Author: Leigh Jarrett
Genre: Gay Romance
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Chad pulled the timetable from his pocket and looked it over. It was a different system for the classes than he was used to. He only had four subjects to deal with each semester, but each class was almost three hours long, and it alternated from day to day. It was going to take a bit of time to get used to, but after locating the proper block, Chad was pleased to see it was English; another of his favorite classes. He climbed the stairs, assuming that any classroom starting with two would be on the second floor.
Chad didn't see
any of his friends in the class, but at the back sat Derek—alone. Chad took an
empty seat a few rows up from where he was sitting. The last thing he needed to
do was piss off the guys on his team by sitting with the guy. It was a sure
fire way to get himself injured during practice. He was pleased that he'd made
that decision when he saw Marlboro and Pete wander into the room and take a
seat at the back, across the aisle from Derek.
Chad pulled a piece of paper from his binder and wrote Hey Fuckwads across it, then crumpled it up and chucked it at them. They howled with laughter as they read it and tossed an eraser at his head. He had just lifted the eraser from the floor, about to throw it back at them, when the teacher arrived.
"Excuse me, Mister …," the teacher said.
"Parker, sir. Sorry."
back in his seat and opened his binder while trying to look as abashed as
"Right," the teacher began. "Today we're going to be reading A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner. He was a writer from the southern states during a time of great change …"
Chad tried to pay attention, but he was finding the content of the poem to be so boring and irrelevant that he was having trouble staying awake. When a question sheet was handed out, he cringed, but set to work completing it.
"This is horrible stuff, isn't it?" the girl next to him commented as she leaned in his direction, touching his arm.
"I hate these kinds of poems,"
replied. "Why not just write a short story instead of trying to sell the
thing as a poem."
"Totally. My name is Ivy," Ivy said, batting her eyes.
Chad let out an inner sigh, but smiled.
"So, how are you managing so far?" Ivy asked, and then poised herself to hang on Chad's every word.
"It only being your second day and all," she added.
"I'm doing alright," Chad answered. "I'm Chad by the way."
"Yes. I know. You're a quarterback aren't you?" Ivy replied. "I'm on the cheerleading squad." She shifted her chair closer and leaned into Chad's shoulder, lowering her voice to an intimate whisper as if she were about to tell him a secret. "We're having a start of season party at Zeek's on Friday. Did you want to go?"
"Sure, yeah." Chad nodded his head. "That sounds cool."
"Great. Here's my address."
Ivy tore a small piece of paper from her binder and wrote down her address and cell number. "You can pick me up at eight."
Chad bit his lip and then grinned.
"Nice. Here's my number …just in case you need me …for anything—anything at all." Chad winked at Ivy, then took her hand and used his pen to write his cell number on her arm. He knew from experience that girls like Ivy craved the bragging rights that came with having a football player's number written on their arm.
And he was only too willing to oblige.
He'd just finished when the bell rang for break.
Ivy bounced up out of her seat, and took off into the hallway, probably off to find her squad to show them the number.
decided to stay in the classroom for break to work through the poem in front of
him. He was about to get started when Marlboro and Pete attacked him from
behind, putting him in a headlock and playfully roughing up his hair.
"You lucky bastard," Pete said. "Did Ivy give you her number?"
grinning. "Apparently, I'm taking her to Zeek's on Friday night."
"You're only here two days and you already get to tap something like that." Marlboro dropped himself into the chair beside
and threw his feet up on the desk. "I'm so fucking jealous."
"Hey, what time does practice usually finish on a Friday?" Chad asked. "I want to make sure I have enough time to swing by the drugstore and replenish my glove box before picking Ivy up."
He smiled as the guys started howling and pounding him on the back. They were so fucking predictable—it made him sick.
"Are you going out for break?" Pete asked.
want to get this stupid worksheet done in class so I don't have to work on it
tonight. I have to study for a history test."
"Alright, see you later," Marlboro said. "Hey, by the way, watch your back. The freak is still in the room. You don't want him sneaking up behind you. If you know what I mean."
Chad forced a smile and a nod in Marlboro's direction, keeping it fixed in place until the two left the room and headed outside.
He pressed the worksheet flat on his desk, smoothing out the wrinkles caused by his eraser. Anything to delay wading through the next question. He could hear Derek's pencil scratching away behind him. Other than that, the silence was deafening, leaving Marlboro's comment to churn around inside his head.
Chad turned in his chair to face Derek. "I'm sorry about that," he said to Derek. "Those guys are complete assholes."
"I'm used to it," replied Derek. "It's not a big deal. But thanks."
"I don't understand what is wrong with some people."
left his seat and went to sit beside Derek. "It's like someone forgot to
turn their brains on when they were born." He leaned forward on the desk
and paused for a moment "Hey, thanks again for the notes and the textbook.
I finished my own notes last night. Did you need the textbook back? I have it
in my locker."
"Just bring it to class tomorrow." Derek shuffled nervously as the bell rang, signaling the end of break. "You should get back to your seat before anyone sees you sitting back here with me."
"Yeah, right. I'll see you tomorrow."
Chad squeezed Derek's shoulder affectionately as he passed by, making Derek jump, then slid back into his seat, imagining the flush of heat that was likely coloring Derek's cheeks.
The rest of the class crept by painfully slow, and Chad was relieved when the bell finally rang and he could go find his friends. The plan was to meet up and throw a football around during lunch. He found Sam and Dillon out in the furthest field with a joint already lit as they passed the ball back and forth. He intercepted a pass and howled as Sam nailed him into the ground, knocking the breath clean out of him.
"Hey, fuckers!" yelled the other two guys from Chad's old school as they ran onto the field and took off after Dillon, trying to grab the joint from him. The bigger of the two was Gus, short for Augustus, which they never let him forget. And the other guy Tyler was new to their group. He'd only been hanging out with them since tenth grade, but Chad trusted him implicitly. He'd proven his loyalty on more than one occasion.
Rain began spitting down, slicking up the grass, so they decided to take shelter under a tree to wait it out.
"So, party at Zeek's on Friday. Are we going?" Gus asked, then stuffed an entire sandwich into his mouth and laughed, almost choking on it as Tyler punched him in the ribs.
"Yeah, I have to go,"
Chad said. "I
got myself roped into it by this girl, Ivy, in my English class."
Tyler said, leaning
forward and pulling out tuffs of grass in irritation. "Why do they always
go for you?"
"Oh my god! She's the one in those pictures!" Sam shoved Dillon and scrambled to pull his phone out of his pocket. He brought up the pictures before passing his phone around.
"That is so fucking unfair," Gus said as he perused the pictures and shook his head. "What the hell are you going to do with her? She looks like she'll be looking for a little action."
Chad replied. "Get
her so drunk she passes out then spread some lascivious rumors around school
about our night together and hope she doesn't remember that I didn't touch her."
"What a fucking waste," Dillon said.
"Anyway," Chad said. "Enough about my girl problems. My house on Sunday to watch the game?" Finishing his apple, he tried to see how far he could chuck it across the field. Dillon snorted out a laugh as it careened into a nearby tree.
"As always. We'll be there," Sam replied. "Are we still coming over tomorrow to watch a movie or something?"
"Sure, if you want," Chad replied. "But my mom will be home, so we have to stay off the smut channels. Your choice if you still want to show up."
"As long as you've got beer, we'll be there," Gus said, then laughed loudly, snorting. "Hey, I made a rhyme."
"That doesn't fucking rhyme, you moron," Dillon said, grinning. "How did you manage to get through elementary school?"
Gus' forehead wrinkled in thought.
"What do you mean?" he asked, then squealed as Dillon tackled him and pushed his face into the ground, before leaping up and taking off at top speed back toward the school.
"Thanks again, man,"
Chad said as he
tried to make eye contact with Derek. "I would've been dead without it."
Then he stood and looked around the room, not spotting the teacher anywhere.
"Sure," he said. "I'm here on time today, and where is our valiant Ms. Clare? Nowhere to be found."
He hooted loudly as the other students laughed with him, then sat back down, the show complete. He propped his head on his hand and faced Derek. "So, how was your night?"
"Boring," replied Derek. "I had to work last night."
"Yeah, where do you work?"
"At the mall. In a clothing store."
"Cool. I went straight home and crashed in my room." Chad turned in his chair, redirecting his attention on Sam. "Who did you buy that shit from yesterday? If I'd wanted to take a nap, I would've stolen some of my mom's sleeping pills."
"Hey, we're still new here," Sam replied, clearly offended. "I'll track down a good supplier. Give me some time to talk to a few people, go to a few parties. You know."
"Yeah, yeah, sure."
back to Derek. "Who do you buy your stuff from?"
"I don't. I'm not really into all that." Derek slid the textbook closer to himself and flipped it open to one of the chapters they were about to be tested on—if the teacher ever showed up.
"Good for you." Chad leaned closer and bumped Derek's arm with his hand before he lowered his voice slightly. "I owe you for the textbook. What are you doing for lunch?"
Derek picked at the edges of the paper in the textbook.
"I don't usually eat lunch," he answered.
"No wonder you're so thin. I saw a sushi place a few blocks from here."
Chad winked at Derek. "Let me
buy you lunch."
Derek tucked the textbook closer to his chest, hugging it to him.
"I don't know," he said.
"Derek, you can't get fat eating sushi. Those couture jeans of yours will still fit tomorrow, I promise." Chad smiled then leaned heavier into his hand so he could study Derek's face. He hadn't noticed the small amount of makeup Derek wore around his eyes before. It was subtle. Just a bit of mascara and black eye liner, but it gave Derek's already expressive eyes an exotic touch.
"Should I meet you out front of the school?" Derek asked, then blinked, breaking Chad's gaze.
"No, I'll pick you up at your locker. My car is parked around back today in the covered lot."
Chad was about to ask Derek something else when he felt a pencil hit the back of his head. He redirected his attention to find that Ms. Clare had arrived, and was standing at the front of the class with another pencil in her hand at the ready.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, Mr. Parker," Ms. Clare said. "But the rest of the class would like to start the test."
Chad turned to face the front of the room and sat quietly while the tests were handed back, and set to work immediately, finishing in less than half the allotted time. He returned to his seat after handing the test in and watched Derek slowly, but correctly, completing the questions.
As the bell rung for break, Chad closed his books and nudged Derek with his knee before getting up and following his friends, Sam and Dillon, out the door. They jostled their way down the hall together, kicking each other and pushing people into lockers until they arrived at the washroom.
Chad, we're going to throw a ball
around at lunch again today," Sam said. "Meet us on the far field. We'll
save you a spot on the wet grass with a little dry grass of our own."
Amused at himself, Sam laughed and pounded Chad's back.
"Sorry, I can't today,"
said. "I'm taking Derek for sushi."
Both his friends fell silent.
"Damn it, Chad," Sam said finally and grabbed Chad's shirt, pulling him across the room away from the flow of guys coming and going from the washroom.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
Sam's hands away. "It's all good."
"Your rules, remember. No one from school," Dillon said. "This is only our third day and you're ignoring your own rules already?"
"It's not a fucking date, asshole," Chad said to Dillon, and then directed his attention on Sam. "He lent me his textbook. Plus he's too fucking skinny. Give me a break, would you?" He pushed Dillon out of his way and stepped around Sam before turning to face them. "I appreciate that you guys look out for me, really, I do. But I can take care of myself sometimes, alright?"
"Fine, Romeo," Sam replied. "But make sure your cell phone is on for a change, in case we have to locate your body at the bottom of the lake." He smacked Chad in the back of the head on his way past and followed Dillon out into the hall.
The bell had rung over fifteen minutes ago, and the halls had cleared out as people found their way to the cafeteria. Chad had taken off right after class to deal with some stuff, and Derek had been left standing and waiting at his locker.
Derek decided he'd waited long enough, and subjected himself to enough ridicule by passing students for one day, so he opened his locker to grab one of his binders and a few books to head to the library, as he did every day at lunch.
It didn't quite have the desired effect.
"You're late," Derek said, slamming the locker shut.
Chad scrubbed a hand around to the back of his neck.
"Yeah. Hey, I'm sorry. Are you ready to go?"
"Will we have enough time?" Derek asked as he followed Chad out through the side door that led to the covered parking lot.
"That's the nice thing about sushi," Chad said as he opened the passenger door, motioning for Derek to climb in. "It's usually pretty quick."
Derek nodded as Chad closed his door then twisted in his seat, peering around, amazed at how tidy the car was compared to the state it had been in before. He carefully did up his seatbelt as Chad slipped in beside him, preparing himself for the deafening music and squealing tires—but none of that happened.
"How do you think you did on the history test?" Chad asked as he turned the engine over and slowly backed out of the stall, before heading toward the street.
"I think I did alright," replied Derek. "What about you?"
"I got a couple wrong. But I'll get an A like you."
"How do you know what my mark is going to be?"
"I was watching you after I handed mine in."
Chad glanced over when there was no response. Derek appeared to be deep in thought, picking nervously at the crease of his pants.
He checked the rear-view and pulled into the parking lot of a small strip mall a few blocks from the school. He turned off the engine and pocketed the keys.
"Just stay there,"
"Wait for me."
Derek tracked Chad as he climbed out of the car and closed his door. He undid his seatbelt and looked over his shoulder as Chad came around to the passenger side to open his door for him, making him extremely uncomfortable. But while they were waiting to be seated in the restaurant, Chad chatted away about football and his old school, and the uneasy feeling went away—until Chad placed his hand at the small of his back as they were being led to their table, making him jump—yet again.
"So, what are you going to have?"
"I've never had sushi before," Derek admitted as he turned the menu over, trying to figure out what, if anything, he'd be able, or willing, to eat. "I'm not really sure what …"
Chad patted the table, smiling as he caught Derek's attention.
"Then let's stick to something without raw fish," he said as he waved the server over, and much to Derek's relief, ordered for them both. The yam rolls Chad had ordered sounded safe enough.
"So, where do you live?" Derek asked as he refolded his napkin and glanced around the restaurant, noting it was practically empty at this time of day, except for a few business people.
When Chad didn't answer, Derek looked up to see that Chad was studying him intently. "
"We're up in the estates on Hillside,"
Chad replied finally.
"Wow! Are you rich or something?" Derek laughed and squeezed a lemon into the water the server had just dropped off.
back in his seat and crossed his arms. "Derek, I'm having trouble figuring
Derek released the lemon, allowing it to sink to the bottom of his glass. "What do you mean?"
"I'm getting all sorts of mixed signals from you."
"What kind of signals?" Derek examined the plates of food as they were set on the table. He cringed as he realized the only utensils they were going to be getting were chopsticks.
"The clothes, the makeup, and the mannerisms tell me one thing," Chad replied. "But then I try to touch you, and you jump."
Derek, having just taken a sip of water, began coughing into his napkin, his mind raging, furious, as he looked at the stereotypical teenaged, football jock in ripped jeans and a baseball cap sitting across from him.
"Alright, jokes over," Derek said. "This wouldn't be the first time one of you jocks has tried to make a fool of me. I'm not that stupid. And we're going to be late getting back to school." He threw his napkin down on the table and made to push his chair out when
reached across the table and grabbed his arm.
"Whoa, Derek," Chad said. "I'm not joking around. I was being perfectly serious." He slid his hand down Derek's arm and grabbed onto his hand, squeezing it. "Believe me, I'm the last person that would try to make fun of you." He let go of Derek's hand and reached for his chopsticks, clicking them together.
"Now, have you ever used these things before?" he asked.
"Here, watch." Chad showed Derek how to hold the chopsticks to carefully maneuver the sushi into the soy sauce, and then into his mouth. He tried not to laugh as Derek dropped a piece, spraying soy sauce all over the white tablecloth.
"You just need to practice some more,"
said. "I'll have to bring you here every week until you become a pro."
Derek set his chopsticks down and leaned against the table.
"What are you doing?" he asked. "Why did you bring me here?"
"You seem like a really nice guy …and you've got the most amazing eyes."
"My eyes? You're definitely fucking with me." Derek leaned back, heavily, and crossed his arms. "Guys like you do not go around telling guys like me that you like our eyes."
"Yeah, you're right," he said. "Because, as I was sitting here, watching you eat, I suddenly realized it's your mouth that's driving me crazy."
Derek clenched his jaw then spoke, his voice dropping to a harsh whisper. "You're a fucking idiot, you know that? We're late. And I don't want to play your little game anymore."
He motioned to the server and spoke quickly to her. "Could we get separate checks please? And could you call me a taxi?"
"Wait. No. Just ignore him,"
interjected. "One check, please." He waited until the server left
before reaching out to grab Derek's hand again. He had to grip on to it tightly
to keep Derek from pulling away. "You've got me all wrong. I'm not pulling
your chain, honestly."