Title: Coming Of Age – Part Seven - Understanding
Timeline: Two years post season 5
A/N: This is part seven of my Coming Of Age – Hunter and Amanda’s Story.
This chapter is from Hunter's POV
Comments and feedback is appreciated.
Part One – Explanations
Part Two - Discussions
Part Three - Meetings
Part Four - Conversations
Part Five - Confessions
Part Six - Worries
THIS CHAPTER IS FROM HUNTER’S POV
I woke to the sun streaming through my bedroom window and quickly looked at the clock, relieved that it was only nine. I hadn’t slept well, my mind full of thoughts of Ben and Amanda, each overtaking each other as I jumped from one worry to another.
I grabbed my cell and punched in Michael’s number, but his cell was turned off. I assumed he was still with Ben so typed a quick text telling him to call me as soon as he could. I was tempted to head straight to the hospital but decided I’d wait to hear from Michael, especially if he planned to stay longer and needed clothes brought to him, but actually I was as worried as much about Michael as I was about Ben. I knew how down he got when Ben was sick, and although he always said he could handle everything himself, I tried to do what I could to ease the burden.
My thoughts as I walked to the bathroom were of Amanda. I knew it was too early to call her, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure she would talk to me after having had time to think about my confession.
I showered quickly and had just made myself some toast when my cell rang. I flicked it open quickly.
“Hey how’s Ben?” I asked before Michael could speak.
“He’s still sleeping. The doctor just left and said it’s nothing to worry about but….”
“You’re worrying!” I said and heard a slight laugh in Michael’s voice when he answered me.
“Yeah, can’t change the habits of a life time I guess.”
“Did you get any sleep last night?” I asked ignoring his sigh before continuing “And have you eaten since you’ve been there?”
“Christ, you sound like my mother.”
I could almost see the look of frustration crossing his face as he spoke.
“Remember what I told you…there’s no fucking way I’m looking after both of you!”
“For fuck sake, Hunter! Stop sounding like my mother. I’m fine!” He was trying to put on a front for me, but I could hear the tiredness in his voice.
“So you want me to bring you some clothes?” I asked, changing the subject because I knew when I’d pushed far enough. ”And I called Toronto. Mel wants me to call as soon as I have any news about Ben. John said he’d keep the store going for as long as you want, and your mother said she’d come by the hospital this morning, she also invited me and Amanda for dinner tonight…”
”You talked to Amanda yet?” He interrupted me.
“No.” I replied quietly, doubts about the reception I’d get still filling my mind.
“It’ll be okay Hunter.” He replied. “But I have to go. I don’t want to be away from Ben for too long in case he wakes up.”
“Ok, I think that’s all anyway. I’ll be there in an hour or so.” I answered and flicked my cell shut only for it to ring a minute later.
“Hunter?” I’m sure she could hear my relief at the sound of her voice at the other end of the phone.
“I can meet you…but it won’t be till after twelve ….if you want to that is….”
“Of course I do!” I replied. “I have to stop by the hospital first….”
”How’s Ben?” She cut off my words. “And Michael?”
“Ben’s still sleeping, and Michael’s still worrying.” I answered.
“What about you?” She asked. “How are you doing?”
The concern in her voice was clear, and I felt myself flush, glad that she couldn’t see me.
“I’m ok. But will be much better when I see you.” I blurted out.
“Me too, Hunter.” She replied. “See you in a few hours ok. Our usual place? And give your Dads a hug from me if you can.”
“Sure. Oh…..I forgot. Debbie invited us for dinner tonight, but you don’t have to come if you don’t want to. I think she just wants to make sure I’m not living on junk food.”
”I’d love to go Hunter. I hope she’s making ziti.” She replied laughing.
“Me too.” I said and couldn’t help smiling “I’d better go. I’ll see you soon.”
I hung up and ran upstairs, finding a small suitcase and throwing what I thought Michael may need for the next couple of days. I made sure the house was locked up and walked out the door, flagging down a passing taxi. The trip to the hospital didn’t take long and I waited impatiently for the elevator.
The hospital was already busy as I walked down the hall towards Ben’s room, and I took a deep breath before pushing open the door, taking in the scene in front of me.
Michael was asleep; his head resting on Ben’s shoulder, one arm flung over his chest, the other hand wrapped in Ben’s, fingers laced through each others, the steady beep of the machines the only sound to be heard. I quietly put the bag on the floor and tip-toed nearer to the bed.
Neither of them stirred, and I just stood for a few minutes watching them both, silently asking anyone who might be listening to make things fucking right for them. They didn’t deserve this, no one did.
I thought of Amanda; knowing that this was part of the disease I wanted to keep hidden from her, but I knew that would be unfair. Michael had always told me you couldn’t ignore the bad and focus on the good when it came to love. They were one of the same, and if my fathers had taught me nothing else over the years, they had shown me that love can overcome anything.
I decided not to disturb Michael and fumbled in my pocket, finding a piece of scrap paper and scribbling a quick note for him. I placed it carefully on the end of the bed, and after a few more minutes, slipped quietly from the room heading off to meet Amanda.
She was waiting for me when I finally arrived and my heart did a little flip-flop when she immediately slipped her hand into mine.
“How’s your Dad?” She asked as we walked towards a quiet corner of the park and dropped down on the grass.
“They were both asleep when I was there so I just left Michael’s bag and a note.” I replied. “Michael will call me if there’s any change.”
“Does Ben get sick often?” She asked quietly, and I knew what she was thinking.
“A few times, yeah. Luckily he doesn’t always end up in hospital though. It’s just that when he gets a cough or a cold it can turn into something much worse really quickly, which is why he takes such good care of himself.” I replied.
“What about you?” She asked, absently pulling at the grass.
“I’m ok. Don’t know if I’m just lucky or cause I’m young, but it could happen. That’s one of the things you need to know.” I answered. She looked at me, waiting for me to continue.
“I have to take pills every day.” I said, watching her, and she nodded, and I continued. “They keep my viral load and t-cells under control.”
“What’s a viral load” She asked
I tried to remember what the doctor had explained to me about it.
“It’s tells how much HIV there is in my blood.” I said “The pills I take are called antiretroviral’s. They control it, but they can’t cure it.”
“So it will always be there?” She asked.
“But other people can only get it from you through blood on blood contact can’t they?” She asked.
I knew that she had been doing some research since I last saw her.
“Yeah. The only other way is unprotected sex.” I replied.
“Which is how you got it?”
“Yeah.” I answered, but I knew where this was leading.
“So that means we could never have sex without a condom?”
I just nodded because I knew there was more to come.
“And we could never have children.”
She held my eyes when she said it, and I dropped my head.
“Yeah.” I mumbled. “So I guess that means that you don’t want to see me any more?”
She was silent, and I peeked at her from under my eyelashes. She looked as if she was considering her answer before she spoke.
“But we could adopt.” She replied leaning in and wrapping her arms around me.
My surprise at her answer must have shown on my face, and she giggled.
“What you thought that I would stop loving you because…..”
“Hang on.” I interrupted, my voice sounding loud to my ears. “You love me?”
“Of course I do.” She laughed and pulled me to her, planting a kiss on my mouth.
When our mouths parted, I saw her eyes were sparkling, and I laughed.
“How come?” I said. “I mean why would you love someone…..”
“Who is cute and kind and honest?” She said with a teasing note in her voice.
“I meant someone who’s got what I’ve got.”
“It’s only a small part of who you are Hunter. It’s not you.”
I’m sure I had a silly look on my face as I gazed at her, still trying to get my head around her declaration.
“Haven’t you forgotten to tell me something Hunter?” She asked, resting her head on my shoulder.
I thought of all that there was still to talk about but wasn’t sure if I wanted to get into it now.
“What do you want to know?” I asked hesitantly.
“Do you love me?” She asked; her tone as serious as the look in her eyes.
This time I couldn’t stop a huge grin crossing my face.
“Of course I fucki….. I do.” I said. “I fell in love with you the moment I saw you in class, which strangely enough is what Michael told me happened to him when he first saw Ben.”
“You really do take after your fathers then don’t you.” She laughed.
“Yeah I guess I do.” I replied, wishing at this moment there was one part of me that wasn’t part of one of them.
“So if we can be as happy as they are, I think we’ll be ok don’t you?” She asked.
“It’s different for them though. I mean pos/neg relationships aren’t uncommon in the gay world but for us….especially for you….”
“Because when people know they treat you differently?” She asked.
“Does anyone at school know?”
I remembered back to another school and a girl I thought I was in love with, who seemed at the time to also accept me but in the end couldn’t. But this time I knew it was different. I could see the honesty in Amanda’s eyes when she said it didn’t matter.
“No.” I replied. “Remember I told you that I left Pittsburgh a few years ago?”
“Yes. But you never told me why?”
“Cause they found out and…..” I stopped when my eye caught the red flashing of my cell, and I picked it up quickly and flipped it open.
“Why didn’t you wake me when you came to the hospital?”
“Probably because you would have yelled at me!” I answered, standing and brushing the grass off me. “Is Ben awake?”
“No.” I could hear the tremor in Michael’s voice as he spoke. “They’ve changed some of the drugs they’re giving him. His temperature is also back up.”
“You want me to come over?”
“No, it’s okay. You with Amanda?”
“Yeah. We’re going to your Mother’s for dinner.” I answered, glancing at my watch realizing we were going to be late. I could hear the lecture I’d be getting on punctuality from Debbie already. “How about I come by after I take Amanda home?”
“Thanks, Hunter.” Michael replied. He sounded exhausted, and I made up my mind I would stay with him tonight to make sure he got some real sleep. “You’re a good boy.”
“Enough already!” I replied. “I’ll see you in a few hours.”
I hung up and looked down at Amanda who had been following our exchange intently.
“Ben’s still not awake. Michael’s starting to fall apart, and we’ve got to have dinner with Debbie. I don’t think the day can get any worse.” I said. “But one good thing has come out of it.”
She smiled up at me, and I pulled her to her feet, wrapping my arms around her. She snuggled against me and for a few minutes I was able to forget about everything else. The incessant ringing of my cell interrupted us once again.
“You’d better have a fucking good reason why you’re not sitting at my table and enjoying the meal I spent fucking hours cooking for you.” Debbie’s voice boomed through the phone. “I just spoke to Michael, and he said you were on your way.”
Amanda motioned to me to give her the phone.
“Hello Mrs Novotny, this is Amanda. I’m really sorry we’re late, it’s all my fault, and we’ll be there as soon as we can.”
“You’re forgiven.” I heard Debbie say. “But not that grandson of mine! The door’s open when you get here.”
Amanda hung up and handed me the phone. “I like your Grandma.” She said, taking my hand in hers.
“Wait until she’s put you through the third degree, you may change your mind” I replied.
“I don’t think so.” She said. “But we’d better go cause you need to get to the hospital afterwards.”
I nodded, and we began to walk towards Liberty Ave, my thoughts turning back to Ben.
I needed to be with Michael, and I wanted to be with Amanda. Somehow I just had to hope that everything would work out for all of us.
Amanda must have picked up on my worries and I felt her hand squeeze mine and I smiled at her, knowing that, at least for the moment, one part of my life was perfect.