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Jumping Over My Mountain - 20. Chapter 20

Jumping Over My Mountain
by Tiffani Chin

Chapter 20

---------------------------------------------


************SKYLER***********

I sat at Brower Commons, stuffing my face with food. Dining hall food was usually crappy, but when you were starving, dirt would taste like a five course meal.

It was the beginning of December. All the drama that occurred recently had blown over, for the most part.

Storm and I had our heartfelt talk. Hiro and Crew were good, as usual. I moved back in with my Mom; Kate moved in with Storm. I visited Zeke almost every weekend because in about three weeks, I would start snowboarding season and wouldn't have time to hit up Boston.

Classes were going well since they were fairly easy electives. Zeke and I were getting excited for our Cali trip over winter break. However, I still refused to speak to my Dad. I didn't return his emails or phone calls.

Overall, life was ok at the moment. I did get bummed every once in a while when I thought of leaving my Mom and Storm, and missing my friends and college in general. But then when I thought of Zeke and California, I didn't feel so bad.

"Life, what a mother-fucking bitch," I muttered as I swallowed my bite of cereal.

"Talking to yourself?"

I looked up at the voice and took in the tall guy in front of me.

I smiled, "Yeah, it's been happening a lot recently. I'm thinking of getting it checked out."

The guy chuckled, revealing even white teeth, "Mind if I sit?"

I waved my hand, motioning for him to take a seat.

"I'm Mikhail."

"Skyler."

"I know."

My eyes snapped to his face and I squinted, taking in his features, trying to remember him.

He was thin, or average framed, like most college kids, and around my height. His skin was pale and smooth. He had nice pink lips and light brown eyes. He had light brown hair that was fluffed up stylishly. Mikhail had remarkably high cheekbones and a definite Eastern European look.

Mikhail noticed my scrutiny and laughed, "Sorry, we have Geography together."

"Yeah, I'm sorry. I don't remember you."

He smiled, "It's ok. it's a huge lecture hall."

I nodded, "That it is."

"Listen, I hope you don't think this is too forward of me or anything, but would you like to have dinner with me?"

My eyebrows shot up. Holy shit!

"You're asking me out?"

I was used to girls asking to go out back in the day, but this was the first time a guy ever asked me out. I mean, I knew guys crushed on me, because, well, I was Skyler Chin after all! It was still a shocker to be asked out, especially in the dining hall.

Mikhail nodded.

"Uh Mikhail, I'm in a serious relationship," I said, not knowing how to turn this guy down easily.

Luckily he didn't take it too hard. He merely grinned, "Please, call me Mike," he said charmingly, "I figured you would be taken, but I had to try."

I smiled, "Can't blame you for trying. That takes balls."

Mikhail laughed, "Yeah. I have big balls."

I smirked.

"You live around here?" I asked conversationally.

Mikhail shook his head, "No, I live in Staten Island."

"Oh that's cool. I was thinking you were from Long Island, but it didn't seem right."

Mikhail laughed, "It's my Russian accent mixed in with my Staten Island accent," he offered, "My parents like to speak to me only in Russian."

I nodded. Staten Island. That was in New York. Hmm.

Then an idea came to me.

I leaned forward, "Are you free anytime over winter break?"

He looked confused but nodded slowly, "I work, but I have days off. Why?"

"I have this friend," I started.

************

"Hey, you ok?"

I turned around as the familiar voice broke into my thoughts.

I smiled at Zeke as he entered my bedroom.

"Yeah, I'm good."

I faintly heard the noise of the annual Christmas Eve party my Mom had going on downstairs. My attention though was actually focused on my messy bedroom. For some reason I was going to miss this messy room.

"You sure?" Zeke asked, coming closer to me. His face looked concerned.

I wrapped my arm around his shoulder and pulled him to me, "The holidays just got me thinking of family and then I got thinking of my room and my childhood and Storm. When I start thinking, well, I'm not my normal self," I admitted as I kissed his forehead.

Zeke didn't say anything, just hugged me. I wrapped my arms around his small body and rested my cheek on his head.

"We'll be moving soon," I murmured, "We're almost there."

Zeke nodded, "You're looking forward to leaving?"

"I'm feeling everything right now. I'm sad to say goodbye to my routine for the past four years, to my old self, to my family, and especially to Storm, but I'm happy to also leave the past behind and move into the future with you," I paused, "Does that make sense?"

Zeke chuckled, "Absolutely. Those are natural feelings."

"Have you started packing yet?" I asked, referring to our trip to San Francisco. We would be leaving the day after Christmas.

"Yeah, but I always pack until the last minute."

"Me too."

I took one more look at the room and then pulled back from Zeke, "Come on, let's go back downstairs. Without Storm around, I'm the representative of the both of us."

Storm had stopped by briefly, but then left to head back to his own apartment to stay with Kate. She couldn't be with her family and she was too embarrassed to come to our party, so Storm decided to keep her company.

Zeke smiled and we intertwined our hands, heading for the hallway.


***********CREW************


I stared at the white greyhound in front of me and the leash attached to Hiro's hand as he held it out to me.

"Huh?"

"This is for you," Hiro stated simply.

"You bought me a dog for Christmas?" I asked a little surprised. I didn't think Hiro was a dog person or a pet person in general. I leaned down and petted the dog's small head.

It silently looked up at me, without barking while I pet it.

"Yeah, a dog for my little pup," Hiro said smiling widely at me. Without waiting for me to answer, he leaned in and claimed my lips, placing his hand behind my neck and urging my mouth forward.

I wrapped my arms around his neck and hugged him as our kiss deepened.

We broke apart a little breathless. I looked down between us; the dog was just standing on all fours, looking up at us quietly.

"This dog is eerily quiet," I remarked.

Hiro laughed, "Well, these are retired racing dogs. They're very obedient and disciplined and trained."

"Is it a boy or a girl?"

"Boy."

"What's his name?" I asked patting his head again.

Hiro smiled, "That's for you to decide."

"I don't know any dog names..."

"Well, start thinking," Hiro said, passing me the leash.

I knelt down and stared at the dog, taking in its lean graceful body, its poised posture. Most other dogs would be bouncing and hopping around.

The dog had a long neck, straight front legs, and hare-like hind legs. It looked so lean and strong; I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He was indeed a beautiful dog.

"Greyhounds have barely any body fat so you need to keep him indoors most of the time, unless it's good weather. They run really fast, up to 40 miles per hour. If you let it loose, it has to be within an enclosed area; otherwise you must keep a leash on at all times," Hiro advised.

I only half listened to him as I stared into the dog’s eyes and petted the long neck gently. The dog just stared back at me.

"I should name him after you," I said randomly.

Hiro frowned but looked amused, "Why is that?"

"He's just like you. Quiet, reserved, graceful, elegant," I said not looking away from the dog, "beautiful," I finished.

I felt Hiro kneel beside me, "Well do you really want to tell people in the future that Hiro is your boyfriend AND your dog? That might get you some funny stares or some weird friends with very odd dog fetishes."

I burst out laughing and heard Hiro chuckling as well.

"You may have a point there," I said standing up again and kissing Hiro's neck briefly.

"Thank you," I added.

He rubbed my lower back, "You're welcome, but you still haven't picked out a name yet."

"Uh, Sushi," I threw out randomly.

"Sushi?" Hiro asked with a confused smile.

"Well, I couldn't name him after you, so I picked something else," I said shrugging.

"There are other Japanese names to use. You didn't have to resort to food," Hiro said shaking his head with amusement.

"Well then you should have named him," I said sticking my tongue out at him and then I tugged at the leash, "Come Sushi; come boy."

As I walked near the living room, Hiro's strong arm wrapped around my waist. Then I felt him walking behind me as he held onto me.

***************

It was weird snowboarding without the twins. For the past three years straight and also practically every weekend, I had been working with them, so I definitely felt their absence.

Storm had opted not to work this season because of Kate. He wanted to be with her whenever he had free time. Free time did not happen often since he still needed to finish up the semester. Now that it was winter break, he wanted to make sure he was available to support her. From what I heard, Kate was going through a rough time-with this whole pregnancy ordeal.

Skyler wasn't working for the week, since he and Zeke had taken off to San Francisco with Sky's Mom. He would be back soon enough for the rest of the season, but it was still odd not to have him around right after the holidays.

But I didn't feel so bad. I had Hiro. He had taken Storm's place as an instructor. Now we were working together on a daily basis. In a way I was getting paid to spend time with my boyfriend while doing a sport I loved. I couldn't really complain.

Today was a particularly busy day, as was usual most weekends. The slope was crowded with tons of group lessons. It seemed as if every year the groups got larger and larger.

Luckily for me, Hiro and I were both instructing together because of the bigger groups.

Like I said, I couldn't complain.

After our previous lesson, there was an hour break. Hiro and I got in line to ride the lift.
He clasped his glove covered hand over mine as our boards knocked together during the lift ride. I smiled at him although we couldn't see one another's eyes because of our goggles.

We did six ridiculously fast runs down the mountain, competing. Hiro beat me every time.

His moves were just too precise, accurate, and careful to waste energy on unnecessary movements.

"Hiro, why are you so good?" I whined, stamping my foot as we took a breather.

I gave a cry when Hiro tumbled to the ground pulling me along with him. I laughed and squirmed as his warm lips made contact with my cold face and lips. I couldn't roll away since Hiro had me completely pinned to the snow. He didn't seem like he was going to let me up anytime soon.

"Hiro," I said between his kisses, "Our break is almost over."

Hiro stood up and pulled me up along with him. He engulfed me in his arms and I was pressed against his chest tightly.

I felt his lips near my ear and he whispered, "I love you," and began nibbling on my ear.

I had to force myself to place my hands on his chest and push him away.

"Hiro, you're getting me hot. We're working right now," I reminded him. I gasped as he yanked me close again, tightening his grip around me as I tried to free myself.

"One more kiss," he murmured searching for my mouth.

I relented because the truth was I had trouble resisting Hiro. I pressed my lips against his, allowing Hiro's tongue to push through. I moaned and snuggled in closer to his embrace.

"Crew, where are you?"

I yanked myself from Hiro. We were both flushed and not from the cold air.

Seconds later I saw Brian, another instructor, emerge from behind some trees that led to the other half of the mountain.

"Come on, we need you guys. New groups are arriving right about now," Brian said and then he continued walking past us.

I smiled at Hiro, somewhat in relief. I was out but not everyone I worked with knew I was gay. I kind of wanted to keep it that way.

"Sorry baby," Hiro said.

"It's ok, let's head back," I said nudging him affectionately.

When we got to the lesson area I saw two familiar faces.

"Hey guys, what are you doing here?" I called out.

"What does it look like?" Bryce asked but he was smiling as he and Hela walked closer.

"I thought you didn't care for snowboarding, Hela, since, you know, you fall so much," I said, giving Hela a cocky grin.

Hela mock glared at me, "Hey, I've gotten better!"

"Have you ever snowboarded before?" Hiro asked Bryce.

"Nah, it just wasn't a sport I’ve ever done," he answered.

"Oh, be prepared to have a sore ass," I said.

Hela smirked, "His ass is already sore." He cried out as Bryce cuffed him playfully upside the head.

"Maybe his ass won't be so sore tonight," Hela whispered to me as he rubbed his head.

I guffawed.

"I feel so old," Bryce said as we were standing around, waiting for more people to show up. I surveyed the group so far and most of them were either kids or teenagers. Bryce didn't look old or anything, but he was much older than the average beginner.

"Who cares, Bryce? We're just doing it for fun. You don't have to be great at this sport. Besides, you should try it at least once," Hela said.

So we did the usual. Hiro and I taught the basics moves, to get everyone started, did some practicing individually with each person.

Hela wasn't so bad, since he had been snowboarding a few times already. Bryce was like most beginners, and had some trouble. He fell a lot.

"Listen, you're thinking too much about the moves, Bryce. You know what to do, just let your body guide you," Hiro advised as he helped pull Bryce off the snow.

Bryce wiped his pants of the snow and unlatched his board from his boots before walking back up the mountain.

"I don't think this is my thing," he admitted.

"It's ok Bryce. Everyone has something they're good at and what not," I consoled, "Like you're really good at basketball, but I would suck doing that," I added. "Just do it for today and try to enjoy the day." Bryce smiled at me.

Bryce glanced at Hela who was at the bottom of the slope and was making his way up. He was smiling and waving in our direction.

"Yeah, I'll make the best of it," Bryce said staring purposefully at Hela.

"It's all about how you shift your body weight. All you have to worry about is turning. Depending on which way you turn, you have to place your feet differently," Hiro patiently explained. He then demonstrated it while standing beside Bryce, "If you do it enough, it will become second nature."

"Alright, I'll give it another try," Bryce said. He hopped his boots into his board and took off, with Hiro trailing behind at a close distance.

Bryce did do better this time. He managed to switch from a heel turn into a toe turn before falling on his ass.

I grinned.

***********

"Dude, Callum is weird," I muttered to Zeke as we stood outside a Starbucks, while Skyler and Callum got some coffee.

"He's not weird," Zeke replied.

"How come he stares at me so much?" I asked. I felt Hiro's hand grasp my hand tightly.

Zeke smirked when he caught the action, "Chill Hiro; don’t whip out the kung fu," and turned back to me, "He's the cousin of one of my friends at BU. He goes to NYU, and he’s had a huge ass crush on me since meeting me. Since we sort of look alike, I guess he must find you attractive too. It must be those lips of yours that gets him hot," Zeke teased pinching my reddening cheek.

"Shut up," I said slapping his hand away from my face, "Well if you're setting him up with some guy, why is he gawking at me?"

"Until he's in a relationship, he's single. Besides, everyone's got eyes" Zeke replied easily.

I rolled my eyes. From what I had been briefed on during the drive to New York, Skyler told me he was approached by some guy at school and was asked out. Skyler turned the guy down, but then asked if he was interested in meeting one of his friends. That's where Callum came in. Nevertheless, I had never heard of a Callum and I didn't even realize Skyler was friends with him. Hell, I didn't understand how Skyler would be friends with a guy that was crushing on Zeke. I would never be friends with a guy that was after Hiro. Skyler was either really weird or had the biggest heart on the face of this earth.

Anyway, it was cold outside. I was bundled up in my Northface snowboarding coat with gloves and a scarf and I was still freezing.

I was getting annoyed that Skyler and Zeke had dragged Hiro and me along to chaperone some guy's first blind date-especially when it was so cold outside. I didn't mind cold weather, but I didn't really care for it if I was just standing around doing nothing.

"Don't be nervous," I heard Skyler say. I looked up to see him walking out of Starbucks with Callum in tow.

"I can't help it. What if he doesn't like me?" Callum asked apprehensively.

Skyler shrugged, "Easy, you don't have to see him ever again."

"But what if I like him?" Callum questioned.

"Uh," Skyler stalled, "Then move on to another guy to get over this one?" he shot out, "I really don't know, bud. Don't think that far ahead, ok? Why don't you just get through this first meeting with this guy and then figure out what to do next? All this thinking and what-not is making my head hurt," he said, rubbing his baseball cap-covered-head.

Zeke laughed and moved close to Skyler.

"I'm sure everything will be fine, Callum. If the date’s shitty, we're here. We can all go out afterwards to cheer you up."

Callum looked stunned, "You have a cheer-up plan for me already?" he asked incredulously.

Skyler held up his hands, "It's an additional plan. It's not like we think this date will suck ass, but you never know."

Callum looked uneasy. Jeez, has this guy ever been on a date before?

"If worse comes to worst, you head back home. It is close, since you live in New York, and you can emotion eat or something," Skyler added.

Hiro held up his hand, "Come on, enough of your advice," he said to Skyler and Zeke. He turned to Callum, "This is a first date. Technically there is no romantic interest, so there's no reason to get all worried. All you have to do is go there, meet him, and basically have a good time, as friends, while you get to know each other. So think of it as meeting a new buddy for the first time, ok? No pressure involved." Hiro said. Callum looked a little more relaxed.

Good ol' Hiro. Able to calm anyone down.

"There he is," Skyler announced. We all looked down the street.

"Which one?" I asked.

"The tall one with brown hair, pale skin, and sharp cheekbones. Looks very European," Skyler added.

"Oh," Hiro and I said at the same time as we locked onto the figure.

Well, the guy was very good looking. That was a good start. Yeah, we were a shallow bunch.

Taller and thinner than the twins, his expensive black pants and shoes set him apart from the crowd. His face was clean shaven and his skin was pale and smooth. He had nice lips, a long straight nose, an oval shaped face, and remarkably high cheekbones.

"Wow, he's hot," Callum mumbled in awe.

"Yeah," Skyler nodded, "He lives in Staten Island. He's Russian, name's Mikhail."

Mikhail reached our group and said hi to Skyler first. It made sense as he was the only person he actually knew among us.

Skyler did the honor of the introductions, "Mike, this is Callum. Callum, this is Mike."

Callum and Mike shyly shook hands. We all stood there awkwardly. That was the problem with blind dates or whatever, they were always so awkward. Luckily Skyler was a great buffer to have around.

He draped his arm over Zeke's shoulder, "Alright then, let's head to dinner," and he quickly led the way, Zeke in tow.

Hiro and I followed behind Callum and Mike. I watched as Mike animatedly made conversation with Callum who was smiling and laughing. Well, it appeared things were off to a good start.

"It's really cold," I muttered to Hiro. I dug my hands inside my pockets, burrowing my face inside my coat.

"Don't worry, we're almost there," Hiro whispered to me, smiling as he edged a little closer. I smiled back.

**********ZEKE**********

"So you're ok with this?" Skyler asked as we sat side-by-side on the top of the baby slope mountain.

I felt the coldness from the snow seep through my pants and chill my ass, but continued to sit anyway. Skyler sure chose weird times to have serious conversations.

"Yeah, I'm ok with it Skyler," I said turning to him with a smile, "You know I'll be happy anywhere as long as we're together. I understand how you might not want to move so far away, especially with what's going on with Storm and everything."

Skyler looked down at his hands as he fiddled with his boot strap, "Yeah, I know, but I always wanted to go somewhere else for awhile. For some reason, when we were out there, something was holding me back. I just can't go right now."

I touched his shoulder comfortingly, "I know baby."

He looked at me, "But I still want to get away from here after we graduate. Maybe not California, but somewhere we won't be constantly bugged. Like, I don't want to be caught up in all the drama with Dad and my brother or what not. I just want it to be our time and our life. I also want to be close enough where if anyone really needed me, I could be there for them."

Skyler flopped onto his back, stray snow flying up. He sighed heavily, "God, I'm such a baby. Can't even leave my family at almost 22."

I laughed, leaned down and kissed his cheek, "You're not a baby Skyler. Come on, you’ve lived here your entire life and you're close with your family. Plus, you have a twin brother. You can't get any closer than that. I was surprised you even wanted to leave in the first place."

Skyler gave a small cry, "I'm all over the place. SHIT!"

I slapped his arm, "There are kids around here," I said but smiled anyway.

He sat up quickly, snow stuck in his black hair. I affectionately brushed off some of it.

"Want to give New York a try?"

"What?"

"New York. It's close by, but far away enough. There are so many cool places to work," he said, his eyes lighting up, "One of my Aunts is subletting a place or something like that."

I eyed him. I could tell by the look on his face that the idea was already gelling. Most likely we were gonna go with it.

I shook my head. My crazy boyfriend.

I leaned over and kissed him quickly on the lips, "New York sounds great. Whenever you want to check anything out, I'm there."

"Really?"

"As long as I'm with you," I murmured, my face turning serious.

Skyler smiled, "Now who's the sappy one?" he teased, leaning in closer to my face.

I grinned and blushed, looking down into my lap bashfully, "Me."

Skyler laughed and hugged me.

*************

"Did you have fun in San Francisco?" Crew asked as I stretched out on his bed while he cleaned his room.

I watched as Crew separated some dirty clothes into two piles and then he started to wipe his desk with a wet rag. I shook my head. Crew was such a clean freak.

"Yeah, we had a blast. We hit up the Union Square, Chinatown, and walked on
Lombard," I answered.

"Did you find a place you liked?" Crew pressed.

I sat up, "No, well kind of."

Crew frowned, "What? I'm confused now."

I smiled, "Well we did find good places, but everywhere we went, Skyler found something wrong with it. Then at the end of the trip, Skyler said he wasn't so sure if he wanted to, or was ready to, move so far, so soon."

Crew tilted his head, "Really? I got the impression he was really excited to go."

I nodded in agreement, "I think he was too, but then the reality of leaving everyone got to him. You know what's going on with Storm and everything. I guess he just needed to be around."

"You're cool with it?"

"Yeah, I mean, I'm open to living in a new place. But I'd be just as content living around here or a couple of hours away. Either way, I'll have Skyler. So I'm not heartbroken that this fell through."

"Then you'll be staying here?"

"Well, we're thinking of checking out New York. The twins have relatives all over New York."

"Yeah, that's true," Crew said as he began wiping off a lamp, "Well I'm sorry California didn't work out."

I smirked, "Yeah, that would be loads more convincing if you weren't smiling," I teased.

Crew looked down and then jumped onto his bed beside me, "Fine, I admit it. I'm so glad you're staying or at least living nearby," and then he wrapped his arms around me and laid his head on my chest.

I chuckled, "I could tell. You're not real good at pretending, bud."

He slapped my stomach and we both laughed.

"Things have changed so fast since last year, haven’t they?" Crew asked.

"Yeah, it was like our lives actually started. I mean, you met Hiro; Skyler and I finally got together; and now, here we are," I mused.

"Promise after graduation you'll still be around," Crew mumbled, his face pressed against my chest.

"Of course Crew. We're always gonna be best friends, no matter what," I promised, kissing the top of his head.

************

Well, as they say, all good things must come to an end. Winter break passed rather quickly.

Storm was always busy and I rarely saw the guy. Skyler worked everyday at the mountain practically, as did Hiro and Crew. I came along every day and snowboarded for free. That's about all I did. We were all getting old; we didn't do anything fun.

Skyler and I however did make quite a few trips to the city, to scope out property. It turns out his Aunt on his Dad's side was subletting a Manhattan apartment; he was talking with her on renting it. It was a nice place and fair sized for two people. New York apartments weren't known for their size.

Skyler also was looking for jobs on Monster, Craigslist, and Yahoo. He was trying to line something up in New York. I thought it was too early. We still had one more semester left, but when he got eager or excited about something, people had better get out of his way or be bulldozed.

Oh, and things were going well between Callum and Mikhail. After their first date, things had really taken off. From Callum’s emails, I knew they were going on dates practically every single night.

I was happy for Callum, glad he had found someone, and glad he was no longer crushing on me. It had made it awkward for me and hard to be friends. The only bad thing about it was that Callum no longer visited Boston. I was kind of lonely.

It was snowboarding season and between that and his classes, Skyler couldn't visit. Neither could Crew or Hiro. They had just started the spring semester a few days ago. I started a little later, so I was stuck all alone in Boston, cut off from my friends, until spring break, which was way too long from now.

I had Davy, my roommate, but hell, he had his own life too.

I sighed as I stared at my laptop screen, scanning my buddy list for the umpteenth time. I silently cursed the fact that no one cool was online.

"I need cooler friends," I muttered to myself before flopping loudly onto my bed.

I had no idea where Davy was and I wasn't in the mood to track the guy down. Instead I went into the hallway and walked along until I came to Angelo's room.

Angelo was a pretty cool Italian guy and really popular. If someone needed directions to the nearest party, Angelo could point you to it.

His door was wide open. He was on his laptop, typing quickly with books strewn all over the place.

"Hey, isn't it a little early to be shitting out a paper?" I asked as I walked inside.

He glanced at me with his dark brown eyes and instantly smiled.

"What's up man? How was your break?"

"Great," I sighed, “I don't want to be back here."

Angelo laughed, "Chill man, you only have one semester before graduation. I’ve got an entire year!"

"True," I said nodding, "But seriously, we just moved back in. What's with all the books?"

He glanced around at his desk, "Oh, I checked some online syllabi for my classes. I'm getting started on the reading and homework assignments."

I raised my brow in question.

Angelo ran his fingers through his thick dark hair, "I didn't do well my last semester. My mother is on me like crazy. If I don't do better this semester, she's thinking of pulling me out or something. As much as I hate school, I have to finish."

"Well, you look like you're on top of things," I commented indicating his books.

He sighed again, "Yeah, but it means I have to cut down on my partying."

I feigned shock, "You, partying?"

Angelo smirked, "Yeah, it fucking blows. It just means I can only party, like, three times a week, instead of every night."

I chuckled, "Did you tell your mom that?"

Angelo gave me a look, "Are you fucking crazy?" he demanded.

I rubbed my head and flopped on his bed, sighing.

"What's up with you?"

"I'm just a little bored right now. Davy is gone; all my friends are in Jersey. I don't know what to do with myself," I answered, rubbing my face.

"Well there's a party in one of the frat houses," Angelo said, "It's only a few streets away. You could easily walk there and back if you get completely blitzed."

I sat up and blinked at him, "I wouldn't know anyone there."

Angelo shrugged, "These parties are always huge. Chances are fifty percent of the people don't know one another. That’s how college parties usually work, Z,” he grinned.

"Will you go with me?" I asked, wanting to know at least one person at the party even if they ended up ditching me.

"I don't know. I still have a few more chapters to read," Angelo said.

"Come on. I won't even stay long. I'm just going out of my mind here," I pleaded.

He closed his books, "Ok, fine. Why not?"

"Dude, you caved way too easy," I said laughing.

He began laughing too as he grabbed his coat from his closet, "I know, man. I don't know what I'm gonna do."

Together we walked for about ten minutes. I easily figured where the party was located, even if I couldn't see the building yet. Music was loud; I heard drunken cries and screams, mingled with obnoxious giggles. Yup, a party was definitely in the vicinity.

Angelo was grinning at me, rubbing his hands together, "PARTY!"

We walked inside and there were so many people that I instantly felt hot. But not knowing where to put my coat, I left it on as I went further into the house.

Angelo was a popular guy and when I turned around, he was no longer with me. He was talking with a guy I didn't recognize and with some girls who were surrounding them.

I didn't know many people who went to frat parties. Xavier had been a frat dude. Between my bad experience with him, and my steady relationship with Skyler, I had steered clear of frat guys. They just made me uneasy.

Glancing one last time at Angelo, who looked like he was having a good time, I shrugged and headed on, searching for the kitchen.

The kitchen was packed with people and drinks. I found a chair, hung my coat around it, and then went to get myself a drink.

I found a bottle of Barcardi Apple and poured myself a cup full. Yeah, it was a lot of strong alcohol, but I was bored, kind of bummed about being here all alone-I needed something potent to get me buzzed, and fast.

I took a large sip and felt the liquid burn down my throat and settle into my stomach. I grimaced but took another large sip and kept drinking until the cup was empty.

I went to the cupboards and began opening them, looking for food. I found some crackers and ate a few of them before filling my cup with soda.

With my soda in my hand, I ventured around, still not recognizing anyone. The people that I did recognize, I didn't really know. I wasn't in the mood to make small talk.

Some drunken girls tried to get me to dance. I had trouble getting away from them, though I eventually did.

At this point, I was beginning to feel the effects of the alcohol. I hadn't eaten much and I had sucked down a lot of hard liquor in a relatively short amount of time. My steps were clumsy and my head was spinning. I felt dizzy.

I latched onto the staircase railing; I dropped my empty soda cup in order to clutch the railing with two hands as I pulled myself up the stairs. I pushed through some more people and went inside a room at the end of the hall, hoping it was empty so I could lie down in peace.

Thankfully, it was.

I heavily flopped onto the bed and closed my eyes, the loud music still thumping through the closed door. I took some deep breaths to clear my head and went to the bathroom to splash my face with water. The cold water did make me feel better and a little more alert.

When I came back out, there was another guy sitting on the bed. He looked at me as I walked towards him, eyeing me in an odd way. Perhaps he was trying to tell if I was drunk or not. Well I sure as hell was!

"Needed some quiet and to clear my head," I said, kind of slurring, falling forward slightly onto the bed.

He laughed, "Me too."

I resumed my sprawled out position on the bed and sighed, closing my eyes. Suddenly, I felt a hand slide up the inside of my thigh. My eyes popped open and I shot up on the bed, fighting off a wave of nausea.

I looked at the guy angrily and threw his hand off of me.

"What the fuck are you doing?" I demanded, feeling more alert now. Strangers groping you will do that, I guess.

I became weary and nervous when I saw the guy's expression. I hadn't noticed his expression before, maybe because I wasn't looking for it or maybe because my eyesight was messed up from the alcohol, but his look made me brace for trouble.

His face looked dazed and there was a lustful look in his eyes which I was afraid would lead somewhere dangerous. I glanced at the door and then at his face. I bolted for it, but the guy caught me and gripped my wrist tightly.

"Where are you going, Zeke?" he asked, practically spitting my name out.

My eyes widened. I didn't know this guy; how the fuck did he know my name?

Without a word, he threw me onto the bed and pushing my legs apart. He pinned me, while holding my arms with each hand.

"What the fuck! Get off me!" I shouted.

"Listen buddy. I know you're a fag. I've seen you around with your little boyfriend. Now I gotta get off and my girlfriend is being a little bitch. So you're just gonna have to do, for now," the guy hissed, his eyes dark and narrowed.

I swallowed hard in fear and could feel my skin become cold and clammy.

"We're both drunk right now. Let's not do something we'll regret, ok?" I said, trying to talk my way out of this.

The guy leered, "No bitch, you're drunk. And you're gonna get the fucking of your life," he sneered, reaching for my belt.

"NO!" I shouted, bucking wildly.

The guy was already off balance, holding me down with one hand and reaching for my belt with the other, and I managed to throw him off of me momentarily. I quickly rolled off the bed and onto the floor, scrambling for the door. I was pulled backwards by the back of my shirt. I felt it tear. I gave a cry and dug my heels into the carpet.

"FUCK YOU!" I screamed. I blindly threw my elbow backwards and then heard a cry of pain.

"I'm gonna fucking kill you!" the guy yelled. I almost made it to the door, but was spun around and hit hard in the face. I felt a throbbing pain near my eye and the bridge of my nose. Something hot trickled out of my nose and quickly down my chin.

He stared at me, stunned for a second, but then snapped out of it. He reached for me again, but I kicked his kneecap; he bowled over.

I threw open the door and shoved my way through the hall and in the direction of the stairs.

"Get your ass back here!"

I could hear him behind me and that had me panicked. I started pushing people out of the way more frantically, desperate to get away from him, or at least into a large group of people. I had never felt so scared in my life. Well, except with Xavier.

I got funny looks from people, probably from the blood running down my face and onto my shirt. I got to the banister and felt a hand grip my side and then fist my shirt.

"You're gonna be sorry for this," the guy hissed at me as I turned to look into his angry face.

I was breathing hard and just wanted to get away. I automatically stepped backwards, and then I felt myself falling. In the background, I heard cries of surprise and shouts of warning.

My ass hit the next few steps first. By instinct, my arms came around my head, to cradle it in safety. I felt like I was rolling forever, my sides aching as each step dug into my flesh, until I hit the wooden floor at the very bottom.

I landed heavily on my side, and I groaned in pain, but didn't have time to really feel it. The next thing I knew, my forehead hit the ground with such force, I saw a flash of white; then things became fuzzy and black.

I lay on the ground, trying to get myself up, but somehow I couldn't get my body to listen to my brain's commands. After a few attempts, I just flopped on the floor, feeling a wet sticky substance around my face.

Eventually, I opened my eyes, blinked, and saw red smudges in front of me.

Things had gone quiet, well, music was still playing, but people were no longer yelling. They were talking in hushed voices; I heard a few girls ask if I was alright.

"Zeke, man, are you ok? What the fuck happened?" I recognized Angelo's voice.

I looked up at him, but had trouble actually seeing him. My head was throbbing real bad at this point, and it hurt to keep my eyes open.

I tried to say something to him, but the inside of my mouth was hurting and tasted metallic-like. I spit and saw that my saliva was tinged a dark red. I stared at it in shock.

"You're bleeding, man. How much did you drink, Zeke? You fucking fell down the stairs," Angelo said gripping me under my arms to help lift me up.

I heard a gasp from the crowd, probably from all the blood that had dripped out of my nose and was smearing all over the place.

Angelo wrapped one of my arms around his neck and he threw his arm around my waist to steady me.

"I didn't fall Angelo. He pushed me," I said swaying.

"Who did?" Angelo asked with confusion. He looked up the stairs and my eyes followed.

I saw the guy who attacked me frozen on the spot. A few of the guys, who I saw Angelo talking with before, were in his face, asking him questions.

"He did! He hit me, then chased me, and then pushed me," I was on the verge of tears at this point.

"Shh, it's ok. Let's head back to the dorm, ok?" Angelo asked in a soothing tone, "Where's your coat."

"The kitchen," I whispered.

"Ok, wait right here, man," and then I saw him head towards the kitchen.

People were still looking at me. All I wanted to do was crawl into my bed, with Skyler beside me, preferably.

"Alright, let's bounce," Angelo said, as he helped me into my coat.

I leaned on him the entire way home. He walked me to my room, where I was met by a very startled Davy.

"Jesus, what the fuck happened to you?" he demanded.

"Some guy hassled him at the frat party," Angelo explained, "He fell down the stairs…or was pushed."

"Pushed?" Davy asked outraged, "Who was the fucker?"

Angelo shrugged, "I didn't know him. I can ask around."

"You do that," Davy said leading me to my bed.

"Hey, I'm gonna go to my room. Stop by if you need anything, ok?" Angelo asked.

"Thanks Angelo," I said as I slowly lay down on my bed. Davy waved to him and then turned on me.

"What really happened?" Davy pressed.

I closed my eyes as tears pricked at the corners.

"I drank too much. I guess I was feeling down. I went upstairs to an empty room to just, I don't know, get away, rest or something. I went to the bathroom and when I came out, this guy was there, saying he needed to rest too. So I figured, no big deal and we just lay on the bed together, but then he started touching me. When I tried to leave, he threw me onto the bed."

Davy gasped, but didn't interrupt me.

"I tried to get away again and he punched me. We fought some more, but I managed to make it out of the room. He followed me and grabbed me just as I reached the stairs. I must have lost my balance or something, because I fell and hit my head," I said rubbing my swollen and very painful forehead.

"Damn it Zeke. Thank god nothing happened to you," Davy said with relief.

"I know," I agreed.

"You're not having the best luck with men-except for Skyler of course,"
Davy said.

I smiled briefly, "Yeah, Skyler."

"Are you gonna tell him about this?"

"What? No way!" I said. Davy raised his brows at me.

"Well, he's so busy with school, work, looking for a job, and worrying about his brother. I don't want him to have to worry about me too," I said.

Davy frowned, "You should tell him."

"I don't want him to worry. Trust me Davy, I will be ok."

"If you say so," Davy said sounding unconvinced, "Can I get you anything?"

I shook my head, "No, I just need to rest a little. Thanks buddy."

"Hey, that's what roommates and friends are for,” he said smiling.

I smiled as I drifted off to sleep, finally feeling safe.

****************

I slowly woke up to the feeling of someone caressing my face and then felt lips on top of mine. My eyes fluttered open and began to focus. I finally saw Skyler's face looming over mine. I sat up with surprise and looked at him with shock.

"What are you doing here?" Then I groaned and clutched my head as a headache began to radiate everywhere.

"So, what's all this about not wanting me to worry?" Skyler asked innocently.

I looked around the room for Davy but he was nowhere to be found.

"Damn you Davy," I muttered under my breath.

Skyler looked serious though, "So, you weren't planning on telling me that some guy tried to rape you and then practically kill you?"

I sighed, "You have so much on your mind right now, that I didn't-"

He cut me off, "There's always room for you, Zeke."

"I know, but-"

"No buts! I want you to tell me everything. I need to know what's going on and that you're ok. I would die if you didn't tell me anything and then one day something really bad happened to you," Skyler continued.

"I know. I'm sorry Skyler."

He kissed my forehead gently, "It's ok. Nothing to be sorry about, baby. He rested his forehead against mine and stared into my eyes. I got lost in the deep darkness of his brown orbs.

"So you drove all the way here on a Thursday night? Don't you have class tomorrow?" I asked, vaguely remembering his schedule.

Skyler smiled, his fingers massaging my neck, "It's an easy elective class. A one hundred level. I'm skipping it. You're gonna have me for the entire weekend," he drawled out.

I looked at him directly, "Wait, what? The entire weekend? What about your job?"

He shrugged, "I quit it."

"What?" I practically yelled, "You love snowboarding."

Skyler laughed at my mini outburst, "Yeah, but I love you more."

I swear to fucking god, my insides melted when he said that. I just threw myself into his arms.

He laughed again, wrapping his arms tightly around me, "I don't need the money really. I did it for fun, but now I want to spend my time with you. In the past, I never really had someone with whom to spend the weekends. Lord knows I didn't care about school back in the day; so yeah, quitting seemed like the obvious choice. So guess who will be here every weekend?" he asked winking at me suggestively as he pulled me backwards onto the bed and hugged me.

I snuggled into him and sighed.

"So I'm stuck with you?" I asked, pretending it was a huge chore for me.

"You're stuck with me," Skyler said gently nipping on my ear.


 



 

Copyright © 2011 Tiff; All Rights Reserved.
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