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The Campus Pride center was humming with conversation when Andrew and Robyn walked in. A small man with round glasses was frantically waving papers as he swept from one desk to another in obvious frustration. Every so often he leaned over a computer to punch something into it, only to walk away from it in disgust a few seconds later.
A large, old, pink couch was tucked back out of the way, the young man with the streak of white in his hair was busy talking was a pleasant young woman who seemed to be watching the guy with the papers and laughing occasionally. Another young man, slumped into a chair was moaning loudly that he was doomed. A couple of overly dressed super-trendy pseudoqueens were surfing on one of the other computers.
Andrew blinked at Robyn who shrugged.
It was a room filled with blazing stereotypes; it was like he had walked into a television show. He glanced up at a wall filled with quotes like: "If we bring in a prostitute do we have to pay her?" or "I only get to use three fingers?" Andrew looked over at Robin wondering what she had talked him into.
Andrew cleared his throat.
The pandemonium of the pride center stopped. It was like they all just froze for a second as big grins spread across their faces as everyone turned towards the newcomers. Andrew had the sudden realization that this must be the last thing a seal saw when it accidentally found itself surrounded by sharks.
The first "hey", broke the silence and sounded like a bomb going off. And within seconds everyone in the office was firing off a chorus of "heys", "hellos" and "hi's" in their direction. And almost as soon as they began, they fell back into an awkward silence as everyone looked at each other expectantly.
The guy who had been excitedly flapping papers tucked them under his arm as he smiled, "Hi, welcome to the pride center."
There was another awkward pause as Andrew looked to Robyn for a little help. She grinned and shrugged at him, happily just along for the ride. Andrew made a mental note not to rely on her in a crisis; she'd probably be too busy laughing at him to be of any use.
The two on the couch shrugged at each other and went back to listen to the morose one whine, as the guy in the glasses took them off to clean them, "I'm RJ, Arge for short. So what year are you in?" The question was directed towards Andrew; so far Arge hadn't even acknowledged there was a girl there.
"I'm Andrew, this is Robyn, we're both in Second," Andrew said, folding his arms.
"What program?" Arge was now leaning on a filing cabinet and smiling an awful lot, again not looking at Robyn. In fact he went so far as to angle himself so that his shoulder was to her and his body was directly facing Andrew's.
"Pre-law," Andrew said, drawing himself up. He didn't like the way this guy was looking at him--it was almost like he was leering. It started to make him feel uncomfortable, but he wasn't about to let that show.
"That's cool." Arge reached around Robyn to pick up a stack of volunteer forms, "Are you looking to help out, or are you just here for a GLBTQIA?"
Andrew gave a confused look over at Robyn who shrugged, equally as confused.
Arge smiled, "Gay, lesbian, bi, trans-gendered, two spirited, questioning, inter-sexual, and allied."
"That's a mouthful," Andrew said. "What's an inter-sexual?"
Arge just laughed at him, digging into his pocket and producing a button with a rainbow on it. "Here," he said clipping it to Andrew's chest, his hand lingering just a moment too long before he stepped back.
"Uh... thanks," Andrew said, looking down at the button and over to a grinning Robyn, vowing to remind her of her promise to save him from people trying to pick him up.
"So," Arge said, drawing a little closer, "are you single?"
Andrew blinked at the directness, and shook his head, "No, I have a boyfriend."
"Oh?" Arge made no sign of backing off, "How long have you two been together?"
"A year and a half," Andrew said, again folding his arms firmly.
That drew a shock from the room, and Robyn winked at him.
"A year and a half?" the guy on the couch asked. "That's like, a record."
Andrew smiled, glad that he was being engaged in conversation with a familiar face, and stepped past Arge, escaping his cornering and sitting down on one of the overstuffed chairs. Robyn grinned, wholly bemused by Arge's reaction, and sat down on the arm of Andrew's chair.
"I know you," one of the pseudoqueens said, looking up from his computer. "Didn't you use to go to South Carleton?"
Andrew nodded. "Yeah," he thumbed to Robyn, "we both did, actually."
"Andrew Hamilton, or something," the young man said, flopping down onto the couch. "The gay hockey player."
"You're famous," Robyn observed with a smile.
Andrew glanced at her and back to the others, "Yeah, that's me."
"I'm Tyler." The pseudoqueen reached across to delicately shake Andrew's hand before flopping back onto the couch, dramatically wrapping his arm around the girl there, "This is Brandy, and that's Devon on the end."
Devon smiled as he tapped his temples--a warm smile--and Andrew grinned back, "Nice to finally meet you, Devon."
"So," Tyler chimed up in his small lisp, "do hockey skates hurt?"
Andrew turned in surprise, "Huh?"
"Have you ever had sex on hockey skates?" Tyler pressed, and from the look on his face he was being serious with the question.
"Don't mind him," Devon said with a grin. "He likes to ask strange questions. So was that your boyfriend I saw you with when you walked past the Lookout?"
Andrew smiled, "Yeah, that's my Will."
Arge had moved back to his papers, eyeballing Andrew like he was a piece of grade-A rib steak. Andrew studiously ignored him. Arge decided to try another tack, "So, you ever take him to the penalty box?"
Andrew stared at the abrupt question, again at a loss on how to respond. It was as if sanity had checked out of the room a long time ago. It was humorous, and Robyn was having a hard time trying to keep from laughing out loud. Andrew struggled to find answers to the latest question.
"I bet you didn't know," the other pseudoqueen said looking up from the computer, "that in nineteen-forty-one, hockey was the leading cause of mid-thigh lacerations."
Andrew blinked again, "Interesting, though in nineteen-forty-one I would have thought the Germans would have been..."
"Nineteen-fifty-three then," the queen snapped in a huff at having his joke thrown back at him and sulkily went back to his computer.
Tyler smiled, "Didn't you get caught having sex at school or something?"
Andrew turned back, "Uh, no, nothing like that. We only kissed at school."
Robyn grinned, "Yeah, and he got caught, like every time."
"Not every time," Andrew replied with a faint smile. "There were a few times we got away with it."
"Did you get shunned in high school for it?" Devon asked, steering the conversation back around.
Andrew shook his head, "I didn't let it bother me."
"His boyfriend slugged the school bully," Robyn added with a grin.
Andrew glared at her, as the others in the room leaned forward in interest.
"What, is he butch?" Arge asked with a broader grin.
"Nope," Robyn said, glad to finally be invited into the conversation. "He's this short, wiry British guy..."
"Oh, I love a man with an accent," the guy at the computer said, looking up again.
"So how'd you lick a hole anyway?" Tyler chimed up. Everyone studiously ignored his random question.
Devon looked at him, reached into his pocket and handed him a small packet. "Here, play with that."
"What is it?" Tyler asked.
"That's lube, Tyler," Devon replied tiredly.
"Lube?" Tyler said, tearing the packet open in such a way that the goo splattered all over his clothes. He stopped, a puzzled grin on his face as he reached down to scoop some of it up into his hands where, in utter fascination, he began to rub it through his hands.
"He'll be at it for hours," Devon explained, sitting forward a bit. "So you have some experience in overcoming homophobia."
Andrew nodded, "A bit; I just didn't let it affect me and people either accepted me for who I was or..."
"His boyfriend would beat them up," Robyn finished for him, laughing.
Tyler suddenly stood up. "I want to calculate the coefficient of friction," he declared with a mad look in his eyes as he headed for one of the doors. But to his dismay the handle slipped through his lubricated hands.
"You know," Arge said, "you're not going to get out; that's the same lube they use on the space shuttle."
"They use lube on the space shuttle?" Robyn asked incredulously.
"Yeah," the guy at the computer said, "we all know what's going on on the shuttle."
Robyn looked in confusion at Andrew, who just shrugged back at her, equally at a loss.
"You know," the guy said, "with the lube and the astronauts all alone on the space station for a year. You can't tell me those Russian boys on Mir weren't the first to join the ten-mile-high club."
"First sex in space was gay sex!" Devon said with a triumphant grin. "That or hot monkey dog action!"
Robin collapsed off of the arm of her chair she was laughing so hard.
"Come on," Devon protested. "Sputnik--tell me that wasn't designed by a fag!"
"Actually," the guy at the computer said, "Zero-G sex is damn near impossible..."
"They had straps," Devon fired back.
"Straps?" Tyler's ears perked up as he desperately tried to wipe the lubricant off of his hands on the carpet of the pride center.
"Oh dear," Brandy said rolling her eyes, "Tyler's gonna have wet dreams now."
Andrew glanced over the arm of the chair where Robyn was almost in tears she was laughing so hard. "I think you killed her," he said, looking back over at them.
"But anyways," Devon said, watching with bemusement as Tyler tried now to rub the goo onto his pants, "I was thinking--we need someone to deal with the homophobia-sensitivity speeches. Normally we get Vagasil to do it."
"Vagasil?" Andrew asked.
"Yeah, she's a drag queen, great public speaker," Devon grinned. "But it might have more of an impact if, well, considering the fact that you have a reputation for not taking homophobic shit..."
"And a butch boyfriend!" Robyn called out, bursting into another fit of giggles.
"Well, you might be the best person for the job; what do you think, Arge?"
Arge looked up from his papers, his eyes sweeping over Andrew appraisingly. "It's going to be nice working with you," he said with a leer.
Will was sitting quietly in his classroom; it was his lunch hour, he was supposed to be out of there, done teaching his students for the day. But the high emotions of having to explain to a class of young teenagers that their teacher was dead; a woman that they had all known, sitting in the back of the class keeping an eye on them... it had been stressful for him.
He blew out a sigh, sitting in the swivel chair behind his desk, two fingers lightly resting on his temple as he propped his head up with his hand watching the rain streak down the window. Aptly fitting the mood of the moment, he mused to himself.
"Mister Carter?" Will turned to see Mister Lushington standing in the doorway of the classroom. The aging former hippy, with his craggy face, full beard and wickedly cunning eyes, had an expression of sympathy for Will as he came into the classroom.
"Mister Lushington," Will returned, uncurling himself and making to stand up.
Lushington waved him back down into his chair, "Sit, this is your classroom." He glanced about, taking in with surprise the notes for Richard the Third scrawled across the blackboard. "Is that...?"
"Some of the students are reading it in their spare time," Will explained. "We discuss it a little at the end of every class if they behave themselves."
Lushington nodded as he sat down on the edge of one of the students desks, "I see; don't you think it a little much for students their age?"
Will held up a volume of the Canadianna book he had been forced to teach the students, "Megan was cold, so she went inside to get warm. The dog yawned loudly from the hearth. Mother was again making supper. She offered to help but Mother said not today, maybe tomorrow..." Will looked up, "Not exactly captivating the children's imagination."
Lushington arched an eyebrow as he reached out to take the book flipping through the pages till he found a random page which he scanned. "This is... dry," he admitted, closing it after a few minutes. "How are they taking to the Bard?"
Will tapped a pile of short book reports on the edge of his desk, "I asked them on Friday to write a book report on their favorite book. I was expecting comic books and adventure stories."
Lushington smiled, "They're all on Richard the Third?"
"About ninety percent of them," Will smiled tightly. "Though I did get one on Where's Waldo."
"Yet another classic," Lushington intoned soberly.
Will nodded, "I especially appreciated the bit where the student said his favourite part of the book was the end."
"If I recall you said the same thing about Conrad's Heart of Darkness on the Christmas exams," Lushington chuckled. "But seriously, Will, the school administration wanted me to talk to you."
Will's smile faded; he'd been expecting this conversation. He sat back in the chair hearing its pins squeak as he did so. "Go ahead."
Lushington took a heavy breath, "By provincial law, the students have to be taught by a teacher who is certified by the provincial board of teachers. We've managed to circumvent that with you because Mrs. Casey was supervising you. As you can probably guess, that is no longer a possibility."
Will nodded. "I understand," he said tiredly, reaching out to pick up his cold mug of coffee and staring into it before setting it aside again. "So I take it I'm fired."
Lushington took a deep breath, "We're in a teacher shortage right now. Replacing Mrs. Casey is going to be tough enough; finding someone to supervise your morning classes, that's going to be nearly impossible."
Will nodded in understanding, getting up and flipping open his satchel, stuffing his papers into it. He was already feeling the loss--first Mrs. Casey and now his students. It was a cold day, one that made him just want to leave. He couldn't face school that afternoon, not feeling like he was about to break down. It had taken all of his composure to deal with the first loss.
"I can understand that you're upset," Mister Lushington said placing a compassionate hand on Will's shoulder. "We all go through it. It's part of being a teacher; you grow attached to students over the course of a year, and then when it's over you realize how much you miss them."
Will nodded, "Yeah, I guess so."
"If it counts, I miss your Andrew from my classes," he sighed. "But then you never know what the next batch of students will bring. Sometimes they might bring you a Todd Parker, an Andrew Hamilton, or if you're really lucky, a Will Carter."
Will smiled, trying to blink back the emotion as he closed his satchel, "Thanks."
"I'm serious," Lushington said. "You're an exceptional student." He looked up at the board, "And an exceptional teacher if you can teach Shakespeare to Grade Seven students and make it interesting."
Will shrugged again. "What's going to happen to them?" he asked in concern, glancing out of the window of the classroom door to the students in the halls. His mind was drifting over their familiar faces, and wondering how much he would miss seeing them, and talking to them.
"I don't know," Mister Lushington said honestly. "Right now we are thinking about splitting them up, sending them off to the other classes. But we're already seriously overcrowded. " He extended his hands helplessly, "We're stuck and there's nothing we can do about it."
Will's face fell as he scanned over the seats lined up in rows in front of his desk. So many students, his class had been full as it was. Squashing them into another classroom would be nearly impossible.
Will thought awhile and glanced up at Mister Lushington, "Nobody can spare the time to supervise me?"
"We have no English teachers," Lushington replied, reading over one of the book reports.
"You have no English teachers," Will replied. "What about other teachers? The important thing is that you get a teacher, right?" Will said, setting his satchel down. "Someone to sit at the back of the room and make sure I'm not teaching the kids the wonders of the church."
Lushington winced and nodded, "Well, there are a couple of other teachers with spare periods. Miss Knightly, the home economics teacher, she has first period free." He stopped and glanced at Will, "The other is Coach Thorburn. You'd have him when you normally teach history."
Will swallowed, Thorburn... of all the people who hated his guts...
"They wouldn't be able to help you with course plans," Lushington said. "But I'm only up the hall, I can prepare them for you every evening."
Will nodded, "I can live with that--you get a teacher and I don't have to give up teaching."
"It's not going to be easy," Lushington warned. "Thorburn isn't going to sit at the back of the class and let you have free rein over the class."
"Yes," Will replied, "but Coach Thorburn thinks the Americans fought the British in World War Two," Will replied. "I can live with this arrangement."
Lushington nodded, "I am going to have to run it past the principal, and talk to Miss Knightly and Coach. But for the time being I think that is a working solution to our problem of what to do with thirty seventh-graders."
* * *
Will was getting ready to go to his next class; the lunch break was almost over and so far he hadn't even seen a sandwich let alone had anything to eat. He yawned loudly as he rubbed his eyes rounding a corner to the teachers' lounge.
Little Peter McCormick was curled into a ball, back up against a locker and his knees pulled up under his chin, his shoulders shaking with small sobs. There was a cut above his left eye, not deep but enough to bleed. Will took one look, and his mind was no longer thinking about a sandwich.
He crouched beside the sniveling student, touching him lightly on the shoulder. "Peter?" he asked in concern.
Peter looked up in surprise, desperately trying to wipe his tear-streaked face with the sleeve of his sweatshirt, trying to hide his crying. He tried the oldest trick in the book to fool Will--he tried to smile. "I'm fine, sir."
Will wasn't buying what he was selling, "Come on Peter, get up." He helped the boy to his feet, "Let's go into the computer lab." He fished out his keys, and the two were quietly away from prying ears as Will sat Peter down in one of the comfortable chairs while he crouched down in front of the thirteen-year-old and asking him what was going on.
Peter fought hard against the tears, but the second flood couldn't hold back, and flowed in loud sobs as he gave in to his abject misery. Will had never been good at dealing with tears; in the Major's home tears were seen as a sign of weakness, something to be punished. It made him feel helpless crouched there in front of Peter watching him cry his heart out.
"Hey," he said, sounding compassionate as he fished through his satchel for something to dry Peter's eyes with, finally producing the paper napkins that had become squashed from being in his satchel too long. "It's okay, you can talk to me about it."
Peter gibbered a moment longer, accepting the napkin before he lunged off of his chair and buried his head into Will's chest. Still crying, the little guy held on for dear life. Will was feeling uncomfortable--physical contact between students and a teacher was a strict taboo--but he couldn't pull Peter away. Right now Will was all the kid had, as he teetered on the edge of an impossible depth of misery and total isolation. Will knew those feelings all too well.
"Hey," he managed again, patting Peter's back, "it's okay; why don't you tell me what happened, I might be able to help you."
Peter pulled back a little, his small features looking up at Will with obvious pain. Not from the cut on his forehead, but something that had cut him a lot deeper. And Will felt his forehead furrow in concern as he stared back at those tear-filled eyes.
"Who did this to you?" he asked with a soft growl, as he examined the cut on the forehead.
"N-no one," Peter sniveled.
Will cocked his head to the side. "Pull the other one," he said with a serious look. Peter blinked at him and he sighed, "It means I'm not buying the bullshit act."
Peter gasped at the swear word, and Will smiled and waggled his eyebrows, "Betcha didn't expect me to say that, now did ya kid?"
Peter couldn't help it, a smile flickered across his eyes; it was there for a second before it fled again. There was life underneath that cold veneer of shyness.
"Well," Will said stretching, "I could stand here and list off the usual bullying suspects and see if you react to them, or you could just tell me, save us both some time and I go give them detention..."
Peter's face suddenly became very fearful. Obviously he had been threatened with more harm if anyone found out who had been picking on him. That just annoyed Will even further. Whoever these snot-nosed brats were that were picking on this kid, they'd get a piece of his mind. He had enough detention slips to last them until they graduated.
Yeah if they graduated in twenty years, he thought darkly.
Peter still wasn't talking; he only stared at Will with wide-eyed panic at the thought of what would happen to him if he told. Tattletales were the lowest form of life out in the halls. It was worse than prison; at least in prison you could buy your way out with smokes.
Will gave out a heavy sigh as he pulled up a plastic chair that was two sizes too small for him and he perched on it. "So you're not going to tell me, huh?" he said with a shrug. "Okay, but you know that mild-mannered teacher is only my secret identity, you should see what I do with my afternoons."
That got the kid's attention.
"Yeah, it's true," Will said with a smile. "I used to be picked on... quite a lot," he dropped his voice as if conveying a deep secret, "till one day I realized I was a superhero."
Now Peter was looking at him suspiciously.
"I'm serious," Will said still grinning. "I had this one bully, Todd Parker; now he was a grade-A..." Will looked about him and dropped his voice, "asshole." They both giggled at the naughty word, "So one day he and his mates decide they are going to pick on this here mild-mannered teacher." Will smiled broadly, "Boy did he pick the wrong day to mess with me. Let's just say he never bothered me again after that."
"But there are three of them," Peter suddenly blurted out.
Will glanced up, knowing exactly which three Peter was talking about. There were only three boys that worked together in a trio to terrorize other kids in the seventh grade. "Only three of them?" Will scoffed, "Betcha you could take `em."
"No," Peter said, his voice in quiet awe at the thought, "they'd beat me up!"
"Like they did this afternoon?" Will said, pointing to Peter's fresh cut.
Peter fell silent, and Will shrugged, "Well, if you're going to get beaten up anyway, what's wrong with taking a swing back at them?"
"But the other teachers say it's wrong to fight," Peter said, sounding sullen.
"Yeah, I'm not other teachers," Will said, folding his arms, "I'm your teacher. Now, I'm not saying it's okay to fight, that would get me into trouble. All I'm saying is, if you're going to get beaten up, just make sure you're not the only one getting punched. Might make them think twice about hitting you again."
He sighed; he was teaching a thirteen-year-old that violence was the solution to his problems. That didn't sit well with Will, but right now all the "just ignore it" bullshit just didn't help. His father had taught him one very important life lesson: bullies didn't give up because you ignored them. The only thing a bully respected was a split lip. Given a choice between picking on a kid that threw punches back and a kid that tried to ignore being kicked in the head, guaranteed the bullies would choose the latter over the former.
Peter sniffed again, and thanked Will. Will smiled as he stood up and picked up his satchel. So much for his lunch hour, that was now completely gone, but it was a worthwhile trade.
He touseled Peter's hair and nodded to the door, "Get going, before you're late for your next class."
"Thanks, Mister Carter!" Peter said with a shy smile as he vanished.
It was a hot day, all Will had wanted to do was go home, but Andrew had been waiting in front of the school. Resting with his arms crossed leaning up against his car looking determined. It was a pleasant surprise, and on any other day Will would have been thrilled, but he was exhausted and mildly cranky from a long day.
"What's going on?" he asked, tucking his satchel under his arm, as he walked up to his boyfriend.
"Are you free to go to a meeting with me?" Andrew asked looking mildly hopeful, "Robyn bailed on me, and I kinda promised I'd be there."
"Meeting?" Will asked already pushing his satchel into the backseat of the car, straightening up to look over at Andrew.
"Yeah, down at the university." Andrew said, again being vague. Ordinarily Will would have picked up on his boyfriends evasiveness, but he was distracted as a couple of his students exited the school heading for their bus. Little Peter McCormick trailing a few steps behind.
Peter, recognizing Mister Carter shyly waved before he scampered to catch up to his friends.
"Sure," Will said to Andrew as he got into the passenger seat, staring thoughtfully after Peter as he undid his tie and rolled up his sleeves.
"Great," Andrew said, sounding relieved as he piled into the drivers seat, starting the car with a turn of the key and pulling out of the lot, "I think you might enjoy this. It'll do you some good."
"Mmhmm," Will stated, turning his head to follow Peter, who had been shoved aside by a couple of larger boys as he had tried to get onto the bus. The boy's head, bowed and his spirit broken yet again.
Will rubbed his eyes, his talk with Peter the day before hadn't done any good. And he had no idea what he could do next. It wasn't as if he could fight Peter's battles for him, it wasn't the kind of fight Will could ever hope to win. Sooner or later Peter would have to learn to stand up for himself, or he would be pushed around for the rest of his life.
"I'm glad you're coming," Andrew was saying, oblivious to the fact that Will wasn't listening to him, "I didn't want to go there alone. And..." he trailed off as he saw Will lost in his own thoughts, "Hey Carter, are you in there?"
Will shook his head and smiled, "Yeah, it's been a long day. You'll be happy to know I survived a full period in the same room with Coach Thorburn and I only thought about throttling him four times."
"You don't have gym this semester," Andrew said in surprise.
"He's sitting in on my second period history class, making sure I don't teach the kids that England won the Second World War."
Andrew looked confused, "I thought England did win the war..."
"Not the way Thorburn teaches it," Will said with a shake of his head in bemusement, "He seriously thinks that America beat England soundly and sent that fascist Churchill to one of his own concentration camps."
"I don't get it," Andrew said as the car entered the highway heading for downtown, "What about Hitler and Germany?"
"Oh that was the first world war," Will said affixing a pretty decent impression of Coach Thorburn, he even managed the displeased eye-squinting thing that was classic Thorburn.
Andrew laughed, "They don't pay him to be a history teacher." He said grinning, "He's a damn good gym teacher. One of the best coaches in the province too..."
"Yeah," Will said dryly, "You're just saying that `cause he liked you. Those of us not gifted with the abilities of an Olympic god..."
"You think I'm an Olympic god?" Andrew asked with an even broader grin.
Will turned in his seat to look straight at his boyfriend, "Not tonight dear I have a headache."
Andrew pointed to the glove compartment, "I have Tylenol in there," his expectant grin growing broader.
Will opened the glove compartment and pulled out the bottle, he held it up and read the label, "Extra strength, fast acting..." he turned to Andrew, "Do I want to know why you have this in the car?"
"Well," Andrew said with a slight blush, "it's just in case you have a headache..."
"Uh huh, keep dreaming," he said with a grin as he slipped the bottle away, and turned up the radio, rolling down the window to enjoy the late spring evening.
He looked rather surprised when the car pulled into the University parking lot. Trying to remember why Andrew wanted him to come with him, drawing a complete blank he climbed out of the car and looked at Andrew thoughtfully.
Andrew was uncharacteristically nervous, distractedly looking about him as he adjusted the simple beige spring jacket he was wearing. Trying to make himself presentable, and Will found that odd, Andrew didn't get nervous.
"Everything okay?" Will asked in concern.
"Yeah," Andrew said as he smiled, "Come on we're going to be late."
They entered the large modern looking building that sat squarely in the middle of the campus. Will following Andrew's determined strides, glancing about him. It was his first time in Ottawa University and he wondered at how large it seemed. Especially compared to the rather small world of South Carleton High, the University seemed like a place where a person could just get lost and vanish into his own identity, no wonder people reinvented themselves when they went to University.
Andrew was walking with his casual loping strides, hands in pockets and looking as calm and in control as ever. Nodding to people he passed, even earning a few nods back. And that impressed Will, in just a few short days; Andrew had found a way to fit into his new university. Not just fit in, but also look as if he belonged.
They entered a large square area, with a small Tim Hortens at one corner, and Andrew gestured to it, offing Will a cup of coffee. Will was glancing around seeing a bunch of tables with people sitting at them, a couple were looking a little too closely at him.
"What kind of meeting is this?" Will asked accepting the double-double Andrew handed to him.
"It's...well... its..." Andrew grew very nervous.
Will had that sinking feeling in his stomach, "Andrew Pierre Hamilton," he said in a low voice, calm and even like he used to keep his students under control, "what kind of meeting is..."
A strange looking man in glasses with papers in his hand walked over, his eyes sweeping over Will as if weighing up a shark. "This your boyfriend?" The guy asked Andrew, as if referring to a piece of property.
Will felt his hackles rising, something about this man rubbed him to wrong way.
"This is Carter," Andrew said, "Carter, RJ he's the director of the Pride Center."
"Pride center?" Will choked on his coffee, "As in Gay Pride?"
"Well pretty and he has basic observation skills," RJ said derogatorily, "He'll fit right in. You should take your seats we're about to get started."
Will blinked at how rudely he had just been treated, "Excuse..." he started to say, but Andrew was already tugging him towards the seats. Will seethed, "You dragged me to a Pride meeting without asking me? I mean don't I get a say in this?" Will demanded suddenly growing very uncomfortable.
"You get a say," Andrew said in that calming manner of his, "Front or back?"
Will glared at his boyfriend, "That isn't funny." He whispered as they sat down towards the back. "You know this sort of thing isn't my scene."
Andrew sighed, "It'll do us both some good, you know to have some gay friends."
"I have friends," Will murmured petulantly as he sat down folding his arms and glowering into his coffee mug.
"As much as Jared can't get a girl to save his life, he's not gay." Andrew replied, he actually enjoyed it when Will was grumpy. There was an endearing quality to it, a Brit grumpy and sarcastic was just a humorous sight, and he kept expecting Monty Python lines to be thrown about like holy hand grenades...
Will on the other hand was not amused in the slightest. But Andrew wanted this, so he was stuck. He figured, the least he could do was give it a chance and try to enjoy himself. There were a few attractive guys in the meeting, though none had Andrew's kind of good looks. And certainly the dress sense in the room wasn't what Will had come to expect from the stereotypical gay guy, wasn't there supposed to be a mandatory fashion requirement? Some of the guys looked like they shopped in the women's departments.
It really hit him then how little he knew about gay culture. Most of that was limited to stereotypes and what he saw on Television. He'd never even been to a gay bar. In fact aside from Andrew, he'd never had a conversation with another gay man until then. That was scary, that he'd just never even thought about it.
"Well," RJ was saying, "Linda and Kerry were thrown out of the sportsplex after they kissed in public. Apparently there is a policy," he accented the word by making his fingers act as quotation marks, "That they don't allow any body to do that. I think its just another example of a general rule put in place but only ever enforced towards gay people."
Will rolled his eyes; he looked at Andrew, who was frowning in concentration. Well at least Andrew was getting something out of this. He leaned over and whispered to Andrew, "What's the point to this?"
"Do you have something to say?" RJ asked in a haughty tone, as if upset at Will's interrupting him.
"I was just wonder," Will said, "what the point was? If someone asked me to stop kissing my boyfriend in a public place then we'd just move on..."
"Stand up," RJ said, now obviously very annoyed, "Have you ever been discriminated against? What do you do?"
Will blinked, "I'm a teacher, I teach grade Seven..."
"Any of the parents have a problem with you being gay?" RJ demanded.
"No..." Will said.
"Ahhh I see, so they're careful not to because you're gay..."
"No," Will said slowly and deliberately, "The fact that I'm gay has nothing to do..."
"The point is," RJ said no longer listening to Will, "Every one knows that we are still being discriminated against, that is any of us that bother to read the newspapers or watch the news or actually acknowledge the world around them rather than hiding in the closet." He turned back to Will, "You can sit down now." He said dismissively.
Will blinked, his jaw setting, who did this arrogant little piece of...
Andrew pulled him back down before he got up, "Hey," he said in a loud term, "Before you go dismissing someone like that, perhaps you should listen to what he has to say." Andrew was angry, seething that someone would treat Will that way. "He was just asking you why we have to make a big deal out of something that isn't a big deal at all. Arenas are usually places for kids, and the management usually enforces its policies on conduct equally. I know, I've been around arena's most of my life..."
"I forgot," RJ said turning, equally as angry, "Captain Amazing here used to play hockey. If you don't mind, some of us who are actually trying to do something for equal rights would like to finish our discussion."
Andrew looked apologetically down at Will, "Come on, we're leaving." He said firmly.
Will licked his lips, and from his seat he folded his arms, "No, no we're not." He said setting his shoulders and locking eyes with RJ, "We're staying."
Surprise flicked across Andrew's face as he looked about him uncertainly; sitting back down beside Will he gave him a questioning look.
RJ seemed puzzled himself, but instead flipped through some papers, "Well any way, I was thinking we should stage some kind of protest..." he faltered, his eyes kept darting back to Will who hadn't moved, only sat there a dark countenance on his face as he stared at him, "I was thinking something like a kiss in."
"What's a kiss in?" Devon asked skeptically from the front row.
"It's where we send couples to the arena and have them kiss, and see if the management can throw out all of us." RJ said still shuffling his papers.
"But," Devon looked confused, "Wouldn't that require couples?"
"Yes we send people in relationships." RJ said firmly.
"Ummm," Devon again looked skeptical, "As far as I know there's only one member of the Pride Center in a relationship right now..."
"Who?" RJ asked.
Devon looked pointedly across the room to where Andrew was sitting next to Will. The look on RJ's face would have amused Will greatly, were it not mirrored on Will's own at that moment. He looked desperately over to Andrew.
"No." he said with complete firmness.
Andrew nodded, "I think it's a dumb idea." He said.
"Too gay for you two?" RJ demanded, angry again that his idea was falling apart on him.
"Sorry we're just not gay enough for you." Andrew replied getting to his feet again, "But as Will said, there's no real point to this. You could get more accomplished by just talking to the management than by trying some publicity stunt that won't work."
"Yeah well you wouldn't," RJ seethed, "Its easy for you to judge something as having no point when you're used to sitting with the popular kids, you know, trying so hard to fit in." He sneered, "the rest of us in the real world don't have it so easy. It's people like you that used to beat people like us up."
Andrew shrugged, "You don't know me, you have no idea what I've been through. You're just as set to judge off appearances, that makes you no better than the people that beat you up."
"I judge based on appearances because that's the way I have always been judged, being picked on just because of who I fall in love with." RJ seemed oblivious to the other people in the meeting, throwing his anger out at Andrew, "You have no idea what that's like."
Andrew shrugged at him, "You're right I have no idea what you went through," he said glancing at Will, "That doesn't make me any less gay."