Merry Christmas, Elijah Lucas

by DJ Adams

December 8th

Elijah walked into his first period class. He tired and barely even awake enough to be here- He'd thought about Bruno all weekend. Even though he promised himself he would be a friend to Bruno, Elijah still had a hard time with things- It's never easy getting over the first boy you've ever loved and Elijah wasn't ready to hang around with the other boy just yet. And you know what made the whole situation suck even harder? The fact that he now had to suffer through 80 minutes of Mrs. Boyd's Physics class at 8:00 in the freaking morning. Sometimes, school really sucked. He sighed to himself and got started on his kinematics.

At about the same time, Bruno was getting set up to start a lab in Anatomy. Today, the class was going to begin a nearly two-week dissection on cats that would conclude on the day they left for break. Bruno wasn't really in the mood to cut open a creature that was a common pet- Even though cats and dogs are different, he kept imagining it was Shadow in the crate at the front of the room instead of the cats.

Mr. Schroeder took his place at the podium. "Alright, class. Take your seats but don't get too comfortable. I'm going to begin announcing your lab groups so listen up and stay put. When I've announced all the groups, you may get up and begin moving."

Bruno sat quietly at his desk, waiting for his name to be called.

"Okay, in the second group, I want Bruno, Chelsea, James and Michelle."

Alright. That wasn't a bad little group. Chelsea and Michelle were nice enough and James was a LAX bro but he seemed like a cool guy so there were no complaints from Bruno. Mr. Schroeder concluded his groupings and final instructions before allowing the groups to retrieve their cats and gather at their stations. As the lid came off the container that housed the dead felines, the room became filled with the stench of Formaldehyde- It was overpowering, to say the least.

Bruno's group got their animal and proceeded to their lab area. James read aloud the instructions but Bruno wasn't listening. His mind wandered to Elijah and the fact that he had received no call to hang out with him over the weekend.

"Bruno? Hellllooo?" James said.

Bruno snapped out of his trance while the two girls giggled at him and whispered to each other. "Sorry, guys. My mind wasÉ uh, well, I guess I was just a little distracted." He replied.

"That's fine but we've only got an hour to bang this stage out so we have to get moving. Why don't you start shaving this thing?" James suggested.

Bruno hesitated but ultimately took the razor. Somewhere in the classroom, an anonymous boy made a 'shaved pussy' joke much to the disapproval of Mr. Schroeder, although, he didn't know who had said it. James snickered and the girls rolled their eyes at the comment while Bruno continued shaving the cat down to its bare skin.

"Chelsea, could you start cutting the skin? And Michelle, could you start peeling it back and cutting the connective tissue?" James asked, addressing one girl and then the other.

The girls looked mortified. Chelsea piped up, "You actually expect ME to touch that thing?!" She asked.

James just sighed. This is why he didn't like working with girls. "Fine. Just make yourselves useful and document what we tell you to document."

"Excuse you. You can't talk to us like that." Michelle butted in.

"Look. You can write down the notes, make us some sandwiches or get out of the group. I don't really care which." James fired back plainly, earning the first smile from Bruno since the whole mess with Elijah began.

The girls were pissed at the rhetoric but they did as James told them. The groups all worked for a while before cleaning up for the day. With a few minutes left of class and nothing else for his kids to do, Mr. Schroeder allowed them all to talk freely to each other.

"Hey, Bruno. You okay?" James asked.

"Huh? Yeah, I guess." Bruno responded. He didn't know James beyond acquaintance so he wasn't really eager to chat about his love issues.

"Well, I can tell something's up. Coach told me that, since I'm an assistant Captain now, I should look out for people. If you wanna chill and clear your head, we can do that. I could use some new friends, anyway." James said truthfully.

"Really?" Bruno said, a little taken by James' directness.

"Sure. Wanna grab a burger and a shake at the mall, after school?" He asked.

Bruno thought about it for a minute and decided that it would be good for him. He accepted the offer. The bell rang and Bruno and James exchanged numbers before parting ways for their second period classes.

After school, Mrs. Lucas and the boys pulled up in front of the mall. Elijah, Mack and Louis piled out of the van, in front of the main entrance, and thanked her for the ride.

"Elijah, text me when you boys are ready to get picked up."

"Sure thing, Mom!! Love you!!" Elijah hollered back.

Mrs. Lucas smiled at her son and called back, "I love you, too!!" The boys tramped inside and she drove away.

"Hello, James!!" Bruno said, bumping fists with the other boy.

"Hey, Bruno. What's up? Been waiting long?"

"Nah. Just got here a few minutes ago."

"Cool. Whatcha wanna do?" James asked.

"Well, I AM pretty hungry. Wanna hit the Johnny Rocket's?" Bruno suggested.

"Well, twist my arm!!" James grinned. "Let's go!!"

The two boys walked, making light conversation and taking in the sights of the bustling mall at Christmas time along the way. Red banners and white lights hung from the ceilings. The usual plants around the mall had been replaced by poinsettias. Perhaps Bruno's favorite change was that the usual crappy music had been tastefully replaced by Vince Guaraldi's version of 'O, Tannerbaum'. They made it to the 1950's nostalgic restaurant, walked inside and ordered a couple of shakes.

Elijah, Mack & Louis went to the Game Stop. There really wasn't much point in going in there, since Christmas was only a few weeks away, but you never know what kind of cool, used stuff you can find at the last minute so they looked around.

"DUDE!!" Elijah yelped.

"What's up?" Mack asked as he and Louis turned their attention from the PS3 rack.

"It's a freaking Crash Bandicoot!! Like, the original Crash Bandicoot!! These guys aren't even supposed to be selling PS1 games anymore!!"

Louis laughed. "And this is why we don't bring you into Game Stop. We're looking at CoD and you're looking at games that are 20 years old." Mack joined him for a chuckle.

"Don't judge me." Elijah grinned. "I'm totally getting this."

Mack and Louis shook their heads and smiled.

The guy behind the register scanned the game jacket and charged Elijah $9 and change for the game. As Elijah gave the older teen a $10-spot, he started hearing singing. At the same time, the music that was on throughout the mall cut out and all that could be heard was this lone guy singing acapella. He sang in a deep, operatic voice.

"Hark! How the bells, sweet silver bells, all seem to say," The male vocalist cried.

"'Throw cares away', Christmas is here, bringing good cheer." The male vocalist continued as a female vocalist joined in.

The boys looked at each other. "FLASH MOB!!" They ran out of the Game Stop and a crowd was beginning to gather as more people began to sing. Mack and Louis took out their phones and began recording. They seemed amused but Elijah was overjoyed- His smile started softly but ended as a wide grin from ear to ear, like a small and innocent child. Louis and Mack glanced at Elijah and saw his doofy grin. They jeered and snickered at him playfully.

"Hey, don't be mean to me, guys." Elijah said laughing as he stuck his tongue out at them. With that, he began to sing along.

"What's that? Are there people singing?" James asked with a mouthful of fries.

"Dude, look!!" Bruno said, pointing to the man and women who began the spectacle. "It must be a flash mob."

"Dude!! Sick!!" James declared in approval. Bruno loved the holiday season and this was one of the biggest reasons why: It didn't matter what was going on in the world, you could always just forget your problems and get caught up in the moment like these people had done- Stopping their daily lives to sing together in harmony for just a fleeting moment.

At that same time, Bruno saw three boys run out of the Game Stop and congregate on the edge of the crowd. Bruno recognized one of those boys as Elijah. At first, he wasn't sure what to think until Elijah started to smile, and then grin, and then sing along. It was one of the most beautiful things Bruno had ever seen; A boy who got so much pure joy and happiness out of something so simple as singing a song.

"Let's go out there." Bruno suggested, still staring at Elijah. He got up from the table and headed out.

"We'll be right back." James said to the waitress, who just smiled back.

"On, on they send; On without end. Their joyful tone, to every home. Ding, Dong. Ding, Dong. Dummm." The song concluded and the singers of the flash mob scampered away as the regular music resumed over the loudspeakers, leaving the mall stirring exactly as it had no more than five minutes ago before the song started.

"Hey, Elijah!!" Bruno shouted and waved.

Elijah looked around, having heard his name being called. He caught sight of Bruno. He blushed, not knowing what to do, but he quickly resolved to smile and wave back. "Hi, Bruno!!"

Bruno and James walked over to meet Elijah, Mack and Louis. James, Mack and Louis exchanged pleasantries while Bruno and Elijah made awkward hellos. Although they didn't show it, both boys were scared of the other- Not sure what to say and even less sure of what to do. Thankfully, the other boys began a conversation about the flash mob, allowing Bruno and Elijah to join in and talk casually.

"Dude, was that freakin' epic or what?!" Mack exclaimed.

"That was killer. I've never seen a flash mob in person before!!" Louis added.

"I love that kind of stuff." Bruno piped up. "It's so cool to watch people forget everything else in the world, like nothing else matters, and just get into the holiday spirit."

Elijah was taken by Bruno's outlook- As much as he wanted to respect Bruno and just be a friend to him, he was falling that much more in love with him. "I know. Christmas is easily my favorite time of year. I just love the magic." He said.

Bruno looked Elijah in the eyes and smiled. "I agree." Elijah blushed and looked away. It was a slight exchange that went unnoticed by Mack and Louis but not by James, although he didn't say anything.

"Well, we should go. Our waitress is probably wondering if we ditched our bill." James said. It snapped Bruno back into reality and he blushed as hard as Elijah had.

James, Mack and Louis said goodbye to each other while Bruno and Elijah looked each other in the eyes.

"See ya around, Bruno." Elijah said sweetly.

"See ya around, Elijah." Bruno replied back, smiling softly.

The boys parted ways with Elijah, Mack and Louis going back into Game Stop and Bruno and James going back into Johnny Rocket's.

"So, you like him." James said, no sooner sitting down at the table with Bruno.

"Yup. I sure do." Bruno said, not thinking about where he was or who he was talking to.

Bruno quickly realized and turned red. He was about to say something when James cut him off. "So, why don't you ask him out?"

Bruno was confused. "Aren't LAX bros supposed to haze and razzle other people for stuff like that?" He asked.

James took a few sips out of his shake and responded. "I'm not like most LAX bros. I mean, I don't like dick but I also don't care about guys who do. Gays don't bother me." He said nonchalantly. "Anyway, you didn't answer my question."

"He's not gay." Bruno said flatly.

"Looked plenty gay to me." James replied.

Bruno frowned. "Just because he likes to sing doesn't make him gay."

James laughed. "I wasn't talking about him singing. I was talking about the puppy-dog eyes he was giving you and the way turned bright red every time you looked at him."

"Really?" Bruno asked.

"Yeah, dude. I think it's pretty obvious he likes you. How the hell did you not pick up on that?" James reasoned.

"Well, I was flirting with him in my parents' store, the other night, and he seemed to get all bent out of shape, so I decided to let it go." Bruno recalled.

"Well, maybe he just had a lot on his plate or something. He likes you, though- That's for sure." James said, taking another bite out of his burger.

Bruno smiled. He didn't know if James was right but he did know James WAS making sense. "Thanks." He said quietly. "Hey, James?" James looked up to acknowledge Bruno. "Would you mind if we kept all of this between us? I don't really want it to get out-"

"No problem, dude. I'm not in the habit of 'outing' people." James said. The boys sat there in silence for a minute before James spoke up again. "Well?" He asked.

"Well, what?" Bruno replied.

"Are ya gonna sit here or are ya gonna go ask him out? They're all still right there in the Game Stop." James smiled as he took a handful of fries.

Bruno smiled, too. He reached into his pocket and threw $10 onto the table to help with the bill. "Be right back."

Elijah had just texted his Mom and was walking out of Game Stop with Mack and Louis when Bruno walked up to the group.

"Hey, guys. Can I chat with Elijah for a second?" Bruno asked nicely.

Mack and Louis shrugged their shoulders. "We'll go grab something from the pretzel stand." Mack said as the two made themselves scarce.

As soon as the other two boys were gone, Bruno looked directly into Elijah's eyes. Elijah looked away and blushed again but Bruno's gaze remained firm, feeling confident.

"So, what's up, Bruno?" Elijah asked timidly.

"Nothing much. I was wondering, Elijah, do you want to hang some time this week?" Bruno asked.

Elijah thought about it and remembered his promise to himself not to get caught up in his straight friend. "Uh, sure? I mean, I don't think that Mack and Louis will mind if you and James hung around with us tonight." Elijah said carefully.

Bruno smirked. "Well, that would be nice but I was thinking more along the lines of just the two of us?" Elijah glanced up and his eyes again met Bruno's. Elijah started to panic- The thought of being alone with Bruno became too much for him. His eyes began to water and he pushed past Bruno. "Maybe some other time." Elijah said as he walked off to find Mack and Louis, leaving Bruno hurt and standing in the middle of the mall alone.

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