STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to individuals, living or dead, is pure coincidence. Do not read this story if you are offended by man-to-man romance or sex. Do not read if you are underage according to the laws in the country, state/province, county, city/town/village or township where you live. There is sex between males. You have been warned!

Copyright 2004 by Nick Archer. Permission is granted to Nifty Archives to post one copy. No part may be copied, reproduced, republished, or reposted on another website without written permission from the author.

Thicker Than Water

By Nick Archer

Chapter 14

Tim was flat on his back on their bed. They were finally home from the funeral.

"You’re sure you want to do this?" Matt asked.

Tim’s face registered grim determination. "Yes."

Matt placed his hand on Tim’s chest. Beneath his fingertips was the pulse of life beating strongly; confidently. "If you don’t want to do this…"

"I do. I want to do it."

"Thank you," Matt kissed Tim.

"No, thank you, Matt. You’re the one who did all the work. You’re the one who came up with the idea."

What Matt had done was very simple, really.

When Matt and Tim returned earlier that Sunday afternoon, Marty took Matt aside in the master bedroom and told him about the boy’s weekend shenanigans.

"I feel like a failure," Marty concluded with a sniffle.

Matt engulfed his best friend in a hug. "Why, Marty?"

"Because all this time I thought they liked me. I thought they would behave for me because they respected me."

"I’m so sorry, Marty. But, you know, I think you have it all wrong. They love you a great deal."

"They have a funny way of showing it," Marty sniffled. He raised his red-rimmed eyes to Matt. "How do you know they love me?"

"Because," Matt explained quietly, "they would only test someone they cared about."

Comprehension spread across Marty’s face in the form of a smile.

"Don’t worry, I have it all under control. Rest assured they’ll never do anything like this again."

Marty’s eyes widened. "Oh, Matthew, please don’t have a conniption fit on my account."

"It won’t be necessary once I’m through with them."

"What are you going to do?"

What Matt did, once Marty left and he and Tim unpacked their bags, was to go directly downstairs to the computer. There, he typed out a behavioral contract for Brian. He duplicated the document and changed the names for Jake. He repeated the process again for Tommy, but amended the wording to lessen the punishments slightly.

He printed out the three pages and showed them to Tim. That’s when Tim got the idea that he should be the one to present their punishment.

"You’re always saying that I should take more responsibility for disciplining them, and that you’re tired of being the hard ass when it comes to parenting."

"If you’re sure, Tim…."

Tim took Matt’s hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "I’m sure."

They gathered the boys around the dining room table. With hangdog expressions as if they were about to be force fed Brussels sprouts, they plopped in the chairs.

"Guys," Tim began without preamble, "I have to let you know I’m deeply disappointed." They shifted uncomfortably in their chairs, fully expecting Matt to launch into a tirade.

"You know we love you, but your behavior over the weekend was completely unacceptable. We expected you to act like young men and instead you acted like brats. What’s more troubling to me is that Marty is Matt’s friend and he was a guest in this house for the weekend."

He paused to let his words sink in. The boys’ facial expressions reported that they expected the worst. "We’ve always been very careful around your friends. Isn’t that true?"

"Yeah," they muttered.

"So, that’s why it’s very upsetting to us to see how you treat one of our friends. Can you see how unfair that is?"

A long, uncomfortable silence followed. Matt was tempted to jump in, but allowed Tim to continue running the show. He seemed to be doing a good job. Tim let the silence grow to add to their discomfort. That was a basic difference in their parenting styles. Matt would have jumped in to fill the void of silence. Tim was perfectly comfortable allowing them to stew in their own juices.

Finally, in a calm, clear voice, Tim addressed the boys. "How do you think we should handle this?"

"You’re going to ground us," Brian stated with certainty.

"Yup, for three weeks, except for Tommy, who’s grounded for two."

Jake and Brian started to protest. "But he…" "That’s not fair!"

Tim remained placid. "Life isn’t fair. Better learn to deal with it. I wasn’t here to see what you did, but from what Marty told me, Tommy did less to cause him grief than you two. The first week for all of you is iron grounded. What that means is, no TV, no phone, no computer, no video games, and of course, no friends over. Brian, I’ll hold onto your cell phone. If your behavior is OK then you may have some of those privileges back. Also, that first week, you come straight home from school. Except for CCD on Monday, there will be no extracurricular activities."

"But, I have speech team practice."

"And I have wrestling."

Matt shrugged. "You’ll just have to miss it. If your teacher has a problem with it, he or she can call me."

Jake crossed his arms angrily. "Man!"

"Anything else?" Tim asked.

"I guess we should pay Marty for the pizzas," Brian mumbled.

"Good point. And you will. I’m suspending your allowances until the pizzas are paid in full."

"But I didn’t have anything to do with that!" Tommy protested. "That was all Brian and Jake."

"Maybe not, but you could have stopped them."

"How?" Tommy demanded.

"You could have at least said, ‘Hey, I don’t think this is right.’"

"This is so unfair!"

"Sorry, Tommy. Anything else?"

The trio of boys sat sullen and angry and refused to look at the adults directly.

Finally, Brian piped up. "Homecoming is October 7th. I was planning on going."

"Me, too." Jake chimed in.

Matt raised an eyebrow. A significant look passed between Matt and Tim. Matt’s expression said Should I jump in? Tim nodded ever so slightly. "And who were you planning on taking?"

Brian hesitated a fatal moment before answering. "Ummm….Pam. Yeah, Pam."

"And you, Jake?"

"I was going to take….umm…Allegra."

"I see." Matt affixed Brian, then Jake with a steady gaze. They were lying and Matt knew it, but he was going to give them just enough rope to hang themselves. "I certainly don’t want to disappoint Pam or Allegra. I mean, it’s not fair to deprive them of going to Homecoming just because you’re in trouble, is it?" He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "This is a difficult situation. What are we going to do about it?"

"We could tell them the truth."

"An excellent idea," Matt approved. "The truth is always the best way to go. Why don’t you call them right now?"

"We can explain it to them at school tomorrow," Jake replied, cool as a cucumber.

"Don’t you think it’s only fair that you let them know as soon as possible? They could possibly get another date for the dance."

Matt was never intentionally cruel, but there was an important lesson that the boys needed to learn, and if there was ever a teachable moment, this was it. Both men were fully aware that Brian and Jake had added lying to their list of misdeeds. Matt was playing it cool and waited patiently. He enjoyed seeing them squirm.

"I thought we couldn’t use the phone," Jake said in an insolent tone.

"We’ll make an exception. I like Pam and Allegra and I don’t want to see their feelings hurt."

Brian and Jake exchanged looks. They had attempted to conceal their mutual glance, but the adults picked up on it nonetheless.

Jake jumped out of his chair and picked up the phone. "What’s Pam’s number?" he asked Brian.

"Pam?" Matt asked calmly. "I thought you were taking Allegra."

With a loud sigh of resignation, Jake returned the phone to the wall unit.

"Just what I thought," Matt rumbled through his gritted teeth. "Now, shall we discuss what we’re going to do about your lies?"

Later that night, Matt and Tim were cuddled in front of the TV. Matt was lengthwise on the couch with Tim between his legs. Tim’s back rested against Matt’s chest. Tim, who had possession of the remote, flipped channels restlessly.

"There’s nothing on tonight," Tim complained.

"Will you find something and settle?" Matt snapped.

"Sorry." After tuning in A&E, he tossed the remote on the coffee table as if he had just taken a casserole out of the oven without an oven mitt.

"I didn’t mean to snap at you, babe." Matt sighed.

"They hate us, don’t they?"

"Probably, but they’ll get over it. They always do." He kissed Tim’s temple. "You did a good job earlier."

"So did you. I was so impressed when you called Jake’s bluff."

"It was easy. He hung himself and Brian in the process."

"You know, we’re going to be grounded as well."

"What do you mean?"

"One of us has to be here to supervise. They’ll try anything when we’re not here."

Matt hadn’t considered this. "You’re right. And if we have to go anywhere, all the rest will have to go along with."

"They’re going to complain about that, too."

"I’m sure they will. But just remember; they can say anything they want as long as they do what we tell them to do. We can’t give them an inch or they’ll think that they’ve won and they can get away with anything. I’m sure it will be an inconvenience for us."

"I kinda feel sorry for Tommy."

Me, too, a little. I know Jake is the main instigator. And I know Brian probably tried to talk them out of whatever they were doing. Brian is the logical one."

"What do you think of Robb?"

Matt lowered his voice. "I can’t say I like him much. He’s too arrogant and conceited. But it’s Brian’s choice and he’s the one who has to deal with Robb. I do have to say that I’m a little surprised at Brian. Brian’s so down-to-earth and he usually doesn’t hang with the socialites."

"What about Logan?"

"I like Logan. There’s something about him, though."

"You mean he’s hiding something?"

"Could be. I’m not sure. Maybe we just don’t know the whole story. In any event, I think he’s too good for Jake."

"Matthew! What a thing to say!"

Matt shrugged. "Well, it’s true. I hate the way Jake’s treating Mike. Mike is such a sweet kid and cute as a button. It’s like Jake needs a stable of boyfriends - and girlfriends - to validate his ego. And I’m not sure I know what to do about that. It’s like he has a hole inside him that he’s trying to fill."

Tim snickered lewdly. "I’ll just bet he’s trying to get his hole filled."

Brian’s face wrinkled in concentration as he dug through his locker at Rich East after sixth period. Several things were on his mind.

He and his brothers were completing the first week of their grounded status. This was the toughest week. They could not use the phone, the computer, or watch TV and they had to come directly home from school. All their extracurricular activities had been suspended.

Brian had to admit there were some advantages. He was caught up on his homework, which was a first. Brian took mostly accelerated classes in which each individual teacher assigned homework as if theirs was the only class.

He had also done an extra credit paper for biology and Matt allowed him to use the computer to type it up. Matt steadfastly refused to allow Brian to use the Internet to research it; he said it was just too tempting. And Matt kept an eye on him the entire time he typed. As he typed the paper, occasionally asking Matt how to format something, Matt sorted laundry in the adjacent utility room.

That had bothered Brian. He realized Matt didn’t trust him and that realization stung. They had always had a good relationship. The past few days had been tense. Since the previous Sunday the conversations between the adults and the kids in the Rosato-Dugan household had been limited to exchanges of factual information. It was a family Cold War.

Matt and Tim also had left the TV off because as he overheard Matt tell Tim, "It’s just too much temptation. Besides, it’s not very fair." The three boys plunged into their schoolwork and completed their household chores as if their lives depended on it. Matt observed that the townhouse was cleaner than the day he moved in. Matt brought home a bag of strip-cover books for the boys. Granted, they weren’t titles that they would normally read but that didn’t matter.

Last night, Brian, Jake and Tommy had played a game of Monopoly on the dining room table. It was fun and it certainly diverted their attention for a few hours. But Brian thought something was missing. Neither Matt nor Tim played with them. They always had done so in the past. Brian missed them.

Later Wednesday night as he attempted to asleep, he understood what was missing. He missed Tim, but even more so, he missed Matt. He missed talking to Matt. He missed asking Matt questions because he always answered honestly and without condescension. He missed the occasional hug from Matt and the subtle affection. He missed Matt’s funny comments.

Sleep eluded him while he sorted out the events of the past few days. Finally, he understood what the problem was.

Matt was not only his parent he was his friend.

It wasn’t as if Matt had set out to create such a relationship. Matt never tried to ridiculously lower himself to their level. Instead, he had always treated Brian and his brothers with the utmost respect. Matt elevated the boys to his level.

Like any other estranged friendship, it troubled Brian. A certain tension was relieved when Brian finally understood this. Even though he had an insight into the cause of his stress and uneasiness, it didn’t offer any practical solutions. He spent a good deal of Wednesday night he tossing and turning as he devised ways to get back into Matt’s good graces.

Voices of adolescents echoed off the walls as he shoved the rest of his books in his locker. He cursed Jake for being so slovenly. And where the hell was Jake anyway? They always met at the locker and walked together to their last class of the day; PE.

An arm appeared from behind him. It shoved Introduction To Algebra into the lower shelf.

"Where were you?"

"Talking to Logan."

"Better hurry."

It only took seconds for Jake to toss all his books and folders into the locker, much to Brian’s chagrin. "You’re such a slob," Brian complained.

"My maid’s on vacation," and answered dryly. "Come on, let’s go. We’re choosing new activities today in gym."

They raced down the hall to the main gym; not exactly running but walking at a very fast pace. They didn’t want to earn another tardy.

Students at Rich East were offered a variety of courses that rotated every three weeks. There were traditional sports that varied with the seasons; touch football, soccer, basketball, track, baseball or softball. In addition, there quite a few non-traditional activities students could select. These included weight training, field hockey, social dance, roller-skating. They could play handball, tennis and racquetball in the village-owned racquet club across the street from the school. Rich East was one of the first high schools in the Chicago area to build a rock-climbing wall.

Seniors were given first choice and the computer was programmed to give them priority. Freshmen got whatever was left. So far both Brian and Jake had gotten everything they had selected.

Both brothers avoided any activity that was being taught by Jennings. Jake avoided Mr. Jennings because he seemed to have a personal vendetta against him.

Brian had a different reason for avoiding him. True, Jennings was a prick and a bad teacher. But Brian knew something else about him. He knew his first name was Gary.

Gary Jennings was the nature counselor fired from Camp Homewood the summer before last.

He had never said a word to Brian and never gave a hint that he recognized the boy. Still, Brian had caught him several times staring at him and wondered if he remembered him.

By seventh hour, the locker room was warm and steamy and redolent with the odor of male adolescent bodies. Dressing out before class was easy for Brian; it was the mandatory showers after class that caused him such grief. It was all he could do not to stare at the parade of bodies in all different stages of adolescence. He wasn’t attracted to the African American boys with their tightly curled pubic hair. He was somewhat interested in the Mexican boys and their fat, uncut, dangling pingas. Brian was most interested in the other boys of the same race as he.

With a bounce in his step, and pleased with himself for not sporting wood in the locker room, he moved to his spot on the attendance line in the gym. A student leader moved down the line with a clipboard taking attendance, collecting absence notes for one of the teachers to sign, and making sure they were all dressed in the required uniform.

A second student leader moved down the line distributing Optscan sheets and stubby little golf pencils from a coffee can.

"All right, listen up," Coach Lazotte called. He moved to a portable white board. "Here’s the choices for the next three weeks: Flag football, tennis, handball, roller skating, volleyball, weight training, beginning swimming, intermediate swimming and retro dancing. Remember that you can wear sweats if you choose flag football. It might get cold anytime. Also remember that you can wear a jacket over your uniform to the tennis club across the street. Mark your Scantron sheets now and turn them into Will."

Immediately after he finished speaking, the boys broke from the attendance line into cliques to see what their friends were signing up for. Carl, Logan and Dave gravitated to Jake and Brian. They sat cross-legged on the chilly wooden gym floor.

"I’m signing up for flag football," Jake announced. Logan flashed him a look. It was certainly not Logan’s first choice.

"You’re such a jock, Jake," Carl said.

"Jock Jake. That’s catchy!" Dave snickered.

"What are you signing up for, Carl?" Jake challenged.

"I was thinking retro dancing first, roller skating second and tennis third."

"What a wuss," Jake replied.

Carl shrugged. "I prefer to think of it as the path of least resistance."

"You’ll end up in tennis for sure," Brian added. "The juniors and seniors will fill retro dance and roller skating first. And Jennings teaches tennis."

"He may teach it on paper, but you know as well as I do that Will really teaches it. Jennings spends all his time in his office," Dave reminded them.

"That’s true," Jake said. "Wonder what he does all day in his office?"

Brian sighed and began to blacken the circles on the Scantron sheet for the classes he wanted. He made certain to blacken each circle as darkly as he could. "I’m signing up for the same thing," Brian announced. "I’ll just take the chance that there’ll be something open."

"I’m marking flag football first," Logan announced as he gave Jake a sour look as if he had just sucked a lemon. "

Jake was about to make a smart comment, but stopped himself because a student leader was making the rounds to collect the papers and pencils.

The students lined up again for cursory calisthenics. The student leaders led the exercises, as usual, while the teachers chatted on the sidelines and looked over the completed Scantron sheets.

Brian spotted Jennings among the cluster of teachers. He was wearing his photo ID and a gleaming whistle on a lanyard around his neck. He was also wearing dark sunglasses, which Brian thought odd.

Was Jennings watching him? He wondered.

After five minutes of warm-ups, the boys mixed with the girls and headed for various parts of the gym for their activities.

Jennings had indeed been watching Brian. At first he wasn’t sure it was the same kid from Camp Homewood. This Brian had a different last name and he was much bigger.

Then, Gary realized it was one and the same kid. The boy had matured beautifully. So what if he was a faggot? He’s gorgeous.

Jennings disappeared into his tiny office. As a relatively new teacher, he was lucky to get his own office. None of the other teachers wanted it because it was tucked away a corner and it didn’t have a window into the locker room.

The fact that his office was windowless suited Gary just fine. He had no interest in supervising the horseplay that sometimes broke out in the locker room during showers.

It also suited him for another reason.

Gary was very careful to keep the outer door to his office locked. He unlocked it, stepped inside, and pushed the door shut behind him. He pulled off his dark sunglasses and tossed them on his desk between a video monitor and his computer.

In one corner of the tiny office near his desk was a tall, black metal cabinet that he also kept locked at all times. There were two locks on this cabinet; one that was built in at the factory and another that Rick had installed.

The doors swung open to reveal three new VCRs. It had been easy to obtain the videocassette recorders and cameras from the PTO. Gary told them he needed them to tape football practices and games. The PTO had been more than generous.

The bottom VCR indicated that the videotape was filled and he pushed the eject button and slid in a fresh tape.

Rick was very handy if a bit stupid. During the day Rick worked for the phone company installing and repairing telephone lines. He had done all the wiring in the locker room on a Sunday afternoon when no one was in the building.

Gary made sure the office door was locked once again.

He pulled his shorts and jockstrap down to his knees and switched on the TV monitor on his desk. They should be starting their showers now. He switched to a view that allowed him to monitor four cameras simultaneously.

As the naked boys began filing past the hidden cameras and showering, Gary increased the rhythm on his cock. The live show burned into his retinas as he increased the speed of his right hand.

Finally, he released his load. He mopped us the mess with a paper towel, pulled his shorts back up and decided he should put in an appearance as a teacher.

Tomorrow was Friday and payday, after all.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome at Constructive criticism is welcome, too. And don’t forget to visit my website Archerland New chapters are always posted there earlier than here.

Other stories on Nifty:

Paternal Instincts, Family Instincts, Thicker Than Water.....College & Relationships

Pocketful of Stars.......................Young Friends

Resurrection Harry......................Science Fiction

Cooksville Chronicles.................Historical

Tales From the Northwoods.......Beginnings