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[Author’s note: this is a long one. I probably could’ve broken it up into a few different chapters, but because the sex stuff is so back loaded I wanted to keep it all together (ie I promise there is sex stuff eventually lol). Also want to quickly say thanks anonymous MLF commenter, your nice comments always make my day.]
Zach’s head was reeling. On the one hand he was still deeply shaken by Dave’s attempt to steal the watch, let alone so soon after his best friend Sean revealed he was a bigot. On the other hand Zach felt a deep sense of excitement growing inside him–the possibilities of even a limited version of time travel were endless.
Walking down the sidewalk he took the watch from his pocket and spun the clock back again, but now it would only go backwards a few minutes. Zach clicked the time in and he was back in front of Jazz House and Dave was opening the door, “Zach, are you ok? You look like you’ve been crying. Quick, come inside.”
Zach paused time. He guessed that at least one limitation on his time travel was that he couldn’t go back further than the last time he’d traveled back to. He wistfully considered that he should’ve gone back far earlier, to that morning, and maybe if he’d told Sean on his own terms he would’ve taken things better, but it was too late for that. Instead Zach looked at Dave for a good long while. Dave did look sincerely concerned. And he’d been so nice, and not just because he took Zach’s horse hung cock like a champ. But when he had the watch in his hand, it was like he was a wild animal.
Zach stared at the watch in his palm–he didn’t think he felt like a wild animal, but what if it wasn’t his? What if someone had just shown it to him? What would he do to try to make it his? Or did he just really not know Jake? What possessed him to tell a guy he’d known a week his most important secret? And as the questions whirled in his head Zach couldn’t help but appreciate Dave’s captured look of concern, and he realized intuitively that what Dave had done (or rather could be about to do) wasn’t who he was right now, that he may never be that person if he didn’t learn about the watch. And Zach looked down at his arms and saw there were no cuts or scratches or bruises, and he figured there’s a lesson there. Zach restarted time.
“Yeah, I’m sorry Dave, I just had a bit of a bad experience coming out to a guy I thought was my friend. I thought I wanted to hang out, but I think now what I really need is to just walk alone for a bit, sorry to call you down here like this.”
“Oh, babe,” Dave said and reached for Zach’s hand, “I’m here if you need me ok,” and he kissed it.
“Thanks” Zach said, feeling a tear come to his eye, before withdrawing his hand and walking away.
Zach walked around campus trying to empty his mind and just experience the sounds and smells and sights of the world around him. He’d become very aware of just how much is going on at any given time since he got his new powers, and he found trying to lose himself in the bustle of things a nice counterpoint to being able to freeze everything and examine it in minute detail. He made his way to the pond and sat by its side watching a small family of ducks floating nearby when he felt his phone vibrate. A text from Sara
“Zach auditions start in 10 where are you???”
*Shit* Zach thought and he froze time. Zach refused to let the stresses of the last few hours get in the way of the audition he’d been practicing for for days.
He spent several hours resting and dressing and practicing again before he made his way to the school theater. He restarted time and walked into the room and sat next to Sara.
“Oh, I just texted you,” she said as she noticed him, “I thought you were going to be late.”
One by one students were called back to perform their auditions for the two drama teachers and the student theater president. They seemed to be going by alphabetical order as first up was Abbie, then Allie, then Anthony. When they got to Sara she came out of the audition room beaming and flashed Zach a thumbs up before heading out. As more and more people were called the more nervous Zach became. Eventually he was the last person in the room and as Victoria left the audition looking like she was about to be sick he heard the head of the theater department, Professor Davidson, finally call his name.
The 2 teachers and student all looked very tired as they gave Zach faint smiles of acknowledgement. “Thanks for your patience Zach,” Professor Davidson said, “we had a big turnout this year.”
“What role are you auditioning for?” The student theater president, a tall and built, olive skinned boy with short cut dark hair asked Zach, preparing to write it down. Zach couldn’t remember his name, but he knew he was the first junior to get the presidency in years.
“The stage manager,” Zach said, his voice already trembling with nervousness.
“Just so you know Zach,” Professor Peters said, “that role is all but guaranteed to go escort izmir to an upperclassman. You’re still free to try out for it and we’ll consider you for other roles, but if you’d like to read for one of the townspeople we may get a better idea of how you’d actually be able to perform.”
Zach swallowed hard, “Thank you but I’d like to try out for the stage manager,” Zach said firmly.
“Ok,” Professor Peters said resignedly, while the student looked at Zach with a bit of a sideways grin, “well then, whenever you’re ready. Stage right is by that bookcase if you want to start there.
Zach walked to the bookcase and slipped his hand into his pocket, freezing time. He considered backing up to before he’d entered the room, worried that his nervous tic had already ruined his chance at the role. But no, Zach wouldn’t want to go through this event any more times than one. He knew what he was doing. He found in himself the voice and posture he’d spent hours discovering in front of a mirror, the persona that expressed the way he felt as he stood timeless in the world. Zach restarted time and pushed his hair back and adjusted his stance while he took off his glasses. He turned around to face the panel and started walking purposefully and assuredly across the room.
“This play is called ‘Our Town.’ The day is May 7, 1901. The time,” Zach took his watch from his pocket and opened it with a ping, “is just before dawn.”
The rest of the audition was a blur. Zach had practiced so many times that once he started going it was like he was alone again practicing in front of the mirror. When he finished the opening monologue he thought he’d done great, he felt like he could actually see the town and people and places he was describing, and the teachers must have too because to his surprise they asked him to read another monologue, which to their shock and delight Zach didn’t need to read as he’d already memorized the whole play. Then he performed the climax of the play with Professor Davidson reading for Emily, and as the Stage Manager gave his final “no” to the ghost of a girl Zach heard Professor Davidson sniffle, and then Zach was alone again and he was ending the play,
“There are the stars doing their old, old crisscross journeys in the sky. Scholars haven’t settled the matter yet, but they seem to think there are no living beings up there. Just chalk…or fire. Only this one is straining away, straining away all the time to make something of itself. The strain’s so bad that every sixteen hours everybody lies down and gets a rest.
Hm…” the watch clicked out again, “Eleven o’clock in Grover’s Corners…You get a good rest, too. Good night.”
Zach slowly tucked the watch back in his pocket before letting himself come out of the reverie of his performance to see the panel all staring at him, mouths slightly gaping. Then Professor Davidson started clapping and the rest of them immediately joined in. Zach blushed fiercely as he gave a little bow.
“Well that was…that was really something Zach,” Professor Peters said not trying to hide the surprise in his voice, “Very, very well done.” There were murmurs of assent from the other teacher and the student president, who was staring at Zach with naked awe.
“We’ll have the cast list posted Monday afternoon,” Professor Davidson said, “until then enjoy your weekend.”
Zach left the room feeling ready to skip. Finally something had gone right that day. He walked outside delighted to find Sara and Jake waiting for him.
“How’d it go?!” Sara cried out.
“Well he’s smiling so wide he looks like he could be stoned so I’m guessing it went pretty good,” Jake said reaching out a hand to grasp Zach’s in greeting.
“Yeah, I think it went ok,” Zach said, “how bout you Sara?”
“I think it went really well,” Sara said smiling, “Professor Davidson even said she thought I’d be a perfect Mrs. Webb.”
“That’s so awesome,” Zach said.
“Right?” Sara said sounding like a schoolgirl, then her demeanor suddenly changed, “Zach, Jake just told me about Sean. I can’t believe he would do that, I’m so sorry.”
Zach’s smile dampened a little as he remembered–so much for some vodka sprite celebrations. “Yeah, well it is what it is,” he said.
“Fuck that,” Jake said, “that topic’s off limits for now, we’ve got to celebrate. I had a Junior from the wrestling team get me a handle of Smirnoff, time for some shots.”
They started walking back towards their dorm when Zach heard someone call his name. He turned around and saw the student theater president running to catch up with them.
“Oh hey Dion,” Sara said as he caught up to them.
“Hey,” Dion said to Sara obviously forgetting her name. “Zach I was hoping I could steal you for a minute before you got started on your Friday.”
“Sure,” Zach said as he turned to Sara and Jake, “I’ll meet you guys back in the dorm?”
“Sounds good Zach, see you soon,” Jake said as he led Sara away, who was obviously annoyed at being escort izmir excluded from the theater talk.
Zach and Dion walked aimlessly along the sidewalk as the sun was getting low. Zach waited for Dion to initiate the conversation, subtly admiring Dion’s strong jaw and thick dark hair, and even stealing a glance at the tight ass his salmon colored shorts showed off. Eventually Dion said, “you know I thought you were fucking nuts when you went for the stage manager part.”
“I was a little worried I was nuts when Peters told me it would almost definitely go to an upperclassman,” Zach responded.
Dion laughed. “It wasn’t just going to an upperclassman. It was going to *me*,” Dion sat down on a bench and motioned for Zach to join him. Zach sat down feeling incredibly awkward and not sure what to say, but Dion just kept looking at him, seemingly comfortable in the silence. Finally Zach said “was?”
“Yep,” Dion said, “congratulations, you’re the only role we decided tonight. Davidson and Peters were still going to give it to me if I wanted it, but I insisted it had to be you. Cause it did have to be you, you were fucking electric.”
Zach was shocked, “I don’t know what to say. I mean, I’m sure you would be great too, but thank you?”
“You’re welcome! you deserved it,” Dion said with a smile extending a hand for Zach to shake. “And I would’ve been great, but you’re better. Like you were born for it. But I would suggest not telling anybody till Monday or you’ll have half the theater department bugging you to find out if you know if they got in.”
Zach laughed, “that sounds about right.”
“Do you have any plans for first night of rush tonight?” Dion said, standing up from the bench.
Zach shook his head, “I thought I was going to the lambda event but that fell through.”
“Perfect, cause you’ll fit in better at sig chi anyway,” Dion said. “I’m the rush chair and I’d love for you to come by. The event starts at 9, you interested?”
Zach stood up too and smiled as he said, “Sure, I’ll be there.”
“Sweet, I’ll see you soon. Make sure you eat something and drink plenty of water before you get there, we’re gonna have a fun night,” Dion said as he slapped Zach on the arm and made his way off campus. Zach turned and ran to catch up with Jake and Sara as they were about to walk into the freshman dorm. Zach waited till they were in Sara’s room to fill them in.
“Ah that’s amazing I’m so jealous!” Sara screamed while Jake ran off to his room to grab the shots, “Did you ask if I got a part too?”
Zach laughed as he shook his head, “Sorry but he wouldn’t tell me.”
There was a knock at Sara’s door and they opened it to find Jake failing to hide a vodka handle in a hoodie, as well as Tim and Adriana. Sara got out some plastic cups while Tim ordered a pizza, and then they were passing around shots of Smirnoff. Jake gave a toast to the stage manager, and they all took a shot, immediately coughing on the cheap shit.
“Nothing another shot won’t fix,” Jake said as he refilled everyone’s glasses.
“Uh, no way, we’re cutting this,” Adriana said as she grabbed some cranberry juice from her and Sara’s personal fridge. Everybody was eager to take some except Jake, who took another shot on his own and nearly retched it back up. His third shot he politely asked for some cranberry juice.
Zach drank his second drink pretty quickly, and then nursed a third while they ate pizza. Even just three shots really went to his head–besides the shot he’d shared with Mike earlier that week Zach had never drank before, and he’d certainly never got drunk, but he was liking the way it made him feel. Loose and happy and carefree. Even if the taste did make him want to puke.
As it neared time to head out the girls got louder and the boys got quieter, everybody trying to cover up their nerves–rush was a big deal at the school, it was the biggest event of the fall semester and could determine where you spent the better part of the next 4 years.
Around 8:30 they decided to head out, Adriana off to a chi O event, Sara to a tri del, Tim to ATO and Jake to lambda. Jake had had about 6 shots in the hour they’d been hanging out, and even 5 slices of pizza couldn’t soak it all up. He was swaying as he took Zach aside, “I’m–I could go with you instead,” Jake said, trying hard to enunciate and not slur his words, “Sean is asshole.”
“Nah, go to lambda, there are wrestling people there right? Besides sig chi is just theater kids and potheads you wouldn’t like it.”
Jake poked at Zach’s chest, “I’d be a very good pothead, thank you very much. But yeah. I’m gonna convince Sean not to be asshole, ok?”
“Don’t worry about him, just have fun. But not too much fun or you’ll pass out by 10.” They hugged each other and went their separate ways.
The sigma chi house was about a 5 minute walk from campus, a classic frat house with big white concrete columns along the face and a big, boxy house behind it, sitting on maybe a couple acres of land. There were some guys behind the fence in the backyard obviously already drinking and around a fire pit, but Zach joined the small crowd of a few dozen freshmen boys who were waiting for the front door to open. Zach checked his watch–about 5 minutes to 9.
A couple of the freshmen were chatting but mostly they were all waiting quietly and nervous. Zach recognized a boy from his lit class and quickly paused time to check his wallet for a name–Rich, a pretty stereotypical skater boy with a mop of hair and long bangs, but dressed up more than usual in a light pink polo and dress shorts. Zach replaced the wallet and started time back up, making his way through the crowd towards Rich.
“Hey, Rich right? I’m Zach I think we’re in lit together,” Zach said.
“Yeah dude, I remember,” Rich said raising a hand to grasp Zach’s, “you talk a good bit.”
Zach blushed a bit and said, “yeah sorry bout that, I can get bored.”
“Nah dude, it’s all good, she’s not calling on me if you’re talkin haha,” Rich said.
“So why’d you decide to come to sig chi?” Zach asked.
“This dude from the frisbee team told me I should come,” Rich said, “said they’d have some good bud for us. How bout you man?”
“Just had auditions for the play and a brother invited me after,” Zach said and immediately a guy chimed up behind him, “oh, cool, I was just at auditions too. How do you think you did? What part did you try out for?” Zach turned around and met a kid a couple inches shorter than himself with a tight cut auburn tshirt, short brown hair, a tiny earring in his right ear, and flamboyantly gay voice. Zach thought he was cute.
“I think I did alright,” Zach said turning to him, “I tried out for the stage manager.” The kid guffawed and Zach immediately found him less cute, “The stage manager? But there’s no way you’ll get that.”
Zach quietly said, “we’ll see,” and Rich, entirely oblivious to the substance of the conversation, just muttered, “tight, tight,” nodding his head. Thankfully the door opened and cut their conversation off.
A small group of brothers waved them inside and sent them to a table with name tags for them to fill out, then they were shuffled out the back door where the whole frat was having a barbecue and fire pit and beer. Zach was struggling filling a solo cup from a keg and getting nothing but foam when he felt a hand slap him on the back, “Good to see you zach, thanks for coming.” Zach turned to see Dion, changed into a shirt with the sig chi letters and a big smile on his face. “Here, let me give you a hand,” Dion said as he took the solo cup from Zach, tossing the foam out onto the grass, “you gotta do it at an angle,” Dion said standing close to Zach so he could show him as he filled the cup. Zach enjoyed the way Dion stood over him, probably a good 4 or 5 inches taller, and his cologne smelled so good, but Zach tried to play it cool as he took the beer with a thanks. Dion poured himself one then said, “Come on, I’ll introduce you to some of the guys.”
Then he was on a whirlwind tour. Dion seemed to be well liked by all his brothers and they were actually interested in meeting Zach when Dion introduced him. Zach wouldn’t have stood a chance at remembering all their names but did have the helpful mnemonic of godlike control over time so he could take a pause, and say their names twenty times while staring at their faces.
Eventually Dion and Zach made their way up a metal spiral staircase to the back porch of the house which looked out over the yard from the second story. The president of the frat looked like he was holding court up there sitting in some plastic lawn chairs with a few other upperclassmen beside him drinking whiskey from glass tumblers and smoking cigars.
“Sup Brian,” Dion said, “this is the freshman I was telling you about. Zach, this is Brian, president of sigma chi.” Brian was about average height and compared to Dion looked averagely attractive with dark hair brown eyes and a 5 o’clock shadow and a husky but still fit body, but when he stood up to shake Zach’s hand he flashed him an incredibly charismatic smile, “So you’re the boy wonder, huh? I haven’t heard D get so excited about a freshman since he first saw his girlfriend’s tits,” Brian and the other upperclassmen laughed and Zach laughed along, even if internally he was disappointed to hear that Dion had a girlfriend–he’d been secretly hoping the theater president was swinging for his team. “Congrats on getting the part, even if you did steal it from a brother,” Brian said.
“He didn’t steal shit, he earned it,” Dion said as he poured himself some whiskey, “and who knows, he may be a brother too.”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Brian said giving Zach a wink–Zach knew he liked Brian already.
“So do you do theater too?” Zach asked, feeling like he should say something. Brian laughed, “nah, I’m more from the pothead faction, also known as the frisbee team. Not that there’s not plenty of crossover, I just have a shit memory for lines.”
“Hence the pot,” another brother chimed in and they laughed.
“You do any sports?” Brian asked.
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