Button and Brent have a nice talk and then he gets called to the hospital. I hope you enjoy the conclusion of "Button."
“I’ve got a big favor to ask you,” Button said squeezing out the mop. “It means the world to me.”
“What is it?” Mirabelle answered. Inside, she was seething. Button wasn’t mopping the floor right. It drove her batty how little the guy knew about housework. Her ob/gyn had told her no heavy lifting or housework. She’d been having early false labor and they were worried the baby would come now instead of full term next month.
“Regardless of the sex of the baby, I want to name him or her Andy.”
Mirabelle’s annoyance disappeared. “Really? You want to name our baby after Andy?”
Button stopped and looked at her. She looked so happy, like tears were about to spill over her cheeks. “I would. You don’t mind do you?”
“I think that is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard,” she said. “Of course Button. That would be perfect.”
Button flashed her a grateful smile and put the mop on the floor and kind of jerked it around. “I thought of something. What if Natalie or Brent aren’t cool with the idea? I don’t wanna hurt their feelings.”
“Button. They’ll be thrilled, you know that,” Mirabelle said rubbing her hands over her swollen belly. She thought for a moment. “You know it’s a boy, don’t you?”
Button looked up from his chore. He gave her his best angry look but it melted almost as quickly as it came. “It’s not like Graham could keep it a secret. Pop can’t control himself sometimes. He keeps saying ‘When the baby gets here he,’ then he stops and quickly says, ‘or she.’ He’s so excited to be a grandpa.”
“Craig is no better. When I went over to tell them the baby’s sex, I was talking with Graham and noticed your dad had disappeared. I didn’t think anything of it but twenty minutes later he shows up with a can of baby blue paint and brushes. It was so cute,” Mirabelle laughed. “He was about to start painting your old room for the baby.”
“They’re a bit too much sometimes. I guess that’s what I get for having gay dads. They’re so over the top,” Button chuckled.
“They’re really excited for us. I’m glad. My parents are more reserved. Pela said this wasn’t the first baby to be born and won’t be the last,” Mirabelle said shifting in her chair. Her leg was falling asleep again.
“Ludo can’t stop asking me about how you’re doing,” Button smiled. “I think they’re just as thrilled but don’t wanna show it.”
“I know they are,” Mirabelle said softly. “Button. How come you can mop the floor at the restaurant so well but your just smearing it around in our house? It’s the same thing.”
“Is it?” Button asked. “I never thought of it that way.” Yet, he kept rubbing it back and forth. Finally, Mirabelle had enough.
“Look at the time. You need to pick up Brent or you’ll miss class,” she said suddenly.
“Oh shit!” Button said. “I’ll finish when I get home this afternoon. You stay right there and relax.”
“I will,” Mirabelle muttered. “I’m just a helpless little pregnant lady.”
“You’re my one and only,” he said kissing her nose. “Now be good.”
After Button left, Mirabelle got up and rung out the mop. “It won’t hurt me to finish it up,” she said and started doing it properly.
“That statistics class is a bitch,” Brent puffed as he joined Button on the walk across campus. “I hate math.”
“I love it. If you want some help, I could give you some pointers,” Button said. “It’s simple if you understand how the Bell curve works.”
“I’m gonna take you up on that offer,” Brent grinned. “But first, I need food.”
“Late night?” Button asked. “Me and the wife went to bed early and I got up and made a big breakfast.”
“I still can’t believe you guys are married. It’s so weird,” Brent said. “You’re having a baby while being a freshman in college. It’s nuts. I couldn’t do it.”
“I like it,” Button said quickly. “I’ve never been happier in my whole life.”
“Speaking of, how is the little missus doing?”
“She’s on strict orders not to be too physically active. The baby isn’t due for three weeks yet but she’s already having contractions,” Button said. “They put her on some medication and told her to take it easy.”
“Let’s duck in here for a sandwich,” Brent said nodding towards Ebert and Gerbert’s.
Button followed him in and they both got food and drinks. They sat at a high top table that looked out to the street. Silently they ate while watching students mill about the campus.
“So, what’d you do last night?” Button asked.
“I went with a couple of guys from my study group to the Saloon. It was chicken night,” Brent said.
Button chuckled. Brent always called eighteen and over nights ‘chicken night’ when all the twink lovers came out to see the new crop of gay boys. “Did you have fun?”
“You’ll never guess who I saw there,” Brent said gesturing with a potato chip. “It was pretty creepy actually.”
“I don’t know. Did you meet the boy of your dreams?” Button smiled.
“More like nightmares,” Brent scoffed. “I saw Kevin.”
“Shit!” Button said. “Oh no. Did you talk to him?”
“I didn’t have a choice. He was standing against this wall with a big guy, much older, and watched me walk by. Craig, he was dressed in little black shorts and a leather harness. Kevin was wearing a collar.”
“That’s his new thing huh?” Button said. His fathers had a couple of friends who were into that scene. Personally, he thought it was a little scary looking. But, appearances can be deceiving. Ike and Pop were in a recipe exchange together. Dad and Ike’s man Jeff went to flower shows. They liked to dress in leather gear but both men were so sweet. They would always bring Button a stuffed animal when he was little. “I don’t care what he’s into as long as he stays away from me and Mirabelle.”
Brent nodded. It was a sore subject given Kevin’s reaction their senior year in high school to Mirabelle’s pregnancy. He’d thrown a shit fit calling her names and begging Button to give him a chance to make him happy. It was a pretty pathetic thing to witness. Kevin disappeared from school shortly after that.
“It was very strange. Kevin looked at the man like he needed approval or something and he walked over to me after the guy nodded. He’s so skinny Craig. Kevin was shaking and his eyes looked odd. I think he was on drugs.”
“Ohh,” Button groaned. “I don’t wanna hear this.”
“No, it’s okay. Kevin said to tell you congratulations and he’s sorry for how he acted.”
“Really?” Button asked scrunching up his nose. “He said that.”
“Pretty much,” Brent lied. What Kevin had actually said was, “Tell that little bitch Craig and his whore to have a good life. I’m so over him. He’s nothing but a loser and I’m glad I never hooked up with him.”
“I’d prefer to never see him again,” Button said taking a sip of his pop. “He’s clearly losing his mind.”
Brent finished off his sandwich and thought about that characterization. Kevin’s behavior was bizarre. It kind of scared him to think he’d once been his boyfriend, well sorta.
“Last summer we all went to the Gay Pride picnic at Loring Park and Kevin was dressed in nothing but a thong and body glitter. He was hanging out with the Radical Faeries and dancing around. He was on some drug or another given the way he was acting,” Button said. “What’s happening to him?”
Brent chewed his lip. “I don’t think he’s ever been told ‘no’ before. His mom always gave him everything he wanted. Kevin wanted you but couldn’t have you.”
“Brent, that’s bullshit. You were in love with Kevin and you got over it fine.”
“That’s because I had Andy. Before we started going out, I was a mess too. Andy saved me,” Brent said. He wasn’t looking at Button though. Tears were threatening even after two years. “I miss him.”
“I do too buddy,” Button said patting his hand. “Kevin’s obsession with me seems so unnatural. He kissed me at camp when we were like thirteen. The next time he tried to kiss me I threw up on him. We never had anything going. You and Kevin at least dated.”
“What if Mirabelle had said no to you? How would you have reacted?” Brent asked quietly. He looked up and smiled at his friend.
“That’s totally different,” Button said leaning back in his chair.
“Is it?” Brent said. “What if Mirabelle went out with you just once? Then she said she wasn’t interested in you. Craig, I was there. I remember how obsessed you were after your first date.”
“Why are you sticking up for that psycho?” Button said shortly. “Kevin’s like a creepy stalker guy.”
“I’m not excusing his behavior or how he’s handling his feelings. You’re right, he’s a hot mess. But, I can empathize with how hard it is to deal with rejection, especially since he was so in love with you,” Brent explained.
Button thought about what Brent said. He tried to imagine his life without Mirabelle. No, that’s not right. It would be life after Mirabelle rejected him, told him he wasn’t good enough for her. Imagining such a feeling was enough. He’d be a hot mess too.
“I wouldn’t have gone over to her in blue body glitter practically naked and danced around singing, ‘We’re destined to be together. You’ll see. We’ll be together forever.”
Brent tried not to laugh but he couldn’t stop it. The giggles exploded out of him and soon Button was laughing as well. The image of Kevin Dooley prancing around him and his family was painfully etched into his memory. Mirabelle had nudged him at the time and said, ‘See, I told you he was jealous of me.’
Button shook his head to clear the image. “So, did you meet any hotties last night?”
“Naw,” Brent said. “Well, there was this one guy who seemed pretty nice.”
“Oh yeah? Did you get his phone number or at least a little smooch?” Button kidded him.
“We exchanged numbers but I’m not so sure I’ll go out with him. His friend is a dancer,” Brent said haltingly. He didn’t like talking about this to Button. It felt a little uncomfortable.
“His friend likes to dance so you won’t go out with him?” Button asked confused.
Brent tried to arrange his feelings into thoughts but it wasn’t going well. “No, he’s a stripper, well kind of, and, I don’t know.”
“You met a stripper or the guy you met has a friend who’s a stripper?” Button asked. “Just talk to me Brent. You don’t have to edit things for me. I love ya regardless.”
Brent smiled. “The guy’s name is Brody. His friend is a stripper at the bar. I don’t know what that means really. He seemed awfully nice though, sort of shy and sweet.”
“Brent’s got a boyfriend. Brent’s got a boyfriend,” Button sang and chuckled.
“No. Don’t say that!” Brent giggled. “I don’t know. Brody isn’t really cute or anything, except when he smiles. His smile is pretty nice.” It wasn’t ‘pretty nice.’ It was dreamy. For the first time since Andy’s death, Brent actually felt a smile melt his defenses.
“Did you guys just talk or did he do you in the alley or what?” Button joked.
Brent blushed. “We just talked. He’s a home health aide. We have a lot in common actually. He’s as big of a nerd as I am I think. It was nice to meet him.”
“So when are you going out? I want all the gory details.”
“It wasn’t like that,” Brent said quickly. “I doubt he’ll even call me.”
“It’s been a while since you went out on a date,” Button said. “You could call him.”
“I don’t know,” Brent mused. “I’m not over Andy yet.”
“Brent, it’s time to move on. Andy wouldn’t want you living as the grieving widow forever. He loved you. He’d want you to be happy. Call him,” Button said softly.
“We should get going. I’ve got Biology lab in only fifteen minutes,” Brent said. “What time should we meet?”
“I’m going to the library and then to my Astronomy class. Let’s say two o’clock by the car.”
Brent nodded. They got up and left the restaurant. He watched as Button turned off his phone and threw it in his messenger bag.
“Later dude,” Button said. As the two young men separated, Brent heard his best bud call after him. “But then you’ll call him, k?”
Brent waved and laughed.
Button listened as the professor droned on about pulsars. It was an interesting class for the most part but the guy’s voice was like a sleeping pill. There was no modulation whatsoever. It hummed on and on.
“Let’s look at some examples,” the professor said. “I’ll get the projector going if someone will get the lights.”
Button dug his phone out of his bag. He turned it on and waited. The guy always took forever to get the images up on the screen. Button hoped Devin agreed to give him an extra shift. They were trying to save up a little rainy day fund. Money went out so fast after they’d started buying baby supplies. Diapers were ridiculously expensive. The baby wasn’t even born yet and they were almost broke.
After the phone loaded, he noticed a few missed calls. Shit, there were twenty of them. He looked at his messages. About then, the phone rang. He answered quickly as the whole class and the professor looked at him annoyed.
“Hello,” he whispered.
“Where are you?” he heard a woman’s voice ask him.
“I’m in class.” It was Grandma Sandy. “What’s up?”
“You need to get to the hospital. Mirabelle’s in labor and the baby’s coming,” she said loudly.
“Can you please put the phone away?” The professor was clearly pissed.
“I’ll be there in ten minutes,” Button said. He quickly stood up and rushed toward the door.
“Where are you going?” the professor asked.
“My baby’s coming. I gotta go,” Button announced flashing them a smile.
“Oh!” the professor said. “Better run then.”
As soon as he got outside, he called Brent.
“He’s coming! The baby’s coming! Can you get away?” Button shouted into the phone.
Brent assured him he’d be there.
Both men arrived at the car at the same time.
“So this is happening,” Brent laughed.
“Yep!” Button snorted. “I’m gonna be a daddy today.”
When they got to hospital maternity ward, Button was quickly ushered into the back. He was Mirabelle’s labor coach. With his late arrival, her mom was back there already, the nurse told them.
Brent walked into the waiting room and immediately felt discomfort.
Brent noticed Mirabelle’s father was pacing the floor, looking worried. Graham was sitting in a chair, his head in his hands. Craig was staring out the window.
“What’s going on? Is something wrong?” he asked Button’s grandma Sandy. Her lips were tight and her skin was pale.
“There have been some problems,” she said quietly. “Mirabelle had some bleeding.”
“The baby?” Brent asked in a hushed tone. “Is the baby okay?”
“They think so. It’s been a bit nerve wracking especially since we couldn’t get a hold of Button.”
Craig turned his head and Brent smiled at him. “Thank God you made it.” He started walking towards them. That made Graham look up and he quickly rushed and gave Brent a big hug.
“Button’s here right?” he asked.
“Yeah. They got him suited up right away. He’s in the room with her now. Is Mirabelle gonna be okay?” Brent asked.
“We hope so. They haven’t said anything for a while,” Craig said hugging Brent too.
“She’ll be fine. It’s not like the bad old days when women died in childbirth all the time. They’ve got all the right stuff to take care of her,” Sandy said. “Don’t fret.”
Brent could see she wasn’t as positive as her assurances suggested. Her face was tight and when she spoke, the words were clipped and hurried.
Brent was trying to read a magazine but kept reading the same paragraph of the same article over and over. The sentences didn’t have any meaning. It was like when he was waiting for Andy to ask for him only worse. Now it was Mirabelle and Button and their little baby. It was a family in distress and he couldn’t help but wonder if this would end up destroying his friend, Andy’s best friend.
He’d closed the magazine when he saw Button walk in from the swinging doors. His face was ashen but there was a slight grin on his face. It couldn’t be all bad news.
“Hey there,” Button said. “I’ve got some news.”
Immediately Graham and Craig jumped up while Ludo approached him.
“Mirabelle? The baby?” Sandy asked before anyone else could speak. Brent stood up and braced himself.
Button smiled a little broader. “Mirabelle is sleeping. She’s gonna be fine and I can’t wait until you meet Andy Holden-Wilson. He’ll be in the nursery soon.”
“You named him after Andy?” Brent gasped. The rest of them rushed forward and grabbed him raining congratulations on the man. Button looked surprised and a little overwhelmed. Brent waited until his parents and grandma let him go.
“Can we see him yet?” Brent asked. “I can’t wait to see my new nephew.”
“In a little bit. They’re still getting him cleaned up.”
“How big is he?” Sandy asked. “He came a little early.”
“He’s five pounds, eight ounces and he’s perfectly healthy. Andy’s a perfect little baby boy,” Button laughed. “Right now, I wanna talk to my parents for a minute, alone please.”
Graham and Craig looked at one another as they followed the new father into another part of the waiting room.
“Oh, Ludo!” Button called out. “Mirabelle’s sleeping but Pela asked for you to go see her.”
Brent watched as Ludo went to talk with the nurse and Button disappeared with his fathers.
“I can’t believe I’m a great grandma,” Sandy said sitting next to him. “Let’s start planning a baby shower for them. Apparently no one thought of that.”
“That sounds like fun,” Brent said. “Great idea.”
“Button, what’s wrong?” Graham asked him.
Button gave him a look. “I’m a father now. I think that nickname can go away.”
“Alright, Craig. What’s wrong,” his pop asked him.
“I’ve never been so scared in my whole life,” Button said all at once. “Mirabelle almost died in there. When I got here they were trying to stop the internal bleeding and get Andy out.”
Craig immediately took Button’s hand. “Is she really gonna be alright?”
“Yeah,” Button said wiping his cheeks. “She is. They stopped the hemorrhaging and Andy’s just fine. But, I thought I was gonna lose them both. Then after Andy was born and they said he was good, I still worried I’d lose Mirabelle. I was so terrified she’d never get to see her baby and Andy would never know her.”
“She’s fine though. Mirabelle’s stable,” Graham said.
“Yeah. I looked down at Andy who was crying something fierce, and I thought ‘how will I do this alone?” Button cried. “Did you ever feel that scared?”
Craig nodded. Graham smiled and bobbed his head too.
“When I found you, I was petrified. I called your Grandma Sandy and told her about you. She came right over and talked to me. I thought there was no way I could raise a baby.”
“But then you met Pop and it was all good?” Button asked.
“No. I didn’t really meet Graham until at least two weeks later. The day I found you, I stood holding you while you were crying your eyes out and your grandma asked me if I was going to give you away. It was the most terrifying decision I made in my life. I looked at you and I fell in love with you.” Craig said. He looked at Graham.
“When I first really saw your dad, I thought you were adorable but I didn’t know if I wanted to raise a baby. It takes a lot of commitment and I wasn’t sure. Then one day a couple of weeks after we started dating, your dad had to work and no one could babysit you. I remember like it was yesterday. You were crying when I got there. Your dad was scared to leave but I insisted.
“After he left, you still wouldn’t stop crying and it was making me so nervous. Finally, I put you on my shoulder and patted your back. You gave out this enormous burp, too much for such a little baby, and you stopped crying. I held you in my arms and you looked at me. I couldn’t stop staring into your eyes. They were so beautiful and it seemed to me you wanted me. I don’t know why but in that instant, I fell in love with you and wanted to be your Pop,” Graham paused. “But, you scared me so much. I’ll never forget it.”
Button looked at his father’s with different eyes. Of course they’d been scared. Why hadn’t he considered what they faced? It was the same with them as it was with him.
“I’ll tell you what,” Craig said taking Graham’s hand in his. “When I got home from work that night, I got some serious sweet loving. Your Pop chose me because he fell in love with you.”
“Ick!” Button said. “Too much information!”
“Hey!” Graham said with a shit eating grin. “We’re all adults here.”
“I don’t want to hear about your sex life,” Button said sternly but his eyes were gleaming. “Do you want to think about grandma and grandpa doing the nasty?”
Craig shivered and grinned.
“What are you guys talking about?” they heard Sarah’s voice call out.
“Come on over. We were discussing Dad and Pop’s love life,” Button smirked. “Wanna join in on the fun?”
“No thanks,” Sarah scowled. “I hear I’m an aunt now. Grandpa Leroy came and picked me up from school.”
“Yeah, you are,” Button said. “Wanna see him? I bet they’ve got him in the nursery now.”
They all got up and walked into the main area. The nurse nodded at their question and led them, Sandy, Leroy and Brent to the viewing area.
“There he is,” Button said proudly. “Right there, third from the left is little Andy Holden-Wilson.”
“He’s so cute,” Brent said. “Look at him. He’s darling.”
“Why is he so purple?” Sarah asked. “And he’s all wrinkly.”
“Babies all look like that right after their born,” Sandy said. “What a little peanut. He’s precious.”
Button looked at Graham and Craig and they started to laugh.
“Not this again. You are NOT calling him peanut!”
Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and sharing this story with me. I have had a fantastic journey with this little guy and as I've mentioned I'm working on a sequel called "The Barbed Wire Heart." In the meantime, if you are interested, I've cobbled together my thoughts about writing this story. I like to recollect and ruminate on my larger stories. It can be found here.