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How were we going to explain the names? Bracelets were fine. We knew bracelets were fine. Having our names on the bracelets was fine. But how the heck had we been so stupid as to leave them the wrong way round?
Swapping during the afternoon had been one thing, but leaving them swapped... I was starting to panic.
"That's not the way to win the challenge, Chris," Nigel said.
"Dropping the chips isn't eating them. You pay!"
"Only if you finish yours."
"Yeah. Ok. Hey, the bag's upright still. You can still finish yours, too." I bent down to pick it up. So did Nigel. His head got close to mine. "We've got the wrong names on," he whispered urgently to me. "We have to get out of this."
"Not easy," I whispered back. I straightened up. "Most of the chips are fine. Heck, I lost a few. You win."
"What's this chips thing?" Gavin seemed to be distracted from bracelets.
"Nigel's folks are out. They left us supper, and we pigged out on it. Then I challenged him to a chip eating contest." Was there a way out here? Something was easing in the conversation.
"Your folks are out? Cool! Party!"
"Party my arse," Nigel said. "I'll get killed."
"Well your folks are out. They'll never know."
"Look, I daren't. They trust me and they trust Chris, but I can't have a party while they're out."
"Oh go on." Gavin was wheedling.
"Tell you what. If it's OK with Chris, why don't you two, just you two, come back for a coffee or something. No party."
"Suits me, yes." It didn't. It didn't suit Nigel either, but it gave us time to think.
"What d'you think, Jill?" Gavin asked her.
"I'll have to tell my Mum. Phone her, I mean. Should be all right. You know I have to be back by eleven, don't you?"
"How far away do you live?" Gavin wanted to know.
"About an hour on foot," Nigel said.
"By bus?" Gavin didn't look like the walking type.
"Well, less than ten minutes by bus itself. But there isn't one for ages, and it's a ten minute walk from the bus stop to my house. Walking is quicker. Well at this time of day anyway."
"We could take a taxi?"
"Haven't the cash for a cab, Gavin," Nigel said.
"Another time, then. If Jill's got to be home by eleven we'll have no time at your place. And we've got some serious snogging to do, haven't we, Jill?"
She giggled and looked embarrassed at the same time. "Certainly have," she managed to say.
"Pity you two haven't got girlfriends at the moment," Gavin added with a smirk. "We could all go to the shelter in the park and have a major make out session."
"Yeah, right!" Nigel didn't sound impressed.
"Here," Gavin said as he was about to go. "You haven't shown me your bracelets yet."
"Not enough light here," Nigel replied, as casually as he could. We'd been walking away from the bright lights at the chippy as we'd been chatting. "Besides, I want to see yours, too. We'll do it at school, OK?"
"Sure," said Gavin. "Coming Jill?" She put her hand in his. "See you Monday, then."
"I've gone off these chips," I told Nigel. Pretty mundane words, and underneath them a huge relief at getting away with it again. Well, if that is what we'd done. My knees were knocking, and I felt sick. No wonder I'd gone off the chips.
"Me, too." He took mine and his and chucked them in a nearby bin. "Bet's off, I reckon." He was smiling, though."
"Jill's pretty." What I really wanted to say was more like, 'take me in your arms, I need to be held.'
"He's not." Then I looked at his eyes. His teasing smile was there. I could see it even in the darkness.
"Nigel Cropper I am going to strangle you. Slowly, and by degrees!"
"Gotta catch me first!"
"Well run slowly."
"Have you ever known me run too fast for you to catch me?"
"You sweet, evil, horrible, wonderful boy, no I've never known you run too fast." Then a thought struck me. "They never got their romantic dinner!"
"Yeah, no cod and chips. Tongue sandwich instead."
"I want one of those." He was leading us slowly away from the town centre, back home.
I did as well. "When we get to a quiet spot, I'm going to back you up against a tree and give you the longest, hardest, fiercest, wettest kiss of your life."
"Oh yes please, Chris. Yes."
"And when I get you home I have something I want to try out."
We walked, not fast, not slow, and reached the streets local to chateau Cropper. The streets with the pools of light separated by darkness. I don't know why, but I loved those quiet streets. Something about the atmosphere of walking from dark into light and into dark again. Not a cold evening, not warm either. Every so often the scent of new mown grass, though we were coming fast towards the last cut of the year and getting ready for winter. Nothing prevents the Englishman from mowing his lawn, though. Some of the trees lining the road were almost saplings, and there were one or two more substantial. Nowhere yet that I could see to kiss my love, to show him how much I was his.
A little further on, on the right, just before the recreation ground, was a footpath. Tree lined, but narrow, with a streetlight every now and then. And just about ten feet from the entrance was a lovely old tree, with gnarled bark. The light where I was showed me. I took Nigel's hand. "Come with me."
No demur, no words, and he followed the pull on his hand and we were behind the tree, in total, beautiful, all embracing darkness.
And I did.
I kissed him.
At first on the tip of his nose. His back was against the tree, and I was resting my hands on the bark, either side of his head, and studying him as I kissed him. If you can study someone in darkness, that is!
I head little murmurings that meant only one thing. He was saying 'come to me' but not using words. Trying, as I knew from my own needs, to entice me without speaking.
I brushed each cheek with my lips, and then kissed his eyelids, now left, now right, now left, now right... windscreen wipers... now left, now right. I was making him giggle. I loved his giggle. It was like quicksilver, bright, shiny, elusive, forming fragmentary droplets and then rejoining into a pool. Except his quicksilver was golden. And was as warm and healthgiving as mercury is cold and lethal.
I was tempted to sex, then and there. I was. Very tempted. I could hardly keep my hands on the bark. Was it that I didn't dare? There, in public? Or was it that sex wasn't the right thing just then? I'm not sure. I was excited, giggly excited myself. It was almost daring, almost dangerous. It was as though we weren't hiding in the shadows, but were running, naked in the sunlight, across the recreation ground. It was half the frisson of fear at possible, if unlikely discovery, and half the total freedom I felt when with Nigel.
I nibbled his eyebrows. Tickly, soft, dense but not bushy. The gap in the centre led my kisses down his nose to kiss the tip again. I avoided his mouth, despite hearing a murmur of aggravation from him, and kissed his chin, and moved along his jaw line to his right ear. I was glad he didn't have an earring. I don't know why, exactly, but I loathe piercings. While it would have been fine because he was Nigel and because I adored him, I still loathed them.
Nibbling his ear made him giggle again. It was only when he restarted I realised he'd stopped earlier. "I love you. Don't speak, don't say a word," I breathed into his ear. And I moved around the jawline to the chin and the other ear. Something inspired me, then. As I sucked on the earlobe I was tempted to his neck.
I've never been kissed on the neck, not like I was about to kiss him. But something told me to do it. Not a small kiss, and not one designed to make a love bite either, I opened my mouth and took a mouthful of his neck, under his ear at first. Almost vicious, but not vicious at the same time. Loving and biting, but not enough to make a mark or to make him hurt.
His murmur turned to a muffled squeal. His body tensed and he started to pant. I'd hit on something. I moved round a little to the front and bit again. The squeal was more muffled. I was biting his windpipe a little. His body was tense and he was pushing himself towards me. I moved to the front and took a mouthful of windpipe and Adam's apple. More muffled and more pushing towards me. I'd discovered something. Something not to be missed. I wondered what it was like, wanted him to take a turn and do it to me, but not then. Then I was in control. And as he had possessed me earlier, I knew, just knew, that he needed to be possessed himself. And possessed with gentle kisses as well as half hard bites.
The timing was the issue. I wanted to bite his neck for ever. I wanted to kiss his lips, too. And I wanted to make love to him so badly I was straining inside my underwear.
I still had my hands on the tree.
That was the wrong place.
I made a decision. Took my hands from the tree and unbuckled his belt and opened his trousers.
"Shh. I'm busy."
"We can't make love here. Chris someone will come."
"Not what I meant!"
"Shh. My kiss, my rules."
He shushed. I had one hand at the back of his neck, and the other easing inside the waistband of his underpants, clasping his beautiful bum. I had a target in mind for the next time I was to bite his neck. His natural reaction was to ease his legs apart for me, and I found the target. Damp. Slippery from sweat and maybe slippery because he had an idea what I was going to do, I found the centre with the tip of my index finger. And then I kissed and bit him hard on the windpipe and forced my finger inside him at the same time. Inside as deep as I could go. Hard, unyielding was the finger and the bite. A huge mouthful of Nigel's neck in my mouth, and his squeal was loud, yet muffled because of my teeth.
I kept the finger there, and took another bite. And then moved to his lips as he opened his mouth to squeal again and rammed my tongue in so fast and deep that he squealed into the seal of my lips.
He was mine.
Helpless as I moved back to his throat and bit again and forced even more of my finger inside him, and felt him cling to me and tremble with excitement. He was rock hard against me, and so was I. This was the most deeply erotic thing I'd ever felt, more erotic than losing my virginity to him. More erotic than the first time he had eased his boyhood inside me. More erotic than anything at all. Pure animal feelings. No light, no darkness, no day, no night, no recreation ground. Just total sensation, lost in each other, lost as I drive him crazy without actually making love to him.
"Chris?" He managed to get my name out somehow.
I mumbled an answer. A sort of grunt.
"Take me home, Chris, and take me to bed. Please."
Oh yes, yes, yes, YES! "OK," I said, as nonchalantly as I could. Then I did something that surprised me. Me, the boy who was fastidious about cleanliness. The boy who needed everything to be so very clean. I took my hand from him, and, in front of his eyes, put the finger that had been deep inside him into my mouth and sucked.
Not dirty. A special smell, a special flavour. Nigel's flavour. "That's disgusting," he said.
"If you say so." I was smiling while sucking it. "Only it isn't. Disgusting. It's just you. And I'm hungry for you. Starving, chips or no chips."
"I think it was 'no chips'. We threw them away. Remember?"
"Must be the Irn Bru, then. Put a girder between my legs!"
"More like iron filings."
"Still disgusting, though."
"Well, it wasn't. If it had been I wouldn't have. I'm not into shit, not even in a little way."
"Must've been?" He sounded intrigued.
"You know that weird, special scent? The one after we make love?"
"Mmm. Oh yes."
"Well, it's clean. And that's what it was. You. Or us, maybe." It was. It had been amazing. Something I suddenly had dared to do. Like I hadn't dared to take him into my mouth after he'd been inside me before. It was wonderful. "Wonderful."
"Yeah, well I'll take your word for it!" I could see his teeth as he grinned. "Now please take me home and take me to bed." And he had his hand in mine and was pulling me, this time, after him.
"Hey, I thought I was meant to be taking you home, not you taking me!"
"Yeah. Well you made me need you. Like now, urgently."
He was pulling my hand hard. To be fair, I wasn't hanging back. I wanted him as badly as he wanted me. We weren't running. Close, but not running. Odd thing was, I realised as we hustled up the short hill, odd thing was that we were holding hands.
"Slow down a minute." I wasn't getting puffed, but I wanted to savour it. "I want to walk properly."
"Nigel, you twit, we're holding hands, and I want to walk holding your hand, and," I gripped his as he seemed to try to pull it away, "I'm not going to let go. So walk, please. Walk with me."
"God, so we are!" He slowed down, and stopped seeming to pull his hand away. "I wish we could do this always." I heard the sigh. Not sad. Just a sigh.
"Maybe, one day."
"I mean now. Not just us. Any boys our age and in love. Or just boys who are good friends. Same way that two girls can hold hands."
I liked him when he got crusading. To be fair, I liked him whether he crusaded or not. We went together well. Fitted well. Nigel the almost brave one, and me the almost terrified out if his wits one. I told him that. He laughed. Laughed that quicksilver laugh. Infectious. I giggled along with him. He couldn't spot that I was how I described myself. He could see himself pretty well. I had a thought. "Why is it that a girl can have a girlfriend, and no-one says she must be a lesbian, but a boy can't have a boyfriend without being called gay?"
"Prat. If you have a boyfriend, you are gay."
We were walking slowly, now. Hand in hand, and we'd crossed to the left side of the road. Not far before we turned left into the road where he lived. "You know that isn't what I meant." I struggled to explain myself, not realising that he was teasing me. "I mean a girl's friends can be her 'girlfriends', but a boy's friends are just his friends, not his boyfriends."
"Well," he said, stopping and because he stopped suddenly I was pulled round to half face him. "You're mine." And he kissed me. Suddenly. On the lips. Right under the streetlamp. In full view of any net curtains that might have been twitching if it'd been daylight. Not a deep kiss; not a long kiss; a simple kiss on the lips.
"Are you teasing me?" I'd realised that he was.
"No." But he was smiling.
"Rotten sod. Making me try to explain as though you were thick."
"Ah, but I am thick, remember? You're always top in every subject. I'm always bottom."
"I can think of a subject you've been top in."
"Christopher Jenkins you have a dirty, dirty, dirty mind!" We were walking again. Less than a quarter of a mile until his front door.
"I was thinking of rugger! What were you thinking of?" I was trying my best nonchalant voice and walking as innocently as I could. I failed. I burst into giggles.
"I love it when you giggle, Chris. And when you get all serious when I'm teasing you. You look so surprised every time you realise I'm teasing."
"You, Nigel Cropper, are the most bewildering, perplexing, awful, loveable, gorgeous, wonderful boy in the world." I was laughing at him as I struggled to speak. "I love you. All of you. Everything about you. Mind you, you're the one with the dirty, dirty, dirty mind"
"Is that everything including my dirty, dirty, dirty mind?"
"It's especially your dirty, dirty, dirty mind."
"Are you going to make love to me, then? Me and my dirty, dirty, dirty mind?"
"You don't know what I'm planning, yet!" I did. Oh boy did I know what I was planning. Didn't know if it was going to be a success, exactly, but I knew what I was planning.
"Will I be top in it?"
"That's your dirty, dirty, dirty mind again!"
"Yeah!" He sighed it out as a long breath. A relaxing breath. "But will I be?"
"Will I enjoy it?" He was smiling at me, and we were reaching his driveway, too. Either we'd been walking fast or the conversation had been so giggly we'd lost track of time or distance. Probably fast and giggly at the same time.
"I shouldn't think so for a minute!"
"Yep, that's me. Total bastard. As well as being the boy you love. And the boy who loves you. The boy who'd die for you if you just asked him to. Yep." It sounded serious, but it wasn't. I was giggling all the while. One of those daft conversations that sound to an outsider as though it's totally vital, maybe earth shattering, but was really a simple declaration of my love for him.
"I'm dying for you right now." He had his key in the lock, and the door was opening.
"Me, too. For you." We were inside, in the darkness of the hallway. No lights on in the house, no curtains drawn in the loving room. Nor upstairs. No light. Just darkness and hands. And his mouth as his lips found mine. And as his tongue fought with me to gain supremacy.
"So, what have you in mind?" No idea how he managed to speak, with our lips locked together. None. He pulled back to see my answer
"You'll find out," I half thought back at him, half spoke. He was in my arms, looking at me like a puppy, eyes wide, mouth smiling.
"Anything, Chris. Anything you like. Except... "
I knew what the 'except' was.. Already knew. I'd always known, somehow. We all have our private, secret rooms, I suppose. His wasn't the same as mine. I knew my Nigel didn't need the same as I needed. Knew he didn't have the same need to be owned. Knew that the pain I needed, knew now that I needed, wasn't something he wouldn't ever need, nor ever want. "I know, my love. I know."
"How?" He was looking at me. Somehow he seemed smaller. He wasn't. We were the same height. A trick of the evening.
"You own me already. And in your way you already let me own you. I've owned you since the day you fell in love with me, though I never knew it. And not all of that time has been nice for you. You don't need even the least mark of me on you." I was using my thoughts as words. Not very well, I thought. I tried to make it more sensible. "I mean, I needed you to hurt me. Sometimes I will again. All my life. Just a little, and just enough to show me how much you love me, er, I mean that you love me enough to make it hurt sometimes. I don't think you'll ever need that. I saw your face and what it took for you to do what I needed." I was looking into his eyes. There was enough light in the dark hallway for me to see that he'd seen that I understood.
"I didn't want to, Chris. I hated the idea of causing you even the smallest pain. I hated it when I started. I did it because you asked me to. Only, well, I got carried away because you felt so wonderful. And I saw your eyes. I knew it hurt you, but your eyes said 'harder'. They were glowing. Suddenly I knew, then. It's so hard to explain. I don't have the words." He didn't. No-one would. This didn't come in words. It came in touch, and look, and electricity between us. "How did you know?"
That was the weird thing. I hadn't known. And I'd always known. No, that's not right. I had no idea. I just had suddenly known with all my being that I needed him to do what he'd done for me. Knew I was always going to need it. I tried to put it into words. Only what came out of my mouth was pathetic. "I just knew," I said. "Suddenly I just knew."
"Whenever you need it to be like that again... "
"I'll tell you, my love. I'll tell you. But right now I want to do something which should be rather good fun. At least I hope it will."
"I'll show you when we get upstairs. If it isn't fun it'll at least be hilarious!" And I started to unhook my arms from his, ready to lead the way upstairs.
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Section 28 of the United Kingdom Local Government Act 1988 MUST go. Those who want it kept say that it stops our kids being "taught to be homosexual". Well I have a son, a teenage son. If you read my life story on the website you'll see and understand. My son knows I am gay. It hasn't made him want to try being gay out. You don't try it out, however well informed you are, you just don't. And he's well informed, because I answer any questions he asks me. Being unstr8 is one thing; choosing to be unstr8 is quite another. Of course it must happen, but it is so rare as to be statistically irrelevant. Section 28 is about scaring good teachers away from helping the kids who need their help. This is a bad UK law. If you want to join the campaign against it, there is a page on my website, accessible from the home page. Please join this campaign. Whatever country you live in, please join the campaign.