“The truth sounds insane sometimes, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the truth.” – Linguini (Ratatouille)
Brian got out of the hospital the next day and we went to pick him up. He was in a wheelchair so it would be a bit easier to get around campus. He didn’t seem too upset and insurance would fix the car, which was really lucky.
“How you doing, Sheriff?”
“I feel okay, besides my leg. Can’t wait to get back to the dorm and sleep for a bit.” Brian said. I opened my mouth but Kevin glared at me and I thought better of it. I knew if I was gonna tell Brian, it had to be when we were back at school when nobody was around to stop me.
We drove back to college Sunday afternoon after Brian got out of the hospital, he was in a pretty good mood.
“Brian….I went and got our stuff out of the car. I saved this for you.” I said, handing him the bobblehead I’d gotten him for Christmas. He smiled and put it on his night stand, and I helped him into bed.
“Thanks, Nick. You know we are very lucky to be here right now….I’m glad we are okay.” he told me.
“I meant what I said, I think of you like a brother.”
That lump in my throat appeared and I wanted to tell him so badly….but something kept me from it. Brian’s cell going off jarred me from my thoughts.
“Hey, can you pick that up for me?” Brian asked. I handed him the phone, kicking myself for chickening out again.
“Hi, ma. Yeah….we just got in. I’m doing fine.”
I laid back onto my bed, listening to the conversation and feeling sick to my stomach that his mother was lying to him. Flat out lying….they all were and he didn’t even know. I wish I’d never found out.
“Yeah, Nick is okay too. The car’s a little jacked up though.”
I almost coughed. Jacked up? We were hanging upside fucking down!
He got off the phone with his mother and eyed me, I hate when he does that.
“Is something bothering you?” he asked me, raising an eyebrow.
“Nope.” I lied.
“Okay, fine. Shut me out like you always do…..I tell you you’re like a brother and you shut me out. What kind of friendship is that? How can I trust you?” he snapped. I sat there in silence, there wasn’t anything I could say.
“Nick, I’ve been taking your little hissy fits and outbursts but now it’s time someone told YOU. You can’t keep shutting people out and pretend everything is fine when it’s NOT! I’m your friend…”
“Brian, come on. This isn’t like you.” I blurted out.
“No, YOU come on. I’ve had enough. You and I just went through a goddamn car accident and you still won’t tell me what’s been eating you for the past few weeks. Ever since we got back from Kentucky you’ve been weird.” he insisted. I was near my boiling point, everything was threatening to spill over.
“Brian, I can’t do this right now.” I sighed.
“We need to talk about this. I’ve never had a problem with you before. What was my step dad harassing you about? Can I fix it? I just want to help you.”
“I don’t need help.” I hissed, getting annoyed.
“You’re a asshole, you know that?” he shouted.
“I’m an asshole??? I’m an….I’m an asshole? You can’t be fucking serious right now….if you knew what I’ve been holding in for the last few weeks-” I shot back at him. He shifted on the bed, and I just let him sit there. He was supposed to keep the leg elevated but I ignored it.
“Why can’t you tell me?”
“I don’t think you can handle it.” I said. He looked at me like a puzzled cat, and I turned on the TV. An episode of Frasier was on but I wasn’t really interested.
“I can if you just talk to me.” he said.
I looked at him but I just couldn’t get myself to tell him. As much as I wanted to, as bad as it was that I held it in, I couldn’t.
“Forget it.” he said, turning away and looking annoyed. He tried to get comfortable and fall asleep, the two of us in silence the rest of the day.
Things got really awkward between us after that. He pretty much stayed to himself and while I was left to my thoughts….it really bothered me. He was right. Classes were wearing both of us out again by the time February started, and we fell back into the studying routine. I wish I could say we partied like normal college kids but we weren’t really into that kind of crowd like the Pikas were. I saw AJ around campus occasionally. He had invited me to a few parties but I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with Howie or the others anymore.
“Dude, come on. You and Brian can’t sit in your dorm every weekend. Just ask him to come.” AJ said, nudging me. I nodded and went back to the room to find Brian laying in bed.
“Hey, how you feeling?” I asked.
“I’m ok today. Just tired.”
“AJ invited us to a party again. I think we should take him up on that. We’ve been sitting here angry at each other over the stupid accident.” I suggested with a chuckle. He didn’t seem amused, he picked up his Woody bobblehead and flicked it so it bounced up and down.
“I’m sorry I blew up at you. I just feel like I can’t trust you because you’re so private.” he said finally, sighing.
“When you said you’re like a brother to me it really meant a lot. I should have told you that.”
“I did mean it.”
“What if I told you we were really related?” I asked. He really stared at me, almost disbelieving.
“I’d say you’ve been smoking or something, haven’t you? How could that be possible?” he laughed. I didn’t laugh and he looked at me again as if I had grown a second head.
How cool would that be, if I just sprouted a another head out of nowhere?
“My dad and your mom dated and he had an affair with her.” I said. His mouth dropped, I mean if this were a cartoon it would have made that clang noise and everything.
“Nope. You’re my half brother.”
“That’s bullshit. Why didn’t anyone tell me all this time? When did you find out?” he asked, sounding kinda pissed.
“New Year’s eve. Kevin got drunk and told me after you passed out. I was just as shocked as you were.”
Brian just looked at me again, and after that I knew things were really going to be different between us….it was hard to wrap his head around it but I would help him through it.
We would help each other.