Devante Miller, a grad student studying library science, is just about ready to try and make things work with fellow student Preeda as they both rocket toward graduation. Certainly their friend Mike wants them together, from how much he keeps pushing Devante about it. But then Devante meets Michael Lopez, an out-and-proud, up-and-coming figure skater, and all of Devante’s plans -- and Devante himself -- go head over heels.
Michael is like no one Devante’s ever met before, and Devante finds himself falling into Michael’s orbit. But loving Michael comes with its own complications. Devante has to figure out how to come out to his father, for one, on top of launching his own career and supporting Michael’s skating. And why is one of their friends so threatened by their budding relationship?
He made it to the bathroom in a daze, shoving past people on his way until the heavy door swung shut behind him and he could lean on the sink and catch his breath.
There was someone else in the bathroom with him, washing his hands, with the fuzzy-eyed look of someone who’d already had a few. “Everything alright, man?” he slurred, blinking in a friendly manner at Devante.
“I want the song to be about me,” Devante said blankly, his brain still trying to power back online.
“Cheers, dude,” the drunk man said. He patted Devante on the arm with one still-wet hand, realized what he’d done, and wiped both hands on his jeans. “I’m sure it is, my man,” he added with a slanted smile, before making his way out of the bathroom.
Devante watched him go, then turned to face himself in the mirror. “I want it to be about me,” he said, quieter, staring himself in the eye.
I want it to be about me. He wanted to be the one Michael wanted; he wanted to be the one who made Michael’s life so happy. He wanted to affect Michael the way Michael affected him, wanted to fry Michael’s synapses, make him short of breath, make butterflies appear in his stomach and his heart race whenever he saw Devante.
He wanted to be with Michael.
“I want to be with Michael,” he whispered to himself in the mirror. “I want Michael to be with me.”
There were tears in his eyes, he realized as they spilled down his cheeks. As he wiped them away, a sob shook him, and then another. The door to the bathroom creaked open, and in a flash Devante fled into the nearest stall and locked himself in, slumping against the wall with his face in his hands.
He wept; there was no other word for it. Sobs ripped through him, tears staining his hands with salt as he tried to keep quiet. Two people entered the bathroom; Devante could hear them chatting at the urinals. He clapped a hand over his mouth, trying to calm his breathing and get his tears under control, but pulsing under his skin, with every beat of his heart pushing blood through his arteries, was the realization: He wanted Michael, for real. He wanted him more than he’d ever wanted anything in his life -- more than he wanted grad school, more than he wanted a job, almost more than he wanted to stop crying just then.
He wanted to kiss Michael, to date him, to sleep next to him and talk to him and laugh with him, and he wanted Michael to want that too. He wanted to know what Michael looked like without his clothes on; he wanted to touch Michael’s hair and know if it was as soft as it looked; he wanted to know what Michael’s face did during sex.
He wanted to have sex with Michael, lots of sex, and he wanted to take his own clothes off in front of him, to his own considerable surprise. Even when he’d lost his virginity at Easter, he hadn’t taken more clothes off than had been absolutely necessary, but he wanted to strip bare in front of Michael and see what the sight of him did to the other man, if it did anything at all.
The rush of wanting ran Devante through, leaving him sagged against the wall of the stall, breath heaving and face wet. He pulled a wad of toilet paper off the roll and wiped his face as best he could. The two men at the urinals had long since left the bathroom again, and no one else had come in while Devante was having his breakdown, so he carefully undid the lock of the stall and edged back out to the sink and mirror.
Devante was lucky; his face never showed his crying much, even extended weeping like he’d just done. His eyes were a little puffy, but it was difficult to tell in the bad lighting of the bathroom. He splashed cold water on his face and the back of his neck and wiped it off with a handful of paper towels, and there was almost no physical sign left of the massive change he’d just undergone.