Three Roads Chapter 54: The Debate
"I can't believe this happened again." Richard said looking at the shredded and kicked in remnants of his poster.
Toby, Eric, and Bliss stood around him in silence, not knowing what to say.
"I know this is Lucas' doing." Richard said quietly. He wanted to cry or to scream, or to just pound Lucas' face in for ruining his and Bliss' posters again.
"Will put them up again." Bliss said firmly.
"Of course. He's not going to scare us."
"Are you sure it's him?" Eric said.
"Positive." Richard said quickly.
"Trust me I'm not trying to defend anyone with the last name Mathias," Toby started, "but he doesn't strike me as that kind of person. He's an evil asshole like his brother, but this is not his style. I'd think he'd be much more in your face about this then just doing it in secrecy."
"I'm actually thinking the same thing." Dr. Taylor said. The group of friends turned around to see her give a consoling smile, "This probably isn't either Mathias boy."
"Then who is it?" Richard said somewhat angrily.
"Any one of the 20,000 students that go here." she said simply.
"It could be anyone." Richard said.
"Which is scary." Bliss said.
"Why?" Eric asked.
"Because it means that they could be dangerous. We don't know."
"Let's not jump to conclusions now," Dr. Taylor said in her best diplomatic voice, "but we should all use extra caution just in case."
"What are we all staring at?" Joey said as the group once again turned around to see who had now joined the circle.
"The remainder of our posters." Richard pointed.
"Holy shit?! Again?"
"Someone needs their ass kicked." Joey said.
"I agree." Toby nodded.
"Boys, violence doesn't solve anything. It provides a temporary solution to a problem that will no doubt escalate." Dr. Taylor scolded.
"You're only saying that because you're on the clock right now." Richard joked.
"I'm being quite serious. I hope nobody here would be involved in anything that resulted in violence."
"I was joking. I'm too little I'd get my ass kicked." Joey said.
"Something tells me you would be scary if you got into a fight." Eric said.
Joey smiled, "I'd go straight for the balls. Then once they're in pain I'd kick their ass."
"This is really bothering me, who would do this?" Richard said bringing the focus back to the issue at hand.
"I don't know, but if you're going to put them back up, you should put something fiery on it." Joey said, racking his brain for ideas.
"How about, I'm tired of making these damn posters." Bliss said. Everyone chuckled except Richard.
"Or don't fight Joey he just wants to touch your balls?" Toby suggested.
"You know if you guys are going to make jokes you should leave. This isn't funny." Richard seethed.
"Sorry," Eric mumbled, "but I think he's right. You should have some kind of response to this."
"I've got one," Dr. Taylor said with a smile, "It could be as simple as, `We will not be intimidated."
"Fuck his ass!" Cooper whispered hoarsely as he watched the action on his laptop computer screen. He was on one of his favorite porn sites that specialized in college men. He was one of the few people who actually did believe the premise of the website, that most of the men featured were in fact straight.
"They can't suck dick. Anybody who can't suck dick correctly isn't gay." He'd tell anyone who'd listen.
Mainly he liked the site, because it showcased the types of boys that he saw everyday on campus and wish he could have. Now that he was with Eric, that was surely out of the question and he didn't mind it that much, but he was surprised that he hadn't hooked up with very many people since he'd attended Sunnydale. When he left the confines of Maine, getting as much dick as possible had been one of his main goals until he found a relationship. Things hadn't quite worked at that way, but maybe that was all for the better. Cooper continued to stroke himself having long since discarded his underwear. He was so intently watching the action on screen, that he didn't even hear the front door open and close, thus announcing the arrival of his boyfriend. Eric could hear the faint sound of moaning and couldn't tell where it was coming from at first. He remembered that Cooper's only class of the day had been cancelled. His eyes narrowed as he walked directly to Cooper's room, growing more and more angry as the moaning grew louder.
"What are you doing?" Eric fumed as soon as saw Cooper at his desk.
Cooper jumped, "I didn't even hear you come in."
"I'm sure you didn't."
"Want to join me?" Cooper said raising his left eyebrow.
"ARGH!" Eric screamed before storming off.
"Fuck," Cooper said. He paused the video on his computer and whispered, "Don't worry, I'll be back." He ran out of the room in nothing more than a gray tank top as he set off to find Eric, who was in the kitchen angrily making himself a sandwich.
"What's wrong? Cooper asked.
"Are you kidding me? What do you think I'm upset about. I caught you watching porn!"
"You didn't catch me doing anything. If you had asked, I would have told you I watch porn."
"Of course I know you watch porn," Eric argued as he slapped some salami on a piece of bread, "But I thought you had stopped once we got together."
Cooper laughed, which he immediately knew was the wrong thing to do because Eric threw him the meanest look he could muster, "Sorry, but why would you think that?"
"Because we're in a relationship."
"Me watching porn doesn't have anything to do with you." Cooper said evenly. That was also the wrong thing to say as Eric let out another scream of frustration before pushing past Cooper and out of the kitchen.
"Come on," Cooper said following Eric through the house, his dick bobbing quickly with his motions, "are we going to talk about this or are you just going to run around the house screaming like a banshee?"
"I'm glad you find this funny because I don't at all. It is inappropriate to watch porn while you are in a relationship."
"The two have nothing to do with each other." Cooper stated.
"Do I not satisfy you or something?"
"What the fuck are you talking about? If I felt that way do you think I'd be hard right now? All this arguing is making me get turned on actually."
"I wish you'd go put on some pants for that matter. I can't argue with you and tell you why you are wrong when your dick is looking at me!"
"What's with all the screaming, I thou...WOAH!" Toby said turning around, "Why are you walking around the house with your dick out?"
Cooper rolled his eyes, "Like you've never seen it before."
"And I never want to see that ugly thing again."
"Don't be jealous just because my dick is bigger than yours Black man." Cooper said.
"You don't even know, you've never seen my dick." Toby reminded him.
"Well we're both standing right here, whip it out."
"Excuse me!" Eric yelled making both Toby and Cooper return their attention to him, "First I catch you watching porn and now you have the audacity to ask to see his dick in front of me."
"I was just kidding." Cooper said.
"And you didn't even say no."
"You didn't give me enough time to say no." Toby said.
"ARGH!" and with that Eric slammed his door.
"What the hell was that about?" Toby said very confused.
"I don't know. But all I know is that I've got some straight guy ass waiting to get broken into. Catch you later."
Brian was relieved that his classes were over for the day. He was debating whether or not he wanted to go back to the dorms and eat in the cafeteria or if he wanted to eat somewhere on campus. He looked at his watch and realized it was 12:30. No matter where he went, he would have to wait in line for at least few minutes thanks to the lunch crowds. He decided he might as well head back to the dorms and hope that the lines would have dissipated a bit by the time he got there. He was walking along, half thinking about what else he wanted to get accomplished that day and half looking at the variety of guys that were walking by when seemingly out of nowhere, Richard was in front of him, "Did you not see me waving?"
"No," Brian said with an honest smile, "I must have been deep in thought."
Brian shrugged, "Nothing in particular."
"It's been a while."
"It has been...I'm sorry about your posters again."
"Thanks," Richard frowned, "I need to find that asshole Lucas."
"Lucas Mathias. He's running for President against me and he's the person who keeps kicking our posters in."
"I see. Well I'm sorry that happened."
"Yeah me too. Are you going to be at the debate tomorrow night?"
"You know for the people running for school office? Me and Bliss will be there obviously."
"And Melinda." Brian smiled.
Richard rolled his eyes but also smiled, "Yep, her too, but yeah it's more like there'll be a moderator that will allow students to ask us questions. Joey didn't mention this to you?"
"He did. He said you asked him to come."
"I didn't get the same so I figured my attendance didn't matter." Brian said breaking eye contact with Richard.
"I'm telling you now."
"Would you have said anything if you hadn't run into me by chance just now?"
"Were we fighting or something and I didn't know it? It seems like you're trying to make me feel bad over something." Richard wasn't angry and his tone made that clear, but he still thought it was the truth.
"No. I don't know what we're doing to be honest."
"You haven't been by the Pride Center in weeks," Richard said, "I thought you needed some space."
"I did cause I said everything I needed to say. So I felt the ball was in your court to make the next move." Brian shrugged.
"Ok, well I'm making that next move now. I'd like you to be there tomorrow night. If you're not, no big deal, but I'd really appreciate the support."
"Ok then, I'll be there."
"Thank you." Richard said patting the smaller boy on the shoulder. Both of them felt a charge run through their body as they made contact. Richard felt his cell phone vibrating in his pocket and was surprised to see that it was Cooper calling.
"You never call me. Did someone die?"
Eric was blankly staring at the television. No matter how hard he tried to concentrate, his mind seemed to inevitably go back to the argument he'd had with Cooper a few hours ago. It had been their first fight since they'd been a couple and Eric didn't know what to do now. He didn't want to talk to Cooper at the moment, he wanted to calm down a little more before that happened, but he was also a bit disappointed that Cooper hadn't tried to talk to him.
A knock came at the door and Eric immediately said, "If your name is Cooper go away!"
The door opened and Brian quickly slipped into the room, "Hey."
"Hey, what are you doing here?"
"Just hanging out," Brian smiled, "Did something happen between you and Cooper?"
"Yeah, but I don't really want to talk about it."
"Ok, but if you need to feel free."
"Thanks." Eric smiled.
"Can you come with me for a second? I want to show you something."
Eric nodded and began to climb off his bed. He couldn't imagine what Brian would have to show him in his own house, but he followed him into the living room and before he could comprehend that all of his friends were sitting in the living room, he heard a door close behind him. Cooper had closed the door that led between the living room and the hallway. Eric turned to look at Tim, Richard, Joey, Toby, Jon, and Bliss who were all sitting in various places around the living room before turning to Brian, "Traitor."
"I know I know, I'm sorry." Brian said feeling very guilty.
"I knew sending in the innocent looking one would work." Cooper smiled.
"What do you want?" Eric practically yelled, again throwing a menacing look Cooper's way.
"I detect some hostility." Joey said eagerly.
"Me too. I think World war 3 is about begin." Toby laughed.
"Yeah, what's going on?" Tim asked, "Why am I here?"
"Yeah really," Jon piped in, "I'm a little scared. I didn't think you liked me." He said looking at Cooper.
"I don't. It's why I erased your number from Eric's phone, but I kept it just in case I ever needed to give it to the cops."
"You're going to let him talk to you like that?" Joey said really wanting to see something happen.
"Seriously though, what's going on?" Bliss asked, "Not that I mind being in a room full of hot gay men, but really me and Richard could be using this time to go over things for the debate tomorrow."
"Ok, well first thank you all for answering my call and coming so quickly. I know you all lead busy lives, I do myself..."
He stopped when he heard someone snicker. He knew without even having to look that it was Joey.
"Fuck you buddy."
"Been there done that." Joey responded.
"Hold on a minute! You two had sex?" Richard asked curiously.
"Is this why we're here?" Bliss said covering her mouth.
"No no no," Cooper said loudly, fearing that Eric might blow a gasket due to the sheer look of hatred he had on his face, "Joey and I had sex a long time ago...if you could call it that. It was more like a pity fuck."
"Why did you never tell me this?" Brian asked Joey. He was a little hurt that his friend had not shared his secret.
"Because it's not one of my shining moments. I mean would you want the world to know you slept with Cooper?"
"God no," Jon said immediately, "I have a dick length requirement for anyone I have sex with."
"Ok," Cooper said going for his belt, "this has gone on long enough."
"Close your eyes!" Joey yelled, "if you look at it you immediately turn to stone!"
"The only thing that was stone was your dick when we were fucking." Cooper retorted.
"Do not drop your pants!" Eric said angrily, "You are already in enough trouble."
"They did it in the shower." Toby whispered to Richard.
"How do you know that?" He whispered back.
"So anyway," Cooper started again to make sure he had everyone's attention, "the reason why I called you all here is to plead my case of why I watch porn despite being in a relationship with this sexy motherfucker over here."
Eric rolled his eyes hard and decided that he might as well take a seat, since it looked like Cooper was going to be talking a while.
"You interrupted my day to talk about your porn viewing habits?" Jon said.
"He was walking around earlier with his dick swinging every which way." Toby added.
Richard looked at him and smiled, "You sounded like your grandmother just then."
Brian eyed them quickly from across the room and felt a sharp jab somewhere in his stomach. He made eye contact with Joey who offered a sympathetic smile before they both turned their attention back to Cooper.
"I like porn and I don't think I should have to stop watching just because I'm in a relationship now. Toby?"
"Leave me out of this please. He's already mad at me."
"What did you do to Eric?" Bliss asked surprised.
"Did you guys jerk off together?!" Joey asked.
"No, skank ho," Cooper said throwing him a dirty look, "I just told him to whip out his dick."
"You are making yourself look more and more bad. I'm sure Eric has a reason to be mad." Brian said.
"I planned on siding with Eric no matter what anyway." Jon said.
Eric smiled at him, "Thanks."
"Toby?" Cooper said again looking at his friend, "when you and Richard were together, did you stop watching porn?"
"Of course not. We got some creative ideas from watching porn." Toby laughed as he looked at Richard.
"It's probably not safe to try some of the things we tried." Richard said. Brian again felt a pang of longing as he watched them interact.
"I know," Toby agreed, "We were young then, I wouldn't try some of that stuff now.; I'm too old."
"Really?" Richard said surprised.
"I'm kidding, I need a little spice in my life."
"Maybe we can arrange something." Richard said raising his eyebrows.
"Oh, I'm sure." Toby laughed.
"Um, this is not about your jacked up love lives," Cooper said, "this is about me."
"My pants are buzzing," Tim said as he reached into his pocket, "he saw HOME blinking on his screen and flipped open his phone, "Hello?"
It was his mother. He stood up not quite believing that she had called him, "Mom?"
"Yes, are you busy?"
"No, I'm not busy," Tim said looking at Toby in disbelief, "What's up?"
"You are busy!" Cooper whispered loudly, but Toby shushed him.
"Your father is on a business trip for the next few days and an emergency has come up at work which means I won't be able to get Tati from school today. Can you do it for me and stay with her until I get home?"
"Sure," Tim said immediately, wanting to take any chance he could to get back into his mother's good graces.
"Thank you. I don't know what time I'll be home..."
"It doesn't matter. I can stay with her as long as you need me to."
"Wonderful," she said relieved for reasons he didn't know, "I will call you when things become more clear."
The call had ended but Tim was still holding the phone to his ear like he was listening to her talk.
"Are you ok? Jon asked.
"Yeah, what time is it."
"A quarter to three." Brian said.
"I have to go then. I have to go get my little sister from school. Sorry for the abrupt exit, but...yeah this was kind of lame anyway." Tim said making his way to the door.
Richard and Bliss both looked at each other and signaled to each other that it was also time for them both to go as well, "Yeah I second that." Bliss said.
"Where is everybody going?" Cooper whined.
"Yeah, really," Toby said, "Don't leave me here with them."
"I didn't even do anything." Eric said.
"I still don't know why I was invited," Jon said to Brian as he exited the door, "he had to know I was going to agree with Eric."
"Fine, fuck all of you!" Cooper yelled as the last of their friends departed.
"I'm going to my room before you guys drag me into your shit again." Toby said as he left Eric and Cooper alone in the living room.
"And then there were two." Cooper smiled nervously.
"There's about to be one." Eric said as he stood up.
"Are you going to kill me?"
"No, I was just going to my room."
"Good, cause I was going to say you can't handle this."
"Sorry, but I'm not in the mood to joke right now."
"Seriously, Eric, why did it bother you so much that I was watching porn today?"
"Because it might sound silly to you, but I worry about...not living up to your expectations."
"My sexual expectations?" Cooper asked to clarify.
"Yes. I know I'm not very experienced and I worry that you'll get tired of me soon."
"That's not going to ever happen and I wish you would have said something before."
"This isn't the easiest thing to talk about." Eric said.
"I know, but still if you're feeling worried or overwhelmed by something you have to tell me. It's not fair to me or you if you don't."
"Plus," Cooper continued, "let's be real. You'd be the one to get tired of me and break up with me."
Eric laughed, "Why do you think that?"
"Because...you promise not to get weirded out?" Cooper said.
Eric could tell that he was serious, "I promise."
"I can't ever imagine you doing anything that would make me not want to be with you. And I really mean that. You could break my heart in a thousand pieces, but I'd still come back to you. I can imagine the reverse though. That I'd do something stupid or dumb or that you'd get tired of me."
"Wow. I don't even know what to say to that."
"You promised not to get weirded out."
"I'm not. I just...it amazes me the things you say about me. I never think of myself like that."
"You can't see what I see."
Eric sighed, "I'd say the same back to you."
"Are we good?"
"We're good...and I don't mind you watching porn. I think I overreacted."
"No, I can stop if you want me too." Cooper said.
"No no. It's ok. I might want to watch a little too."
"Ok, good," Cooper said relieved, "that was going to be a hard hard promise to keep."
Tim awoke to someone calling his name. He opened his eyes to see his mother standing over him.
"Hi." Tim said sleepily, as he sat up.
"Here," she said handing him a $50 bill, "thanks for babysitting."
He handed the money back to her, "You don't have to pay me. I love spending time with her and to be honest it was nice being back here."
"I'd prefer that you take it."
"I don't want it."
"Do you have to be so stubborn all the time?" Tina Henderson said looking at her son.
"I'm not. I just don't like being paid like I'm a babysitter. I am your son in case you've forgotten.
"Thank you very much for helping me out. I appreciate it, but I think you should go." His mother said.
"I think I should go to," He stood up gingerly making sure his feet were going to support his weight. He walked to the door and then remembered something, "by the way someone keeps calling and not saying anything."
"What do you mean?"
"Like someone keeps calling and then hanging up. It happened three times before six and Tati said it happens all the time."
"Yeah, I thought I'd just let you know."
"Thanks." Tina said. She watched her son walk down the steps and she wished that he had taken the money. Even though he looked fine and seemed to be doing alright, it would have given her extra peace of mind if he had taken it. She walked back in the house and eyed the phone. She knew the phone problem had to be taken care of immediately.
****The next day****
Dr. Taylor was going through some last minute paperwork that had been sitting on her desk for weeks. She was finding harder and harder to manage her work as one of the psychologists for the health center as well as checking in numerous times of day with the Pride Center and the issues involving it. She looked at the clock on her computer and cursed when she saw that it was already 5:30. The debate didn't start until 6:30, but she didn't want to be late at all and she wanted to give Richard and Bliss a few words of encouragement before they took the stage.
Dr. Taylor looked up to see Jack smiling in her doorway, "Jack! This is a pleasant surprise."
"Hi, how are you Ms. Taylor?"
"You know better. Call me Jill."
"How are you Jill?"
"I'm good. Just a little swamped at the moment. How are you?"
"Ok, I guess."
"You don't sound too sure."
"I'm not doing all that great actually."
She nodded thinking she already knew what this is about, "Well this is a very hectic time for you; graduating from high school in a few weeks. It's normal to feel apprehensive about such a big change."
"Oh, it's not that. I already know I got into Sunnydale and I'm ready to leave high school, it`s so dumb. But I really need to talk to someone about something and I didn't know who else to go to." Jack said.
"You're still 17?"
"You do know that if you were to tell me anything that involved a crime or abuse of any kind that I'd have to report it."
"Ok then," she said as she came from around her desk and sat in the chair she normally sat in when she was in a session, "Have a seat."
"Thank you," Jack smiled, "wow, this chair is really comfortable."
She smiled, "What is it you want to talk about?"
"What about him?"
"Our relationship sucks and he's always on my back about everything."
"Give me an example."
"It's everything. I can never do anything right."
"How long have you felt this way?"
"Like the last year or so."
"Is there anything in particular that started this?"
"Yes, the realization that he killed my mother."
Dr. Taylor was visibly taken aback by what Jack had just said to her, especially given the warning she had given him before they sat down, "Jack, I thought your mother killed herself?"
"Well yeah she did, but he drove her to do that."
"Why do you think that?"
"Uh, because it's true. He never paid any attention to her and he cared about work more than her."
"You don't think there might be aspects of their relationship or aspects of your mother's personality that you were not privy too because of your age at the time?"
"I don't know, I guess, but that doesn't change that he didn't care for her. Why are we talking about this? I don't want to talk about this."
"Ok...so what is it you do want to talk about?"
"Sometimes, I get so angry with him...and I know I haven't been the greatest son and I've been acting out a little bit and he's disappointed I'm gay...but what can I do about that?"
"Depends on who you listen to." Dr. Taylor said calmly.
Jack smiled, "Do you really have to be all even keeled like that all the time?"
"It's my job."
"That's crazy, cause I could never do that."
"Jack, have you tried talking to your father? Letting him know clearly how you feel?"
"Yes, it doesn't work."
"Why not try another form of communication? Sometimes writing a letter that explains your feelings can be very beneficial or sometimes having someone you trust as a mediator might work as well to keep tempers under control."
"So you mean like making a grand gesture?" Jack asked.
"If you think it would help communicate your feelings better then why not try it? Sometimes, showing a willingness to fix a problem is what the other person needs to see, the solution comes further down the road."
"Thank you, this has been helpful. I know just the gesture I can make." Jack smiled.
"I'm glad I've been of help." Dr. Taylor smiled.
"Are you going to the debate in a little bit?"
"I am, just need to finish a few things here."
"I'll be there. I figure if I'm going to be a student here next year, I might as well see what I'm getting into. Thanks again Jill."
"I'm always here to help you, but in the future I'd prefer if we talked about personal matters away from the university. This would be considered a horrible conflict of interest."
Jack smiled, "Understood."
Nancy watched the clock and ignored the immense amount of chatter around her. As soon as the clock read 6:30, she immediately rang a bell and the crowd started to silence itself.
"For those of you who don't know," she said in a way that sounded as if she didn't believe there could be anyone in attendance that night who didn't know who she was, "my name is Nancy and I'm personal assistant to the President, Dr. Brown. I will be presiding over the debate tonight. We will start off with a few basic questions then allow people in the audience to ask our panelists some questions. All questions posed will be answered by each candidate. Can I have the candidates introduce themselves, please?"
"Lucas Mathias and my running mate here is Blake Matthews." Cheering was heard from a particular area of the audience. Chase looked over to see most of the people from his club cheering Lucas and Blake on.
"Too bad they're gonna lose." Joey snickerd.
"Shhh." Chase hissed with a smile.
"I am Miss Melinda Jenkins and my running mate is Kyle Parker."
"Oh look," Cooper smiled, "It's your best friend."
Toby gave him a dirty look, "I didn't even know the two of them knew each other."
"My name is Richard Channing."
"And I am Bliss Michaels."
All of their friends stood up and cheered. Dr. Taylor gave an embarrassed smile at the noises those around her were making, but she clapped politely. Cooper had continued screaming long after everyone else had stopped and Eric had to hit him on the shoulder to get him to quiet down.
"And finally?" Nancy said.
"My name is Morris Clemenson and I don't have a running mate at this time."
There was a slight murmur in the crowd after the announcement and Cooper leaned over to Eric, "That means he doesn't have any friends."
"Ok, be nice."
"The first question," Nancy started, is to tell the audience what you think the most important issue facing the school is. Mr. Mathias?"
"Yes," Lucas began, "I feel that the most important issue facing the school is the budget crisis. We consistently tell students there aren't enough classes or that they're going to have to pay for a given service when it was free the year before, but we still spend money in all the wrong places. Funding unnecessary clubs, building centers that we don't need, all without consulting the student body. That needs to change."
"For sure it's parking," Melinda said immediately, "there is no way in hell I should have to walk all the way from Lot 1 when my class is on the other side of campus. Especially when I wear heels...oh hell no."
"This needs to be a place where students feel that they belong," Richard started, "I think we need to make sure our student life not only has variety, but that everyone is fairly and equally represented. That also means advertising more events in various places so that all students know that there's something for them here."
"And you Mr. Clemenson?"
"I think the biggest issue is the dissemination of information. We need a more accurate way of letting everyone, administrators, professors, students, and other important members of the community know, in a concise and clear manner, what's happening, what decisions have been made, and what that means for all involved."
There was polite applause as the first round had been completed. Nancy cleared her voice and the crowd began to quiet down, "We all know student fee increases have been a major issue these last few years. I'd like to hear your thoughts on them?"
Lucas spoke before his co-candidate, Blake had a chance to form his thoughts, "Frankly, it's quite annoying. I go back to my earlier point, if the Board of Trustees and the University more carefully managed what money is spent on, the fees may not have to be raised so much every year. It's a hardship for many students."
"I'm on scholarship so..."Kyle said. Many in the audience laughed, but Melinda didn't as she prepared to answer the question, "It's not ok. We're all struggling students and I mean come on books are high as fu...can be, you can't buy a sandwich on campus for less than four dollars, and then they expect us to pay all this money to go here? Somebody is on something."
Bliss and Richard had decided to take turns answering questions, "Honestly, I don't know how much students can do," Bliss said seriously, "The university is supposed to have our best interests at heart, but it seems like every time there's a budget crisis, or funding gets cut, or the President needs a new office, the students take the brunt of it. It's not right, and it does make it more and more difficult for people of various backgrounds to attend school."
"Wow," Brian whispered to Cooper, "Is that the same Bliss we know?"
Cooper nodded, "Yep. I'd recognize those breasts anywhere."
"I respectfully reject the notion that students cannot do anything about the fee increases," Morris said, "it's all about priorities. We need to mobilize and go down to the capital whenever there's a vote and let it be clear through numbers that we will not tolerate it. If we don't put forth the effort, we can't expect things to change."
"I'd now like to open the floor for questions," Nancy said, "I ask that the candidates keep their answers short and to the point. Volunteers?"
For the next half an hour, each candidate answered questions ranging from the residence halls, to further questions on fee activities, and eventually expanding their ideas on what they most wanted to see happen.
"Thank you for all those questions from the audience, I'd like to ask the final question which is simply, why do you think you deserve the Presidency over the other candidates?"
"Frankly, I have the best reputation," Lucas said, "I don't have questionable ethics, I'm not involved with people who have questionable..."
"Who up here has questionable ethics or is involved with someone with questionable ethics?" Richard interrupted. He had finally gotten tired of all Lucas' snide remarks.
"Ironic that you of all people asked."
"Gentlemen," Nancy said trying to intervene, but they continued to talk over her.
"Be specific," Richard said glaring at him, "I don't think anyone up here has anything to hide."
"Didn't you date the person responsible for the rape last year in the residence halls?"
"Ok, that's enough." Nancy yelled over the commotion that had erupted in the crowd. Eric and Cooper both looked over to Toby who looked like he had been hit in the face with an ice cold glass of water.
"Sorry, but you're an asshole." Bliss said as she began to stand up.
"And you're a slut. You should be ashamed." Lucas fired back.
"Do not talk to her like that!" Melinda and Richard yelled back at him. Both Bliss and Richard were completely taken aback that Melinda had come to her rescue.
"She is not a slut and both of them are outstanding people. I don't know the other guy, but I know everything I need to know about you. You need to go somewhere with that stank attitude."
"This debate is over!" Nancy said, "If you guys cannot be civil and conduct yourselves in a responsible manner, the university will not give you a voice." She motioned to the sound guy who reluctantly turned off sound to the microphones as the candidates continued to argue.
"Boooo! Just when it was getting good." Cooper said.
"It's probably for the best, you ok?" Eric asked Toby.
"Yeah, I'm fine." Toby said, but he didn't look good at all.
"I'm sorry about that," Richard said to Toby as soon as he and Bliss joined the group, "I shouldn't have egged him on like that."
"It's fine. You did great."
"It's not fine, he's an asshole who seriously needs his ass kicked."
"No kidding," Bliss said looking over her shoulder at Lucas who was just now descending from the stage.
"Toby, do you want me to take you home?" Richard asked, looking at his ex with a worried expression.
"I'm fine, it was no big deal."
"Come here." Richard said as he led Toby into a corner of the auditorium by the arm.
Brian watched them as they retreated. He shook his head, what was he doing? He knew that he didn't have a chance, especially after Richard had been unable to give him a definite answer on where, if anywhere, they were going.
"Are we gonna be hear a while? Brian said looking over to Joey.
"Maybe for a little bit just to mingle." Joey said. He was eyeing Chase who seemed to be in a fairly heated discussion with some of the members of his club, "Why?"
"I need some fresh air I think. I'm gonna go outside just call me when you leave."
"I think I'm gonna go get some fresh air too," Eric said as he watched Brian weave his way through the crowd.
"Alright, I'll be here." Cooper said.
Eric patiently walked through the crowd of people, some trying to figure out who Lucas was referring to when he mentioned the detail about the rape, others were talking about who they were voting for. Eric saw Brian sitting on one of the stone benches and smiled as he sat next to him.
"You forgive me for earlier?" Brian asked.
"I guess." Eric joked.
"I didn't know it was going to be about that. He made it sound like it was some huge deal."
"Cooper can be dramatic at times. How are you?"
"You didn't look like it in there."
"You know how that goes. Just drama."
"Unfortunately, it seems to follow Toby. I mean I like the guy and all, but sometimes I just wish he could catch a break."
"I wish we all could. You've been lucky though right? With Cooper and all?" Brian inquired.
"Really lucky. I can't believe it sometimes. It's weird to think of where I was two years ago and where I am now," Eric reminisced, "you'll get there one day too."
"I know. It just sucks sometimes. I feel like I've been waiting forever to meet someone."
"I know what you mean."
"Hi guys!" Jack interrupted, "You're Eric...and..."
"Brian...do I know you?"
"No...well sort of. I'm Jack, Tim's friend. I've seen you guys at the ice cream shop a bunch of times."
"Oh, hey," Eric said wearily as he recounted everything Tim had spoken about him, "What are you doing here?"
"I'll be a student here next year and I figured I might as well see what was going on tonight."
"Are you excited about coming here?" Brian asked.
"Sort of. I mean I've been coming here for years; my dad is the President so it's not going to be that much of a change. But it'll be nice to know people from my school and some of the professors and you guys too."
"Right." Eric said.
"Well well well, look who it is." Linus said as Jack turned around. He wasn't alone. Behind Linus was six of his friends who all looked like they had come across their worst enemy.
"What?" Jack said angrily.
"I owe you and I came to pay up."
"You so much as breathe on me and I'll knock a few more of your teeth out." Jack growled as he stood his ground.
"You're pretty brave when you're outnumbered."
"Why are you even here?"
"Why don't you guys leave him alone and go away." Brian said as he watched from the bench.
"Is that one of your fag friends over there?" Linus asked rhetorically. The guys behind him laughed at the remark, "three on six...I still like our chances."
It took Eric a moment to realize what he was saying, but his heart immediately began to pound when Linus and his friends began to approach Jack. Brian had already jumped along side of Jack and was trying to talk reason to Linus and his friends, "Just walk away before somebody gets hurt!"
Eric, didn't want to leave Brian and Jack to fend off all of these guys by themselves so he reluctantly stood next to Brian and prayed that nothing would happen. While Brian continued to try and talk them down and Eric wished he was anywhere other than where he was, Jack was in a ready stance. He was looking at a random crack in the ground. At this moment in time, it wasn't a random crack to him. He was waiting for Linus or one of his crew to step a foot over that line. Once they did, Jack was going into attack mode, even if it meant throwing the first punch.
Joey had come outside to look for Brian but saw the altercation that was about to happen. He quickly ran back inside and ran towards his friends.
"There's trouble outside." He said quickly.
"With who?" Richard asked, now that he and Toby had rejoined the group.
"Eric and Brian."
"What?" Cooper said alarmed, "Go!" he said pushing Joey in the direction he had just come.
On her way out, Bliss and Melinda made eye contact for a mere second, before she followed her friends outside. Dr. Taylor had been talking to a faculty member and noticed the mass exodus of the boys and Bliss. She could tell by their body language that it wasn't something positive and so she ended the conversation as quickly as she could before following them outside.
Eric could feel the adrenaline running through his body. He was still hoping that no one would make the first move and that Linus would just walk away. He was also hoping that Jack wouldn't do anything stupid. He was being very quiet, despite all the taunts that Linus was throwing his way and Eric could see that he seemed to be concentrating on a spot in the ground. Brian was continuing to talk to Linus, "Just walk away. Nothing needs to happen."
"We need to shut him up first." someone from behind Linus had said. That's all Linus needed to hear. It all happened in slow motion. Jack realized that Linus had stepped over the crack he had been eyeing for the last several moments. At the same time he raised his fist, he heard a crash behind him. Toby, Richard, Joey, Cooper, and Bliss all came running through the door. Everyone had expected to stand side by side with Brian, Eric, and Jack to let the others know if there was going to be a fight, it was going to be with all of them. But Cooper stepped right in front of everyone while at the same time making sure he was blocking Eric and looked the shorter Linus in his eyes, "Back the fuck down."
"Cooper!" Eric said grabbing his arm, but Cooper shook him off. They stood staring at each other, Cooper knowing that Linus wasn't going to try anything now; he was outnumbered, but Cooper wanted to communicate firmly that whatever was going to happen now or later, Eric was off limits.
"Cooper?" Dr. Taylor said approaching the two groups, "what's going on?"
"Nothing," Cooper said confidently, "nothing at all."
"Jack?! Do you know these boys?"
"Yeah, the ugly one goes to my school."
"If you guys aren't students you need to leave the campus immediately," Dr. Taylor said harshly, "campus security will be called now to make sure you vacate the premises."
Cooper and Linus continued to lock eyes for a few more seconds before Linus decided that his earlier momentum was now clearly gone.
"That's what I thought motherfucker." Cooper whispered.
"I'll see you later." Linus said winking at Jack as he and his friends retreated.
"You ok?" Cooper asked Eric. Eric could tell that Cooper was very quickly but critically checking him over with his eyes.
"Yes, nothing happened."
"I wish it would have," Jack said, "Apparently, he needs another reminder."
"Jack, I don't want to hear you talk like that," Dr. Taylor said, "do you need a ride home?"
"Yeah, I'm sure my dad is long gone."
"Fine, if you need to get something go get it, if not let's go."
"It's not safe to walk by yourself at night," Richard said immediately, "especially since you don't know if those goons are going to leave campus or not."
"I'm sure we'll be fine." Dr. Taylor said.
"Dr. please," Richard said with a raised voice, "we don't need anything else happening to you. Toby will you walk with them and I'll come around in my car to get you?"
"It's not needed," Jack said, "I can handle myself."
"I don't even know you," Richard said aggressively, "It's for her."
Everyone turned around to see Melinda running from the auditorium at full speed. She stopped when she realized that besides Jack, she recognized all of the faces of the people huddled together, "Did I misread the signal?"
"No," Bliss said, "I didn't think you got it."
"Oh, I know that look," Melinda nodded, "Did I miss it?"
"Nothing happened. I'm surprised you came out here. I didn't think you would even if you had gotten the meaning."
Melinda shook her head, "Girl, I've wanted to cut you these last couple months, but when it's time to get down, you know I'm there for you."
And they gave each other a huge hug as if no time had passed in their friendship.
"What the fuck just happened?" Joey asked.
"Ooooh," Melinda said breaking the hug, "I need to go back in there. There's about twenty football players waiting to run out here in about two minutes. I had them as backup just in case we was getting our asses whooped."
Dr. Taylor shook her head disappointedly and everyone with the exception of Bliss looked around at each other trying to figure out what was going on.
"Wow, ok." Joey said, "I want whatever she's smoking."
"Where are you parked?" Toby asked Dr. Taylor trying to ignore the disturbance that was Melinda.
"I can be there in a few minutes." Richard said.
"Alright let's go then." Toby said as he Jack and Dr. Taylor began to walk in the direction of her car.
"Brian, you're with me." Richard said firmly, "Bliss you too."
"I actually think I'm gonna stay and chat with Melinda. We have some catching up to do." she smiled
"Fine, then go inside, please so I know you`re safe."
"And you're not getting out of my sight." Cooper said to Eric.
Eric scoffed at him, "Ok this isn`t World War 3. I don`t need a protector."
"Can you just be quiet for once and just let something be easy."
Eric put his hands up in surrender, "Fine."
"And what about me?" Joey whined.
"We'll use you as a decoy to make sure they're really gone, Cooper deadpanned, "You getting your ass kicked will give us all time to get away."
"You're so mean."
"You know I'm kidding man. You're safe with me and Eric I won't let anything happen to you."
"Good, cause I'm too pretty to be fighting with hooligans."
"Don't worry you're too short, they wouldn't see you anyway."
"You'll be alright?" Richard said looking at Cooper.
"We'll be fine. You got Toby right?"
"Alright, see you later and good job man. I hope you win."
"Thanks." Richard smiled.
"Come in." Dr. Brown said the next morning. He wasn't at all surprised to see Dr. Taylor walk through his office doors, "I knew you'd be here this morning."
"Then you know me quite well. I assume you were updated on last night's events."
"I was. Nancy gave me the complete rundown. I'm sure our campus security is very grateful. They have lots to do when you're around."
"What do you plan on doing about that?"
"Security on this campus. A group of gay students, one of them being your son, was almost attacked on campus last night."
"Here we go." Dr. Brown said exasperated.
"You're right, we're talking about this again. When the posters were vandalized twice and there was an obvious motive against the openly queer students who were running, the administration said nothing. We were lucky to get our own funding for The Pride Center cause it was obvious that you didn't feel we deserved it, but why am I surprised that you're not a supporter of queer issues, you didn't even lift a finger when I was attacked. Has that person been caught yet by the way?" She finished sarcastically.
"Last night's near altercation was a personal issue between two students, neither of which are students of the university. It had nothing to do with anyone being gay."
"Can we speak off the record for a moment?"
"Yes," Dr. Brown said immediately. He had a few choice words he wanted to say to her too.
"I don't know what your issue is, but helping the queers on campus won't make your son any more or less gay. Something needs to be done now and immediately. You have staff and students that have been threatened. What kind of atmosphere do you expect will be created here when you allow things like this to happen?"
"And you need to realize that not everything is about someone's sexuality. Perceived or true. Sometimes people don't get along, kind of like you and I. Sometimes it's due to ignorance and it comes out in the form of racism, sexism, homophobia, whatever, but for you and I, it's a disagreement on how to conduct one's self."
"Excuse me? I always am professional in dealing with my students and any issues that arise. And you're damn right we have differing opinions on how to conduct one's self. I actually try and make a difference."
"So much so that your partner is unhappy. I guess we should all aspire to care about things so much that we treat those we love the most as second class citizens."
"Let some tell it and your personal life isn't stellar either. How's your relationship with your son?"
There was silence between them as they both tried to gather their thoughts and return to what they originally were talking about, "We're back on the record," Dr. Brown said, "I'm the President of this University and I have the final say in all matters concerning this university, if you have concerns regarding the security, safety, or treatment of students, then you need to make a formal complaint. You can get the forms from Delta. If you don't have anything tangible or realistic to add, you need to leave my office."
"I can go over your head." Dr. Taylor said.
"Good luck with that."
"It's amazing how the leader of an academic institution can be the most ignorant person in its walls." She slammed the door to his office as she exited and hastily walked past Delta and the student assistant. She tried to blow off steam as she walked back to her office, but she couldn't help but think that a new course of action needed to be taken. If the President didn't care about protecting all students, then she'd have to force his hand.
Thanks for reading this latest update. One chapter is left before I go on a hiatus for however long. All questions, comments, and constructive criticisms can be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.