Hi guys! As always, I own neither Glee nor CP Coulter's Dalton. I do own Sam and the story.
I hope you enjoy and I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Justin had decided he was in love with Charlie approximately six months ago. Seconds later, he had decided that Charlie reciprocating was about as likely as Justin causing hell to freeze over. And as far as Charlie was concerned, Justin was fairly close to right. Charlie had never thought about Justin that way. But it was not hell freezing over that would change this – it was a phone call from Laura.
Justin reached across the bed where his phone sat, but it was too far away. Charlie glanced at the vibrating phone and tossed it to his friend, who smiled in thanks.
"Hello?" Justin asked, answering it too quickly to look at the caller ID.
"Hey, Justin." He recognized his sister's voice immediately, but was thrown off by the sound of worry echoed within it.
"Laura, is everything okay?" he asked, startling the boy across the bed who could not hear Laura's response.
"Are you –" she whispered the next part, either to avoid Charlie hearing if he was present or to avoid her parents hearing. Probably for both. "- still in love with Chaz?"
Justin's eyes flashed and he looked up at the boy in question who still wore an expression of concern. Meeting his eyes momentarily, Justin looked away toward the window – toward anything that was not Charlie.
"Yes," he answered discretely. "Why?"
"Like really in love? Like nothing could change it and you wouldn't want anything to come in the way of that?"
"Laura what are you talking about? What's coming in the way of –" He stopped himself short, and simultaneously hoped that the first half of the sentence would be enough for Laura to understand and not enough for Charlie to question.
"Sam. Sam is going to get in the way –"
Justin froze at the name. He looked like someone had just shot him in the back, and Charlie instinctively put his hand on Justin's shoulder to comfort him. But this only seemed to scare Justin more. He snapped his head around so he could see this action and then quickly got up to leave the room, leaving a confused Charlie with his arm still outstretched.
Justin wandered down the hall, voice hushed until he could find somewhere private to talk.
"I haven't talk to Sam in years," he quietly barked, trying to disregard Laura's threat.
"He came by the house today, trying to figure out where you were now." She sounded apologetic.
"And you told him?" Justin let himself yell a little as he found the common room empty and closed the door behind him.
"No, I didn't tell him." Laura did not raise her voice, and Justin suspected that she was trying to hide this conversation from their parents. "He stormed in and I tried to get him to leave but he was asking me questions and I wasn't answering and finally he just grabbed a piece of mail off the table and left.
"Justin, I think it was from your school."
Justin didn't drop his phone – though he wanted to. He didn't scream – though he wanted to do that too. Instead he just stared at a knot on the wood-sided wall.
Then, in a voice barely audible to himself, let alone to Laura, he asked, "Why?"
"He said he loved you, Justin," she croaked. "I shouldn't tell you, because he deserves to tell you himself –if it's true. But he said he wants to earn your forgiveness. He said he was sorry. He said he had to tell you how sorry he was."
Justin's breath was shaky. "Laura, I can't –"
"I know, Justin, I know," she sounded worried again and Justin knew she would be hugging him if she was here. "I wouldn't have told him. I didn't want him to find you."
"Do you believe him?" Justin posed the question that repeated in his mind over and over again.
"I don't know," she sighed heavily and continued. "I think he meant it – but Justin you can't trust him. After everything he's done…"
Justin was silent. Laura was voicing everything Justin was thinking, so he had nothing else to say.
"Justin, what about Chaz?" she probed.
"What about him?" Justin's voice rose so that he was almost yelling.
"You love him."
"Of course I love him. You know that."
At this point, he was loud enough that the boy outside of the common room door could clearly hear what he was saying. Hearing this was what kept Charlie from opening the door.
"What about Sam? Do you still love him?" she pushed further. Justin wondered how she could expect him to have clear answers to any of this when she had just sprung it on him.
"Laura, I don't know. I haven't seen Sam in years. The last time I saw him I told him to burn in hell…"
Justin was losing the bark in his voice, so Charlie tried to crack the door open so he could still hear. But the door was old and creaked as he did so. Justin turned toward it, and Charlie gave up on his stealth mission.
"Laura, I'll call you back later," Justin concluded, closing the phone without waiting for her goodbye.
Charlie closed the door behind him and approached his best friend. Neither said anything but stared at each other awkwardly.
"Are you okay?" Charlie finally offered.
Justin slumped down to sit on the arm of a couch. "No. But it's no big deal."
"It sounds like a big deal," Charlie stepped closer to the couch.
"It's nothing. Just stuff from the past catching up with me."
"Sam?" Charlie gave the word like it was a clear question.
Justin hummed nonchalantly, either not understanding the question Charlie didn't pose or not wanting to answer it. Charlie suspected the latter.
"Who is he?"
Justin sighed, "He's the one who betrayed me."
"The arson thing you got framed for?" Charlie sat down on the couch beside the arm his friend sat on.
Justin considered whether he should correct his friend about just how involved he was in the arson, but decided it was a waste of time. "Yea…Roughly."
"Why do I get the feeling that's not the only thing that's wrong?" Charlie squinted his eyes and gave his friend a funny gaze.
"I don't know," Justin looked at Charlie strangely. "Why do you?"
"I, uhm, heard what you said on the phone," he mumbled awkwardly. When Justin didn't say anything he clarified, "About loving him…?"
This took Justin aback. His mind raced, considering all of the conversation that Charlie could have heard. Absentmindedly, and to his later regret, he whispered involuntarily, "I don't remember saying anything about loving him…"
"You said 'of course I love him,'" Charlie quickly corrected.
"That wasn't abou-" Justin stopped himself just in time. That would have been terrible mistake, and in an effort to avoid it, Justin made a different mistake. "I don't still love Sam."
"But you did?" Charlie sounded accusatory, and Justin would have been glad if he realized it was out of jealousy.
"Stop being so astute, Chaz," Justin snapped. He felt guilty being so private with Charlie – being able to be completely honest was the best part of their friendship.
Charlie looked hurt.
"I'm sorry, J," he muttered, making a move to get off the couch.
But Justin grabbed his arm to make him stay and slid down from the arm to sit beside him on the couch. Charlie had been sitting near the arm already, so they were close. It made Justin nervous, but Charlie soon moved over a little bit to the improved comfort and regret of both boys.
"No, I'm sorry, Chaz," he frowned. "I don't want to lie to you; it's just awkward."
"Justin, I won't care if you're gay," Charlie blurted out as if he was nervous to say it, but the firm stare directed at him told Justin that Charlie did not regret asking it.
"I'm not…gay," Justin fumbled over an explanation he didn't really know himself. "I guess I'm bi. I don't know, that's not why it's hard to say this –"
Well, it wasn't the only reason, but Justin was still lying. But Charlie looked at him so sweetly – as if all he wanted to do was make Justin feel better. This was, in fact, what Charlie was thinking, and maybe knowing that would have made things easier for Justin. Slowly, Justin took a deep breath and decided to start over.
"Imagine the worst possible ex relationship you can think of," he began to explain. "But then triple it. And add the complexity of the arson and the gang and the betrayal.
"It's just not something I wanted to have to deal with. The last time I ran into Sam was sophomore year at New Years."
"When you came back beaten to shit? I thought you said you started that fight?"
"Well, I started the fight."
Justin walked into the murky bar with a false sense of pride. He thought showing his face here again would be proof that he had moved on and the failures and betrayals with his former affiliates would be like ancient scars buried in the wrinkles of an old man. But he was not there to show that he had forgiven the mistakes of his past. He was there to relive them because he was nowhere near forgiveness.
But Justin would deny all of this, and sat at the bar instead of the typical corner tables he used to drape. The bartender still recognized him – the world had not forgotten him either apparently – and a whiskey and coke suddenly sat in front of him, ice cubes still shaking against the glass.
Justin gripped the glass but did not move to drink it. He swirled it around and stared at the marks in the wood. He had never really sat at the bar years earlier – years he shouldn't have spent in a bar – so he didn't recognize the patterns that were cut and worn in the wood, but now he began to think that he would.
The seat next to him became occupied and Justin could feel the presence on his right. He wondered why someone would sit next to him when the bar was mostly empty, but assumed he wouldn't like the answer and continued staring at the ice cubes dancing in his drink.
"No shit," a brassy voice sighed beside him. "Never thought I'd see you in here again, Bancroft."
Justin wished it was anyone else sitting next to him, but there was no denying the voice. So he turned to face the boy beside him. The bartender set a brown bottle in front of him without interrupting the conversation.
"Sam," he said it as if it were a hello and a goodbye all at the same time.
Samson was not an attractive man. He had a rough face and his nose had had a crook before it was broken several times. The crook would be bigger after that night. His black hair was oily from grease, though it being intentional did not improve its appeal. But he was fit and naturally charming, and Justin couldn't help but find him striking now, even after everything.
"How's life at the fancy prep school?"
Justin didn't want to banter with the former object of his affections. He was not former enough for Justin to be comfortable, but he answered anyway, "Simpler."
Sam frowned. He wished desperately that things could be what they were years earlier. "I'm sor-"
"Don't say it," Justin grumbled, finally raising his drink to his lips.
"But I mean it," Sam insisted.
By the time Justin put his drink down, it was mostly gone. "I shouldn't have come here."
"But you did."
Justin reached into his pocket and left a few coins on the bar. He picked up his glass and poured back the rest before walking out.
He heard the door stay open too long as he walked away and knew that Sam had followed him out.
"Why did you come here, Bancroft?" He spun around at Sam's words.
"Not to see you," he rolled his eyes, "Which is clearly what you think."
"First love dies hard. It does for me, and it does for you," Sam tried to step closer.
Justin scoffed instead of responding.
"How did you stay away for so long?" Sam whispered.
"I haven't seen you knocking on my door," Justin walked away a few more steps, but kept turning to the boy who was following him.
"It was your turn to forgive me. Besides, you were in the States, and as much as I'd love to pay for a plane ticket –"
"Stop saying that word, Sam."
Justin's eyes were on fire. Sam's eyes got a clever look and he knew what buttons he wanted to push.
"You were my first love!" he breathed angrily.
"I'm serious –"
"I'm never going to stop loving you, Justin."
If Sam had let Justin finish, he might have heard a warning for what would come next. But he didn't listen, and so he didn't expect the right hook that reached his face and sent him tumbling to the ground.
In seconds, Samson was up and dove at Justin like a lion at prey. After all, fighting was fairly close to the affection of their past, and Sam was also diving desperately at reminiscing. Maybe if Justin just remembered what it was like he could forgive him.
But in between the punches and kicks there were no tears and there were no memories. Justin was fighting blindly and only thinking about how happy he was that his dad's class ring had a sharp edge to it.