by Julien Gregg
Edited by Bruce
© Copyright 2005 Julien
All rights reserved.
No part of this story may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author. This story is almost all fiction. Almost all of the characters depicted in this story exist exclusively in the imagination of the author. Any resemblance to an actual person, living or dead, is, sometimes purely coincidental. For a list of my other stories, original and fan fiction, please visit my personal website.
The first day of school found us all sitting together in the quad before classes. Wendy was seated between Ben's legs on the floor with her head resting on his chest as she watched the incoming student body. Peter was sitting with Marcy on his lap as they talked idly about things that I couldn't hear. Jeremy was watching the girls pass him by as he pretended to be interested in his schedule while Nick watched Wendy and Ben. Mark and Rick were in a similar pose to me and Steve; Steve and Rick on the floor with me and Rick seated on the little ledge above and behind them both, one hand thrown over Steve and Rick's shoulder joined my interlaced fingers with me and Mark. The entire football team and half of the varsity cheer leading squad sat around us in varying positions.
"Look at them," said Wendy as I turned to look at the fresh
batch of freshman coming in the building. "They look lost and scared."
"Remember when we were freshman?" Steve asked as he smirked at Wendy.
"We weren't like that," she insisted. "Besides, my dad was the dean even then. I had no reason to be scared. Vince was with us that day, too, and you walked around knowing that he would save you if you got into trouble."
"Speaking of new students," said Ben, "where's Phillip?"
"He stayed with Dustin last night, right?" I asked. "So he'll be late."
Ben and Wendy laughed at that comment, and Steve gave a little chuckle as well. I had to admit that it was good to back among all of my friends. Most of them had been away for most of the summer, and this was the first time, since Wendy's end of summer party, that we'd all been together at the same time. Phillip was still getting used to all of us, but he was fitting in pretty well. All that we needed now was for Nick and Jeremy to find girlfriends. Then we'd all be paired off. Of course Phillip's other half was currently enrolled at the Storyville University, so that meant that he would be without a partner during school hours.
The first bell sounded, and we all broke to go to our
classes. For me and Wendy, that meant Analysis. Our teacher, Ms. Sprick, was
an older woman with dark auburn hair that was cut short and spiked on the top
as if she were trying to look younger. She wore thick glasses and a lot of
make-up. Everyone chattered away as she passed out books and papers for us to
fill out. I chuckled as I looked over the paper. We had to fill in our names,
home phone numbers and the number inside our text book.
She let us talk through the hour and picked up the papers at the end of the hour. Wendy and I went our separate ways after the bell, and I met up with Phillip, Jeremy and Rick for Psychology. We went through a similar ritual in that class, but we weren't allowed to talk through the hour. Mr. Tolston gave us assignments after he went over exactly what we would cover in the first semester of the class.
In Study Hall, I sat with Nick and Jeremy and we talked about our classes while Coach Phil sat behind his desk, reading a magazine. We talked about Vince and Mariah's wedding that was coming up soon, and Nick asked if me and Steve were going to be at the reception the whole time. I noticed a dark haired boy watching us closely as we talked, and he smirked when Nick mentioned me and Steve in the same sentence. He looked to be about sixteen years old with eyes that were the same shade of brown as his hair that was combed perfectly. He was dressed in expensive clothes, but he looked like he was trying to dress to impress people or something. When he caught me looking at him, he gave me a dirty look and turned his head. I wondered what his problem was.
Gym was the first of the only two classes that Steve and I shared. Mark was in there with us, and Mr. Pratt had us all sit on the bleachers while he barked at us about dressing out, showering and keeping things tidy in the locker room. He said he would put up with no name calling or fighting in his class, and if we got caught fighting, he would give us zeros for the year. We picked up locks and locker assignments as we left the gym at the end of the hour.
Steve and I stopped at our locker to put our books away before heading to lunch with the rest of the gang. When we got to the cafeteria, everyone was waiting for us. I saw that same boy from Study Hall, sitting with a younger boy that looked a lot like him at a table by themselves. He smirked at me when I looked at him, and then he scowled when he saw my hand in Steve's. "Yeah," I thought, "this one is sure going to be trouble."
"Who is that?" Steve asked when he saw who I was looking at. "He's in my History class first hour, and he stared at me all hour long."
"I don't know his name," I replied. "He doesn't seem to like us very much, though."
"That's his problem," said Steve as we grabbed trays and went to purchase our food.
I forgot about the boy as we settled into the line to get our food. Steve told me about his classes, and I told him about mine. For me, the classes weren't going to be too hard. I'd already gone over most of the material when I'd been running myself to death. I had enough credits to graduate already, but I wanted to graduate with my friends, so I was taking the extra year. The classes I was taking were the right ones for college, so it wasn't so bad for me.
"How's the first day going for you two?" Wendy asked when we got to the table with our trays.
Not much was on either tray as both Steve and I shunned most of the cafeteria food. I had an apple, pudding cup and juice while Steve had a banana, yogurt and juice. We'd thought about saying something to Mitch about the food in the cafeteria, but no one else really seemed to care much. I thought we should just start bringing lunch with us.
"Classes are going to be fierce," said Steve as he sat down. "I'm going to have to study my butt off."
"What about you, Tommy?" Ben asked. "Anything worry you about your classes?"
"Nope," I sighed. "Review for me."
"Reverend Hartman's grandsons are here now," said Jeremy. "I'm in Trig with Leo Hartman."
"Reverend Hartman?" Ben inquired, scrunching his eyebrows as he looked at Jeremy.
"The Baptist devil," replied Nick. "He's the preacher at First Baptist over on the other side of Compton."
"Why are they going to this school?" Wendy breathed. "They live in Compton's zone."
"Hartman says that Compton is an immoral place," said Mark. "He's said it for years. I bet he's still saying it. Leo and Noah being here are proof."
"Is that them over there?" I asked, looking at the two boys that had stared at Steve and me when we came in. The older one was the same one from Study Hall.
"That's them," said Jeremy. "Leo is the older one. He's in our Study Hall."
"That explains why he smirks at us and gives us dirty looks," I sighed. "He's in for a rude awakening here."
"Yeah," laughed Nick. "If he crosses you, you'll kill him."
"Not funny," I replied, trying not to laugh.
I'd advanced pretty far in karate, and the few fights I'd actually been in at school were almost legendary now. I'd seriously hurt one boy once when he was trying to hurt Jeremy, and no one let me forget it. Now, though, it was just my own friends that liked to comment on it in jest. Only a friend can take a scary situation and make fun of it in front of you.
Lunch passed too quickly, and we were all getting our stuff together as the bell sounded to let us know that we still had to go to our last classes of the day. In truth, I was ready to go back home. Steve and I both had the day off from work, so we could spend the evening lounging. I so looked forward to it. Vince would be with Maria, shopping for things for the apartment that was being constructed over our garage. Andy was practically living at Gage's, so Steve and I would have the house to ourselves.
Steve was in my Literature class, so we went to our locker to get books and headed off to the other side of the building, promising to meet Nick and Jeremy after our last classes of the day. Our teacher, Ms. Tull, wasn't one of our biggest fans. She was a very prim woman with dark red hair that she kept pulled tightly behind her head and in a bun. Her dark green eyes never looked happy, and her pursed lips were always coated with just enough rust colored lipstick to keep them looking like a bruise under her long nose.
She'd been one of the only teachers in the school to
verbally speak out against the forming of the GSA, and she'd made her opinion
of homosexuality and diversity well known at the time. She was talking
with Leo Hartman when we walked into the classroom, and she smirked at us as
we sat in the middle of the room, choosing desks next to each other.
"I'll allow the two of you to sit together as long as there are no problems, Mr. Porter," she said, barely masking a glare as she looked at me.
Leo leaned closer to her to say something, but her gaze didn't leave us as she nodded to whatever he said. Then he walked down the isle and chose the desk directly behind mine. I looked at Steve, and we both sighed. This wasn't going to be a good class for us. I could already feel the tension building. If things got too out of control, I'd just drop the class. Steve could transfer to another.
The hour dragged on after she passed out the text books as well as a syllabus that outlined exactly which sections of the book we would focus on as well as assignments and test dates. I noticed that there was a reading assignment for that very day and sighed. School had started all right. I had assignments in a few classes, but I knew that I'd breeze through them fairly quickly. I'd help Steve wherever he needed help. I just didn't like the idea of spending the beginning of our afternoon and evening alone together with homework.
Ms. Tull stared at us as we left her classroom after the bell. If looks could kill, Steve and I would likely have been dismembered as we walked out. I had a sinking feeling about her in my stomach. I knew that the class was going to be a difficult one for me now, no matter how prepared for the material I was. I thought that it might not be a bad idea to drop the class then. I could have talked to my guidance councilor the following morning, but that still left Steve. Even if he got his councilor to transfer him, it would take a few days.
My day got no better when I walked into my Advanced Computer Programming Class. Leo had beat me to the class, and he was smirking at me as I walked in the door. To make matters worse, the only available work station was the one right next to him. I sighed inwardly as I walked over and took my seat. If he got out of hand, I would have to put him in his place. This wasn't going to be a fun class for me, either, and I loved computers.
Mr. Branch had taught my last computer class, and he smiled
at me when he walked into the room. He was tall with thinning dark hair that
he kept combed to the left side to hide the growing thin spot on the top of
his head. He wore wire-rimmed thick glasses that magnified his dull brown
eyes. His choice in clothing style was no different than it had been the
preceding year. He wore a yellow short-sleeved dress shirt complete with a
pocket protector filled with two ink pens; one with black in and the other
with blue, two makers of the same colors for the white board and one
mechanical pencil. He was a nice man who was also our academic adviser for the
GSA, and I was happy that he was our instructor for this class.
"Tommy, I'm glad to see you in this class," he said, smiling. His voice would fool anyone into believing that he was an overly sexy man if they spoke to him without seeing him. "I'd thought you would have taken your diploma at the end of last year."
"I want to graduate with my friends," I replied, smiling
back at him.
"Well, I guess I don't have to wait to find out who my assistant will be in this class," he chuckled, moving to the small podium at the front of the class. "Why don't you start by passing out the manuals?"
"Mr. Branch," said Leo as I stood and walked over to the long folding table on the other side of the room to pick up stacks of the computer textbooks. "I don't believe its fair that you chose Tommy to be your assistant for this class. I'm sure that he's very qualified, but others in the class are probably just as qualified to take the position."
I sighed as I started to pass out the books. Leo could have been arguing for the instant grade that came with being the computer assistant, but I didn't think that was what was happening. The boy wanted to make waves on the very first day of class, and I was sure that this was only a preview of what was in store for the remainder of the semester.
"I doubt that anyone in class is better qualified than Mr. Porter," replied Mr. Branch with a smile. "I've chosen my assistant, and I don't wish to argue about it, Mr. . . .?"
"My name is Leo Hartman," Leo said haughtily.
"I see," said Mr. Branch as his smile melted from his face.
"Mr. Hartman, is there a special reason that you're against Mr. Porter being
selected? Perhaps you think he doesn't deserve the position and grade that
comes with it."
"Mr. Branch, I really don't think that its a good idea for you to select a morally unstable person to help teach young minds," said Leo, and I nearly dropped the books in my hands. Everyone was silent, but all eyes were on Leo.
"Your grandfather is Reverend Hartman, correct?" Mr. Branch asked, perching on the edge of his own desk net to the podium.
"That's correct," replied Leo. "He wouldn't be very happy to know that you had selected a homosexual to assist you in teaching."
"Mr. Hartman, I find that statement to be very inappropriate," said Mr. Branch in as angry a tone as I'd ever heard him use. "This is a public school, and I'm sure I don't have to remind you that the church has no sway in public schools. If we are forced to discuss this further, perhaps we'll fare better discussing it after school with Mr. Benson."
"I'm sure that isn't necessary," mumbled Leo as he glared at me.
"Very good, Mr. Hartman," said Mr. Branch. "Now, if you will please accept the manual from Mr. Porter, I can get started."
Leo snatched the book from my hand as he continued to glare at me. I just shrugged and took my seat. I wasn't going to be pulled into anything that easily, and if he thought he could get me to argue, or say anything at all to him, he was about to learn that I'd been up against better opponents than him. I pretended not to notice that he was continuing to glare at me as I opened my notebook and prepared to begin taking notes for the class.
"Mr. Branch," he said after a moment. "I would like to have a different work station."
"As you can see, Mr. Hartman, all of the work stations are occupied. You'll have to stay where you are," replied Mr. Branch. "If this is a problem, you can always spend the hour with Mr. Benson. Now, if you don't mind, I would very much like to get the class started."
With that said, Mr. Branch began to take roll. Leo continued to glare at me, but he did open his notebook. I sighed as this went on. If he was going to be this much of a problem, I might have to drop this class as well. I didn't want to do that, though. Thinking about it made me angry, but I tried to focus on what Mr. Branch was saying and take notes.
I wasted no time getting out of the class when the bell
sounded. Mr. Branch told me that we would go over a few things the following
day before I got out of there, but I didn't waste any time looking at Leo. I
went to the locker that Steve and I shared to meet Jeremy and Nick. Steve was
already there. He took one look at me, and his smiled was gone.
"Leo Hartman," I replied. "He threw a fit when I was selected to be the assistant in Mr. Branch's class. He said that it wasn't right that such a 'morally unstable' person help him teach the class. I nearly threw books at him."
"Great," sighed Steve. "I thought all of that was behind us."
"Apparently not," I said. "Let's just get Nick and Jeremy and go home."
When Nick and Jeremy finally got to our locker, we headed out of the building, passing Leo and Noah on our way. Leo smirked at us, of course, but Noah smiled. Noah was almost a carbon copy of his older brother. He was a few inches shorter than Leo, but the dark hair and eyes were the same. I didn't return the smile for fear that Leo would think something else was going on. We just walked by them and out the front entrance of the school.
"What was that all about?" Nick chuckled as we walked to
"Leo?" Steve asked in reply as Nick nodded. "Oh, he's a big fan of Tommy's."
"Right," I laughed. "Get in, and let's get out of here. I've had enough school today."
All the way home, Nick and Jeremy talked about their day at school. Steve and I were mostly silent. We responded in all of the right places, but my mind was on what had happened in my last class. I hated that Leo was making my favorite class feel like Hell, and I was trying to figure out how to change things around. I felt Steve take my hand, and he was smiling at me when I looked at him.
"Let it go for a while, Bud," he said.
I sighed and entwined my fingers with his. I tried to let it go, and I think I was successful for the most part. I actually tuned in to what Jeremy was saying about a girl in our Psychology class. He said that she was beautiful, and I smiled at his excitement. It was nice to see him getting excited about a girl. I really did hope that he and Nick found someone to be with. It was odd having two friends who were unattached in a sea of couples.
At home, Steve and I sat across from each other in the dining room to work on our homework. As usual, all thoughts of Leo vanished from my head once I started to concentrate on my work. Steve only needed help with a few things, and after I'd helped him figure out what he was looking for, I got down to business. I was just finishing up when Vince walked into the room.
"Hey boys," he said, slumping into a chair at the end of
the dining table.
"I thought you'd be out with Maria," said Steve as he closed his notebook.
"She got called in to work, so I've been working on the apartment," explained Vince.
"Think you'll have it finished before the wedding?" I asked, stretching.
"Oh, sure," he said, smiling. He always smiled whenever anyone mentioned the wedding. "Thanks again for letting us have it, Tommy."
"Stop thanking me," I laughed. "Vince, you're practically my brother. This house belongs to all of us, and I really didn't like the idea of you not at least being on the property."
"Just don't think that you two can come crashing into the apartment whenever you like," laughed Vince, dodging the sentiment. He wasn't very good with expressing his feelings.
"Oh, don't worry," laughed Steve, "we don't want to be scarred for life."
"Shuddup," laughed Vince. "I put up with you two mauling each other enough to scar me for the next three lives."
"How was your first day of classes?" I asked, changing the subject. I was never really comfortable discussing anything to do with me and Steve with Vince.
"Tolerable," he replied. "I at least understand everything I need to."
"We have a GSA meeting tomorrow after school, Tommy," Steve suddenly reminded. "I forgot about that until just now. Sorry."
"Have you guys talked to Mitch about the dance?" Vince asked.
Vince had become a very active member of the GSA at Storyville University. In the process, he'd also started to help out with Storyville High's GSA organization. Rick and Mark were the founders of the club, and a few days before school started, Mark had recommended having a GSA sponsored "Back To School" dance. I didn't know if he'd had a chance to talk to Mitch about it yet or not, but that was his baby to rock.
"Mark talked to him today," said Steve. "I haven't talked to him since lunch, though."
"Well, keep me posted," said Vince. "I'll get the gang at the college to help make fliers and posters. Do you need help with decorations?"
"I'm sure we can get our chapter of GSA to work on those," I said. "We need to find out if we can actually have the dance first, though."
"Well, like Mariah said, we can get a couple of people from our chapter to volunteer to chaperon your dance," he said.
"The dance would have to be soon," said Steve. "We need to get with Mark and Rick to talk about all of that. I'm assuming that it will be up to our committee to map everything out."
"Most likely," I said. "That would include finding four faculty chaperons as well as Vince's crew."
"Mr. Branch would agree," said Steve. "I'm sure that Mrs.
Lutz would agree, too."
"That just leaves two more," said Vince. "Get all of your requirements out of the way before Mitch has a chance to approve or deny your request. That way, he'll see that you're serious."
I thought about it for a few minutes. This dance would mean that the gay students would be able to openly admit that they were together. I liked that idea. Steve and I had refrained from going to any of the other dances the previous year, because we weren't sure how it would be viewed if we showed up with each other for dates, let alone danced together. This dance would be ours. Well, the GSA's, but we were on the committee, so that meant that it was partly ours. I hoped that we could get everything ready in time, and I hoped that Mitch would agree.