Carson Bruie was once again standing in his cafe, looking like the same douchebag that walked out of Lincoln’s life almost a year ago. Said douchebag was making his way toward their table with a huge grin on his face.
“Link!” He said happily. Lincoln curled his hands into fists, digging his nails into his palms painfully. You don’t get to fucking call me that.
“Carson,” Lincoln said through gritted teeth. Xavier looked at him in alarm, but the others didn’t seem to notice. “What are you doing here?”
What are you doing here in my goddamn cafe, you fucking prick?
“Just came to see you,” Carson said sweetly. Lincoln practically threw up in his mouth. “But I can see you have company, so I’ll come back later.”
Not at all, preferably. Lincoln thought bitterly. Of course, the universe fucking hated him, or maybe it was just Jupiter, because the latter piped up with a “it’s alright, you can join us!”
(And no, it was not alright because it was motherfucking Carson Bruie, Mr. “I’m tired of your baggage so I’ll walk out of your life after two and a half years”.)
It was already too late, Carson was pulling out a seat and Jupiter was staring at him with literal heart-eyes. Unfortunately for Jupiter, Carson was as straight as a 180° angle, unlike Lincoln. The two of them had always been opposites, hadn’t they?
Lincoln was tall, lanky and pale while Carson was average height, muscular and tanned. Lincoln struggled to maintain a 3.9 GPA while Carson had a 3.87 without even trying. Lincoln played football, Carson preferred basketball. Lincoln was too attached, Carson was too detached. Maybe that’s why their friendship didn’t work.
“I think I remember you, you were captain of the basketball team, right?” Jupiter was saying. “I’m Jupiter, I went to your high school.”
“You were the guy taking senior classes in your sophomore year, right?”
“Yeah that was me,” Jupiter said, smiling warmly. “And these are my friends Jackson, Xavier and Hajime.”
“Hajime Hachimitsu, right? You were a wicked point guard,” Carson said. Lincoln wasn’t surprised Carson remembered them. “And Xavier, I don’t think we’ve met before. I’m Carson Bruie.”
“Nice to meet you,” Xavier said shortly, not taking his eyes off of Lincoln’s face. Lincoln’s phone buzzed with a text. He took it out and glanced at the screen.
Who’s this guy?
Lincoln ignored the conversation around him in favor of unlocking his phone to reply to Xavier.
Ex best-friend. We had a
falling out of sorts
Wow. If it makes you feel
any better, I can tell he’s not
doing so hot. Look at his
Confused, Lincoln looked up from his phone to sneak a subtle glance at Carson’s hands. Indeed, they were shaking, like he was an alcoholic experiencing withdrawal. He tapped on the text box and fired off another message.
He seems really off. Not my problem anymore, tho. Get me out of here?
Hold up I gotchu.
Lincoln slid his phone back into his pocket just as Xavier cleared his throat, successfully catching everyone’s attention.
“Link, you remember Finn? I think he’s in your forensic psychology lecture?” Xavier said.
“Oh yeah,” Lincoln said without missing a beat. There really was a Finn in his forensic psychology lecture. “What about him?”
“He’s having a bit of a crisis, wants our help,” Xavier replied, rolling his eyes dramatically. He stood up, slamming his hands onto the table and leaning forward like he was about to share a secret. “Personally, I think it’s the caffeine talking.”
“You have to go?” Carson asked, looking at Lincoln with an unreadable expression. Lincoln refused to make eye contact as he nodded sharply. There was no way he was sticking around. “Oh okay, see you around.”
“Bye,” Lincoln said to the table at large, following Xavier.
“Honestly,” Xavier said exasperatedly. “You’d think Finn would have learned to stop drinking excessive amounts of coffee by now. Or maybe it was Monster?” He continued to rant until they had stepped outside and the door swung shut behind them.
“You’re insanely good at acting,” Lincoln said, laughing a little as they started down the sidewalk.
“You’re not,” Xavier replied. “Well, not to me, anyway. You looked like you wanted to kill that guy.”
“It’s a long story,” Lincoln sighed, shoving his hands into his pockets. “Thank you for getting me out of there.”
“No problem, what are friends for?” Xavier said easily. And Lincoln was so grateful as relief bubbled up inside of him. He was never really sure where he stood with Xavier, who was friendly but quiet and a little closed off. “Where do you wanna go?”
Before Lincoln can reply, both their phones vibrated simultaneously. Confused, Xavier raised his eyebrows at Lincoln before digging his phone out of the pocket of his skinny jeans. Lincoln does the same.
Oli Oli oxen free now
anyone wanna play football?
“That’s weird, I just got a text from Oliver asking to play football,” Xavier said, frowning. “When does he ever want to do anything physical besides dancing?”
“Since when was his contact name in my phone ‘Oli Oli oxen free’?” Lincoln asked, bewildered, unlocking his phone to reply.
Football? Soccer or American??
American u whore i’ve lived
here for years now
Okok chill xavi and i are like
a block west from the cafe come
pick us up
k gimme five
“He’s coming to get us,” Lincoln said. Xavier shrugged and sat down on the curb. “I guess we’re playing football then. You any good?” He joined Xavier in sitting on the pavement, stretching out his legs and opening Snapchat to view the stories of people with better lives than him.
“I’ve never really played outside of PE,” Xavier replied. “What about you?”
“Yeah, I was quarterback back in California,” Lincoln said nonchalantly, watching the story of someone from Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
“California’s a long way from here,” Xavier said, giving Lincoln a look. Lincoln was entirely too sober for this conversation. He needed a shot. Or four. Preferably tequila. He’s not picky. Lincoln’s saved from answering the unspoken question when his phone buzzes with a new text.
Your Zelda <3 now
r u going to play football too??
Lincoln smiled despite himself.
Why do you text like a ten year old girl?
Where are you rn?
don’t judge me
still at the cafe lol ur friend left
Yeah he’s not my friend.
we’re going, are you?
Yo im always up for football
“There’s Oliver,” Xavier said suddenly. “Who’s texting you?”
Lincoln looked up for a second before double-taking. Oliver was sitting in an Aston Martin Rapide with the windows rolled down, music playing at a respectable volume. He honked his horn, rolling his eyes when neither of them move. They both scrambled to their feet, Lincoln yelling shotgun and pulling Xavier away from the door, sliding in triumphantly.
Xavier grumbled as he sat in the back. “I’m always shotgun in Oli’s cars.”
“Cars? Plural?” Lincoln asked, ignoring Xavier’s childishness.
Oliver gave him a weird look. “You already know my family has multiple cars? When Jupiter was drunk I picked you up in a Nissan S14, this is an Aston Martin.”
“I paid more attention to the fact that Jupiter threw up on my shoes,” Lincoln said, wrinkling his nose in disgust when he remembered. It was a shame, he really liked those shoes. He took a second to listen to whatever was playing through the speakers. “What is this, the Misfits?”
“Mhm, Bruiser. They’re not my favourite but I listen to them from time to time,” Oliver said, rolling up the windows. “Put on your seatbelts, losers. If we crash, you’ll go flying through the windshield.”
“We’re not really dressed for football,” Xavier commented as the two buckled in. “Lincoln and I are in skinny jeans.”
“So?” Oliver snorted. “Not my problem. It’s not like any of us are star athletes.”
“Actually, I am,” Lincoln said, raising a hand and grinning. “My team won the championships, best in the city.”
“Nice,” Oliver said approvingly, reaching out to turn down the music, but not shutting it off completely. “What were you, wide receiver?”
“Why does everyone think that?” Lincoln complained. “No, I was quarterback on the varsity team. Anyone else play on a team?”
“I was always more of a basketball lover,” Oliver admitted. “Tsuyoshi was running back, I think, but he’s gonna be late. He’s biking there.”
“Isn’t that like a forty minute ride?” Lincoln asked. “Why didn’t he just get a ride?” He noticed Oliver’s eyes flicking over to catch Xavier’s in the rearview mirror. The atmosphere in the car suddenly grew uncomfortable. Lincoln could practically cut the tension with a knife.
“It’s not really ours to tell,” Xavier said slowly. “But let’s just say Tsuyoshi isn’t a fan of cars.”
“Oh, okay,” Lincoln said awkwardly, fidgeting with the sleeves of his shirt. It was pretty cold outside, he should text Yong-sun to see if he was home.
Hey, you still home?
Yes, I am waiting for jackson
I need you to bring me a jacket
Bring my letterman one
Okay. I am stealing your
jacket with the cat
My Puma jacket? Yeah sure
Whatever you want
“What the heck?” Lincoln said. “What is this?”
“What?” Xavier asked, leaning forward to peer at Lincoln’s screen. Lincoln held it up so Xavier could see it better. “Oh, you mean the face? It’s called a kaomoji, they’re Japanese emoticons.”
“Why doesn’t he just use iOS emojis?” Lincoln wondered. “He’s got an iPhone.”
“He feels they aren’t expressive enough,” Oliver answered, rolling his eyes like he thought it was ridiculous, stupid, or ridiculously stupid. Knowing Oliver, he probably meant all three. “They’re cute, I guess. Tsuyoshi and Jupiter use them too. Thank god Hajime is fucking normal.”
“Says the one whose contact name is ‘Oli Oli oxen free’ on Lincoln’s phone,” Xavier retorted, leaning back in the seat smugly.
“I did not set it as that,” Oliver snapped, glaring murderously. “That was probably Kim fucking Jupiter.”
“I don’t wanna know when he got on my phone. And I never really understood the Kim Jupiter thing. Isn’t it Jupiter Kim?”
“What, are you stupid?”
“Shut up, Oliver, that’s not nice.”
“I’m not nice.”
“To answer your question,” Xavier said, turning to Lincoln. “Koreans use family names first, followed by their given names. It’s not really that weird, if you think about it. It’s a little like how French people use the noun first, followed by the adjective.”
“Oh, I think I get it,” Lincoln nodded. “I guess I never really understood their culture. And the only Korean group I know is U-KISS, and just Kevin and Eli.”
“Right, right, and they’re Korean-American,” Xavier nodded. “Wait, you don’t know Exo?”
“Nah but they’re sexy as fuck, and talented.”
“They’re talented,” Oliver said thoughtfully. “Xavier, my phone’s like right there. I have unlimited data, search them up and show Lincoln.”
“Okay,” Xavier said, shrugging. Obediently, he reached for Oliver’s phone and quickly unlocked it. “You’re so predictable, do you ever change your passwords?”
“If I did, Jupiter would cry and demand to know the new one,” Oliver said, eyes narrowing in the rearview mirror. “It’s easier to keep it the same.”
“Okay here,” Xavier said, leaning over to shove the phone in Lincoln’s face. Lincoln pushed at his arm until he could see the screen without going cross-eyed, and he can see nine extremely attractive boys in suits.
“Holy shit, who’s the guy with the eyebrows?” Lincoln asked, jabbing his finger at the screen.
“Sehun Oh,” Xavier answered. “He’s sexy as fuck, but my bias is Kyungsoo.”
“I don’t like any of them,” Oliver declared. “Except maybe the Chanyeol dude. I liked his rapping in that one song. Monster, I think.”
Xavier wrinkled his nose in mock disgust. “You’re so straight, Oli. Must be hard running with a pack of shameless queers.”
“That’s one way to put it,” Oliver laughed quietly, doing a perfect job of parallel parking and shutting off the engine. “It’s gonna take a few before the rest of them to get here. If you see an obnoxious soccer mom van, it’s probably them.”
“Is everyone coming?” Lincoln asked, unbuckling his seatbelt and opening the door.
Oliver hummed in confirmation before sliding off his seat and stepping outside. Lincoln followed, while Xavier clambered out of the backseat with a huff and snatched Oliver’s keys to open the trunk and retrieve a Nike All Field football.
“Oliver, what the fuck happened to the Wilson ball?” Xavier asked, tossing the ball in the air and catching it, closing the trunk.
Oliver took his keys back, shoving it in his pocket before bringing his hands up to rub at his temples. “Mate, Jupiter fucking threw it in the fountain when we went to the city, remember?”
“Ugh, Jupiter and fountains are never a good mix,” Xavier groaned, shuddering. “Why do we even let him play?”
“Probably because he’s the fastest out of all of us,” Oliver grumbled, snatching the football away to throw it himself.
“Is he really?” Lincoln asked. “He doesn’t strike me as the athletic type.”
“He’s not, he doesn’t even work out! He stays fit by being so hyper all the fucking time,” Oliver complained. “He can run a hundred meters in 10.5 seconds. That’s literally .1 second away from the world record for females.”
“You’re one to talk,” Xavier glared. “You never work out and you’re still skinny as hell.”
“Well, I am a dancer,” Oliver responded matter-of-factly. “Although I spend a lot more time in music production studio than in the dance studio.”
“Hey guys!” Someone yelled. The three of them turned to see Jackson, Hajime, Jupiter and Yong-sun standing a few feet away, next to what was indeed a soccer mom van.
Lincoln grinned when he spotted his jacket clutched in Yong-sun’s hands. Sure enough, as he approached he could recognize his black Puma jacket hanging off Yong-sun’s frame.
“What the fuck, how did Tsuyoshi get here at like the same time?” Oliver said, pointing in the distance where Tsuyoshi was riding up on his bike.
“They take forever to get ready,” Hajime said, rolling his eyes and shrugging in a what can you do? kind of way. It was hard to hear him over the chorus of “Mom!”s that came from Jupiter, Yong-sun and Jackson.
“Now, that we’re all here,” Oliver smirked happily, spinning the ball between his fingers. “Let’s play ball.”