Finally, at the end of this chapter, Jeremy plucks up the courage to tell Bilal the way he feels. But I'd hate you to feel you have to scroll straight down to find out what happens, so before we get to Jeremy we'll see Paul getting Owen ready for the next stage of their relationship, and we'll also get to watch Miguel as Kenji take his sex education a stage further...
The summer holiday was now less than a week away, and most of the boys were looking forward to getting away from school for a nice long time. One of them, however, was wondering whether he might actually be safer at school, where time outside the classroom was limited and there were generally plenty of people about, than he would be out in the woods somewhere, just him and one other person…
Although Paul still hadn’t even spanked Owen (except a couple of swipes in fun), far less done any of the horrible things Danny seemed to have done to Alan, he had threatened to do so on more than one occasion; and while Owen was almost sure he was just teasing, he did find himself wondering sometimes. He hadn’t been back to Paul’s house in the past week and a half, but Paul was very keen to sort out some time together during the summer, and Owen was still not quite sure whether he wanted to carry on with this or not.
On the whole he thought he did want to carry on, because most of the time he enjoyed it: it was just the non-sexual stuff that he didn’t like. He certainly didn’t want to spend part of his summer holidays polishing Paul’s shoes and cleaning his windows.
On the Wednesday morning of the last week of term Paul grabbed him at the start of the lunch break and took him to the pavilion. They went up to one of the small changing rooms at the top of the building and Owen started to get undressed without needing to be told.
“Good, you’re learning,” said Paul, sitting on the table and swinging his legs happily. “So – when are you going away during the holidays?”
“We aren’t going away this year,” Owen told him, removing his pants and putting them on top of his other clothes. “Just a day trip now and then, that’s all.”
“Brilliant – we’ll be able to spend plenty of time together, then, because we’re not going away until right at the end of the holidays. So what would you like to do?”
“Well… it’s not really up to me, is it?” asked Owen, kneeling down and putting his hands on his head in the approved position.
“No, but… we don’t have to play this game all the time, do we? I wouldn’t mind doing other stuff with you sometimes… Maybe we could go to the cinema, or go swimming, or something like that? Most of my other friends seem to be going away at the beginning of the holidays, and it’s not as good going to the cinema on your own, is it?”
“I wouldn’t mind that at all,” said Owen.
“Of course, Danny would tell me off, because he says you’re not supposed to be nice to your slaves unless they really, really deserve it, and you should never treat them like equals, or they’re likely to get stroppy. But I reckon you’ve been pretty obedient so far, and I don’t think going to the cinema with me would make you get all rebellious, would it?”
Owen shook his head rapidly.
“Good. We can work out actual dates and stuff once the holiday starts. Of course, most of the time you’ll still be my slave, so you’ll have to be really obedient if you don’t want to get whipped. I’d like to camp out with you if we can get permission – that could be good fun. And maybe we could go to visit Danny again, so he can show me exactly how I should be treating you…”
“No, I don’t think you need to do that,” said Owen quickly. “You’re treating me perfectly.”
“Ah, but if you think that, then perhaps I am being too gentle with you… anyway, there’s one thing Danny said I really ought to do with you, just to make it absolutely clear who’s in charge here: he said I ought to fuck you at least once a week. So I think I should, don’t you?”
Owen stared at him. A tiny part of him wondered what it would feel like, but most of him thought it already knew: it would hurt. He’d watched Colin fucking Graham back when Graham was still being punished for bullying them all, and it was obvious that Graham had hated every second of it, uttering cries of pain and sobbing like a baby after it was over. And, of course, that was just the physical side of it: there was also the psychological position to consider.
Colin had told them that being fucked changes things: once you’ve been fucked, you have to let the boy who did it to you do it again whenever he wants. And according to Colin, a boy who has had it done to him isn’t really a proper boy ever again afterwards. Owen didn’t like the idea of that at all.
“I really don’t want you to do that,” he said. “It’ll really, really hurt. And I really don’t want to stop being a proper boy.”
“What are you talking about?”
So Owen told him what Colin had said, and Paul simply laughed.
“That’s rubbish,’ he said. “Nothing can stop you being a boy, unless you actually get your bits chopped off, or something. I reckon Carlington was only winding you up when he said that. It wouldn’t change you at all. And as for it hurting… well, yes it would if I did it the way Danny said, which is just to bend you down and ram it in really hard. And maybe that’s what Alan deserved, but I don’t think you deserve that at all.
“Look, Owen, I really want to try it, because Danny says it feels loads better than being sucked. I don’t see how anything could feel better than that because you do it brilliantly and it feels amazing, but if there is anything better I want to find out about it. But not if it really hurts you, because I’m not like Danny and you’re not like Alan: you don’t deserve that. So I’ve worked out a way to get you ready for it that shouldn’t hurt at all – and I promise that when we do actually do it I’ll stop if it hurts you, okay? I mean, obviously I don’t have to make promises to a slave, so you can see I’m serious about this. So… get down on your hands and knees and spread your legs.”
Slightly apprehensively Owen did as he was told. Paul knelt down beside him, pulled a small bottle of shampoo from his blazer pocket and poured a small amount into the cleft between Owen’s buttocks. He then used his finger to rub it gently around and then into his anus, slipping his forefinger inside and twisting it back and forth a bit.
“Does that hurt?” he asked.
“No. It feels a bit funny, but it doesn’t really hurt.”
“Good. Then let’s try this.”
‘This’ turned out to be an old cartridge pen, which Paul lubricated carefully with the shampoo and then inserted into Owen’s orifice. He only pushed it part-way in, so there was less than three inches inside, and again Owen said that it didn’t hurt. Paul pulled it out and pushed it in steadily for a minute or so, and while Owen thought it felt strange it still wasn’t uncomfortable. It was pretty embarrassing, of course, and if anyone else had been there watching he thought he’d have died of shame, but with nobody else there it wasn’t too bad. In fact, when Paul stopped and pulled it out he felt almost disappointed.
“That’s enough for now,” said Paul, wiping the pen off with a tissue. “We’ll do a bit of that every day, and we’ll use something a little larger every day, so when I come to do it properly you should be used to it. I hope so, anyway.”
He used another tissue to clean Owen’s bottom and then went and washed his hands, using the shower rather than walking downstairs to the washbasins. Owen, meanwhile, stayed exactly where he was.
“Why are you still on your hands and knees?” Paul asked, drying his hands on his blazer.
“Because you didn’t give me permission to move,” replied Owen.
“Wow, you really are good at this game! I’d never have thought… Well, since you’re still like that, maybe I should make the most of it. Turn round and face the bench, and then you can give me a nice long suck.”
Owen didn’t mind that at all, and he quickly took up a position between Paul’s knees. Paul removed his shorts and pants and lifted his shirt out of the way, and Owen shuffled forward and got to work. As far as he was concerned, this was by far the best part of their game, and he was ready to put up with an awful lot of other stuff if he still got to do this on a regular basis: Paul had a beautiful erection, hard, hot, thick – well, a lot thicker than Owen’s pencil-like article, anyway - and getting on for four and a half inches long, and with that perfect uncovered tip that Owen simply couldn’t stop looking at – except when it was in his mouth, of course.
As usual he took it as slowly as he could, glancing at his watch now and again – it was the only thing he was still wearing – to make sure they would be done in time for the end of break, and using his hands as well as his lips to make his master feel as good as possible.
Paul still couldn’t believe his luck: this was the most incredible feeling in the world (and he still couldn’t believe that fucking would be even better, whatever Danny said) and he had a slave who really enjoyed doing it for him. And he thought that Owen would let him fuck him, too, provided he was gentle and careful about it. A small part of him wanted to be like Danny, able to do absolutely anything to his slave: he wondered how it would feel to tie Owen down out in the woods and whip him till his bum bled, or to pee all over his face, or to crush his balls till he cried… but the more sensible part of him realised that as long as Owen went on enjoying what they did together he’d go on sucking Paul’s cock, but if he got badly hurt he’d almost certainly stop. Paul wondered if Owen’s promise to remain his slave would prove strong enough to keep him in line if his master started to torture him, and he thought that it might not. Better by far not to take the risk… And besides, he liked Owen, and the idea of torturing him didn’t really appeal all that much. Of course, if it was someone else things might be different…
Owen brought him to another amazing climax and then knelt humbly at Paul’s feet until he had recovered and got dressed once more.
“I see that your little twig’s got all hard again,” commented Paul, doing up his belt. “You know you’re not allowed to let that happen. Stand up.”
Owen stood up, and Paul slapped the erection three times, making it jerk about comically. Then he took hold of it and caressed it instead, and Owen gave a little gasp of pleasure.
“How long do you need to get dressed?” Paul asked.
“About two minutes.”
“Then we’ve got about five minutes… so now I’m going to make you feel good for a change.” And for the next five minutes Paul stroked Owen’s whole body, though spending most of his time gently feeling his genitals and bum. He pressed against Owen’s anus once or twice and was delighted when Owen spread his legs a little to make it easier for him to reach it: maybe he’d be able to get his cock in there before too long if Owen was prepared to accept this sort of treatment already.
“Okay, we’d better stop,” he said, glancing at his watch, and Owen gave a groan of disappointment. “Don’t worry, though: if we camp out during the summer I’ll be able to go on doing that to you all night if we want. Well, if I want, anyway… now get dressed, slave, and hurry up!”
So Owen threw his clothes back on, though his penis was really hard by now and it was difficult for him to do his zip up. Paul watched him, grinning, and then, once the battle with the shorts was finally won, led him back to their form room for afternoon lessons.
Finally Friday afternoon arrived, and with it the end of term. The boys all had plans for the holidays: most would be going away with their parents at some point, but all of them were also looking forward to spending time with their friends away from the tyranny of the school timetable: more than six weeks of almost unlimited freedom stretched away ahead of them.
Miguel was heading for Spain on the Sunday, and had already packed most of what he wanted to take by Friday evening, and that left him Saturday to do what he wanted. And that was good, because on the Friday evening he got a phone call from Jeremy, asking if he wanted to go round on Saturday afternoon – it would be their last chance to get together for four weeks, because Jeremy was flying to California on the Monday morning. Miguel accepted straight away, and then remembered that he had already more or less agreed to go and visit Kenji again this Saturday. So he called Kenji up and asked if he could go round on Saturday morning instead.
“Yes, okay,” Kenji told him after a moment’s consultation with his parents. “Normally we do the shopping on a Saturday morning, but apparently they can manage without me for once. Come round any time after nine o’clock – oh, and my mother says you can stay for lunch if you like.”
“Thank you. That would be good,” said Miguel, and it was only later that he found himself wondering if he would have to eat something really strange for lunch: he’d heard that the Japanese really like raw fish, and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to eat something like that without being sick. But he decided not to worry about it just yet.
So the next morning Miguel rode round to Kenji’s house and got there shortly after nine o’clock, to find that Kenji’s parents had already left. Kenji took him up to his room and pushed the bed against the wall.
“We’ve probably got an hour and a half before my parents get back,” he said, “so if we’re going to make a noise, this would be a good time. So I thought we could start by seeing if you’ve remembered what I taught you last time. See if you can get me onto the floor.”
So Miguel tried, and once again he failed more times than he succeeded, but Kenji said he thought he was getting better, all the same.
“Okay,” he said, helping Miguel up (he’d somehow spun round and thrown Miguel instead of letting himself be thrown that time), “I think that’s enough of that. What would you like to do next?”
“Well… could you teach me some more about sex, please?”
“I knew you were going to say that,” said Kenji, grinning at him. “Well, okay: just get undressed while I put the bed back where it belongs.”
Miguel stripped off without argument and lay down on the bed. “I think that you should undress, too,” he said.
“Do you? Well… okay, then. After all, you’ve seen me once.”
Kenji stripped off, and Miguel watched him, his penis stiffening up as he did so.
“You like seeing me undressed, then, do you?” commented Kenji, looking at it.
“Well, yes,” admitted Miguel. “You look good without your clothes.”
“Thank you,” said Kenji. “Now see if you can remember what I showed you last time – see if you can make mine as hard as yours is now.”
He lay down next to Miguel, who took hold of Kenji’s penis and played with it until it started to go hard. Then he started to rub it up and down as he had been taught on his previous visit.
“Don’t do that”, said Kenji. “We’ve go ages yet before my parents get home, and there are lots of other things we can try first. I don’t want to get excited too quickly. Now… is there anything you think we ought to try?”
“I have found out that this feels good,” said Miguel, rolling on top of Kenji.
“Really? So what do we do now?”
“Now we relax. It feels good to be close like this.”
“I suppose it does…but there are some other things I’d like to show you, too. Lie on your back again.”
Miguel did that, and Kenji played with his erection for a few seconds and then, to Miguel’s astonishment, slipped it into his mouth.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Relax. I think you’ll like this.”
And he did like it – it felt weird, but nice at the same time. And when Kenji used his lips to push his foreskin down and then started licking the exposed tip, it felt absolutely amazing. And then Kenji started slipping it into and out of his mouth, still licking hard, and Miguel thought he was going to get that special feeling again… and then Kenji stopped abruptly.
“Oh, please do not stop,” begged Miguel. “I had almost had that thing happen to me – please do it again…”
“Not yet,” said Kenji. “Like I said, we’ve got loads of time. So you liked that, did you?”
“It was really good. But… I do not know if I can do that to you… does it not taste horrible?”
“I think it tastes quite nice, actually. Just have a quick try, and if you really don’t like it you can stop.”
“Well… okay, I will try. But you must not let any of that wet stuff come out.”
“Some people think that tastes really nice,” Kenji told him. “But don’t worry, I won’t let that happen this time. Go on, try it – please?”
Miguel wasn’t at all sure about this. But he had to admit that being on the receiving end felt really good – and if they were really friends (which he was pretty sure they were) then he ought to at least try to do the same think for Kenji. So he took a deep breath and let the stiff penis slip into his mouth.
It didn’t taste bad, but it didn’t really taste nice, either: in fact it didn’t seem to taste of anything. Encouraged, he set to work, trying to do what Kenji had done to him, licking it extensively and sliding it into and out of his mouth. But when he started to push the foreskin down, Kenji trembled and said, “Please be careful, Miguel: try not to let your teeth touch the end, or it’ll really hurt me. It’s really sensitive when the skin’s been pulled back.”
So Miguel was careful to keep his teeth out of the way, but even licking it made Kenji gasp and groan – though he didn’t tell Miguel to stop, so it can’t have been entirely horrible.
Keeping the skin fully retracted, Miguel started to move his lips up and down, and it wasn’t long before Kenji told him to stop.
“It’s going to happen if you don’t stop now,” he added five seconds later, and Miguel, who really didn’t want a taste of whatever that liquid stuff was, quickly slipped it out of his mouth.
“Use your hand,” begged Kenji, “but be careful of the end bit… yes, that’s fine… that’s good…”
It only took about half a minute before Kenji tensed up and produced some more of that colourless liquid.
“Try some,” suggested Kenji. “Have a taste and see what you think.”
“No, thank you.”
“Go on… look, I’ll show you.” Kenji touched his forefinger to the tip of his penis and collected a small amount of the liquid, which he transferred to his mouth.
“See?” he said. “It won’t do you any harm.”
“Well…” Miguel was sure it would taste like piss. He had no idea what piss tasted like, but he didn’t really want to find out, either. Still, if Kenji thought it was okay… He collected a smear on his forefinger and put it tentatively in his mouth – and found that it didn’t really taste of anything.
“See?” said Kenji, again. “It’s not too bad, is it? Okay, when I get a bit older and it starts to turn white, there’ll be a bit more of a taste, but not a bad one. Anyway, your turn: lie on your back again.”
Miguel did that, but instead of rubbing him by hand Kenji used his mouth once more, and soon Miguel was wriggling about again, enjoying the amazing feelings it was giving him. Kenji stopped a couple of times, grinning at him when Miguel begged him to keep going, but eventually he kept moving long enough for Miguel to experience an exquisite climax.
“Nice?” asked Kenji.
Miguel nodded vigorously.
“Good. Then we’d better get dressed before my parents get home.”
Miguel got up and reached for his pants, noticing that Kenji’s penis was erect again, which suggested to him that Kenji liked doing this. And that was good news, because he thought it was absolutely brilliant, and he wanted to do it as often as possible from now on.
They finished dressing and got the Go set out, and Kenji was still trying to explain tactics when his parents returned home. The boys went downstairs to help carry in the shopping and then went straight back to the game, which kept them busy until lunch time.
Miguel was looking a bit apprehensive when they all sat down at the dining table, but found himself looking at a perfectly normal burger and chips. He gave a sigh of relief.
“What is it, Miguel?” asked Mr Nakamura. “Everything all right?”
“Yes, thank you. I was just not sure what we would eat.”
“Ah, you were expecting… what, seaweed, perhaps?”
“Raw fish,” admitted Miguel.
Mr Nakamura laughed. “Do you know what a stereotype is?” he asked, and Miguel shook his head.
“Well, a stereotype is what someone thinks someone else should be like. English people seem to think that a typical Japanese person should bow a lot, wear long formal robes, have tea ceremonies that go on all afternoon, and eat strange food. Well, we do sometimes eat sushi – that’s your raw fish – but not very often. And we never have tea ceremonies or wear national costume, and I don’t do a lot of bowing, either.”
“But we do play Go,” put in Kenji. “And I do martial arts, though all the other kids I train with are English. Anyway, you know what a stereotype is, don’t you? Everyone thinks Spanish people drink lots of red wine, sleep all afternoon and then go to the bullfight. And come from Barcelona, and are called Manuel, and are thick. Right?”
“I suppose that is true. I am sorry – I did not mean to be rude,” said Miguel.
“It’s not really being rude,“ said Mr Nakamura. “If you like, next time you come to lunch we can have sushi, just so that you can find out what it’s like. But we can have burgers if you prefer.”
“I like burgers,” admitted Miguel. “But perhaps one time I should try the raw fish… perhaps when I am a little older.”
On this occasion he ate the burgers, enjoying them and thinking that maybe the raw fish could wait until he was a lot older. And afterwards he said goodbye to Kenji and his family, got on his bike and rode round to Jeremy’s house.
Jeremy took him round to the park so that they could have a game of tennis. Neither of them was really very good, but it was fun, all the same. And after that they went back to Jeremy’s house and played chess, which Miguel was reasonably good at: his cousin Roberto played a lot, and every summer they played in the evenings, or during the day if it rained or if they didn’t feel like going to the beach, and as a result Miguel had become quite a decent player. Better than Jeremy, at least, who lost the first couple of games but still wanted to try again.
Miguel finished setting up the board and waited for Jeremy to make the first move, but Jeremy was staring into space, his mind obviously elsewhere.
“What is wrong?” asked Miguel.
“Huh? Oh, nothing… sorry, Miguel, I was miles away…”
“What were you thinking about?”
“Well… I’ve got a bit of a problem: I need to talk to someone about something but I don’t know how to do it.”
“Oh. I am sorry – I do not know how you should do that. Perhaps you should just start to speak and then just let the words happen – maybe it will work.”
“Maybe. Sorry, Miguel – let’s get on with the game.”
Jeremy lost again, so Miguel played the next game with a running commentary on why he was making each move, just as Kenji had done for him when they played Go, and he was able to give Jeremy some advice about having a definite plan and working towards it, rather than just moving aimlessly as he seemed to do most of the time.
Miguel went home after tea. He’d enjoyed being with Jeremy even though they hadn’t done anything rude together: just being with him had been fun. And because Adolf had raised no objection to the visit it meant that Jeremy now had another friend who could come round to see him at home, and Miguel knew that was important to him. He was still a bit concerned about his friend, though: Jeremy had seemed to be really worried about something…
Miguel was travelling on the Sunday afternoon, which meant that he wasn’t able to attend the first football session of the holidays. Everyone else was there, however; Kam had rescued his ball from the neighbour’s garden, and a good round of four-a-side matches ensued. Nobody suggested a game of headers and volleys today, not even Tony, because Jeremy had told him on the way to the car park that today was going to be the day that he spoke to Bilal, and Tony was therefore too preoccupied to suggest a round of the streaking game. So when they finished playing Jeremy, Bilal and Tony walked back to Tony’s house together – Tony had offered Jeremy the use of his room for his conversation with Bilal.
Jeremy had just told Bilal that he needed to talk to him without giving any hint as to why, and Bilal had just accepted it at face value. Tony installed both of them in his room and went out, telling them that he’d be downstairs if they needed him.
“Well,” said Bilal, sitting on the bed, “what did you want to talk to me about?”
Jeremy was already wishing that he hadn’t done this: now that the crunch had arrived he had no idea of how to proceed. What was it Miguel had said: just start to speak and hope that the words come? Well, he couldn’t think of anything better to try…
“Look, Bilal, I’ve… I’ve got a problem. See… well…” He swallowed, wondering how on earth to say what he had to say.
“Hey, relax,” said Bilal. “Just tell me, okay? Whatever it is, I’m sure we can sort it out together – can’t we?”
“I don’t know. I really hope so, but… see, Bilal, I think… I think I love you.”
“Sorry, I'm not getting you. I mean, I already know we're friends, you don't have to tell me so... so what's this problem you're worrying about?”
“No, stupid, you're not listening. That is the problem: I think I love you.”
“Well, I’m not sure I’d put it quite like that, but obviously I really like you, too. I mean, we’ve been best friends for ever, haven’t we?”
“No, you’re still not getting it. I mean… I mean more than friends, Bilal. Much more. I mean…”
Realisation finally dawned. “Oh,” said Bilal. “You mean… do you mean that… you fancy me?”
“Well, yes, I suppose so.”
“Oh. Oh, shit, Jeremy, why?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I didn’t choose for it to happen, or anything. It just did.”
“Is that all you can say?”
“Well, what the hell do you expect me to say?”
“You could say that you feel the same way.”
“But I don’t, Jeremy! I don’t… I mean, I could never think of you that way. Don’t you get it? I like girls, the same as everyone else. I couldn’t even think about doing… stuff… with you… Oh, shit…” He put his head in his hands.
Jeremy could think of nothing constructive to say at this point, so he just stood awkwardly by the window and hoped that Bilal would say something. But Bilal said nothing at all.
“So… where do we go from here?” asked Jeremy, eventually. “I mean, are we still friends?”
“I don’t know,” said Bilal, looking up at him. “I mean, I suppose so… but… look, I need to think about this. I’ve got to go.”
“Wait!” cried Jeremy, as his friend stood up and headed for the door. “I’m sorry, Bilal – I didn’t mean to… “
“To what? To mess with my head? To ruin us being friends? To… I have to go, Jeremy. I’ll talk to you when you get back from California, okay? By then I’ll have sorted it out in my head. Maybe.” And he went out and closed the door.
Tony met him at the foot of the stairs, and one look at his face was all it took. And one look was all it took for Bilal, too.
“You knew, didn’t you?” he accused. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because I promised him I wouldn’t. He had to decide for himself whether to tell you – I couldn’t decide that for him.”
“How long have you known?”
“Since that night in the garage. That’s what I messed up about – remember I told you I’d reacted badly to something he told me? Well, that’s what it was.”
“Ohhhhh – yes, now I understand.”
“No, you don’t. See, it wasn’t the thought of him being queer that freaked me out, it was the fact that he’d fallen for you instead of me.”
“I’m the same as him, Bilal, except I think I’m in love with him. So when he told me that he was in love with you I couldn’t handle it.”
Bilal gaped at him. “Bloody hell, am I the only normal person round here?” he asked.
“Depends how you define ‘normal’, I suppose.”
“Well, liking girls, then. And… have you told him how you feel?”
“Not yet. If you’d turned out to feel the same way about him I’d have kept quiet about it and hoped you could be happy together. But now… now I’ll have to try to see if he’ll accept me instead of you. Maybe if he can he might stop thinking about you in that way.”
Bilal shook his head slowly. “I really can’t cope with this,” he said. “I’m going home, Tony. Look… no, forget it: I need to think.”
“Call me tomorrow,” said Tony. “Even if you decide you don’t ever want to speak to either of us again, call me and tell me, okay? We’ve been friends for years, Bilal – you owe me that at least.”
“I suppose so. I’ll speak to you tomorrow, then.” And he went out.
Tony took a deep breath and went upstairs to his room, where he found Jeremy sitting on the bed staring into space.
“Now what?” he asked him.
Jeremy shrugged. “If I’m lucky he’ll still be friends with me. If not, I’ve probably ruined the best friendship I’ve ever had.”
“Right. Well…there’s something you need to know, Jeremy. That night in the garage, when you told me you fancied Bilal and I freaked… it wasn’t because you said you liked boys that I couldn’t handle it, but because… because I was jealous.”
“Jealous? What, because you thought it would get in the way of the three of us being friends, do you mean?”
“No, I mean jealous, as in, I wanted the same thing.”
“Eh? What, you mean… you mean, you fancy him too?”
“No, stupid. Don’t you get it yet? I was jealous of him, not of you. I was jealous because you said you loved him and… and not me.”
“But… shit, Tony, of course I love you… I mean, you’ve been a brilliant friend to me, for years. Obviously you’re important to me. Of course, I don’t mean ‘love’ like I love Bilal…” He tailed off, staring at Tony. “Oh, shit,” he said, quietly, exactly as Bilal had done earlier. “Christ, Tony, you don’t mean… oh, God, you do, don’t you? You… you’re…”
“I’m in love with you, yes,” said Tony. “I have been for ages, but I’ve never dared say anything – just like you and Bilal, I suppose. Stupid, isn’t it?”
“Oh, God, what a fucking mess,” whispered Jeremy. “No wonder you went spare when I told you about him… why didn’t you go and tell him then? He’d have told me to fuck off and you’d have had a clear chance…”
“Because I love you, of course. I could never do anything to hurt you.”
“But… what would you have done if Bilal had said yes to me?”
“I’d have tried to be happy for you. After all, we’d still have been friends, and I suppose I can live with that. Whereas now… now he’s said no… do you think I could take his place, Jeremy? I’ll even go and get a heavy suntan and dye my hair if it’ll help…”
Jeremy suppressed an involuntary snort of laughter at the thought of Tony with black hair, but then immediately he went sombre again.
“I’m sorry, Tony, but… you’re not him, and you couldn’t be him. And… look, I just don’t fancy you, okay? It’s not your fault – like I said, I couldn’t have asked for a better friend – but you just don’t… I mean, you’re not what I’m looking for… I’m really, really sorry, Tony…. Look, I’ve got to go. I’ll speak to you as soon as I get back home, okay? I mean, if you still want me to, that is…”
“Of course I will. Look… have a good holiday, okay? Just go and forget all this for a month. We can get together and try to sort it all out when you get back.”
“Okay. Thanks, Tony… and I’m really sorry that I don’t…”
Jeremy broke off and ran from the room, and now it was Tony’s turn to sink onto the bed and put his head in his hands, and this time he didn’t try to hold back the tears. He had absolutely no idea where to go from here. Nor was he alone in that: while he was sitting crying in his bedroom, Bilal, who had just got home, was sitting on his bed staring blankly at the wall and feeling utterly numb and empty, and Jeremy was stumbling along the road towards his house feeling totally lost. Only the thought of going to America next day kept him from complete despair…
Well, this is hardly cheerful and uplifting stuff: all three of them are now feeling utterly wretched. And it might be a while before we discover how it all pans out, too, because we're now into the holidays, and for the next two or three chapters we'll be finding out how the various members of the Collection are spending their summer.
Feel free to tell me how you're finding it. Pissed off with me for leaving our hero in the Slough of Despond? Then write and tell me so! You know where I am – it's still at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2008 – all rights reserved. Please do not reprint, repost or otherwise reproduce this or any part thereof anywhere without my written permission.