Eric Down Under
Chapter One: Farewell and Welcome!

Eric Philips lay awake in his bed. It was already past midnight, but he couldn't sleep. In his head, there was muddle of different feelings. Nervousness and excitement, anticipated joy and also a bit of fear. Tomorrow, a new period of his life would start. No, not tomorrow, today, for it was already tomorrow. In about ten hours, he would get into a plane. He would leave his home in Germany to go down under, to Australia.

You ask why? Why did this poor guy have to leave his home, his family, his friends? Well, nobody had forced him, it was his very own decision.
About half a year ago, his English teacher had told his class about a government program which offered the possibility to go to school in other countries for one year. Canada, USA, New Zealand, South Africa - and Australia. Eric had been excited about this chance from the very first moment. He did not need to think whether he should go, only where.

Canada? Too cold for his taste.
USA? Too many crimes and violence.
South Africa? He didn't know anything about that country, neither good nor bad.
New Zealand? Too much like Europe, nothing really new.
So there was only one destination left: Down Under ... Australia!

Five minutes after the English class, Eric stood in his teacher's office and said 'I want to Australia!' He was sure that his parents would allow him to go. He was their only child, and they would do everything to make him happy.

And he was right. His parents agreed with him that one year abroad would be very positive for his independence. And it would be the very best way to improve his English.

There had been no problems for Eric to get a place in this program. He was the only one in his class who wanted to go. The others were all sort of cowards. They didn't want to leave. Some of them became already homesick when they only thought about being separated from their families for a whole year.

At that time, Eric had not understood such feelings. But now, less than a day before his journey, he could understand them very well. His nervousness had increased with every day, and in the past two or three weeks, he hadn't thought about anything else than Australia. But one thing he knew for sure: he would make this year the best time of his entire life!

Somehow Eric managed to find a bit of sleep, and he dreamed about kangaroos...

6.00 am. The alarm clock roughly terminated Eric's short period of sleep. He got up and went into the bathroom. A cold shower was the best way to bring his body back to life. He let the water flow over his head and stood there with his eyes closed for some minutes.

Eric dried himself and looked at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. He liked what he saw. A sixteen year old boy, almost 6' tall, with short blonde hair and steel blue eyes. His chest was well defined and you could see the beginning of a nice sixpack.

Eric had always been the girl's heartthrob. He could have had any girl he wanted. But to be true, Eric didn't really like girls, at least he didn't feel physically attracted by girls. As far as he could say, he was gay. But although he was quite sure about his sexuality, he would never admit it to anyone else, not even to his parents. In fact, his parents would be the last persons he could talk with about such stuff.

But now was not the time for such thoughts. Eric went back to his room to get dressed. He looked around his room to make sure that he did not forget anything important. There were his two trunks with most of the clothes he would need. He had agreed with his parents that he wouldn't take too much with him at first, so he would not have to pay too much for the excess luggage. And moreover, it would be summer in Australia right now, thus he would not yet need all the warm stuff.

Eric took the picture of his guest family, the Jacksons. Stanley and Amanda Jackson. He had looked at that photo very often, and he thought that they looked like very nice people. Of course they had exchanged some letters to learn a bit about each other. The Jacksons had three kids, so this would be another new experience for Eric, who was the only child of his parents.

The Jackson kids were Melinda, 18, Daniel, 16, and Adam, 14. Two of them, Melinda and Adam, were on the picture. Daniel, with whom he would probably spent most of his time, had taken the photo. He did not know how this guy looked, but that was not really important for him. Eric did not want to judge a person by the looks, especially not his new brother.

The Jackson family lived in Wollongong, some way south of Sydney. They had their own house in the outskirts, and he would probably share a room with Daniel, unless they really wouldn't get along with each other.

While he was lost in his thoughts, still looking on the photo, Eric heard his mother calling him to breakfast. So he put the photo in his backpack and went down to the kitchen to join his parents. His mom had made him a kingly breakfast, even if she knew that he did not eat much in the morning. But of course she wanted to make Eric's last hours at home as pleasant as possible.

She was happy for her son, but she was still a mother, and did not really want to let her son go away. If it had been only for a few weeks, or if he would go to another town in Germany, she would feel better. But a whole long year at the other end of the world, that was hard for her.

Eric's father had taken this day off to bring his son to the airport. He had no problems to let Eric go. Of course he loved his son, but he knew that a boy must learn some independence as early as possible. Thus he was content that Eric had taken the chance at once, and he was very proud on his son.

Soon it was time to leave. Mr. Philips had already loaded the car with Eric's baggage and was ready to go. He honked to call his wife and son out. Some neighbors had come out of their houses to say farewell to Eric. He had already said good bye to his friends yesterday. He sure would send them many e-mails, because phone calls from Australia to Germany would be quite expensive, and letters had a tendency to take too long to arrive, if they arrived at all. Thank you God for the internet!

They didn't speak much on the way to the airport. Eric's mom tried hard to avoid tears, and Eric himself had to fight with them as well. But until they arrived at the airport's parking area, he had shed some tears, if he wanted or not.

Eric quickly checked in as soon as the counter opened, because he wanted to get rid of his heavy baggage. He had to pay a bit for the excess stuff, but you can't go away for a year with only one piece of underwear.

The Philips went to the airport restaurant to wait until Eric's flight was called. He ate another sandwich and drank a coke. Somehow the excitement had made him hungry.

Then it was time to say good bye. A tinny voice came out of the speakers and asked all passengers to Sydney to go to the security check. Eric shook his dad's hand, but after a second, he hugged him tightly and kissed him on the cheek. Mr. Philips smiled and gave his son an envelope. Eric was not surprised to find some money in it.

"For emergencies. Just in case." Mr. Philips said.

Eric thanked him and put the envelope in his jacket pocket. Then he turned to his mom. She was weeping openly now and could hardly speak. But nevertheless, she gave him many last advice. You know, the sort of advice all mothers now.

"Be always polite to your hosts! Watch your looks! Don't start to smoke! Don't drink and drive! Say please and thank you!"

There was a lot more, and Eric, being a good boy, nodded and said 'yes mom, sure mom, amen' after every sentence. Then he promised to call directly after the arrival in Australia, as soon as he was at his new home. And of course he would offer his hosts to pay the call.

Eric waved his parents farewell and went to the metal detector where a security officer was checking the passengers. He put his backpack on the x-ray thing and went through the controls. Of course he had no problems getting through. Why should he take a gun with him?

After some more minutes of waiting, the passengers were allowed to enter the plane. He showed his boarding card to the guy at the exit and got into the bus which should drive him to the plane. Eric looked back at the big spectator's terrace and tried to find his parents among all those people. And indeed he could see them, his dad waving his handkerchief, his mom still with tears in her eyes. He made the victory sign towards them, turned around, climbed up the gangway and vanished in the huge jumbo jet.

The one stop flight was pretty uneventful. Eric slept a lot, making up for the lack of sleep last night. When he was awake, he watched some movies they showed, ate and flirted with the air hostesses. He was also allowed for a short visit in the cockpit, and the captain showed him how a plane stays in the air.

It was a long flight, but for Eric, it seemed like short distance flight. His heart started to beat a little faster when the plane got ready for the landing.
'Fasten seat belts!' - Checked
'Erect position!" - Checked
'Table fixed!" - Checked
The plane's wheels touched the ground, and Eric, for the first time of his life, was on a foreign continent. Well, at least if you don't count the short intermediate landing.

Slowly they reached the parking position, and Eric left the plane through the tunnel to the main airport building. He went to the baggage claim and waited for his two trunks. He was lucky and had not to wait very long. At first he had some problems to carry all his stuff, but a nice customs officer helped him with his baggage through the customs.

Then Eric stood in the huge airport building. He felt a little lost, even among all those thousands of people running here and there. But he knew that the Jacksons would be waiting for him somewhere, so he got on his tiptoes and looked around, when he heard the message from the speakers.

"Mr. Eric Philips, please come to the information desk, Mr. Eric Philips!"
Hey, good idea. At least better than a small sign in this crowd. Eric fought his way through all the people, dragging his baggage behind him. At last he came to the main hall with the counters of all the different international airlines. And at the other side of the hall, he saw the big 'I', the information desk.

Eric increased his speed, he finally wanted to meet his new family for the next twelve months. And there they stood, looking in the other direction. Five persons, so the whole family had come for his welcome.

When he had almost reached them, Adam turned around.


"Yeah, here I am!" Eric replied. "Hi, you must be Adam."

The rest of the family turned around and waved a 'welcome' sign. Suddenly Eric froze. His heart missed a beat. He had looked in the face of Daniel Jackson for the first time. And this guy was the cutest guy Eric had ever see. About his height, longish dark hair and bright green eyes. A greek god. He was lost in those eyes from the very first moment. This was love at first sight.

But that couldn't be. This gorgeous guy would be his brother. They would even sleep in one room. And there was no chance that this guy could be gay as well. No chance in hell.

Oh god, what should he do? He could already feel a hard-on in his pants. How could he hide his feelings all the time?

Eric had no time to worry anymore, for he was hugged by the whole Jackson family. He had to shake hands and got kissed by the ladies. When he touched Daniel's hand, Eric could feel some prickling electricity.

He still could not believe it. What should he do now. How should he live together with a guy, so close but yet so far. The year he had been looking forward to with so much hope and joy would now be hell on earth.

Or could there nevertheless be a chance for him to get happy?

Copyright 1999 by The Wolf