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  2. They had a scientist on the set – he’s the one who wrote out all those complex formulas on the white boards. Apparently his expertise did not extend to rodent biology. Hollywood is known for high-concept, not high intelligence!
  3. drsawzall


    OMF'NG God, Wow, Zoiks and a hearty well done, just when you think you see the path the story will eventually take you go ahead and do this....Magnificent, simply one of the best current serial stories going, many other current authors, including myself, could take lessons from this, a masterpiece of work. To quote a little orphan waif with his empty bowl of porridge, "Please sir...may I have many more chapters?
  4. He also got the ‘I told you so’ snort from Thunder. “No one likes a know it all Thunder.” He laughed.

  5. Isn't that funny when they try to make a show appear smart, and don't even bother to fact-check all that's said?
  6. The Wednesday morning, Eddie woke Henry with a coffee and a smile. ‘You alright?’ Henry asked with a sleepy grin. ‘That was a rough night, Henry. You deserve this.’ ‘Well thanks … can you remember next time that I don’t take sugar?’ ‘What makes you think there’ll be a next time?’ ‘Whatever. Any movement from poor Gavin?’ ‘I’ll go see, and ask him if he wants a drink too.’ ‘You’re excelling yourself, Eddie.’ ‘Maybe you’re transforming me into someone caring and considerate … not!’ He went out with a laugh and came back a few minutes later. ‘Still asleep, but at least there’s not blood leaking out everywhere … urgh, the state of him last night. What an asshole that Wayne guy is. What did he do exactly? I’ve got two gay brothers, and neither of them had this problem, or at least I don’t think they did.’ ‘It’s penetration, Eddie. You can’t just stab someone in the arse and expect your dick to go in, not unless the bottom guy is lubed well, or is pretty much experienced. Even if you get past the anal ring … do you really want to know all this?’ ‘Hell, yeah! I wanna fuck a woman up the ass one day. It’s on my to-do list. Can’t be any different.’ ‘Right. I might have guessed there’d be something decadent behind it. Anyway, once you get inside, the inner wall is dry and not all that flexible, and with some guys it’s a pretty thin membrane anyway. Without lube and a good deal of patience, you can tear some guys. This Wayne apparently rammed himself into Gavin without preparing him in any way and just ripped him up. It must have been appallingly painful for the kid.’ ‘Someone needs to fuck this dude up big time,’ Eddie said, looking truly murderous. ‘He’ll get away with it. Gavin won’t want to talk about it, and what can you say? It wasn’t rape. Gavin wanted so badly to lose his virginity, the poor naïve kid, he just chose the wrong man to do it for him. You have to trust yourself to someone in the end, and he picked a bad one. ‘On an entirely different subject, you’ve got your first lecture at eleven. Don’t you think you’d better get going?’ ‘You’re not serious! You really think I’m gonna go to class?’ ‘Yes, perfectly serious. Check your timetable and you will find that it is Dr Oscott on Myth and Conspiracy in Modern Literature.’ ‘Fuck!’ ‘I see you realise the significance of the name.’ ‘If I don’t show for that one, Andy’ll be down here asking questions and then Dad and ... oh fuck it, I guess I’m shit outta luck.’ ‘On your bike, Eddie. Want to borrow a pen?’ Henry couldn’t restrain a wicked grin as his housemate disappeared in a panic to start turning over his shambles of a room, looking for something he could use to take notes. A few minutes later, Eddie pounded down the stairs and out into Finkle Road. It was a quarter to eleven. Henry showered and dressed, then went up to see Gavin, whom he found awake. ‘Hey, Gavin,’ he said with a smile, ‘how’re you feeling?’ ‘Hey, Henry.’ Gavin looked very vulnerable and confused. ‘Thanks for looking after me last night … you were so kind and the other guy too.’ ‘Eddie.’ ‘Yes … is he American?’ ‘Yes he is, from California.’ ‘Is he gay?’ ‘No. And he should know, too. He has two gay elder brothers, so he’d have noticed the signs. By the way, I’ve put your clothes in to soak, though I don’t give your jeans much of a chance for a full recovery. Gavin, look, you can stay here for a while. This bedroom’s free, and I really don’t mind having you round the house … you look like civilised company, which is in short supply at 25 Finkle Road. Don’t worry about being a nuisance, you’re low maintenance: bed rest and limited solids don’t seem to be much of a problem. Here’s a glass of water and your antibiotics. Be a good boy now, in one gulp and … hey!’ Gavin was crying. Henry could not but do the Henry thing, snuggling up against him on the bed, giving him little kisses on the cheek. He nursed Gavin for a while till the sobs stopped. Henry gave himself a quirky look in the bedroom mirror. This was so different from living with Ed … the idea of comforting him in distress was pretty much inconceivable. But Gavin was a different, very fragile creature, more fragile than Henry, as it seemed. It was a novel thing for Henry to be the strong one, and a bit scary. Gavin gave a wet little sigh. ‘I’m sorry, Henry. I didn’t mean to go all weepy like that. It’s the pain in my bum and the shock and you being so kind, even though you hardly know me.’ ‘Well, we can soon change that. Let’s start the swap of information. I went to Medwardine school.’ ‘The public school? Are your parents rich then?’ ‘No, Dad’s a vicar, and I got in on charity.’ ‘Bet you met lots of rich kids.’ ‘That I did. What about you, Gavin?’ ‘A comprehensive in Gloucester, then sixth-form college. I got the grades to match the Cranwell offer – just – and here I am, the first of my family to get to uni.’ ‘I don’t know your surname, y’know,’ smiled Henry. ‘Oh … it’s Price. Gavin Price, pleased to meet you, Henry …?’ ‘Atwood. What does your dad do?’ ‘He’s in deliveries and distribution, and Mum’s an estate agent. I’ve got two little brothers. How about you?’ ‘One big brother in uni at Manchester. When did you know you were gay, Gavin?’ ‘I dunno. I just seemed to realise it slowly. Quite young I think. I was getting sweet on other boys by the time I was ten.’ He blushed nicely. ‘Seeing them without tops on, and the bums, gave me a continual hard on.’ ‘But you hid it.’ ‘Well yeah … if it had got round the school or the estate where I live, I’d have been dead meat. I’m not that robust, as you might have noticed.’ ‘As a fellow weed, I acknowledge that, Gavin.’ ‘But you were out before you came to Cranwell?’ ‘Yes, and in a relationship with another boy, as I think I said last night. But I ended it. We were going in different directions.’ ‘You love him still, though,’ Gavin observed, taking Henry’s breath away somewhat. Was it that obvious? He paused before replying. ‘Yes, I love him still. He’s quite the man is my Edward. I don’t think you meet two like him in one life. But it had to be done.’ Why did it have to be done? Henry asked himself … remind me now. Ah yes … it was my immaturity, the impending separation, oh yes, and my unfortunate willingness to get in Davey Skipper’s pants on every possible occasion despite knowing better ... and then there was the mistake about getting it on with Justin Peacher-White. Henry sighed. He looked at Gavin and wondered how he could have thought that he had problems with self-esteem. Henry asked, ‘Is there anyone I should tell where you are? You’re in hall, right?’ ‘Yes, I’m in hall: Stenton 12. I talked to a few of the people on my floor, but no one’s what you’d call a friend. I’ve only been there since Saturday. I don’t suppose I’ll be missed.’ ‘Okay, and now the bit I’m nervous about. You need a shower, and we’ve got to take that thing out of your bum and replace it. Tell me you don’t want to crap, please.’ Gavin blushed again. ‘No … I daren’t go to the toilet, Henry. Are you going to help me?’ ‘Yes, if you promise not to enjoy it.’ ‘I don’t want sex again as long as I live,’ Gavin said plaintively ‘Don’t give up on it … it can be good. Take my word.’ *** Gavin was in pain. It was a hard job cleaning him up and changing the tampon-like dressing in his rectum, and messy too. But Henry did it, reassuring Gavin, who was continually apologising and was utterly embarrassed about being naked with a strange – if gay – boy. His embarrassment was not eased by a constant erection as Henry was attending to him. Henry was not so clinical that he didn’t check Gavin out, and was quite impressed by his endowment: dark and heavy balls, rather too hairy for Henry’s taste, and a straight and thick penis. He mischievously commented on this to Gavin, who sputtered and became quite speechless. Henry should have remembered that he was only the second interested person to see what Gavin had between his legs. After getting his guest back to bed and trying unsuccessfully to interest him in some breakfast, Henry retired to his room and fell into a doze. He was awoken by the banging of the front door and male voices in the hall. Eddie was back, with a guest. ‘Get down here, Henry!’ he bellowed. Henry pulled himself together and found Eddie beaming in the hall passage with a tall, older man in glasses. ‘Hey little dude, this is Dr Paul Oscott. He used to live here when he was a student. He wanted to see the old place and meet you too. Your fame has spread.’ Dr Oscott smiled and said hello. ‘I lived here from when I was in the sixth form actually.’ There was a distinct American twang to his voice, although he was plainly English. ‘Matt and Andy took me in when my mad mother threw me out. I was only seventeen. They saved my life and got me into university. I suppose you know the story, Henry.’ ‘Er ... yeah, Matt told me about it when he said you’d taken up a temporary teaching contract at Cranwell. He said you’d come full circle now. Is this your first lecturing job?’ ‘Sure is. Graduated from Georgetown this summer and went straight into the lecture theatre. How’s my barbecue pit out the back doing?’ ‘You built that?’ Henry was impressed. ‘I did. Not only that but the lads and I had some fantastic barbies out there in summer. Great days. And you’re the new Oscott at No 25? It was the clearing up of student sick in the front patch that I hated most, that and the endless supply of litter that blows in from the street. The weeding and gardening I could cope with.’ ‘I’ve got professional help coming for the garden,’ Henry said with a smile. ‘How’s that?’ ‘Justin Peacher-White. He’ll be down tomorrow on an inspection visit. He can sort the plants out when he’s here. He’s the qualified gardener.’ Eddie scoffed, ‘He’s here as a security consultant to keep the newsies away from me He’ll have better things to do, like minding my butt.’ ‘We’ll see,’ smiled Henry. Then he added, a little maliciously, ‘Eddie, how was the lecture?’ Eddie surprised him with a burst of enthusiasm which seemed rather more than polite, and not at all fake. ‘Abso-fucking-lutely fantastic! Paul was amazing. Had the whole room totally into it. They’ll be lined up around the building to get in next week.’ Paul was clearly delighted with the reaction from Eddie. ‘Thanks, I did think it went quite well, but it was from my doctorate so I was all fresh and informed. It was still gratifying. ‘In any case, I have to get along now. The wife and little Mattie will be expecting me for lunch. Bye.’ Henry stared at Eddie. ‘You seriously enjoyed a lecture?’ Eddie looked offended. ‘Dude, I’m not completely brainless. I can be inspired, and Dr Paulie was something else. It was as good as the TV. How’s the feeble little wuss with the pain in the ass?’ ‘Gavin’s not too good. The antibiotics are knocking him out. But there was only a little blood on his dressing this morning, so I guess things are mending deep inside him, poor kid. Can you look after him? I gotta get on campus for my own first lecture this afternoon. Try, please try, to give the proper pills to him at two-thirty. I’ve put them in a cup under the kitchen boiler. Don’t take them yourself, they are not opiates or hallucinogens.’ ‘I’m not into pills, dude, not shit like that anyway. I’ll try and wake up for it.’ With that minimal level of reassurance, Henry grabbed his bag and headed out. *** When Henry got back, it was to discover the pills still in the cup under the boiler, and Eddie flat out and fast asleep on the sofa in the front downstairs room. He sighed. He took the antibiotics up to Gavin, who also was fast asleep, curled up deep inside the duvet. Henry was in a charitable mood. Probably Eddie had gone up to check and found Gavin asleep. Henry shook the boy awake and made him take the pills. He smiled shyly and sleepily up at Henry, and Henry suddenly noticed the warning signs. It was the same cow eyes that he had got from David Skipper in the upper sixth. Gavin had a crush on Henry, and he had sprung a boner too, which the folds of the duvet could not entirely disguise. Oh well, at least the episode with Wayne the Insufferable hadn’t quite put Gavin off sex completely. His libido was still functioning. Henry examined his conscience. Do I fancy Gavin? No, I don’t, he concluded. The boy was weedy, with a thin chest, not the swelling muscles he had got used to with Ed. He had a sour hormonal odour, and his feet smelled a bit too. His teeth were yellow and he had spots. You could clean him up and he might have a certain waif-like charm, if he could lose the glasses, but he was not Henry’s type, so far as Henry understood what his type was. ‘Go back to sleep, Gavin. It’ll help you get better.’ As he sank back into the pillow, Gavin said innocently and dozily, ‘Night, Mum.’ It was a sudden slip that actually brought tears to Henry’s eyes. I may not fancy this fragile boy, but I do feel responsible for him, and I like him too, his conscience told him. How odd is that? *** David Skipper. The positive thing about Henry’s new student life was that he had Davey to share it with, even though Davey was in the Business School and Henry was in the Faculty of Arts. Henry flipped his mobile when he was downstairs. ‘Davey?’ ‘Hey, Henry!’ ‘Where are you?’ ‘On the train, of course. That’s where people always are when they answer mobiles.’ ‘When do you get in?’ ‘We just left Reading. About twenty minutes, I suppose. Wanna meet up at the station? I can take you over and show you my pad.’ ‘Sweet,’ agreed Henry. David had got into a relationship earlier that year with Terry O’Brien, a security executive in his mid-twenties. Terry was a native of Cranwell and not short of money. He had bought a cool service flat in a Cranwell city-centre block, in which David was living and in which the lucky pair rutted continuously whenever Terry could get away from his office in Canary Wharf. There were some grounds to wonder if the relationship would continue to work in the long term. Terry had a tragic history, and David had a certain wilful naïvety about him. How could such a man and such a boy survive as a couple? But David was sensitive, loving and beautiful, while Terry, for all his tragedies, still had deep reserves of kindness and devotion. So far as Henry could see, the relationship was not just holding firm, it was deepening, which pleased him immensely. Davey was a good friend, and Terry he loved and admired to the point of adoration. Henry was waiting at the central station when the Swansea express came in. David hopped off, a leather travelling bag over his shoulder. He turned heads. He was a seriously handsome young man, and he was dressed expensively. Terry was a multi-millionaire and very generous with gifts to his young lover. ‘Walking alongside you, you fashionable git,’ Henry complained, ‘I’m gonna have to do something about my image.’ ‘Henry, I love you, but you have no image. You just wear pale jeans and tees and stuff … stuff in fact you’ve been wearing since I first met you. We need a vision for Henry.’ He smiled. ‘And now’s as good a time as any. To the open market, and that right soon.’ Laughing, they found their way to the city’s Victorian market hall. David assumed the role of fashion guru, making Henry buy a few second-hand suit jackets and some striped scarves. ‘OK … what do you think?’ ‘Hey … very simple, but not bad when you loop the scarves that way. Yeah, stylish but cheap. I like it. It’s the Henry image, at least for now. Stylish and cheap, that’s me.’ ‘Now if we could only do something about your hair … it needs streaks to set off how dark it is, now it’s so much longer.’ ‘Streaks! My mum would faint.’ ‘We’ll try it this weekend. I’ve found a good stylist in Riverside. Reasonable price but talented.’ ‘Your hair does look good, Davey. But you’d look good even if you went bald. I’m not in your class.’ They made their way to the bottom of High Street, where a converted brewery housed some modern service flats. David and Terry’s pad was in the penthouse, which had a splendid view over the city roofs. ‘Oh my God! Split-level. Pine. Stainless steel. Modern art. This is heaven on earth for a student. And you keep it so clean and tidy.’ ‘I’m Terry’s rent boy, it’s my only duty.’ Henry frowned. ‘Don’t say that, Davey, it’s not nice. You and Terry love each other. There’s nothing commercial in your relationship.’ David’s face blanked briefly. ‘But that’s what my mother called me, a rent boy.’ ‘Oh no. Really? God. So coming out was not painless?’ ‘No, Henry. We haven’t all got parents like yours. Dad left the house, just went out, didn’t want to know, and Mum interrogated me about Terry. She decided that he had corrupted me to be his live-in whore in Cranwell, that he was some sort of gay Zvengali destroying her innocent little Davey. Not a good stay. I couldn’t take any more of it this morning. I told them I’d be back when they’d grown up a bit, and not to expect to see me for Christmas.’ Henry sighed. ‘Let’s hope they come to their senses before then. Look, I’ve got to get back to Finkle Road.’ ‘Want to meet up at the Union later and check out guys’ butts like two gays on the loose?’ ‘No. Sorry. Not tonight. I’ve picked up a responsibility.’ Henry explained what had happened. David gave Henry an odd look. ‘Nothing changes does it, Outfield mate … you’re still out to save the world for niceness.’ ‘Don’t be silly, Davey.’ ‘Don’t ever change, Henry. I’ll be round at No 25 with a bottle at half eight. I’d like to see this poor little nerd.’
  7. Great chapter. Im really starting to like Jo. Its great to see Robbie come clean with Jo as now he can begin the healing process and there is no way Alex would be allowed back in the house. I hope Don either had an epiphany - not likely - or Sue puta him out on his Ass.
  8. Today’s chapter brings a very welcome revelation about Tom’s sexuality. Both he and Robbie insisted that he was straight. But his behavior indicated otherwise. I mean he could still identify as straight if he wanted to, but his joyful participation indicates he’s definitely not a Kinsey Zero. Even if he’s only ‘Gay for Robbie,’ that means he’s not at the extreme end of the scale (just as Robbie’s ability to perform with Fran indicated that he’s not a Six). ;–)
  9. Looking forward to a week on Crete. Sun and sea! Will be nice! 

    1. Valkyrie


      Have a great time! 

  10. I'm delighted that Robbie is opening up to Jo, and that seeing her is making him feel better. I hope he does tell Don what Jo said about Symmonds. (I'll have to back and check the exact wording.) At least Nathan made an effort, and I guess he does care a bit about Robbie.
  11. Jo managed to get all of Robbie’s major secrets out! She’s amazingly good. I would have expected Robbie to drag this process out for closer to a year. But maybe that’s just me and my stubborn reluctance to expose myself to a therapist… ;–) I wonder how long before Robbie’s little prank question about buying a gun produces an uncomfortable response from the authorities? In the US, that sort of question might prompt a police investigation, complete with a search warrant! Donnie-boy would love having his reputation smirched by a police raid on his house. ;–)
  12. The Fly

    IOI Chapter 1

    Nice start to the story And glad that I finally found the missing link.
  13. I'm imagining Cupid chuckling at how perfectly his arrow hit Hymen the moment the youngster saw Kathros. Hopefully, his mother Aphrodite will look upon his prayer with favor. At least his best friend did try to help out with what he knew about the girl.
  14. In Houston right now. The traffic is intense.

  15. I can understand Max's (and Aeriol's) reaction to hearing the news of the deaths of the two German boys. I can remember a feeling of sadness the first time someone I knew died (or at least someone too young to be expected to die). In my case I was only about twelve years old, and it was a boy the same age as me who had been run down by a car, and who had been my next door neighbour before we had moved house a few years earlier. I think it was the first time in my life that I learned to accept my own mortality. Nate is still a bit of an enigma to me. But the fact that it seems that he deliberately called round to see Max as soon as he got back off holiday feels like a good sign. I'll be interested to find out what it is that Nate said he wanted to talk to Max about... I'm almost sad to learn that Geoffrey is intending to move to Brazil and live there almost permanently. Seems like Max may be losing his confidant. And I'm looking forward to reading what happens at Jules' house party... Great chapter, and great story, @Talo Segura!
  16. One problem is gone, the next problem arrived with Don being home. I hope Don let Robbie see Jo. A good chapter Dodger i hope the next chapter will be here soon.
  17. According to The Big Bang Theory, incorrectly as it turns out, rabbit testicles are located above the penis. Sheldon Cooper’s pedantic urges did not extend to correctly pronouncing Japanese names. He was also wrong when he stated that four state capitals are not served by the US Interstate system. His writers did not fact-check all of his statements.
  18. Sorcerer

    Chapter 27

    It is very nice to see a side of Jamie he doesn't readily let out. That he cares, not just for Eli, but his sisters, dad, and friends. That's real for him. Finally picked up that the story is named for Eli, not Jamie. Velocity is Eli, and he is really the handle around which everything else revolves, even if told from Jamie's point of view. Nice work.
  19. Today
  20. 😎…..……….And just like a bad recurring dream, Don is back. Lets see how he has changed in the absence,,,, or not! Rob is getting great counseling, I hope Jo takes a stab at Don soon! Great chapter!
  21. The following song came to my mind when part of my reply to a reader's question about one of the characters in one of my GA stories finished with the words "Sometimes some of the questions we may ask in life just never get answered." The story of mine that I was commenting on is The Charmed Life of Danny Murphy:
  22. Oh hot damn! The asshole showed up. But now I want the next chapter! This willdefinetely be worth the wait!!
  23. Thank you, Rick. I think that's the greatest praise a fanfic writer can get. I'm so glad you enjoyed enough to leave a comment.
  24. I can remember reading Sky's the Limit shortly after joining GA, at a time when I rarely left likes or comment. It was good to revisit this great story. I'd love to read the sequel mentioned in the last chapter.
  25. The first snowfall of the winter dumped over a foot of the crisp, white stuff in a vast swathe across Southern Ontario. The power was back on, and the house was warm, but I was in no hurry to drag myself out of a comfortable bed. With Daniel still asleep on the other side of the room, this would have been prime wanking time for any normal sixteen-year-old, but not me. The sudden loss of my sexual appetite had left me with a shocking amount of free time on my hands. More time than I needed for all of my other hobbies combined and it made me think. I was busy doing the math, trying to work out how many hours had been lost to self-gratification over the years when I was interrupted by Sue’s shrill voice calling me to the phone. I leapt from my bed and ran upstairs to the kitchen in a panic, wearing only a pair of boxer briefs. “It’s Jo,” said Sue as she handed me the phone at arm’s length and looked disapprovingly at my flimsy attire. Amy thought it was funny, so I poked my tongue at her and smiled bashfully at Sue before turning my back on them. Just as Daniel predicted, the buses had been cancelled, and there was no school, but my appointment with Jo would go ahead as planned. She called to ask if she could pick me up at one. “I think that’ll be okay,” I looked across the kitchen at Sue, and she nodded before I could ask. “Yeah, I’ll be ready at one o’clock.” I put the phone down and then winced as Nicola slapped my back on her way past. She laughed as I looked for something to throw at her, but Sue was watching. “Did you see what she just did?” “Well, maybe you should put some clothes on then, dear?” “I didn’t have time to get dressed. I was still in bed when you called me!” “Why didn’t she just call you on your cell phone?” asked Nicola. “How do I know?” I glared at my sister and then spun around in a huff, jarring my funny bone on the counter. “FUCK! Look what you made me do.” I was hoping for some sympathy as I dropped to my knees, holding my elbow, but all they did was laugh at my melodramatic performance. It was an all too familiar scenario. The more annoyed I became, the more they would laugh at me, but this time, I managed to surprise everyone, including me by joining in with a little giggle at my own expense. Controlling my temper wasn’t easy, but I enjoyed the response. Even Nicola was lost for words as I picked myself up, rubbed my arm and walked to the stairs with a wink and a suggestive slap on my butt. It made them laugh, but six months earlier, I would have died of embarrassment. It was one of the positive things that had come from living with a family, which I rarely gave any thought to. I had no reason any more to feel self-conscious about my body. I returned half-an-hour later dressed for the artic and sat down next to Nicola. “You're all, or nothing aren’t you?” she said, and I removed my ski mask and put it on Amy. “I didn’t realise your counsellor was a woman,” said Sue. “She sounds really nice.” I knew then why Jo called the house phone. There was a logical reason behind everything she did, and on this occasion, it allowed her to talk to Sue and gather a little more information. I shared a look with my sister; she knew what I was thinking. “She is nice,” I said. “You’ll probably get a chance to meet her this afternoon.” ‘This is going to be funny’. I couldn’t wait to see Sue’s face when Jo showed up, but it wasn’t to be. By lunchtime, she was back in her room with another headache, and I was outside helping my brother clear the driveway. * * * “She needs to see a doctor,” said Daniel as he pushed another shovel of snow against the fence and stopped to catch his breath. His rosy cheeks made him look healthy and vibrant, and despite a runny nose, unusually clean. He wiped the snot on his sleeve and breathed into my face. “Are you even listening to me?” “Yes, but she works at the hospital, there are plenty of doctors there.” “I know, but she probably won't say anything to anyone.” Sue’s bedroom was directly above the garage so I edged closer to him so we couldn’t be overheard. Close enough to smell the toothpaste on his frozen breath. “What do you think her problem is?” I already had my answer, it wasn’t difficult to work out, but I wanted to hear it from Daniel. “Dad!” It wasn’t exactly news to me. I had been picking up on it for months. The gradual appearance of cracks in the hitherto smooth walls of Don’s supposedly flawless castle. It didn’t surprise me. Sue’s attempts to hide her marital problems from her offspring were ineffective, and Daniel and Nicola were too old to be fooled anymore. Don’s continued absence and his attempts to force his outdated values on a family unwilling to live in the stone age had only fuelled dissent. Now Daniel—his only probable ally at home—had, unsurprisingly, joined Nicola in the ranks of the opposition and Don’s fate was sealed. His heavy-handed approach and stubborn refusal to listen to anyone with a different opinion made him dislikeable, but until recently he still commanded respect within the family. It was a tenuous position which relied heavily on Sue’s compliance, and that was no longer guaranteed. It looked as if I might not need Jo’s help to get rid of Don. He was doing a pretty good job of it himself. As his influence began to wane and the threat level diminished, I found it increasingly difficult to hate him. There was a time when I wouldn’t have pissed on him if he was on fire, but he was still my mom’s brother, and that had to count for something. I yelled and dropped my shovel as Daniel pretended to whisper in my ear, before grabbing my coat and forcing a handful of snow down the back of my neck. The ice, lodged between thermal clothing and warm skin, quickly began to melt sending cold steams down my back as I chased him with everything I had. He escaped, and it was probably for the best. Almost a year after our initial, quite even skirmishes, Daniel had grown in every department while I was pretty much the same. I put it down to my accident and the handful of days spent hospitalised in a coma, but it was probably more to do with the fact that he regularly worked out, ate better, and played a lot more sport than me. My once admired body—the result of a youth spent in the swimming pool keeping pace with my mom—was now in steep decline. Since her death, the only physical activity I willfully indulged in was the occasional bout of naked wrestling, usually performed in bed with various partners. For a while, Nathan’s stringent and often depraved work ethic was the only exercise I got, but our breakup and the painful episode with Alex had turned me into a couch potato and easy prey for my younger brother. He teased me as I struggled to keep pace while chasing him around the house. It was becoming embarrassing, and I was in danger of being lapped so I stopped and resorted to a long-distance snowball fight instead. Anything to avoid the possibility of hand to hand combat with a sibling who I was certain would easily beat me. Before Alex, the prospect of being held down against my will in the snow by a well-toned and highly excitable teenage boy would have been enough for me to take a dive, but not anymore. Even the sight of him parading naked around the bedroom as we changed from our wet clothes did nothing for a very under-nourished looking penis. I was convinced it was shrinking and tried to hide it from my brother and certain ridicule. Once again, I was worrying over nothing. Daniel wasn’t interested in my genitals, preferring instead to feast his young eyes on a heavily pixelated photo of Pamela Anderson. A giant poster of the curvy Baywatch actress with oversized jugs had recently appeared above his bed and served only one purpose. I was surprised Sue didn’t object to the display of such blatant wanking material, but I suppose she had more to worry about than her son’s rather odd masturbatory habits. * * * At precisely two o’clock, Jo’s car pulled onto our driveway. I was already waiting outside with Nicola, who wanted to see my cool counsellor for herself. She sent me on my way with a wet kiss on the cheek which I wiped off with my glove before slipping on the icy driveway and falling on my backside. Nicola thought it was hilarious and couldn’t stop laughing as I picked myself up and walked tentatively to the car. I sat down sore, flustered, and bulging from several layers of bulky clothing. “Is that your sister?” “Yeah, that’s Nicola.” “You two seem quite close.” “Sometimes,” I said as I returned my sisters wave with a one-fingered gesture of my own. “Not always, though. We used to fight a lot.” “Any reason for that?” “She was a bitch…. Sorry.” “Don’t be, that’s what I want. Raw emotion is good. I don’t care what words you use as long as it describes how you feel.” I noticed that our session had started a little earlier than scheduled, Jo was already firing questions at me, and we hadn't even left the driveway. “Well, she was a bitch, but she changed after my accident, and when I came out, she got very protective.” “Isn’t she the one who dragged you away from the edge of the pier?” “Yeah, that’s her.” “Don’t knock it, kid, you're lucky to have a sister who really cares about you. It’s not always the case these days.” “I do love her. I just don’t want her to know, that’s all.” Jo laughed. “I’m only kidding. She knows stuff about me. I wouldn’t tell anyone else.” “Do you think you’d be able to tell me those things?” “I dunno, maybe.” “That’s a start. Maybe, is okay. I have to earn your trust. Tell me more about Nicola.” “What do you wanna know? She’s my sister, but she used to be my cousin. She’s a bit like you in a way, but bossier. If she has a problem with me, she’ll come straight out and tell me or shout at me. She speaks her mind, so I know where I stand with her.” “That’s good. Most boys don’t like bossy older sisters.” “I don’t mind. I kinda like her telling me what to do.” I paused for a while to stare out the window. “Don’t ask me why, though.” “Why?” I smirked as I turned to face her. “I don’t know why. It’s just easier, I guess. Fran was like that too.” “Who’s Fran?” “She’s my ex-girlfriend.” “I thought you were gay.” “I am, but it wasn’t always that way. I had a girlfriend for a while, but it didn’t work out.” “Are you bi-sexual?” “No, I just like guys. I know that now for sure. Fran can be quite sexy, though.” Jo looked for a second as if she was going to laugh. “Robbie, it’s possible you may be bi-sexual.” “No, absolutely not. I don’t like girl parts. Especially the bit down there.” I pointed to my crotch as Jo laughed. “Girl parts, what are they? Come on, Robbie, you can do better than that. You don’t have to be shy around me, it’s not rude to talk about sex. I’m guessing you mean vagina, but for future reference, I don’t wanna have to guess at what you mean. Just say it; I won't be offended.” “Okay. VAGINAS don’t turn me on. Is that better?” “Much, but you don’t have to shout.” “Yeah, well, I don’t know how guys can get so close. You know, with their tongues and stuff.” I glanced at Joe to be sure we were on the same page before continuing. “Fran made me do it once. I felt guilty because she always did stuff to me.” “That’s fair,” she said. “Not for me it wasn’t, I was almost sick. I gave her an orgasm, though.” It was something I was particularly proud of, but Fran never had a problem getting off. “Well, that was nice of you. Not many gay guys would do that for their girlfriend.” I was sure she was laughing at me, so I switched to a topic I was more comfortable with and tried to embarrass her. “I’m good at blowjobs. I used to do Nathan all the time, and he loved it. Sometimes I let him squirt in my face.” My cheeks were burning, and I could no longer look her in the eye, but Jo was unfazed. “I’m impressed,” she said. “So what else did this Nathan boy like doing to you?” “Don’t you ever get embarrassed?” “No, I already told you that. I know what you're doing, Robbie, but it isn’t gonna work with me. I told you, I wanna know everything about you.” “Everything?” “Uh-huh.” “Even stuff nobody knows?” “Especially stuff nobody knows.” I was sure she was referring to the marks on my neck. There was no way she was going to simply forget about that. I shifted a little uneasily in my seat and tried unsuccessfully to change the subject. “Is it gonna snow again today?” “No. So do you think you were attracted to Fran because of her personality rather than her sex?” “How do you mean?” “You told me she was like your sister, maybe you need people like that in your life, people to tell you what to do?” “Maybe.” I stared at her as we turned onto Main Street. “Maybe I’m trying to replace my mom.” Jo glanced at me and smiled. “That’s quite a good assessment. Are you after my job?” “I wouldn’t be able to do your job. I couldn’t listen to other people’s problems all day, or try to help people who are just losers.” “Is that how you see yourself, Robbie, as a loser?” “I’m sixteen years old and having counselling. You tell me.” “Does that make you a loser?” “It certainly doesn't make me a winner.” “It all depends on your definition of winners and losers. You’ve been affected by a lot of things that are outside of your control. It’s not your fault you lost your mom or what happened to your dad. You can’t judge yourself on their lives.” “Then I’m just unlucky, is that it?” I moaned and stared out of the window. There was a teenage girl in the back of the car next to us at the traffic lights. She glanced at me and smiled. I didn’t recognise her from school, but there was no guarantee that she didn’t know me. I smiled back at her as Jo turned her head to see the reason for my sudden distraction. “Are you sure you don’t swing both ways?” “I’m pretty certain which way I swing,” I said. “But it doesn't mean I can’t appreciate beauty in the opposite sex, and she did have a cute smile.” “You're a tease.” “I don’t mean to be. Girl’s just seem to like me, that’s all.” “Oh, you poor thing. It must be hell for you being chased by girls all the time. When all you want is a cute guy.” “Yeah, something like that.” I smiled at her and turned towards the window again. “So why Fran? Other than her personality, what did she have that you couldn’t resist?” “An older brother!” I had a smug grin on my face as Jo drove into the empty school parking lot. There was a time when I would have vehemently denied being gay, but not anymore, and it made me feel good. Now I felt embarrassed by the fact that I was once so messed up that I dated a girl, had sex with her, and even put my face in a place where no gay man should ever venture. It set the tone for the rest of our session, and over the next hour, we talked candidly about sex and relationships. I told her about Tom and my first, somewhat uneasy introduction to adult fun. “It wasn’t real sex, we just thought it was. We didn’t really know what we were doing. But I know now it was wrong.” “Why was it wrong, Robbie?” “Because my mom was dying at the time and all I could think of was…. Getting off with my best friend. She didn’t even know I was gay. I didn’t get around to telling her.” They were bittersweet memories from a period of my life I wanted to forget. It was a shame that my first taste of sex would be forever tainted by my mother’s death, but the two events were indelibly linked in my head and impossible to separate. I regretted not having the patience to wait for a more suitable time and felt guilty for putting pressure on Tom to do something I was convinced he didn’t want to do. I always believed he did it mostly because he wanted to make me feel better. Jo didn’t necessarily agree with my synopsis, especially about Tom, but it gave her further insight into my life and another piece of the puzzle. “It must have been tough on you both when you had to leave.” “Kind of.” “Do you keep in contact?” “We try. He came to visit me in the summer for my adoption. It was really cool having him here. It felt strange, but he hadn’t changed at all, not a bit.” “It sounds like you still think a lot of him, maybe you should make more of an effort to stay in touch. Even if it’s just as friends.” “Yeah, I do miss him. We had a lot of fun. I mean before we started misbehaving. Although we had fun doing that too. He was a good friend.” “I have a problem with a couple of things,” she said. “First I wanna know why you think you were misbehaving and second, if Tom is straight, then I’m a virgin. I’m sorry kid, I’m sure he’s a wonderful person, but it doesn’t matter how much he cares, there are limits. A straight guy will give you a hug, and if you ask him, he’ll probably hold your hand. He may even give you a gentle massage to make you feel better, but he ain’t gonna let you put your dick in his mouth.” Jo had a way with words; she tried not to over-complicate things, and this was a good example. “So you think he wanted it just as much as I did?” Once again, Jo allowed me to draw my own conclusions with some helpful advice. “Sometimes the answer is right in front of you, but you ignore it because you're looking for something more complicated. It’s what everybody does. Most of our problems are relatively easy to diagnose and even easier to solve. Don’t look for complex answers to simple questions. I’ve never met Tom, but I know for a fact he’s not straight.” I laughed, mostly because it was what I wanted to hear. Even if it was unlikely I would ever see Tom again in the flesh. * * * The ninth of December had a special significance for me, but the first anniversary of my mother’s death was just a normal Thursday for everyone else. Nicola was particularly nice to me that day at school and Rory too, but I was Nathan who provided the biggest surprise. I found a note from him tucked in my locker. It was a simple message, just five words. ‘Thinking of you today. N’. I wasn’t sure how he knew or why he felt compelled to leave me a note, but it played on my mind all morning. I analysed it in detail, trying to work out his motive before remembering Jo’s advice to look for the simple answer. ‘Maybe he's just being nice’. The least I could do was thank him for it, so I waited outside the cafeteria after lunch and made him jump with a tap on his shoulder. “Robbie, you scared the hell outta me.” I laughed at him, and it seemed to put us both at ease. “I got your note and wanted to say thank you. I wasn’t expecting you to….” “I just wanted to know you were okay, that’s all. I know it’s a big day for you.” “Yeah, it is. But I’m fine.” He didn’t look convinced as he turned to look at Ginny. “I heard you were back in the hospital.” “Yeah. I’m okay now, though. They can’t find anything wrong with me. Maybe a few screws loose up here.” I laughed, but Nathan’s smile was fleeting and false. “You're having counselling, why?” “You heard about that, huh? It’s nothing serious. Just someone from the school.” “You're okay, though?” “Yes, why do you ask?” He stopped and faced me in the corridor. “Because I’m worried about you, that’s why. I still care, you know. That’s not gonna change because we’re not together anymore.” He sounded genuine, and it made me feel bad. “I just heard something, and I got worried. But I guess it was only gossip.” “What did you hear?” “Nothing bad, I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you.” ‘What are they saying about me’? He must have known I would follow him around the school for the rest of the day if he didn’t tell me. “You're gonna worry about it, aren’t you?” “I already am,” I said and he laughed. “Okay, well, there are rumours you tried to kill yourself, but I can see that’s not true, so who gives a fuck.” He turned to smile at Ginny, who hadn’t taken her eyes off me. “Yeah, who gives a fuck,” I said as they walked away. “I gotta go, Robbie. It was nice talking to again. Maybe we can meet up for a chat sometime. Oh, I heard you were seeing somebody, a guy from Port Hope. Good for you. Any news on Alex?” I shrugged, and Nathan smiled before disappearing into the melee of students gathered in the corridor. ‘Everyone thinks I’m a nutcase. They think I’m suicidal’. I tested my theory on David at the start of our English lesson. “How old do you have to be to buy a gun over here?” “What did you just say?” “I wanna buy a gun.” “What for?” “Hunting.” “You're crazy.” “Maybe.” Throughout the lesson, he kept turning his head to look at me as if trying to work out if I was serious or not. Nathan was right, everyone believed the gossip. I was hot news again, beaten only by my ex-lodger and abuser. * * * It was almost a week since Alex left our house to take Luke to the park, and there was still no news from my friend or his troublesome brother, but plenty of gossip. Rumours were circulating that he was the father of at least one teenage pregnancy at the school. Others claimed he had been surreptitiously moved on to avoid embarrassment after an affair with a married teacher. There were a lot of people who believed these stories, but to me, it was proof of how little they knew about him, and how well he had managed to disguise himself. In this case, I was sure that if or when the truth emerged, it would be less believable than most of the gossip. Despite constant questions from interested parties, I had no idea where Alex was, but I had a feeling he was okay. He would manage to land on his feet somehow, although I thought it unlikely that he was still in Cobourg. His future to some degree rested with me and how well I was going to be able to resist Jo’s attempts to work out what really happened. After school that day, I met her in the usual room for our third session in four days. She was aware of the anniversary and mentioned it at the beginning, but other than that Jo steered the conversation well clear of a topic which had been filling my head all day. “Do you celebrate Christmas, Robbie?” “Yes.” “And your family, are they Christian?” “I think, but only Don’s religious. He goes to the same church as Mr Symmonds.” “Yeah, I know about Don, but what about the rest of the family, what are your plans for the holidays?” “I think Sue’s brother and sister are coming to stay for a while.” “That’ll be nice.” My response was less than enthusiastic, and Jo scribbled something on her clipboard. “What about your boyfriend, you’ll be seeing him at Christmas surely?” “I don’t have a boyfriend.” “Maybe I got it wrong. I thought his name was….” She quickly leafed through a pile of notes looking at random scribbles written in different inks. It was all gibberish to me, yet somehow from that indecipherable mess, she managed to pull out a name which surprised me. “Conner,” she said triumphantly. “So who’s Conner?” ‘Who told her about him’? “He’s a friend?” “From school?” “No, he doesn’t live in Cobourg.” “Is he cute?” “What?” “Come on, I know there’s more to it than that. How long have you been seeing him?” “A couple of months, on and off. Where do you get your information?” “It doesn’t matter. How’s it going with you two?” I hesitated, deliberately slowing things down in an attempt to work out her angle, although I knew where it was heading. “Okay.” “Just okay? Are you having sex with him?” “No!” “Why? Don’t you like him?” “Yes.” “Does he turn you on?” “I suppose.” “Hmm. Does he have a penis?” “I hope so. What kind of question is that?” “I’m just wondering why you guys haven’t hooked up yet. I know you like sex, and it’s not like you're shy or anything. I’m sure Conner would appreciate your expertise.” “I didn’t say I was an expert and it doesn’t mean I have to do it with every guy I meet. I might wanna take things easy.” “I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t. It’s always better to take your time, but it’s not what you normally do. What does Conner think?” “I don’t know; we don’t really discuss things like that.” “What do you talk about?” “I don’t see him that much, he lives quite away from me. He wants to get closer, you know, sex and stuff, but I don’t think I’m ready.” “Okay, I understand. I’m just confused. I wanna know what happened to turn you off sex. You weren’t like that with Nathan or Tom, or even Fran for that matter. Who else have you been with, Robbie?” “No one.” “Are you sure?” “Positive!” “It’s okay sweetie, relax. You’ll tell me when you're ready.” I was ready. It was clear she wasn’t going to let this go. All I was doing was postponing it and prolonging the agony. “Alex,” I mumbled. Jo’s expression never changed as she pulled a piece of paper from her bag and sat on the desk to face me. “Do you wanna tell me what happened with Alex?” It didn’t take long to explain and unlike with Nicola, this time I left nothing out. I told her exactly what happened in plain and simple words. “It wasn’t what he did. It was the way he did it. He was angry and violent. He really hurt me. I thought I was gonna die. I was terrified, and I still can’t get it out of my mind. I can’t even think about sex without it coming back. It’s in my head all the time.” Jo reached out and touched my knee; then leaned forward to look me in the eye. She was much closer than usual, and I thought for a moment she was going to kiss me. “I’m glad you told me. I was pretty sure it was something like that. Now I know, we can start to make things better. I understand what you're going through.” “No, you don’t.” “Yes. I do.” “You can’t.” “I can. Believe me. You’d be surprised how big a problem it is, and it doesn’t matter what sex you are. Most of the teenagers I see are victims of some kind of sexual abuse.” “But I don’t wanna be a victim.” “There’s no shame in being a victim, Robbie. You didn’t choose it. You're not to blame. That’s the first thing you need to understand. It doesn’t matter how much you think you asked for it. It wasn’t your fault!” It would be a while before I could think the same way. I knew how much I used to tease him, and it wasn’t as if we hadn’t done stuff previously. “He probably thought it was gonna be the same,” I said. “When you fooled around in the past, did you have sex?” “Yes, but only once.” “He penetrated you?” She made it sound so clinical, and I pulled a face before replying. “Yes.” “Consensual?” “Huh?” “You agreed. He didn’t force you to do it.” “No, he didn’t actually force me, but….” “He pressured you?” “Yeah, he pressured me. I didn’t really want to, but he talked me into it. We took some drugs too.” Her ears pricked up at the mention of drugs. “What kind of drugs?” “I can’t remember what they were, but they were pills, he got them from his brother.” “How did they make you feel?” “Good, for a while. Then my heart started racing, I was scared, but he made me feel okay.” “Did this drug increase your sexual appetite.” “It made me horny for a while if that’s what you mean.” I smiled and blushed, but she remained stony-faced. “Was that the reason why you agreed to have sex with him?” “Probably.” “And you didn’t do it again.” “Not with him, no. He’s kinda…. I’m not sure how to say this without sounding rude.” “Robbie, it’s not rude, and you don’t need to feel embarrassed. You can use whatever words you want.” “Right. Well, Alex is bigger than most guys.” Jo nodded. “Okay, so he has a big penis, which was probably a little uncomfortable for you.” “No, it fucking hurt like hell. For a week.” She smiled at my terminology. “Sorry, you told me I could use whatever words I wanted.” “You needed to tell this guy to take a hike, what were you doing inviting him into your home?” “I felt sorry for him, and I still do.” “He hasn’t touched you since the last incident, though.” “No. But only because of Nicola, I think she’s the reason he ran away.” “Okay. Can you jerk off?” “What, now?” “No! not now, dummy. I mean are you able to do it at home, on your own. Geez, you’ll lose me my job.” I laughed at my own stupidity. “No, not since that day.” “That’s okay, it’s perfectly normal under the circumstances. Do you get erections?” She put her hand up. “There’s no need to show me.” “No. And I wasn’t going to.” I smiled at her joke but kept my head bowed. It was something I hated having to admit. “You don’t have to be embarrassed. There’s nothing wrong with you that can’t be put right. You’ve had a traumatic experience. What Alex did to you was worse than you're prepared to admit even to yourself.” “He’s gonna be in trouble now, isn’t he?” “He was already in trouble. You can’t worry about him, sweetie. Focus on yourself. You're the one I’m worried about.” * * * It was dark when Jo dropped me home. The snow had gone, washed away by torrential downpours of rain, but Cobourg was beginning to look very festive. It seemed as if every house except ours had some kind of Christmas display. Some of them were tacky, others quite beautiful, but something was going on everywhere I looked. “Wait until it snows again,” said Jo. “This town looks pretty at Christmas.” “I’ve never seen a white Christmas before.” “Well, you will this year. It always snows before the holidays.” I waved goodbye to Jo and ran indoors to ask Sue if I could put some lights at the weekend. She was on her own in the kitchen, but I could hear Daniel and Amy in the basement. “I don’t see why not,” she said. “There are some decorations in the garage.” “Jo wants to see me again tomorrow.” “Okay, dear.” “Maybe you can meet her if she has time.” “We’ll see.” I was disappointed with Sue. I was expecting her to show a little more interest in the counsellor who she went out of her way to persuade me to visit. She was strangely subdued, and I wondered if she was still feeling ill. “I like Jo, she really nice and she makes me feel a lot better.” “That’s nice dear. Go get changed.” “She’s more than just a counsellor, you know. She works for the government or something and has special powers.” “Okay, Robbie. Perhaps we can talk about it after dinner.” I shrugged my shoulders baffled by her indifference, but it was going to take more than that to knock a hole in my good mood. “You’ll never guess what she said about Symmonds?” I had a big smile on my face as I spun around and walked straight into Don. “No,” he said. “But I’m sure you won't mind telling me.”
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