Comforting Lie
Chapter Thirty-Seven
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Twenty-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven
Chapter Thirty-Eight
Chapter Thirty-Nine
Chapter Forty
Chapter Forty-One
Chapter Forty-Two
Chapter Forty-Three
Chapter Forty-Four
Chapter Forty-Five
Chapter Forty-Six
Chapter Forty-Seven
Chapter Forty-Eight
Chapter Forty-Nine
Chapter Fifty
Chapter Fifty-One
Chapter Fifty-Two

Aaron stretched fluidly, wincing as his bones cracked to life beneath tired, pillow-creased skin. With a loud, sleep-thick groan, he rolled over and opened one eye towards the neon green light of his alarm clock.


He blinked. He stared. He was about to roll back over in annoyance when he realized that the little light signifying PM was blinking right back at him.

One o'clock in the afternoon? Holy shit!

He yanked off the covers and jumped into a sitting position, both feet landing solidly on the floor. The rushing of blood to his head colored the edges of his vision bright silver. Both hands flew to his temples as his stomach threatened to empty itself. Okay, so sitting up quickly was a dumb idea, but I'm going to be late to rehearsal, dammit! Cal's probably going to eat my head.

He began plotting various ways to kill his two roommates as he struggled towards the door. It creaked open slowly, announcing his entrance to the rest of the apartment. He was halfway to the bathroom when he noticed Theresa sprawled out on the floor eating popcorn. He backtracked.

All five feet and eleven inches of Cara were stretched out on the couch while her fingers turned the pages of a wrinkled paperback. He bit back a smile. She never did take very good care of her books. She was forever spilling things on them, and...

Why the hell is everyone lounging in the living room?

"Look! He really IS still alive!"

Unfortunately for Aaron, the wheels were turning too slowly for him to formulate a comeback before Cara's eyes strayed from the pages.

"Morning," she greeted with a grin. "Sleep well?"

He thought he was glaring, but he wasn't entirely sure. "I think. Why the hell are you guys still here?"

"Day off, baby!" Theresa hollered. "Didn't you get the memo?"

He flinched. Sarcasm and loud noises were definitely not a good combination so shortly after waking.

"They come twice a week," Cara offered with a chuckle. "They're called weekends, babe."

Like a cartoon in slow motion, a lightbulb finally sprung to life above his head. Oh...

"We decided to let you sleep. You looked exhausted."

Cara slid to a sitting position, and Aaron crashed onto the couch, leaning his head in her lap as he stretched his tired limbs.

"I was."

She began rubbing his head with one hand, running her fingers through his sandy blond hair. His eyes fluttered closed, and the corners of his lips curved upward.

"Are you feeling any better?"

Cara's voice was tender and concerned.

"Yeah, just dizzy," came the barely-there reply. "God, that feels good."

Theresa watched the scene with unabashed amusement. It's about time something happened between those two. She had watched them all week, waiting for either or both to crack beneath the weight of sexual tension. Unfortunately, Aaron's persistent cold and Nick's apparent transformation had made it difficult for the two to get any alone time.

She was suddenly tempted to move her popcorn binge to the bedroom.

"What do you guys have planned for the rest of the day?"

Theresa and Cara shared a smile over Aaron's head, and Theresa answered around a mouthful of popcorn. "Absolutely nothing."

Aaron chuckled. "Perfect."

"You feel like taking another nap?"

He groaned. "Hell no. I slept forever, man. I'm all slept out."

Cara laughed, a delightful lilting sound that made Aaron smile. He opened his eyes, and brown locked with brown as their smiles slowly faded.

On the floor, Theresa decided that getting up would be too obvious. Instead, she yanked a TV Guide off the end table and began nonchalantly flipping through it.

"You have really pretty eyes."

It came out barely above a whisper, just a gravely breath to complement the ticking of the clock, but the slight raise of Cara's brow allowed that she had heard him.


They were so heartbreakingly cute that Theresa couldn't conceal her smile.

"You do, too."

Aaron blushed crimson, and the embarrassment of a first-rate fancy crackled in the silence.

"I'm going about this all wrong, huh?"

Cara laughed lightly, shyly, just like a girl with a crush. "Not at all."

"Sorry. You've just always struck me as one of those `shower me with compliments' kind of girls."

She cocked her head to the side and furrowed her brow. "Really? How so?"

"You're just such a lady about everything," Aaron laughed. "So proper about it all. And then there's me, and I'm just so...not proper."

"You're the sweetest not proper guy I know," Cara offered with a shy smile.

Theresa couldn't hold back any longer. "Man, musical theater is SUCH a bad influence on the two of you."

Slowly, the tension of a budding relationship fizzled, and the two on the couch turned towards their increasingly cynical friend in surprise.

"I don't..."

"What the...?"

Theresa rolled her eyes good-naturedly at their confusion. She'd had enough crushes to appreciate their situation, but it didn't mean that she was going to cut them any slack. Hell, I've had to live with them like this long enough. I deserve to torment them a little. "Oh, don't play dumb. You know exactly what I'm talking about. Do you want me to start the `Love Scene' chorus now or later?"

At the mention of Fame, both thespians let out loud groans.

"That's just mean," Cara muttered in disdain.

"Yeah," Aaron agreed petulantly. "There's no way in hell I was THAT corny."

"I don't know, kiddo," Theresa laughed. "You might surprise yourself."

"Not to that extent," Aaron grumbled. "I'm not about to break into a verse of 'I Hope I Make PA.'"

Cara cast him a sympathetic smile. "Hon, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think you're about to break into a verse of anything."

"He couldn't if he wanted to," Theresa fired. "Cal's orders. He's supposed to be healing."

"You can't say I'm not following the bed-rest orders, though," Aaron retorted. "I've already slept half the day away."

"And you're looking to spend the other half in Cara's lap," Theresa finished with a grin.

"I'm certainly not moving him."

Theresa was incredulous. Aaron was triumphantly content.

"Ha! See? Cara loves me."

Any other female would have blanched at the nonchalant use of the L-word, but the southern belle on the overstuffed leather simply squeezed her ailing charge and threw a shit-eating grin towards her surprised roommate.

"Indeed she does."

Theresa rolled her eyes and shook her head, in that order. "Y'all are gonna give me a heart attack."

"I certainly hope not."

"Yeah, we kinda like you where you are."

She took it as an invitation and made herself comfortable. As if on cue, the sick one let out a low groan.

"Aw, man, I shouldn't have said that. Now she's never going to leave us alone."

"Should I?"

Something in Theresa's tone immediately altered the casual tone of conversation, and when the other two donned serious expressions, she continued. "Are you guys really going to go through with this couple thing?"

The aforementioned pair exchanged a shrug.

"We hadn't really talked about it," Cara admitted. "Things have been kind of crazy lately."

Theresa knew exactly what "things" her friend was referring to. "I'd like to go through with the whole couple thing," Aaron admitted quietly. "I mean, we might want to wait to make sure this cold doesn't kill me, but after that..."

Cara frowned down at him. "Aaron, you're going to be fine."

He let out an ambitious moan of frustration, and Theresa took the disastrous sound as her cue to exit.

"It doesn't feel like it."

Her voice was whisper-soft and maternally soothing. "I know, honey, but you're already sounding better, and you've got a whole 'nother day of rest lined up when this one calls it quits."

When he didn't even crack a smile at her southernisms, she knew something was really wrong.


He grunted.

"Honey, what's wrong?"

He reached up his arms for a hug, and she obliged with a concerned frown.


He interrupted her quickly, his voice muffled by her shoulder. "I'm scared, C."

She pulled back slightly. "Why?"

"This cold. Opening night is in a week. I can't afford to be sick."

Her face fell sympathetically with the sigh he expelled.

"I'm serious, C. I did this for me, right? I've always wanted to do serious music, but I never thought I could. Now that I KNOW I can, I want to prove to everyone else that I can do it. I can't prove jack shit to people if I can't sing."

Her heart constricted, and one hand began rubbing his stomach gently in consolation.

"I should be better by now."

She sighed. "I know, honey, but you've been under a lot of stress lately..."

"Fuck the stress!"

Cara jumped. She had seen Aaron in a variety of moods, especially since Nick's arrival, but she could count on one hand the number of times she had seen him yell.


"Don't 'Aaron' me, Cara. I'm serious. Fuck the stress, fuck my sympathy, and FUCK my stupid-ass older brother."

Her voice was soft, but firm enough to halt his temper tantrum. "Aaron Charles, you don't mean that."

"Yeah, I do," he grunted. "I'm serious. I mean it."

"No you don't."

He hissed out a long breath, the force of which seemed to deflate him completely. "Maybe not yet, but I want to."

She heaved a sigh. "I know."

"And shit, C, now he's showing up to rehearsals and bringing me soup and wanting to be friends again. What the hell am I supposed to do, huh? I wish it were as simple as 'hey, Nick, you're an asshole but I love you anyway,' but it's not. There's too much that's happened."

"And you can't just forgive and forget."

"No!" Aaron cried. "Well…the forgiving thing is easy, but the forgetting thing...that's just never going to happen. I wish I could forget, but I wish I could be a coldhearted bastard even more." His features darkened as he remembered all that his brother had put him through. "That's what he really deserves."

Cara cast a half-nervous, half-sympathetic look downwards. "Do you really think that?"

Aaron laughed hollowly. "Sometimes, yeah. And then I hate myself for it, because I'm supposed to be his fucking support system." There was a moment of silence before he spoke again. "You know what I really want?"


The younger man sighed. "I want him to admit to everything. Even better, I want him to fucking apologize for it. He never owned up to all the shit he put us through. He just kind of ignored everyone until he felt better, and then he played the 'poor me' hand until we started talking to him again."

Cara's brow furrowed. "Who is 'we'?"

"Me." His voice was small and tear-filled. "Just me."

"You were the only one that kept coming back."


Cara took a deep breath and decided to step out onto shaky ground. "A, maybe you should talk to him about this."

Aaron's eyes closed, and a single tear slid through his lashes and down his left cheek. "I can't, C."

"Why not?"

His eyes opened up to hers, wide brown pools edged in red and reluctance. "Because, if I do that, I might never get him back."