Robin is pretty weary when he gets out his car, his face has faded bruises on which he won’t be able to hide, unlike the ones on his back. His leg is mostly healed and he hasn’t got any pain but he knows his parents are going to worry.
As soon as he steps through the door his mom envelopes him in a hug, he drops his bags and lets her, his dad comes through and joins in.
“How bad did the other guy look?” His dad asks letting him go.
“I’m not ashamed to say I ran, there were 3 of them.” Robin says.
“Animals, you’re not going back there.” His Mom says.
“I am going back for finals but how would you feel about me leaving at the end of semester?” Robin asks.
“We’ll need to run the numbers. Are you thinking of transferring or working or community college?” His dad asks.
“All. Work while taking some classes here. Then transfer once I have my associates.” Robin says.
“Stop, no big talks tonight. We’re just happy to have you home. You must be starving. Paul let the boy eat first.” Robin’s mom says ushering Robin into the kitchen.
“I’m really proud of you coming up with a sensible plan yourself.” Robin’s dad says.
“Thanks dad.Thanks Mom, yes I’m starving.” Robin says. His Mom ushers him into the kitchen and starts putting together a meal for him, he sits at the counter and watches her, very happy to be home. He feels a small pang of guilt for not being able to understand Blue’s homesickness earlier in the year as being here it hits him how much he’s missed home.
“Have you heard from Jenna?” Mom asks.
“Not really, we’ve grown so far apart since we broke up. Andy and Spence send their love. Spence is very happy to come to thanksgiving. I invited Blue too but he decided to stay at school.” Robin says changing the subject.
“Well I’d love to meet him. I’m sorry we couldn’t make it to parent’s weekend, your sisters have so much on.” Mom says.
“It’s okay. No one had parents visit. Gervais dad was going to then changed his mind and of course Spence’s parents were abroad. You’d have had to deal with all 5 of us if you had been there.” Robin laughs.
“Well they are all always welcome here. It sounds like Gervais and Blue, such funny names, fitted in to your group easily. I’m glad you’ve made some good friends.” Mom says.
“I have I’m really lucky to have them. I’m thinking of going on spring break with them even if I’m dropped out.” Robin says.
“You deserve a real spring break. We’re proud of you doing well and making mature decisions this semester. We’ll give you some money for a trip, don’t worry about that.” Mom says.
“Thanks, you’re the best Mom ever.” Robin says and hugs his mother, who is even smaller than he is.
“I also spoke to your cheer coach, he has a highlight reel ready for you and is happy to meet with you to work on a strategy if you want to cheer in school. He also suggested you work for him this summer at his camp but that won’t work out if you do summer school.” Mom says.
“Maybe it will, I can maybe do both.” Robin says.
“I’d like that. We let you have the summer off as we thought you needed a real rest before college but you’ll need to work going forward to get some experience.” Mom says.
“I know. I want to. I do appreciate having the rest last summer, I think that’s why I found this semester all the more frustrating. I was ready to work hard and then I didn’t have to. And none of the honors extras have come off yet. Well except the housing.” Robin says.
“Well you’ve stuck it out and are doing well in your classes. Those credits count even it if isn’t the education you need. How are the others coping?” Mom asks.
“Blue and Gervais are really good at studying beyond the material they can both write a paper because they want to not just for an assignment, they are such nerds but you’d never believe it to look at Blue. Spence has found his world, he’s really into coaching and is volunteering all over and taking classes that are prerequisites for what he wants to study. He is just happy study isn’t eating into his sports schedule. Andy has always been a bit lazy and is enjoying adjusting to college and being really social. I feel like the odd one out, I still want to be taught things, I’ve not found a passion.” Robin says.
“Is no one else the same as you?” Mom asks.
“Gervais boyfriend Jesse and Elliot are but they are both getting great aid and scholarships so feel they have to stay. I guess I’m lucky you guys are supporting me and giving me options.” Robin says.
“Well I never liked you cheering, you know that but after what happened to Spence with the wrestling team I’d rather you were in a sport that made you happy, with people who respect you.” Dad says coming in.
“Do I have to be in a sport at all?” Robin asks.
“No, of course not but its good if you are for mental health if nothing else.” Dad says.
“All my friends do climbing, indoor at school and some outdoor weekends. It’s not a team but its exercise and social.” Robin says wondering if he could stay at school and follow his friend’s example. Does he really miss cheer or does he miss having a hobby he loves?
“That sounds excellent. Why didn’t you join them?” Dad asks.
“I went to wrestling, it was at the same time.” Robin says.
“We all need to have a long think. What are the options? Community college to complete your associates then transfer somewhere, stick it out where you are and transfer directly somewhere else or take some time off and reapply to start over. Anything else?” Dad asks.
“Drop out altogether and get a job.” Robin laughs.
“Not on your life. It’s your choice, we’ll support you as long as you’ll be completing your education. Let’s enjoy the holiday and talk about it again on Friday.” Dad says.
“Okay. Just talking to Mom has given me some more to think about. I think how wrestling turned out contributed. I loved it to start with, no pressure, lots to learn but it just got weird when Spence won. Thing was he was awesome, did you see the videos?” Robin asks.
“Of course, he was a class apart and deserved his win. His class was quite weak compared to some of the others though.” Dad says.
“I just don’t want to be a part of a club that belittles winners and makes them uncomfortable.” Robin says.
“So you have learnt a lot this semester, just not in class.” Mom says.
“Maybe. I learnt I missed your cooking.” Robin laughs and finishes his meal.
Back at school Blue has woken up early as usual and is looking out the window at deep drifts of snow. He had hoped to get out for a run or something. Looks like it’ll be a few days indoors. Thank goodness they stocked the fridge.
Blue knocks on Gervais door to see if he wants to do some yoga but there is no answer so he starts alone and then showers. Blue is reading on the sofa when he hears Gervais coughing and sneezing. He comes through looking terrible.
“Go back so bed, I’ll make you some tea.” Blue says when Gervais pads out of the bathroom.
“Thanks, I feel like shit.” Gervais whispers, already hoarse from coughing. Blue makes some tea and raids Spence’s medical supplies.
“I got you these.” Blue says handing him some pills and putting the tea and some throat lozenges next to the bed.
A couple of hours later Blue goes back in to check on him and he’s pink with a fever and shivering, his bedclothes drenched with sweat.
“Come on lets get you in the shower.” Blue says. Gervais is a little unsteady on his feet so Blue carries him through and gets the shower going.
“I’ll be back in a minute, just rinse off.” Blue says, going to find fresh underwear and make up Robins bed. He grabs one of Spence’s nicer towels too.
Blue shuts off the water and wraps Gervais up and carries him to Robin’s bed.
“Easier for me to keep an eye on you in here. Do you want some soup? More tea?” Blue asks as he tucks the sickly boy into bed, Gervais shakes no for soup and yes for tea. Blue brings a fresh cup through and sits on the bed and strokes Gervais hair while he drinks.
Gervais falls back to sleep quickly. Blue makes himself some lunch then strips Gervais bed. Might as well do laundry while no one is around. He rounds up both their things, checks Gervais is still sleeping leaves him a fresh cup of water and heads to the laundry room.
Once he sets the machines off he calls Jesse.
“Hey just calling because Gervais is sick. Didn’t want you to worry if he wasn’t replying.” Blue says.
“What’s wrong with him?” Jesse asks worried.
“He has a cold and a fever. He’s been sleeping most the day.” Blue says.
“There I was worried about you two being alone and now I’m grateful you’re there to look after him.” Jesse says.
“We’re snowed in so not much for us to do anyway. How are your family?” Blue asks.
“Driving me nuts already. My Mom is sad I didn’t bring Gervais and my Dad is grateful I didn’t bring another mouth to feed. We have loads of relatives coming so its been chores all day long.” Jesse complains in good humor. Now that Blue is dating Austin any ill feeling between the pair has dissolved.
“Sounds pretty great to me. I’ll call you later if he’s awake, if not I’ll show you him sleeping, totally not creepy.” Blue laughs.
“Thanks for calling Blue. You didn’t have to.” Jesse says.
“I’d be worried in your position.” Blue says.
Once that call is over Blue calls Austin and they chat for a good while about everything. Soon the laundry is done and Blue goes back to check on Gervais, Blue leaves him to sleep while he puts things away and makes tea for both of them, worried about how much Gervais is sweating.
“Time for a drink and some more pills.” Blue says waking Gervais by rubbing his back.
Gervais struggles to sit himself up so Blue grabs some extra pillows and helps him get comfortable.
“Thanks babe. I’m so woozy.” Gervais says quietly and sips his drink grateful that Blue has taken charge and is being so nice.
“I called Jesse so he wouldn’t worry about you not texting. He’s doing endless chores and having no fun without you.” Blue says. Gervais bristles a little inwardly at the mention of Jesse. Even sick, he loves having time just him and Blue. Then he realizes that is just another part of Blue taking really good care of him.
“You take such good care of me.” Gervais says.
“Do you want some soup or a cookie or something?” Blue asks.
“I’m not hungry. Thanks for the drinks. Do you think I need to stay awake so I sleep tonight?” Gervais asks.
“I think you should sleep if you feel you need to. You’re still burning up. Do you want a cold cloth?” Blue asks.
“No, I feel cold.” Gervais says shivering.
“Let me just dry you off a bit.” Blue says wiping his face with a towel tenderly.
“I want to stay awake and talk but I can’t.” Gervais says his eyes flickering.
Blue takes his cup away and helps him to lie down again. He brushes his hair away and kisses his forehead. Gervais smiles and drifts off again.
Blue spends the rest of the day quietly studying for finals. He feels fully prepared but wants to be sure. He’s never had problems retaining information. Jesse calls and Blue shows him his sleeping boyfriend.
“Thanks for looking out for him. Get him to call when he feels better.” Jesse says.
“I will. He’s just exhausted. I think everything he’s done this semester has caught up with him and knocked him out.” Blue says.
“Yeah. I know it’s my fault, he needs time to recharge but it rarely happens. I don’t see why our hanging out adds to his stress if we’re gaming or watching movies but I guess it does. I’ll work on it.” Jesse says.
“It is hard to know when to push and when to let him alone. Sometimes he just needs one of us there not talking and other times he needs to be totally alone. I’m not sure I detect that right.” Blue says.
“You do a whole heap better than I do but I’m getting better. It is hard not to see it as rejection when he needs alone time.” Jesse says.
“If he’s asking to be left alone he’s close to meltdown. You need to give him time routinely and let him ask for more time together.” Blue says.
“That makes a lot of sense. I’ll feel a whole lot better about myself if he’s asking to be with me and I’m not bugging him for time. It is hard though I hate being away from him.” Jesse says.
“I get it. Austin and I are just starting but he is so busy and I want to see him a lot more.” Blue says making Jesse feel a lot better.
“He’ll make time. If he doesn’t you should move on.” Jesse says.
“I like that he’s so dedicated.” Blue says.
“Because you don’t want a fulltime boyfriend?” Jesse asks curious.
“Wow, I don’t know. I do, I really do want to wake up to someone every day but I do like having time for my friends and studies too.” Blue says.
“Sounds like he isn’t the guy you want to wake up to.” Jesse says.
“I think it is too early to tell. My feelings grow slowly.” Blue says.
“God it is totally in my interest for you to have someone but please don’t stay with him if you’re not feeling it. Blue you are worth so much more than that. Just because he is hot and right on paper doesn’t mean you have to persevere if there is nothing there.” Jesse says.
“Oh there is something there, its just not all consuming or anything. I like him, I find him attractive, we have fun.” Blue says.
“I stayed with my high school boyfriend far too long as I didn’t think I’d ever get anyone else. It’s hard when you come from somewhere with few out people to imagine that there are options.” Jesse says.
“I know but I’m learning fast that options don’t mean there are multiple good guys.” Blue says.
“You had a run of bad luck.” Jesse says sounding like his other friends.
“I’m happy with Austin for now. I guess I need to check in with you guys who are more experience more often though.” Blue says.
“Oh we’ll all be butting in if you ask or not.” Jesse laughs and Blue joins in. The noise wakes Gervais who has a chat with Jesse.
“What do you need?” Blue asks when Gervais hangs up.
“Come lie with me.” Gervais says.
“Can I get you a drink?” Blue asks deflecting.
“I need to pee.” Gervais says suddenly as if he just remembered and they both laugh. Gervais tries to get up but struggles. Blue lifts him out of bed and takes him to the bathroom.
“Can you sit okay?” Blue asks.
Gervais nods and Blue helps him pull down his underwear and places him down.
“Call when you need retrieving.” Blue grins.
“Just stay, I promise its just piss. I feel like I could just fall over.” Gervais says apologetically.
“Okay, just lean on me of you can’t stay up.” Blue says crouching down.
“Need another shower or are you okay? You’re pretty clammy.” Blue asks when Gervais is done.
“I feel gross.” Gervais says.
Blue strips off and sets the water running then helps Gervais into the shower letting him lean against his naked body. Gervais doesn’t protest at the move. Blue washes his friend and Gervais wraps his arms around his neck to steady himself.
After a minute Gervais legs start to go and Blue swoops him up into his arms grabs a towel and takes him back to his room.
“Dry off on my bed while I change the bed again. You are one sweaty dude right now.” Blue laughs.
“I’ve not been sick in forever, broken bones sure but not sick.” Gervais says trying to stay awake.
“What clothes do you need?” Blue asks.
“Just briefs, I get cold but I accept I’m a ball of fire right now.” Gervais laughs.
Blue gets what he needs puts him to bed then sorts getting himself dry and dressed again. He makes tea but Gervais is already asleep. Blue lies on his own bed and watches his friend sleep for a little while before getting back to his books.
“Have you gone off me?” Gervais asks when he wakes later.
“I have Austin now.” Blue says quietly, avoiding the question.
“So your feelings went away?” Gervais pushes.
“No, you know they didn’t. Would I be taking care of you like this if I didn’t love you?” Blue asks.
“But you didn’t react in the shower.” Gervais says.
“You’re beautiful to me but you’re sick and I can control myself.” Blue says.
“Come lie with me?” Gervais asks again.
Blue switches beds and drapes his arm over Gervais.
“I don’t want to catch anything.” Blue says stroking Gervais arm.
“I could look after you.” Gervais says.
“You can’t even piss alone.” Blue says.
“Thanks for looking out for me. I’d have been so stuck if you wernt here.” Gervais says.
“Why not go with Jesse or Spence or Robin?” Blue asks.
“Rather be with you.” Gervais says.
“We need some us time when you’re better. Out of here, not just yoga.” Blue says.
“I know. We keep missing breakfast time.” Gervais says.
“You have Jesse stay most nights.” Blue says.
“He gets insecure about you.” Gervais says.
“Should he be?” Blue asks.
“Yes.” Gervais says.
“Is this because I have Austin?” Blue asks.
“I thought maybe I was ready for you and just as I was realizing you found Austin and now I have to wait.” Gervais says sleepily.
“You’re still with Jesse.” Blue says.
“I don’t love Jesse.” Gervais says as he falls asleep.
Blue moves over to his own bed and sleeps deeply, confused but happy that something might go his way soon.
Thanksgiving Day Gervais is just as sick and Blue takes care of him again. The snow is coming down again so it isn’t like Blue had many options.
Spence joins Robin’s family for dinner and they have a great time. Robin’s sisters are full of questions about college and tales from school. Spence has a great time being part of a normal family. He misses Andy but is also happy to have a break as things have been so intense recently. In a very good way but a break will be fun. He hates that Andy never invites him to his family celebrations but Robin’s mom treats him like family not a guest and he loves it.
On Friday Gervais wakes feeling heaps better. He’s certain he’s said some things he needs to apologize for when he had a fever.
“You look better. Think you can make it to the bathroom unaided this morning?” Blue laughs.
“Uh I really want to say yes but am aware my legs may be jelly. You don’t need to prop me up to pee today.” Gervais says still hoarse.
“Well I’m glad the fever is gone. I had no idea how to get you to the doctor through the snow.” Blue says.
“Snow?” Gervais asks.
“Loads of it.” Blue says.
“Ahh so you were trapped indoors and had nothing better to do than care for me.” Gervais laughs.
“Something like that.” Blue smiles back.
Gervais climbs out of bed and is a bit wobbly. Blue takes his arm and walks the few steps to the bathroom with him.
“I’ll make you some food. Noodles, soup or oatmeal?” Blue asks.
“Oatmeal would be good. I am starving now. Do we have milk?” Gervais asks.
“Yes loads. Want it warm?” Blue asks and Gervais nods.
Gervais takes his time in the shower trying to sort his head out. He still loves Blue, more so for the last few days, Jesse wouldn’t have been able to do the same without driving him insane. He can’t help but compare the two. He feels so close to Blue, he knows he would be the best boyfriend but he is so scared to make that leap. So scared.
Gervais dries off and gets dressed. Blue has made his food and is standing in his coat.
“Austin managed to get back already so I’m going to his. I won’t be long. Call if you need me okay?” Blue asks.
Gervais nods and tries not to cry.