I'm flattered almost, that Lucas would think I have Joe's heart, but sad at the same time, because I know I don't. I don't mean to say I particularly want Joe to love me in that way, but he's a nice guy and I might hope, just a little, that someday I could have something special with someone like him. Like him, but not him. Because Joe's heart belongs to someone else and maybe it's ironic, but that is Lucas. Who thinks that Joe is in love with me and has no idea that the man he loves, loves him back.
That is really perhaps the saddest thing about any of it. Everyone around them can see clearly that they love each other, but the two of them, remain hopelessly oblivious and utterly desolate, because they are too afraid that if they say something, they'll loose what they already have. Irony again maybe... because everyone else can see, they're already loosing it.
Lucas is retreating more into himself every day in his bid to prove he's grown up, can be trusted. While Joe is pushing outwards, scrabbling to appear constantly happy to easy Lucas' concerns. It's an almost comical dance, from the outside looking in, as long as you don't look either of them in the eyes where you can see all the pain laid out like a buffet. It stings you just too look at it.
The others... we've talked, whispers when no one is looking, concern, fear, they are all trying to act normal but everything feels wrong, even too me who has scarcely know anything but this behaviour from them, finds this wrong, like the balance of the world is greatly upset, but none of us know how to fix it. The idea of confrontation is scarier still than the current stalemate.
The others are worried what confrontation might do. If it wouldn't just break things further, if it wouldn't send one or both of them running for cover. But unless something happens soon, the fall out may be too big to ever control. Things just can't continue as they have, but how to force them to face each other and the feelings between them...
Joe won't tell Lucas how he feels, I know this, I've tried everything to convince him he should, but his answer is always the same, he can't believe Lucas feels the same and he won't risk Lucas leaving. I haven't talked to Lucas, but even if I thought I could talk to Lucas about his feelings, I fear I'd get the same response.
The only thing I can think off to do is somehow force one of them to admit how the feel while the other is within hearing distance. If I'm wrong in anyway, this could all blow up so badly, but if it works, maybe, finally, they'll be able to work this all out. They might hate me forever if I'm wrong, maybe even if I'm right, but I feel I need to try.
Enlisting the others is more difficult than I imagine, but it's eventually Debs who announces she'll help, her 'how much worse can it get' approach isn't what I'd have used, but it seemed to work and the plan is scarily simple. Corner Joe in his office and get him to admit to being in love with Lucas, while Lucas is outside listening. So simple... so hard to actually accomplish... but by fate, luck or stubbornness, we do... and apparently, how much worse it could get... was worse than we imagined.
Lucas over heard Joe and flew out of the shop like a bat out of hell, Joe barely stayed long enough to tell us we were all fired and to get the hell out of his shop and his life before following him. That was three hours ago and none of us have moved from the back room since.
What we're waiting for is anyone's guess. Maybe for confirmation that what we did failed so miserably that we destroyed the lives of two people we care deeply for. Maybe in the vain hope of a miracle... that Joe and Lucas will walk back through that door together... that our plan, which I'm willing to admit had more than its fair share of flaws, was not the disaster it appears. Maybe we're even just waiting to wake up from this, like its some bad dream and we're going to wake up any minute and things will be back to that uncomfortable but bearable place it's been for the last few months.
When the sun filters in and we realise it's morning, that we've sat here all night, half way between sleeping and wakefulness, without any sign of Lucas or Joe, we start to move, to make murmurings about going home, about what to do now and when we are just ready to really give up, to admit defeat and leave with a view to never returning, Joe storms in, a whirlwind of energy, in the same clothes as yesterday, eyeing us all without expression and all those fears we had about how bad things could get seem small compared to the complete *panic* that blankness sets off in my stomach.
His lips quirk, just a little, eyes glittering, his stance slowly loosening up and as his arms fall, the jacket that had bunched around his neck and shoulders falls back into it's proper place and I think we all see it at the same time, the small red mark, one that could only have been made by teeth worrying at that one spot for several minutes at least and the flood of relief hits the room like a tidal wave, as Lucas makes his appearance behind Joe, his whole body loose and free, practically singing with happiness as he moves into Joe's arms.
"This doesn't mean you're off the hook... you're all working double shifts for a month," Joe says, his attempt at surliness off-set by the glow of love and contentment in his eyes. I think everyone would agree, it's worth it, it'd be worth it if we had to work double shifts for a year... for a love like that, it's worth it... it's worth it... for them.