As he walked up the street to Max's house, Alan kept thinking, 'I could turn back. I could turn back. I don't have to do this. I could turn back.'
Which was not at all true. He had to do this. He had promised Max after all.
"But why?" he had asked Max the week before.
"Because I'm spending a lot of time hanging out at your house and my parents haven't even met you. They want to know who you are."
Alan met parents all the time, given the number of boys he was friends with, but Max was actually the first boy he'd been sexual with in a long time. What was he going to say to the boy's parents? "Hello Mr. and Mrs. Carter, I'm the man currently molesting your young son"?
He sighed as he wandered up the snow-covered footwalk to Max's house. Snow! And it was still two days to Halloween. Fucking Michigan.
Max's dad turned out to be a tall man, a former football player, to judge by the trophies and pictures in the foyer of the house. His handshake nearly crushed Alan's hand.
"Mom's in the kitchen, finishing up dinner," said Max.
"Why don't you go help her?" asked Mr. Carter with a barely detectable edge in his voice.
The boy's sharp, almost angry, answer was cut off by his mother yelling from within the kitchen, "Max, baby, I need you to get the good towels out of the cabinet upstairs."
Mr. Carter led Alan to the living room, where a basketball game was on TV.
"So," said the big man, "I understand you've become good friends with our little Maxine."
How was he supposed to respond to a statement like that, Alan wondered, as he took his seat. He was trying to make a good impression on his boyfriend's father, but the man was insulting the kid.
"Max and I get along quite well, yes, Mr. Carter."
"Call me Gary, please."
"Thank you. Gary. Yes, Max is a bit of a wild boy at times, but once you get him to calm down, he's easy to like."
"Hmmn." The man lit up a cigar. "He says you're an art collector."
"Well, I make money as an art dealer. I sometimes keep a few pieces for myself if I like them enough."
"I never had time for art myself," said Mr. Carter. "I was always too busy training back in highschool. But, I think a man like you might be a better fit for Maxine."
"You know, Gary, it might be better if-"
Just then Max burst into the room saying, "Alright! Celtics up by nine. Excellent."
They watched the game in tense silence. Gary Carter said nothing else that sounded homophobic for the rest of the night. In fact, he hardly said anything at all.
Mrs. Carter was tense too, trying extra hard to sound light and pleasant throughout their dinner. She talked about Max's love of sports and his ambition to start learning karate. Sometimes Mr. Carter seemed ready to contradict her on some point, but Max would give him a look and the man would just chew more forcefully.
At the end of the visit, Alan said a smiling 'good-night' and then breathed a long sigh of exhaustion as he took to the sidewalk. If Gary Carter was the kind of father Max had, then it was no wonder the boy felt pressure to act hyper-masculine all the time.
"Hey, Alan, wait up." Max came bounding up from behind.
"Hey. Everything okay?"
"Yeah, I just wanted to say goodnight a little more privately." Max pulled them together for a kiss on the lips.
"The street is hardly private, Max."
Max laughed then said, "Hey, I think they liked you."
"What about your dad? He seemed to-"
"Max, you sure? I can't say I approve of-"
"He's a good dad. He helps me with homework, he doesn't get on my case over little things and he tells me he loves me all the time." Max shrugged. "He just has a hard time accepting me for who I am is all."
"If you say so." Alan stroked the boy's hair. "Just remember, you're already the perfect boy for me."
Max beamed and then ran back to the house.
For Christmas, Alan visited his parents in Alabama.
"You look a lot happier this year, son," his mother said. "Business going well?"
"Um, yeah Mom, business is very good."
New Year's Eve found Alan at a party of mostly-obnoxious art people in Chicago.
"You've been in hiding these last few months, Alan," Mike Thompson said to him. Mike was one of the few non-obnoxious people there--a friend, in fact.
"You miss me, Mikey?"
"Not really. I am curious as to what cute boytoy is hoarding your affections for himself though."
Alan put his arm around Mike and sidestepped the question. "Tell me something, you talentless sellout, are you still doing those awful commercial pieces of ogres and warriors?"
"Of course. I couldn't handle being a starving artist again."
"Excellent, because I've been wondering..."
When Alan got back after his holiday trip, he was so happy to see Max that he said, "Why don't you sleep over tonight?"
Immediately, he was shocked by his own boldness, but the Carters agreed quite happily and Alan and Max had a quiet night of holding each other in bed.
Interrupted by a couple of blowjobs, of course.
February brought Max's twelfth birthday. Alan made sure to buy the newest NFL Xbox game for the boy, naturally.
However, he also gave the boy a painting Alan had comissioned from Mike Thompson: it showed Aragorn and Arwen meeting by moonlight near a waterfall in Rivendell. Strangely, Gary Carter seemed to approve when it was unwrapped.
Max loved the painting, although he could not resist whispering to Alan, "You couldn'ta made it Aragorn and Legolas?"
"Aragorn and Legolas getting it on is best left to bad internet fan fiction," Alan replied with scorn.
Alan's birthday was in April. The Saturday before that, Alan and Max lay in bed, kissing, the amber afternoon sun lighting up the boy's face. The taste of Alan's semen still hung strong to the insides of Max's mouth. Alan was naked and sweaty. Max was wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans as he nestled against the man's side. The boy's erect penis rubbed against Alan's thigh through the denim.
"I know what I'm getting you for your birthday," said the boy.
"That's nice," said Alan, trying to get back to kissing.
Max pulled back. "Don't you want to know what it is?"
"Isn't it supposed to be a surprise?"
"Don't you want to guess, then?"
"Not really. I like surprises."
The boy seemed agitated. "You're no fun at all. It's like you don't even care."
"I care about it a lot. It's just that the way-" Alan stopped and looked into the boy's dark eyes. "Okay, Max, what's my birthday present going to be?"
"Are you serious? I mean, you think you can handle that?"
"Hell, yeah. I've already got permission to sleep over and I've been practicing with a dildo and everything." Then the boy gave a small smile. "I've got some special items too."
"Wow," said Alan, "You sound like you put a lot of thought into this."
"Yeah. I know exactly how I want it to go. You have to promise me you'll play along, though." "Sure, as long as there's no property damage." Then Alan yanked the boy back to him and kissed him deep, getting a good long taste of his wet lips.
To be continued. Coming in part 4: Max's virginity.
Comments welcome. Even if you're reading this in an archive years from now, I'd love to hear what you think.