So I guess it's the first fic about Batrina here (or wherever for that matter) and I admit, I was pretty anxious to publish that. Mostly because I've seen many comments showing dislike for Brian and for the idea of Batrina becoming a thing. I can not only understand that, I also agree with the opinion cheating sucks, is disrespectful and shouldn't happen. At the same time, I can understand the heart wants what it wants and life isn't black or white.
It's full of greys and I intend on present there a full spectrum of them. Contrary to what you may assume right now, this story isn't about plain cheating. Maybe it isn't even about cheating at all? This decision you'll have to make on your own. Honestly, I don't know it either.
Life also likes to surprise us, leave us speechless and lost. How many times were you asking yourself - what the hell am I supposed to do now? Or worse, how am I supposed to feel? Am I overreacting? Was I wrong all along?
Uncertainity is one of few constants in this crazy time we are given on Earth. They will experiance it too.
But enough spoilers!
If you're under eighteen, at some point you will have to close your eyes. I don't own the characters. I own just the twisted plot in front of you.
(Because she's not over him and neither am I)
"Uuu, man, have you seen that chick?"
Brian slowly lifts up his face after an endless rub to his eyes and tries to follow the line of sight of his friend. "No, God. But she's hot… Not your league tho," he snorts, looking at the other guy.
"Not your either."
"Well, at least it looks like I have a class with her and you don't," Altman smirks, noticing the girl passing through the door he will in a seconds.
"Ugh, you lucky bastard!"
For the longest time she doesn't notice him. On the other hand, he isn't really trying to make her notice him either. He focuses on three things he likes the most: music, writing and debates. Brian spends a lot of time polishing his talking skills and more often he starts to hear he should think of a career as a lawyer. Usually he tries to laugh it off, but as surreal as the idea seems to be (there's no way his parents will ever be able to afford that), the seed was planted in his brain, waiting for a right moment to grow.
He's not one of those cool guys, yet it doesn't bother him as well. He has his group of friends and whenever they have an occasion they meet for karaoke or singing in front of a bonfire. He's more of a piano guy but does on his acoustic guitar just as good. It feels so right to share music with other people, even though their voices aren't so clear and they never finish singing high tunes, breaking it with laughter. Sometimes, they ask him to sing what he has written and as nervous as it makes him feel, he complies. One night when clapping stops he sees Julie walking into his direction with a smile, making his stomach erupt in butterflies and he wonders if she was there for the whole time.
Quickly he learns aspects about her he didn't expect. Some of them she tells him, another half he just observes. He has that picking skill he inherited after his mother, perceiving things that people usually are oblivious to. He even made mental list about her:
has a beautiful laugh,
loves when he plays for her,
everything about her is so lively,
she doesn't hesitate with words or decisions,
okay, she's beautiful as a human being, no just her laugh,
she literally never hesitate about anything and this impulsiveness disturbs rational part of him,
she's from well positioned family, an only child and her father is a lawyer,
she likes adrenaline rush way more than he does, but his willing to be more elastic about it,
she has ways to get what she wants (she's stubborn),
she adores his humor even though he can swear big part of what he says isn't even funny.
It's the tip of an iceberg of what he wants to know about her. Actually, as he chases after her in the middle of the night into the lake, after the ride in his parents car he borrowed to sneak out, he decides he wants to know everything. Water around his calves is freezing, yet his heart is on fire and he's in love for a first time.
He knows it's silly, these kind of dreams more girls area than boys, but he cannot stop himself. He watches her sleep next to him, her body exhausted after love they made and his body is too, it's his mind that doesn't let him rest. He always wanted his first love to be his last one – hours spent with his cousins on watching princesses movies clearly taking its tool – and deep down he felt it's going to happen. That it's happening right now.
Visions of their future are flashing in front of his eyes and he doesn't want to contain the smile. He will ask her father for her hand and he will propose in a romantic atmosphere. They will go through college together, whatever they will decide to do. They will get married and this dazzling young woman will have his name. They will move in together (wherever it will be) and they will arrange their place together. They will have each other backs in a way toward their goals. He will always try to fulfill her wishes. She will bear his children and they will be a family.
On its own accord, his hand rises to caress her face as the warm feeling spreads inside of him.
He's going to have it all with Julie.
It's a promise.
Three blows hits him at once.
First. He gets to know the reason why Tony never picked him out for an interview at Princeton. He has never felt so stupid as Tony's little brother was telling him the truth behind the bullshit story he had believed in so blindly. Where were his observing skills when he needed them?! In that moment he couldn't tell if he was more furious with Tony or himself. There's huge chance he is never going to see this bastard ever again as his life will be in Brian's dreamed college, so unfortunately he won't punch him in the face for what he did. Yet, he finds himself in a huge temptation to beat himself for an idiotic idea to trust his rival. It takes him a while before he decides there's no use crying over spilt milk and he has to move on.
Second. Later that day his future father-in-law asks him to join him in the garden for a walk. It doesn't bode good but he follows him without further words. Hard to say what the conversation is going to be about, he waits for the older man to start. Truth be told, what he hears are not matters any future son-in-law would like to hear. He understands where Julie's parent protectiveness comes from, yet it doesn't make listening to a lecture about choosing his major wisely any easier. Brian knows music is not going to give him steady job (if any) and how much one earn in that particular business is a lottery, but he doesn't need remainder of that. Henry (that's Julie's father name) is not opposed to them as a couple, but he expects Brian to be the sensible one in their relationship as he is familiar with his daughter nature.
To sooth his worries, Brian tells him about his activity in school debate team and interest in law and he is meet with a nod. The man next to him is probably aware Brian's parents don't have money for that kind of education, that's why his response is so short but younger man swiftly assures him his grades are high enough he can try for a scholarship. Information is welcomed with more pleased expression and that's when Henry incidentally says that he hopes Brian can give Julie life on the same level she has now.
Part of Brian wants to counter as he doesn't see his girlfriend as a damsel in distress and she can work for her success too, but he shuts himself up and promises he will do everything in his power to meet his hopes. Though the part where he is told he won't get her father's blessing without the prenup, he would rather not think about. He doubts there is a clearer warning to stay away from their family money, another reminder there will be no shortcuts for him.
So it's set now – he is going to be a lawyer and he is going to work hard for that.
Third. When he returns to their house, he finds Julie in her room, casually flipping through the channels in the television. The second she sees him, she bombards him with questions why he was so sad today and what her father wanted. He sits next to her and patiently answers those inquiries, step by step explaining his day. He knows he is inevitably reaching the point when he has to tell her he chose law over music and he knows she's going to react badly, just as she does. She shouts he is wasting his talent, that law is the worst possible choice and she didn't know she's dating a yes-man. It sparks anger in him, his limits of understanding running low after a crappy day, but he tries to keep it down. The thing he really cannot comprehend is why she cares so much about him becoming a musician and when he asks her about it, she huffs something under her nose about being cool and tells him to go away, she's not in the mood to deal with him now. He has a sense it's actually the other way around, yet he bites his tongue, bids her goodnight and leaves, too tired for another fight this day.
After many, many talks (scratch that, fall outs) Julie seems to finally came to terms with him choosing law over music, what brings him peace. Paralegal studies seems like a reasonable choice, maybe even making up for never going to Princeton, as he hopes. She – on the other hand – isn't really interested in continuing her education, but her parents insisted to do at least Bachelor's degree, so she opted for Human Resources Management, as she has seen it as an easy major.
And days go by. He studies hard, more and more falling in love with articles and loopholes, she does bare minimum to pass her classes. He stays up late to memorize paragraphs, she oversleeps for midday lectures. He gets afternoon and weekend shifts at a local bar, she usually doesn't even have to count the money to live through the month. But despite these superficial differences – their relationship doesn't suffer, some may even say it thrives. They go dancing at evenings, she steals his breaks at work to eat together, sometimes they skip school in favor for making love. Julie actually never stops to whimper about how boring law is and how she cannot understand his fondness for it, but he grows so accustomed to it, it doesn't bother him anymore.
After the graduation, Julie and her girlfriends decide to make a month long trip around the country, so they don't see each other then as he works his internship as a paralegal in a bigger town near theirs. She calls two or three times a week and he waits impatiently, wishing to hear about their adventures. To his distress, they mostly consist of partying and unfortunately he knows how Julie party, so he pleases her to be careful. After last spring's events part of him is still uneasy about her doing something irresponsible, yet he chooses to trust she's not going to break her promise. That's what relationships are all about, right? Trust and love. When she swears she will be back safe and sound, he tells himself to stop overacting. She's a grown woman, who should already know her limits.
However, when he sees her on the train station, he has a feeling some awkwardness fell upon them. She kisses him on the cheek, not on the lips and insist to take her home, saying she's super tired and dehydrated and needs to sleep it off. Despite uneasiness in his stomach, he fulfills her demand.
Next day he meets her and everything is back to normal, she assures him that she's fine and they go to the cinema like always. He figures out that if she's so chatty and energetic, nothing terrible happened and there is no sense in pushing for more information, making her annoyed (which she's certainly going to be) so soon. He will keep an eye on her though.
After all, it's just good to have her close.
Despite having it in mind for a long, long time, Brian decides to make an honest woman out of Julie when he is already in the law school. He's proud of his scholarship in a Columbia University, which is Ivy League nonetheless and his life starts to be going in the right direction with his part time job as a paralegal in the Financial Department one of the firms in New York. Sometimes he's met with laugh and jokes, but it's a solid job simultaneously giving him work experience that will pay off in the future. Truth be told, there are also other reasons he waited so long to make the final move – both of them carrying the name Harris. Julie's father, who's blessing was for Brian a key without which he wouldn't even try to open up that door and Julie herself. The events of their past, good and bad ones, made him reevaluate their relationship few times and he needed to make sure, that each time he comes to the same conclusion. Eventually, he did.
The proposal (despite not being the one he dreamed of) is taken straight out of the movies Julie loves to watch – in a romantic restauration, with him on one knee and a ring with a beautiful diamond (that he was saving for from the very beginning). To his surprise, she says yes without any hesitation and when he thinks about it later it's not surprising at all, because Julie acts and feels and lives, she doesn't overthink. The love they make this night is forever burned within his memory.
Julie Harris becomes Julie Altman in the August, three years after Brian's proposal. Now, when he is BAR lawyer, it is the highest time to officially make his fiancée his wife. The ceremony takes place in big and magnificent garden belonging to the elegant restaurant holding wedding reception. There is no priest to tie their lives together, despite greatest efforts on his and Julie's parents behalf, as Julie decided she is not going to let any cleric marry her. For Brian it's a pill hard to swallow, because he thinks he believes in God and would love to vow in front of Him love to this woman, but he caves and lets her have her way. At least he is in a control of music accompanying the wedding and even he mentally pats himself on the back with his choices.
Mussing about Julie walking down the aisle in long, fitting, sparkling with tiny jewels white dress will always make him goosebumps, but seeing her for the first time… He is breathless, words of his vows leaving him and tears gathering in his eyes. She smiles and comes to stand next, looking at him with that radiant grey eyes of hers. Time seems to speed up and halt at the same time and before he is ready to comprehend a logical thought, he is having a band on his finger and is kissing her in front of cheering guests.
Later on they sway to the romantic song in tight embrace, breathing each other presence as husband and wife, getting used to their new titles. He cracks some joke into her ear and she laughs and he can swear, it's the best day of his life. Everything is perfect, just the way it was supposed to be and he cannot wait get back with her to NY, the city of dreams and live their married life. Brian whispers his thoughts into Julie's ear and she confirms, what brings him a lot relief. As long as their feeling is mutual, they have nothing to worry about.
"Okay, nurse Joanna will wrap this little guy up and I would like to go with you through the examination, Mr. Altman," says little over fifty years old looking pediatrician, sitting behind his desk. He fixes his glasses back on his nose and starts typing on the computer on his left.
Brian gives one more look toward his son, who is currently being dressed back into his sleepers and entertained by young woman. She talks to the baby in sweet tone, bit higher than her usual one (he knows just because it's good to know your pediatric nurse, okay? It's not like that he's overprotective parent of first born, calling to the clinic every five minutes with random sneeze or bellyache… For the record, he only did that twice, he could do worse). Seeing Austin focused solely on the person in front of him – his toothless grin almost as wide as his face – he finally sits in front of the doctor.
"So, how's that go?"
"He is growing up and putting on weight just as he should. He also grew up out of most newborn reflexes, so it's within the norm. Every physical test I've run seems to be fine. You've got yourself pretty healthy son, Mr. Altman."
"That's very good to hear," he smiles, shooting a glance at the corner of the room where the subject of their conversation is being tickled and his baby laugh is mixing in the air with sounds of fingers moving over the keyboard.
"We also have his blood test results," older man stops in his tracks and turns to his right to fish an envelope out of pile on top of the desk. After checking four out of five, he finally finds what he is searching for and hands it to patiently waiting Brian. "There should be also information about how Austin's blood type has been marked, because as you know it is standard procedure to do this after few months from birth," he states calmly, going back to filling the gaps in a medical report.
Using the opportunity, Brian stretches his shoulders lightly and opens up white sheet, looking for any arrows indicating too high or too low level of some blood components and he doesn't find any, as he was hoping for. Then his eyes scan the bottom of the paper and he frowns, quickly going through the biology lessons from high school in his head. It just… doesn't add.
"I think the lab made some mistake," he says slowly, his gaze raising to medic's face. "Or maybe we took the test too soon to decipher Austin's blood type?"
Joanna glances at Brian above her shoulder, slight surprise on her face. "Why's that?" she asks, swinging the rattle in front of the baby before she gives it to him.
"Well, I'm O type and Julie is A. I'm sure about that," he states, his hand scratching the back of his head. "Or maybe it's fine? I don't remember very well these blood types crosses, we did some worksheets on that in school…" his voice falters, but his sight raises expediently.
"Mind if I'll look at that?" the pediatrician extends his arm for mentioned page and lawyer complies without the hesitation.
Doctor reads the expertise with scrutinizing eyes, muttering under his breath noises akin to rights and goods. Eventually he fixes his glasses once more and goes through second part of the test. With his other hand he makes few clicks using a mouse, his face indifferent and his moves efficient. Brian's attention shifts for a moment to his son, who takes great pleasure in trying to throw the toy and how it magically lands in his small hands again. The most important thing is he's healthy.
The doctor clears his throat to gain Brian focus and when he does, his expression is a bit apologetic. "I ordered new blood test to verify your concern, Mr. Altman, but I have to admit… the technology we use for that kind of examination is extremely rarely wrong."
"What does it mean?" he asks confused.
The look doctor and nurse shares for a second too long makes him even more uneasy.
"It means that… There is no possibility for person with O type and person with A type to have a baby that is AB type," the doctor speaks slowly and carefully, giving the man in front of him time to follow his train of thought. In his career he had to deal with situations like that few times and he knew how these terrible news shake families to the core. Ordering new set of tests is honestly just a formality because they never come back changed and he – the father of three – can't even imagine how cold the blow feels.
Realization sinks deep in lawyer's bones, his gaze blurred for a moment as his eyes roam from his son to the medic. But when their sights meet, there is no room for misunderstanding as Brian is given sad, reassuring grin that makes his gut clench.
It cannot be true. Julie would never ever do that to him. They have been together for fourteen years, they know each other inside out, there is no chance she would betray him like that. She wouldn't been able to keep that kind of secret away from him, it's even less possible than what the doctor said. He does know his wife, she has troubles to be quiet about what she bought him for Christmas, let alone about cheating.
This is the reason he had to leave ZSLWW altogether, because Julie said she is not going to believe him that nothing happened between him and Katrina until he drops the job and find another one. So he did – with so many mixed feelings he didn't try to name them to avoid getting more hurt. He has been ashamed with himself on so many levels: for developing strange kind of fondness he had for Katrina, for letting his wife doubt his loyalty, for not being entirely sorry about that fondness, for letting his career got hurt by his emotions. Julie was so mad at him that he still remembered her anger two months after that damned dinner.
In his peripheral vision he sees the nurse taking Austin in her arms and placing the baby on her hip, still playing with the rattle to keep baby amused. Deeply exhaling, Brian runs his fingers through his hair, completely bewildered.
"I'm sorry, do you try to implicate that he's not…" the man starts, but he loses the power to finish.
"Mr. Altman, I'm not trying to implicate anything. I'm stating facts… I'm deeply sorry that I have to be the person who broke it to you, but… biologically speaking it's unlikely for Austin to be your son."
It cannot be true. It's not happening. Brian's face contorts as the realization hits him and his heart sinks. Part of him – his lawyer side – wants to discuss, negotiate, quarrel, do anything he can to change the judgement he sees as unfair. He swallows thickly.
"How sure are you about it, Doctor?"
Older man sighs, watching the nurse putting boy in the stroller, fingers of his right hand tapping on the surface on the desk. "Ninety nine percent sure, Brian, I'm sorry." His gaze lingers on the infant being secured inside baby-carriage. "I've checked yours and your wife's medical profile and you're not wrong about both of your blood types and I have never got false blood test from our lab, so the only sensible thing is…"
Long pause follows and Brian's face is getting paler and paler with every second, yet his heartbeat increases. Breathing becomes harder, just like his ribcage got smaller between his last question and the answer, less oxygen cursing through his body. He tries to sort out his physiological responses in order to maintain composed impression. It's too much and he doesn't even started with his mental experiences.
Not getting attention from any adult for a moment, Austin begins to make malcontent grunts, close to crying. Out of habit, Brian reaches for him with his long arm, trying to sooth him by caressing his small head. The sensation of his tender hair under his palm feels kind of surreal in a new light doctor's words shed upon their lives. He has so much love for this tiny human, always considered his son a miracle – a gift of his and Julies affection, but right now… No, he can't get there. Not in clinic's room, not in front of these people who are already looking at him with pity. He's aware they try not to, by how fast their concerned stares shifted to whatever matters they could, hands busying themselves. Nurse Joanna starts to clean the examination area and doctor closes computer program.
He shuts his eyes briefly, biting an inside of his cheek.
"Is this appointment over?"
"Yes, yes it is. Everything I wrote is accessible for you online in your patient's catalogue in our application. As well with… blood test results," medic says, nodding to confirm his statement.
Lawyer stands up abruptly, paper sheet that broke his family clutched in one hand, the other moving to grasp tightly on the holder part of the stroller.
"Thank you for your time," he speaks kind of detached as he leaves the office.
Medical team shares one more glance and the doctor mutters under his nose, "It was easier before these all paternity leaves and caring fathers…"
Tell me what you think. If you didn't like it, I need to hear it too.