Feeling Comfortable in My Own Skin

Don't Rain On My Parade

This semester, Aiden and I had worked it so we had three classes together, but unfortunately we couldn’t arrange our entire schedule this way.  Having more classes together allowed us additional opportunities to study together as well, but even though I was going to be studying with Aiden more, it still wasn’t the best part.  That honor fell to the fact that I was no longer afraid or embarrassed to walk around campus holding Aiden’s hand or kissing him in public before we went off in different directions. 

We would frequently walk down hallways or between buildings holding hands and we always gave each other a goodbye kiss before we parted ways.  It didn’t seem to matter if we were in a building or out in the open, because I was no longer concerned or worried about who saw us or what they thought.  I knew if they didn’t like it, I didn’t give a damn.  They could either look in the other direction or learn to accept us for whom we are.  If they got so upset that they tried to do something about it, I was confident we could defend ourselves or help protect each other. 

Another thing I’ve noticed is that the second semester seems to be going by a lot faster than the first did.  This is probably due to the fact that we don’t have as many adjustments to make and are more at ease about being here, well at least I am.  Aiden has always been more comfortable with campus life and what we’re doing, so I guess I'm now the only one who doesn't have as many hang-ups. 

Besides studying together, Aiden is also continuing to work with me on the martial arts training and keeps praising my progress.  Even though I never thought I could do this in the beginning, I have to admit I now look forward to these lessons and working out with him on a nearly daily basis. 

Gavin also came to visit us again near the middle of the semester and we had just as much fun as we did the first time he’d showed up.  We spent the entire weekend just acting crazy, enjoying our time together and having lots of laughs. 

On Saturday night, after Gavin had taken us out to eat, he talked us into finding someplace we could go to have a couple of drinks, listen to some music and just basically have a good time.  Since Aiden and he didn’t want to merely stay and drink at the restaurant, Aiden told us that he’d heard one of the frat houses was throwing a kegger and we’d only have to pay a cover charge to get in.  Since he’d suggested we might want to check it out, we talked it over and decided it didn’t sound like a bad idea.  We could easily drink enough beer to break even on the cover charge and we’d still be in walking distance of our dorm, so we agreed to give it a try.

When we first got there, we appraised what was going on from the outside first, to determine if it looked as if it was something we really wanted to do.  After we concluded it looked like it might be fun, Aiden paid the cover charge for each of us.  Gavin and I offered to pay him back, but he wouldn’t take our money.  Since we weren’t about to argue with him, we graciously thanked him and headed through the door. 

Once we were inside, Gavin was like a bloodhound and immediately sniffed out the keg.  After quickly pouring and handing each of us a beer, we began to drink and check out who else was here.  While I was doing this, I suddenly began to feel very uncomfortable.  This started when I overheard another group of guys talking, off to our left.  It wasn’t as if I was trying to listen in, but they were fairly close by and talking loudly enough for me to pick up on what they were saying. 

“Hey, J.R., isn’t that queer who knocked you around when you smashed into his boyfriend,” I heard one of them say.  “Maybe you should get the fuck out of here before he comes looking for you again." 

Without even turning to see any of their faces, I realized whom the guy was talking too.  I was certain it was the same asshole that Aiden and I had the encounter with at the beginning of the school year.  The only thing I didn’t know was if the J.R. referred to the guy’s initials or if it was their way of referring to him because he’d been named after his father - you know Jr. 

“Shut the fuck up,” J.R. snapped back.  “He just got lucky that day, that’s all.  He knows some karate shit and I just wasn’t ready for him to pull that on me.  I also had other things on my mind at the time, so I wasn’t really paying attention to what he was doing.  I was pissed because I couldn’t stay in that class and it meant I was going to end up taking an early morning class instead.  I knew that’s all that would be left open, since the class schedules were set, and you know how I hate getting up early to go to class.  I was just really pissed about that and not thinking clearly, so I wasn’t ready when he pulled that kung fu shit on me.  He may have gotten away with it then, but he won’t be so lucky the next time.  Come on, we came here to have fun, so let’s not ruin it by spending our time thinking about some fucking homo." 

“Yeah, J.R.’s probably right and the guy just got lucky,” another voice teased.  “The fag probably had a bad case of ‘hormonal’ rage when he saw J.R. touch his boyfriend.  You know how some bitches get all defensive and fight to protect their turf." 

“Yeah, he must have misinterpreted what J.R. was doing when he ‘hit on’ his boyfriend,” another joked, and that comment was followed by another round of laughter. 

“Man J.R., why the fuck are you acting so jumpy.  I’m beginning to think you’re scared of him,” one of the others commented, in a derogatory tone.  “How the fuck can you be a football and lacrosse player but still let some fucking pansy kick your ass?" 

“I’m not scared of him and he didn’t kick my ass,” J.R. shot back, “but I’m not gonna spend the night thinking about him either.  I came here to drink and maybe find some pussy I can tap." 

“Are you sure you don’t mean some ass?’ someone else joked, and J.R. glared at him. 

I heard a lot more laughter after that comment and J.R.’s friends kept making more comments about Aiden getting the better of him that day.  I tried my best not to get involved in their childish banter or appear as if I was listening, but then I realized that Aiden and Gavin had also overheard what they were saying. 

Once I realized this, I suggested maybe we should go somewhere else and avoid a potential confrontation, but Aiden and Gavin were adamant that we weren’t going anywhere.  They insisted they weren’t about to start anything, but if those assholes decided to, then the three of us would definitely defend ourselves. 

That wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear, because I didn’t want the evening to devolve into a brawl, but Aiden and Gavin weren’t about to leave.  Luckily, after several more minutes of harassing J.R. about what had happened back at the beginning of the year, he and his friends got up and moved somewhere else.  When I saw them go out the back door, I wondered if they were just going outside for some fresh air and to do their drinking there, or if they were planning something else.  I was slightly concerned that they might try sneaking around to the front of the frat house and then wait for us to leave, so they could jump us on the way out. 

I mentioned my concern to Aiden, but he told me not to worry about it.  He said he could tell J.R.’s friends weren’t about to try anything themselves and were just having some fun busting J.R.’s balls.  That’s when Gavin entered in to the discussion.  He said J.R. was obviously just some homophobic jock/goon, but we shouldn’t be too pissed at him.  This comment caused Aiden and I to look at him oddly, so he clarified his comment by adding that J. R. had sort of been the one who had introduced Aiden and I in the first place. 

After we understood what he was getting at, we had a chuckle over his unique observation about that initial situation.  In an odd way, he might have been partially correct.  Even though Aiden said he would have still found a way to get to know me better, I wasn’t so sure how I would have reacted to him if that incident hadn’t occurred.  Knowing how I was back then, I might have been too shy, or too stupid, to respond to his advances. 

We stayed at the frat party for another hour and talked to a few others we had met previously.  Some of these people had either been in one of our classes or we’d run into them downtown before, but they were all fairly friendly.  Aiden and I even slow-danced with each other before we decided to leave and no one made any comments about what we were doing.  It was kind of nice to be able to do this in public, especially after I was first worried about how badly this night might end up. 

Later, as we made our way out of the frat house and began to head back to our dorm, I kept an eye out for J.R. and his friends, but I didn’t see them anywhere.  After a few more minutes of this scrutiny, I realized they must still be out behind the frat house or they had already gone back to their dorms, so I breathed a sigh of relief and began to pay attention to what Aiden and Gavin were saying.  I’m certainly glad I was wrong about their intentions, but I really had been worried that J.R.’s friends would goad him into trying to get even tonight and I certainly didn't want anything like that to happen. 

When we got back to the dorm, none of us felt like doing anything else so we just crashed.  We weren’t drunk, although my head was spinning a little, but I’m not sure if that was due to the beer or the result of my getting so worked up when I listened in on J.R. and his friends’ conversation.  Whichever the case, it took me a while before I was able to fall asleep. 

The next day we kind of avoided talking about the previous night.  Instead, we went over to the small gym and worked out for a bit and then Gavin decided it was time for him to head back to his campus.  As I watched him take off, it made me wish he was going to school here as well.  I’d love to have him around all the time, because his unconventional perspective on things can certainly make me laugh, but I'm glad he's happy where he is too. 

As the semester wore on, I was gaining more and more confidence in myself, which translated into better grades, greater self-esteem and a better self-awareness.  I’m not sure if the classes were easier this semester or if it was just that I had become more accustomed to the difference between high school and college.  Whatever the reason, it was certainly good to feel that I could actually do this now. 

I really didn’t think life could get any better than this, but then Aiden told me he wanted to start making plans for us to spend more time together this summer.  At first I was thrilled about the idea of spending the summer with him, but then my opinion changed completely.  That’s because I was totally floored when he suggested he also wanted to come home with me too, so he could also spend some time with my family.  I had the feeling that once he met my parents and saw how I lived he’d quickly take off and head in the other direction, which meant I’d never see him again.  Due to my misgivings, I spent a great deal of time thinking about how I was going to handle this. 

I believe Aiden sensed my reluctance about this idea, but he remained insistent.  He kept reassuring me that no matter what happened it wouldn’t affect our relationship, but I wasn’t so sure.  After calling home and speaking to my parents about this, I discovered they were eager to have him come to the house too, so they could meet and get to know him.  Now, I felt as if I was caught between a rock and a hard place, so I relented.  I hope I don’t come to regret this decision later. 

In an effort to keep from worrying about what might happen during his visit, I totally immersed myself in my schoolwork, the workouts with Aiden and our special time together.  I can’t say I was able to block it out completely, because these concerns still occasionally drifted into my thoughts, but for the most part I was able to keep from panicking over what MIGHT happen. 

As the next weekend approached, I decided to focus all of my attention on having some alone time with Aiden.  He and I had just finished our last class of the day, which we happened to have together, and were walking back to our dorm.  We had agreed to drop our things off at the room and spend a little time making out first, before we walked over to the dining hall to eat.  We had just turned the final corner leading to our residence hall and began to walk along the last stretch of sidewalk leading to the main entrance when I heard a dull thud and saw Aiden slump forward.  He landed, motionless, on the ground in front of me. 

I immediately bent down to see what was wrong when I caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of my eye.  I quickly looked in that direction and was able to duck just in time to avoid being struck in the head by a baseball bat.  When I focused on the culprit, to discern who was attacking me, I recognized the face of J.R. – the same big oaf Aiden had made look foolish after he had knocked me over after our first psych class. 

"What the hell are you doing?" I screamed. 

“Don’t tell me you thought your little faggy boyfriend could make me look bad like that and there wouldn’t be any consequences for it,” he spat out.  “If you did, then you were wrong and you’re about to pay for that mistake now. 

“Fuck, that happened ages ago,” I responded, “and you started it – we didn't." 

“It may have happened at the beginning of the first semester and I might have been the one who knocked you over,” J.R. explained, “but my friends have been ragging on me about it ever since and their harassment has gotten much worse since you fucking faggots started holding hands and kissing each other out in the open." 

I quickly glanced at Aiden again and could tell he was in pain.  He was moaning and trying to get up, but he wasn’t being very successful.  I concluded J. R. must have hit him with the bat first, so I prayed he hadn't hit Aiden in the head. 

“And you think that by attacking us from behind with a bat is going to make you look better and stop your friends from saying things to you?" I shouted, as I turned my attention back to our attacker. 

“I don’t know and I don’t care,” he answered.  “All I’m sure of is that I’ll be able to tell them I whipped his ass and it will make me feel much better.  Maybe it will even get rid of you queers at the same time." 

I noticed we were beginning to attract attention, so I thought I’d use this fact against him. 

“So you’re going to show all these others that you don’t dare take me on without that fucking bat?" I challenged. 

“I don’t need anything to help me finish you off, shrimp,” he replied, while using the same derisive term for me that he had during our first altercation. 

"Then prove it!" I dared him. 

"It's your funeral," J.R. shot back, as his eyes bore into me. 

I stood up just as he threw the bat off to the side.  Almost as soon as it he the ground, J.R. stepped toward me and threw a big roundhouse punch.  I was able to block it with my left forearm, but damn did that hurt.  There was a lot more force behind the blow than I’d expected, so even though his punch didn’t really connect with my body, it still threw me off balance. 

“Leave him alone!  He’s much smaller than you are!” I heard someone else shout. 

“Mind your own fucking business,” J.R. spat back, as he turned slightly in the speaker’s direction so he could flash him a menacing glare. 

That person may not have stopped the motherfucker from attacking me, but his intervention did allow me time to recover and make a move of my own.  Just as the asshole was turning back to face me again, I drove my right foot into his stomach with a side kick and it knocked the wind out of him.  Without lowering my leg, I drew it back and then sent it flying forward again.  This time my foot sank into his gonads and caused him to buckle over in pain, while he was still trying to catch his breath from the first blow.  Since I didn’t wish to waste this opportunity, I moved closer, grabbed J.R.’s head and pulled it down, so I could lift my knee forcefully into his face.  I could see blood spurting from his nose and mouth when his head was forced upward from the contact and just before he crumpled to the ground, face down. 

“I’ve called the campus cops,” someone informed me, “but I guess you don’t need them now.  We saw that he started this and you were just defending yourself, so do you want us to stick around until they get here." 

“Yeah, I think it might be wise if I had witnesses to confirm what happened here,” I answered.  “I want to press charges against this son-of-a-bitch for striking my boyfriend with the bat, so having corroboration will definitely help with that." 

After saying this, it suddenly reminded me that Aiden was still lying on the ground, so I quickly moved over to where he was sprawled out and spoke. 

“Are you ok?” I asked, concerned.  He only groaned in response, while barely moving. 

"Aiden, where did he hit you?" I pressed, as I stared into his face. 

I still only heard a few more groans, but I didn’t dare move him.  I was afraid doing that might make matters worse, so I got on the ground beside him and placed my head next to his. 

“Oh, my poor baby,” I choked out, as I felt the tears forming in my eyes.  "What did he do to you?" 

“Back,” Aiden wheezed with a labored breath, but hearing how he responded made me realize he probably had the wind knock out of him from the blow. 

"He hit you in the back?" I repeated, to clarify his statement. 

"Yes," he gasped out. 

“Ok, just remain still until help gets here,” I advised him, just before a campus cop pulled up in his car. 

“Would you call for an ambulance?” I yelled to him, as he stepped out of his vehicle. 

“No problem,” he replied, and he ducked his head back inside the car and called his dispatcher on the radio. 

“Ok, kid.  One’s on the way,” he told me, after making the call.  “What happened here?" 

I quickly told him my story, supported by the others who had stayed around to help.  Hearing what we’d had to say, his next move was to go over and handcuff J.R.'s arms behind his back. 

“How the hell did you take him down,” he asked, after he first eyed J.R. and then me. 

"I've had a little training, thank God," I replied. 

When the ambulance arrived, I told the campus cop I was going to ride with Aiden to the hospital and he could either come there to take my statement or I’d drop by the campus security office later to take care of everything.  He told me he had enough information from me for now and he’d take the witnesses’ statements next and then catch up with me afterward.  I thanked him and then jumped in the ambulance to ride to the hospital with Aiden.  It was déjà vu of the flu incident before Christmas break.