Chapter Six - Bit's of the Past,
Hints of the Future
Mr. and Mrs. Thompson had been phoned and given the news while Chris went to pick up his cousin. Dianne had calmly explained the circumstances to the nearly hysterical Mrs. Thompson as Mr. Thompson listened on in a state of extreme excitement. They had both been shocked to hear that Alexander's discovery came in the wake of his attempted suicide, but were never-the-less grateful that their son had been found. Having intended to fly back from their meetings on Sunday anyway, the two decided that they would continue as planned, and merely asked to speak with Alexander for a few minutes if possible. Alexander, a bit overwhelmed at finding himself a beloved member of an extremely wealthy family was barely able to utter more than three syllables to his parents. Sensing his son's discomfort, Mr. Thompson cut the conversation short and promised that on Sunday they would all gather together as a family and talk so that Alexander could have a chance to get comfortable with his surroundings first. Alexander gratefully agreed, and with Mrs. Thompson's reluctant consent the conversation was ended
Alexander, who had been linked to Chris the entire time, had allowed Chris to listen in on the conversation. Chris went 'silent' for a short while, a bit surprised at his parents show of emotions. Alexander sensed that there was something of a gulf between Chris and his parents, but did not want to intrude on his new brother's life any more than he already had. By mutual consent they tuned down their connection so that they could no longer hear each other.
Alexander, still very week from the accident, was quite worn out and almost immediately fell asleep once he had relinquished the connection. The elderly nurse, who had accompanied Dianne and Alexander to the Thompson Manor, checked the machines set up in the room and around the bed, told Dianne that all was well, and retired to the guest room that had quickly been prepared for her so that she would have somewhere to stay during the day while Alexander was not in need of her.
Throughout the house the servants were abuzz with the news. Alexander found, and the Sir and Madame home in a few days to welcome their long lost son. Rumor among the servants had it that this time Mr. and Mrs. Thompson would be coming home to stay. Whether or not this rumor had any founding in reality remained to be seen, but it was exciting none the less.
The Sir and Madame were beloved employers, always fair and always kind, treating their employees more as friends and equals than as servants. Even Jake, the ground's keeper, could always talk to them as an equal with no fear of reprimand or reprisal. Of course he never did, he was a student of the 'old school' and was certain that to talk to his employers as equals would be to court the wrath of the Gods. It was enough for him to make the lawns and gardens look like Eden, to keep the pool as clear as a priceless gem and to nod his head respectfully when ever someone set him a task. Today Dianne had made a request that the grounds look especially good on Sunday when the Sir and Madame returned. He had nodded his head in respect and agreement, fetched Mark from the servant's quarters, and gone out to the gardens which he had groomed so carefully that morning, intent on finding some way to make them even more perfect. Mark, knowing of his supervisor's insistent perfectionism, merely shook his head, put down the book he was reading, and went out to help. He too was grateful to have such generous employers.
As they worked in the warm sun of the late afternoon, and on into cooling shadows of the early evening, Jake and Mark discussed the strange happenings of the last few days.
"First poor master Jamie is accosted by that vile bully," Jake said, fully aware of what that 'vile bully' had been accosting Jamie about, "and must be rescued-"
"A right fine job of it Chris did too! Dianne told me the story." Mark said, putting in his customary two sense and then closing his mouth as though that was all there was to be said.
"-She told us all at the same time you ninny. Anyway, as I was sayin, first the business with Jamie and the bully, and now master Chris has gone and found himself a twin brother what looks just like he's been dragged in out o' the gutter. I dare say, poor master Alexander has had a hard time of life, a right hard time and no mistake!" The old groundskeeper yanked especially hard on the first weed he had found all day, as though pulling it out forcefully would scare others of it's kind from sprouting up in his garden.
"Well that goes without saying." Agreed Mark. "Why, I heard Dianne say that poor master Alexander was only found 'cause Master Christopher's friend, Adam, done hit him with a car. Imagine that, all this time she's spent huntin' fer the poor boy, and Chris manages to find him by letting his friend hit 'im with the car." Mark, always one to see a situation from the most jovial point of view, spoke with a hint of laughter in his voice.
"Now don't you go disrespecting master Chris nor master Alexander! Or even masters Adam and Jamie for that matter. They's all fine boys, much finer than the likes of you or I."
Mark kept his own council on such matters. It would do no good to point
out to the old Groundskeeper that neither Chris nor Jamie thought of themselves
as better than Jack. Mark knew, he had heard them both say as much a number
of times, a few of those times within Jack's hearing as well. If Adam was
Chris' friend then it was likely he felt the same. And Alexander... Alexander
was a puzzle that remained to be solved, a new variable that was currently
unknown. Only time would tell how he would eventually fit into the picture.
Indeed, only time would be able to tell what that picture was at all.
As I drove towards Amanda's house to pick up Jamie, Alexander and I kept up a running dialogue. He told me much about his life in the streets, growing up a homeless orphan and a beggar. His life had been a hard one, full of pain and misery. But there had been joy and happiness as well. He, unlike so many of his fellows, found love. He had been trying to steal a man's wallet, or at least he had looked like a man from behind. When the man caught him, Alexander discovered that he was actually a boy, perhaps three years his senior.
This boy too was homeless, but unlike so many people he had a caring heart. He shared what little money he had, with Alexander, and took him to the small hovel he had found in a deserted warehouse basement. His name was Philip, and Alexander quickly came to love him. It was more than a year before Alexander realized that he loved Philip as more than a protector or a friend, and, completely unaware that his love could be forbidden by contemporary standards, he told Philip.
Philip, then eighteen, was shocked by Alexander's revelation. He too was in love with the then fifteen year old boy, but had never imagined that his love could be returned. Philip was also shocked by, first Alexander's willingness to reveal a love that could have gotten him beaten and thrown out-or worse, and second, by the realization that Alexander had no concept of the idea that his love could be considered 'wrong,'
For three years the two had shared a bed as well as their souls. In that time Alexander learned that in order to get what little money he had, Philip had been prostituting himself for almost five years. When he asked Philip if he should also try to make money in a similar way Philip refused to allow it. He said that he did what he did out of necessity - it was not necessary for Alexander to do so as well. He wanted Alexander to find something better. Never doubting Philip's love for him, Alexander had set out to do just that.
A week later Philip had been killed by a vicious thief. Gone, dead, ripped away in a bloody robbery, Philip had been taken from him. Unable to stay in that place where his lover had died, Alexander took to the streets.
For a time he turned himself to prostitution, even though he knew that Philip had wanted better for him. Because of his guilt he was unable to continue long, and in one desperate act he had tried to end his misery. The rest I knew already, for it was how I had come to meet him in the first place.
I noticed, as he finished telling me his story, that I was nearing Amanda's house.
'My God,' I thought to him, 'I never would have imagined. It's amazing you were able to survive any of that alive.'
'I know.' He said sadly. I then sensed surprise through our link.'Oh Chris, you're house is huge!! I can hardly believe it.'
'No,' I thought to him as I turned off the freeway and started navigating the streets of another San Diego suburb, 'it's our house. You live there too now!'
'I never would have imagined. And Chris, your room. It's huge too!!' The undisguised awe in his mindvoice almost made me laugh out loud.
'Well,' I thought to him, 'for now it's our room.'
'It almost frightens me Chris. The last time I was this happy was with Philip. I can't help but wonder if my demons will follow me into your happy world.' The awe in his mindvoice had been replaced with sadness.
'If they do, they'll have to deal with me too.' I would say I 'smiled reassuringly at him' but obviously he couldn't see it. The effect was much the same though.
'Oh no, Dianne wants me to talk to your parents... uh, our parents. What do I say?'
'You say hello.' I withdrew from his thoughts as he took the phone, thinking that perhaps he would want a bit of time alone. I was still able to hear his conversation, and had he asked I could have been right back with him. Mom was practically blubbering with joy, and dad expressed more emotion than he's ever expressed on my behalf in my entire life. I was very happy for Alexander, and overjoyed at the prospect of having a brother, but somehow I couldn't stop a slight tinge of jealousy from creeping slowly across my thoughts. Why hadn't my parents ever shown so much excitement over me?
I had turned up Amanda's driveway and was closing the door after getting out when Alexander gave the phone back to Dianne. 'Don't be jealous of me Chris.'
Yet again he had surprised me with his directness and perceptivity. 'I... I can't help it. I guess Mom and Dad love me, but if they do they never show it.'
'I'm sorry Chris. It looks like we have both been missing one of those things money cannot ever buy. Perhaps our circumstances are not so different after all.' The depth of emotion I felt coming from him as he said this overwhelmed me so completely that I nearly fell down again - only this time Adam wouldn't be here to catch me.
I could also feel that he was very tired. 'Perhaps you are right,' I conceded, 'but you are also tired, and you need to sleep.'
'Yes mother.' he replied, the smile extremely evident in his mindvoice. He gave me a mental hug, a concept that takes on a whole new meaning when you can so easily feel what someone else is thinking/feeling/experiencing. I returned the hug, and then our link faded. It faded, but it didn't break. I could still feel his awareness at the back of my own like the last breath of a gentle breeze against my consciousness, and I knew that if I needed to I could easily reopen the connection to talk to him.
With that done I took a breath, stepped out of my car, and prepared
myself for what was going to happen when I went into Amanda's house. It
felt uncomfortably as if I were preparing to go to battle completely unarmed
and against an extremely superior enemy. 'Oh well' I thought as I walked
up the path to her front door. 'Here goes nothing.'
I can barely describe the thoughts that were going through my mind as I checked out of the hospital and rode home in Mom's car. My mind was in some kind of daze, as though a fog had settled in to stay and didn't have plans to leave any time soon.
Much of the problem, of course, was trying to reconcile the idea that Chris had not only a brother, but a twin brother. Why that was causing me so much confusion I honestly don't know, but it was. Add to it the fact that I was the one who very nearly killed Alexander, albeit he did help a bit, and I was very unsure of where I stood with Chris and his new brother.
Another part, which seems kind of weird to me even now, was that every few seconds my mind would go back to the part of the scene in the hospital room where Chris had fallen into my arms and let me hold him; and had then let me pick him up completely (which was not a terribly easy thing to do, that boy is heavy!) and carry him over to the second bed in the hospital room. Just the feel of his body pressed so trustingly up against my own had sent shivers racing along my spine and down my arms, I had never before experienced such total reliance, such overwhelming trust from anyone. To tell the truth, I think it might have scared me a little bit, I wasn't sure if I deserved to be trusted like that.
And then of course there was the whole jumble of having to check out of the hospital which is a chore even in the best of circumstances, especially with their stupid wheel chair policy. Of course I was in no frame of mind to argue about the fact that I was perfectly capable of walking out on my own two feet, under my own steam, so I just sat meekly and let the male nurse wheel me out to Mom's car.
Mom caught me checking the nurse out as he made his way back into the hospital from the parking lot and raised her eyebrow. I came out of my fog just long enough to shrug innocently as I got into the passenger side door, and then was promptly pulled back into my thinking daze. Maybe she sensed that I was thinking about something, mothers seem to have a sixth sense about these things, or maybe she was thinking of things herself; whatever her reasons she didn't bring anything up, and the drive home was a comfortable silence between two people who didn't have anything really important to talk about at the moment and weren't uncomfortable in silence.
"Well honey," Mom said as she pulled into the garage, "what are you going to do now?"
"Chris said he had to go pick up Jamie, so he's probably going to be gone for a while; I think I'll look over the homework he brought for me and then call in about an hour or so," I replied as we got out of the car and made our way through the rather large garage towards the kitchen door. We may not live in a mansion like Chris does, but our house is still a bit larger than average. I suppose Mom could have afforde a bigger one if she wanted, but that house fit our needs more than adequately.
"Sounds like a plan," she said smiling. "Would you like me to make something to eat? Something other than hospital food?"
"You're a saint mom! I would love it." I opened the door for her and kissed her cheek as she walked passed. She smiled.
"Love you dear, now go study and I'll bring your snack up in a bit."
"Love you too Mom, thanks."
'Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.' The words raced through Jamie's mind like shards of ice in a blizzard, barely forming before being swept away. For the last hour he and Gareth had been sitting on the floor at the foot of Gareth's bed playing video-games. Every time Gareth won, he did a little victory jump and, almost by coincidence, came down a fraction of an inch closer to where Jamie was sitting.
Abruptly, almost without warning, Gareth declared he was tired of video-games and got up to put on a movie. Gareth had refused to tell Jamie what the movie was, and when he sat down again he was so close to Jamie that the golden haired boy had even more trouble concentrating on the movie than he'd had concentrating on the video-games.
All through the opening credits Jamie's thoughts were a jumbled mess. The only light in the room was coming from the TV, and a small gap between the heavy curtains covering the window in the wall at the far end of the room. Gareth was sitting so close to him that he could feel the other's body heat radiating out like a wave.
Words ricocheted through his head. 'Is it possible?...is he?...he's so beautiful, I wish I could touch him...' With the last thought he felt his left hand trying to rise up and stroke Gareth's smooth, tan colored cheek. Almost too late he realized what was happening and slapped his hands down onto his legs, staring straight ahead at the television screen, his traitorous eyes wanting desperately to look back at Gareth.
Fore nearly ten minutes he stayed like that, nearly shaking from his desire to look, very nearly reaching out to touch the young boy sitting next to him, the young boy so unaware of his desire.
Had Jamie been able to see into Gareth's thoughts he would have cursed himself for a fool. All afternoon Gareth had been trying to think up some way of getting Jamie to touch him. The movie had been a desperate thought, an excuse to turn out the lights so Jamie wouldn't see the desire in his eyes. He wasn't even sure what movie it was he had put in the VCR.
When he had seen Jamie's hand begin to rise in his peripheral vision, hope had taken flight on angels wings, only to come crashing back to earth in flames when Jamie pulled back and appeared completely disinterested in him.
Gareth's face was turned towards the television screen, so that at a glance he would appear to be watching the movie. His eyes however, were glued to Jamie's small form. He stared at Jamie's hand, willing it to rise once more and stroke his cheek. He moved his eyes up Jamie's arm, marveling in the perfection of the smooth skin that eventually disappeared beneath a loose, light blue T-shirt. His eyes followed the cloth over the curve of Jamie's shoulder and up to his neck, traced the smooth lines of Jamie's face with a glance, and longed to kiss his pale, perfect lips. Slowly he raised his eyes to the level of Jamie's own, and saw a bare flicker of movement as Jamie glanced at him. He stared at Jamie's eyes, searching for another clue. He was about to give up when, finally, he saw a flicker of movement. Slowly Gareth turned his head so that he was staring openly at Jamie's face. Patiently he waited for Jamie to glance at him once more. It was a long wait, but finally it happened.
Jamie's head turned imperceptibly and Gareth caught his breath in anticipation. Jamie's eyes flickered, and Gareth capture them with his gaze. Momentary fear flashed in Jamie's light blue eyes as he realized he'd been caught, confusion and despair warred within as well, and beneath it all, behind even the slight flicker of pain, Gareth saw the barest light of desire, the smallest spark of hope. They were fragile sparks, flickering on the edge of extinction, but they were there.
Very slowly, never once breaking eye contact, Gareth extended his right hand and ever so gently placed it on the hand Jamie had glued tightly to his thigh to prevent himself from touching Gareth's cheek. Once more fear shot into Jamie's eyes, but this time the hope and desire were blazing as well.
Again, words raced through Jamie's mind as Gareth's hand came to rest upon his own. Questioningly he stared into the dark depths of Gareth's eyes, and in them he saw desire and passion. His young mind could hardly grasp what was happening, but of one thing he was sure. He wanted this to happen, he wanted Gareth just as much as Gareth wanted him.
Jamie jerked in surprise when the TV suddenly went blank, plunging the room into a twilight darkness. He couldn't see, and he tensed in apprehension. He felt a warmth slowly approaching his face, and then felt a gentle hand cupping his cheek. Slowly he pressed his own hand up against Gareth's, leaning his head more firmly into the gentle hand as he sighed in happy contentment. Gareth's first hand left Jamie's leg and was soon pressed up against his other cheek so that he was cupping the supple face in both hands.
Shifting his body, he was soon kneeling astride Jamie's legs, their two faces bare inches apart. Slowly he leaned forward, slipping one hand behind Jamie's neck as the other felt it's way down his back. Jamie's hands came up around Gareth's waist and the two were soon so close to each other that they were breathing each other's air. Gareth's mind was filled with anticipation. He desperately wanted to kiss the obviously willing boy beneath him, but he didn't want to scare Jamie away either. The decision was made for him though, when he felt Jamie's grip on his waist tightening. Jamie's head came forward the barest fraction of an inch and all that remained was for Gareth to close the infinitesimally small gap that remained. With a slow intake of breath he did so, and found to his delight that Jamie's lips were even more wondrous than he had dared to imagine.
Jamie tasted to Gareth of summer sun shine and spring breezes and fun and laughter and all the things that are good in the world. His vision blurred in breathless shock, and he closed his eyes. Jamie's body was now pressed hard against his own as each tightened their grip on the other.
Slowly, like a bear awakening from it's long winter hibernation, the kiss ended and the two boys opened their eyes. For Jamie it had been just as wondrous an experience as it had been for Gareth. Gareth's lips had tasted to him of apples and sharp, sweet spices, of passion and excitement, of pure exhilaration, and somehow, of lust.
As they came out of the kiss each stared into the other's eyes; blue into nearly black, and both saw mirrored in the other a lifetime of pain and loneliness, wishes and dreams. So many wishes unanswered, so many dreams destroyed... perhaps this one, of them all, could come true.
Somewhere in the back of both boy's minds they heard the unmistakable sound of a doorbell, but neither of them were thinking coherently enough to realize what it meant. Moments more passes as they simply stared into each others eyes. Almost as if on some hidden cue, each moved towards each other once more, closing their eyes as their lips met. After a few moments Gareth felt Jamie's mouth open very slightly in an unmistakable invitation. Almost reverently he ran his tongue over Jamie's lips, very slowly working up the courage to slip all the way in, and was again surprised that someone could taste like summer or spring, let alone both at the same time.
Footsteps sounded outside the door, but went unheard. The handle jiggled,
but remained unnoticed. It was only as light flooded into the darkened
room, nearly blinding the two boys, that they realized, to late, what the
danger might be.
The sound of the door bell coming back at me from the closed front door of Amanda's rather large house sounded far too much like the sound of a church bell tolling the news of a funeral. Kind of melodramatic I know, but that's what I was thinking. Thoughts like that are the result of reading too much I guess.
About a minute later Amanda opened the front door herself, all smiles and sunshine and happiness. Normally that's a good thing... isn't it?
"Hi Chris," she said smiling brightly at me. I would have smiled back and said something appropriate, but before I could even blink she had grabbed my hand and dragged me into her house, slamming the door behind us as she then proceeded to pull me up the stairs.
"Amanda," I finally managed to get out once we made it to the landing at the top of the stairs, "where are you taking me?"
"Shhhh!" She shushed furiously, putting her finger over her lips, and then continued in an excited whisper, "I think they're about to kiss!"
"'Who' do you 'think'?" She said, dragging out the word 'who' as she nodded her head towards a closed door with a 'PRIVATE' sign tacked up in the middle. It could only be a teenagers room.
"You're spying on them?" I said in an incredulous whisper. "Amanda, that's not right!"
"Well of course I'm spying on them," She said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, "I set them up, I want to see if it takes."
"Amanda," I said disapprovingly, "that's not right and you know it. Besides, I really have to go, so I need Jamie now." With that I took hold of the doorknob, turned until I couldn't anymore, and pushed the door open. The scene that met my eyes left me nearly as shocked as it did Jamie and Gareth. There, not five feet away from me, Gareth was kneeling over my cousin, who had his body pressed up off the floor against Gareth's, and they were engaged in the most passionate kiss I think I have ever seen. Little Jamie, who almost came up to my shoulder but not quite, had his arms wrapped around Gareth's waist and was holding himself up off the floor as Gareth's tongue explored his mouth.
"YES!!" Amanda yelled in delight, jumping up in the air and throwing her fist up in triumph.
As for me, I just stood there staring stupidly as the two boys reacted to the sudden flood of light into the previously dark room by going from down on the floor with not even a hair's breadth of space between them, to standing up at least two feet away from each other in what seemed less than half a second.
Jamie was just staring at me in surprise, his golden hair mussed and his lightly tanned cheeks flushed a bright red. All the color drained however when Amanda walked into the room.
Gareth, on the other hand, was practically blubbering from the start. Several times he started to say something that sounded like 'It's not what you think' or 'We were only experimenting'. Eventually though, after about what must have been an eternity to him but was really less than fifteen seconds, he just stood there, his already small form looking even smaller as he slumped in on himself in apparent defeat. All this time Jamie had been staring at Amanda while getting paler and paler.
Then it dawned on me. Gareth was aiming all his explanations at me, and Jamie was terrified of Amanda. Gareth was only scared of 'me.' Amanda already knew about him, but as far as he was concerned I might be as bad as Gregg had been to Jamie. Jamie, on the other hand, was staring at Amanda as though she had suddenly sprouted horns. The moment I realized what was going on I started to laugh. The same idea must have dawned on Amanda at about the same time because she began to laugh as well.
Jamie glared at me in exasperation, and Gareth did the same to his sister, and then each of the two boys shifted their gaze to the other of the laughing fools and looked on quizzically.
"Don't worry Jamie," Amanda said, the first of us to come out of our laughing fits, "your secret's as safe as Gareth's is."
"Well, well Goldy Locks," I said to Jamie, still trying to choke down my laughter, "looks like I was right. Couldn't even wait a whole day to jump his bones could you?" In response, he just glared at me harder. Because he was so busy glaring at me he didn't see the dazzling smile that covered Gareth's face as he realized that he wasn't going to be killed by an outraged older cousin. In what must have been pure excitement he flung himself at Jamie, causing them both to fall backwards onto Gareth's bed. The dark haired boy could be heard smacking his lips as he covered Jamie's face with little star kisses.
Jamie, apparently dissatisfied with such kisses, grabbed Gareth's face and planted his lips on Gareth's own. I would have waited for them to come out of the kiss by themleves, but since it was still going about a minute later, I coughed respectfully. Gareth reluctantly pulled up and away, and Jamie looked over at me while still lying on the bed. "Really Chris," he said in mock indignation, "do you think we could get some privacy here?"
"No, you couldn't." I responded smiling. "I don't know how I would explain it to your parents if I brought you home pregnant. 'I really don't know how it happened ma'am. He went over to his friend's house, just to play he told me, and now-' Ooomph. Well if your going to throw pillows you can walk home."
"Do you have to go?" Gareth said pleadingly, looking at me with the biggest puppy dog eye's I've ever seen in my life.
"Wow, if I didn't absolutely have to go that look would so work. How do you do that?"
His smile returned instantly. "That's my secret. Well Jamie, if you have to go..." With that he leaned down, pulled Jamie up to his feet by the hands, and gave him one final kiss goodbye, which of course lasted longer than the previous kiss. Just as I was about to cough again they pulled away from each other. "See you tomorrow Jamie," Gareth said dreamily, staring into Jamie's eyes while wearing a smile that very nearly split his face in half.
"See you tomorrow..." Jamie responded, equally as lost in some private dream world.
"Jamie." I said gently, pulling on his arm. "Come on, let's go."
I tried explain to Jamie about Alexander while we were in the car on the way home, but between the fact that Jamie's head was in the clouds half the time, and and I could practically see images of Gareth circling around it the other half, I didn't think he was paying too much attention, if any at all. After trying to get him to listen to me for the third time I gave up and we rode the rest of the way in happy silence, me thinking about Alexander and Jamie with a dreamy, half asleep smile on his face as he slumped happily in the passenger seat.
"He kissed me, he kissed me, HE KISSED ME!!" Jamie shouted happily as he ran from the car to my front door once I had pulled into the driveway and managed to snap him out of his half daze. I followed at a slower pace and met him half way up the path as he came rocketing back down the path towards me, a streak of golden hair glittering in the sun above the loose fabric of his baggy blue shirt. With a final running step he yelled at the top of his lungs, "GARETH KISSED ME!!," and then he leapt into my chest, wrapping his arms around me in sheer excitement. Smiling happily I caught him up in my arms, and swung him around to keep us from falling over. "He kissed me Chris, he actually kissed me..." No longer shouting, he trailed off as his eyes unfocused and his mind went off to relive that moment again. I smiled and set him down, still grinning, and took his hand to lead him to the door.
What's all the commotion?" Dianne asked curiously, looking from me to Jamie as we came in and closed the door. "First I hear shouting, then someone pounds on the door, and then more shouting. Is everything alright?
I smiled down at Jamie, who's only response was to grin back up at me sheepishly. I looked at Dianne and said, "Jamie made a new friend." Then, turning back to Jamie, "Isn't that right Jamie?"
"My heavens's," Dianne said in pretend shock at Jamie's response to this, "I don't believe I've ever seen anyone turn quite that shade of red before." I nearly died laughing and Jamie got to use his patented glare on me once again.
"So," Dianne continued speaking to Jamie as my giggles continued, "is he cute? Did he kiss you? What's his name?" If Jamie had turned red before, now his entire face went crimson - from the neck of shirt to his hairline. This time however, he responded to my laughter by punching me in the side. The combination of the punch, my surprise that he actually hit me, and the fact that I was nearly falling over anyway all caused me to collapse. Even flat on my back I continued to laugh.
"Well???" Dianne prodded, not letting Jamie off the hook as she continued to ignore me completely.
Jamie's grin suddenly split his face. "Yes, Gareth is cute, and yes he kissed me. He kissed me, he kissed me, he kissed me, HE KISSED ME!"
"Oh! That's wonderful Jamie!" Dianne said happily, pulling him into a congratulatory hug. "Now," she continued, still holding onto his shoulders, and then pulled his head forward to whisper something into his ear. Jamie's grin became very mischievous, and they both turned to look at me. Both their grins became much less innocent, and Jamie said, "Yes, let's tickle him," and followed the suggestion by surging forward, follow closely by Dianne.
With a cry of surprise I leapt up and took off down the hall towards
the kitchen and the back door. That huge garden of Mother's was going to
come in handy for a game of hide and seek.
It was some time later, as we all lay in a pile gasping and laughing from the game and from being tickled (Jamie is almost as ticklish as I am. Dianne isn't ticklish at all, and curse her for it!) that I remembered I was supposed to call Adam when I got home. I pulled them both up with me as I stood and we all made our way towards the kitchen door.
"Ahh, there you are." John said to us as we reached the door. "Jamie, your father is here. He says he figured you'd be here and decided to stop by on his way home from work. He's waiting in the foyer.
"Ok." Jamie said. "By Chris, see ya Dianne."
"Bye cuz, see ya tomorrow."
"Good bye Jamie, be good."
"Kay, bye." And then he ran off shouting 'Dad,' answered by his father's voice saying, 'Hey there sport.' Then the door opened, and closed and they were on their way to their house.
I figured since I was in the kitchen and hadn't eaten since lunch I
ought to get myself some food. After all, it was about seven thirty and
I was rather hungry. In fact, I realized once I thought about it, I was
starved. I got the bread out of the cupboard, pulled a bunch of stuff out
of the fridge and set about making a killer sandwich. As I was working
on my sandwich I grabbed the phone in the kitchen and dialed Adam's number.
'Finally,' I thought when I heard Mom saying the phone was for me, 'he's home!'
"Hello?" I said as I picked up the phone in my room.
"Hi Adam, what's up?" I heard Chris's voice respond over the phone.
"Not much, you?"
"I'm making a sandwich. Jamie just went home and I realized I was starving. So, you think your mom will let you come over so we can go over that homework I brought you today?"
"Ya. She already said it was cool."
"That's cool. See you in a bit then?"
"Yup see ya soon. Just gotta grab my books and I'll be outa here."
"Cool. Oh hey, while I've got all the stuff out, do you want a sandwich? Or have you eaten already?" Oh wow, he's so sweet!!! (Yes I know, but like I said: I'll go insane anyway so I may as well just resign myself to thinking that way.)
"Actually that sounds great, I had a bit of a snack earlier but I'm famished again. See you in a few minutes."
"Mom," I yelled as I grabbed my books and headed down the stairs, "can I take your car over to Chris's house?"
"Yes dear," she replied handing me the keys as I went through the kitchen and into the garage.
"Thanks!" And then I was out the door and on the way.
The sandwich Chris had made was wonderful! It was huge too, and had things in it I couldn't have named if I tried; I decided to just enjoy it and not ask what was on it.
"How's the sandwich?" Chris asked after a few moments of silent eating.
"It's great," I replied after a second - I had to swallow before I could answer.
"Glad you liked it." he said smiling. I looked down at the plate he'd handed me with the sandwich and realized it was empty.
I looked at up at him and smiled. "Like I said, it was good." He just smiled in return and pushed his plate to the side as he got up.
"Let's go see if Alexander is awake. We can keep him company while we do our homework."
"Are you sure?" I asked a little warily. "I don't think he likes me very much."
"He just doesn't know you," Chris smiled, "give him time."
I looked at Chris questioningly for a moment, but he had already started towards the stairs and his room. He spoke with the assurance of someone who had known Alexander all his life, yet he had only met him that afternoon. Thinking quietly, I followed Chris to his room.
"Hi Alexander," Chris said after we had both entered the room and closed the door. "Are you feeling alright?"
"Well enough, considering." A small smile appeared on his face when he looked at me. It was a strange smile. His eyes said he was happy that I had come, but the smile on his lips and the set of his face made him look as though he were weary beyond exhaustion. He sat erect, his back supported by a small mountain of pillows so that he was sitting up, and his head held high by sheer force of will.
"Hello Adam," he sad turning to face me and extending his right hand as his face took on an expression I can only describe as solemn. "I must apologize to you for what I did."
Quietly I stepped forward and took his hand. "No you don't. You just have to promise not to pull another stunt like that ever again."
"Deal." he said, smiling his tired smile and letting go of my hand after a firm shake.
"Good." Chris spoke gently from behind. "Now, shall we do that homework?"
I won't bore you by describing it in any great detail. I wish I hadn't had to bore myself with doing it, but sometimes one must put up with annoying things such as homework. The conversation was light and centered basically on nothing, although it did touch a few substantial points here and there. It roved all over from the merits of the assignment we had in English to how we were going to expand our assignment in Drama and even included a bit of really juvenile joking around about the wind speed velocity of coconut laden swallows. (Don't ask me how we got to Monty Python, I have no idea.) An interesting point though... neither one of us ever brought up the topic of girls. Well, except that he mentioned Amanda when he told me about what happened when he went to pick up Jamie, but that was as close to the subject as either of us came all night.
Eventually, at about ten, Dianne came in and said that it was probably time for me to go home since we both had school in the morning - plus my mom had just called and said basically the same thing. It was ok though, because we had finished our homework nearly and hour ago and had spent the remaining time continuing to talk, with the occasional bit of input from Alexander as well. Chris said he'd walk me out to my car, as I was gathering up my books, and then we left his room with him leading the way down the stairs. He made a big production of pretending to be one of those stuck up butler types, even bowing and saying in a deep voice, "Allow me sir," when he opened the front door. I just laughed and walked out, followed closely by Chris's own laughter.
"Do you have two cars?" Chris asked me curiously when he saw that I'd brought my mom's car.
"Oh, no. I had to borrow mom's cause I haven't picked mine up from the impound yet. That nice cop hasn't given me the all clear yet. Which reminds me," I said as I put my books on the passenger seat and closed the door, " I need a ride to school tomorrow." Big blaring lie, I could easily have asked mom for a ride. "Do you think you could stop by my house in the morning and pick me up?"
"Sure, no prob. I'll be there about ten after seven, okay?"
"Sounds great, I'll see ya then."
"Can you see it as easily as I can?" Alexander said quietly to Dianne after Chris and Adam had left the room.
She started at his question, and looked at him silently for a moment. "Yes," she said truthfully, "I can."
"Have you told either of them?"
"No," she responded slowly. "I think perhaps it's one of those things that must be allowed to grow in it's own good time."
"I agree." Alexander stated in his quiet voice. "But can you see the hidden pain behind his eyes? Chris needs him more then either of them realize. I don't think Chris has admitted it to himself, I don't even know if he's capable of recognizing it, but he's so desperately in love with Adam it almost hurts him. It could be dangerous."
"True. But rushing them into something could be equally as dangerous. Here now, let me help you with those pillows so you can go to sleep. Chris will be back in a moment, and you need him as well. I can see that too."
Alexander smiled as Dianne helped him to sit up while she removed the extra pillows from beneath his back, and then gently lowered him to the bed. She was right of course, he did need Chris.
He lay in the large bed looking up at the ceiling of the darkened room after Dianne left, and thought. They weren't conscious thoughts, they weren't thoughts that held any especial weight or meaning, he just let himself wander through his unconscious with no direction or care as to where he was going.
Dimly he was aware of Chris coming back into the room. 'Hey there sleepy head' he heard in his mind. He smiled, he liked that Chris felt comfortable enough to call him nick names. He liked that anyone cared enough to give him one.
'Hi yourself.' He responded, and heard the shower turn on in the bathroom.
'How are you doing?' he heard after a short while, the water still running in the bathroom. 'Comfortable?'
'Very. Dianne is a wonderful woman.'
'Isn't she though?' The water turned off and he could see Chris toweling himself dry through the open door. 'Sometimes I completely forget that she's not my mother. She acts the part so well.'
'I'll bet she forgets it too. I don't think she's acting half the time.' Alexander watched in mild fascination as Chris pulled a brush through the damp mess that was his hair. He was surprised at how quickly it went from a tangled mess to a smooth cascade of black silk.
'Your probably right. Are you going to be uncomfortable if I sleep next to you?'
"No," Alexander responded aloud as Chris walked into the room wearing nothing but towel around Gareth's waste. "And you don't have to wear boxers to bed on my account," he said smiling, "I doubt you'll try anything... indecent."
Chris laughed happily. "True. Okay then, and thanks. I hate wearing boxers to sleep," and with that he removed the towel and threw it back into the bathroom. He walked around to the far side of the bed, and slipped beneath the covers. Resting his head in the crook of his right arm, he looked over his left hand at his brother. "Sweet dreams Alexander, and sleep well."
"You too Chris, you too."
That said, the two brothers closed their eyes, and for the first night in a long while, neither of them were troubled by disturbing dreams.
Far away, in the run down slums of the city, very similar to where Alexander had once made his home, a young man in torn jeans and an old dirty t-shirt walked the streets. He had nothing worth taking, no savings of money like Phillip had had, nothing more than what he wore. But the boy with the cruel hate filled eyes wasn't after money, and so neither were any of his small group of followers. They were out for pain, and they had just found a victim.
They had done this before and knew what they were about. Two of them stepped out of the shadows behind the young man as he passed, they made no noise and he was unaware of them. He had no concept of danger until two more stepped from the shadows before him. He slowed and stopped before the mouth of an alleyway. He turned towards it and found yet two more shadows had taken on shape and were coming towards him. When he turned towards the street to run he found that a single figure stood directly before him. He wasn't sure why, but somehow knew this figure was the leader. He was not surprised when he glanced the way he had come and noticed the two figures that were approaching him.
He'd heard of things like this happening before of course. One couldn't live in the slums for long and not hear about it. He'd even heard about Phillip and Alexander, although he hadn't heard the names, or even known them. Most everyone had heard that story by now.
"I don't have any money," he said, already knowing it wouldn't do him any good.
"We don't want money."
The young man had been right, it was the lone figure who had spoken. "Then what do you want?" He pleaded.
"Can we play with him a while?" One of the shadows asked from behind him.
"Please," he heard from his right, "can we?"
He turned his head to the right at the sound of the eagerness in the voice, and was almost surprised to see the hunger that gleamed in the shadowed eyes. He turned, looking at the figures behind him. Their eyes too were shining with a feral hunger, all their eyes were. All, except the eyes of the lone figure. His eyes held nothing but hate, a pure, unrefined, undisguised hate. When he'd first noticed the shadows in front of him he'd been nervous. When he'd discovered he was boxed in, he'd been scared. It was only now, now that he'd seen those eyes, that he felt for the first time in his life, the grip of total, unrelenting terror.
He screamed, and tried to run. Rough hands grabbed his wrists, arms encircled his legs and held tight, a pair of arms locked around his waist, another arm locked around his neck and forced his chin up so that he was staring into the hateful eyes. He struggled and thrashed against his captors, but it was no use. There were six of them, and only one of him. He'd never had a chance, and they all knew it.
"Yes," came a quiet voice. "You've all been very, very good." The young man was almost as scared by the voice, as he'd been by the eyes. It sounded as though it was talking to a pack of dogs, a group of favored pets. "You can play with him."
The boy with the hateful eyes watched in disgust as his followers degraded the young man. He couldn't understand how they could take pleasure in such a thing. Couldn't they understand that by taking pleasure in such a disgusting act, they were degrading themselves as well? But it was good for him that they did take pleasure in it. This was how he owned them; this was why they would never break that ownership. He had only to offer them this, if they ever tried to challenge him, and there eyes would glaze over in lust, with all thoughts of challenge forgotten.
He put his hand in his pocket and fingered the knife. Soon enough they would be done playing with their knew toy, and then it would be his turn. 'Soon enough,' he thought, and his eyes shone with a dark light, 'soon enough, I will do this to Chris.'