Dream Deferred




Ken looked down at the desk in front of him, and frowned. It looked like any number of office desks he'd seen, at any number of different schools. 'Thompson's Private School - for Privileged Youths'. No different from Matthews' Private School, or Schielman's. The only reason I'm attending this one this year is because they offered Mama the biggest discount.

That thought made him feel cheap. It was almost like they were auctioning off his brain to the highest bidder… I'm going, for practically nothing, to school at a place that normally costs a fortune. Maybe I should try to be stupid for a while, and see how people react to that.

Than again, why lower his own self-worth just to have to pay for the things he wanted? Not to mention disappointing his parents while he was at it. That was a stupid thought.

Sighing in defeat, Ken fought the urge to slump in his seat.

Ichijouji Ken couldn't slump. It was unheard of.

"Ichijouji." The dean entered the room, smiling briefly. He was an orderly man, looking about 40 or so, and like he might've been attractive at one point. "Welcome to Thompson's Private School. I trust you have your registration papers with you."

Ken held them out for him. He also took a moment to read the man's name from the stand on his desk - Kawamura. He filed that away for later.

Mr. Kawamura flipped through the pages almost absently. "These seem to be in order." Ken noticed that he hadn't really bothered to check properly. "Good to have you, Ichijouji." He held out a hand, which Ken shook politely. "I've taken the liberty of calling up a long-time student to show you around the Eleventh-grade bunk area." Huh. So they're keeping me in my age-group. Some schools skipped him up a grade, but not this one, apparently. "You'll be expected to attend classes tomorrow, despite your late arrival, and I've asked Takaishi to show you where those are, as well."

"Thank you, sir," Ken answered, politely. Same old, same old… Wonder if this 'long-time student' knows why I've switched to his school. A memory of his guide from last year and how he'd reacted to that knowledge played over in his mind, and he had to repress a shudder.

"I expect he's waiting for us outside." Kawamura set down Ken's registration papers, and made a brief gesture for the 17-year-old to follow him. "I'll turn you over to him, then… ah, Takaishi! There you are."

A tall blonde stood just outside, dressed in the blue and white uniform that Ken had been given immediately upon his arrival. He had blue eyes and a quick smile, and his gaze was curious as he looked Ken over. "Yes sir," he said, with an easy cheerfulness that the dark-haired boy guessed was probably real. "This our new guy?"

"This is Ichijouji Ken," Kawamura answered. "Ken, this is Takaishi Takeru - your guide, until you get the hang of things around here. Which, I hope, won't take long. If you have any questions, you can bring them to my office." He smiled, and Ken didn't know - or care - if it was real or fake. "I hope you enjoy Thompson's."

"Pretty boring, isn't he?" Takeru led the way out of the office, stopping to wait as Ken paused to reclaim the single bag he'd brought with him. "Don't worry about a thing. Our class is anything but - well, until the teacher starts talking, that is. Once you know where everything is, the rest sort of works itself out."

"Oh." Ken glanced at him warily. Is he for real, or is all this 'friendly' stuff just an act? Caution - and experience - told him to watch his step until he found out. "That's good to know."

"The classrooms are in the north wing," Takeru explained. "Grades nine and ten are housed in the west wing, teachers are in the south wing, and we" - He grinned - "are in the east wing. With the senior students."

"I see."

"Not very talkative, huh?" Takeru smiled kindly. "That's okay - some of us can more than make up for it. You try getting Daisuke or Masao in a conversation - wow!" He laughed. "You won't get a word in."

Ken glanced up. "Am I going to be meeting these people?"

"Whether you want to or not, probably," Takeru assured him. "You're the new kid - fresh prey. Don’t take that seriously," he added, hastily. "It's just a joke. And don't even think that Daisuke knows what he's talking about. He's all mouth, no substance."

Ken frowned. "What do you mean by that?"

"You'll see." Takeru grinned again, which didn't make Ken feel any better.

"Where are the dorms?" Ken asked, to distract himself from the previous topic of conversation.

"Down there." Takeru gestured to where the hallway branched off up ahead. "There'll be a bunch of people in the hallways about now, but don't pay any attention to them. It's still holidays, that's all. Most of them are savoring their last few moments of freedom."

Ken nodded, and didn't say anything this time. Great. I get to meet my classmates. Well, maybe they'll surprise me and somehow be different from what I'm used to.

They weren't.

"Clear a path, guys!" Takeru called out, shoving his way through clusters of seniors. "Some of us have better things to do than stand around listening to who got laid this summer!"

"You're just jealous because your girl's practically a nun, Takaishi!" someone jeered.

"Jealous? Because I'm dating the hottest girl at St. Catherine's? Fat chance!" Takeru laughed. "If anything, it's the other way around."

"Yeah, fuck you!"

"Were you offering? No thanks." Takeru shrugged and moved past the worst of the traffic. Ken followed, being quick enough to get through the path that had just been cleared before it closed up again. "Got through okay?" the blonde asked him.

"Fine," Ken answered shortly. This place doesn't have anything I haven't seen before, anyway.

"Sorry about that," Takeru apologized. "It's usually like this on the first few days after summer. Most of the guys here are sent home for the break, and they come back like… well, this. Hardly any of us actually live in the area. I'll introduce you to some of the others tomorrow at lunch."

Ken nodded. The offer was more or less expected. Whether or not he'd actually fit in with Takeru's friends was yet to be seen. What he'd already heard of 'Daisuke' and 'Masao' was…

The thought suddenly derailed, crashed, and exploded in a cloud of smoke.

Standing just outside an open dorm-room, wearing a towel and with damp brownish-red hair flopping unceremoniously over his forehead, was what Ken's mind could only classify as a vision.

Takeru didn't seem to notice anything out of the ordinary, but Ken's eyes locked on the sight, mind whirling with the unexpected addition of something entirely new. Now that, he had to admit, was different from what he saw at other schools. Definitely different.

And a huge improvement.

The vision itself was leaning against the door-frame, golden-hued skin still gleeming a little with excess water - probably from a shower. He didn't seem to take note of how much skin he was exposing - though it was more than he should be, since the school-provided towels appeared to be about one or two sizes up from a washcloth. He was talking to another student, and his pose was completely casual - arms crossed, one leg bent across the other, left shoulder pressed against the wall. Lucky wall, Ken thought to himself, staring greedily at the lithe, supple-looking muscles on the boy's arms. The other student appeared to have said something funny then, because the red-head suddenly laughed out loud; the sound was brilliant, throaty and sensuous - in Ken's own opinion. Brown eyes shifted from his conversation partner to eye first Takeru and then Ken himself, curiously…

Ken tore away his gaze, face reddening. Damn it, that was stupid! You're going to get rumors going around that you're queer or something; is that what you want at a new school?

Takeru was arguing with a group just in front who were standing in their way, and didn't seem to be paying a lot of attention to what Ken was doing. So the dark-haired boy stood there, feeling awkward, not wanting to risk looking at the boy in the towel in case he was being studied in turn. The words of his last school's psychiatrist came back to him.

"Ken, dearie, just because you're feeling these 'twinges' doesn't mean that you're gay. It's perfectly natural at your age to be attracted to both sexes, especially in an all-boys school. Mustn't confuse raging hormones with anything. It could be just a little phase you're going through, that's all."

Yeah right. Ken tried to be subtle about sneaking another glance. Except it's not both sexes, you crackpot! Just my own. Trying to explain that to an aging old woman who thought her courses in counseling had made her the expert on every aspect of human behavior was a little beyond his abilities.

He managed another glance. 'Boy with the towel' was talking with his friend again, and casually raked a hand through his hair, shaking his head a little to get rid of the excess water. His hand slid to the back of his neck, then down over his shoulder, slowly.

Holy fuck! Ken felt the front of his face grow warm, and it spread a little down his neck and over his chest. If he'd just move that arm a little… mmm. I'll take one of those - gift-wrapped? Yes please.

"Ken?" Takeru's voice broke through the haze surrounding him. The blonde had managed to get a path cleared for them. "Come on, before they close up again and we're stuck here until next weekend."

Wordlessly, Ken picked up his suitcase, sparing one last glance for the vision beside him. 'Boy with the towel' was now looking at him, staring actually, and when he caught Ken's gaze, he grinned.

Ken looked away quickly, feeling his face flush, and followed Takeru.

"Here's your room," the blonde said, not noticing what had just taken place behind his back. Not that much had been involved for him to notice… "It's a little small, but we've all got the same. You probably won't be in there much, except for sleeping - unless you can study on your own with a lot of noise going on."

Ken tried his voice. "All right." It worked surprisingly well.

"I'm in the room right next door, if you need anything," Takeru continued, still with the friendly expression. "I've usually got a couple of close friends in there - Daisuke, Masao, and Iori, if you want their names - but you're welcome to come in and join us if you want. I'll be introducing them to you at lunch tomorrow, anyway."

"I think I'd rather try for some sleep," Ken admitted, using his weariness from the train ride to cover the fact that he wasn't even sure about Takeru yet, much less his friends. "I'm not really up for conversation right now."

"Gotcha." Takeru grinned. "I'll see you tomorrow, Ken." He ducked into his own room, leaving the dark-haired boy with a key in one hand, a suitcase in the other, and a lot of things to think about.

Well, that's a first. Ken couldn't even remember the last time he'd been on a first-name basis with anyone at any of his schools. It was always 'Ichijouji' - never 'Ken'. I wonder what that means.

Whatever it meant, he'd told Takeru the truth about being tired. Five minutes after he stumbled into his room and arranged his things in the tiny closet space, he'd changed into pajamas and collapsed on the bed. He briefly toyed with the idea of visiting the showers, but didn't feel much like moving. And the thought of showering brought back fresh memories of the boy in the hallway…

With his thoughts full of damp golden-brown skin and wet red hair, sleep was a while in coming.


"Ichijouji! Hey! You up?"

Ken opened the door. He was not only up, he was fully dressed - though he didn't quite feel awake yet. "Yes. Is it time for breakfast yet?"

"Right." Takeru smiled, looking disgustingly alert. "I won't get a chance to introduce you to the others - breakfasts are like that. It's the only time of day when we actually have to be in order. Iori has to eat with the other nineth-graders, and Masao and Daisuke are sitting with guys who have rooms near theirs. We'll see them at lunch, though."

"Oh." Ken decided not to comment. He'd escaped having to meet these mysterious 'friends' of Takeru's one more time. This didn't account for much, since he was forced to sit with a group of boys who had rooms near his, and who had, he remembered, been up talking until the supervisors had come in to make them be quiet, at curfew. Ken occupied himself with looking around the room for the 'boy with the towel', but he couldn't pick out the face in the mess of activity.

The only one who made an effort to communicate with him during breakfast was Takeru - but that turned out not to be the case after the meal. "Hey," another boy said casually, scooting over next to him. "You're in class C, aren't you?"

"That's right," Ken said cautiously. As far as he knew, the homeroom classes didn't mean anything. They were sorted by their birth dates, as he recalled.

"I'll give you five bucks to stick this on Motomiya's back when he comes into class." The boy held out a sheet of paper with a piece of tape on it. On one side were the words 'I suck cock' and then beneath it, 'at 1-800-IM QUEER'. "He won't notice until he takes off his jacket tonight."

Ken glanced from the paper to the boy holding it. I'm trying to convince myself that this school is better than the others I went to, not worse. If this was the kind of thing people here found amusing…

"What's with the silence, man? You gonna do it or what?"

"No." Takeru snatched the paper out of the other boy's hand. "Fuck off, Hayashi."

The boy gave him an evil glare, then turned away. "Why don't you go back to your faggot friend, Takaishi?"

"I told you to fuck off," Takeru said, not looking cheerful at all anymore. "Are you in second grade or what?" He held up the crumpled paper. "This is kid stuff."

Hayashi didn't answer, but gave him another sour look and joined up with a group of boys heading out of the room.

"Don't mind him," Takeru said, casually ripping up the note. "He's probably our best example of a complete asshole. Not to mention thick-skulled and slow-minded. Just ignore him, and he'll eventually leave you alone."

"It doesn't look like he's left this 'Motomiya' person alone," Ken pointed out.

"Because he's prejudiced." Takeru frowned. "This" - he threw the remains of the paper into the garbage as they walked passed it - "is the only way he knows how to deal with someone who's openly bisexual."

"And Motomiya is?"

"Yeah, he's the in-your-face, that's-tough-if-you-don't-like-it kind." Takeru shrugged. "You probably saw him yesterday - he'd be the one who was standing around in the hallway with nothing on but a towel. Typical Motomiya."

Ah. Ken felt goosebumps rise on his arms. So his name is Motomiya. Putting together all the information, he felt an anxious anticipation growing at the pit of his stomach. And he's in my homeroom class.

"Our class is this way," Takeru said, interrupting Ken's thoughts. He led the dark-haired boy down the hallway again. "We're in here all day - just for today. You're probably used to all of this, but we normally move into different classes depending on when we have a particular subject. Today's more of an orientation, and our schedules should be handed out. Tomorrow will be a regular day."

The classrooms were fairly standard - desks in neat rows, blackboard at the front, no windows… resembling a jail cell, actually. Ken left Takeru when he stopped to talk with some of his classmates, and took a seat in the back corner near the far wall. If he escaped everyone's notice, he could get his work done without any sort of foolishness.

There turned out to be a flaw in that reasoning. A couple of flaws, actually.

Ken was getting his pens and binders out from the bag at his feet, ready to take notes, when someone plunked down into the seat in front of him. He made an effort not to look at whoever it was. Don't look at me, I'm not here, I'm blending in with the furniture…

This was shattered as an elbow set itself down confidently in the middle of his book. "So what's a nice guy like you doing sitting over here all by himself, hmm?" The voice was deliberately low and toned like a come-on; this, though, was spoiled by the laughter in it.

Ken looked up, and found a set of brown eyes brought out of his dreams and into real life staring right back at him. His mouth opened, but he couldn't think of anything to say. So he sat there and gaped, while Motomiya's grin seemed to just get wider and wider.

"Not much for conversation, huh?" The red-head leaned across Ken's desk, and lowered his voice to a sultry invitation. "That's all right. The less talking involved, the better the - "

"Would you stop?" A hand suddenly connected with the back of Motomiya's head. "Don't you have better things to do than terrify the new students?"

"Ow!" Motomiya backed off and looked up at Takeru with a wounded expression. "I wasn't terrifying him. I was trying to get to know him." He glanced back at Ken, eyes huge and mournful. "'Sides, how can I be expected to keep my hands to myself if you bring in gorgeous guys with huge, heart-stopping blue eyes?" He said that in such a pitiful tone that Ken almost believed the hurt-puppy look on his face was real. Maybe it is…

The thought made him feel warm, somehow. He tried to be subtle about watching Motomiya move, seeing the smooth line of his jaw, letting his gaze wander to where the golden skin on his throat was cruelly cut off by his uniform… It should meet his shoulder, and continue down over his lightly muscled chest, as it had yesterday, as it more than likely did then, under the clothes that Ken was irrationally wishing would disappear.

"Cut it out." Takeru smacked him across the back of his head again, this time with a rueful smile on his face. "People are going to start thinking you're weird if you keep doing this sort of thing."

Motomiya grinned. "People already think I'm weird."

"Weirder," Takeru corrected himself. "Anyway, I guess I should introduce you. Ken, this is - "

"Hey, we were doing just fine on our own." Motomiya turned back toward Ken. "Weren't we?" His gaze was intense, his grin wicked, and his chest seemed to heave. Oh fuck… The dark-haired boy licked his lips nervously, eyes fastened to the red-head's mouth. It was soft, generous… perfect for kissing. If he leaned forward just a little… he could pretend it was by accident. All he'd have to do was tilt his head, shift…

I want him all over me… touching, tasting… oh yeah…

"All right, back to your seats!" Ken was startled out of his haze of lust by a man at the front of his room, who clapped his hands sharply for silence. Motomiya spun around to face the front, and Takeru hastily took the seat next to Ken's.

Saved by a teacher. Ken put a hand to his lips, feeling stunned. The memory of Motomiya's breath against his mouth was so strong, it was almost as if he actually had been kissed.


"Lunch time!" Takeru reached over and nudged Ken to get his attention while everyone else stood up. "Come on, I'll show you where our table is."

"Hey!" Motomiya frowned at Takeru. "What about - ?"

"Motomiya!" All three boys looked up as the teacher gestured. "I'm sure you'll recall the incident from this morning's lecture. Up to the front immediately."

"See you later," Takeru told the scowling red-head, with a grin. "Come on, Ken."

"Nice meeting you," Ken said, trying to be as neutral as possible, and moved to follow the blonde.

Motomiya grabbed his arm. "That's all? 'Nice meeting you'? Am I just losing my touch, or what?" His grip loosened, and he grinned up at Ken in anticipation. It was impossible to tell if he was joking.

"Uh…" Ken searched for an excuse for his mind to override his groin. Huge brown eyes seemed to offer an open invitation, drawing attention to the smooth skin surrounding them, just begging to be touched. Who wouldn't want to be with him? Damn, he's probably already screwed every guy with any sort of homosexual urges in this whole place!

So he's probably just joking, right? He can have anyone he wants, why would he need me? Ken licked his lips again, nervously. If he had his way, he'd be able to jump the red-head right there, and no one would say or do anything to stop it. He'd push Motomiya back against the desk, probably get groped a little, run his hands over those hidden crevices all over that golden-skinned body…

"Motomiya! Stop fooling around and get over here!"

The red-head made a face. "Yeah, yeah." He smiled at Ken. "Hey, I'll see you later, okay?" Then he darted off through the desks to the front of the class.

Takeru poked the still-dazed Ken. "Come on," he said, gesturing toward the door. "Don't let him get to you. That's just how he is - the attention span of a three-year-old."

"Yeah." Ken shook his head, trying to rid himself of those daydreams. He shifted his coat, feeling twinges of heat, and half-afraid that the fantasy from a moment before would start to show itself physically.

"Our table's over there." As soon as they walked into the cafeteria, Takeru pointed to a small table at the far end, with four seats. Two of them were already taken. "Oh good. Iori and Masao are there already. Come on, I'll introduce you." He started across the room.

Ken felt like a bucket of cold water had doused him, shocking him out of the partly aroused state that the encounter with Motomiya had left him in. This is it… Taking a deep breath, he followed Takeru.

"Here he is." The blonde grinned at Ken as the two sitting at the table looked up curiously. "This is Ichijouji Ken."

"Hey," Ken said, cautiously.

"This is Hida Iori." Takeru gestured toward a shorter boy with neatly cut hair and serious green eyes. He looked a couple of years younger than the rest of them. "He's in ninth grade, class B."

"Nice to meet you," Iori said politely.

"And this is Inoue Masao." The boy he was pointing at this time had short hair, huge glasses, and somewhat effeminate features. He was probably a couple of inches above Ken, despite that. "Our grade, class A."

"Hey," Masao said, imitating Ken. Then he looked at Takeru, and grinned. "Has Daisuke seen him yet? Or do we get the 'look at me, I'm Mr. Stud' material?"

"No, they've met." Takeru gave him a rueful grin. "Which means we get the 'look at me again, I'm still Mr. Stud' material. And here he comes now."

"Sorry I'm late!" Motomiya sudden but into the conversation, stealing one of the chairs before Takeru could sit down or offer one to Ken. "Hey," he said, grinning up at the startled new boy. "We meet again."

"You are such a freak, Daisuke!" Masao said scornfully. "Do you have to come on to every guy with two arms and legs."

"Hell, no! I've got standards, you know!" Motomiya grinned, leaning back in his chair. "They need to have a face, too. Never let it be said that I'm not selective. Hey, are we gonna go get some food soon, or what? I'm starving!"

Masao raised an eyebrow and smirked at the newly identified Daisuke. "Well, yeah, of course - honestly, though, how do you fit food around that big clunker you call a foot?"

"Huh?" Daisuke blinked for a moment, not getting the joke. Then he scowled. "Hey! What are you talking about? I talk smoother than any guy here."

"Yeah, sure." Masao rolled his eyes. "The words flow, but there's obviously been no thought put into them. You've pretty much announced that you'll sleep with anything that moves, and then you expect Ken to believe your compliments? Please!"

Daisuke looked crestfallen. "But I mean it!" he protested, looking up at Ken with big, pleading eyes. "Really Ken!"

Having already seen Daisuke in action, Ken resisted the urge to say "yes" right away, and then fall into the red-head's arms with a dramatic, 'Take me, I'm yours.' Much as he would've liked to do that… if only to feel Daisuke's lithe body against his… "And you mean it every time you say it to any guy, right?"

Masao burst out laughing, Takeru snickered, and even the straight-faced Iori cracked a little smile. Daisuke tried to get his protests out above Masao's loud guffaws. "I did mean it! I'm not just using a line! Okay, so maybe I am, but I mean it! I do!"

"Oh, he shot you down!" Masao grinned, clapping Ken's arm. "You know, this guy's all right! I think he fits in pretty well, don't you?"

"Feels like he's part of the group already," Iori answered mildly.

"I told you!" Takeru smiled. "You guys should learn to trust me more."

Ken smiled and sat down next to Daisuke. He'd be getting up again soon to fill up a tray, but for the moment, with everyone arguing cheerfully over the table, it felt nice to be accepted. They seem harmless… I guess I'm safe for now.


"So." Ken felt confident enough to risk actually speaking up, as class ended for the day. He looked at Takeru, judging him to be unofficial leader of the group. "What sorts of things do you do after school?"

"Well…" The blonde hesitated.

"Arcades!" Daisuke interrupted, slinging an arm around Ken's shoulders. This was a little difficult, since the red-head was a few inches shorter than him. "There's some in town - they're small and pathetic, but they're games! Fun! Come on, I'll show you around. My treat." He wagged his eyebrows suggestively.

Ken was beginning to understand why Takeru had suggested that he not take Daisuke seriously. Much as he wanted to… "All right," he agreed. "Are the rest of you coming, or…?" He still found himself hoping that maybe, if the two of them were alone…

"And spoil my chances of getting you alone? Hell no!" Daisuke suddenly shifted his arm against Ken's shoulders, seeming almost awkward at the contact. "You're mine for the afternoon, Ichijouji, all mine!" He gave what was likely supposed to be a sinister chuckle - but which sounded more like some strange sort of humming noise.

Yeah, I wish Ken thought ruefully. "That sounds good," he said out loud, shrugging a little. Daisuke was standing so close… he could move a little and maybe brush against him. Being a little in front of him, though, he wouldn't get a chance to find out if that nicely rounded ass was as tight as it -

"That's fine with me." Takeru's voice interrupted that line of thought. "I've got some things to do today, anyway. Iori and Masao might want to come, though."

"Yeah, but that's why I'm not telling them." Daisuke grinned. "They cramp my style. I'll let you break the good news to them."

"Thanks," the blonde answered, flatly.

"No charge. Be seeing you, Takeru!" Daisuke grabbed Ken's arm and pulled him from the room. "Now, finally, we're alone…" He leaned toward the dark-haired boy, a wicked smile forming on his face. "I've been waiting to get my hands on you all day…"

Ken had a sudden idea, one that he hoped would occupy him enough to counteract the waves of heat rushing through him at such close contact with the object of his lust. "Oh, have you?" he whispered, in a fair imitation of Daisuke's tone, leaning back over the shorter boy and letting out a slow, hot breath to brush against his mouth.

The red-head seemed surprised; he backed off and stared at Ken. "Uh… yeah," he agreed, obviously trying to win back the advantage. "But, um, not in the school halls, huh?"

And that answered the question once and for all of whether or not he was serious. Ken felt relieved for having figured it out - and at the same time, highly disappointed. After that, he wouldn't have minded skipping the arcades and heading back to someplace private to explore the more interesting areas hidden under Daisuke's school uniform. But, this is for the best, I guess. Ken sighed inwardly. He wasn't really interested in the first place.

"Come on, Ken!" Daisuke called, from up ahead. "Dude, you're slow!"

"Yeah right." He forced a laugh, and hurried to catch up. I'm not the only one… Slow and sexy. I certainly know how to pick them, don't I?