By Kit

All the events and characters in this story are fictional and any resemblances to real people are purely coincidental.
The story is copyright of the author and may not be distributed or placed on any web sites without written permission from the author.

I would like to thank my editor, Richard Lyon, for his hard work and encouragement and also Richie Ryan for his moral support.  Any remaining errors are purely my own fault.  

If you enjoy this story or have any comments about it, please feel free to send me an email .   I will respond to all emails except flames.


"I'm gonna miss you," I whispered into John's ear as he nuzzled my neck.

"Mmph hmph mphs," he responded, his words muffled by my flesh.

The vibration of his voice and lips on my skin tickled and sent shivers down my spine, causing me to reflexively pull away from him.  That was no mean feat, bearing in mind how our limbs were entwined as we relaxed after our lovemaking.  He raised his head and flashed a wicked smile at me as I gazed into his mischievously twinkling green eyes.

"What?" he asked, pretending that he didn't already know the answer.

Of course he knew that he'd tickled me because he'd done it often in the eighteen months we'd been together, and whenever he thought he could get away with it he took great delight in exploiting the sensitivity of my skin.  As usual, I forgave him immediately.

"I said that I'm going to miss you," I repeated.

"Yes, I know.  I heard you.  And I said that it's only two weeks."

"Only two weeks!" I protested, emphasising the first word, then slightly petulantly I added, "Won't you miss me?"

"Of course I will, you silly sod," he replied with good humour, "but you know I've got to go home, sweet-talk my parents and collect my stuff if we're going to be finding a flat together next month.  And you could always come with me.  I already told you that Mum and Dad said you're welcome to stay anytime you want.  You made a good impression on them at Easter."

"Yeah, well your parents are sweet," I said, mentally contrasting his family and mine, "I'm amazed how well they took it when you came out to them at Christmas, and it was really good of them to invite me to stay with you over Easter.  But I've not seen my family for over six months... well, apart from the day they came up for my graduation.  So I really ought to go home for a few days."

"We can survive for two weeks," he said resting his head on my shoulder, "and we'll be phoning one another every day." 

I sighed and ran my fingers through his curly ginger-red hair, contemplating the fact that in the previous six months we'd never gone more than two days without seeing one another.  We lay together in peaceful silence for a couple of minutes before he spoke again, this time in a slightly hesitant tone because he realised that he was broaching a touchy subject.

"Mike," he said, "maybe you'd feel more comfortable seeing your parents more often if you told them..."

"I told you before," I interrupted him, "my parents aren't as easy-going as yours and ever since I got my degree they've been asking me when I'm going to 'settle down' and making even less subtle hints about how they're looking forward to having grandchildren."

"But if you tell them you're gay they'll stop pestering you like that."

"Yeah, they certainly will!" I said and laughed without humour, "In fact they'll probably stopped talking to me completely."

"You don't know that," he said, looking up at me again and capturing my gaze with his beautiful eyes, "Maybe you just need to pick the right time."

"I've been trying to find a good time for years," I pointed out.

"Yes, and during those years you drifted further and further away from them because you've been trying to stop them finding out about an important part of your life.  Maybe if you tell them you're gay you'll become closer again."

"And maybe they'll disown me," I said gloomily.

"Look, in two months you'll be starting your PhD, you'll have your grant and you'll be financially independent.  And you know you've got me to rely on, so now you're in a much better position to tell them than you've ever been before.  Like I said, you just have to pick the right time."


The following morning, with a heavy heart I waved good-bye to John as he boarded the train to London, then with an even heavier heart I set off to see my parents.  When I left school I deliberately chose to go to a university which wasn't within commuting distance of my home town so that I'd not be expected to live at home with my family.  However, it was only a couple of hours drive away, so I knew that my parents had expected me to go home much more frequently than I had.  Perhaps if my mother hadn't interrogated me on every visit about potential girlfriends I might have gone to see her more often.

Probably John was right, I thought.  If I told my parents I was gay then maybe my secret would no longer be driving a wedge between me and my family, and at least Mum would certainly stop asking me about girlfriends.  However, John had only met my parents once, just briefly at my graduation, so he didn't really appreciate my mother's attitude to gay people or my father's obsession with having grandchildren.  Still, I could see the gap between me and my family growing wider every year, so even if they did disown me it would merely be speeding up the otherwise inevitable alienation.

Although I loved my family, I didn't miss living at home and I much preferred the freedom of living away at university.  On the other hand I did miss my brother and regretted the fact that a side effect of avoiding my parents was that I didn't see him either.  My brother Stuart was a couple of years younger than me and until I left home we'd been very close, despite the fact that we often fought and argued.  However, our fights were mostly the result of brotherly competition and rarely involved any real aggression.  In fact, for the most part our tussles might even be regarded as signs of the affection that neither of us could comfortably show in any other way. 

My brother and I were very different, and apart from the fact that we both had light brown hair and hazel eyes there was nothing to indicate that we were brothers.  We were similar in height but from his mid teens onward he rapidly became much more muscular than I was.  Unlike me, he loved sports and despite his obvious intelligence he wasn't at all interested in academic study, though he did enough work in his classes to ensure that he could progress toward his chosen career as a civil engineer.   Another difference between Stuart and me was that he got on with Mum and Dad much better than I did, and when he left school he'd chosen to go to a nearby college and continue living at home.  As the second child, he'd always been given much more leeway to do as he wanted and so, unlike me, he never found it oppressive to live with our parents. 

To be honest, I don't remember that I found it oppressive either, until I began to realise that I was gay.  Of course even as a little kid I always knew deep inside that I preferred boys to girls, but until I was about fifteen I persuaded myself that it was a passing phase.  Even when I accepted that it was a permanent part of my personality, it wasn't until I'd gone away to university and met a few other gay people that I began to become comfortable with my sexuality.  In fact, it was only after I met John that I became truly comfortable and when I was with him I positively revelled and rejoiced in being gay.

The problem at home wasn't so much that my parents were anti-gay but that they regarded it as being a terrible and tragic affliction.  All the time I was growing up Mum frequently expressed pity for 'those poor homosexuals who will never know a normal happy life'.  Often she went on to say how much she hoped that a 'cure' could be found.  From my point of view, to be pitied and lamented over like that would be only slightly better than being reviled and rejected.  Dad not only agreed with Mum when she expressed her views, he also went on to say he pitied the parents who might be deprived of grandchildren.

This somewhat broody attitude my dad had toward grandchildren might have been more expected from a mother rather than a father, but maybe my dad was unusual because of his background.  When he was just a few days old he'd been abandoned in a hospital waiting room and no one had ever been able to trace his mother.  As far as he knew, he had no living relatives and he'd always wanted a large family.  Unfortunately, when my brother was born by caesarean section, something went wrong that made it impossible for my mother to have more children.  Thus Dad seemed eager to pass on his dynastic ambitions to me and my brother.

On several occasions it had occurred to me that as soon as Stuart got married and had kids then that would take the pressure off me to be the provider of grandchildren.  Then, with the bloodline reasonably assured, perhaps that would be a good time to tell my parents that I was gay.  However, a far as I knew, none of my brother's girlfriends had lasted more than a few months, and he was only nineteen so maybe it would be a long time before he took the pressure off me.


That evening I had my first home cooked meal with my family for several months, and I must admit that Mum made a splendid dinner to welcome me home.  Stuart was also obviously happy to see me and I was grateful that his ebullient conversation limited my mum's opportunities for asking questions about my private life.  Dad was more talkative than usual, possibly because he was a little merry from the pre-dinner bottle of champagne that he'd opened to celebrate my acceptance onto the PhD course.  Of course Mum did manage to slip in a question about girlfriends, but I just said I'd been too busy with final exams to have a social life.  Then during dessert she asked a question that I hadn't expected. 

"How's your friend... John wasn't it?  The one we met at your graduation?"

"Oh, er, he's fine," I stuttered, taken completely by surprise.

"He seemed like a very nice boy..." she said.

"He's hardly a boy, Mum," I interrupted, hoping to side-track whatever she was intending to say, "He was twenty a couple of months ago."

Mum gave me one her smiles, this particular one I'd long ago learned to interpret roughly as 'No matter what you say, I know I'm right'.  Then I realised that I'd already given away some information about him without her even having to ask. 

"Oh, so young!" she said with a hint of triumph, "He wouldn't have graduated this year then?"

"No, he'll be graduating next year."

"Is he on your course then?" she asked.

"No, he's studying history," I said, deliberately showing my irritation and reluctance to answer any more questions.

She raised her eyebrows slightly and I prayed that she wouldn't ask how I knew him.  After all, if I was going to come out on this visit I didn't want it to be by admitting that I'd met John at the university GaySoc.  Glancing around the table I was pleased to see that Dad showed only mild interest in Mum's interrogation and Stuart, who was wolfing down his last morsel of cake, appeared to show no interest at all.  As if in answer to my prayer, Stuart diverted Mum's attention from me by standing up.

"Sorry I have to have to dash off," he said with a grin which didn't seem at all apologetic, "but I'm meeting some mates for a drink in town.  I'd better go and get ready now or I'll be late.  Se ya later, Mike."

With a quick wave of his hand he left the room and went upstairs, leaving me a little disappointed that he'd arranged to go out on my first night home.  Still, I thought, as I'd not been home for so long I could hardly expect him to arrange his social life around my visits.


After dinner I went to my room, telling my parents that I was finishing my unpacking, but in reality I went to get some privacy so I could phone John.  He asked if I'd come out to my parents yet, and although I knew he intended it mostly as a joke, I responded with a somewhat grumpy negative.  After our phone conversation it occurred to me that when Mum had mentioned John I could have used that as a way to bring up my sexuality and tell them that he was my boyfriend.  However, Stuart's presence would have stopped me from doing that, even if I'd thought about it at the time. 

When I went back downstairs Mum and Dad had settled down to watch her favourite soap opera on TV.  As I'm not a great fan of such programs I was tempted to go back to my room, but I decided to be sociable and stay with them.  Also, I toyed with the idea that an opportunity to mention my sexuality might arise.  Then, when a gay character appeared on the show Mum started expressing her pity for him, so my very tentative idea was completely set aside.  However, I told myself that I was home for two weeks, so I could afford to wait to see if there might be a better time to bring up the topic, maybe when Mum and Dad weren't together.  It also occurred to me that perhaps I should wait until near the end of my visit to make my announcement.  That way, if their reaction was as bad as I feared, I could just leave a little bit earlier than planned.

Later that night, at around eleven thirty, Dad had gone to bed and I was bored out of my mind and flicking through TV channels in the living room while Mum was in the kitchen making herself some tea.  There was a loud clattering noise at the front door, followed by what sounded like suppressed giggles, then Stuart, grinning and looking flushed, appeared in living room doorway.  There was someone in the hallway behind him, but from where I was sitting I didn't have a clear view of whoever it was.

"Hi Mike!" Stuart said, slightly slurring, "Where's Mum?"

"Kitchen.  Making tea," I responded, somewhat amused as I'd never before seen him even so mildly inebriated. 

"Oh, right.  I'll just go and tell her that Paul's staying over."

It was typical of Stuart that he'd 'tell' Mum something like that and I, of course, would have asked her permission.  It was just as typical that he'd get away with it, or at most get a mild scolding.  He disappeared in the direction of the kitchen, leaving me with a better view of the person, presumably Paul, in the hallway.  Paul, a shy looking young man with dark hair appeared to be about the same age as my brother, but he wasn't so tall or muscular.  He was, however, very attractive so before he caught me looking at him lustfully, I quickly turned my eyes back to the TV.  Then I heard my brother's slightly raised voice.

"He can't drive home, he's been drinking," he said, "The last bus has gone and he can't afford the taxi.  It's almost twenty miles."

My mum replied more quietly so I couldn't here her words, but from her tone I guessed she was agreeing to let Paul stay.  A few seconds later Stuart reappeared in the doorway and spoke to me.

"Want some pizza, Mike?  Mum's just microwaving some for me and Paul."

"No thanks," I replied, "but you can get me a Coke."

Knowing my brother, I more than half expected that he'd make some insulting comment and tell me to get my own drink.  However, possibly because of the presence of his guest, he just nodded his acquiescence then he took hold of his friend's arm and brought him into the living room.

"This is my friend Paul," he said to me, then without reciprocating the introduction he turned to Paul and added, "Make yourself comfy on the sofa and I'll go fetch the food."

As soon as Paul sat down Stuart immediately left the room, leaving the two of us sitting in embarrassed silence.  Before things became too uncomfortable I thought I ought to say something, no matter how banal it might be.

"I'm Mike, Stuart's brother."

"Yeah," he responded very quietly, giving me a shy smile, "I know.  Stu said you were home."

I noticed two things immediately: his voice showed absolutely no signs of inebriation and he called my brother 'Stu'.  As far as I knew, no one ever called him 'Stu'.  Again the silence was becoming uncomfortable, but this time we were rescued by the appearance of Mum and Stuart bringing in the pizza and drinks.

"Hello, Paul," Mum said cheerfully, "It's nice to see you again.  Stuart tells me you did well in your exams this year... better than he did, in fact."

She threw one of her 'score one for me' smiles at my brother, then turned to me.

"Are you sure you don't want something to eat, dear?"

"No, Mum, I'm fine with my Coke," I replied, then added, "I'm still full from your lovely dinner."

Obviously pleased with my compliment, she smiled and left the room, leaving me to ponder the fact that Paul was obviously both well known and well liked by my mother, so he was probably a good friend of Stuart's.  I felt a little sad that I'd grown so far apart from my brother that I no longer knew even the name of one of his close friends.

The two of them ate quickly, exchanging just a few occasional very quiet words that I couldn't distinguish, but the tone and the body language indicated that Paul was nervous and Stuart was reassuring him.  They soon finished their food and drinks, and Stuart immediately took the plates and glasses to the kitchen.  As soon as he returned he announced he was going to bed, whereupon Paul stood up and they both said goodnight.  At that moment Mum came downstairs carrying a load of bedding.

"You're going to bed already?" she said as the three of them almost collided in the hallway, "I just brought some pillows and blankets to make up a bed for Paul on the sofa."

"Oh, erm thanks," Stuart said, "but I thought he could sleep in my room so he won't be disturbed when Dad goes to work in the morning."

If Mum intended to respond to that she wasn't quick enough because my brother and Paul quickly departed up the stairs.  Looking a little bemused, Mum came into the living room, gave me a small smile and dumped the bedding on the sofa.  Then she bade me a brief goodnight and also went upstairs.  Having been left on my own, I realised how tired I was and how much I was missing John, so I too went upstairs to bed.  Just as I got almost to the top of the stairs I saw Mum tap on Stuart's bedroom door.  I came to a halt and feeling certain that she didn't know I was there, for some reason I decided remain undetected and observe what happened.

"Don't forget there's the air mattress in the cupboard under the stairs!" she called through the door.

"It's okay, Mum," my brother called back, "We're comfortable now."

She gave a little shrug of her shoulders and went to her bedroom.  Quietly, I went toward my own bedroom, and as I passed my brother's door I thought I could hear sounds that might have been giggles.  Then as I reached the partly open door of my parents' room I heard my dad's voice.  I know I shouldn't have listened in, but I couldn't help myself.

"Paul's staying over again, then?" he said.

"Yes," Mum replied, "he's in Stuart's room."

"Don't you think that's a bit... erm, odd?"

"No, they're just best friends," she replied brightly, then in a slightly wistful tone she added, "I remember when I was their age my best friend would stay over and we'd stay up half the night gossiping."

"Yes, but Stuart's a boy," Dad said, "Boys don't gossip as much as girls and when I was a lad I never shared a bed with my best friend."

"But you never had any really close friends, did you, my sweet?" Mum said gently and a little sadly, "And anyway, nowadays boys aren't so hung-up about such things."

Apart from the small sounds of movement from within the room there was silence for a few seconds, and I was just about to creep away quietly to my bedroom when I heard my mum speak again.

"Anyway, I'm sure we don't need to worry about our Stuart," she said reassuringly, "He's had lots of girlfriends and he's always been into sports...  Mike's the one who's never had a girlfriend..."

"Oh, I shouldn't worry about Mike just because of that!" Dad said in an amused tone, "After all, you were my first real girlfriend.  Mike's always been a very quiet and thoughtful boy, so I expect he'll be like me.  He won't need to play the field and he'll just know when he finds the right girl."

"Aw, Derek, sometimes you can be such a sweetie."

Thinking that I could detect a tiny sound that could be a kiss, I beat a hasty retreat and quietly tip-toed to my room.

That night I didn't sleep well, partly because I missed John and partly because I was thinking about the conversation I'd overheard.  Like my dad, I was rather surprised that Stuart was sharing his bed with his friend and I briefly wondered if he and Paul might be more than just friends.  However, after a little thought I was convinced by my mother's arguments and decided that my very masculine brother was indeed heterosexual and merely behaving with his characteristic self-confidence.  As usual, he was either unaware of how his actions might appear to others, or even more likely he didn't really care much what they thought.  Therefore I determined to stay with my original plan and look for a suitable time to come out to my parents, preferably just before the end of my visit.


The next morning I slept in late and by the time I got out of bed Stuart and Paul had already got up and gone off somewhere.  It was a beautiful summer day, so knowing my brother, I guessed that he was doing something sporty.  Dad, of course, was at work so I was alone in the house with my mother until after lunch when, much to my relief, she went out shopping.  After she left I went for a walk around the local park and when I got back about an hour later I found my brother in the kitchen making himself a snack.

"Want a sandwich?" he asked after we exchanged greetings, "I'm having ham and tomato.".

Now to most people this question would not seem at all unusual, but in combination with my knowledge of my brother and the memory of his easy compliance the previous night when I asked him for a Coke, the question aroused my curiosity.  It's not so much that Stuart was selfish, just that he was usually so self-absorbed that it often didn't occur to him to wonder what anyone else might think or want.  Although my parents had worked hard on me to instil consideration for others, they hadn't put the same effort into my brother's upbringing and, at least in my opinion, they'd allowed him to become somewhat self-centred. 

"Yes, please," I replied as I still pondered his unusual behaviour, "I'll have the same."

Without another word he made an extra sandwich for me while I made some tea.  As he seemed to have something on his mind I didn't break the silence until we'd both sat down at the kitchen table and he'd taken, chewed and swallowed a huge bite out of his sandwich.

"I guess Paul drove home okay this morning?" I said, then after he nodded his affirmative, for no particular reason I added, "Although he didn't seem particularly drunk last night."

At first Stuart looked startled, as if he didn't know what I was talking about, then he seemed to remember something and smiled.

"Oh, Paul can take his booze," he said, "Sometimes you can't even tell he's been drinking... but he never drinks and drives."

Normally Stuart was very lively and talkative, sometimes irritatingly so, but he went back to eating his sandwich in silence.  A couple of times I tried to start a conversation but his responses were brief and he seemed distracted by other thoughts, so I gave up.  Mum came home before we'd finished eating and Stuart, with a strange expression that I thought might indicate disappointment, announced that he was going out to play tennis. 

After helping Mum to unload the shopping from her car, I went up to my room to read one of the books I'd bought specifically for this visit.  I'd got the books not just to tide me through the expected boring times while I was staying with my parents but also to distract me when I was missing John.  Furthermore, I'd been studying so hard for the last few months that I'd had almost no time to read just for pleasure and I was looking forward to immersing myself in a good novel.  The first book I chose was very absorbing and before I knew it Stuart was knocking on my door.  Without waiting for me to acknowledge his presence, he came into my room, announcing that dinner would be ready in about five minutes.

"Are you busy tonight?" he asked as he hovered by the doorway, "I was wondering if you wanted to come out for a drink."

This question struck me as odd for several reasons.  First, in my experience my self-confident brother never hovered uncertainly in doorways or anywhere else for that matter.  Second, although we got on reasonably well, or at least we used to do so, we rarely socialised much outside of home, mainly because our groups of friends were very different.  I didn't get on well with his large number of sporty pals and he was quickly bored by my small number of non-sporty friends.  Thirdly, I was pretty sure he knew that since going away to university I'd lost contact with most of my local acquaintances and so there was no reason that he should think I might be busy. 

"Who with?" I asked.

"Just me," he replied, then with uncharacteristic deference he added, "And maybe Paul... if you don't mind?"

"Why should I mind?" I asked, "he seems like a nice person to go drinking with."

Although I actually said the word 'nice', in my thoughts it was replaced with the word 'cute'.

"Oh, he is!" Stuart said, then added, "So we'll go out about eight thirty then?"

"Okay," I replied but he'd gone before I'd finished saying the word.


When Stuart and I arrived at one of the many local pubs we found that Paul was already there, sitting in a quiet corner and sipping what appeared to be glass of Coke.  As the eldest I felt it was my duty to buy the first round, and Stuart wasted no time accepting my offer, asking for a pint of lager. 

"Is that just Coke?" I asked Paul, "or is there something in it?"

"Actually, it's Pepsi and there's nothing in it," he replied with a wry smile, "I thought I'd better stay sober tonight as I need to drive home."

"Not staying over at our place tonight then?" I asked half joking and without any real thought.

He looked slightly flustered and exchanged a brief glance with Stuart before he replied.

"No," he said a little nervously, "I don't think tonight would be a good idea."

My curiosity was aroused more by his tone than his words, and I was about to ask him why it wouldn't be a good idea when Stuart spoke up. 

"Hurry up and get the drinks, Mike," he said loudly, "before I die of thirst."

With a mental shrug I abandoned my question and went to the bar, and after that we settled down to drink and chat amiably for a couple of hours.  For the first hour or so I tried to keep pace with my brother but after my third pint I gave up.  By the time Paul gave us a lift home Stuart had drunk a couple of pints more than I had and was quite tipsy, whereas I was just mildly merry.  The evening had been very enjoyable and I was amused at seeing my brother in this semi-inebriated state, so I was suffused by a warm glow as we entered the house.

When he stumbled into the living room from the hallway and bestowed a slurred greeting on my parents I hung back, wondering how they might respond.  I felt sure that if I'd ever been in Stuart's position I would have received a verbal roasting.  However, as I'd half expected they merely returned his greeting, though Dad's forehead briefly creased into a slight frown.  Then Mum asked if we'd enjoyed our night out and offered to make us a cup of tea.  While the four of us drank our teas she made some pointed remarks about how nice it was that Stuart and I could enjoy an evening out together and what a pity it was that I didn't go home more often.  Although I partly agreed with her, I didn't respond to her remarks.

As soon as they finished their drinks, Mum and Dad went upstairs to bed, leaving Stuart and myself lounging side by side on the sofa.  For a few minutes we both stared at the TV but the old movie being shown didn't interest me and I doubted that it interested my brother either.  However, the remote control was on the arm of Dad's chair and I couldn't be bothered to go and get it, so I decided to go to bed.  Just as I leaned forward to stand up, Stuart spoke.

"What did you think of Paul, then?" he asked without taking his eyes off the TV.

Although his tone seemed neutral, I thought that I could detect a tension in his voice and a slight tensing of his body.  I remained seated in my upright position as I answered.

"He seems really nice," I said, then thinking that sounded a bit too bland, I added, "much more interesting than your other sports buddies."

Even before I finished saying it, I realised that it wasn't the most tactful thing to say and that alcohol had probably reduced my ability to think before speaking.  This time his body definitely tensed up but he still didn't look at me.

"He's not a sports buddy," he said.

His attempt to maintain a neutral tone wasn't very successful and I noticed that there was only a slight slurring of his words.  I wondered if perhaps he wasn't quite as inebriated as he'd led me to believe.

"No," I said hastily, "that's not what I meant.  I meant that I like him... I like him a lot more than any of your other friends that I've met."

"Good," he said, looking at me and meeting my gaze, "I'm glad."

He looked back at the TV, and assuming the conversation was over, I began to stand up.  However, I'd moved only a couple of inches when he said something that made me sit down again.

"I love him," he said.

My mind churned and my thoughts seemed to bounce around inside my head as I considered the implications of those three simple words.  Surely he didn't mean love as in sexual love.  But he wasn't the sort of person to use the word when referring to a friend, not even a best friend.  I couldn't even remember the last time he'd said he loved anyone, not even Mum.  Yet I couldn't believe that my butch, masculine, sporty brother was gay.  Well, to be honest I didn't want to believe it.  Selfishly, I realised that if he really was gay then it would make my relationship with our parents even more difficult and complicated than it already was.  I must admit that it seemed that it would be very unfair to me if he turned out to be gay. 

As these thoughts swirled around inside my head the silence between us grew longer and longer until he turned and looked at me with a worried, almost fearful expression.  This just confused me even more because he looked so unlike his usual confidently competitive self.  I'm not sure what he read into my own face and body language, but whatever it was made him frown.

"Do you hate me?" he asked with a hint of defiance that seemed to be at odds with his words.

"H-hate you?" I stuttered, surprised by his question, "No, why should I?"

"Cos I'm in love with a bloke," he replied as if he were challenging me.

"You're gay then?" I asked stupidly.

His frown deepened and I got the strong impression that he didn't like me using the word 'gay'. 

"Actually, I s'pose I'm really bi, but I just happen to love Paul," he said, then added defiantly, "And he loves me."

"That's good," I said.

My response wasn't particularly brilliant, but it was the best I could manage at the time, and at least it wasn't quite so stupid as my previous question.  At first there was a look of confusion on his face as if he'd expected me to react differently to his announcement, then his eyes narrowed in an expression of suspicion. 

"Are you taking the piss?" he asked, a harsh edge creeping into his voice.

"No, of course not!" I protested, then trying to lighten the mood I smiled and added, "I just meant that it's good that he feels the same way.  After all, I wouldn't want my little brother pining away with unrequited love!"

Looking slightly embarrassed, he allowed himself to give me a small smile in return.  Although he then switched his gaze back to the TV, I knew that he wasn't ending the discussion but merely taking time to gather his thoughts.  I was grateful for this opportunity to think about his announcement and it was only when I leaned back and relaxed again that I realised how tense I'd been.  The obvious thing for me to do was to tell him about my own sexuality, and I certainly intended to do so, but I couldn't decide how best to do it and I desperately wanted to avoid it sounding like a banal 'me too'.  While I was still sorting out my own thoughts, he spoke again.

"Do you think I should tell Mum and Dad?" he asked, turning his head slightly and looking at me from the corners of his eyes.

That question threw my thoughts into even greater turmoil, then it felt like my brain overloaded and my mind went blank.  I just stared at him stupidly with no idea what I should say.

"Well?" he said, impatient at my lack of response, "What d'ya think?"

"Erm, I dunno," I said hesitantly, "That's up to you.  You know what they're like and you're the one who's living with them."

"Yeah," he replied sadly, "Sometimes I wish that I'd gone away to uni like you..."

"But then you prob'ly wouldn't have met Paul," I pointed out.

He didn't reply to that and instead he stared vacantly in the general direction of the TV for several seconds.

"I think I should tell them," he said eventually, "I'm sick of hiding things and having to be so careful when Paul's here."

His words amused me so much that I had to suppress the urge to laugh and point out that in my view he wasn't being very careful at all.  Obviously his definition of 'careful' was very different from mine.  However, I thought it better not to say what I was thinking and instead I responded neutrally.

"Like I said, it's totally up to you... "

"Well, if I do tell them, when do ya think I should do it?"

Again I was lost for words and before I could think of an answer he added another question.

"Will you be here when I do?"

At first I tried to ignore the question but the pleading look in his eyes pulled a response from me.

"Yeah, if you want," I said without enthusiasm.

To be honest when I said that I only half meant it, but then when he nodded and smiled at me the gratitude in his eyes prodded me to speak again.

"Yeah, of course I will," I added.

"How d'ya think I should do it?" he asked after another long silence.

That reminded me of all the times that I'd asked John that very same question and I couldn't suppress a smile as I answered.

"Ah," I said, "I think that it's all in the timing."

He frowned at me, clearly confused as much by my amused expression as he was by my cryptic words.

"Anyway," I added with a yawn as I stood up, "I think we should sleep on it and discuss it tomorrow when we're not feeling so tired."

Although he looked a little disappointed, he nodded his agreement.  Perhaps it was cruel of me but as I stepped out of the room I couldn't resist throwing a final remark over my shoulder.

"Oh, Stuart," I said, "I hope you and Paul will be as happy together as me and John."

Then, not giving him any time to react, I went upstairs as quickly as I could. 

The End

If you enjoyed this story you might like to take a look at a couple of my other short stories, "Just Visiting"   (http://nifty.org/nifty/gay/college/just-visiting.html) or  "The Road Not Taken" (/nifty/gay/highschool/the-road-not-taken.html). 

Alternatively, if you prefer longer stories you might enjoy "Tapping" (/nifty/gay/highschool/tapping/) or "Not Always Easy" (/nifty/gay/highschool/not-always-easy/)