The Fighter Ch. 02byJaycobMatthews©
*"But I do it for the kids, life threw the towel in on
Every time you fall it's only making your chin strong
And I'll be in your corner like Mick, baby, 'til the end
Or when you hear a song from that big lady
Until the referee rings the bell
Until both your eyes start to swell
Until the crowd goes home
What we gonna do ya'll?"*
Westley stood in front of the hospital the next weekend, reluctant to go into the cancer wing. Part of him wanted to go to visit his dad, and the other half didn't want to go into the hospital. He had bad memories of hospitals, and it always caused him to have bad dreams after a visit, just like the last time when he came to the hospital with his dad. He needed to be strong for his dad though, so he unwillingly started the trek to his dad's room. Of course it was all the way down the hall. As he was walking past the waiting room, he noticed a huge man sitting in a chair that looked way to small for him chatting with a child. Westley chuckled inside a bit, feeling sorry for the man. Westley was intrigued by the man, his skin a light mocha color, and he had shoulder length dreads. He shook his head and kept walking. His brain was probably self-consciously thinking if he stopped to talk to the man, he wouldn't have to go further into the hospital, and he wouldn't have to visit his dad...
He continued down the hall, and finally found his dad's room. His mom was sitting in the chair next to the hospital bed, knitting. Westley couldn't remember the last time she'd knitted, she seemed to do it only when she was stressed. She nodded to Westley and then stood up.
"Westley, good, I'm going to run and get a drink, maybe powder my nose. I didn't want to leave your father alone."
"Ah, Westley, how have you been?" His dad asked.
"Ok I guess. Went to visit a friend I met on my internship this weekend."
"Hmm, the one from Wisconsin?"
"Yeah... So dad, how do you feel?"
"Oddly enough, okay. They confirmed its pancreatic cancer, but I guess it's not early but not late stage, so they're hopeful. I get to start chemo tomorrow."
"Son, you've always been a quiet guy, but I feel like there's a lot left unsaid between us. I'd like you to know, I may not always be here for you, but if you need to talk, I'm here."
"I know dad. I know. I... well, once I've figured stuff out we may talk about it, but right now I don't think I have anything I need to talk about."
"Okay." His dad yawned, and laid back.
"I'll let you get back to napping. I should go study anyway, I have a test later this week." Westley quietly left, unsure if his dad was still awake or not.
As he was leaving the hospital, he wasn't paying attention to where he was walking, and he ran into the behemoth of the man he saw in the waiting room.
"Hey little dude, you okay?" He said with a deep voice.
Westley was almost hypnotized by the man's beautiful hazel eyes. They twinkled with his smile. He shook his head.
"Fine. Sorry about running into you."
"No problem, you look deep in thought... Everything okay?"
"Eh, my dad's in here."
"Aw, man, that sucks. Hey, is he a football fan?"
"Um, yeah he is, he likes the Packers for some reason, even though we're in Ohio." Westley laughed a bit.
"Excellent. Which room is he in?"
"Um... 211 down the hall."
"Cool, see you later..." The man paused
"Westley," He seemed to roll it intimately across his tongue. "I'm Christian." He stuck out his hand. Westley shook it briefly, and then they parted ways. He couldn't shake the idea that Christian looked familiar but Westley couldn't place him.
Christian watched as the small man walked down the hallway, leaving the oncology wing. He was really cute, Christian thought, and hopefully he'd run into him again. Since football was still in the off season, Christian liked to visit patients who were fans of the team, hopefully to brighten their days in between treatments. He was a big supporter of the 'Make a Wish' Foundation, and enjoyed visiting kids, but Westley's father would probably appreciate a visit as well. He made his way down the hallway and knocked on the door to 211. A middle age man was sleeping in the bed, and a woman sat near him, knitting. The woman stopped knitting and looked up.
"Oh, hello..." The woman seemed slightly nervous.
"Hey, I'm Christian Nolls. I play for the Packers. I was in the hospital visiting patients, and ran into Westley. He said his dad was a football fan."
"Oh. I'm Marie. Well, let me wake him up... George... there's someone here to meet you."
The man stirred, sleepily opening his eyes.
"What... Nolls? Seriously? The outside linebacker?"
"Yup... I ran into your son in the hallway, he said you were a Packers fan, even though you live in Ohio..."
"Originally from Wisconsin." Westley's dad explained.
"That explains it. I grew up near here. I live in Wisconsin now, to be close to the team, but come back to stay with the parents, visit the hospitals."
"That's nice of you."
"I try. Course I get a perverse pleasure out of being recognized and whatnot too." Christian said with a short laugh.
Westley's dad nodded. Christian could tell Westley was their kid; he looked like a blended version of the two. They chatted for a few minutes about the upcoming season, but Christian noticed George looking tired.
"Well, I let you get back to sleep. If you want, I'll be around for the next week or so, I may stop back in and chat."
"I would like that. I can talk ears of my friends chatting about football. It'll be nice to discuss things with someone who knows what he's talking about." George laughed.
"Good to meet you two, George... Marie... Have a good day." With a broad smile he left the room with a spring in his step. Now, if only he could catch Westley again.
Westley sat at the hotel by himself. His mom would probably be by later, after the hospital kicked her out once it got too late. It was too difficult to sit by alone though, so even though he hated to go out by himself, he was going to have to. He always felt like such a loser even just eating by himself. He drove around aimlessly until he found an almost empty diner on the edge of town. Since there were only two other cars in the parking lot, maybe he wouldn't feel so weird sitting by himself. He wandered in, spotted to men sitting by themselves. One at the counter sitting on a stool and the other at a table with paperwork spread out. Westley picked a table off the opposite side from the other men. A waitress poked her head out from the kitchen.
"Menus are on the counter there, I'll be out in a bit to take your order, okay?"
"Sounds good." Westley said as he grabbed a menu and sat down. It was pretty much like he expected, mostly burgers and fries. Typical 'hole in the wall' diner fare. He spotted a chicken sandwich with ranch sauce on it that sounded good. He set the menu down and pulled out his phone to check his emails while he waited for the waitress.
Christian pulled into one of his favorite haunts when he was growing up. His friend Nevaeh bought the place a few years ago, but kept everything the same. He'd only had a chance once a year to really stop in before this since he had left to go to college. He knew that Nevaeh worked every night though, so he wanted to stop in and break his strict diet for his favorite sandwich. The bells tinkled as he stepped through the door. He surveyed the patrons. He almost laughed aloud when he spotted the short blond from the hospital in the corner, playing on his phone. Christian considered his options but decided quickly to approach the shy man. He slid into the chair opposite Westley.
Westley almost jumped when Christian sat down at his table, he was so engrossed in reading an email he'd gotten from Michael.
"Hey Westley. Mind if I join you?"
"Um. No, that's fine." Westley said.
"I talked with your dad today, he seems like a nice guy."
"He is. It's too bad he's going to die soon."
"He has pancreatic cancer. They aren't too hopeful for a long prognosis."
"Man. That sucks."
"Yeah." Westley picked up the menu to distract himself.
"Give you a tip... the swiss melt here is to die for." Christian leaned forward.
"Seriously. Even when I'm in the Cheese Capital of the world, I have yet to find a better one."
"Christian! I thought I heard your golden voice out here!" Westley watched as the waitress came out from the kitchen, walking briskly up to the long haired man. Christian stood up and they embraced each other, but not excessively as if they were more than friends. At least that was the impression Westley got.
"Wes, this is Nevaeh, Nevaeh this is Westley. We met at the hospital today."
Nevaeh stuck her hand out and shook Westley's hand.
"Christian and I grew up together out here." She explained.
She turned to Christian,
"So you want your normal diet buster?"
"Yeah, and bring two, I think I'm going to get Westley addicted to your sandwiches."
Nevaeh looked over at Westley to verify, and Westley nodded.
"When in Rome I guess." He shrugged.
"Alright boys. Want something besides water?" Both men shook their heads.
"Okay, I'll be back shortly." She headed back to the kitchen.
"So. Wes. What do you do for a living?"
"I'm going to be graduating from vet school this spring."
"Sweet. Well, you know what I do." Christian said.
"Actually, no, you never did tell me..." Westley said.
"Oh, geez. Sorry. I play football for the Packers."
Westley let out a short laugh.
"I bet that dad loved that."
"We had a nice chat. I'm probably going to keep stopping in to talk with him."
Nevaeh swung by the table and filled their glasses.
"Are your parents out of town tonight?" She asked.
"Yeah..." Christian wiggled his eyebrows at her.
Westley felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. He could have sworn the big man was gay, but the way he was teasing Nevaeh made him think twice.
"Boy, quit while you're ahead. You know it would never work." She giggled as she walked away.
"She's right. For more than a few reasons." Christian said.
"Well, us being best friends and all. Me living in Wisconsin. She owns the diner here, so I wouldn't be able to convince her to move. She's got a baby daddy that is head over heels for her, but she has trust issues. At some point she'll fall and give in. Most of all though, she's not my type."
Nevaeh came back with two plates full of steaming food. Each plate held a large sandwich and mountain of fries.
"Forgot to ask if you wanted cheese for your fries too, but I figure if you don't eat it, Christian here will." She indicated the cup of nacho cheese on the plate.
"I'll give it a try." Westley said with a little laugh.
"Don't deny a Wisconsin convert his cheese." Christian said as he took a bite of his sandwich. He moaned in delight. Westley felt himself chub a bit hearing the carnal noise. He distracted himself with taking a bite out of his sandwich. He suddenly understood the sound Christian had made. The meat was cooked perfectly- nice and juicy. The swiss cheese melted on his tongue, while the sautéed onions added a tang. It was the best sandwich he'd ever had.
"See? Nevaeh has a way with food."
"Boy, you know I got these recipes from Auntie May. I got nothing on her."
"You sell yourself short girl." Christian shook his head.
"Whatev. Eat your food. Call if you need anything." She walked back to the kitchen. The boys were quiet as they dug into the plates of food. Christian polished his entire plate off before Westley ate half of his sandwich and barely made a dent in his fries.
"So where are you staying at?" Christian asked as he ate his last fry.
"A hotel near the hospital. I'm sharing a room with my mom."
"How long are you in town for?"
"Until Monday. Then I have to go back to school."
They chatted a bit longer and suddenly Westley realized it was pitch dark outside and the diner was empty.
"Geez, how long have we been sitting here?"
"A couple hours." Christian smiled. He looked over his shoulder but Nevaeh was back in the kitchen. He could hear water running and some clunking, which indicated she was probably washing dishes along side her cook.
"Ooops. Hope the diner isn't supposed to be closed..." Westley said.
"Well not that Nevaeh would care either."
Westley thought about it, but it had been bugging him since Christian had said it.
"What did you mean when you said she wasn't your type?" He asked tentatively, daring to hope.
Christian cleared his throat and looked around the diner again.
"Well, honestly, I'm not, nor can I really be out, but I'm gay."
Westley let out a breath he didn't realize he was holding. Christian laughed.
"Was that a good noise or an 'I'm shocked I've been chatting this nicely with a pervert this whole time' sigh?"
"No that was a good noise. I guess."
"You guess? You haven't felt the mutual attraction?"
"I have. I just... well. I don't know."
"Look, why don't we let Nevaeh close up the place, come over to my parent's house and let's talk a bit more."
"Um. Okay." Westley said.
Nevaeh poked her head out.
"Have fun..." She said in a bit of a sing-song voice.
They stepped outside.
"Does she know?"
"I think she suspects."
"Hmm. Want me to follow you over to your place?"
"Yeah, it's just around the corner really."
They got into their cars, Westley following as Christian pulled out into the quiet street. He contemplated what would happen next. Sure, after his situation with Ryan he'd mostly come to terms with being gay, and had experimented a bit at school. In order to try to not pine over Michael he'd messed around with a few guys. Sure he'd want to settle down at some point, but he wasn't sure if he wanted that right now. And if Christian wasn't really out, he wasn't sure he wanted two of those hurdles in relationship.