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Elaine Ashford: Against the Current

Elaine Ashford--Against the CurrentJake and Miles are freestyle rivals on the same swim team. They are both gay and secretly attracted to each other, but they can’t help but antagonize each other. And to top that all off, they think the other is straight. Provincials are around the corner, so their coach lines up Jake, Tom, Ryan, and Miles to pull up the rear for a freestyle relay. As the four guys work on their times and their switches, they start to loosen up around each other, and there’s a definite sense of unity among them, even between the rivals.

When Jake and Miles were at a party at Tom’s house, Jake learns that Miles is “pretty fucking gay”. Shortly after Miles learns that Jake is as well, they have a moment, a couple actually. Some moments see lips pressed together while others see hands and mouths wrapped around certain appendages. But before the could talk about what just happened, they’re interrupted, not once, but twice. The final interruption sees Ryan, who was none the wiser, escorting them back to the party.

I thought Miles was pretty cute, being a little shy when he approached Jake at the party. He’s off his game when he’s facing Jake; it’s kind of adorable. Then he became pouty and grumpy like he was disgruntled about being seduced by Jake’s kindness. Meanwhile, Jake wasn’t even aiming for seduction–he was just being nice and trying not to say anything that would piss Miles off. At this point, I didn’t think they had any real chemistry, but it wasn’t as it I couldn’t see it happening. The story’s told in first person, so somethings end up sounding a little cheesy, a little forced, and a little flat, especially at the beginning. I thought whole story might be that way, but it wasn’t… Or, perhaps I got used to it.

After the party, about a week goes by before they get a chance to catch up with each other, and when they finally do, they lightly flirt their way into a study date. And this might be my favorite part. Jake goes to Miles’ dorm room and sees the posters he has on his wall–sci-fi. Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, and Andromeda. He calls Miles a heathen because he’s missing the best Star franchise: Stargate! And I’m like, “Oh my goodness, I love you Jake! Jake you’re just perfect: tall, dark, handsome and you like Stargate and you think it’s the best? All the yes for you, Jake! You’re my new fave!”

It’s all study dates and sleepovers until somebody freaks out. And that somebody is Miles. Provincials edge ever closer, but Miles seems to be falling behind. Miles’ non-coping skills leads him to break up with Jake. Well, separate, since they weren’t actually together. But nothing really changes for Miles; his time is still off. He knows he was wrong and he wants to apologize and make things right, but he’s afraid Jake will reject him. It’s worse because he’s arrived at the point where he realizes–they both have, actually–that their feelings are more than just hanging out and studying and having sex, that there is something more between them.

Happy ending, of course, but I do wonder how they’d deal with Miles always freaking out since he said he doesn’t handle stress well and hinted at his blow up being a thing that usually accompanies his stress. Not that Jake was a pushover, but he seems like he would just deal with Miles’ eruptions if they couldn’t talk it out. How long could they last like that, though? Well, the story wasn’t that deep, so I’m not going to fall down that hole. It was pretty basic. Cute, light, and quick, but just enough that I’ll probably think about it now and then.

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