Luke and his parents learn a little something about trust.
|“And where’re you going at this hour, dressed like that, young man?”
Luke Goldstein-Crossley pauses with his hand on the knob of the front door. “Er . . . library?”
“Huh. Try again.”
Turning to face his Dad, Luke puts on his most charming smile. It never seems to work on Neil, not even when Papa’s the one doing it.
In fact, Neil merely gives him an unreadable once-over then huffs. “Lukas, that shirt is more holes than shirt, and those jeans are so tight I can read your religion.”
“DAD!” Luke covers the goods with both hands, wincing as his testicles try to ascend into his body cavity.
“Well, it’s the truth.” Neil crosses his arms and leans against the banister. “And you know what else is the truth? No son of mine is going out at ten o’clock at night, looking like some sort of . . . rent-boy!”
“Really? I look that good?” It slips out before Luke can censor himself and Neil does not seem amused.
“Roger!” he calls, turning his head to look back up the stairs. Luke can just about make out a hickey on his Dad’s neck and has to fight not to gag. He knows—for a fact, ick—that his parents still hump. Like bunnies. He knows that said humping means that they still love each other, and that even though they’re so old they can still get off on each other. But being presented with tangible proof is absolutely horrifying. “Roger Crossley! Get your ass down here and take a look at your son! ”
And that, right there, is how Luke knows he’s in trouble. When he aces a math test or does something brag-worthy, he’s his Dad’s son. When he gets caught dry-humping with a varsity quarterback in an empty classroom or something else that might be considered slightly . . . unsavory, he’s his Papa’s son.
“Oh, what now, light of my life?” Papa’s amused voice precedes him down the curving staircase. He, like Neil, is wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt. But unlike Neil, he’s barefoot. He has a tendency to walk around the house that way, a tendency Luke has inherited.
“Take a look at the boy, Roger, and tell me what’s wrong with this picture,” Neil says, gesturing at Luke, but not looking at him, as if the very sight of Luke pains him. Roger does so, eyebrows shooting up as he looks Luke over critically.
“Bloody hell, he’s started gelling his hair back again,” Roger moans, only to get an elbow in the ribs from Neil. “Ouch! What was that for?”
“For not noticing your son looks like a—a streetwalker-in-training!”
Roger tuts. “Oh, now, don’t be so harsh, my darling. He looks to be well out of the training stage.”
Which is good for another elbow from Neil and a hastily covered laugh from Luke. Neil glares at them both.
“I hope you think that’s really funny, because getting grounded? Won’t be nearly so amusing!”
“But I just got done being grounded!” Luke whines, leaning on the door and pouting. Neil scowls and comes down the last three steps, arms still crossed and eyes squinting myopically.
“Are you wearing make-up, Mister?”
Luke rolls his eyes. “Uh, yeah. But just lipstick and eyeliner, I mean . . . I’m not going to a rave or anything.”
“And where, exactly would you be going, Lukas?” Roger’s wearing his concerned face. The real one, not the one he fakes to stay on Neil’s good side. “Your curfew is eleven—”
“Against my better judgment,” Neil adds.
“—and you’re leaving at ten? Giving you one hour to do . . . whatever it is you’re planning to do in that charming little outfit.” Roger’s eyebrows quirk up again in unasked question. Luke sighs, but mentally sorts through all the handy lies he’s used in the past, and—
—and it’s obvious from the looks he’s getting from his parents that they know exactly what he’s doing, their bullshit-o-meter having been set off.
So it’s to be the truth, then. The option of last resort. But even as Luke balks at telling his occasionally over-protective parents the truth, he imagines what it’d be like to go a whole ‘nother twelve hours without kissing Kyle, or feeling those strong arms around him, and resigns himself to it.
“Right, then. So . . . Kyle called me and asked if I wanted to hang out for a bit and I said yes because we haven’t been out since I got grounded that last time and I really miss going out with him and anyway it’s only going to be for a little bit so can I please go please?”
“Kyle as in Kyle Darden, that boy you got caught messing around with at school?!” Neil demands, at the same time Roger hmms and looks even more concerned. “Absolutely not!”
“But—but—” Luke sputters angrily, then stomps his booted foot. “You’re just saying no because you think I’m gonna have sex with him if I go!”
“Well, duh!” Neil exclaims, rolling his eyes, and elbowing Roger again. “Damnit, back me up, here, Roger!”
“And don’t act as if you wouldn’t!” Neil adds, cutting Roger off before he can say anything. “If you’d had your way, you’d have lost your virginity in an empty classroom on your teacher’s desk!”
“That’s not true!” Though it halfway is. The part about letting Kyle do him in school, anyway. “And for your edu-tainment, I got my cherry popped a year ago, and it wasn’t in a classroom, and you didn’t know anything about it! So if I wanna have sex, keeping me from going out with Kyle isn’t gonna stop me!”
In the shocked, downright mortified silence that follows this outburst, Luke blushes, and crosses his arms over his chest, and rocks back on his heels. “I mean. I know how to be safe and everything. And—I’m not, like, easy, or anything. I wasn’t going to give Kyle any tonight in the first place.”
Again, this is halfway true. Sucking dick is sucking dick. It’s nothing like sex.
Roger sighs, putting his arm around Neil, who shoves him away. Roger sighs again, his eyes darting unhappily between his husband and his son.
“Right, then. Brilliant moment to drop a bomb like that on us, Lukas. Cheers,” he says sarcastically, and Neil snorts, his shoulders one tense, angry line. This time, when Roger puts his hands on those shoulders, for a wonder he doesn’t get shrugged away.
“You’re only fifteen, Lukas,” Neil says finally, his voice pleading and cracking like just saying the words hurt. And that hurts Luke, who realizes that yet again, he’s disappointed his Dad. Granted, this happens fairly often, considering Neil’s astronomically high code of ethics regarding behavior and Luke’s tendency not to live up to it. But that doesn’t mean the pain of it gets any easier.
“I’m sorry, Dad.” Luke’s own voice is cracking like it hasn’t since he was thirteen—he may be Dad’s biological child, but he’s somehow inherited Papa’s low timber and accent, something which makes getting boys far easier than it should be. “I didn’t mean to disappoint you. Again.”
Neil heaves a sigh of his own, the straight line of his shoulders turning into a slump. He shakes his head. “Luke—you could never disappoint me.”
Luke snorts. “Please. Don’t act all like you’re not totally disappointed your little boy turned into some kinda . . . he-slut.”
Neil cocks his head solemnly, as if he suddenly understands something that’s been eluding him. “Is . . . is that how you think I feel? Is that what you think you’ve become in my eyes?”
“I—” Luke looks away. “I dunno. I guess,” he mumbles, picking at the edge of one of the holes in his t-shirt. It really is pretty scandalous. Even for Luke. “You’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not living up to your . . . high standards.”
Next thing he knows, Neil’s arms are around him, holding him tight. Startled—Neil’s not one for hugs and kisses. Not like Roger—all Luke can do is hug back, ignoring the prickling behind his eyes.
“You’ve never once disappointed me, Luke. You never could. I may not agree with all the choices you make, but I love you. And I’m proud of you,” Neil says fervently, his voice cracking again, but in a completely different way.
“Oh.” Luke says, only it’s more of a hitch. He doesn’t really know how else to respond to any of this. The hug, the approval . . . any of it. “Okay.”
Then another set of arms are sliding around them both, strong and warm, and Papa’s muttering: “Look at us, blubbering like a trio of old queens.”
“Oh, man.” Luke laughs a little, blushing. After a minute he pulls out of his parents arms, unable to look at them. Unable to look anywhere but his expensive, fashionably battered boots. “So, yeah. I need to go for a walk.”
“A walk?” Luke can sense the glance his parents share between them. “Where?”
“Nowhere. Just for a walk, okay? God.” He risks a quick look up, and sees Neil and Roger share another one of those glances. Concerned, but not worried.
“Alright,” Roger finally says, sliding his arm back around Neil, who leans against him in a way that means they’ve got each other’s backs on this particular decision: they stand united. “Have fun, and remember this is a school night, sweetheart.”
“I will,” Luke promises, meeting their gazes in turn.
Roger smiles wistfully, and Neil . . . looks like he might say something else. But in the end, he doesn’t. Merely lets Roger lead him to the stairs. They go up quietly, without looking back.
And that, it would seem, is that.
Stepping out the front gate, feeling as free as a balloon escaped from a bunch, Luke pauses, contemplating two directions. Right leads to Kyle’s house (or, more accurately, the backseat of Kyle’s car), and left leads . . . to nowhere in particular.
He takes a step to the right, thinking almost ruefully that he could blow Kyle four times in the next hour and still get in under curfew. In fact, if he really wanted to, he could let Kyle fuck him. Twice, even. Lord knows he’s got plenty ‘nough protection for that. . . .
Suddenly, his Blackberry trills; he’s got an incoming text message. Probably from Kyle, wanting to know why the hell his dick is still unsucked.
But when Luke checks his phone, the incoming message is from Neil:
Be careful. Be safe. Be back by 11. XO, Daddy.
For a long while, Luke stands there, a smallish, dark-haired, dark-eyed boy in too much make-up and too-tight clothes, staring at his phone and blinking a lot.
“Fucking Daddy’s boy,” he mutters to himself, turning left, toward nowhere in particular. But with a smile on his face.