I'll keep mine and you'll keep yours
the day is sunny, warm, breezy. it is picturesque in a way that does not fit what alexander has set out to do.
his father sits across from him, thin as a rail, not as youthful as he would perhaps like, in a suit tailored to perfection. his glasses glint in the californian sunlight, hands folded neatly in his lap across from alexander. they're sitting on the balcony of an expensive french restaurant, his suit costing more than anything any of the employees were currently making or perhaps, would ever make in their entire lives. his shoes are custom made to suit him, completely polished as they tap the floor with the only sign of impatience he will allow himself.
alexander sits opposite him in a old shirt borrowed from luna, with a beard dusting over his features, in equally worn jeans, jaw clenched. the silence between them stretches as appetizers are brought out for his father, his own glass of water untouched. he won't be forced into speaking first, after the terse calls, the press pages, and the pressure coming from everyone else in his life right now over the photos of him and luna together. over the fact that without his consent, everyone now knew exactly why he had dropped out of his classes silently, why he had moved into an apartment smaller than one of his boyhood rooms.
his father reaches over to the glass, firing first, and decisively, "you can't simply expect us to approve of your life now, alexander." he looks at him over the rim, eyes narrowed ever so slightly, expression outwardly mild despite his words. "i can't force you to leave him, i'm not as naive as your mother--"
"you mean you can't verbally force me to leave him," alexander snipes back, tipping his heads towards his father in acknowledgement of the real advantage he had. "you can try to take away money that already legally belongs to me, and you can try to push me out of your circle to make me come back to you." it feels good to put that out there, in the open instead of simply feeling the threat at his throat or hanging over him like a pendulum.
his father takes a sip of the wine. the breeze picks up. alexander notes the deep lines in his father's face, the stark white of his hair against his skin. he knows that this isjust a temporary silence between them, now that both of them have made their first needed shot.
he has not fought with his father verbally like this before in his life, over something so necessary or essential. he has never felt the need to.
his father puts the glass down. alexander tenses up automatically.
"if you must, you could do better," his father's voice is soft, what he believe is placating. alexander is repulsed by it, the suggestion. it almost takes his breath away; not just out of loyalty and love for someone who had rattled his entire world. no, it's because alexander is sure that the kind of man his father would prefer would be the sort of man who was the very anti-thesis of luna himself.
the urge to physically lash out rises in him more fiercely than it ever has in his entire life. normally, he would push it down, save it for those smaller moments of rebellion, nursing the anger in the dark. not here, not now, though. his hand shake too hard as alexander stands up, turns on his heel and leaves his father behind.
FEELING HELPLESS I LOOK FOR DISTRACTION I GO SEARCHING FOR YOU
"you don't need me to help you with this course," luna's voice is steady, calm and has that flint of tone that alexander was starting to recognize as an opening silo to an argument. "you haven't opened up that book the entire time you've been here with me."
caught, alexander isn't quite sure how he should respond to this. he keeps looking at luna's hands, poised in front of him perfectly clasped together, not touching the food alexander had ordered a few minutes ago. he feels as if he's been chastised by this man he's looked up to for months, who he followed onto this campus to know better--even if he would never admit such a thing outloud for fear of what it could mean, to admit to that. he swallows, looks up and tries to say something that doesn't feel foolish (luna makes him feel deeply foolish, sometimes)...
and comes up empty. his mouth closes, jaw clenching with the inability to voice what he wanted to say.
luna is patient, saintly almost, with his silence as it stretches onward.
it takes a few more moments of silence until alexander can finally voice, "no. i don't," he looks up fully, still struggling with what precisely he's feeling, sitting here in luna's kitchen, fingers nervously reaching out to start unpacking the chinese food before him. "you're smarter than-- i..." he feels as if there's something just beyond his grasp for what he wants to say, needs to say. he wants to get there, to stop feeling thrust under a spotlight like this.
luna's fingers touch his own on the bag. alexander freezes at the sudden touch. there are a thousand reasons as to why luna would have reached out to deliberately touch him with the first five being the ones that make him uncomfortable, as none of those ideas are something that he thinks luna shares.
and yet, he can't make himself pull away.
Till we're lost in the heat of the moment
whenever alexander mentions the boarding schools he's gone to, there is always an assumption that such places helped to engender a community of brotherhood, understanding and safety. anyone who has actually gone to such schools knows that such an idea is laughable.
for many people, they eventually made it out with friends, connections, rivalries that mattered in the real world, could always be circled back to, and in a manner, could make something of it.
most boys were not alexander, who routinely found himself sneaking off to other places on the grounds to eat his food alone, who kept to himself whenever he could manage, who's one friend lived elsewhere, and who preferred the company of his nanny to his parents' voices over the line interrogating him on grades.
it was all this to say that to have any semblance of kindness or friendship was sparse and lacking. most contact with other boys in the emotional and physical sense, for him were ones laden with tones of annoyance or purely punitive in nature. his roommate bodychecking him roughly in the hallways, the sports he hardly participated in left him bruised, and the visible irritation others had whenever those necessary social engagements happened and alexander, somehow, failed to miss a social cue, or did not understand the joke being said.
to be suddenly touched by luna ibarra, in his kitchen, in a way that does not feel punitive or laced with irritation is strange. stranger still is that there is a yearning alexander finds in those moments before he bolts from the apartment. a yearning to have that touch spread, to have it linger in a longer way than the few moments he was permitted there, to have a true sense of... of something he has no name for.
So draw me close
two days pass between the hasty retreat. luna texts him, emails him. alexander ignores it, tries to actually pay attention to the course laid out for him. he feels however, his mind starting to wander every few pages. he thinks about what he's left there, about the warmth of luna's hands on his in that moment, on how much he had wanted from it. the words, the emotions are still there, at the very edge of his mind, sitting there, wanting to be understood.
worse, really, is that he misses luna. it isn't the same thing as missing other friends, as missing his parents or missing anything else. it is deeper than that, sticks in the craw of his mind in a way that he can't dismiss the same or push down like anything else.
so when, on day three, luna sends him another text, asking him to meet him for lunch, alexander says yes.
when luna asks him if they are still friends, alexander says yes.
and when luna asks him if he wants to leave for awhile, to make up for time, alexander says yes.