Rachel was hosting a birthday party for her friend Zoe at her apartment and she invited Luke to come. Luke was under no misconceptions regarding the invitation. He did not foolishly think she had invited him because of any wish to see him specifically. He had most definitely been asked for the express purpose of being the necessary link between Rachel, and subsequently Zoe, and Godfrey, possibly even Dylan. Rachel and her friends didn’t have many male friends, which was generally fine, but also largely meant that there wasn’t a large pool of viable romantic candidates at their disposal. When Rachel and Luke had begun dating, Rachel had actually said it was great because he had so many single friends that he could bring with him to any occasion. This was clearly just an extension of that.
Zoe was interested in Godfrey. That was very evident. And Godfrey was interested in Zoe. So naturally, when Luke told his roommates that he had been invited to Zoe’s birthday party by Rachel, Godfrey immediately decreed that the three of them would be attending.
“But I don’t want to go,” Luke said futilely. Ultimately he knew it wouldn’t make a difference, but he liked to voice his complaints so that at least there was a verbal record of it.
“No, no, you have to,” Godfrey returned firmly. “It will be weird if I go without you. You owe me.”
“For what?” Luke demanded indignantly.
“I can’t think of anything specifically, but I’m sure it’s true,” Godfrey answered. He was probably right so Luke didn’t bother arguing further.
Rachel’s apartment was small. Zoe’s party was large. Luke hated it instantly upon setting foot inside. There were so many people there, most of them women. They all started to blur together as they moved throughout the crowd to find a modicum of open space for the three of them to occupy. They had just situated themselves in a free corner when they were swarmed by women. Luke wasn’t deluded enough to think any of them were there for him, though they did politely offer introductions, as if Luke would be able to remember which of them was Sarah, Meghan, Megan, Maegan, or Nicole. The Megans posed a particularly difficult challenge because, as they were all averagely built, pretty, brunette white women, it was near impossible to tell them apart. The only apparent difference between any of them was the spelling of their names. Unless they started toting around name tags, Luke would be at a loss for as long as he knew them. And he’d actually met them all before.
“I didn’t catch any of their names,” Dylan said as the first wave of women moved along to get more of the white wine sangria Rachel had provided, leaving room that would inevitably be filled by another string of women momentarily. “I’m just going to assume that all of them were named Megan.”
“Pretty close,” Luke told him.
“Good thing every single one of them is here for Godfrey,” Dylan added. It was absolutely true. Godfrey was incredibly alluring to a lot of people. Luke understood and he’d grown to accept it. There was a time in his life when he’d been jealous of that, but no longer. He’d come to terms with it.
Later in the evening, Luke bumped into Rachel outside of the one bathroom, something he had been trying to avoid all night. All things considered, it had been a pretty futile exercise, given the size of the apartment and the fact that it belonged to Rachel in the first place. There was very little chance that he would’ve been able to avoid bumping into her. Sooner or later, he would bump into everyone inside the apartment. People were pressed up against the walls; that’s how small it was.
“Oh, hello,” Rachel greeted him, righting herself. Someone else slipped into the bathroom behind her so Luke lost his chance. He was irritated by that.
“Hi,” he returned, just as flatly. He still didn’t think she had any right to be so upset when she saw him. For one thing, she had invited him to her home that evening; it wasn’t as if he had shown up uninvited and unwanted. Although, he supposed he probably was unwanted, but even that wasn’t his fault. She had dumped him. If anything, he should be upset with her.
“I saw you getting cozy with the love of your life earlier,” Rachel said, nodding her head toward Dylan, still crammed in the corner of the living room where Luke had left him.
“He is not the love of my life and we were not getting cozy,” he retorted, rolling his eyes exasperatedly. “Your apartment can comfortably hold, like, eight people and there are at least forty here right now. I am so close to you. I think I’m currently closer to you now than I ever was during the majority of our romantic relationship.”
“Yeah, that’s not a great sign,” Rachel pointed out. It was a difficult point to argue because technically she was right. At the same time, however, he did feel that his original point still stood.
“Yes, well, that’s true, but I’m still not in love with Dylan,” Luke returned. She didn’t look like she believed him at all.
The following morning, Luke exited his bedroom to find Ward sitting at the kitchen table by himself. Godfrey had given him a spare key a couple months previously so that he could water the plants while the three of them were out of town for the weekend and apparently Ward had kept it, presumably so that he could break into their apartment in the early hours of weekend mornings and sit at their kitchen table like a weirdo.
“Why do people keep telling me I’m in love with Dylan?” Luke asked Ward seemingly without context, still frustrated with the events from the previous night. He hadn’t stopped thinking about it.
“Are you asking me this because I’m your only gay friend?” Ward asked, leaning back in the kitchen chair, one eyebrow raised underneath the gold frame of his outlandishly flashy glasses.
“No, I’m asking you because you’re in my home,” Luke returned. “You weren’t invited and I assume it’s for food, which you would like me to make for you so I’d say you’re pretty much at my mercy here.”
“Ah yes, well in that case,” Ward said, relaxing slightly. “Technically, I’m not gay. I’m pansexual.”
“Yes yes, I know,” Luke rolled his eyes, having heard the explanation many times over the course of their friendship.
“Also, I would like some French toast, maybe a poached egg if you’re offering,” Ward said, slipping it in quickly before Luke, who was not in fact offering, could protest. “You could date Dylan. He’s pretty good-looking. Might actually be easier for you.”
“Certainly at least in proximity,” Luke agreed dryly, moving about the kitchen to start on making some French toast and a poached egg despite himself. His friends knew him too well; all of them took great advantage of his love of cooking.
“I could help you out, if you wanted,” Ward said thoughtfully.
“I do not want,” Luke replied instantly.
“I could be like your gay guardian angel,” Ward continued, undeterred by any of Luke’s actual wants or wishes it seemed.
“I thought you were pansexual.”
“You know what I mean,” Ward waved a hand dismissively. Luke sighed deeply, wanting above else to be able to poison the poached egg he was making.
“Regrettably, I do.”