A/N: Major kudos to Austin in this one. I hope you enjoy it!
This might be the longest chapter yet.
Disclaimer: I do not own Make It or Break It.
Austin Tucker cannot believe he's about to do this. Doing this is the last thing he imagined himself doing, ever. But he would do anything for this one person. He isn't just doing this for her, though; he's doing it for himself. He needs to get this off his chest. It's the right thing to do.
Austin isn't doing this to make her come back, either. In fact, Austin doesn't even plan on telling her. He's doing it just because he knows it's what she would want.
After contemplating on it for about an hour, he finally musters up the sufficient amount of courage to get out of the bed. He knows everyone is done eating dinner, so it's the best time to do this.
Turning the night lamp on, he goes to the mirror to try to fix himself up a little bit. He doesn't want them to think he's been crying all day like a little kid. Every time a part of his mind tells him to get back into bed, he thinks of her face. It makes him want to do this even more.
As he heads downstairs, everybody has already disappeared and it's very quiet. The twenty-eight year old looks into the porch window and sees everyone making s'mores outside. Austin smiles; whether he likes to admit it or not, he's doing this for them too. He looks around the house and exhales with relief when he catches his mom, dad, and sister alone in the family room, watching television. He would have done this regardless, but it's a lot easier starting with his immediate family.
He stands in front of the television, so that they can only focus their attention on him. It's like someone waking up from the dead to his family right now. Austin hasn't been out of that room since this morning. They expected him to be lying there till his flight tomorrow. He gets straight to the point as soon as they are focused on him. Austin doesn't waste time, nor hesitate to say, "Everything was a lie."
His parents are confused as they sit up straighter. Both his parents and his sister tilt their heads a bit, signaling for him to explain.
Surprisingly, everything is coming out of his mouth calmly, despite the rapid pace of his beating heart. "Payson isn't my girlfriend. She was never my girlfriend. I don't even have a girlfriend. To be quite honest, I hate relationships and commitments. So, congratulations, Megan, looks like your prior suspicions were true."
Charlene and Michael simultaneously yell, "What?," at their eldest child.
Megan smirks as she leans back into her seat and says, "Oh my God. She really tells you everything."
"Not everything," he retorts.
"Austin," Michael begins, but his son quickly cut him off.
"Dad, that's not all. I'm also still not the man you think I am. I still love to party, hop from girl to girl, get drunk….I think you get the drift. Truth is, I'm still the Bad Boy of Gymnastics. That's been my life. I coach all day, party all night. So, once again, congratulations, Sis. Looks like you've guessed it again."
"What is she like your messenger? But anyway, oh my God! You really screwed us over, Austin."
Michael's face changes into one that Austin hates to see. Austin hates when his dad looks at him like that. He hates seeing his dad disappointed in him, almost as much as when Payson is. It's because he never shows his disappointment and when he does, it's bad enough for a person to become disappointed in himself or herself. Michael doesn't even know what to say because he's utterly shocked. He thought his son was finally becoming who he was meant to be; he's disappointed that it's not the case. However, Michael is more disappointed in himself that he doesn't know his son well enough to actually fall for this shit. "Son, I don't understand."
"Austin Edward Tucker, where do you expect me to begin with this? Why would you lie to us?" His mother asks .
"Mom, do you realize how much pressure you put on me to settle down? I didn't think I had a choice."
"Because Austin, if you don't realize… you are twenty-eight years old. Your father and I aren't getting any younger, and neither is your grandmother or my parents. We know you have a stable career, but Austin there's more to life than that. We want to see you get married, have children of your own. We just want you to be happy. I know your lifestyle may make you happy right now. But let me tell you, in the next five-years, partying every night isn't going to make you happy. And Austin, quite frankly, I can't express how disappointed I am with you."
Austin slowly nods his head. He understands what she's saying about this matter for the first time. He knows settling down should be what he's focusing on at this point in his life, but after living his life like this for so many years, he doesn't know how to do that. "I'm sorry to all of you. My break up with Kaylie was a lot more complicated than you guys know. The thing is, it damaged me and that's why I've been living like this. It's no one's fault but mine, though. I'm responsible for making myself the way I am today."
"What happened?" Charlene asks.
"I'll explain later. Mainly because it's beside the point. That was in the past, and from now on, I'm looking forward."
"I'm glad to hear that, son, but there's something I need to tell you," Michael says. He stands up and positions himself right in front of his son, so he looks at him and nothing else. "Like your mother said, you are twenty-eight years old. You're a grown man and now responsible for your own life. So, if you want to live it to the point where you're partying every night, that's your problem. If you want to live it to the point where you have ten different women having your children, that's your problem. You're a very independent person; you've never been dependent on us. But just so you know, your mother and I are no longer responsible for you. You're responsible for yourself. And that's all I have to say." He sits back down after his point is made.
"I agree. It is my life. And the reason why I've told you guys this is because I'm tired. I'm tired of everything being a lie. I'm done lying. Someone special put things into perspective for me. I really don't want to take you guys for granted because at the end of the day, you're my family. I love you and you don't deserve to be lied to."
"Thank you, Austin. I'm proud that you at least were man enough to come to us and tell the truth. It takes a lot to do that."
Austin beams when he thinks of that special person again. It's time to tell his family something else. "There's one more thing, though."
"What are you not really a coach or something?" Charlene half-jokes.
Austin rolls his eyes and shakes his head. "I meant there's one more thing that I actually didn't lie to you guys about, and the funny thing is that I didn't even realize it wasn't a lie until an hour ago," he says, smiling, "I'm completely and downright in love with that woman." From the first time they kissed, Austin knew he was feeling something he wasn't supposed to be feeling with his best friend. It was more than just a fake kiss; it was more of a long-overdue one. Everything all started to make sense now. Now it makes sense to him why he's so afraid to lose her. There was nothing more to it other than that he's whipped.
"See, I knew I wasn't going crazy!" Megan says.
"You weren't, Megan. I just can't believe it has taken me years to figure out. Last night was completely my fault. I was irresponsible and as the older one I shouldn't have allowed us get that drunk. We don't regularly do this together. As a matter of fact, Payson doesn't even regularly do this at all, and the only reason she would ever have a one-night stand, let alone under this roof, was if she was drunk. Payson just isn't like that."
"So… you slept with your best friend, who you just happen to be in love with, while you two were acting like boyfriend and girlfriend? Wow," Megan notes, "Did Payson happen to also tell you that I totally called it that this reunion is twisted?"
"Wait. But she still agreed to help you lie to us…?" Charlene asks.
"She didn't want to," Austin explains, "She was actually totally against it when I had pitched the idea. I pretty much forced her into it, when I should have just listened to her suggestion to tell you guys the truth. You guys don't understand how much she's done for me over the years. Payson ended up agreeing to this because when it comes to making me happy, she's willing to do anything. And I think I took advantage of that. I shouldn't have. I've taken her for granted and by the time I figured out how much she means to me, it was too late." he admits.
Confused, his dad asks, "If you don't mind me asking, Austin, what are you still doing here? Go fix things with her!"
Austin shakes his head. "It's not that simple, Dad. Payson has never been angrier with me in her life. She hates me right now. I've tried calling and texting her so many times but she hasn't picked up. She took a plane back to Boulder this morning, and there's no way they'll be able to get me a plane ticket right now. Besides, I think she'd want me to stay here with you guys."
Megan folds her arms over her chest and inquires, "You said she got a plane ticket back to Boulder? Interesting."
Charlene quickly jumps into the conversation again and says, "And it's still not even that simple. Like your father said, this is your life. But I heard something about her that I'm not quite comfortable with, mister."
Austin frowns and crosses his arms over his chest, wondering what possibly Payson could have done. "And what is that?"
"I heard she had an affair with her coach while she was still a gymnast."
"Oh my God...," Austin mutters.
"Mom, that was a rumor!" Megan says.
He sighs. "She's going to kill me for telling you this, but Payson had a little tiny crush on Sasha when she was sixteen and she kissed him. That was it. He didn't even kiss back. Payson would never take it further than that even if it were more than a crush and neither would Sasha. They're both smart people," Austin defends.
Megan gets a funny feeling in her stomach and can't help but ask her mother, "Mom, how did you even find out about it?"
"Uhm, that girl, Amber told me."
Her daughter rolls her eyes and scoffs out of disbelief and disgust. "Mom, you listened to Amber? Why in the world would you listen to her? She's bad news."
"What do you mean she's bad news?" Charlene asks.
"All I'm to say is that Amber has her motives." There was a time that her and Amber somewhat got along, but after Megan found out about Amber's ulterior motives, she was could no longer look at her the same.
Austin sighs. "Well, I don't know what's going on with that, but I think I've said all I needed to say. It's finally off my chest, and I'm just glad that lying to you guys is in the past now."
"We are too," his father says.
Austin walks out of the family room and wanders around the house. He smiles when he sees his grandmother still in the dining room, sitting down and reading a book. He sits down in a seat across from her. "Hey Grandma," he greets.
"Oh, hi, Austin. How are you doing?"
In her old, withered voice Grace says, "I was very sad to hear that Payson left. I really liked her, and you two were so good together."
He doesn't want to give his grandmother a heart attack, but she needs to know. "Grandma, I guess I should tell you now that we were faking it the whole time."
Grace laughs as she closes her book. "Oh honey, I knew that."
Austin replies, shocked, "You knew?"
"Yes, since day one," Grace says.
"How… did you know?" her grandson asks.
"I could just tell. It's a special grandmother instinct."
Austin is confused. Grace has brought up the subject of marriage and children this week more times than he could count with his ten fingers. "Grandma, if you knew this whole time, then why did you keep bringing up the subject of getting married to her?"
"Austin, there is someone out there that you love. I can see it in your eyes. This week it finally occurred to me who it was, regardless of if the relationship was real of fake."
He looks down. "Unfortunately, I figured that out way too late."
"You know, Michael was the same way when he was younger. I think that's why he hates seeing you like this."
"My dad?" He never knew of his dad having any rebellious years.
"Yep. He was very… unfocused. I mean, at least you have your career you care about. Your father on the other hand was a complete struggle. He didn't care about anything. When your grandfather was dying, it was very emotional for your father and I. He told your dad that he responsible for his own actions and that it was his life. Before he died, he told him that his only wish is for him to just be happy and be the man he was meant to be. And a few months after he died, your father pulled his life together." Austin recognizes those words. Part of it was from what Michael had just told Austin, and part of it was from what Michael has been telling Austin for years. It all makes sense. Michael doesn't want him to wait all the way until he's dead for him to change his ways. "Of course, the only difference is that he never lied to us about who he was, but that's okay."
"I'm so sorry for lying to you, grandma. It's just that-"
Grace cuts him off and shakes her head. "Sweetheart, don't even worry about it. I understand why you did it," she says, "The thing is, honey, grandma doesn't have that much more time down here."
"Grandma, don't say that…"
"Well, let's face it. In a matter of years I'll no longer be here. That's the reason I brought you all together this week. I don't want to die knowing that my family is all broken. I wanted you all to have a different perspective on each other than you had before, and become a real family, not just people with the same last name. That was one of my wishes. And I'm to tell you another wish of mine, just like your grandfather told your father. All I want is for you to be happy. And I want you to find someone who loves you for you, and is willing to be there for you whenever, wherever. Whether it's Payson or someone else, I just want you to find someone who makes you happy." Grace pulls out a royal blue jewelry box from one of the cabinets and places it onto the table.
She opens it and a beautiful, diamond necklace with a small royal blue heart pendant is revealed. It almost resembles the heart of the ocean, but with a slight difference. "Your grandfather didn't have much money, but wanted to buy me this so badly. He gave it to me right before we got married as a promise that we would walk down the aisle," she says, smiling, "I want you to give this to the girl who you want to spend the rest of your life with."
Austin shakes his head, sliding the box back to her. "No, grandma, this is yours. I can't take this."
"Austin, I want you to take it, and give it to whichever girl you find special enough to want to spend every day with for the rest of your life. I'm not accepting no for an answer."
Austin takes the box in his hands and ponders on whether to keep it or not. There's a large possibility that Payson doesn't even want him. And if she doesn't, the chances that he'll find someone to love as much are very slim. Well, it's worth the shot.
"Thank you. I honestly don't know what to say."
"Don't say anything, especially to your cousins. I don't want them to think that you're the favorite or something."
"I thought I was the favorite, Grandma" he jokes.
She laughs at her grandchild, saying, "Come here and give me a hug." Austin has to crouch down in order to do so, due to the fact that he's at least a foot taller than her. "I love you, sweet heart. Never forget that."
He smiles as he responds, "I love you, too."
As Austin comes out of the dining room, it seems as if some people have come inside, including Cayden and some of his other cousins. They approach him and Austin already knows they're up to something. "'We're waiting' my ass," Cayden mocks, patting Austin on the chest, and hidden in the hand he pats him with, is a condom. It falls on the ground and Cayden comments, "You might want to pick that up. You're going to need it."
Austin has had enough. He doesn't know if it's the fact that his cousins were making fun of him or the whole situation from that day that made him react so harshly. He received a quick rush of adrenaline within him and used it to punch his cousin in the gut. Not only was he disrespecting Austin, he was disrespecting the girl he loves. Yeah, it probably would have been easier he just told them the whole truth, but he doesn't have the time nor patience to do so. "Don't you ever, ever talk to me like that! Have some damn respect!" Austin barks.
At the sound of Austin's voice, everyone in the house rushes over to the scene in attempt to break it up. Cayden is to the ground, and with the help of the other cousins, he is able to recover. "What the fuck, man?"
"I'm sick and tired of the immature, snarky remarks from all of you. Grow up," he says to all of his guy cousins. "I need to get out of here," Austin says. He walks up the stairs to his bedroom to grab his jacket.
The older adults, including Austin's parents leave the room and walk outside to let the younger ones work it out.
"I still can't believe Payson left. She was so strong. I didn't think anything was able to break her," Adrianne says.
"Even the strongest girls break sometimes," Cassie remarks.
"And to think that this is all her fault," Amber says.
Megan rolls her eyes, as she leisurely says, "Shut up, Amber."
"Excuse me?" she says.
"I bet this is exactly what you wanted all along. You know, just out of pure curiosity, how hard did you look to find that information about Payson?"
"What do you mean?" Amber asks.
"Don't try and act dumb. The information you told my mom about her."
Amber shrugs. "I just found it on the internet."
"Really? That simple? Because I can bet there was probably maybe two articles about it, which was written years ago. There's no way it took you anything less than two hours to find." Megan laughs out of incredulity, "You must have been trying so hard to find something on her."
"And why would I do that?" Amber asks.
"You want me to say it? In front of everybody, including your boyfriend?"
Amber folds her arms over her chest, chuckling. "Humor me."
"No problem," Megan replies, smirking, "Everybody, Amber has been in love with Austin for years. There you go. Excluding the fact that you're a total bitch, that's the reason why I can't stand you. You've been leading Cayden on for years meanwhile you've been in love with his cousin the whole time. I'm sorry you guys had to find out this way, especially you Cayden."
Luckily for Amber, only a small portion of the family (mainly the cousins) is involved in this discussion. Unluckily for her, Austin conveniently comes downstairs in time to hear Megan's statement. Everyone is silent and Amber quickly tries to defend herself," Guys, that's not true," she denies.
Cayden's attitude changes from amusement and anger to shuttering disbelief. Austin's attitude changes, as well, but it's from pure anger to also shuttering disbelief. Cayden's breathing becomes quicker and harder as he turns to Amber. "Is this true?"
Amber runs up to Cayden and gently grabs him by the shirt. "Babe, you know that's not true. I love you."
Cayden shakes his head. "No you don't," he says calmly. "I'm not sure about what Megan is saying, but you don't love me. I can tell. And it isn't too far fetched that the reason why you're staying with me is to get closer to my cousin."
"Cayden, don't be ridiculous," Amber says.
"Give me one reason I should believe you and not my own flesh and blood."
"Because Cayden, I love you. We've been together for so long."
"I don't care how long we've been together! Tell me a good reason why you're in love with me and not Austin. I mean, you haven't spent anytime with me this whole reunion and you don't even look at me the same way."
He could feel her clammy hands touch his face lightly while she's begging quietly, "Cayden, honey, please. Let's just put this behind us."
"Put what behind us? The fact that you're in love with my cousin? That's a whole new kind of foolishness right there. Look, Amber, I deserve better. I don't deserve sneaky, conniving people who try and ruin people's lives just to get what she wants. I deserve a woman who actually cares about me. Unfortunately, you disgust me. Get your bags from upstairs. And if you want, I'll give you money to stay at a hotel for the time being. I don't want to see you ever again. Get out," he says, sternly.
Amber runs upstairs, crying. She couldn't believe this; she got rid of Payson, but in return, she got rid of herself. She doesn't have Cayden anymore, which means she'll never have a chance with Austin, all she's wanted for years.
All the young adults are quiet and Austin feels it's his job to take initiative to break the silence. He walks over to Cayden and gives him a hug. "I'm proud of you," he says.
"Thanks," Cayden says, releasing. "I'm proud of me too. You were right; I do deserve better and I'm going to find out who she is one day."
"Good for you, Cay." He pats him on the shoulder and walks toward the door, taking out his grandmother's keys.
"Where are you going?" One of his other cousins asks.
"I just need to clear my thoughts. I'll be back," he says before closing the door.
Megan sighs, looking at her older cousin's face. He looks relieved, yet like he just lost something. She feels bad about blurting out that information in front of everybody. The twenty-three year old saunters to her older cousin and gives him a hug, as well. Letting go, she says, "I'm sorry I embarrassed you like that. I didn't mean to expose your personal life in front of everybody. I was just sick and tired of her."
"Don't worry about it, squirt. You were doing me the favor."
"Anyway, I'll be back, too. There's something important I have to do first." she explains, grabbing her jacket from the closet.
Stepping outside, she finds Austin getting into Grace's car. He catches her about to get into her own car and says, "Megan," he begins, "I really am sorry. For lying to you, for not thinking you were capable to taking care of yourself, for everything."
"Oh my God, stop apologizing. I get it and I forgive you. I just really have to hurry up; I have things to do," she says.
"And where are you going?" Austin asks his younger sister.
Megan smirks. "You'll see," she remarks, getting into her car and driving off.
Austin grins. Maybe this whole reunion is twisted, but it has taught him and opened his eyes about everything. One of which is that maybe lying isn't his only option.
Author's Note: Okay. I don't even know where to start with all of that. So, I'm not going to start anything, except don't think of Kaylie and Carter while thinking about that necklace. The meaning behind is similar, but no. Just no. I'll leave you guys to ponder on everything else. Please Review!