In My Heart – A Bare: A Pop Opera Fanfiction
Author's Note: What would have happened if Jason and Peter had each understood how the other impacted them better? Peter's POV, directly preceding where "Bare" would be sung in the show. I can't help being a sucker for a happy (well, happier) ending. I'm undecided on if this is a multi-shot, or if I like where it ended up as-is. Please review and let me know what you think.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of this. Don't sue…it makes Peter sad.
I could feel his eyes following me from across the room. Years of secret rendezvous, stolen kisses, and one-sided longing had made me painfully aware of the presence of Jason McConnell wherever we were, and whatever we were doing. Had I really just told this wonderful, caring boy that it was over? Me? Looking back over the last few minutes, I was amazed that I had held fast to the determined position I'd reached last night. I needed out…out of St. Cecilia's, out of the judgmental gaze of the fathers and sisters, out of the taunting of our classmates as I waited for my boyfriend to make up his mind and decide to love me. I stifled a derisive snort; Jason couldn't even tell me he loved me. Did he? That would make a difference. Maybe not all the difference, but maybe enough to crack through the icy fortress I was building around my heart.
I roused myself from introspection long enough to register Sister Chantelle calling places. Taking a deep breath, I let my face go slack into a performance mask of indifference and turned towards the green room exit. I had barely taken a step when I felt a strong hand close over my bicep and a soft, broken voice whisper one word desperately: "Wait!"
Craning my neck, I looked back to see my Jason with a look of abject loss on his face. The desperation in his eyes cut through me like a hot knife, and I felt the bitter flavor of doubt again creep into my mouth as I thought about all the other emotions I had coaxed out of those eyes. In that moment, I knew more certainly than ever that, wherever I went and whatever I did from this day forward, Jason would own a piece of me. Forever.
"Do you remember the day…," Jason started, but quieted when I placed a single finger on his lips.
"I don't want to do this now, Jason. We have to finish what we started, and get the play done. You know, graduate, so you can go off to Notre Dame, and I can get to what's next. What more do we need to say to each other?" I sighed, and turned to face him fully. "I love you, Jason. I've loved you for years, but I can't do this…whatever this is, not anymore."
My boy's face paled. He opened his mouth, and closed it quickly. I held his gaze for a few heartbeats longer, then ducked my eyes down and prepared to get on with my life.
"I love you too, Peter."
His words flamed through me. I whirled around and fixed him with a skeptical stare. "Oh, really? Since when, Jason?"
"Since the beginning. I love you so much, it sets me on fire to think of it. I love you so much, I can't imagine a day without you. Even when we were…when I messed up, I couldn't go without seeing you."
"You really love me?" I couldn't keep the almost-childlike wonder out of my voice.
"More than my life. I can't take us being apart. I won't survive it. Tell me what I have to do to keep you, and I'll do it. I can't lose you." Jason's words morphed to soft sobs by the last few syllables.
I ran my hand through my hair. "Jason, you'll never lose me. Ever. You and me, we're a permanent team, and even through all we've been through this year, I know in my heart that you're the one."
He stared at me, tears pouring slowly down his cheeks. "I haven't lost you?"
"You're still mine?"
I braced myself as I saw his leap into my arms coil its way through his body, starting in his muscular legs. He hid his face in my neck, and I felt wetness against my own cheek, although at this point, I wasn't sure if it was only his tears leaving salty tracks on my skin.
"Jason…baby…when I said it's over, I meant the hiding. I can't do that to myself any more. If it means we need to be apart for a bit, to let the doubts and the hatred fade, and to allow time to work its way, then it will make our reuniting all the better."
"I don't want to be apart. I don't ever want to be without you again." His sobs were getting steadily throatier, causing a tightness to develop in my chest in sympathy. How could I ever have considered leaving this poor, sweet boy?
"Okay. We have to talk, and I mean really talk. But after, Jason, after the play. The audience is waiting."
I moved him expertly in my arms, learned in hours and hours of sharing too-small dormitory beds, and brought his forehead to my own so I could look him in the eye. "We have to go on."
He leaned in to kiss me. As the kiss deepened, I let my arms trail down to grasp at his hands. Encountering a small, hard object clutched in his right one, I raised it to my eyes.
"What's this?" I looked more closely, noting the object as an empty vial, and saw in the background of my inspection an almost-comical widening of his eyes.
"Oh God. Peter! I need help."
His alarmed tone shook me. "What, Jas?!?! What is it???"
"I need a doctor…GHB. Thought you were gone. Couldn't bear the thought of being alone. Lucas said…oh God, save me." His rising panic shattered the small peace we had gained, washing me away in fear.
"What are you saying? Lucas? GHB?" I looked again, and the sight of the vial coupled with the fear in his voice, made everything lock into place.
"Jason!!! You took something??? Oh my God." Sheer terror gripped me. My next words came as a scream. "HELP!!! HELP US!!! JESUS, HELP US!!!"
Jason was crying harder now, and through my panic, I could hear the sound of running footsteps down the hall towards the green room. Sister Chantelle broke through the doors, stopping short when she caught sight of two hysterical teenagers clutching each other.
"What on Earth is going on here? Where have you two been? We've been waiting for ages, looking for our Romeo. Have you been fighting again?" The last question seemed directed at me, with a mildly sympathetic look passing over Sister's face. "Lord knows we don't have time for this nons…"
"SISTER!!! Please!" I cut in, unable to stop my own newly-formed sobs. "It's Jason. He's overdosed on GHB. We need help, NOW!"
I would have laughed a bit at the look that Sister gave me after my declaration if I wasn't in terror for my love's safety. To her credit, her only reaction was to turn smartly on her heel, race to the door, and sprint back down the hallway, calling loudly for someone to dial 911.
The initial rush slackening, I turned fully to my still-crying boyfriend. "Shhhhh, Jason, it will be all right. You'll be safe. I promise." The world faded around us as I rocked him in my arms. I could hear his breathing becoming more labored, which sent fresh waves of panic through me. Outwardly, though, I continued to offer comfort, focused so solely on Jason that a slight touch at my back caused me to jump violently. I turned to see Nadia, her hand slowly withdrawing back to her side, Matt, Ivy, and Sister standing behind her.
"Is he okay?" Nadia's voice had the tone of a desperate parent trying to soothe a hysterical child. I shook my head violently.
"Of course he isn't 'okay'! How could he be 'okay'???"
Nadia's face crumbled a bit. Sister took over, walking forward towards me and the slightly-dazed boy I was supporting.
"She meant was there anything new wrong with him? No harm intended with her question," Sister opined.
I merely grunted in reply, turning my face towards Jason once again.
"The ambulance is on its way."
I didn't look up to see who had spoken. Nothing existed except Jason.
To say that getting Jason to the hospital was calm and orderly was to say that Holy Mother Church folds homosexuals into her warm embrace. The argument started in the green room.
"I'm going with him," I repeated to the blank face of the paramedic.
"Son, again, only family can ride with him in the ambulance. You can follow us to the hospital."
"Forget that. I'm his boyfriend. I'm going."
Eventually, Nadia solved the problem by joining my side and browbeating the EMTs into submission. I held Jason's hand all the way to the hospital, our eyes locked on each other, never once looking away. I acknowledged with some numb part of my brain that I was operating on auto-pilot; the shock of Jason's panicked admission to purposefully overdosing on drugs had shut down any processing of this situation. That could come later. For now, I needed to save this boy who, finally, I knew loved me just as much as I loved him.
"Jason, baby, hang in there. We'll get this all sorted out."
His reply was somewhat weakened by his heavy breathing, which had continued to worsen. "Petey…love you…"
"I know, baby. I love you too."
The hard plastic of the waiting room chair cut painfully into my back. Outwardly, I appeared calm, but inside me, questions and hypotheses and sheer anger swirled around my head at a constantly increasing pace. Elation over knowing my Jason loved me warred with disgust that he would try to take himself away from me forever so easily.
One of the few certain things: Lucas Carter was dead. Even without Jason's disjointed admission, I knew that Lucas was the only possible source of the poison they were now trying to counteract in my lover's body in a cubicle somewhere in this maze of an emergency room. I spent a moment reflecting that I sincerely hoped that Lucas was a religious man, because I intended to personally make him suffer for his actions, unless the police beat me to it.
Other than the arrival of Nadia, Matt, and Ivy, followed closely by Sister Chantelle, the only other event to register with me was the arrival and swift departure of a surly-looking detective, who took his answers from the other three students sitting cautiously around me in the waiting room before leaving in a disgruntled huff at being called out to work at this hour of night. I ignored his outburst, and went back to staring at the double doors to the treatment area, trying to will a doctor to come out to talk to us about Jason. Nothing else mattered. Only Jason. Always Jason.
I jerked back to full consciousness when I heard Jason's name called.
"Here." I turned to stare at Nadia, who had answered in stereo with me. She stared back defiantly. If the doctor took note of our silent battle of wills, he made no outward sign.
"I'm Adam Price, the attending physician working with Mr. McConnell. Who are you?"
I wasn't about to repeat my fight with the paramedics. I smiled grimly at him, and cut off Nadia's reply with a venomously terse one-word response. "Family."
The doctor looked hard at me, then at Nadia, before nodding briefly. "Let's sit and talk."
"Doctor, please, is he alright? Did we make it in time? Can I see him?" The panicked questions left my mouth before I knew I'd spoken. Nadia and the rest remained silent, letting me take the lead.
"First off, Mr. McConnell is…"
Dr. Price stared at me. "I'm sorry?"
"His name is Jason."
"Fine. Jason is one very sick, very lucky young man. gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid, or GHB, causes respiratory failure in large doses. It can even cause a heart attack. From the size of the vial brought in with him, Jason ingested more than enough GHB to kill him. We've stabilized him for now, and the immediate danger has passed."
I collapsed into a chair, tears springing into my eyes, unbidden but welcome. Jason would live. My other half would live. I gathered myself and repeated an earlier question: "Can I see him?"
"No. Jason is very sick, still, and since this was an attempted suicide, he's on psychiatric watch for the moment. Once we can clear up a few things, we will begin allowing limited visitors. Now, has anyone contacted Jason's parents?"
Nadia appeared to rouse herself to reply, but I cut her off frostily. "He's 18. We don't want to involve them until we know more. No use to worry them unnecessarily."
The doctor's gaze bored holes into me. He let the silence stretch to almost a full minute before shrugging and returning his eyes to the chart.
"If there are no more questions, I must get back to rounds. We'll be moving Jason in the next hour to an observation floor. You can check with the desk and ask them to page you if anything changes."
I shook my head. "I'm staying here."
Dr. Price's face betrayed the first hint of a smile. "I thought you might."
Two hours later, no change and no update had come, but I could tell from the way Nadia was chewing on her bottom lip that she was about to say something. Sister Chantelle had returned to school to report back, but since we were all of-age, there wasn't much else to be done except wait. Finally, I saw Nadia's abused lip stop moving and her mouth open.
"Why are you here?"
Her first question surprised me so much I actually laughed out loud. "Are you serious?"
"Completely. He's MY brother, you know."
"And he's my boyfriend." There. I'd said it out loud. It felt good.
Nadia stared at me. She seemed unable to come up to a reply, instead choosing to going back to worrying her lip. Ivy, however, was not as circumspect.
"That's disgusting! Whatever he may have thought, Jason wasn't gay." She spat the word gay at me like an expletive.
"Jason most certainly IS gay, you cow. Just because he knocked you up doesn't mean he didn't love me the whole time."
"You're a vile human being, Peter Simmonds."
"And you're a slut, Ivy Robinson."
Matt decided to make his presence known by coming to Ivy's aid. "Leave her alone, Pete. She's under stress."
I turned on him, my eyes flashing hatred. "And whose fault is that, Matt Lloyd? You outed him, and you think a simple 'sorry, dude' fixes that?"
His lip curled as he absorbed my reply. "At least I didn't throw myself at him to try to satisfy my own need to be loved."
I pointed at Ivy. "No, she did that. You, on the other hand, simply coveted his success and felt the need to put the little fairy in his place, didn't you?"
Both Ivy and Matt shot daggers at me with their eyes. I didn't care. I wasn't finished.
"You know why he did this? Do you want to know? He thought he was losing the one thing in his life who didn't judge him for who he is and what he wants to be. Don't you get it? You, all three of you, ALL of you in that school, turned your back on him the minute he didn't live up to your expectations, and then he felt me slipping away because I wanted to confront you all head on and live our lives in the open. Shocking concept, isn't it? Not having to hide who you really are from people who say they are your friends?"
I had stood during my tirade, matching my movement with my increasing sense of disgust and anger towards these three representatives of why my Jason was lying alone in a bed somewhere in this godforsaken hospital. Now, I looked down on all three, who were each wearing an expression of thoughtful contemplation to one degree or another, and all I felt was utter contempt.
"I'm going for a walk."
As I started down the hall, the nurse at the desk beckoned me over.
"Yes." An update?!?
She smiled at me. "I thought so. They're moving your brother now. If you want, you can see him in about 10 minutes. He's still sleeping, but you can sit with him for a few minutes if you like."
I stood outside the room with "J. McConnell" posted on the nametag via masking tape and marker, willing myself to enter. I'd been standing here for ten minutes.
In truth, for all my anger downstairs, I was growing less confident by the minute about where I stood. How could he do this to us? To me? Didn't he know what would happen if he'd succeeded? How lost I would have been?
There was so much to discuss. Besides the obvious regarding the failed suicide attempt, we still needed to talk about us. Jason saying he loved me still left a warm touch on my heart every time I thought about it, but I needed to know what it meant for us. I had hoped that one day we would leave behind the narrow world of St. Cecilia's and be free, but real life isn't as neat and tidy as fantasy. I didn't even want to begin to think about Ivy and the whole complicated mess involved there.
I sighed, and leaned my head against the cool metal door. The hard surface contrasted sharply in my mind with the shared breath and sense of euphoria only hours earlier when Jason had finally opened up to me, and told me the one thing I'd wanted to hear more than anything else in the world.
"He loves me," I said to myself. "All the rest will come with time."
I smiled, remembering Jason saying something similar to me outside the rave earlier in the school year. He was right. Time would reveal its plan on its own terms.
With new clarity and purpose, I squared my shoulders, reached for the handle, and opened the door to step into the future. A future with so many possibilities, but one very real constant:
Jason was mine, and I was his, and that, for now, would be enough.