I woke up with a jolt, sweating and shaking. I felt someone's arms around me and it felt reassuring to know I wasn't alone.
"Shh," a soft voice whispered in my ear. "It's alright."
"What time is it?" I asked, sitting up in the dark.
"Umm... 3 AM."
I saw the dim light of a smartphone screen go on and off.
"I need to text my brother," I said. "I need to let him know I'm here."
"He already knows you're here, he'll know you crashed. Come, go back to sleep."
I lay back down and felt my buddy Ian wrap his arms around my body again. My breathing was accelerated, but starting to calm down.
"Was it a dream?" Ian asked gently.
"Mhm," I mumbled, turning my back to him and making myself comfortable in his embrace. I could feel his dick find its way between my ass cheeks. I closed my eyes.
"Was it about... what you found out today?" he asked.
"Yes," I replied, feeling comforted and starting to drift back off to sleep.
"I'm here for you if you need me, buddy," Ian whispered in my ear. I took his arms and wrapped them tighter around me, our two bodies sticking to each other, fitting like two jigsaw pieces.
12 HOURS EARLIER:
After almost six months of living and working in New York, I finally had enough money saved up to move out of my brother's place. It'd taken much longer than I anticipated; at first I thought I'd only crash with him and Owen for a month or two. Finding out just how much it'd cost and just how shitty some of the inexpensive places were, had come as a surprise.
Another surprise was how much we weren't in each other's way. I thought sharing a one-bedroom apartment with newlyweds would be hell for everyone. Turns out, with some tolerance and communication, it all went quite smoothly. Granted, it wasn't a situation most people would be cool with, being exposed to my brother and his husband's sexcapades, but I didn't mind. Every year, I was more and more past this "sex is shameful" attitude, and I felt all too grateful for that.
Now that summer was over, there was more work for everyone so we weren't at home that much anyway. Taylor had found a new office job and only bartended one or two nights a week now. As I racked up more responsibilities at my company, I was also expected to put in more hours. The two of us would be going back home to Pennsylvania for the holidays soon, and the plan was for me to move out as early as possible in the new year.
My friendship with my college buddies Eric and Will had been reinvigorated by our time together in Provincetown. We started to text and talk daily, but over the weeks that kinda fizzled down. Still, it was nice to know people hadn't forgotten about me, and that I had someone nearby if I needed them.
One person I wasn't keeping in touch was "Girl Rory" Aurora. She stopped responding to my texts and after five or six attempts I took the hint and gave up. The thought did briefly cross my mind to just show up at her doorstep, but then I realized how creepy that would be, even if she wasn't being fair by ghosting me this way after everything.
Which is why, it was an absolute shock to get a text one Saturday morning.
"Hey, sorry I've been AWOL. Can we talk later today?"
A hundred possible responses flew through my mind, but I decided to keep it brief.
"Sure," I typed.
"The Starbucks where we met, 3 PM?"
Rory was already sitting down at a table when I walked in, even though I was almost ten minutes early. The place was rather empty on the weekend, compared to the crazy crowd here during office hours.
I walked over to her table without sitting down.
"Hi. Can I get you anything?" I asked, even though she was already holding a drink.
"No, thanks. I would've gotten you something but I wasn't sure what you want. And I didn't want it to get cold."
"Don't worry about it," I said and walked off to the bar.
Was everything okay, I worried while waiting for my coffee. Rory looked... different. She was always so confident and bubbly. She now seemed somber, sitting indoors with her winter coat on, her face puffy as if she'd been crying.
I sat down across from her and kept quiet, giving her a chance to make the first move.
"I'm sorry I didn't text back," she said, talking more quietly than usual. "I wasn't in New York."
"Oh," I hadn't even considered that. I was so certain she was ignoring me for some other person, or simply because she'd decided she didn't like me that much. "Where were you?"
"I went back home to D.C. for a bit."
Did someone die? That was my first thought. That would explain the puffiness and change of attitude. I remained silent, waiting to hear more.
"I..." Rory continued, "I'm pregnant."
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING in this world could've prepared me for that. I felt like I'd been punched in the gut.
"Is... Is it...?" I stuttered.
"It's yours," she said curtly.
"H-how? I thought you were...?"
Rory and I didn't use condoms, but she'd told me she was on the pill. I never had a reason not to trust her. Plus, she didn't seem like the kind of girl that was in a rush to have a baby anyway.
"Birth control didn't work for some reason. Guess we're in that 1%."
Holy fuck, what do I do?!
"I went back home to be with my mom, decide what to do," Rory said.
I put my cup down and clutched the table. My hands were too shaky to be holding a drink.
"When I was 17, I had an abortion," she continued. "I thought I wouldn't care, and thankfully my parents were cool and I had access to it. I thought it'd be 'no big deal,'" she used air quotes. "And maybe it's not for some people, but for me at that age... it really messed me up for a while. And I... I didn't wanna do it again. I'm 24, so I... thought I might as well give it a go."
I sat there, feeling like a spectator rather than a participant in my own life. I had absolutely no clue what to do or say.
Luckily, Rory seemed to have a speech prepared.
"It's too late for that now, I'm in my second trimester. Sorry for telling you now, but I just... couldn't do it earlier. I know a part of it is unfair, but I guess that's just biology. As for you... You get to decide for yourself. If you wanna be in his life you can, otherwise I'll be fine, my family's by my side and –"
"'He'?" I interrupted.
"You said 'his life.' Does that mean it's a boy, or did you just say that generically?"
"Shit. I didn't wanna tell you unless you wanted to know. But yes, it's a boy."
For some reason, knowing the sex made a huge difference. It was no longer some abstract fetus we were talking about; it made him sound like... a person.
Rory put her cup down and I finally stopped clutching the table. I reached over and took her hands in mine.
"And what about us?" I asked.
"Honestly... I haven't even been thinking about that. When I found out, I was so stressed tryna decide whether to keep it cuz I didn't have that much time, and going back home and keeping up with all the doctor's appointments and shit... I'm sorry, Rory, but I've been all over the place. Building a romantic relationship with you is just not a priority right now."
Fair enough. If I knew one thing it's that I didn't want to stress her right now. Besides, us two being a "romantic couple" was never really the goal for either of us, even when we were fucking.
"I'm in," I said, still holding her hands. "Just one thing."
"Can we please name him Rory?"
"No fucking way!" she shouted, making every head at the coffee shop turn to us; and for the first time since we sat down, the two of us laughed. We laughed loudly until we both had tears in our eyes, still holding hands.