zach has been looking forward to returning to college all summer. he's probably the only kid who who would rather be on campus than off. it's only because the parties at his frat house are out of this world and there's just no comparison to local house parties in his own town.
it's straight out of the movies. they do theme parties - toga parties, pajama parties, bubble bath parties, luau parties. zach's favorite is the annual pajama party because girls will come in skimpy nightgowns and bunny slippers. the least popular party is probably the one for yom kippur, mostly because nobody wants to fucking come to a party where you fast for twenty-four hours, and when that's over, all you do is put on a yamaka and pray over a plate of meatloaf.
but their fraternity is probably the smallest in numbers out of the entire university because they only allow jewish students. they do horribly at recruiting every year because none of the members bother being nice to freshmen during rush week. yeah, their parties are some of the best on campus, but if they can't recruit a decent amount of guys this year, it's not looking good for the future of zeta beta tau.
that's why he's not exactly shocked when he shows up to his frat house on his skateboard to find a ton of cars pulled up on the sidewalk, either too lazy or too drunk to find parking spaces. if this many of the guys are back this early, it can only mean one thing: a brainstorming session.
"we need him," zach hears cody saying as he walks into the room, "if we get this kid, we'll have a line around the fucking block during rush."
"he's not jewish, calzone!" hayden says. "are you stupid?"
cody throws an empty beer can at hayden's head. "who cares? this is do or die. this kid could be our saving grace!"
"how the hell are we supposed to get a celebrity to want to be in our fraternity?" hayden scoffs. "our floorboards are split open and we have bats in the fucking attic."
"he's not a fucking celebrity!" cody yells. "he's-"
zach doesn't get to find out who they're talking about because they all see him and jump up to give him one armed hugs and claps on the back.
"how long have you jammokes been here?" zach asks, eyes scanning over the mess in the living room. empty beer cans thrown into the fireplace, pizza boxes with only the crust left scattered on the coffee table, and some of the guys have pads of paper on their laps that are completely blank.
"since last night," hayden says under his breath, giving zach the look that says cody is being a whiny bitch again and won't let us sleep until we figure out our next move.
zach grabs the pad of paper hayden is holding and furrows his eyebrows. "the only thing on here is the number to papa ginos."
cody jumps out of his chair and points at hayden angrily. "i told you to take notes! what the fuck, man?"
"notes on what?" hayden asks in disbelief. "all we did last night was get drunk and play charades!"
zach rips cody's notebook away from him during the argument and looks down to see only a few bullet points written.
- get ariana grande's brother to pledge
- let the bros come to us during rush week
- zeta beta tau becomes the best fraternity in the world
- cody becomes president of the united states and mila kunis is the first lady
zach doesn't know it, but this is when his life suddenly veers off into another direction.
zach doesn't want to be here. he'd rather be back at the frat house printing out flyers for rush week with the rest of the guys. instead, here he is in the commons scouting out the kid who is apparently going to single-handedly restore the reputation of their two hundred year old fraternity with cody and hayden.
"this is fucking stupid," zach complains, "how do we even know what he looks like?"
cody shoves his phone in zach's face. it's opened to a recent picture of ariana grande and a blonde guy with pink-tipped hair moussed up into some kind of complex up-do.
zach laughs. "you've gotta be kidding me! have you even asked our alumni about this?"
cody shoots him a glare. "hayden wears board shorts to yom kippur every year. do you really think our alumni is going to give a fuck if some kid has pink hair?"
zach blanches. he guesses that's true. it's just that some of their alumni are traditional to the extreme, and this kid looks, well, gay.
cody snaps back into lookout mode. "just shut the fuck up and look for the pink hair over the crowd."
"shit, i think i see him," zach says. there's a really tan guy standing back to them, about ten yards away. he's wearing black skinny jeans and a tight pink tank top. his hair is dark blonde on the sides and slightly lighter on top before it hits hot pink right at the height of his hair. he looks tiny in person, like the human equivalent to a toy poodle, and he probably weighs less than zach's ten year old little brother.
"so, do we just walk up to him and ask him to be a member of a traditional jewish fraternity even though he's clearly gay and probably not jewish?" hayden asks sarcastically.
cody shrugs. "i don't know. i guess."
"you guess?" zach asks in disbelief. "you don't have a plan? you're the president!"
"what's wrong with what hayden just said?" cody asks, scowling.
zach rolls his eyes. "well, it was fucking terrible. just leave it to me."
then, he starts walking up to the kid before he realizes what he's actually doing. sometimes his urge to be the most masculine guy in the room overpowers his logic and leaves him in situations where he's not as prepared as he could be.
but it's too late to turn around now and he's already standing beside this guy. now that he can see the kid's face, he sees that he has carefully sculpted stubble over cheekbones cut like glass and insanely long eyelashes. he's looking down at his phone when zach walks up to him.
"hey, dude." zach sticks out his hand. "i'm zach."
the guy looks up at him in bewilderment. "hey?" he smiles a little and shakes zach's hand. "i'm frankie."
"i'm, like, trying to recruit people for my fraternity, zeta beta tau. we're going around talking to people about rush week, and i thought maybe you'd be interested," zach rambles.
"oh," frankie says, clearly disappointed. "i thought you were hitting on me."
zach coughs. "so, rush week?"
frankie laughs. "will you be there?"
zach feels his stomach knot up and he's more nervous than he's been meeting anybody new in a long time, and he tries to tell himself it's because this kid has connections to celebrities, but he really doesn't think that that's it. "yeah, i live there."
frankie nods in thought. "okay, sure. why not?"
"here," zach says, handing him a flyer, "we're having a house party in two days. you should come."
frankie bites his lip and grins at zach, like he's laughing at a private joke he's making in his head. "see you there."
when zach heads back to cody and hayden, they both hound him with questions. zach rolls his eyes and grabs his skateboard off the ground. "i have to grab coffee. can we talk about this later?"
"hold up," cody says, "what did he say when you told him about the party?"
"he asked if i would be there," zach says without thinking, then goes pink.
cody laughs deeply, taking pleasure in zach's embarrassment.
"wait," hayden says quietly, lost in thought. "maybe that could be our way in."
"what?" zach asks.
"if he ends up having ten fraternities on his dick and he doesn't know which one to choose..." hayden trails off, giving zach a meaningful look.
zach shakes his head. "i don't know what you're talking about, bro."
"then he'll pick the fraternity his boyfriend is in," cody finishes, smirking.
zach makes a face. "yeah, okay."
"no, really," cody insists. "if he hits on you during rush week, maybe you should just go with it."
"excuse me?" zach asks, laughing. "are you seriously telling me to hook up with a guy to save our fraternity?”
hayden shrugs. "dude, you've seen she's all that, right?"
zach scoffs and waves them off, thinking about how stupid and ridiculous that plan would be. there's no way in hell he would fuck someone to save his fraternity. he's not into guys and he would never manipulate someone like that, anyway. it's just fucked up.
the theme of the party is back to school, whatever that means. he has no clue what to wear, so he wears his normal mint green golf shorts. when he comes downstairs, he sees that the house has been transformed into a high school movie set in the last hour.
he doesn't know where his frat brothers got a giant chalkboard last minute, but he wishes he'd been there for it. he sees that they used nails to get it to stay on the wall, and there's another reason to add to the list of why their house is falling apart.
cody is by the fireplace, wearing a sweater vest and dorky glasses, flirting with some of the girls from some sorority. "zach!" he shouts, waving him over.
zach loves cody, he really does, but he's not in the mood tonight. "where's hayden and nicole?' he asks.
cody shrugs. "don't worry about them. just be on the lookout for that guy."
zach groans. he almost forgot about the stupid plan cody thinks he's actually going to go through.
cody reaches behind him and presents him with a bowl of condoms. "practicing safe sex is the first thing you learn in high school." he winks and tosses a condom at zach's chest, which zach dodges, flipping cody off and walking away.
he figures he'll stay close to the door so he can grab frankie when he comes in, talk to him for ten minutes about why zeta beta tau is so great, and then ditch him to get drunk and find a girl to hook up with.
when frankie comes in, he's in costume. zach has no idea how this guy knew what to wear when zach lives in this house and didn't know what to wear. frankie's wearing a football uniform, complete with a fucking football tucked under his arm and black paint under his eyes.
"hey!" he says enthusiastically. "is this, like, too much?"
frankie grins. "i was going to wear a helmet, but then i wouldn't be able to see where i was going."
"yeah," zach says sarcastically, "that might have tipped the ensemble over the edge."
"what are you supposed to be?" frankie glares, shouting over the music.
"a drunk college student," zach explains. frankie laughs, his face immediately lighting back up as he leans in to touch zach's arm, and zach finds himself unsure if that's friendly behavior or flirting.
"you want to meet some of the guys?" zach asks. frankie nods and turns around and zach tries not to stare at his ass in his tight football pants. jesus, this kid is, like, hot. for a guy.
zach finally finds hayden and his girlfriend in the kitchen, sitting on bar stools and mixing drinks with their arms around each other.
"hey, who are you?" hayden asks frankie, pretending not to know.
zach rolls his eyes. "this is frankie. he's one of the guys we were thinking about recruiting."
"yeah, well," frankie starts, "i've been approached by a few fraternities."
hayden shoots zach a worried look when frankie turns around to grab a drink from the table. zach shrugs. what the hell is he supposed to do about it?
ten minutes later and cody has come into the kitchen just as frankie has gone to the bathroom. zach is positive that this was no coincidence. cody has eyes on the back of his head.
"so, what's the verdict?" cody asks. "does he wanna pledge?"
zach shrugs. "i've got no fucking clue."
"why don't you take him upstairs and ask him," cody suggests with very little tact.
forget what he said earlier, zach actually doesn't like cody at all.
hayden nods, looking at zach. "dude, he needs to pledge. he wore a fucking football uniform. he's into this. he's perfect for a fraternity!"
"uh, who the fuck cares about what he wore?" cody bitches. "we need him so derrick doesn't fucking can me!"
derrick levasseur is an alumni of zeta beta tau, part of the university of florida's school committee, not to mention their frat's chapter leader. he's a huge name in the school and widely respected by the dean, although zach's always felt a malicious vibe coming from him, like he's secretly plotting their murders, or something. whatever, he just takes his job way too seriously, and cody is afraid of reaping the punishments.
"but why do i have to hook up with him, though?" zach asks, going pink again. "i was just going to fucking tell him the truth."
cody scrunches up his face. "dude, he's going to have every frat house up his ass for the next week! you need to hook up with him to give him incentive!"
"why don't you hook up with him, then!" zach suggests, knowing cody will find an excuse not to.
"hey!" cody shouts. "i would do it, but he already has his eyes set on you."
"you would not!" zach snorts.
"yes i fucking would! i'm the president of this fraternity!" cody wails.
hayden gives zach the look that says cody is drunk already and it's only ten pm.
zach isn't convinced that flirting with frankie will help them. he doubts frankie is into him, anyways. it was harmless flirtation for two minutes in the commons; it's not like they're betrothed, or something. still, zach thinks he probably would feel guilty if cody hooked up with frankie, because he would know it was fake on cody's end. at least zach actually likes frankie. you know, like, as a bro.
zach sighs. "look, i'm not gonna hook up with him. but i'll, like, flirt with him."
cody hugs zach with delight. "i fucking love you, dude! take one for the team!"
zach bats him off and leaves the room to find frankie.
flirting with a guy can't be all that different from flirting with a girl, zach thinks. he doesn't even really flirt with girls, actually. he kind of just walks up to them and tells them he's into them. he's not sure if that approach would be best with frankie, though. he doesn't, like, want frankie to take it too far and, like, try to make out with him. because then he would have to let it happen, or else cody might see if he pushed frankie off and kill him.
kissing a guy can't be all that different from kissing a girl, zach thinks. if worse came to worst and zach had to let frankie kiss him in front of everyone, he would just pretend frankie was a girl, or something. not that he thinks that's going to happen, it's just good to be prepared.
zach finds frankie cornered by a bunch of guys towards the foot of the stairs. he looks incredibly bored by whatever conversation must be going on, that is until he sees zach, and his eyes widen like he's just seen his favorite celebrity in person. half the guys scatter away to make room for zach by the stairs, and they're all zach's frat brothers, who seem to be heading upstairs to go to bed early.
"oh my god," frankie says, looking relieved, "thank you for saving me."
zach furrows his eyebrows. "what?"
"they were all math majors," frankie whispers, as if this is a running joke that he has with zach and zach should know exactly what he means.
zach frowns. he likes math. "what's wrong with that?"
frankie makes a face. "you know. they're...dull."
"they're all geniuses with pick up lines, though," zach says, trying to find a way of defending them without making frankie think less of him, not understanding why he cares so much about frankie's opinion of zach's friends. "like, how about we add a bed, subtract our clothes, divide your legs, and multiply?" he recites cockily from memory.
frankie grins lewdly. "sure! that sounds great. i never knew math could be so much fun."
zach turns red and shakes his head in disbelief. he should have seen that one coming. "actually, i did want to talk to you about something for a second." he points to the stairs.
frankie looks at him curiously. "okay."
zach makes sure to grab frankie's arm to signal him to be careful on the eighth step (it might give out completely any day now), and leads him down the hallway and to his shared bedroom with cody.
"so," zach begins awkwardly. he hates that he can't just talk to frankie like a bro. he doesn't want to make him a sales pitch for zeta beta tau. it feels forced and fake and zach actually wouldn't mind being friends with this kid. "i hate to ask, but-"
frankie sighs. "i don't know what i'm doing yet. i might not pledge anywhere at all!"
zach nods carefully, licking his lips. "well, which houses have you talked to?"
frankie lists off the names of the top competing fraternities and says there were a few more, but he can't remember the names. zach is in way over his head here. forget flirting with frankie, at this point the only way to get him to consider pledging to zeta beta tau would be to get down on his knees and suck his dick. and maybe even then their chances don't look very good.
zach sighs. "dude, i don't really care if you go here or not, to be honest." frankie looks mildly offended before zach continues. "i can see us being friends regardless of where you pledge. the only reason why we tried is because our fraternity is shit. the whole fucking house is falling apart. we would love to have you, but i'm not gonna be pissed if you go somewhere else."
frankie smirks. "you would love to have me?"
zach's eyes crinkle up when he laughs. "you know what i mean."
frankie sighs a little sadly, reaching out to gently touch zach's arm. "you know, i wasn't even planning on joining a fraternity when i enrolled here. i'm a triple major, so i have a lot on my plate."
"all the more reason to take a night off and party every once in a while," zach grins, "and we party hard." he hasn't even heard of triple majoring. is that really a thing? jesus, is he, like, a genius too?
frankie smiles. "all of you know i'm not jewish, right?"
zach laughs. "yeah, we know. just don't tell my mom if you decide to pledge."
"okay," frankie laughs, "i promise."
zach is one hundred percent sure frankie is going to end up at one of their rival frat houses, one of the houses with brand new flooring, a thermostat in every room, and walk-in closets. zach gets it, he really does. he could never look down on frankie for choosing another fraternity over their's, because if zach didn't love his brothers so much, he would probably find it tempting too.
"zach! phone!" hayden lazily holds the phone out from the next room over, while he sloppily chews on leftover chinese, making no move to stand up or bring the phone to zach.
zach sighs and gets off the couch to answer it, thinking maybe it's his mother telling him to charge his cell phone, because he always lets it die. it's not his mom, though.
"hi," frankie says with a nervous laugh, "i called the house number that was on the flyer you gave me. is that okay?"
zach pales. he feels his foot start to tap anxiously on the floor and he has no idea why he feels like he needs to pace or, like, twirl an eighties spiral phone cord around his finger like a teenage girl. "yeah, sure. what's up?"
"um," frankie says, "i decided to pledge zeta beta tau and i thought maybe we could meet up and, like, go over things."
zach almost drops the phone. "you did?"
"is it peyton?" hayden calls from across the kitchen. "did your dog swallow another monopoly piece?"
zach shakes his head frantically and then turns around to get some privacy from hayden.
"zach?" frankie asks in confusion.
"yeah, i'm here!" zach says, "when did you wanna meet up?"
"tomorrow morning before class?" frankie asks. "is seven okay?"
zach blanches. he doesn't even have class tomorrow and frankie wants him to meet him at seven in the morning? "yeah, no, that works for me. perfect, actually." what the fuck did he just say? zach has no idea what's wrong with him.
"okay!" frankie says, sounding giddy. "awesome! see you then."
zach hangs up and feels hugely confused and unsure of what just happened. did frankie actually pledge zeta beta tau because of zach? is that, like, a fucked up, arrogant thing to think? zach doesn't think anybody else even really talked to frankie the night of the party. who else could have made a good impression? did frankie like zach that much? not that zach doesn't like frankie too, because he does. the guy's ten times more hilarious than all of zach's frat brothers combined, with an air of confidence around him that rivals even zach's own brashness.
"who was that?" cody asks, ignoring zach for the television screen when zach comes back into the room.
zach braces for the reaction. "frankie."
cody looks over at him oddly. "what did he want?"
"to say he's pledging zeta beta tau." zach plops himself back on the couch and reaches for his second slice of pizza.
cody's mouth drops open. "you're fucking joking. rush week has barely started and he told you he wants to pledge us?"
zach nods. "yup."
"did you fuck him?" cody asks, amazed.
"no," zach says in deadpan, already annoyed. "i just sucked his dick."
"well, you must be a natural," cody laughs merrily.
hayden walks into the living room, carrying his box of leftover chinese. "yeah, congratulations on your awesome dick-sucking skills, dude."
zach glares. "thanks. i had help, though. your mom had me over last weekend, so."
zach doesn't know what kind of a meet-up this is supposed to be. he dresses with tired, bleary eyes, and he might be wearing golf shorts again.
he skateboards right past a coffee joint, then realizes it might be a good idea to grab one, because he's hungover as fuck, but he can't really bring one for himself and not frankie, because that would be rude. except he can't really carry two coffees while skateboarding, so he decides to only get frankie a coffee. the logic seems to add up at seven in the morning.
when zach finds frankie waiting outside of his building, his face brightens, "hey!" frankie says, "you're late!"
"brought you some coffee," zach explains, holding it up. he wishes he could have gotten some for himself. fuck. but when frankie grins ear to ear and accepts it happily, zach doesn't regret it.
"oh my god, thank you!" frankie immediately takes a sip.
zach shrugs like it's no big deal, although he actually almost spilt the scalding hot coffee on himself, like, eight times trying to hold it while skateboarding. "you're welcome, bro."
"you look hungover," frankie says sympathetically. "did i miss a big party last night?"
zach snorts. "just three guys getting drunk and playing fantasy football."
frankie grins. "you better be careful drunk driving next time or the campus police will get you." he pokes zach's chest accusingly with his pointer finger.
"drunk driving?" zach repeats, confused.
"you're on a skateboard," frankie explains slowly, laughing.
zach groans. "sorry, slow morning. drunk driving - i get it now. you're really funny, dude." zach can't believe frankie's brain can come up with jokes this early in the morning. he's literally amazing.
"okay," frankie says, "well, i just wanted to say that i really appreciated your honesty the other night. you're the only person who actually told me why they wanted me to join their fraternity."
zach laughs. "yeah, that was awesome," he says sarcastically, "i literally told you we want you just so we can get more people to pledge."
"still appreciate it," frankie insists. "you have no idea how much bullshit everybody else kept trying to sell me."
zach nods. "i mean, i thought i had nothing to lose. plus, i was like, if i want to stay friends with this guy, i can't blow smoke up his ass."
"i mean, i'm agreeing on the condition that i get to room with you," frankie says conversationally.
zach face heats up, but he doesn't blush. it's miami, okay? it's fucking warm outside. "sorry, i'm already set up from last year."
frankie sighs melodramatically. "well, now i might have to pledge kappa kappa gamma...."
"no! they suck!" zach exclaims, "stay with us."
frankie laughs. "alright, if you insist. listen, i have to get to class, but thanks for meeting me. talk soon."
frankie steps closer to zach and leans in to presumably kiss his cheek, but trips over zach's skateboard and ends up kissing the corner of zach's mouth. zach grabs at frankie's forearms to keep him from falling over, giggling nervously.
"well," frankie says, looking at zach's chest awkwardly instead of meeting his eyes, "that didn't go as planned." he backs away from zach's grip and winces.
zach goes pink, nodding. "yup. i'm gonna go back to the house now." he takes off quickly, before frankie can say anything else, mentally beating himself up for acting like such a moron. people probably accidentally kiss each other all the time. it's not a big deal.
zach has slept with probably fifteen girls since starting starting college and was never nervous even once, but frankie accidentally kissing him almost gave him a stroke. he blames it on the fact that it's seven in the morning and he's only half awake. your senses are, like, tampered down when you're hungover. otherwise, he would have teased frankie and laughed it off, instead of running away like a little girl. frat guys don't get nervous. it's, like, a biological impossibility.
zach finds frankie easily during lunch, his pink hair sticking out like a sore thumb, and waves him over to sit with him and his frat brothers. he wonders if frankie is the only person in his classes with hair dyed so bright, then realizes he doesn't know what frankie is triple majoring in, and makes a mental note to ask him.
"so, you're our superstar freshman, huh?" cody asks when frankie walks up to them. "you're gonna be the only gay guy in our whole fraternity!"
"dude." zach winces visibly as he sits down next to cody, but thankfully frankie seems to ignore him completely.
"speaking of that, sorry for kissing you earlier," frankie says casually to zach over his salmon, sitting down next to hayden.
zach chokes on his soda, swallowing the wrong way, and cody has to reach over and slap him on the back.
"what was that?" hayden asks, grinning hugely.
"oh, it was nothing," frankie explains, "i just accidentally kissed zach this morning."
"how do you accidentally kiss someone?" cody asks in confusion.
zach has no idea if cody is still under the impression that zach is playing frankie, but he feels his face heat up regardless. damn this florida humidity.
"you try to kiss their cheek and then miss." frankie takes a bite out of his salmon, smirking.
"jeez, why were you kissing his cheek, anyway?" cody asks.
"calzone, that was rude. mind your own business," hayden scolds, then turns to frankie. "now, are we talking a dry kiss or wet kiss?"
zach shoots up out of his seat and everyone looks up at him in bewilderment. "um," zach says, "i forgot to print out my economics essay."
he makes the mistake of glancing at frankie one last time before he leaves. frankie looks at him strangely - like he can't figure zach out. zach would prefer if frankie was laughing at him - at least then zach would know frankie hadn't taken the kiss seriously. when he just stares zach can't tell what he's thinking.
so, zach has this thing where he only sleep with girls at parties, and he just so happens to always be drunk during them. he doesn't, like, ask girls out. he never dates. he just has sex and he happens to find it easier to get off when he's a little buzzed.
he doesn't like foreplay, so he doesn't spend much time trying to get the girl wet. he likes getting blowjobs, but he doesn't like eating girls out, and usually that's the trade-off, so he doesn't really get or give oral. he guesses that's sort of selfish, but it's college, and zach figures everyone is selfish in bed when they're young.
it's really unlike him to get hard in the middle of the day totally sober, but it's been happening weirdly often during rush week. he'll be sitting in a lawn chair in the front yard with his boys, and frankie will stop by to help them clean up before the next rush week party. he'll start climbing a ladder to get the empty beer cans off the roof and zach can't physically tear his eyes off of frankie's ass in his loose jeans.
he goes to the library the day after rush week ends, right after frankie has officially become a member of zeta beta tau, and he gets a text that gets him hard. frankie asks zach to help him carry his moving boxes into the house and he literally feels the blood rush straight to his dick imagining frankie shirtless with his fucking tanned arms and flat stomach carrying boxes.
"hey, thanks for helping me," frankie says when he shows up with his car packed to full capacity with suitcases and crates. he's wearing aviators and snapping gum and he tells zach what boxes to lift before patting zach's ass as he walks away.
he wonders if the things frankie does to him could be considered foreplay, and if so, why does he enjoy them, especially sober?
normally a girl has to practically open her legs up for zach for him to give her a second glance, but somehow all it takes for him lately is him overhearing frankie telling hayden's girlfriend how his last boyfriend used to pop viagras so they could fuck for hours, and zach feels his forehead bead with sweat because jesus who says shit like that?
he hates the fact that his dick apparently has a mind of it's own. he doesn't want to fuck frankie. not really. his dick does, though. his dick really, really, really wants to.
"it's been, like, weeks since i smoked, dude." zach has just now realized this. he wonders if it's just, like, him being focused on his classes, but that's never exactly stopped him before.
hayden snorts. "we can't have that. might mess up your gpa and bring you from a two point zero to a two point five."
"you want to fucking get high or not?" zach presses, choosing to ignore hayden's dig.
"nicole has me on this new health kick and, to be honest, bro, i haven't really had the urge to smoke since i started dating her." hayden nods, gazing off into space. "huh."
zach looks at him like he's crazy. "giving up weed for a girl? that's sad, dude."
hayden looks at zach knowingly. "well, you know how it is. relationships."
zach is so fed up of everyone trying to tell him how he must feel about frankie. jesus, it's only been a couple weeks of the new pledges living here and people have been constantly giving zach these pitying smiles, like they feel bad for him that he and frankie aren't dating.
but zach doesn't want to date anybody, okay? they're just two guys hanging out and it's not any different than any of his other friendships. they're not in some early stage of dating. they're not working their way up to being a couple. he finally settles on saying "i'm not in a relationship with frankie", while rolling his eyes.
"don't remember mentioning frankie," hayden grins. "just reeled you into that one, bro. like a master fisherman." he mimics reeling in a fish with an invisible rod.
zach wilts. god, is everyone convinced that zach acts differently around frankie? he slumps down into his chair and sighs. "i'm not into frankie like that, bro. i don't like guys."
hayden chuckles. "you better tell that to him, dude, because i don't think he knows."
what the fuck is hayden insinuating? that zach enables frankie to hit on him by not telling him off? he doesn't tell him off because it's just a fucking joke, okay? frankie doesn't actually want to hook up with him. people need to stop reading so far into things.
it's at this moment when frankie gets back from his morning classes, a whirlwind of color in his green tye dye shirt, and carrying a huge stack of books. his face brightens when he sees zach and hayden sitting in the living room, and he quickly drops his things by the door, and launches himself into zach's lap.
"my platonic husband," he gushes, his hands resting lightly on zach's shoulders, "i missed you so much. it's been six whole hours."
and it has been about six hours since breakfast, not that zach's been keeping track of time. maybe frankie had seen some jam stuck to zach's lip and had wet his thumb to wipe it off for zach, but he was just being nice, and he knows zach isn't interested. the only reason why zach has gotten hard from looking at frankie before is because he's never had a touchy-feely friendship like this before and it's just new to him. that's the only reason.
hayden chuckles again, then leans over the coffee table to grab his shoes and start to lace them up.
frankie ignores him, hands coming up to cradle zach's face and pinch his cheeks.
"ow!" zach says. "hayden, he's abusing me!"
"sorry, honey," frankie says, leaning in and rubbing his nose against zach's. zach giggles and pulls away after a few seconds, because eskimo kisses are gay, and zach isn't gay.
"okay, lovebirds. i have work. peace." hayden shakes his head as he walks out the door. zach tries not to do anything incriminating until hayden's gone, like blush because frankie's paying so much attention to him.
zach pulls frankie up higher into his lap, fingers slipping into the belt loops of frankie's jeans. he resolutely refuses to believe that he waited for hayden to leave before he did that. he would do anything he does with frankie in front of hayden because it's just joking around.
frankie burrows his head into the crook of zach's neck and quickly kisses it before sitting back up and petting zach's face again.
okay, maybe he wouldn't let frankie do anything in front of the other guys. but that's only because they wouldn't get how cool zach is with frankie's sexuality! it's not his fault he's, like, the most open-minded best friend ever.
people just wish they could have the kind of perfect, non-sexual friendship ever in the history of college life. it's not every day two people who spend as much time together in college as they do that they never actually hook up.
they hook up during the last house party before their annual yom kippur fasting.
it's a huge jewish blow-out, complete with mandatory yamaka-wearing and feasting in preparation for the fasting. because of the nature of yom kippur weekend at zeta beta tau, with all their alumni and assorted parents flying in from out of state, there's no drinking during the weekend. there's also no drinking during yom kippur because of religious reasons. not that anybody at zeta beta tau remembers that.
so, the last party before this weekend every year is the worst. everybody gets wasted, nearly blackout drunk, and they all have to wake up at the ass crack of dawn the next morning to clean up before their families and their alumni get there. it's a fucking hassle, but zach loves an excuse to party.
"okay!" cody shouts, standing on top of their coffee table, which has been pushed back to the fireplace to make room for dancing. "this is your last twelve hours until yom kippur! so if you want to eat, do it now! if you want to drink, do it now! if you want to have sex, do it now! because none of it is going to fucking happen for the rest of the weekend!"
there is an assorted amount of boos and general yelling to be heard from the crowd. half of zach's brothers are the nerdy type to never get laid anyway, and the other half are the jock type that might literally die if they don't get laid every day, so this should be interesting.
"yeah, yeah, yeah!" cody waves them off. "heathens, all of you!" he jokes.
zach gets drunk somewhere between the second and third hour of the party, probably still too early to even think about crashing in bed. he walks around aimlessly searching for frankie because he's bored and ends up finding him in the attic, where they store the extra furniture and decorations for parties.
"hey," zach says, letting frankie know he's here, because frankie is on a ladder, and he doesn't want to scare him.
frankie turns around and grins when he sees zach. "hey! i'm just loading up some stuff last minute for tomorrow. can you help me get these boxes downstairs?" he points to a stack of cardboard boxes sitting beside him on the ladder.
zach frowns. "did you lift all those down by yourself? be careful, dude, you could fall!"
frankie rolls his eyes and turns back around the grab the last box. "well, you're here to catch me now."
zach does not think about how great it would be to catch frankie if he fell off the ladder, because that would be dangerous and reckless, and zach is not even interested in stupid romantic gestures like that, even jokingly with guy friends that he's absolutely not attracted to at all.
frankie nearly trips on the last step of the ladder, but he recovers quickly. "god, that sangria, man." frankie shakes his head.
"you know, the last time somebody in zeta beta tau got up on a ladder after drinking, he ended up jumping off the roof onto a table in the backyard that people were playing beer pong on," zach says worriedly.
"was that guy you?" frankie asks, raising an eyebrow.
zach purses his lips and squints. "maybe."
"did you break anything?"
"when i fell from heaven, you mean?" zach jokes, grinning.
frankie laughs. "god, you are drunk."
zach shrugs. "it's a party."
"it's not a party if i'm not hooking up with anyone," frankie bemoans, his skin glowing a little in the dark, and zach realizes it's getting late. "it's been, like, way too long. i think you need to take one for the team, zach. or else i'm probably going to murder everyone's parents tomorrow out of of sexual frustration."
zach laughs nervously, feeling his stomach flip, even though he knows frankie's joking. "i don't know, dude. there's some pretty hot dads coming in tomorrow. maybe you can snag some numbers."
"with nice receding hairlines?" frankie grimaces. "not really my type. i only like young, supple jewish men."
and with that, frankie is poking zach in the stomach and tickling his sides. zach giggles and tries to bat his hands off, but frankie is relentless. he doesn't stop playfully slapping zach's sides and groping his ass until zach is gasping for air and feeling a little dizzy and so, so tipsy, and he wants - he wants to kiss frankie so bad.
when frankie finally stops torturing him, zach feels disappointed. "dude," he says meaningfully, tugging on the front of frankie's shirt gently to pull him back in. he hopes he's not reading the situation wrong.
frankie looks up at him with a knowing smile, before leaning in and kissing him, and zach is so drunk, okay? or he's a confused young person who needs to experiment in order to lead a normal life later on, whatever. zach doesn't care anymore.
and then they're not play fighting anymore, they're pressed tight up against each other, and frankie is slowly walking zach backwards until he hits the wall. frankie has one hand on zach's hip, sneaking up under his shirt, and the other is cupping his face while they kiss.
zach feels frankie breaking off from the kiss to lower his head and suck gently on zach's neck, and he shivers and swallows hard, his hands snaking down to frankie's lower back and playing with the waistband of frankie's briefs from under his jeans.
"god, zach," frankie groans, "i wasn't sure you wanted it too."
and zach can't breathe or think straight, because of frankie's hands, frankie's voice, frankie's fucking thigh shoved between his legs. he's only been friends with frankie for a few weeks, but he feels like he's been waiting for this to happen for years. he can't get enough of the way frankie silently presses his thigh up into zach's groin, trying to get him to grind on it.
"c'mon, zach," frankie urges quietly, "i can feel you."
zach panics for a second, looking around the room to make sure they're alone. of course they're alone - they're in the fucking attic. when he tries to crane his head to look towards the trap door, frankie grabs his face with both hands and drags him back in for another kiss. zach makes a small noise of surprise, but kisses back, because he's can't not kiss frankie back.
all he remembers the next morning is the way his he had undulated sloppily down onto frankie's thigh, hips rolling and his dick straining inside his jeans. he bit down on frankie's shoulder to keep quiet, not because anybody else would hear, but because he was embarrassed by how turned on he was. his legs had trembled when he came, still standing upright, frankie's thigh snug between his legs.
he also remembers the way frankie had quickly jerked off in front of zach, but he's trying to forget, because he's not gay and he definitely didn't like watching the way the muscles in frankie's arm moved when he jerked himself off, his shirt rucking up over his abs.
zach looks beside him on the spare couch and frankie is laying there blanketless, because there are no blankets here, in only his underwear and tank top. zach looks down at himself, and there's a small wet spot that probably stained from when he came in his pants the night before.
zach looks up at the ceiling in defeat. "fuck."
"well," frankie says downstairs when he finds zach helping out the guys cleaning up, "at least we made the cut before yom kippur." he looks at zach, biting his lip like he wants to laugh.
zach wants to die and melt into the floorboards when he realizes frankie is not acting weird about this at all. it's like frankie had seen it coming, like, a mile away, which zach didn't. he doesn't like being proven wrong about him having a thing for frankie by not only all his frat brothers, but by frankie himself too. he really didn't think they would ever hook up. god, he thought about it sometimes, but he had no idea it would happen while he was drunk the night before his mother was coming to visit him.
"you okay?" frankie asks gently, looking at zach strangely.
"he's fine," cody says as he walks past them wheeling away a dumpster of last night's trash, "just dreading his mom seeing the fucking pigsty that his room is."
oh, great. he experimented with a guy last night and he forgot to clean his room. his mom is not going to be happy with him.
"her name is victoria," zach's mother explains with a small smile, "and she's so excited to meet you."
zach hears a few of the guys in the room wolf whistle and he just rolls his eyes. he's already met at least five of his mother's friends' jewish daughters, nieces, and cousins. they've all found zach obnoxious, and zach, in return, has found them all snobby and spiteful.
"i don't think that's a good idea," zach hedges, trying to shoot the plan down with as little fuss as possible.
"why not?" jill questions, "you're not seeing anybody, are you?"
zach stiffens. he's not, but he would feel like a fucking tool for saying that with frankie sitting beside him on the couch. he knows by their earlier conversation that frankie didn't seem to expect anything from zach, but he still doesn't want to hurt his feelings even if it was a one night thing.
he feels a warm hand softly press against his lower back and start to rub. he knows it's frankie, but when he glances over at him, frankie is looking straight ahead with an amazing poker face. zach feels weird about it being so comforting.
"you know how it is in college," hayden jokes with a forced laugh, "people start dating and break up in the same day."
after a couple of uncomfortable lulls in conversation, jill says, "honey, you don't have to fast," to frankie, and zach wonders if she's trying to make him feel separated from the rest of the guys, like he doesn't belong, because she clearly doesn't seem to like him.
"oh, no!" frankie insists. "even if i'm not jewish, i still want to fast with my brothers."
cody grins and claps frankie on the back. "yeah, and he wants to lose five pounds."
"i'm not the only one who could stand to lose five pounds," frankie jokes, poking cody in the side.
cody huffs. "i'm in perfect shape, okay, buddy? talk to zach; he's been eating a lot of cookies lately."
"zach looks perfect!" frankie defends, while his thumb rubs circles above the waistband of zach's jeans. zach looks at the floor with a tight lip, trying not to laugh, because he's ticklish and frankie is still touching him.
everybody in the room seems to think the exchange between the three of them was funny, but jill looks up at zach oddly, and zach is dreading the moment when she wants to talk to him alone.
"you can tell me to back off and i will." frankie stands in the kitchen with his hip leaning against the kitchen sink. he raises one hand to scratch at the back of his head, looking guilty. "i know i come on kind of strong."
zach is vigorously shaking his head before he knows what he's doing. "no, dude! it's okay."
frankie nods slowly, trying to read zach's expression. "are you okay, though? really?"
"yeah, i just-" zach starts, struggling to string his thoughts together. he's still feeling on edge and hasn't been able to calm down since what had happened with his mom mentioning wanting to set him up again. god, why can't he just pick who he wants to date himself?
frankie wraps him up in a tight, bone-crushing hug, and zach melts into it. he hadn't realized that he'd needed a hug. he burrows his face gratefully into frankie's neck and squeezes his eyes shut.
"if you need me to stick up for you in there, you'll tell me, right?" frankie asks with a quiet laugh.
"probably not," he admits.
frankie sighs. "then i guess i'll just have to pay close attention."
zach grins. "thank you, frankie. you're the man."
he finally feels a little more relaxed just knowing frankie will be keeping an eye on things for him. it's not that he's afraid of his mom, but he is afraid of disappointing her. she expects so much from him and he's always felt like he's come up short, first by having adhd, now this thing with frankie that he doesn't even understand himself. in a perfect world, his mother would be the one reassuring him with a hug, but he's still grateful that frankie is so...attentive. fuck, that makes it sound like they're dating. zach is so confused.
zach pulls back from the hug when some of his brothers come into the room, but they're all talking animatedly about how great it is to see their parents and their siblings, not paying attention to them.
"we should probably do the dishes from last night," frankie says, then leans up on his tip-toes to press three quick kisses to zach's cheek.
"zach, your mom wants to talk to you," hayden says.
zach turns around and sees her standing in the doorway with a few of the parents he doesn't know and feels himself getting anxious again. she looks at him so strangely, it's like it's the first time she's ever seen him, and zach is pretty sure she saw him doing nothing to stop frankie from kissing him.
he brings his mom to his room to talk to her. thankfully, she doesn't comment on the state of his huge pile of dirty laundry or his unmade bed. she doesn't, however, waste any time before bringing up frankie and asking if he's the reason zach doesn't want to meet the jewish girl she was going to set him up with.
"i'm not sure i understand," she says slowly, "but i saw him kissing you and touching you and i read in oprah's magazine that everybody in college experiments."
zach cringes. "i'm not experimenting. i'm - it doesn't matter. he's just a good guy."
"you know what your father would say?" jill smiles and her eyes genuinely light up for the first time since they started talking.
zach snorts. "that i need to stop thinking about dating so i can graduate with honors?"
she whacks him on the arm. "no! well, that too. but he'd tell you all about his metrosexual phase from a few years ago. now, does this boy study fashion? what does he want to be, a clothing designer?"
"what?" zach yelps. she's worse than cody with all the weird, gay stereotypes. "no! he's a biology, theater, and dance triple major."
jill's face breaks into another smile. "oh my goodness. biology? is he going to be a doctor?" she asks with stars in her eyes.
zach grimaces. "i don't know, mom! he might."
"well, you be good to that one," she says, "maybe he'll be in practice by the time your father needs his hernia checked again."
zach rolls his eyes, but feels the knot inside his chest loosen significantly. he can't wait for yom kippur weekend to be over. he's never felt so stressed out in his life, but at least it's over with now, and everything can go back to normal.
"and what's this about him being famous?" jill asks with excitement.
zach groans. maybe not completely back to normal considering the fact that frankie's fame has already brought them more pledges than they can cram into the fucking house. if that's any testament to frankie's personality, though, zach can't say he's surprised.