Tea for Explanations
Eventually, I managed to drag Matt out of that stock room so we could go talk to Vincent. As we headed for the bar, two guys walked by us, commenting about ‘all the pretty twinks around the place tonight’. One of them even shot me a teasing wink as he passed by me and Matt growled a ‘watch it’ to the man – who smirked in provocation.
“Let it go, Matt, he’s just joking around.” I pulled him by the arm and away from the teasing man. Then I spotted Vincent sitting at the bar. He was getting a lot of hungry looks his way, but he seemed not to care, as if he was used to this sort of attention. And even though Vincent was attracting a lot of attention, no one seemed to adventure close to him. His threatening stance managed to keep everyone at bay. I pushed through the crowd, dragging Matt with me by the hand.
“Vince!” I called out to him.
He turned to me and his clouded expression softened immediately.
“You’re going to enjoy this, but I guess you have the right to gloat,” I said, approaching him. “What I’m trying to say here is that you’ve won.”
Vincent frowned, then his eyes flickered to my hand holding Matt’s and a flash of realization dawned on his face, quickly replaced by a huge victorious grin.
“My plan? It worked?” he asked, standing from his seat.
“Yep.” I nodded with a giddy smile.
“Yes. Seriously, Vince.”
He threw both arms up in the air and cheered. “YES! I’ve won!” Then he turned to me and ordered. “Now: Say it.”
I rolled my eyes, but I was too happy to care. I better just give him the satisfaction. “Yeah, yeah, you’ve won. Your plan worked. You were right. You are always right.” I chorused monotonously, trying hard to fight off a smile.
“Oh, God, that was amazing to hear!” he moaned in pleasure. “Say it again!”
“You were right.”
“Oh, my... it feels even better the second time around. Come here!” He grabbed me and hugged me, lifting me off the floor. “I told you I knew what I was doing!”
I wheezed out. “Vince! I… can’t… Breathe!”
“Hey!” Matt intervened, pushing us apart. “Let him go.”
Vincent let go of me and looked at Matt, confused. “He doesn’t know about the plan.” He realized, amused. “I thought you’d tell him. You don’t like keeping secrets from him.”
“Well, I tried, but… I thought you’d explain better than I would,” I said.
“Sure, no problem. I can explain everything,” he said, grinning. “But, can we please talk somewhere else? This place is driving me insane!” He shouted over the loud music. “I can’t even hear my own thoughts in here.”
Apparently this was something Matt seemed to relate, because he was quick to agree. “Oh, God, yes, please.” He grunted next to me.
“How can you not like it in here? It’s so amazing and awesome!” I pouted at the both of them. This was the best night club in the whole town!
“It’s too loud. And there’s too many people bumping against you all the bloody time.” Vincent complained, irritated. “Plus, I’m starting to realize a lot of those bumps weren’t exactly accidental, if you know what I mean,” he said, giving people around us a dark glare.
“Same here.” Matt grumbled in agreement. “If someone cups my butt one more time, I swear to God-”
“People have been cupping your butt?” I asked in surprise.
“All the fucking time!” Matt complained. “Now I know how girls feel at clubs, we are fucking disgusting. Can we please just get the hell out of here?”
“What about Jesse? We can’t ditch her like that.” I pointed out.
“She already ditched you.” Vince countered. “The girl she was talking to was here escorting a pop singer of sorts. Jessica left with them fifteen minutes ago,” Vincent said. “I was told you’d understand. Apparently you two have some rule that say’s ditching is allowed if it’s for a chance to meet a celebrity? She said that you have to forgive her for leaving your birthday celebration, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“She left? Seriously?” I asked, baffled.
He nodded. “She tried to look for you, so she could bring you along, but she couldn’t find you anywhere.”
“Do you know who the singer was?”
“Not sure. I don’t know much about pop singers, to be honest.” Vincent replied, seeming like he couldn’t care less about it. “But she made me take a picture of them to show you, hold on…”
He took his phone out and showed me the picture.
I gawked at the screen, dying with envy. “Fucking hell. She’s right, she really had to go. Look who it is, Matt. I would ditch me too,” I said, showing the picture to Matt, who whistled, impressed.
“Well, okay then. Let’s get out of here.” Vincent ordered, motioning to the exit.
A few minutes later, we were parking at a nice and peaceful coffee shop a few blocks away from the club. Vincent called the waitress and ordered a cup of tea for himself, while I snuggled close to Matt in the seat in front of Vincent.
“Tea? Really? That’ so...” I was going to say ‘lame’, but thought better of it and said ‘bland’ instead.
It was not good for your health to call a Worthington ‘lame’ right at his face.
He shrugged, unfazed. “It’s the best drink to have before you go to bed. It’s soothing, helps you sleep and doesn’t upset your stomach.”
Matt seemed to ponder on that for a moment before asking for some tea too. We both knew what coffee did to him.
“And I want a cappucci-”
“No, you don’t.” Vincent interrupted my order. “You can’t even sit still, you’re as excited as it is. I don’t think caffeine would be the best thing for you right now. You’ll be having tea as well.”
I gawked at his bossy face while the waitress left to get our teas.
“He’ll be all moody now that you denied him coffee.” Matt pointed out.
“I know. I don’t care.” Vincent said calmly, making me gawk even more.
The cheeky jerk!
“You’re so mean!” I protested, giving him the biggest pout I could muster up.
Vincent reclined on his seat, closed his eyes and inhaled deeply before exhaling; all the tension of his muscles melting away.
“Hear that?” he asked with his eyes closed. “Blessed silence. Not even Taylor’s loud pouting can disturb me now in this silence.”
“Oh. Ha. Ha.” I jeered with a grudge.
“So, how about we cut the crap and you explain this ‘plan’ you keep talking about?” Matt interrupted impatiently.
Vincent opened his eyes and stared at Matt, while I fidgeted on my seat.
“Mathew, I understand your intense dislike for me at this moment,” Vincent began in a cautious tone, trying to choose his words carefully. “I was rather brutal to you that day at the library. I apologize for that, but in all honesty, you have to keep in mind that it was just an act, meant to make you angry. It was all part of my plan.”
“Your plan.” Matt repeated, a suspicious tone lacing his voice.
“Yes. I had the idea for this plan the day I met Taylor in the library. He kept bothering me with paper balls and being an annoying twat-”
“Hey!” I complained but he paid me no attention.
“The paper ball pile up, right?” Matt asked, knowingly.
“Yeah, he got me detention once with that stunt,” Matt said. “He only tries this when he doesn’t want retaliation. It’s too funny, you just can’t get mad at him for that.”
“I guess, once you pass the urge to strangle him, it kind of gets funny, in a way.” Vincent mused with a smile. “It’s not as annoying as trying to tutor him, that’s for sure. Getting him to pay attention is like an impossible feat. He has the attention span of a hamster.”
“Hey!” I protested again. “I just happen to lose interest easily! And your tutoring is boring as hell, if you must know. You should call it snore fest, not tutoring.”
“Please, I have impeccable teaching skills.” Vince said with a scoff.
“So you were really tutoring him all those days after school?” Matt asked in surprise. “You kept insinuating you were doing something else.”
He turned to look at me. I shifted on my seat guiltily.
“Well, I tried to tutor him. Like I said, impossible task.” Vince replied. “But I was the one who came up with the idea to insinuate things to you. We were trying to get you jealous. It was part of my plan. I knew you liked him, but neither of you would admit it, so I made a bet with Taylor, that day at the library, that I was going to make you confess how you really felt. He kept stubbornly insisting that you two were ‘just friends’ and that I was wrong. Me! Wrong! The nerve of the boy, telling at my face I was wrong!”
“So… it was all a lie?” Matt mumbled, his tone slightly angry.
“Matt, I- I wasn’t lying, I swear. I meant everything I said to you.”
“Mathew,” Vincent tried to calm him down. “The feelings he has for you are very real. The lies were my plan, to make you realize how you felt about him, that’s all.”
“I told Vincent to stop this plan. That I wasn’t doing this anymore, but he didn’t listen to me.” I begged for him to believe me. “Please, don’t be mad.”
He turned his face away to stare outside the window. He looked angry. The silence surrounding us was suffocating. Now that I finally had him, I could lose him all over again, I realized.
“Mathew, you two were hiding from each other. I wanted to make you stop hiding and face this.” Vincent’s voice cut the silence, his tone slow and cautious. He didn’t want to upset Matt, he was trying to make him understand. “You were too comfortable in this safe friendship, I needed to push you out of it. The harder you refused, the harder I pushed.” Vince tried again.
Matt turned to face us, his blue eyes cold and unforgiving. I tensed all over. He was not happy that we had been playing him. He bumped his hand hard on the counter table, making the sugar holders jump in the air. Then he leaned across the table, his face stopping a few inches from Vincent’s.
“If you ever ‘push’ things my way again, Worthington, I won’t be this understanding.” he growled menacingly.
In other words: Don’t you fuck with me again, rich boy. There’ll be hell to pay.
Vincent stilled himself for a moment before giving a nod. Matt gave a short nod in return and sat back down, while I trembled nervously beside him.
And just like that, the two of them had settled their differences. Vince had explained. Matt wasn’t happy about it but he understood, after not so subtly warning us to never, ever, try this again. And that was that.
“Good. Now that all has been explained, you can stop freaking out, Taylor.” Matt ordered with the calmest voice ever.
The waitress appeared with a tray and handed our tea, leaving quickly to serve another client. I twirled a spoon in my cup, trying to calm my rattled nerves and stop my hands from shaking, but failing miserably at both tasks, while Matt sipped at his cup quietly, watching the view outside the window again.
“God, this is awful.” Vincent blurted out, making a face. I tensed all over again, expecting a fight to break at any moment, but he quickly added. “This tea tastes like dirty soggy socks!”
I breathed in relief. “You were the one adamant on ordering us this, man. Don’t bitch about it now.” I snapped, still feeling miffed about him denying me coffee.
“This is not tea! I don’t know what this is, but it isn’t tea,” he grunted. “You want to taste some real tea, I’ll ask Alfred to make you one someday. You’ll see the difference.”
“Alfred?” Matt asked, trying to follow the conversation.
“Alfred is his butler.” I explained.
“He’s not! I told you he’s not my butler.” Vincent scoffed.
“Fine. He’s not. He does everything a butler does and some really awesome tea, apparently, but he’s not the butler.” I mocked. “Hey, I’ll bet the secret ingredient he puts in his tea is luuuve!” I teased.
“His tea is the best...” Vince hummed with a warm smile. “Well, I’m done with this ‘thing’ here.” He pushed his cup away like it was trash. “I’ll head home and ask Alfred to make me some real tea. Shall we go, gentleman?” he said, stretching his arms and yawning wide. “Where do I drop you two off?”
“You can leave us at my place,” I said as Matt said at the same time, “I need to get back home.”
“What?” I asked surprised. “You’re not coming home with me? You always stay at my place in my birthdays.” I felt slightly disappointed. Okay, not slightly, it was more like a whole damn lot.
“Yeah, my dad is getting back from a business trip tonight. I should head back home,” he said, shifting awkwardly on his seat. “You know how it is with my dad...”
I knew exactly how it was. Usually Matt’s father turned into a raging troglodyte when he arrived from his trips and noticed Matt was not in the house. He assumed Matt was wasting off somewhere, doing drugs, whoring around, wasting his money away. The beatings followed shortly after that.
“Oh, okay. I didn’t know your dad was coming back tonight,” I said worriedly.
“It’s fine, really.” Matt tried to sound reassuring.
Vincent watched this exchange with a cryptic look on his face.
“We better go.” I hurried out of the booth.
I didn’t’ want Matt’s father mad because of any tardiness that we could avoid, so I asked Vincent to let Matt at his place first, and soon, we were stopping in front of Matt’s front lawn. He got out of the car and leaned on my window to say goodbye.
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” he asked with a smile.
“Of course,” I said and hesitated. “Are you sure you’re going to be all right?”
“Yeah. I’ll call you on your phone in a bit, to give you goodnight, okay?”
‘And then you can see that I’m really fine’, was the underlying message.
“I’ll wait for your call then.”
He nodded and stepped away from the car. “Thanks for the ride, Worthington.” he bumped at the hood. “Get him home safe, yeah?”
“You got it.” Vincent gave a short nod. “Oh, and Mathew?”
“Yeah?” Matt turned to see what he wanted.
“Thanks for not holding a grudge, man. I’m glad you understood. I hope you can consider us friends now. I really was cheering for you guys.”
Matt stared at him for a couple seconds, before nodding. “Sure. If Taylor trusts you, I think I can try to trust you too.”
“Thank you. I’ll do my best to honor your vote of trust.”
“All right, man.” He gave a playful salute before he walked to his house.
The drive to my place was silent. I was too worried to make pointless chitchat.
“Are you worried something might happen to him?” Vincent asked as we approached my house.
“Hm? Oh, no. I’m sure he’ll be fine...” I said distractedly as he parked in front of my lawn. “Thanks for the ride, Vince, and... for everything really.” I said, stepping out of the car.
“No problem. Are you going to be okay?”
“I’ll be fine. I’m just a bit shocked with how this evening turned out, but I guess when the shock wears off I’ll be ecstatic. Thanks again, by the way, for being always right.” I teased, knowing how much he loved to hear those words.
My phone ringed then and I jumped startled. ”It must be Matt calling to say good night, hey Matty-” I paused and listened intently. “Matt? What’s wrong? Matt! I can’t hear you, Matt!” I said pressing the phone urgently to my ear.
Then the line was cut. I turned to Vincent, looking terrified.
“Something’s wrong.” I whispered.
“Get in.” He commanded.