"What?" Luke shouted incredulously, grabbing Mario by the upper arms with no little force. Mario calmly withstood the rough handling as if he'd been expecting it. And he probably had. Because even though Mario had a passionate, volatile temperament, the whole scene so far seemed carefully planned and staged. Which meant that the usually impulsive Mario had been thinking about this for a long time.
Luke let him go, sighing in frustration. His older companion had chosen the absolute best place to avoid a confrontation, the team sports locker room at The Valley Rec Centre, the huge community sports complex where they both were members. And they were surrounded by dozens of their peers, none of whom knew Luke Briscoe and Mario Santos had a relationship that went well beyond workout partners and teammates.
"How can you do this here?" he hissed under his breath. Shock and fear of discovery roiled in his gut as he tried to regain his composure, then another thought popped into his head. "Wait a minute. What about the team?"
"Sorry, chulo." Mario gave an elegant shrug. "I think it is best that we have a clean break."
"Mario, we need to talk about this," Luke whispered urgently. "You can't just walk away from the team like this. We're defending our title this year. Football season starts in a week!"
Mario smiled sadly. "Ah, yes. The team first, si? This is why it must be this way."
"No, not the team first. But the team is all I'm going to discuss in the fucking locker room." Luke couldn't believe this was happening while he was half-dressed. He turned back to his bag to grab his jock, then hesitated, reluctant to strip in front of his apparently now former lover.
"Go ahead, Luke." Mario actually sounded amused. Asshole. "I won't look." He winked and sat on the bench, facing pointedly away from Luke. It was only then he noticed Mario hadn't brought his own gym bag into the locker room. Realising Mario was dead serious about this, he silently collapsed to the bench next to the other man.
"Why?" he asked quietly, wishing he knew what to say to make this all go away. "Why now? Why at all?"
Mario huffed. "Don't you know, Luke? I haven't exactly been reticent in my displeasure lately." This petulant tone of voice was familiar at least, which made Luke strangely more comfortable with the discussion.
"It's not like I hide you from the world," Luke protested, arguing one of Mario's most repetitive complaints of late. "But the guys here are not going to be as accepting as the public in general."
Mario rolled his dark eyes in his typical dramatic fashion. "Please. The whole point is that... Get dressed, you're going to be late." He grabbed the jock dangling from Luke's fingers and slapped it at his chest with hardly a pause in his speech. "...is that we are here all the time. All. The. Time." He punctuated this with pokes to Luke's arm. Luke didn't move and Mario sighed. "Fine. I shouldn't have started this here. But I thought it would give you a chance to rearrange the roster, or at least start thinking about it during practice. Plus you can tell the guys today that I'm off the team."