This story is pure fiction. If you are not 18 or older, please leave immediately.
Do not continue reading. Also, if gay male sex isn't
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If you liked this story, please let me know. Feedback, comments, thoughts, criticism are all welcome. DO NOT email me if you are under 18 years of age. Andrew J (Email: email@example.com; Yahoo IM: andrewbjo)
My big bro and my boyfriend both saw me off at the airport. When I finally had to go through security, Dan gave me a hug and told me to “knock ‘em dead at Northwestern”. Tom didn’t say anything. He was too busy blinking back his tears and trying not to look sad. Silly boy. Even I managed to hold back my tears until I boarded the plane.
The next couple of weeks were a blur. I’d given myself an extra week for advance prep and to get some reading done but it wasn’t enough. I was entering what was reputedly the hardest quarter of the program, and desperately wanted to do well. I dived head first into my schoolwork, trying not to think of the amazing weeks I’d just spent in New York. Of course, this wasn’t always possible.
To say I missed my big brother would be inaccurate - Dan was too much a part of me to miss. Rather, his absence was like a huge vacuum deep inside me. This was the way it had always been, right from when I was young. I was just somehow less complete when he wasn’t around. Even so, we didn’t bother communicating through phone calls or email when we were apart. It seemed pointless.
My boyfriend, however, was completely different story. I missed Tom desperately. I missed his smile, I missed his smell, and I missed his touch. I missed the way he held me in his vice-like embrace at night, and I missed the way his eyes twinkled when called me hotstuff. We spent hours on the phone with each other, sometimes saying nothing - just listening to the static of the connection between us. I looked forward to the good-morning text messages he sent me every morning at around 10 AM his time (which was 4 hours after I’d gotten up).
“So hotstuff, I’ve been thinking…” Tom said on a phone conversation about two weeks after my return.
“What’s up, Tom?” I was rushing off to school, but recognized that certain tone of his voice which meant he had something important to say.
“So, you don’t have to answer right away, but, well, I’ve lived in New York all my life, and, umm… I kinda miss you, and well, I have some money saved up, and thought maybe Chicago would be a nice change for a bit. I know we only met a month ago and it’s way too early for…I mean you don’t have to be responsible for me or…”
Two weeks later, Tom had moved into my apartment in Chicago.
It was a blessing to have Tom at my side. Not just because I missed him and loved him, but also because he took wonderful care of me. I had little time for anything except my schoolwork. He took care of the apartment, did the chores, made sure I was always fed, and sat up with me late at night when I was working. He found a job working at a coffee shop near campus, and eventually found work as a massage therapist.
Tom had a knack for befriending people, and was soon adored by all my classmates and friends. Our apartment became a popular hangout, where people dropped by to study or collaborate on projects, or just to socialize. Tom always made sure the three student staples: food, caffeine, and alcohol were always on hand.
As the months passed, I stayed connected with New York through Tom. He and Jen kept in constant touch with each other, and so I got to hear about what Dan was up to. Also, Tom talked to his mom at least once a week. She insisted on talking to me every time she called. I found this very endearing, especially considering my parents never called me.
One weekend, just before Thanksgiving, I took Tom up to Madison to meet my parents. My expectations of our reception were very low, so I wasn’t disappointed when Dad wasn’t home. Mom was very friendly, but still uncomfortable. Tom found Madison a very charming city, which, admittedly, it is, in a small, college-town sort of way. We left after a visit to the University of Wisconsin campus bookstore where we bought a Badgers’ t-shirt for Luke.
I was too busy with schoolwork in December to even think about the holidays. We got two invitations for Christmas… one from Tom’s mother, who wanted us to spend Christmas with ‘the whole family’ in Brooklyn. The other was from Jen, inviting us to spend Christmas in the Hamptons with her and Dan at her parents’ place. Tom would have loved either, but we couldn’t afford it, and besides, I had too much schoolwork to do. When I spoke to my mom, she seemed almost relieved that I would be too busy to come home to Madison for Christmas. I figured I’d save my parents the worry of having to deal with ‘my guest’.
So, Tom and I spent our very first Christmas together in Chicago. We got a small tree and invited some of our friends over for dinner, mostly the international students who, like us, couldn’t go home. We received a very nice gift-wrapped package from New York, with presents from “Jen and Dan” (in Jen’s handwriting). Two matching sweaters, chocolates, and gift certificates to several clothing stores in Chicago. Jen knew how much Tom loved shopping for clothing, and he was overjoyed. And, if Jen and Tom were happy, I suppose, so were Dan and I. Tom and I both laughed at the thought of Dan being dragged around by Jen to do Christmas shopping.
Winters in Chicago are cold and dreary. Given the cold weather and our general lack of funds, Tom and I spent most of our time in our apartment. On Sunday afternoons, my friends would stop by and we’d sit around and talk about school work or some interesting article in the WSJ or the Economist. Tom would sit back and listen, not the least bit intimidated or uneasy being around my group of loud, super-charged, and often obnoxious friends. In fact, he would invariably invite everyone to stay for dinner, and would make enough spaghetti (or something equally simple) for the whole gang.
Soon, this became a weekly ritual. Tom would cook on Sundays, and our friends would show up with wine or more food. We all loved him for this, as it gave us all a sense of family and belonging, smoothing the edges of what was a generally very competitive program. I was also touched at how he had so easily recreated one of his own family traditions in our home.
“So, hotstuff,” Tom began shyly, one Sunday night while we were cleaning up. “Hanging out with you and all your friends and stuff has got me thinking. I think I’m gonna go back to school when we’re back in New York. Take a few classes, see if I can pick up where I left off.”
I was thrilled. I threw my arms around him and told him I loved him, and that I’d support him every bit of the way. And I meant it.
Yep, that’s right. In case you missed it: I told Tom I loved him. Finally. Out loud. “I love you, Tom.” And it felt right. It felt perfect, in fact.
The thing about the “L” word, I quickly learned, is that once you start using it, you can’t stop. Nor do you ever want to. It took me all this time to say it, but after the first time, I couldn’t say it enough. I said it 20 times a day. In person, over the phone, through text messages, I even traced it out in my food when I could. And amazingly, he never got tired of hearing it.
The spring quarter signalled the onset of serious job-searching. Those of my classmates who hadn’t found jobs yet (myself included), all eagerly vied for the same positions with the top corporations that wooed us. I was firmly set on moving back to New York, and wanted to work in international finance, so was very focused in my job search.
Being as I was near the top of my graduating class (and, I must say, I interviewed well), I was more relaxed about the job search than most of my friends. So, as the weeks flew by and Tom and I attended celebratory dinners and parties as my classmates got placed with top firms in Silicon Valley, Europe and Asia, I just sat back. This worried Tom who was afraid I might not find a job in New York and that we would have to move elsewhere. He worried too much. We both knew wild horses couldn’t keep me away from New York.
I called Tom the moment I was made the job offer. It was mid-April, and I had landed a job as an analyst with an international securities firm in Manhattan. I’d gotten my dream job, and we’d be moving back home for sure. We were both delirious.
His eyes bulged when he saw how much I’d be making. “You can afford anything you want with that salary…” he said.
No, you silly man, WE can afford anything WE want.
The moment my coursework was completed, I felt exhausted. Elated, drained, delirious and emptied, all at the same time. I was so wired I couldn’t sleep. Tom suggested we take a short vacation to unwind.
A 3-day road trip through my home state was all it took to recharge my batteries. Wisconsin is beautiful in the late spring. Tom was amazed at the vast, green expanses of farmland that sped by as we drove to Milwaukee, and then further north to Green Bay. We drank beer all along the way, and yes, stopped to at every cheese place we saw. Tom insisted.
From Green Bay we drove west through Eau Claire to Menomonie, where we paid a visit to one of my favorite relatives, an elderly aunt who taught at the University of Wisconsin, Stout. She was a professor of Family Studies, and had taught there all here life, back from when they still called it ‘Home Economics’. She was overjoyed to receive us, and welcomed my ‘charming New York friend’ with open arms.
On the way home, we stopped in Madison for a day. We visited my parents, and I told them about my imminent graduation, and about the new job I’d accepted in New York. They seemed excited for me, and said they’d attend my convocation.
“Hotstuff?” Tom said as we were approaching Chicagi, on the last leg of our trip, “I think we should move to Wisconsin after a few years. I love it here. It’s so peaceful and beautiful.”
A trip back here in February will cure you of that notion, I chuckled to myself.
I was thrilled when I found out Dan and Jen were flying in from New York for my graduation ceremony. Tom had a lot to do with this. I wasn’t really expecting Dan, but between Tom and Jen, they made sure we were all together on the most important day of my life.
Mom and dad drove in from Madison the morning of the ceremony, and took us all out to lunch. Dad was genuinely happy for me, and was friendly towards Tom. It was my parents’ first time meeting Jen too, and they were both very impressed. Who wouldn’t be, I thought. She was beautiful, charming, and her eyes sparkled every time she looked at Dan. You could even go as far as to say that both Dan and I got the parental seal of approval in the choice of our mates.
Tom was by far the proudest man in the auditorium. He couldn’t sit still. He went around eagerly congratulating all my classmates and their spouses, taking pictures, and ensuring we had photographs with all of them.
I was overcome with a sense of pride as I stood in line, in my cap, gown and hood emblazoned with Northwestern’s colors. I recognized that moment in time as special landmark moment in my life - one that would stay with me forever. In the audience were Dan and Tom, the two men who loved me more than anything, who would continue to love me no matter what. Also in the audience were my father and my mother, whose approval had meant so much to me all these years, and in many ways still did.
And I had made them all proud of me. Me. The little guy from Madison, Wisconsin. I was at the top of the world. I had finally come into my own. Become a man. Of course, I would only find words for all this much later. All I could feel was my chest swelling with pride, joy and a sense of completeness, as they called my name
“Stuart James Ross, Master of Business Administration….”
As I was given my degree, amid the wild applause of all my crazy classmates and friends, I distinctly recognized the applause and shouts (and in Dan and Tom’s case, the frantic whistling) coming from where the five most important people in my life were seated.
It’s okay if you cry at your own graduation, right?
Dan and Jen stayed in Chicago for an extra two days. Jen and Tom talked and giggled and gossiped and shopped for the entire time, leaving my big bro and me mostly to ourselves.
On the afternoon before their flight back to New York, Dan handed me a set of keys.
“So, buddy, we landed an apartment in that that building I showed you. We’re moving in at the end of the month. You and me, and -” Dan motioned towards Tom and Jen, who were busy chattering away, oblivious to the world around them, “- anyone else who cares to join us.”
We both laughed, rolling our eyes.
A week later, Tom and I loaded my car with our possessions and set off for New York.
I am happy, I thought to myself, as the Chicago skyline receded behind us. Tom put his arm around me, and reached over to kiss me. I was in love with a man who loved me back. I was embarking on the career of my dreams. And I would be joining my big brother Dan for good. I had the world on a string, and the future looked brighter than ever.
If happiness is about the present, and if ever after is about how the future looks from where you’re standing, then I suppose this story has a fairy-tale ending. We lived happily ever after.
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-- Andrew J (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Yahoo IM: andrewbjo)
Copyright 2006 Andrew J (email@example.com) All Rights Reserved.