The room was dark. Aaron was across the grounds, locked securely, and hopefully, safely in the barn. Any other investigation before this, Zak would have pulled Nick close, just to feel his heat. Any other investigation, Nick would have found touching Zak irresistible at this point. This one was different. The inevitable happened and Zak didn’t… he couldn’t… Nick was going to be a father. He looked hard at the younger man through the darkness, his eyes straining, not daring to bring up the video camera. He said he was going to leave her. For the past ten years, he said he was going to leave. The thought broke Zak’s heart a little more.
Nick felt Zak staring at him but he didn’t move. His life changed in the blink of an eye. In the span of one night. He couldn’t lie. He was excited at the news that he was going to be a father. That afternoon, when he told Zak, Aaron and the crew was when he really got to celebrate it. It was out. It was in the open. Something that he and Zak could never have. Even if he had left Roni, he and Zak could not be public for years. Nick sighed. “I’m sorry,” he whispered into the darkness.
“So what’s supposed to happen now, Nick?” The words came out strangled, as if Zak had been holding onto them inside, clutching them tightly for fear of them escaping.
Nick shrugged, but realized Zak couldn’t see him in the dark. “I don’t know.”
“Do you love her?” he asked.
Nick rolled his eyes, thankful that Zak couldn’t see it. “Zak, we’ve had this argument before. You know I do or I wouldn’t have married her.”
They stood silent for a few moments, facing away from each other, scanning the blank walls with their cameras. “Do you love me?” Zak asked, barely above a whisper.
Nick sighed again and lowered his camera. Turning towards Zak, he pulled him close, cradling him, chest to back. The body stiffened in his arms, but Nick held on, kissing the shell of Zak’s ear. “I do love you. You mean a lot to me. I wouldn’t have put up with your shit for over ten years if I didn’t at least somewhat care for you.”
Zak snorted. “I don’t give you shit.”
Nick laughed and let go of the older man. “Bullshit. I went searching for damn onions in a field with you. I drove all around downtown Philly looking for a damn cheesesteak cart because you were hungry even though we just ate. You’re worse than my wife sometimes, man. But I do it. Because I love you. I have no idea why Aaron does it though. I might have to kick his ass.”
Zak laughed. “Because its Aaron.”
Nick side-eyed Zak. “Going to be cheating on me with Aaron since I’m going to be a daddy?”
“Aaron? No.” Zak sighed. “Billy maybe.”
“Dude, what? I was kidding!”
Zak relaxed. “No. You know there’s no other man but you.”
“Countless women though…”
“Ok, well, we’re not bringing that up.”
The radio at Zak’s hip crackled and Aaron’s voice came through the speaker, breaking up their conversation. “DUDES! Where ARE you? I want out!”
Unclipping the walkie talkie, Zak responded, “We’re over in the house, we’ll be right there.”
“Hurry up!” came Aaron’s harried response. Zak reholstered the walkie, but neither man moved.
“I’m not leaving you, Zak,” Nick said. “And I really hope you don’t leave me, but I understand if you do.”
Zak nodded. The ball was in his court and the future of their relationship was in his hands. Looking down at his camera, the gravity of their situation hit him. What he decided could impact not only each of them individually, but Aaron, their crew, and the show. Nick’s hands took the camera from his, setting it down on the windowsill. Strong arms wrapped around his body and Zak gave in. Nick’s smell engulfed his senses and he closed his eyes.
“Please don’t… Please don’t leave me,” Nick mumbled into his ear. “I want you to be that awesome uncle that comes over and spends the night when mommy goes away. I want you to be a big part of our lives.”
Aaron’s voice crackled at his hip again. Zak pushed back, unclipping the walkie and walking out of the room, away from Nick. “We’re on our way, Aaron. Just hold tight.”
Nick watched him walk away, fear of the unknown finally entering his chest, before picking up their cameras and following obediently behind.