For Everything You Are
As Alan, Jenny, and Cody stood outside Jake's ward, Cody was looking at Jenny nervously. In fact, nervously was an awesome understatement. From Jenny's point of view, the look in Cody's eyes suggested he had just been told the world was ending and this was his 4 minute warning.
"Alan, why don't you go in and see Jake. I need to have a word with Cody, and I don't want Jake to think we have left him," Jenny said, giving her husband a reassuring squeeze on his arm.
Alan looked at his wife and then Cody, twisted his mouth to the side, and made his way down the corridor and disappeared into the ward. Cody, for some reason, felt even more uneasy not having Alan there. Now it was just one on one, and endgame in Cody's mind. Jenny, seeing her husband disappearing through the door, now turned and looked at Cody.
"Cody, when…" Jenny stopped and let out a long sigh, obviously finding it difficult to hold her emotions in check. "When Jake woke up, the first thing he said was that he was sorry but couldn't bear the rejection. When I asked him what he meant, he said that I should ask you, and turned away from me. Cody, what did he mean? Please, I need to know."
Cody just stared at her, not knowing what to say. What could he say, how would he say it? His instinct was screaming at him to say nothing and just run, but where to, and for how long? He tried desperately to not meet her gaze, but she gently took his chin in her hand and brought his face to meet hers.
"Cody, please," she pleaded. "My son, your best friend, he…he tried to take his own life not 24 hours ago. What on Earth has happened, and who does he feel has rejected him?" A lone tear began to make its way down Cody's cheek as he stared at Jenny and it hammered home what this was all about.
"He um….he kissed me," Cody whispered, so low he actually wondered if she heard. "He has feelings for me and…and god, this is all so fucked up." He just continued to stare at Jenny, her brow lifting and her hand slowly moving from his chin back down to her side. This is it, he thought, this is where she goes mad and says her son is disgusting, that I'm disgusting, that Jake needs to stay away from me. He closed his eyes, not only to stem the now free flowing tears, but to avoid looking at her, as he waited for her horrifying response. But when it came, it was not quite what he imagined.
"And do you have feelings for him?" She asked, flooring him instantly, his eyes snapping back open to make sure she was actually speaking to him.
"What?" He choked, swallowing hard.
"Do you have feelings for Jake?"
"It's…it's complicated," was all he could respond with. "You see, Jenny, this is what this is all about. I mean, I never meant for any of this to happen, but…but I just freaked out."
Jenny, seeing that this was hard for Cody, and thinking that for her, it would be better to let the news that she potentially had a gay son sink in, decided to end the conversation for the time being.
"Go see your friend," she whispered to him, squeezing his shoulder after a moment of silence.
Jenny and Cody headed down to the entrance to the ward, and as she walked through the door, she noticed that Cody had stopped outside. He was looking at Jake through the glass in the door, watching as Alan's lips moved, talking to Jake. He wondered how much Jake had actually told his Dad, and what his reaction would be. But he needn't have worried about Alan, as he looked up and saw Cody standing there through the glass and waved him in. Jake, seeing the direction his dad was looking in, turned to see Cody waiting outside the room. At first Cody did nothing; he just stood there looking into Jake's eyes. But then he noticed a hand slowly appear from under the sheets reaching out in Cody's direction, gesturing him to come in. A hand that screamed out, "Please, come to me, I need you here."
Alan stood up as Cody slowly and sheepishly made his way over to the bed, never once leaving Jake's gaze as he approached. There was silence in the room from all four of them, until Jenny spoke up.
"Uh, Alan why don't we…why don't we go and get something to eat and leave the boys to talk?" Alan looked at his wife, thinking once again that she was acting peculiar. Then, looking at Jake and Cody, he nodded as he took his wife's hand.
"We'll be back in a little while, boys," Jenny said, gently tugging on Alan's hand, indicating for them to leave the ward. Cody followed them with his eyes until they went through the door, and then turned his gaze back again to Jake.
"Hey," Cody whispered to Jake, "How you holding up?"
"I've felt better," Jake replied in a hoarse voice. "Listen, I…"
"Shh, you don't have to explain, not now. I'm really glad you're ok, that's all that matters."
"I've been so stupid," Jake started to gently sob, "And I'm such a fucking coward."
"Hey, hey…shh now," Cody took hold of Jake's hand and gently squeezed it. "I've been the coward, and I should never have let you go yesterday. I was just so confused and freaked out when you said that you were in love with me, you know?"
"I'm sorry, Cody, I just couldn't stand it anymore. I had to just… I had to tell you; it was killing me."
"I know, Jake, and when you left, I just sat there and I tried to sort it all out in my head."
"And?" Jake said, expectantly.
"Well, I didn't get all the way, but I did admit one thing to myself that day, and that was, yeah, I do like you."
"I should think so, Cody; we have been, like, best friends forever." Jake managed a small smirk.
"No, what I mean is….I really like you," Cody said and gave Jake a cheeky wink.
"Oh," Jake said softly.
"I guess I felt kind of trapped at the time, like I was being forced to make a decision on the spot because you are moving and all. And then there was the whole telling me that you were in love with me, and I didn't really understand what that meant for you. I guess I felt you were kind of doing a hit and run on me, like telling me something that huge, knowing that you were moving away. It just… it freaked me out."
"I get it Cody. I have liked you more than as my best friend for so long now, I think that being told I was going away made it more urgent to tell you how I felt. I realise that I was probably a bit full on all at once, and I'm sorry. I guess, in my mind, the sooner I got it out, the more time you…. Oh, I don't know; it's not even like I knew you had any feelings at all for me. In fact, up until that kiss you gave me, I was certain that you didn't. I just needed to find out, I guess. This is all just so…fucked up!"
"Hey, that's my line," Cody said, banging Jake on the shoulder. "But listen, the love thing? I'm not sure I really know what that means for me… I mean I feel something yeah, but love? It just seems too, I don't know…" Jake looked at Cody as he was trying to hopelessly explain things. He decided not to make a big deal about it, instead just accepting his friend at least feels something.
"So what happens now? Jake asked, wiping a few hairs away from his face. "I mean… now we know our feelings for each other, maybe we could explore that a little more?"
Cody removed his hand from Jake's and looked at him more serious. "It's not that simple, Jake; we can't sit here and pretend that everything is cool, when in less than a month you are moving thousands of miles away. And then what, we just pretend nothing's happened? Not to mention you have just tried to kill yourself, and then there is the question of your parents!"
"My parents, Cody?"
"Yeah, like how to explain to them the recent developments, now that you've pretty much 'outed' us to your mum. I mean why the hell did you say I rejected you and stuff?"
"I'm sorry, it's just I was so emotional at the time, it just came out. Why, did she say something to you?"
"Well, of course she was going to, especially when you told her that she needs to talk to me, about the rejection thing."
"And what did you say?"
"Well, you hardly left me many roads to get out of Dodge with that one Jake; I had to be honest and tell her how it started and all."
"Whoa…you told her about the kiss?" Jake asked, wide eyed and startled.
"Well, yeah…I mean what else could I have said? How could I have got out of it? By saying, oh, sorry, Jenny, your son was actually talking about you. Besides, just by your comment, I think she knew deep down what was going on with that meaning, anyway." Cody placed his hand back under the sheets out of view from everyone, and took Jake's hand again, this time gently rubbing circle motions with his thumb causing Jake to smile at the contact. "I think your mum looked pretty cool about it, though, yeah? I mean, if anyone was going to come out to their Mum and got the reaction you did, then that can't be bad. I'm not sure how much your dad knows, though." Cody's face seemed to take on a scared look as soon as he mentioned Alan.
"What's wrong?" Jake asked, looking confused. "You said it looked cool with my mum, so why the sad face?"
"Sorry Jake, I'm happy for you that your mum took it really well. I was just thinking that,,."
"Well, your parents are not my parents."
"Oh shit, I never even thought…damn, I'm sorry, Cody. But hey, they don't know anything, nor do they need to….right?"
"Oh yeah, and how long do you think that will last before your mum starts talking to mine? She's gonna say that she felt obligated to tell her or some shit like that," Cody said with an edge to his voice.
"Hey, you don't know that. I'm sure when we talk about this, something I'm not looking forward to, I'll admit, but when we do talk about it, we'll tell her she can't say anything." Cody leant back on his seat and let out a long sigh.
"We'll see," he shrugged.
After finding the hospital cafeteria closed Alan and Jenny had taken the car over to the local McDonalds Drive thru, about half a mile out from the hospital.
"Shall we go and sit in?" Alan asked, as they approached the restaurant.
"Uh, no Alan, I want to stay in the car. There's…we need to talk about something."
Alan just shrugged and drove up to the first window and ordered. Jenny sat there in silence until they had their food, and told Alan to find a secluded spot in the car park. He parked the car over at the far end, switched off the engine, and began to hunt through the bag for his burger.
"Alan, if I was to tell you…" Jenny paused, trying to figure out the best way to verbally approach him on the delicate matter. "Alan, if I tell you something, you gotta promise me you won't get mad."
"QVC again?" he asked giving her a look, trying to suss out if that was the reason for the question.
"Uh, no Alan, not QVC, Jake actually, If I was to tell you something I found out about Jake today, will you promise you won't get mad?" Jenny was now getting nervous, as Alan's face was showing a new level of sternness and confusion.
"Well, honey, unless you tell me he's got a girl pregnant, he's taking drugs, or he's robbing old ladies on the street, there really isn't anything that could make me get mad. Oh, unless yesterday's episode is anything to go by, that that really goes without saying, really," Alan said, managing a chuckle, "So, any of those?"
"Uh, not exactly Alan."
"Well, then, I am happy to assure you I won't get mad." He gave her a wink. Jenny looked out of her window, away from Alan and closed her eyes.
"Alan, our son is gay!"
The car went silent and Jenny still had her eyes clamped shut, waiting for Alan to react. When he didn't, she turned and looked at him, noticing he was just staring out of the windscreen with a blank look on his face.
"Well?" she said, exasperated. Although she was not looking forward to a response, the fact she never got one immediately was actually frustrating.
"Gay?" Alan finally said. "As in..."
"Gay, Alan, as in likes boys," she blurted out, cutting him off, as if to relieve her frustration due to his lack of words.
"And you say you found this out today?"
"Well, yes…I mean, I sort of knew by a comment Jake said when he woke up, but it was actually Cody who confirmed it to me."
"Cody… you mean Jake has already told Cody about this?"
"Well, actually, it's a bit more complicated than that, Cody is actually…."
"Actually what?" Alan said, cutting her off this time, but not in an angry way.
"Cody and Jake are…well, I don't know what they are, but they shared a moment, if you like."
"A moment, what does that mean, should I be worried, Jen?" Alan sat up in his seat.
"Well, Cody said they…."
"Hang on," he cut her off. "Do you think what Jake decided to do to himself was because he was… gay?"
"I don't know, Alan, maybe. Maybe he felt like he couldn't talk to us about it, and it got too much. Maybe that's just part of it, and then there's the move…" she trailed off.
"So, how much do you know?" he asked.
"Well, honestly, Alan, not much at all. I mean, Jake never said anything, apart from being rejected or something, and Cody said that Jake had kissed him. As to how far their relationship has gone, and why Jake did this to himself, I…I don't know."
"Hmm," Alan said, scratching his head lightly.
"Hmm, Alan? Could you elaborate on 'Hmm' for me? I really need to know what you're thinking here, more importantly how you are going to react to Jake when you see him, and Cody for that matter".
"Just give me a moment, Jen; it's a bit of a shock, you know? I mean, I knew there was more to this than just moving away, but if you had told me it might have been because Jake was gay, I would not have believed it." They both sat there again in silence, as Alan digested not only his burger but Jenny's revelation too. Somehow, the food didn't seem that appealing to either of them now.
"We should get back," Jenny spoke after a few minutes. Alan didn't respond, just turned the ignition, and started to manoeuvre the car out of its space and drive away.
The drive back to the hospital was slow. It was rush hour and all the workers were now coming home from their jobs, clogging up the roads.
"Alan?" Jenny said, looking at her husband.
"You are ok with this, aren't you?"
"Are you?" he replied, letting out a sigh.
"I think he needs our support, whether we are or not. He needs to know we are there for him, especially after what happened." She turned and faced him "But yeah, yeah I'm ok with it."
"Give me some time, Jen. I've nothing against gay people; hell, I work with enough of them, but when it's our own son, it just….it takes a while to get over that, you know. Jenny smiled at him and rested her hand on his, as he continued to slowly make his way back to the hospital. She knew that he was going to be ok with this, and that was a relief for her.
"Craig, thank god you're home. I have been trying to call you. Did you get a call from the school?" Hazel asked, as her husband walked through the front door of their home.
"Yeah, I had a missed call, but didn't know who it was from, and they left no message."
"Well, I got the same call, and it was from Councillor Thompson at Cody's school. He left me a message, saying that Jake was in hospital and that Cody was being collected by Alan."
"Hospital?" Craig shot back, looking worried. "What's happened?"
"He didn't elaborate in the message, just said that Alan had come to pick him up, as he was unable to get hold of us, and that he would be calling us tomorrow to explain the details. I tried calling Alan and Jenny, but it looks like they have their phones switched off, because they're inside the hospital, I guess."
"Well, it would have been nice to be called by one of them by now," Craig said, with a slight edge in his voice.
"I know, Craig, but their son has been taken into hospital. I'm sure that you'll forgive them for being a little preoccupied at the moment, and anyway, you know Cody is safe with them, so I'm not worrying. I just wish I knew what was going on." Hazel pushed her hair back behind her ear and shook her head. "We should prey for him Craig."
"You're right; do you think we should go down there?"
"Let's wait until they call us," she replied, squeezing his shoulder and smiling.
Alan and Jenny made their way back into the hospital, and were walking down the corridor to Jake's ward, when Doctor Burns caught sight of them.
"Ah, Mr and Mrs Stevens," he called out. "May I speak with you, please?" He led them in to an empty waiting room off the corridor and asked them to take a seat. "I just wanted to update you on Jake's condition, and I want to tell you its good news. I have had the test results back from the lab, and are very pleased to say, there does not appear to be any permanent damage to Jake's Kidneys; therefore, I am planning to release him from the hospital whenever he is ready."
Alan and Jenny both looked at each other with relieved faces as the Doctor was giving the information to them.
"I will ask that he gets plenty of rest for the next few days and drinks plenty of fluids. Other than that, he should be back to his old self within a week," Doctor Burns added.
"That's great news, Doctor" Alan spoke up.
"Yes it is" Doctor Burns replied, "But I wanted to make a recommendation to you both." Both Alan and Jenny looked at the doctor, wondering what he was about to suggest. "When someone comes in here for the reason Jake has, it says to me there is an underlying emotional or mental issue that is unresolved somewhere. After all, no one attempts to take their own life without there being a trigger of some kind, causing someone to do such things. Mr and Mrs Stevens, I'm not an expert in this area, but in Jake's case, he seems to be battling some kind of demons, and I strongly suggest he gets help with this, in the form of a specialist."
"Yes, Doctor, we have a pretty good hunch on what that might be," Jenny replied to him.
"Very well, my job is done here," the Doctor said, slapping his legs and standing up. "I wish Jake and yourselves well, and I hope not to see him back in here. You can go back to the ward when you are ready. Goodbye." Doctor Burns shook their hands and left the small room, leaving Jenny and Alan behind.
Minutes later they too had made their way out and back into the ward, where Cody was still chatting to Jake.
"Are you ready to go home, young man?" Alan said, looking at Jake, smiling.
"Really, Dad, we can go?" Jake became excited, wanting to put the hospital and other events causing him to be there behind him.
"Yep, but it looks like you need that thing pulled out of your hand first," Alan replied, pointing at Jake's IV."
"Yuk", Jake said, pulling a face dreading the moment it would be pulled out. He hated needles.
"Baby!" Cody teased him.
Jenny went and found the nurse to ask her if she could take the IV out and soon enough, the she was standing by Jake's bed, ready to carry out her request. She peeled back the dressing that was supporting it in place and began to remove the needle from Jake's hand.
"Ouch!!" Jake screamed, as the needle was being pulled.
"You're hurting him" Cody dived up, pulling on the nurse's arm, surprising himself at the outburst he just made. Although in pain, Jake melted as he saw the concern in Cody's eyes.
"It's ok, Cody, it just stings a bit," and he gently pushed Cody back down into his seat. Alan and Jenny just watched on, both not really appreciating up until that moment the close bond the two boys shared. The way they looked out for each other.
As the needle slipped out completely, the nurse dressed Jake's hand with a small plaster and smiled, as she took away the old IV. They all left the room and went to the nurses' station to sign the discharge papers before leaving the hospital.
"We better phone your parents, Cody. I'm sure they must be wondering why we haven't called yet," Jenny said. It was almost 7pm, and Cody nodded to her in agreement. As they walked back to Alan's car, Jenny dialled the number to Cody's house, and began to explain what had happened to Hazel as they drove back home. Jenny was still talking when they pulled on to the driveway.
"Wanna come up to my room?" Jake asked Cody, really hoping that he would say yes. Cody hesitated, but then nodded, as they made their way into Jake's house. They were just about to head upstairs when Alan called after them.
"Boys, I want you both back down here in 30 minutes. There are some… things we need to talk about." Cody and Jake stared at Alan before looking at each other and then back again, nodding sheepishly.
"Ok, Hazel, I'll have him home by nine," Alan heard, as Jenny hung up the phone.
"Everything ok, honey?" Alan asked, wondering why the phone call, that was just going to be about informing them where Cody was, had tuned into a 20 minute conversation.
"Yeah, everything's fine. I was just telling her what had happened, and that Jake was ok now. She was asking stuff about it, but I thought it best not to go in to details too much, while the boys were in the car".
"Did you tell her about…"
"Eh, no, Alan, I don't think now is the time, and besides, I think that when the time is right, it's not me who should be telling them anything, do you?"
"No, I guess not," Alan replied, scratching the back of his neck. "I told the boys they need to be down here in 30 minutes so we can talk," he added.
"Probably a good idea, but remember, take it easy, ok, no hard ball with them tonight. They have both been through enough. I don't want Jake to think we are ganging up on him, so soon after… well, you know? God, Alan, I'm just so pleased to have him home." Alan just smiled in agreement.
As the boys just sat next to each other on Jake's bed, with only Jake's desk lamp providing a dim light, a silent awkwardness fell upon the room, neither boy really knowing how to start a conversation with the other. Now that the drama of the hospital has passed, and Jake's mum and dad were no longer around to provide a distraction, they both just sat there thinking about the events of the last day or so.
"Can I hold you?" Jake whispered, after what seemed like an eternity. He was looking straight ahead, swallowing hard. Hearing the request, Cody turned and looked at Jake, but Jake refused to meet his gaze.
"I'd like that," Cody whispered back. Jake lifted his arm from his lap and placed it round Cody's waist, and then leaned his head in to Cody's neck, taking in a deep breath through his nose, collecting Cody's scent with the intake of air. He felt so calm, just sitting there with his friend.
Cody, who had initially tensed up with the bodily contact from Jake, began to relax and close his eyes, feeling the warmth of Jake's body against his. The awkwardness of the situation began to leave them, as they both sat there, content in each other's arms.
"You wanna talk about it?" Cody said softly, trying not to break the contentment of them both.
"Not really...I mean, not right now. I just wanna be close to you. For the first time in a while, I feel… kinda safe, if that makes any sense?"
"I think I know what you mean," Cody said, taking Jake's free hand in his.
"I'm sorry I said the things I did, Jake. I…I was just confused and scared."
"I know," Jake replied sleepily
"Hey, do you think your dad knows that you're… well, you know?"
"Gay?" Jake replied, monotone. "I guess we'll be finding out soon enough, but really, I don't see how he can't, and he has been looking at me funny."
"Yeah, like he's trying to figure me out, like a kind of puzzle."
"Well, that might have something to do with you trying to kill yourself, Jake, not because he knows you're gay."
"Thanks, Cody, I really wished you hadn't brought that up, you know," Jake snapped back slightly.
"I'm sorry, I guess I'm just finding it hard to accept you actually did that over what I said, that's all."
"Don't flatter yourself, Cody. It's more than just that, it's the whole fucking…" Jake just sighed and decided not to finish the sentence, and tried to calm down. "Look, I don't wanna fight with you, anymore. I'm tired of fighting with you," he decided to finish with. Cody didn't say a word, realising that Jake, although physically better, was still emotionally delicate. Instead, he gripped Jake's hand tighter, as if to let him know he agreed and was there for him.
Their period of peace and calmness was abruptly ended by a familiar voice shouting up to them.
"Boys, can you come down here, please?" Alan hollered up the stairs.
"Time to face the music, I guess," Jake said, smirking, leading Cody by his hand to the bedroom door. Cody, on the other hand, did not find the comment at all amusing, judging by the look on his face after hearing Alan's voice. He wondered what they wanted, what they would say. He even almost panicked, wondering if Jake's parents had somehow managed to tell his, but quickly dismissed that thought, knowing that his parents would be already here by now if they knew such a thing.
They made their way downstairs and into the lounge, where Alan and Jenny were sitting. Normally, Alan would always have the long sofa to himself and Jenny had her own chair, but right now they were sitting together on the sofa, like some kind of judging panel. The boys went and sat down on the carpet a few feet away, and both got into the cross legged position. The room was silent.
"So, how long have you known you were gay, Jake?" Alan blurted out, smashing the silence.
"ALAN!" hissed Jenny, slapping her husband on the knee. The answer to Cody's question in Jake's bedroom had certainly been answered then; there was no doubt there, anymore. "I think what your father meant to say was… how are you feeling?"
Jake was turning all shades of red now and Cody wasn't far behind. "Do we really have to talk about this?" Jake asked, staring at the floor, picking at the carpet. Jenny, unsure how to continue the conversation, looked at Alan for support, but found none. She knew she was on her own, and tried to pick her words carefully. Adjusting herself in her seat, she began to speak.
"I think that you did a really brave thing today, you know…coming out to us."
"Well, it's not like I had a choice, was it?" Jake said with an edge, shooting a frowned look at Cody. Cody just looked at him and shrugged.
"Well, I have spoken to your father, as you have probably worked out," nudging Alan as she spoke, "And we are….ok with it, aren't we, Alan?" She glared at him, silently begging him to agree.
"Uh, well…listen, Jake, I was really shocked when your mum told me in the car, but you know what? We thought we were going to lose you at one point, so… I guess what I'm trying to say is that just having you here with us, alive, who cares if you're gay, straight or whatever."
Jake just stared at his parents. He couldn't believe how they had taken the whole gay thing. He had run literally hundreds of different scenarios through his head over the years about how this day was going to go. Yeah, some were good, but some were just damn right ugly. He actually wondered why he had put off telling them for so long. The room was silent again until Cody, suddenly fidgeting in a very excited way, turned to Jake and gushed…
"Your parents are so fucking cool."
"Cody, language!" Jenny cried.
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