The Silence Is Loud
It would be Week 33 for Mathilde, and Christmas was next week.
Lukas was still living with Francis, though he’d long ago accepted that. The man was not all that bad, and he had already gotten him a little something for the holidays. Sitting at his desk, with finals starting tomorrow, he had been busy getting caught up with grades.
Yet, his thoughts drifted back to his pregnant (ex?)girlfriend. He had been at a lost on what to get her for the holidays – all this time apart had gotten to him – and now he felt like it was Valentine’s Day during junior year once again.
He clenched his pencil and sighed, finishing up the last of his grades and slamming his laptop shut. He heard a knock at his door and saw the Italian music teacher leaning against the doorframe. “Hey, Lukas,” the dark haired female quirked an eyebrow as he rubbed his temples, removing his glasses. “Long day?”
“I just want it to be break,” he mumbled. “How are you, Chiara?”
Chiara shrugged her shoulders, tightening her coat. “I’m doing fine. My boyfriend’s an idiot.”
“The usual,” Lukas replied, grabbing his coat and shoving everything into his work bag. “What are you giving Toni for Christmas?” he asked, and the Italian rolled her eyes, watching him walk over to her and lock the door as they stepped out of the room.
“Nothing,” she snorted. “He deserves coal for being an ass ache. I hear you’re having a hard time finding something for Mathilde?” He froze and she swallowed hard. “I’m sorry… I tend to forget…”
“Francis?” Lukas breathed, and Chiara nodded, hazel eyes on the tall Norwegian. “Go figure. But yeah… I’m struggling…”
“I know a guy who can help.” Pulling out a piece of paper, she scribbled in neat, cursive the name of someone who sounded vaguely familiar and the address of a place. “He used to date Alice Kirkland. He’s a decent friend of Antonio’s and he does engraftments and such on jewelry in his shop. Tell him you’re there for a favor he owes for me and Toni, so get two things if you need to.”
The Norwegian nodded and he smiled, accepting the piece of paper. “Thanks, Chiara!”
“No problem,” she waved it off, rolling her eyes again. “I wasn’t going to use my favor and Toni doesn’t need to use his. You need it way more than he does.”
She walked off without another word and Lukas sighed, examining the piece of paper once more.
* * *
Birgitta closed her eyes for a brief moment before she realized she was standing up. “Hey, Gitta? Pass me the sugar, please.”
They were in Mathilde’s kitchen, the Dane currently working on cookies to bring to various staff parties she had, and Birgitta frowned. “How have you been?” The Swede knew that often times the Dutch man would stop by and stay with her stepsister, but Mathilde was mostly on her own these days.
“It’s getting harder to do certain things, but… I’m fairing well.” She laughed, pouring the sugar into a bowl and mixing it with the dough. “I mean… I still miss him… so much…”
“Are you okay with him being invited to Emil and Kiet’s Christmas party?”
“If I did, it doesn’t matter,” muttered Mathilde. “Lukas is Emil’s brother. I have no say in that.”
“But do you really want to see him?” Birgitta asked, stepping back from the counter and closing her eyes, rubbing her stomach. “I mean…”
Mathilde licked her lips. “I kind of want to, but I know we won’t speak to each other. I’m sure he’ll be happy to hear I’m healthy and so is the baby…”
“Are you naming it Thea?”
She shook her head. “You’ve been pressing for that name since you found out you were pregnant! Thea Danica Densen…”
“I want to name it Sofie…”
Birgitta froze, eyes snapping open, a look that was a mixture between shock and disapproval crossing her face. “You really miss him, don’t you?” Nodding, she looked down. “Sofie Danica Densen…” Forcing a smile, the Swedish woman finally said, “I like it.”
“Thank you,” she sniffled and began to place imperfect balls of cookie dough on the cooking sheet. “You know… we still have to find a name for your baby. What’s the gender?”
She looked down at her stomach, mumbling, “Boy. We’re naming him Erik.” Mathilde snorted, expecting nothing less of the world’s biggest daddy’s girl that was her stepsister. “I’m scared. I feel like… the baby’s health…”
“You’ll be fine… and so will Erik.”
Birgitta nodded, but still felt unsure. Right now, she just had to focus on staying completely healthy and making sure the baby was fine.
* * *
Two days later, Lukas found himself driving out to the gym where he knew the person he needed to talk to would be at. There were two cars there and it was almost half past nine at night, but his younger brother said he’d be there until a little before ten.
Opening the door, said younger brother was sitting in a chair, his Thai boyfriend by his side. “Point your toes, Allison!” Emil shouted, crossing his arms. “That turn was sloppy.” The music ended and Kiet, nudged his boyfriend. The Icelander huffed, forcing to smile at his brother.
“One moment, Lu,” he held up his finger and turned to the teen girl, discussing some things with her. Lukas watched them run it a couple more times before they called it a day and Allison left with her mom. Kiet was busy turning off the lights when Emil actually got around to talking to him.
“You need anything?” he asked, grabbing his heavy winter coat. Lukas peered around his taller brother, before nodding.
“Actually… I need to talk to Kiet.” The Thai looked over, tilting his head. Emil clicked his tongue, more vocal about the confusion than his boyfriend.
“Why? I mean… this is the first time…”
“I just need too.”
The Thai slipped on a pair of baggy sweat bands, running a hand through his spiky hair. “Alright, Lukas. I’m ready. We can go to that one coffee shop by my house.” Nodding, the Norwegian grabbed his keys from the table and Kiet kissed his boyfriend’s cheek. “I’ll be home soon, Emi.”
Placing a chaste kiss on Kiet’s lips, Emil replied. “Behave.”
“Don’t I always?” This earned a slap and the Thai laughed. “I will, I will. Love you.”
Emil rolled his eyes, before opening the door. “I love you too.” It shut and Kiet was beaming like it was a special moment. Lukas rolled his eyes, trying not to gag. The two left and met up at the coffee shop, and when they were seated with their drinks, the Thai spoke.
“I think I have a good idea why you decided to talk to me.”
“Please do say,” Lukas remarked, but Kiet didn’t even roll his eyes.
“You want to ask me questions about fathers, maybe get some advice about getting Mathilde back, but in the end you’re going to be stubborn and refuse to listen to me.”
…well, damn. Was he really that predictable?
“Are you coming to the party next Monday?”
“Yeah,” Lukas mumbled, taking a sip of the steaming beverage.
“Are you going to disrupt everything?” Kiet asked, narrowing his eyes and pushing his glasses up. “Because Emil’s been in such a good mood. I don’t want anything to disrupt it.”
“He seemed like he was back to his old self.”
“We heard back from the other three agencies,” Kiet began, setting his cup down. “One of the two international ones rejected us, but the other one accepted our application and matched us with children immediately. The last American one put us on a waiting list to be matched with a child.”
Lukas quirked an eyebrow. “Really? That’s great. Congratulations. Have you decided on…?”
“I wanted this pretty girl from Tunisia, but Emil really wanted this little boy,” Kiet sighed, staring off into space. “He was Thai – go figure – and he’s pretty small. He’s about… two months? I think he was a premature baby, and they know for a fact his mother drank and did drugs during her pregnancy…”
Lukas sighed, shaking his head. “No wonder,” he muttered, not even trying to hide what he was implying. Kiet sighed, and Lukas bit his lip. “…but aren’t you afraid?”
“Afraid of what?”
“That… you’ll be like… your dad?” he mumbled, and Kiet rolled his eyes, chuckling. “I mean, I don’t know if you even knew him like that…”
“You know,” Kiet snorted, “I was four when he walked out on my mom. My mom was dependent on him to fuel her addiction. He was the reason I was taken from her and placed into shit homes before they could actually locate family…”
“You’re not scared that you…?”
“Look, Lukas,” Kiet turned his head. “We all know the basic story: Marcus Bondevik was a star. Marcus knocked up your mom and couldn’t be there. She left him for Stefan. He put a bullet in his head. However, Marcus tried his hardest to provide for you like a father should. He didn’t have to. He could’ve just said ‘Fine,’ when your mom left him…”
“They weren’t really together…”
“But they wanted to,” the Thai said. “Like you want to be with Mathilde. And no, Jan has not seduced her. She put the brakes on that the night you walked out. If anything, you should be afraid of being like my father.”
He frowned, and Kiet continued. “My dad showed up a week before graduation, thinking he could reinsert himself into my life. I told him no. He couldn’t come to accept the fact I liked other men. He called Emil a slut to his face and I lost it.” He leaned back, crossing his arms, a slightly amused look on my face. “That was one of my assault charges. I practically put him in the hospital after that.”
He smiled. “I would never be like him. I can’t be like him… a father is suppose to love and accept their kids… he didn’t love me. He sure as shit didn’t accept me.”
Lukas had never heard any of that. Emil had been rather secretive when it came to Kiet and his past, and Kiet never openly mentioned it.
“So, Lukas, are you going to be like your father: there, but not there? Or are you going to be like mine: arrogant, selfish, and unsupportive?” Clicking his tongue, the Thai hummed. “Or are you going to be Lukas Thomassen, and be there for your girlfriend and her baby?”
He knew what the answer should be.
And for the first time in a long time, he actually knew what he wanted.
“If anyone asks,” Lukas growled, “I did not come to you for advice. You wanted to ask me what to get Emil for Christmas.”
“Actually, I do need to ask you something,” Kiet tapped his chin, ignoring the empty threat. “You see… I kind of need help picking out a present so I don’t look like an ass in front of everyone. You see… Emil doesn’t know this… but we did apply to adopt the Thai boy… his name is Kasem. Emil’s a bit nervous… but…”
A playful smile crossed the Thai’s face and his gold eyes lit up.
“We were accepted, except he doesn’t know yet. I printed out the paperwork and filled out what I needed to. Then I bought us plane tickets to Thailand. We leave the twenty-eighth. I figured it’d be a nice surprise and it’d be a sweet little Christmas present.”
Lukas couldn’t help the smile that was making its way on his face, “That’s really… smart. I’d just get him some CDs of his favorite band or something, and then tell him he gets his real present later.” He resisted the urge to crush his empty Styrofoam cup. “Can you do me a favor?”
“Can you hide Mathilde’s presents from me until Christmas Day? Then like, give them to her.”
He nodded, and smiled. “Yup, do you have them with you?”
“They’re in my car.”
“I’ll grab them before I leave.”
Lukas smiled, and although he would go back to hating him tomorrow, he had come to begrudgingly respect his brother’s boyfriend a tiny bit more.