Summary: The room was crowded, the air heavy of cigarettes smoke and nice smelling perfume, alcohol served in fancy cocktails and everyone wore a mask. A masquerade ball, in other words an exclusive party where no one but invitees would get in.

Pairing: Lucas 'Luke' McNamara / Caleb Mandrake

Disclaimer: The concept and characters and everything else belong to Rob Cohen and John Pouge. Thus I do not own anything of this all.

Warning: This is slash, meaning malexmale. If you don't like, you'd better leave immediately. If you don't know what slash is, don't read it (you might actually like it, get addicted, and then where will you be...?)

Thanks to those who will read this and will hopefully be inspired to write more about The Skulls too.

Masquerade ball

By: Marjon

"Experience is a hard teacher, because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward." -- Unknown

Caleb Mandrake's point of view

The room was crowded by people, the air was heavy of cigarettes smoke and nice smelling perfume, alcohol served in fancy cocktails were all over the place and everyone was wearing a mask. A masquerade ball, in other words a fancy exclusive party where no one but invitees would get in.

A slight smirk crept on my face when I realized how pathetic these other human beings were. They were fooled so easily, it was almost boring. But what the heck, they served free drinks and maybe I could find myself a nice lady or even some hot guy.

To satisfy the first part I did not have to do much, the bar was about twenty feet away from me and I was able to get drunk for free, so I did not complain at all. Although the second part was not that easy. Everyone was masked, so how would you know who was a good-looking person to enjoy yourself with?

I grabbed one of the fancy looking cocktails, gulped it down and looked around. It wasn't so hard to find a woman or a man, seeing the girls wore nice dresses and the guys wore expensive tuxedo's. The only hard part was to find someone of my own age, I could not risk doing something with one who was much older than I was.

I gulped down another two drinks before I looked around to check the room once more, allowing my eyes to fall on some girl standing in one of the corners, seemingly all alone here. The red dress and mask stood out of the other colors on the ball, most of which were black and white from the men their tuxedo's.

It didn't take me long before I was standing in a deserted place with the girl in the red dress. I didn't even know her name, but at the moment I did not mind, for I was not completely conscious anymore. I had drunk too much before I came here with this girl, I realized now. My mind became even more clouded, before someone opened a door, allowing a lot of bright light to shine on me. I closed my eyes, not wanting to let the light blind me completely.

"Leave…" I muttered towards the stranger, but the person did not leave. He, or she, came even closer to us. The girl with the red dress hid a little behind me, ready to run away when it was needed. She did not seem to be affected by the alcohol yet, but she must have had a lot of it too.

The stranger walked towards us, saying something softly towards the girl, who then left after having glanced at me one last time. I vaguely wondered who the stranger was, but I did not seem to recall who the person was. I felt I was being lifted up, and the person spoke softly to me, but I could no longer understand what the stranger said to me. I was sure now it was a man though, for he did not wear a dress nor a woman could lift me up that easily. I wanted to get away, but as a second thought I continued to lay against the other male. It was very comfortable and I was way too much out of my mind to be able to break free from the grip.

The next thing I remembered was that I opened my eyes slowly and checked my surroundings. I was laying on a sofa in what seemed like a study, but I could not be completely sure. I tried to lift my head to get a better view, but a wave of nausea stopped me immediately.

"I wouldn't try that if I were you." A comforting voice said from somewhere behind me, a small bit of humor voiced in his words. I did not have to turn my head around to know who it was.

"Why are you here Luke?" I asked slowly, closing my eyes again.

"You don't remember, do you?" Luke replied, it even appeared he was sounding a little disappointed. I simply ignored it and heard him stand up and walk to another place in the room, suddenly feeling the end of the sofa being pushed lower by another weight.

"Of course I do."

I heard Luke chuckle softly. I shouldn't have tried it, I knew Luke would see through my little white lie anyway. A small sigh escape from my lips. "Fine, what happened?"

When Luke did not reply, I slowly opened my eyes, curious why my soul mate did not want to answer that seemingly innocent question. Would it have been that bad what happened?

"Luke?" I asked, seeing the said person had his eyes closed and did not look back. Trying to get up while not getting nauseous wasn't very easy, but finally I was able to pull it off.

"Luke," I started again. "What happened? It could have not be that bad, right?"

A thousand thoughts went through my mind, but I could not seem to find the right answers to them. I sat even closer to Luke, almost touching his lithe form. I was curious for the answer, but I was smart enough not to continue to question him. Luke would give me an answer sooner or later anyway. Or so I hoped…

Time passed, but I did not know how long we sat there in silence. It could have been mere minutes or even hours. None of us moved nor spoke, the only thing heard was our soft breathing and some sounds from another place quite far away it seemed.

I felt my conscious slip away again, allowing myself to get some more sleep, when the sound of Luke's voice awakened me. I opened my eyes again and stared at the male in front of me, he said something but I could not comprehend what he had spoken. Lifting my hands towards my temples and rubbing them allowed me to think more clearly.

I did not want to ask what Luke had just said, but I wanted to know what the other male had said to me. Thus I reached out one of my hands and touched Luke's right arm, allowing Luke to finally look at me. He seemed to realize what was going on and looked away again, not daring to keep meeting my eyes.

"No, it wasn't that bad," Luke said, probably for the second time. "Not for you at least…"

The last words were whispered, almost as if there were not meant for me to hear them. I once again wondered what could have happened. Why would it have been bad for him but not for me? What could I have done yesterday, or whenever it was for I did not know what time it was, that it made Luke seem so miserable? I tried to recall what had happened but all I could remember was that I had went to a party for Skull's members only, where I had had some drinks and wanted to have someone for myself. Male or female, it hadn't mattered that much.

As I thought longer about that, I recalled a red dress and mask. So it had been a female then. But after that I did not know. Had Luke found me with that mysterious woman, was that why he was so sad? But he could have taken his own girl then, or had I taken his?

I let out a frustrated sigh when I did not seem to be able to remember everything. I let my eyes glance towards Luke's face again, who looked like he did not have had much sleep lately. As I looked around in the room for another time, I saw there was only one place to sleep properly and that was this couch. Had he been awake the whole time to watch over me then?

I wanted to touch his face, tell him everything would be all right, but I couldn't. As I closed my eyes once again, hoping that the annoying pain would go away, I wished it was all just a bad dream. That I was not sitting here with a bad hangover, just a few inches away from my best friend and soulmate. But I knew it was not, it could not be because it all felt way too real to be just an imaginary view. I winched when I made a slight movement, this indeed was 

surely not a dream. No one could feel so much pain just through a dream. Man, this sucked. Badly.

When I woke up again Luke had left. A small smile sprawled across my lips as I saw a small carton box with aspirins and a glass of water on the coffee table next to me. I already felt better than a while ago, a couple of hours must have passed since the last time I was awake. It was already dark outside again, the moon and stars hiding behind a thick layer of dark clouds. It probably wouldn't take long before a heavy rainfall would pour down on the dark world outside.

I grabbed the carton box with aspirins, took two out and swallowed them down with some water. Standing up slowly, I did not want to risk getting nauseous by getting up too quickly, I walked towards the only door in the room. A slight creak was heard when I pulled open the door, ready to do- yeah to do what actually. I had no idea where I would go next, but the room was starting to work on my nerves so I decided to walk around in the house a little. The place wasn't nearly as big as I first thought it would be, and thus I was left with just one place to go. Outside. The rain still hadn't started yet, but it would still be a stupid idea. This suit had cost quite a few dollars and I did not wish to ruin it just by getting some fresh air.

As I was about to close the front door again, ready to get inside and maybe grab something to eat from the kitchen, I saw a tall person under one of the big oak trees. A little smile appeared on my face when I noticed who it was. Only one person would be foolish enough to not wear a tuxedo on this island. Everyone did, well that is everyone other than Luke McNamara.

Taking a few slow steps forward, I kept looking at Luke. He seemed to be deep in thoughts as he stared towards the dark sky above us. Trying not to make a sound I walked forward, not wanting to break Luke's concentration. It still didn't seem like he had noticed me. I crept even closer towards him, now just a few feet away. As I had thought before, Luke was deep in thoughts. He was leaning against the big oak tree, just wearing some loose jeans and a t-shirt. He didn't even seem to realize how cold it had gotten outside, goose bumps were all over his bare arms.

Neither of us spoke for an immeasurable amount of time. I breathed out a soft sigh over my lips, deciding I really should get something to eat and turned to walk back towards the small castle. I hadn't wanted to disturb Luke from his thinking, but apparently my presence had not been unnoticed by the said male.

"Why are you here? " he asked, not taking his eyes off the sky above us. That was a good question he had asked. What did I do there? I honestly couldn't answer that. As I was about to answer to that question, or at least give some kind of a reply, I felt the first drops of rain fall down on me through the leaves of the big oak tree.

Softly a string of cursing followed after it. This was what I had been afraid of, having the expensive suit I had gotten from my father ruined. The reaction Luke gave on that surprised me, leaving me utterly confused behind.

"Is that all you care about Caleb, an expensive suit getting ruined? Grow up, or I should rather say, stay young. Enjoy your life while you can, even if that might mean a ruined suit." And with that he turned around, leaving me to dwell upon his strange words for a moment.

"Luke, wait!" I called after him, following the brunette male in front of me. The rain poured down even worse on me now that I had left the shelter of the oak tree. But I did not really cared much about that anymore.

My words did have had no effect on Luke whatsoever, for he continued to walk on, not once turning around or even showing he had heard me. I ran up to him, grabbing his right arm, forcing him to stop and look at me. The rain had by now completely soaked me to a point it chilled my bones and Luke didn't seem to be off any better. His brown hair was hanging down, sticking to his face and hanging in front of his eyes. His shirt seemed to become invisible, and I tried not to dwell upon that fact for too long. But his eyes was what made me forget my train of thought completely. They looked so fiercely that I did not even began to understand why he would be so angry with me. It could surely not just be the fact that I was starting to look so much like my father, the one person I couldn't stand in this world?

I opened my mouth, searching for words that would probably come out way differently than I wanted them to be, not anything like the thoughts I had or the emotions I felt. It was that moment that I must have seen something in Luke's eyes that I bent forward and let my lips meet his. I had no idea where it came from, I had not even considered it, but I really did not have any regrets on it. The rain continued to pour down upon us, tasting it on the lips of the one I truly cared about on this world. Unconsciously my hands moved to pull Luke closer to me, when I finally got a response out of Luke. A pair of strong hands wound around my shoulders and neck and forced me to close the small space between us.

This kiss lingered on for a few more moments, when the same hands that had just pulled me closer pushed me away.

"I'm sorry." The so familiar voice whispered sadly, and I heard him run away.

The place where his hands on my chest had been to push me away seemed to burn, not wanting to fade. I did not know how long I stood there, my eyes closed, my hands turned into fists. The rain never seemed to cease, it even seemed to grow in force, for I heard a thunder not far away from the small island.

A shiver ran down my spine, allowing me realize how cold I had become. I knew it was time to get inside, to feel warmth on my skin again and put on some dry clothes, but I couldn't. The place was full of camera's, just as everywhere one of us Skulls went, and I knew that by now my father would know. I did not wish to see him, for I knew he would not appreciate what I had done. And thus I turned around, and started running. Running but with no destination. I did not know where I would go to, but it was better than to face my father or anyone else. My muscles arched from the cold and the long time I had not moved. But I continued to run, run as fast as I could, allowing my feet to take me wherever they wanted.

The running seemed to clear my mind, allowing me to think clearly again. With a shock I realized that in the past twenty-four hours my life had turned upside down. I had made Luke miserable somehow by attending the masquerade ball. I had realized that I had more than just feelings of friendship towards the said male. I had gone in to everything my father would ever wanted me to become. I had kissed my soul mate and got rejected by the same person less than a couple of seconds later. And now I seemed to run away from everything I'd ever known.

I felt like I ran into the unknown, thrown into the deep where my father would not save me from. The disgrace I had put on my father must be huge and he would not be forgiving, even if it was towards his own son. Neither the Skulls would help me, after all I had done things they did not approve. And far worse, I could not even turn towards Luke to help me out, for he had rejected me and was now at an unknown place. The thought made me feel depressed. I had nowhere to go, not that I wanted to get back to the life I'd grown up in though.

My breathing became ragged and my sides started to sting. Even while I had a good condition from all the sporting and the boxing, I still had not recovered completely from the bad hangover. The only thing that seemed to make me go on was the peace in my mind. The running allowed me to blank my mind and not to think of anything. Whenever I stopped, the flood of the events I had gotten into came back into my head, causing me to pain myself. The memories hurt, not even the good memories I had would make it less troublesome.

I hadn't realized before due to the rain, but I felt warm tears mixing with the cold rain on my cheeks. I brushed them away angrily. I hadn't cried in a very long time, I didn't even seem to recall the last time I actually cried, so I wouldn't allow myself to do so now. But it was no use. As I tried to even my breathing to stop the wave of nausea, I felt tears leak from my tightly clutched eyes again. A complete wreck was what I was now, feeling as if I was beyond getting healed.

"Luke…" I whispered, so low that I wasn't sure it was even audible. I fell down on my knees, pulling my arms around my stomach as if to keep myself together. Why did this have to happen to me? Yesterday at this time everything seemed so great. Nothing could have predicted it would end like this. I allowed the tears to fall down freely now, knowing there would be no way to stop them at this point.

"I hate you Luke…" It should have come out in a scream, but I was sure it did not even come out louder than a whisper. The instant I said the words I regretted them. They weren't true, not even close. I could never hate Luke, even after what he had done to me now. I couldn't hate him. Never. No matter what the said male would ever do to me, I doubt it would even anger me. Sure, we had had our necessary fights, especially when we had gotten to know each other only a little while. But never recently, I couldn't even remember the last fight the two of us had had.

I didn't know how long I stayed out here in the rain, I hadn't even realized the sky had started to lighten up a little, allowing the day to finally come. The rain had become nothing more than a small drizzle, but still I had done nothing to get up. I must have become unconscious for a 

while, but I was awake now again, having the full force of my memories back at me. I wished I could close my eyes again and find that peaceful unconsciousness once more, but I couldn't seem to get back there.

"You fool."

It had only been two little words, but it meant so much to me. The words had not been said in an angry tone, more like having stated a fact. The voice which had spoken them was exactly the one I wanted to hear, the one I had been longing to hear for this long, long night. In an instant I opened my eyes, trying to face the person who said the words, but I found I couldn't. My body must have somehow been disabled or something for the lack of use and the cold, which finally seemed to be gone by the instant I heard Luke talk.

"Luke…" I whispered, not sure if he would hear me. The words must have not come further than my lips, not audible for Luke at all, for the said male fell down next to me in the mud and pulled me closer to his body. I hadn't realized how cold I was now that I was slightly pushed against Luke.

"My god Caleb, what've you done?" I must look terrible now, but I couldn't know for sure. For a moment it stayed silent and then Luke leaned closer, whispering useless things in my ear to comfort me. The words did not seem to reach my mind for I couldn't recall what the other male had told me at all. But it didn't matter to me. Luke was here with me, holding me close, worried about me. It was selfish, and I knew it, even in the state I was now, but it was all I could do to stay sane. Vaguely I wondered what my dad and the other Skulls would do, but I didn't linger on that thought for too long.

"I'm s-sorry…" I said with a soft stuttering voice, causing Luke to stop the soft useless chanting in my ear. My teeth clattered together as I tried to say more than that, but Luke stopped me.

"What's there to be sorry about? I was the one to leave you."

I took a deep breath and looked into Luke's brown orbs. "The ball… caused you m-misery… sorry…" It was the best I could do now in this state, it pained me to realize how bad my current state must be.

Luke's brow furrowed as I said the words and they had sunk in. "No, that wasn't your fault. It was mine. I should be the one to apologize to you." He stroked his left thumb on my cheek, causing me to close my eyes unconsciously.

"I… don't understand." I muttered quietly. How could it not be my fault, I thought to myself. An involuntary shudder went through my spine, causing Luke to draw me even closer to him, as if to try to show my body he would take good care of it. And I knew he would, even though what he had done to my caused me to be like this in the first place.

Luke took a moment to dwell upon the answer he would give me, before he started with his story.

"I guess it's all to be explained very easily. I was simply jealous when I saw you take off with that girl."

I was about to open my mouth and give a reply on that, but Luke continued already. My body hadn't seemed to work quickly enough, and Luke had not appeared to have noticed I wanted to comment on that little fact, so I let it the way it was and allowed Luke to go on with his story.

"I had watched you that evening already for a while, but I did not seem to be able to gather enough courage to go to you. And you hadn't seemed to notice my appearance either. But I don't blame you or anything, after all, everyone did wear a mask at that time." Luke stopped for a moment, remembering the evening again. "You grabbed another of those mixed drinks and looked around to find someone I think, I wasn't sure at that time. I started to get jealous at the girl in the red dress when you walked over towards her and started dancing. It was something I had wanted to do, but didn't dare to. You walked off to get two more drinks, and whispered something in her ear which made her giggle. She nodded and she walked away behind you."

Luke sighed once, and closed his eyes. "I wasn't sure what to do then. I didn't want you to be together with her, but that would have been so selfish. I would have left you two alone, if I wouldn't have been so incredibly jealous. So I took off after the two of you. I did not know where you went, but I already guessed. The place isn't that big at all and there was no way both of you would have gone far in the state you were. I prayed to the gods you two weren't already doing… things," a small blush crept on Luke's face as he said the words. "But thankfully you weren't. I remember walking towards the girl and saying something to her, but I do not recall what I said back then anymore."

Slowly Luke opened his eyes again and looked me in the eye, smiling a little sad smile. "You looked so badly at that time. It almost pained me to see you like that. I scooped you up in my arms, holding tight onto you. I knew there would not be a chance like this to keep you close to me in the near future so I knew I had to grasp it. You know, you aren't as slim as you think you are…" The brown-haired male said with a wink.

I curled my lips into a smile. I almost felt guilty for him. Almost.

"I laid you down in one of the studies," Luke continued. "Hoping you would lose your hangover soon. I sat in a chair next to your, watching you while you slept an uneasy sleep. At times you mumbled something, I even heard you saying my name." I frowned, I did not even remember talking in my sleep nor dreaming about Luke, but then again it wasn't so strange considering the state I had been in then.

"After a while you wake up. We talked a little, until we came across the topic of that evening. I didn't want to talk about it at that time, and I was truly grateful you didn't pushed the subject. You fell back asleep again, and I figured it was time to get some aspirins and water for you should you wake up again. I changed my clothes, I still don't know how people stand 

it to wear tuxedo's the whole day by the way, and then I went outside to try to clear my head a little."

I nodded in understanding. It must have been a difficult evening for Luke. Yearning for a little more warmth, I leaned a little closer to Luke, who gratefully embraced my apparently not so lithe form even tighter.

"You must have woken up at some time then, I hadn't heard you coming. I have no idea how long you stood there outside with me but I heard you leave." Luke lowered his eyes then suddenly. "I'm sorry for getting that angry at you. It's just… I just… There had just happened a little too much, making my nerves a little more tight than normally. And then, completely out of the blue you suddenly kissed me. I guess you caught me by surprise. I wasn't really sure what had happened at that moment and pushed you away. This wasn't what I imagined what would happen. I went off quickly, unsure what to do. After a long while I started to feel guilty. I hadn't even explained while I took off. I returned back to the same spot, but you were already gone. I knew somehow you wouldn't return to the castle, so I started to search for you outside. It wasn't easy, you probably have no idea how far you have ran off. I was so relieved when I finally found you here."

I smiled at Luke, feeling completely the same. I never had felt so relieved in my life before.

"I am sorry for what I have done Caleb. But I am not sorry for kissing you back, back then. I am not sure if you still want me or not, but it will be something I won't forget. I-"

Luke had not the time to finish what he had been saying, for I turned my head and found his lips. My soul mate did not seem to mind at all, and gratefully returned the kiss, hugging me even closer to his body. I still was completely drenched, very cold and probably getting completely sick soon, but I didn't mind at all. I was at the one place I wished to be right now.

I broke the kiss and smirked slightly. "I fucking love you Luke McNamara. I regret making you miserable, but I'll make up with you as soon as I'm finally a little warmer and dryer." I was glad my voice had returned to its normal proportions.

Luke laughed out loud and kissed my blonde hair lightly. "Well then mister Caleb Mandrake, what are you waiting for?" He stood up, and pulled me up too. My body started to sting from the time it hadn't moved, but it faded quickly. I would almost say it was worth it. Luke supported me on our way back, sometimes stopping me and kissing me with a force I didn't knew he had. Hell, I loved him so much. I even started to wonder if it was still healthy…

Authors note:
I have never written a one-shot of this size, but I am very pleased with it. I know this fanfiction will not be read often, but I just needed to get this idea out of my head. I hoped you all loved it nevertheless. Feel free to read and review some more of my stories and there will probably be added another fanfiction of this movie soon!