Chapter 2. White Knight

He was a verray, parfit gentil knyght.

--Geoffrey Chaucer

Excerpt from Kyle's Diary: Tuesday, Feb 3 (7:00 am):

I know I don't usually write a morning journal entry, but I had this bad nightmare and I wanted to type it in before I forgot all about it. It was kind of hard to describe. I was running along the street, and I was really scared, but I wasn't running away from anything. But I couldn't find Tommy and felt that it was terribly important that I find him, so I was looking in all the store windows and asking everyone if they had seen him. What was so scary was that I just knew that Tommy was in some kind of terrible danger, and that I had to find him before something bad happened. Then I was in front of a door and I heard Tommy yell … and I woke up.

I know it was a silly dream, because Tommy can always take care of himself (and me too!) but when I got up, I almost wanted to call Tommy and make sure he is all right. But I know that he's in the middle of working out, so I just decided to write this down instead. Still, I'll be sort of relieved to see him at school.

Just as Kyle thought, Tommy was indeed just fine, and was just finishing up his morning workout: fifty pullups, a hundred situps, and seventy-five pushups, as he did every morning following his half-hour swim. He had first started this training regimen when he was nine years old and had asked his older brother Ron, then age twelve, how he had gotten his ‘sixpack’. Ron told him to do situps, which he diligently did every morning. Before long, he had added pullups, then pushups to the routine. He liked the sense of strength he felt moving his own body around. When he was twelve, he had added regular weight training to the program, with special emphasis on his biceps and forearms. Although his main goal was strength — he hoped to be strong like Ron someday, and was already his equal in grip strength — he was also justly proud of the physique he had built.

When he finished his workout and had showered, Tommy looked at the mirror and flexed, examining his body carefully. Lots of teenage boys will flex in the mirror, of course, but Tommy was looking more critically. Yes, it certainly did seem that his hard round biceps had just a bit more of a peak to them today, looking almost like they were on top of his arms rather than inside of them. He stood sideways and flexed his chest, satisfied with the hard definition and striations at the middle; he ran his hands over his pecs and nipples casually. He put his hands behind his head and crunched his deeply-etched six-pack abs, clearly visible with virtually no body fat to hide them, visible and hard even when relaxed. His legs, yes, looking well-shaped but not oversized. And as he looked at his legs, he also took note of what Nature had given him, the envy of many boys in the locker room. He turned around and looked over his shoulder, satisfied with the strong and bumpy look of his wide back, and then he checked out his butt, nodding with pride in his — what was that fancy Greek word again? — callipygian shape.

A voice sounded from downstairs. “Breakfast is almost ready, Tommy! Stop checking yourself out and get dressed!Ron knows me too well! Tommy thought with a grin. He worked in some hair prep, just enough to give his blond hair the careless spiky look that the girls all thought was so sexy. But even though he loved the attention that the girls at school gave him (and, with some of the hotter girls, was pleased to reciprocate), it was Kyle that Tommy was thinking about as he picked out the clothes that would make him look the best for his love. I am so lucky to have Kyle, he thought (as he did just about every morning). He is so cute and perfect; it's like very single part of him, from his face to his shoulders to his butt is just so right. And his whole personality is so calm and mischievous and … who wouldn't love someone like him? He was looking in the mirror to make sure that his clothes were just right, but his thoughts were far away.

Do I have to carry you down myself?” Ron was standing at the door, looking at his brother. There were not a whole lot of people who could carry out a threat like that, but Ron, now age 18, was one of them. Standing a good six inches taller than his younger brother, with solid muscles that could bench 350 pounds, Ron was not just Tommy's big brother; he was his hero and role model. But Ron was not angry; his challenge was delivered with an amused and fond smile.

Tommy refocused on the room around him and looked at Ron in surprise. “How long have you been standing there?” he asked.

Five, maybe ten seconds; come on, breakfast is ready!

Ron and Tommy arrived just as their mom was starting to eat her own breakfast; Dad had already eaten lightly, as always, and was reading the paper at the table. Tommy sat down and began to eat. “I think there's a new guy at school,” he remarked. “someone I haven't seen before anyway. Big guy, a senior. I clobbered him at arm-wrestling. He didn't take it too well.” Dad's eyes didn't leave the paper, but his single raised eyebrow invited Tommy to continue. “Well, he took a swing at me and grabbed at me. I just punched him in the stomach and he went down.” Ron couldn't help grinning. He and Tommy often exchanged full-strength gut punches for fun, and he knew there weren't a whole lot of guys who could take one of Tommy's punches when he got mad.

Their mom wasn't quite so amused, though. “You didn't get into another fight?” She looked more resigned than worried, but, perhaps out of a sense of maternal duty, added, “Everyone will think you're just a bully.

Well, he started it. And that's not fair; you know how much I hate bullies, Mom! And people who are all full of themselves and are sure they're so important! I just gave him what he had coming!” He saw everyone else at the table looking at him (Dad was still looking in the paper, but the tilt of his head showed he was now listening attentively), and calmed down a little. “OK, OK, maybe I sometimes blow up a little too fast, maybe this time, I don't know. But you know that when I see people picking on Kyle, or putting down gay people or people who are weaker than they are, I can't just stand there doing nothing!

Tommy looked over at Ron. “You know how it is, Ron, you're much stronger than me, you know what it's like. I mean, sometimes I just pass people that I don't like in the hall, and I think, I could beat them up, stick their face in the toilet, whatever. I could beat up anyone in the school!” His right hand worked around the very solid steel cereal spoon he was using and bent it double, with little effort. (“Straighten that spoon out, please,” said his dad without raising his eyes from the paper.) “But I don't; so why should I let them get away with acting like that? When that senior gay-bashed me so badly, what, three years ago? you were right there and gave it to him but good!

Ron nodded. “Nobody is telling you not to defend yourself, or not to protect Kyle the way I will always protect you,” he said. “But you're getting stronger so fast, sometimes don't know your own strength, and sometimes you use more force than you need to. You know that line from Spider-Man? ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ I think it cuts both ways. People as strong as we are can't just sit by idly when we can stop people like that, and I'd hurt that guy just as badly if I had it to do over again. But if you don't realize that you can really hurt someone more than you intend, and just go in swinging when you don't have to, then you're not much better than the bullies yourself. I guess what I'm saying is, make sure you're really the Good Guy before you start hitting.” Their father nodded approvingly as he read his paper. He could always depend on Ron to tell Tommy the right thing, and his words held a lot of weight with Tommy, who was himself nodding thoughtfully. Mom just sighed again.

Well, just don't go out looking for trouble, please? Oh, my, look at the time. Come on, I have to get to work early today; I can drop you off at school this morning if you hurry, Tommy.

Tommy got out of the car and started up the walkway to the main school building. Kyle, who had apparently arrived a bit early today himself, was standing near the door waiting for him. His eyes lit up and he smiled as Tommy approached. People say that after you have been going out with someone for a year, things like their smile don't melt you any more, Tommy thought as he returned Kyle's smile and gave him a good-morning hug. They are lying! Every time I see him smile at me, it melts me! Kyle was more pleased than usual to see Tommy, and he told him about his nightmare, and how scared he had been.

Tommy gave Kyle's hand a reassuring gentle squeeze. “You don't ever have to worry, Kyle. I'll always be here to take care of you, just like Ron takes care of me. Hey! Brian! What's up?

Tommy and Kyle's friend Brian (“straight, but not narrow!” as Kyle liked to say) walked up to join them as the went in the front door of the school. “Hey, Boydster, whassup! Hey, you know my sister? Well, she has this friend, and her sister is in your math class with Kyle? And she said that her friend said that her sister said that she …

Excerpt from Kyle's Diary: Tuesday, Feb 3 (5:30 pm):

Tommy is so cool sometimes. Even though he knows that he's so hot, there is something about the way he carries himself and walks and acts that is very laid back; but not in a stupid sort of way. Kind of an easy confidence that I just love. And today he did something that was wonderful. There's this girl in our math class who usually sits on her own in the back — not much to look at maybe, but really nice inside, I'm sure. Anyway, Tommy heard through the usual grapevine that she likes him. So he made a point of going over to her and talking to her and being really nice. And when Tommy talks to you, he really talks to you; he sits very close (without you feeling like he's too close, somehow), and really listens. He isn't one of those people that when you speak, you are getting the impression that they are just waiting for you to finish so they can speak.

Anyway, she obviously enjoyed talking with Tommy, and although she knows there is no chance of actually getting ‘lucky’ with him (I know what sort of girl he finds sexy), it was probably nice to talk to him close up and must have made her day. Probably earned her some social points in the girls' pecking order too.

I guess there are people who think that because he sometimes gets into fights and is so strong that he must be some kind of bully or thug; but to me, he's a knight who doesn't even need shining armor at all.