Luke fucked up. He fucked up bad.
The moment the last note of “My Name is Luke” leaves his mouth and dissipates into the deadly silent garage, he knows he’s made a mistake. He stands frozen, waiting for a reaction, any reaction, from his bandmates, and they seem to be expecting the same from him.
Bobby is the first one to break the spell. He steps forward, and Luke immediately stumbles backwards until he hits the back of the couch and can’t go any farther. He throws his hands up in front of his face, flinching at the anticipated blow.
“Hey,” Bobby whispers, holding his hands out like Luke is a cornered animal. “I’m not going to hurt you. It’s okay. It’s okay... Luke?”
It’s a question, and Luke gives him the slightest nod. He slowly lowers his hands and crosses them over himself, his nails digging into his biceps through the sleeves of his flannel. He trains his eyes on the floor.
“Okay,” Bobby says. “Luke. It’s a good name.”
Luke glances up at him, and is shocked to see a small smile on his friend’s face. He locks eyes with Bobby. He can’t bring himself to look at the other two yet. Not until they say something. Encouraged by the eye contact, Bobby takes a small step forward.
“Can you just...” Bobby stops, considers his next words carefully. “Can you help us understand what the song means? I don’t want to assume.”
Luke takes a deep breath, his eyes never leaving Bobby’s. “I’m—I’m a boy.” He whispers. He’s never said those words out loud before, at least not to anyone but his mirror. He feels a laugh bubble up in his chest. “I’m a boy,” he says, louder this time.
Bobby smiles. “A boy named Luke?”
“Yeah,” Luke grins. “A boy named Luke.”
“Cool,” Bobby says.
“Cool?” Luke asks.
“Yeah,” Bobby nods. He turns back to the others, who have been so quiet Luke nearly forgot they were there. “Right guys?”
Luke’s heart jumps into his throat as he turns to look at the other two. They’re staring at each other, having a silent conversation.
“Guys?” Luke asks, wincing at the shake in his voice.
Their heads snap to him, eyes wide.
“Right, guys?” Bobby asks again, this time with an edge to it.
They glance back at each other, then back to Luke. Their silence pounds into Luke’s head like a bass drum, growing louder and louder as his eyes flick between the two of them, and neither make a move to speak.
It’s too much. He has to get out of here. So, he does what he does best. He runs.
“Luke, wait!” someone calls. He doesn’t care who it is. He’s already gone.
He doesn’t care where his feet take him, just as long as he’s not back there. He runs until he has no air left in his lungs.
He’s at the beach, he realizes as he collapses onto his knees in the soft sand. The tide laps at his legs and the roar of the waves is almost enough to overpower the drums in his head. Almost.
He thought Bobby was going to be the hard part. Bobby hung around with jocks—not nearly as much as he hung with the band, but still. Luke heard the names some of those guys threw at him and his friends when Bobby wasn’t around to stop them. He knew Bobby wasn’t like them, he had the proof of that now, but that didn’t stop him from worrying that their prejudices had soaked into his mind.
Never had he thought that the rejection would come from the other two. At least, not something so cruel as what had just happened. It’s not like they were girly-girls. In a way, that’s what brought the three of them together. They never had much interest in any of the things that had caught the attention of other girls in their grade. They didn’t have gossipy sleepovers or do makeovers or pine over the boys in their class. Okay, Luke admits, two of the three of them like girls, so maybe that one doesn’t count.
Maybe that’s the issue, Luke thinks. Maybe they feel betrayed by him. Like they were supposed to be the wrong kind of girl together, and he took it too far.
Luke’s chest clenches around his heart, like his body is trying to crush itself from the inside. He’s starting to suffocate, and he rips off his flannel, the cool night air doing little to drag him back from the brink.
When he decided to tell the band, he promised himself he wouldn’t cry, but the dam is about to break. He can’t believe how stupid he was. He should have just kept his mouth shut. Maybe pretending would have been worth it if it meant keeping two of the most important people in his life. And oh God, the band. What the hell is he going to do if he can’t even make music to fill the void left by his friends?
The first tear falls just as the pounding of footsteps reach his ears. He quickly swipes the remaining tears away, praying to whatever fuck runs the universe that it’s just some strangers out for a late night jog.
The footsteps get closer, and Luke draws his knees into chest.
“Luke,” someone breathes, and Luke drops his head onto the top of his knees, letting out a small groan. He can’t do this.
The footsteps reach him, and suddenly he’s surrounded. There’s leather pressed up against his left arm, and denim on the right. He wants to pull away, but he can’t bring himself to move. Maybe if he just sits here in silence, they’ll go away.
“I’m sorry,” one of them says. He can’t tell which; he can barely hear them over the storm in his brain.
“We both are,” the other one agrees.
“We love you, Luke. We—“
Luke cuts them off with a shake of the head. “Please,” he says, “just leave. Don’t—don’t pretend you don’t hate me. If you’re not going to treat me like me, then just leave.”
“We don’t hate you.” A hand falls on his left knee. He jerks away, and the voice sighs. “We get it.”
“No, you don’t,” he growls. He tips his head back to glare up at the stars, willing their light to evaporate the tears in his eyes.
“Luke.” A hand grips his chin, lightly but with enough force to drag his head to his right. He looks into the drummer’s blue-green eyes, and there’s an intensity there that makes it impossible to look away, no matter how badly he wants to. “We get it, because we feel exactly the same way.”
“We’re boys, too.”
Luke glances between the two of them, his brain kicking into overdrive. “What? But—I don’t—“ He stops to collect himself. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
He feels leather shrug up and down his arm. “Didn’t know how. It was... a lot. Your song kind of put into words everything I’ve been feeling for a long time, and I was barely processing that when you confirmed what it meant.”
Luke nods and takes a moment to let this sink in. He chews at his lip, not sure if he really wants to know the answer to his next question. “Did you know about each other?”
“No,” the drummer says. “Honestly, I hadn’t really even admitted it to myself yet, but when you were done I looked over at him and I just kinda knew. The three of us are the same.”
“Wow,” Luke breathes. He flops down into the sand, and his boys—his boys he thinks giddily—lay down next to him, and the storm in his brain fizzles out. “What are the odds?”
The bassist chuckles. “The world has a funny way of bringing people together.” He laces his fingers through Luke’s and Luke does the same for the drummer.
“What are your names?” Luke asks, quietly. It’s a strange question to ask your best friends since kindergarten, but in this moment it feels so right.
“I don’t have one yet,” the drummer admits. “Like I said, I hadn’t really even admitted it to myself yet.”
“Ditto. I mean, I admitted it to myself a while ago, but I haven’t found anything that feels right.”
Luke thinks for a moment before a grin splits his face. “Boys,” he says, smiling even wider as he says it, “I think I have an idea.”
“I don’t like that look.”
“Calm down,” Luke snorts. “It’s only mildly illegal.”
Breaking into the library is easier than anticipated. The hard part is finding their way around inside with no flashlight. Luckily, the bassist spends a lot of time at the library and has the layout and the Dewey Decimal system nearly memorized. He only runs into a few bookshelves before they find what they’re looking for: a treasure trove of baby naming books.
They each pick one off the shelf at random and settle at a table nearby to start their search. They decide to start with the bassist.
“How about Brandon?” the drummer suggests, and the bassist screws up his face in disgust.
“James?” Luke suggests. “Jimmy for short?”
He considers this. “Maybe. I like the R sound.”
Luke flips to the back of his book, where the R names are listed. His eyes skim about halfway down the page before they catch on something. He looks up with a grin. “Reginald.” He intends it as a joke, but something lights up in the bassist’s eyes when he says it.
“Reginald,” the bassist repeats. “Reggie.” He giggles a bit. “Reggie Peters. I love it.”
“Yeah?” Luke asks.
Reggie nods, his smile getting bigger by the second. “Yeah.” He turns to the drummer. “Your turn, no-name.”
The drummer rolls his eyes, but he flips back to the start of his book. The other two do the same with theirs, searching silently. Luke’s a little more cautious about this one. His friend overthinks everything; too many options for something as important as this will overwhelm him. Honestly, Luke’s surprised he hasn’t broken down yet. Admitting you’re trans and having your two best friends come out to you as well is a big freaking change, as the drummer himself would put it.
Luke is about to suggest Michael when the drummer looks up from his book with a certainty Luke’s never seen from him before.
“Alex,” he says.
“You think that’s the one?” Reggie asks.
He nods. “I’m positive.”
Luke’s about to ask if he’s really sure, if this isn’t going to be something he stresses himself out about later, but he turns to look at Luke with this massive grin and Luke sees it in his eyes. This is Alex. One-hundred percent.
“Well then,” Luke says, reaching out to take each of their hands. “Reggie. Alex. It’s nice to finally meet you guys.”
Alex rolls his eyes and pulls the other two in for a group hug. They relish it in silence for a moment before Reggie speaks up.
“Luke,” he says. “You know that even if we weren’t like you... we could never hate you. Ever. For anything. You know that, right?”
Luke nods. “I know.” He’s never been so sure of anything in his life.
“We should head back,” Alex says. “Bobby’s probably only a few minutes away from calling the police.”
Reggie snorts. “He’s going to be in for quite a surprise.”
“You guys didn’t tell him?” Luke asks.
“We tried to explain,” Alex says, “but he was so pissed at us he just shoved us out the door and told us to tell it to you instead.”
“We kinda deserved it,” Reggie admits.
“Yeah, you did,” Luke says, ruffling Reggie’s hair. “Come on, let’s put that poor man out of his misery.”
The first thing Bobby asks once they finish their collective coming out is, “So does this mean we’re a boy band now?”
Luke lets out an indignant squawk. “We are not a boy band.”
“Oh my god,” Alex cackles, “we’re totally a boy band.”
“No,” Luke says. “Unacceptable. Everyone back in the closet. Now.”
Alex and Reggie ignore him, already caught up in an argument about which of them is Justin Timberlake. Luke rolls his eyes and helps Bobby pull out the couch before flopping down next to him on the mattress.
“Hey Bobby?” he says, reaching out for his friend’s hand. “Thank you.”
Bobby squeezes his hand. “Love you, Luke.”
Alex drops down next to Luke and Reggie throws himself in between Luke and Bobby.
“Hey,” Bobby protests.
“Move,” Reggie says, “We owe Luke extra cuddles.”
Bobby grumbles, but he shifts so his arms are around Reggie instead. “This okay?” he asks.
“Always, Bobbert,” Reggie grins, snuggling into Luke’s side.
Alex is already drifting off to sleep with his head on Luke’s shoulder, and Reggie and Bobby aren’t far behind. Luke runs a hand through Alex’s hair, distantly wondering if he’s going to cut it, and his eyes start to droop.
Before sleep can take him, he glances up at the ceiling and throws a thank you to whatever the fuck runs the universe for bringing his boys to him.
His boys, he thinks, and he falls asleep with the biggest smile on his face.