"Luke, what's wrong? You've been shifty all night," Michael asked concernedly, putting down his glass of wine to look over the table at the much younger boy. Luke shifted in his seat uncomfortably; he'd been dreading this question all night. He'd known it was coming, but he had hoped to get through dinner without any mention of his oddness.
"Look, Michael, I… I've been thinking about leaving school for a while. I have my eye on this apprenticeship, and I really feel like school's not doing anything for me anymore. And… well this apprenticeship is in Perth," Luke answered, unable to meet the older man's eyes, knowing the shock and disappointment that would lie within them.
"Luke, is this for real? Of course school is doing something for you right now; you're only a few months away from finishing. Not to mention, Perth? How do you plan on getting to Perth? I can't just up and leave and follow you, you know. I'm an adult, I have my job here," Michael answered, his voice betraying his disapproval. Luke had heard that tone many times before- but before now it had only ever been used on his school-mates, when they fucked around in class and Michael had to reprimand them.
"Mike, I just… can't handle school anymore. I am never going to need to know any of the stuff they're teaching me. I don't need a score for university; I've never planned on higher education. I was always going to be a tradie. You knew that," Luke countered softly, desperate not to provoke the teacher look he knew so well that had once drawn him in.
"But I don't understand. I have always known you wouldn't do uni, but surely you can stay just for a few more months. You've no idea how valuable a completed high school certificate is. You're not going to be able to do anything else but trade without it. And even then, you won't get good work, not without a certificate," Michael explained, rubbing his temples. He realised his voice resembled the tone he used with confused students, but he hoped Luke would hear the true concern he held for him.
Luke didn't answer, looking down at his unfinished meal. It was supposed to be a nice night in, a reprieve from the constant work they were both doing to hide their relationship. It had gotten harder as Luke entered his final year of school. Michael several of his class of his classes, and though it was nice enough to see his face, it was getting a lot harder to conceal their desires.
Luke's mates teased him about being a swot, a teacher's pet. If only they knew, Michael often thought to himself. But everyone really knew Luke was the most popular boy in the grade. He had masses of friends, girls that hung off his every word and was generally an all-around good guy.
"Look, we don't have to talk about this tonight. I just want to chill with you," Luke said finally, after a tense silence between them, as they both contemplated the stressful year they had been having so far. Michael wanted to press the matter further, but knew better, letting go of it for now. Surely Luke wouldn't do anything without talking to him further about it. After all, he was talking about moving halfway across the country, leaving him behind.
They left the topic alone, but it hovered over their heads all night, and as Michael drifted off to sleep as Luke lay asleep on his bare chest, he felt a spike of panic as the possibility that Luke really could throw his life away, and leave him crossed his mind once more.
A week later, they had not discussed it again, but the dynamic of their relationship had changed subtly. Luke still came over every night, sneaking out of his house, under his mother's nose, to spend the evening with him, but he no longer looked as carefree as he often had before. His handsome young face was often conflicted, and would only relax when Michael pulled him to his side, or ran his fingers through his hair, or hit that sinfully sweet spot inside him.
Michael had said nothing, preferring to leave it alone in the hope that Luke would forget about it and they would go back to normal. "Not that they had ever been particularly normal", Michael thought as he sat in the staffroom, having had every intention of grading his ninth grade papers. Michael had known from the moment Luke walked into his tenth grade math class that he would be a pain. He had to restrain himself from leaping over the boy's desk and jumping him.
Michael, having come to terms with himself years beforehand, was slightly ashamed of himself for lusting after a student, but as his obsession grew, he promised himself that he would never allow his fantasies to become a reality. He had kept his promise too, staying as far away from Luke as he could for months. Until one afternoon where Luke had sought him out and pressed him up against a wall with surprising strength for a 16 year old. Michael had responded in the moment, but wallowed in self-disgust for weeks after, refusing to even look at the boy unless he was needed in class.
Eventually Luke cornered him again, and convinced him that he'd be 17 in a few months, that there was nothing wrong with what they felt, (even though Michael knew in his heart there was), and that he wouldn't leave the older man alone until he submitted. Having restrained his "crush" he supposed he could call it, if he were reverting back to his teens, for so long, Michael gave in easily. He had long discarded the shame; he was simply happy now, despite the hiding they had become so adept at.
Heading off to his next class however, still thinking about Luke, he was overcome with the unsettling feeling that things were not going to turn out well. Ever since Luke had confessed about possibly leaving school (leaving him), he could not shake the feeling that the younger boy was slipping away from him. Determined to shake what he had to convince himself were ill-shaped fears, he walked into class, eager to see Luke, sure that his presence would calm him.
He hadn't arrived yet, but that was no surprise. At school, Luke generally tended to be as late as he could, just to see how far he could push the limits of Michael's soft spot for him. The students slowly trickled in, looks of dread on their faces, reluctantly copying down the notes he meticulously set out on the board. He couldn't blame them, really. Not many children enjoyed Maths.
Michael reached for his calculator, his hand closing on thin air. Damn, he'd left it in the staffroom, distracted by his eagerness to see the younger boy he was to teach. Exiting the classroom swiftly, trusting the students not to become too eager for class to start, he retrieved the calculator and made his way back up to the classroom. The class was full now, a rowdy crowd gathered round a boy in the middle of the class. They seemed to be upset, one of them kneeling in a position that he himself had assumed in front of Luke many times. His cheeks reddened slightly as he recalled it.
Banishing his gutter mind, he strode into the room, looking around for Luke. He wasn't anywhere to be seen. Looking more closely at the boy in the centre of the circle, he was startled to realise that in fact Luke was here. He was standing in the middle of his adoring fans. A few girls wiped tears from their eyes. Good God, what could possibly have happened? And whywas that boy kneeling in front of his Luke? Rage flashed across Michael's eyes momentarily, and he was blinded as to what the other students seemed to be doing. No one had noticed him re-enter the room.
"Oh, Luke, we're going to miss you so much," one of the girls cried, throwing their arms around him mournfully. It was then that Michael saw the hundreds of signatures and hearts scrawled across every inch of Luke's once white school shirt. His stomach dropped. No. It couldn't be. Luke looked up at the exact moment the horror etched across Michael's face reached its climax. His face dropped, and his eyes filled with panic and desperation.
"Why is your shirt signed and everyone crowded around you like you're leaving?" Michael asked shakily, unable to control his voice. He hoped vaguely that none of the students noticed it. Luke appeared to be speechless. Of course, he'd have known that he would have to face Michael at some point today, and there would be no avoiding telling him. But he had thought that if he could just put it off long enough and surround himself with his friends' maybe it just might not happen. But now seeing the look on his face on Michael's face, he knew he had done the wrong thing. He should have told him in private, given him some warning. But he dreaded the disappointment so much.
"Uh, that would be because he is leaving, Mr. Henley," replied one of the girls when Luke could not force anything out in response. The class giggled, but Michael barely heard it. Luke stood in the middle of his fan club, frozen. Unable to control himself any longer, he walked calmly from the room, leaving behind a gaggle of bewildered children and a horrified Luke.
Almost running down the stairwell, he knew that he could not have looked his normal self. He was sure that he looked distressed, no matter how hard he tried to hold it in. Thank God he wasn't crying. He expected to hear the light steps of the younger boy following him frantically, and sped up to avoid him, but as he neared the car park, there was no sign of any follower at all. He knew the class would be perplexed, and gossip about it as they shuffled out, content to wonder about him in their now frees, but he couldn't bring himself to care much as he opened the door of his car and slumped in the seat.
The outside of the school was dead silent; calm. The only sounds Michael could hear if he strained his ears were the shouts and laughter of the sports class on the other side of the oval. Still no one followed. He felt that he should probably go back to class, back to his job, to his life. But the moment he saw the signatures scrawled sincerely on Luke's shirt, his life had combusted.
Sitting alone in his small, neat car, several of Luke's things hidden under the seats where no one would be able to find them if they happened to go snooping, Michael felt that he truly had lost everything in his life. Who cared if he lost his job? If he never went back into that school, never taught again? He had lost the one thing that truly mattered to him, and the growing gnawing in the pit of his stomach was manifesting into a nasty voice inside his head.
"You didn't really think you he would actually stay here, in this backwater town, for you, did you?" it hissed maliciously. Of course. How could he have been so stupid? So naïve? He had been stupid enough to start the relationship in the first place, knowing deep down that it would never work out, because it was wrong. It was karma. Luke was leaving him, and had not even bothered to let him know about it, because the fates had decided he was as happy as he could be with the younger boy, and as such it was time to smash his little fantasy.
Similar thoughts swirled around Michael's head until it finally got to be too much and he felt that if he didn't get out of this fucking school, he would explode. Giving up on his hopes that the younger boy would rush out to find him, apologies gushing from his mouth, crying desperate pleas for forgiveness and promises to stay, he started the car, attempted to clear his cruel mind, and drove, in a rather unstable manner, to the only place he could think to go; home.
He wasn't sure whether this was the best decision; surely the principal would come to see him, to see why he had walked out on a class in the middle of the day. And then there was Luke. Luke might show up. Brushing aside a glimmer of hope, he resigned himself to the nasty thoughts screaming at him from his mind. Luke wouldn't be coming back. He was gone.
Hours passed. He wasn't sure how many. It got darker, and still he could not move himself from the chair in his room he had planted himself in. He wasn't even really thinking - he supposed this was shock. It was supposed to be numbing. Michael knew that eventually he would have to gather himself up, piece together what was left of his dignity, and make up an explanation of what has caused his sudden departure.
He couldn't well tell them about Luke. Not to mention the trouble he would get in ("Michael how could you? - "He's 17!" - "Guilty, your Honour") he refused to ruin Luke's life. No matter how much he seemed to want to do it for himself, giving up on school (and on him), he would not hurt him. But for now, he was going to sit in his room, and not think about anything until the outside world pulled him back into reality.
Which was sooner than he expected. It was dark - he still didn't know what time it was. He had barely moved when he heard a quiet rustling outside his window. Common sense kicked in - his nearest neighbours were kilometres away. This had to be an intruder. He sprang up, muscles aching in protest, sore from hours of inactiveness, and grabbed the nearest defensive looking object. It was a remote.
"Michael! Michael, please, let me in," called a voice faintly from outside. Michael dropped the remote. He would know that voice anywhere. He had heard it ask a ridiculous amount of questions in class just to get his attention, heard it say "I love you" countless times, heard it scream his name in the throes of ecstasy late at night. Luke was outside his window.
He froze. How could he be here? He should have left by now. He shouldn't have come back. What was this?
"Michael. Please," Luke called again; sounding so broken and un-Luke like that Michael had no choice in the matter. He couldn't leave him outside. He checked his reflection in the oven door, (the nearest mirror) vainly. He looked dreadful. His eyes were red from crying he hadn't known he had been doing, his clothes were rumpled in a most un-like him manner, and he was looking slightly skeletal. "Too bad," he thought, opening the door to the younger man hesitantly.
Luke stood in the doorway for a moment, before throwing himself at the older, fragile man. He wrapped his arms around Michael's neck and sobbed. Michael felt his warm tears trickling down his neck, under his shirt and down his back. He didn't move; he couldn't. He craved the younger boy's touch, but his mind was telling him to pull away; this couldn't happen. He was leaving.
"Luke. What are you doing here?" Michael croaked, pulling out of Luke's tight embrace. Luke's tear-stained face looked unnatural - he was supposed to be happy. He was always happy.
"I just couldn't….leave. Not without seeing you," he answered softly, looking up into Michael's eyes intently, seemingly imploring him to understand. Michael didn't.
"Well, you obviously had no trouble making the decision before. Had you already decided when you brought it up with me last week? Did you expect me to congratulate you on throwing your life away?" Michael spat viciously, inwardly shocked at the venom in his voice. Where the hell had all that venom come from?
Luke's face fell, and he looked incredibly hurt, before drawing himself up and responding
"You know that's not what I'm doing, and no I hadn't decided. We discuss everything; I wanted to seriously discuss it with you before I made my decision. But you wouldn't even consider it. You couldn't even give a second thought to what I really wanted with my life, could you?" His voice was equally venomous.
"Second thought? Second thought? Do you know how many hours I have agonised over that damn conversation, Luke? Do you? I haven't been able to do anything since you brought it up. I have been panicking, lying awake at night, terrifiedof losing you!" Michael screamed suddenly, his temper snapping, his anguish all pouring out at once.
Luke was speechless. He rarely saw the older man get even slightly angry, let alone this screaming fit. He had plenty of retorts he could throw back. How Michael hadn't seemed to have thought much about the consequences of their little affair when he was fucking him raw, how Luke himself had been agonising over leaving, going over every option he could possibly think of to make both himself and Michael happy. He kept silent. It was better off for them to part… at least somewhat amicably.
"I just came by to say goodbye. And that I still love you," he replied finally, looking at the floor shamefacedly. He knew Michael would still be furious; he couldn't bear looking him in the eye. He left quickly, before Michael had a chance to drag him back, abandon all dignity and beg the boy to stay with him.
Slumping onto the floor, vaguely aware that he probably looked ridiculous, Michael found that he had no tears left. He had used them all up and not even realised it. This was it. He was really gone. He heard Luke's car door slam and race from his lot, away and out of his life forever.
10 YEARS LATER
"Oh come on, Michael, don't be such a spoilsport," whined Michael's older sister. He had to hold the phone away from his to retain any sense of hearing. He knew his sister would never give up until he gave in, but he had thought it was best to try anyway.
"It's not as if I really need to be there, Jess. You know Mel and I haven't talked for years. We've grown apart," Michael argued, slightly exaggerating the divide between him and his sister. If he had really wanted to, he knew he could turn up and they would be fine. Unfortunately, his sister knew that too.
"Oh, stop with the bullshit Michael. It is Mel's wedding, and you are dragging your lonely ass over here, tonight," Jess retorted, her voice becoming so icy that Michael looked around just to make sure she wasn't there to beat him up as she had when they were younger.
"Jeez, Jess, OK, I'll come. Chill out," he answered, giving in. A weekend in Perth really wouldn't be that bad. The weather was nice, and he supposed it would be nice to see his family again. Ending the call with Jess, he booked his flight online, packed quickly and headed out to car, ready for the drive to the airport. Had it not been such a long drive, maybe he wouldn't have stressed himself out so much.
He tried not to think about it, tried to shove the thoughts out of his mind, but there was no reprieve. It was him and his thoughts in a silent car on a two hour drive. It had been ten years, and Perth was a big city even if he was still there. Michael knew the odds of bumping into him were a million to one, but his stomach still twisted uncomfortably and worry clouded his mind. With the help of a Valium, he managed to sleep through the flight, sparing him from any further torture from his blasted mind.
Jess and Mel greeted him at the airport, both dressed in flowing summer dresses. He regretted not changing into something cooler as he peeled his jacket off.
"Mikey! Hey!" cried Jess, throwing her arms around him. Despite the scary older sister act, she was pretty soft. Mel hung back slightly, smiling. She had the premarital glow of anticipation, seemingly free of any stress. Michael found that hard to believe when he considered the groom-to-be. He had only met her fiancée the once; a burly man in his twenties, Greg was everything Michael had worked to avoid being. Needless to say, Michael and Greg's lack of bond was the primary reason for he and Mel's growing apart.
"Hey guys," he replied, pulling away from Jess and looking over at Mel. She stepped forward to hug him also, although somewhat more hesitantly. He had forgotten just how sweet his little sister was. Only just out of uni, getting married at 25 was crazy, Michael thought, but then he wasn't one to pass judgement. He was 39 and the only lasting relationship he had ever had was with a 17 year old schoolboy. Shoving aside the painful jab that had only resurfaced this weekend at the thought of the boy who had, truthfully, broken his heart, he hugged Mel back, and knew that they were fine again.
"So, how's the wedding planning going?" he asked Mel as they drove along the coastline to the large beach house their family owned. They made small talk about the wedding, which seemed to be going perfectly to plan, until they arrived home, the beauty of the location never failing to amaze him. He had never been a big summer person - unlike the rest of his family - but he enjoyed the beach, when it was relatively empty.
Making his way up the room he always used when visiting his family, (which had not been for a while, admittedly), he settled by the window and took out his laptop, ready to start writing his student reports. He knew his sisters would hate him working on 'holiday', but he was determined to push aside his growing thoughts for the boy (man) that could be roaming the streets outside.
"Mike, we're gonna go out and look for the flower girl's dress, OK? You wanna come with?" called Jess from downstairs, knowing full well that he would decline.
"Uh, no, that's OK," he called, wondering what was coming next. He knew his sister's current tone of voice very well - it always surfaced whenever she needed something from him.
"Oh, well, if you're gonna stay, could you let the electrician in? He's here to put in the fairy lights outside for the reception tomorrow night," she asked, appearing in his doorway. The pleading look on her face was enough to make Michael submit. It wasn't as if he was going to be doing anything else.
"Oh thanks Mike! You're the best. We should have you around more often," she squealed, looking remarkably like her teenage self. He supposed weddings brought that out in women. She bounced down the stairs with Mel and left, leaving Michael with a quiet, calm house. He half-expected to hear his mum in the kitchen, but being back in this house would not bring her back. She had died several years ago, and the house was oddly nostalgia inspiring.
Michael managed to immerse himself in his work for an hour, until his mind began to wander, and he suddenly found himself in the land of Luke again. True, it had been ten years since he had left, and Michael had gathered himself up, went back to his job, and his life, and somehow managed to soldier on.
He had justified his little outburst all those years ago by lying to the principal; telling her his father had died, and he had only found out that lunchtime. She was very sympathetic, understanding, lovely about it. She gave him two weeks leave, dismissed the rumours floating around about him, and allowed him to return to work as normal when he was ready.
It took a while; much longer than he had expected, for him to recover, to be able to get through days again like normal, without thinking about him at least ten times a day. But he had managed it. He had tried dating again, but the men he met with were all too … not Luke. Eventually he had given up; resigned to the fact that he was punished with loneliness for entering a relationship with a student, no matter how willing the student had been.
His friends at work had noticed the change in his demeanour in the first year - he was a lot more subdued than he used to, and he had thrown himself into his work to try and get over it. He had never divulged any details of his dating life at work - preferring to keep his sexuality private. He wasn't ashamed, but he wasn't naive either. He knew that if the entire school knew, one day a kid he had failed would make an accusation, and he'd be ruined. Never mind that it wouldn't be true.
"Ah, but you did take advantage of a student, didn't you, old Mikey boy," hissed the nasty voice in his mind, startling him. That voice hadn't surfaced in years. He brushed it aside, still slightly shaken, and attempted to leave his musings and return to his work as the doorbell rang downstairs. Having almost forgotten about the electrician, he raced downstairs, heading toward the door. Opening it, he apologised.
"Oh, sorry, I totally forgot you were coming. I was just upsta-"He was cut short by the sight of the man in the doorway, who had also frozen, an unreadable expression on his face.
Michael hadn't seen that face in ten years.
"L-Luke?" he croaked, unable to tear his eyes from the man. The man nodded; his eyes still wide, unspeaking. Michael was speechless. Here was the boy (man) who had left him in shameful little pieces, standing in the doorway, completely unmoving. They stood for a moment, both gaping, unable to move, or speak. It must have looked ridiculous to anyone watching, Michael thought in the back of his mind.
"Uh, I kind of need to…" Luke began and trailed off, looking down. His cheeks still flushed that same shade of red that suited him so well as a boy.
"Oh, yeah, of course," Michael replied, stepping out of the way to let Luke inside, his politeness kicking in. It felt bizarre, they were estranged lovers. They shouldn't just be standing here awkwardly in the hall, trying not to stare at each other. Luke seemed to be grappling with himself; Michael could see his mind working over the way it used to.
"Fuck it," he growled suddenly, dropping the bag he was carrying and shoving Michael up against the wall, attacking his lips with frightening ferocity. Michael was shocked by the strength the youth possessed; he had always been strong as a schoolboy, but this was different. This was a man. He was sure he could not have managed to push Luke off of him now, even he had wanted to. God, this was good.
Responding without hesitation, Michael kissed back hotly, wrapping his fingers in the soft hair he had dreamt of, secretly, shamefully, for so long. Luke moaned into his mouth as his hand crawled up the younger man's shirt. Grabbing Michael's wrist so hard he was sure it would leave bruises, Luke dragged them up the stairs, somehow managing not to break the kiss they had both been waiting so long for.
As they fell onto the bed of the closest room (certainly not the room Michael had been assigned), and fought for dominance, Michael somehow ended up underneath Luke's toned body and all too familiar smirk. As the younger man trailed kisses down Michael's clavicle, chest, stomach, - shit- waistband of his pants, all rational thought left him, and his body arched up into the waiting warmth of Luke's.
Sometime later, he wasn't sure how long it had been; Michael lay in his older sister's bed. He was sure this was Jess' room; it had her clothes peeking of the wardrobe and a photo of her children on the bedside table. This made him feel even worse - he had just fucked the much younger man in her bed, in her room, under the watchful eye of her innocent children. Sort of.
Luke lay, still panting, with his head on Michael's bare chest, melting back comfortably into the position, though it had been years since he had assumed it. They didn't speak; the little session they'd just had had said plenty. Michael was confused, and a little worried in the back of his mind, but his conscious mind couldn't give a flying fuck. Luke was lying in his arms, in his glorious nudity, once more, and that was all he needed.
He observed the younger man's body with interest once more. The boy (man) had definitely changed. Michael had thought he was perfect when he was 17; the tanned muscles, windswept golden hair and incredible strength definitely trumped his memories of him. Or maybe it was just because he had waited so long, he was a little biased. They lay there in silence for a while longer, before Luke stretched and got up, heading toward the bathroom.
"I'm just having a shower, I won't be long," he said, looking at Michael and smiling before heading into the bathroom and closing the door behind him. Jumping out of bed himself, Michael headed to the downstairs bathroom, feeling a little too sticky for his liking. After a shower, he looked respectable again, and headed out to the kitchen, where Luke was waiting, looking a little nervous.
"Hi," he said softly, looking up at Michael, his eyes nervous and hopeful. Michael sat down at the table across from him.
"Hi," he replied, gazing intently at the younger man. Neither seemed to know what to say. Sex had been a good substitute for words, but now they had to be adults and talk. Something which neither were very good at when it came to the other.
"So, I still have a job to do. Wanna help?" Luke asked suddenly, gesturing to the bag he had retrieved and standing, heading toward the sliding door which led outside. Michael nodded, following him out. Luke handed him a massive reel of fairy lights, wrapped tightly around the metal spool.
"Just hold that for me, and I'll set them up," Luke ordered, already moving toward the trees which surrounded the house and led onto the golden beach. Michael stood, somewhat awkwardly, with the spool, twisting it when necessary, watching the younger man lead fairy lights through the many trees and decking of the house.
"So, you're an electrician?" he asked, desperate to know more about this adult Luke. Luke nodded, still moving about.
"Guess those physics classes you wanted me to do paid off, huh?" he joked, smiling at Michael uncertainly, looking as if he had broached the forbidden topic. Michael decided not to say anything. That was over and done with. There was nothing he could do about it now.
"So, what have you been doing? Since… you know," Michael asked, hoping he hadn't upset the boy (man, dammit).
"Well, I was pretty… distraught. After, you know. So I came here, that night, and bunked with a mate for a while. Took the apprenticeship, did a bit of labouring for about a year. Then I realised I didn't really wanna be a bricklayer. So I went back to TAFE, took an electrician's course and started my own company," Luke answered easily, his nimble hands creating a lasso of fairy lights and expertly hooking them around a particularly high post of the decking.
"You… this is your company?" Michael asked in disbelief. His face surely showed it, and Luke's face fell a little. Kicking himself internally, Michael hurried to apologise.
"Oh, no that's not what I meant, Luke. I just… you're so young still. And you already have a company. It's incredible," he explained, handing the now empty spool over to Luke, who shoved it in his bag. He flicked the switch he had in his hand, and the entire yard lit up with multi coloured twinkling lights.
"It'll look better at night," Luke said, watching the expression on Michael's face.
"It's gorgeous," Michael replied, slightly breathless. He had always been a sucker for beauty - his obsession with the younger man was a testament to that.
"I never forgot about you, you know," Luke said softly, eyes still firmly at the trees. Michael didn't know to answer, and so stayed silent. This was the right thing to do, it seemed, as Luke continued.
"I came here, threw myself into my work, but I was miserable. So miserable. For the first year,I wished I had listened to you, hadn't thrown my life away, hadn't thrown you away. I told myself it was just the profession; I wasn't content just laying bricks mindlessly all day. But still wasn't happy. I had my own company, with good men working for me, and I still wasn't happy," he continued, still refusing to look at the older man. His eyes were clouded over with something close to tears.
"Did you ever find anyone?" Michael asked carefully, dreading the answer, no matter what it would be. If Luke had found someone, Michael would be desperately, all consumingly jealous, and if he had not, he would be dreadfully guilty from ruining the man's life.
"I've been with Kyle for a few years. He followed me out here after he finished school. Professed his love one night when we were both trolleyed. Caught me by surprise, you know," Luke answered, finally looking over at Michael. He was grinning. Michael's stomach dropped. He still couldn't have him.
"Well, I don't know why. He was always mad about you. Every teacher in that place could see it. Followed you about like a love sick puppy. I had to keep a close eye on him, I tell you," Michael replied, managing to choke the words out without too much malice, he hoped.
"No! Really? Kyle? Blimey, that's crazy. I can't believe I never saw it," Luke exclaimed, his face lighting up with amusement. Michael began to squirrel away every moment they had had up til now, for later wallowing. Luke was obviously happy with Kyle. They were the same age, and Michael knew that Kyle would never hurt him - he was always far too in love for that.
"Well, I'm glad you're happy," Michael said finally, heading back into the house. A strong hand grabbed his arm, pulling him back.
"Where are you going?" Luke asked, his face puzzled. It soon morphed into realisation, and before Michael knew it he was pulled into another knee-buckling kiss. As quickly as Luke had initiated it, he pulled away again.
"God, I'm such an idiot. I should have told you I'm not happy with Kyle. He's a great guy, really, and he really loves me, which is horrible, because I just can't love him as much as he wants me to. He always knew about us, from the very beginning, and I think he knew in his heart that I was just trying to forget you, to move on," Luke explained, still close enough for Michael to breathe in his scent and feel every slight movement in the younger man's body.
"What, what does this mean for us then?" Michael asked, leaving the choice up to Luke. Had he had own his way, he'd never allow the younger man to leave his side again.
"You really are thick, aren't you, Mike? Of course I'm staying with you. I'm not acting the prat again," Luke answered, seeming to have read Michael's mind. For the first time in ten years, a surge of true happiness coursed through Michael's body and he grabbed Luke by his shirt, smashing their lips together fiercely.
"For god's sake Mikey, it took you damn long enough," called an exasperated voice from the other side of the yard. Springing apart, the two were greeted by the grin on Jess' face.
"What- How long have you been there," spluttered Michael, his cheeks reddening. Luke was surprisingly calm.
"Long enough. Christ, do you know how long it took to convince your little boyfriend to give me your number?" Jess asked Luke, striding over to them confidently.
"Hey, what can I say? He's protective," Luke answered nonchalantly, leaning against Michael's already slightly shaking frame.
"You-he-you.. you knew about this?" he asked incredulously, not really sure to which one he was speaking. Both really.
"What, about your love affair with Luke here? Little brother, I knew a lot longer than just the ten years you spent bloody wallowing, wasting your life away. I decided enough was enough, the boy'd be old enough for the stigma to die off, and it was time you two kissed and made up," Jess explained, smirking.
"She knew Kyle from work. He's the IT guy at her school, and she figured out it was me he was dating. Apparently, I was all he ever talked about," Luke bragged, smiling cheekily.
"Hey, you, don't go getting a big head. We're already marrying one egomaniac into the family tomorrow night, I do not need another one," Jess chastised, causing Luke's cheeks to redden at her mention of the wedding.
"Anyway, she, uh, convinced Kyle to let her come and see me, explain her plan. I think Kyle was realising how miserable I was. Otherwise I don't think he would have conceded that easily," he continued, somewhat more subdued.
"You planned this? You seriously arranged to have him come here, knowing I'd answer the door? Knowing I'd-" Michael stopped short, his cheeks flaming. Jess chuckled darkly.
"Knowing you'd lose all control, throw him on the bed and ravish him? Yes. It was a brilliant plan, if do say so myself. After all, you're back together now, and it's all good, isn't it?" she answered, grinning, self-satisfied.
"Well, that's not exactly how it happened," Luke mumbled, suddenly very embarrassed.
"Yes, dearest, meddling older sister, he took advantage of me. And in your bed, I might add," Michael added, taking Luke's hand and dashing inside, not wanting to face his sister's wrath.