Paul Anderson had always been proud of his job. He was a respected worker and colleague, and had made a name for his family throughout the stages of his career.
He had a beautiful wife. They had met in a garden centre, when he had told her which flowers would match her golden eyes. She had fallen in love instantly. They were inseparable from that day, getting married after 2 happy years together.
When his wife fell pregnant with a baby boy he had never been happier in all his life. He couldn't wait to teach his son everything he knew. How to tie his shoelaces and ride a bike, then they could watch football together, go to car races together... his fantasies went on forever. His son would be everything he ever wanted. The perfect next generation Anderson, 'carrying on the legacy' he would often laugh to himself.
Of course, he knew that the boy would have his own interests, his own personality, of course he knew that. But he was his son; he would no doubt make him proud.
"Dad, I'm gay." Blaine had whispered, trying to sound confident though he was visibly shaking.
Paul felt a glass wall blur his vision. The word 'gay' rang in his ears like an alarm, banging against his brain and screaming at him.
He didn't know when he had lifted his hand, or when it had connected with his son's face. But when he began to breathe again and looked down, he saw Blaine on the kitchen floor, clutching his cheek with tear filled eyes.
His fourteen year old son was crying, he wanted to bend down and hug him but he felt like his ability to move had been taken away from him. His legs felt numb, he had become emotionless.
He didn't even flinch when his wife burst into the room at the sound of Blaine hitting the tiles.
"Paul are you – Blaine? Sweetie what happened?" She ran over to him and helped him up, hugging him for a moment before her eyes traced over his face. Her eyebrows furrowed as she noticed the red mark starting to spread on Blaine's face.
She turned to her husband, a look of grave shock in her eyes. He tried to open his mouth to speak, but closed it again almost immediately. How we he supposed to explain himself? How could he make this better?
He closed his eyes and let his mind drift into the past as his wife led Blaine out of the room.
When Paul had first heard the word 'gay' it had been used by his father. It would be an understatement to say he used it in a derogatory way. Over the years he grew up it became clear that his father was a very judgmental, homophobic man. If there was a gay person around them, or something of the sort was mentioned, his father would take it upon himself to make sure his strong opinions were voiced.
At the time, the world didn't really react to that kind of thing, so there was no reason for him to be arrested or in trouble with the police for the things he was saying. Because as much as people tried to change things, gay people just were not seen as equals.
Over time people evolved, became used to it, and most of the ones who didn't agree kept it to themselves. But not Paul's father.
He continued to taunt, to complain, and worst of all, pass on his opinions to his son. Around the house it would be impossible to mention the word without a grumpy response or a snarky remark. His mother didn't join in, but she didn't do anything to stop her husband.
And what could Paul do? His father was in charge, he was just a child, his views were unimportant. All he knew was that his father anyone who was gay, and that talking about it would be a bad idea at all times.
So when Paul met Scott in his 3rd year of high school, he didn't know what to do.
Scott was blonde, tall with muscular arms, because he was on the football team. Paul had been encouraged to join the team on behalf of his father, and in fear of disappointing him, had gone for try outs.
To his surprise, he got in. It had been 2 months into the school year when Scott, moved from a few counties' away, joined, and asked to be part of the team. He was an exceptional player, his moves were swift and graceful, but he had the strength of a bull when he needed it.
Paul always changed in the far corner of the locker room, trying to keep out of the way of the other boys. They always gave him a little trouble, messing him around for not being as good as them. He wasn't unpopular, no, it was just also common knowledge that he didn't really want to be on the team.
At the age of 16 he hadn't had many girlfriends. Only the odd one, to bring home for dinner or a kiss behind the gym.
Scott walked past him one afternoon after practice out of the shower, wearing a towel around his waist. Paul turned around just in time to see him run a hand through his dripping hair. His eyelashes wet with droplets, defining his eyes.
He couldn't help but stare, not really realising what he was doing. Scott looked up and noticed him there.
"Oh hi." He had said casually, taking off the towel to pull on his clothes.
Paul tore his eyes away, flashes of warning pulsing in his mind. They had never really spoken a lot before, Scott had only been there for a few weeks. It was just the odd greeting or encouragement on the field.
Paul gave him a smile and nod of his head, turning to continue packing up his bag. But a few minutes later, he and Scott tried to step into the exact same spot, knocking into each other as they hurried to leave. They both huffed and apologised, but as he looked up he noticed something.
Scott's eyes were swirling with colour. It was like looking into time and space, all right there in front of him. He drew in a little breath as he realised Scott was drawing in closer. He did what he only thought he could, and closed his eyes just as Scott's warm lips touched his.
He tasted sweet, the strong smell of shampoo filling his nose now they were so close. He breathed him in and returned the pressure a little.
When Scott pulled back he licked his bottom lip and gave a shy smile before taking his bag and leaving the room.
Paul put his fingers to his lips in shock. He had so many emotions flowing through him, unsure of what to feel. But no matter what he was thinking, his heart was beating faster than usual and he felt warm, he was smiling despite himself. That had been their first kiss.
For 3 months they 'saw' each other. But only in private. Just stolen kisses before and after practice in the deserted parts of the school. Paul knew he had feelings for Scott, but whenever he wanted to say something to him about how he felt, he bottled it up, afraid of admitting it.
Images of his father flashed in his mind every time they got intimate, and it made him worry. He felt like he was being watched.
He really wanted to bring Scott home, but obviously it seemed out of the question given the shot gun his father kept under the fireplace. Until he had an idea.
He brought Scott over to his house after school and said that they were best friends, from football practice. His father, blinded by trust and pride for his son, ate up the lie as truth.
Of course, their charade couldn't last forever.
After 3 weeks of Scott coming over, his father found them together. He was supposed to be out until later that evening, and truthfully, they had become sloppy with taking caution. Not thinking about the dangers of being caught.
He had got home early, walking right in on Paul and Scott kissing quite passionately on the sofa.
They didn't hear him come in, so just continued as though they were still alone. It only became apparent to Paul that he was there when Scott was wrenched away from him. His eyes flew open, first seeing Scott frozen on the other side of the sofa, then his father, towering above them.
Paul had never seen him so angry, and it terrified him.
He could see the pure rage blazing in his eyes as he stared venomously at Scott, who now looked as scared as Paul felt. Paul had told him about how his father got sometimes, and how he could never find out about them being together.
The importance of this warning only started to sink in at that moment. His father reached down with his meaty hand and gripped onto Scott's arm like a vice as he dragged him up into a standing position.
He pulled him over to the door with such force he saw Scott stumble over his own feet. His father pushed him up against the door, restricting his breathing as he got very close to face and hissed, "Stay away from my son or I will kill you." His voice rang in the air menacingly. "Now get the FUCK out of my house."
The moment he let go of Scott, he bolted out of the door faster than Paul could have imagined. But he didn't have much time to speculate, for his father was beginning to turn towards him, his hands still clenched in knuckle whitening fists.
Paul swallowed, trying desperately to form words. But he couldn't make any come out. All he could think about was how red his father's face was, and how the vein in his neck was pulsing vigorously.
He thought he would pass out if he didn't do something.
He forced his legs to move and tried to run into the other room, but his father growled at the movement, coming at him with full speed.
"How DARE you? IN MY HOUSE." He bellowed as he pounded his fist into the side of Paul's face. It was hard enough to almost knock him to the ground, the crack of his jaw echoing around the room.
He whimpered, feeling stray tears rolling down his cheeks. This only seemed to make his father angrier, grabbing him by his shirt and kicking him. Beat him and kicked him until he dragged him into his bedroom. His father threw him in, growling at him words that he would never forget.
"You are disgusting. You disgust me. No son of mine is a fucking faggot. Scum" He spat in his direction and stormed out of the room, leaving Paul lying on the floor, blood from his nose trickling onto his carpet.
He sat up, wincing at the feeling of his ribs as he did. They were probably broken. He burst into tears and wrapped his arms around himself until he was too tired to cry anymore.
Scott never spoke to him again after that day. And he never looked at another boy in that way again.
Blaine never understood why his dad acted like he did. Whenever he tried to bring up the subject of sexuality over the years after the incident in the kitchen, his dad would just push him away. Like he was locked inside a glass box, any time it was mentioned. He didn't allow any attempts at that kind of conversation.
Yes, Paul Anderson loved his son. He loved his wife. But no matter how hard he tried, looking at Blaine for too long was just too hard for him. He saw himself in Blaine's eyes. The pain, the loneliness and distance when they spoke.
Blaine never would, and never could understand why it had to be like this. It just had to. Facing his past was something that Paul never wanted to have to do. One day he would tell Blaine the truth. But for now, he would just have to wonder, and wait.