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Maybe this time

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Will Poindexter wasn’t sure he would fit in at Samwell. The upperclassmen he had met so far on the prospects’ tour seemed nice enough, but the other prospects seemed really preppy. There was only one other guy on the tour who had been to a public school, and the upperclassmen seemed to be no different – one of the other defense prospects had said he knew the loud guy with the impressive moustache from Andover of all places. And there was so much jargon – 'swawesome? Tadpoles?? Frogs??? It was as though everyone was talking in code.

And Will really wasn’t sure how he felt about the tiny blond winger who was wrapping up their tour of the campus. He was unlike anyone Will had ever met. Well, in hockey, anyway. The guy just seemed so – swishy. How the hell did he survive playing Division I hockey?

“Yo,” a voice rumbled beside him, accompanying an elbow nudging his side, startling him out of his thoughts.

Will looked over to see Andover Guy – Nurse – looking at him expectantly.

“Uh, yeah?”

“You okay man? You seemed a bit out of it,” said Nurse with a grin.

“I’m fine, man,” Will found himself snapping back.

“Ooookay, then,” said Nurse, raising his hands in an ‘I surrender’ gesture and stepping back.

Shit, thought Will, feeling like an asshole.

“Wait, sorry, I didn’t mean – uh,” he fumbled.

“You’re okay, dude, chill” said Nurse, raising his eyebrows at Will’s sudden inability to string full sentences together. He waited a beat, then asked Will if he was staying the night on campus.

Will’s reply was interrupted by Swishy Guy announcing they had reached the final stop on the tour.

“Okay, y’all, this is the Haus! Those of you staying the night on campus – there will be a small gathering of Samwell Men’s Hockey players here later that y’all’re more than welcome to join, starting at 7PM sharp. Everyone else – this is where I leave you. Our ‘swawesome goalie, Johnson, will direct you back to the main campus car park from here!”

There was a smattering of awkward applause from the group, and Swishy Guy bowed and bounced his way up the steps of the dilapidated frat house as a nondescript brown-haired guy stepped forward and started issuing directions.

“So? You staying?” Nurse asked again.

Will replied that he was, and they arranged to meet later before heading to the Haus together.

“Okay, cool – dude, gimme your phone,” said Nurse.

Will frowned, confused. “Why?”

Nurse laughed. “So I can text my phone from it – then we can get in contact if we need,” Nurse said, giving Will a look that clearly said ‘duh’.

Will could feel himself flushing with embarrassment as he handed his phone over with a quiet “oh, right, yeah.”

Will spent the afternoon touring the CompSci department with the goalie prospect, Chow, who seemed to be totally enamoured with absolutely everything about the department, and the university in general. By the time the afternoon tour was over, Will was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to crawl into the bed in the dorm room he had been assigned for the night.

He was gearing up to make his excuses to Chow and get out of there, when his phone chimed with a text. It was from Nursey, and for some reason the realisation made Will go hot all over. Weird.

Nurse wanted to know if he had dinner plans, which lead to the three of them sitting in the campus food court with trays piled high with burgers and fries.

Will found himself watching Nurse’s hands as he gestured with a fry while describing the “Mad cool work they’re doing on deconstructing the western imperialist narrative” in the English department.

Will had no idea what most of those words meant, let alone in that order, so he settled for swallowing his mouthful of burger, nodding, and changing the subject.

“So that blond winger seems… intense,” he said.

“Um,” Nurse stopped short. “I guess?”

“Oh! You mean Bitty?” said Chow. “He seems so nice! I can’t wait to hang out with him tonight!”

This was not quite the reaction Will had anticipated. “But, I mean, isn’t he a bit-"

“A bit what?” Nurse bit out.

“Er – nothing,” said Will, suddenly very aware that he had hit a nerve.

The table was quiet for a beat, before Chow broke the silence, suggesting they head over to the Haus.

It was several hours, and several drinks, later, when Nurse brought it up again. They were in the kitchen in the Haus, having been plied with pie (by Swishy Guy – no, Bitty) and alcohol (by Moustache Guy – or Shitty, of all the ridiculous names).

“So,” said Nurse, setting down his solo cup.

“So?” said Will, unsure as to where this was going.

“Bitty,” said Nurse. He looked at Will, eyebrows raised. “What’s your problem, man?”

Will felt his own eyebrows leap skywards. “What do you mean?”

Nurse chuckled incredulously. “C’mon man, you clearly have a problem with him. You spent most of the tour staring at him, but now you’ve pretty much ignored him all night.”

Will felt his cheeks flush, and looked down at the table.

“Dude, are you, like, homophobic or something? ‘Cause I gotta tell you-"

“No,” said Will, sharper than he meant to.

“Okay,” said Nurse, carefully. “Then what-"

“I just don’t get how he lets himself be like that without getting his ass kicked all the time,” said Will, words bursting out of him in a rush. He looked up at Nurse, whose expression seemed stuck somewhere between disbelief and pity. “If I acted like that I’d have had my face bashed in more times than I could count,” he finished, feeling adrenaline rush through his system as he realised what he’d admitted, in a roundabout way.

“Oh,” said Nurse. “Oh,” he said again, comprehension dawning on his face.

Will felt sick. He sat there, frozen, watching Nursey process his unwitting admission. He took a breath in, then let it out as slowly as he could manage.

“Dude,” said Nurse, reaching his hand out to cover Will’s. “It’s okay, man, you’re okay.”

Will swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. “I need a drink.”

Nursey grinned at him, and they headed out to the porch to refill their cups.

It was getting late, and the party was getting more raucous, when Will found himself in the middle of a crowded room, attempting to dance in the vicinity of Nurse and Chow, while what felt like most of the Samwell student body leapt around them, sing-shouting the lyrics to Mr Brightside. The song transitioned smoothly into a heaving bassline and the mood in the crowd shifted abruptly, people pairing off and starting to grind on each other.

Chow mimed the motion of chugging a drink at them and disappeared into the crowd, leaving Will and Nursey eyeing each other somewhat guardedly.

Nursey broke first, raising his eyebrows at Will and leaning forwards. “You wanna?”

Will could hear the blood rushing in his ears, almost drowning out the music. He swallowed hard, nodded, and reached out towards Nursey.

It felt a little like he was having an out-of-body experience, simultaneously feeling Nurse’s hips crushing into his, hard torso flush against his, hot breath on his neck, and also floating above the scene, watching them move together in the crowd.

It could only have been a matter of minutes, when he felt Nurse huff out a sigh against his neck before he said, “Shall we get out of here?”

Will felt all of the blood in his body rush south. “Uh,” he said, eloquently.

“I really wanna kiss you right now, but I feel like it’s rude to make out in the middle of the dance floor.” Nurse continued. He took a step back from Will, and held out a hand.

Will grinned, and took it. Maybe he’d be okay here, after all.