Summary: Meet Bryan Cole. He's shipped from his beloved forest town in Oregon nearly halfway across the country to attend a boarding school. There, he meets a rag-tag group of friends, not to mention his new roommate who's hotter than a pancake in a toaster. But, Bryan runs into some problems when as he quickly finds out his roommate, Matt, is not a social person....or nice...or talkative...

What's Bryan to do?


Chapter 1

I stared at Matt across from me on his bed.

"Stop staring," he muttered, turning the page in his book.

"But I'm BORED," I whined, dangling my head off the side of my bed.

"Then go out and get laid."

"But YOU'RE here. I can't bring someone back when you're here."

Matt sighed, finally glancing up from his book to fix me with a droll stare. "I can leave."

No, you douche-bag. I want you to stay here! Don't leave me, you beautiful, infuriating man!

But, instead of uttering my thoughts, I simply said, "Nah, I'll just go out and do...SOMETHING."

"Have fun," Matt muttered distractedly as I stood and headed for the door door.

I glanced back at him, wishing he would just look at me and ask me to stay. Let me pull his body to mine and fucking kiss him breathless.

But, no. He simply turned another page of his book and continued reading.

I sighed quietly, then opened the door and left, controlling myself from just slamming it in frustration.

Matt and I have been roommates at Westridge Boarding Academy for about two months now. I came here from a little town in Oregon to finish out the rest of high school. My parents hit it big when my mom wrote a book that turned out to be a best-seller, and then she turned it into a big series and made a lot of money out of it, so they decided they'd send me away to a prestigious boarding school.

Yay. Lucky me.

Then again, it did give me a chance to meet Matt...

Matt Rodrick. I couldn't stop the sigh that escape my lips as I thought of him. Whether it was from lust or frustration, I had no idea.

We had first met a few days after I'd arrived at the school and moved into the dorm. I'd gotten here a little early, so I was all unpacked and settled in by the time Matt came.

He'd knocked, then entered at my yell, apparently already informed I was here. His eyes had quickly scanned the room, then settled on me, cold and unemotional.

"Are you Bryan Cole?" he'd asked, standing in the doorway.

"Yep," I said, nodding my head. Dusting my hands, I walked over to him and held out my hand, shaking his. "Nice to meat you...?"

"Matt. Matt Rodrick," Matt supplied.

"Well, welcome to my--er, well, now it's our -- humble abode," I said, holding out my arms and smiling widely.

"Uh-huh," Matt said, giving me a wary look.

Pulling his suitcase in after him, he'd finally shut the door, then began to silently unpack, ignoring my scrutiny as I flopped onto the bed and watched him.

I couldn't help but stare. I mean, he was hot, I have to admit. Back in my home town, all the guys had been either straight, taken, or not my type. I'd had to go to the larger cities nearby to get a decent fuck-mate.

Seemed like this guy was straight as a light post, though.

He'd still be good eye candy.

Or so I'd thought.

Turns out, he was a cold little bastard.

But, as the weeks had gone by, I'd discovered that, beneath Matt's cold exterior, he'd had a sharp sense of humor and a wicked mind. I'd loved exchanging the occasional banter with him when he was in the mood, and even found his bi-polar mood swings endearing.

But...He kept me at a distance. I hardly new a thing about him. And it was driving me crazy. Sometimes, he would do something that pissed me off, and I couldn't help but be annoyed and angry with him.

But, no, I could never outright hate him.

He was blond, green eyed beauty with a pixie face, a poisonous tongue and a reserved attitude. And I'd fallen in lust with him. But, of course, he was straight. So I'd had to settle with simple hook-ups around town.

I never brought my conquests home, though. I figured it'd make things weird between us if Matt knew the guy he was rooming with was gay. He just thinks I'm a man-whore who sleeps around with girls. Dramatic shudder.

I ran from our dorm house (infamously nick-named Monster House. For some reason, it was the only dorm house not connected to the main school) and out into the cold air. Rubbing my arms, I jogged to the main building in the center of the academy, my breath fogging in a little puff with every exhale.

I entered the large cafeteria, looking around for a familiar face. I spotted Scotty, a guy who I'd met here on my first day, eating lunch with Sarah, his sister, along with a few other of my friends.

Shoving Scotty to the side, I settled my ass onto the bench next to him, stealing some of his chips.

"Hey!" he whined, pouting.

"What?" I asked innocently, popping the chip into my mouth and grinning.

Narrowing his eyes, Scotty turned away and looked at the other girl at the table, Jolene.

"Did you see what he did?" he asked her.

Jolene nodded, chuckling.

"Oh, hey, Bryan," Jack, the guy sitting across from me, suddenly asked. "We're going to the cinema to see the new shoot-'em-up movie. You coming?"

"Hell, yeah," I said eagerly. "Matt kicked me out of the room," I continued, trying to get some pity. "So I got nothing else to do."

Scotty laughed, slapping me on the back. "Aw, poor Bryan. Kicked out of his room by that snub-nosed bastard roommate of his."

I frowned a bit, feeling miffed. I mean, yeah, Matt's cold to everyone, but that doesn't mean they can call him that.

But, people do. Matt's yet to make any friends at the school beside me, and none of my own friends know why I hang out with him as much as I do. Hell, they don't know how I stand him.

They don't know about the small crush I have on the blond haired boy. Even though he can be a bit of a shit-head.

Anyway, the five of us stood up and left the cafeteria, piling into Jack's car and driving off the campus to the local cinema.

I had to sit there and freeze my ass off the entire time since Jack's car is a crappy piece of shit with no heat, and I didn't think to grab a jacket. So, I wrapped my arms around Sarah and Jolene and pulled them against me, using their body heat for warmth.

"Hey, hey, hey," Scotty said, glancing back at me from the passenger seat. "What the hell are you doing to my sister?"

I felt Sarah stiffen in my arms, giving her brother a glare. Smirking, she adjusted her position and cuddled against me, resting her head on my shoulder and her arms around my waist, one of her legs thrown across my lap.

"He's not doing anything," she said, her tone sweet, but her eyes dangerous.

She hates when Scotty does the whole protective brother thing. So, she often rebels and dates losers, or does something dangerous or stupid just to piss Scotty off.

They have a kind of love-hate relationship.

Scotty huffed, giving me a small glare, before he turned back around and straightened in his seat.

We reached the cinema a few minutes later, bought our tickets, then headed into the blessedly warm lobby. I cheered, then bought some popcorn and a soda, and headed into the theater and grabbed a good seat.

The others quickly joined me, and we settled in to watch the action.


I quietly entered the room, not wanting to wake Matt if he was sleeping.

I spotted him laying on his bed, the lamp turned on beside him and his ever-present book nestled on his chest, but then I realized he was asleep.

Aw, how cute. He feel asleep while reading.

He looked so...so unguarded. Usually, he has a frown or a blank expression on his face, but not now. His face was smooth and almost childlike, and I had to resist the urge to just go over there and kiss him.

Breathing softly, I went over to him and carefully tugged his book out of his hands, sticking his bookmark into the book to mark his spot. Setting the book on his desk, I stretched, then stripped to my boxers and was about to hop into bed when I paused.

Sighing, I grabbed a blanket from the closet and carefully covered Matt with it, then shut off his lamp and blindly made my way to my bed. Sliding beneath the covers, I exhaled, letting my body relax as I slowly entered dreamland.

With my back turned to the room, I failed to see the surprisingly alert green eyes watching my form, blinking confusedly.


"What's shakin' bacon?" I asked, plopping into my desk and grinning at a bleary eyed Scotty.

He turned to me, blinked, then said simply, "I hate you."

I gave him a hurt look, my hands over my heart. "Aw, that hurts."

"Fucking morning person," he muttered, dropping his head onto his desk.

I snickered, then turned around and looked at Jack in the desk behind me. "Hey," I whispered quietly, leaning towards him. "You get it yet?"

Jack grinned, then looked around and made sure no one was looking. Reaching into his uniform's inner pocket (the academy requiers us to wear uniforms. They're these okay-looking red jacket thingys, with black pants, a white dress shirt, and a red tie. Jack modified his so it had inner pocket), he pulled out a thin, square package and handed it to me.

With wide eyes and a huge smile, I snatched it from him and quickly stuck it down my shirt as the teacher suddenly walked in.

"Thanks, dude! You're the fucking man," I quickly whispered, then turned back around and faced the front of the room.

Ah, another scintillating class of math.

The day dragged by, but, finally it was lunch. Sliding into my regular table with Scotty, Jack, Jolene and Sarah, I hunched down and quickly extracted the package Jack had given me earlier, making sure no teachers were around.

"Christ, you still have that with you?" Jack asked, spotting it. "Why didn't you drop it off at your room? If a teacher catches you with that, you're fucked."

You see, there was a strict policy at the academy having to do with music that had profanity in it. If you were caught with it, you were sentenced to a week's detention. And, of course, most of my music isn't exactly PG rated.

"Shut up," I hissed, tearing the brown paper off the package. I gave an almost girly squeal as I spotted the logo underneath the paper. "YES!"

Tossing the paper onto the table, I brought the CD case up to my lips and kissed it, my eyes shining.

"Fuck, Jack!" I said. "I still can't believe it! This CD doesn't even come out for two more fucking weeks!"

"Well, that's the advantage of having a brother in the music industry," he said, examining his fingernails smugly. "Now, about my payment..."

I nodded absently, skimming through the little booklet thingy that held all the lyrics for the songs and the band info. "Yeah, don't worry, I got it," I said, waving my hand dismissively.

When Jack cleared his throat and held out his hand, raising his eyebrow, I rolled my eyes.

"It's in my room," I said. "I didn't want to ruin or lose it, so I put it in a safe place."

"Alright," Jack said, standing. "Let's go get it."

I pouted at him. "But I haven't eaten lunch yet."

"Then I guess I'll just hold onto this until I get my payment," Jack said, reaching for the CD.

"No!" I yelled, holding my prize away from him and shooting to my feet. "We'll go get it."

Exiting the cafeteria, we ran to the Monster House and to my dorm room. Bursting into the room, I blinked when I found Matt in there, reading and eating at the same time. He jumped and stared at us with wide eyes, blinking quickly.

"What are you doing here?" he asked, narrowing his eyes back to their cold stare.

"I'm here to get something," I said. "What are you doing here?" I continued childishly.

Matt glanced away, staring determinately down at his book. "I live here. For now, anyway," he added quietly.

Feeling a bit pissed at his attitude (and for that comment), I ignored him and headed towards my closet. Opening it, I dropped to my knees and began digging around, finally finding what I was looking for.

"Alright," I said, standing up and going over to Jack. "Signed, limited edition copy."

Handing him the book, I watched as Jack nodded, then quickly turned and left, leaving me alone with Matt.

Continuing to ignore him, I hopped onto my bed and sat down, examining the CD.

"What's going on?"

I glanced at Matt, giving him an emotionless look, mimicing his usual expression. "What do you mean?"

"Why'd you just give Jack a book?"

"None of your fucking business," I growled, still pissed at him.

He narrowed his eyes, then gave a huff and went back to his book.

Sighing, I ran my hand through my hair, my anger gone just as sudden as it had arrived.

"Jack got me a CD," I explained. "So I paid him back with a signed book my mom wrote."

Matt was silent, so I rolled my eyes and got up off the bed and left, giving in to the urge to slam the door after me.

The rest of the day passed without much incident. Not wanting to go back to the dorm and the depressing Matt, I stole Scotty's coat and went for a walk around campus.

The evening was freezing, and it was beginning to get dark. My breath fogged up in front of me as I walked, and I stared up at the stars lighting the darkening sky.

I looked around me as I walked, feeling homesick.

Skinny, sickly trees dotted the campus, and the grass was dead and brown. Of course, I could understand that, since it's winter, but...but, when I had first arrived and it had still been warm, everything was still...dead looking.

You could see for miles around, and lights from the city were easily visible. I missed the rolling hills of Oregon, and just the silence of the outdoors. If you found the right place, you could sit and not hear any cars, or people, or human sounds for miles around. All you could hear was the rustling of birds, the calls of insects, and the cries of predators.

But, the thing I missed most?

The trees, believe it or not.

Yes, go ahead. Call me a tree-hugger.

But, God, the forests had been amazing. You could wander around for miles, and not see another soul. I'd always take my GPS so I could find my way home, and walked aimlessly for hours.

Everything was just so green. I used to love to go out and spy on deer or the occasional mountain lion, if I was lucky to spot one. Playing in the cool waters of the creek near my house had been one of my favorite things to do, too.

Most of the kids here at the academy are rich city kids. All my friends -- Jake, Scotty, Jolene, and Sarah -- none of them understand what it's like to live in the forests. The sounds, smells, and the people are just so different.

But, thankfully winter break was coming up, and I'd be able to go home for a week. God, I hope it snows.

That's another thing I missed. The snow. White, fluffy, deep snow. Skiing, snowboarding, making snow men.

Sighing, I shook my head, feeling shitty. I began heading back to the dorms, feeling my steps become heavier as I got closer.

Dammit, Matt and I didn't exactly part on the best of terms. And it's too early for him to be asleep. Shaking myself, I steeled myself against the inevitable, then opened the door and stepped into the room.

He was in practically the same position as he'd been before, a book propped up on his chest as he laid on his back reading. He didn't even glance up as I entered, so I just went over to my bed and flopped down on it.

Staring up at the ceiling, I thought about what I could do tomorrow. It was Saturday, so I'd have a day off, but Scotty, Jack and Sarah were busy, and I didn't want to hang out with just Jolene. She's got a massive crush on Scotty, and tends to be a little down whenever he's not around.

I glanced over at Matt, grimacing. Well, he's my roommate. Might as well try to get to know him a little better.

"Hey, yo, Matt," I said.

He raised his eyes, looking at me with his piercing green stare. "Yes?"

"You doing anything tomorrow?"

Narrowing his eyes, Matt slowly shook his head.

"Whanna hang out with me?" I asked sweetly.

"No."

I frowned at his quick answer. "Fine," I bit out, rolling onto my side and facing the wall.

I heard Matt sigh, but he didn't say anything, so I simply closed my eyes and made plans for tomorrow.


"Hey."

I blinked, looking over my shoulder. I was currently in the cafeteria by myself, drawing in my sketchbook since nobody else was around. I wasn't really expecting anyone to come up to me and start talking, so it was a bit of a surprise when I heard Matt.

But, there he was, in all his blond glory. Matt. He was standing behind me, staring down at the ground, chewing on his lip.

I swung my leg over the bench seat and straddled it, staring at Matt. "Yeah?" I asked, my voice blank.

"Look," he said, sighing and staring back at me. "Is-is the offer still open?"

I blinked, no idea what he was talking about. "Huh?"

He ran his hands through his golden locks, giving me a small glare. "Do you wanna go do something or not?"

It finally clicked as I remember last night. Oh, yeah. I asked him to hang out.

"Uh," I said, feeling like I was in unknown territory. "Sure."

"Okay, then," he said.

"Alright."

It was awkward for a second, so I quickly stood up and closed my sketchbook, tucking it under my arm as I stuck my pencil behind my ear.

"Um, I've got to go back to the dorm, then I guess we could catch the bus and head into town," I said.

Nodding, Matt followed me to the dorm, then grabbed his jacket when I grabbed mine. We walked in silence off campus and to the bus stop, then hopped on and headed the short distance into town.

I decided to head to the mall, so we got off there and began wandering around the huge building.

"So," I said. "Any specific place you wanted to go?"

"Um," Matt said, looking around. "The, uh, bookstore?"

I blinked, then couldn't help but grin. Of course he'd want to go to a bookstore.

"Alright," I said, chuckling. "Let's go."

Walking to the store, I watched Matt as his eyes lit up when they landed on all the books. Grinning, he quickly headed to the book shelves and began browsing through the books. I began looking around myself, heading to the action section.

To my surprise, I actually found a couple books that sounded pretty good. I ended up buying two, while Matt got (get this) six books.

"Holy fuck," I said when I saw him lugging all the books around. "Are you gonna even have time to read all those?"

Matt gave me a small grin, making something in my head go 'snap-crackle-pop.' And, no, I ain't talking about the cereal I had for breakfast.

"I read fast," he said simply.

Heading to the checkout, we quickly bought our books and left the store.

"Well," I said, feeling my stomach grumble. "I'm hungry. How 'bout you?"

Matt nodded, so we headed to the food court and bought an early dinner. I was surprised when Matt suddenly started talking to me, telling me about the books I'd bought. Apparently, he'd already read them.

"Damn," I muttered when Matt stopped to take a breath. "Do you memorize every book you read?"

Matt's ears turned read, and he stared down at the table. "Not-not memorize. I-I just remember the basic plots."

I grinned, chuckling. "Cool."

Matt glanced up at me, giving me a cautious look. "Really? You don't find that, er, nerdy?"

"Well, yeah," I said, blinking at him. When I saw his eyes narrow, I quickly added, "But I find it cool, too. I mean, do you know how easier school would be if I could remember everything I read?"

Matt nibbled on a french fry, staring back down at the table. "Mm," he hummed quietly.

We ate the rest of our food in a more companionable silence, and I was thankful it wasn't as awkward as before. Once we finished, we began wandering around the mall some more, no real destination in mind.

I liked going into all the stores with little bobbles and toys in them. We went into fuego, and I ended up buying a button that said, 'If I were a sandwich from McDonald's, I'd be the McFuckit!' I loved it. I proudly pinned it to my jeans, grinning.

After that, I dragged Matt to a Hot Topic I spotted and bought a few CDs and a cool new scarf. When I noticed Matt was a little uncomfortable in the store around all the goths and punks, though, I didn't linger.

"So," I said as we plopped onto a bench to rest our tired feet. "What now?"

Matt rubbed his hands, trying to massage the pain of holding all his heavy bags away. "Well," he said, glancing at me. "Uh...I don't know. Head back to the dorms?"

I frowned, pursing my lips. "Mm, how about...no."

"Oh?" Matt asked, raising his eyebrow and giving me a droll look. "Then what do you propose we do?"

I glanced at my watch, checking the time. "Curfew's in an hour," I said calmly.

"What?!" Matt sat up, looking at me with wide eyes. "We-we should get back, then."

"Nah," I said, shaking my head and waving my hand dismissively. "I know a way to sneak back in."

Matt grimaced. "Yeah, I know."

I looked at him with raised eyebrows, my lips twitching. "Oh?"

He blinked, then glanced away. "I hear you come in sometimes in the middle of the night, way past curfew."

I chuckled, smirking. "Yep. I'm a sneaky little bastard. I've yet to be caught. And, that's why you and I are gonna have a little fun tonight, then sneak back into our dorm without getting caught."

Matt looked back at me, giving me a wary look. "What kind of fun?"

"There's gonna be a bonfire down at Farrow Lake. We're going."

"But, what are we gonna do with our stuff?" Matt asked, indicated our bags.

"I'll take care of it," I said, winking.

Pulling out my phone, I ran through my list of contacts until I found the right one. Hitting Send, I listened to the ring tone as I waited.

"Heeello?"

"Lonnie!" I shouted happily. "My man!"

"Oh, shit," the guy on the other end said, sighing. "What do you want, Bryan?"

"I need to borrow your truck for a bit."

Lonnie growled lightly. "In exchange for what?"

"Uh...tickets for the basketball game next weekend?"

"Oh?" Lonnie said, his voice perking. "Courtside?"

I winced, grimacing at how much those'd cost. "Then I want the truck for tomorrow, too."

Lonnie paused for a second, thinking. "Alright, deal."

"Good. Bring the truck to the mall, I'll wait for you in front of Sears."

Hanging up, I led Matt to Sears, and we waited inside the doors for our ride. It was dark outside by now, but the sky looked clear, so it was the perfect night for a bonfire.

I finally spotted a big, red Ford pick-up drive up a few minutes later. Exiting the store, I hopped into the passenger seat while Matt got in the back seat.

"Hey, Lonnie," I said, patting the twenty-something man on the shoulder. "Good to see ya."

"Yeah, whatever," he said, peeling out of the parking lot.

We drove back to Lonnie's house, then dropped him off. I hopped into the driver's seat while Matt got into the passenger seat. Driving off, it was a few minutes before Matt spoke.

"Who was that guy? He's not someone from school."

I glanced at Matt, grinning. "He's a cousin of mine. One of the reason's my parents sent me to this academy was 'cause it's close to family."

Matt hummed, nodding his head.

We soon reached the lake, and I parked next to a bunch of other cars. We left our stuff in the locked truck as we headed towards the large bonfire on the side of the lake.

"Wow," Matt said beside me, his eyes wide, the firelight dancing in them. I resisted the sudden urge to lean over and capture his full, parted lips, and instead stared forward.

"Yep," I agreed with his amazement.

The fire rose nearly thirty feet in the air, and you could hear the roaring crackle and pop from far away. The heat instantly turned up the surrounding area's temperature a few degrees, and I was feeling warm by the time we reached the group of people spread out around the fire.

I nodded to a few people I recognized, then snatched a couple soda cans from an open cooler as I led Matt over to a log. Plopping onto it, I opened the soda and took a big gulp, feeling Matt sit down beside me and take a small sip of his drink.

"I've never been to a bonfire before," he suddenly said.

"You know, there's an old legend about bonfires back in my hometown," I murmured quietly, my voice low. "They say that if you write your wishes on a piece of paper and throw them into the fire, they'll come true. And, oppositely, if you write down your mistakes and burn them, they'll be forgiven."

Matt was quiet a second, and I felt his gaze on me, but I continued to stare into the fire, the flames somewhat hypnotizing.

"Have you ever done that?" he finally asked.

"Many times," I said ruefully, taking another drink.

"Does it work?"

I finally slid my eyes over to Matt, locking gazes with him. His green eyes were wide and unblinking, and I had the sudden uncomfortable feeling they were staring into my soul.

Breaking the eye contact, I hunched my shoulders and stared at the ground, frowning. "Sometimes," I said.

Silence descended upon us again, and I listened to a nearby radio as someone cranked up the volume and some sort of hip-hop song began to play. Glancing around me, I watched as people began to dance or run around, chasing each other, and just all together having fun.

Screams and laughter filled the nights, along with the sounds of the fire. My face was starting to warm up from the heat, so I turned around on the bench and faced the other way, letting the heat warm up my back.

"Do you have a something to write with?"

I gave Matt a long look, then reached into my jacket pockets and began searching around. I came up with a stubby pencil and a receipt. Handing them to him, I watched as he hunched over and placed the paper on his knee, then began writing something on it.

Figuring it was private, I resisted the urge to read over his shoulder and instead stared out at the calm lake. Hearing a crinkle, I glanced back at Matt and watched as he folded up the paper and stood.

Not able to turn my head all the way backwards because of my thick jacket, I straddled the log and kept my eyes on Matt as he got as close as he could to the fire. Taking a deep breath, he balled up the piece of paper, then tossed it into the flames, the small white mass instantly disappearing.

After standing still for a few moments, Matt took a step back, then turned and headed back to the log. He straddled the log and faced me, mirroring my position.

"Wish or mistake?" I asked quietly.

"Mmm, a little bit of both."

I nodded, then leaned back and tilted my head up, staring at the sky.

"You're different," Matt suddenly said contemplatively.

I blinked, looking at him in confusion. "Huh?"

"You're different than the other kids at school. You-you don't act like a rich snob," he said, staring down at the log.

I stared at him, then felt my lips twitch. "Neither do you."

Matt finally glanced at me, his eyes suddenly losing their guarded look. It made him look innocent, and the firelight seemed to just enhance his vulnerable expression as it flickered over the side of his face.

"Well," he said hesitantly. "That's because I'm not one of them."

"How so?"

"Everyone here has a rich family, so they've got money backing them. I don't. I got into the academy on a scholarship. Right now, what we spent today; that was my allowance for the month. I'm broke," he said with a bitter laugh.

"So that's why you're constantly studying," I said, nodding my head. Well, that solves that mystery.

"Yep. Gotta keep my grades up or I'll lose my scholarship and get kicked out."

I tilted my head, squinting at him. "Is that why you don't hang out with the other kids from school? You think they're all rich snobs?"

"Yeah."

"Is that what you think of me?" I asked quietly.

Matt blinked, then shook his head. "No. Remember? I said you're different from them."

"You know, not all the kids who go to the school are rich snobs," I said. "Take my friends for instance. I couldn't stand them if they were stuck up and flaunted their money around. You know Jack? He bought his own car. Said he didn't want to depend on his parent's money for everything. Scotty and Sarah have jobs over the summer to make their money, and Jolene...well, she's not a snob."

Matt looked at me for a while, then went back to examining the log. "I-I--..."

After a second's hesitation, I reached out and gave his shoulder a quick, reassuring squeeze. "Not everyone is who you think they are. Snap judgments and stereotypes aren't always correct."

Matt slowly looked up at me, then gave a little nod. "I-I'm glad we hung out today," he whispered.

I grinned at him. "Me, too. You know, I was starting to worry we'd never get along. It would suck to have a roommate who hates you."

"I never hated you."

"Hmm," I said, tilting my head. "I guess hate is a pretty strong word."

"Why don't we start over?" Matt suddenly asked, sitting up straight.

"Start over?"

"Yeah. Start over."

I watched as he stuck his hand out towards me. Warily, I grasped it, then felt my lips twitch when he shook my hand.

"I'm Matt Rodrick. I'm your new roommate. Nice to meet you," he said.

Grinning, I said, "I'm Bryan Cole, -not- a rich snob. Nice to meet you, too."

We both burst into laughter, and I couldn't help but notice Matt's soft hand was still in mine. But, when his laughter subsided, he let go, then stood up and stretched, his crotch level with my face.

I resisted the compulsion to grab his hips and bring my face to the front of his jeans, grab his zipper in my mouth, tug it down, and just go to town on him. Instead, I quickly followed his action and stood up.

"Ready to head back now?" I asked as he suddenly yawned.

"Mmm, yeah," he said, nodding.

We headed back to the truck in silence, then hopped in and began the journey home. I glanced over when we were nearly at the academy and looked at Matt in surprise. He was asleep, his face pressed against the window and his body leaning against the door. The window clouded up with his soft breaths, and his eyes twitched beneath his eyelids as he dreamed.

I stared ahead at the road as I drove, my fingers tightening on the steering wheel, turning my knuckles white.

Ugh, dammit. This-this feeling I was having...no, all these feelings I was having were so-so different than what I usually feel. I mean, I'm one of those fuck-'em-and-leave-'em guys. I've never had a relationship that lasted over three days.

And then along came Matt.

I-I want to get to know him. All his little quirks, his likes and dislikes, his hobbies and his favorite things to do. I wanna joke with him, tease him, watch his face turn red with embarrassment. Have meaningful conversations with him.

I wanna take him home to meet my family.

Fuck! I barely even knew him!

But...he's just so...so...I don't know. I feel drawn to him. Like a moth to a flame. Like an addict to meth. Like gravity to earth.

It's messed up. My world is messed up.

Sighing, I shook my head, exhausted.

I parked the truck in a nearby fast-food restaurant's parking lot, then turned off the vehicle and ran my fingers through my hair. Turning to Matt, I stared at him for a second, then gave in to the urge to brush a stray bit of hair away from his face.

I saw him twitch in his sleep, but he didn't wake up. Carefully, watching him closely, I leaned towards him and stopped my lips a hairsbreadth away from his face. Slowly, I pressed my lips to his cheek, his soft skin like silk.

Pulling back, I exhaled shakily and closed my eyes for a second, then quickly got myself under control. Opening my eyes, I reached out and grasped Matt's shoulder, lightly shaking him awake.

He looked around blearily for a second, then focused on me.

"We're back," I said softly.

Matt sat up and glanced out the truck window. Nodding, he hopped out of the truck, and I followed him. Grabbing our bags from the back of the truck, I locked it up, then stepped back.

"So, how do we sneak back in?" he whispered.

I don't know why, but I whispered back. I guess the prospect of having to be sneaky was getting me into spy mode.

"Follow me," I said, leading the way towards the academy.

They had a Barney Fife-type security guard watching the entrance every night to catch kids past curfew, but I'd managed to find a way around him. Heading silently along the red brick fence surrounding the campus, I kept my eye out for the thing I was looking for.

"There!" I said, pointing to a patch of vines covering a part of the fence.

"What?" Matt asked, squinting into the dark.

Going up to the vines, I pushed them apart, revealing a small, ornate iron gate.

"Found this a few weeks ago when I'd been wandering along the fence," I said proudly, pushing the gate open.

It gave a small squeak, but opened smoothly nonetheless. I gently pushed Matt through the gate before me, keeping a lookout, before quickly following him. Shutting the gate, I looked out towards the campus, then glanced around.

It was nice and dark outside, so there was little chance of us being spotted. Unthinkingly, I grabbed Matt's free hand unladen with his bags and dragged him after me as I sprinted across the academy courtyard, quietly humming the James Bond theme song. Crossing the square, I nearly crashed into the Monster House front door with all my momentum, but I quickly caught myself.

Opening the door, I snuck in all 007-like, my eyes constantly on the move as I tiptoed upstairs and to the third floor. Unlocking the door, I pushed Matt in after me, finally letting go of his hand, and very gently shut the door.

When no alarms went off, I did a little victory dance, then headed to my bed and dropped my bags on it.

"Alright!" I said, pumping my fist as I flopped onto my bed. "Man, I'm good. I should be a spy when I grow up. Maybe I'll go to England and enroll in MI-6 training or something."

"I don't think that'll happen," Matt said ruefully.

"Hey, I can dream, can't I?" I asked, lifting my head and sparing him a look.

Matt chuckled, the sound musical in the small room. I gulped, letting my head drop back down onto the bed.

"Hey, Bryan," Matt said, his voice soft.

"Yeah?"

"Thanks. For-for letting me hang out with you. Today was...fun."

I suddenly sat up, making him jump. Grinning, I winked at him. "No problem-o. I had quite a bit of fun myself."

He gave me such a radiant smile, I felt my heart thump painfully in response.

Continuing to smile softly, Matt began pulling his new books from the bag and setting them on a little pile he had by the foot of his bed. I watched with narrowed eyes as he began undressing, pulling his jacket off, then kicking off his shoes.

Pausing, he suddenly sniffed his jacket, then chuckled. "I smell like smoke," he said.

Blinking, I smelled my own jacket, detecting the smokey scent. Grinning at him, I nodded. "Haha, I do, too."

Standing, I started undressing, too, turning away from Matt as I did. After all, wouldn't be good if I suddenly pitched a tent while I was watching him strip.

Ehm, anyway.

Shoving all the stuff I bought into my closet for later, I turned off the lights, leaving a single lamp on, and then crawled into my bed. I looked over and saw Matt was already in bed, laying on his side and watching me.

"So," he said. "What are you gonna do for winter holiday?"

"Mmm," I said, closing my eyes and rolling onto my side, mirroring his position and facing him. "I'm gonna go home and spend Christmas with my family. What about you?"

Matt was silent for a moment, so I peeked at him, and discovered his eyes were closed as well.

"I don't know yet," he said quietly. I frowned when I detected a trace of sadness in is voice. I was just about to ask him about it when he quickly said, "Goodnight, Bryan. Thanks, again," and rolled over and faced the opposite direction, his back to me.

I sighed, staring at the back of his blond head. "Night, Matt."

Reaching for the lamp, I flipped the switch, enveloping the room in silent darkness.


I stared at Scotty, then suddenly began belting out, "-I love you, you love me, Barney gave me HIV. It started with a hug, and ended on the floor, I was raped by a dinosaur!-"

"Oh, God, somebody stop him," Scotty moaned, burying his face in his hands.

I grinned at the people nearby who had turned to watch me sing my awesome song, then whipped back around and leaned towards Scotty.

"So, what do you think? Would I make it on American Idol?"

"No," Jack butted in, giving me a horrified look. "You wanna make a fool out of yourself on TV? With millions of people watching?"

"Well, when you put it that way," I said, stroking my chin. "...Yes!"

Jack rolled his eyes, shaking his head. "I think those chemicals have gone to your brain," he said, referring to my awesome new hairdo.

I'd gotten blond highlights in my dark hair, getting the tips frosted red a few inches and leaving my roots brown.

I shook my head, making my multi-colored hair go crazy. "Nuh-uh. No chemicals in my brains!"

Jack snorted, going back to playing a game on his phone.

"You look gay," Scotty suddenly said, squinting at me.

I looked at him. Should I tell them? Well, it was now or never, before too much time passed and they felt like I was keeping a big secret or something. Plus, I heard one of the best way to come out to your friends was to treat it like it was no big deal. It'll feel less awkward.

"I am," I said, grinning manically. Sarah, Jolene, Jack and Scotty all stopped what they were doing to stare at me.

Scotty blinked, looking at me with wide eyes. "What?"

"I'm gay," I chirped, flipping my hair.

I held my breath as I waited for their reactions, looking at each of their expression. They all had a look of surprise, but, thankfully, no disgust.

Sarah was the first to speak up.

She grinned, touching my shoulder and leaning towards me. "Hah! I always suspected!"

I quirked my eyebrow at her. "What gave me away?"

"Well, besides your hair?" she said with a smirk, then continued seriously, "Remember that time we were in Jack's car, and we were heading to the mall?"

I tilted my head. "Eh, vaguely."

"Well, I was throwing hints at you left and right, but you weren't picking up on a single one. I felt a little pissed, at first, 'cause I thought you were ignoring me. But, then I saw you checking out one of the clerks at Macy's. A male clerk. Not to mention, I was rubbing my boobs all over you in the car ride and you didn't even notice."

I saw Scotty's face go red as he glared at his sister. "What the hell?! I thought we agreed! No tramping after friends!"

"Oh, fuck off!" Sarah hissed, glaring at Scotty. "I was just having a little fun! It wasn't like I was actually going to sleep with Bryan!"

"Ouch," I muttered, rubbing my chest and giving Sara a wounded look. "That hurt me on the inside."

"Aw, I'm sorry, baby," she cooed, grabbing my face and kissing me.

I gave her a happy grin, bouncing in my seat a bit.

"I thought you said you were gay," Jack finally spoke. "Why are you so happy Sarah kissed you?"

"Hey, I might be gay, but it's not every day you get kissed by a beautiful woman," I said, winking at Sarah.

"God," Jack scoffed. "Gay or straight, you're still a fucking playboy."

I felt relieved when Jack grinned, giving his sharp words a playful tone.

I suddenly realized there was one voice missing in our little group. Swallowing, I turned to Jolene.

"Hey, Joe," I asked softly. "You okay with this."

I saw her struggle for a bit, but then she sighed, looking at me. "Dammit, Bryan."

"What?" I asked, feeling nervous.

She shook her head, crossing her arms. "Well...I-I'm not really sure how to react. I mean, you're my friend, but...I-I'm Catholic. I was taught to believe that's a sin."

"Do you believe homosexuality is a sin?" I asked calmly, despite my frayed nerves.

Jolene scoffed, shaking her head. "Of course not. That's so outdated. But...I mean, the belief--...Even though I don't believe in it, the thought's still there."

"So, what happens now?" Jack asked after a lengthy silence.

Jolene ran her hand through his hair, tilting her head up. Exhaling loudly, she looked at me with narrowed, determined eyes. "You're my friend, and I'll get over it. It'll take some time, but I will get over it."

I sighed in relief, wrapping my arms around her and giving her a big hug. I felt her stiffen for just a second, but then she relaxed and hugged me back.

After a few seconds, I pulled away, giving her a soft smile. Turning back to the table, I looked each one of my friends in the eye.

"Thanks, you guys, for being so understanding," I said seriously.

I was met with a few, "No problem"s, and "Meh"s, making me grin.

"And, we'll keep this just between us," Jack assured me, killing one of my worries.

I let out an exaggerated breath of relief, wiping my brow. "Phew. There goes that worry, then," I said, grinning.

The rest of lunch passed without incident, along with the school day. Classes were boring as usual, but I didn't really noticed because I was still feeling high from relief. I mean, I was out to my friends, and they'd excepted me! Life couldn't get any better than this.

And then I walked in on a naked Matt, and I nearly exploded.

He yelped, grabbing his towel and covering himself, his skin glistening with water. Stuttering an apology, I quickly backed out of the room and slammed the door, the image of naked Matt burned into my mind.

Oh, sweet Jesus. I know what I'm dreaming about tonight.

I leaned back against the door and rested the back of my head on it, staring up at the ceiling. I swallowed thickly, my mouth dry as pictures of Matt kept flashing through my mind.

Him, naked on the bed, beckoning me forward with a hungry look on his face. Him in the bathtub, his eyes closed, his head tilted back, and his fragile neck bared to me. Him, writhing beneath me, his mouth parted, his chest heaving, and his eyes filled with lust as I pounded into him.

Oh, fuck, now I'm hard.

Grimacing, I headed down the hallway, no destination in mind, just knowing I had to get out of there. I went outside into the freezing cold, simply in my academy uniform. Wandering around a bit, I began filling my mind with some of my favorite screamo and rock songs, trying to drown out Matt and get rid of my little problem.

I ended up going into the main school building and heading up to the second floor library. Flopping onto one of the secluded study desks, I buried my head in my arms and just breathed, trying to calm my racing heart.

I couldn't have been in there for more than fifteen minutes when I heard someone else come in. Figuring it was someone coming in for a late night study session, I kept my head down.

And then I heard the moaning.

Blinking, I slowly and carefully peeked out from behind the divide on the desk, looking around for the source of the noise. With wide eyes, I spotted...ohmygod. No. That-that's impossible. Fuck, no!

There, sitting on the table, his legs wrapped around another guy's waist, was my art teacher, Mr. Hemmel. He was totally eating the other guy's face off, and their mingled moans filled the room as they ground against each other.

I couldn't see the other guy's face, so I leaned over in my chair a little bit more to get a better veiw--

--and then, with a surprise yelp, the chair tipped over and sent me crashing to the floor.

The two men broke apart, their heads swiveling in search of the noise. Staying low on the floor, I began army crawling towards a nearby bookshelf, hoping I could get there before I was spotted, but, alas, no luck.

"Cole!"

I froze, swallowing. Turning my head, I looked at Mr. Hemmel, who had a horrified expression on his face.

"Ehe...uh...I-I saw nothing," I quickly said.

When he remained silent, I resumed my army crawl, hoping I could just get the fuck out of here and forget this ever happened.

"Bryan," Mr. Hemmel said in a tired voice. "Come here, please."

I sighed, letting my forehead connect with the floor for a second before I stood, slowly walking towards the two awkward men. Looking at the other guy, I realized he didn't go to this school, but he looked vaguely familiar. Maybe I saw him around town or something.

I looked at Mr. Hemmel, trying to figure him out. I mean, I had no idea he had been gay. I thought I was supposed to have good gaydar or something?

At five foot eleven, Mr. Hemmel wasn't exactly small, and he had a well built frame. He looked like a business men, actually. Stick him in a suit, and he could be just an average Joe realtor, or salesman, or stock broker or just something. He was a pretty cool guy, actually.

Sometimes, he would randomly bring in a bowl of candy to art class, tell us to take some, and draw a picture inspired by the candy. We were allowed to listen to our Ipods when he wasn't talking, and you actually had to try to fail his class, it was so easy. He was one of those well-liked teachers.

That's why I never would have expected him to do the dirty in the freakin' library.

"So, uh," I said when I reached him. "Good, er, evening."

Mr. H. sighed, running his hand through his hair. "Bryan..."

"You don't have to worry about me ratting you out," I said quietly, shifting my stance, trying hard not to bolt from the awkwardness.

Mr. H. was silent for a moment as he stared at me. I squirmed beneath his gaze, wishing he would look away.

"I-I appreciate that," he finally said.

Nodding my head, I waited for a second, but when he didn't say anything to stop me, I quickly turned and bolted. By the time I reached outside, I was flat out running.

I mean, if it had been two students in there making out, I could handle it. You know, I could have stood up, dusted myself off, and maybe poked a bit of fun at them, but I wouldn't tell. But, I mean, it was my freaking teacher!

Students aren't supposed to see that! Teachers aren't humans! They don't have emotions out of class, they don't have boyfriends, or girlfriends or any of that crap! I mean, you never even see them outside of school! They're just...teachers!

Okay, I know I was being unfair, but, I mean, come on! To students, teachers aren't people, their just-just teachers!

I burst into Monster House and ran up the stairs to the third floor, then paused before my room door. Blinking, I knocked quietly, but there was no answer, so I cautiously opened the door a crack and peeked in.

Matt was in his bed, his back to the room, and his breathing deep and regular. Exhaling in relief, I stepped into the room and quickly stripped and slid into bed, flicking off the lamp.

I ended up dreaming about midgets and dragons that night.

It wasn't very pleasant.