Chapter One

It's a little frustrating not being able to move your legs when they start to cramp-up from being in the same position all day long. That was why Matt was not in the best of moods. Pain, even if it was a very low level pain, will do that to you. He shifted awkwardly in his chair, trying to change the distribution of his weight slightly. He couldn't concentrate. Times like these he would have preferred not to have any sensation in his legs at all.

Abe was leaning against his drafting-board, thoroughly obscuring Matt's view of the sketches the two of them had been working on for the third year architecture project. He looked down at Matt warily, raising an eyebrow at his clumsy shifting.

"You ok?"

Matt nodded, his hands playing absently on the steel wheel-rims of his chair so that he rolled back a few inches and then forwards again, as if moving would alleviate the dull twinges in his static legs.

"Yeah. Yeah I'm fine." He sighed. His lower back was aching too, but that was entirely beside the point. He wasn't about to start discussing things like that with a virtual stranger like Abel Moser. Instead he made a vain attempt at rubbing the cramp from his back with his thumb.

"What's with all the fidgeting dude? You're killing my concentration here."

Matt stopped and raised an eyebrow himself. "Right. Here I was thinking I was the only one working on this design concept."

That coaxed a broad smile onto the boy's strong features. He shrugged. "I'm Jewish. I'm good at delegating and then reaping the rewards. It comes with the heritage."

An echoing smile raced across Matt's face – not as bright, but still there nonetheless. "That your way of telling me I'm doing all the work?"

The large stupid smile came again and Matt couldn't help but think it matched his large stupid hair perfectly. It wasn't a proper afro. It was a mess.

"Relax pretty boy. I'm joking with you."

Matt felt his eyes narrow, but Abe didn't notice as he'd already turned his attention back to the sketches. It seemed this had just got worse than Matt had already thought it was. If Abe was calling him pretty boy, then it would appear rumours of his sexuality had already preceded him. One thing he knew was that Abe was not gay. He had far too many girls hanging off his every move for that. Besides, there was no way anyone would seriously call Matt a pretty boy. He didn't have fine bones, or feminine features. Hell, he wasn't even androgynous. When he could stand up he'd been a solid six foot – taller even than the lanky Abe himself. And he didn't mess around with all of that ambiguous crap. His hair was short. His jeans were just jeans – not tight, and if his legs hadn't been so emaciated they wouldn't be baggy either. As far as he was concerned a guy is a guy, and should dress like one. He might have been gay, but Matt had no compulsion to paint his nails and carry a handbag.

Now Abe was all contradictions. Stupid hair and black-painted thumb nails. Band t-shirts of groups Matt doubted even he had heard of and that were loose enough to hang off his well constructed frame just ever-so slightly suggestively. Shapeless woollen jumpers stretched out of all recognition for the winter. Girls loved it. They even loved his wire hair-band, though Matt thought that if he was stupid enough to want to grow it long, when it frizzed out of all control and got in his way, he should just suck it up. What self respecting guy wears a hair-band? Not that the battered cord trousers hanging off Abe's hips did bad things to the view of his arse. But, Matt reasoned, it was entirely besides the point that he managed to look hot despite dressing like an idiot who found his clothes in the dark everyday. Abe Moser was straight and he was gay, and that was that.

Matt wheeled a little closer to the drafting board and reached for the copy of the project description that they had been given. His eyes scanned over it for what must have been the tenth time since the pairings had been announced and the project officially started that afternoon.

"We should choose a couple of sites to scope out. Maybe three."

Next to him, Abe crouched down to his discarded bag, searching through its contents for something while looking up at Matt. "What's the brief again?"

Matt almost subconsciously pulled back on one wheel to put a more comfortable distance between them, his eyes fixed on the text. He didn't need to have Abe looking up at him like that.

" 'Your team has been hired by Bilton Hotels to design a new major branch in the city. You must produce a quality building that exudes the kind of luxury that Bilton Hotels promotes, while at the same time sticking to the less than luxury budget.'"

"Hmm. I wonder who came up with the very original name. Do you think they might possibly mean Hilton?" Abe stood up again, spreading out a large scale map of the city on the drawing board.

"I think they might."

The map was covered in pen markings. There were dots and outlined areas all over the place. It was a maze of highlighted neon and scrawled notes.

"Where should we put this baby Matt?" His eyes flashed with enthusiasm and he had a pen in his hand, the cap already off. The sight made Matt smile. With the hours you had to put in, architecture was not something you studied without passion, and a little craziness. Abe had the craziness in spades.

Matt shuffled the paper, considering the options. "Central, but also near the business district and near the mainline station. Probably near the airport bus routes wouldn't hurt either." He was going to keep this nice and professional, and it would be fine.

Abe's pen dotted between areas and then he grabbed a rule and drew a triangle on the map that encompassed the station, business district and the central area of town. He stood back and folded his arms across his chest.

"Somewhere in there is our perfect site."

Matt wheeled in a little closer, trying to pick out an empty space in the close-packed development. His eyes scanned the streets for an undeveloped lot in vain. "Do you think we could demolish something?"

"Not without a lot of fuss," He grabbed an office chair from the desk next to Matt's and slumped down. He cast him a sideways glance. "Never had you down as a dynamite junkie."

Matt shot him a look back. "I'm not."

"Good to know." That stupid smile was back. Matt didn't return it, just stared at the map. He was not going to start flirting with Abe to boost his already enormous ego.

"It's very tightly developed in there. We might have to reconsider the location." He shifted uncomfortably, aware that Abe was watching him. His legs and back still ached.

"When are you free?"

"What?" Abe was still smiling at him and it made his stomach skitter. Actually, what made his stomach skitter were Abe's impossibly golden brown eyes holding his own in what would have been a rather smouldering stare had the guy been queer.

"When are you free? We should do a walk around. We might find something we missed on the map."

"Right, sure." Flustered, Matt retrieved his diary from his backpack which was slung on the back of his chair. It was a project. It was not a date.

"Tuesday ok?"

Matt flicked the pages open to the right week and scanned down the days. He nodded. Tuesday was fine, Monday would have been fine too; in fact the weekend would have been good too. He set the book open on his lap and twisted back to his bag to find a pen.

Abe scooted closer, walking the office chair forwards with stupid spider steps and Matt swallowed. He was scrabbling at the bottom of his bag for a pen that didn't want to be found, trying to put off what he suspected was coming. Abe stopped directly in front of him and smiled. He plucked the diary off his lap and turned the book around so that he could read the empty page before setting it back down. Long fingers popped the lid off his pen and he leaned in to write in careful letters under the Tuesday heading, using Matt's legs as a support for the book.

" '11 AM – meet Abe at Meadow Café,' " he read off and then looked up. "Do you know it?"

Matt managed a nod. The guy had no concept of personal space. Their heads were just a little too close together. He pulled back, hands on his wheels.

"Yeah I know it."

His smile was tight – glad that plans had been sorted out and nothing more. Whatever Abe was up to, he was not going to succeed in getting Matt flustered. He wasn't planning on being a tourist trophy for a day-tripping wanna-be. Matt knew he was double points – more of a lion rug complete with head and paws than a lone elephant tusk. He wasn't just gay, he was a gay cripple. The perfect souvenir for your bohemian student out to experience it all and make the world a better place along the way.