12 Outed

Wednesday morning, Tom took Peter to meet Amanda, the psychologist. “Find me at the office when you’re done, or in Carlson 210 until lunch time,” Tom said.

“I’ll just come to your class,” Peter said, and Tom waved as he departed. Outside, Tome noted a slight chill in the air. Halloween was approaching, and he reminded himself that he wanted to get together with Alasdair to go over the ‘security’ at the school.

Back at his office, Tom finished preparing for class. Before long, Walt stuck his head in and asked, “Everything okay? I saw you coming out of the hospital yesterday but couldn’t catch you.”

“Peter had an injury they missed and it’s been bothering him,” Tom frowned. “Otherwise, okay!”

“Good! Good!” the man said with a smile. “Martha’s been talking about you boys non-stop. If you have some time before Thanksgiving,” he began, and Tom raised a hand with a smile.

“Why don’t you two come over for dinner on Friday? The boys might have plans, but Aiden and I are staying in. We’d love to have you!” Tom suggested.

Walt nodded with a smile and slipped out. Tom quickly called and sent texts to Aiden and the boys to let them know that they should try to plan to have dinner at home on Friday.

A few moments later, he got a text from David reminding him Sebastien would be staying over. Tom responded, ‘Thanks. I forgot! No texting in school.” Then he hurried to his first class of the morning. After a short break, his second class was just about to begin when Peter slipped in and sat in the back.

At the end of class, Tom looked over at Peter who started his way but was intercepted by a young woman. “Peter?” she asked.

He smiled. “Maggie? How are you?” His eyes lit up as the young woman gave him a quick hug.

“Ok,” she said. “But how are you?”

“Better!” he said, smiling.

She nodded, and lowered her voice. “I heard you had dropped out.”

Peter shook his head and looked around. When the crowd around them dispersed, he said, “My parents cut me off, so I was on the streets for a while and barely survived.”

What happened?” she asked, sounding shocked.

Peter smiled and shook his head. “Remember ‘They’re your parents! They’ll get over it!’?” he asked, and she nodded, a grim look on her face. “They didn’t!”

“But you’re back now?” She asked, feeling terrible.

“Maggie,” he said softly. “I don’t blame you guys. You had no idea how my parents were. I should have known better.” Maggie had been a friend, a kind of mentor. A junior, the girl was out loud and proud, a leader in the Gay-Straight Alliance.

The girl wiped her eyes, tearful at what happened. Usually, the failures weren’t so dramatic. “Still, I’m sorry!”

“I’m recovering! I’ll be back next semester, and my little brother’s with me now,” Tom said.

“Is he gay too?” she asked, wondering how his brother had come to live with him.

Peter laughed. “Total chick magnet! Uhm, my parents are in jail.”

Maggie’s eyes widened, and she exclaimed, “No! Peter?” Then she threw her arms around him and whispered, “I am so sorry!”

Tom approached them and asked, gently, “Everything okay here?”

“Oh, professor, of course! Just catching up with an old friend,” she said, wiping her eyes.

“I’m glad you’re alright, too, Ms. Radner, but I meant Peter,” he said with a smile.

Peter nodded and explained, “Dr. Corman saved my life a few times. I was literally bleeding to death when he found me. Then he took me in, and later he and Aiden helped me with my brother….”

“Aiden?” Maggie asked.

“Tom’s,” Peter began, before putting his hand over his mouth, his face reddening. “I’m sorry, Tom.”

“Ms. Radner, Aiden is my boyfriend. Surely you’ve heard about me?” Tom said.

Maggie nodded. “I was very sorry to hear about your loss,” she said sincerely.

“Thank you,” Tom said. “I don’t flaunt my orientation, but I don’t hide it either.”

A look spread over Maggie’s face, one part deviousness, and one part determination. “In that case, I have a proposition for you,” she began, but Tom raised his hand.

“Sorry, but I have to teach soon, so it’ll have to wait!” Tom said.

“Want to get lunch?” she asked Peter, then.

“Sure,” he said.

“Then we’ll talk later, professor,” she said with a smirk that let Tom know he’d be hearing from her soon and walked off, taking Peter’s arm in a friendly gesture. “So tell me everything,” she said, turning her attention to Peter.

He shook his head and said, “Let’s get lunch somewhere private then!”

She nodded, and they went to a nearby Thai restaurant and sat in the back corner booth. “So my parents kicked me out when I came out,” he began the long version of the story, and the girl was alternately in tears and laughing as Peter kept her rapt with his story. He sanitized the supernatural bits, except the fact that his parents were closet Satanist murderers.

“So Professor Corman saved you that day in the street, and then by taking you in, and then he saved your brother from murderers and child molesters?” Peter nodded at her summary of his situation, and she shook her head in awe. “He’s … a hero,” she added breathless.

“You don’t know the half of it,” Peter laughed.

“I bet,” she said, and he could see the wheels turning in her head.

“Maggie?” he asked seriously. Then, more worried, “Maggie!”

“The man’s a hero! We need a hero,” she thought out loud.

“Maggie, he doesn’t want the attention,” Peter said, shaking his head. “Don’t do it, please?”

“I promise, I’ll talk to him first,” she answered and he didn’t look satisfied.

Peter smacked himself mentally for forgetting that his friend was a reporter for the school newspaper. When he left the restaurant, he made his way toward Tom’s office, but the man was still teaching, so he sat down in the hall and put his head in his hands.

Unexpectedly a voice said, “Peter?” The boy looked up and saw Walt peering down at him with concern. “Are you alright?”

Peter shook his head and began to cry. “There, there,” Walt said, patting the boy on the head in a grandfatherly move, “come down to my office.” The boy followed dutifully and Walt closed the door, urging Peter into a comfortable chair. “Now, want to talk about it?”

Slowly, Peter opened up and said, “I messed up,” before launching into how he’d been so excited to reconnect with an old friend and how he’d spilled his guts, and how the girl was probably even now researching a front-page story about Tom.

Walt nodded at the boy and smiled, easing into a seat just across from him. “What do you think will happen now?”

“Tom’s going to be pissed at me,” Peter said, sounding destitute. “He doesn’t want to be in the spotlight, and I ruined that for him!”

“Peter, I’ve known Tom a lot longer than you! My son was a sweet boy, but he could push your buttons if he wanted to, like the best of them. I never saw or heard Tom lose his temper. He loves you boys, he really does. Just talk to him!”

Just then there was a knock at the door and Walt said, “Give me a minute?”

Tom opened the door slightly. “Someone said Peter was in here. Is everything,” but the question died in his throat as he saw the boy crying. He dropped to his knees in front of Peter, asking, “What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”

Peter began to cry in earnest. “Tom, I didn’t mean to cause trouble, I really didn’t but,” the boy’s tears overcame his ability to speak as he felt Tom’s arms close around him.

“What happened?” Tom asked, soothingly.

“I was talking to Maggie, and she asked about what I said about you saving me, so I told her my story,” he got out in a burst, but seeing Tom’s face, he added, “only the kosher parts! Anyway, I forgot she’s on the paper staff and now I think she wants to write about you, and I’m sorry I didn’t mean to out you to the whole campus and put the spotlight on you, it felt so good to talk to someone and I….” He stopped when he realized Tom was laughing.

“I thought this was serious,” Tom said, sounding relieved. “Honestly I’m surprised my involvement in your parents’ case hasn’t gotten more attention! As for saving you, I don’t mind saying I’m proud of that. Do I want the attention? No! But if that’s the biggest price I have to pay, I’ll count myself lucky.”

Tom could feel the anxiety flow from the boy like water out of a sieve, as Peter collapsed in his arms. “Let’s go down to my office and let Walt have his back!”

Back in his office, Tom told Peter, “I don’t blame you!” The boy was still feeling guilty. “I’m not ecstatic, but so what? I’ll get over it!”

Tom sat down and waited for Peter to say something, and both of them were startled when there was a knock at the doorframe. “Speak of the devil,” he smiled unenthusiastically.

Maggie looked back and forth between them. “I’m sorry, but the story is just too good.”

“Maggie, using your friends as sources, taking advantage of your friendship and your friend’s weakened state, well, it’s just not nice,” Tom said. “Certainly not ethical!”

“I didn’t take advantage, it’s just, as he told what you did for him, it was too much! Professor, on campus, guys still get picked on, girls get shunned! Even allies are treated badly. And here you are, a powerful, successful young man on campus; you’re a role model and you could be a leader. You could help show those poor kids that there is hope on the other side of the closet,” Maggie said.

“You’re going to write your story, no matter what I want, so you don’t have to sell it,” Tom said grouchily. Yet she had a point: He was lucky and plenty of kids were suffering.

“I’m not even talking about the story, but you’re right about that. People here need a role model,” she challenged her professor without flinching. “You’ve never even been to a GSA meeting! Our faculty advisor is Marsha Washington! That old schoolmarm wouldn’t know that there was a gay student on campus if it wasn’t for rubber-stamping our budget!”

Tom motioned impatiently for her to sit. “I’m not a leader, Maggie. I wish I was. I’m just a quiet medievalist who lives his life and wants to be happy.”

“A quiet medievalist who saves dying boys in the street, solves decades-old serial murder cases, and takes in strays. Yeah, who’d admire that? Who could he help?” she asked with quiet, confident sarcasm. “And then there are the rumors,” she added with a smile.

Tom looked at Peter who shrugged in confusion. “What are you talking about?” Tom asked.

“Well, you being able to help solve a ritual murder put some things together for me. There were rumors that you were an occultist, at least before you came here. You know so much about it,” she said and Tom gritted his jaw.

“Is this blackmail?” he asked, his voice hardening, and for the first time she looked nervous.

“I’m not going to print that, sir,” she said meekly. “I only mean there’s more to you than you say. And we need your help, sir.”

Tom considered her – one of his better students, a brave, young, out lesbian trying to make the world, his world, a happier place for gay teens and young adults. “I’m not giving you an answer today,” he said at last. “But then you know where to find me,” he said, deadpan, before smiling at his own joke. “I’d need to talk to Aiden, and to Professor Washington. I assume she’s willing to give up her role?” The girl just laughed. “Alright, let me mull it over,” he said.

She nodded and said, “Thank you, sir!” And then she did a double take and said, “You know, that story would look a lot more like what you want it to if you’d talk to me, answer some questions, point me in the right direction,” risking overstepping the man’s good will.

Tom looked at Peter and smiled, grabbing a piece of paper. He wrote down the names and numbers of a couple of people working the case, including Jim and Carl. “If they won’t talk to you, tell them to call me and I’ll confirm it’s alright to tell you anything they can legally,” he said. “Then you come to my place and talk to Peter and I together.”

“Thank you,” she said again, excited, making her getaway.

“Persistent, isn’t she?” Peter asked with a weak smile. Tom smiled and nodded warmly.

The two of them returned home and Peter locked himself in his room, still very much blaming himself for the turn of events the day had brought. Despite Tom’s protests to the contrary, Peter felt like he had let the man down and violated his privacy.

Aiden found Tom sitting silently at his computer gazing off into space. “This isn’t like the efficient Dr. Corman I know,” he teased, and Tom nodded.

Tom smiled, emerging from deep thoughts and said, “Sit with me for a minute?”

Aiden sat on the little loveseat looking concerned, and Tom moved over by him, laying his head on the man’s shoulder. “Aiden, I lived so long alone in my own world, I hope you know if I don’t tell you something, it’s just a bad old habit,” Tom said and Aiden nodded, feeling a little childish now about how hurt he had been. “But I’m trying!”

“I’m sorry for,” Aiden began, but Tom cut him off gently with a kiss.

“Please, don’t! I forgot to tell you about my meeting with Chief Pryce,” he began and filled the man in on their conversation.

Aiden smiled and said, “I think I know why he didn’t mention it to me now! I’ve been on a couple of those cases, and he didn’t want my observations to color your theories!”

“That does make sense,” Tom smiled, “so let’s not talk about those cases until I’ve had a chance to look things over?”

Right!” Aiden said putting his hands up and smiling.

“There’s something else I wanted to run by you,” Tom said, and gave him the digest of what had happened with Maggie, both the story and her request that he become the GSA adviser.

“What are you going to do?” Aiden asked.

“I was going to ask for your advice!” Tom replied cheekily.

Aiden said, “You should do it. You’re well liked, fairly secure in your job, and a great role model.”

“You think so?” Tom asked, his eyes glistening.

“There’s no one I’d rather have a bunch of kids looking up to,” the man said genuinely.

“Amen to that,” David echoed as he marched into the room and dropped his bag near a chair. “Sorry to interrupt, love birds,” he added.

“What’s up, my man?” Aiden asked with a laugh as he hugged Tom closer.

“Not much,” the boy smiled, settling into a chair. “I thought I’d come in here and do my work. No TV!”

The men laughed and Tom said, “Well, get to it. Dinner will be in about an hour!”

“What’s on the menu?” David asked.

“Probably Chinese,” Tom replied. “I’m beat!”

Tom decided, and did call up the Chinese place, and was surprised that it was Billy who answered, though the boy didn’t recognize him. “What can I get for you?” Billy asked.

“Hmmm, I’d like a full serving of hot and spicy college boy, with a side of sweet buns,” he said, suppressing a giggle at the silence on the other end and the look on Aiden’s face.

“Uhm, excuse me,” the boy stuttered.

Tom responded, “We don’t care what food you send us, as long as you send that adorable little college boy to deliver it!” Then, no longer able to control himself, Tom began to laugh and said, “Sorry, Billy, I couldn’t help myself. It’s Tom Corman….”

Tom heard the boy exhale and could imagine he was seven shades of pink. “God, you had me going,” the boy laughed. Then he added conspiratorially, “I’m not sure, but I think that item may have been removed from the menu.”

“Yeah?” Tom asked.

“I hope so,” Billy replied. “Now what can I get for you?”

“Well, in that case,” he said, casting a wicked glance at Aiden, “do you have any boys in about 8.5 inches?”

Aiden picked up the other line and said, “Billy, you know what we like! Dinner for six and make it snappy! Can you stay for dinner?”

“Yeah, I worked the lunch shift today so I’m just getting off. I’ll bring it with me if you’re paying by card,” he said, and the man gave him a credit card number.

Tom!” Aiden laughed as they hung up. “You shouldn’t torture the boy. You know he had the hots for you!”

“Not anymore,” Tom laughed. “He’s really into Peter right now….”

“Still,” Aiden said, “all that dirty talk makes me want to teach you a lesson.”

His eyes twinkling, Tom said, “Oh, that’s the game? And I get to be the student? Nice change of pace!” Aiden playfully chased him to their room. Tom cautioned, “We don’t have time!” But Aiden shut him up with a kiss. “Aiden!” Tom protested again as he felt the man rub his cock through his pants.

Then Aiden stood and smiled, “Teasing’s not so cool, now, is it, mister?” With that, he changed in front of Tom, making him even harder, before heading out to watch TV.

The next morning, Tom walked into the bathroom behind Aiden and wrapped his arms around the man’s waist. “Last night was fun,” he grinned as he kissed Aiden’s shoulder.

“Even better than the first time,” Aiden blushed, thinking of how he’d begged for more.

Then Tom swatted the man on his ass and stepped up next to him to brush his teeth. “I’ll be working at the station today. If you’re free for lunch,” he said.

“I’ll mention it to Jim. We keep our radios turned on low. But if we’re not around, we’re on a call,” Aiden said, finishing shaving and pulling on his shirt.

Tom hurried to make breakfast, and Aiden took his to go. After getting David out the door and checking with Peter about his plans, Tom grabbed his briefcase and headed down to the station. He showed his I.D. card at the duty sergeant’s desk and the man picked up a phone. “He’s here, sir.”

Tom saw Chief Pryce hurry down. “Tom! Bright and early! I appreciate that!”

“Thanks, Lincoln,” Tom said, just noticing the sergeant’s surprise at the level of familiarity between the men. “I wanted to get started on this!”

“I’ll stay out of your hair, Tom, but some things have changed,” he said, as he walked with Tom. “When we ran some searches based on recent cases, we turned up a few more cases than I anticipated.”

Tom opened the door and found that one wall was nearly stacked with boxes. Dozens of boxes. “Each of those boxes?”

“Represents the case files for an incident matching our recent crime-spree,” Lincoln said, hesitantly.

“Even eight hours a day, twice a week, this will take ages,” Tom said, rubbing his brow.

“Well, I’ve got some help for you. Cadets Baker and Smith,” he said, motioning the young trainees into the room, “are at your disposal until you’re done.”

Tom nodded, and said, “Let’s get to it. I’ll keep you up-to-date, Lincoln,” he said as the man took his leave. Then he looked at the cadets, little older than his students, and said, “You folks ready to work?”

Both nodded stiffly, and he said, “Baker?”

The young woman, a petite but muscular African American, said, “Yes, sir?”

“Pin that map to the wall,” he said. Then he looked at the tall, lanky man and said, “Smith?”

The young man nodded, and Tom pointed to the highest boxes on the pile. “Grab three down and spread them out on the table. I want to map the locations of the crime scenes. Smith, keep the boxes coming. Baker, get me the addresses, and I’ll map them.”

They got down to work, and got halfway through the boxes by lunch time. “Alright, guys, you’re doing great. Take forty-five for lunch. I’d like to finish the map by the time we leave.”

Baker held back and asked. “Excuse me, sir, but wouldn’t this be easier on the computer?”

“Maybe,” he said, “and if you’re good on the computer I might get you to set that up for me, but I like to have the big picture spread out. Chief Pryce isn’t splurging for a huge computer screen for the conference room! Besides, I’m just an old-fashioned kind of guy like that,” he added with a laugh. The young woman nodded and he saw her smile for the first time. Tom found the desk sergeant and asked if Jim and Aiden were available for lunch.

The man checked their location and said, “They’re headed this way.” As Tom started to walk away, the man called, “So you’re him?”

Tom arched his eyebrows and walked back, not wanting this conversation to carry. “What’s that?”

The man sputtered a little, “I thought you might be O’Connel’s … I don’t know what you guys call yourselves, uhm, oh hell,” the man said, flustered. “I don’t mean to be an ass. You’re O’Connell’s friend?”

Tom smiled and shook the man’s hand again. “Tom Corman.”

“Buzz Gilroy,” the man said. “My man says you’re a college professor?”

“Yeah, I teach philosophy over at the University,” he said.

“You aren’t what I imagined,” the man admitted. “You look like one of us, no offense or nothing.”

“None taken,” Tom said. Unable to help himself with the awkward man who was obviously Aiden’s friend, Tom said, “Some people really have a thing for the boy’s in blue.”

“Is that so, doc?” a loud voice asked. “My bud is taken, so stop hitting him up,” Aiden added with a wink, bumping Tom with his shoulder. “Ready for lunch? Jim’s parking down by the deli!”

“Nice to meet you, Buzz,” Tom smiled and followed Aiden. At the last minute he looked over his shoulder and asked, “You set for lunch?” The man shook his head, and Tom asked, “What kind of sandwich you like?”

“Reuben,” the man said, reaching for his wallet.

“My favorite,” Tom said. “It’s on me! Have to keep the desk sergeant!”

As they walked out of the station, Aiden smiled and said, “Buzz is a good guy. He had my back when I was a rookie and got outed to the whole force.”

“Outed?” Tom asked.

“Sure, I was out to my family and closest friends, but I kept it under wraps through the academy. I’d been on the force for a few months, and I left my wallet on a bench in the locker room. Someone opened it up and found my registration for an AIDS walk and a schedule for D.C.’s Pride Parade,” he said. “I guess it was the wrong person, because I was outed all over the place, and when confronted I refused to deny it.”

“One day, a couple of guys cornered me in the locker room and tried to make a point. All I had was my towel around my waist, and they had clubs,” Aiden said, disgust creeping into his voice. “The first guy moved in, and I used the towel to deflect him, but when the second guy moved in, I was in trouble. Out of nowhere and all of a sudden, in that echo-chamber, we all hear this loud metal click. Then the second guy feels a cold barrel against his back. ‘Touch him and I’ll drop you, scumbag,’ Buzz says to him. The guy says, ‘This ain’t none of your concern,’ but he’s sweating bullets. ‘It is now,’ Buzz answered, ‘so get the fuck out of here!’ When they were gone, Buzz said, ‘Why don’t you get that towel and cover your business, princess?’ as he uncocked the pistol and holstered it. I just stood there like a dumbass until he laughed and told me his kid brother was an actor, which he thought I’d understand meant gay.”

“He does have a way with words,” Tom said, laughing, and they joined Jim at a table.

Tom made sure to pick up a sandwich for the sergeant and decided to add a nice desert. As he dropped it with the man on his way back, Tom made sure to say, “By the way, you are officially my hero!” Buzz just smiled and nodded.