- Cruelty -
Chapter XX: The Hamptons
"You have to go!"
Lucas held his iPhone at arm's length as Emma whined at him. He was in the frigid streets with Randal, shopping bags full of Armani hanging off his arms.
"Why is that? Can you think of one legitimate reason other than to torture me to no end?" He asked angrily.
He was frowning, tapping his foot impatiently, waiting for an answer. Randal was rolling his eyes, but Lucas had no patience to pretend that Randal was actually annoyed with Emma. He'd been smitten with her since grade six and the whole world knew it.
"Nalin will be there."
"You know, you actually have a chance with him," she said. He gritted his teeth and inspected Randal. The burdensome boy was doing nothing; he gazed around at the expensive shops, waiting for Lucas to finish his conversation, oblivious to the fact that he was preventing Lucas from talking freely with Emma.
"He's made that painfully obvious."
"Just come with me; we're staying with Victoria, it'll be fun."
"Seriously. You can bring Randal for backup."
Lucas rolled his eyes and sighed angrily.
"Quit being a girl; man up and go," she said.
He hung up on her in one quick motion, yanking the phone from his ear as if it had burned him.
"Hey," he said, turning to Randal. "Want to go to the Hamptons with me and Emma this week?"
Nalin was terrified as he packed in Victoria's room. He was terrified of this entire week. A week away with Tom, Victoria, and Emma he could handle. But, now that Lucas and Randal had been thrown into the already chaotic group of mismatched people, he felt that his time would be better spent hanging around Victoria's massive living room and watching her twenty-two inch plasma screen.
"You ready?" She asked as she walked into the room. He nodded numbly, throwing the swim trunks he'd borrowed from her surprisingly skinny dad into his suitcase, though he doubted he'd get to use them because of the frigid temperatures. Tom stood next to her, a grim expression on his face as if he was walking towards an execution and not a week in the Hamptons.
She was chattering as soon as they left the loft. It was easy to be with her, Nalin thought, because he wasn't expected to contribute anything to the conversation. He could just let his mind wander and follow her lead as they walked towards her car, parallel parked right beneath the tenth story window of the loft they'd just left.
"We're meeting them up there," she said.
After the noise and honking of the city was safely behind them, the car ride was silent save for the background noise of Victoria's incessant voice. She seemed to have gotten over the fact that Emma was coming with them and was already planning out activities for them, detailing out things they could do on the beach, though Nalin doubted the twenty degree weather would allow any of her plans to be carried out.
It was a long two hours in the car and, when the crunch of gravel beneath the tires woke him up, Nalin realized that he'd actually been asleep. Victoria hadn't seemed to notice because when he woke up she was in mid sentence.
"Oh look, they're here."
They were. Two cars gleamed in the sun, parked in the gravel driveway in front of a beautiful beach house. Emma's vacation home was more splendid that her real one. It had a massive wrap around porch with a wide staircase leading up to it, big glass windows, and a big front door painted a bright red.
Nalin felt his throat go dry and his heart seize up as if it was trying to strangle him. He could see some lights on in the house; Victoria had given Emma the location of a hidden extra key to let herself in.
Victoria dragged him up the steps with his suitcase in her hand, as if he couldn't carry it himself. He followed her most unwillingly towards the big red door which seemed ready to eat him up just as soon as let him in to the house. He was through the threshold and into the warmth immediately as she unlocked the brass deadbolt in one swift motion. He hadn't even realized his teeth had been clacking together from the cold.
Victoria dropped his hand in surprise as Emma bowled towards him and wrapped him in a warm hug.
"Don't assault him, Emma," Randal joked. Emma blushed and let him go. Nalin was amazed; he was sure he'd never seen the shameless Emma blush before.
"Hey," he said by way of greeting to Randal. The other boy looked at him for a minute before giving an equally as awkward greeting.
"Hi," he said, shuffling his feet as if not sure whether to inch away from Nalin or not.
"Hey." Nalin gave the same greeting to Lucas, but this time he didn't look up to meet the older boy's eyes. He stared at his own feet and fought his furious blush. He'd never thought talking to Lucas could be harder than it was at school. But here, now that they had social interaction that wasn't forced through their being roommates, it had become exponentially more difficult. He felt as if something had lodged itself in his throat and died there.
"Hey." Lucas returned his greeting.
The oppressive silence hung over the group for several minutes, though only Emma knew why it was there.
"Um, okay," she said, clapping her hands together and smiling. "How about, boys downstairs and girls upstairs?" She asked.
"Sure." Nalin agreed halfheartedly, knowing that, either way, he would have to share living space with Lucas.
Lucas, if he cared at all, hid it very well. His face was impassive as he and Randal moved through the lower story, looking for bedrooms to claim. Nalin followed them silently, poking his head into rooms and hoping desperately that he wouldn't have to share one with Lucas. Randal raced ahead of him and launched himself into the first room he found, the master suite, apparently, because it had a wide bed and huge glass windows that looked out over the sandy, grass-dotted beaches and let in yellow beams of sunlight.
"Sorry, man," he said when Lucas walked in to find him sprawled across the wide bed, his suitcase already dumped and forgotten on the floor.
"Whatever, I'll take one of the couches."
"Guess the freak'll have to take the other one."
Nalin froze in the hallway and listened to the silence in the other room. It was one long second that seemed to contain absolutely no sound, though the soft hum of the heater could be heard above their heads. Lucas, in the room, felt anger boiling up inside of him, felt the physical reactions. His jaw clenched, his face heated up, his muscles tensed. But he did nothing, because it was Randal sprawled on that bed; Randal his best friend, Randal who would call him a freak if he beat him to a pulp, Randal who would tell everyone.
"He's not a freak," Lucas finally said.
Lucas' smooth, low words seemed to wake Nalin up. He sprung from his frozen position and darted into the living room that the girls had vacated. He dumped his stuff on the couch and flopped down on it, burying his face in a soft silk throw pillow. The sound of Lucas entering the room made his skin tingle with anticipation-anticipation of what would come next.
"Thanks," he said, though his voice was so muffled in the pillow that he was sure he sounded like an idiot.
Lucas made no response, but the sound of the leather couch creaking and groaning as he sat down heavily could be heard throughout the entire room.
"It was nothing," he said, his voice low and seemingly uncaring.
"No, it wasn't," Nalin disagreed, pulling the pillow off his face and rolling on his side to face Lucas. "You defended me."
"So?" He asked. He inspected Nalin's surprised face; his slightly parted lips and his sparkling hazel eyes. They were almost smiling at him; almost. He hated that smile, because he hadn't truly earned it, and because it would never be his; for him and him alone. "What, are you a girl now? I wasn't aware you'd grown a pussy," he said scathingly. Nalin's smile dropped and Lucas felt like he'd hurt himself even more when that happened.
He shoved his body off the couch and stalked towards the kitchen, intent on finding something to stuff his face with.
It hurt more than It should have when Nalin's smile disappeared, like a light flickering off his already weak and sad looking face. It was painful for Lucas.
He quickly shook his head as he grabbed a jar of low-fat peanut butter and a spoon. How could he be focusing on his own pain, when he had no doubt that Nalin's was exponentially worse?
Nalin sat shoved in between two loud girls, Victoria and Emma, his face burning with the heat of the bonfire they'd made. Tom was cautiously discussing the wonders of Masen-Rodgers Prep's athletic program with Randal and Lucas was sitting on the sand, his head in Emma's lap and his eyes closed.
The girls were talking about makeup. It was a subject they'd been exhausting for the hour the group had spent eating dinner around the bonfire. Now, everyone was too full, lazy, and warm to interject and start a new topic, so their ramblings occupied the majority of the conversation.
Nalin leaned his head on Victoria's shoulder. The feeling of warm food in his stomach seemed to weigh his entire body down, tugging at his eyelids until they threatened to flutter shut and obscure his view of Lucas.
He watched Emma's hands thread through Lucas' silky black locks. He needed a hair cut pretty badly, Nalin observed, but he also decided that he liked the long black locks that spilled from Lucas' tanned head. The older boy's eyes were closed, which made it easier to look at his face. There wasn't the threat of those intensely emotionless grey eyes looking at him, the idea that they could suddenly turn upon him and change his mood completely, like they did on a regular basis.
It was pathetic how much he allowed himself to be affected by a guy he'd firmly rejected.
He let his eyes wander over the plains of Lucas' face. Truthfully, Lucas was beautiful. He was a statue that belonged in a museum and Nalin had no idea why the older boy had, for however fleeting of a moment, had some kind of inexplicable desire for him.
"I'm going to go take a walk," he suddenly announced, eyes wide open and shooting up from his sitting position.
Lucas' eyes fell open and he watched the younger boy trounce off away from the bonfire, his footsteps weighed down by the sand. The orange glow reflected on the back of his fleece jacket as he got progressively farther and farther away. Lucas averted his eyes as soon as the younger boy wrapped his arms around himself to fend off the cold.
"I think I'm going to sleep," Lucas announced, yanking his hair out of Emma's grip.
"We'll stay out here a little while longer," Emma declared, making the decision for the group.
Lucas said nothing, just pulled himself up, ignoring the tense muscles that came with sitting in the same position for too long.
He tried to discern Nalin's footprints in the loose sand beneath his feet, but everything looked the same to him and he eventually gave up.
He came across the shivering boy soon enough. He was sitting in the sand and looking over the black ocean, listening to the sound of waves crashing against the shore and distant seagulls calling. He glanced briefly up to look at the clusters of stars visible over his head, but was instead met with the site of Lucas leaning over him, a frown on his face.
"Are you trying to fucking freeze your gonads off?" He asked sarcastically.
"I thought I didn't have any anymore, according to you, at least," Nalin answered back bitterly. He was instantly angry with himself for revealing this bitterness, revealing that what Lucas said had bothered him. But if he was being honest with himself, he realized that Lucas knew most of his secrets.
"You won't if you keep sitting here."
"Why won't you leave me alone?" Nalin asked.
Lucas didn't answer. He just dropped down into the sand next to Nalin and wrapped an arm around his thin shoulders. He felt the younger boy instantly stiffen and begin to pull away, but he was too strong, he held him close, and Nalin was once again reminded of all the power Lucas held over him. He was pinned between Lucas' arm and his chest, pressed against his warmth. Lucas' chin rested atop his head, his nose buried in his unruly hair. He was incredibly warm, but he couldn't stave off the shivering that he now knew had nothing to do with the cold.
It was silent for several moments, just the sound of the waves and the seagulls and the brushing of wind through the tall beach grass surrounding them. Lucas began to rub Nalin's arm through his fleece jacket, slowly, pausing to pick at the material every now and then. He then gingerly moved his warm hand from Nalin's arm to his stomach, caressing just above where his hip bone jutted out sharply from beneath pale skin. Nalin found himself leaning in to Lucas' chest and sighing with contentment. He didn't bother to fight it; Lucas already knew he was pathetically attracted to him. There was nothing he could do about it and Lucas had all the power in the world over him.
He shivered when Lucas' warm hand came in contact with his bare, flat stomach. The older boy brushed his hands lightly over Nalin's smooth skin, not caring where he touched, just touching for the sake of it, because when did they get an opportunity like this, when each of them was lucid enough to accept each other's company?
He pulled Nalin into his lap inch by inch, easily making the change. He moved to rest his head on Nalin's bony shoulder, creating a curved cage around the smaller boy with his back and with the hand that was still wrapped around his bare waist beneath his shirt. His fingers moved lightly over the boy's back.
He squeezed his eyes shut as he encountered a ridge curving around Nalin's lower back; the remnants of an ugly gash. An audible shudder ran through Nalin but he didn't twist away. He had, at least for the moment, given up trying to hide from Lucas.
"Who did this to you?" Lucas' words were soft, his lips brushing Nalin's ear. "Why?" Nalin asked simply.
There was silence from Lucas, but his warm hands never stopped moving. Nalin sighed.
There was no one any where near them; they were utterly alone. Nalin had no doubt that, if another person, even a total stranger, pushed through the tall grass dotting the gently sloping sand dunes at that very moment, Lucas would jump away from him as if burned. He knew he wasn't worth Lucas' reputation.
After several moments of silent contemplation, Nalin sighed in defeat.
"My dad," he said simply.
The proclamation was met by silence. He wished Lucas would talk, because the silence surrounding them seemed to echo back the words he'd just said, throwing them back into his face. He had never told anyone before, not even the social worker who'd come to take him away from his father when the neighbors called about the screaming, who promised that they would arrest him if Nalin would just talk, just recount the abuse he went through. He never had; he'd stayed silent, just as his father had instructed him to.
He gritted his teeth as the silence wore on, realizing slowly that he'd just given Lucas another iota of power, another piece of himself that he could never take back.
"Say something," he said.
Lucas said nothing, but he moved swiftly to tug Nalin closer to him. Nalin was now in Lucas' lap, wrapped in his arms. The older boy's head was buried in his neck and he planted soft kisses there.
"Stop it," Nalin said.
"Why?" Lucas instantly tugged away as if burned, staring down at Nalin, his voice low and angry. "Why? You don't want me to stop; you and I both know that."
"You're wrong," Nalin said.
"I'm right and you know it," he said, raising a hand to brush the too-long hair from his forehead.
Nalin flinched as that hand raised swiftly, jerking back instinctively to avoid a painful, bruising hit. He squeezed his eyes shut, knowing that Lucas would notice this reaction.
Lucas' dark expression instantly became darker.
"I'm not going to hurt you!" He exclaimed. "Why won't you believe me?"
"It was only a reflex," Nalin said. "Besides, why should I? I hardly even know you, Lucas, I don't know if you're a good liar or not."
"That's bullshit," Lucas said. "You lived with me for a whole fucking semester."
"Which is why it's amazing that I don't know you!" Nalin said. "Now, can I go? I'm tired."
He stalked away, feet still dragging in the sand, staring resolutely at the dark house he headed forward and nowhere near Lucas.
The older boy refused to watch him go; he didn't hang his head, either. He walked back to the campfire and resumed his position with his head in Emma's lap. She fingered through his hair again, not asking what happened, and completely unable to judge anything by the masterfully neutral expression on Lucas' face. It was silent and they all slowly drifted into half-waking, half-sleeping states, completely unaware that time was ticking towards the wee hours of the morning.
Emma's shared room with Victoria was big and cavernous, with windows taller than her letting in massive amounts of sunlight in the morning. She woke up that Friday, the Friday they were leaving, to find that Victoria was gone. They had learned to work out some of their differences during the week. They had bonded especially when Nalin had needed a talking down earlier in the week and they both found themselves on the scene simultaneously.
"What's wrong?" Victoria had asked. "Who did this? Was it Lucas or Randal?"
Emma sat on Nalin's other side. He had his head buried in his hands; he sat on the couch, rubbing the heels of his palms into his eyes. Emma gave Victoria a look over Nalin's back, clearly telling her that this was not the way to handle this situation.
"Are you okay, honey?" Emma asked softly, trying to pry Nalin's hands from his eyes. A muffled sound came from him and it sounded distinctly like " 'm 'fina."
"Will you tell us what happened?"
His hands slowly left his head.
"No," he confessed. "I don't want to."
Emma looked over to see Victoria opening her mouth, ready to interject a demand to hear the story. She caught Victoria's eyes and sent her a look that clearly told her to cease and desist immediately.
"Well that's fine," she said softly instead, though it seemed to be a struggle for her.
"Yeah, you'll talk about it when you're ready."
And that was how she and Victoria had become semi-friends. They spoke to each other on civil terms, albeit awkward ones.
The creaking of the door on the other side of the room announced the arrival of a guest. The clinking of plates on a silver tray announced the arrival of breakfast.
"Tom!" Emma exclaimed as he pushed his way past the door, bearing a tray laden with breakfast.
"Victoria sent me with breakfast for you," he said. "I made it."
"Thanks!" She said, sitting up and stretching. "You're a lifesaver."
He backed away from the room slowly after he'd set the tray awkwardly on her lap, his hands shaking from the weight.
His departing words were "Um, bye."
Almost immediately after he left, Victoria zipped into the room.
"Do you like it?" She chirped. "I helped him. You know, he really likes you," she enthused, cheeks rosy and smile wide.
Emma almost dropped the cinnamon roll she was holding.
And that was how she became instant friends with Victoria.
Victoria left and Randal sauntered in, asking if he could get a ride from her because Lucas was in a weird mood and he didn't want to be around him.
"I think he's PMSing," he joked. He walked towards the bed that Emma sat on and she could feel her heart rate speeding up, echoing in her ears. She was suddenly aware of the fact that she had no make up on and that her hair was a dry, scraggly mess.
"That's mean," she said. She was lucky that she still had her voice under control.
He snatched the cinnamon roll from her hands, stuffed it in his mouth, and sauntered from the room. "I look forward to our car ride." He winked at her before pulling the door closed behind him.
What the hell? She's updating within a few days of her last chapter? What is this?!
I really wanted to get this chapter out and I've been had problems with insomnia last week because it was raining almost all week down here and I couldn't work out.
On a side note.. I GOT OVER 100 REVIEWS!!! YAY!!!
I'm working on a LOT of stuff outside of FP right now, some one shots and some full length stories, and hopefully I can get those up here eventually...
REVIEW PLEASE and I'll see you all next time!
PS: Chapter was skimmed because I have better things to do than checking it. haha. Feel free to point out the numerous mistakes I'm sure are here.