Chapter T
hirteen
Problems and Solutions


Time moved pretty fast. Noah was moved into Sharon and Mike's by the end of the week. Leo was happy about that. He started working with me at DH3 the next week and that went really well. Training him was simple and he caught on to everything really quickly. The Halliwell cousins spent less and less time in the coffee house. They were still there most nights for a cup of coffee but they didn't have much to do with the actual running of the store. I talked to Ben on the telephone at least every week. I still hadn't told him about Nick kissing me or his confession. I don't know why but I felt like I should actually talk to Nick about that. He hadn't called me, but I got a letter from him every week. Nothing really important was ever said in his letters. He told me about his life on campus and his classes. They were more like duty letters.

Greg, Thad, Leo, Tyler, Brian, Ian and myself were now a regular crowd at the Campus Diner on Saturdays. Every other week either I or Leo would be absent from the group because of work. We rarely worked the same shifts. The waitresses knew us all by name and smiled when we came in. We all made sure to leave them nice tips and go out of our way to make waiting on us simple. We ordered the same things every Saturday and we rarely needed the waitress for anything once we had our food.

Life became a little tense in the dorms just before Thanksgiving. Our new RA, Mike Mallory, was a homophobic jock and he made it a point to call us names whenever he saw any of us. We'd complained to the dean but it hadn't gotten us anywhere. I was ready to leave the dorm and go back to living in my house but I wanted my friends to go with me. There just wasn't enough room for that. Brian and Ian were already living off campus in a nice apartment and Greg, Thad and Leo would fit right in at the house but with Andy there and Gage there a lot of the time there just wasn't enough room. In the end we all decided to be in the dorms with a buddy at all times.

One of the strangest things that had happened was Loren and Steve. Tyler had told me just before Thanksgiving that he'd seen them here and there. They seemed much more than friendly. After the Thanksgiving holiday it was official. The entire gay community at the college knew that Steve was dating Loren. Tyler seemed to think that this would bother me, but I was fine with it. I was over Steve and he could do what ever he wanted. He had Vince and Maria to worry over him.

I had dinner with Vince and Maria as often as I could. Thankfully Steve kept himself out of the apartment when I came over. He was always given plenty of warning. Vince didn't seem to like Loren. He talked about him a lot while I was there. Maria said that she thought he was an attractive guy, but he had a lot of rough edges. That was as close to saying that she didn't like someone as I'd ever heard Maria get. I didn't know what to say to them about it. I didn't like Loren either, but he was Steve's boyfriend not mine.

On the boyfriend front I'd shocked myself with Tyler. My feelings of friendship changed around the holiday and I found myself really wanting to be with Tyler. Fortunately Tyler felt the same way about me. He'd admitted that he was getting a bit frustrated with me when he thought I was only interested in friendship. We agreed to date for a while and see what happened. Our first date had been a complete disaster because we'd walked into the restaurant and found Loren and Steve sitting at a table. Both of us were miserable with them there and for some reason it never occurred to us to leave and go elsewhere.

For our second date I invited Tyler to the house. I cooked a meal for just the two of us and we decided to just watch a movie in the living room. Andy was at Gage's apartment that night, so we snuggled up on the couch and tried to pay attention to the movie, but we paid more attention to each other than anything else. I had him in my arms and there was no watching a movie. With him so close I could smell his scent. It was a mixture of his shampoo, gel, deodorant and cologne. Underneath that there was another smell that I couldn't quite identify. I loved it, though. I decided to just call it the Tyler smell.

We fit together very nicely. I had my back against the couch with his back against me. My arm was around him so that I could hold his hand. Most of the time he stared at our hands while I nuzzled the back of his neck. It felt great to have him next to me like that. It was an intimacy that I'd missed and hadn't known that I'd been longing for until that moment. It just felt right. The movie ended without us having paid much attention and it stayed on it's title screen for a while.

"This is nice," he said finally, and I held him tighter.

"It sure is," I replied. "This has turned out to be a very nice date."

"So should I kick you for not asking me out sooner?" he chuckled.

"TJ you have to understand that I was still a little stung from the ending of my relationship with Steve," I said. "I guess I just wasn't ready for anything like this."

"I do understand, Tommy," he replied, rubbing his fingers over my hand as he spoke. "I'm just happy that you finally decided that you were ready. I was about to go crazy wanting to touch you like this and not being able to."

"Well you can touch me whenever you want now," I sighed, holding him tight. "Just make sure that we're in an appropriate place."

"The dorm is getting to be a not so appropriate place lately," he said, and I sighed.

Life in the dorm was slowly becoming more than I could handle and I knew that I'd have to do something about it soon. If I confronted Mike there would be a fight and that would get me kicked out of school. I couldn't have that. Semester finals were just around the corner. We had one week until Winter Break and then finals. There had to be something I could do.

"You got quiet," he said.

"Just thinking about the dorm," I replied. "I know how bad its getting, believe me."

"Well you could always move home," he said.

"But what about you and the others?" I asked. "This house is big enough for me to bring you and two others. There's the apartment over the garage as well."

"Who are you wanting to come with you?" he asked.

"Well, you of course," I said. "Greg, Leo and Thad should come too."

"Will they all agree to move in here?" he asked. "I know I'd love to live here, but I don't know what the others will say."

"Well I guess the first question I should ask is if you're comfortable moving in here as my lover and sharing my bed with me," I said slowly.

He was quiet for a minute and I was so scared that he would say no. I knew it was fast but I thought we could handle it if we just kept communicating and being open. I'd accepted that he wasn't Steve, so I knew that there would be a lot of differences between this relationship and the last one. I was ready for those differences. I just hoped that he was open to the possibility of a committed relationship.

"I'm fine with that, Tommy," he said. "I'm just wondering how we'll spin that one if my parents come to visit. I mean, they're the ones that will have to send me money to pay my share."

"Your dorm is paid for all year, right?" I asked, thinking fast.

"Yeah, but if I move in here..."

"You'll be paid up for a year," I interrupted. "You'd just have to help out with food."

"What about the bills, Tommy?" he asked. "Is everyone else going to be all right with that?"

"They'll have to be," I replied. "I'll just charge them less as if you were paying a share. It'll be all right, TJ. Don't worry."

"So when are we doing this?" he asked.

"I'm thinking over Winter Break," I replied.

"Well that works for all of you, but I'm going back to Canada for the break," he said.

I'd forgotten about that completely. We'd only been dating for a month and now he was going to be leaving for three weeks. I wondered how I'd handle that one. As for the rest I knew we'd fit. The house would be a bit crowded, but there were two extra bedrooms and the apartment over the garage which was currently empty. We'd fit if we just compromised on a few things. I wondered if Thad and Leo would mind still being room mates.

"Well we'll move your things into the house before you go," I said finally. "We'll figure all of this out, TJ. First I have to talk to the others."

"So when were you planning to talk to them?" he asked, rubbing his fingers over my hand.

"Well we'll all be together tomorrow," I replied. "Leo won't be there but I'm sure he'll show up later."

"Then if they all agree I guess we're moving," he said, and I couldn't read his tone.

I was worried about what he thought about cohabitation so early in our relationship. We'd agreed to take things slow but I really wanted him with me. Sure it was fast, but I was still sure that with lots of communication we could do it. I just hoped he was as confident as I was.

Just then Andy came home from a date with Gage. He stopped when he came through the door and looked at us for a moment before taking off his coat and hanging it on the coat tree. I smiled at him, but I wondered what his thoughts were about finding TJ and I snuggled on the couch.

"You guys look nice and warm," he said, sliding into the recliner across from us.

"We are," said TJ. "Tommy and I were having a serious discussion."

"Did I interrupt?"

"No," I replied quickly. "I think our part of the discussion is over. Now I think it's time that we talk to you about what we've decided."

"All right," he said slowly, eyeing me. "Shoot."

"You know about our RA and his attitude about us, right?" I asked. He nodded, so I continued. "Well we were discussing moving in here. It would be me, Tyler, Greg, Leo and Thad. What do you think?"

He was quiet for a moment, and I worried that he would have an objection. It was my house, but it was also his home. It had been his home for so long that without him it wouldn't seem like home to me. I wanted him to be on board with this idea but I didn't want him to be uncomfortable.

"Sounds good, actually," he said. "The house is so empty now that you've moved to the dorm. I still don't understand why you wanted to in the first place. It'll be crowded, but it'll be like old times again."

"Thanks, Andy," I said with a big smile.

"You didn't need my permission, Tommy," he said. "This is your house after all."

"But it's your home," I replied. "I wouldn't just do anything here without at least warning you first."

"And I thank you for that," he chuckled. "When will this be taking place?"

"Well I have to talk to the others about it first," I said slowly. "I don't even know if they'll agree to it."

"And when will you be having this chat?"

"Tomorrow," I said. "We'll all be together tomorrow, so that's the best time."

"Sounds good," he said. "Just make sure you let me know what they say and when to expect everyone to start moving in."

"Well if they agree I thought we'd all start moving over Winter Break."

"That'd work," he said, rubbing his chin. "Let me know if any of them need help. I can at least help out with my truck."

"Thanks, Andy," I said, grinning at him.

That was all settled. About an hour later TJ and I said our goodbyes to Andy and headed back to the dorm. Greg wasn't in when I got there so I decided to get in some studying. The hall was quiet and I was thankful that I hadn't run into Mike. I wasn't in the mood for anything from him that night. I still had thinking to do about me and TJ moving in together.

A voice in the back of my mind screamed that it was too soon and that to do this now would be the end of us, but I didn't believe that voice. I chalked it up to my own nerves about it. TJ and I were just starting out but I believed that if we just stuck with it we'd make it. He wasn't Steve Sutton, and that was the important thing. I had to keep that in mind.

I did manage to set my thoughts of my new relationship aside long enough to get through the Psych chapter that had been assigned for extra credit. I was half way through my English chapter when Greg came in. He didn't look happy at all. He slung his coat over his bed and slumped into his chair.

"Rough night?" I asked, closing my English text.

"It wasn't until I came home," he said gruffly. "Mike was in the hall. I swear that bastard gets more stupid every day."

"What'd he do this time?" I asked.

"Oh the usual, called me a fag and tried to give me shit," he sighed. "Same old. Did he get you?"

"No," I replied. "I was lucky. He wasn't in the hall when I came home."

"Man, I'm seriously thinking about moving into an apartment," he said.

I looked at him for a moment as the wheels turned in my head. This was probably the best time to talk to Greg about moving into my house. If he was this fed up with Mike it would probably be something he'd want to do. I certainly hoped I could get him on board before I talked to the others.

"I might have a solution to this," I said slowly.

"What?"

"Well, Tyler and I were talking earlier about all of us moving into my house," I said. "It's big enough. Leo and Thad might have to share a room still, but at least we wouldn't have Mike to deal with."

"Are you serious?" he asked. "I mean it would be great for me, but what about you and Tyler?"

"We talked about that and we both think we can deal," I said, not wanting to go into detail.

"Then I'm in," he said. "When do we do this?"

"Well I have to talk to everyone first," I said. "I talked to Andy about it tonight and he's all for it. He even offered to help everyone move. Well, at least he offered the use of his truck."

"That's great," he said. "Need help convincing the minions?"

"I might," I said. "I was planning on bringing it up at the diner tomorrow."

"That'd work," he said with a yawn. "We'll be together except for Leo."

"I'll talk to Leo about it when he gets off work," I replied. "So it's a go as far as you're concerned?"

"Hell yeah," he said. "You have a seriously nice house, Tommy. I think it'd be great."

"Then if everyone is in we'll start moving over Winter Break," I said. "I assume you're not going home."

"You assumed correctly," he said with a chuckle.

"Then we're set," I said.

"I'm gonna grab a quick shower," he said. "Then I want to tell you about my night before Mike."

"Deal," I said, stretching.

While he went to shower I returned to my English text. I wanted to have everything read before I went to bed so I could have the weekend to do other things. I was just finishing up when Greg came back to the room in a towel. He winked at me as he dropped it and started to get into his chest of drawers to get his boxers.

"Eye candy for the gay boy," he said with his back turned. He even wiggled his ass.

"Whatever," I laughed. "You get off on having gay boys look at your ass. That's why you do this."

"You bet your gay ass I get off on it," he laughed. "Man I have to tell you about Adam and Pete."

"Adam and Pete?" I asked.

"Adam Wells is in my Sociology class," he said in explanation. "I went over to his place tonight to study for this group thing we were assigned."

"Ah," I said. "And Pete?"

"Pete is one of Adam's room mates," he replied. "They're like lovers or something. But that's not what was strange. There's this kid, Melvin, living there. I think he's on the football team. Any way, he's like their servant or something. Everything one of them asked for, Melvin got up to get it."

"Weird," I commented.

"That's not the worst," he said. "I had to use the can, and they sent me to the upstairs bathroom. Said something about the one downstairs not working, but I think they wanted me to see what was upstairs."

"What was upstairs?" I asked, my curiosity tweaked.

"There was this guy up there in one of the bedrooms," he said. "The room had no door, so I could see in as I walked up the stairs. Any way, this guy is naked and tied to the bed. He didn't say a word to me as I made my way to the bathroom, but man was it strange."

"Did you ask Adam or Pete about him?" I asked.

"No, dude," he replied. "What would I have said?"

"True," I laughed.

"But think about it," he said excitedly. "He's probably like their sex slave. How cool would that be?"

"You want a male sex slave?" I asked, looking at him hard.

"No," he laughed. "I'd want a female sex slave, but think about it."

"Not interested," I laughed.

He went on about that for at least an hour. I finally fell asleep without ever hearing the end of it all. The next morning all he wanted to talk about was moving. I reminded him that we had to talk to the others about it first. Then he couldn't wait for lunch to roll around. He bugged me until it was time to head over to the diner.

Thad and Brian were already there when we arrived. TJ came in a few minutes later and smiled at me when he saw me. We sat down and told the waitress that we'd wait for Ian before we ordered. We always ordered the same thing so it wasn't like there would be a big decision for us to make in that department.

Greg kept staring at me expectantly, but I wasn't saying anything until everyone was there. Sure Ian and Brian had an apartment, but I wanted to talk about it with everyone present anyway. I'd still have to stop in at DH3 to talk to Leo, but I didn't want to have to repeat myself over and over again. By the time Ian got there everyone knew I had something to say because Greg kept kicking me under the table.

"So spill it, little brother," Brian said with a huge grin on his face as soon as the waitress left the table with out standard orders.

"Well everyone is having trouble with Mike in the dorm, right?" I asked. They nodded so I continued. "Tyler and I were talking last night and I came up with a solution to this. I own a house in case anyone has forgotten. What we were talking about was moving into it. Now Brian, I know that you and Ian have an apartment. I'm not asking you to move in because of that. Thad, you, Greg and Leo are welcome. Tyler and I are moving into the house over Winter Break."

"Are you kidding?" Thad asked with wide eyes. "Hell yeah I'm interested. What do we have to pay there?"

"Well the house is paid for so I guess all we'd have to pay for is utilities," I said. "I'd ask for help with property tax but that's been taken care of for now."

"Sounds reasonable," said Greg. "I'm in."

"Me too!" Thad said enthusiastically. "What about Leo?"

"Well I was planning to head over to the coffee house after we leave here to talk to him about it," I said. I didn't think Leo would have much of a problem with it actually. His brother was living next door and this would put them closer together again.

So it was settled. Thad, Greg and Tyler were on board. That just left Leo, and I didn't foresee any problems there. They talked back and forth about how cool it was going to be to live off campus as we ate. As soon as we were finished, Tyler and I headed for DH3 to talk to Leo. It wasn't busy when we got there so we were able to talk freely.

"What's up guys?" Leo asked as we came in.

"Got something to talk to you about," I said, sitting at the bar.

"Let me serve this stuff and I'll be right with you," he said, picking up a tray with three mugs of coffee on it and walking away.

"Think he'll go for it?" Tyler asked as we watched him serve his table.

"I'm sure he will," I said. "It's all going to be fine, TJ. Don't worry."

"I'm not worried," he replied. "I just want everyone there."

"All right you two," Leo said as he walked back behind the bar. "What's going on?"

"Well we talked to everyone at lunch today about moving into my house," I said. "With all the crap we're getting from Mike in the dorm I just thought it would be easier."

"You mean all of us?" he asked.

"Well, Brian and Ian have an apartment," I said. "But Greg, TJ, you and Thad are welcome. The others have said yes already."

"Well I'm in if you're all sure you want me to live with you," he said.

"Of course we want you to live with us," I replied.

"Well then let's discuss the specifics after I get off work," he said as more customers came in.

And so it was set. We were all in agreement. Now all I had to do was tell Andy it was a go.


Storyville 3