At The Edge Of Hopelessness

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Welcome Home, Emmett.

Warning!! Homophobic slurs ahead.

“Woah, who knew two of Emmett’s old coots were fags,” One of the guys that stood by the door chuckled lowly and spoke amusingly – watching Milo on the floor while Reuben was standing over him with his hands curled into a tight fist, his body was shaking from rage. He wasn’t sure whom he was angrier at? Milo? Donna’s stupid friends? Or himself? He felt terrible standing there – caught making out with one of his best friends.

A red mark started to form on Milo’s cheek from the punch he received from Reuben – soon it will be turned into a dark nasty bruise. Milo stayed on the floor, the disgusting wet carpet against his back. He had his teeth gritted, but he didn’t utter a single word, nor did he hit Reuben back. Milo had it enough. For years he has been hiding his sexuality from everyone he knows. For years he has been scared of being called a ‘fag’, but now that he laid on the floor after receiving a hard blow on his face from the man he loved – he started to question everything right there and then. What good did hiding his true identity bring to him? He was being called a ‘faggot’ even after pretending to be straight.

“Wes! Stop it! Don’t be a homophobe. There is nothing wrong with being gay.” Milo’s eyes flickered to the tall and skinny boy with blonde hair. The boy, who was also one of Donna’s friends, looked at Milo and Reuben and held his hands out, “I apologize, he is drunk and doesn’t know what he is talking about. Um, we will just go.” He mumbled and grabbed Wes by his arm and pulled him along – prepared to leave with other of his friends.

“You better not babble about it to others,” Reuben clenched his fists and threatened the tall boy, who turned his head and only nodded before glancing at Milo. Wes didn’t like Reuben’s tone and was about to walk towards Reuben probably to harm him, while Reuben had his nostrils flared at the boy – he would have retaliated if it wasn’t for the tall boy, who stopped Wes from saying or doing anything that could cause more trouble.

“We will not,” He nodded his head with his hand tightly holding Wes back. He tugged his friend while Wes was glaring at Reuben.

“You will not what?” Reuben averted his eyes over the tall boy’s shoulder to see a very familiar and highly irritating tipsy figure walked into his view. Reuben groaned and Milo rolled his voice as he brought himself back on his feet – ignoring the eyes of newly arrived Gia, Wes, and the other nameless friends of Donna.

“Nothing,” The tall boy mumbled as with a glance at Milo and Reuben, he held Wes by his arm and began to drag his friend away before he creates any drama, but Wes was in no mood of letting go. He freed his arm from the boy’s grip and pushed him by his chest.

Wes drunkenly huffed, “What the fuck is wrong with you, Levi?!” he yelled at his friend, who clenched his jaw and glared at Wes. “Why are you diffusing this? Are you a faggot too? Does Elle know about it?” Wes drunkenly chuckled before he wrinkled his nose in disgust, “Ew! Man, do you stare at our dicks and butts in the locker room? Are you one of those sneaky fag predators?” He added, to which Levi easily pushed the drunk boy on the floor with only his one hand.

Levi bends down to Wes’s level and flared his nostrils. He grabbed Wes by the collar of his shirt, “I am not, but if I were – your microscopic dick and dippy ass would have been safe,” he snarled before he pushed him back on the floor.

Levi rolled his eyes on Gia, who admonishes him for pushing a very drunk Wes to the floor. He huffed and walked away from the people he calls his friends. Gia saw Levi walk away while she helped Wes back on his feet. Wes cursed under his breath, “That asshole pushed me.” He muttered before he pushed Gia away before walking away from her to fight with Levi.

Levi Garfield is not gay, but his elder brother is. He has seen the troubles and abuses his brother had to go through only because of his sexuality. He has seen his brother attempt suicide because of the bullying he would receive at school. He never understands people’s obsession with other’s life matters. He doesn’t get why his friends were such homophobes. It is not like Emmett’s friends are asking them to do something with them, they were having a personal moment – why did Wes had to ruin it by blabbing his homophobic views? Levi knew from the beginning that having Emmett’s friends along with Donna’s airhead friends would be a bad idea. Emmett and his friends are college students and are much more mature than Donna and her friends – also, they are not rich snobs like him and his friends. Having them under the same roof as his dufus friends was a very bad idea.

All the other friends and acquaintances of Donna walked away from outside the room in which Milo and Reuben were present except for Gia, who had a smirk on her face while she had her eyes travel from Milo, who had his jaws clenched, to Reuben, who was glaring back at Gia. Reuben knew that she would not let this go. She will do everything in her power to circulate the news of Milo and Reuben’s makeout session among her friends. He knows that before she does that, he will have to do something to stop her. He couldn’t afford for people to know about his fling with his best friend – he was not gay. He couldn’t let people think that he was.

In the present, Emmett and Austin both sat in Sandra’s living room. Austin had a bag of frozen peas to his right cheek, while Emmett held a bag of frozen broccoli to his right cheek. Leah sat on the couch, tentatively listening to what was happening in the room, but unfortunately, all she could hear was breathing, sighs, ceiling fan, and her mother’s iconic foot tapping – which means her mother was angry – which only means that Austin and Emmett will be getting an earful. Where Patrick was smashing his lips, trying to suppress the chuckle as he witnesses how two grown men were sulking and avoiding eye contact with Austin’s mother, Sandra, who stood in front of them all – her arms folded on her chest, her eyebrows drawn while she tapped her left foot – waiting for one of them to speak and tell her what exactly happened.

When either of the young men refused to speak, Sandra averted her eyes on Leah. “Leah, do you mind telling me what exactly happened?” She asked her daughter.

Leah turned her head towards her mother at her voice, “I swear I didn’t see anything,” She replied. Her voice held playfulness in it.

Her reply gained a chuckle from Austin and Patrick, while Emmett kept his head down – refusing to react to the joke. Sandra rolled her eyes at her daughter, who now had a grin on her face. She couldn’t fight the smile on her face – her daughter was finally cracking a joke about what was keeping her up all night. A couple of years ago, Sandra didn’t think it would ever happen.

Sandra sighed and sat on the one-seater couch as well, “You two are grown-ups. You met each other after five long years – the least you both could have done was not engage in a fight,” Sandra rubbed her temple. “Seriously! Arguments, I understand – but punches?! That too in the middle of the sidewalk!” Sandra exclaimed as she waved her hands at their absurdity.

Leah softly chuckled at the silence following her mother’s voice. She sighed, “Leave it, mom. It is Austin’s birthday – you can scold him tomorrow, let him be today.” Leah spoke. She knows Austin would never communicate when the other person is scolding him – that is something he always does.

Austin is not a man of many words. He doesn’t like to get in fights or arguments unless they are extremely necessary. Where Sandra believes that getting in a fight with Emmett was ridiculous, Leah believes that they both needed this. There is so much unsaid between the two best friends that it must be hard to communicate, so if a fight in the middle of the sidewalk might have released some tension between the two then so be it – maybe that is what they need to start talking again. Maybe they both had to take out some aggression before they both sit down and talk.

Sandra looked at Patrick, who shrugged at her – causing her to heaved a sigh and nodded her head, “Fine,” She clapped her hands on her thighs before she asked, “Did you people at least get to eat something?” She asked.

Leah was quick to shake her head, “No, I am hungry.” She playfully pouted.

“Yeah, me too,” Patrick added.

The rest of Austin’s friends had gone back to their businesses while Patrick drove Austin and Leah back home since Austin’s car is at the mechanic – getting repaired. Patrick was the one who drove Austin and Leah to the eatery as well. Patrick is one of the closest friends of Leah. She is the reason why Austin knows about him as well. He works at the same organization as Austin but he is his junior. Patrick met Leah when she came to see Austin to his office and he accidentally spilled hot coffee over Leah’s blouse – burning a bit of her skin. He didn’t know she was blind, but when he did – he couldn’t stop apologizing. He felt awful for not looking where he was going – where Leah couldn’t. Their first meeting wasn’t very pleasant but after that Patrick took her out for coffee and since then they are friends.

Patrick lightly punched his fist to Leah’s arm, “Hey, let’s order pizza?” He asked her softly.

Leah’s eyes widened as a grin stretch on her face, “Yes, please.” She replied.

Austin looked at his sister and smiled, “Order whatever you want, it will be on me.” He told Leah.

“Of course, you will. You are the reason why we are still hungry.” She replied to which Austin rolled his eyes, but the smile never left his lips. He could never say no to his sister. Their relationship only strengthened five years ago, before that he used to get careless with her, but after she lost her sight – he has been nothing but supportive.

Where Patrick chuckled at Leah’s response, Sandra smiled and Austin placed the bag of frozen peas on his lap before taking his wallet out to give Leah the money, Emmett wordlessly stared at them. He felt so out of place. He felt like he didn’t belong here. When he would bicker with Austin, there was a time ruffled Leah’s hair and bellyache to Sandra about Austin, but now he felt like a stranger. He felt a lump in his throat, he was the reason why he was feeling in such a way – it was no one’s fault but his. He missed the old times. He missed playing video games with his friends. He missed spending days and nights with his best friends – now, it all feels so foreign.

Sandra witnessed Emmett’s melancholy. She glanced at Austin, who was giving Leah money before she looked back at Emmett, “Emmett, will pizza be okay with you?” She asked softly. Sandra’s question gained all the attention. Austin and Patrick averted their gazes at them while Leah attentively listened.

Emmett quickly looked at Sandra and forced a smile, “Oh no, I will be leaving.” He politely answered.

“Don’t be like that, Emmett. You are meeting everyone after five years. You can’t leave so soon.” Sandra said, where she expected her son to stop Emmett, but maybe she was wrong when she thought Austin will forgive Emmett soon. Maybe he will take his time, she only wishes that he soon realizes how much he needs his best friend back.

Emmett placed the bag of frozen broccoli on the central table and lightly shook his head. “Thank you, but I have to be somewhere,” Emmett gently excused and got on his feet.

Austin rolled his eyes, “No, you don’t. You don’t like your relatives – so I hardly doubt you are going to visit them. I am the only true friend of yours from this town. Your ex-fiancee is in New York and your mother must be at work right now, so don’t lie. Unless you have a plan to sulk alone, you have nowhere to go. You are running away as you did before, you wuss.” Austin rebuked. Emmett couldn’t ignore the fact that Austin called him his friend.

Sandra glared at her son, “Austin!” She scolded him, but Emmett stopped her.

He looked at Sandra, “No, he is right. I was running away because I no longer feel like I belong here.” He said and turned back to look at Austin glaring at him. “You don’t want me here then so be it. I will leave.” Emmett waved his hand towards the exit.

Austin rolled his eyes, “You are such a drama queen, God! Now I know why Donna left you – not saying she was any better.” Austin replied dully.

Emmett twisted his mouth, “I was the one that broke up with her,” He replied grimly.

Austin scoffed, “Yeah, well – you can tell me your sob story over pizza.” He pointed out. Austin looked at Patrick, “Can you order one large pepperoni pizza? Ask them to put pineapple on one half of it,” Austin said with a fake gag – causing a smile to break a smile on Emmett’s face, “This freak likes pineapple as his pizza topping,” he said while wrinkling his nose in disgust. “Ask them to not let the pineapple chuck touch the other half of the good pizza, or I will not accept it.” He pointed out as he hands him an extra twenty-dollar bill.

Patrick accepted the money with a smile on his face. Austin rolled his eyes again before announcing that he is going to the washroom. “Only God knows why I decided to be friends with his freak,” he mumbled under his breath as he walked past chuckling Emmett, whose eyes were now glossy.

Leah heard Austin and was now grinning with tears in her eyes. For years she had sensed her brother’s loneliness, maybe Emmett’s presence will change that now. She sniffled as she heard the descending footsteps.

Leah smashed her lips together, “Welcome back, Emmett.” She spoke for the first time to him.

Emmett was quick to avert his gaze at Leah, who had a beautiful smile on her face while her eyes glinted. Emmett chuckled and mumbled a soft thank you to her. He finally truly felt at home.

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