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 Nine, Avoiding Snags

Confessions, Saturday, July 10th

Naked in the cool summer might, his cock ridged with desire, Mark willed Denver to consume him with his mouth. Denver kissed his thighs and Mark could feel Denver's hot breath as his tongue explored the long familiar territory of his belly and nipples. Mark chuckled softly. "The first time I did this you were moaning." Denver paused to look up at him.

Mark peered down his nose at Denver. "Well now it tickles." They shared a smile.

"Where's the passion?"

"Shut up and go on." Then Mark felt Denver's hands travel up the back of his legs to grasp his ass and suddenly Denver's mouth did envelope his cock. Mark cradled Denver's head between his hands, arched his back and closed his eyes as Denver's lips and tongue reacquainted themselves with his ridged member. Now Mark moaned softly he moved closer to climax. As Denver entered a rhythm with his mouth Mark's member pulsed. In a heart-stopping moment Mark released a shattering orgasm into Denver's mouth and bent forward over the other's arched back sobbing. Denver continued to play and suck on Mark's cock and balls while his lover slowly came back from the orgasm. Mark let his fingers trail through Denver's hair contentedly. When Denver finally pulled away they joined for a kiss. Mark caressed Denver remembering their first night together as the soft flakes fell. They slipped into the inviting heat of the tub. Denver smiled as Mark licked his cock and caress him slightly as he entered the water, but he gently pulled away when Mark attempted to give him head. Mark frowned at him playfully.

"You have adequate circumstances, if I may." Mark had an inexhaustible supply of ways to describe Denver's parts. "You have agreeable circumstances, if I may."


"If they were a condo I'd take out a lease and settle in." Denver stopped Mark with a kiss. For a while they said nothing as they sipped whiskey and explored each other's bodies with mouth and hands.

"I've been really happy with you Mark."

"God, that sounds like you are breaking up with me."

"No, not at all" The quick note of concern shifted to a softness "I just thought I should tell you." Denver traced Mark's lips with a finger and Mark nipped it playfully.

"So no exotic Chinese boys and girls on this trip?"


"Aww... I was hoping for some stories when you came back."

"Not unless you were there with me." It was a familiar tease between them, and not one to be taken seriously.

"Eighteen with a gymnast's body please. Boy, Denver, not one of your girls. Remember I don't like the assembly instructions with those models."

"Yes, you have mentioned it to me on occasion." Mark had been openly gay when he started grade nine. The straight seniors had found amusing ways to exploit this. "We joke about this, don't we? We never really talk about it though." Mark took another sip of the blood-warm whisky he tolerated for Denver's sake. The warm water and his recent orgasm left his body temporarily satiated. Mark kept his silence. "We never promised to be exclusive."

"I think we never had to." Denver met Mark's eyes. Mark could guess what Denver was thinking. Mark was a notorious flirt, particularly when he had been drinking. Mark knew he was very physical and very public. Denver was quite private about his sexuality and that made Denver's rotating closet routine particularly hard on Mark. "We are not really talking Dim Sum here are we? I think we are talking about a certain corn-fed blondie joined at your hip; a certain little corn-dog, horn-dog blondie waiting in the wings." Their eyes never wavered from each other. Mark's words left a small silence. "No, we never promised."

"After Christmas, you still saw a few people..."

"... and you were still with Beth." Mark turned away and let his eyes travel from one accent light to the next. They had slipped back into a conversation neither had wanted to force on the other. Mark was a sixteen-year-old discussing commitment with a seventeen-year-old. They were not partners yet. Mark had not stretched his imagination past the next two years of high school and it seemed he only had another year with Denver. Mark had not thought he was ready to think about that kind of commitment yet. "Since then..."

"... Yes." It was unspoken there between them. The interest in others had faded. They both needed more fidelity now but both were reluctant to voice this to the other. Mark needed to know Beth was safely in the past and that the fourteen-year-old boy did not threaten his future. He knew Denver needed assurance that the party foreplay, okay, the party sex was under control. Mark leaned forward to kiss Denver. The rich smoky scotch mingled with the taste of Denver on his tongue. It was a big step. Just say you love the guy. Mark would then give his heart over to Denver completely. It would be so easy. Let him hear it for real, not as something you babble when he fills your emptiness. Mark suddenly ground his lips tightly against Denver's. With their faces locked together Mark straddled Denver in the water and below the steaming surface cocks embraced sharing the turbulence of the hot tub jets. Mark knew if Denver turned to Daniel, if he shared any of himself with the young boy, it would hurt. It would hurt very badly.

After a while they moved silently to Denver's room. It was a slow progress full of soft touches and stumbles. Finally, against a wall, Mark climbed the heights of Denver and wrapped his legs around his waist. They twirled the rest of the way to Denver's room locked tightly at the lips until they fell with a soft bounce on the scattered duvet. Denver lay beside Mark and once again explored, licked and nuzzled his entire body. Denver gently flipped him over and began working on his back. Mark reached up to grasp the bed stead as Denver attacked his spine and shoulders before working his way down past the swell of Mark's butt to tickle his legs with his tongue. He lapped his way back to the soft cleft and began a teasing attack on Mark's clean shaven flower. Whispers past like secrets between them. Finally Denver covered the moaning boy and with an almost agonizing slowness penetrated Mark. When he had buried his length in Mark Denver slid a hand around Mark's slender waist and gripped his silky rod. With a slow rhythm Denver stroked and delved deeply into Mark. They were patient with each other, neither anxious for the union to end. It was an erotic dance practiced over long hours together among the empty rooms presided over the years by a lonely Denver. It was a dance of small movements and pressures. In time Mark could not contain himself. His cock was expanding beyond the stretched boundaries of his skin, a shimmering aura pulsating with each beat of his heart. His abraded flesh burned now and he was losing control of his muscles. A sweat broke out and Denver listened to his lover's hoarse groans. The flaming teenage passion banked into radiant coals abruptly exploded and Mark's growing frenzy devoured Denver's own self control and he mirrored his lover's urgency. Denver's weight pressed Mark down into the Denver-scented sheets of the bed. Their evening dance was almost over. Damp sweat, heavy musk and the earthy richness of their bodies assaulted the senses until they finally spent the accumulated passion of the evening in two closely spaced, life-renewing bursts .

Denver nuzzled Mark's neck until his satisfied member had withdrawn from his partner. Denver flopped over beside Mark and drifted off quickly. Mark lay beside him, face pressed into the Denver-Apricot-shampoo smell of Denver's pillow, his anus folding back in on itself. He watched the slow rise and fall of his lover's chest and listened to the slight rasp of air escaping through his parted lips. "I love you" Mark whispered softly. Denver's breath caught momentarily as if in response to Mark's secret words, then it came with a small snort that made Mark smile. He listened contentedly as the snoring grew in volume and finally pushed at Denver's damp shoulder coaxing him to role over. Denver stirred irritably for a moment before shifting onto his stomach away from his dark lover. Mark stroked Denver's back to settle him again. "Noisy bastard" he scolded lightly. You could grow used to having someone beside you in the night. The boy's slept until early afternoon.

The necessary specifications, Sunday, July 11th

Laine set the half-empty glass of orange juice down on the ground beside his chair and contemplated the tree before him. It must have been a sapling when the house was built in the depths of the Great Depression. Its vast branches shadowed half the yard and in the summer heat left little light for the sickly lawn clinging tenaciously to the soil around its base. It was the one thing Laine appreciated about the new house. Ultimately his dad had convinced him that the tree would not support a secure structure by itself. Over the weekend three of his dad's friends had dropped by with a worn power pole and meters of pine too stained for salvage. As his dad had watched enviously, the men had muscled the pole into position three meters from the tree and dropped it into the hole Laine had scrabbled with a shovel and crowbar from the soil and underlying stone. Laine had also been a little anxious about the extra help. The tree fort was his project and he did not want it made for him. The three carpenters had finished their contribution after laying a few secure joists from the broad trunk of the tree to a cross piece on the pole. They had let Laine help with most of it, but at that point it had not quite felt like it was his project anymore. Still, they had left the rest for him and he had a week left to finish it before Nick got back. Laine drained the last of the juice and went for the spare tool belt on the pile of salvaged lumber beside the house.

Laine worked through the cooler hours of the morning laying the floor. He might have used a hand. The floor lay about four meters above the ground and it was no easy task getting the boards for the floor up to his work area. His dad was still busy in the basement. He had come out to help Laine lift a stack of boards and now it looked like Laine would have to ask him to come out again. Laine procrastinated after the last of the available boards was screwed down. He had a good view into the neighboring yards. Across the back there was a girl in grade twelve. Her name was Noelle Boisson and she had come out to see what he was doing. She had not been impressed with the project and told him so. She did not realize Laine had no interest in seeing her sunbathing in the back yard. No younger brother there either worst luck. A voice interrupted his thoughts from across the fence behind him. "Man that is quite the construction project you have going there." Laine twisted around and looked down on a large boy about his own age leaning on the fence. The boy offered a friendly smile and Laine mirrored it back.

"Well, it's something to do to pass the time."

"No it looks cool. You guys just moved in didn't you?"

"Yep; I thought it was a retired couple over there." Laine had watched them puttering around an extensive vegetable garden.

"Yeh, my grandmother and her new boyfriend; can you believe that?" The boy laughed at the idea. Laine peered down at the pile of floor boards and contemplated the climb down. He had rigged a rope ladder against the tree. It would probably be part of the final fort. "You interested in a little help? I have to kill a few hours here." Laine looked down at the boy. That would be cool, he thought.

"Sure, I didn't think through this part of it. I should have rigged some sort of pulley here I guess." The boy told him to hang on and he disappeared back into the house a moment later. Laine surveyed the tree above his head looking for a likely branch. He did not have a pulley (who kept things like that around?), but he could toss a rope over a branch. With two of them hauling on the rope they could lift a fair load. Where was the rope? He would have to get down.

Laine had given up finding a rope when the other boy arrived. They studied the problem and decided they would just have to hand the boards up one at a time. They worked on the job for the next half hour saying very little to each other. When Laine had a decent stack up on the platform the other boy climbed up to join him. The boy looked around a little and then confessed, "Actually, I don't like heights much."

"You going to be okay?"

"Oh sure, this isn't so bad, pretty solid. When I flip out just hit me with a board." Laine chuckled. The boy looked way too tough for that.

"I guess; see there?" Laine pointed to where the joists lay on the cross piece attached to the trunk. "It won't shake apart in the wind if the tree starts moving. The joists slide along there. I'm Laine by the way."

"The name's Greg." Greg was bigger than Laine, husky in a good looking sort of way. Laine figured him for an athlete. He had a t-shirt with some club name on it. Laine guessed there were muscles underneath the shirt. "So what's the next step?" Laine and Greg set into laying the next section of floor. The floor came together quickly now that there were two of them working on it. Laine was cautious about himself, but Greg was full of details. "I went to 7th Avenue last year. I'll be at Riverview." Greg threw Laine an inquisitive look.

"Me too" they smiled together at the added connection.

"We might be in the same group..."

"Learning Community"

"... right. You have one of these seniors yet?"

"I just got a letter about that. I haven't met the guy yet."

"I got bought, you know? So I have not seen the guy either. Maybe it is just as well, it sounds like a bunch of horse-shit anyway. My friend Chris got the shit kicked out of him at a party."

"I have this friend Wanda; she went to this party where the guys dressed up."

"That'll be the day they get me into a dress. So this Wanda, is she your girl friend?" Touchy question that. Laine thought it was too much to hope Greg would be gay. He did not like lying about himself, but he decided to play it safe.

"No, just a friend; I'm not attached right now. You know, next year there will be a lot of new faces."

"Exactly!" Greg seemed to leap on his answer "I had a chick last year, but I cut her loose." Laine was pleased to learn Greg only lived a few blocks away. He thought about asking Greg for his phone number, but something told him he would be rushing it. It was hard though, Laine had not had a friend his age in over a year. He puttered around on the new platform happy to let the afternoon with Greg stretch out. It was like he had thought; the move was going to be good for him.

After a while Greg said he had to leave. Laine remained in the new fort thinking about his afternoon, hoping he had made a new friend.

Sowing seeds of dissent, Sunday, later that afternoon.

Denver abruptly crossed the lane in a broad u-turn that sent everyone flying into the doors. "What the fuck Denver" Amanda pushed Mark off and back across the bench. He had crushed her with something more than the natural force exerted by Denver's sudden maneuver. Denver ignored her and kept his eye on the cherry red Mustang cruising slowly along the street beside three girls that looked like ninth graders.

Mark slid forward and leaned over Denver's shoulder. "What's the story Denver?"

"I just want to talk to a few guys."

Garret Keeler shifted beside Denver. "Let it go Denver, I'm sorry I mentioned it. That might not even be the same car anyway."

" Denver, I want to get to the river." Amanda complained from the back seat.

"Amanda is going to wet her pants here Denver. She has started to dry hump my leg and my virginity is no longer safe." Mark had to defend himself against a sudden flurry of punches. Denver caught it in the rearview mirror before he turned back to the road and the red Mustang that was now inching its way in front of them. "Fuck off Amanda" Mark wined " Gay Hoe will be out there in his little Speedo with his perky little oriental parts waiting for you."

"Harry's name is Ho Fai you flaming queen," Amanda gave Mark another punch, "your virginity is a faded memory."

"Aw yeh"

"Let's please not talk about Mark's virginity or lack thereof." Garret complained "Why don't these birds just step into a store or something? They know they are being watched."

"Maybe these guys are just baggin." Amber suggested from the back. Garret twisted around to look at her. "What? Like you guys never go after bait?" Garret and Amber had been flirting since Denver had picked him up. Garret turned back and slumped in his seat.

"No" Garret sighed "If these are the guys that came down on Wanda then they are assassins."

"They're pulling over."

"Quick! To the Bat Cave !"

"Shut up Mark. All I want to do is chase these tools off." Denver braked abruptly and then with a quick shoulder check unfolded himself from the BMW. Amber came out after him. She took in the trio of girls. Two were heavy-set girls, but the third was a slender advertisement for scant summer fashion and date-rape. The girl was either protecting her friends or making sure she was noticed by the two brothers emerging from the Mustang. It was as she had expected when she first saw the car: Nathan and Todd Turner. Nathan was a senior like Denver. Todd was simply an ass-hole. The two boys had not noticed Denver moving up beside them. Denver had his hands shoved into his back pockets so he might appear less threatening as he towered over the other boys. He caught their attention quickly. "Are you guys looking for the public library?" The Turners turned toward Denver puzzled by his presence. Amber decided to chat with the girls while Denver amused himself.

"One of you girls have a light?" Amber drew the three girls away from three older teenagers who had been joined by Mark. The young girls looked at each other and then the thin one produced a lighter from a small pink purse. Amber eyed the green lighter for a moment then added, "One of you girls have a cigarette?"

" Alice?" The thin one turned to a pretty girl behind thick glasses who immediately became flustered. The girl pushed her glasses up her nose in a nervous gesture and managed to produce a pack from her own purse. She offered the pack to Amber but the thin girl snatched it away. All cool like she drew a cigarette from the pack and after she had placed it in her mouth offered a second one to Amber.

"Thanks Alice " Amber remarked sweetly when the thin girl had lit the cigarette for her. The younger girl blushed at the attention and rushed to introduce the third girl, Helen to her. Amber offered the two side kicks a warm smile and then turned her attention back to the girl with the smoke poised casually between her fingers in a practiced pose. "I'm Amber."

"Oh no way! She's Amber too!" Alice and Helen giggled at the coincidence. The two Ambers surveyed each other. The thin girl seemed offended by Amber's trespass on her name. Amber was no rock star to admire. There was no cool way to deal with an older girl rude enough to share your name so the younger Amber simply shifted her pose and then smirked a pained smile at Amber before taking another drag on the cigarette. The coincidence was, she seemed to indicate, not worth the excitement.

"How sweet!" Amber replied pasting another smile on her face. Amber turned back to the two friends and her smile became more honest. Alice seemed preoccupied deciding whether she should join the two Ambers in a cigarette. The girl fingered the pack of menthol-lights nervously. "You girls should take off you know. I know those guys and I think you should avoid them." Thin Amber perked up at this and cocked a speculative eye in the direction of Denver, Mark and the two brothers. Oh my, thought Amber, the girl has an itch. The boy's voices could barely be heard above the noise of the passing traffic. Amber wondered why she had joined Denver on the sidewalk. Slutty-Amber had taken on a more mature look. The ninth grader reminded Amber of an alley cat. Well, I'm a bit of a slut too I guess... must run in the Ambers. She did like the boys. Daniel Murrell came to mind. Young like this girl. Too young for all this, but she remembered his hard body and the sweet smell of his skin fresh from the pool. He had been so hard and urgent, so anxious to be part of it all. Slutty-Amber tried another pose. Like Daniel she seemed determined to be taken seriously. How unfortunately similar we are, thought Amber remembering herself a scant year ago. "They just want to haze you girls for a while." Alley-Cat-Amber was clearly in heat. Focused as she was on the four males bristling on the hot pavement she was not conscious of Amber's growing desire to drive a hand down her tight shorts and thrust her tongue between her tobacco-scented lips. Amber had an urge to feel the girl's molten liquid flow and enjoy Violated-Amber's total disintegration when Amber's fingers found her virgin clit. Damn and Amanda was distracted by Ho Fai today....

"But we have to do what they say," this from the girl Helen. Amber made a quick reappraisal, not fat, just heading to a full figure. The girl seemed to know she did not need the heavy makeup tramp Amber was experimenting with.

"No honey, not everything, and this isn't school." The boy's voices had risen and the girls turned to watch. Denver still stood easily with his hands in his back pockets. Mark had moved up beside him and stood arms crossed. Denver frowned slightly at the cigarette in her hand and she smirked back at him before taking a long drag.

Amanda knew better, thought Denver. He turned his attention back to the brothers. Denver just wanted the two boys to get back in their car and drive away. Nathan Turner was trying to get in his face now and the unreasonableness of it all was getting to Denver. "Step off Turner, your making too big a deal of this. Just leave it until September. You can be the senior at school where all this shit is supposed to happen anyway."

"I told you we were just going to ask the girls to hang out with us. What is with you anyway? What business is it of yours? You're Denver Hawk right? I read what you wrote in the school paper: sadism and bullying. You're a fucking joke." There was mockery in Nathan's voice, but caution too. Denver was big, the dark boy beside him looked dangerous, and the third guy hanging out the window of the BMW looked more useful than Donald sitting quietly in the Mustang behind him. "You need to stop taking yourself so seriously Hawk. You're not the police." Nathan felt foolish arguing in front of the three girls. All he had planned to do was invite the cute one to go for a ride with Todd and Donald, hopefully get a little virgin cunt. If they had to take the two piggies with them then that was what they would have to do. Denver was making him look like a fag in front of the ninth graders. "Why are you trying to be such a bad-ass about this?"

Denver pulled a hand out of his pocket and poked Nathan in the chest with three fingers. "I am a bad-ass so what are you going to do about it?" Nathan looked like the kind of guy who would back down from a fight. Denver watched him flush and glance at the girls watching. Nathan looked back at him with fury in his eyes. Mark stirred beside Denver.

"Guys let's take this down a notch." Denver was worked up again and Mark knew this could have been handled better... or perhaps they could have driven right by. There were times Mark felt like Sancho Panza. Mi amante de Hidalgo loco, que siempre se inclina en molinos de viento, reflected Mark. "Let's all just say goodbye now, okay?" It was summer and the days were made for taking it easy. Unfortunately Denver was not in the mood to listen. Denver stood his ground certain that he could outwait the brothers.

Todd finally managed to end the standoff when he nudged his brother. "Fuck this Nathan and fuck you Hawk. Just get into the car." Mark was relieved to have some support. Denver and Nathan faced each other down for a moment longer. Finally Nathan shook his head slightly and stepped in.

"This isn't over you fucking prick. I'll remember this." Mark was afraid Denver would say something to set the boy off, but Denver seemed content to take his victory and let Nathan have the last word. They watched as the brothers took a last look at the young girls and moved to join their friend waiting in the car. Mark turned back on Denver as soon as they were gone.

"That was not very smart Denver. You should have left it alone this time. You don't know they were going to do anything." Denver watched Amber as she sent the three ninth graders on their way. It might not have made sense to Mark. Amanda and Garrett back in the car clearly thought he was crazy. It was just hard to let it go. Maybe nothing would have happened. Denver had to admit he did not really know but he was not going to admit that to Mark. "Besides honey, there's no way you are going to keep the streets of Gotham clean of all the filth."

The three girls had moved off down the street and Amanda had returned with a patient look on her face. They did not understand. Denver knew what it was like to be alone on the street and he hated the thought that Daniel might some day have to face down a group of boys. Denver knew he would probably not be there when he did.

Straight grained wood, Tuesday, July 13th

"Your friend is here." Laine's mother's voice came through the bathroom door. It startled him and his hand paused on his erection. Inevitably he had been thinking about Greg's soaked shorts plastered to his skin. Greg was hopelessly straight, maybe even a little too testosterone-charged if that was possible. They way he talked about his ex-girlfriend made Laine a little uncomfortable. Laine had a fairly romantic heart and as much as he wanted to get laid, Greg's off-handed references to feeling up the girl and getting boned turned him off for more reasons than just because it was just one more straight story he had to sound enthusiastic about. Thinking about the athletic boy's boner lurking around his house did not help and Laine finished himself in a hurry. Greg's body was a welcome change from his current fixation on the Summer Boy. Better the real friend downstairs than the elaborate fantasy; even if both were out of his reach.

* ** *

Greg had showed up on his side of the fence the next afternoon. It had not been difficult getting him to come over to help a second day. Nick was not a little boy anymore so Laine saw no need to build an elaborate play house on the deck. He had explained to Greg they were just going to bolt in a light railing around the deck and a simple frame attached to the extended pole for a removable tarp roof. The remainder of the deck, wrapped around the tree trunk, would be sheltered by the heavy canopy of the old tree. After a few hours work the boys had given up for the day and they chatted over a few drinks and a prime view of Noelle Boisson stretched out in her back yard. "Christ will you look at that." Greg had commented lowly "You have it made here Laine."

"Yeh, if I want to perve a senior all afternoon." Laine caught himself. That would not sound right so Laine had tossed in something more acceptable, "I wish she would turn over." He had hated himself as soon as he had said it.

"Yeh, or take her top off." The boys had giggled together. "Nah, maybe not; chicks can be poison." Greg had given him sad look. "They can get in the way sometimes."

"You think?"

"Yeh, I do. I lost my best friend over a girl. Well, I guess they were best friends first. He was cool though about it though. Maybe he'll get over it." Greg had gone on to give Laine an earnest look. "It just got awkward, you know? Like, it's this thing between us now. It wasn't such a big deal I thought, but it must have really mattered to him. Now we don't talk. Do you know what I'm talking about?"

"Yes I do" Laine could feel for Greg, "That's happened to me. I thought I was tight with a guy and, well we had a misunderstanding." Laine had thought about Anthony sadly.

"Yeh? What about?"

"It doesn't really matter." Laine had pointed to Greg's shirt "Is that a team you're on?" Greg was deep into baseball at the moment. Laine had quickly responded that he loved to play too, but had been mostly involved in track and field at school. Sport was another connection between them and Laine had been content to sit back against the trunk of the tree and listen to Greg spin stories about the games he had played. Some of the stories stretched back over years and Laine noticed how Greg's lost friend echoed through them all. Greg would look at Laine after he mentioned the other boy.

Their conversation had died out when two girls had joined Noelle Boisson on the lawn below their perch. Laine was disappointed by the distraction but Greg was immediately caught up in their charms. Laine saw it abstractly; the cleavage and well proportioned curves, the oddly heavy heart-shaped bottoms. The one girl looked heavy, but Laine was not sure where it crossed the line. When was it too much for a guy? As usual, he took his lead from Greg. The newcomers were not aware of the boys' presence. They chattered unselfconsciously about clothing, jobs and their other friends. The conversation did not entertain the two boys. It had been Greg's suggestion that some water balloons might be handy.

The girls had obliged them and remained idly sprawled in the Boisson back yard while Laine and Greg collected the balloons. After the first barrage had broken on Noelle's back it was a no holds barred battle. At first it had looked like the boy's had the advantage of the high ground, and only the girl's frustrated insults of "little faggots" managed to reach them, but the boy's supply of missiles was soon exhausted. Noelle and the heavier-set girl brought in a garden hose and Greg and Laine giggled together behind the shelter of the tree's massive trunk while they whispered plans for a new line of attack. The girl's counter attack was useless. The girl's hose offered only a light sprinkle by the time the column of water had risen three or four meters to the fort. Laine calculated they had enough hose on his side of the fence to do better. The three girls cursed them as they brought the hose up. When the first jet of water forced the girls back from the fence the boys thought they had won. A quiet fell over the water-soaked battleground while the girls had a whispered conference and then retreated around the side the house.

Greg and Laine had relished their victory sprawled on the deck of the tree fort. They had both been soaked while snaking the hose up from the lawn below and their clothes were plastered against their bodies. Greg had sported a partial erection in the excitement and Laine had hoped his own swell would be interpreted the same way. Lying there beside Greg in the dappled sunlight Laine had felt free.

They had underestimated the girls. A stinging jet of cold water played across the air above them and when they looked over the edge cautiously they were met by the accurate blast of the Boisson power washer. They retreated quickly for shelter of the trunk pressed tightly against each other. They giggled shoulder to shoulder as the girls called sweetly to them. The relative protection was lost soon after when the girls brought out a ladder. There was nowhere to hide from the stinging jet which the girls maliciously aimed at their groins or butts. They tried to surrender, but the girls would have none of it. They finally made a desperate retreat down the rope ladder under constant attack one hand clutching their sagging shorts around their waists. They made a last effort at braggadocio before scurrying through Laine's back door. Though the three seniors held the day, it could not have been sweeter for Laine.

* ** *

When Laine had dried off and slipped his shorts on he found Greg and another boy lounging on Nick's bed in their room. "Laine, this is my friend Chris." Chris had about the same build as Greg but lacked a few centimeters height. He looked back at Laine frankly. Laine pushed his wet hair back nervously and sat on his own bed. "I thought we could all check out the arcade or something. What do you think?"

"Sound good to me."

"Its about lunch time, we could eat somewhere." That could be too rich for Laine. He thought about it for a moment.

"Sure; I'm broke. Let me hit up my dad for some money. Just hold on a sec." Laine ducked out.

Greg and Chris surveyed the small room. Books, Lego, Harry Potter poster above one bed and above the other a huge poster of a crowd of runners stretching off into the distance between columns of trees; "What the fuck is that?" Chris pointed with a Lego space ship he had picked up from the shelf beside him.

"It's a running poster I guess. He likes to run." Another poster showed a runner cutting the tape. Chris toyed with the space ship until it broke and then dropped the pieces back on the shelf.

"You know who he reminds me of?"

"Yeh I know." Greg moved over to Laine's bed and picked up a book. Laine liked to read. It was a library book, The Outsiders. "He's cool. You'll like him Chris."

"Maybe they have the same deadbeat father. Think of that?"

"No I met Laine's dad. Besides, Daniel's dad is some sort of accountant, works downtown somewhere." Most of Daniel's friends knew his parents had never married.

"No shit?"

Greg was sorry he had mentioned it. "Just forget about it. Laine's cool. He's not going to grab your pecker either." Greg had had a hard time believing that when he heard it. That was just not like Daniel.

"Fuck off about that. It was just a bunch of shit man. You have no friggin clue what it was like. You haven't even met your senior yet so shut up. I've still got bruises man. You want to see?"

"No man I don't want to see. Ease up a little."

"You wait till you see Nolan. Ask Arlo what its like. Besides I'm the one that got touched." Greg snorted; Arlo was a pussy he had put up with for Daniel's sake. Chris was a bit of a pussy too. Easy to pick on that loud-mouthed shrimp Simon Marks, but he'd only talk down Daniel behind his back. Greg eyed the flush on Chris' face. Chris was no faggot, but you had to ask yourself why he had been boned up in front of Daniel at that warehouse party. Jesus Christ Daniel, what the fuck were you doing boy? It was a sad day when Greg would be asked to believe that kind shit about his best friend. Laine did look a lot like Daniel, but that was about it. Greg did not think the two boys would have much else in common. Daniel was a bit of a spoiled rich boy with his apartment and computer. Laine was so hands on practical with the carpentry stuff. Greg admired that. Besides, Daniel picked a girl over his best friend. They let the silence drag out while Greg flipped through the book and Chris demolished a second Lego ship. Laine broke the silence between them with his smiling return.

The three boys goofed around all the way to the mall. Laine's dad had been generous; still, he did not want to waste money on arcade games. Laine played a few games with them, but mostly watched the other two compete against each other. He had to laugh at the way they tore into each other. The two friends settled beside each other to play F-Zero AX while Laine stood behind Greg and snickered at their insults. They included him in by enticing him to take one side or the other. They were evenly matched so nobody's feelings seemed to get hurt. Laine felt really good. The only sour note was a moment when Chris pushed a pair of boys about Nick's age away from a game he wanted to play. The boys stood a moment glowering at the older boys including Laine in their wrath before conceding defeat and moving on. Laine pretended to ignore the finger one of the boys flipped at them.

After an hour they moved over to the food court and slumped into chairs. Malls were chick magnets so Chris and Greg ran scores on the teenage girls and some of the younger women. Laine did not mind the game. He played it by himself all the time with a radically different group of contestants. Just to stay in the game he tossed out a few suggestions every once and a while. The two boys laughed at his ratings, but it did not seem to matter because they were rarely on the same page either. After a while Laine figured he could pick out which ones Chris liked. "Say man, I just got it, you like the sluts" he taunted.

"Ya think?" Chris laughed loudly.

"Gee Chris; do you want to explain that to me?" Greg grinned at his friend. Chris shrugged it off happily. "Now how do you figure that Laine?"

Laine smiled back happily. "Well I thought he just liked big tits, but then I noticed he just picks any girl in a tight pair of pants with a lot of skin showing. Like that one over there." Laine pointed at a chubby girl sporting ghetto-booty and a small halter-top with an excessive amount of pink skin pushing over the top.

"She's a ten for sure, oink." Chris scrunched up his face and vigorously pumped his middle finger through the looped finger and thumb of his other hand. Greg shoved his friend a little. Laine looked on in shock as Chris switched to an obscenely graphic pantomime of a massive orgasm complete with lolling head and thrusting pelvis that almost sent him out of his chair.

"Oh my God" Laine murmured to himself as he watched in fascination.

"We are talking looks here Chris, not your chances of tipping her on her back." Chris shoved Greg back and Laine could not help laughing at them. Greg turned back to Laine and pointed a finger at him. "Okay, so what is my type if you are so smart? Or better yet Tarzan of the tree fort, what's your type?" That put Laine on the spot and he had to pause for a moment while he thought. A tangle of blond hair, dark eyebrows, straight nose and deep eyes devouring me, flat pecs with small nipples framed by well-muscled arms with a light dusting of blond hair and large hands to hold me up on my feet, narrow waist and flat abs, long legs and tight ass walking away... a smile please, just for me ... Laine could go on, but he was the only one listening, the only one who could see it so clearly. His face was flushed as he shook the image free. He could pick the obvious and go for a girl with large breasts.

"Let me find one" he scanned the area procrastinating. Finally two girls caught his eye. The older one was really heavy but he liked her face. She was with a slender blond about his age who would have to be a ten on anyone's scale. "Okay Greg, you always seem to go for the older women."

"Yeh, Greg is looking for experience." Chris contributed.

"See that one over there?" Laine pointed at the girl standing in line waiting for Chinese, "she's my type." Nothing gay about that answer Laine reassured himself guiltily.

"Oh my God!" Chris screamed hysterically and fell off his chair onto the floor beside them. Laine's hand drooped as he puzzled out his mistake. He had thought it such a safe choice. "I was so right about him!" Laine blushed furiously.

"Shut up Chris!" Greg glowered at his friend. Chris was still flopping around on the floor. He had started kicking at the table.

"Oh Greg that is too funny, he picked your fucking Ex!" Chris curled into a ball for a moment. Laine looked between them. "Oh Laine that was precious" Chris crawled back to his seat and Greg studied the scattering of fries on the table in front of him. "Go for it Laine, I dare you. Hey Mandy!" Laine was startled by his shout and swung around to see if the girl had noticed the sudden commotion.

"Fuck off Chris; you're such a cock sucker." Greg muttered. The girl looked across the food court and took in the three of them sitting together. Her face lost some of its beauty and she turned away to say something to the older girl and then a tall rangy boy standing near put a hand on her shoulder protectively. Greg gave Laine a slight nudge to get his attention. "Let's get out of here." Laine nodded. He felt bad for Greg.

"Sorry about that. I didn't know."

Greg nodded and walked on for a few steps and then wrapped a big arm around Laine's neck pulling him into a head lock playfully. "You're right though, she's a ten." He let Laine go and grinned at him. Laine shoved him back with a smile glad that his friend was not upset, "and you're right, I'm looking for someone older." Chris sniggered on the other side of Greg and Greg turned to give him a friendly punch on the arm. "Lay off you fool."

They were cool, Laine thought to himself. Chris was a just a bit crude; someone you had to put up with a little. Greg though, Laine liked Greg. Laine shoved his hands deep into his pockets and walked backward for a few steps listening to the two friends harassing each other again. Laine knew he had been too down on himself over the last year. Tony, Fez and Troy were not the only people in the world. Greg smiled at him and then opened his mouth with a warning at just the moment when Laine was stopped by something solid. He pulled his hands out and swung around to see who he had hit.

Laine smiled at the older girl, "Sorry there." The tall girl glanced at a friend and eyed him with distain before pushing past him. Laine turned back to Greg and Chris with a shrug. "What's with her?" Greg shrugged back but Chris silently watched the two girls move away. Greg bumped shoulders with Laine and they fell into step. Chris followed them toward the doors.

"You guys better wise up a little." They paused at the door and looked back. Chris could see the confusion in their eyes. "Yeh right, you two have not met your seniors yet, remember? You think this is going to be fun?"

"If that chick was in grade twelve I'm sure I can handle anything she can come up with. She probably doesn't even go to Riverview. I know you got a dick for a senior Chris but get real." Greg tried to humor Chris. Laine was impressed with the Greg's friend's sudden seriousness.

"What are you worried about Chris?" he asked. Chris looked at Laine with distrust. He had just met the boy and did not share Greg's enthusiasm for the boy with an odd resemblance to Daniel Murrell.

"These guys think they own us and as far as I can tell nobody plans to tell them any different." Chris hunched into himself a little. "You should see Arlo Greg; he's like pissing his pants his senior is going to call him again."

"Those were just a couple of chicks man." Greg could not see it.

"Chicks have boyfriends." Chris shrugged, "Look, just forget it. I'm going to take off Greg. I'll see you around." He started off without them.

"Should we go after him or something? He looks upset." Laine was confused by how quickly things had turned around. "Do you want to talk to him? I could head home by myself." Laine wondered if he was the problem in some way. This friendship thing seemed pretty fragile to him at that moment. He needed to be careful and not challenge Greg's old friendships.

"No, I think I know what's bothering him." He caught Laine's uncertainty and slapped him on the shoulder, "Not to worry. Let's get out of here before we get jumped by some chicks and get raped or something."

"You wish" Laine had to laugh at that.

The Necessary Specifications, Thursday, July 15th

"Do you worry about it much?"

"What, high school?"

"Yeh, like Chris was saying the other day."

"Well we are in ninth grade, that's going to be pretty much the bottom of the shit-pile." Laine glanced around as if his mother might be there to hear Greg's rough language. "That's what you might expect though isn't it?"


"We're new; they are bigger, well bigger than you anyway." That earned Greg a small shove from Laine. "It's like the way we treated grade fours or fives."

"How do you mean?" Except for Nick's tight circle of friends Laine had mostly ignored the fact there were fours and fives at school.

"You know, they step out of line and need to be reminded they are not grade eights." Laine did not see that so he kept silent. "Did they make you line up on the playground before coming in to the school?"

"Well, yes, only we ignored it this year."

"Exactly! `Cause you were the seniors, right?"

"I suppose so."

"Grade eights' are kings. In assembly we always sat against the back wall. In the lunch room nobody took our table."

"I guess I see what you mean." Laine began to wonder if he had missed out on all of this in grade eight. Anthony, Fez and Troy had shut him out and there had been no special table for him to sit at until Wanda and a few of the girls took pity on him.

"So we are just back to square one now for the next year." Greg shrugged at the inevitability of it all. "Chris is okay and all but he shoots his mouth off a bit too much. You know what I mean?" He glanced at Laine, but Laine had promised himself he would keep his opinions private. Greg turned away and continued, "You do that, someone is going to have to tune you in. It's like when you fight with your brother... what's his name?"


"Right, so you share a room like I had to. I'll bet you have to lay into him every once in a while to remind him whose boss. My brother used to slug my arm all the time."


"I guess when he thought I was lipping him off. You know what I mean."

"Yeh, Nick has a mouth on him." Nick and Laine could bring the whole house down around them when they got going at each other; usually over the stupidest things too. Laine could not remember a time when he had hit Nick though. He could not remember a time when anyone in the Bryan house had hit a family member.

"So you and me, we're going to be smarter at Riverview."

"How so?" Laine glanced at Greg.

"We don't complain like we are pussies. We earn respect. Daniel and I agreed you just tough out the bullshit until they accept you. Besides I'm going to play basketball."

"How is that going to help?"

"My brother said so. You're on a team and they leave you alone. That's your gang see? You run right?"


"Are you any good?" Greg shot Laine an apologetic look like he had not meant to insult him.

"I was fifth place in hurdles. Took fourth in the 500." Greg shrugged his shoulders as if to say it was not so bad. "I placed in the top one hundred in the city marathon"

"One hundredth?" Greg looked dismayed.

"Ninety-sixth." Laine shook his head, ignored Greg's skeptical look and said nothing. Greg had no idea what the competition was like city-wide. There had been over six hundred runners that spring.

"Well, if you get on a team you have it made." Laine was not sure he had Greg's confidence. He certainly did not have Greg's size. "Anyway, don't sweat it. I have a feeling we will be fine." They continued their walk. "That was pretty good, hmm?"

"Yep, freaking wild." The movie they had just watched had been a blood-bath from the first scene up until the last shredded body part. They had sat at the back of the theatre whispering comments back and forth. The day had decided to rain so the parks and pools were empty. Even though the summer action, such as it was, was in the mall, there had not been much call to whisper. It was an afternoon matinee and the theatre had been practically empty. The movie was done and it was pushing supper time. They might have headed for home, but instead the boys were aimlessly wandering the mall.

"So Bryan, you finally found a boyfriend?"

Laine smile dropped. He had willed-away any thoughts that he might bump into a classmate at the mall. He stopped short at the sight of Fez and Tony. Greg had taken a few steps further before Anthony's words had registered. "It looks like the two of you are already pretty tight." Laine was at a loss for words. He felt the anger well up. It just was not fair. Not even a week. All he had needed was some time for Greg to get to know him before school started, and then maybe he could have told Greg the truth. Greg swung around once to look at Laine and then turned back on Anthony and Abdulla with an angry frown. The powerful boy bristled at them.

"What the fuck are you two fairies talking about?" Laine winced at the words.

"Like you don't know? Ask the homo." Greg took a step toward them and then seemed to hesitate. He turned back on Laine in confusion. Laine drew a deep breath and looked Greg in the eye.

"I'm gay."

"You're a fag?" A stillness overtook Laine and the flutter that had threatened to leave him ill at the moment he had heard Anthony's voice passed out of him. The sounds of the mall faded and the blood hummed like the soft beat of dragonfly wings. Laine stared Greg down weighing his worth in a single measured gaze. In this at least Laine had already decided his own worth. A flicker of the Summer Boy's approving smile lent Laine strength. His eyes flashed at Greg. Greg and the world would have to meet him on his own terms

"I'm gay. That's right, I like boys."

Greg ignored Tony and Fez. He abruptly closed the distance back to Laine. There was a hard look on his friend's face. If he plans on hitting me he's going to find this is one gay boy who hits back Laine thought as he braced himself. But Greg simply stopped and considered Laine's face with a slight look of shock. Laine wanted to explain. He wanted Greg to know that he just wanted a friend. He would have reassured Greg that he had never planned on hitting on him. Greg never gave him a chance. Greg turned away from Laine and walked purposefully away. Laine watched him for a long while and then turned back to Anthony and Abdulla only to find they too had left him. Laine shoved his fists deep into his pockets and let the lazy summer mall traffic drift around him.