|Mary Sue Fiction|
Bryant, Trenton, and several of the other swim team members were crouched on the pool's rim. They were all in the approved starting stance, arms swept back. Each boy's eyes were fixed ahead, and their toned bodies almost quivered with anticipation.
There was a sharp whistle blast, and the boys exploded into motion. Strong legs thrust hard, lean bodies sliced cleanly into the shimmering pool water. It was done so neatly that almost no water splashed back on the concrete. There was a flurry of controlled motion as they swam for the far side of the pool. They reached the far side in seconds, each slapping the side of the pool almost simultaneously.
There was another student standing at the end of each swimmer's lane, and they clicked a stopwatch at each arrival. The swimmers hauled themselves up as the timers started calling out the results to Priory Lowell, who was noting them down on a clipboard.
Trenton was teasing Bryant. He'd beaten the older boy by a full two seconds on this sprint. Bryant took the ribbing good-naturedly, threatening to pull Trenton's trunks down in retaliation. That gave someone ideas. Soon the boys were snapping each other's waistbands, laughing and jostling. They were in high spirits. There was a swim meet coming up this week, and their times were looking good.
"Enough!" barked Lowell. "You morons ought to be getting serious about your training instead of wasting your energy on dicking around!" He pointed at Bryant. "Five demerits."
The other boys murmured in disbelief, and one of them said, "Coach, McAllister didn't do anything. He didn't jerk anyone's trunks."
"He started it."
"You saying I didn't hear what I heard? He put the idea in you morons' heads--he's responsible. Ten demerits, and shut your trap if you don't want the whole class to get another ten." There was sullen silence. "I thought so. McAllister, you were sloppy on your dive. Take another hour working on it." A mutter started, and Priory raised his voice threateningly, "And anyone who doesn't think it's fair can join him." Silence again. Then Trenton walked back to the edge of the pool and got down into his starting crouch. Priory, voice ominous, said, "You sure you want to do that, Vittelli?"
Trenton glanced back. "C'mon, Bri. You can beat me in length, now, but I bet I can get better by the meet."
Priory didn't like it, but he couldn't very well condemn Trenton for volunteering to practice. "The rest of you, that's it. Get out of my sight."
Bryant went over to the pool and positioned himself beside Trenton. The pushed off for the first time as the other boys made their way to the locker room. A few sympathetic glances were tossed, but no one else stayed behind. There was discussion in the showers, though. It had become obvious that Priory was going beyond his usual unpleasant personality, and singling out Bryant for harsh treatment. A couple of the students quietly decided to have a word with their councilors about it the next day.
Priory remained behind to watch the boys. He wasn't going to risk them shaving even a second off their punishment. It never occurred to him that they'd be honorable enough to resist the urge to slack off, even on unfair punishment. Every now and then Priory would give them unnecessary instructions on how to improve their style. There would be a slight nod, but that was the only response he got. Instead of feeling gratified, he felt even more irritated. He hated being ignored.
His concentration on Bryant and Trenton had another effect, too. He started to get aroused. Now that the rest of the class was no longer there to distract him, the sight of those toned, near naked bodies kindled heat.
The hour ticked down, and the boys scrupulously practiced for every second. When the time had elapsed, they started for the lockers, and Priory called, "I didn't say you were done."
Bryant glared. "You said one hour--in front of witnesses--and you got one hour. We're on our own time now." Without waiting for a response, he jerked his head for Trenton to follow him, and they went into the dressing room. "Hurry, Trent. We can shower at home. He'll wait a couple of minutes for appearance's sake, but believe me--you want to be dressed before he comes in.
Trent was tying his shoe laces, and Bryant was buttoning his shirt when Lowell came in. The older man hesitated a moment at the door. Trenton reflected that Priory would be a fool to play poker--he wasn't good enough at hiding his emotions. Right now he was obviously pissed, and disappointed. He didn't say anything, though, walking past the boys to shut himself in his little office.
Bryant zipped his damp trunks into their rubber carrying bag, and stuffed them in his gym bag. "C'mon. I'd rather not be here while he jerks off in there."
Trenton gathered his things. As they walked outside, Trent said, "You really think he's going to?"
"I know he is. He always does after he's gotten pissed, and watched the team swim. Well, he would, or he'd make me do it for him. The guy is seriously dirty, and I mean sleazy, not in a fun way."
When they got to the apartment, Clive was sitting on the sofa, arms crossed, waiting. His voice level, he said, "Bryant, is there a good reason why both you and my sub are so late, without a phone call?"
He was giving Trenton a hard look, and the boy was looking guilty. "Stop it, Trent. I don't think you did anything wrong, and I don't think Clive will think so, either, once this is explained." He looked at the other Dom, and said simply, "Priory."
Clive's expression relaxed immediately, and he patted his thigh. Trent set his bag on the table and hurried over, climbing into his lover's lap. He put his arms around Clive's neck and said, "I wanted to call, I know I'm supposed to, but..."
"Hush. You're more or less in Bryant's care when you're with him, so let him explain."
Bryant took a seat and explained what had happened. Clive was stroking Trenton's hair, and his expression grew steadily grimmer. When Bryant had finished, Clive kissed his boy. "Very good, pet. You supported your friend, without being confrontational. Lowell is the only one who behaved badly, and the other students noticed it."
"Clive, he's trying to get the others to dislike Bryant. He wants to turn them against him," said Trenton indignantly.
"Well, you say that they noticed that the treatment was unfair, and protested. Unless their herd instinct kicks in, I don't think he'll succeed. But Bryant, I really think you need to consider taking official action. Priory doesn't seem to have the brains to leave well enough alone."
"I never accused him of being intelligent, or perceptive. I don't know," sighed Bryant. "So far it's just annoyances. I mean, it isn't like he can really hurt me anymore."
"There are all different levels of hurt, and you shouldn't have to put up with this," said Clive firmly. "The man is abusing his position. I'd say the same thing if he was doing this to any other student."
Bryant smiled. "Including Trenton?"
"Good God, no, darling. If it was Trenton, I would have kicked his sorry ass long ago."
"That would be a sight to tell grandkids about. Still, I think I'm going to try to tough it out a little longer--just attempt to fly under the radar, as it were." He sighed. "I just resent the thought of devoting even a second to that asshole unless I have to."
"I know, but you have to remember--ignoring a problem very seldom actually leads to it going away. You've confronted Priory on the most basic level, Bri, but he still hasn't gotten the message. And I hate to tell you this, dear, but I don't believe that Lowell is the kind who 'simmers down'." His eyes showed distaste. "I think he's the kind that festers."
They were getting ready to suit up when Priory came into the locker room the next day. "Listen up--there's been a change in the line up. Thomason, you're taking McAllister's place in the 50 freestyle, and the relay."
"What?" Bryant had been putting his bag in his locker, and now he turned back to Priory, stunned.
"You heard me. Don't bother to suit up. There's no point in you practicing if you aren't going to compete."
"What are you trying to prove?" said Bryant angrily. "I earned both those spots."
"Well, you lost them. Your time hasn't come as far as it should have since you broke your arm, and I'm not going to risk having you slow down and lose us points."
"But Coach," said Thomason, sounding confused, "even if he isn't one-hundred-percent, he's still faster than I am. His times yesterday..."
"Last I looked, I'm still the one getting the paycheck for riding herd on you yahoos, so I'll make the decisions here, and I say McAllister is out, and you're in. McAllister, if I'm satisfied with your improvement, I might let you participate in the last meet next month." His eyes glittered. "But you're really going to have to show me a co-operative spirit."
Bryant's eyes went icy. "My times are fine--better than they were before I," he gave the word an ironic twist, "broke my arm."
"You don't seem to get it. I'm the coach--I make the decisions. This team isn't run by a committee, and it's not a popularity contest. Now, shut up. You can spend the class writing me an essay on the importance of following your superior."
Bryant spoke through gritted teeth. "I can't very well do that, since I haven't had a superior to follow for a long, long time. Sure as shit not since I've been under your coaching."
Lowell's face flushed. "You can give me fifty push ups for that."
"Stick your pissant punishments up your fat, tight ass, Lowell." Bryant grabbed his things out of the locker. "I'm not staying around to take your bullshit."
As he headed for the door, Priory called out, "Don't you walk away from me, McAllister! You walk out now, and you're off the team!" Bryant didn't even look back--he just held up his middle finger and kept going.
Trenton started after Bryant, but Priory grabbed his arm as he passed. "Hold it, Vittelli."
Trenton glared at him. His voice was hard when he said, "Take---your---hand off me. Now."
Priory let go slowly. "I want you to think about it before you do something you'll regret. You've still got a promising future ahead of you in swimming. You have a chance to go all the way, maybe bring home a gold. Maybe you're willing to throw that away on some stupid gesture of solidarity, but remember--you won't be the only one affected."
Trenton thought about all the people who'd encouraged him in his swimming, who pointed to him with pride. Not just his mother and Clive, but the staff at Attitudes, and the staff and patrons at Lavender's Green. Mrs. Havasnark was already checking out the best packages for a stay in Tokyo, where the next Olympics were to be held. And then there was Bryant himself. As much as Trenton ached to hurry after his friend and offer support, he had a feeling that the older boy might want to be alone right now. Bryant had a temper, but he didn't like showing it, and as a Dom, he might feel obligated to scold Trenton for such an overt act of disobedience. Even though it WAS Priory, and he was patently unworthy of respect, he did currently hold the power to make Trenton's life hard, and Bryant wouldn't want that for him.
Trenton folded his arms and looked away, expression sullen. Priory, ever stupid, felt smug triumph that he'd managed to make the boy 'obey'.
Bryant didn't return to the apartment that afternoon, but he showed up for work at Lavender's Green. He got home at his usual time, and was a little surprised to find Trenton waiting for him in the living room. "Where's Clive?"
"He went to the gym. He said he needed to work off some aggression before he did something that might land him in jail."
"Ah." Bryant sat beside him. "So, you told him what happened this afternoon."
Trenton nodded. "He's proud of you. Said that it was a real sign of maturity that you didn't just tear Priory a new asshole. I think what really got him mad was that when I was going to follow you, Priory grabbed my arm."
"Ow!" Bryant winced.
"Not that bad. I didn't bruise, or anything."
"Maybe not, but I think that Priory ought to say a prayer of thanks to whatever that he isn't in the emergency room right now."
Trenton smiled. "Yeah." He sobered. "What are you going to do now?"
"I'm going to talk to my councilor. Priory has really gone beyond the limits this time. I think if I can show that he's being unreasonable, they'll over ride him, and reinstate me on the team."
"Good. You'll have plenty of witnesses."
"I dunno. The guys on the team mean well, but it's pretty important to most of them. They might be kind of reluctant to rock the boat, especially after they've seen what happened to me when I did."
Trenton rested his chin on his friend's shoulder. "I'll be your witness."
Bryant rubbed his head affectionately. "I know I can count on you, Trent. There was never a doubt in my mind. I'm hoping it won't come to that. If Lowell is basing cutting me on my times, we should have physical proof that it's invalid. The times for each class are always recorded." He stretched. "I'll talk to the councilor when classes are over tomorrow. I won't be in gym class or swim practice."
"Neither will I."
"Trenton, I don't want you hurting your standing..."
Trenton coughed pointedly. "I'm coming down with a cold. Clive won't want me to risk making it worse. I'll get a note. If I have to, I'll have Mrs. Havasnark write it for me. She's a licensed therapeutic acupuncturist."
Bryant grinned at him. "I wish you hadn't told me that. Now I'm going to have to start thinking up 'prick' double entendres."