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    Jwolf
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The English Year - 35. Numb

Numb. Unfeeling. Unrelenting.

Numb.

The only way to describe how I felt that morning was numb. I couldn’t feel my fingers or my toes. I couldn’t feel anything. And it wasn’t simply because I’d walked out of the commons and into the cold January air without putting on my jacket, gloves, or scarf.

I was numb for so many other reasons.

Numb. Unfeeling. Unrelenting.

As I walked home, I tried to care I’d broken all contact with Pete, but I couldn’t. I was numb. I heard him call after me as I walked through the freshmen quad and back towards Chi Beta. I heard his footsteps, heard him call Corbin, heard him say he was sorry as I continued walking.

I heard him, but I couldn’t feel him. I didn’t feel like he was sorry, or that he really wanted me to stop and turn around. My name from his lips, in his voice, with his accent, an accent that had once drawn me to him like a moth, had no effect on me. It sounded like someone else’s name coming out of his mouth, not my own. I didn’t feel like he cared, he’d proven that much when he’d opened his mouth and accused me of everything he’d accused me of.

And so even though he chased after me, I still felt nothing. Nothing but numb.

I didn’t go to class that day. I didn’t answer any of the text messages on my phone, and when it was time to get ready for rush that night, I didn’t get out of bed to take a shower and put on my monkey suit. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t feel anything.

I was completely and utterly numb.

As my mind went through the last four days, processing everything that had happened since I’d gotten back on campus for winter term, playing every conversation in my mind like a movie reel of bad decisions, I tried to feel, but I couldn’t.

I didn’t feel anything towards Nick, the boyfriend I had broken up with because, honestly, I still held on to the notion there was a better Brit out there for me, waiting for me, changing for me. I tried to feel bad about dumping him; I tried to feel like my karma had caught up with me, that Pete was punishing me for how I’d treated Nick.

The feelings made sense as they entered and exited my brain, but somewhere those wires were crossed, and I couldn’t bring myself to actually feel anything in them.

I had a made a justifiable decision. I had done the right thing, and no matter how much I hurt in that moment, I couldn’t take it back. I couldn’t unbreak Nick’s heart, convince myself to love him. I couldn’t feel anything about that situation. I was numb.

I was numb towards Lee, who I’d played like a yoyo for an entire semester. I tried to feel bad about going back on our deal, giving him some kind of false sexual hope for the two of us, leading him on in a very dark and twisted way, knowing he was a freshman just trying to find himself. I tried to feel bad about confusing that process for him, but again, I couldn’t.

I told myself he was an adult, had made his choices, and had chosen to date Steph Doleman and fuck boys on the side. I told myself if it wasn’t me, it would be someone else. Someone who could dominate him, make him feel the things that being the alpha in a heterosexual relationship couldn’t make him feel. And ultimately, I told myself I was setting him up with a silver platter of all the things he wanted to do socially on this campus. Pledge class president was his for the taking. Anything after that would be his as well.

I told myself I didn’t need to feel bad about fucking with his emotions because at the end of the day, he was in a much better position than he had been in before. The ends justified the means, no matter how mean I’d been in the process.

And so I continued to feel numb.

Finally, I thought about David, and how I’d dragged him into this web for no other reason than because I was thirsty for power. I wanted someone else I could count on, rely on to support me in whatever end I chose. I told myself the end, whatever it was, justified any means I put David through. He was a kid yearning for a place to belong, and I gave him just that, and for this, I couldn’t feel bad. The seniors were using him just as much as I was, only I was winning, and I couldn’t apologize for that position. I didn’t feel bad about promising him more than we’d already done. I didn’t even know if I would go through with that promise on Saturday or not. Regardless, I didn’t feel anything towards him other than him being a freshman with a square jawline, flat abs, and fuckable lips.

Numb.

Pete and his words, stabbing me like a knife to the gut, had left me feeling nothing but numb.

And when Hutch knocked on my door to see if I was getting ready for rush, I didn’t answer, numb to the fact I was skipping the most important fraternity event of the year. I didn’t care. I was numb.

“Hey, Corbs,” Hutch said, cracking my door open. It was almost five, and it was already growing darker in my room. I didn’t stir or turn to see Hutch come into my room. I heard his footsteps get closer.

“Hey, Corbs. What the fuck, man? You aren’t getting ready for rush tonight? Did you oversleep?”

Again, I didn’t move or stir. Instead, I just mumbled under my breath.

“Go away.”

“Oh fuck no,” I heard over my bed as Hutch finally made it to where I’d spent the entire day numb and under the covers. “You aren’t fucking doing this, not tonight.”

I heard him yelling at me, but didn’t translate the words into my brain. Instead, I rolled over and looked at him. I could tell how badly I looked based on Hutch’s face. He stopped talking altogether, and sat down next to me.

My eyes must have been bloodshot to hell from crying all day long. I knew my hair was matted and my skin was probably blotchy as well. I must have looked as invalid as I felt, based on Hutch’s worried gaze.

“Oh God, Corbin. What’s the matter? What happened?”

“Nothing,” I choked. I hadn’t spoken all day long, and my voice wasn’t ready for use at that moment. I cleared my throat. “Nothing, I just don’t feel like going.”

“Corbin, you can’t just not go to rush. And Bid/Ball….”

“I don’t care.”

“What happened to you? Listen, if you’re not going that’s fine. I’ll cover for you, I swear. Fuck, I’ll even not go and stay up here with you if that’s what you want. But you have to tell me what’s gotten you so fucked up like this. I’ve never seen you like this.”

I could tell Hutch was genuinely concerned, and it sent a pang through my stomach. I felt bad for burdening him with my very deep and personal issue, on this of all weeks, but there was no way I could make it down to rush and Bid/Ball in one piece.

“I’m not leaving until you tell me what’s wrong and I know you’re going to be okay.”

In the same way I knew I couldn’t go downstairs that night, I knew Hutch would stay with me unless I unloaded on him what had happened. He’d stay and take care of me if he thought I needed it. He’d sacrifice all he’d done the previous semester for me, and I couldn’t be that selfish. I sat up, pulled the covers away from my bare chest and sat next to Hutch, holding my face in my hands and trying not to cry yet again.

“I broke up with Nick,” I sniffled after I gained some composure.

“Okay,” Hutch said, reading there was more to the story than what I’d just said. “Your boyfriend for like… ten minutes?”

I shot him a look.

“I broke up with him because he was so attached to me, and I could feel it. He didn’t really say anything or do anything, but I could feel it, and I knew I’d break up with him eventually, so I just went and did it.”

Hutch narrowed his eyes at me. I took a deep breath.

“The Brit have anything to do with why you broke up with Nick?”

I shook my head. Honestly he didn’t. Sure the idea of him coming around one day, leaving the door open, had been in the back of my mind. The Brit had been in the back of my mind since August, and there had been no escaping that until this morning.

“Then why are you so beat up? I mean, this isn’t like you at all?”

With those words, a shame came over me. Hutch was right. It wasn’t like me to sit there and sulk, and cry, and whine about my life. I wasn’t a ‘woe is me’ kind of guy, and yet the Brit had been mean to me for a minute, and I’d run to my bed and lay there crying all fucking day long.

I was embarrassed. Embarrassed to tell Hutch what had happened, but committed to telling him nonetheless.

“Pete thinks Sigma Chi blackballed him from joining because I broke up with Nick, and Nick was jealous about how I felt towards Pete.”

Saying it out loud, it sounded more plausible than it had when I first heard the accusation. Nick didn’t seem like the vindictive type. But the way he’d barged into my room so early that morning made me wonder. Had he made a stop at Pete’s suite first? Before coming over here to try and work things out.

“Pete’s rushing Sigma Chi? I thought he was just here for the year.”

“He wanted a social bid somewhere, we talked about that. Apparently Tamia has been shopping him to the Machis.”

“Would Nick do that? Especially to a social pledge? I mean, it’s free money. Why would they give that up just to… what? Spite you? For dumping him? They were probably glad you two broke up so they wouldn’t have to explain anything to any homophobic new members.”

“I don’t know.”

I shrugged. I didn’t have all the facts, and therefore couldn’t put all of the pieces together. All I had was Pete’s accusation, and the sinking feeling he might have been right. That I had caused all of this.

With that realization, I decided I needed to go back to sleep. With Hutch still sitting right there, I moved my body to lie back down on my side, wanting to wallow in self-pity rather than hash out the truth with my pledge brother.

“No, no... Corbin, come on. This can’t be it. You and Pete have fought before. You’re better than this.”

“He railed me, Hutch. He’s pissed,” I replied, sitting back up. “He accused me of fucking Nick just to get him balled. He asked if I’d fucked anyone else in any other houses to get back at him for not wanting to be with me. He said…”

My voice broke, remembering what he’d said to me. I was altogether angry, sad, and hopeless, all culminating in the ultimate feeling of indifference.

Numb.

“Who gives a fuck what he said. What are you going to do? Stay in bed the rest of your life? Give up on him? Corbin, anyone who’s seen the two of you together knows that’s not going to happen until he’s on a plane back to England. Even then, there’s a solid chance you’ll be in a seat next to him.”

I looked at Hutch.

“Remember what I told you when you came out during freshman year and said you had a crush on me?”

I nodded.

“That if I were gay, you would be the very first guy on my list. I meant it, Corbin, and if Pete doesn’t see that now, he’ll see it eventually. And if he doesn’t, if he never does, someone so much better will. This thing with Nick was a stopgap. Fine. But you’ve got to buck up, buddy. Buck up, put on your clothes, and power through. Show those freshmen downstairs who’s really in charge around here. And you know what will make you feel so much better?”

“What?” I asked, feeling better from his pep talk already.

“Balling someone tonight. Just drop the ball… on anyone. It doesn’t even matter who.” Hutch looked at me with one eyebrow raised. “I know you want to.”

Seeing my pledge brother sitting there, ready to be late to his own rush event to make sure I was coming made me feel for the first time that day. I sighed and stretched, looked at Hutch, and nodded.

“I don’t want him, Hutch,” I said, my voice firm. Stronger. I almost believed the words. “Not after what he said to me today. If he thinks that lowly of me. God, I’m such an idiot.”

I put my head back in my hands, realizing I was a fool for wasting a day pining after someone like a thirteen year old schoolgirl. He’d pushed me back into my deepest insecurity, and I didn’t want someone with the power to do that to me.

And yet, my reaction, so strong, so visceral, said more about the situation than the rationalization in my head. The ones we love most have the capacity to hurt us the worst. It was timeless logic, and it wasn’t lost on me. I didn’t want him, I realized that day. But I couldn’t stop myself.

In that moment, I realized Hutch was right. I couldn’t lay in bed forever. I couldn’t let everything I’d worked for, everything Chi Beta had worked for, boil down to nothing. We’d worked to get those freshmen here, and it was our last push.

Any more time wasted on Pete would only make me more pathetic, I decided. I’d given him enough. I’d given up enough for someone who was yet to give up anything for me. Not even an admission that this wasn’t all in my head.

I picked my numb body up off the bed and waddled to the shower, peeing something fierce for the first time that day, and washing off the shame of being humiliated by the Brit yet again.

I held on to my resolve, telling myself my feelings were over. If not over, then at least curbed. I didn’t see a future in which I forgave him for thinking so despicably of me, and that allowed me to see a future without him in it.

For the first time since that fall, through freshmen, Brits, Nicks, and everything in between, I truly believed I had the strength of character to get over Pete.

I was late to the first rush session anyway, so I decided to take my time getting dressed and walk down for the second session. It was the last group of guys before Bid/Ball, and everyone was at their chatty best. I walked into a throng of freshmen asking brothers questions, brothers being as charming as possible, and Hutch making a last ditch effort to a kid named Johnny who we’d been split rushing with Lambda. His big concern, I learned, was being able to balance his obligation to the orchestra and string quartet, school work, and pledgeship.

I took my place at the table for dessert and joined in on the conversation, jumping right in about how pledgeship wouldn’t interfere with extracurricular activities as if I was reading from a script.

“I did choir, theater, and wrote for the paper all while pledging. My parents were concerned, as they should have been, but with the help of your big and the pledge master, you find enough time to get things done. Your pledge mates have your back when it comes to breaking up responsibility like these guys had for me. Like we all had for Austin and Roberto for soccer and Sam for the IT club. I don’t know if a lot of houses can say that.”

Hutch looked at me, in awe of the transformation I’d made in the last hour. I wasn’t the same corpse he’d left upstairs, and now here I was reassuring Johnny he could do it all. Pledge, school, and clubs.

The distraction of being downstairs felt great. Being in a room full of people and not having to think about the day from hell I’d endured up until that point. It felt good to be fake with all of the brothers and freshmen, get my mind off what really mattered, and play my part in rush.

Two hours, three cocktails, and countless conversations later, we walked our last group of freshmen out of the house. Everyone knew what came next. Everyone knew what loomed in our library for formal chapter once we’d taken off our blazers and suits and reconvened.

The goodbyes lasted longer than the night before, as both the freshmen and the brothers wanted that last bit of assurance that a bid was coming. And as Bid/Ball approached, and the Great Hall cleared out, I walked David Marcossi out the back door just like I had the night before.

“Everything okay with you?” he asked. I smiled the best fake smile I could.

“Yeah, everything’s great,” I replied, wondering if I’d written my feelings all over my face.

“You seem different tonight.” I shrugged it off.

“Bid/Ball is coming up. We’re all a little bit stressed. You have nothing to worry about, though,” I added quickly, not wanting David to freak out about the ceremony the brothers were about to endure.

“Before I go, I just want to thank you,” he said.

“For what?” I asked, looking him right in the eye.

“I’ve always known I wanted to come here, and everyone has been super nice to me so far, all year long. But this last week, I don’t know. You taking an interest in me… I feel like I belong.”

I looked at David’s face for a second and swallowed. He was the latest guy I’d trapped into feeling something for me, and a wave of guilt went over my face. As shitty as I’d felt after Pete knocked me down that morning, I remembered how shitty I’d made Nick feel when I dumped him, and how shitty I repeatedly made Lee feel regardless of how much it turned him on. I even thought about how shitty it must have felt for Mike the cadet when I said Pete’s name in bed, knowing what a big step he’d taken just for me.

Those feelings came rushing over me. My face flushed. My eyes began to mist, and I had to swallow and concentrate not to let them take me over. I nodded slowly, cleared my throat, and took a deep breath.

“You do belong, David,” I said, taking a step back towards the door. “And the next time I see you, you’ll be family.”

I turned and walked away before I had to face another reaction from David Marcossi. I didn’t want to promise him another Saturday. I didn’t want to have to face that guilt, knowing he was attached to me, and that I’d never give him anything below the surface.

“You ready, maricon?” Roberto stormed down the back stairs, already changed into pajama bottoms, a hoodie, and house shoes, and heading straight for the library. I followed him, shucking my blazer, undoing my tie, and untying the top two buttons on my dress shirt. I’d dilly-dallyed too long, and had missed my chance to go upstairs and change, and instead, sat down next to my class on the left hand row of couches in the library.

Formal chapter was different than regular chapter due to strict policy and procedure, and parliamentary decorum. It was also during formal chapter that we had to sit in order of bid rank, not by office or title, but by initiation order. It was an equal playing field. There wasn’t an EC or officers to dictate. Everyone had the same vote, the same chance to speak up, and the only thing that separated you from the guy in front of you, was class and the order in which you went downstairs during initiation.

We assembled into rank file. I always sat between Roberto and Sam in bid rank, both taller than me, and both more eager for Bid/Ball than I was.

Dominick didn’t waste any time in getting things going. Bid/Ball was a long ordeal when it went well. It was torturous when it didn’t, and with the many dissenting opinions that had the potential to surface, there was definitely potential for this year to fall into the torturous category.

“The EC has met and voted on the procedures we’ll take during Bid/Ball today,” Dom began. “I just want to remind everyone this is formal chapter, so in order to speak, you must be called on by the historian, as he will be taking formal minutes which will get filed in our history books.”

Brian, seated in bid rank on the other side of Roberto, clutching his notebook, would be the one member of the house with any power tonight, once Dom turned over the meeting.

“Each potential new member will be assessed by three brothers, selected by the historian. Each assessment must include two merits and one demerit. After each potential new member has been fairly assessed, if anyone wishes to expound on their assessment, they will have sixty seconds to do so. Historian, do you have a timekeeper?”

“I do.” Brian pointed to a sophomore sitting on the other side of Newby in rank.

“Very well. If you plan to ball a potential new member, this is your time to make your intentions known. Be succinct. You will be cut off when time is up, and your opportunity to convince the brotherhood that a freshman shouldn’t be extended a bid will last only sixty seconds. Anyone wishing to vouch for a potential new member will be given a minute to rebute. The brother intending to ball will be able to answer the brotherhood every third rebuttal, until everyone who wishes to speak on a potential new member’s behalf has had their opportunity. We will bring up potential new members for assessment in alphabetical order, yes Hutch?”

Hutch nodded.

I took a deep breath.

“It takes two outright balls to ban a potential new member from receiving a bid. As per our quorum this year, it will take eight TYBs, or Trust Your Brothers, to equal a ball. Remember, a TYB is neither a vote for or against someone. It means you’re neutral and will trust the opinion of the brothers who know more about each potential new member. Please count carefully, you guys. Don’t just TYB because you feel like being funny or because you don’t like the look of someone’s face on the Powerpoint. Let’s try not to accidentally ball anyone this year because you guys weren’t counting how many TYBs came in before you.”

There were a couple of laughs. It happened every year. Some freshman who folks could tolerate but didn’t necessarily like would get passed to TYB all the way around the circle, and then receive two balls by proxy of too many passes.

I had been distracted all day. I had been numb, and yet there in the drafty library, every single brother in our chapter sitting around on equal ground, taking this ceremony very seriously, the gravity of our situation hit me like a ton of bricks.

I had threatened to ball Lee. I had threatened to burn this house to the ground before letting him into Chi Beta. We had had our ups and our downs, and now his fate was squarely in my hands.

I could cut him off of Chi Beta from the root, take away everything he had been promised, and leave him nothing. I had that power right then and there. He was a lock, a virtual suicide rush, and if I exercised my right to ball him, and convinced at least a portion of the other brothers to trust my judgment, he’d be out. And he wouldn’t be able to do a thing about it.

The way my day had gone, I considered it. I was still angry at Pete for what he’d said, and that slow burn built up inside of me as I thought about the position I was in. I could ball Lee. I could burn this house to the ground from the inside out, and I could make myself feel so much better about my life in the process.

But I had worked hard to get him on my side. I had worked hard to convince him I was his ticket in, and to build a level of influence over him that would come in handy when the seniors were long gone and I had to take the fight to my own class. I could shape the future of Chi Beta if I stuck to the plan. I was at odds between the visceral anger that had been dormant, simmering inside of me all day and the practical part of me that saw past my impulse to fuck shit up and look towards the bigger picture.

And as my mind did a tug-of-war of what would happen if I balled Lee, I listened as Brian called the first freshman’s name, and his face appeared on the projector.

One by one, we went down the list. Artie. Brandon. David Marcossi. There were a few guys peppered in who I marginally knew and apparently were gushed over by the senior class. Jason. Johnny was brought up, and I spoke out for someone for the first time, using what I had just learned that evening at dinner as my merit, and simply that he spoke two low and fast as my demerit. I didn’t know the kid, or care, but I felt like I needed to speak up in some way.

I could feel Dom’s eyes on me as we inched further down the alphabet. After Johnny was this kid named Kevin that hung out in the same group. And after Kevin…

“Lee Alexander Dornan,” Brian said. A picture flashed up on the screen, and I immediately felt Dom and Hutch’s eyes shoot to me.

“Don’t do anything stupid, maricon,” Roberto whispered in my ear. I rolled my eyes at him.

I listened to the brothers’ assessment of Lee. Dom and Hutch couldn’t have raised their hands any faster to be picked as his initial assessors. Oli also shot his arm up, and Brian called on all three, looking at me out of the corner of his eye.

It felt good to see everyone in the room squirm, unclear of what I was going to do. The unpredictability was worth every bit of Lee I had suffered up until that night. I was an agent of chaos, and that felt amazing. Instead of raising my hand, or making a push to give Lee an assessment, I folded my arms, and sat back with a smirk on my face.

I would get my chance to speak, there was no need to force anything.

“Lee is determined and resolute. He carries himself with confidence. And if I had to say one negative thing about Lee, I would say that sometimes his sheer loyalty towards the things he holds dear can cloud his better judgment and make ill-advised decisions.” Dom’s eyes shifted unmistakably across the room towards me as he finished his assessment. I smirked, shook my head, and chuckled.

Brian cleared his throat in my direction before calling on Hutch to offer his thoughts.

“In getting to know Lee very well over the course of informal rush, I would say he is a natural leader while being a team player; he is resourceful. And if I had to say one negative thing about him as well, I would echo Dom’s statement that sometimes he rushes to judgment in protection of the things he holds dear.”

I wasn’t even sure what the fuck Hutch meant by that, but again, his final statement was directed towards me. I couldn’t help but feel bitch slapped by my own pledge brother, but again, I sat there with nary a reaction.

Oli’s assessment was more of the same. Amazing, amazing, bad decisions in defense of something he cares about and loves. I got it loud and clear. I was a bad decision in his quest to get a bid. They had all come together, anticipating I would try to ball Lee for fucking his way into Chi Beta like I had promised so many times. They’d talked about it, come up with a plan to refute before I even had my chance, and had come up with coordinating statements so that if I went through with my threat, anyone who didn’t know the full story would assume, rightly, that Lee had been coerced into some bad decision by me simply because he was so loyal to Chi Beta.

It was so heavy handed, I almost laughed. I listened as Brian opened up the floor for anyone intending to ball. I took a deep breath, wondering if I should even give them the satisfaction. I knew Dom was shitting his pants right then and there, that I would stand up, bash the kid, and convince someone, anyone, to join me in balling him. What scared the leadership even more was wondering if I’d run some sort of whisper campaign earlier to TYB him out of there. It would take my ball and just eight other brothers to feel sympathetic towards me to do what I wanted.

And knowing they were shitting themselves, waiting for the literal ball to drop, was punishment enough. I stared Dominick down from across the library as Brian asked if anyone wished to speak up against Lee Alexander Dornan.

I felt like every eye was on me as the seconds passed like hours.

“Remember, if you intend to ball a potential new member, you have to make your intentions known. The EC agreed on the rules.”

It was the first time Brian had gone off script. With no subtlety whatsoever, I felt Hutch lean forward and look at me from where he sat two bodies down. I didn’t take my eyes off of Dom for a second.

“Anyone?” Brian asked. “Anyone plan to ball Lee Dornan?”

Brian looked right at me, and I kept my gaze. I would have given a dollar to check the heart rates of everyone in the room who had expected me to say something. And instead, I leaned back, folded my arms, and took a deep breath.

“Are we waiting for something or are we going to move on?” I asked, breaking the silence in the room. You could have heard a pin drop, and the fact I had spoken out of turn, without being called, could have gone down in the official minutes.

“I guess um… just wondering if anyone, you know… wanted to…”

“Ball Lee?” I asked, craning my neck towards Brian. It was what they’d been waiting for, I decided, and I wasn’t going to play into their sick little expectation of me. I was angry, yes, I had had a shit day and I was ready to fuck things up. But I was smart. I was thinking ahead, and I gained nothing by fucking things up.

Even so, I couldn’t help but stir the pot just a little, and so I turned back to Brian and asked for the black eight ball from our pool set.

“Since everyone is waiting on egg shells for me to say something about Lee, I guess that I will.”

“Oh shit,” I heard someone whisper from the sophomore corner.

“Corbin,” Roberto exhaled next to me. The room was otherwise quiet, and I reveled every moment of watching Dom squirm.

“All I have to say is this. If I end up being just a fraction right about that kid, god help all of us pick up the pieces.” I drilled into Dom. “Some of you already know what he’s capable of, and for the rest of you… well, you’ll have all of pledgeship to see for yourself. Of course, I might be wrong about him. I never am, but this may prove to be the rare exception. Either way, we’re here now. We need him, and even I can admit that to a room full of my brothers who refused to trust me when I said he was a bad egg. Well… now I turn that trust to you. I don’t plan to ball Lee Dornan. I will trust my brothers, and extend a TYB. Let the chips fall where they may.”

I handed the ball back to Brian.

“Anything else?” I asked, my voice dripping with attitude. I watched Dom sigh.

“No… um… let us begin.” And with that, the ball was passed, starting with the highest ranking senior, and making its way around.

More guys than I thought gave Lee a TYB, and by the time the ball made its way around the circle, Lee had received ten, including one from me, Roberto, and Austin. He was in.

I didn’t pay close attention for the rest of the night. Only a couple of guys caused any sort of controversy, one for being a raging pothead and already having a strike with the university, and the other for being an overall douche who’d been balled from his first couple of houses and was using us as a last resort. All in all, we planned to give out a total of twenty-four bids the following night and hope for the best.

Bid/Ball wrapped just after one in the morning, and everyone dispersed, eager to get to bed after what was one of the longest days of the year to that point. I yawned and stretched as I stood up and made my way towards the door.

“Surprised that went so smoothly,” Dom said as I walked by. He was sitting at the large oak conference table in the middle of our library with Oli, Hutch, and Brian. Most of my class had stood to follow the sophomores out, but were still lingering about.

I paused as I passed by. He looked up at me with a knowing expression.

“What does that mean?” I asked calmly, stopping next to his chair.

“Nothing, Corbin,” Hutch replied quickly.

“Did you think I would put up more of a fight?”

I saw Austin and Roberto stop and turn as they approached the door to see why I wasn’t following them anymore.

“I thought maybe you would,” Dom answered confidently. I smirked down at him.

“You did have all of those threats about burning houses to the ground,” Oli added.

“And what about you two?” I turned to Hutch and Brian, my blood simmering just under a boil. I was snowballing from my anger the morning before, and I could feel myself going from zero to sixty just then. “Did you two think I was going to put up more a fight, whatever the fuck that means.”

“We thought maybe you’d contest Lee’s bid… a little bit…”

“Even after I told you that I wouldn’t?” I asked, taking a step away from the table. “And who’s we? A collective ‘we’?”

“Corbin, it was just something we were prepared for, is all.” Brian tried to smooth things over.

“Prepared for? How exactly do you prepare for a brother who… what’s the word… puts up a fight over a freshman?”

Brian held his gaze for a second and then looked down at the table.

“Ya’ll are un-fucking-believable. I have tried at one point or another to convince each and every one of you that I want to work together, that I’m over all the petty bullshit, and yet here I am damned if I do, and damned if I don’t. I was on my best behavior tonight, and still, I get no credit. I brought Lee back into the mix, and still, I get no credit!” I raised my voice. “Why would I ball him after all of the work I put in to getting him here? You know what? Maybe I should have, since my esteemed brothers think so little of me no matter what I fucking do. Ya’ll are a bunch of fucked up, baby back bitches, you realize that?”

I took a step away from the table and towards the door.

“I’m sorry to interrupt your meeting, but I guess the collective ‘we’ can get back to worrying about things that aren’t even going to happen. Carry on, cunts.”

I walked out, pushing past Austin and Roberto at the door.

“Is it just me or has he been extra moody lately?” I heard as I bound up the stairs towards my room, took off my dress shirt and collapsed onto my bed. I dove face first into my pillow, not even bothering to take my shoes off before lying in bed.

I don’t remember how long it took me to fall asleep, but I remember waking up in the middle of the night, my room pitch black, and wondering how I’d let things devolve into such a state. I was negative, all the time, I realized. I wasn’t myself. I’d taken this fight for Chi Beta to dark places, threatened everyone, and I was beginning to alienate even those closest to me. I was a ticking time bomb, and I didn’t like it, I thought. I was tired of being stepped on, mistrusted. But I had made that bed myself, and now, in this mood, I realized I wanted to climb out of it.

It wasn’t all that easy. I woke up that morning with a sense of simmering anger, bordering on resentment. Nothing I would ever do would be good enough for the brotherhood I was a part of. Nothing I could do or say would make them trust me more. I was this far in my plan, and while the pieces were falling together, the respect I so desperately wanted, the respect that Pete had told me last semester to claim was slowly melting away.

And then there was the matter of my feelings for Pete. Numb was my baseline feeling. And yet I kept thinking about him. Blaming him, sure. But he kept popping up in my thoughts, even when I was wallowing in a pool of self-pity, trying to assign blame.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t fallen for him. And he made me fall for him. Therefore, it was his fault. And regardless of my resolve to end my feelings, I wouldn’t be able to if I kept blaming him for those feelings.

I woke up before dawn that morning, took a long hot shower, got dressed, and threw on my favorite Ralph Lauren puffer vest as if it were armor. I walked to the library, set up shop on the first floor, and read the material from the classes I’d missed the day before.

Thursday after Bid/Ball was always a tricky affair. For freshmen guys, they found out what two houses they were still eligible for and would be going to that night. Those were the two houses they could receive bids from, and from those bids, they would tear one and keep the other. It was a moment of reckoning. A semester’s worth of work boiling down to two houses next to your name.

For girls, the pressure was even worse. Some girls were already in danger of falling through the process. If the last two houses on their list didn’t match the houses they had preferred on theirs, chances are they wouldn’t be getting into a house altogether. The system was complicated, and everyone wore those complications like a V for Vendetta mask across their faces.

It was a town full of zombies on Thursday. Everyone dressed to the nines for a last impression, freshmen and upperclassmen walking and talking, avoiding any conversation about rush, yet trying to get in any last minute information before no-contact took hold that night.

I fortified myself in the library, only leaving to walk to and from class. I didn’t talk much that day, I remember. I remember going through the motions, checking my text messages and making the decision not to respond to anyone. I remember feeling like I could have left campus that day and felt nothing towards anyone I’d left behind.

When it was finally time to head back to the house for the Bid Ceremony that night, I sauntered in, going straight to my room, and avoiding eye contact with any and everyone.

The Bid Ceremony was one of our rare private rituals, and as much as I would love to share every detail of the process with you, it would be imprudent to put aside that much of the oath I myself took when I was a freshman. A peak behind the curtain of brotherhood can only go so far. Suffice it to say, I got dressed in my ritual garb, settled in between Sam and Roberto in bid rank order, and waited for the pledge master to bring each potential new member down to our secret ritual room, one by one, to receive their bid.

The room, hidden from the public, was dark and stuffy and the robes we were required to wear made me feel extremely uncomfortable. There was a strict no talking policy in the ritual room, which was fine with me because I didn’t have much to say to any of the collective ‘we’ to begin with.

I got a little choked up when Dom and Max, the pledge master from the senior class, brought David downstairs, blindfolded, wearing a crisp dark suit and a thin smile across his face. I was happy to see him accept his bid with a thank you, and knew that after the dust settled, he’d make a strong brother… and an even stronger ally.

We bid eighteen guys that night, more than we bid in my class, and more than we’d bid in quite some time. It was a triumph for Chi Beta that that many guys had narrowed us down to their final two choices.

And now the power was in the hands of the freshmen. We stripped our robes, and hung them for the sophomores to spray with a water/vodka solution to keep the sweat from mildewing. I followed the rest of my class upstairs after the secret room had been closed. Hutch, starving, asked if anyone wanted to go on a Wendy’s run with him.

“No thanks,” I said softly, the first two words I’d spoken directly to him or anyone else who’d cornered me about Lee at the Bid/Ball ceremony.

“Come on, Corbin. I’m buying.”

“No thanks,” I repeated, turning from the Great Hall and heading up the stairs.

“Are you still mad about last night? About the Lee thing?”

I stopped walking and turned.

“A bit,” I replied truthfully.

“So what? You’re just gonna ice the rest of us forever now?”

“No,” I replied shortly.

“Then what the fuck gives?”

“Ya’ll sat there and gossiped the shit out of me, dragged me, and had a contingency plan in the event that I did something I had sworn up and down I wasn’t going to do. I think I have a right to be a little upset. On top of all that, I’m dealing with all kinds of other bullshit on the side…”

I almost went into detail about Nick Person and Pete and the drama that was circling around me, but I didn’t. I stopped in my tracks. Hutch knew what I was dealing with, and if he wanted to share that with the others, he could have. I wasn’t in the mood to explain myself. Not my actions, not my attitude. And so without another word, I went back upstairs, put ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ on my laptop, and. cuddled with Mister until I fell asleep.

I woke up early again that morning. Friday of rush was definitely a dark affair on campus. It was the strictest no contact day of the year. You could be called into Dean Cole’s office for being seen talking to a freshman, and no one was willing to risk it. Most upperclassmen left their phones at home during the day at the risk of getting a panicked text from a potential new member and being tempted to answer it. Those who had freshmen in their classes made a point of sitting opposite guys they’d buddied up to all year long. Everyone understood the risk of breaking no contact, and for that reason, no one did. We’d come too far for that.

I took my ice to the next level and steered clear of everyone that day. I could feel my anger softening, and knew I would be back to normal in time to enjoy Tear Night, but I still wasn’t whole. Pete had ripped into me like I hadn’t been torn apart in a long time, and I couldn’t shake what he’d said. I kept wondering if he actually felt that way about me, or if he’d played up his annoyance to get under my skin. Either way, whether he was genuine or being a massive prick, the implication was the same, and I couldn’t bring myself to forgive him for saying what he’d said.

I was less mad at the guys in my house, but still quite annoyed they thought so little of me as well. I knew I had taken actions that I needed to atone for, actions that had led to their distrust in the first place, but to see members of my own class sitting with Dom and Oli, talking about what a loose cannon I was really dug deep.

I decided to give myself until that night to finish wallowing. No contact night was the last night the brotherhood would be together with no distractions. No freshmen were allowed in the house, and would be taken to an off campus apartment for a party hosted by Crystal and some of the other girls we knew.

Girls had entered ritual the night before, and therefore had to abstain from alcohol and men, or more aptly named No Booze/No Boys, until Tear Night officially kicked off.

That meant only brothers would be in the house that night, and the tradition was for us to play North v. South in a drinking contest. The house was split down the Mason-Dixon line, as evenly as possible, and each brother had to drink twelve beers. The side that finished first won bragging rights for the entire year. The South always prevailed, and as a delegate from Texas, I was expected to do my part in keeping that streak going, pissy or not pissy.

North-South was set to begin around nine, after we got word that the freshmen were at Crystal’s, having a good time, and didn’t need anything else from us. I decided to skip dinner, and grab a snack on campus before walking back to the house.

As I waited for my chicken wings at the commons to fry up, I checked my phone and saw that I had a text from Roberto.

To Corbin: Hey. When are you coming home? Got to get ready for North-South.

To Roberto: Heading home after I eat. Twenty minutes or so. What’s there to get ready?

I wasn’t sure what he meant, as the seniors bought the beer and set up the basement for both sides. I assumed he meant we needed to pregame, but I wasn’t keen on drinking anything before going into what was a glorified chugging contest in just a couple of hours.

Roberto didn’t respond to my text, and so I sat down with my dinner, wolfed down half a dozen chicken wings, grabbed my bag, and walked back to the house.

The ambush was evident the second I opened the door and took a step inside. The back landing was clear, but several guys from my class lingered nonchalantly in the Great Hall, as if they were waiting for something. Hutch, Brian, Roberto, and Austin were there, and they all stopped talking as soon as I stepped inside the room. Hutch turned first, and then the other three, looking at me as I approached.

“What’s up you guys?” I asked, suspicious, but trying not to sound as upset as I had the last few days. My mood had begun to melt, and I was determined to have a fun North/South if it killed me.

“What’s going on?”

“Nothing, Corbin, we were just waiting on you.”

“Waiting on me for what?”

“Roberto said you were on your way home, and we wanted to talk to you. Before the party tonight.”

I felt the collective ‘we’ come out in Austin’s words again, and immediately felt a pit form in the bottom of my stomach. ‘We’ was never good, not when I wasn’t a part of it. I not only felt like I didn’t have a seat at the table, but that I was certainly on the menu and I was about to get ripped into yet again.

“Talk to me about what?” I raised an eyebrow and approached the group slowly. “Is this still about Bid/Ball? Because I’m over that. Ya’ll were asses, but it’s whatever. I’m ready for North/South.”

“Good,” Brian said quickly, reaching out and patting me on the back. I took off my book bag and set it on the chair next to me, still suspicious of what the congregate wanted to talk about.

“So what? What’s going on? Ya’ll are looking at me like I have two heads.”

“It’s not about Bid/Ball, even though, thank you for not doing anything rash and crazy during that. And I probably owe you an apology for assuming you would,” Hutch said.

“We really wanted to talk to you about your mood in general.” Austin said, his usually calming voice grating my ears like a bad hangover.

“My mood in general?” I took a step back, ready to go on the defensive. I’d resolved to soften my mood, call a truce, force myself to feel happy. I was done wallowing over things that were out of my control. I was finished, and I’d come home ready to perk up and move on.

Clearly that wasn’t going to happen, I thought.

“You’ve been moping around here like Eeyore, pissing everyone off, and we’re sick of it,” Roberto blurted out.

“Robbie,” Austin scolded out of the side of his mouth. I blinked and took a second before responding.

“Is that what you all think? I’m a Debbie downer?”

“Since the semester started, you’ve just been aloof and irritable, and noticeably meaner around here. Which is a surprise because we thought you had a boyfriend, and that…”

“Are you being serious right now?” I asked softly. “We all go through shit.”

“Corbin, you’ve been going through shit for a while now, and we just want to offer our help and support.”

“I don’t need help or support, I need my friends and brothers to not act like I have some sort of disease, and to not look at me like I’m broken in some way. I’m sorry I snapped the other day.”

“You pretty much snap every day,” Brian cut me off. I turned to face him. I was dumbfounded, blindsided, and aggravated. This was not what I had in mind when I decided to let things go, come home, and enjoy an empty house with my brothers. This wasn’t what I had decided when I resolved to put my shit away and move on from it.

“We just want you to be happy, maricon,” Roberto said, taking a step towards me. “And we want you to go back to being the fun, crazy, gay, amazing guy we know.”

“I didn’t realize I wasn’t any of those things… to you… anymore. But I’m not a wind-up toy. Everyone gets a little turned around during rush,” I replied defensively. “But I did my part.”

“With a long face the entire time,” Hutch said. I turned to him, feeling more betrayed by him than the rest. I’d told him what had happened with Nick and Pete. He knew why I was in such a foul place, and it sounded like he not only went along with this ambush, but probably initiated it to begin with.

“Let’s be honest about something,” Hutch continued. “When was the last time you felt truly happy? Nothing bothering you. Content.”

I couldn’t think that fast, but the question was valid. I wasn’t sure. Before Mike was sent to solitary, probably. I’d been happy with Nick, but it was a distant happiness. Content, but not elated.

“Is this some sort of intervention?” I asked, redirecting, instead of answering the questions.

“I would say… a friend-tervention,” Hutch replied.

“Corbin, we just want to help,” Brian chimed in. “Give you what you need in order to get back to a good place, and hopefully, you know… make you smile again.”

“What, are you all going to blow me, or something?” I crossed my arms, still unclear where this whole thing was going and why my pledge class was singing a chorus of Kumbaya for me at that very moment when we all should have been throwing caution to the wind and getting fucked up before North/South.

“You wish,” Roberto mumbled under his breath.

“So what exactly do you guys feel I need in order to get back to a good place, as you call it?”

“Follow me,” Hutch said, leading the way up the stairs and to his bedroom. I followed, slowly, reluctantly, not entirely sure what to expect. Did they have a prostitute up there? Had they flown my brother or sister in to hang out and cheer me up? I couldn’t imagine what their little surprise could be, and so while my mind raced all the way up the stairs, I decided to follow and wait and see.

I walked behind Hutch and Austin into Hutch’s bedroom with Roberto and Brian behind me. As soon as I saw what was inside, I felt my blood curdle. A piercing flash went through my brain, and I immediately wanted to bolt. I heard the door close behind me, and trapped, faced forward and saw Pete sitting right there on Hutch’s couch.

“What the fuck is he doing here?” My voice was razor sharp and paper thin, cold as ice.

“We heard you two got into it the other day,” Hutch began.

“You heard? I told you… in confidence, I might add. You didn’t ‘heard!’”

“And we just thought that maybe if you hashed it out, ya’ll could go back to being friends, and you could go back to… you know… acting normal.”

I let out a chuckle, speechless at their concept of a good idea.

“Are you fucking kidding me right now?”

“I told you all this was a bad idea,” Pete spoke for the first time since accusing me of derailing his rush prospects by fucking guys in every house.

“You can shut the fuck up,” I hurled. “I will get to you.”

“Corbin.”

“I will start with you,” I turned to Hutch, the biggest Judas of all of them, I had already decided. “You, who I have sat by and watched make mistake after mistake, and never once judged you or thought you needed to be fixed. You’re fucking a freshman girl who thinks you’re her boyfriend and has no clue you talk shit about her to us every chance you get, but have I ever done anything but support you? No. I let you make your own mistakes hoping one of these fucking days you’ll actually learn something and change your fucking ways.”

I turned to Austin who was standing right next to me and put a finger right on his chest.

“And you. When you were dumped by Rachel, did I tell you that you were always better off without her, and she was a heinous bitch, and you wasted three years dealing with her bullshit? No, I supported you, comforted you, listened to you pine and cry all fucking night long, and then offered to drive you home to North Carolina because you couldn’t be in the same vicinity as a bitch who treated you like trash. Still... no judgment... ever... from me. Only support.”

“Roberto, I have listened to you question every action a girl has made towards you and weed through girls who would be perfect for you because they smile weird, or they chew weird, or they text you too much, or not enough. I have listened to countless pointless hours of you wondering if you’ll ever find someone, and have I ever told you to lower your standards? To take what you can get so that maybe you’ll be happier and smile more? Take what you can get and stop letting perfectly good girls go while you talk my ear off day in and day out about being unlovable? No… I’ve done nothing but support the shit out of you.”

“And you,” I turned to Brian, my former roommate who should have known better than all of them that this was the worst possible idea. “How many fucking hours have I sat there and dealt with you and Catherine’s bullshit? When we were roommates, how many times did I kick the two of you giggling bitches out of my room? None. How many times did I drink with her pimple faced friends so you two could flirt and do everything but fuck each other in the corner of our bedroom? A million. Did I ever judge you? No. I only supported your decision to date a prude who doesn’t want to give it up, and listened patiently while you complained about never getting laid by someone in the Jesus squad.”

“You all think you know what I need. This is not what I need. An ambush is not what I need. To talk to this motherfucker is not what I need. What I need is for you to support me, and know I am going through a rough time, but I will get myself out of it. I always have, for the past three years. I always get myself out, and you all have seen that.”

And then I turned to Pete.

“And you, killer.” I chuckled, my blood reaching a rolling boil. I had been ready to pop ever since I’d seen him earlier that week, and this was it. Vesuvius, ready to explode. “I know you speak four languages, and I know English is definitely one of them, so when I said I never wanted to see you again, what part of that was difficult for you to understand?”

I took a step forward.

“You have done nothing but jerk me around like a chew toy in the jaws of a puppy for five months, and I’m sick of it. I’m sick of wondering is he or isn’t he. I’m sick of feeling like I’m not worthy of his Lordship, the British exchange student. I am worthy. It’s you who isn’t worthy of me. I am a motherfucking catch. I am Corbin fucking Crowley and everyone knows that name on this campus, and I am sick of feeling like I’m not good enough for you.”

I felt my voice crack, but I was on a tear, and there was no stopping me.

“If you want me, say something. Earn me. Prove it for once before we all die of old fucking age. If you don’t want me, let me the fuck go, and let me be happy. At least let me try. I am so sick of this twisted mind game you have going on, proving that you have this power over me. It ends today, right now. In fourteen seconds, when I’m done talking, you will walk out of here and not come back until you have some sort of absolute. Not a maybe. Not an ‘I’m not sure’, but a yes or a fucking no. I do not want to see or hear from you again until you have that for me. Not a second before. Is that clear this time, or I do I need to say any of that again?”

I took a step back and put my hand on Hutch’s door knob. The entire room was silent and still, like a painting. No one moved. No one spoke. No one so much as took a breath as they awaited my next move.

“Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen. Time’s up…”

I opened the door, raised an eyebrow, and made a gesture for Pete to leave. The room was perfectly still. You could have heard a pin drop an inch with how quiet everyone was, breath bated, waiting for the Brit to say something. Anything.

He didn’t. He stood up, kept his gaze on me the entire time as I shifted my weight and opened Hutch’s door even further. Everyone watched, frozen, as he took three steps towards the door and stopped. He looked down at me, as if he was going to say something. Anything.

Nothing.

Instead, he took a deep breath, and took the last step out the door.

It took me a full four or five seconds to draw breath. I waited until I didn’t hear anymore footsteps echoing down the hall before inhaling like a swimmer who’d been underwater for far too long. I felt like my knees might collapse like I couldn’t hold up my own weight.

I suddenly wasn’t numb anymore.

It was the most honest thing I’d ever said to Pete, and in a way, it felt like my honesty was a nail in the coffin of our relationship. It felt like, in my honesty, I had given him his out. And he’d taken it and walked out the door.

I didn’t know what to do then, but in that honesty, I almost felt like a cloud had been lifted over me. It was out there. Everything was out there. The extent of my feelings. What I wanted from him, and what I needed from my friends who stayed in that room, silent, still, watching for my next move.

I took another deep breath, took a step towards the door, and turned back to the guys in Hutch’s room who thought I was broken and needed fixing.

“If you guys ever pull some shit like that again, I will burn this house to the ground. Do not mistake me.”

I scanned the room, making eye contact with all of them as they averted their gaze like children who had been caught in a lie. Hutch was the first and only one of my pledge brothers to speak.

“Corbin, we honestly thought we were helping, man.”

My eyes narrowed. I took my hand off the doorknob, rubbed my bottom lip and looked up at Hutch.

“Let’s go to North/South,” I said, my voice soft and even, no trace of anger, but no hint of approval.

Part of me appreciated the effort, the call to action to cheer me up. The rest of me was still furious.

Furious at them for making me face my feelings once and for all. I was furious at myself for putting everything I’d felt out there with no safety net, no contingency plan. And furious at Pete for walking out the door for what felt like once and for all.

And even in my anger, in my most vulnerable state, in front of the guy I’d loved for five months and the friendships I’d formed for three years, I felt a wave of relief. I knew this feeling wouldn’t last forever. I knew there would always be something between me and this Englishman. I knew this journey he and I were on, this English year of my life wasn’t even close to being over.

Thank you all for continuing to follow and support this story. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts as the journey continues to unfold.

Copyright © 2016 Jwolf; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments



OMG. At long effing last. Please let us have the next chapter this decade? 

 

OMG. Thank you! 

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EFFFF YOU for making us wait this long!!!!!! At least this was a damn damn damn good chapter. But seriously effffff you!!!! 

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Oh how I've missed this series and thank Christ it's back with a vengeance! Loved it!!!!!!!!

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So happy to be reading this story again. Also couldn’t have asked for a better return than the drama this chapter brought. Luv it.

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8 hours ago, Cris L said:

OMG. At long effing last. Please let us have the next chapter this decade? 

 

OMG. Thank you! 

Check back in 2030. Thanks! 

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8 hours ago, Hubert11 said:

EFFFF YOU for making us wait this long!!!!!! At least this was a damn damn damn good chapter. But seriously effffff you!!!! 

Glad you enjoyed! Happy to be back!

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17 minutes ago, SteveH said:

Oh how I've missed this series and thank Christ it's back with a vengeance! Loved it!!!!!!!!

Thanks for the compliment!

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7 minutes ago, MaxomeFoe said:

So happy to be reading this story again. Also couldn’t have asked for a better return than the drama this chapter brought. Luv it.

Glad enjoyed it! Thanks for the comment 

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Corbin had another great moment here. While it's cool he recognizes his own part in creating the current circumstances, I loved that he's sticking to his plans.

While well-intentioned, his friends clearly went about their "intervention" wrong. It was heavy-handed and silly - but that's kind of par for the course with a bunch of college guys. People need the space to work through their issues and friends should just let it know they are there for them - which I suppose they were trying to do, but it was less support and more "can you just get back to normal already cause this is making us uncomfortable." It's unfortunate the moment they chose was the same one when Corbin decided to try and be "normal" as they called it - his friends kind of sabotaged their own objective XD  I think what Corbin said at the end was quite reasonable. Also badass.

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I agree with @Israfil - Corbin did well in controlling the various situations and his own baser instincts. When he finally did let his emotions loose, it was well deserved by his 'brothers' and that English prick. Even after all this time, I'm ready to strangle Pete. :angry:  But I feel very sorry for Nick, because he was good for Corbin while it lasted.

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I don’t know how you could have possibly made that (beautiful) speech at the end of the chapter, without breaking down in tears.  All I was doing is reading it, and it made me cry!

You are an amazingly talented writer.  Thanks for continuing this story. Can’t wait to see what will happen next.  I still hope Corbin ends up with Mike, or even Lee — anyone but Pete!

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On 1/8/2020 at 8:13 AM, Israfil said:

Corbin had another great moment here. While it's cool he recognizes his own part in creating the current circumstances, I loved that he's sticking to his plans.

While well-intentioned, his friends clearly went about their "intervention" wrong. It was heavy-handed and silly - but that's kind of par for the course with a bunch of college guys. People need the space to work through their issues and friends should just let it know they are there for them - which I suppose they were trying to do, but it was less support and more "can you just get back to normal already cause this is making us uncomfortable." It's unfortunate the moment they chose was the same one when Corbin decided to try and be "normal" as they called it - his friends kind of sabotaged their own objective XD  I think what Corbin said at the end was quite reasonable. Also badass.

Thanks so much for the comment! You’re absolutely right, Corbin’s friends are well intentioned, but that doesn’t always mean they do the right thing. But on the other hand, if you are a friend and you see someone you love hurting and you KNOW why, what do you do? Expect some ‘discussion’ in the future on that piece. Thanks again!

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18 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

I agree with @Israfil - Corbin did well in controlling the various situations and his own baser instincts. When he finally did let his emotions loose, it was well deserved by his 'brothers' and that English prick. Even after all this time, I'm ready to strangle Pete. :angry:  But I feel very sorry for Nick, because he was good for Corbin while it lasted.

After all this time, still anti-Pete? Corbin got what he needed to off his chest. I guess we’ll see if/how Pete chooses to react. Thanks for the comment! 

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28 minutes ago, mg777 said:

I don’t know how you could have possibly made that (beautiful) speech at the end of the chapter, without breaking down in tears.  All I was doing is reading it, and it made me cry!

You are an amazingly talented writer.  Thanks for continuing this story. Can’t wait to see what will happen next.  I still hope Corbin ends up with Mike, or even Lee — anyone but Pete!

Thank you for the compliment and the positive comments. Believe, I might have shed a tear or two putting that sequence together. More on the aftermath of that speech in the next chapter!

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What an amazingly fabulous way to come back! 
This was a great chapter..  Corbin’s friends handled it wrong maybe, but they were coming from a good place. And look what it sparked! Corbin got to let it out. I guess the ball is in Pete’s court now, and I so agree with Corbs. Yes or no, do or don’t!! 
Corbin has gained perspective throughout all this. He is not totally blameless but you always knew what you were getting with him. It gets complicated when feelings get involved. 

I loved how he handled the house with the whole Bid/Ball and Lee. I will just wait for Lee to prove him right. Lol. 

I am anxious for more. I don’t mind waiting, but please not so long again. :P This is too good. 

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1 hour ago, Defiance19 said:

What an amazingly fabulous way to come back! 
This was a great chapter..  Corbin’s friends handled it wrong maybe, but they were coming from a good place. And look what it sparked! Corbin got to let it out. I guess the ball is in Pete’s court now, and I so agree with Corbs. Yes or no, do or don’t!! 
Corbin has gained perspective throughout all this. He is not totally blameless but you always knew what you were getting with him. It gets complicated when feelings get involved. 

I loved how he handled the house with the whole Bid/Ball and Lee. I will just wait for Lee to prove him right. Lol. 

I am anxious for more. I don’t mind waiting, but please not so long again. :P This is too good. 

I definitely won't keep you waiting for AS long this time around. Thanks so much for the comment! Lot's more story to tell. 

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1 hour ago, mfa607 said:

Wow! Now I have to go back and read the previous 34 chapters! Thank you!!  

You're welcome! 

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Worth the wait. But please don’t make us wait as long for the next chapter. Based on the story name, I know we haven’t heard the last of Pete. But can they ever have a “normal” relationship or friendship after all this drama?
 

Give us more! Thanks for sharing your talents. 

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What about Amanda? Did she just disappear from Corbin's life?

#teamMike #teamNick #teamAnybodyButTheFuckingBrit

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52 minutes ago, Dadbod said:

What about Amanda? Did she just disappear from Corbin's life?

#teamMike #teamNick #teamAnybodyButTheFuckingBrit

I love the hashtags! Amanda is still around and will resurface soon I’m sure. She had a couple very important parts to play later on in the story. 

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1 hour ago, Dadbod said:

What about Amanda? Did she just disappear from Corbin's life?

#teamMike #teamNick #teamAnybodyButTheFuckingBrit

Sign me up for #teamAnybodyButTheFuckingBrit  :rofl:

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After three long years, a great comeback chapter, Jwolf, and great climax. I have to admit that I was numb when I thought this story had come to an utimely end. I’m so happy that it hasn’t because the story is too good to just let it wither and die. Thank you.

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The guys got Corbs number - and his back! That's what Brotherhood is about. And they WERE effective! For a while at least we can expect some quiet on the British front.
A good time for Corbs to sign up for the rest of the year as Sober Officer, join AA and get anger management counselling....that should vastly improve his disposition, likeability and standing in his frat and on campus.

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15 hours ago, IBEX said:

The guys got Corbs number - and his back! That's what Brotherhood is about. And they WERE effective! For a while at least we can expect some quiet on the British front.
A good time for Corbs to sign up for the rest of the year as Sober Officer, join AA and get anger management counselling....that should vastly improve his disposition, likeability and standing in his frat and on campus.

So glad you started following the story, and I’ve enjoyed reading all of you reactions. Very strong feelings about Corbin I see! Writing him has always been an interesting mix of personality traits and qualities for me, not all positive but I hope multi-dimensional and layered. Look forward to seeing what you think as the story unfolds 

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