THE JIGSAW PUZZLE

by Pink Panther

Back at school and preparing for his GCSE exams, Ian's as busy as he's ever been, and apart from the lack of regular sex, his life seems to be very much on track. So read on and enjoy! Please remember that all the usual disclaimers still apply. Feedback is always welcome. Please send your comments to archimedes294@hushmail.com and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

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CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

January 2010

The following day we're back at school and back to reality. I did well in my mock exams, but I can't afford to slacken off. We're almost on the last lap now. I need to stay focused. After two weeks where my time's been largely my own, I'm suddenly busy again.

Fortunately, all my friends are in the same boat, working hard towards the summer GCSE exams. In a strange way, it really helps. Nobody actually says it, but it's like we're supporting each other, all of us wanting the others to succeed. All I know is that if I don't do as well as I'm hoping, it won't be because I didn't put the work in.

There's just one thing that's bothering me. Since Boxing Day, I haven't been able to get Franny out of my head. That's weird. I've only ever seen him fully dressed, and I haven't a clue if he's gay. If I wanked off thinking about Robbie or Anthony or even Patrick, that would be fine. Instead, I fantasise about doing stuff with Franny.

That's worrying. He's nearly four years younger than me; even younger than Dominic. I don't want to be thinking about having sex with boys as young as him. It's pervy, isn't it? And if I actually did, I could lose everything I've worked so hard for.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

It's Saturday morning, with the end of January just a few days away. I'm doing my English homework when my phone starts ringing. It's Anthony. That's a surprise. We're due to meet this afternoon for a trip to the cinema, so why is he calling now? I press the answer button.

"Hi, man! I say brightly. "What's up?"

"I need to ask you something," he says. "Have you got anything fixed up for the summer holiday?"

"I don't think so," I say. "I expect Mum and Dad will book something in the next few weeks. It's what they usually do."

"You know last year I went to Antibes?" he goes on. "Well, we've decided to go back. We'll be renting a place out there. We're going to fly out on the Monday after school finishes, and stay for three weeks. We wondered if you'd like to come with us."

Wow! What an offer that is! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

"I'll have to ask," I say cautiously. "I'd love to, but I'm not sure Mum and Dad will let me."

"We'll have a room with twin beds," he continues. "We won't actually be sleeping together."

"I'll give it a try," I assure him, "but I'm not sure they'll go for it."

"But you will ask?"

"Oh yeah!" I confirm. "It'd be awesome! I'll get back to you, yeah?"

We end the call. I sit back in my chair, looking up at the ceiling. Now I've got a real challenge. I definitely want to go. I'd be working in a totally inspiring place with professional artists around that I could learn from. How good would that be? Having sex with Anthony would just be a bonus.

I'll have to tread very carefully. There's a chance Mum and Dad will agree, but if they don't, I'll have to accept it as gracefully as I can. That won't be easy, but I must not go into a sulk. Mum and Dad hate that, Mum especially. It could ruin all the good work I've put in.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

"I know Claire's been on holiday with Natasha's family," Dad says thoughtfully. "So we've no objection in principle. But with you and Anthony both being gay, well, you can understand our concerns."

"We'll be going there for the art, not for any other reason," I respond. "You should see the stuff Anthony did while he was there last year. It was amazing!"

"Yes," Dad says calmly. "I understand that. I'll talk to Mum about it, but I'm not making any promises."

"Thanks!" I say, smiling.

Well, I made the case as well as I could. I'll just have to see what happens.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

It's time for lunch. Apart from talking to Dad, I've been working all morning. That's enough for today. There are still a few things I need to finish off. I'll do them tomorrow, before we go running. I wander downstairs and into the kitchen.

"I've been talking to Anthony's father," Mum says briskly. "I can't say I'm entirely happy about it, but we're going to give you the benefit of the doubt."

"You mean I can go?" I ask, hardly able to believe what she's just said.

"Yes," she confirms. "We're trusting you to behave responsibly. I hope you won't let us down."

"I won't," I tell her. "Thanks Mum!"

I'm shocked by how readily they've agreed to it. I was expecting something akin to the Spanish Inquisition before they'd even consider it. I know Mum likes Anthony's dad. Even so, I thought they'd take much longer to make their minds up. I can't wait to tell Anthony they've said yes.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

The cinema trip was awesome. Anthony and I were like totally buzzing. We've had dinner and I'm up in my room, working on my latest drawing. There's a knock at the door.

"Come in!" I call.

Dad appears. He sits on my bed.

"You heard what Mum said to you at lunchtime?" he says quietly.

"Yeah," I acknowledge. "What did Anthony's dad say to her?"

"I'm not sure," he says. "Let's just say that the planets were favourably aligned."

"What?" I query.

"While you're in the South of France, Mum and I will be in Florence, just the two of us. It's been a long time since we've been able to do that."

My face breaks into a broad grin. I get it now, like totally!

"Wow!" I breathe. "That is so cool! You'll have an amazing time!"

"Just take care, won't you?" he urges.

"Yeah, course I will!" I assure him, grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

It's Sunday morning. David's just arrived for our usual Sunday training run.

"Scott was on the telly last night," he tells me.

"Really? Had he done something special?"

"Just a bit! They'd gone a goal down, so with half an hour left, they brought him on. Scored one goal and made another, so they won 2 Ė 1."

"Wow!"

"And it wasn't just any goal he scored either. He hit it on the volley from outside the box. It absolutely flew in! The goalie stood no chance! Then about ten minutes later, he got the ball out on the left wing, skipped past two defenders, took it almost to the corner-flag and whipped in a cross. He put it right on their centre-forward's forehead. The guy just nodded it `Good Morning!' and it was in the back of the net. Fantastic! You can't cross a ball better than that."

"Sorry," I say, grinning. "I don't really understand football."

"You should watch it. You've got iplayer, haven't you?"

"Sure!"

"It was on the Football League Show. Watch it, yeah?"

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

I sit at my computer and log in to BBC iplayer. It doesn't take long to find the programme. I spend about ten minutes getting bored. Then they show highlights of the match that Scott was playing in. First, they show the goal that the other team scored. A few seconds later, Scott's running in from the left touchline towards the corner of the penalty area. One of his team mates plays the ball across from the other side of the pitch. With the ball still in the air, Scott strikes it with his right foot. It flies into the top right-hand corner of the goal. David was right. The goalkeeper didn't have a hope of stopping it. Wow! Even I know that was special. The commentators are going nuts!

Watching it again, it seems even better. Now that I'm really concentrating, I can sort of see the skill and athleticism involved. The ball wasn't just in the air when he struck it, it was above knee height. That must be so difficult! Even more amazing was his instinct to run into the space by the corner of the penalty area, giving his team mate the opportunity to play the ball to him. Best of all, when the goal went in, he accepted his team mates' congratulations, waved to the fans and got on with the game. I feel proud just to know him.

I watch the other part too, although that's not as clear. Scott plays the ball in from by the left corner-flag. A big black guy running down the middle of the pitch jumps up, meets it perfectly and heads it into the bottom corner of the net. Once again, the pundits are in raptures.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

For some reason, I'm in a changing room that I don't recognise. I'm naked. Scott's there too, sitting on the bench taking his kit off. In the corner of the room, there's a chair. As soon as he's stripped off, he goes and sits in it. He's got a raging hard-on. He asks me to sit on his lap. Turning my back to him, I sit down. His cock goes right up my arse.

I'm gasping for breath. I've made an even bigger mess in my pyjama shorts than I did the last time this happened. Fuck! That's the second wet dream I've had about him. I wouldn't care, but what are the chances that it'll ever happen for real? Just about zero.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

February 2010

It's Wednesday afternoon, two days before the start of the half term break. For the first time since last September, we don't have a race. That's because on Saturday morning we'll be racing in the county championships.

It seems that Mr Saunders has put together a Year Ten training group like the one we had last year. With four of them and the four of us from Year Eleven, we'll have enough runners to contest the Intermediate Boys' race.

"Don't worry," Mr Bentley tells us, "The standard will be much lower than you're used to. Most of the schools that enter have one or two good runners, usually boys who run for a club. The rest of the teams are made up of footballers and the like who won't have trained for it and haven't raced."

It sounds okay, though as far as I know, our Year Ten boys haven't raced either. It's not a problem. I'll just do the best I can, the same as I always do.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

It's late on Friday afternoon when I get a call. It's Robbie.

"Are you and your mum going to be coming to the meeting on Tuesday?" he asks.

"Yes, we're looking forward to it. "

"Are you on half term then?"

"Yeah."

"Any chance we could get together one of the days?"

"Sure! Monday afternoon would be good. Could you come over here? I'll meet you at the station. It's my birthday today so I'm actually legal!"

"I've never been on the train on my own before," he admits.

"It's easy," I tell him. "Just remember to get off."

"I will," he assures me. "I'll see you Monday then."

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

I can't say getting up early on a cold Saturday morning is one of my favourite things to do, but I guess it won't hurt for once. So here we are, lining up for the county championship race, alongside around a hundred other boys.

I make my usual steady start, but it soon becomes clear that Mr Bentley was right. Away at the front a small group, Patrick among them, is pulling away from everyone else. And now that I'm into my running, I'm picking up places pretty much all the time. I get ahead of Gavin Armstrong right from the start and pass one of our Year Ten boys halfway round the first lap, which makes me the team's sixth scorer. Heading into the final lap I pass another of the Year Ten boys. I'm going well now, so I keep pressing on, almost catching Simon Heath as we approach the finish. I check my finishing disc. It bears the number 17. I'll settle for that!

I hand the disc to Mr Bentley. He's very excited. It seems that Patrick didn't just win, on the last lap he ran away with it, which came as a big surprise to the club runners who've never seen him before. And with a total score of eighty-two points, we might have won the team race.

In the event, we squeaked the win by four points. I've got a gold medal in my pocket to prove it. Oh, I'll never be a serious runner the way that Patrick is, but it's still nice to score the odd success here and there.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

I'm waiting on the station concourse for Robbie's train to arrive. He appears right on cue. He's wearing skinny jeans that look like he's been poured into them, the bulge stuffed down one leg making it perfectly obvious what he's packing.

"Hi!" I greet. "We need to get some lunch first. I'm starving. We can go to Pizza Express or KFC, or we can go to mine and I'll make us cheese on toast."

"I haven't got much money," he says. "I spent most of what I had getting here."

"Cheese on toast it is then!" I say brightly, leading him towards the bus station.

"Get anything nice for your birthday?" he asks.

"Sort of," I tell him. "Mum and Dad are paying for me to go on holiday with the family of a friend from school. We're off to the south of France for three weeks. We're both into art, so it'll be a sort of working holiday."

"Oh, right," he says, like he has no idea what I'm talking about.

Twenty minutes later we're back at mine. I let us in.

"This is a great house," he says looking round.

"Yeah, it's not bad," I admit, settling to the task of preparing lunch. "Dad built the extension. He's pretty good at that sort of thing."

"Oh, I didn't realise you had a dad. He doesn't come to the meetings."

"No, he works abroad, Germany mainly. We only see him at weekends and holidays. So is it just you and your mum?"

"Yeah, my dad left when I was little. I haven't seen him for years. What about you?"

"I've got a sister, Claire. She's eighteen. Don't worry; she's at her boyfriend's. She pretty well lives there during the school holidays. If all goes to plan, they'll be going to uni together in October."

We spend the next fifteen minutes munching our way through generous helpings of cheese on toast, chatting about this, that and nothing in particular. Finally, we're done.

"Are you ready?" I ask, loading the dirty plates into the dishwasher.

"Yeah," he says, grinning.

We head to my room. He looks round in wonderment, like he's just stepped onto a spaceship or something. I've never really thought about it, but my room's dedicated to art, architecture and the rest of my schoolwork. It's like he can't imagine anyone having a room that looks like mine does. He alights on my latest drawing, studying it carefully.

"You're really talented, aren't you?" he says, smiling.

"Not bad," I concede.

I know it was meant as a compliment, but actually the word grates. It's like he thinks I woke up one morning and was suddenly able to draw like I do now. I'd like to scream at him, `No, it's not like that!' I don't of course.

Okay, drawing's something I've always been fairly good at, but the main reason that I can draw as well as I do is the hours of work that I've put in. That's what he doesn't understand. And there's no way he'll understand about the hundreds of hours I'll have to put in if I'm going to be as good as I want to be.

"I'll show you some drawings I did a few years back," I say, reaching into the bottom drawer of my desk to remove my secret drawing pad. He starts to look through.

"Wow! Harry Potter! You haven't actually . . . ?"

"No, of course not!" I say, grinning from ear to ear. "I just used my imagination."

"It looks just right though," he says, smiling back. "Oh, and Ron Weasley," he adds, turning the page. "He's got a big one! It looks perfect on him."

He looks at one drawing after another until he reaches the penultimate picture.

"Wow!" he breathes. "Who's that? He's gorgeous!"

"His name's Alex Pettyfer," I tell him. "He played Tom Brown in the latest version of Tom Brown's Schooldays. I think he was thirteen when it was filmed. And I did get a fairly good look at him. Not his cock, of course, but you could see pretty much everything else."

He turns to the final picture, where I allowed my imagination to run wild.

"Fuck, man!" he gasps, his eyes glued to the image. "That is sooo hot! How old were you when you did these?"

"Thirteen."

"Fuck! That's fantastic!"

"I did these for fun," I tell him. "Over the past couple of years, most of the drawings I've done are of buildings and townscapes."

There's a momentary pause. Almost instinctively we begin pulling each other's clothes off. Stark naked, we tumble onto the bed. Once again, Robbie takes charge. The foreplay is totally awesome! We do everything. I'm so into it that I find myself on all fours without any real idea how I got there.

Over the next five minutes he fucks me senseless. Then to finish matters, he sucks me off. A few seconds after I've cum, he lets me go. That was wild! As sex goes, it doesn't get much better, at least not for me it doesn't.

"Fuck!" he croaks, almost choking on my spunk. "You shot loads!"

"Yeah!" I say, smirking. "I hope it wasn't too much for you!"

After getting ourselves cleaned up, it's time to relax. Unfortunately, that's where the awkwardness starts. Apart from the sexual attraction, we have so little in common, I find it difficult to talk to him. He leaves about three-thirty. When I invited him, I thought that I might be able to meet him again later in the week. Well, I can forget that idea. My straight friends are better company than he is.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

It's almost seven thirty when Mum and I arrive for the parents' group meeting. We make our way into the hall just as the meeting's about to start. To my surprise, Mum takes a far more active part in the discussions than she did the first time. I can't tell you how pleased I am. That's real progress. It's why we're here.

At nine o'clock, we're given half an hour to socialise. Robbie's friend Max blatantly ignores me. I don't care. I think he's a prick. The meeting draws to a close just after nine thirty. Once again, Mum's deep in conversation with Mrs Goodwin, leaving me to chat with Robbie. We move discreetly away from our parents.

"Would you like to come to our place on Thursday?" he asks quietly.

"Sorry," I respond. "I've got loads of work to do. I won't have time."

A moment later I spot Mum heading our way. We're instantly on our best behaviour.

"You must be Robbie," Mum says extending a hand.

"Yes, pleased to meet you," Robbie says politely, accepting the handshake.

"So what do you do with yourself?" she asks.

"I'm at college doing my A-levels," he responds.

"And then what?" Mum persists.

"I'm not sure yet," he answers, repeating what he's told me.

"Okay, young man," she says, turning to me and smiling. "Time to get you home; I've got to go to work in the morning."

"Bye Robbie! Bye Mrs Goodwin!" I call as we leave.

"He seems nice enough," Mum comments as we begin our journey, "But he doesn't have much drive, does he?"

"Not really," I agree. "He hasn't a clue what he wants to do."

"That's what worries his mum," she says. "She says he drifts along from one day to the next."

"Well you don't have to worry about me," I assure her. "I'm not going to do that."

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

The following afternoon, I'm in my room, working. Claire's gone out with Damian. To be fair, she's been working really hard. I guess she needs some time off.

Unexpectedly the doorbell rings. I open the front door. A very good-looking guy in his late teens is standing there, smiling. I sort of recognise him, but for a moment I can't place who it is. Then it hits me. It's Scott Paxton. I haven't seen him in the flesh for over a year, and his dark wavy hair's a little longer than it used to be. Wow! He looks even more stunning than he did on television.

"Sorry," I blurt, hardly knowing where to put myself, "Claire's not here."

"I know," he says, smiling. "It's you I came to see. Can I come in?"

"Yes, of course!" I say, though I've no idea what he wants to see me for.

I lead the way through to the lounge. Scott sits on the sofa with me on the armchair facing him.

"So it's been going pretty well then?" I suggest.

"Yeah, very well, thanks," he says. "I made my first team debut a year ago and got a full professional contract last April. This season I've been playing regular first team football. We're mid-table in the Championship, so that's pretty good. I'm enjoying it anyway."

"I saw you on telly a couple of weeks ago. You were amazing!"

"I played pretty well that day, but I can't get carried away. I've still got lots of work to do. So how are things with you?"

"Pretty good, thanks," I say. "I've got my GCSE's coming up in the summer."

"Yeah," he comments. "I'll be doing my `A' levels then."

"Yeah, Claire told me about that. What are you doing?"

"Maths, economics and history."

"I thought you'd give up studying when you left to play football."

"Oh no," he says. "All the club's trainees have to do a study programme. Anyway, I enjoy it, and it helps to fill the time when we're not playing or training. As long as the `A' levels go okay, I'll be starting an Open University degree in September. It's an insurance policy. I'm doing well at the moment, but one bad injury and my football career could be over."

"Oh, I see," I respond.

"David tells me you've been doing pretty well for the cross-country team," he says, changing the subject, "especially in that really tough race before Christmas. And last Saturday your team won the County Championship."

"Yeah," I admit, feeling a little embarrassed. "I went pretty well in those two. Usually, I don't make the scoring six."

"You're looking really fit," he comments.

"Thanks," I respond, more embarrassed than ever. "So what did you want to see me about?"

"Since I got my contract, I've been earning pretty good money," he explains. "Oh, it's nothing like what Premier League players make, but it's way more than most guys my age earn, and so I started tucking some away so I could buy my own place. Well, I found somewhere I liked. Last month, as soon as I was eighteen, we exchanged contracts. I got the keys yesterday. It's only a one-bedroom flat, but it's a start, yeah? The thing is it was built thirty years ago and hasn't been touched since. It needs a complete refurb. I'll use Bill Gardner, the guy that does any work that my parents want done, but I'll have to tell him what I want. I know you're into that sort of thing. I wondered if you could help me out."

"I'd love to," I say. "But all I've ever done is Claire's bedroom, and that was two and a half years ago."

"Can I see it?" he asks.

"Sure," I tell him.

We head upstairs and into Claire's room.

"Wow!" he says. "This is so cool! So how old were you when you did this?"

"Thirteen."

"You've got a fantastic eye. This is how I want my place to look."

"Well, I'll be happy to help," I tell him.

"Actually, that's not the only reason I came here," he says, suddenly looking uncomfortable. There's a pause. "I don't know how to say this," he goes on, looking down at his feet. "Do you remember when we first met? David and I had just rejoined the choir to sing tenor. One afternoon we were waiting for a rehearsal. You came over and chatted to us. I couldn't help noticing how cute you were. And now you've grown up, you're not just cute. You're gorgeous."

I'm stunned. My brain just logged off. Time's stopped. He can't have said what I just heard. It's not possible. Brain reboots itself. He did say it. I haven't imagined it. He actually said it.

"You're gay?" I query, my eyes almost falling out.

"Yeah," he says, almost in a whisper. "I've known since I was twelve, maybe thirteen. At first, I tried to bat it off, you know, told myself I'd grow out of it. I went out with girls when I had time, well, one girl anyway. ZoŽ was pretty good about not being able to see me very often, and she liked the fact that I didn't expect to do much. I guess it suited both of us. But deep down I knew it wasn't me."

"Wow!" I breathe, my head still spinning. "Does anyone else know?"

"David does," he says. "That's it. When I began my traineeship, I had to live in a hostel near the club. I hated it. Most of the other boys were into all this macho shit. I kept away from them as much as I could. They couldn't say too much. I was a better player than any of them and I worked harder in training. I couldn't wait to get out of the hostel. Since I got my contract, I've passed my driving test and bought a car. I've been back living at home for the past few months. But I need my own place, yeah, somewhere I can be me."

"Yeah, right," I say absently, still struggling to get my head round it.

"I know you used to go with that very slim boy who dyes his hair," he says, "but David said he doesn't think you're still together."

"No," I confirm. "Anthony and I haven't been together like that for ages. He met someone else, yeah? We're still friends though. He's invited me to go on holiday with him in the summer. We're going to the French Riviera to do painting and stuff. It's where the Impressionists worked."

"Cool," he says. "I remember another choir rehearsal. I think it was for the Christmas concert. Afterwards the three of us went home together on the bus. David and I were sitting on one seat. You were on the seat in front. I got a hard-on like you wouldn't believe, just being near you like that. As soon as I got home, I went to the bathroom and wanked myself stupid."

I burst out laughing.

"What's so funny?" he demands.

"I remember that!" I say, recovering my composure. "I was sitting there thinking how hot you were. My cock was sticking straight up. I was really scared that you or David might notice. And guess what I did when I got home?"

"Wow!" he breathes, shaking his head in disbelief. "That's amazing!"

"So have you ever, you know, been with anyone?" I ask.

"I was always too scared that someone would find out," he says. "I love football, but it's terribly homophobic. If people knew I was gay, that would have been the end of it, as far as playing professionally is concerned."

As bolts from the blue go, this one's right up there. I'd never even thought about it. All the times he helped me out, or spoke to me, or asked how I was getting on; I just thought he was being nice. Well, he was, of course, but part of it was that he fancied me but was too scared to say anything. Well, finally he has. How cool is that?

"You're in luck," I say, giving him a mischievous grin. "I was sixteen last Friday, so I can now say `yes' legally."

This is it. We've done with the chat. I take a deep breath.

"So d'you want to . . ."

He nods. He looks like he's about to jump out of his skin. I remember my first time. It's a big step, maybe bigger for him than it was for me. After leading him into my room, I go to the window and close the curtains. I stroll back, standing in front of him. I pull off my shoes and socks. He follows suit. Rather cautiously, we set about undressing each other.

I can tell he hasn't done this before, his fingers fumbling to undo the drawstring at the top of my training pants. I take off his top and pull down his jeans. He kicks them off. He's not much taller than me, around five feet eight, but his physique is to die for. His muscle definition is amazing. I'm not talking all pumped up like a body-builder. These are working, functional muscles, firm, compact and beautifully defined.

Finally, I pull down his boxers. He's not as big down there as Jayden, more like Dean's size, but a fraction thicker. I stand back to take in the view. In addition to a neat crop of thick, dark pubes, he has a thin covering of short dark hairs on his calves and forearms, but if he was fair like me, you wouldn't be able to see them. Apart from that, he's a smooth as I am. I guess he does shave, but his skin's so smooth and clear, it's hard to tell. I know he's eighteen, but he looks way younger than Dean or Matthew. I don't know about me, but he really is gorgeous! I allow him to return the favour.

"You're beautiful!" he breathes.

We get onto the bed. I snuggle up to him, pressing my lips to his. He's a little hesitant at first. Then he relaxes. In the next instant I've got him all over me, our hands going everywhere, stroking and fondling. He kisses beautifully, his tongue almost down my throat, his wonderful aroma filling my nostrils. I guess he learned to kiss when he was going out with ZoŽ. I bet he never kissed her like this though!

I pull away, snaking around so that I can take him into my mouth. He moans with pleasure, his fingers running through my hair. I slip my hand between his legs, gently stroking his perineum. He's almost delirious. I let him go. I don't want it to end yet. We snuggle up again.

"I'm guessing you liked that," I tease.

"That was unreal!" he gasps. "Would you like me to do it to you?"

"Sure," I say casually. "Just be careful with your teeth, yeah?"

He moves into position. He seems very nervous. I suspect it's not because he thinks he won't like it, but because he's afraid he'll do it wrong. His lips slip slowly over the head of my cock. I ruffle his hair, urging him to continue. He begins to suck.

"Oh yeah!" I groan. "That's wonderful!"

He puts his hand between my thighs. I open my legs to give him more space. A moment later he's massaging the sensitive area behind my balls. The sensations are fantastic. I'll cum in a few seconds if he keeps this up.

"Okay, you can stop now," I tell him.

He eases away.

"Was that okay?" he asks, seeking my approval.

"It was more than okay," I assure him. I draw him towards me. "So how about we suck each other at the same time?"

"Yeah, let's do it!" he agrees, his eyes sparkling.

"Okay, slide down the bed a bit," I say. "I need some room."

I swing myself around, placing my feet against the headboard. He adjusts his position and we're good to go. We set to our task. He may never have done this before, but you wouldn't know. It's like he was born to it. After less than a minute I feel his body stiffen. Barely a second later he's giving me everything he's got.

Almost immediately I return the compliment. I'd wondered how he might react when that happened. I needn't have worried. He doesn't make any attempt to pull away, sucking and swallowing like he's been doing it for years. Finally, it's over. We snuggle up one more time, our arms wrapped around each other, my eyes locked on his.

"So how was that?" I ask.

"Awesome!" he breathes. "I've dreamed for ages about doing something like that. I'd no idea it'd feel that good!"

"It was awesome for me too," I say, playfully licking his nose.

"So can I see you again?" he asks.

"Yeah, of course!" I confirm.

"How about Friday afternoon?" he suggests. "I'll be back from training about quarter past two."

"I'll see what I can do," I say, screwing face up. "I'll need to make sure Claire's not going to be here."

"You're not going to tell her about this, are you?" he asks, looking apprehensive.

I take another deep breath.

"I'll have to," I say quietly. "If I ask her what's she's doing on Friday afternoon, she'll want to know why. But don't worry. She's been a total rock for me, she really has. It's okay, trust me. She won't say a word."

"As long as you're sure," he says.

"I'm sure," I tell him.

I rub my nose against his, savouring his aroma, revelling in the warmth and closeness of his beautiful body.

"So will you come and see the flat so you can get some idea what to do with it?" he asks, stroking my hair. "I'll drop you back afterwards."

"Yeah, sure," I say. "Can't we just stay here a bit longer?"

"Sorry," he says. "I told Mum I'd be back by six."

"Okay," I concede.

We're back into our clothes rather sooner than I'd have liked. I hoped we'd have spent a bit longer enjoying, you know, just being together. Maybe we'd have talked for a while. But it's early days. There'll be other times.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

There's only one way to describe the flat that Scott's bought. It could be very nice, but right now it's neglected, run-down and tatty. We'll need to rip everything out and start again. We measure all the rooms. Now I need to set to work. With my exams just a few months away I already had plenty to do. Now I'm going to be really busy.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

"Come in!" Claire calls.

I step inside, sitting on her sofa.

"Scott Paxton came round today," I say baldly.

"Really?" she says. "What did he want? Did you tell him I was out with Damian?"

"Actually, he came to see me," I tell her. "He's bought himself a flat near the town centre, but it's a bit run-down. He asked me if I'd design the refurb for him."

"And are you going to?" she demands.

"Yes, of course. It's the first chance I've had since I did this place."

"You be careful. Mum and Dad'll go nuts if you start neglecting your school work."

"Don't worry. There's no way I'm going to do that."

There's an uneasy pause. I swallow hard.

"I know you and Damian are going out tomorrow," I begin. "What about Friday afternoon?"

"Why d'you want to know?" she asks, eyeing me suspiciously.

"There was another reason Scott came round," I go on, "but you've got to promise not to tell anybody."

"Fair enough," she says. "It's our secret. So tell me."

"He told me he was gay. Pretty much asked me if I wanted to be his, you know, boyfriend."

"Seriously?" she asks, her eyebrows as high as I've ever seen them.

"I don't do wind-ups," I tell her.

"Well, that explains a lot!" she says emphatically. "Back when we were in Year Ten, all the girls wanted to go out with him. He always said he didn't have time because of his football. It never quite added up. If he'd wanted a girlfriend, he'd have made the time."

"He told me he used to go out with a girl called ZoŽ."

"Oh her!" Claire says dismissively. "ZoŽ Cooper; she's a mouse! She was quite happy to go to the pictures with him then have him pretty well ignore her for three weeks. That's not going out! When I said `going out', I meant properly!"

"Oh, right."

"So are you going to be his boyfriend?"

"I think so," I say. "We just seemed to fit; it felt like we'd been together for ages. He asked if he could see me again on Friday afternoon."

"So you'd like me to be out of the way," she says, smirking. "Well, I think it might be arranged."

"Thanks," I say, giving her my biggest smile. "Now I need to ask you another favour. Until his flat's ready, we won't have anywhere to meet."

"And how long's that going to be?" she demands.

"He should be in by Easter."

"So what are you suggesting?"

"I wondered if we could meet here, one afternoon each week, either Tuesdays or Fridays. Fridays would be better. Sometimes he has a match on Tuesdays."

"And where would I go?" she demands.

"You could go to the central library. It's only five minutes from school. Patrick does all his homework there."

"So Scott doesn't have anywhere he can take you?"

"No, he's living back at home at the moment. That's why he's bought the flat."

She pauses for a moment. "If it was anyone but you, I wouldn't even consider it," she says, measuring her words. "But as you really don't have anywhere else, I guess I can manage. Friday afternoons up till Easter. You'll need to make sure he's out of here by quarter past five. And if his flat's delayed, you can forget it, right?"

"Thanks!" I say warmly. "So you don't mind me being his boyfriend?"

"You're sixteen," she says. "You can do what you want. Anyway, Scott's really nice. Okay, he didn't treat ZoŽ very well, but that was as much her fault as his. You could do a lot worse."

"He's totally paranoid about anyone finding out he's gay," I tell her. "That's why you had to promise not to say anything."

"I bet he is. I don't imagine his macho football mates would like it. Well you needn't worry. It's our secret. It's going to be tough on you though."

"Yeah," I admit. "It worries me a bit."

"Just take care, yeah?" she says, smiling.