Max forgot about the war quickly, and Jude, wanting to go along with it, and please Max, who was way too protective of Lucy, also forgot about the war quickly. Lucy had forgotten before either of them, when she decided nothing would come to fruition, that their hard work would never pay off. It was with this disenchanted attitude that the three of them re-entered college- not 18, but willing and able to pay.
College was in many regards, a place to start over clean.
"No causes," Lucy said.
"No causes," Max repeated.
"No causes," Jude said softly.
It was easy though, to not have a cause- there was nothing to have a cause about. No, the thing to do was to go to school and get a diploma and have a real-person job. And possibly, when all that was said and done, to apply for US citizenship. But all in due time, all in due time.
Max, Jude, and Lucy all got an apartment together- Lucy got her own room because she was the girl, while Max and Jude were forced to share. Jude didn't mind sharing with Max. He just wished the two of them had something else to talk about. Something that could maybe have it go back to the way it was. But there was no going back. Still, Jude had to find something.
"Read this," Jude instructed Max, throwing a book at him.
"The Fellowship of the Ring," Max read. "The first part of Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' adventure. A timeless classic of- Jude, this sounds terrible. And when I say terrible, I mean absolutely, positively, terrible. Where did you pick this up?"
Jude shrugged, the tips of his ears turning pink, but he stood strong. "Bookstore. My English class can't stop talking about it. There's even a club on campus that I thought maybe-"
"No causes!" Came Lucy's sharp voice from the other room.
Jude rolled his eyes, "Lu, it's not a cause."
"It sounds like one!"
"It's a book!"
"Books can be causes."
"It was written in the 40's!"
"So it has allegory for why war is bad. No causes."
Jude turned back to Max, who had flipped the book open. He winked up at Jude and smiled. Ah, their little secret. Jude didn't know why, but he was thrilled at the prospect of having a secret to share with just Max- something Lucy didn't have to know about. Besides, if Lucy got involved, she'd be too domineering and ruin the whole magical aspect of the books.
Jude felt in over his head with the Tolkien student group. They were in love with The Lord of the Rings, as well as many of Tolkien's other books. Jude and Max were still on The Return of the King, and were both rooting for Frodo and Sam. The other students though, most of them younger, wanted to discuss why Frodo should have failed and what Tolkien was trying to do with the generation he was writing for, and how miserably he had failed.
They stopped going after the third month. Besides, it was easier to discuss The Lord of the Rings at the house, when Lucy wasn't there, prying the loose floorboard up, and pulling the books out of their carefully selected hiding place. Some nights, Max practically dragged Jude home to discuss the book. He seemed almost obsessed with it. Jude wasn't nearly as obsessed, but he was exceptionally glad that Max was eager to spend time with him. It was selfish of him to think so, but based on their discussions, Jude thought maybe Max was only into The Lord of the Rings to be with Jude. It was a silly notion, and of course Max wasn't in it just for Jude. Max wasn't like that, and besides, Jude was still dating Lucy. Jude wanted to say he wasn't like that, but sometimes at night, when he couldn't sleep, he'd think of Max, and how nice it would be to kiss Max, or just hold him on the sofa. It always gave him an erection, and he'd have to stop thinking about it or else he'd have to quietly use his hand. And Max could always hear.
The books were done, and discussed, and discussed some more. The Hobbit had been devoured in under two weeks' time. After that, Jude announced that he was out-Tolkiened, and perhaps he should start attending the gym, or other club that maybe he could have Lucy there with him. Because he did miss Lucy, and he wished he could spend far more time with her. But he also wanted Max. The feelings however, were getting to be too much, and he had to stop. Or else he was going to do something drastic and act upon them.
To his surprise, Max vehemently disagreed.
"I just got us copies of the new book. The Sima-whatever," Max pouted, after Jude told him.
Jude just shook his head, and offered up that he was tired of Tolkien again.
"You love Tolkien, even more than I do."
"I can get tired of things, Max."
"Is it me?"
"Is what you?"
"Why you're tired of him. Do I ... am I reading it wrong? Having bad discussions? I'm trying to do this well enough for you!"
Jude looked taken aback at that. "Why are you ... trying for me?" he asked slowly.
Max turned bright red. "Look, forget I said that," he muttered. "It's nothing."
Jude felt a jolt of excitement run through him. Maybe his earlier hypothesis was correct. "Are you saying that you're-"
"No! I'm not a tosser! I'm not!"
"It's okay," Jude said quietly. "If you are, I mean. I mean ... it's not like ... bad or anything."
"You're dating Lucy though," Max whispered. "And you're the only one that I want."
Jude thought he might throw up at that. He was the only one Max wanted. Him. Not anyone else in the world. Jude thought he might seriously die of happiness. He leaned forward, grabbed Max's shoulders, and kissed him solidly on the lips.
"You're the only one I want too."