Title: Coming Of Age – Part Nine - Acceptance
Timeline: Two years post season 5
A/N: This is part nine of Coming Of Age – Hunter and Amanda’s Story.
This chapter is from Michael’s POV and focuses on the developing relationship between him and Amanda
Part One – Explanations
Part Two - Discussions
Part Three - Meetings
Part Four - Conversations
Part Five - Confessions
Part Six - Worries
Part Seven - Understanding
Part Eight - Sharing
I was pulled out of my fitful sleep by the sound of the door opening. Hunter was standing in the door way, but my eyes focused on Amanda.
I watched as she surveyed the hospital room and tried to imagine seeing it through her eyes for the first time. Her eyes lingered on the multi-colored wires by Ben’s neck, following the track of them to the ECG monitor then moved to the screen with the non-stop beeps, the sounds of which stayed in my head even when I slept.
She seemed to be mesmerized by the slow drips into the tube on the IV stand and I could see her trying to read the words on the bag but from that distance I knew it would be impossible. I could tell her later if she wanted to know. I knew every drug they gave Ben by heart now.
I saw Hunter lean in and whisper something to her, but she shook her head, eyes still scanning the room. They finally came to rest on Ben, and I watched them widen for a moment. I knew this wasn’t the Ben she had met just nights before. I wondered if she noticed the breathing tube, the pallor of Ben’s face belying the fact that his temperature was still too high for the doctors liking.
Her gaze stayed on Ben for a long time, and then her eyes met mine. I could see a trace of fear in them, but they held something else which only I would understand – acceptance.
“Why isn’t he awake?” Hunter’s voice bought us both from that knowing moment, and I turned to him.
“The doctor said that it’s nothing to worry about.” I replied.
I knew that my voice betrayed my true feelings, which hadn’t escaped Hunter’s notice, the disbelief evident in his eyes.
“Bullshit!” Hunter said angrily, and I saw Amanda flinch slightly.
“Hunter, listen to me!” I said, my voice steadier now. “The doctor said it’s his body’s way of healing itself.”
“So when will he wake up?” Hunter’s voice still held that trace of anger.
“They said within twenty-four hours they expect to see a definite sign of improvement.” I replied, trying to put a positive tone in my voice. I believed the doctors because I had no choice, but I knew I wouldn’t relax for a moment until Ben opened his eyes.
“Hunter, why don’t you go and get your dad something to eat.” Amanda suggested, and I could have hugged her as I saw the anger fade from Hunter’s face.
“If I do, will you promise you’ll eat it?”
His eyes bore into mine and I couldn’t help but smile.
“Ma been giving you a hard time?” I asked.
He nodded looking slightly sheepish.
“I promise I’ll eat it, ok?”
“You better!” He said, turning to Amanda.
“I won’t be long, you’ll be ok?”
“Sure.” She replied, giving him a quick kiss before shooing him out the room.
I watched him leave before looking at Amanda. Her eyes were focused back on Ben.
“Come and sit down.” I said, pulling out a chair. I saw her jump at my words, and she walked slowly over and sat next to me.
I knew she was still coming to terms with what she was seeing, and I leaned back in the chair, giving her time to collect herself.
“How do you do it?” Her voice was barely above a whisper. I didn’t need to ask what she meant
“I love him”
“It’s that easy?”
She was quiet for so long that I sneaked a look at her.
“I don’t know if I could do it. I don’t know if I am strong enough.”
“Do you love Hunter?”
“Yes.” She answered without hesitation
“There’s your answer then.”
I knew I had to explain more, she had to know that there were many more good times than bad. That although this fucking disease would forever be part of our lives, we would not let it dictate our future. That we both would, in our own ways, fight it anyway we could.
“It’s not always like this. Most of the time Ben is healthy. He takes good care of himself, but sometimes something happens that fucks up his immune system or something goes wrong with his meds. “I said, trying to find the words that wouldn’t scare her, but I somehow knew that she was much tougher than she appeared. She just needed to understand that about herself.
“But one day it could be me sitting here, with Hunter in that bed.” She said quietly.
I hesitated before answering but knew nothing, but the truth would be fair.
“Yes.” I eventually replied “But you can’t let yourself worry about that all the time.”
“Like you do?” She retorted.
“Is it that obvious?” I asked, looking at Ben before turning back to her.
She nodded in reply, and I realized that she and I would always be bound together by this disease as much as Ben and Hunter were because it could take the people we love from us without a moments notice.
“I try not to, mainly because it drives Ben nuts. He accepts it as part of his life. I haven’t quite got to that place yet.” I answered. “I mean I know it’s not just going to go away, and I wouldn’t love him any differently if he didn’t have it, I’m just still angry because it could rob me of Ben at any time.”
I could see the worry on her face as I spoke, and I wanted to find the words to calm her fears.
“It’s different for you and Hunter though.” I continued.
“Why?” She asked, and I could see a look of confusion crossing her face.
“Because Hunter is young, and they are making progress with new drugs every day.” I answered. “The chances are they will find a cure in his lifetime.”
“You really believe that?” She asked quietly.
“I want to.” I replied honestly. “Because Hunter and you deserve a life without the worry, the hours spent at hospitals, the chance to have kids.”
“Hunter thought I would leave him because we couldn’t have children.” She answered. “But I told him we could adopt. We could, couldn’t we?”
“You think they may not let you because of Hunter’s positive status?”
“Yes. I mean, it’s not something that we would be thinking about for a while, we both want to finish school, but…..”
“You want a family.” I finished her train of though.
“Yes. I love kids, that’s why I want to be a teacher, but if I had to choose between kids and Hunter the choice would be easy.”
I didn’t doubt her words at all. She may only be nineteen, but I knew she had no illusions about what her life may belike with Hunter, and my admiration for her was growing by the minute.
“I honestly have no idea. It was different when Ben and I adopted Hunter because of his age. All it took was his consent.” I answered. “It is something you would need to look into.”
“It’s not that important.” She replied, but I could hear the wistful note in her voice and knew she was thinking about what she maybe giving up in loving Hunter.
“You have a few years before you need to think about it.” I said. “You both want to finish school, and besides I’m much too young to be a grandfather.”
My words elicited a smile from her, but I could see she still had questions, and I waited patiently for her to speak again, my gaze on Ben who I was silently willing to waken.
“You never had any doubts about….” Her voice trailed off, and I noticed a flush cover her face and knew immediately what she was asking.
I reached out and took her hand. She lowered her head, but I saw a small smile on her lips.
“I did actually.” I began. “I listened to other people instead of listening to what my heart was telling me, and I almost lost Ben because of that. Luckily he understood my fears, but I know what I did hurt him at the time.”
“I don’t want to hurt Hunter but….”
“Not scared…..I’ve never….”
I gave her hand a squeeze, and the thought that I was sitting here discussing sex with someone who maybe my future daughter-in-law made me laugh softly. She looked at me, and I could see the same thought had occurred to her. But somehow it didn’t seem strange at all. I hoped that in the future she may find some friends who were in a similar relationship as she was and be able to confide in them, but at the moment all she had was me and the fact that it didn’t seem to bother her I think strengthened out relationship.
“Hunter will always be careful Amanda. That I can promise you.”
“I trust him. But I know there is a risk.”
“Yes there is, and I guess the only question you have to ask yourself is if you are prepared to take that risk.”
“You do.” She answered quietly. “Because you love Ben. For me it’s no different.”
I nodded. We understood each other. This young girl who had taken my son’s heart was going to become part of our family, of that I had no doubt.
The door swung open, and we both turned to see Hunter walk in. He stopped for a moment, his eyes flitting between Amanda and me, and I could see the questions in his eyes.
II gave him a reassuring smile which seemed to satisfy him.
“Food! Eat!” He said, putting a tray in front of me.
“Thanks.” I answered. “Would you both stay with Ben while I have a quick shower?”
“Then you’ll eat?” Hunter replied.
“Yeah, I’ll eat.” I answered, ruffling his hair.
They needed to talk and somehow sitting in this room with Ben seemed the right place to do it.
I took the tray and put it on the bedside table before grabbing some clean clothes from my bag and heading to the shower.
“Won’t be long” I said, pushing open the door but got no response. I looked at them, heads close together, already in deep conversation and quietly left the room.