Hey Guys!!! Sorry about the delay in posting this chapter. I was on vacation last week and had exams the week before that. I hope that you enjoy it. As always, please email me with any questions or comments. The email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please feel free to join my yahoo group. The address is ca.groups.yahoo.com/group/futurecanadiansgroup. I have also posted there the other stories that I've submitted to nifty over the past year and a half or so.
"The First Test"
For the first two weeks of school, Alex thought about Gavin. Sure, he was concentrating on his studies, but when he wasn't thinking about his projects in History or Biology, images of Gavin came into his mind. He was sitting in the cafeteria, affectionately known as "The Caf," one afternoon during the second week of school. All the guys seemed to look like Gavin, either they had arms similar to his or an ass almost as nice looking as Gavin's. Either way, he was smitten with the boy. He wished that he could see him again, but he'd resolved that it was a one time occurrence and that he couldn't be both a prince and a gay man at the same time. Despite the progress that the gay community had made in Lorenzia in recent years, he was afraid of how it might look if the nation's Crown Prince were an openly gay man in a predominantly Catholic nation. He resolved that like so many other things that he'd like to do, it just wasn't possible. It wasn't acceptable conduct for a member of a Royal Family.
By the end of that second week, Alex was relishing a weekend with nothing for him to do. Eddie was going home to Savannah for the weekend; Lisa, Lee, and Austin were going to the beach for a "weekend of debaucherous nothingness" as they called it. He would be there, virtually alone, with nothing more to do than sit in his dorm room and watch TV or browse the internet for porn. Either way, he wasn't going to do anything more than what he wanted to do in the particular moment.
As the evening came to a close, Alex sat in his room, lying on his bed. He tuned the TV to the Lorenzian Broadcasting Corporation, or Channel 69 on the University's private cable network. He laughed at the sitcoms that, in Lorenzia, were being broadcast in the middle of the night. After three hours of lounging, though, Alex found himself bored. There was absolutely nothing to do. Grabbing his coat and hat, he walked out of the door of his dorm, locking it behind him. He walked out the back door of the building down Vine Street toward Main Street. He was looking for something to do, but found the town almost as deserted as some of those towns he'd seen in old western movies. There seemed to be no one other than a few locals at McDonald's around town. He crossed Main Street and walked into Movie Gallery. The only person working the desk greeted him as he went in. He browsed around the stacks for some time, taking a look at any movie that had an interesting cover. He carefully read the back of each box for a description of the film before putting it back onto the shelf. One movie in particular caught his attention: a foreign film called "Nico and Dani." It was a Spanish film about two teenage boys who, in the process of becoming men, experimented. One realized he was gay; the other realized he was straight. He grabbed the box and the box containing the DVD, continuing to read as he walked toward the counter to rent it.
He wasn't paying attention and ran directly into another patron of the store. "Oh! I'm so sorry," Alex said as he looked into the person's eyes. Staring back at him was a man whose eyes were dark and rich and whose smile was bright and lovely. "Gavin!" Alex said.
"Hey Alex! Funny running into you HERE!" Gavin said, a smile wrapping itself across his face.
"Just what I was thinking," Alex said as he smiled at the man before him.
"So find anything interesting to watch?" Gavin asked.
"It's a Spanish film called Nico and Dani," Alex answered.
"A foreign film. My favourite kind," Gavin said. "What's it about?"
"It's a coming of age story about two teen boys," Alex answered.
"Oh wow! Nice."
"What about you? What have you found?" Alex asked as they walked toward the counter.
"I'm renting Brokeback Mountain. I'm in a sappy, gay, love story mood," Gavin answered honestly.
"I've wanted to see that. My sister said it was really good, though," Alex answered.
"So would you like to watch it with me?" Gavin asked.
"And we could watch Nico and Dani, too," Gavin suggested.
The two walked up to the desk at the front of the store. "Find everything alright tonight, guys?" the man, whose nametag read `Ray,' asked.
"Yeah. At least I did," Gavin said. Alex agreed. Ray scanned the movies and took their payment. In just a second, the two walked out of the store together. They quickly crossed back over Main Street and walked toward Napier Hall.
"So I hear it's American tradition to eat pizza and drink beer when one watches movies."
"A beer would be nice," Gavin said, "but I'm too young to buy it."
"I forgot about that! Sodas will have to suffice then, I suppose."
"That's the only thing about American that I've found I don't like yet, though. In Lorenzia, a person can drink provided they're 18," Alex recounted. "On our last birthday, my sister and I got trashed beyond explanation!" Alex and Gavin both laughed.
"So you and your sister are twins."
"I actually have two sisters. One is considerably older than us, but Margaret and I are twins."
"Do you have siblings?"
"I have one little brother named Conner. He's five, but thinks he's my twin!" Gavin joked. "He really is a cool kid, though."
"Very nice," Alex said. "So I take it that you're gay, from your choice in movies."
"Yes. I am." Gavin answered honestly. "And you?"
Alex felt a lump in his throat. He wanted to say yes, but the memories he had of his father reminding him of all that he meant for his homeland crept into his mind. It was a once in a lifetime chance though to admit it to someone that he found attractive. He took a very deep breath before answering. "I am attracted to men, yes." He'd finally managed to fight back the images of his father and admit to another living person that he was gay. He smiled.
"Not as much," Alex said playing on the rush of adrenaline.
"You act as though you've never said that to anyone," Gavin said, thinking he was joking.
"I haven't," Alex admitted. "I'm not sure that my family and those close to me would find it the best of things."
"Oh!" Gavin said.
"Are you `out'?"
"Yes. Completely. Don't worry, though. I won't say anything to anyone."
"Thank you," Alex said. Gavin smiled at him as they climbed the little hill toward the back door of the residence. They didn't say anything else until they got back into the dorm.
"So you want to come to my room. My roommate, who I have yet to meet, has a sweet system installed."
"That would be nice. I was going to have to watch this on my computer!" Alex said, holding up the case that contained the DVD.
They stopped at Alex's room for a second and picked up a couple of sodas that Alex had picked up when he rode to the grocery story with Lisa and Lee a week or so before. They walked down the hall to Gavin's room. Alex looked around at the decorations on both sides of the room as Gavin set up the first movie in the player. There were a million questions running through his mind as he looked at the pictures of Gavin and his family. He wanted to just blurt them out into the open air, but was still amazed by the fact that he'd found it within himself to admit to Gavin that he was gay.
"So what do you eat on pizza?"
"What are my choices?" Alex asked after coming out of his thoughts and realizing that Gavin had asked him a question.
"I like pepperoni and extra cheese, myself."
"That sounds very good actually," Alex answered. Gavin placed the order, which promised to be delivered shortly. The pair then sat on a rug on the floor facing the large TV. The movie started and within just a few minutes, the two were deeply ingrained in the film. Not a single word was exchanged between them as they watched.
Before they knew it, time had passed and a phone call on Gavin's phone let them know that the delivery driver was waiting outside their dorm with the pizza. Gavin said alright and stood to leave to get the pizza. Before leaving though, he removed his t-shirt and replaced it with a grey tank top that tightly clung against his skin, leaving little to the imagination.
"Why are you changing shirts to get the pizza?" Alex asked, puzzled by Gavin's actions.
"Tip," Gavin said, turning for a second and winking at Alex as he walked out the door. "I'm such a dork," he whispered as he got out into the hall and out of Alex's range of hearing. He chuckled a bit to himself as he confidently walked into the lobby and then opened the door for the pizza delivery person. Within just a few minutes, he returned to the room with the large white box in hand. "Yummy," he said as he walked into the room, smiling at Alex.
"It smells good."
"I hope it actually TASTES good. I ordered pizza from this place called Vic's on Main Street last week, and it was horrible!" Gavin confessed. He grabbed some napkins from his desk and walked over to the middle of the room where he and Alex were sitting. He opened the box up and set it on top of the rug. At virtually the same time, the two grabbed a piece of pizza and began to devour it.
"I haven't had pizza this good since I was in Italy visiting a cousin of mine in Napoles," Alex said, enjoying the taste of the cheese, meat, and bread and how they created an explosion of hot, spicy goodness in his mouth.
"There is this little place back home that serves the best pizza. Well, it's actually in Gadsden. It's so good, though. And the waiters...well, let's just say that they look delicious, too." The two of them laughed. "We went there for my brother's birthday this past year. Our waiter was especially hot, and my brother told him that I thought so!"
Alex laughed. "What happened?"
"We went out twice. He just wasn't really my type."
"He wanted sex after a week and a half," Gavin said honestly. "Call me an idealist, but I would rather get to know someone before I give myself to that person." He sat and looked at his pizza for a second. "That probably makes me sound dorky, doesn't it?"
"Not at all. But if it makes you feel any better, I'm a 19 year old gay virgin," Alex said, laughing at himself.
"Wow. That's actually pretty cool. I wish I could say the same thing, but that flower was given away a long time ago."
"Do you mind if I ask a question?" Alex asked after a moment of silence between them.
"When did you know you were gay?"
"When I hit puberty. It felt weird, but I found myself attracted to one of the guys on my junior high football team." Gavin thought; Alex paid close attention to what he was saying. "What about you?"
"I had a crush on a boy at my school when I was younger. I thought it was just weird at first, but then as I got older, I realized that I was more attracted to men than women."
"Is it different in Europe than here, where gay people are concerned?"
"Somewhat. At least in Lorenzia, most people don't care who you go to bed with, as long as you're safe and obey the law."
"Nice. I know people that wouldn't have anything to do with me because I was gay. My dad's parents, for example, when they found out, they refused to let me come to their house unless I went through some stupid Southern Baptist Re-education program that programmed me not to be gay. Other than them, though, no one else in my family seemed to care that I was gay. Of course, I came out just after my little brother was born."
"Wow. So you're totally open to them?"
"Yeah. Totally. They would rather me be open than lie about it and sneak around behind their back."
"My older sister Elizabeth would freak out. I'm not sure how my mom and twin would react though," Alex said, "so I've just kept it to myself."
"Damn. Well, in my room, you can be whomever you desire, and I won't say a word."
"You will never know how much that means to me," Alex said.
"So let's finish this movie. I hear there's a really hot sex scene coming up," Gavin said, joking with Alex. The two laughed and turned their attention back to the movie.
As the movie ended, they realized just how emotional the movie had made them. Neither of them was crying, but both of them had felt the impact of the emotional theme of the movie. "Not exactly how I expected it to end," Alex said. "What time is it?" Alex asked, realizing that he hadn't worn his watch to Gavin's that evening.
"About 11," Gavin said. "Why? You got hot plans or something?"
"Nope," he answered, yawning. "I've just been up since six this morning," Alex said honestly, as if he yawned again.
"Why did you get up so early?"
"Normally I get up earlier than that to run, but this morning, I decided to sleep in."
"Is there anything about you that's not totally perfect," Gavin said in an effort to flirt with Alex.
"It would be perfect if my relationship status weren't going to perpetually be `single'," Alex joked. He yawned again.
"You're welcome to lay down on my bed, if you like. Or we can wait until tomorrow night to watch the other movie. Whichever you want would be fine."
"We can go ahead and watch the movie, if you want," Alex said, smiling.
"Alright. I'll just put the other one in," Gavin said, standing to change the DVDs. Alex looked at his ass in his jeans, recalling just how nice his ass looked without any clothes on.
As the previews at the beginning of the movie played, Gavin took a second and picked the pizza box and the trash from the floor. Alex took the moment to lean up against the edge of Gavin's bed as the movie finally started. Gavin returned and sat next to him. Just a few minutes in, Alex felt himself beginning to fall asleep, but he was determined to stay awake. Despite how hard he tried, though, he felt himself falling more deeply to sleep. Gavin looked over at him a couple of times, but didn't say anything. As those few minutes passed, Alex found he couldn't fight it any longer, but didn't have the energy to move his body. His head found itself, in a moment, resting on Gavin's amply muscular shoulder. Alex felt comfortable and eventually fell asleep completely. He had no clue that he was lying there; Gavin, on the other hand, did. To Gavin, Alex felt different. He seemed genuine and true, despite the fact that he knew very little about the boy...or rather, the man leaning on his shoulder. He returned himself to the movie a moment later, letting Alex peacefully rest his head on his shoulder. A smile even crossed his face when Alex began to snore a little bit.
Gavin fell in love with the movie. He got into the plot and the lives of the characters, all with Alex still peacefully sleeping on his shoulder. When the movie ended, he made every effort not to wake Alex up. Gently, he placed his arms behind Alex's head and beneath his knees, lifting him from the ground and gently placed him on his bed. Alex stirred for a second, but offered no resistance, taking Gavin's pillow and clutching onto it as if it were his own. Gavin in a completely non sexual way, pulled off Alex's pants and then covered him up with the blanket on his bed. He then sat on Kevin's bed across the room and just watched Alex. At first, the desires were physical in his mind. When he saw Alex in the shower, he thought that there would be nothing better than to bone the boy and let that be that. As he watched him, though, his mind began to change. He began to imagine what it would be like to date this boy. He didn't want to rush things, though, because the boy was completely new to most things gay. He had admitted to one person other than himself that he was gay; he'd admitted that he was a virgin. Gavin couldn't take that away from him unless they were in love with one another. He remembered how bad he'd felt giving his own virginity up to a trick. He stood for a moment and turned off the light on his desk, taking his pants off as he returned to Kevin's bed and pulled the covers over himself. He found that he wasn't able to go to sleep as quickly as Alex. He could only sit there and imagine what it would be like to have a boyfriend as hot and as seemingly nice as Alex was. As he watched the boy peacefully sleep in the bed across from him, he eventually drifted off into the land of slumber.
The next morning, Alex awoke in a blur. There he was, in a strange bed, in a strange room, with a virtual stranger sleeping across from him. For a second in the semi-euphoric state in which one finds himself upon immediately waking up, he thought that Eddie and the previous two weeks had been a dream. Then he remembered admitting to the man across from him in the room that he was gay. He smiled at the thought of having enough courage to admit to another person that he was gay. His smile turned odd, though, when he realized that he wasn't wearing pants. `Oh shit!' he thought as he lifted the covers and looked down at himself, `did I do it with him last night?' As he became more and more awake, though, he realized that he was still a complete and total virgin. As he lay there, it became his turn to admire the man across from him.
Gavin had, at some point in the night, kicked off most of the covers from over him. He was still wearing the tank top, though, and Alex could see the muscles in his arms. They were big and developed. He could see the tank as it clung against his pecs and abs. They also appeared to have been forged from hour upon hour of exercises and weight lifting. He legs were just as sculpted, with muscles rippling from his just below the lower band of his boxers to his knees. He was also sporting a nice bulge, which Alex seemed to focus on. Gavin appeared to be waking, so Alex averted his eyes so as not to get caught staring. It was a natural response for him, even though he'd admitted his sexuality to the man the night before. Gavin didn't wake though, instead, he used his hand to lift the bottom band on his tank up a little bit, giving Alex a complete view of his very muscular torso. Alex felt his own hard on growing, but didn't want to do anything about it right then, since he wasn't in his room and he'd yet to find the place with his eyes where Gavin had put his pants.
Alex again closed his eyes and imagined for a second that Gavin and he were together. He imagined holding his hand; he imagined kissing him softly; he imagined lying with him in the morning as they woke up. There was something about him. Perhaps it was that he was the first gay person in his life. Alex didn't know what to think though.
Gavin began to stir again. Alex again looked away. "Morning," Gavin said.
"Good morning," Alex said, trying not to sound nervous for the first time in Gavin's presence.
"Sleep well?" Gavin asked as he stretched in Kevin's bed.
"I did. Thank you. How about you?"
"Well, I always seem to sleep well when there is a hot man in the same room," Gavin said, winking. Alex smiled. "Sorry. I saw the chance to flirt."
"Did you hear me complain?" Alex said without thinking, getting another chance to see Gavin's bright smile. "I'm sorry I flaked out last night."
"It's alright. You fell asleep on my shoulder during Nico and Dani," Gavin readjusted his head on the pillow so that he could get a better look at Alex as the two lay there.
"Oh shit! I'm sorry," Alex said, sitting up on the bed.
"Did you hear me complain?" Gavin said, making Alex's face blush a little as he smiled. In a second, Alex made a funny face. "Everything OK?" Gavin asked.
"Yeah. I need a shower, though."
"OH! I thought I'd done something," Gavin said, noticing the morning wood that Alex was sporting, but saying nothing.
"Oh no! If you'd done something, I would have said something," Alex said, smiling.
There was another moment of silence between the two of them. "Mind if I ask you a question?" Gavin said.
"Not at all. Go ahead," Alex said, crossing his legs on Gavin's bed.
"I know that you're new to the whole gay thing, and all..." Gavin said.
"Yes," Alex said.
"But what would you do if a really cool guy were to ask you out on a date?" Gavin said.
"I'd like to think I'd feel honoured and accept," Alex said. Gavin smiled.
"Then if I asked you to go out on a date...say tonight, after I get off work...what would you say?"
"Then I would definitely feel honoured and accept your invitation," Alex said.
"So you have to work today?"
"Yeah. From 12 to 6:30. Then I will come home, take a shower, and take you out to dinner or a movie, or whatever you want to do."
"I would love to go to dinner, but I may sound weird in saying this, but is there a place where I can order some gravy." Gavin began to laugh. "I've become quite addicted to gravy."
"We could go to Cracker Barrel or IHOP or something."
"You haven't lived until you've had my Mom's biscuits and gravy, though."
"Well warn her that I may come up sometime and beg her for some!" Alex joked.
"I shall! She would love that, actually. She's a nut for cooking Southern food."
"My mother doesn't cook at all, so that would be nice."
"She doesn't?" Gavin asked.
"Nope. We've always had people around that did it for us," Alex said.
"Oh OK. Then I'll have to teach you how to cook a couple of things. Some of my favourite dishes!" Gavin joked. Alex laughed, but loved the idea.
"Alright," Alex said, standing from Gavin's bed. "I'll let you go then so that you can get ready for work."
"Alright. Is it cool if I get your number so that I can call you when I get home and stuff."
"Sure," Alex said, grabbing a pen from his desk and writing the number on a piece of paper. He handed the paper to Gavin. Gavin took his hand and held it for a second before taking the paper. The single act, without words, sent shivers all throughout Alex's body. The two of them smiled and Alex grabbed his pants, pulling them over each of his legs and buttoning them. He looked back up at Gavin, who had sat up on Kevin's bed. "Alright. I guess I will see you later."
"I'm looking forward to it," Gavin said, standing as Alex walked out of the door.
As he left, they both took a deep breath. Gavin ended his with a smile; Alex ended his with a nervous feeling deep within his body. It was Gavin's first date with a good guy; it was Alex's first date...ever. Gavin went to the shower after a moment and got ready for work. He left quickly, smiling as he walked past Alex's door. Alex was on the inside, lying peacefully on his bed for a few minutes. He had no idea what to do on a date. He didn't know what to wear. He didn't know what to do. After about an hour of lying on his bed, he got up and went to take a shower. That, for him, was the first thing he needed to do. When he returned, he pulled out some clothes and set them on the bed. He walked around the room for a second completely naked. Getting ready for the date was more important than putting clothes on in that moment. He sat down at his computer for a second, to check his email and to check the news. There was nothing interesting on either front. The cool air in the room reminded him that he was sitting there naked. Feeling like a complete idiot, he got up and put on some of his cutest underwear, a tight pair of boxer briefs with little moose logos printed all over them. He readjusted himself just to make sure that all the right things were in all the right places. He looked in the mirror. He felt odd, but in a good way; different, but in a good way; relieved that he wasn't alone in the knowledge that he was gay. He smiled and looked himself over. He'd certainly been happy before, but not in this way. His smile, to him, seemed more genuine. It seemed more real.
He seemed to wait an eternity on Gavin to get home from work. He checked the time every few minutes, only to be discouraged that so little time had passed. He was excited, excited to the point that he was becoming nervous. He knew nothing about dating, and, frankly, didn't have anyone to talk to about it. He could ask his sister, but then how would he explain it. She could always read through his lies and half-truths.
At 6:35, the phone rang. "Hello?" he answered, not recognizing the number.
"Yeah! What's up Gavin?"
"Not much. I just got off work. Mind if we leave about eight?"
"That's fine with me," Alex said as he lay down on the bed.
"What are you wearing?" Gavin asked.
"Just some tight boxer briefs," Alex answered innocently.
Gavin laughed. "I was talking about tonight," he said, continuing to laugh. Alex felt embarrassed for a second, but started to smile. "But that's good to know, too."
"I was going to wear a polo and some jeans," Alex said, still with a bright red hue to his face.
"Alright. You're going to look hot," Gavin stated.
"Thank you, sir," Alex said, sitting down on his bed and leaning up against the wall.
"So you want to know something funny?" Gavin asked.
"What's that?" Alex asked.
"I've been on a lot of dates in the past, but I've never been nervous until tonight."
"Really?" Alex was surprised.
"Yeah. You're by far the cutest guy I've ever talked to, and I don't want to seem like a dork."
"You are nice. And I'm not sure you could ever seem like a dork," Alex said confident in his opinion.
"Just wait till tonight!" Gavin said in a low tone. Alex couldn't help but smile at his words. "But anyway. You want gravy, right?"
"We don't have to. I'm just obsessed with gravy."
"I was thinking of Cracker Barrel. It's got good Southern food, as long as you don't mind rednecks."
"People of all kinds make the world go round," Alex said sagely.
"Way to look at it, I suppose. So are you excited?"
"Part of me is, honestly. The other part is VERY nervous. You know this is my first date, right?"
"Yeah. Consider me practice for the many other men that are going to want your time later on."
Alex smiled. He could feel Gavin's smile from across the phone lines. "Well, thank you for volunteering yourself, Gavin."
"Not a problem. I do what I can!" he joked, to the laughter of both of them. Alex became more and more at ease as they continued to talk for a few minutes as Gavin drove back to Montevallo from his job in Alabaster. They got off the phone only as Gavin was pulling his vehicle into one of the few parking spaces behind the building.
"Alright. I'll stop by your room in about 20 minutes then, OK?" Gavin said as he put the SUV in park.
"Alright. I will see you then," Alex said.
"Cool!" Gavin said, sitting in his car for a second as Alex climbed off his bed to get dressed. He was in a hurry. In his mind, it was better to wait on Gavin than to have Gavin wait on him, since he'd been there all day. He quickly pulled a blue and white striped polo over his head and made sure it fit just right on his chest. He grabbed his pants and tried to pull them up his legs as quickly as possible. Gavin was walking into the hall as he was doing this. Alex could hear the large metal door that led from their hall to the lobby slam shut behind him. He tired with force to pull the jeans over his legs and lost his balance. He tried with abandon to regain it, but found himself falling to the ground. He tried to brace his fall with his left wrist, slamming it against the floor with the whole of his weight.
"AHHHH!!!" he screamed as his wrist landed on the cold floor. Gavin, who was walking down the hall recognized the foreign accent in the scream and ran to Alex's room to make sure he was OK.
"Are you OK?" Gavin yelled as he busted into the unlocked room.
"Shit!" Alex exclaimed as he clutched his left wrist with his right hand. "Of all the nights to fall like a dumb fucker!"
Gavin rushed to him and knelt down beside him. "We should probably get you to the hospital."
"It's alright," Alex said. "I can have the nurse look at it on Monday." Alex tried to put it back on the ground, but found that it hurt more to apply pressure to it.
"Nope," Gavin said at seeing the man before him wince in pain. "You need to have that seen about tonight." He reached out his hand to help pull Alex up.
"I'm seriously fine. Why don't you go get showered, and we'll go on as planned."
"Showers and dates can wait," Gavin said as he held Alex to make sure he had his bearings. "I'll help you with your pants and we can go," Gavin said, moving behind Alex as the two carefully coordinated putting Alex's pants in their proper position. "Nice undies."
"Thank you! I told you they were cute!" Alex tried to joke through his pain. Gavin giggled as he buttoned Alex jeans. He reached around for the zipper, grazing his hands along Alex's penis as it stiffened from the touch. Alex closed his eyes from both the pain in his wrist and the pleasure of the energy that transferred for a moment between them. They stood there for a moment. Neither of them really knew why, but it was obvious that they both felt a level of comfort with one another.
"Alright," Gavin said in a moment, readjusting his own hard on before walking around Alex. "Let me change clothes really fast and then we will head up to the hospital to have you checked out."
"Cool," Alex said. He sat back on his bed for a second as Gavin left to change. He gripped his wrist once again and wrenched from the pain that was shooting from his hand and forearm. There was a little crying involved, but Alex's masculine pride wouldn't let him do too much of that, especially in front of Gavin. He didn't want to seem weak and vulnerable, despite that being the way he felt in that moment.
"Alright," Gavin said, returning in a moment wearing a solid black polo and some jeans. He'd also changed his shoes from the black ones that went along with his work uniform to a pair of leather flip flops. Alex detected a splash of cologne on him as well as the buff man once again helped him to his feet and guided him into the hall and toward the truck. It was just a moment before Gavin was pulling onto Vine Street then Main Street as he headed north toward Alabaster and the hospital.
"I'm sorry," Alex said as they left town and pulled into an area overpopulated by the construction of new neighbourhoods.
"For?" Gavin asked, puzzled as to why Alex was apologizing.
"For this. If I'd only taken a minute to be more careful, we'd be on our way to dinner instead of the hospital."
"It's not a problem. I'm glad I got back to the dorm when I did."
"I promise that I will make it all up to you, though."
"Nah. You don't have to. Knowing you're OK is the most important thing."
Alex turned to look at Gavin for a second, but then returned his gaze to the road in front of them. "Thank you, nonetheless."
"Anytime," Gavin said, turning his head from the road for a split second to Alex, who looked nervously out the front of the SUV.
They rode the rest of the way to Shelby Baptist Medical Centre in quiet. Alex really couldn't think clearly through the pain; Gavin was worried about Alex. When they arrived at the hospital, Gavin pulled as close to the door as he possibly could. Without missing a beat, he turned off the vehicle, opened the door and ran around to Alex's side of the truck to open the door for him.
"Thanks," Alex said as he hobbled out of the car. They walked into the door of the emergency room and to the triage nurse. Since Alex is left handed, Gavin had to take the pen and sign Alex's name.
"How do you spell your last name?" Gavin asked.
"S-A-A-V-E-D-R-A," Alex answered.
"Sorry. I heard you tell the guy last night, but I had no chance of spelling it correctly," Gavin said, turning to smile at Alex. As he finished writing, the two went to take two seats in the quite crowded waiting room. Alex looked around at all the people, of varying shades, colours, and cultures. He was amazed by the fact that there were so many different people that comprised the culture of this nation.
"So when would you like me to take you out to say thank you for bringing me up here?" Alex asked, turning after a moment to look at Gavin.
"I don't know," Gavin said after looking at him. "Whenever you want to go is perfectly alright with me!" Gavin smiled at Alex.
"I imagine most first dates are not meant to be spent in hospital."
"Not normally," Gavin said, "but like I said, I'd rather know that you're OK than sit across from you at some restaurant knowing you're in pain."
"You are amazingly nice, Gavin Butler," Alex said, also remembering Gavin's last name from the movie store the night before.
"ALEX SA...SA...ALEX!" the triage nurse called after they'd sat in the waiting area for some time.
"Yes ma'am?" Alex said, standing. Gavin stood with him and walked toward the triage area.
"Patient only!" the nurse said.
"I really need him to come with me," Alex said. The lady sighed and let them both come back into the ER together.
"So what's the problem tonight?" the lady asked.
"I fell and landed on my wrist," Alex explained. The nurse grabbed his rest and applied enough pressure to make Alex want to wail in pain.
"Hmm...Did you hit your head?"
"Alright. Well, we'll need to get it an x-ray or two done of that wrist, and then we'll go from there. If you guys will follow me," she said, standing and walking away from the two of them. They quickly followed her as she walked through crowds of people that Alex thought were just standing around and doing little of anything. There was one nurse that seemed to be running around, but other than that, the majority seemed to be doing nothing at all. "Here," the lady said, opening a door to a private exam room, allowing them to enter. "The doctor will be with you in just a moment." She turned and walked away before either of them had a chance to say anything else to her.
"Quite different from Lorenzia?" Gavin asked.
"Just a bit. In Lorenzia, there are some doctors that are subsidized by the government to make house calls."
"So it's a very different," Gavin restated.
"Yeah," Alex said as someone came into the room. A nurse came into the room wearing a blue suit and a name badge. The nurse explained that someone would be in the room in a moment to take him for a few x-rays of his hand and wrist. The nurse, who had been the only one working amid the sea of lethargy Alex had witnessed a few moments before at the nurse's station. The lady smiled at him in a second and left the room again.
Gavin and Alex talked for a bit before anyone else came into the room. As they talked, Gavin tried his best to make Alex laugh, succeeding most of the time and allowing Alex to, for a moment, forget the pain that his injury had inflicted upon him.
By 9:30, no one else had come into the room. They waited patiently as the night seemed to drag on. In Lorenzia, though, it was the early hours of the morning. The sun wasn't even of thinking of rising over the Southern European metropolis, but there was some activity in the palace. The morning kitchen staff had arrived to begin preparing breakfast for the staff in the staff cafeteria. Marcia was just arriving at the palace, having been asked to come in on a Sunday morning to help the Queen work through a few things before a meeting the coming Monday with the Prime Minister and about ten members of the cabinet. She walked in the door and put her coat on a coat rack behind her desk. She wasn't surprised to find that the Queen was already up and sitting in her office. She walked from behind the desk and entered the Queen's office.
"Morning, Majesty," she said as the Queen sat behind the desk, reading through some papers.
"Morning, Marcia. How was your Saturday?" she asked, looking up and over the top rim of her small glasses.
"It was good. I had lunch with mother."
"How is she doing?"
"Not well, I'm afraid. Her cancer has gone beyond the effectiveness of treatment," Marcia stated. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm doing OK today."
"Is the doctor still coming by this morning?" Marcia asked as she went toward the coffee pot the Queen had installed in her office to fix a pot for the two of them. It was ritual that the two of them had established after the death of the Queen's husband so that the Queen would have company in the morning.
"He should be here shortly, in fact," the Queen said, smiling at Marcia.
"Well, Majesty, I hope that he has good news," Marcia said.
"I can wish for the same thing, but I doubt that will be the case."
"It sounds like it's going to be one of those days when I will be optimistic for both of us," Marcia asked, having developed over her years of employment with the Queen a certain level of informality with the royal figure.
"Quite possibly," the Queen said, smiling and looking at the piece of paper before her. She'd been trying to write a letter to Alex for almost two weeks, but found herself occupied by her own health and wellness.
"Morning, Marcia. Morning, Majesty," the portly Dr. Stoyanov said as he stood in the doorway to the Queen's study.
"Good morning, Doctor," Marcia said, finishing the pot and walking toward the door. "Can I take your coat?"
"Please," the doctor said as Marcia helped him remove the heavy overcoat he was wearing. "Thank you." Marcia took the coat into the front office and placed it on the peg closest to her own coat. "Good morning, Majesty," the doctor said as he walked into the office carrying a black doctor's bag.
"Good morning, Dr. Stoyanov," the Queen said, standing from behind her desk and walking over to where he stood. She motioned for him to sit on the plush leather couch in the office. He set his bag on the coffee table in front of the sofa and sat beside the Queen. Isabel turned to look at him. "So what's the prognosis, doctor?"
"Majesty. I'm afraid that the cancer may in fact have progressed further than we initially thought. The tests that we did last week showed that the cancer has spread into your bones and liver." He took two deep breaths and then looked at the Queen directly. "Treatment would involve quite rigourous rounds of chemotherapy, but I'm not sure that, if at this advanced stage, it would even be effective." The Queen with her hair pulled back a bit shed a single tear. She lifted her arm up to wipe it, but found herself in intense pain. "I'm sorry to have to be the bearer of such bad news majesty."
"It's quite alright, Doctor."
"Please call me Petr," the doctor said, smiling at the Queen.
"We can try the treatment if you like, but I would advise having the Prime Minister set up a regency during the mean time."
"What will happen if I don't take treatment?" the Queen asked, still trying to hold back a flood of emotion.
"Majesty. If we don't try something, you will die a slow, painful, and, in your case, I'm afraid, a quick death."
"Six months tops." The Queen began to cry.
"How much longer can I keep this issue a private one, only telling those who absolutely have to know?"
"Maybe three months. May I give you a political advice related to this?" he asked.
"I would tell..." the doctor started before the two were interrupted by Marcia entering the room.
"Majesty. The Prime Minister's office is on the phone. The Prime Minister needs to meet with you this morning."
"What time do I have free?"
"9:30 is the earliest. You have breakfast with Princess Margaret at 8."
"Alright. Tell them 9:30 is the earliest I can meet and see if that works for them," the Queen instructed.
"Yes ma'am," Marcia responded, walking back out of the office and closing the door.
"You were saying, doctor?"
"Yes...I would tell the Prime Minister and Prince Alex what's going on. They need to be prepared in the event something happens."
"I will inform the Prime Minister this morning, but I'm not telling the children until they absolutely have to know. Alex is in America, and I don't want to ruin that for him," the Queen said, imagining that her son was probably living it up in America.
"Right. Well, the Prime Minister should be informed," the doctor said.
"I agree. I will have a discussion with him this morning."
"Feel free, Majesty, to refer any question he might have to me."
"I may have to schedule a meeting with the three of us for later this week."
"That will be fine with me," the doctor said as the two of them stood, "just let me know what time, and I will be here."
"That I can do," the Queen said as the doctor picked up his bag.
The two of them walked to the door. "Thank you, Majesty," the doctor said as Marcia took his coat and helped him put it on. He walked out the main door of the office, and the Queen, who'd managed to stop crying for a moment went back into her office, with Marcia in tow. The assistant walked to the coffee pot and fixed each of them a cup of the brew that had finished.
"Marcia. I'm probably going to have to depend on you for a lot over the next few months."
"That's fine, Majesty. That's what I'm here for."
"The doctor gave me six months tops and wanted me to call Alex and tell him immediately."
"I'm going to discuss it with the Prime Minister this morning," the Queen as Marcia handed her a cup of coffee. Her hand began to shake at the news. Why hadn't she gone to the doctor when she first found the lump in her breast?
"It's OK, Majesty," Marcia said, gently taking the cup and placing it on the table and then setting the Queen onto the sofa. The Queen began to cry uncontrollably, inconsolably. Marcia grabbed some tissue from her desk and ran back into the Queen's study, handing a few to Isabel for her to wipe away the tears.
"I'm going to discuss a raise for you with the Prime Minister this morning. I might need you around a LOT more than you are."
"That will be fine, Majesty," Marcia said as she picked up the Queen's cup and handed it to her. The Queen took a sip of the coffee. "Everything will be OK," Marcia said consoling her.
Alex and Gavin were getting anxious as they sat in the hospital room. Alex had long had his x-rays completed. They'd confirmed that he'd broken one of the bones in his forearm close to the wrist. It promised to be a long semester for him, he thought in that moment. Little did he know that, across the ocean, his mother was battling pain, both mentally and physically. Finally, as they sat there in the room, the nurse who'd first met with them at their arrival to the room. Alex sat there quietly as she began to wrap a cast around his wrist.
"Do you have a sharpie?" Gavin asked, smiling at the nurse.
"Oh yeah! I've got enough sharpie markers to bankroll a small country...if they used sharpies as currency," the nurse joked.
"What's the sharpie for?" Alex asked.
"So that I can sign the cast!" Gavin said. Alex looked at them funny. "It's tradition down here to sign a new cast, and since this was supposed to be the night of our first date, I want to be the first to sign it."
Alex smiled. "Alright."
The nurse finished wrapping the cast and handed Gavin a black sharpie. She left the room to get the final release papers as Gavin decided to put his signature on the cast. "Some first date, eh?" Gavin said as he looked up sweetly, directly into Alex's eyes.
"I will make it up to you, if you want to go on a second."
"Do I?" Gavin said, smiling up at Alex again as he looked for the perfect place. "Of course I want to go out with you. Maybe next time, we won't have to come to the hospital."
"I hope not."
"Alright, Alex," the nurse said. "Take this pill. It's for pain. Here's the prescription for a refill, if you need it, and here are your release papers."
"What is the pill," Alex said as she fixed him a glass of water.
"Vicodin," she said, smiling at him. "It's the good stuff, baby." Gavin laughed. "Are you taking him home?" she asked Gavin.
"OK. He's going to get a bit loopy and might just go to sleep. Just keep an eye on him, OK."
"Yes ma'am. That I CAN do," Gavin said, smiling and winking at Alex as he took the pill, followed by a sip of water the lady had fixed for him in a little paper cup.
"Good!" she said. If he's still in pain in a week, bring him back up to see me. OK?"
"Alright," Gavin said.
Alex, who'd watched the goings on between them began to feel a bit loopy from the medicine as they spoke. Gavin took him by the arm, though, and completed all the final paper work for him, as he was getting a bit light-headed from the medicine. After signing all the papers and paying for the services with Alex's credit card, he took Alex's arm and escorted him gently to the SUV. Alex felt himself drifting in and out of consciousness as they drove back down to Montevallo in silence. When the got back to the dorm, Gavin pulled into the same space he'd parked in a moment before and rushed around after turning off the engine to get Alex safely from the car.
"Alright," Gavin said as he wrapped Alex's right arm around his shoulder. "You alright, bud?"
"Yeah," Alex managed to answer. `At least the pain is gone,' he managed to think to himself, unable to say the words out loud.
"You want to just sleep on my bed tonight again, since I have no idea where your keys are."
"They're in my room," Alex said. "Fuck!" he said quietly. "And the door is locked. Yeah. If you don't mind," Alex said.
"Not at all," Gavin said as he opened the door for the two of them and then walked Alex gently up the stairs that led to the main floor. He turned down the hall and walked toward their rooms. He walked past Alex's room and to his own, setting Alex's very relaxed body against the wall while he opened the door. Once open he set Alex down on his bed and helped him get his shirt off. Once again, he had the opportunity to admire Alex's body. He took off Alex's flip flops and instructed to lie down long enough to unbutton and unzip his pants. He managed to get them off of him without having to have Alex stand up.
"Gavin?" Alex said in a moment.
"Yes, babe?" Gavin said.
"You just called me babe!" Alex said, smiling. Gavin smiled, too.
"Sorry about that. Didn't mean to."
"It's alright. I kind of liked it. I'm not sure if I would have said that if I weren't completely relaxed, but it sounded very nice."
"Cool," Gavin said as he pulled the covers over Alex.
"What I wanted to ask you though," Alex said.
"Can you cuddle with me?" Alex thought he sounded silly for a second; Gavin didn't. Lying before him was this man who he had fantasized about asking him to sleep close to him. How could he refuse?
"Sure. Just let me move Kevin's bed over here so that we're not cramped."
"Alright," Alex said as he turned around and faced the wall.
Gavin looked at Alex after moving the two beds together. As he stripped down to his boxers, he couldn't help but think that that night had been the oddest "first date" night of his life. He smiled as he looked at his name on the cast. After he'd stripped down to just his boxers, he lay down on the bed next to Alex. He was reluctant at first to get too close to Alex, but he did none the less.
"Mmm..." Alex said.
"What? You OK?" Gavin asked.
"Yeah. I'm great. Sorry for breaking my wrist and arm," Alex said with surprising clarity.
"Not a problem," Gavin said. "Oddly, it was fun hanging out with you tonight."
"It was. I will make all of this up to you tomorrow," Alex said once more before grabbing Gavin's arm and putting it around his waist.
"Don't worry about it. Just promise me we'll get a second date sometime," Gavin joked, running his hand along Alex's abs as the two fell asleep next to each other.
The next morning, Alex woke well before Gavin. He vividly remembered asking Gavin to snuggle with him through the night. He vividly remembered Gavin doing so without question, confirming in Alex's mind something that he'd thought the evening before, before the medicine kicked in, that he had an admirer. It felt odd to him. He didn't know why, but it made him feel very good. He lay there, comfortable in the arms of the first man that he'd met in his life for whom he felt the odd feeling within him. At around 11, when Gavin woke up, he found himself still wrapped around Alex. He breathed a couple of times and yawned.
"Morning," Alex said as Gavin woke up.
"Good morning. Sleep well?"
"Very well, thank you. You?"
"I cuddled with this really hot kid," Gavin said. Alex smiled.
"Well, would you like to get breakfast or something?"
"My treat, but you'll have to drive."
"Gravy craving?" Gavin joked.
"You know it!" Alex said, smiling.
The two of them woke up completely and pulled apart from one another. They dressed, chatted, and went out for breakfast at the Huddle House on Highway 25, just at the edge of town. Along with those who, in the town, didn't go to church, they ate and enjoyed breakfast together. Alex told Gavin about Lorenzia; Gavin told Alex about northern Alabama. Each of them soaked in the information being fed to them. As the afternoon came to an end, they parted company. Reluctance was in both of their voices. After a bit, though, they went into the own rooms; Eddie had returned while the two were eating. Each thought about the other again and again as they fell deep into their own dreams.