Nolan had a 10-page paper due Monday and was planning on spending the night at the library. True, he had taken a 3 hour late-afternoon nap, but once he grabbed something to eat he’d be on his way.
He came downstairs to find Kev and Ivan sprawled on the couch with an open pizza box in front of them on the coffee table. Nolan grabbed a slice.
“Sit down,” Kev said, folding his tree trunk legs under him to make room for Nolan on the couch. “We’re watching all of the Matrix movies in a row.”
“Nah,” Nolan said through a mouth full of cheese. “Gotta go to the library.”
“On a Thursday night? Lame,” Ivan scoffed.
There was a knock on the door and Nolan went to get it, opening the door to two random guys. The little one had a rat face and a smattering of terrible facial hair, greasy hair peeking out from underneath a knit beanie. The other one had strawberry blond hair that looked like he had slept on it and sleepy hooded eyes to match.
“Hey!” Kevin yelled from behind Nolan. “Let the dudes in!”
“Hey, I’m TK,” the little one said, stepping around Nolan easily and engaging Kevin and Ivan in elaborate handshakes.
“Sup, ‘m Beezer,” the other one mumbled.
“Okay,” Nolan said, shutting the door behind these two strangers, the first of which was currently rolling a huge joint on Kev’s stats textbook.
Kevin looked away from the baggie of weed he was holding and toward Nolan, a smile creeping across his face. “Nolaaaaaan,” he sang, “smoke with uuuuuus.”
“I gotta go to the library, man,” Nolan said, running his hand through his hair.
“Come on,” Ivan said, “stay.”
“Please!” TK looked up from the joint, licking the end of the paper to seal it. Nolan watched his tongue, the way he kept it poking out the side of his crooked mouth.
“Alright,” he grumbled. “One hit.”
Nolan got home from a long shift of not being helpful at the student center help desk. He came into the apartment through the back door, flinging his backpack and his coat across the kitchen table. He opened the fridge and stood in front of it, wondering if they should order pizza again when the smell of weed wafted in from the living room.
He followed the smell and found TK lounging on the couch with a joint in his hand. “Hey man,” TK said, his eyes looking glassy as usual.
Nolan looked around for his roommates. “Where’s Kev? And Ivan?”
“Ivan’s at what’s her name’s place-”
“Yeah, and Kev is at the computer lab.” TK took a hit from the joint and held it out to Nolan, who took it but stayed standing, the burning joint forgotten in his hand.
“But...but why are you here?”
TK gestured to the tv. “I’m watching Laverne and Shirley.”
“Do you not have a tv at your dorm or whatever?” Nolan said, handing the joint back TK, who took it with a sly smile.
“I don’t go to school here,” TK said, sitting up. “I’ll never understand why Laverne and Shirley just let Lenny and Squiggy into their apartment all the time.
“Yeah, I’d imagine that would be really annoying,” Nolan said. He felt his anger ebb away as he collapsed into a chair. TK put the joint back in Nolan’s hand.
“Do you not like Laverne and Shirley?” TK asked.
“We were more of a Kate & Allie house,” Nolan said, taking a long hit off the joint.
Nolan was in the kitchen eating cereal the next morning. Kev and Ivan were huddled around the coffeemaker, waiting for the coffee to finish brewing, when TK wandered into the kitchen.
“Hey boys,” TK said, scratching his ass through the thin material of his boxers.
Nolan smiled down at his cereal.
“Oh hey, Teeks,” Kev said, looking sideways at Ivan.
Nolan went over to the sink to rinse out his cereal bowl. TK picked up the box of Cap’n Crunch and ate a handful, ignoring the pointed looks Kev and Ivan were giving Nolan.
TK sauntered over to Nolan and placed a kiss on his shoulder. “I’ll see you later,” TK said, punctuating his comment with a smack on Nolan’s ass.
“Bye,” Nolan murmured, biting his lip so he wouldn’t smile too obviously as he washed his bowl.
“Later boys, gotta get to work,” TK called as he cruised out of the kitchen, hopefully to find a shirt and some pants.
“Does he have a job?” Ivan asked, incredulous.
“Selling weed is a job, Ivan!” TK yelled from the steps up to Nolan’s bedroom.
Kev and Ivan turned to look at Nolan, who was putting his bowl on the draining board. “What,” he said, trying to keep his voice flat but enjoying the looks on his roommates’ faces.
“Always a surprise with you, Patty,” Kev said, patting Nolan on the shoulder wearily.
“Here,” TK said, “eat this one.” He slid a small shroom across the counter toward Nolan.
“Why do I get the tiny one? I’m twice your size. I want that one.” Nolan pointed to a larger mushroom in the pile that TK was carefully cleaning.
“You’re bigger but emotionally you’re quite small,” TK said, batting away Nolan’s hand.
“Fuck you,” Nolan said. He snatched the larger shroom and popped it in his mouth.
Later, they were lying under a tree on the lawn near the library, looking up at the canopy of leaves. “Oh my god,” Nolan whispered, “it’s like the tree is breathing with me.”
“Yeah,” TK smiled, taking his hand. “And the sky is pulsing.”
“Hey guys,” Kev said from where he was clinging to the trunk of the tree, pieces of bark in his hair. “Do you think trees speak English?”
TK rolled toward Nolan, laughing, and put his hands in Nolan’s hair. “You’re so pretty.”
The back porch of the apartment was nothing more than a concrete pad and the parking space where Kev kept the shitty Ford Escort station wagon that used to be his mom’s. But Nolan and his roommates spent the last Saturday of the semester out there having a barbecue.
So maybe the camp chairs set up on the asphalt weren’t the most comfortable, but Kev and Ivan were happy to sit all afternoon wearing unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts and drinking beer. And maybe a drunk Laughts was a bad choice to grill since he used too much lighter fluid and sent up a flame that scorched the wooden divider between their porch and the porch next door. And maybe someone should have prevented Beezer from monopolizing the stereo, but he was having a great time playing nothing but Bob Marley all afternoon.
TK certainly didn’t care. He laughed as he gathered Nolan up in his arms, dancing badly up against him and singing is this love is this love is this love is this love that I’m feelin’. Nolan made a halfhearted effort to push him away but he was too delighted, his cheeks a bright pink.
“Get away from me, you fucking gremlin,” Nolan laughed. “You smell like lighter fluid.” But he still ran his hands up TK’s biceps and tickled his fingers under the straps of his tank top.
“You love it.” TK took off his backwards baseball cap and put it on Nolan’s head.
“I don’t want your gross hat,” Nolan said, trying to shake the hat off of his head. “I don’t look good in camo.”
“Sorry, princess,” TK said, a wolfish grin on his face.
“Hey, hey,” Kev shouted from his chair. He had a plate of hot dogs in his lap. Beezer grabbed one and shoved it in his mouth. “I’m trying to eat over here.”
Nolan could still hear Laughts and Beezer downstairs shouting at the guys who lived next door when they got to his room.
“Hey,” TK said, pulling his tank over his head, “are you with me?”
“Yeah,” Nolan frowned. “Just hope they don’t get in a fight out there.”
“Who cares,” TK said. He rolled onto Nolan’s bed and stretched out. “I’ll keep you busy here.”
“Oh will you?” Nolan said, rolling his eyes. But he still got undressed and laid down on the bed next to TK.
“Yeah,” TK rolled toward him, biting his neck and sliding his hand into Nolan’s boxer briefs. “Gonna make you say my name while I fuck you.”
Nolan’s hips bucked up as TK took his cock in his hand. “How am I supposed to do that when you’ve always got your fingers shoved in my mouth.”
TK gasped. “You love that, come on!”
“Yeah,” Nolan gasped, his breath catching as TK leaned down to mouth at him through his briefs.
Nolan loved everything TK did when they were in bed. He’d never fantasized about a guy twenty pounds lighter than him pinning him face-down on the bed and pulling his hair, but when TK did it he loved it. Travis was dirty, feral, but he made Nolan feel so good. That night, with TK sweaty and panting as he fucked him, Nolan didn’t need to think about the end of the semester, or the fact that he didn’t even know if TK could text him over the summer on his shitty flip phone, or if TK would be around in the fall. He just had to focus on coming when TK told him to.
“What are you doing this summer?” TK asked, his eyes shifty, even for him. They were at the taco stand in the back of the laundromat having lunch before Nolan’s last exam of the semester.
Nolan frowned and finished chewing. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Some bullshit job in my dad’s office.”
TK nodded. Nolan wasn’t even going to mention the summer, was going to leave campus tomorrow and pretend like none of this had happened. Not because he didn’t want anything, but probably because he wanted too much.
“What about you?” Nolan asked. He took a big bite of his last taco, just for something to do.
TK shrugged. “Things’ll be a little slow with all the students away so I’m thinking of going to visit some friends. You know, here and there.” He waved his hand around. “Gonna drive.”
Nolan raised his eyebrows at TK. He sounded like he was getting to something.
TK sighed dramatically and rolled his eyes. “Stupid, give me your address and I’ll come by.”
“Yeah? You gonna call first or just show up at my parents’ house in the middle of the night?”
TK shoved at Nolan’s shoulder and laughed. “I don’t know, I haven’t decided yet.”
“Fine,” Nolan said. He took a notebook out of his backpack, wrote his parents’ address on a blank page, and tore it out. “Here.” He handed the page to TK, who folded it carefully and put it in his back pocket.
“You gonna finish that taco?” TK smiled at him, all teeth and bright eyes, and reached out to inch Nolan’s plate toward him.
“It’s yours,” Nolan said. He leaned in for a kiss.