“Oh my god. It’s a WildSpartanz!” Jamie yelled as Brandon came into his line of sight which led Brandon to laugh and wave at the smaller man.
“Hi,” Brandon said, wrapping Jamie in a hug and kissing his forehead. “I missed your dumb face.”
Jamie laughed, holding Brandon tightly in his embrace. Sure, it had only been six months since they had seen each other but six months is too long when were hopelessly in love.
“Mom is so excited to meet you. She hasn’t shut up about you since I mentioned that you were visiting,” Jamie said, slowly detangling himself from Brandon’s arms and leaning up on the tops of his toes to kiss Brandon quickly on the lips.
“I’m excited to meet her,” Brandon said, placing his hand in his boyfriend’s hand. “She seems like a nice lady.”
“She is,” Jamie’s smile and leaned to his boyfriend’s touch. “Ready?”
If Brandon learned anything from his first ten minutes in a car with Jamie, it was that Jamie failed his driver’s test three times for a good reason. He had no understanding of speed limits or really that other people wanted to live when they got out of the car.
His neighborhood was nice, suburban area where soccer moms and mother’s with the “May I speak to the manager haircut?” lived. There was no way that Jamie actually lived here. But before he could question why they were going through this neighborhood, he pulled into a driveway of a nice two story house.
The house was white with a nice manicured lawn. The only thing it lacked was a picket fence and a golden retriever for it to fit the “All American Dream” house. It didn’t seem like the type of house that Jamie would live in.
“Welcome to my house,” Jamie said, putting the car in park and taking his keys out. “It’s not much, but it fits all of us surprisingly.”
“It’s nice,” Brandon said, opening his door, “bigger than my house.”
Jamie laughed and got out of the car, following Brandon to the back of the car to grab his bags. He seemed nervous walking into the house, but Brandon placing his hand in his hand and squeezing his hand a little bit seemed to calm his boyfriend’s anxiety.
Their house was beautiful. Two story. Beautiful interior with a larger fireplace in the front room. Photos of Jamie as a child with his mother, his brothers and a man Brandon didn’t recognize lined the walls. There were photos of Jamie in his cap and gown from his graduation and photos of who Brandon assumed was his older brother also from his graduation.
“Mom,” Jamie yelled, “I’m back! Brandon’s here!”
Brandon had placed his bag down in the foyer, still holding onto Jamie’s hand as he dragged him to the kitchen where his mother was.
Jamie’s mother looked surprisingly like Jamie. They had the same small frame, similar build with the same brown curly hair. She seemed exactly like the woman that would comfort her son when he cried about coming out and also cried when she hung a gay flag outside their front door.
“Hi mom,” the smaller man said, going up to his mom and kissing her cheek. “I wanted to introduce you to Brandon real quick.”
The woman, who had been eyeing Brandon since he had awkwardly followed his boyfriend into a kitchen that seemed too expensive for Brandon to even be standing in, came up to Brandon and wrapped him in a hug and placed a kiss on his cheek.
“Welcome to the family, Brandon,” she smile and stepped back from the hug, “James has told me so much about you.”
“Mom!” The blush that was evident on Brandon’s cheeks was reflected also on his boyfriend’s.
“Thank you ma’am. I’ve been excited about this trip for months,” Brandon laughed a bit, mostly at the flustered Jamie, “by the way, your son is the only one to kiss my cheek.”
“No! Brandon shush!”
Something about how Jamie was acting and how flustered he was at the thought of his mother kissing his boyfriend’s cheek made both Brandon and his mother laugh. This seemed normal. As if this wasn’t the first time that Jamie had brought a boy home. As if this wasn’t the first time that Jamie had been so hell bent on making sure Brandon met his family.
“Jamie stop ordering your boyfriend around,” his mother giggled, “and Brandon, there is no need for you to be formal with me. Just call me Sue Ann or whatever makes you the most comfortable. Now go unpack and relax. I’ll make dinner once Martin gets home from work.”
That was just the first round of awkward introductions that would make Jamie flustered and Brandon feel somewhat awkward. He knew that Jamie had two brothers, one two years older than him and one almost eight years younger. He knew that this trip was going to be full of very awkward introductions and awkward conversations before Brandon could fully get used to the normal way of life here. So far, it was way different than Brandon’s own home life.
Everyone in this house seemed to function together, yet separate. They led their own lives, yet they still had dinner together and by the looks of it, lived together too. The uniqueness of it made Brandon feel as if he was doing something exciting.
They had gone back to the foyer to pick up Brandon’s bags and Jamie had rushed him off before he could start to ask any questions about the photos of the walls. They had gone up the stairs and now his boyfriend was standing awkwardly in front of a door covered in fan art from his channel.
“Okay, so, my room is a bit of a mess,” Jamie said, laughing a bit under his breath, “but not messy in the sense that it’s disorganized. More like I just get bored. You’ll see. Hold on.”
And then he opened the door to show the room to Brandon.
On the right side of the room was his computer set up, with the desk, his laptop and his monitors that were open to show that his background was a photo he and Brandon had took when they were in Colorado together. On the left side, his bed was tucked against the wall and neatly made with grey sheets covering the queen sized bed. There was a stack of pillows and the stuffed elephant that Brandon had given him was sitting in the center.
But the walls were what drew Brandon’s attention away first. On every wall, except the one that looked like it was used for recording, there were hundreds of paintings. They each seemed to be different. There were a few that looked like the commentary crew’s icons. There were a few scattered about that looked like Jamie and Brandon, either from dates or from other things.
“This all your art?” Brandon asked, shocked.
“Yeah,” Jamie admitted, bashfully, “when I get bored, I paint a lot and I love to paint our memories or memories with friends. I never really told you guys about it. I wasn’t sure how you would take it.”
“I love it, Jamie. Holy shit this is amazing.” Brandon’s eyes were still locked on all the drawings, until one specifically caught his eye. It looked like Brandon and Jamie cuddling looking at the stars, like they had been six months ago in that field. “Is this from that time we went stargazing?” He asked, pointing at a painting that had what looked like both of them cuddling and then the stars shining above them.
“Yeah,” Jamie stuttered, looking at the ground, “I painted it once I got home. It was my favourite thing from that trip.”
Brandon laughed and pulled Jamie to his side and kissed his head, adoring the way his boyfriend giggled and tried to hide the blush on his cheeks. “I love it. I love all of them.”
“I’m glad you do,” Jamie smiled and hugged Brandon. “Come on, Martin should be home soon and I am honestly starving.”
Jamie’s family was unique. Lucas and Jamie both looked surprisingly like their mother, bearing the same curly brown hair and hazel eyes. Martin, on the other hand, looked more like the man Brandon had seen in the photo. He was taller than his brothers and had darker hair and eyes, but he still had the same distinct high cheekbones and body structure as his younger siblings.
Jamie, however, looked the most like his mother. Similar almond shaped eyes. Similar shaped face and similar mannerisms. He had soft freckles lining his cheeks and some dusting his nose and his lips were soft and beautiful. Brandon thought he was the most beautiful man alive. The curly brown hair that brushed his shoulders. His soft skin that he knew Jamie hated because of the scars, but Brandon couldn’t care less. Brandon cared more about the way his lips turned into a smile. Brandon cared more about the way his laugh made his day.
They were cuddled together on the couch, watching whatever Lucas had wanted to watch. Brandon let Jamie snuggle against him, loving how his boyfriend automatically took the chance to make himself comfortable.
“What’re you thinking about dummy? You have that spaced out look on your face,” his boyfriend asked before kissing him lightly on the cheek.
“The most beautiful person in the world,” Brandon said which caused Jamie to laugh and kiss him again. Something about the innocence of the situation made Brandon treasure it even more. It could have been the way Jamie was looking at him like he had created the world for him. Or it could have been the way that he was gently playing with Brandon’s hands while watching the show. Whatever it was, it made Brandon’s heart fill with love.
“I’m home!” A voice rang out in the foyer as the front door slammed. “Jamie, who taught you how to park? You suck at it.”
“I’m gay,” Jamie called back, “what did you expect?”
“I’d expect you to learn to drive.” Martin walked into the living room and stood against the door frame. “Jamie - you didn’t have to hire some random guy to cuddle you. If you didn’t have a boyfriend, you don’t have to hire some guy to act like it.”
“Oh fuck you, Martin!” Jamie yelled sitting up, but still remaining cuddled in Brandon’s lap. “At least I have someone to cuddle me. Unlike you.”
“Sure you do, Jamie, sure you do. Also don’t curse in front of Lucas. Mom would be so disappointed.”
“He has to see your face everyday. I’m sure he’s fine. But Brandon is my boyfriend. Brandon meet Martin. Martin meet Brandon.”
“Hi Brandon, I am sorry if Jamie is paying you to sit there and look pretty. But nice to meet you.” Martin waved at Brandon with a small smile on his face.
“Hi,” Brandon said back with a small wave.
“MARTIN! JAMIE!” Their mother yelled, storming into the room, “What have I said about cursing around your brother?”
“Not to do it. Look Martin started it,” Jamie argued.
“Shush,” their mother scolded. “Dinner will be ready soon. Lucas, go set the table for all of us. Make sure Brandon has a place beside Jamie.”
“Is daddy coming for dinner tonight?” Lucas asked.
Tension hung in the air as the younger boy asked the question. Brandon could feel his boyfriend tense up in his arms.
“No. Just the four of us. Go set the table. Martin, come help me finish up dinner. You two go wash up. Lucas apologise to your brother.”
Martin nodded silently and then followed his mother to the kitchen. Lucas stood up from his position coloring on the ground and ran to Jamie and hugged his arm.
“I’m sowwy Jamie,” the younger boy said.
“It’s okay Lucas,” Jamie hugged his brother back. “Now go set the table.”
Brandon sat up and wrapped his arms fully around his boyfriend as he started to sniffle and wipe at his eyes.
“Jamie, what’s wrong?” He asked as he kissed his cheek.
“I’ll tell you later Brandon. Just - just not right now.” Jamie leaned his head against Brandon, before he turned his body around to fully allow himself to cry into Brandon’s shoulder. There weren’t many tears, but there were hot tears leaking down Jamie’s cheeks. One of Brandon’s hands went to run through Jamie’s hair in the way he knew that comforted him.
Sometimes words weren’t needed in between them, and this was one of those times. Eventually Jamie sat up, wiped his eyes slightly, and attempted to compose himself.
“Come on,” Jamie said, standing up off the couch, “let’s go get washed up. Before mom kills us both for not washing up.”
Dinner was peaceful and full of laughs. Jamie was obviously still shaken after what had happened earlier, but he hid it well. Brandon enjoyed talking and getting to know his future family that he (hopefully) would be marrying into. Martin was a college student studying criminal law at a local university. Lucas liked science and drawing. He was proud to say that he was in first grade, which caused a giggle around the table because he couldn’t quite pronounce the word “first”.
“I wanna daw like Jammie does,” the youngest sibling said, a smile wide on his face, showing off his missing two front teeth. “I like dawing with him.”
Brandon giggled a bit as his boyfriend and his boyfriend’s older brother laughed at Lucas’s mispronouncing of words.
“I’m pretty sure his name is Jaime not Jammie,” Martin laughed and messed up his brother’s hair.
That is what caused the table to erupt into laughter. But once the laughter died down, a silence fell over the table. Jamie shared a look with his mother before his mother broke the silence.
“Lucas,” his mother said, “can you please go upstairs for around ten minutes. The adults need to talk.”
“But I don’t wanna,” pouted the youngest member of the family.
“Lucas. That wasn’t up for discussion. Please go upstairs.”
While the younger boy went upstairs, Jamie scooted his chair closer to Brandon and leaned his head against Brandon’s shoulder.
“Jamie, have you told Brandon about your father?” His mother asked, which caused Jamie to screw his eyes shut and shook his head. Brandon wrapped his arm around his boyfriend and kissed his head. Placing a small kiss on his head before looking up at the other two.
“What about his father,” Brandon asked, unaware of the door he was about to open.
“Mom,” Martin interrupted before she could continue. “Do you think Jamie can take this? Look at him, he’s barely holding it together now.”
Sue Ann sighed and shook her head. “We need to tell Brandon about him. I don’t want to hide that from him.”
Brandon could feel Jamie squeeze his eyes shut and shake his head, as if he was trying to shake away memories. He kissed his head and pulled him close enough that Jamie could wrap both of his arms around Brandon.
“Before I tell you this, I don’t even know the full extent of what happened. Christ, I’m only finding out about this myself. James suffered a lot at the hands of his father. The way he treated James was horrible and we’re just now finding out about the extent of it.
“James’s father was a disgusting and horrible man. When we first had Martin, things were going well. He was never a really nice man, but I looked past it because I thought he would be a good father for our children. He had always wanted a big family so when I became pregnant with Jamie, things started to go down hill.
“James has always been an artistic child. It’s in his blood. His father used to tell at him. He used to call him a faggot and a disgrace for for liking art. That was just the beginning of the verbal abuse.”
She was interrupted by a muffled sob from Jamie as he began to cry into Brandon’s chest. Brandon placed a soft kiss on forehead and slowly began to rock him back and forth. He could see Martin shake his head and wipe his eyes as tears formed in his eyes.
“Mom, don’t make Jamie listen to this again. Look at him,” Martin nearly begged. His mother just grabbed his hand and started again.
“I just thought that he was verbally abusing him, so I tried to support him in everything he did. But I guess there was more that was happening in the background that none of knew about. Verbal abuse escalated to physical abuse. And it went on for years. Jamie said that the abuse started when he was eleven. Eleven. When he had first started at his art school.
“I really cannot tell you what the full extent of the abuse was. When Jamie began questioning his sexuality, his father beat him with a glass bottle over his head. When Jamie would bring his art home to finish, his father would bang his head against table. He hid the abuse. He hid the pain. When he was thirteen, his father found his sketchbook that was hidden under his mattress. He burned it and when Martin was still at school, and I was at work, he held his head over the fire and told him that if he did anymore of that ‘queer shit’ he would kill him in the way that his art died. In the fire.
“He hid it all from me. And I feel horrible for never noticing the cuts or the scars. Lucas was three when he saw Jamie get hit for the first time. He didn’t know. He didn’t say anything. The only time I ever found out about it was when I found some glass shattered in the kitchen.
“I had never seen Jamie cry so hard when he told me everything. Hell, even I cried. I held onto him in the kitchen and cried with him. When his father came home, I screamed at him and yelled my heart out. The cops were called. His father is never coming back. That was two years ago. Last year when he met you, I had never seen him laugh or smile so much ever since. But still. I don’t think he ever healed.”
Jamie was still crying against his chest, his tears soaking through Brandon’s shirt. He could also hear Martin sniffling from across the table. Tears were slightly falling from Brandon’s eyes too. Just hearing his love sob against his chest like he was made his heart break into a million pieces.
“Jamie is there anything you want to say?”
Jamie shook his head no and clung onto Brandon tighter.
“Does Lucas know,” Brandon asked, hoping in his heart that the younger boy wasn’t abused like his brother before him.
“Yes. And his response was “good. He was mean to Jammie anyway.” Martin said while wiping away his tears.
Brandon was stroking Jamie’s hair and attempting to comfort him and not sob.
“I-I need to be excused, please,” Jamie said before he got up and ran out of the dining room. They could hear his footsteps dart up the stairs. Brandon hung his head and cringed slightly at sound of Jamie’s door slamming shut.
Silence fell over the table before Brandon spoke up.
“I’m so sorry that your husband was such a horrible man, miss. I know it was never your fault and I could never blame you. He couldn’t love Jamie - my Jamie - for the person that he is. Some people break under the pressure of making a ‘perfect” child. Pardon my language, but what he did was fucking disgusting. Beyond shitty. I don’t know much about him, or the situation, or the reasoning but I just want you to know that I love Jamie for who he is. I love your son with every bit of my heart and soul. I would never do something like that to him. I’ll do anything to protect him and … and I hope you’re okay with that.” By the end of his little ramble, Brandon was almost in tears and the two members of his boyfriend’s family were sobbing.
In between tears, Martin managed to get out the phrase, “You’re a fucking fantastic kid Brandon. Fucking fantastic.” Brandon was brought to tears at their obvious display of love. Through the abuse and the pain, they had seen Jamie through hell and back. But now, things were going good for him. He sniffled wiped his eyes.
“I’ll show you up to Jamie’s room.”
Martin led Brandon up the stairs and stopped in front of his brother’s closed door. Before Brandon could realise what was going on, he felt Martin’s arms around his shoulders.
“Thank you,” Martin mumbled.
“For what?” Brandon hugged him back slightly awkwardly.
“For making my brother happy again.” Martin let go of him and walked off to his room, stopping at his younger brother’s room to tell him to go downstairs to see his mother.
Brandon quietly opened up Jamie’s door, seeing the younger man holding onto his sweatshirt and half asleep on the bed. He sat down on the bed, causing his boyfriend to slightly sit up.
“Can I lie down with you?” Which only got a nod from Jamie. He laid down beside him and pulled him close to his body. He pulled the smaller man’s body closer to him and placed a small kiss on his head.
“I love you, so much. I know you know that. Everything is gonna be okay now. I ain’t gonna let anyone hurt you no more,” Brandon whispered as Jamie curled into his body and reacted to the small kisses Brandon was placing on his head.
“Wanna wear my sweatshirt tonight to bed?” Brandon’s soft question made Jamie nod with enthusiasm as Brandon helped him slip the sweatshirt over his head, before pulling back the sheets to climb in bed with him. He slowly pulled him into a kiss and pulled him close to his body.
“I love you,” Jamie mumbled and grabbed onto the stuffie that Brandon had got him before cuddling closely to his body and placing a soft kiss on his lips.
“I love you more.”