Belong Together

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I plopped onto my bed with a sigh. I’ve finally finished unpacking my belongings into the room.

//Back at last// I thought, where I belong.

I was brought up in Japan. My parents work there, you see, and I’ve never felt right being there. I did have friends there but nothing really felt solid. Sure, the girls will want to be with you, and the guys will think it’s cool to be around someone “different”. It was only till I finished high school when I applied for university back home.

So here I was, in my room just a stone’s throw away from my department. I was a little apprehensive, really, having no friends here and with my family in Japan. I’ve no one here. Though it felt more like home, I felt lost at the same time.

I heaved a sigh and headed out to the kitchen. In Hamilton-Briggs Hall, the dormitories are separated into 3 sides from the main entrance. Each side, there are three rooms and a communal kitchen, and each room has its own bathroom. On the side I was living in, only two of the rooms were occupied, with the remaining one void. For what reasons, I have no idea.

“Hey, you must be the new guy!”

I turned to the source of the voice.

“I’m Daniel Hoffman.”

He held out his hand.

I smiled as I took his hand, “I’m Shawn Vaughn. A pleasure meeting you”

He beamed. “The pleasure’s mine, I assure you! We’ve finally got someone living with us on our side! We’ve been here for a few months without a soul walking the corridors but us. Too quiet for our tastes.”

I nodded. “I’ve got the single room just right in front of the kitchen. I assume yours is just down the hall?”

Daniel affirmed, “My roommate and I are just right down the hall, yes. But Ryan isn’t in right now, still at his lecture, I think. You’ll see him around!”

We proceeded on with a chat over lunch and I got to know more about Daniel. Daniel is a nice chap! Friendly and smart. I felt at ease with him. Knowing him pacified my apprehension in a foreign environment a little but it’s better than nothing!

Lessons don’t start till the next Monday for me, but I still got up relatively early. I was still pretty jet-lagged and didn’t sleep well. I padded into the kitchen blurry eyed and rumpled, and crashed into someone.

“Oh, Oh god! I… I’m… I’m so sorry!” I blabbered, still transiting to fully awareness of the situation.

The guy laughed, amused, as he helped me from my stumble.

“No biggie. I’m Ryan, by the way. Ryan Baker. You must be Shawn. Dan’s told me all about you.”

For a moment, I stared mesmerised by his swirling depths of grey. I finally registered what he said.

“Oh, hi. Nice to meet you. I’m not usually so incoherent. Jet-lagged and all, you know”

Ryan laughed again. //Even his voice sounds nice// I couldn’t help thinking.

“Yea, it sucks, doesn’t it? You don’t start till next week, I suppose?” I nodded. “Then get some more rest!”

I smiled, trying to shake off that weird churning in my stomach. “I guess so. I’ll do that. Thank you.”

As I was about to flee to my room to compose myself, Ryan spoke.

“Dan and I will be making dinner tonight. We hope that you’ll join us.”

I gave it a thought. Though confused by what I was feeling, I couldn’t help but thought that it would be useful to make more friends. I promised Ryan for dinner. I went back to bed; strangely, thinking of that face, of those grey eyes that arrested and toyed with my thoughts; I drifted away.

****

“Shawn! Had a good rest?” Daniel exclaimed in delight as he saw me.

“Yea, I did. Feeling a little better. Coping with a nine-hour time difference is harder than I imagined!”

Daniel motioned me to sit down as he set the table.

“Where’s Ryan?” My cheeks burned as I spoke his name. I couldn’t believe I asked that.

“Ry? He’ll be back soon. Went down to get some drinks”

I nodded. God, what was happening to me? Why was I so obsessed with that man? One look; one look was all it took for me to get hooked. Despite the short exchange we had, it seemed to run deeper than that. That the hell was happening to me? I was bouncing off the chair to see him again, but my heart pounded faster than the flitting wings of a hummingbird. What is happening?

“… Shawn… Shawn!”

I started. “Yes?”

“Man, you spaced out right there! You looked like you were in a trance! You ok, buddy?” Daniel asked, concerned.

“Yea, I’m fine. Was just thinking…”

Daniel stared at me for a moment. A smile caressed his lips.

“What?”

His smile broke to a grin. “Nothing.”

Ryan pranced into the kitchen. “Hey guys! Glad you made it, Shawn. We’ll get the dinner started! No, you sit down. Dan and I will handle it. We’re not the greatest chefs around but hey, it’s still decent food!”

The dinner started and we chatted away: our family, friends, hobbies, music. We laughed and joked throughout and were having a great time. The booze came in next and we drank till we dozed off.

That night was when we bonded. We became quick friends and were very close after that. Much to my agony, my attraction towards Ryan grew as well. We were living so close to each canlı bahis şirketleri other, see each other everyday and have every meal together. We even hang out in each others’ rooms every so often. Nothing explains what I felt, so I thought it might just be a very special kind of friendship. After all, we were very close friends!

//Then what about Daniel?//

I did not feel the same towards Daniel as I did Ryan. That was one thing I couldn’t bring myself to acknowledge. Acknowledging it would mean to scrutinise my feelings. Why make things complicated when it’s just friendship? That was what I thought.

****

Day after day, we talked, we had fun. We really bonded, like brothers. Or was it? Daniel was a great guy, but Ryan and I were really getting on like bon fire. We were very close, did everything together. Dinner was like a ritual for us, something that we do not miss. We studied together despite the different majors: I in architecture while Ryan in academia.

While we were studying together one day, Ryan hit me with a question.

“Hey Shawn, haven’t heard of you being with anyone.”

I looked over to him, the queasy feeling in my stomach. My heart skipped a beat.

“No, why?”

Ryan cleared his throat. “Nothing. Just curious. No girls who interest you?” he asked, another question concealed in his tone.

I shook my head. “No one.”

He seemed to consider that for a while before beaming me a smile. I melted, but held myself together before I did. I shouldn’t feel this way, right?

He scooted over, leaned towards me.

“You have no idea” he whispered in my ear, causing me to shiver in delight. Shit. He went back to his work, humming tunes.

What was that supposed to mean?!

****

I blushed a deep crimson. Ryan’s chest was rubbing against my back, the warmth seeping into my cool skin. Ah, shit. His massive body pushed me into the shelves, holding me in position. I stifled a moan.

He backed off, leaving me in a very difficult position.

“Here you go!” he grinned as he passed me the box I was reaching for on the top shelf.

He must have done it on purpose! What was he playing at? What the hell? What happened? Was I reading too much of an innocent situation? What’s wrong with me?

I forced my mind away from the freight train of thoughts. “Th… thanks… You lucky bastard! I’ve never had the height to reach for tall objects!”

Ryan stood a good 6’2″ to my 5’11”. He always liked to boast his height against me. Being taller and all, he likes to put my things high up on the shelves, only to have me yelling at him to get them down for me.

Ryan grinned cheekily. “Yea, I know. That’s why you’re so fun to tease!” He ruffled my hair affectionately.

I forced a smile, still shaken by what happened. I ran towards Daniel as he came into view, frantically trying to shake off that weird feeling that would otherwise make things awkward.

“Dan, these are the things you said you wanted.” I mumbled.

“Something happened? You’re awfully flushed.”

My face scotched. Daniel looked at me and glanced at Ryan, grinning that Chesire cat grin and shook his head. Dan smiled like a devil.

****

Things were getting more and more intense between Ryan and I. Nothing seemed to change, but the atmosphere was unsettling. Daniel seemed to notice something was different; he was always giving us this knowing glance every now and then. Since neither of them said or did anything explicit, I did not feel justified asking. Ryan was one of my dearest friends; I was determined to keep our friendship no matter what.

As determined as I was, I was the one who acted weird.

Ryan noticed. He took me aside one day and asked.

“Shawn, is everything all right?”

I nodded. “Erm… Yea… Yea…”

He was not convinced. “Look at me.”

I willed myself to look at him and when I did, I felt my stomach churn. I was tingling with unexpected pleasure that I could not explain. My lips trembled as I whimpered. “Seriously, I’m fine…”

“You’re not.”

I did not know what to say. I didn’t even know what was so wrong with me; with us. I was just so confused. So I lied.

“I just… I kinda miss my parents, I guess.”

Ryan nodded. “Yea, I understand. You’re practically all alone here. Well, don’t worry, ‘cos now you’ve got me!” He was silent for a while, as if he meant to say something more. “Erm… I mean, I’ll be here for you when you need it. So will Daniel. We’re buddies.”

I smiled weakly at him and mouthed a ‘thank you’.

As if to lighten the mood, he asked about my life in Japan: the sights, the people and the school.

That did cheer me up a little. I went on to tell him tales of my childhood, how I met this girl, Kiyora, who became my first “girlfriend”. The memories of it made me smile, though it was no more than a mere puppy-love. We were so young. I was telling him about the first time we held hands when I saw a touch of smile on Ryan’s lips, and something else that I couldn’t recognise.

“Ryan?…”

That shook him out of his daze. “Sorry. I… err… was just picturing it, you know, how cute canlı kaçak iddaa it must have looked.”

I smiled, “Yea, it was. It was nice.”

I didn’t see his wistful expression when he stood up abruptly, saying that he just recalled an essay to rush and made for his room.

****

A project I was working on with some of my friends in class was on its finishing touches. We were quite a closely-knitted group. Well, where work was concerned, anyway. Nate, Gabriella, Celine and I, we made a very efficient team. I offered them to work over at my room since the library was packed. The work ended late and everyone was tired. Gabriella and Celine went off first, leaving Nate and I to tie up the loose ends. Somehow, I ended up dozing off, waking to the sensation of someone brushing my cheek.

My eyes flew open. Nate. His face was so close to mine.

“Nate?”

He blushed. “I’m sorry.”

I sat up. I did not know how to handle the situation at all. It was so awkward. I nodded.

Nate cast a shy and guilty glance at me, which he shifted away when my eyes met his.

“Look, Nate. It’s ok. I am a little startled, but I’m really ok, alright? Let it go.”

He nodded and smiled a nervous smile. “I should be going”

The door opened as I walked Nate over.

“Shawn! I brought dinner ov…” Ryan’s words died as he saw Nate.

“Uhm… I’ll see you tomorrow then?” Nate squeaked, face scarlet.

“Sure, see you.” Nate gave my arm a squeeze, an apologetic look, and slipped out of the room.

Ryan shoved the plate of pasta he brought in onto my desk.

“What the hell was going on?” he asked, cheeks aflame.

I was bewildered. “What are you talking about?”

“You know what I was talking about!”

“I missed dinner with you and Dan, I’m sorry, alright? I have a project to finish!”

“That’s not what I’m talking about!” Ryan was yelling by now. “What were you doing with him?”

I saw red. I didn’t do shit to deserve being yelled at. “I did not stutter when I told you: I was doing a project!”

“My ass! Project! You two were…” Ryan caught himself before he could continue.

We were glaring at each other now, the room an awkward silence. How dare he? What did I do to deserve this? So what if I missed dinner?

“Get out.” I said, my voice cold and even. I pushed the plate of pasta he brought in to him and pushed him to the door.

“Shawn… Please…” Ryan pleaded.

I slammed the door.

****

I avoided Ryan the next few days. Daniel finally cornered me one day while I was about to go to bed.

“What gives?” he asked as he leaned against the door. Smart choice. I’ll have no escape.

“What do you mean, Dan?”

“You know what I mean. You and Ry.”

I shook my head. “I don’t know, Daniel. I really don’t know. A few days ago he went all bat-shit on me for no reason at all. I got fed-up, threw him out, and that’s it”

Daniel took in what I said and studied me. I grew uncomfortable as he continued staring.

“How do you feel about this?” he finally spoke.

“Angry, of course. I didn’t do anything to deserve this!”

“Yea, I know you’re angry. I mean, why do you think Ryan blew up with you?”

“How the hell should I know?”

“You really don’t?”

I hesitated. “No.”

Daniel considered me for a moment. “Do you know that he cried?”

That got my attention. Ryan didn’t seem to be the kind to cry over matters like this.

“He cried, Shawn. Secretly, of course. The past few nights before he slept. He’s a mask of misery now, trust me.”

“Why?” I asked, although there was a voice behind my head screaming, //You twit, you know why!//

Daniel sighed in frustration as he stalked towards me.

“When are you two gonna quit dancing around each other? You know full well why Ryan blew up! He was jealous! Jealous, you idiot!”

My mouth flapped, but no sound came out. At the back of my head, I knew it. But hearing it made things more real; and everything seemed so surreal.

“Why?”

Daniel grabbed me by my shoulders. “You know why! Why wouldn’t you admit it? Why wouldn’t the both of you admit it? This is insane! I’ve stuck in between two of my best friends in a dance they refuse to admit dancing!”

I looked away. “I’m sorry.”

Daniel’s look softened. “Yea, me too. But Shawn, you have to sort this out. This is crazy. It’s killing the both of you. In fact, all three of us.”

I stared at the ceiling. “Alright.”

Daniel gave my shoulder a pat and went off.

****

“Shawn…”

I looked up. Nate was staring at me, concerned.

“Shawn, I have to tell you something. We need to talk.”

“Uhm, ok. Go ahead.”

“Can we be alone? At your place?” he pleaded.

I hesitated. I thought of what Daniel said the night before. If I were to sort things out with Ryan, have him seeing Nate and I together would make things worse.

“Nate, I don’t think…”

“Please, Shawn.” He looked at me with those puppy dog eyes and I caved.

I sighed. “Let’s go”

****

As luck had it, we bumped into Ryan in the corridor. He had a woeful look about canlı kaçak bahis him as he looked at me, but his eyes turned cold the moment they laid on Nate. I ignored it.

I opened the door and went in.

I sat down on my bed while Nate took the chair.

“So,” I prompted.

“So… I… Well, I want to apologise again about the other day…”

“I told you it’s alright!”

“… and that I like you. A lot.” Nate continued.

I stared at him, dumbfounded. “What?”

“I like you, Shawn. Don’t get me wrong. I know you’re with Baker, but I just want to let you know this.”

I stared at him with jaws hanging, “Wait… Wait a minute… What are you talking about?”

Nate looked at me, incomprehensively. “I just want you to know. I don’t want to bottle up this feeling. I’ll just explode if I don’t.”

Me? And Ryan? I was a mass of confusion, but I thought better to settle things with Nate first.

“Nate, I appreciate that, and I’m sorry I can’t reciprocate your feelings…”

Nate shook his head. “I knew. I knew right from the start. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s no secret that you and Ryan Baker are together. I fell for you myself.”

“But Nate, what do you mean by ‘it’s no secret’ that I’m with Ryan’?”

“You and Baker, you are always together,” he said wistfully. “Everyone can see you two are dating.”

“I… uh…”

Nate leaned over and gave me a hug. “It’s ok. Thank you, Shawn. No awkwardness, yea? We make the best team, the four of us.”

I nodded. Nate left.

I was still gathering and processing what just happened, the fact that people actually thought Ryan and I were together, in my head, trying to sort of my thoughts. A pair of hands grabbed me. I didn’t even hear the door.

Those strong hands spun me around and my lips met with Ryan’s.

I was too stunned to react and I let him kiss me. I whimpered when he parted my lips and lewdly slipped his tongue into my mouth, searching, tasting. I could feel his passion and raw hunger.

I finally pulled away and shoved him. “What the hell…”

“You’re with that Nathan fellow, aren’t you?” Ryan hissed.

“What are you talking about?”

“NATHAN! NATHAN SORRELL! THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!” he bellowed with a wild look in his eyes.

I stared at him. For the first time, I was afraid of him. But I wasn’t going to let it show. “You leave Nate out of this! He has nothing to do with…”

“To hell with that! He likes you! I know it! I can tell!” he screeched.

I suddenly thought of my conversation with Daniel and Nate. “Why does that bother you?”

Ryan paled. “You two really… you two are really together…?” He didn’t want to hear my response; he was afraid of what I would say, I could tell.

“No.”

His head snapped up, looking at me, wide-eyed with hope. “But…”

“But you have to tell me first: Why does that bother you?”

Ryan gulped and looked away.

“Why, Ryan?”

Silence.

I sighed. I made for the door when Ryan seized me from the back.

“Shawn…”

“Why?”

“I…”

“What?”

“I… can’t…”

I broke away. Tears prickling in my eyes.

“SHAWN! I love you!”

He wrapped his arms around me once more.

I froze. What? Love? God, did Ryan just say…

“You heard me, Shawn. I love you.”

I dared not look back. He spun me around and looked me in the eye. Those damned mesmerising grey eyes. They spoke volumes as they gazed into mine. His face inched forward.

His tongue lapped at my lips. My body shook uncontrollably, tingling with delight. His tongue parted my lips, searching, searing mine. I moaned into his mouth. He literally sucked the breath out of me, leaving me shaking from the intense kiss.

The kiss lasted forever till he pulled away and touched his forehead to mine.

“I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.” He whispered in my ear.

A shiver ran down my spine despite myself from the intimacy.

“I’ve always loved you, Shawn. Be mine.”

I stared into his eyes, seeing warmth, promise and lust.

I leaned in to touch a feathery light kiss on his lips, telling him: yes, let me try to be yours.

I pressed my lips together and hesitated.

“Ryan… I have to say something…”

His brows knitted in concern.

“I don’t know if I’m gay or not. I’ve never been interested in dating and all that, and I don’t really know myself well either. But it feels comfortable being with you. I want to be around you all the time. I needed to see you everyday, to hear your voice. I don’t know if it is love, and I worry I can’t give you what you deserve…”

Ryan pressed a finger to my lips, silencing me.

“You’re all I want. You truly are. And yes, that’s love. I want you in my life; I want you with me all the time. I think of you, I dream of you. Asleep or awake, you’re all I think of, you’re all I need. The thought of you and Sorrell together nearly killed me!”

I stared at him, shocked.

“It really did. You were always so cool around people. People are attracted to you, but you never make it a big deal; you never stuck to any particular person just because. I had the suspicion that Sorrell likes you all along but it never bothered me since I know that you’re not interested.” — //Bastard// — “So when I saw you and Nate all alone together, I freaked out. I thought he was special to you…”

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