Noah was sitting at the bar all by himself, spending his Sunday calmly. Chris had suggested they go to a movie, but he turned him down saying he was not feeling like it.
He had to have some time for his own. All of the thinking he did last night, made him miss Luke too much. For the past week, Luke had ignored him most of the time. Other than the teacher-student talk that they shared briefly, Luke would keep avoiding talking to him. The intimacy was long lost, thanks to his ruthless behaviour towards Luke. While half of him wanted Luke to keep avoiding, the other half was getting stabbed at every second that was spent without seeing Luke or talking to him or touching or kissing him.
Last night was when he had realized it was not just a warm body that his own body yearned for, it was Luke’s body he wanted. Thinking of Luke’s slender body right now, gave his groin an instant twitch.
The unexpected arousal sent shivers down his body and he drained his glass of wine in one gulp. He asked the bartender for another round and waited. With his mind wandering around the memories he shared with Luke, he wondered what he would be doing this weekend. Was he having fun? Going out, dating someone? He certainly didn’t know. ‘Luke with someone else?’ He gripped his glass tighter in extreme jealousy as the bartender filled it up for Noah again.
Not able to hold himself off, he removed his cell phone and dialled Luke’s number. He could hear the ringing for a long time until it stopped.
‘Luke didn’t take my call? Why?’ Noah was surprised. ‘Was he really going out already, dating other guys? He can’t do ... he just can’t!’
He redialled his number and waited again. The ringing went for about quite awhile before Luke finally took the call, much to his relief.
“What is it, Mr. Mayer?” Luke asked coldly.
“Uhm...” Noah was kind of taken back by the coldness and thought it was better if he hadn’t called. “I was ...”
“Luke!” A male voice in the background got his attention and he furrowed his eyebrows listening intently, “Let’s go to my room. The bed is much cosy than this shitty couch.”
“Who’s that?” Noah asked in an angry voice.
Luke could smell jealousy instantly and smiled slightly to himself. He came back with, “It’s none of your business anymore. I am in the middle of something Mr. Mayer, so if this is not very important we can talk in school tomorrow.”
“Who’s on the phone?” Noah heard the guy asking Luke.
“Just someone ... no one important really...” Luke said keeping his phone over the heap of books taking them with him. Luke didn’t realize that he had actually forgotten to end the call, and Noah now could overhear their conversation quiet clearly.
‘I am no one important?’ Noah couldn’t believe what Luke had said to this guy – whoever he was. But the question was, ‘What was Luke doing with him on his couch that they are taking it to his room, on his bed?’
Noah held the phone closer to his ear. He could hear the banging of the door and he feared the worst when he thought he heard the door locking as well. He swallowed a big lump wondering what this guy would do with his Luke behind a locked door. Now he was getting possessive ... but he didn’t care.
In between his thoughts, he missed something that the guy had said. But he heard Luke’s familiar moaning sound after awhile, before he said, “You are an expert really. How many times have you practised doing this?”
The guy chuckled, “I have never done this before.”
“WOW! Your hands do magic.” Luke impressively commented and sighed in pleasure. “I want more, please?” he begged.
Noah could have passed out right there. He didn’t know what to do so he ended the call immediately, not wanting to hear it anymore. His heart was blazing in flames with tremendous wrath. ‘How could Luke do this to me?’ He took his glass of wine and gulped it down fully. The alcohol however, made him lightheaded and he shut his eyes tight to sober up a bit. Thinking it wasn’t a good idea to drink more; he paid his bill and headed out.
Luke smiled and handed the empty bowl back to Gust. “It was really delicious. But you didn’t let me have more.” He pouted.
“I didn’t make more of it, sorry.” Gust said.
“If you ever decide to make the crème-brulee again, let me know. I will be ready on one foot to be the food taster.” Luke grinned.
“Sure. I will be right back; let me put this away.” Gust said gesturing to the empty bowls, and began to head out of the room.
“Hey, where’s the book that we borrowed from the library?” Luke asked, not able to find it on the bed where various books were spread.
“It’s in the drawer, help yourself.” Gust said before he left the room. Luke quickly got off the bed and went to search for the book in the drawer. While he looked for it, he found a picture that was kept below the neatly arranged books inside the drawer.
He retrieved it and noticed it was a snapshot of Gust with Joe. He wondered when they had taken this. Looking closely, he noticed it was taken in the Oakdale Park and they both were sitting on a bench. Instead of looking in the camera, they had their gazes transfixed into the each other’s eyes like they were lost in most delightful world. They looked so happy.
“That was taken a couple of weeks ago.” Luke was caught off guard hearing Gust, who stood just behind him. He had sadness written over his face when he slowly reached out his hand and took the picture from Luke. A sad smile crept on his face remembering the happy times with Joe.
“Gust, don’t you think you should try to talk to him?” Luke suggested. Gust had filled him in with all the things that had happened with him, Joe and Candes for last month and nonetheless, he was shocked. More than shocked, he was angry ... at himself, for not being there for his friend during his time of need. And now when things were messed up, he found himself helpless in the situation.
Gust snorted sarcastically and put the picture back into the drawer. “Been there done that.” He took the book out that they needed and sighed looking at Luke, “He doesn’t want to even see me. Even when we cross paths, he won’t look at me.”
“He is hurt Gust. What do you expect?” Luke explained, “But that doesn’t change the fact that he loves you as much as you love him. I have seen it in both of your eyes.”
“What am I supposed to do then? Hell! If you tell me, I would be ready to fall on my knees and beg to him to forgive me. I don’t mind him insulting me, tell me all the bad things, because I deserve it... but if only he would talk to me once?? I am dying to hear his voice.”
Luke felt bad for his best friend. Gust surely did wrong hiding all the facts from Joe, but he didn’t deserve this kind of severe punishment.
Joe dribbled the ball for quite a few times, trying to save it from his teammates and went for the long shot. However, once again, his shot missed and every other person present in the gym laughed, making fun of how their teammate was down on skills today.
The coach blew his whistle and everyone quietened down. “All of you, out of the gym. NOW!” Joe looked red in embarrassment as he stood there out of breath. He turned, beginning to head for the shower cubicles, but the coach stopped him, “Not you Brannan,I would like to have a word with you.”
Joe nodded. The other players dispersed and quickly walked out of the spacious gym.
When everyone was gone the coach spoke up, “What’s wrong with you, Brannan?” he asked in a stern voice. His usually dexterous player was inept today and he wanted to know the reason behind it. “The big game is tomorrow and it’s sad enough to say you are not giving your best at all. Where’s that Joe that gives the fullest with whatever he does? We need that guy back to win the game tomorrow.”
“Sorry coach.” Joe apologized, his eyes lowered down in shame. “I guess my mind is somewhere else.”
“This is not done, Brannan!” Coach said in stern voice. “You are staying here practicing till you get it right. I don’t want any lame excuses, you hear me?”
Joe nodded and the coach left. He dribbled the ball while he frowned. He was angry with himself that he was thinking about Gust all the time; so much that he couldn’t concentrate on the big game that was more important.
He heard the coach’s voice echoing around the gym, “What are you doing here, Snyder? Can’t you see we have practice going on here?”
Joe turned around and found Luke at the entrance looking timidly at the coach. “Um ... actually coach, I needed to talk to Joe for a second. I promise I won’t take long.”
The coach looked between both the boys. Joe looked away knowing exactly what Luke was here for.
When he was allowed, Luke thanked the coach but was warned to be gone as soon as he can. The coach left them alone moving past Luke, and the blonde guy came in watching Joe disinterestedly playing with the ball. “Joe, I ...”
“If Gust has sent you here to talk to me on his behalf, then you can fuck off. I don’t want to hear anything from that coward.” Joe angrily spat and threw the ball forcefully towards the basket. However, he missed the shot, making him angrier than before. “Damn it!”
“No Joe, I didn’t come here for Gust; nor is he coward...” Luke frowned at Joe’s choice of words. “I am not even going to defend him or anything but ...”
“Then don’t.” Joe snapped facing him with a deathly glare. “It’s none of your business anyway.”
Luke was now sick of Joe’s bitchiness and came back with, “Oh it surely is between the two of you, but when people come down to their idiocy there has to be someone to knock some sense into them. I admit Gust did the wrong thing by hiding Candes’ pregnancy from you...”
Joe gave out a sardonic laugh and a hurt expression appeared on his face, “So you knew that all along also? And I thought at least I could trust you...”
“THIS!” Luke cut him off, pointing an accusing finger at him, “This is the idiocy I am talking about. You do not understand the situation Joe! I didn’t know at all; remember I didn’t even see him much after you two started dating? Come on Joe, you know it... you love Gust.”
“I loved him ... but all he did was betray me.” He said between his gritted teeth. It still broke his heart thinking about it. “It all started with betrayal. First he used me to get you jealous, and then he goes and sleeps with his ex, getting her pregnant.”
“Listen you shithead, when you don’t know anything, it’s better to keep your mouth shut.” Luke was angered. “You are blaming Gust for all the wrong reasons. Candes is two months pregnant. You didn’t even know Gust at that time. And he came to know about her pregnancy while you were dating. What’s his fault in all this?”
Joe’s anger had diminished a little, but he kept up his face hard enough when he said, “Well he could have told me the truth. Why didn’t he tell me the truth? Didn’t he trust me enough?”
Luke tried to explain, “He was afraid to tell you dammit! I know it sounds silly but that’s how it feels ... like scary hell, when you deeply care for someone else; scared of losing that special person. Now tell me, what are you punishing him for? That he loved you too much to tell you the truth?”
“But he should have at least tried to explain it to me. Who knows, maybe I would have accepted it?” Joe said and turned around. “But it’s too late now.”
Luke watched his back in disbelief. “Are you sure you love Gust?” The anger on Joe’s face fled in a second hearing it, and felt the need to desperately tell Luke that he was wrong on that. But he didn’t. “I doubt that. Guess, my coming here was a waste of time. I shouldn’t have done this. Screw you, Mr. Joe Brannan.”
Luke swore under his breath and stomped out of the gym fuming. Joe found the loneliness horrifying with all the guilty thoughts coming to him. He calmly picked up the ball that lay on the ground, and dribbled it for some time.
A strong rush of wrath passed him and he forcefully threw the ball towards the basket. This time, it ended right inside the basket.
“Mr. Snyder, I need to have a word with you.”
Luke rolled his eyes when he heard Noah call him, and walked to him while others strolled out of the class. “What’s wrong?”
Noah watched the last student move out from the corner of his eyes and finally when they were empty he angrily asked, “I called you last night, why did you hang up on me?”
“I was busy.” Luke shrugged.
“Oh sorry that I interrupted your important work...” Noah sarcastically talked. “I could hear you were kind of very busy with him.” He said in utter hatred.
“Yes I was.” Luke said, furrowing his brows. He wondered why Noah seemed so angry. “What’s up with you? Why are you so angry?”
Noah kicked his chair as he stood up and caught Luke tightly by his arms. “Who were you with, huh? Who was so important that you would choose being with him rather taking my call for a minute?”
“God! Noah ...” Luke tried to free himself from the strong arms as they strongly squeezed his biceps. It was causing him pain. “I was with Gust and we were just ...”
“No need to tell me what you did with him.” Noah clenched his jaw as his mind was going awry over what he had heard last night over the phone. “You slutty little bitch, when you were done with me, you went to your friend to satisfy your needs for the night, huh?”
“NOAH!” Luke yelled feeling shameful by the faux accusation.
But Noah didn’t stop. He continued, “What? It hurt you? Well, it hurt me too when you showed me my place in your life. I was just another fuck for you. I bet with that attitude of yours, you have slept with half of the town by now.”
This time Luke couldn’t take it. He forcefully pushed Noah off him. “Stop it! Just stop it you fucker.”
Noah almost fell, but somehow balanced himself with the table. Luke’s move got him angrier, and he turned to him with a glare.
A single teardrop however, extinguished all the flames of rage inside him, and he softened up seeing Luke’s watery eyes. “I hate you! I hate you, Noah!” He said and ran out of the room in tears.
Noah wanted to go after him but didn’t do it. A part of him stopped himself and made him think that is good this way.
‘Hate me, Luke. I am no good for you ...’ Noah thought and covered his red face as his eyes dampened as well.
Gust was supposed to drive Luke home that day, and he noticed his bad mood as they got in the car. “Bad day?” he asked breaking the silence.
“Yeah... I just want to forget that I ever lived this day.” Luke said and asked, “How was yours?”
“It was going so-so until right now.” Gust grinned ear to ear while he spoke, “You won’t believe what happened in the parking lot. I was walking to my car and I saw Joe.”
Luke was activated by the hopefulness. “No shit!” He grinned, forgetting what happened with Noah and asked, “He talked to you?” He was hopeful thinking Joe listened to him after all.
“No!” Gust said but had the same excitement on his face. “He looked at me back! Isn’t that great?”
Luke’s grin fell, and was replaced by an amused smile. “Just that? And here I was, thinking you two must have worked your way back together.” He said resting his head back on the seat.
“I wish.” Gust shrugged, gazing at the road.
“But anyway, that’s progress. You did say he would always ignore you.”
“Yeah... I wonder what changed. And it wasn’t just a glance, but he stared at me for awhile, and I was like wishing that time would just stop.”
“Aw! So what did he do then?”
“Nothing.” Gust’s smile fell and he pouted. “After staring like that, he then drove off without another look.”
“But, he was staring at you dude! That’s a big achievement in itself.” Luke cheered him up and it worked. “I bet he wants you back in his life.”
“Yeah.” Gust said smiling. A comfortable silence prevailed between the two for sometime as Luke gazed at Gust’s love-struck face in amusement, while Gust was lost in his own thoughts. After a while he mumbled, “Tomorrow is his basketball game.”
“Yup! And there will be a victory party tomorrow night.”
“If they win.” Gust added.
“Of course they will.” Luke stated as a matter of fact. “Oakdale High rocks!” He let out a cheer and they both laughed.
“Yeah, but did you forget; we aren’t seniors?” Gust reminded. “It’s a senior only party, and we will be kicked out if we go.”
“Oh hush! I have heard that they are planning a maskparty this time. And this will be the best time for you to talk to Joe.”
“What?!” Gust screeched freaking out, and almost lost control of the car. He steadied the steering wheel back and huffed, “What are you thinking of doing, Snyder?”
“Well, I have a plan!” Luke exclaimed with a smug smile forming on his face.