“What is this about?” Blue asks.
“I shouldn’t be saying this but I don’t believe a word. You’ve had consistently high grades since you’ve been here and you came to us with excellent credentials. We’ve had reports that you cheated on the recent exams.” The dean says on the walk to his office where Blue’s chemistry professor is already seated.
“Now all your professors believe your exam results are genuine but one.” The dean says.
“I’m sorry Blue it isn’t that I believe you’re a cheat your work is always of a high standard but no one ever score so highly on the final or the final and midterm combined.” The chemistry professor says.
“So I was too smart for your class.” Blue laughs.
“I’m just saying your marks were an anomaly.” The professor says.
“Which is enough to lend credence to the allegations. But because you are a good student and in our previous encounters you’ve shown yourself to be of good character we are offering you a chance to clear your name rather than take this to a tribunal. You can take 3 exams from courses you’ve taken since being here and if the scores are in line then we’ll clear you.” The dean says.
“When?” Blue asks.
“Today.” The dean says.
“But I won’t be prepared. I can’t get the same scores, I have a good memory but it isn’t photographic.” Blue says.
“We understand that and will give you leeway but we expect you to show full understanding of the material.” The chemistry professor says.
“And if I say no?” Blue asks.
“We’ll take it to tribunal where if they find against you you’ll be asked to leave.” The dean says.
“And if I am exonerated. What happens to the person who accused me?” Blue asks.
“They will be disciplined.” The dean says.
“Can they be expelled?” Blue asks.
“You sound concerned what do you care?” The professor asks.
“I imagine it is my twin brother who did this and much as I dislike him it would cause a lot of hassle if he were expelled over me.” Blue says.
“Twin brother?” The deans asks confused.
“He’s a freshman, our triplet sister is here too. They were raised by our dad, me by our mom, I didn’t know they existed true parent trap style without any wish to get our parents together or becoming BFFs.” Blue says.
“I had no idea. Always the drama with you.” The dean says.
“Right and I found out last semester which made my final scores all the more surprising. I’ll take the tests.” Blue says.
“Okay we’ve prepared a study room for you and an invigilator. We’ll need to see you switch off your cell phone and I’ll lock your backpack in my drawer. We’ll supply you with writing implements and anything else you’ll need.” The dean says.
“You knew I’d take the tests.” Blue laughs shutting off his phone, emptying his pockets and handing them his bag and jacket.
“We don’t need your jacket.” The dean says.
“I have my clothes and student id and that’s it. That way there is no doubts.” Blue says and the dean and professor smile.
When Blue gets to the study room Brad is in there waiting.
“Hey man sorry to take up your day.” Blue says.
“No problem, always good to be owed a favor by the dean.” Brad grins.
“You have the first paper then a break to use the bathroom and have a break. Then the second paper. After that you can have lunch and Brad will supervise you. Then the third paper.” The dean says.
“I know one will be chem but what about the others?” Blue asks.
“You’ll find out when you get them.” The professor says.
Brad smiles and runs through the timings for the first paper and sits back and gets on with his work as Blue begins to write. Everything comes back easily and Blue whizzes through the exam and finishes early.
“Can we go for coffee?” Blue asks Brad.
“Sure. I just have to file this on the way. You must love chemistry or you blew it to get thrown out.” Brad says.
“It wasn’t so long since finals, it helps we’ve only had a week of classes so my head wasn’t all full of new things.” Blue says.
“How are you doing? In general. I honestly didn’t believe it when you walked in.” Brad says.
“I’m okay. I’m single and trying to have fun. I have a shit tonne of family stuff going on and I’m not handing it well. How is your study going?” Blue asks.
“Great, I am loving it. I am really loving it. It’s nice to be focusing on my work and not dealing with all the club business. I got a little crazy and I’m glad to have stepped back.” Brad says.
“And your love life?” Blue asks.
“Non-existent. I thought I had the one but he’s gone .I need to keep my head down this year.” Brad says.
“You’re welcome to join us on a Friday night. We hit a club after climbing each week.” Blue says.
“I think hanging with undergrads isn’t the best idea for me right now but thanks.” Brad says and Blue laughs.
Blue breezes through the second paper and over lunch tells Brad about his new family and his suspicion that its his brother setting him up.
“Blue you have way too much going on to have to deal with this. If you weren’t such a strong student I’d suggest taking a leave of absence.” Brad says.
“My neighbor just did a semester abroad. I was thinking I could try that. Just get away but it feels like it would be running away.” Blue says.
“It would be good for you. Might stretch you to go somewhere prestigious overseas. I wouldn’t be able to have done what you’re doing and I never cheated.” Brad says.
“I never cheated either. When your high school class has 5 other people in its hard to know where you will measure up against everyone else at college and how much effort will be required.” Blue says.
“Academically you adjusted so well, sounds like you probably do a lot more than is required but academics are not the issue for you. Your personal life is out of control and not all of it is out of your control.” Brad says.
“I know. I need to stop fucking my friends and master the one night stand.” Blue laughs.
“Come on lets go get your final final done and get you exonerated.” Brad says. He can’t believe the volume of shit Blue is drowning in. He was a green smalltown kid when they met but he knew himself and whenever they met later he seemed strong and growing. Now he’s beaten down and drowning.
The final paper Blue struggles a little to get started its for a class he took a year ago not last semester. But suddenly he remembers a couple of papers he did for the class and is flying. His inner nerd comes out and he enjoys himself.
Brad leads him back to the dean’s office when he’s done and the professor who set the final paper is there and reads through it.
“It’s an A paper no question. It’s very strong.” The professor says with a smile. She always like Blue as he was a good participant in class but didn’t dominate or hog office hours.
“Well they were shortened papers but I’m still impressed that you kept focus all day and turned in 3 A papers. You again would have got full marks on the chem paper and Professor Jones has sent a full apology for doubting you.” The dean says.
“There was no way he cheated today. He couldn’t work that quickly and be getting answers unless he’s totally telepathic.” Brad says with a grin.
“Thanks. I kinda had fun. It was a good challenge to pull everything out of my brain.” Blue says with a smile.
“There will be a disciplinary hearing for the student who knowingly falsely accused you. We’ll contact you when you need to be there.” The dean says.
“Thanks and I’m sorry my family caused all this trouble.” Blue says and takes his stuff and leaves shaking his head.
“How does that happen? A great student like that being part of someones revenge fantasy.” The professor shakes her head.
“I don’t know any student that could have turned in such high quality answers under this sort of pressure. I hate to admit it but he ought to be somewhere that can really push him.” The dean says.
“He’s had a lot to get used to. He didn’t know how he’d adjust to the city and he had no clue he was smart. Can you believe that? Today at lunch he said he had no way to tell because his high school was so small.” Brad laughs.
“Have a good day?” Gervais asks Blue as they sit down to dinner.
“No, I almost got kicked out of school today.” Blue says and tells Gervais about his day.
“Who the fuck? Chris?” Gervais asks.
“I don’t know. That was my first thought then I thought maybe George or Bea.” Blue shrugs.
“Bea is super smart and she knows you are too. Probably Bea and I are the only one who knew you could breeze through extra exams. Even if they had done them verbally. Actually I bet George and Chris would have an idea.” Gervais says.
“Great now you’ve exhausted my list of suspects.” Blue says with a smile.
“I’m coming with you to the tribunal. I’m not letting you face them alone.” Gervais says.
“Thanks. It’s really annoying me now. I get that people don’t like me, that the way I am just makes people hate me and yes sometimes I fuck up. If Chris knows about us I get it but honestly we always talk about how you should have dumped him when you found out but he should never, ever have gone for you.” Blue says.
“I am so sorry that I kept it going. That I lied about my feelings for him to you. I thought I was protecting you from him and I was just hiding and behaving badly.” Gervais says.
“You’ve apologized enough. More than enough. We’re too close to not get over this. You don’t think it was Andy do you?” Blue asks.
“No Andy is fucking up left and right but the loves you.” Gervais says.
“He fucked Birch. I know I can’t reserve guys for the future and maybe we’ll only ever be friends but dammit the first guy I meet from my world who is gay and I don’t include Deke as he’s a farm boy. Birch and Willow got me from the first minute and I’ll keep up with the friendship but it hurt.” Blue says.
“Finally you’re admitting you’re human. I love you Blue but you put up with way too much from all of us. It is okay to be mad and jealous.” Gervais says.
“Thanks. I just felt so stupid inviting Justin on Sunday and then when Birch and Willow arrived I couldn’t look at him and had to get out of there. I got over it and its fine. Neither Birch or I are looking for a relationship, he’s a great guy so I’m going to work on the friendship.” Blue says with a smile.
“That sounds healthy. You need to give Andy a major time out. Moving out was the right thing for you, I wish I could too sometimes. I hate George being around I want to push him off the roof sometimes.” Gervais says.
“I feel bad for George. I feel like he hasn’t worked out how to act with guys and we’re all telling him he’s getting it wrong but none of us are doing much good at showing how a good relationship works. Even Elliot and Jesse were dysfunctional at times.” Blue says.
“And his parents are lovely but weird with each other. Still he knows how to treat people and he went full psycho at Spence, at least he worked up to it with you and fuck he and Spence were not even dating.” Gervais says.
“I love that we can be properly open when we talk again.” Blue says.
“Me too. You need to talk to Robin. I think he’s hurt you didn’t talk to him about leaving.” Gervais says.
“I owe Robin some proper time.” Blue says.
“Want to come see him now?” Gervais asks.
“Not yet. I’ll call him.” Blue says.
The following afternoon Gervais gets notification of the tribunal. He assumes that Blue added him as his support and thinks nothing of it. He and Blue wait outside the room at 3 both surprised it is happening so fast and the culprit isn’t being given more time to prepare.
“It’ll be okay. Don’t feel guilty.” Gervais says as they wait.
Blue reaches for Gervais hand and feels like he is the one on trial.
Brad comes round the corner and looks confused.
The dean and some other faculty arrive and they all go in.
“So Gervais do you understand what you’re being accused of?” The dean asks.
“What? I’m here to support Blue.” Gervais says confused.
“Did you not read the email?” Brad asks.
“Just the time and place. I told Blue I’d come and support him. I thought that was why I got it.” Gervais says.
“Gervais didn’t accuse me.” Blue says confused.
“That’s the details we have. We have a photocopy of his ID and they signed the page.” The dean says.
“It wasn’t Gervais.” Blue says.
“It really wasn’t. Blue is my best friend.” Gervais says.
“I was confused when I got the paperwork. Especially when I remembered how much help Blue was to Gervais when his dad passed.” The dean says.
“We can’t just take his word for it. His id was shown, he had no problem not being anonymous. I assume he doesn’t have a twin.” One of the faculty say.
“When did it happen? I mean you must have taken a few days to sort out my extra exams. Maybe Gervais has an alibi.” Blue says.
“Was it my driving license used or my student id that they used?” Gervais asks getting his wallet out.
“You think Chris took your id? He couldn’t pass for you.” Blue says.
“I don’t know. They’re both here anyway and I don’t remember either going missing.” Gervais says.
“Let me see.” Brad says. The conviction of both guys is quite endearing and he feels the need to help them out. Knowing Blue would be devastated if Gervais was punished. Gervais passes over his id and the photocopy is passed to Brad.
“This isn’t Gervais. The picture on the copy isn’t him but the details match Gervais student id. Do you know who it is?” Brad asks handing the copy to the boys to look at the picture.