Andrew Parish has waited four years to tell Dr. Levi McCrea how he feels about him. Four years of sparring in his classroom. Four years of challenging the brilliant older man. Now, on the eve of graduating from UC Berkeley, he can’t wait any longer.
When his most provocative student shows up on his doorstep, Levi isn’t sure what to think, especially when Andrew asks him out on a date. The fact that Levi doesn’t go out with students, however, doesn’t dissuade Andrew. He simply vows to come back the next day after he has his diploma in hand.
After all, Andrew has waited four long years. One more day won’t matter ...
Andrew Parish had found his way under Levi’s skin as a freshman, and he’d never left. He was stubborn, and arrogant, and far too confident in his own abilities. Andrew Parish never asked anybody for anything, because he had complete faith in himself. When he did ask for a favor, like a recommendation letter, he always did so with a royal air, as though he was granting the favor, not requesting one. As though everybody was merely waiting for their chance to finally serve Andrew Parish and his needs. Despite his attitude, he was a goodnatured boy. Remarkably kind-hearted. Pleasant. Levi had understood quickly that if he ever let himself think about Andrew as anything more than a student, he’d be too tempted to keep crossing lines.
He didn’t even consider Andrew a friend, though he saw Andrew more often than most of his colleagues and lovers. He couldn’t think about what it might be like to see Andrew out of class. He couldn’t pretend Andrew was a peer. He couldn’t even acknowledge Andrew’s birthdays, though Andrew always had the curious tendency to invite Levi to his celebrations. Andrew was first, last, and always a student, and Levi never let himself forget that fact. And now after shepherding Andrew through four long, short years, he was finally graduating. He was going to move on to the rest of his life -- he was going to take the world by storm.
He was going to take whatever he wanted. Levi couldn’t stop him.
He didn’t even know how. The kiss had been surprising, and surprisingly unexpected. The whole, strange meeting had been surprisingly unexpected. Levi didn’t think in terms of destiny, but did he ever really doubt that Andrew would show up at his door one night? Did he ever really think Andrew would quietly allow things to end between them before things could get started?
The meeting was inevitable. More inevitable than anything else in Levi’s life. Thousands of men and women were graduating, and Levi shouldn’t have been able to pick out a single face in the crowd. His eyes shouldn’t have gone directly to Andrew’s face. But there wasn’t anybody else in the stadium. There was just Andrew, and Andrew was watching him, and the whole world could have ended, Andrew wouldn’t have looked away from him.
Andrew was a very focused young man. Levi eventually did lose sight of his former student. When the ceremony finally ended, and the crowd devolved into chaos, he lost sight of Andrew. A part of him hoped that would be a permanent situation. Andrew had his family there, and his friends. Even if he wanted to leave them to seek out Levi, would they really let him? He was tight with nerves. Could he really give Andrew what he wanted? After four years of denying that he wanted to give anything to Andrew? After four years of pretending he wasn’t aware of the way Andrew always watched him?
Levi knew he should send Andrew home.
And when he pulled into his driveway to discover Andrew was already waiting for him, his mortarboard and robe discarded in favor of a pair of dark blue jeans and a black Tshirt, he knew he should send the younger man home.
He rose from where he sat on the porch, long limbs unfolding as he stretched to his full height. He had a smile ready. He always had a smile ready. Levi had witnessed it disarm even the most stalwart of debate opponents, mostly because Andrew had some innate sense about knowing when best to wield it.
The fact that he knew that at all was further proof Andrew needed to leave.