Now That You're Here


Chapter 27


“Justin, would you slow down before you hurt yourself?” Zander said to Justin’s back as he watched the blond almost sprinting through the parking garage.

“I don’t have to. You’re going slow enough for all three of us. Now would you please hurry up? I need to see Brian,” Justin replied impatiently. “And before you say anything else, don’t tell me you wouldn’t be doing the same thing if Chris was in that bed up there.”

Zander sighed in resignation as he picked up his pace. Justin was right. If it had been Chris in a car accident and fighting for his life, chances are no one would’ve been able to get him to leave the hospital.

They made it up to ICU in record time. Zander didn’t even bother suggesting that Justin wait in the waiting room until he went down and got Chris. He called after him to send Chris down and resigned himself to the fact that he’d see Brian soon enough. Jason just laughed as he took a seat.

“You know, if it wasn’t for the way his eyes tear up every so often because of the pain, you’d never know there was anything wrong with him,” Jason said as Zander dropped down in the seat beside him.

“I know,” Zander replied. “I just hope he doesn’t do more damage to his shoulder. The doctor gave him strict orders to take it easy.”

“Well, now that Brian’s awake, maybe he’ll start taking it easy.” Jason laughed at the look Zander gave him. “Yeah, I know,” he chuckled.

Justin didn’t stop until he was standing right inside the doorway of Brian’s room. Chris was sitting in the chair and turned around when he heard someone enter the room. He saw the look on Justin’s face and smiled.

“Relax; he just drifted off to sleep. The doctor said that he’d probably be drifting in and out of sleep for the rest of the night. Where are Zan and Jason?”

“They’re down in the waiting room. I…um…didn’t want to wait.” Justin walked over to the bed and reached for Brian’s hand. “He’s going to be okay?”

“The doctor assured me that the worst is over. They’re going to be here to take him for a CAT scan soon. I’ll go see the guys and give you a few minutes,” Chris told him. “And Justin, you know that once Brian gets out of here, we’re all going to have to sit down and talk about your ability to keep secrets, right?”

Justin blushed warily. “Look Chris, we didn’t…I mean, we weren’t sure if…”

“It’s okay. Right now, all that matters is that Brian’s going to get better. We’ll figure the rest out later.” Chris glanced at his watch. “You’ve got about ten minutes before they come and take him. I’ll be in the waiting room.”

Justin waited until he was alone before sitting down in the chair that Chris had vacated. His shoulder was throbbing, but he pushed the pain to the back of his mind as he leaned over and kissed Brian’s forehead. He was rewarded for his move when Brian’s eyes fluttered open.

“God, how I missed seeing those hazel eyes of yours,” Justin said softly. “How are you? Are you in any pain?”

“I don’t think so,” Brian managed to choke out. “I just feel kind of funny, you know? Like I’m in a dream. What happened? I asked Chris before, but he wouldn’t tell me.”

“What’s the last thing you remember?” Justin asked. He wasn’t sure if he was supposed to talk about the accident. It was obvious that Chris hadn’t wanted him to know.

“I’m not sure. Everything’s kind of fuzzy,” Brian replied as he blinked a few times to get some focus. He was still so tired, but he wasn’t ready to go back to sleep. Not with Justin sitting by his side holding his hand. As he looked closer, he noticed the bandage on Justin’s head and the brace that immobilized his arm. “Are you okay?”

“I’m great now that you’re awake,” Justin assured him.

“Justin, tell me what happened,” Brian pleaded. “I’ll find out sooner or later, anyway.”

“We were in an accident. An SUV ran a stop sign and just…hit us,” Justin explained cautiously, hoping that Brian couldn’t hear the way his voice trembled. He’d been having nightmares of the accident every night since it happened.

“Shit,” Brian whispered. “Are you really okay?”

“Yeah, I am. Just a few stitches and a dislocated shoulder. It’s no big deal.”

“Does it hurt?” Brian asked as he squeezed Justin’s hand tighter.

“A little, but they gave me some pretty good painkillers. You’re the one everybody’s been worried about. I don’t know what I would’ve done if you…I mean, you wouldn’t wake up. I was so scared and they wouldn’t let me stay with you. Right before we were hit, I was thinking about how happy I was. How happy you make me and then all of a sudden this happens and I didn’t know if…I wasn’t sure I’d get the chance to tell you that I love you. And I do, Brian. I am so in love with you. You have to know that.” Justin leaned over, kissing Brian softly as he fought off the tears that were threatening to fall.

“Hey,” Brian said when Justin pulled back. “Shhhhh. I love you, too. And I’m going to be okay. Everything’s going to be fine, but you might want to be careful. If Chris or Zander walk in and find us…”

Justin laughed, knowing what Brian was thinking. “Oh yeah, about that. They know about us. I kind of mentioned it to them.”

“You told them about us?”

“I’m sorry, but they weren’t going to let me see you. When the doctor released me, all I wanted to do was come up here and see you, but Zander wanted me to go home and rest. I couldn’t leave without coming up here so I told him how much you mean to me. It was the only way to get up here. Are you mad?”

Brian pretended to think about it for a moment before replying. “Well, it would’ve been nice if you told me that you loved me before telling Zander, but I think that under the circumstances, it’s okay. Are we in trouble?”

“I don’t think so. They haven’t really said much to me about it, but then again, it wasn’t their first priority. Chris just said that we were going to have to sit down and talk about it once you get out of here,” Justin said.

“Damn, we don’t see much of each other now. It’s going to be even harder once they move one of us down to the basement,” Brian sighed.

“Maybe they won’t do that.” Seeing Brian’s skeptical look, Justin continued. “Seriously, maybe it won’t be as bad as you think. We’re almost eighteen. There’s no reason to treat us like children. Besides, after almost losing you, I don’t care where we sleep. As long as I know that you’re still here with me, I’ll be fine.”

“I’m still here with you and I’m not going anywhere,” Brian assured him. “Now come over here and kiss me again.”

Justin was more than happy to oblige. Unfortunately their time was cut short when the nurse came in and told them that Brian was going to be taken down for his CAT scan. Justin promised to be there when Brian got back and then left to go to the waiting room. Chris stood up as soon as he saw Justin enter the room.

“Did you get to talk to him?”

“Yeah, he was awake. They’re taking him for his CAT scan now.”

Justin sat down in the nearest chair and was suddenly overcome with emotion. He was unable to stop the tears that began running down his face or hold back the sob that escaped his lips. Chris was at his side in seconds, taking him gently into his arms.

“Shhh…it’s okay now. He’s awake and everything is going to be okay.”

“I know,” Justin choked out before sobs. “It’s just that I didn’t realize how scared I was of losing him until now. After talking to him…I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t gotten that chance again.”

“It’s over now. You did get the chance, and you’re going to get a lot more chances,” Chris whispered, fighting off his own emotions. He knew exactly how Justin felt. He’d had the same thoughts when Brian first woke up. “Come on, let’s go down to the cafeteria and get something to eat while we wait. Zander and Jason are already down there.”

“Okay, but I need to stop at a bathroom on the way and splash some cold water on my face, first. The curse of fair skin. I tend to get blotchy easy,” Justin laughed.

“Yeah, Zan has the same problem and he hates it. He can’t hide it from me when he’s upset,” Chris replied with a smile.

By the time they all made it back upstairs, Brian was done with his CAT scan and back in his room. The nurses overlooked the two at a time rule and allowed Chris, Zander, Jason, and Justin to stay with Brian after numerous promises that they would stay quiet and not let Brian get too excited.

Brian was surprised to see Jason walk through the door and thanked him over and over again for rushing to Justin’s side. He could only imagine how hard the last couple of days had been on his boyfriend. He couldn’t even think about how he would’ve felt if the situation was reversed and Justin had been seriously hurt. As much as he was enjoying having everyone there fawning all over him, Brian was exhausted and fighting to stay awake. Chris noticed his exhaustion first.

“Guys, we should probably let Brian get some sleep.”

“I’m sorry. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company,” Brian said sleepily. “You’d think I’d be wide awake after all the sleep I got in the last few days.”

“No, it’s okay,” Chris replied. “We shouldn’t be keeping you up. You need to rest so that you can get better and come home. Try to get some sleep. I’m going to walk these guys down to the parking garage and then I’ll be back.”

“Chris,” Brian began. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but go the hell home.”

“What? Brian, I’m not going anywhere. That chair over there has my name on it,” Chris replied.

“Look, I really appreciate you wanting to be here with me. You have no idea how touched I am that you’ve been sitting by my side through all of this. But I’m okay now. You need to go home and get some sleep. You look like hell.” Brian could see that Chris was about to argue and continued. “Please? For me? I promise I’ll be right here waiting for you when you get back in the morning.”

Chris saw the look of determination in Brian’s eyes and knew he was in for a fight. He glanced over at Zander, hoping for back up, but he should’ve known better. He could tell that Zander was on Brian’s side. “Fine, I’ll go. But if you need anything, you call me. I don’t care what time it is, call me and I’ll be here.”

“If I need anything, you’ll be the first person I call,” Brian promised. “Now go get some rest. All of you.”

Chris, Zander, and Jason all said their goodbyes, leaving Justin for last. He walked over and kissed Brian again, relishing in the fact that Brian was awake for the kiss. “Zander is going into the store in the morning, so I’ll have Jason drive me here. I’m going to leave my cell phone with you. If you need anything or just get lonely and can’t sleep, call me. I don’t care what time it is, okay?”

“Okay, I will,” Brian replied softly.

Justin reached out and ran his hand along Brian’s forehead and down his cheek. “I love you so much.”

“I love you, too.”

Zander watched the loving exchange between the two teens and then glanced over at Chris with teary eyes, meeting the older man’s gaze. He saw how much the exchange touched Chris, too and knew they were going to have to talk about the blossoming relationship soon; before Brian’s release.

Chris stopped at the nurse’s station on their way out and let the nurses on duty know that he’d be leaving for the night but that he’d be back first thing in the morning. After several promises that he’d be notified if there were any changes to Brian’s condition, Zander was finally able to lead Chris to the car.

“He’s going to be okay, Babe,” Zander promised once they were on their way.

“I know. I just hate the thought of him being there all alone. But he’s right. I really do need to get some sleep. I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired in my life.” Chris fought to hold back a yawn.

“Just put your head back and relax. As soon as we get home, I’ll throw together something for dinner so you can actually have a real meal. After that, maybe a glass of wine and a quick soak in the Jacuzzi to loosen up those muscles after sleeping in a chair for two days? You’ll sleep like a baby,” Zander suggested.

“That sounds wonderful,” Chris replied. “You’re going to join me, right?”

“Of course I am.” Zander smiled as he took Chris’ hand. “From the look on your face, I’m afraid you’ll fall asleep and drown in the tub.”

“Yeah, probably,” Chris chuckled as he put his head back and shut his eyes. He was asleep in seconds.

Once they got home, Zander managed to wake Chris up just enough to eat before exhaustion overtook him and he crashed for the night. Of course, between the stress of the last few days and the relief of Brian waking up, they were all exhausted and everyone was sound asleep by ten o’clock.

Justin was pulled out of his sleep by the sound of the phone ringing. He reached for it quickly, and smiled when he saw his cell number on the caller ID. It was a good thing he’d remembered to grab one of the handsets from the landline before he went to bed. It was just after two in the morning.

“Hey, can’t sleep?” he said softly, hoping not to wake Jason who was snoring softly on the other side of the room.

“No. I woke up a little while ago and can’t fall back. I’m guessing by the sound of your voice that you were sleeping. Do you want me to let you go?” Brian asked.

“Of course not. That’s why I left you my phone. So you could call me if you wanted to talk. How are you feeling?”

“A little bit better. I’m still a little groggy from the meds they have me on, but I don’t feel as out of it as I did before. I’m actually feeling restless. Now that I’m awake, I just want to go home and the nurses won’t even let me get out of bed on my own yet. They told me that they’re running a few more tests in the morning and if those come back okay, I’ll be transferred to a regular room on another floor and then I’ll be able to walk around on my own. How long are they planning on keeping me here? I told them that I’m fine and that it’s okay for me to go home.”

“Well, Dr. Kinney, as much as I am sure they appreciate your input, why don’t you let the real medical personnel make the decisions?” Justin teased before sobering. “Brian, you almost died. Please, just let them take care of you. Believe me, no one wants you home more than I do, but not until the real doctor is sure that everything is okay and that you’re going to be fine.”

“Alright, alright. I’ll stay here a little while longer. But I still think it’s ridiculous to keep me here when I’m perfectly healthy,” Brian muttered.

“I know you do, babe. Trust me; you’ll be home before you know it.”

They talked for another ten minutes until Justin couldn’t hold back a yawn, letting Brian know how exhausted he was. After a brief argument, Justin agreed to get some sleep so he could visit first thing in the morning. Once Brian was alone again, he thought about his life and how much better it had become since Justin arrived in Arizona. In just a few months, the blond had managed to worm his way into Brian’s life and his heart without even trying, leaving Brian more grateful than he’d ever been before. As he lay there in his hospital bed, remembering all the fun they had so far, one of the nurses came in to check on him.

“Hey, Brian, how’re you feeling?”

“Okay, I guess. I’m too restless to sleep. I can’t wait to get out of this bed,” he replied.

“Yeah, we get that a lot around here,” the nurse said as she checked his IV and then took his pulse. “Don’t worry. We don’t make it a habit of keeping people in ICU longer than necessary. You should be down in a regular room by noon.”

“And I can’t wait. No offense, of course.”

“Oh, none taken. If any of our patients really wanted to stay here, we’d probably have them transferred to the psych ward,” she laughed. “We will miss you around here, though. You and your brother. By any chance is he single?”

Brian laughed outright. “No, he’s not. He’s very happily partnered with the blonde that’s been hanging around.”

“Oh…oh. The young one with the sling?”

“No, that one’s mine. The slightly older one,” Brian explained with a chuckle.

“Damn, all the best ones really are married or gay,” she laughed. “Oh well, can’t blame a girl for trying. I’m all through here. Why don’t you try to get some rest? I know it doesn’t feel like it, but rest is really important for recovery.”

“I am getting kind of tired.”

“Well, if I don’t see you later, good luck. You’ll be out of ICU before my next shift. Take care of yourself and don’t overdo it until you’re fully healed, got it?”

“Got it,” Brian agreed. “And if I ever find myself here at the hospital in the middle of the night, I’ll be sure to come up and say hello.”

“You do that.”

Brian watched her walk away and then rolled over and drifted off to sleep, thoughts of Justin running through his head.



Friday finally arrived and with that, so did Brian’s discharge. Justin went to the hospital with Chris, leaving Zander and Jason back at the house to wait. Zander had stripped Brian’s bed and put on fresh sheets, then dusted and vacuumed the room while chuckling to himself. Somehow he doubted that a 17 year old boy would notice a little dust after nearly dying in a car accident. At the sudden reminder of how close they all had come to losing Brian, Zander’s knees buckled and he barely managed to make it to the bed before falling. He bent over and put his head between his legs, trying to get his breathing under control. That’s how Jason found him a few minutes later.

“Hey Zander, are you okay?”

“Um…yeah…” Zander replied as he sat up and wiped the dampness from his eyes. “Sorry about that. I don’t know what came over me. Do you need something?” He stood up and turned away from Jason’s concerned eyes, focusing his attention on straightening the bed.

“Zan, it’s okay. You’ve been so worried about Justin and Chris that you haven’t taken the time to experience your own fears over the accident and how close you came to losing Brian. It’s understandable that you’d have a momentary breakdown now that the danger has passed,” Jason said, sounding wise beyond his years.

Zander looked over at Jason, ready to deny what the teen suggested, but he knew that he couldn’t. What Jason said was the truth. “Are you sure you’re only seventeen?” he asked instead.

“Yeah. My mother is a psychiatrist. I’ve been listening to her psycho-babble since I was still in the womb,” Jason laughed. “I’m also great at listening if you want to talk about it.”

“No, I’m good. I would like to talk about Brian and Justin, though. I’m assuming you know all there is to know about their relationship?”

“I don’t know if I know all about it, but I probably know more than anyone other than the two people in question. And I’m sure you know that most of what I know falls into the ‘told in the strictest of confidence’ category so I don’t know if I can help you,” Jason replied carefully.

“Relax, I don’t expect you to tell me everything. I was just wondering about the basics. How long has it been going on? Is it as serious as it seems? Why didn’t they tell us? I’ve wanted to talk to Justin about it, but he just gets so sad every time Brian’s name is mentioned that I decided to wait. It’s just that Chris and I need to talk to them about things and I don’t want to make any decisions about where to go from here without some information on what we’re dealing with. I mean, we suddenly have two gay teens claiming to be in love with each other sleeping alone upstairs every night. I’m not so sure that’s a good idea, and I’m sure Chris is going to have a fit once Brian is home and the dust settles.”

“Well, they’ve been seeing each other since the night Sean and I flew back to Pittsburgh. They didn’t tell you for fear of you and Chris freaking out. Neither one of them wants to be forced to move down to the basement or forbidden to be alone together,” Jason said and then smiled when Zander groaned and started pacing. “If it makes you feel any better, they tried to fight their attraction to each other. From what I understand, the attraction was immediate but they both refused to act on it because they didn’t want to upset you guys. It just got to be too hard for them. You know, they’re like the perfect couple. I haven’t seen them since this all started, but I talk to Justin all the time, and sometimes Brian too. They really do love each other. Keeping them on separate floors of the house isn’t going to keep them from engaging in…things you might not want them engaging in. You’d probably do better setting some ground rules and making them agree to follow them. I know for a fact that they’ve been pretty…um…respectful of what they should and shouldn’t do in your house. And that’s all you’re going to get out of me.”

Zander thought for a moment and then smiled at Jason. “Thanks for the heads up. At least Chris and I know a little bit more than we did before.”

“No problem,” Jason replied. “Oh, I think they're back.” A glance out the window confirmed his suspicions, and he and Zander both hurried downstairs to welcome Brian home.

“I swear, I’m fine. Would you two please stop hovering and let me walk through the damn door,” Brian pleaded as he walked into the house. He looked up and saw Zander and Jason coming towards him. “Zan, do something with these two or I’m going back to the hospital.”

“It’s good to see you too, Brian. Welcome home.” Zander’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “What’s going on?”

“The doctor said, and I quote ‘Continue to take it easy. No lifting, no bending, and no standing for long periods of time’. He didn’t say no walking into the house.” Brian slowly brushed past Zander and made his way into the living room, gently lowering himself on the couch. “These two practically carried me to and from the car. They think I’m suddenly an invalid who can’t do anything for himself.”

“Brian,” Chris sighed in frustration. “You were in a car accident less than a week ago.”

“I know. I was there and I have the scars to prove it. That doesn’t mean that I can’t walk into the house on my own. What’s next? You planning on wiping my ass for me, too?”

“Brian,” Justin began.

“Don’t you start again either. You’re my boyfriend, which means you’re supposed to be on my side no matter what. Not his,” Brian barked.

“Well I can see this is going to be an interesting few days while everyone settles in. Brian, I’m sure the hospital sent you home some pain meds. Are you, by any chance, due for some now?”

“Maybe,” Brian mumbled.

“Okay, you just sit back and relax. Jason, would you please get Brian a bottle of water and one of his pills? Justin, you go on upstairs and rest for a bit. I know you didn’t get much sleep last night. Chris, you and I need to talk. Can you please go wait in our room until I’m sure Brian has everything he needs?”

Brian, Justin, Jason and Chris all looked at Zander for a moment. Obviously seeing the seriousness in his eyes, they all did exactly what was expected of them, leaving Brian and Zander alone in the living room.

“I’m sorry. I know I’m a little cranky, but I hurt like hell and the last thing I need is Chris and Justin hovering over me. I know they mean well, but I’m really not an invalid. In fact, the nurses thought it was good that I was getting up and moving around some. They said as long as I take it easy, I’ll be fine. I didn’t need to be carried into the house.”

“Chris actually wanted to carry you?”

“Yes, and Justin thought it was a good idea,” Brian growled. He saw Jason approaching with his water and pills and reached out to take them, wincing slightly at the movement. “Thanks.”

“No problem. I’ll just run upstairs and check on Justin. You were pretty hard on him, you know,” Jason offered.

Brian sighed. “I know. I’m just worn out. Who knew being discharged from a hospital could be so exhausting? Tell him I’m sorry and that I’ll make it up to him as soon as I’m feeling better.”

“I will.”

Once Jason was gone, Zander pulled the blanket off the back of the couch and looked expectantly at Brian. “I’m not going to insist on carrying you, but I do think you should lay down for awhile.”

Brian smiled slightly at Zander and did what he was told, already feeling his exhaustion taking over. “Thanks.”

“No problem. Chris and I will be in our bedroom. Call if you need anything, alright?”

“Yep,” Brian replied sleepily.

Zander leaned down and placed a soft kiss on Brian’s forehead. “It’s good to have you home,” he whispered softly and then went in search of Chris. Brian was asleep before Zander even made it to the bedroom.

End of chapter 27


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