Secrets of a Matchmaker
Chapter 26 ~ Répercussions (Repercussions)
Ten o'clock at night. It had been three hours since Cody called his parents; two and a half hours since he'd come back from his walk. He and Noah were hanging over the couch in Noah's suite, taking turns kicking each other's butt in Brawl.
But Cody's mind wasn't in it. He could only focus on the bitter aftertaste of chocolate lingering in the back of the throat – although all logical rationale told him that it was nothing more than his imagination. The taste itself had faded long ago, and yet . . .
Cody swallowed. Somehow, he was sure, if Noah looked hard enough, he would be able to see the cake through the walls of his stomach or the dark aftertaste that consumed him with guilt. He would know what Cody had done. And Cody wasn't sure if he could deal with that disappointment, not now.
God, he should have thought of that earlier.
"Cody?" Noah suddenly said.
Cody jumped nearly a foot in the air. "Y-yes?"
"Are you okay? You're acting a little jittery."
"Y-yes, I'm fine," he babbled. He had to calm down; he couldn't let Noah be suspicious. "I just really want to beat you."
"O-kay." Noah said slowly, uncertain. "Well, I wanted to tell you that I was rather impressed with the way you came out to your parents."
"Really?" Great; now Cody was going to feel guiltier.
"Yeah. You were extremely courageous throughout the entire conversation, and you did it all yourself."
"Oh, well . . ."
A faint blush had painted itself across Noah's cheeks. He wasn't used to handing out compliments. "Actually," he murmured. "I'm quite grateful my family figured out my sexual orientation without me having to tell them. It'd be hard to rival a coming-out conversation like yours."
"But I didn't even do that much," Cody protested. Please, stop it, he begged inwardly. I promise to never to succumb to stress again – just stop it!
"No, really. You handled the stress so well . . ."
Okay, was Noah purposefully doing this? Cody grit his teeth, pressing his clammy, sweaty palms together.
Suddenly, he froze. Sweaty . . . that rang a bell somewhere, but where, he wasn't quite sure. It was something important, however. He sensed he needed to remember; he needed to remember it now. But what on earth was it?
"Cody? Are you sure you're okay?" Noah was frowning at him.
"Y-yeah, I think so. Wait, no; I'm not sure." Cody was blabbering again. "My hands are all sweaty . . . doesn't that mean something? I don't know. I think it does. Does it?"
Noah was suddenly on his feet, and he grasped Cody's palms, turning them over. The sweat glinted in the light of the television screen – and Noah went pale, horrible comprehension alight in his eyes.
Cody, however, just stared at him blankly. "Huh?"
"Sweaty . . . jittery . . . disorientated . . . ," Noah muttered under his breath. "It's a hypoglycemic attack."
Cody was struggling to process this information through the heavy fog that was settled on his mind, but it was difficult. Hypoglycemic attack . . . no, certainly not. That would mean that the cake had . . . had it? Oh, God. But inwardly, Cody knew it was true. Now that Noah had mentioned it, Cody knew that was exactly what he'd been struggling to remember.
His body had already metabolized the sugars from the cake, but his insulin was still on the rampage. It was attacking his blood sugar – and had attacked it enough so that his body was in a panic. Adrenaline coursed through his system, compensating for the lack of blood sugar, and it was showing. He was jumpy, sweating excessively, disorientated, and feeling slightly intoxicated. And if it continued unchecked, the attack would only escalate.
"Cody!" Noah demanded sharply, somehow cutting through the fog of Cody's mind. "Where are your glucose tablets?"
"Glucose tablets . . . ?"
"Yes, glucose tablets. Where are they?"
"Oh, um . . ." Cody struggled to remember. "In my room . . . on the bathroom sink."
"Okay. Stay here and don't move. I'm going to run and grab your glucose tablets for you. Give me your room key."
Cody fumbled in his pocket. Noah watched him impatiently, shifting his weight from foot to foot in his anxiety. "Come on," he muttered under his breath.
"Ah . . . here you go." Finally, Cody held the key out to Noah.
Noah didn't even pause to say thanks as he bolted out of the room as fast as his legs would carry him.
Thank God his room is close, Noah thought desperately as he swung around a bend. One flight of stairs and a couple rooms over . . . it could be so much worse.
In fact, he was so intent on getting to Cody's as fast as humanly possible (preferably faster), that he didn't even notice the first flyer. But then, as if having just processed what he had seen, he suddenly ground to a halt.
A small piece of paper was taped to the wall. The image upon it was black and white and fuzzy, but there was no mistaking what it was depicting: Noah and Cody's rooftop kiss.
Noah ground his teeth as his stomach clenched in frustration. These people had no sense of morals, did they? How could they think it was right to expose them to everyone like a snippet of tabloid gossip? God, reality television or no, they were off the show, and there should be some sense of decency!
But Noah knew inwardly that asking Chris and his employees to exercise decency was silly and nothing more than idealistic thinking. Chris being empathetic? That would only happen when hell froze over – or worse. And at the moment, Noah had some bigger issues to deal with – namely, the hypoglycemic teenager in his room.
Taking a deep breath, Noah raced by the poster.
By the time Noah returned with the glucose tablets, Cody was feeling positively dizzy. He sat upon the couch, resting his head in his hands, and willed the world to stop spinning. Even when the door opened, he didn't glance up.
"Here," he heard Noah say. "Eat this."
A small tablet was pressed into his hands. Cody didn't open his eyes, but he obediently put it into his mouth and swallowed. It was ironic, actually, that the one time he was really allowed to have pure sugar, he was too dizzy to actually taste it. He grimaced to himself at the thought.
"Lie down. If you're not feeling better in five minutes, I'll give you another."
"Okay," Cody mumbled.
"And I want you to stay here tonight so that I can keep an eye on you. You can sleep in my bed, but if you'd like, I'll take the couch."
"Okay," he said again. He still wasn't quite in the mood to argue.
"Do you want me to sleep on the couch?"
"What?" Cody answered vaguely. "Oh, well, no." He knew from experience that the couch was by no means a comfortable place to sleep, and he didn't want to enforce that upon Noah – especially when it was he who was the guest in the room. Even in his dazed state, he had more manners than that.
"Okay, then," Noah consented. "I have just one more question for you. Or would you like to rest now?"
"No, I can handle a question."
"Well, then: was this attack completely unprovoked?"
Cody felt himself wither under Noah's stern gaze. He didn't bother to deny it; he knew that somehow Noah had sensed the truth, and that lying would be of no use. Weakly, he shook his head. "I – I ate some cake."
Noah sighed heavily. "Why, Cody?"
"Because . . . I was trying to calm down. I was too nervous."
Noah did not reply for a long time.
Cody's father had not expected to see Cody's cell phone number on the caller ID for the second time that day. Indeed, at first, he thought it must be a mistake; the caller ID must be acting up again. But no – it had been fine earlier.
Feeling somewhat worried, he picked up.
"Hello?" It was a voice Cody's father didn't know.
"Yes. Who is this?"
"Am I talking to Cody's father?" came the odd voice.
"You are," he replied. "And who are you?"
"Noah – Cody's boyfriend."
His breath caught in his throat. Boyfriend. He knew he was supposed to be making an effort for Cody's sake, but honestly, it was just so hard to accept. He'd never imagined that Cody had been anything other than straight – God knew how many girls the boy flirted with – and this revelation had thrown him for a loop. He didn't know what to make of it.
But much worse, by far, was the fact that Cody had promised to give him time before making him talk to Noah. Cody always kept to his promises – but three hours could hardly be considered much time in the given situation. For Noah to be speaking with him now, something must have come up – something serious.
"Noah?" he echoed. "Well, nice to meet you. Is there any particular reason you're calling?" But even as he asked it, dread was growing in his stomach. He already knew the answer.
"I wish I could say otherwise," Noah replied. "Unfortunately, however, I'm calling to tell you that Cody has had a hypoglycemic attack."
Noah hastened to add: "He's fine now, of course. I gave him some glucose tablets, and now he is asleep. I just thought you might want to know what had happened."
"Oh, of course. Thank you." Cody's father let out a shaky breath.
"You're welcome. I'm also keeping him in my room to keep an eye on him, and tomorrow morning, I'll have him call you."
Forget tomorrow; Cody's father wanted to talk to his son now. But he forced himself to calm down. Right now, the best thing for Cody was rest, and a little anticipation never hurt anyone. "Okay, then. Are you sure he's alright now?"
"Positive. He'd completely snapped out of his disorientation before I put him to bed."
"That's good." He had to struggle to restrain from demanding exactly how Cody had acted. He was concerned, yes, but Noah seemed to know what he was talking about, and he had mentioned giving Cody the glucose tablets – that was the important thing.
"Is there anything I've forgotten?" Noah was asking.
"Hm? Oh, no, that's it," Cody's father replied. "Just make sure he eats properly tomorrow: five or six meals, one every couple of hours."
"Of course. I apologize for bothering you so late – and with less-than-desirable news, nonetheless."
"It's fine," he assured him. "We appreciate it, actually. But, if you don't mind: do you know what caused the attack in the first place?"
"Yes, I do. Apparently, Cody had been rather stressed-out about the coming-out process, and he decided to calm himself down by indulging in some cake."
Cody's father felt as if he had been kicked in the gut. Essentially, he'd just been told that Cody had risked his life because he'd been too scared to come out to him. What that said about him as a father, he wasn't sure he wanted to know. He opened his mouth to say something, but no words would come out.
"Good night, sir," Noah said suddenly. Then the phone clicked, and the line went dead.
When Cody first awoke the next morning, he could not remember for the life of him where he was. The room wasn't his, that was for sure; for one, he wasn't huddling under a minimal length of whatever blanket hadn't been kicked off the bed. For another, although the entire blanket was on the bed, it seemed to be under severe stress, as if it were anchored on one end and Cody was pulling it in the other direction. And the floor was much too neat. He could not find any sign of discarded clothing, books, or anything else lying anywhere it shouldn't be.
Cody frowned and rolled over. Then his heart suddenly stopped.
Noah was sitting on the other pillow, his nose buried in yet another book. But when Cody rolled over, he glanced up and smirked. "Good morning, Power Ranger. I was wondering when you were going to get up."
"Wha . . . ?" Cody murmured groggily, his cheeks suddenly aflame. "What's going on?"
"You're in my room, remember? You had a hypoglycemic attack last night, and I wanted to keep an eye on you. And you know – I did offer to sleep on the couch." He stared pointedly at Cody's blush.
Of course, that only made Cody blush all the harder. "N-no, it's okay. I'm just surprised, that's all."
"Understandable. Well, are you feeling better this morning?"
"Good," Noah replied curtly. "Now, I took the liberty of ordering up some room service for the two of us. It should be up shortly, and after we eat, I'll call my family."
Cody's eyes lit up immediately. "Really? You're calling them so soon?"
"Yes. After all, my family will be too sleepy as of now to make much of a deal of the matter, and I'm less likely to hang up with a headache."
"Anti-social as always, I suppose," Cody teased.
"Introverted," Noah corrected. "Not anti-social."
"No comment," he retorted, shooting him a glare that wasn't really felt.
Cody knew it; he grinned brightly – and when Noah's lip twitched, he had to bite his own lip to keep from laughing. "Thanks, Noah."
"What are you talking about?"
"I mean, taking care of me last night. You were really good about all of it, and it was all because of my stupidity anyway."
For a moment, Noah was silent. Then, haltingly, he replied: "Cody . . . I would be lying if I were to tell you that eating that cake wasn't one of the most brain-dead things I've ever heard of, but . . . it's understandable. I don't blame you for being stressed out. And nor do I blame you for having an underdeveloped reasoning capacity."
"What? It's part of any teenager's physiology. Even mine."
Cody attempted to retain his scowl, but he couldn't help a smirk from flitting across his features at that comment. "You just sounded like a total narcissist right then."
"Narcissist?" Noah echoed. "Oh, come on. How could I be a narcissist when – . . ." Suddenly, he paused. "I'll refrain from that sappy comment."
But Cody was intrigued. "No, I want to hear it."
"No, you don't."
"Yes, I do."
"Believe me," Noah insisted. "You don't."
"I think I'll be the judge of that, thanks."
Just then, however, their banter was interrupted by a sharp knock. Cody felt the blood rush to his cheeks once more, realizing what position he was in; even on opposite sides of the bed, there was no denying the conclusion anyone would jump to. He hastened to disentangle himself from the bedsheets.
Noah, on the other hand, watched him with amusement. "You know, they already know you're staying here. Jumping out of bed so hastily is only going to encourage them."
"Not if they don't see me in bed in the first place," Cody retorted. "Just go get the door already."
"As you wish."
By the time Noah had opened the door, Cody had already arranged himself on the couch, a paperback copy of Catch-22 open on his lap.
"Here is your order, sir," he heard the employee address Noah. "One tea, one coffee, an order of eggs, cereal, and fruit."
"Thank you," Noah replied. A moment passed in silence. Then: "Is there any reason that the inside of my suite is so apparently interesting to you?"
The employee flushed, clearly not having realized he'd been so obvious. "N-no, sir. My apologies," he said. At the same time, however, his gaze was focused past Noah; he'd heard that Noah had his boyfriend in here, and he wanted to confirm the rumors with his own eyes.
Noah's frown darkened. "Well, then," he answered coolly. "Good day." Taking the tray, he slammed the door in the employee's face.
Cody glanced up from his place on the couch. "Now who's encouraging them?" he teased.
Cody just grinned.
First of all, I lost half this chapter 'cause I stupidly forgot to save after two hours of work. D= So I would have had this up yesterday, had it not been for my lack of common sense. My apologies!
Secondly, this is probably the last chapter I'll put up for the next month. NaNoWriMo starts this Sunday, and although I might be able to post a new chapter by then, I'm not making any promises. So, in case I can't: Ciao for now!