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Cody's Christmas Wish

by: Kewl Dad


"Hey Miller, you forget your lunch again?" Robbie smirked. He knew half the time Cody didn't have any lunch to forget and toward the end of the month his mom couldn't even afford the school lunches which were at a reduced rate for low income families.

"I'm just not hungry, that's all," Cody said ducking his head and going back to reading the book he'd brought to the cafeteria. 

"Well...I hate apples, do me a favor and eat this one for me," Robbie said sitting the apple down next to Cody then going over to join his  buddies at their usual table.

Cody wanted to refuse the offer, but Robbie was already gone and  he was so hungry and eventually his stomach won the argument. He glanced in Robbie's direction a few times and once he thought he saw the boy give him a little smile, but he was confused when it came to this particular boy. 

One minute Robbie was part of the pack that hounded him and called him names just cause he was poor, and the next he was doing nice things like leaving him the apple. It was as if he was afraid to be nice in front of the other kids or something.

The book was one of the Harry Potter series that he's checked out at the library and in a lot of ways he compared his own life to that of poor Harry. Not that he lived in a closet and was mistreated at  home, but he felt like he was misunderstood and destined for greater things if only he had the chance.

"Hey Cody," Paul Nelson said sitting down across from the blond haired, brown eyed Cody.

"Hey Paul," Cody said not looking up from his book.

He couldn't exactly call Paul a friend, but they did share some common misery since they were both the brunt of some of the bullying that went on at Lyndon B. Johnson Elementary School. Only instead of being poor Paul was skinny and a bit of a nerd and if that wasn't bad enough he had cleft lip, what they used to call a  hair-lip, and it made him fair game for most of the weaker minds at school.

"Want some of my chips?" Paul offered. Unlike the others he was more sympathetic of Cody's plight and besides he didn't eat all that much anyway.

"Thanks, but I'm okay," Cody lied. He was still hungry, but his stupid pride alway got in the way when it came to accepting help.

"Okay, but if you change your mind..."

"Thanks," Cody muttered then went back to his book.

"I have that book and it's a good one. I have the whole series at home. If you ever  need to borrow one..."

"The library has them all," Cody said curtly.

"Sorry," Paul muttered.

"Hey hair-lip," someone yelled from across the room, "you and your boyfriend having a good talk? Bet it feels weird when he kisses that hair-lip of yours."

Paul lowered his head and tried to ignore the taunting, but eventually it got worse, and  finally he'd had enough. Excusing himself he picked up what was left of his lunch, except for the small bag of chips he'd offered Cody, and he slinked off in shame.

Cody felt bad for him, but he had his own problems. His stomach rumbled and eventually he surreptitiously reached over and pulled the bag of chips to him, but just as he was about to open them a hand snatched them away. When Cody spun around he saw Doug Henry holding the chips just out of reach.

"Aww...are you hungry poor kid?" he taunted, "Well, here have some chips," he said opening the bag and scattering the contents on Cody's head.

A roar of laughter rose from the table where Robbie sat, but Cody noticed Robbie wasn't laughing, just staring at the whole scene as if he wished he were somewhere else.

"Hey, what are  you doing? " Mr. Conners, the teacher on lunch room duty yelled, "Clean that mess up Your mom doesn't work here and the custodians aren't paid to clean up your messes."

Nothing was said about the taunting or the abuse directed at Paul or Cody, but Cody was used to that sort of thing at LBJ. There was supposedly a no bullying policy, but as far as Cody could tell it was only on paper and not practiced.

Cody brushed a few chip crumbs from his hair and the book and noticed that they had caused a greasy stain on one of the pages. He worried that the library would want him to pay for the book and if that  happened he might as well run away, because no way could his mom afford that kind of expense.

He closed his book and brushed the last few crumbs off his lap and stood up, but suddenly he found himself on the floor with Doug Henry standing over him menacingly.

"Just watch yourself," he growled, "this isn't over yet."

Cody picked himself up and dusted himself off and made a hasty getaway this time. On his way out he noticed Mr.Conners was nowhere to be seen.             He'd managed to hang onto the book, but just barely, and he didn't stop till he was back in his classroom. Most of the other kids were still at lunch or wandering the halls so he figured he was safe for the moment. His desk was near the front and his teacher, Mrs. Ward, was fairly strict and the other kids didn't mess with him there. This was his safe zone, and he felt comfortable there as long as Mrs. Ward was in the room.

He sat at his desk and pulled out his English textbook and started reviewing the chapter they'd gone over the day before. He was so engrossed in his study that he didn't notice when Robbie walked in, but suddenly he was there beside Cody's desk staring down at him.

Cody was startled at first, but he tried to remain calm despite the fact the there was no teacher to save the day if things went wrong.

"Why do you let them do that stuff to you?"

"What...what do you mean? I don't let them, they just do it. What can I do? I'm smaller than most of them and there's too many of them."

"They only pick on you cause you're weak and don't stand up to them."

Cody shrugged, he wanted to ask Robbie why he was one of them, but that was a little unfair since Robbie had never actually bullied him the way the others did. Still, he never tried to stop them either.

"You should make friends, there's safety in numbers you know?"

Cody almost laughed, who would want to be friends with a poor white kid who wore thrift store clothing and went around hungry most of the time?

"How?" he said simply.

The bell rang then and kids began to wander in and soon Mrs. Ward came in and Robbie just shrugged and walked to his desk. All the rest of the afternoon he just kept staring at Cody, and Cody wondered what was really on his mind. Why did he care? He was part of the popular crowd, he had it made, so why did he care if Cody had a friend or that he got picked on?

When the bell sounded for recess Cody remained at his desk and pulled out his Harry Potter book and began to read. Mrs. Ward was  used to his peculiarities by now, and didn't interfere, but she knew she should. She knew there was a reason Cody didn't go outside with the others, but she was old and set in her ways and she hated to get involved.

Once Cody was sure the others were on the playground he put his book aside and headed off to the bathroom. This was the safest time, well except maybe during class, and he needed to go  number 2 bad.

The bathroom was just around the corner from Mrs. Ward's classroom and as he pushed the door open he surveyed the interior to make sure he was alone. Satisfied that he was, he walked to the furtherest stall, and closing the door behind him he dropped his pants and underwear and sat down.

He was just finishing up when he heard the door squeak open and someone close the door of the stall next to his. He waited a few seconds before pulling up his pants and was about to exit when a voice came from next door.

"I been thinking...about your problem." It was Robbie of course and Cody relaxed a little.

"Uh, what do you mean?" Cody said nervously.

"We can't talk here, meet me after school...on the west side by the flag pole."

"Uh, I don't know..."

"Relax, it's just gonna be me. I'm not setting you up."

"How do I know that?" Cody said almost defiantly. He was getting tired of being the target of every bully in school and wary of anyone trying to help him.

"Look, I get that you don't trust me...or anyone for the matter, but sometimes you just gotta take a chance. I'll be there right after class. I'll wait 15 minutes and if you don't show, that's cool...I'll understand."

Cody fretted over whether to meet Robbie at the flagpole or not all the rest of the afternoon. The few times he glanced Robbie's way he seemed to be deep in thought and not aware of him, so he figured this wasn't as big a deal to him as it was to Cody.

When the final bell rang Cody gathered up his things and headed out the door, still unsure what to do. Robbie had slipped out while he was gathering  up his things and besides Mrs. Ward and a kid named Ronnie who was chatting her up, the room was empty.

"Good bye Mrs. Ward," Cody said politely.

"Good bye Cody, have a good evening," she said smiling.

"Bye Ronnie," Cody added, but Ronnie just waved and went back to whatever it was he was saying to Mrs. Ward.

When Cody was gone Mrs. Ward did something she had never done before.

"Is Cody one of your friends?" Mrs. Ward asked, knowing full well Cody had no friends to speak of.

"No ma'am, he doesn't have any friends."

"Oh, and why's that?"

Ronnie just shrugged, "I don't know. He's just quiet and shy and I think his folks are poor or something."

"I see, well thank you Ronnie. Have a good evening."

Ronnie rushed off then leaving Mrs. Ward to think about what he'd said. She knew Cody lived with his mother and a younger brother who also attended school there, and that he qualified for low income lunches, so she figured his mother didn't make much money. She also knew he was a good student and well behaved, but she could detect a sadness and aloofness in him that kept him from interacting with the other students.

There wasn't much she could do, but the teacher in her wanted to do something and so she grabbed her things and went to talk to the principal, Mr. Murray.


At the flagpole Robbie stood staring out at the grassy playground next to the school and thinking about what to say...if Cody showed up that was. He was just a kid like Cody, but he had a mom and a dad and his dad had taught him to stand up for himself and not let anyone push him around. He didn't get into many fights, and when he did he didn't always win, but he usually earned his opponents respect regardless.

He took a deep breath of the December air and turned to see Cody headed toward him only he wasn't alone. Tagging along beside him was a little kid, a third grader, that he figured must me Cody's little brother.

Robbie figured that was one reason he was so unsure about meeting him, he had to watch out for his brother too, and that sort of made Robbie respect him more than he already did.

"Hi," Cody said as he got within a few feet of Robbie, "this is Andy, my little brother."

"Hey," Robbie said smiling despite himself.

Andy was cute and looked a lot like  his older brother, same blond hair and dimples, but instead of brown eyes, his were blue.

"Hi," Andy said blushing. He was shy around anyone he didn't know well, especially older kids, but he figured if Cody liked this boy then he was okay.

"So, what did you want to talk to me about?" Cody asked then, "We need to get home soon."

"I forgot about your brother, maybe we should talk somewhere else...alone."

Cody's hackles began to rise then, was this a set up for a set up, or did Robbie really want to help him? In the end his curiosity got the better of him.

"Where and when?"

"How about my house around 5?"

"Uh, where do you live?"

"On Berg Street near the baseball fields."

Cody knew where that was, he'd been there once with his mom to watch a ball game. One of her friends from work had a son who played on a rec team and she had talked his mom into coming to watch it. Cody had enjoyed it and thought the players looked amazing, but he knew he could never do anything like that himself. First of all his mom couldn't afford the uniform or the fees, and secondly, because he had no athletic talent of any kind.

"I don't know, it's kind of close, but I'd have to walk."

"Don't ya have a bike?"

Cody shook his head, his mom could barely afford the rent in the dinky little apartment they lived in, let alone expensive toys like a bike."

"Okay, well...then maybe I can meet ya' half way. Know where the 7-11 on Pike street is?"

"Yeah," Cody replied, he knew it well because the apartment he lived in was right behind it.

"Meet me there at five, I'll even buy ya' a Big Gulp."

All this time Andy had been quiet but suddenly he spoke up, "Cody, don't go. I don't want you to go."

"It's okay Andy," Cody said slipping a reassuring arm around his little brother. "Robbie is cool," he said eying Robbie as if to say, don't prove me wrong.

Cody's mom was usually home by the time the boys got home and today was no exception. She worked 7-3 most days at her job the Cafe and rarely worked weekends, but although the schedule was favorable for a single mom, the pay was barely enough to make ends meet.

There was no alimony or outside support except a hundred dollars in food stamps that the didn't go far with two growing boys to feed. Still she did the best she could and always put the boys needs above hers.

"Hi guys," she said giving them a warm hug when they came in, "I have some donuts for you guys to snack on today.

Often Joe,  the owner of the cafe, would send day old pastries or other food home with the boys' mom because he knew she was having a hard time. Once he's even sent a whole pizza home with her, saying he'd baked too many, when the truth was he'd baked it just for the boys.

"Yummy," Andy said climbing up in his chair at the scratched and worn table in their tiny dining area.

"I made some tea. We didn't have any sugar, but I have some of these artificial sweeteners from work," she said trying to sound cheerful, even though she felt anything but cheerful.

Christmas was coming up and she worried that she wouldn't be able to provide any kind of celebration for the kids. Last year they'd been lucky and were invited to a friend's house, but that friend had since moved and with no relatives nearby it looked liked they were on their own this year.

Her paycheck barely paid the rent, and bought a few groceries and other necessities, let alone a holiday dinner or toys for the boys. She loved her boys and it broke her heart to see them go without for even the basic things in life.

"Momma, we made Christmas cards in class today," Andy said between bites of his maple bar.

"That's nice," his mother said leaning down to wipe some maple icing off his cute face, "I bet yours were really pretty."

"Uh huh, I made one for you and one for Cody and I'm gonna give em' too ya' tomorrow after the glue and glitter dry."

Cody smiled at his little brother but didn't say anything. Andy never complained or begged or acted as if being poor bothered him, and sometimes Cody wished he could be that way. But instead he was often filled with anger and disappointment, and though he knew his mom did the best she could, he sometimes directed those feeling toward her.

It wasn't fair that his dad ran off with another woman and left them alone, but then maybe if his mom had been nicer to him, maybe he wouldn't have left. It seemed like all they did was fight when they were together and eventually his dad had enough of it and he just left. Six months later they were divorced and his mom and two sons were living hand to mouth. 

Oh sure, the court had awarded his mom alimony, but his dad seldom worked and so far she hadn't seen a penny of the support promised her. His mom was poorly educated and finding a job wasn't all that easy, and one that coincided with the boys' schedule was even harder to find. 

"Cody,'re awful quiet. Are you okay?"

"Yes ma'am, I just have some stuff on my mind. Mom...can I go to the 7-11 at five and meet a friend?"

"A friend?" she asked incredulously, "Who is this boy? It is a boy isn't it?"

"Yeah, his name is Robbie. He wants to talk to me about something, that's all."

"Well, I suppose it would be okay, but why the 7-11?"

"Well, he lives kind of far and since I'd have to walk he said he's ride his bike there."

"Oh, all right," she said feeling bad for her son. A boy Cody's age should have a bike and she couldn't even provide that. 

"When will you be home, should I fix supper early?"

"No ma'am, the regular time is fine. If I'm late you can just save me some."

"All right," she said looking sad, "It's just mac and cheese anyway."

"Yummy," Andy said grinning, "I love mac and cheese."

Cody smiled, no matter how bad things were Andy could always see the good in any situation.

 Cody finished his cinnamon roll and tea and placed his glass in the sink and went off to the small bedroom he shared with Andy to do his homework. There was no desk, not even a chair, so he sat with his legs crossed on the bottom bunk and held his work on his lap.

Eventually Andy wandered in and sat down beside him and watched him for a few minutes before speaking.

"I wish you wouldn't go meet that boy. I don't like him, he....he looks mean."

Cody chuckled, "He's not mean, in fact he's actually pretty nice in some ways." He told Andy about the apple and what he'd said about helping him with his problem but Andy still wasn't convinced.

"I wish you'd just stay home. I miss you when you're gone."

"I'll be back in a little while, don't worry...okay?"

"Ooookay," the little boy sighed, and then falling back on the bed he was quiet for a long time.


'"What bubber?"

"Do you think there is really a Santa Claus?"

"Well, what do you think?" Cody asked fearful that his own beliefs would devastate his little brother.

"I think so, but I guess we're bad cause he don't bring us anything. How come Santa thinks we're bad?"

"I don't know Andy, maybe it cause of what happened with dad and all..."

"Do you miss daddy?"

"Sometimes, but mostly no..."

"Me either, he wasn't that nice to us...or to momma."

"But at least he paid the bills back then," Cody sighed.

"Yeah, now we're poor. Kids make fun of me cause we're poor. Do they do that to you too Cody?"

"Just the jerks," Cody said hotly.

"Is Robbie one of them?"

"No, not really. I mean he hangs with some of those guys, but he doesn't do the kind of stuff they do."

"But he's friends with those boys who do that stuff....right?"

Cody shrugged, Andy wasn't saying anything that he hadn't already thought in his head, but he still thought Robbie was differen,t and that he deserved a chance to state his case.

"I gotta go poop," Andy said hopping down, "see ya' later."

Cody finished his homework while Andy watched TV on their old set with it's broken rabbit ear antennae. There was no cable, and the color on the TV came and went but so far it hadn't given up the ghost yet.

"I'm going mom," Cody said grabbing his worn jacket and stocking cap.

"Be careful," she said looking worried, "are you sure you want to go meet this boy?"

"Yes ma'am, I'm sure. Bye now."

"Goodbye honey. See you soon."

The walk to the 7-11 was uneventful. The temperature had dropped, but the sky was clear and there was practically no wind that evening. The sun was slowly fading in the west, but the area was well lit and it was only a half block or so from the apartment to the store.

Robbie was already there, a sleek mountain bike beside him and he was wearing an expensive looking ski jacket and matching gloves.

"Hi, wasn't sure you were gonna come."

"I told you I would, I don't lie," Cody said needing to express his disdain to someone.

"K, come on inside, I'll buy us a Big Gulp."

Cody seldom ever drank soda, not because he didn't like it, but because it was a luxury his mom could seldom afford and so he accepted Robbie's offer graciously.

He got a Mt. Dew then added a squirt of cherry, stirred it and sipped it. The taste was amazing and the sugar and caffeine rush was almost immediate. Back outside Robbie suggested they go around to the side and sit down on the curb and drink their Big Gulps and talk.

There was seldom any traffic on that side of the store and there were no cars parked there at the moment, and they settled down on the sidewalk and leaned against the building sipping their drinks for a while before either spoke.

"I'm glad you came."

"You are? Why?"

"Cause it means you're starting to trust me."

"So far you haven't lied to me, so..."

"Still think I'm setting you up or something?" Robbie's tone was more amused than accusing.

Cody shrugged, "I guess not. I mean, why would you buy me this if you were gonna hurt me?" he said holding up his Big Gulp.

It bothered Robbie a little, that Cody would think he wanted to do him harm, but he supposed Cody was used to that sort of thing and it would take more than a few simple words to dispel his fears.

"I would never hurt you," Robbie said softly, and for some reason Cody believed him.

"So...what did you want to talk to me about?"

"About helping you...with the bullies."

Cody chortled, "But those bullies are your friends."

"Not really. I mean yeah, I hang out with them sometimes at school, but we're not really friends or anything. There's only one of two guys I see outside of school and they don't bully kids like the others."

"So it's okay to hang out with them as long as you don't do the same stuff they do?" Cody asked trying to sound as disgusted as he felt.

"Ouch, you don't let up, do you? How come you don't have this much balls when it comes to those guys?"

"Cause with you, I don't have to worry about getting beat up."

Robbie laughed, "I've been in a few fights, but I've never started one and...I would never hit anyone weaker than me unless they attacked me first."

"No worries there," Cody muttered, "I've never hit anyone before...but I've taken a few hits."

Robbie sighed, "Look, I'm sorry for being a jerk sometimes. I guess it's cause I don't want to be the brunt of their jokes anymore than you do."

"Why does anyone have to be made fun of, or bullied, or beat up?" Cody almost pleaded.

"I...I don't know. I don't make the rules. I'm just a kid like you," Robbie said feeling helpless and awkward.

"I don't think you can help me. I don't think anyone can," Cody said standing up suddenly, "Thanks for the pop, I gotta get home. It's mac and cheese night," he said giving Robbie a defiant look.

"Wait, don't go yet," Robbie said jumping up.

Cody sighed, "I'm listening."

Robbie frowned, "I thought I knew just what to say and just what to do, but I was wrong, but I'm not done yet. Will you give me a chance to figure things out? Will you talk to me again...when I figure it out?"

"Sure, but better be might wind up on the wrong side of the bullies."

That said, Cody strode off and didn't look back. He had saved half his drink for Andy and smiled when he thought how grateful the little boy would be. He felt more sorry for Andy than he did himself, and he shared what little he had, every chance he got.

"I'm home," Cody cried as he came in the front door.

Andy came running in and seeing the cup of soda he smiled shyly.

"I saved ya' some bubba," Cody said handing the little boy the cup and delighting in his excitement and gratitude.

"For me, thank you Cody. I love you sooo much," he said hugging Cody briefly before beginning to slurp down the sugary drink, "Yummy..."

Over dinner, mac and cheese and canned corn, they talked about their day, but when his mom asked about his meeting with Robbie he was vague. He just didn't feel like sharing his feelings about Robbie yet. He was still unsure of his motives and even if they were good, he wasn't convinced he could help him anyway.

After dinner he helped wash the dishes and the three of them watched a little TV before bedtime. Andy liked baths, but Cody preferred showers so he let Andy bathe first. While he waited he picked out his clothes for the next day and as usual he was depressed by the lack of choices in his closet. Just once he would have liked to have something new to wear, but he supposed that would have to wait till he was old enough to work and buy his own clothes.

Andy appeared a few minutes later dressed only in a pair of briefs that Cody had outgrown and once again depression set in. Poor Andy had it even worse, because as the youngest he was destined to inherit all of Cody's hand me downs, thus making his clothes even rattier than Cody's.

He grabbed a clean pair of worn greying briefs and trudged off to the bathroom to take his shower. The warm spray helped some, but he was still depressed and weary as he headed off to bed some time later and Andy picked up on his mood immediately.

"What's wrong Cody. Was that boy Robbie mean to you?" he said frowning.

"No, in fact he was pretty nice. He bought me that drink and we talked, that was all."

"Is he really your friend now?" Andy asked looking sad.

"I...I'm not sure yet, but don't worry, you're still my best friend."

Andy smiled and his smile lit up the whole room, "And you're my best friend in the whoooole world too."

Neither boy owned a pair of pajamas and simply slept in their underwear and after talking a bit Cody tucked Andy into the bottom bunk and climbed up on the top bunk and settled in.

When they'd first got the bunk beds Andy had begged to be on the top, but after falling while trying to get down to go pee one night, he asked Cody to switch and of course Cody agreed. He'd do anything for his little brother.

As Cody lay there that night he thought about Robbie and how good it had felt to actually talk with another boy his age. He'd never really had a friend, except Andy, but Andy was his brother and he wasn't sure that really counted. He was still a little wary of Robbie and doubted he could do much to help his situation, but it was nice to know someone cared enough to try.

He thought about Christmas then and  how unfair it was that Andy still believed in Santa and still didn't get any presents. He had long since given up believing in Santa or wishing for presents, but he guessed if there really was a Santa and he had to wish for one thing it would be to have a real friend. Someone he could share his life with and who would accept him as he was and always have his back. With that thought in his head he finally drifted off to sleep.

At lunch the next day Robbie surprised him by sitting at his table with him and Paul. Paul had the fight or flee look in his eyes, well more flee than fight, but Cody was merely curious.

"What about your gang?' Cody asked as he munched the dry cheese sandwich his mom had packed for him.

Robbie looked in the direction of the other table where the gang was chattering and pointing at an overweight boy who was trying to balance his tray on one hand while pulling out a chair. 

"I thought we could talk some more."

"Okay, what about?"

"I don't know, about anything, what do you and...Paul, right?" he said glancing at Paul,  "talk about?"

Cody was impressed that Robbie knew Paul's name, but Paul seemed horrified.

"I...gotta go," Paul said gathering up his uneaten lunch and dashing away before either of them could reply.

"Gosh, what got into him?" Robbie laughed.

"He's afraid of you." Cody said simply.

"Why, I've never done anything to him?"

"But you hang out with the guys who do, and that's enough to make you scary."

"What about you, are you scared of me?"

"Nope, not any more."

"Well, that's one good thing. What is that you're eating?" Robbie said eying Cody's sandwich.

"Cheese sandwich, ever had one?"

"Grilled cheese, but not cold."

"It's not bad. Want a bite?"

Robbie smiled, "Sure, trade you half of my turkey sandwich for it."

Cody realized Robbie was just being nice and for once he didn't let his pride get in the way. Instead he accepted Robbie's simple act of kindness and enjoyed himself.

"Hey, if we stack the two halves together we can make a whole sandwich," Robbie said doing just that, "Now it's a turkey and cheese sandwich."

Cody laughed and it felt good, "You seem a different person today."

"Maybe I am," Robbie said mysteriously, "maybe it's like that movie about the pods, I been replaced by an alien," he said straight faced.

Cody laughed again and this time the bullys at the other table noticed him and began to point.

"Hey Robbie, what are you doing at the loser's table?"

"Eating lunch," Robbie said looking anxious, he knew he was taking a huge risk by being seen with Cody, but he also knew it was the right thing to do, the thing he needed to do most.

"Careful you don't catch the cooties," the boy howled.

"Or AIDS," another added laughing, "I heard gay boys carry the germ."

"You should go," Cody said sadly.

"No, I won't go. I don't care what they say and they won't try anything with me cause they all know I can whip em' if they fight me."

"Not all of em' at once though."

"Maybe, maybe not, but they know someone would get hurt and they're really all cowards deep down inside."

"Why...why are you doing this? You had it made over their table, the popular table."

"Why? If you have to ask then you don't understand me yet. I hope you will...some day, but maybe you won't. Maybe I'm wrong about you," Robbie said mysteriously.

Cody frowned, "Wrong about me? What do you mean?"

"Forget it. I was wondering, if...maybe you would like to come over to my house Saturday. I have an X box and some cool games."

"I don't know..."

"You like video games don't you?"

"I don't know, I've never played any before."

"What? That's crazy," then realizing the reason for that Robbie frowned, "Well, I could teach you or we could play basketball in my driveway. I have a backboard and hoop on the garage."

"I'm not very good at sports either."

"So, who cares. It's just for fun, just us two. Come on, what do you say?"

"I guess I could ask my mom. I could walk over there as long as I'm back before dark."

"Okay then, ask her and let me know tomorrow."

Cody nodded and returned his attention to his lunch. It was amazing how much better food tasted when you had someone to talk to.

They finished their lunch and went back to the classroom, but instead of settling into their own seats they lingered near the windows and talked till the bell rang and the other students started to arrive.

"See ya' at recess," Robbie said smiling and Cody nodded.

When the bell rang signaling recess there was a mass exodus but Cody and Robbie held back till the others were gone. Mrs. Ward wondered what was going on with Robbie and Cody, but Cody seemed to be happy and comfortable with the boy so she assumed all was well.

Yesterday she had talked to the principal about Cody and had learned a bit more about his situation. She didn't mention her suspicions that the boy was being bullied, but she did insinuate that perhaps he needed closer supervision.

The principal had been sympathetic, but reminded her that there were almost three hundred students at LBJ and that they couldn't watch everyone of them every minute of the day.

She had simply nodded, but she was committed to keeping her own eyes open now and making sure nothing happened in her classroom even if she couldn't police the whole school.

There was something else she could do too, and she got the ball rolling on that as soon as she got home.

"Come on, let's go over there," Robbie said pointing toward a huge evergreen tree at the northwest corner of the school grounds.

"What's out there?" 

"You'll see, come on," Robbie said and then took off running.

Cody didn't run much, except to keep up with Andy, but he was fit and healthy despite being a little underfed and he was soon on Robbie's heels.  

"I'm gonna catch you," Cody giggled. It seemed like forever since he'd been this happy and the feeling was amazing.

Then with a sudden burst of speed Robbie took off like a jet and crashed into the tree and disappeared inside it's branches.

"Hey, where'd you go?"

"In  here," Robbie said peeking out and grinning like a Cheshire cat.

All Cody could see was his face and his grin was contagious.

When he got closer he could see that their was a niche carved out in the middle of the branches, no doubt from years of kids hiding or playing inside, and from a distance Robbie was completely hidden.

"Come on in, this is my secret hiding place. I've been playing here since I was in first grade. It seemed a lot bigger then."

Cody slowly entered the niche and soon stood side by side with a grinning Robbie. 

"How long  have you been going to this school?" Robbie asked getting serious for a moment.

"Since last year, I used to go to Roosevelt, but we moved over to this side of town when...when my dad left us."

Robbie frowned, well that explained why he didn't have a dad.

"I don't remember you from last year, who's class were you in?"

"Mrs. Atkins."

"I had old lady Saunders, consider yourself lucky," he said rolling his eyes.

Cody smiled, "Yeah, Mrs. Atkins was pretty nice.

Robbie looked at Cody for a moment then sighed, "Do you like me?"

"What? I mean...yeah, I guess," Cody said screwing up his cute face.

"Oh, okay. Well...cause I like you," Robbie said blushing.

"I don't really know you that well...yet, but you seem nice I guess, now that you aren't hanging around with those other boys."

"How an I prove to you that I am nice and that I won't hurt you or anything?"

"I don't know, just do what you been doing I guess. I mean we only been talking for two days now."

Robbie smiled and relaxed a little. He knew it wouldn't be easy, but he also knew he had to try. The butterflies in his tummy told him that he liked this boy and he felt really bad about the way he was being treated.

He didn't care that Cody was poor, or that he only had a mom and no dad, that he wore hand me down clothes, and ate plain cheese sandwiches. He liked Cody for who he was and now that he'd actually talked to him and got to know him a little, he liked him even more.

Suddenly he felt his heart beating faster and within a few minutes it was beating so hard he feared it would leap out of his chest. He felt those butterflies too and he felt all hot and thumpy. What was happening? he wondered.

Cody didn't feel quite as confused or thumpy, but something was definitely happening and he wasn't sure he liked whatever it was that he was feeling. He'd never had a friend before, not a real one, and he didn't know the first thing about being one. 

He supposed that he and Robbie could eventually be friends, but things like that took time, didn't they? and they'd only just met. Anyway they were from two different worlds, and he didn't think they had that much in common. He figured Robbie's folks must be rich to live in the neighborhood they did, and Robbie was always dressed in the latest fashions with Nikes or Addias shoes and an Under Armor backpack and a new bike and good food at lunch time. 

The more Cody thought about it, the more he thought it was a waste of time, but still there was this feeling deep inside that said maybe he should give it a try. After all, what did he have to loose?

Their thoughts were interrupted suddenly as three boys came crashing into the clearing, laughing and shouting. When they saw the two startled boys they stopped quickly and looked them over.

"What the hell?" The one name Larry asked looking confused at first, "Were you two homos doin' it in here?"

"Shut up Larry," Robbie said balling up his fists, "Or I'll shove my fist down your throat.

"What were you doing? Getting ready to teach the faggot a lesson?" One of the other boys smirked, "Cause we can help...right guys?"

"I'm not a faggot," Cody said defiantly. Maybe Robbie was right, maybe he needed to speak up for himself and not lay down every time someone started in on him.

"Prove it," the third boy growled.

"He don't have to prove nothing to you," Robbie said gently directing Cody toward the opening, "Come on, it's almost time for the bell."

The three boys stood aside looking at Robbie as if he had lost him mind, but they waited till he and Cody were out of striking range before speaking.

"Man what happened to you. I thought you were cool," Larry said making a face.

"So did I, but you know what? I was wrong. All of you are wrong, being cool doesn't mean beating little kids up or pushing kids around, or calling them names and making them scared to just come to school. Cool means being a good person and a friend and if you can't see that, well...then I got no use for any of you."

The three stared after Robbie and Cody as they made their way back to the school, but nothing was said as they quietly followed at a distance. None of them was strong enough or tough enough to take on Robbie, but they figured once word got out that he'd defected some of the tougher boys would handle things.

"That was nice, what you did back there," Cody said sincerely.

Robbie shrugged, "You stood up for yourself this time. That was cool. Did you see the look on Larry's face. It was a total shock to him."

"Yeah, well...I wouldn't have done it if you it wasn't for what you said...and because I wasn't alone."

"Look, I can't always be there, but when I am I have your back. I promise that."

"Do you think those boys will try to get even or something?" Cody asked sounding worried.

"I don't know, but just be careful...okay?"

"I will, thanks."

"Are you starting to trust me?" Robbie said grinning.

"Yeah, so...don't let me down," Cody said grinning back.

They walked in silence the rest of the way to class but once they were inside the classroom Robbie excused himself and went up to talk to Mrs. Ward.

"Excuse me ma'am," Robbie said politely, "I was wondering if it would be all right if I took the empty seat next to Cody? It's closer to the front and I can see the blackboard better."

Mrs. Ward wasn't fooled for a minute as to why Robbie wanted to move, but as long as he and Cody didn't talk or disrupt the class she was fine with the switch. If this boy was watching out for Cody all of sudden then it would make her job easier.

"All right, we can try it, but I expect you to be on your best behavior," she said with just enough starch to cause Robbie to squirm.

"Yes ma'am I will. Thank you," Robbie said grinning. Then dashing off to his old desk he grabbed his things and moved them to the one next to Cody.

"What are you doing?" Cody said looking amused.

"I ask to move up here by you, is that okay?" Robbie said hoping he hadn't crossed a boundary.

"She let you?" he said sounding surprised.

"Sure, is it okay with you?"

"Yeah, I think it's cool," Cody said grinning.

That night after dinner Cody decided to breach the subject of going to Robbie's on Friday. 

"Good dinner mom, let me help you with the dishes."

Andy had bounced off to take his bath and Cody wanted to talk to her before he finished.

His mom washed and  he dried and when she handed him the first dish he began.

"Uh, know that boy Robbie, the one I met at 7-11?"

"Yes son, are you two getting along okay?"

"Yeah, he's actually pretty cool. He ummm...even moved in class so he sits by me now," he said smiling.

"I hope you boys don't talk and get into trouble."

"We don't mom. See he just sort of watches out of me and I guess it's easier if he's close."

"Watches out for you? What do you mean? Has someone being bothering you?"

Cody wished he's chosen his words more carefully. He hadn't told his mother about the bullying because he didn't want to worry her, and now he'd let it slip.

"No nothing like that, I mean you know how some kids say stuff, that's all, and Robbie's tough and kids don't mess with him, that's all."

His mother stopped washing dishes and turned to her oldest son, "If someone was hurting'd tell me right?"

"Sure mom, it's nothing like that. Just name calling that's all."

"Still, that's serious stuff, you should tell someone at school."

", it's no big deal and anyway with Robbie around other kids don't do that stuff."

"Well, this boy sounds nice, but  I want to meet him before I give you permission to go to his house and I'll want to talk to his mother."

Cody figured as much, but he'd hoped that just once his mother would take his word for it.

"Okay, I'll tell him tomorrow, thanks mom," he said giving her a big smile.

"Oh,'s not that I don't trust you, it's just that I love you so much and I want to make sure you're safe."

"I know, it's okay...I'll tell him and see what he says."

She sighed, "All right. I'm sure if he's really serious about being your friend he will understand."

The next day at lunch Cody dropped the news on Robbie and to his surprise Robbie seemed to shrug it off. 

"I can come over this evening if it's okay and she can meet me and then call my mom. I've already told her I invited you over and she said that was fine."

Cody smiled, maybe this was going to be easier than he thought. If his mom liked Robbie, and he was sure she would, and Robbie's mom told her it was okay, then how could she say no?

The day passed quickly and by the time the final bell rang Cody was anxious to get home. He said goodbye then went off to meet Andy so they could catch their bus home.

As usual they Cody walked down to Andy's classroom and as soon as Andy saw him he came bouncing up.

"Hi Cody, did you have a good day?"

"Yes, did you?" Cody asked taking his smaller brother's hand.

"Hey faggot, is that your boyfriend?" someone called from behind them.

Andy frowned and pulled hard on Cody's hand trying to speed him along, but something snapped inside of Cody at that moment and instead he came to a halt and spun around to see one of the boys from yesterday, the one named Larry.

"I'm not a faggot and this is my little brother," Cody said defiantly.

"So, you do it with your brother then?" the kid laughed, "that's even sicker."

"Why do you hate me?" Cody shouted causing Larry to back up a bit, "Why can't you just leave me alone? I've never done anything to you or your buddies. I'm just a kid like you, that's all, except I don't make fun of kids or bully them like you."

"You're so pathetic," the kid said finally regaining his composure, "Look at you, you dress like you got your clothes at the Salvation Army and your hair is a mess and you don't even have food to eat. You're a total waste of space."

Ordinarily words like that would have cut Cody like a knife and brought tears to eyes, but since he'd met Robbie he was learning to stand up for himself. And though they'd only been hanging for a few days he could see the changes that Robbie was causing in him and he was emboldened by them.

"How is that my fault? If you were a decent human being you would feel sorry for me, maybe try to help me, but instead you just make me feel worse about things I can't do anything about. I can't help it that my dad ran off and left my mom to raise us alone. She does the best she can, but there's not enough money for new clothes, or shoes, or"

Now Cody was near tears and if not for the intervention of Mrs. Kirk he might very well have broken down at that point.

Stepping from the doorway of her classroom where she had overheard the entire exchange of words she cleared her throat and looked menacingly at Larry.

"Young man, I want to see you right the principals office. Cody, Andy I want you to come too. Mr. Murray needs to hear in your own words what happened."

"I didn't do nothin'," Larry grumbled, but he knew he was in trouble and once his dad found out about it he'd be in even worse trouble. His father would never understand how he was so stupid to get caught picking on another kid, even if it was from his father that he learned such behavior.

Mr. Murray looked up from his computer as Mrs. Ward stormed into his office with Larry in tow. She's asked Cody and Andy to wait out front while she brought Mr. Murray up to speed, but Cody was tempted to just leave and take Andy with him.

They would surely miss their bus and have to walk home and it was almost three miles. He didn't worry for himself, but he knew Andy could never make it that far without resting often. Then there was Robbie, he was supposed to come over and meet his mom after school, but if Cody wasn't home that couldn't happen.

"Cody, Andy," Mrs. Kirk called after a few minutes, "please come in now."

As they entered Larry was giving Cody and Andy go-to-hell looks and scowling in an attempt no doubt to discourage  his telling the truth, but Cody just ignored him.

"Now then Cody what is this all about?" Principal Murray asked leaning back in his chair, "Suppose you tell your side of the story..."

Cody took a deep breath and began trying to remember all that was said by both of them and when he was finished he looked at Mrs. Kirk and added, "And then Mrs. Kirk asked us to come with her to your office."

"I see, and was this the first time Larry or any other boy has picked on you or called you names?"

"No sir," Cody said meeting the man's eyes despite his fears.

"I see, and would you like to tell me who those other boys are?"

"I'd rather not," Cody said as his heart beat fast in his chest, "I don't think all of them are bad, I just think....I just think they don't understand how much it hurts other kids when they do that stuff. I think they just need to be told how bad it is, but not punished. I don't want to see anyone get in trouble over this, not even Larry," he said turning to look at Larry who was white with shock at Cody's words.

"Noble words Mr. Miller, but this school has a zero tolerance for this sort of thing. I would be derelict in my duties if I did no follow up on this and punish those responsible, but of course if you won't tell me who they are..."

"Thank you sir," Cody said, "I'd prefer to try to handle this myself for now."

"I can't let Larry off the hook so easily however. A teacher, Mrs. Kirk, witnessed the entire event and there is no going back now."

"Larry, you are to be suspended for two days, starting tomorrow. I will call your parents and explain that you are not to come back to school till Tuesday of next week. Do you have anything to say to Cody and his brother?"

"Sorry," Larry muttered, but there was never a less genuine apology in history.

"Can we go now sir?" Cody said softly, "if we miss the bus it's a long way to walk home."

Mr. Murray looked at his watch, "I'm afraid you already have. Is there no one who can come pick you up?"

"No sir, my mom...she uh, doesn't have a car. She rides the bus to work and back."

"I see, well...I'm just about finished here. Why don't you wait in the outer office and I'll drop you off on my way home?"

"Cody was relieved that they had a ride home, but nervous about spending time alone in the car with Mr. Murray. What if he pressed him to tell who the other boys were, or insisted on talking to his mother about what had happened?

He was gnawing on a fingernail when suddenly Robbie burst into the office and came over to where he and Andy sat.

"What happened, I was just ready to get on my bus when I heard that some kid and his little brother got taken to the office and I figured it was you."

Cody gave Robbie an abbreviated version of what had happened and sighed.

"So now we gotta wait for Mr. Murray and he's gonna take us home."

"Huh uh, I got this covered. I already called my mom and she's on the way. You can ride home with  us."

At first Cody started to object, but the thought of riding home with Mr. Murray was all it took to get him to agree.

"Your mom can talk to my mom and meet me and we can take care of everything at once."

"Yeah, that sounds okay....but what if my mom wants to know why we missed the bus?"

"I think you should tell her the truth. I know that might sound strange, but I think the truth is the best thing right now. If you start keeping things from her and she finds out...well, she might not ever trust you again."

Cody had to admit what Robbie said made sense, but he was afraid the truth might mess up his going to Robbie's the next evening. In the end he decided to take Robbie's advice and just let things happen however they would.

Robbie's mom was a chubby woman of medium height with dark brown hair and a cute face with an infectious smile. Cody liked her immediately based on looks alone, but when she began talking to him and Andy as if she had known them all their lives he really warmed up to  her.

Andy liked her too, but of course Andy pretty much like everyone, although he wasn't too sure about Robbie yet. It wasn't that he disliked Robbie, it was just that he was a little jealous to think someone might be taking Robbie away from him.

When they reached Cody's apartment Robbie's mom parked out front and Cody led the way, butterflies filling his stomach and his body trembling with uncertainty.

He need not have worried about him mom not liking Robbie's mom, because they seemed to hit it off right away and before long were chatting like old friends. Robbie grinned at Cody as if to say "told ya so" and waited for his mother to introduce him.

"Robbie says he's invited Cody over tomorrow to visit for a little while. I appreciate the fact that you wanted to meet us first and I hope after doing so that you will allow him to come. I assure you the boys will be supervised, not that they probably need it," she laughed, "but we wouldn't want them burning the house down."

Cody's mom actually laughed, something Cody hadn't heard in a long time, and he smiled. Now is he could just get past what happened at school, he thought he'd be home free.

"I am curious though, how is that you wound up bringing the boys home, was that planned or did the boys miss their bus?"

"I think Cody should be the one to tell you about that," Robbie's mom said giving Cody a gentle smile, "Maybe in private. We should be getting home anyway. It's been nice meeting you and you boys, they seem like two very sweet boys."

"Thank you, your son seems nice too. Cody has told me a little about him, now that I've met him I see why Cody is so comfortable with him. Cody doesn't have many friends and it's nice to see him make a new one."

They said their goodbyes at the door and Robbie gave Cody a thumbs up sign as he turned to follow his mother down the stairs. 

Once the door was shut his mother turned to Cody and with her hands on  her hips she said, "Well....?"

Cody considered white-washing the story and downplaying the bullying, but in the end he told the truth, the whole truth, and trusted in his mother's sense of fair play to dictate her actions.

"Oh Cody, why didn't you tell me about these boys...about this abuse?"

"Well, for one thing I didn't want to worry you. I mean it's not like they did anything to me or hurt me. They just say mean things, that's all. But when Robbie's around they don't do it as much. He wasn't there today and the kid, Larry was mad because he tried to pick on me the day before and Robbie was with me then."

She shook her head to try to clear her thoughts then frowned, "As much as I would like to believe it's no big deal, I think it is and I intend to talk to the principal and your teachers about this. But as far as Robbie is concerned, I think he is a good influence, or at least someone who will help you if you get into, I am going to allow you to go to his house and to continue to see him...but, I will be watching him closely."

"Thank mom, I love you," Cody said throwing his arms around his mother and kissing her cheek.

He was 11 and though his acts of spontaneous affection less frequent than when he was younger, this occasion was certainly deserving of one. He didn't know why he was so happy, but he was happier than he could remember being in a long time. Maybe Robbie was the friend he's wished for and even gotten so desperate as to ask Santa for. He laughed at that, maybe he'd wake up Christmas morning and find Robbie  under their scraggly old Christmas tree with a bow on his head.

Cody was especially helpful all evening and his mother smiled as she observed him. She couldn't remember the last time she had seen him this happy and she felt bad knowing part of his past sadness was because of some of the choices she had made. Not that she could have done too many things differently, but she knew their state of near poverty had a lot to do with Cody's unhappiness and was the root of his bullying.

If only she could find a better job, she mused, or find a man she loved and get married again. What if, what if, she sighed. Life was what it was and there was nothing she could do but trudge on and make the best of it.

Andy was especially quiet all through dinner and the rest of the evening and Cody was pretty sure he knew why. Andy's funk sort of put a damper on his own enthusiasm, but he was too happy to let it get him down. He knew he could make it up to Andy later and soon he's forget all about it. But that did pose another problem, if he and Robbie did become friends and start hanging out, how would that affect Andy? He supposed he's figure that out if and when it happened, after all this was only their second time to hang out outside of school.

That night as he tucked Andy in the little boy finally voiced his fears.

"Will you still play with me now that you and Robbie are friends?"

"Of course. We live together and sleep in the same room, we'll always have time together. But sometimes I may want to just have fun with Robbie or hang out, sort of like you and Peter.

Peter was a kid from Andy's class that he stuck to like glue while at school and once had even had him over a couple times to play since he lived in the same apartment complex.

"Okay," Andy said yawning, "anyway I like Robbie, he's nice."

"He likes you too, I can tell. Maybe all three of us can be friends."

"Yeah, that sounds fun," he said barely able to keep his eyes open any longer, "Nite nite Cody...I love you."

"I love you too bubba, nite. See ya in the morning."

The next day Robbie hit Cody up as soon as he got off the bus.

"Well, what did she say? If she said yes, then my mom said she would pick you up from your place, cause I know you got to make sure Andy gets home first."

"She said she didn't think you or your mother were very good people," Cody teased in a very un-Cody-like way, "and that you smelled funny."

At first Robbie looked crushed, then seeing the grin on Cody's face he decided to get a little pay back for his teasing.

"Oh, well...I'm sort of glad, cause I was just being nice and all...I really don't like you that much."

But suddenly Robbie realized his joke had backfired when he saw the hurt look on Cody's face. In fact he looked near tears.

"You...mean that?" Cody choked out.

"No silly, I was teasing, cause I thought you were teasing. You were teasing...weren't you?" Robbie said frowning.

"I'm sorry...I thought I was being funny. I didn't mean what I said, mom said she trusted you and liked you...." Cody offered.

"I'm sorry too. I was just teasing you back. I do like you and I want you to come over, and well...I want us to be friends."

"I know," Cody said grinning, "Got ya'...twice," he said giggling.

"Why guy," Robbie laughed, "I guess this means you're starting to get me, and to feel more comfortable around me."

"I do," Cody said seriously, "or I wouldn't' have said yes when you asked me to come over."

"But you didn't feel that way the other day," Robbie said grinning, "are you starting to trust me more now?"

"I think...I think I trust you more than any person in the whole world," Cody said speaking from the heart and feeling a little emotional.

"Gee, don't get so mushy," Robbie laughed, to hide his own emotional state.

"Sorry, you asked," Cody blushed.

"I know, come on let's get to class. I can't wait for this day to be over so we can have some fun at my house."


The morning passed slowly and by lunch both boys were hungry and anxious for the day to be over. Robbie took a seat beside Cody at the table he shared with Paul and a few other of the outcasts and this time Paul didn't bolt when he saw Robbie.

Robbie tried to pull Paul into their conversation but all he was able to get out of him were one word replies or grunts and he finally gave up. Across the cafeteria at the bad boys table the discussion was focused on what had happened to Larry and how unfair they all thought it was.

"Yeah, that faggot got Larry suspended. We should suspend him...from life," one of them laughed.

"Shut up," Doug Henry said, "no one touch that fag, he's mine," he said not really thinking about how that sounded.

A few of the boys covered their mouths to hide there smiles, but no one took advantage of the opening, no one dared cross Doug. Instead they went back to eating their lunch and talking about sports and video games and who did what to whom.

After lunch Robbie and Cody went to the restroom together and for once Cody felt safe there. Even if some of the bullies came in he knew he was safe with Robbie nearby and that was refreshing for a boy who found himself holding his bladder for long periods for fear of being attacked in the boys room.

Mrs. Ward seemed especially chipper that day and that afternoon she let the students choose what they wanted to do. Of course there were the usual jokers who's suggestions were to go home, but several of the better students had some good ideas. Encouraged by their ideas, Cody voiced one of his own.

"I think we should read the Christmas Carol," Cody said then blushed.

He heard a few groans, but just as may "yeahs", and "good ideas", and so he didn't feel too stupid.

"I think that's an excellent idea," Mrs. Ward said smiling, "Would you like to start us off Cody," she said pulling the book from the stack on her desk. They had discussed the book in English class, but not in detail, and Cody had found it interesting even if not very believable. He'd seen several of the movies based on the book, but until this year he's never even knew there was a book.

Since there was only one copy Mrs. Ward brought the book up on her computer and projected it on the overhead projector and kept up with the current reader. Cody was first and though nervous at the beginning, he soon found his voice and immersed himself in the story.

Mrs. Ward was pleased with his voice and inflection and let him read for quite some time before asking for a volunteer to read next. She pointed to a girl in the back and Cody met her half way and passed the book over to her.

Robbie was the last to read and seemed as enthusiastic as Cody had been and when he read that final paragraph, "He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!", he closed the book and set it down and smiled at Cody.

Cody felt like clapping, but refrained from doing so and returned Robbie's smile tenfold. He didn't know exactly what he was feeling for Robbie, but it was nice, even if it was a bit confusing and distressing at times.

Robbie was having similar feelings, but he was more sure of what he was feeling and less distressed. He'd always been an outgoing and confident boy and now that Cody trusted him he was sure they could become friends. Maybe even more than friends, he thought as butterflies filled his stomach. Not that he knew exactly what that meant, but then this part was all so new to him. He'd had friends before, but he'd never felt about another boy like he felt for Cody. If he had been older and more experienced he might have recognized his feelings as the beginning of a crush, but since this was his first, it was an unknown quantity at the moment.

When the final bell rang the boys headed out quickly and went to gather up Andy. He was waiting outside the classroom and when he saw the two he smiled and headed toward them.

"Hi Andy, how was your day?" Cody asked giving his little brother a one handed hug.

Robbie observed with interest, thinking it was sweet of Cody to treat his little brother so well, but having no siblings of his own, he didn't know if that was the norm or just the way Cody was.

"Hi Robbie," Andy said giving Robbie a smile. Despite his misgivings about Cody making a new friend, he found himself liking Robbie. Maybe Cody was right, maybe the three of them could be friends and that would be a good thing.

Robbie walked the two to their bus and as they boarded he said goodbye and reminded Cody that they'd be over to pick him up around 4:30. Then he walked over to the pick up area to find his mom.

She was idling at the curb in her Ford Edge and when Robbie climbed in she gave him a smile and asked about his day. Robbie loved his mom, and of his two parents, felt closer to her. Not that he wasn't close with his dad, but he spent more time with his mom and she always seemed to know what was on his mind, his moods, and more importantly how to handle them.

"Great mom, we got to read a story in English class today. It was A Christmas Carol, you know that one with Scrooge, and Cody and me nailed it."

"Cody and I," she chucked.

"Oh, did you and Cody read it too?" Robbie teased.

"You really like this boy, don't you?"

", you know...he's cool and all and you said I should make friends..." Robbie said blushing.

She smiled, "I'm happy for you Robbie, I've just never seen you take to someone so quickly. He must be a very special young man."

Robbie was silent for a few minutes then he began to tell his mom about how they had met and confessed that at one time he was part of the group that harassed Cody.

"Robbie, I'm shocked to say the least," she said giving him the mother's eye, then smiling she added, "But at least you finally saw what you were doing was wrong and fixed it. Is that why you feel you need to become friends with this boy, to make up for what you did?"

Robbie shrugged, "At first maybe, but then I got to know him, I really like him. He can't help it that he only has him mom and that they don't' have much money. Sometimes he doesn't even have lunch money or anything to eat. Sometimes I would give him something from my lunch, like an apple or something, but his pride kept him for asking for help I guess."

Robbie's mom looked as if she were about to cry, "Oh Robbie, that's the boy I know and love. See, even when you were with those other boys you still let your heart guide you and cause you to do the right thing."

Robbie blushed beneath his mother's appraisal, "I just did what you and dad taught me," he said grinning, "and then I found out what a neat kid he was and well...I want to be his friend and not just because I felt sorry for him."

"Well, I have to say after hearing all this I am even more in favor of the two of you becoming friends. And we'll make sure he has lunch from now on, I'll pack enough for both of you...if you thing you can convince him to accept that small favor."

"Thanks mom, I'll find a way. He trusts me now and he knows I care about him and won't let those other boys mess with him."

"Just don't get yourself into any trouble young man. If it gets too far out of hand, get a teacher involved. LBJ is supposed to have a zero tolerance harassment code."

Robbie grunted, "Only if they see something and believe me, they don't go looking for stuff." Then he told her about the first day when Cody had the chips dumped on him and got tripped and how the teacher on duty pretty much ignored it.

"That's outrageous, I guarantee next meeting I will be bringing up this issue with the school board."

"Aww...just don't get too excited," Robbie teased, "I don't want you to get detention."

"Oh you," she laughed. Then sobering she looked thoughtful for a moment before speaking again, "I wish I could think of some way to help this boy and his family. Maybe I'll talk with the others in the PTA and see if we can come up with something."

"Just be careful mom, these people have their pride you know. It took me a while to figure it out  myself, but it's important to them to feel like they can take care of themselves, even when they sometimes need some help."

"I'm so proud of you" his mother said patting his leg, "You have become a fine young man and you are doing something very important here, helping another human being to fit in and feel good about himself. I promise I'll be careful, but I want to help too."

They arrived at Cody's right on time and Cody was waiting on the curb. Andy was at the door looking sad as he waved goodbye, and suddenly Cody felt bad about leaving him. He considered asking Robbie and his mom if Andy could come too, but it was too soon in their friendship for that so he simple bottled up his feeling and put on a happy face.

Robbie had climbed out so he could ride in the back seat with Cody and as Cody slid in he thanked Robbie's mom for picking him up.

"You're welcome Cody. Any time you need a ride just let Robbie know."

"Thanks," Cody said blushing. Why were these people being so nice to him?

"Hey, I thought maybe we could start by playing some b-ball then play some video games," Robbie said as they piled out a short time later.

"Okay, but I'm not very good at sports and you'll have to teach me how to play video games."

"No problem," Robbie said grinning, "but first I have to go change out of school clothes or mom will kill me," he laughed.

Cody was still wearing the same clothes he'd worn to school. For him there were no good clothes or bad clothes, they were all the same and changing was a waste of clean laundry.

Cody was amazed at the size of Robbie's  house and as he followed him upstairs to his room he began to have misgivings about trying to be friends with someone so much out of his own social status. But Robbie didn't act stuck or rich or whatever and he really liked him, he had to admit to himself. He didn't know exactly why he liked Robbie so much, but he did, and he wanted to be with him, even if he didn't feel like he exactly fit into his world.

Robbie's room was huge compared to the small bedroom he and Andy shared. There was a full size bed, a desk and chair with a computer, a flat screen TV on the wall and a gaming system beneath it on a stand. There was a mirrored dresser and an upright chest and even a chair and there was still room left over. 

The room was neat, which reflected Robbie's personality, with just a hint of that lived in feel that a boys' room needed.

"Wow, your room is awesome," Cody said looking around in awe.

"Thanks, I like it. Mom made me clean it since I was having company," he laughed, "it's not always this neat, but pretty close. Sometimes I get lazy."

"Go ahead sit down, I'll just grab some clothes and get changed and then we can go shoot some hoops."

Cody chose the chair at the desk and sat down and watched as Robbie dug some sweats out of a drawer and pulled a tee shirt from his closet. Then toeing off his shoes he began to undress.

Cody was shocked. He had expected Robbie to go the bathroom to change or something, but he realized this made more sense. After all they were both boys and it was no big deal, and he wasn't going to get naked or anything.

But when Robbie stripped down to his fashionable boxer briefs, Cody took one look then had to look away. The feelings running through his body were terrifying. He felt a stiffening between his legs and his heart was beating almost out of his chest. He knew he had to be blushing, because he felt hot and thumpy inside. What was happening to him, he wondered, was he sick or was it something else...did he like Robbie in a bad way?

He knew some boys liked other boys and that was called gay, but he'd never really thought too much about it. He'd never thought about boys or girls as sexy and had only recently discovered what all boys eventually do, that he could pleasure himself with his hand, but he didn't really connect that with anyone else, boy or girl.

He knew he shouldn't be thinking about Robbie's body as looking good or exciting, but he couldn't help himself. In his eyes Robbie was just about perfect. His body was lean but muscled and his skin smooth and blemish free and looked tanned despite the fact that it was winter. But his most redeeming feature was his face, his thick dark lashes and eyebrows, his warm brown eyes, his cute upturned nose, his smile, and those dimples.

Cody shook his head to clear it. That was sick, he thought, thinking about Robbie that way. He was just a boy, just like he was and nothing special to look out, only he knew that wasn't true. In his eyes Robbie was just about perfect and he felt for him things he had never felt for anyone else and it was scary, and yet somehow exciting.

"Ready?" Robbie said pulling Cody out of his funk, "Let's go," he said grabbing a basketball from his closet and leading the way again.

The fresh air did a lot to revive Cody and get his mind off his previous thoughts, but suddenly he was faced with a new dilemma. Because he'd never had many friends, and the ones he had were quiet and academic like him, he'd never learned to be a rough and tumble boy, let alone play the games most boys do.

Robbie could feel Cody's misgivings and he was determined to help him get over them. First he demonstrated how to dribble the ball then how to shoot and after making several baskets he handed the ball over to Cody.

Cody held the ball as if it was some deadly snake and finally gave dribbling a try only to have the ball bounce away from him and hit the garage door. Robbie scooped it up and dribbled it back to Cody and this time he stood behind him and held his hand as he demonstrated how to bounce the ball off his hand without letting it get away.

Cody was suddenly aware of Robbie's warm body pressed against his and the subtle scent that he'd come to recognize as uniquely Robbie's and his nervousness increased ten fold. He knew Robbie was only trying to help, but this wasn't working. He was almost ready to give it up and just go home when suddenly Robbie pulled away and moved around to face him.

"I'm sorry, I know this is all new to you, but I only want to help. It's not gonna happen overnight, but this is a start. Now give it one more try...please, for me," he said giving Cody puppy dog eyes and that killer smile that no one could resist.

"Okay," Cody sighed, "here goes." And this time he actually managed to dribble the ball a short distance before it got away.

"That's it," Robbie said enthusiastically, "just like that. Don't worry about it getting away, it happens to everyone at one time or another. Now try shooting a basket."

Cody looked up at the backboard and the net and had never felt so intimidated by anything in his whole life. How could he possibly get the ball to fall through that tiny hoop? But Robbie was counting on him to try, and suddenly it was more important not to disappoint Robbie then it was to save face.

"Hold on, let me help you," Robbie said moving  behind Cody again, "Move you feet apart just a little", he said softly. "and hold you arms up like this...yeah that's it. Now hold the ball just with your fingertips and arch up and..let it rip."

Cody's first attempt at a basket resulted with the ball clearing the backboard completely and bouncing against the garage.

"That was great shot," Robbie shouted enthusiastically, "Now try again, just keep your eye on the net and let it go."

This time the ball made it to the rim and rolled around teasingly before going over the edge and bouncing on the driveway.

"You almost did it, that was awesome," Robbie said excitedly and his excitement was contagious.

So much so that the next attempt resulted in a basket and both boys went crazy then, jumping up and down and hugging one another until their excitement abated. 

Then suddenly they were standing there still hugging one another and gazing into each other's eyes. They stood there for what seemed like an eternity then Cody finally pulled away, his face flushed and his heart thumping in his chest.

"Thanks...uh for teaching me to shoot and to dribble," Cody said shyly.

"Hey, there's nothing to it. You got skills dude and you'll get better the more we play. Come on I'll show you some trick shots."

They spent another hour working on Cody's basketball skills and by the time they went in Cody was elated at how well he was catching on. With Robbie coaching him and being supportive it was easy to learn and he attributed most of his new found skills to Robbie's patience.

"That was fun," Cody said wiping sweat from his cute face."

"There are lots of fun things we can do," Robbie said then blushed at the implications of that. 

"I can't wait to learn, with you as a teacher it's easy...not like at school," he said frowning.

"Well, now that you know how to shoot hoops we can try them out at school at recess and you'll get even better."

"I don't know, all the other guys might make fun of me."

"So what? The best way to shut them up is to show them you're trying and improving. Besides with me around they're not gonna say too much."

"I can't keep letting you fight my battles," Cody said once they were inside.

"Don't worry about that, come on...let's get a snack, I'm starved," Robbie regretted the word starved as soon as he'd said it. Unlike Cody he had never known hunger of any kind and had just taken having food to eat for granted, but since meeting Cody he had a whole new respect for his parents and for his life.

Mrs. Green was just putting something in the oven when the two appeared and she smiled when she saw them.

"I bet you  two boys are hungry, I just took a batch of chocolate chip cookies out of the oven, they should be cool enough to eat. Robbie dear why don't you pour you and your friend some milk and take your snack to your room?"

"Thanks mom, you're the best," Robbie said giving her a kiss on the cheek and receiving a big smile in return.

Robbie put four large cookies on a plate and poured two tall glasses of milk and handed one to Cody, "Come on, we can play a video game while we eat."

The cookies smelled so good and Cody was hungry but he managed to wait till Robbie had the game set up and began eating before he took the first bite of his cookie.

"Mmmm...these are really good," Cody said smiling with is whole face.

"My mom is a really good cook. Hey! I was wondering...think your mom would let you stay for dinner? We're having meatloaf and my mom makes the best meatloaf in the whole world."

"I don't know," Cody said losing a bit of his smile. He really wanted to stay, mostly just to be around Robbie, but he knew Andy would be eating mac and cheese or a bologna sandwich and it didn't seem fair that he should eat a delicious home cooked meal. Still, it would mean more food for Andy if he ate at Robbie's, "I guess I could call my mom and ask. Are you sure it's okay with your folks?"

"Oh yeah, no problem there. We always have plenty of food and mom loves to feed my friends. When we finish our snack you can go call your mom."

While they ate their snack Robbie showed Cody the basics of the video game and surprisingly Cody picked up on the nuances of the game quickly. He had good hand/eye coordination, as did most kids his age, and once he got used to the controller he found the game pretty easy and a lot of fun.

"Let's go call your mom then we can come back and play some more, okay?"

Robbie showed Cody how to pause the game and grabbing up the empty plate and glasses he led Cody downstairs.

"Mom can Cody stay for dinner?" Robbie yelled as they came into the kitchen.

"I thought that was the plan," Mrs. Green teased, why else would I go to all this trouble, cooking and all?"

"Okay, good. He's gonna call his mom and see if it's okay."

"All right dear, that's fine. You don't have any food allergies do you Cody?"

"No ma'am, not that I know of. I eat pretty much anything," he said blushing.

"Good, because I tend to cook with a variety of spices and exotic ingredients," she chuckled.

Cody didn't know if she was teasing or not, but he liked the way she treated him...and Robbie for that matter, and he felt very comfortable around her.

He used the cordless phone in the family room to call his mom and she answered on the first ring. At first she sounded concerned, but when she heard what Cody wanted she relaxed some.

"Are you sure you want to stay dear?"

"Yeah mom, if it's okay. Mrs. Green said they would drive me home after. Is 8 o'clock to late to be gone?"

"No dear, that's fine. We'll see when you get home."

Cody should have felt happy, he supposed, but he felt a little guilty knowing Andy would probably be missing him and sad that he wasn't coming home sooner.

"She said it was fine," Cody said softly hanging up the phone.

"All right!" Robbie cheered as he slapped Cody on the back.

Robbie's enthusiasm soon spread to Cody and he forgot about his guilt and misgivings and started enjoying  himself again. 

"Want to play some more video games?"

"Sure if you do."

While they played they talked and got to know each other better, but Robbie could tell that it was difficult for Cody to open up about his life. He knew Cody had a hard life, but he didn't know all the details. He knew it was just him and his mom, but he never spoke about his dad so he didn't know what had happened to him.

"Can I ask you a really personal question?" Robbie said after a while.

"I guess you can ask, but I since I don't know what the question is I can't promise I'll answer it, but I will promise that I won't lie. If I can't answer it I will tell you."

"That's fair. Okay, well...I was just wondering...what happened to your dad?"

"I'm not sure I want to answer that right now, but maybe some day..."

"Okay, that's cool. I get that you don't know me well enough or trust me that much...yet, but like you said, maybe someday."

"It's not that I don't trust you, it's just that I don't like talking about him...about what happened. It's sort of...I don't know, painful and depressing."

"I get that, and I only asked cause well...I want to know everything about you."

Cody paused his game and turned to look into Robbie's eyes, "There are some things you might not want to know," he said shaking his head.

"Yeah, well...there might be some things about me you don't want to know either, but if we're gonna be friends we got to trust each other to deal with it."

Cody nodded, "I hope we get there, but it's too soon."

Robbie nodded back, "Look how far we've come already he said smiling a little, "by next week we'll be dating," he said with straight face, then cracked up laughing.

"Good one," Cody said joining in the laughter, but for a minute there he thought Robbie might be serious and the thing was, it didn't seem so bad.

When Robbie's dad got home he came up to meet Cody and at first Cody wasn't sure if he was going to like the man or not. Not having much luck with male influences in his life, he didn't know how to take his almost irreverent sense of humor or his casual treatment of him.

"Well, it's the famous Cody. Robbie has told us so much about you, and remain a bit of a mystery. I'm glad  we finally got to meet you though, and I'm sure we'll bump into each other again."

"Cody's staying for dinner," Robbie said, "so don't scare him off," he laughed.

"Me, scare someone?" he said in mock horror, "Why I'm as gentle as a lamb...baaaa baaaa," he laughed.

Finally Cody began to get him and he laughed too. Robbie just rolled his eyes and said, "Don't you need to help mom with dinner or something?"

"If I didn't know better I'd think you were trying to get rid of me," he chuckled, "but I will leave you two to your dragon slaying or whatever and see you at dinner. Cody it was a pleasure meeting you. Feel free to visit us any time."

"Your dad seems nice," Cody said when Mr. Green was gone.

"He's cool. Sometimes his sense of humor is annoying, but mostly he's fun to be with. We spend a lot of time together. He likes a lot of the same stuff I do."

"Like what?" Cody asked curiously.

"Oh, like sports and Monster Trucks and car shows, stuff like that. Oh, and he taught me to bowl and I love it."

"I went bowling once with my dad," Cody said then stopped suddenly. He was getting into dangerous territory here talking about his dad and he wasn't quite ready for that, "it was okay, but I sucked at it."

"Hey, maybe we could join a league together, my mom would take us to play."

"Uh, does it cost to join?"

"Well, yeah...but not much. I could pay both our fees."

Cody clouded up then, the last thing he wanted was for Robbie to pay his way just because he didn't have the money. He wanted to feel equal with Robbie and not like a charity case.

"That's okay. I'd probably suck at it anyway."

Robbie thought he knew why Cody was upset and he felt bad for having put him in that situation, but he hoped that eventually Cody would see that he only wanted to help and that he wasn't looking down on him.

Dinner at the Green house was noisy and at first Cody didn't know what to think. After Mr. Green said grace, the food was passed around and then the talking began. 

Mr. Green worked at a big insurance company and supervised a large department and always had some interesting stories to tell. Robbie seemed just as talkative as his dad and even Mrs. Green had stories to tell about what went on in the course of her day.

They tried to pull Cody into the conversation every chance they got, but he didn't feel as if he had anything interesting to add, though he did enjoy hearing them talk.

The food was excellent and again Cody felt guilty about eating with Robbie while Andy had to eat the usual fare at home. If he could have thought of some way to do it without seeming weird, he would have gladly saved half his meal for his little brother, but of course he couldn't and so he enjoyed every bite of it.

Dessert after a meal was not something Cody was accustomed to and when Mrs. Green pulled out a chocolate ice box cake Cody's eyes got big and his tummy growled in anticipation. 

The cake was the best thing Cody could ever remember eating and he made a big deal of complimenting Mrs. Green and thanking her for her efforts.

"My little brother would go crazy for this," he said before thinking.

"Well, we'll just have to send some home with you then. Heaven knows we don't need anything that fattening laying around here," Mrs. Green said with a grin.

"Oh you don't have to do that...."

"It's no problem. I'll put it in some disposable containers and you won't even had to bother washing them or bringing them back."

Cody didn't want to seem ungrateful and besides he knew Andy would love it, so he finally gave in.

After helping Robbie clear the table the two boys went back to Robbie's room to hang out till it was time to take Cody home.

"Your mom is a really good cook," Cody said smiling, "thanks for inviting me for dinner."

"You're welcome, it was nice having company for a change. Sometimes it gets boring with just my folks."

"Your dad is funny and he has good stories to tell."

"Yeah, he's always cracking us up with his insurance stories. So what do you want to do till it's time to go?"

"I thought maybe we could just talk if that's okay."

"Yeah, absolutely. Uh, what about?" Robbie said grinning.

"Well, something has been bothering me and well...I was just wondering. You're not just friends with me cause...cause you feel sorry for me?" Cody said then looked down at his feet.

"No, no way. Why would you think that? Okay, maybe at first I sort of felt bad about the way I'd treated you and I wanted to make up for it, but then...then I started to see what a cool dude you are. I really like you, I hope you can believe me. I won't say I don't feel some sympathy for you, cause I do, but only because I'm really starting to like you...maybe a little too much," Robbie said blushing.

"What do you mean?"

"Nothing, sorry...I didn't mean anything bad."

Cody wanted to question him further but a sudden knock on the door interrupted their discussion.

"I'm sorry boys but I need to take Cody home a little sooner than I thought. I have to run over to Aunt Edna's house and I thought I'd just drop Cody off on the way."

"That's okay ma'am," Cody said hopping up,"Thank you for having me. I had a good time and the dinner was delicious."

"You're so welcome. I'll meet you boys at the car. I have the cake packed and in a sack for you."

"Sorry you have to go so soon. Hey, think you could come back tomorrow or meet me at the park or something...I mean if you wanted to..."

Cody smiled, "I might be able to. I'll call you tomorrow okay?"

"Okay, yeah...totally."

On the way to Cody's apartment the boys chattered away, forgetting the seriousness of their earlier discussion and by the time they arrived both boys were a little sad.

"I'll call you tomorrow," Cody promised as he and Robbie stood beside the car.

"Okay, well...thanks for coming over. I had a great time."

"Thanks for inviting me. This was the most fun I've had in a long time."

"Well, I hope there will be more fun ahead," Robbie said blushing again. Why did everything he said seem lately seem to have a hidden meaning? he wondered.

"Me too, good night. Talk to ya' tomorrow."

"Bye," Robbie said as he watched Cody scamper off. He watched until he was inside his apartment then climbed in the front seat by his mother.

"He's a very nice boy. I approve of him 100%," Mrs. Green said as soon as Robbie was buckled in.

"Thanks mom, I think he likes you too," he chuckled, "or at least your cooking."

"Your father likes him too and he's a shrewd judge of character, what with working in the insurance business most of his life. I just wish there was some way to help him and his family."

"Be careful mom, he's got a lot of pride and he spooks easily. I found that out the hard way," Robbie chuckled, "but he's coming around. I think if we become good friends he'll ease up some."

"Nothing wrong with pride as long as it's not stubborn pride. There is nothing wrong with accepting help when you need it. I hope he will come to understand that in time."


"Yes dear."

"Nothing, I...I'm just so  happy right now. Is that weird?"

"No, not at all. You've made a new friend, found someone you can relate to and perhaps help and that's as good as it gets. I'm very proud of you, I want you to know that, and I trust you to make the right decisions with this boy."

"What do you mean?" Robbie asked feeling a little panicky. Could it be possible that his mom had figured his secret out. They were after all very close and had always been able to read each other's moods very clearly.

"Oh nothing, I just meant that if you're happy, I'm happy and as long as you respect Cody's feelings I'm sure you two will be good friends...eventually."

"I hope so mom, I hope so," Robbie said turning to stare out the window at the Christmas lights beyond.


The weekend passed quickly, but Cody was unable to hang out with Robbie because his mom had to work unexpectedly and he had to watch Andy. Robbie was a little disappointed and even offered to come over and hang out at his apartment, but Cody wasn't quite ready to have Robbie see exactly how he lived.

As expected Andy had gone bananas over the cake, and to Cody's surprise Mrs. Green had send practically all the left over cake as well as a big slab of meatloaf. There was even enough for their mom and both of them to have a small piece that next day.

At school on Monday Robbie met up with the two as soon as they were off the bus.

"Hey guys," Robbie said happily.

"Hi Robbie," Andy said smiling warmly. The cake and meatloaf his mom had sent had done wonders in winning Andy over to Robbie's side.

"Hi dude," Robbie said offering his fist to bump. 

Andy giggled as he bumped fists then Robbie offered his fist to Cody who bumped it and felt almost giddy with good humor. He couldn't believe he had gotten this close to Robbie so soon, but he found that when they were apart he wondered what his new friend was doing and wished he was with him.

They walked Andy to his classroom then headed to their own and on the way they passed a group of the boys that Robbie until recently had hung out with.

"Hey," they muttered almost as one.

"Hi guys, what's up?"

"Nuttin'," a boy named Chris muttered. 

Though nothing threatening was implied, their attitudes said that they no longer looked at Robbie as one of them.

Once they were out of ear shot of them Cody voiced his opinion, "You gave up being friends with all those cool guys just to be my friend, didn't you? Why?"

Robbie sighed, "Because when I was with them I felt like a little part of me was dying." Robbie stopped suddenly and turned to Cody, "I didn't like who I was Cody...I was ashamed of who I was."

Cody was stunned. He'd never had anyone open up to him like this and the implications of it were stunning. Robbie really had to trust him to say something like that and he felt unworthy of his trust. When Robbie had asked about his father he'd put him off, saying he wasn't ready to discuss him yet, but now he felt almost compelled to be as open as Robbie had been.

"I never thought you were bad," Cody said smiling, "I could tell you weren't really like those guys."

Robbie stared off into space for a minute then resumed walking. He was quiet for a few minutes then turned to Cody once more, "I guess one reason I wanted to change was that I didn't want to disappoint my folks. I felt ashamed when they'd tell me how proud they were of me, when I knew I was doing things I shouldn't have and hanging with the wrong crowd."

"Your folks aren't wrong to be proud of you," Cody said sincerely, "cause I'm proud of you too."

"Thanks," Robbie said smiling at last, "that means a lot to me."

Class that day was fun and interesting and by lunch the boys were back to their chipper selves. Paul even seemed to be feeling better that day and actually joined in the conversation occasionally.

"Did you finish that book?" Paul asked looking at Cody shyly, "the Harry Potter one?"

"Yeah, but lately I haven't had time to go check out another one. Maybe I could borrow yours...if the offer is still good."

"Yeah..yah...absolutely," Paul said beaming, "I'll bring a couple of them tomorrow."

"Thanks, I'll take really good care of them."

"Aww...I know you will."

Robbie smiled at the two and opened his lunch sack and spread it out on the table.

"Gosh, mom sent enough for three people," Robbie said grinning, "Want to share it with me guys?"

Cody knew what Robbie was  up to, but he'd finally decided to accept little acts of kindness from Robbie, because he knew it made Robbie feel good. Not to mention his mom knew how to pack a lunch.

Paul had plenty and didn't always eat all of what he brought so he didn't feel obligated to join in the communal lunch and even offered to share some of his with the two.

Robbie's mom had packed two thick turkey and cheese sandwiches, individual bags of chips, two cookies, and two apples as well as two drink boxes.

Cody had never felt so full as he did that day after lunch and he knew he had Robbie and his mom to thank for it. The stubborn pride he'd felt previously was replaced by a feeling of gratitude and well being and he attributed it to the fact that he liked Robbie so much.

After a trip to the bathroom the two boys headed back to class and talked a bit about Cody's visit.

"Hey, think you could sleep over sometime?" Robbie asked, then blushed bright red. Sleepovers were serious business and usually only really good friends did that, and he and Cody had been friends less than a week.

"I've never slept over anyone's house before. It sounds fun though, but are you sure you could stand me for a whole night?"

"Are you kidding? I like being with you," Robbie said blushing again, "You're my best friend. I mean I know you don't feel the same way...but I hope you at least like me a little."

Was Robbie digging for information about his feelings? Cody wondered.

"I like you a lot," Cody said grinning, then he frowned, "I just don't know if I'm ready for that yet."

"No rush, but when you're ready you are totally welcome."

That afternoon Cody thought about Robbie's offer and carefully weighed the pros and cons of it. On one hand it would be a real adventure to spend the night away from home, but on the other he knew Andy would miss having him there sleeping above him. He was sure it would be a fun time and there would be lots of good food to eat, but the best part would be that he would get to spend time with Robbie. In the end other than Andy's disappointment he couldn't think of another negative thing. Still it was too early for that kind of thing, and anyway he wasn't sure his mom would agree to it, especially this soon.

At recess Robbie led Cody to the playground and they hung out near the monkey bars. Most of the kids were engaged in a games or paired off and hanging out like they were, but the group of bullies were nowhere to be seen.

"I've been thinking about what you asked me, about sleeping over and I thought I might mention it to my mom...just to see what she says. I'm not promising anything, but maybe later if you still want me to...I might be able to."

"That's awesome, you are totally welcome any time. My folks are both home on the weekends so there's no problem there."

"The only thing I worry about is...well, my little brother. He...he misses me when I'm gone."

"Doesn't he have friends of his own?"

"Well, he does know this one kid that lives in our apartment complex, but they don't hang out much."

"Well, maybe Andy could come too," Robbie offered. He didn't think Andy would be much trouble and anyway he was starting to like the younger boy, mostly because he knew that would please Cody.

"You mean it?"

"Sure, why not? We could sleep in my floor. We have some blow up air mattresses we can sleep on."

"I...that is so cool of you, but ...I think I'd rather it was just the two of us," Cody said then blushed, "I mean, you know...a guy needs some time away from his little brother."

Robbie laughed, "Whatever works man. I just want you to feel comfortable at my place and have fun."


Only when the bell rang did they finally see the group of bullies and apparently they had been in the clearing by the big pine tree, the place Robbie had shown to Cody the week before.

"Wonder what they were up to?" Robbie said to no one in particular.

"Huh, who...oh them," Cody said nervously, "Maybe plotting to kill us," he teased, but the thought of that sent chills through his body.

"Smoking more likely, I know a couple of them smoke. It's disgusting."


That night at home Cody thought about the best way to breach the subject of the sleepover. For one thing he needed to get his mom alone, if she said no it was no big deal, but if she said yes he didn't want to have to deal with Andy at that point.

He waited till after dinner and as luck would have it Andy decided he wanted a bubble bath. Usually when he took a bubble bath he took his toys in with him and spent a long time soaking and playing. Cody thought it was the perfect opportunity for a talk with his mom.

"Mom, I was wondering if I could talk to you about something."

"Of course honey. What is it? Those boys haven't been bothering you again have they?"

"No, nothing like that. It's just well...see, Robbie wanted to know if maybe some point...if I could sleepover at his house and well... I said I didn't know cause I'd never done that, but that I'd ask just to see what you thought," he said without taking a breath.

At first Robbie's mom just stared at him taking in all he had said and digesting it, then she smiled, "You really like this boy, don't you?"

"Well..uh sure mom...he's really cool and nice," Cody said blushing.

"Wow, you sure have become friends fast," she chuckled, "I'm not so old that I don't remember having friends and sleepovers. Of course girl sleepovers are called slumber parties, though I don't know why," she laughed, "cause slumber was not something we did. We stayed up late and laughed and talked about boys and did each other's hair and nails and told secrets," she added wistfully. "I suppose boys don't do the same things, but I'm sure it's just as much fun."

Cody was amazed at his mother's nostalgic reminiscing, but it was sort of cool to know that she had once been a kid and had fun.

"So, what do you think. Is it too soon for that mom?"

"I've met his mother and I've met him and they both seem like fine and decent people,, I don't think it's too soon. If you are sure you want to do this, it's fine with me, but I don't know what I'll do with your brother while you're gone," she laughed.

"Thanks mom. I'm not sure when Robbie wanted to do this, but I'll tell him you said it was okay. Thanks so much," he said hugging his mom.

She smiled and hugged him back, "You know you're a different boy since you met this boy. You used to be so quiet and shy, and now you seem to have come out of your shell at bit. I think he's a good influence on you."

"He's really outgoing and so sure of himself and I guess it's rubbing off on me. He makes me feel...I don't know better about myself. He doesn't treat me like I'm different or not as good as him. Even though he lives in a nice house and has a mom and a dad...." he stopped then, hoping he hadn't said too much and made his mom sad, "I mean he just makes me feel like none of that matters and that he likes me for who I am."

His mother smiled. She was wise enough and seasoned enough to know the first signs of a crush, but it didn't worry her. She knew boys Cody's age tended to form relationships with other boys long before they discovered girls. After all boys were more comfortable around other boys at that age, just as girls were more comfortable around other girls. In fact she remembered having a crush on one of her girlfriends when she was about that age. They'd even kissed once or twice, just practicing for boys, but it had been fun and rather exciting. She doubted boys kissed, well unless they were gay, but she was smart enough to know that boys were likely to do some sexual experimenting, especially once they reached puberty, but even that didn't worry her. After all she'd grown up in a house with three brothers and she knew how boys were.

"I'm glad you have a new friend and I hope your friendship lasts a long time."

"Thanks mom. Ummm...I think I should be the one to tell Andy, but not till I find out exactly when the sleepover is...okay?"

"That's fine honey. Just let me know when and I'll make sure you have everything you need to take with you."

Cody was floating on a cloud when he went to his room, and a few minutes laster when Andy came breezing in dressed only in a pair of cartoon under pants, Andy seemed to pick up on his mood right away.

"Why are you so happy? Did you and Robbie have fun today at school?"

"Yeah, we always do. He's really cool."

Andy frowned, "I wish I had a good friend like that."

"What about Peter?"

"He's okay I guess, but he's kind of bossy."

Cody laughed, "Bossy, how?

"Well, he always wants to decide what we play and stuff."

"Well, is the stuff he picks fun?"

"Yeah, I guess. He likes to play wrestle a lot," he said grinning as if the thought of it was pleasant.

"Oh, and does he always win?"

"No, not always. Sometimes I pin him and hold his arms down and sit on his chest," Andy laughed.

"I think you should bring him over sometime when I'm here and the three of us could play and I could get to know him too."

"Okay, how about Saturday?"

"Well, we'll see," Cody said, unsure if he'd be at Robbie's for a sleepover.

"Cody, will you read me a story tonight?"

"Well, sure...and I know just which story to read."

"Which one?"

"A Christmas Carol. We read it in class and it's pretty cool."

"All right, do we have that one?"

"Yep, I checked it out at the library so I could reread it and now I can share it with you. I's pretty long though, so it may take a couple of days to read it."

"That's okay," Andy said yawning, "I'm gonna go tell momma goodnight and get a drink."

When Andy was gone Cody grabbed a pair of clean underwear and went off to the bathroom to take his shower. First he stood before the mirror over the sink and while he was brushing his teeth he studied his reflection. 

He'd never really thought much about the way he looked, but he never considered himself ugly or disgusting. He guessed he was sort of cute, if he compared himself to other boys, but not Robbie...cause Robbie was way cuter than he was. He smiled when he thought of Robbie. Robbie was the first boy, well actually the first person outside his family that he'd had feelings for, and the experience was both exciting and scary.

He didn't think of himself as gay, after all he was only 11, but he'd never felt about a girl the way he felt about Robbie and that was sort of confusing. He supposed it could be just because he'd never had a good friend before, but the butterflies in his tummy and the tingling feeling when he was around Robbie seemed to say there was more to it than that.

He liked everything about Robbie. The way he looked, the way he talked, even the way he smelled. He blushed when he thought about that, but Robbie had a unique scent beneath the soap and shampoo and subtle cologne, and it was comforting and yet exciting at the same time. He liked that Robbie was patient with him and didn't push him, but that he didn't give up on him either. But most of all he just liked being near Robbie, even when they weren't doing anything special. 

When they were apart he thought about Robbie constantly, what was he doing right now? Robbie wondered. Is he showering or doing homework or watching TV. Is he thinking about me? he wondered, or was his life too full to have time for things like that?

As he dropped his underwear and stepped into the shower he looked down to see if there were any changes below. It was a daily ritual, but so far nothing seemed to be going on down there. In Health Class he'd listened with a red face as the Nurse explained the changes that boys and girls went through during puberty, but so far the only change Cody had noticed was that he seemed to get erections at the most awkward times, and since he'd met Robbie they had become even more frequent.

Wait was that a hair? he thought excitedly as he ran his fingers across his pubis. "It is, it is," he said excitedly as he loving caressed a couple of fine hairs that had literally sprung up overnight. Along with hair he knew there were other changes in store, but some of them he wasn't so sure about. 

He'd learned to masturbate when he was about Andy's age, but he didn't abuse himself often. Once or twice a week was about all he could manage what with Andy being underfoot so much, but he enjoyed it when he did. For now his orgasms were dry and there was no mess, but he knew once he started having wet orgasms, he would have to be even more careful. 

Adjusting the water till it was just the right temp he stepped into the spray and began lathering up his lean smooth body. Smiling he soaped up his pubic area, caressing his new found hairs and one thing led to another and soon he was tugging at his boyhood with determination. Closing his eyes he braced himself against the wall and suddenly he began to think about Robbie as he pleasured himself.

At first it was just Robbie's face that filled his thoughts, but as he continued to pleasure himself he began to envision Robbie's body, shirtless as he had been that evening in his room, and he began to grow even more excited. Then images of Robbie's body clad only in his underwear crept into his mind and his passion flared up even hotter. He'd never thought of a boy this way before and at first it was troubling, but the excitement of it and the feeling his hand was giving him overrode his misgivings and he continued with new enthusiasm.

Moaning lowly and breathing rapidly he continued to stroke as he thought about Robbie's face, his chest, his flat tummy, the bulge in his fashionable briefs, his strong muscled legs and even his sturdy feet and pink wiggly toes. Then gasping for air he felt the onrush of his orgasm and rising up on his tiptoes and crying out softly he began to experience the most intense feeling of his young life.

When it was over he stood gasping for air, his heart beating nearly out of his chest as he tried to comprehend what had just happened. Was he gay? He didn't think he felt gay, but then...he wasn't sure he felt anyway at all when it came to sex. He'd always been on the outside when it came to other kids his age and Robbie was really the first person he'd gotten close to.

He didn't really think about girls that much, being shy and an outsider as he was, but then he really didn't think about boys either. Sure sometimes he wished he had someone to talk to, to hang out with, but he'd never thought about a boy, or a girl for that matter, in a sexual way.

It was all so confusing, but he finally managed to convince himself that it was just part of going through puberty. The Nurse had said that something called hormones caused kids to get a little crazy during puberty and he decided that must be what had happened to him.

Now that it was over he didn't think of Robbie that way and he decided it was just a chance thing that it was Robbie he had been thinking about when he did it. Maybe next time he'd think about a girl, he reasoned, or no one at all. Anyway there was nothing he could do about it now, and at least Robbie would never know about it and think he was weird or gay or whatever. No, this would have to remain his little secret and hopefully it wouldn't happen again.


The sleepover was finally set for the Saturday before Christmas. Andy had taken the news better than Cody had feared, partly because his friend Peter was coming over to hang out and their mom  had promised to bake cookies and rent a movie for them to watch. Cody spent half his time worrying about the sleepover and the other half worrying about whether it was too soon for this kind of thing.

Sure he and Robbie were starting to understand each other and he was comfortable around his new friend, but he couldn't forget that night in the shower and those thoughts of Robbie. What if he popped a boner when he saw Robbie in  his underwear? Would Robbie understand or be freaked out and send him home? Or worse tell everyone at school what happened?

He'd already decided that he would sleep in his clothes, that way he could hide anything that popped up, but then he feared Robbie would think that was even more weird. There were so many things to worry about, but in the end the good things outweighed the bad ones and by Friday Cody was committed to going through with it.

As Robbie walked them to the bus stop that afternoon he chattered excitedly about the plans he'd made for the sleepover and soon Cody was caught up in  his enthusiasm. Andy didn't say much, but Cody could tell he was a little jealous, despite having his own plans, so Cody tried to keep his enthusiasm in check for his benefit.

"My mom will pick you at noon, okay?" Robbie said for the third time.

"Okay, I'll be ready."

They said their goodbyes and the two brothers loaded onto the bus and took the first seat available toward the front. They knew from experience that the kids who liked to act up sat in the back and that it was safer closer to the driver. It was just part of the survival code that kids like Cody had developed over the years and it had served him well.

That evening Andy seemed especially clingy and Cody knew why, so he didn't mention the sleepover. Instead he played board games with Andy and when it was time for bed he read to him until he fell asleep.

Once Andy was asleep Cody took a shower, but this time he didn't linger for fear of a recurrance of what had happened the week before. He did note that a few more hairs had grown in at the base of his penis and that made him smile. Soon he figured he'd start having wet orgasms and that meant he was finally growing up.

 The next day Cody waited nervously for Mrs. Green to pick him up as he paced the floor. He'd changed clothes twice before finally deciding on his best jeans and a striped pullover that fit him nicely. His shoes were worn but he had taken a toothbrush and cleaned them up as best he could and he was wearing clean socks and clean underwear.

In his backpack he had a change of clothes, a couple comic books, and a pair of shorts and a tee to sleep in. He'd decided that would look more reasonable than sleeping fully clothed and  hopefully serve the same purpose.

He's checked the window a dozen times in the past half hour, but missed Robbie's arrival until he knocked on the door. Rushing to the door he threw it open and there stood Robbie, smiling widely and looking especially cute.

"Hey, ready to go?"

"Yeah, I been ready since about 10," Cody giggled, "this is my first sleepover you know, and I'm sort of nervous."

"No need to be, it'll be'll see."

Cody's mom walked in about then with Andy at her heels and Robbie said hello politely and thanked them for letting Cody sleepover. Andy seemed to relax a little and began to talk about his plans for the day and Robbie listened politely.

"That sound really cool Andy. I bet you guys will have lots of fun."

"Be good and mind Robbie's folks," his mom said when they finally started out the door.

"I will, bye mom, bye Andy, love ya." Cody said giving them a little wave.

Mrs. Green was parked in front with the engine idling and when the boys slid in she turned to greet Cody then started off toward their house. The boys talked excitedly and in the rear view mirror Mrs. Green studied the excited and happy looks on the boys' faces and smiled. She had never seen Robbie take to anyone the way he had taken to this boy and she knew he must be very special. 

The fact that he came from a single parent home and that they struggled financially troubled her, but not because she thought her family was better than theirs. No, social status meant little to her, but she wished she could find a way  to help them without being too intrusive.

She knew Robbie had done wonders to help the boy, and in turn his mother, simply by caring and offering his friendship, but she wanted to do more. Christmas was coming and no child should wake up Christmas morning without presents. It was then that she decided what she must do and she spent the rest of the drive mulling her plan over in her head.

As soon as they got to Robbie's house Robbie led Cody to his room upstairs and showed him where to put his backpack. Cody smiled when he saw how neat and clean Robbie's room was and he figured his mom must've made him clean it just for the sleepover.

"We're gonna have sooo much fun," Robbie said excitedly, "My folks are gonna order pizza later and we have three kinds of soda, and my mom made cookies and later we can have popcorn or chips."

Cody looked at Robbie and shook his head comically, "Wow, are you trying to kill me?" he teased, "That's a lot of food."

"Oh, yeah...sorry. I'm just so excited that you're going to spend the whole day and the whole night. What time do you have to be home tomorrow?"

"Whenever your mom wants to get rid of me I guess," Cody said shrugging.

"Than never," Robbie laughed, "You can just stay here forever."

Cody shook his head and laughed, "Wow, I've never seen you like this before. Do you always get this excited when you have someone sleep over?"

Robbie's smile faded a little and he calmed down some, "Actually you're only the second person that's ever slept over. When I was ten I had a friend named Larry and he spent the night of my birthday party, but he got sick and puked all night and it wasn't much fun."

"Well...I guess I'll have to watch how much I eat so I don't get sick and puke," Cody said grinning.

They played video games for the next hour and then got up to stretch and walked down to the kitchen to see what Robbie's mom was up to. She was just taking a pan of Christmas cookies out of the oven and when she saw the two she raised her eyebrows comically and smiled.

"Just in time to help me decorate these cookies. I have icing and sprinkles, so what say you guys show off you artistic skills and help me out?"

"Sounds like fun," Robbie said, "but only if we get to eat one afterwards."

"I think we can spare one or two, but the rest are for the Church Bake sale."

"Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Did you bake one of those carrot cakes like last year?"

"Yes, and a Italian Cream cake as well.  Last  year they brought 25 dollars a piece. We made almost three hundred dollars last year and used the money to buy toys for children who might not have gotten anything for Christmas otherwise."

"That's nice," Cody said looking serious, "It's nice to know someone cares about kids." He was thinking about the one time the church his mom had gone to a few times gave him and Andy ten dollars to buy gifts with and a toy for each of them from a big stack under the biggest Christmas tree he'd ever seen. It was nice, but it was just the one time, and most years he and Andy got only one very small gift or something they needed like clothes or shoes. Once he'd even got a new toothbrush and toothpaste in his Christmas stocking. But he was thankful for anything he got and knew his mom did the best she could. 

"There are lots of people who care, not just about children, but about anyone who needs help. Our Church does a lot of good things in this community."

Cody nodded, lost in his thoughts again, he wondered if Robbie would expect them to exchange gifts. If so he didn't know how he would manage to get enough money to buy anything good enough for someone like Robbie. Being friends with Robbie was great, but sometimes he worried about all the things that went with it, and the expectations that it brought.

"Earth to Cody," Robbie said wiping a gloop of frosting on Cody's nose and giggling.

"What, oh...sorry, I was just thinking about something," he said wiping the frosting off with his finger and then sucking it clean, "Mmmm...good."

"I was asking you what your plans for Christmas break were. If you want you could hang out here with me most every day."

"I don't know. My mom will be working some and I have to watch Andy when she's at work."

"Well...he could come too, couldn't he mom?"

"That would be fine, there's always room for one more," she laughed, "I think it's sweet that you take such good care of your little brother."

Cody blushed but he was pleased by her compliment. "He's cool, we have a lot of fun together. Ever since...well, since my dad left we've been watching out for each other and my mom."

"That must've been difficult for you. I won't pry as to what happened, but if you ever need adult to talk to, me or my husband would be happy to help in anyway we can."

"It's no big deal," Cody said blushing even redder. Then quickly changed the subject, "Hey, look Santa has a red nose," he laughed as he held up the cookie he'd just decorated.

"He must have a cold," Robbie giggled, " that a booger coming out of his nose?"

"Robbie, don't be so gross," his mom laughed, but it was evident she was used to Robbie's sense of humor and no doubt shared much of it.

By the time the cookies were decorated the boys were hungry and Mrs. Green phoned in the pizza. She ordered two large, one with everything and one with just pepperoni (Robbie's favorite) and since the pizza place was close by she decided to pick it up rather than have it delivered.

The boys went with her and on the way they stopped at a RedBox and rented two movies using Mrs. Green's debit card. The pizza was ready to pick up by the time they arrived at the pizza place and it was all the boys could do not to dig into it on the way home as the Heavenly aroma filled the car.

Cody wasn't sure what the dining arrangements were going to be but as he filled his plate Robbie explained it to him.

"Get as much as you want, then we'll go to my room and watch a movie. Later we can play some more video games or just hang out and then watch the other movie once we get in bed.  Then if we fall asleep we'll already be there."

So they were sleeping in the same bed, Cody noted with new nervousness. It was bad enough he'd have to be near him all night, but in the same bed would be murder. If he popped a boner, he'd just die.

With their plates balanced on their laps and a big insulated cup of soda nearby they began to dig in and Cody thought he had never tasted anything so wonderful.

He could vaguely remember having pizza once or twice when his father was still at home, and of course there was school pizza which bore little resemblance to the real thing, but this pizza was so delicious that Cody mentally declared it his new favorite food.

"Mmmm...good," Cody said pulling a piece of sticky cheese off his lip and stuffing it in his mouth.

"Pizza is my favorite food," Robbie said, "I could eat it everyday...especially pepperoni.

Well, that was one more thing they had  in common, Cody thought happily. Only difference was Robbie's folks could afford pizza and his mom couldn't.

"Yeah, pizza for every meal," Cody laughed feeling suddenly feeling very giddy.

"Yeah, and chocolate pizza for dessert," Robbie giggled.

Their eyes met and suddenly Cody felt such a wave of emotion that it almost overwhelmed him. Here was the cutest boy he'd ever seen sitting next to him, laughing, and sharing pizza, and treating him just like a regular boy. How could he be so lucky? 

Across from him Robbie was having some emotion turmoil of his own. To him Cody was the cutest boy in the world and so sweet and so kind. It made him happy to be near him. He loved his smile and the cute way he rubbed his nose when he was thinking about something. He didn't care that he didn't' wear designer clothes or name brand athletic shoes, that he lived in a run down apartment, or didn't have a dad. To Robbie Cody was just about perfect.

Both boys smiled shyly then turned their attention back to the TV and their food. After a while Robbie turned to Cody and just watched him for a moment before speaking.

"I'm really glad you came," he said softly, "this is like the most fun I've ever had."

" too. Thanks for inviting me. Everybody here treats me like...well, like I'm welcome and that makes me feel really good inside."

"You are welcome. My folks are crazy about you," Robbie said blushing, for it was he was really crazy about Cody, "and they said you can come over any time."

"Your folks are cool. I guess that's where you get your coolness," Cody said grinning.

"Nope, I was born cool," Robbie giggled, "I had the nurses at the hospital waiting on me hand and foot."

"Uh, cause you were a baby," Cody cracked up, almost spitting out the last bite of pizza, "they wait on all the babies hand and foot."

"Nah, not like with me. I was special."

"You still are," Cody said then blushed.

Robbie smiled and once again they sat staring into each other's eyes.


"Uh huh?"

"Do you...ummm, this is gonna sound lame I know," he sighed, "but do you...likemeasmuchasIlikeyou?" he spewed the last part out as one word then took a deep breath and sat blushing, waiting for Cody's answer.

"Well, I don't know," Cody said seriously, "cause I don't know how much you like me, but...I know how much I like you and it's a whole lot. I've never felt this way about anyone before...not even my mom or Andy. It's scary actually...really scary."

Robbie smiled, "I know, me too. It's like I can't get through the day without thinking about you and if you're not around I wonder what you're doing and if you're thinking about me. Am I being an idiot here, or do you feel like that too?"

"That's exactly how I feel," Cody said smiling excitedly, "I can't believe you feel the same way too."

"Do you, I mean...what we're has a name right?"

Did Cody dare say the L word? He was almost sure that was what he was feeling for Robbie, but did Robbie think that too?

"You" Cody asked shyly.

Robbie nodded, "Yeah, I mean...I'm not gay. At least I don't think I am, but I, I'm sure...I love you Cody. Is that too weird? Cause if it is I understand if you don't want to come over here anymore," he said forlornly.

"No, it's not weird. It's just us...okay, it's just between us and it's not weird to me. I feel the same way, but I was so afraid you didn't feel the same way too. I don't think I'm gay either, but I don't think that's what this is about. I think when you love someone it doesn't matter whether they're a guy or a girl. I think you just love that person cause...well, cause of who they are."

Robbie smiled, "You're so smart. You have this all figured out already." Then he frowned, "Only...well, since we're being honest here. There might be more to it."

"Like what?" Cody asked thinking about the incident in the shower again and growing nervous.

"I..." Robbie paused and stuck out his bottom lip and blew a breath of air straight up, "I...been thinking, well...your ummm...don't get mad, but about your...your body too."

Cody relaxed a little, "Like how?"

"Don't make me say it...okay?" Robbie pleaded.

"I think I know, cause I been thinking about your body too. After that day when you changed in front of me. I sort of had, incident in the shower...and I, well...I was thinking about you."

"OH MY GOD, me too. I blasted big time thinking about you," Robbie laughed.Then sobering some he said, "Maybe I am gay."

"I don't care if you are," Cody said smiling, "cause maybe I'm a little gay too."

"A little gay?" Robbie laughed, "I never heard of being a little gay."

"Maybe I'm only gay for you," Cody said seriously, "cause I don't think about other boys that way and I've never done anything with any boy before."

"Well, actually I have, but I didn't love the boys or anything, it was just messing around and having fun. With you it's different. I might want to do those things but mostly I just want to spend time with you and have fun together."

"Me too, but...there is something I've been thinking about, but you'll probably think I'm crazy or sick or really gay..."

"No, I swear..what is it?"

"This," Cody said leaning in quickly and planting a kiss on Robbie's cheek then pulling back red faced and looking panicky.

Robbie smiled and leaned in and this time instead of a kiss on the cheek his lips met Cody's and for on magical moment they shared their first real kiss. By all standards it was awkward and clumsy, but to them it was magical.

"Wow," Cody said pulling back and catching his breath.

"Not bad, huh?" Robbie gushed.

"I guess we really are gay now," Cody said grinning.

Robbie just shrugged, "Let's not label ourselves, okay? We love each other and we like kissing and who knows what else we'll like," he said raising an eyebrow, "so let's just enjoy it and not worry about that stuff."

"I like how that sounds. I think that's how I feel about it too. Now, can we try that kissing thing one more time?"

Eventually they stopped snogging long enough to finish their now cold pizza. After washing up in the bathroom they started playing video games again, but now they sat closer together, so close their legs were touching, and both boys felt that tingle that the intimacy of human touch brings.

They wandered downstairs sometime later and snagged one of the cookies they'd decorated earlier and visited with Robbie's folks for a few minutes before heading back upstairs.

They watched the first movie sprawled out in the floor but eventually they moved together and cuddled as they watched it. This was all so new and exciting for both boys, but at the same time it seemed so natural and so right.

Holding hands they sat entwined and occasionally kissing briefly causing goose bumps of excitement to travel up and down their bodies. When the movie was over they reluctantly got up and took turns using the bathroom and brushing their teeth. 

When Cody returned to the bedroom after his turn, Robbie was already under the covers and Cody could see his clothes laying in a pile by the bed. Notably missing was his underwear which meant he was wearing them and that calmed Cody's fears some. 

So far things had been moving at a very fast pace and he wasn't sure whether he was quite ready to take things to the next level. Crossing to the other side of the bed he sat down and stripped off his pants and slid into bed as discretely as possible.

"No fair...I didn't get to see you," Robbie pouted.

"Well...look then," Cody said raising the covers just slightly to reveal his once white FOL underwear. Despite the excitement of the situation he'd been too nervous to pop a boner and so he was at least saved that ordeal.

"Nice, just like I knew it would be," Robbie sighed.

Cody blushed, but smiled at what he knew was a genuine compliment.

Robbie reached over then and grabbed the remote and started the other movie and turned off the bedside light. Cody waited till the movie was well underway before scooting a bit closer and Robbie met him in the middle for some more cuddle time.

This time however, there was a lot more bare flesh touching and before long the inevitable happened. At first Cody was nervous that Robbie would notice and then he laughed at the thought, after all there were no secrets between them anymore. They both had confessed their love and that they had sexual feelings for each other and had actually pleasured themselves while fantasizing about one another.


"Yep, that too weird?"

"No, not weird. Nice, a compliment sort of," Robbie said softly, "It means you like me a lot."

"Are too?"

"So hard it's like steel,"  Robbie laughed.


"Uh huh."

"I...I don't think I'm ready, you that yet."

"Whew, I'm glad you said that, cause I feel the same way. With my friends it was no big deal, but with you it's different. When we do it I want it to be special and for both of us to want it and have fun."

"Me too, but soon...I don't want to wait too long," Cody said grinning.

"I think we'll know when it's right."

"I think so too."

"Want to finish the movie?"

"No, not really. I'd rather snuggle and maybe kiss some more."

"Me too."



"This is gonna sound really stupid, know how little kids ask for stuff from Santa?"

"Yeah, I used to do that every year. I'd write him a letter and my folks would mail it. Then I got older and realized my parents were the ones buying those things I asked for, and so I sort of quit believing."

"Well, I haven't believed in Santa for a very long time, but...this year I sort of asked him for something anyway."

"What was it? I mean unless you don't want to tell me."

"No, I want you to know. All I asked for was...a friend and I got a whole lot more. I got someone to love and someone who loves me and I think it's the best gift I ever got."

Robbie smiled and moved even closer and kissed Cody's cheek, "I guess I got the same gift and I think it's pretty cool too."

"But it's not even Christmas yet," Cody said grinning, "I wonder what Santa will give me then."

"I think I know," Robbie said grinning wickedly, "and I hope I get the same thing too."


A week later, the day before Christmas Eve, Cody was back at Robbie's for dinner and this time he was accompanied by his mom and little brother Andy. A lot had happened that week and all of it good.

Mr. Green had helped Cody's mom get hired at the insurance company where he worked and Mrs. Green, with the help of some of the teachers at school had provided gifts and a Christmas dinner for the Millers.

Tonight was a celebration of Christmas but for the two boys, Robbie and Cody, it was something more. It was a celebration of their love and they had decided that tonight would be the night they would finally express it in a physical way.

Both were nervous and excited, but not so much that they couldn't appreciate the feast laid out before them. Visiting with Andy and the adults they tried to remain calm, but it wasn't easy. Once or twice Mrs. Green had given the two a curious look and once she thought she saw them holding hands when they thought no one was looking.

She thought their show of affection cute, and it didn't worry her in the least. She was pretty sure things had progressed beyond the crush stage and had moved into a new area, but she wasn't sure exactly how serious things were yet.

She considered having her husband have "the talk" with Robbie, or both of them, but she knew they had covered all the basics in health class, per approval of the parents. She doubted they were sexually active at that age, but she supposed there might be some experimenting. Still she wasn't that worried since they were just boys, and boys will be boys, and worrying was just a waste of time.

Around nine Mrs. Green took Mrs. Miller and Andy home and it gave them time to talk. Andy sat in the back of the SUV playing with a hand held game that Robbie had given him for Christmas and pretty much ignored the two adults.

"I think our boys are becoming very close," Mrs. Green said breaching the subject carefully.

"Your son is all my Cody talks about these days," Mrs. Miller chuckled, "but I have to tell you, since he met Robbie he's a different boy. He is so much more confident and happy."

"Robbie has changed for the better too. Not that he was a bad boy, but he was hanging with some boys who were a bad influence and it was just a matter of time till he got caught up in their mischief.  I think Cody made him realize that bullying is not a victimless crime and that once you get to know those who are being bullied you find they're just like everyone else."

"I guess I didn't really know what was going on with him before, the bullying and all, but I have Robbie to think for ending that. I know this may sound strange, but I think Cody sees Robbie as more than just a friend."

"You've noticed it too?" Mrs. Green said smiling, "the question is: are you all right with the idea of the boys being that close?"

Mrs. Miller sighed, "They're just boys, how serious could it be? I don't worry about it if that's what you want to know."

"I can't say I'm worried but I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page with them."

"Well, I can tell you far I haven't seen anything but good come out of those two meeting, so I'm sure not gonna rock the boat now."

"I agree. I will keep an eye on them and let you know if I have any concerns, but so far I'm very pleased with both of them."

"You know, Cody is not the only one who has benefited from Robbie meeting him. Because of him I've got a new job and a chance to make a better life for my boys. I want to thank you and your husband and of course Robbie for all you have done."

"I'm just glad we could help. But you are right, if Robbie hadn't met Cody and introduced us and explained his situation we wouldn't have known you needed  help."

"This is the first Christmas since....well, since forever that I'm feeling the holiday spirit," Mrs. Miller said smiling, "and I know the boys feel the same."

"I'm glad we could help. This is a pretty special Christmas for us too, making three new friends," she said smiling.

Mrs. Miller blushed, she liked the Greens despite her preconceived notions of them. She had expected them to be uppity and pushy, but was pleased to find they were done to earth people with good hearts. She considered Mrs. Green as her friend now and they had had some good times this last week hanging out and shopping for the boys. She was looking forward to the year ahead and her new life and it was all thanks to their two boys meeting.


Back at Robbie's house the boys had migrated to Robbie's room and were doing a little celebrating of their own. Sitting side by side on Robbie's bed, their arms around each other as they talked softly about their new lives together.

"I think it's neat of our moms to let me sleep over tonight. I'm just glad Andy is cool with you now. That game you bought him for Christmas really sealed the deal."

"He's a cool kid. I feel like I have a little brother too now."

"Okay, I'll loan him to you sometime," Cody teased, "just no kissing."

Robbie threw his head back and laughed, "Dude, you are the only one I want to kiss and I feel one coming on right now."

Their technique had improved over the past week and this time the kiss was not only more enjoyable, but stimulating as well, a fact apparent by the tent in their pants.

" taste like bubblegum," Robbie said grinning as they broke the kiss at last.

"You taste like steak," Cody giggled.

Robbie shook his head crazily and rolled his eyes, "I'm a cannibal, that's human steak you tasted."

"Yikes, don't eat me," Cody laughed.

"Can I at least lick you?" Robbie said sticking out his tongue.

"Where at?" Cody said grinning.

"All over...all over your body."

At bedtime the two boys nervously piled into bed clad only in their undies. They'd showered separately earlier and brushed and flossed and used mouthwash, but they were still nervous and unsure of how things might turn out.

"It's okay if we don't..." Robbie said sounding small and far away.

"Don't you want to?"

"Only if you do."

"I do, I'm just nervous, that's all."

"Well, dude...that makes two of us. Look, I haven't had a lot of experience, not as much as I'd like, but I think we should just lose the undies and do what we been doing, you know kissing and stuff, and see what happens."

"Okay, that sounds good. Uh, who goes first?"

"On the count of three we both take off our undies and drop em' by the bed. One...two...three!"

Both boys giggled as the underwear came off and despite their onerousness both boys were displaying erections. This was the first time the boys had seen each other completely naked and they studied each other's junk for quite some time.

"We're about the same size," Robbie said smiling, "that's cool. I was worried you'd be like way bigger or something."

Cody laughed, "I was worried you'd be bigger too."

"Well then, come over here and let's see what happens."

What happened was typical of horny of 11 year boys on the cusp of puberty. Their lack of experience was quickly overcome by their enthusiasm and they learned as they went along. It was sweet and satisfying for both boys and both were good for a couple of rounds before they finally snuggled up and kissed one last time.

"This has been the best Christmas of my whole life," Cody sighed, "Thank you Santa for bringing me a boy to love."

"And thanks from me too Santa. And as Tiny Tim says...God Bless us, God Bless us everyone." Robbie said grinning, "Merry Christmas Cody. I love you."

"Merry Christmas, I love you too...and you're the best gift any boy could ever get."


I  hope this little story brightened your Holiday and lifted your spirits, but bullying is real and not a laughing matter. If you know someone who is being bullied or you're being bullied, no matter how old you are, tell someone.


    Thanks once again for your support over the years and I value your emails and your input. Please address all emails to I promise to answer all of them in a timely fashion.



I have updated my story list if you see any missing please let me know.

Other stories by Kewl Dad

* Denotes Series, rest are short stories

  1. A Christmas for Joey

  2. A Christmas With Nick

  3. Accidental Dad*

  4. Adolescent

  5. Alex and Aidan*

  6. Andy Tastes Like Candy

  7. At the Dike*

  8. Black Cock

  9. Boy Glory Hole

  10. Bullied

  11. Christmas Boy

  12. CL Cock Sucker

  13. Cory*

  14. Corey's Scent

  15. Dirt Bikes and Blowjobs

  16. DMV Boy

  17. Dougie's Story #Part 3 of a series

  18. The Family*

  19. The Ginger and the Chub

  20. Hair Salon Boys

  21. I Heart You

  22. Little Brother's Feet*

  23. Lost in Fear*

  24. Mars

  25. McChicken

  26. My Best Friend's Dad *Related story to My Son's Best Friends

  27. My Not so Miserable Life

  28. My Little Runaway #Part 1 of a series

  29. My Son's Best Friends *Related series to My Best Friend's Dad

  30. My Little Runaway

  31. My 11th Summer*

  32. One Night

  33. Poindexter Files*

  34. Rabbit: A Christmas Story

  35. Second Chance for Love

  36. Six Black Boys*

  37. Skateboard Boy*

  38. Skateboard Christmas

  39. Sudden Family*

  40. Taking a Chance on Love

  41. The Year I Learned to Love my Brother (TYILTLMB)*

  42. The Reynolds Twins*

  43. Tommy Boy #Part two of a series

  44. To the Max

  45. Tracy*

  46. Trailer Park Christmas

  47. Trick or Treet Dress Up

  48. Tween to Teen*

  49. What a Dollar Will Buy

  50. It's Amazing What Sex Can do for a Guy (as smoothoperator52)