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Always Loved

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When Alex came out to his friends he thought at best they would awkwardly accept him, but would ultimately start to keep their distance suddenly uncomfortable if he got too close; and at worst they would kick him out of the band and never speak to him again. He had cried the night before and the morning of his big announcement he was shaking so badly that he kept dropping his drum sticks during practice and it didn't take long for the boys to figure out something had to be up. Honestly he wanted to chicken out, every bad outcome playing on loop in his head and while Luke is asking him what’s wrong Alex is already jumping to his feet and throwing up in the nearby trash can.

It freaks everyone out and they rush to comfort him. Bobby brings him an ice pack to cool down a fever that Luke keeps checking for and Reggie is listing every type of soup that might be good to feed him. Even now he’s shaking and scared to the point that the lump in his throat wouldn’t go down and make it harder to talk. A part of him likes the attention, loves the amount of care they give him and how much they go out of their way to make sure he’s okay. It’s easy to say that Alex enjoys being doted on by his friends and remembering why he was so nervous fills him with another wave of dread that makes his entire body want to shut down, but he refuses to give up. He can do this. They’re his friends who very clearly love him.

Alex comes out as they all surround him, worried faces staring down and they look so soft and who couldn’t trust people as loving as them with something so important? 

“Lex, come on, talk to us,” Luke says smoothly and rubs Alex’s arm and it’s more than comforting, the drummer has to stop himself from leaning onto the singer. “What’s wrong? Are you sick?”

Reggie is on the other side of him and hugging onto his arm like a nervous kid and it’s the cutest thing that it almost hurts. Meanwhile Bobby is bent down in front of him and looking up with big distressed eyes but trying to play it off like the cool guy he believed he was, despite trying to seem less caring Bobby was still holding one of Alex’s hands, fingers intertwined. 

Alex shakes his head and tries to swallow before speaking, his throat dry and he’s doing everything in his power to not freak himself out again and throw up more. “I don’t think so,” he says meekly. “I mean, maybe I am.” He bites his lip feeling the need to cry.

“Could just be a stomach bug,” Bobby offers.

“Or a 24 hour cold,” Reggie adds, holding onto Alex a little tighter. 

He didn’t want to lose this, didn’t want to lose them. They cared about him so much and he was so in love with all of them. But he would hate himself for the rest of his life if he kept such an important and real part of himself hidden forever, locked away from the people who he trusted the most.

“It’ll be okay, buddy. We’ll look after you. You’ll be okay and back to drumming in no time,” Luke says gently, a hand on Alex’s thigh and God Alex was going to miss them being this comfortable with him but he had to do it. Now or never, there’s no turning back.

Come on, Mercer. It’s like a band-aid. Time to rip it off and pray for the best.

“Yeah, dude! We’ll hold off on practice and make sure you get better,” Reggie beams, more than willing to help out his friend. 

“I’m sick,” Alex sighs, voice hitching in the back of his throat and breath coming out shaky and uneven. 

“Hey now, it’s okay. Being sick isn’t the end of the world,” Bobby gives Alex’s hand a reassuring squeeze and looks up at him concerned. “No need to cry about some missed practice.”

A few tears silently slip down his cheeks and it’s hard to keep from sobbing, his entire body beginning to shake. Bobby runs to grab the trash can expecting another vomiting episode, but Alex denies it. 

“No,” Alex’s voice cracks and it’s hard to hear him. “No, I- it won’t get better. I’m sick and it won’t change.” He pulls out of his friends’ grip to hide his face and breaks down. It’s hard to breath, to think, to do anything as he sits there balling his eyes out and shaking like a leaf in the wind with stagnant breaths and it feels like there’s barely any air getting to his brain or lungs. 

He’s always been a little bit of a nervous person, usually he didn’t put himself out there but rather got pushed into the spotlight by his friends. One of the reasons drumming worked so well for him; he could enjoy making music and being on stage but he’s still in the back, not totally in the limelight. Nobody ever really cares about the drummer and he’s more than okay with not being the center of attention; but it’s hard to avoid that when he’s crying and babbling words that barely make sense and his voice is too high and scratchy to be understood anyways.

Luke, Reggie and Bobby all look at each other worried and scared, unsure of how to help. “It’s okay, Alex. You’ll get through this. We’ll always be here for you,” Luke says a little wary and shifts in his seat uncomfortable but sticking it out for his friend. Placing a strong hand on the drummer’s shoulder who looks up at him; eyes red and face puffy from tears.

“No you won’t.” Alex sounds so tired and it hasn't even hit noon yet. Granted he’s barely slept for the past few days.

Reggie nearly jumps onto Alex, hugging him and pressing his face into Alex’s chest. “What are you talking about? We love you, Lex! You can’t change that.”

“Yeah and it’s not like you’re going to die from this, it’s just an upset stomach,” Bobby says and despite thinking this was an overreaction he felt the same as the rest of his bandmates towards the blonde. 

“Alex, why wouldn’t we be here for you? What’s actually the matter?” Luke asked carefully. He isn’t the best with emotions and he can’t handle people crying, but this was his best friend so he was going to try his hardest to help.

“Because-” Alex sucked in a breath trying to find the strength to say the words out loud finally, tight fists that caused his nails to dig into his palms. “Because I- I’m gay.

There is a moment of pure relief and Alex’s shoulders untense themselves, but he’s still stiff waiting for a reaction, like all weight waiting to drop. It comes a little delayed as the three others pause to process it and when Alex is ready to be kicked out of the band and disowned by his friends, they instead tackle him into a hug with various sweet words that make Alex’s stomach do flips.

“You aren’t sick,” Luke chokes out, starting to cry himself.

“We could never hate you for being yourself,” Bobby adds, running his hand through blonde hair and softly smiling.

“Like I said, we’ll always love you.” Reggie mumbles into Alex’s chest as he hugs him even tighter.

Alex lets out a shaky laugh and starts to cry even more, but this time of pure bliss. He wasn’t going to lose his friends, everything would be alright. He would be alright because he would always have his best friends by his side. And he thinks they’ll be alright, that he’ll be alright but then Bobby pulls away from the hug and asks; “that can’t have been the only thing to put you in a sour mood. Is there something else?”

For the first time he hated that his friends knew him so well.

“Oh yeah,” Reggie said, realizing that Bobby had a point. “Did something else happen?”

Alex swallows hard, throat still a little sore and the tension is back, making him rigid between his friends as he exhales deeply, closing his eyes. 

Okay, it’ll be okay. 

“I- I came out to my parents the other night,” he admitted weakly and laid back on the couch in defeat. Three sets of eyes watching him carefully, sad concerned faces staring at him. “As you can imagine, that didn’t go so well. They… They, uh, threatened to take me to one of those camps that fix sick people… like me.” Alex flinched into himself as tears started to stream down his face, hands shaking and breathing so unsteady he thought he might faint and double overs to hold himself and sob without having to look his bandmates in the eyes. 

It’s a scary thing to hear and they can’t imagine how much more scary it was to be the one that’s told it outright. Reggie holds on to Alex. “You aren’t sick, Lex.” Reggie smooths a hand up and down Alex’s back, looking up at Luke who’s angry eyes are rimmed red with fresh tears. 

Alex lets out a sharp exhale that’s loud and choked as he tries to even out his breathing and failing. Bobby cusses out Alex’s parents in every which direction and looks twice as mad as Luke does, granted Luke was also trying to keep from crying. Reggie and Bobby weren’t big criers so it was easy for them to be filled with anger instead of just sadness, or in Reggie’s case concern. He was worried, Alex’s a sensitive person. Plus he knew Alex had planned to talk to his parents about something a few days ago, but he thought it was about hanging out more with the band, not this

“They blame you guys,” Alex adds in a voice so tight that it barely comes out as a whisper and heaves out a sigh that gets caught in his throat. “They said I could quit the band or go to the camp. I’ll- I’ll kill myself before I do either.”

The entire room goes silent and it does nothing to ease Alex’s racing mind, his head rests in his hands, palms pressed into his eyes to try to keep more tears from falling and not wanting to break into another sob. 

“No one is quitting the band and no way are you going to some shitty hell camp,” Luke said, sounding raspy from crying. “You’ll be okay, Alex. We’ve got you.”

“How? They think I’m some crazed sex prev. A sinner or whatever, I don’t even know anymore. My dad was screaming a lot of words and I stopped listening after the slurs.” Alex said sharply, not wanting to look up and reveal how red and blotchy his face was.

“We’ll think of something,” Bobby reassures him, already pensive in thought. He was a little smarter when it came to figuring out parents and how to get them to chill out. Comes from many years of practice with his own family. 

Reggie shifts slightly in his seat, still pressed against Alex and an arm around the blonde’s back with an idea on the tip of his tongue. “You could start with going to church maybe. I still play piano for the local one on Sundays. Come with me and see if that helps.” Reggie half shrugged, fingers playing with the ends of Alex’s shirt.

“Yeah,” Bobby agreed, getting an idea. “Hey, yeah. That could help. Show em’ that you’re still a good kid. Keep your grades up, go to church, do extra chores around the house. Pretend to be the best God-loving straight A having son until they forget about the whole gay thing!”

Luke shoots Bobby a look that tells him he should shut it already, the singer is very aware how awful it feels to be forced to fit a parents’ expectations, and Alex finally makes eye contact with his friends, brows kitted up and expressive irritated with eyes rimmed a stinging red. 

“I don’t want them to forget about it, I want them to accept it- to accept me . The point of coming out is to stop lying about who I am. I can’t go back to doing that, I’m sick of it!” Alex steadies his voice, swallowing hard and running a hand through messy hair. “Maybe I am sick. Maybe…. Maybe the camp would help.”

“No! That’s such bullshit!” Luke yelled, jumping to his feet. “You don’t deserve this, Alex, no one does. Listen, if they try to send you away come running to the studio and we’ll keep you safe. You crash on the couch with me for as long as you need and- and we’ll do two twice as many gigs and save up to get you out of that house. Alex, look at me,” Luke went in front of the drummer and held onto his shoulders with a determined fire in his eyes. “We love you, okay? We’re going to help you. Your parents don’t know what they're talking about.”

“Yeah, and if they try anything me and Reg can always beat up your dad. Isn’t that right, Reginald?” Bobby offers jokingly and Alex lets out a laugh that’s wet and bitter from tears.

Reggie nods his head, grinning. “Yup, I’ll even wear my steel toes. No one is hurting our favorite blondie.” He nudged their shoulders together.

It’s not much of a plan, not really, but it’s comforting to know that his friends are willing to fight for him; that they would do anything to keep him safe. That they still love him. Alex doesn’t go home that night, instead he sleeps in the studio and his boys stay with him; watching movies and talking about nothing in particular until they fall asleep on top of each other. It’s not much, but Alex doesn’t cry himself to sleep for the first time in days and everything feels a little lighter. He’ll be alright. Everything will be alright and if he’s lucky things will smooth themselves out.