Then Came You... - 7. Chapter 7 The Art of Depression and Deception...
Sometimes the two can be confusing which Maxwell starts to realize. Drake can't let go of his feelings for Max and Cody finally makes a decision that's best for him.
“Good evening, Sirs, right this way.” The Maître d nodded as he escorted them through the crowed dining area back to their table. Cody took Drake’s hand allowing him to lead the way.
“Sir.” He motioned for Cody to take his seat as pulled out the chair.
“Thank you,” Cody smiled while taking his seat. Drake took his seat across from Cody and smiled kindly to the Host as he handed him the menu.
“Your server tonight will be Carlos,” he informed before filling Cody’s glass with water. “The special for this evening is, a filet and cold water rock lobster tail which consist of a 6 oz. char-broiled filet, 4 oz. broiled rock lobster tail, drawn in butter, a sea salt baked potato and sautéed asparagus,” He offered proudly.
“Oooooh, that sounds delicious,” Cody nodded eagerly at Drake. “What do you think?”
“Um-hum…” Drake smiled even as he opened the menu, “I’m sure we’ll be ready to order by the time Carlos, is it?” He clarified, “…arrives.”
“Very well, Sir.” The Maître d smiled before placing his hands behind his back. He gave Cody a short nod before turning to walk away.
Cody took a deep breath and smiled. “I’m glad you were available to have dinner tonight. Thank you.”
“You don’t have to thank me,” Drake replied, “I wanted to see you.”
“Really,” Drake laughed softly while reaching for his water. “I’ve actually been waiting on you to call me,” he admitted before turning up his glass.
“Yeah right,” Cody laughed while reaching for his own glass of water. “You have not been waiting for me to call you and you know it.” He took a sip before placing the glass down on the table. “What about Max? How’s he doing?” Cody asked casually as he glanced over the menu.
Drake placed his glass down carefully and frowned. “I haven’t seen him,” he said just above a whisper. Just the thought of not seeing him made Drake feel ill. He worried about him before their encounter and now, everything seemed so messed up.
“You mean…” Cody set the menu aside.
“No...” Drake sighed as he fiddled with the edge of the table cloth. “Nothing. I’ve called, but he’s not answering nor returning my calls.”
“And how do you feel about that?” Cody asked with a hint of caution.
“Well, I mean…” Drake tilted his head slightly and shrugged. “I don’t want to push-“
“Good evening, Sirs, I’m Carlos and I’ll be taking care of you this evening,” He informed them politely smiling to Drake than to Cody. Drake returned the smile, welcoming the distraction.
“Can I start you off with something to drink?”
“I think we’ll have a bottle of Shiraz please,” Cody gestured to Drake seeking out his approval.
“That’s great,” Drake said casually.
“Excellent choice.” Carlos nodded. “Did you have time to look over the menu?”
“We did,” Cody confirmed. “I think I’ll have the special of the evening.”
“And you, Sir?” Carlos directed his attention to Drake.
“I’ll have the same.” Drake replied cordially.
“Perfect.” Carlos smiled. “I’ll be back with your wine and some warm bread.”
“Thank you.” Cody smiled as he and Drake handed Carlos their menus. They both watched as their server disappeared through the service doors before returning their attention back to each other.
“You were saying?” Cody asked, eagerly delving back into their prior conversation.
“It’s just-” Drake stuttered, seeking out the right words.
“Listen,” Cody reached across the table taking Drake’s hand into his own. “This is hard on everyone. Death takes its toll on the survivors; the ones left to deal with the loss. Sometimes things get a little crazy,” He sighed. “Like with you and Max.”
“But it wasn’t…it’s not like that,” Drake defended.
“It is like that.” Cody countered. “I understand, Drake, really I do.” He admitted, giving Drake’s hand a gentle squeeze before pulling back.
“Listen, Cody, what happened between Max and me is not-“
“Not what, Drake?” Cody challenged. “You think it meant something to him? I’m sure it did. But it’s not like you think. Grief sex…perhaps. You’re someone he trusts, always has…you were safe,” He explained. Drake opened his mouth to speak, but thought better of it and let Cody continue. “I’ve had time to think about it. Think about whether or not I wanted or should I say, could I forgive you.” He paused purposely for a moment, gauging Drake’s expression. “Then I realized you didn’t ask for my forgiveness.” He noted with a forlorn glance. There was a moment of silence shared between them. Drake’s expression was thoughtful. He opened his mouth to respond when…
“Your bread and wine.” Carlos smiled even as he began to fill their glasses. Cody sighed, biting on his lower lip as Drake scratched between his brows and waited for Carlos to finish, using this time to collect his thoughts.
What if Cody was right. After all Max did say nothing would come of it. And here he had Cody, working diligently to make what they had work…salvage it. But the more he thought about it, was there really anything to salvage? Even before Brad’s death he questioned his feelings for Cody, often wondering if he could give him what he needed…what he deserved, which was actually more than he had to give.
“Your dinners will be out shortly,” Carlos announced, pulling Drake from his thoughts. He glanced up and nodded politely, sending Carlos on his way, before meeting Cody’s expectant gaze head on, and he knew what he wanted to hear.
He took a deep breath and was about to speak when a familiar laugh to his right captured his attention. He glanced quickly over his shoulder seeking him out with Cody following his gaze, their eyes landing on Maxwell and a handsome young man they’d never seen before. Drake squinted, narrowing his gaze.
“Is that Max over there?” Cody asked as he reached for his glass of wine. He took a sip, peering over the rim watching Drake squirm.
“Um…yeah,” He called back over his shoulder, his attention still focused on the couple.
“Who is that he’s with? I’ve never seen him before.”
“I don’t know,” Drake shrugged before slowly turning around.
“Well, who ever he is, he’s cute,” Cody observed as he set his glass down and reached for a piece of bread.
“Um…” Drake grunted disapprovingly, while reaching for his glass. He took a long gulp, set the half empty glass down and promptly filled it again. He took another drink, swallowing hard in order to keep from throwing up. He scratched behind his ear trying to regain his composure before reaching for the bread attempting to seem unfazed.
“Looks like Max have been keeping himself busy, that’s good.” Cody said with an impish grin before dipping his bread in garlic butter. “I think he needs to get out,” He added before stuffing the bread into his mouth.
“It’s too soon,” Drake countered with a disapproving shake of the head.
The tone of the evening took a drastic turn. Drake and Cody’s relationship conversation changed to just small talk. Drake couldn’t stay focused on anything; his mind was clearly on the other side of the room. Cody took a small sip of his wine and rolled his eyes.
“I’m going to go say hello,” Drake announced even as he pushed himself from his chair.
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Cody questioned.
“Yes… why wouldn’t it be?” He questioned, obviously irritated by Cody’s challenge. “It’s been over two weeks. I just want to make sure he’s okay,” Drake defended as he placed his napkin down on the table.
“Well, as you said, it’s been over two weeks,” Cody said taking a deep breath. “Maybe there’s a reason he hasn’t called. Maybe he’s trying to deal with Brad’s death, and what happened with the two of you, on his own. He’s stronger than you give him credit for, Drake.” Cody pointed out. While tying to be understanding though his patience was wearing thin, and his reasoning seemed to be falling on deaf ears.
“I won’t be long,” Drake promised. “I’ll be back before our meal arrives.” Cody sighed, and took a sip of his wine and watched as Drake made his way over to the table. He pursed his lips and creased his brows before pushing himself from the table and following Drake.
Maxwell and Nate were finishing off their cheese cake when Drake approached them. They were laughing; engrossed in their conversation that they hadn’t noticed him standing there.
“Ahem…” He cleared his throat causing both men to look up. Maxwell placed his fork down and smiled politely.
“Drake...” His name flowed from his lips soft but uneasy. There was an element of surprise as well that didn’t go unnoticed by Nate.
“Max, I’ve been trying to reach you,” He informed him. “Why haven’t you returned any of my calls?” He asked pointedly.
Maxwell shifted uncomfortably in his seat, glancing to his dinner guest from the corner of his eye. Drake looked to his left meeting Nate’s questioning gaze head on.
He forced a smile and nodded cordially. “Hi. I’m Drake, Max’s friend.” He extended his hand to shake Nate’s. Nate wiped his hand with a napkin before standing to return the greeting.
“It’s nice to finally meet you.” He smiled glancing between both men. “Max has told me a lot about you. I’m Nate.”
“Really?” Drake questioned skeptically.
“Um…yeah,” Nate replied, furrowing his brows tightly, noticing the air becoming uncomfortable and thick. He became even more puzzled when he noticed Maxwell avoiding Drake’s gaze. “Is everything okay, I mean I didn’t embarrass you did I?” He squinted between Maxwell and Drake.
“Max!” Cody exclaimed, arriving just in time. His jovial voice was a welcomed interference. He placed a reassuring hand on Drake’s shoulder and smiled.
“Hey, Cody,” Maxwell returned the warm greeting with a genuine smile.
“How have you been? Oh and who’s this?” He grinned widely, immediately extending his hand to shake Nate’s. Drake stepped back taking his place beside Cody and stuffed his hands in his pockets.
“This is Nate. He’s a friend of mine.”
“Ohhh….” Cody bounced his brows suggestively, through a cheeky grin as he and Nate shook hands. “It’s so nice to meet you.” Drake rolled his eyes and sighed clearly annoyed at Cody’s enthusiasm.
“You too,” Nate replied, giving Cody’s hand a firm shake. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence shared between the four of them. Maxwell combed his fingers through his hair, finally coming face to face with Drake sharing a forlorn glance. There was no denying it. He couldn’t hide it, and he was sure, as sure as he knew his own name, that Drake knew how he felt. It was as if those deep gray eyes of Drake’s were not only burning through his very soul, but reading his thoughts as well and he couldn’t have that.
“It’s good seeing you both, but we were just finishing up, right Nate?”
“Umm, yeah.” Nate replied slightly confused at Maxwell’s sudden change of behavior.
“Drake, Babe,” Cody’s voice was Maxwell’s saving grace. “Carlos just brought our meal out.” He smiled graciously as he wrapped his arm around Drake’s waist. “We should head back too.”
“Okay,” Drake nodded.
“It was really nice meeting you, Nate. And as always great seeing you, Max,” Cody said as he made his way around the table to give him a hug. Maxwell stood pulling Cody into his embrace and sighed, feeling a pang of guilt.
“Everything’s going to be okay,” Cody pulled back and smiled. “I’m here if you need me.”
“Again, Nate, it was nice to meet you.” He nodded as Nate took his seat.
“You ready?” He extended his hand toward Drake.
“Um,” Drake combed his fingers through his hair. “I’ll be right there, I want to talk to Max for a moment,” He said trying to make eye contact with him.
“But our dinner, it’s getting cold.”
“You don’t mind do you, Nate?” Drake asked, biting on the inside of his cheek.
“Not at all.” Nate smiled before picking up his glass.
“It’s okay, Cody,” Maxwell said with a half-smile. He knew Drake to be insistent so he might as well get this over with.
“Okay…” Cody replied hesitantly. “Don’t be long.” He dropped his shoulders in defeat and made his way back to their table.
“I won’t keep him. I promise.”
Maxwell took in a deep breath and followed Drake toward the lobby area. Once in the lobby Maxwell released the breath he was holding and shoved his hands deep inside the pockets of his jeans, glancing down at the floor.
“How are you?” Drake’s voice was soft and non intrusive, comforting even.
“I’m dealing.” Maxwell lifted his head to meet Drake’s gaze. “You?”
“I’m missing you.”
“Not like that,” Drake interrupted as he closed the space between them. Maxwell stepped back, tilting his head slightly. “What happened between us, happened. We can’t change it. I don’t think I would want to even if I could,” He admitted. “I worry about you, Max.”
“Really?” Drake questioned skeptically. “I don’t see how that’s possible, because I’m not fine.” He sighed deeply. “My best friend in the world is gone. I miss him every single day. I miss him for no other reason than those annoying six-thirty in the morning phone calls,” he chuckled lightly. “Brad was indeed one of a kind; they don’t get any better than him.” He frowned shaking his head. “He asked me once to do him a favor, and that was to take care of you. It’s the easiest job he could have asked of me, because I truly do love you, and the fact that you don’t feel the same way is okay. I still want to be here for you.”
The mention of Brad’s name still hurt, cutting him to the core. Then there was the promise. Drake’s confession of love, not to mention his own feelings that were betraying him, it was all too much.
“No, Drake it’s not okay,” Maxwell finally spoke up after finding his voice. “It’s not okay at all. And you’re right, what happened with us, happened. We can’t change that. But it can’t ever happen again.” He stressed every word adamantly.
“No, Drake. Brad is gone, and I have to be okay and deal with this the best way I know how.”
“And that’s with him?” Drake nodded over Maxwell’s shoulders toward the dining area.
“Nate has nothing to do with this,” Maxwell defended. “He’s not the problem here.”
“From where I’m standing he has a lot to do with this,” Drake countered. “It’s too soon for you, Max.” He stated desperately.
“Well isn’t that rich, coming from you,” Maxwell quipped sarcastically as he crossed his arms over his chest. “You keep forgetting, I’m grown, Drake.”
Drake rolled his eyes toward the ceiling and sighed. “Well act like it.”
“You know what?” Maxwell huffed uncrossing his arms. “I’m done having this conversation with you. I’m going back to my date.” He said spitefully. He attempted to sidestep him when he felt Drake’s strong hand grab his arm.
“You keep running, Max. Keep running from your fears-”
“I’m not running from anyone,” Maxwell stated through clenched teeth. Drake arched his brow knowingly at Maxwell’s Freudian slip of the tongue. “Now if you would be so kind as to take your hand off me, Cody’s waiting for you.” He said, giving Drake a death stare.
“He knows.” Drake blurted out.
“What?” Maxwell’s voice was shaky, and his skin was paling.
“I told him.”
“Why?” Maxwell questioned angrily. It was almost as if he was embarrassed.
“I had too.”
Maxwell inhaled deeply while shaking his head in disbelief. “Drake, I told you, don’t go changing because you thought we could have something. No matter what I…” He bit back his words suddenly. He caressed the back of his neck firmly, stealing a moment. “I’ve got to go.”
“You don’t have to do this alone, Max. I’m here for you. I’m sorry if what happened is scaring you, hell I’m scared too.” He admitted as he slowly released Maxwell’s arm. “I miss you. I miss my friend. I don’t want to think about not having you in my life.” He released the breath he was holding and watched as Maxwell slowly turned to leave, not bothering to say good-bye.
He felt his knees nearly buckle beneath him and it was all he could do to keep from falling to get through the crowed restaurant, making a be-line for the men’s room. He barely reached the door, the palms of his hands gripping the handle as he shoved it open, when the flood gates broke lose and the tears spilled from his eyes uncontrollably.
“I had Carlos box up our food. I’m sure you don’t have an appetite anymore.” Cody said upon Drake’s return.
Drake sighed and frowned. “We need to go,” He said as he reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet.
“I paid already.” Cody smiled sadly, waving his copy of the receipt in the air. Drake shook his head slowly as he shoved his wallet back in his pocket. Cody eyed him carefully. “Dinner was my treat…remember?”
“Cody, I’m really sorry.” Drake closed his eyes tightly. “This wasn’t supposed to happen.”
“What? Dinner tonight, or you being in love with Max?” He tilted his head slightly, lifting an eyebrow.
“Excuse me?” Drake blinked, surprise etched on his face.
“You can’t help who you love. And you’re hopelessly in love with Maxwell. You’ve always been in love with him and seeing him with anyone other than Brad is unacceptable. Because of that, no matter how long I wait, you can never love me. Not the way I want.” Cody rationalized.
“But I do love you, Cody.” Drake tried to reassure as he sat down at the table. “That’s what I wanted to tell you tonight, that I love you.”
“Just not in love…” Cody lowered his head. “I’m not sure who I feel sorrier for. You, Me, or whoever comes into Max’s life.”
Drake peered curiously at him. “What do you mean?”
“Once Max starts to heal – starts to accept that Brad is dead… When he starts looking and dating again, he’ll be comparing that man to either Brad or you.” Cody looked Drake dead in the eyes as he spoke.
Drake slowly leaned back in his chair, baffled, as he stared thoughtfully at the table. He tried to wrap his head around Cody’s words as they sank in. Cody brushed his hand over his head and picked up his to-go box.
“Let’s get out of here. Take me home.” Cody smiled weakly to show there were no hard feelings. Drake stood, shoving his hand deep in his pocket while picking up the box with the other. He sighed heavily as he glanced over to Nate who was still waiting for Maxwell to return and frowned before following Cody out of the restaurant.
Maxwell made his way into a stall, his cries echoing off the tiled walls as he rested his head in the palm of his hands. “Why does this have to be so hard?” He asked between sobs to no one in particular.
Brad was gone. His life would never be the same, ever again and it was all his fault. If they didn’t go to that stupid party, Brad would still be alive. Maybe if he hadn’t been driving… he reasoned with himself as the tears continued to fall. He used the back of his hand to roughly wipe his nose while trying to catch his breath. Drake was right, yet again. He was running. Running from the one thing he needed right now. The one person who could make him feel better. The one person who made him…feel.
He felt as if he was the most horrible person on earth. How could he want him, need him like that. That had to be the ultimate betrayal. He convinced himself that Drake could never know his true feelings.
He took a deep breath trying to regain his composure and made his way over to the sink. He turned on the cold water and cupped his hands underneath it, splashing his face with its coolness. After shaking the excess water off his hands he stared at the red eyes staring back at him. He could do this. But he needed to talk to someone and he knew just who that someone was…
Maxwell comes to a place of Acceptance and makes a decision about his life, one He can live with.
Note from me... :)
Wanted to thank everyone for reading and their support of this story. Life for Max, Drake and Cody has not been easy since Brad's death and unfortunately Life is that way, but there is light at the end of the tunnel that's not attached to a train. ;) The last chapter and a short eppilogue is up next!
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