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"Mmph," muttered Nigel, and snuggled down onto me again. "Mmm, what a lovely way to wake up. I love you, Chris. Hmm. Er, OH!" And he jolted bolt upright. "Mum! Oh. Er, I, er. Oh. Erm I suppose you're wondering. Oh shit."
"No need to swear at me, Nigel." She wasn't smiling exactly, but she didn't seem angry or anything either. "I've seen boys share a bed before, you know."
I stayed quiet. It didn't seem right to say anything just then. I wanted to say something, but I didn't know what. I mean it isn't every day you're found in bed with a boy by his mother. Especially when that boy has just told you sleepily that he loves you. She went to the table and put both mugs of tea down.
"Have you made some tea for yourself?"
"My mug is downstairs."
"Would you get it and come and drink it up here, do you think? I'd like to, I think we'd like to, er, talk to you."
"Would you like to talk, too, Chris?"
"I think so, yes. I mean, yes, probably." She seemed so nice. This wasn't anything like I'd expected.
"I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll give you both a couple of minutes to make sure that you're decent, and I'll come back with some toast as well. Opening the windows would be an idea, Nigel. Just for a blow through?"
"Mum, can it just be you, for now. Not Dad?"
"If you like. I wasn't planning on asking him up." Now I'll be as long as it takes to do six slices of buttered toast, OK?" And she went. And I heard the grill rattling downstairs as she started the toast.
"She didn't seem too surprised, Nigel? I don't feel what I thought I'd feel, either. I expected to be scared, but I feel quite relaxed. I think."
"Stop relaxing and get some clothes on, though," he said as he scuttled to open the window. "We didn't exactly wear any last night, after all. Night clothes will do fine."
"Your Mum seems very calm about this." Mine would have been jumping up and down, I thought. Having disasters.
"Yeah, she does. I'm not, though. Calm, I mean."
At which point he grabbed me and pulled me back into bed. "What?"
"I'm not facing anyone about anything without you, Chris. It was in bed she found us, and we're going to talk to her together, in bed."
I felt slightly foolish. "Well, OK, but.." Too late for 'but' because I could hear her footsteps on the stairs.
"Ready?" She called, opening the door with the tray, this time loaded with toast, a teapot and a milk jug. "Right, Glad to see the window is open, the room's a lot fresher now. I think I'll shut it, though. I don't think we need to broadcast anything we don't want others to hear, do you?" And she closed it. "Ok, boys. Over to you."
"Mum, you don't seem to be very, er?"
"No, surprised I think I mean."
"I've been your mother for fourteen years, Nigel. I don't think I'm going to be surprised by much, do you?"
"Mum, I'm gay."
"And I love Chris, and he loves me, and we're..."
"Happy, by the looks of you."
"Why am I being so calm about this? Is that what you mean?"
"Well, yes. And why haven't you kicked Chris down the stairs and stuff. And why isn't Dad up here beating the living daylights out of me for being a queer?" He was close to tears. And confused. Me too!
"Do you remember how often I've told you that I'll always love you, Nigel? Whatever happens in your life that I'll always love you?"
"I suppose I do, but.."
"No buts. Chris, is it right? That you love Nigel, I mean?"
"I can't imagine being without him. Yes. I love him." I was very nervous. Under the covers I was holing his hand so tightly it must have been hurting him. Except he was holding mine even tighter.
"Will you ever hurt him, or let him down?"
"Not on purpose, Mrs Cropper."
"That's good enough for me. So, Nigel. What you aren't is 'a queer'. You're my son, you're Nigel, and I'm proud of you. And from what I see of Chris you have a fine boyfriend. I'm not sure I like the word 'gay' too much to describe you, either."
"I thought I said no buts? How long have you known you liked boys more than girls, Nigel?"
"All my life, I think."
"I know this is going to seem silly to you, but are you certain that you'll stay this way?"
"I think so. I've tried to like girls, Mum. I just don't. They aren't as wonderful as boys, and Chris is the most wonderful of them all."
"We'll get to that. Maybe another day. Today I just want to be able to be what you need me to be. I don't stop being your mum just because you don't have conventional preferences you know. Nor does Dad. Stop being your Dad I mean."
"I don't know how to tell him, Mum. He's always been so, so male, you know?"
"Are you any less male? Because you happen to be in love with a beautiful boy? No, Chris, don't interrupt, you are." I'd tried to say I wasn't. She wasn't having any of it. "Are you, Nigel? Because I can't spot it if that's what you think? And nor will Dad."
"Are you sure?"
"I am so sure that I would be completely unconcerned if he were to walk in right now."
"He won't though. You haven't..."
"It's all right. I haven't. Anyway he's getting ready to go to work, he's getting the car out. But Nigel, he and I talked about this years ago."
"You knew I was gay years ago?" His mouth was wide open. I mean wide!
"No. Nor did you, did you? I mean we both talked about what we would feel if it happened that you were. Because it's always possible. And we each told each other that we would welcome your boyfriend as our son, too. I don't mean persuaded each other. I mean that we each knew already, and just expected that the other felt the same."
Nigel was crying now. I wasn't far behind. Not in grief, but in relief. I held him tightly. I was almost embarrassed in front of his Mum, but not. I took him into my arms and held him close and stroked his hair. "I don't know how, Nigel, but it's all right."
"I know." He was sobbing now, uncontrolled. "I was so scared. So scared. I've been too scared to tell Chris that I loved him, and I was scared to tell you, Mum. I've been scared."
Her arms were round us both. I think she was crying, too. "It's OK. Nigel, Chris. It's OK. I meant it, Chris, you're welcome here. Nigel, you're still my son. Nothing's changed. Nothing that matters a damn. Except that you don't need to be scared anymore. Not of me, and not of Dad either. It's OK."
It took a while for us all to stop crying. Quite a long while. She went and got some loo roll to dry all our tears in the end. As we got nearly back to normal, Nigel said quietly, "We still have to tell Chris's parents, Mum."
"True, but that can wait for the moment. That's for Chris to decide, anyway."
"I don't think I want them to know just yet. They don't have to know, do they?" Oh boy. I couldn't see my mother being so calm. I couldn't. She'd go stupid over it And cry a lot. And stuff.
"No, Chris. They don't have to know until you're ready to tell them. Unless someone tells them first. No-one's going to do that, are they?"
"Carol knows," Nigel said. "But she's cool about it. At least she says she is. It was what she was doing here. Yesterday, I mean."
"Well," said his Mum, "we don't need to deal with that today, do we?"
"No!" I must have been holding my breath, because I deflated completely as the word rushed out. It was a double relief.
"But I do want to talk to you both about something. It's something you have a right not to answer, but something I want to speak about. In fact there are a couple of things. I expect you have an idea what I want to say to you? Or talk about with you, I hope?"
"I think so," Nigel was hesitant, but half confident.
"Look, boys," she said, "I'm not trying to be nosy. I'd be having this conversation if one of you was a girl, and it would be just as awkward, OK? I don't want to know if you are having sex with each other. I'm going to assume that you are. Don't interrupt me yet, Nigel. I want to be sure that you are both safe, that's all."
"Safe! Mum! We're not sleeping around or anything!" Nigel looked shocked. All that had happened, and it was this that shocked him.
"I didn't for a moment think that you were. I'm making a mess of this. I'm sorry. Look give me a chance, Nigel, Chris? Please?"
"HIV and AIDS and stuff. It's important. I don't know anything about it. But I think we should all find out. And look at normal health and hygiene issues, too."
"I suppose," he said. But I don't think AIDS and stuff applies. I'm, I was, er. Oh Chris, there's only been you. No-one else. Just you."
I was thinking. "I was going to say that there was only you, Nigel. But there was Carol. But there was only me for Carol. I think, anyway. I mean she never looked at anyone else. Not ever. And we were always together. I don't want to, but I suppose I'd better ask her."
"Now there is one other thing," she said. "It's a difficult thing, though. And I'm not sure how to put it to you. I suppose blunt is best, so here goes. I don't particularly want to be put into the position of either hearing you or seeing you make love to each other. I wouldn't want it if you were a boy and a girl, and I don't see why that should be different when you are both boys. I need you to be sensible and considerate for us, me and Dad, too."
"Mum, does that mean that you're OK about us? Completely, I mean?"
"Well, I need to get used to it a bit. But yes. Yes, I think I am. If you are truly happy. I've only one real worry."
"Which is?" He sounded resigned.
"Which you'll be cross with me about. But I'm going to risk it."
"What?" He asked her. "Why will we be cross?"
"It's that I'm worried that you're both so young. That you might make permanent decisions too young That you might be wrong about yourself, yourselves. That you might hurt each other, or yourself, selves, by, oh you know what I mean..."
"I love him, Mrs Cropper. I only found out I did while we were in France. But I love him. I want to spend my life with Nigel. If he'll let me."
"Me, too, Mum. I've loved Chris since I first saw him. It's real love. At least I've never felt anything like it before. He's special."
"I think you're both special. Really special. Oh blast. The tea and toast are cold. Look, get dressed, come downstairs and I'll cook you breakfast. And Chris?"
"Yes Mrs Cropper?"
"First you'd better call me Claire, since it probably isn't sensible to call me 'Mum', and second it's nice to have another son." And she kissed me. And hugged me. And I nearly burst into tears again as she went downstairs.
"Oh." It was all I could say as she went away.
"Yeah. 'Oh'." Nigel didn't seem very talkative either.
I found I was kissing him. Not passionately, but kissing his cheeks, and his forehead. I found I was feeling suddenly very tired. Almost as though I hadn't slept. Not a wink. But it was a different type of tiredness, too. All the stress of the past week or so, brought suddenly to the surface, and washed away in an instant.
Except it wasn't all gone. We couldn't be as lucky with my parents as with Nigel's. We just couldn't. They were super people, my parents, but I couldn't believe that it could be so easy twice. I told him so. "I don't want to tell ,my parents for a while."
"You don't need to, Chris. It's not a 'today thing' anyway."
We were getting dressed. Slowly. I watched Nigel as he dressed, first as he stripped off, revealing his body in all its glory; slim, athletic, fit, soft muscle definition. And as he turned away his beautiful bum, in proportion, the nobbles on his spine, the two dimples by the small of his back. I found I was getting excited. It wasn't the right time, but I still kissed each butt cheek. "You are so beautiful, Nigel. I love you so much."
"Put me down, you idiot. Mum's expecting us downstairs." And he turned round and hugged me tight, one sock of, one sock on.
"Why did you start with your socks?"
"Wanted to get you excited!"
"Aaaarggghhhhhhh! Horrible boy! I'll teach you!" And I jammed my lips onto his, and my tongue into his mouth. Fiercely.
Then, from downstairs, "Come on boys, breakfast won't wait this time!"
"Race you," he giggled.
I lowered my hands to below his waist.
"Not that," he giggled. "Race you to get downstairs."
"What does the winner get?"
And I could smell bacon cooking. I'm a sucker for a bacon and egg breakfast. And Nigel beat me downstairs, and was sitting down with a fresh mug of tea in front of him. Oh yum! Bacon, egg, sausages, tomato, grilled mushrooms, fried bread, toast and tea. A real lorry driver's breakfast. "This is wonderful. Oh thanks Mrs, er, Claire." And I grabbed her and hugged her tight.
"Put me down and eat your breakfast, Chris." She was smiling at me. "And when you've done that, comb your hair!" and she ruffled it to make her point.
Oh it was wonderful. I felt at home. Not just the most wonderful boy in the whole world as my boyfriend, but a new family as well. And a cooked breakfast into the bargain! It was so good. Life was good. Happy isn't the word for it.
"Mum, can Chris come to breakfast every day?" Nigel was smiling at her. "We can have cooked breakfast every day, then"
"Awful child! No, we can't. He has a home to go to as well. Now eat your breakfast and work out what you two are going to do today." She caught a glance from him to me. "That is not what I had in mind. Something like a bike ride, or swimming, or cinema is what I had in mind. And I do not want to know what you are thinking in that direction, OK?"
"Yes, Mum, sorry Mum," and Nigel was convulsed with laughter.
"Mrs Cr, sorry, Claire. And Claire?"
"I think you're great. I wish you were my mum."
"I don't think your mother will be so different from me, Chris. Not in the end, anyway. Whatever her reaction might be at first."
"I hope so." I wasn't convinced. "I hope so. I do hope so. I want Nigel and me.."
"Nigel and I, she corrected.
"Yeah, well. Us, then. I want us to be able to be 'at home' whether we're here or at my house."
"Sorry, Chris, force of habit! I spend my life correcting Nigel!"
"Yeah, Mum, and it's awful!"
"OK, I give in. Oh I like having two sons."
"We're lovers, Mum."
"I know," she sighed. "And you're both so young. And some people will say that I'm a rotten mother for being happy for you. But whatever I said wouldn't change it. Not for a moment. Would it?"
"Not for a single moment, Mum, eh Chris?"
"Not even a nanosecond," I agreed.
We ate for a while longer. Then she asked "What are you going to do today?"
"I've got to check with my Mum if she wants me for anything today. Oh!"
"What?" Nigel jumped as I 'Oh'ed.
"Carol. I owe Carol a big thank you. I have to see her today." I watched Nigel's face get tense as he listened. "You idiot, I have to. You need to thank her too, you know. Will we go together? Please? I think I need to get her a present or something..." It sounded pretty lame as I tailed off.
"Will one of you please tell me about Carol?"
Nigel started. "Chris has been going out with Carol since I knew him, Mum. They've been an item at school for ever. They're almost famous!"
"Well, I suppose I stole Chris from her, sort of."
"I liked being stolen," I added. "But it was weird, too, kind of."
"Anyway, a load of stuff happened while we were away. And it all ended up with me getting upset yesterday.
"'My getting upset', Nigel"
"I do wish you'd stop doing that, Mum!"
"I got all stressed, and so did Chris, and we shouted at each other and I ran away back here, and he couldn't follow me and didn't know where we lived, and" he breathed in.
"Couldn't follow you? I don't understand."
"Well he was, er, didn't, er"
"Oh, never mind, I see. I'm not sure I need to know that."
"Probably not! Anyway the next thing was that Carol came here, dragging Chris behind her, and she gave him to me."
"I'm not sure I understand, Nigel. 'Gave him to you'?"
"Well, it felt like that. She talked about loving Chris enough to want him to be happy. Even if it wasn't with her. And he chose me. Not her."
"Carol had just sort of left when you came in and found us in each other's arms yesterday." I thought I ought to take some part in this.
"Mmm. I started to wonder then. About you two, I mean."
"I was scared of you then, Mrs, er, Claire. I nearly wet myself with fright. I still can't understand why you're being so fantastic about it all."
"Oh Chris, I'm not sure I can understand it either. Except I can see the way Nigel looks at you, and the way you look at him. And I think it helps that I like you. I can't imagine what it would be like if you weren't nice. If you see what I mean."
"I think so. Yes, I think so. At least I think I'd do the same if I had a son. Oh." It hit me then. "But I won't, will I. I mean we won't. Nigel and I can't. It, oh. Oh."
"Let's leave that for now, Chris. There's a lot to find out. And if you make a permanent couple.."
"It isn't 'if', Mum!"
"OK, when you've been a couple for a good period, if you both want kids, then you can probably adopt. I don't know what 'people' will think, but I don't suppose it matters. I didn't mean that I thought you might break up, or wanted you to, Nigel. You seem to know your own mind. I just meant that not all relationships last as long as we wish they did, that's all. For now, what about being boys again?"
"What do you mean, Mum?"
"Well, you just seem so grown up. What's wrong with getting on a bus and going to the cinema, or going swimming, or something?"
"OK, you said that before, too. I think Chris wants to talk to Carol at some point."
"I can phone her. I think it's better if I phone her. I don't think I can see her face to face for a little while. Not sure she could cope, either."
"So, what do you want to do this morning?" Nigel asked me.
"I think I need to call home and make sure I can hang out with you all day. Mrs, sorry, Claire, may I use the phone, please?"
"Of course. There's one in the living room."
"Thanks. I'm not sure I'll get used to 'Claire' instead of Mrs Cropper for a while, though."
"Don't worry about it!" She was smiling at me. "Call me what you like, Chris. Providing it's polite!"
I liked Claire. She was a real mother. I suppose it must have been hard for her to find out not only that Nigel was gay, but that he had a boyfriend, and that she'd found us in bed together. Only I wasn't thinking about that at the time. Not really. Anyway, I called home. Mum answered, and she agreed that I could stay the day with Nigel. Actually she didn't seem to take much persuading. She did tell me to make sure I said 'thank you' and stuff, and I told her the 'I'm not a kid anymore' stuff, and we left it at that. I was wondering, though, if I dared to tell her. Oh yeah, she checked to make sure I had enough cash to pay my share of things. Paying our way is important to us. I think it's because we don't really have much money. Not short of it, exactly, but not much to spare. Well, none to spare I suppose. Anyway I had enough, probably.
I came back into the kitchen as soon as I'd hung up. "Mum says I can stay," I told them. "If I behave myself, and say 'thank you' a lot, that is!" I couldn't help giggling. And I don't know what made me do it, but I went up to Claire and gave her a huge hug. And felt her stroking my hair. "I need to tell my parents, but I don't dare to," I mumbled onto her shoulder as I was hugging her. "I'm scared to."
"You can wait until you're ready, you know," she reminded me. ""It doesn't have to be now, Chris. It should be when you are ready, not a moment before. And when the time is right for them, too. It takes a bit of your breath away, you know, when you know what your son's been feeling."
"But you seem so calm, so 'OK' about it?"
"Nigel will tell you. I'm almost unshockable. And most important I love him. And if I'm honest, I've been wondering a little. No reason, but most boys at school seem to have girlfriends. And whenever I teased him about it, he kind of looked at me sideways, almost as though he was in pain. So I suppose I was half ready to find out. Am I 'OK' about 'it' as you put it? Honest answer?"
"Yes, Mum, please?" His hair was lit up by the morning sun. His face was serious, but he still looked like a young god. The image of a beautiful colt trotting proudly round a green field flashed into my mind, tossing his man in the sun, kicking the dew with his hooves.
"Honest answer. I feel churned up inside. Not, Nigel, because you're gay. I do so hate that word, but it's far better than 'queer'. I think it's because I couldn't help you because you couldn't tell me before. I feel scared a little for your future. Yes for both of you. I hope you'll stay together, never hurt each other, but I know that you may choose to part as well. And if I'm selfish, I won't have grandchildren. Or a wedding to go to. Or all the other things I was expecting as normal. And I'll have people ask me 'Is that your gay son?' in a sneering way, and I'm not wholly looking forward to it. But then I look at you, Nigel. And I know that you're still my little boy, and that you haven't changed. And I know love you. And that makes it all right. And I can see Chris as a fine young man, and he makes a lovely new son, if he doesn't mind being one. And I like him. I don't know you very well yet, Chris, but I know enough to like you. And I see the way Nigel looks at you, and I see the way you look at him, and it's special between you. So I feel OK about it. But I'm not going to pretend to you that it was the easiest thing to hear. Even if I looked as though it was. You can do anything for your son, if you love him enough."
"I love you Mum," came a quiet voice. "I couldn't tell you before."
"I know you couldn't. Just come and give me a hug."
We spent a long time all three of us, just hugging. I don't really come from a very huggy family, but it felt good, really good. I almost felt reborn.
"So," she asked at last, "what are you going to do today?"
"Well, it's almost 11 o'clock," Nigel said as he untangled himself and looked at the wall clock. "So I guess we could go out for a walk to the rec. And then go into town to the cinema and see what's on?"
"Sounds fine," I answered "Er, I also need to speak to Carol at some point."
"What about now?" he asked. "Mum, may Chris use the phone again, please?"
"Go on, then," she said.
So I did. I dialled her number from memory. It rang for a long time. Then her mother answered. "It's Chris," I said.
"Ah," was the reply.
"May I speak to Carol, please?"
"She has a sick headache, Chris. I think she's asleep. I don't want to wake her."
"Look, can I get her to call you when she's feeling better?"
"Er, yes. Er, but I won't be at home until this evening."
"I'll tell her. Bye, Chris." And I heard the click as she hung up. It wasn't the usual type of conversation I had with Carol's mother. Usually we were all friendly and stuff. Today this was sort of sad, and businesslike. Almost as if Carol's headache was a story, as if she didn't want to speak to me. I suppose she didn't.
"She wasn't well," I said, simply, when I came back into the kitchen. "So I could only speak to her mum. She'll probably call me at home tonight."
So we got ready to go out. Well, I put my trainers on! I was exhausted. We hadn't exactly been doing anything, but I was completely cream crackered. Emotional stuff takes it out of you. And Nigel and I went out through the front door and set off down the street. I looked again at the neat grass verges, the house front garden walls, the neat, and sometimes not so neat, front gardens, and smelt warm tarmac pavement on the air. The whole day was a lazy day.
We talked, I suppose. I think mainly we were still both in shock, but we talked about school, and pop groups, and really ordinary stuff. The rec is pretty big. A couple of tennis courts, a bowling green, putting green, football pitches, a cricket square. Oh, and a sort of tea counter.
We went over. "Buy you an ice cream?" I asked.
"Oh yes. Yes please."
"Two 99 Flakes, please."
I've always liked those, so I decided for both of us. I don't want this to sound like an advert or anything - heck I just adore the crumbly chocolate and the smooth ice cream! And that flake advert, the way that girl licks the flake before taking it into her mouth! Awesome! Only it wasn't the girl I wanted to lick my flake now! As long as he didn't bite it off, that was! Coz that's what she did, in the advert! Aaaargghhhhh!
"I love you, Nigel Cropper," I said between licks. Of the flake. And the ice cream. "I love you so very much."
"Oh Chris...." he was looking at me, "I've loved you for so long. It still feels like a dream. You know I just love you, er, I mean it doesn't even need sex and stuff. I just love you." He looked dreamily into the middle distance. Which was not a particularly beautiful view, because right in his field of vision was a huge gas holder. But it could have been a view across an ocean for all I reckon he saw it. "I don't mean I want to stop making love to you. I mean it's perfect simply being with you, talking to you, walking with you, breathing the same air."
"Yeah," I breathed out a long, dreamy sigh. "I could die happy right now."
"Don't you dare! I haven't finished with you yet." And he squeezed my thigh. Right there, on the bench where we'd been sitting to eat the ices, in public. "I want to kiss you," he whispered.
"People will see."
"I almost don't care."
"You will care if someone from school sees, though."
"True. Yeah. I'll care then. But they'll know soon enough I reckon."
"Well, Carol may be a good friend, but people will want to know why you've split up. And you're beautiful. And I bet there's a whole queue of girls ready to try to snap you up. How're you going to handle that?"
"Let's drop the subject. Heck, you seem to manage to keep the queue at bay. And I love it when you say I'm beautiful, but I'm not. You are. Beautiful. Awesomely beautiful."
We sat in silence for ages after than. Sneaking looks at each other to try to decide who was actually beautiful! He was the most beautiful person, boy or girl, that I had ever seen. Sunshine and summer suited him. And in winter he would shine like the sun on the gloomiest day. In less than a week Nigel had become my sunrise and sunset. He was sunshine and moonlight. And I was sitting here, on a rough park bench, in a scruffy suburban recreation ground, with the most beautiful, most wonderful person in the whole world. And he loved me. And he made me melt inside whenever he spoke, or looked at me, or smiled. And my heart broke for him whenever he frowned. It was a fierce feeling. Proud of him, fiercely protective of him, ready to kill anyone who hurt him, deeply happy to be loved by him.
Ice creams had long gone. "Town, lunch and cinema?" he asked me, dreamily
"Any idea what's on
"Nope. Let's take pot luck."
"How do we get into town?" My geography was letting me down. I could get anywhere from home, but starting in a strange place was a complete mystery to me
"You know those big red things with wheels on each corner?"
"Idiot! I remember your Mum said get a bus. Which bus and where do we catch it?"
"We walk about half a mile, and then catch the first one that comes along. There are four that use the route, and all are good. Oh yeah, have you got shrapnel, or just paper money?"
"Some shrapnel, I think."
"Good, coz these one man jobs get stroppy if you don't have the correct change
"What are we going to do for lunch?"
"Simple choice, McRubbish or Kentucky Fried Greyhound. Or fish and chips."
"What do you fancy?"
"Idiot, for lunch?"
"Still you. With whipped cream."
"I don't suppose we could skip the cinema and go back to your house, and see if there is any cream in the fridge?"
"With Mum there, in the daytime? Funny, before she knew I'd have said 'yes'. But it seems wrong, somehow, coz she'll know what we're doing. Or she'll think that she knows if we're in my room with the door closed. And I feel a bit weird about that."
"Yeah. Damn. The chippy, then. I can't face McAnything, and the greyhound is too greasy."
"And the chippy isn't greasy? Ouch, stop hitting me, the chippy it is! Battered dick and chips, twice!"
"Idiot. I like my dick without batter. I'm going to have haddock. If they've got any. You can have a sausage if you like!" We'd been walking for a while, towards the bus stop, and we were level with a shoulder high privet hedge. I took my chance and ever so gently shoulder barged him into it!
"I'll get you for that," I heard as he extracted himself from the hedge, but I was trotting off down the road.
Pounding feet behind me, and he grabbed me as he went past and spun round me into a huge bear hug Oh it was all I could do not to kiss him. As he squeezed my chest hard against him, lifting me almost off the ground, I looked into his eyes, and at his smiling mouth, and I watched his eyes go all fuzzy as then softened and I watched his mouth move slowly towards mine, so slowly. And I felt mine move towards his, there, in the street, in front of house windows and twitching net curtains. And I just knew I was going to kiss him if he didn't stop looking at me that way. I knew it, and I cared. But I didn't care, too.
But he did. "No!" he was breathing hard as he let me go. "No, I won't be tricked into kissing you in public! Come on, race you to the bus stop!" And he was off. Taunting me, just trotting in front of me. As I got faster, he got faster. Oh I wished I was good at running. Then he saw the bus coming.
"Sprint, if we're going to catch this one!" And he was off as he yelled it to me. And there I was, toiling in his wake. Legs and arms going like pistons and making no apparent forward progress. Heck it was only fifty yards at the most, but a London Transport double decker can go faster than I can run anyday! I thought my lungs would burst. I nearly didn't make it.
"Have to give up smoking, son," the bus driver said as I handed him my fare.
"(gasp) Don't, (gasp) smoke," I answered him.
"Might just as well," he laughed as he handed my the ticket and let me on.
"(gasp)," I replied, chest heaving.
"Top deck?" Asked Nigel as the bus moved away. "Oh yeah, I know, no breath. Come on." And he headed for the stairwell in the middle of the bus, and vanished upwards.
I've always liked being on the top deck, especially on the front seats. Ever since I was a little kid. I always pretended I was the driver. Mind you I recognised the two people on the left hand seat. They were a year above us in school. And I didn't like either of them. "Let's (gasp) sit at the (gasp) back," I gasped at Nigel.
"Sure," and he turned and we sat on the back row. "But what's wrong with the front?"
I waited until I could get more than five words out between gasps. "I don't like those two at the front, that's all."
"What's up with them?"
"Nothing really. I just, oh I dunno. I've never liked them, that's all. And I don't want to be close to them." But then I thought, 'no, he's my boyfriend, and I love him, so I'll tell him.' "Well, that isn't all. They used to tease me when I was a new-boy. Horribly. Well I thought so. And I avoid them whenever I can now. In case."
"Just teasing? Or worse?"
"Bullying. They used to make me give them my lunch money. And I was too fucking scared of them to stand up to them."
"Oh poor Chris. Jeez, I wish I'd known. I'd have helped you."
"Yeah, and been beaten to a pulp for your trouble. And I wouldn't have known why! Why you helped me, I mean. No, I just avoid them. They're trouble."
"I thought you said 'used to'?"
"Well, I reckon it would start again if I didn't keep out of their way. They look evil when they look at me. And they scare me."
"Yeah. I don't even like being in the same bus as them."
"We'll go downstairs, then. Our stop's next anyway. Come on." And he chivvied me towards the stairs and dinged the bell to request the next stop.
As we waited at the exit doors for the bus to stop, I felt a breath on my neck. And a voice said, "Well, well, well. Two pretty little boys going out together. Do your mummies know you're playing together today?"
And my heart stopped. My worst nightmare. Geoff Tranter. Unpleasant, fat, spotty, and the one who'd taken my lunch money all that first term. And his mate, Pete Brown. From the front upstairs seat. They were getting off at this stop as well.
"What do you mean?" I half turned. Bloody Geoff Tranter. I hated him. Loathed him. He made my skin crawl.
"What do I mean? Hee hee. What do I mean? Pete, what do I mean?" His voice wasn't even pleasant. Nothing about Tranter was pleasant.
"What do you mean, Geoff? Looks pretty clear to me. One little pretty queerboy and another one, going out together. That'll be fun to tell the school, don't you think?"
They couldn't know. It wasn't possible. I had to stay calm. But I was getting really hot and bothered. Half because they were right, dammit, and half because this great lumbering piece of horse shit had scared me since the first day he got cash from me.
Nigel had turned to them. Smiling sweetly. "I don't think I'd do that if I were you," he smiled at Brown. No, I don't think I would do that."
"Whatcher mean? I can pulverise you, you little creep. Any time I want to."
"Maybe. Maybe not." How did Nigel always stay so calm when things were going pear shaped? "But I wouldn't advise it. Nor picking on my friends. I wouldn't advise that either."
"Why's that then, ya little cocksucker?"
"Yeah," added Tranter, not to be outdone, "cocksucker!"
At last the bus doors opened, and we were free. Nigel didn't answer them, and we just left, Nigel walking confidently, and me following a pace behind him, praying that the two louts wouldn't follow.
"They can't know?"
"Relax, Chris. They don't know anything."
"How come you were able to stand up to them?" I was in awe of my lover. He was amazing. Amazing IN capital letters.
"Yeah, well, it's coz they were taking it out on you, Chris. And I couldn't stand to watch you get hurt, and it felt right to do something, and I'd just told you I'd have helped you. So I did. No big deal."
"But, nothing. We'll cope with them if we have to, when we have to. Right now I want some lunch. Come on. To the chippy!"
Mmm. The smell of hot fish and chips, with salt and vinegar, eaten fresh out of newspaper, walking down the high street. That and the two cans of shandy we could pretend were beer. Heavenly. And made better by being with the boy I loved, the boy who loved me. The one who was even brave enough to protect me. I'd never stood up to a bully before I met Nigel. Well, I hadn't done so now, either, but it felt as though I had. Nigel was right about the chippy being greasier than KFG, but I didn't care! I just didn't care. It was like a fairy story. We'd live happily ever after!
I have no idea what we saw in the cinema. It was one of those with about 10 smaller cinemas in it. Pretty dark, and we got in just after the lights went down. Well, neither of us wanted to sit through the adverts! But we did get a back row seat. And the place was pretty empty and dark. And I took the chance to stroke Nigel's knee with my hand, which felt really good. And he held my hand as I stroked him. It's odd that I don't remember the film, because I know we watched it But I can't even recall if it was a cartoon or an action adventure.
But I do remember clearly the feeling of closeness, and of solitude, there in the back row of an almost empty cinema. There, with my boyfriend. Sharing a touch. No words, just touching in the gloom of the place. No words needed. Nothing sexual. Heck I wondered if I dared? But no. Not right. That was just sex, and it was love I wanted, needed, had from him. But I did rest my head on his shoulder, there, in the privacy of the cinema's darkness. And I did whisper things into his ear. Silly things. All meaningless.
We were still sitting like that when the final titles rolled up the screen, when the house lights rose. "Told you they were queerboys!" said a triumphant voice. "They'll not hear the end of this in school."
And walking up the aisle Tranter and Brown.
Blood can turn to ice.
"Not hear the last of what?" Nigel was speaking quietly
"Sitting in the back row, snogging and cuddling, that's what!" Tranter licked his lips almost hungrily.
"So that's what we've been doing. Snogging. Ah. I did wonder. But that involves kissing and stuff doesn't it?"
"Yeah, and groping." He was still licking his lips.
"So, Chris," Nigel turned to me, "have we been kissing and groping?"
"Nope." I was wondering where he was going with this. But I was going to play along for all it was worth.
"Did you see us kissing and groping, Tranter?" Nigel looked him square in the eye.
"Well, nah, but you were. You're queerboys, you are. Both of yer."
"If you say so, Tranter. If you say so. And I suppose you will say so, won't you. To anyone who you think will listen?"
"Yeah, Be round the school before term starts!" There was something in the way he was looking at us that I didn't like. Or understand. "Of course," he added, "We could always find a way to stop me, now, couldn't we?"
"Hmm. And you had what in mind, exactly?" Nigel was playing with fire. I was sure that he was. "No, don't tell me," he added. "Chris, co-operate with me completely. Trust me."
"So, Tranter, you're going to spread a tale round the school about us for something we haven't done, unless we do something to stop you?"
"You done it. You're both queer! I know you are!"
"Right," Nigel said. And he turned to me as we were both standing there, grabbed my head, and kissed me, full on the mouth, in public, in the cinema, with other people all around, and Tranter and Brown leering at us.
I struggled to pull away. I mean it was Nigel all right, but not Nigel. If you know what I mean. "No, that's horrible!" and I pulled away.
"See!" said Tranter in triumph.
"I see nothing," said Nigel. "Chris didn't seem to enjoy it, I didn't enjoy it. I reckon we'd have enjoyed it if we were gay, don't you?"
Yeah, but you kissed him, yer little poof."
"Yeah, I kissed him. And you made me do it."
"Who's to know that, Tranter?"
"Whatcher mean?" Tranter was looking confused.
"But Tranter, you told us to."
"You did. You said 'If you don't kiss him in public I'll tell the whole school you were snogging in the back row of the cinema' you said. 'And I'll do other things to you, too,' you said. So I got frightened, and kissed him. And I'll tell anyone what you said if you so much as breathe a word of your nasty little lies to anyone."
"I never said any of that!"
"We weren't snogging, either. Nor any of the rest of it."
"I can still wreck your life, Cropper."
"I doubt it. Bullying for lunch money, forcing me to kiss Chris in the cinema. Who knows what else."
"The school won't believe you."
"No. I wonder if the police will, though. 'Officer he said he'd hit me if I didn't suck his cock.' That might be an interesting story."
"You wouldn't?" Tranter was looking worried.
"Try me. Oh yeah, and don't get any ideas about trying to make me. I'll bite it in half. Be all the evidence I need."
"Come on, Geoff. Leave them alone." Brown was pulling his creepy friend away. "I don't like this. I mean it aint fun anymore."
"One rumour, Tranter. Just one. I won't even care if it comes from you, I'm going to assume that you started it. And then you'll find out what it feels like to be bullied, big and evil as you are. Just one sniff of a rumour, and I'll get you. And if either of us get beaten up by anyone at all, that's down to you as well. Oh yeah, and Brown?"
"What?" He was still trying to pull his mate away
"What goes for him goes for you, too. Right?"
"Piss off, cocksucker!" But he looked worried as he said it. "Geoff, let's go!"
"I'll get yer," was Tranter's closing venom.
"Don't even try." Nigel was standing tall and proud. Watching them go. Waiting until they had completely gone
"I, but, oh, you, er, how?" That was me. Struggling to find any words at all.
"Shit. I'm glad that's over." Nigel looked drained, suddenly. "Oh wow! It felt good, though."
"I nearly fainted when you kissed me. I couldn't believe that you were going to do it in public! What would you have done if I hadn't pulled away?"
"It didn't matter. What mattered was calling their bluff. Making them feel the victims."
"What if it hadn't worked?"
"How could it not have worked. If their bullying was based on a lie, so could our reaction to it"
"But, oh wow! You're wonderful. I love you. I feel such a dork and then you make it all right. Oh Nigel I want to be yours for ever."
"I don't think I could be brave for anyone else. I'm a bit feeble, really, you know. It's just that you bring out something really strong in me. I suppose it's all part of love."
"Will you do what you threatened if they spread any tales?"
"Depends what they do. But I don't think they'll say or do anything. Heck, would you? I mean look at it. You think I'm good looking, right?"
"Well, you are. You look fabulous and sexy."
"OK, so it stands to reason that anyone would believe the cute kid instead of the great fat bully? Especially about being made to suck his cock?"
"Er, I never thought of it. Yeah, I suppose so."
"So their goose is cooked. I'm cute, he's ugly. 'Please, Sir, he made me suck his cock! It was horrible, Sir, and he made me swallow, Sir!' Anyone would believe me."
"Would you really bite it in half if he really made you?"
"I'd certainly try very hard to, yes. I dunno if you can bite it in half though. Oh yuck, and all that blood! But it would be real evidence, going to the nick with bitten off tool in a plaggy bag! Yeeehaaaaaa!"
"Come on, Let's go to my place and get Mum to get us some tea!"
It was a relief to get out of the cinema into the bright afternoon sun, but it did make me blink a lot. Somehow it all seemed clean again. This time we didn't run for the bus, but caught the 268 which stops at the end of our road, and walked happily up the street to my house. Only no-one was in when I opened the front door. No car in the garage, and the answering thingy was switched on.
"I love you."
"Come and give me a real kiss, then."
I sank into his arms. Melted into them. Kissed his soft lips a thousand butterfly kisses and then tried to plunge my tongue down his throat. I wanted him so badly I didn't care that we were in the front room. But he did! "Upstairs!" he mumbled loudly through my lips. Well I knew what he meant, but that wasn't what it sounded like exactly. It was more like 'mmmphhhhh'. And I led him upstairs.
"Nigel, I need you. Now!" And I grabbed him fiercely and crushed him to me, kissing his lips holding him tight, pulling him towards me, feeling the hardness in my crotch press into his, hearing him moan and I kissed him hard, and licked his face and chin and neck, hearing him pant as I nibbled his earlobe. I needed him so badly, yet I didn't let him touch me. I didn't want to spoil the moment. I reached to the waistband of his jeans and undid the belt, then the button, then the zip, and dropped to the floor wrenching them downwards, grabbed his briefs and unhooked his straining cock from them, and grabbed it with my mouth and started to fuck my face with his beautiful cock. It tasted so good, and the foreskin slid, no glided up and down the shaft as I worked furiously, feverishly as him, now sucking, now licking, now tickling that arrowhead of skin underneath with my tongue. I had both hands on his buttocks, pulling and pushing, and I could feel him beginning to get close to the edge when I took hold of his balls, just before they vanished upwards and massaged them with my right hand. I heard his gasp as I squeezed one gently, and felt him tense up at the same time. I guessed he liked it. I knew I liked squeezing my own, just to the point of pain, when I wanked, so I guessed the pressure to use, and used it on his, and moved the other hand round forcing it between his cheeks to massage his hole, and he gasped again as my finger made contact. And then he came, he let out a roar, and came hard into my mouth as I forced my fingers into him and squeezed his balls, and he roared and came again and again into my mouth. And I didn't stop until he squealed and forced me off him.
My ears started working. "Oh wow! Mega," he said. "I love you so much. How did you learn how to do that?"
And I also heard "Chris, is that you? I'm home!" from downstairs.
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