13: “It’s fucking dawn and she’s delighted”

Ward’s friends liked Tre the best out of all the people he had ever dated. Ward knew this for a fact partially because he could tell by the way they acted around him, but mostly because they had all expressly told him this on several occasions.

“He’s way too good for you,” was what Dylan said.

“Oh, one hundred per cent,” Bill agreed.

“I think I actually might like Tre more than I like you,” Griffin added.

“Oh, one hundred per cent,” Bill said again.

Ward had met Tre at the gym. He tended to meet a lot of people at the gym. It was becoming a little complicated, if he was being honest. He’d either have to stop meeting people at the gym or join a new gym. He was seriously considering the latter because the former seemed impossible.

“Yeah, that’s not the case at all,” Bill said when Ward told him this. “It is definitely possible not to meet people at the gym. I haven’t ever met anyone at the gym.”

“Yes, but I’ve seen what you look like when you work out and that makes sense to me,” Ward returned. Bill gave him a very unimpressed look.

When he and Tre had first met, Ward had been dating two other people and, determined not to make it three, had decided they would just be friends.

“It’s just very time-consuming, you know?” Ward had said to his friends at the time.

“No, I do not know,” had been Bill’s response. “Look at me. Do I look like the kind of person who knows that?”

“That’s a very good point,” Griffin had snorted.

“In Bill’s defense, that’s not something you know either,” Luke had told Griffin dryly, rolling his eyes. “Maybe Godfrey could know that, but he isn’t a dick.”

That was a very pointed dig at Ward. Godfrey snapped his fingers and pointed at Luke.

Despite Ward’s best efforts and intentions, he did end up dating Tre. But he never fully committed himself. As he explained to Tre, he didn’t do monogamy. Tre had claimed to be fine with this, but Ward wasn’t so convinced that was actually the case. The longer their relationship went on, the more obvious it became that Tre wanted to be exclusive. But as Ward had already very explicitly told Tre what he was capable of offering him, he never brought it up for fear of having to endure an uncomfortable and emotional conversation. Ward continued to see other people, he continued to pretend that Tre was doing the same, and everything was fine.

One Sunday morning, Ward and Tre went out for brunch with some of Ward’s friends. Tre had stayed over the night before and Ward had made his brunch plans weeks previously. It was something Godfrey made them all do every other month or so. They would treat Luke as a kind of thank you for all the times he cooked for them. It was quite a nice sentiment. Ward wasn’t sure how much Luke enjoyed it, though. He probably would’ve said something earlier, but he liked to see Luke squirm. Luke more likely would’ve enjoyed being left alone at home with Gus, but Godfrey was kind-hearted and, despite his acerbic attitude, Luke was at heart a nice person as well so he went along with it so as not to insult Godfrey.

This time, Ward and Tre met up with Luke, Dylan, Bill, and Godfrey at a small cafe that sold French food. There were croissants on every table. Ward wasn’t upset about that. He loved pastry. But, also at one of the tables, was Lilah, the one-night stand he’d had a few weeks previously. She grinned at him the moment she saw him. He smiled back, hoping that would be the end of it, and took a seat at the table with the rest of his friends. But it wasn’t the end of it. Lilah got up and came over to talk to him. She looked very nice. She was wearing a white pencil skirt and a black silk blouse. She had done her hair, which was more than Ward could say for some of his friends. Dylan looked like he’d slept in a forest, his head shoved into a badger den.

“Hey!” She greeted Ward brightly. Then she turned to smile at the rest of the table, which was polite, but ultimately terrible. Tre was already eyeing her suspiciously, which made Ward feel guilty, like he’d done something he shouldn’t have, even though he hadn’t. 

“How are you?” Ward replied and she told him all about how she was out for brunch with her parents, who were visiting for the week. She chatted away brightly and obliviously for quite a long time. She slyly mentioned their evening together and promise to do it again soon before she wrote her phone number on his paper napkin and returned to her own table. No one said anything for a long time after she’d gone.

“She seems nice,” Godfrey said eventually, breaking the rather tense silence.

“Very friendly,” Bill added.

“Yeah, how do you know her?” Tre asked, even though he clearly already knew the answer. Everybody already knew the answer. Ward didn’t want to have that imminent conversation at all, least of all at brunch with his friends present.

“She’s not that great,” Luke cut in, looking down at the menu. “She’s way too chipper. It’s fucking dawn and she’s delighted.”

Ward couldn’t tell if Luke’s comment hurt or helped his case.

“It’s ten o’clock in the morning,” Bill pointed out, frowning at Luke.

“Ass crack of dawn on a fucking Sunday,” was Luke’s charming response.

“I thought she was very nice,” Tre cut in so Ward gathered Luke’s observations had not helped him.

After brunch, Ward and Tre left the others and walked toward Tre’s apartment in silence. They were halfway there before Ward said anything.

“I did tell you—” he began.

“You don’t have to defend yourself,” Tre cut him off, for which Ward was both grateful and apprehensive. “I shouldn’t have said anything. She does seem nice. I meant that. Although, I do agree with Luke and she was way too happy for a Sunday morning brunch with her parents. I’m so angry when I have brunch with my parents. It usually involves my mother asking me if I’m making better money yet and listening to my dad slurp coffee, so maybe her parents are less irritating than mine.”

“My dad chomps bananas,” Ward after a moment. “It’s the loudest thing he eats.”

“How is that even possible? Bananas are a very soft food.”

“I know,” Ward said sadly. “I know.”

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