Major (capital “M”) angst and have tissues at the ready for this story.25
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Ian sighed. “That question is going to get old,” he muttered. “But necessary, I guess. I’ve been better. I’m not… great right now, actually.”
“Is this about Kane?” She asked.
He stared at her a moment, trying to figure out what she knew, fighting the color that wanted to bloom on his cheeks. “Um…”
She sighed and held up a finger. She dumped the eggs into a dish, then turned the heat off under the bacon before turning to her son. “I’d have to be completely deaf to not know.”
The color in his cheeks won. “Oh.”
“Look, I’ve already talked to you about this stuff. You’re a grown man, now, Ian.” She took the two steps across the kitchen and leaned against the small island Ian was standing at. She looked him over in silence a moment and brushed at his stubborn bangs. “What you do with your sex life is your business. I talked to you about safe sex because, unfortunately, the fact that you’re gay means you’re a bit more open to some dangers.” She shrugged one shoulder. “It’s a fact and I just don’t want to lose you or Kane, especially when it’s mostly avoidable now. Or, at least, you can take steps to prevent it.”
She paused and stared at the laminated top of the counter, running a finger along the painted-on wood grain. Ian said nothing, caught still in his storm of emotions. He just now had the added bonus of mortification to throw on top of it, too.
“You know, I know how you feel.” Her voice had dropped so low that he had to strain to hear her.
Ian looked down, staring at his bare toes. It hadn’t occurred to him that she did. He barely remembered his father; he’d been so young when they’d lost him. He swallowed around the lump in his throat and looked back up at her.
He realized just how much they looked alike. He’d seen the pictures of his dad, she had them everywhere. And he knew that he didn’t look anything like the older Kelly. He was, as she’d told him plenty, a smaller, male version of her. She had the same long brown hair, though hers was longer than his and most often tied back. Her eyes looked a little bigger in her face than his did, but they were the same chocolate brown. They had the same oval face, same shaped lips, same everything.
He wondered if she ever regretted that, if it might have been better if he’d at least looked like his dad so she’d have that to remind her of him. He shook his head slightly, banishing the thoughts. He met her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to suppress the ache. “I’m sorry. It just didn’t…”
“I know.” She reached out and brushed at his bangs again, running her fingers down his face. “When… when your father died, I had friends. But none of them were to me what Kane is to you. I had no male friends to turn to like you do.”
Ian frowned. He looked over his mother, realizing he’d never seen her with another man. Never, in all these years, had he seen her date. “You loved my dad. You didn’t… wouldn’t have…” he trailed off, despite the adult conversation, still unable to put his mother and having sex in the same sentence.
She sighed. “I would have, Ian.”
Ian looked at her sharply. “You would? But…”
“He was gone, Ian. Just like Hayden. He was dead and finding comfort, allowing myself to live and feel wouldn’t have brought him back. It wouldn’t have tarnished his memory, wouldn’t have changed how much I loved him when he lived.” She swallowed around the lump.
“Why haven’t you… found anyone else?” Ian asked.
She sighed again. “At first, I was afraid of falling in love. I didn’t have anyone to tell me then that it would be okay to. That Shaughn would have wanted me to. I was afraid of all those things – tarnishing his memory or somehow forgetting him. But of course, I haven’t forgotten him. And you’ll never forget Hayden. He’ll always be a part of you. But… “ She took a deep breath. “But you can remember him and still let go of the pain, eventually the grief and the need to…” She paused and shrugged “To stay true to him. You can live and be happy with someone else.”
“You never did.” Ian pointed out.
His mother nodded. “Yes. That’s true. But by the time I realized that it would be okay to love again, I was busy. I worked, raised you and practically raised Kane at the same time. Then I did raise Kane. It takes a lot to manage and provide for two boys. Especially you two, with the both of you being the same age.”
Ian winced. “Sorry.”
She chuckled. “I’m not. I wouldn’t trade you two for the world. I love you both and I’m happy to have you.” She fell silent for a moment. “I’m glad you don’t feel like brothers, though.”
Ian blinked. “Why?”
She studied his face. “You wouldn’t have him to give you what you need. You’ve never had a brother, so you wouldn’t understand that there are some things that just aren’t appealing with a sibling, much less acceptable. Suffice it to say that the things I’ve heard wouldn’t happen.”
He blushed again. “Ugh, Mom…” he groaned, closing his eyes.
She laughed. “I’ll stop mentioning it.” She stood up and turned to the stove, picking up the dish of eggs and dumping it into the pan to warm back up. “I just want you to think about it. If you need something, if you need Kane, don’t push him away. There’s nothing wrong in taking comfort with him.”
Ian resisted the urge to groan again. She might as well have told him, ‘go ahead, go fuck!’ but he knew that wasn’t quite what she was saying, either, that it wasn’t just about the physical. He let his mind turn it over while he went to set the table.