Warning: This story is for 18 year olds or older and contains descriptions of sexual contact between teenage males. If it is illegal for you to read, or you find the subject objectionable, read no further. All characters are imaginary. I hope you like it. Mail me or visit Eliot's Space



Chapter 7, In a fish bowl

Convergences, Friday, June 25th

He wandered down the sidewalk enjoying the gentle breeze and the waves of heat reflected off the buildings. His apartment was not well placed for school, he would have to ride the bus in September, but he had easy access to the parks along the river, the mall, and a good ciniplex. He was in no hurry and that was the glory of summer vacation. Daniel passed the public library without a second glance. He had not been there for years. The green of the park beckoned.

He was feeling cooped up in the apartment. Last summer Daniel could be sure that on any summer afternoon he could connect with a neighborhood friend down by the pool. With Greg out of the picture he would have liked to swim with Mandy. She lived close enough too. Her house lay at the other end of the Lion's park with its swimming pool, picnic tables, and playgrounds. The park had always been their common meeting ground during the hot summer months. Arlo closed the triangle on the far side of 7th Avenue Elementary School. Arlo lived far enough out to hang at the YMCA pool. Daniel joined him in the fall, but preferred the park pool in summer. He needed to build up his tan before he went to camp.

Daniel picked his way through the islands of sunbathers. Behind his shades he took in the well exposed curves and swells of the girls. He settled next to a pair of women chatting about their work. He flipped his towel down and sat while he pulled his T-shirt over his head. "Oooh! Take it off boy." Daniel grinned at the women and reached for his sun block. He worked the lotion in while he scanned the crowd for friends. "You want some help with your back?" Two weeks ago he would have shrugged them off. He glanced at the pretty woman and nodded. Her cool hand ran across his shoulders and down his back. It made his hair stand up. She must have been twenty but he felt a tingle at her touch. He buried his face in his arms and pretended not to hear their teasing comments about his muscles. Later when he rolled on his back they teased him about his six-pack. He hoped the erection beneath his shorts wasn't too obvious.

He let the sun warm him and he drifted a little on the soft breeze. Seven more weeks of this felt good to him. Some internal alarm told him when to turn over. The sun drifted across the sky as he lay oblivious to the shifting crowd. He was an empty husk of coconut baking contentedly in the sun. When his throat dried he leaned on his elbows to look around and have a drink from his bottle. The women were drowsing in their chairs and the sounds around him seemed muted in the heat. Some boys he recognized from the year behind waved at him. He didn't feel like talking to them but he waved back. They started over and he resigned himself to spending time with them.

Ravi was an over weight thirteen-year old going into grade eight. He dropped down next to Daniel and offered him some chips. Daniel shook his head and high five the other new eighth grader, Marty, as he folded himself close to Ravi. "How's it going Daniel? Heard you've been to the high school parties. Are you having fun?" Daniel's mood was broken as he wondered what people had heard.

"My senior is not bad. I've met some people and some of the parties are rad; the big party at the end of school really sucked. It was a frigging war with us grade nines as the casualties. Big warehouse rave surrounded by cops and a sick band." Said that way, it even sounded excellent to Daniel. "The party after was sweet."

"Are you getting hammered?"

"Oh yeh" In more ways than he liked to remember. "Tequila, vodka, beer, you name it, I had it." Ravi and Marty grinned at each other.

"Getting any high school pussy?"

Daniel was about to launch into his conquests when he had a sudden vision of Amber's glistening eyes and the hint of sadness. He remembered Arlo's question and how he had mishandled it. "No" but that didn't seem enough so he added, "Some of the girls are outstanding though." The boys asked him about the high school and he gave them a description of the maze he had seen on Friday. Marty asked about some of the eighth grade teachers they would have in the fall. The boys groaned at some of his descriptions and he knew he was slandering people he had actually gotten along with fairly well. The truth hurt, but he was pretty much a teacher's pet.

A beach ball hit Ravi in the head and the three boys were distracted by some girls hanging on the edge of the pool. The boys decided to accept the girl's invitation and headed for the water. Daniel watched Ravi and Marty jump in beside the girls while he pulled his shorts off. "He has a tight butt too." The woman peered at him over her shades. It made him smile as he ran to the edge of the pool to join the game of keep-away. He knew they were just teasing.

Walking home alone he felt light and free. His phone rang and he pulled it out as he walked, he felt cool behind his shades. "Yo yo yo" and it was Mandy checking him out. He heard the squeal of burning rubber and glanced over his shoulder at a red Mustang stopped across the crosswalk. Some guys with attitude were having it out with an old man. Now that would be way cool thought Daniel; me and Mandy in a cherry red Mustang on a hot summer day. He slammed into someone coming the other way and almost dropped his phone. Hands grabbed him as he fell backward and they twisted around each other. "My bad! I should have been watching where I was going." Daniel paused for a moment to focus on the boy holding him, Mandy temporarily forgotten. They were of a height and Daniel's impulsive smile sparked a sympathetic response in the dark haired boy. "Are you okay man?"

"Sure, no problem." The voice was restrained. The other boy must have suddenly realized he was still holding Daniel. He pulled away quickly and dropped his eyes for a moment. "Um, take it easy." He met Daniel's eyes once more and then twisted around to look at a smaller boy standing a few paces away. The boy turned back and gracefully pushed his long hair off his face. He shrugged his shoulders as if to say he had to go. They were both caught by something there in the sunlight.

"See you around." The boy nodded and turned away. No, not yet, not so fast, something seemed to whisper as Daniel watched him walk away. See you around, such a meaningless phrase like take it easy, just something someone said at such a moment on the sidewalk, but Daniel was suddenly curious about the boy. You met people every once and a while you were drawn to and would like to know better. The boy was one of them. Daniel shook off the feeling, turned away, and went back to sparing with Mandy on the phone. She was put out by his distraction but he did not care. She still owed him a kiss and he loved to remind her.

Echo, Moments Later

Laine caught up with Nick and they continued on to the library steps. He could not resist a look back at the handsome boy who had crashed into him. Probably talking to his girl friend on the cell phone, he thought glumly. He had been watching the boy as he came down the street listening to his brother's chatter with only half an ear. It was summer boy-watching weather; the boy's flat abs above green shorts that rippled back and forth across his groin as he walked, the bare chest with just the kiss of a summer tan touching his shoulders and the short golden hair screamed for his admiration. Take a picture Laine, why don't you. The boy's shorts fit well. Laine had admired the view from the front and the view from behind was nice too. Get the whole damn photo shoot and post it to alt.binaries.erotica.laines_dream_boys why don't you.

"Do you know him?" Laine turned back to his brother and shook his head silently. His life was full of those kinds of moments. Maybe everyone's were and maybe age or gender did not matter. You meet someone and you feel a connection. Sometimes it was a teacher, sometimes it was a friend's mom, sometimes a chance encounter on the street. Laine stopped at the top of the steps and looked back down the street to where the boy had disappeared. Only he had not vanished quite yet from Laine's life. The boy was standing half a block away watching him, the phone held to his ear. The boy's eyes were hidden behind expensive dark glasses but a sensuous smile curved across his lips. Laine's blushed with pleasure and ducked into the library. That was the kind of thing he had been hoping for in high school. The boy must have been about his age. He might even be in one of his classes in the fall. High School was definitely a fresh start. "Laine! You said you would help me here."

"Stop bugging me Nick." Laine should have been at the new house helping his dad rough out the new laundry room and family room in the basement. Instead he was babysitting his brother. Moving was very good even if he still had to share a room with Rerun. The world could see that they were brothers. A steady progression of school pictures lovingly enshrined by their mother proved that. Even their impish grins matched, at least up to the point where Laine's sad eyes stared back at the camera in grade eight. The new neighborhood meant a fresh start for Laine. A chance to escape the awkwardness of lost friends and the hostility of the bullies.

"What was the title?" Nick danced beside him as they headed toward a computer. Laine sighed. Nick was off to camp in in two weeks and it was hard not to envy him a little. His mother had caught Laine's glum expression when the chance to go to camp was explained to Nick and she had offered him a sympathetic smile. It was a bursary Laine would have enjoyed receiving when he was starting grade five. Things were not going well in the Bryant house. Laine knew better than to complain. Until his dad was fully recovered they would have to live on compensation and what his mom could earn. His parents never said it but they were trading down houses into an older neighborhood. Laine's job was to watch over the squirt and help where he could. Today they were on a mission to find a book his dad had recommended. The real mission was to stay out of their dad's way.

"My Side of the Mountain." Nick insisted on doing the search himself so Laine stood over him as he swiveled back and forth on the chair pecking the keys. Laine could have written the book in the time it took Nick to type five words. It took a while to find the book and then, even though Nick was a ferocious reader in his own right, Laine had to sit with his ten-year-old brother and read him the first chapter as Nick snuggled close under his arm. It was enough to get Nick hooked. Laine moved away toward the railing and leaned over to look at the people. The brothers had rarely come to the main branch. Before they moved it was easier to get to the branch out at the mall. It was an old crowd though. Laine watched one young man slouched in a soft chair reading a book. He had a sexy face, almost Ethiopian. His long legs were stretched out in front of him. He might have been a university student. Certainly not high school. The man shifted his legs and threw an ankle over his knee. Laine liked the way that accentuated the package beneath the worn fabric of the man's jeans. There were one or two men his dad's age who still looked good. Older men did not do it for him though. This was not the place to look at guys Laine concluded. He should have been out exploring the park by the river. If he went down to the pool there would be plenty to see. He turned away from the view and looked down the stacks to where his brother lay on the chair with his feet kicking over the back. Laine decided he might look for a book on tree houses. He would find what he was looking for faster on the net, but he had the time. He had been eying the huge Walnut in the new back yard and thought it would be perfect for a tree house. He figured he could surprise Nick with it when he got back from camp. His dad could help him with the tricky business of safely attaching the main joists to the trunk. It would be a way to pass the time.

Half an hour later Laine had given up looking for tree house plans. Even with the help of a librarian he had found he had no patience for it. He would Google it at home. Instead he had tracked down a couple of books to read and settled next to Nick. He had read Hatchet in school and he decided to look at the sequels. The idea of living alone in the wilderness had its appeal for Laine at the moment. Nick might look them over when he was done. He had found a copy of The Outsiders too. Laine liked to imagine Pony Boy was his boyfriend. Except maybe he would have blond hair like the boy he bumped into on the street. Laine had to adjust his cock. Yes definitely, and tough muscles too, switch blade and chocolate breakfast cake optional. Well it never hurt to dream.

* ** *

Everyone was sleeping, even Rerun. Laine stared over the half-eaten bowl of popcorn and the discarded cans of soda at the flickering television screen. His dad disapproved of his nocturnal lifestyle; something to do with Laine sleeping in till noon. His dad fretted about the house waiting for the doctor to clear him so he could get back to work. The idea of his eldest son sprawled in bed oblivious to his frustration definitely rubbed his dad the wrong way. Laine got away with it because he pulled his weight the rest of the day. Laine flipped channels idly with one hand while the other caressed his scrotum through he thin fabric of his boxers. He enjoyed the solitude of the night. The new house was no bigger than the last and that meant that until the family room was finished Laine would have no privacy during the day. He had argued for his own bedroom in the basement and lost.

Laine did not really want to lose himself in the northern woods for the summer. He craved companionship and missed the acceptance of his friends. Antony, Troy, Abdul and Laine, the Fearsome Four of the seventh grade, the charmed inner circle and now he was the outcast. Laine had started to grow his hair the day Tony had called him a faggot for the first time. His mother had given him the letter from Riverview. It was on the desk between the boy's beds. He had a mentor apparently. Laine did not know how to take this news. It could be a bad thing. Laine let his hand slip under the band of his boxers and let the course hairs tickle his finger tips. What were the odds this Duncan would take a gay freshie kindly? Laine had not heard from the senior. That bothered him a little. The local news had been full of items about the illegal party the police had let the high school seniors throw down town. Girls he still chatted with had even known people who had gone. High school had started and Laine was still out in the cold. Well city approval or not, his mom would never have let him attend an unsupervised party where alcohol was available anyway. That was one of many rules in the Bryant parenting book. Melissa had actually been at the party. He had eavesdropped on her chat with Wanda right after the party. Boys had been kissing boys. The thought made Laine hard. What would that be like? To kiss another boy even in fun? He closed his eyes and put himself in the party; his senior good-naturedly encouraging him to kiss another boy. Maybe blond with cute spiked hair and a nice build.

Laine glanced toward the stairs leading to the bedrooms before he pulled his boxers down. He was feeling a little jumpy ever since his mother had talked to him about the computer. A week ago Laine had been fretting while his mom checked her e-mail. He had been sitting on the couch watching Nick play a game when his mother called for his help. She was in Explorer when he came to stand over her shoulder. "This is such an old computer isn't it?" It certainly was. "I notice we don't have much room on the hard drive." It made Laine nervous when his mother took too close an interest in the computer. She had the Internet Options window open. "What is this Browsing History here?"

"Um... that is a record of where people have gone and some files are temporarily saved there so the computer can reload faster." Laine wanted to grab the mouse away from his mother.

"Oh, so this little green thingy in the favorites window lets you look at the history?" She opened the favorites window and the curser had moved dangerously close to the tab. Laine nodded his head mutely. She took her hand off the mouse before continuing, "Do you think we could save space on the hard drive if we deleted the history and the temporary internet files?"

"Well sure, a little." Laine shifted around her quickly and reached for the mouse. With a few practiced movements he reopened the Internet Options and purged the history with a click. "I guess every little bit helps." He would have to be much more careful from now on.

"Computers are so helpful, I don't know why your dad doesn't like them. I suppose other programs remember things too don't they?" His mother had snaked her hand onto Laine's back. "It might help if you checked things out for me. See what files we could delete." All he could do was nod his head again as he stared at the monitor. He let her hug for a second. "Thanks for showing me how to do that honey" a strong squeeze as if she needed him close and a fiercely whispered "I love you Laine" before she pushed him away playfully. "Now go away and let me do some research before supper; shoo." Later that night Laine had checked over the computer and reluctantly deleted some oddly placed file folders. His mother had cleaned out the history from her own afternoon search. That had been too close.

In the flickering dark with only the cat for company Laine dreamed. He could not hold the boy on the street in his mind. Details were slipping away. But it did not matter really, the summer boy staring at him behind his dark glasses in the bright sunlight was just a dream. The boy's interest meant Laine was not invisible; someone could want him. He was very hard now. He slid a hand over his own chest letting the fingers and palm be both the boy's hand on his and his on the boy's warm flesh. The boy's arms had been strong where he had gripped them. They were arms that would draw Laine close for a soft hesitant kiss. Laine arched his back thrusting his cock through the tight ring of his thumb and finger while he pressed the soft flesh of his elbow against his lips searching for the sensation of another boy's lips against his. Shared breath and shared need, Laine relaxed back into the couch cushions and let his shadow lover press close. Both hands were now working on his need. He was rampant and perspiration dripped from his arm pits and the fluids caught by his palm as it brushed across his glan and then coated his rod with each urgent stroke. Laine pushed himself further until finally the orgasm washed through his body offering him a temporary release and his chest was spattered with the hot white tears of his desire. Laine slowly kissed the palm of his hand drawing in his own musk in a deep breath and then dropped the arm across his eyes as his body drifted. See you around the boy's voice called brightly and Laine whispered it back like a prayer at Mass. He said it again louder, see you around, and his own voice shattered his memory of how the boy sounded like a pebble disturbing the perfect mirror of a still pool. Laine lay on the couch his desires sanctified again by his self anointing. The guilt's and fears of the day left him and the rightness of it all came at these moments and Laine felt whole. He was in no hurry to return to the solitude of the living room with its flickering television but the summer boy drifted away like a wisp of smoke or a shape in the clouds that suddenly loses its form; see you around.

Rocky Horror Picture Show, Saturday June 26th

Daniel had wondered why Denver wanted to make him go through another humiliating evening where he might risk getting hurt like Arlo had. "The Freshie Court has planned four parties this summer, two at beginning and two at the end." Denver had to prove Daniel had been to three of them. "I'm going away for a week in August to see my dad. That's when the swim party is going to take place. That might have been fun. I'll be back in time for the Freshie Dance that kicks off the year." After that Daniel and Denver would have to face the court if they had failed to go. Daniel could imagine where that could lead.

"Are the teachers that spaced out about all this?"

"They only care about what happens inside the school." Denver saw the problem if Daniel could not. The school had gangs, drugs, and even prostitution to deal with every day. Where did the school draw the line? "When you get your schedule I can tell you which teachers will help you and which ones won't." Denver planned a few more gatherings during the summer to let Daniel meet some of his other allies in the seemingly hopeless battle against freshie year.

Daniel had not been over to Denver's house since the after-freshie party. He felt ground down by his experiences. He was tired and could not get enthusiastic about another evening being a good sport. Denver saw this. He wondered if the girls would help cheer him up. Daniel lay on the couch quietly waiting. There was little indication that they were freshie and senior now. Denver switched seats and slid under Daniel's feet. He messaged Daniel's feet while he talked. "You have not seen Eddie's room yet." he caught Daniel's interest. "Karl put a shower into the staff bathroom and knocked a hole in the wall into the work room. Karl is turning it into an apartment." Denver privately thought the building inspector was going to shut Karl down when they found out what he had done. Karl had moved the door over to the new opening and filled the old door space with a stained glass window he had found on one of his wanderings. Every day Denver had found another change to the three-room space. Daniel smiled and decided he needed to stop in and see it for himself. He liked to hear about the Brass Lantern; it was beginning to be a part of his life. He could imagine working there when he was older.

They were interrupted by the arrival of Amanda and Mark. Mark took in the intimate arrangement on the couch and then commented that Amber wasn't coming; her family was doing something together. Daniel seemed oblivious to the awkward moment, but Denver pushed Daniel's feet off and stood up. He smiled slightly at his dark lover and moved over to a bar stool.

Mark sat across the room and let Amanda take charge of Daniel. She had scrounged a pile of items and brought them in a big bag. "I'm the fashion consultant tonight and Beth is going to come by to do hair and make-up." Mark stirred uneasily when he heard this. He glanced at Denver trying to gage his reaction to the news. He cursed Amanda, knowing what she was trying to do. Denver's ex-girlfriend was Mark's formidable opponent all the more because she wasn't even trying. Denver looked at his watch and Amanda took the hint. "We're going to use your bedroom Denver so you two get lost.

"We can't watch?" Amanda firmly shut this idea down. Daniel followed her back to the room and sat on the bed. He watched with apprehension as she dumped the contents of her bag on the bed. "I figure this is all about your size. Daniel picked through the clothes.

" Denver said it was going to be like The Rocky Horror Picture Show." He had rented the movie and watched it late last night in growing horror. Janice had been cute and vaguely familiar to him. The bald hunch-back had been okay, but the black outfits were too gay. It had really bad special effects. He and Arlo would have carved the show up from start to finish if Daniel had not been cautiously avoiding his best friend. Amanda dismissed that with a snort.

"I'm sure he'd like that. He needs to straighten out a little." She spread out a few items and actually smiled as she finished "we're going to look pretty!" She searched for a minute and held up a razor and can of foam.

"I don't need to shave."

"Oh yes you do" and made a little shaving motion with the razor in the air. "You have to do this Daniel. You're hairier than you think and take it from me someone will decide to do it for you at the party. Now do you want to do it, or would you like my help?"

Daniel had never shaved before and didn't know how to do it. If he had a dad at home like Arlo he might have seen it done. "You do it."

"You better strip and get into the bathtub for this. Now don't try to get me distracted in there." Daniel stripped down to his boxers and stepped into the shower. He kept himself under control, but he knew it wouldn't last long. She helped him by not paying attention. She applied foam in small doses to his legs. She did it with delicacy and patience. When she had done his lower legs and checked Daniel's hairless thighs she shaved his arm pits. Amanda made him shave his own face. He was upset by the shave. He valued every long anticipated hair on his body and he felt she was kicking him back to the sixth grade. "Don't worry Daniel. It will all grow back, you hairy stud you. " When she was done she ran her hands across his body looking for places she had missed. Satisfied with the job, she told him to have a shower.

When he was dry Amanda took baby powder and shook it all over him. "Now let's get dressed." She tossed a pair of black panties at him. Then she helped him put a bra on. She slipped two large artificial breasts into the bra. "Some women aren't so lucky Daniel. Cancer is cruel. My grandma lent me these so take care of them." Daniel nodded and tried to get used to the different weight. While Amanda looked for a skirt he took an opportunity to adjust his cock within the tight confines of the panties. It felt funny.

She gave him a mini skirt with a wide belt to try on. It came about half way to his knees. It was low on the hips. She handed him a short black v-necked top that left his midriff bare, but had a broad strap. She decided to switch to a black skirt in the same style and a pink top. With that she was satisfied. "That does it Daniel. It's Beth's turn." Daniel sat down on the bed while she cleaned up. She glanced at him for a moment "you're not a slut Daniel. Close your legs and sit up straight."

When they went back to the living room Daniel was feeling self conscious about his appearance. Denver and Mark were sharing drinks and a conversation. Daniel froze at the door when he saw the other girl. His face burned and he found he couldn't stop staring. Denver and Mark noticed the reaction and smiled at each other. Mark did the introductions. "Beth this is Daniel Murrell." She smiled back at him and his groin stirred. She rose and came up to him. She brushed his cheek.

"You're such a sweetie." She looked him over and spun him around. "Nice look Amanda." Then she studied his face. Let's go over to the bar and turn on the lights so that I can see what needs to be done. Daniel followed her like a puppy over to a bar stool and reveled in the cool touch of her hands on his face. She was drop dead gorgeous. If she knew it, she hid it in a way that set even pretty girls like Amanda at ease. Something about her face and eyes seemed familiar to Daniel and he knew he was drawn to her. "What are you wearing for shoes?" Daniel was still inarticulate.

"I've got some low pumps for him." Amanda contributed. She held them up for Beth to see. "Let's do his nails first. Beth sat in a bar stool next to Daniel and told him to give her a foot. Lifting a foot meant letting the dress ride up to his crotch and Daniel had risen to salute her beauty some time ago. His foot resting on her thigh was not helping matters. He sat staring at her with his hands covering the erection. High school was proving to be very hard on his fourteen-year-old body. Beth ignored him and focused on his feet.

"Daniel you should cut your nails more often." He blushed all over again and closed his eyes as she played with his foot. She started to clean his nails with her kit and shook her head absently at Amanda as she offered colors for her to choose. Across the room Mark knew that Denver was equally distracted by Beth. He recognized her charms himself, but was not drawn to her. Mark knew that Denver was moved strongly by the beauty of women. It was one of the things he was trying to come to terms with. "How is Mandy? I haven't seen her for a while."

"What?" Daniel replied blankly. He didn't understand. Beth dazzled him with a warm smile and went back to work on his toes.

"I don't know why we are worrying so much about your nails; everyone will be looking at your face and that impossible rack you are carrying around. Mandy is my cousin. Our mothers are sisters." Suddenly he realized why she looked so familiar to him. Daniel was filled with wonder. It was like a glimpse at Mandy in three years. "I'm out of school now. I work downtown at Chatters." Maybe four years. Daniel studied her a little more closely and noticed the differences. Hair color, the nose seemed wider. Of course Beth was much better built than Mandy. Still Mandy was only fourteen...

"You look a little alike." He finally choked out. Beth switched feet and continued working. When she had finished his feet she did his fingers. He had to lean forward and put them on the table for her, but he was regaining control of himself. She worked on his face commenting to nobody in particular that he needed to keep his make-up light.

"I think you're the girl next door: sweet and warm with something to share with someone special. You're not a slut and you don't put out for just anyone." She stopped and gave him a hug. Daniel cursed the false breasts that kept her warm softness away from his chest. She finished with some lip gloss. "What do you think we should do with his hair?" she asked Amanda.

"It's really too short, but I think you could style it. I brought a couple of wigs." She went to fetch them. Denver and Mark wandered over to see how things were going.

Mark was amused by the transformation and the boy's discomfort. "My brother would go for you Daniel... do you like younger men?" Daniel's eyebrows narrowed in annoyance. "Now you look just about right for Denver." He nudged Denver a little. "The best of both worlds eh?" It was a mean thing to say and Mark knew it.

"Shut up Mark." But the truth was Denver was fascinated by the transformation. He had no interest in cross-dressing. He was taken with the girl Daniel might have been. Young boys had such fine features. He wondered if that was why he had been drawn to Daniel. He was certainly drawn to Daniel's mother. He realized Daniel was watching him waiting for his reaction. He didn't want Daniel to think he liked him better this way so he said "Daniel's better the way he is." Daniel flashed a smile gratefully at him and then turned his attention to the wigs. They tried on long straight hair that brushed his shoulders. Beth and Amanda liked it so they finished him off by containing his shock of hair beneath a hair net and pinned the wig securely on. They offered Daniel a mirror and he took a quick at his face framed by long dark hair. It could be worse Daniel reflected. Beth started to take the mirror back when on an impulse Daniel pulled it back.

"Like what you see?" Quipped Mark. Daniel shook his head slightly as he studied himself. Actually, he did, and he was not clear why. There was something inexplicably familiar in the face framed by shoulder-length hair. He turned his face back and forth and then tossed it slightly. The hair fell over his right eye and he brushed it back off of his face with a quick gesture. That movement was familiar to him. He stared at his reflection.

"We need to get going Daniel." Daniel turned to Denver and the moment passed.

When he stood up to try the shoes on Beth remarked "you can dance in that outfit." It was time to go.

Freshman Hazing

Riverside Journal, June 27th

A 14-year-old boy nearly died of an alcohol overdose that boosted his BAC to well over.30, according to the Journal. The Journal said the boy was forced to

eat a raw egg and encouraged to consume liquor at a house party. But another boy hazed at the time said peer pressure, not force, made the other youth drink. Newspaper accounts said the student had been dressed in women's clothing and then was taped and had epithets

scrawled on his body with markers. Stunned by repeated physical hazing and even a life-threatening alcohol initiation, administrators and coaches have begun speaking out. Harvey Larson , freshman football coach, called the hazers "knuckleheads" when asked to comment.

Bright Eyes, Saturday evening

Denver and Daniel drove in silence to the After-freshie Party. Daniel found it had many locations. It was actually a series of house parties scattered around the west end. The dangerous flow of young people moving from house party to house party went a long way toward explaining why the police were so accommodating about the warehouse party Riverview had held each spring for the last four years. Daniel had asked how anyone would know how they had gone in the first place. Denver dug a plastic token out of his pocket as he drove and handed it to Daniel. It was like an over-sized coin with the school mascot on one side and Grad on the other. "We get three in the summer and one each month after that. At the June party we have to pay for your freedom with twelve tokens."

"Who comes up with this stuff?" Daniel couldn't believe his humiliation was that well organized.

"Teachers and the SRC probably; they are always looking for ways to build school spirit." Denver remembered the enthusiastic promotions the staff made in the closing weeks of the year trying to sell their mentorship program. There were even TV spots where earnest seniors and freshmen talked to the news reporters about how much they had gained from the year of mentoring. Teams building houses for habitat for humanity and disabled students finding their strengths filled the airwaves. The hallways were full of feel-good posters promoting the joy of sharing your talents with others. It was called peer mentoring by the school and Denver might have bought into it better if his own experience had not been so cruel.

"How come we can't just get someone to give us the coins and skip the party?" Denver glanced over at him, then back to the road. Daniel was not by nature a cheater, but the circumstances made it an attractive option. "Or why aren't there normal parties like you had where we just have fun?" And Daniel was not the butt of jokes or dressed in drag.

"The organizers take themselves very seriously and they think I have the wrong attitude." Denver had shared his opinions about the program's darker side too freely. He knew there was nobody on the committee willing to do him a favor. By the time he had thought about the advantages of having a friend or two on the committee it was too late. "I guess lots of seniors do just that. I'm sorry Daniel, I screwed up this year and those guys know what I think of them. They wouldn't give me the sweat off their balls. They're going to make me earn every token the hard way and you're along for the ride. There are lots of other parties and I will take you to a few. It's not all freshies and seniors, trust me." It was true that most seventeen-year-olds did not welcome the ninth graders to their parties. Daniel thought about this for a while as they drove through the early evening traffic.

"You didn't have to get involved at all. You could have sat the year out and done your own thing." Daniel thought Denver was doing this for him. He looked over at Denver's profile. Denver saw him looking.


"Nothing," I just like you, Daniel thought. "Let me shift at the next light." Denver's car was seriously cool. Daniel never lacked for things, but his mother would never let him have a car like this; or the cherry red Mustang.

"In your dreams kid." Denver wasn't that kind of driver and nobody drove his dad's car except him. His dad had given him an Echo for god sake. When his dad was out of town the Echo sat in the garage gathering dust.

"How fast does it go?" Denver had never opened it up for him.

"The speed limit." The truth was Denver had run it up once or twice on a highway. His dad might be on the road a lot of the time, but Denver had always had to follow the rules strictly. It was part of what had made their family work since his mom had walked out. Denver understood his dad needed to know things were okay when he was halfway around the world. Mark didn't get that this was the reason Denver rarely had parties. Things had to stay in control.

Daniel shifted uneasily next to him. Denver had to keep reminding himself that he wasn't on a date with a slightly shorter version of Daniel's mother. "I should call you Heather tonight." Daniel glanced at him and Denver cursed the slip.

"She's twenty-nine. I asked her after you asked me." It seemed old to him, but he had done the math and realized she must have been fifteen when he was born. Health class taught him nine months before that she had been fourteen. Denver was doing the same math and reached an ugly conclusion. She had been a freshman when Daniel was conceived. That Daniel's father was out of the picture made things even uglier. He glanced at Daniel and wished he could confront the SOB with this shining person next to him in so he could realize what he had thrown away. "I wish she could find a nice guy. How old is your dad?"

Denver laughed "he's about forty-five this year." Denver stopped to consider the idea. His dad didn't have a girl friend, he hadn't let himself go that much. "Your mom would hate a guy like him. He's always on the road these days."

"When is he coming home? I bet mom would like to meet your dad. She always wants to talk to my friend's parents." She was a terror about it. He was always feeling embarrassed when some mom or dad ended up in their kitchen and he just knew they were dissecting his private life. "He'll be back from China in September. Your mom phoned him last Friday."

"She phoned China ? Shit she just won't stop."

"I told you she would kill me if I let anything happen to you." He thought about his own mother's disinterest in his life. The two had much in common. At least his mother admitted he was her son. "Who knows? Maybe they could have coffee some time in the fall." And maybe we would eventually be brothers they both thought. Denver pulled the car over and parked.

"I hope it isn't too far, these shoes are hard to walk in." They only had to walk three blocks to the house Denver had chosen. He felt Ashley was the least offensive of the people hosting a party. Her mom managed a hotel and the basement was one big party room. Ashley's freshie met them at the door. Daniel didn't know her. She must have gone to a different school. She was dressed in formal attire: an expensive looking tuxedo. It seemed a little unfair to Daniel. The girls got to dress like boys, which half of them did anyway. As Denver followed Daniel in the back door she directed them down to the basement and handed Denver a token. He checked it and slipped it into his pocket. She hadn't given Daniel more than a quick look over.

The party didn't have the wild feel of the warehouse. Across from the stairs was a wide bar packed with people. To the left of the U-shaped space there were three booths that looked like they had been lifted from a restaurant. A large space extended backward. Denver thought it had the feel of a bar lounge. A lot of furniture and fixtures had apparently migrated from the hotel into the basement of Ashley Ball's house. Denver saw a chair free next to someone he knew (and liked) and pushed Daniel in that direction. He sat in the chair and seeing no other free ones close told Daniel to sit on his lap. He let his hand rest along Daniel's smooth thigh. Daniel leaned back against Denver's shoulder to get comfortable and felt the sudden hardness of Denver's cock against his leg.

Denver's friend was sitting with a young girl dressed much the way Daniel would have dressed for school. She actually looked pretty good in the skater outfit. He didn't recognize her and since this was the freshie thing, he didn't talk to her either. They smiled at each other and tried to keep a low profile. Denver didn't bother to introduce him to the senior but Daniel gathered his name was Garret Keeler. They shared an interest in football and fell into a discussion on next year's season. Daniel glanced around the room and noticed that things seemed much more civilized than the previous party. There were grade nines dancing together and all of the seniors seemed friendly with their freshies. Daniel noticed two seniors checking out a boy's costume across the room. The girls were scolding the boy for not shaving his arm pits. One of them pulled out a razor and dragged the boy back to a bathroom. The other noticed his interest and strolled over to check him out. Daniel raised an arm helpfully to show he had shaved. She glanced at his legs and surprised him by kissing his face. "Good boy" she said and slid her hand along his thigh up to his crotch. Her friend called her back and she left without another word. The boy stumbled out of the bathroom some time later looking upset and the girls resumed their careful inspection.

Garret suggested that the two freshies go and dance so Daniel took the girl over to the area near the bar and they danced awkwardly for a while. Daniel learned her name was Wanda and this was her first party. She asked who had done his make-up and he blushed. He explained the work Beth had done on him and they shared a joke about his breasts and the way they kept bumping into her. When the music got livelier a couple of seniors organized them all into a line dance and Daniel began to enjoy himself with the kids his own age. The girls kept laughing at the boy's bouncing boobs and they in turn became less self conscious of the cloths they were wearing. It was beginning to feel like the parties they had hoped they would have in high school. Daniel sweating underneath the bra and decided it was time for a break from the dance floor. Wanda had hooked up with some friends so he left her behind while he went looking for a bathroom. He went to the right towards a pool table and air hockey table and bumped up against Troy.

Troy turned around and frowned when he saw a grade nine had bumped into him, "fuck off you little prick". Daniel back peddled quickly and turned. Troy barked at him "stop you little shit." before he could slip away and Daniel froze. "Turn around baby doll" When Daniel turned he saw recognition in the older boy's eyes. Troy turned to a friend and said "this little cunt keeps giving me attitude every time I see him. I think we need to have a little conversation boy." He grabbed Daniel's shoulder and led him toward a back of the room. He checked the door and then shoved Daniel into the room beyond. Daniel careened into the furnace and fell to the floor dazed. "Every year there's a few zits like you who think they are too good to be freshies Your gay boy master was one of them." Daniel's eyes widened when Troy drew his belt off his jeans. "Don't get your hopes up you fag. You're not going to get to wrap your lips around my cock and I'm not interested in your fudge hole. I just don't have a paddle handy and I have no intention touching your fruity ass cheeks. " Daniel pulled himself to his knees. His heart was pounding in his ears and he broke into a sweat. As Troy moved closer he could have pissed his pants.

Troy told him to get up and lean against the wall. Daniel guessed what was coming from the way Troy was swinging the folded belt loosely in his hands. It still didn't prepare him for the blow and the stinging pain he felt in the small of his back. "What do you say freshie?"

"Thank you sir" Daniel gasped out. His legs were weak and he didn't think he could take another hit. Didn't the seniors only get to hit him once? There must be a freshie rule book somewhere saying you couldn't use belts. Troy hit Daniel a second time on the back of his thighs where there was no cloth to protect him and he nearly buckled to the floor. He pulled himself up and murmured another thank you through gritted teeth. The tears were flowing now and his nose was running. He was waiting for the next blow when he heard Denver's voice behind him. There was a cold fury in his tone that he did not even bother to hide.

"Is there a problem here?" Daniel didn't move, but relief flooded through him and he he did not care about the tears dripping down his cheeks. "Step outside the door Daniel." Daniel left the room without a glance at either senior and leaned against the wall as Denver closed the door behind him. He couldn't stop the tears.

Troy was putting his belt back on as Denver leaned against the door. "What the hell is wrong with you Troy ? That was way out of line." He had to work to keep himself under control.

"What the hell's the matter with you? That kid has an attitude. Every time I ask him to do something he disrespects me."

"He didn't want to hit a friend and he didn't want to force himself on a girl. So what? These kids are not really slaves Troy, isn't it just a game? What's your problem guy? You had him up against the wall and you were laying into him with that belt like your dad used to beat you." Troy's eyes flared up at the memory. "Yeh Troy, how are you any better than your old man?"

"Shit, you think the kid is a hero. He wasn't showing the proper respect. He needed an attitude adjustment." The two childhood friends were getting into each other's faces.

"Why should he act like he's grateful when you're beating the shit out of him?" Denver looked him in the eyes. "I remember what your dad did to you. I remember the nights. Were you happy when Terrence Shipley turned you over to the football team? Was there gratitude in your voice when you thanked him for selling you out?"

"Shut the fuck up. Don't you ever mention that again or I'll drift you." Troy was furious at Denver. "You were there too." The two fourteen-year-olds had sat curled up in the locker room crying together when it was finally over. The two seventeen-year-olds stood their ground in the furnace room, all the hurt anger and their mutual sense of betrayal hanging between them like a toxic cloud.

"Did you get all the compassion fucked out of you in grade nine? How can you look at yourself after you've molested that little girl out there?" Troy lashed out at Denver with a vicious left hook that snapped his head back. Denver retaliated with a series of driving punches to the face with his right fist that drove Troy back across the room. Denver tripped him down onto the floor and stood over him with his arm drawn back for another punch. "Have you had enough? Do you want some more?" Troy stayed where he was and shook his head. The two were evenly matched, they always had been, but Troy didn't have the heart for it. Denver turned and walked back toward the door. He stopped without turning and added "We used to be tight Troy, brothers remember?" Troy leaned back against the wall with his eyes closed but Denver knew the words were getting through. "I'm sorry that's changed. I can't be the person you want me to be and I can't go along with you on this. Hurt my friend again and you deal with me." Denver walked out of the room.

Shake it off, Saturday later

Denver stood by the bathroom door while Daniel cleaned himself up. He shoved the whole ugly thing with Troy back where it belonged. When Daniel came out he looked a little better. "I'm sorry, but we have to stay a little longer or move to a different party. What do you want to do?" Daniel wanted to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible; Denver already knew that, so he just said that they might as well stay. They bumped into their host as they went to look for a seat. She ignored Denver's face and graciously informed them that Troy had decided to move on to a different party. The pair relaxed a little at this and found themselves back in a chair in the lounge area. Daniel reached out and touched the side of Denver's face where he had been hit.

"Thanks" The joy of dancing had been wiped out by Troy in the furnace room. Ashley reappeared with a couple of cold beers suggesting they looked like they needed something. Daniel drank his quickly and Denver gave him the other bottle. He remembered his crack to Troy about molesting his freshie He didn't feel he had done much better. He was finding it harder to keep his hands off of Daniel. Even now he felt a strong urge to take him back into his lap and kiss the hurt away. He wanted to feel the damage done to Daniel's body by Troy 's belt and sooth it with his lips. He knew they needed to release the tension and restore themselves so he suggested they dance with the others. Daniel reluctantly agreed.

The dance floor had turned into a miniature mosh pit with too many people. Daniel and Denver lost themselves in the music and strobe lights. Daniel caught glimpses of Denver dancing alone or with others loose and wild. His own dancing was not as polished and he knew it. Caught up in the crowd, a slight buzz from the beer, he recovered from the pain and humiliation. The fear left him and it did not matter when Simon bumped into him. He danced again with Wanda and then with her friends. at times he even seemed to be dancing with the boys. Finally, covered in sweat from the wig, he sat down to catch his breath at one of the restaurant booths.

Caught in the flashes of strobe light Denver looked so into the music. He danced slowly, eyes closed, seemingly alone in the crowd of dancers swirling around him. Daniel was glad they were friends. The dancing seniors and freshies were the cool uninhibited parties Daniel had been looking forward to. If the Troy 's would simply let it go he could deal with the girls checking out his arm pits and the Halloween costumes he was supposed to wear. Most of the time being a freshie was just like being the rookie on the team. You respected the veterans, let them have first crack at everything and showed you were a good sport by going along with the hazing. When you were the veteran it was your turn. A figure slid around the booth and jogged his elbow. "You look hot tonight Daniel." Daniel glanced at Simon whose drag costume was a nod at best to the rules of the evening. He had his hair in a ponytail and one large rhinestone clip-on earring. The effect was more pirate than girl. "How about a blow job?"

"I don't need one right now. But I'll remember you offered when I do." Daniel deliberately misinterpreted Simon's meaning. The prick wasn't going to let it drop.

"Chris said you sucked him like a pro so I thought you'd like to take a real cock into your mouth." Daniel ignored him as best he could.

"What happened to your cheer-leader?" Simon looked uncomfortable.

"She's dancing with her boy friend." Daniel reflected that his own freshie experience had had far too many low points, but there had also been some incredible highs. Denver might not have been the cheer-leader of his eighth grade fantasies, but he was there for Daniel. Their times alone together or at the Brass Lantern were great. He decided to end the verbal sparring with Simon. "I've had a rotten night Simon and your lusting after me is not helping. We are caught up in a nightmare and I for one can't wait to wake up."

"You are such a poet Daniel." Denver finally came over to join Daniel and took in Simon with a friendly glance.

"Simon would like to give you a blow job Denver." Denver looked at the short boy with the long hair with fresh interest.

"Hey! I'm up for it. Let me just sit down and you can slip under the table and do me." To Simon's dismay Denver sat and slid around until Simon was trapped between them. "But I have to tell you Simon, I don't like to get bitten." Denver loomed over the small ninth grade boy and Simon froze not knowing what to do.

"Denver likes to spank me when I have been a bad freshie" Daniel added helpfully. Simon looked back and forth at them unsure of himself. Daniel and Denver waited with amusement. Finally Simon found some humor in his situation and turned to Denver.

"I'll take the spanking if you don't mind." Denver laughed and commanded both freshies to sit where they were until he came back. He returned with two beers and a glass of water for himself. As they sat and drank, Denver asked Simon to tell them some stories about the cheer-leader. Simon caught a view of the twelfth grade girl sucking face on the dance floor and launched into a series of lurid stories that both poked fun at himself and destroying the senior's reputation. He was funny story-teller as Daniel already knew. Denver was fascinated by the little comic and happily took the role of his straight man. When Simon finally suspended his monologue Denver reciprocated with some stories about her of his own and the three of them burst into laughter when the subject of conversation appeared to collect her freshie and leave. Simon thanked Denver for the beer and told Daniel "thanks, I needed that." Turning Simon around restored Daniel's humor and he danced for the next half hour with the grade nine girls. Denver had to pull him away at the end.

In the car Daniel remarked "it can be a good time." He glanced shyly at Denver and confided "this is the way I thought it was going to be." He blushed in the dark. Why did he have to sound so gay all the time? He and his friends were going to be so cool in high school. They were not going to chatter like girls. Be cool. Keep your mouth shut except to throw a burn out once and a while. They had practiced their maturity on the seventh graders; putting down their enthusiasm with the weight of their world-weary experience. Here he was dressed like a chick flipping his hair at a guy, gushing about his "feelings". He should be talking about the beer he hammered back tonight and how drunk he felt. Actually he didn't feel the beer anymore. He must have burned it off on the dance floor.

Denver broke the silence "This is pretty much how I hoped it would be too." Denver had a way of making Daniel feel better about himself.

Goodbye, Sunday June 27th

Denver sat while Daniel took off the outfit. He watched as Daniel carefully folded the clothes and placed the bra with Amanda's grandmother's breasts on top. He took a look at Denver and then went into the shower. Denver listened to him washing and thought about the welts on his back and thighs just bellow his butt. Daniel asked him if he had anything to take off the make-up. Denver came into the bathroom to tell him he didn't. "Here; give me the washcloth for a minute." Daniel closed his eyes and Denver tried to rub the eyeliner and lipstick off of his face. "I think I got most of it off." He sat on the toilet while Daniel continued to wash.

Daniel wasn't sure why he had lured Denver into the bathroom. Daniel didn't mind having Denver watch him shower. He'd been showering with other boys since he was in grade four at school. He had watched Arlo use the shower at his apartment the time they had discovered a new use for the side jets. If he had been asked to think about it, he might have said it just seemed like one of the things friends and team-mates did. Skinny dipping in a cold lake was part of the tradition at his camp. He turned his back on Denver to wash his groin. Daniel turned arching his back under the shower to rinse off his hair. Denver appreciated the view. When the boy stepped out of and dried off Denver asked to see the welts. He touched them lightly where the belt had broken through the skin. Daniel twisted back trying to assess the damage.

"I'll never hit you again."

Daniel turned to face his senior the towel covered nothing and Daniel's face showed no self-consciousness about his nudity. "If you won't, then who will? Troy ?" It was like that game Jumanji, once you started you couldn't quit till the game was over. Troy leaned his forehead against Daniel's naked chest, felt his warmth, smelled the fresh scent of his body and heard his gentle breathing. He put his arms around the boy and twined his fingers together at the small of his back. Daniel wrapped his arms around Denver's unruly hair and they held each other for a while.

"It's hard sometimes." Denver mumbled. He let go of Daniel and stood up. Daniel followed him into the bedroom and lay down on the bed naked. He didn't want to get dressed. His nakedness was a connection to Denver and he didn't want to break it yet. Clothes would end the evening and he would have to leave. It could be half the summer before he saw Denver again. Daniel stretched out like a cat on the bed cover and rolled onto is stomach. He wanted to keep Denver talking for a bit longer.

"Do you like Beth?"


"No I mean do you like Beth?" Daniel was okay with Denver and Mark. He knew he should be all cool about it, but he wished Denver had a girl friend. He couldn't imagine living his life with a guy.

Denver looked at the boy flirting with him on the bed. Daniel didn't realize he was asking Denver to reveal his most intimate struggle. Sex for Daniel was probably just simple gratification. Denver was getting past that and he needed a satisfying relationship. That meant long term commitment and making a choice about the gender of your life partner. He also had a strong need for family and he knew that would be difficult with another man.

"Yes I guess I do like Beth a lot." Daniel revealed his innocence with his next question.

"Does Mark know you like her? What does he think?"

"Hey Daniel, that's Mark's business not yours. Don't be so quick to ask people about their relationships."

"Sorry." Daniel ducked his face into the bed cover for a minute. Denver relented and moved over to the bed beside him. He reached out and scratched the hair along Daniel's neck and stroked his spine before speaking.

"Mark hates the idea I might leave him for anyone. He knows I haven't figured out what I want to do yet." Leaving Mark was not something Denver had contemplated doing. Daniel rolled on his side and propped himself up on an arm.

"She's pretty hot Denver. She doesn't look like the type who is going to be alone for long." Denver poked him in the stomach.

"Are you putting pressure on me?" Beth was hot, but Daniel was wrong about Beth. She was like Denver; ready to move into something that would last and might lead somewhere. "Beth is wise. She isn't afraid to be alone, and she is very patient when she wants something." He looked back at the naked boy. "Are you the patient type Daniel?"

Daniel thought about Mandy and rolled onto his back and tucked his hands behind his head. "I'm trying to be" he said with a deep sigh. He decided to try one more question "does Beth usually get what she wants?" Denver got the real question, but he wasn't sure it was right to give an answer. He had to pause before he replied.

"Yes she usually does" but then, Daniel did not seem to realize that Mark also usually got what he wanted too. "These are not easy choices Daniel. The world is full of people who you can make a life with," that was too permanent for a fourteen-year-old to think about "or people you like. I think there is more than one right person for each of us. I know its a heavy thing to think about Daniel. You might think you have the right person, but it might be someone else completely."

Daniel was a bit of a romantic. He had known Mandy for years and he had a hard time imagining there was anyone better than her. The idea that some total stranger out there in the night might be better and that he might never know for sure unsettled him. "I don't know Denver..."

Denver poked Daniel in the side "Don't worry about it Daniel. I was just trying to explain myself to you. But keep an open mind kid, you never know who you might bump into." Daniel looked at him skeptically. It was time to break the connection and take the boy home.