Not Always Easy

By Kit

This story is about how a gay teen male and some of his friends experience different types of friendship and different sorts of love. Some
of those experiences involve sexual activity between males - if this is likely to offend you, or is illegal where you live then do not read this
story. This story is completely fictional and any resemblances to real people are purely coincidental.
This is the first story  I've ever written so comments, especially nice ones, and constructive criticisms are always welcome.
The story is copyright of the author and may not be distributed or placed on any web sites without written permission from the author.

Whether you like the story or not PLEASE let me know - the only way I know if anyone is reading this story is if you tell me!

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I love to get emails and will respond to all comments, except flames.

Chapter 6 - Preserving Friendship

When I woke up I was lying on my back and my mind was being flooded by a deluge of sensations, and most noticeable and pleasurable were the feelings emanated from my cock. Normally it takes me a long time to become fully awake in the morning and the waking process usually requires at least one mug of tea, but that particular morning was an exception. The pleasurable physical stimulation bypassed the need for the chemical stimulation normally provided by my morning tea.

As my consciousness returned that Friday morning I found that a hand was slowly rubbing my erect penis and the movement of my foreskin over the head of my cock was sending waves of pleasure to my brain. The hand producing these feelings was not my own. The next things to reach my awareness were that a hard tubular object was rubbing against my left thigh and there was a weight on the lower half of my chest. Opening my eyes and looking downward I could see ginger hair covering the top of a head, which was resting on my chest.

 "Mornin' Robbie," I mumbled.

 "Mornin' sleepyhead," Robbie responded without moving his head. It seemed that he was studying my penis with great interest. I could feel his throat vibrate slightly over my stomach when he continue. "Did I mention last night that you have a gorgeous dick?"

 "Don't think so... can't remember..."

 "Well, I was bit distracted last night," he said, "so I'll tell ya now - you've got a gorgeous dick." I smiled and could feel a blush spread across my cheeks. He started humping his cock against my thigh and it felt so wet and slippery that I guessed he'd been leaking quite a lot of pre-cum.

 "Having fun?" I asked.

 "Yeah - are you?"

 "Mmmm. How long have ya been molesting me?"

 "Ohhh... just a few minutes... it was fun watching it go from soft to hard."

No more was said for awhile and the only sounds were the slapping of my foreskin  and the slight squeak of bedsprings produced by Rob's humping motion. Luxuriating in the sensations he was producing in my cock, I reached down and began stroking Rob's head and running my fingers through his hair. Lying on his right side, Rob was able to use only his left hand on my penis, and as he was right-handed the pace was slow.

Two or three times I approached orgasm, but didn't quite get there. Rob probably noticed this because he then moved and sat Indian-style, facing me. I opened my eyes again and saw his wide mischievous  smile as he moved his gaze up and down my body, from my face to my genitals. His cock was stiff and the head, half-covered by his foreskin, bounced off his abdomen as he moved.

 "Don't stop!" I said in a hoarse whisper.

Rob returned to his task and returned to wanking me; this time his right hand stroked my cock while his left hand massaged my balls and stroked the skin between my scrotum and my anus. I shivered with pleasure and moved my legs apart slightly to give him easier access to that sensitive area.  By now I was fully awake and with my head propped on my pillow I could see his hand on my cock.  This sight, combined with the increased speed of his stroking quickly pushed me over the edge and several jets of cum left trails between my chin and my pubes. I had to clamp my mouth shut in order to avoid screaming with pleasure.

As my muscles relaxed and I bathed in the afterglow of my orgasm, Rob lay on top of me and began kissing me lightly all over my face. When he licked my eyebrows it tickled so much I could not suppress a giggle. He then started humping against me, his hard cock, made slippery by my cum and his pre-cum, rubbing against my own softening organ. He stopped kissing my face and raised himself slightly on his arms so that he could look down into my eyes, but he didn't stop grinding his cock into mine. I lost myself in his beautiful green-blue eyes and I think that under different circumstances the grins on our faces would have looked pretty silly.

My cum made the area between our abdomens very slippery and his humping movements began to slide his cock from my pubes almost up to my ribs. His movements speeded up and as his orgasm began he plunged his mouth onto mine and his tongue invaded my mouth. He groaned into my mouth as his semen squirted out to mix with my own between our two bodies. His head collapsed next to mine on the pillow and his chin nestled on my right shoulder.

We stayed like that for a few minutes with me gently stroking his back. Then the stickiness between our bodies became uncomfortable for both of us and he rolled off me. I reached for the bedside tissues and proceeded to wipe us both down. Rob, with a quiet smile and sparkling eyes, lay staring at the ceiling and I lay down on my back next to him, taking his left hand in my right hand and squeezing. He turned on his side to look at me, gave me a long deep kiss, then pulled back to look into my eyes.

 "I'm glad you were my first," he said, "You're the kindest, gentlest person I know and you're also very sexy!" He gave a wicked smile and his right hand began to play with my semi-hard cock.

 "What about Ben?" I joked.

 "Doesn't count - I didn't cum with him and we didn't even get naked."

I wanted to tell him that I thought I was falling in love with him, but I was afraid of scaring him off.  Glancing at the bedside clock I saw it was after 10 am - mum and dad would have gone to work ages ago. John was almost certainly out of bed by now but I couldn't hear any sounds in the house, so I thought he had probably gone out. I felt very sweaty and sticky and much in need of a shower.

 "I need a shower before breakfast," I said," how about you?" He nodded and I continued. "D'you wanna go first?" He gave me a wicked grin.

 "Why not both together?" he asked.

 "Mmmmm... sounds like fun!" Apart from showers in school and at various swimming pools, I'd never showered with anyone else before, and the idea made me stiff again. "I'll just check that the coast is clear."

I got out of bed, put on my dressing gown and opened my bedroom door. The hallway was clear and the house was quiet. I gave a 'thumbs up' sign to Rob, who was standing between the two beds, and with Rob still naked we both crossed the hall to the bathroom. As soon as we both got inside the bathroom I locked the door and removed my dressing gown. Rob gave me a big hug from behind and I could feel his cock, which had regained its erection, bouncing off my ass cheeks. After turning on the water and getting the temperature just right I got in the shower and Rob squeezed in behind me.

Most of our bodies were in contact with one another. As the shower was not very big we could not have avoided intimacy, even if we wanted to do so. We rubbed shower gel over one another, taking turns squirting it from the tube into our hands. The feeling was extremely erotic and it gave us an excuse to explore one another even more intimately than we had before. We hugged and rubbed our soapy cocks together and when I rubbed my soapy hand in his crack and over his anal opening Rob jumped and squealed with pleasure.

We spent some time wanking one another with soapy hands, but it was just gentle play and I don't think either of us had any intention on going all the way to orgasm. This was just as well, because at that point we had been in the shower such a long time that I felt the water become cooler. I told Rob that we'd better hurry and rinse off before the water became totally cold, and we just about managed to remove all the soap before the water temperature became unbearably cool.

After drying off we wrapped towels round our waists and returned to my bedroom. As I began to hunt out clean clothes for myself I asked Rob if he wanted to borrow any of my clothes rather than put on the clothes he'd worn the previous night.

 "No thanks, I got some clean clothes here," he said as he emptied one of the shopping bags he'd brought with him.

 "You had this all planned, then?" I asked with a smile.

 "Well, I believe in being prepared... I fancy you and I got the impression you might fancy me... we get on well. So I thought there was a good chance that I would get lucky and have my first sexual experience with you - my best friend." As he finished saying this he had put on some dark blue briefs and was unfolding a black t-shirt. I had put on my boxers and was trying to choose a shirt.

 "And... ermmm... how do you feel about me now?" I asked, deciding to take a chance and maybe expose my feelings about him.

 "Feel? Not sure what you mean," he said, smiling shyly and looking slightly embarrassed. "I've never felt closer to anyone in my life than I feel to you now." That answer could be interpreted in different ways and was not quite what I was hoping for, so I thought the best thing to do was to get straight to the point.

 "I love you," I said. As Rob sat on the bed, pulling on a pair of jeans, several expressions crossed his face: confusion, discomfort, concern...

 "I love you as a friend," he eventually said. My heart sank. "Do you... do you mean you love me in a different way?"

 "Of course I love you as a friend as well, and I'm also falling *in* love with you. But I gather you don't feel the same?"

 "I've never been in love... just a few crushes." It seemed to me that he was side-stepping my question. "Once I thought I was falling in love with Ben, but now I think it was just infatuation... Look, I'm sorry if I'm hurting your feelings!" He looked as miserable as I felt and we both just stared at the carpet for a while.

 "No, I'm glad that you are being honest. I appreciate that a lot," I said. My own feelings were confused; several emotions in succession rose to the surface and then sank again, to be replaced by others. As I tried to sort out my feelings, we both continued to get dressed.

Obviously I was disappointed that he didn't feel the same as I did about our relationship. I felt rejected and the anger I felt shocked me because I knew it was not justified. He'd never pretended to be in love with me; he'd not tricked me or pressured me into a sexual interaction; I had been just as much in control of the situation as he had been. I was hurt and to my shame my first reaction was that I wanted to hurt him back, but I clamped my jaws shut and refused to say any of the nasty things that just popped into my mind. Eventually I felt sufficiently under control to speak reasonably.

 "Do you think you could ever fall in love with me... if we got to know one another better?" I asked, a slight tremble in my voice. Rob looked up; there were tears in his eyes but he wasn't really crying.

 "Honestly? I don't know," he said. "Could I get to know you much better than I do already? I don't know if my feelings will change in the future... but I do know I love you as my best friend and I want us to stay friends. I'm sorry if I messed things up... and I'll do anything to keep you as a friend."

Then he began to sob, and tears poured down his cheeks.  I went over and sat next to him on the bed. Putting my left arm over his shoulders I put my right hand on top of both his hands, which were clenched together on his lap.

 "Robbie, please don't be upset. I guess I just expected too much," I said. "I'll always be your friend." I wanted desperately to make him feel better, and my reasoning said that I wanted that last statement to be true; but deep in my heart my churning emotions made me wonder if I really could remain as his friend. That thought made me feel guilty and ashamed, thus adding further to my own misery.

By the time Rob had stopped crying and my own emotions had begun to calm down it was almost noon. Suddenly I felt very hungry and my stomach rumbled. He lifted his head from where it was  resting on my shoulder and dabbing his face with a handful of tissues. After blowing his nose a few times, he looked up at me.

 "So are we still friends, really?" he asked, his voice trembling.

 "Yes, really," I replied. "Anyway, I don't know about you, but I'm starving! Do you want something to eat?"

 "OK, yes... thanks. Then I'd better get home."

Rob re-packed his shopping bags and we went downstairs. To my surprise John was already there, warming some soup in the microwave. When John turned to greet us both he did not seem in the least surprised to see that Rob was with me.

 "Been in long?" I asked John.

 "In? I've not been out... the weather was gloomy so I stayed in reading and watching some TV."

 "Oh..." I said. Unless the weather was quite bad John usually preferred going out rather than staying in - and unlike me, he rarely did much reading unless it was part of his school work. "What time did you get up this morning?" I asked.

 "With mum and dad - they told me Rob was staying over."  Unlike me, John was a 'morning person'. "Fancy some soup and bread? I can easily warm up some more soup." .

 "Yes, please," I said.

 "What sort of soup is it?" asked Rob.

 "Thai chicken," John replied, showing us the can.

 "That'd be great, thanks," Rob said, "As long as it's not mushroom. I hate mushroom soup!"

John added another large can of soup into the microwave bowl and set it to heat up while he sliced some more bread.

 "You two have a nice shower?" John asked, without turning round from his task. Rob and I looked at one another and blushed. Still with his back to us, John continued: "And I guess you had a really bad dream last night, Paul, cos I'm sure I heard you scream... hope you didn't disturb Rob's sleep..."

I could see John's shoulders shaking and could tell he was trying to suppress his laughter - he was clearly having great fun trying to embarrass Rob and me. Neither Rob nor myself responded to his obvious teasing and to change the subject we just started talking about Rob's impending GCSE exams. While John was putting bread and bowls on the table, Rob mentioned that he was having problems with calculus and parts of his chemistry course, and that he'd need to improve them both to get into the Sixth form next year.

 "Paul's good at all that stuff," John told Rob. "He's always helping me out and he's pretty good at explaining things... maybe he'll give you a hand." John put a slight emphasis on the word 'hand' and winked at me. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or yell at him, so I just forced myself to keep a neutral expression on my face.

 "Would you? Help me out with studying?" Rob asked, giving me a shy smile.

 "Yeah,  I'm sure we can arrange something." I replied. The lack of enthusiasm in my voice was  unintentional, but Rob's smile vanished, so he must have detected it.

 "You have your little brother well trained." Rob attempted to change the subject. "I wish I could get my sister to be so domesticated!"

 "Hey!" John said before I could respond. "It's only cos we have a guest and I was doing it anyway or he'd be getting his own lunch!" John grinned and started putting soup in the bowls.

After sorting out our drinks we concentrated on eating and apart from a little light banter there was no serious conversation. Just as we were clearing the table there was a knock on the back door and Mike, as he usually did, just walked in. No matter how gloomy and cloudy the day, seeing Mike always made me feel brighter, and that lunch time was no exception.

 "Hi guys!" Mike beamed. "I just came over to see what you had planned for today." Then he gave Rob a big grin. "I see you've got a guest. Isn't someone going to introduce us?"

 "Mike, this is Rob. Rob, this is Mike," I said simply. They nodded and smiled at one another.

 "Mike is Paul's best friend," John added, as far as I could see for no particular reason. Rob gave me a slightly sad look and for some reason I felt guilty. Everything seemed to be just beyond my understanding. Why did John add a comment about Mike being my best friend? Why did Rob look sad about it? Why did I feel guilty?

 "Ah!" Mike said, looking from Rob to me and back again. "So you're the famous Rob we've heard so much about!" Rob and I both blushed.

 "Er.. I guess so..." Rob muttered, then he looked up at me. "Well, maybe I'll find out sometime what you heard, but now I'd better get home and do some studying."

 "OK - I'll give you a ride," I said.

 "How about I come along too and we can go straight into town from there?" Mike suggested. "I wanted to look round the shops today. Maybe John wants to come too?" Mike looked at John and raised an eyebrow.

 "Yeah, that'd be great! I've nothing better to do," John said.

 "Right, then," I said, "let's get this show on the road!" John and I grabbed our light summer jackets, Rob picked up his bags, and we all went out to my car.


During the drive to Rob's house I hardly said a word. Most of the time Mike, in the back of the car with John,  was asking Rob about school, family, favourite music, etc., and for the most part Rob kept his answers as short as possible. When we dropped him off home it seemed to me that Rob was very subdued and relieved to get out of the car. Rob's only words as he got out were a polite thanks to me and a general goodbye to us all.

While I watched Rob walk to his front door and get out his keys, John and Mike were arguing about which of them should sit up front. Suddenly I felt that I should do something and just sitting there in silence was not a good option, so without giving it any real thought, I wound down my window.

 "Hey, Robbie!" Rob turned to look at me. "Call me tonight, OK?" He smiled and nodded, then waved his hand and went indoors. Mike and John looked at one another; both of them winked and mouthed the word 'Robbie'. Presumably they had somehow agreed who should ride shotgun because John got out of the back of the car and joined me up front.

As soon as we set off for town both John and Mike chorused "Well??!!"

 "Well, Rob stayed over last night," I said.

 "We know that!" Mike said. "So are you boyfriends now?"

 "How did you know he stayed over?" I said, looking at Mike.

 "John phoned me while you two were in the shower." Mike grinned and winked at me.

 "What!!" I yelled, feeling a bit exposed and irritated. "Don't I have any secrets?" I glared at John. "And how did you know we were both in the shower?"

 "I didn't think you kept secrets from your brother and your best friend," John answered with a mischievous grin, "I was going to get a video from my room this morning and when I went past the bathroom I could hear you two in there...  you were both giggling and stuff... Oh, and I don't believe for a minute you had a nightmare last night!"

 "Nightmare?" Mike said to John. "What's this about a nightmare?"

 "Let's just say," John said with a wink, "that the screams from Paul's bedroom last night sounded like the sort of 'nightmare' he enjoyed." My face glowed red and then my embarrassment was replaced by concern.

 "Er... you don't think mum and dad heard anything do you?" I asked John.

 "Nah... doubt it. Their room isn't next to yours like mine is." I breathed a sigh of relief, but was still a little worried.

 "Anyway," Mike said, jumping up and down in the back seat, "you never answered my question... are you and Rob boyfriends now?"

 "No!" I said bluntly. John and Mike looked at one another then at me and I could tell they didn't believe me. "Look I'll tell you more later, but not while I'm driving. When we get to town, OK?"

I parked the car on the edge of the town centre where the parking charges were much cheaper and it was only an extra 5 minutes walk to the shops. They refused to get out of the car until I'd explained my earlier cryptic denial, so I told them everything except for the sexual details .

 "Aw, that's sad," Mike said, "Rob seems like a nice guy. Shy and quiet, but nice. But you did do sex stuff?"

 "Yeah, some," I admitted.

 "D'ya think you'll do it again?" Mike asked.

 "Dunno. Maybe he won't want to... maybe I don't want to..."

 "Why not?" John asked.

 "Would you have sex with someone who was just a friend?" I asked John.

 "Might do... if it was a girl!" John grinned.

 "I've messed about with a girl who was just a friend," Mike added.

 "But what if one of you was falling in love and the other wasn't?" I asked.

 "Mmm, I see what ya mean," Mike said. John just looked thoughtful.

 "Anyways," I said to Mike after a few moments silence, "I thought you wanted to do some shopping. What are you looking for?"

 "Thought I might look for a little something for Sue," Mike replied.

 "Is it her birthday?" John asked.

 "No, just feel like getting something nice for her..." Mike rarely looked embarrassed, but just then he looked pretty close to it.

 "Oooo!" said John, "it must be lurrrrve!"  Mike playfully tapped the back of John's head with the palm of his hand.

 "And," Mike continued, "as I was about to say before I was so rudely interrupted, I'm meeting Sue for coffee later and she said she'd like to meet you guys sometime soon."

 "Meet me and John? Why?" I said.

 "Sheesh, Paul!" Mike said, "for a brainy guy you can sometimes be really thick.  She knows you're my best friend and that you and John are like the brothers I never had. I told her how your family looked after me when things got bad at home... isn't it natural that  Sue wants to meet the people who are so close to me?"

 "So you and Sue really are serious!" said John, stating the obvious.

 "Yeah," Mike replied.


Having nothing better to do, John and I wandered round a seemingly random selection of shops  with Mike. Then it seemed Mike concentrated his attentions on jewellers. All the time the three of us chatted about anything that entered our heads and it occurred to me that no matter how close I felt to Rob, even after sexual intimacy, I still felt more at ease and relaxed with my best friend and my brother.

Finally, Mike decided he was going to buy Sue a silver chain with a small heart-shaped medallion, and have it inscribed with their initials. John and I laughed at the idea of the medallion being inscribed 'S&M' or even 'M&S' so between us we came up with the idea of 'S' on one side and 'M' on the other. While Mike was inside the shop getting the inscription done, John and I waited outside.

 "Ya know," John whispered quietly to me, "when ya told me about... about you... and I said that now I couldn't ask your advice about girls?"

 "Yeah," I said, a bit puzzled.

 "Well after we talked in the car about friends and sex and stuff,  I think I could ask you after all. I mean, some problems are the same no matter what bits get connected, if ya see what I mean."  I nodded and smiled, suddenly feeling very proud of my little brother and thinking that he was growing up pretty quickly.

After Mike came out of the jewellers and rejoined us we wandered to the cafe where Mike had arranged to meet Sue. The cafe was a stylish modern design with shiny metal tables  and I was glad that Mike and Sue had not decided to meet in one of those false 'Olde Worlde Tea Shoppe' type places. We sat at a rectangular table near a large window which overlooked the street. Mike and I were nearest the window facing one another and John sat next to me on my left, facing the empty seat where Sue would later be sitting.

There was almost 30 minutes before Mike expected to see Sue, and we ordered drinks while we waited. Mike told us he intended giving Sue the chain and medallion that evening when he had arranged to go over to her house. That day being Friday I was a little disappointed because it had been a sort of tradition for years  that Mike sleep over at our house on Friday nights. However, I took care not to show any signs of my disappointment.  As I sipped my tea I felt a bit nervous about meeting her for the first time. After all, in all important respects apart from blood, Mike was my brother and so I wanted to make a good impression on someone who might be my future sister-in-law!

When Sue arrived I was quite impressed. Mike certainly had good taste in girlfriends and if I had been so inclined I would probably have found her very attractive. She was about 5''9", slim, with straight shoulder-length honey-blond hair, pale blue eyes, and a very pleasing smile. As she entered Mike stood up and she rushed over to him, giving him a big hug and a kiss on the lips. Mike introduced us and as soon as she sat down next to him the pair of them held hands. I thought wistfully that if I ever had a boyfriend it would have been nice if I could have been as open with him in public as Mike and Sue had just been.

We ordered more coffee (tea for me) and a selection of cream cakes. While we waited for our order to arrive the only conversation was light introductory chit-chat about weather, how long we'd been waiting etc. When I saw the way Mike looked at Sue it was clear he was totally besotted with her, and a quick glance to my left showed that John was also quite enamoured with her. The cakes were excellent and as soon as they appeared I was suddenly starving and tucked into my share with gusto. Because I was concentrating on food I didn't contribute very much to the conversation, just saying the occasional word, smiling, nodding, or shaking my head as appropriate.

Listening to the conversation it became clear that Sue was no bimbo; she was intelligent, had definite ideas on most of the topics covered, and she was not shy about expressing those opinions. Overall I liked her and for the second time since she'd joined us I thought to myself that Mike had good taste in girlfriends. It didn't take long for us to dispose of the cakes and while we waited for the bill we discussed our plans for the rest of the day. Mike and Sue decided to stay in town then go on to her house later, so John and I decided that we just go straight home.


On the way home John was enthusing about Sue's physical and mental attributes until I eventually tried to bring him down to Earth.

 "No point in going on about Sue, she's taken. You ought to look for a girlfriend of your own, cos I don't think Mike wants to share his!" I said.

 "Well, I can have my fantasies, can't I?" John responded. I just smiled and decided to change the subject.

 "Just one more week of hols before school..." I started.

 "Don't remind me!" John interrupted with a groan.

 "...and the week  we get back to school is Mike's  birthday," I continued, "so if we're going to get him something we should think about it while we have time to do some shopping."

 "Mmm, good thinking, Batman," John joked, "any ideas?"

 "Just one, but I'm not sure about it, so I was wondering what you think..."

 "OK,  go ahead."

 "Well, did ya notice that Mike seemed interested in some silver signet rings as well as the medallion for Sue?" I asked.

 "Ermm... can't say I did, really."

 "Oh, well... anyway, I noticed it. I thought he must be interested for himself cos the display just had men's rings. There were some nice silver rings for about 50  quid, and I wondered about getting him one and having his initials put on it. What d'ya think?"

 "It's a lotta money isn't it?" John replied.

 "But ya don't think that getting him a ring isn't a bit erm... gay?" I asked.

 "Alex's mum got him a signet ring at Christmas,  so I guess it depends on who gives it. You're his best friend, so it should be OK from you, but it might be odd if I got him something like that."

 "Have ya thought what you might get him?"

 "Nah not yet.  Good job ya reminded me. I'll think about it and let ya know... tell ya what, though, whatever it is can't cost much cos I'm a bit short of cash!"

The rest of the afternoon and evening John and I stayed home doing our own things until our parents arrived home and we were sitting at dinner. If I hadn't had so many things on my mind that day I should have expected that the conversation at dinner would involve my parents asking questions about Rob. However, I hadn't given the matter any thought and so many of their questions caught me unprepared. What movie did we see? Did we enjoy it? What did we do afterwards? What time we went to bed. What time we got up. How long he stayed. Why his parents let him stay out at such short notice?

The questions and my minimal answers went back and forth with John looking from me to my parents and back again. Suddenly I had a vision that we were playing a game of table tennis,  and I couldn't suppress a smile.

 "What's so funny?" dad asked, looking confused. My parents are really nice people so I decided to share my amusement with him. John burst out laughing and, as I expected, my parents saw the funny side of the situation.

 "Sorry, Paul," mum said with a smile, "we didn't mean to behave like the Spanish Inquisition. You know we try to respect your privacy, but your behaviour has been a bit, erm... unusual recently. Especially since Rob seems to have appeared suddenly out of nowhere..."

 "Rob's OK. He's a friend from school." I interrupted.

 "Yeah, Rob's a really nice guy!" John said, backing me up. I gave him a quick glance and a smile to show my appreciation. Both my parents gave John a quizzical look.

 "I didn't mean to imply there was anything wrong with him," mum said. "He certainly seemed nice enough when we met him and you've never given us reason to doubt your judgement about your friends. It just seemed strange that you never mentioned him before you 'rescued' him a couple of weeks ago. And you never really explained why exactly he needed 'rescuing'. We've only met him that one time at breakfast. Not the usual way we meet our children's friends for the first time, so I hope you can see why we might be a little concerned?"

 "Yeah, I understand," I said, "but you may be seeing more of him cos I said I'd help him study for some of his GCSEs." Why did I say that? I mean, with the emotional complications I hadn't even decided whether it would be a good idea, and now I'd opened my mouth without thinking - again!

 "That's nice of you, dear," mum said, "I just hope he doesn't take advantage of you, that's all."

 "I'm sure he won't, mum. He's not like that," I said.

 "And, Paul," dad said, "you do know that if there are any problems you can talk to us... any problems at all. You do know that, don't you?"

 "Yes, dad," I said with a small sigh, and I was relieved when the conversation turned to different and more comfortable topics.

The rest of the evening passed uneventfully and as the previous night with Rob had been rather hectic I was feeling tired, so I decided to have an early night. Just as I was about to go to the bathroom to brush my teeth, my phone rang.

 "Hi, Paul." It was Rob.

 "Hi, Robbie. I thought you might have called earlier. Been busy?"

 "No, just thinking. When you told me to call I wasn't sure if you meant it or were just being polite."

 "So you decided I wasn't being polite?" I asked, only half joking.

 "Actually I decided that trying to stay friends was worth the risk..."

 "What risk?"

 "The risk that you'd just tell me to piss off." His voice was trembling.

 "What makes you think I'd do that?" I asked.

 "Well, I could see that you were hurt this morning when I said I wasn't in love with you... and I can imagine it can't be easy to be friends with someone who doesn't return your feelings."

 "Yes, I was... am... hurt, but you can't help that. And do you really think I'd drop a friend just because they can't give me something I want?"

 "Nnno... I guess not," Rob replied, "but won't you feel a bit uncomfortable with me now?"

 "Honestly? Maybe. But won't you feel uncomfortable being with me and knowing I'd like to be more than friends?"

 "I s'pose, maybe a bit." Then in a firm voice he continued, "But I'll get over it and it doesn't stop me wanting to be friends and do things together."

 "Yeah, well I guess I can get over it, or at least get used to it too," I said, "and maybe someday ya could get to like me more..." I tried to make light of the situation.

 "Paul!! I do like you a lot already. I love you as a friend, but it's just I'm not *in* love with you!" He sounded as if he might be about to cry.

 "So there's not even any chance at all that love could grow?" I asked, quietly. I desperately wanted to cling on to any possible hope.

 "I really don't think so... I mean, I s'pose anything's possible, but I really don't think it will happen." He sounded as upset as I felt. "But no matter what, I really want us to stay friends.  You're the best friend I've ever had and I don't want to lose that. I'd do anything... anything at all to stay friends." He was sobbing, and I was close to tears.

 "Look, Robbie, we're both upset now and we need time to think things out. Let's meet up tomorrow and talk, OK?"

 "OK," Rob said. He sounded uncertain. Perhaps he thought I was giving him the brush-off.

 "OK, I'll phone you tomorrow about lunch time... and Robbie?"


 "Whatever happens, I promise that as far as I'm concerned we're gonna stay friends."

 "Thanks, Paul. G'night, then. Talk tomorrow."

 "G'night, Robbie, sweet dreams," I said, and hung up.