When Jase switched off the engine and opened his door to get out of the car, he said, “The clothes fit okay on you. You look good. Those other jeans your wear are too tight in the ass. People stare.”

Luis shrugged. “Thanks for leaving them out for me. I appreciate it.”

Jase laughed. “Now you can keep your shirt on all day. I'll see you back here, same time as yesterday.” Then he climbed out of the car and left Luis sitting there all by himself.

Luis's job was to trim the weeds outside in the athletic fields with a gas powered weed trimmer. He spent most of the morning trimming around the football field. He thought about what had happened with Jase the night before and wondered how Jase was feeling about it today. At least Jase hadn't totally ignored him at breakfast. He didn't seem to be nervous or traumatized. If anything, Jase seemed more relaxed and easier to be around since Luis's blow job. He was perfectly normal that morning and he drove a little slower than he usually did.

At lunchtime, Luis picked up a bag of pretzels from a vending machine in the school cafeteria. He didn't want to eat a full lunch; he'd been eating so much at breakfast and dinner thanks to Isabelle he didn't want to get fat. On his way outside, he saw Jase sitting at a round table in an outdoor eating area off the cafeteria. Jase was sitting with Betsy Melchiorri and a few other friends Luis didn't know. When he passed by, Jase didn't even look up at him. Luis knew Jase saw him. He noticed the way Jase turned his head and looked down too fast. It made Luis want to walk over and slap Jase in the face, and then push Betsy Melchiorri down on the grass. He knew it was wrong to feel this way. He knew what had happened with Jase the night before wasn't going to lead to anything more than a quick, kinky blow job while they were both stoned. But when Jase turned his head and ignored Luis on purpose, it caused a sting in Luis's chest that lingered for a long time.

That's why Luis stopped short when he ran into Ashton Krause at the other end of the outdoor seating area. Ashton was sitting alone at a huge table while all the other students were huddled in groups, laughing and joking around with each other. Ashton's head was buried in a thick text book and he was eating a grape jelly sandwich on white bread while he read. There was so much grape jelly in the sandwich the purple bled through the top of the white bred. Luis wondered if Ashton had been openly gay in high school. But this wasn't why Luis was interested in talking to Ashton.

Luis remembered overhearing Ashton had invented medical equipment to help people with cancer. Ashton was smart and he had one of those scientific minds. He would one day write text books, he would live in the Silicon Valley with all the tech geniuses; he would become a very wealthy, famous man. And Luis was hoping Ashton might help him get back to his real life so he wouldn't have to suffer Jase's rejection any longer than he had to. The novelty of meeting Jase as a young man was beginning to wear off and the reality Jase wouldn't admit he was gay until many years later was starting to frighten Luis. When he thought about being trapped in 1986 forever, his heart raced. He missed his life; he missed the family he'd built, he missed his little dog, Camp, and he missed being married to the older version of Jase. He didn't belong here; it was wrong.

Luis approached Ashton with trepidation. He didn't want to startle him in the middle of reading something important. He wasn't sure what he was going to say. “Excuse me. I was wondering if I could talk to you about something. My name is Luis Fortune. I'm working here at the school for a while to make some extra money.”

Ashton closed the book and stood up. He wore a black sweater vest, a gray plaid short sleeve button down shirt, and sagging jeans. No one wore sweater vests in 1986, at least not to high school. His shoes were penny loafers, his socks pure white. In spite of the geeky, dated look, he wasn't a bad looking guy. He had a nice slim body and thick curly hair. Luis didn't have any problems visualizing him as the handsome gay man in his forties he would one day be.

“I'm on my way to class,” Ashton said. He looked back and forth fast, as if someone were following him. And he avoided eye contact at all cost.

Luis wasn't shy when it came to some things; he wasn't afraid to flirt to get what he wanted. He reached for Ashton's arm and stroked it gently. “I really need to talk to you about something. I've heard you're very smart. I know your name is Ashton. Maybe we can meet up later today.” Since Ashton wasn't going to introduce himself to Luis, he decided to do it for him.

Ashton pulled his arm back fast. “I'm really busy all day.” He almost seemed afraid to talk to Luis.

This didn't stop Luis. He grabbed Ashton's arm again and said, “Please, can't you make some time. It's very important.”

Ashton sighed and his shoulders slumped. “I'll be in the labs around four o'clock. I'm working on something I'm hoping might change the world. You can come by then.”

Luis grabbed him and hugged him. Ashton dropped the books. “Thank you so much. I'll be there on time.” He was amazed at the way they all wanted to change the world. Luis had always thought getting through each day unscathed was a success.

“I have to go now,” Ashton said. He bent down, picked up his books, and practically ran into the school without looking back.

Luis stood there smiling. He felt as if he finally had some hope. But as he turned, he saw Jase watching at him from the other side of the outdoor eating area. Betsy Melchiorri was talking to Jase but he wasn't paying attention to her. He sat there glaring at Luis, with his fists clenched and his jaw set forward, as if Luis had committed a crime.

Without even nodding, Luis turned and headed back to the outbuilding where they kept all the landscaping tools. He had a feeling Jase's eyes were on his back the entire time. It wasn't until he rounded a corner and was out of Jase's sight when he took a long, deep breath. When Luis was in high school, he'd always avoided this kind of adolescent drama. He definitely wasn't going to deal with it at this stage in his life, not even if they all thought he was only eighteen years old.

* * * *

By noon hour, Luis was sweating so much he felt like jumping into ugly the school fountain with the big moose statue that had water flowing from its mouth. The long, heavy gray sweatshirt stifled him to the point of exhaustion. The unusual June heat wave passing through Alaska wasn't as bad as anything he'd suffered through living in Tennessee. But he was working outside, trimming weeds with a heavy gas powered weed trimmer. And the sweat shirt Jase had given him was causing him to perspire even more.

So Luis removed the sweat shirt and set it down on the bleachers. He went back to work trimming the weeds and forgot all about being shirtless. It wasn't until the cheerleaders started practicing he even gave it a second thought. He noticed them looking in his direction, murmuring and giggling to each other. It was three o'clock by then and school had been dismissed. Luis hadn't been paying attention; the weed trimmer was loud and he'd drifted off into a daze. He wouldn't have noticed anything around him if the weed trimmer hadn't run out of gas and conked out in the middle of a thick clump of sticker brush.

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