XXIV. Tumbled and Truths
I let out a sigh of relief as I finished my last sheet of homework for the week. It had been almost a week since Madison gave his statement at the police station, and needless to say, I haven't left his side. And he hasn't left mine. Connor had been coming to drop off my work and I'd texted Mr. Hill to let him know what had been going on and got a very strongly worded response regarding what he was going to do to my ex-teammates and Madison's dad. It was hard to convince him not to, not only because he would get in trouble as well, but because a part of me wanted him to do it. Yesterday he'd come and dropped off some cookies he and John had made for us. Mr. Hill was like a father to me and I loved him for it.
I looked over at Madison who was sitting next to me on the couch with my legs resting in his lap and his computer on top of my legs, his eyebrows furrowed and adorable glasses balancing on the bridge of his nose. He was adorable. He'd already caught up on all his class work he'd been missing and now he was trying to busy himself, and I couldn't blame him. Our court date was tomorrow and he was terrified. I was too, but I tried to hide it to keep him from worrying. But he needed a better distraction than school work. And I knew exactly what he needed.
I carefully moved my legs so that they were free from under his computer before I scooted closer to him and carefully took his laptop from him and set it on the coffee table. "Babe..." he trailed as I straddled his lap and slung my arms over his shoulders.
"Hmm?" I hummed as I leaned a bit closer, but not close enough that our bodies were touching. He softly placed his hands on the low of my back, silently urging me to keep doing what I was doing. I smiled before I ran a hand through his hair. "I want to do something with you," I softly said. He hummed in response as he leaned into me so that his face was buried in my neck and his arms were securely around me. "Something fun. Something to tell the world that you're mine and I love you and that I don't care what anyone thinks." He hummed again as he placed a soft kiss on the base of my throat, causing my mind to fill with the white noise it always did when Madison found just the right place on my body. "Madison, you better stop before I throw all our plans out the window and keep you in here forever."
He moved so that we were now face to face. "I don't think that's such a bad idea," he said, his voice scratchy from its lack of use, before his lips viciously attacked mine. I tightly gripped his neck as he shifted us so that I was trapped between him and the sofa. It was like we were animals, moving purely off of instinct instead of reason. And I loved it.
Madison was in the middle of roughly feeling me over when our weight changed and my eyes snapped open realizing what was happening.
"Madison-" I tried to make out as our bodies tumbled off the narrow couch onto the floor. We both erupted in laughter as Madison slung an arm over his eyes and he slightly blushed though he was still laughing.
"I'm sorry. I got carried away," he chuckled.
"It's fine," I said with a chuckle as well. A comfortable silence fell over us and we just laid there staring at each other. "You okay?" I softly asked after a few moments.
"Yeah, we didn't tumble that hard-"
"That's not what a meant," I pressed. "Ever since your statement you've been so...quiet and distant. I know it's a lot but...I just want to make sure you're okay."
He gave me a half-hearted grin as he craned his neck up and gently kissed my lips. "I'm fine, thanks. I just...I don't like talking about my mom. Usually it doesn't affect me so much, but times like this make me wonder if things would've turned out different if she were here. Would she support me? Would she cast me out like my dad? I know I shouldn't care, but I can't help it."
"Madison, you don't have to minimize your feelings. I understand. My parents are gone too and those thoughts cross my mind all the time, but I know they'd want me to be happy and since you make me the happiest I've ever been, I know they'd be on board one-hundred percent. I bet your mom would feel the same even if your dad doesn't."
"Maybe," he distantly said, causing my heart to drop. I kissed him again.
"Ti amo (I love you)."
"Ti amo," he instantly repeated before I climbed off of him and extended my arm for him to take.
"Now, put on some pants and a shirt. We're going out."
His eyebrows furrowed. "Noah, it's almost eight. Shops are closing and-"
"Babe, don't worry. Where we're going is open twenty-four-seven." He gave me a confused look and I took his hand into mine. "It's fine. Don't question it." Though he still had a confused look in his eye, he allowed me to lead him into the bedroom and we slid on some sweatpants over his boxers as well as one of my long-sleeved shirts that hugged his upper body in all the right places while I simply threw on one of my shirts and one of Madison's pullovers.
"You ready?" I asked as I shoved my phone and Madison's house keys into the pocket of my pants then offered my hand to him.
"For what exactly?" He asked with a raised brow though he still took my hand.
I kissed the back of it. "To breathe." With that, I led him out of his apartment and out of his apartment building.
"Babe, the car's that way," Madison pointed out as we began walking away from the parking lot.
"I know," I said. "Just trust me, okay?"
There was a cool breeze outside and the sky was a beautiful dark water color. Street lights were turning on and cars were flying by on the streets with husbands or wives desperately going home to see their families or kids our age hurrying to their friends' house. Madison's hand felt warm and firm in my own and our steps were in perfect time with each other.
As we walked, I noticed aspects of the neighbourhood I hadn't before, especially how beautiful it was at night. After a while, we finally ended up in my desired destination: the park. To make things better, it was empty and the beautiful full moon's light perfectly illuminated the park as if it were trying to give us a path to follow.
"I just want to be with you," I softly said as I stopped and looked up at him. "No fancy dates and no crazy, hateful people. And definitely no shame. Just the two of us in a place outside of your apartment for once."
He smiled. "I think I like the sound of that,"
I chuckled as I wrapped my arm around his waist before we started walking together once more, hip to hip. We walked in a comfortable silence, enjoying each other's company and the stretch of scenery that was around us until Madison spoke. "You know our lives are going to change forever tomorrow, right?" He suddenly said, causing my eyebrows to furrow.
"Babe, don't think about that right now. We're supposed to be relaxing, remember?"
"I know, but it's just...scary. I've never been pulled over, let alone testified against my father and those boys for what they'd done to us. I'm just afraid that when I see him, I'll see my father instead of the monster he really is and break down and I really don't want to give him the satisfaction or be the weak link that lets those bastards get away or-"
"Madison," I softly said, causing his words to die on his lips. "It's okay to be scared and emotional. Babe, you have to remember that you're not alone in this, okay? You have me and I have you. I know it'll be scary, but you just need to trust yourself, okay?"
He mutely nodded and rested his forehead on mine. "I don't know what I would do without you, Noah."
I gently ran my thumb over his cheek before I pressed a light kiss to his forehead. "Me either." The corners of his lips slightly turned up as he slid his hand back into mine and we started approaching a really cliche looking bridge that stretched over the River that cut through the middle of the park.
"You know I'm going to marry you, right?"
I smiled. "Yeah, you've mentioned it once or twice."
"I hope you know that I'm serious," he pressed. "Now that you've entered my life, I honestly can't see myself living without you. You calm me down and I make horribly inappropriate jokes. Most importantly, we both love each other. I know I've said this a lot but I've honestly never loved anyone as much as I love you and it's kinda scary." He stopped walking as we reached the top of the bridge. "Noah, I hope you know that there's nothing that I want more in life than to call you mine forever and grow old and have a family together. And I know I'm a lot sometimes and I'll work on it, but...I just really love you and I hope you don't get tired of me."
I grinned before I leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to his lips. "Don't worry. I'm not going anywhere," I softly promised, causing him to smile against my lips before he gripped the back of my neck and deepened the kiss. It felt like we were in a movie scene standing on a bridge as the moonlight cascading over us as we showed each other exactly how much we loved one another through our kiss. However, the moment was cut short just as he wrapped his arms around my waist.
"Noah?" A familiar voice asked from behind us, causing me to pull away and turn around just to see Gracie. I froze.
"Gracie? What are you doing out here this late?"
"It's true, isn't it?" She softly asked, unbelief evident in her voice.
"Who is this?" Madison lowly asked as he moved so that he was standing a bit in front of me but not in a noticeable way.
"A girl from my church," I lowly responded. "What's true?" I asked so that she could hear me.
"You're gay," she said, almost remorseful. "There's been talk around the church but I never thought..."
I swallowed. "Who's been talking?"
"It doesn't matter, babe. Let's go," Madison urged but my feet wouldn't move.
"It doesn't matter. All that matters is that you're not in God's image. You're not natural," she spat the last part as if it left a bitter taste in her mouth.
I felt anger flare up within me, but I held it down. "God wants us to be open-minded and accepting of each other so how can you claim to be a child of God, but speak hate all in the same breath?" She opened her mouth to say something but quickly closed it. "You don't have to agree with my lifestyle, but you don't have to hate us and tear us down, especially because who I love doesn't affect you in any way."
She sighed and massaged her temples. "I need time," was all she said before she turned and jogged away without another word.
A weird feeling filled my chest as I watched he run away, like a spark of hope being extinguished. I really thought that she'd be able to see past this part of me...
But who told?
My jaw clenched. Mr. Williams.
"Are you okay?" Madison softly asked and I nodded though it was a lie.
"I think I'm ready to go home now."