Pierced

Copyright jvaughn 2013. All rights reserved.

Paul suppressed a sigh as he headed down the hall to the bathroom. The dim lighting helped to hide the scuffed walls and worn carpet. The dorm smelled of old sweat, dirty socks, and faintly of the strong ammonia cleanser that the janitorial staff used to curb the mold and bacteria that pervaded the fifty-year-old building.

His mind was not on the bleakness of his living quarters tonight, however, it was on the embarrassing date he’d just ended. His dates were often awkward; this one had been downright mortifying.

He had taken Tammy out because it was expected of him. He was a wide receiver on Washington State University’s football team. It was his responsibility to date beautiful women. Tammy definitely qualified as that and then some. She had waist-length soft brunette curls, sparkling brown eyes, and the body of a lingerie model. She sat beside him in his economics class, which she was skating right through, so she was plenty smart too.

She was lively and fun, and their flirting had been escalating since classes had started a month earlier. He enjoyed her company and thought maybe things could work between them, but asking her out had turned out to be a huge mistake.

Dinner was fine—they’d gone for pizza at Milly’s. It was close to campus, frequented by his friends, and kind to students on a budget. They’d run into several people they knew and ended up sharing a table, pizzas, and pitchers of soda. It was only afterwards, when he walked Tammy home, that he got into trouble.

Their conversation on the way to her apartment had been light. He’d tried to leave her at her doorstep, but she’d cajoled him in for a beer. That was my first mistake, he thought. I never should have gone into her place. It gave her the wrong idea about my intentions. In spite of her urgings, he had kept his beer consumption to two. He knew better than to drink too much when he had an early class the next day.

She, however, was under no such compunction. She’d consumed four beers in the time it took him to drink two and got more flirtatious with each one. The more aggressive she became, the more uneasy he felt. Most guys would have loved it when she unbuttoned her shirt to show more cleavage, or when she rubbed up against them in the kitchen while they were getting a glass of water. Paul had just panicked.

He knew what was wrong: he preferred guys. It was not something he admitted to anyone. He barely admitted it to himself. Although Washington state had recently legalized gay marriage, that open attitude was firmly confined to the other side of the state. He’d grown up on a farm outside of the Tri-Cities where, at best, gays were ridiculed—more often they were demonized and bullied. WSU had a mix of students from all over the world, so it wasn’t entirely conservative, but he was on the football team where anti-gay sentiments were common.

He had tried to squelch his natural tendencies. He’d known he wasn’t straight since he was twelve, but he was hoping he was at least bisexual. He wanted to find a girl who could make him happy, it just hadn’t happened yet. He’d had sex with girls. He’d even enjoyed it, but he had to be in just the right mood—or perhaps stone-drunk since that’s when it always seemed to happen. The girl also had to say and do the right things; if he felt pressured at all, his dick would refuse to cooperate.

That is what had happened with Tammy. She had rushed him and he’d run. Literally. I must have flirted too much. I must have encouraged her without meaning to. It was a fine line to walk: flirting enough to keep the girl interested and feeling good about themselves, but not so much that they were brave enough to make advances on their own. He’d underestimated Tammy; she was braver than he thought. She must have assumed he was just shy and needed some additional incentive. She had clearly been tipsy when she’d pulled off her shirt, ostensibly to show him her new lacy bra. That’s when he had bolted, wanting to get out quickly before she had a chance to realize his cock was still completely flaccid. I’m not normal. Most guys would have been all over her.

He winced as he remembered the expression on her face. He hoped the incident wouldn’t come back to bite him too badly. At the least, it would be embarrassing to see her in class next week.

Should I give up on girls altogether? he wondered. He didn’t blame Tammy; he was angry with himself. He shouldn’t have asked her out and definitely shouldn’t have gone into her apartment. Now it was already after midnight. He should have come home early and been sound asleep by now.

While he’d been ruminating over his disastrous evening, he had reached the bathroom, set his toiletry bag on the counter, and gotten ready to brush his teeth. Glancing at himself in the mirror, he noted that the bruise he’d gotten on his cheek during practice a few days earlier had faded. His thick blond hair was sticking up more than usual—he was way overdue for a haircut, but never seemed to have the time or the money. He looked tired, the redness in his eyes making his blue irises appear smoky gray.

He was just about to turn the water on when he heard a small noise coming from the shower area. He paused and tilted his head to listen. It came again and this time he was sure it was a sob. What the hell?

He moved on quiet bare feet around the corner into the shower area. If it was some freshman crying because he was homesick or his girlfriend had dumped him, then he would probably give him his privacy, but there had been a truly distressed quality to the sob he’d heard, and something told him he needed to make sure that whoever it was wasn’t about to commit suicide or something.

The shower area was made of individual stalls with changing cubicles, and the noise was coming from the one furthest away.

Should I say something or just peek in? he wondered. Whoever was in the last stall sucked in their breath sharply and then moaned. He sounded like he was in pain. That decided for it Paul.

“Hey, are you okay?” he called as he strode quickly to the end stall and pulled open the curtain.

The sight that met his eyes was one he would remember vividly for a long time to come. A thin, young man was huddled on the wet tile floor in the corner of the shower. He was naked and visibly shaking, his knees drawn up to his chest and his arms wrapped around them. His face was buried in his arms, but he looked up in alarm as Paul swept the curtain aside. His huge dark eyes were filled with terror and glassy with pain. There were tear streaks down his face and a red mark was blooming on his cheek as if he’d been struck.

“What happened?” Paul asked as he entered the changing stall. He was about to ask the youth if he were okay again, but he clearly was not. As Paul squatted in front of him, the young man stiffened and then whimpered in pain. He was clearly terrified, and the sound he made ripped into Paul’s gut like a knife.

“Go … go away!” the young man cried, his voice making a weird hiccupping sound that Paul remembered having made himself when he was a small child and had cried too hard.

“I won’t hurt you,” Paul said gently. “I want to help. Please tell me where you’re hurt. Should I call 911?”

The boy shook his head, but some of the panic faded from his eyes. He buried his face in his arms again, his body still trembling. Then Paul noticed wads of duct tape here and there on the shower floor. One of the wads had a hunk of dark curly hair in it—obviously the boy’s. What the hell? Looking more closely at the young man, he saw a scrap of duct tape stuck to his forearm and the redness around his wrists indicated that he’d been bound.

All the air left Paul’s lungs in a whoosh. He was so shocked he was unable to restrain his response. “Oh my God! Someone tied you up and … and beat you?” he blurted out. It occurred to him that the boy might have been raped, but he couldn’t say that.

“Leave … just … please,” the boy begged, his voice breaking.

The tightness in Paul’s chest was painful. His emotions felt too big to be contained by his body. The thought that someone had terrorized this vulnerable young man horrified him beyond words, and the need to make it better, to somehow right this atrocity, overwhelmed him with its intensity.

“Who did this to you?” he demanded. “Was it someone you knew? Did they … did they…?” He couldn’t get the word rape out. He hoped to God they hadn’t raped this sweet kid.

Paul reflected that he really didn’t know if the youth had a sweet disposition or not, but he looked sweet. In spite of the ring in his full bottom lip, the small piercing above his eyebrow, and studs in both ears, he had an air of innocence about him. He looked very young, although certainly he was a bit of a wild-child for Eastern Washington.

The boy didn’t answer. He let out another sob and then a whimper. “Oh God! Oh God!” he wailed softly. His body began shaking more violently. Clearly he was going into shock.

Paul glanced around and noticed the young man’s clothes and toiletry bag were sitting on the bench, and his towel was hanging over a hook. He didn’t look wet, but he looked cold. Paul grabbed the towel and wrapped it around the shivering youth’s shoulders. The boy didn’t even look up at him.

“I’m going to get you some help,” he said. “…call the police.”

Now the boy did look up, suddenly and with panic in his eyes. “NO!” he cried. “No, please. No police. Just … just go away. Forget you ever saw.”

“No, I can’t do that,” Paul said, calmly but firmly. “I mean, you were attacked right? That’s … we need to report this. We need to find whoever did this.”

The boy shook his head vehemently. “I just want to forget,” he whispered. His big brown eyes beseeched Paul, and Paul wondered if he knew how impossible he was to argue with when he looked like that. He was instantly ready to concede to any demands the youth made.

Just then they heard the bathroom door slam open. The boy’s eyes grew round with fear. It broke Paul’s heart. Those expressive eyes should never know fear. Paul laid a comforting hand on the youth’s arm and held a finger to his lips, letting him know that he wasn’t going to say anything to whoever had come into the bathroom. They stayed frozen in place while they listened to the sounds of someone emptying a very full bladder. Whoever it was didn’t even wash their hands before they left.

The boy breathed a small sigh of relief then. He was still shivering, but seemed to be calmer than he’d been earlier.

“I’m Paul. What’s your name?”

The boy hesitated and Paul thought perhaps he wasn’t going to answer, but then he said in a soft voice, “Kyle.”

“Kyle.” Paul rolled the name around on his tongue. It seemed to fit the beautiful, unusual young man.

“I’ll be okay now,” Kyle said. “I’d like to take a shower so if you…” He made a small shooing motion with shaking hands.

“Um … I don’t think you should be alone right now,” Paul said. He wasn’t sure why he felt that way. Perhaps he sensed that Kyle really was not okay and needed help even if he wouldn’t admit it. Or maybe he just wanted to stay close to the handsome young man.

“I’m fine,” Kyle said. As if to prove that were the case, he rocked forward onto his feet and launched himself to a standing position. Immediately he let out and small cry of pain and crouched over, holding his stomach.

Paul grabbed his arm to help steady him. His eyes traveled down Kyle’s lean torso, noting the spreading bruises on his ribs and abdomen. When his eyes caught sight of Kyle’s penis, he let out a cry of dismay and revulsion. The tip of his cock was covered with blood.

Paul’s body had an instinctive reaction, trying to double over to protect his own precious goods. He drew in a sharp breath. “Oh my God, Kyle! What…?” He had to gasp for air again and couldn’t continue.

Kyle closed his eyes and small whimper came out of his mouth. He moved his hands down to shield his cock from Paul’s view. “My … my Prince Albert,” he whispered.

“What?” What the hell is he talking about?

Kyle took a steadying breath. “They ripped it out.” He opened his eyes and began searching the floor of the stall. “It’s a gold ring about a half-inch in diameter with a ball on it. Do you see it anywhere?”

“You … you had your dick pierced?” Paul finally understood what Kyle was talking about. And then, true to form, no filter for his mouth at all, he blurted out, “That is so hot!”

Kyle’s shocked eyes found his, and Paul felt color creeping up his cheeks as he quickly turned his face away with the pretense of searching the floor for the ring.

As the extent of Kyle’s injuries sank in, a deep anger grew in Paul. He fought to keep his cool and appear calm, but he wanted to tear someone’s guts out.

“I don’t see it anywhere,” Kyle said with a small sigh. “One of them must have taken it.”

“One of them? There was more than one?”

“There were three of them,” Kyle whispered. Paul felt his thin body trembling under his hand. “I … I didn’t see them.” His young face was etched with pain and humiliation.

Paul instinctively stepped closer. He wanted to pull Kyle to him, to hold and protect him from anyone that might hurt him. He wanted to undo what had been done to him, but of course that was impossible. While he hesitated, unsure if Kyle would welcome a hug, the young man looked up at him. He must have seen something in Paul’s eyes, because he grabbed Paul’s upper arms with both his hands, his fingers digging in almost painfully, as if holding tight to Paul would keep him from drowning. Looking down, he leaned the top of his head against Paul’s chest and took a big gasping breath.

Paul’s heart thudded against his ribs. Kyle’s hair smelled faintly of pine, reminding him of fresh mountain air. He began stroking Kyle’s back rhythmically through the towel that he still had around his shoulders, offering comfort. Kyle was a little shorter than him and fit in the circle of his arms perfectly. Let me help you, please, Paul begged silently. Let me hold you.

They stood there in silence and after a few minutes Kyle seemed to relax into him, letting go of the death grip he had on Paul’s biceps and sliding his arms around his waist, turning the embrace into a real hug. Then he began to speak in soft, steady voice. “I came in here to take a shower before bed. I usually always wait until I think the bathroom is empty before I shower, because…” He paused and took another deep breath before continuing. “Because I’m gay and everyone knows it, and some of the guys give me a hard time if I come in here when they’re here.”

Paul clamped down on his anger, trying not to let his body stiffen for fear Kyle would take it the wrong way. He said nothing and waited patiently for him to continue. He knew it must be difficult to talk about. Hell, it was difficult to hear, but if Kyle wanted to tell him, he would listen.

“So I came in here to take a shower, and they must have snuck in after me. I didn’t even hear them. I had just turned the shower on—hadn’t even gotten in—when they jumped me. I didn’t see them. They knocked me face first into the wall and one of them held my face there while the others taped my hands behind my back. Then they taped my mouth and my eyes. I … I fought like crazy, but they were too strong. God, I felt so helpless.”

He paused and Paul heard him swallow. There was a huge lump in Paul’s own throat. He focused on his slow stokes across Kyle’s trembling back.

“The whole time they were calling me a faggot and a whore and lots of other shit. They yanked out my Prince Albert, which just about did me in. I didn’t even feel them punching me. I went down pretty quickly. I was just praying that it would be over soon and that they wouldn’t kill me.”

Kyle’s breath started coming in quick gasps and Paul felt him grab handfuls of his t-shirt in tight fists. When he spoke again his words tumbled out quickly, his voice pitched higher with emotion. “They were saying that I liked to take it up the ass … and then they … and then one of them … oh God!” Kyle’s voice broke at this point and a sob came out. He began to cry quietly into Paul’s chest.

Paul blinked back his own tears as he gathered the young man more closely into the protection of his arms. “They raped you,” he whispered.

Kyle nodded. “One of them,” he confirmed, his voice sounding steadier. “The other two held me still and egged him on. Afterwards they kicked me a few times, cut my wrists free, spit on me, and left.”

Now that he was done with his story the tension seemed to leave his body and Paul felt him sway. He might have gone down if he hadn’t been holding him so tightly.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispered in Kyle’s ear. “I’m so sorry this happened to you.”

Kyle nodded slightly but said nothing more. After a few moments, he took a long shuddering breath and pulled away from Paul, who let go reluctantly. “I need to take a shower,” he said.

“No, I don’t think you should.”

Kyle’s eyes widened and he looked up at Paul in surprise. “Why … why not?” he asked.

“We need to go down to the clinic and have you checked out,” Paul said. “You … you might have sustained internal damage. And you don’t want to wash the evidence away.”

“I … I think he used a condom. I don’t feel any … uh…” Kyle trailed off as Paul visibly winced. “Sorry.”

“No, no. You have nothing to be sorry about. God! I don’t even know how you’re dealing with this so well. I can’t … it’s overwhelming.”

“I’m sorry,” Kyle said again.

“Oh, sweetheart…” The word came naturally out of Paul’s mouth, and it sounded endearing rather than condescending. “Let me help you. We’ll go down to the clinic together. I’ll get us a cab.”

“No, I don’t want to,” Kyle said defiantly. He glared at Paul and his lower jaw shifted out slightly. He looked both stubborn and adorable. “I just … I’ll be okay. I just need a shower and some sleep, and I’ll be fine tomorrow.”

Paul understood exactly where Kyle was coming from. He didn’t want the stigma of being “that boy who was raped,” but he felt strongly that Kyle should be checked out. He tried a different angle. “If you don’t report this, if you don’t give the police a chance to gather evidence, then those guys will never be caught. They’ll do it to someone else—or maybe even to you again,” he said, gently but firmly. “You need to report this.”

Kyle closed his eyes and a tear slipped down his cheek. Paul’s chest felt hot and tight. He wanted to pull Kyle into his arms again, but the young man’s body was stiff and forbidding, and the last thing Paul wanted to do was force himself on Kyle.

“You’re right,” Kyle finally said with a sigh. “I should try to make sure they get caught before they do this to someone else. I don’t want the police to come here, though. They can talk to me at the clinic. And I’m taking a shower first.” He looked up at Paul with a steely eye, perhaps expecting an argument, but Paul was done. If Kyle wanted a shower, and Paul totally understood why he might, Paul wasn’t going to argue.

“I’ll stay right here. Let me know if you need anything,” he said, taking the towel that Kyle handed him. He tried not to stare at the young man’s lithe body as he turned and started the water flowing.

Paul looked everywhere except at Kyle as he took his shower. He was aware of him washing and rinsing his hair, and then running soapy hands slowly over his body. If circumstances had been different, Paul would have been drooling. As it was, he still got half hard, and he chastised himself thoroughly for that.

When the water shut off, Paul handed Kyle his towel, still trying not to ogle. Kyle paused while drying himself and Paul realized he was examining his cock.

“Do you need a Band-Aid or something?”

“No, it’s stopped bleeding. I’ll just let the clinic take care of it.” Kyle let out a heavy sigh. “I guess it doesn’t matter that the ring is gone. It’s not like I’m going to get it re-pierced after this.”

If I ever get my hands on whoever did this to him, I’m going to fucking tear them apart. Once again, Paul tamped down his anger. Kyle needed him right now and he needed him calm.

Paul handed him his clothing one piece at a time and waited patiently while he slowly got dressed. He was obviously in a lot of pain and trying not to show it.

When he was finished dressing, Kyle started picking up his things and putting them into his bathroom bag.

“I’m gonna gather some of this stuff for evidence,” Paul said, indicating the wads of tape on the floor. “Just wait here a sec, okay?”

Kyle nodded numbly. His eyes had glazed over making him look shell-shocked.

Paul hurried into the main area of the bathroom where he saw his toiletries still sitting on the counter. He quickly gathered his things, knocking the toothpaste into the sink and sucking the remainder off his brush before he stuffed it into his bag. Going to the first aid cabinet on the wall, he retrieved a pair of latex gloves. There was a small round trashcan near the door with a white liner in it. Kyle knew the janitorial staff kept the extra liners in the bottom of the receptacle. He grabbed one of those too.

Returning to Kyle, he slipped on the gloves and carefully gathered up all of the tape, placing it into the plastic bag. On a whim, he went to the nearest garbage and glanced into it. Sitting on top was a used condom.

“Ta da!” he said, pulling it out carefully and holding it up.

Kyle’s face whitened.

“Sorry,” Paul said. He quickly pulled his glove off over the condom and tied it shut, effectively sealing the condom and its contents in. He dropped it in the white garbage bag as well and went to Kyle who was still standing where he’d left him, leaning against the wall, slightly hunched over.

“Shall we drop your stuff in your room and then grab a taxi?” he asked.

“Yeah. We don’t need a taxi though. I have a car. But … can you drive?”

“Yes, sure.”

Paul slipped an arm carefully around the other man’s waist. Kyle clung to him, drawing his lower lip between his teeth as he shuffled slowly forward. It was obviously painful to walk.

Paul tilted his head and caught a whiff of coconut from Kyle’s freshly washed hair. His lean body was flush against his, warm and supple. As he became aware of how attracted he was to Kyle, he had to remind himself: he doesn’t need that right now, Paul—he needs a friend.

****

The eastern horizon was turning pink as they left the 24-hour clinic. The sky overhead was a deep, cloudless indigo, and the late September air had a decided chill to it. Paul shivered in his thin t-shirt, but Kyle’s body was warm under his arm.

Kyle swayed and Paul tightened his grip. The smaller man giggled and grinned up at him. It was the first time he had seen the boy smile, and it almost stopped his heart. As if echoing his own thoughts, Kyle said, “You’re gorgeous, you know that?” Then he giggled again and stumbled.

Paul pulled him around to the passenger side of his ten-year-old Prius and helped him slide in. Kyle winced as he eased himself shakily into his seat, but then he grinned at Paul again, his eyes slightly unfocused. He pulled his seatbelt out but struggled trying to get the clasp fastened.

“Here, let me,” Paul said, squatting next to him and buckling the belt securely across Kyle’s narrow hips. “Those pain killers must be pretty strong.”

“Well, yeah,” Kyle answered, his words slightly slurred. “Especially since I took three of them.”

“Three of them!” Paul said in alarm. “How many were you supposed to take?”

“One every six hours.”

“Kyle!” Paul wasn’t sure why he sounded so shocked. Drugs were prevalent in Eastern Washington and many of his friends indulged in recreational drug use. Paul didn’t, and for some reason he didn’t want Kyle to either.

As if reading his thoughts, Kyle said, “I’m not a druggie or anything.” His face darkened and he turned away from Paul, staring out the front window. “I just … I just want to forget.” This last came out in a whisper.

Paul’s heart tore right in half. One minute it was whole and beating just fine and the next it was shredded in two and bleeding all down his chest. Kyle’s eyes were focused on something far away. Paul thought he’d never seen anyone look so hurt and lost. He reached up and stroked his fingers down the side of Kyle’s smooth cheek, bringing the other man’s attention to him.

“I’m so sorry that happened to you,” he said quietly. “But it’ll be okay. You’ll be okay.” Paul so wanted to believe that.

The sun picked that moment to break over the horizon, bathing the car in a golden light. Kyle’s eyes reflected it back, appearing to change color suddenly from warm brown to a beautiful green. Paul was spellbound.

A small smile tugged at the corner of Kyle’s lips. His focus shifted to Paul’s mouth.

He wants a kiss, Paul realized. The urge to kiss Kyle suddenly overwhelmed him, stronger than any desire he’d ever felt. He stood up abruptly, near panic. His heart pounded in his chest and his mouth went dry. What the hell’s wrong with me?

He closed Kyle’s door and walked slowly around the car, trying to get himself back under control.

“Thanks. Thanks for taking care of me,” Kyle said as Paul climbed into the driver’s seat.

“It’s no problem at all Kyle.”

I’m really tired. That’s why I’m losing it like this. He’d spent the better part of the last four hours dozing in an uncomfortable chair in the clinic’s waiting room. He had talked briefly to the police and handed over the evidence bag, but otherwise his wait had been uneventful.

His stomach growled loudly, letting him know that if he was going to stay up all night, he needed fuel.

Kyle laughed, and it sounded like a key unlocking the door to Paul’s happiness. He smiled at the young man as Kyle said. “You’re hungry. I’m starving too. Can I buy you breakfast? It’s the least I can do for helping me out.”

“You don’t owe me anything.”

“Oh, I think I owe you way more than the price of a breakfast. Come on, let’s stop at Joe’s Diner.”

Paul’s stomach rumbled again, putting in its whole-hearted approval of the suggestion. “Are you sure you’re up for it?” Paul had started driving, but he spared a  brief glance at Kyle. His left eye was puffy and the red mark on his cheek was deepening to an angry purple. He thought perhaps his lower lip was swollen too, but maybe it was just naturally sensuous. Stop that! his brain ordered.

“Yes. If I don’t eat now I’ll have to go down to the Northside for something soon, and I’d really rather not.”

“Joe’s it is.”

*****

As they entered the restaurant, Kyle leaned heavily on Paul, giggling and stumbling.

“Take it easy there soldier,” Paul admonished him.

The waitress shot them a glare. She probably thinks we’re drunk. Paul guided Kyle to a table and helped him slide into the booth. He was wobbly but didn’t appear to be in any pain.

“Coffee?” The waitress had instantly shown up at their table. She started pouring without waiting for a response. Paul chuckled at her attempt to sober them up.

He’d already decided to skip his 9 a.m. class. He didn’t have another until after lunch, and he planned to take a long nap when he got back to his room, so coffee probably wasn’t such a good idea. He stifled a yawn. Well, maybe half a cup.

Kyle was already slurping his down black. Paul suppressed a shudder as he doctored his with cream and sugar.

The young man smirked at him as he added his third sugar packet. “Having some coffee with your sugar?” he asked.

“I don’t see how you can drink this stuff straight. It’s like kerosene.”

“It’ll put hair on your chest,” Kyle responded. “Of course, I’ve been drinking it like this for years and it hasn’t done a damn thing for me.”

That comment brought back the memory of Kyle’s smooth bare chest, tapering to a slim, flat stomach. Paul drew in a sharp breath. Kyle chuckled softly, and when Paul glanced at him, he winked at him. Paul knew his face was usually an open book. Did Kyle see what I was thinking about? He felt his cheeks blush a hot red. He quickly buried his nose in the menu.

When the waitress returned a few minutes later, they ordered: Paul the country breakfast with eggs over-easy and sausage, and Kyle, strawberry waffles with a side of bacon.

They carried on an easy conversation throughout breakfast. Paul found out that Kyle was a sophomore—he had guessed freshman because he looked so young. He was majoring in computer science and wanted to go into game design. Paul looked at him with new respect as he listed off his classes, heavy on high-level math. The boy must be pretty smart, Paul thought. He told Kyle about himself: he was a junior majoring in animal studies so he could help his dad out with the ranch. He admitted that he usually struggled with math. Luckily he’d already gotten most of his non-major classes out of the way. The animal classes were always pretty interesting, and he was looking forward to the hands-on sessions that he had coming up.

Kyle was obviously feeling the affects of all the painkillers he’d taken; he laughed often and flirted with Paul unashamedly as they ate. Paul’s emotions ping-ponged between concern for Kyle and giddiness as he flirted back—something he’d never done with a guy. Paul thought that he’d blushed more during that meal than he had in the past year. He hoped that Kyle was so high he wouldn’t remember later.

Kyle finished with his meal, pushing his plate away and leaning back with a sigh. Paul glanced up to see him worrying the gold ring in his lower lip with his tongue. His tongue snaked out and pushed the ring this way then that. Paul couldn’t take his eyes off of it. A vision sprang into his mind of that tongue playing with a Prince Albert piercing in Paul’s own  cock. Oh God! His jeans were suddenly much too tight. What would it be like to have such a piercing, and how would it feel to have Kyle tongue it like that?

Kyle’s tongue disappeared into his mouth and his lips spread into a broad smile.

Oh shit! Paul met his eyes and saw that Kyle had caught him staring at his tongue.

“You want some?” Kyle teased, sticking the tip of his tongue out and running it quickly back and forth over his lip ring.

Paul suppressed a groan. Oh yes! I want! He tore his eyes away and focused on his plate, once again feeling his face grow hot.

“How about some of my bacon?” Kyle’s voice was low and seductive. “You have to come and get it.” Then Paul had to look at him. Kyle was sticking his tongue out and balanced a long piece of bacon across it. His eyes were twinkling with mischief.

Before he had a chance to reconsider, Paul leaned across the table and snagged the bacon with his teeth. “Mmmm, bacon.” He tried to match Kyle’s sultry tone, but with bacon between his teeth it just came out growly. The bacon broke and half of it fell onto his plate. He quickly sucked the rest into his mouth, but he was laughing so hard he could hardly chew.

Suddenly it occurred to him what it must have looked like, him taking bacon off of Kyle’s tongue. He glanced around the restaurant. All of the other patrons were older folks, and no one was paying them any attention except the waitress. She was glaring at them.

Paul turned back to his plate, still smiling as he used the other piece of bacon to push the last bit of eggs onto his fork and then devoured both of them. No harm done, I don’t think. That waitress doesn’t hang with college kids.

He looked up to find Kyle staring at him with a look in his eyes that unsettled him. He had only ever gotten that look from women, which was bad enough. Getting that look from Kyle now was downright terrifying, because he was afraid he might reciprocate it.

*****

Paul could not get Kyle off his mind. He had trouble sleeping that morning—his head was spinning with thoughts of what Kyle had gone through. He wanted to bring him dinner that evening, but he had to scramble from his afternoon class to climb aboard the bus for the five hour trip to Seattle. The next day was Saturday and their team had a game at Century Link field against Stanford.

The only time during the trip Paul’s mind was not on Kyle was during the actual game—thank God he’d been able to focus and play. They had had a devastating loss to Stanford the year before and team emotions were running high. The game had been close; they’d fought hard and managed a narrow victory: 19-17. He hadn’t personally made any touchdowns, but he’d played a solid game and felt good about himself. Spirits were high as everyone climbed back in the bus for the long trip back to Pullman.

As soon as the excitement of the game settled down, his mind went right back to thinking about Kyle. His brain seemed to suddenly have only one track. He told himself that he wasn’t infatuated, that it was natural to need to process things after a traumatic event.

He couldn’t wait to see Kyle again though, and when they finally got back very late on Saturday night he’d walked past his dorm room door. The light was out and there was no sound in his room, so he didn’t disturb him.

As soon as he was up the next morning, heart pounding in his chest, he knocked on the door of Kyle’s single room, but there was no answer. Paul tried again several other times throughout the day with like results and thought maybe Kyle had gone out for the day. He wondered if he were feeling better.

Monday he was busy with classes and practice, and then pizza with some of his team mates. By the time he got back to the dorm he decided it was too late to visit Kyle. He knocked on his door a couple of times on Tuesday, but still there was no answer. He was beginning to wonder if he’d gone out of town.

Then on Wednesday, when he was on his way back to his room from his morning classes, he spotted Kyle heading in the same direction, lugging a cello. He was wearing a black band t-shirt and black jeans that showed off the curve of his ass. His Converse high-tops were bright red. Paul broke into a jog and caught up with him quickly.

“Hey Kyle,” he called as he got close. “Let me get that for you.” He grabbed the cello handle and wrested it from Kyle’s grip.

Kyle’s eyes widened as he looked at Paul. “You know, I’m perfectly capable of carrying my cello,” he said, sounding a bit annoyed. “I’ve only been doing it for ten years.” He reached out to take the instrument back.

Paul swung it into his other hand away from Kyle. This was his excuse to follow Kyle up to his room. “Really? You’ve been playing that long? You must be really good.”

Kyle rolled his eyes. Paul noticed they were green today, a deep forest green. “I’m not going to win any awards,” Kyle said dryly, “but I do like playing. I find it relaxing. I’m in the orchestra here.”

They had entered the dorm and Paul headed automatically for the stairs.

“You take the stairs?” Kyle asked in surprise. “To the sixth floor?”

“Uh … usually,” Paul said, correcting his course and heading for the elevator. “If I take them two at a time it’s faster than the ‘vator.”

“Wow! You are such a jock,” Kyle teased.

“You want to see my strap?” Paul responded in a low voice.

Kyle’s eyes widened in surprise. Paul blushed. He couldn’t believe he’d said that. No filter. Kyle started laughing and Paul joined him. Several other students were queued up at the elevator when they reached it, so they said nothing more.

On the sixth floor, they walked together to Kyle’s room, passing the student lounge on the way. Paul noticed Jimmy eyeing them sullenly as they went past. Jimmy was on the football team with him, but he was fourth string and rarely got to play. He lived and breathed football though, and followed Eric, the starting quarterback, around like a puppy. Paul wondered what he thought of him hanging out with the pierced, gay boy, but as soon as they reached Kyle’s room, Paul forgot about him.

Kyle swung his door wide and went in, dumping his backpack onto his bed. Paul followed him with the excuse of carrying the cello, and he nudged the door surreptitiously with his foot so that it swung slowly shut. Kyle’s room was very neat. He had a dark blue bedspread and cream-colored pillows on the bed, and the walls were covered with posters from various bands, including The Doors, Evanescense, and several that Paul had never heard of.

Kyle turned and eyed him speculatively.

Paul set the cello down. “How are you doing?” he asked softly.

Kyle’s eyes darkened briefly with remembrance, but he quickly masked his pain. “I’m okay,” he said nodding and giving Paul a small smile.

Paul looked at him closely. There were dark circles under his eyes and a tightness around his mouth. His curly hair looked unruly and maybe a bit greasy, but Paul wasn’t sure what it normally looked like. The mark on his cheek had faded to greenish yellow.

“You’re recovered?” he asked.

“Yes,” Kyle answered shortly, sitting down on his narrow bed.

“Did you hear back from the police yet? Do they have any leads?”

“No. I don’t think they’re even looking.” Kyle frowned and picked up a trailing strap from his backpack, twisting it between his fingers.

“What do you mean? Why not?”

“They don’t care if some fag got beat up,” Kyle said bitterly, watching himself play with his strap rather than looking at Paul. “They acted like they thought I deserved it.”

“Really?” Paul said, shocked. “But … isn’t that their job, to serve and protect? It shouldn’t matter.”

“It shouldn’t, but it does.” He suddenly glared up at Paul. “Maybe you haven’t noticed because you’re still hiding in your closet, but gay-bashing is alive and well in Eastern Washington, thank you very much.”

Paul stared at him with growing horror and a tremor ran up his spine. “Uh…” He was about to deny he was gay, but managed to hold his tongue. It was obvious Kyle had figured him out and there was no point in blatantly lying to him. He had been openly flirting with him, after all.

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone,” Kyle said. He tossed the backpack strap aside angrily, and his eyes flashed when looked up at Paul. “But you probably shouldn’t hang out with me … carry my cello and stuff. You know that gay disease is catching.”

Paul sank into the chair at Kyle’s desk. He realized Kyle was mad at him for some reason, but he wasn’t able to spare any thought to figure out why. He was still trying to wrap his head around the fact that Kyle knew he was gay. “I … yeah. No one knows,” he whispered.

“I’m sorry, I’m being an ass,” Kyle said, his voice softer. “I’m just a bit bitter about this whole thing. I don’t mean to take it out on you. I totally get why you’re in the closet—the whole football jock thing and all. It’s a lot easier to be gay when you’re a computer/orchestra geek.”

Paul nodded absently and silence hung in the room like a sinister ghost.

Finally Kyle spoke. “Are you ever going to come out, or were you thinking of getting married and all that shit?”

“Uh…” Paul blinked at Kyle. “I … up until recently I was hoping to get married.”

“Up until recently? What changed?”

“Well, I’m having trouble finding a girl I like.”

Kyle snorted. “Well … duh!”

Paul stood up abruptly. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” he said, crossing to the door. His eyes were burning and his chest was suddenly tight. He had to get out of there.

“Shit, I’m sorry Paul. I’m way out of line.”

“No, those were fair questions. Unfortunately my answers are probably not what you want to hear. See you around.” Paul yanked the door open and stepped into the hallway.

“Thanks for checking on me,” Kyle said as Paul walked away.

Back in his own room Paul sank onto his bed with a sigh. His roommate, Dale, who was also a friend and a teammate, raised an eyebrow at him. “You look like someone just killed your dog, dude.”

“Just having a bad day,” Paul muttered. Kyle’s words kept echoing through his head. If he wasn’t going find a girl to marry, and he was beginning to think that was a very bad idea for both him and the girl, then what the hell was he going to do? No self-respecting gay man would want to join him in his closet. He would either have to come out or spend the rest of his life wishing he was. That realization hit him like a sledgehammer to the back of his head.

*****

Paul tried in earnest to forget about Kyle after that. He had been obsessing over the captivating young man and it had to stop. Nothing was ever going to come of it. He couldn’t have a relationship with Kyle. Kyle was very out and had made it clear that he didn’t have much respect for those who weren’t.

It hurt, though. For some reason it hurt much more than it should have. He felt such a strong attraction to Kyle—he’d never had it this bad before. He couldn’t help jacking off to images of Kyle’s sweet mouth wrapped around his cock while his big green eyes looked up at him adoringly. He’d tried not to. He’d always start out purposefully thinking of anything except Kyle, but at some point during his session, a vision of the gorgeous young man would pop into head—usually trigging an immediate orgasm. He wanted Kyle so badly, his balls ached.

He moved through the next several days in a haze of regret, attending his classes and football practice, pretending to study, and avoiding social situations, especially if they involved women. His Thursday economics class, the first time he saw Tammy after their disastrous date, was uncomfortable to say the least. Both of them were embarrassed, but they managed to reach an uneasy truce. They were polite to each other, even pleasant, but not flirtatious like they had been.

His roommate, Dale, knew something was up and asked him a few times if he was okay. Luckily he accepted Paul’s noncommittal responses and didn’t pry. That was one of the reasons he liked Dale. He was easy-going and open-minded, and thought everyone should mind their own business.

In spite of his efforts to forget about Kyle, the young man was still often in his thoughts. He didn’t go out of his way to avoid running into Kyle, in fact, every time he stepped out of his room he kept an eye out for him. They lived on the same floor, and it was inevitable that they’d see each other sooner or later. However, after several days went by and he hadn’t run into Kyle, he wondered if the other man was avoiding him.

A week later when he still hadn’t run into him, it occurred to him that perhaps Kyle was so upset about the assault that he’d moved out. That thought caused a small panic and made him realize how much he wanted to see Kyle again. His logical mind told him it would never work out and it would be best if they forgot about each other, but his heart—and his cock—had other ideas.

Eight days went by before he finally saw Kyle. He had just gotten home from dinner at the Northside student café and was heading for his room. As was now his habit, when he got off the elevator he glanced down the hall towards Kyle’s room, and tonight he spotted a girl with purple hair just exiting. The door swung shut quickly and he didn’t get a look at Kyle.

He hesitated in the hallway, watching the girl approach. She was quite pretty but not the kind of girl he dated. Her eyes were heavily made up with purple shadow and lots of black liner, her nose and eyebrow were pierced, and she had a vine tattoo that wrapped around her neck and disappeared down her cleavage. Her outfit was goth-chic, complete with a black cincher, flowing skirt, and lace gloves. Her brow was furrowed and her eyes looked troubled. She glanced up but didn’t seem to notice him. She appeared deep in thought.

She’s a friend of Kyle’s and she’s worried about him, he guessed. His own worry ratcheted up, playing on the growing concerns he’d had since he’d last seen Kyle. Instead of going to his own room, he went to the other man’s, pausing in front of the door to gather his wits about him. He didn’t know what he was going to say, but he desperately wanted to see Kyle. He knocked on the door.

There was no answer. His nerves played havoc in his stomach while he waited. Several minutes went by before he had the courage to knock again.

“What do you need, Casey?” Kyle’s voice came through the door. “I’ve already told you, I’m not going. That’s final.”

“Hey Kyle, it’s Paul. I’d like to talk with you if that’s okay,” Paul called back.

The response was so long in coming that he started to feel foolish. Finally the door swung inward slightly, and Kyle filled the opening. The room behind him was very dark.

“What do you want?” Kyle asked. His eyes were heavily shadowed and his dark hair fell in lank curls around his face. He looked gaunt, like he hadn’t eaten in weeks. His gray t-shirt and darks sweats hung off his thin frame.

Paul was shocked by his appearance. He looked much less healthy than he had the last time Paul had seen him. “Uh … can I come in?” he asked.

Kyle looked at him curiously, a small frown furrowing his brow like he was trying to figure out what Paul had just said. He didn’t move to open the door any further.

Dark stubble shadowed Kyle’s cheeks, making him appear older and worldly. Paul took in his fine-boned face and over-large eyes. His eyes were brown today, appearing dark and enigmatic. He really is beautiful. His gaze fell to Kyle’s full lips, the subject of so many of his fantasies.

Kyle smirked without humor and swung the door open. Paul stepped in on automatic pilot. The room was stifling and dark, the only light coming from the glow of a laptop on Kyle’s cluttered bed. Paul realized that a blanket had been hung over the window. The room was a disaster. Books and papers were scattered across the desk and the bed, and the floor was liberally littered with clothes, shoes, and pieces of garbage.

Paul leaned against the door and Kyle stood a few feet away, his arms folded defensively across his chest. Paul stared at him, taking him in again. He looked … haunted.

“So what did you want to say?” Kyle asked, his voice taking on a sarcastic tone. “Or did you just come to stare at me? Or maybe to kiss me?” He raised an eyebrow.

That suggestion came as a shock to Paul, but his body responded instantly. His chest filled with heat and his cock started to plump. He took a step toward Kyle. It was hard to tell in the dim light, but he looked pale.

“I’ve been worried about you,” he said. “You … you don’t seem well.”

Kyle’s slightly sardonic expression didn’t change. “Yeah … well…” He snapped his mouth shut and looked at the floor. Finally he looked back up and asked, “What do you want Paul?”

“I … I wanted to see you.” Paul’s heart was beating too loudly in his chest. Kyle was obviously not doing well, and Paul needed to figure out how to make things better for him.

“Well, you’ve seen me,” Kyle responded shortly.

“Yes, but … I want…” Paul trailed off. He had been about to say he wanted to help Kyle, but he wasn’t sure that the young man would want his help.

“That’s what I thought,” Kyle said. He stepped into Paul’s space suddenly and grabbed his arms, pushing him back against the door. “You want to kiss me,” he said. Then his lips were on Paul’s, warm and demanding.

All the synapses in Paul’s brain fired at once, causing him to short circuit. It took a few seconds for the backup systems to come on line, and when they finally did he found that his arms were clutching Kyle’s slight body against his, and his lips were pressing firmly against the other man’s in a passionate kiss. He could feel Kyle’s lip ring, adding extra sensation to an already mind-blowing kiss. Kyle’s lips were soft and full, but not yielding; they were demanding. Challenging. Conquering. Paul felt dominated and a strange feeling of consent fluttered through him. He had never liked it when his dates tried to take control; aggression had always turned him off and made him pull away. But Kyle’s onslaught had him moaning with desire, needing more.

His hand came up and tangled in the Kyle’s hair, holding his head while his tongue thrust out and flicked over Kyle’s lip ring. Kyle parted his lips, and Paul’s tongue plunged into the other man’s sweet mouth, plundering it. He felt the rasp of Kyle’s rough cheek against his. He touched the side of Kyle’s face with his fingers, confirming the stubble. Oh God! I’m French-kissing a man! Instead of causing an instant panic as he would have expected, he was overwhelmed with a passion so hot he felt like he was going to burst into flames.

A moan came from deep in his throat. He became aware that his cock was fully engorged and ready to burst. Kyle’s body was pressed firmly against his and he felt an iron bar pushing against his thigh that could only be Kyle’s own erection.

This is too good. This is too much. His brain spun with sensation. He’d never been so turned on in his life. Finally the need to breath overcame his need to make Kyle swallow his tongue and he pulled away gasping for air.

“Dude!” Kyle’s voice was a low growl.

“Yeah,” Paul panted in agreement. Then his mouth was back on Kyle’s again, devouring him. His tongue snaked back inside the boy’s hot mouth and Kyle sucked on it, hard. Paul almost orgasmed right then. Kissing a woman had never been like this. Not even close.

Kyle let out a desperate whimper and began to hump against Paul. Paul felt the steel of another shaft against his own. It was better than his dreams. Oh God! Oh God! His balls drew up.

Suddenly Kyle pulled away, retreating quickly to the other side of the room. Paul felt bereft as cool air took the place of the warm body he’d had in his arms. His mind was in a sex-drunken daze. His cock was painfully hard in his sweats, and he was panting like he’d just run a mile at full speed.

He stared across the room at Kyle who was looking at him with an expression that Paul couldn’t read.

“Kyle…” Paul whispered. The longing in his voice was shocking in its intensity. Oh God! I want you so bad. I need … I need…

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that,” Kyle said.

Paul’s balls began to ache as his cock realized that orgasm was no longer imminent. He let out a small moan, closed his eyes, and leaned his head back against the door. His brain was still awash with lust. Heat flowed up and down his body. He took deep breaths trying to regain his control. He became aware that his underwear was damp; he’d been leaking precum. His dazed mind tried to analyze what just happened. He’d never been so out-of-control turned-on in his life. He hadn’t even realized it was possible.

“I’m sorry, dude” he heard Kyle say. “Are you okay?”

He opened his eyes and looked at him. He was standing at the far end of the room looking worried.

“I’m…” The first word came out so gravelly it was almost incomprehensible. Paul swallowed, took a deep breath, and tried again. “I’m fine.” Better. Still raspy. Fuck, I am so turned on right now a breath of wind would cause me to blow.

Kyle sat down in his desk chair and put his head in his hands. “I’m really sorry, Paul. I … I don’t know what else to say.”

“Why did you do that?” Paul asked.

Kyle glanced up at him, and his eyes were full of guilt. “It was wrong of me. I’m sorry.”

“I’m not mad. I just want to know why.”

Kyle picked a pen up off his desk and began to twiddle it between his fingers. “I wanted to.” He quickly followed this assertion with clarification, his words spilling out one after another. “That’s part of it. I mean, you’re fucking gorgeous, of course I wanted to.” He glanced briefly at Paul as if to gauge his reaction, then looked at the pen in his hands again. “But part of it is I thought you might want to too. I mean, when I saw you at the door, the way you looked at me, I thought you wanted to kiss me. And I guess I wanted to find out whether or not you’d like it. Whether you were just a bit curious or really gay.”

“Really gay,” Paul echoed, still trying to sort his thoughts.

Kyle looked up at him, and his eyes slid to the wet spot on Paul’s sweats where his still-swollen cock had leaked. “I’d say definitely,” he said.

Oh hell! Paul stumbled a few steps and sank down on the bed, leaning forward with his hands on his knees staring at the floor.

“I’m sorry,” Kyle said again. “I shouldn’t have done that. It was wrong. I never should have pushed…”

“No, it’s okay,” Paul interrupted. “I … it’s something I needed to know about myself. I’ve never … fuck! I can’t believe…” Paul had been about to say he couldn’t believe how turned on he’d been, but somehow he couldn’t get the words out. “I’ve known I was attracted to guys for a long time. I’ve never acted on it. I didn’t realize it would be so … intense.”

“Yeah, intense,” Kyle said.

“Is it always like that?”

“No.” Kyle met his eye and something sparked between them causing a flush in Paul’s chest. “It’s not.”

Oh. Paul didn’t know what to think of that. He needed time to process what had just happened. Suddenly he realized something hard was jabbing him in his butt cheek. He shifted and pulled a book out from under him.

“Oh!” Kyle was suddenly on his feet. He leaned over and grabbed something from off the bed behind Paul. Paul caught a glimpse of a black rubber object in Kyle’s hands as he yanked open a desk drawer and dropped it inside. He slammed the drawer shut and looked at Paul apprehensively.

Paul’s brain took a second to process what he’d seen, and when it did, his eyes widened. Was that a butt plug that Kyle just hid? Paul’s cock, which had started to soften, was rapidly filling again. He choked back a moan as a zing of pain shot through his confused balls. Fuck! Was it really a butt plug? How hot is that?

Kyle must have seen something in Paul’s expression, for he averted his eyes and his face flushed. “Sorry my room is such a mess,” he mumbled, sitting down in the chair again and still not meeting Paul’s eye.

“Yeah, last time I was here you must have just cleaned it.”

“Usually I keep it clean. It’s just lately I … haven’t.”

Paul glanced up at Kyle sharply. The overwhelming experience of kissing Kyle had pulled his mind away from his reason for being here, but clearly the young man was having issues. He was probably suffering from PTSD. “Have you been to talk to anyone about what happened?”

“You mean like a counselor?”

“Yeah. There’s a hotline you can call. You don’t even have to go in to see anyone.”

“No,” Kyle said, seeming to fold in on himself. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Paul felt helpless. He could see that Kyle needed help but if he didn’t want it, what could he do? “You should talk to someone about it,” he said gently. “It will make you feel better.”

Kyle shrugged, his eyes on the floor.

Paul noticed two bottles of prescription medication sitting on the desk next to the bed. He picked them up and discovered that the antibiotics bottle was empty, but the pain medication still had quite few pills in it. “You didn’t take all your pain meds,” he said, setting the bottles back down.

“Yeah,” Kyle said, pushing his lank hair back from his face. “I don’t like the way they make me feel.”

Paul almost teased him with, “If you take three at a time, what can you expect?” but he thought the better of it and said nothing. At least Kyle wasn’t on drugs. Or at least not on prescription drugs. Paul examined him closely.

He was dirty. There was a spot on his t-shirt. His hair was greasy. Paul remembered touching it. At the time he hadn’t noticed, but thinking of it now, his hair had definitely felt dirty, and he had a stronger body odor than he should have had.

“How long has it been since you’ve taken a shower?” he asked.

Kyle’s head jerked up and he looked at Paul with a deer-in-the-headlights look. It took him a while to answer. He finally wet his lips and said, “A few days.”

“A few?” Paul challenged. He looked like he hadn’t showered in at least a week.

“Well … maybe a bit longer,” Kyle hedged.

Suddenly it hit Paul. Kyle was raped in the shower. He was afraid to go back there. “You haven’t had a shower since you were attacked, have you?”

Kyle stiffened. “I’ve … I’ve washed off in the sink,” he said in a small voice.

“Oh Kyle!” Paul’s heart felt like it was being squeezed in a vice.

Kyle glared him. “I’m fine,” he said huffily.

“You’re not fine,” Paul said, jumping to his feet and starting to pace. He had to  kick some of clothes, shoes, and a Frisbee out of the way to do it. “You won’t come out of your room…” This was a guess, but Kyle didn’t deny it. “You’re afraid to take a shower. You’re not cleaning up after yourself—your room’s a disaster. You’re hiding in here in the dark.” As he said this last bit, he went to window and pulled the nail out of the wall that was holding up one side of the blanket. He let the make-shift curtain drop open and city light spilled in. “You need help, Kyle.”

Kyle was silent for a few seconds, his jaw clenched. Then he said, “I’m thinking of getting out of here. I’ll see if I can get into Evergreen or somewhere else for next semester.”

“No, Kyle!” Paul immediate reaction was devastation. He had finally found someone that he was … what? He didn’t know, but he wanted to explore what they’d started. He definitely wanted to find out where they could take it. He didn’t want Kyle to leave. He almost dropped to his knees in front of Kyle and took his hands, but luckily his filter kicked in in time for once and instead he plopped down on the bed again and leaned forward. “You can’t drop out!”

“I’m not dropping out. I’m just transferring. To somewhere that’s a bit more gay-friendly.”

Oh hell!

Paul tried to look at the situation objectively. Is it in Kyle’s best interest to transfer? Would he really be happier someplace else?

“Do you have friends here?” he asked. “Do you like the academic program? How much is it going to put you behind to transfer?”

Kyle sighed. “I do have friends here. So far, I mean, up until I was assaulted, I’ve really been enjoying this school. Sure, there’s a few things I don’t like, but for the most part I’ve had a hell of a good time, and I’m learning cool stuff. I don’t know how much it would put me behind to transfer. It might already be too late to get in for next semester and that would put me a year behind. My parents would not be happy about that, but I could get a job and work meanwhile.”

Paul’s heart sank. It seemed like Kyle had already given it a lot of thought. “It seems kind of drastic. I mean … I’m not trying to minimize what happened to you. God! But I’m not sure running away is the answer.”

“I’m not running away,” Kyle said. “I’m just moving to a safer environment.”

Paul didn’t know what to say about that. He had never felt unsafe at WSU, but he wasn’t openly gay either. “Why don’t you take this one step at a time?” he said. “Don’t do anything major just yet—give it a few more weeks before you make up your mind. Why don’t I go with you to take a shower? That way you won’t be alone in the shower area.”

“You’d do that?”

“Well, yeah. It’s no big deal. I can be in the next stall over; I have to shower too sometimes.” Paul usually took his shower at the gym after practice, but Kyle didn’t need to know that.

“Um…” Kyle looked uncertain.

“Even if you do decide to transfer, that will take some time, and you need a shower, like, yesterday dude.”

Kyle sniffed his armpit and grimaced. “Yeah, I do.”

“Okay, I’ll go get my bathroom things and meet you there.”

Kyle’s eyes widened and he drew in a sharp breath. “Not tonight,” he said quickly. “I … I’ve got stuff to do.”

Paul eyed him skeptically. He didn’t believe Kyle was going anywhere, that was for sure, but he didn’t want to challenge him. If he needed another day, fine.

“Okay. Tomorrow night then. I don’t have time until later in the day.”

“Yes. Tomorrow evening is good.”

“Do you want me to call you after dinner or just come by?”

“I’ll give you my number.”

They exchanged numbers, and then, not having an excuse to linger, Paul said good-bye.

No sooner had he left Kyle’s room than the memory of the kiss slammed into him and he found himself panting with desire. Shit! I’m definitely gay and definitely have the major hots for Kyle. What the hell am I going to do?

****

“R u coming?” Paul typed into his phone. The tile floor was cold on his bare feet and he wanted to hop into a warm shower, but he was waiting for Kyle to get there first. They had agreed to meet at eight in the shower area. He had brought his phone with him, which he usually didn’t do, but he thought that Kyle might try to skip out and wanted to be able to reach him. Kyle was ten minutes late.

“brt,” was Kyle’s response. Cool. He’s coming. I don’t have to go track him down.

Paul’s thoughts had been in a whirl all day, bouncing back forth between worry over Kyle’s mental state, and excitement and dread over what he’d discovered about himself. He knew he wanted to see more of Kyle. He definitely wanted to kiss him again, but he was terrified of the potential consequences of starting a relationship with him. What if his teammates found out? Would he be kicked off the team? He didn’t think they could do that legally, but they could make his so life miserable that he wouldn’t want to stay. He wasn’t major-league material, but he loved football. It was his life.

And what if his parents found out? How would they react? He had a close relationship with them, but they were quite conservative. They went to church every Sunday. He really had no idea how he would tell them or what they would do or say.

He’d stewed over possible scenarios until he’d gotten so stressed out that he’d come to the conclusion that the only sensible course of action was to not see Kyle again. However, that solution felt completely unacceptable. It felt wrong—so wrong that when he thought about shunning Kyle it physically hurt, causing an ache deep in his chest. Kyle needed him, and he needed Kyle too.

Every time he remembered the toe-curling kiss he’d shared with Kyle, his body flushed hot and cold. He wanted more. He needed more. This was the most alive he’d ever felt. He’d just have to figure out how to keep their relationship on the down low. He had to convince Kyle that he was worth having even if they had to hide. As he sat on the bench in the changing cubicle, his stomach churned into butter.

He heard flip flops slapping in the shower area, and he poked his head out. Kyle was coming toward him wearing shorts and a t-shirt and carrying his bathroom bag and a towel. His eyes looked over-large and his face was pale. When he saw Paul he gave him a small, forced smile.

“Hey, glad you made it,” Paul said.

“Yeah, thanks for being here. I feel like kind of a wuss.”

“You can’t even think that. You’re definitely not a wuss.”

Kyle walked past him and entered the next stall. Paul pulled his curtain closed and slipped out of his shorts and t-shirt. Starting the water up in his shower, he shivered while he waited for it to warm then gratefully stepped under the spray.

He’d finished shampooing and rinsing his hair when he realized that he didn’t hear Kyle’s shower running. He cocked his head and listened carefully. There was definitely only one shower running. He stepped out and grabbed his towel, using it to dry off his face and then wrapping it around his waist. “Kyle?” he called just loud enough to be heard.

There was no answer, and he wondered if Kyle had chickened out and left while he was showering. He cursed himself for not making sure his friend was doing okay before taking care of himself. He stepped out of his changing stall and stood in front of Kyle’s. “Kyle?” he called again softly.

“Yeah,” Kyle responded. His voice sounded odd. Strained.

“Can … can I come in?” Paul moved the curtain aside even as he asked the question. Kyle was huddled on the bench with his knees pulled up to his chest. He was still wearing his clothes. He looked miserable and frightened.

“Oh, Kyle! Come here,” Paul said, stepping up to the other man and urging him to his feet with a firm hand under his arm. Kyle stood without resistance and Paul pulled him into a hug. Kyle started to shake.

“I’m sorry,” Kyle said, “I’m such an idiot.” He clung tightly to Paul, hiding his face in Paul’s shoulder.

“Shhhh. No, you’re not. This is perfectly understandable.” Paul stroked Kyle’s back soothingly. It suddenly struck him that they were in the cube where Kyle had been attacked. “We probably should have put you in a different stall.” Still keeping one arm around Kyle, he grabbed the other man’s towel and bathroom bag. “Come on.”

His arm around Kyle’s waist, he led the shivering man out of the end cubicle and into the one he was using. “Here. I’ll be right here with you. It’ll be okay.”

The water was still running in his shower. Clouds of steam rose up off the tile floor, dampening their skin.

Kyle looked up at him and took a deep breath. The fear in his expressive brown eyes seemed to melt away. The tension left his shoulders. His gaze travelled down Paul’s chest and his eyes widened slightly. He reached out a hand and placed it on Paul’s hip, running a thumb back and forth across his stomach.

Paul shivered with the touch, but tried to focus on Kyle. “You okay now?”

Kyle nodded and then gave Paul a tentative smile. “Your abs are amazing, you know that?”

Paul wasn’t sure how to respond to that comment. He’d gotten similar complements from girls and they always made him uncomfortable. Hearing this from Kyle caused his heart to thud happily.

He turned his attention to taking care of Kyle. He was standing close enough to smell, and although Paul liked the scent of fresh man-sweat, stale man-sweat was not one of his favorites. “Let’s get you in the shower,” he said, reaching for the hem on Kyle’s shirt.

Kyle helped, pulling the shirt off over his head.

Paul couldn’t help but peruse Kyle’s bare chest. He looked thinner than he had been ten days earlier, but his skin was pale and flawless and his nipples stood out in dark peaks. A treasure trail of sparse dark hair ran from below his belly button into his shorts. His hips were narrow and his stomach was flat. Paul’s mouth went dry. Kyle was exquisite.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Kyle asked the corners of his mouth pulling up in a small, teasing smile. He had apparently noticed Paul’s appreciation of his form.

Paul blushed. “No, it’s probably not a good idea. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s a bad idea.”

“I like being bad,” Kyle responded, and as if to prove that were true, he slipped off his shorts and underwear in one quick movement.

Paul quickly averted his eyes. This was not supposed to be sexual. He was supposed to be helping Kyle.

“I’ve healed up really well,” Kyle said. At that comment Paul glanced at him curiously and automatically followed Kyle’s gaze down to his cock. He was holding it out, apparently to show Paul the small purplish scar where his Prince Albert had been.

Paul blanched as he looked at Kyle’s healed wound, but he couldn’t help but notice that his circumcised cock was half hard. It was a lovely, dusky color with a perfectly shaped mushroom head, and as Paul watched it visibly plumped and lengthened.

Oh God! Paul swallowed and tore his gaze away. His own cock was hard already and tenting his towel. He turned his back on Kyle in embarrassment, and he heard Kyle chuckle softly as he stepped under the shower spray.

Paul stood facing away from him and taking deep breaths, trying to get his libido under control. It didn’t help that Kyle let out a long low groan and drawled in a sultry voice, “This feels so good.”

A few moments later Kyle said, “You look cold. Come in here with me.” Paul felt Kyle’s wet hand on his arm, tugging him toward the shower. He stumbled forward, caught himself on the threshold, and found himself looking into Kyle’s teasing eyes. There were flecks of gold and green mixed in with the brown.

“You’d better take off your towel before it gets wet,” Kyle said.

Paul glanced down. The bottom of his towel was indeed getting wet in the spray, but what mortified him was that his hard cock was clearly visible under the towel. Then he caught sight of Kyle’s cock. It was fully engorged, long and slender and curving slightly to the left.

Oh God!

“Come on, get in,” Kyle whispered. “I need some help.” Kyle’s arm was still on Paul’s and he tugged again, urging Paul into the shower. With a silent groan of surrender, Paul yanked off his towel and tossed it onto the bench. Then he was under the warm spray standing inches away from Kyle’s naked wetness. He felt dizzy. His brain promptly melted and ran out through the drain at his feet.

Kyle was holding his hand and smiling up at him with those gorgeous lips. Paul did what came naturally, what he’d been thinking about doing all day, and bent over to kiss Kyle. Their lips met with a crush, and then Kyle was in his arms and his hands were running over smooth, wet skin. Kyle’s tongue swept into his mouth and he sucked on it, delighting in the unrestrained groan that he drew from Kyle.

He felt Kyle’s hands on his ass, squeezing and urging him more tightly against him. He gasped as he felt Kyle’s hard shaft rub against his. His knees went weak, and he pushed Kyle against the wall of the shower to give them something to lean against. His tongue invaded Kyle’s hot mouth and his hips pushed forward into Kyle’s starting up a rhythm. Apparently his body didn’t need a brain to direct it. Their cocks rubbed together in a delicious dance of ecstasy as Kyle met his thrusts.

He was spiraling, spiraling … too out of control to even realize he was out of control. Someone was moaning long and low and someone else was begging, “Oh, please … please,” in a desperate whisper. As he felt his balls tightening he realized he was the one begging, but he was too far gone to even be embarrassed. Then Kyle grabbed both their shafts in one of his hands and started to stroke. It was all over for Paul then. He buried his scream in Kyle’s wet hair as his body convulsed, slamming against Kyle’s.

The orgasm surged up his spine and down his limbs with scorching speed, burning everything in its wake. He felt like he was spontaneously combusting. Heat burst from his cock in a raging torrent. When his body and brain were finally reunited, battered and shaken, he became aware that Kyle was still pumping their cocks, breathing raggedly, his body rigid. Paul’s cock was too sensitive and he started to pull away, but then caught sight of Kyle’s face and his own discomfort was forgotten.

Kyle’s head was thrown back and his eyes were slits. His lips parted and Paul heard his breath panting in and out. Then he caught his lower lip between his teeth as his face scrunched in ecstasy. A long low moan escaped him as his hips thrust forward into his hand and Paul felt his hot seed splashing onto his lower abdomen and cock. Paul had never seen one of his lovers orgasm and the experience was ethereal. At that moment Kyle was the most beautiful, powerful creature in the world, and Paul became his slave. He would sell his soul to have that perfect moment again.

Then they were hugging and panting and Kyle started to laugh, but quietly. Paul grinned and nuzzled the side of his neck, then kissed up his jawline as his hand came out and held Kyle’s head in place. His lips found Kyle’s and they kissed again passionately, but they had to break apart to gasp for air all too soon. They were both still out of breath.

“I’m sorry. I hope you’re not upset about that. I … I got carried away,” Kyle said.

“No. I’m not upset. Overwhelmed maybe, but in a good way.”

“Good, I was worried you’d be mad.”

“Why would I be mad?” Paul pulled a little away from Kyle and studied his face. Kyle looked happy. Happier than Paul had yet seen him. Warmth crept through his chest and he smiled.

“Well, because I seduced you. You obviously haven’t done this before and I probably pushed you into something you didn’t want.” Kyle looked away, his face flushing in shame.

“Hey!” Paul put his fingers on Kyle’s chin and gently turned his face back to look at him. “I did want this. I’m fine with this. I want this and so much more.” Kyle’s eyes widened and Paul pressed a kiss onto his sensuous lips, nipping playfully at the bottom one. Then he thought about what Kyle had just said and pulled back.

“Did you plan this whole thing?” he asked in astonishment. “I mean, were you faking being afraid?”

Kyle looked startled for a fraction of a second, and then his eyes turned bitter. “No. No, that wasn’t just an act. The fear was real.” He shuddered and Paul gathered him more tightly into his arms. “It’s just, as soon as I was in here with you, and you were wearing nothing but a towel, and your chest and arms are so … and your stomach…” He paused and grinned up at Paul. “Let’s just say you were the perfect distraction. I completely forgot I was afraid, and starting focusing on how to get my hands on your gorgeous tool.”

“You can handle my tool anytime,” Paul said in a low voice, bumping his hip gently into Kyle’s. That action caused both of them to gasp. Paul felt a twinge in his balls as his cock started to fill again.

“I think I’d better get cleaned up before something else happens,” Kyle said with a small laugh.

While Kyle was pouring shampoo into his hand, something else occurred to Paul. “Was it that obvious that I’ve never done this before?”

Kyle smiled at him. “No. You were great—very turned on, which was a turn-on for me as well. It’s just the things you said yesterday about never having acted on your attraction to men before … I assumed you’d never done this with a guy, until now.”

“Yes, you’re right. And I’ve got lost time to make up for.” Paul smiled as he pumped some body soap onto this palm and slid it across Kyle’s bare torso. Kyle’s hands were busy washing his hair, but he shuddered in delight. Paul was in heaven soaping up Kyle’s body slowly and sensuously, and by the time he was finished they were both hard again—and he hadn’t even touched Kyle’s cock or balls.

“So, I think you missed a few spots,” Kyle said with a smug grin, wiggling his hips suggestively.

“Uh … if I go there I think we’ll end up … having sex again and I’m not sure the shower is the best place for that.”

“Oh, you’re right,” Kyle said, sounding disappointed. Then he waggled his eyebrows at Paul. “Do you want to come back to my room?”

At the prospect of being naked and horizontal with a clean, dry Kyle, his cock bobbed and a drop of precum leaked out of his slit.

“I think at least part of me thinks that’s an excellent idea,” he said with a rueful smile.

“What about the rest of you?”

“Oh, I think the rest of me has been bound and gagged and stuffed into a trunk. My cock is clearly in charge right now. Let’s go.”

****

Paul floated through the next couple of days in a lustful haze. He’d been infatuated with Kyle before. Now he was positively obsessed. Unfortunately they were both insanely busy. He’d had a game Saturday that Kyle came to, but he hadn’t seen him during the game. Just knowing he was watching made him nervous, but as soon as he started playing, his head was in the game. His parents had come to watch as well, and they had taken him to dinner afterwards, so he hadn’t seen Kyle.

When Paul got home Saturday night, Kyle had been out with friends, and on Sunday when Paul would have had the time to see him, Kyle was tied up working on a group project.

They had been texting back and forth like crazy, teasing each other to the point where Paul had to be careful where he was when checked his messages, because Kyle seemed to have the ability to make him instantly rock hard.

Their amazing shower had been followed by an equally amazing exchange of blow jobs in Kyle’s room. Paul had been pleased to discover that Kyle had cleaned his bedroom, and he’d felt like a blushing virgin when Kyle had led him over to his bed and pushed him down on it. But his nervousness had disappeared the minute Kyle had started to nuzzle his cock through his shorts. It had to have been the shortest blow job in history though, because by the time Kyle pulled his shorts off and started licking him, he’d been so turned on that he didn’t last three seconds when Kyle actually started to suck.

He’d insisted on reciprocating. Even though he’d never given a blowjob, he’d imagined it plenty of times. Kyle’s cock had been a delight: hard and glistening, but covered in silky skin. He’d traced the veins with his tongue and swirled around the head, delving into his slit to taste his precum. Kyle hadn’t held back on his sounds of pleasure, and they had spurred Paul on. It was heady to be able to make someone lose control, and Kyle definitely went under, writhing and moaning. He’d been reduced to begging by the time Paul put his lips around the head of his cock and slid it as far back into his throat as he could. It only took a few bobs before Kyle pulled him off and ejaculated all over his stomach. Paul had been a bit disappointed that Kyle hadn’t come in his mouth, but he consoled himself with cleaning off Kyle’s stomach with his tongue while listening to Kyle’s happy, breathless giggles.

The whole evening had been magical and Paul had been able to think of nothing but Kyle since then. It was Monday now and they had agreed to shower together again that evening. Paul couldn’t wait.

They hadn’t talked about where they were going with their relationship. Kyle knew he was in the closet, and Paul trusted him not to tell anyone about them. At the same time, he felt guilty for wanting to hide the wonderful thing he and Kyle had started. He told himself it was just for a while. He wasn’t sure how long it would be before he felt brave enough to come out to the world, but he knew, for Kyle, he’d do anything. He wasn’t saying the “L” word, not even to himself, but in the afterglow of their amazing sex, he’d felt a closeness to Kyle that he’d never felt with anyone before.

“Earth to Paul! Hello!” Dale was suddenly in his face waving his hands.

Paul started and then smiled sheepishly at Dale. “What?”

“You are a thousand miles away, dude. What is going on in that head of yours?” Dale pushed through the door that led to the student café.

Paul followed on his heels, trying to think of what he should tell Dale about his state of mind, if anything. “I’m starving,” he said, changing the subject. He jumped in line in front of Dale, grinning at him.

Dale just shook his head, laughing. “I’ll figure it out, you know. I’m smarter than I look; I’m not just a dumb jock.”

A hot spike of fear flashed through Paul at that statement. Dale would figure it out, he knew, and probably before he was ready. Then his attention went to the food. He got two sandwiches, ham and roast beef, chips, an apple, and a couple of cartons of milk. He hadn’t had anything to eat since seven a.m., and it was already twelve-fifteen. As he stood in the queue to show his meal card, he glanced around the room and froze.

Kyle was there. His back was to him, but Paul recognized him immediately. He was sitting at a table across from the purple-haired girl who was laughing at something he’d just said.

He felt something nudge him in his back and realized that Dale had just poked him because he was up next and hadn’t noticed. He let the girl scan his card, and after picking up flatware and a napkin, he strode boldly over to where Kyle was sitting and set his tray down next to him.

“Do you mind if we join you?” he asked. Suddenly his heart was in his throat. His relationship with Kyle was too new, and he didn’t know what Kyle’s reaction would be to seeing him in public.

But he needn’t have worried. Kyle’s smile could have lit up the dark side of the moon. “Of course not. Please!”

Kyle introduced him to his friend Casey, and when Dale joined them just a moment later, Paul introduced him as well. After shooting Kyle a quick, confused look, Dale turned his attention to Casey. It was obvious from his body language that he thought she was hot.

Paul let Dale and Casey carry most of the conversation. He was too busy stuffing his face. He was acutely aware of Kyle sitting next to him, almost close enough to feel the heat from his body. He tried to keep from staring at the man, but it was difficult. He just wanted to devour him. Eight hours seemed like too long to wait to have his hands on Kyle again.

Because he was so attuned to Kyle, he noticed immediately when the young man’s whole body stiffened. He glanced up at him to discover that his face was pale and his eyes were wide with fear. He started to tremble.

“What is it?” he asked quietly.

“It’s them,” Kyle whispered. “I recognize their voices. Oh God!” His trembling increased as tears sprang into his eyes. He glanced around, panicked, looking as if he were about to jump to his feet and bolt for the door.

Paul placed a calming hand on Kyle’s arm while he looked over his shoulder at the table behind them where three young men had just sat down. He recognized Jimmy, Pete, and Conrad from the football team. He already knew that Conrad was loud-mouthed bigot. His opinion of Jimmy wasn’t very high either: he was a brown-noser. Pete he didn’t know well. He was shocked by Kyle’s allegations, though—by the thought that people he knew, his teammates, could have done such a violent and despicable thing.

“Are you sure?” he asked with much more calmness than he felt.

Kyle was obviously losing control over himself. His body was vibrating with tension and he was blinking hard to keep tears from spilling down his cheeks. The look on his face was one of such blind fear that it reached into Paul and grabbed him by the intestines, twisting.

Kyle nodded. “Positive,” he whispered.

A grenade of fury exploded inside of Paul. The world around him went red as his vision tunneled. He jumped to his feet, whirled around, and accosted Conrad, who was the closest and likely the ring leader of the group. Grabbing him by his shirt, he hauled him to his feet, and then threw a right hook that sent him sprawling across the table in a clatter of dishes. He didn’t wait for Conrad to react but leapt on top of him, fists flying.

“What the hell, Paul!” he heard Dale cry.

Conrad finally found his arms and started to fight back. They rolled off the table onto the floor. Conrad landed on top and even though he was bigger and it hurt like hell, Paul was so angry, he barely noticed. Getting some leverage with his feet, he rolled Conrad so that he was on top again. Blood flowed from Conrad’s nose but Paul didn’t hesitate to punch him again as hard as he could.

He felt hands on him, trying to pull him off, heard voices around him telling him to stop. He punched Conrad again. Conrad gave up trying to fight back and pulled his hands in front of his face, trying to keep the blows from raining down on him. Paul got in two more shots before he was pulled to his feet away from Conrad. He realized that Dale had one arm and Pete had the other. They were both big guys, but they were hard-pressed to hold him as he fought to get loose.

“You fucking bigoted piece of shit,” he screamed. “You’re a fucking intolerant asshole, rapist, mother-fucker. I’m gonna kill you!”

“Paul!” Dale’s voice was shocked.

Paul was still struggling with all his strength, and managed to pull an arm free from Dales’ grip. He hauled back and socked Pete in the face with everything he had. “You’re one too, aren’t you, you fucker?” he screamed. Blood coursed hot through his veins. The memory of finding Kyle sobbing on the cold shower floor in the aftermath of their vicious attack fueled his rage. He wanted to see all of them lying in pieces on the ground.

“That’s enough boy!” Suddenly Paul found himself in a headlock. He twisted and fought ferociously, but whoever had him from behind knew what they were doing, and he was caught fast.

He could still yell though, and yell he did. “You fucking homophobic assholes. You don’t deserve to live!”

“Settle down, settle down,” the authoritative voice of whoever had him in the headlock rang out.

“Why do you care?” Pete retorted. His face was red and his lip was split. “You’re a fucking ass bandit too aren’t you? Oh, is this your boyfriend?” he asked in asked in falsetto voice. He pointed at Kyle who was standing there wide-eyed and pale.

“Yes he is,” Paul screamed. “He’s my fucking boyfriend, and if you ever even look at him again I’m going shred you into little pieces and feed you to my dog!”

Suddenly the room became deathly silent. Paul registered what he’d just said. On some level he realized he’d just outed himself to a whole room of people, several of whom were on the football team with him. He thought, oh hell! I’m going to be sorry about this later, aren’t I? But at that moment, he didn’t care. He was proud to claim Kyle as his boyfriend.

“Dude!” That was Dale’s shocked voice. He was still holding onto one of Paul’s arms. Paul had stopped struggling to get away, realizing it was useless.

“He knocked out my fuckin toof!” Conrad wailed. Paul looked at him. He was still sprawled on the floor. His face was starting to puff up and blood ran liberally from his nose, drenching the front of his t-shirt. He leaned over and spat blood onto the linoleum.

“That’s not all the body pieces you’ll be losing, you fucking slimeball,” Paul yelled. He started struggling again to get away. “If I get my hands on you again, you’re going to be sorry you were ever born.”

“Hey, hey!” the person who had him in a headlock shook him. “Settle down. No one is going to doing anything to anyone. You’ll be lucky if you’re not expelled,” he added.

“Well they’re going to jail for a long time,” Paul yelled. “You assholes are in big trouble.”

“Yeah. Let’s see you prove anything, you fucking faggot,” Conrad hissed.

“I think I can prove that’s my Prince Albert ring you have on a chain around your neck, you pervert.” This came from Kyle, and Paul’s head snapped up to look at him. He was pale and tight-lipped, but his eyes were flashing. Casey had her arms around him as if she were holding him up.

The man who had Paul in a headlock shifted his grip, and suddenly Paul felt his hands being pulled back and the press of cold metal around his wrists as handcuffs snapped into place. A streak of fear ran through him followed immediately by a wave of anger at the injustice of arresting him for throwing a few punches when these three were felons.

He was about to start protesting when Kyle spoke up again. “I think you have the wrong person in cuffs,” he said. His voice was clear and steady. “I’d like to press rape and assault charges against all three of these men.”

There was a dramatic silence and then pandemonium broke loose. The crowd that had gathered all started talking at once, excitedly. Jimmy bolted, running for the side exit. Dale went after him and caught him before he was halfway to the door, tackling him easily to the ground. After all, Dale was a first-string tackle and Jimmy was a fourth string guard.

The man who’d had him in a headlock moved out from behind him, and Paul saw that he was campus security. He grabbed Pete by the arm and said, “Don’t even think about it.”

Paul glanced over his shoulder and saw that the person who had handcuffed him was a cop. He caught sight of the cop’s partner, who was a stocky female with extremely short hair and an implacable expression. She snapped cuffs on Pete, then went over and cuffed Jimmy as well.

Several other security guards and two more city police arrived just then, pouring into the room like an invading army.

Paul was starting to calm down. He looked at Kyle, but the boy’s attention was on Conrad who was quietly throwing up. He wasn’t in any condition to run.

The dyke cop led Jimmy back over to the group. He looked like he was about to cry.

“So you’re pressing charges against these men?” she asked.

One of the cops who had just arrived spoke up just then, and Paul recognized him as one who had interviewed him at the hospital. “We have an active investigation for the assault,” he said. He indicated Kyle. “This young man went into the clinic immediately after it happened. It was a hate crime.”

The barrel-shaped woman smiled tightly. “Some of us take hate crimes very seriously.” She was still holding Jimmy, and she must have done something to him at that point, because he whimpered in pain.

“Yes, I’m filing charges,” Kyle said. “I recognize all of their voices. I’m sure it was them.”

“What about him?” the dyke asked, indicating Paul.

“Oh, you can let him go,” Kyle said. “He’s my boyfriend.”

They didn’t let Paul go it turns out, but as they led him away in handcuffs he could not keep the shit-eating grin off his face. Kyle had called him his boyfriend.

*****

Tammy’s grin could not have been bigger as Kyle slid into the seat next to her in economics class. She leaned over and whispered in his ear, “So you’re gay, huh?”

Paul felt color flushing his cheeks. He was so not ready to be out yet, but out he was. He nodded. The instructor was already starting class, so luckily he didn’t have to say anything else.

Tammy kept casting smug but happy glances his way as class progressed. She definitely didn’t seem mad at him, which was a relief. The reactions of his friends had run the gamut from angry, to hurt, to sympathetic. One of the other guys on the football team, a huge, mild-mannered black man, had pulled him aside and confessed that he was gay too, but wasn’t planning on coming out the closet. Paul had laughed at that and said, “I hadn’t planned to come out of the closet either.”

As soon as the professor wrapped up his lecture, Tammy turned to Paul and asked, “Can I buy you a latte? Do you have time?” And when Paul looked hesitant, she added, “Please?”

“All right. I’ve got a couple hours before I need to be at practice.”

“Wonderful!” Tammy grinned at him brilliantly, and Paul wondered again why she was suddenly being so friendly. She had been polite but standoffish ever since their embarrassing date.

As they walked together to the café, she said, “You don’t know how relieved I was when I found out you were gay.”

Paul looked at her in confusion, and she laughed.

“I thought it was me. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I mean, I thought you were shy and just needed to be led, but then that didn’t work at all, did it?”

Paul felt his face turning red again.

“I mean, the expression on your face when I took off my shirt!” Tammy continued, giggling. “Oh my God! It’s funny now, but at the time I couldn’t figure out what was so disgusting. I thought maybe you were religious or something, but we’d already talked about that so I knew you weren’t a prude. I kept thinking something was wrong with me. It never occurred to me that you were gay.”

“Yeah,” Paul said, taking a deep breath. “I’m sorry, I never should have asked you out.”

“Why did you anyway?” She pushed through the door into the café. Paul was happy to follow her in out of the wind. The weather had suddenly turned, becoming brisk, but it was sunny and Paul hadn’t thought to wear a coat.

“Uh … I was still hoping that I was at least bi. You were my last chance to prove to myself that I liked girls. You’re beautiful and smart and fun. I thought surely if I was ever going to get together with a girl, it would be you.”

“Awww, that’s so sweet. But obviously that didn’t work.”

“No, that’s about the time I figured out I was definitely gay.”

“Well, I’m flattered.” She narrowed her eyes as if she had just thought of something. “So you weren’t dating Kyle then?”

“Oh, no!” Paul was surprised by the question. “I’d never do that—ask you out if I was already dating a guy. I met him later—on the same night of our date actually.”

“Oh. That’s so horrible, what happened to him.”

Paul definitely didn’t want to talk about that. They were standing in line for a drink, and just then it was Tammy’s turn to order, so Paul was able to gracefully ignore her comment.

Paul put in his order and they talked about inconsequential things while they waited for their drinks to be made, then Tammy led the way to a table in the corner.

Paul noticed several of the students around him eyeing him surreptitiously as he followed her. He still had a black eye—he hadn’t even felt it when Conrad had gotten in his one lucky punch. The past few days he’d been treated as a minor celebrity by most of the other students, although a few had quietly scorned him. He hoped it would all blow over soon.

Tammy shrugged out of her purple wool coat and took a seat. Paul sat across from her.

“So, what’s going to happen to those assholes who assaulted your boyfriend?” she asked, taking a sip of her caramel latte.

“They’re all expelled. They were booked on assault and rape charges and subsequently released on bail.”

“Do you think they’ll get off?” she asked. “That would be such a miscarriage of justice if they do.”

“Oh, I think that’s unlikely. Once the cops had suspects, they were able to match their prints with prints on the some of the evidence. And when they got a positive match for Pete’s semen, he spilled his guts, blaming Conrad as the instigator. That I don’t doubt.”

Tammy’s eyes widened. “Wow. I can’t imagine those guys thinking they could get away with it.”

“They might have if Kyle didn’t have such a good memory for voices. It also helped that he’d gone to the clinic and talked to the police immediately after it happened.”

“And what about you? Are you being charged with anything?”

Paul took a sip of his mocha before he answered, “Conrad wanted to press assault charges against me, but the butch cop talked him out of it. I think it may have been part of a plea-bargain to reduce the charges against him. I personally would rather have faced assault charges and have them throw the book at Conrad, but I didn’t get any say in it. In any case, no one’s pressing charges against me, which I guess is good thing.” Otherwise for sure my parents would find out that I’m gay, he added to himself.

“So you’re still on the football team if you’re going to practice. That’s great.”

“Yeah. I’m on probation and I’ve been suspended from playing for three games because of the fight. Coach Williams is furious with me, but you know, I think he’s more upset about losing so many players from the team—Pete and Conrad are both solid players—than he is about me being gay. He told me that my sexual orientation should be no one’s concern except my own, but he didn’t want me to bring it into the locker room. As if!

“In some ways it’s a huge relief to be out. I’ve spent the last five years terrified my teammates are going to find out, and now I don’t have to worry about that. Everyone already knows.” He let out a short wry laugh.

“So how are your teammates taking it?”

“Most of them are angry at Conrad, Pete, and Jimmy for doing something so asinine, and no one seems terribly concerned that I’m gay. If they are bigoted, they’re hiding it because in the aftermath of this whole debacle, public sympathy seems to be with me and Kyle. Luckily, my roommate, Dale, doesn’t seem to care one wit that I’m gay, which is a huge relief.”

“Well that’s good then. How’s Kyle doing?” Tammy’s eyes were round with sympathy.

“He’s doing a lot better. I think having those guys arrested and thrown in jail did a lot to help him realize that none of this was his fault. And I’ve been distracting him.” Paul smiled rakishly.

“Oh, you bad boy,” Tammy said, slapping him on the arm. “It’s going to be fun having a gay friend,” she added, glancing around the room. “What do you think of that guy over there?” She pointed with her chin to a tall, broad-shoulder man with a neatly trimmed beard who was standing in line. “He’s hot, huh?”

Paul blushed again. It was going to take a little while to get used to being out.

*****

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Kyle asked as he angled his Prius into a parallel parking spot. “You can still change your mind.”

Butterflies had set up a hatchery in Paul’s belly, and they were reproducing quickly. “Yes, definitely,” he said with much more conviction than he felt.

“Okay. Let’s do this!”

Paul stepped out onto the street, trying not to think about his upcoming ordeal. Most of the buildings around him in Spokane’s recently revitalized Riverside district were more than a hundred years old. These were interspersed with parking lots and trees and the occasional modern building. Early on Saturday afternoon, the streets were bustling with shoppers and those looking to lunch at one of the many eclectic restaurants that had sprung up in neighborhood in the past ten years.

Paul and Kyle had been officially dating for three and a half weeks. They were taking advantage of Paul’s last free weekend before he was back in the game with an overnight trip to Spokane. He had promised his coach that he’d visit the gym during his week-end off and had already located one near their hotel. It was called S&H gym and it allowed walk-ins. He wondered if he could talk Kyle into going with him.

As they walked next to each other down the street, Paul grabbed Kyle’s hand. What’s the point in being out if I can’t hold my boyfriend’s hand? Kyle looked at him in surprise, but didn’t pull away, instead he settled in a bit closer to him as if they were a real couple. We are a real couple, Paul reminded himself. They got a few curious glances from passersby, but no one seemed hostile.

“Do you want to grab lunch now or afterwards?” Kyle asked.

“I think I’d better wait until afterwards,” Paul said. The butterflies in his stomach were flapping wildly.

Kyle grinned at him. “I can’t tell you it won’t hurt, ‘cause I’d be lying, but it’ll be worth it. Here we are. It’s right here.”

As Paul followed Kyle through the storefront door, the first smell that hit him was lavender. The faint hint of antiseptic underneath it, did nothing to calm his nerves. The shop was bright and clean.

The woman sitting behind the reception desk had blond hair that flowed over her shoulders in shining waves and bright pink lips. Other than her face, almost every square inch of her body that was visible was inked. She also had multiple piercings in her ears, eyebrows, and two snakebite piercings under her lips.

She was focused on the screen in front of her. Without looking up she asked, “What can I do for you boys?” Her voice was very low. She finally glanced up at them and a huge smile split her face, “Oh, hey Kyle. Good to see you back. Who’s the cutie?”

“Hi Henry,” Kyle responded with a big smile. “This is my boyfriend, Paul. Paul, Henry.”

“It’s Henrietta today, hon,” she corrected him, standing up and coming out from behind the counter. She was wearing a zebra print miniskirt and six-inch spike heels which caused her to be taller even than Paul’s 6’2”. She shook Paul’s hand, and he noticed that, although her hands were almost as large as his, she had long acrylic hot pink nails. Her grip was firm.

“Oh, right, sorry Henrietta,” Kyle said, as she bussed him on both his cheeks.

Paul had never met a transvestite in person and felt a little overwhelmed. She was feminine down to her frilly blouse and her sweet perfume. She had shaved her face smooth and covered it with makeup, so that the only clues he had that she was not one-hundred percent female were her Adam’s apple, the size of her hands and feet, and her deep voice.

“So what brings you in today?” she asked.

“I’d like to get my tongue and one of my nipples pierced, and he wants a Prince Albert.”

At Kyle’s statement, Paul felt a spike of dread. Am I really going to do this? Then he remembered his fantasy of Kyle’s tongue flicking his piercing and that pushed his doubt away.

“Oh, honey, that is so sexy,” Henrietta drawled, eyeing Paul up and down. He of course blushed.

Turning back to Kyle she said, “Neal is with someone right now, but he can do you boys in about twenty minutes. There’s our price sheet.” She pointed to a small stack of flyers sitting on the counter that listed basic information about the shop along with prices for piercings and tattoos. Next to it was a bowl filled with tubes of pineapple flavored lube.

Pineapple?

“Take your time, pick out your jewelry…” She waved toward a nearby case where a vast array of rings, plugs, and studs were on display. “Once you’ve picked out your jewelry, let me know. I’ll have you fill out a release form and pay, and then you’ll be set. Let me know if you have any questions.”

“Thanks,” Kyle and Paul said, almost in unison.

Paul already knew what he wanted—a ten-gauge, silver bar with a ball on either end. He and Kyle had looked at pictures of them on the Internet. He quickly located the jewelry of his choice. Kyle wanted a simple nipple ring and a ball stud for his tongue. Nothing fancy.

As Paul waited for Kyle to make his final decision on the size he wanted for his tongue stud, his eyes wandered to a display of sex toys along the far wall. He strode over for a closer look. It was a small selection, but they all looked high quality. There were dildos, vibrators, and butt plugs in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Paul felt his face growing pink.

Kyle came up behind him and nuzzled his neck. “See anything you like?”

“Er…”

Kyle laughed and picked up a bright red butt plug that looked impossibly large to Paul. “How about this one? It would stretch your virgin hole right out,” he whispered into Paul’s ear.

Now Paul was sure his face was as red as the plug. “Maybe not that one,” he said.

“Chicken,” Kyle teased. He put the butt plug back and moved over to look at the items in a display case close by. “Oh wow! They have sounds,” he said.

Sounds? Paul didn’t want to admit he didn’t know what they were. He followed Kyle over to the display and stared at the small assortment of items. There was a variety of metal rods, one with a ring on one end and small bumps at the other, one had an electric cable and plug coming out of one end, there was one that was a whole set of rods in graduated sizes in a leather case, and one looked to be made of silicon.

At first Paul was confused, but when he caught sight of a label that read, “vibrating urethral sound,” he sucked in a sharp breath. “Oh my God! People put those in their…” He couldn’t finish the sentence.

Kyle laughed delightedly.

“Have you … have you ever done that?” Paul asked in astonishment.

“No,” Kyle’s smile was huge. “It’s supposed to be very pleasurable. I might be up for trying it some day.”

“Pleasurable? Sounds like it would hurt to me.”

Sounds like it,” Kyle agreed with a smirk.

Paul snorted. “That’s not a very sound pun.”

Both of them started to giggle and Paul couldn’t help but draw Kyle to him. Kyle stood in the circle of his arms and Paul smiled down into his eyes.

“You’re the best medicine ever,” Kyle whispered to him. “I think I’m completely cured.” Paul knew that Kyle was referring to his assault and was surprised to see there wasn’t a hint of pain in his beautiful, variable eyes. Something warm and exciting grew in Paul’s chest, filling him with joy.

“You make me happy,” he said. And it was true. Since he’d met Kyle some part of him that had been dormant had woken up. It was as if he’d lived his entire life in perpetual winter, and Kyle had ushered in his first spring. And along with that, since he’d come out, the ever present fear and frustration that he had carried with him had melted away. He still had a few hurdles to cross—he needed to tell his family—but at school he was completely out and felt comfortable in his own skin for the first time since puberty.

Kyle’s eyes darkened as his pupils expanded. He pulled Paul more tightly against his body, ran his hand up Paul’s neck into his thick blond hair, and put his lips right next to his. “I think I love you,” he whispered, and then he took Paul into a passionate kiss.

Paul’s world spun out from underneath him and he found himself soaring. As emotions overpowered him, one thought became clear in his mind: he loved Kyle too.

And if he survived the flaming intensity of their kiss, which was threatening to burn him to cinders, he was going to tell him that.

6 thoughts on “Pierced

  1. This story made me so happy. I loved it. And it flowed so well with really nice descriptive language that added a lot of depth without getting heavy or ridiculous. I enjoyed the characters very much. I was glad Paul claimed Kyle as his boyfriend so fiercely. It about made me swoon. In the end it was satisfying and comforting how everything worked out. Now I want Kyle and Tigger to become friends.

  2. I have adored your writing since the first post of Rough Boys on Lit! You are amazing at making your readers feel every emotion your characters feel. Love your writing and can’t wait to read more

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