The university had pushed up its start date a few weeks so that the first semester would be finished by Christmas this year. The afternoon autumn sun turned everything to gold as traffic wound slowly through the campus and around the dorms. Newly minted freshmen unloaded their clothes, computers and stereos before trundling everything inside their plain, brick dorms. Kisses and hugs from moms and dads, and by dusk the younger generation was finally on their own
"About time!" Mike Berman said to himself as he sat down on one of the two single beds in his new dorm room. He loved his parents and younger brother and sister dearly, but more so from a distance. He was ready to move on from being the apple of his parents' eye to some measure of independence, and an out-of-town school was just the place to get started.
Turning his head, Mike looked into the large mirror on the sliding closet doors. Looking back at him was a seriously cute (or so he had been told) dirty blond with a high and tight haircut, small ears, modest nose, piercing blue eyes and pleasant expression. His eyes moved over his well-earned swimmer's build on its 5'11" frame, wearing a cutoff tank top, gray gym shorts, and Nikes with no socks. Six-pack abs, and good, defined pecs filled out the tank top, and a bubble butt attached to muscular legs, the latter lightly dusted with blond hairs, completed the picture. His package looked good and big in the shorts, with a treasure trail leading down to it from his navel. Mike smiled and made the "OK" gesture to his image.
From 8th grade on, there had never been a time when the girls were not crawling all over him, and he them. He had dated a variety of them up until the middle of his junior year in high school and had lots of sex. Everything changed for him the night he and his cute swimming teammate Jason got wasted and had sex, and Mike found out what an orgasm was really supposed to be. Thereafter he publicly dated the girls for show, and privately got it on with Jason for pleasure. Now the plan was to study hard for the next four years, and do a lot of beautiful boys. No commitments. He wasn't ready for that. It was time to play the field. Discreetly, of course. He was only going to be 17, soon to be 18, once.
His roommate hadn't arrived yet, and he glanced around the room. It was bigger--about 20' by 25'--than he had expected, with built-in closets, cleverly recessed bookcases and desks with attached computer stations, two beds, and an adjoining bathroom and shower. Because it was a corner room, he and the roommate wouldn't have to share the bathroom with the guys next door. There was a mini fridge for ice cubes and soft drinks. The school obviously took care of the jocks there on scholarship. Mike's swimming scholarship was paying most of the freight for his education.
"You're not gonna unpack yourselves, I spose," he said to the suitcases. Peeling off his sweaty tank top and throwing it on one of the beds, he began to unpack and stow his gear.
A light knock sounded at the door, and in walked. . .a god in human form! Mike's jaw almost hit the floor as a handsome guy who looked like he had been poured into his 501's and a T-shirt extended his hand.
"Hi. Matt Broman. Guess you're my roommate."
"He-hey," Mike stammered. "I'm Mike Berman."
"Hmmm. Berman and Broman. B & B. I see that the placement people really put their creativity to the test in matching up roommates," Matt quipped. "I'm sorry I'm so late getting here, but my plane flights have been screwed up all day. I just got back today from a trip with my home town church youth group to Honduras. We left Tegucigalpa at 4 a.m., and I'm whipped!" With that, he fell back on the nearest bed.
Oh shit, Mike thought to himself, this guy is a world traveler and religious to boot! Broman. Broman. Why do I know that name? It came to him.
"Weren't you the state high school wrestling champ in your weight class last year?" Mike asked.
"Well, ah, yeah," Matt said, turning a little red and modestly looking at the floor.
"You're here on a full-boat ride, then. That's great! I'm here on a swimming scholarship."
"Excellent! You look like a swimmer. Listen, Mike, before we get better acquainted, I gotta run downstairs and bring up the rest of my stuff. If it's OK, I'll take the bed and desk and dresser over here."
"That's cool. I'll come down and give you a hand." At least he's not an arrogant prick, Mike thought. In fact, he seems like a pretty nice guy.
Mike grabbed a shirt and followed Matt out the door and down the hall to the elevator, and almost got hard watching the ass on this Adonis leading the way downstairs. Damn, guys with nice butts in Levi's made him hot! The two picked up a couple of suitcases and Matt's laptop from under the watchful eye of the security guard at reception, and made their way back to the room.
Making small talk, they put their clothes away and put fresh sheets on the beds. When they checked their schedule for orientation the next day, they found they were each supposed to report to the same building and room on campus at 9 a.m.
"Well, it's a shower and bed for me! I'm wiped," yawned Matt, and headed into the bathroom. He closed the door, but when the little exhaust fan in the ceiling didn't go on, he opened the door back up a little to vent the steam.
From his vantage point on the bed, the mirror on the closet door gave Mike a perfect view into the bathroom as Matt stripped for his shower. Work boots, socks, Levi's, T-shirt, and white briefs ended up in a pile in front of the sink. The body Mike saw emerge was probably the most perfectly proportioned physique he had ever seen--everything looked just right for Matt's height at 5'10". The kid was well hung--about 7 inches soft--perfectly shaped with a mushroom head, of course, snaking down over low hanging balls. Except for his crew cut head, underarms, and curly brown pubes, there didn't appear to be another hair on his body. His warm brown eyes and handsome, chiseled features gave Mike butterflies in his stomach.
Mike popped a bone, and when he heard the shower start and the shower curtain close, he stripped down to his boxers, got under the sheets, and began to jack off. He quickly blew a big load into a sweat sock, fantasizing about the beautiful body he had just seen..
Mike feigned sleep when Matt emerged from the bathroom, but watched across the room out of the corner of his eye when Matt pulled on a fresh pair of white briefs over that beautiful butt, got into bed, and was soon snoring lightly. Mike breathed in the smell of Matt's freshly washed, male body. The "Matt smell," he would come to call it.
"Shit, I'm in love!" Mike kidded himself before he drifted off to sleep.
* * *
The two roomies settled down into a comfortable routine over the next two weeks. They had a few of the basic freshman liberal arts classes together during this first semester before more advanced classes in their respective majors kicked in. Matt was pre-law, and Mike was pre-med.
After classes, in the late afternoon, Matt worked out with the wrestling team and Mike with the swim team. Between athletics and their studies, there wasn't a lot of time for socializing, but they usually talked for a while before bed about their courses, complained about their professors and dorm food, and compared notes on the pretty girls in their classes.
They found out they had a lot in common. Both came from well-to-do, upper-upper middle class families, both had a younger brother and sister, both of them had been jock heroes in their high school days, and--this blew Mike's mind--they both loved motorcycles. Each of them owned a Honda CBR 900, as a matter of fact, and shared "a need for speed." Their lament was that they couldn't have their bikes at school during their freshman year.
They were very popular with their teammates on the wrestling and swim teams, and there were always a lot of guys and even a few girls wandering in and out of their room at odd moments.
Matt was a pretty good Episcopalian, and Mike a casual Roman Catholic, so on their first Sunday in residence, Matt talked Mike into going to mass at the Canterbury Center, with the promise that he would go to mass at the Newman Center with Mike the next week. Mike received communion at Canterbury, and on the way back to the dorm Matt kidded him, "Mikey, the Pope is really pissed off at you now!" and they had a good laugh.
As the days passed, Mike realized that Matt was as beautiful a person on the inside as he was on the outside. Mike just didn't see any flaws in this guy at all--he seemed honest, hardworking, serious about the serious things, but with a killer sense of humor and an infectious laugh. And he was very laid back and easy to get along with. He was also very demonstative, and was constantly pulling pranks. He thought nothing of grabbing Mike around the neck and giving him nuggies, or putting him in a full Nelson and letting him struggle vainly to get away, or when they were sitting around in their underwear, snapping the waistband of Mike's boxers, and telling him, when he jumped, that he needed to learn how to relax. When Mike retaliated on occasion, his only assets were speed and dexterity. Matt couldn't catch him in a flat-out run down the hall, and Mike was slippery as an eel when cornered. Once Matt had his hands on him, though, it was all over.
Matt had been complaining about not feeling up to par for the past several days, and the Thursday night of their second week in residence something happened that moved their relationship to a new level.
Mike woke up in the middle of the night, and he thought he heard Matt say his name. He glanced at the luminous face of his watch, and it was a little after 2 a.m.
"Mike." He heard it again.
Mike snapped on his reading light, and glanced over at the bed across the room.
"Mike," Matt croaked out, "can you come here for a sec?"
Mike rolled out of bed, and went over to Matt. He had kicked all his covers off, and he and his sheets were wringing wet. The sweat was dripping off his body. His briefs were soaked through to the point of being almost transparent, giving Mike a jolt.
"Mike, I don't feel so good!"
"Hold on a sec, Matt." Mike blessed his mother for putting a thermometer in his first aid kit. He retrieved the thermometer, and sitting on the edge of Matt's bed, shook it down and put it under Matt's tongue.
Matt mumbled something, and Mike told him not to talk. When Mike pulled the thermometer out and checked it, it read 102°.
"Dude, you have a bad fever."
"No shit, Sherlock!"
"No, this is serious!" Mike said.
He grabbed Matt's wastebasket, dumped the crumpled paper in it into his own wastebasket, and took the empty one into the bathroom to fill it with cold water. Snatching some hand towels, he stopped at the little refrigerator and put all their ice cubes into the water. Carrying his makeshift pail back to Matt's bed, he sat down and began to soak the towels in the cold water. He knew that if Matt's temperature got much higher, he could go into convulsions or a coma, and possibly incur neurological damage.
Mike wrung out the cold towels, folded
them, and put one over Matt's face, one around his neck, and one over his
He dipped the towels back in the water and rotated them every few minutes, and after 10 minutes, checked Matt's temperature again. Still 102°. This wasn't good.
Ten minutes later Matt's temperature was the same, and Mike asked him if he thought he could swallow some aspirin. Matt thought he could, so Mike broke two aspirins in half, got a glass of water, and Matt managed to get them down.
After 20 minutes more, the thermometer was still reading 102°, and Mike told Matt he was going to wake up the RA. Matt protested and tried to sit up, but Mike pushed him back down, made the call, and explained the problem.
Not two minutes later, there was a soft knock on the door, and Jim Hollister, the RA, came in rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and carrying a digital thermometer.
"Hey, guys. Whassup?"
"Matt's not doing so well," Mike said. "I've been trying to cool him down for about a half hour, but my thermometer is still showing 102°."
"Lemme see," Jim said, and replacing the plastic throwaway piece on his own thermometer with a new one, he plugged it into Matt's ear and pulled the trigger.
"Yep, 102. You're right, Mike. Let's get emergency services up here right now. Call 911."
"No," Matt protested again, but was ignored.
"OK. Keep changing those towels, though." Mike got an outside line, called 911, and gave directions to the room. Then he called the front desk to let security know that the EMT's were coming.
Ten minutes later, Mike saw red lights flashing outside, and in a couple more minutes, two paramedics came in rolling a collapsible gurney with bags of meds and equipment on it, and bent over Matt's bed. They checked his vitals, and radioed them to the hospital along with Matt's personal stats. The answer came back almost immediately: "Bring him in."
The EMT's loaded a complaining Matt on their stretcher, strapped him down, put an IV in his arm, and covered him with a blanket. Mike threw on a pair of sweats, shoes and a T-shirt, and told the paramedics, "I'm coming with you."
"Are you a relative?" one of them asked.
"Yeah, for now," Mike responded, and they didn't say anything else.
Hollister locked the room, and followed them down the hall.
"You got Matt's home number?" he asked.
"I'll get it from information," Mike said. "I know where they live."
"Call me, then, and let me know what's happening, OK?" Jim instructed.
"I'll let you know as soon as I know anything. Thanks for your help, Jim."
Security held the building doors open, the EMT's loaded Matt into the ambulance, and Mike climbed in beside him. Matt's face looked ashen despite his tan and he was shivering and sweating at the same time. The ambulance pulled away with lights flashing.
"Can't you have 'em put on the siren at least?" Matt said to Mike, and the paramedics laughed.
"No traffic, no siren," one of them responded with a grin.
Five minutes later they arrived at the hospital emergency entrance, and Matt was rolled inside with Mike still hanging on to the gurney. The paramedics went through their litany of Matt's vitals for the hospital staff. Surprisingly, hospital staff let Mike into the bay with Matt while they took his temperature yet again and drew some blood for tests. "103," one of nurses told the doctor. Matt was passing in and out of consciousness.
The resident looked at Mike. "He's a university student, right?"
"You his roommate?"
"Has he had any symptoms before tonight?"
"Well, he's been complaining about being tired the last few days."
"Did he eat anything unusual in the last 24 hours?"
"Yeah, dorm food," Matt woke up and interjected with a wan smile.
"Other than that?" the doctor said.
"No, I don't think so," Mike said.
"Has he been exposed to anybody with the flu or anything else contagious?"
"Not that I know of."
"Any vomiting or diarrhea?"
"Has he traveled outside the country recently?"
"Yeah, as a matter of fact," Mike said, "he just got back from Honduras about two weeks ago."
"Hmmm." The doctor ordered an additional blood test, and one of the nurses hurried off. "We're probably going to admit him, and may have to pack him in ice to get his temperature down. Can you get in touch with his parents and let them know what's happening?"
Mike glanced at his watch. 3:30 a.m.
"Yes, I'll give them a call in a few minutes. They'll probably freak, though."
"Well, wait a few minutes before you call. Let's see if he starts responding to treatment," the doctor said. "The phones are out there"--he pointed in the general direction of the waiting room--"and you can have a seat. I'll come get you as soon as I know anything."
About an hour later, the resident came out and sat down beside Mike.
"We got his blood work back, and thanks to having a hint about what to look for, we're giving him some strong antibiotics. The ice did its job, his temp is on the way down, and we're hydrating him. He apparently picked up a bug in Honduras, one that we don't see much of here in the states."
"He's gonna be OK, then?" Mike asked.
"As I said, we're going to admit him, and he'll probably have to stay here for a couple of days, but yes, he's going to be fine. You can make that call to his folks anytime now." The doctor stood and started to walk away, and then came back.
"I understand from the paramedics that you iced him down back in the dorm. You should know that you probably saved his life. Once somebody's temp hits 105°, and his very likely would have, all bets are off. Good job. How did you know what to do?"
"I just remembered something about the danger of high temperatures from my high school hygiene class," Mike shrugged. "No biggie!"
"Very biggie," the resident contradicted with a smile. "You wanta be a doctor, by chance?"
"Yeah, I'm pre-med. You found me out," laughed Mike.
"You ever need a job in a few years, come see me."
"Thanks. Can I see Matt after I call his folks?"
"Sure. Let me get him admitted, and you can ask at the desk where they put him." The doctor strode away, and Mike went to the bank of phones. 5 a.m. Mike got the Bromans' phone number from information, and put the call on his phone card.
"Hello?" a sleepy male voice mumbled.
"Hello. Mr. Broman?"
"I apologize for waking you up so early, sir, but I'm calling about Matt. I'm Mike Berman, Matt's roommate, and I'm with him at University Hospital."
"What's wrong?" Mr. Broman asked. Mike could hear the apprehension in his voice.
"Matt apparently picked up a bug in Honduras, and he has a high fever. But the doctor says he's going to be fine. They're going to admit him for a couple of days, though."
Mike heard Mr. Broman relaying what he had said to a third party.
"Mike, thank you so much for this call. Matt's mother and I are going to get ready to drive down. Tell Matt we love him and we'll see him in about four hours."
"I sure will, Mr. Broman. I know he'll be glad to see you. Please don't worry, now. He's doing great."
They hung up, and Mike called Jim Hollister back at the dorm with an update, and then went to find Matt in the general hospital. He was sound asleep with an IV still draining into his arm, but he had stopped sweating so profusely and his color was better. Mike felt his forehead, and it was cooler.
"Matt, your folks are coming down, and said to tell you they love you," Mike whispered. And so do I, he thought to himself. He sat down in a chair beside the bed, and promptly fell asleep.
* * *
Two days later, Matt was back in the dorm with strict instructions from the doctor to stay in the room except for an occasional walk down the hall. He was very weak. The first day Mike had to walk him to the bathroom, hold him while he stood in front of the toilet to urinate, help him undress for a shower, wash his back, and hold onto him so he didn't fall while showering. Matt had been told by the doctor to stay away from wrestling practice for two weeks, and Mike was instructed to take him his meals in the room until he was stronger. Mike tried to keep the stream of visitors to the room to a minimum, but Matt was so popular, that was a vain hope.
Matt's parents had stayed in town while he was in the hospital, and they were warm and wonderful people. Matt's mother had hugged and kissed Mike when they left town, and told him how grateful they were for what he had done for Matt. They said he had a standing invitation to come home with Matt any time the boys had a vacation. That made Mike feel pretty good.
Matt didn't have much to say about the whole hospital episode for the first few days he was back in the dorm, but one night after all the visitors had cleared out of their room, he came up to Mike, and much to Mike's surprise, put his arms around him.
"I owe you big, bro!" Matt said quietly. "You saved my life, and I won't forget what you did for me."
Mike's eyes watered a little in spite of himself. "Hey," he said, "you don't think I wanted to break in a new roommate at this late date, do you?"
"You can kid around all you want, Mike. I'm serious. It was a near thing. and we both know it. I 'm really thankful for everything you did." He hugged Mike hard, and he could feel Matt's stubble against his cheek.
"Well, look, I'm glad I was here for you. We haven't known each other very long, but we're supposed to be here for each other. I'm just happy you're OK. Let's let it go at that."
Nothing more was said, but as time passed it was clear that their bond had deepened. More and more, they began to include each other in activities after their respective teams had practiced in the afternoon. Matt began to take Mike to the university fitness center for an hour in the evening two or three times a week for some light work on the machines, and showed him some basic wrestling moves. Or Mike would take Matt with him to the pool and they would swim laps together. For Mike, seeing Matt in speedos was a dream come true. Supporting the other by attending his competitions became a matter of habit for both of them. And they studied well together, only occasionally breaking the intensity to pelt one another with pencils or wadded-up paper as the mood struck them.
Their respective teammates began to kid them that they were like an old married couple, but Matt and Mike just laughed it off and thoroughly dug each other's company. They began to double date some of the prettier girls, and had some great times. Mike enjoyed those times, but knowing he was probably gay, tried not to lead on any of the girls into thinking there was anything serious going to happen. He'd learned his lesson about that in high school.
In fact, Matt and Mike's only bone of contention over the first few months was that sometimes, on rare occasions, Mike liked to smoke some weed, and Matt hated it. In deference to Matt, if he just had to have a few tokes, Mike would leave the dorm entirely, find a secluded spot, and get relaxed. Well, get wasted, actually. Whenever he did it, Matt refused to talk to him for awhile after he came back to the room to reinforce the fact he didn't like it. The only time Matt ever said anything after the subject had first been argued was to question how a gifted swimmer could do that to his lungs, and then he'd shake his head.
* * *
Midterms came and went, and all Matt's and Mike's studying had paid off. They each had gotten four A's and a B, and were on the dean's list. Their coaches were ecstatic because a lot of their charges barely maintained their athletic eligibility.
Matt used a notebook computer and a little bubble jet printer for his work, and Mike used a fast, full sized CPU with a nice 17" monitor and laserjet printer. Sometimes when Matt wasn't around, Mike would fire up his computer to check out stories in the Nifty Archives, or chat in gay.com or look at some of the hot gay porn sites. He always cleared his URL site history and made sure he shut the computer down completely before he left the room, though, and his password was required to fire it back up.
The day he forgot his normal computer shut-down routine, he had left the room in a hurry because he was late to class. It was the same day that Matt crashed his notebook, and needed to pull some information from a URL for his next class. When Matt moved the mouse to wake up Mike's computer, up popped gay.com, with Mike signed in as SwimStud1. Matt shut gay.com down, but couldn't resist looking at Mike's site history list. Lots of gay sites. Then he went ahead and pulled up the site and information he wanted for class, and left.
Mike got back a little early from swim practice that afternoon, and grabbed forty winks before starting to study. Matt came in, said hi, and was unusually quiet, but Mike thought he was just tired or something. They both got down to studying, but Matt didn't have much to say all evening.
Before they got ready for bed, Matt swiveled around in his chair and looked at Mike for a long moment.
"Are you gay?"
Mike nearly passed out. Pulling himself together, he swiveled around to face Matt.
"Why the hell would you ask me such a stupid question?"
"I used your computer today because my notebook crashed. I saw some stuff."
"The answer to your question is, Yes, I am gay, I'm pretty sure." Tears began to form in Mike's eyes. "I know you probably hate me now. I didn't say anything before because I didn't want you to look down on me. I know how much most jocks hate fags, and I certainly won't give you any trouble if you want me to move out so that you can get another roommate."
"Are you out to anyone here at school or at home?"
"No. Only one guy I grew up with at home knows. My family doesn't have a clue. Are you gonna out me?"
"Mike, don't be ridiculous. You are what you are. You're my best bud, and this doesn't change anything. And you're not moving out. You think I want to break in another roommate at this late date?" Matt asked with a grin.
Mike covered his face as the tears really began to fall. "I'm sick about this."
"Knock that shit off! Now I almost wish I hadn't asked."
"No, I'm glad you did. The closer we've gotten, the worse I've been feeling about lying to you about who and what I really am. I hope you can forgive me someday."
"There's nothing to forgive," Matt said. "Let it go. Nothing's changed, OK? If you ever feel comfortable enough to discuss it with me, and want to, then we'll talk. Until then, I don't want to hear any more about it. And I apologize to you for using your computer without permission and butting into your business. And I'm going to bed."
And he did.
His brain spinning, Mike didn't drop off to sleep that night for a long time.
* * *
Mike watched closely for signs that his relationship with Matt had been damaged by what had transpired, but Matt's attitude and the way they interacted hadn't changed, at least on the surface. Mike felt somehow that something else needed to be said to bring closure, but for the life of him, he didn't know what. On the one hand things were the same between them, but the subject of Mike's sexual orientation still seemed to hang between them like a dark curtain.
Christmas break was coming, and this year it came at the end of semester finals, giving them more time than usual away from school. Matt surprised Mike by asking him to spend as much of his vacation as he could with the Bromans. Mike was really pleased, and let Matt know that, but said he thought he should stick close to home with his own family because he hadn't seen them for several months.
That plan went south when Mike's mother called to say that Mike's 75-year-old grandmother in Ft. Lauderdale had fallen and broken her hip, and that the whole family would be in Florida over the holidays and for an indefinite period thereafter. She gave Mike the choice of coming to Florida or staying at home--alone. Mike said he'd let her know. It looks like I'm the home-alone kid, he thought to himself.
When Mike explained the situation with his family, and asked Matt if the invitation to go home with him was still open, Matt high-fived him exuberantly. "Hell yes, man! We'll have a great time, and you know my folks will love to see you."
Mike called his mother back, told her what he wanted to do, and got her blessing. She did ask him to call the family in Florida during the holidays, though. Now Mike really started to look forward to vacation.
The roommates slogged through finals week, studying hard, and they both felt pretty good about how they did on their exams. The night after the tests were over, the dorm exploded with life, and Matt's and Mike's room was full of partying teens until the wee hours.
Matt's younger brother Jeff had been dispatched from home with a car to pick them up, and arrived about noon the next day. Jeff was a clone of Matt, except a little taller and not so muscular. Handsome kid, though, a junior in high school.
Matt and Mike threw their suitcases and garment bags in the trunk, and when Matt offered to drive, Jeff gladly lay down in the back seat and promptly went to sleep. The roomies listened to some tunes and talked quietly about nothing in particular. After they stopped for gas and to use the facilities a couple of hours later, Mike took the wheel because Matt said he was sleepy.
"Man, this thing's a boat! I've never driven a Cadillac before," Mike said.
"What kind of car does your family have?"
"Two Lexuses, actually. Dad's is red, Mom's is white."
"I've never driven a Lexus, so we're even."
Matt slept for an hour, and Mike woke him up for directions when they got closer to the Bromans' house. They were driving down a quiet suburban road when a tall brick wall appeared on one side of the road, and continued for several miles.
"Slow down, Mike, the gate is just up here."
They drove through a wrought iron gate, standing open, and up a winding driveway and into a courtyard with a fountain in the center of it. One side of the courtyard was bounded by a six-bay garage, and the other two sides by a venerable-looking, red brick, English country house.
"Holy shit," Mike said. "Your house is humongous!"
"Yeah, bigger than we need," Jeff chimed in from the back seat. "But it's been in the family since before the Revolutionary War."
The front door opened, and Mr. and Mrs. Broman emerged, accompanied by Matt's and Jeff's sister, Martha. Mrs. Broman grabbed Matt and kissed him soundly. Matt shook hands with his dad, then hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. Mike went to shake hands with Mrs. Broman, only to be hugged and kissed instead. Mr. Broman shook hands with Mike, and clapped him on the back.
"Mike, welcome. We're so glad you could come for the holidays," he said, and Mrs. Broman echoed his words.
Matt introduced Martha, who appeared to be about a freshman in high school, to Mike, and she looked at him with big eyes.
"Martha, he's a college man and too old for you," Jeff kidded, earning him a smack on the shoulder.
"Let's get your things out of the car, and get in out of the cold," Mr. Broman suggested, and they grabbed their bags and went inside.
The hallway was huge and rounded, with various doorways to first floor rooms opening from it, and a circular stairway against the back wall winding up to the second floor. In the center of the hall hung the biggest crystal chandelier that Mike had ever seen, and underneath it sat a giant Christmas tree with all the decorations.
"Matt, you and Mike help Branford take the bags upstairs, then come down and see Grandma Hagerty and Uncle Jack and Aunt Judy, and introduce Mike to everybody," Mrs. Broman said. A distinguished-looking, middle-aged man in formal attire stepped forward silently and took two of the bags. "Branford, this is Mr. Berman."
"Good evening, sir. Good evening, Mr. Matthew. Please follow me."
"Where are you putting Mike?" Matt asked his mother.
"Well, we weren't really expecting Grandma. She flew in from Boston yesterday--you know how unpredictable she is--so the bedrooms are full. If it's all right, we'll put Mike in your room."
"No problem, Mom. Come on, Mike."
They followed the butler up the winding stairs and down the hall to the third door, and entered a large room with windows overlooking a brick patio at the back of the house and a lawn which swept down at least a half mile to what appeared to be a river in the distance. A private bathroom was equipped with a separate shower and whirlpool tub. There were comfortable chairs and some antique tables scattered about the bedroom, and an entertainment center, and computer, and even a fireplace, but only one double bed.
"Will there be anything else, Mr. Matthew?"
"Thank you, no, Branford. Tell my mother we'll be right down."
The man nodded, hung up the garment bags, and withdrew, shutting the door.
"Who gets the bed?" Mike asked slyly.
"We'll argue about that later, dufus!" Matt said. "Just leave the bags here--we can unpack later."
"Come on, I want to introduce you to the rest of the family."
They went back downstairs, and entered one of the doors off the hall leading into a library. The library ceiling was two stories high, and had a second story walkway around the edge to access the upper bookshelves. There was a small fire burning in the fireplace, with people sitting on couches and overstuffed chairs around it.
"Matt, dear." An elderly lady with gray hair looked up expectently.
"Grandma," Matt said with enthusiasm, and went over the couch to engulf her in a hug.
"You sweet boy, you look wonderful," she said, kissing him.
"So do you, Grandma. I'd like to introduce my roommate from school, Michael Berman. Mike, my grandmother, Mrs. Hagerty."
They shook hands politely, and Mrs. Hagerty said, "Michael, I've heard some interesting things about you!"
Mike looked over at Matt nervously.
"I understand we owe you my grandson's life," the old lady said. "It's a privilege to meet you at last."
"That's an overstatement, m'am," Mike said.
"Not according to my daughter and son-in-law. We deeply appreciate what you did."
Mike turned red and didn't say anything.
"Mike, I want you to meet my aunt and uncle, Jack and Judy Hagerty," Matt continued. A balding, middle-aged man stood to shake hands, and a somewhat younger, very pretty woman extended her hand from where she sat.
After the pleasantries were exchanged, Mike sat down between Mr. and Mrs. Broman, and the afternoon passed quickly in conversation, with everyone asking Matt and Mike a lot of questions about school. Mike didn't ever remember having such a good time with adults before.
Dinner was served in a dining room covered in beautiful wood paneling. Another chandelier hung down over a long table, which was graced with tall candles. Mike was so impressed with the surroundings, he hardly knew what he ate, but whatever it was, it was delicious. Matt and Mike had wine with dinner with the grownups, leading to big complaints from Jeff and Martha when they got none.
After dinner, they all adjourned to a sitting room on the other side of the big front hall, again enjoying a fire in the fireplace and some more good conversation.
About 10 o'clock, Matt kissed his mother, and excused himself and Mike, saying they were tired from the trip. They went upstairs to Matt's room and got ready for bed. They unpacked their clothes and put them in a huge dresser on one wall, and their toilet kits in the bathroom. Matt took his usual evening shower while Mike watched TV.
Matt came out of the shower with a towel around his waist, looking very sexy, Mike thought. Matt slipped the towel off and put on a fresh pair of briefs.
"I don't know how you can wear those things," Mike told him. "Too confining!"
"Well, that way, when I get a hard on, no one can tell," Matt said.
"With that mini wiener you have, no one could tell anyway."
"You piece of shit! You're gonna pay for that."
Mike grinned. "Yeah, yeah, promises, promises."
Matt started over toward him, but turned back when Mike got up and dodged around a couch.
"I owe ya," Matt muttered to himself, turned down the bed, and climbed in.
Mike finished watching a Law and Order rerun, shut the TV off, and went into the bathroom to brush his teeth. Coming out, he stripped to his boxers, grabbed a pillow and blanket out of the closet, and headed for the couch.
"Mike, what are you doing?" Matt asked.
"Going to sleep, what's it look like?"
"We can share the bed, you know."
"That's OK, the couch feels pretty comfortable."
"Mike, get your ass over here."
"No, really. . ."
The next thing Mike knew, Matt was out of the bed and sitting astride his chest on the couch.
"Now we can do this the hard way, or the easy way, your choice," Matt said. "Come on, get in bed, I wanna talk for awhile."
"Oh, all right," Mike said with reluctance, pushed Matt off of him, and walked to the bed. Climbing in, he pulled the sheet up to his neck.
Matt joined him, and they lay there quietly for a few minutes.
"I want to talk to you about the gay thing," Matt said finally.
"The gay thing?" Mike shot back. "What the hell is the gay thing?"
"Don't make this more difficult than it is," Matt said. "I don't think we've said everything that needs to be said, and there haven't been that many opportunities to talk about it. You know I care about you, and I just want everything out on the table."
Finally Mike spoke up. "All right, you asked for it!
"My gay sex experience is very limited," he began. "I've only had sex with one guy, my best friend on my high school swim team, and we did it a lot during my junior and senior year. That's it. Before that, I was pretty hot and heavy into girls. Once I had had sex with a guy, though, I knew I was gay. You don't know how much I just wanted to be normal, but no such luck.
"My plan when I came down to school was to fuck as many beautiful boys as I could. I mean lots of guys. The last thing I wanted to do was to fall in love with anyone, male or female."
"This is really hard for me," he said.
Matt was quiet.
"Then you and I got to be roommates," Mike said. "I was attracted to you physically right away, but that's as far as it went at first. You probably don't even think about what a beautiful bod you have."
"I look OK, I guess," Matt responded.
"Let's not bullshit each other, bud. You are fucking gorgeous! I've had trouble not boning up every time I see you," Mike said. "And the better I got to know you, the kind of person you are, the more I thought of you. After awhile I never even thought about getting it on with anybody else. There was no competition."
Long pause again.
"I don't know how to say all this."
Mike took a deep breath and continued.
"I love you very much as a human being, Matt. I really believe you love me that way, too. The difference is, I don't just love you and admire you, I'm in love with you. I'm so much in love with you that, if I could, I'd get under your skin and be you. That's why living with you is so tough for me. I fantasize about you all the time. And I know you can never respond to me the way I want you to. I'd feel terrible not being around you, but I'm hurting every minute, dude. That's why we need to give some thought to this roommate thing, and maybe I need to move on."
He added, "Now, can I stop embarrassing both of us?"
Matt moved his head over on his pillow until he touched Mike's head, and said quietly, "I'm not embarrassed, man. I'm stunned. I just didn't know. I think I'm hopelessly straight, but if it were ever to be another guy, you'd be the one, and that's the truth. I've had a lot of friends in my life, but I never had these feelings for them."
Matt was quiet for a minute, and then continued slowly, "You got it right when you said you believe I love you--and I've never said that to anyone but family." He paused. "Well, maybe I've said it to a few women along the way. But I didn't mean it! Anyway, the fact is, I care about you more than I can put into words right now. And not just because you saved my life, don't think that. I never thought I would ever say anything like this to another guy, but I'm begging you not to move out on me. Please. I know I have no right to ask, but please stick with me, roomie."
Mike sighed. "You're tough to say 'no' to, bro. Let's just think about it though, OK?"
Matt said nothing, but turned on his side, put his arm across Mike's chest, and they fell asleep head to head.
END OF PART 1