I barely thought I would make it to Thanksgiving, but thankfully I did. It was the longest week ever, but before I knew it, I was waiting to be picked up outside my dorm building. I had a duffle bag with my stuff in it for the long weekend and I was more than ready to go.
I smiled when Mrs. Fuentes pulled her car around, and I could see Vic sitting in the back seat. I walked towards the car and got in, stuffing the bag down by my feet.
"Hi, boyfriend," I said, happily as Vic turned towards me and wrapped me in a hug. I took a shaky breath in, trying to hold myself together. His embrace was so comfortable and I forgot how much I actually craved that sort of comfort. I had to remind myself that I wasn't alone, and I didn't want Mrs. Fuentes asking questions.
"Hello, how are you?" Vic's step mom asked, in a friendly voice. I responded politely, even though I was still mad at her for taking Vic away from me. That was still not fair at all. Vic could totally be independent and he was smart enough and mature enough to get on by himself
"I missed you so much," I told Vic, quietly, as his mom started driving away. I looped my arm through his and rested my head on his shoulder. He was just as comfortable as I remembered, if not more.
"I missed you too," he assured me, dropping his head against mine. I stayed silent for a while, just listening to him breathe while I inhaled his familiar scent. I didn't ever want to let go of him. I wanted to just sit here forever, watching all my problems disappear because Vic was there to fight them off.
It took about an hour in the car to get to Vic's house. He lived in a fairly nice neighborhood, and a decent-sized house. I couldn't help but notice how much easier Vic got around, though. I mean, this was presumably the house he grew up in, so obviously he'd know it well; it was just startling how different it was. He didn't need a walking stick, and he didn't need to hold onto the walls or furniture.
"You can put your stuff in my room," Vic told me, leading me down one of the hallways before turning into the one that was his. I smiled and followed him in. I didn't know what I was expecting out of his room, but it certainly wasn't what I saw.
Almost every inch of the wall was covered in the most random assortment of stickers and poster and whatnot. I got distracted for a while, just looking at everything that there was to look at. I couldn't find a single blank space anywhere.
"Why do you- " I started to say, trying to think of the best way to pose the question.
"Why do I what? The posters?" he asked, laughing. He held his arms out as if presenting his room to me.
"Yeah," I said, my eyes still wandering around. There was no connection between any of them, it was like a big collage of random . . . I don't even know what.
"In a way, it's kind of just a sick joke I play on myself," he shrugged. "Like . . . I don't know how describe it, but I like it. Mike always finds me posters and pictures and stuff and hangs them up in here. There's no rhyme or reason behind it, really. I like knowing they're there."
"I think it's cool," I offered, in a small voice as Vic moved to shut his door. I smiled politely and let my eyes follow him as he took a seat on his bed.
"But yeah, that's that . . . can we talk, Kellin?" he asked, switching gears in a way that made me really nervous. For some reason, those three words sounded incredibly ominous and I wasn't sure what to make of it.
"What do we have to talk about? What's wrong?" I asked, defensively. Was something wrong? Was he breaking up with me? Oh God-
"Whoa, whoa, nothing's wrong, I didn't mean it that way," he assured me. I relaxed a little bit at least. "Come here, sit."
I sighed and sat down with him on his bed, wondering why he wanted to talk to me like this. As soon as I was settled in next to him, he reached across me and held my hand, which made me feel better. It was crazy how something small like that from him could be so comforting. Sometimes I was convinced that he had some sort of magic spell over me, making me feel safe and secure so easily.
"I just wanted to talk to you about how you're doing," he said, his voice taking on a very serious tone, which indicated that he was talking about something very specific.
"Um," I said, looking for the words. I wanted to just forget about it and enjoy my time with Vic, but I also really wanted to talk to him about everything I hadn't been able to talk to him about. I knew I could at least be honest with Vic. "Not very well."
"Oh, baby," he said, sadly. He wrapped his arms around me and kissed my shoulder. Tears spilled over my eyelids and I reached up in attempt to wipe them away. "Tell me everything."
"I don't know, I just haven't been sleeping well, and I feel like . . . I feel like I'm in a bubble all the time and I can't concentrate on anything . . . and I just always miss you," I sobbed, finally venting to him the emotions I'd been dealing with since the day he left. It hurt to cry so hard, but it felt good in a way. "I don't know what to do about it. I don't know how to fix myself."
"First of all," he said, pausing to kiss my cheek. His lips were soft and gentle as they brushed against my skin. "You're not broken. Second, I love you so fucking much; more than anything. And finally . . . I really think you should talk to someone about this."
"I'm talking to you now," I said, pouting. What did he mean by that?
"No, I mean like . . . like a therapist or something," he suggested. I looked down into my lap, not sure what to say. "I think they could help you feel better."
"I don't want to tell anyone," I admitted, shaking my head. . "I just don't want anyone to know."
"Why not? Those - they deserve to be punished for what they did to you, Kellin. Man, I just get so mad thinking about it," he said, the anger clearly showing through his voice.
"Please don't be mad," I pleaded. Vic sighed.
"I'm not mad at you. I'm never mad at you," he assured me, moving to kiss my forehead. I took a deep breath and wiped away a couple of stray tears with my sleeve. He was so gentle with me and it made my heart swell with adoration for him. "I just hate that you're so upset after this."
"Me too," I admitted. I twisted around and wrapped my arms around his waist, then buried my face against his chest. He held me there for a moment, just lightly running his fingers over my back. It was so nice to have someone I actually trusted touching me. It was nice to lie here with him and not have to worry about being afraid. As long as I was in his arms, nothing bad could happen to me.
A little while after our conversation, Vic's dad called us to dinner. I came out to the kitchen with Vic, interested to see that everyone was already at the table. They liked to eat dinner as a family, so Mike was there as well. His leg was still in a cast, but from what I heard he was doing a lot better. He looked up and gave me a familiar smile, and I tried to smile back.
"Thank you for having me," I made sure to say to his parents.
"It's no problem . . . it's good to get a chance to get to know Vic's um . . . Vic's boyfriend," Mr. Fuentes said, as if he had a hard time vocalizing that.
"Something wrong, dad?" Vic asked, picking up on it, too. He didn't seem to have a problem challenging his dad's hesitancy either.
"Nothing, I'm just still surprised you're into men is all," he said, awkwardly laughing it off. The way his laugh sounded told me that he wasn't necessarily homophobic. I guess that was good.
"I'm not necessarily into men . . . I'm just into Kellin," Vic said, proudly. I smiled, turning towards him as his hand dropped to my knee, giving it a light squeeze.
"And Kellin's a guy, so that's gay," Mike teased.
"What can I say? Love is blind and so am I," he said, earning chuckled from both his dad and brother for his clever remark.
"Vic, that wasn't funny," Mrs. Fuentes snapped. It kind of caught me off guard. She wasn't smiling, either so she wasn't joking around like everyone else was.
"What?" Vic complained.
"You know I don't like those jokes," she hissed. I guessed she was referring to the blind jokes, which was odd because I knew Vic made them all the time. I personally thought he was so funny, I couldn't imagine anyone thinking he wasn't.
"Well, you're not the one who can't see, so I don't know why you're getting offended," he came back, a definite sassiness in his voice. I bit my lip, feeling awkward amidst the slight argument.
"Vic, just be nice to your mother," Mr. Fuentes sighed. Vic groaned quietly then went back to eating. I still felt a bit of tension in the air, and dinner continued on a rather uncomfortable note. Mike started talking about something else, which engaged both parents, and eventually Vic again.