Things were going well between the two boys after the two made it official that they were dating after their first kiss on the floor of Jude's bedroom. While their relationship was still in its very early stages, Jude and Noah genuinely seemed to adore each other. Taylor constantly teased them, claiming credit for them getting together. While Jude always scoffed at her, repeating that he was the one who asked Noah out, both boys secretly thanked her for pushing them together.
Taylor, however, was not the only person who had annoyed them.
In the two weeks since Jude and Noah had officially became a couple, Mariana seemed intent on teasing Jude mercilessly about his new relationship, which in turn made Jude want to poison her by force feeding her nail polish. Tonight, Noah was joining the family for his first Adams Foster dinner, and Jude had spent an hour before his arrival threatening Mariana with a myriad of inventive and gruesome tortures should she embarrass him and Noah.
So of course, she completely disregarded Jude's warning. Naturally.
No sooner had Noah walked in the door before she set about teasing Jude, who silenced her with a single glance of his patented side eyed glare of death.
Jude was glad that Callie would not be there. The two had been waging a silent war against each other since the day Jesus was put in the hospital. Jude had been feeling very worried and anxious about Jesus's condition, so he'd eaten a few of the laced candies from the bag that Noah had accidentally left behind in Jude's room. Callie noticed how he was acting differently, and figured it out on her own. After realizing that Jude had been high at dinner the night before, she had confronted him in a furious rage, which resulted in the two of them falling out for the umpteenth time. The only plus about the situation was that Callie didn't know he'd gotten the bag from Noah. Regardless, Jude was glad he wouldn't have to put up with her glaring at him all through dinner. He also didn't look forward to explaining to Noah how he'd kept the bag he'd accidentally left at his house, and about how he had spent most of the days since stoned.
Dinner proceeded smoothly after that, with Mariana dominating the conversation about her STEAM club melting down. Jesus sat in his seat, feeling drowsy from the painkillers he was on for his injuries.
About twenty minutes in, Noah was still steadily shovelling food into his mouth.
"Wow, you must have been starving, Noah." Lena commented.
Jude shot Noah a quick look. Jude knew why Noah was eating so much. He had been anxious about the dinner, so he had eaten a few of his pot candies and now he had the munchies. Jude wondered how he was able to hide it so well.
"Oh, yeah. I didn't really have a chance to eat anything today." Noah said easily.
"So what do your parents do, Noah?" Stef asked.
"Oh, great." Jude thought to himself, "Let the interrogation begin."
"It's just me and my mom." Noah said, "My dad was a soldier. He died in Afghanistan when I was little. Mom's the preacher at our church."
Stef and Lena shared a look.
"Well, we're very sorry about your father." Lena said.
"Don't be." Noah said waving off her apology, "He died doing what was right. Defending our country."
"And your mother… she knows about you and Jude?" Lena asked.
"Yeah, she does." Noah confirmed, "She's happy for me."
Stef and Lena looked surprised at this but Noah did not notice their slight shock.
"Has she met Jude yet?" Lena asked.
"Oh, yeah. He met her yesterday." Noah said, "She doted on him the whole time he was there."
"Well, Moms do love the Judicorn." Mariana said slyly with a smirk.
Jude tensed, and dropped his fork as his patented glare swept over his visage.
"Mariana… lock your door tonight." Jude hissed dangerously, "Because I may smother you in your sleep if you don't."
"Jude…" Stef warned sharply.
Noah turned to Jude with a raised eyebrow.
"Judicorn?" He asked confused.
Jude groaned, and shot a revenge-promising glare at Mariana before turning to Noah.
"It's just a stupid nickname she gave me when I first started living here." Jude answered before turning to glare at Mariana pointedly, "A nickname which she won't let DIE despite my repeated begging for her to do so. A nickname that I hate with a passion."
"It kind of fits, though." Noah said, causing Jude to direct his glare onto him.
"Oh, really?" Jude asked dangerously, "And how so?"
Everybody cringed internally at Jude's tone, and wondered how Noah was going to explain his way out of this one.
"Well, unicorns are pure." Noah said, "They're gentle, but you wouldn't want to anger one and have them charge you because they'd gore you with their horn."
"How does that relate to me, though?" Jude asked impatiently.
"Well from what I've seen, you're pure." Noah explained, "You're gentle, but I've seen you get mad and it's a scary sight. Your temper and your sharp tongue are like your horn. They can cut people down in their tracks."
"… Oh." Jude said dumbfounded, "Okay then…"
"They aren't calling you girly or anything when they say it, Jude." Noah said.
"I know that, it's just… childish." Jude responded.
"The nail polish was more girly than that nickname anyway, bro." Jesus deadpanned.
"Jesus!" Lena scolded.
"The painkillers make me blunt." Jesus said simply, "Can't help it."
"Nail polish?" Noah asked confused.
"It was this thing with my ex." Jude said.
"Connor, right?" Noah assumed.
"Yeah. Connor." Jude confirmed, "When we first met, I wore nail polish to school and got bullied for it. The next day he wore it too, to stand up for me. I've only wore it a couple of times since then and of those times, only one wasn't because of him."
"Sounds like he was a good friend." Noah surmised.
"Yeah, he was." Jude admitted easily, "He was the first friend I ever had."
"I hope I get to meet him someday." Noah said.
"Yeah, that's not going to happen." Jude deadpanned, "He and I have spoken once since the break up, and it was a three message long text conversation during the lockdown. I do miss him, and I hope we can be friends again someday. I don't know how soon that'll be, but it could happen I guess. Might not be tomorrow, but it could happen."
Dinner continued, and afterwards the two boys head up to Jude's room. Jude sat on his bed, while Noah sat in the desk chair. Jude sighed.
"You okay?" Noah asked.
"Yeah, I just… I still miss him." Jude said.
"He was your first love." Noah said, "I get it. It's a hard thing to get over. I was wrecked after my first boyfriend dumped me. It was horrible."
"It's not even us being boyfriends that I miss." Jude continued, "Not really. I miss our friendship more. He was the first real friend I ever had."
After a few minutes silence, Noah spoke up again.
"If you had the chance to get back with him, would you?" He asked.
"Honestly?" Jude asked, "I don't think so. I mean, don't get me wrong. I loved him. I really did, and I know he loved me, but things at the end things just weren't right. We didn't see the problems at the time, but looking back… I don't know. I'm happy where I am now, to be honest. I like being your boyfriend. I don't want to change that."
Noah nodded his understanding.
"Thanks for understanding all this." Jude said, "If there's one thing my family has, it is drama aplenty."
"I don't judge people." Noah said, "You didn't get mad at me when you found out about my medical marijuana card, so I won't judge you for missing your best friend."
"Yeah." Jude said, remembering their first kiss on the bedroom floor of his bedroom as well as his continuing new feud with Callie, "About that… I need to talk to you about something."
"Sure, what's up?" Noah asked.
"Callie found out about it." Jude said carefully, "After Jesus got put in the hospital."
"What!?" Noah blurted alarmed.
"Let me explain." Jude asked, "Please?"
Noah calmed himself and nodded.
"I was worried about Jesus, so I ate some of the candy." Jude confessed, "Callie noticed that I was acting really chilled, and she drew her own conclusions."
"Where did you get the candy from?" Noah asked.
"You left the bag over here that day." Jude told him, "So… I kept it."
"Jude, you should have given it back!" Noah hissed in alarm, "I may use a bit when I want to feel good, but when I DO take some for fun, it's never that much! Three or four is usually enough to last a whole evening! Three or four every hour like you've probably been doing is way too fucking much. I mostly take it because I need it! I have my anxiety to deal with. You don't."
"I know. You're right. I'm sorry." Jude said, and reached into his pocket and extracted the bag to hand back to Noah, "That's why I wanted to give this back. I shouldn't have done it."
Noah examines the bag, still alarmed.
"Jude… this bag was almost full when I last saw it!" Noah choked out, "It's been two weeks, and it's almost empty. Even I don't go through that much in two weeks. How much have you been doing?"
Jude looked down sheepishly.
"That much!?!" Noah squeaked, "Jesus dude, you've gotta stop. If I had known this would happen I never would have offered to let you try it! Hell, I never should have any way! There's a dosage to these things, and you've been eating them like they're candy. I know they look and taste like it but they aren't candy. I know what I'm doing, you don't. You've probably been a zombie for the last two weeks."
"I'm sorry." Jude said softly.
"I hope so." Noah said sternly, "I don't want you doing it again, okay? It was a bad idea to offer you a try in the first place. I thought you just wanted to try it, I didn't know it'd turn you into a pothead."
"I know. I won't do it again, I promise." Jude said finally.
"Good." Noah said after a moment silence, "I think we just had our first argument."
"Ha. Yeah, I guess." Jude agreed softly.
At that moment, Jude's phone buzzed. He pulled it out of his pocket and looked at the screen.
He did a double take, and his jaw dropped slightly.
"Oh, you've gotta be fucking kidding me..." Jude whispered, "From one drama to the next."
"What is it?" Noah asked.
It was a message from Connor.
"Hey. Can I call you?" It read.
Jude stared at it in disbelief for a moment, which caught Noah's attention.
"Jude… What is it?" Noah asked again.
"It's a text from Connor." Jude responded baffled as he typed a response, "He wants to call me."
Jude: What do u need?
Connor: I just want to talk. Please?
No sooner had the final message went through than Jude's phone lit up with a request to FaceTime.
"He's requesting a FaceTime chat." Jude said nervously.
"Jude, just answer it man. How bad can it be?" Noah said exasperatedly.
Jude hesitated, not sure if he could handle seeing Connor's face, but steeled himself and accepted. The first thing Jude noticed about Connor was that his hair was longer. His bangs fell across his forehead. He was sitting in his bedroom on his bed. He was still in his pajamas. The two boys stared at each other for a moment.
"Hey." Connor finally said.
"…Hey." Jude responded.
"It's… it's been too long." Connor said.
"What did you need, Connor?" Jude asked stiffly.
Connor deflated, and ran his hand through his hair. Jude had always joked that Connor resembled an excited puppy when he was happy or excited. At that moment though, Connor look like a puppy who had just been kicked, and Jude couldn't help but feel a little bad about it.
"I owe you an apology." Connor finally said after a moment of uncomfortable silence.
"For what?" Jude asked.
"For not telling you I was in town when I was." Connor said uncomfortably, "I should have told you I was coming, but I blew you off and I'm sorry."
"You're not obligated to tell me anything." Jude responded, his voice still somewhat cold, "You and I broke up. You don't have to see me if you don't want to…"
"I did want to though…" Connor interrupted, "I was going to tell you, but… well, Tim was coming with me, and he thought it'd be a bad idea if I showed up with him in tow. I didn't want to start a fight or something."
"I'm guessing Tim is your new boyfriend." Jude said.
"Yeah…" Connor said, fidgeting under Jude's gaze, "Then I saw the picture you posted on Facebook of you and your new guy, so I figured I'd be the last person you'd want to see. I didn't know I'd hurt your feelings."
Noah snorted in the background, and Jude turned to glare at him slightly. Noah still hadn't entirely let that whole situation go. He may not hold it against Jude very much, but he definitely wasn't going to let him forget about it.
"Was I interrupting something?" Connor asked nervously.
"No, Noah and I were just hanging out." Jude responded, refocusing his attention on his phone, "And how did you find out about my feelings being hurt by that?"
"Well… uh," Connor began, "Taylorcalledmeandyelledatme."
"What?" Jude asked confused.
"*Exhale*, Taylor called me and yelled at me for it." Connor repeated slowly, looking sheepish.
Jude looked supremely amused.
"Normally, I'd be annoyed by her meddling, but I'm too amused right now." Jude said.
"She told me some things too." Connor continued.
"Like what?" Jude asked.
"That Jack was… um…"
"Murdered." Jude finished the sentence for him, "Yeah."
"Yeah, that." Connor said nervously, "She told me about the lockdown. If I'd known that was why you were texting me, I'd have texted back immediately."
"It's fine." Jude said.
"It's really not." Connor disagreed, "You're going through so much, and I added to it by being a dick. I'm sorry. And not just for being an ass, but for ruining everything for us before."
"Don't worry about it, Connor." Jude said with a sigh, "It's in the past, and you didn't ruin everything. It just… didn't work out. It's no one person's fault."
"That's what Tim and Dad keep telling me." Connor said.
"How are things with your dad?" Jude asked.
"He's getting better." Connor said, "Tim doesn't like him very much. Spent most of the time glaring at him when we were there."
Jude snorted, and for the first time during the conversation he smiled.
"He must be a good judge of character." Jude drawled.
"Hey, my dad is trying his best." Connor defended, "I know I said I thought he was never going to change, but he's doing it. He came up to L.A for L.A Pride, which is pretty much a miracle. I won't be moving back in with him any time soon, but he's finally accepting it."
"You're right. I'm sorry." Jude backtracked, "I didn't mean to assume."
"Yes you did." Connor contradicted, "But I understand. He did cause us a lot of trouble."
"Sounds like a small understatement, but close enough." Noah muttered.
Connor turned his eyes to look toward Noah.
"How much has Jude told you about what happened?" Connor asked.
"Your dad banned you from hanging out with Jude because he patted you on the back." Noah listed off, "Tent kiss, fake girlfriend, pinking holding, room kiss, gunshot wound and hospital showdown…"
"So pretty much everything, then?" Connor clarified.
"Yeah. Pretty much everything." Noah confirmed.
"I'm glad." Connor said, "He needs somebody to vent to. Otherwise he keeps it all inside until…"
"…It boils over and he panics and loses his mind." Noah finished the sentence for him, "Yeah, no kidding. Already dealt with that twice already."
"Well, you haven't run away yet, so at least you can handle it." Connor said.
"Thanks? I think?" Noah said.
Connor turned his attention back to Jude.
"He seems cool." Connor said.
"Yeah. He is." Jude agreed with a small smile.
"I'm gonna let you go," Connor said, "Let you get back to him."
"Okay…" Jude said quietly, "Don't be afraid to call again or visit, okay? Don't be a stranger."
"Really?" Connor asked surprised.
"Of course." Jude said, "You were right the night we broke up. We were friends first. You were the first friend I ever had. I don't want to lose that."
Connor's face lit up, all trace of nerves and discomfort gone, once again resembling an overexcited puppy.
"Definitely." Connor said, beaming, "I look forward to meeting Noah in person."
"I look forward to it." Noah said.
With no more preamble, the call ended.
Jude exhaled a shaky breath.
"Well… that went better than expected." He said.
"You okay?" Noah asked.
"Yeah… yeah I am." Jude said.
A silence fell between the two.
"You didn't tell me that your friend was murdered." Noah said quietly.
"I know." Jude said, "The breakup with Connor, and then Jack dying… it all really screwed me up."
"How do you mean?" Noah asked.
"Well… I felt like I was being punished." Jude confessed, "The two boys I'd liked, the two boys I'd kissed were both taken from me within two weeks of each other. It was like God was trying to tell me that he didn't want me to be gay and he was punishing me for it."
"Jude…" Noah said sadly, "God made you the way he meant to make you."
"I know that now." Jude agreed softly, "I listened to what you said that day at youth group. About how you trusted that God would send you the boyfriend you want when the time it right… and the youth group leader was agreeing with you. I'd never seen that before."
"Never seen what?" Noah asked.
"A member of a church that was accepting of gay people." Jude clarified, "It made me feel better for a bit… until I bolted after I realized why Taylor brought me there."
"Yeah… I think that's part of the reason I ate so much of this candy." Jude said as he pointed to the bag in Noah's hand, "Helps me keep my mind off of all the bad things that happened."
"I get not wanting to think about it, but there are other ways to do it. Safer ways." Noah said.
"I know." Jude agreed.
The two sat in silence for a minute before Noah piped up.
"I'm curious… why did you change your mind?" Noah asked, "Why did you come help at the rummage sale?"
"My mom talked some sense into me."
"Which one?" Noah asked.
"The Po Po." Jude snarked teasingly.
Noah snorted and a giggle fit overcame him.
"Yeah, I admit that wasn't one of my best lines." Noah laughed.
"You don't say!" Jude snarked, "Anyway, she said that she would bet a ton of money that god thinks I'm just as amazing and wonderful as she thinks I am. I realized that she was right."
"She's right you know?" Noah said, "You've got your faults, but you're a good guy… Judicorn."
Upon the utterance of the final word, Jude swiveled to levy a glare of apocalyptic proportions upon his boyfriend. Noah stood his ground.
"Noah…" Jude growled warningly.
"Hey, you owe me one for the candy you took." Noah poked teasingly, "The least you can do is let me use the nickname. I won't say it around other people, I promise."
Jude was only able to maintain the glare for perhaps three more seconds before it collapsed into a look of fond exasperation.
"Ugh. Okay, fine. You can use it, but ONLY in private."
"Ha! Victory is mine." Noah cackled.
"You're a dork." Jude deadpanned.
"Never denied it, Judicorn." Noah said.
Jude simply rolled his eyes.