By Tim Mead
Bailey got up and moved to his computer chair. Thinking this might take a while, Justin sat in his own chair and faced Bailey.
"You remember when I was out all night? The night of the party?"
"I knew it had something to do with that night," Bailey muttered.
"Yeah, well." Justin gripped the arms of the chair. How could he admit this to anybody, much less a straight guy? Bailey didn't pressure him. He sat there with a concerned look on his face, waiting. "Okay, first of all, I got hammered that night."
With the slightest of smiles, Bailey said, "No shit."
"But I think maybe somebody put something in my drink. Uh, drinks."
Bailey waited, continuing to look concerned.
"I can't remember what happened after Harry left. I think I could have been raped."
Bailey's face registered first surprise and then anger. "God, Jus, no wonder you've been upset! Have you been to the police?"
"Why the fuck not? Jesus, who did it?"
"Like I said, I can't remember what happened." He paused and swallowed. "Damn, this is hard!"
"I know it has to be. Just take your time and tell it any way that's easiest for you. I'll try not to interrupt, but I . . . ." He took a deep breath and unclenched his fists. "Sorry. Go ahead, please."
Justin was sideways to Bailey, looking at the dark screen of his computer. He gripped the arms of the chair so tightly his knuckles were white.
"This next bit is one of the reasons I haven't told anybody. When I woke up the next morning, I was naked on the floor in the living room. There was a guy I didn't recognize on the sofa, Blake and another guy in his bed, and Kevin Peavy in another bedroom. There were six or seven of us, I think, when we were ready to play cards. Oh, I forgot to tell you, after all the others, including Hal, er, Harry left, we were going to play some version of strip poker. Peavy explained to me later that it wasn't poker at all, just a kind of draw thing where somebody winds up losing a piece of his clothes after each round. Loser has to do what the winner tells him to, no matter what."
Bailey didn't look happy, but he remained quiet.
"Harry didn't like the sound of that, so he left. I thought it could be fun. My first orgy." He got up, went to the fridge and took out a bottle of water. "You want one?"
"No, I'm good, thanks."
Justin uncapped the bottle, took a long drink, and sat again.
"Well, anyway, when I woke up that morning I didn't just have a headache from all the booze. I could tell from other pain . . . ." He paused, remembering that he was talking to a straight guy, and blushed. "Um, I knew that I'd had oral and anal sex – a lot of it."
"So they got you drunk, put something like a roofie in your drink, and then raped you? The bastards. Where does Alexander live? I'm going to his house and beat the shit out of him and his house mate. And maybe Peavy, too. Sons of bitches!"
Justin was startled to see the usually unflappable Bailey react so angrily.
"Whoa, man! The thing is, see, I don't know that's what happened. Harry said before he left that he'd heard someone saying he and I were the evening's entertainment. That was his main reason for leaving. He also said when he dumped me that sex is a private thing. Looking back on it, I kind of think he was right." He scratched his shoulder. "Where was I?"
"You were saying it might not have been rape."
"Oh, yeah. Peavy says I was having a good time, that there wasn't anything like rape going on."
"Well, he would say that if he was involved in a gang rape, wouldn't he?"
Justin stared out the window. It was beginning to snow. He shivered.
"Yeah, I suppose he would, but there's something else. Something that happened before school started." He took another drink of water as Bailey waited, sitting quietly, searching Justin's eyes.
"I may be telling you more than you want to know."
"I don't want to pry, bro. But you know I care about you, and you need to get this all out, don't you?"
"Yeah. And I know I can trust you not to tell anybody. Even Brody, right?"
Bailey sighed. "I'm sorry about that. I thought I was doing the right thing. But I promise, I won't tell a soul. Scout's honor."
"Thanks, man." Justin put down the water, took the blanket from his bed and wrapped it around his shoulders. "All summer I had a kind of thing with this guy I worked with, Todd. He was smart, sexy, fun. But we both knew it was just a summer relationship, we were fuck buddies, and nothing more."
Bailey looked pained for a moment, but he quickly made his face expressionless.
"Well, just before he left to go to Kenyon – he's a soccer player and had to go early for practice – he said something that's fucked with my head ever since. He made this . . . no, forget that. That's not important. He told me that he thought I was like a total bottom and a slut, too."
"I think I know what bottom means, Jus. But what's wrong with that?"
"Nothing. If a guy's a dedicated bottom, that's okay. But I never thought I was. You sure you want to hear this?"
"How else am I going to understand? Go ahead. Please."
"Okay. Todd said I was not just a bottom, but a needy one, that I'd do anything to get something up my ass. I'm sorry, but you wanted to know about all this."
"Man, don't worry! Just tell me."
"The point is, I don't think I'm an exclusive bottom. And until the night of the party I'd never had sex with more than one guy at a time. And I haven't had all that many sex partners in my life, either. What I'm trying to say is that I can't be completely sure what happened at Blake's wasn't voluntary on my part. And that would mean Todd's right about me, wouldn't it? And what Peavy says seems to support what Todd said."
"Wait a minute, Jus. You've never had sex with more than one person at a time, you said?"
"Right. At least until that night."
"And if those guys drugged you, as it's pretty clear they did, they'd also lie about what happened, wouldn't they?"
"Sure. That's what I've been thinking about most of the time. If I accused them of raping me, to protect their own asses they'd all claim I was lying. So there's no point in going to the cops. Besides, there's just the possibility that with my inhibitions lowered because of the booze I really got into what was going on. Maybe the real me came out that night. That's as scary as thinking I was raped."
Bailey sat quietly for a while. Justin watched his face, wondering whether he'd lost his friend, whether he'd have to move out of the room. Bailey's fists clenched. His face darkened.
"By God, I'll go find Alexander or that wimp Peavy and when I get through with them they'll tell me what happened that night." He found his shoes and started to put them on.
"No. No, Bailey, you can't do that! I don't want you getting expelled or arrested for my sake! It's not your problem, it's mine."
"Justin, you're my roomie. My friend. It just tears at my gut to think they did this to you."
Justin was dizzy with relief when he heard Bailey say those words. But he was also concerned. "But don't you see, here's the Catch 22. They may be telling the truth. And if they aren't, they will all stick together and claim I'm lying. It's a no win situation. Besides, like I said, maybe Kevin's right. Maybe I was like a pig in slop, happy to take it at both ends."
Bailey winced, but he dropped the shoe he was about to put on. He stared at the fallen shoe as if it were fascinating. Then he sighed, looked back at Justin, and asked, "So what do you want to do?"
Justin rubbed the back of his neck. "I dunno. I feel dirty, cheap. Haven't had any desire to have sex since that all happened. Can't get it out of my mind. Can't concentrate on my studies. Sometimes when I'm walking across campus, I think people are saying, `There's Justin the slut. He'll let anybody fuck him!'"
"What about Harry? Do you miss him?"
"Not really. He dumped me because of what he heard happened that night. He never gave me a chance to explain, to hear my side of things. He was so `holier than thou' that I sure as fuck don't want to be boyfriends with him any more."
Bailey waited a beat or two. "Okay. Now the big question. Don't you think you need help with all this?"
"It's helped more than you'll ever know that you haven't thrown me out."
Bailey frowned. "You don't know me, do you? I'm a pretty good judge of people, Justin Quinn, and I know you! Whatever happened, you understand that, whatever happened, we're friends and I'll stand by you."
Justin nearly burst into tears, but he controlled himself. He'd never been a crybaby, always prided himself on his self control. But since "that" night, tears had been very close to the surface.
"Now, the University Health Service can hook you up with a counselor. I think you'd probably feel a lot better if you could talk to a professional about all this." He grinned. "That is, assuming you still won't let me go slowly choke the bastard Blake until he's purple."
Justin heaved a deep sigh. "You know, Bail, I feel so much better now that I've been able to tell somebody about all this. But you're probably right. Maybe I should go to the Health Service and see if I can talk to a shrink. God! I never thought I'd be saying those words. Me, needing a shrink!"
"Hey, there's no shame involved, roomie. You just need to get whatever help is available."
"Yeah." He threw his blanket back on the bed and stood up. Offering his hand to Bailey, he said, "Man, you're the best. I don't know how to thank you."
Bailey stood and brushed aside the proffered hand. He hugged Justin so hard he almost squeezed all the breath out of him. "We're friends, aren't we? And that's what friends do."
The following Monday Justin went to the University Health Service and asked to see a counselor. When he made the request, he squared his shoulders and said to the receptionist, "I'm gay, and this has something to do with that. Do you have anyone who's good with gay people?"
He'd expected the woman, who looked like someone's grandmother, to frown or say something negative, but she smiled. "Oh, yes, I'll put you with Dr. Gaskins. You'll feel very comfortable with him, I'm sure."
Justin thanked her and left. That evening, Bailey was later than usual getting back to the room. Justin was ready to go to the Commons for supper when Bailey arrived.
"Hi, bro. Let me wash my hands, and we'll go chow down."
After they'd gotten their food, Bailey looked around the crowded dining hall and spotted a table that was, miraculously, vacant.
After they were seated, he said, "I've been to see Blake Alexander and his roommate, Jay Phelps."
"Oh, so that's what his name is. What happened? I hope you didn't do anything to get yourself in trouble."
Bailey smiled – except for his eyes. "I confess I may have suggested some unpleasant things might happen to them, but nothing like that went down."
"Good. Like I said the other night, I don't want you in trouble because of me."
"I'm not in trouble. Now, don't you want to know what they said?"
"I'm not sure, but go ahead."
"Well, they didn't admit anything, as you predicted. They claimed that there was a lot of sex, that everyone had a good time, including you. They didn't come right out and say so, but they implied you were an enthusiastic participant in the evening's activities." Bailey put down a roll he'd just buttered. "When Alexander smirked and said, `You can't rape the willing,' I almost lost it. It was all I could do not to deck him. I'm sorry to have to tell you all this. And, for what it's worth, I think they were lying."
Justin put down his fork and leaned both forearms against the table. He started to put his hand on Bailey's, but he thought better of it. "Thanks, roomie. I appreciate what you did. I suppose that's what they'd say if they'd, uh, raped me. But maybe they're telling the truth. It's so fucking frustrating not knowing."
"I can imagine. But you know, Jus, it isn't the end of the world if you are a, what's the term you guys use? A dedicated bottom? What's so bad about that?"
"You're right. I guess I've got some hangups. I've always known I was gay, and I've never hidden. Not since middle school, anyway. But I've always thought I was a pretty masculine sort of guy. I like to bottom, but somehow the idea that I'm a total bottom doesn't square with my self image. I guess what keeps bothering me is Todd's claim that I'm a slut at heart."
"Deep down you know what you are. And I've always thought you seemed pretty comfortable with yourself. I've admired that about you."
They ate in silence for a few minutes.
"Oh, I went to the Health Service today. I have an appointment Thursday afternoon with a shrink. A Dr. Gaskins who's supposed to be okay about working with gays."
"Excellent!" Bailey beamed. "I'm proud of you, Quinn."
* * *
Dr. Leviticus Gaskins turned out to be a 6'4" African-American with big shoulders, a receding hairline, and rimless glasses. He had a deep voice and a brilliant smile. Justin felt comfortable with him from the outset when he'd been instructed to call him Dr. Levi.
At their weekly meetings Justin soon found he could pour everything out to the doc, who set out to help him work his way through his feelings. He was relieved that he could be comfortable with the doctor, who said after only a couple of weeks that he thought they were making excellent progress.
Justin agreed. The bad dreams had stopped, he didn't feel the urge to shower two or three times a day, and he seemed to laugh more than he had been prior to seeing Doc Levi. But his libido hadn't returned. Well, that wasn't quite the case. He still masturbated daily when he could manage to do so without having Bailey for an audience, but he really had no desire to have sex with anyone. Well, that was almost true . . . .
* * *
"Fine, I'll ask him and let you know. Yeah, love you, too, Mom. Bye."
Justin closed his flip phone and put it in his pocket. Bailey had been reading during the conversation.
Bailey put down the book, took off his glasses, and said, "Yeah, Jus?"
Justin's heart seemed to skip a beat as he looked at his friend. He'd always found Bailey, with his big, muscular body, sexy, but just at that moment he saw the sensitivity displayed in his face. He realized that he could be on the verge of having serious feelings for his roommate. But, of course, that wouldn't do.
"Mom and I would like you to spend the Thanksgiving break at our house. Do you think your folks would mind?"
Bailey smiled. "I doubt it. And I don't really care much whether they'd mind or not. I'd love to spend the break with you."
"Awesome! I'll call Mom back and tell her."
"You're sure this is okay with her?"
"Yeah, she's the one that suggested it."
"Then are you sure this is okay with you?"
"Shaddup, Stone. We both want you to come." He didn't say anything to Bailey, but this was going to be his and his mother's first Thanksgiving without Larry, and Justin thought it would be good to have Bailey's comforting presence there for the holiday.
* * *
The kitchen smelled wonderful. A pumpkin pie and an apple pie were sitting on cooling racks on the kitchen counter. Bailey had just put the turkey in the oven for Moira, and Justin was setting the dining room table when the doorbell rang.
"Oh, dear," Moira said, taking off her apron. "That's Mother. I don't know why she won't just come on in. She knows the door's unlocked."
Justin went to the front door and opened it. "Grandma Mary, happy Thanksgiving." He hugged her and then said, "Let me have your coat."
After she was divested of the coat, Mary hugged her daughter and then looked at Bailey.
"And who is this handsome devil?"
Justin grinned. "This is my roommate and bud, Bailey Stone. Bailey, this is Mary Morrison, my grandmother."
Justin watched Bailey. His friend was obviously waiting to see if Mary would offer to shake hands. He seemed caught off guard when she grabbed him. Justin couldn't help grinning to see his tiny grandmother hugging his tall, muscular friend.
"I'm not going to pass up a chance to hug a stud like this," she said, grinning at Justin. When she let Bailey go, she looked up at him and asked, "Are you and my grandson boyfriends?"
"Geez, Grandma!" Justin could feel himself blushing. He'd never seen Bailey blush, but his roommate was doing so at that moment.
"Uh, no ma'am. But we're good friends."
"Bailey's straight, Grandma."
"Pity! Oh, and you can call me Mary, or Grandma, whichever you like."
"Yes ma'am," said the still blushing Bailey.
Moira, with help from Justin and Bailey, who surprised his hosts by knowing his way around a kitchen, had prepared all the traditional Thanksgiving foods. Although Larry's absence was strongly felt by three of those seated at the table, conversation was lively. Mary asked lots of questions about how Justin liked Colby State, and she wanted to know all about Bailey – where he was from, what his parents did, whether he had siblings, and, finally, she asked, "How did you get that body?"
Justin rolled his eyes. Then he looked at Bailey and grinned, shaking his head, as if to say he was embarrassed by her question. Bailey winked at him and then, to Mary, said, "It's partly genetic, I suppose. My brother's big, too. We take after our Uncle Frank, who's a big guy. But I played football in high school and we all had to work out, so that helped, too."
"Do you play football at Colby?"
"Well, you obviously still work out." Turning to Justin she said, "Do you work out with him?"
"No, Grandma. But I should. Since I'm not playing ball anymore, I think I'm getting a little soft."
Mary looked at Bailey and said, "Make him work out with you."
Bailey grinned at her. "I'm sure you know that Justin has a mind of his own. I don't think anybody could make him do something he didn't want to." Then, apparently realizing what he'd said, he shot Justin an apologetic look.
Justin nodded at Bailey and then said, "I think I will start working out with him if he'll let me."
"Awesome!" Bailey said.
After the dishes were taken care of and the food put away, they sat in the family room, where Justin had lighted the fire. Mary was interested to know how things were going in Moira's work. Justin listened because he hadn't really had an update from his mother on her work as an architect. Bailey seemed to be interested, too.
The phone rang.
"You may as well get it, Justin, since it will probably be for you. One of your friends checking to see if you're home, probably."
"Yes, mother," Justin said, pretending to be exasperated, but unable to hide his grin.
"Jus, it's Brody."
"Hey, Sarge! Happy Thanksgiving!"
"Same to you, lil bro. How's your mom?"
"She's fine. How's ole Dave?"
Brody chuckled. "I don't know why you call him that. He's only two years older than me. And I don't think he'd like it if he knew you called him . . ." He cleared his throat and then said more loudly, "Old Dave."
Justin heard Dave's voice in the background.
"He says you're not too big to turn over his knee, whippersnapper."
"You tell him I said `him and what army?'"
"Why don't you tell him yourself? That's why I'm calling. Dave and I are having a kind of spur of the moment get-together Saturday night. It will be pretty casual. All guys. We thought we'd have a buffet style dinner. We'd like you and Bailey to come. There's just one problem. There'll be drinks. And you two aren't legal to drink. Would that be a problem?"
"I don't think so, Brode. You do know that Bailey isn't, uh, family, don't you?"
"He's not? Are you sure? You're the one with the so-called infallible gaydar, but I sure thought your hunky roomie was one of us."
"It's a crying shame, jarhead, but you're wrong."
"Well, Bruce Evans will be here, and we both know he's straight. So Bailey won't be the only one here if you guys come. Besides, if he can put up with a feisty little fag like you, he won't mind the more civilized queers who'll be here."
"Oh, I'm so gonna get you for that, Cox!"
"To quote someone, `you and what army?'"
Justin chuckled. He paused for a moment. "Uh, Brode, that Nielsen guy, is he gonna be there?"
"No. Why did you ask?"
"Oh, never mind. I just wondered. Your party sounds good. Let me check with Bailey and call you back."
"Look, come about 7:00, jeans are fine. If we don't hear from you, we'll assume you're coming, okay?"
"Cool. Thanks, Brode. And thank ole Dave for us, too."
Justin could hear Brody laughing. "Yeah, I'll do that. It's good to hear you sounding like yourself instead of the way you were the last time we talked. Love you, Jus."
"Love you, Sarge. Bye."
"Well," Moira said as Justin put down the phone, "that was an interesting conversation."
"Mo-ther, you weren't supposed to be listening."
"Sweetheart, we couldn't help it. You were right here. Poor Bailey! We all knew you and Brody were talking about him. So what was that all about?"
"Brody and Dave are having a buffet dinner for a bunch of guys Saturday night and they've invited us."
"Aren't you and Bailey a little young, Justin?" Mary asked. "Brody's a lot older than you and Bailey."
"If Bailey wants to go, we'll be the youngest guys there, Grandma, but Brody's only 4 or 5 years older than me, depending on who's had a birthday recently." He looked at Bailey. "Let's go talk about this, okay?"
As he and Bailey were on their way up the stairs, he heard his mother say, "Really, Mom, I trust Brody. I'm sure he wouldn't have invited Justin if anything improper were going to happen."
"I'm glad to hear it!"
Upstairs in his room, Justin said, "I gotta explain something about this dinner. The guys there will all be older than us. I've met some of their friends, and some of them are, like, maybe 30. But they're all cool. The thing is, Brody says you'll probably be the only straight guy there except for my English prof, Bruce Evans. Brody took freshman comp with him last year and liked him. He recommended the class to me, and that's how I came to be in Bruce's section this year. So if that makes you uncomfortable, we don't have to go. We can go to a film instead or get something to watch from Blockbuster. Your choice."
"Jus, I'm not afraid of gay guys. I know it isn't catching. Don't you think if we can be such good friends, I'll be comfortable with Brody's friends? I've seen enough of Brody to be pretty sure he isn't planning an orgy. How dressed up do we have to get?"
The reference to an orgy created an awkward silence for a moment. Then Justin beamed. "You're really cool with this? You don't mind? Excellent! Oh, and he said jeans were fine, it would be very casual."
"It will be great to see Brody again. And I'd like to meet your English prof after all you've told me about him."
"Who knows, bro, you may even enjoy watching all the queers."
"Don't talk like that! My roomie's a queer, and he's a cool dude."
That night as he lay in his bed trying to get to sleep, his thoughts turned to Bailey, who was sleeping in the guest room. He couldn't help thinking of what Brody had said. How could he possibly have gotten the idea that Bailey was gay? He was just plain wrong. Brody had always admitted that he had no gaydar.
Too bad, though, that Bailey was straight. He was the best friend Justin had ever had except for Brody. For sure the best friend his own age he'd ever had. And that was good. . . .
To Be Continued
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