Three Roads Chapter 65: Chasing Dragons With Plastic Swords
Most people walked as quickly as they could through the long and dimly lit hallway, taking in a big breath of fresh air once they reached the outside. If it wasn't the cobwebs that looked like they had been there for ages or the heavily stained carpet, it was the mysterious odor that permeated the hallway, that no one ever got accustomed to, that made people not want to dwell in the hallway longer than they needed to. Despite all that, real life concerns had made two friends step out into the hallway to discuss what was currently going on.
"He says he was raped." Tim said quietly.
"Oh my God," Eric gasped, "By who?"
"Chris. One of the basketball players on the team at school."
"I don't know who he is. That's terrible. It sounds lame but what else do you say."
"I know. He won't let me tell anyone. He's barely even talking to me, I think he's still trying to deal with it."
"Well yeah," Eric nodded, "I can't imagine what that would be like. It's terrible, he should go to the police or something. Can they do the evaluation they do for women who are raped?"
"I don't know, but he's already showered and he says he doesn't remember everything. He thinks Chris spiked his drink or something."
"That's so sad."
"There aren't any marks or anything on his wrists or ankles."
"So he probably was drugged." Eric said.
"Or he's lying."
"I was thinking that in the back of my mind, but I didn't want to be the first to say it."
"I feel horrible for even thinking it," Tim acknowledged, "but what if he's lying?"
"I know he's pulled some stuff before, but he'd have to be out of his mind to fake something like this."
"I just don't know what to think or do. This is way out of my league. You think it'd be wrong for me to call his dad?"
"They don't get along right?"
"It's one sided on Jack's side. But yeah, he'd probably be mad at me, but I don't know what else to do. I'm not a counselor or anything."
Eric shrugged, "If you know you can't help him, get his dad involved. He's the President of the school he has a lot more resources than you do."
"You're right, maybe I'll give him another day or so. Any news on Lucas?"
"Toby talked to Richard last night. They're a bit more optimistic about him staying alive, but it sounds like he'll be paralyzed from the waist down if he makes it through."
"Sounds like by all accounts that he was a major jerk, but still that's not the way anyone should end up."
Tim sighed heavily, "Yeah. Did you talk to your mom yet?"
"Yeah. She's going in for another round of chemo."
"What can you do? If it'll help her get better then I'm all for it. So are you gonna find Jack's dad?"
"I don't know. I wish this was easier."
"Something has to be done," Eric said, "You can't let a rapist walk around town."
"If it even happened, but you're right, something has to be done."
Eric was relieved to be home. He wanted to take a nap and forget everything that was currently going on. He was a little dismayed to see Cooper in his bed when he walked into his room.
"Is everything ok with Tim?" Cooper asked.
"Yeah. Why aren't you at school?
"Eh, I wanted to stay and find out the dish on Tim."
"Well," Eric sighed as she took a seat on his bed, "It sounds like Tim's friend Jack was raped."
"Well, he's made things up before, but it really sounds like he was and Tim doesn't know what to do. Jack doesn't want him to do anything."
"He has to tell the police."
"I know. It's just a tough situation."
"Yeah. Did he know the guy?"
Eric nodded, "It's someone on the basketball team."
"Fuck. Tim should take control of the situation and do what needs to be done."
"If you want to try talking to him be my guest."
Cooper moved to grab his cell phone that was sitting on his boyfriend`s desk, but Eric grabbed his shoulder and blurted out, "Don't go!"
Cooper sat back down on the bed, "I was just gonna call Tim."
Eric laid his head on Cooper's shoulder and his boyfriend immediately wrapped his arms around his body. Cooper didn't say anything since he wasn't sure what prompted the outburst. He was just about to ask if everything was ok when Eric spoke first, "Has it always been like this?"
Cooper knew that he didn't need to say anything and that Eric would say what he needed to at his own speed.
"I feel like I'm losing my grip. People we know are getting raped, getting in life altering car accidents...and my mother could be dying. Why is this happening?"
"I don't know Eric, but it's not all bad."
"I know, it just seems like..." and he paused deciding he shouldn't go on.
"It seems like..."
"I don't want to live if it's going to always be like this."
"Don't say that! I'm here, will get through this together. Your mom will get better; you have to believe and have faith."
Even though Cooper couldn't see his face, he could tell that Eric was smiling, "Wow, you used the word faith I must be scaring you."
"You are. Eric, I would die without you."
"Well if I ever died you have my permission to move on."
"That's not funny," Cooper said angrily, "Neither is you talking about not wanting to live."
"I said it half jokingly..."
"Half jokingly or not it's still not funny."
"Don't interrupt me! I told you how I honestly feel and I don't want to be told how what I'm feeling is not ok. It is ok because it's what I feel. How am I supposed to talk to you about anything if you're just going to tell me to get over it?"
"I didn't say get over it, I was just saying it was scary to here you talk like that."
"Well there's nothing you can do to fix it so..."
"So that's it? You're just not gonna ever tell me anything again?"
"I don't want to talk about this now. I really just want to take a nap... alone."
"Fine," Cooper said standing up and walking past Eric, "I'm trying my best you know."
"Those lines are so fucking long." Toby said as he sat in one of the stools at the on-campus pizza place, "they should really get more people working there."
Bliss nodded in agreement, "Or they should have two pizza parlors on campus. There's like a million coffee places. They can knock one of those down and make another of these."
"Seriously! So why did you want to meet so desperately for lunch today?"
Bliss looked shocked, "Can't I just want to see my friend?"
"You're right sorry." Toby said taking a bite of a slice of pizza.
"Ok, there is a motive."
"I knew it!"
"Well, I do enjoy seeing you, you know that, but I did want to talk about something specifically."
"It's kind of hard to bring up actually."
"Just say it."
"You promise not to get mad?"
"Uh, I promise."
"That wasn't a real promise!"
"Will you just say it!" Toby said frustrated.
"Ok," Bliss said closing her eyes as if she was expecting Toby to punch her in the face, "Why don't have feelings for Richard anymore?"
Bliss opened her eyes, "That's what Richard said you said."
Toby reached into the recesses of his brain trying to figure out what Richard might be talking about, "I never said that." he said after failing to remember anything.
"He said you said it when he came over and was upset about Brian."
Toby thought for a second and remembered that he did in fact tell Richard he no longer had feelings for him, "I did say it but I didn't mean it."
"Why oh why would you say something like that knowing how your relationship with each other is?"
"Hey! We were being playful and none of this matters we're not getting back together and I'm seeing someone else. Is this why he pulled that shit on Valentine's Day?"
Bliss nodded, "I'm pretty sure. Toby he still loves you."
"And I still love him. I thought he knew that."
"No no, he's still in love with you."
"Ok." Toby said awkwardly.
"You aren't still in love with him?"
"Honestly, I couldn't give you an answer that would make sense to you."
"Ok, you shouldn't be talking to me about it anyway."
"I don't want to talk about any of this with him. I swear every year we have some big talk about our relationship, it's so annoying. Why can't it just be over?"
"It's not really my place..." Bliss started.
"It really isn't." Toby interrupted.
"But it's the last thing I'll say on it," she continued, "you guys never really resolve anything. Even now you're still firmly and constantly in each other's lives. I don't think either one of you has ever truly moved on."
Eric had been up from his nap for a while, but he didn't want to get out of bed just yet. He'd have to see Cooper and he knew he'd kind of been a jerk and that he'd have to apologize. He simply wasn't ready to do that yet so he thought it wise to stay in his room. His cell phone vibrated on his night stand and he picked it up to see a number he didn't recognize. It was probably a wrong number, but he kept feeling like he should answer the phone anyway. He convinced himself to answer the phone on the premise that if it was in fact a stranger, he could just hang up the phone, "Hello?"
"Who is this?"
"It's Angela, Cooper's sister."
"Oh, hi! How are you?"
"I'm doing well. I hope it's ok that Cooper gave me your number."
"Yeah, it's fine. He just didn't say anything. I thought you were a wrong number."
"No, I asked for it a while ago. Just in case there was ever an emergency and we couldn't get in touch with Cooper."
"Makes sense, is there an emergency?"
"Oh no, everything is fine. I was actually calling to ask you for a favor."
"What can I do for you?"
"I want you to help me surprise my brother."
A few minutes later Eric came out of the room to see his boyfriend, Toby, and Richard sitting around the kitchen table.
"I talked to Bliss again this morning," Richard started, "she's thinking about going to the hospital to see Lucas."
"Why?" Toby asked.
"Cause, his life is probably changed for the rest of his life and I'm thinking about going with her."
"Wow," Cooper said, "nothing like a little paralysis to change attitudes."
Eric stood behind the chair that Cooper was sitting in and put his arms around him. He knew that all was forgiven when Cooper put his arms over his.
"It's not like that."
"It is," Toby said, "you're being fake."
"It's not fake. I'm honestly really confused. I admit I probably hated him more than anybody else, he was or is an asshole, but I feel like I should go
see him. It's like somebody I know is laying in a hospital bed and they'll never be able to walk again, that's a mind fuck."
"You mean someone you hate is lying in a hospital bed," Toby said, "it's not like you wished him to be that way."
Richard looked at Cooper, "You have to hear where I'm coming from."
"Not really. You didn't like him why even bother?"
"Fuck it, I need some nice people to talk to, no offense."
"Hey, I'm nice bitch!" Cooper yelled.
"I think I'm gonna go see Brian."
"Oh," Eric gasped surprised, "I didn't know you guys were on speaking terms again?"
"We've kept our distance from each other lately, but we were never not talking."
"I thought you always came to me for advice." Toby said a little hurt.
"I do, but I just want to get his perspective."
"It's ok," Toby said glancing at his watch, "I need to get going anyway, Nick and I are supposed to go out."
"Really?" Richard asked as evenly as possible.
"Yeah, we're sort of a thing now."
"Nothing official or anything, but I wouldn't consider myself single anymore."
"This is awkward." Cooper whispered to Eric. Who playfully hit him in the shoulder.
"Oh," Richard said quietly, "well tell him I said hi."
"Knock knock." Dr. Zamora said as he watched Dr. Taylor type furiously on her computer.
"Paul, usually it's me who's coming to see you."
"I know. You always come to my neck of the woods so I thought I'd come visit you this time."
"I'm smarter than that," she smiled, "this must mean you have news on the teachers."
"I'm sorry Jill, they're not going to support a no confidence vote against the President."
"And did they say why?"
"Money. Our contracts are coming up for negotiation at the end of this semester and they don't want to antagonize the President or the Board of Trustees with something that's more symbolic than anything else."
"Are you included in this not wanting to antagonize the President?"
"This is important."
"So is our livelihood. Some of the professors haven't gotten raises since they signed their contracts years ago."
"And what about the students? If things keep going the way they are, there won't be any students paying your salary. Your duty is to the students."
"That's a bit dramatic, Jill."
"No, it isn't. This President is doing nothing to try and cushion the blow that the students are going to feel when tuition inevitably goes up, he's got an agenda against the queer community..."
"That's what this is really about. That's why you don't have the support of the teachers."
"Because it's a queer issue."
"You keep saying it's for all the students, but your ties to this school are all for the QSA. No one wants to get involved and take on the cause, how much luck have you had and you've been doing this for years!"
"If your peers don't want to do what's right, then I`ll do it alone."
"Jill, you've always come to me for advice, so I'm gonna give you some and hope in a few days we can go out to lunch and put this behind us. Ninety percent of the school has no idea who you are. You're just a psychologist that sees a few students a week and runs a center that a very small amount of the population uses. Don't get me wrong, the center is important, but you don't have the pull in this school to take on the President. Let it go."
Tim kept clicking the channel up button on the remote trying to find something to watch. He thought he found a movie he wanted to watched but sighed with disappointment after reading the synopsis, "Don't you hate it when you think you've found something to watch and it sounds really good until you find out that someone like Beau Bridges is in it?"
Jack didn't say or do anything that showed he even heard what Tim said. He was in the same position he had been in for most of the last three days, "Jack, I don't know what to do. I kind of want to talk to your dad..."
"I'm not trying to pressure you, I just think some professional help is needed and I obviously can't provide it."
"I'll be fine."
"Will you at least go to the doctor to make sure everything's ok?"
"Can I think about it?"
Tim huffed, "Jack, you`ve been holed up in this house for three days, I know what happened to you will stay with you forever, but by hiding from the world, ditching your classes, and not talking to the police you're letting him win."
"You don't understand."
"I know I don't. I just don't know what else to do Jack."
"Really, I'll be fine. But I can't go to the police."
"I don't want the looks and the stares and the cops trying to keep the disgust from being visible on their faces."
"They're not going..."
"Yes they are. I'm a guy, it's not supposed to happen to me. Then when I tell them I'm gay...it'll suddenly all make sense. No wonder I wasn't able to defend myself because I'm not a real man, I'm gay. I probably came onto him or grabbed his dick or something, it was self defense."
"I don't know what to say to that," Tim said, "but whenever you want to talk you let me know."
"I don't want to talk about it. Ever." Jack said turning his back on Tim.
Dr. Zamora flipped through his notes to make sure he had covered everything he wanted to.
"Looks like I'm done if you guys want to go early..."
"Wait, I have a question." A student in the middle of the classroom said, raising his hand.
Brian, along with several of his classmates, threw the student dirty looks and groaned their disapproval.
"Oh, stop," Dr. Zamora smiled, "I'm sure if he has a question, there's at least one other person. What's your question?"
"It's off topic, but I read in the school newspaper that you guys will be negotiating your contracts in a few months."
"And you haven't had a raise in a few years."
"Yes, the union negotiated are contracts about five years ago."
"They also reported the average salary of a professor and it seemed pretty low considering all you guys do."
Dr. Zamora nodded, "It's obvious where I stand on the issue, but we don't just come here and teach. We spend time outside of class and work correcting papers, we meet with graduate students, we have meeting with each other, meeting other professors in our department, we have to have a certain amount of office hours every week, we have to stay current on what's going on in the field, which sometimes means conducting research and writing papers. Most of us are on committees directly connected and unconnected to the university. We're not just here for 3 classes teaching and then get to go home."
"You're also married aren't you?" Brian said without raising his hand.
"I am married."
"With two kids right?"
"You're correct, Brian. I also am trying to start a group on campus that will take up more of my time, Men Against Violence. I think the key to solving violence is to get men involved and to realize how devastating it is. It's still in it's early stages, but the idea is if more fathers, brothers, and friends checked their sons, brothers, and other male friends when they make sexist comments, or talk about their girlfriends or wives in a degrading manner, violence against women would be on the decline. Any other questions? You're all free to go."
Brian quickly packed up his belongings as he wanted to be sure that he was waiting for Dr. Zamora when he got to his office. He tried his best to avoid showing a reaction when he spotted his professor walking down the hallway but he had to admit, if only to himself, that he looked hot. Dr. Zamora almost always wore a collared shirt and tie and Brian had spent many a night wondering what it would be like to get to open the professor's shirt, one button at a time. He also loved the slacks, which were almost always black, that Dr. Zamora wore because they looked as if they had been tailored especially for him. He wasn't sure if it was the fit of the pants or just his imagination, but it always seems to him that a bulge was always visible.
"Brian, to what do I owe this honor?" Dr. Zamora smiled as he unlocked his office door.
"I just felt the need to tell you you're a hypocrite."
"Trying to start a club to educate men on how to treat women? It sounds like a course you should be enrolled in."
"My club is going to be about violence against women, are you suggesting I beat my wife?"
"No, you just cheat on her."
"It's hard to cheat on someone you hardly see."
"We're separated. Have been for several months now. She took the kids and they are staying at her mother's house."
"She must have caught you cheating."
"I never cheated on my wife while we were together...or while I thought there was any chance of us getting back together. We just grew apart."
"Oh, I didn't know.
Dr. Zamora smiled, "You ran off when I was trying to tell you. But no one knows except for a close buddy of mine and now you."
"Why do you still wear your ring then?"
The professor looked down at his wedding ring and ran a finger over it, "We were married for ten years. Even though it's quite clear we shouldn't be together, it was a major part of my life for so long. She always will be a major part of our life because of the kids. You don't understand, but keeping the ring on reminds me that there's someone out there who at least cares for me."
"I actually do know what you mean. I get lonely too sometimes, everybody does."
"This is different."
"But yes, legally still married, but it's just because we haven't gone through the formalities yet."
"Why did you really come by my office?" Dr. Zamora asked.
Brian quickly glanced down at his professor`s crotch and he was sure this time that there was a bulge, "I'm not sure."
"I think you are."
Brian didn't answer he just continued to stand there in front of his professor, waiting and hoping that Dr. Zamora would continue to lead them both down this past.
"If you could have anything in the world right now, at this very moment what would it be?"
Brian started to open his mouth to protest, but Dr. Zamora stopped him, "All you have to do is say it."
"I'd really like to kiss you."
"Come over here then."
Brian closed the distance between them quickly, but even in that short distance that small voice inside his head told him that something about Dr. Zamora's story didn't sound right. It was all a little too neat and tidy to be the truth, but Brian didn't care at that moment. As their lips connected, he decided that should he felt guilty later, he could always say that he'd believe what the professor had told him.
*****A FEW DAYS LATER*****
Cooper heard the doorbell ring and rolled his eyes. He whined and prayed that Toby would come to get the door. Eric had gone to visit his mother, so he knew it was between him and Toby. The doorbell rang again and Cooper yelled to his roommate, "Toby get the door!!!!"
"You get it! I'm in my room sitting down!"
"But I'm tired!"
"You're closer than me fat ass!"
"Fuck you!" Cooper yelled getting up, "I hope it's your grandma and she heard you curse!"
He opened the door and saw Eric with a goofy smile on his face and it took him a minute to realize that his sister Angela was also smiling at him.
"I don't get it." Cooper said lamely.
"Can you move so we can come in?" Eric said.
"Did something happen? Are mom and dad ok?" Cooper asked worriedly.
"Everyone's fine," Angela said putting down her bags and giving her younger brother a hug, "I just wanted to come see you."
"Why do you have some kind of disease?"
"Then why does your face look like that?"
"Mom's not here this time, so I can freely say you're an asshole."
Cooper laughed, "Come on Ang, you love me, but really that hot sexy boyfriend of yours didn't knock you up?"
"I'm leaving." Angela said jokingly.
"No, it's good to have you here. I feel all special that you flew cross country just to come and see me."
"Yep, a few days ago I just really was in the mood to see you, so I called Eric to make sure you guys would be around this weekend and then he agreed to pick me up from the airport and the rest is history."
Cooper moved over to kiss his boyfriend, "For this nice surprise, you can have anything you want in bed tonight."
"Hey Angela," Toby said walking into the living room and giving her a hug, "Nice to see you again."
"Nice to see you too Toby."
"Did you know about this?" Cooper asked Toby.
"I know everything."
"Except how to lead an uncomplicated love life." Cooper smiled.
"Your brother hasn't changed a bit in case you were wondering." Toby said.
Angela nodded, "He's been this way since he was about six."
"Have you eaten, we can go to dinner?" Cooper asked.
"No, actually, I'm a bit tired," his sister said, "why don't you just cook."
"How about we just order in." Eric said immediately.
"Yeah, we generally don't allow Cooper to be in the kitchen since there are sharp objects there." Toby added.
"Fuck both of you. But ordering out does sound good, I want Chinese."
"Typical." Toby smiled.
"I'm in the mood for pizza." Eric said.
"That sounds good to me," Angela agreed, "maybe we can have dinner tomorrow night."
"That'd be great!" Cooper said eagerly.
Angela looked at him nervously and Cooper cleared his throat, "If you guys want."
"No that sounds good." Eric said.
"Am I invited?" Toby asked.
"Of course! Even though you're much darker than any of us, you're still part of our family." Cooper smiled, "but let's just keep the dinner between us 4."
"Uh, are you going to actually eat some of the fries or just pick through them?" Joey asked eyeing his friend strangely.
Brian sat down his fork, "I guess I'm not hungry really."
"What's wrong? You've been really quiet."
"I just have a lot on my mind."
"Anything you want to talk about?"
"Do you think there's something wrong with me?"
"No," Joey said immediately, "why would you think that?"
"I feel silly saying it, but why don't I have a boyfriend if there's nothing wrong with me?"
"Brian, there's nothing wrong with you and you did have a boyfriend that you inexplicably broke up with."
"I had my reasons."
"None of which were explained to me." Joey said.
"I like Richard a lot, but it wasn't going to work. He's still in love with Toby and sure it was fun and probably would have been fun for a while, but the writing was always on the wall. I opted out before I got hurt."
"Fair enough, but that wasn't that long ago. You're hot, give yourself time."
"He still wants me though."
"He said so?"
Brian shook his head, "No, but I could tell. He came to my room to talk earlier and all I had to do was say yes and he would have gone for it."
"You sound a little full of yourself." Joey laughed.
"No, I'm just saying, you don't know that."
"Trust me, I did. And what's wrong with liking to be desired?"
"Nothing, it's just ok so what? I'd rather have a real relationship than have a lot of guys into me."
Joey looked at his friend seriously, "Are you trying to pick a fight?"
"No, I just don't think you understand..."
"What it's like to be desired?"
"I wasn't going to say that." Brian said defensively.
"I feel bad for even feeling bad for not having a boyfriend. There are lots of important things in the world and there are people with real problems, like Eric and his mom. I can't imagine what he's going through and I know it seems silly for me to even be whining about my love life, but it's important to me. Why doesn't someone love me and only me?"
"I love you." Joey smiled sincerely.
"It's not the same."
"I know, but it's a start and it can hold you until that special person comes along. When that person finds you, and it'll happen, don't let them go for anything in the world. In saying that, if you ditch me when you do get a boyfriend, I'll cut your nuts off."
Brian smiled, "Thanks."
Joey's cell phone began playing the theme to Charlie's Angel and he avoided Brian's eye.
"Is that your boyfriend's number?" Brian teased.
"Hey!" Joey said.
"Can you come over?"
"Uh...I'm sort of with Brian why?"
"I really want to see you." Chase said.
"Are you ok, you sound weird?"
"I'm fine, really, just come over as soon as you can ok?"
"Yeah, I'll call you when I'm on my way."
"What's wrong?" Brian asked.
"I don't know. It's Chase, something weird is going on. He sounded strange on the phone."
"What did he say?"
"He wanted me to come over."
"Are we done here?"
"Yes," Brian sighed, "I'm done pouting."
"Ok then. I'll drop you off at the dorms before I go this house."
Joey took a deep breath before knocking on Chase's door. Even when he called to let Chase know he was on his way, Chase still was very short on the phone. He was just about to knock again when the door was jerked open.
"Hey." Chase said.
"Hi," Joey said walking in, "what was so urgent that I needed to get over here right away?"
Chase pushed Joey up against the wall and very clumsily started to make out with the smaller boy. Joey had the wind knocked out of him temporarily as Chase had pushed him harder than he meant to. Joey was trying to get into it, but he was engulfed by the unmistakable smell of alcohol. He tried pushing Chase off of him, but Chase was lost in the moment and therefore immovable. Joey stamped his foot hard on Chase's that caused Chase to let up long enough for Joey to get away.
"What the fuck is your problem?"
"Are you drunk?" Joey asked.
Chase hesitated for a moment before coming clean. "Yeah, a little bit."
"You called me over here to make out with you while you're drunk?"
Chase slowly backed up until he felt the edge of the couch hit the back of the knees. He let himself fall backwards and tried not to make eye contact with Joey, "Sorry, I'm pathetic."
"Yes, you are pathetic. You think being gay is so pathetic that you have to get drunk just to try and get it up for me. God, Chase, to be honest I don't know why I haven't walked away yet."
"Because you love me."
"No because I'm a glutton for punishment. You treat me like shit."
"I don't mean to. Honestly, it's not even about you."
"If it isn't then why do you keep dragging me into all of this? Just leave me alone to you figure out whatever your problem is."
"Is that what you want?"
Joey shook his head, "I'm not letting you out that easily. Why don't you be a man for a change and say what you want?"
"I want you, but it's not that simple. I just need a little more time to figure things out."
"Just so you know, I can't wait forever."
Chase nodded, "I know."
Joey cleared his throat, "Are you ok? Do you need some water or something?"
"Some aspirin would be good, my head is pounding."
"How much did you have to drink anyway?"
"I don't even know."
Joey smiled, "There is something seriously wrong with you. Where is the aspirin?"
"Medicine cabinet in the bathroom."
Joey had been to the apartment a few times so he knew where the bathroom was. He easily found the aspirin in the medicine cabinet and as he was unscrewing the cap, he realized that Chase had given him an out and he could have walked away, but he didn't. He wondered what that meant.
"Why do we have to dress up again?" Toby said as he buttoned his collared shirt.
"Because I said so." Cooper said.
Toby looked in the mirror to make sure his collar was done properly and caught Cooper staring at him, "Are you perving on me?"
"All I will say to that is I really hope you're tucking in your shirt, because your ass looks fantastic in those pants."
"My ass looks fantastic in anything."
Eric knocked on Toby' bedroom door and didn't wait for anyone to say come in as he heard both Cooper and Toby talking, "What are you guys doing?"
"You missed it already." Cooper said.
Toby turned around to look at both of them, "Missed what?"
"Nothing." They both said with guilty looks on their face.
Toby smiled, "Ok, I don't even want to know."
The doorbell rang and all three of them looked at each other, "Who the hell is that?" Cooper said.
"I don't know, I didn't invite anyone over." Eric said.
"Neither did I." Toby shrugged.
"Go answer it." Cooper said to his boyfriend.
Eric leaped off the bed and when he was halfway into the hallway he turned around with a confused look on his face, "Hey, you're not the boss of me."
"I know, I'm your bitch!" Cooper smiled.
"You guys have serious issues." Toby smiled.
"Don't worry my friend, it sounds like you and Nick are hitting it off I'm sure you'll be getting some ass soon."
"Let's hope so."
"Who's at the door?!" Cooper yelled.
"I don't know I haven't answered it yet!" Eric yelled back, right before he opened the door.
"You son of a bitch!" Michael yelled.
"Michael, what are you doing here? It's been a while."
"I know bitch. You don't answer my calls, you barely come down anymore, so I decided to come over here and kick your ass."
"Michael!" Cooper said walking into the living room, "Even though Eric's my boyfriend, I promise not to interfere in any ass kicking as long as you guys agree to wrestle in mud."
"You know I've actually done that. This guy I had sex with a few months ago took me to this club and the upstairs was a mud ring."
"Did you win or lose?"
"Both." Michael smiled.
"We should try that." Cooper said bumping Eric playfully.
"Yeah right. Michael, we're about to go to dinner, would you like to join us?"
"Sure. I didn't drive an hour just to come kick your ass. You should also pay for me too since I know you feel guilty for ditching me lately."
Eric smiled, "Ok, yeah."
"I was kidding! I'd probably ditch you too if I had a boyfriend who had a dick as big as Cooper's."
"I knew it!" Cooper yelled, "you do talk about my dick to other people!"
"I came in on the wrong part of that conversation." Angela said.
"Angela, this is my friend Michael," Eric said, "Michael, this is Cooper's sister Angela."
"Oh please, you've seen me naked plenty of times." Cooper said.
"He does that shit at home too?" Toby asked, "Hey Michael."
Michael didn't say anything, he just giggled nervously.
"Yes," Angela laughed, "he used to do it just to annoy us. Luckily he stopped once my mother threatened to cancel Christmas."
"She's the devil I tell you."
"Michael's going to join us for dinner." Eric said to Toby.
"Hey no fair! I thought we weren't inviting anyone else."
"We weren't," Cooper started, "but since Eric is a terrible friend..."
"I'm gonna call Nick then and invite him."
"No!" Cooper said, "I'll reach into your pants if I have to and take your cell phone."
"I'm sure you'd like that," Toby said, "but I'm going to call him anyway."
"Maybe we should call everyone else too," Eric said holding onto his boyfriend's hand, "You know just a fun night out with friends.
Michael agreed, "Yeah, invite some of your cute single slutty friends."
Cooper smiled, "I was gonna ask if Joey counts as being single, but he`s not cute so..."
Eric shook his head, "Be nice. I'm gonna go to my room and start calling everyone, I'll them to meet us there in an hour."
Cooper looked at his sister, Angela, and Michael and gave a thumbs up, "Like taking candy from a baby."
Tim stared silently at Jack's body laying limp on the bed. He wasn't sure if Jack was asleep or not, and didn't want to leave a note as he thought it was tactless.
"Why are you staring at me?" Jack said still not turning around to look at Tim.
"I wanted to make sure you haven't changed your mind about going to dinner."
"What if I buy you dinner and promise not to mention anything about what happened?"
"Alright," Tim sighed giving up, "I'll have my cell phone on me at all times if you need me to come home or talk or whatever ok?"
"And I just want to say that I hope you're not thinking that this was in anyway your fault. If you would have known what would have happened, you would've done differently. What happened to you is terrible, you're the victim here."
Jack turned around so fast Tim wasn't sure he saw it happen, "What did you just say?"
Tim was suddenly scared, "Uh um which part?"
"I am not a victim!" Jack screamed.
"I didn't mean it like that."
"I'm not a victim!"
"Ok," Tim said not wanting the situation to escalate, "I'm leaving call me if you need to." As soon as he was out of the studio, he dialed Eric's number, "Hey, it's Tim. I'm gonna be a little late. I need to stop some place first.
Tim was very thankful that lights were on inside when he pulled up in front of Dr. Brown's house twenty minutes later. He ran up the driveway and rang the doorbell. He then knocked on the door impatiently until he saw a shadow approaching through the glass in the door.
"Tim, what the hell are you doing here?"
"Dr. Brown, I need to talk to you about Jack. Can I come in?"
Dr. Brown could tell Tim wasn't joking around so he let him in. He motioned to the dining room table, "Have a seat."
"I'd rather stand, there's somewhere else I have to be, but I needed to come see you. Jack was raped by Chris Atkins, the basketball player, a few days ago. I've been trying to get him to seek help, but he won't and I'm afraid for him. I think you should talk to him."
"Where is he?" Dr. Brown said immediately, forgetting all of his past trouble with his son.
"My studio, I can go back with you."
Dr. Brown was already grabbing his coat, "I'll follow you in my car."
"Ok." Tim said, "I'm parked right over there."
Dr. Brown stopped him momentarily, "I have to ask..."
"I know, but I really don't think he's lying this time."
"Ok, lead the way."
Drink orders had been taken and everybody was quietly scanning their menus.
"Everything on this menu looks good." Melinda said.
"It does," Bliss responded, "but I'm thinking of getting a salad."
"And then what?"
Bliss laughed, "Just that. I'm trying to watch what I eat these days. I'm not talking about anything crazy, just being a little bit for mindful that's all."
"You crazy. Salad is like filler food for me. I might as well just suck in a bunch of air and throw a cruton in my mouth."
"What are you gonna get?"
"I don't know, but are we getting appetizers?" Melinda asked.
"I don't want any, but you should ask one of the guys. I'm sure Cooper's up for it."
Jon saw that Eric wasn't talking to anyone at the moment, so he figured it for the perfect time to talk to him.
"Hey," Jon said as he hung over the back of Eric's chair.
"Hi, thanks for coming on such short notice."
"My schedule was pretty full, but hey that's the kind of guy I am."
Eric laughed, "Right."
"I just wanted to ask real quick if you decided to take my advice about your mom. You said you'd think about."
"I did talk to her and she assured me she's telling me everything he knows. I even talked to one of her doctors just to make sure."
"Good boy. Well you know if you ever need some tough love..."
"I know exactly where to find you."
Jon patted him on the shoulder and went back to his seat. Eric felt bad about lying to Jon, but he felt it was a necessary evil. The truth was he didn't want to know what was going on with his mother. He was fine believing that she was ok and a cure was just around the corner. It was as if he'd never seen the Andie MacDowell commercial. He dismissed it as something else you could believe because it was on tv.
Across the table, Joey and Brian were having a conversation that Joey didn't really want to have at the table with all their friends around, but he needed to get his thoughts out into the open.
"I think I'm in love with him." Joey whispered to Brian.
"Yeah." Brian said casually.
"Did you hear me? I think I'm in love with Chase. I keep whining about how complicated things are with him and I had the perfect chance to end it today and I didn't."
"Wait," Richard said overhearing their conversation, "you're just now figuring out that you're in love with Chase? I knew that last summer when you pouted every time your cell phone rang and it wasn't him."
"Awww is Joey in love!" Cooper smiled as he ruffled his friend's hair, "who's the unlucky guy?"
"I'll give you a wild guess." Brian smiled.
"It couldn't be Chase." Cooper gasped dramatically.
"Ha Ha Ha. Most of you are just jealous because I sort of have someone and most of you are jerking off tonight."
"No fair I don't know what's going on." Michael said.
"Neither do I," Angela said, "why is this so funny?"
"Me three." Nick laughed.
"Ok, let me give you all a quick run down," Toby said raising his hand in the air, "Chase is a gay Christian..."
"Enough said!" Melinda yelled.
"Hey, back off or I'm gonna start kickin some ass." Joey said.
"Alright alright," Cooper yelled, "let's not talk about our friend's man. I know if any of you talked bad about Eric I'd have to cut ya."
"Awww thanks." Eric smiled.
"I don't know why you guys are teasing him, "Michael started, "the religious ones are the best in bed. They have all those freaky fantasies."
Bliss giggled and then looked over to Eric, "I'm starting to see a pattern here with you. You like extroverts."
"Oh let me tell you! He's a fre...never mind." Cooper said catching Eric's eye, "Where is Tim?!"
Tim paced around his studio, knowing that the outcome would be the same; the call he was making would go to voice mail.
"Same thing." He said to Dr. Brown, "Voicemail."
"Where do you think Jack could have gone?"
"I have no idea. Maybe he didn't want to be alone and went to a friend's house."
"But then why isn't he answering his cell phone?"
Tim glanced at his watch, "I don't know maybe he's mad at me for leaving and ignoring my calls. It sounds like him."
Dr. Brown had to agree, "It does. And if I called him he wouldn't answer."
"I hate to do this, but I really have to go. I have to be somewhere important. You're more than welcome to stay here for a while if you want to see if he comes back."
"I think I might," Dr. Brown said, "I'm really worried about him."
"Me too. Call me on my cell if you find out anything."
"We're so gay." Toby said as he zipped up his fly.
"Are we?" Cooper asked.
"Yeah, we went to the bathroom together. Only girls do that."
"I'm hotter than any girl in here."
"Whatever. I still am all man; you followed me in here."
"That was just so I can get another good look at your ass and then I just happen to need to pee."
"I'm sure your boyfriend likes that."
"He does actually, we talk about your ass all the time."
"I don't know whether to be flattered or disgusted. You guys are like my brothers." Toby said as he washed his hands.
"Brothers you want to fuck." Cooper laughed.
"How come me and you never hooked up?"
Toby dried his hands on the paper towels that were laying on the counter, "Is this a serious question?"
"Yeah, I mean we're both attractive guys. I've got a big dick you've got a rockin ass, we were both unattached when we met... It sounds like a match made in heaven. How come nothing ever happened?"
"I don't know, maybe some people are just meant to be friends."
"True, I mean I don't think that we would have been lovers sitting on our porch fifty years from now talking about our young love back in college, but still, you just never seemed interested."
Toby laughed, "Lovers sitting on the porch huh? And you never seem interested either. What's wrong with me?"
"Thanks." Toby said sincerely.
"I think things just never came together. I got caught up with Kevin pretty quickly after we met, you got with Tim and were having issues with Richard..."
"You could probably say that at anytime about me and Richard since I've been in college."
They both walked out of the bathroom to head back to the table. Once they could see their table, Cooper stopped him "We're pretty lucky aren't we?"
"To think, at the very beginning it started with just me and you."
"I was friends with Eric before you though."
"Yeah we weren't friends right away."
"That's because you'd sexually harass him."
"That's not true! He so wanted me from day one, but back in those days he was still pretending to be a hetero."
"Going back to your original point," Toby said, "it is amazing to think about the little family we have in Sunnydale. You just never know where life will take you."
"Truer words have never been spoken."
"Shall we join them?"
"One other thing," Cooper smiled turning towards his friend and putting his hand on his shoulder, "Even though we're not ever going to be lovers, I hope we still do grow old together."
"I swear only you could make a line that corny sound really good."
"I love you Toby."
"I love you too Cooper."
"You guys looked like you were having a heart to heart there." Richard said when Cooper and Toby were back at the table. Cooper sat in his seat, but Toby remained standing, "We were. And I need to have one more, can I talk to you outside real quick?"
Bliss watched them walk out onto the balcony and prayed that cooler heads prevailed.
"I don't want to ruin what's been a nice evening so far." Toby said.
"Sounds like you're about to do just that." Richard smiled.
"I really don't want to. Bliss talked to me and she said you think I don't have feelings for you anymore. It's not true or you misunderstood what I said. Richard, I love you and will always love you..."
"And here comes the but." Richard said staring off into the dark night.
"Do you know why we're not together?" Toby said more as a statement than a question.
"Because you cheated on me," Richard said turning to look directly at Toby, "you cheated on me and then lied about letting a rapist in the building if I remember correctly."
"That right there is the reason we're not together. Nothing has changed."
"What are you talking about?"
"You're still so quick to try and hurt me. Believe me, there was a time when all I wanted to do was hurt you, I'm past that now, you should be too."
"That's easy for you to say. No one did anything to you, you cheated with Tim. I have never cheated on you Toby. I know I can be an ass sometimes, but I have never tried to purposely break your heart."
Toby spoke quietly, "I wasn't trying to break your heart. And you have hurt me, when you wanted to break up when we went to college, I practically begged you to change your mind. But no, once you make up your mind it's impossible to change."
"I'm not without my faults," Richard said, "I admit that, if you're expecting the perfect boyfriend, you're in for a life of heartache."
"I'm not looking for anyone perfect, you were perfect." Toby made sure that he put extra emphasis on were.
"So then why aren't we together?"
"Do you remember what it was like after we got back together? All we did was argue and bitch and moan about each other. I got so sick of myself."
Richard waved his hand at Toby frustrated, "We've talked about all this to death. If I have to hear about our past again I'm going to scream. You keep talking about being past all of this, then why do you constantly bring it up? You say I haven't changed? I'm the one who broke up with you because we weren't good for each other. The first time I purposely tried to break you and Tim up because I wanted you, but I never interfered, just like I promised the second time."
"I haven't dated since then."
"That's not the point. I wouldn't have. And the last time we had sex that was all you. So don't pretend like everything would be perfect if I would just get myself together. I've been trying to move on for a long time."
"Then why don't you move back to L.A. then? You only moved here to try and get me back anyway. You did, it didn't work out so why are you still here?"
"You think I'm gonna throw away my life here for you?"
"Your life? You mean the school I chose first, in the city I lived in first, hanging out with the friends I made first. Some life."
Richard smiled, "So being nice didn't work so now you're just going to try and make me feel like shit."
"This is what I mean, why do we keep doing this kind of stuff to each other?"
Richard shrugged, "Maybe I should go back to L.A. Maybe we need a break from each other, a real one. Different schools, different cities, different friends."
"I didn't mean it."
"Ok, still, it's probably a good idea."
"No it's not. If you leave I'll never talk to you again."
Richard laughed, "We're dysfunctional."
"At least you guys are aware of it," Joey said from behind them, "that's half the battle."
"What do you want?" Richard asked.
"The commie is calling everybody back to the table."
"The commie?" Toby asked confused.
"You know, Cooper's Asian and therefore a communist."
Richard and Toby both stared at Joey waiting for him to get to the punch line, but it never came.
"Just forget it. Come inside." He said before leaving the balcony.
Toby turned to leave but Richard grabbed his wrist, "We didn't finish."
"I still love you, but I don't ever want to get back together if it's going to be like it was before."
"It's not. I swear."
Toby shook his head kindly, but he looked Richard in the eye so that Richard knew he was serious, "Nothing's changed."
"But I have a chance?" Richard said not sure he wanted to know the answer.
Toby seemed barely able to get the words out, "You've got a chance."
As Toby walked away, Richard smiled because that was all he needed to hear.
Toby could feel the eyes of their friends look over both he and Richard as they settled at the table. Bliss leaned over and asked Richard, in a whispered voice, "Is everything ok?"
"Everything is fine." Richard smiled.
"So why did we all have to be back at the table?" Joey said, "what lame speech are you about to make?"
"Can you even see me over the top of the table?" Cooper asked.
"Your head can be seen from space."
"Yeah the head of my dick."
"You're getting distracted." Toby said.
"Yes, ok I have a surprise for Eric."
"Oh no." Eric said immediately hiding his face in his forehead.
"Yes, a stripper!" Michael yelled.
"There's gonna be a stripper up in here!!" Melinda said excitedly.
"No!" Cooper said loudly.
"Then there better be an after party." Melinda said.
Eric saw Cooper motion behind him and he turned around to see who Cooper was calling forward. It took him a few moments to see his mother and Jamie walking towards the table with smiles on their face.
"Hi mom!" Eric said standing up to give her a hug. He rubbed Jamie on the top of his head. Angela broke into a wide smile since she knew what was coming next.
"Cooper, why didn't you invite them for the whole meal?" Eric asked. When he didn't respond, he turned around to see Cooper had disappeared. As soon as his friends began to gasp, the restaurant became completely quiet and Eric looked down to see Cooper was on one knee.
"Cooper, what are..."
Jon shushed him from the table, "This would probably be a good time to let Cooper do the talking mate."
"Eric, my life is damn near perfect. I'm about to graduate, I have a great family, a sister who would fly across the country just to be here for this moment, friends who love and care about me. I've always had those things, but you are the missing piece; the thing I've been looking for to make my life complete. My life is infinitely better because you're in it and now that I've found you, I don't ever want to let go. I ask, in front of all our friends and family, that you do me the honor of allowing me to be your husband cause there's no one else in the world that I'd rather take that walk down the aisle with. Eric, will you marry me?"
Had anyone seen Jack walking to Chris' front door, his demeanor could only have been described as a man on a mission. He could hear noise coming from Chris' apartment before he even got to the door. The door was open slightly and Jack could tell a party was going on. He wanted to bring as little attention to himself as possible, so he opened the door and casually walked in, as if he was returning to the party after going to his care to retrieve an item. He quickly scanned the room, but Chris was nowhere to be found. Jack was temporarily relieved. He didn't know what he planned to say or do once he found him, but he knew one thing, he was no longer going to allow himself to be a victim. He walked threw the apartment to Chris' room finding the door closed. He looked around to make sure no one was watching him as he carefully, but quickly, opened the door. He saw the door to the balcony was open and he could see Chris standing out on the balcony. He shut the door quietly behind him and approached the door. Chris looked behind him when he heard the door slide open. When he saw it was Jack, a faint hint of a smile crossed his mouth before he turned his back to blow the smoke from the cigarette out of his mouth.
"What did you do to me?"
"What do you mean, you don't remember?"
"No, well...I remember parts of it."
"Which parts do you remember?" Chris said still not looking at Jack.
Jack paused. It was as if he were reliving every unpleasant moment of it. He didn't want to lose control and he knew that saying he had been raped out loud might send him over the edge, "You know what happened." he growled instead.
"All I remember is you coming over upset, us talking, and you falling asleep mid sentence."
"That's a lie and you know it!"
"No," Chris said walking towards Jack. The taller boy stood in front of him and looked down upon Jack with satisfaction, "it's my word against yours. And who do you think people are going to believe? The star of the basketball team or some faggot who doesn't get along with daddy?"
Jack had the self control to walk away or to continue to argue with Chris, but he decided to do neither of those things, he wanted revenge instead. With all his might he pushed Chris and watched in slow motion as the basketball player lost his balance. There eyes connected for a brief moment and Jack saw the recognition on Chris' face that he was going to go over the balcony. The last thing Chris saw before his momentum carried him over the balcony and several floors below was the look of satisfaction on Jack's face.
Finally, season 4 is done! I know it took me a while to get this chapter out there, but it was well worth it because I wanted to get this chapter done right. I'll be relocating to Australia soon so I'll be in no post mode for a few months probably, but I'll definitely be back for the final season of Three Roads. If you'd like to be added to the e mail list, send one firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be letting those on the list know of my whereabouts how far from posting I am, and how the writing is going. Hope to talk to you all soon J