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Luke scanned his image once more in the mirror and pouted. “Damn! I look so disheveled.” It was mere exaggeration though. He was looking more than fine, but his inner need to look better for Noah, was giving diffidence to him.
The last class had ended half an hour back and since that time, he was lingering in the school’s washroom. He was to meet the history teacher in ten minutes and he was dreadfully nervous.
Soon, he was keyed up with the thought of spending a whole hour with Noah. It just seemed so dreamy to him. He quickly turned the tap on and splashed some running water onto his face. He ran his wet hand through his hair soaking it, and then fixed it back. Trying out various styles, he finally settled on one look that enhanced his appearance even more.
Luke winked at his image, grinning widely, satisfied with his looks now. He could now bet that even a straight guy would give him a second look when he would pass. ‘Ok, not a straight guy! But at least … Mr. Mayer?’ He hopefully thought.
He turned to leave but stopped again. He turned back, looking at his image, before glancing down at his blue shirt.
He looked up again and bit his lower lip in deliberation. Going with the idea anyway, he pulled down the zipper of his shirt, exposing part of his chest. One could see the chest hair that wasn’t much, but Luke thought it would give a hell of an arousal to any man!
He coyly smiled at his reflection.
Suddenly, he realized that it must be getting late, so he checked the time.
‘3.15 already? SHIT!’
He caught hold of his backpack, and began to leave in a hurry, when he bumped into someone coming inside.
“Sweet chocolates! It must be my lucky day for me to be bumping into you.” Casey said, with his signature smug look stuck on his face.
“Can’t you watch where you’re going?” Luke asked, immensely irate.
Casey however, dramatically sighed over that, replying, “My eyes keep lingering around, searching for some beauty around the school. Can’t blame me for not looking where I was going, when I saw someone more tempting around the corner.” He winked after eyeing Luke’s alluring appearance. It was sure he was trying to impress someone. But who that someone is, was what Casey wondered about.
Luke rolled his eyes at the usual flirting he got from Casey, but this was not the time. He had more important things to do.
Casey wasn’t gay or anything… he was straight and had a steady relationship with a pretty girl named Tracey. The trio shared art class and that’s how he knew him. Luke always teased him that he was a gay guy trapped inside his body, since he always flirted with Luke. Tracey was a fun girl too.
“Get out of my way.” Luke annoyingly hit him with his own backpack and left, leaving an amused Casey in a roar of laughter.
The tittle-tattle was on. Swearing over gay guys around the campus and taking every chance of insulting them, was the motive.
Joe was in the gym shower, and he shook his head as he heard the guys talking about someone named Luke, and what a fucking punk he was for eye-fucking every other guy at the school.
He had been through all this last year when he had come out, and he bet that these frigging homophobes were just exaggerating about some innocent guy in school.
He turned the shower back on and started washing the soap off his face, when he heard a commotion going on outside…
“… cover up; gayboy Rivera is here.” He caught the tail end of the sentence.
He quickly washed and dried himself when he heard a sound of someone hitting and swearing. He feared the worst. A blaze of anger struck inside him when he imagined another innocent guy getting hit just because he was gay.
He was ready to storm out and kick the asshole out, when he heard,
“If I hear any of you making any hateful remarks about us gays, you’ll have it coming …”
Joe was amused. He quietly opened the door and peeked outside through the crack.
He could see a guy storming off the shower cubicles, leaving that poor – scratch that- that loser, down on the floor. He held a giggle in his throat watching all his friends trying in vain to get him back up on his feet. They all seemed so freaked out.
He once again looked up at the guy’s back who was leaving and felt the need to get to know this guy –who was gay, out, and so proud, that he would do anything to keep his honour.
Joe kept staring until he was finally gone, and the he vanished from the cubicles.
Noah couldn’t move for a second, nor could he take his eyes off of his student. There stood Luke in front of him, looking fantastic. It became hard for him to blink. His mind warned him not to, but his heart wanted to keep staring at this handsome student of his.
Luke noticed this change in Noah and blushed. It had been a minute since he had come in, and his teacher wouldn’t stop eyeing him. He shamelessly liked the attention and felt flattered.
However, Noah pulled himself out of his trance and looked away. He senselessly shuffled the books on his table saying, “Um … get in, Luke. We should start off with your lessons.”
“Whatever you say, Noah…” Luke whispered, staring dreamily at his teacher.
Noah looked up bewildered, and they made eye contact. He opened his mouth to say something, but it remained agape for a moment before he closed it shut. He swallowed as their eyes lingered on one another a bit too long.
“What? You don’t mind me calling you by your first name, or do you?” Luke said smiling lopsidedly. However, his smile was having an effect on Noah.
‘Holy Hell! He wants to call me by my first name? What’s going on in his mind? Or is it just me? Students do call their teacher by their first names these days. It makes for a good rapport between them … but Luke?’
‘Say No!’ Noah’s mind screamed, but he said, “Um … sure!” He blinked several times and coughed in nervousness, “Sure you can.”
Luke nodded and watched him. Noah looked so anxious. “So, shall we begin?”
“Begin what?” Noah went blank.
“Uh … History? What else?”
“Oh yeah!” Noah turned away to get his book, hiding the blush forming on his face. “Take your seat.” He opened his desk drawer and shuffled it, as if searching for something ,while his eyes kept wandering, trying to see what Luke was doing.
Luke sat on the extra chair placed by the desk, facing his teacher. Noah thought this would be an interactive way of studying better, but now he had second thoughts about it.
He shook all the other thoughts out of his head and concentrated on just guiding Luke right now. He finally retrieved a book out of his drawer and placed it in front of Luke. “I have heard you have great taste in literature. So have you ever had a chance to go through this book?”
Luke observed it and quickly recognized it. A smile lit on his face. “Are you kidding? Philippe Gregory is a legend! OMG I can’t believe you own a copy of “The White Queen!”.” Luke’s eyes were shining as he began to turn the pages.
Noah placed his elbows on the desk, noticing the excitement in Luke as he talked. “Nah! I borrowed it from one of my friends. It’s his book.”
“Lucky friend.” Luke said without looking up. He kept turning the pages when he finally got the one he was looking for. “Oh my god! I love this scene ...” He said, and began to read from the book – “… There are Yorkists in every great house in the land now, and every profitable business or place or tax is in their gift. Their boy-king is on the throne, and his supporters form the new court. We, the defeated, are paupers in our own houses and strangers in our own country, our king an exile, our queen a vengeful alien plotting with our old enemy of France. We have to make terms with the tyrant of York, while praying that God turns against him and our true king sweeps south with an army for yet another battle...”
Noah was stunned noticing Luke’s love for literature. He had never imagined a guy so dull and having no interest in history, would be reading something like “The White Queen”, which was an historical work of fiction.
Luke was talking and Noah was just staring at him. Before he knew it, his mind had drifted elsewhere. ‘Luke looks so different today. He looks … God forbid me for thinking like this; but he really looks amazing. He is the same Luke I saw this morning, but his looks then didn’t affect me like they are now. Oh his hair! Damn, it looks hot on him …’ His eyes travelled down and down, ‘He has gorgeous eyes. The way they look at me … and why the hell does he keep licking his lips like that? It’s … It’s too effective. He kept doing that this morning; God knows what he was thinking.’
At some point, Luke looked up and said something, but Noah didn’t hear; he just nodded anyway because he was too busy thinking.
His eyes stuck on one place and remained there for sometime. … ‘Shit! His shirt’s open half-way and …’ Noah looked up suspiciously at Luke. ‘What’s he trying to do? Does he have a crush on me? He’s even wearing after shave …’
“Oh wait!” Luke said out of the blue, which got Noah out of his train of thoughts. “Why are we doing this?”
“Doing what?” Noah asked innocently.
“Reading a book … I thought you were going to guide me on history lessons.” Luke was confused but Noah just smiled.
Candes was waiting outside for Gust. He was late and she was pissed. When Gust came into view she made a face at him.
He couldn’t help but frown. He had just had enough angst for one day, and he certainly couldn’t handle another fight between them. So he quietly walked up to his car and got in. Candes did the same, and in silence, they drove off.
She eyed him and concluded that Gust was angrier than she was, and she didn’t know the reason exactly. She shrugged it off anyway and turned on the radio. The Miley Cyrus song, “Party in the USA”, screamed through the player, and Candes swayed in her seat enjoying it.
Gust scowled and turned it off. All he needed right now was silence, but unfortunately Candes yelled, “What’s wrong with you?”
“Sorry baby … I had a bad day. Please bear with me.” He whispered rubbing her thigh to soothe her.
Candes pouted and felt bad. “Aw hun. Don’t worry. Everything will be alright.” She said softly and they shared a smile. She turned to look out of the window, enjoying the view racing by, when suddenly she was reminded, “Oh I forgot to tell you. Guess what Sarah heard today?”
‘Another gossip! Fuck! Why me?!!’ His mind cried, but he asked anyway, “What?”
“Remember history class, when Luke got the third degree from Mr. Mayer for not paying attention?” Gust furrowed his brows listening intently at the mention of Luke’s name. “Well, Sarah was sitting right in front of him listening to what he and that plump girl were talking about.”
“Evesdropping, you mean?” Gust asked in sarcasm.
Candes rolled her eyes, “Whatever! But what’s amusing is – Luke’s got a crush on the new history teacher.” She laughed richly. “Can you believe that?”
Gust couldn’t. “Bullshit! It’s all crap.”
“Dude! Sarah heard it herself – loud and clear – he was gushing about how attractive the teacher looks.” Gust gulped, a lump formed in his throat. “I tell you all these homosexuals are fucking crude. Their eyes just pounce on any attractive guy that passes them.” She giggled.
Gust was too deep in thought to reply.
“Hmm. Thinking back …” Candes continued, “I think Luke’s gonna have a chance there. I mean … that Mr. Mayer looks so gay! It’s just in his eyes …”
Candes was interrupted with an abrupt halt of the car, giving a hard jerk to her. “HEY!”
“WHAT? What did I do now?”
Gust turned to her and motioned his eyes outside. “We reached your place.”
“Oh! Ok …” Candes said. She carried her backpack and leaned over from her seat to give Gust a peck. But, Gust backed off, disappointing her. “Gust?” she whispered in surprise
“I am sorry Candy! I can’t do this anymore …” He said.
She gave out a nervous laugh, mulling over the sentence in confusion, “Can’t do what?”
“This …” He motioned his hand between them as he said, “The ‘Us’ so to speak.”
“W-wait … You want to break up with me? Why?” She was on the verge of crying.
Gust pursed his lips not knowing how to say this. “You know you were right … about what you said yesterday. You are a great girl and you certainly don’t deserve to be used like this … you know, as a … beard” He stammered out the last word.
Candes’ mouth went agape, and a single tear rolled down her cheek.
“I am g…” Before he could say anything more, a hand came flying and hot across his face. Gust clenched his teeth. He deserved this after all.
The car door opened and closed with a bang and he saw Candes disappearing into her apartment in a flood of tears. He could hear her loud cries from the car, and Gust felt worse.
“What you all talked about is history, Luke.” Noah explained, “You remember all the dates when the boy king was crowned, and many other incidents. This is all of the war times that we study in our lessons.”
“I am still not getting you.”
“Alright! Let’s not talk about this book. Let’s take the example of ‘Liberty Tavern’ … I bet you have read that book.”
Luke nodded confirming, “Yes I have.”
“So, you must also know what incident it is that he keeps mentioning…” Noah pushed the subject.
“Hmm … It’s when the American Revolution took place.”
“And when was that?”
“Um … 18th century?” Luke guessed, trying to remember the words in the book.
“Bingo!” Noah chuckled in victory, “And you say you have problems remembering dates?”
Luke grinned, “I didn’t know myself that I had it in me.”
“You know you do have a good brain after all.” They giggled. “So I am guessing, you want to be a writer?”
“Oh I sure do want to … um … does it sound cheesy if I say I see my books being best sellers in the future?” Luke said turning red.
“Not at all. Instead, it’s good that you dream big. Because when you dream big, you aim bigger and you earn biggest!”
“True!” Luke agreed. “Can I borrow this book from you for a week?”
“Will your friend mind?” Luke asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Nah!” Noah assured, and watched Luke as he put the book in his bag. “You know, if you want to be a writer, you shouldn’t be ignoring a subject like History.”
Luke looked lost, “Huh?”
“Yes! I mean History is in the past and I know you might be thinking who cares about the past anyway, but – you can’t write the future without knowing what the past was. The past teaches you more than you can learn in the present.” Luke narrowed his eyes at Noah making him smile, perplexed. “What?”
“How do you do that?” he asked.
“Make everything seem so easy? I mean, till this morning I thought history has no values in my life and now you go changing my mind, making me believe that it’s a helluva important subject. You are one evangelic person, you know that? Should I be scared?” Luke teased.
“Well what can I say!” They both laughed. “Fine! So we shall stop here for today, ok? I’ll …” His words were cut off when his hand felt warm, and he gasped.
Luke had placed his hand on Noah’s, while it lingered on the desk. “I just want to say … thank you.”
Noah looked down at their held hands and then up at Luke. He wanted to take his hand off right away, but it wouldn’t move. His hand had gone numb as if it wanted to stay there, enjoying the warmth of other hand, and feeling the love as Luke caressed it gently.
“Luke, it’s …”
The clicking sound of the door interrupted their tender moment, and Noah quickly dismissed the touch, removing his hand. Luke looked sad, though.
They both turned to the door when it opened wide, and Chris entered.
“Oh thank God Noah, you’re here!” Chris said, approaching the desk. He noticed Luke was there too. “Oh hello Mr. Snyder!”
“Hello Mr. Skudder.” He greeted his physical training teacher with a crooked smile. He was actually boiling on the inside; angry that he had broken up his special moment with Noah mid-way … ‘who knows where it would have headed if he hadn’t come?’ Luke blushed with that thought.
“Luke? Can you leave Noah and I alone for awhile?” Chris asked.
Before Luke could say anything, Noah spoke up, “He was leaving anyway, right Luke?” He looked at him uneasy, and saw sadness in the brown eyes.
Luke nodded in response and picked up his backpack, getting ready to leave. “Bye Mr. Skudder. Bye Noah.”
They both nodded. Chris felt a little weird hearing Luke refer to his teacher as ‘Noah’, but he shrugged the thought off as soon as it came.
“So Noah, are you ready for tomorrow night?” Chris asked with much enthusiasm. That got Luke’s ears up and snooping. He bent down acting, as if his shoe lace was undone and he was tying it.
“Uh … I thought we discussed it all at break time?” Noah tried to ignore the talking, since Luke was still in the room. He watched from the corner of his eyes noticing Luke was still there.
“Yes, but I thought it would be good if you pick me up at seven. We can roam around a bit before the movie starts. What do you say?”
Luke heard that and felt like he was stabbed right in the chest. ‘Noah was going out with Mr. Skudder? On a date? Why?’ He stood up and turned to look at them. Chris stood with his back towards Luke, but Noah could see the devastated look on Luke’s face, and his doubts were confirmed. Luke had a crush on him, and he had to do something about it.
So, he said for Luke to hear, “Yeah cool. I want our date to be fun.” He smiled at Chris but inside, he felt his heart sink because he saw Luke was in tears.
Luke couldn’t stay there any longer. His eyes burnt seeing Chris hugging Noah, and he couldn’t watch that. So he left, as tears made their way down his cheeks. His heart was aching hard and he didn’t know how to relieve the pain.
‘Why Noah? WHY?’
Gust sat at the table holding his head in his hands. It pained him with all the thoughts coming to his mind. He had just broken up with Candes, and the way her reaction was, he was feeling the guilt rising in him. He felt like he had been lying all this time to her. And it was obvious she would feel betrayed. But more than that, what hurt him, was Luke thinking about some other guy …
He was envious of his own teacher. ‘What is it with him that Luke likes him so much? How can he prefer a lean bodied guy like him over me, I have such a well built body. God! What’s wrong with him? At least I think I am far better than Mr. Serious’ He swore in his mind.
“Your coffee’s getting cold!” Gust heard the words and looked up in irritation. A guy of almost his age sat in front of him at his table.
“Why do you fucking care?” Gust harshly snapped.
The guy with emerald green eyes shrugged his muscular shoulders, “Well, if it gets cold, you will throw it away and that would be wastage, which is a serious problem in the world.”
“Who the hell are you? Some activist or something?” Gust frowned, “I will drink my coffee, and I will not waste anything in my life. Ok? Now just leave me alone!”
“You are so grumpy.” The guy chuckled, “You do need the caffeine fix.” He reached across the table and patted on Gust’s shoulder.
“What do you want?” Gust demanded.
“I want to kiss you.” The guy said with a straight face.
“What?” Gust thought he heard wrong.
“I said I want to kiss you. But we can do that later. For now, how about a date tonight?”
“Dude, I don’t know you.” Gust said with amusement.
“Well, that’s why I want to date you, so that we can get to know each other.”
“You are weird.” Gust replied.
“But cute! You gotta admit that.” He winked and took a tissue and pen. He wrote something on the paper while Gust just looked at the guy in shock. “There’s my number. Call me and we will set it up.”
“Hello?! I didn’t say ‘yes’!”
“But you didn’t even say ‘No’, so just gimme a call!” He stood up. “See ya around cutie!” He said and left.
Gust couldn’t say a thing, and just looked over his shoulder as the guy walked out of Java… ‘He indeed is cute’
He smiled and looked at the phone number. “Joe Brannan…” He read.
‘So Joe? You are going to help me a lot I guess?’ He thought with a smug smile, and pocketed the note.