"When're your parents coming home?"

"My dad's out deep-sea fishing, he won't be home 'til Friday." Today was Tuesday. "My mom should be home like seven."

"So we have five hours?"


"Awesome." I buried my face in his hair again. I loved the smell of his hair. I guess it was his shampoo; it was a subtle smell that just smelled really good.

"Okay," Cody said eventually. "What now?"

"I don't know," I laughed. "I'd love to suck you now, but I think it's too soon."

"How long does it usually take?"

"Before it's good? An hour or two."

"Okay. Let's wait a while so it's really good."

"Good idea," I laughed. "So what now?"

"I don't know," he said, shrugging. His shoulders pressed up into my armpits for a moment. We just stood there for a couple minutes, at peace.

For lack of a better option, we eventually fell back to an old standby: cooperative Halo. But this was unlike any way I had ever played before...laying on my stomach, naked, with Cody lying, also naked, on my back. Somehow I wasn't able to concentrate so well, and Cody's gameplay was suffering similarly. We usually breezed through Legendary, the hardest mode, but we could barely handle Normal as we were. I could actually watch his ability change with a direct correspondence, it seemed, to just how big the part of him that was warming the small of my back was. Once in a while, if he died or there was nothing really going on, or if he just felt like it, he would reach down and tweak my nipple. At one point, he just dropped his controller (on the back of my neck) and buried his face in my armpit. I laughed as I heard him inhaling deeply. He stayed like that for a moment, then I laughed harder as he licked my hair.

He picked up his controller when he had had his fill, and we played and fooled around for a while. Then I heard a car pull up; I assumed it was the neighbors (whose driveway was right next to Cody's) and kept playing. Then I heard Cody's front door open. I froze, terrified. My eyes darted to the clock; it wasn't even four yet. What was she doing home?

"Go hide in the laundry room," Cody whispered urgently. They had a laundry room with a door on either end, one to the playroom (where we were now) and the other to the front hall, which also had the stairs which led upstairs, to all the bedrooms and to the bathroom where my clothes were.

Cody rolled off my back, and I ran as quietly as I could to the laundry room and pressed myself against the wall.

"Anyone home?" came Cody's mom's voice.

"I am," Cody said, then, in a little-boy voice: "Don't come in, mommy. I'm nakey."

"What are you doing naked? Get some clothes on," she sighed. I heard her putting things down in the front hall.

"It's hot out," he whined, still in his little-boy voice. "I thought you wouldn't be home for hours."

"Did all your friends go home?"

"Yeah," he replied in his normal voice. The he was back to the little kid tone for "Mommy, my clothes are upstairs. Go in the other room so I can run upstairs and get dressed."

"Just go up," his mom said. "I promise I won't look."

"But mommy--"

"It's not like you don't wander around in your underwear all the time, and the rest isn't anything I haven't seen. Cody, you actually showed it to me two weeks ago, remember?"

I smiled, wondering under what circumstances that had happened.

"You're crazy, mommy. I don't know what you're talking about. Just go in the other room, okay?"

"Okay, I'm done here. I'll just go up to my room. Feel free to come up." I heard her footsteps going up the stairs, down the hall, and then a door closing.

I heard Cody walk out of the playroom and to the base of the stairs. After I poked my head around the corner, He motioned me over and then whispered in my ear, "You know those two squeaky stairs? We need to step on them at the same time, so she doesn't get suspicious."

I nodded, wondering whether she would actually be suspicious if she heard four small squeaks instead of two, or if she would even hear it. Not wanting to risk it, though, I went along with it.

James's room was on the left, and the computer room was a little past it on the same side. Cody's room was on the right, with his parents' room beyond it, and the bathroom at the end of the hallway. All of the doors except Cody's were closed.

I tiptoed behind Cody to the bathroom door and stood behind him as he opened it. I saw over his shoulder into the room...and I saw Cody's mom standing at the sink, about to turn it on. She looked at us.

We all just kinda stood there for a second. I felt like I wanted to run, but it would be pointless; it's not like she hadn't recognized me. I was over her house almost as much as her sons were. My heart sunk through my chest and probbly fell straight through the floor. God knows I wanted to, just fall through the floor and vanish, that is.

Then, finally she spoke. "Boys, I want to spend five minutes in here. When I come out, I want you both to be sitting--dressed-downstairs in the living room." Then she closed the door.

That presented a problem, beyond the obvious one. There was no question of running or anything like that. What would be the point? But my clothes, or at least my underwear and shorts, were in the bathroom...and so was Cody's mom.

"Get some of James's," Cody said quietly, understanding my problem. Then he stepped into his room.

My heart pounding, I walked into James's room and looked through his dresser. I grabbed a pair of athletic shorts that were actually pretty similar to the ones I had been wearing, so hopefully Mrs. Fenner wouldn't recognize them as her son's. I refrained form taking any underwear or a shirt. I walked into Cody's room; he was just pulling on a shirt.

"I'll go get my shirt from the backyard," I volunteered quietly.

"Okay, bring mine in," he said.


I ran out to their court, and considered briefly just keeping on running. What kind of reaction would Cody's mom have? (I noticed that now I was thinking of her as Cody's mom, not James's, but pushed that thought aside as irrelevant.) Would she be angry? What would she think we had done? I really had no idea. I didn't know her that well.

But I stopped, pulled on my shirt, and picked up Cody's. I wanted to smell it, deeply, but was afraid that his mom would be watching from the window. So instead I just jogged back inside and handed Cody his shirt wordlessly. He tossed it into the playroom, and we sat down on chairs in the living room. I wonder if she had chosen that room purposefully; there were no couches in the living room, so we had no reasonable excuse to be sitting next to each other.

The only sound for the next ten minutes was the faint running of water from upstairs. Then, finally, it stopped, and I heard the squeak of a door and footsteps upstairs.

I looked over at Cody. He was tight-lipped, but smiled slightly--just a bit--when he saw I was looking. Then I turned my gaze back forward and gripped the arms of the chair tightly. I was more afraid than I had ever been in my life.

After an eternity of her going down the stairs and a pause in the front hall, she walked into the room and sat in another chair. We just sat there awkwardly for a moment until she spoke.

"I know you two are just boys, and I know boys...play in that way sometimes. Now, I don't know what you two were doing naked with each other, and I don't know why both of your clothes are in the bathroom. Or actually, are they yours, Nick? I know that James has some similar shorts..."

"They're mine," I said weakly. "The ones I'm wearing are James's."

"Are you wearing his underwear, too?"

I grimaced, but hoped she didn't see. "No."

"Well, are you wearing yours?"

"No, ma'am." I had never in my life called anyone "ma'am" before, at least not seriously. It's not like I lived in the South or something; I lived in Connecticut. It just kind of slipped out.

"Well, go get your own clothes on. Put those in James's dirty laundry."

"Yes ma'am." I went upstairs and did the required tasks as slowly as was humanly possible. I grimaced a little as I pulled on my sweaty underwear.

I threw James's shorts into the hamper in his closet (which was empty, though there were dirty clothes scattered around his room) and walked back down the stairs. If I were walking to my execution I would probably go faster.

Finally I was sitting in the chair again. It was clear that Cody and his mother hadn't spoken; when I walked in, she was looking at him, and he was staring out the window.

"Okay. I don't know what you did, and I don't want to. What I do want, though, is for you to never do it again. If it had been you and James, Nick, or it had been Cody and, say, Bryon, I wouldn't be as mad. But even though I know that boys experiment and will, well, be boys, and even though that in itself is an affront to God, it is nowhere near as bad as what you have done to my son, Nicholas Ackern. You have seduced him, and I cannot condone that."

"He didn't seduce me!" Cody shouted. "I was the one who started it!"

"No!" she shouted. "No twelve year old would do this, not my son! I raised you right, Cody! Nicholas--seducer--leave my house, and never come back. James and Cody will not be allowed to see you again."

"Mrs. Fenner--"

She said in a much lower, but somehow much angrier voice, "Nicholas. Leave my house."

Cody started to shout something, but she shouted back, "Cody! Go to your room!"

Slowly, my cheeks burning, I stood up and shuffled out of the door. I started home. Cody's room was on the other side of their house from my house, or I would have been staring at his window. Even so, I did look back just before I walked around the bend and trees would block my way. I saw Cody looking at me from James's window. I stopped walking and smiled at him; he smiled back. After just a second, though, he turned away and I saw him run across the room. I guess his mom was coming.

I went back to my house, flopped on my bed, and basically just laid there and fumed. I don't remember any specific thoughts from that hour or two, just a vague rage.