Bryan didn’t know what he would find when he returned home, but he hadn’t expected the house to be empty. Even though he hadn’t told them he was coming, surely somebody must be home…someone was always home. Maybe it was for the best though, since he wasn’t sure how he could face them all again. It had been a year since he had been sent away. A year since he had seen his parents, his family, his friends. He hadn’t expected things to stay the same…why should they when even he was changed?
He thought about those changes as he looked around the living room. It didn’t feel like home anymore to him, and that made him sad. He was still angry that they had sent him away to that place…and he wondered now that he was back if they could love him again. Would he be the son they wanted him to be? Now that he wasn’t confused…now that he knew who he had to be.
Now that he was straight.
Would his mom be able to look at him with pride again? Would Thomas still think of him as a son…or would he believe that he was turning into Marshall more and more every day? There was so much at stake here, so much to think about. So much that he didn’t like about himself now. He felt more confused than he did when he was…
“Oh, I didn’t know anybody was here.”
The voice caught him off guard, and jarred him out of his thoughts. He turned to see who had spoken and was momentarily spellbound by the most amazing pair of blue eyes he had ever seen. He winced as a sharp pain shot up his groin and he remembered the last time he had been captivated by a pair of blue eyes. That experience wasn’t exactly what he would call pleasant. Just thinking about that made him wince again and he snapped himself back into reality.
“Uh…hi?” he said as he approached the stranger warily. “Who are you?”
“You must be Bryan,” the blue eyed stranger said with a smile. “I’ve heard so much about you, and I’m glad to finally meet you. I’m Jeff by the way. Jeff Burton…I am an intern at the local television station.”
“Oh,” Bryan replied his head spinning as he shook the other man’s hand. So his parents had taken in a boarder? Someone to replace him. *Stop it Dobbs,* he berated himself. *A real man is not insecure. A real man knows who he is and what he wants and he doesn’t let petty things bother him.*
Bryan knew what he had to do. He couldn’t be the new him unless he closed himself off emotionally. He had to be cold and cool…he needed to be ruthless with his emotions, withdrawn, aloof. That was what they had taught him. What he had been feeling before was all wrong, he had been confused. He liked girls not guys, but somehow his friendship with Kevin had made things unclear. He was better now, he would be better…
“Your parents will be back soon,” Jeff’s voice once again drew him out of his thoughts. He frowned, how much of the conversation had he missed? Jeff wasn’t beside him anymore. Instead he was picking up the luggage and heading for the stairs. “I’ll just take these to your room for you. You must be exhausted.”
He was a little tired, and he admitted it to Jeff. He thanked him for helping him with his bags and declined Jeff’s offer of fixing him something to eat. All he wanted to do was sleep…he needed to close out the world for a while. He needed to think.
The sound of voices outside his door jarred him awake. How long had he been asleep? He sat up abruptly in his bed, looking around him as if he had forgotten where he was. He was in his room at home, but it didn’t feel like his room anymore. Gone were the comic books that usually scattered the floor. The books he loved to read were gone as well. His bookshelf was now home to thick leather bound volumes that seemed so generic. There was no more warmth in this room. As if his parents had decided that they needed to be rid of any signs of his old life. Was that really how they felt about him?
The voices in the hallway were getting louder and he wondered what was going on out there. “You shouldn’t disturb him right now Fiona. He’s sleeping,” He heard Jeff say.
“I don’t think he’d mind if I went to see him,” he heard his sister reply grumpily. “He’s my brother and I haven’t seen him in a whole year.”
“I know,” Jeff said and Bryan could hear the compassion in that voice. He didn’t know what to make of it. “I think he was kind of bummed that no one was here when he came home…just give him some time.”
He heard Fiona sigh, and knew that Jeff had gotten through to her. He didn’t know what to think. On one hand he was touched that Jeff somehow knew that he was sad even though he had never said it. On the other hand it was strange to see someone else be the big brother to his little sister. The big brother he couldn’t be. Was she really happy to see him or did she want to rail and scream at him for leaving her? He wouldn’t blame her if it was the latter.
“Oh, you are awake,” Jeff’s voice once more interrupted his thoughts. He looked up to see the tall boy standing in the doorway with a tray. “Did you sleep well? I brought you up some tea and some coffee cake. Just in case you were hungry. Your parents are downstairs; I let them know you were home. They were glad to hear it. Do you want to see them?”
“Why are you being so nice to me?” Bryan asked, forcing himself to look away from those eyes. If he tried hard enough he could ignore the feelings being stirred. Perhaps his first line of business was to get a girlfriend. Why did the thought of that make his stomach twist in knots? He pushed those thoughts away and focused on Jeff once more. “I mean you don’t even know me…yet you feel compelled to, I don’t know…help me?”
Jeff shrugged and brought the tray over to the nightstand. “I was just trying to make your homecoming as nice as possible,” he explained, taking a seat on the side of Bryan’s bed. “I…I know it can be tough coming home after being gone so long. And honestly I have been dying to meet you ever since I came to live with your family.”
“You have?” Bryan said amazed. He certainly didn’t think he was that special of a person. “And how long have you been living here anyway?”
“Just since May,” Jeff responded, his gaze locked on Bryan’s brown eyes. He didn’t fail to notice that there were green flecks in those eyes…he filed that fact away in his memory and reached for the cup of tea he had prepared for Bryan. “Your mom was impressed by my resume and asked Louise to offer me the job. She was impressed with my talent and wanted to help out the best way she could. She offered me room and board to sweeten the deal…I was amazed by how nice she is. You see, I don’t have a mom and…”
Jeff stopped and shook his head realizing that he was talking way too much. He handed Bryan his cup. “You should drink this before it gets cold. I’m sorry for rambling on like that. I guess I just wanted to have a friend. And if you are worried…I don’t really care about what happened. I mean your problems aren’t going to scare me off or anything like that.”
Problems? Bryan frowned and tilted his head to the side. He wasn’t sure what Jeff was talking about, and he didn’t know if he wanted to find out. Just what had his parents told their new houseguest about him?
The look that crossed Jeff’s face would have made Bryan laugh at any other moment. Right now though, he could sense that the other boy was uncomfortable. Maybe even scared that he had said something wrong. “I just meant,” Jeff stammered, standing up off the bed and moving away. “I didn’t mean to upset you Bryan, It’s just they said you…you know were in rehab for a whole year and I didn’t want you to think that I was looking down on you for having a drinking problem.”
Bryan put the tea back on the table and swung his legs over the side of the bed. He couldn’t believe this. All this time everyone thought he had gone to rehab? Of course that made sense. He didn’t suppose they could tell the REAL reason why he had been sent away. “Thank you for the tea, Jeff,” he said curtly. He momentarily felt bad for the sad look he put in Jeff’s eyes but he let it pass. “I’m glad you aren’t going to take issue with my problems as they were.”
He brushed past Jeff and left with no explanation. He didn’t feel he owed him any. He was so…he didn’t even have a name for the emotion he was feeling. Was it frustration? Was it anger? Or was he just hurt…ashamed? Or maybe it was jealousy. Whatever he felt he just needed to get out of there…out of the home that no longer felt like his and away from the people who were partly responsible for…
His thought cut off abruptly as he felt a pain in his head. He stopped and pressed his hands to either side of his temple and closed his eyes trying to control it. There were tears in his eyes and he cursed his weakness. This was not supposed to be this hard. Hadn’t Marshall told him that it would be simple? This certainly didn’t seem like simple to him.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay with me, Colton? You know I have plenty of room and you are always welcome.”
Bryan frowned, his given name sounded off to his ears; it was a name he never used and only one person insisted on addressing him with it. He shook his head as he looked at his birth father across the table. A few days had passed since his return home, and he had somehow managed to avoid his parents for the most part. He couldn’t explain it, not even to Jeff though he had asked. Bryan just didn’t want to see them. He was certain his actions were hurting his parents but he had too many unresolved feelings to do anything about it.
“I am not going to be a burden on you, Marshall,” he said running a hand through his blond hair. “You have enough to worry about without having me underfoot. I…I’m fine at home. I think I’ve even made a new friend.”
“With the boy who has taken your place in your mother’s heart? Colton, you cannot be serious.”
He thought he did a good job of hiding just how much that stung. He had confided in Marshall his fears that this was the case. He wasn’t sure what to think of the fact that he was now having those words thrown back in his face. “I don’t really know that,” he said keeping his tone neutral. “And I don’t appreciate you throwing my words back at me either. That’s just…that’s just cruel. And I’m not going to blame Jeff for anything my parents have done.”
“You have every right to be jealous of him, Son,” Marshall said placing a hand on Bryan’s shoulder to give it a squeeze. He has taken over your entire family, but maybe that is for the best. You are not the same as you used to be. You are a Vasaar and its time for you to act like one.
Bryan frowned. How many times over the past few months had his birth father come at him with that line? He didn’t know exactly what that meant though. Nor was he sure he really wanted to do that. He was a Dobbs, plain and simple.”
“Why should I listen to anything you say, Marshall,” he spat angrily. He wasn’t sure where the rush of emotion came from but he was going to ride the wave. “You are just as responsible for me going to that…that place as they are! And you helped them lie about where I was. I don’t trust you and I certainly don’t trust them.”
His hands went up to his head again as he felt a sharp pain. He moved away from Marshall’s touch and didn’t get too far before he doubled over with the intensity of what he was feeling. He closed his eyes and tried to breathe. It was a technique he had learned while away. If he kept his head down, if he just let the pain ebb it would go away. Bryan dropped to his knees.
“Bryan are you okay?” He looked up and found himself staring into a concerned sapphire gaze. For a moment he wondered how Jeff always seemed to be there when he needed him.
“Can you take me home?” Bryan asked, hoping he didn’t sound weak to Jeff’s ears. The pain was more intense than it had been in recent weeks. His ritual didn’t seem to be working. It only made it worse. He needed to get away from Marshall.
“I can take you home Colton,” Marshall’s voice reached his ears. “I think you need to stay with me and away from this boy.”
“I think we should let Bryan make his own decisions,” Jeff snapped back. “He wants me to take him home and I will take him home.”
“He’s my son, and you need to learn some manners,” Marshall fired back.
“Jeff, please,” Bryan pleaded, holding up his hand to stop Jeff from speaking. “Don’t argue with him. Just take me home, okay? To my house.”
He saw Jeff glare at Marshall one last time before helping him off the ground. Bryan clung to him and didn’t even spare a glance at his birth father as he walked away. Jeff’s arm was wrapped around his waist holding him steady until they reached a black truck. He allowed Jeff to help him into the cab and he rested his head back against the seat. He was asleep before Jeff even started the engine.
Have a lot of questions? That was kinda the point...so does Bryan. I hope you guys will follow me through Bryan's journey, things are going to get really interesting really soon
please let me know if you enjoy it. comments are appreciated. Next up Bryan starts to settle in at home...or tries to