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16 September 2012 @ 01:48 pm
 
TITLE/PROMPT: Fifty Kinds Of Awkward/Embarassed
AUTHOR: mkrobinson/bloodredcherries
RATING: PG-13
WORDS: 4298
TABLE: http://babysitters100.livejournal.com/53582.html#cutid1
SUMMARY:
 “Jeff...” I opened my eyes, surprised to see that Mary Anne was standing there, looking fifty kinds of awkward, and I sat up and moved over, still surprised when she sat down. Beside me, Byron snored. Loudly. “I was wondering if I might talk to you.”

“About what?”

“I know what Logan said to you,” she answered, not looking at me, but at the grass beneath the swing. “I know that he called you that word and I am sorry. That is why we got into the disagreement on our way here.”

WARNINGS: Any warnings and/or triggers that may be included in your fic.
NOTES: This was my easter egg fic for imamaryanne and I was going to post it sooner [indeed I thought I had] but it appears I forgot to. Oops. 

I'm pretty sure that my mother doesn't quite understand that Byron and I are a couple.

Oh, sure, she talks about how 'accepting' she is, and how she and my stepfather know 'couples like us' (which I doubt because it's Mom and Richard), and about how 'cute' she finds us, but I know that deep down she just doesn't get it. Byron doesn't believe me, but I swear it's true.

This is my mother, after all, the woman who can't remember where she left her keys or whether or not she turned the stove on after putting dinner in to cook. She just doesn't get things.

That's what makes this dinner so awkward.

Well, not just that. It isn't just my mother, because for all intents and purposes she does think that we're genuinely adorable, and she does make an effort to understand that we aren't just 'experimenting'. And surprisingly it isn't Richard, who doesn't particularly like the fact that Byron and I are dating, but at least has come to accept that it keeps me in Stoneybrook, which makes Mom happy, and he has taken it better than I'd expected. And Byron's parents aren't really the problem either-Dee and John had had their suspicions about us long before we were ready to admit it (one of the benefits of having an absentminded mother is that she probably still wouldn't have figured it out, had Richard not taken her aside and explained), and though his siblings were all coming (something I doubt Mom and Richard had anticipated) they weren't the problem either. My kid sisters were too young to really understand (they're Mom and Richard's kids, so they're much younger). The problem was really Dawn and Mary Anne. Well, mostly Mary Anne's boyfriend, Logan.

He really didn't like our relationship, and mostly put up with it for Mary Anne's sake.

My Dad and Carol were cool with our relationship, and I was glad for that, but that didn't make things in Stoneybrook any easier.

“Honey,” I heard my mother call from the kitchen, “can you help me with the groceries?”

I got myself off the couch and walked into the kitchen, wordlessly putting some of the food away.

“What are you making for dinner, Mom?” I chanced to ask.

“Hmm? Oh, for our little party?” She asked me, handing me the milk.

Mommm, it isn't a 'little party',” I replied.

“Richie's picking some takeout up, don't worry,” she answered, obviously distracted by something. “Now, I know that you won't like this, Jeffy, but I invited the Brunos...”

“What?! Mom, why would you do that?”

“Because Mary Anne pointed out that it isn't fair to invite your boyfriend's parents and not hers, and she's really right.”

I glared at her. “Logan hates me and Byron together. Do you really think that Mr. and Mrs. Bruno will be any better?”

“I know.” She hesitated, pulling me into a quick hug. “I know that he does. I'm sorry , honey.”

“Then why'd you invite them?”

“Because, honey, I can't stop Mary Anne from dating Logan. Just like I can't stop you from dating Byron. And it really isn't fair of me to invite his parents and not Logan's. It'll just be one night. That's all.”

“They think we're freaks.”

“Do you think that you're a freak?” She looked me in the eyes and I shook my head. “All that matters is what you and Byron think, honey. I know that it isn't easy...”

She trailed off, releasing me, and I could tell by the far away look in her eyes that she was thinking of some memory. I shifted awkwardly, busying myself by putting away the ice cream that was melting on the counter. I couldn't help but notice that it was By's favorite kind, and I smiled at her. She blinked, refocusing her attention on me, smiling back.

“Thanks, Mom.”

“For what?” She seemed genuinely confused. “What are you thanking me for?”

“For...never mind, Mom. Don't ever change.”

I could tell she was still confused. I sighed.

“Look, as I was saying, you just have to ignore people like Lyman and Louise, honey,” she whispered, somehow managing to remember that she'd been trying to give me an inspirational lecture. “I know that you think that I'm old and that I don't know what you're going through, and you're entitled to think that, but I think I know what I'm talking about.”

I smiled at her, hoping that she was done. I didn't want to hear about what she'd overheard on the radio and stored away for this exact moment. Mom did stuff like this all the time.

“Can I tell my redneck jokes?”

What?” She gaped at me, probably having anticipated some sort of 'bonding experience' over this whole comparison she'd discovered between her high school relationship with Richard and my relationship with Byron, but I wasn't Mary Anne, or even Dawn.

“My redneck jokes,” I repeated, smirking. “You know, what's the difference between-”

“I know what they are, Jeffrey!”

Darn it. I'd been about to tell a good one, too.

“Can I? Puh-lease?”

She sighed, looking contemplative. “I – perhaps. We'll see.”

It wasn't a yes, but it was good enough.

I perched on the counter – Richard hates that, but he's not here right now and it's just me and my mom and she doesn't mind – and I started to eat a banana, somewhat regretting the food choice after I bit into it, but Mom didn't notice (or if she does she's too busy trying to remember where all the groceries go and therefore she doesn't care) and I sighed. Loudly.

I know I could tell her anything, and she wouldn't judge me.

She didn't judge me when I told her I was bi.

She didn't judge me when I demanded to move back to Dad and Palo all those years ago.

She didn't even judge me when she and Richard caught me and By making out in the back of the theatre at the end of some boring film that we'd gone to see because we wanted to make out without Adam and Jordan throwing popcorn at us and that they'd gone to see because it was some pretentious film that won some prestigious awards.

I should probably tell her what Logan said to me, but I can't, because he's Logan, Mary Anne's boyfriend.

“Logan called me a...” I started to say, trailing off, because I just couldn't. She's my mom, and she's supposed to protect me, and she can't protect me from everything anymore, even though it kills her.

“What?”

“Nothing, Mom.”

“Well, okay...” She trailed off, obviously not believing me. “You know that-”

“I know.” I do know.

“You tell me when you're ready,” she murmured, smoothing my hair down with one hand as she puts some food away in the cabinet behind me.

I shrug. We both know I never will.

***

“Logan's a jerk!” I heard Mary Anne whispering to Dawn, when they both arrived, one after another, and Logan had already stormed into Richard's study to see if there's cheap beer in his liquor cabinet, and I eavesdropped in on their conversation. “I told him that I wanted him to leave Jeff and Byron alone, and what does he do? He starts giving me the silent treatment!”

The doorbell rang, and I had to be the one to answer it, because Mom and Richard were busy talking to the Brunos (and I didn't want to interrupt that) and my step – only by the technicality, even if her boyfriend's a jackass – sister was in tears, and who would want Redneck Junior to answer the door, but none of that matters because it's Byron.

And, of course, the rest of his family.

That didn't stop me from leaning against the door and winking flirtatiously at him, of course. It never has.

I hugged him tightly, moving over so the other ten Pikes could enter the house. Claire slammed the door shut behind her, but I didn't care.

“Come on,” I whispered, wrapping my arm around his waist. “I know a place we can go.”

“Aren't they expecting us for dinner?”

“Nah. Not yet,” I replied, kissing him softly. “Mary Anne is crying about Redneck Junior and Mom hasn't come out for her before dinner smoke yet and-”

We're on the edge of our property, just out of view from the house, and I lead him to the wooden swing that's been there for years. “Your mom smokes?”

“Yeah,” I replied, shrugging. “It's to cope with her social anxiety issues, I think. Sit down.”

I sprawled down on the swing, pulling him down with me, and we sat, holding hands.

Soon, Byron was cuddled up against me and I'd wrapped my arms around him.

“You smell nice,” he whispered, snuggling closer. “Like strawberries.”

“I ran out of body wash and had to use chick stuff,” I whispered back. “Don't tell anyone, okay?”

“I won't.”

“I love you, By.”

“Love you, too,” he responded, his voice muffled by my sweatshirt. “I really do, Jeff.”

We managed to fall asleep. It was nice.

“Jeff...” I opened my eyes, surprised to see that Mary Anne was standing there, looking fifty kinds of awkward, and I sat up and moved over, still surprised when she sat down. Beside me, Byron snored. Loudly. “I was wondering if I might talk to you.”

“About what?”

“I know what Logan said to you,” she answered, not looking at me, but at the grass beneath the swing. “I know that he called you that word and I am sorry. That is why we got into the disagreement on our way here.”

“He called me a fag,” I muttered, surprised that I was telling her that. She probably agreed with him. “You can't even say what he said.”

“I can so! I chose not to, because I don't believe it's true.” She looked me in the eyes. “You're my brother, and I love you, and I like Byron, and I don't think anyone should call you a fag! I didn't know he called you that.”

“I-”


“Mom told me that you were bi,” she continued. “So I told Logie that and he said that that – I don't know, okay? This is all so confusing to me. One minute you're dating Kerry and the next you're dating Byron, and I swear I didn't know he called you that. It isn't even factual.”

“I know,” I replied, seeing the tears fill her eyes. That was the last thing I needed: Mary Anne crying while she was with me and By. “I believe you. Sis.”

“Mom told me that you feel uncomfortable having the Brunos here,” she continued.

I did, but I wasn't going to be a jerk about it. “Nah,” I replied. “I can deal with 'em.”

“Oh.” She stared at her hands. “In that case, Mom told me to tell you that it's time for dinner. I believe Mr. Bruno is offending even Dad with his attempts at discussing politics.”

I smirked. “Does he have a particular affinity for Obama?”

What?” Mary Anne asked, having missed the fact that I was being sarcastic. “No, no, Mr. Bruno doesn't have an affinity for Obama, he --”

“I know. It was a joke.”

“Oh.” She hugged me, quickly. “I'll tell Mom you're on your way in, okay?”

“Okay.”

***

“No, I am proud of you, honey,” Mom said as she sipped her coffee. “I don't particularly think that the dinner party was the best place for you to tell him off, but I am proud.”

Fortunately for me, I had escaped Mom's latest inspirational lecture, brought to us by the EZ LITE station and one soap opera too many, due to the disaster that the dinner had been.

Mary Anne, however, was not so lucky.

“You think I should leave him?” She asked, and I rolled my eyes. It wasn't like they had this exact conversation every single time this happened. Mary Anne would ask my mother whether or not she thought Logan was good for her, my mother would avoid answering the question in a negative manner, and then two weeks later they'd be dating again and she and Richard would be complaining about it and wondering where they'd gone wrong.

I scowled, getting a bowl of granola and milk, and sat at the end of the table, knowing they wouldn't notice me. I began to eat my breakfast, a bit annoyed at the world.

“Yes.”

What? Had she actually just been blunt with her?

Mary Anne looked as shocked as I did.

“You do?”

“I'm sorry, honey, I wish I didn't, but Logan is an awful person for you to date,” she replied, staring at her. “And I don't really appreciate his family's behavior in my home.”

“Why didn't you tell me sooner?”

“I have never liked Logan, but your father and I always wanted you to be happy, honey.”

“Because of what he called Jeff?”

My mother sighed. “I don't know what he called Jeff, honey, you know that.”

Mary Anne turned the color of a tomato. I simply stirred my cereal, avoiding eye contact with either one of them.

“Nothing. He didn't call him anything.”

I rolled my eyes. It wasn't like Mom would be angry at her if she admitted what Redneck Junior had called me. Mary Anne was like a puppy – or that irritating cat she loved so much – and my mom and her dad knew that they had to tread carefully around her.

“Oh, whatever, Mary Anne. Just tell her. I don't care.”

“Jeffrey! Don't speak – how long – you wouldn't tell me what he called you either!” My mother responded, looking surprised to see me there. I ate a spoonful of granola.

“I don't want to tell you,” I replied, sounding like a petulant child.

She looked at me. She looked at Mary Anne. She looked at the clock. She sighed.

“Honestly. I have a showing in two hours. I don't have time to figure out who will tell what or – why aren't you in school?”

Figures Mom wouldn't have spoken to Richard before he left the house. No wonder she was so confused.

“Richard said I could stay home,” I replied, honestly. “I told him what Logan said about me.”

“And he let you stay home? Because of what Logan said?”

“Yeah.”

She stared at me. She stared at my sister. I'm pretty sure she rolled her eyes.

“Well, then, either you –“ she pointed to me “or you –” she pointed to her “tell me what Logan said or I will call Richie up to figure it out, and I'm pretty sure he's in court today.”

Well, obviously Mary Anne wasn't going to say the word out loud, and Mom and I both knew that, and Mom probably wasn't going to bother Richard in court, so that left me, and I most certainly didn't want to tell her what Logan had said.

So I ate.

Slowly, methodically, I ate.

Mary Anne stared at her cup of tea.

I think she was trying to disappear.

Mom just sighed and picked up the breakfast dishes.

“Fine.”

I heard a plate clatter to the floor and winced.

“Shit,” came from the kitchen. “You're going to tell me, honey?”

“Yeah. I'll tell you.”

I didn't want to, but really, even she would figure it out eventually.

I headed into the kitchen, placing my empty bowl in the sink, and I perched on the counter.

“Well, what did he say?” She asked, picking the pieces of the shattered dish as she spoke. “Jeffrey, you really shouldn't be sitting on the counter.”

“Logan said that By and I were, you know, fags.”

Mary Anne started to sob in the dining room, I hopped off the counter, and Mom pulled me into a hug. “I'm sorry, honey. I didn't know.”

“I know, Mom.”

She hesitated, looking in the direction of the dining room, and I nodded.

“I really ought to go to you-”

“I know.”

“You'll be alright?” She asked me, giving me a kiss on the cheek. “If I go talk to Mary Anne and calm her down and then talk to you?”

“Mommm, I'm fine. Redneck Junior is just an asshole.”

She pursed her lips, but said nothing about the nickname I'd given Logan Bruno. Or about the fact that I'd sworn.

She went into the living room. I cleaned up the glass from the plate.

***

“I don't wanna apologize!”

I groaned.

“Would you be quiet?” I heard my mom say as I laid on the couch, pretending to be asleep. “Jeffery, Olivia, and Alexa are all sleeping.”

“I ain't gonna 'pologize, Mrs. Schafer. Get out of my way so I can get my stuff.”

“Logan Bruno, I cannot believe that you think you can insult my son and get away with it.”

“It's not an insult,” he replied, sounding like the idiot he was. “It's true. He likes guys, don't he?”

I stared at the wall, hoping to disappear. I just knew this wouldn't go well. At all.

Mom and Logan had personalities that didn't mesh well.

“Lo-”

“We cool, Mrs. Schaf?”

“No, we are not 'cool', Logan!” Mom's voice was rising and she was getting the shrill quality she usually reserved exclusively for my dad. I muffled a groan. “Calling Jeff a fag is inappropriate! I don't think that an apology is too much to ask for, is it?”

“He is, though.”

“You know, Richie and I have put up with you for – for years. You were Mary Anne's boyfriend. You weren't Mary Anne's boyfriend. You made her happy. You made her sad.” Her voice had gone deathly quiet, which was never good. “I've held my tongue for eight years!”

My baby sister started to cry – I could hear her on the monitor Mom had left in the living room – and I slipped out of the room and up the stairs, a bit glad to escape.

I entered Mom and Richard's room (Lexi's crib was in there) and grinned at her, hoping she'd stop crying.

“Hey, Lex...what's the matter?” I asked as I picked her up, bouncing her lightly, like I'd seen everyone else do when she cried. She grinned at me, drooling a bit. “Mama?” She asked in a confused voice.

“Mama's busy,” I whispered. “You must be hungry.”

She giggled at me and I made a face, figuring out that she needed her diaper changed. I knew that I didn't have to do it – Mary Anne was resolutely knitting something in her room, and of course my mom was downstairs, still yelling at Logan – but I changed her anyways, sitting down in the rocking chair in the corner of the room. I held her tightly as we started to rock, half hoping it would make her fall asleep.

“Mama? Mama?”

“I told you, she's busy.”

She whimpered – tears in her eyes – and I sighed heavily and stood up.

“Mama?” She asked, almost hopefully.

“Yeah. We'll go downstairs and see Mom.”

She giggled loudly at me. “Dada?”

“Nope. Just our mama.”

Alexa stared at me – well, as much as a baby could stare – and she settled for drooling on my shirt.

Thankfully Mom and Mary Anne were sitting at the kitchen table, having a glass of wine. Logan was nowhere to be found.

“Mama! Ma!”

As usual, Lexi was the one to make her presence known. Mom was up in a flash, scooping her into her arms.

“Oh, what are you doing up?” She asked. “Honey, can you sit down? I want to talk to the two of you.”

Dammit , I thought.

“Mom – ”

“Look, we need to talk about what happened. We have to, no matter how uncomfortable it is.”

“I'll go back to Palo,” I announced, sure that was what they wanted to hear. “You can keep dating Logan and you and Richard can go back to your conservative happy lifestyle.”

“Jeffrey! Don't be ridiculous!”

“I ruined Mary Anne's relationship –”

Mary Anne spoke up. “You didn't ruin it, Jeff. Don't think that. Logan and I – we don't work. We haven't for awhile.”

“ – and you and Richard will be happier without me around. I'll call Dad and Carol and tell them I wanna go back, I'll make something up, it'll fix things!”

“Jeffery, stop it! You're upsetting your sister!” Mom interjected. “And, you are being ridiculous! I don't want you going back to California, I don't think that you're an imposition in our “perfect conservative lives” and if you think that you are that doesn't matter to me! It never has.”

***

“So you told her you were going to move to California and then she yelled at you and then you ran out of the house?” Byron asked me as we hid in his rec room, theoretically watching spring training on ESPN.

“I thought it would make it better! She and Richard are all Mr. and Mrs. Moderately Conservative and I'm bi and what if she secretly hates me and –”

He silenced me with a kiss on the lips. “Your mom doesn't hate you,” he whispered. “I think she's really worried about you.”

“How do you know?”

“'Cause she's upstairs crying to Mom about you right now.”

I didn't believe him. Mom wasn't that upset, was she? She wasn't really crying , was she? I hated it when she cried.

“My mom?” I breathed, kissing him again. I pulled away. “My mother?”

“Yeah,” By whispered. “She brought the baby and everything. Livvy's with Mary Anne.”

We kissed again, and I pressed him against the back of the couch.

“Sharon Emerson Porter Schafer Spier? That mother?”

“Yes,” he whispered. “She said she thought you ran away.”

Shit. I wanted to keep making out with By, but I didn't want my mom to freak out and report me missing when I was literally down the stairs from her.

“I should probably go up, shouldn't I?”

He nodded, leaning against me. “Yeah. She's crying , dude. I've never seen her cry.”

Wonderful. I'd actually made her cry in front of people. I groaned.

Fuck. Come with me.”

It wasn't a question, and By knew it. He held my hand tightly and effectively dragged me up the stairs, where our mothers were indeed talking – quietly – about me.

“Mom?” I whispered.

“Jeffy?”

I gave her a hug, not caring that half of Byron's family had congregated into the living room to watch us.

“I didn't mean it, Mom.”

“You don't wanna go back to Palo?” She asked in a whimper.

“No. I was pissed off – I mean, I was angry – and I said that, but I didn't mean it, Mom. I'm mad at Logan, and yeah, I hate how some of the people here in Stoneybrook treat me and By – ”

“Richie and I don't want you to leave.”

“I don't want to leave either, Mom,” I replied, releasing her. “I was just angry. I thought you were going to ask me to leave.”

“I wasn't. You're being silly.”

“I know.”

I sat next to her, and Byron sat beside me, still holding my hand, and I sighed.

“I don't care that you're bi. I mean, at first I thought it was a bit weird, I'll admit to that, but then I realized that you're still my Jeffy –” In front of Adam, Jordan, and Nicky Pike, mind you. “ – and I like you, Byron, you're really sweet, and I don't care what people think about you. I don't care about stuff like that. I know what that's like.”

I felt stupid – well, stupider than usual – and I shrugged. Byron and I spoke at the same time.

“Mrs. – ”

“Mom – ”

“I'm not finished,” she said, interrupting us. “You shouldn't threaten to run away, Jeffrey. After what your sister did when your father got engaged! What were you thinking? I was ready to call the cops! I ran away from my problems – yes – but you don't have to! You aren't me. You shouldn't run away from things. I know that you were upset, and only joking, but don't do that again!”

“I won't. I promise.” I dropped my voice to a whisper. “I'm sorry I made you cry.”

***

“Hey,” Mary Anne said to me. “I am sorry.”

I grinned at her. “Doesn't Mom say you apologize too much?”

“But – ”

“He ain't your problem anymore.” I replied, moving over so she could join me on the couch. “I'm trying to ignore him.”

“Jeff, he is harrassing you. Dad says that's illegal. You could report him.”

“I can handle Redneck Junior, Mary Anne.”

I stared at her, trying to gauge her reaction to her ex-boyfriend's nickname. Much to my surprise, she started to laugh.

“You're funny, you know that, right?”

“I thought you'd be mad at me.” I really had been.

She shook her head. “I think you can call him anything you want. How's Byron?”

I grinned. “He's good. He'll be back from Sea City tomorrow.”

“You and Dawn did that on purpose, didn't you?” She asked, staring at me. “You picked the two weeks he was in Jersey to visit your dad.”

“Dad never figured that out,” I responded, smirking. “He just thought we did two weeks because Dawn can't stand Palo anymore.”

“Mom didn't figure it out either,” Mary Anne replied, shaking her head. “If Dad and I heard her talking about what a coincidence it was that Byron and you would be out of town for the exact same time...”

“Mom thinks how she thinks. I'm used to it.”

“I told her that Byron hates showtunes,” she answered, looking shyly at me. “She feels bad.”

“Thanks, sis.”

“You're welcome.”

“We're okay, right?”

I sighed, then gave her a hug. “Yeah. We're okay.”

It was okay. 

Everything was okay.



 
 
 
Mistrali: J&W - favoritedarkneswith_rainfall on June 11th, 2013 10:37 pm (UTC)
I giggled so much at Jeff's reaction to being called "Jeffy" in front of the Pikes. You had Jeff's voicedown really well. His attitude to being called a fag - nonchalant in front of his mum and then bits of real... I don't know, discomfort and shame at the Brunos' attitudes interspersed wth that. And Sharon was perfect.
mkrobinson on June 18th, 2013 01:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks! <3 <3 <3! You inspired to me to try to write again!
Mistraliwith_rainfall on June 18th, 2013 02:23 pm (UTC)
Please do so, by all means; if or when you do, I'll be reading it!
mkrobinson on June 18th, 2013 02:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks! But it would be on the dreamwidth comm, LJ and I don't coexist well since the posting system has changed.