7.21: Interlude – Wisdom

The moment the knocking at his bedroom door reached his ears, Phoenix knew exactly who it was. There was no mistaking it.

With a soft sigh, he closed the textbook in front of him. He’d been trying so hard to study for his final exams, but it was nearly impossible to focus anyway.

“Did my Mama let you in?” He called out as the bedroom door slowly creaked open behind him.

Tam ignored his question, responding with one of his own. “Phee? Are you in here?” He asked uncertainly.

Phoenix rolled his eyes as he rose to his feet and finally turned to face his friend. “I just talked to you like three seconds ago, Tam. Who else could it be?”

The other boy shrugged. “I dunno. Could’ve been your evil doppelganger or something… Just making sure.”

Shaking his head, Phoenix took a seat on the edge of his bed, knowing Tam would follow suit. “What are you doing here?” He asked softly. “Wait, lemme guess — not only are you screwing my brother, but you’re gonna tell me you’re an axe murderer too, right?” There was a harsh, bitter edge to his sarcasm.

“You’ve seen the bodies in my basement.” Tam smiled as he spoke. “You already know I am.”

“Why does everything have to be some kind of freaking joke to you, Tam?!” Phoenix snapped. He just wasn’t in the mood for it. Not today.

His friend’s face fell. “Sorry.” He muttered as the smile vanished from his face. “Just trying to lighten the mood a little… I know that talk with your Papa was really hard. Jas told me about it.”

Of course he did. Ugh. “Yeah, well I had one with my Mama too…” Phoenix shook his head. “Did you know she was in jail when I was a baby?! She went to prison! For stealing!” He felt a hot prickling at the corner of his eyes. It was the first time he’d actually spoken the words aloud since their conversation the night before. “Guess it was around the same time Papa and Rubi met in freaking rehab.” He added bitterly.

Phoenix almost wished he’d been right, and that his Papa and stepmother had grounded him for the rest of his life. That would have been so much easier to hear.

Instead, they’d told him and Jasper how proud they were of them for leaving the party and not trying any of the drugs that had been passed around… And then they explained why.

It was one of the few times in Phoenix’s life that he’d found himself genuinely rendered speechless.

It all made sense now though… He’d always wondered why Erik and Rubi were always so fearful about him trying drugs or alcohol. But now he knew.

They don’t want me to end up like them.

And then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, as soon as he got back to his mother’s house, she decided to drop her own bombshell — this one even worse than his father’s.

It was another revelation that helped things suddenly make so much more sense than before. Part of him had always wondered why his mother was in barely any of his baby pictures… But it was because she couldn’t be. Because she was locked away in a prison for the first two years of his life.

They both told him how proud they were that he hadn’t touched any of the drugs at the party. They gave him these big speeches about choices and consequences and responsibility… But none of it mattered to Phoenix. All that mattered was that his parents had lied to him his whole life.

Tam’s brow furrowed slightly in concern. “That really sucks… But hey, look at it this way — at least your parents have some pretty kickass backstories.”

Phoenix rolled his eyes in irritation. “Ugh! There you go with your stupid jokes again…”

His friend simply shook his head. “I wasn’t joking though. Like, think about how high your Will and Fortitude would have to be to get past something crazy like an addiction… It’s like beating a level 20 boss with nothing but a freaking stick. It’s awesome!”

Phoenix shrugged, but said nothing. Easy for Tam to say… I bet his parents never did any awful shit like that!

When Phoenix remained silent, Tam continued. “Anyway, I know it was hard for Jas to hear too… But maybe weirdly inspiring, in a way?” He shrugged, his expression suddenly growing more serious. “He said he’s gonna tell his parents tonight… about us. And I don’t know why, but this is really eating away at him, no matter how many times I keep telling him it’s gonna be okay.” He paused for a moment to let out a sigh. “I had no problem talking to my Mama about it. But Jas is really freaked out. And I know you’re still mad and things are still weird, but I really think you should be there for him tonight, Phee. He needs you.”

Despite how serious their conversation was, Phoenix couldn’t help but laugh. “Wow. You sound just like my Mama…”

“Well, your Mama’s really smart, so I’ll take that as a compliment. Thanks!” Tam gave him a playful wink as he spoke.

Phoenix ignored the comment, his smile fading almost instantly as a wave of sadness washed over him. “If he really ‘needs’ me or whatever, why doesn’t he tell me himself then, huh? He’s been avoiding me like the freaking plague ever since that stupid party.”

“Yeah, well so have you!” To his surprise, Tam’s brow furrowed in anger. It was rare to see him so upset. “This is the first time you’ve said more than two words to either of us in over a week! And I get it — it was super fucking awkward. For all of us.” He paused to shake his head. “But it’s not like we can go back and do a re-roll on everything that happened. We’ve all just gotta deal with it… And that means sucking it up and talking to your brother, Phee.”

He shook his head slowly. How did Tam not get it? “Yeah, well that’s pretty freaking easy for you to say, Tam.” Phoenix replied at last. “You aren’t the one getting ditched here. So excuse me for not jumping for joy about that.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“You’re my best friend, Tam! Or you used to be… But now you’re gonna be hanging out with Jasper all the time and I’m gonna end up being this stupid third wheel you don’t need anymore.” It felt so silly to voice his feelings aloud… But Phoenix couldn’t help it. “I just don’t want things to change. But they’re going to. And it just sucks, okay?”

“So… you’re jealous, then? That’s what’s bothering you?” He asked. “You think I’m just gonna start ignoring you and you’re not gonna be my best friend anymore?”

Phoenix felt his cheeks grow slightly warm with embarrassment. “Yeah, I guess.”

It was a few moments before Tam finally replied. “Alright, Phee. You said no jokes, right? So let me be serious for a second.”

The corner of Phoenix’s mouth twitched, in spite of himself. “Are you sure you’re even capable of that?”

His friend shrugged, his own mouth curling into a small smile. “We’ll see, I guess?” Tam took a slow breath before continuing. “Do you remember back when we were kids? I’m talking way back when we first met each other. That big cosplay convention was happening downtown, but my Mama said I was too young to go… And do you remember what I did?”

Phoenix smiled. How could he forget? “You showed up to school with elf ears and this ugly little cape thing.”

“Um, pretty sure you mean Hobbit ears and a totally fabulous cloak.” Tam corrected him, chuckling softly. “But it was a pretty long time ago, so you probably forgot.” He teased. “Anyway, all the other kids were fucking awful. Probably worse than they ever were before. I’m pretty sure I spent half the day crying in the bathroom about it.”

Phoenix’s eyes widened slightly. He never realized all that teasing ever got to Tam so much. “But you didn’t take any of it off?” He asked.

“Of course not! Do you know how long me and my Mama worked on making that thing?! But it still hurt like hell… Until lunchtime.” Tam’s smile widened. “I was sitting all by myself, probably a few seconds away from bursting into tears again… Then you walked right over, sat down, and told me you liked my ears.”

“Why wouldn’t I? They were totally badass.” Phoenix’s voice was half-teasing. Talking to Tam was already making him feel so much better.

“Hey, I thought we had a no-joke rule going here.” Tam scolded him with a smile. “Anyway, the point is, I don’t know if you ever realized how much that meant to me. But it was everything, Phee. And that was when I realized three of the most important things I think I’ve ever learned…

“One, cosplay is fucking awesome. Two, it’s a total waste of time worrying about what those jackasses at school think of me. And three, you were gonna be the best friend I’d ever have in my life.” He placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder for a moment. “No one else is ever gonna understand me the way you do. And I’m always gonna need you. None of that’s ever gonna change, Phee… Whether I’m fucking your brother or not.”

Phoenix punched his friend sharply in the arm, laughing. “Jesus, Tam. Why’d you have to ruin it like that?!”

He smiled guiltily. “Sorry.”

With a chuckle, Phoenix pulled Tam in for a quick hug. He really needed to hear his friend say all of that, so much more than he’d realized. Of course Tam would always be his best friend… How could he ever think that would change?

“Thanks, Tam.” He said as he finally released him. “And I’m sorry for being so shitty to you and Jasper. I just… I really need some time to get used to it. It’s still so freaking weird for me.”

“I know. And Jas and I aren’t gonna make it any weirder than it has to be.” Tam promised. “I mean… you already saw me sucking his dick, so… probably can’t get much weirder than that anyway?”

Phoenix couldn’t help but laugh, despite his disgust. “God, promise you won’t take that as a challenge.”

No promises.” Tam winked at him. “I just hope you can at least call Jas or something? Especially before tonight.” He continued seriously. “I think he could really use that same confidence boost you gave to that weird kid with the Hobbit ears… Make sure he knows you’re gonna love him no matter what. No cloaking spell or deception check required.” He added with a smile.

Phoenix sighed softly. He knew Tam was right. He had to stop being so selfish and put all that negative crap aside. I’ve gotta be there for Jasper. Phoenix’s heart sank slightly. He probably thinks I hate him or something. And that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

“Wow…” At last, he broke the silence. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you get all deep like this, Tam. Where the hell is it coming from?” He asked with a laugh.

Tam smirked at him. “Dude, haven’t you ever looked at my character sheet? My Wisdom modifier is like, 8.”

——————————-

47 thoughts on “7.21: Interlude – Wisdom

  1. God, Tam is the best. Yes please, talk some sense into that boy. This is about Jasper right now, not your jealousy and insecurity, boyo.

    Phoenis really needed to hear that. Also when he said: “Did you know she was in jail when I was a baby?! She went to prison! For stealing!” all I could think was him saying something similar about Hallie. “She went to prison! For puking! On my freaking dick!” Don’t think it’s a crime though.

    Looks like everything worked out in the end! Tam is such a good friend, and I’m glad he was so patient and took the time to explain things. All parents have a life before their kids are born (or even for the two-ish years after they’re born), and some of them aren’t proud of what happened before then. Glad Harper and Erik opened up about their past too, this family could use more proper communication.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Tam is pretty amazing, can’t lie ❤️ This was really hard for him. He loves Jasper and Phoenix so much (in different ways, obviously) and seeing this tear them both apart really hurt. So he had to do a little damage control to help Phoenix see how much his brother needs him, and also to help him understand just how important and special he is to Tam (We’ve gotten to see the worst of Phee this arc with him thinking with his dick basically all the time 😂 But underneath it all, he truly is a good friend to Tam. One of those “meeting this person changed my life”-type friends, as Tam’s story showed ❤️)

      But yeah, he 100% needed the wake up call that he had to stop whining and being selfish and be there for Jas. Thank you, Tam!

      (Also, thank you for reminding me that I am overdue to have Phee mention his dick getting puked on again! 😱 😉 😈)

      It did all work out in the end! And Erik and Harper both made huge steps here. I think the party situation really hit home for them that their son is about to head off to college and he’s reaching the age where he could make some very stupid choices and decisions that could impact his life. And they really wanted him to understand that they’ve both lived through those shitty choices and awful consequences, and it ain’t pretty! 😂

      I think once he’s had some time to calm down, Phoenix will get the message. I think Tam’s right — instead of being mad or ashamed, he should be proud that his parents were able to overcome those past demons.

      Woah, sorry for the novel of a response today 😂

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww! Yeah this one tugged at my heart a little too while I was writing. Tam and Phee have a very special friendship, but Phee needed a reminder of that haha

      And yes, they all ship Jam! (Even Phee once he’s calmed down 😉 ) Rubi and Erik 100% already knew, they were just waiting for Jasper to finally feel comfortable enough to open up to them. And he did! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Proud of Harper, Erik and Rubi too! For getting to a point where they can discuss their mistakes. Shows how much they’ve grown in the past 15 years… (assuming it’s 15 as Jas is 15 and he was a baby)

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yes, 15+ years of growth! Erik has been sober for almost 18 years at this point (he stopped shortly before Phoenix was born), Rubi 19. And Harper has been out of Jail for 16. They’ve all come such a long way!

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, good. Now Phoenix can get back to normal with his friend and bro. Tam is good people!

    I loved this line: “None of that’s ever gonna change, Phee… Whether I’m fucking your brother or not.”
    LOL!!! I died!

    I knew Rubi and Erik would take the news well. (Although now they’ve got to be wondering WHAT those boys have been doing for HOURS shut up in Jasper’s room. 😛 ) And sleepovers means a totally different thing now. 😉 Seth and Siobhan had to deal with the same thing with August and Beau as teens.

    SO…now the trio can do their D&D together all happy-like. Best bros/fuckbuddy’s forever!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HA! Best bros/fuckbuddys forever LMAO Perfect hehehe

      Yes, I think this conversation is exactly what Phee needed to get over this little hump. Tam is a wonderful friend! And I’m so glad you loved the “Whether I’m fucking your brother or not” LMAO I was giggling when I wrote that, can’t lie hehe He can be serious and talk about feelings sometimes… but Tam is still Tam 😉

      I think Rubi and Erik already had a really strong suspicion of what was going on, but they couldn’t really ask Jasper directly, since they knew he wasn’t comfortable enough to come out yet. Now that it’s all out in the open, I’m sure they’ll set some ground rules haha But I think they already had a feeling there were some shenanigans going down in Jasper’s room (thankfully Erik has taught both of his boys about safe sex, at least? And at least they don’t have to worry about accidental pregnancy lol)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Tam was awesome and it was just what Phoenix needed to hear so he didn’t fall into the trap of wallowing in self pity. He told him like it was. Good for him for calling Phoenix out. I’m glad Phoenix was there for his brother. He totally needed that support.

    And life before parenthood….lol…I bet everyone of us has a time we aren’t especially proud of that we would prefer our children knew nothing about! 😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tam was certainly a hero in this one! Phee needed that conversation SO bad to get himself out of that funk. And Jasper totally needed his brother too ❤

      And HA! I am sure you're right… I don't even want to think about what kind of things my parents may have gotten up to in their youths LMAO I'm sure most parents have the luxury of never really having to reveal some of those things 😉 But in this case, Erik and Harper knew it was time.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This was such a good chapter! Phoenix needs to get over himself, but it’s good to know he can at the right time. Even knowing that your parents love you, coming out is one of the scariest things you can do, and I’m happy Jasper has his boyfriend and his brother at his side. And yay for openness and sharing! It’s the best way to keep your kids from repeating your mistakes! I’m glad the party had some good outcomes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Phoenix definitely has his moments of selfishness (who doesn’t? Especially at 17 lol) but you’re right — he’s able to get over it when it really matters. He just needed that little push from Tam!

      I’m so proud of Jasper! It was so brave of him to finally come out to his family, and he’s lucky to have all that love and support around him.

      And yes, opennness! In A2A! This is a rare occurrence LMAO but it was so overdue.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Tam, jokes around when he feels uncomfortable and even when he doesn’t. Nice to see a serious side to him. He is smart and he said just what Phoenix needed to hear. Phoenix and Tam are both there for Jasper when he tells his parents. Brothers and friends forever. Jasper family loves him no matter what.
    Poor Phoenix would probably have a heart attack if grandpa told him about his younger days of delivering drugs. It was hard enough for him to deal with his parents past.
    Everytime I seen the word SUCK I could not help but smile thinking back to Phoenix catching his brother and Tam. This sucks, sucking it up, just suck, then the last one where Tam says, It can’t get any weirder than you catching me sucking your brother’s dick. Tam is halarious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tam is such a fun character to write! Like you said, he jokes around all the time (sometimes to mask discomfort, sometimes just for the sake of being funny haha) but he is really smart and does have a serious side too. And he knew that Phoenix needed to hear the serious side in this one!

      Jasper has a great support system in his family and boyfriend ❤ And he was very brave to finally come out!

      And LMAO I'm sorry I have ruined the word "suck" for you! LOLOL hehe

      Like

  6. Yay, Brothers together forever! I can understand Phoenix’s emotions. Always feeling in the outside and although Tam is right in some ways, he can’t expect Phoenix to be instantly fine with them hiding it. It’s alot to take in. But Phoenix shouldn’t think his parents lied to him, parents were people before they had kids. So it’s interesting to see what their life was before you. His parents were just warning him and trying to get him to understand how proud they are because he’s got a better head on his shoulders than they did his age. *flashbacks to teenage Harper dating college tutor Erik* What’s important is that they changed for the better and that’s because of him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it was really hard for him, especially finding out the way he did! But Jasper really didn’t feel ready to come out yet, so they couldn’t tell yet. And unfortunately it kind of all blew up haha

      And you’re so right — all parents have stuff they probably aren’t proud of in their past. And hopefully Phee can eventually understand the lesson they were trying to teach him. ❤

      And oh man, teen Harper and tutor Erik… the simple times 😥

      Like

  7. As you know, I am now shipping Tam and Phoenis SO HARD.
    This is your fault; emotional history, I cannot resist the siren call of it.

    I’m glad all the parentals finally came clean about their history (but like, left it a little late guise), and I’m not surprised Pheonis reacted by making it about him (as a Rosebrook do), BUT I gather that bit at the end was Jasper having his fears put out by parental acceptance of The Gay (why were you worried, boy? Everyone wants Tam for a son in law, duh!)

    Okay, but when he was all ‘makes a joke then rawrs at Tam for making a joke’ I was like ‘smack him, Tam’… but that wouldn’t have been productive. At least someone was behaving there (lesson learned; don’t let Froot mediate an argument, too many smacks).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WHOOPS! Haha I’m sorry for the sweet emotional history… My bad 😛 They are a lovely platonic ship tho? hehe I liked getting a glimpse of their friendship from Tam’s perspective. Phoenix has always admired Tam for being so open and unafraid about who he is… But I don’t think he realized until now that he’s the one who played a crucial role in instilling that very confidence and bravery he admires so much ❤ (WHOOPS, did I make it worse…? LMAO I am seriously sorry hahahaha)

      And yes, the parents were super late with their revelations, but at least they happened eventually?? Better late than never? And yes, Jasper's parents 100% accepted him at the end there. They totally knew anyway already 😉 They are way more perceptive than Phoenix! LOL

      And yes, Phee had a few smackable moments in there… His Rosebrook was showing a bit 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Shipper WitcHazard: Glad Phee came around if not I would have had to end him! #JAM4EVER!

    Emotional WitcHazard: Such a heartwarming chapter talking out your feelings is always the solution! Make an note to use this again in the future cause Rosebrooks tend to forget!😝

    Lover WitcHazard: Jealousy on Pheonix is hilarious and adorable! Love how Tam can’t take a hint to stop joking around at first but gets dead serious when it comes to fixing things for his Man!

    Dark WitcHazard: Yuck resolution it makes me wanna puke! Also what’s so bad about addictions and going to prison! That’s the stuff reality tv is made of don’t ruin my fun boy you’ll regret it so stop playing nice and give me my Rosebrook mayhem!😈

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hehehe glad Shipper is happy about Phee’s approval of the SS Jam! ❤️

      And yes, hopefully Phee will do better than his predecessors in the communication department… it certainly served him well this time? 😛 And Lover is right, Tam can be serious when it really counts! He was being a great boyfriend and best friend in this one, helping to patch things up between his two favorite boys 😉

      And Ha! Dark is ready for mayhem? We shall see if the YA arc delivers… 😈

      Like

  9. Phoniex and Tam’s talk at the beginning made me think of that moment in the Book (not the movie) when Harry is trying to keep out of everyone’s way because he thinks he’s (blank) by (character 1) after seeing (character 2) attacked by (snake) and Ginny had to tell him what it’s like (blank) by (character 1).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m so glad things worked out in the end, But I have a feeling that Phoenix is *still* going to be salty about his parents backstory, for some while…I mean, when could they tell him about all that stuff!? I don’t think there’s a page in a pareting book saying ” When, and how to tell your kid you have been in prison” or some page about addiction…It’s good that Phoenix finally let those feelings out, because, as he noticed, some of this stuff seems silly when we say it out loud, and a few words can help those insecuritys dissapear.
    I’m happy Tam was able to talk thing out, and be the ”bigger person”, as, in some cases, if no one is that person, some things can go for years…( Looking at you, Jocelyn and Lucas).Now, everything is great, and he only needs to deal with his multiple social problems…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hopefully Phoenix wont’ hold a grudge for too long! Like you said, there’s no page in a parenting book about this sort of thing! 😉 And yes, sometimes saying your thoughts aloud vs writing them down helps you see how foolish they really are… 😉

      And yes! No awful Joce and Luc-style years of resentment! Thank goodness. This family has had enough of that!

      Thank you for reading ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. 1) Wow, Tam is a demigod!! At least that’s one explanation for his 26 wisdom points. He could be the god of fantasy and dreams (and mudgeddon cosplay festivals)
    2) Where can I get my own Tam? I need one in my life so badly
    3) I’m so glad Phoenix shows his understanding and supports his friend and his brother, and he’s not going the Harper “Stop talking to me” way. It was a touching story Tam told, and I really hope nothing will come between those two friends.

    I like that both Harper and Erik opened up to the kids about their past. It can’t have been easy, but it means more than a “stay away from drugs and stupidity” message. It is also a message telling their parents also had hard times, they needed help sometimes. Maybe that could help them to turn to their parents if they should get in a difficult situation later, or at least be less ashamed of it. And I hope Phoenix will come off that “everyone lies to me” train soon. Nobody lied to him. They just didn’t tell him everything upfront, because it’s not his business. Not more than a girl puking over his dick is his parents business and he sure as hell hasn’t told them that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tam is a special and mysterious creature indeed 😉 With epic stats! They are very rare… not sure where you can find one 😭 Hehe

      Phoenix is definitely handling this kind of situation so much better than his mother would have at his age! Though she’s most certainly come a long way now (Erik too!)

      And you’re right — no one lied. They just withheld information…. just like I am sure Phoenix will 😂 I don’t think he will ever tell a soul!

      Like

    1. Yeah unlike some of the other Rosebrooks before him, Phoenix is not a grudge holder (SHOCKER! LOL). So it was pretty easy for him to get over it… he just needed to get it out of his system, and then get that little pep talk from Tam of course 😉

      And I think you’re right — Mari would most definitely be proud! Those conversations were really important. And I think once Phoenix has had time to process that initial shock, he’ll understand what his parents were trying to say.

      Like

  12. I do love that Tam! He’s pretty awesome. I WANTS him, precious! 🤣
    Very glad that silly Phee listened, phew! I was still worried for a minute that he wouldn’t call Jas, out of some obstinate Rosebrook-headedness. Glad everything is fixed between them, and he can sail cleanly and happily into a smooth YA arc! Or, you know, find whole new rocks to crash on. 🤣🤣
    Plus, because I’m heading out of town, I’m saving all the YA arc that’s already there for when I get back! I’ll have a huge bunch or reading to do, it will be great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, I’m so glad you love him! I do too! (And funnily enough, there is a Gollum reference in the first YA chapter LMAO You’ll see when you return! 😉 ) I hope you enjoy your trip (assuming it’s for a fun reason!) Thank you for reading 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  13. The feels. This was so touching and deep and still made me laugh at the same time. Definitely embodied Phee and Tam’s friendship. Probably my favourite chapter of the generation so far. My love for Tam has no limits. He is so damn awesome. Gah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I loved this one too. Phee and Tam have a really special friendship ❤️❤️ Everyone needs a Tam in their life! (But as we can see here, Tams need their Phees too! 😛 )

      I’m glad you love Tam! He totally stole the show this gen hehe

      Like

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