Chapter 10 - Proposal (Posted 29 December 2011)
Ethan was now seven months into his pregnancy, and he and Benny had been sort-of dating for the past month. He considered it sort-of because it felt like they'd been dating for years, things hadn't really changed between them other than the kissing and of course their future child. They didn't really act any differently, though. They'd always been close. Affectionate towards each other. And Ethan was really happy with the way their relationship was going.
But for the last few days, he's been getting weird vibes from Benny. He couldn't tell if it was just his hormones going wild or if Benny really was acting strange. "Benny," he began after spotting him trying to sneak out the back door, "where are you going?"
"Huh?" Benny yelled, startled. "Me? Oh, nowhere."
"You must really like Nowhere. You go there a lot lately."
"Yeah," Ethan said. "You do."
"Ethan," Benny stepped forward and gently took hold of Ethan's face, giving him a gentle kiss, "Don't worry about this, okay? I'll be back later tonight. I'm just gonna stop home for something quick. But I'll be back. You know I can't stand to be away from you for too long."
"I'll be right back. I promise."
Ethan sighed. "Okay. I'll see you later, then."
"Yeah." Benny smiled and left.
Ethan crossed his arms and leaned against the wall, wondering what Benny was up to. "Mom," he said when he saw her in the kitchen, "can I ask you a question?"
"Sure, honey. What's up?"
"How... how do you know if... someone's cheating on you?"
His mother's face fell. "Why are you asking that?" she asked, sticking her arms out for a hug.
Ethan accepted. "Just... Benny's been acting really strange for the last couple days. He's been sneaking around, not answering my questions, and I just... I don't know what do do, Mom."
"Oh, Ethan," she soothed. "I'm sure Benny's not cheating on you. He'd never do something like that, he's crazy about you."
"I know that... but what if he doesn't like me anymore? Or what if he changed his mind about keeping Eli? What if..."
"Ethan, don't be ridiculous. Benny would talk to you if he was having second thoughts. And even though he can be a little... odd, sometimes, that boy is so wonderful it breaks my heart to think about all he's been through. As much as I know teen parenthood isn't exactly an accepted thing, I really think this is going to be a good thing for you guys. You two are so lucky to have each other, and your son is going to be one of the luckiest kids on the planet to have parents like you. And Benny knows it. I swear, he's so ready to be a father... and the way he looks at you..."
"But, Mom... why won't he tell me where he's been going? Why does he feel the need to sneak around?"
She patted his head. "I understand your concern. But give him some time before you go jumping to conclusions."
A few more days went by and Benny kept disappearing. He always returned quickly, and he spent the rest of his time with Ethan.
But Ethan still didn't like the fact that he was being so secretive.
"You're leaving again?" Ethan asked when Benny got up from the couch.
"Yeah. I'll be back."
"That's what you always say."
"And I always come back."
"That's not the point." Ethan jumped to his feet. "This'll be the second time today."
"Yeah, and I'll be back tomorrow morning."
"Where do you go?"
"It doesn't matter."
"Yes, it does." Ethan argued. "It's driving me crazy, Benny. I don't care that you leave, I mean I do... but why can't you tell me where you go?"
"...Because." Benny answered.
"Because? That's your answer?"
"Ethan, please don't turn this into a fight. I hate fighting with you." Benny pleaded.
"I hate fighting too, but if you would just tell me..."
"No..." Benny said with guilty eyes.
"Benny... if you don't want this, you should tell me now before it's too late?"
"If you've changed your mind..."
"Ethan... no..." Benny reached out to hug him, but Ethan stepped away. "I haven't changed my mind. What would even make you think that?"
"You." Ethan started to cry. "You always leave, and you never tell me what you're doing. When else am I supposed to think, Benny? And don't tell me it's just my hormones, something's going on and I want to know what."
Benny nodded. "Okay... Come with me." He grabbed Ethan's hand and pulled him out of the house. He led them to a small park. It was dark outside, but the street lights lit it up enough so they could see each other.
"Why did you bring me here?"
"I had to. I was waiting to do this, but... it looks like I can't wait anymore."
"What are you talking about?"
Benny dropped down, kneeling on one knee as he kept hold of Ethan's hand. "Ethan... I know the whole reason all this started was because I accidentally got you pregnant, but I want you to know that what I feel for you is realer than the ground beneath us, and I couldn't be happier."
"Benny..." Ethan gasped as he saw him take something out of his pocket and felt it slip onto his finger.
"Ethan, I love you." Benny said, causing Ethan to fall to his knees in front of him. "I love you so much. And I can't wait to raise this baby with you. I just... I know you deserve so much more than I can offer you, but we belong together. So I wanted to do this right. Ethan, will you marry me?"
"But... we're already engaged..."
"I know." Benny said with an amused smile. "But I wanted to ask you properly. I wanted you to know that this isn't just because I feel obligated to be with you. I want this. I just need to know that you want it too."
"Of course I do." Ethan threw his arms around Benny, hugging him tightly. "I love you too. And I definitely want to marry you."
Benny let out a breath of relief as he returned Ethan's embrace. "I am so happy to hear that."
"But you still haven't told me where you've been going."
"Oh, right... it was supposed to be a secret, but... I've been working."
"Yeah. I... I got a job. I know Gramma and your parents said they'd help out, but I really wanted to buy some things for him. I got him some toys and clothes... and I even got a crib. I thought we could put it together... together."
"I'd love that, Benny." Ethan glanced down at his hand, and chuckled when he saw the ring on his finger. "Benny, this is a plastic ring from a quarter machine."
"I know, isn't it great?" Benny answered enthusiastically. "Don't worry, I'm gonna get you a real one someday, but I wanted to have something to give you when I asked you, and when I saw the machine I just... it spoke to me, you know?"
"I get it. It's sweet..."
"I love you." Benny said, kissing Ethan's lips softly. "You're so beautiful, Ethan."
"Even though I'm fat and moody?"
"Those things would never change how I see you. You're beautiful. You always have been, and you always will be."
"What did I do to deserve you?"
"Other than sticking by me when I had no one else? Or how about being patient with me no matter what was going on?"
Ethan smiled. "Thanks, Benny. But you know you didn't have to keep your job a secret..."
"I know. I just wanted it to be a surprise."
"Come on, let's get you home."