WRITERS NOTE: I apologize in advance for the terrible writing you'll have to endure in the last two scenes. But it needed to be done.
Three Roads: Chapter 58: Blood In Blood Out
"Honey, we're home!" Cooper yelled as he and Eric walked into the house.
"Hey." Toby yawned.
"Were you asleep?" Eric asked as he sat one of Cooper's bags down.
"I was just taking a little nap."
"You mean you weren't pacing the living room, excitedly awaiting my return?" Cooper asked with a goofy grin on his face.
"You weren't gone that long." Toby said as he plopped on the couch.
Cooper smirked, "It was three weeks, that must have been torture."
"More like heaven."
"Back at you, buddy." Toby said sticking up his middle finger.
"Ah, I missed home." Cooper said as he leaped onto Toby's lap.
"Get off me, you homo!" Toby yelled with a smile on his face as he pushed Cooper to the floor, "did you give your boyfriend the same welcome?"
"Oh, he'll be getting his welcome later on tonight." Cooper said as he winked at Eric.
"Tomorrow's our first day of school, so you guys better keep it down."
Cooper gave Toby a weird look, "What are you talking about? We're always quiet."
"Are you shitting me? Between your moaning and Eric's giggling, I always know when you guys are messing around."
"Ok," Eric said turning red, "what's this surprise you've got Cooper?"
"Oh, I almost forgot." Cooper said leaping off the floor and reaching into his back pocket.
"I'm so relieved he's not reaching into the front of his pants." Toby laughed.
"Look at this bitches!" Cooper smiled as he produced a small card from his wallet.
"You finally got your license!" Eric gasped.
"It's about damn time. What twenty one year old doesn't have their license?" Toby said.
"You didn't even tell me you were thinking about getting it." Eric said hitting Cooper in the shoulder playfully.
"It wouldn't have been a surprise, now would it?"
Toby stood up. "Congratulations, now all you need is a car you scrub."
"My parents have offered to buy me one. I told them when I see something I like, they can just put the money in my account."
"Damn, they've got the money for that?" Eric said, a little envious.
"Yeah." Cooper shrugged.
"Must be nice, my car sounds like it's about to die sometimes."
"And then I'll get my parents to buy my lover a car." Cooper said leaning over for a kiss. Eric, lost in the moment, began to giggle.
Toby pointed at the pair accusatorily, "See, that's the giggle right there."
"Look, an old lady walking with her cane just passed us." Toby pointed, as the boys made their way to campus the following morning.
Cooper looked to the sidewalk, "Did an old woman really just pass me?"
"Keep your eyes on the road!" Eric yelled his hands tightly in fists at his side. He turned to Toby, "Could you please not distract him while he's in control of machinery that weighs several tons."
Toby nodded, "Sorry."
"You're doing a good job," Eric tried to say as positively as possible.
"I know," Cooper smiled back, "the car hasn't flipped over yet."
"If you ever want to drive my car again, you won't make jokes like that."
"Aye aye captain."
A few minutes later Cooper was pulling into one of the many school parking lots.
"Where should I park?" Cooper asked.
"Somewhere where there isn't a lot of cars." Toby said.
"Over there is fine." Eric said pointing to an area that made Toby smile, since it had nearly no cars.
"We made it." Cooper smiled to both boys in the car.
"We did." Eric smiled. He smiled mostly not to let Cooper onto the fact that he had been scared throughout the short ride from their house, "Feels good to be back doesn't it?" Eric asked, wanting to forget the last few minutes.
"Yeah, I've missed all the construction noise and dirt flying everywhere." Cooper said.
"Yeah, you'd think they'd do this shit while we're gone over summer break, but it seems like they wait right until we're coming back to start everything." Toby said looking around.
"Well at least we have someone to complain to now." Cooper smiled.
Richard looked around and smiled. He couldn't believe he had his own office. Sure, it was small, and it really wasn't that great, there was an ugly looking pipe sticking out from one of the walls, but it was his. He looked at the clock and saw that it was a quarter to eight. He couldn't believe he'd been here almost an hour already, but so was the job of the chief of staff. He picked up a folder full of papers, Morris had left for him, but that he hadn't had a chance to go over yet. He closed his office door and again glanced at the lettering on the door that read "Chief of Staff."
He headed down the long hallway and passed some of the people that he would be supervising. Soon enough, he walked into the large boardroom and saw that most everyone was already there, including Lucas Mathias.
"Morning everyone." Richard said. He decided to start off the year on the right foot and even gave a nod to Lucas, who simply smirked.
"I think we're all here," Morris said looking at everyone, "but it's eight so let's get started. I'll keep it short and simple. This is everyone on your team for the next year. You don't have to like each other, but in order to be as successful as possible, you will need to be cordial to each other. I'd like to introduce a few of the non elected members of our team. Richard Channing is our chief of staff. Each week weekly reports will be due to him by 5 p.m. every Friday. You also all will need to schedule bi-monthly meetings with him to update him on projects and goals for the coming weeks. I'd also like to introduce, Lucas Mathias, he'll be handling all press and requests from the press. I'd appreciate if any releases to the school newspaper or outside media go through him first. Any questions?"
Richard looked around the room and everyone seemed to be wondering how the guy in front of them had been elected their leader.
"Swell. Hopefully you've all had a chance to look at the packets I put together. We're hitting the ground running. The Blood Drive starts this week and I've been in contact with the representatives who are coming in to make sure they are prepared for at least 1,000 students."
"Wait, the blood drive is going to be here on campus?" Richard blurted out.
"Yeah." Morris shrugged.
"Didn't it use to be just down the road at the big shopping center? Why is it different this year?"
Lucas was smiling. He knew what Richard was getting at and he loved the idea of having one up on Richard, "I've been in contact with them as well to prepare the release that was going to in the school paper. They felt like they would get a better turnout and I agree, it was a dumb idea to have it somewhere else."
"Everything ok?" Morris asked looking at the strange look on Richard's face.
"Yeah, I'm fine." he lied.
"I don't understand," Brian said as he took a bite of his sandwich, "you're mad because they're going to be on campus?"
"Yes and no." Richard said getting frustrated.
"I'm mad because the Federal Drug and Food Administration doesn't allow gay men to donate blood."
"Supposedly because gay men have a much higher rate than the general population for contracting AIDS and HIV."
"Well don't they?"
Richard gave Brian a harsh look, "That's not what this is about."
"Why are you getting mad at me? I'm just trying to understand." Brian asked.
"Don't worry about it, I can talk to Toby about it later."
Brian's face stayed emotionless and Richard immediately caught on to how Brian would take what he just said, "I didn't mean it like that. I just meant he's my barometer for stuff like this. We're similar in a lot of ways so he'll tell me if I'm off base or not. I swear that's all I meant."
"It's ok." Brian nodded.
Richard took a deep breath, "How's your first day going?"
"It's ok. It's always nice to be back...for the first few days anyway."
Richard laughed, "Yeah and then you realize you're fucked."
Brian smiled as he shrugged, "I've never been fucked so I wouldn't know."
Richard's left eyebrow went up, "Don't say things like that, we're dating now, I might be a little more pushy."
"Maybe you should be." Brian winked.
"Are you done for the day?" Richard asked.
"Damn, you are horny." Brian laughed.
"No, I was asking to advance the conversation, but if you are free, I'm sure we could head back to my apartment." Richard said again raising his eyebrow.
"Well, unfortunately for you, I have two more classes today, so it's not going to happen, but sometime."
Richard pretended to pout, "Fine, then go to your class. But leave now, I want to watch your ass as you walk away from me."
"I'll see you later." Brian laughed as he picked up his backpack and slung it over his shoulder. After walking several steps, he looked back to see Richard watching him as he walked away. He blushed and heard Richard yell, "Keep walking."
"That's fuckin bullshit!" Toby said as he pounded the kitchenn table as Richard recounted to him what happened at his meeting earlier that morning.
"That's what I thought too."
"That rule is just to discriminate against gay people, it really pisses me off." Toby said.
"See, I didn't think I was off base with this, I just wish that asshole Lucas hadn't known before me."
"When is the blood drive happening?" Cooper asked.
"Thursday and Friday." Richard said.
"Damn, they're really trying to get everybody early." Toby said.
Richard nodded, "Yeah, they know everyone's in a less cynical mood at the beginning of the semester, so they'll probably be a better turnout."
Toby shook his head disgustedly, "Figures, this pisses me off."
"You said that already." Richard smiled.
"It pisses me off that much, I feel the need to say it over and over again."
"I did some research on this last semester for my social justice class," Cooper began before being interrupted by Toby.
"Uh oh, here comes Mr. Sociology." he laughed.
Cooper stuck up his middle finger, "It's not just gay people that the rule excludes. It's any guy that's had any sexual contact with another man since 1977. You could be a straight guy that's experimented with a guy one time, and because of that you're not allowed to give blood."
"I thought all the blood is tested anyway?" Richard asked.
"It is, ever since the AIDS breakout in the 80's, which makes the rule even more useless." Cooper said.
"I don't understand how this could happen," Toby said, "I mean if we can all sit here and see how blatantly discriminatory this sounds, how is the F.D.A. allowed to make a decision like that."
"Well, when the President of your country stands up and says gay people shouldn't be allowed to marry, you can get away with a lot of homophobic bullshit." Richard said.
Cooper nodded, "What's even more interesting is that Black women are something like twenty times more likely than white women to contract HIV, but you don't see the F.D.A. banning Black women from donating blood. Could you imagine the outrage that would happen if they announced they were doing that?"
"That's what's sad about this," Toby said, "people either are fine with it cause their assholes or they go that sucks and move on. Nobody cares enough to really do something."
"So then maybe I should. I mean I'm in a position to do something about it." Richard said.
"That might mess with your student government position." Cooper said.
"Fuck that!" Toby yelled, "this isn't right, he should do what he can. You want to be in politics, this is the kind of stuff you'll have to step up on."
Richard nodded in agreement, but his voice was anything but confident, "You're right."
Cooper thought carefully about what he was going to say before he said it, "But blood donations help a lot of people. You might be sending the wrong message if you try to disrupt that."
"He has a point." Richard acknowledged.
"Does he?" Toby shot back.
"Seriously though," Cooper continued, "there'd be a lot of people dying without blood donations. Even if you don't care about the homophobic adults, think of all the children that are helped. You don't want people to think that you're not aware of all the good things that come from allowing people to give blood.
"That's true." Richard said.
Toby now had his hands crossed at his chest, "You're right, they are important, which is all the more reason why there shouldn't be discrimination when it comes to who can give blood. They help dictate policies and opinions. You'd expect a bunch of educated people to come up with a policy that makes sense."
Cooper nodded, "But, if you travel to certain countries, you're barred from giving blood for a certain amount of time, same as if you get a tattoo. Just think though, if gay men weren't so promiscuous in general..."
"I hate when you do that." Toby interrupted.
"When you talk in circles like that and get all Mr. sociologist on us."
"Sorry, it offends you, but I haven't said anything that isn't true."
"Maybe you and all the other sociology majors have thousands of years to come up with every possibility of why something happens, but some of us choose to deal with what's right in front of us." Toby said.
"I see. Tell me how that's been working for ya." Cooper said.
"Alright guys, come on," Richard said giving them both a look, "we're all negatively affected by this, let's not start tearing each other apart."
"Well, you already know what I think. I think you should take this opportunity to step up and be right next to them passing out flyers, explaining how ridiculous it is that they have such policies."
"I'm not against that," Cooper said, "you should just also make it clear that you are aware that despite this misstep in judgment, that they do a lot of good."
"Damn, that sounds like something a politician would say." Richard smiled.
"I'm the king of bullshit. Did you make us dinner?" Cooper asked when he saw Eric come out of the kitchen carrying a pot that was covered with plastic wrap to keep the pasta inside warm.
"No, I made my mom and Jamie dinner."
"You're going to your mom's house?"
"No, we're going."
"Uhh...did your mom change her mind about wanting to have us over for dinner?"
"No, but we're going to give her a little push."
"You sure that's a good idea?" Cooper called after Eric as he disappeared into the kitchen. "Help me!" Cooper pleaded to Toby.
"Hell no, leave me out of this."
"Yes, I'm sure it's a good idea," Eric said as he laid the garlic bread on the table, "You want to grab the pasta, I have to go get my keys."
"Eric, how do you even know they're going to be home?"
"Cause my mom doesn't get off of work for another hour or so, so we'll get there a little after she picks up Jamie and gets home, it's perfect."
"I really don't think this is a good idea."
"Can you give me a little support here, you do want my mother to be ok with us right?"
"Then you'll come. Trust me, it'll all be ok."
"There's still time for us to turn around and they'll never know we were here." Cooper said, almost pleading with Eric.
"Stop whining and plus traffic would be terrible, we might as well stay here for a little bit." Eric said as he knocked on the door.
"Who is it?" A little kids voice asked through the door.
"Jamie, it's Eric."
"Eric!" Jamie squealed swinging open the door. "He quickly put his arms as high as he could get on Eric's body."
"Hi Jamie, can you let go so I can get in?"
"Aunt Carol! Eric and Cooper are here!" Jamie yelled, he then proceeded to give Cooper a hug as well.
"Watch the balls buddy." Cooper said.
"We are in my mother's house." Eric whispered, "Behave."
"Did something happen?" Carol asked as she came into the living room.
"No, mom," Eric said as he sat down the pot of pasta and gave his mother a hug, "everything is fine, Cooper and I just decided that we should surprise you guys and make you dinner."
"Oh, I see."
"Yep," Eric noticed his mother's hesitation, "you guys just have a seat and I'll go and get some plates from the kitchen."
Cooper wanted to call after Eric not to leave him alone, but he decided against it as he watched Eric disappear, "It's good to see you again, Carol." Cooper said trying to break the ice.
She nodded before realizing she hadn't said anything, "Oh, it's nice to see you too."
"How come nobody's talking?" Jamie asked when there was silence for a several moments.
Carol looked directly at Cooper as she spoke, "Sometimes grown ups don't say anything to keep from saying something they might regret."
Cooper didn't know what to say so he pretended to be occupied with the plastic wrap on the pasta. Eric came out smiling a few seconds later with all the utensils they would need.
"Isn't this exciting and fun? All of us together about to break bread."
"I think this is fun!" Jamie said, "we should do this every night!"
Eric patted Jamie`s head, "I like your enthusiasm. Have a seat everyone.
As Cooper and Carol uneasily sat around the table, Eric began putting generous amounts of spaghetti on each plate before passing them around.
"Mom, I made it the way you always make it. I hope it's as good as yours is."
"If only you'd listen to me in other aspects of your life." his mother deadpanned.
"I say the same thing all the time." Cooper said trying to crack the tension with a joke.
"Oh really about what?"
Cooper was trying to think of something appropriate to say, but nothing that wasn't x-rated was coming to mind.
"Oh, you know like about which classes to take and things like that." Eric said coming to his aid as he sat down, "So mom, what's new, how's work?"
"I have another bladder infection." Carol said smiling.
Cooper choked on his piece of garlic bread and Eric smiled uneasily, "I didn't know you'd had a first one. How many have you had?"
"This is the third or fourth one I've had this year."
"Why didn't you say anything?"
"I would imagine," Carol said swirling pasta on her fork, "that most mothers don't discuss their bodily processes with their son."
"What's a bladder?" Jamie asked.
"It's what helps you take a..." Cooper started but stopped when he felt Eric and his mother looking at him, "why don't we talk about that later ok?"
"Well are you on medication or anything?"
"Yeah, but it's not helping very much. I saw a specialist and I'm just waiting on the results of some tests I took. I haven't been able to urinate properly in forever it seems. This pasta is really good." Carol said.
"Thanks, well things are going great for me. The first day of school was great, I think I'll like all my classes, it was just a great day all around and now I'm in a room with some of my favorite people and we're having fun!"
"I like you when you're in a good mood." Jamie smiled.
"Yeah, it doesn't happen that often does it." Carol said.
Cooper laughed and was also grateful that it looked like an opening had been found to have a decent conversation, even if it was at Eric`s expense, "Yeah, try living with him."
"I did for almost eighteen years." Carol said without looking up at Cooper.
"I see empty plates, who wants seconds?!" Eric said cheerfully.
"I do!" Jamie said putting his hands in the air.
"Are you going to talk to me now that we're home?" Eric asked.
"To be honest, it's probably better that I don't." Cooper said pushing the front door open.
"Are you mad?"
"Of course I am! You put me in an incredibly awkward position."
"I didn't do it on purpose."
"Yes you did. You forced your mother to do something she obviously didn't want to do and you made me participate."
"Sorry, I just want you and her to get along."
"Yes, but your mother will always forgive you, you're her son. That's not the case with me, I only get so many times to show her I'm worth being with her son. Does she know this wasn't my idea?"
"I don't know, but I'll tell her. I can't believe you're this mad about it. You could be a little more supportive, it wasn't even that bad."
"Eric, you spent all night acting like you were a performer on Sesame Street."
"I did not...I don't even know what that means."
"You know how on Sesame Street all the people act like they're happy and overly cheery and they make you want to stab yourself in the neck? That's how you were acting all night. The only person who responded to you was Jamie, and that's because he's six and thought it was funny. Your mother and I hardly spoke a word to each other."
"OK, I'm sorry. I'm a horrible person for wanting my boyfriend and my mother to get along. Is that what you want to hear?"
Cooper exhaled deeply, "I didn't say you were a horrible person. I'm just saying you can't force people to do things they don't want to do and then expect everything to work out."
"Fine, next time I try and do something good, I'll just leave you out of it." Eric said as he stormed off through the house. A few seconds later Cooper heard the slamming of his door.
"You're home late." Tim said as Jack walked into the studio apartment they were still sharing.
"I sent you a couple text messages, did you get them?"
"Yeah, I did." Jack said dropping his backpack on the floor.
"And you didn't think to respond?"
"You're not going to start being like my dad are you? Like you said I'm eighteen now, I'm a big boy, I don't need anyone to look out for me."
"Ok...so what were you doing?"
Jack gave Tim an exasperated look and Tim put his hands up, "I'm asking because I'm curious not because I'm trying to police you."
"I was on campus with some of the people I knew in high school. I've been on that campus so many times, but it was great to know that I didn't have to go home when my dad felt like it and that I could do whatever I want."
"You say that a lot."
"And you never fail to remind me that there are laws and restrictions no matter how old you are."
"That's cause there are." Tim said quickly.
"Did you run into your dad at all?"
"Thankfully, no, I hope it doesn't happen."
"He is the President of the University, I'm sure it'll happen at one point or another. You think you're going to go four years there without running into your dad?"
"Four years at Sunnydale? I won't be at Sunnydale for four years."
"Uh...where will you be?"
"Who knows. I do now I'll be here just long enough to make sure I can get into another school somewhere else and then I'm out of here."
"Alrighty then." Tim smiled sarcastically.
"You don't believe me? You should know by now that I can do anything."
Cooper quietly opened the door to Eric's room and peered in. Eric looked to be asleep so he just as cautiously closed the door. He tiptoed to the bed and tried to climb in with as little commotion as possible. Eric's eyes suddenly popped open and his voice was shaky, "Toby?"
"Are you cheating on me with Toby?" Cooper said jokingly.
"Cooper! What are you doing?"
"We almost always sleep together, so I was coming to sleep with you."
"I'm mad at you!"
"So?!" Eric almost screeched, "that means I don't want to sleep with you."
"You can't be that angry about it. For one, I should be the one who is mad and two, that was hours ago. I'm over it, you should be too."
"Don't tell me how to feel."
"Fine, whatever, you really don't want to sleep with me tonight?"
"No, I don't."
"Alright." There was something in the way that Cooper said it, that made Eric restless the entire night. He knew that for the first time since they'd been together, Cooper was actually mad at him.
"Alright, everyone, I'm ready to get started." Richard said the following night at the first Queer Straight Alliance meeting, "Welcome everyone, I see a lot of familiar faces and some new faces, it looks like you guys have had a chance to mingle a little bit. I'm Richard Channing and I'm President of the Queer Straight Alliance and I lead this group last year as well. The Pride Center, which is where you are now for those of you that don't know, is where we will have our meeting each week. You're also welcome to drop by at anytime during our office hours to hang out, do some studying, or just to say hi. I'll be here quite often, but not always as I'm also Chief of Staff for the student government, but you're also welcome to stop by there if you ever need to talk to me and I'm not here, it's likely I'll either be in class, here, or there. The times I'm not here, Joey will be here and he's just as competent as I am at answering any questions or helping you with any resources you might need."
"Most of the time." Brian mumbled, causing a few people to laugh.
"And even though he doesn't work here, Brian is always here as well, you'll get to know him too."
"Yep, he's our pet project from Norway." Joey said.
"They're always like that," Richard smiled, "While we're doing introductions, I thought it'd be a good idea to introduce our mother hen. Every club has to have a staff member who sort of looks out for the well being of the club. Dr. Jill Taylor is responsible for getting the funding to keep the Pride Center up and running and she also works in the Health Center, counseling students on a variety of issues and topics. I'll let her give you a bit more information."
"He's so kind isn't he? As he said I'm Dr. Jill Taylor and I've been working here at Sunnydale University for a very long time. I'm not going to say how long, because it might just give away my age."
"Here's a hint, it's before the stone age." Richard smirked.
Dr. Taylor laughed, "You are so fired. Anyways, I'll keep it short, but I'll be here every now and again for meetings and I do drop in at least once or twice a day just to see how things are going, so I'm sure I'll get to converse with most, if not all of you. I'd also just like to say that soon there will be a lot of political avenues that this club will have the opportunity to explore. Over the years, things have gotten a lot better for the Queer Community on campus, but it's in danger of all being destroyed because some of the members of the administration don't like the progress we've made. Everything is still in the early stages, but as soon as a course of action has been made clear, I'll make sure you guys are the first to know."
Dr. Taylor sat down and Richard exchanged glances with Bliss and both looked confused as to what Dr. Taylor had just said, but Richard continued, "As I said, I recognize most of the faces here, but there are some I don't, so I thought it'd be a good idea to have everyone say a little about themselves and where they fit on the queer alphabet."
"You should explain that," Joey smirked, "I still don't know what the hell that means, I'm sure they don't."
"Well we like to think of ourselves as part of the GLBTIQQA community. That stands for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-gendered, inter-sex, queer, questioning, and allied community."
"Got it." Joey said.
The door to the Pride center opened and much to the surprise of people who had encountered him, Chase walked in, "Sorry for being late."
He quickly found a seat in the circle, but not without first making eye contact with Joey.
"It's fine," Richard said hesitantly, "we were just about to do introductions. Why don't you start?"
"What do I need to say?" Chase asked.
"Tell us a little about yourself and where you fall on the queer alphabet."
"Yes it is," Joey interrupted harshly, "why don't you start with that one first."
"Ok, um...I guess I'm questioning myself. I grew up in a pretty religious background so things are a little confused in my head I guess. Oh, my name is Chase and I'm in my last year as a student here, but I don't really want to leave cause I like it here...and the people too." he said chancing a glass at Joey.
"Welcome Chase, hopefully you stick around." Richard said, "who's next?"
"I'll go next." a fairly feminine boy raised his hand. He made a show of standing up before continuing, "my name is Marvin and I am gay. It's been a hard road for me, as I've always known I'm gay, but only been out since high school. This is my first year here, but I'm actually twenty five. I'm late, but hey, everyone does it on their own time. I am also proud to say that I am a gold star of the queer community."
"A gold star?" Bliss repeated. She looked around the room to see that everyone else, including Dr. Taylor, had looks of confusion on their faces.
"Yes, I have never touched a vagina. I was born through caesarian section and I've never been with a woman."
Richard smirked, Bliss' face continued to look confused, and Brian and Joey both rolled their eyes at each other.
"Cooper will be sad to know that he's no longer the gayest person in Sunnydale." Joey whispered to Brian.
"You learn something new everyday here" Richard smiled, "who's next?"
"I'd like to go next." Jack said raising his hand with a mischievous grin.
"I didn't realize the chief of staff was allowed to call emergency meetings." Lucas said the next morning before anyone else had the chance to speak.
"He is," Morris acknowledged, "you are as well."
"Only under specific circumstances. I didn't have to, but I wanted to give everyone a heads up." Richard said.
"We're not going to wait for everyone to get here?" Lucas asked.
"Under the guidelines, in the case of an emergency meeting, not everyone is required to attend. As long as we have 2/3 of the elected body here we're allowed to proceed," Richard said, "so can I continue or are you going to attempt to disrupt my meeting again?"
Glances were exchanged between various members who weren't up to date on the history between Richard and Lucas.
"Anyway, I called the emergency meeting because of the Blood Drive that's starting tomorrow. The Queer Straight Alliance that I head will be near by handing out pamphlets alerting students to the discriminatory practices that does not allow men who have had any sexual contact with another male to donate blood."
"Sorry," Lucas said again interrupting, "but this is basically another the gays aren't getting their way so we're going to ruin a good thing."
"No, that's not it all. It's not just a gay issue, if you're straight and have experimented with a male after 1977, you're barred from donating. Secondly, we're not going to be picketing the event, just handing out flyers. We're only going to speak when spoken too. Like I said we're not going to be there to cause trouble, because we realize that blood donations benefit lots of people, we're just there to let everyone know that it's not perfect, and the process can definitely be fixed. Anyone who wants to see it differently, just wants to cause trouble."
"How is the President going to feel about this?" someone asked.
"He's probably not going to be happy about this, but that shouldn't be our concern, or more specifically my concern."
"You don't think it's a conflict of interest?" Morris asked evenly.
Richard nodded, "It is a conflict of interests, but I think I'm handling it in the best way possible. I'll be there the entire time that the QSA will be handing out information so that if anyone gets out of hand, they'll be removed."
"Are you guys still not speaking?" Toby asked as he took a drink from his water bottle.
"Pretty much," Cooper said stealing a chip from Toby, "to be honest I'm not sure I want to talk to him at the moment."
"Really? Are you really that mad about him making you go to his mom's house. I can understand why he did it."
"I was a little annoyed, but I'm more mad that he didn't want to sleep with me."
Toby rolled his eyes, "God, you're horny."
"It has nothing to do with horniness, we have been sleeping together almost every night."
"I think a couple's bed is extremely sacred. I think if you are so mad at your boyfriend that you can't sleep in the same bed with him, then you have serious problems."
"I think it's common for couples gay or straight to not want to sleep together after an argument. It's probably more for safety than anything else. You don't want to wake up to them bashing you in the head. Sometimes you just need to cool off."
"Well, when he's not mad anymore, he can come and find me, I'm not being the bigger person this time."
"The honeymoon really is over huh?" Toby asked.
"I'm surprised you're actually mad at him, I didn't think it was possible."
"My feelings are hurt. He accused me of not supporting him. I went to his mom's house when I didn't want to, I tried to make the best of the situation, and it just didn't work. Then he rejected me." Cooper said looking down, "I was the one who was put in the awkward position, but in the end I understood why he did it, so it wasn't a big deal. But then he just...threw me aside like that."
"He was just mad, it doesn't mean he doesn't love you or anything, he just let his feelings of the moment get the best of him."
"I know, it just sort of brings back all those emotions I had before we were together. I'm always terrified, he'll get tired of me and leave me."
"He's not going to."
"He's the one for me, I'm sure."
"I hope so, for your sake." Toby smiled.
"Thank you, but I guess the honeymoon is over. Like before it was just like wow he actually wants me and that was enough to make me happy. Now it's like I actually love being with him for who he is and what he looks like naked."
"There's the Cooper I know!"
"In all serious though, it's been almost nine months."
"It's a long time, especially for gay men." Toby said.
"You know, I think that once you hit that year mark you should know whether or not you can spend the rest of your life with that person."
Toby thought about it for a minute, "Yeah, you're probably right."
"Did you feel that way about you and Richard?"
"Yeah. I thought we'd spend the rest of our lives together."
"So what happened?"
"Do I really need to recount the story?" Toby said.
"I meant more like what do you think happened. If you thought you'd spend the rest of your life with him, why aren't you?"
"Shit happens," Toby shrugged, "I think we'd probably still be together if we hadn't gone to separate colleges the first year, but who knows what it'd be like. I think I learned a lot about him and myself that I wouldn't have learned otherwise, so something's lost and something's gained in living everyday."
"That's from that song you listen to when you're sad with that woman who sounds like she smokes."
"Her name is Joni Mitchell."
"I know who she is, she needs to lay off the cigs."
"Whatever, you just go patch things up with your boy toy. I hate when you guys fight cause then I have to figure out which one I'm going to talk to."
"Hello Richy!" Bliss squeaked into her telephone, "How is my favorite homosexual?"
Richard grinned, "Your favorite homosexual is good, how is my favorite person with breasts?"
"Driving home. I'm glad this day is over."
"Not really, I've just had a headache all day. I'm just gonna go home and probably be in bed early."
"Do you think you'll be ok for tomorrow?"
"I don't have classes tomorrow."
"I know," Richard said, "I meant for the blood drive. Remember at the QSA meeting how I said we wanted volunteers who were willing to pass out flyers for some portion of the day? I thought you were interested."
"I am...or was. I don't think I'll be able to make it." Bliss said quietly.
"Why not?" Richard couldn't believe she was blowing him off, especially when she didn't have classes.
"Don't take this the wrong way, but I just don't really think we should be doing this. I understand why you want to and I think you should, but...I would feel weird being out there."
"You think what I'm doing is wrong?"
Bliss could tell Richard was angry, so she tried to calmly explain her point of view, "I don't think it's wrong, I just don't feel it's the right thing for me to do. It's nothing personal."
"How could I not take this personally? This is important to me."
"Richy, I support you, I just don't think I need to show my support this time by being there. I've been there for almost every other event, this time we disagree a little bit, it's no big deal."
"Why do you disagree?"
"Is this necessary, I have a headache."
"It is, I want to know why you're bailing on me."
"I don't think we should talk about this while you're angry."
"Whatever, I need to go." Richard said ending the call abruptly before Bliss had a chance to respond.
The following morning, Richard was joined by eight members of the Queer Straight Alliance. Jack had shown more in hopes that his father would show up and be pissed off that he was causing even a minor disruption to the Blood Drive, Cooper was there half in support of Richard, but also because he felt it was his duty as a budding sociologist to make people aware of a seemingly unfair and biased decision, standing next to him was Joey who was there only because Richard had required he be there.
"It's not that early in the morning." Cooper yawned.
"Yes, the hell it is." Joey also yawned, "I better be getting paid for this."
"Ok so it is early in the morning, but at least it's for a good cause."
"Does protesting even really do anything?" Joey said more as a statement than a question.
"For the millionth time, we're not protesting," Richard said a little testily from behind him, "we're just hear to make sure everyone's informed."
"Ok." Joey said defensively raising his hands.
"Are you really going to be out here all day?" Cooper asked.
"Well the blood drive is only from eight to three today and tomorrow, but yeah except for maybe an hour or two I'll be out here. I just hope it goes well."
"It will," Jack nodded, "as long as no one from the administration comes out here."
"That's another thing, can I have everyone's attention please?" All eight of the members gathered around Richard, "I can't stress this enough, but we are not protesting. We're all aware of the life saving capabilities of blood donations for people around the world. We are here to let people know of a discriminatory practice, that's it. The fliers are here in this box. For those who want to take them, we'll hand them one as they pass by. Under no circumstances are we going to be the first ones to talk to anyone as they pass by. This has to be peaceful or we'll get a lot of shit from a lot of groups on campus, not least of which is the President's Office. So please, if there are any question or anyone gives you lip, please refer them to me. Any questions? Ok good. Don't feel obligated to stay longer than you're able to or want to. Any time you spend out here is helpful enough. Let's spread out, but we'll stay in this general area."
Everyone grabbed a handful of fliers and spread out around the quad area. Joey and Cooper stayed close together.
"Why isn't Brian here? I figured he would be." Cooper asked.
"He conveniently has class most of the day, but I don't think Richard was happy about it."
"Apparently, Bliss isn't going to be here either. She called Toby last night really upset, I guess her and Richard had a fight about her not being here."
"He let them slide, why couldn't he let me?" Joey whined.
Cooper laughed, "You work in the Pride Center dumbass, how would that look?"
"Like we live in a free country where workers are able to decide personal matters for themselves."
"So if Richard wasn't making you, you wouldn't be out here?"
"No." Joey said emphatically.
"What about the discrimination?"
"For one, I've never liked giving blood, I don't like needles. And two, if the powers that be don't want my help simply because I'm gay then fine. I hope in the near future they find out that gay blood has like the cure for cancer in it or something and then we'll see what happens."
"No it isn't. They don't want my help cause I'm gay and I don't want to help keep bigoted people alive. It's a good partnership to me."
Richard plopped himself down in one of Dr. Taylor's comfortable chairs and sighed deeply.
"It looks like you're in need of a session." She smiled kindly.
"I don't know if I want to pass out flyers tomorrow."
"Because everyone's missing the point. Somebody actually came up to us today and said they thought it was despicable what we were doing."
"There's always going to be opposition no matter what you do."
"I tried to make people understand what we were trying to do, we're just trying to educate people and no one gets it. Neither Bliss or Brian came out. Toby was the one who said I should do it and he only came out for a few minutes."
"I want you to know I didn't come out because I didn't want to overshadow what you were doing. I feared that the administration would think I green lighted the plan and try and shut it down. There was a lot of discussion in the administration on how and if to respond. And that's a good thing, because that's all you can really hope for in matters like these, that people think about them and maybe hopefully come to a different conclusion."
"Is that what you're trying to do with the President?"
Richard had asked the question innocently, but Dr. Taylor swallowed a lump in her throat before she answered, "I think we might be past that, but ultimately you do want to change minds."
Richard put his hands up hopelessly, "Is this what it's always like? People skewing what you say or what your intentions are and half the people who follow you are only doing it because it's a gay issue and not because it`s the right thing to do. I wanted to make this about discrimination, not about gay rights, but all it turned into was the gays are upset again."
"Isn't that what Lucas said?"
"Maybe he's right. We can't complain about everything."
"Richard, you stood up for what you believe in today. It wasn't easy, it's never easy, but you don't know how you affected any of the people who picked up a flyer today. The next time they have a discussion about this they might bring up the fact that homosexuals can't give blood, or they might actually look up the information themselves. Change is slow. It's happening, slowly, every day, and the world needs people like you and the QSA and it's members to be there and to be out and proud, but to also educate the public on issues they might otherwise ignore. So if you think you've done what you can, then there isn't a need to go out there tomorrow. If you think it was a mistake to go out there today, that's ok too. No one's perfect. Sometimes you go on ahead and when you realize it isn't right, you backpedal and then go in a new direction."
"I guess you're right."
"I know what you're feeling and no, you don't ever get used to the feeling. But you do learn to put it in its proper context."
He sighed deeply, "Thanks."
"Come in." Cooper said as he glanced up from his Statistics book.
"Hi." Eric said walking into the room, "Is it ok if I come in?"
Eric shut the door behind him, "What are you doing?"
"Just doing a little reading; have a quiz tomorrow."
Eric nodded, "Look, I'm sorry I've been an ass the past few days by not talking to you. I understand what you said about the position I put you in with my mom and I'm sorry for that. I just really wanted it to work out you know. I just wanted everything to be ok."
"I know. It sucks that everything isn't the way you want it to be. I hate it when people say it to me, but it takes time, you just have to be patient. It'll get better.
"Come here." Cooper said arms wide open. Eric fell onto him and Cooper kissed the top of his head, "I've missed you."
"You want to sleep together tonight?" Cooper asked.
"I want to do more than that." Eric kissed him fiercely and Cooper was only momentarily taken by surprise.
"I like the way you think."
"Shut up." Eric said as he put a halt to kissing to remove Cooper's shirt. He returned to his boyfriend's mouth and they kissed passionately having already expressed in words, but now with their bodies, just how much they'd missed each other over the past couple of days.
Eric again broke their crazed kissing to slowly kiss down Cooper's chest. When he reached the top of Cooper's shorts, he eagerly yanked them down leaving Cooper completely naked.
Cooper, using his bigger frame, pushed Eric down on the bed and began to gyrate his hips as he kissed his boyfriend.
"I love you so much." Cooper said.
Before Eric even had the chance to respond, Cooper was again kissing him. He pulled Eric's sweat pants down in one sharp motion. Both lost track of time as they moaned and continued to lick and bathe every part of the body they could reach on the other. They playfully rolled around, this time with Eric on top.
"This is what I really want." he said as he grabbed Cooper's dick and rubbed the head of it over his hole.
"No," Cooper said immediately, he was careful to stifle a moan "you don't have to."
"I want to."
"I want you to too, but you're not ready. I'm too big for you to take without any preparation. We'll work on it ok? Believe me. Do me instead."
"Are you sure?"
"Hell yeah. I've been dreaming about it forever. There are condoms and lube in the drawer."
"Your condoms won't fit me. You've got a little more than I do."
"I bought condoms for you. I figured we'd get here one day."
Eric smiled, "I love you too. He moved between Cooper's leg propping both of them on his shoulders. As he squirted lube and worked it into Cooper, he stupidly thought about how the hairs on Cooper's legs were tickling his shoulders, he also couldn't believe he was finally at this moment. After all the hiding and denials and pain, he was finally here.
"You're smiling." Cooper said.
"I know." Eric didn't want to wait a minute longer, "Is it just like porn? I just stick it in?"
Cooper laughed nervously, "Why don't you lay on your back and let me do the work."
Eric followed his instructions and watched as Cooper rolled the condom onto his dick, squirted lube onto the condom and began to straddle Eric.
If it was possible, Eric's heart sped up even faster, "Should I be doing anything?"
"Just enjoy it." he said as he sank down on Eric's dick, he heard Eric gasp and a smile involuntarily spread across his face.
"God, I've missed this. Ain't nothing like the real thing."
"Cooper, I'm inside you." Eric said with childlike amazement.
Cooper knew he was the luckiest man in the world to be able to share this with Eric, "I know baby. Kiss me."
They'd finished making love long ago, but both were still wide awake, hand in hand. Cooper was quiet and occasionally said mmhmm or uh huh every couple of seconds as Eric talked. For many it would have ruined the moment, but Cooper liked that he had been part of an experience that Eric couldn't fully process. He found it cute that the only way Eric could begin to understand, was by continuously talking about.
"I just...can't believe it. I've seen it in porn and Michael's talked about it and I know the mechanics of it, but...you just can't know what it's like til you do it."
Cooper laughed, "You're on overload aren't you?"
"I am. If I don't keep talking I think I might burst. I can't believe I found a guy that I just made love to."
"It's a wonderful feeling."
"Did you feel this way when you had sex with Joey?"
"I didn't," Cooper answered honestly, "It's different. I don't think I could put it into words other than to say it's immeasurably more satisfying when you're in love. You know what I was thinking?"
"How good I was in bed?"
Cooper laughed, "You were a natural, but no, I was thinking about how I don't want to spend Christmas away from you this year. I think we should invite our families here. We should ask Toby to stay too."
"I think it's a great idea, my mother probably won't come though. She let me have it over the phone the day after we went over."
"Don't worry about it. It'll all come together."