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I heard her voice as the front door shut. I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to. I needed her then. But it wasn't possible. I tried to shut it out. It was worse than awful. Just at that point I did not need Nigel. I think he sensed it. But he was quiet, and just nearby. Close, yet far enough away as we walked down the path and turned right, following his father to the car. In my ears was the one word, 'No!' that Mum had said so often. Said? Screamed, cried, wailed. I know I'd been nervous of telling my parents, but I'd expected it to be the other way round.
I was muttering. "The other way round. Not Mum. Dad. The other way round. Mum should love me. Dad should be upset. The other way round." I hadn't noticed, but my voice was getting louder. I wasn't making sense. It was like a mantra. "Not Mum. Dad. Mum should love me." I wasn't taking notice. I mean I knew we were in the car. I was in the back. Claire was to my right. She'd put my seatbelt on. Nigel must have been next to his father, in front of me. "Not Mum. Dad. Mum should love me!" I was rocking as far forward as the seatbelt would let me. Louder "Not MUM. DAD. Mum. Should Love. MEEEEEEE!"
So alone. With friends but alone. "MEEEEEEEE! MUUUUMMMM!"
I knew everything that was happening. I could see it. But I didn't feel part of it. I heard Claire doing her best to comfort me. I felt her hand softly on my right leg. I heard her tell Nigel softly not to worry. That we'd be at their home very soon. I heard Nigel answer her. And I wasn't there.
I wasn't there.
Nigel's father, I'd even forgotten his name, pulled onto their drive. "Just sit there a moment," I heard Claire say, as she undid my belt and slipped out of her side of the car. Then my door opened. "Mind your head, Chris," she said, and put her hand on the top in case I bumped it as I crawled, or so it seemed, out of the car. "Nigel, open the front door, and put the kettle on."
He must have hesitated, because I heard her say "Now, please, Nigel." Not sharply, but not to be argued with. And then we were bathed in light in the house. And I was in the living room, and sitting in an armchair.
Dry sobs. Nigel, kneeling in front of me. My sobs, not his. Nigel's sweet face, concerned. Not crying, but near it. Not speaking. Just holding my hands, looking, well, not into my eyes, but near them. It seemed ages, the time he was there. Only really as long as it took the kettle to boil.
Claire came in and handed Nigel a mug of tea. "I've checked the temperature. It's drinkable, she said as she handed it to him. "It's for Chris. Hold it for him and pass it to him." And to me, "I don't care if you don't take sugar, it's sweet enough to stand the spoon up in. You will drink it. All, please." And she put another mug on the floor by Nigel. "There's one here for you, too, love. But help Chris first."
"Sip it," he said to me, as he put it into my hands. "Just sip it."
"It's too sweet."
"All of it," he said. "It's medicine."
So I did. All of it. And I managed to get back under control. It took the whole mug of tea to do it. It was a large mug. "Finished."
"Me, too. Damn it was sweet." He didn't seem to know what to do or say next. So beautiful kneeling there at my feet. And, for once, lost for words, for actions.
"I'm all right, Nigel. I think."
He didn't need to answer. I don't think he could. He just touched my knee. The merest touch. I knew what he meant. His love had been flowing into me the whole time. It was beginning to be enough. Beginning to be.
"Nigel, could you ask your mum to come back in for a minute, please?"
"Sure. Hold on." He was back just in advance of Claire.
She asked at once "Are you feeling a bit better?"
"I think so. Claire, can you do me a favour? Ring Dad and tell him that I'm OK? Please?"
"Claire, I want to tell Mum I'm all right. Somehow. And that I love her."
"I'll make sure, Chris. If they want to talk, will you come to the phone?"
"I'm not sure."
"I'll sort it out," she said. "If I ask you, then come. If not, don't worry, OK?"
A huge sense of relief. I was so tired, suddenly. "I love her, Claire. But just at the moment I wish you were my Mum."
"We'll get her back, Chris. In time."
"I hope so. I hope so."
"I'll go and call them now. It'll be all right."
Nigel hadn't moved away. And he just put his head on my lap, and his arms round my back. "I love you, Chris."
"I'm frightened," I whispered to him. "I feel so empty, suddenly."
"I know. I suppose I was so lucky with Mum, and then your Dad was amazing. And we almost knew my Dad was going to be OK. But I never expected... Never. I feel it's my fault, somehow."
"But if I hadn't..."
He was determined to carry on, "hadn't tricked you into kissing me..."
"Into kissing me," he repeated, "then none of this would have happened. None of it. None."
"It took two.
"But It took one first. Me."
"Two. If I hadn't been, oh I don't know, hadn't been ready, not the right word, happy to. You know what I mean."
"I know. But I don't feel good about it."
I found I was stroking his hair. "Feel good. Please."
"But Chris, your mother... "
"I don't know. Had a shock. Hates gay people. I don't know. But I need you. You. Nigel Cropper I want and need you." I was stroking his hair, running my fingers through it, softly. It was wonderful, almost like cobwebs. Soft silver gold cobwebs. "Don't feel wrong about us, Nigel. It's just, oh, a mess, only a mess. Mess can be cleared up."
I felt him relax. He'd been so brave. I felt almost as though I'd killed him when Mum was screaming and wailing. And when I was in the car. Hysterical. I needed somehow to make it up to him, no, to make him feel right. "My sweet boy," I said softly, while stroking him, "my dearest sweet boy, this is not going to stop us from being together. I love you too much to lose you. Sit up a moment" He did. "Look into my eyes." He looked. "Now listen. I think you're the most wonderful thing that's ever happened to me. You're the most beautiful boy in the world. I love you. With my whole heart I love you. If I were old enough I'd set up home with you."
"But, your mother... "
"Will either accept us, or not. Right now, if your folks will have me stay for a while, she doesn't matter. Except I almost feel that she's died. But I've got you. And I want to spend my life with you. You."
"I'm so lucky," he said. "I'll make it right for you. Somehow."
Which was when Claire came back in. "Ok, she said. Here's how it went. Chris, your mother's calmed down. I spoke to your father. He's a really sweet man. Tomorrow he and your mother are coming round to talk." She saw the look on my face. "No, at the beginning they want to talk to me and to James. Your father wants Jean to understand how I am so calm about it, how I am happy for you both. You and Nigel can go out for the morning, if it all goes well, I want you back at 2. So McLunch."
"How is Mum?"
"She's fine. Well, no. She's upset with herself."
"Did you tell Dad I loved them?"
"Of course I did. I said you didn't really want to come to the phone, and your father understood. I heard your mother in the background. 'Tell him I'm sorry, and that I love him,' she said. Look, Chris, she had a shock. She loves you. She may never accept that you have a boyfriend, but she loves you." She paused. I couldn't speak. "So, it's late. I think it's time for bed."
"I know, Chris. Nigel looks it, too. Now do you boys want a bath, or are you going straight to bed. Beds."
"Straight to bed, Mum," Nigel said. "Er, Mum?"
"I don't want to know," she said. "Just do me one favour?"
"What? What, Mum?""
"Make both beds look slept in. Oh heck. Forget that. I think you both deserve a cuddle!"
Two tired fourteen year old boys hugged her, one from each side. "I love you Mum!"
"Oh Claire... "
"Upstairs and go to bed. Go on. I think it's been a long day. Bed!"
"Come on, Nigel. Your Mum's right. I need a cuddle." And I led him up his stairs, to his room.
And from downstairs came "Clean your teeth!"
A long day! Claire had been right. A very long day. And I did need a cuddle.
We got undressed slowly, and into night things. I didn't even watch Nigel undressing, and I don't; think he watched me. Usually he was such a turn on. That night I was so tired. So very tired. Silence. Both of us in silence. I followed him into the bathroom and brushed my teeth. I was still blurred, but I noticed every detail. Blue soap. Red stripes in the toothpaste, that kind of thing. How Nigel had left the towel all scrunched up. How the scent of him lingered behind him.
I was doing things mechanically, yet I was conscious of it all. Out of the bathroom, into the loo for a pee, back to wash my hands, and then into his room. And he was sitting on his bed, feet swinging, just off the floor. Sweet Nigel.
"Chris," he said, "I think we might push the beds together. Make two singles into a sort of double. The duvets will make it easier."
"Won't your mother mind?"
"I don't think so. I think she's expecting to find us together if she looks in."
I was suddenly aghast. "She wouldn't do that?"
"No. No, I don't think she would."
So we eased the beds together. They were only a couple of feet apart in any case, so it was no big deal.
Even so, I got into one bed and he got into the other. It seemed so odd to do that. It was almost for ever that we'd been sharing everything, yet it had only been a few days. I was tired, but not sleepy. "Nigel?"
"Yes?" He was lying still, on his back, in the middle of his bed.
"Do you feel like a cuddle?"
"Oh yes. Yes, Chris. Please. Yes. I do."
I wriggled over to him. Before, when we'd been lying together it was in the aftermath of making love, and we'd been fiercely tired from it. Now it was so gentle. But there was a problem. Arms and legs seemed to get in the way as we got comfy. And his hair tickled my nose. Well, until I got it all sorted out. "I don't think I'm very good at cuddles," I whispered to him.
"Nor me," came the reply. "I love you, Chris," he added, quietly.
"I love you. I love you for ever." And I snuggled down with my nose nestling in the side of his neck, me on my side, Nigel on his back, my left leg over his left leg, my left arm across his chest. Cosy. Warm, soft, tough, gentle, sweet smelling Nigel. And I heard his breathing. Not fast, not slow. And felt him all warm and wonderful against me. And felt my forehead against his jawbone, felt it soft and damp.
I reached and stroked his cheek, and found it was damp, too. His eyes were running with tears. No sobs, no laboured breaths. Tears. Simple tears. My love was crying, silently. To himself. "Nigel, why are you crying?"
"Sorry," he sniffed as he spoke, "I was hoping you wouldn't notice."
"Well, I have noticed."
"Yeah." Still no explanation, just a word.
"Please tell me?" I was speaking softly, feeling almost under control, but unsure I could keep it up.
"I don't know why, Chris."
"I really don't. My eyes started to leak, and I couldn't stop them."
I hugged him tightly. "I love you?" I said it experimentally, sort of. A teasing voice, yet not teasing. It's so hard to explain.
"I know you do. And I know I love you, too."
"Then what's wrong?"
"I don't think anything's wrong. It's all been a bit much, is all."
I stopped hugging him, and simply kissed away his tears. "Nigel, my love, it's all right. It 's all going to work out." I was washing him like a cat washes a kitten. Dry tongue, just licking him dry again. "It's going to be fine. I'm not leaving you."
"I know." But he was still tense. "But, when your mother and father come, they'll want to take you home."
"But Chris, we'll be apart." He said it matter of factly, flat.
"Then we'll have to work that out, too, won't we?"
"Not tonight is how. Tonight is for sleep"
"Yeah." He sighed, and relaxed. "Yeah. You're a pretty good friend, you know. I mean I like you as well as love you, you know?"
"I like you, too. And I'm getting sleepy. You're so warm. Let's go to sleep."
"Yeah." And he snuggled down again.
This time I stroked his hair, and felt him relax more and more. Felt him relax until little dreamy snores came from him as he was asleep. Wonderful sounds, like a cat purring. My boyfriend, asleep in my arms. My lover. My friend. My Nigel.
I saw in the darkness the glint of light round the bedroom door go dark as his parents went to bed. Heard them moving quietly before that. Heard quiet, murmuring voices as they got into bed, and heard the click as the light was turned off in their room. And Nigel was snoring gently in my arms.
I was so tired, but not able to sleep. Everything was still going round and round in my head. I wasn't worried any more, nor hurt. Well, a little, but I knew Mum would be all right in the end about us. Well, I thought she would. Hoped she would. But it was an enormous thing we were doing. Huge. And somehow it seemed even bigger. I'd, no we'd declared our love for each other to two sets of parents. They knew we had made love to each other, that we did make love to each other, that we would, whether they forbade us or not. That was more than I could have ever done when I was with Carol. It was more than they would have accepted with Carol. Certainly more than her parents would have accepted. It certainly felt like a huge thing we were doing. And Nigel was right. It would be difficult to be together always. We lived three miles apart.
It all pestered me until I was thoroughly awake. Keeping me awake. Making me sweat a bit. Making me want to wriggle. Only I didn't dare wriggle in case I disturbed Nigel. But I needed a pee. I suppose it must have been that huge mug of tea. It must have been nearly a pint of the stuff. 'Still,' I thought, 'it had a lot of tears to replace.'
I eased my arm gently from under his neck, and untangled myself from him as carefully as if he were fragile. So carefully that he didn't do more than snuggle down into the bed and curl up a little. There wasn't much light in the room, but he looked really peaceful. Eyes softly shut, a gentle but serious smile on his face, and contended grunts where there had been snores. I got that odd feeling - that 'I wonder if this is what it's like to have a son' feeling - as I looked down at him. Weird feeling. It was warm and a little tummy churning. He wasn't my son. But he was mine. As certainly as I was his.
I managed to get all the way back to my side of the beds without waking Nigel, and then it was easy to slither out from under the covers and tiptoe to the door. Opening it without making a noise was easier than I expected. It had one of those high door handles, Bakelite, with a sort of protective Bakelite surround. I suppose I was noticing inconsequential things while my mind was concentrating on remembering which way the loo was.
There was no-one on the landing as I crept out, leaving the door ajar, and I found the loo easily enough. Silence was important, so I sat down to pee. No sense in making the water resound to a tinkling stream! But then I had a problem. I couldn't remember the rules about flushing the loo at night. Stupid, really, but at our house we never flushed the loo when the house was asleep. Well, unless it needed flushing, that was. So I didn't flush it there, either. At least I didn't need to decide to lower the seat since I'd sat to pee. Mum always made a fuss about raised seats. And she was outnumbered by two men to one of her!
I caught myself thinking about trivia again. Daft how the brain plays tricks when you should be asleep. The day had lasted a whole week in many ways. I opened the loo door, and crept back to our room. As I opened the door the yellow street light shone through the landing window, and onto the bed. And I saw my lovely boyfriend lying there, so peaceful. Which was and wasn't how I wanted him. Was and wasn't at the same time. He was so beautiful, even in the sodium light. And tired as I was, I wanted him. Then and there. And I wanted him to make love to me. Except waking him seemed like a crime.
I wondered, just wondered, if I could snuggle up to him again without waking him. I eased the covers up, and slid gently into bed beside him. Even in summer it was cool at the edges. It was warm next to Nigel. Safe, soft and warm. I made it all the way over without waking him. And I snuggled up to him, curled up behind him. And the smell of him filled my nostrils, and soft scent of hair mixed with soap perspiration and something undefinable filled my brain with everything this sleeping creature meant to me. And I put my arm over him, and squeezed as close to him as I dared, all the time breathing in the scent from the back of his neck, and I pulled my body to his so that we were two forks in a fork drawer, my chest against his back, my thighs against his thighs, pressed tight against him. My mind went back to just before Dad came home. Oh there was some unfinished business to attend to.
I didn't move. Resisting moving was so hard as I stiffened towards him. My breath started to tremble in my throat, and I felt my heart start to beat faster as I was enveloped in his scent and his warmth, and the sensations of lying still, so still, behind him. And I stayed still, trying to slow my breathing, to stop my heart from pounding. Trying just to savour the touch and smell of him. Trying so hard, as it became irresistible, and as I started to run along the beach beside him, splashing in the wavelets there, under the warm blue sky, splashing in the sun, sea and sand, falling over in the shallow water, rolling over and over, getting wet and sandy, laughing, chasing, racing. Only we were ten years old, and Nigel was driving a go-kart, and I was riding a tricycle. And the beach was green toffee. Peppermint toffee. Green peppermint toffee.
Which we were licking. In a race. Towards each other. He won. Nigel won the race. But he didn't stop at the finish line. He licked on, and on, and on, and licked up my legs, and past my knees. It tickled! I was giggling, wriggling, trying to get away, like wrestling with treacle, and he licked all the way to the top.
All the way to the top of my legs.
Holding me helpless, as, as, as....
As I woke to find I was on my back, with Nigel's head at the top of my legs, and my cock in his mouth, and his sweet lips just swirling round the tip. No huge movements, just gentle, twisting, and my back arched and I thrust forward into his mouth, becoming aware of his hand between my legs, fingers massaging me , and I came wildly, heavily into his mouth, silently, yet so out of breath that I thought I'd run a mile in less than four minutes.
"Oh, wow! Oh Nigel!"
He didn't reply. He eased his way up and kissed me all the way up as he slid upwards.
"I was asleep!"
"Tell me about it," he whispered as he kissed me square on the mouth. Well, not at the same time. Just as he started. Oh the sweet scent, yes even my own, the scent of sex, and boy musk. Delightful.
"I wish you'd woken me up, I just had the weirdest dream. The weirdest." I'd taken advantage of a gap in the kiss to speak.
"Yeah." And I told him about it.
"Yeah. Green peppermint toffee."
"It was. So was running through the waves with you."
"I want to do that!"
"Yeah, but no cheating with the go-kart when I'm riding my tricycle!"
"Weird boy. I love you, Chris. Weird boy."
I just know sleep overtook us both. Because I was suddenly in desperate need of a pee and Claire came in and found two heads on the same pillow. For the second time in two days.
Only this time she bent down and kissed us both. "Morning, boys. Tea's by the bedside. Breakfast in a quarter of an hour, OK? Just time for a shower first"
And she opened the curtains, and the day streamed in, all bright and new.
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