For this week’s prompt (In bold in the story), I revisited my boys–Michael and Aric. Well, kind of. It’s a flashback to Michael’s past. Here are the other pieces of their story so far.
Michael clenched his fists in his lap, staring as his sister stormed out of the restaurant. Not that he blamed her. Hell, he’d give pretty much anything to be right on her heels at that moment, rather than sitting here listening to his father’s homophobic slurs and insults. Actually, he was surprised Trina had made it for—he glanced at his watch—a whole twenty minutes. Of course, it was only when dear dad’s comments became personal and aimed with precision toward Michael that Trina had been unable to take it any longer.
Michael, on the other hand, had more experience with dealing with this bullshit. He’d been expecting it from the moment his father had called to set up this little family dinner. He almost hadn’t come, but fuck, there was still a part of him—however, miniscule it had become—that wanted things to be okay with his dad, with their family.
All he wanted right now? To be home, curled up in front of the fireplace with Aric, enjoying a movie and the hot and heavy making out sure to follow. He stared at his father, took in the annoyed, yet slightly amused, expression on his face.
“This is where you make up some stupid excuse to leave early and stop returning my calls.” He leaned back in his chair with a sigh. At least, you’re more polite than your sister.”
“More polite than you,” Michael muttered, reaching for his water.
“I was actually surprised you came. That that…man you’re…” his lips lifted in a slight sneer, “seeing allowed you to come. He always stopped you before.”
“Aric has nothing to do with my not wanting to see you.”
“Right,” his father drawled. “It’s quite clear he wears the pants, rules the roost. Ever since you took up with him, you’ve refused to see me.”
“Not true,” Michael said shortly. “I stopped accepting your invitations when you decided insulting me wasn’t enough and thought hitting me might make me come around to your way of thinking.”
“I was angry.” The older man waved a hand dismissively. “I’d had a few drinks, and I hardly touched you.”
Michael’s jaw ached, from clenching it so tightly and the memory of the jarring backhand his father had delivered months before. Before he could say anything, before he could stand up and say “fuck off”, his father continued.
“I didn’t ask you here to fight or go over old disagreements. I want you to come back and work for me. You made your point leaving.”
“Did I? And what are the conditions for my return? Leave Aric? Pretend to be the good little boy, the perfect son? So long as he’s at least straight on the outside, yeah?”
“You’ve made it quite clear that you won’t leave him or stop doing…what you’re doing. I can accept that.” He took a deep breath. “I simply ask you maintain a better image—publicly. What you do on your own time… As long as you’re discreet.”
This time he managed to get the words out. “Fuck off.”
Before he could push to his feet, his father grabbed his arm, grip tight and bruising. “Listen to me, Michael.”
“No, you listen. I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not. What do you expect me to do? Date women publicly to please you? Where does it does stop? Am I supposed to get married, have a few kids, all the while keeping Aric on the discreetly on the side? Fuck that, and fuck you. I’m not ashamed of who I am, and I’m sure as hell not ashamed to be with Aric.”
“Why can’t you be sensible? Why would you throw everything away for a perverted, disgusting lifestyle? Is he worth giving up everything you could have, everything I could give you? All that because you like to bend over and take it? I raised you better than that.” His fingers dug into Michael’s biceps.
“Please.” Michael jerked his arm from his father’s grasp. “You hardly raised me at all. That was a job you hired out. And the answer is yes. He’s worth all of that. He’s worth everything. But you know what?” He stood, trying to quell the trembling of his limbs. “Even if I didn’t have him, I wouldn’t come back. Nothing is worth having to put up with you and hate-filled bullshit.”
“Michael, please,” he said quietly. “I don’t know how much time I have left. I’m not a young man. I don’t want…”
Watching the older man bite his lip, Michael almost sat back down, until he saw the calculated gleam in his father’s eyes. Damn it, he’d almost fallen for it—he knew better!
“What you want or don’t want doesn’t make a difference in my life anymore. Do you remember what you said to me when I came out?” His father frowned. “Come on. Think really hard.”
He shook his head and reached for Michael again. He stepped to the side, successfully avoiding the grab.
“You said you’d rather hear I was dying than that I was a fag. When I left the company, you said I was dead to you. Well, I’m returning the favor, Dad. It goes both ways now. You’re dead to me. I don’t want to see you again.”
“You don’t mean that. If I died—”
“I would be happy,” Michael said, nearly choking on the words. Hating himself for saying them—even more for meaning them. He shook himself, allowed every acidic, cruel damning word his father had ever spewed to fill his mind. “I would be free from your hate, and I could finally breathe easy. Don’t contact me again.”
He pivoted and strode from the restaurant and made it to his car—barely—before his legs gave out. Leaning against the cold vehicle, he squeezed his eyes shut struggled to draw in air. What had he done? What the hell kind of son was he?