Kevin & Justin
Peter Kamphuis (email@example.com)
25 April 2000
All the usual disclaimers apply: please stop reading if you are underage or homophobic. Please note that this is a work of fiction - nothing is being implied about the sexuality of any of the people portrayed below.
It's been a while, but I've had a lot of things happening lately. First and foremost, I've written two new stories, which some of you may have already read. If you haven't, then click on the following titles to read them. Please note that neither story deals with boy bands, so ignore them if that doesn't sound appealing.
The first story, Remembrance is set in the 'Star Trek: Voyager' universe. It's a C/P (Chakotay/Paris) story. Please, please, please, read the Author's Notes before reading it -- there's some important info there that will help you to understand what's happening in the story.
The second story, Real Life deals with the two actors who play the roles of Chakotay and Paris (Robert Beltran and Robert Duncan McNeil, respectively). It's set in 'our' universe, but, of course, has no bearing on their sexuality. <grin>
Feedback on either of those stories, or this one, is always appreciated.
The other reason that I've been away for so long is that I'm working on a homepage to host my stories. It's still in the development stages, so I won't post the URL for it just yet, but that will probably change by the next chapter of 'Kevin and Justin'. Just don't expect anything too fancy! :)
One small note about this chapter and the next one... it will make certain assumptions about concert venues and concert performances. And they'll probably be NOTHING like the real venue or stage show. So, please remember that this is a work of fiction -- it will deviate from real life on occasion, and probably by a lot!
Anyway, enough dribble... on to the story.
Justin finally gives into his mothers pleas and tells her who he is in love with. She's shocked to find out it's Kevin, and he's shocked that she knows who he is. She reassures him that she doesn't want to hurt Kevin, and he's relieved to hear it, because he feels that Kevin doesn't deserve any of the blame. They join his bandmates in the house and let them know that Lyn now knows everything.
The Backstreet Boys are still winging their way to Europe. They've settled down for the 'night', and are asleep. Soon, Kevin starts having a nightmare and wakes up; unintentionally waking Brian as well. Brian tries to comfort him and finds out that Kevin has been having this particular nightmare on a nightly basis, almost, since he 'found out' about JC and Justin.
Though Kevin is reluctant to tell him about it, he ends up giving in to Brian's pleas. He starts telling Brian about the nightmare, slowly getting upset as he goes along. By the time he has finished recounting it, he's sobbing unconsolably again. Brian, also crying in sympathy to his cousin's pain, tries to comfort him, knowing that they'll both cry themselves to sleep...
Kevin & Justin - Chapter 14
Note: It is several months later. The BSB guys are back in the States and close to ending their 'Millennium' tour. They've only got a handful of shows left on the schedule...
The intercom buzzer sounded.
The man sitting at the large wooden desk, leafing through a thick pile of documents, looked up at the interruption. On the wall behind him, covering a large portion of it, was an impressively detailed logo. It read: The Firm.
The man, whose name was proclaimed to be Michael by the elaborate nameplate on his desk, put down the sheet he was holding before reaching out to toggle the intercom on. "Yes, Karyl?"
"Mike, I've got Justin Timberlake on the phone for you. Do you want to take the call?"
"Yes thanks, Karyl. Please put him through."
He toggled the intercom back off and waited for the phone to ring, picking it up before it had a chance to finish ringing even once.
"Hi, Justin, it's Michael here. How are you?" he said into the receiver. He could almost hear the 'grin' on the other end.
"I'm great thanks, Mike. How are you?"
"Passably well, Justin, passably well. What can I do for you?"
Justin hesitated for a second before replying. "Uh, Mike? I've got a favour to ask."
"Sure, Just. What is it?"
"I want to get a backstage pass for the Backstreet Boys concert on the 26th. You know, the one in Lexington..."
"Umm... okay, Just," he replied, confusion showing on his face, though he kept it out of his voice. "I can arrange that for you. How many passes do you want? One for each of you?"
"No!" Justin said quickly, before recovering himself. "No, thanks, Mike. Just the one pass will do."
Michael paused as he considered Justin's request. There was something odd in Justin's voice, and in his request, too...
"Just, I don't mean to pry, but why have you personally called me to arrange this? Surely Lance could have done this for you, and done it much quicker and easier..."
"That's probably true, Mike, but I don't..." he hesitated once more before committing himself to the lie, "I don't want Lance and the guys to know. It's a surprise you see, and the more people who know, the harder it will be to keep it a secret from BSB."
"Oh, I see," Michael said, though he didn't. "Well, I promise not to say anything to Kevin or the guys when I next speak to them. Or Lance and the rest of your guys for that matter."
"Thanks Mike," Justin replied, feeling relieved.
"Not a problem, Justin. I'll send the pass to your house, is that okay?"
"That'll be perfect, Mike."
"Okay then, I guess I'll see you at the concert."
"Are you going to be there too?"
"Yeah," Michael replied. "I thought it would be a good idea to catch at least one of the shows. And now that the tour is close to finishing, I've only got a half-dozen shows to choose from. I thought that Lexington would be the best of the bunch. The only other obvious choice is Orlando, but that usually ends up being a three-ring-circus."
"Okay, well I guess I'll see you at the concert then. Oh, and thanks again for the pass, Mike."
"Not a problem, kiddo. See you later."
Michael slowly replaced the receiver in its cradle and wondered what had just happened? Why was Justin trying to keep this a secret from his own group, as well as BSB?
He toggled the intercom on, sighing as he put the matter into the back of his mind for later consideration.
"Karyl, can you please get a hold of a backstage pass for the BSB concert on the 26th?"
"Sure, Mike. Whom do you want me to send it to?"
"Can you just get it delivered to me, please? I'd like to send it off personally."
"Not a problem, Mike. I'll arrange it now."
Well, he was nothing if not honest. If Justin wanted to keep it hush-hush, he'd do his best to see to it.
November 26th, Lexington...
Brian watched in concern as Kevin made a complete hash of his sound check. Again.
He sighed for the hundredth time since they'd arrived at the Arena. He knew that Kevin was still getting over his months long depression, but in the past couple of days, as they neared the concert scheduled for their old 'hometown' of Lexington, Kevin had become more morose than ever.
When they had rolled into town that morning, Kevin had gone to see his mother; something he always did whenever he was back in Lexington. And although Brian didn't know what they had talked about, he thought it highly unlikely that they had discussed Kevin's sexuality or his broken heart. But, the one thing that he did know for certain, was that Kevin had come back from the visit even worse than before.
Brian could understand why: Kevin always felt guilty whenever he talked to his family. He felt like he was lying to them by not telling them that he was gay. But no matter how much guilt he felt for lying to them, his fear of rejection was far stronger.
Brian sighed again as he finally decided on his course of action. He walked over to Kevin, who was ready to head to the dressing room for dinner, and stopped him with a hand to the chest. He turned around and spotted Nick heading off in the direction of the dressing room.
Nick turned and saw them. "What?"
"Can you please let everyone know that Kevin and I will be a while? I need to discuss something with him."
Nick disappeared into the wings.
Kevin looked stunned. He had tried to speak, but had only managed, "Brian? What-?" before the conversation was over. He turned to regard his cousin impatiently. "What was that all about, Bri?"
Brian ignored him. "Follow me, Kev. I want to talk to you, but I don't want to do it this close to the crew."
He pulled his reluctant cousin along. He guided them off the stage and into the audience seating area. He was more than halfway down the rows of seats before he felt comfortable enough that their conversation would not be overheard from the stage.
"Sit down, Kev."
Kevin sat down as instructed, and looked up at his cousin. He had a bad feeling that he knew what Brian would want to talk about. He felt his anger starting to build; something which had become harder to control over the past couple of weeks. In fact, all his emotions were starting to slip through his tight control.
Brian sat down heavily, dreading what he was about to do, but determined to do it nonetheless. He just had to make his cousin see sense, or Kevin's health and sanity would quickly deteriorate beyond all control.
"Save it, Brian!" Kevin interrupted angrily. "I don't want to discuss this. I'm sick and tired of 'discussing' things with you. I just want to be left alone!"
Brian flushed in sudden heat, but brought his anger quickly under control. Kevin needed him to be cool-headed, even though right now Kevin was probably also wishing that he was six feet under.
"No, dammit, I won't 'save it'! We need to sort this out once and for all!" Brian said sternly, a hint of irritation colouring his voice. "You know I love you deeply, so I'm sure you can appreciate that I'm worried about you. I'm so worried in fact that I'm going crazy seeing you like this!"
Kevin didn't respond. He hung his head and sat there mutely, staring silently at his knees.
"Kev, I'm worried with good reason. Over the past couple of months, ever since we've stopped touring with 'N Sync, you've become a basket case! I know that you know this, because you've had to deal with it! You're the one who became depressed! You're the one who lost all that weight because you couldn't eat! And you're the one who, even now, wakes screaming from that nightmare night after night!"
Brian had to pause as his composure suddenly left him. Beside him, Kevin was quietly crying, paying no heed to where his tears were falling.
"Kevvy, I know you don't want to hear this, but..., you've been so lost and miserable these past few months that I'm seriously beginning to worry about your health! It was bad enough when we were touring with 'N Sync, and Justin was always around you. But since then..." Brian shook his head in concern.
Kevin remained mute, not giving Brian any indication that he was hearing him. His tears continued to flow unabated.
"Kevin," Brian said more resolutely, "the guys keep wondering what's wrong. And though I keep trying to reassure them that everything's okay, they're not buying it anymore. They're waking up to the fact that something is really troubling you. Not just something trivial, but something really big. You don't know how hard it was for me to keep your depression hidden from them! Especially A.J. and Nick." He paused again before committing himself to saying it. "I think it's time you 'came out'-"
Kevin's denial was immediate and vehement. Brian was stunned at the intensity and volume of Kevin's voice.
"No, Brian," Kevin said again, almost whispering this time. "I can't do that! It would kill me if the guys rejected me!" He buried his face in his hands and wept piteously.
"Boo," Brian said softly, rubbing his hand over Kevin's back, "you have to do this. For your own sanity, if for nothing else. You're going to crack otherwise, Kev."
Kevin didn't respond; his desolate weeping being the only sound that Brian could hear. He began to worry about him... "Kev, please say something."
Kevin looked up at him, his lined and weary face haunted by a pained expression that caused Brian's heart to constrict in pain.
"Oh, Boo," Brian said, gathering his cousin into a hug. He comforted his cousin for several long minutes before deciding to speak again.
"Kev, I don't want to pressure you, but I think this would do you a world of good. Don't you think it will be a relief to get this out in the open? You wouldn't need to worry about keeping it a secret from the guys anymore! That would be one less thing to worry about. I'm sure the guys will understand. In fact, I know they will. They love you so much, even when you come down hard on them -- on us. We love you, Boo. Nothing's gonna change that!"
Kevin finally capitulated. Everything Brian had said was true. Though he was scared to the depths of his soul that the guys would reject him, he couldn't go on the way he was. It would be a tremendous relief to just get this out in the open, regardless of the outcome...
He pulled out of the hug and simply nodded his head at Brian.
Brian looked back at him and smiled gently. "I know how scary this must be for you, Kev, but you really need to do this. You know that, don't you?"
"Yes, I know," Kevin replied softly.
"And more importantly," here Brian hesitated a bit, "you also need to 'come out' to your family."
Kevin went pale suddenly and expelled an almost silent, "No."
"Yes, Kevin, you have to! You need to do that more so than coming out to the guys."
Kevin shook his head in denial, his mind refusing to even consider it.
"You have to, Kev," Brian said urgently. "You're the most honest person I know! And yet, you can't be honest about this with your own family. That's gotta be hurting you so bad!"
Kevin began to cry softly, all over again.
Brian hugged him tight, trying to show him how much he loved and supported him.
"Kevin, you've got too much hurt inside you! Not just about this secret, but also about Justin and how you feel for him! I know that telling your family and the guys will be a major hurdle, but once it's done, you'll feel relieved. And then you can concentrate on dealing with your feelings for Justin.
"I don't know how you can bear it sometimes," Brian said softly, his eyes starting to overflow with tears. "Your love for him is still so strong! I can feel it even now. And I know how many tears you've spilled over him... it hurts me so much, every time I see you crying yourself to sleep. I've also heard how many times you've woken crying from that nightmare, and it scares me that you're facing that terror all alone."
Kevin's grip on Brian strengthened as he whispered, "Brian, it hurts so much! I- I- I sometimes think I'm going to die!"
Brian's heart shattered at Kevin's lament. He couldn't stop crying as he held his cousin in his arms, hearing his heart-breaking sobs come without pause. In the end, all he could do was to hold him tight, as Kevin cried out all the pain and misery into his shoulder.
Justin carefully looked around the backstage area and was relieved to see that none of the BSB guys were around.
Though he only had one real motive for being there, he couldn't help but think it would be fun to surprise them all just before curtain-up, as he had originally 'lied' to Mike. It would be priceless to see their faces just before they had to go onstage.
He was just about to head to the stage when he heard a sound that stopped him in his tracks. Someone was crying! And not in a gentle way. He could hear an anguish in the crying that struck a chord with him. Without knowing it, his eyes started to water in sympathy. Who could be hurting so much?
He walked out onto the stage and listened, his head cocked, trying to locate the source of the crying. It was difficult to trace, as it seemed to be omnipresent. No matter which way he turned his head, the sound didn't get any softer or any louder. The Arena's acoustics were not helping him - in fact, they were hindering him.
A movement, caught in the corner of his eye, provided him with the answer to his question. He turned to peer out into the Arena's audience seating and spotted Brian and Kevin. His surprise quickly turned to shock as he noticed they were crying and hugging each other. His heart immediately constricted as he stared at the tear-streaked expression of his angel, and realised that the anguished crying was coming from him!
'Why is Kevin crying? What's happened to make him this upset?'
His eyes started to water more heavily as he stood rooted to the spot, never taking his sight off the grief-stricken expression on Kevin's face. With each sob, he felt as if a knife had pierced his chest to stab his heart. The sharpness of the pain became so overwhelming that his legs gave out on him and he dropped to his knees. His vision became obscured as his tears flowed out of his eyes in a torrent.
His mind wailed in anguish as his soulmate's grief reduced him to raw emotions. 'What's happened to Boo?'
Kevin felt completely overwhelmed, light-headed, dizzy from lack of oxygen, and in danger of losing consciousness. He brought his emotions ruthlessly under control and suppressed his mind from dwelling on his problems. He disengaged himself from Brian's hug and waited for Brian to get himself together.
"Are you okay, Kev?" Brian asked in concern, once he'd settled down sufficiently. He did not like the way that Kevin had just 'put on the brakes' from his bout of crying. It seemed so unhealthy and unnatural. Normal people just didn't 'turn on' and 'turn off' their emotions at a flick of a switch!
"Yeah, I'm fine. I just don't want to cry anymore. I'm sick of crying all the time! So, I'm going to make a start on getting my life back to normal." 'Or as normal as it will ever be...' he thought.
"What do you mean?"
"I'm going to go see Mom and tell her. I'm also gonna tell the guys, but I'll have to do that later. If I have any hope of getting back here before the concert, I'll have to leave now."
Brian understood. Kevin wouldn't have any time after the concert to see his mother, as they'd have to board the tour bus almost immediately after the concert finished. So his only option would be to go see her now.
"Do you want me to come along?" he asked.
"No. It'd be best if you stayed here. Can you please cover for me until I get back?"
"Sure, Kev. No problem."
Brian looked into the determined gaze of his cousin and felt a slight lifting of his worry. He knew that Kevin was not into theatrics or issuing of empty promises. Once he'd said he would do something, it would be done.
Before he could say anything else, the sound of running feet interrupted them.
Justin felt a hand grasp his shoulder and looked up. Standing over him, with an extremely concerned expression on his face, was one of the stage hands.
"Are you okay, buddy?" the man asked, looking down into the tear-streaked face of the teenager.
Justin abruptly stopped crying as he became aware of his surroundings once again. He wiped his eyes and looked back out into the audience seating. He saw that Kevin and Brian were now talking -- they had stopped crying.
He stood and sprinted offstage in one quick motion. He just had to find out what had caused Kevin to cry like that!
The stage hand followed his progress to the cousins and then shook his head. He didn't know what had caused the youngster to cry, but he suspected it was something to do with the sobbing coming from Kevin. Like the rest of the crew, he couldn't help but witness Kevin's breakdown. And, also like the rest of the crew, he couldn't help but feel his heart respond to the tortured anguish in the crying...
He turned and went back to work, trying to concentrate on what he was supposed to be doing, but not succeeding much.
Brian and Kevin looked up at the sound of running feet. Both were shocked to see Justin approaching them.
Kevin, having so recently resolved to avoid crying anymore, felt his emotions spill over as his angel came racing toward him. He couldn't deal with this. Not Justin! Not now! He was still feeling too fragile, too raw, to handle this on top of everything else.
He barely saw the glimmering film of moisture in Justin's eyes before his heart clenched in renewed pain, and he stood up and ran past the surprised duo.
Brian stood as he fled.
Brian and Justin shouted in unison. Both their voices showing the concern they felt for him.
"What the hell happened, Brian?" Justin asked in worry. "Why was Kevin crying like that?" Though he was speaking to Brian, his eyes never left Kevin's retreating form.
"Justin... I can't tell you."
"The hell you can't!" snarled Justin, turning to face him in anger. "What's going on? I've never seen any living soul cry in anguish like that before, let alone Kevin! He's in so much pain..." Justin choked on the final word.
"Justin, forget it. Please?" Brian said, hoping to dissuade the youngster from getting involved. Before his words had died, Justin had taken off after Kevin. "Justin! Wait!"
He threw his hands into the air as he vehemently exclaimed, "Shit!" Then turning back to face the stage, he started walking back. He had to do some fast and furious thinking, as he suspected the crew would have already disseminated the scene back to the guys...
But try as he might, he couldn't concentrate. His thoughts kept returning to what Justin's appearance would mean for Kevin?
Kevin had almost reached the doors leading to the Arena's foyer when he baulked. He couldn't go out there! There were too many people out there who weren't part of the crew - their 'extended family'. It was just too public to risk going out there, even if he desperately wanted to get away from Justin.
Left with no options, he slumped against the door and slid gracelessly to the floor.
'I can't do this,' he thought miserably. 'I can't face him yet! I'm not ready to deal with his questions or... my feelings for him.'
He hadn't started crying before, though it had taken an immense effort of will on his part to keep the tears at bay. But, now that Justin was rapidly closing in on him, he knew he was a hair's breadth away from losing control again.
'No!' he ruthlessly thought. 'No! No! No! I don't care what I feel for him! He's got someone else, so my feelings don't count. I'm not going to hurt him! He's my friend and he's concerned for me. So I'll ease his worry - I'll make sure that he knows that I'm okay, and that he shouldn't worry!'
He composed his features as Justin rushed up to him.
"Kevin, are you okay? What's wrong? Why were you crying" Justin asked, the concern in his voice almost undoing Kevin's resolve.
"I'm fine, Justin. Really."
"Bull! Why did you take off then?" Justin asked, unconvinced.
"I was just surprised to see you and didn't want you to see me like this."
"But why? And why were you crying?" Justin asked, as he crouched down beside Kevin and reached out to grab his shoulder.
Kevin struggled to keep his body from betraying him at Justin's touch. "It's nothing, Justin. Really! I just get overly emotional whenever I'm in Lexington. I keep thinking of my dad and it just saddens me."
"Oh, Boo, I'm so sorry... I didn't realise," Justin said.
Kevin, once again, had to ruthlessly quash his emotions at Justin's compassion-filled voice.
"It's okay, Justin. It's just something I need to get through. I go through the same thing every time we perform here." He hated himself for lying to his angel, but he had to consider Justin's well-being before his own. If lying would ease Justin's worry about him, then so be it!
He stood up, followed quickly by Justin.
"Thanks for thinking of me Justin, but I'll be fine now."
"Oh, Boo," said Justin, grabbing him tight in an embrace. He hoped that Kevin could feel his love, respect and admiration.
Kevin, taken by surprise with the quickness of the hug, froze solid. Then without thinking, his body relaxed as he surrendered himself into the hug.
He felt whole for the first time in his life.
The warning bells in his mind pulled him back to reality. He couldn't do this! It would be too hurtful to both of them. And it wouldn't be fair to JC.
He pulled out of the hug and smiled weakly at Justin. His resolve was back - he was going to think of Justin only as a very good friend.
He suddenly remembered what he was supposed to be doing, and realised that he was rapidly running out of time. He glanced at his watch, confirming his suspicion that he would be late getting back if he didn't leave immediately. He looked back up into the curious expression of his sweetheart.
"Justin, please forgive me, but I need to go. Now! I've got an errand to run and I'm already late. Will you be around for a while? I'd like to see you later, if you're still here?"
"Sure, Boo. I came to see the show, so I'll be here at least until you guys finish."
"That's great. Well, I'll see you when I get back then."
"Okay, Boo. Take care! -"
Justin felt ice run through his veins, and closed his gaping mouth sharply. He had almost said: "I love you!" What was he doing? What was he thinking?! He had to be more careful!
"You too, Just. See you soon."
Justin sighed a silent breath of relief. Kevin seemed to have missed the small slip -- thank God!
Kevin started running towards the stage, and the limo waiting outside the back entrance of the Arena, turning to wave once at the unmoving figure of his angel.
Justin slowly walked back towards the stage. Without a conscious thought, he stopped and sat down in the nearest seat. He had to think!
He idly noticed that he was sitting in the same seat that Brian had been sitting in just before. His head automatically swung around to look at the seat his Boo had sat in. Of it's own accord, his right hand reached across and gently caressed the material of the seat.
'Oh, Boo,' he thought, his eyes misting over with the ache in his heart. 'Why won't you let me help you? Why won't you let me ease your pain? Why won't you love me the way I love you?'
He closed his eyes as he recalled the anguish in Kevin's crying. Kevin was hurting more than ever before! What had happened to make him so sad? So heart-broken? It couldn't just be because he was reminded of his father... could it?
The loud chorus, coming from the direction of the stage, pulled him back to his senses. He blinked away his tears as he turned and saw the Backstreet Boys rushing towards him. He hastily wiped his eyes dry as they converged on him.
Brian hung back from the enthusiastic greetings, and the swapping of recent history. He couldn't help but stare at Justin, wondering what had happened between him and Kevin...
He became aware that Justin was staring back at him. He blinked, smiled weakly at Justin, and nodded his head. Justin did the same. The others paid no attention to their odd behaviour.
"Hey Just, seeing that you're here alone, do you want to come back to the hotel with us? We can hang out for an hour or so and relax. Maybe play a bit of Nintendo! What do ya say? Do you wanna come?" Nick asked, almost gushing in his excitement.
"Sure, Nicky," Justin replied, with a crooked smile. As expected, Nick instantly frowned, and Justin and the others laughed at his change of expression.
"Okay then, let's go!" Howie exclaimed.
"Umm, I think Kevin took the limo for his errand," Justin said, trying to be helpful. He immediately noticed the surprise on their faces - with the exception of Brian's. Brian's face narrowed slightly in anger before it became resigned.
Brian cursed inwardly. Why had Justin said that? It was entirely the wrong thing to say!
A.J. and Howie exchanged glances before they turned to face Justin again.
"What errand is that, Just?" A.J. asked.
"I don't know, A.J. He didn't say. He just said that he was running late and he had to get going..." Justin could sense that he was getting himself into hotter water with each word. Brian's expression was becoming more closed by the second.
"Brian? Do you know anything about this 'errand'?" A.J. asked, turning to face him.
Brian composed his features and lied. "No, Alex, I don't."
He could see A.J. rejecting his answer as being unsatisfactory. But he wasn't in the mood to argue anymore. Hopefully this would all be over before the night was through. All he had to do was to stall them for the next couple of hours.
"Really, A.J. I don't know where Kevin has gone. And I'm not his keeper! If you want to know, either call him on his cell phone, or ask him when he gets back."
A.J. stared at him for several long seconds before acquiescing. He wouldn't say anything right now, but he was at the end of his patience with Kevin's and Brian's cover-ups of Kevin's problem - whatever it was! He resolved to confront Kevin as soon as he got back from his 'errand'.
Kevin felt slightly nauseous and had a hard time keeping his legs from buckling, as he pushed the doorbell for the second time that day.
He thought back to his visit earlier that day, when they had first arrived in Lexington. His mother and his next-older brother, Jerald, had been so happy to see him after such a long absence. Now, several hours later, he was about to reveal something that might cause them great sorrow or pain.
The sudden image that popped into his mind, of seeing the rejection in their eyes, chilled him to his bones. He couldn't do this! At least not with both of them there. It would be too hard...
The sound of approaching feet brought his attention back to the present. The door opened to reveal his brother, Jerald.
"Hey, Kev. What're you doing here, bro? Aren't you supposed to be getting ready for the concert?"
"Hi, Jer. Yeah, I've gotta head back to the Arena shortly, but I need to speak to Mom first. Is she around?" he asked nervously, having made up his mind.
"Yeah, I'll go get her. Come in. No need for you to stand out on the porch like a stranger!"
"Thanks, bro. Could I ask a favour though, before you head off?"
Jerald noticed the determined look -- and something else, which he couldn't quite place -- on Kevin's face and responded accordingly. "Sure, Kevin. What is it?"
"Umm, I need to speak to Mom privately. Do you think you could make yourself scarce for half an hour or so?"
Jerald considered the request for a moment. He knew that there was something definitely wrong and though he wanted to be there to help out in any way that he could, he would do anything his younger, and favourite, brother asked of him. Besides, something told him it would be best to leave Kevin and their mother alone, in any case.
"Sure, Kev. I'll go find Ma and then head out to the mall. I'll see you later at the concert."
Kevin smiled weakly at his brother, and reached over to gratefully squeeze his shoulder. Jerald smiled back and then disappeared to find their mother.
Kevin knew that he'd have to tell both his brothers, and his oldest brother's wife as well, but he couldn't face telling all of them, including his mother, at the same time. He knew he was being a coward, but he couldn't face the thought of being rejected by all of them. It would hurt him badly enough if even one of them rejected him.
He knew he was taking a big chance by telling his mother first. After all, if Ann took the news badly, she'd most likely disown him and tell his brothers and sister-in-law to not go anywhere near him again. Though it wasn't something he wanted to contemplate, he knew he had to prepare himself for that possibility.
He could hear a car engine fire up and knew that Jerald was making himself scarce. Which meant that his mother wasn't too far away.
A short while later Ann appeared and smiled at her son. Her smile faltered as she saw how apprehensive he looked. "Kevin? Sweetheart, is there something wrong?"
Kevin tried to smile, to reassure her, but couldn't quite manage it. He found himself continually swallowing and trembling slightly. Before he could lose his nerve, he said, "Mom, can we please sit down? There's something I need to tell you."
Ann nodded, confusion showing on her face, as she reached out to grab Kevin's arm to guide him to the sofa. As soon as she touched him, Kevin froze solid.
Ann dropped her hand to her side and turned to face Kevin.
"Kevin, honey... You're scaring me. What's wrong?"
Kevin forced himself to concentrate and walked past her to sit down on the sofa. He patted the sofa cushion next to his, to indicate that she should sit down as well.
"Mom," he began. But he couldn't go on, because as soon as he looked into her eyes he started crying.
"Kevin? What's the matter? Why are you crying, Baby? Please Kevy, tell me why you're so upset?" Ann reached over and pulled Kevin into a tight embrace, feeling tears spill out of her eyes at the sobbing coming from her son. "Shhhhhhh... there, there, Baby. Everything's going to be alright. Nothing can hurt you while I'm here, sweetheart."
Kevin managed to pull himself free from her embrace. He had to do this, and he had to do it fast. Keeping his eyes lowered, he said, "Mom, I'm... gay."
Absolute silence met his announcement. Risking a glance at her, he noticed a pained look in her eyes. He also noticed that her head was shaking back and forth imperceptibly.
"Did you hear what I said, Mom?" he asked her quietly, the tremor in his voice still present.
"Uh..." she began to say, still shocked at the announcement.
Kevin's heart sank as she got up and walked slightly away from him. She had her back to him, and he couldn't help but think that she had subconsciously given him the answer that he had been dreading. His tears started flowing again, as he watched her standing there, her head starting to shake back and forth more rapidly.
"No!" The exclamation startled her as much as it startled him. "There is no way you're-," she couldn't bring herself to say the word. "No. You're not. You're perfectly normal!" She turned around to face her son, ignoring the dejected state he was in. She didn't notice his wince or the sinking of his heart at her statement.
"Kevin, you don't know what you're saying. Honey, you can't be.... You're just confused. That's all."
"Mom," Kevin began gently, finally resigned to see it through, "I'm gay. That's all there is to it. I've been gay all my life. It's just who I am." Kevin started crying again. It had all gone so wrong! She couldn't accept him for who he really was.
"No, it isn't!" she cried out. Then she seemed to jump to a wild conclusion, as her religious beliefs cut in. "Who did this to you?" she demanded as she took a step closer to him.
Wiping away the tears, Kevin responded, "No one has done this to me. I've always been this way. Nothing has changed -- at least for me. No one has 'forced' me to be this way - I just am!"
"I won't believe it for a moment... No! Someone has turned you... turned you into..."
"Mom," Kevin started, then sighed. "What's the point? I knew you wouldn't understand. I should have remembered what Dad said and ignored Brian..."
"What?" Ann exclaimed in a startled voice. "What do your father and Brian have to do with this?"
"Brian is the only other person who knows I'm gay," he said, noticing her wince at the use of the 'g' word. "He found out by himself. I didn't tell him. He's also the one who kept urging me to tell you."
Ann digested this and then asked, "And your father...?"
Kevin had run out of tears by now and told her in a resigned voice, "Dad was the only person I 'came out' to, before you, and he told me that I should wait to tell you until after I had found my... partner."
Ann remained silent, digesting this additional piece of news. Finally, she asked, "Why?"
Kevin looked up at her. He realised that she didn't hate him, but at the same time she hadn't accepted him fully. Bringing his attention back to her he said, "He wanted me to have someone who could comfort me in case you rejected me."
"I'm not going to reject you! You're still my son, Kevin, and I love you dearly. But I cannot pretend that I understand what you've told me, and I don't think I can accept it!"
"I understand, Mom. I guess I'd better get going, the concert will start shortly. Are any of you coming tonight?" He could hardly believe that he was acting so calm, and talking as if nothing had happened. 'It must be shock,' he thought to himself.
"No. I need to think a bit more about what you've told me. If your brothers want to go, I'm sure they'll manage to get out there by themselves."
Kevin rose and started to walk to the door. As he passed her, he stopped to hug her. At first she didn't respond. When she finally returned the pressure in the hug, he knew it wasn't the same way that she usually did it. He walked out of the house without looking back, tears starting to form in his eyes once again. 'She didn't even say good bye!'
Ann watched him go, knowing that he was hurting deeply, and that she was part of the reason, but unable, or unwilling, to help him.
End - Chapter 14
To be continued...