The dinner

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As Charlie got ready the day after he'd decided to spend his last days happy, he thought it was ridiculous that Patrick had decided to let his family know about them so soon. They were barely a week into their relationship. They had no idea how things were going to be; how Patrick would cope with Charlie's disease. What if days in and he decided it was just too much? He would have shattered his family's dreams all for nothing.

Charlie didn't doubt that Patrick loved him, but maybe they were moving too fast. Telling Patrick's family they were together could only end in two ways. Either they would be happy for them or they would be angry. At least one person would be angry either way.


Fabiola had made it no secret that she despised Charlie. She didn't think he was good enough. Charlie had at one point hoped that it was because he was a guy, but he knew it wasn't that. Fabiola didn't think he was good enough for Patrick, let alone the del Castillo family.

His self-esteem had taken a dip after he started believing Fabiola's lies. He didn't form friendships or get into a relationship only because he was picky. He didn't build walls only because he got his heart broken. Deep down, he felt inadequate, more so now that he had an incurable degenerative disease. He was nothing but a burden.

Patrick said he would pick him up at 7 pm. There were only a few minutes before 7 and Charlie wasn't ready. His hair refused to obey gravity. He'd parted it as usual and smoothed it on both side, but for some reason some strands just wouldn't stay flat. He adjusted the parting and tried again. They just wouldn't budge.

It was a sign.

The dinner wasn't supposed to be happening - at least with him as part of it. He didn't belong there and his stupid hair was reminding him of that. Besides his hair, he wasn't dressed well enough. His jeans were a year old. His plain blue shirt was a little too big for him. His navy blue blazer which admittedly looked really good did nothing to enhance his look. He was a plain Tom and he knew it.

"Someone is all dressed up today", Ariel said walking into the bathroom without knocking. She inspected her brother and looked pleased.

"You mean these old rags?" Charlie said with a nervous chuckle.

"You look really good in those old rags", Ariel said standing by the bathroom sink.

Charlie fixed his parting again after a glimpse at the mirror. "Aren't you programmed to mock my clothes?"

Ariel chuckled. "Every once in a while I malfunction. So what's the occasion?"

"Just dinner", Charlie replied quickly.

"With someone? You can't possibly have dinner out alone. Is my cooking that bad?"

"Not at all. You make the most amazing boiled eggs. What's your secret?" Charlie mocked.

"Ha-ha", Ariel said. "Hey, I've been meaning to ask", the nervousness in her voice was palpable, "Patrick...what did he want? Is everything okay with your treatment?"

"Everything is fine", Charlie said briefly.

Ariel's question had reminded him of his sickness, but foremost it had reminded him of his relationship with Patrick. What does he do now? Does he tell Ariel? What if it doesn't work out? Having someone else helping take care of Charlie would be a load off Ariel's shoulders. He'd wanted this; to have someone Ariel can lean on so she wouldn't bear the burden alone. But what if Patrick didn't last? Ariel would be crushed.

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