Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any people, real or fictional, is entirely a coincidence. In addition this story involves homosexual thoughts, feelings and actions. If this is not what you want to read, please visit another website. In addition if reading this story is illegal in your area you need to go to another website now. If you want to contact me my e-mail address is below.

Love From the Printing Press

By David Cross

Chapter 5

Derek had managed to get through his afternoon classes - linear algebra and chemistry - without incident. The particularly tricky session on how to program a computer to rapidly calculate determinants (since this was the first step in calculating eigenvalues) had occupied all his attention, and the following chemistry lesson on molecular orbitals was as yet simple, but portended more interesting twists later on. He had gone back to his dormitory room without expending a thought on anything except the next day's upcoming work.

The knock on Derek's door at about 2000 hours startled him. Nobody ever knocked on his door unless it was the rare visit by a teacher or the headmaster. In fact, he didn't think the headmaster had come by even once in the five years he'd been at the prep school. So he certainly wasn't expecting a guy his age and height standing there, as calm as you please.

After Randy's afternoon classes had finished at 1600, he went back to his room and activated the computer terminal that was standard in every student's dorm. What was not standard was his skill at maneuvering around the internal administrative network. He'd concealed his ability at that, and was doubly thankful he'd never told of it to anyone after he'd been caught messing about with the library's image retrieval system. The librarian and headmaster had deliberately used the most out-of-date technology when they had forced him to reprogram the image retrieval system and remove the changes he'd made. Backup tapes, jeez, he thought in distate. That's so ancient, it's a wonder anybody even knows about them!

Randy had to admit that forcing him to take much longer than usual to reprogram a computer had taught him a healthy respect for the rules, and he was at the stage where pulling pranks like that could start to get you into serious trouble. All the while he'd been thinking this over, his fingers had been tapping on a keyboard, especially designed to reduce finger strain and be virtually noiseless when typing. It could be more efficient than voice input, particularly during programming sessions.

By now, Randy had the school's student manifest pulled up, and if he'd wanted to, he could look up anyone's personal data. Age, date of entry, intake examination grades, home location, et cetera. He realized he didn't even know the guy's name, the one he was so interested in all of a sudden. His stomach started to get a sinking feeling at the time he'd wasted on this project when he realized he still had a chance. He instructed the computer to restrict the list to scholarship intakes, and bracketed the age range of thirteen to sixteen Adrelian years (which, if one converted to the old Earth standard, was roughly equivalent to the ages twelve to fifteen).

Pay dirt! Only two names showed up, and identity photos were part of the individual manifests. The second name, Derek Gunnarson, was the one belonging to the guy he'd stared at earlier that week. Home location, such and such a place on the continent of Auridex. Randy didn't know much about that continent but he vaguely recalled it being a fairly industrial area. Dormitory room assignment, number 301 in Dynex Hall.

There were two halls, each with six hundred rooms. He lived in the other hall, which was named Wexler Hall, on the top floor. The entry doors were almost never locked, since the whole school had an advanced intrusion-detection system, and in any case, it was unthinkable that anyone should attempt to trespass upon the grounds of one of the oldest, most prestigious preparatory academies on the planet. Getting across would be child's play.

Randy exited unobtrusively from his invasion of the administrative network, and he thanked, once again, his father's indulgence in hiring a special tutor to teach him everything he could possibly learn about computers. The tutor had been willing to teach Randy some of the more-or-less unorthodox tricks that had been called "hacking". The biggest weakness, Randy had learned, was overconfidence in the security of a computer network, and the computers connected to it. Yes, the school had its own system administrator who had the appropriate security training, but even the administrator had grown complacent in the face of what he thought was an impenetrable system.

Randy took a few moments to work up the nerve to leave his room, and then quietly moved across to the other dormitory hall. Luckily, few people were around and those who were paid him no attention. Even if someone had questioned him, he knew one or two people in Dynex, and could always make the excuse that he was planning to meet with them for academic help. So he made his way, unobserved, to room 301. He raised his hand to knock, and found it trembling a little.

Derek was flabbergasted. This guy - his name was Randy, he remembered - was standing outside his door. Why?

Randy got his oar in first. "Um, hey. Look, can I come in?" His voice at close quarters was somehow softer and less boisterous than in the dining hall, and it didn't sound all that harsh to Derek's ears. Derek nodded, and stepped aside, nervously.

Derek eyed Randy somewhat suspiciously, but dared not make a move that looked like it was violent, or even rude. He sat down carefully on his bed, and said, "May I ask why you've come here?"

Randy blinked, and then said, "Uh, well... look, I know this is gonna sound really, really stupid, but I couldn't help noticing you looked sick today, and... um, I wanted to make sure you're fine."

Derek's alarm bells were ringing in his head now. How had Randy found out where he was staying? He suddenly felt very naked and vulnerable, and he didn't like that feeling. He lashed out, and spoke far more harshly than he intended, indeed more harshly than anyone of Randy's status would have tolerated from someone far lower in economic class.

"You can see I'm fine. Now stop following me around and annoying me, and get out of my room and stay out. I don't care who you are, or who your parents are. You don't have the right to just walk up to me as though you owned me, or something!" Derek pointed at the door, and struggled to get control of his breathing. Randy's face turned red, and Derek suddenly wished he could take those words back. His head pounded as he visualized the horrible, long fall ahead of him. Expulsion from Vadil Prep. The shame of his parents as they would send him back to public school. Permanent denial of promotions into high-paying jobs. Maybe even prison if Randy claimed he'd been assaulted or threatened.

Derek suddenly felt the world whirling around him as his stomach clenched in fear, and his vision faded to blackness.

Randy hadn't realized Derek's voice could be strangely compelling. It had just the right timbre, not too deep like his father's nor too high like a young boy's. Mid-range, and pleasing. It had made him stumble over his words even more than he'd already been, and he realized how lame it sounded when he'd said he'd wanted to make sure Derek was fine. He had time to notice that Derek's eyes were a hazel color.

He hadn't been prepared for the verbal attack, and at first had reflexively gotten angry at Derek's insolence, and then it turned to embarrassment as he realized he'd practically stalked the guy. But before he could process this, or even think about whether to reprimand Derek or not, the boy had fainted and would have hit the floor but for Randy's instinctive lunge.

Derek's weight wasn't intolerable, and Randy was able to lay him out on the bed and assure himself that the guy wasn't in any danger. He was a bit shaken in the aftermath as what had just happened finally sunk in. Randy thought, I'd better leave a message or something, apologize I guess. He quickly tapped out a message on the computer, set to display until Derek cancelled it. It read:


I'm really sorry I just barged into your room. I shouldn't have done it. I won't do it again, and you'll never have to see me or talk to me again.

- Randy Anderson.

Randy left quietly, and was mentally kicking himself all the way back to Wexler Hall. Smart move, buster. What did you think he would do, fall at your feet and be eternally grateful? Hell, Derek never would have come over to my room just like that. I'd have kicked him out so hard his butt would still be red when they expelled him from here. He went into his room and just as the door closed, he stopped short, and realized why Derek had fainted.

The poor guy thought I was going to get rid of him after he talked to me like that, Randy realized. And although he wasn't required to, he felt like the world's biggest heel at that moment.

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