Richard's Redemption

Chapter 8

For a long moment, Todd sits frozen, though I can't tell if it's in shock or disgust. I start to pull away, wondering if I just made the biggest mistake of my life, when Todd moves, leaning his head on my shoulder as our lips part.

“I... I want this,” Todd murmurs hesitantly against the fabric of my jacket. Neither of us had even taken the jackets off, much less anything else. “But I... I'm afraid to trust you, Cam – Richard. I want to, I do. But you... you've always been so... so hesitant about bending the rules... I just... I don't know what to think.”

“I don't blame you,” I reply quietly. “I've spent the last few years turning into... someone I don't like very much. I guess I thought if I was the perfect Welton overachiever, no one would guess about me. It worked to a point... I'm pretty sure no one guessed... but then again, I came across as such an arrogant little shit that no one cared to get close enough to me to guess.” I pause for a moment, then continue. “I think last semester hurt the worst, because Neil insisted on including you in everything. Meeks and Pitts, they've been best friends since they started here, always playing with their radio and stuff like that. Knox and Nuwanda, they've known each other all their lives since their fathers were friends at Yale. And then there was me and Neil... until you came along and got so close with him, I could pretend to myself at least, that he and I were good friends. I used to, you know, daydream about him the same as you did... until I saw him getting so close to you. And yet, I couldn't even blame him for that, or you either. Because I never made an effort to be liked, not really.”

“You've changed, though,” Todd says, sitting up and taking off his jacket, leaning over to toss it over his chair. His tie and cummerbund follow a moment later.

I stand and shed my own jacket, tie, and cummerbund. “Have I?” I ask.

“Yeah.” Todd hesitates for a moment, then strips down to his shorts and pulls on a pair of pajama pants. “Geeze, it's warm in here,” he comments. “Do they have any heat settings besides 'freezing' and 'blast furnace'? Yeah, you've seemed different this term, not such a know-it-all in classes and stuff.”

I turn away slightly, also changing into a pair of pajama pants. “I've never known any other heat settings in all my years here,” I say. I hang up my jacket and trousers, tossing the shirt into the laundry hamper. “Has anyone else noticed that I've changed, do you think?”

Todd considers. “I don't know,” he finally says. “I think I saw it because I'm your roommate. Knox... well, he's too wrapped up in Chris to notice much of anything. And he's been ignoring you because it was you telling Nolan that Nuwanda punched you when... when everything else happened... was the last straw that got him expelled. Meeks and Pitts... well, they're Meeks and Pitts. But I've sort of been watching you all term, figuring we got stuck together so you could spy on me for Nolan.”

“He as good as told me that's why we got put in together, the first day back,” I admit. “And so I decided right then and there that unless you tried to physically hurt me, I wasn't going to tell him a damn thing.”

Todd blinks a bit, then smiles slowly. “Well. Maybe I can trust you after all, Richard.”

“You can,” I promise. “Although I really don't blame you for not trusting me. I was a rotten piece of shit, wasn't I?”

Todd moves closer to me. “You were. But I understand why, now.”

I hold out my arms slightly, looking pleadingly into his eyes. “And am I forgiven?”

He nods and shyly moves into my arms. I release the breath I didn't realize I was holding as I wrap my arms around him gently, sighing in contentment. We stay like that for a long time, just holding and being held. I can feel the warmth of his chest against mine, his arms around my waist driving away the loneliness that's been my closest companion for years.

After a while, Todd smiles. “I never expected this. But it feels nice. I don't feel so alone anymore.”

I smile as well. “Neither do I, Todd. Not anymore. Thanks to you.”

I'm not sure how long we stood there with our arms around each other, but eventually the sounds made by the others returning to their rooms wakes us to awareness. “So much for getting back a little early and beating everyone else to the bathrooms,” I quip.

Todd chuckles, his breath warm against my ear. “I think there's something else that needs doing first,” he murmurs. “You startled me enough earlier that I forgot to kiss you back.” He slides one hand up to the back of my head as his lips press against mine.

My lips part slightly beneath his, silently inviting him to deepen the kiss. My senses are reeling at the feel of him in my arms, the taste and scent of him. I shift slightly, feeling my cheeks flushing at my body's inevitable reaction. A moment later, Todd presses his hips against mine, and it's quite obvious that I'm not the only one reacting. “Mmm... I don't think I can go anywhere like this,” I mumble, kissing his neck. My hands move up and down his back, stopping just above his pajama pants, then hesitantly slide down over them. My knees tremble as he does the same, so I guide him the two steps to the foot of my bed and we practically fall onto it.

Todd shifts a bit, with the effect of moving my hand away from his backside. With a whispered, “Please?” he grabs my wrist, guiding my hand inside his pants. He moans as my fingers curl around him, stroking him. Then his hand dips into my pants.

I tense up for a moment. No one has ever touched me like that before. I tremble, my breath catching in my throat as his hand moves on me. “Todd...” I breathe, sensation rapidly overwhelming rational thought. He answers by leaning in to kiss me deeply once more. I tremble, my moans muffled against his lips as my hips jerk forward with my climax. A heartbeat later, Todd also moans as he erupts.

I'm not sure how long we lie there before finally letting go of each other. It's longer still before either of us speak. But finally, “That was... I never... thank you, Richard,” he whispers.

“Thank you, Todd,” I whisper back. We both doze off, worn out with the unexpected emotions of the night.


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