Mrs. Castro opened the door for Noah with a welcoming smile on her face. “Hello Noah!” she greeted him in her strong accent.
Noah stepped inside the domicile smiling back. “Hello Mrs. Castro.” Luke was right behind him, shyly entering the room.
“And who is this young man?” Mrs. Castro asked, referring to Luke and smiling at him. The blonde too politely smiled back.
“Hello ma’am, I am Luke.” He introduced himself.
“He is the one I was telling you who needs home-schooling.” Noah added. “I thought he would join in with your son to study together. Hope that’s not a problem?”
“Oh no, not at all.” Mrs. Castro waved it off. “God knows my son needs to meet new people, especially someone of his age. He is the kind of a person who likes to remain aloof from others, and that’s what I want him to change.”
Noah was about to say something when a voice from behind stopped him. “I am grateful mother that you are helping me in getting my new tutor to dislike me already... makes my work lighter to shoo him away soon.” Mrs. Castro saw her son walk towards her and stand by her side. He looked at Noah and smirked. “No offence to you.” As soon as his gaze shifted to the familiar blonde standing beside his to-be-tutor who had a look of amusement on his face, Mrs. Castro’s son growled rolling his eyes. “My god ... not again”
Luke couldn’t hold his laughter. “Told you, things don’t always go like you want them to. I knew we would meet again.” He teased. It was the same guy who worked at the mall. ‘What was the name again? Oh yeah ... Maxi!’
Noah looked between the two and wondered aloud, “You two have met before?” Mrs. Castro had the same incredulity on her face too.
Luke turned to his boyfriend to answer, but a huff from Maxi cut him off. “Unfortunately, yes.” Maxi said. “What is this gasbag doing here anyway?”
“Maximiliano” Mrs. Castro scolded, “You are being rude to my guests. Apologize for your behaviour right now!”
“It’s ok Mrs. Castro.” Luke said, never leaving the grey eyes looking challengingly at him. “I didn’t take it personally. Besides, I have seen the worst of him; isn’t that right, Maximiliano?”
“It’s Maxi.” Maxi knew what Luke was doing and it was getting him all the more annoyed. “And you are yet to see my worst.”
Noah cleared his throat feeling the tension growing thicker between his boyfriend and this guy and said. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Castro. I think it will be fun teaching you.” Maxi just smirked at that and looked away.
“Maxi, why don’t you take Mr. Mayer and Luke to your room? I will bring up some snacks for you.”
“That’s really not necessary Mrs. Castro.”
“Nonsense, you have come to my house for the first time, Noah. Let me at least try to be a good hostess.”
Luke and Noah smiled at her as she disappeared out of the room. Maxi looked behind his mother as she walked towards the kitchen and said once she was out of ear-shot, “So my troop, follow my lead.”
“Aye Aye Captain.” Luke muttered and Noah nudged him to keep quiet as they both followed the dark-haired guy up the staircase.
“Since when did you go on a diet, Mr. Rivera?” Mercedes quizzed as she looked at Gust’s lunch tray. He had opted for just veggies and a fruit juice today, unlike his usually junk-stuffed lunch. “Don’t tell me you are trying out to be one of the Cheerios now.”(hahah, from Glee, yay! My Fave show! Lol) She pursed her lips to stop herself from laughing. However, Casey and Tracey couldn’t control themselves and laughed at that comment.
Candes didn’t. She just looked at the depressed blond guy sitting beside her and felt bad for him. Gust didn’t retort to Mercedes’ mock, much to everyone’s surprise. He frowned instead.
“What’s up man?” Casey asked. He was sitting on the other side of Gust and he put his hand around his shoulders and pulled him closer.
“Nothing,” Gust mumbled and lowered his head.
“Oh, don’t you dare say it’s nothing.” Tracey sternly said. She had noticed his bad mood earlier that morning.
Gust didn’t utter a word, and that worried each one in the group.
“Okay, are you going to tell us what’s wrong?” Mercedes asked with a serious face, and looked around searching for someone. “And did anyone see Joe today?”
Casey saw the sudden change in his friend at that moment. Gust’s body tensed up at the mention of Joe’s name, and his dad’s words began to echo in his ears. ‘If you love your mom and if you respect my decision, you are not seeing that Brannan boy again.’ Gust felt a soft hand over his and saw Candes gripping it. He looked up at her and got a reassuring smile.
“Hey dude, is everything alright between you and Joe?” Casey asked, and concern showed up on each one of their faces.
When Gust didn’t answer, Tracey got annoyed. “Come on Gust, tell us something. You are getting us worried. Candes?” She looked at the green-eyed girl and asked, “Do you know something about this? If yes, then please tell us.” Candes lowered her gaze not knowing how to answer to that.
“For God’s sakes, will any one of you tell us what happened and where the hell is Joe?” Mercedes raised her voice this time.
“Um ... I think I know where he is right now.” Casey said out of the blue, and every head turned to look at him - confused. The boy was staring towards the cafeteria door and Gust followed his gaze, only to find his boyfriend standing there. He was not alone though.
“Who is that girl with him?” Tracey wondered aloud.
Gust saw Joe looking around the room. Joe’s eyes finally locked on Gusts’ and they stared at each other with an unaffected look. Yet, both of them could see that sorrow in the other’s eyes.
“That’s Claire, Joe’s cousin.” He told the others, his eyes not leaving Joe’s gaze. “She’s a junior.” He had met the pretty, black-haired, petite girl once at Al’s, and that’s how he knew her.
“Hey Joe, over here!” Mercedes waved her hand to call for his attention, but he looked at her once and then averted his gaze. Claire glared at her and possessively took her cousin’s hand guiding him across the room to another table. “What the hell!”
“It seems like Mrs. Brannan has put a watch-dog to work.” Candes frowned and looked at Gust who gestured to her to cut the crap out.
But the damage was done. “Huh? What are you talking about Candes?” Tracey asked.
Gust exhaled. He had to tell his friends because he could see how worried they all were for him. And moreover, he trusted them to not blurt out his problems in front of other people. “It’s complicated.” He said and began to tell them what happened.
Meanwhile, Joe kept stealing glances over to where Gust and the group sat. Seeing his boyfriend again today after a long weekend made him happy - two fucking days without Gust just because of his dumb mother’s stupidity. She forbade Joe from meeting him or even working at Al’s, and it infuriated him. All through the weekend, they argued and argued and just argued. That was not enough, and now she has him leashed like a dog, with his stupid cousin there to keep an eye on him.
He turned to Claire who was almost hogging her lunch, but had her eyes glued on him. This girl knew her job well and that’s why Joe was afraid to talk to Gust in her presence. One mistake and she would go tell his mother on him.
But he had to talk to Gust somehow, and he had to find some way to meet him. “Hey dude.” Joe looked over to see where the voice was coming from, and saw a guy walking over to him. “How’s it going Joe?”
It was one of his classmates who shared some classes with him. “Hey Mike.” Mike was one person who was a mutual friend to him and Gust as well – the same guy who had helped them get together at the victory party the previous month. He was agitated at first how he, Luke and Gust had fooled him, but had softened up eventually and ended up being friends with this bubbly drama kid.
Joe greeted him cheerfully and stood up to hug him. He grabbed this opportunity and whispered into his ears, “I need your help, just play along.”
Mike was confused.
Joe backed off and introduced him to his cousin. Claire waved at him disinterested, and went back to eating. “Oh, didn’t you ask me for my number the other day?”
Mike made a face. “Wh-” he began, but Joe cut him off hurriedly.
“Just wait.” He took a napkin and borrowed a pen from his nerdy cousin to write something down.
“But dude, I alrea-” Mike began again, but Joe quickly cut him off yet again.
“Here you go.” Joe almost shoved it in his hands and went for another hug – this time to whisper, “Give that to Gust for me, please?”
Now Claire looked sceptically at them. She saw her cousin hug that other guy and narrowed her eyes.
When the two split, Joe pleaded through his eyes. Mike was clueless to what was going on but he nodded anyway.
The bell rang and everyone began to walk out of the cafeteria. Joe with Claire stalking his trails, walked out too, looking at Gust through the corner of his eyes.
The blonde was staring back at his lover too.
Casey, Mercedes and Tracey were shaken by what Gust had told them. Processing the details, they slowly walked out too, feeling bad for their friends. Candes walked out with them as well, but Gust lingered behind wanting some time alone.
“Hey Gust.” He heard a familiar voice behind him and saw Mike standing there. “Joe asked me to give this to you.” Gust gazed at the paper his friend held out for him and took it cautiously. “Gust? Is everything alright?” Mike asked with worry.
Gust looked up with glassy eyes and nodded slightly. “Yes.” He uttered, “Thank you.”
Mike took that as a sign that Gust didn’t want to tell him anything. Although it hurt him, he quite understood that. “Okay. See you around.” He smiled and left.
Now being left alone, Gust opened the note and read. ‘Snyder Pond after school.’
“This is not done Maxi. You are way too behind the in the syllabus.” Noah frowned. “Guess you’ll have to add five more hours to your study time.”
“Non mi rompere le palle.” (Don’t break my balls) Maxi blurted out in his shock, and regretted it as soon as he realized he swore in front of his teacher.
Luke’s head shot up and he looked amused. “What?” Noah asked, clueless about what he had said.
Maxi realized then that this so-called teacher didn’t seem to understand Italianand he smirked. “Oh, I just said I will definitely have to work harder.”
Noah didn’t looked convinced when he said, “Uhm ... okay. But you could have just simply said that.” He looked sceptically at him and went back to scrutinizing the study materials that Maxi had with him.
“Actually, Italian words just come out of my mouth sometimes before I know it.” He shrugged as he explained.
“So you are Italian?” Luke asked him intrigued.
Maxi looked at him before nodding with a fake smile, “Sei un testa di merda”(You are a shithead)
The blonde bit his lower lip and just smiled. “I don’t know what you said but I love how those words sound. It’s like music to the ears.”
“Italian is a really beautiful language.” Noah agreed.
“You know I would really like to hear some more of that beautiful language.” Luke said.
“Why not?” Maxi had a mischievous smile on his face. “Vaffanculo a Lei, la sua ragazza, e' la sua madre.” (You, sir, go fuck yourself, and your girl and your mother.)
The laughter bubbled up and Luke couldn’t stop himself from laughing at that. Maxi looked like a deer caught in the headlights and asked, “What’s so funny about that?”
Luke waved his hands. “Nothing sir, nothing at all. I just have these laughing fits sometimes; can’t help it.” He said between his laughter. Noah looked at him with a puzzled look on his face.
“You seriously need help.” Maxi frowned at him, but he inwardly felt relieved. He had almost thought Luke had understood what he had said.
“Well I don’t know about that, but I definitely want to try some Italian words. Tell me if I got it wrong, okay?” Luke smirked before he said, “Che cazzo stai dicendo? Vacagare, pistolino. Lei e' un cafone stronzo. vaffancula a lei, Maximiliano!” (What the hell were you talking about? Piss off, prick. You are nothing but a rude asshole. Go fuck yourself, Maximiliano!)
Noah looked bewildered but Maxi was in shock. He couldn’t believe what Luke had just said to him. ‘Does that mean he knows Italian? No fucking way!’
“Don’t look at me like that.” Luke chuckled. “I am a born Italian.”
“But ...” Noah furrowed his eyebrows in puzzlement. “I thought you were ...”
“Well, my biological father was Italian, and I have lived half of my life in Malta while he was alive,” Luke elaborated. “That’s how I know how to speak that language.”
“Oh!” Noah’s thoughts deepened. “You never told me.” He saw Luke shrug before going back to reading his English lit book. ‘How weird is that? I have been with him for almost four months now. And when I was thinking I had him all figured out, I find out I don’t know many things about him. Luke Snyder, why are you so full of mystery?’ A small hint of smile spread on his face as he kept staring at his lover.
His thoughts were interrupted when Mrs. Castro came in bringing some refreshments for all of them. At one moment, when she and Noah were busy talking, Luke leaned over Maxi’s side and whispered in his ears, “I maybe a shithead you know, but you definitely are one.”
In different circumstances, Maxi would feel anger over someone saying such a thing to him, but right now he could only feel and enjoy the warm breath that was lightly brushing his skin.
Joe pushed Gust forcefully, pinning him to the nearby tree and gave him a wet sloppy kiss right on the lips. “Joe,” Gust moaned his name into the kiss. How he had missed this, this closeness to his boyfriend, to his lover. “Love me, Joe. Show me how much you love me.”
The blonde drowned in his kiss, tasting the sweet tang of some chocolate bar Joe had probably eaten. He forgot the past and what had happened, forgetting all the forbiddance he went through coming from his family to be with the only person he loved today. His mind was filled with thoughts of him, and all he could taste was him. Joe returned his kiss with fervour, memorizing the lines of his cheekbones with his fingers and breathed in the musky scent of his cologne.
They didn't exchange any more words. Vaguely, Joe remembered Gust pulling him deep inside the woods between their kisses, clothes were undone, jeans pulled down and soon their naked bodies danced close to each other. Joe stole a kiss before he bent down to oblige to Gust’s pulsating hardened member.