People who saw John Foster, described him as a punk.  He had long brown hair down to his neck and had  piercings, in his nose, eyebrows and lips.  For college he had to remove the majority of them, which left a multitude of minute holes in his skin.  On his right shoulder was a tattoo of a screaming skull.  Outside of college, people thought he looked very aggressive and unapproachable.  Similar to any teenager, he loved listening to music and whenever he got the opportunity, he would plug in his earphones and scream in melody, with one of his favourite hard rock or death metal bands.  His obsession with this genre of music led to many people thinking he was very hostile and peculiar.  However, he had a caring and supportive personality.  He had a very small circle of friends, who he enjoyed socialising with, but not even they knew his darkest secret.

****

It was a Tuesday afternoon and John was in his history classes.  He was finding it difficult to concentrate; not because he found the birth of Communism boring, but because he was distracted by Rudy O’Connor.  John had only been going to college for two months, but he had always watched Rudy from afar. Perhaps he should try and approach him.  John packed up his things and was about to walk over to the empty seat besides Rudy, but he hesitated and sat back down again.  John sighed and nervously pulled on his lip ring-one of the few piercings he was allowed to wear.  What was he so afraid of? Rudy was just a boy.

****

John had finished college and was with his two best friends, Abbie and Brian, in his bedroom.  On the walls were posters of some of his favourite rock and metal bands, such as Asking Alexandria, Deep Purple and Avenged Sevenfold.  Hanging in his wardrobe were band shirts, he had bought from all of the concerts and gigs, he had attended.  John and his friends were sitting on his bed.  Abbie was constantly dying her hair different colours and today it was bubblegum blue.  As soon as he had gotten home, John had reinserted all of his piercings and now there were pieces of metal in various positions, across his face.  It looked like a bizarre mixture of flesh and metal.  He didn’t want his parents to hear their conversation, so he reached to his Ipod station and played Bullet for my Valentine, one of his favourite heavy metal bands, at full blast.

“I have something to tell you.  Something I have been keeping secret for a long time.”

“Oh my god! You’re pregnant?!” Brian joked.  He was a closely shaven skinhead with a lot of spots.

“No I’m not, but you’re close.”

Brian suddenly looked very confused.  “Ummm….you’re going on an epic quest to find your long lost brother?” He pondered.

Abbie rolled her eyes and slapped Brian across the head.  “What is it, John?” She asked.

“I’m gay.” John nervously tugged on a small hoop in his ear.

Upon revealing this secret, there was a reflective silence.

Abbie scratched her head.  “I kind of figured that,” seeing her friend’s perplexed faces, she decided to elaborate, “I’m a girl.  I can tell when a guy is checking me or another girl out and I have never seen John look at a girl in that way before.”

“You can tell when a guy does that?” Brian asked, looking like a little kid who had just been caught stealing cookies.

“Well you guys are never exactly subtle, when you do it.”

“Well aren’t you the clever one?” Brian muttered.

“Why do you sound surprised? I’ve always been clever.” Abbie retorted.

“Shut up guys! I like …a boy.”

“John, I know, I’m gorgeous and brilliant, but we’re friends; it wouldn’t work out.”

Abbie groaned and slapped Brian again.  “Who is it?” She asked.

“It’s Rudy O’Connor.”

“Oh, him.  He’s not what I would call classically good looking.”

“What do you mean by that?” John scratched his nose.

“He’s very scrawny and his hair in those awful dark, curls.  And I’ve never liked his eyes; they’re really hard, as if there’s a layer of steel behind them.”

“That’s not true,” John protested, defensively, “his eyes aren’t cold.  They’re deep.  There’s something behind them.  In our history lessons, I try and to figure out what it is.”

“Good for you, man.” Despite all of his jokes, Brian genuinely cared about his friend and respected all of his decisions.

Abbie smiled at Brian’s encouragement.  “Ok John, you’re in his history class, have you talked to him yet?”

“I haven’t.  I’m so annoyed at myself.  I need to.”

“Yes you do.  You’ve got history tomorrow.  Talk to him then and see what he’s like.  It’s still early in the year.”

“Thanks guys.  You really are both great friends.”

“Eugh, don’t go all mushy on me.  I might throw up.”

Abbie recognised the humour in his comment and went to playfully slap her friend, but she stopped her hand, just before it made contact, which made Brian jump.

“Two for flinching.”

****

It was Wednesday; the lesson before lunchtime and John was eagerly waiting for Rudy to sit down next to him. He was sitting in the chair next to Rudy, which had always remained empty.  This had always puzzled John; even though Rudy seemed to be popular and well liked, by guys and girls, he was always on his own.  Perhaps, he just preferred to be alone.  Rudy walked into the room and nervously pulled on one of his curls.  This made John grin like an idiot.  The boy’s crush frowned, as he saw a stranger in the seat next to him.  He was intrigued though.  Rudy walked over to John and sat down; he knew he should try and break the ice.

“So…are you liking college so far?” Rudy was very interested, by this punk boy.

“It’s fun I suppose.  The people are nice,” John could see Rudy was on edge, which made him even cuter, “relax mate.  Just because I look like this, doesn’t mean I’m going to start moaning about my life or start screaming “death to the mainstream.”

Rudy chuckled.  “It’s not that.  I’m just nervous around new people.  Sorry…I haven’t asked you your name yet.”

“John Foster at your service.  I know you’re Rudy O’Connor.  I’ve heard about you.”

“Have you now? I haven’t heard a thing about you.”

John’s heart sank slightly, when he heard this, but he decided to stay strong.  “We need to do something to change that.  Why don’t you come over to mine on Saturday? We can play some games and have some beers.”

“That sounds quite social.  With how you look and everything, I would imagine you being the complete opposite.”

“That is a stereotype, my friend, and you shouldn’t listen to those.”

There was a sudden slamming as the teacher brought a heavy text book, crashing down onto the table.  “If you’ve finished talking, boys, then I would like to begin my lesson.”

****

History had just finished and Rudy had already left for lunch, but not before exchanging numbers with John.  The latter was now texting his friends.  His heart was thrumming with excitement and his fingers were fluttering over the keypad.

<i>OMG guys! This is so awesome.  I’ve got Rudy’s number and he’s going to come to mine on Saturday.  This is just great.  We really hit it off.  Oh wow!!!!</i>

****

Saturday could not have come soon enough.  John was trembling with a mixture of happiness and nervous anticipation.  This was silly.  He had only known Rudy for a couple of months.  The doorbell rang and the sound echoed around in John’s mind.  He ran to open the door and when he saw what stood behind it, he almost died.  Rudy was standing in a t-shirt and shorts, which left his beautifully tanned arms and legs exposed.  There was a subtle watery quality about his eyes.

“Can I come in?” He asked, awkwardly.

John realised he had spent a few seconds staring at him and Rudy had seen every moment of it.  The former nervously smiled and let his crush into his house.  As Rudy climbed the stairs, he was thinking that he liked the look of John.

****

The rest of the day had been a complete blur.  Rudy and John had laughed and drank.  They had talked about trivia and bonded into the twilight hours.  Then there was the kiss.  John remembered every second of it.  It was like a scene from a movie, which he played over and over again in slow motion.   His stomach flipped upside down, every time he remembered their lips slowly dancing over each other, how on occasion, Rudy would trip over John’s lip ring.  Their tongues met, mingled, caressed, loved.

“Dude, you sound like a teenage girl.” Brian commented.

“Shut up  It’s really sweet.” Abbie retorted.

“I’m just teasing.  I’m happy for for you.”

“It’s amazing.  I just can’t believe it.  It’s only been a day.  Wow.” John was rubbing his hands together and fiddling with his various piercings.

“I can’t believe it either.  I didn’t even think he knew who you were.” Abbie remarked.

“I guess we were both looking at each other from afar.  When he said, he hadn’t heard of me…he must have been lying.  It doesn’t matter how it happened…it just has.”

“How did you know he was gay, when you guys kissed?” Brian asked, whilst rubbing a spot.

John shrugged.  “I didn’t…I just…the moment felt right and I decided to take a risk.  Luckily it paid off…if it didn’t, then I don’t know what I’ll do.”

“What are you going to do next?” Abbie asked.  Today her hair was completely black with blonde highlights.

“A date I suppose.  Is it supposed to happen like this?” John scratched his ear and inclined his head to his girl friend.

Abbie shrugged.  “Love is confusing and unpredictable.”

Brian smiled slyly.  “Aww, you’re in love? That’s so cute.”

****

It was time for history and John was already in the lesson, waiting for Rudy, for his boyfriend? Were they boyfriends now?

No.  Don’t be silly John.  We’re not boyfriends yet.

Rudy walked into the room and made eye contact with John.  He smiled and approached his seat.

Oh my god! Here comes my boyfriend. John was squirming with delight.

“Oh Rudy.  I can’t stop thinking about last night.”

“Not so loud!” Rudy anxiously looked around.

“Don’t worry about it.”

Rudy relaxed.  “It’s been on my mind a lot too.”

“This is just crazy.  I didn’t even think you knew who I was.”

“I know quite a bit.  I just was too scared to say anything.”

John smiled and breathed deeply.  He was about to take another risk.  “Now we’re…you know.  I was wondering whether you wanted to do something with me.  Is this moving too fast? Oh…I don’t know.”

Rudy chuckled affectionately.  “It’s fine, John.  Don’t worry about it.  I’d love to.  What were you thinking of?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“I’ll tell you what’s a surprise.  John and Rudy are talking through my lesson again.  Would you boys please be quiet?!” Their history teacher demanded.

****

“Am I allowed to see again?” Rudy had been blindfolded.  He wasn’t allowed to know where John was taking him.

“Yes you are.  I wanted it to be a surprise.”

Rudy untied the old school tie from his eyes and looked around.  “Wow.  This is just amazing.  Wow.” The college boy was standing in front of a most tranquil lake.  It was completely peaceful and very quiet.  The water reflected the dark silhouettes of the skeletal trees, which surrounded the lake banks.  John took his boyfriend by the hand and started running off.  “Come on.  We haven’t got much time.  Twilight is coming in.”

The two boys started running down a dirt path, past fishermen who gave them strange looks before returning back to their quarries.

“John…slow down.” Rudy was breathing heavily and starting to slow down.

“Come on.  We’re almost here.”

At the end of the dirt path was a little wooden boardwalk, which jutted out into the lake.  It was used for fishing, but today it was empty.

“John! Stop!”

“We’re here now.” John walked over to the board walk and sat down, before being joined by Rudy.

“I don’t think I’ve run that fast since I was thirteen and I was running away from some homophobic dickheads.  So what did you want to show me? What is this place?”

John thought that Rudy had the softest pair of eyes, he had ever seen in any boy.  Any enigma in them had melted away and had left behind two pools of caring, kind emotion.

“Just wait and see.  This is one of my favourite places to come and just wind down.  This is where I come to be antisocial.”

“Again, I would never imagine this as being you.  With how you look, I’d’ve thought you’d’ve brought me to a heavy metal gig or something.”

John chuckled and rubbed his tongue on his lip ring.  “You really need to stop listening to those stereotypes.  It’s true that I enjoy all of that stuff.  I mean, I do love the music and the image and what it stands for, but I’m not like that all the time.  I just wanted to bring you here.”

“I’m glad you did.  It’s gorgeous out here.”

“And in the time, we’ve been talking, it’s gotten even more so.”

John directed his boyfriend’s attention to the lake and skyscape.  Sunset had just started and an intense red light was reflecting of the wispy Cirrus clouds.  It was more than that.  The whole sky had caught fire.  Yellows, oranges, ambers were dancing across the atmosphere.  The whole spectacle was mirrored in the lake’s indecisive surface.

John grinned, when he saw Rudy’s astounded face.  “I was hoping that’d be your reaction.”

“This is beautiful and so romantic.” The two boys made eye contact and there was a moment of pure clarity and understanding.  The two lovers fell into a silence, as their lips talked for them.  Their eyes closed.  Their mouths opened.  John became lost in his sanctuary.  Rudy started to run a hand through his boyfriend’s hair.  The lip ring rubbed between their skin.

*Author’s notes*

I know this is not what I usually write, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and a love story is about as far from my comfort zone as I can get.  I hope you enjoy it.  I did have a more comedic ending, but I decided to change it, as I thought this ending was more dramatic and more appropriate.

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