His Truth(71)

By: Riley Hart


Roman shook his head. “Not of Anthony.” Though maybe there was some fear there. Realistically, it was pretty impossible for it not to be there, but that wasn’t what he was talking about. “I’m not scared of him. I’m scared of…of me. Of what’s inside. What if my past fucked me up permanently? Jesus, I’ve lived twelve years in denial, twelve years living a lie. The only reason I was able to confront that lie is because of you.”

That was the part that was hard to admit, but Roman knew he had to. Tonight had been a wakeup call for him. “But I didn’t really confront it, did I? I covered it up, pretended it didn’t exist.”

Leo’s eyes closed, and Roman could plainly see the pain on his face. Could feel it in the way Leo’s hold on him tightened. “We both pretended it didn’t exist,” Leo told him.

Maybe they had, but Roman more so than Leo. All he’d focused on was that he wanted Leo. That he’d loved him and finally had him back.

Roman knew he couldn’t do that anymore.

“I almost wanted to run when your mom called,” he admitted. “A fucking phone call, and the lie I spun about being okay began to unravel. It brought me back, made…” Jesus, he hated this. “Made me feel like I was doing something wrong again. Like I was that kid I thought I left behind. The whole time I think I knew it was happening, but I lied to myself about it just as much as I lied to you. I had a nightmare and I pushed you, and was afraid while telling myself and you that everything was fine. I don’t know if everything is fine anymore, Leo.” Was it ever fine? Had it ever been, or had he just found a way to continue to lie to himself even after he got Leo back?

Leo leaned away slightly and looked at him. His brows pulled together, his hazel eyes full of concern. “Ro…you are the most important thing. Whatever you need, I’ll give you. If you need time, I understand.”

“No.” Roman shook his head. “I don’t need time away from you. I just… I can’t pretend… I don’t think I can do this on my own. I don’t think I have it all sorted out in my head. When we were kids, we tried to live in our own bubble. It worked for a while, and then it burst. When my dad was killed and Anthony was locked up, I tried to do it again. I tried to create this new Roman who forgot about the past, who pretended it didn’t exist, and I focused on my work bubble or my Amy bubble.” He’d always created those safe spaces for himself, he realized. Whether it was keeping to himself and focusing on nothing but school, or needing Amy and no one else, or losing himself in his job. “When I saw you at that bar, my bubble burst again, but I still didn’t fucking learn. I just created a new one with you, where I was okay and could be myself, but still tried to pretend the past didn’t matter. It matters, and I don’t think I have a future until I can deal with that.”

That admission was possibly Roman’s biggest truth of all.

He was still the same Roman he’d always been. He was raised by a hateful father and brother. He was gay and fell in love with a boy when he was sixteen. His own family had beaten him. Those things would never go away. They would always be a part of who he was. He had to face them, deal with them, or he would never truly move on.

“Then we deal with it,” Leo told him. “Whatever you need, Ro, I’ll do it. You need me to go with you and support you, I’ll be there. You need some space, I’ll give you that. You’ve been through more than most people; you’ve accomplished so fucking much. You’ll deal with this too. There’s nothing wrong with needing help. To admit it just makes you braver than you already are.”

Jesus, he loved this man.

Roman wasn’t going to pretend things would be easy. He honestly didn’t know how he felt knowing that Anthony was out, that he was there, but he wouldn’t let his family take anything else from him. Not again.

“Knock, knock.” A man’s voice came from the other side of the curtain before Dr. Paulsen came in.

“How are you feeling, Roman?” he asked.

“Okay.”

He shifted in the bed, as did Leo, but Leo didn’t make a move to get up, and Roman didn’t want him to. He needed Leo here with him.

“All your test results came back normal. The scan was clean, but I’m a little concerned because of your behavior when you were brought in. There was some obvious confusion reported by EMS, and we saw it here as well. For a little while, you were almost catatonic, so I’m going to request that you’re admitted, at least for a night. I’d like to have a mental-health evaluation done.”