Hey everyone. RichardAdams here. I'm giving you the second update in the voting. A few things have changed in the standings and only you can change the current standings. Here they are.

1. Superheroes/Superpowers

2. Fantasy

3. Cops, Dystopia

4. Heaven and Hell, Authoritarian, Hospital, Magic, Riches to Rags, Sports

Superheroes/Superpowers is still on top. If there's a story you want to vote for, please vote. It can change things dramatically. I'm also here to give you a bit of an update with my future writing. School is very hard at the moment, but I'm figuring out how to balance school, my social life, and my writings. So don't worry about me stopping for periods of time longer than two weeks.

Yes, this is the second to last chapter of 'Could I Be...?' The story of Eric and Zane is coming to an end, but it doesn't mean they'll disappear. Just like Josh and Leo in this story, the four boys will be supporting characters in 'Is It Possible...?', there to help support he two new main characters.

The final chapter of 'Could I Be...?' will be posted next Monday, but after that, I'm going to have to take another two week break so I can get started with 'Is It Possible...?' Then after the break period, I'm going to be on winter break from school, so there shouldn't be any interruptions with my postings. The first few chapters of 'Is It Possible...?' will be break free.

Thank you all again for your wonderful support and kindness. I hope you all enjoy Chapter 20 of 'Could I Be...?'


Chapter 20

It's two days later and the school year has finally ended for us. The last two days have been a complete blur for me. I can't get the thought of Zane crying out of my mind, begging me not to leave him in his sleep, and this pit in my stomach is only growing by the minute. I've been torn between the two choices in front of me.

Do I stay at Stanford and continue to be happy with Zane, Josh, Leo, the guys, and all the other friends I've made? Or do I go to the Giants and follow the dream I've been chasing since I was a kid that's finally within my reach? I'm so conflicted right now that I just want to pull my hair out and scream at the top of my lungs.

Well, now that the school year is over, everyone's heading home for summer break. That is everyone except me and the guys from the team. We're heading to Omaha for the College World Series. I really want to win this tournament for two reasons. One being that I want to win the title for Stanford. And two being I want to stay with the guys for as long as possible until I start with the Giants.

Right now, I'm packing up my bags with the remaining clothes I have. With a few more shirts stuffed into my bag, the room is now completely bare. Josh and Leo left for home a few hours ago and it was a heartfelt goodbye for us. I shipped the rest of my belongings over to my new apartment so they aren't stuck here after I leave.

Speaking of the apartment, the Giants gave it to it to me to live in that is close to AT&T Park so I can get to practice easily and it's already refurbished with furniture and kitchenware, so I don't need to bring anything besides my clothes and some of my belongings. I've already visited the apartment and I had a single thought when I first walked in: it's lonely.

I sigh audibly and zip my bags closed and grab them and my backpack. I take one more look around the room and walk out into the hallway and shut the door behind me, hearing it lock. The door next to mine opens and Zane walks out into the hallway with several bags of his own in his arms and hands.

He closes the door and I step over to him. "Here, I can carry a few of those," I say holding my hand out.

Zane smiles a bit before taking one of his bags and placing it in my hand. "Thanks," he quietly says.

"C'mon. I think the taxi is waiting downstairs to take us to the airport."

We walk over to the elevator and ride down to the ground floor. "Aren't you riding with the guys?" Zane asks me.

"I told them I'd meet them at the airport. I wanted to spend as much time with you as possible before you leave for Dallas."

Zane nods a bit before we step outside and find the taxi waiting for us. We load out bags in the trunk and slide into the back seat. We tell the taxi driver we're headed for SFO and he gives us a nod in response. The engine starts us and we're off to the airport. The back of the taxi is completely silent, neither myself nor Zane saying a word.

I reach over and lightly place my hand over Zane's. "How're you feeling about all this?" I ask.

"About what?" he asks.

"About me going to the Giants and us not being able to see each other as much."

"Eric, I've said this before. I'm really happy that you're going to the Major Leagues and you'll be playing next season and I couldn't be prouder of you. I'm going to support you the whole time you're with the Giants."

I place my second hand over Zane's and look him straight in the eye. "That didn't answer my question, Zane. I asked you how are you feeling about me leaving? How are you feeling about me not being able to see you in person every day?"

It takes a second, but Zane's head turns away and he looks down at his lap. "I...I fucking hate it..."

I scoot over a bit and see two small tears leak out of the corners of Zane's eyes. "Eric, I hate it so fucking much that you're leaving Stanford and I don't want you to leave, but at the same time, I want you to follow your dreams and to do what you've been wanting to do ever since you were a kid.

"I'm being so selfish right now that it isn't even funny. I want you to stay with me, but if I make you do that, I'll keep you from doing what you love the most..."

Zane wipes his eyes dry and looks back at me, his eyes now bloodshot. "So I'm going to suck down my feelings and let you go and follow your dreams. We're going to make this work, Eric. I'm going to keep working my ass off at Stanford and you're going to kick ass with the Giants. I know you're going to do great things on that field.

"And just know that I'm going to watch every single one the games you're going to play in in the future. And when I see you step on that field for the first time, I'm going to be cheering my heart out for you. It's going to be hard for the both of us, but I know we're going to stay together through this whole thing."

I grab Zane and pull him into a very tight hug. "How can you be strong about this?" I ask. "I'm fucking dying on the inside..."

"Because I know that you'd be strong for me if I were put into a similar situation. If I were the one following my dreams and becoming the professional artist I want to be, I know you would be supporting me the same way I am you right now. So I'm being strong for the both of us, no matter how much it hurts."

Zane sniffs a little into my shirt before rising off my shoulder and wiping his eyes dry. "But it's still going to suck without seeing you every day."

I nod a bit, solemnness crushing my body. Zane and I continue to sit in silence until the taxi pulls up to the airport. We step out and pull out bags out of the trunk and pay the taxi driver. "Master Zane!"

We turn and see Sebastian walking up to us, dressed in one of his pristine tuxedos. "Hey, Sebastian," Zane says.

He gives Sebastian a quick hug hello. "I apologize for your parents not being here," Sebastian says. "They had a bit of work to do. But they're both anxiously awaiting your return and should be back at the mansion by the time we land."

"Okay. I'm excited to see them too."

Sebastian takes a few bags from Zane and smiles at me. "It's good to see you again, Eric," he says. "I've heard about you being recruited by the Giants from Master Zane. Congratulations."

"Thanks, Sebastian," I say.

"I'm going to take these to the jet," Sebastian says, indicating Zane's bags. "I'll be back in a few minutes."

Sebastian walks off and Zane and I are left standing in the front of the airport. "Well, I guess this is it," I say.

God, just saying it makes my chest hurt. "Yeah, it is," Zane says.

"I'm going to call you as soon as I land in Omaha."

"And I'll be glued to the TV watching every game you play in for the next three weeks."

He and I just stare at each other for several moments, neither of us saying a word. "Wow, this is really happening," I say.

"Yeah, it is. It hurts ten times as much as I thought it would."

"But it's kind of hard to believe that I'm here."

Zane looks a bit lost. "How so?"

"I mean, nine months ago, I thought I was as straight as an arrow. I was a homophobe, I was a bit arrogant, and, to put it bluntly, I was an ass. But now, I'm in a relationship with a guy that I'm more in love with than anything, I'm about to start playing with the Giants, and I'm happier than I've ever been in my life."

I exhale and gaze up at the sky. "And now...it kind of feels like I'm going to wake up any second from this dream and realize I'm about to arrive at Stanford for the first time."

Zane reaches forward and places his thumb and index finer on my arm, giving it a very hard pinch and forcing me to pull away. "Ow! What was that for?"

"To show you that you aren't dreaming and that this is actually happening. Eric, I'm feeling the exact same way you are right now. Last August, I was angry at everybody, I didn't want to get close to anyone, and I absolutely hated every single jock I met. But you were the one who changed me.

"You got me to open up to people, you made me feel confident about my artwork, you helped me come out of my shell, and you made me happy with the person I was and am. So you and I helped each other change for the better."

Zane and I exchange soft smiles and quickly grab hold of each other and hold each other tight. For the first time, I feel how much Zane has changed since I first met him. He feels a bit taller, his body feels firmer, and his hug is filled with warmth and life. He and I gaze into each other eyes for several seconds before I press my lips to his.

I don't care that I'm standing in front of one of the busiest airports in the country kissing my boyfriend and that there are hundreds of people around his right now. To me, Zane and I are the only two people in the world at this very moment. We pull apart and give each other one more kiss before we finally let go.

Zane takes a step back and I feel his hand tightly grasping my own. "Master Zane, I'm sorry to have to say this but it's time to go."

Sebastian is standing behind us and Zane and I look back at one another. "I love you, Zane."

"I love you, Eric. I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you more."

Zane and I squeeze each other one more time before we let go and Zane takes his backpack and starts to walk toward Sebastian, his hand slowly leaving my grasp. I watch as Zane walks away, me watching him as he disappears in the crowd. I secure my bag and backpack and walk inside the airport.

As soon as I walk inside, I see the whole team, Charles, Luke, and the rest of the coaches standing together in one group, pressed against the glass of the window. "Um...were you guys watching that?" I ask.

The all quickly step away from the window and try to regain their composure. "Uh...no," says Jack. "We were just...watching some hot girl go by..."

I notice a few of the guys wiping their eyes and I hold back a laugh. We all grab our stuff and Charles quickly checks us in at the counter. It takes a few minutes to get all the bags checked and put onto the conveyer belt. Once we get that done, we get through security without any of us getting the glove and we walk to our gate.

Our plane to Omaha doesn't leave for about forty minutes, so we all take a seat and many of the guys quickly go for their cell phones for entertainment. I stick to staring out the window, deep in thought. "You're really going to miss him, aren't you?"

Charles is sitting next to me, staring out the same window I am. "Yeah, I am," I reply.

He gives me a light pat on the shoulder. "Knowing you two, you're going to stay together through this whole thing. I know it's going to be hard at first, but I can see the love between you boys. And that love will keep the two of you together."

I smile to myself and I continue to look out the window. The sight of a plane taking catches my eyes and I know that Zane's in that plane. Out of the corner of my eye, I feel a single small tear spill out. "I hope you're right, Charles..."


It's now late June and right now, I'm sitting in my family's living room with my eyes focused on the TV. "Buddy, if you stay sitting like that, you'll start to look like Quasimodo," Dad tells me.

I glance over at him and lean back on the couch, feeling my spine crack two times. "Thanks, Dad," I say.

I stay focused on the TV and watch every second of what's going on in front of me. It's the finals of the College World Series and Stanford is playing against North Carolina State. The Cardinal have played hard the last few weeks and their efforts have almost paid off. But right now, they're in a pinch.

It's the third and final game of the finals and both Stanford and NC State both have a single win each. Whoever wins this game brings the title back home to their college. The score right now is 2-1 with NC State in the lead and it's the bottom of the ninth with Stanford already having a single out against them.

To make matters worse, there isn't a single person on base. "I haven't been this excited for a sports game in ages," Mom says to my left.

"I'm excited and I'm not even rooting for my own team," says Damien.

Damien and the Texas A&M Aggies were eliminated from the College World Series in the quarterfinals. Damien played really well though and he seemed to be in high spirits when he came back home about a week ago. Now, he and few of his old teammates from high school are sitting with us in the living room watching the game.

Not to mention there's also Sebastian and all of the family workers plastered to the TV with us, but they're not shirking their responsibilities. Dad gave them the night off so they could watch the game with us and they've been as into it as we all have. The next batter for Stanford comes out of the dugout and I see that it's Jack.

Jack walks into the batter's box and I can see pure determination on his face. He may still be a junior and he's going to be part of the team next year, but he's playing like it's the last game of his life. The pitcher winds up his pitch and throws at the plate and I hear everyone in the room suck in a breath.

Jack swings for the ball and I see the ball fly right into the mitt of the catcher. We all dejectedly sigh at the missed ball and Jack digs his heel into the dirt and looks back at the pitcher, looking even more focused than before. The pitcher winds up for another pitch and I see the ball leave his fingers.

After a second, Jack swings the bat and I hear the sweet metallic clang of the bat fill my ears. The ball flies off to the left and over the head of the third baseman, landing just inside the foul line. The room erupts in cheers as we watch Jack charge for first and quickly head for second. The left fielder scrambles for the ball and grabs it and hurls it toward second.

With a swift slide, Jack gets to second with a few seconds to spare and the room continues to cheer for several seconds before the next batter comes out of the dugout. Ty stretches with his bat for a moment before stepping into the batter's box and staring the pitcher down.

Jack leads off second base, ready to run in case Ty hits it. The pitcher shakes his head twice before nodding and he sets himself up. The living room goes completely silent and we watch as the pitcher lift up his leg and slam it down and see his arm whip forward. Ty swings the bat and I hear a metallic clang, but defeat falls over me a second later.

The ball flies up and out toward the outfield, but I can tell there isn't enough energy behind it to get out of the park. The center fielder runs forward and holds his glove above his head and the ball flies right into it. Jack runs back to second and the Cardinal now have two outs against them and they only have one more chance.

Ty jogs back to the dugout and I see a familiar hand pat him on the back as the two meet halfway. Eric walks over to the batter's box and the room fills with applause and cheers, almost everyone yelling at my televised boyfriend as he swings his signature wooden bat a few times to get his shoulders warmed up.

He takes in a breath and holds his bat behind his head and readies himself for what may be the last few pitches. The pitcher throws a fastball with a bit of heat on it and Eric watches it go by him into the catcher's glove. "What the hell is he doing?" Dad asks. "He could've hit that no problem."

"He's adjusting," I say.

Everyone looks at me. "What do you mean, Zane?" asks Damien.

"This is a strategy of Eric's. He often lets a pitch or two go by him so he can adjust to the pitcher's style and anticipate what's coming next. I just hope he knows what he's doing..."

The pitcher throws a wild curveball toward home and the catcher snags it. The umpire gives the call for a strike and now my heart's racing a mile a minute and I can feel sweat starting to soak my shirt. Eric motions back to the umpire and the umpire hold his hands up. Eric steps out of the batter's box and swings his bat a few times.

But what he does next makes my heart stop. Eric looks away from the field and straight at one of the cameras pointed around the field and smiles brightly before mouthing five words.

'This is for you, Zane.'

My face reddens both out of love and a bit of embarrassment because I know everyone looking at me again. Eric steps back into the batter's box and goes back to looking at the pitcher. The pitcher takes in a deep breath and brings his leg up and his arm behind him and throws his arm forward as hard as he can.

The ball sails out of his fingertips and Eric slams his foot down as hard as he can, bringing the bat around his body. Time slows down and everything seems to be frozen. But it's moving just enough for me to see the ball connect right on the sweet spot of Eric bat and the most amazing crack I've ever heard in my life fills the room.

Eric's bat explodes into hundreds of pieces and I see the ball flying up and out at a great rate of speed. The room stays silent as we watch the ball fly further and further out toward the wall. Eric stares the ball down as it flies toward the outfield and I see the biggest grin I've ever seen on him light up his face.

The ball lands on the other side of the wall and the living room explodes in cheers. Eric looks like he's the happiest person in the world, jumping like a maniac as he circles the bases. The Cardinal pour out of their dugout and share in Eric's celebration as Jack reaches home plate with Eric not far behind.

Eric rounds third and heads for home, where his teammates await him with pure joy on their faces. Eric jogs to home plate and as soon as his foot lands on that plate, his teammates swarm him and hoist him up on their shoulders, cheering without a care in the world. And it's the same story in the living room.

Everyone is going absolutely crazy right now. The noise level in here is so loud that I can't even hear my own voice as I'm screaming at the top of my lungs. The celebration continues even after the teams clear the field and for another ten minutes after that. Once the craziness calms down, I find that there's food scattered everywhere from us throwing it in the air during the frenzy.

As everyone is still talking amongst each other about Eric's amazing play, I manage to slip out of the commotion and walk out the front door. I reach into my pocket and pull out my cell phone and call Eric's number. He picks up after a few rings. "Hey!" I say as soon as he picks up.

"Hey, Zane!" Eric replies, matching my enthusiasm. "Were you watching?"

"Me, my parents, everybody at the mansion, and my old high school baseball team were watching! God, you were fucking unbelievable! Only you could've done something like that at the last possible second!"

"Thanks, Zane. I wish you could've been here. I wish you were here with me now..."

I feel my energy start to drop and I take a seat on the front stairs. "Yeah, I wish I were there too. I really miss you, Eric."

"I miss you too, Zane. I know it's only been a few weeks, but it feels like you and I haven't seen each other in years. I'd be a lot happier right now if I could just hold you."

"Yeah, I would be too. But you should be proud of yourself, Eric! You just won the College World Series!"

"I know, and I'm still screaming on the inside, but this one win only helps to remind me that it will be my only win like this with the Cardinal. I'm heading off to San Francisco in two days to start training with the Giants."

My spirits fall even further. "Eric, you and I have talked about this countless times. You and I will make this work. When school starts back up, you and I will only be thirty minutes away from each other. I can come and visit you on the weekends I don't work and...and you can come to campus whenever you have a day off."

"But what about the off season?"

My heart stops for a split second. "The off season?"

"Yeah. I just learned about this today. When baseball season ends, I'm not going to be able to stay in the apartment I'm going to be staying in because the Giants are renting it out. When the season ends...I'm going to have to go back home and stay there until training for the next season starts."

I feel my body being crushed by the realization and my eyes immediately start to water up. "B-But don't other guys from the team stay in the city until the next season starts?" I ask.

"That's because they own the apartments they stay in. Most of the guys go home when the season ends. I would stay in the city too, but the apartments here are too expensive, and I haven't started getting paid yet. So...I'm going back home at the end of this October..."

The tears fall from my eyes and fall to the stone stairs below me. "D-Does this mean...?' I start to ask.

"No! No, it doesn't Zane. You and I are not breaking up because of a small issue like this. It's going to be hard. You and I both knew that when I was recruited by the Giants. But now, it's just going to be a little harder. But I know you and I will get through this together. I love you too much to break up with you, Zane..."

My tears continue to flow and I hear Eric sniff his nose on the other side of the line. "Are you sure we'll be okay, Eric?" I shakily ask.

"I know we'll be okay, Zane. You and I are meant to be together, and I'll be damned if I let something as small as this break us apart."

Hearing Eric's confident voice in my ear makes me smile a bit. "Then if you say we'll be okay, then we'll be okay," I say.

I hear a faint voice from the other end of the line. "That's the guys," Eric says with a sniff. "Charles is taking us to the best barbeque place in Nebraska, and that's saying something."

"Be sure to have a giant slab of ribs for me."

"I plan on it. Do you think we can video chat tomorrow night? I really want to see your face."

"Yeah, I'd really like that, Eric. Just text me and I'll hop on my computer and we can chat the night away."

"Great. I love you, Zane."

"I love you too, Eric. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

I hang up the phone and slip it back into my pocket and stare out at the dark, Texas sky, not knowing how much time passes. The door behind me opens and I hear a few footsteps. "There you are, Zane," Dad says. "We've been trying to look for you for a little while."

"Yeah, I was just talking to Eric and congratulating him on his win."

"I figured you'd be doing something like that. C'mon back inside. The chefs are about to cook up some huge dessert feast."

"I'll be there in a few minutes." I hear Dad turn on his heel and start back for the door. "Hey, Dad?"

"Yeah, buddy?"

"Do you know that saying 'if you love something, set it free'?"


Pure pain fills my stomach and I feel more tears sliding out of my eyes. I clutch my chest slightly as quiet sobs escape my lungs. "Why does letting that something go have to hurt to fucking much...?"

I start to cry to myself and let the tears fall onto my jeans. A body sits down next to me and I feel a strong arm slip around my shoulder and pull me into a firm body. "Buddy, do you know the rest of that saying?" Dad asks me.

I sniff my nose a bit. "N-No..."

"It says that if you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it's yours. If not, it was never yours to begin with. But I know for a fact that Eric will come back to you."

I reach around my father and hold him tightly as my tears spill onto the fabric of his shirt. "I hope you're right, Dad..."



The limo pulls up to the front of Toyon Hall and we all sigh loudly. "Here we are again," Mom says.

"Yeah," I reply. "And we just did this four months ago..."

We all climb out of the limo and I stare up at my new dorm, where I'm going to be staying for the next nine months. Toyon Hall is an all sophomore dormitory, and is pretty similar to Florence Moore Hall. Only a hundred and fifty-eight people can stay here, and I was chosen to be one of them.

We start to unload the limo with all my stuff, when I hear a familiar voice come from behind me. "Zane!"

I grin to myself and turn around and hold my arms open for Josh and Leo. The guys run up to me and their combined strength easily lifts my hundred and sixty-five pounds. "Zane, it's great to see you!" Josh says.

"It's great to see you guys too!" I reply.

They set me down and I stare up at Josh while I stay at eye level with Leo (I'm thankful I've managed to grow that inch over the summer). I take a good look at the two of them and I see that Josh seems to have put on more muscle than he had before, looking to weigh about two hundred pounds.

Leo, however, looks just as smoking hot as always (and I mean that completely in a friend sort of way). "Are you guys in Toyon Hall too?" I ask.

"Hell yeah," Leo says. "Josh and I are staying together the whole time we're in college. We aren't in the same room this year either, but we'll start living together when we move into an off-campus apartment together next year."

"Then who are your roommates?"

"We don't know yet," says Josh. "All we have are our room numbers. I'm in 305."

"I'm in 307, so we're right next to each other."

I grin madly and I pull Leo into another tight hug. "We're roommates again!" I yell.

"Are you fucking serious?" Leo asks.

"Yeah! I'm in 307 too!"

Leo hugs me tightly again and we let go after a second. "I take it the reunion is going well."

We turn around and find Mom and Dad standing with my stuff. "Yeah," I say. "Leo's my roommate and Josh is right next door, just like last year."

"That's fantastic, sweetie," says Mom. She looks at Josh and Leo. "It's good to see you boys again."

"It's nice to see you as well, Mrs. Mercer," says Josh. "You too, Mr. Mercer."

"Josh, we've gotten all the boxes out of the car."

"Same with our car, Leo."

I look past Josh and Leo and see two men and two women. The first man and woman both have warm and inviting faces. The man seems to be about six foot one with greying dark brown hair, dark grey eyes, a thin five o'clock shadow, and a wide, in shape frame. The woman appears to be about five foot six with short brown hair as well, but a tad lighter, a slim frame, and has light green eyes.

The other man and woman appear to have an air of easiness around them. The woman looks to be about five foot five with light brown hair, a similar thin figure, and light blue eyes. The man appears to be about six foot two with a rugged look to his face, which is covered by a light scowl, greying black hair, dark blue eyes, and an impressive, broad frame.

Josh and Leo look back too. "Hey Mom, Dad," says Leo. "We were just talking to Zane and his parents."

So these are Josh and Leo's parents. I think I can tell whose parents are whose based on the features. The four adults walk behind their children and look at me and my parents. "So you're the Mercers," says the man with the dark brown hair (Mr. Rusden).

"That's us," Dad replies. He extends his hand. "Richard and Monica Mercer. Nice to meet you...?"

"Jacob Rusden, Josh's father." He takes Dad's hand and gives it a firm shake before giving Mom a lighter one. "And this is my beautiful wife, Rachel."

Mrs. Rusden smiles sweetly and takes Dad and Mom's hands as well. "It's nice to finally meet you both," she says. "Josh has told us a lot about you."

"I'll bet he has," Mom says. She looks over at the other man and woman. "I take it you're Mr. and Mrs. Trigon?"

"You'd be correct," Mrs. Trigon replies. "I'm Penny Trigon, Leo's mother. And the man who looks to be deep in thought at the moment is my husband, Paul."

Mr. Trigon shakes his head out a bit and his scowl is gone. "Sorry about that," he says. "That scowl has been on my face ever since I was a kid. And it still turns up every so often." Mom and Dad chuckle a little. Mr. Trigon looks down at me. "And you're the artistic genius Leo and Josh have told us about?"

"Yes, sir," I reply. I hold my hand out in front of me. "Zane Mercer."

I quickly shake the hands of Josh and Leo's parents. "Master Zane! You left several of your sketchpads in the limo!"

Sebastian crawls out of the limo with the three sketchpads I accidently left in there. "Thanks, Sebastian," I say.

"Who's the guy in the nice tux?" asks Josh.

"Haven't I mentioned Sebastian to you guys before?" They both shake their heads. "Oh, well that's Sebastian. He's the head butler at my family's mansion."

The Trigons and Rusdens' jaws all go slack. "Mansion?" asks Mrs. Rusden.

"Butler?" asks Mr. Trigon.

"Yes," Mom replies. "Mercer Mansion. If you like, you all could come down and visit when the boys have a vacation. We'd love to show you around now that we got that zip code."

The six people in front of us continue to try and register the shock of it all. "How about we get you all upstairs and unpacked?" asks Dad.

We all agree and everyone grabs a few bags and boxes and we walk inside. Families helping their kids move in scatter around the lobby with suitcases and boxes of their own. "Looks like I'm with you boys again this year."

The door to the dorm office opens and we see our old head of Florence Moore Hall. "Charles!" I say. I step up to him and give him a quick hug. "What do you mean you're with us again?"

"I got transferred from being the head of Florence Moore and now I'm the head of Toyon. So it looks like I'll be seeing more of you boys this year. Well...except one of you..."

The mood between all of us falls a bit. "Yeah..." I quietly say.

Eric started with the Giants about two months ago and it seems like the training is kicking his ass. Whenever we video chat, he always looks exhausted and seems to be on the verge of passing out. He and I have managed to talk every night over the summer, and even though he's only a little over thirty miles away, the knowledge that he's going back to Seattle in a few months continues to loom over my head.

We ride up to the third floor in the elevator and walk to our rooms. Josh and his parents step into his room while Leo and I walk into our room with our parents and Sebastian. The layout is much the same of our old room: two beds, two dressers, two desks, two bookcases, a window, but the wall that divides the room in half is new, and there's a whole lot of nothing else.

We set the boxes down and go back for the rest of them. This cycle continues for the next forty minutes, going back down and then up with more boxes. We finally get the last box in the room and start to unpack them when there's a knock at the door. "How's our favorite honorary member doing?"

I look back at the door and see a few members of the Cardinal baseball team standing in the hallway. "Hey, guys," I say. I walk over to the door and give Jack, Ty, Shane, and the other three guys a quick hug. "Doing pretty good. Congrats on the win over the summer, by the way."

"Thanks," says Jack. "But we really owe the win to Eric. How has he been by the way?"

"The practice with the Giants is really kicking his butt, but he's pulling through. He said we'd video chat after the Giants game tonight, so I'm looking forward to that."

"He's a tough guy," says Ty. "He'll make it through. Maybe we'll see him on the mound tonight."

"We can only hope," I say. "How's the arm, Jack?"

Jack rubs his shoulder with his hand and rotates it a few times. "It gets a little stiff at times, but otherwise there's nothing wrong with it. It's my last year here and I'm hoping I get the same kind of recruitment Eric did at some point this year."

"Maybe you two could be on the Giants together if it were to come to that," I say.

"I hope so. Just catching his pitches was amazing. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to get the same thrill I used to when he and I were on the field together..."

I see a noticeable change in the guys' faces. It looks like the guys are reminiscing about when they won with Eric back in June, the last time they played together. "Hey, are you guys going to watch the game tonight?" I ask, trying to change the subject to something else.

"Yeah, we were planning on it," says Shane.

"You boys can watch in the hall lounge. There's a TV big enough for a lot of people to watch." I poke my head outside the door and see Charles standing in the hallway. "I was going to watch the game too, so the more the merrier."

"Sounds like a plan," I say. "The game doesn't start for about four hours, so there's enough time to unload the rest of our stuff and be downstairs in time for the game."

"Great," says Jack. "We still have a bit of our stuff to unpack. We'll be back a little before 6:00."

The guys wave and head down the hall. "You've gotten really close to them, haven't you?" Mom asks me.

"We talked a lot more after the College World Series and it seemed like they missed Eric almost as much as I did. So we got to talking and we've become a lot closer because of it. I'm still not going to go out for the team, but I'll keep going to their practices when they start back up."

We get back to unpacking my boxes and suitcases and stuff my dresser full of my clothes and my bookcase full of sketchpads and pieces of charcoal, paints, and fresh pencils. Mom helps me make my bed and Dad helps me set up my laptop and printer and after about an hour, we're all set.

I walk back downstairs with Mom and Dad and we stand next to the limo. "I know it's only been four months since we last did this, but seeing you off for your second year of college is just as hard as seeing you off for the first time," says Dad.

"You guys are staying in Stanford until Saturday afternoon," I say. "You're going to see me again tomorrow."

"We know that," says Mom. "But remember you'll always be our little boy, and we're always going to miss you whenever you aren't with us."

"I'll miss you guys too."

I step forward and give my parents a tight hug. Wow. A year ago, I came here alone with nothing but my clothes and barely any art supplies. Now here I am, saying goodbye to my parents with everything I need for my second year of college. Things really have changed for the better for me, haven't they?

My parents and I let go of one another. "I'll see you guys tomorrow when we go out for dinner," I say.

"Bye, buddy," Dad says.

"Bye, sweetie," Mom says.

We give each other one more hug before Mom and Dad slip inside the limo and I watch it drive off. After a minute of staring, I walk back inside and ride up to the third floor and to my room. I walk inside to find it empty along with a note on my desk. I grab the note and quickly read it over.

'Hey, Zane. My parents and I went out with Josh's family to grab a late lunch together. Hope it's okay. Sorry we didn't bring you along. But if you want to come along, just text us and we'll come back and get you. If not, we'll be back in time to see the Giants game. -Leo.'

I pull my phone out of my pocket and send a quick text to Leo.

'Hey, saw your note. Thanks for the offer, but I already ate with my parents on our private jet here. I'll see you in a few hours.'

There's a reply a few moments later.

'A FUCKING PRIVATE JET?!! Have I mentioned Josh and I really hate you right now?'

I smirk to myself and flop into my bed with my phone still in my hands. Quickly finding the contact I'm looking for, I send another text.

'Hey. I just settled into my new room here. Hope everything's going okay with you. Josh, Leo, the guys from the team, and I are watching the game tonight. I hope we'll see you.'

There's a reply a minute or two later.

'Oh, you're going to see me ;-).'

I feel my stomach do a flip at the excitement of watching Eric play in a real Major League baseball game and my grinning mouth seems to agree with me. I had planned on taking a bit of a nap, but I'm way too excited to fall asleep now. I hop out of bed and grab my keys and wallet and slide them into my pockets, ready to head out to waste a few hours.


Over the next four hours, I've gone over to the art department and seen all of my old friends, who I've discovered are in the same classes with me this year as well. I caught up with Xavier, hung out with Josh's teammates for a little while, and had a good talk with Jason (did you know he was a ghost? I didn't. Scared the shit out of me when I found out...).

It's a little before 6:00 and I'm sitting in the main lounge of Toyon Hall with at least a hundred other people. I managed to get here a bit early and found a couch to sit on. Now the room is buzzing with excitement at watching the game. Josh, Leo, Charles, Jason (who's floating above everyone), my friends from the art department, Eric's old teammates, Josh's teammates, and a lot of people that live in the dorm are in here, ready to watch the game.

Thanks to the jocks filling the room, there's barely enough room to move, let alone breathe thanks to the giant masses. I can't put my feet up on the coffee table in front of the couch I'm sitting on because it's being occupied by pizza, soda, chips, and several other snacks they brought along with them. But since it's food, I'm not complaining.

After the pre-game and the National Anthem, the teams take to the field. The Giants are playing on their home turf and are playing against the Dodgers. Josh laughs to himself when the camera does a close-up on the Dodgers dugout and he sees Ryan sitting in the dugout with a medical bag ready in case one of the Dodgers gets injured.

As much as I want it, I don't see Eric standing on the mound at the start of the game. "You said Eric was playing in the game, right Zane?" asks Josh.

"He texted me earlier saying I'd see him, so I had to assume we'd see him at some point during the game," I reply.

"Really?" asks Leo. "Because I don't see him in the dugout."

I take a closer look at the Giants dugout and see Leo is right. I don't see Eric anywhere with his teammates. Is he in the locker room or something? Confusion washes over everyone as we settle into the game. As the minutes go by, I don't see any sign of Eric anywhere. I try to text him, but I don't get a reply.

Is he okay? I really hope nothing bad has happened to him. I'd be devastated if something did happen to him. By the top of the fourth inning, the Giants are up 3-1 and there's still no sign of Eric. "C'mon, Swanson," says Jack. "Where are you?"

"He better be doing something pretty damn important to not be out there," says Shane.

My ears tune everything out and I continue to focus on the TV, trying to see even a hint of Eric. Time keeps going and by the bottom of the sixth, a lot of people have given up on seeing him. But I haven't. I keep praying to God, asking to just to see Eric. I'm so focused on the TV right now that I don't hear the body walk up behind me, about to give me the surprise of a lifetime. "Hey, who's winning?"

I feel my heart stop and everything freezes at the voice. My body slowly turns around and a very solid stomach meets me. I continue to look up and I see a very broad chest and shoulders and atop that, I see a chiseled jaw covered by a thin five o'clock shadow, a bright smile of white teeth surrounded by full lips, a slight askew nose, dark chocolate brown eyes, and light brown hair covered by a backwards cap.

My eyes tear up at seeing him for the first time in months. "ERIC!!"

I jump out of my seat and scramble over the couch into Eric's awaiting arms. His strong arms surround me and he holds me tightly as I bury my face into his shoulder, feeling tears of joy sliding out. The room explodes in commotion at seeing Eric, screaming questions at him and hugging him as he hugs me.

I continue to hold Eric as he quiets the room down. "I'll explain everything in a little while," he says. "Right now, I want to spend a little time alone with Zane here."

Eric carries me in his arms to the elevator and we ride up to the third floor. I continue to hold Eric tightly, think that if I let go he'll disappear. The sound of a door unlocking fills my ears and Eric walks a bit more before stopping and I hear a door close. "Zane, I can't kiss you if you keep holding me like that," Eric says.

I lift my head off his shoulder and look into Eric's beautiful face, his bright smile still plastered to it. He lightly presses his lips to mine and I welcome back the feeling I missed so much. "Eric, what're you doing here?" I shakily ask. "You're supposed to be with the Giants..."

"I couldn't play my best knowing that I left you behind, Zane. So I talked with Randy, the GM for the Giants, and we agreed on a proposal I had."

"What was it?"

Eric smiles softly. "The contract we have is still valid, I'm not going to step onto that field until June of 2017."

My heart skips a beat and I feel myself slowly starting to smile. "D-Does that mean...?"

"Yeah. I'm staying at Stanford for the next three years with you, Josh, Leo, the guys, and everyone else."

More tears slide out of my eyes and I hug Eric as tightly as I can. He returns my hug with one of his own and I quickly press my lips to his. He walks a bit more forward and I feel us fall back and land on a bed. Eric's body crushes mine, but I ignore it and hungrily kiss my boyfriend and make up for the three months we haven't felt each other.

Eric parts his lips for me and my tongue quickly slithers into his awaiting mouth, my taste buds getting the first taste of him in what seems like forever. Eric pulls me as close to him as possible and my fingers dig into the sides of Eric's chest. I feel him body spasm underneath me and I know where we're headed.

I flip us both over and my hands quickly find the base of Eric's t-shirt. I start to get it off him, but I try to pull it off so fast, I accidently rip a bit the fabric on the front of the shirt. "Uh...oops..." I say.

Eric chuckles. "This shirt was getting too small anyway."

He grabs the shirt from where I ripped it and swiftly finishes the job. I stare in awe at the action, feeling like I'm looking at a superhero. I see that Eric is actually even more muscular than I last saw him. His chest seems to have at least five pounds more muscle, I see his stomach is no longer the six-pack it used to be, but an eight-pack, and even with the extra muscle, he's still perfectly proportioned.

I smirk at seeing Eric's new body. "Looks like the training did a lot of good to your body, not that it needed it."

"More like it destroyed me. Eight hours of training a day. Three hours of lifting weights, two hours of cardio, an hour of core, and only two hours of actual work on the field."

"Did you at least get to throw?"

"Oh yeah. A lot, actually. But more on that later. Right now, I want to get reacquainted with my gorgeous boyfriend."

On that note, I press my fingers hard into Eric's chest. The moan I've missed so much fills my ears and I try to press even harder into the hard muscle that isn't letting me press in very much. But what I'm doing seems to having the same usual effect. Eric is completely under my control, and both he and I are enjoying this.

My fingers start to massage the muscle underneath Eric's lightly haired skin, making him twitch and squirm even more. But as I tease Eric, his arms regain a bit of control and he wraps his arms around my back and grins up at me. "I sure hope you don't like this shirt," he says.

He grips the back of my collar with both hands and rips my shirt open and leaves it in two perfect halves. He tosses my destroyed shirt to the floor and his thumbs and index fingers shoot for my chest and find what they're looking for: my nipples. Eric pinches me tightly and I scream both in pain and pleasure.

Eric and I become locked in silent combat, me massaging his chest and him pinching my nipples. Even though it feels like my chest is on fire, I press my fingertips as hard as I can into Eric's chest in order to try and make him give up. But in turn, he just pinches my nipples even harder, further increasing the feelings of anguish and ecstasy.

I finally give in and pull away from Eric's chest. "Stop!" I yell. Eric immediately releases my nipples and I fall onto his chest. "You're a fucking sadist, aren't you?"

"No, I just like seeing you happy. You looked pretty happy when I was pinching your nipples."

"Because I knew you were the one pinching them." Eric smiles and gives me a light kiss before finding the button to my pants. "Careful. I'm fine with the shirt being destroyed, but I like these jeans."

"Yes, sir."

Eric carefully unbuttons and unzips my jeans before sliding them off my hips, leaving them on my lower legs and exposing my neon orange underwear. "Supporting the Giants in your own way?" Eric asks with a laugh.

"Hey, they're insanely comfortable. Let's see what you're wearing."

I quickly go for Eric's shorts and get them unbuttoned and slide them down, revealing a purple thong with a very large bulge in the front. "Looks like you win in sexiest underwear today. Now, let's see how you look with them off..."

I grip the sides of the tight thong and slide them off Eric's hips, revealing his monster cock. "How did the guys on the Giants take it when they saw this?" I ask, grabbing the base.

"They stared for a second before they turned away and went back to their showers, trying to hide their growing hard-ons..." My mouth tightens to keep from bursting out laughing. "Now let's see what you can do with my own hard-on."

Smiling, I dive for Eric's cock and let my tongue take over. Starting from the base, I slowly slide my tongue over the semi-hard flesh, remembering the taste of Eric's wonderful cock. My tongue continues to glide over Eric cock and I can feel Eric twitching underneath me as I tease the delicate flesh of his cock.

I reach the cockhead and slowly circle it, making Eric moan more and more. "Y-You've gotten a lot better than last time," Eric says.

"I'm not sure how, but I guess this just come naturally to me. But let's see how I do with the next part."

My head dips down and I slowly slide Eric's cock into my awaiting mouth, Eric's moaning loudly as the warmth of my mouth surrounds him. I go slowly to the base, being careful not to gag as the head slides into my throat, and finally feel the tickle of Eric's pubic hair on my nose. Eric exhales loudly and rests his hands on the top of my head.

I start to pull off and as the head of Eric cock reaches the back of my lips, I force it back into my throat and make Eric scream. I continue at this pace, letting the delicate and sensitive impale my mouth. My hand finds Eric's balls and I take them both in my hand and squeeze them lightly, forcing Eric to scream even more.

I can feel Eric balls start to tighten against the base of his cock and just as I feel this, Eric's pulls me off his cock with a loud pop. His face is flushed and his lings are searching for the air that I sapped out of them. "That was close..." he quietly says. "Five more seconds and I would've cum."

"But don't you want to cum?"

"I do, but I want to cum with you." Eric reaches underneath his knees and lifts them up and I can see his hairy hole. "I want you inside of me, Zane. I want to feel you cum inside of me." My heart races at the words. "There's a small bottle of lube in my pants pocket."

I slide off the bed and find the bottle of lube in Eric's shorts a few seconds later. I slide my underwear off my waist and crawl back into bed. "Let's wait a minute for this," I say, setting the bottle of lube aside."


"Because there's something I haven't done since the first time we made love."

I slide down onto the bad and grab Eric's hips, where I'm face to face with Eric's hole. My tongue falls out of my mouth again and I lightly touch the hairy flesh of hole with my tongue. My taste buds fill with the earthy, musky taste of hours of Eric wearing that thong. My tongue circles around the soft, pink ring that surrounds Eric's hole and he goes back to squirming and twitching.

My tongue finds Eric's opening and I force myself in, feeling Eric's warmth fill my tongue. "F-Fuck, Zane..." Eric moans.

I keep feeling Eric's hole open and close from the pleasure I'm giving him. Eric's leg muscles continue to flex and spasm and the wonderful sounds of his moans fill my ears. Thinking I've tortured Eric enough, I slide my tongue out of his ass and I look down at my incoherent boyfriend.

There's a large pool of pre-cum on his stomach and sweat is covering his face. "F-For the love of God, Zane," Eric says. "Fuck me!"

"No, I won't fuck you," I say. Eric looks up at me in shock. "I'll make love to you."

He smiles and I reach for the bottle of lube and pop the top. I pour a generous amount onto Eric's ass and slide some over my fingers, ready to open him up. "You don't need to finger me," Eric says. "I've fingered myself enough over the summer to let you easily slide in."

My mouth continues to smile and I take the lube in my hand and coat my own cock with it, feeling it mix with the pre-cum that's slid out of my slit. I position my head at Eric's opening and look down at him. He nods and I slowly start to slide into Eric. Within a second of being inside of him, feeling the hot flesh wrapping itself around me, I feel like I'm about to explode.

I've missed this so fucking much. And it looks like Eric has too. He reaches forward and grabs me and pulls me toward him. He forces his lips against mine and I slide my tongue into his awaiting mouth. My hips take over for me and I start to slide in and out of Eric, all the while our lips never separate.

As I sensually push my cock further and further into Eric, I feel Eric's chest hair tickle my burning nipples, only increasing the pleasure I'm feeling. Eric's pre-cum soaked cock slides against my stomach and his quiet moans fill my mouth. I slide my arms underneath Eric's and pull me as close as I can to him.

The pressure between our mouths increases and our tongues continue the first dance they've danced in almost three months. My fingers press into the hard muscle of Eric's back and I can feel Eric's fingernail dig into my own back. Eric's ass tightens around my cock and I can feel pressure building up in my balls.

I pull away from Eric's lips just enough. "I-I'm going to cum soon..."

"I am too. Cum with me, Zane..."

I increase my pace in Eric, feeling my cock graze over Eric's prostate. The room fills with both of our moans and I feel the pressure and pleasure reach its peak. "I'm cumming!" I yell.

"M-Me too! Cum inside me!"

With a few more thrusts, I push myself as far as I can inside Eric. A second later, I feel myself exploding into him and my body freezes. Eric's own cock explodes and jet after jet of cum shoots over both of us, coating our chests and faces. But the whole time we cum, Eric and I stare right into each other's eyes, smiles on both of our faces.

Our orgasm calms and I collapse onto Eric's large chest, trying to get my breath back. After a minute of complete silence, I feel two rough hands snake underneath my armpits and pull me up. I meet Eric's bright brown eyes, accented by a bright smile and two streaks of cum on his cheek and lips.

Seeing his face makes me smile as well. "I missed you so much, Eric..." I say.

Eric pulls me into a tight hug. "I missed you too, Zane. God, you have no idea how much I missed you..."

I hug Eric back and he and I kiss one another one more time before I pull out of him. "Want to take a shower together?" I ask.

"There's nothing I would want more."

Eric and I crawl out of the bed and I notice that we're standing in a completely bare room. "This is your room?" I ask.

"Yeah, it is. I'm bringing my stuff here tomorrow from my apartment, so I'm going to have to rough it tonight."

"Or you could stay in my room. I'm in 307."

Eric smiles down at me. "We're in room 305 right now."

My mouth drops open. I walk over to the door separating the two halves of the room and I look inside. Sure enough, I see all of Josh's stuff in the other half of the room. I shut the door and look back at Eric. "Josh will be really happy knowing you guys are roommates again."

Eric looks at me with a slack jaw for a second before grinning. "I'm already screaming on the inside."

I smile and walk over to the door and stick my head out to make sure no one's...fuck. There are at least a dozen other students standing in the hallway talking to each other. Eric and I can't just stand here dripping in his cum, so I take in a breath. "Hey! Eric and I just fucked like rabbits! If you don't want to see either of us naked, shut your eyes!"

Everyone looks over at me, turning a bit red, before laughing and covering their eyes. I look back at Eric and see his face is pale with embarrassment. "C'mon," I say, taking his wrist.

He and I quickly walk into the hallway and rush to my room and slip in. I grab us both towels and a few toiletries and we walk back out into the hallway, with the towels around our waists, and find the bathroom. Eric and I take our time in the shower, mainly just holding one another for a bit, before we're cleaned up.

We make our way back to Eric's room and we start to dress back into our clothes. "There's one thing that I've been wondering," I say. "Do the Giants know you're gay?"

"Oh yeah. They all know. Some are a bit wary of it, but otherwise they're all completely fine with it. It took a bit to prove to them that I could play, now a lot of them see me as a threat."

"Just like they should." We finish getting dressed and I grab Eric's hat and slip it back on his head. "Perfect."

Eric smiles and gives me a light kiss. The door suddenly opens and we see Josh and Leo walk into the room and they see Eric. "Hey, roomie and neighbor," Eric says to them.

Josh and Leo both grin and rush to Eric, both of them hugging him tightly with me getting crushed in the mix. "What the hell are you doing here, Eric?!" Leo says. "You're supposed to be with the Giants!"

"I'm still a Giant, but I'm going to stay a Cardinal for the next three years. So it looks like we're going to stay together until we all graduate."

"And you didn't tell us until now?!" Josh says.

"I wanted it to be a surprise. Looks like it worked."

Josh and Leo gives Eric one more squeeze before letting him go and letting me breathe. "What do you say we go downstairs?" I ask. "I think there a lot of people who are waiting to see you, Eric."

Eric smiles and the four of us make our way to the elevator and ride down to the ground floor. As soon as we step out, a loud scream fills our ears. "Swanson!"

Josh, Leo, and I quickly step out of the way and let the stampede of baseball players and Charles run into Eric. Twenty-five players surround him within a second, laughing and yelling questions. "Guys!" Eric yells. "I'm staying a Cardinal for the next three years! I'm staying with you guys!"

The Cardinal baseball team cheers at the news and they all come up to hug Eric. Jason smiles down at Eric and I see Eric glance up at him and smile (looks like Eric knows about Jason too). My fellow art students walk up to him, all friendly smiles on their faces. "Yes, I'm going to keep modeling for you all too," Eric says with a grin. "I've already set up an appointment with Xavier for next week."

They all grin in return and hug Eric as well. "Now, I managed to get a little money from playing with the Giants for two months," Eric calls out to everyone. "It's burning a hole in my pocket, so who wants me to order a shitload of food?"

"YEAH!!" the lobby cheers as a whole.

"Charles, can you take all the orders? No matter what it is, I'll order it."

"No problem," Charles says with a smile.

Charles goes and grabs a large pad of paper and a pen while the lobby surrounds him. I step over to Eric side and wrap my arm around his waist. "You're really amazing, you know that?" I ask.

"To me, Zane, you're the amazing one. And for the next three years, it's going to be nothing but you and me. I love you, Zane. And I'm going to be right by your side while we're at this school together."

I smile and quickly dry my eyes. "I love you too, Eric. Thank you for coming back to me. Now I know you're mine..."

Eric bends down and gives me a light kiss and I rest my head on his shoulder, feeling perfectly content and complete.



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