Chapter 18 - An Awkward Breakfast (with scones!)
Drew's dream felt so real! He could feel perfectly the washboard abs his face was pressed against. The feeling was so intense, he could barely believe it. And the smell! They had a musky, manly smell of--
'Wait a minute?' Drew thought, 'since when can you smell in dreams?'
He eased his eyes open. He could make out the individual hairs that ran down the valley of abs to a waistline. He went rigid as he noticed for the first time an arm wrapped loosely around him. Holding his breath, Drew turned his head around. Scott raised his head from the headboard and smiled at him.
Drew sat bolt upright and scrambled away from Scott so he was on the edge of the bed. "Sorry," he said. "I-I didn't mean to fall asleep on you like that..." He looked away uncomfortably.
Scott shrugged. "It's OK. I didn't mind."
Drew raised his head and they locked eyes. Thoughts raced through his mind. Why hadn't Scott left him and spent the night in his own room? "I thought you were straight?" he blurted before he could stop himself.
"So did I." Scott laughed.
They both suddenly shifted their gazes away from one another.
"I'll... let you get... dressed..." Scott said nervously and stood. He grabbed his own shirt from the floor where he had put after taking it off in the night. He didn't even bother to pull it on before he was out the door. He slipped unnoticed into his own room and leaned heavily against the door. Scott dragged his hand through his hair and exhaled long and deep.
* * *
Someone was gently stroking his cheek with a finger. Warm breath blew across his cheek, and then Jason heard a soft, melodious voice close to him.
"Sometimes you are a waterfall
Full of love unconditional
The strength within to help me see what's right
Sometimes you are the sunlight
Sometimes you are a rainbow
Through my troubles you bring me hope
Through the darkness you bring me sight
Sometimes you are the moonlight
And you're shining through, you're shining through
Shining through on me and you
Sometimes you are the morning dew
Protecting all of those around you
Sometimes you are a goodbye kiss
'Cause in the end love is all there is
So shine on"
Jason turned his head to smile up at Matt. He moaned happily. "Mmmmm. Good morning Mr. Musical."
Matt grinned and kissed him lightly on the cheek. "Your mother's already knocked on your door twice," he whispered. Matt crawled backwards across him as Jason slowly sat up in bed.
Loud knocking came again from Jason's door and his mother's voice carried in. "Jason, we're about to have breakfast. Everyone else is already down and your father got in late last night."
"OK mom, I'll be down in a sec." Jason called back.
"I should go." Matt whispered as Elizabeth's footsteps pattered down the staircase.
Jason touched his arm lightly and looked at him pleadingly.
"I don't want to make a scene..." Matt started.
"You won't." Jason thought for a moment. "I have an idea. Dad doesn't know anything about you or even about what Sara does, as far as I can tell. If I introduce you to him, neither Mom nor Sara will be able to do anything."
"I'm not sure Jase..."
"Please? I don't ever want to lose you again."
Matt kissed him tenderly. "You won't. I promise you." Then he stood and patted Jason's leg through the duvet. "Now go get dressed Mr. Morning-breath."
Jason suddenly blushed. He cupped his hand over his mouth and nose, exhaled and then quickly breathed in through his nose. "Hey!" he narrowed his eyes, "I do NOT!" He grabbed a pillow and took a swing at Matt.
Matt ducked out of the way and backed out of pillow-range. "All right, all right! Truce!" He held up his hands. "But you still need to get dressed."
Jason slipped out of bed and riffled through his wardrobe. He pulled out fresh boxers, his pinstripe jeans and a tight black T-shirt he liked that said "F**k yeah I'm weird!" on it. Jason turned, unsure whether or not to undress in front of Matt, but Matt was standing by the window, his back to Jason. He couldn't help but smile at Matt's consideration.
When he was dressed, he slowly approached Matt from behind. He was going to play a bit of grab-ass, but before his fingers reached skin, Matt's hand caught his own. Matt turned around grinning.
"Naughty naughty" He wagged his finger in jest.
Jason blushed, and looked down. Matt's cloth-covered loins came into view. He looked back up at Matt's face. "You better get dressed too you know. I'm not introducing you to my dad in a loincloth." He giggled.
Matt smiled and the bands of liquid cloth flowed swiftly up his arms and spread down the rest of his body. He stood now, donned in jeans and a white button-up shirt with a sewn pattern of x's that went down both sides of the chest. It was slightly translucent, showing a hinting of skin underneath. Jason couldn't help but admire his choice in clothes. He looked totally hot.
"Human looking enough?" Matt asked.
Jason giggled a bit. "Not nearly." He teased and then reached up and undid the top few buttons of Matt's shirt as well as the bottom one.
"Does that matter?" Matt asked him when he was done.
Jason nodded vigorously. "People generally only fully button their shirts when they go to work. Besides, you look hot as hell this way."
Matt went and stood in front of the full-length mirror in the corner of the room. He gazed at himself, head cocked slightly to one side. He narrowed his eyes and Jason saw a sliver of liquid stuff shoot up his arm, underneath his shirt and cross his chest. It wrapped around his neck and formed a hemp-knit necklace with wooden beads.
Jason forced himself past Matt towards the door. "OK, we really need to go now."
"Worried your mom will come back?" Matt asked, still looking at himself in the mirror.
"No." Jason blushed. "But if we don't go soon I'm not sure I'll be able to keep myself from jumping on you and taking you back to bed."
Matt's eyes locked onto him in the mirror. "I think it's probably best if I meet your family before that happens..."
"Aw shucks." Jason said in mock disappointment. He scuffed his foot on the carpet, then grinned and extended his hand for Matt to take. Together they walked out of Jason's room and descended the stairs down into the hall. Jason led him through a set of doors on the left of the hall and into the living room. They could hear quiet chatter accompanied by the clink of china coming from the next set of doors, which were slightly ajar.
"Wait here." Jason said in a whisper before rounding the door and slipping into the dining room.
* * *
His mother, Elizabeth occupied one end of the long table, with Sara next to her on her left. Next to her was Scott and then Drew, all facing three empty chairs. On the opposite end of the table sat his father, deep in a newspaper and sipping a cup of coffee. They all looked up as Jason entered. His mother looked at him in welcome, his sister narrowed her eyes disapprovingly. If she was reacting this badly to Matt's presence the previous night, Jason could only imagine how she'd react when he introduced Matt to his father.
Scott had a slightly angry expression on his face, which troubled
Jason for a moment, but not nearly as much as how Drew looked at him. He was looking at Jason as if he had just slapped him in the face. The previous night flooded back to Jason. How he had started to come out to Drew and then left him to find Matt in the street. Jason looked at him apologetically as he could, hoping Drew would understand.
His father on the other hand beamed at him warmly.
"Welcome back dad." Jason said, forcing a grin.
"You too kiddo." His father said. "I heard you had an eventful term."
Jason nodded and wondered just how much his mother had told him about that.
"You going to have a seat?" His dad asked, pointing to one of the three empty chairs.
"Um..." Jason hesitated. "Actually dad, I wanted you to meet someone." He said and stepped back to the door. He swung the door back and Matt stepped through. "This is Matt."
Everyone stared at Matt with varying expressions. Drew and Scott were looking at Matt in something akin to awe and the both wore expressions of new understanding. Sara and his mom were staring at Matt, smoldering with anger. His dad smiled warmly at Matt.
"Please, come join us." Jason's dad invited Matt.
There was a crash from the end of the table. The cup of coffee Elizabeth had been holding had slipped from her hand and shattered on the wooden floor. She didn't seem to notice; she was so fixed on Matt. Only when Nancy came bustling out of the kitchen with a sponge did she react by getting down on her knees and taking the sponge. She muttered her apologies and cleaned up the mess herself. She picked up the bits of broken china and went through the door behind her into the kitchen, followed closely by Nan.
"Is everything all right Lizzy?" Jason's dad called though to her.
Her reply came back a bit choked. "Yes, everything's fine. Just... fine."
Jason hated to do it like this, but he had been right. With his father there, neither his mom nor Sara had been able to make any complaint or act against Matt without revealing that they already knew him. And that would have lead to further questions that none of them wanted to have to answer.
Elizabeth reemerged a moment later, slightly pale. She took her seat at the end of the table and then proceeded to look around at the rest of them. Around the room and at the floor. She looked everywhere, except at Matt.
Jason took his seat near on his father's left and Matt eased into the chair next to him.
"Well, now that my son has decided to join us, I think it's about time we ate." His father said to the rest of the table with a chuckle. No one else laughed. Mr. Parker pulled a cloth off of a large bowl next to him, revealing still warm scones and toast. He passed the bowl to Jason after taking his pick. Jason did likewise. Matt looked curiously at the bowl and chose a single scone. He set it on his plate, perfectly in the center and then reached out and offered the bowl to Jason's mom.
"Thank you." She said icily through tight lips.
Matt could feel her resentment and anger rolling off her in waves. Like a tide, ebbing and flowing, it was matched by a second force of anger from Sara. He avoided their gaze and studied the doughy biscuit in front of him. He watched Jason carefully, as he used his knife to slit the scone in half. Matt took up his own knife. He tilted his head slightly it caught his reflection in the polished metal.
He took the scone gingerly in his hand. "You eat this?" He whispered to Jason so none of the others could hear.
Jason half turned and looked at Matt. An angel, sitting, knife held awkwardly in one hand and a scone in the other. He had to struggle to keep from laughing. Rather than risk opening his mouth and having a giggle emerge, he nodded.
Matt pressed his knife against the scone. The knife pressed in, but the scone didn't split as it had for Jason. He looked at Jason who was still watching him. Jason made a back-and-forth motion with his own knife subtly so that no one else would notice. Matt mirrored his action and was surprised to find the dull bit of metal actually slit through the bread. He cut it fully open and set both halves on his plate. Then he looked at Jason again.
Jason dipped his knife into a small plastic container, which proclaimed itself to be 'butter', and spread a small amount of the yellowish paste on his scone. Jason passed the container to Matt and again, Matt copied him. He couldn't help but notice how unsanitary it was to use the same tool he'd used to cut the scone, to dip in the container.
He though for a moment that was it, but when he looked at Jason, he had spread a reddish jelly on top of the buttered scone. Matt looked at the small jar Jason passed him. It called itself 'Raspberry Jam.' He dipped his knife in the stuff, wincing to see his butter smeared blade sink into the jar. He spread some of the 'jam' on the scone. It amazed him how much effort humans seemed to put into their food. All that he'd heard about eating was that cooking the food took most of the preparation. Here, his food had already been cooked and yet it had still taken so long to prepare. He was made suddenly aware of how much more efficient and easy meditation was.
Matt looked at Jason who was busy chewing large bites of his scone. Matt raised his own in front of him. He sniffed it delicately. It smelled... sconey, he decided. He'd watched people do this all the time, how hard could it be? He opened his mouth and took a small bite of the scone.
The tastes assaulted him and made him forget all about Elizabeth and Sara. He was completely consumed with the barrage of sensations in his mouth. Meditation was never this good! The lump of food sat on his tongue. And it continued to do so. He looked to Jason and noticed his jaw moving up and down. Matt copied his actions and his tongue pushed the mouthful under his teeth. It was quickly ground up and turned into a paste. It had begun to taste less appealing by now. Something wasn't right. He was still missing something. Again, he was thankful that mediation was so easy and yet... if all food tasted as good as that first bite had, then perhaps he could understand why humans did it.
Jason's throat seemed to move up and down every now and then. Matt tried to do the same but it didn't have the same effect. The food remained where it was, as a thick paste in his mouth. Jason leaned next to him and whispered out of the corner of his mouth.
"Swallow!" he hissed.
* * *
Sara watched Matt with a bitter smile on her face. She couldn't help but enjoy seeing Matt's ineptness as he struggled to eat. She ate from her own plate, laden with toast, bacon and eggs, while watching Matt intently. She was vaguely aware of her father saying something.
"So how long is your friend staying?" her father asked.
Jason 'ummed' and then said, "Actually, I was hoping he could stay for Christmas, if that's OK with you?"
Sara's knife slipped from her hand and clattered on her plate. It bounced with a ring of metal and toppled onto the floor.
"What the blazes is wrong with you down there?" Her father asked, looking at her ended of the table. He didn't even wait for an answer, but turned back to Jason. "Of course he can stay if he wants to. The more the merrier!" He took a bite of scrambled egg and swallowed. "Maybe later today you kids can all go and get us a tree?"
"Ah, sure dad." Jason said.
Sara couldn't believe this was happening. Matt was in HER house, with HER family, and HER father was actually inviting him to stay! She seethed at Matt and Jason. Matt for being Matt, and Jason for being clever enough to realize that in front of their father, neither she nor Elizabeth could protest against Matt's presence.
* * *
Back at his end of the table, Matt had finished his scone and studied the glass of yellow liquid Jason had poured him. Jason was busy digging into his own plate, which was by now heaped with a rapidly depleting amount of various foodstuffs. Although the scone had been an interesting experience, Matt thought it best to limit himself to one 'interesting experience' at a time. He took a sip from the glass and chewed as he had with the scone. It sloshed around in his mouth and Matt realized this stuff could be swallowed straight.
The taste was tangy, but not unpleasant. In fact, it was rather refreshing. He swallowed the stuff down and took several more gulps from the glass, draining it. The stuff was strangely addictive. It refreshed you, but left you wanting more. He took the container and poured another glass. There was a picture of a sliced open orange on the carton.
"Tropicana Orange Juice," he muttered softly, reading it off the carton. He took a few more gulps and then froze. He could feel the liquid going down his throat but then he couldn't tell where it went. He set the glass down. Jason didn't seem at all bothered, but Matt was deeply troubled. Where did all the stuff go? What happened to it inside his body? He knew humans digested what they ate, but angels? He'd never heard of another angel eating. Something he'd have to take up with Tobias next time he saw him. If he was ever allowed back into Heaven by Miriam that is...
* * *
No one else seemed to notice, or at least think it odd that Matt ate only one scone. Matt listened to their quiet conversations among themselves, his mind eavesdropping on what they said without meaning to. Jason's father had dragged Jason and Drew into a deep conversation about their academics, although Matt sensed that Drew was somewhat reluctant to talk at the moment.
Elizabeth and Sara had finally relented their glares at him and were now carrying on with Scott about something they called 'the stock market.' It made little sense to Matt, the obsessions people had for material things.
Jason's father pushed his chair back and stood, tucking his newspaper under his arm. Elizabeth stood also and started to collect her plate, helping Nancy who had again emerged from the kitchen. Mr. Parker thanked Nancy for the breakfast and then walked from the room.
Elizabeth whispered to Sara as she took her plate. "I have to get out of here or so help me god I'm going to start throwing things at him." She swept off into the kitchen, the door swinging closed behind her.
Sara, Scott, Drew, Jason and Matt sat in an uncomfortable silence for a moment before:
"Matthew?" Jason's dad stuck his head back through the dining room door. "Might I have a word with you?"
Matt glanced at Jason. "Of course Mr. Parker." He said standing. "What can I do for you?"
"Just step into my study for a moment won't you?" Mr. Parker requested in a tone that left little room for protest. Matt followed him through the doors, through the living room and into Mr. Parker's study. Mr. Parker shut the door firmly behind Matt and went behind his desk. The man took something from a drawer and held it by his side so Matt couldn't see it. He took a seat in a leather, high-backed chair by a small crackling fire. He gestured for Matt to take the seat facing him.
Matt sat and shifted nervously in the silence of the room. He wasn't used to such feelings as nervousness, and he decided it was not a sensation he liked. He tried to calm himself. After all, it was only Jason's dad. What could possibly happen?
Matt's anxious mind breached the gap between them, eager to end the silence. He dove into the man's mind and then reeled back. Matt looked at him in shock. "You know!" Matt gasped.
"Very good Matthew," Jason's dad said, aiming the gun he had concealed by his side at Matt. "Very good indeed."
* * *
As soon as Matt had left the room, Drew stood and ran past Jason into the living room. Sara stood and gestured for Scott to follow her. He came around the table and then stopped by Jason. He looked down at Jason.
"You should be ashamed," he said with a curled lip.
Jason gaped at him.
"You didn't even tell Drew, and now you bring your boyfriend in right in front of him." Scott said in a dire tone. "You claim to be his friend? Well you just slapped your 'friend' in the face." He spat and followed Sara through the doors. Moments later Jason heard the door to the hall open. Scott and Sara's voices echoed through for a moment and then the door closed.
Jason sat in silence, unsure of what to do. The soft sound of sobbing eventually roused him from his seat. He followed the noise into the living room. Drew was curled up in one of the large comfy-chairs. He was clearly trying not to be heard but failing miserably. He looked up as Jason entered the room. Drew jumped out of the seat and moved hurriedly to the door to the hall.
"Drew!" Jason called out to him.
Drew didn't stop. His hand was on the doorknob when Jason called out again.
Drew froze and his hand returned to his side. His hands balled into fists and they clenched and unclenched.
"You're... 'sorry'?" He said slowly.
Jason took heart. "Yes! I'm--
"You're 'SORRY'?" Drew almost screamed as he turned and faced Jason, tears streaming steadily down his face.
Jason stepped back, shaken by the force of Draws anger.
"We were best friends since high school!" he shouted. "We were like brothers!" Drew sputtered.
Jason was shaken to the core. He felt his legs give way and he sat heavily on the carpeted floor with a 'thud.' The floodgates opened and Jason felt hot tears start to run down his face. "I'm sorry!" he said a gain, hoarsely.
Draws shoes came into view of Jason's hanging head.
"What are you sorry about?" Draws voice trembled with emotion. "Do you even know what you've done?"
Jason shook with a sob. He couldn't even bring himself to look at Drew. His best friend...
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you!" He cried. "I thought you'd hate me if you knew I was gay and I didn't want to lose the best friend I ever had!" Jason wailed.
Drew sat heavily on the carpet in front of Jason. "I'm too much in love with you to ever hate you." He said in a pained voice.
Jason choked on his next sob. He looked up at Draws face. "W-what?" Jason couldn't believe what he'd just heard. "Y-you...?"
Drew nodded, tears still trickling down his face. "Ever since I saw you on that first day at high school."
"Why didn't you say anything?"
"Same reason you didn't," Drew tried to smile at the irony of it but found it was too much to do. "I didn't want to lose the most amazing person I ever knew."
"Drew, I never knew..."
"That goes for both of us, I think."
It all made sense to Jason now. Why Drew and looked so pained when he introduced Matt. "Oh god Drew, I'm so sorry! If I'd known I'd have never brought Matt in like that. I never meant to hurt you like that." Fresh tears were blossoming in his eyes and Draws face turned into a blur of color.
"Yeah, Matt..." Drew said sadly. "It wouldn't have made a difference. We saw you two last night."
"I'm sorry, I never meant for you to find out that way." Jason sobbed again. "I tried to tell you earlier... But then Matt... and...." he trailed off, choking slightly again on a sob. He looked again into Draws face. "Do-- do you still love me?"
Drew shrugged. "I dunno any more. Not that it really matters now... now that you have Matt." Drew grinned, through his tear streaked face. "He's hot. I don't suppose he has a brother does he?"
Jason couldn't help but giggle. "He has a sister, I dunno about a brother... But he is a bit gorgeous isn't he?"
They laughed together. Then both sniffled and wiped their faces a few times.
"Are we still friends?" Jason asked hopefully.
"The best." Drew nodded. "Forever."
They sat in silence, getting their breathing under control.
"Jason, there's something I need to do." Drew said finally. He got on his knees and leaned towards Jason. "Because if I don't then I'm always going to wonder what it would have been like if... if things had turned out differently."
Jason looked at his best friend of six years, on his hands and knees, his face barely a foot from Jason's own. "W-what's that?"
Drew locked eyes with him. "Kiss me. Just once." he whispered. He started moving forwards on his hands, their faces getting closer and closer together.
Jason was stunned by the request. Could he do it? His best friend? He cloud do it, but should he? He stared back into Draws hopeful eyes and decided. Yes, he could do it. More to the point, he should do it. He WOULD do it. For Drew.
The distance between them vanished suddenly and their lips met. Jason parted his lips and his tongue darted out and met Draws.