He closed his eyes again. He was hallucinating.
All right, there's not a day that passed without him thinking about this person. He was always in his prayers.
But it couldn't be.
When Lake opened his eyes again, it was confirmed. The tall and well-built figure standing in the doorway with quizzical brown eyes was indeed Rush Braylen. The man he had admired for as long as he could remember, was standing in front of him.
The man was smiling widely at him.
He can't even say his name.
"Why, Lakey, you've grown up! What took you so long? Did you know that I've been waiting for you here for hours?" Rush said in a flash without stopping.
Lake just continued staring at Rush. His cerulean eyes were wide with surprise. His mouth was even slightly parted.
"You might catch flies." Rush teased.
He immediately closed his mouth. He felt his face getting hot with embarrassment.
"W-What are you d-doing h-here?" He finally uttered.
"I thought your stuttering had long been gone? Why are you stuttering again now? Don't tell me.." Rush's grin was mischievous.
Lake was about to enter the house but Rush blocked his way.
"I see that you're still a walk-out prince until now. Didn't you missed me, Lake?" Rush asked with a smile still plastered on his face.
Lake can't do anything but to stay in his place. Like before, he leaned his head down. Rush's question struck him.
"Now, tell me, what took you so long to get back home? Where did you go?" Rush's smile was replaced by his furrowed eyebrows.
"I just went somewhere," Lake answered timidly.
"Next time, don't stay out at this late hour of the night. You know that it's not safe." Rush warned him like a big brother.
"Go inside now. We don't want Aunt Leina to wake up and see that you just arrived. We will talk some other time." Rush gave way to him, but not before surprising him with a lingering peck on the forehead.
He just stood frozen, even after Rush walked out the door. Instead of closing it, he turned and followed Rush with his eyes.
"By the way, you could at least say 'goodnight'." Rush said smiling and turning to face him again, walking backward.
Rush had long been gone but Lake was still standing by the door. He still can't believe that the man standing in front of him a while ago was none other than Rush.
He just decided to finally move his feet towards his room when he remembered that his mom might come down and see him.
Gosh, he looks bigger than life, he thought while lying on his bed. He looks good. He is more handsome than ever. He looks like a person who knows what he wants and knows how to get it. He looks..
Lake let out a deep breath.
He looked like Rush as he had envisioned him to be.. successful, fulfilled, a man of the world.
He remembered what Lottie used to tell him before. "What are you gonna do now, big brother? It looks like Rush is already successful in the States while you still don't know what it is that you really want to do. How will Rush like you?"
"I'm sure Rush prefers someone who is successful like him. I heard from Aunt Reena that a lot of boys and girls in the States are pinning for him."
"Lottie, you don't have to say that to me. I don't fancy Rush. You're the only person who thinks that way." That's what he usually defends to Lottie.
She will just raise her eyebrow at him. He knows that she doesn't believe him.
Well, it's true. He will never be good enough for Rush. The man had gone so far.
Lake hugged Mr. Ted. "He didn't like me then, he won't like me now," he sadly said to the stuffed toy that had been with him since he was three years old.
Lake had admired Rush from a young age even though he always teases him. He doesn't know why his admiration towards the older boy did not disappear. Maybe because he can see in his brown eyes the concern he has for him even though he annoys him.
Rush would always give him chocolates and candies, although he tells him that it was to straighten his speech.
There was still a part of him that wouldn't give up on believing that Rush cared for him. That he really cared for him.
He already loves Rush even before the older boy went to New York. That's why Rush's departure caused immense sadness for him.
In all honesty, the two of them never had a serious conversation. He can't even call him a friend. But just knowing that Rush was there for him gives him a sense of calmness. Just seeing Rush makes him happy. And he's fine even with just that.
When Rush went away, Lake felt like he lost a best friend.
They hadn't seen each other for ten years. When Rush went back to London after graduating from college, he was at Harvard already and studying.
When it was time for Lake to go back to London after getting his MBA, Rush went back to New York to accept a position offered to him by a famous engineering firm.
Rush was a civil engineer by profession. Aunt Reena said that Rush had always been fascinated with roads and bridges and dams. Then as years passed, his growing preoccupation with physics and mathematics led him to take up Civil Engineering in college.
Lake knows almost everything about Rush because he never let any news about him pass by.
He knew Rush had fought his way up to have his own consultancy firm based overseas. It was slowly gaining a good reputation which was why the man spent more of his time overseas.
Rush goes to different places. His firm was so successful that his consultancy firm had three branches by now: one in New York, another in Canada, and a recently opened branch in Singapore.
"You see, Mr. Ted, he had gone so far now. It's impossible for me to reach him."
Why haven't I changed? He scolded himself. How can I fall in love with a man at thirteen and never really change?
Of course, he had changed, he quickly amended himself. He's not stuttering now. He was the head of the financing department of one of the biggest companies in London. And finally, an opportunity had finally knocked on his door for him to finally show his talent in painting.
Not enough though, said the other part of his brain.
But it was true. His so-called achievements were nothing compared to Rush's.
He loved Rush since he was thirteen, yes. But he expected those feelings to disappear when he left because then, he won't see him always. But it never happened. He had never really gotten over him.
That's why he was so shocked when he saw him again. Rush did say he was grown-up but he told it in such a way that it made him feel as if he could never grow up enough for him.
Yes, you're right, Rush. I have grown up. Only you don't know just how much. Oh, why did you have to come home? When I don't have anything to be proud of yet? How will I cope with you around?