CHAPTER 11 – Zayden And His Grandmother

When Enzo’s Mazda 6 drives into Earl’s Hall car park lot, it is already past midnight. Stepping out of the car, Joey jumps a little when he sees a figure sitting on a motorbike gets up.

Looks like you had a fun celebration. My turn to celebrate for you.” Comes a familiar manly baritone voice.

Joey squints his eyes and when the dark shadow walks under the lamppost, he sees a handsome bad boy face – Ryker.

Enzo locks his car doors, and positions himself in between Joey and Ryker. He turns to look at Joey; “Do you want me to walk you to your room?”

Joey smiles gratefully at Enzo and says, “Ryker did tell me earlier he wants to spend some time with me after the celebration so I will be fine.”

Enzo nods then turn back to look at Ryker, “Send him back safely. We know where to find you.”

Ryker reaches out for Joey’s hands, “Shall we?”

Joey can’t hide his shyness and embarrassment at Ryker’s gesture. He lets out a nervous laugh, “Where are we going?”

Looking at Joey with his piercing eyes and steely gaze, he smiles; “Just a drive to enjoy the night.” then turns to give a naughty wink at Enzo.

Joey follows Ryker to his Ducati 916 while Enzo makes his way to Earl’s Hall.

Ryker is about to help Joey with the helmet when Joey stops him, “I can put on myself.”

Don’t be shy. I must make sure you are wearing the helmet properly and correctly.” Ryker insists and not waiting for further response, he puts on the helmet for Joey.

Ryker and Joey then go for a spin, racing through the empty highway and along the way, Ryker grabs Joey’s hands to place them around his waist.

Sending Joey back to Earl’s Hall in the wee hours, Ryker insists of walking Joey to his room.

Before they bid farewell at the doorstep, Ryker playfully pinches Joey’s nose; “Sweet dreams my boy. Just so you know, I am going to court you from now on.”

Joey feels his heart racing after closing the door and lost in thoughts before he hears, “Can you hear me? Are you all right?

Looking at the direction of the voice, Joey sees Lukas sitting up from his bed.

Huh? What did you say?” Joey regains his composure.

I said congratulations on your double wins tonight. I did not get to talk to you backstage earlier.” says Lukas.

The first school day after the performance night, all the campus forums and gossips are concentrated on the faculty of Arts and Social Sciences history rewriting moment and of course Hank’s declaration to Enzo.

Enzo bas been mercilessly teased by his classmates the whole morning and Maximus and Titus continue to make fun of him during lunch while Zayden is nowhere to be seen.

The canteen turns into a hysterical wolf whistles and screams when Hank walks in with Joey towards the three of them.

He is here!”

“You are the man!”

“Faggots!”

“Is he walking towards Enzo? I can’t breathe!” are some of the more audible comments Hank and Joey heard on their way.

Enzo gets up and wants to make a beeline for the other direction but is pulled back by Titus.

Face him like a man whether you are sold on his declaration or not.” Titus demands.

Sitting down beside Enzo, Hank pinches a piece of the fried chicken from Enzo’s unfinished plate.

Enzo gives him a stare, “Don’t you ever asked?”

I did asked you to accept me and I am still waiting for an answer.” Hank replies with a wink.

Trying to refute the somewhat terse situation, Joey asks, “Zayden is not with you guys?”

You really do miss him a lot eh?” Maximus teases.

Quit it Max. One blossoming couple is enough for us, don’t create more confusion.” Titus snaps.

He turns to Joey and says, “He is taking the week off to attend to personal matters.” Joey nods.

At the end of the day, Hank drives over to the faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Seeing Enzo walking out of the building lobby, he runs over to him; “Hey darling, let’s go for dinner.”

Enzo is taken back when he sees Hank, “Why are you here? Go look for Joey and don’t disturb me.” Enzo says and quickly runs to his car. He slams the car door shut before Hank can stop it.

Enzo proceeds to drive off and Hank follows behind him all the way from the campus to the nearby mall.

After getting out of his car, Enzo continues to ignore Hank who runs after him after parking his car.

Both of them are walking towards the lift lobby to get into the mall when a group of masked men appear out of nowhere.

As quickly as they appear, the group swings their baseball bats on both Hank and Enzo.

Unable to react in time, Enzo is hit first on his back. Hank’s fast reflexes ducks the first blow and when he sees Enzo falling to the ground in pain, he uses his arm to block a second wave at Enzo.

Hank hears a cracked sound on his arm after blocking the swing at Enzo, following which another person hits him on his head.

The group start to kick both Hank and Enzo but stop and flee when a group of security guards come rushing sounding their whistles.

Joey rushes to the hospital when he receives the call from Hank telling him he is hospitalized and warns him not to inform his parents.

When he opens the door to the single bed ward, he sees Hank’s head on bandage and one arm on a cast.

Hank’s first words when he sees Joey, “Dear, can you help me find out which ward Enzo is in and help me there? I will fill you in the story on the way.”

Wheeling Hank to Enzo’s ward, Joey is horrified to hear the series of events from Hank.

Who could have done that and why?” Joey asks.

Some homophobics I guess. They were shouting faggots at us and insulting us to be a disgrace to the school.” Hank says calmly.

Enzo is resting on his bed with Maximus sitting beside when Joey wheels Hank into the four-bedder ward.

Maximus gets up and help Joey to wheel Hank, he says gratefully, “Hey buddy, thank you for protecting my little boy. He told me everything.”

Enzo wakes up, seeing Hank in the wheelchair, he looks both concerned and guilty at the same time.

Before he can say anything, Hank asks, “Are you okay? Have the doctor perform a scan on your injury yet? If not, I will get one to do so immediately.”

I am fine. Thank you for shielding me.” Hank places his index finger on Enzo’s lips to stop him from saying further.

I am very sorry I am the cause for the attack. I just want to make sure you are ok. Don’t talk too much and rest as much as possible.” Hank says in an extremely gentle tone that surprises even Joey.

After wheeling Hank back to his ward, Hank starts to get frisky and keeps pestering Joey to make arrangements to transfer him to the same ward as Enzo.

There are no empty beds in his ward and he needs to rest without you bothering him.” Joey turns him down flatly.

Joey stays with Hank till the end of the visiting hours, stepping out of the ward and making a turn at the corner, he bumps into Zayden who is coming out of another one-bedder ward.

Both of them are surprised to see each other and ask the same question at the same time, “What are you doing here?” before breaking into a faint smile.

Joey fills Zayden in on both Hank and Enzo, and it is the first time Joey sees Zayden’s icy cool demeanor gives in to controlled look of anger. “I will go look at Enzo tomorrow. It’s getting late, I will drive you home.”

It’s fine, I can make my own... Joey hasn’t finished his sentence and has to catch up with Zayden who has already starts to walk to the lift.

Walking silently behind the strapping Zayden towards his BMW M8 Coupe, Joey keeps admiring Zayden’s ridiculously muscular back and shoulder and bumps into him when he stops in his tracks in front of his car.

Joey almost falls on his back but Zayden holds on to him in time, “Why do I keep creating accidents to you?” Zayden mutters and Joey feels his face turns red.

On the journey from the hospital to Earl’s Hall, Joey musters his courage to ask Zayden why he is at the hospital as well.

My grandmother.” comes Zayden’s short reply.

Hank is not in his ward when Joey visits him the next evening, walking over to Enzo’s ward, Joey has the instinct he will find Hank there.

True enough, Hank is fussing over Enzo who seems to start to get irritated when Joey walks into the ward.

After making small talks, Joey tells Enzo he met Zayden at the hospital last night and Zayden will be dropping by to see him.

Yeah I know, he texted me last night after dropping you off. Seems like his grandmother is not doing too well.” Enzo says.

Joey can’t control his curiosity and starts asking Enzo more and more questions about Zayden.

Zayden’s parents divorced when he was 6 so he lived with his grandmother since. He is extremely close to his grandmother as his grandmother is his sole caretaker so he sees her as his mother.” Enzo shares.

“Before that, Zayden was taken care of by a nanny when he was 4. Even when Zayden moves out to live on his own at 18, he visits his grandmother every weekends; way more frequent than he meets his parents and their families.” Enzo continues.

It must be a very tough time for him now.” Joey says with a worried tone.