tagGay MalePopular Ch. 02

Popular Ch. 02

byGryffindor©

Hayden stretched his body as his alarm clock rang out incessantly. He had placed it on his computer desk, and that meant if he wanted to turn it off then he'd have to get out of bed and walk over to it. One last groan slipped from Hayden's lips as he slid out of bed and over to the alarm. The room was filled with a comforting silence the moment his finger flicked the off button on the clock.

Hayden walked over to his closet and opened the door. He stood for a few moments and stared at his body in the full-length mirror that hung on the back of the door. Hayden critically inspected every inch of his body, which was fairly easy to do since he slept in his underwear. After a few minutes he began to stretch in preparation for his morning workout.

His morning ritual began during his first year of high school. Hayden hadn't been very overweight when he was younger, but he had certainly been inactive. After a few months worth of teasing from fellow students in school Hayden had begun working out every morning. At first the workouts were an effort to get his schoolmates off of his back, but after a few months his self-confidence had begun to grow. Hayden had continued working out after that for his own pleasure and stopped worrying about what people thought. It was just a few years later that the harsh reality of the importance of what other people thought crashed back into his life.

After twenty minutes a light sheen of sweat covered his body, and Hayden pushed back some locks of hair that had stuck to his forehead. He pulled his robe out of the closet and grabbed his toiletries kit off of his desk. Hayden made sure to grab his room key and put it in the robe's pocket. He certainly didn't want to get locked out of his dorm room. Hayden quietly entered the dorm's hallway and moved towards the communal bathroom.

A sigh of relief passed through him as he saw that the bathroom was empty. One of his biggest fears of dorm life was having to share the bathroom facilities with a whole floor of guys. The fear was intense enough to make him clutch the oversized robe tightly around his body. Hayden forced himself to relax and started to get ready for his first real day of college. The only thing on his schedule for the day was freshman orientation. The college started their freshman classes a week later than everyone else to allow the new students an opportunity to settle in to their new lives.

The hot shower helped to ease some of Hayden's tight muscles and nervous mind. He quickly dried off and pulled his robe back on. Hayden didn't bother doing anything with his hair except for running a brush through it when he was back in his room. He just wasn't concerned about how he looked, and was comfortable for once, inside in his own skin. Hayden pulled on a pair of cargo shorts and a t-shirt. His clothes limply hung off of his tall frame, but Hayden wasn't concerned about it. He was comfortable, and that was all that mattered to him. Hayden checked the time as he put his watch on. He decided to skip breakfast to make sure he got to orientation on time. With his wallet and dorm key safely in his pocket Hayden headed out to start his college life.

A few hours later Hayden's stomach was groaning loudly in protest. He hadn't realized that orientation would end up taking so long, and he regretted the fact that he skipped breakfast. Hayden had memorized the layout of the school during orientation and was heading towards the cafeteria as fast as possible. The ten-minute walk seemed to take much longer than usual to his undernourished stomach. Hayden had to show his newly acquired student I.D. card as he entered the cafeteria and was finally able to get his much needed lunch.

Hayden carried his tray, with his burger and fries on it, into the large seating area in the cafeteria. His eyes scanned the tables quickly before he moved towards the back to an empty table. Hayden didn't mind eating alone; in fact he wasn't concerned about making new friends. He planned on enjoying his newfound independence. Hayden had just taken a bite out of his burger when someone stepped up to the table.

"Do you mind if we join you?"

Hayden nearly choked on his burger as his glanced up into a pair of beautiful dark green eyes, Leo's eyes. Hayden wondered for a moment why he remembered Leo's name, but quickly pushed the thought from his mind. He told himself that it was just his nearly photographic memory kicking in, and the fact the guy ran him down yesterday. Hayden quickly swallowed the food that was in his mouth so he could answer.

"Sure. If you really want to join me." Hayden quietly replied.

The grin that appeared on Leo's face was dazzling, if anything. Hayden recognized the other two people sitting down at the table as Leo's friends from yesterday. He was very curious as to why these three people chose to sit down at his table, especially when there were plenty of empty tables to choose from.

"In case you don't remember, I'm Leo Warner, the klutz that knocked you down yesterday." Leo said as he sat down.

"I'm sure he remembers, Leo. How many times does the world's largest pig run you down like a Mac truck?" The girl that sat down flashed Hayden a gorgeous smile. "I'm Alexis Covington by the way. I figured since Mr. Warner here forgot his manners I would just introduce myself, but you can call me Lexie."

"Thanks, Lexie." Hayden offered her a shy smile. "I'm..."

"Hayden Taylor, we know. Leo filled us in on that yesterday." Hayden's attention was pulled towards the last person at their table. He seemed a bit cocky, and his interruption of Hayden confirmed that. "I'm Noah Radcliff. If you wanted to seek any damages against Warner I could recommend a few good attorneys to you."

"Nah. I don't see any point in that. It was my own fault anyways." Hayden's deep baritone voice was soft, and it flowed over his fellow lunch mates. "I tend to zone out sometimes, ya know?"

"Seems like you found your match, Leo." Lexie's laughter was very infectious, even though Hayden wasn't sure what she was referring to. Her words implied one thing, but as Hayden looked into her eyes, well, that was a different story. "He has the attention span of a gnat, Hayden. IF he ever listened to me, and would pay attention more like I tell him all the time, then he wouldn't have knocked you flat on your back yesterday."

"If I listened to you all the time, twin, I wouldn't even be here." Leo stuck his tongue out at her. He turned back to Hayden and grinned. "She tried to tell me back in kindergarten that a bottle of glue was vanilla pudding. Thankfully the teacher overheard her."

"You really shouldn't blame me for you being gullible." Lexie's mouth turned down into a cute pout.

"She does have a point." Hayden replied with a small smile.

"Hey! Whose side are you on?" Leo playfully glared at him.

"The side that won't be knocking me down any time soon." Hayden glared back at Leo.

Lexie was surprised when Leo had suggested sitting at Hayden's table this morning. Leo was an amazing friend, and was practically her brother, but he wasn't one to go out of his way to make new friends. Though that really isn't as bad as it may sound. Leo had that type of personality that people were just drawn to him. She had never seen him go out of his way to make friends with someone before.

Throughout lunch Lexie watched the play in conversation between Hayden and Leo. Leo's magic was definitely working on Hayden. She could see him slowly coming out of his shell as Leo talked to him. Her best friend's charm and charisma never ceased to amaze her. She glanced over at her boyfriend and saw him watching Hayden. It was almost like Noah was cataloging him or something. She let all of this sink into her mind for later. Lexie would definitely be talking to Leo and Noah that night. Something was going on, she could practically feel it.

"We were planning on hanging out tonight. Did you want to join us, Hayden?" Leo asked with another dazzling grin.

Hayden was surprised at the invitation to say the least. He had thought they were just sharing a meal, and he hadn't thought it would go beyond that. What was more surprising to him though, was that he was actually considering it. Wasn't he just enjoying the thought of being on his own?

Suddenly that line of thinking seemed a bit lonely. For some strange reason he couldn't help being drawn to these three people. For the first time, in a very long time, someone seemed interested in just being his friend. A friendship that wasn't based on his appearance or other complicated things in his life.

"That sounds like fun." Hayden finally replied with a smile.

Leo had been worried for a minute when Hayden didn't immediately respond. He had the feeling that Hayden was carrying around a lot of sadness, and for a moment he forgot about the bet. He was determined to make Hayden smile, really smile that night, if it was the last thing he ever did. Leo couldn't help but smile at Hayden when he agreed to go out.

"It will be lots of fun. I can guarantee that!" Leo replied with a laugh. "What dorm are you in?"

"I'm over in Wilsher Hall." Hayden replied.

"Noah and I are right next door to you in Campfield Hall." Leo said with another grin. "Lexie is across the Court in Jackson Hall."

"Why don't we all meet up at the fountain at eight?" Lexie asked. "We can decide from there what our plans for the evening are. Though I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel like shaking my ass tonight." Leo opened his mouth to say something, but Lexie was too quick for him. Her hand shot out and covered his mouth before he could say anything. "You just keep your comments to yourself for once, mister."

Hayden smiled at the antics of his new friends, well if he could call them that at this point. Leo's penetrating green eyes locked with Hayden's again, and there was so much mischief in them Hayden couldn't stop the chuckle that escaped from his mouth. Almost immediately Lexie made an odd noise and yanked her hand way from Leo like it was on fire.

"I can not even believe that you just licked my hand." Lexie slowly pressed her wet palm against Leo's cheek and wiped it off. "Someone really needs to housebreak you."

The four of them headed out of the cafeteria after they finished their lunches and hung around the Court for an hour or two. They shared different stories and jokes with each other, but Leo and Lexie quickly realized that Hayden didn't offer up much information about himself at all. Whenever they tried to ask him anything he casually deflected their questions and started off on a new topic. The two of them shared a glance with each other and knew that Hayden's past couldn't have been a good one.

"It was great hanging out with everyone today." Hayden said with a yawn. "I'm still getting used to East Coast time. I think I'll grab a nap before we go out tonight."

"That sounds like a great plan actually." Lexie replied. "I think I'll do that myself. Classes were a total bitch today."

Hayden smiled at the three of them and headed back towards his dorm. He was definitely surprised at the turn of events that happened today, but if he admitted it to himself he was happy about it. Leo and Lexie seemed like really great people, and Noah wasn't too bad. He was just a bit too snobby for Hayden's taste. He had almost reached Wilsher Hall when he heard someone call out his name.

"I'm glad I was able to catch up with you." Noah said slightly out of breath from his run. "I wanted to talk to you real quick."

"Sure. What's up?" Hayden curiously asked.

"I don't want this to come out the wrong way..." Noah paused and smiled at Hayden. "It's just that...well...our group comes from a pretty fortunate background. I just wanted to let you know that you're hanging out with what could be considered a pretty popular group of people. I thought you might want to...dress up a bit for tonight."

Hayden glanced down at what he was wearing and didn't really see anything wrong with it. It wasn't until he really looked at what Noah was wearing before reality set in on him. Noah had on a brand name polo-style top and a pair of expensive jean shorts. As Hayden glanced down and saw the three hundred dollar pair of sneakers Noah was wearing he realized how out of place he must have looked with the three of them today.

"Please don't take what I'm saying the wrong way. Leo, Lexie, and I could really care less." Noah placed his hand on Hayden's shoulder. "Not everyone on this campus can be nice, and I just didn't want anything to be said to you tonight to ruin your fun. A lot of people are jealous of us, and I wouldn't want you to be put into a position that would make you uncomfortable."

Hayden's first instinct was that Noah was just being a snob, but after hearing his explanation Hayden realized that Noah was right. God, he felt so stupid. He couldn't believe that he actually thought for even a second that Noah was putting him down. Hayden felt lucky that one of his new friends were that concerned about him.

"Thanks, Noah. I really appreciate it." Hayden's smile was a genuine one. "I would have been uncomfortable, and I wouldn't want to embarrass any of you. I'll make sure that I'm dressed to impress tonight."

"I'm so glad that you understand, buddy." Noah patted him on the back. "Make sure you get some good rest because we are going to party hard tonight."

Hayden smiled as he watched Noah head over to his own dorm. He was relieved that Noah took the chance to catch him and talk to him. He didn't want to embarrass his new friends in any way. Hayden headed into his dorm and quickly went to his room. He pulled out the suitcases from under his bed and opened them up.

"Looks like it was a good thing that this shit got sent." Hayden said out loud as he looked down at the suitcases.

Hayden went over to his closet and pulled everything out and placed it on the bed. Everything that was in the suitcases quickly took up the entire closet space. He put the now discarded clothing into the suitcases and slid them back under the bed. As Hayden was closing the closet door he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. After a few moments Hayden decided that a nap was definitely out of the question.

*

The sun was just beginning to set as Lexie made her way onto the Court and started towards the fountain. She was definitely going to talk the guys into going dancing that night. Lexie had put on a deep red mid-drift top that tied around her neck and with her tight low-rise jeans it showed off her taut, toned stomach. Her stylish, but comfortable, boots made a light clicking sound that echoed in the silence as she walked along the pathway.

Lexie had called Leo earlier that evening and tried to find out what his sudden fascination in Hayden was. He had seamlessly played it off as a guilty conscience for plowing Hayden into the ground, but she knew her best friend better than she knew herself. Lexie had her suspicions about the situation, but she decided to just let Leo off the hook, at least for the moment. She had left her room about five minutes before eight knowing that gave her plenty of time to make the short walk. It would figure she would be the first one there.

Lexie sat on the benches and relaxed for a moment and enjoyed watching the sunset. That wasn't the only scenery she was enjoying looking at though. A guy she had never seen before was casually leaning up against the wall around the fountain, which was turned off this late in the evening. His very light brown hair was cut so short it almost spiked off of his head. In the fading light she could see blonde highlights running through the stud's hair.

To a casual observer they would think the blonde in his hair was natural, but Lexie had been in enough professional beauty saloons to know that the guy had an expert highlighting going on. He had on a deep blue shirt that was left unbuttoned, and it exposed a form fitting white tank top underneath. The tank top was tight enough that it exposed every ridge and valley on the guy's muscular, defined chest.

Her eyes wandered lower to the faded, and well filled out, pair of blue jeans the guy had on. The black shoes on his feet were casual, but could easily pass for a dress shoe. Lexie glanced back up at the guy's face, but he wasn't paying any attention to her. Her eye candy was wearing a pair of sunglasses, which would look ridiculous this late in the evening, but it was a look this guy carried off with ease.

"Do you like what you see there, twin?"

Leo's voice made Lexie want to jump out of her skin. She glared up at him and didn't bother responding. Lexie casually glanced back at the guy by the fountain, but he was still looking away from her.

"He must be another freshman." Leo said as he sat down next to her. He was wearing a pair of black jeans. Leo had a white dress shirt, with the sleeves rolled up, on over a black tank top. It was a classic Leo look. "I've never seen him on campus before. You thinking about finally dumping Noah?"

"You can keep dreaming, Warner." Noah's voice cut through the air as he walked up to the bench.

"Don't worry, Noah. I will." Leo grinned at his friend. He wasn't surprised to see Noah decked out like a model from some expensive catalog. His jeans and polo shirt looked brand new, and Leo would have been surprised if they weren't. "Looks like the gangs all here. Now we just have to wait on Hayden."

"He's probably trying to tie a garbage bag around himself or something." Noah mumbled so only Lexie and Leo could hear. "Even that would be a major improvement." Noah's eyes caught sight of the guy by the fountain finally. "If he could look even a quarter like that guy, we should be thankful."

Leo and Lexie just ignored Noah, which was normally what happened, and began chatting about classes and their schedules. Noah paced restlessly in front of the pair with the patience of an anxious cat.

"Where the hell is Hayden? He's almost ten minutes late." Noah demanded after looking at his watch for the thousandth time.

"I could say the same about both of you." Lexie grinned at them. "I was the only one that was here on time."

"Now that isn't exactly true, Lexie."

At the sound of the new voice the trio looked up to find the guy from the fountain standing in front of them. Leo and Lexie eyed the newcomer curiously, and Noah fixed the guy with a scathing look.

"Excuse me?" Lexie asked. The mystery man finally removed his sunglasses and Lexie gasped. Once the glasses were gone she totally recognized his face, and if he had only been standing closer she would have realized it sooner. "Hayden."

Hayden grinned down at the shocked look on all of their faces. He had been really uneasy when he saw what the stylist in town had done to his hair, but he figured he would just go with it. Hayden tried to pick out something to wear that would impress his new friends, but as they sat there not saying anything he began to worry.

"Can someone please say something?" Hayden's voice came out a bit more pleading than he wanted, but he couldn't help it. A few minutes had passed and the three of them still sat there gawking at him. "I think I may have made a big mistake."

Hayden turned and started to walk away from them. He had to stop himself from breaking into a dead run for his dorm. He had only taken a few steps before a strong hand on his shoulder stopped him and turned him around. Hayden came face to face with Leo.

"Don't go." This time it was Leo's voice that sounded pleading. "Look, I'm really sorry about our reaction, but...God damn, Hayden. I had no idea that all of this was hiding under those clothes and that hair." Leo's gaze swept over Hayden from head to toe. "Buddy, you are..."

"Gorgeous!" Lexie's voice broke in. She stepped up next to Leo and gave Hayden a bright reassuring, smile. "Somebody better get me an egg. I'll bet anyone a hundred bucks I could fry it on his stomach. Talk about hot!"

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byGryffindor© 0 comments/ 34748 views/ 11 favorites

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