Legal Notice:

The following contains descriptions of graphic sexual acts between consenting underage boys. It is a 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 IV  Brothers

Chapter 6   What A Nightmare!  Part I

 On Tuesday, while Morgan seemed close to his old confident, easy going self again, there was undeniably  something different between he, Jesse, and me, and it made me sad.   As much as I still cared for Morgan, I imagined that things would never be quite the same.  Tom however, seemed to have recovered somewhat from his angry outburst yesterday, and we were all sitting together again at lunch:  Tom, Morgan, Gene, Jesse, and me.  It was, for a brief time, much like it had been before we all started thinking mainly with our dicks.  We talked excitedly about all the big holiday movies that would start coming out at Thanksgiving.  Of course, we were all waiting for the big finish to the Lord Of The Rings.  I was hoping we'd all get to see it together before I had to take off for New York for Christmas.

Everyone started talking about their Thanksgiving Day plans.  Morgan and his family were headed up to his grandparents in Santa Clarita where they'd be spending the night.  Tom and his crew were  going  over to nearby Escondido to an uncle's house for turkey and football.  Gene's brother was flying in from Florida where he was a freshman at the University Of Miami.

My mom was having a small Thanksgiving celebration at our house this year, mainly because my grandparents were off visiting friends in Europe and wouldn't be back until after New Year's.  My uncle Ron and his family would be coming to spend the night.  Even Aunt Rosemary would be coming down from  Berkeley with a friend; they would have lunch with us before heading down to Ensenada for the rest of the long weekend.  The best and worst part was, Jesse and his sister would be spending the day with us, with his mom picking them up later in the evening on her way back from the restaurant in Oceanside.   On Friday, they'd be picked up by Mrs. Taylor's boyfriend, the electrician, and spend a couple nights up at Lake Big Bear before returning to Santa Corina by Sunday evening.

Even though it would be kind of nice having Thanksgiving at our house instead of up in Ventura, I was extremely disappointed that I wouldn't have any alone time with Jesse over the four day weekend.  Sure, I'd see him on Thursday, and it would be fun, but there'd be other people around all the time. 

At the end of lunch, Tom took me aside.  "Sorry I got upset yesterday," he said, looking at me with those big brown puppy dog eyes.  "I know you guys are just worried about me...but you have to trust me too.  I'm not stupid.  Look how careful I've been so far!"

While it was true that until now, Tom had resisted telling Derek that he liked him as much more than a friend, I also remembered when I had seen them at the arcade a few weeks ago, where Manny and Artim called them fags because of the way Tom was rubbing Derek's arm in a rather 'unmanly' fashion.

"I'm not saying your stupid at all!" I insisted.  "It's just that there are so many people out there who hate..."  I strained to think of a good term to use, "...people who are different."

Tom nodded soberly.  "I hear you," he agreed, sounding more mature than he usually did.

"And Tom," this was going to be really hard to say, "there's that thing Derek has for Jesse."

For some reason, Tom never seemed particularly bothered by that, but after seeing the letter Derek had written to Jesse,  it was obvious to me that the situation couldn't be ignored.  Jesse was going to try to have some sort of heart to heart with Derek this afternoon after their tutoring session.   But even he didn't know how he was going to handle it.  I had never seen my sweet angel so helpless before.  It was a complicated situation fraught with danger and fragile human emotions that didn't seem to have any clear solution.

"I still think the best thing would be for Jesse to tell Derek to take a hike," Tom said in an almost careless way, as if the solution was so easy and obvious.

"Well, you may be right," I admitted reluctantly.  "Jesse doesn't seem to have anything better in mind."

Tom smiled self-assuredly.  "Than that should be the plan!" he said conclusively, and headed off for his locker.

"Tom thinks you should just tell Derek to 'take a hike,'" I  informed Jesse before he headed off for his afternoon tutoring sessions in the library.

"I think that may be the only way," Jesse sighed resolvedly.

"And Tom said we need to trust him--and I think he's right," I added.

He tilted his head unsuredly.  "I'll talk to you later, 'kay?"

It was a little after eight when my cellphone started ringing.  I had just finished my homework and was planning on heading downstairs to watch some sitcoms with my mom.  I smiled to myself thinking how excited I got everytime I knew that I'd be hearing Jesse's voice.  How long had we known each other--like ten weeks now?

"Hey, Perry..."  came the despondent voice of Tom Espinoza.

"Oh, hey, Tom...uh...Everything okay?" I asked, knowing from the sound of his voice that it wasn't.

"I've been trying to call Derek all evening, but I kept getting his voicemail, so I called their house phone.  Morgan answered and, well he sounded nice and all, but he said that Derek wasn't feeling good and wasn't taking any calls."

"He looked okay at school," I said dumbly, even though I knew what Tom was getting at.

"You said Jesse was going to talk to him today know... Did you hear what happened?"

"No.  Actually, I thought it might be Jesse when you called.  He usually waits until later in the evening to call, after his sister is in bed.  He doesn't have much privacy over there."

"Well, uh...if you hear anything..."

"I'll let you know," I said, "but Tom, even if things work out the way you want, it might take Derek a few days to sort of...recover or whatever."

"Yeah, I guess.  I just want to be there for him--like you were for me, ya know?"

"I hear you.  Just be patient..."

"I have been patient," he insisted, sounding a bit peeved.

"I know."

"I was hoping to be able to have a good, serious talk with him over the long weekend," he said despondently.

"It's only Tuesday.  You'll have plenty of time," I assured him.

"Thanks Perry.  Sorry to put you in the middle of all this..."

"Don't worry about it," I said.  "I really want you two to get together."

"Really?" Tom's voice perked up, way up.  "That's, Perry.  Gee, thanks!  Okay, well, talk to you later!"

After the emotional session Jesse and I had with Morgan yesterday afternoon, I didn't feel that Derek and Tom were in any immediate danger.  Morgan had some problems, but like Jesse, he had a good heart and the strength to keep himself under control for the most part.  It had taken a lot to cause Morgan to snap that afternoon.  There were the pictures of Jesse he had discovered in Derek's room, his explosive behavior at the game on Thursday caused by his discovery, and then the nearly half bottle of wine he had drunk in the course of five minutes.   All that combined with his raging teenage hormones and sexual frustration, had caused him to lose control of himself for a few minutes on Sunday afternoon.  There was no denying that he had a temper to be reckoned with, but it was also clear to me that he never intended to hurt me and I was so glad that he and Jesse were able to work things out.   Jesse had handled the situation brilliantly, and we had all ended up having a great time.  It seemed like the only time things went wrong was when I tried to handle them by myself. 

 After talking to Tom, I felt hopeful about everything for the first time in a while.  Jesse was going to take care of Derek's crush, and that would be a relief to Morgan.  Tom and Derek were going to get together and I just knew they'd have a great time exploring their new relationship.  I thought about all the wonderful experiences I had shared with Jesse over the past couple of months and smiled at the thought of those two discovering each other the way we had.  So when Jesse finally called around nine o'clock, I was anticipating good news.


Oh man, that didn't sound good...Still, maybe he was just tired.  He hadn't slept well Sunday night after I told him that Morgan had hit me.  Maybe he hadn't had a chance to recover yet.

"Hi, my sweet angel," I said, sitting up on the edge of my bed, already comfortably dressed for sleep in my sweats and T-shirt. 

I heard Jesse sigh.  "Well, I talked to Derek today...about the letter," he said in a weak voice.

Now I knew that something bad had happened.  I immediately felt my gut twist up.  "What...what happened?" I asked hesitantly.

"Well, I thought the simplest thing would just be to tell him that I wasn't like that, you know?"


"I said, 'I was really flattered by your note, but I'm just not into boys,'" he explained.

"That sounds okay," I acknowledged.

"Then he leaned over real close--we were still sitting in the library--and he sorta hissed at me, 'Liar!  What about you and Perry?!'"

I suddenly felt like I was sinking, like my whole bedroom was just being sucked down into the fiery pits of Hell. Everything was suddenly so quiet.  It was like the air itself had stopped circulating and everything was just holding its collective breath.

"Wh...what?" I stammered.  "How could he...?"

"I don't know!" Jesse's voice was filled with frustration and worry.  "I don't think he could..."

"Do you think maybe he's bluffing?" I asked hopefully.

"Maybe...The thing is, he got really pissed--like all red in the face--and said that, if he didn't get what he wanted, he was going to start telling everybody!"

I thought about Morgan and his temper, and the idea that both Jesse and I had that maybe it somehow came from Mr. Kipner.  It wouldn't be too surprising then, to find out that Derek had a similar streak.  But unlike Morgan, who was a true friend despite his human frailties, it seemed like Derek was coldly attempting to blackmail Jesse to get what he wanted.

I felt panic surge up like a ball of fire, reaching from my toes to my brain, making me feel like all my molecules were breaking apart and scattering into the atmosphere.  I felt suddenly weak, and fell back on my bed, even losing my grip on my cellphone.  I heard Jesse's tinny voice as if from far away.  I fumbled around until I managed to get the phone up against my ear again.

"Perry, are you okay?" Jesse asked with real concern.

"No, I guess not," I answered glumly.

"He'll probably tell Tom first," Jesse speculated.

"Tom already called me.  He's been trying to reach Derek all evening, but Morgan told him that Derek wasn't feeling good."

"Well, that buys us a little time," Jesse said, "but if Derek was serious about his threat, then tomorrow for sure..."

"Then we need to talk to him," I suggested urgently.  "Like maybe first thing in the morning."

"We could try, but you didn't see how angry he was..." Jesse said in a quavering voice.

"I don't think Tom would believe him," I said hopefully.  "I mean, Tom thinks we're both straight."

"But if Derek has some kind of proof..." Jesse let his sentence dangle unfinished.

What kind of proof could Derek have?  It wasn't like he was walking around with a...OH SHIT!!!!

"That fucking phone camera!" I gasped.  It suddenly made so much sense.  Derek had a crush on Jesse.  I had already seen some of the pictures he had taken when he thought my angel wasn't looking.  What if he had followed Jesse around--like some sort of stalker--and had taken some pictures of Jesse and me together!  I flashed on our secret spot up on the hill behind the school.  What if Derek had somehow followed us up there?  He would have gotten everything he needed!

"What about the letter he wrote?" I asked desperately.

"I mentioned it, and he asked for it back--in a very nasty way..."  Jesse related.  "I told him I couldn't do that after what he said, so he just stormed out...So what are we supposed to do now--blackmail each other?" Jesse asked despondently.

"I don't know..." I said, feeling like I was about to burst into tears.  "I don't know what to do..."

"Don't...don't panic," he said in an unsteady voice.  "We first really need to know if he has any kind of physical evidence.  If he's just bluffing, it'll be fairly easy to straighten things out."

The way he said that made me shudder.  "You wouldn't hurt Derek, would you?" I asked fearfully.

"No, I'd never hurt someone on purpose, unless it was self defense or protecting someone else," he responded unhesitatingly.

"Yeah, I knew that..." I said, actually blushing at my own foolishness.  "I'm...I'm just not thinking straight."

"You'd better think straight!  Real straight!" Jesse said, laughing drily.

"It's really sad that Derek would turn out to be..."

"Such a little monster?" Jesse finished. 

"Yeah, I mean, I always thought he was okay...for a squirt."

We agreed to get to school early and intercept Derek before he could talk to anyone.  It was the day before Thanksgiving and some kids would have taken off already to get a jump on the holiday, so attendance would be lighter than usual.  Also, Father Marlen would be giving Mass right after homeroom, and then we'd be on a compressed schedule for the rest of the day.  It was the kind of day you looked forward to because it should go by like a breeze.  Instead, we had this horrible problem hanging over our heads.  I thought for sure I would toss and turn all night, but sleep actually came mercifully quick.

I had my mom drop me off about thirty minutes early.  I told her I had an assignment in computer lab that I had to finish up before school.  Jesse usually took a bus that arrived at school close to the beginning of homeroom.  Because Jesse's mom usually headed to work before seven thirty, he had persuaded her to drop him off first, so he was already sitting on the steps of the multi-purpose room when I arrived.

While he looked as beautiful as ever, with the early morning sun glinting off his golden blond hair and his crystal blue eyes lighting up as he saw me, I could tell right away that he was troubled and had probably gone through yet another nearly sleepless night.  As I approached him, he got to his feet and gave me a warm smile.  I resisted the urge to take him in my arms, and just gave him an innocuous little wave of greeting.

"I can't believe this is happening," I said, expressing the thought that had plagued me all night long.  I had spent the night imagining what it would be like if Derek had pictures of Jesse and me in some sort of compromising pose--kissing passionately, or holding hands, or whatever it might be.  I kept trying to imagine how people would react:  Morgan, Jessica, Katy, Kyle, Artim, Manny, and everyone--especially Tom.  And once the class all knew, and then the school, it would only be a matter of time before my mom found out, and that sickened me more than anything else.  In the end, the kids who were really my friends would still be my friends, and the ones that weren't--what point was there in worrying about them?  Still, I felt queasy as I imagined Jesse having to constantly defend us from stupid, ignorant kids trying to ambush us or trap us or hurt us in some way.  Eventually, after getting involved in one too many fights, he'd be suspended, even expelled...

And my mom, how would she react?  I had gone over that scenario endless times since Jesse and I fell in love.  Would she be happy for us?  Would she tolerate it?  Would she forbid me from seeing Jesse ever again or even kick me out of the house?  My gut feeling was that she wouldn't know how to react, and she would become involved in some tumultuous internal struggle, trying to reconcile her religious faith, her hopes for a daughter-in-law and grandchildren, her hopes for me to lead a healthy and 'normal' life, versus her total love and devotion for me.  It would tear her apart from the inside out and I couldn't bear the thought.

"We can't let this get out," I told Jesse with almost cold determination.

"I know," he replied gently, trying to sound comforting.  But his voice lacked its usual conviction, and I sensed that he had struggled with many of the same fears as I had.

"Do whatever you have to do," I said.

"Are you saying I should hurt Derek?"  Jesse asked in astonishment.

I felt tears starting to well up, but I fought them back.  This could turn out to be the worst day in my life, and it was making me think crazy, desperate thoughts.  "I...I don't know what I'm saying," I admitted.

"Perry, I'm so sorry.  This is all because of me.  I keep thinking back to that day I came over to your house for the first time.  I was so excited, so hopeful.  I didn't know if there was any chance that you could have the same feelings for me as I did for you.  I didn't know if I'd ever get a chance to hold you, or kiss you, or tell you how much I loved you."  His eyes were moist with unspilled tears.  We were out in plain sight, even though no one passing by had taken any particular notice of us yet.  "I could've pretended to be straight, just settled for being your friend, but instead, I was selfish and I..."

"Jesse--do you hear what you're saying?" I asked incredulously.  "We both felt the same way about each other and I'll never regret that afternoon, or any of the days that followed it.  Whatever happens today, or in the future, I'll never regret any of the precious time I've shared with you..."  If there was ever a time we needed to hold each other in deep embrace, this was it, and yet, we couldn't.  I saw the sadness and frustration in Jesse's expression that must surely be mirrored in my own. 

Suddenly, I saw his eyes open wide.  I turned to follow his gaze.  Morgan and Derek were getting out of the minivan.  This was it.  We had to have this out with Derek now, before he had a chance to talk to anyone else.

"Perry, listen," Jesse explained quickly.  "I've gotten to know Derek pretty well over these last couple months.  Even though he turned thirteen in September, he still thinks and acts more like an eleven year old.  He's a kid who's used to getting his way, and he feels like I cheated him, so don't think that he'll respond to any kind of logical argument."

"I'm just going to keep my mouth shut as much as possible," I told him as we headed off to intercept the brothers Morgan.  "It seems like every time I open my mouth, stupid things come out."

"I have yet to hear a single stupid thing come out of that beautiful mouth," Jesse said in an almost matter-of-fact sort of way that still managed to touch me deeply.

"Hey guys!" Morgan said cheerfully.  He looked much better than he had since things turned bad last Thursday.  "Jesse, my man!"  he said, holding out his hand with bent fingers so Jesse could tap his knuckles.

I saw Derek's face harden as soon as he saw us.   He immediately started to move off at a rapid walk.

"Derek, wait!" Jesse called out, loud enough that anyone around could plainly hear.

The seventh grader stopped in his tracks.  Morgan suddenly looked concerned.  "Are you going to talk to him...about the pictures?" he whispered nervously.

I nodded.

"Are you sure you wanna do this here?" Morgan asked skeptically.

"Actually, it would be best if we could have some time alone with Derek," Jesse explained.

Morgan gave him a puzzled look.

"Let me try to talk to him first, without getting into that," Jesse said hopefully.

"Oh...okay," Morgan said, somewhat relieved that his clandestine pillaging wouldn't be exposed.  "Well, c'mon, Perry--wanna go shoot some hoops?"

"Uh...actually..."  I began, not sure how I was going to explain my involvement.

"Actually, Perry is involved too," Jesse explained cryptically.

Morgan looked at both of us quizzically while Derek stood nervously a few paces away, just out of earshot.  "You sure you don't want me to stick around?" he asked.

"If we can straighten this whole thing out without you having to tell Derek you saw his pictures, wouldn't that be for the best?" Jesse asked.

Morgan nodded.  He shrugged, glanced at his brother with an unreadable expression, and then headed for the basketball court where Eric Adams and a few others were already involved in some sort of game.

"Let's talk," Jesse said curtly, and headed to the far side of the parking lot where we'd be away from all the morning hub bub.  He glanced at me but didn't even look back at Derek as he began to walk. 

I waited until I saw Derek following before I started walking.  The smaller boy looked very uncomfortable, but also determined.  Jesse waited for us under a tall pine tree.  Behind us the ground rose into the low, rounded hills of California Oaks that surrounded the back of the school.  Jesse had his hands on his hips and his facial expression remained neutral.  Derek stood uncomfortably with his arms crossed and occasionally darted a few glances at me.  I stood a little back from both of them, prepared to just listen rather than participate.

"Of course I told Perry what you told me in the library yesterday," Jesse said sternly, sounding more like a teacher than a fellow student.

Derek just stared resolutely ahead, not really looking at either one of us.

"First of all, why would you say something like that?" Jesse asked.

Derek fidgeted uncomfortably, and glanced at both of us.  "Well, you two are like the hottest looking guys in the school, right?" he asked, presumably rhetorically.  "And you became friends like right away--like always spending time together, doing stuff together, going over to each other's houses and stuff."

"And you think that makes us gay?" Jesse asked bluntly.

I cringed.  Maybe I was squeamish or something, but I just didn't like hearing that word spoken out loud.

Derek didn't answer right away.  I had to admit, he was holding up pretty well considering he had two eighth graders breathing down his neck, and he had said in his letter that he knew Jesse was an incredible martial artist.

"" he admitted.  "But maybe you are...It would be pretty cool..."  He smiled a little and I wondered what was going through his head.  How he could imagine that I was anything close to Jesse in the looks department was completely baffling to me.  I guessed he really must have something for boys if he could talk so openly about that sort of thing in front of us.

"So you're saying you just made that up--that you were bluffing?" Jesse asked, and I could hear the slight tinge of hope in his voice.

"I do have pictures..." Derek revealed, finally looking us both squarely in the eye.

Now it seemed like our worst fears were coming true!

"What kind of pictures?" Jesse asked quietly.  He looked remarkably calm on the outside as he interrogated Derek, but I could imagine some of what he must be feeling inside.  My own heart was pounding furiously in my chest and I was feeling something between panicked fear and anger.

"What kind of pictures?" Jesse asked again.

Derek gave a dry little laugh, sounding suddenly much older than his true age of thirteen years and two months.  "Like I'm going to tell you..."  he answered snidely.

"But we have your letter!" I blurted out angrily, feeling like what I really wanted to do was wrap my hands around his skinny little neck and squeeze!

Derek looked at me blankly.  "What letter?" he asked, as a sly smile slowly formed on his face.

"Look, never mind about the letter," Jesse jumped in quickly.  "It's not important right now..."

"But..." I began to protest.  Jesse gave me a silencing look.  Okay, I had butted in, and I had apparently said something stupid--at least I was consistent!

"I don't know what you saw, or what you think you saw, but you're mistaken about us," Jesse explained convincingly, not sounding the least bit angry or impatient--just stern.

"Maybe..." Derek admitted, his voice cracking a little.

"Ask Tom, ask you're brother, if you won't take my word for it."

"They may think you're straight, but I have the pictures..." Derek taunted again.

In a flash, Jesse stepped over and grabbed Derek by the collar of his jacket.

I started to intervene, and then stopped myself.  I glanced around to see if anyone had spotted us, but it didn't seem like anyone had noticed.

"Tell me about the fuckin' pictures!" Jesse urged, bringing his face to within an inch of Derek's.

"Get off, or I'm not telling you nothing!" he sneered.

I wondered if Derek really knew what Jesse was capable of?

But Jesse released him and took a step back, his chest rising and falling heavily.

"Well?" Jesse asked, trying to bring his voice back to its original calm level, and only partially succeeding.

"If you wanna see the pictures, you have to come to my house--today, right after school!"  I realized by the way he said it, that he had this already planned out.  That's why he didn't look scared.  He felt like he was in control of the situation.

"No way," Jesse replied quickly. 

"Then I'll show them to people, maybe Morgan and Tom first, and then my friends...then maybe Katy and Jessica..."  Derek rattled off all the names.  "Maybe I'll email them to you're mom's work, Perry!" he grinned malevolently.

I felt a wave of panic and anger consume me.  "You little shit!"  I blindly lunged for him, but Jesse held me back.  I actually struggled with him for half a minute until I was able to regain my composure.  It was the first time in my life I could remember ever wanting to hurt someone out of pure uncontrolled anger.  I wondered briefly if that was the way Morgan had felt that day he slapped me so hard across the face.  If so, it was frightening to realize how easy it was for such strong emotions to completely drowned out reason.

Jesse gave me a cautioning look.   "Show them then.  We have nothing to hide."

I couldn't tell if Jesse was bluffing or not, which I guess was the whole idea.  It seemed like Derek couldn't tell either, because he looked a little more uncertain, glancing from Jesse to me.  I had daggers in my eyes and didn't try in the least to hide them.

Maybe Jesse was right.  What could he have?  What could he have seen?  If he had a picture of us hugging, wouldn't there be some way to explain it away?  But if it was a picture of us kissing, or holding hands, it would damn us for sure.  And he seemed to know where my mom worked...

"Jesse...I need to talk to you," I said, the fear in my voice more than obvious.

Jesse looked sad and frustrated.  He gave me a look of sympathy.

"Look, you guys work it out.  Let me know at lunch.  I've got lots of email addresses and I can start sending those pictures out tonight--if  I have to!"  Derek turned to go.

"Wait!" Jesse said, some emotion finally creeping into his voice.

Derek paused and turned around expectantly.

"What is it you want from me?" Jesse asked frustratedly.

"What I want is for you to feel the same way about me as I do about you!" he explained matter-of-factly.

"You can't make someone love you!" I pointed out desperately.

Derek laughed, a little boy laugh but edged with something a little scary.  "Who said anything about love.  If Jesse showed you the letter--which could've been written by anyone cuz it's printed out," he noted, "you know what I want.  Jesse's totally cool and the hottest guy I've ever seen up close, and I just want to--you know--mess around with him--like Morgan does with his so-called girlfriends."

"You're sure that's all you want?" Jesse asked skeptically.

Derek shrugged.  "I'm not interested in any mushy shit.   Well, maybe some..." I was surprised to see that he was actually capable of blushing--well, at least he was partially human!

"If I give you what you want--one time only--would you erase those pictures and lay off--both of us?"  Jesse negotiated.

Derek seemed to give it some serious thought.  "One time only?" he asked, the disappointment clear in his child-like voice.

"I told you I'm not that way!" Jesse reiterated.  "And to tell you the truth Derek, I really don't like this side of you."

Derek looked genuinely hurt by that last comment.  "Everyone thinks I'm just some little kid they can push around..." he muttered glumly.  Then he looked up at us, his expression hardening once again.  "I'll make you a deal," he said confidently.  "I'll erase the pictures, forget everything--even quit the tutoring--if you come to my house this afternoon and do what ever I want."

Jesse glanced at me.  I couldn't make that decision for him.  It seemed terrible to be at the mercy of a little monster like this, especially the brother of someone who really was a good person.  If Morgan ever got a glimmer of what Derek was up to, I feared the worst for this horny little blackmailer.  What he was doing was clearly wrong, but I couldn't help but worry about those damn pictures.  What had he seen?

"So these pictures of yours, you think they'd convince people that Perry and I are gay?" Jesse asked thoughtfully.

"They'd be enough to make people at least think about it.  I mean, who wouldn't want the two cutest guys in school to turn out to be gay?  All the other jealous guys--they'd eat it up!  Once the pictures got around, the rumors would be hard to stop."

Could this be happening?  Could Morgan's little brother, who I always thought was this cute, hyper, harmless little kid, really be a conniving, sex crazed blackmailer?  This was like a nightmare!

"This sounds like a lot of bullshit to me," Jesse concluded.  "To hell with your fuckin' pictures.  People will say whatever they want to say--I can't stop them.  I just wish you'd leave Perry out  this..."

Derek looked embarrassed.  " I said, it's just that you two are such close friends..."  Derek shrugged.  "And Perry is the second hottest guy in this school..."

"Stop saying that!" I glared at him angrily.

"Shit--you are, Perry," Derek said, as if it were a fact written in the yearbook or something.

"Look, Derek," I said, finally feeling that I couldn't contain myself any longer.  "This is all bullshit!  You can say what you want, but when we show Morgan that letter, plus the pictures he already knows about..."  Oops, was I supposed to mention those?  I glanced sheepishly at Jesse, who just shrugged helplessly as if it really didn't matter one way or the other.  The truth of the matter was, I think if it was just Jesse that Derek was trying to blackmail, Jesse would've gone along with it, but it was because I was involved that he wanted so badly to fight this thing.

Derek looked at me like I was the little kid, slowly shaking his head back and forth.  "So Morgan found those pictures of Jesse?" he asked, seemingly unconcerned.

I nodded.

Derek shrugged.  "They're just innocent pictures. He knows I like to play around with my camera phone."

"But why would you print them up if you were just goofing around?"  I asked, feeling like I was actually winning some points here.

"Morgan knows that I admire Jesse."  He turned to look thoughtfully at my blond angel.   "I'd just tell him that I think it's really cool that you're some amazing street fighting ninja warrior and I want to be like you.  As far as the letter goes," he shrugged, " anyone could've written that."

"What about your initials?" I countered.

"I can think of at least three girls in the seventh and eighth grades with those same initials."

I thought about it for a second.  Yeah, there was Deana Kennedy in our class. But she was kind of sullen and rebellious.  She cut classes a lot. I saw her sometimes hanging out with Dana, or even occasionally with Artim.  She hardly seemed to be the type that would write such a blatantly desperate sexual note.  As far as the seventh grade, I couldn't think of anyone off hand, but I didn't know all of them by their full names.

"Never mind all that," Jesse said quickly and impatiently.  "Do we have a deal?"  he asked, holding out his hand.

"Sure..." Derek said, slowly extending his  hand, " long as Perry comes along too."

Jesse dropped his hand to his side.  I could see him really getting angry now.  "You don't want to be messing with me like this..." he muttered under his breath.

"Oh yeah?" Derek said, suddenly balling his fists and firming his body into an aggressive martial arts stance.

Jesse immediately struck a similar pose.  I think even Derek was taken aback by the speed with which Jesse moved, even with his backpack and jacket on, but he quickly regained his composure.

"So...we're going to do this?" Jesse asked determinedly.

Derek just nodded.

The two boys never unlocked their gazes as they shucked their backpacks and slowly started circling each other.  It looked just like that sparring match Jesse had gotten into with Julio on the basketball court at Kennedy High.

Suddenly, Derek attacked, swinging wickedly with his fists and simultaneously shooting out with a powerful kick.  Jesse managed to block the attack, but stumbled back.

"You're not that good!" Derek declared smugly. 

"I don't want to fight you," Jesse insisted breathlessly.

They circled some more and Jesse looked really nervous.  I think the lack of sleep and his worrying about our relationship being discovered had taken their toll.

Derek lunged again, fists flying, feet lashing out.  Jesse furiously repelled each attack until one blow finally caught him on the shoulder, throwing him off balance.  Derek took quick advantage of this and balanced on one leg while thrusting out with the other, catching Jesse squarely in the stomach.  My beautiful blond angel crumpled and fell to the hard packed earth with a groan.

"Not the mighty Karate Kid Manny said you were after all!"  Derek taunted disdainfully.

I went over to help Jesse up but he pushed me away.  He got shakily to his feet and brushed the dirt and pine needles off his clothes.

I glanced around to make sure no one had seen them fighting.  So far, the coast was clear.

"So, do we have a deal or not?" Derek asked impatiently.  "Both of you come to my house this afternoon and do everything I tell you.  When we're done, I'll show you the pictures and you can watch me erase them."

"I don't want Perry to be involved," Jesse pleaded breathlessly.

Derek shrugged.  "Fine, then I'll show Morgan the pictures tonight and maybe email them to Tom..."

"I'll do it!" I blurted out.

"No, Perry!" Jesse said.  He turned to Derek.  "This is between you and me.  I'm the one you wrote the letter to," Jesse pointed out.

"Gees, you guys are a couple of wusses.  I'm not gonna fuck your asses or anything--just mess around, have some fun.  Shit, you guys'll like it.  I don't know why you're making such a big deal out of it--unless you really are gay..." he added slyly.

I was horrified at the words coming out of the mouth of this cute, brown haired boy.  How could I have so misjudged him?

"Derek, what you're doing is so wrong..." Jesse said defeatedly, sadly shaking his head.

"So it's a deal then?" he asked smugly, knowing he had us literally by the balls.

I nodded first, and then Jesse.  Neither of us said anything.

"This is how it'll work then.  After school, you guys go to Perry's house--your mom's picking you up, right?"

I nodded.

"Morgan's coming home to wash up and then he's going over to Katy's.  They're going to the mall together or some shit like that," he said disdainfully.  "So I'll call Perry on his cellphone as soon as Morgan's gone.  My mom's going back to the office after she drops us at home, and of course my dad'll work late as usual.  Sound like a plan?"

It was getting close to eight and we had to get going.

Jesse looked at me one more time to make sure I was going through with this.  I shrugged helplessly.  What else could we do? 

"There needs to be a definite end time," Jesse insisted, his words clipped and lacking in emotion.

"Well, my mom usually gets back around let's say four thirty."

"Fine," Jesse said, picking up his backpack.  He started to head towards our homeroom and then stopped and turned.  "If you're not good to your word--if those pictures get seen by anybody besides us--I swear I'll kick your ass!  Believe me--you haven't seen what I can do when I'm really pissed!"  And with that threat lingering in the chilly morning air, he spun on his heels and just started walking off across the parking lot.

Derek and I stood there for a minute staring at each other.  I knew there were tears in my eyes, but I couldn't help it.  I didn't even feel angry any more, just sad...for Jesse, for me, and for Derek.

"Don't look at me like that, Perry," Derek said, sounding close to human again.  "You'll like it, I promise.  And then it'll be over."  He turned to go, and then hesitated and turned around, his expression hardening once again.  "No funny business, got it?  Those pictures I've got are pretty hot.  Maybe you guys aren't gay, but there sure is something more to your relationship than just being friends..."

I just glared at him.

Derek shrugged and wagged his finger at me.  "Jesse's pretty clever, but you tell him I've got every contingency covered, so he'd better just cooperate."

I nodded sullenly, and stood still for a minute as I watched him go, looking like a normal, five foot tall, brown haired kid again.

I saw Morgan standing with Jesse just outside of class.  We had about two minutes before the bell rang.  Nearly everyone else was inside.  Kyle  and Eric passed us, both of them giving Morgan a high five, and Jesse and me a pistol finger each.  I wondered why pretending to shoot someone was meant to be a compliment.

"How'd it go?" Morgan asked nervously.

"It'll all be taken care of by the end of the day," Jesse said confidently.

Morgan looked relieved.

I had been so looking forward to having Jesse spend the afternoon at my house.  Now I dreaded thinking about what would happen once we got there.  Still, the half day of school went by quickly enough and Jesse and I were unusually quiet in the car on the way home.  Somehow I think my mom detected something was wrong.

"Everything okay at school?" she asked in our general direction.

"Sure mom," I replied in as calm a voice as I could muster under the circumstances.  "We might go over to Morgan's after lunch," I mentioned.

"Well, that's fine.  But call me first if you plan on going any place else, all right?"

"Yeah, mom," I answered sullenly.  "But I don't think we'll be going any place else..."

Jesse and I had barely finished our sandwiches when my cellphone rang.

"Coast's clear.  Get your cute little asses over here!" It was strange to hear Derek's high pitched, boyish voice saying such things.

"Are we really going to do this?" I asked Jesse fearfully.

"Don't worry, babe--I have a plan..." he said with a reassuring smile.

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