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Coming Clean

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I knew as I was getting fixed up in the hospital, thinking about Adrien, that I was done. Done with the double life, the lies - both to myself, and everyone else. It seemed ridiculous now that I had ever thought I could do this - pretend to be straight to the world with the perfect heterosexual life when deep down, I’d always known that was a lie. I’d even told myself - told Adrien - that I liked women. Sure I did; I loved Kate. But not like that, not the way I liked men and especially not the way I love Adrien. Maybe if I hadn’t fallen in love with Adrien years ago, but I had. I couldn’t keep pretending, not when all of this had nearly cost Adrien his life.

What if it had? What if my lies had gotten him killed? Regardless of whether he would ever forgive me, and I didn’t know if he would, if he had died, I would never have forgiven myself. He had been right all along, and I could have saved myself - and Kate - a lot of heartbreak if I would have listened to him a long time ago. Been braver, been able to tell people what was going on between us, that I was a homosexual. But I hadn’t and look where it had gotten me?

I got what I wanted - the perfect life, with the perfect woman. And I was fucking miserable and had been since the moment I had pushed Adrien out of my life.

I couldn’t do it anymore. I was done. Adrien had been right about everything, and I had been a fool to think I could keep up this charade forever. 

I was sitting on our couch in our house - Kate and I’s house, that we had been living in for years. I heard the door open and close, and her footsteps as she walked up. “Jake! How are you doing?” she asked. “Are you feeling okay?” She knew me well enough to know that something was wrong.

“Sit down. We need to talk.” I knew how my voice sounded, and I could almost feel how worried she was without even looking at her. 

Kate came to sit down next to me, putting a gentle arm around me. “What’s wrong, honey? Talk to me.”

What was I going to tell her first? That I wanted a divorce or that I was homosexual? Her touch felt like it was burning me, knowing she loved me and was only trying to comfort me made this all worse. “I’m quitting the force.”

“What? Why? Is this about what happened?” she asked. “Because you’re a great cop, it doesn't matter -”

“Yes, it is. It’s the right thing to do,” I told her. There was no point in leaving it up for discussion because I was about to drop another bombshell on her. “There’s more.” A confused look crossed her face. “We need a divorce.” So, that’s what I was going to tell her first. The words had come out of my mouth before I even realized what I was saying.

Kate froze, and her hand left my shoulders. “What?” Her voice was hard, a slight edge to it. “Jake, I know that things have been hard since we lost the baby, but -”

“Yes, it has, but it’s not that,” I said, interrupting her. “Kate, I’m - I’m homosexual.” 

I spared a glance at her and saw the fear in her eyes. “That’s not funny.” Her voice had an icy tone to it.

“It’s not a joke.” I had never done this before; I hadn’t even thought about it. I didn’t want to hurt her, but that was inevitable, wasn’t it? “I’m gay.”

“You can’t just - we’ve been together for a long time. You can’t just now have realized this.”

“I haven’t,” I admitted. “I’ve known for a long time. I just didn’t want to admit it.”

Kate was silent for a moment. “How long?”

I sighed. “I don’t know, but… longer than I’ve known you. I just… I hated what I was, so I convinced myself that I still liked women, that I was attracted to them, but… I’m not.”

Kate stood up, and I looked up at her. There was fury and pain on her face. I hated that I’d done this to her; she didn’t deserve it. “So, what, this was all some joke to you? You’ve just been faking it this whole time? Every time we made love, you were just pretending? Going through the motions?”

“No, I - I wanted this,” I admitted, the pain evident in my voice. “You have no idea how badly I’ve wanted this, our entire life. It's everything I ever thought I wanted, but... I can’t keep pretending anymore. I’m not straight, and I never will be. Keeping this up isn’t fair to either of us.” I couldn’t even respond to her comments about us making love, because I wanted to say it wasn’t true. That was the point, though, wasn’t it? It was true. If I enjoyed being with her, truly been satisfied with us and our sex life, I never would have needed to go anywhere else.

“Not fair?” Kate’s voice was dangerous, and there were tears in her eyes. I hated this.

“There’s more.” I had a feeling she was going to say more, so I needed to cut her off and keep going. Since I was being honest, I needed to tell her everything. I owed her that much at least.

“More? How could there possibly be -” Kate stopped, and a look of realization crossed her face. Her eyes narrowed. “Who is he?”

I felt my heart drop out of my chest. I wondered how much I should tell her. There was a lot more in my past other than Adrien. “His name is Adrien,” I told her.

“Wait, Adrien - that Adrien?” she asked. “Adrien English?” I nodded. “How long? How long have you been fucking around behind my back? And you say you wanted this?” Her voice rose, and I could tell she didn’t believe me. Hell, I didn’t blame her. I was an idiot for fooling myself - and her, and everyone else - for this long.

“I did. It was all before we got married - well, most of it. There were a couple of times recently.” It was little conciliation for her; I knew that. “Look, before that, before I met you, I'm a member of a club. It’s where I went when… I needed to. I tried to tell myself for years that it was just sex; it didn’t mean anything. And it worked for a long time. I was still going to it when I met you and started dating you but then… I met Adrien on the Landis case three years ago.” I held up a hand before she could speak. “I was with him for ten months, and for most of that, I wasn’t with anyone else. I broke up with him that Christmas when you told me you were pregnant. I went back to the club after we got married.”

Kate didn’t speak; she had her arms crossed over her chest. Tears were streaming down her cheeks, and I felt tears stinging my eyes, too. I hated that look in her eyes. She was in so much pain, and it was all my fault. “Until recently, I hadn’t seen him again, I swear.”

“But you’re in love with him.” It was a statement, not a question. I nodded. Kate stepped towards me, and the next moment, she backhanded me across the face. I didn’t react; it was no less than I deserved for cheating on her and lying to her for all these years. “We had a life, Jake. We had plans. You could have saved us a lot of heartbreak right now by being fucking honest with yourself. Now, look! I wasted the best years of my life with you! And you cheated on me, and still, you try to explain it like it makes it all okay?” She backhanded me again, and I could feel her shaking.

“I’m sorry, Katie,” I said. “I really am. For everything. I wanted this to work; I really did. I thought this was everything I ever wanted, but I just… can’t pretend I can keep lying to myself, and lying to you. I’m homosexual, and no amount of lying and wishing is going to change that.”

She backhanded me again and turned and walked off. “Don’t come upstairs.” There was so much pain in her voice. She was right. I had been an idiot and an asshole for doing this to her, to Adrien, and to myself. This had been a long time coming.

I walked over to the stairs. “I’m going out; I need to tell my family.” I heard the door slam. I sighed as I wiped the tears from my eyes. I had a feeling she heard me. I had more people I needed to tell about this.

~~~~~~~~~~

Driving with hand one was manageable, though I was careful as I drove over to my parent's house. They wanted to have dinner after what had happened, and I told them I would come by. I knew once she calmed down, she’d probably call Brenna. That meant that Neal, my younger brother, would probably know before I could get a chance to go over there. That was fine; saved me another conversation.

I took a deep breath before getting out of the car and steeling myself for the onslaught ahead as I knocked on the door. My mother answered the door. “James! We’re glad you came,” she said, ushering me inside. “How is your shoulder?”

I shrugged. “I’ll live. Look, where’s dad? I need to talk to the two of you.”

“Oh, he’s in the living room. Come on, dear.” She lead me into the living room, where my father was sitting, watching TV. He smiled as we came into the room.

“James! Great to see you. How are you doing?” He gestured to the couch. I sat down there, and my mother sat in the armchair next to my dad. 

"What did you want to talk to us about?” My mom asked. “You seem upset. Is something wrong?”

They adored Kate; everyone did. Hell, I did. She was amazing, and I had wished I was the person she wanted me to be; that I had wanted me to be. But I wasn’t, and that was no longer what I wanted or what I needed. I decided to start with the other thing first. “I’m quitting the force.”

They both gasped. “What?” my dad asked the same time as my mom asked, “But you loved being a cop!”

“I did, but it’s the right thing to do,” I said. “It’s what I need to do.” They exchanged a look, and I knew they didn’t understand, but I didn’t want to go into details about that. That wasn’t what I was here. “Kate and I are getting a divorce.”

They both looked at me in shock, and I wasn’t sure if I should start leading with the other part. It was my dad who spoke first. “Look, son, I know losing the baby was hard, but it’s not a reason to give up on a perfectly good -”

“I’m a homosexual.” My dad stopped talking and looked at me like I’d said I’d killed someone, instead of just being gay. So I repeated myself. “I’m a homosexual.” 

“No, you’re not,” My dad said as plain as day. As if just by him saying it, he could wish that it wasn’t true; that this conversation wasn’t happening.

“Yes, I am.”

“You can’t be -”

“Why, because you don’t want me to be?” I asked, hearing the edge in my voice. “That’s not how it works.”

“Honey,” my mom said, her voice slow and careful. “I think you’re just… confused, I mean, you’ve dated a lot of women over the years, ever since you were a teenager. You would have -”

“I did. I have known for years, and I have slept with a lot of guys,” I said, not liking the stony look my father was giving me or the shocked one my mother was. I forged ahead because I could not and would not go back now. “I tried to tell myself that it didn’t mean anything, that I still liked women and could have a long, happy life with Kate. I wanted that, but… not anymore. I was fooling myself and fooling her, and I can’t keep going on like this.”

Of course, my dad only picked up on one part of this. “But if you wanted this -”

“I did. I thought I did, anyway, but I was lying to myself,” I told him. I was frustrated; my hands were balled into fists. “And it’s not fair to Kate to keep her trapped in a marriage that will never be what either of us needs.”

“But dear,” my mother said, “maybe you and Katie could just - I mean, you’ve spent so many years with her, how could -”

“Because I am a homosexual,” I said each word slowly, enunciating for effort. I heard my voice rising with every word. My mom jerked back in shock, and my dad continued to sit there, that stony look on his face. I hated that look; seeing that look as a kid always meant I was in trouble. “You can try to explain it all you want, but no amount of wishing is ever going to change the fact that I, your son, am a homosexual.”

“You’re forty-three years old, James,” his said, his voice hard. 

“Yes, I am, which means I have lived too long in the closet living a double-life to go back now,” I told them. 

“You are not a fag.”

“The fuck I’m not,” I told him, feeling my temper rising. “You can hate it all you want, but nothing will change the fact.”

“Guys like you are not fags.”

“Guys like me?” I heard the anger in my voice. If he wasn’t my father, I would have punched him right there. Instead, I kept my hands balled at my sides. Hadn’t I said similar things to Adrien in the past? He had tried to tell me that there was no changing it. “Well, I am gay, so you can take it or leave it, but it’s not going to change.”

“You can’t be married to a woman like Kate and be gay.”

“Yes, you fucking can, because I am.” I was practically yelling now, and my mother flinched at the volume of my voice.

“Keep your voice down, and don’t swear at me,” my father said, sounding like he was berating me for breaking curfew.

“James, maybe you just need some time -” my mother began to say, but I stood up, and she stopped speaking. It was clear that they weren’t going to say anything else, that I was not going to get the reaction I’d wanted.

“No, I don't need time.” My voice was flat and emotionless. “I’ve had plenty of that.”

“What are people going to say?” My dad asked. “What are we supposed to tell people?”

My eyes narrowed. “Who cares? Tell them that your son came out as homosexual because it’s the truth.” That did not seem to be the answer he wanted. I had hoped this would go better, but I knew it wouldn’t. After all, where had I gotten all my self-hatred from? I knew, and as much as I wished for another reaction, I was not getting one. I felt tears stinging my eyes, and the urge to take out my anger and frustration on something. I started walking towards the door and left without another word.

~~~~~~~~~~

I had known it was going to be hard; I’d heard the stories about people coming out, and deep down, I’d known that my parents wouldn’t understand. I had hoped to at least get a half decent reaction out of them, something that says they might come around… maybe they were hoping I would back down, say it was a lie or that I was wrong... I couldn’t stop now, though. I refused to go back and continue lying.

After hitting the steering wheel a few times in frustration, I turned the car on and drove away. I headed towards Neal’s house. A few minutes later, I pulled up in the driveway. I saw both Neal’s and Brenna’s cars in the driveway. Let’s get this over with, I thought to myself as I got out of the car.  I walked up to the door and knocked. It was Neal that answered the door. I knew by the look on his face that he already knew.

“Kate called Brenna,” I said flatly.

Neal nodded, leading me inside. “I just… can’t believe it. I mean… are you sure?”

I looked at him in disbelief. “You think I would tell Kate that I need a divorce because I’m a homosexual if I wasn’t sure?”

“You’ve been together for years, James, how can you just suddenly think that -”

“I haven’t. It’s not sudden, not for me,” I admitted. “I’ve known for years, and not wanted to admit it.”

“What about Katie? You two had a good life together.” Neal looked at me as if he was trying to figure me out, trying to understand. “And you’re quitting the force, too?”

I nodded. “Yeah, I…” Compromised my morals, I thought to myself, but that’s not what I said. “It was the right thing to do. It was what I needed to do. As for Katie… I’m sorry I hurt her, I really am. I wanted this life that we had, but… I just can’t. It’s not who I really am. I’ve tried to be that person, and it made me fucking miserable.”

Neal was silent beside me. We were standing in the hallway, between the living room and kitchen. I heard the boys playing in their room, and Brenna’s voice floating from behind the bedroom door. “She’s really hurt,” was what my brother chose to say.

“And I’m not? I wish I hadn’t hurt her, I wish…” I sighed, thinking about Adrien. “There’s a lot of things I wish I could do differently, but I can’t.” It would have saved a lot of trouble if I would have been able to tell Kate and everyone about him, but I’d been so scared of coming out and what it might mean. Look where it had gotten me now.

“Have you told mom and dad yet?”

I nodded. “Yeah, I just got back from there. It - it didn’t go well.”

“It just… it seems all kinds of weird and sudden, I mean…” Neal shrugged his shoulders. “I mean, you quit the force, and you always wanted to be a cop, you were good at it, and now you say you think you’re gay, just -”

“I don’t think,” I said, a little edge to my voice. “I know. I am a homosexual.”

Neal just stood there; he didn’t seem to know what to say. “I just think… it’s going to take some time.”

At that moment, Brenna came out of the room, walking towards the kitchen. She gave a fierce glare. “How could you do this to Katie?”

“I’m gay.” She stared at me. “I lied to her and to myself,” I told her. “For a long time, I tried to hide who I was. I can’t do that anymore.” I felt like I kept repeating myself; maybe I should have gotten them all together and told them at the same time, but I wasn’t sure I could handle all that at once. Adrien had only needed to tell Lisa, and I couldn’t imagine her - loving, supportive, overbearing Lisa - saying any of the things that my family was saying to me.

“And cheating on her?” Brenna asked scathingly. “Do you know how awkward everything is going to be?”

“I told her I was sorry about that,” I said, “and I am. I’m sorry I couldn’t be faithful, that I couldn’t keep lying because she was never what I needed. I am a homosexual man. Even if I hadn’t fallen in love with Adrien, I would still be, and nothing will ever change that.” They were both silent. I just turned and walked towards the door. I didn’t want to hear what Brenna had to say, and neither of them tried to stop me. Was anyone going to at least try and be supportive? At this point, I didn’t think so. I had one more person to tell, and I didn’t think he was going to be understanding, either.

~~~~~~~~~~

I was walking to my car when I heard my phone go off. I grabbed it out of my pocket to see that it was a text message from my mother. We just need some time, dear. This is a lot. Yeah, it was a lot for me, too. None of them understood how hard this was for me. But how could they? Frustrated, I kicked the tires of my car before getting in. 

I drove over to the apartment that Danny and his girlfriend, Dusty, shared. My last trip. I was exhausted, and I didn’t want to do this. And I wanted to give Kate some time alone before going home. I’d probably sleep on the couch, too. I would do what I needed to do to make this as easy as possible for her. She deserved that at the very least.

I pulled up to Danny’s apartment building, found a guest parking spot, and made my way to his door. Danny was the youngest of my two brothers; he had always looked up to me. I had been fifteen when he was born; Neal was around Adrien’s age.

I knocked on the door. Danny answered quickly, a smile on his face. “Hey, James! How are you?” he asked, before seeing the look on my face. I was stressed after having this conversation twice.  “Is something wrong?”

“No, I just have something to tell you,” I said, and Danny let me in. “I’m quitting the force.”

A look of shock crossed his face. “What? Why? You loved being a cop, and you were great at it. I know some things have happened, but -”

I shook my head. “No, I need to do this. It was, but it’s the right decision. It’s time.” I knew he wouldn’t understand; he had worked hard to become a cop like the rest of our family. “But there’s more. I’m homosexual. Kate and I are getting a divorce.”

If Danny had been shocked before, he was even more shocked now. “Getting a divorce? Homosexual? But you two have been so happy together…”

“No, we haven’t - I mean, I haven’t been,” I told him. “I desperately wanted this to be real; I wanted that life with her, but… I can’t do it anymore. I can’t keep lying and pretending that I’m this perfect straight man with this perfect heterosexual life, because I’m… not. I never was, and I never will be.”

Danny was quiet. “I just… if you wanted that life with Kate, can’t you -”

“No, because that wouldn’t be fair to her or to myself.” I turned to look at him, and he looked as if he couldn’t figure out, as if he was trying to piece things together and they wouldn’t fit. “And I am not going back in the closet, not for anyone, not anymore.”

“You just don’t seem… gay.”

“But I am. You don’t have to ‘seem gay,’ because they’re different, every one of us,” I said, feeling a dagger in my heart as I remembered Adrien trying to tell me that years ago as I tried to make sense of why he was gay. But none of those reasons had ever explained me, but I had been too far in the closet, too scared, to admit it.

“I don’t understand -”

“You can’t understand. Because you’re straight.”

Danny was just standing there, looking at me. He didn’t even know what to say to me. “Nothing’s changed. I am the person I’ve always been. The only difference is that now you know.” After another moment of awkward silence, I left.

As I walked back to my car and drove off, I felt like a bit of weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had no idea if they would come around. I hoped they would, but I didn’t know, not for sure. There were LGBTQ people who got disowned by their family for being who they were. If that ended up being me, well… Then that’s how it was going to be. 

I had no idea if Adrien even cared about this; if it would still mean the same thing now as it had when we had been together. Regardless, I still knew I had done the right thing, no matter how hard it was.