Dave was quick to shush Brad and Jane as he let them into the apartment.
"We came as soon as we heard your message. How is he?" Brad asked as he side stepped Dave and saw Max being comforted by Grant and Penny.
"He's not taking it so good." Dave explained, "He already booked a train ticket to Ohio already."
"He's leaving tonight?" Jane asked worriedly.
The three joined the others on the couch. Brad knew that Max wasn't the type to admit he was emotional and was the type to desperately prove he wasn't emotional. So it felt as if someone punched him in the stomach when he saw Max clearly crying: eyes rimmed with tears and red, cheeks blotchy, and a slew of tissues scattered around the table.
"Max?" Brad asked tentatively, "Are you-?"
"If the ending to that question is "ok" I will punch you in the face dude."
"Max!" Penny gasped, but Grant only shook his head and continued to rub his boyfriend's back.
"No, it's okay." Brad shrugged, "it is a stupid question." He moved the table back and moved the tissues aside to sit in front of Max. "So, what happened?"
Max sniffed, he had already told this story to Grant, but he only told what happened once, and already he couldn't deal with it-didn't have the stomach to retell it.
"David, my cousin, remember him?"
Jane and Brad both nodded, they remembered David when he last visited them this past summer. It was an odd trip, to the say the least, because David only came by himself. When they pressed the issue, both Max and David wouldn't tell them why. But David was a good kid, sweet, funny, and unbelievably smart (too smart to be related to Max, was the joke), but there was a dark cloud somewhere in that trip that no one was allowed to talk about.
"He-He," Max sighed and a fresh new wave of tears hit him, causing Jane to pass him more tissues but Max shook his head 'no'. "My uncle Paul thought David was in his room for too long, he was too quiet. He went upstairs, found the computer was on; he turned around and saw Dave hanging on a beam in his closet. He was just there, not moving, not breathing."
"How's he doing now?" Brad asked soothingly, not realizing that Jane had made tea for everyone and was passing around cups. His wife answer for a stressful situation: tea or alcohol, or both depending on the situation.
"He's on suicide watch now." Dave informed him.
"Is there a reason why he would want to kill himself? Was he having a hard time at school or with his parents?" Brad asked.
Jane and Brad noticed Max and Grant both flinch. "Dave's facebook page was open. His school found out he was gay, so they tormented him. Even wrote 'fag' on his gym locker." Grant growled, he could feel Max squeeze his hand in comfort and thanks. "Apparently he was being bullied for the last week now."
"They just found out he was gay?"
"Apparently one of the guys at David's school saw him with another guy who's gay; I don't think he was on an actual valentine date with the guy, but I guess for this jerk it just looked suspicious enough."
"This is all my fault." Max blurted out, sobbing again. He felt everyone hugging him and squeezing his hand, "No, Max, honey this isn't your fault." Penny cooed, but he shoved everyone away and stood up.
"Yes, yes it is." He rubbed the tears away, but started to cry again. "He's been calling me this past week, today I noticed I had 23 missed calls from him. Twenty-three missed calls from my cousin before he decided to hang himself." Max ran his fingers through his hair, tugging on the end of his curls. "I-I should have called. God, why the hell didn't I call him back?" Max yelled at himself.
Grant quickly ran over to him and wrapped his arms around him, "This isn't your fault. You didn't see this coming." Everyone else nodded in agreement, but Max laughed bitterly.
"I would love to believe that, honestly I would. But there's a reason why only David and not his parents came to visit me. His mom, Lydia," Grant and the rest flinched at the anger in Max's voice, "she went berserk when I came out to my parents. She knows that David and I are close, she thought I would "infect" him with my gayness."
No one said anything for a while, having a hard time digesting what Max had said. They knew Max's parents were cool with him being gay, they just never thought Max's other family members. "David told me he was gay a week before he left." Max finally admitted, "I thought it was great, my favorite cousin and I could bond over football and hot guys now. But I know Lydia, she's an absolute bitch. Paul, David's dad and my mom's brother, was pretty good about me coming out. I thought he would support Davey. Guess not."
Grant cupped Max face, wiping his tears gently away with his thumb before kissing him. "You can't blame yourself for this. You can be thankful that Paul found him before he actually died. And you can help him now."
Max tried to smile but didn't have the heart for it. Instead he pulled his boyfriend closer, thankful more now than ever that he had Grant back in his life. "You are incredible."
"I know." He smirked, "Are you sure you don't want me to come with you?"
"Yeah, I'm sure." Max clapped his hands together, he was always ready to hit the road, but this time-it would take all his energy to see his cousin. "I should get packed," he glanced at the others "train leaves at 4."
Everyone stood up and hugged Max, "We'll drop you off, if you want." Brad offered, he and along with the others wanted to everything they could to help David.
"Thanks. I'll go and get ready now."
Penny and Jane both followed after him, "We'll help."
Max thanked them again as Dave told them he would call Alex to meet them at the station.
Once Max was out of ear shot, Brad looked back at Grant and Dave. He knew his best friend-he wasn't done blaming himself yet. "What do you guys think will happen?"
Grant shrugged, "Anything really."
All in all into took three hours for Max to get to the hospital and 12 supporting and loving phone calls from his friends.
'Twelve supporting and loving phone calls Davey should have gotten.' Max thought bitterly. His mom told him what floor David was on, but not which room. He was ready to ask a nurse at the nurses' station when he heard his uncle's loud voice down the hall.
He hid behind the wall of the waiting room as Paul and Lydia argued, luckily for all three of them there was no one coming in or out.
"He is not sick Lydia. He's not an animal or deranged felon who has to be kept from society." Paul growled viciously at his ex-wife.
Lydia shook her head, "Do not know what he could get if he continues being gay? He could get HIV or AIDs! You know that all those sick people do is have sex with each other like there's no tomorrow."
Why wasn't he surprised Lydia would say something like that?
"For God's sake Lydia-would you listen to yourself? Listen to how ridiculous you sound?"
Lydia guffawed, "I'm being ridiculous? I'm trying to cure my son. He's not gay; he's not one of those girly boys who cry when they break a nail. He's on his way to being a man who can get married to a woman and have kids if he fixes himself." Max's anger began to tenfold when he heard what Lydia had to say next. "I already made an appointment with a conversion therapist in Columbus for David. Dr. Balwere said within three to six months David would be all better."
Paul could only look at his wife in horror, "You did what?"
"She set your son to have a life where he lies to himself, becomes celibate because that's the only way to control your "urges", and a life where you're deemed as being sick, when the people "helping" are really the sick ones." Max piped up as he finally let his presence become known. He smirked sourly at Lydia, "Hey Lydia, never a good day to see you."
Lydia become resolute, "What is he doing here?" she whispered harshly to Paul who was still staring daggers at her.
"He's the reason why David is in here in the first place. Him and his stupid faggyness!" Lydia shouted pointing at Max as if he were really infected with something.
Max scratched the back of his head, anything to keep his hands from squeezing the crap out his uncle's ex. "Yeah, you keep on thinking that."
"It's the truth." Lydia shouted back at him
Max rolled his eyes, how thick headed was this woman? "Please, you and I both know that I'm not the reason for David being here." He seethed, "Whether I came out or not, David would still be gay, he would still be here in the end. The only thing that would have made a difference is if he didn't have a waif-air-headed-Ann-Coulter-worshiping-bitch of a mom who walked out on him when he was fifteen!" He cut off Lydia, already knowing what her immediate reaction would be. "I beg of you, please don't start your shit about finding yourself, because today's big news break is: Today isn't about you, you can leave right now, and David will still have to live with the fact that his entire school cheering him to kill himself and that his mom thinks he can be 'cured'."
Lydia opened her mouth again, but this time was stopped by Paul. He grabbed her arm, "You need to leave Lydia."
She pulled her arm away, "He's my son, Paul. I have the right to see and talk to him if I want."
"You left us three years ago, and yes, you're still a part of his life. But I believe this is the part where you should leave again."
"Fine, you want to lead your son into an early death, be my guest." She pulled her purse from near the couch and began to stride out, before Paul called out again.
"He's our son, Lydia! As much as it kills me to say this, David still loves you!"
"He's not my son. My son would have better common sense than living a life of sin and confusion. When David is ready to come back to his senses, we can talk." And with that she left the two men standing and shaking with anger.
It took a while for Max to find his words again; he could already feel his eyes burning with tears wanting to fall. His anger was so blinding that he never realized that Paul was hugging him until he felt the older man pulling away. "How the hell did such a good kid come out from that bigot?" he asked Paul, his mouth felt try and he could feel the bile creeping up. He could feel his uncle wiping away his tears. God, he hated crying.
"Shouldn't I be comforting you?" he asked lousily as Paul let out a soft laugh.
"I'll be crying for ages." He patted his nephew. "I'm so happy you're here."
"Needed to be here." Max sniffed, "Can I see him now?"
Paul nodded and walked him over to David's room.
He never saw David more exhausted looking, for some reason he had an image of David hooked up to all these monitors and machines, breathing for him. The sight of David of just being hooked up to an IV bag was almost comforting. Almost.
"Max." David groaned, a little smile appearing on his pale face.
Another image of David popped into Max's head, this time it was a memory. It was the first time he saw David in a hospital when he was two and sick with pneumonia. He looked so fragile then, sixteen years later-somehow David even looked more fragile.
He tried again to hold back the tears, "Hey cuz."
Paul sniffed, "I'll leave you two for a moment." He closed the door behind him, giving one last smile to Dave before leaving.
Max pulled out the chair near the door and sat close to his cousin. "I've only had three hours to think about what to say to you. And the only thing I can think off, while it does seem totally cliché and not really what you and I do, is to tell you that I'm sorry that I never called you back. I'm a jerk-"
"Max, you're not-" Max cut him off, he wasn't finished yet nor did he want to hear his cousin sore voice.
"Yeah, I am. I suck at being your "big brother". And I don't think I can make that up to you." He scooted his chair even closer and grabbed his cousin hand. "I love you. I love you and I never want to see you here like this again. I love you and I wish that that stupid kid had the heart to just mind his own damn business. I love you and you're a smart, athletic, funny, good hearted guy with killer eyebrows that is needed by a lot of people including myself. I love you and if you want to you can come and live with me in Chicago whenever you want. Now or later for school. I love you and I need to know that you'll be here tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. I love you and right now what you are going through sucks but I promise it won't stay like this forever. And most importantly, I love you." Max gave up on containing his tears, and through his watery eyes sight he knew David was crying as well. He stood up and gave the younger boy a hug, part of him never wanted to let go.
"I love you too, Max."
Hope you all liked it. And more fics coming soon (this story sort of links up with my other story: Because Max Knows All).
Disclaimer: I, by no means, have any rights and/or owner ship to these characters or shows (Glee and Happy Endings).