This story is posted for the exclusive enjoyment of readers of the Nifty Archive. While you are free to make a personal copy, no copy of this manuscript may be published, copied, posted to another web site, or otherwise disseminated without express permission from the author.

The contents of this story are fictional. Any resemblance of characters to living or lived persons is strictly coincidental. Certain characters engage in sexual acts which may or may not be legal in the state or country in which a reader may reside. Any reader with objections to graphic descriptions of sexual encounters between males who may not have reached the legal age of consent, or whose local, regional, state or national jurisprudence prohibits such descriptions, should not read further.

Chapter IV - Settling In

Asking Noel to stay was weird. I was taking a big chance. He was obviously not in very good shape, emotionally, physically or financially, and he was probably openly gay. If it got out that I was gay, I'd get shipped home and thrown out with a General Discharge. But he was so vulnerable under that tough nut, and I got all funny-feeling inside when I looked at him, and he needed help, and I was alone and might help a little if I gave him a place for the night. I wondered if he liked me.

We got the laundry done, and picked up a couple of videos, both Noel's choices, but he asked me first if I had any objection. The guy at the counter pissed me off, because he didn't pay a bit of attention to Noel, just fawned all over me, because I was the one with the money. Noel didn't seem to care that he got ignored, like he was just a kid.

By the time we got back to the flat, the sauce was bubbling pretty good, but was about an hour away from being ready for the cream that comes on top of the milk bottles they call "yellow-top" over here. I couldn't get his comment about Christ washing the Apostles' feet out of my head, and I actually washed his feet before we watched the movie. It felt amazingly intimate, manipulating his feet, feeling the warmth, the muscles in his arches, the tender skin at the ankles, his ticklishness. I never washed anybody else's feet before. He had a burn just above the anklebone on the right leg. Animals!

We watched the first video, "War of the Worlds," scarfing down a bag of popcorn and coke. I'm afraid I kinda pigged out a little, and took more than my share. Noel got a little engrossed in the movie, and when the Martians were probing the wrecked house, he moved into me, and it felt completely natural for me to put my arm around his shoulder and hold him a little. It wasn't sexual, just protective, maybe a little affectionate.

When we ate, he seemed to like it okay, but turned down seconds on the spaghetti. I guessed our family sauce is an acquired taste. He helped me wash the dishes, then we watched "E.T.," which for some reason I had never seen. It has a couple of tear-jerker scenes, and we both got suckered in. We had a little tickle session the first time, and ended up on the floor wrestling and laughing like kids. I had to stop, though. I was getting excited at one point -- the wrestling was getting a little too sexual, and I got a hard-on. I don't think he noticed mine, but I felt his, and I almost did something, but I wasn't sure if it was what he wanted, so we went back to watching the movie.

When we went to bed, I left my underwear on, like always, and got under the duvet. He was naked, and I felt again that soft part of me when I looked at the bones sticking out. Noel needed some serious building. I figure he was undernourished for a long time to look like that.

He offered to suck me off. Like he was doing it to pay me back for dinner or something. That kind of pissed me off for a second, because I didn't want him to think of me like that, like I was having him there just to suck me off, but then I figured maybe he just didn't know any better. I pulled him to me, and kissed him on the lips, and it was better than anything I ever did. I'd made out with girls, I'd kissed Todd that once, a million years ago, but I never felt what I did that first time I kissed Noel. It was the most natural, comfortable thing on earth to do. He opened his mouth to me, and our bodies seemed somehow to almost melt into each other, his hands all over me, caressing, sending shivers through me, my brain on "semi-fried" setting as I felt the heat rise in me.

I don't know exactly what happened. I know I took off my T-shirt and Looms somewhere along the line. One minute I was thinking about how skinny he looked, the next I was kissing his neck, his chest, his tiny nipples, his belly button, touching his penis, hard as bone, the head with that amazing hammerhead. I wanted to do it, but I was worried that I might not be able to do it, maybe it would taste awful, maybe . . .

I kissed his dick all over, and touched the top of the head, where his hole juts out, with my tongue. He was drooling lube, and I tasted it. I was like sweet glycerin, and the smell of his crotch in my nostrils seemed to intensify, become like a drug. It smelled of a little soap, a little sweat, a little body smell, sweet and musty at the same time. I closed my eyes and opened my mouth, taking his dick into my mouth. It wasn't as difficult as I thought, but I think I scraped him with my teeth before I put my lips over them to keep from hurting him.

I tried once to put his dick way into my throat, but I started to gag, and had to stop. Before I could try again, he shouted, and grabbed my head to keep me from moving any more, and his dick throbbed and a spurt of his cum splatted against the roof of my mouth. I just swallowed, not even thinking, and nursed on him until he stopped flowing into my mouth, started to get soft. It was a little bit astringent, creamy, musty like him. At least I didn't choke on it, and it felt good to make him feel good like that. It was something I'd thought for a long time about doing, but never done, and now I'd done it. I was definitely not "straight" any more. Whatever that is.

We slept all wrapped up, his back to my belly. I woke a couple of times during the night, amazed how good it felt. He never moved a muscle all night.

I woke up just before I came -- he'd crawled down under the duvet and took me in his mouth. I was one instant dreaming about sucking him, then about him sucking me, and the next I was coming. I couldn't understand how he could take all of me into his throat like he had before, but this time he didn't, he just caressed me with his hands and mouth, and coming was an amazingly satisfying thing. Not just the getting my rocks off, though that was really good. It was more the . . . feeling he was loving me a little, and I was giving him back a little. Crazy.

We did the usual morning stuff, then I went for my Sunday run -- the short one. I thought about what we'd done since the afternoon before, and what I was doing, and where this was all leading. I do my best thinking when running. Reflecting on the comment that his brother made after I came, before Noel and I went to the car, I started to get an idea of what was bothering Noel. Frankie had offered to do me again for "a fiver," which I assumed was £5.00. That meant that Frankie was a prostitute, and if Noel was doing one or two after Frankie got tired, Noel might be, too. God, at sixteen, to be forced to do sex for money. Noel, poor Noel.

I wondered what the best course of action was going to be. No way I could let him go back to that life if there was any way of helping him get out of it - if that was what he wanted, that is. But no way I could have him stay with me -- I couldn't risk getting asked, having to tell the Marines I was a fag. Well, maybe it wouldn't hurt for a little bit, so I decided to ask him to stay with me until he could find his feet -- either through his brother, or a relation, something like that. I decided I liked him, too. A lot. Not Love, nothing like that -- I don't believe in "love at first sight," that's just lust and thrall.

"But you never know what might happen," I thought to myself. "What about him prostituting himself? You take money for working, it just isn't sex. What about disease, about Aids? You aren't fucking, so that's not a problem. What about . . . ? Shut up and take longer strides, breathe deeper, get the heart rate up a little."

When I got back to the flat, I discovered that I'd forgotten my key, and rapped on the door to get in. He was just standing there in towel and beauty, and I couldn't keep myself from planting a kiss on him. Despite the bones and marks, he looked like a Botticelli angel, curly hair, classic features, perfect skin -- pale and translucent, just a hint of pink at the cheeks, eyes I couldn't look at for too long, at risk of falling in and drowning.

As I got out of the shower, with the door half open, I could see him under the back of the hide-a-bed, looking for something. His butt was bare under the towel, and I was looking right at his dick and balls hanging under his little pink hole. There were no welts on the very bottom, but I noticed a few on the backs of his thighs. I had a twinge in my dick, and wondered if it would ever get to that, if I would ever . . . corn hole a guy . . . Noel. That doesn't sound right, but I can't find the words.

He was looking for his socks and underwear. We had a little confrontation when I told him I'd thrown them away before we went to the Laundromat. I told him I'd done it because there were holes on the socks and the skivvies, but not that they were gray and so threadbare that it was a wonder they didn't evaporate. There was dried blood under the waistband of the skivvies, as well as where the cheeks of his butt were so lightly covered. It looked like they'd disintegrate in a washing machine. He said I had no right to do that, because he had no money to replace them, and I felt badly that I'd done it before I found him replacements. We got through that.

We ate breakfast, and I asked him if he wanted to tell me everything while we drove down to Salisbury. I can't remember what he said, but it made me ask.

I'd been thinking about whether or not to go to Church. I'm Presbyterian, but there aren't any in England, so I usually just picked any church, went in and prayed and reflected, singing the occasional hymn if it was familiar or I could find it in the "programme". They don't have hymnals like at home. It was only just past eight when we left, there was plenty of time to find a likely 9 o'clock service. I wondered if Noel was religious.

Maybe it was that I asked him if he went to church. What made me ask him, I mean.

When he started to tell me, all thoughts of Church were smoked.

I got a story I simply could not absorb, something out of a Dickens story, but more frightening, because I knew it was true. He never had a father, his mother was probably a prostitute, his brother was getting regularly corn-holed by her clients, he and his brother ran away from home when Noel's only eight or nine or ten, he never goes to school, just goes to museums and libraries during the day, huddles in a sordid room while his brother sells his body at night. And a few weeks ago, he gets broken into "The Game" by his own brother, and they still get thrown out of their room and end up in a derelict building sleeping like hoboes. And along I come, naive as a goddamned girl scout, and when he inhales my dick, I think I've died and gone to heaven.

It took him a long time to tell me everything. It hurt him to hell to tell, I think, because he was ashamed. I didn't have the right words to make him understand he had nothing to be ashamed of, not with me. The worst he saved for last. I had to pump it out of him, and my heart fell when he admitted that he was only fourteen, fourteen and a half to be exact. I was a pederast, a kid crawler, a baby abuser. I felt like shit. I had to think, rethink what I'd decided while running.

"The kid's jail bait," I thought to me. "You're a cradle-robber."

"He needs help," I answered. "God says the Samaritan in us can not be dismissed."

"You just want a good fuck"

"Never had one. That's not what this is all about."

"You'll get kicked out of the Marines, lose everybody's respect."

"Not mine." I'm a stubborn son-of-a-bitch.

We got to Salisbury, and wandered through the Market near the Cathedral. I found him some shoes and socks, underwear and trousers, and at prices I could afford, once the haggling was done. I saw him eye a sweatshirt with the Golden Gate Bridge on the back and Champion on the front, and it was only four pounds, so he got that as well as a nice lime green turtleneck wool pullover, way too big for him, but the only one he wanted, because of the color. Even found a free-range chicken, which I figured would make a better Sunday Dinner than the little steaks I'd bought at the Commissary. We went to see a cricket match near the Cathedral, eating sandwiches and guzzling Coke. Noel tried to explain it to me, but I got a little sleepy, so took a short nap on the blanket in the warm sun, my head on his lap. He brushed my hair, and it felt peaceful.

I put off thinking about what I'd got me into. We went to Stonehenge, and the stone circles just north of Salisbury Plain, and I couldn't stop thinking. Noel was fascinated by it all -- he'd read about Stonehenge once, but didn't remember any of it, and had never seen it. His enthusiasm, his obvious intelligence, as he asked penetrating questions, even without all the right words, his potential -- not as a lover, as a person -- weighed on me.

At home, we fixed dinner together, and while it cooked watched the tube. He watched, I thought. "What do you do? He's fourteen years old, exactly five years younger than you, even to the point that we're both born on Friday the Thirteenth of August. He should 'be in care' as the Brits call their Child Services detention homes/orphanages, whatever you want to call them. But he'd never go willingly, never stay unless restrained, and end up back in the same well of hopelessness, of prostitution, of drugs and early death."

The last thought made me let lose a tear, but he didn't notice, as he was engrossed in the antics on the screen. Some make-believe robot, very 'camp,' with silvery make-up, all sorts of double entendres. He was cuddled up to me, on the sofa, my arm over his shoulder, his left hand holding my wrist lightly, his right on my thigh. As if to reassure himself that I was still there. "It's not your problem, you're American, he's Brit. His own people should take care of him." The program was over, and Noel kissed my left hand as the credits rolled.

"But they don't love him," I thought to myself. Once again, I failed to recognize what I was saying.

We talked some at dinner -- Noel's mouth was almost never empty, which I saw as a good sign, since he had a lot of food deficit to make up. I told him I thought we shouldn't mess around, since he was a minor, and he threw some crap at me about kids in Piccadilly Circus a lot younger than him were spreading it around, and aside from the occasional bum punter, enjoyed it most times.

I tried to get some ideas from him about how he could get on his feet, get back into school, but nothing came back; there seemed no option for him other than going into The Home than to sell his wares on The Game if he went back to his brother or struck out on his own. The thought of other men pawing him made me see red. Then he said that when school let out, he might be able to get a School Leaver position, a sort of apprentice system where kids that chose not to go on with school took jobs when they turned fifteen or sixteen. I wasn't happy with that, because I thought he ought to go back to school, but I didn't see any other route, at least not then.

So I just out and asked him to stay with me until we found a solution for him. But no more sex. I think he thought I wasn't attracted to him, but I reassured him, I think. He tried to bargain, asking if we could beat each other off, at least, but I was strong, and insisted. He wanted to know if we could sleep in the same bed together, and I had to say yes, because there wasn't enough room in the flat for another bed, I couldn't afford another flat, and I think he needed me to affirm my affection. It was another of my naive moments. How can two people who like each other that way sleep in the same bed and not make love? But I didn't know that then.

We made it through the first night, anyway. He took off his Champion sweatshirt, but kept on the black stretch skivvies after I insisted, and I kept on my Looms. When I woke up, Hank had snuck out the pocked of the Looms, and was buried between Noel's legs, all warm and comfy and tingly. His skivvies were gone. I was horny as hell. I tried to sneak out of bed before my Champ woke, thinking I would pound pud real quick in the john before he woke up, but of course he awakened the instant I moved, and grabbed Hank around the throat. I almost let him continue, but my Presbyterian morality saved the moment, damn it!

I left him a key and directions, and a couple of pounds to spend if he needed. I checked my Barclays cheque book to see how much I had. If I was going to take care of him for a while, it was not going to be as cheap as one, for sure. I had four hundred in the account, and another five hundred in my deposit account. That wouldn't go far. But it would give me time to figure out what to do if this turned into a longer period, and the Eagle would shit in another few days, depositing £440 in pay plus my allowances. I had eighteen thousand dollars in my savings at home, which was supposed to be either for college or to get me started on buying my own farm, except I wasn't sure I wanted to be a farmer, and my SAT scores weren't high enough to get me into a good college. That's why I took the Marines, after all. Find out what I wanted to do.

I read the paper on the Tube to Hyde Park Corner, and took the bus up to the Embassy, going in the Employees' entrance just before eight. I went on duty at 8:15, ate lunch and joked with Rod and Tom, my fellow sufferers, as well as Julie Thompson, from the Security Office. She's nice, had a thing for Rod, I figured. She hit on me when I first got to London, but after we had a little talk and time, we became "work friends." She's half Brit through her Mom -- her Dad was stationed in England after the War.

"Don't you look ravishing today," she said to me as we stood in line at the cafeteria. "Get action over the weekend?"

"A gentleman never tells," I wisecracked.

"His behavior does, though," she leaned towards me, whispering. "Who's the lucky guy?"

I almost swallowed my tongue. I looked for the exit. My bowels roiled. "What?" I hissed.

"Just teasing," Julie said. "You look cute when you blush and blanch at the same time."

"Ouch!" I said softly. "That hurt."

"Hit the mark, didn't I?" she said, this time leaning into me and brushing her breasts on my side. I noticed Rod and Tom looking at us.

"You're impossible, Julie," I said just as she touched my arm lightly. "You're trying to make Rod jealous?"

"Rod? Whatever for?"

"I thought you and he were an item," I said as Julie let me go and shuffled down the line a little.

"God, you are so naive, Kurt," she said over her shoulder at me.


"Rod is a guy you don't ask, and Tom is the guy who won't tell, a real gentleman."

"You mean?"

"Very together," Julie said. "They're knitting booties for when they get discharged next year."

"Oh." Rod and Tom are both big guys, masculine and self-assured. Both in their second hitch, but getting out after seven years. I never thought they were more than friends. They were always together, but they socialized with everybody, danced with all the girls, brought flowers to a few on their birthdays. We worked out together sometimes in the gym, and played squash together at least once a week. "I just thought they were good friends."

"They are, Handsome. Very good friends." She picked out her food and waited for me at the dessert counter. "How lucky did you get? Tell Auntie Julie all."

"State secret," I whispered. "The Palace has yet to be informed."

Julie laughed and grabbed a piece of pie, and I took an apple.

I felt eyes on us as we went to the table where Rod and Tom were already seated. I hate being so damned tall. It would be so nice to be normal, say six foot exactly. We had a "natter" while we ate, about office gossip, the forthcoming change in the Embassy management structure (they change it every few years just to be changing, Julie says). Julie gave no sign that for all practical purposes I had admitted to her that I was competition, not prey, and everything seemed to go on like usual, until Rod said something as we were changing after our relief arrived. Tom was on second shift that say, and wouldn't get off until nine.

"So you and Julie getting close?" he said, pulling his sweater over the uniform shirt. He always wore his dress shirt to work, instead of changing when he got there, so it never looked quite as crisp as a shirt you put on at the Embassy. "You looked like newlyweds today at chow."

"Just friends," I said. "I'm too tall for her."

"You're too tall for any woman," he said with a sly chuckle.

"Piss off," I laughed back. My paranoia kicked in, big time. Now Rod knew, too?

We agreed to a squash game Tuesday after work, and I got the first bus to Piccadilly. It was faster than going down to Hyde Park Corner, because the busses were quicker that way, and there's only three minutes from Piccadilly to Hyde Park Corner on the Tube. It's a pain going down two flights of escalators, but at least everybody keeps to the left, so you can walk down a little faster -- as long as the people in front of you walking down aren't dawdlers. It's nice when you get the early Day shift, because you get to the tube just before the rush hour crush starts, and almost always get on. Not that you ever get a seat, of course.

I had a guy crushed up against me all the way to Earls Court. his back to me. I think he was pressing into me, but his butt was against my thighs, and I bowed a little to keep my head from hitting the ceiling on the bumps, so my dick was away from the small of his back. It didn't make any difference, anyway -- I didn't get hard at all, and my Looms kept me nicely folded up. When he got off, he turned and stared at me, but I didn't look back at him at all, just observed out of the side of my eye. I think he might have been gay.

When I got home, I had a moment when I feared Noel wouldn't be there, and might have just run off, because the lights were off. But he was there. Not just there. He was at the door as I opened it, and I got a huge kiss that just knocked my ears back. He really can kiss. Ought to patent it.

He'd started dinner - at least as far as setting the table, cleaning the potatoes, putting them in a pot with water, ready to boil. In addition, he'd cleaned the flat. Top to bottom, I swear it had never been as clean as that, even when I first moved in. And he was bubbling to tell me something, but kept it all bottled up. I raved about the clean sweep he'd done, not just to compliment him, either.

We ate the little steaks for dinner, chatting about this and that, very domestic, and washed the dishes then went for a long walk, driving to Richmond and walking up the Thames, enjoying a warm evening along with many others. The setting sun made the clouds look rich golden in color, then bronze then red and purple.

He finally couldn't hold it back any longer.

"I got a way," he said.

"To where?"

"Dum-dum!" he punched me lightly on the arm. "To get a I.D."

"An I.D.?", I said. "How?"

"The lady at the Employment Exchange says I can go to DSS and swear that I was born on August 13, 1976 at home, that I never got sent to school, just got learned at home, that I don't know where me Mum is gone to, and they'll make enquiries, and if they can't find a birth record, they'll issue one!"

"That's all?" I was real skeptical about all this. What if they had records that showed his Mum was on the Dole and got an extra payment when he was born? What then? But I didn't want to rain on his parade, so I kept my trap shut.

"Slash, ain't it?" he said. I figured that meant good. "I have to go to the Bill and get a set of fingerprints made, an' swear I ain't never had an I.D. before, an' have a bunch of interviews an' stuff, but she said it happens often enough, an' I shouldn't have no problem."

"That's super! How long will it take?" I asked, thinking of all the doors that might open for Noel if he could just get legal. I had no idea what the Bill was about, so I asked, and learned the what but not why the police are called that. I have to admit, I also thought about what that might mean for him and me.

He looked at me suspiciously, then stopped trying to figure if I had an ulterior motive. "A few weeks, maybe a month," he said. "I go tomorrow to start. Miz Truscott made a 'pointment for me wi' DSS fer tomorrow morning."


"Right in Richmond!" he said. "They's got a branch right near the station."

I grabbed him and gave him a hug, right there on the path by the Thames, and didn't give a damn if somebody thought anything of it. Noel needed it. I needed it. We got it. I got a kiss as a reward.

Once again, I showed my naiveté.

We watched the box for a while, then went to bed. Noel was hyper excited about going to the DSS in the morning, and couldn't go to sleep right away.

"Kurt?" he asked, his fingers trailing over the hair on my arm, absently. His butt was just above my dick, which was half-soft, half-hard, but tucked between my legs.

"Yeah, Champ?"

"If I get my I.D. that shows I'm sixteen, can we do it together?"

"Do what?" I teased. I knew the question would come.


"I don't think it's illegal for a sixteen year old to have sex," I said. "With anyone he wants to."

"Do you want to?" he said softly. "I mean with me?" He turned around and faced me, his eyes glistening in the almost dark of the room.

I kissed him on the lips, but just a peck. "Yeah, Champ," I said. "Lots."

It all went out of control from there. He kissed me on the lips, but open mouthed, and I kissed him back so he wouldn't feel I was rejecting him, and Hank popped through the leg of my Looms, drooling like a dog does when the dinner bell rings, brushing Noel's leg.

"Ya like me? I mean, more than just as a . . . friend?" He'd pulled back and was looking at me hard; even though I couldn't see his eyes, I knew that.

"Yeah, Champ. More than that." I said it without thinking, just blurting it out. "And say 'you,' not 'ya.' It'll sound much better when you go job-hunting."

"Me too," Noel said just before he turned back around and backed into me. He grabbed Hank. "Can I toss you off?" He asked. "If you won't let me take you in me mouf, will you let me do that an feel yer pleasure?"

"Champ, I want to make love to you. Real bad. You can tell from how hard I am. But it's wrong."

"Bullshit," he said, twisting his head back around, but not letting go of Hank." I want it, you want it, we're alone and ain't nobody never gonna know, and ain't no reason not to."

"It's the law, Champ," I said. "I swore my oath to obey the law, and I can't break that oath, because I gave it to God and Country."

"Yer a cop, ain't ya?" he said softly. "I mean you."

"No, Champ," I whispered into his ear as he stared towards the ceiling, still holding Hank. "I'm a soldier."



"When ya -- you -- swore, did you swear to obey American law and English law?"

"I . . . " I didn't know. I had sworn to obey, uphold the Constitution . . ."I don't know, Champ. American, I guess"

He took advantage of me. He moved too quickly, and his mouth was on my dick, and I didn't stop him, just moaned from the pleasure of it as he took me deep into his throat. I felt him moving the inside of his throat somehow, and it was too much for me.

"Noel, I'm going to come, it's coming, Noel, I can't . . . " and I had the mother of all orgasms. He never came off me, just pulled my sperm from me, and I was left a shell of what I was, my nerves in a mess.

"You love me," he said as he came up to kiss me. "I know."

"Yeah," I said as I moved to take his nectar, replenish my reservoir. He came almost as fast as me, filling my mouth with his sweet manhood, and I swallowed every drop, savoring the flavor, the way his dick throbbed, spurted, flowed, then gradually softened, the head stretching from cheek to cheek in my mouth at first, then shrinking to fit his foreskin. The way he said my name, said other things I wanted to hear, but don't want other people to know.

When I moved back to kiss him, hold him, he kissed me deeply, then pulled back.

"Me, too," he said.

We slept "bird-in-the-nest," as he calls it, my arms almost double wrapped around him, his hands on my arms holding them to him, kissing them once in a while, as I kissed his neck. In my sleep and in his.

The week flew by. He was a little pissed on Tuesday when I came back late, after my squash game with Rod. But a couple of kisses resolved that. I don't think he was pissed at me -- he was just pissed.

"How did it go today with the DSS?"

"I got a case worker, Mrs. Tuttle," he said. "She took all the information, everything I could remember about me Mum, where I lived before I came here. I told her I was with me older brother all the time until last week, but I couldn't stay with him any more after I found out he was on the game. She asked me if I had been on the game, too, and I told her."

"What did you tell her?"

"I told her Frankie showed me what to do, and I tried to do it, but I couldn't, 'specially after the Black Room, an' that's why I came away."

"When did you say you were born?"

"I said '1974, I think, and me birthday was in August, but me brother didn't remember the date exactly, so I wasn't sure.' I think she believed me. She took me to hospital and a Doc gave me all my shots, took some blood for tests."

"You never got your shots?"

"Don't think so. Frankie said it was something I had to do as soon's I was sixteen."

"No polio shots?" I was angry.

"I got 'em now," he said. "There's another thing."


"We both gotta use a special shampoo for the next week," he said, blushing. He handed me two yellow tubes.

"Why?" I looked at the tubes and knew right away. We get lice all the time on the farm.

"I got the crabs," Noel said. "The Doc says I ain't got many, I probably got 'em from sleeping on a dirty mattress, not from . . . you know."

Fair enough. They can live a day or so in a cool place, and the nits can live for weeks. "What next?"

"I go back in a week," he said. "If enough information comes back, I can maybe get a temporary I.D. until all the information comes in. That way I can take AE, get a job."

"What's AE?"

"Adult Ed. I can get a G.E.D., even go to college if I get good marks."


"Yeah!" he said. There was triumph, determination, energy there. I felt proud, and told him so.

"Oh, yeah," he said casually. "Mrs. Tuttle wants to know if she can have your telephone number, in case she needs to call me. I told her not unless you say okay," he said.

I felt a chill around my heart. Another person who'll know, another person who could expose me as being gay.

"She promised she'd never give the number to nobody else," Noel said, seeing my concern.

"That's not it, Champ," I said. "If the Marines find out I'm gay, they'll kick me out of the service, send me back to the States. If it turns out you're under sixteen, I could go to jail for a long time."

"Oh, shit," he said. "If you're demobbed, I'll never see you again!"


"Answers that question real quick," he said.

"Will she be all right with that?"

"Not her to choose," he said looking into my eyes.

"I guess if we have to . . . can we trust her?"

"I don't know yet. Let's wait."

"In for a penny, I guess," I mused.

"Oh! Guess what else I got!"

"Uh-oh," I said. He was too excited for it to be something bad, though.

"I'm on the Dole!"

"What does that mean? I asked. I honestly didn't know.

"I get £7.50 a day until I find a job!"

"You're rich?" I said, immediately regretting my nasty remark.

"He glossed it over. Of course not!" he said. "But I get Public Assistance until I can find me a job and start paying it back in me taxes," he said, producing a manila packet envelope. "I put back all the money I took from the dish next to the 'phone," he said. "And I'll pay you back the £54.50 you spent on my clothes as soon as I get the money from the dole," he said proudly.

I had to work hard to convince him that I had spent the money as a gift, not as a loan, that it was something I wanted/needed to do, and if he just thought of it as a loan that had to be paid back, it would hurt my feelings. I listened to myself explaining to him, and I didn't recognize me. I never would have thought like that before Noel. I don't think.

We went to the Y after a light supper, and I did my usual workout, an hour and twenty minutes of weights and fifty laps in the pool. Noel tried some of the weight machines, helped by the weight room monitor, and enjoyed it. He didn't go into the pool, even when I offered him a suit from the Y as an inducement.

"You swim like a fish," he said as we drove home.

"How come you didn't want to go in the water?" I asked with all the sensitivity of a jack-hammer.

"I can't," he said, looking out the passenger window to his left. I couldn't see his eyes.

"Why?" I asked.

"Me back," he said.

I felt as big as a pea.

"And I can't swim."

Make that a microbe.

"Your back will heal," I said as softly as I dared. "And I can teach you to swim, no sweat. You're a natural."

"You think the scars will show?" he asked. There was tears in his voice. There were tears.

"Only for a while," I said. "At least on the outside. I don't know about the inside."

"Natural what?"

"Swimmer," I said. He had the slimness, the grace, the long musculature, elegant, not at all the gross bulk of my body.

We made love that night, and every night after, and my heart started to get full for him. I tried to slow things down, but I was out of control. I don't like to be out of control, but with Noel, I didn't have any choice.

I coached him in English a little, working on the "Ya" the "Yer" the "Three" instead of "Free" and "Mouth" instead of "Mouf." He learned as fast as I could teach -- faster. He'd always have what the English call a "Soft Cockney" accent, but he learned more words a day than I can count, and used my dictionary up -- I had to get a big Oxford from the Supply Officer, who gave it me for nothing because nobody else had wanted it for the five years he had it in Stores. Noel was like a kid with a computer game when I gave it him.

My Champ didn't get his temporary I.D. right away, due to a false start. The first report from Essex was that someone named Allen had died of old age around the time Noel was born, being near 100 years old. The fact that this was medically improbable seemed not important to the DSS records division, but his Case Worker, Mrs. Tuttle, sent back the file.

That night, he told me about his conversation with Mrs. Tuttle, about giving her my telephone number. He gave me her home number in case I wanted to call her. Of course, I did.

"4963." answered the voice, that of a middle-aged woman, I presumed, quite formal.

"I am a friend of Noel Allen," I said into the mouthpiece. "He is staying with me while he tries to sort things out."

"Ah. Kurt, I am glad to hear from you," she said. I was horrified that she knew my first name. "I didn't realise that you were American. I was afraid you might be German or Austrian."

"My granddad was, I think. Austrian."

"No matter. You're probably much easier to talk things over with."

I liked her voice as well as her candor. We talked for a few minutes, then she dropped a bombshell on me, not only guessing that I was military, but when I admitted that I was attached to the Embassy, she knew Rod and Tom, that they were a couple, everything. I was beginning to wonder if I was the last to know. We agreed that the priority was Noel's welfare, and I agreed to give her my telephone number. I wanted to make sure first, though, I wanted to ask Tom if he knew Tuttle could be trusted.

The next day, I saw Rod but not Tom, so I just asked if he knew Mrs. Tuttle. You'd have thought I'd asked if he knew Mother Teresa. I got a whole lunch-break of praise for her, non-stop. How she helped the Black community in Brixton when she was in the Brixton bureau of the DSS, supported kids that needed counseling instead of letting them get tossed into jail, on and on. I finally had to shut him up so I could take a leak before we went back on the scanners, and he still followed me into the john to take one himself, as well as to tell me more about this sainted woman. At least the urinals in the staff bathrooms have dividers that give you some privacy while you're peeing.

That night, I told Noel to go ahead and give her my number. I was embarrassed that I had to give it to him -- he'd been living with me for more than a week, and I hadn't even given him the number. I made it up to him after we went to bed -- early, of course. Three times.

On Wednesday after the Mayday Holiday, or what they call here "Spring Bank Holiday," Noel got his temporary I.D. The mug shot didn't do him justice, showing bags under the eyes that aren't there, his strong chin disappearing in the shadow of his neck. His beautiful blond curls came through fine, though.

The I.D. read "Terrance Noel Allen." Date of birth was listed as 30 September 1974, the latest date that fell within the window. No birth records were found in Cardiff, where apparently all birth and death data is kept for the entire U.K.. My Mom told me she thought it was held at something or other "House" in London when we were talking about tracing my paternal grandfather's ancestry, but we never got around to it.

I still felt guilty when we made love, even after Noel had his I.D. What we were doing was now legal, but I knew it wasn't really. I couldn't help myself. I was falling in love with him beyond redemption, I just didn't realize it. Or I did, but didn't mind.

He got a part-time job as a stocking clerk in a computer and software shop, and started adult ed in late May. Everything seemed finally to be going right for him. I taught him to swim, and it took almost no time at all. He was soon doing twenty and thirty laps at a time, going with me three times a week to the Y. He put on weight, and had a growth spurt from June on, reaching five ten by his birthday. He also got a rise at his job, and they let him run the register when it got busy. He was never off more than a pence or two at the end of the day.

We celebrated his true fifteenth birthday and my twentieth with a trip to the Lake District, staying in a cottage belonging to Julie's uncle, an English barrister -- the lawyers that appear in courts, as opposed to solicitors, which do most of the legal work for blokes like me and you.

We were in a little Italian restaurant on Saturday night when the topic of making love "the other way" came up.

"When are you going to come inside me?" Noel asked as we ate our pasta.

I choked on my food, naturally.

"I want to see if we can do it," he said. "I want you to be the one."

"What one?" I asked.

"The one I live with the rest of me -- my -- life," he said simply. "The first one who uses my bum."

" 'With,' not ' W-i-f ' I said automatically, like he wanted me to. "I think we ought to wait," I said, like all bridegrooms who get the proposal from their spouse before they build up the courage to ask.

"What for?" he asked. "I'm legal now."

He had me there. It wasn't as if we had been celibate or anything. I think we averaged about two times a day during the week and three or four times each on Saturday and Sunday.

"I don't wanna hurt you," I said.

"I don't want to," he grinned.

"You don't want to what?" I fell in the trap.

"You said 'I don't wanna,' just then."

"Damned smartass school kids,' I said.

"You think Hank would hurt me that much?"

"I never tried it with . . . with a guy," I said.

"I'm almost six feet tall, now," he said.

"What's that got to do with it? Besides, you're barely five ten."

"I must be big enough inside by now. To take you, I mean."

The waitress sat a family of four right next to us, which saved me.

When we got back to the cottage, we opened a bottle of red wine I got as a gift from Rod and Tom, who gave it to me the afternoon before we went up. I almost forgot about the conversation we had when they gave it to me.

"You taking Noel up to the Cottage with you?" Rod had asked.

"Yeah, he needs a break. He's been studying his butt off all summer, and getting fantastic marks. He needs a reward."

"How long you been taking care of him, now?" Tom asked. We were at a pub in Bond Street, just above Piccadilly, having a pint. Noel didn't get out of work until six thirty, and went straight to school at seven, so we'd have a light workout at the Y  at eight thirty, sleep in, and drive up in the morning. We had the Cottage for three days, because we both had Monday off, me for Labor Day, and Noel because Tony let him have the day off, and AE had teacher conferences.

"Since he lost his brother," I said. "In mid May."

"How'd you come to meet them?" Rod asked.

"Oh, I just ran across them someplace or other," I said. "His brother was an unusual guy, and took care of Noel from the time he was eight or nine, when they ran away from an abusive home. I heard the whole story, and decided to help if I could, then his brother just disappears, and Noel was stranded, so there was nothing else to do."

"Isn't that what Social Services are supposed to be for?" asked Tom.

I almost felt like this was turning into an inquisition. "He was sixteen," I said. "The safety net stops after fifteen."

"I don't understand systems that spit people out before they're ready," Tom said, shaking his head.

"Ever been in Harlem? Northeast D.C.?" asked Rod. "Twelve year old prostitutes, drug runners, killers. We got no room to brag." Rod is part black, slightly activist, and comes from the East Coast. Tom is from a little town near Salem, Oregon. He said his school didn't have a single non-white student all through his schooling. Opposites attract, I think, a lot more than people realize.

"Well, anyway, happy birthday Kurt," said Tom, raising his glass. "Even if it was week before last." We drank a little more of the warm and refreshing bitter ale.

"It's Noel's birthday, too," I said. "We were both born on Friday the Thirteenth of August."

"Really?" said Rod. "That's a coincidence!" Rod's bulb is a little dim, but he's a sweet guy.

"So you're coming back Monday?" asked Tom, pulling his pocket diary out of his jacket. He always carried that damned thing, keeping track of his duty hours, my birthday which he never forgot, Rod's birthday, which I never remembered, now when I was coming back.

"Monday night," I said, pulling on my beer. 'I'm going to have to take an extra ten minutes on the weights tonight,' I thought to myself.

"Funny," said Tom. "You said you were both born on Friday the Thirteenth?"

"Yeah. Not only that, but I was born at about three in the morning, and Noel was born about ten in the morning, and the time difference is seven hours between Kansas and the U.K., so it was almost exactly the same time."

"Just five years later," said Tom. "Neat."

"Yeah," I said. "Makes it easy to remember his . . . " I realized I'd just spilled the beans. "Shit. How . . .?"

"There's no Friday the Thirteenth in August '74," Tom said quietly. Only in '71 and '76."

"Yeah," I said.

"He's not sixteen?" asked Rod. He hadn't cottoned on yet.

"Fifteen," I said. "But you gotta keep it to yourselves."

"Why'd you do it?" Tom asked gently. "You could get in deep manure on something like this."

"He said he'd rather be dead than go into a Home," I said. "He was serious."

"Are you . . .?" Tom probed deeper.

"Yeah," I said in a whisper. "Since the beginning."

"What?" asked Rod. Like I said, Rod isn't firing on quite as many cylinders as Tom.

"In love, babe. In love." Tom said to his partner.

"Who with?"

"Noel," I answered before Tom could.

"Holy shit!" said Rod. "He's only . . . and you?"

"Yeah," I admitted.

"So, where are you going on leave this year?" asked Tom, rescuing me.

"I think we're going to stay here in London, see a little of the countryside, do the museums I've never got to," I said. "Save part of my leave up for next year, and carry all of next year into the following year when I get my discharge."

"You're going to stay here, or go back?" Rod asked.

"I'm not sure,"  I said honestly. "Depends whether I can get a work permit here, and whether we can find a way for Noel to come to the US."

"What does Noel want?" Tom asked.

"He doesn't mind, as long as we can stay together, Tom. I think I'd like to stay here."

"Well, Good Luck!" Tom raised his glass, and we started talking about Clifton's latest escapade, and the probability that any of us would ever make a cool hundred grand on the futures market without a good Arkansas friend. Tom and Rod are men of confidence conserved. They never said a word about Noel's age, not to Julie, not to me, even after they left the Marines the following year.

We made love that Saturday night in the Lake Country Cottage in a new way for us. Instead of taking each other in our mouths, I mean. Noel had brought with him a tube of KY, and we spread it all over our dicks, and in between his legs, and I made love to him as if I was inside him, and talked to him all the way through our orgasm. It was so much more intimate, so much more fulfilling in its own way, coming while looking into his eyes, telling him how much I loved him, feeling him come only seconds after I came into him, I knew we were going to make love this way many times during the time God allowed us.

I wouldn't consider fucking him for real, not for a long time, but if fucking was good for me, it would be good for him, and I decided that I was going to try to have him fuck me first, fill me, love me. Screw the macho image crap -- I wanted him inside me.

When I woke up Sunday morning, holding Noel in my arms as always, his back to me, Hank had somehow moved up and drooled into Noel's ass crack, and was lodged tight against his hole. I pulled away before Noel woke up, and wondered if subconsciously I was fucking Noel silly, planting myself in him, making our love grow even more. The same thing happened Monday morning, and many mornings after that.

We made love a dozen times over the weekend, always sweet, always tender and strong. We "fucked" each other more often than not. Noel "fucked" me twice, and the first time I was overjoyed to feel the strength of his climax between my legs, the urgent thrusting of his body as it tried to get deeper "inside" me. It was only a matter of time

In between our lovemaking, we took long walks, walked completely arouinf the lake down the hill from the cottage (about fifteen miles) and rented bicycles to ake a picnic lunch out in teh hills. It was our first trip aeay together, and almost like a homeymoon -- except, of course, we didn't have the blessing of the church. We were both a little "down" as we drove back down the M1 to London, around the South Circular through Kew to Richmond, then home.
. . .
When we got in, there was bad news awaiting us.