I'm back! After two weeks of constant writing, I'm a few chapter into my new story. I'm going to be posting every Monday and Friday, so be on the lookout for a new chapter. Comments and emails are appreciated and welcomed. Let me know what you think of the new story from just the first chapter. Be aware, I'm going to make this more of a romance story, so the sex may take a little while to pop up. Either way, I really hope you like this 'Could I Be...?'

On a different note, as per some of your emails and comments, I'm attempting to get 'Am I...?' published into a real book. I've submitted it to a M/M romance publisher and have been told that an editor would be assigned to me within the next few days, so I'm anxiously waiting for that email to pop up in my inbox. Anyway, enough about me. Here's the first chapter of 'Could I Be...?'


Chapter 1

"We're almost there, sweetie," Mom tells me.

I look up from my iPod and glance out the window, watching the town of Palo Alto pass us by. It's a pretty town and it's nice to watch it go by, even though I'm crammed in the back of Dad's SUV with a lot of my stuff. Stanford is only about five minutes away and I can't wait. I was told my roommate was a football player, so I'm pretty stoked to meet him.

Finally, we drive into the front gate of Stanford, my home for the next four years. The car rolls up to my residence house. We climb out of the car, stretch our arms and legs, and start unloading. There are about two-dozen other cars here, unloading their trucks. A few student volunteers help to unload Dad's car.

Mom, Dad, and I carry a few boxes up to the fourth floor and find room 417, my room. The D.A. (dorm advisor) gets the door open for us and we walk in. Half the room is completely bare. The other half is decorated to perfection.

The bed is neatly made, not a sheet out of place, the bookshelf has a few textbooks in it already, along with several trophies with small figurines of football players on top, some of the wall is covered by posters of football players and action shots of games, free weights and a bench press sit next to the desk, a fair-sized flat screen sits on a small dresser at the foot of the bed, and a beautiful guitar rests on a stand next to the bed.

The only thing that's missing is my roommate. "Your roommate must be a very meticulous person," says Dad, walking into the room with a cardboard box in his hands.

"Sure seems that way," I say.

All three of us set down the boxes on my side of the room, next to my bare bed. My name's Eric Swanson, 18 years old, freshman just starting college. I'm here on a full athletic scholarship for baseball, where I'm a pitcher. My 6 foot 3 height gives me an advantage on the mound.

Along with my height is my 180-pound built body from working out and, of course, baseball. I have light brown hair that I tend to sweep to the right in the front, stayed up by some gel. But I wear my lucky baseball cap most of the time, like I'm wearing right now (backwards of course), along with my dark brown eyes. And thanks to genetics, I'm stunning.

I owe most of my looks to Dad. He may be in his mid-forties, but he has this rugged look to him that makes a lot of girls do double takes whenever he passes. He's the same height as me and has greying light brown hair and dark brown eyes as well. The only thing Mom gave me was her nose, which looks feminine on her, but masculine on me (I broke it when I was in 11th grade, so it's a bit crooked, but it still looks good on me).

Mom may be 5 foot 4, but if you don't listen to her, she'll make you regret it (no, she doesn't hurt me. She just likes to be in an authoritative position). She has strawberry blonde hair that she likes to keep in a ponytail and is the same age as Dad (but doesn't look like it at all).

We keep carry box after box up the stairs, placing them down on the floor, on the bed, the desk, and just about every bit of space there is. We finally get the last box into the room and start unloading my stuff. "You must be my roommate."

I look toward the door and the guy leaning against the doorframe almost makes me drop the box I'm holding. He looks to be about an inch shorter than me, but must have at least ten pounds on me, all of it muscle underneath taught lightly tanned skin. He's wearing a t-shirt that's soaked in sweat, basketball shorts, and some running shoes.

He has an incredibly handsome face with a five o'clock shadow, dark brown hair in the shape of a short fauxhawk and cool grey eyes. He also has a smile that seems to light up the room. "And you must be my roommate," I say. I walk over to him and hold my hand out. "Eric Swanson."

He takes my hand in a firm grip, his hand rough and callused. "Josh Rusden. Nice to meet you, Eric." He looks past me and sees my parents. "And you must be Mr. and Mrs. Swanson."

Mom and Dad smile and walk over next to me, both of them extending their hands. "Hannah and Todd Swanson," says Mom. "It's very nice to meet you, Josh."

"The pleasure is mine," Josh replies.

Wow. Either this guy is a total poser, or he's got to be the most courteous guys I've ever met. "So Josh," says Dad. "From all the trophies and posters, I take it you're a football player?"

"Yes, sir," Josh replies. "I'm a running back. I'm here on a full athletic scholarship and am about to start with the Cardinals next week."

"Very impressive," says Mom. "Eric here is also on a full athletic scholarship and is playing baseball in the spring. He's a pitcher."

"Mom..." I whine.

Josh just smiles. "Maybe I'll come out to one of your games in the spring," he says.

"Yeah, that'd be cool," I say.

"Need any help unpacking the boxes?" Josh asks.

"Oh, that would be wonderful," says Mom. "You're so considerate."

Josh helps unload the boxes and seems to organize them just like I'd like them (even though I'm a complete slob). I learn from Josh that he's from Santa Ana and that he's more than just brawn. There's a good brain underneath all that muscle, along with a sense of humor and a large amount of selflessness. I like this guy already...

We get everything unpacked and I walk Mom and Dad out to the hallway. "Promise to call us tonight," says Mom, emotion in her voice.

"I promise, Mom," I say.

"And video chat with us every Saturday night," says Dad.

"If I'm not too drunk," I joke.

Mom smacks the side of my head and pulls me into a tight hug. Dad hugs us a second later and we hold each other for a minute, not saying anything. They let me go, give me one more wave, and walk down the hall, leaving me behind. I turn and walk back into my room and find Josh sitting on his bed, in a clean t-shirt. "You can cry if you want," he says.

"Why would I cry?" I ask.

"Because you're already doing it." I touch my cheek and see Josh is right. I'm actually crying. I haven't cried when someone left me since I was 11 years old, after my dog, Bennett, died. I take a seat on my bed and let the tears flow. "Don't worry. It was the same for me. Being on your own for the first time, not having your parents to rely on, it's a lot to take in."

I nod a bit and wipe my face dry. It's cool to know Josh is so understanding. Most guys would see a crying guy and assume he's a fag. I've grown up with the words 'gay' and 'fag' being insults. I still follow that to this day. If there's anything I hate more, it's being labeled a fag.

Josh stands up from his bed and walks over to his TV. From behind, he produces two game controllers. "Maybe some video games will cheer you up," he says.

I sniff my nose a bit. "You got Mortal Kombat?" I ask.

"Am I dead?"

I laugh and Josh tosses me a controller. He turns on the TV and game system at the foot of his bed and takes his desk chair and moves it so he's in front of the TV and takes a seat. I do the same and take a seat next to him. Within minutes, we're screaming insults and shoving each other like we've been friends for years.

We play for a solid two hours before we end our virtual fighting with a draw. We both fall back into our seats, laughing a bit. The laughing is suddenly replaced by a low rumble and I see it's coming from me. "Hungry?" Josh asks.

"A bit," I say. "My parents and I arrived a little late and we didn't have time to stop for lunch on the way down from Eureka."

"You're from Eureka?"

"No, Seattle. We started driving here yesterday, thinking we could make it here on time, but a freak storm made us stop for the night in Eureka."

"Well, c'mon then," Josh says, standing up. "Let's get some food in you. Let me just get one guy before we go down there."


"The guy I'm closest to."

Josh leaves the room before I can ask another question, and I'm left a bit confused. The guy he's closest to? Does he mean a good friend? Josh comes back into the room a minute later, but he isn't alone.

He has him arm draped over the shoulder of a guy I'm convinced it too perfect to be real. He has hair as dark and black as night, a face that doesn't have a single flaw to it, a body that can make any guy jealous, and the darkest blue eyes I have ever seen. "Eric," says Josh, "this is Leo Trigon. Leo, this is my roommate Eric Swanson."

Leo flashes a smile that almost blinds me and holds out his hand. "Nice to meet you, Eric," he says.

"Same here, Leo," I manage to get out.

"C'mon," says Josh. "We should get to the dining hall before too many other people get there."

I walk with Josh and Leo down the hall, following close behind them. As I walk with them, I notice something's off. These guys seem...a little too close. They keep bumping into one another and Josh often keeps his arm on Leo's shoulder. Hmmm...

We get to the dining hall and see that there are other students already here, not many, but enough to fill half the seats. Josh, Leo, and I split up and go to our own separate food vendors. I opt for a simple turkey sandwich, chips, and water. I find Josh and Leo already sitting down at a table and take a seat across from them.

I take a bite of my sandwich and already feel relieved. "So, you two know each other?" I ask.

"Yeah," say Leo. "Josh and I met only about a year ago, but we're as close as two people could be."

"By the way, Leo," says Josh. "Where's your roommate?"

"Oh, he had to go check in at the art department," Leo says. "But I texted him, saying I was in the dining hall and he should come and join us. He said he'd meet us here."

"What's his name?" I ask.

"Zane Quinn. He's a graphic design student and may come off as a bit cold, but it's just his way of acting toward people he doesn't know yet. He'll warm up to you after a few minutes. Also...he's a bit...different...in terms of appearance."

"What do you mean?" Josh asks.

Before Leo can answer, he looks over to the dining hall entrance and waves his hand. "Zane!" he calls. "Over here!"

I look to where Leo's looking and see a kid walking over to us. Leo was right about one thing: this kid is...different. He gets to the table and sits down next to me and now that he's this close, I can see the twenty piercings he has in his ears and face, seven in each ear, three in each eyebrow.

To go with the piercings are arms covered in tattoos over pale white skin on a 5 foot 10 lean body, and his hair is dyed a dark blue with highlights of white and black that's buzzed thin on the sides and back of his head. While his face has several metal piercings, it's a handsome face with a sharp jawline and eyes that are...yellow? Contacts, I guess. "Zane," says Leo, "this is Josh and Eric. They're our next door neighbors."

Zane glances at Josh and me, nodding a bit. "You jocks?" he says in a deep voice.

"Yeah," says Josh. "I'm a football player and Eric's a baseball player."

Something suddenly comes from Zane's throat that sounds like a snarl. "I fucking hate jocks..."

The mood at the table suddenly takes a heavy turn. "You hate jocks?" Leo asks.

"Every single one of them," Zane replies. "They're nothing but homophobic, testosterone-filled meatheads..."

"That's such a stereotype," Josh says. "Who says a jock can't be smart, generous, and sees gay people as normal people?"

"Come up with one and maybe I'll see jocks in a different light."

"Well, you're facing one right now," says Leo, draping his arm across Josh's shoulders.

"Excuse me?" says Zane, raising an eyebrow.

"Josh here has got to be one of the smartest, most selfless people you'll ever meet," says Leo. "A 4.3 GPA, saved one of our friends from a gay bashing, managed to stop a gunman in our high school from hurting a lot of people, and is Southern California's running back of the year."

The look I give Josh is the same look Zane has: completely blank. How can anyone be so...perfect? "Is that...all true?" I ask.

"Every bit of it," Josh replies with a smile.

Zane lets out a low huff. "Look, I'm sorry I came off as a total dick," he says. "I just had some bad experiences in high school that pretty much scarred me for life."

"You want to talk about them?" Leo asks.

Zane scratches the back of his head, his eyes ducking away. "Let's just say being the only openly gay student in my Dallas high school has its disadvantages..."

Wait, did Zane just say he was...gay? I feel my fist clench at the word. "I'm sorry to hear that," says Josh. "It was a completely different situation for me and Leo."

Zane and I share the same look of shock. "Wait," I say. "You two are...gay?"

"That's right," says Leo. He takes Josh's hand in his, who smiles. "Josh and I have been dating since last November and are engaged to be married after college."

I push out of my seat, unable to hear anymore of this. "Eric!" Josh calls. "Where're you going?"

Away from you three faggots...

The door doesn't come fast enough as I push myself through and out into the twilight. I quickly walk back to my residence hall and go straight for the D.A. office. I pound my fist on the office door and it opens a few seconds later. A man who looks to be in his early sixties with thinning grey hair meets me. "May I help you?" he asks.

"Yes you can," I say. "I'd like a new roommate assignment."

He looks surprised. "May I ask the reason?"

"My roommate's a faggot and I refuse to sleep in the same room as him."

The man suddenly looks incredibly pissed off. "That, young man, is no excuse to ask for a new roommate," he says. "I'm denying your request for a new roommate until you can come up with a better reason for me to try and find you a new roommate."

My fists clench and a sharp breath blasts out of my nostrils. "Are you fucking kidding me?! You're forcing me to sleep near some queer?!"

He shrugs innocently. "Either that or you can leave this university. All the other residence halls are filled to capacity and first year students aren't allowed to have off campus apartments. So you're going to be a good boy and go back to your room before I kick you out of here."

I want to punch this asshole so fucking hard that I can feel my fingernails digging into the palms of my hands. "You can't do that!" I yell.

"Oh yes I can," he says. "I'm Charles Higgins, head of Florence Moore Hall. I have every right to kick you out of here for being too disruptive if you don't change that attitude of yours."

My fists flies at Charles before I even know what I'm doing. But Charles reacts and his hand shoots for my neck. He grabs the part of my neck that meets my shoulders and gives it a hard squeeze. Pain explodes throughout my body and I fall to my knees, my legs having lost their strength.

Charles lets go and looks down at me, pure contempt in his eyes. "Don't mess with me, boy," he says. "I was a lieutenant general when the U.S. invaded Grenada. I've learned more ways to kill a human with my bare hands than you can count. Now, you're going to go back to your room and shut up like a good student. Got it?"

I nod shakily and get back up to my feet. "And clean up that mouth of yours," he says. "One of my soldiers was a homosexual and he was the best damn fighter I ever saw. He could've been promoted to colonel had his tour not ended early."

I turn and quickly walk back to my room, hoping to get away from this killer of a man.

I get back to my room and unlock my door and walk in. Sitting on his bed is Josh, who stands up at me walking in. "Are you okay, Eric?" he asks. "You bolted from the dining hall."

He takes a step toward me and I take a step back. "Why didn't you tell me?" I snarl.

"Tell you what?"

"That you're a fucking fag!"

All of a sudden, the same look that I saw on Charles' face appears in Josh's eyes, except this one looks twice as hard. "What was that?" he says through gritted teeth.

"You heard me," I say, feeling a bit nervous.

Josh glares at me, his stare enough to set something ablaze. He lets out a breath and walks back to his bed and takes a seat. He grabs a book from the floor and opens it and...starts reading it. "Hey, we were having a conversation," I say.

"And I ended the conversation," he replies, not looking up from the book. How the hell can he be so nonchalant about this?! I take a step toward his bed. "You come any closer to me I beat you so fucking hard, you won't be able to tell your mouth apart from your asshole."

The tone of his voice tells me he isn't kidding. I stop and walk over to my bed and take a seat, scared out of my mind. How can anyone be this intimidating and be a queer? "Why didn't you tell me?" I ask, a lot calmer than before.

Josh looks up from his book and looks over at me. "That's not really how you introduce myself," he says. "Am I supposed to say, "Hi, I'm Josh Rusden, and I'm gay'?"

"It may have helped a bit..."

Josh rolls his eyes and goes back to his book. "It's people like you I hate the most."

"People like me?"

"Ignorant assholes that see a person who happens to be gay as wrong."

"I didn't say it was wrong."

"I heard it in your voice. You probably grew up living a privileged life of luxury, not having to care a bit of what other people thought. You also thought that calling something 'gay' or calling someone 'faggot' was okay. It's not in the least."

Josh shuts his book and sets it back down on the floor and turns to me, resting his elbows on his knees. "You have no idea how hard it is. I may be accepted by my family, friends, and a lot of my old high school classmates, but there are other people in the world who don't accept it.

"I hear the whispers, I see the glances, and notice the disgust in people faces as I pass them by on the street with my hand in Leo's. I want to tell them to fuck off, but I know it isn't right. So I ignore them, but it still hurts. And I'm one of the lucky ones. So you can call me a faggot all you want, I won't change who I am just because some people don't like it."

Josh stands up and walks over to his dresser. He grabs a towel, some shower shoes, and a few toiletries. "I'm going for a shower. Do whatever you want."

He walks over to the door and starts to walk out. "Josh..." I start.

The door slams closed, making me wince. I get up off my bed and start to walk toward the door, but stop when I hear two voices in the hall. "We were getting along so well, Leo," Josh's voice says.

"I could tell, Josh," Leo replies. "I heard you two battling it out over video games earlier."

"But it turns out he's a bigot. He hates gay people. You should've seen the hate that was in his eyes when he confronted me."

I had hate in my eyes...?

"Well, Josh, not everyone here will be like back home. You and I just have to accept that and get through it together. Plus, we can also talk to Zane. He's actually really cool when you get to know him."

"How's he taking the whole thing with Eric?"

"Like you would expect. He's okay with you, and I think he's going to start opening up to you soon, but he sees Eric in the same light as one of his bullies from high school."

I suddenly feel my heart pang. I've never been a bully in my entire life. And just a simple action makes someone see me as one? "I'll come by after I take a shower," Josh says. "Maybe I can talk to Zane a little more. He seems like a nice guy."

Footsteps echo in the hallway and eventually disappear. There's a heaviness on my chest that I've never felt before, and I fucking hate how it feels. I walk back to my bed and take a seat, thoughts running through my head. Have I never seen how the other half feels when they hear people screaming 'faggot' at them?

Now that I think about it, it must be horrible for them. Maybe I should talk to Josh a little more. It might help to get this lump out of my throat and help me understand what gay people are really like.

I sit on my bed, patiently waiting for Josh to return. The door eventually clicks and open and in walks Josh, wearing nothing but a towel and his shower shoes. He sees me and glares at me. "What?" he says. "You going to call me a fag again because I walked into the room almost naked?"

"N-No," I say, incredibly intimidated by Josh's physique. "I...I wanted to apologize."

Josh turns to me, an eyebrow raised. "Apologize?"

"Yeah. The whole gay thing took me by surprise and I reacted in a horrible way. I'm sorry." Josh's face softens and he looks back to his dresser, rummaging through the drawers. "So...are we good?"

"It's a start, but I'm still not sure about you. You could be lying for all I know just so I could forgive you. So, I don't know where we stand right now."

I feel defeat fall onto my shoulders. Knowing I possibly destroyed what could have become a great friendship feels...horrible. "Josh, can we please just...start over? I really do want to try and be friends with you. Do you think that's possible?"

I hear Josh sigh to himself and he looks back to me. "I really don't know, Eric. I can see you're really trying right now, which I appreciate, but I can also see something holding you back from being yourself. I'm not sure I can be friends with someone who lies to themselves and can't be who they really are around me."

Josh starts changing into some clothes, me not even paying attention as Josh drops his towel and exposes his bare ass to me. He quickly puts on a pair of boxer briefs and slips a shirt over his muscular torso. "So that's it then?" I ask. "Where does that leave us?"

"Like 90% of other college roommates: barely talking to each other and being in two completely different worlds." The words hit me like a train, and they hurt twice as bad. Josh pulls up some basketball shorts and slips into a pair of sandals and starts for the door. "I'll be in Leo and Zane's room for a little while."

Josh opens and closes the door behind him, leaving me alone in the empty room, guilt filling my body. My phone suddenly starts ringing and it takes me a second to reach over and take it. "H-Hello?" I say.

"Hi, sweetie!" Mom says.

"Hey, sport," says Dad.

"Your father and I are in Ukiah spending the night here before we finish driving back up to Seattle tomorrow," Mom continues. "How're things down there?"

"Um...not so great," I say. "Remember Josh? My roommate?"

"Yes, he seemed like a fine young man," says Dad. "The text messages you sent us earlier sounded like you two were really getting along."

"Well...I found out...he's gay."

There's silence on the other end of the line for a few seconds. "He's gay?" says Mom.

"And I just royally screwed up with him. I didn't take it very well and kind of blew up about it, calling him...a fag."

Two audible sighs come through the speaker. "Eric," says Dad, "your mother and I raised you better than that."

"I know, Dad. And I feel horrible about it. I tried to apologize, I really did, but Josh almost doesn't even want to give me the time of day. I really want to accept him being gay, but...I'm having a really hard time trying to wrap my head around it."

"Well, sweetie," says Mom, "your dad and I can't help you here. You're an adult now. You need to start learning how to resolve problems on your own. Did you think about how the way you're acting is affecting Josh?"

I think back to overhearing Josh talking to Leo in the hallway, hearing the pain in it. "No...I didn't," I admit.

"Well, sport," says Dad, "going from you two having a lot of fun earlier to feeling like your roommate despises you just because you're something you can't change can really hurt someone."

They're both right. How did I not realize that I was hurting someone else just by saying a few choice words? "Wow...I-I never saw it that way..." I quietly say.

"Talk to Josh again, sweetie," says Mom. "But this time, have a more heartfelt apology."

"Okay," I say. "Thanks for the help, guys. I'll call you back a little later."

I hang up the phone and gaze at the floor, trying to think of a way to talk to Josh when he comes back. My gaze suddenly stops on Josh's guitar. I left my own instrument at home, being in a rush to get here on time (which didn't work anyway). Mom and Dad promised they'd send it when they got back home.

I get up off the bed and walk over to Josh's guitar. It's even more beautiful up close. I take it by the neck and strum it, the strings perfectly tuned. Josh must really care for this thing, because I don't see a scratch or nick on it.

There's a sudden sound on the other side of the door. It's probably Josh. I panic and hurriedly place the guitar back on the stand and quickly start to walk back to my bed. But in my haste, I didn't put the guitar back on the stand properly. The sound of the guitar hitting the hardwood floor fills the room.

I almost don't want to look, but I force myself to turn back around. I see the guitar on the floor, the neck snapped in half. The door clicks and opens and I see Josh walk into the room, closing the door behind him. His eyes stop on his guitar and his mouths drops open. "My guitar..." he quietly says.

He walks over to his broken guitar and kneels next to it. "Josh..." I start to say.

"My guitar. My fucking guitar..."

"I-It was an accident! I was only admiring it and when I heard you in the hallway. I panicked and tried to put it back! But...it fell and the neck broke..."

Josh's body suddenly starts to quiver and I see tears at the base of his eyes. "My older brother bought this for me when I was 14. I took care of it, loved it as if it were my own kid ever since. Now...it's broken..."

Seeing Josh so upset makes the guilt I've been feeling feel twice as heavy and I feel tears of my own start to well up. "Please, Josh..." I beg. "I-It really was an accident. I didn't do this so I could hurt you because you're gay. I-I'm so sorry..."

The room gets blurry and I press the base of my palms to my eyes, trying to stop my tears from leaking out. Quiet, shaky sobs come from my gut and I hear a shuffle from in front of me and footsteps getting closer. They stop right in front of me and I look up and see Josh looking down at me. "It was an accident?" he asks, emotion in his voice.

I nod, too upset to speak right now, and keep looking at the floor. "Then I'm not mad at you," Josh finishes.

I look up at him. "Y-You're not?"

"Had you done this on purpose, I'd be furious with you right now. But since you said it was an accident, I'll take your word for it."

Josh turns and walks back to his guitar and kneels down next to it and starts picking up the broken pieces scattered all over the floor. I get up and walk over to Josh and kneel down next to him and help to pick up the pieces. "I...really am sorry, Josh," I say.

"It was an accident. No harm done."

"No, I mean about earlier. I didn't, and still don't, understand the gay thing. But...I really do want to try and be your friend and I'm willing to try understand it a bit more. So...could you please give me a second chance?"

Josh stares at the shattered pieces of his guitar for a few seconds before looking at me. "If you really want to try, then I'll give you that second chance."

Without realizing it, I pull Josh into a hard hug. "Thank you, Josh. I swear I'll really try to work at this."

"You already are working at it. You're hugging a gay guy."

I laugh a bit and let Josh go. I help to get all the pieces picked up and promise Josh I'll pay for the repairs, finding a repair shop that isn't too far from campus. I ask Josh to tell me a little more about him and Leo, to which he enters a half hour explanation about the two of them. It's actually really cool to hear about it and how...normal it is.

After a while, I tell Josh I'm going to take a shower. I grab a towel and a few other things and slip on my shower shoes and head for the bathroom, which is actually directly across the hall (lucky!). The place seems empty and I don't hear any showers running. So I start to undress and wrap a towel around my waist.

I walk over to the showers and almost scream when I find that there actually is someone else here, someone who probably isn't too happy to see me: Zane. He's standing in front of a mirror wearing nothing but a towel as well, rubbing some kind of lotion on his arm.

He hears me and turns to me and glares, but doesn't say anything. "Um...hey," I say. He grunts in response. "What're you up to?"

"Rubbing ointment on a new tattoo," he replies.


"The ointment keeps the tattoo from getting infected and helps to keep ink from peeling off my skin."

"Does getting a tattoo hurt?"

He turns to face me, anger on his face. "Why the hell are you even talking to me? I know you hate gay people."

All I can do is look at the tiled floor. "I'm...trying to understand it a bit more. I got mad earlier because the whole idea scared me, but I really want to try and figure it out a bit more. I'm sorry about the way I reacted, by the way."

I look back up and get a better look at Zane. He may be a little on the thin side, but there doesn't seem to be an ounce of fat on him, just pale skin over muscle. Along with the tattoos on his arms are some on his neck, the sides of his torso, all over his back, and his legs. His dark blue, white, and black hair is matted to his forehead thanks to a shower as opposed to the swept undercut he had earlier.

Zane sighs to himself and turns back to the mirror. "It stings the first time, but you get used to it the more you do it, especially when you're the one doing the drawing."

"Wait, you did all those tattoos yourself?" I ask.

"Just the designs. The first four were done by a friend and the rest were my work."

I cautiously step over to Zane's side and look down at him and his tattoos. I can see a difference between one half of Zane's body and the other. His right side looks to be covered by demons and mostly black. But the left side is angelic, angels and whites taking over. "You've got this whole heaven and hell thing going on, don't you?" I ask.

Zane looks up at me, an eyebrow raised. "You're the first person to actually notice that without me telling them."

"Really? You'd think it'd be pretty obvious."

"I guess some people aren't very perceptive."

Was that a compliment? I think so. Wait, if Zane's gay, then why is he so easy to talk to? Zane gathers up his things and walks out of the bathroom without another word. For some reason, I watch him as he leaves, never taking my eyes off him. There's just something about him that...draws me to him.

I walk into a shower stall and shut the curtain behind me. I put my things on the floor and take my towel off and hang it on a hook on the other side of the curtain. I turn the nozzle and the shower comes to life, warm water running down my body. As I start to clean up, Zane drifts back into my head.

I try to push him back out, but I just can't shake him out of my mind. And why am I...I'm getting hard?!

What the fuck?! All I did was think about Zane! His hair, his lean body, his piercings, his tattoos...Jesus Christ! Fucking stop it! I press my forehead to the tiled wall, trying to get the thoughts to stop. But...why does a small part of me not want the thoughts to stop?



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