The atmosphere in the house was unbearable. There had already been two weeks since Jett’s dad had left, and, as far as he knew, Mr. Huntsman hadn’t made any attempts to call and repair things with his son. April stole glances at Jett, but his face was all a frown, and he was getting busy with a toolbox. Never before April had seen that, and it looked like that was busywork and nothing else. There was hardly anything that needed repairing so direly that Jett couldn’t stop and exchange a few words.
Usually, April would have appreciated not having to talk to Jett while studying, but only because that often led to them getting busy, really busy, and that meant that he would eventually fall behind with his studies.
Right now, it wasn’t like he could study anyway. At least, they were in the basement, and Jett could make as much noise as he wanted without disturbing Carina and Jay, too.
“Jett,” April said.
There was no reply. Jett picked another tool and let it drop back into the toolbox with a deafening sound.
“Could you please stop for a moment?” April raised his voice, irritated with Jett’s behavior.
Jett threw him a dark look.
April straightened up in his chair. “You don’t impress me.”
Jett pursed his lips. “What do you want, April?”
“For you to stop whatever you think you’re doing so that we can talk a little.”
“About how much you hurt over pushing your dad away. All is not lost. You can still call --”
“Shut up, April.” The words weren’t filled with hostility, but something else.
April could feel his chest squeezing. “Look, I don’t think your dad is a bad man. Stubborn, yes, and well, I’m not exactly his biggest fan since he’s not mine, either, but --”
“Out with it, dweeb. I really have work to do.”
Jett was thawing, April could see. He never called him ‘dweeb’ when he was really upset. So, that was a good sign, and April intended to work with whatever he was given. “What work do you have to do?”
“Fix things. Stuff.” Jett shrugged and proceeded to examine his toolset once again.
“It doesn’t look like it to me. What do you want to do with that drilling machine? This house doesn’t exactly need more holes.”
Jett ignored him and, seemingly just to spite April, he grabbed the drilling machine and tested it for its battery. Over the sound of the mining rig that April had already gotten used to it, that noise was a bit too much, though.
April stood up and came to stand in front of Jett. To make it clear that he wasn’t in the mood to be ignored like that, he parted his legs and crossed his arms over his chest. “Stop what you’re doing, Jett Huntsman, and talk to me right now about what’s bothering you.”
“I have nothing to talk about, April Summer,” Jett replied to him in the same manner. “Unless you’re the one who needs a fix, stay out of my way.”
“Ha. Are you trying to be funny now? Because I don’t think you’re funny.”
“Oh, you don’t?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Whatever. I don’t care.”
“Jett.” April was starting to lose his patience. “If you just want to vent, that’s okay, but don’t cut me off. You make me think you don’t exactly want me around.”
Jett scoffed. “I want you around. All I did was so that I could keep you around.”
“I know.” April was the one starting to thaw now. “I feel guilty about it.” He put one hand on Jett’s shoulder.
“Don’t. Don’t feel guilty. That man is a …” Jett trailed off and shook his head. “It’s okay, April. Don’t mind me. I just need to get busy a little, or I’ll feel like I’m going crazy. You have school, and you need to study, and all, and Carina fusses over Jay so much that there’s no room, so … I’ll just have to find something to do.”
“Okay,” April said. “But if you need me, just say the word. I’m here for you.”
Jett just nodded and stood up, armed now with the drilling machine. April gave up on asking him what exactly he wanted to do with that. Instead, he returned to his desk. No matter how much he felt like he needed to talk to Jett about their childhood and how he was Theo from that time long ago, now was the worst moment possible.
He felt like crap. But Jett couldn’t talk to April about that. After all, that was all because he cared so much about April, and he didn’t want to make his boyfriend believe that he was some wishy-washy asshole.
If only his dad could see how much April meant to him. But who was he kidding? His father was a stubborn mule, and if he had gotten into his head that Jett should marry Carina and raise Jay together, he couldn’t be made to see otherwise.
That didn’t mean that breaking things off with his dad like that didn’t hurt. Yeah, the man was a total asshole and set in his ways, but he was still …
Jett cursed loudly and slammed the drilling machine against the working table. April was right. He didn’t need a drilling machine to repair the things that were fucking broken in his life. But there was nothing he could do.
The thing was that he was a shitty partner for April these days. His boyfriend had been as sweet as always, caressing his hair and trying to get him to talk for weeks now, but Jett could only feel the anger inside him growing darker and darker. That was not how he wanted to live. He needed to get his anger out, and he couldn’t do it in a house with a small baby, an ex-girlfriend who wanted to understand him, and a boyfriend who wanted to understand him even more.
“April’s worried about you.”
Jett shook his head. It was so like Carina to pop up whenever he didn’t want to see anyone.
“You have nothing to say about it?” Carina insisted.
“Aren’t you busy with Jay?”
“He’s sleeping. You’re not turning into your dad, I hope. I know how to take care of that baby. I’ve been a mom for a while now. And I have this thing.” Carina held the receiver for the baby monitor. “It’s you who’s worrying me.”
“I thought you said that April is worried about me.”
“Me and April both. Jay would be, too, but thank God, he’s too young for that. C’mon, Jett, out with it, or I’m going to get pissed.”
“And? Whatcha gonna do?” Jett pretended to be busy with his drilling machine.
“Box your ears is the first answer that comes to mind, but no. I want to tell you that if you don’t want to end up being all alone in this huge ass house --”
“It’s hardly a huge ass house.”
“Whatever. Listen to me, Jett. Whatever is eating you, it’s eating away at everything else around here. I can’t stand seeing April so sad. If you don’t do something, I’m going to comfort him. Who knows? I might steal him from you.”
Jett snorted. “Good luck with that. April is like one hundred percent gay.”
“I can be pretty convincing.”
Carina was teasing him, and Jett knew the reason. He sighed. “Look, I’m pissed, okay?”
“Okay. I get it. Your dad did a number on you. And you on him.”
“And now you’re going to tell me how I should go and talk to him or something like April does all the time.”
“No. That’s not you. I’d say you should just get this out of your system.”
“I know that. But how?”
“You know how. Grab your pal Zane and go shoot bottles or whatever it is that you two do whenever you get like this.”
“We’re not shooting bottles.”
“Whatever you do, as I said. I’d say it’s like going to the shrink for you.”
“Zane is as far as being a shrink as anyone could ever be.”
“I don’t care, Jett. Just sort your shit. April doesn’t deserve to see you like this. And I’m getting pissed with tiptoeing around just because you’re pissed.”
“No one’s telling you to tiptoe,” Jett replied.
“No. But that’s how it feels, and before I know it, I find myself walking across the room like a ballerina.” To make herself understood better, Carina mimicked a ballerina’s walk with her index and middle fingers pointing at the floor.
Actually, Carina’s advice was not half bad, Jett thought. He could get totally fucked up a weekend in Zane, and then he would be as good as new. What he needed wasn’t to talk to someone. April and Carina both wanted what was best for him, but they were all about feels, and he couldn’t stand that.
He didn’t want to talk to his dad. He didn’t want to cry on April’s shoulder or quarrel with Carina just to make himself feel better. What he needed was someone who didn’t give a fuck about feels.
“So, you’re going with Zane where? Can I come, too, or is a thing between you two?” April questioned the moment Jett broke the news to him that he wouldn’t be at home over the weekend and that he was leaving as soon as he could.
“It’s just a thing between us.”
“I see.” April could only be thankful that Jett hadn’t said ‘us, guys’ because that would have pissed him off big time. So, Jett couldn’t talk to him about how much he cared about his dad, but he wanted to spend the weekend with Zane. That stung.
“Don’t worry about it,” Jett said as he picked a few things and stuffed them in a knapsack. “It’s just something I do so that I’m not … you know.”
April wanted to say that he didn’t know and that he very much wanted to find out. What could possibly Zane offer that he wasn’t capable to? But even asking such a question would make him sound whiny, and he had a feeling that Jett wouldn’t care much about hearing him complaining at the moment.
“Okay,” April murmured. “Do whatever you need to do. I think I’ll go to see my dad. I haven’t been home in a while, and it would be a good moment since you’re away, too.”
“Carina will be alone.”
“Are you going to tell her that you think she can’t be on your own, or do you want me to do it?” April asked, quirking an eyebrow.
Jett smirked. “Let’s not risk it. She’ll be fine for two days, I think.”
April fell silent. It felt like all the words he wanted to say were dried up and impossible to revive. The feeling that he wasn’t enough for Jett came back in full force. “I think I’ll just go directly from school since you’re already leaving.”
“I could stay and take you back here from school. Or I could drive you to your dad’s --”
“No, it’s okay. Do what you have to do.” April didn’t want to sound snappy, but he couldn’t exactly control himself.
It felt like downstairs, on the futon, they had been closer than they were now, in their shared bedroom. He hiked up the bag on his shoulder, decided that he would just call an Uber to get to school today.
“Wait, where are you going? I’m taking you to school,” Jett said.
“You don’t have to. And I should write a note to Carina first so that she’s not surprised with me not being back home in the afternoon as usual.”
“I’ll tell Carina everything. And I’ll take you to school.”
April wanted to argue a little, but he knew he would be petty if he did that. So, he just nodded, and let his bag on a chair, waiting for Jett to finish.
But Jett was no longer interested in packing his things, whatever he needed for his weekend away. Instead, he was just standing there and watching April with keen eyes.
“What?” April asked, feeling unnerved by that steady stare.
Jett didn’t say a thing. Instead, he moved fast, grabbed April, and pushed him with his back against the door. Their lips locked quickly. It wasn’t like they hadn’t made love at all since Jett’s dad had left, but this felt more intimate than all those encounters together. Jett was there, really there, kissing April with his usual eagerness and also with real passion. He no longer seemed so preoccupied or far away, or sad or upset. That moment, they were only the two of them present, and that meant the world to April. Jett still belonged to him, and that was the only thing that mattered.
He was breathing hard still when Jett released him from the kiss. He didn’t, however, let him go from his arms, so April was squeezed between Jett’s strong body and the door. The caramel eyes bore into his, and April stood there in a trance.
“Dweeb, there’s no way I’m not coming back to you. I’ll think of you all the time.”
“So, don’t leave at all. I won’t leave, either,” April added quickly.
Jett just shook his head slowly. A faint smile, a bit wistful, painted his lips. “I have to. So that I can come back and be the usual me. I won’t take long.”
“Jett,” April stopped him. “You know you can be … anything with me. No matter how low --”
Jett groaned and closed his eyes. “No. That’s not for you to see, okay?”
“So, you like Zane more than me? Is that it?”
“Are you jealous, dweeb? I only swing like this with you and you only. I won’t fuck Zane, don’t worry.”
“That’s hardly what I’m concerned about. Can you talk to him, but you can’t talk to me?”
“I’m not going to talk to him. That’s what I’m getting away from. I don’t want to talk. I want to be a little away from anyone who wants to talk to me.” Jett’s voice was getting strained with frustration now.
April swallowed nervously. “Okay. Then maybe you should go already.”
“Don’t be like this, April. I’m doing this for everyone’s good.”
“You can’t hurt me, and you should know it by now. I can take anything --”
Jett pushed himself away. “Well, don’t. Don’t take anything. And I’m not gonna show you my bad side.”
April looked down. “If that’s what you think, okay. I’ll Uber to school.”
“I said --”
“And I said I’ll Uber to school. Bye, Jett.”
April knew it wasn’t entirely fair to be like that, as he grabbed his bag and moved to walk out of the room. Jett stopped him again and kissed him, pressing his lips hard. “Be home by Sunday evening, or we’ll have a problem, dweeb.”
April sighed. That was Jett, and he could live with him, no matter how stubborn he was. And maybe, in the end, if Jett needed to meet his best friend and vent off with him, April shouldn’t stand in his way. After that, there was a chance that Jett would be more approachable, so April could live with not being everything Jett needed all the time.
Also, a visit to his dad would do him good, too. After so much straining with Jett’s moods and everything that happened, he could use being spoiled a little, as his dad usually did when he was home.
“Wednesday, yo, Wednesday!”
Someone was shouting from behind, and eventually, April turned, a bit intrigued. Sabrina DeLouise walked over to him and stared awkwardly at him, or better said, at his ears. “Do you have those cool wireless headaches that just came out?”
Oh, right, April’s mind finally caught up with him. Sabrina knew him as Wednesday, which was one of the many sins he needed to confess at some point. There were piling up a bit, seeing how Jett still didn’t know he was Theo.
“No, sorry, just lost a bit in my own head,” April explained. “So, Sabrina, how are you?”
“Pretty good. I mean, I’m fine, yeah. Hey, Wednesday, I was wondering if you know some way to lock your phone so good that no one could break into.”
“Still having trouble with your old man? Is he still trying to read your messages or something?”
Sabrina rolled her eyes. “He’s on my case something nasty. He caught a whiff that I prefer the company of gentlemen of a certain age, aka as old as him, and he went completely ballistic. Let me buy you a cranberry juice or something. I’m not expecting you to secure my phone for free, you know.”
April had a mind to refuse her since he hadn’t even called his dad to tell him he would be home over the weekend. But he felt like he owed Sabrina as much, seeing how he had lied to her about who he was. “I guess I can help you pick a strong password.”
“I’m using face ID, but seriously, that thing must have something against my makeup. I’m a true artist, you know,” Sabrina said as she examined her fingernails. “Two out of three, my phone doesn’t recognize me as its lord and master. Mistress, whatever. So, I’d rather use a password, you know, the classic way, but I’m afraid that my dad could put someone to hack it either way.”
“There are a few ways to make your phone more secure,” April said, as his mind began to work. “Let’s go, and I’ll work with you to make your phone hacker-proof.”
“Great. You know what, Wednesday? I’ll throw in a sandwich, too.”
“Ah, you don’t have to. We’re friends, right?”
“We are?” Sabrina beamed at him. “If you say so, who am I to contradict you?” She hid her excitement right as if she was afraid April would take what he said back. “But aren’t you hungry? Studying makes me ravenous.”
“Actually, yeah, I am a little. But I hope you’re not taking me to some fancy five-star restaurant,” April joked.
“Never worry. Eat in one of those, and you’ll hurry home to stuff your face with three-month-old chips. I’m not going to punish you by taking you to that kind of place. We’ll have some burgers and soda. What do you say?”
“Sounds great.” It wasn’t like he had to hurry back home to Jett as usual. He had some time to kill, and his dad wouldn’t be home until later in the evening, knowing his schedule.
“Have you tried, you know, to work things out with your dad?” April asked as he handed the phone back to Sabrina, hopefully now more protected against hackers than before.
Sabrina flicked her hair over one shoulder. “What’s to work out with that dude?”
April shrugged. “I don’t know. But still, he’s your dad. Maybe you could talk to him or something. Tell him that you need your space and all that. Then maybe he’ll understand.”
Sabrina snorted. “Like he would listen. He is a total scumbag, doing all kinds of bad things, leaving mom - who’s not perfect, okay? – and now he’s all ‘young lady’ this and ‘young lady’ that. God, he’s so annoying.” She rolled her eyes to make a point. “It’s not like I don’t want to have a cool dad, you know? But he has all these rules, and he thinks he can tell me who I should date, and that’s a major ‘no’. I mean, he couldn’t keep mom from seeing other guys while he was in the can, and he thinks he could do that to me? I mean … oh no, I’m yapping my mouth like one of those stupid little dogs, am I not?”
April shook his head. “No. Actually, my boyfriend,” he confessed, “has the same issue with his dad. His dad doesn’t like that we’re together, and you can imagine the rest.”
“Who could be against someone as sweet as you?” Sabrina pinched his cheek like he was a two-year-old, but he didn’t mind. “Wait, is your boyfriend’s dad some homophobic asshole?”
“No, and that’s a bit strange, I mean, not that I complain. It’s just that,” April found himself talking, “my boyfriend has an ex-girlfriend and a child with her, and his dad believes that he should marry her and offer the child a real home.”
Sabrina stopped. Her eyes grew wide. “Did your boyfriend leave his girlfriend with a kid for you? You homewrecker!” She punched his shoulder now, but it seemed in camaraderie, not accusation.
“No, no!” April put his hands up. “It’s nothing like that! They had been through a long time before he and I met, and he didn’t even know until recently that she had a baby. I mean that they had a baby together. He didn’t even know that she had been pregnant with him. She kept it all a secret.”
“Wow, your life is quite exciting, Wednesday! But with a name like yours, I’m not surprised. So, she’s back to get him to marry her?” She slurped from her juice through a straw, making a gurgling sound. It was like she was at the cinema, watching a chick-flick that maybe combined romance with action and mystery.
“No. She’s cool with us, and she doesn’t want Jett to marry her.”
“Jett’s your boyfriend?”
“Yeah,” April said and bit his lips. He wasn’t supposed to give away so many details.
“Cool name. I bet he’s a strong dude, with a bad boy vibe, and at least two tattoos.”
“Only one,” April corrected her. The rest was pretty much accurate.
“Close enough. So, she doesn’t want to marry him. Then what’s his dad’s deal? Why does he want Jett to marry that girl?”
“He thinks that’s the logical thing to do. No, the responsible thing to do,” April corrected himself.
“Responsible.” Sabrina snorted. “We’re a bit too young to be responsible.”
April begged to differ, but he didn’t say a thing. “Anyway, they’re not talking now, at all. It was a big fight, and I don’t know, it seems bad.”
Sabrina nodded. “Parents can be so tough.”
“I guess.” April sighed. “Although my dad is awesome. I should show him how much I love him more often. He has nothing against me being with Jett, and he has always been like this. There are no secrets between us,” he added, feeling a bit like a show-off, but unable to help it.
“Parents always have secrets,” Sabrina said matter-of-factly.
“Not mine,” April said stubbornly. “Sometimes, I think my dad has done nothing but live for us, his kids, for years.”
Sabrina’s phone began ringing, and she apologized quickly as she took the call. Right away, she started laughing and throwing her head back coquettishly. April downed his juice and was already thinking of a way to say goodbye. He just had an idea about buying a cake for his dad, just to show that he cared. If he hurried, the bakery in his hometown would still be open, and he would manage to get something.
Also, he wanted to surprise his dad with both his visit and the cake, so he decided against calling beforehand.
“Sorry, Wednesday,” Sabrina said. “It’s just this guy, asking me out,” she added, with the same smile on her lips from before.
“One of those gentlemen of a certain age?” April asked.
Sabrina laughed. “No. To be honest, I think I do that sometimes just to piss off my dad. No, this guy is the real deal, I think. And he’s only three years older than me,” she said, a bit defensively.
April just smiled at her. “Good for you. And don’t worry, I’m not judging. Would you mind if I took off? I just remembered I have to do something for my dad.”
“You daddy’s boy, you,” Sabrina said and watched him with a fond expression on her face.
“I might be,” April admitted. “See you at school.”
Sabrina stood up and kissed both his cheeks, making sure to wipe the traces of lipstick from his skin before letting him go. “See you, Wednesday. You’re a cool dude.”
April nodded and hurried out the fast-food joint. He was just so lucky to have such a cool dad. He just hoped he would get the cake in time.
April let himself in with his key. Until his dad got home, he could also cook something, depending on what he would find in his father’s fridge. Usually, both the pantry and the refrigerator were packed since Sid was a fan of healthy eating and home cooking.
He balanced the cake in his hand as he closed the door behind him. Was there music coming from the kitchen? Then his dad was already home. And he seemed to be in a happy mood, by the upbeat rhythm April could clearly hear.
He walked toward the source of the sound, making sure not to make too much noise, as he still wanted to surprise his dad.
Just as slowly, he pushed the door open.
His dad was apparently cooking something, and for some reason, he had nothing but a pair of old jeans on and an apron. April knew his dad was lean and good looking, but that was still a surprise.
However, that wasn’t the biggest surprise. As April opened his mouth to say something, someone else walked into the picture.
Someone who also wore nothing but a pair of jeans and came to embrace his dad from behind, making his face light up with a smile. April looked up the muscular form of the stranger.
He dropped the cake to the floor, and everything stopped in his universe with the soft, doughy thump.
And ... I know that many of you have anticipated this moment, so the title of the chapter might not be very accurate for you. Now, some explanations are in order, and it's up to the two dads to give them. I'm just letting you guys wonder how April is going to handle it all. In the meantime, next time you will also learn more about Jett's outing with Zane.
Until next time,
Hugs and kisses,
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