Half a dozen hours later I was landed in Raleigh and after collecting my bags and began looking around for Nathan's roommate who was supposed to pick me up.
Away from the noise of the crowded airport I punched in his number. He picked up in a few minutes later he was waving at me a few feet away.
Tyler Martin was about what I had expected; average height with tousled dark hair and sharp dark eyes. He reminded me of the nondescript repair guys that fixed televisions and Internet cables. We exchanged greetings briefly before Tyler gestured to his car and we began the ride back to Chastity Hills.
"How is he?" I asked in an undertone, of course he knew exactly who I was talking about.
"About the same as he's been for the past few weeks, sticking to his work and not much else."
I nodded, but didn't say much else. This didn't sound like the person I had grown up with, the complete opposite as a matter of fact. Nathan had always tackled things head on and asked questions later. He was inquisitive and intelligent, which was something I always liked about him. He had never let anyone bug him even when he had been bullied as a child he always seemed to bounce back and told people exactly what he thought.
The majority of the drive was made in silence, Tyler and I didn't know each other that well and are only topic we had in common was Nathan which I didn't feel like discussing with someone I barely knew.
Finally, Tyler's car pulled up outside a nondescript apartment building. It wasn't a high-rise by any stretch of the imagination but it was nice, just enough to know that the people living there weren't exactly dirt poor.
Tyler help me with my luggage while I took the rest of my bags. He took my last suitcase in his free hand and began fishing around in his jeans pocket for his keys. Then he opened the door and motioned for me to go in. The apartment was about what I expected for two single guys my age, not quite clean but neat enough. There were laptops on the coffee table and cell phone chargers dangling like snakes in the available power outlets.
"Where is he?" I asked again.
Tyler nodded towards the back of the apartment.
"Probably in his room." He motioned for me to follow him. Tyler walked to the end of a short hallway and pointed to the left.
"Second door down. My room is at the other end of the hall."
I followed Tyler's instructions stopping just outside the door he had indicated. It was partially ajar and I could hear the dim sounds of a computer running inside and the faint sounds of Nathan's favorite Christian rock band (I knew because they were one of my favorites as well).
I didn't exactly knock but rather slowly eased the door open as if I were trying to protect myself from a particularly vicious animal.
"Nathan? It's me, it's Viv."
He didn't look up, when I usually addressed him he usually greeted me with a bright sunny smile. Standing there in his doorway I got my first good look at him since I had seen him a little over six months ago. He was sitting in his desk chair staring into space and uncharacteristic frown obscuring his features while the lyrics of the rock band continued pumping through his computer speakers.
His face looked pinched and tired, the tiredness on his face I was used to it was what I expected from a grad student going for his PhD but the level of stress I saw in the lines around his eyes and mouth was so unfamiliar I barely recognized him.
"Nathan?" I called again and finally, slowly, he looked up.
The look on his face was almost unreadable a combination of surprise and relief but then there was something else there I couldn't quite define.
"V…?" He said hoarsely and I could see the unspoken "what are you doing here?" written on his face.
"Tyler called me, he's worried about you." I said simply. "Frankly, after hearing what he told me so am I."
I looked squarely into his tired blue eyes taking in his tousled light brown hair, which looked like he had been running his hands through it. It was a little too long on one side and I could tell he needed a haircut.
"I've known you since you were seven years old Nathan," I said quietly, "what's going on?" You can tell me."
There was no humor in his eyes only an abrupt seriousness I only had ever seen on his face if someone had died.
"I don't know how to tell you this," he murmured and I could tell he was searching for the right words, somehow to make it easier to say without blurting everything out.
"You know all those articles I've been posting on Facebook for the past few months?"
I nodded, the subject matter had confused me not sure why he would have interest in articles concerning gays and lesbians.
He looked at me carefully then his eyes softened in a way they did when I knew he was listening or if he had something very important he had tell me. Gently, he reached out and took my hand, squeezing it briefly.
"I've been meaning to tell you this, and I wanted to tell you in person…" He paused again, "I'm attracted to… both… girls and guys."
The room got so quiet you could've heard a pin drop. Even through the numbness that was slowly taking over my body I processed one coherent thought. I had defined that searching look that had been on Nathan's face ever since I had walked into his bedroom, his unfinished sentence as he dropped a bombshell into my life.
The look that said: "… And where do I fit in now?"