I'll Cover You
David didn't usually wake up when Bryan came to bed late. As a doctor, David had learned to take catnaps where he could and fall back to sleep quickly. The bed barely moved when Bryan crawled in—Bryan could be considerate when he wasn't exceptionally horny. With David's mother gone, David had expected his lover to pounce the bed and surprise him with whipped cream or some other unhealthy food, but thus far, nothing exciting had happened. David would never confess to being disappointed by that. The turn in his mom's attitude toward Bryan had Bryan broody.
Failing to turn his brain off, David reached for his lover's hand, hoping an impromptu cuddle would help him sleep. But Bryan wasn't lying on his back; he lay on his side, his back to David. That usually meant Bryan was mad at him, and David racked his brain trying to remember what (if anything) he'd done wrong. Sleep was rapidly becoming impossible.
Rolling onto his side, David spooned Bryan affectionately, but Bryan jumped out of the bed, pacing and digging the heels of his hands into his eyes.
"Bry, what's wrong?" David asked, startled by the reaction.
"Nothing," Bryan lied, sitting on the edge of the bed. He touched David's hand, but then retracted his hand and stood, pacing again, clutching his stomach.
"Are you sick?" David asked, switching to doctor mode. Crawling to the edge of the bed, he caught Bryan's arm and gave his lover a clinical once-over. Swollen, red-rimmed eyes, raw skin under his nose, no tell-tale glint of night cream. There were no signs of anything but heartache. The fact that Bryan hadn't answered and avoided eye contact was both worrying and confusing. "Did I forget something important?"
"No," Bryan said, his voice tight. He was on the verge of tears. "I don't want to keep you up. I'll go sleep on the couch."
"You don't have to," David said, taking Bryan's hands, not letting him go. "Talk to me."
Tears rolled down Bryan's cheek, and he shook his head, tugging feebly to get free.
"Okay," David said, cradling his lover's face, his concern growing. "Okay, don't talk. You don't have to talk."
Bryan swallowed hard, looking at the ceiling, failing to hide the tears streaming down his cheeks. He surrendered to David's embrace, sobbing softly, tensing every time he tried to stop. His skin was flush and his hands trembled. They laid back on the bed together, and David rubbed Bryan's back soothingly. He had a thousand questions, but he was worried that speaking again would make Bryan run. Checking the clock, David cringed. It was just after two a.m., meaning David had exactly four hours left to sleep. It also meant Bryan could have been awake, alone, and upset for many hours, and he'd probably burned through that entire chocolate stash he'd been hiding behind the couch.
"Did you watch Rent? You know you can't watch that alone," David joked, combing his fingers through Bryan's hair. Bryan shook his head, a new sob surfacing at the mention of his sixth favorite movie. It always amazed David how deeply touched Bryan was by the shows he watched and the stories he heard. David loved seeing that look on his lover's face—when Bryan became completely enraptured by what he was seeing. Frustrated by how helpless he felt, David started humming the tune to one of the songs from Rent. He wasn't a singer, and didn't have the show memorized like Bryan did, but little things like that often cheered Bryan up.
"Stop," Bryan murmured, worrying the fabric of David's shirt, reining in his tears. Violence toward fabric—even a t-shirt—was a bad sign. David hugged his lover and fell silent.
"I don't want to talk," Bryan said, sniffling, wiping his cheek on David's shirt.
"I'm going to sleep now," David said, adjusting his hold on Bryan, wishing he didn't feel so helpless.
"I called my mom," Bryan confessed quickly, his body tensing as a fresh wave of tears surfaced.
David cringed and squeezed Bryan hard. Bryan hadn't spoken to his mother in years, and he never said why. Family was a strangely touchy subject with Bryan. Sometimes, the happiest childhood memories would emerge; other times, the mere mention would make him shut down.
"Did you tell her about the baby?" David asked. He wished Bryan had talked to him—that they could have announced together.
"I tried," Bryan said, suppressing his emotions again, taking a deep breath to dry his heart of tears. "I don't want to talk. Don't ask."
David was going to point out that Bryan brought it up, but his chances of getting Bryan to say more hinged on his ability to tactfully hold his tongue—something David was good at with everyone in the world except Bryan. With Bryan, David always felt safe saying anything that crossed his mind, and Bryan always forgave him for stupid, insensitive, and tactless things.
"I love you," David said, kissing the top of Bryan's head. Bryan lifted his face, and their lips met in a tender, sweet kiss.
"I'm sorry I woke you," Bryan said.
"You're worth it," David said, kissing him again. Bryan returned the kiss, intense sadness pulsing through their connected lips. He grabbed David's clothes, desperately clinging to his lover. Pulling Bryan tightly to him, David rolled so that he was on top. Straddling Bryan's hips, David kissed around Bryan's face and down his neck. Bryan groaned, his body arching at first, then contracting as his tears resurfaced. He needed cuddles, not sex.
"I'm sorry," Bryan said, covering his face with his hand, trying to hide the kind of shame that only a degrading conversation with one's mother could bring out in a man.
Smiling sweetly, David pressed Bryan's hand to his lips and kissed his palm, then he kissed Bryan's face, his cheeks, and his neck until he felt Bryan laughing. Snuggling next to his lover, David gazed into Bryan's eyes and caressed his face.
"I wanted her to be happy for us," Bryan whispered, a tear rolling off his nose and splashing onto the pillow.
"She will be," David promised. "She'll see our beautiful baby, and she will be so happy."
"She won't accept it," Bryan said, shivering and lacing his fingers through David's.
"She'll come around."
"I want our baby to know his or her grandmother."
"I know," David said, feeling Bryan's fear. David did his best to ignore the judgmental statements of others, but Bryan cared a great deal about how he was perceived. Bryan was fearless about being himself, but he wasn't as hard-shelled as he pretended to be in public.
"She said you'd take our baby from me," Bryan choked, nestling against David, tucking his face against David's neck so that David could feel the dampness of his tears. "It's not my baby. It'll never be mine."
"Yes. Yes it is," David insisted, feeling his own emotions surged. He wrapped his arms protectively around Bryan. It was bad enough that the government wouldn't recognize their marriage, but to deny Bryan parenthood... this baby was Bryan's idea. Without Bryan, there would be no child. "It's our baby. Ours. Always ours."
There was nothing David could say to help. He knew how he'd feel if their positions were reversed. He'd seen how his mother had reacted to the news of a grandchild that was biologically hers. David had fought for genetic parenthood, and he loved Bryan all the more for letting him win without a fight. It wasn't supposed to matter, but it did, and there was nothing David could do—no assurance he could give—to change that.
"You've already adopted Shania," David pointed out. "You are going to be an amazing dad."
"It's not enough for her," Bryan whispered, covering his mouth as though he were ashamed to say it.
"Next baby, we'll use your sperm," David said. He felt his ears go red as soon as the words were out of his mouth. Even Bryan was shocked by the statement.
"We can have more than one?" Bryan asked hopefully, his watery eyes getting wide.
David's first impulse was to retract the statement with a cautious 'we'll see.' He bit his tongue, forcing his brain down a different path. He didn't want to promise dozens. He didn't want to presume Goldie's womb would be available for future babies. But he couldn't bring himself to crush the hope in Bryan's eyes.
The persisting silence spoke for him. Bryan's face fell, and he laid his head on David's chest, disappointed. The flush faded from David's skin, leaving a lingering guilt.
"How many do you want?" David asked, his throat getting tight. The notion of parenthood was frightening enough for him. Bryan came from a large family, and didn't seem as freaked out by the notion.
"Six," Bryan said immediately, his voice void of the hope that normally coated their discussions of family.
"Two," David countered.
"Three?" Bryan tried, turning his red-rimmed puppy eyes on David. David could already picture Bryan in the morning, standing in front of the mirror, lamenting the disruption to his skin-care regiment and he couldn't help smiling.
"We'll have to switch to zone defense."
"One at a time," Bryan said, closing his eyes and sighing contentedly. Bryan saw them so perfectly as a family and David couldn't help wanting the fairy tale.
Bryan's breathing settled and he fell asleep, leaving David alone with his thoughts. Three was a scary enough number to keep David up all night, but the fact that he'd brought peace to Bryan made David feel strong enough to take on anything.