Archive Date: 19 November 2006
To Ben, Michael was the most beautiful thing he had ever laid his eyes on. His angel, his memory loss when it came to his HIV status. Although he did constantly think of Michael when they were having sex so not to do any harm to his lover, it was different. Michael could make any horrible thoughts fade away,with the soothing tone he had in his voice, the look after he woke up in the morning and especially after he got out of the shower and the water was dripping down his chest and then over his tight abs. As they walked through the supermarket hand in hand and of course getting the odd look from passers, Ben noticed something different about his husband.
" Honey, what's wrong?"
Michael said nothing, he stayed quiet and just played with Ben's ring.
" What? Sorry." Michael said as they made they're way to the produce aisle.
" I said what's wrong? You seem distant. Where are you?" Ben said with a slight sadness in his voice for not being able to be where Michael was.
" I'm here, with you. Don't worry, I'm just alittle tired." he half smiled which always made him seem younger then he was.
" Ok, so what do we need?" Ben replied not at all believing Michael. He knew him too well to know when something was bothering him.
Nothing changed even on later in the evening. After they got back from the store, Michael was still lost in some dream world that was making him gloomy. Ben tried to talk to him and even asked again where he really was but Michael said the same thing, he was just tired. Hunter had returned back from studying at his friend, John's place and was going upstairs when he noticed Michael sitting on the couch staring at the blank t.v screen.
" Uh, Michael?" Hunter asked with confusion." Are you ok?"
" Yah, I'm fine. Just tired." he replied without turning around.
" Ok, well I'll be upstairs, where's Ben?"
" He went to the store, we forgot to get tea."
" Oh, that shit he drinks before he goes to bed?"
" Yah," Michael got up and walked around to Hunter, " but I'm gunna head to bed. Good night kiddo."
" Night." Michael then slowly climbed the stairs and left Hunter there.
Ben came back about a half an hour later to find Hunter sitting at the table with a cup of coffee. Ben put down the bag on the table.
" Hey, pal. What's going on?"
" I'm worried about Michael." Hunter said.
" Don't. He's just tired. Is he in bed?" Ben said knowing he was lying.
" Yah, and he's not just tired. Don't try to tell me you believe that. I know you don't. You're just as worried as I am. I came home and found him staring at the t.v and it wasn't even turned on."
Ben sat down beside Hunter, " You're right. I don't believe he's just tired. He keeps telling me that but I know something's wrong,he just won't tell me. He's kinda been like this for a couple days."
" I know. Ben do you think that he's, depressed?"
" I don't know, I don't think he has alot of symptoms. But I don't know alot about it."
" I do, I had to do this project on metal disorders. I figured depression was the easiest. Michael has quite a few symptoms. Like, he has no energy, he's been alone alot and wants to be alone, he hasn't been eating properly and there's some that I woudn't know about. You would though."
" Ok, what are they?"
" Loss of interest in sex and bad dreams."
Ben looks down, about to come to tears, he nods, " Yah, it's been over a week since, you know, and he doesn't sleep very well. So? He's depressed? What do we do?" Ben said almost in tears.
" He's got to go see a doctor. There's pills that can help you but there's side effects. Like everything."
" What are they?" Ben asked worriedly.
" I don't know all of them but weight gain is one, umm, sexual dysfunction, vomitting, nausea and a few others."
Ben put his hands to his face and cried lightly at first then became sobs. Hunter moved over to comfort him.
" Don't worry yet, he might not be, I mean I'm not a doctor I just know something about depression, maybe those are symptoms for something else too."
Ben lifts his face from his hands, " I hope so. I should call Debbie."
" No! I mean there's no point in worrying her until you know for sure. She'd just drive herself crazy and be over here bugging him. If Michael is then by bugging him, that can drive him farther down. Especially if he wants to be alone."
" Yah, you're right. I'll go with him tomorrow. What if he doesn't want to go? I can't drag him there."
" You might have to. Depressed people never think they're depressed. He won't go for that reason."
" What if I tell him it's for me and I just want him to come with me?"
Hunter shakes his head, " I wouldn't do that, another symptom is feeling like you failed in every part of your life and your just gunna keep on failing. So he might take it as like he couldn't save you."
" He couldn't have anyway, I had it before I even knew him."
" Doesn't matter. He'll still take it that way." Hunter said. " Just go be with him, and make sure he's ok. If he gets depressed enough, then well... I'm sure you know. I doubt he'd do it but. Just in case."
Ben nods, " Yah, ok. Thanks, I wouldn't have even guessed that. Here I am, a college proffeser learning from my 18 year old son, I'm very proud of you."
" For knowing about depression?" Hunter said as he lifts an eyebrow.
" For everything. You've gone through so much and handled it like an adult. You are an adult, I guess."
Hunter smiled, " Yah. But I owe it all to you two. You've both took amazing care of me but right now we need to do that for Michael."
Ben nods, " I'll go up there with him." He stands up. " Good night pal."
" Good night. I love you."
Ben smiled, " I love you too. Get some sleep." He patted Hunter on the back as he made his way up to see Michael.
Ben opened their bedroom door once he got upstairs and saw Michael lying down in the fetal position. Ben covered his mouth and held back tears, he went in and shut their door. The only light in the room was from their bathroom that Michael had left on. Ben sat next to Michael on the bed, afraid to make a sound. He watched Michael breathing, and saw the odd twitch he gave. Ben couldn't belive that this was happening to his angel. To his savior. Michael had always been the strong one, no matter what anyone said or how big Ben was. Michael was the one that saved their relationship, on many occasions. And now something was hurting Michael and Ben hated it. The worst part was, was that there was nothing Ben could do but have faith that it would go away. Ben just wanted Michael back. Ben wanted to see a full smile on his lips and not just the half smiles. He wanted to hear Michael's laugh, which he hasn't heard in over a week and most of all he wanted to be close to him. He missed the cuddling, and the talks they had at night after they made love. So Ben sat there most of the night beside him, until the need to sleep over came him and he moved in bed beside Michael.
The next morning Ben woke up and noticed that Michael wasn't beside him anymore. He hopped out of bed and went downstairs, that's where he found Michael sitting at the table with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. He looked almost normal. Like he would just turn around and smile but he didn't. So Ben went and sat beside him.
" Morning baby. How'd you sleep?"
Michael just shrugged.
" Are you gunna eat anything? How about some Captain Crunch?"
" I'm not hungry." Michael said flatly.
Ben sat there trying to find the words, or better yet trying to make up a lie to get him to the doctor. " Michael?"
Michael looked at him, he looked as if he hadn't slept in weeks. " Yah?"
" I need you to do me a favor. Ok?"
" I want you to come with me to the doctor."
Michael suddenly got riled up, " Why? What's wrong? Are you ok? I knew it."
" No no no. It's not me."
" It's Hunter? Oh gawd. Is he ok? What's wrong?"
" Baby, it's not Hunter or me. It's you."
" Me?" He said with abit of confusion to his voice.
" Yah, will you?" Ben asked, hoping to anyone that Michael would say yes.
" I'm fine, I don't need to go." Michael said then looked back down at the paper.
" Baby. Listen to me ok? Michael!" Ben said warmly.
Michael looked up at him.
" You need to come with me. Ok?" Ben was about to tear but he held them back, he didn't want to freak Michael out.
" Why? I'm not sick. I'm fine."
" Please. Just for our monthly check ups, ok?"
Michael exhaled loudly, " Fine, I'll go."
" Thank- you. I'm gunna go change then we'll head out, ok?"
Ben go up from the table and went up stairs, he called the doctor from their bedroom phone and called the doctor to make an appointment. Once that was done and he had changed he went to Hunters room.
Ben opened the door, " Hunter?"
" Yah?" Hunter answered sleepily.
" I got Michael to come with me to the doctor so we're gunna go. I'll call you and let you know."
Hunter sat up, " Ok."
" Just go back to sleep." Ben left and closed the door.
Ben then traveled his way down the stairs but didn't see Michael at the table where he left him.
" Michael, baby?"
" Yah?" Michael replied from the kitchen.
" You ready to go?"
" Umhm." Michael walked over to him then passed him and out the door. Ben followed him slowly.
Once they got to the doctors office, Ben was even more worried then he had been before. Michael had become angry. On the way there a car had accidently cut them off and Michael flew off the handle and yell out his window. Now that's not always a symptom of depression and healthy people do that too but when's it's a student driver car then you know there's a problem. Once they had gotten into the walk-in clinic where they go usually, Michael had just slumped into a chair while Ben went to check in.
" Hello?" Ben said hoping a nurse would hear him while he stood at the check in counter.
A nurse walked up with a smile on her face, " I'm sorry, how can I help you?"
" I'm Ben Bruckner, I'm here with my husband for an appointment with Dr. Kelton. I already talked to the doctor. She doesn't know why we're here."
" Right, she told me about that. Let me go see if she's ready for you. You can take a seat."
" Thank- you." Ben said politely then took his seat beside his husband. They probably sat there for a good five minutes when the nurse finally came back out.
" Benjamin Bruckner and Michael Novotny?" The nurse said looking directly at Ben.
Ben stood up, " That's us babe." Michael stood up after him and followed Ben into Doctor Kelton's office. Dr. Kelton came in almost right after they sat down.
" Hello, how are we doing today boys?" she said with a smile.
" Ok, we're just here for our check ups." Ben said giving her a worried look.
" Alright, well Ben will you join me in the examination room and Michael if you could wait in here?"
Michael just nodded and slumped farther into his chair. Ben followed Dr. Kelton into her examination room and he closed the door behind him.
" So, how's he been?" she asked.
" He got worse. Well, he picked up another symptom."
" Like? Can you tell me everything he's been doing that's out of the normal for him."
" Well, our son is the person who told me about it and he was worried Michael might be depressed so he started naming all these symptoms that matched Michael. He hasn't been eating properly, barely anything at all, he doesn't get a good night's sleep, he always wants to be alone, I can't get close to him. No ones been to latley."
" Is that all?"
" No, he's umm well we... we haven't."
" Had sex? Ben you have to tell me everything. You know me, I'm not freaked out about these things, I've been your doctor for two years now. Besides it's unprofessional."
" I know. Well we haven't had sex in over a week and for us that's not normal. Every time I try to get close to him he pushes me away, and today he got angry at a student driver car for cutting us off. You know Michael. He's never like that. He's shy and sweet and caring. He's never mean and quiet. I'm scared."
" I know you are. Depression is a dark thing that drags people down but it can be cured and if the person wants it then it can be cured faster. So, I'll bring Michael in here and ask him a few questions. Then we'll see, ok?"
Ben nodded. They walked out of the room and Ben sat down in the empty seat next to Michael.
" Michael? Come with me?" Dr. Kelton said.
Michael stood up and followed Dr. Kelton into the room, she closed the door behind him and Michael took his seat on the bed.
" I only have a few questions for you ok? It's this survey I have to do. Just answer them best you can alright?"
Michael nodded, " Sure."
" Alright, have you been getting enough sleep at night?"
" Yah, well not really. I've been having these nightmares that have been keeping me up through the night."
" Ok," Dr. Kelton writes something on her clipboard, " Next question. How's your eating habits been like latley?"
Michael shrugs," Umm, I haven't been eating alot lately. I just don't feel hungry."
" And is that making you feel run down? Like you have no energy?"
" Yah. I mean all I feel like doing is sleeping but I can't because the nightmares come back."
" I see." Writes it down on board. " And how is your sexual interest? Meaning do you feel arroused normally or has that changed?"
Michael nodded. " It's changed. Lately I just don't want to be around Ben. It's not that he doesn't turn me on, normally just looking at him gets me there, I mean you seen him without a shirt, but I don't know."
" I think I understand you. And one more question. Have you been experiencing mood swings?"
" Well getting angry for no reason, or crying for no reason?"
" Umm, not that I know of."
" Ok, Michael. Can I ask you what your dreams have been about?"
" Yah, dreams of dying mostly. The odd time I dream of Ben.." He looks down.
She looks at him, " I understand. Michael, from these questions I asked you and your answers, I've come to the conclusion that you have alot symptoms of depression. Ben brought you here for a depression test. I'll bring him in." She went and opened her door and told Ben to join them. Ben entered the room and looked at Michael, Michael had this betrayed slash sad look on his face. It just broke Ben's heart.
Dr. Kelton stated, " Michael has almost every symptom of depression. Now, Michael it's up to you if you'd like to take these pills to cure but I highly recommend it."
" How could you Ben? I told you I wasn't. You couldn't just believe me?"
" Baby, I wanted to, so bad but everything led to it. And even Dr. Kelton is telling you. Why don't you just trust us and help yourself. Hunter's even worried about you."
" I'm not depressed." Michael said holding back tears. " I can't be." he said and finally began to cry.
" Aww, baby." Ben went and hugged him. " Don't worry. We'll get through this together."
After Michael and Ben separated Michael said, " Ok, how's it work?"
" Come to my office, we'll talk there." Dr. Kelton said as she walked out of the examination room and into her office.
The whole time Dr. Kelton was explaining to them how the pill worked and the side effects all Ben could think about was how Michael's depression seemed alot like his HIV. A burden in many of the same ways and also the side effects of the medication. Ben hated to look at it that way because Michael's depression could be cured and Ben's HIV couldn't, but that's the way it seemed to him. It affected many things in their life but Michael didn't let that rule their life so why should a case of depression rule theirs now. Once Dr. Kelton finished telling them about the side effects and how to handle them it was time for them to leave. Ben knew exactly how to handle everything and he would make sure he did it right. He hated to see his baby suffer like this. Now the next thing to do was get him home then explain all of this to the gang and Debbie. He knew already how Debbie would react and the only person he was really worried about was Brian. He knew Brian loved Michael and that wasn't a problem anymore, the problem was that Ben didn't know how Brian would react. In some cases he's so hard to figure out.
Once they got home Michael went straight to the kitchen. He poured himself a glass of water and took one of the pills. Ben knew that Michael now truly understood what was going on and he knew that he needed to get better.
" Ben?" Michael whispered from the kitchen, so lightly that Ben barely heard him from the porch.
Ben closed the door and made his way to the kitchen. " Yah, baby what is it?"
Michael hopped on the counter and Ben stood between his legs.
Michael looked down not daring to look into Ben's eyes. " I'm sorry."
" For what?" Ben asked with a confused look stuck to his face.
Michael still hung his head, " For how I've been. I mean I know I must have been the hardest person to live with, and I probably said some nasty things to you."
Ben shrugged and lifted Michael's chin so he was looking into his eyes. " Michael, you're my husband and you'll never be hard to live with. I love you and nothing will change that. Ok? We'll get through this together." Ben finished it off with a kiss.
Michael moved away fast. " Ben. I can't. I just." Michael couldn't finish the sentence, honestly he didn't know what he was trying to say.
" Ok. I know. It's ok, don't worry. This will all be over soon and we can go back to normal."
Michael seemed kinda mad by that remark. " I'm not normal? Ben, I'm not some strange alien from another planet. I'm still me, just alittle depressed."
Ben backed away alittle. " Michael, I know. I never said you were. Babe."
Michael shook his head and hopped off the counter. " I'm going to bed. I suggest you don't follow me." Then he stomped out of the room leaving Ben standing there in complete disarray.
When Hunter came in he saw Ben lying on the couch covered with a thin blue blanket they had gotten as part of a wedding present.
" Ben?" Hunter asked as he walked up to the couch.
Ben sat up, " Hey pal."
" What's going on? Why are you down here? What did the doctor say? Is Michael gunna be ok?"
" Ok. Ok. One question at a time."
" What did the docotor say?"
Ben looked at him, " You were right. He's on a level of depression. He got these pills to settle it but there's side effects."
Hunter nodded but you could see the worry in his eyes. " So? Why are you down here?"
" He uh." Ben looked down, it was to hard for him to say.
" Anger outburst?" Hunter said with a ' I hate to be right ' tone.
Ben nodded. " Yah. He took something I said way out of context and kicked me out of our bed. You know what, this doesn't bother me. I mean it does, I hate to see Michael like this but how am I supposed to tell everyone? I mean Michael won't be out of the house alot. That's just a guess but I really doubt it. I just dont know how to tell Debbie. How do I tell her that her son is on a high level of depression?"
Hunter stayed quiet for a few seconds when he finally said, " I'll go with you when you tell them if you want. Afterall he is my father. I'll be there if you want."
Ben looked at him with tears swelling up in his eyes. " Ok, that would be great, Hunter." Ben nodded. " Yah. Tomorrow. We'll go tell them tomorrow, while Michael's sleeping."
" Ok." Hunter exhales loudly almost as if he were trying to get all the worry out of him so he could help Ben cope.
" Well you go to bed. Get some sleep."
" Are you going to be ok?"
" Yah. Don't worry about me."
Hunter nodded, " Ok. Goodnight."
" Goodnight pal."
Hunter began his trek upstairs then stopped and turned around, " I love you, Ben."
" I love you too, Hunter."
Hunter then finished his way to his room.
Ben woke up from his personal bed on the couch to see Hunter in the kitchen making coffee. He made his way over to his son and patted his back.
" Why are you up so early?"
" I couldn't sleep. I heard Michael, I don't know what he was doing. Moving around alot. I went to check on him and he was sleeping in the corner on the floor with a blanket. Nothing seemed out of place though."
" It's getting worse. But that's not a sign is it?" Ben asked confused.
" I don't think so but it could be related to one. As long as he keeps taking those pills it'll get better."
Ben nodded, " Yah, I hope so. I can't sleep on that couch again."
" There's always the air matress." Hunter stated with a sly grin.
Ben smiles, " Thanks. Well I'm going to go take a shower then we'll head over to Debbie's."
" Did you figure out what to say?"
" No, but I'll think of something. I'll be right back." Ben then left to have a well needed shower and to think about what he was going to tell Debbie.
After Ben had showered, gotten dressed and grabbed his coat, him and Hunter drove over to Debbie's. They were quiet on the way there, neither of them wanting to speak. Hunter hating the quiet spoke up first.
" How was Michael when we left?"
" Well he made his way to the bed. He was sleeping. I left a note saying we were at the store just in case he wakes up."
" Ok. Are you sure Debbie's home?"
" Yah, it's her day off. It's Carl's week off so."
That was the end of their conversation until they were parked outside of Debbie and Carl's. Ben sat in the car for at least ten minutes before he had the nerve to even speak.
" Are you sure we should do this?"
" Ben, she's gotta know. Just think how easy this will be compared to Brian."
" True. Let's go then."
They got out of the car and made they're way to the front door. Hunter knocked and a few seconds later Carl answered.
" Hey, boys." Carl said with a smile. " Come in." He moved aside and let Hunter and Ben go in.
Debbie saw them from the kitchen and smiled, " Hey you two. Why are you here so early? And where's Michael?"
Ben took his time to answer, " Uh, we came here to talk to you about Michael."
" Oh gawd. What is it? Did Rage get cancelled?"
" No. But Debbie you should sit down."
" Ben, you're really making me nervous. What's wrong? Is he sick?"
" Can you just sit down, grandma." Hunter said, only using grandma in important situations, but it did get her to sit.
Debbie sat on Carl's favorite chair, " Ok, I'm listening."
Ben and Hunter sat on the couch. " Carl you may want to sit down too." Ben said.
Carl took a seat next to Debbie on the arm of the chair.
" Ok, now what is it?"
Ben cleared his throat and glanced at Hunter quickly which he in turned recieved a reassuring nod. " Debbie, have you noticed something different about Michael lately?"
" He's just alittle down. Why?"
" Well," Ben cleared his throat again. " Well we went to the doctor yesterday and umm we....." Ben looked down.
" Please do not tell me he has cancer." She began to tear alittle.
" Oh no. No, nothing like that."
" Thank God. Then what?"
" He's uh.. depressed."
" Is that all? Oh honey all of us are alittle depressed." She stated.
" No, Debbie. He's on a high level of depression."
" He's very different around the house. He's not Michael anymore." Hunter said.
" What do you mean exactly? I haven't noticed anything." Debbie said scared to hear the reply.
" He's well. He's mean, Deb. He yelled at a student driver for cutting us off. He hasn't been eating, he's been having these horrible dreams, he wants to be alone, all the time. And he even kicked me out of our room. He doesn't want to be close anymore. Debbie, he's not the Michael we know and love. He's different. He's depressed."
Debbie has tears in her eyes, " Oh my gawd. It is true. Ben. Is he gunna be ok?" Carl was rubbing her back at this point worried himself about his son.
" He's taking pills. He should be ok Deb. He just needs to heal himself. Get back to his normal loving self."
" Don't worry grandma. We're taking care of him." Hunter reassured her.
" Well, I'm gunna go see him." She stands up.
" Deb, it's better if you don't. We won't barely talk to us. He just needs time to himself right now."
" He needs time with his mother." Debbie said in a bossy tone.
Ben stands up, " Deb, please. Not right now anyway. When he begins to get better. Then you can."
" Honey, I think you should listen to them." Carl said with a reassuring rub on the back.
" Carl, he's my son."
" And he's Ben's husband and Hunter's father. You need to accept that he's not your only responsiblity. They love him just as much as you do and they can take care of him. If they think it's best that he takes his time then so be it."
Debbie slumped back into her chair. " I just want to make sure he's ok. He's my only child. He's my world."
" I know, Debbie. We're taking care of him. We'll let you know as soon as we think he's ready. It's just that, he's barley talking to us. And Im scared he might blow up at you." Ben said reassuring her that Michael would be ok.
" I know Ben. Ok, we'll whatever you think is best. I'll stay out of it." Debbie stated with tears still forming in her eyes.
" It's not that we don't want you out of it. It's just that he needs his space." Hunter said hoping his youth would work for him so Debbie wouldnt feel so left out.
" I know, honey. But you just let me know ok?"
" Yes. You just let us know when he's ready." Carl said trying to sound like an actual father figure.
" Oh definatly." Ben said.
" Well, would you like some tea or something?" Debbie asked.
" Actually we still need to tell Brian and everyone."
" Good luck. I can already see Brian's reaction." Debbie said with a lop-sided smile.
" I know. That's why we need to go." Ben stood up and Debbie followed him and stood up as well. " He'll be ok Debbie." Ben said as he hugged her.
" I know. You two will take care of him. After all your his family." Debbie said sadly.
" Debbie, that's not the reason. It's just that we live together and he needs his space. I'm not even sleeping in our room. Ok?"
" No, I understand. I do. I just hate being so far away from him when he's sick. I've always been with him when he's sick."
" Honey, this isn't the flu or a cold. It's different. He needs to self heal. There's nothing you can do about it. He just needs to get his self esteem back." Carl said with a light rub on her back.
" Since when you know about this?" Debbie asked curiously.
" I had to take a psychology course to get into the police field."
" Oh." Debbie nodded.
" We'll tell you though." Hunter said with a hug goodbye. " Carl's right. He'll be ok once he gets his self esteem back. He just feels like it's not worth it."
" How did he manage to get himself depressed? He's the typical applicant for it." Debbie asked.
" I don't know Deb. I'm still asking myself that question. But we better go." Ben said.
" Ok. See you later. Come by the house for supper one night ok?"
Ben nodded, " For sure. See you later Deb." He gave her a kiss on the cheek and patted Carl's shoulder. " Bye Carl."
" See you. Take care of that boy." Carl replied. Ben nodded.
" Bye, grandma. See you later Carl." Hunter finished.
Ben and Hunter went back out to the car and sat there for a few seconds before Ben started the car.
" She took that better then I thought she would." Hunter said.
" Yah, but now it's Brian we're going to have problems with. I mean I'm not too worried about the rest of them but. Brian's different."
" I know. I mean I can see how Emmett's gunna take it but yah Brian is something else."
" We better get over there. He'll probably be at the office."
" I called there and Cynthia said he's at home today. Probably a rough night last night."
" Yah, Justin did just get back. Ok, well let's go do this then."
They ended up taking a few detours before they parked outside of Brian's loft. Ben wasn't sure exactly how to tell Brian. Especially with their track record. Going from a meaningless fuck over ten years ago to the HIV positive boyfriend of his best friend then finally to be accepted by him because of Michael.
" Ready?" Hunter asked.
" Not really. But it's now or never so come on." Ben said as he opened the door and climbed out.
Ben shut his door and stood infront of the car looking up to Brian's window. Hunter made his way around to Ben's side of the car.
" Come on big guy. Let's go." Hunter said with a pat on Ben's back and he started their journey to Brian's loft.
Once they reached Brian's door, Ben started to feel even more nervous and actually kind of scared. Ben was never scared of Brian only a fool had to be. Brian may have talked big but nothing more came from it. Although right at this very moment Ben was literally scared. Hunter knocking on Brian's door is what shook Ben from his thoughts. Not long after Justin answered the door in a pair of old sweats and a baggy shirt. Which then proved exactly why Brian wasn't at work.
" Hey guys. What's going on?" Justin asked.
" We need to talk to you and Brian." Ben stated.
" Ok, come on in." Justin said and moved aside for them to go in.
Brian came down from his room and saw the two standing there. " Is it gay pride collection day already? Where's the wife?"
" That's what we're here to talk to you about. You might wanna sit down." Ben said gently.
" You too, Justin." Hunter added.
Brian and Justin took their spots on the couch and Ben and Hunter went to stand infront of them. Hunter sat on Brian's leather chair. Ben sat on the coffee table.
" So what's so important that we need to sit here like a bunch of fuckin' women?" Brian said with a nasty tone.
" Brian this is serious. Can you put off the nasty comments." Hunter said.
" Ok. So what is it?"
Ben didn't know exactly how to start but eventually he found the words. " It's about Michael."
Brian half smiled. " That much I figured out."
" He's not well Brian. He's on a high level of depression." Ben said immediatly looking down.
Brian laughed then realizing that Ben was really serious about it he said, " What? I don't really get what your saying. Mikey? Depressed? Isn't that for girls and emos?"
" Brian it's not funny. We've been to the doctor. She said it was. Haven't you noticed him acting different lately?"
" I guess he seemed more run down but he said he wasn't getting enough sleep."
" Yah, that and not eating properly, being alone all the time, mood swings, anger outbursts. Brian he yelled a student driver for cutting him off."
" So. I do that all the time. They need to learn."
" That's you. Michael would never do that and you know it."
Brian stands up, " So you came here to tell me that Michael's depressed?"
" Yah." Ben nodded. " He won't be out alot and he needs time to self heal."
" Self heal!! Are you kidding me? All that Buddha bullshit." Brian shouted.
" Brian, calm down." Justin said.
" Calm down? Justin he came here to tell me that my best friend is depressed and to leave him alone."
Ben looked over to Hunter then tried to explained to Brian. " Brian. It's not that we don't want you to see him, he even kicked me out of our room. He just wants to be alone and he doesn't want to even be around us right now."
" Brian, Ben's right. If Michael is depressed then he's gunna want to be alone." Justin added.
" Really? And what do you know about depression." Brian asked.
" Alot more then you obviously. Look, Brian the only way Michael can get better if he's by himself. Pressure from the rest of us is only going to drive him farther into it."
Brian sat back down with a saddned maddened expression on his face. " Fine! So is there anything we can do?"
" No. We just have to let him work things out and as long as he keeps taking the pills he'll get better." Ben said.
" So what? I can't see him. At all?" Brian asked now with worry in his voice.
" Not right now no. He'll be ok Brian. I promise you that." Ben said trying to comfort Brian.
" That's a promise you better keep." Brian said full of authority.
" Brian you know I will. I love him just as much as you do." Ben said.
" I know. I want you to let me know as soon as I can see him."
" Definatly. And thanks for taking this so well. I thought for sure you'd rush out the door."
Brian nodded, " I thought about it. But if it's gunna hurt Mikey by me going over there then."
" We'll we better get out of here. We still have to stop by Ted and Emmett's and Mel and Lindsay's."
" Ok. When you can. Tell him we love him." Justin said.
" For sure." Ben said as he stood up.
" Well bye guys." Hunter said as he followed his dad to the door.
" See you. Thanks for telling us." Brian said. " Take care of him." He looked down.
" We will. Don't worry." Ben and Hunter snuck out of the loft and went back to the car.
Down at the car they got in and Ben started the car right away to head to Melanie and Lindsay's place where Ted and Emmett were having brunch. On the way there Hunter was again the first one to speak up.
" He took that alot better then I thought."
" Yah, me too. But when it comes to Michael, he'll do anything so in a way I kind of expected that."
" True. Now just the rest of them."
" Yah. They're all at Mel and Lindsay's. At least we don't have to go through this another two times. I don't think I could handle it. I just want to go home and see how Michael is."
" Yah. Well one more stop."
Once they reached Melanie and Lindsay's place Ben had already known what to say. The hardest part of it all would be seeing J.R. Everytime he saw her he saw Michael. She had his eyes, his nose and his smile. She was everything to Michael and he would do anything for her. Which got Ben to think that if maybe Michael saw J.R he'd be in a even more hurry to get better. I mean there really was nothing to lose. As they were parked outside they noticed Ted's new Hybrid in the driveway. Ben knew that it was time to go in and tell them but this was really starting to get to him. He just felt like slumping into a corner and crying.
" Come on,DAD. Let's go." Hunter said and patted Ben's shoulder.
Ben nodded," Ok."
They got out of the car and walked to the front door. Hunter knocked twice and they waited until Melanie finally opened the door.
" Hey boys. What's going on? Do you wanna come in for some brunch?"
" Uh, no thanks Mel. We just came here to talk to you guys. It's importnant." Ben replied.
" Ok, come in." She smiled.
Ben and Hunter followed Melanie into the dining room and saw Ted and Emmett sitting on the other side of the girls. Emmett was holding J.R.
" Hey guys. What's up?" Lindsay asked.
" Uh. We need to talk to all of you." Ben said.
" They said it was important." Melanie finished.
" Ok. Well sit down." Lindsay motioned.
Ben and Hunter took their seats, Ben next to Ted and Hunter next to Melanie.
" So what's going on?" Ted asked.
" It's about Michael." Hunter started.
" Is something wrong?" Emmett asked worriedly.
" Yah actually. He's not well. He's uh...depressed. And not the slit your wrist, goth make up, kind of depressed. I mean really depressed."
" Oh no." Emmett said then covered his mouth.
" Are you serious? What happened? I mean he's usually so happy." Lindsay asked.
" I'm not sure. I was wondering that too. I mean he's gone from one to ten so quickly. I wish I knew Linds."
After talking and explaining to them that they'd take care of Michael and that it was best if they didn't talk to him for a bit and the normal speech that Ben was used to, they had finally gotten out of there two hours later. Hunter and Ben jumped back into the car and headed for home.
" Well that's it. What now?" Hunter asked.
" Now, we go home and take care of him. We do our best to make sure he gets better. To make sure that he'll be Michael again."
" Right. You think he'll be Michael again?"
" Yah. I mean this isn't life threatning, right? He'll be back to his comic loving self in no time. We just have to make sure he keeps taking his pills."
" Ok." Hunter said then looked over to Ben who's fingers were wrapped around the wheel so tight his knuckles were white. " Uh, you know you can tell me how you feel. Don't keep it all in. It's not good for you. Isn't that what you and Michael have been telling me?"
Ben looked over to Hunter with alittle bit of tears beginning to spill over. " You're right. We've been telling you that. But you're our son, you don't need to hear my problems. I'm the adult." He looked back at the road.
" Dad," Hunter looked down and Ben looked right back at him. Hunter looked right at him. " Yah, Ben you're my dad. Closest thing to one I've ever had so there's no point in covering it with sarcasm. You can tell me you're problems. Remember I am almost an adult and I know more then you think I do. I had to survive on the streets by myself. I think I can handle you're emotions." He said with a half smile.
Ben smiled at him. " I know. And thank you for that. I know you can handle it but I'm not ready and might not ever be so for now I think we need to go back home and check on Michael."
" Ok. I just want you to know that I love you." Hunter said then looked out the window.
" I know, and I love you too." Ben said then drove on.
Once they got inside the house they noticed it was the same way as they left it, so obviously Michael hadn't gone downstairs at all.
" I'm going to go check on him. If you want you can go out."
" Ok, I'll give Adam a call. Call me if something's wrong ok."
" They're won't be but yah I will. Have fun." Ben then went upstairs.
Ben creep up the stairs and slowly walked inside they're room just in case Michael was sleeping or had a something to throw at him. He peeked in and didn't see Michael at all. He walked in and looked around. Michael wasn't in bed, on the floor or in the corner. That's when Ben started to get really worried but then he heard someone in the bathroom. He walked closer and heard Michael throwing up so he rushed in. Michael had his head in the toilet and was sweating.
" Baby, are you ok?" Ben asked worriedly.
Michael looked up at Ben with his big brown eyes that would have normally turned him on but now it only caused hurt in his heart. Ben knelt down beside Michael and tried to touch him but like he expected, Michael pulled away.
" Michael, you have to let me in. Let me help you." Ben said with tears in his eyes.
" I can't." Michael said and leaned against the wall.
" Why not? That's what I'm here for. You're still my husband and I love you. No matter what."
" I know, but." Michael inhaled big. " I'm not, " he coughed, " me anymore. How could you still love me?"
Ben moved closer to him. " Because, I love you. You don't need to be perfect. Just let me in, please."
Michael couldn't say anything he just sat there and then started to cry.
" What? Michael baby, what is it?" Ben asked.
" I don't know. Ben, I'm scared." Michael said crying. " I don't know why I'm crying, I don't know why I'm having the nightmares, I don't know why I can't eat. I'm just so scared." Michael cried even harder.
Ben held Michael close to him. It was the first time in weeks that Michael let him even get this close. Ben made sure to be careful of how he worded his sentences around Michael.
" It's ok. What are you're dreams about?"
Michael looked at his tears still running down his face. " You." He looked down.
Ben was confused, " About me?"
Michael nodded, " Yah. You were," he started to cry more, " You were leaving me."
" Baby, I would never leave you, you know that."
Michael shook his head, " Not like that. You were, dying. I was holding you and you were, you were," Michael couldn't finish, he was crying so hard he could barly breathe.
Ben had begun to cry, there was nothing he could say, he couldn't say that wouldn't happen because, gawd forbid, it actually could. Instead he held Michael closer and took advantage of the closeness he had until Michael flipped out again. Ben actually had the whole night with Michael, which gave him hope that things would be normal again soon. Sometime during their moment Ben had moved Michael to the bed and cuddled with him until Michael fell asleep. Ben knew this wasn't going to last so he tried not to get his hopes up to high, but he had to admit that it was hard. He wasn't used to Michael not being around him or not being able to hold him or kiss him whenever he wanted. He stayed up all night, not even thinking about closing his eyes, scared that it would all go away and Michael would return to the mean and sad person he had been lately. He tried so hard to stay up but soon the need to sleep over whelmed him and he drifted off to sleep.
Then next morning Ben woke up and noticed Michael was gone, he got up and went downstairs but Michael wasn't there either. He looked all over the house and when he didn't find Michael anywhere he got worried. He went to Hunter's room to see if he heard him. Ben opened Hunter's door and walked to the side of Hunter's bed.
" Hey pal." He said tapping Hunter's shoulder.
Hunter made this humming sound and opened one eye. " What?"
" Did you see or hear Michael at all? He's not here."
Hunter sat straight up. " What? Where'd he go?"
" I don't know. Last night I thought we had a breakthrough. I guess not."
Hunter exhaled slowly, " Maybe he went to the store. To get his mind off of things."
" Yah, maybe." Ben nodded. " I'll go check. I have to got to the post office anyway."
" Ok. Well I'm gunna get up. Go watch t.v, he might come back so."
" Ok. I'll be back in a bit." Ben said then walked out the door.
Ben went to the car and began to drive around. He went immediatly to the store,he knew that's where Michael went when they were fighting or when he needed his space. It was locked so he took the key Michael gave him and unlocked the door. It seemed dead and musty in there, when usually it felt so full of life and happy. He closed the door and went to the back, where of course he found Michael asleep on the futon. He leaned against the doorway and just watched Michael for awhile. He really didn't understand what went on last night but he wasn't going to try and decode Michael's depression. That's the way it went, mood swings and vommiting. The glorious side effects of the pills. As he watched Michael breathing he felt almost comforted. Like as if Michael was hugging him, telling him that everything was alright. He wasn't sure if he should wake up Michael or not. He decided not to just in case it upsetted Michael and he lost everything they had gained the night before. So he slowly backed off and left Michael to sleep. Ben then just decided to drive around for awhile, after he called Hunter to let him know of course.
Ben got home two hours later with some lunch for himself and Hunter. Hunter was sitting at the laptop and seemed deep in thought with what he was doing.
" What are you doing , pal?"
Hunter looked up and said, " Just writing alittle." He saved what he was doing and shut the laptop.
" Oh well I brought us some lunch." He held up a bag from Thai cuisine. Hunter made a face and Ben pulled out a bag from Burger King out of the other bag. " Don't worry, I wouldn't think to put you through such cruelty as to eat healthy food."
" Thanks." Hunter then went and took the bags from Ben so Ben could put his coat away. " So, is Michael still at the store?"
" Yah, I stopped by on the way home, I saw him at the computer so I didn't go in. I figured I'd just let him be by myself for awhile."
" Well, I just hope that he took his pills."
" Yah, I think he did. The side effects are kicking in though. I sat with him while he was throwing up last night."
" Well, at least that means they're working right?"
Ben nodded, " Yah, I guess. It's just, I just wish that everything would go back to normal. That none of this ever happened."
" I know, me too. But there's nothing more we can do but wait."
" Yah. And I'm willing to wait as long as it takes. " Ben said that then sat down.
The next day Ben woke up to find Michael beside him. Ben smiled and wrapped an arm around Michael but when Michael turned over he had blood shot eyes and looked really sick.
" Baby, are you ok?"
Michael shook his head," No, I dont.." he couldn't even finish his sentence, he turned over and threw up in a bucket he put beside him.
Ben rubbed his back, " Is it the pills?"
Michael nodded from where he was hunched over the bed, " I think so."
Ben sat up and moved closer to Michael, " Come here."
Michael snuggled in closer to Ben, " I'm sorry. For saying what I did, and making you sleep on the couch. I couldn't control myself, and you know I didn't mean a word of it." He hung his head and started to tear. " Fuck, this is probably worse then the vomitting. I feel like J.R." He sniffled.
Ben gave a small laugh, at least he was getting his wit back. " Baby, it'll all go away. This won't last forever. Soon everything will be the way it was and we can go back to the way things were." Ben was sure to back off alittle after that because of the last time.
Michael said everything in tears to a point where Ben barely understood him. " I know. I just wish that it happened sooner. I hate feeling this way, I hate being so far away from everybody and being so close. I hate the way I'm hurting you, my mom, my friends, Hunter, it just feels that I'm making people worry. Some days I feel like I just don't wanna do this anymore, like there's no point in staying here when all I'm doing is hurting those around me."
" That better not mean what I think that means. Michael I know your in a hard place right now, and you think that your worrying people but it's not that. We all love you, and we want to see you get better. So I sincerly hope your not thinking what I think you're thinking."
Michael exhaled deep and looked into Ben's eyes, " I'm not gunna say I didn't think about it because I did. I mean I don't anymore but I did. When I felt that everything was wrong and I couldn't handle my feelings anymore."
" Well, I hope you still don't think about it. Michael, I need you, you know that. We all need you, but especially me. I don't know where I'd be if it hadn't been for you. Your my rock, my best friend, my lover and my husband. Nothing will ever change that."
Michael looked back down, tearing again," I know and I need you too. Ben, I...I mean I just can't see myself without you. Why else do you think I'm working so hard to get back to normal?" Michael looked back into Ben's eyes, which were now springing little tears. " I just want you to know that. Because of you I became who I needed to become, what I always was but was too scared to see it." Michael inhaled deep and finished, "I love you and there's nothing or no one in the world that can change that." Michael started to cry again but attempted to hold it back, once he saw Ben beginning to cry he couldn't anymore. They sat there together holding each other, not wanting to let go.
A few weeks later things gradually started to get back to normal. Michael started seeing his friends and family again and had less mood swings. He had started to eat properly and even had a few nights in a row with no disturbing dreams. Things just seemed to get better and better. So they decided to go to the diner and have lunch with the guys.
" I'm glad you're all right, Michael." Justin said.
" Thanks, and thanks you guys for not making a big deal out of this."
" Oh no problem honey. But remember, you haven't really talked to your mom yet." Emmett put in.
" Yah, I know." Michael rolled his eyes. " I can't wait for that."
" I'm sure she won't be that bad." Ted added, " All she wants is for you to be better."
" Thanks, Ted. But it's still my mom. So that equals, a hug, a kiss and a slap to the head."
Ben smiled, " Well, that should bring back some memories."
" Yah, let's say the last 34 years of them." Michael smiled. For some reason everyone had alittle smile on their face but was silent. " What?" Michael asked.
" Nothing honey, it's just good to see you smile again." Emmett put in.
" Well Mikey, I'm glad your back to normal but I have to get to work." Brian said, then kissed Michael. " Theodore, I suggest you follow me or you'll be out a job."
" Ok." Ted said. " I'll call you later Michael."
" Ok." Michael smiled again.
" Bye baby, see you tonight." Ted said to Emmett.
" Ok," Emmett gave Ted a kiss. " Make sure to bring some potatoes home."
" Alright. Bye guys." Then he followed Brian out the door.
" Well, sorry to depart so soon but I indeed have work as well. I have to meet the future Mrs. Holcaster."
" Have fun." Michael said.
Emmett gave him a look then waved and departed.
" Well, I might as well leave too and uh, go to the gym. See you guys later." Justin said as he got up.
" Bye Justin." Michael waved.
Justin left and Ben and Michael were left alone, they just sat in silence for a minute.
" What's going through your head?" Ben asked.
" Everything's just..it feels like nothing happened."
" Isn't that a good thing?" Ben looked at him.
" Yah, it is. It's just," Michael shrugged, " I don't know. But it's definatly a good thing."
" Well you haven't really talked to your mom yet so don't get your hopes up." Ben smiled.
Michael smiled, " Yah and like I said, I'm nothing but excited for it."
" Well, let's go then, since you're so excited. She's at home with Carl today."
" Yah, I was wondering why she wasn't here. Ok, " Michael breathed deep. " Let's go." They got up, Ben threw a twenty on the table, put his arm around Michael's waist and they walked out of the diner.
Later that night when they were getting ready for bed, Michael looked exhausted and just fell onto the bed.
" Oh my gawd, I'm so tired."
" Well, your mother can be like that."
" Yah, I should know. I've had her for long 34 years." Michael smiled, stripped off his clothes except his undies and climbed into bed. Ben changed into his pajama pants and climbed in beside him but stayed on his side of the bed. "Ben?"
Ben turned over and looked at him, " Yah?"
" Why are you way over there?"
Ben smiled, " Sorry, it's kinda been a habit lately. When I was allowed in the bed." Ben smiled again, knowing he maybe shouldn't have said that.
" I know. I'm sorry, but I kinda just want you to hold me tonight."
Ben moved closer and took Michael into his arms, " You shouldn't even need to ask." He kissed Michael cheek and snuggled closer.
" Good-night Ben. I love you."
" I love you too." He put his head on Michael's and closed his eyes tight, not wanting to give into sleep, he knew it was all over but he still wanted that security. Eventually he fell asleep and it felt like they're first night together, warm, comforting and full of love.
End of "Dazed and Confused" by Badly Drawn Girl (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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