Bring Her Back or Take Me with Her

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The month passes into July, and Michael finds himself in a time crunch to get something for both Luke and Ashton for their birthdays. He wouldn’t have even known if Calum hadn’t popped his head into Michael’s room and asked if he wanted to come with him to find something.

So that’s how Michael ends up strolling through the mall with Calum, trailing slightly behind. They’ve stopped in several stores, but nothing’s seemed like a good fit for either Luke or Ashton. Michael’s at somewhat of a loss as to what to get them. Especially Luke. Ashton, at least no matter what, will appreciate the thought. Luke’s a little bit more of a risky prospect.

“And so that’s how Luke got lost in the mall,” Calum finishes. He waits for a reaction, then snaps his fingers in front of Michael’s face. “Yo, dude, are you even listening?”

“What?” Michael says, caught. “Uh, yeah, you were saying something about...Luke? And...the wall?”

“Did you seriously just--” Calum stops and turns to face Michael impatiently. “Where’s your head at? I was telling you the story of how Luke got lost in the mall this one time. Do you want to hear it?”

“Not really,” Michael admits.

Calum sighs. “Alright, well, get with it, because we have to get them something. Probably doesn’t matter what.”

Calum’s eyes flick toward the Vans store further down the path they’re headed on. “Safe bet for Luke, if you need. Vans. He wears those black ones way too much, they’re getting a hole.”

“What are you getting both of them?”

“I don’t know. I think I’m going to bedazzle Ashton a pair of drumsticks for a laugh. I’ll probably get Luke new Vans myself.”

“Then I can’t get him Vans. And I don’t know what to get for Ashton.”

Calum shrugs and begins moving again. “Don’t know what to tell you, mate.”

“Gee, thanks,” Michael mutters, and his mind wanders off again while his feet follow in Calum’s footsteps.

He doesn’t know what they might want. He really, really wants to get them something good, both of them, for different reasons. Ashton for obvious reasons, Luke for less obvious reasons. Michael’s not even sure why he’s in this position. He and Luke weren’t really supposed to be friends. Michael hasn’t decided what they are. He doesn’t want to even think about it. Doesn’t want to think about the little things, like how he sometimes feels like he’s going to die if Luke doesn’t come out of his room for a while, or how he finds himself rolling closer when Luke crawls into his bed at night. Luke’s the one who plays video games at midnight when the other boys are heading to bed, Luke’s the one who goes on grocery shopping trips without complaint, Luke’s the one who wrapped his cold hands around Michael’s when he was freaking out. And Michael hasn’t done anything to reciprocate.

So Michael has to get him something that shows that he really does care, even if it looks like he doesn’t sometimes.

Calum pulls him into the Vans store and buys a pair of new all-black Vans. Michael’s definitely noticed how tattered Luke’s are, all faded and worn out from him wearing them all the time. Michael just wishes he could think of something to get Luke. And Ashton, too. Michael’s totally in the dark.

In the end, Michael ends up getting Ashton a t-shirt. Calum decides to get rhinestones and stick-on gems so he can steal Ashton’s spare drumsticks and actually follow through on his plan to bedazzle drumsticks for him. Calum thinks Ashton will appreciate the sentiment. Michael doesn’t know what to think.

Michael’s about to give up all hope when they get to the other side of the mall and Calum says jokingly, “Hey, don’t worry. Maybe Luke wants a teddy bear.”

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