"You're staring again, Lukas." Rose stood at her locker, looking over at Philip. "Just go talk to him. Hes new. He needs friends." She nudged him some. "Besides... you've been staring at him for like a week and a half. Hes gonna think you're a stalker."
"Shut it." Lukas hid behind his locker. Philip was only two lockers away from him so Lukas got to see him a few times a day. "I... what if hes not gay?"
"Then you make a new friend. Hes from the city, he'll be far more accepting than the assholes here." Rose knit her eyebrows together. "Hopefully. He has a rainbow patch on his bag, that has to stand for something-"
"You're helpless, Lukas." Rose shook her head, pulling her own locker open and looking at herself in the mirror. "Just talk to him."
"I'm not good at that." Lukas was never one to talk. He had friends he grew up with, but they just stayed friends by default. In Tivoli there weren't many options. That explained why his friends were still his friends despite him being outed.
Months ago, Lukas fooled around this boy Eric. They were a secret, but Eric didn't mind. They spent a few nights together and would go into the woods to kiss. It worked for them. Neither of them wanted to come out and Eric knew Lukas couldn't risk his reputation. Then, a rumor spread around about Lukas and his lab partner, Kristen, and that made Eric pissed. Eric felt the need to announce that Lukas was gay, but only when he was drunk.
For weeks Rose was the only one to talk to Lukas. Bo was pissed and screamed at him until finally he just ignored it. That was what everyone did. Pretended Lukas was never outed and that he didn't like boys. It was easier for Lukas, though, when they ignored his truth. He didn't have to talk about it then. Lukas never really wanted to. Until Philip came to Red Hook.
The boy sat in the back of his math class and hardly ever spoke. A camera hung around his neck and he went to the gas station down the road every day to get a snack. Not that Lukas watched him. He didn't. He admired him, though. Thankfully, Philip sat by the window which gave Lukas an excuse to stare at him and not seem creepy. Lukas wanted to talk to him, but he had never been good at that, so he didn't. Philip wouldn't want to date him, anyway.
"Try." Rose looked at Lukas. "He isn't intimidating."
"But I am... I..." Lukas shook his head. "I don't want him thinking I'm some freak." Boys at school told Lukas he couldn't change in the lockerroom anymore. They were afraid of him. "What if he thinks I'm being gross?"
"You're making a friend and being respectful. You aren't what those guys say you are." Rose cupped his cheek and smiled at him. "You're a sweet guy and Philip would be lucky to be your friend..." She looked past Lukas. "Or date you."
"Rose!" Lukas looked down at his watch before looking back up at Rose. "Theres only two minutes left until the bell rings. We need to get going."
"Yeah, I gotta go." Rose pulled her backpack higher up on her shoulder, looking between Lukas and Philip. She closed her own locker, hugging Lukas. "You'll thank me for this."
"Wha- ah!" Lukas screamed as Rose slammed the locker door on his hand. "What the hell!?" Rose didn't reply to him, she just kept walking. "Shit." Lukas leaned against the lockers, holding his hand. His hand was throbbing as he sunk down to the floor, his backpack slamming against the floor beside him. "I am going to kill her for tha-"
"Hey." Black converse stood in front of him. "Are you okay?"
Lukas looked up, a small gasp escaping his lips when he saw who it was. Philip. "Uh... yeah, yeah, I'm okay. My friend just slammed my hand in the locker to uh... prove a point."
"Friends can be assholes." He smiled down at Lukas, looking down the hall. "Do you think you need to go to the nurse? Make sure its not broken. Get some ice."
"Yeah, I should probably do that." Lukas was surprised he could even form words as he looked up at Philip. For a few moments he swore he couldn't even feel his hand hurting.
"I'll walk you." Philip leaned down and pulled Lukas' backpack off of his shoulder, gripping it in his hand. "You'll have to show me where it is but I'll walk you... beats going to class."
"Wow, what a good samaritan." Lukas teased, sinking down against the lockers. The boy stood between his legs now.
"What can I say," Philip tucked his hands in his pockets. "I'm a real selfless guy." He was smiling and it was beautiful.
"I can tell." Lukas stood up, going to close his locker, but Philip stopped him. He was pointing at one of the photos of Lukas with his bike.
"You ride a motorcycle?" The boy stared at the photo in awe.
"Yeah... I race and stuff." Lukas cleared his throat and tried not to focus on the lack of space between them. "Motocross, I do motocross."
"Motocross," Philip murmured. "Cool. I-I love motocross. My uncle does it. Its cool." He was rambling now. It was Lukas' favorite noise.
"I could show you some stuff sometime, if you want to." Lukas leaned against his locker door, looking down at Philip. It was nice to have a real excuse to look at him. "I get awards for it all the time."
Philip closed the locker. "Now you're just bragging." He walked down the hallway, stopping and looking back at Lukas. "Come on, you gotta show me the way."
"Right." Lukas smiled, following him down the hall. His knuckles were bleeding from the sharp metal of his locker, but he couldn't find room in himself to care. He was talking to Philip and it was amazing. "So... you like taking photos?"
Philip looked back at him. "What was your first guess? The big camera or the polaroids poking out of my locker."
"Both." Lukas found himself laughing. "I am very observant."
"Good." Philip turned away. "I've been told I'm very mysterious, so pay attention." His voice was laced with laugher that made Lukas' heart race.
"That won't be very hard," Lukas whispered. "I already pay a lot of attention"
"Hm?" Philip turned back to him.
Lukas flashed a smile. "Nothing." He said all too quick. "Nothing just..." He held his hand up. "Just mumbling about how much this hurts."
Lukas whipped around, facing Rose.
"Are you okay?" She asked, her smile wide.
"Yeah," Lukas breathed out and looked back at Philip. "I'm great."