Good Guys Don’t Date Bad Boys Ch. 37

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Chapter Thirty-Seven – Clean Up Your Act, Rusty Parker!

Hey, hey, Sunny Hill, are you ready for another episode of the biggest drama on campus? Just put your textbooks down for a moment, because we have news for you! No, it’s not starting to rain men on the streets of our beloved campus, but it sure does rain hurt feelings and whatnot.

Did any of you ever think you would see Jonathan Hamilton’s cool facade break? The perfect gentleman act appears to have been long forgotten… Oh, Jonathan… Desperation is so not a good look on you… And it surely doesn’t go with any of your four-hundred-dollar sweaters!

We now have confirmation that Jonathan and our king Rusty Parker really played the horizontal cha-cha behind Maddox Kingsley’s back. As you all know by now, Maddox dropped his so-called boyfriend like a hot potato the moment he learned – from us, of course – that he had been taken for a fool by Cold Beauty himself…

…and also by his best friend for life. But maybe we should scratch that last bit from that title, there is no ‘for life’ anymore, and we doubt that Maddox and Rusty are even simple friends at the moment. We get it, Maddox, we get it. Rusty should have stuck to that old maxim. Bros before hoes, right?

In the wake of all this drama happening right here, at the heart of Sunny Hill, you would expect things to die down by now, to see Jonathan Hamilton walking hand in hand with Rusty Parker, and for Maddox to return to the loving arms of his female adorers.

But no, these boys just won’t let us put our pens down! (figuratively speaking, of course). Rusty seems to have lost all interest in Jonathan, as he does with all his conquests. Did you think you could keep the notorious sex beast all to yourself, Jonathan? It appears you’re not that special, no matter what Maddox may have told you. You should have stuck with the guy who appreciated you.

Desperation was, without a doubt, too strong a word, Jonathan wanted to believe. To the outside world, at least, his only attempts to try to get Maddox to talk to him had been a few chance encounters around campus. The magnifying glass under which they were being put, however, intensified everything else, especially perspective, hence the new piece in Xpress.

From the last row, he examined the back of Maddox’s head, while the same bad feelings kept roiling in his gut. At least, one of them wasn’t in the plethora of sentiments assaulting him at the moment, and that was regret for having ever gotten together with Maddox in the first place. He had expected that one to hit him first, but there was nothing like that. This time, he couldn’t blame it all on someone else, and, in a strange way, that made him feel like he had some semblance of control over the situation. Yes, Maddox’s words still hurt each time he remembered them and, yes, Maddox was unfair to think of him as a cheater, but despite all that, Jonathan understood on a deep level why his former boyfriend had reacted the way he had. If given the chance, Jonathan would apologize until he was red in the face, but Maddox’s cold stare had been enough to make the words die on his lips. That and, of course, Maddox had walked away every time, leaving him standing there like an idiot, talking to the empty air.

In the midst of all that, there was also someone else hurting, and Jonathan couldn’t risk reaching out to him. The rumor mill had enough fodder as it was, and if it wanted someone to churn so badly, let it be him. Rusty had steered clear of him, as well, probably because he didn’t want to feed Xpress any more stupid reasons to assume that there was something going on between them.

Ray had found the problematic sweater almost perfectly folded and packaged in a paper bag outside their dorm room with a single note. Too nice for me. Jonathan hadn’t said a word, and Ray hadn’t asked, and the sweater had ended up, paper bag and note, at the back of a drawer. If things ever got back to normal, Jonathan planned on convincing Rusty that he should still take the sweater.

Each one of them tried to deal with the aftermath in his own way. Maddox by ignoring him, and probably Rusty as well, he, Jonathan, by trying to get Maddox to listen, and Rusty… well, he didn’t know what Rusty was doing, but it was a good bet that feeling miserable was high on the list. During Thanksgiving break, he had caught a glimpse of Rusty that wasn’t anything like the persona everyone else thought they knew, and that glimpse told Jonathan that the chances were that Maddox’s best friend was suffering just as much as he was, if not more.

The professor called them at the end of the class and praised them on an excellent project. Maddox stood a good foot away from him and didn’t spare him a glance. Jonathan felt the now familiar ache all over and accepted the praises in a mechanical, barely polite way. When Maddox moved away, his feet forced him to follow, but only for a couple of steps. Through sheer willpower, he stopped himself. Let Xpress figure out what else they could invent about a story they obviously hoped to keep rus escort going for months if he no longer acted desperately in public.

On the inside, desperation was the name of the game, indeed. In the dim past, he had thought himself in love with Drew, but those pale feelings were nothing compared to the scorching heat that threatened to engulf him whole each time he thought of Maddox and what they had used to have.

It was in the light of those feelings that he couldn’t bring himself to hate Maddox for ignoring him, not even a little. After all, it was a measure of how serious Maddox had been about their relationship. If Maddox hadn’t cared at all about being lied to…

There was no point in dwelling on what-ifs, not with finals knocking at the door. Jonathan waited for a couple more minutes until he was certain Maddox was long gone, and he wouldn’t risk bumping into him.


One week later and it still hurt exactly the same way. There was not one sign that the pain in his chest would fade. Maddox was already getting used to tossing and turning all night long. It didn’t help that the world at Sunny Hill was so small compared to the one outside. That meant that stumbling upon Jonathan was inevitable, and just seeing him opened the same can of worms over and over.

He couldn’t stand the fact that Jonathan appeared so hurt when he looked at him. What right did he have to feel anything like that? Maddox closed his fists and cleared his head. Was love supposed to hurt like this? Damn, it sounded like a cheesy song. And he had finals to worry about, anyway, not how attractive Jonathan’s face looked, even all filled with shadows like that. All it took was for him to close his eyes and remember the same face, inches from his, their heads lying on the same pillow.

Dex and Kane barely paid him any attention when he came inside. They had tried to get him to change his mind and ‘see reason’ — their words, not his — for days, but eventually, they had started to give him a wide berth since they needed to study like everyone else. He still felt their questioning eyes on him, and the atmosphere in the house was getting tense. He hadn’t planned on breaking up with his friends, too, but if they couldn’t be on his side, then so be it.

There was, of course, another particular problem that didn’t want to go away, or better said, a particular someone. Maddox pursed his lips when he saw Rusty sitting on the floor by his bedroom door, looking like a kicked dog. If anything, the guy was resilient. Dex had mumbled something about having to drag Rusty from there and into his bed on more than one occasion. Clearly, everyone was getting a bit fed up with all the drama.

Xpress wouldn’t let things cool down, either. Maddox assumed that, in due time, the gossip rag would find something else to chew and spit, but so far, no luck. It wasn’t because it hurt his pride; in the past, if someone had asked him how he would feel under such circumstances, he would have said something along the lines of ‘mad as hell’ on the basis of wounded pride, but that wasn’t it.

He just wanted them to stop already, and especially to quit picking on Jonathan. The guy was again being ostracized by most people, not that he was the type to care, but it felt unfair. Maddox didn’t need to ingratiate himself to most people, either, these days, so that made two pariahs out of them, not just one. His own condition was by choice; Jonathan’s wasn’t.

Throughout all of this he had expected to start regretting ever having gotten involved with someone like that. It had been for the first time in his life, even. Yet, those feelings of regret never came. No, the most torturous part of it all was that he remembered all the good things so clearly. They hadn’t been together long enough, probably, so that they had bad things to remember. And that made it all the more unbearable. There was nothing to focus on; not even little pet peeves, like if either of them had the nasty habit of picking his nose, or leaving dirty socks everywhere, or loudly snoring, or anything. They had had only the perfect part of a relationship, or so it seemed. And that was the part that warranted all the regrets.

“You should just stop,” he told Rusty, the first words he had addressed to him in many days.

Rusty raised his head. “I’ll stop if you listen.”

He looked like warmed over shit, so something inside Maddox moved a little. “All right.”

“Really?” Rusty’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.

“Don’t make me change my mind. Get inside, say what you need to say, and get over it.”

Rusty didn’t say another word and followed him inside. Maddox sat at his desk, but left Rusty standing. His friend — oh, no, his former friend — began pacing the floor.

“Are you going to wear a new pattern in my carpet or are you going to start talking?”

“Right.” Rusty stopped abruptly and turned to face Maddox.

By now, he should have been used to Rusty’s antics, but the complicated look the green eyes threw at yenimahalle escort him was enough to make him feel uncomfortable. “What?” he asked, letting it come out more aggressively than he intended.

“I didn’t go to my dad’s for Thanksgiving,” Rusty began.

Maddox sighed. “Figures. It’s a bit too late to tell me that, don’t you think?”

Rusty grinned, and Maddox caught himself as he was about to do the same. It was too easy to like Rusty. It was almost unfair.

“So why didn’t you go?” he asked, deciding that since Rusty was there, it was better to get everything clear once and for all.

“Because he’s a douche, his new family sucks, and his new wife makes the shittiest pie ever,” Rusty replied promptly.

Seven years later and Rusty still called his dad’s current family the new one. Maddox felt slightly ill. To think that he had always taken his family for granted and even fought with them the last time they were together. He skimmed over the reason; he wouldn’t go there, not right now.

“So? Was it that hard to tell me? I was supposed to be your best friend,” Maddox pointed out. This was, by far, the most serious conversation he had ever had with Rusty, or maybe with anyone else their age.

“No.” Rusty shook his head. “But you have this awesome family, and I didn’t want you to pity me.”

Jonathan had told him as much. Maddox looked away, feeling a bit guilty. Annoyed at his own reaction, he tried to muster something of the anger he had felt all week. The problem with it was that it was growing thinner and thinner.

“All right,” he mumbled. “That still didn’t give you the right to…” He couldn’t bring himself to make the same accusations again. Kane had told him that he was starting to look ridiculous. Maddox knew his friend was right, but he wasn’t at all ready to let go of his righteous anger. He had been lied to, for fuck’s sake.

“Thing is,” Rusty continued, “Jonathan found something out about me, something secret. By mistake.”

“That you actually like him?” Maddox asked, working his jaw. “By the way, I told him I have nothing against you two being together if that’s what you both want.”

Rusty rubbed his head, making his hair an even bigger rat’s nest than it was before, if such a thing was possible. Then he groaned in frustration. “It was nothing like that.”

“What was it, then?” Maddox crossed his arms. He had a feeling that crossing his arms would make him look even more like he had the upper hand in this. And the right to be angry, of course. “You’re Rusty Parker. You don’t have secrets. You flaunt your kinks for the world to see. If there wasn’t the risk of getting arrested for indecent exposure, you’d drag your naked balls over each bench on campus. In the middle of the day.”

Rusty smirked. “Yeah, I’d totally do that.”

“So, the only secret I can think of is that you–“

“I can sing!” Rusty blurted out all of a sudden and then, much to Maddox’s surprise, he ran to the opposite corner of the room and started banging his head against the wall.

“Rusty, you can’t sing for shit. You can’t even handle karaoke. Stop making shit up,” Maddox said, rolling his eyes. It wasn’t right that it felt so normal to talk to Rusty. He had committed the unforgivable sin, even if Maddox’s confidence in that particular part of the story in Xpress was starting to shake more and more.

Rusty groaned and banged his head a few more times. Then, something happened.

Maddox stared at his friend’s back, as… the most astonishing sounds began to pour out of him. It was some kind of song, sure, not the kind he listened to as a college kid, or anyone else he knew, and it came out of Rusty?

He jumped from his chair and walked over to Rusty. He grabbed him and made him turn to face him. Next, he started searching Rusty for the hidden source of the music. Rusty just raised his arms and did a full turn while Maddox searched all his pockets for his phone. No, it really came out of Rusty’s mouth, so Maddox took a couple of steps back, completely stunned. “What the fuck, dude? Did you swallow some opera singer?”

Rusty stopped and began laughing. “You said ‘swallow’.”

Maddox rolled his eyes and then punched him in the shoulder. “For real? I don’t believe you. Do it again.”

Rusty grinned from ear to ear and then raised one hand while he began another aria, something that sounded warm and wonderful, and made Maddox believe that he had never really listened to music the right way before.

“You’re totally fucking with me,” Maddox murmured and stared at his friend like he was seeing him for the first time in his life. “How don’t I know about this?”

Rusty dropped his hand and stopped. “Because I kept it a secret. That’s why.”

“And Jonathan found out? How?”

“I was in the music room, thinking I had the entire place to myself. Jonathan just walked in. And he said ‘bravo’,” Rusty added with pride. “You know, the way they do at the opera house, while they applaud.”

Maddox had no idea what people did when they went to watch operas live. But Jonathan would, of course. That was the world he came from, even though he never really said a lot about it. Too astonished by the recent revelations, he went back to his chair and sat down. He scratched his head. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Rusty sighed and sat on the floor, crossing his legs. “My dad always said singing like this was for fags.”

Maddox almost bit his tongue at the offensive word.

Rusty caught his reaction right away. “Sorry. His words, not mine.”

Maddox waved. “Don’t worry about that. I’m starting to get more and more why you think the guy’s a douche.”

“Thing is, I stopped. I picked up sports and became good at it. I started chasing chicks, you know, the whole thing.”

“For his sake?” Maddox asked.

“He still left,” Rusty replied. “And it was for my sake, too. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for all that, right?” There was something crooked in the way he smiled. Maddox wasn’t sure he completely agreed.

“You’re, like, awesome,” Maddox commented. “I mean, I know exactly nada about opera, but you sound like a freaking pro. At least like some winner on a talent show.”

The compliment seemed to hit Rusty in the right spot, because he kept smiling, and his features relaxed. “Before you say anything else, I made Jonathan promise to keep it a secret. And, um,” he added and ran his hands through his hair, trying to make it behave to no avail, “when you called, I took him by surprise and told him not to say that I was there. I didn’t give him much choice. He’s not to blame,” Rusty said and looked down guiltily.

Maddox sighed. “You both lied to me.”

“Yeah,” Rusty admitted, “but I’m the one you should be mad at.”

“I’m mad at you all right.”

“I know. I want to make it up to you. Any chores you want, I’ll do them.”

“Like what chores?”

“You know, making the bed, all that.”

Maddox threw a pensive look around his room. He wasn’t some neat freak, but there was little he could find to give Rusty to do, even if he wanted to. “Tell me more about your time with Jonathan,” he said while his eyes remained glued to the bookshelf. There was something that irked him a little, but he didn’t dwell on it as Rusty continued to talk.

“I forced him to cook my turkey,” Rusty said.

“Is that some weird kink?” Maddox made a face.

“No, I had a turkey and I put Jonathan in charge. He roasted it whole.” Rusty gestured with his arms. “And I ate most of it.”

“Did you eat a whole turkey?” Maddox didn’t exactly doubt it given the legendary capacity of Rusty’s stomach, but still.

“Over a few days. And I’m sure Jonathan hid some from me.”

Maddox sighed. Kane was right. Rusty and Jonathan had discovered that they were the only people on campus and just spent Thanksgiving together. It wasn’t a crime. But Maddox still wanted to hang on to the feeling of anger that had tortured him all week. And surely, Jonathan could cook, and Rusty could eat.

“He made me eat some veggies,” Rusty said with a disgusted face. “Although they were like the best veggies I’ve ever had.”

“Yeah. He’s good at that,” Maddox admitted. “Still, how the hell did you end up in his sweater? And why did you keep it?”

Rusty sighed. “I was in my crocs.”

“Your crocs?”

“The pink ones,” Rusty added.

Maddox rubbed his forehead. “Outside?”

“Yeah. Jonathan said I was a nutso–“

“He didn’t. Jonathan doesn’t talk like that,” Maddox corrected him.

“And then he gave me socks and a sweater. That sweater,” Rusty explained. “I should have given it back at the time. I knew it was too nice for me, but Jonathan insisted that I should keep it. I shouldn’t have kept it after.”

That was like Jonathan all right. Maddox felt a bit stupid and petty for all of his reproaches. “Don’t you still have it?”

“I left it by Jonathan’s dorm room door. I hope no one stole it,” Rusty said. “I mean, it’s like a legendary item right now.”

And that was like Rusty. Maddox felt more and more appeased. “Still,” he decided to throw his last card on the table, “you cleaned up your room for him. Or did he clean it for you?” All right, good thing Kane wasn’t present or he would be rolling his eyes so much right now.

“Jonathan was never in my room,” Rusty said. “After that first drop on Xpress, I kinda got a wakeup call, though. I mean, they said some things–“

“Mean things,” Maddox argued.

Rusty shook his head. “True things. So, as much as I hate those bastards right now, I just thought, you know. Clean up your act, Rusty Parker.”

“Ah, I see. No wonder you offered to help me clean my room, too.” Maddox’s eyes wandered again to the neatly ordered rows of books.

“He slept in your room,” Rusty said without being asked. “It was the only way to keep me away from that turkey. Do you believe me, Maddox?”

Maddox stood up and began to search for the thing that kept bothering him. He liked to keep his books neat, and there was one that stood out from the rest, slightly out of line. “I think I do,” he murmured. That had to be the reason why he had thought his sheets smelled like Jonathan, right after their big fight. The night before Jonathan hadn’t slept there, and the sheets had been washed right before the holiday, so…

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