Eli's Promise Ch. 01byPS_Lopez©
I looked up to find a younger guy standing just a couple paces away from where I sat. He wore a woman's puffy fabric coat and a braid that had been queued over his right shoulder. His jeans tucked into his winter boots and he held a tray with a few dishes full of food and a glass of chocolate milk. He gave me a tentative smile.
"You mind if I sit with you?" He asked. "I kind of hate sitting alone and all my friends left after exams."
I shifted my plates around, putting my empties back on the tray in front of myself. "Go ahead," I said.
"Oh, thanks," he said, sounding relieved.
He set his tray across from mine and removed his coat to reveal a woman's sweater. Now I noticed the ribbons hanging off his hair, dark from being wet because it was raining outside but a lighter green than the cowl-neck sweater. He dropped into the chair across from me after hanging the coat on its back, then sighed before reaching over the table.
"I'm Piper," he said.
I shook his hand. "Eli," I said.
Piper grinned. "You look old enough to be near graduating," he said.
"This spring I will," I said.
He chuckled. "What's it look like from your end?" he asked, removing the paper ring from around the napkin wrapped around his silverware.
I smiled a little, poking at what little remained of my main dish. "Absolutely terrifying," I said.
"Seriously," he said, looking up at me.
"Seriously," I said. I cut a dumpling in half with my fork. "I have to leap out into the real world, get a job with my degree--I hope--and find a different place to live. College is like a womb. It takes care of you."
"What about your parents?" he asked.
I went still for a moment, then shook my head as I stabbed half the dumpling I'd cut in half. "No. I've been my own person for four years. I've been happy as my own person. I won't ask Mom and Dad for anything if I can help it."
"That's being stupidly proud," Piper said.
I chuckled. "That's something similar to what my brother says," I said. "But I've made it this far on my own, so I think I'll do okay once I graduate. The only thing I let Mom and Dad do was pay for my schooling, because they really wanted to. After that, it's all been me."
"Like what?" Piper asked.
I chuckled, glancing up to see him looking at me. "Saving for rent of an apartment when I graduate, little things like car upkeep and food. I've worked part-time the entire time I've gone to school," I said. "Dad says he's actually pretty proud of me for doing that."
"What about your brother?" Piper asked.
I scowled a little. "Didn't bother going to college," I said.
"Some animosity there?"
I shifted, tipping my head side to side in a kind of combination of a nod and shake. "Maybe on his part. More my desire for independence on my part. We're identical twins, and he has a tendency to rely on me too much--in my opinion, anyway. Wants me to do what he does, go where he goes, think what he thinks. Mom encouraged it when we were little, so proud to have identical twins and wanting us to show off."
Piper chuckled. "I can see how that would get annoying as you got older."
"Tell me about it," I muttered. When I glanced up again, I saw him smiling and chuckled. "First thing I did with money from my job was get myself a wardrobe that looks nothing like Alec's. He's classy and refined, very preppy styled. This is what I wear every day now," I said, indicating my plaid button down shirt. "He wears corduroys and khakis. I wear jeans. He gets the most expensive shoes available. I'm wearing a pair of steel toed work boots right now, and I bought them at a discount store."
Piper chuckled. I grinned and we ate a bit in silence.
"What about you?" I asked as I loaded my empty dishes onto the plate that had held my chicken and dumplings. "Any siblings?"
"Three," Piper said. "I'm in the middle. Mom and Dad were glad that I scholarshipped in. Jocelyn and Laurence didn't, and it looks like Oliver won't, either, if he even bothers going to college. That's part of the reason why I'm stuck here. They couldn't afford to get me a plane ticket home to visit."
"You're not from here?" I asked. I pushed my plate full of dishes aside and moved my dessert over and used one of my extra napkins to clean off the fork.
"No," he said. "I'm going for a language degree, and Nulte had the best I could scholarship into. I'll admit I didn't apply to every college with a good language program, but I did kind of want to be a bit further from home than just a state or two, so Nulte was actually one of the best choices I had. Far from home but not too much, excellent language program, scholarship."
I nodded. For the next half hour, we talked over our food, until I was crushing crumbs from my slice of cherry pie and Piper had been reduced to stirring the gravy of his chicken and dumplings. I didn't keep track of all we talked about, but it was so much fun I didn't want the visit to end. All my friends had gone home for the holidays as well, so having someone to talk to was rather nice.
We finally did rise and leave. Piper held the door open for me, and we exited into cold, wet air, but there was no rain. I didn't bother zipping up my coat and tucked my hands in the pockets as Piper and I fell into step beside one another, continuing our talk. We wandered around the quad for a while, separating after dark at what was apparently his dorm.
I watched him head in, then turned to go to my dorm.
I halted and turned around at the sound of Piper's shout. He jogged up to me, cell phone in his hand. He smiled.
"Give me your number," he said. Then the smile fell away and his expression twisted into uncertainty. "Unless you don't want to . . ."
"No," I said, "no, that's fine." I pulled my phone out as I gave him my number. "Could always use more friends. What's your number? What time are you up?"
"Um, probably not until around ten or eleven," he said. He gave me his number and I entered it into my phone. "So don't call me before noon."
"Okay," I said. "How about we meet at the cafeteria, then?" I asked. "Around twelve thirty."
"Okay," Piper said with a grin. "See you then."
His grin widened for a moment, then he whipped around and jogged back to his dorm. I watched him go until he disappeared inside. Well, actually, I watched his ass; he wore very tight jeans and they hugged him like a second skin.
I would have been lying to myself if I'd tried to deny that I thought Piper attractive. It wasn't the first time I'd been through this. However, I had to think of Alec. He'd be horrified if I even suggested coming out to Mom and Dad. Not only that, he'd throw a royal fit. I had to wait until the end of the school year at least, perhaps longer, but as long as I stayed here, I could do pretty much whatever I wanted, even now.
I went to my dorm, shaking my head a little. This year, unlike my previous years, I had the school holiday off work, too. I'd actually lost my job when the restaurant I'd been working closed. The new owners hadn't been putting money back into it, and I actually hadn't had a paycheck for a month since they took over.
I'd been about ready to quit when the word of the place's closing had come down, so aside from looking for another job, I didn't have anything to do this vacation, and I was ready for a break from work so I wasn't putting a whole hell of a lot of effort into getting employed again. Besides, I had more than enough saved up that I knew I could coast on the savings without worrying about having enough for an apartment when I graduated.
My phone rang as I entered my dorm, and I answered it, tucking the earpiece of my phone up under the hem of my cap without looking to see who'd called. I didn't have many friends, and my brother had already made today's petition for me to go home for the holidays so it wouldn't be him.
"Hey," I said as I entered, pulling the door shut behind me. I waved at the RA, who sat in a corral in one of the windowless room's corners with a book in her hands.
"Hey, Eli," Piper's voice said, and I grinned. "I hate to seem pushy, but I'm bored out of my mind . . . "
I chuckled. I'd told him my roommate had left behind a TV and wealth of DVDs for the duration of the holidays. Piper didn't have similar, and there were enough others staying over for the holidays in his dorm that him getting a chance at watching what he wanted on TV wasn't likely before ten at night.
"Come on over," I said. "Pack a change of clothes, even. We can watch movies all night and I'll put some clean sheets on Karl's bed so you can sleep there. He won't mind."
"Oh, really?" Piper said and I could hear the smile in his voice. "Oh, thanks. I'll be there in about half an hour."
"Okay," I said.
I took the elevator up to my floor as I put my phone away. Once in my room, I straightened things up, making Karl's bed with a set of my sheets and making sure that at least my half of the closet looked neat. Karl's looked like a tornado struck it, so I couldn't do much with it except keep the door closed. I checked the bathroom to make sure things looked clean and had to clean the toilet a bit. I had just closed the bathroom door when someone knocked on my room's door.
"Hi," Piper said, grinning and raising his hand in a splayed-finger wave when I opened it.
I chuckled. "Come in," I said.
He had a backpack with him and looked at me questioningly, holding it out a little. I pointed to my desk and he set his pack with mine while I shut and locked the door. I crossed to the mini fridge Karl had moved in with and took out a couple cans of soda.
"That's my bed," I said, indicating the one further from the door.
Karl and I had arranged them so the feet were closest together, heads at either end of the room, long sides against the wall with the windows. My roommate had somehow either purchased or found a portion of a sectional sofa without armrests and that had gotten tucked in between the feet of our beds; Piper dropped into that.
I took the sodas across the room and passed one to Piper before crawling onto my bed. After dropping down to a seated position, I opened my soda.
"You may choose the movie and set everything up," I said. "Whatever you want. I think I've seen Karl's whole movie collection twice over the past few months, so it doesn't matter to me."
"Okay," Piper said, rising.
While he was across the room, I dropped into the chair. Really, the thing must have come from a sofa that was mostly dead already because it was flat; it had also come without three of its four feet. That didn't mean it was uncomfortable, though, it just meant that once weight settled in the seat, the person seated in it could use the beds as armrests, and this I did.
Piper chose a movie and put it in, then turned, remotes in hand, and frowned. "Hey, you took my spot," he said.
I grinned and chuckled. "Yeah," I said. "Room rules."
He crossed over, set his soda and the remotes on the floor, and collected the pillows from the beds, dropping them at the foot of Karl's bed, on my left.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
Instead of replying, Piper settled in my lap and scooted down until his legs folded on my bed. He scrambled for the remotes and put them on his abdomen, then arranged the pillows behind his head until he felt comfortable. I chuckled and picked up the DVD player remote to start the movie.
"Put subtitles on," Piper said.
"Okay," I muttered, doing so.
Piper wiggled in my lap a bit, then sighed and used the TV's remote to adjust the sound. Thankfully, the movie's opening music started out soft so we weren't blasted out by it, and he lowered it as it got louder. Silence, aside from the movie, settled between us, and we watched the first half hour or so of the movie without distraction.
"Eli," Piper said at one point.
"Yeah?" I asked, looking at him.
He turned his head to look at me. "You're either gay, or really, really easy going," he said.
I chewed my lower lip a little. "Both," I said.
"Ah," he said, nodding, and returned his attention to the movie.
I looked at where my arms lay on his abdomen, fingers woven; I'd already finished my soda and the empty can lay on my bed.
"You're the first person I've told I'm gay," I said.
Piper's head turned around again and he regarded me with a solemn expression. "Why?" he asked.
I shrugged a little. "No one's ever asked, I've never wanted to date--well, no, I have wanted to date, but I'm afraid of ruining things for Alec--and you're so comfortable around me."
"You haven't even told your brother?" he asked.
I chuckled. "Oh, Alec knows," I said. "We don't discuss it, though. It's a taboo subject he shut down about when we were fourteen. He plays at being straight."
"What about you?" Piper asked. "Do you?"
I shook my head. "Just never dated anybody. I concentrated on my schoolwork," I said. "Since I'd decided I wanted to go to college when I was pretty young, using wanting to get good grades was the perfect excuse, especially since I've always struggled to get good grades."
"Were you . . . hoping something would happen with me?" Piper asked.
"Not really," I said. "It's just nice to have someone to hang out with."
"Ah," he said, nodding, and turned his attention back to the TV.
I looked at him for a little longer, then forced myself to watch the movie.
I didn't wake up alone, though I knew perfectly well that I fell asleep that way. No, I found myself tucked up against the wall, Piper's back pressed against my chest. His hair had come loose, but the ribbon that had been at the top of his braid remained, now looking knotted into place. I regarded his straight, dark brown hair from where I lay with my face pressed into the gathered mass of it where it rested between our heads. It smelled good, though I couldn't put a name to the scent.
My left arm hung over his waist and shifting just a little revealed the time on my watch. Almost ten thirty. I sighed and extricated myself. Sure, being behind Piper was a great turn-on, but I wanted to piss before things went too far.
Not that I expected anything to happen between us. Piper and I spent the night switching in the chair, and he'd managed to coax me into his lap at one point. Even now, as I scuffed my socked feet across the floor to the bathroom, I didn't know why I'd resisted. It wasn't like Piper had been suggesting everything. It had all been done in playfulness, with his complete ease in it all.
When I came out of the bathroom, I found him curled up under my blankets. Since I didn't plan on returning to bed, I collected all but one of the blankets from Karl's bed and spread them on Piper, then wrapped myself up with a book, cuddled on the chair. There wasn't much light coming in, but there was just enough for me to read, so I did that until I felt something poking my upper arm. I looked at Piper.
He looked miffed. "What are you doing up?" he asked.
"I had to piss," I said.
"Come back to bed. I'm cold," he said.
I chuckled. "No," I said. "I'm reading."
"But I'm cold," he said, pouting.
I laughed. "You've got every blanket in the room."
"I'm coo-oold," he whined.
I looked at him, unable to be irritated. I could see the smile on his face, though he hid it. It crinkled the outer corners of his eyes.
"I'm reading," I said, raising the book I held.
He half sat up, reaching toward me. "Okay, give it here. I'll read it to you. Just cuddle up behind me. I'm freezing my ass off."
I sighed, rising. "Would it help if I adjusted the thermostat on the heat?" I asked.
"No, it would help if you got back into bed with me," Piper said.
"Piper," I said, now starting to get irritated.
He took the book from my hand when I reached that end of the bed. I looked down at him, sighing. The thermostat was right above my bed, but I put my hands on my hips instead, gazing at him.
"This isn't a ploy for sex, is it?" I asked.
"Psh," he said, waving that away with my book. "Of course not. I really am freezing my ass off. Come on."
I sighed and adjusted the thermostat. "If you got up and moved around you'd warm up," I said.
"Yeah, but I don't want to," he said, putting my book down, face open on the pillow. He grabbed my right hand when it lowered into his territory. "Come on."
I sighed and climbed over him into bed. Once again, I got a face full of his hair and I spent a few seconds pushing it up against his head. Then I drew it down his back with my fingers, folding my right arm under my head.
"Well? You going to read that?" I asked.
"Demanding," he said pertly.
"Me?" I asked. "I'm not the one who coaxed me back into bed."
"Okay, okay," he muttered. "That feels good, what you're doing. Don't stop."
I laughed. "Demanding!" I said.
"Shut up," Piper said. "Or I won't read."
"Okay, shutting up."
He chuckled and shifted, tucking more pillow under his head, and read. I closed my eyes, listening to his voice as I combed my fingers through his hair. When my arm got tired, I laid it on my side over the covers and Piper paused in reading to wiggle closer to me. This put not only his back against my chest but his ass against my groin, and I'd already gotten pretty turned on with laying like this. I couldn't shift any further away, either, but he said nothing about my distinct erection, so I decided that it would probably be wise not to say anything about it.
We lay like this for a while, Piper reading to me. I smiled a little for the duration, actually quite enjoying it. Nobody had read to me since I was a little kid, and he had a pleasant voice. Not like Dad's, but just as nice in its own way, and he did like Dad always did and read dialogue with emotion. At times, he'd go completely quiet, and I'd hear pages turn, then he'd pick up reading from where he'd left off. It took a couple of those instances for me to figure out he was reading ahead to see what would happen so he could insert emotion into the dialogue.
I went back to finger combing his hair intermittently.
"You're like a furnace," he said once during a silent period of reading ahead.
"Thanks," I said, a little ruefully, imagining that I could expect to hear something like this from most future boyfriends.
"You're welcome," Piper said.
I chuckled a little, pulling my fingers through his hair.
"What's funny?" he asked.
"You," I said on another chuckle.
"What about me?" he asked.
I laughed. "It's hard to explain," I said, wrapping my hand around where the ribbon tied his hair to throw the pony tail over his left shoulder. Refusing to really put any consideration into what I was doing, I kissed the back of his neck. "But it's not mocking laughter."
"I didn't think it was," he said. "I just wondered why you were laughing."
He sighed and started reading again. I ran my left hand over his back. He wore a tee shirt, and I spent several seconds trying to tug the wrinkles out of it to no avail. He tossed his hair back over his shoulder and I tossed it over again. He chuckled and didn't toss it again. I grinned. He fell silent and I listened to pages turn.
"Want to do anything in particular today?" I asked.
"Are you asking me on a date?" Piper asked.
I opened my mouth to say "no," then changed my mind. "Yeah," I said.
"You're serious?" he asked.
"Yeah," I said. "Why shouldn't I be?"
"Because you've never been out with a guy before?" he suggested.
I shrugged my left shoulder, tracing my fingers over his back. "So?" I said. "That doesn't mean I haven't wanted to date."
"And you want to date me?"
"Yeah," I said. "Why shouldn't I?"
I heard pages crumple. "Well . . ."
I waited while the silence went on. When he didn't speak after a minute, I grasped his shoulder and shook him.