How it is: Chapter 16

“So to begin today’s board meeting, let’s go over the money from our last event.” Alex started. ACU was meeting that same night Valerie and Janice spoke, in a classroom in the College of Arts and Sciences. He turned to Gary, who was ACU’s current treasurer. “Well, looking into our ticket prices, we charged $7 per person. Our attendance was good. We got 300 people, so that’s $2,100. And we promised each club that attended $100. We had 15, so they get $1,500 from us, and that means our club got a profit of $600!” He smiled. Despite Gary’s expression, everyone knew he was trying to avoid the major elephant in the room regarding the event. “But then there’s the additional costs. Facilities requires us to pay for the damages. And with the broken lamps and tables, that means we owe $750.” “Wait, so we lost $150 by doing this event?!” Alice looked shocked. “That’s… not good.” Timmy blurted, before everyone turned to look at him. He could tell that there was an awkward tension between him and his fellow officers at this point. “Well, at least the event was successful in terms of attendance. We can hold this again next year, and it’ll be just as successful, I’m sure.” Alex started. “Except almost every club refuses to re-collaborate with us for this…” Alice pointed out, referring to the feedback responses. The mood felt somber. And then it got worse. “No more ACU! No more ACU!” The officers turned to see a group of students, marching outside of their meeting classroom, holding signs with anti-homophobic messages on them, such as “Born this way” or “It’s the 21st Century, get with the times.” Timmy could feel his stomach sink with guilt at this point. “What the fuck?!” Alex and Holly peered through the classroom door window. They were being boycotted.

“Who the hell are you?!” Alex stormed outside and approached the students. “We are a part of the Gay-Straight Alliance.” A girl stated. “We don’t believe in what your officers stand for. The purpose of your club is to be all inclusive of Asians, yet you guys still think being bisexual is something to be afraid of. It’s disgusting!” She frowned as the other students continued marching in the hallway, holding up their signs and chanting. Alex was stunned speechless. Timmy looked in horror as a lot of the students in the hallway were glaring at him. “Get the fuck out of the hallway! You’re disturbing our meeting! I’m going to call campus security on you!” Alice threatened, grabbing her phone. She started dialing the number, only to be interrupted by one of the protestors. “Oh, they know. And it’s not disrupting your meeting if you’re not intruding on your classroom or physically harming you.” The male student pointed out. “We can get verbally disruptive, but so long as we do nothing to physically harm us, you can’t sue. Trust me, I’m a law student. I know this crap like the back of my hand!” “Shit.” The vice president cursed under her breath, out of options. “What should we do?” Gary looked at Holly and Timmy. He was normally the optimistic one, but in this case, even he was unsure of how to approach this situation. Unfortunately, the protests only got worse. This was only the beginning of a long, horrendous night for ACU’s executive board.

Suddenly, even more students started flooding into the hallway, many of which Timmy recognized. Amongst the crowd included Enya, Sara, and Melissa, as well as Akinori and Mari as well as the rest of the members of JBA, Vicky and her officers from the Modeling Club, the members of SSA, and the students from Tisch. At this point, they were surrounded, trapped, basically none of the ACU members could leave the room or go into the hallway with the sheer amount of protestors in that hall. And they all began to join in the protest. Had they not been there because of him, Timmy would have been amazed to see so many students rally around one cause. But in this case, he was horrified beyond belief. They were here to target him through his club. “Okay, what the fuck do you want from us? An apology?!” Alex roared. He was at his wit’s end. He was expecting today to be a simple meeting with a motivational speech at the end so that his club does not lose morale. Instead, it became his officers fearing for their lives, and the possibility of ACU being dissolved. As ACU’s president, this was a nightmare scenario.

“Alright, what are we going to do?” Holly whimpered, trembling. The girl was scared, exhausted, and starving at this point, having planned to get dinner after the meeting that they were still forced to be in due to the protestors outside. It had been three hours at this point, and everyone in ACU board was hulled up in their room, terrified. “Down with ACU! Down with ACU!” They continued chanting. Timmy was only half-listening to what everyone else was saying at this point. The Taiwanese boy was preoccupied with his own thoughts. He only wanted to be a part of ACU so that he could finally grow up. But in the process of becoming an officer, he managed to not only push away his closest friends, but caused harm to everyone he cared about. Valerie must hate him, especially if she heard that he called her a slut. Tarou must already hate him, because he refused to go to the Asian Cultural Awareness event, and he was okay with allowing so many of his friends from other clubs partake in this protest. And then his friends on ACU. None of them deserved to be put through this torment, especially because of his own dumb, impulsive mistake. “I’m not even sure at this point.” Alex groaned. He was getting fatigued too, from stress and anxiety. He did not want to be known at the president of ACU when it went under. That would be a hard thing to have to live with.

The board members sat in a circle, trying to figure out a proper solution. At this point, it was already midnight. “So we can go out there an apologize as a board?” The event coordinator, a sophomore named Sharon, suggested. “I think that might be the best course of action.” Alex sighed, resigning to any option at this point. The officers got up and quietly walked into the hallway. The protestors all went silent as they saw the entirety of ACU board standing before them. “Hi, everyone. So we all want to apologize for our officer, Timmy’s actions. He was being rash and did not mean what he said. We’re sorry.” Alex took a slight bow. Everyone else on board quickly followed. As he was in mid-bow, Timmy could feel that all of the protestors were glaring at him. “That’s not enough!” Somebody shouted in the crowd. “We don’t care if you apologize as a board. He’s the one who needs to learn a lesson for what he said!” Another protestor agreed. At this point, Alice and Alex looked at one another and exchanged nods, before turning to Timmy. “Timmy, I’m sorry. We’re going to have to ask you to resign from ACU.” Alex sighed, looking genuinely sorry to let go of such a devoted member. Timmy could feel his throat dry up as he tried to speak. The words just came out in croaks. “I understand. And I really am sorry for all of the pain and fear I caused everyone here.” He could feel the tears rolling down his eyes. “The person who made the comment, he’s no longer an officer. We just removed him from our roster, and we again deeply apologize to everyone who was offended by what he said.” Alice declared. All of the protestors, satisfied with the announcement, slowly filed out of the hallway. Following them, ACU’s officers. Timmy stood there, alone in the empty hall, devastated.

How it is: Chapter 1

“Hey.” A small Taiwanese boy with short black hair and a square shaped jaw stepped back into his grimy, dimly-lit dorm room. Laying on the occupied bed was his roommate and childhood friend, Tarou. Tarou was a tall, decently build Japanese boy with clean features, round brown eyes, and dark hair that was often swept to the side. Many people could already guess that he was a model from one look. “Hi, Timmy.” He yawned, before going back to looking at his laptop. Timmy had just finished another week of his freshman year in college. Being a computer engineering major, he was always bombarded with homework and assignments. Coding, programming, algorithms, it was all just one big mess of numbers that he had to sort out. But that was what he enjoyed about it. Being able to create something digitally, organizing and structuring text into actual visuals, it was a lot of fun for him. And then there was Tarou, who was a drama student, and a part-time model. Tarou was always busy doing performances, ranging from singing to performing, and in his free time, the Japanese boy was at an agency downtown, the New York branch of Logan Photography, doing shoots in the trendiest outfits. The two lived together in this crammed NYU dorm room, and they were both constantly stressed out with different things. “Hey, so I’m going to be out studying with the guys tonight.” Timmy started. He had another assignment, which meant another all-nighter with his computer friends Jeff and Nate. “That’s fine. I’ll be hanging out with my fan club.” Tarou joked, referring to a trio of girls who would follow him around the moment he set foot in public. He actually would never approach any of those three harpies willingly. “You really should just settle for one of them, or be honest with them. Leading all three of them on like that, it’s not right.” Timmy frowned. “Eh, like I care or have time to sit down and talk to them about feelings.” Tarou shrugged. He was too immersed in watching a music video on Youtube that featured him as the male lead.

“Honestly, how do you do it? Your roommate sounds crazy.” A tall but lanky male, Jeff, looked at Timmy. The two were sitting with their friend, a tall but muscular youth, Nate, doing their computer science homework in the library. “I just don’t get it. How can anyone put up with somebody who’s basically a sociopath?” Nate frowned in agreement. “Sociopath is a harsh way of putting it.” Timmy shrugged. He was referring to how Tarou would lead on several girls, causing him to have quite the following amongst female students in the greater New York area. “He just doesn’t know how to handle so many girls liking him at once. Plus, when we were kids, he wasn’t terribly attractive, so he’s just not used to be seen that way.” Timmy explained, realizing his own bad habit of omitting certain information. “Wait, Tarou used to be ugly?!” Jeff and Nate looked at each other in disbelief. “Yeah! Haven’t I ever told you that before?” Timmy fished out his phone and started flipping through his photos. “Oh wait, here we go.” He stopped at a picture from middle school of a noticeably younger Timmy standing with a stout, overweight boy with an acne-riddled face and large glasses that obscured the upper half of his head. “THAT’S HIM?!” Both of them yelled, completely shocked. “What the hell happened to him? Did he get hit by a truck and then use plastic surgery to rebuild his entire body?” Nate pondered. “No, that’s obviously not Tarou, right?” Jeff theorized. “Nope, that’s him. This was back in 8th grade, when he was still a fat blob.” Timmy answered.

“Hey, Timmy!” A chubby 12 year-old boy ran up to him. They were both in middle school, specifically the black top, walking towards their next classroom. “Tarou! Calm down! You’re already out of breath!” Timmy was right. The Japanese boy was panting and sweating profusely as he finally caught up to his friend in the hallways. “Wait, why are you waiting? Keep moving! We’re going to be late for English!” Tarou huffed. “Alright, alright.” The two started to walk. “But what did you want to talk about?” Timmy eyed his sweaty friend. “I just wanted to say hi!” Tarou laughed, wiping off his forehead. “Hey, you two!” The boys noticed a slim Singaporean girl, Valerie. “Tarou and Timmy, T and T, you two are dynamite!” She laughed. “What the heck, Valerie?” Tarou rolled his eyes, unamused. “Actually, though.” Timmy laughed, appreciating the pun; Tarou would be the more serious of the two, while Timmy was much more easygoing, something that stands true even to this day. “And that was my attempt at being funny.” She shrugged before joining them in their walk to English class. It was funny to think about how they were friends from then even to now, at NYU. Timmy fondly chuckled at that memory. Even though living with Tarou now, it was stressful to him, he still knew that his friend meant well. He just did not understand why Tarou felt the need to hover over him all the time.  It made him feel like he was trapped and cornered. He had no freedom in his own home that was supposed to be their room together.

“Ugh, I just don’t want to do anything right now.” Tarou groaned to himself. He had the entire dorm room to himself while Timmy was off studying. Normally, Tarou would be swamped, being a secretary for student government in the Tisch School of Arts, the treasurer for the Japanese Business Association, and the vice president of the NYU Modeling Club, while modeling part time, all while being a second semester freshman in college. Looking back at his own journey getting to this point, he chuckled to himself. When he was younger, Tarou had little to no confidence: he was overweight, unattractive, and a lot of people ignored him because of that. Timmy was one of the few people who was there for him, since they were in kindergarten. Even during cross country and track, Timmy was the one who helped him through practice. If it was not for Timmy, he knew that he would still be that same overweight loser. He owed Timmy for his confidence. The two of them, in Tarou’s eyes, were inseparable for this reason. Whenever he was nervous, had to vent, had a problem, he would go to Timmy. But then when puberty hit, and Tarou wound up being the taller, better-looking, and outgoing of the two, things started getting weird. Everyone assumed that Tarou would be the older brother-figure to Timmy, and it got to the point where Tarou himself started to see that as well.

“Aw, is he your little brother?” A small Korean girl, Enya, smiled at the two. It was back in their first day of college. “Wait, little? I’m the older one! And we’re friends! We’re not related! We’re not even the same ethnicity!” Timmy frowned, half amused and half offended. “He’s Japanese, and I’m Taiwanese-Chinese!” He pointed out. “Oh. Well, you definitely look really mature and reliable.” Enya winked at Tarou, who was slightly confounded at her remark. It was really rare for anybody their age back in high school to say that to him, granted, everyone from high school had always known the two of them, and their general dynamic. Everyone knew that Tarou was this chubby little kid. Here in NYU, nobody knew that. “Trust me, a straight guy like you in the Tisch School of the Performing Arts, you’ll be really popular.” She giggled, running off. And everyone following Enya continued to assume that Tarou was this suave older brother to the smaller and seemingly timid Timmy. Even though Tarou was scouted to be a model back when he was in the 9th grade, he never really stopped to think about how he looked, and why it was so appealing to others.

“Hey, don’t do that.” Tarou looked at Timmy. It was the present again, so in this case, February. It was less than 30 degrees F outside. The smaller male was about to open the window to their dorm room, because it was getting stuffy and uncomfortably hot in their room. “Why?” The tired Taiwanese boy gazed over, only to be met with a worry-struck Japanese model. “You’re sick. I don’t want you to get a fever from being exposed to the cold.” Tarou frowned at his friend. The last thing he wanted to see was somebody he cared about making an easily avoidable mistake, and paying the price for it. “Oh.” Timmy quietly slumped his way back into his bed and went to sleep. This was just one of several instances of Tarou acting like a helicopter parent to Timmy. If it was not staying warm, it would be the way he dressed, making sure he ate three meals a day, that he would be on time to class, all things that a parent, not a student or peer, should ever have to concern themselves with. Making sure that Timmy was safe suddenly became the Japanese model’s priority. He never understood why at first, but he just had this urge to look after and protect the Taiwanese boy. It was stressful and exhausting to Tarou as much as it was aggravating and annoying to Timmy.

“Hi, I’m Timmy. Timmy Li!” A five year-old Timmy was smiling at a chubby Japanese boy who was in his kindergarten class, Tarou Shimizu. “H-hi.” Tarou nodded shyly in acknowledgement. The boy was not used to having friends, so seeing Timmy made him nervous. He did not know how to react to being in any kind of social setting. “I heard from Valerie, that really pretty girl in our class, that you were new to town, and I am too! I figured that us new kids got to stick together.” Timmy laughed, sitting down with Tarou in the sandbox. Timmy had recently moved to Queens from La Canada, California, just a week after Tarou had moved to Queens from Torrance, California. It was funny to Timmy that both of them were from Southern California, and that was what drew him to Tarou to begin with. “Yeah, I moved here a couple weeks ago.” Tarou shyly nodded. It was clear at that point, Timmy was the more outgoing of the two. “Hey, do you like Kingdom Hearts?” Timmy beamed at Tarou hopefully. “Yeah! I love it.” Tarou grinned sheepishly. “Want to come over and play it at my place sometimes?” Timmy offered eagerly. “Sure! I’d love to!” Tarou nodded, feeling at ease for the first time in a while: he was so used to being picked on that he was initially cautious of Timmy’s friendliness. But seeing that he was genuinely trying to be friends, it was touching. From that moment on, the two of them became and remained close friends. Almost to the point of being inseparable. That was, until college drama took its toll.