Gabe never really understood why. Or better how. And all the things in between.
When he first arrived at their beach house, it was like something was off the moment he sat foot in it. He couldn’t describe it but it felt weird and how Shaun dragged him back in when all he wanted was to sit on the balcony… he should have known then. Known for what his brother’s lies stood. And he wasn’t really good at it. But Gabe understood that Shaun and Zack didn’t want to be discovered back then.
He knew for what it was the moment he saw Zack in the kitchen frying burgers. The way he was off, the way he wasn’t surprised seeing him back already…the way he felt awkward and most of all things, Gabe knew that shirt all too well. It had been his birthday present for Shaun. Okay all it could have been was a shirt being borrowed but Zack looked guilty when he commented on it.
The thing is, Gabe was more okay with it than Zack was. He knew why Zack hadn’t stayed long while he shared stories from years ago. He also noticed his brother going after him. It wasn’t quiet that subtle as they had wished it to be.
It was that morning after the party that Gabe confronted his brother about the exchange in Zack’s car: “Hey bro, what’s with you and Zack anyways?”
“Nothing,” Shaun had lied and Gabe laughed, shook his head and grinned: “So you finally after all these years of eying him got him?”
“It’s not that easy Gabe. You know him best. He’s unsure, not only his fault but Jeanie’s and his responsibility for Cody. Last night he told me it was over. That he doesn’t know if he wants this for good. Now tell me, what am I supposed to do?” Shaun had asked him and Gabe had known Zack best for a long time but wasn’t so sure about it anymore. Was that really Zack they talked about? Yeah, Zack had troubles with Jeanie and their Dad, he loved and cared for Cody. But that didn’t change him all too much, right?
“Give him time. If he really wants you he needs time. You forget that you’re his first guy to be with and its not that easy given that most people will judge him. Probably have. Thus its confusing. I remember the first time you got home drunk and complaining you’re not totally into this guy but you slept with him anyways and you were confused for days. But remind you, you were fifteen, he’s twenty-two and to realize something like this might be hard. You grew up being used to it, not a whole night change.”
“How did I earn a brother so smart? But I don’t even know if he loves me enough to leave his life behind… you know he cares about his family,” Shaun sighed and Gabe shook his head: “Give him a bit. Tell Tori, ask her for help. She knows better than me what’s going on. But I’m on my way visiting him anyways.”
Shaun nodded and Gabe left. He knew where Zack was at this early an hour. It hurt him that Zack hadn’t stayed like he used to. He probably thought Gabe would hate him. But Gabe didn’t. Granted he played the happy brother in front of Shaun but he too was confused and a bit worried what might happen. It wasn’t easy on him that in case something went wrong, he had to be the one living between them. But he in a way was okay with Shaun and Zack. Better than Shaun and any random guy who he totally disliked. And Zack too couldn’t meet someone he could trust more.
When he went inside the shop and dropped his head on the bar he felt how much he really had drunk last night and no amount of serious conversation could keep that at bay. Maybe prevent it from showing a bit earlier.
The whole conversation was a disaster. He could feel Zack putting up walls between them and how he tried to shy away, to not be spoken to about that subject at all. But he was Gabe after all and he bugged Zack, trying to show him he was interested in his life, still was there as a friend and that nothing changed. That they still could talk about their sex lives like they used to, though it was weird to know about your brother’s sex life. Well, Zack was a brother to him, too. Which made it weirder. Didn’t matter in any case.
Zack refused to meet his eyes and had to be manhandled into a proper hug. Gabe then could only hope for them.
He wanted them to be together. They were perfect together. And that Zack brought in a kid into their newfound relationship was bonus for Shaun because that was the main reason why Shaun and his ex broke it off. Shaun had wanted a kid and that asshole hadn’t. Add that there were a few problems between them and Shaun moved on.
He knew it would take a bit and when Shaun called him and told him about the application he had sent in for Zack, Gabe knew Zack was now able and ready to go for it. Zack never told him that he declined the first chance at that full ride but Gabe knew. Had gone up to CalArts and demanded to know what happened that Zack wasn’t going. They told him he had turned it down due to personal reasons.
The last call he got from Shaun for a while was the day he was ready to move into his new home. He had packed already and would be leaving in a few hours. Gabe knew he had to call Zack.
“Zack, he’s leaving in a few hours. If you really want to see him leave, do what you want today but I’m telling you he’ll understand, he’ll want you back. Its up to you man.”
“I know that Gabe. I think…I think I am ready this time. Besides Jeanie is leaving for Portland and she’s leaving Cody with me. I’m not able to watch over him alone and you know that I can’t stay with Dad. Plus, your brother sent my application to CalArts and I got in. But that’s not the main reason why I want to do this. I know I want him, us, for good now. It took me a while to figure it out though. You really think he wants me back?”
Gabe had laughed and answered: “You know the answer. Now go before you’ll miss him.”
It was hours later that Gabe got a message from Shaun: “Zack and Cody are with me now. Thanks bro, you were right about waiting. Talk soon”
Gabe was glad that they both were happy. Have been for a few years now. Had what they wanted and no one here cared about their relationship. Cody run in between the guests and eyed everyone who bought one of the paintings. Life was good in a way.