Seismic Shift

It all started by witnessing a forbidden kiss and now Luke was lost. He stretched out on his bed and stared at the ceiling. Everything he’d known in his life had shattered with one discovery. Seeing his father kissing his business partner had been horrifying. His dad couldn’t be a fag; he was nothing like – nothing like them. His dad was cool and liked sports. He knew it was a stereotype, but there was no way it could be true. Luke rolled over onto his side and winced as his whole body reminded him of the fight earlier. Ryan hadn’t taken the beating Luke had during the fight on the baseball field. It had been the outlet Luke needed. He used violence to cover for so many things. The cracks in his life were not something he wanted to confront.

Luke rolled to lie on his back again; it hurt the least. Fighting beside Ryan had been fun; it was better than fighting with Ryan. Everything in his life was going to change. His mom wanted a divorce and his dad was thinking of moving. Luke hated his father, but also loved him. The perfect life he’d had was in ruins around his feet now. He knew how it was in Newport and he was no longer going to be popular. Not much would change about being wealthy, but he was no longer one of the ‘in crowd.’

The ceiling was so much more interesting than anything he would see in his dreams. He feared what he would see. He feared what he would feel. He feared most the loss when he woke up in the morning. He longed for the dreams, but hated what they represented. He hated who was in them.

“Welcome to my world,” Seth said as he jumped on his skateboard and rolled away.

Luke sighed and adjusted his backpack as he walked into school, prepared to be ignored or mocked; armed with the rationalization that it was going to be liberating not to be held hostage to social expectations after having played the game for so long. But the rationalization was a long way from the reality that settled in as the day passed: He was an outcast now. Ryan had Marissa, and Seth apparently had Summer and/or Anna depending on how much of Seth’s babble he could understand. Luke had "friends" who weren't going to speak to him for a long time. If ever again.

He heard the sly comments and did his best to ignore them, but they hurt. He went from class to class, invisible. He’d gone to the library during lunch instead of trying to find a place to sit. He wasn’t hungry anyway. He found a quiet spot near the back where he could hide from the snickers and insults.

The silence and isolation gave him more than enough time for introspection. The more he thought about it the more he knew he owed Cohen an apology. Well, he had a great many apologies to hand out to Cohen. And a few to Ryan as well. Comeuppance was a word that continued to roll around in his head. His worldview was shattered and the easy life he’d been handed was gone. He’d heard on some Discovery Channel show once that adversity brought the best out in people. Luke wondered what all of this would bring out in him.

Walking down the halls, Luke spotted Seth and decided that he would make amends as he could. “Cohen, got a minute?”

Seth paused for a second and his eyes darted around. “Umm, yeah, like a minute is all I have, because I have to get to class and so do you and well. That minute is…”

“Seth, it’s okay.” Luke took a deep breath and exhaled. “I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I don’t expect you to believe me or anything, but…sorry I’ve been an ass is all I can say.”

“Yeah…huh…okay…well…you said it and that’s a minute and we have class, but not together…so…” Seth took off.

Luke sighed and went to his next class. He walked in late and just sat down without looking around. School was something to do until college, then he could do what he wanted. A piece of paper landed on his desk and he opened it. “You know what they say, like father, like son!” He crumpled the paper and sunk lower in the chair. He glanced at the clock and prayed school would end soon.

“Today totally sucked!” Luke told Ryan as they walked. “Payback is hell and am I ever getting it back in spades.” Luke found a spot on the beach and sat down. He was surprised when Ryan sat down so close to him.

“Seth told me you apologized to him earlier. Listen, man, I know it sucks, but…” Ryan paused.

“Looking for the fictitious silver lining? Trust me; I am still trying to find it myself.” Luke sat down and stared at the water pounding against the shore. “You can live your whole life with an illusion and suddenly it all vanishes. I feel like I’m walking around naked at school now.”

Ryan laughed and patted Luke on the shoulder. “You wear one of those skimpy Speedos to play water polo. That's close to naked already.”

Luke playfully shoved Ryan. “Yeah well, I was going for an analogy smartass. Besides I’m in the water and don’t care that I’m practically naked when I’m playing.”

“You feel vulnerable, I got it. Look at it from another point of view instead of karmic punishment.”

Luke arched his eyebrows and smirked at Ryan. “There is another way of looking at this? The amount of glee people are taking in my family’s pain is depressing.”

Ryan threw an arm over Luke’s shoulder. “You learned who you could trust and you get to grow up. That's something to be proud of in itself. How are you and your dad doing?"

Luke leaned into the half embrace and relaxed a little. “We are going up to USC to see the game still. Want to come along?”

“Don’t you want to spend some time with your dad?”

Luke moved an arm behind Ryan’s back to support his weight so he could lean back further. “He invited you remember?”

“That was before this all came out.” Ryan turned to Luke and frowned. “Sorry, bad pun.”

“It’s okay; I’m still dealing with the idea that my dad is gay. Mom is still a wreck.” Luke paused for a moment. “I got a note at school saying ‘Like father, like son.’ It was just one of the better moments of today’s horror fest.” Luke glanced down at his watch and sighed. “It’s getting late. I’m sure you and Marissa have plans.”

“No, she’s keeping Summer company right now. Seth is on a date with Anna, and Marissa’s making sure she doesn’t do something…”

“Stupid?” Luke supplied.

“Exactly. So you have me all to yourself tonight.”

Luke swallowed deeply, torn by the muddle of his emotions brought on by that note. His thoughts were chasing each other like a dog chases its tail. Years of denial, of knowing that he was different, had been shattered with a single witnessed kissed. All the years of locker rooms and temptation rolled into one huge emotion as the power of denial slowly began to crumble.

‘Like father, like son.’

Ryan's warm half-embrace took another chunk out of that denial -- a friendly embrace from the person who had threatened him from the moment Luke had first seen him. And he'd been right. Ryan had taken Marissa away and had become central to Luke’s fears.

‘Like father....’

“You’ve gotten quiet there all of a sudden.” Ryan squeezed Luke’s shoulder. “You okay?”

Luke was torn between the truth and hiding. “Yeah, just letting the realizations hit me that I might not get laid again in high school.” Luke turned and smiled at Ryan. “Joking. Though that might be true, but it's not a major concern at the moment.”

Ryan chuckled. “You’re a healthy teenaged guy; your dick has needs like the rest of you.” Ryan winked. “Besides, Luke, you still have both of your hands.”

“Fuck you,” Luke muttered and lightly elbowed Ryan. “So what should we do tonight?”

Ryan stood up and then pulled Luke up as well. “Come on back to my place. It should be quiet with Seth out and I think Sandy and Kristen had plans as well. We can play Halo2 on the X-Box and order pizza.”

Luke sat down on the edge of Ryan’s bed and tried to block out his dreams and his feelings. They’d picked up some beer on the way to Ryan’s place and had pizza as well. Instead of X-Box they decided to watch a movie and hang out. Now Luke wished he hadn’t had any beer. It was difficult to deny what he wanted.

“You okay, man?” Ryan asked as he walked out of his restroom. “You look…I don’t know…out of it.”

Luke nodded. “I’m fine. I need to apologize to you too, Ryan. I really don’t know how I’d be doing without you I was a world-class jerk when we met and you’ve been the best friend a person could ask for during this…catastrophe. Thank you.”

Ryan sat down next to Luke and smiled. “At least you’re a cute world-class jerk. I mean…”

Luke smiled at Ryan. “Yeah well, you have that super cool Rebel without a Cause thing going for you. No one wants to admit it, but you are the hottest thing in Newport.” Luke realized what he said and tried to stand up. “I…sorry…I…”

Ryan grabbed Luke’s arm and held him in place. “No worries. You’ve had a few beers, so no driving.” Ryan stopped and then patted Luke on his shoulder. “So you think I’m hot, huh?”

Luke tried to calm his breathing. “I…I mean…” Luke tried to turn away, but Ryan was tapping his shoulder. Luke could feel his face flaming, but he turned to look at Ryan. “Sorry I said that. I…”

Ryan chuckled.” It is okay, Luke. I called you cute, even though you’re more handsome than cute.”

Luke looked down and sighed. “I’ve been so confused…and not just about my dad. I mean…” He looked up and tried to smile at Ryan. “I was thinking about these things before my dad’s bombshell and I thought it was wrong, but my dad is…was…is a good guy.” He ran a hand through his hair. “I always wanted to be like him, but I tried to hide what I wanted and then I saw…”

Ryan pulled Luke into a half hug. “We are who we are Luke. We can change some things, but not our feelings, not who we like.”

Luke hugged Ryan back. He smelled his hair and touched him without violence for a change. He wanted to kiss the enigmatic boy next to him. The one who had haunted his dreams and fantasies since the moment Luke first laid eyes on him. Luke pulled away. “You're dating Marissa and I can’t hurt her like this.”

“Luke, I don’t want to hurt Marissa either. I won’t hurt her. I don’t want to talk about Marissa right now. I want to talk about you and me.” Ryan leaned over and ran a finger along the fading bruises on Luke’s cheek. “Just so you know, I kind of figured you had some tendencies when I met you.”

Luke shifted and fell back onto one of Ryan’s pillows. The ceiling in the room didn’t remind him of the one in his room. He tried to calm the panic he suddenly felt. “Is it that obvious?”

“No, but the overly macho world-class jerk act plays well for Newport insiders. To me it was just that, an act.” Ryan fell back and placed a hand on Luke’s stomach. “You tried too hard and it raised questions to me, that’s all.”

Luke turned to look at Ryan. He leaned up and placed a kiss on Ryan’s lips. It lingered for a moment before it was returned. Luke pressed harder and soon Ryan’s mouth opened and Luke deepened the kiss tasting the hints of beer and pizza he knew Ryan was getting from him as well. Luke pulled back and fell back on the pillow. “Wow.” Luke brought a hand to his lips, to make sure this was real. “I…wow.”

“You already said that.” Ryan smirked and shifted closer to align his body next to Luke’s. “No hurry. It’s been a day and we’ve had a few drinks. Go to sleep.”

Luke knew it was early, but the combination of events did make him feel sleepy. He pulled off his shirt and cargo shorts tried to get comfortable. Shifting slightly he got closer to Ryan and was rewarded with a small kiss and arm thrown across his stomach. He sighed and fell asleep.

Awareness came on him slowly and having a body practically on top of him was an indication that he was not home. He tried to roll over, but found himself in a close embrace. He didn’t want to wake Ryan. The warmth was soothing and he drifted off for a few seconds before he realized that he almost naked. And hard. He moved away, pulling the sheet with him, and saw that Ryan was dressed the same way. Luke couldn’t help but glance at Ryan’s crotch and noted that Ryan was hard as well, the tent in the boxers has obvious for both of them. A moan and movement made Luke turn to Ryan's face.

“Morning.” Ryan moved closer to Luke and placed a light kiss on his lips. “Did you sleep okay?” Ryan ran a hand along his stomach. “Looks like you have the same problem I do.”

Luke calmed his panic and tried to smile. It was all moving too fast. “It greets me every morning. I usually take care of it in the shower.”

“Me too, easier to clean up that way. You okay?”

Luke blinked and nodded. “I can’t believe I’m talking about jerking off while sitting in your bed. Are you sure this isn’t a dream?” Ryan’s light punch in his arm would definitely not be a part of any dream where he and Ryan got this far. “Okay, point taken. I should get home.”

Ryan stopped Luke and pulled them both out of bed. He handed Luke’s clothes to him and started dressing as well. “You can clean up if you want. Your hair is going in a few hundred directions.”

Luke pulled his cargos back on and went to the bathroom. He laughed at his reflection. He had no clue how Ryan would have wanted to kiss him when he looked like this. Finding an extra toothbrush, Luke started pulling himself together. After a few minutes he walked out and stared at Ryan for a second. “It’s all yours. I have to get home.”

“Not yet bud, don’t you know the rules about sleepovers? Breakfast is always provided by the host.”

Luke chuckled and shrugged. “Well, no sleepover I’ve ever had had me waking up hard and in the arms of my best friend. And that is even after some great parties. I’ve woken up half dead on the floor of a buddy’s room. Never got breakfast then.”

“Get dressed and we can have Cocoa-Puffs. Or if you want to wait I can make some bacon, eggs, and toast.”

Luke slipped his shirt on and slid his shoes on as well. “This is so strange. If you feel like cooking I have no problem with a hot breakfast. But you have to go to the game with me. If SC wins then they can play for the National Title.”

Ryan finished getting dressed and they walked over to the main house. Luke sat down as Ryan started getting everything he needed for breakfast. A cup of coffee appeared in front of Luke. “Thanks, I could use some.”

“Oh isn’t this domestic? Did you two have a good time last night? What would Marissa say about her ex-boyfriend sleeping in the same bed as her current boyfriend?” Seth asked as he walked into the kitchen. “You two looked awfully cozy.”

Luke dropped his head and wished he had a hangover to compete with the sudden terror in his stomach. “It isn’t…”

“Seth, I don’t know what you saw, but it’s not what you think.” Ryan moved closer to Seth. “How was your date?”

Seth backed away from Ryan. “How can it not be what I thought I saw? I went to talk to you and you two are curled around each other and…judging by the pile of clothes on the floor, there was not much coming between you two.”

Luke drained the cup of coffee is a single long gulp. The bitter hot liquid was the pain he needed to deflect everything else. He stood up and clenched his fists and closed his eyes trying to keep his surging temper in check. “Ryan, thanks, I’ll be back at 11:00 so we can go to the game. I’m not sure, but my dad’s ‘friend’ might join us. He was supposed to before all this.”

“Oh, it can be a double date.”

“Seth, shut up!” Ryan yelled. “Luke, I’ll be ready at eleven.” Ryan walked Luke to the door. “Hey, I’ll deal with Seth. He might be bitter about Anna and Summer, or just cranky. Who knows?”

Luke nodded and moved to his truck. “Later, Ryan.” He sighed and headed for his house. Everything was different, but despite it all Luke admitted that he was not miserable. He wasn’t sure if he was gay or just confused, but one thing he could count on was Ryan. That thought made him smile. Whatever happened he could handle it as long as Ryan was around

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