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The start of the day of the inspection saw all four of them sitting around waiting for Mrs Jones, the inspector. Paul and Ethan had been allowed to wear shorts in deference to a female visitor.
At 11 o clock sharp the door bell rang. Tom answered the door and ushered the unsmiling woman into the flat. She scarcely accepted Craig's hand before asking to be shown around. Craig also showed her the new flat they hoping to move into.
She studied various reports especially Ethan's school record which had shown a marked improvement over the last few weeks.
“Craig,” she finally said, “I am far from satisfied. I think we need to make new arrangements.”
“Why?” Craig gasped, “What's wrong?”
“First! it was highly irresponsible of you to bring a Grade 2 into such close contact with your brother. You're failing to keep him properly restrained and from how you've described the sleeping arrangements, you're more interested in your sexual pleasure than Ethan's well-being.”
As Craig tried to protest, Mrs Jones held up her hand for silence.
“Second. You appear to have lost control of your own life. You had to drop out of school, you then threw away employment with good prospects for a dead end caretaker's job while claiming to be trying to catch up enough to return to school. Consistency is most important for study and you seem to be directionless. There are grants you could have applied for if you were having financial problems. It was your responsibility to find out, not wait to be told.”
As Craig again tried to protest she snapped, “Will you be quiet? It's seems to me that you're letting yourself run riot. No wonder you can't control Ethan.”
“My final concern is that you're putting the public at risk by your handling of the Grade 2. I know you say he was recommended by the Placement Centre. They would. They make targets by contracting participants out to guardians. The Neighbourhood Patrol are just volunteers. They are not experienced CSC workers. It seems to me that you've handed over responsibility to inappropriate authorities.”
Craig was close to tears. He sat shocked at Mrs Jones attitude. The other three were equally stunned.
“The sooner this mess is sorted out the better. I'll arrange for the two graders to be returned to the Placement Centre. Then we'll get you and Ethan to more suitable accommodation. Please sign there that you agree.”
Craig very nearly did sign the proffered form. Only a loud cough from Tom broke the spell.
“I'm not going to sign anything until I know my rights.” he said firmly.
“Don't be foolish. Just sign and stop wasting time.”
“You said it was my responsibility to find out about grants so I assume it's my responsibility to find about my rights. I will not sign.”
“You are well on your way to a grading yourself, young man. This is your last chance.”
“A court gave me custody of Ethan and myself. So I wonder if a court has to end it.
“When this is over you'll be graded and I'll see to it that you get the whipping of your life. You've got yourself another day or so while I file this report with the court. Make the most of them.”
Mrs Jones flounced angrily out leaving Craig with his head in his hands crying. Paul and Ethan rushed over to comfort him but Tom hesitated for a moment.
“Sir, may I use the phone please?”
Craig managed a nod, too distraught to care what Tom was doing.
Tom disappeared into the kitchen and dialled the number of an old friend.
“Bannister and Povey,” the voice at the other end of the line said, “May I help you?”
“I used to be Tim Everington. Would Mr Baxter be willing to speak to me?”
“They've found you at last. Thank heavens. Mr Baxter is in court. Could you get to our office by three?”
“I don't think that's possible. Why were you looking for me?”
“Haven't you heard the news? I'm sorry but I think Mr Baxter should talk to you about it.”
“No I haven't heard anything. I wanted to speak to Mr Baxter about a matter that involves my Guardian. I was wondering if he could visit briefly.”
Tom gave the receptionist their address and she suggested a time that her boss could be there. Before confirming he approached Craig.
“Sir, would you mind if a lawyer visited us tonight at about three thirty this afternoon.” Tom asked, “I thought he might help.”
Craig stared at Tom.
“I can't afford a lawyer.” Craig said, “But thanks for the thought.”
“He's an old friend of mine. He always promised to help me if he could. It might be worth talking to him.”
“OK! Tell him to come.”
Tom spoke into the phone then hung up with a puzzled look on his face.
“He's bringing a Wilberforce lawyer as well. I don't know what's going on.”
The Wilberforce Foundation was an institution set up to fight the CSC system and to give Graders some human rights. So far it had been singularly unsuccessful in getting the law changed. An off shoot of the Foundation was the Wilberforce Estate. It was a weird establishment intended to help Graders who had been wrongfully graded. It obtained the contracts but allowed its wards to live as they pleased with the estate simply taking care of the administration.
The Estate had earned a grudging respect and even a few legal concessions but in return it was limited in what it could do.
None of this helped Tom work out what was happening and the four of them could only wait around until Mr Baxter arrived.
“Tim! How are you?” Mr Baxter greeted him when Tom answered the door to him. “You look well.”
“It's good to see you again, sir,” Tom replied, “My Guardian is expecting you.”
“Er, yes of course,” Mr Baxter said, “Lead the way.”
Tom introduced Craig to Mr Baxter. There was an awkward silence. Mr Baxter was confused by Craig's youth and embarrassed at treating his old friend like a servant. He was also conscious of the worried and gloomy atmosphere.
“I've got some good news for you Tim and you wanted to see me for something. I've got a colleague who wants to talk to you so while we're waiting for him why don't we discuss your problem?”
Craig tried but became hopelessly confused. Tom tried to sort out the detail and gradually Mr Baxter came to understand the problem.
“It sounds to me as if this Jones woman was falling outside her target band.”
Seeing the blank expression on everyone's face Mr Baxter added, “Nationally a certain percentage of these interviews result in people entering the CSC programs. It's assumed that interviewers will keep to within a band around this percentage. If Mrs Jones passes or fails too many people then she will be investigated and it may be suggested she be retrained. To avoid that she's going to try and fail some to get back in the band.”
“That doesn't sound fair.” Ethan said.
“It's not fair but it happens. Let's stick to your interview. We'll come up with a long term plan for your education or job training and take it from there and in return we'll concede her arguments about Paul and send him back. ”
“No!” replied Craig firmly, “She was wrong about Paul as well. I don't see why he should suffer. He's part of my plan to get back to school.”
“The CSC only has to show cause for worry. The judge will have to order appropriate help. They will argue that Mrs Jones' comments show that cause. You'll have to get rid of Paul or else you'll lose everything. Another problem is that you are going to lose Tim as well.”
“OK Graham,” Tom said, completely forgetting himself in his exasperation, “What's this all about me.”
“Mavis and Lewis were investigated for tax evasion.” Graham replied, “While the Inland Revenue examining the books they'd found how they'd framed you. They've been charged with perverting the course of justice. Your affairs have been handed over to the Wilberforce Estate and they've been trying to find you.”
Tom collapsed onto the nearest chair as all the colour drained from his face. As the others rushed to help he held up his hand.
“I'm OK.” he said, “What about the business and my home.”
“The business is ticking over. With all the uncertainties, it's lost a lot of ground. You may have to let staff go soon. The Wilberforce Estate hired a manager to run your home. You could move back in today.”
“My two wards?”
“They're still there. Mavis and Lewis treated them pretty badly but they're OK.”
Tom struggled to his feet and turned to Craig.
“Shall I make tea for you and your guest, sir? It would give me time to think.”
After Tom had disappeared into the kitchen Craig said, “I'm glad for Tom but it doesn't help me much, does it?”
“I do apologize.” Graham said, “I should have said. Mr Davis, he's the Wilberforce solicitor, can't get here before about six. He's got a long way to come. He's more experienced in this field of law than I am. I'd like to discuss some ideas I have with him first.”
Tom fetched their tea and disappeared back into kitchen. Ethan just stood shocked and confused by the days events. Paul was not much better off. The last few weeks had been wonderful for him. His world had opened up so much and had looked as though it could expand even more. Now his future looked bleak and he would end up with nothing.
Craig and Graham talked in a desultory fashion, just filling in time until Mr Davis arrived. he had been delayed and it was nearer seven when he finally rang the bell. He talked with Graham for a time then asked to speak to Tom on his own.
He disappeared into the kitchen for a time and when he returned he looked curiously at Craig.
“You seem to have made quite an impression on Mr. Everington, young man.” he said, not unkindly. “Would you object if he waited in the kitchen? His wife is likely to end up Grade 4 and he has a considerable amount of emotional adjustment to make.”
“That's OK!” Craig replied, “We'll leave him alone.”
“We do what we can for our clients but at the end of the day they are still graders. There's no appeal process and the best they can hope for is Grade 1. We've been campaigning to allow a regrade to five but it's going nowhere. The best Mr. Everington can hope for is a bill going through now that will allow a revue when he is seventy.”
Mr Davis paused before continuing, “If he came to us, we would try to treat him like an ungraded client but at the end of the day he would still have to ask for a pass if he wanted to go for a walk and he would need one of our agents with him to sign business cheques or confirm any sort of deal.
“Mr. Everington understands this and his alternative plan has a lot of merit. He would like to stay under your guardianship. That means you will inherit his estate. His one condition is we set up a trust to help you manage it until you are twenty five.”
“How would this affect the court case?” Craig asked.
“This is substantial information that you were unable to offer before.” Graham replied, “At the very least the review would have to be done again.”
“He should go back. It would help the CSC save face and they might concede other points.” Mr Baxter said.
“They could also present it as another gut reaction and lack of consistency. Mr Davis replied, “We need to show that Craig has good judgement and is a steady influence on his brother.”
They were silent for a time.
“So what do think of Mr. Everington's offer?” Mr Davis asked, “It would help if you walked into court worth four or five million.”
“Five million what?” Craig asked feeling very stupid as it sank in what the lawyer had meant.
It was nearer fifteen but some's gone for good and we may recover another three or four.”
“And Tom wants me to have it?” Craig asked incredulously.
“Like I said, he holds you in very high esteem and he's come to think of you all as family. Do you accept?”
Craig nodded, “Does that mean Tom – er - Mr Everington is my boss now?”
“Oh no! He will remain your ward. If this goes through he will have to sign away all his rights. The Trust will be your boss, or rather, your guardian.”
Craig had not eaten since breakfast. He had been too worried. Now that things seemed to be looking up his body started to react.
“I'm hungry,” Craig announced, “Paul, Ethan go and sort a meal out for us. Tom can lie down on my bed if he likes.”
Ethan and Paul returned almost immediately.
“Tom says he's not seventy yet and he's not letting us loose in his kitchen.” Paul said grinning, “Dinner will be in half an hour but it will just be frozen meals.”
“Tim always did like cooking,” Graham laughed, “but frozen meals? I didn't think even the CSC could persuade him to cook them.”
Finally the two lawyers took their leave. Craig was ready for bed. He wasn't tired but had got used to time with Paul. Sometimes Paul would just hold him, they might talk or Craig might fuck him.
That night Craig just lay back while Paul ran his tongue and fingers over every part of his body. Craig shuddered as the sensuous feelings relaxed him and stroked the tension out of his body.
Understanding Craig's needs, Paul directed his caresses more and more towards Craig's cock which inevitably began to swell. Paul straddled Craig and impaled himself on Craig's rigid pole. Craig bucked his hips thrusting firmly and confidently into Paul. As Craig took control Paul began stroking his own cock. As he became hard and rigid, Paul eased his stroking. He was far more confident as well with their relationship but he would never cum before his master. As Craig shot deep into Paul, Paul allowed his own cream to spray over Craig's chest and stomach.
Craig pulled Paul down onto him and they fell asleep in each others arms.
The following day was something of an anti climax. They all tried following their usual routine but nobody's heart was in it. Craig phoned the school and explained the situation. He also went into work with Paul and Tom as usual and had a long talk with Mr. Crosis. Mr Crosis sent Paul and Craig home with instructions to work on the new flat if they felt like it. Tom and Mr. Crosis also spent most of the day chatting rather than working.
The evening was a quiet, gloomy affair and that night Paul was unable to comfort Craig. Craig had received a phone call from Graham saying they had to be at the court by ten o clock the next day.
Graham also wanted Paul and Tom to be in the court as well as Mr Crosis, James, Harry and Mrs Sanders, if any of them could make it at such short notice.
They all filed in and stood for Judge Winters. There were the usual formalities and then they were ready.
“I'm happy to keep this informal. I've read the briefs so I know the basics on both sides. Now I notice a couple of graders here. Is one of them HFR 4760? If so I'd like him to step forward.”
Paul was trembling as he obeyed the judge. He remembered his last experience in front of one.
“Why are you wearing that red armband?”
Paul managed to stammer out a confused reply then relaxed as Judge Winters gently questioned him trying to understand.
“Mrs Jones, I see no mention of this permit nor any mention of this park event in your report.”
“No Your Honour. I didn't think it relevant. I was concerned about the lax security.
Not relevant? This boy is central to your application. Did you obtain a report from the officer concerned?”
“No, Your Honour.”
“You say in your account that he is completely unrestrained indoors?”
“Yes Your Honour and in close company with the defendant's young brother.”
“Ethan, you mean. I said I want this hearing to be informal. I assume you mean Craig when you say defendant?”
“Yes, Your Honour.”
Turning back to Paul, “You were working as an attendant at the Placement Centre. How were you restrained when Craig first saw you?”
“I wasn't restrained, sir. I was a trustee. There were guards standing around and I didn't have the codes for security doors.”
“Did any member of public object to this freedom?”
“No sir. Not that I know of.”
“And that's the restraint your guardian makes you wear in public?”
Under the judges directions Paul extended his his arms demonstrating the amount of movement he had.
“Have you had any trouble with members of the public?” Judge Winters asked.
Paul started trembling again.
“Yes sir.” he whispered looking desperately at James.
“Tell me about it.” ordered Judge Winters.
Paul tried to tell him about Mrs Tibbs but it was obvious he was just too frightened. James stood up and offered to explain events and the Judge almost looked grateful.
“OK! Just one more thing Paul. Has anyone spoken to you about a regrade?”
Paul looked surprised. “I thought it had gone through, sir. I thought I was just waiting for the three months to be up.”
“Something else, you didn't think relevant, Mrs Jones?”
“With respect Your Honour, it is irrelevant. HFR 4760 is Grade 2 because of violent behaviour and he is a risk to Ethan and to the public. Those restraints are useless.”
“Craig will you unlock those manacles and bring them to me to look at.”
“You're right Mrs Jones. They are useless.” Judge Winters said after examining them, “You may as well leave them off. Let me have your permit.”
Paul handed him the permit tucked into the armband and he wrote on it before applying a court stamp and handing it back.
“Thank you Paul. I wish I'd known you were referred to by a name. I get confused by all these numbers.”
He was glaring at Mrs Jones as he spoke.
“If your guardian doesn't object would you run an errand for me, please?”
Surprised, Paul looked at Craig who, looking equally surprised nodded.
“I was running a bit late and missed out on a caffeine fix. Would you go up to the canteen and fetch me a cup of coffee, please?”
Judge Winters handed Paul some coins leaving him to walk across the courtroom and walk out the door.
“Now let's deal with the school reports. Both boys have had a difficult time with the loss of their parents. Some falling off of standards is to be expected. Mrs Jones, your report seems to suggest that Craig should have anticipated Ethan's behaviour and stopped it before it began. As a parent I would be very interested to learn the secret of that little trick. Would you be so kind as to enlighten me?”
“Your Honour. I did not mean to imply that.” Mrs Jones answered angrily, “I was merely demonstrating an area of concern.”
“An area of concern that's already been noted and is being successfully dealt with.” retorted Judge Winters, “At least you included the school report even if you did not bother to refer to it.”
Judge Winters turned to Craig.
“I have a few questions for you.”
He was interrupted as the door opened and Paul re-entered. Paul quickly put the coffee on the bench leaving the change beside it and sat down again beside James. He was bright red and breathing heavily with the excitement of his moment of freedom and the fact that everyone was watching him.
“How do you expect to return to school if you haven't been in contact with them.”
“I have spoken with them. They've given me coursework to catch up on and they've arranged for it to be marked. My marks are on target so far.”
“Sorry Craig. This seems to be another irrelevancy. I think I've heard enough. These boys have been badly treated and I am not going to make things worse by keeping them waiting any longer for a decision. I will make a verbal ruling now, adjourn for two hours to allow both parties to request any changes to the detail and then issue the full written version in due course. Are there any objections?”
Every body could see the anger in Judge Winters eyes and could hear it in his voice. No one objected.
“Very well. I fail to see why Craig and his household were given an adverse report. I can only assume it served other interests and egos. The omissions in the CSC case amount to contempt of court or perversion of justice and the appropriate will authorities will be asked to investigate.
“The only real issue concerns Craig's education and prospects and I agree that some supervision is needed in that area.”
The judge looked at Craig.
“Before Craig panics I have to say that the CSC has demonstrated a complete inability to help this household and I order they are not to be involved.
“I'm not sure that it is right to congratulate a grader who has just discovered that he shouldn't have been graded but I did read the appeal for a new assessment plus the request for time to establish the trust. In the circumstances I have to deny that appeal as I have already barred further involvement by the CSC. The trust founders will report directly to this court and will include provision for Craig's training and development in their plans.
This court is adjourned until 2 p.m. If no objections are lodged by two then you can all go home.”
The CSC lawyer walked across and spoke to Graham. They chatted for a few minutes then parted.
“That's it.” Graham said, “The CSC are not appealing. At least not in in any major way.”
“Oh yes we are,” shouted Mrs Jones across the room, “I'm not going to be treated like this.”
The CSC lawyer spoke quietly to her but she grabbed her phone and started speaking furiously into it. The lawyer shrugged and signalled for Graham to get his clients away. Once outside everyone crowded around Graham. The adults seemed as excited as the boys.
“There's a pub across the road.” Graham said, “It allows graders providing they stay away from the bar.”
The other customers looked curiously at the strange party. James and Graham bought the drinks. Only Craig and Ethan were restricted to soft drinks because of their age.
“Reg Lyons had warned the CSC against presenting their case.” Graham said, “The judge knew everything was being done in a rush and would have tolerated a few mistakes. Mrs Jones was probably trying to rely on that but when Reg got our defence yesterday afternoon he knew they were in trouble.
He took me into Judges Chambers this morning because he was so worried about it. He even phoned Mrs Jones from there. We heard the conversation on the speaker. I think we'd won the case when she said something about courts doing as they're told and shouldn't be interfering in CSC affairs.”
“Is she mad or something?” Ethan asked.
“No! She's had a lot power and courts do tend to rubber stamp CSC recommendations. It's gone to her head a little.”
At that moment Reg walked into the bar. Graham called him over. After the usual greetings Reg announced that Mrs Jones had been arrested.
“I don't think it'll come to trial.” he said, “A good defence lawyer will argue that they were all oversights due to overwork but she'll be sacked and lose her pension. There'll probably be a shake up in the CSC as well.”
“If you thought it was so wrong why were you helping them?” snapped Ethan.
“We both agreed to let Judge Winters handle the case. Reg could have insisted on a much more formal hearing and it would have been harder on Paul and Craig.”
“Sorry.” Ethan muttered. “Thanks for your help.”
“By the way. I'd like to know what he wrote on your permit.“ Reg said trying to change the subject.
Everyone turned to Paul who blushed at the sudden attention. He handed Reg the permit.
“No restraint needed.” Reg read out, “And it's properly signed and sealed. That woman certainly riled the Judge. I've never heard of that on a Grade 2 pass before.”
“Things are moving pretty fast at the moment. The powers that be are grateful that I kept the shit away from from the organisation. They want me to prepare an opinion for an appeal though.”
There was a stunned silence.
“Let me explain.” Reg continued, “It's just my advice they're asking for. Mrs Jones was trying to railroad you. She fast tracked everything thinking you wouldn't have time to find help. Luckily Graham was on the ball and emailed his defence yesterday afternoon. Once I'd read it, I knew the CSC was in trouble. I contacted my superiors and they took it seriously as well. I got a call from a very high ranking director at two o clock in the morning. He was high enough to sort any rivalries between the Inspectorate and the Placement Department.
“The CSC wants this settled before the press gets wind of it. They don't want a scandal and the judge agreed to keep the spotlight off CSC procedures. All this means that they don't want to do anything that will stir things up.
“Normally this conversation would be most improper but I've been told to protect the CSC's interests with 'quote' the same tact and diplomacy that I've already shown 'unquote'.There are two issues where we could challenge the decision.”
Everyone was quiet, concerned about the possibility of an appeal.
“Altering Paul's permit was out of order.” Reg continued after taking a sip of his drink, “Craig had not made an application and the Judge couldn't have been more insulting if he tried. Sending Paul for a coffee was incredible. It was complete contempt for Mrs Jones opinions.”
Reg looked at James and Harry.
“As representatives of the Neighbourhood Patrol, do you have any objections to the changes?”
They looked at each other and shook their heads.
“No. We're happy with it.” James replied.
“If you'd make statements to that effect it would be difficult to proceed. Placement might argue that it's undermining the three month probationary period but my recommendation would be that any gain would be outweighed by the fuss it could cause. Besides Placement will be quite happy to put one over on the Inspectorate.
“The main objection is the order barring any CSC involvement. Judge Winters let his temper get away with him there. By law Craig is a participant of the CSC scheme until he is twenty five therefore the CSC cannot be excluded.
“What I propose is that you allow the CSC to appoint a trustee. Assuming you set the trust up to need a quorum of least four members then the CSC will always be outnumbered but they're doing their legal duty.”
Reg took another sip from his drink waiting for a response.
“I don't like it.” Ethan said, “Keep the fuckers out.”
“Careful with the language, Ethan. You could be thrown out.” Graham said, “I think the CSC would make a big issue of this. Once they make a big deal of one thing, they may as well go for everything. If we do this voluntarily we keep their involvement under control with the Trust Deeds.”
“Precisely.” Reg said, “Graham and I will talk to the Judge and get him to vary the order. Is that OK with you, Craig. You're the defendant.”
“No, I don't think it is.” Craig replied. “I came close to getting a chain round my neck. I was lucky that I could get a lawyer. How many kids have been unlucky?”
He looked determinedly at Reg. “I don't want the CSC involved in my affairs unless we can do something about all the others.”
“That goes for me too!” Ethan added.
“They don't want bad publicity.” Craig said, “Covering up kids wrongly graded would be pretty bad.”
“I've been asked to get you to sign a non-disclosure agreement.” Reg said, “I take it that would be conditional on a full investigation of Mrs Jones' cases.”
“No! Everyone's cases.” Craig said firmly.
“You can't take on the CSC like this. You'll put it on the defensive and it will try to crush you.” Reg said, “Even if there is an investigation it will take time and you're threatening to keep your case open while it's going on. Supposing you agree to a temporary non-disclosure and the terms we propose for your case and in return we'll set up an investigation.”
“I think that's the best deal you're going to get, Craig.” Graham said, “I advise you to accept.”
“Providing I can talk to the Wilberforce people about it.”
Reg could see the determination in Craig's eyes as he spoke. Time was running short and the deal would buy the CSC time so he held out his hand.
“We agree.” he said, “Graham and I will go and see the Judge now. You can carry on celebrating. You've earned it. Don't forget. Ethan and Craig are allowed to drink with a meal.”
“Instead of eating here, why don't we all go back to my place?” Mr Crosis said, “I think a party is called for.”
No one objected and after leaving a voice mail message for Graham and Reg to join them, they headed off.
The party expanded. James' family and some of Craig and Ethan's school friends were invited as well. Some of the parents would show up as well. In the current climate, supervision was an obsession. Mr Crosis had a servant; a Grade 4 in his thirties called Mark. At first, he could not take his eyes off Paul but he switched his attention when he learned how Craig had stood up to the CSC.
The party was remarkable for the way that Graders and others mixed freely. James' wife, a couple of mothers and Tom took over the kitchen preparing snacks with Tom enjoying some much needed female attention. Mr Crosis and Mark ran the bar. Mrs Sanders sat quietly keeping a discrete eye on Jake and Ethan but increasingly she left that job to other parents and spent more time talking with Harry.
There were girls amongst the guests and they all took a great deal of interest in Paul. Traditionally dressed in just shorts he could not avoid looking sexy but they quickly decided that Craig and some of the other boys were just as attractive and much better catches.
The boys found themselves divided by interest in the girls and fascination with Paul's tough, bad guy image. His grade 2 chain added mystery to the power of his well defined, muscular body.
Paul was disconcerted by one boy's interest and tried staying close to Craig while glancing nervously at the boy's father but Craig was too busy flirting with the girls and keeping a watchful eye on various parents chaperoning the party.
The boy's father noticed his son's eager attention and joined them, listening to the boy's chatter. The boy talked excitedly about the strict drill and physical training participants undergo at the Placement Centre. Just as he was about to send the boy for a drink, the boy disappeared to the bathroom.
“I'm Allan.” James said, “I hope Adam's not annoying you.”
“No. He's a nice boy, sir.”
Allan smiled, “And you'd put up with him because you're a grader, right?”
“Yes sir but I'm not just putting up with him. It's nice talking to him. I'm a bit worried about some of his questions though.”
“He wanted to know how it felt to have my cock shaved, sir.”
Allan laughed covering his embarrassment as Adam returned.
“Dad, can you stop Paul calling me sir.” Adam said, “I want to be his friend.”
“You can't be his friend like you can be with a boy at school.” Allan replied, “If Paul called you Adam, you could complain to Craig that he was rude and have him punished.”
“So Paul can't have friends.”
Allan found himself beginning to flounder. He was not sure how to answer.
“Craig can punish me and I have to serve him.” Paul explained, “I want to help him make his life better and he wants to help me in the same way so I think of him as my friend as well.”
“Some of the boys at school say it's OK to do things with Graders because they're property and not citizens. That's not right, is it?”
“You should know from your Citizenship lessons that's wrong. Graders are people who cannot handle citizenship and so they have a guardian. In return they have to help their guardian. If you want Paul to do anything for you, then you must Craig's permission first.”
“So how do I know what Paul wants?”
“It would help if we stopped talking about Paul as if he wasn't here.” Allan said, “Paul's glass is empty and he won't walk away from us to go to the bar without permission. I'm sorry Paul. I'm talking about you again. Would you like another drink?”
“Yes please sir.”
“I'll get it.” snapped Adam, rushing off.
“Sorry again about all that. We didn't mean to be rude.”
“He's trying to understand, sir.” Paul replied, “I'm still not used to people caring about my feelings. It's nice.”
“You also seem to be getting a bit of hero worship. Enjoy that too!”
Adam returned. He stood holding a small tray with a drink for Paul and another one for his father.
“Is this how a grader would do it?” he asked.
Seeing the amused look on Allan face, Paul replied, “No! A grader would stand there so that he could be seen without disturbing his betters. He would stand with his feet apart and hold the tray higher so it was at a comfortable height to take the glasses. He would stand still and not speak ,looking forward and downwards slightly.”
Adam shifted his stance in compliance with Paul's instructions and waited quietly.
“Of course, a grader would only be wearing shorts and we might start talking about his body.” Paul added, “One of us might even feel him up.”
Adam blushed deep red but kept still.
“You're usually naked indoors aren't you, Paul?” Allan asked.
“Oh yes.” Paul replied, “A grader shouldn't have any secrets from his betters.”
Adam's embarrassment was not helped by the room going quiet as everyone watched the little game developing. He could never have put it into clear thoughts but he had instinctively wanted to show his respect for Paul and acting as waiter was something Paul would have understood.
It seemed that Paul and his father understood only too well and he was being teased by it. If he ended his act he would lose face but he was nervous about where the conversation was leading.
“Do you think he understands what I meant about talking about a person as if they weren't there?” Allan asked.
“I doubt it.” Paul replied, “Graders don't learn anything unless it's beaten into them.”
“Maybe this one should strip off.” Allan suggested.
“There are ladies present so he should wear something.” Paul replied. “He looks as though he might do a runner so he should manacled.”
“No way!” Adam exclaimed putting the tray on the nearest table. “You're not tying me up. Were you chained up much in the Centre?”
“Hardly ever.” Paul replied, “The guards had pacifiers. You only had to look at a guy being shocked with one and you do as you're told. Today's the first time I've been outdoors without restraints though.”
“Was that the worst thing?” Adam asked, fascinated by Paul's ordeal.
“No,” Paul replied, “The worst thing is when you first arrive. You strip naked and they start handling your cock, balls and anus. It's horrible, even if you do something right and they stroke it as a reward. It really does show that you're no longer in control. I've never forgotten the first few days.”
“That's enough Adam.” Allan said, “Paul's here to enjoy himself. Maybe we should get back to teasing him, Paul.”
Most of the guests who had watched Adam's teasing had lost interest when Adam dropped his pose and lost the game but some of the boys were distinctly jealous of Adam.
There may have been a sexual element to that envy but there is a primeval survival instinct where youngsters attach themselves to a successful adult to learn their skills. Paul was tough, a survivor and flourishing, not to mention good looking and intelligent and he had chosen Adam as his initiate. All this was bubbling through Adam's sub-conscious as well and it helped that he was gay.
Allan saw Paul as a disciplined and polite young man. James had told him how Paul got graded and assumed he would have no sexual interest in his son. Paul had been uncomfortable to start with by being treated like a guest and not expected to do anything. Talking to Adam and answering his questions was more familiar territory and he had genuinely liked Adam's naive innocence.
No one rebuked him when he had asked for a beer and so he'd had a couple more which had relaxed him enough to play along with Allan.
Adam had been embarrassed by the way his father and Paul had talked about him in front of others, especially his school friends. They had tried pulling his leg about it but he replied that Paul had suffered worse. Then they started teasing him for backing out. The teasing turned into a dare that he could not serve Paul for the evening.
That was enough for Adam. What young man can refuse a dare? He grabbed the tray and fetched more drinks for Paul and Allan, standing as he had been told.
“I thought you'd had enough.” Paul said after ignoring Adam for a suitable time, “How come you're back?”
Adam described the dare. He had been uncertain whether he should say anything but he remembered what Paul had said about not being allowed secrets. Paul looked at Allan who shrugged.
“It's up to you.” he said, “He knows what to expect. Just make sure you enjoy yourself.”
“No one cares about my grade. I don't have to ask to take a piss. I could walk away from you and Adam if I wanted.” Paul replied, “And I can just walk up to the bar and get another drink. I've even got a slave of my own. This is the best night of my life.”
Paul looked at Adam.
“Are you wearing underwear, boy?”
“Yes sir.” Adam replied nervously.
“Put the tray down. Go to the bathroom. Strip naked then just put those trousers back on. Get a carrier bag from Mark put the rest of clothes in it and hand it to your dad.”
When Adam had gone, Paul turned to Allen and said, “Was that going too far.”
“No!” Allan replied, “He gets into all sorts of scrapes and the school's mentioned temporary grading. It's nothing serious yet but maybe you can get through to him and calm him down before we have to do anything formal.”
“Yes sir. I'll do my best.” Paul blushed as he realised how he had answered and added, “I know that was a request but I do like Adam and I'll try to help.”
By now Paul and Allan had grabbed a chair each and Paul had learned not to leap up if someone spoke to him though his back still tingled ready for the whipping.
Adam returned causing a stir dressed as he was. He stood in front of Paul putting his hands behind his head. Adam was slim. As he raised his arms his ribs became visible and enhanced the tapering shape to his torso. His muscled were nicely developed for a boy of his age and Paul's cock swelled at the sight. He leaned forward and removed Adam's belt and popped the buttons so that only the zip fly stood between Adam and disaster. Also at Adam's bidding he rolled up the trouser legs to just below his knees which was as far as they would go. Paul then told him to go and wait on everyone in the room starting with his friends. With the legs rolled tight around his legs, they tended to pull his trousers down and without them secured around his waist they slid easily downwards.
One way or another Adam was going to lose his dignity. Either by his trousers slipping so far that he would reveal all or by a constant struggle to hold the tray and his trousers at the same time.
Graders spent most of their time naked, especially when newly chained. Paul had not wanted to humiliate Adam completely, just make him a little uncomfortable and remind him what could happen.
The party was going well and everyone seemed to enjoying themselves. Harry and Mrs Sanders were well past the chatting stage, much to Jake's embarrassment and several of the youngsters were enjoying some one to one company. Mr Crosis and Mark looked benignly across the room, pleased with the success and looking forward to their own private party in bed. They still planned ways to include some fresh young bodies in their bed but they were happy with each other and could wait until a chance presented itself.
One of the ladies in the kitchen was the grandmother of one of the younger guests and a widow. Tom was wondering whether Craig would let him accept her invitation to go home with her for the night.
Jake and Ethan spent the night close together. They'd managed some quick gropes but had spent most of their time making wilder and wilder plans to sneak away together. The other guests were all having fun doing their own thing and the adults had dropped their guard enough to allow couples to sneak into the garden alone including one obvious lesbian couple.
Craig had exchanged kisses with Lindsay and was wondering about their own trip outside into the dark shadows.
More than anything it was Paul's night. He was not drunk but the alcohol had left him with a strange sense of well being. He could see that Adam was gay and enjoyed the boy's attention.
He was having a fine time talking to Allen. They were both passionate about football and Allen was happily filling him in on the last five years of games. One of Paul's biggest regrets was that he would never play again but it was still exciting hearing about his favourite teams progress.
Adam was not exactly enjoying himself, especially when one of his friends pulled on his trousers exposing his buttocks and some pubic hair. He'd dropped the tray and sent a couple of glasses flying much to everyone's raucous amusement. He sensed that Paul was keeping an appraising eye on him and wanted to pass the test that Paul had set him so he said nothing.
Graham Baxter and Reg arrived at about seven after the party had been going on for around three hours. They both stared at Adam when he took their orders for drinks but Craig and Ethan were anxious for news.
The judge had happily approved the variations to his decisions and they would have arrived sooner if Reg had not been fielding calls about Paul fetching the coffee.
Mrs Jones had stated that Paul was a risk to the public and Judge Winters had immediately sent him unrestrained through a very public area. It was an incredibly blatant insult to Mrs Jones and the CSC Inspectorate. The Placement Department loved it as a vindication of their decisions and the judiciary were treating Judge Winters like a hero for standing up to the CSC and challenging the rubber stamp policy they had been expected to follow.
Reg did not know what the CSC would do but it was stuck with a massive damage limitation exercise.
“They'll make Mrs Jones the scapegoat and try and focus attention on her activities but Judge Winters is supporting Craig's demand for an investigation.” Reg said, “And I think some other Judges are going to speak up as well. It looks as though the Inspectorate is in for a major shake up and you're going to get one hell of an investigation, Craig.”
The party continued, in an even more festive mood. Paul called Adam over to him. Taking the tray from the boy turned the boy around and leaning over his shoulder Paul re-buttoned Adam's trousers. Standing with Paul's hands held across Adam's chest, he whispered, “No more dares. Just enjoy yourself.”
Adam gently pressed back into Paul twisting his head upwards to grin at Paul. His own hand pressed onto Paul's thighs. For the rest of the evening Adam stayed close to Paul. If Paul sat down Adam would either sit on his lap or on the arm of the chair. Allan watched and a few others noticed their behaviour. Adam had not actually come out but from then on it was accepted that he was gay.
As the party drew to a close Mr Crosis looked around at his tired but contented guests. He was especially glad that Craig and his household had enjoyed themselves. They had got through a difficult time and could make a new start. When the last guest had gone and he headed up stairs for bed, he was still thinking of Craig, wondering whether his life would settle into a quiet normalcy or whether there were new challenges ahead.