It wasn’t that he did not enjoy Nick’s company, he did. It was that Nick was nagging him about a lot of things and Brian preferred to be independent. He didn’t like Nick meddling even though he had good intentions.
“For the hundredth time, Nick please drop it. I told you, I don’t need to go to the damn doctor. I am probably just getting a cold.” Brian hissed when they came off the elevator together and Nick heard Brian sniffling. Brian rolled his eyes and thought it felt like he had two girlfriends because of how smothering Nick had been that day. Brian liked fooling around with Nick but that was the extent of their...well whatever it was. Brian didn’t really want to call it anything because he felt like the word relationship didn’t cover it at all. They had sex once in a while and mostly cuddled in bed or kissed, to him it wasn’t anything serious and he wasn’t sure where it would go.
Or if he wanted it to continue.
“What’s going on with you and Nick?” Kevin asked after he observed them bickering in the hall on the way down to their rooms.
“Oh, hey. Nothing really. Nick’s just bugging me about my cold, that’s all.” Brian said, waving it off.
“He is just worried because of the surgery, I guess. I told him to drop it. Leighanne is coming tonight and I don’t want her to join him in nagging at me.”
“Leighanne’s coming? Did you tell Nick she was coming for your birthday?” Kevin asked suddenly, raising an eyebrow as they stopped outside of Brian and Nick’s room.
“Why would I need to tell Nick she was coming?” Brian asked as he turned around to face his cousin. Kevin seemed to be holding his cool but he could tell that he was hiding something from him.
“I don’t know,” Kevin shrugged.
“I don’t believe you.”
“Cuz, whatever is going on with you and Nick isn’t my business….”
Brian blinked at him, his temper rising. It was in that moment that he had figured out what Nick had done. He had told Kevin about them messing around, or confided in him that he was gay and Kevin was now assuming. Either way, Brian was pissed off. Kevin thought quickly and they ducked into his room before anyone else heard the rest of the conversation.
“First of all, there is nothing going on with me and Nick.” Brian protested. Kevin was silent, allowing Brian to speak because he was clearly upset and agitated as he paced back and forth across the room.
“Look, please don’t be mad at Nick. This is my fault.” Kevin assured him.
“How is it your fault, he is the one telling people lies about me.” Brian said, even though he knew he was just lying to himself. He was mad because someone else knew and would treat him differently. This was not what he wanted. He wanted to keep everything a secret until he figured out what his feelings were and what was between him and Nick. It was obvious that it was more than friendship but he couldn’t define that just yet. Nick had just ruined everything.
“What was the lie? He confided in me Brian, it’s okay if you are gay. I accept you.”
Kevin stared at him skeptically and this made Brian even more flustered. He sighed in frustration and ran a hand through his hair, groaning. Suddenly it all came spilling out.
“I don’t know what to do, Kevin. Nick told me on his birthday last year that he was gay. He told me how he was feeling different and then I realized I felt different too and I had these feelings that I couldn’t explain. He has me all confused. I’ve been keeping this secret of his for a whole year and then last summer...last summer he and I- well, we..” Brian stammered, his face turning red.
Kevin sat there silently, listening and nodding. It was pretty much what Nick had told him except Nick was more accepting than Brian was. Brian was afraid. He was terrified that anyone would find out and judge him.
“Okay, fine. We had sex too. A couple times but it’s nothing serious.”
“I would say you have a problem. You might not think any of this is serious but to those two people, this is not a game. You need to be honest with three people before anything else happens because you put yourself in this situation. Only you can get yourself out of it. I want to help you and I want to help Nick, but you need to talk this out. I feel like he’s been hesitant to tell you things because you are so stressed over the surgery and the lawsuit that he didn’t want to burden you. Nick is scared just like you are but he’s better at hiding it and he just wants you to be honest.”
Brian licked his lips and sighed again.
“What three people?”
“Well for one, you’re cheating on Leighanne with Nick. Two, Nick is not comfortable helping you cheat on her with him. He wants you to be honest with her and especially him. He’s frustrated because he doesn’t know what to do or how you feel.” Kevin explained. Brian didn’t say anything, he just nodded the whole time as his cousin spoke.
“So who’s the third person?”
Kevin raised an eyebrow and smirked. “Do I need to spell it out for you?”
Brian considered this for a few moments. How stupid he had been. It was then that he realized what Nick had been doing. He’d been sparing him more anxiety by keeping quiet. Brian felt horrible. Yet he also felt angry because Nick had told their secret without his consent so he was conflicted.
“Nick told you all that?”
“In not so many words, yes. He has been holding it all in for months and I guess he finally felt comfortable enough to come and tell me what’s been bothering him. I think you and him really need to talk, because someone is going to be hurt in this equation.” Kevin said. Brian kind of felt hurt that Nick hadn’t told him any of this during their nightly talks before bed. He always made a point to allow Nick a chance to speak and he never took it but he never thought to question why.
“Why couldn’t he just tell me that then? We literally talk every night.”
“Like I said, maybe he feels you’re under enough stress. He’s worried about you and quite frankly all of us are. You are so moody sometimes that most of us back off. That’s why Nick pesters you, because you won’t talk to anyone else about what is bothering you. You and Nick are more alike than you realize. He does the same thing to us too.”
Thinking about what Kevin had said, Brian went to his and Nick’s room and saw Nick playing his Game Boy.
“I got a bone to pick with you.”
Nick set the game down and watched him carefully, noticing the anger in Brian’s voice when he slammed the door shut.
“Why did you think it was okay to tell Kevin about us? That I’m gay? Nick, I’m not ready to tell anyone yet-“
“Hey, don’t yell at me.” Nick interrupted. He hid his smile because Brian had just said he was gay, something he hadn’t done before.
“I’m not fucking yelling at you. I am still figuring things out. Now I got Kevin up my ass on top of everything else and you just made things worse. How are we going to keep this a secret, Nick?” Brian snapped, his face growing redder.
“You just said you are gay. So are you, or aren’t you?”
Brian wanted to punch him in the face but he was right. He had said it without realizing.
“I don’t know, Nick. I’m still confused. I don’t even know what is going on between you and me because I don’t know how to define it.”
Brian sat at the end of the bed and Nick sat up with his legs crossed. They were quiet for a few minutes.
“I really like you, Brian. I like you a lot but Leighanne is also my friend and you owe it to her to tell her the truth. If you don’t want to be with me, I understand but at least tell her.” Nick said softly. Brian felt horrible at that moment because he knew he was stringing Nick along and here he was, putting his feelings aside for him constantly to make sure someone else was happy. Nick didn’t even care if he himself was or not.
“Nick, what have I done to deserve you? Because I don’t think I do. You’re so patient and I’m being an asshole.” Brian chuckled. Nick smiled at him, getting up on his knees to crawl across the bed to where Brian was sitting and kissed him on the lips.
“At least you admit it. You know, you’re kinda cute when you’re angry.” Nick whispered, his hair falling in his eyes as he laughed. Brian pushed his hair back and kissed him back, smiling.
“Maybe I can give you your birthday present if you still want it.” Nick whispered soothingly in his ear. Brian chuckled and they started kissing again as if they’d never fought in the first place.
It was unfortunate for the two of them that they did not expect what would happen next.