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For The Fans: Chapter 5

Avi

CaptainJackSwallow: Ride my gag reflex like a pony

One Year Later…

(Freshman Year, Boston College)

“Oh, shit. Hide me.”

I crouch down on the bench I’m sitting on, using Frankie’s body as a shield.

“You’re an idiot, Vega,” she huffs, while Zeb and Micah laugh.

“Correction… He’s playing it smart,” Zeb sighs. “Olivia is as clingy as they come. Just ask this asshole.” He juts his thumb in Micah’s direction. “She followed him here from New Hampshire.”

“Okay, that’s not true.” Micah shakes his head. “We just both happened to come to BC. It’s a big school…”

“Don’t act like you didn’t come here just to escape her.” Zeb laughs.

“I can’t believe you hooked up with her.” Micah scolds me with his eyes as I finally straighten back up, now that Olivia Wheeler is out of sight.

“I was drunk,” I grumble, reaching for my last Twizzler and ripping off a bite between my teeth. “It was the freshman orientation party. All we did was make out, and she’s been following me around ever since.”

“That’s what you get for hooking up at the freshman orientation party,” Frankie says pointedly. “It’s like a rule. Never hook up with someone your first week of college.”

“Well, clearly, I fucked up,” I mutter while petulantly chewing my candy, and they continue to laugh at my expense. Some friends… “Don’t be jealous that I’m out here slingin’ dick,” I tease, and they fake clap.

“Sling that dick my way, Vega.” Zeb winks at me. “I’ll teach you a thing or two.”

I roll my eyes while Micah doubles over.

“Okay, if you two are done flirting,” Frankie sighs, standing up. “We’re gonna be late for band practice.” She grabs Zeb by the arm.

“I’ll walk with you.” I pick up the trash from our lunch. “I’m going that way.”

The three of us look to Micah. “I’d love to join, but I heard Kreston is posting midterm grades today. I need to find out if my parents are going to allow me to come home for the summer, or if I’ll be living in my car until the fall semester starts.”

We all laugh sympathetically, and I pat him on the back. “Good luck!”

Micah walks off in the direction of the science building, while the rest of us head toward Lyons Hall.

Freshman year at Boston College was awesome. The best part was that Frankie got in too, so I came here knowing I’d have at least one friend to keep me from drowning in insecurity. Especially since this place is so far outside of any college I ever thought I’d attend. I mean, it’s a Jesuit school, for Christ’s sake.

I don’t want to sound accusatory, but do they even allow Jews to go here?

Well, apparently, they do, because here I am. I guess it helps that my last name is Vega, not Roth—my mother’s maiden name.

To be fair, I really don’t think it matters much. Especially for me, since religion is literally the last thing I give a flying fuck about. All I knew going into this was that the art program was pretty sweet, and there were opportunities to major in things I could potentially make a career out of, although I don’t know that I necessarily care much about those things either.

Here’s how it went down. I applied to BC as a joke, because my stepbrother, the most annoying, preppy jock on the face of the earth, wouldn’t stop raving about it, and I kind of wanted to see if I could get in, just to throw it in his annoying, preppy jock face. When I did, I really had no intention of actually going here. But then Frankie told me she was going here, and I was like… Okay. Let’s see what this Jesus-loving college on a hill is all about.

So far, it’s been fun. I’m still not great at school, so my grades are average at best. But I’ve been making friends, having a blast with my art classes, and you know… slingin’ dick.

That’s a joke, of course. But based on real events, because I’ve sort of come out of my shell in college—get it? Come.

Not that I’m some slut who hooks up with everyone, but I guess it’s safe to say I’m a bit of a late bloomer with dating and sex and whatnot. The stuff most people I know were doing in high school, I just started doing this year. I go to parties with my friends, and sometimes I make out with girls. Often, we’ll explore the bases after first, and on occasion, we’ll take it all the way home. It’s very casual, which is fine. Safe, consensual… the whole nine.

I’m just figuring myself out. And as I’ve heard my whole life, from adults, movies, TV shows, etc., college is the place to do that. So that’s what I’m doing.

I’m nineteen years old. The way I see it, I have the rest of my life to be serious and figure out what I want to do as a career. For right now, I want to have fun and learn about me.

You have no clue who you really are.

The voice stops me in my tracks, stiffening muscles all over my body.

I can’t fucking believe he’s still in my head. It’s been like two years since he said that to me… And I loathe the fact that the words are still ringing as loudly as they were when he said them.

Speaking of Kyran, I barely ever see him. Yes, we go to the same school, but we’re in completely different programs and we live on opposite sides of campus—Thank God.

I do see him on occasion, but we don’t speak, or even look at each other, for that matter. In fact, we’ve only interacted once since my eighteenth birthday—when we got in that ridiculous fight over me coming here. It makes me laugh now, because we’ve been at the same school for nearly two full semesters and we never have to deal with one another. So clearly, he overreacted a wee bit in assuming me coming to BC would mean we’d be on top of each other twenty-four-seven.

Such a drama queen.

I’ll admit, it kind of sucks. Knowing my first ever opportunity to have a sibling was wasted on someone like Kyran Harbor. I mean, imagine if he was cool? We could be hanging out, having shared experiences, instead of praying we don’t happen to wind up at any of the same parties.

It’s only happened once so far. It was the night before Thanksgiving and the rumor was that a rager was being thrown in one of the dorms off Comm Ave, which is where Kyran lives. I knew it was a likely possibility he’d be there, especially if the party was in his dorm, or one of the neighboring ones. In all honesty, I did consider skipping it just out of sheer self-preservation and not wanting to deal with him talking shit about me all night or starting some kind of fight.

But then Frankie and our friend, Bea, convinced me to suck it up and go. So I did. And as predicted, it didn’t go over well.

We noticed each other at the same time, but pretended the other didn’t exist for a couple of solid hours, during which time I smoked and drank enough that I actually did forget about his existence for a while. But when Bea started making out with his friend, Theo, it drew our two groups a little too close together for comfort.

In an effort to avoid an argument and get away from Kyran’s incessant scowling, I went to the other side of the party. I was talking to Micah, who I’d just met that night—we bonded immediately over a shared love of the same true crime podcast—when someone tapped on my shoulder.

And, wouldn’t you know… it was stepbrother dearest. There to fill my evening with rays of sunshine.

I guess I’d rolled my eyes before he even said anything, because his first words to me were, “What the hell is your problem?”

“You,” I sighed, not giving a single fuck, mainly because I was drunk and high, but also because I was really sick of his fucking attitude. “You’re my problem. In fact, you’ve been my only problem since I moved to this city.”

Kyran’s eyes narrowed, and he began to crowd me a little. “Well, maybe if you would just stay away from me, we wouldn’t be having so many issues.”

Closing my eyes, I sucked in a deep breath, channeling every ounce of chill and Zen and whatever other namaste shit I had left. When I reopened them, he was still standing there glaring at me, which proves once and for all that prayers don’t do shit.

“You came over to me, Kyran,” I grumbled. “I was perfectly content forgetting who you are, just like I’ve been doing for months now.”

Micah started tugging on my sleeve. “Um… Avi? How do you know the Eagles quarterback? And why are you arguing with him…?”

We both ignored Micah as Kyran’s jaw started doing that visible tick thing I’ve seen way more times than I’d like to. “I came over here to tell you to fuck off.”

An incredulous laugh bubbled from my throat. “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard! You came over here to start shit because you’re bored. What’s wrong, superstar?? Got no one to pick on now that we aren’t living together anymore?”

His lips parted like he was going to argue, but in my drunken surge of foolish confidence, I squared up to him and kept running my mouth.

“News flash, Ky… I don’t want to be near you any more than you want me near you. So if you could hop down from your egotistical high horse and take that giant studded stick out of your ass for long enough to enjoy a party, I’m sure you’d be doing everyone who knows you a huge favor.”

I knew right away that I’d fucked up when I saw how red his face was getting. I could actually feel the flames of searing hatred he was shooting at me through his eyes, like those laser beams Atreyu has to avoid in The Never Ending Story.

The Southern Oracle. Deep cut.

I’d never seen him so irate. I’m talking big, bulging vein in his forehead, muscles in his neck straining like a prize-winning stead… the works.

But it wasn’t until Micah whispered, “Holy fuck, you about to die,” and stepped away from me—out of possible beat-down range—that I noticed everyone else in the party was staring at us, too. Which was a very bad thing for me… Because it meant an artsy emo nerd had just stood up to the quarterback of the football team, something that doesn’t happen without retribution.

“Get the fuck outside now,” Kyran snarled. “I’m gonna beat the living shit out of you, Avi. Seriously, it’s been a long time coming. Get. The. Fuck. Outside.” His tone was so frighteningly calm, I couldn’t help how hard I was shaking in my Chucks.

But I stood my ground. I forced myself to stand still and hold his wrathful gaze.

“No,” I muttered, hoping like hell he hadn’t caught the tremor in my voice. “If you want to kick my ass, you’re gonna have to do it right here.” My eyes shifted left, then right before I whispered, “In front of all these witnesses.”

Kyran stepped in even closer to me, his warm breath hitting my face. I could practically taste it… Like mint and some kind of booze. It gave me chills, pumping my heart and rattling my bones.

“You must be… the stupidest stoner prick on the face of the earth,” he growled in my face. And I felt how tense he was, even though we weren’t touching. It was like the heat of rage in his muscles was transferring onto my body.

I thought I saw his arm move, and I couldn’t help flinching. I’ve never been a fighter. Sure, I’ve got balls and I like to talk shit, but that’s the beginning and end of it. I’m positive Kyran Harbor could easily waste me if he wanted to.

But I think the flinch saved me. Because his lips quirked in a very subtle smirk, as if he was pleased by how afraid of him I was. Then he fell back, just a couple of inches, and slapped his heavy hand down on my shoulder. Naturally, I flinched again, and his grin widened.

“Fine. You can have one more drink,” he rumbled. “But then you should leave, if you know what’s good for you.” He cocked his head. “After all, I’ll be seeing you at home tomorrow… bro.”

He turned and casually strutted away from me, rejoining his friends, the other spawns of Satan, in the fiery pits of Hell known as this party.

I let out the longest breath ever while all the onlookers resumed their partying, of course giggling and talking shit about me… The loser who just got his ass chewed out by the Eagles QB.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph…” Micah murmured, having returned to my side. “That was downright terrifying. Why does that dude hate you so much?”

Irate glare fixed in Kyran’s direction, I watched him laugh and fuck around with his jock pals like nothing had happened. And I muttered, “He’s my stepbrother.”

So there you have it. That was my last actual encounter with Kyran, save for us continuing to avoid each other at home. We haven’t spoken a word since, and for the most part, it hasn’t been an issue… But that’s only because I haven’t shown up at another party he’s been at, and he can’t outright attack me at home, being clearly afraid of his father and all. It’s a lucky thing too, because I’ve been attending my fair share of parties, just not on his side of campus.

Ugh. I hate thinking about it as his side. It’s so fucking stupid. I haven’t done shit to the kid, but apparently, my mere existence is enough to piss him off.

Outside of Lyons, the three of us stop before heading inside.

“Come on, hurry up,” Frankie snaps her fingers at Zeb.

He takes a long drag from his vape, blowing a giant cloud of cotton candy-scented smoke in her face. “Take a chill pill, mama. We have a few minutes.”

She gives him a look, but then concedes and pulls out her own vape. “Alright, fine.”

I just chuckle, tugging my phone out of my pocket and standing next to the two of them while they fill the area with puffs of vapor.

“Where are you off to?” Zeb asks me in between drags.

“I have photography class,” I tell them while scrolling Instagram. “Then I’m gonna go smoke until I forget that I just barely passed my biology midterm.”

Zeb laughs. “Tell me about it. Thank God freshman year is over. All of the most heinous core classes are pretty much done.”

“Speak for yourself,” Frankie huffs. “The social work curriculum is insane. I’m already regretting this major.”

Their voices are fading out with my eyes set on my phone screen.

A picture of Kyran just popped up on my feed. It was posted by this girl Lexi Erikson. She’s a cheerleader, and your typical blonde bombshell, so of course she’s Kyran’s type. The picture looks like it was taken at a party. Kyran has his arm slung around Lexi’s shoulder and she’s nestling herself into his chest, making a kissy face up at him.

And the caption reads:

Love spending time with the sexiest QB in Eagles history! Can’t wait for training camp this summer! #BCEagles #Eaglesfootball #BCcheer #GoEagles #number9

I scoff and roll my eyes. It makes perfect sense that Kyran would get here and immediately cozy up to another cheerleader, just like he did in high school. It’s totally his MO. Not to mention, the dude is an all-star football player already.

Superstar Stepbrother. Why am I not surprised?

“Hey, check this out!” Frankie’s voice tugs my attention away from the picture that’s rumbling my gut, and I glance up. She’s pointing at a flyer pinned on one of the Job Listings boards. “They’re looking for someone to be the football team’s mascot!”

She rips the sheet off, and Zeb peers over her shoulder to read. “Oh my God!” He cackles. “Baldwin the Eagle. That’s hilarious.” His face snaps in my direction. “You should totally do it!”

I stare at him for a solid three seconds in baffled silence before a burst of laughter flies from my lips. “Yea… Good one.”

“No, seriously!” Zeb slaps his hands together. “It would be so cute! Avi the Eagle.”

I shake my head. “You’re certifiable.”

“He has a point!” Frankie says animatedly. And now I’m growing even more horrified. “Then you could come to games with us!”

“Okay, I’m starting to think you’re not joking… and it’s worrying me.” I give them my most bewildered look.

“I’m not joking.” Zeb grins deviously.

“Neither am I,” Frankie adds, stepping over and shoving the paper in my face. “I’m sure it would be so much fun. And you’d practically be part of the team.”

“I don’t want to be part of the team,” I grumble, eyeing her like she’s lost her marbles.

She cocks her head. “Why… Because of Kyran?”

“No,” I scoff, then chew on my lower lip for a moment. “Not only because of him. I just don’t want to waste my Friday nights prancing around dressed like an eagle. I didn’t think I’d need to explain that to you, but apparently, you guys don’t know me as well as I thought you did.”

They both laugh. “Come on, Avi!” Zeb sighs. “You should consider doing something other than fucking off in class and smoking weed.”

“Hey, that’s not fair!” I frown. “I also like to get drunk.” He shakes his head. “And I draw. That’s what I do in my free time, and I like it that way.” Frankie and Zeb share a look, to which I roll my eyes. “And I just don’t think I should willfully invite another reason for Kyran to start shit with me. He hates me enough as it is…”

Frankie rubs my arm. “Don’t let your evil stepbrother stand in the way of your happiness, Av.”

Another laugh trickles. “You think wearing an eagle costume at football games is happiness??”

“I’m just saying…” She giggles. “It would be something new and fun for you to do.”

Looking over the flyer, I grin at the picture of Baldwin the Eagle. It’s fully ridiculous. But I can’t deny that its goofiness is sort of endearing.

“And… just think of how much more you could mess with Kyran…” Frankie sings in my ear.

“Yea!” Zeb cheers, still wearing his wicked smirk. “Superstar quarterback boy needs to be taken down a peg.”

My eyes flit up to his, and my lips curl.

He has a point.


It’s our last night in the dorms before summer break.

Freshman year at BC is officially in the books, and I’m excited to report that I survived. Dare I say, I even enjoyed myself.

We’re all hanging out in Frankie’s dorm room, smoking some kush, sipping some Rosé, and helping her pack up the last of her stuff. When I first got here, I thought I’d be anxious as hell to get home for summer break, to see Mom and get away from all the schooling and whatnot. But now that the time has come, I’m actually kind of bummed. I’m gonna miss living here, with all my awesome new friends. Being able to see them whenever I want, shooting the shit in between classes, having lunch together every day.

I never thought I’d say this, but I can’t wait for fall so I can get back here.

“Ohhh, snap!” Zeb shouts, jumping up onto the table. “Roomie alert!”

He’s holding his phone up and pointing to Micah.

Mic’s face lights up. “No way! Really? We got it??”

“Yea, baby!” Zeb is shimmying around while Micah stands up and starts doing the robot. “We’re in Welch. Third floor.”

“Ooh, that’s a good floor,” Bea chimes in while stuffing a bunch of books into a box. “I made out with two redheads on that floor. A girl and a guy.”

“At the same time?” I ask through a grin, and she winks at me.

Bea is a super chill girl. She’s Frankie’s roommate, and totally gorgeous. Fair skin, dark hair that’s long and curly and always smells incredible. We made out once when we first met. We were drunk, and it was fun, but we both agreed not to do it again because we didn’t want to make things weird. At this point, I’m trying to keep my dick away from people inside my friend group.

“Avi! Will you help me, please?” Frankie shouts from inside her bedroom.

Getting up, I’m laughing at Zeb and Micah, who are still dancing in celebration of the news that they get to room together next semester, while I walk around the corner into Frankie’s room.

“Aw, man! You already packed up the Mothman picture I drew for you,” I whine and pout at the empty space on her wall.

Frankie laughs. “Duh. It’s one of my most prized possessions. Here, grab this and wrap it in some bubble wrap for me, please.” She hands me a ring light.

“Why do you have so much filming equipment?” I ask, trying to be as careful as possible wrapping her expensive stuff.

Frankie gives me a look, full lips painted with bright purple lipstick sloping into a smirk. “I can’t tell you my secrets, Vega. You might think differently of me.”

I cackle out loud. “Right. Clearly you don’t know who you’re talking to…”

She stops what she’s doing and picks up her phone. Messing around on the screen, she taps and taps as she struts over to me. Then she hands it to me.

My brows knit together as I take it, eyes sliding over the screen. It’s an OnlyFans account. And the profile picture shows a girl that’s obviously her wearing a mask, with the username, FrankieSaysRelax.

“Oh my God, is this you?!” My mouth hangs open while I scroll through the account.

It’s not a subscriber’s account… She’s a creator.

My eyes bug out of my skull. “Holy smokes, you’re naked!”

She belts a laugh, snatching the phone from me. “Alright, Pervy McCreeperson. Calm down.”

I clear my throat. “Yea, I think I need to check out more of that stellar content.” I reach for her phone again, but she pulls it away, chuckling.

“You gotta pay to play,” she hums and wiggles her eyebrows. “Just for shorty bang bang to look your way.”

“Backstreet.” I grin. “Nice.

“Thanks.”

“Okay… what?!” I gasp, then lower my voice, quickly peeking at the doorway to make sure no one’s listening. “You have an OnlyFans??”

Frankie nods. “Hell yea. The money is on point.”

My eyebrow jumps. “Really?”

“Ohhh yeaaa,” she sighs. “I just started it this year, and I already almost have enough to get my own place off campus!”

“What?!” I shout again, and her eyes widen.

“Shhh! Be cool, baby. Damn.” She looks to the doorway. “No one knows. Except Bea.”

My mind is reeling. I can’t believe what she’s telling me. My friend, darling little Frances Dumonte, has been showing her naked body online for money?!

I’m actually not all that surprised. If anyone I know was going to do it, it’d be her. She’s sort of a wild child.

“Wow…” My eyes slide up and down her. I can’t help looking at her differently now, saucy little minx that she is. “That’s awesome. So… do you only do solo videos, or do you ever invite… guests?”

Her smile goes wide. “Are you asking to make a cameo, Vega?”

I can’t help how much heat is rushing to my face. My eyes fall to my feet. “Me?? No way. I don’t think I could pull that off…”

“You’d be surprised,” she croons, then taps me on the butt. “Okay, playtime is over. Back to work.”

Shaking off all this new information, I go back to helping her pack up the rest of her stuff. But the whole time, my mind is stuck on Frankie’s side hustle, wondering what she does, and how much she makes.

It’s pretty interesting. Subscription services for content creators is a rapidly growing business, and porn… Well, porn will always be a massive enterprise. I’ve personally never subscribed to any OnlyFans accounts, but I’ve certainly seen people promoting them… on the dark side of Twitter. And in clips on PornHub.

My thoughts are swirling as we finish up the packing, then order pizza. And just as Zeb is lighting up our farewell joint, my phone chimes in my pocket.

Pulling it out, I tap the screen to find an email from BC Housing.

“Oh shit… It’s here,” I whisper, opening the email while saying a silent prayer that I’ll be near my friends.

“Fingers crossed for Welch!” Micah chirps.

“Or Roncalli!” Bea adds.

“Yea, and hopefully you get to room with someone a little more fun than Finn.” Zeb smirks.

“Hey, at least my roommate is quiet, and clean. Unlike yours.” I peek at him, and he rolls his eyes.

Zeb couldn’t get away from his current roommate, Evan, fast enough. He’s a preppy jock, just like Kyran. Only he’s also a slob and a half who blasts country music every morning at six a.m.

“If I hear ‘Save a Horse, Ride A Cowboy’ one more time, I’ll stand behind said horse and let it kick me in the face,” Zeb mutters, and we all laugh. “But still… only slightly worse than your roomie, who I honest to God think might be a serial killer.”

“Oh, fuck…” I whisper, tuning him out while my eyes frantically scan the email.

“What?!” Bea whines. “Don’t leave us hanging!”

“Are they sending you down to Tudor?” Micah scoots in closer on the floor.

“Worse…” I mutter, my stomach flopping like a fish out of water. “I’m in Walsh.”

Everyone gasps.

“Walsh, as in… across campus?” Frankie looks upset.

My head drops, and I rub my temples.

Walsh, as in… Kyran’s side of campus.

Worse than that. The Walsh Residence Hall is where Kyran lived this year.

Oh my God, if we end up in the same dorms, he’ll literally make my life a living hell.

“Maybe he’ll be moved too,” Bea says nervously, already aware of my plight and clearly trying to be positive.

But we all know, Kyran moving out of Walsh is unlikely. Most of the football players live there. And if I know Kyran like I think I do, he’ll want to stay with his pack.

“Fuck me, this is awful…” I grumble.

“Ask for a transfer,” Zeb says. “Who knows? They might let you…”

“Fat chance,” I grunt, tossing my phone onto the floor. “They don’t cater to sophomores. Especially ones who aren’t on the football team, have shitty grades, and whose parents’ names aren’t on buildings and shit.”

“It won’t be so bad.” Micah nudges me. “Bright side, the Walsh dorms are supposed to be the nicest.”

“Yea, because they’re full of football all-stars and rich kids,” I sigh. “I don’t fucking belong there.”

“Well, then…” Frankie grins sympathetically, picking up a crumpled piece of paper and tossing it at me. “Looks like no better time than the present to become part of the team.”

Narrowing my gaze at her, I snatch the piece of paper, unrumpling it. And I let out a derisive scoff.

Baldwin the fucking Eagle…?

Kill me now.


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