Just One Starfish

by Grasshopper

Sunrise Gold
Brian
Chapter 2

The campus was huge. Brian Jenkins had walked from his dorm north to the University M edical Center, poked around in some of the buildings, then crossed back over Speedway Boulevard and found the Student Union and the campus bookstore. Looking down the mall that stretched west, the length of the campus with adobe Native American buildings lining the edges, he could see the Tucson Mountains in the distance and the peak of snow covered Mt. Wasson. Damn! He wasn't in Kansas anymore!

His feelings were so mixed: excited, nervous, terrified and deliriously happy all at the same time. This wasn't like when he went out to San Diego to stay with Steve and Whit. This was him, on his own, making his own decisions, finding his own way. This was the beginning of what he had been dreaming about for so many years.

Brian could see the snowcapped mountains way off over the rooftop of The Old Main, the oldest building on campus. He envisioned snow and maybe holding someone's wool-gloved hand. He knew he needed to work on his sloppy romantic side, but for right now, it was hotter than all hell and sweat was running down his back in torrents, soaking the new University of Arizona t-shirt he'd just bought at the bookstore. He pulled his old t-shirt out of his backpack and wiped the sweat off his face.

As he stood on the curb waiting for the 'Walk' sign to blink on, he could feel the enthusiasm radiating from the kids all around him. Pretty girls. Pretty boys!! He tried not to stare and ended up blinking a lot. He didn't know a soul, no one knew him, and just the thought of what was ahead of him made him bounce excitedly.

The light changed and Brian was carried into the street by the happy crowd. Glancing to his right, he saw the front bumper of a big black Jeep Wrangler. "Whoa," Brian grinned, "There's sex on wheels." Looking for the driver, he felt his crotch tighten. Hot Damn! Black Wrangler, black sunglasses, wild black curls. 'Just let me die now!' He groaned. That was what he wanted, a guy that looked just like that right there!! Fat chance!!

The guy had his left arm draped across the window ledge, his taut muscled arm, olive skin glistening with sweat from the late afternoon sun of this hot desert day. Just as Brian thought it couldn't get any better, the gorgeous guy looked right at him, tipped up his shades, and Brian looked right into chocolate eyes. Without thinking, he grinned and watched as "Black Wrangler" nodded to him.

Practically bouncing to the far side of the street, Brian looked back once and watched the Jeep rumble away down the street. Sighing, Brian knew that guy was heading straight back to the arms of his gorgeous girl friend. No one could look that good and have any of the doubts or fears Brian lived with every day. Oh well, Brian could dream .......

Yesterday, Brian's parents had spent the day with him, settling him in, his mother fussing over the dorm room. He wanted them gone, and yet, as he stood waving goodbye, he felt like he had when he was six waving goodbye from the sidewalk of Kindergarten as his mother drove away and left him to the fates. He was way ready to try this new life, but a tiny bit of him needed people who loved him to hang around a little longer. It was the beginning of what he had been dreaming about for so many years.

His roommate wasn't here yet and he had time to get used to the little room and the noise, the laughter and just being totally alone for the first time in his life. Not lonely, he was an only child after all, just alone; no one to turn to with questions, no one to run to in confusion. He didn't know anyone and he could be anything he wanted to be. Maybe here, he could be gay out loud for the first time in his life. All his friends in the reading club in high school had warned him to be careful, to stay safe, made sure he understood that he wasn't going to college in San Francisco, but in Tucson, Arizona, and it might not be the most accepting place. Brian had always been cautious, so he'd just be himself and see what happened.

His dad said that if he kept his grades up and he did well, next year they'd talk about getting him some used wheels, but, for now, he had his feet and a pocketful of change for the bus. He sat down on the ledge that ran alongside his residence to watch all the parents unloading their kids' stuff and saw the expectation in each kid's face. This was the beginning for them all. It would be cool to know how they all felt about leaving home for the first time....... their wishes and their dreams. He wondered how many of them had come here hoping to find what they had been denied in high school.

It could have been popularity, or friends. It could have been first love or a feeling of belonging. Whatever brought them here, to the University of Arizona, he hoped they'd find it. He knew what he wanted, what he had left home for. He didn't have a clue how to get it, but he was sure gonna try. Here, he would find out exactly who he was and how he fit into the world. He just didn't know where to start.

Laughing to himself, Brian turned to walk up the steps and into the cool hallways of Larson Hall. His pod room was fitted out with bunk beds and a long work space along the far wall with computer hookups at the two work areas. His small room was connected to another two-person room that shared a bathroom, making a curved pod-like section. There were three other units like this in his section. Brian and his dad had chosen this smaller residence so that Brian could make this transition easily. Brian hoped, that out of the 15 other guys in his section of Larson Hall, he'd make some new friends.

His roommate was a guy named Chester Farling from Roswell, New Mexico. Brian had e-mailed him to say "Hey" and Chester had replied. He seemed a nice enough guy, a little weird, but then who wasn't. Brian had laughed at Chester's gmail user name: O2BAlien. He just hoped the room wouldn't turn into the set from Battlestar Galactica.

Brian had unpacked, but he'd wait til Chester got there and they'd flip or something for the top bunk. He'd set up his computer and e-mailed Steve and Whit to say he was there. When the door opened, he was sitting in his desk chair with his long legs propped up on the work area. He watched as two extremely odd-looking people practically fell into the small room carrying what appeared to be everything that could have been squished into the truck of their car; boxes and boxes, big WalMart bags and brown grocery bags.

"You must be Brian," an extremely short, yet extremely wide woman said, her bright red hair woven above her head like some kind of coiled boa constrictor, pierced through by long, what looked like, knitting needles. It looked totally like she had killed the giant snake while calmly knitting.

"Huh? Uh, yeah, me....Brian," he replied once again falling into his old ape language.

An unusually tall man, at least a foot and a half taller than the lady, peered around the pile of boxes in his long skinny arms, "Well, me George Farling."

Brian jumped up to help, all the while looking for Chester. "You must be Chester's parents?" he spoke in a complete sentence. "Here, let me get those."

As he reached out his arms to take the pile of boxes, Chester Farling entered the room. "Hey, you must be Chester," Brian said stupidly, what with Chester having a sticker on his shirt that read "Hello...My name is Chester".

"Yep, Chester is my name," the boy agreed. He was a combination of his gene pool; flaming red hair worn in a long ponytail, tall and skinny, he was the most eclectic guy Brian had ever seen. He was made up of so many different parts that it was hard to tell where to start. The basic theme seemed to be aliens. The faded t-shirt read "Beam Me Up, Mulder" and the tattoo on his left arm was a black X inside a red circle and the one on his right read 'Deny Everything'. There was another tattoo half hidden under the front of his t-shirt. Brian didn't see until later when Chester actually took him on a tour of his alien tattoos and there was some kind of lightning bolt shooting up Chester's neck and into the fire-red hair.

Mr. and Mrs. Farling took the new roommates out to dinner at one of the local Tex-Mex restaurants. It was really funny; they turned out to be great people, adored their son and needed no excuse to love Brian too. Brian felt at home with his newly adopted family.

After they drove away, with Mama Farling crying her eyes out, Chester and Brian sat in their dorm room and began the process of getting to know each other. Brian never had a brother and had never shared a room before. It was kinda weird. He wasn't sure what the rules were.

Chester unpacked boxes as they talked. One whole box turned out to be every X-Files episode on its own separate CD. Brian saw that he had made very meticulous color-coded labels for each one.

"The blue ones are stand-alones and the red ones are conspiracy clues," Chester explained.

Brian grinned, "You like the X-Files, huh Chester?"

"The answer to every question is in here," he said reverently. "Mulder is God."

"Well," Brian laughed, "That answers the question of having one of those horrid religious talks late at night about whether God exists." He does, and his name is Fox Mulder." Brian was beginning to really like ole Chester.

"You checked out the women yet?"

"Huh? Women?" Brian asked.

"You know," Chester said, cocking one eyebrow, "The deeelicious babes."

Brian blinked, of course Chester meant girls. How stupid. "Uh, nah......No, to the girls. I've only been here since yesterday."

"Well, you being a studly guy, I'm totally ready for all your castoffs, right, v roomie buddy?"

"I.......I'm......," the words kinda stuck in Brian's throat. He wanted to say it, but he didn't want to alienate Chester right off the bat.

"Oh," Chester snorted, "You ride the other bus?"

"Huh?"

"Cool by me. Leaves more ladies for me."

Brian sat stunned. So, that's what he did. He rode the other bus. He felt a giggle rise in his throat. Chester hadn't run screaming from the room or hit him in the face. Chester didn't even seem to think it was a big deal. Taking a deep breath, Brian said, "I'm gay."

Chester gave him a look, "I just said that, man. Who gives a shit as long as you don't sleep-crawl your horny self into my bunk at night."

And so, Brian Perkins was out to his first stranger. It was oddly anti-climactic, but, damn it felt good.

Brian helped Chester hang several alien aircraft models with monofilament line from the ceiling and they rock/paper/scissored for the bottom bunk. Chester's paper won out over Brian's rock, so Brian climbed up the narrow wood ladder and plopped onto his new bed. Hanging his head over the side, he asked," Why did you pick this school, Chester?"

"You kidding me? The Kitt Peak National Observatory, it's right over there in the Baboquivari Mountains," he answered, pointing somewhere over his right shoulder. "I'm gonna be the man who finally proves there's life out there. I'm gonna make Mulder proud of me."

"I wonder who's gonna be in the other room with us?" Brian thought aloud, wandering over to peer in the empty room.

"Oh, my dad called the school about it and its some Indian guy, Alan something. He's got the room all to himself."

"Really? Cool. Maybe he'll be a nice guy," Brian smiled.

Several of the new guys were settling into their rooms and wandering the halls. Brian propped their door open and soon had some boys sitting around introducing themselves.

Jeffrey Valenzuela lived on the Tohono O'odham National Reservation just west of Tucson. He could have driven to class every day, but he wanted to make new friends and his scholarship provided for on-campus housing. Jeffrey was a friendly boy with thick black hair cut short, slim, with long legs and a bright smile that glowed against his mahogany-shaded skin. He was here to learn all he could about water resources engineering so he could help his people live more productive lives in the desert. Brian liked him right away.

Sitting with his head propped against the lower bunk, a cute redheaded boy looked through Chester's latest copy of 'Alien Inquirer'. "My turn, I guess," he said," I'm Will Lenquist. I'm from Chandler, Arizona. I'm a total sk8r freak and I'm Charlie's roommate," he said, poking another kid with his sneaker.

"I'm Charlie Gilbert, from Phoenix, Arizona," the boy laughed, rubbing his leg. Charlie was a tall, graceful, African American boy with a quick smile and twinkling eyes. Charlie announced that he was going to major in Art and Dance. There was a small awkward moment until Chester snorted, "Well, somebody's gotta be able to dance around here. I sure as hell can't." Brian pictured Chester, arms held high, shakin' his groove thing and almost giggled.

Then, out of nowhere, "You queer?" a muscular swarthy-skinned boy blurted out.

Charlie raised one eyebrow. "And that would be a problem for you?"

"Yeah, I don't wanna live with no fuckin' homos."

The silence in the room was thick enough to cut with a knife. Brian could feel his own fear choking him. Shit, not now. Everything was going so good.

Charlie frowned. "I was going to answer your oh-so-subtle question, but I don't think I will right now. Let's just say that I'm fine with anything anyone is. Prejudice doesn't fit well in my idea of happy."

"Well, keep the fuck away from me," the boy muttered and stalked away. The boys read a tattoo across the back of his neck that said 'Juarez' in fancy two inch high lettering.

"Oh, I definitely will keep the fuck away from you. The fuck doesn't need to be anywhere near your sorry ass," Charlie snipped.

"Charlie," Will snorted, "That was so intense. Who the fuck was that and why poke him with a stick? He might be dangerous."

"What? And spoil his rage against the machine?" Charlie sighed. "I'm not going to let some idiot bother me."

"His name is Rick Juarez. He's my new roommate. He's from Austin, Texas," Jeffrey said quietly. "He's already complained to the residence leader about having to room with me."

"You? Why you? Are you gay?" Chester asked, the word "too" unspoken.

Brian gave him a look.

"No, it's not that. I'm, well obviously, I'm Native American. I belong to the Tohono O'odham Nation. He apparently has a thing against anyone who isn't just like him."

"Aw shit, Jeff," Brian said softly, "That so sucks."

"Yeah, well, they're moving him into a room by himself tomorrow. I just have to get through tonight," Jeff sighed.

"No you don't. Stay in here with us. You don't have to listen to anything that guy has to say and believe me, he's all by himself in the crap coming out of his mouth, right guys?"

Chester, Will and Charlie all agreed loudly.

"Let's go out and grab some pizza."
"This is gonna be an interesting year."
"What a dick."

Listening to his new friends as they walked out the door ready to search for food, Brian shook his head sadly. He had wanted everything to be perfect. He knew how impossible that was really, but Rick's ugly words just reminded him that he had to be cautious. He wanted so badly to climb up on the roof and yell that he was gay and proud of it, but he couldn't. Not yet. He needed friends more than he needed to share his secrets. This would have to be a wait-and-see game for right now. He wouldn't lie, but he wouldn't wear a rainbow pin on his shirt just yet either.

They walked across to the Student Union and found Mickey D's, Panda Express, Papa John's and Chick-fil-A. They spread out to grab what they wanted, and then the four boys plopped down at a table off to the side of the court to watch people go by.

"Hey, Jeff," Chester asked, "Can you run that by me again ..... the What Nation? Aren't you an Indian?"

Jeff looked at Chester for a second, considering if he was being rude and decided not. Smiling, he explained, "Our people were named The Papago by the Spanish Conquistadores. Papago means 'tepary-bean eater'. We did not choose the name; we did not want it. It has now been officially changed to The Tohono O'odham Nation. It means the 'People of the Desert'."

"Extremely cool," Chester smiled.

"Oh, and Chester," Jeff said softly, "I really prefer Native American to Indian if that's okay."

"Again, absolutely cool."

Brian laughed, "Yeah, Chester, it's kinda like calling you a Mulderian X-Filean as opposed to a Freakin' Extraterrestrial NutJob."

"Point taken," Chester grinned, "Though I answer to both."

The next morning was Orientation and the boys all had to be at the Center by 7:00. "Shit, guys, it's after 2:00," Will yawned. They had closed the Student Union and talked way into the morning. "Night, guys. See you in about five hours.

By 2:10, the five new friends fell asleep as soon as their heads hit their pillows. Chester and Brian made Jeff comfortable on the floor with extra blankets. As Brian climbed the ladder to his bunk, he smiled tiredly. "It's looking mighty promising. I think I'm gonna like it here." He couldn't be his true self yet, but maybe one day soon he could tell them all. Maybe, like Chester, they wouldn't care. It was weird how Jeff kinda had the same kind of feelings that he did about being different. Brian hadn't really considered how other people handled their emotions when it came to their differences. He had a lot to learn and this was just the place to start. He couldn't wait to call Steve and Whit to tell them about the guys.


Brian fought off the swarm of rainbow-colored bees as they tried to fly up his nose to get to the honey he'd stored in his head for sandwiches to take to church. Arg! Ack! He slapped at the bees as they hummed a chorus of "So you've had a bad day" as they began to enter his ears. He felt a heavy Whap! and woke to find Chester's pillow across his face, the alarm clock buzzing madly on the floor by the bunk beds. "Kill that thing, Bri," Chester groaned.

It was 6:30 and time to move. "Wait til we grab some clean clothes and we'll go to your room," Brian told Jeff. "Hopefully Rick, the shithead, will be gone."

...>7:00-7:50 Check-in, ID photos, Break for breakfast
8:00-9:00 Welcome Speeches
9:00-9:50 Meet with Team Counselors
10:00-11:30 Math/Basic English Placement Tests
12:00-12:50 Lunch
1:15-2:45 Major Meetings
3:00-5:00 Team Meetings
5:00-7:00 Orientation Dinner

"Save me, Brian," Charlie moaned, "I can't take much more of this." He caught Brian's arm as they passed on the way to their meetings with team leaders. "All this grinning at strangers. I'm gonna need me some serious down time tonight, but I have seen some mighty fine abs and ass, I do say."

Brian laughed. He'd met more people this morning than he had in his whole life and he couldn't remember a single name. He'd seen a group of students gathered under a rainbow flag at a table set up in the orientation meeting. The banner read, "UAPride" and he was tempted to just walk over and introduce himself. Then Chester grabbed his arm and dragged him to the announcement board to read the flyers about parties this week for freshmen. He lost the moment, but looked back over his shoulder to see several friendly-looking girls and a few guys talking under the banner.

At 1:00, the guys all split up to go to their different Major Meetings:

Jeffrey - Agriculture/Water Resources Engineering
Charlie - Fine Arts/Dance
Chester - Science/Astronomy
Will - Pre-Law
Brian - Journalism

Chester walked along with Brian towards their assigned buildings. They saw Rick Juarez walking alone down the sidewalk ahead of them. "Wonder what he's majoring in...Pre-Asshole?" , Chester snarked.

"I think he's got the 'Pre' down already," Brian sighed. "Jerk!"

By the time the dinner was over, the boys were exhausted in that bored way where until something fun happens, you just want to go to sleep. They trudged wearily back to their dorm and when Brian and Chester opened their door, they found that their other roomie had arrived.

The light was on in the other bunk room and they could hear soft music. Brian walked over to the door and tapped. The door opened and Brian looked into a pair of gleaming obsidian eyes. Stepping back, he stared at a slender bronze-skinned boy, with charcoal hair thick as a horse's tail tied back by a strip of leather. He was the most beautiful boy Brian had ever seen. And he was gonna be right here. Brian groaned.

"Hey," the stranger said shyly.

"Hey, I'm, uh,....... Brian." There he went again, "And this is Chester." Chester stuck out his hand.

"Well, okay. I'm Alan, Alan Lapahie. I was late getting here. I hope I didn't miss anything really important."

"Nah, just the usual dumb crap like IDs and meeting a bunch of people you'll never talk to again," Chester laughed. "The good stuff starts in about 30 minutes."

"30 minutes?" Alan questioned.

"Yeah, there's a party tonight ... girls and food and girls and music and...."

Brian laughed, "Can you tell Chester's psyched about the uh... music? You wanna go with us?"

"Sure, it'll be good to get out and check out the music," Alan grinned.

While he finished putting his stuff away, Alan told them that he was from a tiny whistlestop town in northern New Mexico called Drifter. He had worked as a high school helper for the local veterinarian and had gotten into the university on a scholarship with Doc McBride's help.

"I'm hoping to graduate with a teaching degree and go back to Shiprock to teach at the Tse' Bit"Ai Middle School."

"Why that school?" Brian asked. He was fascinated by the quiet spoken boy with the beautiful eyes.

Alan smiled, "Tse' Bit A'i is the Dine' name for the big rock formation outside of Shiprock. That means 'Rock with Wings' in Navajo. The school is named for the pinnacle."

"So, where did the name Shiprock come from?" Chester asked.

Alan smiled and replied, "Anglos named it that for some reason."

"Oops," Brian laughed. "Okay, one more question, then we'll quit asking for a while.... maybe." He was full of questions for his new friend.

"It's okay, really. I have questions too," Alan nodded. "What?"

"If you're Navajo, then what is, what was that word you said ... Dine'?"

"Ah, okay. We are Navajo to the world. In our language, we are the Dine', 'the people'. Many of our nation prefer this name."

Chester rolled his neck and let out a puff of air, "Lordy, lordy, I thought we Anglos had rules and problems. Well, whatever you call yourself, Alan, you're cool and we gotta get a move on or we'll miss all the girls." He pushed himself up off the floor and went to pull on a clean shirt.

Brian, for the second time in two days, was hit by the feeling that there were people in the world who had problems kind of like his; problems of identity and belonging. He hoped he could handle his as well as Jeffrey and Alan did.

"Well, it's good to have you here, Alan. I would love to hear lots more about you and where you live."

Alan gave him a friendly smile. "Thanks, Brian. That means a lot."

Rick, his name now was officially ScuzzSuck, had moved out and Jeffrey was going to get a new, more compatible roommate in a day or two. The guys banged on Jeff's door and they all clambered down the steps on their way to the Student Union.

What a group they made! Charlie, with his hair shaved close to his scalp, his tight red tanktop glowing against rich coffee skin; Will, strawberry hair cut in a sk8r slide, baggies, I-Paths and a Danny Way t-shirt; Brian, his brown hair flopping in his eyes, feeling good, wearing the t-shirt with the running cheetah Steve bought him at the San Diego Zoo; Jeff, his cropped black hair and bright blue t-shirt showing off his shining dark eyes; Chester, long bright red ponytail, yet another X-Files t-shirt, standing head and shoulders above the rest; and Alan, the newest member of the gang, with his long black hair and his chiseled features. Nothing was going to get in their way ! Six boys from way different backgrounds, here for very different reasons, but for right now, they were best of friends and had each other's backs.

The Student Union was lit up and music was churning out the open doors. Brian felt just like he did when he was in high school and went to the dances. There wasn't anyone he could dance with, so he danced with girl friends. He looked longingly around, but didn't see anything except the usual boy/girl activity. Of course he wouldn't. He wondered how many gay kids were standing here wishing the same thing he was. Steve had told him that in a room of one hundred people, at least ten were gay. Well, here stood one...where were the other nine? Well, he did need to count Charlie, but there were no sparks between them, so there were eight guys standing in this room. And he couldn't forget what Whit told him about all the "straight" guys who could never admit they had feelings for other guys. Damn, it was confusing.

They mingled and chatted and laughed and found lots of nice people, a few jerks and a couple of assholes. Same as anywhere.

Chester was trying to score, but something about the way he looked seemed to be putting the girls off. It could have been the t-shirt that read 'Deceive ~ Inveigle ~ Obtuscate'' or it could have been that he stood 6'4 towering over most of the crowd. "Man, Bri, I'm just not feelin' the love tonight. How about you?"

Brian laughed, "Nope, not feelin' it here either. Wanna head on back to the room? We've got more orientation tomorrow."

Checking in with Will, Jeff and Charlie, they grabbed Alan and headed back. Walking along the road, the traffic was light and the music from the dance grew fainter.

"Likin' it so far?" Chester asked Alan.

"Yeah, so far, so good." Then, he said quietly, "I was worried about my roommates, who they'd be and how they'd react to me."

"And?" Brian asked, hoping he and Chester had been what Alan wanted.

"I couldn't ask for better," Alan said shyly. "Thanks, guys."

"Why would you worry about us?"

Alan sighed, "Well, I'm proud of my heritage, but some people just seem to get off on making comments and slurs, so I was a little nervous to come away from home."

"What made you decide?"

"An older friend of mine, his name is Cody. He told me that people can't hurt what's inside me; that I should always be proud of who I am and where I come from."

Brian remembered those very words coming from Steve and Whit and from his dad. It looked like he and Alan had a lot in common. Brian just wondered if Alan would accept him as easily as he was growing to like Alan.

The campus bookstore was still open, but the parking lot was nearly empty. They crossed through, shortcutting toward their dorm. One of the five cars parked under the lights was a big black Jeep Wrangler. Brian thought immediately of the God-like being he had seen yesterday. Only in some alternate universe would that guy be one of the other nine in the room.

Brian stared at the Jeep and saw a dark shape lying across the front seat. When they got closer and passed by the car, he saw that the shape was a big black dog. Of course he'd have a big black dog. Guys like this always have big mean black dogs that only they can control. It was probably named Spike or Killer. If you touched the Jeep, he'd probably eat your face.

"Guys, let's go in the bookstore and get, uh... some, uh..."

"Books?" Chester snorted. "You ready to start studying already, Bri?"

"No," he spluttered, feeling stupid. He just wanted to see if what he remembered was as good as he remembered it. "I was in there yesterday. They have chips and stuff. I'm hungry."

Trooping in, the door alarm rang as the boys entered. The cashier looked up and then went back to reading some huge textbook. Pretending to browse the candy and snack aisle, Brian peered around and over the displays. There! Over by the magazines. He'd recognize those black curls anywhere! The guy was thumbing through some kind of outdoor magazine; Brian could see trees on the cover.

The guy turned and started toward the register, magazine in hand and glanced over at Brian. The shades were gone and Brian got a full look at those gorgeous chocolate eyes. Taller than Brian by at least half a foot, Black Wrangler walked across the floor like some kind of jungle cat, his black tank top tight, his dark green cargo shorts making his olive skin glow, his black hiking boots completing the picture. When their eyes connected, Brian felt his face flush and watched as Black Wrangler raised one eyebrow.

And then he was gone. Brian heard the sound of the big Jeep's engine and watched the tail lights as they left the parking lot. Letting out a huge sigh, he realized he hadn't been breathing the entire time and he was stranded behind the chip packages with a raging hardon. It had felt like hours, but only a few minutes had gone by. Grabbing a huge bag of Doritos, he carried them in front of him over to the magazine rack where he pulled another copy of Southwest Hiker World off the shelf. Of course! Of course that guy would hike. He probably ran marathons and did white water rafting and surfing off Hawaii and the Great Barrier Reef. He had probably bungee jumped off bridges and hand glided over waterfalls ..... Brian was on a roll. Damn! He prolly did rock climbing and all that other macho stuff Brian had never done in his life.

And the look he had given Brian. What was that? 'He probably didn't even see me,' Brian thought. 'Why would he see someone like me?' Plus, and this was the BIG plus...... that guy can't be gay. Guys like that are never gay. No way! 'Get your sights back down to Earth, Brian, you idiot,' he sighed.

Back at the dorm, they sat around and talked for a while, then called it a night. Tomorrow was another long day for class schedules, conferences with counselors until lunch. Will and Charlie poked their heads in to say good night and around 2:00, they called it quits.

Brian hadn't asked Alan why he had the room to himself, but he could pretty much figure it out. He hoped they'd all get along and tomorrow would be just as great as today.

He crawled up the ladder and fell into his bunk. He shoved the magazine into the net holder on the wall beside him and settled down. As soon as he closed his eyes, he saw bright chocolate ones. He ran his memory down the length of that beautiful guy, touching here, there, as his eyes slid further and further down. In his fantasy, the tank top came off. He pictured Black Wrangler climbing a sheer rock ledge in just those shorts and boots, his body gleaming with sweat until he reached the top. There, he lifted a bottle of cold water and, his head back, he chugged some and then poured the rest down his chest and shoulders.

Agh! He hadn't even put any socks up here in case. Brian pulled off his t-shirt and tried not to make any noise. His hand went into his boxers and the image of the sweating god made his whole body ache. He felt the pressure build and then he came hard. His breath, just raw gasps, he hoped everyone was asleep.

Silence .... Ticking of that blasted alarm clock, then .....a cough. "I could pretend I didn't hear that, but well, hell, Bri," Chester groaned.

"Oh God, I'm ... I'm sorry," Brian stuttered.

"Don't be, man. Just try to let me go to sleep before the earthquake next time," Chester chuckled. "You must have seen something powerful good tonight."

"Yeah," Brian sighed, "Powerful good."

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