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all of my regret will wash away somehow, but i cannot forget (the way i feel right now)

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Owen slides awkwardly into the restaurant booth.  “Oh, I’m sorry I’m a bit late.”  He smiles apologetically at the two figures across from him.

 

“Oh no, don’t worry,” Sam responds quickly.  “I just got here and so did Mark, I mean, technically, I think we’re all still early.”  On second glance, he doesn’t seem late.  They do appear to have just settled in.  Neither of them appears to have ordered a drink yet and despite it being more than a bit warm in the busy restaurant, neither of them had taken their jackets off yet.

 

“Wonderful,” he says nervously.  “Um, thank you both for agreeing to meet with me.  I’ve got—” he begins twiddling with his thumbs awkwardly and takes a deep breath as he attempts to get the rest of his words out.  “Well, I’ve got something big I wanted to talk to you about.”  He might as well get through it as quickly as possible in order to get rid of his nerves.  Then maybe afterwards the three of them can have a nice lunch.

 

That is, of course, if all goes according to plan.  Which it might not.  Which brings him back to his nerves.

 

Sam’s expression is intrigued and vaguely concerned, as though she can tell how worried he is.  Mark is… Mark is smirking.  Then again, Mark is usually smirking at least a little in Owen’s presence.  It’s always either smirking, glaring, or yelling.  Smirking is Owen’s preferred option of the three.

 

“Owen?  What’s wrong?”  Sam’s voice reminds him that he was, in fact, just speaking and should probably continue.  She’s leaning onto the table a bit and her face appears softer than usual, but he can still see the concern building up behind her relaxed facade.

 

He takes a deep breath and attempts a reassuring smile.  After all, it really isn’t anything bad.

 

No.  It’s not bad at all.

 

“You two are… two very important people in my life, and… obviously in Joan’s life.  And… I would just like to say: these past few years… have been the best of my life.  I’ve gotten the chance to redeem myself, and to make some real change, to do good in the world.  I’ve made friends, and… I’ve found a family.”  He smiles a little, feeling the butterflies in his stomach start to calm.

 

“...And you want to make a part of that family official.”  Mark finishes before him, catching both him and Sam off guard.

 

“I- Yes.  I do.”

“What does that— Oh. ”  Owen can see the exact second that Sam’s face switches from confused to excited.  “Oh my gosh, wait, Owen, are you gonna—”

 

He nods excitedly, his concerns momentarily forgotten as he lets himself be swept up by joy at the reminder.

 

“That’s great news, Owen.”  Sam is grinning at him, and Mark’s expression is…  Well, he’s not smirking anymore.  He’s not glaring either.  He’s definitely not yelling, at least, not yet.   The face he’s making isn’t one that Owen’s accustomed to, but it fits the theme of Mark’s expressions around Owen.  Which is to say, it’s still fairly intimidating.

 

“So,” Owen clears his throat, his smile and even some of his glee remaining intact despite the return of his anxiety.  “...Do I have your blessing?”

 

“Oh, um, yeah!  Of course!”  Sam beams at him, then turns to look at Mark and seemingly grows nervous.

 

Mark looks Owen in the eye and he can feel his heart speed up.  “It depends…” Mark begins.

 

It feels like time freezes for a second.  Owen waits, heart pounding, for the rest of the statement.

 

And then, something happens that he definitely isn’t expecting.

 

Mark smiles.

 

“...Can you show us the ring?”

 

The smile is faint, but it’s there.  And behind it, Owen can see the millions of things that are being left unsaid because there isn’t a way to say them.  He thinks he knows by now that he and Mark will never really have the words to describe their relationship.

 

They don’t need the words, not really.

 

They know what they feel.  Towards each other, towards Joan, towards all their friends, and towards themselves.  They might finally be okay with not being able to describe it.

 

Owen reaches into his pocket for the ring.  It’s the same one he’s had for nearly seven years now.

 

It’s funny, despite having rarely ever left it’s box, it feels like this ring has been through so much.  After everything that his and Joan’s relationship has been through, after all that they both have changed…

 

To him, the ring is now a bittersweet reminder of who they once were, how much they’ve hurt, and how much they’ve grown from it.

 

“It’s beautiful.”  Sam smiles up at him from across the table, and he almost blushes.  “She’ll love it.”

 

Mark doesn’t comment, but from the way his eyes and his smile both grow a bit wider, Owen can tell he feels the same about it.

 

“And just so you know… I’m going to be a really annoying brother in law.”

And this time, Owen smirks at him.   “You’re already annoying.”

 

Sam lets out a surprised laugh, and Mark, equally shocked, breaks into a grin.  “ Wow, Green.  And here I thought you were trying to get back on my good side.”

 

The look on his face is enough to make Owen start to laugh as well, and soon, the laughter proves infectious, as the three of them find themselves in hysterics over nothing at all.  They’re interrupted only when a waiter approaches seconds later to take their drink orders.

 

The waiter leaves, and, looking across the table at Sam and Mark picking up menus, Owen feels an odd burst of joy, of pride.

 

His past is atoned for, his relationships are mended.  He’s no longer weighed down by the burden of who he once was, what he once did.

 

He’s found himself a family, and now he’s more sure of it than ever.