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I Wish I Didn’t Understand But I Do

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hurt and grieve but don't suffer alone // engage with the pain as a motive // today of all days // see // how the most dangerous thing is to love // how you will heal and you'll rise above

-achilles come down by gang of youths

Many know that Dex started baking with Bitty. He started rolling out pie crusts and placing dollops of dough onto cookie sheets. He started moving around the kitchen, almost dancing around Bitty with ease, and although there were stumbles and missteps, it worked for them.

But what they don’t know is how Dex actually started baking with Bitty. They don’t know what changed one day, and Bitty will never tell, and neither will Dex.

Dex is crying. He’s sitting at the table in the eerily empty Haus kitchen crying, big, ugly, tears. He’s sure he’s full on bawling at this point. He might be having a panic attack. He doesn’t know at this point. All he knows is that he’s hurt and he wants to cry, so he does.

“Oh honey, what’s wrong?” he hears Bitty say from the door. Is Bitty back already? How long has he been sitting here? He doesn’t know.

He tries to answer, but when he looks up, the tears keep falling and he can’t find the words to explain why he broke down.

Because how can he explain? How can he explain that he started bawling because his mom asked him if he had a girlfriend and he couldn’t find the words to tell her that he hasn’t wanted and never will want a girlfriend. How can he explain the tears are from his parents asking a seemingly innocent question about his life? How does he tell Bitty that he’s upset that he can’t come out to his family because he doesn’t want to disappoint them; doesn’t want to add to the list of things his parents have to worry about.

He can’t get the words out so he just chokes on his breath and continues to cry at the table, phone a few inches away.

And Bitty, bless him, just walks over and wraps him into a hug, hands pressing into his left arm, head dropped on Dex’s right shoulder. It’s quiet, except for Dex’s sobs and Bitty’s soft breathing.

They stay like that for a while, until Dex’s sobs turn into hiccups and his breath is coming a little easier. The Haus is still quiet, as if its holding it’s breath, waiting for Dex to calm down.

After a few moments, Bitty speaks again, tentative and soft, almost like he’s afraid of provoking another round of tears.

“Do you want to talk about it now, honey?”

Dex nods, and Bitty climbs off of the chair that’s two small to fit two D-1 hockey players. He comes back with a cookie from the jar Bitty has for what he calls “emotional emergencies,” a cup of water, and a couple of tissues.

“I’m ready whenever you want to start,” he says, moving his hand closer to Dex’s, not touching, but close enough for Dex to feel the warmth that always seems to radiate from Bitty.

“Bitty…..” Dex starts, exhaling a shaky breath. “I’m- I’m gay.” The last part is almost a whisper.

“Thank you for trusting me in this moment,” Bitty rattles off as he takes Dex’s hand, Shitty’s response engrained deep in his subconscious. “Seriously Dex, I know you have a bit of trouble opening up, and I’m glad you trust me enough to share. I’m so so proud of you.”

“And my family called then my mom asked if I had a girlfriend, and I just realized that I couldn’t tell them —couldn’t be honest about m-me—and it hurt. And I guess I just cracked, ya know? I couldn’t breathe and it just exploded,” Dex continues, the words flying out of his mouth like he can’t stop them. Bitty doesn’t interrupt.

“And I hate that I can’t tell them. I can’t add to their stress. They work so hard to protect me, protect my siblings, and even though they probably won’t kick me out, they wouldn’t accept me. They would try, because they always fucking try. They try so hard and it wasn’t enough to live a comfortable life like they wanted, and this would break them. It would get back to my neighbors and they would deal with everyone talking about them, about me, about how their son was such a disappointment. I-” he breaks off, the tears welling up again. “I couldn’t do that to them, Bitty. I couldn’t ruin things like that.”

And the Haus is quiet again, save for their breathing.

“Their lives are not your weight to carry Dex. And I’m sorry you’ve had to worry about that for Lord knows how long. I’m sorry,” Bitty replies, squeezing Dex’s hand. His eyes are gentle, and it’s almost as good as a hug. Almost.

“Can I? Can I get a hug?” Dex whispers quietly, gaze down at his hands.

“Oh honey! Of course!” And then before Dex can blink, Bitty’s pulling him out of his chair and wrapping him in a tight hug. It’s grounding and warm and feels like home. He feels safe wrapped in Bitty’s arms. Nothing can hurt him right now.

“You don’t have to shoulder all of that alone Dex. I’ve got your back,” Bitty whispers into the hug. It feels like a promise. It feels like he understands. It feels like they have each other to lean on. Dex lets out a breath.

“And I’ve got yours Bitty,” he whispers back, squeezing Bitty a little tighter.

“You know what makes things better?” Bitty asks, smiling gently, pulling away but only going a single step backwards.

“What?” Dex asks, wiping at his eyes again, a small smile on his face. Bitty has that effect on people.

“A pie.”

And that’s how the tradition starts: with coming out at the kitchen table, a promise, and tentative smiles.