A sea of black cloaked figures walked calmly into the large stadium. Each face had a different emotion on it; fear, excitement, joy, sadness, each person displayed what they truly felt as they took their seat in the grand showroom, to await their final stint as college students.
Loud cheers and screams erupted from different portions of the stadium, families screaming out their support for their child or children. Large posters, whistles, banners being caught in the wind, there were numerous forms of support being thrown out to the graduating class.
Sitting on the front stage, both Luke and Eric shifted nervously in their seats. Each was asked to give a speech to their fellow classmates, each on a different topic. Despite being lovers for almost half a year now, the school saw no problem with their selection, since both men had a wide range of experience in the university.
Soon all the graduates were sitting down and the President of the university rose.
"Please join me in singing our university's fight song."
As the band struck up the harmony, and thousands of voices rang out the inspiring lyrics, Eric snuck his hand over to Luke's, and the two grasped each other tightly, quietly reassuring the other.
As the last key of the anthem died out, the President took out his reading glasses and began reading off a prepared speech. "You must forgive me, I have been so busy these past weeks getting this ceremony prepared that in planning from everything else, I forgot to plan my own speech." Ripples of laughter echoed out across the crowds. Smiling, the President continued, "It is truly something worth seeing, where I am standing now. I see young faces, grown men and women, looking up at me in expectation, awaiting perhaps some vital pearl of wisdom for them to use. Well let me tell you, I have nothing left for you folks."
Luke frowned and Eric cocked his head. Looks of confusion could be seen on everyone's face. Pausing only briefly, the President spoke, "Do not be alarmed, I'm not going senile. On the contrary, I am merely conceding the fact that while I may be old and supposedly wise in my years, it is the duty of your fellow peers to tell you what life may or may not bring. So in doing so, I yield the floor to the man who brought our school to the National Football Championships, Eric Saulderman."
Loud cheers and bellows erupted from the stadium as the President stepped down, only to be followed by Eric. Looking out, Eric saw some of his teammates and even his family as they waited for his speech.
"Well shucks Mr. President, you sure know how to bring a boy in huh?" asked Eric in a joking manner, playing up the crowd's own sense of humor. "Ladies and gentlemen, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, friends, teammates, classmates, professors, and all other associates. I stand before you as a student of this university, soon to be graduate as well. But I also say to you, that while I may never again sit in one of your lectures professor, or do a play on the field for you coach, I will still be a Ragin' Bull at our proud school. We came through your doors, onto your campus as freshmen. We were young and naïve, maybe unsure of our dreams and future. But you have taught us, whether by trial and error, or by dignity and respect, that we can value ourselves as good men and women, deserving of these diplomas next to me. So congratulations Class of 2009, we have made the final touchdown."
Stepping down from the podium, Eric tripped a bit at the loud explosion of cheers from all around. Soon the names of all the students were called out, and one by one, each came up and received a diploma from the Dean of their respective school. Luke shook hands with people he knew as they passed him by along with Eric. His speech would soon begin after the final certificate was handed out. Scanning the crowds of families, he spotted the entire Saulderman family standing up and screaming with all their might. All the children were waving signs with his and Eric's names on them, while the adults whooped and cheered as well. Wiping a tear from his eye at their love, Luke soon realized it was his turn.
Being motioned by the President, Luke stood and walked quietly up to the podium. The mike gave a high pitched squeal, and Luke winced at the sound. Clearing his throat, he whispered, "I think it's on…"
A few people laughed out loud and Luke grinned, having broken the tension.
"I see all you have that precious piece of paper in your hands. You're gripping it tightly – good. Never let go of that sheet, because it represents everything you have both given up and accomplished these past four years."
Seeing that everyone's face was on him now, Luke continued on in the silence.
"We're here at our graduation guys, and all I can say is…..Jai ho."
More whispers of confusion floated through the crowds; Luke smiled. "Jai Ho is loosely translated from the Hindi phrase "Victory to You". It was recently made poplar by the movie Slumdog Millionaire. And that is truly what I say to all of you, jai ho."
"Jai ho in that you overcame countless nights in the library, studying and working on research."
"Jai ho in that you went out into the world and played for our school and won in our athletic games."
"And jai ho to you in that you will walk out of this building with a college diploma and the knowledge that you won."
"Congratulations class of 2009. We did it!"
Music erupted from hidden speakers, playing the actual hit song, Jai Ho, into the crowds. Eric stood up and wrapped a arm around Luke's waist. Leaning up for a kiss, Luke grinned and tossed up his cap. Loud cheers followed and soon the entire room was filled with black caps being flung in the air as new college graduates jumped up and down in their excitement.
Eric and Luke only had eyes fro each other however, each smiling into the other's face.
"Congratulations!" cried out Karolyn as she embraced both of 'her' boys, as she dubbed them. Both Eric and Luke smiled as camera flashes went off, capturing their faces in frames. Pulling back, Eric and Luke waved at passing friends as they walked with their family towards the car. Looking around and waving at any faces he recognized, Luke almost tripped on his robe when he caught sight of something.
Walking away, with their backs to him, were some very familiar looking people. Ignoring the questions aimed at him, Luke mutely went off and began following the man and woman way ahead of him.
That dress….and that style of business suit…they were too familiar for Luke's tastes. With a heavily swallow, he sped up his pace and began weaving in and out of the crowd trying to keep his eye on the couple. The hair style was the same, if a bit more grey. And the faces, oh God turn this way thought Luke desperately, the faces could be what he suspected.
The pair disappeared behind a large crowd of people. By the time Luke got over there and past the group, his quarry had already vanished. Looking around frantically, Luke almost jumped out of his skin when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Turning quickly, he looked up into the concerned eyes of his lover.
Eric frowned at the slightly-panicked look of his boyfriend. "Luke, you okay?"
Silence for a moment, until Luke swallowed his jitters and nodded. "Y-yeah, just thought I saw someone…" Eric waited patiently for more, but Luke shook his head. "It was nothing, just a figment of my imagination."
Eric frowned but didn't press any further. Instead, he took Luke's hand in his own and together, the two walked back to the car, hand in hand.
Eric sat on the edge of his bed, silent as Luke continued to snore gently under their covers. After they arrived back at Eric's parent's home, a celebration party had been kicked off. Cake and wine filled the evening, as family and friends each gave Luke and Eric a big hug and kiss on their success. When the night finally died down, Eric made tender and passionate love to Luke, bringing their love higher and higher in shared climax. Finally tired out, Luke fell back onto their mattress and within minutes fell asleep. Eric however was still awake, a thought nagging him.
He took a big risk a month ago, and now it looked like it may finally be paying off.
Standing up, Eric walked naked over to his laptop and switched it on. As the screen light up, Eric began typing up a letter, adding detail and questions to it, as well as pertinent information.
Saving the letter and sending it as an e-mail, Eric closed his laptop and made his way back to bed and Luke. Wrapping a strong arm around his smaller lover, Eric prayed to God that he made the right choice.
He also prayed that when the dust settled from this, that Luke wouldn't hate him.