A/N: So, I'm pretty sure this is the first time I'm doing an author's note on here. Anyway, I would like to explain that this chapter explains how Peter and Charles met. This story will have alternating time periods. I hope that doesn't turn anyone off of this story and that it doesn't confuse anyone. I'm currently working on chapter three, but I have no idea when it will be finished. I'm having a bit of writer's block with this particular story. On another note, I'm also working on a new story! Still piecing the first chapter of it together, though and developing some characters. May not be finished for a while. Anyway, please enjoy this chapter and leave a review! :)
2014 October 13
"Hey Chuck!" Drew yelled. Charles cringed but turned around anyway. Drew Corbin sped across the quad to the awaiting boy. Drew heaved and bent in half trying to catch his breath. Finally, he stood up. "Hey Chuck," he repeated. Charles scowled.
"You know I hate that nickname, Drew." Charles said. Drew blushed.
"Sorry Charles." Drew apologized, lacing his arm through Charles'. The couple walked across the quad, chatting with each other about their majors and the party Drew's fraternity was throwing that weekend when Charles saw him. It was love at first sight for Charles. He was of a slight build but you could tell he worked out. He was only about five feet, eight inches with dark brown hair, sparkling blue eyes beautiful, pink, soft lips. At least they looked soft. I wonder if they are…"Charles? Charles, are you listening to me?" Charles snapped back to reality, feeling sheepish.
"I'm sorry Drew, what did you say?" Drew rolled his eyes, swatting Charles' arm playfully.
"I said that Professor Bourbon invited me to the Engineers of the Future Banquet next week. I was wondering if you'd be my date?"
"What day is it?"
"It's next Thursday at seven." Drew said, a smile creeping across his face. Charles normally would have said yes.
"I can't Drew. I'm sorry. Professor Greene is hosting a Journalism Internship and Job Fair next Thursday. Normally I would have a choice, but seeing as I graduate in May, she's made it mandatory for me and other seniors to attend. I'm really sorry Drew." Charles unlaced their arms and wrapped one around Drew's shoulders, giving him a half hug. Drew sighed, a frown taking over his face as he slid out from under Charles' grip.
"It's fine Charles. Look, I have to go. I'll call you later, ok?" Charles nodded and watched Drew walk into the distance. He felt bad, but he couldn't go with Drew, not after seeing that other man. He had to find him and get to know him.
2014 October 19
Charles made a mad dash to Brewster Hall. He was late to the fair and was pretty sure that his professor would kill him. He made it to Brewster at 7:26. He hadn't meant to be late, but he hadn't slept well last night because of his breakup with Drew, so he'd fallen asleep around four doing his LGBTs in the Mass Media homework. Next thing he knew, he'd woken up at 6:52. He scrambled around his room, grabbing his planned outfit and some towels and headed to the bathroom to take a quick shower. He dressed and was out the door by 7:21, sprinting. He breathed deeply before entering Brewster and he was nothing short of amazed. There were tables set up all around with different stations and newspapers with a few people at each table. He recognized a few, like Jerry Simon, anchorman for BY2K and Claudia Eirhardt, lead journalist for The Daily Times. He smiled as he walked inside, ready to talk with Jerry Simon when one of the waiters approached him. "Would you like a drink, sir?" Charles smiled.
"Thank you, I – YOU!" He declared. The waiter stared at him, clearly confused. Charles blushed. "I'm sorry," he whispered. The waiter smiled at him.
"It's ok. Hi, I'm Peter Gordon," he introduced himself, sticking his hand out. Charles took it, shaking it gently, noting how his hands were slightly calloused.
"I'm Charles, Charles Rathers. Nice to meet you." Peter laughed.
"Nice to meet you, too. Your name fits your major." Charles eyed him.
"What do you mean? What major do you think I am?" Peter laughed again and Charles found it intoxicating. He never wanted to stop hearing that laugh.
"I mean that you have a news-worthy name and since you're here and not dressed as a penguin, like myself, I assume you're a Journalism and Mass Communications major," Peter mused. Charles smiled, now laughing himself, sending butterflies through Peter's stomach.
"Thank you, and I am. What's your major?"
"I'm an Art major, with a double minor in Music and History." Charles stared at him, impressed. "What?" Peter asked.
"Aren't we an overachiever?" Charles teased. Peter laughed, shifting the tray onto his right hand. "Here, let me take that," Charles offered, but Peter stuck his free hand up.
"No, no, this is my job. You're a guest. And I'm hardly an overachiever."
"And modest, too." Charles said sincerely. Peter smiled and Charles decided to take a chance. "Peter, when does your shift end?"
"What time is it?" Charles checked his watch.
"It's…oh my god!"
"What, what is it?" Peter asked, alarm on his face.
"The fair, it's almost over! It's already eight thirty-two and I've visited no tables!" Panic spread across Charles' face. Peter smiled.
"Well, I get off at nine, when the fair's over. Why don't you go mingle with the others and I'll meet you outside at nine ten?" Charles smiled.
"Absolutely." Peter turned to go but was stopped by a hand on his arm. "Hey Peter?"
"You're…really hot." Peter blushed.
"Why thank you. You're not so bad yourself," Peter flirted, winking, before he walked off. Charles' stomach did flips as he walked over the BY2K table.
9:10 couldn't come soon enough for Peter. Through the rest of the night, he kept stealing glances at Charles. Sometimes Charles would see him and smirk, making Peter blush and stumble around the room as he served others. He really hated this job, he decided, not that he had a choice seeing as he had to find a way to pay for college. His parents disowned him after he told them he was gay. Then, he had to Register with the Board of Identification and once he did that, governmental aid was out of the question. So there he was, taking any old job he could get so he could pay for his higher education at this private, liberal university in the middle of Rhode Island. He had to go to Ophelia Sumner University, though. It was privately owned and funded, founded by Hiram McGregor, the proud grandson of world-renown lesbian poet Ophelia Sumner, in 1926. It was also able to be a liberal college because it was privately owned and funded. Peter needed liberal because all governmentally owned and funded universities were sickeningly conservative, racist, sexist, anti-gay, anti-Semitic and everything else that was the Third Reich. So, there Peter was, serving drinks at a fair, getting paid merely $7.50 an hour plus any tips he made. He smiled as the woman in charge of the fair walked up to the podium. She cleared her throat before she began to speak.
"Hello! I would like to thank you all for attending the Journalism Internship and Job Fair. I thank our sponsors, attendants and Pablo's Catering for coming and servicing. Please, everyone, have a good night." Applause filled the room and Peter ran out, anxious to change and meet up with Charles.
"You're late," Charles teased. Peter gave him a look, quickly softening it.
"It's only nine eleven and I had to help clean up a bit."
"A likely story." Charles smirked, wrapping an arm around Peter's waist. Peter smiled, leaning into Charles' touch. "So, where to, Peter?" Peter thought for a moment, coming up blank.
"I don't know. I mean, I haven't eaten yet, so perhaps dinner?" Charles smiled, hugging Peter closer to him.
"Dinner sounds great."
They arrived at the closest Newport Creamery in about ten minutes. After he parked the car, Charles got out and went to Peter's side. He opened the door for him and Peter's face lit up. "Why thank you, Charles." He took Charles' offered hand.
"You're most welcomed, Peter." Charles replied, pulling him gently out of the car and into an embrace. Peter blushed, struggling for something to say. He finally said the first thing that came to mind as they were seated at a table.
"You certainly know your way around Rhode Island." Peter mentally slapped himself for such a stupid line. Charles simply laughed, making Peter relax.
"I should. I was born and raised here."
"What a treat! It's so beautiful here!" Peter exclaimed, eyes full of wonder and was that…innocence? Charles cleared his perving thoughts as he answered.
"Not really. It's too small and I'm so anxious to leave! I want –"
"Hi, my name is James and I'll be your waiter this evening. May I take your order?" Peter blushed.
"I'm sorry, James. I've yet to look at the menu." James shrugged, a smile creeping across his face.
"Eh, it's cool. You two are the only ones here. Take your time," James said, walking back towards the kitchen to chat with Ernie, the cook. Peter turned his attention back to Charles.
"What um…what do you recommend?" Peter asked. Charles laughed.
"Well, what do you usually eat?" Peter thought for a moment.
"I eat a strict vegetarian, health food only diet. But I could cheat tonight."
"How much cheating are we talking here?" Charles teased.
"Grease but no meat."
"In that case, get the grilled cheese. It's really good." Peter smiled.
"Ok. Grilled cheese it is. What are you getting?"
"Cheeseburger. They're really good here," Charles mused, perusing the menu. A few moments later, their waiter returned.
"Hey. So, you guys ready to order or…"
"We're ready," Charles answered, smiling at Peter. He blushed, James smiled.
"Awesome. So, what'll it be?"
"I'll have a coke and a cheeseburger done the creamer way."
"Alright. For you?" James asked, turning to Peter.
"I'll have a diet coke and a grilled cheese, please."
"Certainly. I'll be right back with your drinks and your food will be out soon. Also, I, uh, I hope I'm not being presumptuous here, but you two make a nice couple," James said, a smile on his face. Charles smiled and thanked him. James nodded his head and went back to the kitchen to grab the drinks. He brought them back a moment later and again retreated to the kitchen. Charles then addressed Peter, who was white as a ghost.
"Are you ok Peter?" Peter brought his gaze up to meet Charles' gaze. Peter's eyes were wide with fear. Charles was immediately concerned and felt very protective. "What's wrong Peter?"
"Y-you don't th-think he'll report us, d-do you?" Charles smiled and reached across the table to grab Peter's hand. He began rubbing it comfortingly with his thumb.
"Of course not. On good thing about RI is that people here are pretty liberal and accepting. You have nothing to worry about here." Charles comforted. Peter breathed, color coming back to his face.
"I'm sorry. Where I come from, people and couples like us are frequently reported and taken away."
"Where are you from?" Peter sighed, frowning.
"A very German neighborhood in New York. When I came out to my parents, they disowned me. That's why I was working tonight. I need the money because my parents don't help me and as a Registered, neither does the government." Charles let go of Peter's hand. He got up from his side of the booth and went and joined Peter. He wrapped his arm around his shoulders, bringing his head to his chest.
"I had no idea," Charles said, rubbing Peter's back. "Why didn't you tell me earlier?" Peter laughed.
"It's not exactly happy or first date material. I don't usually tell anyone, anyway. It's personal, you know?" Charles nodded. He was about to say something when their food arrived. James placed it on the table, then noticed that Charles had moved. He looked at the scene before him and became instantly worried.
"Is everything ok?" Charles looked up.
"Yeah, everything's fine. Rough night is all." James sighed.
"I know what you mean. Is he ok?" James asked, nodding towards Peter. Peter looked up and gave a half-hearted smile.
"Fine. Just…familial issues."
"I know what that's like! Is it because you're gay?"
"Yes, it is. And how do you know what it's like? Are you gay?" James sighed.
"No, I'm not. But my Great Aunt Iris is a lesbian. She's been with Great Aunt Mary-Catherine for I don't know how long. My oldest cousin, Brody is gay as well. He doesn't have a boyfriend but he does have his eye on this guy who, I must admit, is pretty cute. Most of my family shuns them, but I love them. Great Aunt Iris has the funniest and slightly dirty stories I've ever heard and I always watch the football games with Brody and he helps me pick out clothes for my dates. The only difference between me and them is that they like the same sex. I just don't see the big deal, y'know? It's still love. Why are you guys staring at me?" It was true. The couple was staring at James wide-eyed with fascination. Charles was the first to utter a reply.
"It's just that…neither of us has ever met someone so truly comfortable with gays and lesbians, that's all." Peter eagerly nodded his head in agreement. James sighed.
"I understand. It's a shame, though. You're all just the same as everyone else. I hope to change the laws someday. I'm a Political Science and History double major at Brown University. My goal is to change this twisted world someday," James finished thoughtfully, staring determinedly into space.
"That's a beautiful dream, James, but a dream nonetheless," Peter said, sitting up and looking at him. James sighed, his disappointment evident.
"I know. But one day, things will be better. I know it. Anyway, I'll leave you two to your meal. Enjoy!" James smiled as he got up and went back to the kitchen to join Ernie. Peter pulled his plate forward and started nibbling on his grilled cheese. Charles followed suit. Beforehand, Charles would've suggested they share a sundae, but the mood had changed from light and playfully to serious and heavy. So, instead, he suggested they go over the nearby park for a late-night walk. Peter smiled lightly.
"Sounds great." Charles beamed, pulling out his wallet.
"Excellent." He pulled out two twenties and a five dollar bill but Peter stopped him.
"Let's go Dutch," he suggested.
"Certainly not my good sir! You need cash for college!" Peter stared at him indignantly.
"I'm perfectly capable of paying for myself, thank you." Charles smiled, placing his hand over his.
"I know you are. I didn't mean to insult. I just find it gentlemanly to pay on the first date."
"I could pay for the two of us, too, you know."
"I know. Would you like to go Dutch, Peter?" Peter thought for a moment before a smile crept over his face.
"No, no. you can pay. I wouldn't want you to feel ungentlemanly." Charles' grinned, placing the bill and tip money on the table. James came over to collect the bill but stopped when he saw his tip.
"Woah, dude, tip's too much." Charles laughed as he slid out of the booth, closely followed by Peter.
"I know. Keep it. Brown's expensive." Charles said, grabbing Peter's hand as they left. James stared after them dumbfounded.
"THANKS!" He called out. He pocketed his tip and put the rest of the cash in the register.
They strolled through the park for a while, discussing their majors, families and any other topics that came naturally. They laughed, argued and generally just got along. In fact, before they knew it, it was 12:30 in the morning.
"Oh my god! Charles, we should get back to campus!" Peter said frantically. Charles laughed, grabbing his hand to lead him back to his car. They were back on campus fifteen minutes later. Charles walked Peter back to his dorm building. "Well..."
"This was fun," Charles said, squeezing Peter's hand. Peter smiled.
"Yes, it was. Thank you Charles."
"Thank you, Peter. And you're welcome."
"You're welcome too, Charles."
"May I…kiss you?" Peter smiled, bringing Charles closer to him until his lips were to his ear.
"Yes," he whispered. He brought his head back so their lips could meet.