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The school lobby is famous for being a bitchy place - where cheerleaders are thrusting their tongues down the basketball jocks' throats, where several bullies await to pick on their daily victims, and where a million rumors are born without even a shred of evidence. Several rumors come up and poof out, but once a kid is classed out, he has no chance to survive in the high school crowd.
The current buzz heating up in each group, was that the infamous basketball jock, Gust Rivera, was seen hanging around town with some gay boy of the school. It didn't start off that bad, but as it went on spreading from one person to another, a huge web of humiliating stories was created. And this was what Gust was now pissed off about. He kept explaining it to everybody that it was just a meeting and nothing more. He just wanted to be left alone.
Finally getting tired of all this, he quit talking and just walked off when the topic would come up.
Everyone watched the flushed look on his face as he walked down the hallway digging his hands inside his pockets. He was fuming time and time again, as he could hear people giggling and whispering things about him.
But he wouldn't stop even though he felt like giving some piece of mind to each one of them. He thought it was better to not say anything now that the gossip was heating up, or else it would get worse.
So, he kept walking without looking up at all. His head was hanging down as he went to approach the lockers, when all of a sudden he abruptly stopped in his tracks, after a pair of pink flip-flops came into his view and his gaze travelled up to see who was standing in his way.
Looking up, he smiled into gorgeous green eyes glaring daggers at him. That made his smile falter and he waited for her to burst into an angry rant. He wanted to get this over with.
Candes was among one of the most popular girls in the school and known more prominently as Gust's girlfriend. When current changes came on to Gust's reputation, it affected Candes' too.
So, now she stood there in front of him, with her hand on her hip, watching his regretful face. She was dressed in a layered shirt, along with tight jeans, and her hair was tied up in a pony tail.
"Hey baby. How's it going?" Gust neared her and circled his arms around her waist.
Conversely, she held out her hand rudely, stopping him. With a hurt look, Gust took a step back watching her.
"How dare you ask me that when you very well know it's not going well? You go out with that punk, but why do I have to suffer all the embarrassment?"
"Oh shut your mouth, you dork. You might like to be called sleazy names, but I don't. It's affecting my reputation. I don't want to be known as a gay man's beard." She went on.
Gust closed his eyes shut, trying to control his anger. "I. Am. NOT. Gay." He said through gritted teeth.
She looked challengingly into his angry brown eyes as he opened them. "Prove it."
It was his chance, and he didn't care how bad it made his conscience feel. He didn't care what his heart said, or rather the voice screaming inside him, telling him not to do it. But he ignored it and went straight to his innocent prey.
He stood behind a guy who was busy arranging books in his locker, with his back to Gust. When he didn't turn around, Gust cleared his throat to get his attention.
The blond turned to him, surprised. "Oh, hey Gust." He smiled politely.
"Luke, I am sorry I have to do this." Gust said in a stuttering voice.
Luke looked puzzled, and before he could sense the fist coming his way, it spanked him hard across his face, making him see stars in bright daylight.
Guys and girls around laughed and squealed Gust's name. They got a nice show to watch, after all. But Gust felt bad watching his timid friend, who had fallen to the floor and was holding his face where he was hit.
'Friend? Right!' He thought, 'After what I did now, I am sure I am not considered to be his friend anymore.'
A hand palmed his shoulders from the back, and Gust froze in his place. He turned around sharply, coming face to face with a teacher, who didn't look too happy from the look on his face.
"Principal's office... NOW!" The teacher ordered.
Luke stomped his feet walking briskly through the lobby, making his way to the principal's office. He was angry and hurt; he kept mumbling things to himself in agitation. He wanted to teach Gust a lesson. 'What is his temerity to beat me like that?'
He was done meeting the school nurse, who thought he was fine enough, no serious wound ... but he knew better. His heart was aching tremendously, and his eyes were red with the anger boiling in him. His friend had attacked him for no reason.
'I know he said he was sorry for doing this, but that's not the smart way he could have handled the situation. I mean beating up your best friend ... are you kidding me? What does he think of himself; like he would get away with this? Oh no... I wouldn't let that happen.'
Luke went directly into the office ignoring Mrs. Hathaway, principal's secretary, who was warning him not to enter without permission. But he did anyway, interrupting the principal's stern voice scolding Gust, who timidly sat across from him.
"Mr. Keegan, I would like to have a say regarding this matter. Luke said frankly, looking at Gust from out of the corner of his eyes.
"Mr. Snyder, is this any way ..." Mr. Keegan angrily started, but Luke didn't let him complete his sentence.
"Gust beat me up, so I have every right to decide what I want to do with him."
The principal exhaled out of frustration. He knew Luke wasn't going to keep quiet until he lets him to what he wishes. The last time a kid tried to bully Luke, the matter escalated and wound up in court. This time he didn't want something like that to happen, which might affect the school's reputation. So he nodded his approval, thinking that it's better to solve the matter now and be done with it.
"I want ..." Luke stopped speaking when his gaze turned to look at Gust. "I ..." he stammered. He eyed Gust's jet black hair as his head was hung down. He wouldn't dare look up at this point. Luke watched his finger movements below the table as they played with each other in nervousness.
"Spill it already!" The principal yelled impatiently. He just wanted to get this over with. He had many important things to do after all ... like check his Facebook profile online ...
"I want you to let go of the issue." Luke said looking away, and walked out as quickly as he had come in.
When I entered in the office, I was determined to get him kicked out of school. But every time I looked at him! DAMN! My heart went out to him. I was reminded of all these childhood memories that we shared. Even last week, when I came out to my parents, he was there with me all along, and what was I going to do? Get him in trouble? I can't do that. I mean I know he wasn't thinking when he hit me, but he did it under pressure.
Gust promptly exited the office and looked around for Luke. He spotted the blond walking away in the distance.
"Luke!" he called out, and ran to catch up with him. "Hey... hey wait"
"What?" Luke hissed, turning to him.
By this time, the hallway had emptied out. Not a soul was present since the classes had already started, and everyone was in their respective classrooms.
"Look, I know you could have asked for some severe punishment for me, but you didn't." Gust gave a sad appreciative smile, "Thanks man! I owe you for that."
"Fine, anything else?" Luke impatiently tapped his foot.
"Yeah... after what I did ... you might think I am a back-stabber. And I don't blame you ... I am stupid, an asshole ..."
"Moron!" Luke added.
"Yeah ... that too. But .." Gust looked down at his shoes, "I am not very happy about what I did. Luke, you are my friend, and you will always be. We have been friends since kindergarten, and when I hit you, it felt like I hit myself. I am sorry, I promise that won't happen again. I got carried away, that's it. Please forgive me Luke, please?" He begged meekly.
Luke gave him a hard stare. He was deep in thought and kept eyeing Gusts’ timid demeanor.
Gust sighed when he thought he had upset Luke too much. He deserved his anger, but he didn't want to lose him as a friend.
"Ehm ... go get your books; we are already running late for our lit class. You don't want to get detention, do you?" Luke said pointing his thumb back at the lockers.
Gust looked up happily at him and gave him a quick hug. "You are so cool, man! Thank you."
"Come on," Luke smiled. "Let's go."
The bell rang and numerous teens dispersed out of the classes to head for the cafeteria. The chatter began to rise as more students gathered in the lobby.
Luke and Gust left their English lit class together. The tension between them was still prominent, but things were less tense as per Luke. He understood Gust's actions, though he wasn't very proud of them. But, he had decided to simply let go the matter after all. They did sit together in the two classes they shared before break time, and talked in between classes as usual.
However, Gust seemed quite uncomfortable. He kept looking around the class every now and then, so often that it irritated Luke. Even now as they walked to the cafeteria, Gust kept stealing glances at every person around them whom they passed.
"Psst ... Luke ..." Gust whispered, trying to get Luke's attention.
"What?" Luke looked sideways, noticing Gust was walking a little behind him, which ultimately made him frown.
Gust waved at a jock, who was leaning against the sidewall as they passed him, and whispered again, "Would you mind if I join the other teammates ... err ... for lunch today?"
Luke abruptly stopped in his tracks and turned, coming face to face with Gust. "Um ... I mean ... we had some things to work out .... for the big game ... I mean you know it is - the pressure that is ... ehm" He stammered, watching Luke glaring daggers at him.
"Just say it, Gust ... you are ashamed of being seen around with a gay guy. I am sick of the way you behave every time we’re together. Get a grip, you asshole." Luke clenched his jaws in anger.
Gust looked around to make sure they weren’t putting on a show for others. Luckily, no one seemed to hear them, so he pushed Luke to the corner to talk privately.
"Look, I am sorry Luke ... but I am helpless." He said in a hushed voice, quite desperately, needing to explain it to Luke. "My relationship with Candes gets questioned when we are seen together. And people are talking about us Luke, and mind you, it's not good."
"I thought you, out of all people, wouldn’t care about what people say or think." Luke narrowed his eyes in disbelief and finally exhaled, "What's wrong with you?"
A group of jocks walked by them - whistling and howling at the duo. "Way to go Rivera, you two make decent fuckers together. Aw, see them?" A guy mocked, getting laughter from the others. Gust turned around to give them a piece of his mind, but they had already walked away.
Turning back to Luke he replied, pointing his thumb back over his shoulder, "THIS - you see? This is what I was talking about. This is what is wrong. Luke, you might not give a damn who talks what about you, but I do care."
"You think it's easy for me to survive through all that mocking and name calling?" Luke countered, "You might just think I would be shrugging it all off, but you don't know shit. I don’t know how I manage not to break down in front of all those whom I thought were my friends. And now when you say you don't want anything to do with me, ..." A hard lump suddenly formed in Luke's throat with the thought of losing his best friend. He quickly gulped it down to continue, "... I feel sorry for your loss because you have lost nothing but yourself. I don't recognize you anymore. All you have become is a puppet Gust, who is being played by all these people around you. But I am not like you. I will live my life my way, and if you want to walk out of it, I won't stop you."
Luke whispered that last part and walked around him, hurrying to reach his locker faster. There were tears forming in his eyes, which he didn't want anyone to notice, especially not Gust. So, he decided he needed to find a quiet place to spend some time alone - he needed it.
Gust remained motionless for some time, at the place where he stood, taking all in what Luke said. His gaze travelled to the direction over where Luke went and kept eyeing his back as he saw him vanish at the end of the hallway.
'It was my decision to get some space, but why do I feel like crap!' Gust ran his hand through his hair, mulling over why Luke's last statement made his heart wrench in shock.
Luke sighed, resting his back against the tree trunk. His packed lunch from home lay untouched in his lap. He didn't feel like eating right now. He had totally lost his appetite. His mom would be pissed off about that.
He looked around the secluded place. It had been quite a while since he had been coming here ... to think and freshen up his mind. The smell of fresh cut grass hit his nose and he closed his eyes feeling calm, resting his head back against the tree.
He remained like that for some time - replaying everything that had happened since the morning. Concluding that it was just another awful day, he wished it would end soon.
"Look who's here..."
Luke's eyes flew open, squinting a bit as he heard the rough heavy voice. There was a hunky looking guy, whom he wished wouldn't have seen him there. 'Could this day get any worse?'
The guy named Rob smirked, "... the homosexuals seem to be taking over the damn school."
Luke didn't want any more trouble. So, he picked up his lunch bag and began to stand up to get away from them. But, the guys weren't in the mood to let him go so quickly.
"Stay there bitch!" Rob gave a hard push to his chest. Luke stumbled back down feeling a sharp pain as his back hit hard against the tree. "We need to talk. And when I say I want to talk, nobody dares to overhear it. Understand?"
Luke looked up at him fearing what was coming next.
"What do you want?" Luke stammered. He swore in his mind, why in the hell was he feeling so weak?
Rob laughed, "Give me a blow-job. Bet you have fantasized about this manhood here." He feigned a moan as he rubbed his groin in front of Luke. "Lovely!"
"Whatever it takes Rob, I am not into tiny dicks and a 3-minute man for me? No fucking way!" Luke came back bravely, but suddenly felt like taking back what he said because Rob didn't look too happy hearing it.
Rob's nose flared in anger when Luke crossed the line by bringing up the rumor around the school. The rumor was actually spread by his ex in jealousy, that he had a tiny dick, and that when they had sex, he would come in just minutes. It just happened to tick him off.
Luke felt a pull by his collar as Rob held it and almost choked him. "Listen you shithead! You think you are very smart? I will show you what smartness is ... you will learn it right when I will make your face look much uglier than it already is. You punks deserve nothing but this ..."
Luke fearfully gazed at him. He wanted to say he was sorry for saying it, but no voice would come out of his mouth. And when Rob raised his hand higher, ready to hit him, his heart skipped a beat. He quickly shut his eyes tight.
"Stop right there." A manly voice came from behind them, and Rob dropped his hold of Luke, who fell back down with a thud. "What's going on here?"
The guy approached them.
Rob figured he must be someone from the staff, from the way he was dressed, and his looks, which hinted he wasn't some student either.
"Nothing ... sir! We were just ... talking." Rob gave a threatening glare to Luke.
The man looked sternly at Rob and then down at Luke who was trying to regain his posture. But one could see he was in a bit of pain.
"Well, your way of talking is kind of different from what I would describe it ..." He said to Rob looking angrily at him, before bending down to help Luke on his feet. "Are you okay?" He asked.
The kind, soft words hit his ears and he looked up into his savior’s eyes. The worried azure eyes looking into his put him in a trance, making him awe-struck for a second. It felt like it took him out of this world into a more beautiful place, before he was pulled back to reality.
"Yeah ... yeah, I am fine. Thanks."
The man nodded and turned back to Rob, once Luke was standing straight. "And you ... come with me. I would like to listen to how you talk ... and maybe the principal would too!"
Rob growled inwardly, glaring angrily at Luke. The man saw that and pushed him away, "Come on; get going." He followed as Rob walked in front.
Luke watched them both go. When they were at a distance, the man turned back and their eyes met again. Luke smiled in gratitude, getting one back with a nod, before he had walked away.
"Oh bollocks! I am going to be late for the next class!" Luke swore, collecting his books in a hurry. He and his friend Mercedes had been working on the assignment they had for English class, and lost the track of time.
Mercedes was, however, being cool. "Take a chill pill. It's a history class anyways."
"Yeah, but you know Mrs. Brooks; she will eat us raw if we get their late." Luke shook his head thinking about it.
"Oh wait! Isn't she gone until her baby pops out?" Mercedes reminded him. "So we probably have some substitute teacher in her place... and you know how substitutes are!"
Luke giggled along with her, "But still... you never know how this new teacher is, right?" She nodded, "So we better get there on time. I don't want any more embarrassment for the day."
They walked out of the room and reached their lockers... Mercedes' was just a few lockers away from Luke's. "Having a bad day, sweetie?" She asked, while putting her books in and getting what she needed for the history class.
Luke mimicked her as he replied, "Don't ask ... I just want to get this day over with."
"Aw poor you! What happened?" She wanted to know.
"I will tell you later. But know it's not good at all." Luke frowned, thinking about what would happen next. They walked together quickly to the class. Noticing the lobby was empty, Luke freaked out and almost sprinted to reach the class.
"Hey, wait for me." Mercedes called back and ran too.
When they got near their classroom, Luke could hear the teacher giving the introduction, and knew he was dead today.
Reaching the door, Luke was huffing and panting when he got the teacher's attention. Mercedes wasn't far behind.
The teacher turned around to look at them, and Luke was caught off-guard meeting a familiar pair of blue eyes again. "Sorry for being late, sir!" Mercedes spoke up for both of them.
"Hello there, get in quick. You are not very late." Luke and Mercedes nodded and got in, fetching two empty seats next to one another. Luke could see Gust sitting in the other row, and could sense the eyes on him, but he ignored him and sat beside Mercedes.
"So as I was saying,..." The new teacher began, and Luke listened to him keenly, "I am going to be your new teacher for the subject of U.S. History for this term. Noah Mayer is the name." He smiled a million dollar smile, making Luke smitten by his adorableness.