Disclaimer: The following story is a work of fiction. If you are offended by descriptions of homosexual acts or man/man relations, please exit this page.

Cultural Exchange

I arrived at London Heathrow still a little dazed by the whole situation. It Wasn't just another stamp in my passport, no, this time it was different Seeing I'm not even finished with school yet, and expected to live alone in The UK for a year to take part in a cultural exchange. Was I by any means? Ready for it? I wondered a lot on the 11 hour flight if I had made the right Decision, but no matter what conclusion I came to, I comforted myself in the Thought that I didn't need to worry about it anymore. The decision had been Made, and now, there was no turning back. I had to deal with it.

I didn't even get a chance to tour London a little, seeing I had to start College the very next day and wasn't even in my apartment yet. Things were Going so fast, and being a shy kind of person, I struggled to cope with the All constant change. It seemed to be the little things that just build up. Things like people struggling to understand your accent, or just giving you The occasional odd look when you tried to pay them in the wrong currency. I Was having my very own baptism of fire. I genuine swim or sink situation.

I arrived in my new apartment approximately 5 hours later, exhausted. I Looked around a little, and was generally quite happy with what I saw. I was Grateful that there was already furniture in here, because quite simply, I Wouldn't be willing to get my own just for a year! Despite my exhaustion I Couldn't go to sleep yet however, because I still had to go shopping and get Some food, soap, and the usual stuff you would need to run a household. I Was now on my own and nobody was going to get all of it if I wasn't. Luckily For me, I was only a short walk away from a large, sort of "get it all under One roof", store called Tesco. I got everything that I felt I would need to Survive for a few days, and headed on home.

I got in, packed everything away and headed straight for the shower. The Feeling of warm water over my body just helped to make me forget everything I had been stressing about earlier and just relax. I remember thinking to Myself as I soaped up that I was really going to look a little odd, being Tanned in a country where almost nobody ever really is, especially in Winter. I hurried to finish, then dried off and headed straight for bed. There was no need to get dressed because I always slept naked, and now that I lived alone I had nothing to worry about. I got in under the thick, soft Covers and just dozed off to sleep, not even properly dry from my shower.

I woke up later that afternoon to chat to some of my friends on MSN. Its Funny how I missed them, even after the first day. I guess it was just the Knowing that I wasn't going to see them again anytime soon... not that I Hadn't seen them for a very long time. I had precious few that I trusted. Trusted enough to tell them about my being gay, something of which not even My parents knew anything. I talked to them, mainly Kyle, till they all had To go. I tried not to think about it a lot, but I knew I was upset. Not so Much by feeling it, because I had been suppressing it, but because I was Running my fingers through my soft, thick brown hair. I always ran my Fingers through my hair gently when I was upset, or thinking very hard about Something I was emotional about. Its something I have been doing ever since I was a child, and people that knew me well could easily tell when I was Upset because of it, most of the times in spite of my best efforts to hide It.

I knew that eventually my emotions would catch up with me, and there was Nothing I could do to stop it. The only thing I could do was make sure I was Alone, preferably at home, when I lost the upper hand over them. "Isolation Can really eat away at a person's soul. You should never feel isolated -- Remember I'm just a phone call away". I kept hearing those words in my mind. They echoed again, and again. I decided to go to sleep to get them out of my Mind. To forget -- it would be my escape. I slowly started to fall asleep, Thinking of Kyle's last words to me before I went through Immigration at the Airport. I lie in my bed, in a foreign country, alone, sighing, thinking of My best friend. One thing was sure though, no matter how bad it got I Promised myself to keep an open mind, and not be negative about this Exchange year. I was told it would be bad at the start, but no amount of Words can prepare you for the real thing...

I woke up early the next morning and started to get ready, slowly but Surely. I wanted to look my best because first impressions can have such a Huge impact on how people would see me for the rest of the year. I tried Hard to get my hair in order, every one had a place and I carried on till it Was fixed in that place. I took ages deciding on what outfit to wear, and in The end wound up wearing a dark blue long sleeved t shirt, with a white and Light blue striped short sleeve shirt over that. Of course the set wouldn't be Complete without my favourite jeans! Dark, deep blue jeans with chalk like Strips running in a sort of zig zag pattern at the top of the legs. I put on My favourite fragrance. I liked it because it had a sweet, clean kind of Smell. The closest I will ever get into putting how it smelt into words is That it smelt like you would smell just after you had taken a nice long Bubble bath. Clean, refreshed, and in a certain sense a little sexy. Just How I liked it.

When I finally felt I had everything, and was ready to go I stepped out the Door. A little reluctant, even a little scared to close the door, and to Face what the day might bring. It felt almost as if I was going to go to School for the first time. Taking each step whilst putting on a Brave-as-could-be face, but struggling inside with all my fears and Expectations as my palms got sweaty. I kept thinking to myself of how Ridiculous all this effort was. It was only college, and I had just probably Put more effort into my appearance than I ever have.

I walked quite quickly down the street, deep in though and into the big Steel-glass structure I was going to call my college for the next year. I Looked around, and it looked quite grand despite being a public institution. I was normally used to things this grand being privatized, but my thoughts Were to busy worrying about where I am suppose to go to dwell on the Building for very long.

I found my class relatively quickly and stood outside trying to look cool, Wondering who I was fooling. I looked down at my shoes the whole time, and Kept thinking that if I didn't make eye contact with anybody, I would keep a Low profile and not attract any unwanted attention.

What can I say...? I'm shy.

People started to arrive, and many of them formed groups or were clearly Waiting for their friends to arrive. That kind of dashed my hopes that People wouldn't know each other and it would be easier to start making Friends, but hey, eventually I'm sure I would talk to someone.

When the teacher came, everyone quickly scuttled into the classroom and Took up seats near their friends and continued their conversations they had Started outside. I looked for one of the seats in the back corners, and Decided on the one on the right. I sat down, and did what I was trying to do Outside: be quiet, and pretend I was invisible. The registration period Started, to my relief without the usual role call you would expect. Looked Like they believed here that if you wanted to be here, you would be here and If you didn't you wouldn't be here, and they couldn't do anything about that Anyway. We were told about the college, our classes and how things worked Generally. Stuff I already knew about having studied their letters of Invitation carefully. It was just a recap of what I already knew. Timetables Were handed out, and it became clear that I would spend relatively little Time at college compared to the times I spent there before. My 40 hour week I use to spend studying turned into a 20 hour one, but that wasn't surprising When all you needed to take were four subjects (three being the minimum for University clearance here). I decided on maths, chemistry, biology, and Physics. I kept it to what I could do well, in the hope that the work Wouldn't get in the way of all the other challanges I would indefinitely Face.

The explanation was about as short as the period -- 10 minutes. I had Maths First, and so off I went trying to find the class as soon as possible so I Could claim a seat in one of the corners again. The maths class wasn't far Away from my registration class so I got their quite quickly, looking like a Total geek rushing off and being unable to wait for maths. God, what people Must have thought of me now!

I managed to get one of the back seats again, but so many people were taking Maths that the class was absolutely full up. A girl sat next to me, who I Later discovered name was Laura. The teacher didn't waste any time as he Started writing on the board, and then lecturing for us to take down notes. The First thing we would do would be the nature of roots. I finished the sums he Told us to relatively quickly, this drew Laura's attention.

"Hi, I'm Laura, and... I kind of need a bit of help. I can't get my head round All these bloody numbers" she introduced with confidence ringing in her Voice.

"Oh uhm... Sure, I'm Alex and how can I help?" I replied with a tad bit of Confidence. She smiled, rolled her eyes and showed me what she needed help On. I gave her my method of working it out which was, at least in my opinion And by the looks of it hers too, a lot simpler than what he had just Explained to us. "Yep, really just as simple as that. No fancy formulae, no Fancy methods, just as simple as that. It works most of the time, and that's Why you need to know his method too, in case mine wouldn't work" I concluded With a smile on my face after having been of help, and probably having won a Friend.

"Well, I know who I'm going to be ringing when I get stuck on maths again. I Haven't seen you at college before, were you here last year? Besides, your Accent isn't very English, or British for that matter...?" she questioned, Seeming quite interested and not asking just out of standard politeness.

"No, no. I wasn't here last year, and I won't be next year either. I'm only Here for a year to take part in one of these "cultural exchanges", on which I have learnt nothing so far apart from that I have got an odd accent. Yah..." I replied, sighing and rolling my eyes as I went. We had a good chat Throughout the maths lesson, which unfortunately was the only lesson we had Together. She kept me company on my first day during the periods we both had Free, which I appreciated. She gave me a little insight into the school Explaining who hangs out where, where to be and where preferably not to be. Which teachers to always greet, and which to just simply avoid. I can't claim I remember much of what she said, but it was nice of her to make the effort None the less.

After two weeks I had a few friends, and felt a lot better than I did on the First day. Everything was going quite well, and I had even gotten myself a Crush, named Craig. There wasn't a day where I didn't think of him really, Especially of his deep, green Irish eyes. Its odd how somebody else's very Existence can throw you completely out of balance, like his did me. I didn't Have any clue about his sexuality, because he didn't date at all and had no Tendencies to whistle after girls (or guys...) even if his friends did, but I decided to assume he was straight anyway. Most people are, so statistically I was already off to a bad start.

I wanted to be noticed by him, perhaps be his friend, but I knew why I was In the UK and that I had to be mature about my whole situation. I was here To work, and learn about a different culture -- not to run after fit English Lads.

Everything was going great, until one mid November Friday evening. It was Laura's birthday, her 18th, and we decided to spend it out clubbing with Anybody and everybody we could invite. I promised I would get drunk for Once, something I don't normally do, seeing I let my guard down when I am Drunk.

Laura came over to my place to pick me up first, because naturally, I was Her best and favourite friend... and we made our way down to the local pub Where everyone would meet and grab a few drinks before going and spending The whole night out dancing. I was tipsy before everybody had even arrived, With Laura pushing me to drink. I felt safe though, like she would look After me like she did on the first day of college. She wouldn't let it go too Far.

The evening went on and we went round clubbing from one place to another, Drinking a little here and a little there. Everyone was enjoying themselves, Especially Laura. Eventually I got so drunk, I couldn't remember what was Going on anymore... and the rest is a total blank

The next thing I did remember was lying in Craig's arms, on my sofa, at my Place. It was a great dream, both of us shirtless, just in jeans. I turned To look up at his angelic, masculine face and sand blonde hair. I smiled to Myself, and just closed my eyes to savour the moment, but then realized that It wasn't a dream. A sudden rush of adrenaline filled my body as I started to Come to terms with the situation at hand. Questions filled my mind, but only Found a void where the memories of the previous evening should have been. When I stopped stressing over what happened yesterday and started to try and Deal with the problem at hand, I realised my muscles were tense, and covered In sweat, which alarmed me a little, but when I realised my zipper on my Jeans was down and the button undone I panicked. I got up as best I could Without waking him, and hurried to the kitchen. I felt my stomach turning And I thought I was going to be sick. I was shaking, more out of shock than Fear. "I didn't do anything with him... its impossible; I'm not that kind of Person. I don't sleep around..." I kept telling myself, but to no avail. I Made myself a bit of sugar water to try and calm my nerves, but before I got A chance to drink it I heard Craig calling...

"Alex...?" I heard as I put down the sugar water. "Where you gone?" he added As my mind flooded with the thoughts "Fuck, what now!!!" He came round the Corner and put on the light "What you doing in here" he asked, looking a Little worried. I turned to face him when it struck me that I still hadn't Done my jeans up. I started frantically trying to button them up, and after Having done that I looked at him. He was clearly worried by the expression Of distress so blatantly written all over my face. "Shit, you alright???" He Questioned with concern in his voice.

"Yeah ... sure.... I'm fine "I replied as bravely as I could whilst turning Around to get the sugar water and drink a little bit of it. At that point I Didn't know weather to be scared of him, to turn around and address the Previous night, or to just let it be and pretend nothing happened. It was All so confusing...

"You obviously aren't... man, come on just sit down or something I mean you Definitely got a little carried away with the drink yesterday..." He stated Worryingly. I didn't move, so he came closer and touched my shoulder. I was Alarmed and turned around quickly to look him deep in the eyes. Funny that Despite all the confusion the only thing I could make sense of was the Sincerity in his eyes. He really was worried.

"Yeah, alright" I replied as I walked to the sofa, stopping to get a blanket Out of my room first. I sat down, and pulled it over my body as if to hide, And in a certain way, protect myself from him. "Did we... sleep together? Yesterday...?" I asked, embraced and scared as he came into the room.

"NO!!! No, that didn't happen. You got totally wasted and so Laura asked me To bring you home and see that you were alright, seeing she was pretty bad Herself. I got you in, but I couldn't get home anyway seeing the next bus Would've been in an hour so I decided to stay and just check that you were Alright. I put you down on the sofa, and got a bit to drink out the fridge. I didn't think you would mind. I came back and sat down next to you and Started to read one of the books I found lying near the sofa." He started to Explain without moving any closer, obviously understanding that I wouldn't Appreciate it in my current state. "Then... well, yeah... The rest is Actually something I shouldn't have done, even if it's not as bad as you think It is. I got you up and let you lie down on my chest and I put my arms Around you. Oh yeah and, your jeans were undone because you went off to the Loo when you came in, and were to drunk to do them up again. I didn't want to Do it for you because I felt that might be going a little too far" He Continued, turning red and avoiding eye contact with me.

"Craig, I thought it was a lot worse than that. Sorry I over reacted a Little there. But I would like to know why you would want to... cuddle... me Anyway. If one can put it that way" I replied with a sense of deep relief in My voice.

"A sweet, funny guy that's my age, and quite cute if I might add, with the Bonuses of being from far away and a cultural exchange student. I guess it All came to a little crush... but I wouldn't dare mention it to anybody. Seeing you lying there, looking sweet, sleeping just overtook me. I just Wanted to cuddle... and I really didn't mean any harm" He explained, looking And sounding worried.

I laughed in reply. "Really, that's amazing. I've had a crush on you for Quite a while, even if mine wasn't as deep and meaningful. I stayed in Control and didn't get carried away by making it my life's-goal to get you to Notice me. But hey, at least that makes us both gay. Something I really only Fantasized about till now" I responded comfortingly.

"You're not mad or anything then..." He asked, still slightly worried.

"No, not at all. Come on, lets watch a movie till tomorrow morning and then Plan whets next. I mean threes no point in you going now, it's too late. Besides, it would be rude to kick someone out after they looked after me and Made sure I got home safe." I answered, with a welcoming tone to my voice. He came over and sat down near me, and asked what I had then. I got up to go And get my laptop, dropping the blanket to reveal my tanned and slightly Toned upper body, almost as if to say that I didn't mind him seeing anything Now. I felt I could trust him.

I came back a little later and crawled back in under the blanket after Having set up my laptop on a small wooden table in front of the sofa. I Looked over at him, and then moved a little closer, wrapping the blanket Round him too. "Don't want you to get cold" I stated with a smile.

"Thanks" he mumbled.

"Well then, There is a selection of stuff we can watch and ..." I continued Till interrupted.

"Actually... I would kind of just like to go to sleep if that's alright." he Asked in a quiet voice

"Sure, this sofa pulls out to make a bed. You can sleep in mine, Ill sleep Here then." I answered comfortingly.

"Isn't your bed a double bed...? Maybe we could sleep there, like... Not sex, Just... cuddle a little. Its something I have never done before with a guy And I would like to experience it... being gay and all..." He asked, scared Of the effect his question might have.

"Sure, Come on then." I comforted as I took his hand and lead him on to my Bedroom. One of the things I definitely wanted when I got the place was a Large double bed, mainly for comfort. I never thought of it in the sense of Having another person in there with me, but I must admit it definitely came Convenient now.

"Alex..." he called quietly after we had both just lied down." I normally Just sleep in my boxers... would that be alright... if I took my jeans off" He asked, still unconfident of himself.

"I normally sleep naked, but tonight Ill sleep in my boxers too then." I Replied with a bit of a laugh. We both slid off our jeans under the blanket And then pushed them over the sides of the bed. He was scared of putting his Arm around me so I backed into him a little, putting my back to his chest And taking his hand and leading it around my body. "Really, it's ok" I Assured him.

"Alex..." He asked again, as I turned to face him. "You've got really nice... Blue... or green... or silver? Eyes..."

"Turquoise" I replied as he came closer and our lips met. He sucked softly On my bottom lip and after realising what was going on I proceeded to Softly suck on his top one. His lips were ever so soft, and his breathe so warm. I let go at that moment, and if he would've proceeded to make love to Me I don't think I would've dared stop him, despite all my 'standards' and so On. It just felt so right, but thankfully one of us wasn't thinking through the crotch. He broke the kiss, and we both looked deep into each others eyes

"I don't want to rush this, just for it to be sex... I want us to maybe work Out... but now we should go to sleep. Night Alex..." He whispered into my Ear as he turned off the light and pulled me closer to him. I felt my back Pressing against his muscular upper body, and it felt so right. His strong Arms holding me tight, I felt so safe. His warmth and mine together... well, That one just felt like love.

END OF PART ONE Please Send Comments to Jweideman@hotmail.com