Chapter 24: The Secret's Out
The silence in the room is deafening. Reggie sits on one bed, looking at Otto sitting on his own. His body nervously shaking in a manor she has not seen since he was years younger. Something is wrong. Her older sibling instinct is to be there. However, Otto is a tough cookie to crack at times. Coming to the realization Otto is likely frozen in fear from the nerves, Reggie begins to try and break the frozen ice, holding a firm grip of him.
"What's going on Otto? I'm really worried now. Are you okay?"
Otto can barely lift his eyes from his hands. His whole body felt completely stuck. For how long he has thought about releasing all the worries from his mind, it proves to be much more difficult than his expectations could prepare him for. Questions flying through his mind like a wildfire. The pure amount short circuits his brain, leaving him frozen in place. His mouth can barely move at this point, letting out a very quiet word.
Reggie, while barely being able to hear him, understands what her brother says.
Otto can only muster a very stiff nod. Reggie looks over towards his house, barely visible from the window. She thinks to herself for a second before voicing her thoughts out loud.
"He has been going through a lot. We could have him over to…"
Just then, a sound completely takes her by surprise.
She looks back over to see her brother no longer frozen, but clearly in worry. His voice powerful enough to knock her off the bed. Reggie, in a state of confusion, questions her brother.
"Okay. What is going on between you and Twister? You have seemed mad at him or something for a long time. What gives?"
Otto finally is able to look at his sister in the eyes. The thoughts are gone in his head. Holding back on it was no longer an option. For his own sake, he had to say it.
"I'm not mad at him. But I think he's going to be mad at me."
Reggie, still stuck in confusion, continues the questioning.
"Why would he be mad at you? You guys are best friends."
Otto looks at her. He knows in his head, it's going to take some explaining.
"A few months ago, I was at Twist's house, finding his camera so he could tape Rick do a trick. You remember?"
Reggie leans closer towards her brother as she answers.
"Yeah I remember."
"Well, Twister was looking downstairs. I was looking in his room. And I found, well…"
Otto gets back to his nervous state for a second, looking towards the window again. After a few seconds, he looks back at Reggie with a serious look.
"I found his journal."
Reggie gives a look of surprise to her brother.
"Oh. Well you didn't.."
As she looks at her brothers eyes, she sees the answer to her question on his face. She shakes her head before quickly changing her question.
"What did it say?"
Otto looks down at the floor again, still clearly nervous. Reggie looks at her brother intently, waiting for an answer. After another ten seconds and a deep sigh, Otto finally gives her a response.
"He wrote about liking...well…."
Reggie leans off the bed and towards Otto, anticipating his next words.
Otto looks up to her with eyes suddenly full of tears.
Reggie looks at her brother in surprise.
"He wrote that he liked you? Like, "Liked" you? Like, in words."
Otto nods his head.
"He didn't use my name, but I know it's me."
She moves off the bed and sits next to her brother, as she looks for more answers.
"How do you know it's you? What did it say?"
Otto, in a fluster and full of emotion, responses as clear as he can.
"He wrote about a boy he sees all the time and how he knows he likes him. How amazing he is and what not. It has to be me. I just know it."
Reggie notices the struggle Otto is having finishing his sentence, through the tears that now fill his eyes.
"Twister has been really close to you for a long time. Why would that be a bad thing?"
Otto instantly looks to her and responds with a strong tone.
"Why is it bad? Reg, I'm not attracted to Twister like that! He's my bro. I'd wanna do anything for Twist, but like, lovy dovy stuff with my bro?"
Otto's feelings overwhelm him again, as he struggles to continue his words. Reggie, putting her arm around her brother in support, tries to help him finish what he's thinking.
"You're not into boys romantically, right? And you're afraid to break his heart?"
Otto, with tears continuing to fall off his face like a running waterfall, nods his head in agreement. Reggie puts her other arm around her brother, embracing a full hug, as he continues to let out his tears on her shoulder. Seeing her brother in this state is completely foreign to the older sister. Otto NEVER let anyone see this, not even him crying over losing competitions. She did see him cry in his room alone during really tough times, but not like this. All she can do is whisper to herself as she holds her brother.
"Oh man, Oh man, Oh man…"
After a good minute, Reggie lets go of her brother and faces him yet again, looking at the always strong and confident sibling's exhaustion and fear in his eyes. The pain in his expression is so overwhelming, Reggie can not contain her own tears, as she tries to find the right words.
"Otto, the two of you have been so close for so long. I know you two will figure this out in your own way. And you know Sam, myself and everyone else in the crew are gonna help both of you get through this. I mean, I knew something had to be going on with how you've been acting around him and thank goodness I understand now. I just…"
She looks back towards the window, looking at Twister's house and having her mind explode with thoughts, like an explosion. Reggie, after a few more moments of thought, looks back to her brother in confidence.
"I know this is something that has to be tough for Twist too. Especially if he's holding back how he feels about his best friend. Do you think you should talk to him about it, or…"
Otto once again looks up swiftly at his sister, with a look of shock and frustration.
"How would I ever bring that up without devastating him? I mean, he's just recovering from the whole "Lars" incident. And even before that, he seemed pretty happy. If he's that good at acting like he's okay, he should be the one in front of the camera, instead of behind it. So long as he's happy, after everything that's happened recently, I don't wanna take that away from him."
Reggie, while not sure how to respond, can understand what he means. While this clearly takes its toll on Otto, Twister had already been through so much. Her brother clearly cares about Twist enough to avoid adding more to his plate. While Otto might not share the feelings, Twist was still family. That only left her one thought to say to her struggling brother.
"Well then we'll wait until he's ready. I'll support you until then, whenever you need it. When he is ready to tell you, I'll be there to help in any way. Just be honest. Twister will come around. So long as he knows you are his brother for life, I'm sure he'll come around. And we will make sure of that. All of us."
Otto, still a mess emotional, fearfully asks his sister his worry.
"Please don't tell me you're telling the crew? This is…"
Reggie quickly interrupts her brother with a sense of comfort.
"I'm not telling anyone until you two are ready to tell us. But when you are, we'll be here. I speak for us all. This crew is family, and always will be. No matter what. Hell, Rick is still family to me after everything we went through. That never changes. Understand?"
Otto, with the tiniest smirk, nods to his sister yet again. The siblings embrace for one more big hug, as Reggie stands up off the bed.
"I'll give ya space to calm down. I'm always here Otto."
Otto sheepishly responds.
They both share a smile before Reggie walks out of the room. As she shuts the door, she finishes her original mission when she ventured upstairs and returns to the living room. As she sits down, she sees Sam on the couch next to her, in a very contemplative state. Sam fidgets his fingers, clearly nervous about something.
He does not respond at first. Reggie increases the volume of her voice.
Almost like being shocked from the cushion of the couch, Sam jumps from his spot to look at the girl sitting next to him.
"Oh geez. Sorry Reg."
Reggie, already with a jumbled brain, now looks to Sam in concern.
"Are you okay? What happened?"
Sam goes back to fidgeting his fingers, looking sheepishly at Reggie before responding.
"Well I was worried about where you were and I came upstairs to look for you…"
Reggie's face goes almost pale as Sam continues.
"I overheard you and Otto's talk. I know I shouldn't have, but I was scared about you…"
Reggie, shaking off the shock, comforts her new boyfriend.
"It's okay, Sam. How much did you hear?"
He looks to her, pressing his lips together from the tension.
"Pretty much all of it. The journal. The lovy dovy. All of it."
Reggie begins to tear up again. The whole day has taken a drastic toll. From the night with Sam, to Otto's rare moment of opening up to her. Now Sam knows it all too, and Otto did not want anyone in on this. It was all becoming too much. Before she can comprehend the situation, Sam hugs her. While it takes her by surprise, it is something she is in need of, at that moment. Afterwards, she looks to Sam, who reassures his girlfriend.
"Reg, I promise on my life no one else will know. I'm sorry I listened in. I just wanted to make sure you were okay. Is there anything I can do?"
She looks to Sam, shaking her head at the same time and still struggling to fathom this entire situation.
"I am okay Sam. I'm worried about Otto a lot though. I don't know what to make of all this."
She looks at the mute television in a daze. After a few seconds, she decides to pose Sam a question.
"What do you think?"
Sam looks to Reggie with a look of surprise, as he responds.
"What do you mean?
Reggie motions her body to face Sam head on, as she tries to comprehend the mess in her brain.
"What do you think we can do for Otto and Twister? I'm scared of what will happen between them. I mean, they've been brothers forever."
Sam starts to go deep in thought. This was a difficult situation, indeed. The conversation he overheard was not entirely clear to his ears. But he knew the important parts. The journal and crush. Otto's fear of Twister's reaction to him not sharing romantic feelings. It was definitely something he never thought would be a problem between two of his best friends. Liking another boy was something they only really saw in the news or on TV. In real life, it was a stunning revelation to Sam. Finding a solution where everyone could be happy did seem tough. There was one question that was on Sam's mind.
"Well I think Twister definitely has those kind of feelings. And I'm sure Otto is struggling with the idea of a relationship."
Reggie gives a nod of agreement as Sam continues.
"Well, I guess I question if Otto even knows what those kind of feelings are. I mean, does he even know if he can have those feelings for someone."
Reggie tries to translate Sam's thoughts, in an attempt to understand her boyfriend.
"You think Otto could be capable of dating Twist?"
Sam thinks deeper, taking his time with his jumbled thoughts.
"I'm not sure. Dating Twister seems tough, since he's family. I wonder if Otto understands what those feelings are like. I do not doubt that he could have feelings like that, for a boy or girl. But Twister…"
He looks at Reggie with a strain to his thoughtful face.
"I'm not sure Otto can even see Twister that way. Man, this sucks."
Reggie looks down in disappointment. Everything Sam says rings true in her head. Yet the truth in there being no happy ending to the situation is hard for her to cope.
"Yeah. All we can do is be there for both of them."
Sam sees the struggles of his girlfriend and gives his bode of confidence to her.
"Hey, Harmony always says we can tackle anything. Otto and Twister are way too close to let this bother them. We're all gonna get through this."
As Sam finishes his sentence, the door handle begins to move. They both look towards the door to notice someone walk in. Wearing a dark hoodie and sweatpants, earbuds still in and looking straight to the ground as he walks into the house. He shuts the door and takes off his shoes, before looking up and noticing Sam and Reggie on the couch. Before anyone else can, Raymundo speaks up.
"Geez Rick, where in the world have you been? You know how late it's getting?"
Rick removes his ear buds and answers without even looking up at Raymundo.
"I said I was going to visit Twist and Anna. I know Harm's there, but I was worried."
Raymundo answers in frustration.
"Well next time you have to tell me, Rick. I know you do your own thing and what not, but I have to know where you're going. I'm responsible for you. Understand?"
Rick looks to Raymundo, sighs softly, and nods his head. Raymundo shakes his head as he heads up the stairs.
"I need the rest before work. You're welcome to stay the night, Sam. Too late to be heading home now. Just let your mother know. Get to bed soon, guys."
All three answer with a simple "Night." to Raymundo, as he quickly hustles his way into his room. Rick, still collecting himself, look to the two on the couch.
"I'm gonna take a wild guess and say you two had a good night together?"
Reggie gives Rick a full smile before looking at Sam.
"Yeah, we did."
Rick, chuckles and gives a strong smile of his own before looking to Sam.
"That's good to hear. I'mma chill outside for a good while."
Rick, before walking away, looks towards Sam.
"About time ya told her, Sam. Seriously, I'm happy as hell for both of you."
Sam and Reggie look at each other in a smile as Reggie answers.
Sam blushes and hugs Reggie once again. Rick smiles and he walks to the fridge, grabs a water and exits the doors to the usual spot of his. He goes to his bench, sits down, and looks to the stars. The words Tito utter to him continue to cross his mind. He thinks out loud to himself.
"Forget the past? I wish I knew how, Tito…"
Rick lies on his back on the bench, looking at the stars in the sky intently. The strange feeling around him is something he is used to.
The fear of making the next mistake always flies like a cloud attached to his brain. While he always understood Tito's advice, practicing the lesson did tend to be a struggle. He goes back into his pocket and pulls out the picture one more time. He quietly utters to himself yet again.
"You two have so much in common."
After a small smile and a quick chuckle, he puts it away and moves the wallet back into his pocket. Looking to the skies one more time, he takes a deep breath and repeats Tito's words to himself again and again.
"If you don't forget the past, you can forget the future…"
Rick continues to stare deep in thought at the sky. For each of the kids, thinking this much was beginning to be a struggle. For some, the thoughts are happy and overwhelming joy. For others, a harsh reality of how quick things can change. The scale of life has a strange way of balance. Tipping back and forth between joy and sadness. Fear and confidence. Elation and devastation. Even physically apart from one another, their connection to each other as a crew continues to give them strength through it all. Luckily, the scales would soon balance back towards joy, confidence and elation for each of them in the crazy, wild ride of life...