Coming Out

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, they belong to Hollyoaks!

Summary: Brendan and Ste are now out to the village, but will things run as smoothly as they hope or are their problems just beginning? Sequel to 'Come Back To Me'

Chapter One

Brendan sat bolt upright in bed; sweat dripping down his chest and brow. His breathing was heavy and laboured like he had just run a very long distance even though in reality he was lying in bed. Something had woken him up in this disturbing manner; a dream? No. A nightmare. He did not have long to dwell on it however because his sudden awakening had also woken up his boyfriend, Stephen.

"What's the matter, Bren?" Stephen asked grumpily, still half-asleep.

"Just a nightmare, it was nothing" Brendan said, lying back down and wiping the sweat from his forehead. "Go back to sleep, Stephen"

Stephen sat up on his elbow and looked at Brendan blearily. "You don't look so good, are you ill?" He asked with concern but still in the visages of sleep.

"I'm fine" Brendan replied, pushing the covers off of him so that his chest was exposed to some air. "Just hot, that's all"

Stephen sighed and climbed out of bed easily. He relished every moment he was able to roam freely; it had been weeks since his accident and his ankle was practically fully healed. His arm was out of its sling but still wasn't repaired. Brendan moved a hand to grab him back but Stephen had already left the room.

He returned a minute later with a glass of water and a wet flannel. Sitting beside Brendan on the bed he passed him the water to drink and then dabbed at his forehead and chest where he had been sweating.

"Better?" He asked softly.

"Ye, thanks" Brendan closed his eyes. "Ye spoil me" he added, smirking to himself.

"Well someone has to" Stephen replied, putting the flannel to the side. "Are you ready to sleep again? You aren't hot anymore?"

"Ye" Brendan agreed. He felt the shift in the bed as Stephen lay back down again. Brendan turned his head to the side to look at him. He smiled at Stephen and his strange masculine beauty; the fact he was only wearing boxers to bed also increased Brendan's appreciation for how attractive he looked.

Stephen looked at him, smiling shyly. "What?" he asked, embarrassed.

"Yer so pretty" Brendan teased, laughing.

Stephen frowned and pouted. "I'm not a woman, Bren" he said indignantly.

"Thank fuck for that" Brendan retorted quietly. Stephen grinned.

"Oh you like that do ya? You like all my man bits" Stephen wiggled his eyebrows at him. Brendan pushed his face away from him gently in mock disgust.

"Shameful, Stephen. Utterly shameful"

"No it isn't, and you can finally see that" Stephen looked at him for a moment wistfully.

"Too late in the night for talks about bloody feelings" Brendan said the last word with his lip curled in distaste.

"Not my fault you love me" Stephen teased, smiling. Brendan rolled his eyes. The boy had kept making frequent references to his little declaration ever since he had said it several weeks ago.

"Ye, whatever" Brendan replied, waving a hand dismissively. "We gonna sleep now? Some of us have to get up early for work"

"You woke me up!"

"No need to lie, Stephen. This is our place after all, there's no one to back you up"

Stephen's mouth gaped open in mock outrage. "You are insufferable" he finally said after a multitude of indignant stuttering.

"And yet ye still love me" Brendan replied, raising his eyebrows.

"Who knows why" Stephen said, sighing.

Brendan pulled Stephen towards him, wrapping his arms around his body. "I hope ye aren't planning on going anywhere" he whispered seductively into his ear.

"Course not" Stephen said, grinning.

"Good"

Brendan was silent for a moment, holding Stephen closely and breathing in his scent. He didn't know how he had ever managed to sleep well before him; he could not imagine a night without him now. After they had gotten together properly a few weeks ago Brendan had immediately started looking for a place for the two of them in the village. It was closer to the council estate than the village itself but Brendan had done this purposely; he knew how important it was to Stephen to see his kids every day. Brendan liked seeing them too; mostly because it reminded him of his boys back home. He and Stephen had not yet discussed whether they would take their trip to Ireland as originally planned. Brendan would save that talk for another night; right now he just wanted to sleep.

It had been several moments since they had spoken; Stephen's head was against Brendan's chest; his dirty blonde hair mussed from sleep.

"Stephen?" Brendan asked quietly. He received a soft snort in response. How did he fall asleep so quickly? Brendan wondered to himself. Perhaps that was the benefit of having a trouble-free mind. Even though Brendan was secure with Stephen and finally being honest with himself, publicly, it did not change the fact that he was utterly petrified.

That first night out and proud with Stephen had been…difficult as well as exhilarating. Brendan remembered it fondly; walking through the village holding Stephen's hand with pride; the boys face gleaming with joy and disbelief at what was happening. Brendan had walked with his back straight and his best defensive posture. A few people had given them strange looks but Brendan had glared at him sourly until they stopped and walked away quickly. It was reassuring to know he still provoked fear in idle passers by.

The reaction of the village had been mixed; some had been very shocked, scandalised even. But that was the problem with living in a small village; gossip spread like wildfire and was rarely completely accurate. Brendan had heard several renditions of their tale including the utterly ludicrous idea that he had lured Stephen under false pretences and was actually planning on beating him up for his…homosexuality. Brendan struggled to think the word itself but it had to be done, he had to learn.

Brendan had growled at the mention of the rumour; he suspected that Noah had started it to spite them… alongside some of the other rumours that Brendan's wife was merely a cover up and he didn't really have kids in Ireland. That had made him very angry when he had heard Darren Osborne spouting such rubbish in The Dog like an idle gossiper. Brendan had grabbed him by the shirt and gotten into his personal space threateningly for that.

"Where did ye hear such bullshit?" He had asked, practically spitting with rage. Stephen had tugged at his elbow attempting to placate him. Brendan had ignored him.

"I h-heard it when I went to the gym" Darren had stuttered, his eyes wide. "I have no problems with the gays! My own step-brother is one; he's in Ireland with his boyfriend!" That had given Brendan pause; he'd always thought Brighton was the gay capital of the world.

"Who said it then?" Brendan said menacingly.

"I don't know! Loads of people were saying it…among other things" Darren muttered the last bit deliberately.

"Oh ye? Like what?" Brendan raged.

"Brendan! That's enough" Stephen warned, his eyes narrowing angrily. Brendan glanced at him and released his hold on Darren.

"This isn't over" Brendan warned Darren as Stephen pulled him away hastily.

Brendan didn't like the idea of people talking about his private business; this was what he had been most afraid of. He didn't like people judging him, stereotyping him or making him appear less masculine than he used to be. Stephen had reassured him this wasn't the case however when Brendan had finally gotten him to speak to him again after a full two hours of the silent treatment. He had told him that Darren had practically shit his pants and if that wasn't proof enough that Brendan hadn't lost his touch then he didn't know what was.

That had pacified Brendan for a while. The gossip died down after a week or so; there was always something new and more interesting to discuss after all. The majority of the village had been either indifferent or pleased for them. There was another occasion however when Brendan had been provoked into near violence. They had been walking through the village innocently enough, not even touching each other when Gaz had loomed up and had spat by Stephen's feet; missing his shoes by inches.

"Brendan…" Stephen had groaned as Brendan had stridden forward to shove at Gaz.

"Ye wanna face me like a real man or just spit like a little bitch?" He had asked him menacingly, towering over him.

"Interesting choice of words, mate" Gaz had sneered. "Yer aren't a man"

Brendan had been about to retaliate until Stephen had surprised him by moving past him and pushing Gaz onto the floor.

"Shut the fuck up! He's twice the man you'll ever be! And don't you fucking forget it!"

Brendan had been impressed, and strangely aroused at Stephen's outburst. His anger at Gaz had evaporated, leaving only deep respect for Stephen's defence of him. He had put his arm around his waist, guiding him away, sneering at Gaz as he went.

"Oh, by the way, Gary. I know about ye and Mrs Costello. Can't wait to tell my old mate, Carl. It's gonna be quite a sight seeing him bash ye head in" Brendan had laughed manically, leaving Gaz looking stunned and appalled, still lying on the floor.

"How did you find that out?" Stephen had asked him, cuddling up to him. Brendan stood up a bit straighter.

"I have my ways, Stephen" Brendan replied, tapping his nose.

There hadn't been any further incidents so far since that day. Brendan had settled into life with Stephen; being seen with him out in public, having their flat together and not having to hide from what they were doing. Brendan felt as though a huge weight had been lifted but another had secured itself in reserve.

His nightmare that night had been about Andy and Danny. He hadn't been able to shake the doubt that Andy would come back for more revenge; especially now Stephen and him were out properly. He hadn't told Stephen his worries; he didn't want to scare the lad after what Andy had done to him… It still made Brendan's blood boil to think about it; sometimes he couldn't sleep at night thinking about that awful day or he would wake to similarly horrific dreams like the one he had had tonight about Stephen getting run down and never waking up again…

Brendan shook his head. He looked down at Stephen in his arms and tried to relax. He was happy for the most part; he had what he wanted; he had Stephen all to himself. He was his and no obstacle, big or small, was going to change that fact…