Just One Starfish

by Grasshopper

Sunrise Gold
Chapter 4

Friday finally came and all the guys were so looking forward to the weekend. Classes started on Monday and their lives would speed up, filled with books and papers and quizzes and exams plus all the good stuff that came with going to college.

Will had his skateboard in his hand when he tapped on the open door. "Hey, guys. I'm going to find the closest loops park and ride for awhile. Anyone wanna come?"

"I still gotta go get my books," Chester answered.

"Alan and I are gonna walk around campus, getting familiar with everything," Brian said. "Next time though, cause I wanna watch you ride."

"Sure, we still on for that dance club tonight?"

"Yeah, it's Friday and they open it for students eighteen and over with IDs. I'm gonna score me a true babe tonight," Chester grinned.

Charlie stuck his head in the door. "Want some lessons before you try to score with the dancing, Chester?"

"Nah, I just kinda shimmy around and raise my arms above my head and act like I'm having a seizure. Works every time."

"Well, if nothing else, maybe a cute girl will try to give you mouth-to-mouth," Will chuckled. "See you guys later."

Chester took off toward the bookstore and Brian and Alan headed across campus to get familiar with all the different buildings. Larson Hall was in the southern part of the campus and most of the buildings were to the northwest. The campus was begin to really fill up with kids, some in bunches, some in twos and some walking alone looking a little lost.

The hot Tucson air was full of the scent of juniper. "This is way different from Kansas," Brian said as he wiped sweat off his forehead. The air is drier but you sure do feel the heat. When I left home, my friends all laughed that I wasn't gonna be in Kansas anymore and that's totally true. Nothing looks the same."

"You had lots of friends back in Kansas?"

"A few good friends in the club I was in, lots of people that I knew and kinda liked, but you know, I never had a best friend. I always wondered what that would be like."

"You have a girl?"

"No," Brian smiled.

"Me either," Alan replied. "There was this one girl, Delores Willink. She was so cute and way beyond me, but I always dreamed about her."

"Maybe when you go back, she'll look at you differently. You'll be a teacher."

"Maybe," Alan sighed. "You have a girl you dreamed about?"

Here it was. He could say what he always said and breathe a sigh of relief, but damn! It was time to grow up. He was who he was and if Alan was gonna be his friend, Alan needed to know the truth.

"No," Brian said softly, "But there was boy I really liked."

Alan stopped walking. "Boy?"

"Yeah," Brian began to talk, "His name is Gary Tremont and we liked all the same stuff, videos, music, books." He stopped and hung his head. "I just blew it, didn't I?" He could almost hear Alan thinking.

Alan smiled, "Not with me you didn't. I know two men where I come from who are like you. They're the best people I've ever met. Doc McBride and Cody have taught me to hold my head up and have pride. You'd love them. I'm not Two-Spirit, but it doesn't change me being your friend at all."

"Two-Spirit?" Brian repeated, "What's that?"

"In my culture, people who have both man and woman spiritual qualities are called Two-Spirits. They used to be thought of as a third gender, revered to be counselors, storytellers and healers. There was no homophobia then. That came through Western education and religion. The taboo has remained. Today, we are taught to not like ourselves because we are not white. To be a Two-Spirit on top of that is a powerful weight to carry."

"So, I'm a Two-Spirit," Brian murmured. "I sure like that better than some of the other names." He looked at Alan out of the corner of his eye. "You okay with it?"

"Of course I am. You did not back away from me. I do not back away from you. Friends!" He stuck out his hand and Brian took hold of it in a warm squeeze. "We will find you someone worthy. How about that cute guy over there with the shaved head? Or that one with the big belly? Oh, wait, this guy walking towards us with the orange shorts, he is perfect."

Brian punched Alan playfully. "Okay, you can stop any time now or else I'm gonna call Delores Whatshername and say you have a huge crush on her."

Laughing, the boys continued on their walk ending up on the steps of The Old Main, the oldest building on campus. From there, they could see all the way down the mall. Grabbing bottles of water from the machine on the porch, they settled down on the top step to just feel being in a new place with the whole world in front of them.

Brian had to admit that he had wished Alan was gay, but he'd take friendship gladly from this nice guy.

Chester was lying in his bunk reading a Farscape fan magazine when Brian and Alan got back. "Have a good time? Jesus, you're gross and smelly."

"We ended up playing soccer with some guys we met," Brian laughed. "You take the shower, Alan. I'll hang here with Chester and stink up the room."

"We gonna grab dinner and then head for that dance place?"

"That's the plan."

When Brian heard the shower, he sat down on the floor by Chester's bunk. "Ches, I told Alan."

"Told him what?" Chester asked absently, turning the page.

"You know, about me being gay."


"He doesn't hate me."

Chester tossed the magazine to the floor. "Jesus H. Christ, Bri. It's time to get over yourself. You don't need to tell every person you meet so you can get a gold star or they can hit you in the face. If someone needs to know, tell them, but just make friends. What you do with a girl or a guy is your own business and don't let anybody make you think different. I don't give a shit and now Alan doesn't either. Only dumbfucks like that Rick character will and his gene pool ran dry quite a few generations back. You can't please everybody."

Brian sat still for a minute, then began to laugh. "I think that's the most I've heard you say on a topic other than aliens since I've known you."

"Well, just stick a cork in it, Bri. I'd be more interested if you said you were a human/alien hybrid. Now that would really be something!!"

They all cleaned up pretty good. Each boy had his own style, his own sense of worth. Each had been alienated in high school for one or another reason: being a Native American, being Black, being shy, being weird, being a dancer, being a sk8r, just being. Now was the time to make it all different. Not change who they were because who they were was fine, but changing the way they let the world see them. You can only hide for so long and then, whatever closet you've hidden in to keep from being hurt, whatever attitude you've hidden behind to keep from being hurt, they had the power to slam that door shut behind them. To grow out of the insecurities and become the people they had dreamed of being. To take the good kid each of them was and make it even better.

The boys decided to eat in the cafeteria because Alan and Jeff were both on food and board scholarships and they couldn't eat at the fast food places every night. "I better start using up the credit Mom and Dad set up for me too," Brian said.

The food was actually pretty good, not what Mama makes, but interesting. It was decided that weeknights it would be the Caf and everyone on their own on weekends.

"Look at that girl," Chester sighed. "She's the one for me."

"You've said that about every decent girl we've seen tonight," Jeff laughed. "You're not real picky, are you?"

"Like my daddy always says, us Farley's can walk through a room and all the women sit up and point."

"What? Point at what?"

"You know," Will choked, "Like pointers, like dogs. The women are all dogs."

"Daayam, that was bad."

About 8:00, Charlie, Jeff, Will, Alan, Chester and Brian all tumbled onto the bus, laughing and making the correct change. "I've never ridden a bus in my life," Brian said.

"Something new every minute."

"Better get used to it til one of us has wheels."

"When's the last bus run?" Jeff asked the driver.

"Midnight. Be right here or you've got a hell of a long walk, boys."

The dance club was over on Laredo Road. The bus driver said it would take about 25 minutes to get to the other side of town. Settling in for the ride, they told jokes and Charlie did a few moves in the aisle before the driver told them to tone it down or they'd be walking.

Snorting back tears of laughter, they finally climbed off the bus and stood on a busy street. Across the way was a lively club, huge neon cowboy hat blinking pink, then blue, then orange, doors open wide, music blaring out into the street. Lots of kids standing around in bunches, smoking and talking loudly. "This must be the place," Chester grinned. "I can smell the girls from here."

"Get a grip, Romeo. I think that's the dumpster you smell."

Feeling adult and full of energy, they crossed the street, held out their five bucks, got their hands stamped with a small red cowboy hat and walked into the loud club.

"Look, there's a real bar," Will whispered. "Think they'll serve us?" He and Charlie stepped up to the bar and Charlie said, "I'll have a Budweiser."

The bartender raised one eyebrow, "Not here on Friday night you won't. We got sodas, fruit juice and water, Name your poison."

"Ah," Charlie sighed, "Make that a Coke, I guess."

Brian got a bottle of water and pressed it against his forehead to cool his face. It was really hot inside the big room with all the sweaty bodies dancing.

It was easy to see that you could just go out in the middle of the crush of people and dance all by yourself. No one would be able to tell the difference. He could see Will and Charlie out there, bouncing, arms flailing. There was Chester's bright red hair, ponytail flying.

"You new at the school?" a voice said softly in his ear.

Brian turned his head and saw dark eyes set in a thin face framed by long greasy dark hair stuck under a ball cap. The guy was standing very close. Brian could feel the back of the guy's hand lightly stroking his thigh. "You been here before?"

"No, I .... um .....my friends ....I ......" He couldn't get a grip on the words.

"I take that as a 'No'. You'll like it. There are all kinds of people here. What ever you want, you can find. You want some E?" He ran his hand across Brian's butt. "You're cute. Wanna go out in back?" Brian felt the guy's fingers running up and down his zipper.

"No, thank you. I'm here with my friends," he managed to choke out.

"They're all busy. Come on, I was watching you when you came in. I really love fresh fruit. Come out back. I'll blow you into tomorrow."

Brian gulped. The bulge in his pants wanted to go out back and let this happen. He could feel the guy's hot breath on his cheek and his fingers rubbing against the cloth at his crotch. 'Yes! Wait ... No! Who the fuck is this guy? I'm not going anywhere.'

"No, thanks, I need to go dance now," he mumbled and struck out for the middle of the dance floor. Grabbing Chester, he dragged his roommate over to the far side of the room.

"You are so not gonna believe what just happened," he groaned. "A guy tried to give me drugs and take me out in the alley."

Chester snorted, "Whoa! Not a good idea, Brian. Dumpsters are in alleys and dumpsters are where they find bodies on CSI. You stay in here. You're not ready for an alley, bro. Where is the creep? Want me to pound him?"

Brian looked around, but the guy wasn't there. "I guess he left."

"C'mon, let's go get a Coke and see what's up with the other guys."

Chester met Annie. She was dressed all in silver, from platform heels to clips in her pink hair, with silver glitter on her face. "Brian, meet Annie. Show him," he prodded the girl, pure excitement in his voice. Annie pulled up her t-shirt and Brian saw a Klingon battle cruiser tattooed on her back. "That's not all, that's not all," Chester babbled. He wheeled her around to show Brian her right arm tattooed with the letters and numbers JTT047101111. Chester was so excited, he couldn't talk coherently.

What is that?" Brian asked, confused.

"Mulder's FBI badge number. This woman has Mulder's badge number tattooed on her body. Marry me, darlin' girl. Oh My God ! Let's dance."

Laughing, Brian had forgotten the creepy guy from earlier. All his friends seemed to be having a great time dancing and meeting people. As much as Brian tried, he just didn't have any of that special radar he always read about. Where were the other nine gay guys in this room? Damn!

Buying yet another bottle of cold water, Brian settled in to lean against the bar and watch. It was getting on towards midnight and he sure didn't want to walk all that way back to school. Setting his opened bottle on the bar, he waved Alan over and told him to remind the guys that they needed to be on the bus by midnight. Reaching back for his bottle, he chugged a long swig and came face to face with the creepy alley guy again. "Changed your mind, dude? Want some E? It'll blow your mind and make you cum so hard you'll think your cock exploded."

"I said no once," Brian said forcefully. He swung his head to look for Chester and felt the room spin. What the fuck? His eyes came back to the creep and he felt his knees start to wobble.

"Let's you and me go out in the back. I know just the place, all dark. No one to see." Brian felt himself being pulled along toward the back door. He wanted to yell, to call his friends, but his mouth wouldn't work with his mind. He felt the cool air of the night and the sounds of the street. He smelled the stench coming from the open dumpster and remembered Chester's words.

Trying to pull away, he felt the guy's hands clamp down on his upper arms and he was shoved against the sticky cement wall. 'Help!' his mind screamed, but his mouth stayed open in a silent pant. Not like this. I don't want this. He felt hot hands tearing at his pants, popping off the button, ripping down the zipper. Tears collected in his eyes, but his hands no longer worked. He felt like he was fading away.

Suddenly, the cool air hit him full on and the grasping hands were gone. Slowly sliding to the ground, he heard the sound of something really hard hitting something soft and wet. He heard a voice yelling, "....and you're a dead man!" He felt a hand cup the back of his head and a voice, velvet and warm saying softly, "You okay? C'mon now, let's get you fixed up."

"Give me a minute" came out as "Gi M Minte". Brian wasn't sure what had just happened. He sat, eyes closed, head pressed back against the sticky wall, just trying to get his breath.

"Here drink this."

"Nooo." He shook his head violently and everything he'd eaten for dinner came up in a huge gush all over him and the ground and whoever was squatting beside him. He heard a soft curse. Oh, dear God. He just puked all over the person who saved him.

He felt cold water run down his face and opened his eyes, blinking furiously. "What ... what happened?"

The voice replied, "First of all, never drink out of a water bottle you didn't just open. Never set the bottle down and look away. That's how he got you."

"He put something in my water?" Brian's head now felt like Mt. St. Helens and he wasn't at all sure he didn't want it to go ahead and erupt.

"Not much or you'd have been out like a light. Lucky thing."

"Yeah, right, lucky me."

"Listen, you are lucky. Lots of boys like you never get to go home. Go look for your excitement somewhere better, a picnic or a church dinner. You didn't even see that coming. You can't handle the street..... even though you're sitting in it right now."

Struggling to get up on his feet, Brian swallowed hard as his felt his stomach churn again. He felt strong arms pull him up straight and hands straighten his clothes. "You're okay. Try to remember what I told you about the bottles and never take drugs from strangers. Believe me, the street eats boys like you and then spits them out. Go find your friends and go home."

"Thank you," Brian choked out. "You like saved my life." He tried to touch the stranger's face in the darkness.

For the first time, the voice held a faint air of amusement, "Well, maybe not your life, but your innocence for sure. Night, kid."

Brian blinked over and over to clear his vision. As his eyes focused, Brian saw, in the dim light of the alleyway, the backside of work boots, tight black jeans pulled taut over a gorgeous ass, a black tanktop and the broadest shoulders he'd ever seen. It was the black curls that made him groan. That couldn't have been Black Wrangler. Life couldn't be as cruel as that. He just puked all over Black Wrangler! Oh, fuck!

He hurried inside, found Chester, who collected all the guys and they made it to the bus stop just as the bus rolled up. "You look like shit, Bri."

He didn't want to tell the story to everyone. He would tell Chester and Alan when they got home. "I drank too much soda and puked out in the alley. I feel about as good as I must look right now." He closed his eyes and rested his head on the bus seat. His mind was whirling with all that had happened. He never wanted sex like that...not like that ... forced on him. It scared him, what had happened. If Black Wrangler hadn't been there ........ why was he there? He tried to just keep from dizzying out until he got home.

Standing in the shower, Brian let the hot water wash away the feel of that creep's hands on him. He figured that sound he'd heard was creep getting hit. Black Wrangler had hit that guy. Brian owed him more than a garbled thank you. But how could he ever even look him in the face after what Brian had done? He felt like a total idiot. Let that guy sucker him out into that stinking alley.

He told Chester and Alan as coherently as he could exactly what had happened. "I'm sorry, Bri. I should have ......," Chester gulped.

"You should have what? You should have babysat me? Damn! It was all my fault and it won't happen again."

"You're lucky your friend was there to help you," Alan said.

"He's not my friend. I don't even know him. He has this big monster dog that guards his big black Jeep Wrangler."

"Then how do you know who he is?"

Brian blushed, "I've seen him around campus. He doesn't even know I'm alive. He was just being a good Samaritan, I guess."

Chester replied, "Well, he sure saved your butt and I, for one, am glad he was around. Maybe he's The Dark Avenger, the savior of all innocent gay boys who get trapped in alleys. Now, let's talk about me. What did you think about Annie? I think I'm in love."

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