Jum

[IN PROGRESS!!] Josh is an American teenager living in London after moving all over the States when he was younger, and determined to make it his home. Meet Michael, the British boy who will help him do so. (BL, some chapters feature explicit content.)

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35. Chapter 23.5 [Marc]

[Marc]



 

Rounding his parents' bed, Michael took a deep breath before reaching for the phone with a shaky hand.

"Hello?"

"Hey," his brother's voice answered, sounding tense.

Michael sat down on the edge of the bed and squeezed his eyes shut. "Please don't be mad."

"I'm not mad," Marc sighed. "I'm just… Do you realise how scared I've been? How scared we've all been?"

"I didn't—"

"And when were you going to tell me about this? Were you even going to?"

"Of course! But how do you—"

"I called Mum yesterday because Debbie wanted to ask her something. Next thing I know, Mum is in tears, telling me about the bombshell you dropped on them before running away—"

"I didn't run away! I just wanted to clear my head."

"And then," Marc went on, "a few hours later, she tells me you're in hospital, in Central London. How does that not qualify as running away?"

"I wasn't running away, I swear! I walked to the station because I didn't want to stay near the house, and I thought I could just go on the Tube up to Wembley and then turn around. But then… I was on my way to see Josh," Michael added much lower.

"And the bus?"

"I… That was an accident! You're making it sound like I threw myself in front of it!"

"Well…"

"I didn't!" Michael closed his eyes again and let out a loud sigh. "I didn't run away and I am not suicidal. It was an accident, caused by a reckless driver. You have to trust me."

"I want to, I really do, but you've never done anything like this before, Michael. Do you realise how terrifying that was for all of us? I'm several hours away. If something serious had happened, I wouldn't—"

"I'm sorry."

"Why didn't you talk to me? You always used to. How long have—"

"I didn't want to… bother you. You're… busy."

Marc let out a sigh. "You never bother me. And even when I am busy, I'm never too busy for a phone call. You know that, right?"

"I'm sorry."

There was a pause, during which Michael focused hard on the sound of his brother's breathing, wishing more than ever that Marc could be beside him and not over a hundred miles away.

When Marc spoke again, his tone was much lighter. "So… Josh?"

Michael swallowed hard and felt his cheeks heating up at once. "Yes…?"

Marc let out another sigh. "When did you stop talking to me? Why don't I know anything about him, about… the two of you?"

"I didn't—"

"I mean, come on, I probably knew your preference before you did!"

Michael felt himself choking on air a little. "What?!"

"My dear little brother, you forget that I know you better than anyone," Marc said with a chuckle. "This kind of hurts, you know? I always thought you'd come to me for advice about that sort of thing. I was looking forward to it."

"B— But, you're not—"

"What, I'm not gay? Oh come on, don't be stupid. You think it's any different…?"

Hearing those words coming so naturally from his brother, Michael felt his heart swell and his insides tighten up at the same time. Of course he'd known all along that Marc wouldn't react the way their father had done, but it meant so much. His eyes filled with tears and he wiped them with the back of his good hand.

"Are you all right?" Marc immediately asked.

"I'm fine, I'm just— Sorry. I wanted to tell you all about it, I really did. I just didn't know—"

"Next time, pick up the phone. Or drop me an e-mail if you can't say it out loud. A text message. Anything."

"I wish you were here right now…" Michael said with a small sob.

"I know, me too," Marc said with a shaky sigh. "Hey, I… I'm going to come down next weekend, OK?"

"What?"

"I'll come on my own. I think Debbie has stuff planned with some friends on Saturday anyway. If I leave early enough in the morning, I should be home at a decent time. Then we can go out for the day, eat somewhere and have a chat. Just the two of us."

"Y— You would?" Michael asked in a strangled voice. Had it been anyone else in his family, he would have done his best to disguise it. But with Marc it didn't matter.

"Of course. It's been way too long."

"Yes." Michael wiped away more tears and cleared his throat. "I… I should go. Josh is here and—"

"Oh?"

"I thought Mum might have told you… She invited him over for lunch when she and Dad came to pick me up at he hospital. I couldn't really believe it."

"Where is he now? You haven't left him with Dad, have you?"

"God no. No, he's waiting in my bedroom."

"Right. OK then, I'll talk to Mum about next weekend."

"So you really—"

"Yes."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome. I miss you too, you know. Now go back to Josh. And err… be careful and all that."

"Marc!"

"What, I'm just—"

"No, I am not having this conversation with you. I can't."

"You'd rather have it with Mum?"

Michael let out a small whimper. "You don't have to worry about that sort of thing. I mean— We are… Careful, that is," he whispered.

"Good. All right then, I'll see you next weekend. Love you."

"Love you too. Bye."

After putting the phone down, Michael wasn't sure whether to smile or cry. So he did a bit of both and once he was ready he got up and made his way to his bedroom and back to Josh.

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