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Mike Arram

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About Mike Arram

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  1. Mike Arram

    Chapter 35

    LOL. Don’t think Terre Nouvelle had dogs, more’s the pity. But I know what you mean.
  2. Mike Arram

    Chapter 4

    Yes it has, on AD and CRV. This is a somewhat revised version
  3. In the morning, Justin found breakfast on the stern promenade. The choice of dishes offered was too much for a guy who only wanted a bowl of Cheerios. It took him a while to find something that looked like them amongst the gleaming steel and silver heaters, masses of platters and myriads of jugs laid out on the white-draped tables. In the end a smiling steward gave him a hand. He decided a cup of coffee would help get his day going, especially if he shovelled in the sugar for an extra buzz. Two of the Yale boys appeared and sat across from him. He was friendly toward them but answered their enquiries noncommittally, being far more interested in the twinkling blue sea, where early-morning jet skiers and paragliders were already out. The waves had got a little stronger overnight, with white foam appearing at the foot of the low cliffs he could see up the coast from Basseterre. There was also a slight motion in the deck under him. When the Yale boys announced they were going scuba diving with Tim and Peter on Black Coral Reef, they neglected to ask him if he would be joining them. In the circumstances, he was not bothered by the omission. Justin had to decide how to spend his own day. Loafing round the small city seemed like a plan if he could find who to ask to get him on shore. He knocked on Andy and Matt’s cabin door. ‘You asking for permission?’ Andy attempted with little success to hide his amusement. ‘Nah … well, whatever.’ ‘That’s a first, Justy. Use your cabin phone to ring the bridge. They’ll sort a boat for you. Oh, and tell them when and where you want to be picked up too, or it’s a big fuss signalling from the harbour master’s office. You’ve got a watch, haven’t you? Money? No? Matt, give him some dollars. Oh … and don’t spend it all on cigarettes, though they are a lot cheaper here.’ When Justin reached the gangway, the yacht's tender was waiting for him with a crew of respectful but smiling Filipinos. He sat at the back and clutched his favourite straw hat as they shot away towards the harbour. The big catamaran ferry from Nevis was arriving just then, and as they swept past its towering metal walls, he looked up and waved to the grinning faces peering down. After dropping him off on the quay, the tender roared off on its return trip to the yacht, lying white, sleek and handsome beyond the bay. He made his way into the city through an impressive arched building. Staring at the crowds of tourists and locals, he decided that, apart from the sun and the deep blue sky, there was something strangely resonant of his native London in the racial mix. The low houses and bars had verandas, and he eventually took a seat outside a relaxed-looking drinking hole, where he ordered a coke from a smiling waiter. He watched people go by, suddenly aware that he had no idea what he wanted to do or where he might go. His preferred style in life had always been just to turn up anywhere and let things happen. Then he noticed a guy at the next table – about Matt’s age, British, with a cheerful face – staring at him. The guy caught his eye. ‘You from North London, mate? I twigged the accent.’ ‘Yeah,’ Justin confirmed. ‘You too?’ ‘Southgate. I like the hat.’ ‘Iss been a hit on the boat.’ ‘Oh. You’re on a liner? Didn’t know the QM2 was at Port Zante this week.’ ‘Nah … it’s that boat out there … the white one.’ ‘Wow! Isn’t that the Peacher yacht that anchored last week? Are you a Peacher kid? Thought they were all Yanks.’ ‘Well, no … iss a long story.’ ‘Do you know Andy Peacher and Matt White?’ ‘You gay then?’ ‘What, me? Nah. But you read about them in the celebrity rags.’ Justin’s natural evasiveness, cultivated in many police interview rooms, kicked in. ‘You here on holiday, mate?’ ‘Yeah, but with a bit of business too. I’m a photographer part time. I sell a few of me pics. Here … this is some of me work.’ From a backpack under the table he pulled a portfolio containing a number of pretty impressive scenic shots, as well as some beach-model photos, male and female. ‘Neat,’ Justin complimented him. ‘If you doan’ mind, I could take one or two of you. You got a spare half hour? No charge … but no fee either.’ ‘What would you use ’em for?’ ‘I sell ’em on to catalogues and brochures for wallpaper shots. Pretty people with camera faces ain’t as common as you might think. Not every looker takes a good picture, but there’s something about you, kid. You might well do.’ ‘I keeps me clothes on though.’ ‘Sure … I’m not that sort of photographer.’ ‘Also, you gotta send me copies.’ ‘Done.’ They exchanged names. His was Declan, he said, Irish on his mother’s side. He talked a lot on the road to the beach. Eventually he pushed a bit. ‘You din’t say why you were on the Peacher yacht.’ ‘Din’t I? Me mum’s the younger kids’ nanny, so I got taken along for the ride. Neat innit? Freeloadin’ in the Caribbean while me mates are swimming in Camden Lock to keep cool.’ Declan laughed. ‘So do you get to see any of the first-class passengers?’ ‘Only from a distance, like. I stays down in the crew cabins, but we got access to the pool and gym sometimes, when the ship’s empty of guests, and they let me come ashore too when I wants.’ Justin’s criminal mind had been ticking over, but now it went into gear. He suspected this guy. He added slowly, ‘Mind you, that Andy Peacher’s an arrogant little bastard.’ ‘Oh … why do you say that?’ ‘Ee found me at the pool side at a permitted time. Said he din’t like it, no matter the hour. Then he had me told off by the first officer and confined below decks. When me mum complained that I din’t do anyfing wrong, he was real rude to her and said that kids’ nannies were two a penny. She’s thinkin’ of telling them where to shove the job. The crew reckon he’s a total shit. Poncing round like a little queen and touchin’ up the younger hands. There’s one of ’em goin’ after ’is dad for sexual harrassment.’ ‘An’ he’s not interested in a nice-looking kid like you?’ ‘Doan’ know about that … ’ee had a hardon when ’ee saw me in me cossie. An ’ee got pissed off wiv me at the pool when I wouldn’t go wiv ’im to ’is cabin.’ ‘Christ, what a predator. You can’t be of legal age yet.’ ‘Nah … not quite fifteen, though I’m big for me age like.’ Declan, intrigued, in the meantime had found the wharf he wanted to use, and very professionally choreographed Justin in some poses on the old timbers down by the water. Whatever else he might have been, he was a genuine photographer. Telling Justin to lose the hat and deck shoes and open his shirt, he took more pictures with a beach background of a pensive boy gazing moodily out to sea. ‘Have a look, kid.’ Justin stared at the digital images. They were good, really good, catching a delicate charm about his face and figure that he’d never dreamed he possessed. ‘Look, let me do some face shots, with and without the hat. You’re better than a lot of boy models who get paid for this, in my opinion: natural poise, pretty smile and wide grin. Really nice. You done your hair up stylish too.’ ‘Whatchu gonna do wiv ‘em?’ ‘I might show them round and see if an agency would be interested in you. I receive a commission if they are. You can’t lose by it. Juss give me a forwarding address for the prints and any follow-up.’ Justin gave his mother’s address in Holloway. He was still working out whether this guy was all he seemed, when Declan said the words that confirmed Justin’s suspicions. ‘You can’t stand them Peachers, can you?’ ‘Nah …’ Justin replied fluently, ‘… hate ’em. They humiliate me mum on a daily basis.’ ‘Then maybe you can pay ’em back. I do a bit of work for the papers, not just picture stuff, but I feed ’em information. Here’s me card wiv me mobile number on. If you get wind of where they’re goin’ and stuff, and when, and if there’s anything juicy about trouble on the boat, lemme know straight away. If you can slip me names about the boy Andy Peacher harrassed, giss a ring.’ ‘Yeah, but wass innit for me, Dec?’ Declan brought a wad out of his back pocket. ‘Here’s three hundred dollars, mate. There’s more where that came from. Just ring, okay?’ ‘Cool!’ Justin enthused. ‘I’ll be here tomorrow. Maybe I’ll see ya?’ ‘I’m always round the quay.’ Justin walked away feeling very pleased with himself, though still full of questions. He was an accomplished and convincing liar, as his teachers, the Metropolitan Police and his mother could all attest. The deception he was engaged in now was not just troublemaking, it was fun too. He imagined it was something Terry O’Brien would approve of, and he’d even made three hundred dollars doing it. He strolled the streets and looked in the many craft shops for something to give Nathan. Finally he found a brilliant necklace in a surf shop. He spent most of his day’s earnings on it, which seemed like a good use to make of the money. It was also the first time he could recall buying a gift for anyone other than his mother. It was his conscience which was accusing him of doing it out of guilt over Tim’s blowjob the night before. *** The tender was waiting for Justin on time, bobbing easily up and down on the oily swell from the sea. He hopped in, to be grabbed and steadied as he staggered on the boat’s rise. The crew cast off and they skipped out over the water, kicking up spray. He sat back, enjoying the ride, and as he ran up the companionway to the yacht, he felt he was returning to somewhere he belonged. No one was around. The Yalies were all out on the dive boat, so he retreated to his cabin for a wank and a snooze. It was six when he woke up. He showered and changed to swimming trunks, putting cargo trousers over them and slipping on a pair of flip-flops. He left his hat on the table. The twins were on the pool deck, splashing around. ‘Hey!’ they called. ‘Hey back,’ Justin replied, sitting and dangling his feet in the water. ‘You coming in?’ they asked. ‘Okay.’ He dropped his trousers and cannonballed into the water on top of them. ‘That’s really juvenile,’ sniffed Harriet. ‘You’re Justin. Momma Sylvia said you’re related to us, but you’re not called Justin Peacher.’ ‘No, Harry,’ Ed corrected her, ‘Sylvia said that Andy’s fostering Justin, so he’s sort of our foster nephew. That right?’ Justin grinned as he bobbed in the water. ‘Yeah. Thass it! Uncle Ed and Auntie Harry.’ They laughed. ‘Weird. Your mom and dad dead then? You an orphan?’ asked Harriet. ‘No. Me mum’s fine when last I heard. She’s just not able to take care of me.’ The twins shrugged off the problem. ‘Can we call you Justy, like Andy does?’ ‘That’ll be cool.’ They talked about starting high school in August, visiting their ‘real mom’ in Washington soon for a week, and life in the Peacher compound in Santa Barbara. Ed saved him from drowning when Justin ventured too far into the deep end and lost his nerve. But he redeemed himself by playing all sorts of games. As they were splashing about, the dive boat returned and the rest of the passengers drifted past. ‘Gotta go, kids. But I’ll see ya later.’ He put on a robe over his dripping swimsuit, and went to find the person he thought could advise him best. ‘Pete!’ he called. ‘Hey, Justy.’ ‘You gotta mo? Iss important.’ ‘Sure. Come into the aft lounge.’ Peter was in just singlet and shorts, looking remarkably cool and hunky, his bleached and tangled hair making him seem like a gay fantasy of a surfer. Justin wondered how Tim could be eager for sex with anyone else when he had a lover like that. They sat on a bench next to an open picture window, through which a cool breeze was blowing. Justin quickly recounted his adventure in Basseterre. Peter listened quietly, raising his eyebrows occasionally. When Justin finished, Pete reached over and ruffled his hair. ‘Terry would be proud of you, Justy.’ Justin grinned from ear to ear with the praise. ‘You get these guys hanging around all the elite resorts. At first hearing it sounds as if this one’s a freelance looking for dirt. Poor bastard must have thought he’d hit a stream of pure sewage with you, buster. Still, there is one odd thing.’ ‘Whassat?’ ‘He wanted to know about our movements. They’re usually only interested in rumours and pictures … preferably scandalous ones: nude sunbathing, kissing the wrong girl or boy, that sorta thing.’ ‘So?’ ‘So, maybe this is Anson at work, looking to put moles under the Peacher lawn. You might have been quite a gift for him if you had been what you were pretending to be. Makes me wonder if Terry is really Anson’s target after all.’ ‘Should we contact Terry?’ ‘Yeppers, I think we should. Leave it to me, Justy. By the way, have you ever gone diving?’ ‘Wha … me? Nah. I can barely swim.’ ‘That’s no problem. Tell you what. Meet me at the pool after and I’ll fit you up with the gear and teach you some basic drill. Then you can come with me and Tim out to the coral reefs tomorrow and we’ll give you some more instruction.’ ‘Jeez. That’d be the best, thanks bro!’ * * * The next day found Justin in flippers and wetsuit jacket, fifteen feet below the surface of the Caribbean, amusing a lot of passing fish by blowing streams of bubbles from his mask. The sand below him was white and the rocks and anemones a kaleidoscope of colour. He swam easily and confidently now, Tim and Peter watching him carefully, lazing along just above him. This was indeed the best. His one lingering fear was of the sharks the films he had watched told him must be lurking there somewhere. For luck, he patted the knife strapped to his bare thigh. He was still bubbling, although in quite a different way, when he got back to the Speculator. The Yale boys, who had been dumped on shore that morning and looked a little the worse for wear following their afternoon in the bars, were leaving the next day, so that night a barbecue in their honour was being held in the Peacher house on shore. ‘You’ll take the chopper in with me, Justy,’ said Andy, to whom the whole tale of Declan the Dirt-digger had been told. ‘We don’t want you being observed in our social circle coming off the boat. We may have to make use of you again in your alternative persona.’ Before the party started, Justin rang Nathan. ‘Evening babe … it has to be before midnight where you are.’ ‘It’s eleven. The boy can learn. I’ve been waiting up for the call. What did you do today?’ Justin told him. ‘Oh Justy, that’s so brilliant. I love scuba diving. Maybe one day we can do it together, you and I …’ ‘… and the sharks.’ ‘There weren’t sharks! You’re making it up.’ ‘Not in the sea, maybe, but I met one on land, a real basking shark looking for blood in the water.’ ‘Go on.’ Justin filled him in. ‘So you think this is all tied up with what you saw and heard in Highgate that night?’ ‘Pete does – you’ll love Pete, he’s a lot like you, Nate. We may be seein’ Terry soon.’ They kicked the idea around for a while, until eventually Nathan signed off with a kiss down the phone line. ‘Take care of yourself, my mad little Justy babe.’ The barbecue was not like anything Justin had experienced in a North London back garden. It had waiters, chefs and Caribbean musicians. Justin and the twins climbed a tree, where they sat in the branches with plates of food, swinging their bare legs and chattering. Ed and Harriet brought to the surface the long-suppressed little boy in him and gave it an outing. After having missed out on most of his childhood, he had finally found a place and company where he could briefly reclaim it. The fireworks display took him by total surprise. It was stunning, like the big public ones he sometimes watched at a distance over Central London. Here, however, it thundered and exploded right overhead, detonation after detonation, colours blooming on top of more colours, banishing the tropical darkness and silencing the cicadas. Exhausted after what had perhaps been the most wonderful day of his life, Justin slept that night in the Peacher mansion, an impressive eighteenth-century plantation house on a hill above the inland jungle of the island. He woke late to tropical bird calls and the flutter of curtains in the morning breeze from the sea. He went in search of breakfast in shorts and tee-shirt. ‘Morning, criminal babe,’ said Terry, looking up from his paper in the dining room. Justin whooped and launched himself on his favourite security agent to give him a tight hug. ‘Christ Terry, when did you get in?’ ‘Early this morning. Iss all your fault, so it better be good. Have some breakfast first. Why not try the cantaloupe or the grapefruit?’ ‘Yuk. There’d better be Cheerios.’ They grinned at each other. Justin suddenly felt his day had been made. As he munched down his bowl of cereal, he responded as best he could to Terry’s very thorough interrogation. When it finished, he asked, ‘So tell me, Terry, who is this Declan bloke?’ ‘No idea. I got lots of sources in the tabloid world – I need to, as the scandal sheets give us plenty of grief – but they don’t know any photographer called Declan anything. So I got a couple of me people down in Basseterre looking for him this fine morning. When we get a picture and some information as to where he’s staying, we may learn more. You did good, Justy. I couldna done better meself. Thass twice now you’ve been a diamond. I won’t forget it, sweet babe.’ Justin smiled into his breakfast. This was the sort of approval he wanted to hear. It gave him a glimpse of something important he might accomplish with his life. When Terry ran out of questions, he sat back and tapped his teeth reflectively. Then he gave Justin a big grin. ‘Now, my little delinquent babe, I ’spect you wanna be naughty again. I think a brisk walk down into town would be a good idea later. See if you can meet up wiv Declan Whoever and draw him out. We need more information before I can assess whether he represents a threat greater than the usual. You up for it?’ ‘You need to ask?’ ‘You’re an imp, Justy! No I don’t. I know you’re eating this up. Just don’t forget that you could be hurt.’ At eleven Terry drove to the outskirts of Basseterre in a jeep and dropped Justin at the top of a street leading down to the harbour. He radioed for a boat to pick the boy up at one in the afternoon; gave him a serious look and told him to take care. Justin strolled down the street. He was the perfect image of an ingenuous young tourist, backpack over his shoulder, beanie hat shading his face, his eyes flickering everywhere on the pretext of taking in the sights. He found the bar where he had met Declan, but the man was nowhere around. He took a seat nonetheless, got a chilled coke and watched the world go by. He could see the yacht, white and impressive beyond the bay. In the end he gave up and moved on to do touristy things. As he was mooching around one of the many gift shops near the central post office, he caught sight of the back of a familiar head. ‘Hey … hey, Tim!’ he shouted. Tim looked back surprised. ‘Hello, Justy. What’re you doing here?’ ‘Hanging … thass all. What about you?’ Tim looked momentarily disconcerted. ‘Oh, you know.’ ‘No,’ Justin responded, and then remembered the smell that hung round the local cafés. ‘Oh, hang on, maybe I do know. You been buying … stuff?’ ‘Maybe,’ Tim replied evasively. ‘Er, gotta go, Justy. I’m picking up a boat out to the yacht in fifteen minutes. See ya later, okay? Unless you want a lift?’ ‘Nah … mine’s coming in at one. See ya.’ Justin smirked. It appeared he wasn’t the only bad boy on board the Speculator. Oddly, it hadn’t occurred to him to buy marijuana. It was difficult enough getting tobacco on board. As he was standing thinking about the chances, a familiar voice hailed him in the accents of North London. ‘Hey … Justin.’ ‘Hi, Declan. Didn’t think I’d see ya again.’ ‘Fancy a drink?’ ‘Sure.’ Justin was led into the dark interior of a serious bar. There was a scent to the air that caused Justin’s nose to tingle. ‘Can you get pot ’ere?’ ‘You use that shit?’ ‘Aw yeah. Come on. At my age and a Londoner? Whatchu think?’ Declan laughed. ‘Any news for me?’ he asked abruptly. ‘Depends what you mean. The crewman bein’ harrassed by that little blond arsehole was fired yesterday and flown back to Manila wiv a payoff.’ ‘Pity.’ ‘Yeah. But Andy came on to me again. He wants to screw me little butt so bad. He’s disgusting. ’Ee had his sweaty hands all over me, tried to fiddle wiv me dick an all through me shorts. I ran for it in the end when his boyfriend turned up. They’re an odd pair. I think they both wanna do me at the same time. Iss a bit scary. I told me mum I wanna go home. I doan’ fancy this. I doan’ like poofs, and this makes me sick.’ ‘Jeez. Sounds like they wanna use you like some sex toy. Did he offer you money?’ ‘Nah. But he more or less said that if I din’t lay it out he’d get me mum fired.’ ‘Shit … he wants to do this on the boat with all the rest of the people there? ‘He said he knew somewhere nice and quiet on the island where we wouldn’ be bovvered, where ’ee ’ad some … whadee call it? Equipment, ’ee said.’ ‘Fuckin’ ’ell! Like the bloody Marquis de Sade.’ ‘Oo?’ ‘Never mind. Look, Justin, I can help. I got friends who can make the little pervert pay for what ’ee’s trying to do to you. Whatchu got to do is this. Go along wiv him. Try to get him to tell you where his little love nest is. Lemme know, and when he takes you there, we’ll be waiting.’ ‘You woan’ let him do things to me, willya? Iss horrible wha’ he says he’d like to do to me. Urghh. Makes me shiver.’ ‘No, no, Justin. I mean, you’ll have to be in the same room as him, and maybe let him start. But then we can move and sort him out, the perv. You okay wiv that?’ ‘Yeah … but can I trust ya?’ ‘Course. And there’ll be money for you too, lots of it. How about five thousand dollars, how does that sound? Worth a grope or two?’ ‘Now you’re talkin’! Okay, you’re on. But you promise you woan’ let him … do stuff to me?’ ‘Course.’ ‘Okay … I’m trustin’ you now.’ ‘Giss a ring this afternoon.’ *** Justin made his way down to the quay and waited for the tender, which came skipping across the waves, the crew waving as they saw him. As soon as he was aboard the yacht, he went looking for Andy to fill him in on the latest development. ‘This is new,’ Andy said. ‘I mean, I’ve had the press go after me, even making things up, but this is a step beyond. It’s entrapment, and it’s going a lot further than even a tabloid hack would.’ ‘Where’s Terry?’ ‘He’ll be along when he’s talked to his people in Basseterre. Meanwhile, let’s go and tell Matt and Pete.’ Terry arrived late in the afternoon and joined them in the lounge. Justin told his story again, with many interruptions from Andy, who was deeply amused by his foster-son’s depiction of him as a half-crazed paedophile. ‘Justy, you’re a real artist,’ Terry complimented him. ‘Also, you’ve read too much internet porn for a kid. But there’s no doubt Declan the Dirt-digger swallowed it all – hook, line and sinker. Andy’s right too. This is no ordinary press harassment.’ He gave a picture to Justin. ‘Is this Declan?’ ‘Yup. Thass the guy. You found him?’ ‘I didn’t, but two of my guys from Santa Barbara located him from your description and tailed him. He’s in the Coconut Tree Hotel. Nice. Three stars. He’s registered as Barry McGuire. My people are running a check on that name, but it might just be another false identity, I’d guess. He’s been hanging with these other two guys. Any recognition?’ They all shook their heads. ‘So there’s a team at work here. Obviously a deal of money behind them, too. Iss looking more and more like Anson’s at it once again. I’m gonna have to hand him another upset, poor guy, cos we’ll have to take out this team too. They’re too persistent and too dangerous.’ ‘Wha …? You gonna shoot ’em? Cool!’ ‘No, Justy, you know very well I’m gonna do nothing’ of the sort. We aren’t the police or the CIA. We gotta be a bit more subtle than that. We’ll just entrap the entrappers. I’ve devised a scheme which amazes even me by its very subtlety.’
  4. A fortnight went by. The boys worked together daily, and Justin even went into Hornsey College with Nathan on his day releases. Hanging round the college coffee bar, he ran into one or two of his more clued-in former street mates, who barely recognised the new Justin but definitely approved. ‘Fuck me, Animal, you look like a million quid.’ ‘Yeah, I gone on the game. I’m a high-class rent boy now. I can recommend it. Wanna intro to me pimp?’ On weekends they swopped between houses, although of the two, it was Matt’s that was now the happier. Justin had achieved a first in his life and become popular with a houseful of adults. They joked with him, and were happy to chat. As he opened up further, a deep inner stream of fun began to emerge in his character. Popularity had become real affection by the end of a fortnight. Happiness was infectious, and its effect on Matt and Andy was noticeable. They took pride in Justin, and tried to get him and Nathan to come out on their social duties where they could. The climax of the fortnight was a black-tie premier in Leicester Square, where they followed Matt and Andy up the red carpet, though they didn’t quite have the nerve to walk hand-in-hand as the older couple did. They did publicly neck in the reception that followed, however, and got a mixture of strange and approving looks. At three in the morning, as the limo was taking them back to Highgate, Justin was fast asleep. Matt looked lazily – and a little blearily – at Nathan. ‘You know we fly out on Sunday, don’t you? Are you going to be okay without your boyfriend for a few weeks?’ ‘Course. Justy’s never been abroad. It’d be selfish of me to resent his chance to travel for once. Where’re you taking him?’ ‘To Andy’s place in Annandale to begin with, then – I dunno – probably down to St Kitts to meet Peter, Andy’s brother, and his lover Tim. This is vacation time in the USA and the boys are soaking up the sun. The new Peacher yacht will be anchored off Basseterre by now.’ ‘Poor Justy. What a life of wealth to have to get used to!’ Smiling indulgently at his sleeping boyfriend, Nathan gently lifted his hand and kissed it. He woke him as the car pulled up at Matt’s house. ‘We’re back, lover.’ ‘Wha …?’ ‘Highgate, and it’s bedtime.’ ‘Oh, right.’ They made their way to Justin’s bedroom, which was filling up with more of Nathan’s plants. Nathan began undressing. ‘It’s our last night together, Justy. And the results of the tests on both of us said we’ve been good boys.’ ‘You first then, Nate. I want you in me bareback … oh, I’m so gonna love this!’ They sighed and groaned out their love for each other till the sun came up, then slept in each other’s arms till midday that Saturday. Their parting was difficult for Justin, who’d had too little real happiness in his life to want to give any up. He wished he could cry, especially when he saw tears in Nathan’s eyes. He touched them with respectful awe, realising they were a lover’s tears shed for him. He kissed them away. A short while later Nathan’s father arrived to chauffeur his son home. Justin did not resent Matt’s holding him by the shoulder while he watched longingly through the window as Nathan disappeared. Indeed, in his unhappiness he cuddled into his foster father on the sofa and let him stroke his hair. He kissed Matt and Andy on the cheek before he went to bed, and was kissed gently back. ‘We love you too, y’know,’ they said. He nodded, and as he did so, he looked at them and gave a woeful smile. He found he needed something new for him: reassurance and comfort. Once you get used to being together with another human being, to giving and receiving back affection, its absence does strange things to you. In Justin’s case, it made him vulnerable and needy in ways he had not known before. Matt and Andy understood that, and he knew they did. As he went upstairs he found the tracks of tears running down his own cheeks for the very first time he could remember in his life. * * * The bags were already in the hall when he woke. Terry and Jenna were travelling too, and the limousine was purring outside. A minivan driven by Dave Evans, the PA, waited behind to carry the luggage. Justin dressed casually for the flight, getting more and more excited. The doors closed and the convoy pulled away. Sitting in the back seat between Matt and Andy, he asked, ‘Where we flyin’ from?’ Andy said, ‘An airfield in Northolt.’ ‘What, not Heathrow or Gatwick? I thought thass where all the transatlantic flights lifted off from.’ ‘Not this one. And it’s less of a problem getting to it, as it’s just off the North Circular. We’ll be there in half an hour, and in the air in forty-five minutes.’ Justin was disappointed. He had so wanted to see a huge international airport. The disappointment evaporated, however, as the car turned into an airfield and he saw the large, sleek private aircraft on the tarmac. ‘Jeez! It’s your own jet! You got your own jet! So cool!’ ‘Actually it’s my dad’s, but yeah, it’s ours for today at least.’ Immigration officials were on hand to give their documents a cursory check before sending them on their way within ten minutes of arriving. Justin’s eyes widened when the long-distance plane lifted into the air, kicking him in the back with the power of its ascent. As it rose high over North London, he was glued to the window. All his young life had been played out on the small patch of ground disappearing below him. ‘Okay, criminal babe,’ suggested a grinning Terry, ‘how ‘bout cards? You play blackjack?’ Terry’s grin did not last. ‘You’re cheating, yer little sod!’ ‘Bad loser,’ was the only reply from an intent and intense Justin. * * * The luxury of the flight was matched only by the subdued fun in the cabin. The food and drink were plentiful, served by a team of stewards on hand to cater to their every need. Justin was even allowed a beer. Everybody seemed to be in a good mood. Terry was returning to his boyfriend and Jenna to her husband, so they were full of good humour. Matt and Andy, bubbling, simply enjoyed travelling. Even though the world was taking Justin further and further from his lover as it turned, still he was conscious that Nathan would be thinking of him day and night. His mobile was topped up and ready for long conversations. Flying in across Chesapeake Bay and up the Potomac, the jet curved gracefully in to a landing at Dulles. Although Justin again was glued to the window, his view was blocked by low clouds, which also made for an alarmingly bumpy descent. He found cold sweat on his forehead when they finally came to a halt. A minibus conveyed them all to Immigration, where Matt took Justin’s passport and walked him through the gates of the hall. They all met up again outside the terminal concourse at the convoy of black cars with Peacher drivers, which whisked them away to the big house in Annandale. Justin watched as America flowed past him: strange road signs, wooden houses, and yellow school buses driving on the wrong side of the road. It was just like the films, but unlike. Andy’s house was really big, with a huge pool out back. Justin was introduced to Mrs Fuentes, the housekeeper, who assigned him a much larger room than the one he had in Matt’s place. It came with a widescreen TV, antique lamps and flower arrangements. A maid unpacked his case, folded the clothes and hung them in the closet. Not wanting to wait around while she did it, he decided to explore the house and grounds. Terry and Jenna had disappeared into their own worlds, and he soon missed Terry a lot. Dinnertime found him a little dozy but still up to sparring with Matt and Andy, who began filling him in about the Peacher family, its personalities and its history. It was fascinating stuff, especially the figure of Peter Peacher, Andy’s younger brother. ‘You think you’re a problem, Justy?’ exclaimed Matt. ‘He put the family in an uproar for years. You may have terrorised Upper Holloway, but he caused the California National Guard to be called out four years ago, when he staged his own kidnapping. There were road blocks all along the Pacific Coast Highway.’ ‘God, don’t remind me of it,’ groaned Andy. ‘Funny thing is, he had it in for me too,’ Matt mused. ‘I wonder what it is about me that brings out the worst in adolescents?’ ‘Yer lack of spots, Matt.’ ‘I wish that were it. I never got on with my brother Carl at that age either. It must be me, I suppose. But eventually Pete got his act together and in his junior year found his Tim, a lovely lad who’s civilised him amazingly, just the way Nathan did for you. He’s quite a star now. You’ll likely be seeing him in a few days on St Kitts.’ ‘Does he know about me?’ Andy smiled. ‘Oh yes. I e-mail him regularly about my new delinquent. He’s looking forward to meeting you. ‘Oh sod! We’ve not done anything yet about beach gear for you. I’ve got to get on to campus tomorrow. Matt, can you sort it?’ ‘Sure, not a problem. My last makeover of Justin was generally admired. A few pairs of shorts and flip-flops won’t be a challenge.’ In fact, the shopping took most of the day. The two of them drove from mall to mall and, much to his own surprise, Justin enjoyed himself. ‘Thing is, Matt, iss a good way to see the Americans in their natural environment.’ They were sitting in the food court of a giant mall on the outskirts of Washington. Justin had bought piles of cotton trousers, board shorts, sandals, flip-flops, loose shirts and tee-shirts of all sorts – even one or two hats that caught his fancy. ‘You’ve got a few classy pairs of swimming gear, baggy and otherwise. Do you swim, Justy?’ ‘Nah … never got round to it at home. I wuz always absent from school when they did swimmin’ lessons.’ ‘We’ll see if Andy’ll help you in the pool this evening. He’s an excellent swimmer.’ Andy tried to teach Justin to float, with no great success. In the end he said they’d just have to keep working on it. The next day Matt had a try, with better results. ‘Fact is, I found swimming difficult when I first tried. It took me a long while to gain confidence. I think I’ve got a better idea of the problems than Andy, who’s part dolphin.’ By the end of the sunny Virginia afternoon, Justin was floating and splashing happily just out of his depth. ‘Of course it would help if you could stop having erections when I touch you,’ Matt complained. ‘They’re overbalancing you.’ ‘Hang on, I’ll go jerk off behind that bush.’ ‘Wait. Christ, put your shorts back on! You’re a bad lad!’ ‘Thought for a moment I was goin’ to do it, didnya? Nice dick though, innit?’ Matt, ignoring the prick teasing, hauled out of the pool and ordered drinks, admiring the boy while he carried on splashing around. Justin was irresistible when he was having fun, for under the tarnish of the abused delinquent there was still the cheerful little boy he had never been allowed to be, bubbling to get out and play. * * * The dark green mountains of St Kitts swung below them as the helicopter turned to approach its landing on the deck of the yacht MV Speculator, Richard Peacher’s new toy, moored well off Basseterre harbour. It was more of a small liner than a yacht, with a helipad and resident copter behind the tall black funnel. The crew was unloading even before the rotors stopped turning. Cool as only a slim, attractive boy can be, Justin got out, shades in place, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, baggy shorts and flip-flops. He had topped the lot with a round, broad-brimmed straw hat set back on his head. Matt had done his hair for him and, unable to stop himself, had pecked him on the lips when he finished. Justin scoffed, ‘Can I seduce you, Matt?’ ‘Be good, you randy imp! Go and seduce the boys on St Kitts. You won’t find it too hard, looking the way you do. You’re just too cute in that hat.’ A handsome woman in her mid-thirties, carrying a small toddler, was waiting for them. Matt and Andy went over to hug her and kiss the child. ‘Sylvia,’ said Andy, ‘this is Justin, whom we’ve fostered. Justin, this is Mrs Sylvia Peacher, my stepmother, and my baby sister Elaine.’ Justin gave his cheeky street grin, always guaranteed to charm older women, and said, ‘Pleased to meetcha.’ Sylvia smiled back. ‘Welcome aboard the good ship Speculator, Justin. What a name to give it.’ Andy chuckled. ‘I didn’t think dad had a sense of humour.’ ‘It was Peter, naturally. Your father guffawed for ten minutes once he got it.’ ‘Where is Pete?’ ‘On the island with Tim and a crowd of fraternity brothers he brought along with him for the week. They’ve gone to look at the fort. Dinner will be at seven, white jacket and black tie.’ ‘Great,’ enthused Andy, then caught the alarmed look on Justin’s face. ‘It’s okay, Justy, you’re sorted. Matt had a suit tailored for you just before we left. It was to be a surprise.’ ‘Justin, you’re in the cabin next to Matt and Andy’s. They know where to go, so follow them. Your bags should be there already. It’s drinks on the stern promenade in twenty minutes. Bye, guys.’ White-jacketed stewards circulated with silver trays under the awning that protected the deck. The sun sparkled on the clear, blue waters while gulls screamed overhead. The low houses of Basseterre with their coloured, corrugated roofs climbed up the hill opposite. Justin watched as a ferry slipped its moorings at the long quay to move out past the yacht, saluting it with three tremendous blasts on its horn. The yacht’s reply was even more impressive. Justin smiled and waved at the laughing people lining the ferry deck, who waved back. He sipped on something called ginger ale that tasted like nothing he’d ever tried before, served in a glass crammed with vegetation and clinking with ice. A speedboat approached the yacht from the harbour, bouncing across the waves. Its pilot brought it elegantly alongside the companionway so a group of five or six young men could clatter up and dash towards the stern. Peter Peacher was easy to identify. He was blond and naturally pale like his elder brother, but far better built and decidedly handsome. He swept the crowd, saw Justin, and plunged towards him, only to stop abruptly in front of him, put his hands on his hips, and comically size him up. ‘So, hi there, foster-bro!’ ‘Uh … hi,’ responded Justin, a bit taken aback. ‘You gave Matt a hard time, didn’t you?’ ‘Er … yeah, I did.’ ‘Me too. He brings out the worst in good-looking boys. It’s his perfection. It gets up your nose. You are nice looking, too … a lot like my Timmy. So is it true you’re a criminal?’ Justin smirked. ‘Only a petty one.’ Peter laughed and put an arm round his shoulder. ‘Come and meet my Timmy babe. Nice to have another gay kid on board … top or bottom?’ ‘Bottom mostly. Is this the sort of things gays ask each other?’ ‘Nah, I’m just salaciously curious. You don’t look like the guy who goes under. You seem too aggressive for that.’ ‘Iss overcompensation.’ ‘What did you think of Terry O’Brien?’ Justin got enthusiastic. ‘He’s me hero. Awesome bloke!’ Peter smiled. ‘Mine too. That guy changed my life. I date everything that’s gone right for me from the day I met him.’ When Peter laughed happily at the memory, it was instant affection as far as Justin was concerned. He liked this man. Tim, on the other hand, rocked him when they were introduced. More pretty of face than classically handsome, Tim was darkly tanned and of a height with Justin. His smile was a little secretive, as if they were already sharing a private joke. The sudden sexual fixation Justin felt was something new to him. Even Nathan had taken a while to arouse him. Tim’s slim and elegant brown legs – with very little hair on them, Justin noticed – below his cargo shorts and above his sockless trainers turned Justin right on, making him ache to see the rest of that body, very much. Tim was talking with easy confidence to a group of strapping males, rather bigger than either of them, who had to be part of the Yale set. Justin hung round on the fringes of the group for a while, but couldn’t find an entry. Bored, he wandered off back to the rail, feeling suddenly out of it. Matt and Andy were nowhere to be seen. Sylvia was chattering with two younger kids, the twins he’d heard about – what were their names? – Ed and Harriet. He stared down through the sparkling depths of the perfectly transparent water, seeing fish float past in shoals. He wondered whether there were sharks. Someone joined him at the rail. ‘Love the hat!’ It was Tim. Justin smiled a little shyly, a first for him. ‘Hi.’ ‘It’s gorgeous out here, isn’t it?’ ‘Hmm. I never thought I’d ever see it.’ ‘What?’ ‘The sea.’ ‘You mean you’ve never seen the sea before?’ ‘Nah. Only from the jet when we came over. Seen it on the telly, ’course, but that doan’ prepare you for the smells and the sounds. S’fantastic!’ ‘You seem to be handling this all very well, Justin.’ ‘Call me Justy, Tim. Me mates do. Matt and Andy are cool guys, once you get used to ’em. They’ve been really good to me and as long as they’re around I’m okay.’ ‘The Yale crowd were a bit much, though, weren’t they?’ ‘Yeah … well, it can’t be expected to have big rich lads like that interested in talkin’ to me.’ ‘Oh, I dunno.’ Tim’s voice was low and intimate. ‘I think you’re really interesting.’ Now I wonder what that meant? Justin thought. ‘Cheers,’ he said, uncertain if he dared push things on a bit. ‘You’re pretty amazing too, if you don’t mind me saying.’ Tim dropped his eyes and smiled the smile. ‘I don’t mind it at all, especially from you, Justin.’ Justin smiled back. ‘How long you and Pete been an item?’ ‘Since junior year in high school. He kept me from being bullied, then came out in order to defend me. He was so cool about it, and what a god, eh?’ ‘He’s totally fit. It must be amazing havin’ sex with a guy who’s got a bod like that.’ ‘What’s your boyfriend like?’ ‘Not too unlike Pete, though not quite so big or muscular. Nate’s my rock. Anything good in me is built on him.’ Tim looked impressed. ‘I don’t think anyone could put their love better, boy or girl. There’s a lot more to you than rumour lets on, Justin.’ ‘Justy.’ ‘That’s cool. Tell me how you and Nathan met.’ Justin spent the next half hour recounting the story of his arrest, his forced labour at Andersons, and how he found himself in Nathan’s arms. Peter brought them drinks and stayed to pick up the thread of the story. He was particularly interested in the bugging of the house in Highgate. Justin paused. ‘So yer know all about this guy Anson, do you?’ ‘Oh yeah. Did you hear the story of how Terry took him down?’ asked Peter. ‘Nah, just hints like.’ ‘It’s quite sexy. He told us in Santa Barbara when we were ratted and we were …’ Peter looked at Tim. ‘Can I tell him?’ ‘He’s your foster bro. It’s time you decided whether you trust him or not.’ ‘Okay. Justy, this must not go further. Andy, Matt, and my dad and stepmom do not know this, but Tim and I have done group sex with Terry and his boyfriend Ramon, couple of times now.’ ‘Jeez! Have you had Terry’s huge dick up …?’ ‘Oh yeah!’ ‘What? Both of you?’ ‘Absolutely. Although not simultaneously, big though he is.’ ‘Wow! Envy … envy. So, er … you were saying about how he took down Anson?’ They were still talking intently when the chief steward appeared at Mrs Peacher’s shoulder with the announcement that dinner would be served in half an hour. She clapped her hands and told the party it was time to dress. Justin, Tim and Peter headed to their cabins. When Justin got the suit off its hangers, he found it fitted like a glove. He managed everything, even the crimson cummerbund, apart from the tie. He tried to follow the instruction card, and was just panicking when Andy knocked on the door to check on him. ‘Do me tie, Andy, or I’ll be in tears soon.’ Andy obliged and brought him next door into his and Matt’s cabin where there was a big mirror. He covered Justin’s eyes till he had him in position.’ ‘Okay, Justy, let me get your hair right. Now you can look.’ ‘Oh me bleedin’ God!’ Andy and Matt were proudly contemplating a glamorous boy in immaculate tropical evening dress. He almost burst into tears. ‘Not just cute now, Justy,’ Matt told him. ‘You’ve crossed over into downright handsome.’ ‘Thass me, innit?’ ‘It’s you, you heart-breaker. Let me get a picture.’ They walked him to dinner in the ship’s large wardroom, where he was seated between Tim and Pete, opposite the captain. He was intrigued to see at last the great Richard Peacher himself down the table, next to his wife. Now in his early fifties, Peacher was thought by some to be the richest person in the world, although many disputed it. Catching the man’s eye, Justin suddenly felt very small. He chatted to Peter and Tim with growing intimacy, thankful they didn’t push down his throat the fact that they were students. They had the same modesty and lack of self-consequence he found so endearing in his Nathan. They spent their time being funny and outrageous at their end of the table. The captain was guffawing at their humour, while Matt and Andy were deeply grateful to Peter for taking Justin under his wing. Only the Yale boys were uncomfortable. They had clearly hoped to monopolise the billionaire’s son, as well as freeload. Justin also decided – with justifiable smugness – that he looked better in evening dress than any of them. He had no more qualms about sit-down dinners. If Matt hadn’t been all too obviously monitoring his alcohol intake, he would have been perfectly happy. After the dinner, people drifted away into the tropical night, with its stars blazing in the sky above them. The Milky Way was spread across the heavens like a river of pale mist. Justin, who had only ever seen the orange and obscured night sky of a great city, was quite amazed. Tim had come out with him. ‘It’s fantastic, isn’t it, Justy?’ Justin had never been aesthetically moved before in his life, but now he was. His soul was awake and he held his breath as he gazed at the points of light burning like diamonds in the velvet of the firmament. He shivered, not with cold in that tropical night, but with the inhuman beauty of Creation. His hand blindly sought Tim’s, and was gripped. ‘London and Holloway seem to belong to a different universe, all the grey streets, damp and fog. I keep feelin’ I’m gonna wake up soon in me bedroom in me mum’s flat, and it’ll all have been nothing but an incredible dream.’ Tim was very close to him. Taking him round the waist, he whispered, ‘It’s real alright, Justy, as real as you and I, as real as the feelings I think we have for each other.’ Justin realised with amazement that he was being seduced by another boy, one who turned him on rather too much. ‘What about you and Pete?’ ‘Pete knows how horny I am. He shares me with his friends. He was sucking me as Terry took me from behind … my idea of heaven, at least till I saw your pretty face and slim bod.’ He closed and their lips met. Tim’s small pink tongue licked at Justin’s, whose own duelled back without quarter. As the passion of their kiss deepened, Tim’s hand snaked inside Justin’s trousers, scrabbling to grip his all-too-obvious erection. Justin was not fighting the moment, although a part of him was tapping its foot, its arms crossed and frowning, while Nathan and Pete stood behind unhappily. Tim was on his knees now, his lips closed around Justin’s penis, sucking it deeply into his mouth. Justin seized the back of his head and began to thrust back in rhythm. After only a few minutes, Justin came forcefully, and Tim rose to share his ejaculate with him, feeding it back in a renewed liplock. Justin swallowed his own semen and licked into Tim’s mouth. Eventually they separated, Tim replacing Justin’s now flaccid member inside his trousers and zipping him up. Tim patted Justin’s crotch and grinned. ‘Gotta do this again, Justy, oh yeah … and maybe more. Night.’ He left, whistling to himself. Justin had managed to get hold of cigarettes, and lit up one as he looked over the side at the phosphorescent water. Retrieving his mobile he rang Nathan’s number. ‘Justy!’ he heard a sleepy voice say, ‘Oh Justy, thanks for ringing.’ ‘Oops. What time is it where you are?’ ‘Four in the morning.’ ‘Ohmigod! I’m so sorry. I’m crap at maths.’ ‘Doesn’t matter. I’m just so glad to hear you. Wassup?’ ‘Well, Nate,’ he began, ‘you won’t believe this …’ He talked for twenty minutes.
  5. Justin got the next issue of Hello and was disappointed. He finally found the photo in one of the gay magazines that Matt’s agent sent round, a new celeb glossy. There he was with Nathan, grinning, following Matt and Andy out of Poivre Vert. The caption identified them as an unknown gay teen couple and delicately implied that Matt and Andy were sleeping with them. ‘Bastards,’ he snarled, going off the idea of celebrity. Still, they did look hot. He blew the image up on Dave’s colour copier and tacked it to a board a workman had installed, where he’d already mounted lots of pictures of Nathan he’d begged from his lover. Nathan had gone home after Poivre Vert and their last sleepover with the intention of coming out to his parents. He was not surprised to learn that they had already made the correct deduction about Justin. They might not have been happy, but had put no obstacles in the way of further visits. Still, Nathan had been depressed for days after the big conversation, which was very unlike him. For all his brass neck, Justin was reluctant to go out to Harlesden Lodge. Worried that he might be intruding into private grief, he put it off. It had been a week since he had seen his lover, though they talked frequently on the mobile. But today was the day Nathan did Matt’s garden, so they would see each other. Justin had got into a routine of sorts at Matt’s house. It was not a good one. He woke late and showered. He talked to Nathan on his mobile, then played games or listened to music. After the invariable first cigarette in the garden, he might wander into the village. If Terry was around he sought him out to share a smoke and have a long conversation, for Terry was fun and educational to talk to. On a few occasions they went out for a drive. Andy sometimes too chatted, and they began to get easier with each other. Justin recognised that the kindness was genuine and appreciated it. Matt was a different case entirely. If he was not at his offices in Camden, he just ignored Justin or snapped at him about leaving the place a mess. There was a problem there, and Justin came to realise that he wasn’t the one responsible. Still, if he was kicked, he kicked back harder, and Matt often came out of their skirmishes bruised and fuming. Mr Anderson arrived with Nathan, who mustered a big grin for his boyfriend. Justin had been waiting on the drive for twenty minutes, chain smoking. Anderson looked startled. ‘Justin? Why are you here?’ ‘I live here. I’ve been fostered by Mr Peacher.’ ‘Blimey! That’s a bit of luck for you, son. I’m delighted for you. Really.’ ‘Cheers.’ Justin had put on working gear. Overriding Nathan’s objections to gardening alongside him, he spent the morning cutting grass, trimming and pruning. ‘I really missed this. D’you think Mr Anderson would take me on again? He won’t have to pay me much.’ Nathan smiled. ‘Justy, it’d be an idea if you did get a job. It must be boring to idle round the house all day long.’ ‘Oh … mostly. But the fights with Matt liven things up. He’s a pushover, and I got lots of time on me hands to think up insults.’ ‘It’s his house, Justy, you should back off.’ ‘Nate, I don’t start the rows. Iss not in me nature to walk away from a fight either.’ ‘Animal.’ ‘I’ll bite your dick.’ ‘Later.’ They kissed long and hard. At lunchtime they raced into the house, threw off their boots and galloped up the stairs, almost knocking Andy over. ‘Sorry!’ ‘Scuse me!’ Later, lying naked together with the scent of their semen and mingled sweat heavy in the air while enjoying gentle moments of kissing and stroking, Nathan asked dreamily, ‘So why do you think Matt’s got it in for you so much?’ ‘Jealous of me looks, y’think?’ ‘Must be a reason.’ ‘I dunno. You’re better with this sort of thing. Can he see me as a rival?’ ‘Why?’ wondered Nathan. ‘Well, maybe he thinks I’m coming between him and Andy.’ Nathan stared at him and shook his head. ‘Nah.’ ‘Could it be he fancies me and is high on sexual tension when I’m round him?’ ‘That’s your huge ego talking, Justy.’ ‘Or he just got bumped into the arrangement by Andy and couldn’t say no?’ At last Nathan looked as though he was in agreement. ‘Now you may be on the right track. He’s got a lovely home, a brilliant life and masses of cash. Suddenly his boyfriend drags this gutter kid with huge personal problems …’ ‘… and a perpetual hardon …’ ‘… and a perpetual hardon – along with a gorgeous boyfriend of his own – into it. Stands to reason he’d be a bit pissed at you. So what you going to do about it?’ Justin was astonished. ‘S not my problem!’ Nathan grimaced. ‘Look, Justy. You didn’t create it, but it is your problem. It’s time to start relating with other people than just me. Throw the bloke a line. Help him come to terms with it.’ ‘What … be nice to him?’ ‘No … well, yeah. That’s part of it. More to the point, try to teach him you’re not just a filing cabinet full of ASBOs and aggression. Hiding behind the Animal there’s a real Justin who’s brave, cool, affectionate and beautiful. He’s the Justin I love, the Justin Andy and Terry have recognised. Stop running from the fact that you’re a really brilliant human being, against all the odds.’ Instead of continuing the repartee, Justin went quiet and pensive. Nathan snuggled closer to him and waited patiently for a response. Justin played with his hair and kissed his head for a while. ‘Nathan?’ ‘Justy?’ ‘I’m not what you want me to be. I really am not a brilliant human being. I’m selfish, foul-mouthed, arrogant, violent and deeply fucked up by years of abuse. People like me shouldn’t even be allowed on the same planet as someone like you, Nate. I can’t be trusted. I’m not good, or kind, and I’ve never done anything for anyone else in all me life. About the only thing to be said for me is that I can make you laugh.’ ‘Even if all that were true, Justy – and I don’t admit it for a moment – the point is that unlike some people who’ve had your disadvantages, you do know yourself. ‘Cos you do, you’re changing. You’re doing it so fast I doubt your mum would recognise you now. You are brilliant, and I love you for it.’ They showered away the sweat of their coupling, and went back down to the garden. It being the afternoon for weeding, they were down on their knees side by side while Nathan patiently taught Justin which plants were weeds and which were not. After an hour, Justin burst out, ‘I think I got an idea about Matt.’ ‘Great. What is it?’ ‘I’ll tell yer later.’ At the end of the afternoon they hung round waiting for Nathan’s ride. When it came, Justin begged straight-faced to be taken on again. ‘Please, Mr Anderson. Don’t tell me you don’t need the help. Nathan’s often on his own. You don’t even have to pay me.’ Anderson looked thoughtful. ‘Well, I won’t say you’re not a good worker, Justin. You’re learning the essentials quickly too. I can’t take you on permanently, but it is true that we’re run off our feet at this time of year. But only on a weekly basis, right? And you’re on basic.’ ‘Legend!’ He and Nathan grinned at each other and high-fived. ‘Seven-thirty tomorrow in the driveway. You’ll be doing the herb garden at Ireton House down the road.’ * * * When Matt returned home just after Nathan left, he found Justin sitting on the stairs waiting for him. He put his briefcase down, looked the boy over coolly and asked him pointedly if he’d had a productive day. Justin ignored the needle in the remark. ‘I got a job today.’ Matt was taken aback. ‘Oh. Er …wonderful.’ ‘Yeah. Ol’ man Anderson wanted me back. Good, eh?’ ‘Well, yes. It’s very good.’ ‘Pleased wiv me?’ ‘I wouldn’t go quite so far.’ ‘Wassa problem wiv me, Matt?’ ‘How long have you got? Smelly. Horny. Untidy. In my house.’ Justin mastered his first impulses, remembered how much he loved Nathan, and asked mildly, ‘Matt, iss not my fault that I’m here, is it? Anyways, could ya do me a favour?’ ‘What?’ ‘Run me down the Seven Sisters Road. I wanna see me mum.’ ‘Can’t Terry do it?’ ‘He’s out wiv Andy.’ ‘How long will it take?’ ‘Juss half an hour or so.’ Matt shrugged and got his car keys. Justin continued his campaign as they tooled down Archway Road in the powerful little Mercedes. ‘You got family, Matt?’ ‘Mum and dad, and a younger brother, Carl … the Olympic distance-swimmer.’ ‘They must be proud of both of ya.’ ‘So they say … but we’re proud of them right back. They were brilliant parents.’ ‘I never knew me dad. In fact, I doan’ think me mum’s quite sure which of half a dozen blokes he was.’ Matt looked uncomfortable. ‘Oh … really?’ ‘First bloke I can remember in our flat was the first stepdad, black guy. He liked shagging her in front of me while I was playing with me toys on the floor. Said he got off on it. He had to go, although not before he’d broken one of me arms. He got off on beating me up too, even if he was always sorry afterwards. ‘The second stepdad was a bit nicer … least he had lots of cash and made me mum happy, which was the problem. He got his thrills screwing me little arse when I was nine and ten, but I couldn’t tell cos I’d ’ave ruined things for mum. So I took his dick most nights and didn’ say a word. Didn’ even mention the blood when I shit. ‘Now the third stepdad …’ Matt pulled into the kerb. ‘Stop please, Justin.’ ‘He was just a useless loser, nothing much shockin’ there, ’part from stealing me mum’s cash and leaving us wivout any money for food. When I was twelve, I had to beg outside a chippies or starve.’ ‘Why are you telling me this?’ ‘Thought we could become mates, like. Tell each other a few funny stories. Get to know each other, sorta thing.’ ‘Is it all true?’ ‘Iss in me file, just ask Tanya … apart from the anal rape. I was only able to start talking about that with Nathan. Hey … and I talked to you about it, I must be cured, doanchya think?’ ‘You’re teaching me a lesson, aren’t you?’ ‘What, a thick, useless layabout like me, teach a brilliant god like you anyfing?’ Matt looked sheepish. ‘It’s worked. I apologise.’ Justin gave Matt an odd look. ‘I’m not askin’ for an apology, Matt. I juss wanted you to know how much crap I’ve had to tunnel through to get this far. I still live in a dark place, Matt. What Nathan’s teaching me is that there’s light and air outside, and I might get there one day with him. His love is what’s pulling me out. If there’s anyone you should apologise to, it’s that boy. He knows how hard a job I am. He needs your help.’ ‘Do you still want me to take you to your mum’s.’ ‘That’s where we were goin’, wannit?’ They drove off in silence, and Justin directed Matt to what he said was a reasonably safe area to park. ‘Want me to come with you?’ ‘Yes, please.’ It was not what Matt was expecting. The television was turned off when he entered, and the small flat was tidy. Justin’s mother looked reasonably respectable. She was a small woman in her mid thirties, smaller than Justin, but as dark of hair and pale of skin as he was. She looked worriedly at her son. ‘Has he been good?’ She obviously regarded Matt as an authority figure, along with the social workers and police that Justin had also brought into the house. ‘He’s doing well, Mrs Macavoy. He’s got a job off his own bat, and isn’t causing any problems. He also has a nice boyfriend …’ ‘I never knew he was gay. He hung round girls so much and there was that Jade girl who said he got her pregnant. So she was lying … the little bitch!’ There was a red spot on each pale cheek as she defended her son. ‘I knew he didn’t. He was a good boy at home. It was those friends of his, talking him out of going to school and egging him on.’ ‘If I could just get him to tidy the kitchen after he uses it …’ Matt looked at Justin, smiling at him for the first time since fostering the boy into his house. When Justin smiled back, Matt acknowledged to himself at long last that there was more to him than just a lost delinquent. How else would a boy like Nathan have fallen for him? As they left the flat with plenty of assurances that Justin would keep in touch, especially from abroad, Matt flipped his mobile and had a muttered conversation. Once in the car, they drove straight into town and headed down to Knightsbridge. ‘Where we goin’?’ Justin finally asked. ‘You need a haircut.’ ‘I do?’ ‘A proper styling. You’ve got fine thick hair and it’s just growing straight out of a crewcut. It’s messy.’ ‘You’re big into hair, then?’ Matt grinned. ‘It’s my weakness, as Andy will tell you. Justin, I am sorry. All the bad temper has not been your fault. It’s Andy. When he’s in crusade mode there’s no stopping him. He never really bothered to ask me if I was ready for a big responsibility … and you are a big responsibility. We have to house and feed you now for some time to come. We both travel a lot. More than that, Andy’s in the USA for two thirds of the year, and I’m the one on whom the whole thing will fall. He can’t take you with him when he goes. He says he asked me if it was alright, but he just assumed it was. I promise, though, I’ll come to terms with it … if you just promise not to mess my house up. Okay?’ ‘Deal,’ agreed Justin. ‘Now here we are at the best hairdressers in Europe, and you have an appointment in five minutes. I’m their favourite customer, so they could fit you in.’ Matt simply left his car outside, despite the yellow lines. Justin thought he was showing off and demonstrating he could be a bad boy too. The salon, in a converted bank, was large and busy. There was a receptionist, and as soon as Matt appeared, the owner and two acolytes emerged to hear his requirements. They looked Justin over, pursed their lips and directed him to a chair. He was uncomfortable. When he was released half an hour later, he stared gobsmacked at himself in the sheet mirrors. He looked like a male model. His hair now curled in different places than before, and looked unaccountably … right. He had been given a styled fringe that made him appear both boyish and incredibly cool. One of the acolytes was tutoring him in how to maintain the look, to which he was only half listening. The other half of his mind had fallen in love with his own reflection. Matt walked him to a neighbouring late-opening designer clothes store, and handed him over to the staff. He was kitted out in leather and denim, with great care and phenomenal expense. Then Matt drove him to a fashionable café-bar full of good-looking, well-heeled people, and sat him down behind a cappuccino. ‘So okay, what does this prove?’ Justin asked. ‘Look in the mirror and what do you see?’ ‘A very cool Justin Macavoy.’ ‘And what are other people doing?’ ‘They’re staring at us.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Cos you’re very beautiful. They had posters of you all over that barbershop.’ ‘Actually, it’s you as much as me they’re staring at, especially those girls and boys over there, because you’re beautiful too. And now the big question: Do you feel any different from the Justin Macavoy who looked in the mirror in your mum’s flat two months ago?’ ‘No, apart from the fact that I love Nathan.’ ‘So the lesson is what, Justy?’ ‘Dunno. Well … these people, they see the image you just created, not the real me. Is that what you mean?’ ‘You could put it that way. But you could also say that Justin Macavoy the chav was never more than a step away from the cool Justin sitting opposite me. He just had to find out how to take the step. And, yes, it’s the love of Nathan that did it. When you two emerged from the bathroom in my house that afternoon hand in hand, I’d never seen a more gorgeous sight in all my days. You were flushed and utterly besotted with each other. I was dead envious. You only ever get a few moments like that in your life. What I’m saying, Justy, is that the clothes and the stylists do nothing more than point out what’s already there. You’re an amazing boy, and love’s what’s bringing it into focus. Any chance you might give up smoking?’ ‘Nah.’ * * * Andy was equally gobsmacked. ‘Wow! I leave him with you for half an hour, Matt, and look what you do to him!’ ‘Justy,’ said Terry, ‘You’re amazin’. Like a boy-band star, not that you weren’t good lookin’ before, but … damn! What a bit of money can do.’ ‘Thass good, cos tonight I’ve got the toughest thing of all to do. I’m gonna meet the in-laws as Nate’s lover. Can you run me there in the big car?’ ‘What? No, I don’t do chauffeur ’cept for Andy. But Jenna will, she’s even got the Peacher uniform. I’ll have the car round for you in ten. Do they know you’re coming?’ ‘Nate said iss supper in an hour and, since he’s making it, I’m welcome. I’ll take a bag. I may stay over.’ They all waved him off from the door. The big black limousine pulled up next to Nathan’s parents’ cars. Jenna, under orders from Terry, hopped out and opened the door for Justin. The house door was already standing wide, permitting the state arrival of Justin Macavoy to be witnessed with as much amazement as amusement. Nathan kissed him on the cheek and held him round the waist. ‘Gee Justy, when did you turn into a rock god?’ Justin kissed him back with a smile, catching the troubled looks on the faces of Nathan’s father and mother at these demonstrations of homosexual intimacy by their son. A cough at his shoulder preceded a request from Jenna, who was hamming up the subservience. ‘Shall I take your bag in, Master Justin?’ Justin gave her a lopsided look. ‘Thank you, Jenna. That will be all.’ There were handshakes all round in the hall. Professor Underwood looked his son’s boyfriend over. ‘Justin, when you said you were being fostered in Highgate, I didn’t quite realise either what sort of boy you were, or who the fostering was being done by.’ Mrs Underwood gave him a cool look. ‘There’s clearly a long story ahead of us tonight. Nathan said he would not tell us till he could do it with you. But first, you two say you love each other?’ The boys took each other’s hand, almost as if looking for comfort. ‘We do,’ Nathan confirmed. ‘You’re neither of you adult yet. How seriously do you expect us to take this declaration?’ ‘It’s everything to us, Mrs Underwood,’ replied Justin. ‘I’m not going to try to convince you. You can believe us or not, but it’s real alright.’ ‘How far have you gone?’ she asked. ‘All the way,’ said Nathan, ‘We’ve been having full sex for several weeks now.’ ‘You take precautions, I hope.’ ‘Yes. We’ve not been reckless.’ ‘Justin needs to be tested for STDs.’ Justin gave her a cold stare. ‘You take it for granted that I was the one who initiated the sex.’ ‘As it happens, it was I,’ Nathan corrected, cold in his turn. ‘And we’ll both take the test. I think, mum and dad, you’d better get used to the idea that Justy and I are sexual partners, that our relationship isn’t simply going to go away. I’m not a victim here. Justy isn’t exploiting me and using me for his sexual satisfaction. I’m as sure as I can be that this is love between two men, not infatuation.’ When the Underwoods looked unhappy, Justin had the grace to feel sorry for them. This was not the way they had supposed their golden boy would turn out. First he wanted to be a gardener, then he formed a homosexual attachment to a delinquent. They went into the dining room, where Nathan sat him down between his parents while he brought in dinner. Neither of the adults seemed to have much idea what to say to Justin, despite their being a professor and a QC. He was unable to relieve their embarrassment. Eventually Nathan finished serving and invited them to eat, which they did in silence. Occasionally, one or the other cleared their throat and heads bobbed up, only to drop down to the food again. Nathan caught Justin’s eye at one point and shrugged his shoulders. As they were finishing off his ale-and-beef pie, Nathan said deliberately, ‘You look great, babe, what did they do to you?’ The endearment caused an appalled look to appear on Nathan’s father’s face, and he dropped his fork on his plate. Justin smiled faintly and gave an edited version of his visit to his mother and Matt’s decision to accept him as a foster son. ‘Point is, Matt was fighting against it. When he changed his mind, he went a bit over the top to prove the point that he was sorry, so he had me done over to look like a male model. We may ’ave to do shoots together.’ Nathan looked pleased. ‘So you did sort that problem out, Justy. I’m so proud of you. I knew you could do it. You see, mum and dad, it’s not been easy for Justin to deal with Matt and the others, but he’s come through brilliantly. He’s shown his quality, and why I love him so much.’ ‘Tell me how it was that you ended up in the care of one of the richest men in the western world, Justin,’ Mrs Underwood asked. Between them, Justin and Nathan recounted their story. Of course they left a lot of it out, but even so, it gripped the adults. By the time the tale was finished, the atmosphere had eased considerably. ‘I suppose you’ll be sleeping together tonight,’ Professor Underwood remarked. ‘Yes,’ replied his son, without any uncertainty. ‘Very well. Then so be it. We’ll just have to get used to it. Go to bed boys, Mary and I will clear the plates.’ ‘So that’s it?’ Justin wanted to know as they lay together after a vigorous bout of sex to celebrate their reunion. ‘The in-laws are happy wiv me?’ ‘I wouldn’t go quite that far, but they’re coming to terms with it. God, I love your hair, Justy, and the gear and those boots, fantastic! Think Matt will take me shopping too?’ ‘Nope, iss me who’s his special friend,’ Justin informed his lover smugly.
  6. Justin turned around slowly. ‘This is a gun,’ the voice informed him pleasantly. ‘It’s real, and I’m quite good wiv it. Though from your point of view, I guess that “good” may not be the word of your choice. Sit down there by the sink and don’t make any sudden moves.’ Justin slid hopelessly down the wall on to his backside. Who was this? Was it the industrial espionage guy again? He doubted it, although he couldn’t make out much beyond the fact that his captor was above average height and had curly hair. The man looked Justin over in the light of his torch. ‘You’re very young. Oh well, it’s a fault we’re all guilty of at sometime or other.’ He chuckled. ‘Let’s have your name, kiddo.’ ‘Justin Macavoy.’ ‘Justin, you’re trespassing. And from what I can see here, you’ve been trespassing on Matt’s property for quite a while.’ ‘How did yer know I was here?’ ‘When you took off earlier, you left a dark trail across the wet grass. Bit of a giveaway, wouldn’t you say? You’d better remember that the next time you go squatting in someone’s basement.’ ‘Who are you?’ ‘The name’s not important, it's what I do that concerns you. I’m Mr Peacher’s security chief. I always check out things very carefully when he comes to a new house, or back to an old one. You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve found. And look! I found you, Justin. ‘Okay, kid, on your feet. You’re going above stairs now.’ Suddenly he spoke to a third person, using an earpiece mic, Justin guessed. ‘Jenna! I got the rodent. You can come in now.’ ‘Do I ’ave to put me hands on me head?’ ‘Tsk. You watch too many films. Anyway, I’d never shoot you, I’d juss break your leg. I’m good with limbs, me.’ They went up the stairs and into the brightness of the kitchen. Justin blinked. A cold-faced blond woman was coming in through the outside door as he entered. ‘Sit at the breakfast bar, kid,’ the man told him. ‘Watch him, Jenna. By the way,’ he added confidentially to Justin, ‘she’s five times as dangerous as me. She’s actually killed people. I think she quite likes it.’ The bastard’s winding me up, Justin thought. I hate him. The man disappeared through the door and returned with Matthew White and Andrew Peacher. ‘You!’ exclaimed Matt. ‘You!’ exclaimed Andy. ‘You know this kid?’ asked the security guy, bemused. ‘You’ve met him?’ Matt asked Andy. ‘Yeah. I told you about him. This was that little bastard who told me to fuck off when I complimented his work in the garden last time I was here.’ ‘Oh,’ Matt responded, ‘this is one of the Two Bares. He’s that nice kid I told you about whom I found with the other one from Andersons using our bathroom.’ The security man looked from one of them to the other. ‘There seems to be a back story here and it’s getting quite intriguing. Maybe we should relax and do some serious interrogating in the lounge. Coffee, Jenna?’ ‘Mine’s white, Terry, no sugar.’ ‘Thass not quite what I meant, but okay, I’ll make ‘em. I’ll bring ‘em through.’ A grinning Terry surprised Justin by offering him a coffee too, as well as a plate of chocolate biscuits, which he deposited next to the boy. He was a very fit looking bloke, Justin observed, athletic and self-possessed to a scary degree. Justin sat there waiting for the interrogation to begin. It seemed to be down to Matt, since it was his house. ‘Justin Macavoy, we know you’ve been a non-paying tenant in my house for a week. Why?’ Justin sighed. It was back into custody and off to sodding Chelmsford, he thought glumly. ‘I’m on the run. I broke out of the secure centre in Finchley last week, cos they were fostering me out to Essex.’ Matt’s dark eyes seemed to bore into him. ‘Ah! The other of the Two Bares, the brown-haired boy from Andersons.’ ‘Like I told you the day you caught us, we’re boyfriends. They were goin’ to break us apart and I couldn’t stand that. Hiding out here wasn’t his idea, though. I talked him into helpin’ me. ‘Why were you in the centre?’ ‘Breaking a school-attendance order …’ ‘…and?’ ‘One or two ASBOs. I’m a bad lad.’ ‘We knew that,’ interjected Andy. ‘So why shouldn’t we hand you over, Justin?’ Justin grimaced, trying to figure out how to explain himself. Then, on the coffee table in front of him, he noticed a newspaper with the crossword half-completed. Picking up the pen lying beside it, he wrote across the top of the page: THIS HOUSE WAS BUGGED TWO DAYS AGO. He handed the paper to Terry. Terry pursed his lips and looked hard at him. Turning to Matt he said, ‘No argument, I see. Okay, Justin, you and me are goin’ for a little ride. We’ll see what the centre has to say. Matt and Andy, you’d better come too. You may have to make a statement. You can go to bed, Jenna, but first please bring the boy’s stuff up from the cellar.’ He handed her the paper with a significant look. Terry stood and led them all out the front door and into the car. Justin sat with Andy in the back. Terry drove them to the village, where he found a coffeehouse still open despite the hour. ‘Right, Justin, we don’t have to worry about listening devices in here. Now let’s have the full story.’ Justin told all he knew, while the three men listened intently. Andy frowned when he had finished. ‘It’s happening again, isn’t it?’ ‘Who is it this time?’ wondered Matt. ‘Anson’s still in prison.’ ‘His friends ain’t,’ Terry observed, ‘and one of them was talking about someone called Johnny, his code name. Besides, he’ll be out in a few months. Should have expected it.’ ‘What do we do with the boy?’ asked Matt. ‘I’m here, y’know,’ snapped Justin with a touch of acid. ‘Can’t let him go now,’ decided Terry, ignoring the comment. ‘We need him.’ ‘I got an idea,’ offered Andy. ‘Leave it to me.’ *** Justin woke up the next day in a guest bedroom in Matt White’s house in Highgate. His clothes and possessions, minus the camping equipment, were stacked on a sofa. The bathroom was en suite, so he showered. As he was dressing in a fresh set of Nathan’s clothes, the door was knocked. It was Terry. ‘Come on, Justin, time for breakfast, then we gotta go for a drive.’ He chomped through some Cheerios in the kitchen. At first there seemed to be no one else around. Then, with a longing lurch in his heart, he saw Nathan working in the borders, looking surreptitiously at the house. Had he found the cellar empty already? Justin stood up at the window and waited till he was glimpsed. Nathan shot up, appalled, and started towards the house. Justin urgently signalled him to go back. They were staring hopelessly at each other through the glass when Terry returned. ‘Car’s ready, criminal babe.’ ‘You’re gay too,’ Justin observed. ‘Not too hard to spot, is it?’ ‘No. Your mate Jenna, is she a butch lesbie, then?’ ‘Nope, she’s a married woman with a very lucky husband.’ Justin shook his head, gave one last longing glance into the garden where Nathan stood with a lost and indecisive expression on his face, and followed Terry out. He sat next to Terry in the front, while Matt White and Andy Peacher took the back. They drove north to Finchley. ‘So you’re turning me in, you bastards.’ ‘Wash out yer mouth, yer crude adolescent,’ Terry smilingly admonished him. They turned into the centre. Tanya was on the steps waiting, but without a security officer or a cop in evidence, which puzzled Justin no end. ‘Welcome back, Justin,’ she said with an odd, unreadable stare at him. ‘Come into the office.’ They sat round her table. She had a stack of paperwork in front of her, but not his familiar and very thick file, which again puzzled Justin, as did the sullen glower on Matt White’s exquisitely handsome face. Tanya looked hard at Andy. ‘Mr Peacher, you’re absolutely sure about this?’ ‘As I explained, Tanya, there’re special circumstances. Had you realised the boy was an active homosexual?’ ‘He hadn’t mentioned it.’ ‘As we both know, this rules out a conventional fostering, except where the family has had experience. The Chelmsford people have not, have they?’ ‘No. But your alternative, though generous, is … unexpected. I know you are a gay man in a stable relationship, and you have a good deal of background in youth care. Indeed, there’s probably no one better qualified … in theory.’ ‘Not exactly theoretical,’ Andy corrected. ‘I brought up my younger brother, who’s now also in a gay relationship. Justin will be more of a challenge, but it’s excellent experience. Mr White is happy too, aren’t you, Matt?’ Matt grunted noncommittally. ‘Will someone tell me what the fuck is goin’ on?’ demanded Justin. ‘You see the problem?’ said Tanya to Andy. ‘Could you put up with that for months on end?’ ‘We’ll have a trial period of a month.’ Tanya heaved a sigh. ‘I’ve waived some of the paperwork in light of your, well … massive experience, and of course the financial thing is out of court. But I need all this filled out, even though the reference reports are unnecessary.’ Justin was steaming. ‘The what-the-fuck-is-all-this-about question still stands, y’know.’ Tanya turned to him abruptly. ‘This is the way it stands, Justin. Mr White and Mr Peacher have offered to foster you for the time being.’ ‘Yer what?’ ‘Is this okay with you, Justin?’ He sat there with his mouth hanging open. But his mind was racing. He didn’t like either of them particularly. On the other hand, this was the only option where he could still see Nathan, or at least he hoped so. ‘Is Terry part of the package?’ ‘Where I go, so goes Terry,’ Andy replied. ‘Do I have to have anything to do with you two queers?’ Matt snapped, ‘This from you, y’little sodomite!’ Andy was more conciliatory. ‘We have responsibilities for you, but no, you're free to ignore us if that’s what you want.’ ‘Then … okay. But I gotta see Nathan, or I’d rather stay here.’ ‘Within limits you’ll be allowed to see him, but there are limits,’ Andy stated. ‘You’re not the first gay teenager I’ve brought up, y’know. So there will be rules.’ ‘Hmmph,’ grumbled Justin, but the expected expletives did not materialise. Tanya still looked troubled. ‘You’d better take him, then, along with all his possessions he left here when he broke out.’ ‘Terry’ll get them.’ They drove back, the car very quiet. Eventually Justin said what was on his mind, a thing he was always good at. ‘This is all about that bloke I saw, innit? Thass why you wanna hang on to my little butt. If iss about sex, though, I doan’ fuck for free.’ ‘I’m gonna vomit,’ snarled Matt. ‘Open the window!’ ‘Make an effort, Matt,’ Andy shot back. ‘Look, Justin,’ he continued, ‘yes it is about that bloke, so much is true, but also it’s about you. You have a need; we can fill it. I work full time with disadvantaged kids, some of them in situations so bad even you might find it difficult to believe. One day I ought to take you on a tour of the parts of Washington tourists don’t see. ‘Then there's the fact that you’re gay. It’s not common to find one as decidedly out as you are who needs fostering – or someone willing to foster them, for that matter. So give us a break, Justin. Terry’s going to drop us off at Highgate and then take you into town and get you kitted out with new clothes and stuff.’ Justin snorted. ‘So buy my happiness, why don’t you.’ ‘Is this about your happiness?’ Andy asked, silencing Justin for a moment. Then he smiled slightly. ‘We’re also going to get in touch with Nathan, and yes, you can see him. Since we’ve got to talk for a lot of reasons, we’ll be eating out tonight, all of us. We don’t want to be overheard.’ *** When Terry and Justin returned to Highgate, they were laden with armloads of bags and boxes. Terry had loved spending Andy’s money, and Andy had placed no limit on the amount. Justin hated himself for getting into it, but the size of the figures on the till receipts were exhilarating. They’d spent nine months of his mother’s income on one shopping trip. Finally he could hold his curiosity in check no longer. ‘How wealthy is Andy Peacher?’ ‘Iss not worth even thinking about, Justy,’ Terry replied, adopting unconsciously Nathan’s name for him. In spite of everything, Justin decided he liked Terry. They seemed to recognise a kindred spirit in each other; they both smelled of the street. ‘Does he have houses, jets, yachts and stuff?’ ‘No, he uses his father’s, though he rents a mansion in northern Virginia.’ ‘Are you his butler or something?’ Terry laughed. ‘I have done the buttling thing once or twice, but no, I’m his chief-of-staff. I also supervise his younger brother Pete, who’s a student at Yale. Not that we see too much of him at the moment. I hired a minder for him who works to me.’ ‘How much does Andy pay you?’ ‘I receive in one year more than my father earns in five. I could retire tomorrow, but I like the work too much.’ ‘How old are you?’ ‘Not much older than you, criminal babe. Young, innit?’ Justin gave him a superior smirk. ‘You seems pretty ancient to me. Thought you wuz forty or something.’ For the first time in a long while, Terry looked disconcerted. ‘Why did you make me get this?’ Justin held up a bag containing full evening dress, which he had been secretly pleased to try on. Although Terry didn’t tell him so, he looked quite sensational in it, too, despite its being off the peg. ‘Matt and Andy go out a lot, and you may have to go with ‘em.’ ‘Sucks.’ ‘In fact, we gotta return to the States in a few weeks, so you’ll have to get used to travelling.’ Now Justin was interested. ‘The States? Like in America?’ ‘Yeah. You got a passport?’ ‘Passport? I never even left Norff London!’ ‘Damn, another job to do. That one sounds difficult too. I’ll pass it on to Dave.’ *** At the Highgate house, Nathan was waiting in the hall, in his socks. They looked at each other and, conscious of being watched, weren’t sure what to do. Then Nathan caught Justin’s eye, licked his lips and smiled hesitantly. That was it. Justin was in his arms and kissing him deeply. He saw Andy’s smile, but didn’t resent it. He was too caught up in his lover’s warmth and in sucking the tongue in his mouth. They broke off and held hands. ‘I rang mum to tell her I’m on a sleepover in Highgate with my friend Justin and his foster parent.’ ‘Was she okay?’ ‘Not until I told her who the foster parent is. Of course, once she puts two and two together she’ll make four, and then she’ll know what sort of friends you and I are.’ ‘Do you mind?’ ‘No. I only hope they’re grown up enough now to be able to accept it. It’d have to happen one day. I know what I am, Justy.’ ‘I know what you are too, Nate.’ They separated. Terry sent them upstairs, where Justin spent a while showing Nathan his new gear. ‘But,’ he said seriously, ‘I want to keep your old stuff. It’s great just knowing it was once on your body. Gives me a continual hardon.’ ‘Justy, a breath of wind on your crotch gives you a hardon.’ They chuckled. There came a knock on the door and they looked around. ‘In here,’ called Dave the PA, directing delivery men with boxes. ‘Wassis?’ asked Justin. ‘Status goods for the young master,’ said Dave dryly. He also choreographed the arrival of a new work desk, which was placed under the window. ‘Sarky git,’ snarled Justin under his breath as Dave left. The two boys looked at the boxes, which turned out to contain a computer, DVD player, PS2, sound system and TV. Justin shrugged helplessly at Nathan. They spent the next half hour setting up and connecting everything. Nathan tidied away the plastic and cardboard debris in the biggest box and put it on the landing outside, a courtesy that had not immediately occurred to Justin. The bedroom smelled of unpacked electronics, but when the new clothes were hung and the new shoes lined up, it began to look lived in. Justin started to sort through his old clothes, but in the end simply dumped them all in the box of rubbish on the landing. His CDs, however, he piled on the desk. He was no different from anyone else. New possessions made him happy and he had been given a place to be himself. He smiled shyly at his lover. ‘Ain’t I a poster boy for the middle class, Nate?’ ‘Let’s take control of the kitchen, Justy.’ They thudded down the stairs and occupied the kitchen the way only adolescent boys can do, excavating the fridge, spreading debris everywhere, leaving packets of bread open and biscuits spilling out of their paper tubes. Matt wandered in, saw the mess, grimaced and left after saying, ‘You’re going to clear that up, I hope? I don’t employ a housekeeper.’ Terry popped his head round the door a bit later. ‘I’ll have a tea if you’re making one. Two sugars.’ ‘You’re a fixture already, Justy.’ Nathan grinned, adding, ‘You like Terry, don’t you?’ ‘He’s cool for an old guy. Also he’s a really dangerous bloke. He’s got a gun in a holster, just like a gay James Bond.’ ‘James Bond was gay. All that frantic laying of gorgeous women was massive overcompensation for sexual uncertainty.’ ‘You think?’ ‘That’s always been my opinion. He was in denial, unlike Terry. I’ll put the kettle on.’ They took a mug to Terry, who was busy hoovering out the car, then sat companionably with him while he drank it. ‘Can we be overheard by the bugs out here, Terry?’ ‘Just been sweeping the car in more ways than one, me babes. It’s clear, and we’re out of range of the house pickups. Can you show me later where in the cellar they put the transmitter, Justy?’ ‘Sure. We’ve been very careful what we’ve been saying inside.’ ‘You’re good lads. How you feeling, Justy?’ ‘Weird. It must be like winnin’ the lottery. Suddenly I’m livin’ the life of a millionaire.’ ‘Don’t get used to it.’ ‘Wasn’t goin’ to, Terry. I may run away in a bit. I’m good at that.’ ‘What were you two planning on doing if I hadn’t found you?’ Nathan chipped in. ‘We were going to get Justy a bedsit and a job, and live together as much as we could. One day when I’d finished at Hornsey College, maybe we’d go off to my family’s place in Suffolk and be gardeners or something.’ ‘That’s sweet. Okay, time to show me the transmitter … but be nonchalant. Pretend we’re stacking all the packaging from your room down there.’ *** At seven they piled into the car and drove downtown. Andy liked eating at the celebrity Poivre Vert restaurant, in one of the small byways north of Oxford Street near the BBC. Justin was uncomfortable in a new blue shirt and black suit, wearing polished leather shoes for the first time in his life. He'd had his hair gelled up by Nathan, who squeezed his hand and told him he was so cool. Although Nathan was in his ordinary casuals, he looked as good as always. The big car pulled up and Terry hopped out to open the door. ‘You first, teen babes,’ he ordered. ‘Why?’ ‘Cos that’s security. I cover Andy when he comes out last and your bodies are a useful screen.’ ‘You’re kidding!’ Justin gasped, standing up next to him. ‘We’re expendable? Well thank you very much, Terry.’ ‘Iss me that takes the bullet for him!’ There was a long queue at the door, but Mr Peacher’s party ignored it and walked straight in, past – as Justin noted – two soap stars and a news presenter. A table was waiting for them, candles lit. Smart young waiters swarmed round them, taking their coats and explaining the menu. The owner came out to shake hands, tell bad jokes and offer useful suggestions as to the meal and wine. Both boys were gobsmacked. Nathan whispered, ‘Justy, did you see the price of the claret Andy ordered?’ ‘At that price, it had better be good.’ ‘At that price, I’d drink it whether it was good or not. I’d think of it as liquid wealth. What you having?’ ‘A coke, chicken sandwich and chips.’ ‘No, really.’ ‘Do I look like I’m joking?’ Matt turned to him. ‘The coke you can have. The meal you’ll eat from the menu.’ ‘Get as stuffed as that olive, Matthew,’ snarled Justin, reverting to his long-absent sneer. Nathan looked unhappy. ‘Justy … please.’ Justin stared hard at Matt. ‘Sorry.’ He didn’t seem in the least repentant. He did let Nathan order for him, however. The starters were small but succulent, the cuisine French. Justin became interested after the first bite. He leaned towards Nathan to comment, ‘Garlic, Nate. You know what that means in the morning.’ ‘I’ll shove a bung up your bum.’ ‘Ooh. I’d love that.’ They fell about, to the bemusement of the others. Nathan tutored Justin through the ritual of a restaurant meal, and they were soon wrapped up in their own little adolescent world of jokes and innuendo, ignoring the adults. Terry and Andy were smiling indulgently at them, while Matt looked on in sullen disapproval. When the desserts were being served, Andy called the boys to order. Justin perked up and listened, which was new and encouraging. ‘We’ve got to let you two in on some family secrets, so you understand what we think’s going on here. I’m sure you’ll know not to repeat it. Now. There was once a wicked stepmother …’ ‘I know this one!’ Justin crowed. ‘She tries to get some huntsmen to kill her husband’s kid, who instead ends up in a crummy cottage with a bunch of lower-class types like me. Anyway, stepmum tries to poison the kid, but a handsome prince kisses the kid and wakes her up.’ ‘Spot on, apart from the fact that the kid was a he, not a she, and I was the kid in question.’ ‘Wha … you’re saying this is a true story?’ ‘I once had a stepmother who tried to do away with me. First she set the worst elements of the British press on me while I was a student. Then, when she had me in the States, she plotted to get me hooked on drink and drugs, and so destroy me. Fortunately, a handsome prince with a magic sword came and saved me with a kiss … literally.’ He looked at Matt with an expression of pure devotion, and for once even Justin couldn’t think of anything flippant to say. ‘The magic sword was a dossier of incriminating documents that proved what she’d done. If they’d ever got out, they’d have made her liable to a long time in prison. Unfortunately, she didn’t give up. She employed some very dangerous types to track down the dossier. Terry had to defend it, which he did very bravely, even though he failed. She took a contract out on him, and nearly succeeded in killing him and some other friends too. ‘In the end, she was defeated because my dad’s internal security team tracked her down and broke her influence in Peacher Corp. Terry had a starring role again. So she’s my ex-stepmom.’ ‘… and in prison?’ ‘No. She’s currently US ambassador to Thailand. People like her rarely end up in prison.’ ‘Is she after you again?’ ‘We don’t think so. She loves being an ambassador, and my dad’s got her on a tight leash now. He could destroy her with a single phone call. No, we think this is a consequence of Terry’s genius. He took out her entire strike team in one go. They were in a high security prison near Doncaster when last heard of, but their leader, a supreme git called Mike Anson, is close to release. I suspect he plans to deal out a revenge on Terry and me.’ ‘Go to the police,’ advised Nathan simply. ‘Nah, Nate. They can’t do that,’ Justin contradicted instinctively. ‘If they did, Andy would blow his dad’s control over the stepmother, and a lot else would come out that he’d rather did not, am I right?’ ‘In one, Justy,’ agreed Andy, using Nathan’s affectionate name for his lover without thinking. Justin found he didn’t mind. He noticed Terry giving him an appraising look, almost as if to acknowledge something kindred in the boy. ‘What you gonna do?’ Justin asked with some interest. ‘As usual with Anson, he’s trusting in high tech and forgetting about people. He’s not aware we know we’re bugged, so we’ll be on our guard, which he doesn’t expect. What we don’t know is his purpose in planting the bug. He may be after information, material for blackmail or sale, or he may want to eliminate Terry, who he thinks of as his greatest enemy. He may want to get me and Matt too, or just me or just Matt. We don’t know.’ ‘Nice of you to foster me into a house being targeted by a master criminal.’ Terry answered that one in a quiet voice. ‘I’m pretty sure you can take as good care of yourself as I can, criminal babe. You live on the edge, Justy. Iss my world too.’ Andy concluded, ‘So, my dears, we will sit tight and mind what we say around the house for a few days or so. Terry will get to work – and believe me, he’s quite something. Anson fears him as much as he hates him, and he’s right to do so. Terry also has a team, and a good one, of whom Jenna is only one – though perhaps the scariest. We will know a lot more in three weeks’ time when we return to Virginia for a bit.’ ‘Virginia?’ wondered Justin. ‘Dave has the forms for your passport. He’s already been to get your mum’s consent. Now all we need are the official fostering papers, which’ll be faxed tomorrow … oh, and a nice photo.’ ‘Cool!’ Andy smiled at him, and Justin finally gave in and smiled back. ‘Thanks, Andy.’ ‘My pleasure, Justy.’ They exited to a flash and flare of paparazzi cameras. Justin was stunned. ‘Do they follow you two everywhere?’ ‘No,’ answered Matt. ‘They were following two of the latest Big Brother microstars, who’re inside. We’re just an extra dividend for the paps. Hope you smiled. You’ll be in Gay Universe or Hello next week.’ ‘Awesome!’ ‘Scary.’
  7. ‘You look a bit preoccupied,’ Nathan observed, coming up behind Justin at the bus stop. ‘Do I?’ ‘You alright, Justy?’ ‘Me … sure, fine.’ ‘Whassup?’ ‘Nothing … look, I’ll tell you later, okay? No nagging. I saw what my first stepdad did to my mum to stop her nagging him, so back off.’ ‘Fine. No probs. Here’s the bus.’ During the bus ride, Justin tried not to be moody, but it wasn’t working. By the time they had walked up from the Green to Harlesden Lodge, as Nathan’s home was called, they were quite silent. Nathan was not going to intrude on his friend’s space, once told not to. Unused to this sort of consideration from his friends, Justin was especially grateful. Once through the front door, however, Nathan had important things to discuss. ‘So here we are in the ancestral home, and first we have to have sex. Frankly, I want it here in the hall, although on the stairs would be okay, but I want it now and I want you in me.’ He stripped in record time, and Justin noticed he had worn no underpants. Nathan put himself on all fours in the middle of the floor, looking back over his shoulder and grinning. ‘Condom and lube are on the side table. Make it slow, Justy.’ Justin was inside him within sixty seconds. ‘You sexy son of a bitch, you’re really gettin’ off doin’ it here,’ he growled, kissing and licking his lover’s neck and shoulders. Timing himself by the loud tick of the big hall clock, he began a slow humping that he kept going almost till his knees gave out. After Justin couldn’t hold back anymore, they collapsed on the marble floor, but didn’t stay there too long. It was cold. Gathering up clothes and gear, they scampered up to Nathan’s room and bounced on the bed, where Nathan took his turn. ‘So tell me about last night,’ invited Nathan as they lay together afterwards in a close embrace. Justin obliged with a detailed account of the midnight adventure. Nathan got up on his elbow and listened intently. ‘What do you suppose was going on, Justy?’ ‘I’ve been thinking about it all night. I didn’t get to sleep till five-thirty. It’s surveillance, innit? I’ve watched enough telly to know that. So if Matthew White’s the target, then it’s gotta be industrial espionage.’ He rolled out the phrase with some enjoyment. Nathan nodded. ‘I can’t see what else it might be. They’re spying on his media business … looks like it’s going to be long-term surveillance, too, the amount of time and effort they put into it. They sound like professionals. Shouldn’t we tell him?’ ‘Duh … so I goes up there as soon as he gets back, knock on the cellar door and say, “Scuse me, Mr White, but I’ve been living in your basement for a week, and these guys came when I was there and fitted spy stuff all over your house, sorry to bovver you and I’ll get back to my sleeping bag now, and by the way I’m wanted by the police for breaking out of a secure centre.”’ ‘But he was nice to us when he caught us that day. We owe him.’ ‘I know, I know. We’ll have to think about it. Maybe on Thursday when you do his garden, you can say something to him or that Dave bloke in the garage, something that’ll make them suspicious and lead them to look at the cellars.’ ‘That might do it, Justy, but it’ll have to be a good story, won’t it? And if they search the cellars they’ll find Justy’s nest too, won’t they?’ ‘Sure will.’ ‘Tonight, at least, you sleep here with me, babe. You’re joining the sleep-over set. I told mum that my friend Justin from Highgate will be spending the night. She said it’s okay as long as your mum knows.’ Justin snorted. ‘I hope you told her that’s not a problem.’ ‘Yup. What’ll we do now?’ ‘I’d like you to show me your garden, Nate.’ Justin could not have said anything that would have brought a bigger smile to his lover’s face. He knew it too. He wanted to make it happen, having learned that love is a two-way process. His soul was awakening. They spent an hour viewing Nathan’s work and hearing about his future plans. His enthusiasm made him such a compelling speaker that Justin was not in the least bored. Even if he was not listening to everything said, he was drinking in Nathan’s sparkling eyes and animated face. At one point he just stopped Nathan and closed mouths with him. Nathan grinned. ‘What’s that for?’ ‘I just love you so much, Nate. I’d do anyfing for you, anyfing.’ ‘Wow. Thanks. And I love you too, my chavvy babe.’ ‘Chavvy babe! You’re a git!’ ‘Street trash!’ ‘Snobby bastard!’ ‘Er … evil, lower-class person!’ ‘Well, that sort of fits. Come on, tell me about the prize you won for that pergola thing.’ * * * They were playing computer games when the large silver Jaguar belonging to Nathan’s father rolled up outside the house. Justin peered down on the drive. Professor Underwood was a tall, well-built man in his early forties. He was wearing academic uniform of sports jacket and open-necked shirt, and had a laptop case slung around his neck. He looked preoccupied about something as he locked his car. ‘Come on, Justy. Time to meet dad. Don’t worry if he seems a bit vague. He’s always like that.’ ‘I never met a professor before.’ ‘They’re much like anyone else. Just don’t ask him about superconductors unless you’ve got five hours to spare. Also keep off the subject of his colleagues.’ ‘Wasn’ goin’ to mention it.’ They found him in the hall as they came down the stairs. ‘Hey, dad.’ Nathan hugged his father and received a kiss in return, much to Justin’s astonishment. ‘Hi son … is this Justin?’ He offered his hand to the boy, who hesitantly shook it, not knowing what to say. ‘What time’s supper?’ ‘Whenever mum gets back. Will you be in the study?’ ‘Uh huh. See you later, Justin … you too, son.’ He disappeared through a side door. ‘I see what you mean.’ ‘Kitchen, then.’ ‘You do the meals? ‘Oh yeah. Dad’s not safe in the kitchen and mum’s always last home. I started doing the evening meal when I was fourteen. If I hadn’t taken responsibility, it would have been mostly takeaways. Besides, I like getting together with them round the table. They’re very interesting people as well as being my mum and dad. He pointed to a pan. ‘If you’ll fill that with water and get it boiling, I’ll ring mum and see if I can get an estimated time of arrival.’ An hour later, Nathan and Justin had produced quite an elaborate Italian meal, with crispy garlic bread, salad and wine. Nathan lit tall candles on the dining-room table, which had been laid with formal place settings. Justin was becoming more and more alarmed. ‘Just follow my lead,’ Nathan reassured him. ‘The pair of them never notice anything anyway. You could come in naked and it wouldn’t register.’ ‘It sounds like you’re the adult and they’re the kids.’ ‘Sometimes feels like that, but they’re okay, really. I love them to bits. They hated holidays, but they took me on them when I was a kid. They really do try to be good parents. It’s quite sweet.’ ‘You make them sound lovely.’ ‘That’s ‘cos they are.’ The clunk of a car door heralded the arrival of Nathan’s mother, who called out when she came through the hall. Nathan shouted a greeting back. Justin brought in the salad as Nathan retrieved his parents and got them seated. Mrs Underwood gave Justin a warm smile and said hello again, then thanked him for helping Nathan in the kitchen. As Nathan began interrogating the elder Underwoods about their days, Justin sat trying to look at ease but feeling woeful. He desperately wanted out. He did not like this dining round a table, preferring to grab his food and eat it watching the TV. Sooner or later, it had to happen, and it did. ‘So, Justin,’ said Mrs Underwood, whom he had to call Mary, ‘what do your parents do?’ Somehow, Justin had guessed that these were people who would want to locate him socially. Not entirely sure how to lie his way out of this one, he decided to try the truth for a change. ‘Me mum and me live on our own. I’ve never seen me dad.’ ‘Oh. Er … does your mother work?’ ‘Oh yeah … on the tills at Tescos on Seven Sisters Road.’ ‘Ah,’ but the lawyer in her wasn’t going to give up, ‘I thought Nathan said you live in Highgate.’ ‘Oh, I’m bein’ sort of fostered at the moment. Just seein’ how it’ll work out.’ Professor Underwood looked from Justin to his wife, smiling a little wickedly. ‘Teach you to be nosy, Mary.’ Nathan gave a muffled laugh. ‘You two really think you’re so clever,’ she huffed. They laughed openly. Professor Underwood, whom Justin had to call Robert, turned to him. ‘Mary loves to interrogate Nathan’s friends. She can’t help herself, putting them on the witness stand as if they were at the Old Bailey. You just gave her a bigger mouthful than she could chew for the first time in her life. She daren’t look disapproving because that wouldn’t be liberal of her, and she so prides herself on being liberal.’ Mary Underwood twirled her glass of wine while looking coolly at the three males around her table. She informed them loftily, ‘I hate all three of you.’ They all erupted, and from then on Justin felt at home. He caught the happiness in Nathan’s eyes and was happy back. They sat round the table for another hour, but it didn’t seem that long to Justin. The adults talked about law and society, and almost despite himself, he was soon chipping in with observations from his side of the wire fence. They listened to him, then argued back, genuinely interested in drawing out his point of view. He didn’t feel patronised at all. They didn’t even mind that he lost his temper once and said a rude word. He was almost sorry when Nathan started stacking the plates and shifting them into the kitchen. He helped, and the pair kissed when they were out of sight of Nathan’s parents. ‘It’s no wonder I love you, Justy,’ Nathan told him with a happy smile. ‘Dinner tonight was the bravest thing you’ve done in your life. They love you too. One day I’ll have to tell them we’re sleeping together. Maybe, when that time comes, this’ll help them deal with it.’ They filled the dishwasher, set it going, said goodnight to the parents and took themselves back to Nathan’s bedroom. They lay naked on his bed, fondling each other intimately while watching a DVD. Then, without feeling it necessary to have more active sex, they got into bed, kissed and went to sleep. The following morning, Nathan woke to a catastrophic fart from Justin that more or less lifted the duvet. It woke its perpetrator too. ‘Jesus,’ he complained through a yawn, ‘talk about gas. I shoulda warned yer about me and garlic.’ ‘Lemme out of here.’ Justin chased him into the bathroom. They showered together, washing each other’s hair as they kissed. Nathan threw Justin a pair of fresh boxers and put on a robe. Although it was early enough that the adults were not yet up, Nathan had to get dressed for work. ‘Mr Anderson’ll be here for me in half an hour. He’d better not see you, Justy. What you gonna do for the rest of the day?’ ‘I’ll head back to Highgate and me hideout, and chill out till I see you tomorrow, Nate me mate.’ ‘Can’t wait.’ ‘Issa date.’ ‘Shurrup.’ *** It was still only eight when Justin reached the side lane and swarmed over the wall into the garden. The curtains of the garage flat were drawn, so someone was back, if not awake. He quickly dashed to the cellar window and shot inside, where he sat on his bedding to ponder the surveillance problem long and hard. He and Nathan had got no further with it, and he could not see any way out. The sound of music from upstairs gave him a jolt. Then he heard footsteps, which seemed to belong to more than one person. Matthew White was back, and maybe the little blond bloke … what was his name? Peacher, that was it. He lay low all day, thoroughly bored. He never read and all he had was his ancient CD player. He didn’t even dare smoke, because the scent of tobacco carried, as he well knew. Despite its being an overcast day, he glimpsed people in the garden, several of them. To make things worse, the house itself was busy, which destroyed the peace of his little refuge and indeed made it perilous. The pipes knocked and hissed with running water and descending sewage. He seemed to have swopped detention in the secure home for self-imprisonment in a waterworks. By eight that evening the sun had set. Justin was then in such a state of nerves that he had to escape or scream, which would have been a dead giveaway. He crawled up out of the depths and knelt down next to the wall. Although the garage at least was dark, the house above him was fully illuminated, with squares of light shining from the windows to pattern the lawn. The night was chilly and the sky was scattered with light clouds. Occasionally he could hear snatches of conversation drift down. Once someone stood for quite a while at the kitchen window immediately above him. He felt his way among the fuchsias and dwarf conifers in the border nearest the house. Then he was off along a stretch of open lawn, running low, to reach the right part of the wall. He was over and out, breathing heavily as he sat on the rubble pile, where he lit up and inhaled with relief. Then he had another. For the next couple of hours he wandered the streets aimlessly until the cold and loneliness got to him. The distant church clock struck the midnight hour as he returned to the lane. He straddled the top of the wall. There was still an upstairs light on in the house, but everything else was dark and quiet. He dropped softly into the border and edged out on to the grey lawn. The cloud cover over the Thames basin was breaking up, revealing a full moon sailing through a sky scattered with ghostly floating islands. Its silvery glow was bright enough to glitter on the heavy fall of dew and throw a shadow in front of Justin, who did not notice the dark trail his feet left in the moisture on the grass as he walked briskly back to his hiding place. With relief he slid down into the dark of the cellar and dropped to the floor, only to become ominously aware that he was not alone. A light snapped on and a young man’s voice greeted him. ‘Evening, mate.’
  8. They woke together again in the cellar to the distant peel of church bells. Justin kissed Nathan and asked, ‘How’re you feeling?’ ‘Bit of a headache, Justy, but I’ll be okay.’ Justin snuggled into his lover’s warm body, enjoying the sensation of safety and peace. Nathan kissed his head repeatedly. He fondled Nathan’s morning erection for a few minutes, then dived down to close his warm mouth on it. He took his time, until eventually Nathan shifted, arched and fountained in his mouth. Justin brought his tousled head back up, licking his lips. ‘Mmm. Thass breakfast sorted. Now I just need some exercise.’ Laughing, Nathan opened the sleeping bag. He pulled back his legs and Justin got to work on his crack and hole. Nathan was soon sighing, rubbing his chest and sucking his lips. Justin did the necessary, climbed up on him, engaged with his mouth and pushed steadily into him as Nathan moaned out his passion. ‘Keep it going as long as you can, Justy. Make it a long, long fuck.’ A considerable sweaty time later, Justin gave a muffled yell and pumped his load inside his lover, falling on to him gasping. Nathan held him tight. ‘God, that was the best, my Animal. Ooh, you put a love bite on my shoulder.’ Justin looked up at him seriously. ‘Do one in the same place on me, lover.’ Nathan complied, licking all over Justin’s upper torso, savouring the salt of his sweat. They cuddled and drifted off again. When they woke for the second time at ten, Nathan put Justin on his knees and took him vigorously from behind. After a little breakfast, Justin returned the favour the same way. It was early in the afternoon before they were exhausted from their sex play, rutting continuously like the strong and hormonal boys they were. Nathan finally said, ‘We stink, Justy, and the bag’s soaked with sweat. Our personal hygiene’s going downhill fast. What’s more, I need a crap.’ ‘I know … I felt a turd in you when we screwed, just didn’t want to say.’ Nathan stared, faintly disgusted, into Justin’s laughing face. They stood in the big sink together and soaped one another thoroughly, gasping at the cold water which was all they had. They took turns kneeling down so they could shampoo each other’s hair. When they finished, Nathan handed Justin some more of his clothes and they got dressed. They looked out of their refuge into the quiet garden. No one could be seen or heard in the garage flat. ‘We’ll just have to risk it,’ decided Nathan. They swarmed through the window and shot across the lawn into the bushes, pausing to take a breather before slipping over the wall. They found a public loo in Muswell Hill Gardens where they could relieve the anxiety in their bowels. Feeling much better, they wandered off to eat a late lunch of panini, cake and coffee in a High Street café. When he saw that smoking was not allowed, Justin simply shrugged. He was becoming settled into his new style, and if anyone had been told that he was an A Level student at a local college, the information would have been accepted without a raised eyebrow. ‘Time to plan next week, Justy. I got a good idea for tomorrow and Tuesday. Since I gave up college last week to be with you, I’m taking the next two days out of work. I can do college in the morning and meet up with you afterwards. My parents are at work till late, so we can sneak home and get you properly clean and fed …’ ‘… and shag in a real bed.’ ‘That too. We can also wash your clothes and get you some more stuff. I love your new look. How do you like it?’ ‘Iss okay, but me mum wouldn’t recognise me. I felt everybody was lookin’ at me to begin wiv, but we match and thass good. It makes us less obvious. Iss a disguise, cos I’m on the run, inn I.’ They agreed to meet up on Muswell Hill Broadway at one-thirty. * * * That night, Justin was on his own for the first time in the cellar under Matt White’s house. With no warm body and light breathing beside him, he was lonelier than he had been for a long time. The wind got up in the night, causing the old house to creak and crack. Time and again as he was dozing off he would snap awake, wondering if he heard footsteps on the floors above him. But there was nothing. The house was empty still. The next morning he stayed curled up in bed, disconsolate. When he finally got up he found the camping stove uncooperative and was forced to go without coffee. Since Nathan was not there, he had a smoke instead. He washed, dressed in yesterday’s kit, and headed out, taking with him a shoulder bag full of dirty clothes. Sneaking cautiously around the garden, he reached the garage office. It was empty, and he was pretty sure the upstairs flat was too. Good news, he thought, more or less certain that Dave and his big mate were gone away. He was waiting by the bus shelters when Nathan appeared, beaming happily. Justin’s heart leaped. He had never in his life so wanted to see and be near another human being. Nathan set him tingling with physical excitement, and – strangely – he knew he did the same to Nathan. The idea that he was loved by such a lovable boy stirred strange sensations in him. He felt he was not worth it. Wishing he could kiss the boy in the street, instead he had to be satisfied by Nathan’s arm casually thrown over his shoulder in a mate-like way. They queued for the Winchmore Hill bus. ‘So I never asked you, Nate. What does your dad do?’ ‘He’s an academic. Works at Imperial studying superconductors.’ ‘Glad I asked, and how about your mum?’ ‘A civil-rights lawyer in the Upper Temple.’ ‘Wow … no wonder they were a bit off about you leaving school.’ ‘Yeah, I had to use my pocket money to retain mum to defend me against dad. It was hairy for a while. They expected me to try for university and become a professional like them …’ ‘… and instead you became a gardener’s boy and fell in love with a petty criminal. I can see where they might think you did the wrong thing.’ ‘Seems the right thing to me … oops, there’s a copper coming this way. Look innocent.’ The policeman strolled by without a glance. If he had stopped it would only have been because Nathan went rigid and red and kept looking guiltily at him. When he had passed, Justin tugged Nathan’s sleeve and murmured, ‘I think we’ll ’ave to do some work on this looking innocent thing, Nate.’ ‘I don’t have your brass neck, Justy. You were scary awesome that night in Camden. Wish I could be like you.’ Justin looked very serious. ‘Please doan’ ever say that again, Nate. Doan’ ever wanna be like me. I prefer you as you.’ The bus came and they were dropped at Winchmore Hill Green. Nathan led the way up a leafy street lined with townhouses, which soon gave way to even bigger houses set well back off the verge. Eventually they came to the biggest one of all, with lawns and a whole grove of trees towards the road. It was stuccoed and painted white, and if Justin had known anything about architecture he would have recognised that it was a lot older than the surrounding suburban houses. ‘Christ, iss a palace. You live ’ere?’ ‘You might comment on the garden, Justy.’ ‘Iss beautiful. Do you do it?’ ‘Yup.’ Nathan looked pleased and proud. ‘All those beds I put in with my mum when I was ten, together with that shrubbery along the side. They’ve matured nicely. Around the back you’ll see my award-winning pergola. It’s a pity it’s too late in the year to admire my azalia hedge.’ ‘You’re amazing!’ Nathan laughed and opened the big front door. Inside was a large, pillared hall with a Regency staircase. ‘How long ’ave you lived here?’ ‘All my life, and it’s been in the family since … oh I don’t know, Queen Victoria at least. My dad’s dad left it to him, but my uncle got the rest of the estate.’ Justin’s ears pricked up. ‘… rest of the estate?’ ‘Come over here, Justy, and meet granddad.’ They walked through tall doors into a gorgeous drawing room, where a hawk-faced old man in some sort of blue uniform and silk robes stared disapprovingly down on Justin from an oil portrait over the marble chimneypiece. ‘That’s granddad at the time he was lord lieutenant of Middlesex, when they gave him the order of St Michael and St George. Justy … meet Sir Lewis Philip Augustus Underwood, seventh baronet.’ ‘You’re a lord?’ ‘No, it’s my Uncle Phil who has the title. He lives on the country estate in Suffolk.’ ‘Why didn’t you tell me this?’ ‘Does it matter?’ ‘It does if you’re rich.’ ‘We’re well off, not because of family money, but because of dad. He’s made a fortune setting up his own research companies. He’s really clever … not like me. I’m more like Uncle Phil, who’s a country gentleman through and through. He wants me to go out to Suffolk and run his market garden and garden centre when I finish at Hornsey College. Anyway, enough about me. Let’s get to the laundry.’ Nathan took a wondering Justin back out through the hall to some narrow passages and into a corridor of utility rooms looking out on to an extensive back garden. A tennis court and swimming pool could be seen to one side. ‘Okay, strip off, Justy.’ Justin complied, though in the circumstances he felt strangely exposed. Nathan bundled his clothes into a washing machine, along with the other dirty items in the backpack, added softener and powder, and set the programme going. Nathan slapped his forehead. ‘Oh dear, here you are quite naked. If I’d thought about it, I could have had some fresh clothes ready for you. As it is, you’ll just have to follow me bare-arsed through the entire house. I hope you don’t feel embarrassed.’ A laughing Justin hurled himself on Nathan and wrestled him to the floor. Holding him down, Justin began pulling off his clothes, meeting only minimal resistance, until he had stripped his lover as bare as he was. They padded hand in hand back through the house, pausing in the hall to kiss. Then Nathan scampered up the stairs and into his bedroom on the first floor, Justin chasing after him, amused at the way his cock and balls swung between his legs as he ran. It was so, so sexy. ‘Wow.’ Justin stopped on the threshold to admire the large room with its double bed and sofa under the windows. At one end was a desk and computer, at the other a door into a proper bathroom. There were potted plants and flower arrangements everywhere. Nathan pulled Justin on to the bed. ‘Look, Justy. I was inspired by your attitude. I went into the pharmacy near work and got a whole tube of lube and a big box of johnnies. I didn’t flinch, and the lady who served me even gave me a big smile.’ ‘My hero!’ exclaimed Justin. They put the equipment to good use, Justin inviting his lover to ride him hard, and taking a lavish sucking off as his reward. Afterwards they showered together. Nathan came out of the bathroom to open his fitted wardrobe and begin throwing clothes on to the bed. ‘Let’s try you with these knitted tops, babe. They’ll look great on you. I grew so fast last winter that half this lot don’t fit me. Some of it I hardly wore before I grew out of it. Then there’re these jeans and even … wow, try on these shoes. They must be your size.’ After scrambling into the items Nathan had selected, Justin stared at himself in the big mirror. ‘Do I really look like this?’ he asked, half to himself. Nathan, still nude, held him round the waist. ‘You’re every bit as beautiful as I told you, even with clothes on. And yes, you do look like this. Clothes make the man – or, in your case, boy – and boy, do they make you handsome. You may not be a hunk, Justy, but you’ve got a fantastic arse and a good figure. That chav crap you wore only made you look anonymous. Dressed like this, you’re somebody. ‘Here are three extra outfits for you, which’ll do till Thursday when Andersons next drops me off at Mr White’s house. I can bring you more stuff then.’ He filled the backpack again. ‘Now let me get dressed and we can go chill downstairs.’ They went to the kitchen, where Nathan had a stack of essential supplies ready on the table. One of the items was a new mobile. ‘It’s fully topped up and we can reach each other in emergencies, can’t we?’ ‘Or just talk dirty.’ ‘That too,’ Nathan agreed. They watched TV lying together on a sofa, talking, laughing and kissing a lot. At tea time, Nathan made them a hefty meal, which left Justin feeling euphoric and absolutely stuffed. They ate it in the big Provençal-style kitchen. ‘With fancy digs like these, how can you wanna come and live wiv me in a grotty bedsit?’ Justin wondered. ‘Cos it’s the only way I can be happy in life, Justy. Near you.’ ‘You’re giving up an awful lot.’ ‘Perhaps so, but I think I’m gaining a lot more. ’Sides, one day soon I have to leave home in any case and go out into the world. I can’t be a kid forever. This way, I’ll go hand in hand with someone I love, and who loves me. But we gotta get you sorted first, in that bedsit of our dreams. I think we should try the agencies and newsagents’ windows in Finchley first. I made a list from the yellow pages last night when I was missing you.’ ‘You could try the web. You can find anyfing on there ... so they say. Never yet been on it meself.’ At that moment a car pulled into the drive. Nathan shot up. ‘Christ, of all the days for her to be early, she picks today. Damn! There’s no escape. Upstairs with me, quick.’ They raced up to the bedroom, where Nathan hastily finished packing Justin’s bag for him. ‘Okay, lover, be as cool as you always are. You’re my mate Justin from college, doing … I dunno.’ ‘GNVQ in criminal behaviour?’ Nathan gave a boyish, gurgling chuckle. ‘Perfect!’ They came nonchalantly down the stairs as Mrs Underwood entered the hall, throwing her car keys into a basin on a side table by the door. Justin looked her over. She was very like her son in colouring, but elegant and willowy in build. She had a nice face, kind and humorous. She gave an abstracted smile as she saw them. ‘Hello dear, I don’t know your friend.’ ‘Hi mum. This is Justin from the college.’ ‘Hello Justin. Are you doing the horticulture course too?’ ‘Pleasure to meetchya, Mrs Underwood. No, I’m studying criminology.’ ‘Aren’t you staying?’ ‘Sorry, I gotta get home to Highgate. Bye, Nate. Thanks for the … snack and stuff.’ ‘Cheers, Justy. See you tomorrow after lunch, same place and time?’ ‘Cool.’ The door closed on him and Justin trudged off to find his bus and get back to his hideout. *** Waiting for night to fall, Justin loitered for a while around Muswell Hill, where he used the time to buy a couple of things in a supermarket. He was crossing the street heading down to Archway Road when someone called to him from a bunch of kids lounging round a pub. ‘Fuckin’ ’ell. Animal!’ He scanned the group. A couple of the girls looked somewhat familiar. He was pretty sure he’d had his tongue and possibly more down the throat of an anorexic blond with cornrows. But it was a boy who had called to him. He briefly thought about ignoring them, then realised he’d be foolish to underestimate the remorseless curiosity of the street kid. He strolled over casually. ‘Lo Tommy. Wha’ the fuck you doin’ ’ere?’ The boy looked cunning, something he was quite good at. ‘Aw well, me uncle Jace is in ’ere wiv some mates. They’re gonna take me down to the dogs, in’ they. Whatchoo done to yourself?’ ‘Whadya mean?’ ‘The cloves and hair, mate. Not your usual style, is it?’ Justin surveyed Tommy, decked out in white shell suit, ballcap perched back on his head and bling necklace. His white socks were visible below the bottoms of his trakkies. No, thought Justin, it isn’t my style anymore, that’s for fuckin’ sure. ‘Foster home. They gave me this crap, so what could I do, eh? Gotta go anyway. I got a curfew. See ya.’ ‘Yeah … see ya, Animal.’ Justin moved on, and it was properly dark when he finally reached his refuge in Highgate. He sat up on the wall for a moment to get a good view of the garage flat. Seeing it lifeless still, he took his time crossing the garden to the cellar window. He slipped in and locked it behind him. He lit the lamp, got the camp stove burning – feeling oddly pleased with himself for being successful this time – and boiled up the little kettle. Slowly sipping an instant coffee, he wondered what it had been like to grow up in a house with a mum and dad who were intelligent and loving, to have money and ambitions and good holidays. He had seen pictures in the bedroom of a younger Nathan in scuba and ski gear. You could not but be envious, he concluded. What did such a kid see in a loser like Justin? He undressed and snuggled into the sleeping bag, sniffing around to find the bit that smelled most of Nathan, drinking it in. It made him feel less lonely. He awoke in the dark of night to hear noises above him in the house. He froze, and had to force himself to relax. He was in the unused cellar. No one would come down there. He looked at his illuminated new mobile: 2:27, it said. That seemed to him an odd time for the owner to return home. And then he thought, Oh shit, burglars! But the alarm system had been up and running when he had got back, so far as he could remember. Why didn’t it go off? Steps paced the floor above him, steady and confident. Surely it was Matthew White. Suddenly his heart quailed. Oh double shit, he shrieked inside his head, old houses have ghosts! Maybe the mansion was haunted. He was suddenly in a state of abject terror. When he'd been a little boy, he had watched far too much late-night telly and films not intended for susceptible children. As a result, in a crisis his imagination generally leaped instantly to the bizarre and horrible. He lay in a cold sweat, actually burying his head under the pillow, a fact he never mentioned to anyone when he told the story later. He cowered there until at length his native courage reasserted itself. Someone … or something, as his imagination insisted … was upstairs, but it wasn’t coming down. He sat up and snapped on the camping lantern, switching it to its dimmest setting. Finding his boxers and pulling them on, he padded cautiously through the maze of pillars to the stairs. One question was answered. The red sensor light was out, so either the security system was down, or someone had turned it off. Peering up he saw that there was no light visible beneath the cellar door. So it was intruders. As this sank in, the door handle was tried. He shot back into the dark and hid behind a pile of rubbish, heart pounding, remembering at the last instant to turn off his lantern. Flashlights swept the bay at the bottom of the stairs. There were at least two people in the cellar with him. Then a male voice spoke. ‘Will down here be alright?’ ‘Should be okay. Reception won’t be a problem with these wooden floors. It’s securing and hiding the thing that’s the tricky business. Is that a wooden post? It’ll do. Got the toolbox?’ The steps went over to the other side of the bay. There was a click and the rattling noise of someone turning over a box full of metallic objects. ‘Hold the torch steady,’ came the same voice. A subdued sound of drilling became audible, succeeded by several minutes of discussion, sawing and hammering. ‘Looks pretty good. Wipe some dirt on it and no one will ever guess we’ve been here. Perfect. You go upstairs and test it out. I’ll tell Laurie … he’ll let Johnny know.’ A brief and uninformative mobile call followed. Then Justin heard a metal box being packed up, a snap of locks and footsteps ascending the stairs. The door closed and he was alone again. He waited a while, but everything remained quiet. He was about to go over and check out what had been done on the other side of the bay when he noticed the sensor light was on once more. He retreated to his bedding to think out what he had just witnessed and what he should do about it.
  9. Mike Arram

    Chapter 5

    And there’s lots lots more ...
  10. Nathan and Justin sketched out their plans while they worked through the afternoon. There could be no delay. Tomorrow would be the big breakout, and Nathan had a lot of instructions to memorise. He was a little awed at Justin’s grasp of detail and decisive planning. ‘Iss me criminal mind, Nate.’ He gave an impish and insinuating smirk that Nathan found a trifle unsettling. Before Mr Anderson came to get them, they checked the cellar window, finding it hidden by a bush from the direct sight of anyone in the converted garage. Justin was sure he could easily get into the garden from a dark outside lane by swarming over the wall surrounding the house. The only danger would come during his dash across the lawn, exposed to view from both house and garage. On Friday, they worked their last day together, digging out a patio in East Finchley. When Mr Anderson arrived he called Justin over and put his hand kindly on the boy’s shoulder. ‘I just want you to know, lad, that I’m really pleased with what you’ve done.’ He handed over a manila envelope. ‘Here’s your proper wage, same rate as Nathan’s. Cash. You’ve earned it. I hope things turn out for you.’ He extended his hand to Justin, who stifled his resentment long enough to be civil in return. The two boys managed a brief kiss goodbye in the van while Anderson was outside. ‘See you tonight, Justy,’ Nathan whispered. Justin winked and left. *** Dressed in a dark leather jacket and black jeans – an attention to detail he’d thought up all on his own – Nathan paced up and down outside the wall of the secure centre. It was ten-thirty, curfew hour. He could see the house’s lights through the swaying branches of trees in the grounds. He was carrying a backpack stuffed full of his parents’ unused holiday camping gear, which he had found forgotten under a tarpaulin in the garage. Time passed. Nathan hung round a bus stop, acting the part of a queue. He faded into the shadows whenever a bus approached. A gasp and a thud made him spin round. Justin had come over the spiked wall. ‘Jeez, couldn’ave done that a month ago. All my hard work in the garden paid off, dinnit?’ Nathan was curious. ‘How did you get out, Justy?’ ‘Oh, made a fuss about taking an early night, fixed up a false Justin out of pillows and black sacks, and sneaked across into the wardens’ wing. I slipped out their private door while they did the bedtime check. The CCTV probably caught me, but it won’t help them cos they won’t find out I’m gone till tomorrer. When’s the next bus?’ ‘That’ll be the N22 night bus in ten minutes.’ ‘How ‘bout you, big boy? Where do your parents think you are?’ ‘Me? I’m on a sleepover with my old friend Chaz in Ilford. They’re not expecting me back till Sunday night. We got two days together, lover. How many times do you think you can get it up in forty-eight hours?’ ‘How’s your pretty butt, babe?’ ‘Doesn’t hurt too much. I put some fingers up it before I came out. It’s definitely ready for another poke from Justin.’ ‘Brilliant.’ A bus arrived and they were off. Alighting at Highgate tube station, they threaded through the empty streets and cautiously slipped into the side lane running past Matt White’s house. Nathan had left a pile of bags full of rubble at the point where they needed to get in. They swarmed up and over like commandos. Squatting down in the shelter of the border on the other side, breathing hard, they checked the house. It was quite dark. Although a light was flashing on the alarm box to indicate the system was live, they knew their entry window was not wired. The movement sensor only scanned the basement stairs, not the cellars. A light was on in the upstairs garage flat at the other end of the garden, but the curtains were drawn. Nathan took off the backpack and held it. He felt a small kiss on his cheek and, grasping Justin’s warm hand, raced silently across the lawn to the window. Justin pushed it open to slide down into the dark. Nathan followed, dragging the pack after him. Turning as he dropped to the floor, he swung the window closed behind him, then pulled a wadded piece of black cloth out of his pocket and held it over the pane. Justin detached the camping lamp from the pack and turned it on. Taking a handful of tacks and a small hammer from an outside pocket, he fastened the cloth in place as a blackout curtain. Nathan gazed at his lover with a conspiratorial grin. ‘We've done it! Let’s set up camp.’ Justin was grinning back. He hefted the pack; ‘Christ that’s heavy!’ he exclaimed in awe. ‘It’s amazing you managed to get over the wall with that weight on your back! Gives me ideas.’ ‘Ideas?’ ‘Dirty ones. Tell you later, stud.’ Nathan neatly laid out their supplies: a camp stove, pan and utensils; a stack of food and drink; spare clothing; bedding, an inflatable mattress and double sleeping bag. There were also plenty of spare batteries and a small radio. It was chilly outside but the heating pipes warmed the cellar, so it was comfortable to undress. The pair were soon naked in each other’s arms on top of the bag. Nathan fondled his lover’s instant erection and his tight, fully loaded balls. ‘This is really cool, Justy. Did I ever tell you how beautiful you are?’ Justin looked surprised. ‘Not a word anyone has ever used about me, Nate.’ ‘But you are! Your hair’s nice – when it doesn’t smell of tobacco smoke – now that it's grown reasonably long so you don’t look like the convict you did when I first saw you. You’ve gotten less scrawny, too, and picked up a bit of tone.’ He stroked his lover’s nipples and swelling pecs. ‘Your eyes are such a dark blue; they’re really lovely when you smile.’ ‘Anything else?’ ‘Your dick’s unbelievable.’ ‘It’s not as long as yours.’ ‘But it’s thick, permanently erect and those heavy balls of yours just pump out boy juice nonstop. I bet you can wank off two or three times in one go.’ ‘Er … s’true, I can.’ ‘You gotta show me.’ ‘What, now?’ ‘I’ll help.’ Nathan closed on Justin’s dick and suckled him to ejaculation, greedily drinking down the result as his lover arched under his ministrations. Giving a last lick to the twitching and highly sensitive head, which caused Justin to squirm nicely, he began squeezing the still erect cock. ‘That’s one,’ he murmured. The next time he used his hand and sent up a fountain of sperm over Justin’s chest after five minutes’ pumping. ‘Two!’ he exclaimed, grinning at Justin before licking the white gobbets from his chest. Then Nathan searched in his backpack for some lube to oil up the still erect dick. ‘Now the big one.’ Sitting behind his lover, he made Justin lay his shoulders back in his lap and his head on his belly. Justin’s smooth skin was warm on top of him. ‘Okay, Justy, get going … this I gotta see. Can you do it?’ ‘I think so, babe.’ He began to stroke, shifting and squirming as he built up speed. Once more it only took five minutes of frantic beating until he groaned out, ‘It’s coming!’ He lifted off the ground and three large spurts shot straight up and back down on his hand. He lay back gasping, while Nathan cleaned him off again with his tongue. ‘Mmm, love the Justy-juice! Christ, what a show. You made me feel inadequate.’ ‘Sorry, Nate. But you dared me. Too bad I’m finally running on empty and can’t fuck you. So you gotta fuck me.’ ‘Any particular way?’ ‘Yeah, hunk. I want you to do me as if you were doing press ups. I’ll get on my back, like this, and push my bum out, and you get on all fours over me, stick your cock in and go at it like the athlete you are.’ ‘I’ll give it a try, Justy.’ It was hard going, but Nathan finally came. It felt weird with only his sheathed penis in contact with his lover, panting below him, yet somehow it focussed the orgasm tightly on his cock and made it very intense. He collapsed on Justin and, once the sweat had dried, they snuggled together in the bag. Nathan flicked the light out and they slept. *** Dim sunlight was filtering into the cellar when they woke. Nathan found his watch at their bedside: seven o’clock. He turned to smile in Justin’s face, which was looking soppily at his. They kissed, ignoring the morning breath in each other’s mouth and the sweaty stench from the previous night’s gymnastics. ‘Do you shave much?’ Nathan asked. ‘Just once a week. How ‘bout you?’ ‘Hardly even that much. Odd, cos my pubes are quite bushy.’ Nathan got up and squatted naked in front of the camp stove to get the blue flames alight. Filling a kettle from the tap, he set it to boil. ‘Gotta pee.’ ‘Me too.’ They stood side by side on the cold, dusty concrete floor, grinning as they urinated into the sink and sluiced the result down the drain. They took turns at washing their pits and bits, gasping at the coldness of the water. Then they kissed again until the bubbling kettle reminded them of its existence. They sat on the bed together, cradling the steaming instant coffee. ‘I wouldn’t mind waking up like this every day, Nate me mate.’ ‘That’s sweet, but I think we’ll do better than this one day.’ ‘What?’ ‘I’m staying with you, my … my Justin, maybe not now, but one day. I don’t want to leave you. This is where I should be. You’re the reason I’m living now.’ All of a sudden, an overwhelming need to be with this boy almost stifled him with its power. There were tears in his eyes. ‘Jeez, Nate. That’s … awesome. We’ll work something out and get together one day. I know we will. But you can’t give up your family, not now when your future depends on your work and your studies. I’m the crazy man, not you. Besides, at the moment I need you as my agent on the outside. I’m on the run, remember?’ ‘Okay, but one day, lover … one day, and soon, too.’ Nathan had packed small boxes of cereal and some plastic bowls. After they munched down their breakfast, Nathan washed up, still naked. They finally dressed. ‘Do you think you’ll get on the news?’ Nathan asked. ‘No. One more runaway kid in London – who cares about people like me? The police’ll keep an eye on me mum’s flat, me mates and me usual haunts. But I won’t go back there. Although they won’t forget I exist, they’ll play the long-term game with me.’ ‘Have you got a plan?’ ‘Sort of. How much money have we got?’ ‘There’s your pay packet from Mr Anderson – very generous, considering what an arse you were for the first fortnight – plus the money from my building society I took out. It’s four hundred pounds.’ ‘You’re giving me all your cash?’ ‘Why not?’ ‘Wow! I could give you half a dozen reasons.’ ‘You’re my Justin and I love you. All I have is yours …’ He smirked. ‘… especially my cock.’ Then he laughed happily, scaring Justin a little with the depth of commitment of this decent and sexy lover he had acquired. ‘Okay … that’s more kindness than anyone’s ever shown me. My plan is to use what we got to get a bedsit, and then a job to survive in it.’ ‘Good plan. And I’ll help. With both our wages, you can be comfortable while we shag all night long in your bed.’ Now tears were standing in Justin’s eyes, for the first time since he was a small boy. ‘Why are you doing this for me, Nate? You know what I am.’ ‘You’re my Justin, and I love you,’ Nathan repeated, with utter conviction in his blue eyes. It gave Justin a shiver. They dressed, Justin in his usual cap and trakkies, worn now for the second day. Nathan put on blue jeans, white tee and overshirt. He looked really good out of overalls and work gear, Justin thought, and the clothes were clearly expensive. Having never seen Nathan in casuals before, Justin wondered about his lover’s background. ‘We doan’ match, Nate. You look like a million quid, while I look like shit. We’ll be suspicious together, like I wuz your dealer or something.’ Nathan grinned. ‘I was waiting for you to say that.’ Out of the backpack he pulled a bag containing a selection of folded clothes. ‘This is some of my stuff from when I was younger, which should fit you. Strip off, handsome.’ Nathan selected cargo pants, neat coloured cotton socks, a foreign tee-shirt and an Oxford University hoodie. After removing the baseball cap with a grimace, he was satisfied at the result. ‘You’re no longer a chav, Justy. You look like a native of the prosperous suburbs … really. You could be a Highgate kid and the cops won’t look at you twice. Wish we had a mirror. Thank God you didn’t get tattooed and pierced.’ ‘I did. I got nipple rings and a belly piercing. I’d taken them out when the cops grabbed me and I couldn’t put ‘em back in. But I will one day, juss for you. Take a look next time you’re sucking my nips. But I never got tattoos, cos I’m squeamish. S’true. You hear stories.’ Nathan continued looking at him critically. ‘It’s your hair that does it. It’s thick, curly and dark, now it’s growing. Makes you look like a nice boy.’ ‘I am a nice boy … deep down. At least I always thought so. It was everyone else who was a shit.’ ‘Put these on,’ Nathan ordered, producing a wooden-bead necklace and a leather bracelet. ‘They’re mine, but I want you to have them, Justy.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Cos it brings you closer to me, like we were engaged or something.’ Justin smiled at him and put them on. They completed the picture of a good-looking middle-class teenage boy. Peeking out the window, they found the garden empty in the early morning sunlight, the lawn dusted with a grey dew. There was no sign of life from the garage, and the house above them was silent. The two boys swarmed out the window, closing it silently and carefully behind them. They cautiously crept round the garden and shot over the wall, Nathan boosting Justin before vaulting athletically over himself. ‘Hang on, mate,’ Justin said as he lit his first cigarette of the day and took a long drag. ‘I need this.’ They idled back up the lane and out into the morning streets. Justin looked round. ‘Where’ll we go then?’ He finished his smoke and flicked the butt back down the lane. Nathan did his best not to wince. ‘Coffee would be nice.’ Justin followed him through the streets into the village. Finding a Starbucks already open, they ordered large cups. They occupied two soft chairs and cradled their drinks. Nathan, who had found a Guardian and was looking over the sports page, winced again as Justin put his feet on the table. ‘Justy … please don’t do that.’ ‘What?’ ‘Your feet.’ Justin grimaced. The Atomoxetine was wearing off and his careless urge to confront the world was resurfacing. For the first time in his life, however, he stood outside the urge. His grimace becoming a grin, he muttered a little sheepishly, ‘I gotta be a nice boy for you, aven’ I, Nate?’ Nathan answered his grin. ‘It’ll fool the cops.’ They passed an hour loafing in the coffee shop, then got a bus into town where they had a good time laughing and joking along Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street. Lunch was at McDonald’s, as Justin had dug his heels in when Nathan suggested a proper pizza parlour. ‘You never been in a place with a menu?’ ‘McDonald’s has got a menu,’ Justin asserted. ‘Yeah … on the wall. Okay, we do it your way for now.’ ‘You’re scaring me, Nate. You got ambitions to change me, ain’chya?’ ‘You’re changing me too, Justy. Maybe we both need each other.’ How much Justin was changing him became clearer to Nathan when they got back to Highgate village. It was early evening, and the café bars were opening. Justin led them into a big one where they took a window table. A waiter came by and gave them a once-over, but since they looked respectable and ordered soft drinks he wasn’t able to say anything. ‘We don’t look eighteen, do we, Just?’ ‘No … but there’s ways and means if yuh really want a drink.’ He cast his eyes round the bar. Not far away were two guys sitting close together, one of them covertly watching them. Justin gave a little smile and winked at the man, who whispered to his mate. They approached. ‘What are you doing?’ hissed Nathan, alarmed. ‘Watch, babe.’ The men were tall and denim clad, maybe in their late twenties. Even to Nathan, it was obvious from their movements and glances that they were gay and very interested in the boys.. Justin gave them a look that could only be described as coquettish. ‘Hey, guys.’ ‘Hey,’ said the bigger of the two. ‘You and your mate looking to meet someone?’ ‘Maybe … we’re also looking to get a proper drink.’ ‘Let us take care of that, boys.’ He nodded at his friend, who soon returned with two lagers. They pulled up chairs and sat down. ‘Thanks,’ said Justin. ‘I’m Mark and my boyfriend is Tom.’ ‘So how long have you two been together, Mark.’ ‘Couple of months. We go to Highgate School. Tom’s captain of rugby, so if it ever got round we were gay, he’d be mincemeat. But you won’t tell, will you?’ ‘No, we won’t tell. My name’s Clive and this is Frank. We’re from out of town, so there’s no chance it’d get back from us. You boys interested in a bit of fun?’ Justin gave a smirk that would have shamed a satyr. ‘Depends what you mean by … fun.’ ‘Oh nothing bad, believe me, chickens. We’re going on to a club we know down in Camden. If you’ve got some time and don’t need to be anywhere, you can come with us.’ ‘Sure, but we’d like another drink first.’ Justin grinned again. As one of the guys went to get the second round of drinks and the other went to the loo, Nathan hissed at Justin, ‘What’re you playing at?’ ‘Getting a couple of free drinks for us.’ ‘And then what … Mark? These guys want to be in our pants, and speaking for myself, I don’t want so-called Frank even close to them.’ ‘Stop being a wuss, Nate.’ ‘Have you laid it out for a bloke before?’ ‘Nope. But I can look after us. Don’t you want to see the inside of a gay club?’ Nathan stared at his lover, fearless and dangerous to know. ‘You’re going to do this, aren’t you, whatever I say?’ ‘We gotta try it, Nate. See if we like it. They can’t do anything to us unless we let ‘em, can they? Just stick wiv me.’ After half an hour’s banal chitchat, the two boys and the increasingly eager men went outside. Nathan fended off a hand on his bum, but managed to do it with a smile, while Justin allowed a tongue to probe inside his mouth. A taxi took them down to a more than usually seedy part of Camden Town to a pub with club attached. At the door, some dragged-up boys looked them over through their mascara as they went in. Clive and Frank paid, then ushered them – hands on their arms – to a table. The noise was deafening. Lights and music were pulsing around the floor, where a lot of bare flesh was on display. The smell of sweat and substances was alarming. More drinks appeared, and it was getting to Nathan. Justin, meanwhile, was confidently sparring with Clive over the remorseless beat of the music. Frank didn’t say a lot, although he made some comments about the scene. A boy as young as Nathan drifted by in makeup and a cut-off tee-shirt, navel exposed, hanging on to an older man. They disappeared into the crowd around a side door. Nathan was by now ready to leave, but Justin – too obviously into the masquerade – was looking round greedily. Nathan kept sipping his drink, and soon was feeling a lot better. From somewhere within him welled up a sense of euphoria – the beer, he decided. He began talking animatedly to Frank, who grinned back. When Frank closed in to kiss him, he found he didn’t care, but savoured the man’s lips on his and licked in behind them. He broke off and laughed. Unnoticed, Justin had apparently disappeared with Clive. Frank took Nathan’s hand, pulled him up and began leading him through the crowd. Oddly, it seemed to Nathan that everyone was moving strangely slowly, and somehow, though he knew he was walking in a straight line, he seemed to be curving off to the right. He leaned up against a door and stared indifferently into a dim room full of guys doing sexual stuff. His dick was unaccountably rigid. He stumbled and knelt down just within the door. ‘You okay?’ asked Frank. ‘Fine,’ Nathan said, his voice seeming to come from a distance. ‘You know, I have an odd feeling that my hands are going through this wall. But they can’t be, can they?’ ‘No, ’course not,’ Frank cooed in his ear. Nathan suddenly felt free air on his buttocks while his shirt was being pulled up to his armpits. A slippery coolness invaded his anus. ‘What you doing?’ he asked dreamily. ‘Something nice. I got a condom on. Just relax, sweetheart. Your arse is to die for, and I just gotta have some of it. I never screwed anything like this in my life. You won’t mind if a couple of the other lads have a taste, will you?’ ‘No … I,’ Nathan began, but his head bumped forward into the wall as a man’s cock pushed hard against his anus. At that moment there came a thud, a crack and a grunt. A body fell heavily against his back and then off him on to the floor. Arms – Justin’s, he realised – pulled him upright, dragged his jeans up to his waist, and led him back inside the dance room. Justin steered him through the crowd, sending people spinning out of his way, cursing. An instant later they were out the door in the cold night air. A bouncer looked them over and decided to be helpful. ‘Taxi’s by there, kids. Hang on, I’ll close the door to give you a few minutes. You got money?’ ‘Yeah,’ answered Justin breathlessly, ‘and thanks.’ ‘Be more careful who you go out with, lads. You get some pretty queer folk here, even for queers.’ Justin shoved Nathan into the taxi and gave directions. He leant back with relief on to the seat, propping up his still dazed lover, who said inconsequentially, ‘D’you know, my feet don’t seem to quite reach to the floor, hard as I try to put them down.’ *** They huddled together in the side lane by the rubble bags. ‘You any better?’ Justin whispered. ‘I think so, though I feel a little sick. What happened?’ ‘Frank slipped some ketamine powder into your drink, I’d guess. When I realised Clive was distracting me, I gave him the slip and found Frank in that side room, about to stuff you. So I ’it ’im with a bottle. It didn’t break, I only cracked him a glancing blow, which was just as well. Then we were out of there.’ ‘Justy, what were we doing at that club in the first place?’ ‘Having a bit of fun, learning about life, freeloading. I had four drinks without paying for one of them.’ ‘But the guy tried to date-rape me.’ ‘Yeah, well, that was the risk. Sorry. But you’ll be more careful next time, won’t you?’ ‘Me careful? Next time?’
  11. Nathan’s mouth went dry and his face flushed scarlet. They had been totally caught out. Justin gripped his hand hard, and it was he who responded with a coolness that quite flabbergasted Nathan. ‘Brilliant shower, Mr White.’ Looking closer, Nathan recognised the dazzling face as belonging to someone he had seen on the TV and on billboards: Matthew White, the media presenter and model. The man gave the two of them a sweeping gaze with his profound, dark eyes, then pursed his gorgeous crimson lips. Nathan felt as if he were going to faint. White finally smiled quirkily. ‘Okay, boys, introduce yourselves.’ ‘Er … I’m Nathan Underwood from Andersons. We're working in your garden …’ ‘Yeah, and I’m Justin Macavoy, also Andersons, and we got pretty filthy so we thought we’d borrow the shower. I hope that wasn’t too much of a liberty, sir.’ Nathan was astonished. Justin could do civil and polite creepily well. Matthew White continued to smile. ‘And you were soaping each other’s back?’ Justin was straight in again. ‘We’re boyfriends sir, and … y’know the way it is.’ Matthew White laughed. ‘Yes, I guess I do. Okay. I’m not pissed off at you, boys. I was impressed you left the muddy boots in the kitchen. That was considerate. Also, you didn’t make a mess in the bathroom, so you may borrow the shower anytime you want. I can spare the odd towel. No problem. Two polite boys like you make a change from some of the kids we get round here. Andy … he’s my partner … was pretty badly abused by one little sod in the garden last week, some kid on day release from a young offenders’ institution. I’d beat the crap out of him if he tried it on with me.’ Justin was beaming. The bugger’s actually enjoying this, it registered on an astonished Nathan. ‘We gotta get back to the flower beds, sir. Thanks for being so understanding.’ ‘No problem, boys. Use the kitchen too, anytime you want.’ They padded downstairs, still hand in hand. When they emerged into the garden after slipping their boots back on, Justin grabbed Nathan’s face and kissed him deeply. ‘You’re a nutter, Justin Macavoy,’ Nathan laughed as they broke off their lip-lock. ‘And you love me, doanchya!’ ‘Yes, I do. I’ve never met anyone like you.’ ‘What a boring life you’ve led, then. Hey, can you do us a favour, Nate?’ ‘Blowjob?’ ‘That too, but later. For now, can you pick up some ciggies for me? Twenty Camels. I got no money on me and they don’t let me out. But I’ll pay you back, honest.’ ‘I thought you were giving up,’ Nathan objected, not too happy. ‘Me? You’re kidding. Old Man Anderson’ll be paying me something at the end of the month. I’ll pay you back then. Okay?’ ‘Yeah, I guess … but look. I don’t like cigarettes, Just. When we’ve done it up to now you’ve not been smoking. I don’t want to have to kiss an ashtray next time, know what I mean?’ Justin too now looked troubled. ‘No probs. I’ll smoke them through the window back in the centre, not when we’re together.’ When Nathan heaved a sigh of relief, Justin was irritated. His chain had been jerked, and had it not been for the suppressant, all the links that now bound them might not have been enough to keep him from coming across as a different boy, retaliatory and aggressive. Sensing this deep down, Nathan found it did not add to his sense of security. Mr Anderson turned up at five. Surveying the garden with some satisfaction, he commented, ‘This is really good. Tell me, Nathan, how much is you and how much is Justin?’ ‘Half and half, Mr Anderson, honest. I told him what to do and he did it. No arguments and no skiving. He’s been great.’ ‘I’ve been thinking. You two work together well. We’ll keep you as a team from Monday onwards. Is that alright?’ They gave broad grins. ‘Couldn’t ask for better, Mr Anderson,’ Nathan said. When the van left Justin off, he hissed, ‘Doan’ forget the ciggies,’ before getting out. * * * ‘What’s up, Justin?’ Tanya asked him that Saturday. ‘Nuthin’, why?’ ‘You’ve been whistling round the house and smiling to yourself.’ ‘Must be the Atomoxetine high.’ ‘There is no Atomoxetine high.’ ‘How about all the open air I’ve been getting?’ ‘Hmm … maybe. I rang up George Anderson this morning. He’s been singing your praises. He said you’ve worked as hard as his best apprentice this last week, and he’s dead impressed. No other of our placements has ever been so enthusiastic about gardening, he said. But …’ ‘But what? I do like it. Honest.’ ‘It just makes me suspicious. Have you found a way of cultivating marijuana in someone’s flowerbed?’ Justin laughed happily, without so much as a hint of a sneer in his voice. A bewildered Tanya shook her head. The boy was actually being pleasant, and when he laughed like that he was even attractive. ‘Your case reassessment meeting is on Wednesday morning. It looks as though it might be interesting.’ *** On Monday, it rained. Nathan arrived with a set of wet-weather gear from the yard: waterproofs and an Andersons cagoule. Justin changed in the back of the van, blowing kisses to Nathan behind Mr Anderson’s back. ‘Off you go, lads,’ the old man said, dropping them off outside a church near Hornsey viaduct. ‘Be careful.’ ‘What did he mean?’ Justin asked. ‘He meant he doesn’t want us losing an arm or leg with this chainsaw. We’re pruning trees today. Can you go and get the ladder from behind the church hall?’ Nathan spent half an hour explaining the way the chainsaw worked and how to use it safely. Justin impressed him by actually listening and even asking serious questions. ‘It’s just cos you want to use this, isn’t it?’ ‘Yeah … I so wanna commit the Hornsey Chain Saw Massacre.’ ‘Be good, Justy.’ Justin also listened when Nathan explained the way to prune trees and take out limbs. It was hard, rough work, and Justin was exhausted well before lunch time. The physical effort was taking its toll of his untrained body. Nathan could have gone on, but he stopped for Justin’s sake. They sat under the dripping eaves of the church hall, where Nathan pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter and threw them to Justin. ‘Aw cheers, Nate, you’re a good un.’ He lit up, took a drag and looked happy. ‘Tell me, Nate, you got family?’ ‘Mum and dad, that’s all.’ ‘Yeah, I’m an only kid too. Me mum couldn’t have another one after me.’ ‘What … like the Antichrist sort of thing?’ ‘Very funny. Why didya leave school, Nate? You seem pretty bright to me.’ ‘I just wanted to get out there and work in gardens. I’d been desperate to do it since I was small. My mum’s keen on gardens too, and she knew Mr Anderson. But I’m on day release from Andersons doing two HNDs at Hornsey College. After I get qualifications, I might go off to agricultural college one day … see how it feels.’ ‘Where do you live?’ ‘With the parents out in Winchmore Hill.’ ‘What do you do when you’re not working?’ ‘There’s the gym, and swimming. I don’t have any serious mates anymore. They all wanted to go on to sixth form and thought I was mad … I used to go to private school, Goldsmiths’ Company Greycoats in the City of London. None of my school friends lived anywhere near me anyway. It was great when you turned up at Andersons, someone my age to talk to, I thought. Then you turned out to be a total screwed-up arse.’ ‘Until you totally screwed my arse …’ ‘Ha ha! You wanna talk about what you did before you ended up in secure accommodation, Justy? I suppose I may wish I’d never asked, but I gotta look interested now, don’t I?’ Justin gazed pensively at him for some time before replying, ‘I never hurt anyone, Nate. Be sure of that. It was only myself I was at war with. Shoplifting, bunking off, vandalism, even a bit of dealing … yeah, I was a bad boy.’ ‘And you seriously got an ASBO?’ ‘Three of ‘em. The first one was when I broke every window in that shithole of a school they forced me to go to … I got expelled too, which was a bonus. Then there was the night I got a little too high and made an epic car-aerial collection – without asking the owners’ permission … escaped me mind – the problem being that the police-station car park at Seven Sisters was the chief contributor. They took it bad. The cameras caught it all, naturally, but I wasn’t arsed about that. ‘The best one, though, was opening the emergency floodgates at the sewage treatment plant in Crouch End. I sent thousands of gallons of liquid crap into the Haringey social services department … it was a sort of message.’ ‘Deeply symbolic,’ agreed Nathan, laughing now. ‘So I was a one-boy crime wave, according to the Holloway Advertiser – I kept the cutting. They got me at the end for breaching a school attendance order, just a minor one, bit unfair really.’ Nathan looked at Justin’s quirky grin and had a warm feeling. This was a bad boy, no doubt about it, but a funny one and – to him – a lovable one. ‘What’s going to happen to you, Justy?’ ‘Dunno. It’s never got this far before, in secure accommodation an’ all. Talking to the other lads, they say it’s usually psychiatric reports, a short stay and then fostering or a supervised flat. Could be either, I guess.’ ‘Maybe if you make a success of your placement with Andersons, it’ll help.’ ‘Maybe …’ Then Justin looked a little shy. ‘… but I think what helps most is you, Nate. I’m different with you. I don’t need to be cocky and crude, to shock and to annoy. I don’t swear so much when I talks to you. I’ve never met anyone like you, so hot and so kind.’ He grinned. ‘Giss a kiss.’ They kissed long and lingeringly, with instant results between their legs. Justin went to his knees, pulled down Nathan’s trousers and pants, and transferred his lips to his lover’s member, which he sucked and slurped industriously. Glancing up he caught the look of ecstasy he was creating on Nathan’s face, and smiled round the cock in his mouth. After coming to a very satisfactory climax Nathan offered to reciprocate, but Justin just said thanks, he was too shagged out. They wandered down to a convenience store to get sandwiches, then strolled back, laughing and joking, with Justin on his second smoke. ‘One thing though,’ Nathan finally said. ‘You’re really bright, Justy. And you can be cool as the proverbial cucumber. Why didn’t school work for you?’ ‘Teachers. The only ones I ever met were obvious dickheads. Even when I was in primary school I could tell they were lazy, ignorant and badly prepared. It pissed me off. If I took the trouble to turn up, I figured they should take the trouble to make it worth me while! Yer see, for me the problem is that if someone’s a dickhead, I gotta tell them. It’s only fair. But strangely, adults don’t like to be told by eleven-year-olds that they’re dickheads. I never worked that one out.’ ‘So you didn’t finish a single GCSE?’ ‘Nope. Life’s gonna be a bit of an adventure for me as a result, doanchya think?’ They went back to work, finishing the job well before Mr Anderson turned up at three with the shredder and a trailer to take away the sawdust. ‘You two are a marvel,’ he enthused, ‘a natural team. You move round each other like you were telepathic. I’m going to be sorry to see you go, Justin.’ ‘Wha …?’ ‘Fraid so. Tanya says that after Friday the placement’s up.’ Nathan looked thunderstruck. ‘But, Mr Anderson,. that can’t be right. Justin’s been brilliant. You can keep him on! You’ve got to!’ ‘Whoa now! Yes, Justin’s been good, but we’re only offering job experience here, not jobs. You should know that. I realise you two have become friends, and you can stay friends. You’ve got your mobile, and Justin can get himself one so you can stay in touch.’ Nathan stared at Justin, who looked stunned. They worked silently at the shredder, glancing disconsolately at each other from time to time. *** What put the cap on it for Justin was that, in the case conference on Wednesday, they were very pleased with him, just not pleased enough to listen to his request for extension of the placement. His highly cogent argument was that he had finally found a work environment in which his needs were met, and they were depriving him of its beneficial effects. It was a measure of his determination that he was articulate, used long words Tanya had never guessed he knew, and never swore once. They agreed he had benefited from his spell at Andersons, they told him, but a possible foster home had emerged in Chelmsford. He would be moved out the next week. Justin was silenced. Thursday was Matthew White’s garden in Highgate again. They had finished power-hosing the patio and re-laying the gravel path, and were sitting out in the sun on the patio steps. ‘Chelmsford, bloody Chelmsford,’ swore Nathan. ‘I can’t go there,’ Justin said simply. ‘No,’ agreed Nathan hopelessly. ‘I’m gonna have to do a runner, Nate. You gotta help me.’ Nathan astounded himself by not even thinking twice about the rights and wrongs of what Justin was suggesting. ‘Yes I will, Justy,’ he decided firmly, ‘but where you gonna run to?’ ‘That’s the problem, innit. I can’t go back to me mum’s, she’s hopeless, poor cow, and thass the first place they’ll look. I got no one else but you to turn to.’ ‘How long could I hide you in my bedroom, d’you think?’ ‘Not long enough. Your mum would notice eventually, doanchya ’spose?’ ‘Oh yeah. We couldn’t get away with you as a sleepover who forgot to go home, could we?’ ‘Let’s think … no, let’s not. Let’s fuck while we can.’ Justin took Nathan’s hand and they went inside the apparently empty house, leaving boots and socks in the kitchen and padding upstairs. Justin led his lover into a bedroom, where he grabbed a towel and laid it on the cover. Then he dropped his shorts, pulled down Nathan’s and devoted himself to his lover’s straining cock. Gasping, Nathan told him, ‘Justy … please do me this time. I’ve thought about it and I really want it. If we don’t do it now, maybe we’ll never have another chance.’ Justin looked up. ‘You sure?’ Nathan nodded. ‘OK then, but it’ll hurt the first time.’ ‘I know.’ Nathan’s voice quavered a bit. ‘I was researching it on the web last night. But I got some lube from the chemists – it’s in my shorts pocket – and we can borrow another condom from Mr White.’ He disappeared into the bathroom to return with a packet. Justin sat on the bed with Nathan between his legs, sucking him erect. Looking up from his ministrations Nathan asked, ‘What I gotta do, Justy?’ ‘Climb up on the bed, lover. My fingers have to get busy.’ Nathan lay on his stomach. Justin shoved two pillows under his groin, pushing his backside into the air while marvelling at the beautiful sight of those muscular soft globes. Justin licked his index finger and began stroking Nathan’s brown, furry hole. Then, pulling apart Nathan’s cheeks with his thumbs, he put his tongue into action,. Nathan was moaning softly now, thrusting his groin gently into the pillows. Justin squirted lubricant on his fingers and into the crater of Nathan’s anus. ‘Ooh, that’s cold,’ Nathan whimpered. ‘It’ll be hot enough soon, Nate,’ Justin replied, pushing three of his fingers steadily into Nathan, turning and flexing. He worked away patiently but assertively, ignoring it when Nathan yelped. Eventually he had a fourth in deep and was stretching the ring wide, his lover panting and squirming. At last it was time. He folded a condom down on himself, put a drop of lube on the tip and without any warning slapped Nathan hard on the backside. As the boy cried out, Justin thrust deep into him. ‘Aaargh! Ow!’ ‘Sorry, Nate,’ Justin gasped, ‘but there’s no easy way to do this. The hurt’ll go away soon, I promise.’ There were tears in the blue eyes that looked back at him. ‘S’okay, Justy, I’ll be alright. I want you so bad I don’t care how it hurts.’ Justin leaned up over his lover’s back to join mouths with him. They kissed for as long as it took Nathan’s anal muscles to get use to Justin’s violation. ‘God, I do love you so,’ Justin growled. The feeling in his dick was fantastic. This was far tighter than when he had entered girls, and the smell of hot boy in his nostrils was sexy beyond belief. As he felt Nathan relax, Justin pushed in as far as he could. ‘Ooo. God, you’re so tight, Nate. I’m gonna start fucking … ready?’ ‘Oh yeah … do it!’ This was it. He began with slow, small strokes, just as he liked done to him. Nathan moaned his approval. He moaned even more when Justin stopped pushing and rotated his cock. Pulses of ecstasy were beginning in Nathan’s anal ring. Justin was finding his prostate every time. The tempo picked up and soon Justin was banging into his lover’s rectum ruthlessly, his cock emerging almost fully, then plunging back in with a satisfying slap and squelch. ‘I love this, Justy … aah … this is the best.’ Nathan’s submissiveness under the punishment his arse was taking was driving Justin wild. Holding him now under his armpits, Justin thrust as deep as he could and moved his tool around inside Nathan’s gut ruthlessly. Resting high on Nathan’s broad back, he began licking and then nipping on his shoulders and neck. ‘Oh God! More!’ Nathan was shouting now, careless of whether he was heard. It was too much. Justin’s ejaculation filled the condom. When he fell forward in ecstasy, he could even feel some of it trickle out on to his balls as his movements slowed. Finally he lay breathless on Nathan’s back, kissing those shoulders which were now covered with the red weals of the bites he had inflicted. ‘That was passion,’ sighed Nathan. ‘How’s your arse.’ ‘Hurts like hell, yet I can’t wait for you to do it to me again, lover.’ ‘Then we gotta find a way I can, Nate.’ They tidied the bed, then carrying their shorts went into the bathroom and took a leisurely shower together. Justin sucked off Nathan while cleaning him. As they resumed their boots in the kitchen, Justin pointed out a side door. ‘Does this place have a basement, duya think?’ ‘We could look.’ They went through the door and down some wooden steps. Nathan snapped a light switch to reveal a whole series of dim cellars, divided by brick walls and arches, almost a catacomb. Most of it was filled with junk, but one bay was stacked with rack after rack of wine. ‘Over here!’ called out Justin. In a corner towards the garden was a small lunette window giving on to the lawn below the patio. When Justin tried it, it opened, if a little stiffly. The bay behind it was more of a small room, a tap and a deep porcelain trough suggesting it had once been a scullery. ‘Are you thinking what I think you are, Justy?’ ‘It might do as a temporary refuge. That guy White ain’t often here, is he? I know how to get into the garden from the back, so his PA bloke woan’ see me. I’ll oil the hinges and unlock it before we leave. I doan’ think people ever come in here much … I can wazz in the sink and stuff.’ ‘You’re seriously going to do this?’ ‘Yeah. I ain’t goin’ to Chelmsford. But you gotta help me, Nate.’ Nathan looked at the determined face of his lover and had little trouble deciding he would help all he could. He told Justin this and got a glorious smile in return, followed by an embrace and kiss. ‘I knew I could count on you, Nate. You won’t ever let me down.’
  12. Mike Arram

    Chapter 3

    Hi Fanlit. Me getting the process of publishing wrong (again). But 2 will be now up, and 3 by the end of the day.
  13. Justin sat in his plain room at the secure home, to which he had been returned early in old man Anderson’s van, feeling pretty pleased with himself. He savoured the memory of the total shock on Fuckwit Nathan’s face, along with the stunned surprise on that of the stranger. Those two precious little words, spoken in the right company at the right time, had liberated him from slavery in the garden. He replayed Anderson’s conversation with his case officer. ‘Sorry, Tanya. He can abuse the staff as much as he likes; they don’t care. But this was a client, or good as, and what a client to choose! Not that the little git would have minded even if he had known.’ Known what? Justin might have been quick, but he was not the world’s most intellectually curious of boys. Yet the bloke he had told to fuck off seemed to have been something out of the ordinary. Justin could only remember that he was American. He wasn’t particularly good looking, so not an actor. He’d been casually but expensively dressed, pretty much what you would expect in that part of Highgate. Justin shrugged it off. Finding his old CD player and a disk he was not yet bored with, he tried to drift off on his bed. But the image of the two anonymous men copulating obliviously in front of him wouldn’t stop pressing on his consciousness. He gave in, stripped naked and began his second wank of the day, taking his time. As he worked his penis, he felt compelled to put a finger between his buttocks and play with his own hole, pulling his knees right back to his chest and shoving a pillow under his bum to make it easier for him. He flexed his anal muscles the way he had learned to do as a small boy to escape the worst of the regular abuse, and his fingers shot in. He began getting off on the feeling of fullness, which together with his mental image of the two men screwing pushed him to gush a larger amount of sperm than usual all over his chest. He wiped it up with his pants and found a clean pair. Then he slept. He woke in the early evening with another solid erection and a dark spot on his boxers where his excited member had kidded itself it was about to be pumped once more. He could not remember precisely what his dream had been, but he had a feeling it was about sex with men. He cursed his former stepfather in his head yet again. The bastard had fucked him up in more ways than one. Justin dressed and thudded downstairs. The secure home was a rambling nineteenth-century house in Finchley, set in its own grounds. It had been lavishly and expensively fitted by government grants and heavily endowed by charitable foundations. There was a big steel plaque with a line of logos, saying that the home had been established through the efforts of Andrew W. Peacher Esq, chairman of the AP Trust. Normally Justin would have gone right past the plaque, but something about it jerked him to a halt. Who was that in the framed photo of the opening ceremony he saw underneath it?? Blimey! He recognised the little blond man pulling the curtain as the one he had told to fuck off in the Highgate garden. Justin stared open-mouthed, then burst into delighted laughter. Of all the people to insult, he had managed to do it to the bastard that had created this prison. The justice of it all was just too rich. ‘Wass so funny?’ A fellow inmate called Glenn had appeared at the sound of Justin’s guffaws. ‘See that little bastard? I met him today and told him to fuck off.’ Glenn looked unconvinced. ‘How could you ever meet a guy like him? You know who he is, dunya?’ ‘Not a clue.’ ‘He’s one of the richest blokes in the world, or his dad is. The Peachers got more money than God.’ ‘Even better, then.’ ‘You’re a fuckin’ nutter, mate.’ Glenn left him, unconvinced. The next morning there was another case conference. Justin’s euphoria at the previous afternoon’s triumph had quite evaporated. He sat listlessly as Tanya and the others discussed him. He mumbled the odd noncommittal word whenever a question was addressed to him. Finally Tanya summed up. ‘Justin, we’ve resisted this for a bit, but tomorrow you start the psychiatric assessment procedure. Whatever you think you’re doing, your antisocial behaviour has gone up several notches, and yesterday was just the cherry on the cake. We need advice as to what’s making you do all this, and what we can do about it.’ ‘All what?’ Justin responded. Tanya ignored him and packed up her files. ‘Tomorrow at ten in the consultation room, Dr Bayes will have a chat with you.’ Justin moodily went to the rec room. Two boys were playing pool, so he parked himself in front of the screen and watched MTV. Eventually Glenn joined him. ‘I guess you really did do it … really told Andrew Peacher to fuck off.’ ‘Believe me now, do you?’ ‘I overheard two of the social workers talking. They were dead impressed.’ ‘Yeah, well, the payoff is that they’re gonna throw me to the shrink. ‘Spect it’ll be Ritalin again. Hate the stuff. Makes you weird.’ ‘Or weirder.’ ‘Pool?’ *** It was Atomoxetine, and they made sure he took it. The zombification followed its usual course. Life became even and Justin became more passive and compliant, if a little uncommunicative. The next week Anderson’s van came for him, and he found himself working with Nathan again, this time to manicure a private bowling green in Palmer’s Green. Nathan stared, more than a little troubled at what had become of his companion. Justin was docile under instruction, did what he was expected to and needed to be told even to take a break. ‘Let’s give it a rest. Okay, Justin?’ ‘Sure, fine.’ They sat on a bench. It was hot again and Nathan was only in cut-offs and ankle boots. ‘Wanna strip off, Justin?’ Without a word, Justin took off his top and revealed his pale torso, slim rather than skinny, with large brown aureoles to his nipples. He lay back and closed his eyes. ‘How're you doing?’ ‘It’s warm.’ ‘Er … yes, it is. Wanna drink?’ ‘Sure.’ One thing Nathan noticed was that, sedated or not, Justin still could not bring himself to say thank you. ‘Have they put you on something?’ ‘Atomoxetine.’ ‘How do you feel?’ ‘Alright.’ Nathan gave in, slumped back and enjoyed the sun. Justin copied him. Nathan eventually noticed one other thing: Justin’s perpetual erection was still evident. He had known very well that, any moment Justin could get away, he jerked off in addition to having a smoke. Now he was not seeking either distraction. Nathan was not sure of his own sexuality, but he was aware that all was not as society would prefer it to be. Watching his companion’s perpetual tumescence had intrigued him more than it should have, especially once when he noticed Justin’s pink cockhead accidentally pop above his waistband while he stretched. Fortunately Justin had his eyes closed when he did it, or Nathan would have outed himself to the worst possible person. Nathan had got his own erection. In the past, he had not found any sexual interest in Justin, whose aggressive attitude and the perpetual sneer disfiguring his face were a turn-off. But now he looked the boy over again. The sneer was gone and the face looked young and vulnerable, especially the way the cropped hair was growing out and dark curling bangs were forming. It was a pity the blue eyes had gone a little lazy and vacant, rather than looking mischievous and laughing as it sometimes did. The body was lean and there was some muscle in the chest and abdomen. ‘You got a hardon,’ Justin observed in a matter of fact voice. Damn. Trust the boy to look at him just then. ‘Er, yeah.’ ‘I get it up all the time.’ ‘I’d noticed.’ ‘You got a big cock?’ Justin’s face was perfectly unemotional. He could have been discussing his zits or the football results. ‘Just the usual.’ ‘Oh. Six inches is standard.’ ‘Then I’m right on the average.’ ‘I’m five and a half … but I may still grow, especially the way I beat off. Someone told me once that wanking is like training it.’ ‘I’d never thought of that. Well, it’s time we got back to work …’ ‘What do you think about when you do it?’ The boy was relentless now he had got started on the subject. ‘Er … all sorts of things.’ ‘Me too. I even think about taking it up the arse.’ ‘Jesus!’ ‘Do you think about taking it up the arse?’ ‘Sometimes.’ ‘Will you fuck me then?’ Nathan’s jaw dropped, but the idea of sex with a zombie was not attractive. ‘Are you sure you’re okay, Just?’ He automatically abbreviated the boy’s name, almost as if he were a friend. ‘My stepdad used to fuck me when I was ten, nearly every night. S’okay, I know what to do. I liked it … no, I did.’ Then Justin’s face crumbled and he was sobbing, huge, choking gasps. Nathan looked around. Where was a psychiatrist when you needed one? No one was in sight. It was mid-week in term time and not a club day. The green was walled and sheltered. The boy sobbed on, sitting upright in a most abnormal way for someone in that sort of apparent distress. Nathan did the only thing he could think of. Being above all a warm-hearted and generous soul, he took Justin in his arms and pulled him into his shoulder. Arms clasped round Nathan’s waist, the boy’s warm body embraced him. It might have been arousing but for Justin’s sour smell, a combination of unwashed clothes, infrequent showers and hormones. Justin sobbed on, while Nathan’s bare shoulder got wet. After what seemed like half an hour but might have been a lot less, Justin raised his woeful tear-stained face to Nathan’s. And Nathan again did the only thing he could: he kissed a wet cheek and dried it with his fingers. The faint smile that appeared on Justin’s lips quite transformed his face. ‘Thanks … I’m sorry I called you a fuckwit.’ Wow, thought Nathan, he said thank you. ‘Er … when did you call me a fuckwit?’ ‘I did in my head. I gotta hardon still. Nathan …’ But Nathan, against all his better judgement, kissed him again, full on the lips now, the first time he had kissed another boy. Justin opened his mouth and their tongues danced in the warm wetness beyond their lips. It went on and on. Finally Nathan broke off. It had gone too far by then to pull back from what had to happen. He took Justin’s hand and led him silently to the open clubhouse. Justin followed without resistance. Nathan closed and locked the door. He stared at Justin and Justin stared back at him. He quickly lost his shorts and boots. Then he undressed a suddenly hesitant Justin, kneeling on the bare boards in front of the boy to slip his jeans and pants down over his hips to his ankles. Once they were both naked – hearts racing and ears buzzing – he closed his lips round the tip of the erect penis jutting out at him. He ran his tongue over the head, warm and salty to the taste. This was finally it, the gay sex he had been daring himself to try for so long. Now he had another boy who seemed to want it as much as he did. Ignoring the sour, stale-piss smell that hung around Justin’s crotch, Nathan slowly took more of the other boy’s length into his mouth. Justin gasped and grabbed his hair. Nathan’s hands went up to the small globes of Justin’s buttocks, gripping his bum and exploring it. He pulled the buttocks apart and probed in to find the entry to the boy’s anus, the goal of his most erotic fantasy. He stroked around the hole, making Justin arch. Then he pushed and it opened to him easily. Its owner had not lied about its having been well used in the past. Nathan probed deep into its hotness, feeling the tender inner wall while searching to find the spot he knew was there somewhere. He found the bump and massaged it, making Justin groan and his cock pulse. Nathan could not take too much of Justin in his mouth without gagging, but he got enough to start a sucking action. Soon Justin was pumping his face and gasping rhythmically. Nathan looked up and saw the boy’s eyes closed with ecstasy. ‘Aw man, you give the best head,’ Justin groaned as he let loose a sweet flood down Nathan’s throat. Nathan pulled off his penis to drag Justin down on top of himself. They squirmed together, kissing, their groins meshed stickily, thrusting against each other. The feeling of skin on skin electrified Nathan, and the sensation in his dick was awesome. This time it was Justin who took him in his mouth and brought him off. They collapsed back on the dusty floor and lay together naked for quite a while. Finally, Nathan stared with disgust at his stained fingers. He sat up and complained, ‘Justin, why don’t you wash out your arsehole if you want people to use it?’ Justin seemed to be coming out from under the effects of his inhibitor, his face alert and amused. He just chuckled. He then snuggled into Nathan’s broad chest and held him round his ribcage. Nathan found himself kissing Justin’s dark head, despite the flakes of dandruff all too evident in it. ‘What did we just do?’ he asked eventually. ‘Something nice,’ came the dreamy reply. ‘Are we gay?’ ‘Dunno. Maybe. But I really liked it. So what?’ Justin looked up into Nathan’s face. ‘Thank you. You did the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me.’ ‘Sucked you off?’ ‘Listened to me.’ ‘How long did you get abused, Just?’ ‘Bout a year. I never told anyone … dunno why. I knew it was wrong and I knew what abuse was. Maybe I didn’t want it to stop. That stepdad wasn’t the worst my mam found. Apart from fucking my ten-year-old butt, he was quite nice to us and we had money for a while. So maybe I thought if I said anything she’d go off and get another loser. In the end, he went off to Dubai on a contract and didn’t come back.’ ‘It’s not too late to go to the police about it.’ Justin gave a little laugh. ‘Me and the police are great mates, we are.’ ‘You got a case worker, haven’t you, and a doctor? They’d take it seriously. The bastard must still be out there doing it to other kids. Christ, Just, you just had a breakdown all over me … it’s important.’ ‘I like you to call me “Just”.’ Nathan smiled, reached down and sought the other boy’s welcoming mouth. Justin was quite a kisser and was erect again. Nathan shifted to his knees, took Justin in his hand and started working on him. ‘So, what do your friends usually call you?’ ‘Animal,’ Justin replied with a grimace. *** They returned to the work on the green. Justin was clearly escaping the effects of the suppressant and a faint smile played around his lips the rest of the day. The two boys kept glancing at each other as they got on with their edging and clipping, and it was Nathan this time who was perpetually aroused by the perfect curves of the other boy’s small bum. When Mr Anderson arrived with the van at five, he was impressed. ‘Good job lads, really good.’ He smiled at Justin. ‘Work like this every day, laddie, and we’ll be offering you a job.’ Justin had gone blank again, and just mumbled. But at least he didn’t tell Anderson what to do with his offer. Nathan and he looked tongue-tied at one another as Justin was dropped off at the home. Both wanted to say something, but couldn’t with Anderson in the van. ‘Er … bye, Just.’ ‘Yeah, bye.’ Justin stared after the disappearing van. Although the drug was dulling his mind, it didn’t cancel out his emotions or his sexuality. He knew he had experienced something new and very desirable with the gardener’s boy, and realised he wanted it again. But when would be the next time he was paired with Nathan? If his mind had been working normally, he would have taken Nathan’s mobile number. Even though he was in lock-down, there were ways to get out messages. But the opportunity was gone. Lying in his room that night, all he could think of was Nathan’s handsome body, the muscles shifting under the velvet skin, the long thick cock in its dark smudge of pubic bush, and the smell of his sweat. He wanted so badly to be possessed by Nathan again that he might have been taking Viagra rather than an inhibitor, considering the reaction in his groin. It was not just physical desire he felt; he was all too familiar with that. There was something else and it was new. Nathan had held him, had kissed him, had cared about him and had helped him – a lot more than all the social workers and shrinks he had been sent to. And why? He thought long and hard about it, and then it clicked. For all Justin’s sordid background, he was not only bright but observant about others and himself. He wanted to be liked by Nathan, wanted to be attractive to him. He wanted him so much he was willing to try being another person for a while.
  14. It was three days before Justin was paired up again with Nathan. In the meantime, he worked patiently and obediently with the other men, if still a little slowly. Mr Anderson was delighted, as was Tanya the case officer, who put it down to the drug. It was a Friday when the van arrived with a beaming Nathan in the front seat. Justin’s heart leaped. The most unaccustomed broad smile appeared on his face, startling Anderson until he noticed it mirrored Nathan’s. Ah … that’s it, he thought. The boys have made friends. That’s good. Nathan’s a fine lad and a great role model. The van took them south to Highgate to drop them off at the same big house where Justin had fatefully met Andrew Peacher. They unloaded their tools and transferred the grobags and bark chippings up the drive to the back of the house. Anderson smiled at Justin. ‘Now be good.’ And Justin smiled back. ‘I will, I promise.’ As the van disappeared, the two boys looked at each other, wondering how to take up where they had left off. They had matching erections. ‘Just, we gotta do the work,’ Nathan insisted. ‘I guess.’ ‘But I have to admit I’ve not thought of anything but you since Tuesday.’ ‘Me too. Can we, y’know …?’ ‘Oh yeah, we certainly can, if we can find somewhere. And I gotta have your number and stuff. But Just, I don’t even know your surname.’ ‘It’s Macavoy.’ ‘Hi.’ He grinned, holding out his hand. ‘I’m Nathan Underwood.’ Justin grinned back. ‘Pleased to meetchya. Say, didn’t I have your cock in my mouth a few days ago?’ ‘D’you know, I believe you did.’ They laughed, moved hesitantly towards each other, then hugged hard. They quickly broke apart, taking the tools and gardening materials out on to the big patio. It was a glorious, pollution-free day and they could see the panorama of the Thames basin blue in the morning light over the fence. ‘D’you think that Peacher bloke is still here?’ ‘Embarrassed now, are you?’ ‘Er … not really; they call me Animal for a reason. I don’t have much of a conscience.’ *** They worked hard all morning, sweating in the heat. Nathan glanced over at Justin from time to time. The boy was looking fitter and a lot less pale. He had adopted Nathan’s gardening uniform of boots and cut-offs. Nathan wondered if he had done it deliberately as a sign of trust and affection. Justin’s thick dark hair was growing out too, and he was looking less lean and wolfish. As Nathan freely admitted to himself, he was besotted with the boy. What worried him was that he knew so little about Justin, and what little he did know was alarming. The boy had been sexually abused, was a petty criminal, had a stack of ASBOs against him, and was controlled by drugs. If a relationship ever had total disaster written all over it, this was it. Despite his misgivings, however, his heart beat hard when he was close to Justin. It seemed that in some way he loved the boy, he really did, although what it was he loved he could not have said. Justin was all he could think about, and sex with him had been magnificent beyond anything else he had ever experienced. About ten-thirty, Little Guy from the garage office came out with bottles of water and a flask of coffee. After introducing himself as Dave, he told them they could go in and use the loos in the big house, providing they entered through the kitchen door and kept off the carpets. They smiled and thanked him. As he disappeared, Justin leaned up against Nathan and related what he had seen Dave and his boyfriend up to the previous week. Nathan’s cut-offs bulged at the graphic description. ‘Wanna try that?’ ‘What, anal?’ ‘Take it from me – and I should know – it’s worth a go. And … I’d like you up me, Nate. You’re cool and nice and … loving. It’d be good with you. I really want it, I do. More than anything.’ ‘I dunno, Just. I’m not sure I’m up for that yet. Then there’s issues about protection and stuff. I got no condoms or lubricants, and the idea of going into a chemist to buy them gives me the chills.’ Justin shrugged. ‘Well, some other time maybe. The offer’s always there. I even had a big shit and washed my arse out for you this morning.’ Nathan laughed. ‘That’s so touching, Just. And I’m not saying no, only that it’s a big step for me. So keep washing your arse out.’ At lunchtime they were working side by side bedding plants in a border. Justin nudged Nathan and suggested that it was ‘time for a wazz, know what I mean?’ They got up and went in through the kitchen, which was large and looked like something out of a Sunday colour supplement. ‘Wow. This Peacher bloke’s certainly got cash, ain’t he?’ Nathan shook his head. ‘No, he doesn’t own it. It belongs to an English guy called White. Peacher is gay and White’s his boyfriend. Mostly they’re in the States, but White runs a media firm here in London.’ Justin took it all in. ‘Well, that would explain Dave the bottom boy in the garage then. Maybe White screws him when Peacher's away.’ ‘Bottom boy?’ ‘A gay who prefers it up his arse. I think I may be one.’ ‘Gay?’ ‘Well yeah, that too, but also a bottom … seriously, I’d like you inside me, Nate.’ ‘I know. But we gotta be careful.’ ‘You don’t trust me, do ya.’ ‘It’s not that, but I don’t know if I want to, and yeah … tell me with a straight face that your dick hasn’t been in some strange places!’ ‘Fair enough.’ They took off their boots and left them in the kitchen. Padding barefoot past the downstairs loo they climbed the wide stairs, lit by a dramatic stained-glass window, and found the magnificent upstairs bathroom, a dream in white tiles, ceramic and stainless steel. Their cut-offs were soon on the floor, their erections proudly on display. Justin knelt and worshipped Nathan’s, licking and sucking his testicles, then pushing behind them to the hot and hairy place between Nathan’s sturdy thighs. ‘Can you get on your back, Nate?’ Nathan did what he was asked, and Justin pushed his legs back on his chest, exposing his anus. ‘God, I really, really wanted to do this,’ he murmured to himself. He began licking and sucking on Nathan’s hole, swirling his insistent tongue round the puckered crater, savouring the musky odour of the boy and the taste of his sweat. ‘Oh man, this is incredible!’ Nathan breathed, his hand on his own curving erection, stroking it gently. Justin, ever patient, enjoyed the groaning and squirming he was producing in Nathan. He finally broke off and pushed a finger gently inside, soon followed by another, twisting and stroking. ‘Aw yeah, aw God!’ was Nathan’s response. ‘You want it too, dunya?’ Justin whispered. ‘God, yeah.’ ‘Come on Nate, do it to me now.’ Nathan struggled up and copied Justin’s moves. He noticed how this time the boy was clean between his legs, his crack smelling still of its morning wash. He put two fingers in Justin, who soon showed he could take three with ease and enthusiasm. As Nathan continued his probing and twisting, he happened to glance up and caught sight of a box on the bathroom shelf. He pulled his fingers out, stood and took a condom. ‘You really want me to?’ Justin looked seriously up at him. ‘Please … please, Nate. Fill me up.’ Nathan rolled the sheath down on himself and leaned back over Justin. He caught the boy’s splayed legs under the knees, pushing them back over his shoulders to get him ready to receive the plunge. ‘Hang on,’ cautioned Justin. He gobbed on his fingers and rubbed the copious spit in and around his hole. ‘Okay. Fuck me.’ Nathan positioned his cock and thrust. There was little resistance. He slid home in the boy in almost one go, eliciting a brief, muffled yelp, then a slow escape of breath, and finally a deep moan of lust. Gazing down at Justin’s face, he found it transformed. Gone was the spoiled, aggressive brat, replaced by an exalted and ecstatic lover. It was a moving sight. The youthful good looks had been liberated of the aggressive sneer that had possessed them for so long, turning Justin into a boy to be desired. An expression both touching and beautiful glowed in his eyes. This was why Nathan had fallen for him. Well versed in realising the beauty of a planted garden, Nathan had seen this boy’s human beauty waiting to escape its winter blight. Buried deep inside Justin and looking longingly into his face, he could do nothing other than say, ‘I love you, Just.’ Writhing and gasping, Justin arched his body and bit his lips, his eyes pleading for more. ‘Me too … love you, Nate. Oh God, do me! Now!’ Nathan fell into an insistent rhythm. Taking his time, he became more and more excited as Justin’s moans moved from lustful to ecstatic and beyond. He was fucking another boy’s brains out. At some point Justin completely lost it and started burbling a mindless stream of profanities. Then he bucked Nate upwards with his heaving groin as he orgasmed, his dick spraying semen over both their chests. That was it. Nathan began screwing in earnest and his own ejaculation stopped time for him for a good twenty seconds. They collapsed together in a tight embrace, their mouths sucking on each other’s. ‘Oh God, God, God,’ gasped Justin. ‘That was sex the way it was meant to be. No girl did that for me. I really, really love you, Nate.’ They lay there on the bathroom floor for a while until Nathan sniffed Justin’s armpit. ‘We smell like a rugby player’s jockstrap, Justy babe.’ ‘Justy babe!’ ‘Stay with me. I’m experimenting here.’ Justin laughed. ‘Natty babe.’ ‘Don’t be mean. You said you loved me.’ Justin looked earnestly into his eyes. ‘And I do. It’s a new thing for me. I’d never have guessed my first would be a gardener’s apprentice. But I’ve been ploughed by a professional, thass for sure. ‘Let’s sneak a shower, huh?’ Nathan flushed away the used condom. The shower was brilliant, needle sharp and hot. They kissed and soaped one another under the thunder of water, to emerge clean and relaxed. The bathroom clock said it was one-thirty. Nathan sighed. ‘Back to work, mate.’ They tidied up and resumed their shorts. Clasping hands, they walked out laughing on to the landing and straight into the path of a very beautiful man who had just come softly up the stairs. He gave them a quick onceover as they stood rigid before him, mouths agape. ‘So who’s been soaping in my shower? The Two Bares?’
  15. HISTORICAL NOTE: The ‘chav’ is very much a British phenomenon of the turn of the millennium: the Burberry baseball cap pitched far back on the head, trakkies (tracksuit) and bling (heavy jewellery). The following adjectives are said to apply to most chavs: skiving, drugged out, drunken, homophobic, randy, dysfunctional, thick. These days the chav phenomenon is seen more as a stratagem of the political elite to demonise the working class. But in the poetry and music of The Streets, and in gay fantasy, there is another sort of chav – street-smart, redeemable, betrayed and sad. Justin Macavoy, the ‘Chav Prince’, is that sort. Holloway Road was glistening with an early-morning drizzle. Buses and cars hissed along, splashing through the standing puddles. Groups of school kids stood disconsolately in shop doorways, waiting for the buses. The younger ones were squeezed out into the rain by the Year 10 and Year 11 packs, mixed groups of smoking and swearing blank-eyed or mischievous youths. The buses came, the kids shambled on, throwing their cigarettes into the gutters, and the street was turned over to the few shoppers willing to brave a wet, cold March morning – apart, that is, from a couple of Year 10 boys who had slipped down a side alley when their colleagues had surged to the bus doors. ‘Useless mornin’ innit,’ complained the taller of them. Actually, he said, ‘Fuckin’ useless cunt of a mornin’ innit,’ but the multiple expletives will just have to be understood to have been said. ‘Arcade?’ asked the smaller lad, wrapped up in a green parka, the inevitable Burberry ballcap perched at an angle on his head. ‘Nah. Community coppers got ‘em frightened. And you look like a kid. No way we can pass you off as a school-leaver.’ ‘Fuck. Might as well have gone to school.’ They continued walking in silence. ‘Me mam’ll be in work at eleven,’ the shorter one finally offered. ‘We could sneak in the flat. ‘Er first shift doan’ end till mid-afternoon. Least it’ll be dry.’ ‘Fuckin’ good call,’ said the taller boy. So they found a derelict garage behind some shops and sat smoking, staring out at the falling rain and sniggering at a dismembered porn magazine scattered over the rubble on the floor. ‘E’s well hung, that bloke, innee?’ decided the smaller boy. ‘Mus’ be nine inches.’ ‘E’s a freak. Six inches is normal.’ The smaller boy jeered, ‘So you’re normal then, innya?’ ‘Yeah, and you’re subnormal.’ ‘Sluts doan’ complain. I can keep it up like I eat Viagra sandwiches.’ ‘Who you screwin’ at the moment?’ asked the taller boy. ‘No one. After I got Jade pregnant, they think I’m bad luck.’ ‘She ‘av the kid then?’ ‘Dunno. ‘Er mum juss screams at me when she sees me.’ They chatted on desultorily, swapping their sexual anecdotes, some of them even true. The smaller boy took the lead in the conversation. He sat on a pile of rubble, chewing gum and holding forth like a lawyer. His face was animated and, when relaxed, not unpleasant. Only a few spots disfigured its boyish perfection. The problem with it was the knowing sneer that had made its home there. No one seeing it would make the mistake of thinking this was a nice boy, even if he was nice looking. The looks had been so far used only as bait to the trap that was his rampant and precocious sexuality. His taller friend was very different: vacuous and wall-eyed. Finally they stirred and shambled back into the misty rain, heading for a block of fifties flats off the Seven Sisters Road. As the smaller boy was putting his key in the lock, they became aware of two tall dark figures detaching themselves from the corners to block their retreat efficiently. The taller boy made a bolt for it nonetheless, only to be collared by one of the men and slammed into a wall. The other man smiled easily down on the smaller boy, who looked resigned and had not moved. ‘Morning, Justin. Didn’t make it to school, I see.’ ‘Fuck off.’ ‘Nice. You’re coming along with us. Your social worker wants a word with you, you’ve breached your last ASBO, and the magistrate’s court’s waiting for you.’ * * * Justin had found a spot behind the potting shed, next to the compost heap. It was sheltered and he could have an uninterrupted gasper until he was missed. The sound of clipping came from the other side of the shed as Nathan the Fuckwit edged the lawn with care and devotion. What a complete tosser. Justin hated him. He hated the whole world and everything and everyone in it. The bastards had finally caught up with him, as he had sworn they never would. He was in secure accommodation and was force-marched daily into a positive-action programme. They even took his cigarettes off him if they could find them. He hadn’t had a joint since February, and it was now the beginning of May. The only sex he was getting was with his hand … which reminded him. He got his penis out and began slowly stroking it, imagining it was stuck in those hot, slick places where he had occasionally managed to insert it. Justin had a powerful sexual drive, more so than most boys his age, and his penis often seemed to him to be permanently hard. He had to jerk off at least three times a day, yet still fountained on the last round. Sex and Justin had not been strangers since he was twelve and had first talked himself into a girl’s panties. He did not include the earlier experiences when his second stepfather had ‘played’ with him in the bath. In fact, that was something he tried not to think about at all: the big man, his trousers and pants down around his ankles, holding a squirming and naked Justin on his lap. There would be a sharp pain in the boy’s backside, followed by the tearing of the friction inside him, the grunting and the smells. It had only stopped when his mother had found a new partner. He had never told. He gave a stifled gasp and spurted his semen on the ground, six impressive jets. He sighed, licked off what had dribbled on to his right hand, and zipped up. He flipped his ciggy butt into the compost, picked up his trowel and slid back into the garden. As he reappeared, Nathan straightened and looked round. ‘Had your fag then, Justin?’ ‘Fuck off.’ ‘Planning to do any work today?’ ‘Fuck off.’ ‘Just spread the compost around that border next to the shed.’ ‘Fuck off.’ It amused Justin at the moment to confine himself to that single phrase when talking to Nathan. Justin had to get his amusement where he could, and baiting this gardening apprentice was the best he could manage for the time being. He was escorted daily to the gardening firm to which he had been assigned, where he had to spend six hours working with the staff – although he had little intention of actually performing any labour. After three weeks he had hoped they would tell his case officer to take him away. Unfortunately, the boss, Mr Anderson, was persistent and had a lot of experience with hard cases. He rotated Justin around the teams. They played a patient game with the boy until he had got so bored that on three occasions he actually did something: clipping a hedge in a desultory fashion, digging a trench and spreading mulch. He detested the smile on the old man’s face when Anderson had caught him at work the second time. With Nathan, however, Justin refused to lift a finger. He hated the fuckwit, his clear eyes, athletic body and golden tan. He hated his eagerness to please, his easy politeness and his willingness to get stuck in. The boy was everything Justin despised, a walking accusation. Then Nathan did the thing Justin hated most: he stood up and stripped off his top, exposing a well-developed chest and six-pack. The fuckwit worked out and wanted the whole world to know it. Justin sneered as Nathan caught his eye. ‘You gay, Nathan?’ Nathan smiled. ‘Fuck off.’ ‘Witty bastard.’ Defiantly crossing his arms as the fuckwit got back to his edging, Justin looked round. It was a hot May morning, the first heat wave of the year, and the temperature was climbing up into the mid-twenties. They were on Highgate Hill, doing the long back garden of a big private house whose French windows were open on to the raised patio. Justin reckoned it was the second time they had been there. On the previous occasion the house had been empty, but now someone was at home. Ghastly classical music drifted out from an open window upstairs. Justin strolled back past the shed to the opposite end of the garden, where he found a converted garage. The lower floor had been turned into a fully equipped office, while the upstairs seemed to be a flat, judging by the colourful curtains at the windows. A dark-haired, thin young man could be seen working at a computer in the office, a pencil clenched between his teeth and a phone wedged between his cheek and his shoulder. He had his back to the window and was oblivious of Justin outside. Justin watched him replace the phone and make a scribbled note. As the man was doing it another one came up silently behind him, a powerful, good-looking bloke well over six foot tall and almost as broad, who clearly had designs on the smaller man. As Little Guy stood up and bent over to get a file, Big Guy pounced and pulled his trousers and pants down to his knees, exposing his white arse. Justin caught his breath. Big Guy was only wearing shorts and a top. These disappeared and, pushing Little Guy’s shirt up to his armpits, Big Guy thrust his invisible but obvious erection in deep. There was laughter and a gasp, audible even outside to Justin. Then Little Guy was being vigorously and mercilessly humped by his lover. Justin was transfixed. He was seeing anal sex between two men. God! His own erection was splitting his pants. He did not want to look away but, embarrassed by his fascination, finally did so with a tearing effort. Desperate to take his mind off what he had witnessed, he knelt down and started spreading the compost, as he had been asked. He was sweating, and it was not because of the heat of the day. His stomach was full of butterflies and he was light headed. Justin had been deeply aroused in a familiar and unwelcome way for him. To see that slight, dark man being thrust into by his powerful lover had stirred him to his foundations. The memory of what his stepfather had done to him as a boy flooded back. It was not the pain and the outrage that dominated this time, however. Instead, it was the guilty pleasure he’d gotten from the big caressing hands covering his stiff ten-year-old penis and from the fullness of his strained anal sphincter. With a sense of real horror Justin realised that he wanted it again, and badly. His erection would not go down. He was still preoccupied when he was startled by a voice in his ear. ‘Good job, lad.’ Justin stood and looked at old man Anderson, accompanied by a blond stranger in his twenties, exactly of a height with himself. Justin had unconsciously mulched an entire border, and had done it well. He suddenly hated old man Anderson as much as he hated himself. The stranger smiled at him and said pleasantly in an American accent, ‘It really looks great, kid.’ ‘Fuck off,’ replied Justin.
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