The Republic

K. J. Pedersen

Chapter Two

Johannes Kirkagárd

SHANE INTERCEPTED ME in front of the Administration Building Friday morning before school started. “Where’s Matti?”

“Home,” I said. “He said he’s not feeling well.”

Shane said, “He’s sick?”

“More like faking it,” Susanna replied.

“I think he wanted to miss his trigonometry class this morning,” I explained. “He’s not kept up with his homework.”

“And that’s your fault,” Susanna told Shane with a shy smile.

“There are things more important in life than homework,” Shane said.

“Like smoking hashish with your best friend, Shane?” Susanna teased.

Shane chuckled. “Among others, hell yeah!”

Susanna grinned at that.

“What’s up?” I asked Shane after a moment. He had fallen into step beside us.

“Nothing. Sorry if I’m being a nuisance. Just wanted to talk to Matti,” he said. Then he stopped me mid-step. “How’s Lukas?”

“What do you mean?”

He gave me that look — as if to say: Don’t play stupid, Johan.

After the way Lukas bawled in my arms last night, I didn’t want to talk about it. “I’m trying to give him space,” I said simply, trying to avoid this matter.

Shane took the hint, but Susanna didn’t.

“Lukas is mad at Johan for it too,” she said.

Shane said, “Why’s that?”

“Johan is — ”

I was annoyed that she was so ready to volunteer information. “Susi, do you mind?”

She lowered her eyes. “Sorry.”

I put my hands on her shoulders as we walked — with me behind her — and pushed her along in a brotherly fashion. “Lukas needs time to think everything over. And he needs room. He doesn’t need me there all the time.”

Shane looked at me for a moment, then asked cautiously, “Does Susi know then?”

My heart jumped!

“Know what?” Susanna asked.

I let my hand drop off her shoulders, and barked, “Nothing.” Then I turned to Shane and scowled. “Susi, excuse me, I need to talk to Shane for a moment.”

She gave me this surprised look. She didn’t understand what was up. “Okay,” she said in a surprisingly timid voice.

I grabbed Shane by the elbow and shoved him out away from the crowd in front of the Administration Building and toward the large oak tree. His eyes were wide with fear at my sudden reaction. I pushed him back against the tree.

What the fuck?” I demanded. My heart was racing; I was scared. “He told you, didn’t he?”

Shane didn’t respond.

“Oh my God — he told you!”

Tears threatened.

“Johan — ”

“I’m going to kill Matti....”

“It’s no big deal.”

“How could he?” I felt so betrayed by my brother. I felt a tear fall onto my cheek and start down my face. “How could he just go and tell you the most private — ”

Shane touched my elbow. “It isn’t a big deal.”

“It’s bad enough Markus started that rumor.”

“I don’t care that you’re gay, Johan,” Shane said. “I don’t care at all.”

I was angry. “Matti told you about my relationship with Lukas, didn’t he?”

Shane nodded.


“It came up,” he said. “The rumor Markus has been spreading — ”

“He’s trying to get at Lukas, but all he’s doing is breaking the team’s spirit.”

“Huh?” Shane asked.

“Markus has taken it personally that Lukas’s father was involved in the strike.”

“Uh ... yeah, I noticed.”

“Markus’s family is wealthy, and as far as he’s concerned, this was an attack on his family and their honor.”

“Markus is an asshole,” Shane said. “It’s Lukas’s father who stands to serve time in prison — ”

“Don’t say that!”

“Johan — ”

“You don’t understand.”

“I understand better than you do, Johannes,” he said. Suddenly his voice changed. He spoke gently. “My father died. I lost him. Forever. And now Lukas stands to lose his father too. It’s different, yes. I understand that. But Grundtvig could be imprisoned for the rest of his life.”

“He faces a sentence of seventy-plus years!” I cried.

Shane looped his arms around my shoulders and rested his hands on the back of my head, his fingers laced together, and in my hair. I leaned forward and touched my forehead to his.

I was crying.

“It’s okay,” he said.

I was embarrassed, but I couldn’t stop. The tears just kept coming.

“Johan?” That was Susanna’s voice.

Go away!

I didn’t need Susi to see me cry! I put my hand over my face and turned away.

“What’s wrong?” she said.

Shane stepped away from me and touched Susanna’s shoulder. I saw this through my fingers.

“Go to class, Susanna,” he said and gave her a gentle squeeze. “I want to talk to your brother.”

I nodded to let her know I wanted the same, to speak with Shane.

She felt rejected, I saw, but went back toward the school.

“We’ll be late for class,” I told Shane. “They’ll lock us out.”

“Let them.”

* * *

“When’s Máire going to have the baby?” I asked Shane.

“Around the end of December,” he said.

The two of us had decided to go to a diner a few blocks west of Sceofeld Academy to talk, and were seated across from each other in a booth. I’d ordered and paid for breakfast. Shane had eggs and sausage. I had pancakes, eggs, and bacon. We shared a pitcher of orange juice.

“Matti said the baby must be huge.”

Shane nodded. “That’s what I’m thinking too. I’m betting it’ll be nine pounds or more.”

“Do you know what sex it is?”

“My sister’s waiting for the birth,” he said. “Her boyfriend Simon wants to know now. He wants a son, of course.”


“She’s not backing down. She told him: ‘We’ll know if you have a son — or I have a daughter — when the baby’s born.’ She was raging pissed when she said it too.”

“Is her boyfriend.... Do you like him? Are you happy for them?” I asked carefully.

“I’m happy for my sister,” he said in a matter-of-fact way. “I’m happy she’s a soon-to-be mother.”

What Shane didn’t say let me know what he thought of Simon.

“Máire’s not feeling well,” Shane said after a moment. “She’s tired all the time. She moves slowly. She complains of being cold.”

“She should see a doctor,” I said. “Is your family covered by medical insurance?”

He shook his head. “No insurance. Can’t afford it. Mum took Máire to the doctor last week anyway. The doctor said she’s fine. So’s the baby. It’s her first pregnancy, after all, and the doctor doesn’t believe that her fatigue is particularly worrisome.”

“Elisabet is about Máire’s age, isn’t she?”

“Máire’s a year younger,” Shane said. He took a drink of juice, then asked, “Does Elisabet have a boyfriend?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Lisa’s boyfriend, Zacharias, is studying for a master’s degree in computer science.”

Shane grinned. “I used to be into computers too.”


He nodded. “Do you think they’ll marry?”

“I think so,” I said. “My sister is serious about him.”

“Do you like him?”

“I don’t know him very well,” I said. “But he played C-ball at Acbeorg Christian Academy his final year there.”

“Well at least you have something in common with him then,” Shane said. “I don’t have anything in common with Simon.” He paused. “Simon’s ... shifty. I don’t trust him.”

I nodded.

“Do you mind if I ask you something personal, Johan?”

“That depends.”

“When...?” He stopped.

I waited.

“When did you realize that you were gay?”

Somehow, I knew that’s what he was going to ask. “Fuck....”

“You don’t have to answer,” he said.

“Uh....” The sudden urge to bolt struck me; I fought it down. “I don’t know exactly,” I said finally.

There was a long moment of silence; I expected him to say more.

“I guess, to be honest, I never thought I was gay. Well, not exactly gay,” I said. “It never occurred to me to be curious about girls because my friendships with the other boys were so involved. We were always playing sports and running around.”

“Are you sure you’re gay then?”

“Believe me, Shane, I’m absolutely certain.”

“Matthias-Paulus says that your brother....” Shane started. “He thinks Matti’s bisexual.”

I snorted. “Lukas says the same.”

“Is he?”

“Why do you care?”

Shane blushed. “No reason really. Just curious.”

“Matti’s straight.”

A distinct, if unreadable, expression came over Shane’s face then.

An older couple, a man and woman who appeared to be in their seventies, followed a waitress past our table. Shane didn’t say anything more until they were well out of earshot.

“Was Lukas — ”

“My first?”

Shane nodded shyly.

“No. There was this neighbor of ours. His name was Mikael Lundmark. He was a few years older. I was fourteen. He was seventeen. It just happened.” I scratched my head. “Are you trying to embarrass me?”

Shane laughed. “Not deliberately.”

“Do I blush as easily as Matti?” I asked.

“More easily, I’d say.”

We laughed.

“I have to admit, Shane, I miss Mikael.”

“Where does he go to school?”

“He never applied to attend a college or university,” I said. “After he graduated from Sceofeld Academy, he left. He wanders Europa like a vagabond. Last I heard, he was working in Latium near Ostia. He sent me a postcard about nine months ago.”

“He lives in Italia?”

“He may not now, for all I know.”

“Were you together often?”

“Man, that is very personal!”

Shane let out a nervous laugh, a sure sign he’d embarrassed himself asking.

“We were a couple in every sense of the word,” I admitted. “I mean, I was in love with him. Call it puppy love, if you will. It was, I guess, but it sure felt like a hell of lot more than that to me at the time.” I poured myself another glass of orange juice. “I never associated the word ‘boyfriend’ with him the way I do with Lukas, but yeah, we were together all the time. His parents weren’t home often, and so, we got together a lot. He initiated things most of the time.”

“Was he good in bed?”


He laughed. “Made you blush!”

“It broke my heart when he graduated and moved away,” I muttered. “That’s what happened.”


“I threw myself completely into sports and school after that,” I said. “And then my feelings for Lukas came into focus. It was then I realized I was gay.”

* * *

I played a full game that evening against Lifrapol Central Academy. It wasn’t one of my best games. In fact, I played rather poorly. A least, I thought so. My knee started to ache in the second half and I called for a time out. Fortunately, Lukas played well, as did Matthias-Paulus, Andreas, and Antonius. And even though I was angry with Markus, I have to say, he played well too.

We beat Central Lifrapol by one point — 12 - 11.

The coach was pleased with how we’d played because it had been such a hard fought contest. He invited all of us over to his house after the game for a victory party. He and his wife, he said, would treat us to deli sandwiches, soft drinks, and ice cream.

“And don’t be shy about bringing your girlfriends,” he said. “You’re all welcome.”

But when we got back to the locker room things exploded between Lukas and Markus. There were words exchanged — “asshole” and “traitor” were the two I caught. Then Markus shoved Lukas. Not hard, but hard enough to express his anger. Lukas, though, retaliated aggressively, shoved Markus back hard, and sent him crashing into the bank of lockers behind him.

“It’s through between us, Lukas,” Markus shouted and pulled himself to his feet. “We aren’t friends any longer. Do you understand me, asshole? Our friendship is over!”

* * *

Lukas was waiting for me by my car in the Gymnasium parking lot. Still dressed in shorts and the jersey emblazoned with the academy’s crest, he hadn’t changed after the game, much less showered. He was leaned back against the car, arms crossed over his chest. His gaze was fixed on the asphalt.

“Hey,” I said.

He looked up. “I don’t want to go to the victory party tonight.”

“Neither do I.”

“You need to go,” he said. “You’re the team captain.”

“Who cares?”

“I do,” he said.

“Let’s go back to your place,” I said.

Lukas nodded, then said, “I lied.”


“I lied about Markus,” he said. “I told you once that I didn’t really like him all that much because he’s a bully. Well it’s true, Johan, he is a bully. And I don’t like that about him. But....” A sad expression crossed his face. “Markus and I.... Listen, you don’t have sex with someone as often as I have with Markus unless....”

“You care about him, don’t you?”

Lukas nodded. “I don’t feel about him the way I feel about you, Johan, but I still care a lot about him.”

“He’s driven a wedge between members of the team,” I said and felt a stab of anger. “It’s you on one side and him on the other. All of our teammates — our friends! — are beginning to line up and take sides. He’s broken the cohesiveness our team needs to function well. He’s demoralized us all. ”

“Don’t get me wrong, brother — Markus is a son-of-a-bitch,” Lukas said. “The way he’s been spreading rumors about me and you goes beyond just mean-spirited. Far beyond.”

“I can’t hide it now, Luki,” I said. “Sooner or later everybody is going to know that I’m gay.” The idea scared the shit out of me. “Shane already does. My rat-brother told him.”

“I wish you weren’t so uncomfortable about it,” he said. “I’m happy with who I am. I’m not ashamed of my sexuality. I wouldn’t change even if I could.”

“Well, neither would I. If I was straight, I wouldn’t be with you.”

Lukas grinned and nodded; he looked suddenly shy and grateful.

“The thing is though, your father doesn’t believe ‘faggots’ are going to rot in Hades in the hereafter either!” I said. “You were raised in an atmosphere of mutual respect.”

“Any god that would have you rot in Hades, Johannes, is not godly at all, but demonic!” Lukas stepped toward me, put his arms around my shoulders, and gave me a rough hug. “What your father doesn’t understand is that God blessed him with two fine sons, two fine daughters, and a wife far better than he deserves.”

We leaned back against the side of the car together. A moment passed.

I said, “I’m sorry that your father is in such trouble, Lukas.”

“My father has every right to stand up for himself, and to stand together with his fellow workers and friends in solidarity,” Lukas said. “I’m not at all sorry that he didn’t back down. I’m not sorry the union didn’t back down. I’m proud.”

“But your father might go to prison.”

The night before given that realization, he’d bawled. Tonight, he acknowledged the possibility — the probability — with a slight nod. He said then, “You know what the real evil in social relations is?”

“The concentration of power.”

“Yes,” he replied. “But why does power concentrate like that at all? It’s because people defer to authority. They allow themselves to be robbed. They allow themselves to governed. They allow themselves to be bullied. They do not want it. And they do not consent to such abuse either. In fact, they howl and rage against it! But they permit it nevertheless by refusing to act for themselves.”

“Well, of course! The threat of violence — ”

“Is ever-present,” he said and finished my thought. “Yes, I know. We all know!”

“Your right, of course.” I felt suddenly uncomfortable. His words stung; they struck too close to my heart. I lowered my eyes. “My brother believes I permit my father to ‘abuse’ me. Matti thinks it’s ‘abuse.’”

Lukas whispered, “It is, and you do.” He would not look me in the eyes because he knew his words hurt.

“How can I fight back though and still retain my father’s respect?” I asked finally.

“If you had your father’s respect, Johan, he wouldn’t berate you in the first place.”

* * *

I drove Lukas home. My heart ached and my head hurt. Too many things were said that day which had unsettled me. Lukas and I hadn’t talked much on the way back to his house either. He hoped aloud Markus had not meant what he’d said, that their friendship was finished. He hadn’t had anything else to say after that, but I knew that’s where his thoughts were.

“You’re going to have dinner with us tonight, right?” Lukas asked.

“I wanted to spend some time with you tonight, Lukas,” I said, “but maybe I should go home instead. I have a lot of concerns I need to sort out. Besides, I’m still grounded.”

“Don’t think about anything tonight,” he insisted. “Come inside.”

I was surprised to see Lukas’s mother and father — Sigrid and Grundtvig — and sister Inga already seated at the dining table. But more than that, two other places had been set. One for Lukas, and the other, clearly, for me.

“We’ve been expecting the two of you,” Sigrid said.

Lukas grinned at me, and explained: “I called home while you were still in the locker room after the game and had them set another place.”

“Pork chops and mashed potatoes;” I said enthusiastically, “Mum makes this meal all the time.”

Lukas and I sat down.

Grundtvig looked tired. “We heard you beat Central Lifrapol by a point,” he said.

“Yeah, one stinking point,” Lukas said. “Hardest game we’ve played this year. Well, except for the way when we fucked up against Hohtun. Won that one by a point too.”

“Watch you language at the table, Lukas,” his mother said.

“Sorry.” Then he announced, “Johan is going to spend the night.”

That was news to me!

An uncertain look crossed Sigrid’s face for a moment.

“Is that alright?” he asked his mother when he too noticed her expression.

“You have a sleeping bag upstairs for him, don’t you?”

“Mum, it’s okay, he can sleep in my bed,” Lukas said. “There’s plenty room for two.”

Sigrid looked across the table to Grundtvig. It was that same uncertain look she wore. It made me uncomfortable.

“I don’t have any problem with Johannes spending the night, Lukas,” he said. “His parents know he’s going to stay, right?”

I said, “I’ll let my mum know.”

“That’s fine with me, Johannes.” He faced his son then. “Tomorrow morning though, Lukas,” he said, “I need you to come with me.”


“Out to Suth Lifrapol,” he said. “I’ve offered to help Aleksei Paovlov. He can’t find work here in North Lancascir. Like me, and so many more, he’s been blacklisted. The blacklist has affected everything.” He paused for moment. “They’re moving because the landlord cancelled their lease.”

“Oh,” Lukas muttered. “That sucks.”

“Aleksei is Jaroslav’s father, yeah?” I said.

Grundtvig nodded.

“Is Jaroslav okay?”

Grundtvig’s lips came together in a tight, angry line. I knew right then Jaroslav’s injury had wounded him as it had my brother.

“Well ... there was no infection, if that’s what you mean,” he said. “They fit him with a glass eye.”

“Where are they going to live?” Lukas asked.

“With Jaroslav’s maternal grandparents,” he said. “They have an apartment up north in Scandia Nova just outside of Nyhavn in a town called Lillestróm.”

“His mum’s folks must have a big apartment then,” Lukas said.

“Lukas,” Grundtvig said with a heavy, annoyed sigh. “They don’t. It’s a two bedroom flat.”

“I just meant....” Lukas lowered his eyes. “I’m sorry.”

“I want you two boys in bed before midnight,” Grundtvig said. “Lukas, we need to get their possessions to the train station before ten tomorrow morning. Everything is boxed up already. But we’ve got to rent a larger truck before we get there. And it’ll take another hour or so to load everything, even with our help. We have to leave before six.”

Lukas’s shoulders slumped. “Fa’r,” he complained. “That’s so early!”

“Then get a good night’s sleep,” he replied.

* * *

Lukas and I watched television with Inga after dinner. We couldn’t agree on what to watch. Inga wanted to watch cartoons; I wanted to watch sports; Lukas wanted to watch a horror movie. It was settled when Sigrid joined us and changed the channel to a news program.

The news program was one of those “television news magazines.” The first two stories were boring. The first was about a long-retired movie star’s career, which started in the 2020s, when she was herself in her twenties, and ended in the mid-50s. Sigrid was entertained though, and mentioned she remembered clearly when her mother and father took her, when she was still a very small child, to see this actress in a romantic adventure called Stars Over the Irrawaddy. The second was about diet supplements. That was extremely dull, and Sigrid kept telling Lukas and Inga to shut up because they were arguing again about what we should watch. The third and final segment, however, was pertinent. It was entitled: Nationalism Rising — Is the Republic Already Obsolete?

The first portion was filmed in Iakutia, in Sinitic Iakutia, and was about the Slavs living there. They were the majority, if just barely. One man, a Ruthenian assembly plant worker, was interviewed. He said the ‘yoke’ of the Sinæ Republic and Federated Asian States was ‘not particularly heavy,’ but rather that the government in Shanghai didn’t understand its Slavic citizens, neither their culture, nor their heritage. He said there was a ‘natural Slavic Brotherhood’ which the Sinæ didn’t understand, and that all the Rus — the Great, Little, and White — should be united as it was before the Sinæ ‘conquered the Far East.’

‘Are you a Pan-Slavist, then?’ the reporter asked.

‘Yes. Absolutely,’ he said. ‘We are all one people — we are all Slavs — whether we be Ruthenian, or Polonian, or Croatian!’

A professor from the University of Niew Dunham in Nova Anglia was interviewed then. He was interviewed in his office. The walls were adorned with polished wooden bookshelves, from the floors to the ceilings. And he, too, was polished; an aristocrat to be sure.

He said, “In Sinitic Iakutia, the Rus may look back on the past romantically, and call for ‘Ruthenia, our Motherland, our Great Ruthenia,’ from ‘Carelia to Kamchatka,’ but in the west, the Poles want an independent ‘Republic of Polonia,’ the Czechs are calling for a ‘democratic Czechia,’ and the Slovenes clamor for a ‘free Slovenia.’ They all want to secede from the Republic of the Rus. They are not pan-Slavists, for that is, truly, an ideology popular only among the ruling-classes in, and about, Moskva and Petrograd.

“Blocs like the ‘pan-Slavic,’ and ‘pan-Germanic,’ and ‘pan-Arabic’ are inadequate because many people care not for the ‘ethnic complex’ to which they belong, but care rather for their specific ethnicity: Rus, Pole, Lombard, Saxon, Ægyptian, Syrian, or what have you.

“This Republic — this federation of ours — is suffering today through a bout of nationalistic nostalgia. A kind of ethic euphoria, if you will. One must understand there are nationalistic sentiments around the world which are not being addressed in the Senate by the Liberal and Conservative parties.

“That is why there has been the resurgence of parties like the Hindu Nationalists, Islamic Republicans, and Christian Nationalists,” he said.

“For example, in the Federated Arab and Islamic Republics, in Syria Palestina, among the quarter million Judæans living in and around Jerusalem, a militant political organization called BeneYa’akob — the ‘Sons of Iacob’ — has formed recently calling for the restoration of ‘David’s Kingdom,’ while the Palestinians want alternately an ‘Islamic Arab republic’ or ‘Christian Arab republic’ fully independent of Syria.

“The issue of nationalism goes far beyond religious zeal though. What of the National Patriots here in the AFR? They have very little in common with the Christian Nationalists other than that they oppose the Republic, want the AFR to pull out, and the stench of authoritarianism, xenophobia, and racism fumes up from their literature.

“You see, the National Patriot movement is secular — they aren’t calling for a theocracy. Nowhere do they speak of ‘The Christian Republic of Greater Anglia,’ as the Christian Nationalists do.”

“Federalism must address the issues important to nationalists,” he said firmly. “But it must also prevent nationalism from spiraling downward into isolationism, provincialism, racism and militarism.”

Professor Baldricson was a Liberal, for he spoke their party-line very plainly. In this respect, that regarding the advantages and necessity of federalism, Liberals, anarchists, and left-socialists spoke a remarkably similar language.

“Liberals and Conservatives need to come together,” he said. “The tension between the Rus and Sinæ is but the most glaring example of the dangers we face. The actions of the Republic’s Senate, in placing sanctions against the Rus and Sinæ, were appropriate. And the Consulate was correct in demanding an investigation, even if it does irk nationalists, who claim it is a violation of the sovereignty of these national republics to demand their military records.

“But further action must be taken, before these nationalists mutate and become ultra-nationalists.

“If that happens, this Republic will be rent to pieces.”

* * *

After ten, Lukas pushed my shoulder and indicated he wanted to go upstairs to his room. He pushed me up the stairs and prodded me to move faster. Once we were out of sight, he grabbed my hand and led me into his bedroom. Then he locked the door behind us.

“I need to take a shower,” he said and pulled off his jersey.

I stretched out on his unmade bed.

He went to the dresser and retrieved a pair of clear white briefs. Then he sat beside me on the bed and pulled off his shoes and socks.

“Take off you clothes,” he told me.

“After you’ve showered,” I said.

Lukas pulled his shorts down and off. “Let’s shower together.”

“We’ve never — ”

“First time for everything,” he said and stripped off his underwear too.

Lukas’s dark pubic hair formed a triangle, and a slight trail led to his belly button, but he was otherwise perfectly smooth on his abdomen and chest. Then my attention fell towards his cock. It was narrow at the base, but thicker at the head, which was hidden entirely by his foreskin. Flaccid, his penis was fairly long, perhaps longer than average, longer than my own, and it hung alongside his balls.

“Let me help you,” he said, leaned forward, and unbuttoned my dress coat.

“I can undress myself,” I said.

“That’s no fun!”

As soon as I had my dress coat and vest off, Lukas helped me pull my shirt off. Then he pushed me back again onto the bed and took off my shoes and stockings. I watched him and felt that sudden, familiar rush of excitement in the center of my chest and again in my crotch. Then he grinned and opened the front of my knee-breeches. He grabbed the waist and tugged them down. Once they were off, he went for the waistband of my briefs too.

I grabbed his wrist. “Wait.”

“I’m so hard it hurts!” he protested.

I was every bit as hard and excited as Lukas, but I was suddenly embarrassed too. I hated the fact that I was so reserved sexually. Here I was with my boyfriend, who had seen me naked more than just a few times, and yet every time, I got self-conscious.

“Take it easy, stud,” I said and stood up.

“Follow me, boy,” Lukas said and offered a seductive grin over his shoulder as he walked toward the bathroom. God, he had one cute, smooth bottom.

I followed Lukas into the bathroom. He stepped into the shower, twisted the knobs, and tested the water’s temperature with his foot under the faucet. “Do you prefer it warm or hot?”


He looked me up and down. “Take off you underwear, man.”

Shyly, I slid my briefs down and off and joined him in the shower. He pulled the curtain shut. There was room for us to maneuver, but we stood close. He turned the shower head and let the stream wash over his chest. Then he adjusted it again. The water pulsed as it came down over both of us.

Lukas’s cock, fully erect, was the same length as mine, almost seven inches, but unlike mine, his was slightly bowed. I ran my fingers along its length, from the tip to his scrotum. Then he turned and pressed his back against my chest. My cock rested in the cleft between his buttocks.

“Stroke it,” he said and grabbed my hand, placing it on his erection.

I moved my hand slowly on his cock. Then he turned and took my cock in his hand. We each started to masturbate one another, but stopped, only to explore each other’s body with our hands. We touched each other just about everywhere. I have to admit, I was embarrassed when his fingers brushed against my asshole. I had avoided touching him there, after all.

We moved together lazily as we touched and kneaded each other’s sore back and shoulder muscles and kissed. He washed my back and buttocks. I turned around and he soaped my chest. Then I was doing the same for him. By time we got around to washing our hair, the warm water had cooled, and by time we had finished, it was cold.

After we had dried off, he led me to the bed. He motioned me to lay back. Then he laid down beside me. Only our thighs touched. He reached over and took my cock in his hand. I did the same to him. The two of us had learned what the other enjoyed, and we usually could make the other come easily, but that wasn’t what we were up to right then. I could sense all Lukas wanted was to cuddle.

And so I pulled him in against me and spooned him. My arms went around him and I gave him a vigorous squeeze. He moaned like it hurt a bit. So I kissed him on the side of neck. He moaned lightly in response. My cock softened again. I reach below his waist, curious, and discovered he was soft too.

After ten or fifteen minutes of holding each other in that position, he said, “I want to mess around, but I’m wiped out.”

He got up and went into the bathroom to put on the clean briefs he’d left on the counter top.

I followed him and pulled on my underwear too.

“You’ve been sweating in those all day,” Lukas told me. “Get a clean pair out of my drawer.”

I took a pair of white briefs out of the dresser drawer that matched the pair Lukas wore. Lukas came up behind me and wrapped his arms around me after I pulled them on.

“I love you,” he said. “I’ve been acting like an asshole the last few days. I’m sorry.”

I turned and kissed him. “I understand, Lukas. Really, I do.”

Lukas opened the balcony door. Then he wandered into the bathroom to take a leak.

“It’ll get cold with the balcony door open,” I said.

“I’m counting on it,” he said.


“It’s feels nice to cuddle up under the blankets in the cold,” he said. “And all the more so because you’ll be here to keep me warm.”

After Lukas was finished, he brushed his teeth. I took a leak too. Then I spread toothpaste onto my finger and tried to brush my teeth that way.

Lukas laid down on the bed in his underwear. He had his hands back behind his head. He had one leg up, bent at the knee, and lounged comfortably. I laid beside him.

“I guess I’ll never see him again,” Lukas said with a sigh.


“Jaroslav Alekseivich.”

I didn’t say anything.

“God, I can just imagine what that will be like trying to get Jaroslav, Mischa, Jascha, Ekatrina, and their parents, stuffed into a two-bedroom apartment together with his grandparents.”

“Mischa? Jascha?”

“His little brothers, Mikhail and Jakov.” He pursed his lips. “Well, the hovel they live in right now has only two bedrooms. All three boys have to sleep in the same bed together.”

“A hovel?”

“They try to keep it up, but it’s an apt description, Johan,” he said. “There are three houses sitting together on a single lot,” he explained. “The oldest house on the lot is nearing a hundred years. The others were built later after housing codes were abolished.”

Suth Lifrapol was Niew Lifrapol’s dirt-poor suburb immediately to the south. It had been poor in the twentieth century too. Most of the inhabitants were lower-income members of the working-classes. That hadn’t changed. But the relative buying power of such workers had, for the worse, and drastically.

“I feel bad for Ekatrina, the little girl,” he said through a deep yawn. “She has to sleep by herself in the living room right now. She’s younger than Inga by a couple of years. She’s at that age where she believes in ghosts.”

Then Lukas pulled the covers up over us.

We cuddled, his head on my chest, our arms around each other.



“Did you see that look your mum got when you said it was okay if I slept in your bed,” I said. “Do you think she knows what’s going on between us?”

“We need to tell her,” he said. “And my father too.”

I knew it was inevitable. “When?”

“Later, I guess,” he said in a sleepy voice.

I was hard, my cock ached, and I wanted so badly to mess around, but Lukas had already fallen asleep.

* * *

To be continued....