The Boys of East Harbor: Michael
Chapter 2: The First Day

(b/b, oral, anal)

DISCLAIMER: This work of fiction contains explicit material intended for adults over 18. If you are under 18 or are offended by non-traditional sex, or sex between minors, do not continue. If reading this type of material is illegal in your location, proceed at your own risk. This work is the sole property of the author and may not be reposted or reproduce without the author's written permission. This is a work of fiction. If any characters resemble the living or dead, or events are similar to actual events, it is purely coincidental.

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MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2017 (School Day)

"Hi. I'm Michael Grant. I'm supposed to stop in and pick up my schedule this morning."

"Well hello Michael, how are you doing this morning?"

"I'm... I'm ok," but his nerves were apparent to everyone in the office.

"I'm Mrs. Benedict. Let's see. Uh huh. Wait, I think we made a mistake. This schedule is for eighth grade..."

"Yeah, that's right. And my last classes are over at the high school." He knew this was going to come up and wasn't in the mood to stand there and explain it.

"Really? You look so young."

Michael couldn't help but roll his eyes and sigh. It cracked everyone up.

"Well step around here and let me take your photo and make your student ID."

Michael walked around the counter and sat on a stool in front of the backdrop that included the school's logo. Once she'd taken his photo, Michael continued to sit there while the secretary prepared his ID.

"Here you go Michael, your ID and your class schedule. Your locker number is right here. It's on the third floor. Your home room is 312, Mrs. Harmon's room."

"Thank you, ma'am."

"You'll be alright finding your way around?"

"Yes, I came early so I could look around and find my classes."

"Alright. We're here if you have any questions."

"Yes ma'am."

"Thank you. Umm... uh... I saw on the school's website that you have middle school soccer. Is it too late to join the team?"

"I don't know. You'll have to ask Coach Lopez. His office is by the boy's locker room."

"Ok, thank you!"

Michael wandered down the hallways, finding his way to the locker room to see if Coach Lopez was in. Locating the dark, locked office made Michael feel uneasy so we quickly left to continue his self-guided tour of the building. He found the auditorium and cafeteria. From the signs, it looked like the art, music and shop classes were in the basement, sixth graders on the first floor, seventh on the second floor and the eighth graders on the top floor of the school.

He was early enough that no other students were in the hallway which put Michael at ease, but this old school building made him feel small. The majestic building had high ceilings and above the lockers were the class photos of the graduating classes from when this building included the high school. Lugging his sports bag and backpack up to the third floor, Michael found his locker and stuffed the bag inside. Then he proceeded to sort out his notebooks and school supplies, organize his locker and prepare for classes.

He spent years getting use to be so much younger than the other students. He was really scared about being in a new school and having to start all over again with the stares, resentment, bullying, and everything else that comes with being the smallest, youngest and smartest in your grade.

He decided to go to his homeroom and wait. He couldn't imagine anything worse than being the last student to walk into homeroom and have everyone staring at you because you are the new kid. Finding room 312, Michael pulled the heavy wooden door open and stepped in. Mrs. Harmon looked up from her morning coffee and laptop.


"Uh, yes ma'am."

"Welcome to East Harbor. I'm Mrs. Harmon. How are you doing this morning?"

"Okay." Michael remained standing just inside the classroom door, nervously glancing around the room. It was clear that Mrs. Harmon taught U.S. History.

"Come on up here, I have some things for you."

Michael made his way to the front of the classroom.

"Now you already have all of your textbooks. We sent those to you with your homework packets for the first few weeks of school so you wouldn't be behind before your move down here. If you'd like, I'll take your completed homework assignments and turn them into your teachers so you don't have to carry them around all day."

"Thank you!" said Michael. He opened his backpack and removed large envelopes containing all of the assignments he's missed up to this point. Keeping up, and doing a bit of extra work, wasn't a problem for him. He didn't have any friends or activities back home to distract him from his studies. With the way his mother had been acting and his father and brother in another town, he had been left to himself. That gave him plenty of time to master the complete his homework, work ahead, and still find time to work out and be bored.

Taking his homework assignments, Mrs. Harmon continued. "I have our school gym uniform, planner and a school notebook for you. I wanted to make sure you had everything for your first day." Mrs. Harmon neatly stacked everything and handed then to Michael.

"Oh, thank you!" Michael placed the planner and notebook with his books for first period on the corner of Mrs. Harmon's desk. Then he took his gym clothes to his locker and placed them in his gym bag. Once everything was set, he hurried back to Mrs. Harmon's room as students started to filter into the hallway.

"Do we have assigned seats?" asked Michael as he returned to the classroom and retrieved his books.

"No. You can sit anywhere."

Michael picked up his books off Mrs. Harmon's desk and turned to find a seat.



"Are you okay?" Mrs. Harmon studied him with a look of deep concern. All the boy could do was nod. As long as he was around adults, he was fine. But the time has come for the other students to arrive and his fear and nervousness were obvious.

"If you need anything, let me know. Your homeroom teacher is also sort of your guidance counselor too. Come to me if you are having any problems or questions. I want to help you adjust to our town and school."

"Um, okay. Thank you."

Michael took a seat by the window and waited for the other students to arrive. He stared out the window hoping no one would notice that he was fighting back tears. He felt small, alone and being thrown to the sharks. Mrs. Harmon busied herself and tried not to let Michael know she saw everything.


Lukas and Simon made their way to the breakfast table. Neither wanted to make eye contact with Lukas' father, Lars, but Lars had other plans. He wanted to milk this moment for all it was worth.

"Well, well, well..." he said, smiling with is back to the boys. "Sounds like someone had a good morning."

Both boys blushed fiercely, still not looking in Lars' direction.

"Come, have a seat and I'll make your plates."

The boys put their backpacks and gym bags down as Dr. Meijer prepared plates of scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns to go with their juice.

"You know we have an understanding about your activities in Lukas' room. Correct?"

The boys mumbled, "Yes, sir."

"We talked about how it is ok for boys your age to mess around and experiment, but you need to be discreet."

Both boys turned red again. "Yes, sir."

"Besides, I don't think with your allowance you'll be able to replace your bed if it breaks."

Dr. Meijer tried not to laugh as Lukas' eyes were as big as saucers with embarrassment. He was blushing so hard his ears, neck and scalp were red. Simon, on the other hand, about choked on his eggs.

"Sorry, dad."

"Yeah, sorry Lars."

"Well, just don't knock the house down next time."

Lukas rolled his eyes, "Awww, Dad..."

Lars burst out laughing. He was having a good morning too. I mean, what are parents for anyway. Embarrassing your teens is the reward for being a parent of teen children. Lars saw no reason to deny himself this reward.

"Lukas, isn't today the day that new boy is starting? Umm... Michael, Michael Grant. Aren't you supposed to be at school early to welcome him?"

"Oh yeah. Com'on Simon. We'd better get going."

Both boys gulped down he rest of their food and juice and ran out the door leaving Lars to clean up. Once clear of the house and out of earshot, both boys burst into laughter.

"Wow, that was embarrassing," Simon said and then started laughing again.

"OH MY GOD! I can't believe my dad did that."

"AND... HE... ENJOYED... IT!" exclaimed Simon.

"I know. Ugh!" Lukas could only shake his head in disbelief.

But even Lukas couldn't help but find it funny. It was a wonderful September morning. The sky was clear, the weather was perfect, and Lukas's butt was humming from his recent activities with Simon. Ah, Simon. It took everything within Lukas to keep from grabbing Simon's hand as they walked to school together. He would have been proud to hold Simon's hand and let everyone know how much he loves this boy. But he didn't know what Simon would do. They had never spoken about coming out, or not coming out. About being gay or straight. About being a couple or just friends fooling around. Lukas knew what he was and what he wanted. He knew how he felt, but was scared to rock the boat by asking Simon. Lukas felt it was better to just not know and live in limbo with how things were, than to risk potentially changing things with Simon for the worse.

When the boys reached the crosswalk in The Mallway, the boys said their goodbyes. Lukas headed up the steps to the middle school and Simon crossed the street towards the high school. Lukas stopped and glanced over a couple of times to watch Simon continue on his way and smiled to himself.

Lukas hurried up to Mrs. Harmon's room to see if the new student had arrived. The school administrators and the eighth-grade teachers approached Lukas about being a school ambassador for the new student, hoping the popular, friendly blond would take the younger boy under his wing. Not just because Lukas' popularity would give him plenty of opportunities to introduce Michael to classmates, or his ability help Michael navigate the social hierarchy of the eighth grade. It was mainly because Lukas was a caring, sensitive boy and would intuitively understand that Michael needed a friend.

Entering the classroom, Lukas immediately saw the small boy by the window. He remembered that Mrs. Harmon had told him the boy was coming to a new town, a new school and was younger than the other students. Younger was one thing, but this boy didn't even look like he was old enough to be in middle school.

"Hi Lukas! Michael, I want you to meet Lukas, he's one of your new classmates and I believe he lives just down the street from you."

Michael turned to look at Lukas and Lukas immediately read the loneliness and sadness in the boy's slate gray eyes. Lukas instantly resolved to be this boy's friend, no matter how nerdy or geeky he must be to have skipped so many grades.

"Hi Michael! Wait. You live on Maple Street? Did you move into that big yellow house?"

"Yeah," Michael said with a nod.

"That's awesome. I live just a few houses down from you. The brick house that's painted gray with the blue shutters."

Michael just nodded his head. He hadn't ventured into the neighborhood so he didn't know which house this enthusiastic boy was referring to. Part of his brain was overwhelmed by this new, animated classmate. The other part was stuck on the beauty his classmate, and neighbor. He really wasn't listening to what Lukas was saying, but then Lukas turned and looked Michael straight in the eyes and flashed his killer smile. "We're gonna be great friends."

Michael returned a goofy grin and blushed.

For the other students, it was a typical Monday morning. As they started to drag themselves into homeroom, Lukas made a point to have each student come over and meet his new friend, Michael. Between handshakes and fist bumps, Michael couldn't keep up with all the new names and faces. In between introductions, Lukas and Michael compared schedules to see if they had any classes together.

Of course, they had Mrs. Harmon's US History class together first period, but they also discovered that they had third period art, lunch and phys. ed. together fifth and sixth periods.

"That's so cool, Michael. But how are you taking Geometry and Chemistry? They don't even teach that here."

"I have to go over to the high school for the last two periods." The poor boy did not look excited about that at all.

Mrs. Harmon made sure not to draw attention to Michael in homeroom or during History class, but it still didn't complete stop the staring and whispers about the "little kid" taking eighth grade classes. But Lukas' friendship and introductions did have a positive effect.

When Michael got to his second period Honors English class, two of the girls from History asked Michael to sit with them. Michael sat beside Lukas for Art class and was able to find friendly faces for Algebra class. By the time Lukas found Michael during lunch, Michael was feeling pretty good about how the day was going. The teachers kept things low-key with introducing the new student.

When Lukas called out Michael's name in the cafeteria, the young boy had a huge smile on his face -- happy to see his new friend.

"I almost didn't recognize you with that smile on your face," joked Lukas.

Michael rolled his eyes. "Yeah, today is going better than I thought it would."

"Let's get in line to grab some food and then we'll sit with some of my friends over at that table." Lukas pointed and one of the boys at the table waved and called Lukas' name.

Sloppy Joes were the day's fare. Lukas got some fries to go with his, while Michael grab an apple and some celery sticks. When they arrived at the lunch table, Michael stood behind, nervous about meeting more people. But Lukas' friend greeted him.

"What's up Curtis," greeted Lukas as he gave Curtis a look and a nod to let Curtis know he wanted him to move over a seat to free up two seats side-by-side. Michael looked to Lukas for direction and then seated himself without making eye contact with the other boys at the table.

"Hey guys, this is my new friend, Michael. He's new here." With a chorus of welcomes and other pleasantries, the boys enthusiastically treated Michael. Michael blushed but looked up from his tray and smiled. As he scooted in his chair, he moved it closer to Lukas. This didn't go unnoticed by Lukas. This gesture by Michael let him know that Michael considered Lukas his protector, as much as he considered him a friend. Lukas put his arm around the boy and introduced his friends one-by-one.

"Michael, this is part of the gang. Curtis, Will, Trajan, Scott and... what's your name?"

"You dumbass," Jordan retorts has throws a fry at Lukas' head, just missing when Lukas ducked out of the way.

"Oh yeah, this is Jordan. Sorry, we kid each other a lot. We've known each other since, well, we've always known each other," said Lukas.

"Yeah, and he's the same dork he's always been," added Jordan.

Michael joined in the laughter as everyone cracked up.

Lukas looked down at Michael. It was great to see him smile and relax a little bit. 'He is really beautiful,' thought Lukas. 'Those sparkling blue eyes are killer. Wait, his eyes were gray this morning?' The thought went through Lukas' mind, only to be interrupted by laughter as Will made one of his trademark witty comments that had everyone in stitches. Will might be a quiet observer most of the time, but when he spoke, he tore everyone up with his sense of humor and comedic timing.

By the end of lunch, the boys were trying to outdo each other telling Michael embarrassing stories about each other. The boys bussed their trays and Lukas and Michael headed to gym. Being an older school building, the locker room afforded areas offering more privacy than you find in newer locker rooms. So Lukas directed Michael into a more secluded areas to change into their gym clothes.

Michael was very quiet as he changed. He stripped down to his underwear and socks before he began to dig into his shorts and t-shirt, unintentionally giving Lukas a great view of his body, and ass. Lukas was shocked by how muscular the smaller boy was. The soccer jersey he wore gave nothing away of the boy's ripped upper body and abs and Lukas was quite impressed. Even though the cargo short highlighted his firm ass, they didn't do it justice. Lukas had to turn away to keep from popping a full-on boner.

Michael, on the other hand, was more focused on being mentally ready to take on a bunch of eighth graders in sports. Though an eighth grader himself, Michael was fully aware that he was 2-3 year younger than the other kids in his grade, and usually at least six inches shorter and 40 lbs. lighter than his classmates. He loved sports and gym class. But today, in a new school, this could prove to be a challenge. He would have to prove himself and earn their respect, or run the risk of being bullied. He was also distracted by the idea of having to leave gym class a bit early to change (including a shower) and head over to the high school in time for his last two classes. The absolute last thing he wanted to do today was be late for his first high school class.

Other boys wandered into the locker room, changed and headed outside. With the nice weather, the teachers were taking full advantage and today's class was to meet outside on the stadium bleachers. Lukas and Michael were one of the first to arrive and Mr. Harris approached to introduce himself to Michael.

"Lukas, who's your friend?" inquired Mr. Harris, trying not to let Michael know the teachers has been briefed and held several meetings in preparation for his arrival.

"Oh, hey Mr. Harris, his is my friend Michael. He's in our class now."

"Well hello, Michael. It's nice to meet you," greeted Mr. Harris as he reached to shake Michael's hand.

Michael returned a good, firm handshake and looked Mr. Harris in the eye. "Nice to meet you, sir."

"That's a nice handshake there, Michael. Let me know if you need anything, I know it can be tough getting settled into a new school. Have you played soccer before?" This wasn't as much an inquiry as a rhetorical question. Mr. Harris knew Michael as an excellent soccer player and changed class' curriculum to soccer to help Michael fit in quickly. His thinking was that if Michael could show off his athletic ability, he'll be able to earn some respect from his classmates. His goal was to limit any bullying and to make sure Michael.

"Yes, sir. I know how to play soccer."

Though his response was humble and understated, Michael's eyes gave his true feelings away. He loved soccer. Mr. Harris had to turn his attention away from Michael so he could hide his smile. This should be interesting.

After the students were briefed on the day's activities, Mr. Harris broke the students into two teams. Michael was glad that Lukas was on the same team. When they took the field, Michael took up his usual spot at left forward. Michael looked around the field and found Lukas behind him playing left defender.

Play got underway. After a few possessions by each team, one of the defenders tried to clear the ball and knocked the ball off the knee of an opponent. The ball deflected off the student, high into the air and continued across midfield, drifting to the left side of the field.

Instinctively, Michael chased the ball down, dribbled around the defender and juked the goalie for an easy goal. Michael's teammates were jubilant over his goal, but none more so than Lukas. Seemingly out of nowhere, Lukas picked up Michael while whooping it up. Teammates congratulated Michael and then returned to the other end of the field to set up for the kickoff.

After another 15 minutes of play, it was clear that Michael was a superior soccer player compared to his classmates, and this infuriated Lewis Fuerst. Not the best athlete in the class. Not the smartest kid in the eighth grade. But Lewis was the most competitive and seeing a little kid out maneuver his classmates really pissed Lewis off.

"Can't anybody guard him? What the hell?" yelled Lewis. He wasn't going to let a little kid beat him so he switched positions so he could defend Michael the next time the young boy got the ball. Mr. Harris took note and kept his eyes on Lewis. If Michael was going to be bullied, Lewis would be the first suspect.

Finally, a ball was cleared out to Michael on the left side for the field. He faked out the midfielder who had dropped back in coverage. He saw and opening toward the middle of the field. If the other forwards played it correctly, Michael should be able to make a clean pass to a teammate on the left or right, he just need to give them a chance to catch up before he played the ball. Looking towards the goalie, Michael didn't see Lewis dropping back from his midfield position.


Just as Michael looked to his right to see if a teammate was slipping behind the defender who was moving at him, Michael received a forearm to his face. Lewis' mission to take Michael out of the play was a success. Without missing a stride, or even attempting to make a play on the ball, Lewis just ran Michael down like a semi-truck running over a small, economy vehicle.

Mr. Harris called a penalty but refrained from pulling Lewis out of class for his blatant, vicious foul. The teacher knew that if he "rescued" Michael from this situation, he would rob Michael of the opportunity stand up for himself and to earn the respect of his older classmates.

Lukas and other students from both teams ran to check up on Michael.

"What the hell Lewis! He's just a kid," scolded Samantha, of the girls on Lewis' team.

"Well you guys weren't defending him. I was just coming back to help out when I accidentally ran into the kid."

"Yeah, right," muttered Lukas as he checked on his friend.

After Michael hit the ground, it took him a couple seconds to figure out what happened. Then he realized that he needed to jump back to his feet and act as nothing happened. He wasn't going to let anyone bully him. He rubbed the side of his face. Luckily Lewis had caught him below the cheekbone, saving him from having a black eye.

"You okay?" asked Lukas.

Michael, with a very stern, serious look on this face, replied, "Yeah, I'm fine."

Play resumed and Lewis continued to help defend against Michael.

The next time Michael received the ball, he took the ball up the side line and centered it ahead to the center midfielder. Just after making the pass, Lewis ran Michael over again.

Since the team had the advantage with Michael centering pass, Mr. Harris didn't blow the whistle, but yelled at Lewis and called him over for a one-on-one talk.

"What are you doing, Lewis?"

"What?" asked Lewis, feigning innocence.

"You're not even playing the ball."

"Oh... sorry."

"I bet you are. Don't let it happen again, got it?"

"Yeah," he replied to Mr. Harris, then turned and muttered under his breath,"...whatever."

"You got it?" asked Mr. Harris with a bit more force. He knew Lewis' game.

"Yes, Mr. Harris," yelled Lewis over his shoulder.

"Good. Hustle back out there."

Michael's team had scored another goal and they were lined up for a kickoff.

Shortly after the kickoff, the ball ricocheted to Michael who moved the ball upfield, looking to pass. He felt that he could score at will, so he figured it would be better to help others score and make friend, rather than hog the ball and score all the goals himself.

Michael saw Lewis coming at him again. Turning his attention to Lewis. Looking Lewis in the eyes, he quickly faked to the left and right, freezing Lewis in his track. Michael wound up for a kick, but instead of passing to one of his teammates, Michael drilled a line drive into Lewis' family jewels.

"AAAAAHHHH!!" screamed Lewis, dropping to the ground into a fetal position.

"Grant, over here. NOW!" shouted Mr. Harris. Michael jogged over and waited by the equipment for his teacher to return from checking on Lewis. Once play resumed, Mr. Harris returned to the sideline to talk to Michael. After taking the ball to the balls, Lewis wasn't in much shape to be playing soccer. He gingerly jogged, or walked around the field, but didn't participate much in the play.

As Mr. Harris approached Michael on the sideline, he ordered Michael to face the bleachers, and then stood beside Michael also facing the stadium seating.

"Michael, you know that you shouldn't have done that, right?" Mr. Harris was trying to keep a straight face. He needed Michael to understand that he couldn't condone that type of behavior in his class, even if he thoroughly enjoyed seeing Lewis get what he deserved.

"Yes, sir."

"You kicked the ball at Mr. Fuerst on purpose, didn't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Michael, I need you to understand something." Mr. Harris paused to find the right words.

"What, sir?"

"Michael, I needed to give you the opportunity to prove yourself on the field of play. I couldn't kick Lewis out of class for what he did to you because he and his friends would pick on you more if they thought I was protecting you."

"Yes, I know, sir."

"Good. That's why I let Lewis continue to play. I needed to NOT protect you and I needed to allow you to stand up for yourself so you could gain some street cred." That made them both laugh.

"Hey! Keep facing the bleachers so they can't see you laugh or smile. That's what I'm doing."

Michael tried to look up at Mr. Harris without turning his head.

"That was a hell of a kick, Michael," Mr. Harris began laughing again. "But you never heard me say that, right?"

Michael giggled. "Okay."

"Good. I'm proud of the way you handled yourself today, but that was a one-time incident. NEVER physically attack another student again in my class. You got that."

"Yes, sir."

"I gave you the latitude you needed to make a point. The word will get around and you'll gain respect from students in the class, and around the building. But again, this was a one-time thing. You do it again, and you'll receive the same punishment Lewis will receive if he attacks you on the field again. Got it?"

"Yes, sir." Michael was really beginning to like Mr. Harris and smiled, looking up at his teacher.

"Again, that was a helluva kick little man," offering up a fist bump.

"You need to get changed and get to the high school for your next class. Have a good day Michael."

Michael returned the fist bump and thanked Mr. Harris before taking off for the locker room.

Lukas was paying more attention to Mr. Harris and Michael. 'If Michael gets in trouble for this, I'm going to Principle Miller. There's no fucking way Michael should get in trouble for what Lewis started.' Lukas was worked up to distraction and his blood was boiling. He glowered while back on defense, staring at Mr. Harris.

"Lukas, come here."

Lukas made his way over to Mr. Harris, uncertain why he was called over by the teacher, or what he would even say to him.

"Lukas, you are Michael's friend, right?"

"Yeah. Why did HE get in trouble? You didn't punish Lewis for what he did?" He didn't mean to say it, but Lukas couldn't keep it in. He was pissed and confused by what happened.

"Can you keep this between you and me?"

That caught Lukas off guard. "What? Um... yeah?"

"I let things slide with Lewis because I wanted to give Michael a chance to earn the respect of the other students and to stand up for himself."

"Oh? Yeah well... okay, but why did he get in trouble?"

"He didn't. I just talked to him about this being a one-time thing. Next time he will get into trouble. But I need you to let me know that if something is going on, if Michael is getting bullied or anything. I will do what I can to help. He's had a really tough year and I want to help to make sure this school year helps him get things back on track for him."

"Yeah, um... ok then." Lukas thought Michael was only sad about moving to a new town and scared about starting a new school. But Mr. Harris hinted at something more. Lukas was beginning to realize that Michael needed him as a friend more than he could possibly know.


Simon unlocked the door to his house and Lukas followed him in. The boys had lived next door to each other since they could remember. And ever since they could remember, they always walked home together to one house or the other. Since Simon's mother traveled so much for her job, particularly over the last 5 years, Simon frequently spent the night at Lukas', and Lukas spends the night at Simon's when she's is home. Carol felt it was the least she could do for Lars since Simon spends so much time at the Meijer's residence. But honestly, the boys wouldn't have it any other way.

"Ugh, I was able to get most of my homework finished in study hall. I just have to read some Biology and my Geometry homework. I hate having Geometry after Study Hall."

"Well, at least you have a Study Hall." Lukas dropped his bag on the kitchen table and plopped down in a chair. "I really want to practice but we should do our homework first."

"I think that depends on what you want to practice," replied Simon with a suggestive tone in his voice.

Lukas rolled his eyes and then gave Simon a big grin. "We'll do that later when we don't have to worry about getting other things finished."

Grabbing some junk food and soda, Simon laid out some study food while Lukas got his laptop out to play some music. Then the boys dug into the snacks and homework.

"Oh, dude. I forgot to tell you. There's this little genius kid or something in my Geometry class." At least that's what Simon was trying to say as he crunched on some Doritos. Talking intelligibly with his mouth full was not one of Simon's talents.

"Huh?" Lukas had no idea what Simon just said.

Simon took a drink of his Coke to wash the chips down. "There's this new kid in my Geometry class. He's like, only 12 or something."

"Oh, that's your Geometry class? His name's Michael. He's in some of my classes too."

"What?" That confused Simon even more. The kid was in both middle school and high school? "How do you know his name?"

"That's the new kid I was supposed to meet this morning. He's in my homeroom and History class. We also have art, lunch and gym together. He's a nice kid."

"He's in eighth grade? He looks younger than that. But how is he in my class?" The facts weren't adding up for Simon.

"Well, from what I know. He IS really smart and he's only 11. He skipped two grades at some point at his old school. That's who moved into the yellow down the street. I guess he's already taken Algebra he's taking Algebra 2 as an independent studies class with Mrs. Holtermann and they send him to the high school for Geometry and science. His schedule said he's taking Chemistry."

"That's kinda freaky. He's only 11?"

"Yeah, I guess it is kinda weird. But he's a really sweet kid. He's a great athlete -- not a nerdy or geek like you'd expect. And Mr. Harris kinda said he's had a really rough year. I think that's why his family moved here."

"Oh man, I wonder if one of his parents died or something," Simon pondered.

"I don't know. He really didn't say much."

"Or do you mean you didn't give him the opportunity to say much?" Simon cracked himself up.

"Oh, well... yeah, that could be true too. I took him around and introduced him to a bunch of people. I guess I never really got a chance to ask him much. But I think we should have him hang out with us. I'm probably his only friend around here. I didn't see him on the way home or I would have invited him over to do homework. You never know, he could probably help US with OUR homework!"


About the time Lukas was telling Simon about his day introducing Michael to everyone, Michael was finally leaving the school.

After changing from gym, he was met by the Assistant Principal from the high school. Mrs. Martinez enjoyed the opportunity to get some fresh air and hoped to make Michael's transition to the high school simple and easy. The stopped by the other school office to get Michael his student ID for the high school. He would need to swipe the ID to gain entrance to the building to get to his afternoon classes. She showed Michael where is Chemistry class was on the way to his Geometry class. He was late and all eyes were on him when Mrs. Martinez opened the door and introduced him to the class. Michael grabbed a seat in the front of the classroom and tried not to look at or make eye contact with any of the other students. Making it to Chemistry on time, he was saved the embarrassment of coming into the class late, but not the stares as the Sophomores and Juniors as they entered the classroom.

Relieved that the school day was finally over, Michael headed back over to the middle school to see about joining the soccer team. After throwing his things in his locker, Michael went looking for Coach Lopez.

The locker room was busy, but all of the coaches' offices were empty, so Michael headed out to the soccer pitch. A head of him, Michael spied a short, stocky Hispanic man dressed in a soccer kit and carrying a clipboard and a bag of soccer balls. "Huh, that was easy," Michael said to no one in particular and broke into a jog to catch up.

"Hi! Coach Lopez? I'm..." Michael began, but was cut off.

"You're Michael. Glad to meet you. Coach Harris was telling me about you. Said he hoped you would join the soccer team," interrupted Coach Lopez. He offered his hand a huge smile to Michael.

"Oh, really?" asked Michael, taking the coaches hand and returning a firm handshake.

"Yes, he said you would make a great addition to our team. If you can handle the ball like he bragged about, you'll get a lot of playing time. But what did he mean that you have a 'deadly aim' with your shots?"

Michael burst out laughing, "I don't know." Trying to look innocent wasn't working.

"You'll need your physical and a permission slip signed by one of your parents. In the meantime, if you don't have to get home right away, why don't you stay for practice. We'll call it a tryout."

"Yeah, great!" Michael was excited about getting to play soccer - REAL soccer - not what they play in gym class. "I have a copy of my last sports physical. It was for spring soccer so it should still be good."

"Awesome." Coach Lopez took the physical and looked it over before adding it to his clipboard. "Don't leave today without getting a permission slip from me. They are in my office."

*twwweeet* *twwwweeet*

"Hustle! Get your butts out here and warm up!"

While waiting for his new teammates to make it to the field, Michael started juggling one of the balls. Left, right, knees, feet, even off his head. He wasn't showing off, just warming up and not really paying attention to the other guys coming out for practice.

The other boys, however, noticed Michael's skill. They'd heard about the new kid - word got around fast. Many even heard about the kid that put Lewis Fuerst in his place, or rather, on the ground, during sixth period. Seeing the way Michael controlled the soccer ball, they were glad he was joining the team.

"Hey, Michael!"

Michael looked up, puzzled who would be calling his name or if they were even talking to him at all. Then he saw a lanky boy waving at him. The boy was average height for an eighth grader, but his narrow frame made him appear to be taller. His short-cropped hair was loosely parted on the side with the bangs brushed over. An angular face and brown eyes that smiled when he smiled made the boy cute, even handsome. It took Michael a moment to recognize Lukas' friend, Scott Schultz, from lunch.

"Hi Scott! I didn't know you played soccer." Michael was happy he knew someone on the team.

"Yo! Guys!" Scott was calling the troops in. He gave them a chance to catch up. "This is my little buddy Michael. He's Lukas Meijer's friend that drilled Lewis in the nuts in gym."

The rest of the team laughed and congratulated Michael for taking down the bully. For his part, Michael beamed and tried to remember the names of the boys as they introduced themselves and welcomed him to the team. As far as they were concerned, drilling Lewis was all the "try out" Michael needed.

Throughout practice, Lopez assessed the young boy. He did have great skills for his age. He had clearly been well coached in the past. Michael also demonstrated his ability to complete advanced soccer maneuvers and knew how to set up a defender to use the moves effectively. But the biggest advantage Michael had over his teammates wasn't his speed or skill, but his intelligence. The boy knew where defenders were, where they were going, and how to lead his teammates to the right spots on the pitch with well-placed passes and on field leadership. As practice progressed, Michael began to earn the respect of his teammates and the right to be a leader on the field.

When practice ended, the boys welcomed Michael to the team and many were calling him "Lil' Bro" instead of Michael. They headed to the locker room to change while Michael helped collect the balls for the Coach. He followed the Coach back to his office to get the permission slip.

"You won't be able to practice until I have the signed permission slip. You wear a boy's large?"

"Yes, sir. Either a medium or large is fine."

"Okay. I'll get your uniform ready. You can pick it up at your next practice. We practice each day right after school and our next game is Thursday. Here's a copy of the schedule."

"Awesome! I'll be ready tomorrow!"

"With your permission slip signed. See you then, Michael."

"Yes, sir!" With that, Michael turned and headed up to the third floor to retrieve his gym bag and homework. Packing everything up, he was glad he got the deepest backpack he could find. He could barely fit everything in the backpack he needed to take home.

Some of the boys from the soccer and football teams were leaving the school when Michael marched out the front doors. They were riding their bikes, getting picked up by parents, and a few were walking home in different directions. Michael headed up Maple Street with a little pep in his step.

He reached the yellow two-story on Maple Street, his new home, a little after 5:00 that evening. He walked up the sidewalk to the front door, noting his mother's car was not there. Dropping his bag at the bottom of the stairs and kicking off his shoes, Michael headed to the kitchen hoping she had come home earlier with groceries. On the short trip to the kitchen, he had gotten his hopes up. The fridge was still empty so he didn't bother looking anywhere else. Returning to the bottom of the stairs, he poked his head into his mother's room. It was clear she hadn't been home. His mother's absence worried him, but his stomach and food were a higher priority at the moment. The tried to convince himself that his mother was probably busy shopping, or looking for a job, or a boyfriend. Figuring she'll be home later in the evening, Michael decided to take dinner into his own hands. Taking his shoes and bags up to his bedroom, he woke up his laptop in search of a good place to order a pizza.

The photos on Big Daddy's Pizza web site looked appetizing and its 4.3 star rating on Yelp sealed the deal. Michael set up his online account and ordered a medium pepperoni mushroom pizza and some Coke. Then he decided to put off starting his homework until after he ate dinner.

The one thing he loved about the new house was the upstairs: two bedrooms across the hall from one another with a Jack and Jill bathroom in between. Since it was just him and his mom, he got the upstairs to himself. He chose the room on the left as his bedroom. That room faces the east and he likes getting the sun in the morning. The other room had vinyl flooring, and faced the west for evening sun. It would make a much better play room. Stripping down, Michael took a quick shower since he didn't shower after soccer. He initially decided to just throw on some white briefs and ankle socks, but at the last second realized he should also put on some gym shorts since the pizza delivery guy would be coming.

Crossing to the play room, his BlueTooth speakers connected and waiting for Michael to press play. After selecting the right playlist and making sure it was set to shuffle, he picked the first song to play. Turning the volume down so he could hear when the pizza arrived, Michael started his workout routine. Looking something like an gymnastic floor routine, Michael did his favorite exercises and maneuvers. He had always enjoyed the personal challenge of building his strength and mastering his body control in order to perfect each maneuver and routine on each apparatus. Despite his love for gymnastics, he hated competing. To him, competition was giving someone the control over what you do and how you do it. He never looked for gymnastics to help him gain someone else's approval. It was for him. It was his challenge and his accomplishments. It was so deeply personal to Michael that he felt competition cheapened it - competition took a piece of that from him. His coach eventually allowed him stop competing with the hope that he would return to competition as he grew older. But that was before. Now Michael had to rely on watching videos to learn new maneuvers. He also made some online friends in the gymnastics world and he could send them videos so they could give him pointers on how to master his latest challenge.

The doorbell rang and Michael ran down the stairs. With pizza and soda in hand, he headed back up to the playroom. Switching to his "Dance" playlist he hit play. Pizza in one hand, a can of Coke in the other, Michael danced around the room, singing with the music between bites. He wasn't worrying about his mom seemingly forgetting about him and bringing groceries home. He wasn't fretting over trying to fit in at school. He wasn't thinking about his homework. And he wasn't thinking about the events of the last nine months. Michael was being a smart, funny 11-year-old that happened to be a hot little dancer. Michael was being himself - something that he hadn't been for a long while. He was making friend, was on the school soccer team, stood up to a bully, and no one here knew anything about what happened in Oregon. It seemed things were actually going to turn around for him. He was actually feeling... happy? So that's the way the rest of the evening went - dancing, singing, pizza and homework, and more dancing, singing and pizza during his breaks from homework.

The later it got, the more he began to dread going to bed and the nightmares. He completed most of the day's homework, saving Geometry for last. He liked the challenge of doing proofs and after reading the Geometry book and doing some research online, Michael caught on pretty quickly before moving to East Harbor. He'd worked ahead so the current homework assignment was already completed, but in another notebook. To Michael, doing Geometry last was like saving desert until after your meal. He completed his Geometry assignment quickly, and checked it against his previous attempt at the lesson. After having such a rough night Sunday night, he was getting very sleepy despite the sugar and caffeine from the Coke. Deciding to finally call it a night, he shut down the play room then paused at the top of the stairs to listen to hear if his mother was home. Hearing nothing, he proceeded to his bed and was asleep before he could even pull the covers up.


Lukas and Simon finished up their homework and rewarded themselves with practice time -- time they almost enjoyed as much as lacrosse (but not nearly as much as having sex). The headed down a few steps to the lower level family room or, as they call it, their "studio". Lukas' drum kit and some various other percussion instruments, Simon's guitars and cello, a keyboard and the family's baby grand piano. The typical session was Lukas on drums, Simon on bass and they would play along with whatever songs they queued up that day. Their current favorite to start use as a warm up is "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes.

Though the boys started just playing with some of Simon's dad's instruments just for fun here and there during elementary school, but by the end of fifth grade, they began to take playing more seriously. Lukas spent more and more time behind the drum kit, while Simon turned his attention to string instruments. By middle school, Simon learned to read music, Simon started taking Cello lessons and now he also played the double bass.

To indulge this interest, Lars and Carol added to the boys' instrument collection and allowed them to take over the Novak family room. Acoustic and electric guitars, basses, keyboard piano, a drum kit, bongos and various other percussive instruments. The parents felt it kept the boys focused and out of trouble while giving them something else to do together.

Shutting down the studio, the boys went back to the Meijer residence to have dinner with Lars and to chill the rest of the night.

The sound of the backdoor triggered a voice from the kitchen. "Hey boys! Dinner will be ready in a few. I made lasagna tonight. Could you set the table?"

"Yummmmmmaaaayyy!" Lukas said in one of his silly voices. Lasagna was one of his all-time favorite meals. The boys dropped their bags inside the door of Lukas' bedroom and hurried to the kitchen. While Lukas grabbed the silverware, Simon grabbed the plates for the three of them.

"When's your mom getting back in town Simon?" Lars inquired.

"I think she's flying from San Francisco to New York tonight, and then she said she has to go to London. Since she's going to be gone so long, she said she'll be in town all next week."

Lars nodded. "I really do admire your mom. She's really made a career for herself. I've never understood finance beyond balancing my checkbook."

It had been difficult after Simon's father died. Carol had been the major bread winner in the family. Stephen stayed home with Simon while Carol traveled, teaching music at the elementary school and guitar and piano lessons after school. Stephen held the fort down while Carol built her career. After the car accident, Carol took a leave of absence from her firm. The boys had always been close to each other and Lars, Carol and Stephen really functioned as one set of parents raising both boys. That's when Lars stepped up and offered to watch Simon when Carol needed to travel for her job. And though Carol's current income could easily afford her a much more luxurious lifestyle, or the ability to move closer to one of the company's offices on the East or West coast, Carol choose to stay here, next to Lars and Lukas. She couldn't have a better living situation for Simon and that was most important.

Lars' support and informal counseling of Simon helped the boy adjust to his new living situation and the loss of a parent. Over time, Simon grew closer and closer to Lars. Where Lucas called Carol Novak "mom" in kind of a mother-in-law sense, Simon called Lars "dad" because he truly saw, and loved, Lars as his new father.

With the table set and the lasagna and salad on the table, the three men sat down to eat.

"How was school today?"

"I made a new friend today," Lukas offered.

Lars raised an eyebrow. "Oh really?"

"Yeah, the boy I went to school early to meet -- Michael. We have homeroom and lunch together and he's in my history, art and gym classes and Simon's geometry class. And in gym today, he took out Lewis Fuerst! It was epic. Everyone at school was talking about it."

Lars had heard many stories about Lewis Fuerst over the years. Though Lewis didn't terrorize Lukas or Simon, for the most part, the boys had plenty of stories to tell Lars over the years. Lars, being a child psychologist, even offered Lewis' father free services for his son, but he never followed through.

"What do you mean, took him out?" asked Lars.

"Well, Michael is smaller than everyone. He's only 11. So of course, Lewis went after him. First, it was just a forearm to the head or throwing a hip check and knocking him down. But eventually he just ran Michael down and laid him out. It must have hurt, but Michael just got up and kept playing."

"Where was Mr. Harris?"

"He told me he was giving Michael a chance to earn some street cred. He was afraid that if he stepped in and protected Michael, Lewis would pick on him more. Besides, everyone else in the class was staring to get pissed at Lewis too. Anyway, the next time Michael gets the ball he goes straight at Lewis. He fake Lewis out and froze him, then launched the ball right into Lewis nuts!" Lukas burst out laughing. "You should have seen how Lewis went down." He crossed his eyes and made a silly face and acted like he was falling off his chair.

"Sit up and eat, Mister." Lars gave Lewis "the look", then he continued. "So how is this 11-year-old in your class AND in Simon's class?" Lars actually knew the answer, but wasn't ready to have Lukas or Simon know he knew all about Michael and a lot about what happened in Oregon.

Lukas swallowed a mouthful of lasagna before he continued. "Mrs. Harmon said he's really smart and skipped a couple of grades at his old school. And he's already taken the math and science classes in the middle school, so he's taking Geometry and Chemistry at the high school."

"So you guys are friends now?"

"Well, yeah," started Lukas, who thought his dad's question was kinda dumb. "He's a really nice kid. He just moved into the yellow house down the block."

"Yes, he is a very special boy," Lars said taking more serious tone.

This did not go unnoticed by the boys. Simon and Lukas looked at each other. Simon's raised eyebrow was an unspoken signal for Lukas to get more information.

"Dad? Do you know Michael?"

"No, I haven't met him, but the school did call me in to consult them about a new student. It appears that new student was your friend Michael," Lars said carefully.

Lukas scrunched his face as he thought, then he asked, "Is he your patient?" Then his expression changed as he thought back the teachers at school. "Why are all of the teachers looking out for him? It's not just because he's so much younger than us, is it?" Then a look of concern came over his face. "Does it have to do with why he seems so sad? Did something happen?" This all took place in a couple of seconds making both Simon and Lars chuckle.

"Boys, you know I can't talk about things like this." The two teens deflated after getting their hopes up just a bit.

"But I will tell you this." That perked their ears. "Michael has been through more this year than anyone should ever have to endure. Moving here is to help Michael put his life back together. Yes, he is probably very sad. None of this was his doing, or his fault. I'm sure he could really use two good friends. Keep an eye on him. If anything is going on at school or you hear anything, and I mean ANYTHING, tell someone at school - a teacher, the principle, guidance counselor. Tell them immediately. And if you think Michael is having problems adjusting, tell me."

There were a few moments of silence as the boys took in everything Lars had said. Simon broke the silence, "That sounds really serious."

"Yes, it is. But Michael is also a really great little boy and someone who would benefit from your friendship."

The conversation really dampened the mood in the room. They finished dinner in silence. After the boys cleaned up after the meal, they said their good nights and retired to Lukas' bedroom for the evening.

Lukas picked up his copy of "Ender's Game" and tried to get into reading. He kept thinking about Michael. How sad the boy looked when they met in homeroom. 'He really was almost crying when he turned around,' Lukas realized. Even when Michael laughed at the lunch table, the solemn, downcast look would slowly take over his face. His happiness was superficial and fleeting. Though Lukas wondered what happened, he was more saddened about Michael's current situation.

Simon noticed Lukas' preoccupation. Spending the evening trying to learn the bass line of the next song he and Lukas were trying to learn, "Higher Ground" by Red Hot Chili Peppers, he watched Lukas zoning out and then trying to turn his focus back on his book. Simon knew exactly what was on Lukas' mind and knew Lukas wasn't going to be able to let it go. It was better to simply let Lukas work on it for a while. He would share when he was ready. Once Simon felt he knew the bass line fairly well, he checked on Lukas again and notice that even though Lukas was looking at the book, Lukas hadn't noticed he was holding the book upside down.

iPhones on chargers, music notebook put away, and teeth brushed, Simon walked over and climbed into bed. He reached over and took the book out of Lukas' hands. That's when Lukas became aware of Simon's presence in bed. Lukas went and brushed his teeth and returned to find Simon in bed waiting on him. Stripping naked, the way they've slept since they discovered the joys of sleeping naked a couple years earlier, Lukas climbed into bed. Simon, laying on his back, turned off the lamp on the nightstand and then reached over to pull Lukas to him. His right hand pulled Lukas' head to his chest so he could nuzzle into the blonde's hair. Lukas threw his right arm across Simon's chest and his leg over Simon's.

Simon ran his hand through the collar length hair on the back of Lukas' head, squeezed his neck and rubbed his back. Slowly and gently trying comfort his best friend. Then he felt the wetness on his chest he expected to come. Adjusting his position slightly so he held Lukas tight with both arms, he kissed the top of Lukas' head and whispered, "It's okay Lukas, you know I don't mind."

Lukas responded by squeezing Simon tight and shuddering as he began to cry.


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