tagGay MaleProblem with a One Night Stand Ch. 05

Problem with a One Night Stand Ch. 05


Shockingly, I was not surprised when I woke up for practice the next morning just to find that my bed was empty. Andrew had disappeared at some point during the night, which is pretty impressive considering less than five hours had passed since I had even gotten home, let alone fallen asleep. With a sigh, I pushed myself out of bed and forced myself to get a move on. I had to go straight to work after practice, so I needed to make sure I was set for the day. However, forcing myself to get up and face the guys after last night would not be easy. I'm sure they noticed there was some tension between me and Barry, but hopefully they could let it go and we could all be adults.

Just to add insult to injury, my father called me while I was walking to the boathouse. I chose not to answer and shoved my phone back in the pocket of my bag where I wouldn't have to see it until later. I could only imagine what he wanted. I was doing well in classes so I'm sure he couldn't bother me about that. I was doing well at work and with crew. There was literally nothing for him to criticize, but the ache in my gut when I saw the caller ID was rarely wrong. My father did not call to simply chat. 99% of the time there was some lecture on how I wasn't good enough coming my way. Today was not the day for such a phone call, especially not at 7 am.

I was one of the first to arrive at the boathouse, so I started to pull stuff out. The skulls were too much to pull out myself, but I could get other things ready. As the other guys started trickling in, they all started talking about their various activities from the night before. I tried to ignore when Brian, Robby, and some of the others started talking about something Casey had done, but it was hard to ignore the delight I felt when I heard there was some sort of fight that took place on the way back from the diner. The diner where Barry told me he had feelings for me but didn't want to act on them. Ever. Delight, gone.

"What did you think of Casey, Josh?" Robby asked me, breaking the intense amount of focus I was putting into NOT listening to them. "Did you like him?"

I looked up to find Brian and Robby staring intently at me. The others quickly dispersed, and I couldn't help but wonder if that had something to do with me. "Um. He was okay. I guess." I answered.

"Just okay?" Brian prodded.

"Yeah. I guess. I didn't really get the chance to talk to him much." That was an honest answer at least. We had barely exchanged five words, and he had managed to bring me down in front of a crowd regardless. Okay was an understatement for how I felt about him. I actually wanted to punch his stupid smug face. No one needed to know that though.

"Interesting." Brian nodded, glancing over at Robby.

"Personally, I can't stand the douche." Robby laughed, but it was hard to tell if he was actually joking. "He is just the worst."

"Seriously." Brian nodded. "If I have to hear him go on and on about the color scheme in his apartment one more time, I swear, I might just snap." They both looked at me expectantly, but I just shrugged. "Come on, Josh. We know you hated him. He sucks."

"We also know about you and Barry." Robby chimed in.

"There is no me and Barry." I told them honestly. "So forget what you think you know, because it's wrong." I picked up my bag and started to move towards the dog to join everyone else, but I barely made it five feet before Brian grabbed me by the back of my shirt and practically lifted me back to where I was before. "What the fuck, you guys?" I snapped.

"Look, Josh." Brian started, letting me go and helping me straighten out my shirt. "We figured it out. Casey was at Robby and Barry's place on Tuesday morning, and knew that Barry didn't come home. When Casey called me at freaking 8 am to see if Barry was with me, I knew something was up."

"And we're not stupid, Barry told us he was with you on Monday." Robby chimed in. "We asked him to come hang and he said he was at your place."

"Add in the fact that Barry has practically been pining for you since the beginning of the semester, and we were able to put it all together."

"I don't know what you're talking about." I scoffed, but the burn in my cheeks had to be an obvious giveaway. I was probably red as a lobster by now.

"Cut the shit, Banner, he told us." Robby gave me a pointed glare.

All I could do now was sigh. "Fine. What do you want me to say?"

"We want you to try and break up Barry and Casey." Brian told me. "We hate Casey. He doesn't make Barry happy. Hell, he doesn't even treat him well. Barry has dedicated all of his college years to making sure that everything Casey ever wants is done, but he hasn't exactly been giving the same attention to Barry in return. Enough is enough. Barry needs to move on."

"Look, you guys. Monday was fun, it really was. And Barry is great. But we are just going to be friends. He told me flat out that he wants to stay with Casey. If we are all good friends, we will leave him alone and let him do what he wants."

"The thing is, we ARE good friends, which is why we need to do something." Robby said. "We think you should ask him to go to the election party thing you're going to with your friend and his boyfriend. For Humphrey."

"No. No way." I shook my head. "My dad will be there, my ex will be there, my friends will be there. And oh wait, it will be nationally televised. There's no way. I am not playing that game. If you guys want him to break up with Casey so bad, you need to do it on your own. If Barry actually wanted me, he would break up with his boyfriend on his own and come find me. I'm serious, guys. Don't get involved."

Brian let out an over exaggerated sigh. "Fine. But do you even like him at all? Like, if we could break them up, would you go for it?"

"It doesn't matter. Do. Not. Break. Them. Up." I emphasized each word hoping they would go for it, but something told me I was about to get in the middle of a whole ton of drama.

"Fine." Robby groaned. "But let us know if you change your mind."

"You got it." I grinned at them. "I know you mean well, but really, I am not interested in being someone's side piece. He made it clear he didn't want me, so let's all just move on, okay?"

I didn't give them a chance to give any rebuttal, but rather just turned and jogged down the riverbank to the dock where the guys had the other two skulls ready in the water. I got in my seat and stretched my shoulders a bit, ready for a nice morning of rowing to get rid of all the tension that had built up in my shoulders for the past five days. The morning didn't disappoint, and by the time we finished practice I was blissfully sore, my muscles screaming for a good rub down. It was the best way to feel, and it made everything seem so much better. This was a new day. I was done obsessing over Barry, had a date night lined up with Andrew, and had good friends who would look out for me. Brian and Robby may have been totally out of line, but they were just trying to make everyone happy. It was actually kind of sweet, in their own twisted way.

I whistled to myself as I made my way through downtown New Haven towards the Ecuadorian consulate where I would be working for the afternoon. I absolutely loved going there, even though it was only for a few hours here or there, and I really just did some odd jobs while I was there. But, every now and then, I got to actually talk to some of the families who had moved to the US and were seeking support, and it was a good chance to practice my Spanish and learn more from people from other parts of the world. Every shift there reminded me of the stories my nanny and housekeeper used to tell me whenever I was bummed out about my parents being gone for weeks at a time. After all the things she had said, all I wanted to do was move to Ecuador and experience life there. I secretly fantasized about living on an island in the Galapagos like Darwin, or standing with a foot on either side of the equator. DC always felt so small when I thought about all the places that were so different from the penthouse upbringing I had grown up with. Unfortunately, my father didn't really agree. His idea of foreign travel was to go find the upper 3% in a country and create business partnerships. If you had nothing to offer him, you were not worth his time. Thus, my entire existence.

"Hola, Senor Banner." The guard greeted me on my way in. He was a nice guy, always asking me about classes and what not. His son played soccer for the Ecuadorian national team in the last Olympics, so he often liked to brag about that. It was nice to see a father who cared so much about his kid, even though they were so far away.

"Buenas dias." I returned with a grin on my way in. I told him I would talk to him on my way out since I was already cutting it pretty close on time. By the time I made it upstairs, I had logged on at the exact minute I was supposed to. I let my computer load up and opened my email to see all the things they needed me to do today. My boss usually just sent me a list of daily tasks and I did them, doing my best to stay out of the way. Growing up in the business world, I had learned pretty quickly when it was okay to be seen versus when I could be heard. I did my best to bring that knowledge with me here. I was the youngest employee in the office and didn't want anyone questioning the nepotism that got me the job in the first place.

Unfortunately, the work I had to do today was a lot of mindless data entry, scrubbing bad addresses, and doing some mailings. I put my headphones in and set to work, letting the sounds of my favorite playlist keep me company as I did everything I needed to do. I was just packing up my stuff around 5 pm when one of the other interns came to find me. He was in his first year at the school of forestry, and was working on a project for sustainable housing for some of the immigrants who were having trouble in the area. He had apparently come up with this idea for houses that could be dropped into war zones for refuges that were easy to assemble, and was working on putting it together for people to use locally. It was actually a pretty good idea, and people were really excited about it. It couldn't be a permanent solution given the potential for rough new England winters, but it was an option to get people some shelter if they were not able to find a place on their own.

"Hey, Josh?" He came to my cubicle. "Is there any way you can help me translate? I have a guy here who is looking for some kind of medical help but I can't interpret what he is saying."

"I can try." I agreed, putting my bag back down. "I don't really know much medical terminology, but I can see if I can figure it out."

Kevin led me out into the lobby where a man was anxiously pacing the room. I greeted him in Spanish and introduced myself, and he quickly recognized that I was familiar with the Ecuadorian accent and started to ramble about his diabetes and how he hadn't been able to check his blood sugar since he moved here. I nodded along, completely understanding what he was going on about. It was a common theme with our clientele here. A lot of them had not seen a medical provider in years, and often chronic problems were left until they were serious. I had to applaud this man for trying to reach out in the first place. He was obviously really upset about it. My nanny was diabetic growing up too, so I was familiar with what he was saying.

After hashing out what his issues were, I gave him the info we had on free clinics for immigrants in the area and sent him on his way. He was really sweet and gracious, even hugged me before he left. It made me feel warm inside, and it was the perfect ending to a great day.

'That was really impressive." Kevin told me as we packed up our stuff and made our way out together. Everyone else was long gone this late on a weekend. "Where did you learn your Spanish? It was flawless. He couldn't understand what I was saying back and we were both getting so flustered."

"I grew up speaking Ecuadorian Spanish." I told him, leaving out the nanny part. People don't like to hear about it, especially poor grad students. "We used as much Spanish in the house as we did English, so it's not as structured and much more colloquial. It helps sometimes. My grammar can be crappy at times, but it's the way people actually talk so it usually works."

"Makes sense." He nodded, holding the door open for me. We stepped out onto the streets of New Haven and started back towards campus. "I learned all my Spanish in school so I guess I have the opposite problem. I can perfectly conjugate verbs in every tense, but when people talk too fast it all gets lost."

"Try just having conversations with people in Spanish." I suggested. "It will come."

We walked past a few of the restaurants and shops lining the main street leading to campus when he paused in front of one of them. "Want to grab dinner? I'm pretty hungry. The food here is awesome."

I glanced up at the sign above the restaurant. It was one of the bars I hadn't tried yet, but I didn't bring my ID with me so there was no chancing it. Dinner didn't sound bad though. I hadn't eaten anything besides a protein bar after practice, so I was starving. "Sure, I could eat." I agreed.

Kevin led me to a booth in the back of the bar, and I couldn't help but notice that it was a little secluded and kind of dim. I smiled to myself when I realized he probably had ulterior motives behind this dinner. "This place is great." He said, settling in across from me. "You should try the rum punch, it's awesome."

"Hm, probably not a good idea." I told him.

"Big plans tonight?" He asked, raising his eyebrows at me.

"I'm not 21." I returned with a small grin. "They probably won't accept my student ID as a form of ID either."

"Shit, you're not 21? I thought you were a senior!"

"I'm a freshman."

Kevin blinked at me, staring at me as if I had sprouted an extra head right before his eyes. "You're a freshman?"

"Yeah. I thought you knew."

"I had no idea. I thought you were a senior. You seem so much older."

"Nope. I'm a freshman." I repeated. "Sorry. Does it matter?"

"Ummm. Yes, it does. I was going to ask you out." He laughed.

I shot him a grin. "Yeah, probably not a good idea." I agreed. "Thanks for the compliment though."

"Well, no rum for you, but can I interest you in an order of beer cheese?" He grinned, and I agreed.

Kevin turned out to be great company, and I found myself really enjoying the night. We had some awesome food, and by the time I got back to my dorm room, I was ready for a nice peaceful night. I opted to shut my phone off and just watch a movie. There had been far too much drama the night before, and I felt like it was a good idea to avoid any more nonsense before a race. We had been having a really good season so far, and I wanted to continue to perform well so that no one would regret taking a chance on me this year. My bed seemed like the perfect place to spend a Saturday evening.

When I awoke to my alarm the next morning, I felt wonderfully refreshed, and I applauded myself on making a good choice the night before. When I turned my phone on, I was inundated with text messages from last night, people pushing me to come out and hang out with them, so it was a good thing I had shut it off. There was no way I could have turned down all that peer pressure on my own.

As I sat up and stretched, I glanced across the room and saw a piece of paper by the door that definitely wasn't there the night before when I went to bed. It didn't look like one of the typical Chinese food menus that were often shoved into the rooms, but rather, like a folded up note. My curiosity piqued, I pulled back my covers and padded across the room. I unfolded it, and sure enough, it was a handwritten note from Barry. It didn't say much, but the thrill that went through me told me that I should take it seriously. With a grin, I tucked it into the side pocket of my crew bag and made my way to the bathroom to get ready for the race. By the time I made it to the boat house, I was actually the last one there, so I hurried to warm up with the guys and prep for race time.

I had never even considered crew in the past, but now that I had become involved with this group of guys, I couldn't imagine not being part of this team. Having gone to all-male high school, I was used to the comradery that exists between groups of men on sports teams, but this was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The 15 other guys involved were the best group I could have asked for in a college team. They were supportive, loyal, and overall amazing friends. Sitting in these boats with them was more of a privilege than I would have thought.

Luckily, our cohesiveness as a group also made us a killer team on the water. We had to use an alternate rower for Barry, but he held his own and we did well. The adrenaline rush that came with a great race left me jittery and excited for our celebration after. We always went and got pizza as a group, and today was no different. Barry had been there at the race, supporting us and cheering on from the riverbank. I still didn't understand how he could get away with missing the whole week, but figured it wasn't my place to ask. I'm sure he would be back to our normal routine Monday, but it had been kind of weird not having him around. It was especially weird because I knew he wasn't around just because he was hanging out with Casey, which was a whole other puzzle to me. How had Casey been able to take a whole week from school to come and just hang out? The whole thing just stunk to me. I missed one day of classes and I felt incredibly behind on everything.

Barry was seated at the opposite end of the table from me as we devoured our pizza, but I kept catching him looking at me. I remembered his note in my bag pocket and I couldn't help but smile throughout our whole meal. As we were leaving, Barry grabbed my arm and tugged me back from the crowd. "Hey." He said as he pulled me out of the way on the sidewalk.

"Hey." I grinned at him.

"Did you get my note?" I nodded. "So? Will you meet me?"

"I'll be there." I grinned. "6 okay?"

"Perfect. I'll meet you outside your building." He grinned at me, and with a subtle rub of his thumb against my arm, he turned and jogged up to where the rest of our group had headed, en route to school for our own various activities. I followed along, and when I got back to my room I plopped on my bed with a smile. I had a couple hours to kill before I had to go meet Barry, so I texted Lindsey and asked her to come hang and do homework together.

"You're in a freakishly good mood today." She pointed out after we had been together for a while. "Either you're really into your homework, or something else happened."

I rolled my eyes at her. "Just having a good day." I told her. I pulled out the note from Barry from my bag and handed it to her.

"Josh, I really want to explain what happened on Friday. I feel like I really need to explain everything to you. You deserve way more than what I gave you. I was hoping we could meet up tonight and finish our conversation because I really have a lot to clear up with you. Good luck at the race, I'll be cheering for you from the sidelines. Barry." She read out loud. "Well, this is kind of nice, but there is still the very large problem of the boyfriend. You are too good to be someone's second choice."

"I mean, yeah, but I still want to see what he has to say. I have a feeling that this is going to be a good conversation. I mean, why else would he make the effort to come over and put a note under my door instead of just sending a text? It is the kind of move that is supposed to mean something."

She gave me a skeptical look. "Josh, he just told you two days ago that he was not leaving his boyfriend. How could that have changed since then? Just be careful, okay?"

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