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By David Heulfryn
Phil pulled off the motorway and parked in the services car park. He rocked Martin from his sleep and said that he needed a break from driving. He wanted to stretch his legs and have a drink but he was actually quite nervous as they were nearly home and wanted to delay the moment he would be introduced to Martin's parents.
Martin waited outside watching the people mill about as Phil went into the toilets. He wondered why they had stopped as they must have been only about fifteen minutes from home. He checked his watch and thought that they would be back by six o'clock. He'd told his mother that they would be back around five and he considered phoning just to let them know. In the end he just sent a quick text message to Tony telling him when he expected to be home and to pass the message onto their mother. He didn't want to speak to her and get into a lengthy conversation about what they'd done or where they'd been. That would wait until they got home.
Two cups of coffee cost nearly five pounds and they found somewhere to sit. Phil led the way and chose a spot some distance away from anyone else and nervously slurped his coffee.
"What do your parents know about us?" He asked.
"Only that you are my friend and that we met at college."
"They don't suspect anything?"
"Not as far as I know." Martin furrowed his brow. "Besides Mum would have said something by now; she can't keep her mouth shut." Martin smiled. "Likes to talk about everything."
"So I'm just to be your pal, then. So be it." Phil smirked. "So then mate, what d'ya think of that bird at the counter. Fantastic bazookas don't you think, wouldn't mind getting my laughing gear on them."
Martin laughed. "Ok then, change of plan. You can be by mute mate from college who never speaks and has to write everything down."
"But I haven't got any paper."
Phil lightly punched Martin on the shoulder. "I'll get you for that."
As Martin rubbed his shoulder to soothe the pain, Phil reached over and grasped his hand, they sat silent for a moment holding hands across the table and just staring into each other's eyes. As usual, Martin broke the contact first and looked down.
"Seriously though. They know nothing and I don't know how they'll react, so just friends for tonight." Martin spoke to the table.
Phil squeezed Martin's hand tightly. "Good friends. And just poke me if you think I'm being too much."
They smiled and for an instant forgot where they were and leaned forward to kiss each other tenderly on the lips.
Hearing a sharp intake of breath and some muttering, Phil broke the kiss and shot his head round to look at where the sound came from. At another table he saw a middle aged women tutting and telling her husband how disgusting it was.
"It's not disgusting, it's love." Phil spat at her. "So get over it and stop being so bigoted."
Martin's face went beetroot red, he wanted to just curl up into a little ball but Phil pulled him to his feet and hugged him. "Don't let them bother you, they're not worth it." And Phil led Martin back to the car, hand in hand.
As Phil started the car up, Martin beamed a wide smile at him. "You were fantastic. I would never have the guts to do that."
Turning to Martin, Phil said. "Neither would I normally, but after that I can face you parents so let's get it done." And Phil let out the clutch and drove slowly out of the services and re-joined the motorway for the short journey to Martin's house.
As they turned into the road where he lived, Martin told Phil to pull up on the grass verge outside his house. He sighed as the car came to a halt.
"Time to get it over with." Martin said.
Phil mumbled his agreement.
"It'll be alright, once I introduced you it'll be fine."
Getting out of the car, Martin led the way up the drive and he let them in. Phil was a few steps behind having grabbed his rucksack from the back seat.
Shouting his presence as he came through the door, he heard his mother shuffling in the kitchen and the clanging of pans before she emerged into the hall looking quite smart.
"Hi, Mum. This is Phil."
She leaned past Martin, her hand outstretched.
"Nice to meet you, Mrs Thorne." Phil said as they shook hands.
"And you, young man." She turned to Martin. "Your Dad's in the front room."
Taking the hint, Martin took Phil through to the front room and introduced him to his father.
"So how did you find Manchester?" His father asked Phil in what Martin sensed was a more than usual gruff manner.
Martin smiled to himself, holding back the urge to say at the end of the motorway. But Phil went on to talk about the city and how great the Lowry was.
Eager to get Phil away from a grilling, Martin suggested he put his rucksack away in his room but as they turned they found the doorway blocked by his little brother, Tony.
"So this is the great Phil. We've heard so much about you, it's as if we've met so many times before."
"Don't be sarcastic, Tony." Martin said and brushed past him. "Come on Phil."
Before following Martin, Phil shook Tony's hand, even though he held it limp by his side, and said how lucky he was that he didn't have a younger brother.
Martin laughed but Tony just stomped into the front room.
His bedroom was pristine, clean and tidy, and even still smelled slightly of the aftershave Martin had put on that morning. Martin's eyes drifted over to James' bed and Phil placed his rucksack on it.
"So, this is where James sleeps."
"Yep." Martin went in on himself again.
"He'll be back soon, you know."
Perking up, Martin closed his bedroom door and brought Phil into a long tight hug.
"Well, the worst is over with." Phil said and then kissed Martin.
Responding, Martin opened his lips and their tongues met across the divide. Their arms wrapped around each other, pushing their bodies into complete contact and both could feel their firm groins poking the other.
As if throwing a bucket of cold water over them, Tony's voice came hurtling up the stairs telling that dinner was in five minutes and they'd better come down to help.
Martin led Phil downstairs and they set the table while Tony got under their feet and everyone sat down ready to eat.
As Martin's mother passed round warm plates of roast pork, roast potatoes and vegetables, Phil couldn't help notice that she kept smiling at him, while his father cast quick searching glances.
"Smells very nice, Mrs Thorne." Phil took in a deep lungful of air filled with the scent of roasted pork.
"Thank you, Philip. Now tuck in everyone."
For one sweet moment everyone ate; Martin relaxed and cast a swift glance to Phil who sat on his right.
"So, Philip," Martin's father growled as he swallowed, "how long have you been friends; we seldom see any of friends."
Cringing, Martin lowered his head as he heard Phil speak up. He felt proud of Phil as he sounded confident telling his father of their meeting at college. It wasn't the full blown truth but a sanitised version where he was simply helping his brother, the teacher, as a sort of teaching assistant. He was quite good at blagging and went into a great spiel of how he wanted to be an art teacher and he was gaining good classroom experience from his brother.
University was obviously mentioned and Phil took the opportunity to mention that after his three year art and design course he would take another year doing his teaching qualification.
Martin was relieved that Phil had done most of the talking and so not letting his father get in too many awkward questions. For once Tony was quite the whole meal and had quickly finished. In a pause in Phil's response, he asked to be excused and quietly left the table and went upstairs.
"So which University are you hoping to go to?" Martin's father forked in another piece of pork.
"I've got a few offers, it just depends on my results, but I do hope to go to Manchester." Phil spoke between mouthfuls.
"I want Martin to go to Oxford." He killed the conversation and Martin just looked at his plate.
"But it's up to Martin in the end." His mother smiled.
Finishing his last mouthful, Phil said. "That was delicious, Mrs Thorne."
"Thank you, Philip."
"Can we help with the washing up?" Phil nodded over to Martin.
"I don't think so, you two go and relax." She smiled at Phil. "But be warned that the next time I will take you up on the offer."
"Come on then, Martin, we better leave before she changes her mind." Phil looked at Martin's mother with a glint in his eye.
In unison they pushed away from the table and left the dining room.
Free at last, Martin let out an audible sigh and his body seemed to relax and loosen up. Whispering to Phil, 'my room', he led the way upstairs.
As they ascended the stairs, they heard a scuttling on the landing and were met by Tony in the doorway of Martin's room, his arm raised high and leaning on the frame.
"What you up to Tony?" Martin asked.
He turned and walking into Martin's room and nonchalantly sat on his bed; he was followed in by Martin and Phil.
"So?" Martin looked confused.
"I know the truth." Tony paused and there was complete silence. "You may have met at college, but Phil is no classroom assistant." He paused again and looked at them, neither broke the silence. "Is he?"
"Look, I don't know what you mean? Stuttered Martin.
"I knew you looked familiar." Tony spoke to Phil. "But I had to just double check and it seems I was right."
"Right about what?" Martin was beginning to feel queasy, worried that everything was out in the open.
"Phil was the nude you drew in art class." Tony smiled like the cat that had the canary.
"So what?" Phil wiped the smile from his face. "What I said was true; I just didn't think your parents would appreciate me saying something like at the dinner table. So don't think you can start causing trouble." Phil went over to Tony and loomed over him.
"I wasn't," Tony pleaded, "I just wanted to wind up Martin. I wouldn't tell."
Sitting next to him, Phil put his arm round his shoulder and squeezed. He told him that he was only kidding but he'd prefer their parents didn't know. Not because he was ashamed, but because he didn't want them to look at him funny. Thinking that he had been naked in college or even imagining him without clothes.
Laughing together, Tony got up. "No probs." He said and whispered to Martin that he liked him.
When Tony left the room, Martin closed the door behind him. "That little sod has been snooping in my room." He went over to his wardrobe and took out his sketchbook, flicking through it he stopped at the sketch of Phil lounging on the chair in the corner of the art room. He showed it to Phil.
"Pity you're good at faces as he'd never have known." Phil took the sketchbook from him and turned to a blank page. "Now it's my turn."
"Yeah, right." Martin protested.
Dropping the sketchbook on the bed, Phil embraced Martin before kissing him softly on the lips. He felt Martin tremble slightly and noticed his eyes kept darting to the door. Breaking free, Phil took the desk chair and jammed it under the door handle.
"Now we can't be interrupted." Phil went back to Martin and kissed him harder, tasting his lips and prising them apart.
As the air in their lungs grew stale, they parted. "I really want to draw you, and we've already been naked together so there's no need to be embarrassed."
Martin's reluctance quickly melted due to the trust they had in each other. But he did have some conditions. The first one was that everyone should be in bed before they start as he didn't want any unexpected interruptions, just in case he didn't have time to cover up. The other one was that he wanted to choose the pose as he wanted to be comfortable, Phil said that he wouldn't have it any other way as he knew how important it was for the model to be comfortable.
As the evening went on, Martin got gradually more nervous. He had Phil spent some time in his room before going downstairs to join his parents and they all watched a film together. Tony went to bed half way through, not because he was tired but through boredom.
When the final credits rolled, Martin said that he was going to bed.
"Will you two be alright, do you need anything, Philip." Martin's mother asked.
"No, I'll be fine. Got everything I need."
"Good, so what are you two up to tomorrow."
"Dunno." Martin responded. "Not really thought about it."
"Well you two go on up, me and your Dad will be right behind you."
"Night then." Martin said.
"Good night, Mr and Mrs Thorne." Phil said and followed Martin upstairs.
Everything was still very formal between Phil and Martin's parents and it was his mother that seemed to keep it that way. Phil was very rarely called Phillip and each time Martin's mother called him that he had to think a while as it sunk in that she was talking to him.
Phil went over to James' bed and pulled out his pyjama trousers and a small wash bag. He didn't notice until after he got undressed and pulled on his pyjamas that Martin had been watching him.
"Are you perving on me?" Phil teased.
"No, just admiring."
"You get your jim jams on while I have a wash and brush my teeth." Phil left for the bathroom, barechested.
On his way out he met Martin's mother and the landing; she too was on her way to the bathroom.
"Just doing my teeth. Good night, Mrs Thorne." And Phil disappeared into the bedroom not wanting to get into a conversation.
He got a strange feeling from her and he didn't know why. It wasn't the usual checking up on your son's friend feeling but he sensed it was deeper.
All doubts and concerns vanished when he saw Martin sitting on his bed, his pyjama jacket buttoned to the top. Laughing, Phil said that he looked like a trussed up chicken.
He hoped that Martin hadn't forgotten about him being sketched. "You're not going back on me, are you?"
"No. I'm just waiting for everyone to settle down."
"I think they have." Phil went and got Martin's sketchbook and sat on James' bed.
Tentatively, Martin started to unbutton his pyjama jacket and let it slip from his shoulders. He felt a slight chill and almost instinctively rounded his shoulders and brought his arms close to him to cover his chest. His eyes didn't look at Phil as he stood up and turned away from him. Taking a deep breath he hooked his fingers in the waistband of his pyjama trousers and pulled them down to his ankles as he bent over; as he stood up, Martin kicked them under the bed.
Climbing on the bed, Martin lay down on his side and rested his head in his hand, his other hand he draped over his hips.
"You are quite beautiful." Phil whispered and was pleased to get a sweet smile in response.
Martin lay still, exposed for the first time, to anybody.
Thank you for reading
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