I knew when I looked through the site. You get a sixth sense about that sort of thing - there's a sort of sub text which you can decode .
The site was a boy band one, a fan site. The usual kind of thing - pics of the band, their latest records, where they'd been playing, clips to download. All straightforward fan stuff. Nothing unusual. Then biogs of the band members. And they were the give aways.
You see, when I read a story, a book, whatever, I can pick up the vibes. Certain vibes. The hero might be interested in the girl, and that's the way it's written, but something tells you the author is much more interested in another sort of relationship. I suppose you've got to be that way yourself to pick up the vibes. It was the same here. Sure, you don't write about groups unless you're a fan, and fans are by definition enthusiasts, but I reckoned there was more to it. You didn't use quite the phrasing that he did unless you were ... interested. Well, I thought it was a he. I went back to the main page and checked. Yes, Darren.
He had one of those 'cute' animated gifs saying "mail me". I looked at it. It looked as if it had come from one of those CD ROMs they give away on the front of computer mags. 1001 ways to brighten up your site. Oh well. I emailed him all the same.
"Liked your site about the band. Glad to see you're a fan of Marc's too."
Marc was the band's lead singer.
I pressed the cute little button saying SEND, not expecting much in reply. But twenty four hours later there was an email back:
"Glad you liked the site. Yeah, Marc's great, isn't he?"
Well, at least the guy had the courtesy to reply, even if it didn't say that much. I surfed through a few more sites after reading the mail, and just before I was going to log off, a little window popped up on the screen. Did I want to receive an Instant Message from darren21?
Well, why not? No harm in that. I pressed the YES button.
"Hi. Thanks for the reply"
"OK. So, you like the band?"
"Yeah. Not bad"
"I have all their CDs"
"I've 2 of them"
"Only 2? You can't be a serious fan then"
"So you think Marc's cool?"
"I think he's cool!"
I stopped and looked at that one. I thought about it for a minute. Then, recklessly, typed: "I don't think you mean that"
"What do you mean?"
Even more recklessly: "I think you think he's not cool but hot"
There was a long pause. Eventually: "I don't understand"
"Nothing. Forget it"
"You think he's hot too?"
"Yeah - a bit"
"Not a bit - a lot!"
"Maybe - from his pics."
"I've some cool pics of him"
"Hot pics you mean"
I was typing things I would never have dared say out loud. Maybe I might have thought them, but never said them. Or written them. I was your archetypical repressed uptight in the closet teen, who had never said a word to anyone about what I really preferred.
"Yeah, maybe. You wanna see one?"
"OK then. Why not?"
"Wait" There was a pause, then he said: "Check your mail"
Sure enough an email from darren 21. I opened it and there was a pic attached. Download. Save to disk.
"You got it?"
"Yeah. It's downloading now"
The pic popped up. It showed Marc stripped to the waist, thumbs down the waistband of his jeans, smiling that smile of his at the camera. The pose was - well, he was right, it was hot.
"You like it?"
"Yeah. Hot all right."
"I've more like that. Send you them later. Gotta go now"
"Catch you later"
And with that he signed off.
I made a note of the name; added it to the buddy list.
The pics duly arived zipped together in an email. I unzipped them. He'd obviously picked the ones that appealed to him - and they appealed to me too. I looked through them slowly, carefully. I won't tell you any more than that. Not now, anyway. But then I went into My Computer. There is a folder which says: School Work. Another inside that one which says Old Homework. And then inside that one, another saying Drafts. And in Drafts there are all the pics which I hide away. Just in case little sis takes it into her head to rummage through the machine. You'd have to be sad to want to open folders with names like that.
Because I have to confess I do spend time on line trawling for pics. Don't say you don't do it too. You wouldn't be here if you didn't. And there are a lot of very smutty sites out there, most of which are frankly repellent. The sight of hairy men doing unmentionable things to each other at one end of the spectrum, to pics of small boys taken in all innocence which are then posted for perves to ... whatever.
Most of the pics that I save are ones where people are posing - but not necessarily for dirtyminded boys like me. And there's another folder hidden deeper where the pics are more .. revealing. I try and ration my visits there.
So the pics of Marc go into the relatively innocent folder. One corner of my mind often wonders what these people would think if they knew that people like me were perving over them. But on the other hand, people like Marc sell themselves on their sex appeal as much as anything else, so my conscience was eased. A little.
And the next time I was on line, he popped up again.
"Get the pics?"
"Thought you might"
We'd never said to each other "I'm gay", or "Who do you fancy?" or "Do you have a boyfriend?" or anything like that. But our conversation went on, and we were effectively comparing notes. So and so. Was he hot? And so on. We revealed a lot about ourselves without ever saying anything directly.
I knew nothing about him. I guessed he was English - must have been from his spelling. But that could also include Welsh or Scots or Irish. But somehow I had this feeling that he was English. No reason - just a feeling.
And then our conversation started veering on the more particular. What would I like to do with Marc? What would I like Marc doing to me? I headed away from that one, too uncomfortable with the turn of the conversation. He took the hint, steering things onto matters more general.
After all, I knew nothing at all about him except what popped up on the screen of the PC. Before I talked to someone about things like that - even anonymously over the web - I needed to know more about them. Not where he lived, or how tall he was, or things like that - just to know him as a person. And the view of people that you got over the web was, at the least, a distorted one.
But after that, we chatted most nights, and I suppose each time we became that liitle bit more relaxed about what we said to each other. Until one night he came on, and the first thing he said was: "GUESS WHAT?"
"They're playing in Nottingham next weekend!"
"Really?" I must admit that I wasn't that keen on standing in some theatre listening to them, surrounded by a load of teeny boppers. I wasn't that much of a fan. But for Darren it might have been different.
"Do you want to come?"
That gave me more pause for thought. Well, up to a point. But maybe not to listen to the band. Maybe - maybe meeting Darren might be interesting. Assuming he was a teen like me and not some fat old geezer. But then a fat old geezer was hardly like to be a pop fan. Even to try ensnare unwary teens like me.
"Can you get tickets?"
"I'll make sure I get tickets."
I took a decision. "OK then. Mail me when you get the tickets"
I didn't say: if you can get tickets. I didn't really think he'd have much chance with getting hold of any, but next night he was back on line: "TICKETS!!!!!!!"
"Right. Where and when?"
"Nottingham - the Playhouse. Saturday, 8 o'clock"
"OK. How are you getting there?"
"Train. Gets in to Nottingham at 1853."
I looked at that. It's a train time I knew. I would catch it myself once or twice when taking sis to visit an aunt and uncle who lived in Nottingham. But he hadn't said where he was coming from. Going north of Nottingham there was Newark, Retford, Doncaster. South was Grantham and Peterborough. I took a wild stab guess.
"That's right" Then there was a pause, and: "HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT?"
I grinned to myself. Pure fluke. But I wasn't going to tell him that. But that's where I was from too. Co-incidence, hey?
"They call me Sherlock"
"Yeah, right. How did you know that?"
"I told you. Sherlock"
There was a long long pause. Then: "Yeah, right. OK. So shall we meet at the station?"
"Fine. 7 o'clock? By the barrier to platform 8?"
Another long pause. "OK. And you owe me 15 quid for the tickets."
Then he signed off.
Well, well. Darren was from Newark too, then. There was a surprise. And we hadn't said how we'd recognise each other. Oh well. There couldn't be that many people hanging round platform 8 on a Saturday night.
If I was being honest, I wasn't very keen on the idea of going to Nottingham. Yes, I liked the band, but the idea of spending Saturday night with a load of screaming teeny boppers didn't appeal. Nor did the idea of fifteen quid plus the train fare. But if I was even more honest with myself, I think I was scared. Scared because although talking to people on the Internet was one thing, meeting them was another. And what that meeting might lead to. I mean, having fantasies in bed was one thing, but the thought of actually doing it with someone was another. And what did boys do in bed together? I wasn't very reassured by the goings on in all those Nifty stories. Somehow, I couldn't see myself doing those sorts of things.
So, as I sat in those lessons at College, I turned it over in my mind. Did I really want to go and meet him? Finding out he was from Newark too was another thing. I mean, if it all went horribly wrong, and we were from the same town, and I kept on bumping into him later ... On the other hand, if we hit it off, then ... it was all too difficult. I mean, how did one go from the step of saying to 'hi', to, well, mad passionate sex?
But despite all my worryings, I found myself at the railway station that Saturday evening, buying a ticket, and furtively scanning the platform to see if I could spot him as I waited for the train to come in. Not that he knew that I was from Newark too. But I couldn't see anyone likely. Well, I'd find out soon enough. At 1853 or thereabouts.
The train journey wasn't that long, so it didn't give me all that much time to think about it. When the train drew up at Nottingham, I took a deep breath, stood up, opened the carriage door. I walked down to the barrier, trying to look as nonchalant as I could. Then I saw him. Shit! I recognised him. I didn't know his name, but I knew his face. I'd seen him around college. Not that he was in any of the same classes as me, but I'd seen him around. Assuming that it was him, that is. But it certainly looked like him. A bright red shirt. Slighter in build than me - and I'm no Schwartznegger. Dark shortish gelled hair, blue eyes.
Then his eyes caught mine, and there was a moment of panic in his eyes, and he looked away quickly, pretending he hadn't seen me. He did recognise me then. I pushed through the crowd towards him, and he turned back.
His eyes widened slightly, and he answered: "Yes?"
He did a slight double take, then: "Right." He shuffled his feet, looking down at the ground, then back at me, with an attempt at a smile.
I smiled. "Ready for the concert?"
He swung into step as we walked away from the platform.
"Surprised?" I asked, dryly, as we walked along.
"Yeah, well, I wasn't expecting it to be you."
Nor me him, though I didn't say anything.
He had relaxed a bit by the time we got to the Playhouse. There was a gaggle of young girls outside, which put me off a bit. I didn't like being herded with that lot. He reached into a pocket, pulled out a ticket: "Here. Fifteen quid."
I reached into my wallet and passed over three fivers in return.
By the time we got inside, he had warmed up a bit more, lost some of that reserve. I think recognising me had been quite a shock to him: he was expecting a complete stranger, and instead got someone who went to the same college, lived in the same town. Someone who knew of his preferences...
It wasn't quite as crowded in the theatre as I had feared, though still close and sweaty enough. They began with a warm up band, who weren't bad, and did a few recent numbers ones quite well. Then the stage went dark for a minute or two, and then the lights came up to show the Icons. Whatever they played in the first few minutes was lost in the screaming, yelling, whistling.
And when Marc came up to the microphone, there was another outburst. I looked across at Darren: his eyes were shining, his lips parted. He looked quite good like that. Then the band started again, and live, they were better than I thought they'd have been. I could feel Darren next to me, his arms and body brushing up against me in that thin red shirt. But he was oblivious to anything but the band. I was beginning to find Darren more interesting.
They played for an hour and a bit. Then they started to wind down. I noticed that they'd got a routine for this: the audience didn't want them to go, so they played shorter and shorter bits. Marc started saying thank you for coming. How wonderful it was to be here. And so on. Gradually everyone got the message. The curtains closed. Even then there was such a noise that they all came out in front of the curtain; bowed, threw kisses at the audience, and all the rest of it. I suppose I was a bit cynical about it all.
And no one wanted to leave. Darren stood there, the sweat rolling off him, sticking that thin red shirt to his ribs. I was pretty sweaty myself. And when we got out into the evening air, it felt freezing. We walked back to the station, Darren silent, in an ecstatic trance.
Then when we got to the station, he looked at me with a little grin. "I suppose we're catching the same train?"
"How did you know I was from Newark?"
"A complete guess."
He looked at me, still uncertain about that, and shrugged.
We found a carriage which was fairly empty and flopped down, me on one side, him on the other. I was fairly knackered by the whole thing. He was still buoyed up by the excitement, though. Then he leaned back, his eyes closed for a moment. I could see that red tee shirt tighten against his chest.
As the train got underway, he started talking again.
"Weren't they fantastic?"
I nodded "Yeah."
"And Marc. Talk about hot!"
Then he stopped, realising what he'd said, then looked across at me conspiratorially. A slight smile came to his face. He leaned forward.
"Look - do you want to come round tomorrow afternoon?"
I looked back at him. From the look on his face, there might well be more to that than met the eye. I could feel that tightness in the chest again. Fear and excitement. I nodded cautiously. "Yeah. Why not? Where do you live?"
He told me: Linden Avenue. That didn't mean anything to me, then started describing it, and I recognised where he meant. Fifteen minutes walk from my place, I suppose.
I nodded again.
When we got off the train, he went to catch a bus. I decided to walk home - about a mile. He stopped before he left and said: "Tomorrow at two?"
"Yeah, fine," I told him.
I walked back in the light of the orange street lights, thinking about the invitation. As I say, I was deeply in the closet. But I did have those nightly fantasies in bed - and Darren would have fitted very nicely into most of those. And he didn't look the sort who'd be into anything nasty - and even if he was, I reckoned I could handle him. I was no muscle man, but he wasn't either. In fact, he was rather ... attractive. I'd seen him around college quite a few times, but not to speak to, and not to take much notice of. It was the boys in my own classes who populated those evening dreams.
I crashed out not long after getting back home - I was dead beat after all that. And since I got to sleep so quickly, I didn't indulge in any night time reveries ... just as well, really. I got up fairly late Sunday morning, too. Teens need a lot of sleep.
As I sat having breakfast, I turned things over in my mind. I mean, I might have been misreading things. It might be just a visit. It might be him wanting to show me his Idol collection. It might be him wanting to show me something else ...
So I told Mum and Dad at lunch that I was going round to this bloke's place that afternoon. Yes, he was at College with me, and yes, it was the bloke I'd been to the concert with. They were happy with that. They and little sis had no idea (I hoped!) about what I was really interested in.
So, after lunch, I set out. A jacket, tee shirt, jeans, boxers, trainers. Innocuous, inconspicuous. That's me. I walked along the main road and turned off as he described. Then Linden Avenue. I saw the number on the gate. Number 24. A semi built some years ago by the look of it, but modern enough. No car in the drive. A nicely mowed front lawn. I took a deep breath, marched up to the front door, rang the bell.
A shape came up to the glass, and the door swung open. There was Darren.
"Hi," he said. "Come on in," holding the door open.
I went in, took off my jacket as he closed the door. He took the jacket and slung it over the post at the bottom of the stairs.
"My room's up here."
I followed him up. I could hear the music - the Idols of course - but playing quite quietly. I stopped in the doorway. There were the inevitable posters on the wall, showing the group on stage, showing them lined up for their picture. One of Marc by himself. I could see the attraction. I looked round at them, then at him. He was standing in the middle of the room, looking back at me.
He hesitated, looked embarrassed for a moment, then said: "Parents are out. They've gone visiting Gran." I said nothing, raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, well, said I'd some work to do, I'd stay behind."
I suppose I couldn't help a small grin. He picked it up, and I could see the slight smile in return. He shuffled his feet slightly, still embarrassed. Work to do. Yeah right. He'd set this up. I looked at him again. Tee shirt draped over his shoulders. Jeans. And bare feet. Hmm. Not Mr Desirable but, well, I'd seen worse.
"So ..." I said, drawing it out.
"We're here by ourselves."
The smile almost began a smirk. "Yeah."
I think, like me, he was wondering what to do next and how to do it. He was obviously as innocent as me. And though we both might have minds brimming with lust, hormones raging through the blood, that first step was always the most difficult. Getting started. What did you do? I didn't want to do something gross like walking over and sticking my hand down his jeans. Pulling my tee shirt over my head was a bit blatant too. On the other hand, I couldn't see us getting into a smoochy clinch. The way he was looking at me told me the same thoughts were going through his mind too.
"So ..." I said again. He didn't say anything, just carried on looking at me. "Did you have any plans then?"
That produced what was almost a giggle. "Yeah," he said softly.
I raised an eyebrow again.
"Stop doing that," he said.
"You make me even more nervous."
I did it again. He gave me an evil look. Then "You're wondering what to do next," I told him.
He blinked. "Yeah, well."
I smiled. "You set this up. Any ideas?"
His Adam's apple bobbed up and own as he swallowed. He suddenly looked nervous. "Yeah. Some," he said. His voice was a bit hoarse.
"Tell me one."
He looked back at me. "Come here."
I thought about that. Then, summoning up courage, took two steps forward. We were quite close. In each other's personal space. His hand came up, hovered, fell back.
"Go on," I said.
Uncertainly, the hand came up again, took a grip of my tee shirt. Suddenly, I had a moment of panic. Did I really want to do this? Could I go through with this? He must have seen the look in my eyes, because he faltered himself, and I could see my own uncertainty mirrored in his face.
Then I took a deep breath and reached up a hand too. His tee shirt was loose though, unlike mine, which was tucked in. I took some of the material and pulled up it gently.
He said nothing for a moment, but I could feel his hand jerk slightly. Then: "OK."
I tugged upwards again, and he released his grip to raise his arms. I had to reach up, pulling up over his arms, tugging free as it came over his wrists and hands. I dropped it to one side as he slowly lowered his arms back to his sides. He looked down, not meeting my eyes. I looked at his bare shoulders, the slight tuft of hair under his arms. His arms, slightly goose pimpled. Then, abruptly, he grabbed my tee shirt, pulling it loose, pulling it up just as I had done. Then we stood looking at each other. He reached out, touched my skin. I shivered slightly. Then the flat of his hand. It was warm against my chest. Gently he slid it up and down. Now it was my turn to swallow abruptly as I felt myself respond. I reached up to put my hand on his arm, sliding it up to the shoulder. We moved closer.
I could feel the warmth of his body now, hear his breathing, slightly unsteady. Then he whispered: "Have you done this before?"
"No," I whispered back.
"What do you want to do?"
"Nothing ... too gross."
"Yeah." Then: "Is it all right if I ...?"
Then his hands moved down to the top of my jeans. I jumped again at his touch.
He stopped. "Is that OK?", a note of anxiety in his voice.
"Yeah," I whispered. "It's just that when you touched me ... you made me jump."
"Oh." Then his fingers grasped the top of my jeans again. He pulled the popper, fumbled for the zip, pulled it down half way. He fumbled again. I pushed his hands away, and wriggled them down to my ankles. I kicked off my trainers, kicked away the jeans, stood there. It was his turn to look at my body. Not one to be proud of, but not one to be ashamed of either. I could see the look on his face, not quite believing. And I knew what was being hidden in what was left. So did he.
But even then I was shaking with nervousness. I could see he wanted to reach out again, but was too ... shy? frightened? Slowly I reached out for him instead, and he stood there as I fumbled in turn with his zip. And he too kicked them away as they slithered down. Then he leaned over to his bed, flicked the duvet back, took my arm.
He pulled me in, pulling the duvet over us. He rolled on top of me, my legs between his. I could feel him through the boxers, as he could no doubt feel me. Then he pushed down, and we writhed together, rubbing ourselves hard against each other. He was panting. I reached down, but he beat me to it, leaning away and tugging at his boxers. I groped down to pull mine off. Then he was on top of me again, and for the first time ever I felt another body pressing against mine, hot and urgent. We groped and writhed together, pushing ourselves against each other. Then he drew back and reached down. I almost yelped as he touched me. He saw that, and with a smile, slowly began stroking, stroking ...
With his other hand he reached down by the side of his bed, coming up with tissues, a tube of cream. Now his hands, slippery with the cream, grasped me, stroking faster. I could feel my whole body arch upwards as I came as I had never done before. What I had done in bed each night was nothing compared to this. I collapsed, gasping. Dimly I was aware of him wiping me, then his weight as he lowered himself onto me, his breath in my ear, as he began to move himself back and forward, grunting now, then his head rising up, his eyes closed, as he came, hot and wet, on my stomach. Now he too collapsed across me.
I suppose we lay there for what felt like forever, until he rolled off me. We were both I suppose fairly sweaty. Then he raised himself up on his elbow, looked at me.
"God. It beats most Sunday afternoons."
He pulled the duvet back, and I saw him properly for the first time. I reached down, touched him. Like me, but not me. Touching someone else was very different to touching yourself. He looked at me again with a hint of smugness.
He reached out and touched me. And that was different too.
"Never done this before. Thought about it often enough," he said.
"Last night, at the station, I was scared shitless."
"By the look on your face. You saw me and you thought, he's going to find out."
"Yeah," he admitted. "I'd seen you around the College, but I didn't know who you were."
"So did I figure in these thoughts?" He looked at me and went red. "So I did."
"Well, once or twice."
"And then you realised who it was. And set this up." He grinned. "So did I fulfil your fantasy?"
We were getting more relaxed about being in bed together. He watched my hands roaming over him, then I could feel him beginning to respond. I stroked him a little more, and he lay back. Now it was my turn to reach for the cream, my turn to work on him, my turn to stretch my body across his.
And afterwards we lay side by side, not talking. Whatever I had expected of the afternoon, this had more than beaten it. All those nights thinking about it, dreaming.
"Do you want to visit again next Sunday?" he asked suddenly.
I looked at him. That confidence of his had turned to sudden shyness. "Yeah," I said. "Why not?"
Comments, criticisms etc: email The Composer.