“You can’t tell anyone you’re gay. It will change everything. Just pretend you’re like the rest of us until you’re ready to say something.”
The rest of them? What the hell did that mean? Nothing made sense anymore, and it was then that Nick figured it out. He even let out a little gasp to himself as he looked at the closed bathroom door, the sound of Brian singing in the shower very faintly drifting between the cracks.
“No fucking way.” Nick whispered to himself, bewildered.
It was almost too good to be true. No wonder Brian threw himself in the relationship so fast with Leighanne. No wonder he pushed him away and acted weird, asking a bunch of questions to cover for himself. No wonder he didn’t love her. It was so obvious that Nick didn’t know how he hadn’t thought of this any sooner. He decided to pull out his Game Boy and play Tetris while he waited for Brian to finish showering and had to hold himself from bursting in the room to tell him that he had figured it all out because he knew he wouldn’t have wanted things to go down that way.
Neither of them would have wanted it that way. So Nick decided to wait and let Brian tell him himself why he’d been acting so strange.
The shower in the other room shut off and a while later, Brian reappeared in the room with his boxers on and a t shirt. Nick laid in bed playing his Game Boy and trying to beat the current level of Tetris he was on.
“You okay?” Brian asked, noticing the dead silence. Nick barely glanced up at him, still playing his game. He didn’t answer.
“All right, then. I’m ready to go to sleep if you are, I’m gonna turn the lights out.”
Nick shut off his game and rolled the opposite way away from Brian, leaving him confused at the sudden silence when they’d been so chatty all evening.
They both had a pretty restful sleep but in the morning, Nick was surprised to find Brian next to him with his head buried in his shoulder, breathing softly. Nick remembered a time long ago when they used to sleep like this on the tour bus...a few years ago when it was their first time on the road. Nick was homesick and couldn’t sleep so Brian would lay with him until he finally managed to doze off, but more often than not Nick would wake up to find him next to him still. Feeling his heartbeat was comforting to him. He smiled and put his head back on the pillow, allowing himself to drift off again.
The second time he woke up, Brian was awake and dressed already.
Nick yawned and sat up in bed, flattening his hair on his head because it was sticking up in all directions.
“You’re up already?”
“Yeah, I was gonna ask if you wanted to go down to the beach but I let you sleep in some. We can still go down there, I figured you would like to do some surfing or play volleyball.” Brian suggested, chuckling as he watched Nick try to fix his hair.
“Surfing sounds cool.”
The two of them made their way down to the beach which was not a long walk once they got their blanket and umbrella together from the truck. Nick had brought some things from his house because his family had them already, which Brian was thankful they were allowed to use them. Once they set it all up, Nick took out his board and went out in the water while Brian watched. Brian didn’t know how to surf so he observed. It was not very crowded which was surprising because it was a holiday weekend, but it was also very hot outside so Brian figured that most people stayed home and barbecued.
“Come on, Brian! The water is great out here!” Nick called once he’d paddled out some. Brian waved back and laughed. Sitting on the board and waiting for the right wave, Nick smiled as he stared back at Brian and thought about everything that was happening.
That night they had dinner out on the pier at the restaurant overlooking the water, listening to the waves crash as they sipped at their sodas and ate burgers followed by a delicious key lime pie. They moved to another part of the beach to watch the sunset before fireworks show happening that night and the whole time, Brian thought about letting Nick know he was possibly interested in him but it never seemed to come up.
“You okay?” Nick asked suddenly as they sat in the sand on the blanket they brought with them earlier in the day. They were both full from dinner and Nick couldn’t wait to go to bed because he was tired.
“Just thinking.” Brian said, looking up at the darkening sky. The sky was full of oranges and reds, the sun dipping just below the horizon.
“Can I ask you a question, though? Why did you really bring me here this weekend?”
After asking the question Nick looked him right in the eye, eager for the answer that Brian had been avoiding giving him for two days.
“I told you, I wanted to spend time with you. Why isn’t that a good enough answer for you? There’s literally no other reason than that. I wanted to hang out with you and make up for what happened at the hotel with Leighanne. I feel really bad about all that and you were so upset with me that it was killing me. Okay?”
“Look, I’m only 17 but I can see right through that. I think there’s something else and you’re just afraid of me. Why are you afraid? Are you afraid of me because you think I’m going to turn you gay or something?” Nick demanded. Brian had kind of forgotten how young Nick was in that moment because he was acting so wise. This was exactly why Brian was covering. He didn’t know what he wanted or who he was anymore and it terrified him. He could feel his heart racing as he tried to think of a lie. Their faces were pretty close at this point, and Nick could hear him begin to be uncomfortable just by the rhythm of his breathing.
“I’m not trying to freak you out or anything, I just wanted to know. I’m sorry, Brian. Please don’t get upset.” Nick whispered, moving to hug him. Brian felt himself calm down and steadied himself. They parted and stared at each other again.
“I’m sorry, Nick. I don’t know. I just wanted to spend some time with you.” Brian apologized again softly, looking into his eyes again. If he just kissed him now and got it over with, maybe things would start making sense. All he had to do was lean in….
The two of them did lean in and Brian closed his eyes, waiting for the kiss to happen but it was interrupted by the start of the fireworks. A loud bang startled them, bright blue and red sparks appearing in the sky. When Brian opened his eyes he saw how disappointed Nick looked, and he knew deep down he’d hurt him again. The truth was, he wasn’t really sure what he wanted. He still liked Leighanne and couldn’t hurt her. Brian looked up at the fireworks as he and Nick sat on the beach in silence, the bright colors flashing in front of them as he thought of what he was going to do.
Brian knew he would have to make a choice and it was not going to be easy. He wanted Leighanne, but now he wasn’t sure. She was easy to get and the safe option but possibly pursuing Nick had seemed exciting and he’d definitely blown his chances of that happening.
He figured he would call her on Monday after getting home to Kentucky, and maybe things would be more clear then.