Now That You're Here


Chapter 46


Brian was sitting in his room studying for a history test when his phone rang. He reached for it absently, his brain still engulfed in eighteenth Century Rome.


“She’s here,” the voice on the other end said.

“Who’s here?”

“The baby. My daughter is here,” Dane explained, his voice catching as reality washed over him again. He had a daughter.

“Holy shit!” Brian exclaimed, slamming his book shut. “How is she? How is Stacy? How are you?”

Dane laughed. “Stacy and the baby are fine. I’m not sure about me yet. It was, I don’t know. Awesome? Gross? A little bit of both? It was amazing.”

Brian smiled. He and Dane had spoken two days earlier and Dane was adamant that he was going to wait out in the waiting room like fathers did back in the old days. He knew his friend would cave. “All that from the waiting room?”

“Shut up and get your ass over here. I want you to meet my daughter.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Brian pulled on his shoes and pocketed his cell phone and then went in search of Justin. Within minutes, they were on their way to the hospital in Bisbee. They were both quiet on the drive over. Justin’s mind was filled with thoughts of one day having a child of his own, or at least close enough, and wondering how Brian felt about the subject. Brian’s thoughts were sad and unhealthy. Heading back to his home town of Bisbee, he couldn’t help but wonder if his own parents were as excited when he and Chris were born as Dane seemed to be. If there was ever a time in their lives when they were happy to have two sons, or if they’d dreaded the birth of their children. It was a question he’d probably never get an answer to, but it still plagued him. He tried to force the bad thoughts from his mind, but wasn’t really successful.

When they got to the hospital, Brian was surprised to find Stacy and Dane alone with the baby. He’d at least expected Dane’s parents to be there. Neither new parent noticed the two people standing in the doorway, so Brian was able to take a moment and watch in awe as Dane held his daughter. The scene before him looked natural; like Dane had been holding babies all of his life.

“I never thought I’d see the day,” Brian teased as he walked into the room, drawing the attention of Dane and Stacy.

“I know. Me neither,” Dane replied, his face beaming with pride. “Come on over and meet my daughter, Julia Marie Sommers.”

“Hi Stacy, how’re you feeling?” Justin asked as they approached the baby.

“Like I just pushed a watermelon through a straw,” she replied.

Brian was at Dane’s side, reaching for the baby. He’d never held one before, but a strange desire to do so bubbled up inside him. He took the small bundle carefully; surprised that he wasn’t more nervous being given the responsibility of holding her. She opened her eyes and as he looked down into her tiny face his heart seemed to skip a beat. “God, Dane, she’s beautiful. Thank God she looks like her mother.” Brian couldn’t resist.

“Thanks a lot,” Dane laughed good-naturedly. “Let me tell you guys, we should be on our knees thanking God that women are the ones who give birth. Poor Stacy was in agony for twelve hours. I never would’ve been able to do it.”

“It’s not like I had a choice,” Stacy pointed out. “But it was worth it. Look at her. She’s perfect.”

“Yeah, she is.”

Justin watched the expressions on both Stacy and Dane’s face and was hit with a twinge of jealousy. He wanted what they had; what they were feeling. Maybe not at that moment, but seeing them confirmed what he basically knew all along. That he wanted, needed to be a father. He glanced over at Brian to see his reaction and was startled to see sadness in his boyfriend’s eyes. It wasn’t the kind of sadness that others would pick up on, but knowing Brian like he did; it was easy for him to read the emotions there. When Brian looked his way, he asked him silently if he was alright, but all he got was a nod in return. He’d have to wait until they were alone to prod and find out what was wrong.

Brian saw the concerned look on Justin’s face and smiled. He really shouldn’t be happy that the blond picked up on his mood, but it always felt so good when he had proof of how connected they were. Justin was the only person on earth who cared enough and knew him well enough to know what he was thinking without having to be told. Finding an emotional connection like that was rare, and Brian was still so thankful that he’d found it. He tried to reassure Justin with his eyes that he was fine, but knew he’d be explaining what he was thinking about once they were in the car.

As soon as Justin took his turn holding the baby, Dane and Brian went downstairs to make some phone calls.

“I can’t believe you didn’t call your parents when she went into labor,” Brian said as they got into the elevator.

“I thought about it, but I kind of wanted to do this on my own, you know? I’m a father now. I need to be responsible and learn to take care of myself and my daughter. It’s not like they could’ve done anything if they had known. There was no sense in having them here, pacing the waiting room.”

“Yeah, you’ve got a point,” Brian agreed.

When they got outside, Dane called his parents and Steve, who promised to let everyone else know. Once the calls were made, they went back inside and went to the gift shop. Dane insisted that he had to buy Julia her very first teddy bear.

“So what’s next?” Brian asked once they were on their way back upstairs. “Have you talked to Stacy yet?”

“Not yet. I figured I’d wait until after she was home with the baby for a few days. That’s bound to give me an advantage. Once she realizes how much work it’s going to be to do this alone, she’s sure to be more open to moving in with me and my parents,” Dane replied. “At least I hope she is. It’s going to be tough if I have to travel back and forth to Bisbee every day to see Julia, especially since I have to get a job to support her.”

“I wouldn’t open with that argument. Make sure you point out how convenient it would be for her to have your family around to help out. Besides, she’s going to have to go back to work eventually. How’s she planning on doing that without someone to watch the baby?”

“Trust me; I have all the arguments memorized. I don’t see how she’ll be able to say no. I wish I could afford to get a place with her so we could be on our own, but there’s no way I can work full time and go to college and I need college if I’m ever going to be able to support Julia properly. I’m just glad that my parents have been so cool about all this and offered to help.”

“Kind of makes you wonder why you pulled that stupid stunt back in November, huh?” Brian hated bringing up the suicide attempt on such a happy day, but he felt the need to remind his friend what a huge mistake he made trying to handle his problems on his own.

“No, I don’t wonder. I did it because I was an idiot. I’m not anymore. I’m a dad now,” Dane smiled as the elevator doors opened. “Now hurry up. I miss her already.”

Brian and Justin left once everyone else started showing up, after promising to be back the next day for another visit. Justin planned on waiting until they got on the interstate before asking Brian what was wrong, and was surprised a few minutes later when Brian pulled into the parking lot of a park. He didn’t ask any questions as they climbed out of the jeep. Brian took his hand as they made their way over to a park bench and sat down. Justin waited patiently until Brian was ready to talk.

“My parents live a few blocks away,” he began. “I used to come here all the time, usually to get away from them. The last time I was here was the night my father kicked me out. This is where Zan picked me up.”

Justin didn’t know what to say so he just squeezed Brian’s hand in support and waited for him to continue.

“You know, I was at the hospital thinking about Dane and Stacy and how lucky little Julia is. Her parents are so young, and her birth was obviously an accident, but yet she’s loved. She’s wanted despite the messed up circumstances. I don’t know what that feels like. I don’t remember my parents ever showing any kind of happiness over having children. All I ever was to them was a disappointment. Just a mouth they could hardly afford to feed and a body they couldn’t afford to clothe. They never should’ve had me. They never should’ve had either one of us.”

“Babe, why are you bringing this up now? I mean, I get that being in Bisbee is bringing back a lot of bad memories, but why come here and put yourself through reliving them like this? I thought you let it all go.”

“I did. Well, mostly I did. You’re right; coming back to Bisbee is screwing with my head. I don’t know why we’re here. As a kid, this park used to be my safe place. I used to sit over there scared to death and look down the street, hoping that my mom wasn’t coming to look for me. The longer I was allowed to stay out, the better off I was. I guess I just had to see if it looked any different. It’s not scary anymore.” Brian sighed. “Come on, let’s go home.”

Justin smiled warmly at Brian as they made their way back to the jeep. He thought about saying something, trying to come up with something meaningful to cheer Brian up, but he wasn’t sure he really needed to. The look on his boyfriend’s face had gone from sadness to acceptance. Their trip to the park wasn’t about dwelling on the past, but about remembering the past is over and the present is so much better; remembering that he wasn’t the scared little boy that used to find shelter in the park, but a man who is loved and doesn’t have to live in fear anymore. At that moment, Justin’s silent support was all Brian needed.

The next few weeks flew by in the blink of an eye, and as time moved on, Brian became more and more stressed about what he wanted to do with his life. By the beginning of April, with only two months left until graduation, he found himself sitting in Megan’s office, tapping his foot.

“Brian, what has you so agitated today? You’re normally very relaxed these days.”

Brian had to agree with her. His sessions with Megan were down to once a month, and usually just consisted of him telling her what was happening in his life. He contemplated stopping the sessions altogether, but a part of him wanted to hang on for awhile, just in case. Now he was glad he did. “I’m starting to freak out a bit. Graduation is only two months away, I have my acceptance letter from Arizona State, and I still have no idea what I want to do with my life. How am I supposed to pick a major if I have no idea what I want to do?”

Megan chuckled. “Relax, Brian. If that’s your biggest worry right now, you really have nothing to worry about. At least 50% of college freshmen begin college with their major undecided. You don’t have to rush. First year is usually spent taking the required classes anyway, such as English and History. Give yourself some time. It’ll come to you.”

“But it’s driving me crazy. All my friends know what their future is going to be. My teachers keep asking me and I feel stupid saying I don’t know.”

“Okay, well let’s see if we can find something that interests you. Have you thought about Journalism? Following in your brother’s footsteps? I know you’ve enjoyed working on the yearbook.”

“Yeah I have, but it’s not something I want to do for the rest of my life.”

“Okay, then let’s start at the obvious. Doctor, lawyer, accountant,” Megan suggested.


“How about following in my footsteps?” she asked with a smile.

“I don’t think so. I can’t even get my own head together. Helping others probably isn’t a good idea,” Brian laughed.

“How about computers? You could go into database development or programming. There can be big money there.”

“No, I like computers, but I wouldn’t want to be on one all day. I think I’d like to work with people.”

“People or children? What about becoming a teacher? You could help mold the minds of our youth,” Megan chuckled. “Does that sound like something you’d enjoy?”

“I’ve thought about it a little,” Brian sighed. “I’m just not sure if…I don’t know if it’s a good idea.”

“Brian, what’s going on in your head right now?” Megan asked as a sinking suspicion took over her.

“What do you mean?” Brian asked innocently.

“Look, Brian, are you really having trouble trying to decide what to do with your future, or are you more concerned with what you’re capable of doing with your future?” Megan gave him a moment to think about her question and then continued. “We’ve been over this before. You are an intelligent young man with a bright future ahead of you. Don’t listen to those voices of self doubt. We’re working on making them disappear, remember? Now again, what about becoming a teacher?”

Brian looked closely at Megan. It amazed him how much faith she had in him, knowing him the way she did. He tried to push away the memories their conversation was stirring up. “When I was twelve, I told my dad that I wanted to be a teacher. His exact words were…there’s not a school district in this world that would hire a moron like you…I never thought about it again.”

Megan sighed. She’d worked so hard with Brian, when he first started seeing her, and since he’d come back and as hard as she tried, she couldn’t get him to let go of all the hateful words his parents had fed him. “Brian, you’re not a moron. Your grades alone should tell you that. Your father said those things to make himself feel better about his own life, not because they were true. Not only do you have the brains to be a teacher, but I think you’d be very good at it. You have compassion and patience, two very important qualities in a teacher.” She only gave him a moment to think about what she’d said and then continued. “Look, I want you to do something for me. I want you to spend the next week thinking about this. Not about what your father said, but about you and how you think it would feel to be able to stand up at the front of a classroom and teach children what they need to know for the future. Talk to Chris and Zander and see what they think of your career choice. See what Justin thinks and then come back here and we’ll talk some more, okay? We’ll set up an appointment for next week so we can get this resolved and keep you from driving yourself crazy worrying about the future, okay?”

“Yeah, okay,” Brian agreed.

“Good, now how are things going at home? No word from Ryan?”

“No, although Mr. Baker did tell Chris that he’s doing intense therapy and that he thinks it’s helping. I don’t know about that. I’m just glad he’s gone.”

“I bet. And Chris and Zander, they’re still doing alright?” Megan inquired. She knew how much their relationship trouble affected Brian. For her client’s sake, she hoped they’d be able to move completely past it all and be happy.

“As far as I know. They seem to be happy,” Brian replied.

“And you and Justin? How are things with the two of you?”

“Wonderful.” Brian knew he broke out into a goofy smile. Ever since their trip, since making love, it seemed like they were even closer than before, which was saying a lot. “Things between us couldn’t be better. He turns eighteen this weekend. I’m throwing him a surprise party down at the river. He’s made a lot of friends at school so there’s going to be about thirty people there. I really want him to have a good time. He’s been a little off lately. Not with me, but he seems to have a lot on his mind. I know he’s a little nervous about heading back to Pittsburgh later this month and the anniversary of his parent’s death is coming up.”

“Has he talked to you about it?”

“No, not really. I know it’s still hard for him so I don’t push, but I can see how sad he is when he thinks about them. I try not to bring it up.”

“You know that’s not healthy, right? Keeping your feelings inside? Please, tell me you learned something in our time together,” Megan teased.

Brian laughed. “Yes, I know it’s not healthy, but I don’t want to push. He knows he can talk to me if he needs to.”

“I’m sure he does, but sometimes people need that push. Sometimes a person keeps it all inside because they don’t want to sound like they’re complaining. A gentle push is all they need to pour out all those bad feelings and talk about what’s bothering them. I’m not suggesting you harass him and insist that he talk. I’m just suggesting a gentle prodding to see if he opens up to you. We’ve talked about this before. I think Justin would benefit from therapy, but since he refuses to seek help, getting him to open up to you is the best we’ve got. Try not to let him hide how he’s feeling. He needs to talk about it.”

“I’ll do my best,” Brian promised.

“Good. So, what else has been going on?”

“Oh, my friend Dane became a father last month.”

“Oh right, I remember you telling me about him. He’s the ex-boyfriend who tried to kill himself,” Megan replied. “How’d everything go? The baby’s good?”

“She’s perfect,” Brian sighed. It was true. Little Julia was just awesome. “Dane convinced the mother to move herself and the baby into Dane’s parent’s house so they could help her. They converted the family room/game room in the basement into a mini apartment with everything but a kitchen. It’s perfect for the two of them and this way Dane gets to see his daughter every day. Stacy lives there rent free in place of child support so Dane can stay in school. He’s been accepted to the Art Institute in Tucson for Culinary Arts.”

“It sounds like they’ve got a good plan in place. I hope it works out for them,” Megan replied honestly. Brian had been devastated when he had come to her after his friend’s suicide attempt. It made him question his own sanity temporarily. She was glad that the young man worked through his issues so well. She became a psychologist because of her deep desire to help others. She hated hearing about people trying to take their own lives. “So now that you’ve seen how well your friend is adapting to fatherhood, have you given any thought to…”

“No,” Brian said, interrupting Megan before she could finish her question. “There’s no need to give it any thought. Julia is adorable and I love being an honorary uncle to her, but there’s no way I’m ever going to be a father. I’ve been telling you that for years. I’m not going to change my mind. Besides, I’m gay, remember?”

“If memory serves me correctly, Dane is gay too.”

“Yeah, but him getting Stacy pregnant was one of those really unusual circumstances. I’m not having sex with a woman, so there’s no chance of me getting anyone pregnant,” Brian insisted.

“Brian, you and I both know that with all the changes in the world, gay men having children is not unusual. There’s adoption and surrogacy. All you have to do is want it,” she pointed out. She wasn’t pushing for him to become a teenage parent like his friend, but she had found out during their first time around that Brian had convinced himself that he’d be a terrible father. She didn’t want him to make decisions on his future based on his past.

“But I don’t. Look, history repeats itself. It’s a part of nature. There’s no way I’m going to put any child through what I went through when I was growing up.”

“And you think that if you had a child, you’d become your father?”

“I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not…but I’m not willing to take the chance.”


“You know what? There’s only ten minutes left and I’m not feeling so good. Why don’t we just stop here for today? You asked me to think about becoming a teacher, and I will. Don’t ask me to contemplate ruining a child’s life. I won’t do it.”

After all their sessions, Megan knew when to push and when to back off. “Okay, we’ll drop the subject for now.” She reached for her appointment book. “Same time next week?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

On the drive home, Brian did everything he could to shake the bad mood that had settled over him with the talk about being a father, but he couldn’t seem to do it. When he was seeing Megan the first time around, one of their conversations about the future steered them onto the issue of being a parent and he’d been dumb enough to say that he wouldn’t even consider it because of his fears of becoming Jack Kinney. After that, Megan did her best to try and change his mind, but he refused to even think about it. He had forgotten about her desire to make him reconsider his views; otherwise he never would’ve mentioned Julia. The last thing he wanted was to have Megan on his case again.

When he got to the house and pulled in the driveway, he noticed that the SUV was missing, but Zander and Justin’s cars were there. He forced a smile on his face and climbed out of the jeep, determined to keep his bad mood to himself. They all still worried about him after one of his sessions, despite the fact that he’d been doing so much better.

As he walked into the house, he immediately noticed how quiet it was. A note hanging on the refrigerator told him that Chris and Zan were at a town meeting. Assuming that Justin was upstairs, Brian grabbed a can of coke and headed towards the stairs. The sound of laughter coming from the backyard stopped him on the first step. He quickly changed direction and headed out back. He was a little surprised at the jealousy that hit him when he spotted Matt and Justin sitting side by side with their legs dangling in the pool. As he started walking towards them, Justin looked up at him and smiled.

“Hey, you’re home.”

“Yeah, I’m home. Matt, what’re you doing here? And where’s your car? I didn’t see it out front,” Brian asked, trying to force down his irritation.

“Hello to you, too,” Matt laughed. “Steve was actually here with me, but he had to run an errand for his mother. I decided to hang here with Justin while he did what he had to do. We came looking for you, but obviously you weren’t home. Are you alright? You look a little…I don’t know. Off.”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just not feeling good. I’m going to go lie down,” Brian said and then turned on his heels.

“I don’t even get a kiss hello?” Justin asked.

“I really don’t feel good,” Brian called over his shoulder as he headed back to the house. He walked inside and went right upstairs to his room, stripping off his clothes as he went. He was down to his boxer briefs by the time he reached his bed and didn’t think twice about climbing in under the covers and curling up. He definitely wasn’t up to dealing with anyone. All he wanted to do was go to sleep. He could deal with everything else later.

Justin tried hard to focus on what Matt was saying, but his mind kept drifting to Brian and his weird behavior. He knew that his boyfriend sometimes seemed distant after a therapy session, but this time seemed different. He seemed more pissed off than distant. If he didn’t know better, Justin would swear that Brian seemed…jealous. That seeing him and Matt sitting and laughing together upset Brian in some way, but that was ridiculous. Brian couldn’t be jealous of Matt. Not only was Matt one of Brian’s closest friends, he was also 100% straight. There had to be another explanation, and Justin couldn’t wait until Steve came back and picked Matt up so that he could go have a little chat with Brian.

It took almost two hours before Justin was finally able to say goodbye to both Steve and Matt and go find Brian. He was a little concerned when he found him sound asleep. Brian wasn’t one of those teenagers who napped all afternoon because he had stayed up all night. Maybe he really didn’t feel good.

Justin walked quietly into Brian’s room and climbed on the bed, wrapping his arms around Brian’s sleeping form from behind. He was rewarded for his move when Brian stretched and turned on his back, forcing his eyes open to focus on Justin’s face.

“Hey,” Brian said, his voice gravely from sleep.

“Hey, are you alright?” Justin asked. “I was worried about you. So was Matt.”

“Yeah, sorry about that,” Brian said softly.

“Were you really not feeling good? Or was it something else? You seemed…kind of pissed off.”

“I don’t know what happened. I saw you guys sitting out there looking chummy and it set me off, and before you say anything, I know it’s stupid. You and Matt would never betray me like that,” Brian replied.

“You’re right, we wouldn’t. Why would you even have a moment of doubt?”

“I don’t know. I just have so much going on in my head and when I think about you and how happy I am with you…I guess sometimes I just…I feel like…”

“The other shoe’s going to drop?” Justin finished for him. “Babe, there’s no shoes dropping around here. Not when it comes to us. I love you and I’m not going anywhere. Please, tell me that you know that.”

“I do know that,” Brian replied. He leaned in and gave Justin a soft kiss before continuing. “It’s just that sometimes I can hear the sound of my father’s voice…I had a tough session with Megan and it’s playing with my head. I’m really sorry, though. Is Matt mad at me?”

“No, but he was a little hurt I think. Look Bri, I’m not sure why, but Matt and I seem to hit it off really well. As much as I love all your friends, he’s becoming a close friend. We hang out a lot when you’re working and we’re constantly texting each other. It’s almost like it was before my parents died when I had Jason and Sean by my side. Please tell me you’re going to be okay with that.”

“I am, I swear. I’m glad that you and Matt are getting close. He’s a good guy and you need someone you can talk to. If I ever get weird about it again, I give you permission to kick my ass, okay?”

Justin laughed. “Sounds good to me.” This time Justin was the one to lean in for a kiss, but when Brian tried to deepen it, Justin pulled back. “Listen, I know you don’t usually want to talk about what happened at Megan’s, but is there anything I can do? I think I’ve proven that I’m a great listener.”

“Actually there is something I want to talk about,” Brian said as he pushed himself up into a sitting position, leaning back against the headboard. “Do you think it’s ridiculous of me to consider becoming a teacher?”

Justin sat up, too, and then thought about the question. He’d known that Brian was having trouble deciding what to do with his future and had been getting frustrated. Justin had thrown out some suggestions, but teaching wasn’t one of them. He took a few moments and pictured Brian up in front of a class, teaching his students the finer parts of English, his best subject. A smile broke out on his face. “I think you’d be an awesome teacher.”

“Really?” Brian asked skeptically.

“Yeah, of course. Brian, you’re smart and fun, and definitely someone who’s able to get his point across. If I close my eyes, I can picture you standing in front of a room full of teenagers teaching them all about literature and composition. Maybe even teach them a little something about creative writing. You definitely take after your bother in that way, and if you don’t want to become a writer, I think teaching English would be an excellent second choice.”

Hearing Justin praise him made it almost believable. “Thanks. I think I needed to hear that from someone who knows me better than anyone. Megan suggested that I talk to you, Chris and Zan. My father once told me that only a moron would hire someone like me to teach,” Brian admitted.

“God, Brian, sometimes when I hear bits and pieces about your parents, I wonder how you and Chris ever managed to become as wonderful as you are. Your father was the moron, for not appreciating what great kids he had. Any school would be lucky to have you for a teacher and every kid that gets the pleasure of being your student will be even luckier.”

“I really love you, you know that?” Brian smiled.

“Well then it’s a good thing that I really love you, too, huh?” Justin countered before kissing Brian senseless, thankful that he was able to put a smile back on his boyfriend’s face.

End of part 46

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