Eric looked at Ian and then Oliver. He was here. Eric came to the hospital as soon as Ian called. He was only here because his little brother called him.
Eric was certain Oliver only needed Ian not him, but somehow he knew it was different this time. Something was off.
"I wanted to talk to the both of you," Ian said as if he were telling them goodbye. As if a far off ship waited for him to go to a far off land.
"OK." Eric found a little hideaway in the waiting room as if they could have some quiet. "What's really going on?" Eric had a feeling it really wasn't about Kayla and the baby. Maybe it was. He looked at the both of them thinking he might be the odd man out. They were brothers. He was just their half brother. Although, he always thought Ian was more like himself. He'd always felt protective of Ian.
"I've messed up." Ian started. He talked about things Eric never heard him talk about, when he was younger. How things were with his real Mom. Her boyfriends. How he'd tried to change. Ian was making himself sick with tears. "I'm sorry. I'm just so sorry." He choked on his words. That's when he talked about Kayla. And intercourse. The two of them in Ian's car.
Eric could see that look in Oliver's eyes as he digested it bit by bit.
"You can't be mad at her right now. Please?" Ian squinted hard. "If..if she means anything. ..if that baby means anything to you...you have to..let it go. Just don't be mad her. Be mad at me."
Eric squeezed Ian's shoulder. Still Oliver said nothing. His face filled with anguish as if something might have died. Eric was afraid to say anything to him.
"Why don't you, come home with me?" Eric offered Ian. Immediately, he knew he was taking sides, but he didn't want Oliver having a chance to hurt him, either. Ian only nodded and went to check on Josie, as if that was where he was truly meant to be.
"What are you going to do?" Eric eyed Oliver then who had had nothing to say as he sat there with the brunt of his palms rubbing his tears.
He shook his head. "A part of me just wants to leave. Like, I don't belong here." His face dripped with tears as he winced hard. Eric slowly put his arm around Oliver's shoulder for a bit of comfort. He guessed. "But its me family, you know. Its me family with Kayla." He gritted hard then as he looked at Eric. "I don't want my child to ever think of herself... as anything less. God knows..I do..know how that feels." He blinked more tears. "Thinking..you are the one that no one wants to bring up, or mention..that you are..just wrong..all wrong. I don't want that..I don't." He coughed up more tears.
"I'm sorry, I never got to know..you..when..when we were kids." Eric told him. "Its just, I always imagined..it was better for you, with Dad around. Especially, when he really wasn't there for me."
Oliver shook his head, no. He'd never truly felt he ever had a dad. The man Eric mentioned was just Ian's Dad. He thought of how his mother fussed with the old professor, over the phone, she kept insisting was his father. Not once did Oliver meet him, and over the years he never really wanted to.
Oliver did not want to look back on that life. He need to remember this was a fresh start. No way could he make Ian feel guilty. He only wished he could have protected Ian more.
The hardest part would be having to face Kayla. Yet, this was one secret he couldn't bear to repeat. It was best to let it go, let if float away..like smoke. Not bury it.
"We'll be fine." His voice cracked. He couldn't think of a paternity test. He wanted Kayla well. He needed to be stronger. Hadn't he prevailed somehow, over the years? Perhaps, he was the fool he could never really escape. Cheating girlfriends, low-paying jobs. Probably, his own damn fault. Yet, he felt so frail at the moment. Although, obviously not much had changed. Now had it?
"We're here for you. We are." Eric promised. "It'll work out. Somehow." Eric hugged him as if he would be there, no matter what.