Greg looked down at his sleeping son and the one cut that was on Dustin's wrist. They were sitting in their apartment in Dustin's room, sitting on his bed. Dustin was laying on his side, Greg watching him, trying to think of how to help his son.
Dustin, now in high school, was the schools star wrestler and was also the best singer in the choir. He took the wrestling team to state every year he was on the team. His only downfall was how hard he worked to get into the weight class he wanted to be in. He would do anything to cut weight, and Greg and Annabel were worried sick about him because of it. Their worries were proven valid when they caught Dustin throwing up in the bathroom. That same day, the found two small cuts on his wrist that Dustin usually covered with a sweatband.
Greg had a hard time understand his son these days, although it wasn't so long ago that he was in a similar position. Dustin had a lot going for him. He had tons of friends, was still best friends with Renee, he had girls swooning over him, he was the best in the whole school when it came to singing and wrestling, and he had no problem with his school work and always had all A's and B's in his classes. So, why was he doing this to himself?
"Honey," Annabel said as she stood in Dustin's doorway with the newest member of the family, Jade, on her hip. The two year old baby was asleep and was resting her head on Annabel's shoulders. "Come to bed. Dustin's going to be okay."
"I know," Greg sighed and stood up. He smiled at his daughter. Once he reached her, he took Jade from her and they headed to their bedroom, where the baby crib was. Once they reached the bedroom, Greg laid the baby down and both him and Annabel crawled under the covers. Greg wrapped his arms around Annabel, keeping her close to his chest. "I'm just worried."
"I know. I'm worried too. But Dusty only has the two cuts on his wrists and their small. You said yourself that we caught it very early. And we can get him help for the weight issue."
"We did catch it early." Greg agreed. "I wish I was caught that early. Probably would save me from a lot of pain."
"You and him need to have a heart-to-heart, father-to-son chat tomorrow." She said before she yawned. "Talk to him about how you dealt with your depression."
"I think he was just experimenting."
"It will still be good for you two. And I think it's time you told him the truth about the relationship between the two of you." She spoke carefully.
Greg was definitely afraid of that talk. He didn't want to tell Dustin that he wasn't his real father, but he knew he had to tell him sometime. And lately Dustin began to question why his parents had him so young and he was getting tired of his questions being pushed off. But would this hurt their relationship? Would Dustin go looking for his real father?
"I'll talk to him." He promised and kissed Annabel. She smiled, and fell asleep in his arms with that smile still on her lips.
Greg sighed happily and listened carefully to Jade breathing and could feel Annabel's heart beating beneath his hands. He tried to focus all his energy on seeing the world from Dustin's point of view.
Dustin was always an only child, and now he had to share his parents with Jade. Family parties were usually stressful for him because he and Harley still didn't get along and because of the age difference, their wasn't much he could do to keep Harley from aggravating him. Greg usually laughed it off and told Dustin that his Uncle Cole was just like that when he was younger, but he never dealt with the problem directly. Now, Greg could see how that could make Dustin angry. The other boys on the wrestling team always teased him for his beautiful singing voice. They were just playing and didn't mean to hurt his feelings, but Dustin could only take so much. And the fact that Gregory worked at the same school Dustin attended as the band teacher didn't help the fact. He didn't plan to work at the same school his son attended, but he needed a job and that school was the only one with an band teacher opening. And Dustin was always ashamed that he could play any instrument like his father could. Although he tried and practiced, he couldn't seem to make any music with anything other than his voice. He always wanted so badly to be able to play the guitar like his father, who also learned to master the other instruments in the band while in college, but he just couldn't do it. He couldn't make his fingers move fast enough of in the right place at the right time. This apartment was Dustin's second home and he just got used to it, and they were moving again. Even though he would be staying at the same school, the process of moving stressed him out. The problems seemed minor to Greg, but he realized just how big the could seem to a sixteen year old boy.
Gregory sighed, kissed Annabel lightly on the back of her neck and let himself drift into a deep sleep.
"Come on, Dustin, talk to me." Greg sighed as he and Dustin drove around the town. Once Greg mentioned the two cuts, Dustin shut down and refused to talk. "We're going to have to discuss this sooner or later."
"No we don't!" Dustin snapped at him.
"Just tell me how you're feeling. Are you okay?"
"Dad, I'm fine!" He huffed and crossed his arms over his chest.
"Those cuts don't mean your fine."
"You just won't understand." He grumbled and looked out the window.
"I think I would understand more than you would know." Greg held the steering wheel steady with his elbow and pushed the sleeve that covered his right arm up, then took the wheel with his left arm. He held his right arm out so Dustin could see his scarred wrists. "Dustin, I understand cutting."
"But, you told me those were from a dog attack?" Dustin said suspiciously as he looked at the faded scares.
"No. Their from me cutting myself. When I was your age," Greg took a deep breath. "I had really bad depression."
"And you cut your wrists?"
"Yes." Greg sighed. "The reason you were told it was a dog attack was because we didn't want you to know about it. But I think you're old enough and mature enough to know everything. Trust me, I know what cutting does, I know how it feels. Please, just tell me what's going on."
"Dustin Monroe," Greg said firmly.
"No, Dad I'm serous! A few kids at school were talking about how they cut their wrists and I just wanted to know what was so great about it. So I just tired it. I don't understand why they like it. All it does is hurt my arms." He admitted. Greg let out a sigh of relief.
"Don't ever scare your mother and me like that again!" He warned. "You had us scared to death!"
"I didn't mean to," Dustin mumbled, then looked up at Greg. "You were depressed? What happened?"
"Dusty, this stays between you and me, okay?"
"My name's not Dusty!" He huffed, convinced that he was to old for his childhood nickname.
"Sorry. Dustin, this stays between us. Okay? This isn't something you bring up at the dinner table. Do you understand?"
"Yeah. Tell me what happened."
"Well, it started when I was sixteen. Your Uncle Zachary was the one who caught me cutting, and then I tried to commit suicide." Greg explained simply. He noticed the shocked look on Dustin's face. "But luckily, your Gran found me before it was to late. After I got out of the hospital, I started going to therapy. That's where your mother and I met-"
"Wait That's where you met her?" Dustin held up one hand to stop Greg from going on. He did the math in his head. "But if you were sixteen when you met her, I was already born!"
"Shit!" Greg said sharply to himself. He didn't meant for Dustin to find out that way.
"Dad, if you met her after I was born, then you're not..." Dustin trailed off and stared at Greg, who patted his back.
"That is another story." He sighed.
"I need to know it."
"Dustin, just remember, that I love you with all my heart. You and your mother were the only things keeping me alive." He took another deep breath. "Dustin, you were the product of a rape."
Dustin's mouth dropped and his face turned white. "You raped Mom?!"
"No, no, no." Greg shook his head. "It wasn't me. It was some... some creep." Greg grabbed the steering wheel tighter, wishing their was a way to avoid this conversation, even though he knew they had to have it. "Biologically, you're not my son."
Dustin paused, looked to the ground and put his hands over his stomach. He didn't look at Greg when he put his hand on his shoulder. He looked out of the window, then back at the ground.
"Are you okay?" Greg asked. Dustin bit his lip and nodded. "It's a lot to take in, isn't it?"
"Yeah." He nodded again. "So, you just decided to help her raise a baby?"
"Well, we met at therapy. When I went in and was waiting for my session to start, she was waiting for her parents to pick her up. We went to the same school, but we never really talked before. We started talking at therapy, and that's when we fell in love. We were each others support group. She gave me the will to live and I helped her see just how beautiful she is. But we did slip up and I'd cut or she'd throw up. But one night, she called me and said she needed me to come over because she was throwing up. It was late, so I snuck out of your Gran and Gram's house and into your Grandpa's and Grammy's house. I made sure that she okay, and she said she was tired, so I left her room-"
"You were in her room?" Dustin asked with his eyebrows raised.
"It's not what you think, Dustin," Greg assured. "We were just talking. Anyways, I left her in her room and went into the living room. I didn't want to leave until I knew she was asleep. But I fell asleep on the couch."
"Did Grandpa find you?"
"Well, he did find me, but I was more concerned when you found me." He laughed. "Imagine going to your girlfriends house and having her little boy wake you up."
"I woke you up?"
"You yelled 'Mommy!' and they all ran into the room. You kept telling your Grandpa that you and him were going to throw me out. You hated me for a while."
"Really?" He laughed.
"Yeah. After we had our quick, shocking run in, Annabel invited me and my side of the family over for dinner so you would get used to us. You liked your Gran and Gram, you loved playing with Renee, but you didn't want me there and you sent us that message loud and clear."
"How did I do that?" Dustin questioned again. Greg could tell he was interested in the story.
"You punched me in the crotch!" Dustin threw his head back and laughed. Greg couldn't help but smile at how amused he was.
"Are you serious?" He said between his laughs. "What did you do?"
"What was I suppose to do? I sat on the couch and tried not to cuss to bad." Greg laughed along.
"I kind of feel like I should apologize now for that." He smiled.
"You should, brat." Greg teased and gently elbowed his sons' arm.
"I'm not gonna." He smirked. "What made me start liking you?"
"You heard me tell you Mom that she had to eat and you seemed shocked that I wanted her to be safe and healthy. Before that day, you called me 'bad man'."
"Is that when I started to call you Dad?"
"No, you called me 'Greg'. Then one night we were putting you down to sleep and Annabel kiss you goodnight and before we walked out of the room, you reached out to me and said 'I love you, Daddy'." Greg smiled. "One of the best days of my life."
"So, my biological father," Dustin said carefully. "Is he in jail?"
"Not any more." Greg sighed.
"Where is he? He won't be able to hurt Mom again, will he?"
"He won't hurt her again. He's on the other side of the country."
"He raped Mom?" Dustin said quietly. Greg nodded.
"She was thirteen."
"Wow. She was really young. I'm sixteen and I haven't even had my first kiss." He sighed.
"It'll come, Dustin. Just be patient."
"What made Mom keep me?"
"She fell in love with you once she held you for the first time."
"Wow, that really makes me feel good." He smiled. "And you loved her enough to help raise her kid."
"It started out that way, but then in turned into me loving you enough to raise you." They exchanged smiles and Dustin sighed.
"Is it wrong that I don't want to know anything more about my biological father?" He asked. "I mean, I'm kind of disgusted with him."
"That's not wrong, Dustin. It's understandable." Greg let out a sigh of relief. The last thing he wanted was for Dustin have any interest in that man.
"I had to lose weight, though." Dustin stuck up for himself as he and Greg walked through the grocery store, buying things to make ice-cream sundaes when they returned home. "I was teetering between two classes. If I didn't lose the weight, I would have been one of the lightest guys in my class. But because I lost the weight, I'm one of the heaviest guys in my class."
"I understand that, but throwing up is not the answer." Greg said firmly. Although he was more than happy that Dustin wasn't depressed or cutting himself like they thought he was, he still had to have a stern talk with him about forcing himself to throw up. "Do you know how unhealthy and dangerous that is? If you're caught doing that again, you're off the wrestling team!"
"But Dad-!" Dustin went to argue, but Greg held up one finger to stop him.
"No 'buts', Dustin! If you're going to harm yourself because of a sport, you're not going to be aloud to participate in that sport. This isn't about punishment, this is about your health. Do we understand each other?"
"Yeah." Dustin huffed and crossed his arms over his chest. Greg reached for chocolate sprinkles on the store shelf, but Dustin stopped him and put the rainbow sprinkles in their cart instead. "The rainbow ones are better."
"Dustin!" Greg laughed. "I swear, you're more of a baby than Jade sometimes!"
Dustin laughed along as they walked towards the check-out lanes. Greg smiled when he saw Cole waiting in line and they walked up behind him. Cole happily greeted them with a warm smile before they started talking.
"So, where's Harley and Kristy?" Greg asked.
"Harley's grounded," Cole sighed. "He was trying to sneak out last night."
"Sneak out? His twelve!" Dustin laughed. "What was he going to do? Rob the nearest Toys R Us?"
"Don't give him any ideas, Dustin!" Cole laughed along. "The little shit would probably do it if you dared him. Greg, you should have seen the look on Dad's face when we caught him. I never have seen him so mad."
"I have a hard time believing that, Cole. We did plenty of things that got him pretty damn mad." Greg chuckled.
"Believe me, dude. Dad was pissed! We caught Harley when he was half-way out of the front door, and Dad grabbed him by the back of the shirt and yanked him back in the house. Then he slammed the door shut so hard it seemed to make the whole house shake. He started yelling at him before I could say anything. When he was don't yelling at him, he pushed him towards me. And because Harley can't ever just take a punishment without adding more drama to it," Cole rolled his eyes. "He turned around and told Dad to go to hell. Dad raised his hand like he was going to cuff him across the face, but before he could I grabbed Harley by the arm and pulled him over to me. I started to yell at him and took him back upstairs. Dad stayed down stairs and I could hear him cussing and complaining. Mom had to go down there to calm him down."
"Damn." Greg sighed and shook his head. "Dad really was pissed."
"But I don't blame him. I mean, he has a lot on his plate and he already raised me, you and Taylor. He's still raising Renee and he's helping us with Harley."
"He helped us a lot with Dustin too. I wouldn't have been able to go to college if it wasn't for him helping us out with Dustin."
"And Harley is a little shit. He'll purposely do things to annoy Dad and see how far he can push him. The kid is an instigator. I'm telling you, Greg, you and Annabel are doing something right with him," He gestured to Dustin. "And I wish you would tell me how you did it."
"You know what I think it is? I think it's from all the times that Mom and Dad prayed that you would have a kid that was just like you!" Greg laughed. "And I think they're praying that Harley puts you through everything you put them through even more until you and Kristy and Harley move out!"
"I think Kristy and I are going to move out, but leave Harley with them." Cole smirked.
Greg, Dustin, Jade and Annabel were all in the living room watching television as they ate their ice cream. Dustin and Jade were laying on the floor on their stomachs and Greg and Annabel sat on the couch. It was going to be the last time they were going to sit down as a family like this until they moved everything into the new house. Boxes already filled the living room and surrounded the couch and television.
Jade scooped up ice cream on her small spoon and pressed it to Dustin's lips. Chuckling, he opened his mouth and let Jade feed him. She smiled and giggled and continued to put the ice cream in his mouth, not bothering to eat it herself. Because the wrestling season just ended, Dustin happily at her ice cream.
"Dustin, you little brat," Annabel laughed. "Eating all your little sister's ice cream."
"I like being a brat." He smiled. Once Jade fed him all of her ice cream, which didn't take long because she only had one scoop in her bowl, she wondered off to find her favorite toy, a large stuffed horse that had a cloth saddle on it's back. Dustin at his ice cream, and once Jade came back with the toy, he let her put it on his back then sit in the cloth saddle. She giggle, Dustin rarely let her sit on his back like this, and played with the horses' mane.
Greg looked around him and smiled. He had a stable job that let them live comfortably and move into a nice house. He had his supportive family that would jump in to help him and his family at any moment. He had two beautiful children, even if one wasn't his biologically, that were happy and healthy. The woman he loved was in his arms and she was happy with herself and how she looked. She had complete control over her eating disorder.
Greg himself still battled with depression, but it wasn't nearly as sever as it was when he was a teen. He was currently working with his doctor to slowly decrees the dose of anti-depressants he took each day so that he could slowly gain control over the depression and hopefully be able to control it without medication, just how Annabel controlled her eating disorder without a problem. He still dreamed of the day that he wouldn't have to take medication, but now he was reaching that dream in a safer manner than when he was seventeen. He knew that moving was going to get even more stressful along with everything else in his life, but he didn't care. He knew he could handle it. He knew that the three things that gave him the will to live, Annabel, Dustin, and now Jade, would pull him through anything.
He leaned down and kissed Annabel's cheek, letting his lips linger by her ear. She giggled and spoke softly and quietly.
"What was that for?"
"Just because I love you." He answered with a smile.
"Are you feeling okay?" She asked, keeping her voice in a whisper so Dustin and Jade wouldn't hear them over the television. They were constantly checking on each other, making sure the other wasn't slipping into their disease again. "You know things are going to get pretty stressful."
"I know. And I'm ready for it." Greg smiled still and pulled Annabel onto his lap. She smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck. Dustin noticed the movement, turned and when he saw his parents he smirked, pointed one finger down his throat and made a gagging noise. Greg laughed, grabbed a pillow off the couch and tossed it at him. Dustin laughed as he ducked his head just in time so the pillow would miss him. Jade grabbed it and balanced it on Dustin's head. Greg smiled and turned back to Annabel. He kissed her lips. "I'm ready for anything."
"It's going to seem like a bad storm." She warned.
"I know. And I'm ready." They kissed again. "Bring on the rain, baby."
WOW! The last chapter!!! I can't believe this is over! Kinda bitter-sweat for me [lol]. It seems like I've been working on this story forever! I'm glad I finished this out, I was thinking about not bothering to finish it in the middle of the story [I was really busy and life just wasn't being very kind to me]. But now I'm so happy I sucked it up and finished it. I hope you enjoyed reading it! Review and tell me what you think! I hope my writing has improved from the first chapter to this chapter. If you liked this story, check out my other[s]! I'm going to finish the other one [Rebel with a Reason] I have posted on here, and I already have a plot and everything ready for another story I'm going to post when Rebel with a Reason is done. I'd love it if you would read and review that story!!
Thank you so much for reading this!!