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"That," Nigel said, "is bright."
"And it's nine o'clock, and time to be up and about, and washed and shaved and shampooed showered and dressed," Claire laughed at him.
"Shaved? Aww, give me a year or two, Mum!"
"Well, not shaved, then! Just do the rest."
"OK, Mum. We'll have a shower."
"Two showers, please. Remember what I said yesterday?"
"Yes, Mum. Two showers." Nigel smiled at her. They were such good friends, not just mother and son. She wasn't fazed by anything, Claire. A great mum. Yesterday she discovered us in bed together. Today she brought us tea and kissed us 'Good morning'. Not just Nigel, but both of us. I think it must have been watching the two of them that did it. Caused what happened next. I hadn't expected it.
I sat up in bed, sleepy, tousled. Well I reckoned I was tousled, Nigel was tousled. "What time are my parents coming over, Claire?" I was OK until I got to the end of the question. My mind flashed back to Mum, red eyed at the bottom of our stairs. To when I had walked past her, tried to look her in the eyes, failed, because she looked away. To when I said 'I love you, Mum' and got no reply. To hearing her voice through the front door as it closed. And then I looked at Claire, and saw the difference, felt the difference, heard the difference. And a lump started to grow in my throat.
"In about an..." She started to answer. And stopped, and looked at me "Chris? Oh darling" And she grabbed me and enveloped me in a huge, soft safe hug. They were flooding down my face. Tears. Rivers of tears. No sobs, just a great gulping for air and tears, tears, tears. "It's all right, darling." And she held me so close and tight. "No, Nigel, it's OK. It's a mother he needs right now. His mother."
"But..." Nigel was sounding worried again
"Just trust me, Nigel. I haven't let you down yet, have I?"
"Well, no... "
"Then trust me now. Just for now go and have your shower, OK?" Then to me again, "Chris, I think it will all work out right."
"H-h-h" damn. Hiccoughs. Well not exactly hiccoughs, but my voice hiccoughed. "H-h-h-how?"
She was holding me and stroking my hair. She was slim, and smelt faintly of lily of the valley. And I was clinging to her. "Well," she said softly, "no guarantees, but your mother sounded as though she really cares when I heard her on the phone last night."
I was struggling to get under control. I hadn't done this much crying since I was about six years old. "But you only spoke to Dad?"
"She called out a message for him to pass to you, I told you, remember?"
"Sort of." Short words were best. I was still having trouble controlling my breathing, but the flood was stopping.
"Well, I think she knows she made a huge mistake."
"It was h-h-h-h-hor-horrible."
She held me even tighter. I didn't think it was possible. "She does love you, Chris."
"F-f-funny way to show it."
"True." Claire had never stopped stroking my hair. And the lily of the valley was calming, somehow. And I was coming to my senses. "We won't solve this now, you know." She said it with kind finality, after an age of holding me and stroking me. "Right now, Nigel's finished in the bathroom. Time for you to get washed."
"No 'suppose' about it. Shower. Now. Or do I have to undress you and put you in it?"
It's odd. I wouldn't have minded. I really wouldn't have minded if she had. She was safe. "OK. Shower."
"Good boy." And she let me go! "Nigel, can you find Chris some of your clothes, please? You're about the same size."
And I left them to it as I went to have a shower. Hot shower. Piercing needles of water. We only had a dribble from ours. The Cropper's shower was powerful, not just cleaning, but cleansing. I took the shampoo, and poured out a little into my hand. Apple scented. Not apple blossom, but apples. Light green. I was concentrating on details this time. There was salvation in detail. It kept my mind busy. Kept it from unravelling.
I concentrated, too, on washing my hair. Head under the blast from the shower head. Head out of the stream of water. Shampoo onto the hair. Make a lather. Rich, creamy. Follow the water down my body. Armpits. Cross hands across the chest. Use the shampoo's lather to wash the body. The back will come later. Now head under the jets again, eyes closed to keep the shampoo suds out, Feel the trail of water and shampoo down my back. Take the soap from the rack. Wash my legs, left first, then right, then between my legs, then round to those wispy hairs, and rinse. Standing under the needles of water. Spiked on the stream. Standing. Quiet. Clean.
And I turned the hot off. And the cold on. Full on. Cold. Powerful needle jets of cold. Turning round under the jets. And standing. Still. Cold.
Clean and cold.
I forgot to get out.
The water sound drowned all noise.
I just stayed there. Standing. Cold. Cleansing. Cleansed.
But the stream lessened. Lessened, and then stopped. And a voice.
"Chris, it's time for breakfast." And a hand leading me to the towel. And a soft towel. Warm soft towel. Warm against the cold. "Mum's waiting. We thought you'd washed away."
"I'm clean now, Nigel."
"What do you mean? Clean?"
"I don't know." And I put my damp arms round him. "I needed the water. I don't know." And I kissed his cheek. "I needed to be clean. For Mum. I'm clean now."
"You're miles away. The shower was cold. Are you all right?"
"Yes. No. Yes. I don't know. As long as I have you I'm all right."
"You have me. I love you, Chris. I can help you, if you let me. But you're a long way away."
And I kissed him again. I felt a long way away. I'd never been drunk, not then. But the feeling was like it. But without the fun part. "Help me get dressed, Nigel?"
"I was going to, idiot. I've some of my clothes on the bed for you. Let me finish drying you. I, er, I don't think I'm a very good dryer, though!"
In the bedroom he'd laid out a black T-shirt and black jeans. I imagined him in them. Wow! "I'd like to see you in those. You'll look gorgeous in them. The black against your hair."
"I think they'll suit you just fine. Come on." And he took the towel from me, and poured me into underwear and black. "You look lovely. Lovely, Chris." And he kissed me. Not sexily, but softly. On the lips. "It's time to go downstairs. Come on."
I went downstairs at half speed. Then I think the kitchen woke me. Claire was rattling the frying pan, and putting food onto plates. "Right, you two," she said. "Demolish that breakfast. Chris I've put a ton of sugar in this tea for you. It's medicine again. Drink it all, please. You can go back to no sugar after this mugfull, OK?"
"No. I'm in charge. Just now you need it. Wait! Put this round your neck. I am simply not having egg stains on that shirt!" And she put a tea towel around my neck and fastened it at the back with a clothes peg. "Nigel, you, too. At once, please!" And he did.
I reckon that the best thing that she did for me that morning was to treat me as though I was completely part of everything. I was hiding from myself while I was in the shower. At breakfast there was no way I could stay in hiding. And the sugar did its work, too, helping me get back to reality. And the heat of the tea. And bacon and eggs two days in a row. And toast and marmalade. I hadn't realised how hungry I was.
I turned to Nigel about halfway through breakfast. "I don't know what to do this morning."
"While your parents are here, you mean?" He looked me in the eyes. It was the fist time that day our eyes had locked. A huge dose of blue eyes certainly helped. "We can do whatever we like. McLunch, Mum said. Back at 2."
"I know. But."
"But you want to be here, right?"
"Yes. And no. More no than yes. And then more yes than no."
At which point Claire came back in. "Now then, you two. What are you going to do this morning?"
"I think I want to be here, Claire. When Mum comes. And Dad."
"Hmm." She paused, thinking, I suppose. "Do you know, I'm not so sure that's a bad idea."
"Pardon?" I was lost in the negatives.
"I mean, yes, Chris. Good idea. If you can cope."
"I'll have to cope soon enough."
"True. I suppose I wanted to soften it a little for you. But then I don't see why we need to. You'll have Nigel with you. And James and I are here. And your Dad is OK about you boys." She looked a little thoughtful still. "But it may seem that we're ganging up on her."
"No it won't, Mum," Nigel was smiling. "Not if we just let her understand and then make her own mind up. Quietly, I mean."
I watched a switch move. Well, it was as though a light had turned on. "Right," Claire said. "Tidying up."
"It's needed anyway. Upstairs, beds apart. Yes, I can see the look on your face, Nigel. Apart. At least three feet apart."
"Yes Mum," resignedly.
"And tidy away all the clothes. Chris?"
"I want your dirty clothes down here now. I'm going to put them in the machine and wash them."
"OK." We'd finished eating, so we both headed for the stairs. Nigel was ahead of me..
When we got to the top, "Are you sure you are up to this?" He was facing me, looking serious.
"If you are, then I am." I took both of his hands, and leaned towards him, towards hips lips, eyes fixed on his.
"No time for that," from the bottom of the stairs. "I want this house so tidy it sparkles."
We sprang apart. Suddenly. "Yes, Mum. Sorry Mum."
"Come on Nigel. Let's get this done quickly. And well." And I gathered up the clothes from the floor, out of the way of the bed we were about to move. "I'll just dump these downstairs for the wash, and I'll come back and help you with the bed.
As I got downstairs the noise of the vacuum cleaner came form the front room, so I put the clothes on top of the washing machine in the kitchen. I popped into the living room on the way back. "Clothes are in the kitchen," I yelled above the noise. And I got back upstairs just in time to see Nigel finish straightening the beds. "I'm going to have that kiss now." And I grabbed him, pulled him towards me, and took him in my arms, and felt him press against me.
His body was so tight against me, his lips pressed on mine. And I felt him relax and press forwards at the same time, and our tongues met and fought for space. I lost. He felt so good, tasted so good. I wanted to hold him for ever. But there wasn't time. Not if we were to be ready for my parents. Somewhere in the breakfast conversation Claire had said they were to arrive at eleven. It wasn't far short of that now. In the back of my mind I knew that. And I had to be ready. Though what 'ready' meant I wasn't sure. As we broke I said to him "I love you so much."
"I love you too."
"Why does it hurt so much, Nigel? I haven't cried so much for years, and I feel so happy and so sad at the same time."
"I don't know. Mum and Dad love each other. And they don't look as though they hurt. But I know what you mean. I feel, oh I can't describe it..."
"I can't exist without you. And ten days ago or so I hardly knew you. It hurts. I mean like an ache. I need to be with you, to touch you, to see you, to look at your face, to see you smile. I need you to approve of me. Yeah, and to tell me when you don't!"
"Does your heart pound as though it's going to leap out of your chest?"
"It stops me from breathing."
"I've been like that since I first saw you. Ever since that first day. Whenever I was near you, even though you never even knew I was there. I love you, Chris. Whatever happens in the next few hours I love you. I will always love you. My whole life."
"I wish... No that's wrong. I hope Mum can understand. I hope she can at least accept us. You. Me."
"We'll soon know. Now look, lets make sure that we look OK, and we'll go downstairs and wait for them to arrive."
"Yeah." I sighed. Truth to tell, I wasn't looking forward to this at all. I once had to have a boil lanced by the doctor. It hurt. It made me faint, and I'm not a wimp. But the boil went, and the pain went. I had the 'I'm going to the doctor with my boil' feeling. And I felt sick. Really sick. Nauseous, the Americans would say. But it was only my Mum.
Except last night I'd lost her. She'd screamed at me. And about the boy I loved. And I realised that I just didn't know her.
I had to meet her all over again.
I looked at my watch.
I had to meet her in fifteen minutes. Where had the morning gone?
Suddenly emergency. The loo. I needed the loo. Now. I had stomach cramps. "I need the loo! Now!" And I leapt for it. Well, as fast as you can when you really need to go.
I made it. In time. Just.
Because I was still stuck in the loo when the doorbell rang. Nigel's voice came through the door. "Are you OK, Chris?"
"I know. I'm just stuck here."
"Yeah. Well, hurry up!"
"So I noticed. Sorry, not funny. Look I'm waiting for you in the bedroom, OK?"
Sounds crept up the stairs. The usual social stuff. You know the 'hello, how are you, would you like some coffee?' stuff. And the loving room door must have closed because the sounds became muffled. And then there were cup and saucer noises.
I made it, at last. Liberation from the loo seat. And went and washed my hands before collecting Nigel from the bedroom. "Give me a hug, Nigel."
"I was just going to say that!" And he put his arms round me, and held me. Held me close. "I love you. I think you're the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me, and I want to be with you."
"I do too." We hugged in silence for a little longer. "We should go down."
"I don't want to."
"Nor do I. I want to run away and live with you."
"Oh Nigel, I wish I could. Wish we could."
"Yeah. But we really can't. And it will probably go OK."
We took a deep breath, well I did, and I reckon Nigel did. And went down the stairs. A stair at a time. Until we were outside the door.
"You first," I said.
"Your house. You first."
"OK. This is silly. Together." And he grabbed my hand with one of his and the doorknob with the other, opened the door and dragged me in.
Into the living room.
Where my mother was.
I didn't really know what to expect. More screaming? Yells of 'you're both disgusting'? Being told I could never see him again? I had no idea.
It looked a but like a scene from a play. Well the stage. Mum and Dad were sitting on the sofa. Claire and James were sitting in the two matching chairs, one at each end of the sofa. There was a tea tray on the table, and each of them had a cup in their hands.
No-one was talking.
No-one was drinking.
No biscuits were being eaten.
And four sets of eyes were swivelled onto us.
And I didn't know what to do or say.
They weren't hostile, those eyes. I looked at Dad. He was smiling at me. "Hello, Chris."
I looked at Mum. She looked pale. She was almost smiling. She looked worried too. "Hello, Chris. I, er, oh Chris. I'm not good at apologising. I'm so sorry."
James smiled at me. I didn't know him very well yet. "Come on, both of you. Find a bit of floor to sit on."
Claire said, more practically, "I'll just get a couple of dining chairs."
While she was out I went over to Mum. I was still holding Nigel's hand. I saw her look at our hands. "Mum?"
She was having as much difficulty in keeping her voice calm as I was. "I'm sorry, Chris."
"I know, Mum." I paused. "Mum?"
"This is my boyfriend. Nigel I love him."
"Ah." She was struggling. This whole exchange was outside any experience I had ever had before I mean talking to my mother so, so, formally I mean.
"I'm scared, Mum."
Claire had eased back in with the dining chairs. And she was trying to work out who should sit on them, making hand signals to James.
"Scared of you, Mum. I need you too."
"Chris, come and sit on one of these chairs." Nigel was pulling me towards them as he spoke. "We need to sit down."
"Ah." Mum seemed very uneasy. She waited until we had sat down. I wasn't letting Nigel's hand go for anything. "Er?"
"Mum?" Heck this wasn't easy.. "Mum!"
"I'm sorry, Chris. I'm finding this very difficult." She looked right into my eyes "I'm trying really hard."
"Mrs Jenkins?" Nigel was very polite in the way he spoke. Mum looked at him. It wasn't a very pleasant look. It was a scary look. I'd seen that look before. I couldn't remember when, but I knew I didn't want to be looked at like that. I watched her get herself under control. He didn't let her speak. "I'm never going to hurt him. I love him."
"But," she was fighting to keep calm. "But you're both fourteen."
"So that means that we can't love each other, Mum?" I was trembling with effort.
"It's a crush. An infatuation!" Oh heck she was starting to get louder.
"Hush, Jean. This isn't the time for a row." Dad had his hand on hers, spoke urgently to her.
"Mum, if Nigel were Carol, and I said I loved her, would that be different?"
"Yes, of course it would!" She was sitting bolt upright. "Carol is a girl."
I could feel the row developing. I was so far out of my depth I was drowning. "I can't help it. I didn't fall in love with him on purpose. He's just, well, special. And I love him."
I noticed that Nigel and his parents were mostly keeping quiet. Buy Nigel's hand was holding mine so fiercely. I could almost feel him saying 'Don't get this wrong' by touch. I could feel the love flowing into me from him. It was giving me the power I needed. At least the power to keep control of myself.
"He's a boy, Chris. Boys don't love boys. They play around sometimes. Do things with each other. But it isn't love. Not real love. It'll go away." That gaze was on me. Not as strong, but it was there. Drilling right through me. "You'll grow through it. It's a phase."
"I don't think so, Mum." I was calm at last. My trembling had all but stopped. I could control it. "It isn't sex, Mum. I want to spend my life with Nigel with or without sex. It isn't 'boys doing things with other boys', Mum. I've never wanted to do any off that. It's love, Mum."
"You can't know that, Chris."
"He can know it, Jean." Wow. Dad had spoken. I knew what he meant.
"Don't, Dad. I can cope." I met his eyes..
"I reckon you can, Chris. I reckon you can."
"Mum, I know it's love. Don't ask me how, and don't doubt me. I know I love Nigel. And I know that loving him is a difficult thing to do. Because we're both boys. And I'm scared of how our lives will go. But I love him, and I'll risk everything for him."
"Everything, Mum. Even things I don't know about. I'll take that risk. I'll even lose your love, Mum. Even that." Full eye contact. Only this time I was in control. And I was doing the looking; I was doing the steel stare. It didn't feel good, a power struggle with my mother. But it felt right.
"I won't stop loving you, Chris."
"Then lighten up, Mum. Please." I waited. Dad had told me once that when a salesman asks for the order, he then stays silent. Absolutely silent. For as long as it took. The person who spoke next lost, he'd said. This was as good a time as I was going to get. I waited.
For some reason, no-one spoke I must have been more in control of the time than I thought. I heard the ticking of the clock on the mantel. I could almost count the ticks. They seemed slow. Very slow.
It lasted a long time. I held her eyes the whole time. My life. This was my life. She may have brought me into the world, but it was my life. I was not losing this.
I would not speak.
Not until she'd said something. Something more than 'Ah.'
I kept her gaze.
I felt that five minutes had passed.
Blinking didn't seem to matter, but holding her gaze did.
I was not losing this.
I owed it to Nigel
I owed it to me.
Mum owed it to me. 'When you know you are right, stand up for yourself.' That's what she said. Nothing was ever going to be more important than this.
"I believe you."
Yes! She'd spoken. Yes!
"I believe that you love him." She wasn't smiling. But her expression had changed. Almost imperceptible, but it had changed. Softer.
"Thank you, Mum."
"It doesn't mean I approve."
"It's a start, Mum." I went over and gave her hand a squeeze. "It's a start."
I felt the whole room ease. I'd never felt tension like that before. I was drained. But there was still more to come. I was sure of that. I just didn't know what. I was pretty sure that I would never be allowed to have Nigel sleep over at home. I half wondered if I could live with the Croppers. I knew I couldn't.
"Chris, I never expected... Nothing prepared me for... I always... "
"I know, Mum. For what it's worth, nor did I. Expect to fall for another boy, I mean."
It was really odd, having a conversation like this with Mum in a room full of people. The most odd thing was that it wasn't embarrassing.
And then it was.
"I am not keen about you and Nigel having sex, though"
"Boys aren't designed to have sex. With boys, I mean. It's not right."
"I think that's our business, Mum."
"I don't agree. It's unhygienic, for one thing. And not natural, for another." She had that 'I may have lost the war, but I am still winning this battle' look. And suddenly I saw where her mind was running.
"You mean you think we'll go off each other if we can't make love?" My mouth was open. "You think it's just down to sex. Even though you said that you believed me. That we're in love." I was losing it. All that way to have come and I was losing it.
"Chris, I think you should leave it." Nigel had grabbed my hand. "I don't mind if that's what your mother thinks. You and I know that isn't true. That's all that matters. All that matters."
"Jean!" Dad had taken her hand. "This isn't what we discussed. Chris hasn't changed. He's our son. He's just Chris. He's just a bit older, suddenly."
"Yes. That boy must have seduced him. I can't bear it. My son's a queer."
"He's still Chris... "
"He's queer, Peter. He's going to get AIDS and die. And I love him. I lo-o-o-ove him. And I don't want anything to happen to him. Queers get AIDS. And they have sex in public lavatories. And with lots of partners." She wasn't in as much control as I'd thought. Suddenly I could see the love, even if it was disguised heavily.
I needed time to think. But there wasn't any time. I'd already held Nigel back and shaken my head with a fierce and silent "no" when she'd said that he'd seduced me. Heck, he had. But I hadn't exactly resisted.
I did something so weird. Something I hadn't done for years, not since I'd grown too big. Or thought I'd grown too big. "Wait there," I told Nigel, quietly. Whatever happens don't react. Even if you have to bite your tongue, OK?"
"If you're sure."
"I'm sure." I looked into his eyes. "I think I'm sure, anyway."
And I stood up, and walked over to the sofa, and sat on Mum's lap and put my arms around her and put my cheek against hers. And I hugged her. "I love you, too, Mum. I need to talk to you. Properly."
"We are talking properly." She bristled a bit.
"Yes. Yes, we are, I suppose," I said softly to her. I was wondering how parents could be so babyish. It was almost like calming a six year old down. "What I mean is I want us to talk quietly, and I want to tell you about me and how I feel." I took a breath. "And I want to try to see what you feel as well."
"It took a while, but her arms went round me, and she hugged me back. "I want my little boy back."
"I'm still your little boy, Mum. I haven't changed. Just what Dad said, I reckon. Grown up a bit."
"It's not what I wanted for you, Chris. I don't understand it. I'm frightened of it, for you, of you. You looked so, so... I don't know. Fierce."
"I don't want to look fierce, Mum." I was conscious of the room full of people. Yet it seemed as though it was just we two in that room as well. It was a private time, yet in public. "I don't want to hurt you."
"Why do you love a boy?"
"I don't love 'a boy', Mum. Just Nigel. Only Nigel."
"That's what I meant. Why do you love Nigel?"
"I don't know. Do you love Dad, Mum?"
"Do you know why?"
"Well, he's so... Oh. I see. Yes. No. He's Peter, and I love him. Yes. Oh. Oh Chris... " And she squeezed the life out of me. "You are so grown up, suddenly. I can't not love you. I love you. I don't understand, but I can try."
"Mum, this is important. I need you to listen. Properly. Even if you don't like what you hear. I'm having real trouble with all this. I'm not used to it myself. And I need your help. I think I'm going to, we're going to, need a lot of it."
"I'll listen. I will, Chris. I'll listen. I don't approve, but I'll listen."
"Nigel is so important to me that I'll risk losing you, Mum. I don't know if boys will ever be able to get married to each other, but we want to." I heard a gasp from Claire and James.
"It's true, Dad," Nigel said quietly. "I want to be with Chris for ever. I love him."
"Now, Mum," I continued, "AIDS."
"Yes. It scares me. I don't want my little boy to get AIDS."
"It won't happen, Mum."
"But queers get AIDS, Chris. It's a fact."
"I wish you'd use another word. I hate 'queer'. I reckon we're going to hear enough of that word if the kids in school find out. When they find out. I don't really like 'gays', but I suppose it will have to do. I don't feel very gay right now."
"Gays, then. Get AIIDS."
"So do other people, Mum. But only through bad planning. Or bad luck. Or if they are really stupid. You don't have to get AIDS even if you have loads of partners. We learnt it in school. But we won't. Have lots of partners."
"But that's what gays do, Chris. You see it on the telly."
"I don't see why. I mean if we're talking about all gay people, then I suppose there are some who do. But I only want Nigel." I turned. "Nigel, do you want to sleep with anyone else?"
He wasn't managing his embarrassment as well as I was right then. He went bright red. "Just you, Chris. No-one else. There isn't anyone else. There's never been anyone else."
"Mum, I don't want anyone but Nigel. And we're almost married. And I love him." I was hugging her again, still on here lap. "Do you understand, Mum? Even a little bit?"
"A little bit." She sighed. "Yes, Chris, I think I'm starting to." She paused. "You are a bit heavy you know."
I got off. "Mum, you can ask us anything. I used to get embarrassed, you know about sex and stuff. But I know you need to know things."
"Oh." She looked flustered. "Well, er, I don't know."
"What?" I had an idea what.
"Well, is one of you the girl and one the boy?"
Nigel was smiling at last. "It isn't like that. Well, we aren't. I don't know any other gay couples. But we just enjoy, oh. Er." He stopped, flustered. My calm, strong boy, flustered at last!
"Mum, neither of us is a girl, if that's what worries you. Er, but we both like, oh heck." I was stumbling. I hadn't thought I would stumble, but I was stumbling. 'Spit it out!' That was running through my brain. So I did. "We both like being made love to. And doing it. It feels fantastic."
"But you haven't been with a girl, yet. You can't know." She was still clam, but very much in edge.
"Oh. Er, Mum, I have."
"Yes. And it was fine. And I liked it. But it's Nigel I love, not 'boys', so it wasn't important, somehow."
"You've been with a girl? When? How?"
"It doesn't matter, Mum."
"I suppose not."
"Isn't it, er, messy, with a boy? I mean things aren't meant to go in there, they are meant to come out. And it's a dirty place, the bottom."
Oh. Bottom. Well I suppose she would call it a bottom. "Not messy, Mum. It seems to cope, somehow. And we do wash, you know. And if you've been to the loo there's nothing to be messy anyway."
"But it must hurt?"
"Sometimes. But that isn't all we do, Mum. Don't you and Dad make love in different ways?"
"Chris!" She looked shocked. She could ask all about my sex life, our sex life, but when I asked her about hers, that was different. "That's none of your business!"
I could have been angry. But I wanted to win. Win everything. Mum and Dad had taught me all my life that getting angry loses the argument. I wanted to win the right to be with Nigel, whenever and wherever we wanted. And I wasn't going to throw it away by anger. "I don't need an answer, Mum. Not details. What I mean is, different things are good at different times, right?"
"I don't know." She looked shocked, still.
"Look, don't tell me the answer. I don't need to know the actual answer. I just need you to think it through. And it isn't about sex, Mum. Well not all of it. I love him, Mum."
Beaten, but not convinced. Well, she had surrendered, anyway. "But it isn't legal? Two boys. I mean the law makes you wait until you are eighteen? Perhaps you should wait?"
"Jean," Claire was talking to her, just quietly, "aren't things like us loving our sons more important than whether they make love to each other?"
"But if someone finds out? They could be taken into care... "
"Why should someone 'find out'? It isn't as if they are going to broadcast it, is it?" Claire was amazing. Both fathers were just sitting quietly. "And if they do find out? Let's find out as parents now what we can do to protect them then."
"I don't know... " Mum was struggling. The logic was reasonable, but this wasn't, as I was learning fast, a logic thing. It was all emotion and understanding.
"They are in love, Jean. They look in love. They act in love. Both times they've slept here I've found them with their heads on the same pillow. They look happy. They are happy."
"But if one was a girl we wouldn't be happy about sex and stuff. Well, I wouldn't." Mum had always been definite about that.
"But neither of them are girls. And they'll only find unsuitable places if we don't make them, well, welcome. And then they'll get caught. Which will be awful for them." Claire paused. "Jean, I don't actually approve of two young people just having sex. I'm not really sure what I think about our boys doing it. But they're going to do it. With or without somewhere safe. I know that for sure."
"I suppose so."
"They haven't told me what they've been doing, well, not until just now. But it wasn't a huge surprise. Not once I knew they were in love. Jean I don't mind what they do, as long as they are in safety when they do it."
"When you put it that way... "
"You don't want them skulking about in the park, or places like that, Jean. Nor toilets." Dad had put his hand on her knee.
"Oh yes. No. All right. Just, oh, I... It takes a lot of getting used to. He isn't a little boy any more. He was. Now he isn't. And I wish he were."
"Mum, I am. I just have a boyfriend, now. I need you just as much."
It seemed to be getting better, the atmosphere. I looked at the clock. It didn't seem to have been more than three hours since they came. "Is the clock right?" I was knackered. I'd had enough. Elated, but knackered.
Claire checked with her watch. "Yes. Good heavens, the time has passed quickly." She sighed. "I'm forgetting my manners as a hostess."
"No need, Claire," said Dad. "I don't think this called for being a hostess. Just somewhere to be to start to understand our boys. Well, to let them understand us, too. Er, right now I think those two need some time together, don't you all?"
"I reckon you're right, Peter." Nigel's dad spoke for the first time in ages. "I think we might go and have a sandwich in the Red Lion. Jean and Claire, too. And leave the boys here in peace for a while."
"But?" Mum was looking concerned again.
"Jean, they spent the night in the same bed. The last two nights. I don't think anything new is going to happen, do you?" Claire had grabbed Mum's gaze with her own.
"Well, er, no," Mum said awkwardly. "But... "
"But nothing, Jean." Dad had come to her side. They were all standing up. "They've had one hell of a time. They need each other. Wouldn't you?"
"I can't get used to this as fast as you all can," Mum said. "I'm trying so hard. But it's all so foreign to me. I don't just mean Chris with Nigel. I mean Chris as a, well, as a man."
"I'll make a deal with you two," Claire said to us. "You clear away these coffee cups, and I'll sort out some sandwiches for you. Yes, and crisps, Nigel."
"Jean, I need your help in the kitchen," she added. And Mum went, like a lamb.
So we were left in the living room. Two men, two almost men. The silence was awkward at first. Until Nigel went and hugged James. "Thanks, Dad," He said. Then, "Dad?"
"Well, you've been great, and we haven't talked, you and I, and I knew because you'd told me that I could tell you stuff that it would be OK, but Dad, I never expected you'd be so great. And I love you, Dad. And I want you to meet Chris properly. He needs hugs too, Dad." And he turned to my Dad. "And you Mr Jenk, er Peter. You were fantastic last night. And this morning." And he went and hugged him, too. "I hope you wanted a spare son!" And he giggled.
After which we were all hugging. With relief I suppose. Broken by a call of "Where are those coffee cups?" from Claire in the kitchen.
"Coming, Claire!" I broke away and tidied, put them all on the tray, and into the kitchen. As I put the tray down, I turned, saw Mum and went and hugged her. "I love you, Mum."
"I know, Chris. I love you, too." And she ruffled my hair, and kissed me on the cheek. "Chris, I like Nigel. I just have a load of stuff to come to terms with, OK? It will take me a little time, that's all. I still love you. I'm just not used to, well, you know what I'm not used to."
"It's OK, Mum. You frightened me yesterday. And a bit this morning. But you're my Mum, and we're going to be OK." I paused. "Mum? If you can't quite cope with Nigel as my boyfriend, can you try to like him as another son?"
"I like him enough for that. Yes. Yes, I can do that I think. I know you'll want to spend time together, and I want some of that to be at our home too. I'm just, well I was brought up differently. I need time. Help maybe. He's a nice boy, Chris. I do like him."
"I took a risk, and turned towards the door. "Nigel? Can you come into the kitchen a moment?"
As he came in, I said, "Mum, can you tell him that, please? I think he needs to hear it from you."
"You'd better come over here, Nigel," she said, quietly. "I've just told Chris that I like you. And, er, that you are welcome in our home. Well, I said a lot more, but that's what I was trying to say." And she was interrupted by Nigel's hug.
"Thank you. I promise I won't ever hurt Chris, or let him down. I promise."
At which point James came into the room. I was getting used to calling his Mum by her first name, but I wasn't used to calling his Dad by his. "Are those sandwiches done for the boys? Because we need to get to the pub before it closes?"
"All ready. So, Come on Jean. Let's go. I think we need a drink. And we need to get to know each other a whole load better." Jean swept them out of the kitchen.
The silence was wonderful. Just wonderful. Nigel and I were alone, in the kitchen. We just stood there. I was savouring the silence, the peace, the calm. And I was looking through the window into the garden. Nigel was beside me.
We must have stood there for five full minutes, not speaking, not moving, not touching. Finally the spell had to break.
"I'm starving," I was, too. Suddenly the normality was upon me. "Come on. Let's eat."
"You were amazing," said a soft voice in my ear. "Amazing. I felt as though you were fighting for me."
"I was. I am. I will. And for me. I am not going to lose you. Not ever." And I turned and kissed him, so gently, on each cheek, and on the tip of his nose. "Now I really am starving. And before I eat you, I am going to eat at least half of those sandwiches. What have we got to drink?"
"Coke, I think." He opened the fridge. "Yeah, Coke." And he brought the bottle to the table, and poured out two half pint glasses of it. "I was scared, Chris. For you. She put you through it."
"I didn't enjoy it."
"Not surprised. She looked as though she was going to kill me. And then eat me. When she said I'd seduced you."
"Well, you did!" I smiled at him. It was a bit of a weak smile. I was finished.
"I did, didn't I?" He sighed. I looked at him. He was as tired as I was. "I nearly burst into tears just then. When she said that."
"Yeah. I'm glad you didn't. I would have, too. And I wasn't going to let her see that. She'll never see me cry again, Nigel. Not ever."
"I like the brave Chris too! He's gorgeous!"
Somehow we'd demolished the sandwiches. And a packet of cheese and onion crisps. And two glasses of Coke. And has this short conversation. I suppose we'd left gaps for eating. I didn't even notice what was in the sandwiches. Just the flavour of the crisps. Weird.
"Yes my love?"
Wow that sounded corny! Lovely but corny. "We've got the house to ourselves, Nigel."
"Mmm. We have."
"And I need you. Now."
"Not in the kitchen!"
"If they come back it will gross them out."
"I need you now, Nigel. I want you now, here."
"Kiss me and you'll find out." And I took him in my arms, and tasted his lips. Properly. As though for the first time. It always felt like the first time. Always. "Oh Nigel, I've fought so hard for you. I want my prize!"
And our tongues met, and I kissed him so hard I thought my tongue would come out through the back of his neck. I grabbed his jeans and undid them, and he did the same to me. All thoughts of kitchen forgotten, and they fell away, so did underwear. And I dropped down to my knees and took his cock into my mouth, and peeled the foreskin back with my lips, tasting his special taste, smelling the scent from the base of his cock, musky, sweaty, sweet, Nigel scented. And just holding the tip in my lips, I twisted clockwise and anticlockwise lips brushing. Gripping him, making him squeal. I loved that sound he made. It was such a turn on. And as I got him to top quality squealing, with his hands on my head, I stopped, and turned him round, there across the breakfast bar, facing the mirror they had in the kitchen, and I put the tip of my cock between his cheeks as I bent him forwards over the worktop, and I looked down to see what I was about to do, seeing him wink at me, his hole twitching as he pushed back. Not enough lubricant. But the butter dish was there, and I grabbed a finger full, and worked it gently into him, making him push back onto my finger again and again. I could hardly wait as I smoothed butter into him, and I put my cock where my finger was. And as I watched, and it was the first time I had watched, I saw the tip strain him apart, the skin tighten as I pressed in and he pushed back, and I was suddenly inside him
Inside him, and he was squealing again, wordless, pushing in and he was pushing back. And I was watching my cock sliding into him and out, glistening, and I looked into the mirror and saw his face, head raised, back arching, eyes shut, mouth open, gasping, tongue pointing upwards, watching my body pushing into him, seeing his arms supporting him as I fucked him, yes fucked him, this wasn't love we were making, I was fucking him, hard, again and again, and feeling his muscles, hot, clenching around me, and I reached to his cock, trapped between the worktop and the side of the bar and gripped it and pumped it hard, harder in the same rhythm that I was using to fuck him, and he yelled, squealed, and started to tremble, to vibrate as his back arched still more, arched and he clamped hard as I forced his cheeks apart and gripped his cock, and thrust into him, hard. Harder. Pushing as hard as I could. Feeling the pressure building inside me, seeing his face, watching his tongue come further out of his mouth, watching his eyes even tighter shut, feeling the vibration turn into a shuddering, feeling it build inside me, feeling the sensation start low down, my knees turning to jelly, and then he came. Then, hard, all against the breakfast bar, hard, once, twice, three times, He screamed as he came, and I drive on, more strokes as he pumped his seed, seemingly for ever, and then it hit and I drove into him, deep inside, where it was hot. Filling him with me. And my knees trembled as I thrust hard on tiptoe into my lover, into Nigel, into his body.
In his kitchen.
Over the breakfast bar.
And all down the breakfast bar by the looks of it!
But I stayed inside him, feeling the tight fastness of him gripping me, the last sensations, tantalising, wonderful, breathless. Feeling his cock still hard, slippery, excited. Murmuring to him. Loving him, stroking him.
Hearing the doorbell ring at the kitchen door and the call of "Milkman!" coming through the frosted glass.
"Shit, It's the milkman!"
"It's milk bill day."
"And he comes round to knock on the window if no-one answers the door!"
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