Alex Prescott rose from the uncomfortable cafeteria plastic chair and raised his hand. Once he knew his best friend had seen him, he dropped back down. The frown that appeared while he stared at what was supposedly food faded as the excitement of his first day in college resurfaced. He had been recruited to play college baseball, though he knew there would be a lot of competition for the limited number of spots on the team.
He grinned as Peter Anderson sat opposite. “Dude, isn’t this the best? College, at last!”
Peter narrowed his eyes at what was on his tray and shrugged. “I hope we can find somewhere else to eat, because I think this stuff will kill us before long.”
“Hey, lighten up. We’re going to have a great time, and it starts today! My roommate’s already told me about an open frat party tonight where there’ll be beer and sorority girls on tap. What could be better? We’re getting drunk and laid tonight!”
Alex’s enthusiasm didn’t make it across the table. He stared for a moment at Peter picking morosely at what were supposedly fresh vegetables. “Dude, what’s wrong?”
Peter sighed. “It sounds like you’ve got a good roommate. I haven’t been so lucky.”
“Why? Is he some sort of wimpy nerd with bad B.O.?”
Peter shook his head. “Nothing like that. He’s a generous, intelligent, and seriously funny guy. We got along great at first and then…”
“And then, what?”
Peter eye’s lost focus as he gazed into the distance. “Do you remember what we thought was the most useless subject we ever had in high school?”
“Sure, the Gay and Lesbian Studies unit. Reading all of those gay stories for that exam had to be the biggest waste of time ever. What’s that got to do with it?”
“It turns out it wasn’t so useless. My roommate’s gay.” Peter dropped his eyes to what was supposed to be his lunch and grimaced.
Alex was momentarily speechless. Recovering, he winced. “Oh, shit. That’s not good.”
“Tell me about it.” Peter stuck a fork into something on his plate and transferred it to his mouth. He shuddered but continued to chew.
“Okay, let’s not make this more than it really is, Peter. First of all, are you sure he’s gay, or do you just suspect it?”
“He told me he’s gay. He said he didn’t want there to be any misunderstandings.”
Alex narrowed his eyes in thought. “What sort of gay is he? Superstar athlete, straight-A student, master musician or awesome artist?”
Peter swallowed his food, gagging slightly, before replying. “All of the above, I think. He mentioned he’s on the swim team and is aiming for a spot at the next Olympics. He asked me if it’s all right if he practices his violin in the room a couple of times a week, and his class schedule shows him taking every advanced class available. I’m not sure about the artist part, but I did see a sketchbook that might contain drawings.”
“What about his parents? Is he out to them, and if so, have they accepted him or thrown him out? Are his parents rich or poor?”
Peter shook his head. “That’s the part that’s got me down the most. He’s got two parents that love him for who he is and don’t care that he’s gay. He indicated that his mother’s a doctor and his father runs his own business. You know what that means.”
Alex nodded. “Yeah. Multimillionaires almost certainly, and probably with their own private jet, yacht, and condos everywhere. Poor guy. Do you think he knows what’s going to happen?”
“I don’t think so. I definitely got the impression they didn’t have a Gay and Lesbian Studies unit at his high school. I don’t know whether to say anything or just let him be happy while he can.”
“What were the odds: one in four?”
“One in three chances that his parents will have a fatal accident while he’s in college. One in five for another family member, but he’s an only child. There’s a chance he’ll get through college without being orphaned, which is why I haven’t said anything, but it’s not something I’m comfortable keeping from him.” Peter pushed his plate away. “I can’t eat any more. Not that it’s really food, but this thing with Sam has made me lose my appetite.”
“Sam? That’s his name?” Alex looked at what was on his tray and did the same as his best friend. “I’ve lost my appetite, too.”
“Samuel Jackson Worthington, the Third. A nicer guy you’ll never meet.” Peter sighed. “I”m beginning to hate college, and this is only our first day.”
“I presume he’s good-looking?” Alex asked, more to fill in the conversation while he tried to process what he was being told.
Peter snorted. “He’s gay, so of course he’s good-looking. With a fifty-fifty chance of being bashed and a one in five chance of ending up in a coma, I just hope that he still has his looks by the end of college.”
“Er, Peter, those odds aren’t right. They’re for Sam or his partner, so it mightn’t be Sam who ends up in a coma. I don’t suppose he’s already got a boyfriend?”
“No, and you don’t have to say it. I already know that, as his roommate, I’m the number one candidate for that role.” Peter shook his head. “And I was so looking forward to dating lots of girls.”
“Hey, it might not come to that. You could end up as his straight best bud and someone else ends up as the boyfriend.” Alex paused as a thought popped into his mind. “And I might just know who it’ll be.”
Peter’s eyes widened. “Who?”
Alex leaned forward and lowered his voice. “Did I mention that my roommate is the third-string quarterback and that his name is Kyle?”
Peter grinned. “And we both know that someone with a name of Kyle or Tyler is almost certainly gay even if he doesn’t realize it.” He frowned. “I wonder what’s going to happen to the others that’ll make Kyle the star of the team?”
“I think I can guess. Who do you think will be the ones to bash Sam? They’ll get caught and kicked off the team, making Kyle the starting quarterback.” Alex winked. “When you know what to look for, it’s all obvious.”
Peter grimaced. “That means Sam’s going to get hurt, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
“Not necessarily, dude. Now that we’ve worked that out, we can make sure we keep an eye on everyone and jump in to stop them before it goes too far. They’ll still get kicked off the team, Kyle will become a star, and he and Sam will live happily ever after.”
“Okay, it’s a plan. Now we just need to introduce them and let true love take its course.” Peter looked up and smiled. “Right on cue, here comes Sam.”
Alex looked around and grinned. “And there’s Kyle.” He stood up to attract his roommate’s attention.
While they approached, Alex took the opportunity to check out Peter’s roommate. Well over six feet in height with raven-black hair and the broad shoulders that came with the swimmer’s build, Sam attracted a lot of attention as he made his way towards where Alex and Peter were sitting. The easy smile showed off his perfect white teeth, and as he removed his designer sunglasses, Alex caught a glimpse of Sam’s almost sky-blue eyes.
“Hi, Peter. Sorry I’m late, but I was helping a couple of girls move into their dorm. They were struggling with the boxes and so…” He shrugged and then smiled at Alex and stuck out his hand. “You must be Alex, Peter’s best friend. It’s nice to meet you.”
Alex took the proffered hand and grinned. “Pleased to meet you, too.” He looked past Sam. “Hi, Kyle.”
“Yo, Alex. Who’s the dudes?” Kyle’s lazy smile took in both Peter and Sam. He was shorter than Sam but much broader with a build that displayed the results of many long hours of pumping iron. His long, sandy-blond hair framed his tanned and well-formed face, though his nose showed signs of having being broken in the past.
“Kyle, this is my best friend, Peter, and his roommate, Sam. Sam, Peter, this is Kyle.”
Sam smiled. “Hi, Kyle. You look like you’ve been playing football for years. What position do you play?”
“I was my school’s star quarterback, but the competition here is much tougher. I’m hoping I’ll do more than warm the bench, but that’s up to Coach Kennedy.” Kyle gave Sam a quick once over. “You’re obviously a jock, too. Let me guess, a swimmer?”
Sam shrugged. “That’s one of the reasons I’m here, I was recruited for the swim team, and I hope I make varsity as a freshman. We’ll have to wait and see how I do, though.”
Kyle frowned. “I’d watch out if I were you. Some of the guys were telling me about the swim team.”
Sam raised an eyebrow. “Watch out for what?”
“They were telling me that some of them are fags. You don’t want to let them get too close to you; you never know what they’ll do.”
Sam’s expression hardened into a frown, and he crossed his arms. “I’m sure they won’t do anything, and there’s nothing wrong with being gay. I should know, since I’m gay, too.”
Kyle took a quick step back. “What? You keep your faggot hands away from me!”
Sam’s laugh was sardonic. “I wouldn’t touch you if you begged me. I’ve got better things to do with my time than to deal with bigots like you.”
Kyle narrowed his eyes. “That’s it, I’m out of here. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay out of my way, faggot.” Not waiting for a reply, he stormed off.
Sam glared at Kyle’s back for a couple of seconds and then sighed. The anger seemed to flow out of him, and he was calm, though unsmiling, when he turned back to Sam and Peter. “I’m sorry, Peter, but I need to go for a walk. I should’ve expected it, but it’s been a long time since I’ve encountered a homophobic idiot like that, and I need to unwind. Nice to have met you, Alex.” With a final wave, he headed in the opposite direction to that taken by Kyle.
Peter waited until Sam was out of sight before grinning. “Excellent! The two of them hit it off perfectly. True love at work.”
When Alex didn’t respond, Peter narrowed his eyes at his best friend, who was staring at their discarded meals. “What’s wrong?”
Alex shrugged. “We might have it wrong, dude. It’s possible that Kyle really is homophobic, and he might be the one doing the gay bashing.”
“No way! Kyle’s the future boyfriend. He has to be!”
Alex shook his head, not lifting his gaze from the table. “I don’t think so. There’s another possibility that I only realised when Sam arrived, and I think it’s much more likely. Kyle’s not the boyfriend; he’s the one who’s going to try to bash Sam’s partner, and I know who’s going to be the victim.”
“What? We’ve covered all the options — it has to be Kyle. Who else is there?”
Alex sighed and raised his head to meet Peter’s eyes. “I don’t think I ever told you that my middle name’s Tyler.”
Copyright Notice — Copyright © October 2013 by Graeme.
The author copyrights this story and retains all rights. This work may not be duplicated in any form — physical, electronic, audio, or otherwise — without the author's expressed permission. All applicable copyright laws apply.
Disclaimer: All individuals depicted are fictional, and any resemblance to real persons is purely coincidental.
I would like to thank C James and MikeL for the advice they gave on early versions and rec for editing this story for me.