“You’re going to be fine, baby,” Erik said, rubbing a circle on John’s back.
John took a deep breath, then exhaled. Erik wasn’t dumb. ‘Baby’ wasn’t just a pet name for him. It centered him, made him feel okay even when he wasn’t. It made it easy for him to do things that were hard. It was a strong word for John.
Calling Edwin ‘little brother’ had used to have a similar effect. Erik didn’t know if it still would, even if they did manage to patch things up and get back together. The swim meet had gone well, which was a good sign.
But Edwin couldn’t be the only thing Erik worried about anymore. John needed his help too. “Thank you,” he said. “Thank you for coming with me.”