|Thomas Julian Kemp (asterismos) wrote in nevermore_logs,|
@ 2013-02-18 03:48:00
|Entry tags:||thomas kemp, victor brannigan|
WHO: Victor Brannigan and Thomas Kemp
WHAT: Talking because I need them to become best friends
WHEN: Monday evening
WHERE: A pub near Thomas'
Thomas was unaware Victor's main aim in going out for a drink was to avoid thinking about his own issues and what had happened on Valentine's Day. Even if he had, it probably wouldn't have mattered. Thomas was far too frustrated to really concentrate on anyone else's problems and he was well pleased to have someone who wasn't family offer to listen while he ranted. He loved his family very much and he felt lucky to be so close with them, but sometimes he just needed someone outside of it all.
Victor was already at the pub when Thomas arrived, saving a table for them. "Sorry, to top everything off my damn car seems to be giving up the ghost. Which makes sense, I think it's older than I am." He swept his fingers through his hair and then groaned. "I think I meant hello, there."
Victor chuckled a little and he leaned back into his chair. "Hello, Thomas. Cars can be more trouble than they are worth sometimes."
"Tell me about it," Thomas grumped. "Right, I am going to order something artery-destroying like nachos with cheese-sauce and jalapeno poppers, and I will be right back. Would you like anything?" Victor held up his beer and indicated it was all he needed.
By the time Thomas returned to the table, he was carrying several different plates of appetizers, a sheepish look fixed on his face. "I couldn't decide. Don't judge me." The shiny and new feeling of being able to order anything he wanted while out still hadn't worn off and it had been years now. Thomas always tended to over-order and take half of his food home.
"I wouldn't dare," Victor said, taking a sip of his beer. "So what has you so upset, Thomas. I haven't known you long but you don't seem like the kind of person who lets much bother you."
And Thomas really wasn't. Considering the things he had been through, he let most things roll off his back, which was handy in his position of junior high teacher. He didn't mind when people looked at him strangely for his gangly appearance, and he shook off when parents criticised him for the shortcomings of their own children when it was certainly not his fault but theirs. He just tended to get on with things.
"I'm not, usually." Thomas signed and he popped a mozzarella stick into his mouth. "You need to help me eat all this by the way," he said, pushing the cheese fries near Victor before finally opening up. "I don't care when people talk about me behind my back at work, and I know they do. Not because of the work I do either, everyone seems pretty convinced I'm good at my job, which is pleasing."
"I am pretty certain you're an amazing teacher," Victor nodded. Thomas was dynamic and approachable, two very important traits for teachers to have.
"Thank you. I had no idea what gossip mills schools were for teachers. I thought it was just the students who bought into all that childish stuff, but junior high teachers...pfft." Thomas waved his hands around. "Every single time we hire someone new, or even when there's a substitute teacher I get described as the guy who had a kid at sixteen. Which is fine, because it's factual. There was a kerfuffle a few years ago where someone who joined the school seemed sure that meant I was going to somehow convince all my students to go out and get knocked up, which is ridiculous."
Victor's eyebrows raised upon hearing that. "I can't- What?"
"Pretty much." Thomas finally took a deep drink of his beer and then he sighed. "I had to finally take that person aside and explain that if anything, I wouldn't recommend trying to raise a child as a teenager to anyone because it's the hardest thing I have ever done, and that I haven't actually brought up my family while teaching anyway because it isn't relevant. Eventually he got over it and then left the school.
"I don't mind being known as Teenage Pregnancy Guy because it's childish nonsense anyway. I only get fed up when they bring Jamie into it."
"Oh dear," Victor said, gritting his teeth. He accepted some cheese fries possibly in an attempt not to speak so Thomas could continue with his story.
"One of my co-workers, and one I really enjoy, saw my son with Kat out shopping, and she assumed Kat was his girlfriend. When she told me, I corrected her and said they were friends and Jamie's gay. Of course I was overheard and now instead of Teenage Pregnancy Guy, I'm Gay Son Guy. And I don't even mind that because if people are being rude about it at least I know who to avoid at staff functions. But of course there's the lovely conservative staff members who assume Jamie is somehow flawed because I raised him in a single-parent household."
Thomas had to stop speaking and take several deep breaths. His grip on his glass was white-knuckled, which was more worked up than he usually got about anything. "I just...I want to scream that there is nothing wrong with my son at the top of my lungs."
The idea that people would assume Jamie was gay because of his upbringing upset Victor too. It made him think of Rose and all his protective instincts rose to the surface. "Fuck them," he hissed. "They have no idea."
"I don't understand the concept in this country that somehow a marriage between a man and a woman is the solution to everyone's problems. My parents were married, and happily so. Still are. I still acted like a complete asshole for two years, culminating in knocking someone up. It wasn't their fault, it was who I was. And thank god Jamie changed everything because I hate who I was back then.
"He's...a fucking miracle, as cliche as that sounds. Not only is there nothing wrong with him, but the fact that they are using my shortcomings against him, I just-goddammit. Today I found a pamphlet in my pigeonhole. It was for an institution where I could send Jamie to de-gay him, which is the most insulting thing- I nearly burst into tears in the staff room. Some fucking asshole thinking they're doing me a favour by slipping that in there-"
"Jesus Christ," Victor shook his head. "Thomas, they're just ignorant dickheads."
"I know, I just- I hate the fact that the whispers I hear in the staff room aren't about me any more, they're about him. People don't slip pamphlets to others without actively thinking about something and I don't want people thinking about him at all. They don't have the right."
"No they don't."
"And he's perfect the way he is, I would never ever want him to change. In fact I sort of want to go to this institution and lead a revolt, but that's probably illegal. Is it illegal?"
"Unfortunately it is," Victor groaned. "And believe me I say that grudgingly. Those places are detestable, but if those kids are under-age and their parents signed off on it, no one else has the power to take them out of there. They are always going to remember their parents didn't accept them for who they are, though. And when they become adults, they have the power to leave and never come back."
"Those poor kids," Thomas said, heart-broken. "I know I should ignore this because it's just idiots doing what they do best. I can deal with the random looks of sympathy because I can convince myself they are about something else, but this- I feel like I failed in protecting him."
"Thomas-" Victor leaned forward and he put his beer down. "I admit I don't know you that well, either of you. But Kat has told me a lot about you. When I met Jamie he was kind and intelligent and respectful. He was pretty funny too. I am pretty sure that has a lot to do with how you raised him so I say bullshit when you consider raising him alone somehow a shortcoming. And like you said, not all of it comes down to the parents. He's just a great person. You didn't fail in anything, at least not the way I see it. You talking to your friend about your son isn't a failure. Someone else overheard and gossiped about it, and the fault lies with the people who somehow think something entirely natural is somehow a character flaw. I think a few people at your work could to with having a pamphlet slipped to them on how not to be an asshole."
Thomas laughed at that, almost relieved to hear Victor say it. He was a new friend and he didn't necessarily have anything to gain by saying so. "Thank you, Victor. I spend a lot of time wishing the world were different for his sake. I mean, I have no problem with my co-workers knowing Jamie's gay at all. I forgot it was even an issue with some people when I was talking about it because it's so stupid. I just hate that this has been the response. I worry a lot about people being horrible to him because he's gay. It's a pity I have to."
"It really is," Victor nodded. "I worry the same for my sister-in-law and her girlfriend. It's pretty much the only time I get all alpha male and protective when I think someone might hurt them because of it."
"I think it would be amusing to see you all puffed up and growly," Thomas said with a chuckle.
"It is pretty funny, or so I hear. I don't think I pull it off well. Look, I'm really sorry people are being assholes."
Thomas shrugged and he attacked his plate of jalapeno poppers. "They'll stop eventually. I just don't know what to tell Jamie, if anything. I hate keeping things from him, but he really doesn't need to know this. It makes me feel all awkward and jumpy. But thank you for listening, I feel better for having ranted. And a little guilty for not asking how you are."
Victor avoided the question neatly by saying, "well I came to be a shoulder to lean on anyway, so no need to feel guilty! You know...when I was seventeen I ended up getting someone pregnant." Victor hadn't even discussed that with Kat yet, though it was only because it hadn't come up. It wasn't because he was hiding it for any reason.
"I didn't know that," Thomas said, sipping at his beer.
"My father died when I was young and when my mother passed I was fifteen. I had to go stay with a foster family until I was old enough to be on my own. There was a girl who was a month older than me and we hit it off right away. I mean...we became best friends and over two years it developed into this secret teenage love affair. I was convinced she was the love of my life and she felt the same way, but neither of us told her parents. And then she ended up pregnant and they tossed me out, and I really don't blame them. I went back about a month later just to say that I would be there for the baby but her father threatened me with a gun and told me they'd taken care of it." He shrugged. "I spent about a year grieving for both of them."
"Jesus," Thomas whispered.
"Sometimes I think I could have had this great kid and it makes me sad that it didn't happen, but to be honest I wasn't ready at all. Not that I think you were."
"Nope," Thomas shook his head. "Sometimes I still think I'm not ready," he said with a laugh. "But I wouldn't change it."
Victor nodded and finished his beer. The conversation about losing Sarah and his unborn baby could happen another day. For now he had revealed enough of his depressing life. "From what I've seen, Thomas, he wouldn't change it either."
That made Thomas beam before he started in on his nachos.