Max could sense it even during his sermon that he'd embarrassed Chris completely. Of course, it felt like a collision course afterwards. And Mrs. Reinhart had insisted that Chris come along for lunch. Naturally, Chris sat there as if he were on trial, barely touching his soup and pulling his roll apart in bits to eat.
Max kept looking at him, but Chris kept his eyes cast down as if he might be in a foreign country ready for an execution.
"Really? Was it that God awful now?" Max wanted to know on the way home.
"No, of course not." Chris would barely say as much even in the pickup truck with him.
"Are you ill?" Max wondered by the time they got home.
"I've just been thinking," Chris squinted, doing his best to get out of the tie with no luck. Max loosened it up and got it off him.
"What?" Max couldn't help but smile.
"No, its not about that," Chris' teeth clinched, "Its not about me being jealous and wishing I had you all to myself every minute of the day!" He stomped away then.
Chris had to get the jacket off. Even the shirt. He wanted out of this outfit. And Max was sure by the way he acted, he might never wear a suit again.
"What is it?" Max was baffled. Everything was perfect, wasn't it? "I'm not trying to change you," he said once Chris climbed into some jeans and pulled on one of his favorite old t-shirts that barely had the Beastie Boys logo still on it. "Its just, I wanted you to feel more comfortable there. That's all. I didn't mean-"
"I don't care about the suit." But he went and hung the dark suit back in the closet as if it were proper and part of a work day.
"Then what did I do?" Max found himself following him now. "I'm sorry I told everyone where I lived, but I had to. Didn't I? It was best to just say it, and-"
"But its still a lie, though. That's what this is!" He was in a huff as he walked away again. Chris picked up an apple from the bowl on the dining room table. Max thought he might throw it at him, but he bit into it instead.
"Its not a lie," Max winced. "That's not what this is." He did not believe that. What was he supposed to do - advertise their relationship in the bulletin? Nobody wanted to see anyone hugging and kissing on anyone, straight or not. Especially at church. He was sure there were a lot secrets there that no one shared. Maybe Mrs. Olsen was actually in love with Mrs. Reinhart. They both had to be in their eighties. It would be something they would never know and Max wasn't going to go out of his way and ask, "Are you in love with anyone, Mrs. Olsen?"
"Maybe this was the way it was when you were with someone else," Chris swallowed the bite of apple then. He sighed then as if he didn't want to know, but it was mandatory that he ask. He kept frowning as if he was going to digress that he wasn't good enough for Max.
"Someone else?" Max almost laughed at him then. "What?"
"You never said, but you wouldn't know those things, now would you? If you hadn't, you know, some one to show you-"
"I don't know what you want to hear?" Max bit his bottom lip and winced almost into tears. "Yes, there were parties I went to, people I knew in college, but I never had it in me to go through with anything. I suppose there were a few almost moments. But it didn't happen!" Max shook his head, "Don't you get it, I'm pretty much a prick." He smiled. "Nobody was ever good enough for me. Really. I was pretty much in love with myself for the most part. Who out there could deserve this? Huh? Lots of pretty fellows in those circles. Old men with money. I didn't want to end up like them." He sighed wanting to bite his tongue so he'd shut up, but he went on. "I really thought I was over any chance of ever finding anyone. I have to say I prided in myself in that. That I would not be of this world." He smirked. "And then you come along and change all that! You are so not like me. I don't know how you've survived any of this like you have. I just know there has to be a God, looking down on you. There was just this purpose I didn't know it was there until I found you. And every-time I look at you, I'm thankful that I know you, that you let me in." Max thought he might crumbled. "You know I love you!"
"I know, but there isn't anything else you want to tell me?" Chris gave him a cold stare. "Like a kid you might have in Argentina or where-ever."
"No." Max smiled at him. "Is this settled then?"
"I guess," Chris handed him over the hard apple he'd bitten into. Max took a bite out of it and smiled.