Chapter 18 - Fell On Black Days (Soundgarden ; 1994)*

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*mature content ahead: read at your own discretion*

I think it's safe to say my parents love Brendon. Mom kept gushing about what a handsome man he was, and Dad liked that he could talk to him about almost anything and Brendon would have an intellectual yet witty response. Dad loved to laugh about things like that, so he caught on to Brendon pretty quickly.

Dinner was going smoothly, banter being passed all around the table and we were just having fun. I've never seen Brendon in this light, and yet he's doing very well warming up to my parents. I don't think they could hate him even if they tried.

"Danielle, this is delicious," Brendon said with a large hint of awe in his voice. "I've never had anything like this."

My mother blushed and thanked him as she sipped from her wine. "Did your mother not cook like this," she asked as she set down her glass with furrowed brows.

"She did what she could for the most part," he answered her softly. "We weren't really well off when I was growing up, and being the youngest of all my siblings meant that I didn't really have the opportunities that they all had as they grew up. The only real difference is that I'm the only one who made it to college."

My mother nodded and continued to eat as my dad turned to Brendon. "You say you want to be a performer, right?"

Brendon nodded vigorously as he swallowed his water. "Yes, sir, absolutely. It's all I've ever wanted."

My dad nodded and furrowed his brows a bit. "Please tell me it's not just so you can have money," he pleaded softly. "Most performers you see nowadays are only in it for the payroll, not for the love of it."

Brendon furrowed his brows and shook his head. "No, sir," he answered firmly yet gently. "I couldn't care less if I never earn a cent from pursuing this. I just want people to see what I have to offer and hopefully like it enough to allow me to continue. Music is my life, and I won't mess it up."

Dad smiled genuinely at Brendon and nodded his head, reaching over and clapping his shoulder. "Then you've already got it figured out more than most people do, son," he said happily. Brendon couldn't keep the smile off of his face because my dad had basically just told him that he was proud of him, and God, was it a sight to see.

The conversation fell back to mindless chatter and banter before my mother turned to me with an expression showing that she had just remembered something. "Ryan," she said animatedly, "Spencer told us that you have some very exciting news! He wouldn't tell us what it was, he said it'd be better if we heard it from you."

I felt my lips curl into a smile and Brendon reached under the table and placed his hand on top of mine and I nodded softly. "W-Well," I said as I scratched the back of my neck, "y-you guys know of Frank Iero? He's the curator at the Contemporary Art Museum in Chicago?"

Both of my parents nodded, and it didn't surprise me that they knew of him because I always talked about him. "W-Well, he and my arts teacher Mr. Way are husbands," I watched both of their faces reshape into shock but they nodded nonetheless, "and he c-came to give an analysis of all of our w-works."

I paused for a moment to let them take in the information, causing my father to make a motion with his hands telling me to proceed. My smile widened even more and I gripped Brendon's hand under the table. "H-He loved my art," I said simply. "So much so, that he has a-asked me to travel to Chicago at the end of this month to make an entire display of drawings of Brendon for the museum."

My mother's hands instantly went up to cover her mouth as she let out a noise of surprise. My father almost knocked over his chair getting up to come over to me. I stood up as he got to me and wrapped me in a hug, whispering his praises and how proud he was of me into my ear as my mother joined in. She then motioned Brendon to join and it just became an entire group hug between the four of us. Mom began to gush about how I was growing up too quickly and Dad was just so happy that I think every other emotion had just left him.

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