Part 1 of a Multi-Part Story

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My best friend Gavin Hernandez and I had gone out celebrating after he received his college acceptance letter. We were eighteen, but we still had two months of high school left.

"Peter, did that really just happen?" Gavin asked, stroking my hair. We were both naked, tangled in sheets and each other's arms. My bony, almost hairless arms and his muscular, hairy ones, but still tangled. Complications from his premature birth had left Gavin's legs paralyzed, so he always focused on keeping his upper body strong. I was a skinny, round-faced Latino, finally acting on my crush.

"Yeah," I said. "You didn't dream it."

Gavin blushed and squirmed a little. "I had before, more than once. Deep down, I think I've been attracted to you from that first day, even though we were barely teenagers." Our fathers had served together in Afghanistan before retiring from the Army. Gavin and I first met when his family invited mine to a cookout. We quickly became best friends.

I looked into his eyes and kissed him. "Me too. Did it stand up to your dream?"

He laughed. "Totally surpassed it. I hope I still have this big smile on my face when I take my profile pics for my social media pages. It's so awkward, posing in my wheelchair, or letting someone crop it out. It's like not being able to walk somehow makes me unattractive or whatever, like everyone looks sexy when they're walking."

"I'm sure you would. You'd probably have some swagger going on."

He laughed. "You know it. Did I tell you that some guy told me I look like Wilmer Valderrama from NCIS?"

"No, but I'd take the compliment. Wilmer's hot! At least you don't get compared to Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory."

Gavin kissed my cheek, laughing. "You're so Sheldon."

"I don't think that actor's Hispanic."

"I don't know about that, but he's gay, he's skinny, and he's from Texas."

"Still. I'm nothing like the character. People just call me Sheldon to suggest I'm a geek, which isn't really accurate either."

"Peter, you know all about really old sci-fi shows most people have never heard of. And you're always talking about superheroes. Total geek."

I shuddered at his ability to get me so well, and I wasn't exaggerating about how much I admired him. Being born gay and disabled made him self-sufficient. Even living in a big city like Dallas in the twenty-first century held its challenges for anyone outside the mainstream. It reminded me not to whine about being the pink sheep of my family or in my neighborhood. He never even tried being in the closet, which had helped me be honest with my parents and myself.

My hand shot up. "Okay, I'm a geek, but we were talking about you. I wish you'd realize that you're not any less sexy when you're in your chair."

He playfully smacked my bare chest, blushing again. "Stop, okay? Stop."

"Seriously. Get in it. I'll take the pictures and edit your favorites into a montage."

"No way."

"Yes. Come on."

"Okay, but let me at least fix my hair and put my clothes on." He reached beside the bed and grabbed his blue jeans.

"Those will be enough," I said.


The school hallways seemed even more crowded than usual the next Monday morning, but with no sign of Gavin. I'd stayed up late Sunday night, not just with the usual homework, college applications, and Assassin's Creed gaming, but also creating my montage of him, from the pics he'd said he liked most. I'd sent a late-night text message, knowing he'd already be asleep, but just making sure he saw the montage on my Facebook page as soon as he got up.

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