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The small placard to the right of the dorm room door read "Barclay, B." Heydn was in the right place; this was the room assigned to him, and the summer campus was almost empty, but he knocked anyway because that's how he'd been raised. After a count of ten, he knocked again. After another few seconds, the door opened with a jerk that telegraphed the occupant's irritation as clearly as the scowling face.
"What do you want?"
Heydn smiled broadly, his default response. "Hey. I'm Heydn Case. I'm supposed to be stayin' here." Heydn held up a piece of paper that was ignored. "Maybe I'm in the wrong place?"
It certainly seemed possible. Though the sign on this handsome brownstone building marked it as the senior boys' dormitory, the slight figure in the doorway was not so easily labeled. Long lank hair clung like black seaweed, partially obscuring androgynous features, and the baggy dark clothes gave precious few clues as to what was underneath.
Heydn's nervousness grew and his smile widened to a grin that he feared made him look like the bumpkin he was. "You're Barclay, right?"
"School hasn't started yet and anyway I'm not supposed to have a roommate."
"Well, I don't know about that, but this is where they told me to go at the office."
"And you always go where you're told to?"
"If I say yes, are you gonna tell me to go to hell?"
"As it so happens ... yeah. Those would have been my next words. Shit! They told me I wouldn't have to room with anyone, those frelling 'nads."
"What do you suggest we do about this?"
"I'll have to..." Blue paused. "None of your business, but I guess I can't leave you in the hall until tomorrowmorning. Well, what are you waiting for? Drag your crap in here."
Heydn snatched up his bags and hurried in, kicking the door closed behind him. "Where do I sleep?" he asked.
"If it isn't immediately obvious which bed is mine, you take the one on the left side ... for tonight."
"Plannin' on switchin' bunks?"
"Is that what passes for humor where you're from? I meant that you'll only be here for one night."
"That would sure explain why you haven't bothered to introduce yourself."
The grouch finally looked Heydn in the face; his eyes were as dark as the kohl that outlined them. "My name's Brooke Barclay," he said. "If you ever call me that, I'll curse you and I mean it. If you have to call me anything, you can call me Blue."
"As in blue balls?"
"Yeah, that's right," Blue sighed. "Next time I'll be sure and give you a frame of reference that you can relate to. Now I'm going back to what I was doing before I was interrupted."
"Whoa. I didn't expect the welcome wagon, but I didn't expect the welcome tank, either."
"Expectation is the bitch mother of disappointment."
Heydn blinked. "I'm startin' to see your point. Why would I want a room with anybody that looks like a sixteen-year-old girl and talks like a snooty professor?"
"Is that a rhetorical question?"
"Am I bein' graded?"
"Every day of your life." Blue turned to the desk beside the right-hand bed and sat down in front of his laptop.
Heydn watched the other young man for a few seconds before he carried his bags to his bunk and pulled out a few items. "Bathroom?" he inquired.
Blue didn't look away from the screen. "It's the only door at this end of the hall. We share with this side of the floor. That's six other guys once school starts."
"Uh-huh. So what's the man-to-toilet ratio?"
Ignored, Heydn took his towel and toothbrush down the hall. The bathroom was large, with four stalls, four sinks, four showers, and one long urinal. It smelled of damp overlaid with the cloying perfume of scented piss cakes. Oddly comforting, it was the odor of every communal bathroom he'd ever been in. Even the mirrors over the sinks were the same, unframed and flecked with tiny specks of shaving cream, toothpaste, and God knows what else. Despite a recent haircut, Heydn himself looked just the same as he always had as he grimaced at his reflection: ordinary dark blond hair, standard blue eyes, the kind of features people generally meant when they used the term "all-American boy." He was nothing special in his estimation and so far, it seemed like the world agreed with him--especially his new roommate.
Heydn always hoped it would be different when his mom's job took the two of them somewhere new, but it never was. He was always roundly ignored by the popular kids at school who could smell his lack of money, and he wasn't quite weird enough for the outsiders, or geeky enough for the nerds, and he wasn't a stoner; he just didn't quite fit in anywhere. Resolving to go to sleep as soon as he got back to the room, Heydn finished up and turned off the lights.
Blue didn't acknowledge Heydn's return, but Heydn was caught by the glimpse he got of Blue's monitor. "Hey! That's 'Demon Armageddon'!"
"Yes, it is. My, what a big grasp of the obvious you have."
"Man, I love that movie. Have you seen it before?"
Blue deigned to shoot a withering glance over his shoulder.
"Dumb question, I reckon," Heydn said. "Oh, hey, I love this part comin' up."
"Of course you do. Everyone loves wing-burst." Blue referred to the scene where the Demon of the Red Desert revealed his true nature and enormous bat wings sprouted from his back in a sequence both gory and majestic.
"It's an amazin' blend of computer graphics, models, and prosthetic makeup. Still holds up after almost seven years."
"Are you some kind of techno-geek?"
"It's just an opinion. Forget I said anything."
"What did you think of 'Demon Resurrection'?" Blue asked as Heydn walked to the other side of the room.
"The title is 'Demon Regeneration'," Heydn replied. "Did I pass your little test?"
Blue snorted. "You've barely finished writing your name at the top."
"But I can write my name. That must count for somethin'."
Blue fought it, but he couldn't keep his sneer from dissolving into a grudging smile. "So you're not a troglodyte like ninety-nine percent of the inmates. I must have a medal around somewhere."
"That's okay. I'll settle for you treatin' me civil. I got nothin' against Goths, but I'd appreciate it if you'd cut me some slack with the attitude."
"I'm not a Goth, and I'd appreciate it if you'd stop categorizing me."
"Dude, you're dressed in black. Your hair is black, and you're wearin' some kind a vampire makeup. If you don't want people to think you're a Goth, you might wanna change one of those things."
"As if I care what people think."
"Okay. I get it. You are what you are, and if folks don't like it, that's their problem."
"Wow," Blue said in a monotone. "You really do understand me. I'm going to try harder to make friends, and I'm going to stop and smell the roses. How can I ever thank you for showing me the world from a different perspective?"
Heydn chuckled. "What a wiseass; I'm impressed."
"Yeah? Welcome to the world's smallest fan club."
Heydn's gaze went to the monitor. "Hey, check it out. Blood Maelstrom's first appearance on screen."
Both young men gave their attention to the screen and the next half-hour passed in near silence as they shared a common passion for the Amer-Asian blend of the sword-and-sorcery genre. Heydn's admiration was more for the artistic achievement, while Blue's had a strong streak of wish fulfillment running through it. However, both agreed that the "Rising Demon" series was killer and most definitely the best of the breed. When they discovered that they both loathed the anime series "Princess Demon Rose-Pink," there was no denying that a bond was forming. Blue resisted, trying to maintain his lone-wolf pose, but he couldn't deny how nice the camaraderie felt. Heydn was just happy to be making a friend so quickly.
Blue and Heydn spent most of the next day holed up in their room watching videos. Heydn was duly impressed with Blue's collection and shared his own small but distinguished library, brought back from his mom's frequent trips to Asia. They found they had more in common than they would have thought at first. At one in the morning, they were still awake, watching a compilation and polishing off the pizza they'd ordered for dinner several hours earlier. Though Blue rarely touched alcohol, he accepted the beer Heydn offered--his fourth, if anyone was counting. Both young men were very relaxed, leaning back on pillows piled against the side of Blue's bed, legs stretched out toward the laptop on the floor in front of them, enjoying the classic scenes strung seamlessly together and set to kick-ass music.
"Uh, hang on a second," Blue slurred as one sequence ended and another began. "You might not want to see this one. The guy that put it together is kind of ... out there, you know? I only know him from the 'Net. He's a wizard with graphics and noise, but I don't interact with him anymore. Like I said; he's out there."
"Hold on! What is this? Hentai porn?"
"Um, sort of. Are you familiar with the term yaoi?"
"Yowie? Is that the boy-love one? I might've heard of it."
"Spare me the sarcastic tone. I'll skip ahead."
"That's okay; let it run. I'm not scared."
"You sure? It starts with the big-boob Hentai chicks, but that's supposed to be ironic, or something. It switches from cheesy nudes to..." Blue paused as a close-up of a very well-drawn cartoon penis penetrating a very well-drawn cartoon anus appeared on screen. "To some rather hard-core man-on-man action."
"You like this stuff?"
"I told you; someone sent me this."
"Relax. It's well-done, and I'm not afraid it'll turn me gay or anything."
Blue rolled his eyes. "So you do speak Neanderthal."
"You grow up. I'm not the homophobe here."
"Would a homophobe watch this?" Heydn pointed to the monitor, which was now showing a pretty, pink-cheeked youth with cat ears and tail being ravished by a much taller male with luxuriant silver locks that floated weightlessly and twined around both figures. "What series is this from?"
"I don't know. Weird, huh?"
"I like weird," Heydn took a long drink of his beer. "And it's probably not very long, right?"
"Right," Blue agreed as he settled back. He was very aware of the sloppiness of his speech, the loss of motor control, and how close his left leg was to Heydn's right leg. He was convinced he could feel the body heat radiating from the other young man and did his best to ignore it, but his unaccustomed drunkenness had weakened his barriers. The best thing he could do at this point was scurry off to the bathroom, hope it was empty, and jerk off in one of the stalls.
"I don't care if you're gay or straight," Heydn said, gesturing toward the screen. "That's hot."
Blue concentrated on the images of an exquisitely beautiful man with long candy-colored hair sweeping an equally beautiful man into his arms in a passionate embrace. It was a stock yaoi image: the long-haired dominant seme was much taller than his lover and impishly forceful; the shorter, slighter uke, or catcher, had an expression approaching panic on his blushing face, but his body language was submissive. Blue had seen this played out many times, and it always affected him the same way.
"I gotta take a piss," he said, as he started to get up. The back of his hand brushed the seam of Heydn's jeans, and he quickly turned to apologize. The swift motion made his head spin and he sat back down with a thump.
"Whoa there," Heydn said softly. "You okay, Blue?"
Blue focused on Heydn's face, and then his gaze dropped along with his jaw.
Heydn grinned nervously, but didn't stop what he was doing. "Caught me with my hand in my pants," he said, giving his crotch a healthy squeeze.
"You're really ... not self-conscious at all, are you?"
"I probably would be, if I wasn't so drunk. Don't tell me you never stroke it while you're watchin' porn."
"That would make me a liar. I hate liars."
"You're pretty drunk yourself," Heydn said. "Wouldn't bother me at all if you wanted to..."
"With you here? I don't think so."
"You never whacked off with a buddy?"
"I don't have ... buddies."
"Not even when you first started jerkin' off?"
"Do we have to talk about this?"
"No, but I'd sure like to." Heydn paused, his fingers going still beneath the denim. "Unless you're too much of a homophobe."
"Are you actually daring me?"
"I could cluck like a chicken, but that seems a little childish."
"Look, if I wanted to, I would. I just don't want to right now." Blue's hard-on pulsed, mocking him.
"You sure?" Heydn stared at the crotch of Blue's jeans. 'Cause I thought that's what you were runnin' off to the bathroom to do. I was just lettin' you know that I don't care. Stay in the comfort of your own room if you want."
Instead of wilting under scrutiny, Blue's cock grew so taut that it ached like an empty stomach. He wanted to grab it and stroke it until he popped, but.... He'd never spoken this candidly with anyone about sex, much less masturbated in front of them.
"C'mon," Heydn lowered his voice, the deeper timbre vibrating along Blue's nerves. "We're just a couple a guys beatin' meat. Doesn't mean we're queer or nothin'. Happens all the time."
"Not to me."
"It does now."
Blue stared, hardly daring to breathe, as Heydn opened his pants. He couldn't take his eyes off Heydn's fingers, shuttling up and down the length of Heydn's cock. The curved shaft was a deep dusky rose and a bead of salty honey welled at the tip. The need to taste that bar of hard candy swelled in Blue like a rising bubble about to burst. Afraid of what he might do if his hands were free, Blue thrust one under his waistband and took hold of his dick.
"Feels good, huh?" Heydn said, running his thumb along the drooling head of his cock.
"Duh." Blue couldn't quite summon the daring to expose his hardness, but he spread his legs wider and kept his eyes on Heydn's crotch as he fondled himself. The sight of the other young man's busy hands was bringing Blue to the brink at an unprecedented speed.
Heydn watched the screen with heavy-lidded eyes, giving Blue the illusion of privacy. Pumpin' pink iron, as it had been called at summer camp, was something Heydn had learned from an older boy during his first stay away from home, and he still derived the most enjoyment from the act if he had an audience. Over the intervening years, he'd learned that lots of guys will whip it out and yank it if they think no one will find out, and he'd become adept at recognizing the most likely ones.
Blue wasn't anything like those guys. Blue wanted what Heydn wanted, even if Blue pretended to despise it: acceptance, approval, nothing less than unconditional love. Heydn knew how unlikely it was that either of them would get what they needed, but there was a lot to be said for a good climax shared with someone simpatico. He was also smart enough and self-aware enough to know that most eighteen-year-olds hadn't had this insight yet, and he kept it to himself. Being taken for a rube was bad enough; being taken for a cracker barrel philosopher would be worse. When people heard the twang in his voice, they automatically estimated his IQ as somewhere south of normal. If he said something intelligent, it surprised and confused them, and those people rarely react well if they feel you've tricked them. Sometimes, it was better to let folks believe what they wanted.
A sharp intake of breath drew Heydn's attention to his roommate. Blue was propped on one elbow, his head lolling back, the long hair falling away from a face caught on the cusp of longing and fulfillment. Heydn's hand moved faster on his shaft as Blue's eyes opened and fastened on his.
"Oh man!" Heydn groaned as a powerful jolt of pleasure lit up his spine like a carnival midway and blew fuses along all his neural pathways. "I'm cumming!"
Blue's mouth fell open as he gasped for air, wet pink tongue circling dry lips, dark eyes locked on Heydn's spurting cock. A soft groan shivered up from his chest as the muscles of his lower belly clenched in anticipation and then he was lifted up and held fast in the silken fist of his orgasm. He froze, a cry of ecstasy stuck in his throat, fingertips digging into the cushion as the galvanic grip eased and a warm wave flooded his every cell. Cradling his dribbling rod in a sticky fist, he sagged to the floor on his back, enervated and throbbing in time with the echoes of his best climax ever.
"Damn," Heydn breathed. "That sure was somethin' else. Got anymore a that yowie stuff?"
Blue didn't reply. He couldn't be bothered stringing words together just now.
"You can thank me later," Heydn continued. A snore answered him and he leaned over to look into the other young man's face. "Lightweight," he said, his tone affectionate.
Blue didn't wake when Heydn lifted him to his bed. Heydn closed the laptop and went to his side of the room. He used his underwear to clean up with and tossed them in a ball at the end of the bed. Sleep was not far off, but he had time to enjoy the hope that it might be different here after all.
For the remaining eight days of summer break, Heydn and Blue were nearly inseparable around the deserted campus of the Acton-Pierce Academy and Audley Cove, the nearby small New England town. They made forays for supplies, but spent most of their time in the dorm watching videos and gorging on snack food. Neither mentioned it, but both knew that at some point late in the evening, they'd be hauling out their dicks and whacking off. Blue's spit would dry up as he clicked the yaoi video file and settled back with studied indifference, not daring to look at Heydn until he was sure his new friend was engrossed. Only then would Blue slide a hand under his waistband and take hold of his hard cock. And he was hard more often than not these days.
He and the shy guy from Texas were a pack of two and the world was a lot less scary, a little smaller, and much, much brighter with a friend. Little by little, Blue lowered the shields of apathy and disdain he carried to show those who rejected him that he didn't want their approval in the first place. The first time Heydn reached over and covered Blue's hand with his, Blue had climaxed and managed to laugh at himself along with Heydn. After that, they weren't shy about giving each other a helping hand, in Heydn's tacky words. Emboldened, Blue leaned over one night in post-orgasmic bliss and touched his lips to Heydn's cheek, sliding sideways until he found his mouth. Heydn didn't even flinch. He grabbed Blue by the back of the neck and returned the kiss with enthusiasm. Blue didn't know for sure if he was gay or not, but given the way that kiss made him feel, it seemed like a safe bet. No matter what it was called, he was certain that he loved Heydn Case.
Each day deepened their friendship, and each night was filled with new wonders of sensual pleasure. And then fall fell on them. The venerable stone quadrangles of the campus with their neat squares of carefully tended grass around ancient oaks rang to the shouts of returning students greeting friends they hadn't seen all summer. The raftered halls echoed with the shuffling and scraping of baggage being dragged along the 150-year-old wooden floors. To Blue, it was the equivalent of an inimical alien invasion, a very real war of the worlds, but this year, he wouldn't face it alone.