Go Your Own Way

John Hollingway

Part 1

Night in the village



This story is pure fiction. Although some persons in this story are images of people in real life, I do not express their opinions in any way. Anything in this story is made up in my head. This story deals with gay teenagers, and it may contain graphic sex or erotic scenes (although not really frequently). It is more about Coming Out than about sex, so if you just want to read a sex story - this is the wrong one for you. If you are offended by gay themed material, don't read it. If you aren't allowed to read it (legally or otherwise), don't read it either. Otherwise, enjoy!

This story is copyrighted by the author, all rights reserved. The story may be copied and printed for personal use, but may not be published without the written consent of the author besides on the original publishing sites (cornercafe.us and nifty.org).

Night in the village


'Damn alarm!'


'Hmmm....it is probably already about time for me to get up,' I thought. 'Well, perhaps I'll just turn over again, there's still a bit of time left.'

Probing cautiously, I slowly opened one of my eyes, just enough to not get dazzled directly. You see, the morning sun shines straight into my bedroom window, and I'm normally way too lazy to bother closing the blinds before going to bed in the evening. So I was sure the sun would be shining directly into my eyes, but as I slowly opened them, there were only the red digits of my radio alarm in front of me to be seen. 1:35 am, the display stated coldly.


It slowly dawned on me that it wasn't my alarm clock that woke me up so unceremoniously; it was the doorbell.

'Why the heck isn't anyone opening the door?' I thought groggily.

Then I remembered that my parents were out for the evening with Jan and Ingrid, and that it could be getting very late before they were back, so I was probably the only one at home.

I worked my way out from under the sheets and looked for my tracksuit bottoms. There was of course no chance that I would open the door in only boxers.


'Oh boy, whoever it is, they should have a REAL good reason for waking me up at this hour,' I thought.

But, to avoid any more confusion, I guess I'd better introduce myself. My name is Ingo Villard, I'm 16 years old and I'm living in a small village near Detmold. It's alright if you don't know this world metropolis, there's no need for you to know every little town in Westphalia. I finished my secondary school level this summer, and I'm now in the 11th grade, on my way to the A-level. I am just 1.73m tall, a bit small for my age, with short, blond hair that I usually wear spiked up, and I have blue eyes. I'm about 78 kg, so I guess I'm just about average.

Now let's continue with the tale:

I opened the door and a gush of cool autumn air swept over me. Outside I found two guys in green uniform and a woman who must have been around 30. Our door lamp lighted up the driveway behind them, and I could spot a police patrol car and a dark blue Opel Astra station wagon.

"Ingo Villard?" one of the officers asked while looking questioningly at me.

"Yes?" I answered in the same questioning tone.

"I'm Constable Schulte from the Detmold police station, and this is my colleague, Constable Wilmes. This is Miss Meinert." As he spoke, both police officers held up their badges, I looked briefly at them while at the same time trying to gauge the officers to get a hint of what was going on.

"May we come in?" Constable Schule asked.

"Why? I haven't done anything wrong!" I snapped back, still quite upset from having been wakened up at such an ungodly hour. And I knew I hadn't done anything, well maybe, but nothing but the few programs on my computer which I hadn't bought legally. But they wouldn't pull me out of sleep in the middle of the night because of that, would they?

"No, no, this isn't related to you, well, I suppose in a certain sense it is, but you haven't done anything wrong, so you don't need to worry about that. May we come in?" he asked again.

I eyed the officer suspiciously again, but I couldn't see any hostility towards me in him. His look was more the one of someone that had to do something he dreaded. During our entire talk, he had fumbled with his cap that he had held in front of himself. No officer would have acted this way if he had was prepared to arrest someone, or to execute a search warrant. At least the police officers in the TV dramas didn't behave like that, and that was really the only knowledge I had of how the official police force worked, up until now.

I stepped aside and showed them the way into the hallway. "Please, just go straight ahead into the living room."

While they were walking though the hallway towards the living room, I did a quick detour into the kitchen. As I had walked down from my bedroom, I had seen one of my sweaters hanging there over a chair, I had obviously "forgotten" it there. Somehow, I'm not sure why, I felt a bit too naked in only my tracksuit bottoms, so I quickly grabbed the sweater and pulled it on.

When I entered the living room, the three guests were still standing in the middle of the couch combination, looking a bit unsure of what they should do, as if they didn't know where I wanted them to sit.

"Please, have a seat!" Yes, yes, I know, somehow my best Sunday manners had emerged from a corner far, far back in my mind. My mother would have been so proud of me. But with the police standing in the middle of your living room, you can't be too careful, and better be polite to a cop than to be sorry.

Neither of them made any move to take a seat, and I sighed inside while thinking to myself, 'Adults!' before I just sat down in "my" corner of the couch. I wasn't wearing any socks and the floor was a bit chilly, so I pulled up my legs and sat Indian style on the couch. I looked expectantly at them, waiting for them to sit down with me. Finally they seemed to realize that I wouldn't like a stand-up party so they sat down on the couch combination, the two constables across from me, while the woman placed herself directly next to me in the same couch.

She was the one who started to talk next, "Ingo, I'm Irene Meinert, psychologist from the Child Protection Service."

Had I gone insane without noticing it? Should I be put into a mental hospital? Why was a psychologist here?

"Ingo, your parents were in a severe car crash this evening. I...I have to tell you that neither of them survived."

My look at her must have been one filled with disbelief. I was, of course, looking for a hidden joke, but found only pity in her eyes. I looked over to Constable Schulte, but he was just looking back at me, looking very concerned. He started to say something when I suddenly felt like I was hit with a fist squarely in the stomach. My parents, dead! Both of them! I wouldn't ever see them again! But...but we were supposed to go on a vacation to the North Sea in two weeks, my Dad had taken some time off especially for this. And now they wouldn't return home, ever... What was I supposed to do now?

My vision was blurring as tears started to emerge and stream down my face. I sank back into the couch as sob after sob shook my body violently. I didn't know how long I cried, and I didn't care. I would never see my parents again!

It must really have taken some time before I regained my senses, because when I finally was able to think a straight thought through again, the arm of Miss Meinert was laying around my shoulders and my face was pressed into her side. I must really have cried a lot, because her sweater was quite damp at the spot where my face had been.

"How....how could that happen?" I had to know the whole story.

Instead of Miss Meinert, Constable Schulte replied, "Your parents were on their way through Wehren and crossed the interstate there at a traffic light, when a large truck hit your parents' car on the side. The driver must have been exhausted and had probably fallen asleep behind the steering wheel. Anyway, he hadn't seen the red light and so he pushed your parents' car into the corner of a building. Unfortunately, the truck hit the car directly at the passenger door, and the car hit the corner of the building just at the drivers door. Sadly, when something like this happens, even the best airbags don't help a thing; your parents must have been killed instantly on impact. People living nearby called the police and the paramedics, but the arriving doctor could not do anything but to pronounce them both dead."

"Where....where are they now?" Somehow I was still muddled, and my thoughts were just running around in circles, I couldn't get a clear thought through, and so I just stammered questions which didn't really make much sense.

"They are in the morgue at the Detmold main cemetery, you will have to come by over tomorrow to ident..."

The sound of a throat being cleared and a sharp look from Miss Meinert caused his voice to die down. "I think, that can wait until tomorrow, Constable. I think Ingo is more in need of some quiet time right now, than he is of a schedule for the next day," she stated determinedly.

"Yes, of course, Miss Meinert. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cause you more stress then necessary, Ingo. Are there any relatives living nearby where you could stay for a few days?" Constable Schulte asked me.

I pulled myself together quickly, as best as I could, under the circumstances, but I had to state, "No, Constable, all my grandparents are dead already, both my Dad's and my Mum's parents, and I don't have any aunts or uncles either."

Constable Schulte and Miss Meinert exchanged a short look, like people do when a suspicion have been confirmed, then Miss Meinert said, "Ingo, you understand, we don't want to, and in fact can't leave you alone in this situation. But I don't want to take you into an group home tonight, I think you would do better in a familiar environment. Would it be okay with you if I were to stay and sleep here tonight?"

That revelation hit me like a sledge hammer, once more. Group home? Me? But only the guys from bad families went there, or the ones who hadn't any parents anymore... At that moment it dawned on me, that the death of my parents would overthrow my whole life. And not just that there wouldn't be a Mum who would be at home when I came home from school, and no Dad who would go sailing with me on a Saturday. A bit dizzy, I realized that Miss Meinert was still waiting for an answer from me, and I responded briskly, "Yes, sure... Of course."

This seemed to be the sign for the two guys in green that they wouldn't be needed anymore, and they stood up at nearly exactly the same time. "Well then, I think, you are in good hands with Miss Meinert. I will contact you tomorrow to settle the next steps with you. I hope that you will get at least a bit of sleep," Constable Schulte stated sympathetically.

"We will find our way to the door by ourselves, thank you!" his colleague stated, just as I wanted to get up to lead them to the door, and both of them headed out toward their car.

"When do you have to be at school tomorrow?" asked Miss Meinert, as the two officers closed the door behind them.

"School? Me? Tomorrow? Do I have to go to school tomorrow?" I asked her, confused.

"You wouldn't have to, I suppose, but I would think it would be better for you to go to school tomorrow. Otherwise, I imagine that you would just sit around here all day, and your thoughts would just revolve around the accident. The school will provide at least a bit distraction, and on a different note, I just wouldn't know where to put you during the day. But this way, we have solved the problem at least for half of the day," she stated, a bit self-satisfied.

"I have to be at school at quarter to nine, to the second period, I have physics there." This was my, still quite confused, answer to her question. School was really the last thing I would have had in mind, but somehow, I was under the impression that a discussion with Miss Meinert wouldn't bring the hoped for result. And she would know for sure what would be the best for me in this situation.

"Where can I sleep tonight?" Miss Meinert was already on the next topic.

Luckily, this was a question I could answer easily, "We have a visitors bedroom in the basement, you can sleep there."

"Good, I will just fetch my things out of the car. I'll be right back." With these words Miss Meinert stood up and was quickly on her way out of the house.

A bit lost, I sat on the couch, and just as Miss Meinert had said, my thoughts were drawn involuntarily to the accident. With a hesitant shake of my head, I tried to get rid of the thoughts. And even if it was hard, it would be better just not to think about it this time, it would come by itself early enough.

I forced myself to think practically and decided to check to see if the guest bedroom was ready. With a slight frown, I realized that I hadn't set foot in the guest bedroom for quite a long time, and I pulled myself up off the couch with a deep sigh, and went to inspect the room.

On the way down to the basement, a picture on the wall caught my attention. I was in it, together with Mum and Dad. We were at the beach in Duhnen, each of us holding a couple of collected shells for the camera. This had been on our last vacation together, the summer two years ago.

Unwillingly, with a big lump in my throat, I pried my eyes away from the picture and continued on my way into the basement. Opening the door to the guest bedroom and turning on the light, I saw that Mum had kept the bedroom ready for any visitor. Even the few plants in there seemed to have been watered regularly. It looked quite neat and tidy. Everything seemed to be in its proper place.

I heard the voice of Miss Meinert from upstairs, a hint of panic in her voice as she called out, "Ingo? INGO??? Where are you???"

"Down in the basement!" I called upstairs, and shortly after that, I heard Miss Meinert's steps as she descended the stairs.

"Do you have to frighten me like this, Ingo?" she asked me in an accusing tone.

"Sorry, I just wanted to see if the room was usable," I responded in a small voice.

"It's okay, I guess I overreacted a bit as well, but I'm concerned for you." With those words, she put her arm around my shoulder which I shook off unwillingly. Was she trying to replace my Mum? I felt the tears welling up in me again, and the friendly sympathy of Miss Meinert was just too much for me at that moment. I turned on the spot and raced the stairs up to my room. I just wanted to be alone. I knew that nothing she or anyone else could do would bring my parents back.

Sobbing loudly, I threw myself on my bed and buried my face in my teddy bear (I know, it is childish to still have a teddy bear when you're 16, but I just couldn't bring myself to separate from him), the only part of my "family" who was left. It felt good, smelling the familiar scent, and it somehow comforted me a bit. At least someone was still there for me.

A few minutes later, the sobbing had died down to silent tears, there was a soft knock on my door.

"What?" I pressed out, my voice subdued, because my head was still buried between the pillow and my teddy bear.

"May I come in, please?" I heard the voice of Miss Meinert.

"Alright, I don't mind," I snapped back and lifted my head from the pillow.

Miss Meinert was standing in the open door frame, I hadn't even thought about closing the door behind me. In her hand, she carried a glass of water and a small paper box. She placed herself on the edge of my bed, opened the paper box and broke a pill out of the blister which she produced out of the box.

"Here, I would like you to take this. This way you will catch at least a bit of sleep, otherwise, I'm afraid that you will just be turning around in your bed from one side to the other. These are quite strong, and it would be better to get yourself ready for bed before you take these."

A bit awkwardly, I pulled myself up and just wanted to start to pull down my tracksuit bottom, when I became aware that I had only known this woman, who acted so intimately with me, for only half an hour. And undressing in front of a stranger, that was one thing that just wasn't necessary.

"Um...", I cleared my throat and stated, "Would you mind leaving me alone, please, while I get ready for bed?"

Realizing the situation, Miss Meinert got a somewhat ashamed facial expression and said, without hesitation, "Yeah, sure. Just take the pill, don't chew it, just swallow it and wash it down with a sip of water."

Thanks for the information, but this wasn't the first pill I ever taken. She seemed so condescending, as if I wouldn't know how to take a pill for heaven's sake. I'm a kid, not an idiot.

"I will wake you up tomorrow morning." With those words, she gave me an encouraging look, turned around and left the room, closing the door behind her.

Being left alone, I stripped out of the sweater and the tracksuit bottom, crawled back under my sheets and swallowed the pill. Miss Meinert wasn't exaggerating when she said that they were strong and that they would take effect quickly. Just half a minute later, after I had swallowed the pill, my eye lids started to get heavy, and the world around me faded into darkness....

The next thing which I became aware of was a hand on my shoulder which shook me, and a soft gentle voice which said, "Ingo! Wake up! Ingo!"

"Who? What? Where?" with these words, I opened my eyes and looked into the face of a stranger. No, not completely strange, after all, I had seen her before. Then the memories of last night returned in an instant, and the lump in my throat was back in full measure.

"Hey, are you awake?" Miss Meinert asked (I just had remembered her name).

"No, I'm still asleep!" I retorted. Morning is not the right time to talk to me the wrong way, I'm a morning grouch class A.

"Well, then you should be able to get up without a problem," she stated with a laugh. "I will be waiting for you downstairs." Saying this, she turned around and vanished in the direction of the ground level.

"But I'll need some time!" I called after her, where I just got the reply, "Take all the time you need!"

Well, morning routine then. Shower, brushing my teeth, getting my hair acceptable, looking for clothes and finally, dressing. That the shower water was mixed with tears I can leave aside, but the shower is a dangerous place, you can just think too much while you're in there.

But at least I felt somewhat refreshed as I came down the stairs, where Miss Meinert sat at our kitchen table and browsed through the "Lippische Landeszeitung", our local newspaper.

"Ah, there you are," she said, looking up from the paper. "Can we go then?" she asked without a break.

"And what about breakfast?" I asked back, my stomach was rumbling audibly, and a cup of milk would be nice as well.

"I honestly don't want to rummage through your kitchen, it just doesn't feel right, and I don't think that you feel like housework either. But you should check your shirt again. You haven't been completely focused while dressing, I guess," she said with a smile on her face.

I grabbed the hem of my shirt, and right, I had put it on just the wrong way around. Quickly I put it on the right way.

"Ready now?" With those words, she got up and started towards the front door.

"And the breakfast?" I had to ask again.

"Don't worry, we will eat at a bakery on the way," she finally answered my question.

Quickly retrieving my backpack from under the wardrobe in the hallway, I followed her to the front door, but just turned back to grab my keys and then left the house for good.

I sat beside Miss Meinert in the already-running car, the woman seemed to be in quite a hurry. A look at my watch confirmed it, it was already 8:10, if I was going to be at the school on time, and we wanted to eat something before that, we were already a bit late.

During the drive, Miss Meinert asked me which school I was attending. I answered her tonelessly, "Grabbe-Gymnasium," but except for that, it was a very quiet drive.

We stopped at a bakery which was a bit further away from the school, which I realized thankfully. If we would have stopped at the bakery directly at the school, there would have been a lot of people coming in which would be in my year, and I just didn't need that at that moment.

I got a small bottle of milk from the refrigerator and ordered a croissant and a cheese roll. Just when I wanted to pull out my wallet, I heard the voice from Miss Meinert from behind me, "I'll treat you this morning, you don't have to pay for it yourself."

I thanked her politely, and then went to one of the bistro tables which were crammed in one corner of the shop.

Miss Meinert joined me shortly after that, only 'provisioned' with a cup of coffee. I was quickly devouring my croissant, when she pulled me a bit sharply out of my (admittedly, not at all positive) thoughts, "I would like you to come to my CPS office after school, today, then we can discuss how this will continue over the next few days. I have to make a couple of phone calls, but we will find a place for you to stay for sure, at least for the next day or two."

"Do...do you think I will have to go into a group home, Miss Meinert?" I wanted to know. My thoughts had revolved around this question, when she had pulled me out of them.

My feelings toward a group home were connected to a cold, sterile house, where a lot of children lived together in a big room, where you couldn't be alone, with a harsh governess where you feel like 20cm shorter automatically if you talk to her. On a rational level, I knew that these thoughts were rubbish, we weren't at the beginning of the 20th century anymore. But this horrible vision always put itself in a prominent place in my mind, and didn't help to calm me down one bit.

"First of all, please call me by my first name. I feel quite old if you insist on calling me Miss Meinert. My name is Irene. On a second note, I don't know yet where I will place you, but yes, it could lead towards a group home," she had to admit, "You don't have any relatives who could take you in, and there aren't that many more alternatives."

She must have seen the mix of horror, fear and disgust showing on my face at the thought of a group home, at least she added directly, "I will look into other possibilities as well, but a group home isn't that bad, really! It is nearly like being home, only that there are a lot more youths to do something with."

This didn't reduce my fears, not really. But It didn't look like I could change anything.

I took a look at my watch, and involuntarily I said: "Fu......um.....Darn! It is already THAT late, I really have to go!"

That wasn't entirely true, it wasn't THAT late, but somehow I didn't feel like I could take the challenge to talk about a group home right now. Miss Meinert, I mean, Irene, looked at her watch as well and said, "Oh, yeah, I have to get going as well, I have an appointment at 9:00, and I shouldn't miss that."

She took two big gulps from her mug to empty it, I screwed down the cap on the bottle of milk and put it, together with the cheese roll, into my backpack. This way I would have something to eat for the break.

"Should I bring you to school?" she wanted to know from me.

"No, thanks, it isn't that far, I can walk the short distance." And it would attract attention as well, if a stranger were to bring me to school. Normally, I would be going to school by bike, Mum had stopped bringing me to school when she had started working again.

I said my good-byes to Irene quickly, before my eyes started glistening again. Damn, every time I just thought about my parents, my tears seemed to have to work their way out of my eyes. And crying again in front of Miss Meinert, this was a thing I really didn't want to do.

I started in the direction of the school quickly, which really was just two blocks away, so I just would need five minutes to get there. But my tears just seemed to have a real break through, just when I had walked a couple of hundred meters. I had to lean on the corner of a building and I cried silently.

An elderly woman addressed me, "Young man, is everything alright with you?"

I could just nod silently, but it didn't seem to be convincing her, because the woman stopped at my side.

"Well, the world won't be going under today. Here, take a hanky!" and with those words, she pulled out a packet of Kleenex and handed me one.

I cleared my nose loudly, and then wiped the tears from my eyes and my face. "Thanks, I really feel better now."

Expectantly, she looked at me, as if waiting for an explanation for my behavior. But giving an explanation to a stranger, no, thanks.

I just mumbled something and said: "Thanks, but the morning was just a bit too much for me. But please excuse me, I have to go to school now," and motioned towards the school building which was already in sight.

She looked at me a bit disappointed that I didn't want to pour my heart out for her, but I just turned around and strode quickly towards the school.

Great, and now here I go, with puffy eyes, into school! A glance at my watch told me that the small 'incident' hadn't cost me too much time, and I still had a couple of minutes before the bell would be ringing for the second period.

Standing at the front of the building, I looked at the door and tried to get myself centered. This would be a long day. I just hoped that the tear outbreak back then was the last for the day. What would I do if I just started crying in one of the classes? I just didn't know.

With those thoughts on my mind, I ascended the step, feeling not really ready to face the things to come.

Two minutes after the bell, I was at the physics class room, but luckily Mr. Schmidt, our physics teacher, wasn't there yet, he always needed a bit longer than other teachers, because he used to finish his small cigar, and was always a bit late for the lesson.

Author's note: In a German high school, called gymnasium, in the last three years, there is no real class structure. People choose their subjects, and are in a different group of students for every subject. A group of students for one subject is called "course", and I will refer to it this way here as well.

In front of the physics room, our course was already gathered in to the usual groups, and a lively conversation was ongoing. I stood over by Thomas and Christian, a part of our "clique", the people I was together with most of the time at school.

Christian looked at me and obviously seemed to notice my puffy red eyes.

He started to ask, "Hey, what is going....", as Thomas cut him off and said in a loud voice: "Oooooooooh.....has Mummy been mean at our little Ingo this morning, so he had to cry before school??"

Of course in a loud enough volume that everyone in the hallway had to notice it. Some people turned around, looking at us, when I just felt a cold rage and said to him in a voice that would have gotten icicles to appear in hell, "Just shut your big, fat mouth, Freisinger, you just don't know anything, anyway."

Obviously shocked by this outbreak, that I didn't swallow his stupid remark as usual and just stepped over it, he lost his composure for a second. But he regained it quickly and hovered over me with his 1.90m, telling me in a fakingly sweet voice, "Oh, on the war path this morning? This I wouldn't have thought of a fag mummy's boy..."

"I'm no " mummy's boy", and I'm not a fag either!" I retorted heatedly. Our small battle of words seemed to have pulled the other people out of their conversations as well. Cool, now everyone thinks that I'm gay....

Thomas teased me about this for a couple of months now, since he had noticed I had looked at a boy while we were together in town. But I had just looked at his cool clothes, but this reason meant nothing to Thomas, and he just continued teasing me.

Normally, he only did this in our small clique, but I had provoked him today, and he thought that this would be the best way to get through to me. Unluckily, he was right.

Just at that moment, Mr. Schmidt came around the corner and suppressed a continuation of our 'friendly conversation' that way. Luckily, it also meant that the other people lost the interest in us and were swarming around the door, so Mr. Schmidt had to clear his way to get to the door and unlock it.

I entered the physics class room as one of the last, but didn't sit down next to Thomas and Christian in the second row as usual. I steered for a desk in the last row, I just couldn't stand Thomas right now.

To my astonishment, I saw how Christian packing together his already unpacked stuff and headed for my desk. Thomas looked after him astonished as well, but then just shrugged as he wasn't interested that he would have to get through class without the usual jokes.

Christian sat down directly beside me and unpacked his stuff again. He then leaned over to me and whispered, "Just don't pay attention to him, Thomas is just an asshole. And I believe you that you are not gay!"

At least one who shared my opinion. "It is my own fault, I shouldn't have angered him like that."

Christian disagreed with me in an instant, and said energetically (as far that would have been possible with our hushed-up conversation): "His first comment was really just stupid, he should just have stuffed it."

He looked at me critically, and then continued, "But I have to admit, you don't look that good today. And that you have been crying is obvious, your eyes are so red, they would be glowing in the dark. What's going on?"

I just shook my head, "I'll tell you later, OK? This is just not the right time or place."

"OK, but then during the break?"

I just could nod, because at that moment Mr. Schmidt said that even the gentlemen in the last row should follow him, please. Sighing, I unpacked my stuff as well and saw that Mr. Schmidt had already wheeled in the experiment for this lesson.

We were working on 'Dynamics' at the moment, and this day seemed to be about the pendulum, as Mr. Schmidt had wheeled in one of those on his mobile experiment table. He started to talk about the pendulum and then he explained what the goal for today's experiment would be and so on.

Normally, mathematics and physics were my favorite subjects, but today, I just couldn't concentrate on the experiment and the voice of the teacher. Too much had happened, and I started to dwell in my thoughts once more, but just when I recognized that my thoughts were taking a dangerous direction once more, I forced my thoughts onto the conflict with Thomas.

It would have been better to think about how my life would continue now, but the thoughts would inevitably lead to my parents, and the last thing I needed right now was to cry in school. I just had drawn enough attention to myself.

So I started to think for the umpteenth time why I always had to be the target for Thomas' mocking, and his snide remarks. And especially why he thought that I was gay.

Sure, I had looked after the boy, and looking on it now, I couldn't explain why I did so. I had said that I had looked at him because of his clothes, but if I would be honest with myself, I didn't remember his clothes at all. But he looked nice, I remembered his face just fine. But it had been pushed into my face often enough, so the memory of it just didn't fade.

But it couldn't be that I looked after him because of a nice face, that would make me really gay, wouldn't it? If I looked at a boy because of his appearance? And I could remember the dimples in his cheeks just fine as well. And the hair, pulled together into a pony tail.

But I couldn't be gay, no way. And the most important thing was, I didn't WANT to be gay. These people only exist in the TV, or they lurk on playgrounds and molest little kids. Or were dressed like women, and I was just sure, I would NEVER wear a dress, and what should I do on a playground? And without this, I just couldn't be gay.

Satisfied to have solved the problem (once more), I was rudely 'awakened' by a nudge into my ribs by Christian. I looked at him, but he just pointed into the direction of the black board.

"Ingo, what do you think what the next result in the experiments row should be?" Mr. Schmidt wanted to know from me.

My problem was, I knew what he was talking about, but no clue about the answer.

"Sorry, I just didn't pay attention for a moment," I had to admit.

"That much I already noticed. If you are dreaming with open eyes, don't stare out the window, I will take notice of it quite fast," Mr. Schmidt said jokingly. "But, seriously, this is something I don't know from you. Please pay attention, yes? The experiment is important for the homework!" and with this, he turned again to his experiment.

As if homework was my biggest problem at the moment. But I tried to spare some attention to the lesson, and I managed quite well, until the end of the period, and I even had one of the the exercise problems solved correctly, and I was the only one. Well, it was a thing I could concentrate on and which pushed away my other thoughts.

At least I didn't stick out negatively again until the bell.

After the bell I lagged behind intentionally while packing together my stuff. I didn't want to get together with Thomas right now. I just wanted to be left alone, to follow my dark dreary thoughts once more.

When I left the class room, Christian was leaning against the wall, but he stood up when he saw me coming through the door.

A bit forcefully he grabbed me by the arm and said, "Now you are coming with me and you are going to tell me what's going on." And he pulled me out through the back entrance of the school.

We crossed the street there and walked into the small park directly behind the school. Since we were in the higher classes, we were allowed to leave the school grounds during the break, and the park was always a nice place to go, if you wanted to exchange some words. And Christian really wanted to exchange some words with me, as it looked like, the way he dragged me out of the building.

The weather wasn't at all inviting for sunbathing (6C (43F), cloudy), and because the supply of edible things would be difficult here, there would be few other students. We could talk together without disturbance - which was just fine with me, I didn't want everyone to know that my parents had a fatal accident. It would go around quickly enough, but this way I could order my thoughts better before all kinds of people would ask me about it.

Together we sat on one of the benches, Christian turned slightly in my direction and looked at me expectantly. I tried to force my thoughts into an ordered way, to get a good start on the topic. One which wouldn't let me look like a crybaby, but I wanted to tell Christian why I wasn't feeling well that day.

But I just felt tears coming up, and my thoughts hadn't heard anything of the term 'ordered way' as well. Tears started dwelling in my eyes, my head sacked down on my hands and I just managed to say, "My.....my parents had an accident yesterday, with the car. They are both dead!", and the tears started to flow freely once more. How many tears does a human have? Didn't I use up my daily ration of them already?

Christian was hit by the revelation as well. "Oh my God!" was his only comment.

He came a bit closer to me, put one of his arms around my shoulder and stroked my head with the other hand, "I'm so sorry. And then the comment from Thomas, that must have really hurt. No surprise that your fuses had burned right then."

I slacked down under the friendly touch, and leaned against his chest. I let my tears run freely, I had the feeling that Christian understood what I was going through right now.

For a couple of minutes we just sat there without words, I cried into his jacket, he just held me and now and then he just stroked over my head, as if he could take away some of the pain by doing that.

Finally the stream of tears seem to stop (a lot faster than the last times, maybe there was really a daily ration of them? And mine was used up already, that much was clear), but the hug and the hand on my head were just good, just felt so good that I stayed for a moment in this position.

That was when I noticed how good Christian really smelled. Was that after shave? Or Eau de toilet?

I was surprised by myself, how fast my thoughts could take a u-turn and start to think about the smell of another boy.

Reluctantly, I pried myself away from Christian, who started to rummage through the pockets of his jacket then, and he produced a packet of Kleenex after a second. He handed them over to me and said, "Here, you seem to need them."

I blew my nose once more, and with a second Kleenex I wiped the tears away from my eyes and cheeks.

"How did that happen?" he wanted to know from me.

Tonelessly I started to report: "A truck hit them on the B1 on the side of their car. The driver had missed the red light and pushed them against the corner of a building. They died that very second."

I could read in Christian's eyes how his mind was working, "Do you want to come home with me after school? You won't have any lunch, and Mom wouldn't mind you coming home with me for something to eat."

I laughed out, a bit straining, "Lunch is one of my smaller problems right now. Thanks for the offer, but I have to go to the CPS office right after school."

"CPS? What do you have to do with them?"

"Well, a psychologist from CPS is taking care of me, and I'm an orphan right now, and there you are the responsibility of the CPS." Orphan, just the sound of it was like a bad word.

But Christian wouldn't be satisfied this easy, "But you need something to eat. And do you know if you'll get something there?"

"But Miss Meinert wants me to come to her directly after school. Maybe tomorrow, OK?"

"Hmm, OK. But if you need someone to talk to, or someone who distracts you or just someone who listens to you, just give me a call, OK?"

"Hm, yes, sure. Thanks. Thank you for letting me cry with you. But would you be so kind and not tell anyone about it? I don't want to get pity, and I know the word will get around the school quickly enough."

"Sure, no problem, if you want that."

Glancing at his watch, he asked me, "What course do you have right now? Break is nearly over."

I thought for a second, somehow I still hadn't memorized my timetable that well. And that we started every day to a different time, and free periods and stuff like that didn't make it any easier either.

"Hmmm....right, PE is my next period. Oooops, I have to hurry so that I'm on time at the sports ground."

"Can you stand school today?" Christian wanted to know, just as I gathered my backpack and wanted to get up.

"I just try to think as little as possible and just push back the thought that they aren't there any more. But if comments like that just before come, it is quite difficult."

"Sure, no question. But why did you have to go to school on such a day? Every doctor would have given you an excuse to stay home!"

"Well, if I wouldn't have wanted, I wouldn't have needed to go, but Irene thought that it would be better for me to be at school. Otherwise I would have spent the day brooding. And she is a psychologist, she has to know, doesn't she?"

Christian looked at me with doubt, and then just said, "I'm not that convinced that it was a good idea. Just look at yourself. And she didn't know what kind of assholes are in your year at school. Ooooh, I just could have punched Thomas for that stupid comment of his, and now even more as I know what's going on with you. But he never had tact for 2 cents....."

I could hear the bell from a distance, and finally I pulled myself together and started to walk towards the sports hall. Christian got up with me, and together we went towards the back entrance of the school.

Just before we went in there, I just stopped and turned around to Christian, "Thanks. Thank you so much for letting me cry with you, I'm feeling a bit better because of that. And thanks that you won't tell anyone."

A short smile went over his face, and out of a sudden impulse, I gave him a brief hug. I wouldn't have dared to do this before, just because of the fear that people would think that I'm gay, but I didn't care much about that today.

And I just felt close to Christian after this short episode, and this just seemed like the right way to thank him for listening to me and holding me. And he smelled good, I just wanted to savour the smell once more for a short time.

With a definitely improved mood, I ended the hug, saw his astonished face and had to grin a bit. Good, I didn't forget how to do that, although it was a lot harder than normally. I turned around, threw a short, "See ya later" over my shoulder and started on my way to the sports hall, knowing that I would already be late. But I didn't care that much today.

Looking over my shoulder again, I saw Christian still standing there like I left him, obviously confused.

PE was just the right thing for me now. One, because only a few people from my old class were in that course, a fact I had regretted at the start of the school year, but appreciated a lot today. Because I didn't have any close bonds to people in the PE course, I was spared their stupid questions. On the other hand, our teacher wanted to get grades for athletics, and besides running and fighting against the cold was not much spare energy to follow dark thoughts.

Because of the examination for the grades, the period was a bit longer than usual, and when I came back to the school ground, I just heard the end bell for the second break.

Most of the others groaned, having to go directly from the exhausting PE lesson into other courses, but I didn't care that much. My 5th period was a free period, so I thought about how I could kill the free hour. I decided to start on my physics homework. I didn't know what would be happening in the afternoon, and Mum wanted me to finish my homework the day I got it.

Just when this thought crossed through my mind, I realized the surreality of the thought. Mum would never ask me again if I had done all my homework already. I had to swallow hard, but the tears decided to stay where they belonged, luckily.

As I got into the break room for the higher grades, it wasn't that full, luckily, so I would have some peace and quiet to get my homework done. But at one of the tables I saw the one person sitting who I didn't need to meet right now: My best friend Bjrn. Now you probably want to know why I didn't want to meet my best friend, but the problem had a name: Thomas. Bjrn was more of a former best friend. Since Thomas had gotten into our class in the 9th grade from a different school, the relationship between Bjrn and me had cooled considerably.

At first, everything was the same as it used to be, but after some time, the more Bjrn got friendly with Thomas, the more I got to be an outsider. Before that, we just had been a trio: Bjrn, Christian and me. We had done everything together and we were best friends. But the appearance of Thomas on the scene changed everything. Thomas had a sense of humor which just worked at the expense of other people. Mainly on my expense, because he thought I was a weak mummy's boy. And instead of Bjrn defending me the way I would have expected it, he even joined into it. He rarely was the initiator of such a joke, but he did always join in with Thomas, .

Towards the class field trip in the 10th grade, I just have bad memories, it had been a gruesome experience....

Christian was mainly in the background, but he wasn't on my side either. I suspect out of fear of being the target for the next joke. I didn't understand for myself why I still hung around these people, but fear of the loneliness, the feeling of having no one to talk to, was bigger than the fear of the next joke at my expense.

But I had the feeling that I was only accepted in the clique, especially by Thomas, because I was an easy target. Once I had read in a newspaper: "Children can be cruel" Which is right, but youths in the throws of puberty can be even crueler, I knew this now out of my own experience.

I sat down on one of the free tables, not by Bjrn, but I didn't have to wait for his reaction for long. Bjrn pushed back his chair, stood up and sat down on a chair opposite to me, with the back of the chair toward me. "Wow, you have made Thomas quite angry this morning, he was still aggravated during the break. Well, it wasn't really nice what you have said to him."

This was another proof what one-sided reporting can achieve. Now I was the offender, not the victim any more.

Bjrn continued, "But where have you been during both breaks? I haven't seen you."

"I talked to Christian during the first break, and in the second break, I was still running for PE."

"Ah, okay. What did you talk with Christian about?"

"Nothing important, we just talked." I didn't want to tell Bjrn what was going on. As I had stated before, what had happened would be around soon enough.

"Ah, sorry, I'm just not in the mood for conversation right now, and I would like to finish physics homework. Schmidt just has given us a huge pile." Which wasn't exactly true, but Bjrn wouldn't know that.

And Bjrn answered, "Yeah, I have to do enough with French homework as well. Will we see each other at the cafeteria after school?"

"No, I don't think so, I have something I have to do after school today."

"Ah, well then we will see each other tomorrow in Math," he said this, and went back to his table at the other end of the room to do his French homework.

After I had finished my homework, my free period was over as well, and I had to get on my way to my last lesson of the day, Geography. Not my favorite subject, but OK. The lesson passed without major incidents, I managed to pay enough attention to the teacher and tried to push away the upcoming things out of my mind the best I could.

Christian was with me in this course as well, once more he tried to persuade me to come home with him after school, but I turned him down again.

Somehow, I just didn't want to experience a real family that day. I thought that too much would come up again. And, besides, Irene expected me to be in her office, so there was really no way I could go to Christian for lunch.

After the bell rang, I said my good-byes to Christian and went to the street in front of the school. Just at that moment, I realized that I neither knew if the CPS office was in Detmold itself, nor did I have a phone number of Irene.

Just when I had decided to walk back to the school secretary, (at least they would have a phone book), I heard a voice behind me calling my name, "Mr. Villard?"

As I turned around, I saw a man in his fifties, wearing a suit, coming towards me. The face looked vaguely familiar to me, but I couldn't put together where it belonged at that moment.

"Ingo Villard? This is you, isn't it?" and he looked at me questioningly.

"Yes, that's right. And who are you?" I asked, defiantly.

"I'm Helmut Marzahn, the lawyer and notary for your parents. I think we met each other already, at the 25th wedding anniversary of your parents, maybe you will remember."

When he said this, I could remember vaguely that Dad had introduced us. He had told me that they had been good friends during the university, but moved to different towns after finishing it. They only had loose contact by now.

But Mr. Marzahn still dealt with the official business of my parents. "Luckily, I don't have to call you THAT often," Dad had said laughing to Mr. Marzahn back then.

"And, what do you want from me now, and here?" I was still a bit suspicious.

At this, Mr. Marzahn said with a clouded expression, "The reason for me meeting you is not a happy one, as you can imagine. The first thing is that I would like to express my deepest condolences; the loss you have to endure couldn't be worse!" With this, Mr. Marzahn took my hand.

Normally I didn't like these polished phrases, but somehow Mr. Marzahn managed to let it sound like he really meant it honestly, and I couldn't stop myself shaking his hand.

Somehow I was glad that now someone else was there who had known my parents and would feel some of the feeling of loss, which I carried with me all day now.

"As I said, I was the lawyer and especially the notary for you parents," he continued, "And in the case of the death of both of them, they have appointed me as administrator for their will. But this is not a topic we should discuss here on the street. I would suggest that we look for a Cafe and talk about anything there."

"But I have to get to the CPS office, I'm expected there by Miss Meinert!" I responded quickly.

"I have already talked to Miss Meinert, and I have told her that I wanted to meet you after school. How do you think I knew which school you were attending, or when you would be finished? First, I was at your home, but when nobody was there, I talked to the police, who referred me to the CPS office, and finally I landed at Miss Meinert. She knows."

I couldn't respond much to this, so Mr. Marzahn continued, "Do you know a Cafe nearby? Or are you hungry? Should we look for a restaurant?"

"Hmmm....I think I could use something to eat," I responded to that, "But I don't have that much money with...."

"Nah, let that be of my concern. We will manage this," Mr. Marzahn said.

Finally, we stopped at a small Italian restaurant, a bit away from the school. I had to stop Mr. Marzahn from going into some of the typical restaurants where students tended to go, there was nothing I wanted less than 10 other students who could overhear something about the death of my parents.

But the restaurant we had found now was OK, and quite cozy.

After we had decided on the food and drinks we wanted, an awkward silence developed between us. I didn't know what Mr. Marzahn wanted from me, and he obviously didn't know how to start. I saw him trying to start a couple of times, but he stopped at the last moment, every time. He hadn't found the right thing to say, just yet.

Finally, he found a start, "So, Mr. Villard, as I told you before, your parents appointed me as administrator of their will, in the case that something happened to both of them. The official opening of the will will only be a couple of days after the funeral, but I can say something to you about this, even now: Your parents were insured quite well, especially the mortgage, which is still on the house, and other life insurance as well. You don't have to fear that the bank would come to you, wanting you to sell the house forcefully."

Once again it dawned on me, that the problems I will be confronted with would just get bigger. With things where I only knew the edge of, by now, like the financial situation of my parents. Up to now, I just had to manage my own (not really big) pocket money, everything else was managed by Mum. The size of the things I would have to think about, had just increased by a couple of factors.

Mr. Marzahn continued then, "On one point, the regulations of your parents are a bit sloppy, unluckily: The point of your guardianship. Your parents wanted to arrange something special in case they both died, Mr. Villard, we just didn't come to a unanimous solution at the last change of the testament, approximately 4 years after your birth. As far as I'm informed, you have no living relatives, and as has already been said, your parents just couldn't agree on a rule for your legal guardianship."

"When I looked at the papers this morning, it came to my mind again that your parents got to the verge of an argument about that. But it was obvious that they didn't want to have this discussion, or even argument, in my office. We agreed that they would talk about it at home again, and then we would cover that topic in a special addendum to the will. Your father had just said to me: 'I have a solution in my mind, but I have to convince Ulrike of it first.'"

"To my utter shame, I have to admit that I lost track of it, and it was left to this statement from your father. And that there is uncertainty about this especially delicate topic, I'm totally sorry for, Mr. Villard!"

My thoughts were running in circles again. All my fears regarding the topic of a "group home" came back. What would happen to me now? The black hole, which had opened in front of my feet yesterday, seemed to grow by the minute.

To paper over the cracks of my uncertainty, and to bring my thoughts on a different path, I just had to state something else first: "Mr. Marzahn, could you just call me Ingo, please? I'm only 16, but when you call me Mr. Villard, I feel like 26."

His face stayed totally serious as he replied, "Mr. Villard, if we would have met under different circumstances, I would have loved to honor your request. But at the moment, you are at first and foremost my client. And I'm under the total belief that you need not only personal support, but professional support as well. And I can only offer a real professional support if there is a certain...distance between us."

In the meantime, our meal had arrived, and I started to dig in, but not with much appetite.

How could I defy that logic? Because Mr. Marzahn was right at one point: I would need professional support with all the things that would have to be arranged over the next days and weeks. And Mr. Marzahn looked like somebody who could satisfactorily handle all those professional things, who would know what to do and who would be reliable. At least my parents had trusted him with their legal things.

I forced my thoughts towards the more urgent problems once more, "Do I really have to go into a group home? Isn't there another solution?"

Mr. Marzahn's expression didn't reassure me a bit. He replied to that question, "The regulations by law are like this: In case of the loss of all legal guardians and other relatives, the guardianship is approved to the state. That could mean that you would have to go into a group home, but it could mean as well, that you could be sent into a foster family. Maybe they will find a solution which will be acceptable for you. But I can't tell you anything more specific at the moment, it just depends on the CPS. They normally agree to a reasonable solution, but in your case, I don't see a reasonable solution yet."

This information didn't really improve my mood. This meant that I had better be hitting it off with Irene, and hoping that she will find a good solution for my problems.

"There is another, very uncomfortable topic," Mr. Marzahn continued, "Your parents have to be identified. The cause of their death is clear, but the corpses have to be identified by a close relative, so they can be released and a funeral service can be arranged. And as a close relative, unluckily, that task falls to you, Mr. Villard. This is a thing I unfortunately can't spare you."

He really looked like he would spare me this experience if he could. Then he continued, "I will see to the funeral service, as well as the legal things connected to it. At least, this is my job!" and he smiled at me encouragingly, and encouragement was a thing I could really use at the moment.

"Are they.....do they look real bad?" I needed to know that, to be prepared what I would have to expect when identifying them.

Mr. Marzahn sighed, "I haven't seen them yet, but the accident report doesn't look to promising. It would be good if you prepare for the worst. I will accompany you, of course, but maybe you have a friend or acquaintance who could offer some help, someone who knows you better than me and who would accompany you as well."

Instantly, my thoughts snapped after this problem, everything not to have to continue thinking about the group home. Did I have someone who would accompany me? Bjrn? No, I didn't want Bjrn to have around at the moment. Thomas? Definitely not, not after that scene this morning. This left only Christian. But could I ask such a favor from him? I was quite unsure, another thing which I would have to think about.

"If it is alright with you, I would like to do that tomorrow, before noon, the morgue has the required personnel only available in the morning. I would make an appointment then."

I just nodded, but then something came to my mind, "And what about school?"

Mr. Marzahn looked a bit irritated, "That should be the least problem. I will talk to you headmaster first thing in the morning and clarify it."

"Just one last thing," Mr. Marzahn asked, "Do you have enough money to sustain yourself for the next several days?"

I pulled out my wallet and risked a look into it, although I was nearly sure that it was next to empty. My look just confirmed my suspicion, and I just could shook my head. "7 Mark something, that won't get me far. My pocket money isn't that big, most things Mum buys directly."

Again the hint of surreality as I realized that I would have to care for these things as well in the future.

Mr. Marzahn pulled an envelope out of his briefcase, pulled a bundle of notes out of it and counted 100 DM on the table, in 10 and 20 DM bills. This bundle he put in front of me.

I looked unbelieving at him. "You are giving me a HUNDRED Mark, just like this? What should I do with that much money?"

"Actually, I'm not giving this to you 'just like this'. Remember, I'm the administrator of the money of your parents at the moment, and I can direct it. Furthermore, I'm responsible that you can sustain your life and that you can buy something to eat. This is money from the funds of your parents."

Still looking unbelieving at it, I took the bundle of bills in my hand. That much money I hadn't held in my hands up to now. My pocket money was 30 DM a month, and if there was something left at the end of the month (normally not very much), I gave it to Mummy, who put it away for my drivers license.

Finally, both of us were finished with the meal. Mr. Marzahn signaled for the waiter and asked for the bill.

"So, now I would like to drive, together with you, to Ms. Meinert. There we can fix the details about the next few days, where you will be living and things like that."

I just could agree to that, and so we were on our way to the CPS office. At least, Mr. Marzahn knew where it was, and drove there with me.

During the drive to the office, he called the morgue from his car phone and made an appointment for 10:30 am the next day. Just the thought of what was in front of me created a big lump in my tummy, once more.

When we arrived at the Detmold Community Building, I couldn't help but notice what an ugly building it was, a huge concrete block out of the seventies.

We asked for directions to Miss Meinert, and were pointed towards a hallway in the back of the building. When we moved along that dimly lit hallway, I couldn't ignore the uneasy feeling anymore which grew in my stomach. This was the place where my future would be decided, and its first impression was gloomy and dark, just like my prospect of the future....

Author's Notes:

I can't really believe yet that I'm actually going to publish this story now. It used to be one of the projects which you start, then don't have time for it, put it aside...Let's just say I wrote this chapter in 2002. But, no fear, it won't take that long until I get the next chapter finished, for this story I'm actually quite a few chapters ahead, so the next one shouldn't take to long. Most of the characters are, as most of the time, taken out of my real, personal life, and the story line will be a mixture of things which have happened, could have happened or I wish had happened. But I don't want to tell too much at the moment, you will have to see for yourself. The Phone has been an incredible help during writing this story, he is always to willing to discuss the story line or characters with me, he points out things I missed or mixed up and is just an awesome support. Thank you! Of course, Darryl is not forgotten, as always he is eager to read everything I write, and most of the times even corrects it on the fly. Without him, this story certainly wouldn't be enjoyable to read, and he just does those little touches which make it more realistic. Without Darryl, I would be lost. And not to forget Str8Mayb, who gave into my begging and gave the story a final edit in a time of big stress. Thanks! Just to mention it, as in my other stories: English is not my native language, so please be gentle if you judge the language. And I really appreciate getting reader feedback, you can reach me at john@foreign-embassy.net - it is the only payment I receive for this. John

Editor's Notes:

Well it certainly looks rather grim for Ingo. I certainly hope things improve for him soon. He seems like such a nice young man, I only hope things can be settled nicely for him.

I was glad to see another story coming from John Hollingway. We have been waiting for some time now for more wonderful things from him, and now we have a beautifully written tender but sad story. I do hope the mood will soon change for the better.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher

The Other Editor's Notes:

Excellent story. Ingo's whole life has just been completely scrambled. He needs a friend or two he can count on and hopefully a situation can be found that will suit him. It is a shame that he doesn't feel close to anyone and could ask them to take him in. After all it appears that his parents have left him fairly well off. The house will be paid off and the rest of the estate seems large enough to support him through college and into his own career. CPS although with the best intentions has the potential to totally destroy his present life and crush his future. Let's all hope Irene is caring enough to figure out a placement that will be good for Ingo. I have a few ideas and hope the story will move in a more pleasant direction soon.

Str8mayb AKA THE Evil Author & Master of Misdirection