Mom, seriously, I think I'm done," Peter said, getting anxious. Couldn't his mom just leave? It was only a matter of time before Jason showed up to move his stuff in, and what would he think if he saw Peter's mom there?
"Peter," she chastised. "Relax... I'm just helping-"
A voice sounded in the hallway, low and slightly gruff. Peter's heart leapt and he looked down, rummaging through a cardboard box with his books, cds, and movies in it.
"162... that's me."
The RA said something in response, and then the door opened. Peter looked up, trying to feign disinterest, as Jason entered the room. Their eyes locked for the first time, and Peter lost his breath. Jason's eyes were blue and clear, and... kind. Peter hadn't expected that.
Jason stared right back at Peter, this shy boy he'd seen around school. He hadn't known his name, so his room assignment had done nothing to help- but he'd seen Peter around the school. He was quiet, had a few close friends, and was nice. The kind of kid you'd like to be lab partners with. But... Jason realized he wasn't entirely correct in pegging him this way. He was more. There was something in his eyes...
Jason shook his head and greeted Peter and then the woman who must be Peter's mom, trying very hard not to get hot under the collar or think about this boy who might unravel everything.
"Nice to meet you," he said to Peter's mom. She greeted him politely, but Peter was somewhat rude, for he could barely even look at his roommate. He was afraid of these feelings he had that he tried to ignore the boy altogether.
Jason and his mother had a polite conversation for ten minutes or so, in which Peter was trying to discern as much as he could about Jason's character- obviously he was somewhat nice if he was this polite to his mom, right?
A couple hours later, his mom left, giving him a kiss on the cheek and a hug and wishing him a wonderful year.
"So," Jason said, his voice low and gruff and causing Peter to go even redder. Just with that simple word. "We're gonna be living together for the next year, huh?"
"I guess," Peter said, trying very hard not to seem like an idiot.
"Are any of your friends here yet?" Jason asked. Peter's mind immediately jumped around, wondering if Jason was going to insult his friends, or want to throw a party, or do something illegal- please, please no! Thought Peter. Let him be as good as I think he is.
"I think most of them are coming tomorrow," Peter said honestly.
"Same here," Jason said. "My sister's here, but she was meeting a friend. Do you... er..." Jason didn't want this to sound like he was asking Peter out or something. So he just spit it out. "Since neither of our friends are here yet, you wanna go to the dining hall and get something to eat?"
Peter looked up eagerly, but gave a blasé response. "Sure. Cool."
They bought burgers and fries and sodas and grabbed a table at the rear corner. The hall was scattered, with most of the school arriving the day before. Neither of the boys could look at each other, because each was so preoccupied with their newfound... what? Love? Attraction? Obsession? Whatever it was, both boys thought they were the only one feeling it.
"So, what do you like to do?" Jason asked Peter. "Like... what's your thing?"
"Uh," Peter said stupidly. "School?"
Jason laughed. "No, I mean, like... outside school."
"I did the play last year, but... it's not a big deal or anything."
"That's cool," Jason said.
Peter's hand started to shake and he almost knocked over his soda.
"Dude," Jason said, laughing. "Chill." He tried to play it off coolly, but he could only think 'was that because of me?'
Peter turned brilliantly red, and their conversation was ;ax for the rest of the meal.
Once they got back to their room, Jason asked Peter if he could help setting up his bookshelf.
"Didn't your parents come to help you move in?" Peter asked as they took the materials out of the box.
"Well, my dad dropped me off. But he wasn't gonna help me with manual labor or anything. No way."
"Oh," Peter said stupidly, wanting to ask about the angry look Jason got on his face when he mentioned his father, but feeling like that would be prying too much.
Later that night, when they were brushing their teeth and undressing for bed, both of them hesitated. Then they hurriedly undressed and got into their bunks, shut off the lamps, and turned away from each other, pretending to be asleep.
But neither got so much as a wink as they contemplated what the hell had just happened.
Over the next few weeks, Peter and Jason's interaction was minimal. They talked in the morning a bit and at night about homework and stuff, but Jason was busy with cross country and Peter was always up late finishing assignments. They had separate friend groups, separate everything. But both observed the other one. Jason would go to bed and pretend to be asleep, while really watching Peter study- he was so... adorable when he studied. Jason had admitted to himself that he liked Peter- and not in a friendly way. In a way that he knew he shouldn't like him- but what harm could it do if he never told anyone? He thought Peter was attractive, with his dark hair and eyes, and sensitive and kind. He wanted to shield him from the harshness of the world, because Peter always seemed young and helpless.
These new feeling consumed Jason's days- he thought about Peter in every class, every minute. When he wasn't thinking of Peter, he was thinking of how he now knew, positively that he was... he was...
No. He still couldn't think it. It was something he knew, but not something he could acknowledge. Still, when he saw Peter, the feelings were good, wonderful. How could those innocent and sweet feelings the boy brought out in him be bad?
For Peter's part, he'd already spent a great deal of time watching Jason. Now he tried to avoid him. To Peter, the more time he spent with Jason was the higher risk he took of exposing himself. His feelings were so prevalent that they always threatened to overflow. He almost stroked Jason's hair once when he was looking for something on the floor- it was so soft looking and thick and blond... Peter was terrified of his dreams, for he knew himself to talk in his sleep and knew he dreamed of Jason almost every night. Not to mention waking up in the morning and having the first thing he saw be him. He couldn't get out of bed unless Jason was turned around, it was too embarrassing.
And Peter started to realize that he'd been right about Jason. He was kind. He did not express his tenderness to the outside world, but Peter got a firsthand view. Many nights, Nadia, Jason's twin sister, would come in and talk with her brother. She'd sit casually on Jason's bed while Jason sat in the desk chair, moving back and forth on the swivvle and laughing with his sister. Though she liked to give off the impression that she could take care of herself, it was obvious that Jason would defend Nadia to the end. He was very protective of her, despite her toughness. Peter thought it was sweet, and was therefore another reason he could not be in the room with Jason.
One day after a class they roommates had together, Peter looked over at Jason (a common occurrence). Jason was talking to a very pretty girl with dark hair- Ivy, was her name? She was flirty and popular and obviously interested in Jason. She touched his arm lightly as she laughed, throwing back her head, her shiny black hair cascading in waterfalls down her back, her teeth sparkling and white. Jason smiled at her, and said something back. Peter's stomach twisted, and he turned away.
That night, he was sitting up and doing his math homework alone in the room. He was pretending he was not waiting for Jason to come in, but obviously he was. Suddenly, the door to their room banged open and Jason thundered inside, kicking his chest of drawers and slamming the door, throwing his backpack on his bed.
"Fuck!" he exclaimed. Peter was frozen, staring. He'd never seen Jason like this before, or anyone for that matter, and didn't know what to say. "Fuck!"
"What's wrong?" Peter asked in a soft voice.
"Nothing," Jason snapped. "You... wouldn't get it."
Peter chafed at the comment, but soldiered on. He wanted to talk to Jason, didn't he? Well here was his chance. He might not get another if he chickened out.
"I got an F in speech," Jason admitted quietly. "And now everything's messed up- it's like I'm some kind of idiot."
Peter let out a laugh, and Jason glared at him.
"What's so funny? I usually get good grades too, don't laugh because you think you're... better or something.."
"No... I'm laughing because that's not a big deal. It's like halfway through October, dude," Peter added, using a word specifically put in to make himself sound straight. 'Dude' and 'man' were words he'd picked up along the way to sound more masculine. "You have plenty of time to bring your grade up. And... I'll tutor you if you want." He said the last part a little meekly.
Jason smirked. "Thanks. But it's not the grade... they're sending a letter home to my dad," he said, the real worry coming out now. "And Peter, you don't understand. He'll kill me. I always have to be perfect at everything... if I get another bad grade, I'll be pulled from the cross-country team and my dad will have a fit. I need to get a scholarship, I need to have fantastic grades and be good at sports and be popular and have a girlfriend... and I..." He turned away from Peter, and he punched his bedpost. "I'm so fucking suck of him pushing me around telling me what to do. I want to live my own life! And he's going to find out about this, and he's going to scream at me over the phone, and he'll tell me I'm the worst son imaginable and that he can't believe I could fuck up so badly, and the worst part is he doesn't even know. He doesn't know the half of it! Like, seriously, if he ever found out that I'm..."
Jason stopped short just in time. He had angry tears coming from his eyes and his shoulders were shaking in fury and fright.
"I just can't fuck up," Jason said softly.
"That you're what?" Peter said softly.
"No," Jason sharply interrupted. "Forget I said anything."
But Peter was given courage by Jason's outburst. He slid off the chair he was in and moved on Jason's bunk. He put a hand on his roommate's shoulder, knowing full well he was putting himself at an unimaginable risk. Either he'd get punched and be called a faggot, or...
Jason tensed, and Peter started to pull his hand away. But then Jason relaxed and let out a sigh, sounding defeated. Jason turned and looked at Peter, his blue eyes filled with desperation and looking like a scared, small child. Peter wanted to hold him and protect him, and he was given bravery.
"If he ever found out what I'm so fucking scared the kids at school will find out?" Peter asked. "That, up until a minute ago, I was terrified you'd find out?"
"What are you talking about?" Jason said, with as much conviction as he could muster. "I'm not..."
But he couldn't finish, for his shoulders were shaking again as the emotion took over.
"If he finds out, he'll kill me. I'm not exaggerating. He'll disown me..."
Peter wrapped both of his arms around Jason, feeling his soul fill up, feeling the sheer completeness of holding him in his arms. Jason stilled, and then relaxed into Peter's embrace, burying his tear-covered face in Peter's shoulder as he held him. Peter bent his head down and rested his face against Jason's hair.
"Then he won't find out," Peter whispered. "None of them will. It'll be..."
"Our secret," Jason said, pulling up but not pulling away. He looked Peter in the face carefully. "Are you sure about this?"
And Peter hesitated, not sure if he should continue, but then he moved forward and gently touched his lips to Jason's.
Peter had been right all along- he was not normal. He would never be the boy who was crazy about girls and got married and had children. Sure, life would be harder. No, he was not normal. But for the first time, he didn't want to be.
Jason reached for Peter's hands, and pulled away. "Thank you," he whispered. "You... get this, don't you?"
"I've been living with it all my life," Peter said with a cynical laugh. "But it'll be ok."
"Yeah," Jason said with a small smile. "Yeah, I think it will."
More coming soon!