Preference By marea67
Brothers &Sisters are not mine, I know, stop rubbing it in. Summary
: Tommy reflects on his preference.
Tommy enters the room reluctantly and Scotty looks up. He seems very tired.
“How is he?” Tommy asks, voice raw with tiredness. Scotty nods.
“He ate a little bit, drank a lot... complaining there was only water...” They both laugh nervously.
“Sounds like Kevin alright.” Tommy comments.
“The morphine put him back to sleep about 10 minutes ago... Elizabeth?”
“Cheerful... She threw up last night, but for the last 10 hours she’s kept all her food and liquids inside, so here’s to hoping it stays that way... She looks a lot better.”
“It’s good to hear that.” Scotty replies listless.
For a moment Tommy just stands there, turning his wedding-ring around and around on his finger, knowing he wants something, but he’s not sure how to ask.
“There is a chair over there, if you’re looking....” Scotty points.
“No. It’s just... I don’t how to.. ask you this.. but would it be possible for me to be alone with Kevin for a few minutes?”
Scotty looks at Tommy. At first he feels overtaken by the question, as if Tommy doesn’t want him near his husband, but at the same time he knows that that is not true. This is about Tommy and about his relationship with Kevin. Scotty knows that communications between the two of them have been minimal these last few months. And he knows that Kevin missed Tommy, so maybe Tommy missed Kevin as well and this could be the first step to repairing the damage.
“Sure.” Scotty says with a gentle smile. “Why don’t I go over the coffee-machine and you can find me there, when you’re ready? It gives me an excuse to stretch my legs a bit.” Tommy looks grateful for the understanding and Scotty leaves the room, after one last glance over his shoulder. He hates to leave Kevin, but maybe there is something that must be done between the two brothers.
Tommy turns to Kevin once Scotty left. He stares at Kevin lying there motionless. His chest going up and down becomes a focus for Tommy. It looks peaceful and calm and slowly Tommy relaxes a bit. He starts to realize what his brother has done for him. It starts to sink in that the person he loves most in his life, his beautiful daughter, his pride and joy, is here because of Kevin.
When he found out he was sterile, his entire world crumbled around him. He was unable to give his beautiful wife the one thing she wanted so badly. He had been heart-broken at first, but being the practical man he was, he had looked for options. And as he had sat there and had listened to this woman at the sperm-bank rave about certain donors and he knew he would turn them all down, because in his mind someone had to be asked first.
For if someone else was going to get his wife pregnant, he had a good idea who it should be. Kevin. When he suggested it to Julia, Julia looked at him as if he suggested she should actually share a bed with Kevin, but once he explained his reasons, she reluctantly said that she ‘think about it’.
A bit shy he takes Kevin’s hand into his own. In a, for him, uncharacteristic motion he places Kevin’s hand against his lips. The hand is large and strong. It is what Tommy always admired about Kevin and what he found to be sorely missing in Justin. Strength. Determination. Pride. Fighting spirit.
When Kevin came out, the house had been a battle-zone. And he had seen up close and personal the trouble and pain Kevin had gone through. William had made Kevin’s life a hell, first with his silence towards and about Kevin, then by belittling Kevin whenever he could. Yet, Kevin had weathered all those storms.
Oh, not undamaged, not without scars, not with his heart and soul intact, but he got through. Tommy cannot remember how many times he picked up Kevin from a bar, totally drunk and crying that he felt so lonely, but the next morning he would sit at the breakfast-table, pale and still hung-over, but facing William. Quietly. Silently. Accusation in his big blue eyes as he looked at his father. And William would pretend that Kevin wasn’t there, pretend he didn’t see the pain.
And then Tommy would find Kevin in the bathroom, puking his guts out, and he would hold Kevin’s head and caress the hair from the sweaty forehead, get a wash-cloth and clean Kevin’s face and feel for his brother, who didn’t deserve to be treated like this. And he would tell Kevin to leave the house and Kevin would look up at him. His eyes bright with contradiction, his fists clenched and his jaw locking stubbornly. “I’m not going to let him win.... Not ever. Not even if it kills me...”
And he had had a few brushes with death. Like when Kevin was severely beaten up during a mugging. Tommy had not been in town when it happened. But when, two days after the bashing, he saw Kevin in the hospital, his heart had nearly stopped beating. Kevin was black and blue all over. His face all swollen and bruised.
Yet he had looked Tommy with a light in his eyes, happy to see Tommy.
“Hey, what is this I hear?” Tommy had asked with fake cheer.
“Someone didn’t like my pink shirt.” Kevin had joked with swollen lips.
“Told you, you should have gone for the fluorescent green one.” Tommy had grinned and he had watched the little smile appear, but only to be replaced by an incredible sadness.
“What’s going on?”
“Keep my secret, Tommy?”
“I know who attacked me.”
“But you told the police you didn’t.”
“I lied. It was Keith Robbins,... he used to be one of my best friends in high-school.”
“I know.... Maybe he didn’t recognize you.” Tommy had tried, not able to understand.
“No. He called my name. I hadn’t seen in 3 years.... I never saw it coming. He walked up to me, called my name. I thought he... he wanted to talk to me. It all happened so fast, Tommy.”
“So it was a gay-bashing? How could he do this to you? You two were such good friends.”
“He never liked f.... faggots... I should have known. .. I should have... It is all my own fault and I feel so stupid, for not remembering that.”
“Regardless if he likes gay people or not, it doesn’t give him the right to beat you up.”
“If mom finds out, she’ll create such a fuss and dad will only think that I got what I rightfully deserve.”
“Don’t say that, Kev.”
“You promised, Tommy. Not a word.”
“Not a word.”
It had taken Tommy three hours to find out where Keith was. He waited him for to come home and followed Keith easily into the hall. Too late Keith had seen him and then he had been too slow to get away from Tommy’s wrath. Tommy had shown him the 4 walls of the hall and every single corner. Twice. Tommy made it sure that Keith understood that what had happened to him was nothing to what Tommy still could do and Keith never pressed charges.
When Kevin found out, he asked Tommy about it and Tommy didn’t lie.
“Thank you for that, Tommy. I would have loved to break his face myself....”
“Now you don’t have to. Hey. We’re Walkers. No one messes with us. And nobody is going to beat you up... except me .... And Sarah.”
Tommy smiles at the memory and he looks at the sleeping Kevin in his hospital bed. He holds Kevin’s hand tightly.
“I’m sorry.” He whispers. “.. but it had to be you. I prayed it would be you.” Yes, he really had prayed for that. Because if he could choose he wanted his child to be like Kevin. A survivor. And little Elizabeth is
And he feels guilty, because he also remembers why it was important to Justin. But as much as he loves Justin, he had watched Justin throw his life away too many times. He had to clean up after Justin too often. Justin had been trouble since young age and at first Tommy had felt as protective of him, as he did of Kevin, but a few years ago he had to recognize that he was done with Justin.
To Tommy it had always seemed that something was missing in Justin that Kevin had. A certain drive to accomplish, to succeed, to not just simply give up. And in the times that Justin started to use drugs, he had watched Kevin fight a war at home. Where Justin was loved and babied by William, more than even by Nora, Kevin had to fight to be accepted for who he is.
While Kevin had studied hard and worked many hours, Tommy had seen Justin on the beach just doing nothing better than being stoned. And while Justin was surrounded by vague friends and acquaintances and had been hanging around the pool, Kevin had grown lonelier. And where Justin hopped from bed to bed with equally disinterested girls, Kevin just didn’t seem to succeed to find the right man.
And Tommy respects Justin for Afghanistan and for Iraq. He is still very proud of Justin’s decision and he had sincerely hoped that Justin would remain disciplined once he was back home, but within a few weeks after Justin’s return from Afghanistan, he and William had found Justin stoned by the pool. He was completely lost in a world of his own.
Tommy frowns at that memory. He doesn’t want to be reminded. He only now notices how empty Kevin’s hand is. Naturally he had to take off his wedding-ring in hospital. But it looked strange. He can’t help but smile when he remembers how particularly proud he felt when he saw Kevin getting married to Scotty. And then the rings... He grins.
He remembers handing over his own wedding-ring to Scotty and from where he stood, he could clearly see Kevin’s face as Scotty put the ring on his finger. From that moment on, Scotty would be the one Kevin would turn to and somehow it made Tommy a little sad... He closes his eyes, because now he starts to realize that he hadn’t just cut his ties to Kevin, he had simply dropped him, discarded him.
“I swear, Kevin, I will find a way to correct my mistake.” He says quietly. Kevin moves in his sleep, but doesn’t open his eyes. Tommy smiles. Kevin will be alright, he knows, and he will have to get back to Julia and Elisabeth. And let Scotty take care of Kevin. He places Kevin’s hand back on the bed. After one more look at his brother Tommy turns away and heads to the coffee-machine to find Scotty.