Group: HUNTER admins
Member No.: 65
Joined: 2-September 11
luke can hear the footsteps tromping towards him before the shadow drops across his face, blocking the sun from his eyes better than his own eye lids can manage. two thin pieces of skin, more sensitive right now from the bruises, and he cracks one eye to peer up at his company. it’s nick, peering down at him with an assessing gaze. luke exhales slowly, pushing up on his elbows, then up so he’s sitting and then drags himself to his feet, ignoring the offer of a helping hand. he got into a fight, he’s not crippled.
“how’s your mouth?” nick asks, actual concern lacing his tone. luke spits blood onto the dirt between them in answer and nick hisses out a noise, moving closer as he demands, “open up, let me see. are any teeth knocked out?”
“hey, homes, you aren’t my dentist.” luke argues, but it’s feeble, and he doesn’t bat away nick’s hands as he tilts luke’s head back to get a good look inside his mouth. he even opens up, humoring him. “it’s just my gums, might have bit my cheek, too. it’ll heal, i’ve had way worse.” nick sighs, stepping back again with hands fisted on his hips and luke just shrugs, grinning at him with pink teeth. nick has been his only friend other than his ‘cousins’ since his family moved to texas. luke attached to him because he reminded him of sunshine, all blonde hair and bright, white smiles. when they’d had to work with partners on luke’s first day of class, nick had met his gaze and shrugged. everyone else had pointedly not looked at luke. but nick talked to luke and worked with him on the assignment and then ate lunch with him. or at least, when luke had dropped down beside him at the table, nick had stayed in his seat and held up his end of the conversation.
it’s been months now, and nick still holds up his half of the conversation. sometimes his half means that he smiles while luke rails against something or another. sometimes his half means he says “shut up, luke,” and shakes his head. it doesn’t matter, really. luke just appreciates that nick always grins when luke attacks him in the morning at his locker, grapples with luke until he gets him in a headlock and then walks with him to their first class of the day. nick is the only person other than luke’s cousins (who aren’t really cousins, but it’s easier to say) who argues with the jocks in school and tries to tell them not to call luke a faggot or a pillow biter or any other creative term they can come up with.
nick is also the only person who bothers to come find luke in the field of tall grass behind the high school after he gets into nasty scraps that leave luke needing to lick his wounds, so to speak.
when luke starts walking, in the opposite direction of the school, deeper into the tall grass, nick follows without hesitation. luke even lets him enjoy the silence for a while, swatting at grass that itches his bare arms until they come to a wooden fence at the edge of some farmer’s property. the grass ends there, gives way to open, cut, grass that stretches on and ends on the horizon with a tiny dot of a farmhouse.
“you know,” nick finally says, breaking the silence, “i could try talking to the guys again. maybe talk to the coach. he likes me, bet he could get them to lay off you.” he hikes himself up onto the fence, balances himself like only a natural farm boy can. luke just leans his back against the wood, tilts his head back against nick’s arm so he can look at him upside down.
“nah, it’s not a big deal.” he goes quiet again, probing at the bite on the inside of his cheek with his tongue, his nose wrinkling up when he tastes the tang of blood.
without warning, luke hefts himself up onto the fence beside nick, almost knocking him off when their shoulders slam together. but nick manages to balance both himself and luke with a hand on luke’s knee and a startled laugh. “that’s surprisingly big of you,” nick starts, and luke interrupts briefly with a “that’s what she said” before he can finish. “shut up, it’s big of you that you aren’t letting them get to you.”
“what do you mean, dude? i get into fights with them all the time.”
“but they throw the first punch. i just mean. anyone else would be up in arms over being called those names all the time.”
luke sways to the side to knock his shoulder into nick’s again, stays there, pressed hip to shoulder, “i’m not anyone else, though.”
“no,” nick laughs, not moving away. “no, i guess not. i just mean, it’s good that you’re being the bigger person and letting them just make shit up about you. you don’t rise to anything until they make it physical.”
luke stares off across the tall grass for a beat, brow furrowed in confusion. “wait, what are they making up about me?” he finally asks, tilting his head to look sideways at nick.
“no, i mean. the…gay thing? isn’t that…kind of obvious. what we’ve been talking about. this whole time.”
luke stares at nick. and nick stares back. and they continue to look at each other, both of their eyebrows drawn together as they try to make out what the other is saying. “wait, you think they’re just saying that i’m gay?”
“are they saying something else?”
“stop, dude, you’re confusing me.” luke whines, closing his eyes and shaking his head.
“are you saying that you are gay? that they aren’t just saying shit to be jerks?”nick’s tone is the same one he uses when he’s trying to clarify the instructions a teacher has given on a project. like he gets it, but he wants to make sure that he’s really got it. that he’s gonna get an a or even an a+ and the answer he receives is what that grade hinges on.
luke has never been known for his even-keeled emotions, nor does he have a very good poker face. he wears his heart on his sleeve and his emotions on his face and his eyebrow raises almost to his hairline as he looks at nick in disbelief. “are you saying that you didn’t know i was gay?”
“i thought that was just...” nick shrugged, suddenly unable sit still where he’s perched. he shifts one leg so it’s resting on his hand, then shifts it off, put his other leg on his other hand. shifts forwards then backwards. “you know, them being jerks. paranoid and just spouting off at the mouth. they used to say lisa mcgraw was a lesbian until she got knocked up behind the taste-freeze. just because she didn’t like to shave her legs and wanted to be a bull rider.”
“no, dude, i like dick.” luke says it like he’s explaining to a six year old that dogs says ‘woof’ while cats say ‘meow’. it’s obvious and you’re stupid for not understanding it yet.
“yeah.” they lapse into another silence but it isn’t like the silences they usually have. it’s not light, just waiting for one of them to break it. it weighs heavily on luke’s chest until he can’t keep his mouth shut any longer and he so he opens it, “you really didn’t know? i mean, this whole fucking time i thought you knew and just didn’t fucking care.” nick stays silent; suddenly very interested in the knot on the wooden slat their feet are resting on. “i thought you were cool with it. i mean. fuck. do i need to worry about you going weird on me now?” when nick just shrugs, luke suddenly and sharply looks back across the tall grass. he feels physically sick from the sight of nick’s profile right now. the “you’re fucking kidding me,” he breathes out is barely above a whisper.
“i just…didn’t realize that you were actually gay.” nick says, hardly louder. it’s luke that scoots away on the fence, first half an inch, losing the warmth of nick’s leg rubbing against his own, and then he jumps down, stumbling slightly. if not for nick dropping a steadying hand on the back of luke’s neck, he might have careened sideways and fallen over.
“i don’t care,” nick says, fast and loud. the words drop heavily between them, like a stone, too loud and ringing a little false to luke’s ears. “i don’t care that you’re gay, i just need…an adjustment…period. just. time to wrap my head around it.”
luke nods, rolling his shoulders and dislodging nick’s hand from his skin. “sure,” he agrees, “adjust the fuck out of yourself. i’m going home.”
“i can give you a ride!” nick calls, but he’s not moved from his spot on the fence when luke turns back to him a few feet away.
luke declines, shrugging as he explains needlessly, “i usually walk home with bailey and the boys anyway.” by now, they’ve probably already gone home, but luke is also accustomed to making the trek alone.
he’s expecting to have nick not meet his gaze anymore. for nick to pointedly walk different routes to class. it leaves him feeling like he swallowed a rock and it’s not digesting well. actually seeing it happen will make him throw up, he’s sure of it.
by the next morning, his mouth has stopped bleeding and the bag of frozen peas his mom slapped against his eyes has made the swelling go down some, leaving dark rings around his eyes. if not for the fact that he’s seen his mother limp in just after dawn, her arm hanging loose, has watched his father knock her arm back into the socket. if not for watching his mother sew his father’s chest up with a needle, thread and some bourbon, he might attempt to stay home from school claiming injury. but they’ve come home, barely alive, dragged themselves in with their bodies held together by sheer willpower and an ace bandage and that dog just ain’t gonna hunt.
so he doesn’t go to nick’s locker, like he usually does. doesn’t literally jump onto nick’s back and send him almost falling inside it. he goes to the bathroom, prods at his bruises until the late bell rings and then slides into a desk on the opposite side of the room from nick. makes a point to read ahead on the chapter and ignore his surroundings.
he hightails it out of the room before the bell to release them has even stopped ringing and uses all of the skills he’s honed over the years to melt into the crowd and make it to his next class without getting a single glance of nick.
luke has spent months climbing into nick’s bedroom through his open window, charming his mother and father and sister and eating dinners with them and rolling all over nick’s bed whenever they go up to his room. he’s stolen nick’s sweatshirts and returned them and been able to smell his own scent on them the next time nick has worn them.
basically he’s fallen ass over ankles in crush over his only non-familial friend and now nick might be a homophobic dick like everyone else, all because he’s an oblivious dumbass.
he’s been expecting nick to treat him the way he’s been treating nick, avoidance and ignorance, so much so that when nick turns the tables and greets luke by jumping on his back at lunch, they both go down to the grass in the quad, hard. they land in a heap with nick practically straddling luke’s hips. while luke is trying to get oxygen back into his lungs from being crushed, nick is trying to suck air in between hysterical laughter.
“you folded like a paper latern, oh my god, i’ve never seen someone crumple so fast! you delicate fucking flower, no wonder you’re the one who does all of the attacking! what, you can dish it but you can’t take it?”
“motherfucker, get off,” luke gripes, tossing his elbows backwards and bucking around until nick falls sideways to lay in the grass beside him, “i wasn’t expecting it!”
“i wasn’t either, the first time, but i still stayed on my feet!” nick sighs, long and loud, collapses flat onto his back in the grass so that his shoulder knocks luke flat and pins him to the ground, too. “you fucking pussy.”
“shut the fuck up, maybe you’re just a lard ass, have you considered that? lay off the meat and potatoes, maybe eat a few greens, exercise some. you could probably lose a few pounds.”
“ah, fuck you, i’m in way better shape than you.”
“round is not the shape we, as humans, should be striving for. just so you know.”
nick twists in the grass to drop heavy fists into luke’s side, making luke laugh more than hurting him. they’re both still slightly out of breath and most of the noises of the quad have faded out as everyone has headed inside to classes or to get their lunches. “we good?” nick asks, suddenly calming down and propping himself up on one elbow to look at luke, head on.
“yeah, man.” luke assures him. he flips his hand up to smack nick’s chest quickly, then goes to drop it back across his own stomach, but nick catches his wrist against his own chest.
“my whole morning was thrown off without you there to jump on my back like some deranged monkey on crack and lit was way boring without you there to tell me what was happening between the lines.”
“i didn’t realize you had gotten so attached to me, nicholas.” luke attempts. the words feel caught on his tongue, tripping out without the usual ease he has for speaking.
“you weaseled your way into my routine, what can i say. you know how i like routine.”
“you can be pretty neurotic about it.” luke sniffs once, wiggling his fingers against nick’s chest where he still has it cradled against him. “i ran a little late this morning, had i realized that my tardiness would instill such abandonment issues in you, i would have made faster haste in getting here.”
nick lets go of his wrist suddenly, rolling back onto his back, and luke curls his hand against his own chest. “well, now you fucking know. for the benefit of my own psyche, i’m gonna need you to adjust your alarm clock accordingly so you avoid tardiness in the future.”