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 The Magic Cap.

By John T. S. Teller.

Part six.

 

My dearest, dearest Michael.

I love you with every breath I take. I'm in my bed writing this, and I've just made love to you twice. I hope you did the same when you went to bed last night, and I hope you did it thinking of the way we did it, because that's the way I want you. It was the most beautiful thing I've ever experienced, feeling you inside me.

Now I've met you, and now we're special friends, I can stop hiding away from what I am. I used to do that, hide myself because I was a homosexual. But I don't now, well, not with you I don't. Every time I see you at school, I want to run to you, and hug you and be in your arms, kissing you. I really, really, do love you, and I hope you feel the same as I do. The only thing I'm worried about now is that I've told you that I'm a homosexual. I'm not sure you understood that when we did it in bed. That was my first time ever, doing that, but I've wanted to do it. Even if you're not like me, and you're normal, and you think that what we've done is just a part of growing up, I don't want you to hate me for being a homosexual. I can't help it. 

I've played our song lots of times tonight. It makes me cry.

I wanted to try and see you next weekend, but my parents have arranged a party for some special guests, and they've insisted I'm there. They're coming Saturday, and staying over. I'd rather be eating pig's trotters with you and Alex.

Tell Alex I think he's special. I think I love him, but not in the same way I love you. You know what I mean. I wish he was my older brother.

I also wish I'd met your Dada. I'm so sorry you've lost him. I know how much he meant to you. There are a lot of things I want to say about that, but I won't. I know it's hard enough for you without me going on. But, if ever you're really feeling down, remember that I'm always here for you. If I have to lie my way to get to you, I will, and I don't care if I get into trouble. Your hurt is my hurt.

I can't see you tomorrow, but I'll be waiting on the church wall for you on Tuesday. I'll tell my parents that I've got extra rugby practice after school.

Goodnight my love, and sleep tight my love. May tomorrow be sunny and bright, and bring you closer to me. (Not my words. They're from our song, but I mean them.)

All my love,

Stuart. XXX

Ps. I've got a two man tent. Do you think we could arrange to go camping when the weather gets warmer? I think I can swing it this end. We could join a cycling club and do it that way. Father has said I should join a cycling club. He used to do a lot of cycling and he thinks it's good for the character.

Pps. French kissing is lovely. It's the first time I've ever had one. I want to suck your tongue again, as well as... hah hah. I love you.

I'm in bed, reading Stuart's letter, and it's about the 20th time I've read it today. He dropped his cap in front of me before we went into school in the morning. It had been easy taking out the tightly folded piece of paper, before handing his cap back to him. When I had, our eyes had met, and we exchanged loving glances. Then he was gone, and I only saw him twice after that, and then he was with his pals, and we couldn't communicate.

The letter has moved me deeply. It had been brave for Stuart to admit, so soon, that he is a homosexual. I haven't really admitted it to myself yet. But I'm almost sure I am. When Stuart turned over, and I saw his perfect, rounded, inviting bum, the only thing I could think of was being inside him. And when my cock went into him, it was so sexy knowing that we were coupled, like a man and a woman do. Stuart acts the girl part; but I want him to be my boy, and not my girl. The reason I love him is because he's a boy. That's the homosexual in me. I think Mr Bourne was right about me. In fact, now, I'm almost certain that, like Stuart, I am a homosexual, and I need to tell him as soon as possible so that he doesn't feel bad.

It had been hard, going to school. It was even harder when a number of my friends offered their condolences. My best friend, Arthur Brookfield, just squeezed my shoulder once, and said nothing. Mr Bourne did exactly the same, but I could see that he was pleased I was back at school.

I'm really tired. I put Stuart's letter under my pillow, pull the blankets tightly over me, and relax. Stuart is in my arms. His glorious eyes are staring into mine. Slowly, our lips come together and...

----------

Stuart is waiting on the church wall. When he sees me coming, he gets off it, and grins, and squeezes my arm. "Are you ok?"

I touch his gloved hand; a small sign of my deep affection for him. "I am now. Thank you for the letter. It was beautiful."

Stuart looks up at me, and I can see he's pleased with my compliment. "Thank you. It took me ages to write it. Were you alright with all of it?"

I know what he means. He's referring to the homosexual part. I nod. "All of it. I'm the same as you, but it's taken you to make me realise it. I love you the same way."

The relief in Stuart is obvious. He wraps his arms around mine, and hugs it tightly, with his head pressing on my shoulder, and we walk like that for a short way before he releases me and walks alongside me, holding my fingertips. He looks up at me. "What do you think about the camping idea?"

"I thought it was good. But I'm not so sure about the cycling club. I have to work Saturday mornings, and I may have to start working Saturday afternoons now, so we would have to pick one that went on Sundays, and then it would depend on how much it cost to join."

"I've got plenty of savings. I could pay for us both."

Stuart's words cut deep. "I'm sure you could, but you're not."

We walk in silence for a while, and Stuart's head is down. Then he looks up at me, and I can see that he's upset. "I'm sorry, Michael. That was crass of me. I won't do it again."

Because British Summer Time had been invoked on Sunday, and the clocks had gone forward one hour, unlike the last time we'd met to walk down the hill, its light now. I stop. Stuart stops. I look at him, and see the sadness in his face. "I'm sorry. It was good of you to offer. I'm a bit touchy that way. It wouldn't be right taking from you, and I won't. Are you ok with that?"

Stuart's face mellows. He nods. "Can't I give you anything?"

"Only yourself... and a birthday and Christmas present."

"Is Alex at home?"

"No. He's on the noon shift, and won't be home until ten. Why?"

Stuart grins. "Then I can give you something."

I laugh. "You're already late now!"

Stuart shrugs his shoulders. "An extra half-hour won't make any difference. I can always say we practiced late."

We're still giggling when I turn the key in the latch, and open the door. Judy comes rushing to us, and we both give her a fuss. I open the back door, and she rushes off down the back garden. Stuart and I throw our schoolbags on the table, and dash upstairs to the bedroom.

The first kiss, as we lie on my bed, naked, is an explosion of desperation, and our lips and tongues fight a battle to give the other the love we both need, and then, as our love becomes gentler, I push Stuart onto his back and lie on top of him, and he opens his legs wide so I can lie between them, and I feel his swollen cock pressing against my lower belly. He strokes my hair, and fondles my face. I kiss his lips again, and then his nose, and then each eye, rubbing my lips softly across the long eyelashes. I kiss his forehead, and then move down so I can get at his long, slender neck. He moves his head to one side to give me access, and I suck gently at it; not hard enough to leave a mark, but just enough to suck his soft skin into my mouth. He rolls his head over so I can get to the other side, and I do the same there. I kiss his shoulders, moving my lips along the length of his collar bones, and then I go lower. His gorgeous nipples are erect and inviting, and I take his left one first, slowly sucking it in and out of my mouth. Stuart moans, and I nibble and lick it. His hands press me onto him, and then he pushes me to the other nipple, and I spend some time on that one, too, and all the while, he is moaning and pushing his lower body up at me to tell me how it's affecting him, and I know I have discovered one of his most erogenous zones, and the thought that my boy is feeling such deep pleasures, also gives me pleasure.

Then he pushes me lower, and I wipe my lips and nose across his firm, slim stomach. His hips thrust up at me in regular movements, and then he pushes me down to his gorgeous, stiff, throbbing cock. I muzzle my nose in his small tuft of soft, pubic hair, and at the same time, I rub his cock with my lips and chin. His hands leave me now, and I watch him push them up behind his head, in a sign that he has completely surrendered to me.

I leave his pubic hairs, and concentrate on his cock, holding the base of it between my fingers, and rub my nose on it, and smell the sexual arousal of his pre-cum as I rub it up my nostrils. He's so aroused, that his knob is protruding from the foreskin, and it takes only the slightest movement of my lips on it for it to slowly roll back, revealing the purple, swollen head. I lick at the urethra, pushing my tongue as deep as it will go, and then I run my tongue around the underside, on the sensitive glans around the stretched fraenulum. Stuart's moans have turned to whimpers now, and his hips are beginning to shake, and I know he is beginning to climax. I want to make this beautiful for Stuart, so I raise myself, and engulf his cock into my mouth, and begin long, sucking movements along its whole length. His body begins to shudder when I grasp his balls and perineum in my hand, and then slip my middle finger into his crack, and massage his anus. My reward is spasms of his lower body, accompanied by spurts of spunk hitting the back of my throat as he ejaculates into my mouth as he squeals and moans in ecstasy. And I delight in the wonder of giving my boy such beautiful feelings.

When I go back up to him, his eyes are glazed and misty with tears, and he grabs my head with both hands and crushes me to him. And now I'm crying the love I have for my beautiful boy, and the kiss is filled with wild, unadulterated emotions, both sexual and spiritual, because this is what we are: lovers.

It's a while before we are relieved of our passions enough to kiss gently, and smile at each other, and I ask him, "Was that nice?"

Stuart nods. "Mmmmm. It was fantastic. I've been thinking about it all day, but I didn't think it would be that nice.

I grin at him. "No wonder your school work is slipping, you naughty boy!"

Stuart giggles. "It's not slipping. So I can concentrate, I just keep putting as many sexy words into my composition as often as I can. Joules said my composition is getting better. It's a good job he doesn't know what I'm thinking."

"And what are you thinking, my sexy little diving expert?"

Stuart's tongue comes out, and he bites it between his lips. Then he pushes me off him, rolls onto his front, opens his legs, and points to his bum. "This, mostly." And then he giggles some more.   

I get off the bed and go to the chest of drawers and take out the Vaseline. When I turn back to the bed, Stuart is holding his bum cheeks wide. I smack his buttocks, and then apply loads of Vaseline to his puckered anus, and then push a finger gently in and out of him. He moans with pleasure. I push two fingers in, and watch his hole widen as my fingers disappear entirely. And then three fingers. He squirms as I manipulate them around inside him, and then he settles his head to one side and waits for me to get on top of him. I lower myself onto him, and when I push my lubricated cock at his hole, it slips in quite easily. I know the routine now, and I push in very slowly, until he gives out a low moan. Stuart releases his buttocks, and puts both hands underneath him. My own hands are flat on the bed, above him, supporting me, as I do the movements. I know he's enjoying it when he pushes his hips from the bed to match my rhythm, and when I look down at my cock moving in and out of his beautiful, soft, pliable buttocks, I see that almost all of me is gone. I find that sexually exciting, knowing that my cock is buried deep inside his tunnel, well past the part he likes my knob to rub, and Stuart continues to push back until my pubic hairs are touching his buttocks, and that sight brings me to my climax. I feel it beginning in my balls; and even deeper inside me; and the spunk begins to come, bursting its way up my urethra, and although I can't see it, I can imagine it spurting deep inside him. While I'm fucking him, Stuart is wanking himself, and when he realises I'm cumming, he doubles his efforts, and I hear his squeals of delight as he pumps the residue of his own spunk into his hand. I wait a while, and then withdraw slowly until the last of my cock plops out of his ring, and lie on my back, and stare into Stuart's face.

He smiles. "Was that nice?"

I stroke his cheek. "It was wonderful. Did I hurt you?"

Stuart grins, and then withdraws his hand from underneath him. "You made me do this."

I look at the hand that is covered with his boyish spunk, and then I look directly into his blue eyes. "Can I have that?"

He smiles, and offers his hand to me. I take it, and bring it to my face, and lick it. Our eyes never part as I'm doing it, and Stuart manipulates his hand and fingers to give me everything he's produced. When there's none left, I kiss his hand. The boy I love more than anything in the world is inside me, and nobody can take him away from me now.

Stuart strokes my cheek. "I need to make the house rugby team, so I'm going to be practicing late all week."

I grin. "Not too late though. We'd better get you on that bus."

Stuart grins. "Not before I have another French kiss, please".

**********

Saturday. The special dinner that Mother has arranged; the one that has stopped me from lying my way to spend another day with Michael is, indeed, special. Our guests are no lesser beings than the Lord-Lieutenant of the County, and his wife and their two children, Mark, who is twenty-two, and Eileen, who is seventeen. Not only are they coming to dinner, they're also staying overnight. Normally, because we have five bedrooms, it wouldn't be a problem to have so many people staying, but, unfortunately, one of the bedrooms is being fully renovated. So, alternative arrangements have been made.

I heard them on the phone – Mother and Mrs Lord-Lieutenant. `It won't be a problem, Lady Reeves-Jenkins. Stuart has a three-quarter bed, and they are boys together. They'll manage. If it's alright with you, that is?'

I'm angry. I've met them before. Mark has just graduated from university, and he thinks the sun shines out of his arse. His parents do, too. Me? I think he's just an arsehole. Eileen is OK. She seems to have her feet on the ground, and we get on well. Maybe it would be better if she was sleeping with me.

Because I've been ordered to keep out the way until the guests arrive, I have the afternoon to myself. It suits me fine. I clean my model racing car collection, and play some music on my record player, and read, for about the 100th time, the letter Michael slipped to me before I left him on Friday evening.  Apart from Thursday, we'd managed to have sex every day after school. It's been great, and I'm even learning how to get Michael deeper into my bum. On Friday, I managed to get him in so far that his pubic hairs were against my bum. I reckon another week, and I'll be able to take all of him without too much pain. But, Alex is on the night shift next week, and on the day shift the following week, so we won't be able to fuck again for another two weeks.

My dearest Stuart.

I treasure our friendship more than anything in the world, and I love you so much that I can't imagine what life was like before I met you. It's not just what we do - my love goes far deeper than that. When I wake in the morning, I see your face. When I go to school, I need to see you before I can get on with my day. Just a glimpse of you suffices. During the day, I often walk past your classroom and see you sitting in your desk, chewing your pencil and thinking. You seem far away when you're doing it, and I like to think you're thinking about us, like I do, for most of the day. This week has been so special. I'm glad it has, because it will have to last us another two weeks until Alex is on the noon shift again.

There's something I haven't told you. Mr Bourne told me on Wednesday that I've been selected to run for the County in the All-England Schools Cross-Country Race, next Saturday, April 7th, your birthday, at Chichester. Mr Bourne is taking me on Friday, and we're staying in a bed and breakfast so that I'm fresh for the race on Saturday. I haven't told you before, because I knew the news would cheer you up while we're apart. I'll do my best to win it as a birthday present for you. But I'm up against some super runners, so I may not be able to do it. But I will do my best.

I'll see you on Monday, and I will try and get another letter to you before I go to Chichester. It's going to be difficult for me to see you after school because Mr Bourne says I need to train every night, but if you can wait for me by the church on Thursday, I'll make an excuse that I have to be home, and meet you there, and do my training later in the evening.

Have a good weekend, my precious friend – my sweet love. I will be thinking of you eating your pig's trotters with the Lord-Lieutenant.

All my love, and a special French kiss. (I love them, too.)

Michael. XXX

I want to dance and sing for joy at Michael's selection to race for The County, and his reference to the pig's trotters and the French kiss makes me grin every time I read it. Although his is not as rough as Alex's, Michael has his own unique sense of humour, and it's one of the reasons why I adore him. I check my watch: just turned five. I need to start getting ready. The guests are arriving at seven, and dinner is at eight. Mother had already arranged my wear – a tuxedo and all the trimmings. I hate formal.

----------

I hear the Bentley crunch its way up the long gravel drive, and then the doorbell ring, and then the pretentious greetings downstairs, like long-lost friends. They're no such thing. This is business – you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Father and the Lord-Lieutenant are both Freemasons, and both belong to the same Lodge. No doubt, Arsehole Mark will soon be initiated. It will be my turn one day.

I await my cue. It comes when I hear Mother call.

"Stuart, our guests are here. Would you like to come and join us?"

When I get downstairs, they're all in the lounge, and father has already sorted the aperitifs. I'm too young to drink, so no need to wait for me. Respectfully, I accept the handshakes from all our visitors, and give Eileen a genuine smile. She returns it, and we pair off and chat about things. I don't know what it is with her, but we seem to have a rapport, and talking is easy. I compliment her on her lovely dress, and she smiles, and thanks me. We chat about her education, and in a low voice, she tells me that she's worried about her exam results, which, this year, will be her passport to a university education. I listen attentively to what she's saying, and instead of the normal condescending bullshit that `everything will be ok', I tell her that I'm struggling in some subjects, too. Before we have a chance to expand on our conversation, mother calls that dinner is served.

For this occasion, my parents have hired the full works: a high-class chef and waitresses. `I hope you don't mind, Darling,' I heard mother tell Mrs Lord-Lieutenant over the phone, `but I do so want to spend time with you and  Sir Clarence and your children, rather than slaving in a kitchen. You know how it is.'

I'm not sure Mrs Lord-Lieutenant does know how it is. She didn't rise so high in the social scale by slaving in a kitchen.

I like the seating arrangements. Father and Lord-Lieutenant have the high chairs (at each end of the Georgian, rosewood table, that sports a five-branch silver candelabra, and settings for a five-course meal), and Mother to Father's right, and Mrs Lord-Lieutenant to her husband's right. I'm seated next to Mother, and directly opposite me is Arsehole Mark, and seated next to me is Eileen. The arrangements are as they should be: male-female all around the table, except for Arsehole Mark, who is between his Mother and my Father.

The meal goes well, of course, and when it's over, Chef and his staff are called, and congratulated. I can tell by their smiles that they're not really pleased. This is their job, and the smiles and gratuitous doffing of ladies' heads are par for the course. They won't make a fortune out of the evening – it's not the done thing to overly reward the `servants'.

We retire to the lounge. This is the part I hate with a passion. Arsehole Mark, who got progressively louder with each glass of wine he drank, now decides to show his manliness by making me the brunt of most of his stupid, condescending jokes about how much I have to learn before I become a man. I take it all, of course, which is another par for the course. But, we're on about the seventeenth green when I decide that enough is enough.

Arsehole (forgive me, readers, but I will abbreviate his name simply because this name, used in a coarse way, describes him perfectly. The paradox, of course, is that an arsehole is a thing of joy to us of `that persuasion') tells the world that he's about to set up two companies. He's already in the process of buying `big' into a company that grows mushrooms. (It takes every ounce of my willpower not to burst out laughing at that one.) The second one, which meets his father's approval, is in Father's line, civil-engineering. (Ah, now I understand the reason for the meal.) And then he asks me what I'm going to be when I `grow up'.

I want to tell him to fuck off and mind his own business, but then I decide to tease him with a subject that I'm slightly familiar with. "I think, after I've finished at University, I'm going apply to Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, and make a career in the army." I look at Father. "With Father's permission, of course." I look back at Arsehole. "Father was in the army, and so was Grandfather."

Lord-Lieutenant claps his hands. "Bravo, young chap. I was at Sandhurst. When the time comes, just give me a shout, and I'll pull a few strings for you."

I give Lord-Lieutenant one of my best, deferential smiles. "Yes Sir, I know you were, and thank you. You had a distinguished career, I believe?"

"I did indeed. I was with Wingate in Burma, you know."

I look at him, astounded. "I didn't know that, Sir. I have a close friend at school whose Father was with The Chindits. He won The Victoria Cross there."

Now, it's Lord-Lieutenant's turn to look astounded. "Not... Johnson?"

"Yes Sir. He died recently. His son, Michael, attends our school, and because Michael is a good friend of mine, I was chosen to be the school representative at his funeral. It was all rather sad, and upsetting. Actually, Michael wants to go to Sandhurst, but, because of his background, he feels he won't be accepted."

Lord-Lieutenant slaps his hand on the table, and sits back in his chair, looking pensively at me over his wine glass. "Yes, I knew Johnson had died. I arranged the Guard of Honour for the funeral, but, unfortunately, I was in Hong Kong on business when the funeral took place. I wanted to make it a proper do, but the family asked for no publicity. A shame really, very few people in the city know that Johnson was awarded the VC.

Now Father looks at me, and speaks. "Because of his background, Stuart?"

Now, I'm thinking on my feet, and the cogs are turning faster than the gearbox in a Maserati, and my lying mode is in top gear, too. "Yes, Father. They're a very poor family. After the funeral, I went with Mr Bourne to their home. They live in a hovel, which is a shame, because Michael is very intelligent, and he's also a superb sportsman. He won the County Schools Cross Country Championships recently, and he's been selected to represent The County in the All-England race next week at Chichester."

Now, I have everyone's attention. Even Arsehole has shut his big mouth.

Mother is the next one to speak. "A hovel? That's not a nice way to describe someone's home, Stuart."

I look at her in feigned repentance. "You're right, Mother. That was crass of me. Actually, they live in a terraced house that's never been modernised. It's like being back in Victorian times in their home. They have no hot water and no bathroom, and an outside lavatory. I suppose it's the cards that life dealt to them. Michael's father, although he was a brave soldier, lost a leg and a lung, and he only had seven fingers, so he wasn't able to work, and when he was discharged from the army because he was medically unfit, his wife had absconded with another man; and his two boys, Alex, the eldest, and Michael, had been placed in care. Now, Michael is desperately trying to pass his exams to go to university, and the only source of income is the wage of his brother, Alex."

Mother, genuinely, is distraught, and she holds her hands to her ample bosom. "That's awful. Life can be cruel at times. I'm intrigued, Stuart. Obviously, there's an age difference between you and Michael, so how did you get to be so... close?"

It's time for feigned repentance, and some lies. I drop my head, and then I look up at Mother and Father. "I'm sorry, but I told you a lie a while ago. When I got that detention? You probably remember; the one for fooling around in class, and you were both angry at me? Well, actually, I got it for fighting. I overheard one of the boys in the year above me calling Michael a scarecrow, because he doesn't have decent school clothes, and I hit him. I couldn't help myself. I thought it was cruel and unwarranted. Michael found out about it, and he came and thanked me. Then he told me not to do it again, because it didn't bother him, and he was used to it, and my getting into trouble would serve no useful purpose for either of us, and although nobody would say it again to my face, they would still say it behind my back... and his. Despite some silly comments from some of the boys (I look at Father and Lord-Lieutenant in a knowing sort of way), you know what I mean, since then, he and I have become friends."

I feel a hand on my arm, and I turn to Eileen. She's giving me a beautiful smile.

"Stuart, I think that was very gallant of you." And she gives me a peck on the cheek.

Father is staring at me with one of his serious stares. "But you did tell a lie. I'm not pleased with you for that." Then his face mellows. "However, on this occasion, I will let it pass, because I agree with Eileen. Shall we get to meet Michael?"

Lord-Lieutenant interrupts. "Indeed we will. How about we arrange a meal at my place, and invite Michael to join us?"

Still the cogs are whirring. I look at Lord-Lieutenant. "It would have to be informal. His dress is errr..."

Lord-Lieutenant winks at me. "Of course! Informal wear, and an afternoon buffet on the lawn. I'll invite a lot of people. Only the people in this room will know the real intentions of our extended tête-à-tête... to meet your friend, and the son of a real hero." He looks at Mother and Father. "That's with your Mother and Father's permission, of course?"

Mother smiles.

Father laughs. "I think it's an excellent idea. Nos mos veneratio a vir.

I give him a delicious smile. "Translate, Father, please."

Father wags a finger at me. "Your Latin needs to improve!  I said, `We will honour a hero'." Then he laughs. "But I forgot how to say `and his sons'."

Very quietly, Eileen says, "...quod suus sons? Does that mean his brother will be invited, too?"

Lord-Lieutenant looks pleased, and smiles at Eileen. "Yes. Both sons of a hero." Then he looks at me. "What does his brother do for a living?"

I grin. "He's a collier, and he looks like Rudolph Valentino with his black eyes. But he's a lovely man."

Lord-Lieutenant laughs, and points at Eileen. "Then I shall have to keep an eye on you, young lady!"

The whole room erupts in laughter, and Eileen blushes, and I award myself five gold stars for being a crafty sod. The meal has been a success for me, and the icing on the cake arrives when Arsehole's face turns to a pale white, and rushes to the bathroom to be sick, because he's overdone it with the wine, and I get to sleep on the sofa, because I don't want to sleep with the drunken sod.

**********

The mud. The terrible mud is taking its toll. There's just a small group of us now, all bunched together, all waiting for someone to make a move to break it up. This course is seven miles long, and, thankfully, the organisers have placed markers every half-mile to give us an idea how much pain we have left to go through. We've just passed the five-and-a-half-mile marker.

I try to negate the pain by thinking about Thursday night when I last saw Stuart. He had been waiting for me on the church wall, and when I went to him, he had gripped my hand tightly and told me he loved me. On the walk down the hill, he was mischievous in his talk, and told me he had something important to tell me, but he wouldn't tell me until after I got back from Chichester. While we were waiting for his bus, we leaned against the cinema wall and chatted. I was almost moved to tears when he said that if I didn't win the race, he would still be enormously proud of me. Then, when the bus came, Stuart looked into my eyes, and I could see the tears beginning to appear in his, and then he took my hand and placed something in it. I looked at what he had given me. It was his gold neckchain.

"Wear it during the race, Michael, and think of me. All my love is in that chain, and all my love will be with you throughout the race. Good luck on my birthday."

And with that, and with the small, gift-wrapped birthday present of a Corgi Talbot Lago racing car to add to his collection, and a birthday card from me and Alex and Judy clutched in his hand, he turned, and boarded the bus.

Mr Bourne had been wonderful. He had managed to get us two first-class train tickets to our destination, and the accommodation we had was lovely and homely. He was, truly, like a father to me, and this morning, as we were on our way to join the group at the rendezvous, he gave me a large bottle, full of glucose, to drink.

He smiled. "It won't do you any harm, and it might just do you good."

And then we had discussed tactics. If I was to have any chance of getting anywhere in the race, it was important that I make a good start. That part had gone well, and I found myself amongst the leading group of a race that had well over two hundred participants: five from each county in England. Team orders? There were none. Mr Drew, our county leader, had told us to, `Just go for it, and we'll tot up the points at the end.'

The arithmetic was simple. The team with the lowest number of points, depending on what position each member of that team finished, won the team race. The first to finish would get 1 point, and the last, 248 points. It was the aggregate that mattered.

I'm wondering how the others are feeling as the muscles in my legs begin to scream at me as we are halfway up a steep, muddy incline. There are just six in front of me now. And then there are two when one of the competitors slips on the treacherous mud, and brings down three runners nearest to him. I'm fortunate, and just manage to avoid their twisted torsos and flailing legs. The two leading runners are ten yards ahead of me, and I know that if I don't catch them before we reach the top of this hill, all will be lost, because once over the summit, they will have the advantage of level ground to leave me further behind.

I dig deeper, and watch the gold chain bouncing off my breast as far up as my nose. My sweet, beautiful lover is with me on his fourteenth birthday, and he spurs me on, and when we top the hill, and as we pass the half-mile marker, I'm alongside the leading runner. Psychologically, I'm winning. I know what they'll be thinking - how the fuck has he caught us up on that hill unless he has plenty left in the tank?

My love is still dancing in front of my face; Dada, with his seven fingers, and with a big grin on his face, is playing Danny Boy on the piano; Alex is cuddling Judy, and teasing her with pig's trotter's titbits, and Mr Bourne's warm hand is on my shoulder.

So, I make my move. The track is wide now, and each side, behind ropes, are hundreds of spectators. I can see the finishing tape. Maybe it's Mr Bourne's magic potion of glucose drink, or maybe it's the love I have in my heart that releases me from all pain, and I feel a new lease of life and energy that amazes me, and I begin to sprint. I glance behind me. Five yards clear. More love and more power into the magic legs. Another glance behind me. Ten yards now, and then I know I've won when the third time I look behind me, the others are stragglers. I breast the tape with a clenched fist, and a scream that would match Stuart's best sheepdog call, and I clutch the golden chain to my lips, and kiss it repeatedly. I love you Stuart Begbie, and I've given you the best birthday present I could ever give you.

Mr Bourne comes to me. Like me, there are tears in his eyes, and we hug an unspoken love. The adrenaline is still racing through my veins when I look around at the milling crowd, and it takes every ounce of my willpower not to shout, "There you go! A fucking homo is the Champion of All England!"

----------

Alex grins at me across the table, and then he puts his plate on the floor for Judy to lick clean. He hasn't stopped grinning since I got back home at lunchtime and Mr Bourne gave him the news that I'd won. Before I left to go to Chichester, I said I would ring Mrs Weaver - three doors down, who lives over the wool shop, and who has a telephone – and tell him, after the race, how I'd gone on. But he would have none of it. `Tell me when you get home. That will do me. Anyway, I'll be down the pub having a pint or two while you're messing about down there.'

Alex picks up the clean plate, and then takes mine and gives that to Judy. He looks down at her. "Good girl. That will save me washing up." He looks at me, and grins again.

"For God's sake, Alex, take that daft grin off your face!"

The grin widens. "Ok... Champ."

He gets up and goes into the parlour. I hear the sound of the piano lid opening, and the stool being shifted into position. A few tuning notes, and then he plays the piano, and the perfect notes he's playing are accompanied by his deep, non-too-perfect, bass voice, and Danny Boy, Dada's favourite song, bellows out. The melancholy tune echoes around our small home, and Judy sits between the living room and the parlour, and lifts her head, and howls along with him, and I dissolve into tears. I know Alex is crying, too. We all three are... for our lovely Dada.

Strangely, despite my tears, I'm not sad. Instead, there's elation in my heart that I've done Dada proud, and also my brother and Mr Bourne. But, the main reason for me not being sad is that I know that Stuart, my true-love, when he knows that beside the Corgi Talbot Lago racing car I gave him, the birthday gift of him being the boyfriend of the All-England Schools Cross Country Champion, will fill his heart with joy.

To be continued...

 Other stories on Nifty by John Teller/The Storyteller can be found here.