so be my husband, arsehole Tharn.”

Tharn started laughing under tears while Type put the ring he had kept in his wallet for month on his finger. “You didn’t even ask me.”

“Why would I?”, he wanted to know. “That would give you the chance to say no and that isn’t an option for me.”

“It isn’t?” Tharn smiled and continuedly looked at their rings and Type’s face.

Type rolled his eyes at him like he was dumb. “No, it isn’t. You are the best thing that happened to me too, so I’m going to keep you forever. End of discussion.”

Tharn laughed even more, even though Type tried to kiss him passionately. He resisted and reminded the other: “That isn’t very romantic, and you didn’t answer my question.”

Type felt bad for a second. It was obvious that Tharn had put a lot of thought into his proposal and had even asked his biggest enemy for his blessing and Type had taken over the whole thing. “I’m sorry I’m not that romantic, but yes, I’ll marry you, arsehole Tharn.”

Tharn groaned into the kiss that followed. When they separated, he moped a little.

“What is it?", Type wanted to know.

"You can’t even answer to a proposal without mocking me”, Tharn complained. “That’s not how I imagined this story to end.”

Type smiled unapologetic and dragged Tharn to the love-nest he had prepared, and Type wanted to use sooner rather than later. “Okay, we can leave that part out when we tell our kids how their fathers’ proposal went down.”

Tharn stopped midway while being pushed to lay down on the cushions. “Kids?!”, he asked with a rather high-pitched voice.

“Hmm…”, Type murmured while kissing Tharn’s neck. After a while he realized his fiancé wasn’t participating enthusiastically like normal and he looked down on him. “Okay”, he gave in after all, “you want romance in your life, here you got it! I love you, Tharn, with all my heart and this isn’t the end of the story, it’s only the beginning!”

 

They kissed and loved each other for a long time after that and their smiles didn’t go away either, although Type’s dad threatened not to attend the wedding if his son would wear a dress, but that’s a story for another time and until then, they lived happily ever after.