W H E N   S H A D O W S   P A S S
Sean E. – EkidKy  (EKidKy@Hotmail.com

M Y    P E R S O N A L    D I S C L A I M E R 
This fictional series contains frank discussions, imagery and scenes between young male teens with subject material that is not appropriate for all people.  Although that statement implies young adults of a certain age should refrain or be discouraged from reading, it is my honest belief that the decision should lie with the individual (I know what it was like when I was as young as 13 to 14 years old).  This story is intended to be read by all ages, both young and old at heart, who want to find encouragement, understanding and acceptance – especially in this big, busy world where we live.  I know society frowns upon what it considers to be the taboos of young people and sex, but I think there is a place – deep inside all of us, throughout life – where we need to feel accepted and wanted.

For guys who feel confused but need to believe in themselves, that is why I write my stories. It is my hope that they can give a teen courage and hope; if it helps even just one individual in some way to know that they are not alone, then it’s worth every effort I make.  There is a stigma in our society where young male emotions should always be suppressed: “Grow up!”, “Suck it up, be a man!” and other phrases I’ve heard all my life.  Most people seem to think anything to do with boys having feelings and companionship amongst one another should be dammed or something.  Well, it wasn’t for me; I was a teen who hid a lot from the world, but also had a lot to give on the inside, and I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized it is a reality more common than you think.  I know because I’ve been there – and surprisingly, at the time of this writing, it was NOT that long ago. 

If you find such material objectionable, then obviously you're in the wrong place - and you should move on to other sources for your reading pleasure.  Also be warned: if you want the “quickie” – sorry, that isn’t me or my style.

As with most authors, any feedback is encouraged and appreciated: EKidKy@hotmail.com


W H E N   S H A D O W S   P A S S
Chapter Seven: The Quiet Before The Storm

    “So, how did things go today?”

    Not getting an immediate response, Natalie looked up from her magazine and looked at the youth who had just come through the door.  Instantly she knew something was amiss.  “What is it Jason?  Is something wrong?”

    Unsure of himself, Jason regarded the petite woman.  “Umm, I don’t think so, but I couldn’t find Elliot after school.  At least, I couldn’t find him down at the gym where we usually meet.” Glancing around, he inquired, “He hasn’t already come back, has he?”

    Natalie paused, frowning.  “No, I’ve been here most of the afternoon and I haven’t seen either him or his brother.  Come to think of it, I believe Derek had team practice after school today, so Elliot might have gone with him.”  She frowned even deeper.  “Of course, that would not really make sense either, at least not without letting you or anyone else know about it.”

    While Jason stood there in the awkward silence, she marked her page and closed her magazine before rising to her feet.  “Let’s see if he has his mobile on him.  Which reminds me, I think we really should be looking into getting one for you too, just to keep for times like these when you need to get hold of somebody,” she added as she picked up a nearby cordless and dialed Elliot’s number.  After a few seconds, they both could hear the ringing on the other end, but after several rings went unanswered Natalie hung up and dialed again.  Again they heard the connection and the unanswered rings, but just as she was about to hang up the other end picked up.  Jason could not make out any words, but a muffled voice could be heard on, and he thought from the tone it sounded like the younger sibling. 

    “Elliot?” Natalie inquired hesitantly.  Her demeanor changed to one of relief however, and then silent as she stood listening to the voice on the other end.  Finally nodding, she spoke softly, “Okay sweetheart, as long as you’re safe, we’ll see you when you get home then.”  Hanging up, she turned toward Jason with a puzzled look.  “He’s alright, but it seems he’s serving detention for some reason, and probably won’t be home for another hour or so.”  She hesitated, wrinkling her nose. “That’s unlike him though, to not call and let us know I mean.”  She closely scrutinized the young teen in front of her.  “Do you have any idea what it’s all about?”

    Jason was unsure exactly what to say, knowing how the morning had started off for them both.  “Umm, well, we both had something happen this morning in English, not really bad, but honest – I’d rather Elliot tell you, because I don’t really know all the details anyway.” 

    They stood there for several seconds in silence, Natalie regarding the young man and considering whether or not to push for any more information.  As the silence lingered, Jason finally grimaced and set his backpack on the floor.  “Ummm, can I like, uh – you know...”  He pointed toward the back door, and Natalie finally smiled, understanding.

    “Sure kiddo, it’s alright.”  With that she waved him through and he disappeared down the hallway, feeling her eyes upon him the whole way until he was out of sight.

    - + - + - + -

    Elliot walked briskly from school toward home, trying to calm down.  The evening air was borderline cold, and as he moved he could see each breath he exhaled steam away in the breeze.  The weather was now drastically changed compared to less than a week before, and the overcast skies did nothing to improve his mood at the moment.  He was irritated at the events of the day and how it had all turned out.  He had been in detention before, but rarely did he ever have to stay after hours, and that fact annoyed him almost as bad as his English teacher’s attitude that morning.

    He picked up his pace and pushed onward, oblivious to everything around him.  He just wanted to get home and out of the cold, noting to himself he would have to find a heavier coat to wear from now on.   So preoccupied was he in his thoughts that at first he didn’t hear the sound of an older boy calling to him and trying to catch up from behind.  It wasn’t until he turned a corner that he looked back in time, to see Derek practically upon him.  “Will you wait up?  Sheesh!” the older boy exclaimed as he finally jogged up beside his brother.  “Crap, what’s got your panties all in a wad?  You look like you’re on some bloody warpath or something!”

    Elliot looked closely at his brother with narrowed eyes before forcing himself to calm down and look away.  “Nothing,” he offered rather haughtily.  He immediately regretted it however, but before he could make amends his brother crossed his arms.

    “Uh uh, not buying it butt-head,” he replied in a matter-of-fact tone.  Looking around, he noticed his younger sibling was alone.  “So, where’s our new addition at?”

    “At home, I hope,” Elliot replied before looking back up at his brother and deeply sighing.  “I just got out of detention, okay?  Crap-Ass-Apple shoved her tit-fucked nose at everyone this morning, including Jason.”

    Derek frowned.  “Whoa!  You took on Crap-Apple?  Blimey, what the heck did you do?”

    “I- I didn’t do anything, really, she just… she…”  He fell silent, and Derek could see the frustration his brother was feeling.  Looking around, he saw a stone bench nearby and guided his brother over to it.  They sat down in a narrow courtyard outside of what appeared to be an abandoned flat, which shielded them from the chilling breeze that was blowing.  Straddling the bench, Derek settled in next to his sibling.  “Okay, what’s this all about?  What happened?”

    Elliot sat for a full minute before he finally responded.  “This morning she started giving Jason a hard time, and I stood up for him and got the axe for it.  I mean, it was stupid stuff, you know?  He got the lowest grade on that report we were all working on so much last week, and she had to gloat about it in front of the whole class.”

    “You stood up for … him?” Derek asked with curiosity, causing Elliot to look up at him briefly.

    “No, it’s not like that… She was on his case and I was like, ‘What the hell, how is that fair?’ and shit like that, and she called me out on it.  All because of that fucking Shakespeare book…”

    Derek wrinkled his nose. “Wait a minute, that book?  You guys have reading that for weeks, haven’t you?  Didn’t Jason start that like, halfway through or something?”


    Derek was puzzled.  “I don’t get it then.”

    Elliot sighed.  “She was practically mutilating him, you know, giving him shit for not doing as well as the rest of the class and everything, right in front of everybody to start with.  He was like, stunned and everything and she made some kind of stupid comment and, well – you know me, I have trouble keeping my mouth shut sometimes.”

    Derek grunted in agreement.  “I think I get it now.”

     “So I spoke up,” Elliot continued, “and she starts on me about grandstanding on her fucking holy ground!  I mean, she asks me something and I’m answering her damn question and see, but she calls it grandstanding, so next thing I know she sticks my arse in detention for the rest of the whole flippin fucking day!”

    “Whoa little bro, calm down, okay?  I mean,” Derek paused and smiled.  He was not used to hearing his younger sibling swear as heatedly as this.  It was good to let Elliot vent his frustrations and let it out, but he need to get himself in check.  “Just take it easy; at least, don’t let Mum and Dad hear you swearing like that, or you’ll get double-dosed when you get home!”  He leaned in closer.  “I’m sorry though, but I know you – even that doesn’t sound like something worth getting THAT worked up about.  So you got detention, big deal!  That’s not anything new in our book.”  Indeed, he thought back at the few times they both had paid a visit to the monitoring room before.

    Elliot turned to him, clearly trying to control his emotions.  “You think not? Well, what about being singled out as gay in front of the whole class?  Fucking battle-axe tried to insinuate we were queers or something afterwards!”

    “No shit?  Are you serious?” Derek asked, shocked.

    “Yeah,” Elliot nodded.  “Kira Grossman was in detention this afternoon and told me that after I left, Crap-Head tried to let on like we must be gay or something, hanging out all the time.  She even called me a girl or some kind of shit like that.”  He suddenly relaxed though and a smile crossed his face.  “Jason got her back good, though.”

    Derek had to hold his sides from laughter when Elliot explained what he had heard.  “Bullocks, he didn’t – he did? Oh shit, that was perfect!”  The laughter was so infectious, even Elliot had to grin.  The tension suddenly seemed to seep out of him, and Derek noticed the youth was beginning to relax.  “Damn bro, I guess you’ve had a pretty full day it seems.”

    Elliot sighed deeply.  “Yeah, I guess.  Sorry Derek, I didn’t mean to take it out on you.  I just, I really wish I could go over to wherever she’s at and give her a gigantic kick between the legs, you know?  Probably wouldn’t do much good, but…”

    Derek shook his head, grinning.  “Well, if she had balls maybe, but I don’t think that’s where you’d really want to kick her anyway.”  He made a face.  “That is one image I could do without, honestly.”

    Elliot had to laugh, agreeing.  “Yeah, I know.”  After another moment, he sighed again and stood up.  “It’s getting cold, come on.  I’m okay now, thanks to you.”

    Derek nodded.  “Yeah, I’m sure you’re going to have to explain this to Mum and Dad.  Just um, try and do us all a favor and not lose your head.  You know, keep your cool.  You start swearing and they’ll likely ground us for next month!”  Elliot nodded knowingly as they made their way back onto the street and headed north.

    - + - + - + -

    They had just entered through the front door and pulled off their jackets when Natalie came through from the hallway.  “Ah, you’re home finally!  What a ghastly afternoon this has turned into.  Is it getting colder out there?”

    Derek nodded as he kicked his shoes off.  “Oh yeah, definitely!”  Trying to sound cheerful, he took a tentative sniff of the air.  “What’s that? Smells like pizza…”  At that moment Simon appeared behind her carrying 2 large flat boxes.

    “Hallo boys, just in time!  Come grab a seat before these get cold!” he encouraged, while Natalie turned back to the entrance of the hallway and called for Jason to come down and join them.  Gathering around the table, the Flavell brothers each admired the orange soda Natalie poured for all five of them.

    “What’s the occasion?” Derek asked.  The sound of distant thumping on the stairs announced that Jason was on his way.  “Someone’s birthday we forget? Somebody got a promotion? Oh, no, wait – let me guess – Mum won the lottery!”

    They all laughed before Simon looked his son in the eye.  “Do we have to have a reason to enjoy a good pizza every once in a while?”

    Elliot looked up at his Dad as Jason entered and took the seat next to him.  “On a Monday night? Yeah…well, maybe…”

    Natalie giggled.  “Shush, just enjoy it.”  She cheerily withdrew a slice into her plate and passed the first box on around the table.  The slices were large and exceedingly long, causing Jason to get up and retrieve a form nearby.  After testing the dough, he finally cut off a piece and sampled it.  Immediately he noted a distinct difference in its taste from their past efforts, and a look of immediate pleasure crossed his features.

    “What do you think, hmm? Better than American standards?” Simon asked, smiling at him.

    Jason grinned.  “This is great!  It’s not like other pizza’s we’ve had, it’s more – I don’t know, it has more of a smoke flavor or something, I think.”

    “It’s a little different, not your typical fare,” Natalie replied.  “There is a place near where Simon works where they use a wood grill bake them.  He brings one in and surprises us on occasion.”

    “I think they are better than most,” Simon declared.  “A little fattening, but we can do with a few guilty sins every once in a while.”  Natalie gave him a reproachful eye, but ended up nodding in agreement.

    They all ate in silence for a moment before Natalie turned to her youngest son.  “So, when do we get to hear about your adventures today?  Must have been pretty exciting stuff to land you in detention.” 

    Her delivery was pleasant enough, but Elliot could tell there was a subtle edge in her voice.  Meeting her eyes across the table, he suddenly felt himself blushing in embarrassment.  Reaching out, he took a sip of his soda first before he replied.  “Sorry about not calling Mum, but Mr. Reister was the monitor this afternoon, and he has this stupid quirk about students using mobiles or anything, even if just to call home and like, you know, tell you guys we’re gonna be late.”

    “Ah,” Natalie’s replied in an understanding voice.  “He is a bit prickly as I recall.”  Elliot’s eyebrows shot up at that, and his mother noticed before grunting at him.  “What? Never heard that word before?”

    “Not from you, Mum,” he replied good naturedly, shaking his head.  This caused his father to laugh out loud.

    “Just because we don’t make it a habit to use, ah, colorful language doesn’t mean we’re ignorant of it.  And you two-“ At first he was staring at the two brothers, but then hesitated when he realized there was now a third member of their family.  “Excuse me, you three would do good to remember that.  A wise person once said colorful language does not make a man, but often shows his ignorance in hindsight.”

    Derek screwed up his face.  “Huh? Where did THAT come from?”

    “Yeah, you suddenly getting philosophical on us Dad?” Elliot added, to which his father just grinned while helping himself to another slice of pizza.

    Simon’s face turned into an obvious look of mock hurt and disbelief.  “What is this?  You think your old man can’t act like an educated tortoise on occasion?”  They all laughed, with Simon joining them.  “Um, to tell you the truth actually no, it’s something your wise old philosophical man just came up with.”  That brought another round of giggles from everyone, but afterwards the man turned serious.  “Still, you boys should learn to heed it.  I know cursing and swearing is rampant all over the world, and heaven knows only what you hear in that school of yours.  But remember, it does not befit a person to show their ignorance in the face of others.”

    They fell silent in consideration, until Natalie cleared her throat.  “Right you are, dear. Well Elliot? You still haven’t told us what trouble steered you astray today, you know.”

    The youth grimaced and fidgeted for a few seconds in his chair.  “Nothing Mum, not really anyways.  Crap-Apple was being a pain with somebody this morning, and I just made a comment that she wasn’t being fair about it, and I don’t know, she must have been on PMS or something, next thing I know she’s sending me to detention.”

    “If I remember right, her name is Crabtree,” Natalie admonished after a slight delay.  Both she and Simon glanced at one another, before silence feel over the group.  Both adults knew there had to be something more, but the general rule of thumb was to gauge how much they trusted their children to handle their own problems.  Neither of the Flavell boys were strangers to breaking rules on occasion, subjecting themselves or their friends to the general gags and horseplay which, at times, resulted in detention –at least when they were caught.  ‘Heaven only knows how many times they didn’t get caught,’ Natalie thought to herself.

    “Sorry Mum, yeah, Mrs. Crabtree,” was Elliot’s weak reply.

    She studied her son for a moment, thinking back to some of those past incidents.  It seemed, for the most part, the boys had always been fairly open in discussing most of their pranks or problems when they came up.  It was obvious here however, that none of the three really wanted to pursue this conversation.  She had little doubt the older sibling or their new charge had some knowledge of what went on, but the fact they avoided her eyes and held their silence said something else too.  Maybe it was time to let them deal with it, if there was indeed something to be dealt with.  Surely, she reasoned, Derek would speak up if it was anything too serious or consequential.  With those thoughts, she relented, nodding slightly to her companion and indicating she was willing to let it alone.  His returning smile acknowledged that he agreed before she grunted and finally spoke again.

    “Well okay, but you have to admit it’s a little unusual.  Of course, I doubt your PMS diagnosis bears much weight, but at her age who knows, right?  I rather think it wouldn’t matter.”

    Simon sputtered and gasped, heartily laughing as everyone else to join in.  “My word!” he exclaimed as all three boys grinned.  Although surprised, it was nothing in comparison to how the boys felt at that moment that the issue was being dropped.

    - + - + - + -

    “Thanks man, I owe you one – both of you.”

    All three of the boys were sitting on Derek’s bed, having finally excused themselves from the table.  Although the conversation had turned to more pleasant things afterwards, there was a restlessness each experienced, and they could hardly wait for the chance to spend some time together on their own.  Upon arriving upstairs, Derek had beckoned them inside his room and closed the door.  Turning the lamp on beside the bed, he plopped himself down with his back against the wall and waited for the other two to join him. 

    “No sweat,” Jason replied, sitting Indian-style on the nearest corner.  “It’s not like we lied or anything, right?”

    “No, but Dad and Mum knew something was up, you could tell by looking at them,” Derek interjected, to which Elliot nodded.

    “I know, but this – this is my problem, I don’t want them getting mixed up in it if I can help it.”

    “Wrong,” Jason intoned.  “It’s our problem, not just yours – but it’s over for now.”  He sighed.  “I just wish you hadn’t spent the day like that…”

    Elliot grunted.  “One day is bad enough; I’ll have to tell you how the next two go when they’re over.”  Seeing the look of surprise on the face of the other two, he lowered his voice and explained.  “Crap-ass came to see me after first period, and we got into it again.  Before I knew it, the witch wrote me up for two more days.”

    “Blimey, no shit?” Derek exclaimed with surprise and shock.  “What the hell – wow bro, no wonder you were so worked up coming home!”  Jason sat speechless as he gazed first at the younger brother and then his sibling, who finally shook his head.  “So, how did you get into it with her again?”

    Elliot shrugged his shoulders.  “I don’t even know anymore, I mean, does it really matter?  I was still mad from being booted out of class, but you know, not so bad until she suddenly came in and asked me whether I learned anything from my lesson.  I – I just, you know, I couldn’t let it go; I said something back like did she learn to not ask stupid questions she didn’t want to get answered, or something like that…”

    Thinking back to that morning, Jason suddenly found his voice and giggled before catching himself.  Embarrassed, he finally spoke up.  “Yeah, you should have seen her face this morning, Derek – she was as red as a ripe tomato…”

    Derek nodded.  “I’ve seen her get worked up before, yeah.”  He paused, scrutinizing his younger brother closely.  “Okay, I don’t blame you wanting to keep that from Mum, but if she finds out…”

    Elliot shook his head.  “I know, but don’t; I think I can handle it for now.  Jason and I have almost the same schedule, so if he can bring me my homework and stuff then I can work and keep up by myself.  We don’t have any tests or anything coming up this week that I know of, right?”  The last was directed at the American, who nodded.  “Then it’s settled, okay?  I’ll be fine.  I just hope…”

    “Hope what?” Jason asked.

    The two brothers exchanged glances before Elliot turned back and shrugged his shoulders.  “I just hope her big mouth doesn’t like, make problems or anything for you.  You know, trying to say we were gay or something.”

    Jason wrinkled his nose.  “What? Why? And why are you worried about just me, what about you?  You’re the one she called a girl and everything!”  He shook his head.  “It’s stupid, and really, I don’t care what anyone thinks, if they’re fucking crazy enough to spread that kind of crap because she was … you know, being a bitch about it.”

    Derek grinned at him.  “Stay with us man, we’ll have you swearing like a dock worker!”  Grunting, he pulled a pillow up and propped it behind him.  “Personally, I wouldn’t worry about that part any, most peeps won’t give her the time of day.”

    “That’s what you guys keep telling me, but I don’t know.  Back home…“  Jason hesitated, then corrected himself.  “Sorry, back in the States, something like that, all it takes is one guy who just wants to make trouble and then it, like, falls like a stack of dominos.  No matter where it comes from, or how it gets started, it’s enough to spread rumors all over the place, and it can get ugly.  Really ugly.”

    Elliot was about to reply but Derek interrupted.  “This isn’t the States though. Things can happen here and get out of hand, but we’re a lot more tolerant about sex stuff than you dweebs are.”  He saw Jason smile at that.  “What?”

    “You guys and your labels.”  He laughed.  “Elliot was calling me a prude the other day.”

    Derek snorted.  “Well, a lot of Americans ARE prudes, I think.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they’re afraid to look at their own arse in the mirror.”  Glancing at the clock beside the bed, he suddenly began to get up.  “Which reminds me, I better get a shower, I want to watch the new Top Gear episode later tonight!”  The younger teens watched in silence as Derek peeled his polo up and over his head while rummaging in a nearby drawer for clothes.  After an exhaustive search however, he stepped back and frowned.  “Mum must have not done laundry today, or else she’s still got it downstairs.”  Shrugging, he simply crossed the floor to his door and left the room without another word.

    Elliot watched as Jason admired Derek with curiosity.  “Damn Jase, what have I done to you?” he whispered with a grin.

    Jason at first was confused, but rapidly realized what he had been caught doing.  As his face reddened, he finally laughed and grabbed the pillow.  Throwing it at Elliot, he replied quietly, “Sheesh man, are you always so dirty-minded?”

    “Only with you,” Elliot responded with another whisper as he launched himself at the American.  What followed was a ferocious wrestling match between the two, which lasted for the next several minutes.  Both boys’ emotions had been running like a roller coaster for much of the day, welcomed the distraction and felt the tension slowly ebb away.  It went without saying they also found a great deal of solace in sharing each other’s company again, away from the distractions of the world.  It wasn’t until Elliot had wrapped up and pinned Jason on his back that he paused and looked down into the eyes of the American.  He wondered to himself how he got to be so lucky, but was glad fate had brought them together – had brought Jason to their home, their family. 

    Settling in, Jason returned the gaze, once again feeling the comfort and safety that had enveloped him for the last several weeks.  Studying the youth, he realized he still had a lot to learn about English culture, and even about this English family – but the events of the day drove home to him at how much the bond was building between himself and this kid.  “I really am sorry Elliot, about this morning; I wish you had just let it go.”

    Elliot shook his head.  “No fucking way, man.  She had no right, and you know it.”

    Jason studied for a moment, completely surrendered to the boy pinning and holding him down.  “Maybe, but meh, she’s a teacher, you’re not supposed to back-talk them any, you know?”  He sighed. “Do you think she knows?  You know, about us, about me living here?”

    “Huh?” Elliot asked, confused.  He slowly pulled back to let his friend stretch out, and then sat back down on Jason’s lower abdomen, straddling both sides.  “What do you mean?”

    “Well, remember that kid in the wheelchair this morning, Scotty?  He’s in last period with me, you know, history, and we got to talking a little about what happened.  Somehow it got out that we were related and everything, that I came over from the States to live with you guys, and you should have seen him.  It was like this light-bulb clicked on or something, you know?  I mean, he didn’t know we were family and stuff, and he made this comment about how that explains a lot.  He said he noticed how we had been hanging out a lot together, nothing bad or anything, not like you know, anything more than just good friends, but until I told him he hadn’t realized I was living with you guys. So, I got to thinking about it, and wondered.  Unless you guys said something, I mean.”  He sighed.  “It’s hard to explain, I know when I started here no one ever really introduced me as being a part of your family or anything.  You know, I’m a Mathews and you’re a Flavell, right?  Does that make sense?  Do kids know we live together or anything? Because if they don’t, after Craptree’s stunt this morning, they might not add it up right, maybe thinking we are… you know…”

    Comprehension dawned upon Elliot and a big smile crossed his face.  “Bullocks man, you hit it! That has to be it!  I don’t believe it, I think you really hit it!”  They stared at each other for a few seconds before he asked, “Fuck, and if she doesn’t know it, then she sees us hanging out and everything so much, maybe she does think we’re in love or something.”  He shook his head.  “I’ve been an idiot, too – for not seeing that.”

    Jason nodded but studied off in the distance somewhere.  “Yeah, maybe – but do you think we really hang out THAT much together?  I mean, I don’t see us doing anything different than any other bunch of guys, you know?  It’s not like we hold hands or… or…”

    “I know Jase, I know, and no – we don’t do anything even close to being gay-ish.  Sure, we hang out a lot – you’re the new kid and everything, and we’ve made friends and hell, I don’t care, I needed a good friend anyway, no matter what anyone thinks – especially Crab-Ass.  I think she’s just batty, you know, a bitch wanting to make trouble and all.  And for whatever reason she decided to dump on you this morning.  She probably got tired of giving that wheelchair kid all the flak, and I think when you got in class she just decided she found a new target.”  He suddenly grinned again.  “So, you really told her she was getting old and going blind?”  The boy beneath him blushed, making him grin even wider. “No, I mean, that was flipping awesome! Kira told me you said something about if she couldn’t tell me from a girl, she had to be getting old and blind or something like that! Right?”  Jason nodded, causing Elliot to whistle. “It’s a wonder the old hag didn’t stick you in detention with me.”

    Jason shrugged his shoulders.  “I wouldn’t have cared; at least I would have known you were okay.”

    Elliot leaned forward until he lay down upon Jason’s chest and propped his chin upon crossed arms.  “Really? You worried about me?” Although Jason lay in silence, his eyes betrayed the unspoken answer.  “Don’t do that – don’t worry about me, Jase; it’ll take a whole lot more than Crap-Ass to really get me down.  Like I told you before, she had no right to single you out and treat you like shit this morning – especially in front of the whole class.”

    “I- I guess I just, I don’t know… everything is so weird right now, you know? I feel like, inside I’m just confused and everything sometimes.”

    A look of concern crossed Elliot s face.  “What, about us? I mean, about the other night?” he asked, his voice a whisper.

    Jason shook his head.  “No, I promised you, nothing about us bothered me, still doesn’t, and it won’t, I swear.”  He sighed deeply.  “I don’t know Elliot, it’s hard to explain, it’s like – okay, like you said I’m the new kid, I know that.  But remember what I told you about, you know, what happened and everything? And how I came over because I wanted to just, like, start over, to kind of put myself back together and everything?  Yet everywhere I go and stuff, it just seems … hard.”

    Elliot thought about that for a moment.  “Answer me something: Are you happy here, with us?”

    “Yes.”  There was no hesitation in Jason’s reply; the answer came with a conviction that left no lingering doubt.

    “Then stop being so hard on yourself and give it some time.  You’ll be great, you’re cool and you’re my best friend.  Peeps just have to get to know you, that’s all – and that isn’t going to happen overnight, you know?  Besides, I’m not going to let anything happen to you until you get your head screwed on straight, or at least feel a lot better.”

    “That goes double for me,” they heard from the doorway as Derek entered and closed it behind him.  Wrapped with only a towel around his waist, the youth turned to face them while attempting to dry his hair with another towel in hand.  “Sorry guys, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop there, but I couldn’t help hear that last little bit.  I mean it though, someone gives you trouble, let us know, okay?”  In a rare moment, the older youth leaned in closer to Jason with a kind expression crossing his features.  “I won’t pretend to know what is going on with you, but Elliot is right.  Being with us a month or more is cool, but it’ll take longer than that to get used to everything and for people to get used to you, too.  Just be yourself and be patient, all is good, trust us.  I’ll tell you something else, too: no one is going to mess with my little brothers without messing with me, and I do mean both of you.  You have to know that by now – we care – even if you are a Yank!”  Derek was grinning, and the mood was infectious as they each giggled quietly.

    “Yeah, I know,” Jason replied.  “Thanks though, I mean it guys.  It means a lot to me.”

    Derek sat down on the edge of the bed and looked it over.  “You two really made a mess of the spread, I see.  Cripes, if you’re going to have sex, the least you could do is do it in your own bed!”

    Elliot laughed and grabbed the pillow, throwing it hard at his older brother.  Derek grinned and started attacking his little brother back.  Within seconds the two were in a pillow fight, each slamming the other from the sides and overhead as best as they could manage.  Jason, still half-pinned beneath Elliot’s weight, could do very little about it until the other two suddenly began wrestling.  At that point it became a three-for-all struggle, mostly the two junior teens against the older, more muscular brother.

    The struggle continued for several minutes, until Derek’s towel began to loosen and he had to grab at it in order to keep it in place.  Jason already noted a couple of occasions where the towel had slipped a little high on the boy, exposing parts of his backside underneath to which Derek had paid no heed.  This time however, the towel was beginning to work its way loose and the older youth had obviously decided to preserve what modesty he could.  In the interim however, Elliot showed no mercy and continued to wrap and pin his brother up as much as possible while Jason, from behind, attempted to tickle the older youth under his arms. 

    After the struggle started becoming one-sided as Derek had to concentrate in other areas, Elliot finally slowed and took in his brother’s plight and hesitated, before he suddenly grabbed at the towel.  Derek, seeing the devious glint in his younger brother’s eyes, doubled over in embarrassment to hide himself and at the same time grab onto what was left of the garment as steadfast as he could; he still laughed hard because Jason had found a vulnerable spot just inside his armpits and was digging to get in further, and the combination of the efforts involved was too much for him to handle.  Elliot succeeded finally in pulling the towel away and Derek, curled into a fetal position, uttered a few choice expletives at the two younger boys for a few seconds while contemplating his situation.  With a massive effort the older youth finally stretched, pinning Jason behind him against the wall and grabbing the youth’s arms and holding them locked around his chest.  The American took pity on him after a few seconds though and stopped, surprised at being able to just hold the bigger youth in his arms and feel him again in such close proximity, regardless of his nakedness.  As he just sat there, he watched as Derek pinned him harder to the wall, swinging his legs out from under himself and using them to ward off his little brother.  The moves were favorable, as Elliot stopped being so aggressive and, giving Jason a knowing glance, sat back on his feet with a smug expression.

    It was several seconds before Derek realized the two were no longer pursuing the inevitable, but when he did he finally began to relax and recover.  “Okay you creeps, no fair – two against one!”  The words were soft, filled with amusement as he lay back against Jason and refolded himself into a more comfortable position.  Jason was just contemplating what he felt in holding the youth when Derek surprised him by gently squeezing and holding his arms in an affectionate way, lowering his head to rest on both of their intertwined forearms.  Jason decided to return the hug, breathing in the older boy’s fresh scent as he laid his cheek upon Derek’s shoulder and briefly closed his eyes.  It was different holding the bigger youth in comparison to Elliot, but still pretty cool as far as he was concerned.

    Derek lay there for a moment before deciding to lift his head up so to see Elliot smiling at him.  Looking around, he spoke softly.  “Hey bro, go see if Mum put any of my shorts in with you two, she said she laid them on the bed this morning.”

    Elliot grimaced, not really wanting to break the moment or the scene, but rose from the bed finally and exited the room.  They could hear him walking away down the hall and then there was once again silence.  Jason, still holding the bigger youth, sighed and started to let go but Derek squeezed gently to hold his arms in place.  “You don’t have to stop,” he whispered.

    Jason giggled behind him, but when he spoke it was obvious he was embarrassed.  “Y-you’re naked, you know.”

    Derek turned his head as far as he could to see the youth behind him.  “No shit, Sherlock!”  He laughed with a devious grin.  He turned back and then settled in comfortably once again.  “Guilty as charged, but I don’t care. Just um, don’t go telling anyone.”

    Jason hugged him again.  “Yeah, but what if I care?”

    “Do you?”

    “Not really,” he replied after a few seconds.  “It’s kind of weird though, I mean, in a funny sort of way.” 

    Just then Elliot returned, carrying a stack of shorts.  “What’s weird?  And yeah, Mum dumped your stuff on our bed.”

    Derek eyed his brother amusingly.  “Jason thinks it is weird holding a naked boy in his lap.  I don’t know, maybe I should be careful – you think he might rape me or something?”  He snickered and then dropped his hands to the bedside and stretched his legs again.  He was beyond caring now whether his modesty was preserved or not.  Pulling a pair of briefs from the stack, he tossed them to his brother.  “Pay the price El, you have to put them on me now.”

    “Aw maaannnnn…” Elliot replied good-naturedly as he caught the pair.  “Maybe you ought to let Jason do it,” he said mischievously, but Derek shook his head no.

    “Nope, you stripped me, you got to dress me.”  Elliot shrugged his shoulders and proceeded to thread first one, then the other of his brothers’ feet through the leg holes and pull the garment up to his brother’s upper thighs.  “Lift,” he commanded with a whisper, and Jason watched in amusement from behind his vantage point as Derek elevated his midsection just enough so Elliot could finish the job.  Jason couldn’t really see anything of the youth he was holding, but he could clearly see and tell Elliot was taking his time – and enjoying it.  The younger brother finished and returned to a sitting position this time beside the both of them before giving Jason a smug look.

    “See, I told you he doesn’t care.”

    Jason blushed as Derek turned to look at his brother bemusedly.  “Don’t care about what?”  When he didn’t get an answer, he repeated the query.  “Well?”

    “You know… you, around us,” he finally replied after grinning crazily.  “Being skinned.”

    Derek scoffed.  “You two are crazy, you know that?”  He finally sat up and pulled away so he could turn and see the boy behind him.  “Is that it? Are you a prude or something?”  Jason sheepishly shook his head, causing Derek to smile.  “Then the butthead’s right.  I mean, I don’t strip around just anyone, you know, but you’re family though, so it’s cool.”

    Jason stared back, a lump forming in his throat.  “That’s what Elliot keeps telling me,” he finally croaked.  “He keeps saying we’re like bro’s now.”

    “Well, he’s right.  Don’t sweat it,” the older boy replied, smiling as he reached up to scratch his nose.  “In the end it’s just us.“

    Jason could only nod at that point, afraid his voice might give away if he tried to speak.  Elliot recognized there was something else however, so for Jason’s sake he scooted over and sat quietly next to the youth.  “Hey, you okay?” he asked after a moment.  “What’s going on inside that head of yours?”

    “I guess it’s just… after all that talk between us, you know, about trust and everything, I guess I just thought it was you and me, you know? But now it’s like, Derek, he’s a part of it too… I mean…”  He didn’t finish, but he was smiling now, and the mood lightened considerably.  He felt dumb for saying it, but yet at the same time he didn’t feel as embarrassed about it as he thought he would.  He turned to see the older brother smile.

    “So what?  Does that mean you don’t want me around or something?”

    “No, no – it’s not like that, it’s just … you’re sitting here and giving me the same feelings, the same trust thing as Elliot does, and it’s, in a way, it’s cool I guess, just something I never really expected.”

    “Why? Trust you how?”  Looking down at himself, he grunted.  “Oh, that way.  Trust me Jason, I got nothing any different than you two do.”

    Elliot shook his head.  “Wrong; you’re a lot bigger.”

    Derek shrugged his shoulders.  “Maybe some, but only because I’m older; it’s still nothing to sneeze at, right Jason?”

    Jason turned red, this time clearly embarrassed. “I- I really wouldn’t, uh, know…”

    Noticing the look of confusion on Derek’s face, Elliot piped up.  “Oh, that’s right, you wouldn’t know.” Elliot gave his brother an all knowing look.  “He hasn’t seen you, you know, down there.”

    Derek looked even more confused.  “No way, you guys were just picking on me last week, remember? Downstairs, the shower both of you came in while…”  He stopped, a lop-sided grin forming on his face as he briefly looked away and cleared his throat.  Now it was his turn to be embarrassed, as he recalled the details.

    Elliot shook his head though.  “Sorry bro, it might have been a fine show but um, I think Jase was too embarrassed to look,” he intoned quietly.

    Derek grinned.  “Damn!  Why was that?” he asked, incredulous.  Receiving no reply, he looked at first Jason and then Elliot, and a devious exchange briefly passed between them that Jason missed.  Without another word Derek laid back against the wall and stretched out before both teens.  With both of his legs lying lopsided across their laps, he shifted until he got more comfortable.  Then, in one quick motion he pulled the waistband of his briefs out and down, exposing everything he had in its entirety.  “Okay girls, feast your eyes all you want then,” he grunted, trying to act embarrassed but actually pleased to get the attention.

    Jason was shocked at the bold move, but when Elliot giggled beside him, his own face turned into a lopsided grin.  He couldn’t avoid the display this time, as he sheepishly stared down at Derek, now scrutinizing his almost 16-year old personal package only inches away.  Holding both sides of the garment, the older brother went a step further and hooked the waistband underneath his balls before retrieving both hands tucking them behind his head.  He watched both boys stare down at him, but knowing he and Elliot had been here before he concentrated more on the American and watched his reactions.

    Most of the youth’s upper body seemed hairless, Jason noted for the first time as his eyes followed the well-defined chest; that is, at least until his gaze reached the boy’s navel.  That was surrounded with short, fine hairs that gradually thickened as they continued south into some of the bushiest, darkest pubes Jason could imagine.  It was like a bed that cradled the base of the youth’s huge, thick uncircumcised penis that, surprisingly, wasn’t that erect at the moment.  Nor was it exactly soft, being full enough that it extended upward along Derek’s belly.  Jason was fascinated once again at the skin that extended up and over the end, being something he had never really contemplated in his life until that night with Elliot.  TO him, it was so cool how the skin just extended up and over, making a helmet that protected the sensitive area underneath.  He noticed that Derek’s pubes continued around both sides of the penis underneath, at least within the crotch, and down into the bushier base, as if creating a bed for the appendage to lie upon.

    Derek allowed the American to observe him for a minute or two, amused at the mesmerized attention he was getting.  Even Elliot watched in curiosity, pleased in a way and getting as much out of observing his friend’s reaction than anything else.  He leaned in finally and whispered into Jason’s ear, “You can probably touch him if you want.”  Derek overheard and nodded, but Jason – his attention finally broken, looked sheepishly at the two before slowly shaking his head.

    “Thanks, but uh, no, it’s okay…”

    Derek shrugged his shoulders as if it wasn’t a big deal, and then finally covered himself back up after a bit.  “So okay, see?  Maybe I am a little bigger, but so will the both of you be in a couple more years.”  Grinning, he teased Jason.  “So, how do I measure up with you blokes across the Atlantic?”

    Jason shrugged his shoulders.  “I don’t know; I haven’t seen that many naked peeps before.”

    Elliot grunted and rolled his eyes.  “He means he hasn’t seen any naked guys before.  I think you and me are his first, bro.”

    Derek’s eyes grew wide. “Bull! Really?  No wonder you Americans are such prudes then!”

    “I’m not a prude! I wish you guys would quit saying that!” Jason exclaimed in a hushed voice, obviously annoyed but giggling at the same time.

    “Sorry man, I didn’t mean that quite the way it sounded,” Derek apologized.  “Over here though, it’s different.  You’ll find out soon enough, especially once you get started in gym.  Don’t get me wrong, guys over here can be modest if they want, and some are, but even those give up the attempt sometimes after a game.  The urinals, the gym showers, stuff like that, so the more you’re around it, the less of a surprise it’ll be in the end.”  Elliot suddenly sneezed, and then with annoyance had his brother hand him a tissue from the nearby table before he continued.  “After gym lots of guys shower, and after team practice and games, too.  No one thinks too much of it, though they get shy sometimes when there are adults around, or when new kids show up.”

    “Oh,” Jason replied, looking thoughtful for a moment.  “Well, I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how I’ll feel about that, not for a while anyway, but I guess if its normal stuff I’ll get used to it.”

    Derek nodded.  “No one will think a thing about it as long as you don’t let on like it’s a big deal or anything, trust me.”

    “Like I told you Jason, peeps are going to see you, but you’re going to see them, too – so it’s really no big deal,” Elliot added.

    Jason studied his friend.  “Yeah, but what if I get a boner, you know, an erection?”

    It was Derek who grinned.  “Doesn’t matter, you’ll see.  Lots of us get that way, its natural and everything.  And just so you know, guys who do get erections get teased sometimes, but it’s all good natured and everything.  And like Elliot said, they’ll see you and who knows?  They may pop a banana or two themselves, and you’ll get to see them, too.  Everyone knows it, so it’s no big deal.”

    “They won’t think you’re gay or anything, then?”

    “Nope.  Honestly, unless you go over and try to mess around with them or something it really doesn’t matter.  Guys goof around sometimes, but they don’t really try, you know, to do things is all.  Does that make sense? If you’re around me, then you’ll see.” He eyed the youth closely as Jason slowly nodded, then probed further in a somewhat hushed tone.  “Can I ask you something?”  Seeing the youth nod, he continued.  “Are you like, interested in guys any?  You know, curious?”  When Jason hesitated, Derek saw the deliberation.  “Listen, it doesn’t make you gay you know, or anything like that, unless you make a big deal out of it.  I mean, it’s okay to be curious – especially I think, if you’ve never been around stuff like we have all our life.  You can be curious all you want, but you have to sort of respect guys and everything, too.  I mean, as long as they don’t think you’ve got an eye for them, they won’t think anything untoward of you like that.”

    Jason contemplated the words as he searched within himself.  He really didn’t think of himself as being gay, but he could not deny the feelings he was developing towards Elliot – and yes, some of those feeling elicited some very stark and exacting images of his friend.  Looking at the younger brother, he wondered if he, too, was feeling anything like this.  “Okay, I guess so,” Jason finally answered after a long pause.  “I’ll admit it, before I came here – okay, maybe I was a kind of prude, I don’t know.  Sex stuff just, it wasn’t anything I had to worry with, even in school or anywhere.  I h-had… other things to worry about more, I guess, even before my Dad died.  But since getting here, I guess if I’m honest and everything then yeah, I’m kind of curious.”

    Derek lay back against the wall and smiled.  “It’s cool, there’s nothing wrong with that, trust me.” 

    Jason shook his head after a moment though.  “I do trust you – both of you – but it’s just hard, you know?  I don’t even know if I trust myself right now.”

    Elliot, still sitting beside his friend, put an arm around his shoulders.  “You don’t have to bro.  After what you’ve been through, no one would blame you.”  He saw Derek lift an eyebrow at that remark, and slightly shook his head in warning not to pursue it any further.  Gratefully, his older brother understood.  “As for us, you and me, you’re my best friend, something we’ve already talked about. You know how I feel, right? And Derek, he can be a jerk sometimes, but I promise you, I trust him with my life, just as much as I trust you.”

    That surprised the older brother and moved him deeply.  He was beginning to see that the two youths really did care about each other in ways beyond mere friendship.  He saw something else too, though: without a doubt, the American was having issues with something that needed to be guarded against.  Observing how tender Elliot was with him at times convinced Derek his brother probably knew what those issues were.  Derek would have to trust Elliot to know how deep or serious it was, and whether or not he needed help.  Reflecting upon it however, Derek smiled inwardly; he knew his brother, knew he could be a little overly sentimental at times – but also knew there was a strong core inside.  Like anyone, he needed someone to be there every once in a while – and Derek had tried his best to be that someone when he could.

    He studied the American again, and resolved himself to do the same for Jason.  They might not get as close together, their age and stature setting them apart – but in this short moment of conversation, added with the events of the day and evening, he knew he had to be that big brother.  Derek he was happy about it, too; he found he wanted to be that big brother to the newcomer.  He reached out and took Jason’s hand – not in a caressing way – but one filled with friendship that he wanted to convey as he squeezed it firmly.  “I’ll be here, should you ever need or want anything from me.  And if I’m not here, well, Mum & Dad are getting you a mobile next week I think, so you’ll still find me if you need me.”

    That caused Jason to look up in surprise.  “Really?” he asked, a smile returning to him.

    Derek smiled back.  “Really. Um, don’t let on you know about it though – I think they wanted to surprise you.”

    “Mobiles aren’t so big around here, but since we’re off on our own so much, Mum & Dad insist on being able to stay in touch, and for us to have something in case we get in trouble or anything.  Just uh, don’t have it out during school or anything,” Elliot explained, to which Jason nodded in acknowledgement.

    Derek cleared his throat. “Tell you what, back to this other stuff: why don’t you both hang out with me and the team Saturday.  It’s the last game of the year until spring, and we’re playing North Havant.  They’re a particularly nasty group this year, but we’ve been practicing hard, so it should be interesting.”  He gave the two a knowing look.  “I don’t know how much you’ll get to stick close with us and everything, because the guys don’t really know you yet like they do Elliot. Still, it doesn’t matter; it would be cool if you just hang out with us a while.  You’ll get to know them and they’ll get to know you.”

    Jason considered this.  “Well, sure, I mean, I would like to come, you know, just for the heck of it, to hang out some.”  He paused, giving it some thought, before asking in a timid voice, “Do you think they would want to?  I mean, me being American and everything…”

    Elliot rolled his eyes at this, but it was Derek who grunted. “Don’t sell yourself short Jason, you’re a cool guy, people just need to get to know you is all.  Sometimes the guys can be pricks, but most of the time they’re okay.  You hanging out with me and Elliot will be a big plus, too.  We’ll go a little while before the game and I’ll introduce you, and then maybe you guys can stick around behind the scenes with us some.”

    “He means we might get to go back into the locker rooms and stuff with him,” Elliot explained, the wisp of a grin cutting his features.

    Jason wrinkled his nose.  “Really? I mean… they would let us come in and … and hang out?”

    Derek nodded.  “Most likely; I mean, the coaches don’t like opening the doors to anyone but the players, but they don’t usually care if we have brothers tag along.  Like I said - Elliot’s already been down there with me a few times, so they know him; you just have to kind of hang out and let them get to know you too, get used to you being around some.  Just um, remember what e said while ago – if you’re curious and stuff, I don’t know, you might …”  He let the thought speak for itself as he grinned at the both of them.  “Just um, remember to not go in expecting anything; like I said, I promise you’ll most likely get to see all you want and then some, if not with the team, then definitely when you start gym next year.”

    Jason blushed, but he did not attempt to hide it, causing Elliot to giggle before speaking up.  “You think that tall kid will be there?  Sean something… you know, red-headed?”

    Derek grinned.  “Oh yeah, he’ll be there…”

    Jason watched the exchange between the two and seeing the knowing glance piqued his curiosity.  “Am I missing something here?”

    Derek scoffed.  “Sean Hester is like, the tallest 16-year old in the UK I think. I mean, he’s a little over two meters tall - I think.”  Quickly doing some calculations in his head, he added, “That’s about 6-foot 7-inches or so to you, and he’s skinny and scrawny as crap, too.”

    Jason only partially understood.  “Okay… and?”

    Elliot giggled.  “Just wait, you’ll see Jason.”

    “If you’re really curious, he would be one lad to catch a peek at if you can.”  Derek cupped his fingers together over his groin and pulled away, spreading the image.  “The guy is hung big-time!”

    Jason’s eyebrow shot up, but he nodded in understanding.  “Oh,” was all he said, his thoughts racing inside his head.

    Elliot spoke up.  “He’s also red-headed, remember that if… you know…”

    Derek laughed as Jason’s other eyebrow rose sharply.  “A lot of blokes used to accuse him of using some kind of dye to his crotch match his head and all, but he always denies it, says they’re natural and everything.”

    “OOOhhhhhh, uh, … crap!” was all Jason could think to say, trying to picture that image in his head but failing.  Finally he just giggled and shrugged his shoulders, causing the other two to break out laughing.

    “All right you guys, I have homework to do and a show to watch in about an hour - and I really don’t want to spend my evening being some object for you blokes to fantasize over!”  Before getting up though, he reached out to Jason and took the youth’s hand again, this time pulling him close though and surprising the boy with a hug.  Speaking softly, he held him tight and reassured him.  “Remember what we told you.  Don’t let the creeps get to you, everything will be okay.  Crabtree is just an arse and a bitch and everyone knows it.  Me and El will watch your back, okay?  You ought to know by now you’re a part of us – ALL of us.”

    It wasn’t just the words, but also how they were delivered that made a huge impact on how Jason was feeling at that moment.  “Yeah, but you guys, y-you’re a part of m-me, too.  Thanks,” he finally stuttered as he returned the warm hug.

     - + - + - + -

    “I understand why you two are so close now,” Jason told Elliot later that night.  He was standing at their closet door, clad in only his briefs and pulling a maroon-colored t-shirt over his head.  After putting several stacks of clothes away he retrieved from a nearby laundry basket, he stretched out on the bed and waited for Elliot to join him.  The day was finally coming to a close, and Jason stared at the ceiling lost in thought.  Since their episode in the shower, both boys had lost their inhibitions around each other completely now, Jason no longer shy being seen in whatever he wore around the other youth.  Elliot had never been shy to begin with, but now as he joined his friend he stretched out such that they were lying next to each other, touching up and down their entire length.  Jason reacted by slipping his leg over the top that of his friend and letting it lay gently.

    “Yeah,” was all the younger brother said in reply.  After a few minutes, he grinned and whispered, “What did you think of Derek tonight?”

    “He seem pretty cool, I think – I mean, not like his – you know, just…” Jason said casually.

    Elliot giggled.  “Told you he was big, didn’t I?  But yeah, I know what you mean.  For a long time it was just me and Derek, and he always, I don’t know, always watched out for me I guess.  He can be a real arse sometimes, but he has his moments, too.”

    “Tonight was one of his moments, then?”

    Elliot smiled.  “Tonight was one of his coolest moments ever, yeah.”

    Jason nodded as he sat down next to his friend.  “Yeah, and yeah, you were right.  He has a big you-know-what, or at least I guess so.”

    “Trust me, he does… it’s bigger when he’s boned up.  To be honest, I’m surprised he didn’t pop a full banana tonight, really.  Wasn’t the right moment, I guess.”  Rolling onto his side, he looked up and contemplated the other teen.  “So, was he, like, as good as me or … you know…”

    Jason giggled back at him but did not answer directly.  “I think it is cool how you guys have like, all the skin and stuff at the tip.  He looked like he had maybe more than you, even though he’s bigger and everything.”

    “He does have more, but if he had popped a full willy, it wouldn’t have looked as much as it did.”

    Jason thought about that.  “Yeah, I didn’t think about that…”  He turned his gaze to Elliot.  “Is yours, umm, like that, too? When you’re soft, I mean?”

    Elliot grinned.  “Why don’t you find out?” he whispered.  Reaching down, he pulled his own waistband out so Jason who, following his gaze in the soft light saw that indeed Elliot, in his soft state, had what appeared to be more skin than Jason had remembered.  He peered for a few seconds before laying back and grinning.  “You’re crazy sometimes, you know that?”

    “Yeah, but I only do it around you,” Elliot replied softly as he leaned in and nuzzled his friends’ ear before settling back.  “Did you get your, you know, report for the bitch done?”

    Jason shook his head.  “I’m not going to.  I had enough of her show today, I’m not going to stand up in front of everybody and just get humiliated again.”

    “I know, but she’ll give you another ‘F’, you know, right?  Probably try to eat you alive all the same.”

    Jason nodded.  “Doesn’t matter, I don’t really care.  If I did write something up, with how I honestly feel, she wouldn’t like it anyway and I would end up with the same grade, so what’s the point?”  He paused while looking down at his feet.  “Can I ask you something?”  Elliot nodded.  “Did you expect Derek to, like, flash us and all tonight?  I mean, sorry but – I got to ask.  Were you trying to get him naked or something, for – for me?”

    Elliot smiled, but shook his head.  “Nope; honest, we were horsing around is all, and it all just kind of happened.  I promise, no hidden motives or anything, it all just happened and stuff.  Besides, I told you before, he doesn’t care; honest – he knew what he was doing.  He could have told me to stop at any time while we were wrestling and stuff, and he knows I would have – but he let us just hang out and stuff, you know?”

    Jason smiled back.  “I think it’s so cool to have a brother like that.  I mean, you know?  I never knew what horsing around like that would be like.  I mean, forget the sex stuff, just having that… that…”

    “Yeah, I know what you mean Jase, you don’t have to explain everything.  Even with the sex stuff, it’s not like I’m going to think everything you say has some kind of dirty meaning attached with it, okay?”  Both of them giggled before he continued.  “I tried to tell you before, Derek and I are close, that’s all.  Over here different families do things different ways.  I mean, there are some families where the kids can’t stand one another, always fighting or something, you know?  But here, in our family, Mum sort of taught us to like each other I guess.  I will never admit it in front of her, mind you, but I’m glad really.  I told you, he can be a dick sometimes, but meh, I love my brother – and he loves me, too.  And like tonight, yeah - he can be pretty cool, too.” 

    He paused and sat up to face his friend.  “I’ll tell you something else too, just so you’ll know.  I’m not trying to get anyone naked for you Jase, I don’t have to.  And I’ll never try to get you naked again, honest.  You’ve already proven you’re no prude, and I think you’re going to be surprised when you find most of us guys aren’t either.  Just remember what I told you, okay?  It’s different here - people are going to see you, but big deal, you’re going to see them, too.”  Leaning in, he lowered his voice and added into Jason’s ear, “Just don’t forget you liked me first, and it’s me you have to sleep with every night!”

    Jason snickered.  “I won’t forget.”  Turning, he leaned in close until their noses touched, and he slowly moved them back and forth, rubbing them together.  When he saw no resistance, he closed the distance further and planted a very soft kiss on Elliot’s lips, one that lingered for a long time as they lightly breathed each other in.  It was Jason’s way of telling the other youth how much he still trusted him, and Elliot got the message and returned the gesture, softly kissing back. 

    After a moment, Jason separated and pulled back, pulling his friend with him towards the head of the bed where they finally climbed under the covers.  Turning out the light, Elliot snuggled up to Jason’s side and pushed his hand up inside his friend’s shirt, laying his fingers lightly across the American’s heart.  As they lay there in silence, he could feel the heartbeat beneath his touch, and its calming effect made him feel ever so happy.  As he laid his head on his friend’s shoulder, Elliot was thrilled when Jason placed an arm around him and pulled him closer.  There they lay in silence for a time, each thinking their own thoughts.  At one point Elliot thought his friend was falling asleep – that is, until he became aware of something slowly but steadily pushing into his elbow.  It took a few seconds at first, but Elliot realized that the crook of his arm lay just at the waistband to Jason’s briefs, and what was stirring beneath was gradually getting harder as it slowly began to throb.

    Jason turned his head so that he could see Elliot in the shadows.  It took a few seconds, but he could make out an unmistakable grin greeting him.  Grinning back, he also felt the throbbing of something else growing and getting excited around his leg.  “You want to?” he asked in a whisper.

    “Fuck yeah I want to, do you?” Elliot replied in the barest of whispers.

    In answer, Jason took hold of his friend’s hand and pushed it down inside his briefs, before reaching to cup his palm around the hardness of his friend.  “Oh yeah, for once, I think I’m loaded…”

     - + - + - + -

    Eric Dewayne Williams was limping as he entered the school yard the next morning, a characteristic so unnatural for the youth that several of the students nearby stopped and observed as he approached the main doors.  Two first years that had been standing with their backs to him as he approached, excitedly chatting away with whatever captivated their attention at the moment, were shoved aside as the stocky boy bowled his way between them.  One fell to the ground while his friend, miraculously, was able to spin and keep his balance.  “Hey, you jerk!” he cried out – that is, until he saw the size of the youth glaring back at them over his shoulder.  Quickly the two recovered and removed themselves from the scene as rapidly as possible.

    Inside the main hallway, people who saw Eric approach were quick to give the bully plenty of space.  The scowl on his face was all most people needed to see in order surmise how fowl his mood was.  Turning down one corridor after another, he headed to the far side of the build for his locker, his limp favoring his left leg considerably.  Reaching the cramped compartment finally, he handled the lock in place roughly, having to spin the combination more than once before he finally got it right in order to open the door.  His patience stretched to beyond endurance, others in the hallway cleared away quickly as they heard the kid muttering and swearing under his breath.  Once the locker opened, he extracted a jagged notebook from within and slammed the door so hard that the adjacent locker jarred its lock free and swung open.  Any other time he would have smirked, perhaps rummaged the unit; this time however, he ignored it and turned to retreat back the way he had come.

    Although slightly under 2-meters in height, the burly youth exhibited a solid frame of massive muscles, both conditioned and toned in recent years from working out with various weights and equipment in the gym.  He was proud of his achievement, which was about the only claim to fame he had in this reprehensible school.  Known throughout as one seriously short-tempered individual, many had fallen prey to Eric’s mood swings ever since his junior years.  The headmasters’ office was no strange place to the boy, as having visited it more times than he could count it had grown to be a part of his normal, everyday life.  The offenses were many and stretched all across the board from food fights, name calling, arguing with teachers, and bullying the other kids.  He had no hesitation to what age group he picked with either, having failed one grade year and having bridged other courses remedially because of low, lackluster grades.

    The level of intimidation Eric exhibited extended far beyond that of the students though.  Many of his teachers were wary of having him in their classes, a fact that gave the youth a grand feeling of euphoria.  For many of them, he either avoided or bullied his way out of most class assignments and projects, and instead spent his time sleeping or hanging out with his circle of friends.  He was notorious for consistently disrupting lessons, and regardless of the steps or measures most teachers took with him, it became impossible to convince him to buckle down.  Not wanting to deal with the youth again most terms, they would therefore pass him – albeit barely – so that he could advance to the next grade and – hopefully – beyond their reach.  In other words, if they were lucky – Eric would become someone else’s problem.

    Most unfortunate as it was on this morning, he entered homeroom as the bell began to ring, knocking aside two girls ahead of him who were also rushing to get through the doorway.  He had noted who they were before hand, and sneered as he bullied his way past.  Geraldine Troops, the homeroom teacher, happened to glance up at just that moment and frowned at the scene that had played out.  In the past she had been known to overlook this sort of aggressive behavior coming from Eric, but when one of the girls stumbled to her knees and her books went flying across the floor, the elderly teacher stood up and deeply sighed, before addressing the youth – who was already a full third of the way into the classroom and heading toward the back.  “Eric!” she cried, rather loudly.  “Stop right there young man!”

    At first the youth ignored her, clearly not in the mood to deal with the shrilly voice that was admonishing him.  This frustrated the woman further however, and as he continued walking and ignoring her, she reached down and grabbed a nearby, overly large textbook and slammed it down onto the floor.  The effect was similar to a loud, popping gunshot that resounded harshly throughout the room, startling many of the students into silence.  “Eric Williams, stop in the name that all is Holy or I will see to it you don’t sit down for a week!”

    The silence that followed caused the youth to shut his eyes and steel his resolve with a deep breath, before turning and observing the matron with as much contempt as he could muster. Retrieving the textbook, she approached him unfazed, ignoring his obvious attempts to demean her.  It was not the first time they had come face-to-face, and she knew most likely it would never be the last.  Matching his leer, she stood steadfast and annunciated each of her next words clearly with the frustration she felt.  “The – next – time – I – tell – you – to – stop, you – WILL – obey – ME!”  She had almost jabbed him n the chest with her pointed finger, but her temper was not to be admonished as she barely restrained herself.  The two glared at each other a full minute before the youth finally relented and backed away, dropping his gaze to the floor.

    Geraldine was no fool, however; knowing the youth as she did, it was obvious the young man did not need to be let loose into the school’s population just then.  She glanced sideways long enough to see that both girls had recovered their belongings and were quickly taking their seats.  Contented, he reached out and took the youth firmly by his elbow and, guiding the large bulk in front of her, she pushed him out into the hallway and up against the wall.  “I’ll give you one opportunity Mister Williams,” she hissed, “and I advise you to use it wisely: what is your problem this morning?”

    The youth sneered at her.  “Go to hell, bitch!” he breathed.

    It was everything Ms. Troops could do to keep from rearing back and slapping the youth as hard as she could muster.  Common sense overtook her initial reaction, so instead she grabbed the elbow again and was going to pull him into the hall when he jerked it out of her grasp.  Just then Andy Haynes, Eric’s gym teacher, walked by and witnessed the exchange.  “Eh, what’s this?”

    “Mr. Williams has decided to be a smart arse this morning, shoving students and being a general pain in the fanny,” the woman replied.  “And it appears he has decided another visit to the headmasters office isn’t out of place for the day.”  She cocked her head curiously to one side.  “And if I have anything to say about it, calling canine relations into my heritage is going to put him away for the rest of the week as well.”

    Andy turned to the youth with a look of incredulity.  “You didn’t… you did?”  An all assuming expression came over the man.  “Let’s go.”

    Eric looked back at his gym teacher with uncertainty, attempting to size up the situation.  It wasn’t until Ms. Troops turned to the man that Andy interrupted both of them before they could get started.  “As you know, I have no homeroom in these mornings, so I will see to it the git get’s to his appropriate destination, and I’ll let the headmistress know what has transpired.  You Geraldine, can come down later and decide to what effect his discordance will be.”

    Ms. Troops smiled and kindly thanked the coach, before turning back to her class.  At the doorway she paused and called across to them, “Have him sent to detention Mr. Haynes.  I’ll deal with him shortly.”

     - + - + - + -

    With his eyes tightly shut, Eric did something totally uncharacteristic of his usual routine: he tried to purposefully and methodically calm himself.  He felt the anger building and receding as if in cycles, and deep within he knew he had no desire to face it uncontrolled.  He had been in and out of anger therapy for years now, his foster parents having tried to get him in managed counseling before was too late.  Fortunately, his bullish personality set aside, he was intelligent enough to know that if he did not find some way to deal with it – his future would have a catastrophic conclusion.  It wasn’t that he had not had skirmishes with the law; as it was, he already had a short rap sheet of misdemeanors in the big file.  His anger had become increasingly uncontrollable in the last 12 months or so, and his actions of the morning did not contradict the outcome.

    Of course, the morning had been fraught with surprises.  He was supposedly 17 years old today, from the best anyone could figure.  It had meant that today he could be – finally – a free man, unchained to the virtues of a society that despised him.  He had packed the night before, intending to sleep as common as always, but arise and exit the gloomy household for the last time.  He had made it as far as the kitchen before he was stopped, the burly frame of Felton Peaks standing in his way.  When the man asked where the youth was going, Eric only grimaced and said nothing, attempting to side-step the man.

    It was no small feat that the man gripped the youth and held him, almost vice-like, in one of his signature moves.  The man was a prison guard, who worked out steadily every day and who subsisted on a high-protein diet.  Aside from his excellent physical shape, he stood almost half-a-head taller than the youth.  Although Eric was stocky and muscular himself, he was in no comparison a match for his stepfather.

    The two argued and fought with one another briefly, before the man forced the youth to sit at the table.  In keeping him pinned down, the elder Peaks applied an odd hold on the youth’s upper calf, forcing him to sit awkwardly in the chair.  As pressure was applied, Eric cried out from the pain, tears stinging his eyes as he muttered every curse he could think of at the man.

    It seemed no one was leaving for anywhere, as it had already been made a special condition from somewhere long before, that Eric could not be a freed individual, with regards to the state, until he completed not his current term, but entire year in school.  Eric of course knew this – he had heard it before in many conversations of recent weeks from his foster family, his therapists and more.  He could care less however; he was done with his miserable life, the crappy school and the hell-bent hounds he had to put up with every day.  He was seventeen – SEVENTEEN!  He was legally of age now!  He could do whatever the hell he wanted, he assumed.

    Not so, however, according to the man that had stood over him that morning.  In an attempt to get through to the pea-sized brain the man claimed was inside Eric’s thick skull, he explained once more, in unison of the pressure he applied to the kid’s leg.  His trouble with the law had cost him his freedom, meager as it was.  If he left, before the day was out the uniformed police would be all over him, sending him to the pen where, they felt, he belonged.  And that meant the pen where Peaks was charged over the staff.  Peaks screamed in the youths face, telling him if he thought living there was a hell-hold, which for a glimpse Eric totally agreed, wait until he made it to the other side.

    The elderly Peaks was actually trying to do the boy a favor, trying to reason with him the only way he had left to try.  He had fostered several teenagers in the past, but never one as stubborn or born with the lack of common sense that this one seemingly had.  He knew this would be a troublesome day, all the more reason he had started the night before waiting out in the kitchen.  He disliked rough-housing the youth, knowing that ultimately he was only reinforcing the tides of abuse he knew the kid had received in years past.  But reasoning had gotten them nowhere, and regardless of the attempts to head the confrontation off – he was at his last, most desperate hour.  When he had finally gotten the youth’s attention, he was surprised at finding not hatred and loathing in his charges eyes, but fear and – something else.  The man backed off and knelt, making one last attempt to get Eric to understand his situation – and for some reason, it took hold.  The youth closed his eyes and eventually, somewhere in what followed, he began nodding in understanding.  His leg hurt like hell, but it seemed the sharpness of the pain brought into focus what he was being told.

    How he had left the house and headed for school, he did not know or remember.  All he could focus on was how bad his whole side hurt, the pain in his leg almost unbearable.  He had to hand it to the old man – he had gotten the youth wrapped up good.  At first he seemed amicable, but the journey to the school grounds had given him time to think yet again, and suddenly he recalled it was again his birthday.  Taken with the combination of how bad his morning had started out, and of all days how his dreams had been crashed yet again, only fueled the mood that was so now common.

    In detention, he sat still until the bell rang, and then opened his eyes.  To his surprise, he found there was only one other youth in the room, one who had chosen for some reason to sit near the front away from him as far as possible.  He studied the kid, guessed him to be a few years younger, and although not scrawny by any sense of the word, at least athletic in build.  At that moment the youth was bent over, his head lying on the desktop in a feeble attempt to sleep.

    Their overseer entered the room and closed the door – a man Eric had never noticed before.  He introduced himself with a name unheard of, then explained he was a substitute, and would be watching over the hall for most of the morning.  He intoned both boys to mind their manners, keep strict silence and he wouldn’t bother them if they didn’t bugger him.  That told Eric all he needed to know about the creep; but of course, most all of their teachers were creeps to him anyway.

   He watched the other youth raise his head and yawn, before stretching wildly.  As he turned enough in his seat for Eric to get a view of him, the burly youth startled.  He had heard stories already from the day before, about some gay kid getting called out in one of the classes in front of his classmates, and the description, for some reason, fit this kid in front of him.  Although separated by several rows, Eric steadily tore a sheet of paper from his ragged notebook and quickly assembled a paper airplane from it.  Before sending it however, he took a pen and wrote something along the edges.  Then, when their overseer turned away for an instant, he sent the message flying across the distance, popping a bulls eye right in the back of the other youth’s head.

    The youth, startled, whirled around while rubbing the spot where contact had been made.  Seeing the airplane, he was confused until he noticed the writing.  Retrieving the paper from the floor and pulling it closer, he read the short, sloppy script: ‘You’re the boy fucker, right?’

    Even before the youth’s eyes arose to meet his own, Eric could tell in that instant he was right.  He saw the surprise in the body language, and instead of rage or denial, a certain acceptance of understanding in its place.  When their eyes did meet, the youth simply mouth wordlessly to the Eric: ‘Go fuck yourself’.  Eric needed no translation – the meaning was clear as the other youth gave him a rude, pointed middle-finger gesture and turned his back on him.

    All of this happened in the space of seconds before the room monitor looked up from his place before a filing cabinet.  The overseer noted the mutinous look of rage on the burly kid’s face, but short of that saw nothing amiss.  After a moment, he turned back to his cataloging duties, oblivious to what had just taken place.

   And what had just taken place, was nothing to be oblivious about…



Comments to: EKidKy@hotmail.com
Other series by me:

   - The Bully and The Bullied (A novel)
     (www.Nifty.org, Gay – High School section, Early-Mid 2009)

   - One Autumn Weekend (A Short Story)
     (www.Nifty.org, Gay – High School section, February 2010)

   - Life’s Road of Discoveries
     (www.Nifty.org, Gay-Young Friends section, Early 2008)

   - Terry and Sam - Short Story, Holiday Christmas Collaboration w/Ruwen
     (www.Nifty.org, Gay-No Sex section, Late 2008)