THE JIGSAW PUZZLE

By Pink Panther

And I guess you're still wondering, but by the end of this chapter, you may not be. Of course, all the usual disclaimers still apply.

Unsurprisingly, I haven't had much feedback from the first four chapters. After this chapter, however, I'm hoping that I'll receive considerably more. If you've been following the story, please send a comment, however brief, to archimedes294@hushmail.com . I'd really appreciate hearing from you, and will get back to you as soon as I can.

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CHAPTER FIVE

July 2007

Zav's been relentless. He's been on my case every single day. You might think I'd have got used to it, but it doesn't work like that. Mr Ashton was right; even name-calling can wear you down. There have been times when I've been on the verge of bursting into tears, other times when I've wanted just to tell him to fuck off and leave me alone. As it goes, I've managed not to do either, but I've quite often gone home from school feeling absolutely exhausted, just glad to get away.

I haven't done what Mr Ashton's suggested though. When Zav has a go at me, I haven't answered him back. I'm worried I'll mess up and make myself look stupid. He'd love that! I haven't been to see Mr Ashton about it either. I know I probably should have done, but I don't want to. I mean it's not like Zav's hitting me or anything. I guess the bottom line is that this is my problem and it's up to me to deal with it.

But despite all of Zav's taunting, the end of year exams went okay. I did about average in music, but to be honest, that was all I was expecting. Design Technology was a disappointment. There was no actual exam, our mark was based on the work we've done this term. I did well on the design side, but I'm not very good with the wood-working tools we've been using. I know it's not that important, but I'm still annoyed with myself for not doing better.

On the positive side, I was top in art and up near the top in everything else, so I'm heading into the holiday with a sense of relief if nothing else. Claire's done well too, so Mum and Dad are pleased with both of us. Of course, Mum will still go to the parents' evening next term, even though I already know which options I'm going to take for my GCSEs. It's her way of showing that she cares; that she thinks it's important. Well, I'm not going to complain about that, am I?

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

"What are you doing?" Dad asks, walking into Claire's room.

"Taking some pics of the way the room is now," I say, smiling at him. "Then I'll take some afterwards, so people can see the difference."

"Like they do on the makeover shows," Dad suggests.

"Yeah, exactly," I confirm. "I'm going to show them to Mr. Gault. He says if it's good enough he'll display it in the foyer outside the art rooms, you know, with the drawings and the photos."

"Make sure you check with Claire first," Dad advises. "Remember it is her room. Well, the skip's arrived, so as soon as you're ready we can make a start."

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

It's quarter past seven in the evening when I arrive at Andrew's house.

"Hi!" he says brightly. "So have you been working all day?"

"Yeah," I confirm, stepping inside.

"So what have you been doing?" he queries.

"Clearing the room mainly," I tell him. "We had to take everything out, dump it outside in the skip. Even the carpet; Dad cut it into pieces to make it easier."

"Oh," Andrew says absently. "So you've got rid of everything?"

"Yeah," I confirm. "It was all pretty well knackered. That's how I feel. Some of the stuff was quite heavy, yeah? And when we'd finished clearing the room, we made a start on stripping the old wallpaper."

"My dad never does anything like that," Andrew says, frowning. "If we need stuff doing, he gets people in to do it for us."

I smile to myself, quietly proud that we don't need to do that.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

Each day follows the same pattern, more or less. We begin work at around quarter past nine and work till eleven. We have a 15-minute break then work on until lunch at one o'clock. We start again at two Dad insists we take a full hour for lunch have another 15-minute break at around quarter to four and finish for the day between half past five and six. I have the evenings to do what I want, mainly hanging out with Mark and Andrew.

You probably think that Dad does most of the work and that I just help out a bit, or that he tells me what to do and I do it. It's not like that at all. At the start of each day, we discuss what we're going to do and how we're going to tackle it, like who's going to do what. There's no question of him ordering me about. Of course, he's got much more experience than I have, so I'm happy to follow his advice, but that's not the point.

Actually, since we got all the old wallpaper off, Dad's been asking me things, making sure that he understands exactly how I want it to look. And I've learned so much, like using masking tape to make sure we don't get paint where we don't want it. It's been great.

As I'm on holiday from school, I'm allowed to stay up a bit later. So after I get back from Andrew's house, I usually go on the computer for an hour or so. That's where I discover it, the album from a band called Razorlight. It blows me away, the best thing I've ever heard. I check them out. They're older than the guys in Arctic Monkeys and McFly. They've all had experience in other bands. It shows. The songs are great, with just as much edge to them as the Arctic Monkeys' stuff, but there's a sort of assurance about them, a sense that they really know what they're doing. They are totally cool.

They're led by a singer/guitarist called Jonny Borrell. I like him too. He's tall and slim with wavy blond hair and looks a real bad boy. Actually, I think he probably is one. He was in the Libertines with Pete Doherty and he's definitely a bad boy! He keeps popping up on the news when he's been arrested for having drugs on him.

It's weird. His girlfriend's a supermodel, but he's not hot at all, quite unhealthy looking in fact. I can't imagine what she sees in him, but that's girls, I guess. I like Jonny Borrell though. I'd love to look like his does. But would I want to do stuff with him? I don't know. I mean he's twenty-five, which is definitely pushing it. But suppose he wanted to do stuff with me? I know it sounds crazy, but I just can't get the idea out of my head.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

It's late on Saturday afternoon by the time we've got it all finished.

"Happy with it?" Dad asks.

"Yeah!" I breathe, smiling up at him. "It looks wicked!"

It really does. It's turned out looking even better than the drawings, just as I'd told Claire it would. After a shower and a change of clothes, we head downstairs for a celebration dinner. Mum says we deserve it after all the work we've put in. I'm even allowed a glass of wine. Natasha's family aren't due back from Spain till late, so Claire will sleep there tonight. It will be tomorrow morning before she sees it. I'm just hoping she likes it.

Meanwhile, I've invited Mark and Andrew round so that they can see what I've been up to. They arrive at quarter past seven. I usher them up the stairs.

"Wow, this is cool!" Andrew says enthusiastically. "What did it look like before?"

I show them the photographs.

"It doesn't even look like the same room," he comments.

"So your dad did it, and you helped," Mark suggests.

"Not at all," Dad says, standing behind them. "As far as the work goes, it was a fifty-fifty split, just about. And remember that Ian designed it all. I couldn't have done that."

I give him a big smile. He always supports me. I think that's why we get on so well.

"The only thing I didn't work on was putting that up," I say, pointing to the main light fitting.

"I had to do that," Dad confirms. "I didn't want him putting all the lights out."

"Wow!" Andrew says quietly.

I feel a glow of satisfaction. I'm still not sure that they really get it, but they've finally started to understand what I've been doing and why I've spent so much time on it.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

It's nearly eleven o'clock on Sunday morning when Natasha's dad drops Claire off. She's got a wonderful tan. She looks great, happy and relaxed, just the way you should after a holiday.

"So have you finished it?" she asks, looking a little apprehensive.

"Of course," Dad says, "Want to see it?"

We follow her upstairs. It's the moment I've been waiting for. It doesn't matter what anyone else says. It's her room. Her opinion is the one that really counts. My heart's in my mouth. She opens the door. She looks round, her eyes widening.

"This is fantastic!" she gasps. "The other girls are going to be so envious! It's perfect! I love it! Thanks Dad!" She gives him a hug and a sloppy kiss. Then it's my turn.

"You're a very special little brother, you know that?" she says, almost hugging the breath out of me. "I can't believe you did this. I'm so proud of you."

"Thanks!" I squeak, struggling for air. "It's been fun, hasn't it Dad?" I take out the `before and after' photographs. "I'm going to show these to Mr Gault," I tell her. "He said he'd like to display the project outside the art rooms if it's good enough. Are you okay with that?"

"Yeah, totally," she says smiling. "And it's definitely good enough."

Claire's approval means everything. We did this for her and she loves it. I'm glowing again. It's been worth all the time and effort we've put into it.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

Claire's friends certainly are envious of her new bedroom. It seems that it outstrips anything that they have. I'd go as far as to say that they're seriously impressed. But there's more to it than that. I always got on well with them before, but doing this seems to have made them regard me in a different light. I'm no longer just the cute younger brother who draws neat pictures. I've done something substantial, something that took time, effort and planning, something they know they couldn't have done. It's made me a serious player, someone that they respect. I like that!

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

Waking up in a strange bed is always a bit unsettling. For a moment, I'm not sure where I am or what I'm doing here. Then it comes back to me. We're staying in a small villa just outside Florence. This room will be mine for the next ten days. We arrived yesterday. It was quite late when we got here. After unpacking, we went out for a meal, pottered around for a bit and turned in early. This will be our first full day. I can't wait to get started.

It's ten o'clock when we head into the city. For anyone interested in the history of art and design, the Italian Renaissance is hugely important, and Florence was at its centre. Dad and I leave mum to explore the shops before heading for the Uffizi Gallery. It's a former palace and absolutely huge, with room after room lined with paintings by all the leading artists of the period. There are half a dozen rooms filled with works by Michelangelo, absolutely amazing! It seems that Dad knows quite a bit about some of the paintings, which he quietly explains to me, pointing out things that I probably wouldn't have noticed. I hadn't realised he knew so much. Right here, right now, I feel closer to him than I ever have.

It's quarter to one when we finally head back outside. The sun's blazing down and it's time to meet Mum for lunch, although we haven't seen half of what's on show. We head towards our appointed meeting place. That's when I notice. There are hot boys all over the place! It doesn't matter where I look, there they are! Many of them are in shorts; some have their shirts off. Wow!

Within seconds I've got a raging hard-on. This is seriously embarrassing! I hope Dad doesn't notice, though in all honesty he can hardly miss it. As it goes, he doesn't say a word. So either he actually didn't see it, or he's pretending he didn't. Perhaps he realises that getting erections is pretty common for boys my age, so he's just ignoring it. I'm not sure what he'll do if it keeps happening though. And it will, keep happening, I mean.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

August 2007

Florence is pretty much my idea of heaven. The galleries and museums are great, but it's the buildings that have really caught my imagination. They're amazing! I wish I could have sketched some of them, but I couldn't really expect Dad to stand around waiting while I was doing it, and there was no way he'd have left me on my own in a strange city. Anyway, I've had a fantastic time and learned more than I ever dreamed I would, so I'm not complaining. More than that, I pretty much know now where my passion for art and design is going to take me. I want to be an architect.

My little problem didn't go away exactly. I just got better at controlling it. There were still fit boys everywhere I looked, but by the third day I could walk down the street without getting a hard-on every time I saw one. Boarding the plane for the flight home, that's my one regret. If only I could have hooked up with just one of them and we'd actually, you know, done something together. That would have been so special.

I couldn't have, of course. With Mum and Dad around the whole time, I had no chance. So I'm going home even hornier than I was before I came here. When I get home, I'm going to have to do something about it. I don't know what. I don't know how. I'll just have to try.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

So here I am, back at home. Flushed with enthusiasm after my trip to Italy, I've been taking advantage of the warm sunny weather to go out sketching stuff, mainly around the old part of the town centre. This morning I went across to the far side of the river so that I could draw the cathedral.

After working on it for a couple of hours, I make a few tweaks and add a few finishing touches. I have to say it's come out pretty well, not perfect, but it's definitely one of the best things I've done. I'll show it to Mr Gault when we go back to school. Right now I'm hungry.

I pack my stuff away, head back across the bridge and stroll into KFC to get something to eat. My meal completed, I wander out into the sunshine, trying to decide what to do next. I could do some more sketching, but I don't really fancy it. I've been at it for two and a half days. I need a break. Mark and Andrew are both still away, so hanging out with them isn't an option.

Of course, the real problem is I'm so horny I hardly know where to put myself. I know what Mr Ashton said about being patient, but it's easier said than done. Without really thinking about it, I stroll along the main road past the Grammar School to the park where the art gallery is. The toilet block looms up in front of me. That voice deep down inside is telling me that I shouldn't be here. I half ignore it. I don't go in, but I stay in the park. Surely there can't be any harm in that?

After wandering round for a few minutes, I sit on one of the benches where I can see the entrance to the men's toilets. I want to see who's coming and going. I know I shouldn't be doing that either, but what the hell! I remember what Mr Ashton said about only going with someone close to my own age. It might be a long shot, but maybe, just maybe, I'll see someone like that.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

I sit there for more nearly an hour. The youngest guy I see has to be over thirty. Mainly they're older than that. Most of them don't show the slightest interest in me, but one guy is definitely eyeing me up. I'm still quite small, but I have grown quite a bit in the past year. I was almost five foot two when I measured myself a couple of days ago. I've grown down there too, eleven centimetres long, which is about four and a half inches, and six centimetres round, according to Mum's tape measure. I'm wearing a black tee-shirt with white pin stripes, knee-length, cream coloured cargo shorts and Nike trainers with no-show socks, so I guess I do look pretty cute.

But it's scary; memories of my last visit here all too vivid. In any case, the guy who's eyeing me up is older than Dad. I'd put him nearer fifty than forty. There's no way I'd go with him! I can feel my heart beginning to pound. I try to ignore him, hoping that he doesn't come and sit next to me, start chatting or something. I'll have to leave if he does. As it goes, he doesn't. After a few minutes he disappears.

I'm getting bored. I'm just about to go when I spot a boy walking slowly across the park. An inch or so taller than me, he's about my age or maybe a bit older, with medium length fair hair just a shade darker than mine. He's definitely cute. He comes closer. He's wearing a faded red running vest, well-worn trainers and a very ordinary pair of jeans, clean and tidy, but definitely cheap. The leather belt he's got on looks more expensive than they do. His arms are almost as skinny as mine, but from what I can see, I'd guess that his legs are more muscular. He's cute! I've got a raging hard-on again.

He's looking around, like he's trying to see who's here. He walks right past my bench. I pretend not to notice. One of his front teeth is chipped and he's wearing a cheap watch with a large round dial that looks huge on his small wrist. He seems a bit rough though not in an unpleasant way, just poor I guess. I don't really know any kids like that.

He walks on towards the toilets, pauses for a second and goes inside. My heart's really thumping now. I'm just about to follow him when he reappears. That strikes me as odd. He wasn't in there long enough to have a piss. Maybe he just went in for a drink of water, but somehow I don't think so. So why did he go in? Because he wanted to see who was there? Maybe he was looking for someone like the guy I met the last time, or the one who was eyeing me up earlier on.

He strolls back past my bench, clearly checking me out. I'd like to smile at him or something, but I'm so nervous I can't do it. He walks on. A couple of minutes later he's over by the toilets again. He looks straight at me and goes inside. My heart's pounding like it's about to jump out of my chest. This is it! If I don't take this chance, I'll never do anything!

I get up and stroll across, trying to stop my knees knocking together. I take a deep breath and follow him in. As expected, he's standing at the urinal. He looks around, grinning when he sees me. Somehow the chipped front tooth makes him look even cuter. I stand next to him and open up. I peek across. My eyes almost fall out. He's not much bigger than me, but he's got an absolute beauty, maybe five and half inches long and really thick, the foreskin just covering the tip. Wow!

"Nice cock!" he whispers, looking at mine.

I don't answer. I'm so scared I can't speak.

"Meet me outside, yeah?" he suggests, smiling at me.

I nod my agreement. He zips up and makes his way out. A couple of seconds later I leave too. When I get outside, he's strolling across the grass towards the vacant bench where I'd been sitting. I trail in his wake as though connected to him by an invisible string. He reaches the path, slowing down so that I can catch up.

"You okay?" he asks quietly, walking slowly on.

I nod, not knowing what to say.

"Done this before?" he enquires.

"No," I croak, struggling to get the word out.

"It's okay," he says, giving me a reassuring smile. "I'm safe, yeah? What's your name?"

"Ian," I tell him.

"Hi, I'm Jimmy," he responds, smiling again. "So how old are you?"

"Thirteen," I tell him.

"Yeah, that's about what I reckoned," he says. "At first I thought you were about twelve, but when I saw your cock, I guessed you were probably a bit older."

"So what about you?" I ask. "You've got a beauty!"

"Fourteen," he tells me, giving me a cheeky grin.

It sounds about right. We walk on in silence for a few seconds.

"You got somewhere to go?" he asks.

"Not really," I say. "We could go to mine, but my sister might be there. I don't know what she's doing."

"We can go to mine if you want," he suggests. "It's not far. Mum's down the pub. She won't be back for hours."

"Okay," I say quietly.

We make our way out of the park, turning onto a side street. I've done it now. I can't turn back, not unless I want to make a complete idiot of myself. I'm still excited, of course, but apprehensive at the same time. I just don't know what to expect. Jimmy says he's safe, but is he? I guess I'll soon find out.

We're in an area I've never been to before, slightly scruffy and run down. After another turn and a short walk we're outside a block of flats. It's not badly kept or anything, but it looks bleak and unwelcoming. Jimmy leads the way inside and up two flights of stairs. He unlocks the door of one of the flats and ushers me in. In a strange way, it's just as I expected it to be, clean and tidy, but very plain, with carpets, furniture and everything else well past their best. It's totally different from what I'm used to. He guides me into a bedroom, closing the door behind us.

"Okay then?" he asks, kicking off his trainers.

"Yeah," I breathe, pulling off my shoes and stuffing my socks inside.

He takes off his vest. I pull off my top. He undoes his belt and drops his jeans. To my surprise he's not wearing any underwear. His legs are beautiful, just as I'd imagined them. I get another surprise too. Despite the size of his dick, he's got no hair down there at all. He is gorgeous! I quickly pull off my shorts, dropping them on the floor, leaving me just in my boxer briefs.

"Come here," he urges.

I stand in front of him, allowing him to pull down my boxers. I kick them off. He reaches out, running his fingers along my dick. It feels amazing. I return the favour. That's pretty incredible too.

"Let's get on the bed!" he whispers.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

I climb off the bed, sore, messy and confused.

"Man! That was awesome!" he gasps.

"I need the toilet." I tell him.

"Next door, on the right," he says, looking more than happy with life.

Moving rather awkwardly, I find my way into the bathroom, locking the door behind me. I park myself on the toilet, trying to make sense of what just happened. It all started so well. We did all sorts of things, some I'd thought of, others I hadn't. I loved it. It was like I'd died and gone to heaven. Then Jimmy put the pillow in the middle of the bed and asked me to lie on my tummy. I was having such a fantastic time, I just did it. I had no idea what he was going to do. I didn't even think about it.

The pain was like nothing else. I almost blacked out. I'm not sure if I screamed. I think I must have done. Jimmy told me to be quiet, said I'd be alright. That's when it got confusing. It still hurt really bad, but as he, er . . . , did it, my dick just got harder and harder. It started throbbing against the pillow. Before he'd finished . . . , well, you can guess what happened. That seemed to get him more excited than ever. He was gasping for air, his hot breath swirling around my face. Then he stopped moving.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

After cleaning up as best I can, I head back to the bedroom. Jimmy's already dressed.

"You okay?" he asks, looking a little concerned.

"Yeah," I tell him without really knowing why. I just want to get out of there. Making a fuss would not be a good move. "My bum's a bit sore, but it's okay."

"Sorry," he says. "It always hurts the first time."

"So have you done that before?" I ask, pulling on my clothes.

"Nah," he says, grinning, "never had the chance. I've taken it a few times though; well more than a few actually."

"Really?" I query. "How did that happen?"

"About eighteen months back, mum got sick, couldn't look after me," he explains, "so I had to go into a kids' home, yeah? Well I already knew I liked boys, but I'd never done much. Wanked off with a couple of my mates, that was it. Anyway, one of the older kids came onto me. Went right for it, didn't I? So he took me somewhere quiet. Five minutes later his cock was up my arse. Man! It hurt like hell! I soon got used to it though. I got fucked loads of times after that."

I can't believe he can talk about it so casually. I guess it's the difference between him and me, his world and mine.

"I'd better be going." I say quietly.

He shows me out. I head gingerly downstairs and onto the street. I'm still very sore. I walk slowly back to the town centre, trying to make sense of it all. I'm totally mixed up about the whole thing.

After a five minute wait, I'm on the bus back home, the events of the last hour replaying over and over in my brain. That's when I realise. Even after spending five minutes sitting on the loo, my boxers are sticking to me.