#58 Not done fighting
“Talk to me,” I order Andre when we’re back in his apartment, and he’s pacing like a caged tiger. I’m starting to get annoyed with him, to be honest. One of the things I love most about him is how well he communicates.
Today? No fucking communication whatsoever. And then there was the lie he told a week ago, instead of admitting to me that he was insecure about his body. I didn’t think I’d have these issues with Andre. With Kian? Sure. That was par for the course. Andre is better than that, though. At least I thought he was.
When he doesn’t speak up, I let out an annoyed grunt before making my way to the kitchen to grab a beer. When I open the fridge, I freeze for a second. It’s stuffed with all sorts of things I love. My favorite brand of beer, lots of stuff with lactose in it that Andre can’t even eat, a bottle of orange juice, that fancy cheese I like… When he went to the store earlier today, he must have stocked up. For us.
Just like that, I’m no longer angry. That’s the Andre I know and love. I need to cut him some slack. He knows me, he loves me, he takes care of me. I threw him into a very complicated situation right off the bat, and he must have felt pressured to come to dinner today, even though it was clear he wasn’t ready for it. He deserves understanding and kindness, just like he’s shown me from the day we met.
“Andre,” I say as I shut the fridge, a beer in my hand. “Sit down, please. Let’s talk.”
He does as he’s told, plucking at the sleeve of his shirt.
“Just so we’re clear, I’m not mad or disappointed or anything like that.” I feel like I need to make that clear, since I’ve been acting pretty pissed ever since we left the girls’ place. “I never should have pushed you to go with me tonight. I’m sorry.”
He looks up with surprise written all over his face. “You’re sorry? You didn’t pressure me! I’m the one who’s sorry. I stormed out of there like… like… like an idiot!”
“You just got overwhelmed. The question is…”
“Why?” he finishes for me, but he doesn’t answer the question.
“Yeah, why?” I scoot a little closer, putting down the beer I haven’t had a sip of yet. “I thought you wanted kids? I thought you wanted one of your own?”
He shakes his head. “I never said I wanted a biological kid. I always thought that I’d either adopt, or it would be my partner to donate the sperm.”
Oh wow. I did not know that. “But… why?”
He gestures at himself like that explains everything. “Not the best genes in the world.”
“What?!” I raise my voice without even meaning to. “Is this about you feeling insecure again? Andre, you’re beautiful! You’re amazing. A kid would be so lucky having you as a father.”
“I think I’ll make a good father,” he agrees with a small, careful smile. “Just not a biological one. It’s not about my looks. My thyroid problems are hereditary. My dad has the same issue. Same with my grandfather. Plus, the IBS… There is still so much research being done on that, but there is some indication that it might be genetic as well, at least partially. My dad is lactose intolerant, and my mom has a bunch of allergies. Why would I want to put my kid through all the stuff I’ve been through?”
“Andre…” I scoot a little closer so I can take his hand in mine.
“It’s okay, I don’t need pity.” He squeezes my hand. “I love my life. IBS and my slow thyroid are both issues I can live with. But would I wish it on anyone else? No, definitely not. I wouldn’t even wish it on my worst enemy.”
“Really?” I try to lighten the mood a little, nudging him. “You wouldn’t give Eric the worst case of IBS in the world if you could?”
“Fine, okay, I would definitely love that.” He seems less tense now. “That asshole deserves it. But other than Eric, I wouldn’t want anyone to know what it’s like. Why would I do that to my child when you have perfectly healthy sperm and great genes?”
Me. This isn’t just hypothetical. It’s actually about him and me.
“It’s not about Imani and Deidra,” he goes on. “I think they’ll make incredible mothers, and I understand why you want to do this with them. I just don’t see how I can be a part of it. I don’t want to have biological children, and you going down this road means the baby will never be mine legally. I still don’t know how any of this is going to work.”
“I think…” I wish I had all the answers, but I don’t. “I have no idea. All I know is that I want nothing more than to be a father, and for you to be by my side.”
“I want that too, and I’m trying, but sometimes… It’s not easy, Dylan.” He looks like he’s not sure he should go on. “How do you think it feels to know that I will lose you if I don’t get on board within the next few months?”
“You won’t lose me!” I protest. “I love you!”
“Your first priority is the baby, and it’s not even here yet,” he counters. “I love you too, and I know you want this to work, but we both know what is inevitably going to happen if I decide this is all too much too soon for me. Doesn’t matter how much we love each other. We’ll have to go our separate ways.”
For some reason, him saying it like that hits me harder than I thought it would. Yes, in theory I already knew this. I made the decision to go forward with having a baby despite Andre having a hard time with it. I even told Imani and Deidra that I’d still move forward if Andre would leave me over this. Hearing him say it makes it real, somehow. I always assumed he’d get on board eventually, I think. What if he doesn’t? He’s right, we’ll have no choice but to break up. I’ll be alone again. Worse even – I’ll be without Andre.
“We can do this,” I insist. “We still have time.”
“Yeah, we have time,” he breathes, running a hand over his short hair. “I just need you to realize that I’m trying because I love you, not because this scenario is something I envisioned for myself.”
Fuck. That’s a lot of pressure on both of us. Just like that, I feel like the most selfish person in the world. If we’d been together for longer than a few weeks, things might be different. We would be stable, living together, we’d have already had the tough talks about what we want our future to look like. We’re doing all of this in the wrong order, and it’s all because of me. I’m making life so fucking difficult for him.
“I’m sorry.” I grab the beer bottle from the table, gulping down most of its contents.
“It’s okay. Like you said, we have time to figure this out. Let’s not make any rash decisions.” He moves a little closer, pressing a kiss to the back of my hand.
We stay on the couch for another moment, neither of us speaking. There’s nothing left to say, is there? No matter how badly I want to tell him I can postpone this whole thing with the girls, I can’t. They want this so badly, and I do too. After putting my life on hold for Kian, I never want to make that mistake again. I need to live, and becoming a father feels like a natural next step in my life.
I just wish it didn’t mean risking everything. Losing Andre.
“Let’s go to bed.” Andre gets up, pulling me with him. “I’m exhausted.”
I follow him almost mechanically, taking off my clothes and brushing my teeth in a daze. He takes a moment to change into his pajamas, and then he joins me in bed. He still prefers not to be completely naked in front of me, at least not with the lights on. I thought I’d have time to make him feel loved and appreciated – all the time in the world. Maybe I don’t. Maybe I’ll never get to experience what it can be like once we’ve been together long enough for him to be completely comfortable in his own skin, at least when we’re alone together.
“Hey,” he whispers when he hears me sniffling. “Are you crying?”
“No,” I mumble through my tears. “Okay, maybe a little.”
“Come here.” He pulls me into his arms, wrapping himself around me completely.
“I wish I wasn’t hurting you,” I murmur. “I’m so sorry.”
“You also make me incredibly happy,” he whispers into the darkness. “I’m not giving up on us that easily, Dylan. I can’t make any promises, but I’m not done fighting, and I don’t think you are either.”
“Not even close.”
We cuddle and kiss for a whole, but eventually our eyelids become too heavy to stay awake. I fall asleep in his arms, feeling safer than ever before. Sadder, too. Losing my chance with Mila, finding out Kian was cheating on me… None of that compares to the thought of no longer falling asleep next to Andre.
Why can my life never just be simple?