A/N: an older one I've been meaning to put up for a long time.

The Rubaiyyat of Omar Camacho

1: the library

Lunch time and the quad was crowded. The preps held their ground along the most conspicuous part of the quad steps. The jocks held the tables. The bandies hung around the band room door, and the goths clustered behind the old machine shop which had been awkwardly converted to the advanced computer lab. Most of the Mexicans filled the cafeteria, most of the whites sunned themselves outside, the blacks had their own corner too.

Omar leaned up against the library door. Alone. He finished his lunch --two hardboiled eggs and a carrot -- about the same time the librarian opened the door with an ironic but welcoming smile for him. The four guys behind him beelined to the open computers on one side of the library, but Omar headed out back to the old armchair in the window alcove just beyond the old literature section. He wasn't hiding. Nobody would be looking for him. He was there for the peace and quiet. He opened a notebook -- kind of a pretentious one, with grey quadrille lined paper and an extra stiff cover -- and pulled out his extra-fine engineering pen filled with blue-black ink. So gay. He didn't care: what he was writing was gayer than that.

"You think you're hiding here?" Robert loomed into view, gorgeous, sparkling, knowing. "All I had to do was ask one guy where was Omar and three guys said you were in the back of the library. Wonder how come they know?"

Omar closed his notebook. He wondered too. Or why they cared. And why Robert, of all people, cared. Probably he didn't. Probably he had to do a book report. It was a coincidence that he found Omar here. He was just making conversation because he was Robert -- friendly with everybody.

"I'm not hiding," Omar said, anyway. "I like this chair."

"For writing in?" Robert cast a loaded look at Omar's notebook. Omar moved to slip it under his leg, but not fast enough: Robert had it. Omar prepared to die. But Robert didn't open it. "This what you write the Rodrigo and Oscar stories in?" Robert asked.

Okay, I'm dead now, Omar thought. No, Robert was too nice a guy to do anything to him, exactly, but if he knew Omar wrote those stories, Omar had just died of embarrassment.

"What makes you think I'm the writer of those?" Omar asked. No, wrong, he should have asked "what Rodrigo and Oscar stories?" and now it was too late, with that one wrong question he'd admitted that he knew what they were, he'd admitted that he wrote them, and he'd admitted, not just that he was gay, but that he had a really nasty imagination and implied that he was a skank himself.

Except for his writing, he was a virgin.

It was not lost on Robert that Omar had admitted to all those things. He didn't seem really upset about it and he didn't seem about to be mean about it, either. He just kept smiling.

"Well, two things. I was fucking Joe Harris and he said I was just like Rodrigo and I didn't know what he was talking about so he took me online and showed me where they were. They were pretty hot, by the way. I thought Joe was flattering me at first but the more I read the more details I saw that were exactly like me -- I mean, that pair of shoes, Omar, that's pretty close to the bone."

Omar looked away. "Sorry." He should have realized he couldn't get away with the shoes: yellow converse with seascapes painted on them by Robert's fanciful little sister. Not another pair like that in the world.

"Don't be. I thought there was something fishy when I read about the shoes, but I didn't know who it was until I got hold of this."

"This" was a scrap of Omar's notebook paper with his distinctive blue-black ink and tiny clean letters. Rodrigo's name and Oscar's name were on it, and not much else -- a list of initials and abbreviations most of which were not recognizable as sexual details. Most. There were the letters "bj" with arrows of different sizes pointing in and out from it.

"So that was pretty much the whole thing, right? Right?"

Omar covered his face. "It's not you, Robert, not really," he muttered into his hands. "Just I know what you look like so I used your looks and stuff for the character. I never thought you'd read it, or anybody that knew you. I mean, dude, you're underage! You can't read that stuff!"

"You're younger than I am, and you wrote it," Robert said. "What I think is funny is I never had a clue you were into me. Or anybody. You act like you're this little kid lost in high school, like you don't know what anybody's doing or talking about and you just want to go back to fifth grade or something."

"Give me back my notebook," Omar said.

"In a minute," Robert said. "You got any new stories in here?"

"God, Robert, just give it back."

"You don't want to share it? But you put these fuckers online!"

"Nobody I know ever sees them," Omar said. "At least I thought so. Look, I'm sorry and I'll fix it. I'll take all the stories back and change them around."

"So who's Oscar, anyway?" Robert asked. "I want to meet that fucker. He's got to be the hottest guy ever."

"There's no Oscar," Omar said, though he was pretty sure Robert knew better. "You're not Rodrigo and there's no Oscar. They're fictional characters."

"That's too bad. I figured the way you wrote him, he was a real guy. Somebody kind of -- you know, small, with big brown eyes and long eyelashes. What else was it? Full lips, a talented tongue, nimble fingers, and a tendency to wear skater clothes. Right, and curly hair."

Omar suffered through the list.

"I told you, it's just description. That's not me. Rodrigo's not you --"

"And you're not into me."

"No," Omar whispered.

"You got a boyfriend?"

Omar considered saying yes, but he thought he would have a hard time fleshing out the lie in a way that wouldn't trap him somewhere along the line. "No," he said.

"Who did you used to go with?"


"Nobody? You just fucked around, then?"

Omar shook his head. "Never done it."

Robert's eyes widened. "You got a good imagination, dude."

"And I read a lot. The bell's gonna ring. Can I have my book back? Or you going to read it over the fucking intercom or something?"

Robert looked at the unmarked cover of the notebook again as if he had forgotten he was holding it. "Woah," he said. "I'd never have picked you for the pornographer. You still don't look like it. If I didn't have the evidence, I'd never believe you had a sexy thought."

"My notebook?"

"Yeah, dude, anything you want," Robert said, handing over the notebook and the scrap of paper just as the first warning rang.

Omar sniffed and shoved the notebook into his backpack and the scrap into his back pocket.

"What? Aren't you coming?" Robert asked, only a couple feet away.

"I'll go. Don't wait for me," Omar said.

"It's all the way down on lower campus. You better come or you'll be late. "

They were in the same class: the class where Omar studied Robert and took secret notes for his stories. Omar didn't want to go today. He didn't want to go anywhere ever again.

"You afraid I'm going to say something?" Robert asked. "Cause I'm not.":

"Okay. Just go."

"All right," Robert said with irritation, and left. Omar stared out the window for a long moment before he followed.