By Tim Mead
It was Wednesday. Dan and Arnie were crossing one of the campus quads on their way to The Cougar for a late-afternoon beer. Most of the leaves had fallen, dotting the green of the grass with speckles of red, yellow, orange, rust, and brown.
"Man," Arnie said, "it's good to see this sunshine after all the rain yesterday and Monday."
Dan, who had put on a sweatshirt that morning but hadn't thought he'd need a jacket, replied, "Cold, though. Damn sun isn't heating things up much."
"Wimp! You boys from Southern Ohio don't know what cold is. Wait'll you've experienced a real Northern Ohio winter!"
"It gets a lot colder than this in Cincinnati. I just should have brought along a hoodie or something."
Arnie nudged him with his elbow. "I still say you're a wimp."
A few minutes later as they approached the entrance to the popular student hangout, someone stepped in front of Dan, literally confronting him.
"Whoa, dude," Dan said, stopping and taking a step backward. The guy was too close, in his personal space.
When he saw the hair and the face, he knew who it was, though he'd never seen the guy before. The similarity between this guy and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters was striking. So this was Nicole's boyfriend, Gage something or other. Bonds. That was it, Gage Bonds.
He was three inches taller than Dan and outweighed him by about fifteen pounds.
"You're Cole, right?" the guy sneered.
"Yeah. Now back off, man. You got a problem?"
"You're the problem, short stuff. You're tryin' to mess with my girlfriend."
"You've got a girlfriend?"
"Yeah. Nicole Fischer. She's mine, but you're tryin' to move in on her."
"Wrong! Nicole and I are friends. We're lab partners and we have a beer together after lab a couple of times a week. That's all there is between us."
"So you say. I think there's more goin' on than that. She talks about you all the time, Dan this and Danny that! Makes me wanna puke!"
"He told you they're only friends, dude," Arnie said. "Why don't you just chill?"
"Stay out of this, dude. I don't have any issues with you."
"You don't really have an issue with me, either, Bonds."
If Gage had any reaction to Dan's calling him by name, he didn't let on. Maybe, Dan thought, he's just the kind of guy who assumes everyone knows him.
"I'm not going to quit being Nicki's friend because you're jealous. But, like I said, we're not, um, romantically involved."
"That's not the way it sounds to me."
"Look . . . ," Arnie started to say.
Bonds pushed against Arnie's face with his open palm, catching him by surprise and throwing him back against a nearby wall. Then he turned, his fist cocked, and lunged at Dan.
In an instant, Bonds was on the sidewalk, face down. Dan was sitting on his back, butt to butt actually, pushing Bonds' hand up between his shoulder blades.
"Fuck, you bastard, that hurts! You're gonna break my fuckin' arm!"
"I could. But right now all I want is your attention." Dan gave the arm a little push, to reinforce his point.
Bonds yelped, but he shut up.
"Listen to me, fucker," Dan said quietly. "There are a couple of things about me Nicki obviously didn't tell you. One is that I used to be a professional MMA fighter, not somebody you want to mess with."
He gave the twisted arm another push.
"Ow! Okay, okay!"
Dan looked up at Arnie and winked. His friend grinned back.
"The other thing she didn't tell you is that I'm gay. She and I are friends, but I'm not interested in her sexually. I have to say, though, I can't imagine what she sees in an asshole like you."
Bonds started to say something, but shut up quickly when Dan applied more pressure to the arm.
"So here's what I want you to think about. Look where you are. Look what position you're in. You were gonna take a swing at me? Make me let your girl alone? But instead, a gay guy smaller than you has you on the ground. And I can do it again any time I have to. So when I let go, you're gonna get up and get the fuck out of my sight. Got that?"
"Ow, fuck! Yeah, I got it."
By that time a half a dozen people had gathered around to see what was going on. They laughed and applauded when Dan got up and stood back. Bonds beat a quick, silent retreat, and it was all over.
Inside The Cougar, Arnie lifted his beer bottle in salute and said, "Dan the Man!"
Instead of tapping his bottle against Arnie's, Dan clasped his hands together on the table separating them.
"I've never done anything like that before."
"Put a guy on the ground?"
"Never outside the ring."
"Must be nice to know you can."
"You don't think I over-reacted?"
"No way! Seems to me you stayed cool. He tried to clock you. All you did was embarrass him. Asshole had it coming"
"Oh, nothing. It's just that Casey calls me `Cool.' Since my last name's Cole, he thought that would have been a good fighting nickname for me, `Cool Cole.'"
"Cool Cole. I like it."
Dan took a swig of his beer. "I'm surprised Bonds didn't have some friends with him."
"Maybe he didn't expect to run into you today."
"That. Or else he thought he could handle me without help."
"Suppose he'll round up his posse and come lookin' for you?"
"I hope not. I can deal with him, but I'm not eager to get beat up by a bunch of guys."
"You think he has friends?"
Dan chuckled. "With that personality?"
"Your friend Nicole likes him."
"Well, he does look good. But she doesn't like him so much these days. Says he's possessive."
"She got that right!" Arnie took a swallow of beer, set the bottle down, and continued, "How do you think she'll react to you humiliating her boyfriend?"
"Shit! I didn't think of that. I just wanted him to back off. When he wouldn't, when he tried to swing at me, I just reacted automatically. And I didn't really hurt him."
"Except his pride."
Dan grinned. "Well, he did need to be taken down a peg, didn't he?"
"Yeah. Just hope Nicole agrees, or you may have lost a friend."
"I hear ya."
When they had finished their beer and were getting ready to leave the bar, Arnie asked, "Are we gonna do something Friday night?"
"What are you doing Saturday? Are you going to the game?"
The Cougars were playing arch-rivals Toledo in Toledo that weekend, the last game of the season.
"My social calendar is distressingly free," Arnie said, grinning. "But what about your regular Saturday night lay? Aren't you and Caldwell doin' your regular thang?"
"No. Basically he patted me on the butt, thanked me, and said he didn't need me any more."
"In that case, let's do something. I'll call you."
Dan worked most of that evening on a paper due before Thanksgiving. Then he emailed his parents, deleted a couple of missives that had somehow made it through his spam filter, and shut down the PC.
He wandered into the kitchen, poured himself a glass of milk, picked up a cookie jar full of chocolate chip cookies Casey's grandmother had sent, and went to the living room. He was watching the 11:00 news, Urijah lying beside him on the sofa, not begging exactly, but alert to the possibility of a shared cookie, when Casey came in.
"Hey, man! You look beat!"
"I am beat." Casey came to the sofa, scooted the cat to the floor, and sat down. He untied and removed his shoes, and put his feet on the battered coffee table that didn't match the other tables in the room. Wiggling his toes, he said, "And my feet are killing me."
"I suppose you've been on them for the last six hours?"
"That would be a yes."
"Where'd those shoes come from?"
Casey took a cookie from the jar and bit into it.
"When I was bussing, I could get away with black sneakers."
Dan knew that, having seen Casey wearing them every time he went to or came home from work.
"But now that I'm waiting tables," Casey continued, "Adrian insists on dressy leather shoes."
"I can see that. But where'd you get `em?"
"I was bitching about the cost of a new pair of shoes to Skip, one of the other waiters. He let me borrow these until I could shop for a pair. But they don't fit right."
Dan handed the half-empty glass of milk to Casey. Then he stood, straddled Casey's legs, and said, "Pull your knees up a minute."
When Casey did that, Dan sat on the coffee table. Then he took Casey's feet in his lap.
"What are you doing, Dan?"
"Finish the milk and give me the glass."
Dan set the glass on the table.
"Now, relax. I'm gonna massage your feet."
"You don't have to do that. They probably smell."
"They don't smell. And they feel cold."
"Yeah, it's stayed clear, and it's getting pretty chilly out there."
As Dan began to dig his thumbs into the sole of Casey's left foot, Casey moaned, "Oh, man! That's nice." He put his head back. "Really nice."
Urijah climbed into Casey's lap, curled up, and began to purr.
"Ouch! Dammit, cat! We've got to do something about your claws!" He lifted the cat off his lap and put him on the cushion where Dan had been sitting. "Sorry, bud. Please don't stop what you're doing. At least, if you want to . . . ."
Dan continued to rub Casey's feet. Casey had closed his eyes and Dan thought he'd gone to sleep until the sports guy on the news announced that it was doubtful whether CSU's quarterback would play against Toledo due to an injury received in practice."
"Man, that's tough for Overstreet," Casey said. "I thought we had a good chance of beating them this year."
"So did a lot of people. But maybe not now."
It was quiet after that. Casey closed his eyes again, and Dan kept massaging. As he did, his eyes wandered up his friend's body. The black dress pants were not a snug fit, but they didn't hide Casey's boner, which was pointing toward his right hip bone and tenting them.
His own dick responded, but it was trapped in his boxers. He didn't want to disturb Casey, but he was going to have to stand to rearrange things.
Just then, Casey opened his eyes.
"That's awesome, Cool, but I'm about to go to sleep."
He took first one foot and then the other from Dan's lap and set them on the floor. Then he stood, held out his hands to Dan, and pulled him up.
"Can I have a hug, roomie?"
"You're a good guy, Danny. I don't think I've told you that, have I?"
Dan was pretty sure he was blushing. "Well, no, but . . . ."
Casey grinned. "But what?"
"We're pretty good friends, aren't we? I mean, we get along okay and all."
"Yeah. We're good friends. Thanks for the foot rub."
"You've got to get new shoes, Case."
"Truth! Whenever I have time to shop. Now, I'm gonna crash. See ya in the morning."
Casey went to his bedroom, Urijah following. The door closed. A few minutes later, it opened again, and Casey's hand deposited the cat outside, closing the door behind him.
A pissed off looking Urijah jumped onto the sofa next to Dan, who watched Jay Leno's monolog before rinsing out the glass, turning out the lights, and going to his room.
Urijah made no attempt to follow him.
Dan lay awake longer than usual. He thought back to the afternoon's confrontation with Gage, wondering how Nicole would react when she heard. And then he thought about Casey.
He knew his roomie sometimes went to Seth's apartment for a while after work. Dan was usually in bed before Casey came back downstairs, but he seldom went to sleep until he heard his friend come in. Casey and Seth occasionally went out together on Sunday mornings. Dan had been curious, wondering where they were going, what they were doing. But he didn't want to pry. Casey was a great one for privacy.
Remembering the recent foot rubbing, he recalled as well Casey's stiffie. Nice! And what was the hug all about? Casey had never been physically demonstrative around Dan.
He had to take care of his importunate cock before he could get to sleep.
In lab the next afternoon and at The Cougar later, everything with Nicole seemed perfectly normal. Dan wondered if she had seen or talked on the phone with Gage Bonds. If so, Gage had apparently said nothing to her about their run-in the day before. There had been a half a dozen or so witnesses to the event, all of them college students, so far as he could tell, so it was likely that word would get back to Nicki eventually. He wondered if he should tell her before she heard it from someone else. He couldn't think how to do that without seeming to brag about what he had done to her boyfriend, however, so, despite some misgivings, he said nothing.
Since he and Arnie didn't have plans for Friday night, Dan was at loose ends. Arnie had called him that afternoon and they'd decided to meet for supper the next night and then see what happened. Dan knew there would be a crowd at Nellie's and The Cougar as there always was on Saturday nights. He knew there would be parties on fraternity row. But he suspected he and Arnie would wind up going to a movie.
Using leftover steak, he made up a pot of vegetable beef soup, thinking he'd have some for his supper and put the rest in the fridge for another time – or for Casey if he wanted it.
There was a Friday night football game which he watched for a while, but it was a Big East game in which he had little interest. Then he found an hour of UFC reruns, which he watched. He made it through the 11:00 news and was watching the beginning of Letterman when Casey came home.
"How are the feet tonight?" he asked.
Casey grinned. "Much better, now that I have shoes that fit. They're not as comfortable as sneaks, but at least my feet don't slide around in them."
"So you don't need a foot massage?"
"No, thanks, Cool. That could get to be a habit, and I don't want to impose."
"No imposition. Honest."
"Thanks, but I think I'll just crash."
"Okay, then. Night."
Casey went toward his room, Urijah following behind, tail in the air.
"Don't even think about it, cat!" Casey said. Urijah turned and stalked off toward the kitchen.
Why does the cat like Casey so much better than me? Dan wondered. And where's Casey been? He usually gets away from the restaurant by 10:30.
The Letterman show was a rerun, so he flicked it off, turned out the lights, and went to his bedroom.
As he lay in bed, he was thinking of the sex he and Arnie would no doubt be having the next night. He wondered whether Arnie was getting it on with someone else tonight. Not that that was a problem. They were, after all, at best only fuck buddies.
As he drifted off to sleep, however, his mind saw blurry images of the guy in the next room.
"You know," Dan said, "he doesn't need to brag the next morning about who he's taken to bed."
He and Arnie had had supper, gone to an early and totally forgettable movie, and then, following habit, found themselves at Nellie's. They'd been watching Bernie Caldwell from across the room.
"What you mean?"
"All anybody has to do is watch him here. He spots the meat he wants, cuts him out of the herd, and takes him home. Everyone knows what they'll do when they get there."
"True. I hadn't thought of it that way. Still, he does tend to talk about it the next day."
"I haven't heard anything about that since the . . . um, intervention."
"He's not a bad guy, you know."
Dan looked at the beer bottle and grimaced. "I really don't enjoy this stuff."
"Then why do you drink it?"
"Oh, haven't I told you about that? I like wine better, or gin and tonic, even. But the mixed drinks are too potent. I don't want to have to be carried home. And wine just doesn't seem appropriate in a tavern."
"Fuck, man! You're in a gay bar. You should drink what you like! It's not like you're effeminate."
"I guess you're right. Are you ready to go?"
Arnie's smile was, as always, dazzling. "Dude, I been ready!"
Later, in Dan's bed.
"I'm about to cum, man."
"Go for it!"
"I want to shoot my load on your face. You down with that?"
Dan grinned. "Kinky! But yeah, do it!"
Arnie pulled out, stripped off the condom, which he tossed carelessly on the floor, and moved forward. A few rapid tugs later he shot his load, depositing it in thick white streams.
"Good aim," Dan said, licking his lips.
"Man, that's so hot. I've wanted to do that ever since I saw the picture of Caldwell with two guys' loads on his face."
"You aren't planning to take a picture of me, are you?" Dan asked.
"No, man. Here's what I'm gonna do."
Arnie bent down and licked up all the semen, which he then deposited in Dan's mouth. They passed it back and forth, each keeping some to swallow.
"What about you, dude? You must be ready."
Dan grinned. "Man, I been ready."
Chuckling, Arnie scooted back and took Dan's hard cock in his mouth.
Before long Arnie's talents had Dan right at the edge. He said, "I wanna see my white stuff on your face."
"Is that a racist thing?" Arnie asked, trying not to smile.
"Nope. It's aesthetic. A study in contrast. Now, let me up."
So they changed positions, Arnie lying on his back, Dan over him while he jerked off.
He didn't shoot as big a load as Arnie had, but he loved the way his white spunk looked against his friend's dark skin.
"I'd love to have a picture of that!"
"No way in hell is that gonna happen, white boy!"
Dan remained there, straddling Arnie, smiling down at his friend's face.
"Okay, you've perved long enough. Now clean me up."
So they repeated the process they'd used minutes before.
Arnie wasn't a snuggler, but he also wasn't one of those guys who want to jump out of bed and go home the minute they've come.
The two were lying side by side, hands clasped behind their heads.
"What're you thinking?" Dan asked.
"I was wondering if you'd want to do it again. It's not late, and tomorrow's Sunday."
"You got pretty rambunctious, stud. I'm still kind of tender back there. But if you're volunteering that beautiful black ass, I think I can get up for it."
Arnie rolled onto his side, facing Dan. He brushed his fingertips over Dan's chest.
"Don't be pissed, okay?"
"I'm just not a bottom."
"Is there something wrong with my technique? Have I hurt you?"
"No, man. You're not listening. The problem's not with you. I just don't like to bottom."
"My turn to ask. Is it a racial thing?"
"No. At least, I don't think so." Arnie continued to stroke Dan's chest and abs.
Dan grabbed Arnie's hand and removed it.
"You're distracting me, and this is a discussion I want us to have."
"You got food?"
So they got up, pulled on their boxers, and went to the kitchen. Dan wished Arnie would wear white briefs. He thought they'd make a beautiful contrast with the mahogany skin.
"Cookies and milk okay?" Dan asked.
"You got peanut butter? I crave peanut butter."
"On crackers or bread?"
"Bread. I need a peanut butter sandwich."
So they fixed sandwiches. Dan put grape jelly on his, but Arnie, claiming to be a purist, merely slathered a thick layer of p.b. on a piece of bread and folded it over.
"So," Dan said, after he'd swallowed his first bite, "back to you being a top."
"Yeah. I think it's a mental thing. I admit I enjoy a prostate massage, but I just don't dig offering up my butt for any guy's dick."
"You think bottoming is demeaning?"
Arnie swallowed a bite of sandwich and washed it down with milk.
"Maybe. I dunno. I don't think the worse of you when I'm fucking you. It's just . . . oh, fuck! I'm not sure."
"You know what?"
"I know a guy who's cute, who's underneath the crap a nice guy, and he's a really fine bottom."
"Oh, shit. You mean Caldwell?"
"Yeah. Seems to me you two are made for each other."
"Hey, you've fucked him. How was it?"
Arnie finished his sandwich and wiped his hands on a paper napkin.
"Awesome, actually. I was so pissed at him when he gave everybody a blow-by-blow account the next day I guess I forgot how good he is.
Dan grinned. "No pun intended."
"Oh." Arnie grinned back at him.
"Well, think about it. If you can help him keep his promise to be discreet about his sexual activities, he may be just the fuck bud you need."
"Where does that leave us?"
"You know, I used to think I hated being the bottom. Since coming to Colby, though, mostly due to you, I've learned that it can be pretty nice. But I'm never gonna be exclusively a bottom."
"So we still friends?"
"Hey, there's still a lot of ways to have sex. Rimming, frotting, 69."
"Good. `Cause I still like that tight little bod of yours."
Arnie rinsed his glass and plate and put them in the dishwasher. Then he went into the bedroom, where he dressed.
At the door, he kissed Dan lightly, and said, "You right. Lots of ways we can mess around together. See you in class."
"Yeah, on Monday. We don't have class on Wednesday, remember. It's the day before Thanksgiving."
"Like I'd forget that."
Dan was watching SNL when Casey came in. Urijah came from Casey's bedroom and rubbed against Casey's leg.
"You're a little later than usual, aren't you?" Dan asked.
Casey scooped up the cat and sat beside Dan on the sofa.
"Yes, Mother! I've been upstairs with Seth for a while."
"Oh. Sorry. Didn't mean to pry."
"It's okay. Was Caldwell here? It smells like sex."
"Now who's prying?"
Casey grinned. "Touché."
Returning the grin, Dan said, "For your information, Arnie was here."
"Oh, your schedule's off kilter then. Isn't he your Friday night fuck?"
Dan sighed. "I guess not any more."
"And I'm not supposed to ask what's happened?"
"Do you care?"
"Of course. You know I care about you."
"Yeah, sorry. I do know that. Arnie is looking for a total bottom. I told him he should go find Bernie Caldwell."
"Interesting. So you're a top?"
"Strange we've never had this conversation. But the answer is that I'm versatile. And intend to stay that way."
Dan did see Arnie in class on Monday. They spoke briefly afterward.
"I know you have another class coming up, but I just wanted to ask if we're okay."
Arnie smiled, showing lots of teeth. "Yeah, Dan, I think you're hot as fuck! Besides, after seein' what you did to that Gage dude, I don't wanna get on your bad side."
"No worries. You're one of the good guys. So, have a good Thanksgiving, and I'll see ya next week."
They bumped fists and went their separate ways.
In lab on Tuesday afternoon, something was different about Nicole. Dan couldn't put his finger on what it was. He thought perhaps he was imagining things, expecting her to be different if she'd heard what transpired between him and Gage the previous week.
"Got time for a beer, or are you too busy, with the holiday coming and all?"
For the first time that afternoon, she smiled. "Sure. I count on spending some time with you twice a week."
Nevertheless, she seemed quiet as they walked to The Cougar.
Once they were inside, Dan said, "I'm gonna have a glass of wine. Will that embarrass you?"
She giggled. "Not at all. I'll be the guy and have beer."
They got their drinks and found a table.
"You seemed quiet this afternoon."
She looked into his eyes and asked, "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Don't fuck with me, Danny! About you and Gage."
"What did he tell you?"
She huffed. "I wish you wouldn't answer my questions with questions."
"Okay. He got in my face. Told me you were his girl and I should stay away from you."
"I've been afraid he'd do something like that. So what did you say?"
"I told him you and I were just friends and there was nothing romantic between us."
"Did he accept that?"
"No, he took a swing at me."
"He hit you?" She looked shocked.
"No, he tried. But then he wound up on the sidewalk with me on top."
"You hit him?"
Dan grinned. "No. I just used a maneuver from MMA, kind of a trip/throw combination. And then I straddled him and shoved his fist up between his shoulder blades."
Dan could have sworn Nicole was trying to suppress a grin.
"And then what happened."
"I told him that he didn't need to worry about you and me because I was gay."
"And then I also pointed out that he'd been put on the ground by a gay guy who's smaller than he is."
By this time Nicole was smiling broadly.
"Good for you, Danny!"
"You aren't pissed at me?"
"No. He got what he deserved. I've dumped him."
"I'd think that's obvious."
"Well, I hope it wasn't because I used my skills to embarrass him. That might have been all he needed to change his attitude."
"You're sweet to think that, but you're wrong. Gage never mentioned to me what happened between the two of you. I heard about it from someone who was there that afternoon. But the day after it happened he practically ordered me not to see you any more. He said he didn't want his girlfriend to be seen hanging around with any fucking queer. So I told him to take a hike."
"I'm sorry, Nicki."
"You don't have anything to be sorry about. I'm better off without him. And I think I want another beer to celebrate getting rid of the jerk."
So they had seconds. And thirds.
She hugged him on the sidewalk before they separated.
Dan was feeling pretty mellow as he walked back to the apartment.
When he got inside the door, Urijah came out of Casey's bedroom and began rubbing against Dan's legs. He knelt to pet the cat.
"You're gonna have a big adventure this week, big fella. You're goin' to Cleveland!"
Dan used the bathroom and came back to sit on the sofa. Casey was usually home on Tuesday evenings, but he was filling in for a waiter who had gotten an early start for Chicago where he was spending the holiday with his girlfriend, a student at Northwestern.
Adrian always closed the restaurant on Thanksgiving and the evening before, so Casey was planning to drive to Cleveland on Wednesday afternoon to spend Thanksgiving with his grandmother. He was taking Urijah along. He would be back on Friday to work the supper shift.
He had invited Dan to come with him to meet his grandmother. Dan had reluctantly refused, saying that he'd decided to come out to his parents and didn't want to put it off.
His parents, he knew, had gay friends in the music and arts community in and around Cincinnati. But he wasn't sure how they'd react to learning their only son was gay. Would they be upset to learn he'd never give them grandkids? Of course gay couples could adopt in some areas. But Dan didn't know how he felt about doing that. It seemed a long way down the road before he would be on his own and could settle down with some guy.
He sighed. Whatever their reaction might be, it was better to tell his folks and get it over with.
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