Legal Notice:

The following contains descriptions of mild sexual acts between consenting underage boys. It is an original work of fiction and has no basis in reality.

Do not read this story if:

1) You're not 18 or over.
2) If it is illegal to read this type of material where you live.
3) If you don't want to read about gay/bisexual people in love or having sex.

The author retains copyright (2003) to this story.  Reproducing this story for distribution without the author's permission is a violation of that copyright.

Perry and Jesse:  The Incredibly Romantic (and slightly kinky) Adventures of Two Boys In Love   

Part I--First Encounters


Mid-life crisis!  I used to think it was just an excuse for a middle aged guy to run out and buy a shiny new convertible on credit, or an apology to justify a little bit of marital indiscretion, or a justification to  get up and leave your dull boring job and drive up to the mountains for a week--Boy,  was I ever wrong!  Because I’ve got it...Real Bad!  I feel like I don’t quite fit into my life anymore.  Not that I have it half bad.  I won’t bore you with all the details, but I have a wife of many years, two healthy, intelligent kids, a nice house in a nice suburban neighborhood, and money--money’s not a problem.  So what’s the crisis?  Damned if I can tell you.  It’s just that, for the last year or so, I’ve started to question everything in my life:  my work, my friends, my family, my religious beliefs, my tastes in  music, movies, books, the way I talk, the way I get the idea.  Everything feels just...not...quite...right.   But enough of this babbling.  That’s not what you’re here for.  I’ve decided, as a bit of self therapy, to go back to a very different part of my life and try to write some of it down.  I’ve never done anything like this before, and it may not help--in fact, it might just make things worse.  We’ll see...   

I have to go back more than thirty years to get to the beginning of the story, and that’s a long way to go back.  Surprisingly, some events, some moments, remain incredibly vivid in my memory:  I can remember exactly the way people sounded, I can remember exactly how they dressed, even what the weather was like.  Other things tend to get blurred together: certain people’s faces or voices aren’t as clear to me anymore as others are, I can’t remember the exact sequence of a particular series of events, I remember things one way one day, and another way the next day...But rest assured, what I’m putting down here is not just a gilded memory of the past as viewed  through rose colored glasses.  Certainly, there will be some exaggeration and compression of dialogue and events, and a very limited amount of dramatic license to move things along smoothly.  There may even be a bit of editorializing--after all, I’ve learned a few things over the last thirty years!  But be warned that some of  what you read here will be dark and disturbing in nature, or just downright strange!  And yet, all these things happened, and all these people are real.  I’ve changed the names, and most of the locations, and left the year unspecified for now.  I’ve given myself the name of Perry Thompson--a quiet, unassuming name for a quiet, unassuming kid. Suffice it to say, that it’s not too long after the dawning of the new millennium.  And if I’ve forgotten some of the slang of my youth, or the name of a particular video game or pop music group, I hope you’ll understand...You can blame it on this damned mid-life crisis!

Chapter 1  The New Kid

My name is Perry Thompson, and I was less than three months away from turning fourteen.  I was in the eighth grade at St. Boniface, a small Catholic school in Santa Corina.  I had started there only last year, but was already getting a little sad (and apprehensive) about leaving for Holy Trinity High School next year.   I’m Catholic, but I guess I don’t think about religion too much--at least I didn’t until he came along...  

I’ll try to tell you what I looked like way back when, but mostly from what others have told me or things I have overheard (hehehe).   I was about average height for my age--almost 5’7’’, and kind of skinny.  My hair was brown, not light and not dark, just plain brown.  It was naturally wavy and I kept it a little long so that it just covered my ears.  I had bangs that I kept combed back, parting my hair in the middle.  Why I kept it this long, I don’t really know, except that I had the feeling my mom liked it that way.  It was always a problem though, kind of dysfunctional you might say--always sticking up in unexpected places or falling in my eyes or getting matted to my forehead when I was sweaty.   Most of the other boys kept their hair short, almost  in a brush cut.  Those with hair closer to my length tended to spike it, but I hated putting that greasy stuff in my hair.  I was surprised to see that, over the summer, a couple of the guys had even bleached their hair that weird whitish blond color that seemed to be all the rage.  Again, not for me.  I had (and have) hazel eyes, kind of big with long lashes that got in my way sometimes.   People were always saying what beautiful eyes I had, but I think they gave me away all too often.  They were too expressive.  Anyone who knew me for more than a couple of minutes could read me like an open book, and that was mostly because of my eyes, I suspect.  Sad, happy, angry, shocked, disinterested, it was all right there up front.  So I tended to be kind of shy-- keeping my head down a lot, trying not to make too much eye contact.  I guess it was a bit of a defense mechanism.  

Besides my eyes, I would have to say that the rest of my features were rather plain and ordinary: I had a sort of small nose--like my mom, and kind of full lips and a rather dull looking chin.  I used to have some freckles across the bridge of my nose, but as I approached my fourteenth birthday, they had all but disappeared.  No zits yet, thank goodness!    

As far as sports went, I was a fast runner although I didn’t like track.  Last year, I started playing on the school basketball team and it turned out to be a blast!   I also played baseball last spring and I had a good time, so I was thinking of doing that again when the season came around.  Besides being into video games and movies like every other teenager in the world, I also loved to read, especially science fiction and fantasy,  but occasionally taking a detour into Stephen King and Peter Straub (really scary stuff!).

I lived alone with my mom.  My parents got divorced  almost two years ago and my dad moved out of town--way out of town, in fact-- to the other side of the country for crying out loud!  He was always nice to me and my mom, but sometimes seemed a little distracted.  He was a lawyer and used to spend a lot of time at work.  It turned out he was having an affair with his high school sweetie!  They had split up years ago and had  both gone on to study law in different schools.  She had ended up at a big firm in Manhattan.  My dad, who worked for a big malpractice firm in San Diego, met up with her again at some conference or convention in Las Vegas, and things progressed rapidly from there.  Eventually, she offered my dad a position in that big firm in New York and he decided to take it.
Things worked out great for him because of my mom.  She was just too nice.  They had met in pre-law at UCSD and fell in love.  They got married sooner rather than later, and she quit school and got a  job as a paralegal to pay my dad’s way through law school.  When he started working for the district attorney, she became  part time.  I came along pretty quickly, and my dad moved into private practice and things seemed to be going fine until that Vegas thing.  That was about four years ago, and it was all downhill from there.  

My mom could have screwed him over big time with the divorce laws in California, but she settled for a very reasonable alimony and very generous child support.  So we had money, and my mom went back to paralegalling--full time now, and I started going to St. Boniface--my mom’s alma mater.   When we were all together, we lived in a big, fancy house in La Jolla.  When the divorce thing had pretty much played itself out, we moved to the small town of Santa Corina, about forty miles from the Southern California coast.  We moved to a smaller, but still nice house closer to her job and coincidentally close to her old elementary/middle school.  I was really hurt and angry at my dad, even ashamed at the way he had treated my mom.  But I saw how strong she was, how she was able to get along without him even though she still loved him I think, and I just tried to be as strong as her.  I felt bad for her though-- she didn’t deserve the way he treated her.  Now I went out to New York a few times a year--he never fought that hard for custody--and otherwise stayed here in California.  I'd already spent a couple of summers with my dad and his new wife in their swanky Manhattan condo, but they were so busy most of the time, that it was more like living by myself--just a maid and a doorman to keep me company most of the time.  They were always generous with the money, and I pretty much just entertained myself when I was there:  surfing the internet, playing video games, reading, and missing my friends and my mom mostly.  

That about brings you up to the point where this story starts: less than three months before my fourteenth birthday.  That’s when the new kid showed up in our class, and that’s when everything that had been my life was suddenly turned upside down...
It was the middle of September and school had been in session for several  weeks already.  His name was Jesse Taylor and he made our small class jump from twenty three to twenty four students-- twelve boys and twelve girls.   Sister Mary Margaret, our homeroom and math teacher, introduced him, saying he was from Illinois and was an honor roll student at his old school so we had better be on our toes.  Some kids groaned when she said that, resenting the extra challenge he might represent.  She seated him behind me and said she’d probably switch the two of us later to keep  the seating in alphabetical order (that seemed to be a big deal to her).

It made me a little nervous having someone new sitting right behind me.  After all, it was a small class in a small school, and it sort of felt like a big (sometimes dysfunctional) family, and suddenly it was like some second cousin you never heard of showing up at your door.  But there was also something else about him that caught my attention immediately.  He was gorgeous!  He had golden, silky blond hair that was parted in the middle like mine but a little longer, the neatly combed bangs hanging in his eyes when he lowered his head.  He had light blue eyes that seemed almost crystalline in their brilliance, and there was no denying the intelligence that emanated from them.  His skin was a little paler than the rest of the Caucasian kids in the class, coming from the Midwest  and all, but it was so smooth you just wanted to touch it.  He had high cheekbones and a cute nose.  He had full red lips that were at the moment tightly pursed.  There wasn’t a hint of acne, scars, or weird birthmarks on that flawless face.  He had  only the lightest traces of nearly transparent hair on his cheeks and upper lip.  He was slightly shorter than me and had a slender body that seemed perfectly proportioned.  There was something about the way he carried himself that not only emphasized his overt shyness, but also gave him a kind of delicate appearance.  It seemed like a person might be able to knock him over with a feather.  

Today, like the rest of us, he wore a variation on the school uniform; in this case, a white, short sleeved polo shirt neatly tucked into belted khaki Dockers.  On his feet he wore brown Vans sneakers with fat white laces tied in big floppy bows.  You probably think it’s weird that I called him gorgeous, but that’s really the way he struck me.

Of course, I liked girls just fine.  I mean, at age thirteen and nine months, it wasn’t like I was chasing them around or anything.  I could appreciate a pretty face, a nicely shaped body, and a healthy rack as much as the next guy, but up until now, I hadn’t felt the urge to seek out their company.   Like I said, I was shy, so I did my appreciating from afar.  At some point, I discovered the joys of jacking off, and I sometimes thought about a girl at school and what it would be like to touch her hair, or kiss her, or even cop a feel.  I didn’t  have to think very hard, because I seemed to be able to get horny at the drop of a hat, and most of my private sessions required a minimum of mental effort to be successful.

There were three girls that especially caught my attention in our class: Katherine Mulroney, Jessica  Bainbridge, and especially Melissa Doering...she had boobs like a sixteen year old and all the other guys practically drooled whenever she would deign to smile at any of them.  I even found myself on the receiving end of some feminine affection--I’d get notes and weird little gifts and shit like that.   People would tell me that I was cute, but when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was a skinny, brown haired kid.  Hmmm, maybe it’s those big hazel eyes...

As far as boys went, I did sometimes notice attractive things about them.  Maybe there was something about a guy’s hair, or his eyes, or just the way he carried himself that caught my eye.  I never imagined that I’d ever do anything about it--they were guys, and to think about ‘doing’ anything with them would mean I was gay--and that, it had been drilled into my head a hundred different ways, was just plain wrong.  You didn’t want to go there.  It meant you were a freak, a pervert, even an outcast.  If I thought about boys sometimes when I was jacking off instead of girls, or I thought about both, what difference did it make as long as it got the job done?  I always figured that, when the time was right, and I met the right girl, I’d be in there with the best of them, putting my arm around her, whispering silly things in her ear, kissing her or holding her hand, and when the opportunity presented itself, maybe copping that all important feel.
But until now, none of this really seemed to matter.  Sure, I had discovered the joys of jacking off, but what I thought about in the confines of my own bedroom didn’t seem to have much bearing on the real world.  I did a lot of reading, knew my way around the internet, and  had an extremely fertile imagination.  I even discovered that I had a weird little fetish, but I’ll tell you more about that later(hehehe).  So as far as finding guys occasionally attractive--what did it hurt?  I never  really intended to pursue anyone in that fashion--at least until now...
The moment I laid eyes on him, he just struck me as a perfect embodiment of young teenage beauty--that golden blond hair, that perfectly proportioned body, those high cheekbones--and those crystal blue eyes--they were unbelievable!!!   My first thought was what a gorgeous couple he and Melissa would make, or maybe he and Jessica or...Anyway, I just assumed he’d be a chick magnet with those incredibly good looks.  No guy in our class could rival him there.  Kyle Richardson, captain of the football team this year, with his square jaw  and gleaming white, movie star smile was probably his closest competition with his all-American good looks.   But he paled in comparison.   Jesse Taylor looked like he had just stepped off the set of some movie or TV show, or belonged on the cover of one of those teenybopper magazines.

The rest of the morning passed in a haze.  I found myself unable to concentrate on anything but the new kid.  I found myself focusing on every aspect of his physical being--even his ass!  I couldn’t remember ever thinking about another guy’s ass before!  As the morning wore on, I also found myself  wondering what his life was like before he came here.  I wondered what his family was like.  I wondered what his interests were, what kind of movies he liked.  I hoped that we would share some common interests, like basketball or video games or something.  It was already getting into my head that I wanted to be this kid’s friend--not because he was new or alone, but because I needed to be, for some reason I didn’t fully understand yet.

As for Jesse, he seemed to have the ‘new kid’ jitters pretty badly.  Even though the kids didn’t change as we went from class to class, the teachers did, and Jesse would blush profoundly each time he was forced to introduce himself.  His eyes would drop to his desk anytime someone looked at him.  He played nervously with his pencil, rolling it around in his fingers and occasionally nibbling on it.   He seemed uncomfortable in his seat, and kept shifting around as if even the furniture here was foreign to him.
At  lunch, I sat with my usual buds, Tom, Gene, and Morgan.   We sat outside in the little park-like area where the tables and benches were, opening our brown bags to see what our moms had packed for us.  I was fortunate enough to fall in with a really cool little group of guys when I came to St. Boniface at the beginning of the seventh grade, fresh from my parents’ divorce, and from my childhood home of La Jolla.  Despite my bashful nature, it only took me a few weeks to settle in with the three guys that I was still hanging out with a year later.

Gene Rauch was a big guy with really short sandy blond hair and a thick neck, who was a fullback on our school’s small football team and looked the part.  He was extremely disciplined when it came to exercise and practice, and I knew he jogged most mornings before school.  There was Tom Espinoza, whose dad was Hispanic.  He had a cute, wide eyed face and tight curly black hair.  He pitched for the school baseball team, on which I also played.  He was always full of energy and loved to hang out at the arcade in the Santa Corina mall.  And then there was Morgan Kipner, who I guess, would qualify as my best friend at St. Boniface.  He was one of the tallest kids in the class, standing about 5’10’’ inches, and was the star forward of our basketball team.  He also swam for the junior swim team at the ‘Y’, since St. Boniface didn’t have a pool.   He excelled at both sports, and despite his rather modest looks, was quite the lady’s man.  He had short brown hair and  a long sweet face with the most expressive eyebrows I’d ever seen.  Even though I was still under 5’7’’, basketball was my best sport.  I was fast, accurate, and good at passing.  Morgan and I made a great team, and he often came by my house after school or on weekends to play Horse or just shoot hoops.

The thing that really bound us all together, and set us apart from the herd, was that we all liked to read books  and go to movies as much as we liked sports, girls,  and video games.   Science fiction, fantasy and horror seemed to be the general favorites, and we traded books, compared notes, and went to movies together.

But today, my mind was totally elsewhere.  I looked around for Jesse, and saw him sitting under a tree by himself.  I was extremely pleased to see that he was reading a book.

“We should invite him over,” I said.

“He seems really shy,” Gene observed.  “Maybe we should just give him some time...”

“Shit, he’s reading a book for crying outloud,” I said, only half joking.  “He’s one of us!”

“Go ahead, knock yourself out,” Morgan said between mouthfuls of tuna salad sandwich.

As I got up, I suddenly felt my heart start to pound in my chest.  I felt nervous, I mean really nervous, completely out of whack with the situation.  He was just a new kid in class.  We knew he was smart, we knew he liked to read, and it was obvious that he was a little shy.  But why the sudden rise in my pulse rate?    I guess I knew why, but this sudden infatuation with a real person, not some teenybopper pop star, or some sitcom smart aleck, was new territory for me.  I mean, here he was, a flesh and blood human being who just blew me away in a very physical sense.  And yes--he was a boy--I hadn’t failed to note that as well.  

As I slowly approached him, I noticed the book he was reading was a well worn paperback copy of Dune.  I realized I was starting to sweat, and nervously brushed my forehead with my bare arm.

“Hey, hey there...uh...Jesse...” I stammered hesitantly, trying to keep that weird quiver from my voice.

Jesse slowly looked up to see who it was, and almost as quickly, lowered his gaze back to his book.

“Hi,” he said, and I couldn’t tell if he recognized me or not.

“I’m the one who sat in front of you in math,” I explained, feeling a strange mixture of anticipation and dread.  I realized I could end up making a total fool of myself if this didn’t go well.

“Yeah, I know...” he said quietly.

When it was clear he wasn’t going to say anything else, I spoke up again.  “So you’re reading Dune...great book, huh?”

He just nodded.

“I just ordered the new sequel from the sci-fi club.  Have you read the whole series?”

“Just the Frank Herbert ones,” he answered, glancing up at me again with just the slightest flash of momentary interest.

This was not getting any easier, but it  felt desperately important to me to make real contact with this kid.  Maybe I was even thinking unconsciously that I wanted to be his first friend at the new school-- like I was staking a claim or something!

“So, I was wondering if you wanted to come over and join us for lunch...”

“Oh, that’s okay,” he said, still keeping his face buried in his book.  “I guess I don’t feel much like eating today...”

“First day jitters,” I said.  “I just came here last year, so I know how it feels.”

At that, he did glance up for more than a few seconds, squinting in such a cutely boyish way as he lifted his face towards the noon day sun.  But he didn’t say anything.  His book was still open to the page he had been reading.  I began to wonder if Gene had been right.  Maybe I shouldn’t push him.  After all, I was pretty shy when I first showed up at St. Boniface, a small school where many of the kids had known each other since kindergarten.  I remembered that it had taken some heavy persuasion on the part of Morgan to get me to join in a game of Horse on my first day.  I’d always be grateful to him for that kind gesture.

“We’d all like to say hi,” I explained awkwardly.  “Here at St. Boniface, it’s kinda like we’re a family, you know?” I said, realizing that I sounded like the school’s recruitment brochure.  “Well, a slightly dysfunctional family sometimes,” I added facetiously, “But we won’t bite...” I promised.

I was rewarded with the slightest of bashful smiles.  But then he looked back at his book again and I was about to give up, my heart sinking rapidly into my sneakers.  I could sense some inner struggle going on inside him, even though I was basically looking only at the top of his head.  I  decided that this had indeed been a bad, or at the very least, premature attempt to lure a very shy boy out of his shell on his first day in a new school, in what must have seemed to him like a very far away and different place than what he was used to.  

I started to back up, getting ready to mutter some sort of apology, when he suddenly closed the book.  I held my breath, waiting to see what he would do next.  He put it neatly into his backpack and picked himself up, and I breathed a little easier.  I resisted the urge to help him, to grab his arm--his bare arm.  I wanted to touch him, feel his smooth skin, the warmth of his body and it was just weird!  I was confused, nervous, and excited all at the same time.  When he was up and his backpack was slung over his shoulder, he just looked at me with those big blue eyes.  I felt a shiver go through me and my heart had not eased up from its insistent pounding.  I just gestured with my arm and headed back for the table.  I could hear Jesse trudging along behind me.

“Hey guys,” I said, suddenly feeling uncomfortable even being around my own friends.  “You know Jesse, well I mean, you know his name anyway...but, here, this is Gene, Morgan and Tom.”

Morgan extended a hand, but Jesse just nodded and gave the slightest, tight lipped smile before sitting at the end of the bench, a little bit away from the others.  I hesitated, not knowing what to do about all the urgent, intense feelings that were coursing through me.  Finally, I went ahead and sat down next to him, careful to leave a couple of feet still separating us on the bench.

“He’s rereading Dune!” I said, and the group was noticeably impressed.  Of course we all liked science fiction, although Tom was a total Harry Potter fan at the moment.

Jesse again smiled a little, perhaps sensing that we had things in common  other than all being thirteen or fourteen year old boys at a Catholic school in a small city of twenty five thousand or so.  We all chimed in with our opinions of Frank Herbert’s classic, his sequels, and the new ones being written by his son, and the time passed quickly.  Jesse mostly listened, occasionally nodding in agreement, but as the period progressed, he seemed to get more and more apprehensive and uncomfortable, until I thought he might  be getting sick to his stomach.  

I felt weird in my own body for the rest of the day, and Jesse remained quiet and shy for the most part.  I did notice that in Geography, where we were free to sit where we wanted to (as long as we behaved ourselves), he still chose to sit next to me and that made me feel good.

After school, I waited for my mom to pick me up.  It was one of the perks of having her office just a couple miles from the school.  I saw Jesse sitting quietly on the steps, not waiting in the pick up zone like the rest of us who didn’t stay for the afterschool program.  I got his attention and waved him over.  He seemed reluctant, but then slung his backpack over his shoulder and timidly made his way towards me.

“Do you need a ride?” I asked, thinking how great it would be not only to help Jesse out, but also to see where he lived.

“My mom will be by a little later,” he explained, and I could sense that he was holding something back.

“Honestly, my mom won’t mind, that is, if you don’t live too far away...” I said, cleverly fishing for information.

“That’s okay,” Jesse said shyly.  He started to turn around to go back to sitting on the steps.  Then he suddenly turned back and actually looked me in the eyes.

“Uh...see you tomorrow?” he asked awkwardly, then looked away quickly as if embarrassed for asking such a silly question.  But for some reason, it thrilled me.  My heart started beating hard again, not as hard as at lunch, but it was still going at a pretty good clip for someone who was basically just standing still.

“You bet!” I said as cheerfully as I could.

Jesse gave me a slight smile, even showing me a glimmer of his perfect white teeth, before heading back to the steps.  I sighed, feeling like something big had happened today.

When I got home, my mom fixed me a quick sandwich (not that I couldn’t do it myself, but I think it made her feel more like a ‘mom’), and headed back for another couple hours at the office.

I climbed the stairs to my room.  This house wasn’t as big as the one we had when we all lived together, but it was still pretty nice and I had a good sized bedroom with my own TV, stereo, and several different video game machines.

I booted up my computer and dove right into my homework, but my mind kept going back to Jesse.  Every time I pictured that shy blond kid, my heart started beating harder again.  I felt anxious.  I wanted so much to get to know him better.  I didn’t know why, but I somehow felt that we could be really good friends...

I got up earlier than usual the next morning, took a longer than usual shower, and took a longer than usual time picking out my clothes and combing my hair just right.  Of course I chided myself for getting so worked up over nothing, just a new kid in school that seemed like he’d potentially make a good friend, a nice addition to our little group and nothing more.

When my mom dropped me off in the parking lot, I immediately started looking for him, but I couldn’t spot him.   The warning bell rang and I went into homeroom/math anxiously.  I remembered to sit in the back of the row this time, so Jesse could sit in front of me and maintain our alphabetical seating arrangement.  The bell was just about to ring when Jesse came in.  He stood at the door for a moment, as if trying to remember where he had sat yesterday.  I caught his attention and pointed to the seat in front of me.  He gave me that quick, shy little smile again and then immediately diverted his gaze to the floor as he walked over.

“Hey, Jesse, good to see ya,” I said cheerfully.  

“Hi...uh...Perry,” he stuttered, as if he had almost forgotten my name.  It was silly, but I think that would have crushed me if it were true.

Since the bell had already rung, there was no more time for idle chit chat, so I just contented myself with staring at the back of Jesse’s perfectly shaped head.  His silky blond hair was long in the back, curling up a little as it neared his collar.  He again wore a white polo,  and I was relieved  to see that he was as perfect as I remembered him being yesterday.

At lunch, I again had to coax him to come sit with us.  This time, he did produce a brown bag and pulled out a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.   I don’t know why, but that just seemed so cute to me.  He had a couple of store bought cookies that didn’t look too appetizing, so I offered him some of my chips.  

“No thanks,” he said politely.

“How’s the book?”  Gene  asked.

Jesse seemed startled.  I couldn’t tell if it was because of the question or because he was so surprised that someone had actually addressed him.  It made me wonder where he had come from, what kind of school it was, and how the kids had treated him there.   I was actually starting to get a little angry, imagining that the kids at his old school had been mean or cold to him somehow.

“It gets better every time I read it,” he answered quietly.  “This is my third time.”

“Cool,” Gene replied.  “I was thinking of rereading it too.  Some parts of it are so weird...”

“I think he was on drugs when he wrote that first one,” Tom insisted.

“Strong drugs!” Gene agreed.

“What kind of school did you go to back in Illinois?” I asked, hoping that my sudden change in subject wouldn't seem inappropriate to the others.

I could have sworn that the question made Jesse cringe slightly, and I immediately regretted having asked it.  The last thing I wanted to do was hurt this kid.  He seemed so fragile somehow.  Maybe it was his flawless appearance that made me feel like it would be so easy to damage him.  But he didn’t really seem frail at all.  He was thin, but I could tell he had some decent biceps, and even though he tended to look down a lot when he walked, I couldn’t say that he actually slouched or anything.  Still, there was this sense of vulnerability that he gave off, and it intrigued me more and more.

“Oh, it was just your typical public school,” he said, obviously not wanting to go there.  “It was big though,” he added.

After that, the other guys got back into other conversations, and even though I was dying to  find out everything I could about him, I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable, so I just joined in with the other discussions about sports and movies.  

Just before the end of lunch, I asked Jesse if he wanted a ride home today.  But he quickly shook his head and gave me that cute little smile of appreciation.  It was almost as if he was shocked every time someone was a little nice to him.

As we started to head inside for class, Morgan took me aside and spoke quietly.

“I kinda felt sorry for him yesterday, sitting on those steps for so long,” he said.  Morgan occassionally stayed after school until one of his parents could come and pick up him and his younger brother.

“How long did he sit there?” I asked with barely hidden concern.

“Well, my mom came around quarter to five yesterday, and Jesse was still sitting there.  I offered him a ride of course, but he just shook his head.”

This was not good.  I caught up with Jesse in the hall.

“Hey, dude,” I called out, and he stopped and waited for me.  “I just wanted to let you know I was serious about that ride.”

“It’s okay,” Jesse said, starting to walk again.

“But I heard you sat on the steps for like two hours or something.  Why didn’t you go into Day Care?”

Jesse seemed a little annoyed now and I felt like I had maybe pushed him too far.  But he saw the look of genuine concern in my eyes, and relaxed a little, maybe for the first time in the last two days.
 “I guess I didn’t want to have to meet a bunch of new people on my first day.  I’ll go in today, so you don’t have to worry...”

“But my mom would be glad to drop you off, dude.”

Jesse seemed to consider his options in a deep and serious way.  Then he shrugged and flashed that little smile that I was starting to look forward to seeing.  “Maybe just today, huh?  I have some things to do around the house.  We’re still unpacking and stuff...”  His voice trailed off as if he had let slip too much information.  But I was ecstatic, and looking forward to introducing Jesse to my mom.

“Great!  I’ll meet you in the parking lot right after school, okay?” I asked with what was probably too big of a grin on my face.

“Sure, and uh...thanks, Perry.  It’s really nice to know, a friend when you’re in a new place.”

I could sense how hard that was for him to speak out loud, and it made me feel so good.  I wanted so much to be able to please this kid, and he was already calling me his friend!  This was going better than I had expected!

After school, we waited together quietly, until my mom pulled up.

“Wow,” Jesse said, his blue eyes opening wide with surprise.

“What?”  I asked, thinking I had missed something going on around us since I was so distracted by just being close to him.

“That’s such a car!” he gawked, staring at the white Lexus.

I hated white cars and didn’t know what he was really impressed with.  I guessed Jesse’s family didn’t have as much money as we did and I felt a little awkward.

“It’s just a stupid white car,” I answered clumsily.  We had a big black Beamer when we still lived with my dad.  My dad hadn’t wanted to take it to New York (I guess the parking rates in Manhattan were pretty steep), but my mom insisted that she’d just sell it anyway, so he finally did have it shipped out.  

Jesse just shook his head in disbelief.  I cringed inwardly, thinking that maybe I hadn’t said the right thing.

When we got in the car and sat together in the back seat, I introduced Jesse to my mom.  She seemed a little frazzled but still looked nice in her blazer,  her long brunette hair lavishly spilling over her shoulders.  I always thought my mom was a pretty good looker.  She certainly didn’t look thirty eight!

“Hello, Mrs. Thompson,” Jesse said, sounding slightly less inhibited  than he did when he was talking to someone his own age.

“Nice to meet you, Jesse.  You know, Perry was new here last year.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jesse answered politely.

“Where can I take you?” my mom asked.

“Well...” Jesse seemed to hesitate.  I was pretty sure he knew where he lived, even though he had just moved here from Illinois, so it must have been something else.

“Hurry, I’m pulling out of the parking lot now,” my mom urged him.

“If you could just drop me at the corner of Lexington and Maple, I can walk from there,” he answered shyly.

“Oh, that’s not too far,” my mom said.   It wasn’t like anything within the boundaries of Santa Corina could be too far apart!  Still, it was the opposite direction from our house-- maybe five miles one way.  It wasn’t  as close as I would have liked, but at least I would know where he lived, and I found that extremely comforting.

“Maybe  Jesse can come home with me sometime!” I suggested brashly.

“Of course,” mom answered.  “Your welcome to come over anytime, Jesse--as long as it’s okay with your parents.”


When we arrived at Lexington and Maple, it was a neighborhood of small houses and apartments.  As you went further west, it became all apartments.  Some of them seemed okay, others didn’t look that great to me.  I had never lived in an apartment in my life, and I didn’t think I would like living in a little box with strangers surrounding you on all sides.  I wondered if Jesse lived in an apartment or one of the tired little houses in eyeshot of where we were.

“Which one is yours?” my mom asked.  “I might as well take you right there.”

”No, that’s okay,” Jesse insisted, already grabbing his backpack and opening the door.

“But which one is yours?” I asked, maybe more intensely than I should have.  Somehow, I felt it was important to know exactly where he lived.

“Oh, it’s just down the street,” he said, vaguely gesturing in the air.  “Thanks, Mrs. Thompson--see ya tomorrow, Perry!” he said in as cheerful a voice as he could muster as he hurried away.

“That’s strange that he doesn’t want us to drop him off in front of his house,” I said, as we watched him go down Lexington.

“Did you ever stop to consider that he might feel...well, a little uncomfortable showing you where he lived?” my mom suggested.

“You think he lives in one of those apartments further down?” I asked uneasily.

“That could be,” my mom said.  

I sighed, feeling disappointed that I didn’t get to see where he lived.  I watched  as he kept walking further down the block.  Soon, he vanished over a low rise.

“Do you boys have a lot in common?” she asked, as she drove me home.

“He likes to know, the same stuff me and the guys like,” I answered.  I couldn’t tell her what really attracted me to him.  She would undoubtedly freak out.

“What sports does he like?”

“Gees, mom, I just met the guy, okay?” I answered.  That sounded a little harsh, so I added, “He doesn’t really look like much of a jock.”

“Neither did you, before you put on that cute basketball jersey last year,” my mom replied with a teasing smile.

Mom!” I groaned playfully.

After a few minutes of contented silence, my mom added, “Well, I think it’s really sweet of you to take the new boy under your wing.”

I only nodded vaguely in response, secretly thinking how much I would have loved to take Jesse under my wing...


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