Ty pulled the blanket tighter around himself as he looked out of the second floor window of the dorm room. The rain made everything outside sluggish and grey. Just outside, the sidewalk was a wet death trap, forcing students to trudge through the saturated, though slightly safer grass path. He could just see the blurred outline of his two roommates dodging puddles while holding the single umbrella over the both of them as they pressed tightly together, their broad shoulders being far wider than the umbrella could cover.
Ty burrowed further into the window seat and sighed. It was the day after one of his insane mid-semester exam. He was useless and everyone knew it. After studiously ignoring everyone for the better part of two weeks, Ty was ready to catch up on his sleep and socializing and then get back to it. None had suffered Ty’s study methods more than his roommates, Nick and Zane.
I swear to God, if you two don’t shut the hell up...” Ty fussed towards his two idiotic friends. “I’ve told you a million damn times, if you can’t keep quiet, get the fuck out. I don’t have time for this bullshit.”
From the corner of the room where their two full beds were crammed against each other, the heads of the bed making a corner and the frames pressed against the adjacent walls, Zane and Nick conspired. As far as Ty was concerned, just their heads being so close to each other was a bad thing. They like, swapped thoughts and shit. Dreaming up new ways to torture Ty into failing his classes. He was gonna fucking kill them in their sleep.
Nick looked up over his laptop and side eyed Ty before glancing at Zane. They had some kind of wordless communication going on and Ty wanted to scream. “I’m not doing anything,” Nick said innocently.
“You’re doing the thing. You’re both doing the thing. The togetherness thing that you know I hate,” Ty growled.
Zane’s phone buzzed in his hand and he looked up at Ty questioningly, then his eyes guiltily moved to Nick’s. “Did he say we’re doing the thing again?” Zane asked in mock annoyance.
“You know I can feel you watching me, and I can tell when you’re not and that just means you’re looking at each other,” he explained.
“Wow,” his roommates said in unison.
“I hate you both.”
He had been paranoid and short tempered. What could he say? Midterms had been at stake.
He owed them an apology. Several apologies, especially after that really late pizza run he made Nick do in his Lucky Charms pajamas. Totally worth it though.
He also need to talk to them about the night after he’d came back early from the library two days before his exam.
Just down the hall from their door, Nick had had Zane pinned against the wall, hip to hip, chest to chest, head bent to touch his lips to Zane’s neck and Ty had froze at the opposite end of the hall. Heat burned his face as he’d watched Zane’s hand twisted around his roommate’s arm and curled up into his short red hair, pulling Nick away from his neck and pressing their lips together in a short, hard kiss.
Looking down and away from the sight at the other end of the hall, Ty realized they weren’t the only ones in the hall anymore; behind him the door slid open to admit several other student.
As he looked back up, their bodies were separated and their questioning gazes on him.
Fire burned in his chest and he turned and fled back to the library.
He’d returned inevitably, but neither of his roommates said a word and Ty was too flustered just thinking about it to say anthing. What he’d seen was never far from his thoughts; Zane’s face a mask of amused pleasure as Nick pressed kisses into his throat; possessive fingers tight around the other’s waist. It was becoming a well worn memory, replayed often.
Ty wasn’t sure how to broach the subject with looking like an idiot. He wanted to tell them he was happy for them, that they deserved each other; that they were important to him and he’d do anything for them. But just the though of them together did things to Ty he didn’t want to examine.
“Trouble in paradise?” Becky needled.
Ty wasn’t amused.
Books were scattered between them on the large library table. Several medical volumes were beginning to form a tower to Ty’s right, while Becky’s own economic tombs were splayed open and covered with post-its.
They’d met in Ty’s freshmen psychology class, but their friendship didn’t end with class or their separation of majors. Ty in the pre-med program and Becky in the Business Management program.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“He keeps watching you,” Shannon, Becky’s partner, added from behind a bookshelf, nodding her head in Zane’s direction a few tables down.
“I’m not talking about this,” Ty huffed, feeling vaguely mortified by his friend’s questions.
A small hand emerged from under their table and placed a grape beside Ty’s hand. He ate it quickly and nudged Elaina’s leg under the table. “Thanks darlin’,” Ty crooned. Shannon’s daughter usually tagged along for their study time at the library. Ty adored her.
The girl stuck her head out from beneath the table and gave Ty a knowing gaze that only little girls can make and said, “Uncle Tyler, Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, you know?”
Shannon and Becky snickered around him and he groaned. “I’m not in denial. I’m just selective about what reality I accept.*”
Down the corridor created by bookshelves, Zane sat alone with his book bag and laptop open. Ty hadn’t caught him looking because he was most certainly not looking at Zane. It was awkward. And he still got butterflies just looking at him or Nick.
“Go talk to him,” Becky encouraged. “You’ll have to start the conversation. The way you’ve been looking, I wouldn’t want to walk up to you and start chatting either. Go. Now.”
Ty held back a frown and cut his eyes over to Zane again. How he’d been looking? “What do you mean how I look?”
His friend leaned in across the table and waved him closer. “You look a bit grouchy, but I know it’s ‘cause you’re lovesick.”
Heat rolled in his chest, boiling just under the surface of his skin. Was that what that feeling was?
After a few moments of silence, Ty said softly, “That’s not true.”
A disembodied voice floated from beneath the table. “Denial,” it whispered.
He looked to Zane and their eyes met and Ty grabbed his stuff and left quickly, leaving Becky and Shannon shaking their heads and Elaina munching happily on her grapes.
Ty entered the doom room violently, tossing his pack to the floor, back pressed against the closed door. The fear, anxiety and panic in his mind making his chest heave and his breath short.
“Ty, what’s wrong?”
Some unknown emotion rolled up Ty’s throat at the sight of Nick quickly jumping up from his bed, worry painting his face, hands reaching to help in some way.
“N-nick,” Ty stuttered. “I’m just... I was going to...”
His friend watched him fumble and Ty’s blush spread across his face. “Okay. It’s cool.”
Ty’s gut cramped with fear and he pressed his chin against his chest, squeezing his eyes shut. This could all go horribly wrong and he wasn’t ready for it. Air rushed out of his lungs in a great exhale. “I’m so fucking sorry!”
“For what?” Nick exclaimed. “Ty, you’ve done nothing wrong.”
Ty’s head shook before Nick could finish. “Yes, I have. I’ve made things weird between us, all three of us. I didn’t mean to... I shouldn’t have...”
“Is this about the other night? With me and Zane?”
“I want things to be like before,” Ty said miserably to the beige carpet of their room.
Nick frowned but moved forward. “What do you mean?”
“I can’t even look you two, haven’t you notice?”
The room felt smaller the closer Nick moved. Ty felt trapped, but not by his friend. Things were spiraling out of his control.
“Do you want us to move out?”
Ty’s head shot up and he locked eyes with Nick. “No... that's not what...”
Nick was clearly upset. “Then what, what can I do?”
And then Ty remembered the first day they met in that stupid comic book store just across the road from campus. Elaina was wrapped around his leg, pulling him this way and that way, begging for comics he’d never even heard of. She tugged a comic from the front of a rack and a landslide began despite Ty’s attempts to avert it. “ ‘Laina, I swear...”
“It’s cool man, it was an accident,” a heavy Boston accent informed him.
The man had fire red hair sticking from beneath a baseball cap and blinding smile that threw Ty for a loop. Nick had introduced him to Zane a few days later and they’d become inseparable after that.
They were inseparable and now Ty knew why. They were the best friends he’d ever had. They made his homesickness better, never letting him fall into himself and be miserable. The city life was hard on Ty, having grown up in the mountains. His roommates often took him hiking and biking, letting him reconnect with the wilderness that couldn’t be found on campus or in the city. He felt at home with them. He was happy.
Ty came back to himself, to Nick, looking like a kicked puppy. Ty hated himself for putting that look there.
“I love you, both of you,” Ty whispered to Nick. “I’m not upset that you’re gay or together. I’m upset because I didn’t realize I was in love with both of you and I can’t do anything about it. God, this isn’t - ”
Nick pressed him back against the door with fists in his shirt, covering Ty’s mouth with his.
Ty parted his lips slowly and melted against Nick as their tongues met in a hot exhale into each other’s mouth. Nick’s hand pressed up Ty’s throat, pulling at his jaw to get deeper into his mouth. Nick devoured his mouth and Ty let him.
He trembled as Nick pulled back and peppered kisses against his jaw and neck. The redhead was pulling against the collar of Ty’s shirt when the door they were pressed against pushed against them.
Nick pulled Ty away as Zane calmly entered the room.
They all just stared at one another.
“Yeah?” Zane said to Nick.
“Yeah,” Nick confirmed with a sheepish grin.
Ty watched the two of them in confusion. Zane didn’t seem to be upset that he’d caught Nick in a compromising situation with Ty. In fact, he seemed rather amused about it. “What’s going on?”
“I told him you wanted us, but he didn’t think so,” Zane confessed with a huge smile. “He thought you’d tell us to fuck off.”
“So...,” Ty tried. “We all want each other and that’s okay?”
His roommates shared an intimate look and said, “Hell yes.”
“Oh, good. Then I can do this now,” Ty said before he walked up to Zane and pulled his mouth down to his.
“God, I love college,” Nick declared from behind them.
Ty happily agreed.