AU Ch. 03byFangsAnarchy©
What had he just done? Mark, stunned, stepped from the corner where he had been standing to take Maddox's call. It was almost as if he wasn't really a part of this world anymore. The grass looked plastic, and out of place. The trees that once seemed majestic, and mythical now looked dead. Mark was so shocked by his own reaction that he floated back to his dorm room. He wasn't thinking of anything. His heart was racing. Air, coming in painful gasps. Nothing was going to ground him until a shrill voice cut through the fog.
"Jesus, honey what the hell happened? Are you alright?" Mark felt Justin's tiny hands on him, steering him to sit somewhere soft. The entire events of the day started to sink in. He hade given his teacher a hand job. That teacher taught his least favorite class. The man that consumed his entire waking being had just been told to go away. Why had he been so weak as to not even give the guy a chance?
Mark jumped a little as he felt the warm, gentle, fingers wrangle the phone out of his death grip. The hard plastic had been replaced by an icy bottle of water. He didn't find the new, invading object any more comforting than the phone.
Mark drew in a ragged breath. Realizing he would have to come back to the land of the living sooner, or later. There honestly was no need to be this distraught. After all, Maddox was just some guy, he wasn't the love of Mark's life. There was no way the attachment he was feeling right now was real. It wasn't even like he had really hurt the guy, not like whatever had hurt him so bad the night before in Gold. He couldn't believe he was important enough to make Maddox cry. Maybe he could have been, but that was why it was best to end it here. Before anyone got too hurt. Yet here he was, torn to pieces.
He didn't want to picture Maddox drowning in liquor distraught over him. Mark knew it was stupid to think that he meant that much to anyone. Hell, he barely knew the guy. All he had done was, politely, tell him it wouldn't work out between them. Which they both knew deep down. They had to. Maddox was a teacher, after all.
Mark felt like even though his heart was racing with fear it was breaking. Had he really chased away something so vital to his health? He tried to swallow, his mouth feeling like he had cotton in it. His stomach tried to tighten to reject what little was in it.
"He called..." Mark said, barely louder than a terrified whisper. Justin's concerned face came into the focus of the hazy green eyes. He, oddly enough, felt as though they had switched places. Justin suddenly seemed so huge and Mark felt like one of his tiny little dolls, made of porcelain. He wanted Justin to fawn on him, and make the world seem reasonable again.
Justin nodded, his face littered with confusion before it was ambushed by realization. "The guy from the bar?" a smile tugged at Justin's glossed lips. "Well hell, honey, why do you look like someone just killed your family? You should be happy! His bicep was H-O-T. God, wish I could have seen the rest of him. Bet he looks yummy!"
Mark nodded blinking back tears that were once again threatening to fall. It would have been so much easier if Maddox hadn't called. Then Mark could simply hate the guy for being an asshole. Maddox had called. What was worse, he had begged Mark for a chance. No, begged was too strong of a word. He had simply asked and Mark had had to be the strong one and tell him it wasn't a good idea.
Mark looked up at Justin and sobbed. He drew in a small, strained breath feeling like his entire body was being shaken to the core. He rested his throbbing head against Justin's chest. He watched as tears made tiny wet tracks down his roommate's white shirt with the silver stars on it.
Justin arched an eyebrow "You're telling me he called you just to turn you down? What a dick cheese."
Mark shook his head no.
"What happened, then?" He tried more gently, replacing his initial glee with the more appropriate amount of concern. In an effort to sooth his roommate. Justin ran his fingers through the black tresses. He was surprised at how soft the hair was. He rubbed tiny circles across his scalp, inhaling the scent of his manly shampoo.
Justin honestly couldn't fathom why the guy from the bar would turn his roommate down. Know it or not, Mark was stunning. A few teeth marks on him, the result of the world chewing him up and spitting him out, but still handsome. He had the typical bad boy image nailed, well, when he wasn't sobbing over some stupid guy.
He may not have been Justin's cup of tea, but that didn't mean most gay men wouldn't look his direction two or three times. He had to have been the other guy's type if he had followed him into the bathroom, since clearly Mr. Huge Bicep had been the one to follow, not lead. Justin had to admire his bravery to be a leader to such a larger looking male.
Mark sniffled, making a face of disgust at the phlegm that was building up in his nasal passage. He couldn't tell Justin it hadn't gone well and leave it at that. Hell, he looked as if he was in legitimate shock. "We talked for a little and um, we both agreed his job isn't conducive to a relationship." Mark inhaled slowly, feeling his chest tighten.
He noticed the friendly fingers playing with his hair. Usually that was a turn on, but the way Justin was touching him just seemed so calming. His seemingly air-headed roommate seemed to know exactly the type of touch Mark needed before he could even think to ask for it.
He was starting to get a grip on reality again. Telling Justin that they had agreed the man's job was more important was as close as he was willing to get to the truth. Mark wanted to pull Justin into his lap like a frightened child clinging to a teddy bear for comfort. He decided that would be highly inappropriate though, and just allowed Justin to soothe him.
"Well if he chooses money over you, then fuck him." Justin squeezed Mark and felt his roommate settle into him even more. "Honey, he's just a guy. You are at a liberal arts college. Trust me, there are plenty of men who would be thrilled to take you home."
Mark laughed, an odd choking sound. As if any of them would compare to Maddox. He wondered if Maddox really would have given all that up.
The next few weeks went by in a blur. Mark lived by his planner and it was honestly the only thing saving his ass from failing. He would have forgotten all assignments if it hadn't been for that damn book.
Chemistry was clearly the hardest. Between watching Maddox and listening to Cassie babble on and on, Mark just couldn't focus. She had seemed so interesting the first day and now she just seemed annoying. He would go in, and watch Maddox, wishing he had the balls to stick it out with him and see where things would have lead. He smiled when Maddox smiled. He could see how happy teaching made him.
Then the time would come and Mark would bolt, run to the bathroom, and purge whatever was on his stomach. The guilt and hurt breaking him down day by day. He thought about dropping the class, but the thought of never seeing his man again terrified him even more. He lived for that early morning class. Chemistry, despite being an evil subject, was Christmas and his birthday all rolled into one. He was fidgety and anxious the night before, only to realize the short class flew buy and he hadn't learned a damn thing.
All he knew was that Maddox came in everyday with a big, carefree, smile on his face. His teacher would joke with the class about the course difficulty. Maddox would take the time to talk to every student in the room except for Mark. It killed him inside to see his man so happy and yet he couldn't bear the thought of Maddox being upset. Maddox's care free nature only reaffirmed that Mark had made the right choice.
Maddox listened to the silence, still in shock. Granted he hadn't known Mark long or really at all but he had been hoping to at least be given a chance. He bit his lip refusing to cry until all hope was lost. Maddox inhaled deeply sniffling back tears.
He went for his laptop wondering if what Mark had said was really true. He headed straight to the source, wanting to know if Mark had just been looking for an easy way out. He navigated to his teacher contract page and read the part about student teacher relationships. If the school found out the student would be expelled for academic misconduct and a breech of academic integrity. The teacher would be fired on the grounds of breeching a contract along with the aforementioned. Getting fired for such and offense would be the end of any teacher's career, let alone for one so new and un-established.
Maddox looked down at the post-it note cradled in his hands. The chicken scratch was a tell tale as to who the writer had been. Leave it to Todd to think of things like Maddox washing the number off of his body by accident.
Maddox decided he should give his best friend a call. He had been meaning to get together with him for some time. Hell, Todd hadn't even known he had a new place until Maddox had given him and address, or had he given directions. Maddox pinched the bridge of his nose. That was the last time he got too shit faced to remember how he got home. From now on he wasn't going to walk or take taxis to bars. He would drive, forcing him to be the designated driver.
Maddox flipped open his phone and allowed his fingers to do the familiar dance across the keys. He hit send and cradled the phone against his ear. "Todd?" He asked when the ring back stopped.
"Hey man what's up? Enjoying the bachelor pad?" There was an easy smile in Todd's voice and it soothed Maddox almost instantly. So, Todd was alright with the divorce.
"Yeah man. Hey, you busy tonight?" He asked, hoping Todd would be able to help him clear his thoughts a little. Maddox knew Todd really wasn't much of a good listener but he was a damn good friend and if he was needed would break his spine trying to be there.
"Nah. You wanna got to a strip club, my newly single friend?" He laughed.
Maddox paused for a moment in thought. Maybe they could go to the strip club. He had been wondering if Mark was the only man for him. Maddox was blissfully unaware that everyone already knew he was gay and they were just waiting for the day he realized it too. Maybe it would be easier to tell Todd about his gay encounter if he was surrounded by breasts.
"Madd? You there, man? Look, you seriously considering going?" Disbelief rang through the phone.
"Yeah, why not? You are always pestering me to go."
Todd's eyes nearly bugged out of his skull. "Hang on, buddy. I'll be right over with father Kennedy and holy water."
Maddox laughed. "What?"
"I gauge your mood by your willingness to come to the strip club. You're agreeing, so I need to be ready for that exorcism."
Maddox looked at his cell phone, hearing Todd disconnect. Leave it to him to have a totally whacked out way to judge Maddox's mood. He decided to shower and straighten up a little. He knew Todd would come with beer and be expecting to have some form of manly bonding.
Maddox was just sweeping the excess wax out of his ears when he heard a loud thumping on the door. A smile sprawled across his face as his blue eyes rolled. Todd always sounded like he was going to come through the door when he knocked. Maddox had to wonder how his friend would knock if there was ever a real emergency. "Jesus, Todd, break my door down why don't you."
Todd tossed Maddox a six pack of Budweiser. "Here, I brought the holy water."
Maddox's eyebrows dove towards his nose in confusion "The what?"
"The holy water. You know, my exorcism crack?" Todd threw his hands up in exasperation. "Honestly I don't know why I try with you anymore, ya big science geek. Good thing I have a good memory for numbers, too or I never would have made it." Todd looked at his friends confused expression. "Last night? I picked you up from Gold, remember? You got in with a hicky on you and some chicks number. I said something like 'Trissta would cut your balls off and feed 'em to ya.' and you told me you were getting a divorce. I was thrilled and realized there was a god and he does listen. Then I drove you home. Trissta flipped shit and told me very sweetly where I could take your drunk ass and what I could put into it when I got you here."
Maddox blushed. He remembered the latter statement, anyway. He could still hear his soon-to-be ex-wife sobbing "Well, fuck him! Todd, why don't you take his ass to that shit hole apartment, The Meadows, and fuck him! He could use a big dick up his ass since pussy doesn't seem to be his cup of tea!"
Todd looked at Maddox's horror stricken face "Yeah, as if I would ever screw your ass. Please. I am Todd Halter! if I bring home a man, he is gonna be a fucking underwear model."
'Typical Todd,' Maddox thought 'of course he thought he was good looking enough to get one of those.' Not that Todd was a bad looking guy. He just wasn't anything special. Todd probably looked just like that ass hole quarter back in every high school. A perfect, arrogant cookie cutter. He had well groomed blonde hair with natural sun soaked highlights. His skin had taken it upon itself to have a permanently imbedded tan and his cliché baby blue eyes made women swoon and forget all about him by the time some dark eyed hunk came along with more in his head than the score to last night's game and, more importantly, more than Todd in his wallet, which couldn't afford more than just a dumpy single bedroom and a pizza box date. Todd was the guy in high school everyone loved but forgot once the graduation hat left their head. Everyone except Maddox that is.
Todd flopped down on the couch and looked at Maddox expectantly "So, what's her name?"
Maddox sat down next to his best friend since sand box days and handed him a beer. "You may wanna open that."
Todd tilted his head and flipped the tab hearing the familiar hiss from the drink. He took a few sips, still waiting.
"Well he's, um, one of my students." Maddox mumbled looking at his feet waiting for the outburst he was sure had to be coming from his jock friend.
"Well, hot damn, man. That sucks, what's his name?" Todd asked, his voice high with surprise.
Maddox looked at him, a little surprised himself. "You're not mad?"
Todd laughed "Why would I be mad? Oh, shit man! I just realized you like penis! That must mean you have AIDS and want to fuck my brains out and wear make up and you know all that shit!" He laughed "I am just surprised it took you so long to try a guy. I had a feeling you might be bisexual since we were in middle school. Lets face it dude, you love football and have no idea what first down even is. I knew LONG before this little confession"
Maddox blushed "Oh, I just thought. I mean aren't jocks usually..."
Todd almost looked hurt "Madd, look, I don't stereo type you for being gay, don't stereo type me as a homophobe just because I'm a jock."
Maddox visibly relaxed "So, how the hell did I end up with Trissta?"
Todd snorted. "Beats me. I thought maybe you just weren't ready. Probably why no one likes her and well, why she fucked everything with a dick. I can't imagine sex with your gay husband is that erotic."
Blood ran to Maddox's face. He was not wanting to discuss gay or straight sex with his friend. "Yeah, I guess I was more upset over the failure than her. I mean I was disappointed she was cheating on me but..."
"Disappointed?" Todd interrupted "Dude, I would have been fucking pissed! Anyway, what is Mr. Wonderful's name?"
Maddox twisted like a giddy school girl "Mark, Mark Langley."
Todd nodded and clapped him on the back "Well, good for you man. Happy you finally figured it out. Now, hook up the play station. I need at least need the little boys to win since the big boys got stomped."
Maddox rolled his eyes. Todd was a hopeless Indianapolis Colts fan. Last night they had suffered a huge loss and he could just imagine Todd getting teased in all his Colts gear. At least he wasn't a fair weather fan.
Maddox opened the machine and put the latest edition of Madden in the consol. He handed Todd a controller and walked to the tiny kitchen. Maddox was surprised at how well that had gone. Todd's sarcastic sense of humor just seemed to make everything okay. "Same thing on the pie?" He called, picking up the land line.
"Well, what the hell else kinda pizza we gonna get?" Todd smirked. "Order some wings, too. I am starved."
After Maddox had ordered he sat next to Todd on the couch. It was given to him by his parents who had been all too happy to help him move out. They had nothing against Trissta, actually they loved her. They just had been against the marriage. Maddox wondered if he had a neon sign on his head and maybe everyone had known about his preference but him. He picked the Patriots as always, if only to piss Todd off. He now wondered if his fondness for Tom Brady had been because the guy was good looking. Maddox wrinkled his nose. Sure the guy was good looking but he wasn't Mark. Maddox felt a little sick to his stomach again as they ran through the first play. "He's a student, Todd." He finally sighed, pausing the game.
Todd looked confused "oh, right your boyfriend." Todd nodded in understanding and was going to reach for his controller again when he noticed his friends lip quivering. God he hated emotional things, but this was Maddox and if his friend needed him well. "So what sort of problems does your new boyfriend being a student cause."
Maddox sniffled "well, it means he won't be my boyfriend. Not now, not ever. He said, he said he would get expelled and I would get fired. I can understand why that would scare him. I mean I would be terrified but, well I would regret not knowing you know? And I think like momma, regret is the worst feeling to have."
"so why not switch schools?" Todd asked shrugging and taking another long drag on his beer.
Maddox looked at him a little open mouthed deciding Todd could get drunk and he would just drive him home. "Todd! that's a fucking brilliant idea."
Todd rolled his eyes "Dude, I am a carpenter not a moron. I am allowed a good idea now and again. I mean hell you're a fucking doctor you could teach anywhere. You graduated first in your class and all that shit."
Maddox was nodding enthusiastically "yeah, yeah! I'll just transfer. Then I can try again with him."
It was true Maddox loved teaching, but the entire week his happiness was entirely due to a second chance.
Maddox happily paraded around the room, showing students how to use significant figures and how to do conversions on units that were cubic. "...so, one cc, or cubic centimeter, is equal to one ml. Therefore, you need to convert to cubic centimeters first and then divide out each centimeter so multiply but the conversion factor three times and that is how you get your answer."
Mark rolled over in bed and glanced at his phone. "Shit!" He spat, leaping from his bed, his heart racing. Two weeks into his first year at college and he was already having a hard time getting up. Mark threw on his dirty jeans and a Smile Empty Soul shirt. His hair was a disheveled mess and he didn't bother to fix it. He threw his converse on, not bothering with socks and literally flew out the door with his note book. He was late for Chemistry, of all things. It meant he had ten less minutes to look at his teacher and drool. Mark rushed in the door and grunted an apology his teacher's direction before sitting in his usual seat next to Cassie.
"It's alright dear, we are just about to go over homework that Dr. Cotedivoux assigned." Mark gawked at the elderly woman at the front of the room. He nervously glanced around as she continued in a voice that seemed to captivate no ones attention.