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University was hard work. Don't let anyone tell you any different, because that is the truth of it. You are responsible for yourself and it is like being thrown into the deep end of adulthood. You have to get your own butt up for classes. You have to go to all the orientation meets they send you notices for, or you will be lost when you step foot on campus.

Don't get me wrong, there are people there to help you if you ask for it. It is just a whole new world of being your own person. You have to make your schedule, get to classes, organize your homework around your time, and then people expect you to socialise? Party? Hah. Not me. I wasn't going to slack off and prove my mother right.

I agreed to a couple study groups, but I ignored the flyers for mixers and parties. My room was my study centre. It was covered in text books and notes. Every surface was devoted to my work now. I got out for lunch and coffee twice with my father. He really was okay with me being, well whatever I wanted really. We were more like friends than parent and child. That suited us both.

The best part of it all was that I didn't have to focus on whatever my relationship with Mark was, or wasn't. I was too busy to care at the moment. We lived in the same apartment, shared meals occasionally, and played video games to relax and unwind. It was somewhere between friendship and flirtatious roommates. It was fun.

I knew I was going to miss him when he went away for Thanksgiving week. He had to go though. It gave me an opportunity to meet Charles' family, that is, my father's family. I was both looking forward to it and dreading it, like any meeting for the first time really. I wanted to make a good impression. That's why I had Mark help me decide what to wear before he left.

He probably thought I was being silly, but I valued his opinion and appreciated his experience even if it was only slightly more than my own. I was going to wear a suit, but he convinced me to keep it a little more casual. I decided on a nice button down shirt and slacks. It was still pretty formal, but not over the top. If I undid the buttons then it was more casual.

Mark let me drop him off at the airport and take the car. It was a real sign of trust and I appreciated it more than I think he knew. It also meant I could take myself over to my father's place for dinner. The smell of Mark kind of lingered in the car and helped to relax me as I drove. I could do this. I was an adult, dammit. I was also shaking like a leaf when I approached the door, but I could say it was the cold.

"Hello Greg! Welcome. Come on inside. You are not the last to arrive, so come on in and meet the folks who are here." Charles opened the door wide and I shut it behind me before taking off my coat and shoes. I didn't want to track mud on the clean floors and tick off my new step-mother. Could I call her that? I wasn't too sure but it sounded all right to me.

"Hello." I waved to the small group in the first room. A chorus of hellos was bandied back to me with a few tentative smiles. He introduced me to his brother and wife, their two children who were both younger than me, and his sister who said her husband was somewhere in the kitchen. They all checked me out with as much curiosity as I had for them.

Next I was pulled into said very busy kitchen. I met my stepmother, my uncle in-law, and another uncle with his husband. They were all at various counter spaces trying to chop, dice, mix, or stir. Charles' wife was definitely the head chef in this kitchen, so I must have struck out twice on the cooking genes. I chatted with her for a couple minutes before I was shooed back out into the other room.

Then his parents arrived with more siblings, so I was introduced all around a second time. This family was pretty big. I counted in my head, three brothers and two sisters. Add two wives and three husbands. Then add five children, wait, five? No, six. I had to count myself. So two grandparents, ten parents, and six grandchildren.

"Okay everyone! Now that we are all here, we have an announcement to make." Charles called out as the kitchen folks stepped into the large room to greet the newcomers and hear the speech. "Annabelle and I are expecting our first child together. Greg is going to be a big brother!"

A round of congratulations and hugs followed. I was beaming at the thought of having a baby sibling. I gave Annabelle a hug, and Charles too. Then I gave him crap for not telling me sooner, while he blushed a little sheepishly. Man, I really felt lucky tonight. I went from being the cast out son to the long lost son returned. I got to talk to all these great people who were now my family.

My aunts were pranksters and loved teasing their brothers. The brothers were all chill guys who took everything in stride. Their kids were gregarious, talkative, sweethearts who ran around like mad as soon as the adults weren't paying attention. My grandparents were too old to care about watching their mouths and told off anyone within earshot.

The food was good and there was too much of it for one night, even with all the people there. I had ham, mashed potatoes and green beans, but avoided all the other strange things on the menu. Especially the thing that looked like green poop. I had pie for dessert and it was just as good as any of the chefs or catering companies I had eaten before.

My uncle blushed when I told him that, but he should be really proud of himself. It wasn't easy to cook, let alone bake, and his food was delicious. I spoke to both him and his husband about finding some support groups in the area apart from the school programs so I would have someone to talk to about... well, you know, sex and stuff.

Don't get me wrong, Emily was a good friend and tried to help me with this, but she just wasn't a gay man with experience. The internet was unfortunately also not the most reliable of sources for information on the subject. I was inundated with rainbows, fangirls and religious back talk on many of the trips to lgbt... whatever it was called... land.

They gave me their information too, but we would have to get to know each other a whole lot better before I started asking them sex questions. If ever. I mean do you really want to know what your uncles know about sex? No. Just no. Emily would probably disagree with me, but she was weird. I saw what she was reading the last time I went over to her place to hang out.

"So, do you have a boyfriend then?" My uncle-in-law asked me with a sly grin. I blushed and shook my head no.

"So just a potential then?" My uncle pried. I nodded and took another bite of the pie so I wouldn't have to talk. That might have been a mistake since it gave my dad a chance to pipe up.

"Would that be that Mark fellow you came here with?" He asked with an arched look at me. I gulped and almost choked on my bite.

"W-what?" I croaked. I looked at him with evident shock on my face. He chuckled and shook his head.

"I knew it. My father sense was tingling. Plus, you checked out his butt on the way to the car." He winked at me and I must've gone at least two shades darker in my blush.

"I-I did not. I was way too nervous to do anything like that." I spluttered. He laughed a bit with my uncle before responding.

"Fair enough. Good choice though. He is quite the looker, and an older man. Go son." The uncles oohed and I covered my face with my hands in embarrassment.

"Oh my god. DAD." I moaned. Then my new grandma came over and smacked the grinning fool on the shoulder before taking me over to talk with the ladies. They were plotting for Christmas already, and I laughed with them about the gag candies they planned to put in the brother's stockings. I was really looking forward to spending time with them then.

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