Labels Are Overrated

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Michael and Luke end up at a cheap cafe that neither of them have heard of on the other side of town. They’d walked for over an hour, but neither of them had said a word. They didn’t know exactly what there was to be said.

They sit down at a table outside and avoid each other’s eyes until Michael finally says, “Stop it.”

“Stop what?” Luke says, staring fixedly at the menu.

“Looking away when I look at you. It’s annoying. Am I not pretty enough?”

“You’re fine,” Luke says mildly, red tinging his cheeks. “You make me nervous.”

“I’m sorry I lost my temper,” Michael says flatly. “I should have just let it go.”

“It’s okay,” Luke says, and if he was a girl Michael swears to god he would tuck a piece of hair behind his ear self-consciously.

“I just couldn’t stand that counter guy,” Michael says, leaning back. “He was a real dick.”

“I told you,” Luke says with a sigh.

“Bet you wish Ashton was there,” Michael remarks. “Probably would have kept his cool.”

“No,” Luke says, focusing on the menu and refusing to look up at Michael. “Ashton wouldn’t have got in his face like that. He would have been really nice. And then probably would have pretended it never happened. He doesn’t like confrontation.”

“What, and you do?” Michael scoffs.

“I don’t like when he pretends it doesn’t matter to me,” Luke says softly.

Before Michael can press him further, the waiter appears. “Hello, how are you fine gentleman doing this afternoon?”

“Fine,” Michael says. Luke trains his eyes on the ground.

“Good, good. Are you ready to order?”

Michael glances at Luke, who doesn’t look up until Michael slides his foot along the ground and kicks Luke’s. Luke nods and looks back down.

“So I’ll just have some fries and a coke,” Michael says, handing the menu to the waiter.

“Just a sprite,” Luke mumbles. The waiter leaves, to both of their relief.

“So, Luke,” Michael says. “How’s life?”

Luke blinks in the sunlight. “Okay?”

“Great,” Michael says absently. “Tell me something about you.”

“Why?”

“Why do I need a reason to ask?”

“Because we’re not friends,” Luke says uncertainly. “You said so?”

“You’re right,” Michael says, with a tinge of regret. “I did say so. But we’re in a band together. And bands don’t work if you don’t know each other. So. Tell me something. Anything.”

Luke shifts in his chair. “Uh. I’m seventeen.”

“Noted.”

“And--I have a dog?”

Michael had briefly been reconsidering his decision to not make friends with Luke; now he’s reconsidering reconsidering. “Okay,” Michael says. “That’s a start.”

Luke pokes at the side of his cheek with his tongue and then drops his hands down to the table suddenly. “Why are we here?”

Michael raises his eyebrows. “To eat lunch.”

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