Pairing: Ashley / Rachid
Word Count: 3,766
Summary: Rachid needs a date for his cousin’s wedding, and Ash meets Rachid’s family.
Rachid looked up as the two young women came strolling across the ambulance bay. They were both in their late teens, their arms laden with shopping bags. He smiled.
“What are you two doing here?”
One of the girls hugged him while the other gave Ashley a flirtatious smile, Stuart watching with a smile on his face.
“Aren’t you going to introduce us?” she asked, batting her eyelashes at Ash.
Rachid rolled his eyes. “Give it up, Jess. You’re really not his type.” As the girl pouted, he slung an arm around her shoulder, ruffling her hair at the same time, making her smack him before smoothing her hair again.
“Ash, Stuart, these are my sisters,” Rachid said. “This is Jena and Jesenia. Sorry, Jess,” he corrected after a glare from the girl. “So, what are you doing here?”
“Can’t we just come by and say hello to our favourite big brother?” she asked. Seeing his disbelieving expression, she smiled. “Mum told us to drop by and remind you not to be late on Thursday. She also wants to know if you’re bringing a guest. If not, she says that her friend Elizabeth’s daughter, Nina, would be happy to go with you.”
He looked up sharply. “No. You’re not letting mum set me up with another one of her friends’ daughters. Not after the last time.”
“Why, what happened the last time?” Stuart’s voice chipped in.
Rachid could see him and Ash, as well as a couple of the other guys, listening to the whole thing, looking amused. Unfortunately for them, tales of his mother’s disastrous attempts to set him up over the years were not something he wished to share.
“So that means you’ve got a date, then, does it?” Jess asked, grinning, and Rachid realised that the proposed blind date had just been a way to find out what they wanted.
“Yes. Well, kind of,” he told them, feeling his cheeks flush slightly. “I haven’t exactly asked yet.”
Jess and Jena shared a surprised look between themselves as Rachid’s gaze flicked briefly to Ashley.
“Him?” Jena asked.
“Nice going; he’s cute,” Jess added. “Makes me wonder what on earth he’s doing with you, though.”
“Thanks a lot!”
Jena laughed before a thought struck her. She glanced around at her brother’s colleagues, all listening intently, before turning back to her brother. “Uh-oh. Did they know?”
For a moment, Rachid considered letting her panic for a while longer but she looked so apologetic. He looked around at those who were listening in.
“Don’t you nosy buggers have work to do?” he asked, waiting until they had taken the hint and wandered away again. All except Ashley and Stuart, who were leaned against the ambulance, unwilling to miss any of this.
“Rash, I’m sorry,” Jena told him.
Rachid saw her glance at Stuart and smiled. “He already knew. The others, not so much. It’s okay, really. They would have worked it out sooner or later anyway.”
“Maybe not,” Stuart pointed out. “You could have hung a sign around your neck and Fat Tony wouldn’t have cottoned on. The man’s not the brightest bulb in the box,” he whispered loudly to Jena.
Jess poked her brother in the ribs. “So, are you going to ask him or not?”
Rachid glared at her before going to Ash. “It’s my cousin’s wedding. I was going to ask but I wasn’t sure if you’d want to go; I’m not even sure I want to so I’d totally understand if you didn’t-”
Ash smiled. “I’ll go.”
“Thank you,” Rachid said, relieved. “You just saved me from my mum nagging me all day for arriving alone.”
“You hadn’t told her about me, had you?” Ashley asked. “She’s not going to mind me coming?”
Rachid shook his head. He had considered telling his mum about Ash quite a few times, but he didn’t want to subject Ashley to the familial interrogation that his mother would make them attend in the guise of being invited to dinner. Now the decision was out of his hands. He was willing to bet that within five minutes of leaving here, the girls would have told his entire family. His mum wouldn’t have a problem with the fact he was bringing a male date; she had come to terms with the fact that he was bisexual while he was in his teens. It had taken her a while, but now she even defended his decisions to those few within the family who weren’t entirely comfortable with it.
“So, how about we buy you two a cup of tea and you can tell us loads of embarrassing stories about Rachid?” Stuart suggested.
Jess grinned. “Throw in a slice of cake and you’ve got yourself a deal,” she said, much to Rachid’s dismay.
The radio in the cab of the ambulance crackled and Rachid ran to it before anyone else could, telling dispatch that they would take the call out. It was just a clean-up for a drunk and disorderly but anything was better than letting his sisters do a ‘this is your life’ of his most embarrassing moments. This was why he had hesitated in asking Ash to go with him to the wedding; apart from the inevitable interrogation, he knew that his mother still had baby pictures in her handbag, which she just loved to show off. He was never going to live this down.
“Jena, Jess, I’ll see you later. We’ve got to go.”
The girls laughed, knowing exactly why he’d taken the call, and hurried back out of the ambulance bay, waving as the ambulance passed them at the gates.
Thursday morning came and Ash put on his best –only- suit, sitting on the sofa to fasten his shoes.
“Here,” Stuart said, tossing a tie at Ash. He had let himself in a few minutes ago and now stood in the doorway, watching, amused.
Ashley picked up the plain, dark blue tie that Stuart had brought over and smiled. That would do fine. He really had to buy himself a tie; he had spent a good half hour looking through every drawer in his home for the one he thought he did have, eventually having to admit defeat and call Stuart to borrow one.
“Oh for goodness’ sake,” Stuart said, pushing away from the doorframe where he had been leaning and going to Ashley. He smacked Ash’s hands away and tied it himself, flattening Ashley’s collar over it neatly. “There. Now it doesn’t look as though you tied it with your feet.” He took a step back and studied his friend carefully.
“Not bad. You scrub up pretty well.”
Both men turned as the door opened again and Rachid came in, straight to Ashley, uttering a loud sigh when he saw Stuart.
“Don’t laugh. My mum made me wear it,” he said, his glare almost daring Stuart to make a comment. “It’s traditional.”
Stuart didn’t say a word, just grinned and held up a camera phone, snapping a picture of them both before either of them could object.
“Now you kids have fun,” he told them before letting himself out again, the camera clutched in one hand and a shit-eating grin on his face.
Rachid watched him go in dismay. “What are the odds that picture is on the notice board by tomorrow?”
“Doesn’t matter,” Ash told him. “It just means that everyone will get to see how sexy you look in that outfit.”
He took a moment to look over Rachid’s attire, the cream tunic that went almost to his knees, over the loose cream trousers. The tunic had elaborate embroidery down the front and around the cuffs. Rachid smiled and tugged on Ashley’s tie to bring him closer before giving him a kiss, reluctantly pulling back a few moments later.
“Come on; let’s go before mum sends out a search party for me.”
They pulled up at a semi-detached house in the outskirts of Bradford, parking among the numerous cars already lining the street. Rachid’s fingers fiddled nervously with a button on his cuff until Ash’s hand on his stopped him.
“Sorry. Look, before we go in, can I just say that they’re family,” Rachid said, “So please don’t hold it against me.”
Ashley laughed. “I’ve already met your sisters, and they were lovely,” he said. “It’ll be okay.”
“Sure. It’s just that I’ve never done this before. Bring someone to a family thing, I mean.” Rachid took a deep breath and pushed the front door open. “Here goes.”
The moment Jess saw them she hurried over to greet them, bypassing her brother in order to give Ashley a hug.
“I’m so glad you made it,” she told him, only then glancing at Rachid. “You too, Rash.”
Ashley took in the sight of her and smiled. “You look beautiful,” he said, making her blush. “So do you, Jena.”
The other girl beamed happily at the compliment before taking Ashley’s hand and pulling him through the people gathered in the hallway and lounge.
“Mum, look who’s here.”
The man sitting on the sofa stood, offering a hand to help up the middle aged woman sitting next to him. She got her feet and greeted her son, giving him a pointed glare.
“Did I raise you with no manners?” she asked.
Rachid sighed. “No mum. Sorry. This is Ashley Greenwick. Ash, this is my mum and dad.”
Ashley smiled, shaking hands with Rachid’s dad before turning to his mum. He liked this woman; she was small, coming up to no higher than his shoulder, but it was obvious that she was used to being in charge around here.
“Nice to meet you, Ma’am.”
She smiled then. “What a polite young man!” Sitting down again, smoothing her bright dress underneath her, she patting the empty seat next to her in invitation to Ash. “You can call me Samira,” she told him. “Rachid, I think we’d all like some tea.”
Rachid sighed and set off toward the kitchen, returning a few minutes later with a tray of teacups, dismayed to find that his mother had indeed got the photographs out and was showing them to Ash. Beside them, his sisters and his Aunt were interjecting amusing anecdotes or, in the case of his sisters, just laughing at the pictures.
He handed out the cups in the hope of distracting his mum and, thankfully, it worked. Elbowing his sisters out of the way discreetly, he squeezed onto the sofa next to Ash.
“We’re never going to mention those photos again, right?”
Ash grinned. “I don’t know… I especially liked that one from your sixth birthday party.”
Rachid knew the one he meant; for some inexplicable reason, someone had dressed him in shorts and a pink jumper and that, combined with the pudding-basin haircut he had at the time, was enough for him to resort to bribery to never have it mentioned again. His mum, however, thought it was cute and showed it every bloody time.
As more relatives came in, meeting there before all going to the ceremony together, and Ash was introduced around, the more he started to wonder if this was such a good idea. Everyone was dressed up to the nines; compared to them, he looked as though he was going to a funeral.
“Hey, Ash, what’s wrong?”
He looked up into Rachid’s concerned face, and forced a smile. “Just feeling a bit underdressed,” he said, “and wondering if I’m going to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.”
Listening in, Samira patted his hand. “I think I can do something about that,” she said, quickly getting up and indicating for him to follow. She led him and Rachid upstairs and into a bedroom, pulling open the wardrobe doors and taking something on a hanger from the very back. “This was Rachid’s when his Uncle Aden married. It’s too small for him now- he’s put on some weight,” she added, patting Rachid’s stomach and making him protest. “You’re a skinny thing, though, so it should fit you.”
She handed the garment bag to Rachid and left with a warning not to take too long as they were leaving soon.
Five minutes later, Ashley was dressed in something similar to what Rachid wore. The trousers were a bit long but they fixed that with a belt to pull them up a bit further, but over all it wasn’t a bad fit.
“Looks good on you,” Rachid told him, leaning in for a kiss.
There was a knock on the door a split second before it burst open and Jena barged in, stopping short when she saw them kissing.
“Excuse her,” Rachid told Ash as he glared at his sister. “She has no concept of privacy.”
Jena just waved his comment away with a flick of her hand.
“Good job I did interrupt; Dad said to tell you that we’re leaving in two minutes,” she informed them, adding, “so you don’t have time for whatever else you were thinking of getting up to.”
Rachid groaned and, as he followed her out, Ash laughed as he heard him mutter, “I swear I’m not related to her; a pack of wild dogs left her on the doorstep when she was a baby.”
Whatever Ashley had been expecting, based on his limited experience of weddings in the past, this was the farthest thing from it. Still, he had little to compare it to except the strict church wedding he had attended when one of his university mates got married. He had Rachid translating some of the parts but even without that he would have got the general idea. The party afterwards was huge, with more people than he imagined could fit into the community centre crammed in, the music turned up and everyone dancing. Even him. Not that he had much of a choice in the matter when Jena and Jess grabbed an arm each and pulled him into the mass of people.
Thankfully, Samira saved him, Rachid at her side. “Come. We’re going to congratulate the happy couple,” she told him. When he protested that he wasn’t family, that maybe he should wait behind, she just rolled her eyes. “You are the first date that Rachid has brought to meet the family, and so that makes you one of us.” She grinned, a wicked twinkle in her eye. “There’s no escaping now.”
She led them to bride and groom, the young man getting to his feet and giving them both a hug as he saw them. Ash hung back as Rachid and his mother went through the traditional greetings and congratulations with both of them. Eventually, the groom cast a curious look at Ash, standing silently next to Rachid.
“Syed, this is Ashley. Ash, this is my cousin Syed, and Rana.”
Syed glanced back at Rachid. “Date?” he asked.
Rachid nodded, accepting his cousin’s offer to sit with them. While they caught up, Ash found himself sitting next to Rana, both of them wondering what to say to each other.
“You are Rachid’s boyfriend?” she asked, immediately apologising. “I’m sorry; that is none of my business.”
He smiled. “I don’t mind,” he assured her. “And yes, I guess I am. Does that mean that you don’t approve?”
Her eyes widened in horror. “No, of course not! I just haven’t been around many gay men before,” she admitted. “I’m not sure what is appropriate for me to ask.”
Ash laughed. “Well, since I’m not really up on wedding etiquette, I’m bound to have done something wrong. We can be inappropriate together.” Rana smiled, looking relieved. “It was a beautiful ceremony,” he continued.
Rana beamed happily. “Thank you.”
They moved on a few minutes later to allow others to come and speak to the bride and groom, going back to the party until the early hours. At around one o’clock in the morning, the guests began to say their goodbyes to Syed and Rana, before making their way home.
“So, was this as bad as you were expecting?” Ashley asked as he and Rachid followed Samira into the house to collect Rachid’s car keys and head home themselves.
Rachid shook his head. “Surprisingly, no.” He had been anxious about today but he need not have worried; his family had just started treating Ashley as one of their own, and even his less open-minded relatives had kept their mouths shut and not made any snide comments. Or if they had, he hadn’t heard them. Of course, his mother had shown the dreaded baby photos but he was sure that he could find some way of bribing Ash into never mentioning them again.
The moment he picked up his car keys, his mother snatched them off him.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she demanded.
Rachid frowned. “Going home.”
She shook her head. “It’s late. You’ll stay here and drive back in the morning when you’ve rested.”
“Do you or Ashley have to work tomorrow morning?” When he shook his head, she nodded firmly. “Then there is no problem with you going back tomorrow. You don’t mind, do you Ashley?” she asked.
Rachid turned to Ash and shrugged his shoulders helplessly, knowing better than to try and argue with his mum.
Ash smiled. “Of course not; it’s very kind of you to let me stay.”
Her frown smoothed away into a smile. “You see, Rachid? Gracious and polite.”
Rachid shot him a look over his mother’s head that clearly said ‘arse-kisser’. Ash just smiled innocently back at him.
“Rachid’s old room is made up for you. It’s only a small bed but I’m sure you’ll manage. Just remember that your Uncle is staying in the guest room next door and he’s a very light sleeper.”
She sighed. “I meant for you to keep your voices down. Honestly, Rachid, what did you think I was talking about?”
From the mischievous gleam in her eye she knew exactly what Rachid was thinking, Ash decided.
“I think it’s adorable that you’re scared of your mum,” he said to Rachid later as they got into bed.
“I am not.”
“Are too,” Ash persisted, grinning. “She didn’t seem that scary to me; I like her.”
Rachid dragged the bedcovers over them both. “I’m glad, now can we please stop talking about my mum?” he asked, because there were just some conversations that shouldn’t happen when you’re in bed with your boyfriend.
It was a bit of a squeeze for two grown men in the small bed, but Ash didn’t mind. Why would he object to having Rachid pressed against him, curled around his back? Of course, having him that close was causing a different problem. Shifting slightly, he pressed his arse back against Rachid.
Ash could feel Rachid’s cock responding and wriggled against him again, feeling a sharp smack to his hip.
“Have you forgotten that my family is here?” Rachid asked. “There are no locks on the door and my sisters have a tendency to wander in when they feel like it.”
“So we’ll be really quiet.”
Rachid was almost convinced until he moved and the bed gave a loud creak. Both men froze.
“Floor?” Ash suggested.
“No,” Rachid told him, giving him a nip of teeth to the back of his neck. “Go to sleep you horny little sod.”
Ash let out a defeated sigh and settled down, rubbing up against Rachid just a little more than necessary, but eventually he fell asleep.
They left the following day, after Rachid’s mother had fed them; she insisted that they have a good breakfast before going home, refusing to take no for an answer. She gave her son a hug as they left, pulling Ash in for one too.
“Ashley, dear, it was lovely to meet you, and don’t forget: the fifteenth, six o’clock.”
“What’s happening on the fifteenth?” Rachid asked, suddenly remembering as he unlocked his front door and let them both in an hour later.
He was thankful it was over. Though his family had been welcoming and Ash seemed to enjoy himself, he’d be glad to get back home where he didn’t have to worry about sisters wandering into his room unannounced and his mother trying to feed him with enough food to keep a small army in rations for a week.
“Dinner. Your mum invited us.”
Rachid groaned. Brilliant, he thought. With his mother and Ash teaming up there would be no way to get out of family dinners any more.
“Look at it this way,” Ashley pointed out. “You get dinner made for you and someone else does the washing up afterwards.”
“True.” And at least now his mum had met Ashley she’d stop asking if he’d got a girlfriend or boyfriend. If the worst came to the worst, he could leave Ash to talk to her. After all, he was the one who’d agreed to go to dinner.
“Thank you for yesterday,” Rachid told him, his arms circling Ashley’s waist. “I imagine it was a bit daunting, meeting my whole family like that, but I really appreciated you coming with me.”
Ash smiled. “I didn’t mind; actually, I really enjoyed myself,” he said, lifting his face for a kiss, which Rachid happily obliged. Ash glanced at the clock on the wall. “We don’t have to be at work for hours…”
“You’re right,” Rachid agreed. “I take it you have something in mind to keep us occupied until then?”
Ashley just grinned and, hooking a finger under Rachid’s belt, led the other man toward the bedroom.
“You can finish thanking me,” Ash told him, kicking the door shut behind them. “And you know what they say: Actions speak louder than words.”
When they arrived at work, six hours later, Stuart took one look at them both and let out a laugh.
“You two look knackered. Late night last night, was it?”
More like a long, rather strenuous, afternoon, Rachid thought. He grinned at Ashley.
“Something like that.”