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    Filzmoos
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A Different Love - 29. Chapter 29

Monday morning started off disastrously. I was in Hamborough on my way to the gym when two fire engines passed me at high speed, sirens blaring. Heavy smoke filled the air from several streets away and it was only when I turned the last corner that I realized the fire was actually at the gym. As I approached, smoke was billowing from the roof and flames were licking the upper floors. I stood and watched transfixed, as firemen sprayed the building with multiple jets of water. A crowd of people had gathered to watch, standing behind a makeshift barrier of bollards and police warning tape. A squat bald-headed man standing next to me chuckled as he remarked in a loud voice

“Looks like the last people who are going to get any exercise here for a while are the firemen!”

“Any idea how it started” I asked him.

“Haven’t a clue” he said, shrugging his shoulders and turning back to watch the fire.

I sighed to myself, wondering what to do. It was 10am and my train to work didn’t leave the station until 12:15. It wasn’t worth going home again, so I had over two hours to kill. I scratched my head and sighed loudly. I didn’t fancy sitting on the railway station or looking around the shops, so what could I do? Finally, I decided to go to the library. It’d be warm in there and I could just sit and read and then take a steady walk back to the railway station nearer the time.

The library was at the far end of town, but the ten-minute walk would do me good, if only to compensate slightly for the exercise I was missing out on. It was market day and I set off down the busy high street, doing my best to avoid the throng of Monday morning shoppers. The warm air hit me as I opened the library door and stepped inside, hastily closing it behind me. The librarian glanced up as a gust of cold air drifted towards the reception desk and looking at me over the top of her glasses, smiled and nodded in acknowledgement. I nodded back and made my way towards the well stocked reference section nearby. I soon found a couple of books about classic cars and became so completely engrossed in them that the time slipped by unnoticed. I casually glanced at the clock some time later and was horrified to discover it was already five past twelve. Hurriedly grabbing my coat from the back of the chair I rushed from the building, leaving the books I’d been reading open on the table behind me. As I left the library all I could hear ringing in my ears was the lady behind the desk as she shouted out to me in an agitated tone.

“EXCUSE ME YOUNG MAN…….!!”

Her voice was immediately lost in the noise from outside as the door slammed shut behind me. I would have to go back and apologise at the first opportunity, I thought to myself, but for now I made my way through the high street as fast as I could, becoming increasingly frustrated as I tried to avoid a multitude of obstacles in my path. As I approached the busy market place people meandered slowly between the stalls and prams seemed to appear from nowhere to block my way. There were shouts of indignation as I pushed my way through the crowds and I must have said sorry a hundred times. Finally, I was clear of the market place and able to run the rest of the way. There was a sudden squeal of brakes and a shout of anger as I crossed the road without looking, narrowly avoiding an oncoming bus. Mentally wiping my brow at the near miss, I continued up the hill towards the station, giving a sigh of relief when I finally got there. Almost at once my brief euphoria disappeared as I tore into the station, only to discover that my train was just leaving the platform. I collapsed against a wall cursing loudly, and the sweat poured off me as my chest heaved up and down with exertion.

After a while my breathing slowly returned to normal and I studied the timetable, anxious to know how late I would be for work. The next train to the city wasn't due to depart until 12:50 and was already running ten minutes late. That meant if it wasn’t delayed anymore, I would probably be about forty minutes late for work, but hopefully I could sneak in and no one would notice. I knew that the manager was off today and with a bit of luck the supervisor would be busy with a customer.

The train finally left the station just after one o’clock and I stared out of the window as it quickly gathered speed. Buildings flashed by, eventually giving way to fields and open countryside. I began to think about Nathan and his smiling face immediately danced before my eyes. Realising that I couldn’t wait to see him again, I prayed he would be at the station that evening to collect me. Erotic thoughts entered my mind and I was soon removing his clothing, desperately longing to discover what lay beneath. A girl sitting opposite gazed at me curiously and I smiled to myself, safe in the knowledge that my secret thoughts could never be exposed.

The buildings gradually returned as the city grew nearer and I stood up to move closer to the doors, ready to alight. I glanced nervously at the girl sitting opposite, hoping she didn’t notice the obvious reaction to my thoughts.

The platform was busy as I stepped off the train and I fought my way through the throng of people that seemed to block my every move. A party of school children nearby whooped excitedly, inadvertently restricting the entrance to the footbridge. Eventually I entered the main concourse and left the station, rushing along the high street towards the store. The usual ten minute walk took only five and I hastily punched in the security code at the side door. Luckily there was no one about in the corridor or staff room and I stuffed the bag I'd brought with me into my locker, at the same time reaching for the uniform shirt and tie hanging inside. In no time at all I was ready and with one last look in the mirror, smoothed my hair down to make sure I looked presentable. Satisfied at last with my appearance, I hurried from the room, planning to enter the shop through the storeroom.

I didn’t think my day could get any worse until I spotted Craig and Aiden, laughing and joking together. They were standing in the store room near the door into the shop and I realized with dismay that it was too late to avoid them. My heart sank as I walked towards them, ready for the usual sarcastic comments that were sure to follow. Since the episode on the bus, my relationship with Aiden had improved somewhat, but now that Craig had returned to the store I knew it would quickly deteriorate again under his influence. Sure enough, Aiden blocked the doorway into the shop and Craig shook his head disparagingly.

“Now then Jason, late again are we?” he taunted, smirking at Aiden.

It would have been far better to ignore them, but as usual, I couldn't help biting. “What do you mean, again!” I answered indignantly "I'm never late"

He carried on talking to Aiden as if I hadn't spoken and I could feel my face beginning to redden. “He thinks we don’t notice” he remarked, in mock despair

“Get lost” I said, beginning to get annoyed.

I was just about to push him roughly aside when his next comment stopped me in my tracks.

“Anyway, saw you at the cinema yesterday” he continued, in his usual derisory tone.

“Yeah, so what?” I answered nervously "There's nothing unusual about that"

He quickly latched on to the slightly defensive tone in my voice and I was suddenly more than anxious to get away.

"There is when you go with your boyfriend!" he laughed, nudging Aiden.

His eyes widened in surprise as he spoke for the first time. "So who was it you were with then Jason?"

I began edging towards the door and he put his hand on my arm to stop me.

"It was a mate" I replied evasively "Not that it's got anything to do with you two!"

"They looked very cosy together" chipped in Craig "Went straight to the back row!" he added suggestively.

I immediately froze. What he was insinuating sent shock waves hurtling throughout my body and the blood rushing to my head. With a jolt I realized Craig must have followed us into the cinema and watched us sit down.

“I reckon it’s his new boyfriend Aiden, what do you think?” he continued

“Definitely” agreed Aiden, sniggering at my discomfort.

“Drop dead!” I growled bitterly, angrily shaking my arm free of his hand.

By now my face was burning with embarrassment and I pushed my way roughly between them. The fact that they always managed to wind me up made me almost as angry as what they'd said and I quickly left the room, hurt and upset, with their laughter ringing in my ears.

When I entered the shop the supervisor was busy dealing with a customer and had her back to me. Hopefully if Craig and Aiden kept their mouths shut, I might just get away with being late. The store was extremely busy and I quickly became engaged with a customer, pushing the episode in the storeroom to the back of my mind.

The rest of the day was lost in a blur of customers. Before I knew it the shop had closed and I was walking back to the station. Almost immediately the episode in the store room came back to haunt me and I realized the hurtful comments made by Craig and Aiden were still uppermost in my mind. The anger rose up inside me once again as I desperately tried to remain calm and think of a way to ease the situation. I could always report them to the manager, I thought despairingly, but that would almost certainly have the opposite effect of what I was trying to achieve. The last thing I needed was for everyone to discover I really was gay and there was no doubt that if I reported them to Mr. Buchan, Craig and Aiden would ensure that the whole store knew about the cinema in no time at all. The best thing to do was ignore them, refuse to let them wind me up, but unfortunately that was easier said than done. They knew exactly which buttons to press and this being work, it was pretty difficult to avoid them. Nevertheless, it was the only idea I could come up with and I would have to try and make it work. My eyes momentarily blurred with tears as I thought how unfair it all was. Why was it so difficult to be gay? And why was there always someone waiting to abuse and belittle you? No doubt the question had been asked a million times before, but still there was no definitive answer. The general mindset was such that to stand out from the crowd often meant being treated like some kind of inferior freak or pariah, a second class citizen no less. No wonder it was such a trauma for the majority of people to come out. Such dark thoughts continued to haunt me as I boarded the train and sped towards Hamborough. Thankfully, there was light at the end of the tunnel as my thoughts quickly turned to Nathan, desperately hoping he would be at the station to meet me.

As the train slowly drew into Hamborough and came to a stop with a loud screech, I thought for one terrible moment he wasn’t there, and my heart began to race. I jabbed the illuminated ‘Open’ button on the door impatiently, and as it began to slide slowly back, heaved a huge sigh of relief as I spotted him coming out of the waiting room. A wide smile lit up his handsome face as soon as he saw me and he greeted me with his usual burst of enthusiasm.

"Hiya Jase, good day?"

There was a brief silence as I thought back to the episode with Craig and Aiden earlier on and half opened my mouth to speak. A second or two later I thought better of it but by then it was too late as Nathan immediately latched on to my hesitation.

"Not so good then?" he remarked, raising his eyebrows.

"I've had better!" I replied with feeling.

"Tell me all about it in the car" he said, grasping my elbow and steering me towards the station entrance.

His car was parked on the opposite side of the road and he quickly opened the doors with his electronic key. It still felt warm inside, despite the cold weather, and as soon as Nathan got inside he switched on the fan and hot air immediately began to swirl around my legs. He immediately enquired about my day as we set off down the hill

"So what's the problem at work?"

"Oh, a couple of the guys are morons" I began to explain, trying to keep the bitterness out of my voice "Always winding me up about something or other"

I was glad that the darkness of the car hid the expression of hurt and frustration on my face. There was no doubt that if Nathan could see how upset I was he would have wanted to know all the details and I was unwilling to divulge anything they'd said.

"Yeah, tell me about it!" he replied, shaking his head.

The rueful tone in his voice suggested he was suffering from the same kind of thing and for some reason I was surprised by the revelation. In the relatively short time I'd known him he didn’t seem to be the type of guy that others would dislike, but then again, his father did own the factory. Before I could ask any more questions he dismissed the problem with a wave of his hand.

“Anyway, let’s forget about them, they’re not worth worrying about”

Unfortunately the nagging doubts in the back of my mind refused to go away and I couldn’t help feeling that today’s confrontation with Craig and Aiden was just the start of something a whole lot worse. I turned my attention back to Nathan, glad he was unaware of the details of today’s events.

“Do you fancy a pint Jase” he suggested as we drove through town. “I can only have one though” he added, gently tapping the steering wheel. “I’ve got to drive home”

I was secretly pleased that we wouldn't be drinking more. The last thing I wanted was a repeat performance of Friday night, especially when I had to work the following day. To relax with a pint in Nathan's company was just what I needed though and I readily agreed.

"Yeah, I'd love one!"

“Good. Do you want to stop in town or go to the Swan?”

“We’ll go to the Swan if you like”

“Yeah ok, Swan it is then” he agreed with a nod.

As we drove towards Dryford thoughts of the situation at work slowly began to fade and my mind drifted back to the events of that morning.

“Hey you’ll never guess what happened today Naith" I exclaimed, answering my own question before he had time to respond “The gym burnt down!”

"Oh yeah, I heard some of the guys at work talking about that”

“I don’t know how it started though”

“Some girls said it was a guy called Jason” he said, with a deadpan expression on his face

“Jason?” I asked, puzzled

“Yeah, apparently they said he was so hot the place just went up in flames”

He gazed at the expression on my face and burst out laughing. Punching him on the arm, I couldn't help joining in and chastised him good-naturedly.

“Idiot! I almost believed you then”

He laughed at my response before continuing “Did you actually see it on fire then?”

“Yeah, I was there when they were trying to put it out. It was way too late though, the fire had really got hold by then”

“No exercise today then!”

“No, and I don’t know what I’ll do now. There isn’t anywhere else in Hamborough until the new place opens”

Yeah, that’s a bummer!” exclaimed Nathan ruefully “I was going to join this week too”

“On top of that I missed the train and was late for work” I continued, shaking my head.

“How come? he asked "I thought you’d have had plenty of time, not going to the gym”

“I did have, but....Look, don't laugh!" I pleaded, breaking off in mid sentence.

It was totally the wrong thing to say of course and a smile was already curling around his mouth. Now that I'd started telling him there was no going back and I sighed before continuing.

"I decided to go to the library instead and didn’t realize what the time was. I had to run all the way back to the station and when I got there the train was just leaving”

“At least you got some exercise!” he said, trying to stifle a laugh.

“Yeah, but I didn’t want it like that!”

“So how late were you for work?”

“Oh, about forty five minutes, but hopefully I got away with it. The supervisor was really busy”

Unless Craig and Aiden blabbed, I thought to myself. A shiver of fear ran through me as their insinuations came rushing back, but I pushed them to the back of my mind, determined they wouldn’t overshadow my time with Nathan.

Twenty minutes later we drove into the car park at the back of the Swan. As we got out a twinge of pain in my wrist reminded me of Friday night and I gazed at the wall running down one side. The brickwork was old and damaged, with countless sharp edges exposed and I realised with a jolt that if it hadn't been for Nathan the accident could have been much worse.

"Thanks for helping me on Friday night Naith" I said, giving a slight shiver as I nodded towards the wall.

"It's ok Jase. I still feel partly responsible for encouraging you to drink so much in the first place"

He opened the pub door and signalled for me to enter first. The lounge bar was almost empty and the low hum of conversation and occasional clink of glasses were the only sounds to be heard. The usual roaring fire warmed the room, lighting up the fireplace with its dancing flames.

"Sit down Naith, l'll get these" I volunteered, walking towards the bar before he could protest.

It was the same barman from Friday night and he gazed at me warily as I ordered the drinks.

"Two pints please" I asked, trying to avoid his stern gaze

With a silent nod he reached for a glass and began pulling the hand pump towards him. Beer and foam instantly gushed into the glass and he quickly tilted it to one side to avoid the golden liquid from overflowing. He spoke without taking his eyes off the glass and his voice held an underlying tone of warning.

"Best not have too many tonight, eh son?" he said quietly.

His attitude wasn't particularly friendly and I could feel my face growing warmer as I quickly agreed.

"Erm, no of course not"

He took my money and I lifted the pints off the bar, suddenly in a hurry to get away. As I made my way across the room towards Nathan, beer dripped down my fingers onto the dark wooden floor. Placing the drinks on the table I flicked my hand towards his face and he shied away, trying to avoid the drops of beer flying towards him.

"Sorry" I said, laughing out loud "My hand slipped"

"Yeah right" he said, laughing at my false apology "That’s why I'm covered in beer"

"Slight exaggeration there Naith"

"You'd be covered too" he went on, with a mischievous smile on his face "But we'd probably get thrown out for having a beer fight!"

"Definitely, I'd say. I don't think the barman was very pleased to see me"

"Why, what did he say?"

I took a sip of beer before continuing and raised my glass towards him "Cheers"

"Cheers" he responded, gazing at me enquiringly.

"Oh, nothing really" I explained, making light of it "He just told me to make sure I don't drink too much"

"Oh well. He's got nothing to worry about tonight that’s for sure, we're only staying for one”

I nodded in agreement and he tapped my arm excitedly "Anyway, never mind him, I've had a great idea!"

"What?" I asked, taking a gulp of beer

"Well, since we can't go to the gym, why don't we go swimming instead?"

I coughed unexpectedly, almost choking on my beer as a vision of Nathan's half naked body flooded my mind.

“Hey, are you ok? he exclaimed, patting me on the back.

"Yeah, don’t worry. It just went down the wrong way"

"So....what do you think?"

"It's a brilliant idea. When can we go?" I asked eagerly.

Nathan stroked his chin as he thought about it. "What about Friday? You’re finishing early for your birthday and I finish at 1pm?”

"Yeah, that'd be great!" I exclaimed enthusiastically "I haven't been swimming for ages"

In reality I was on the edge of my seat, trying to imagine what Nathan would look like in swim shorts. I'd been longing to see his naked body ever since we first met and now it was going to happen. I imagined the water dripping off his blonde hair and running down his chest and offered up a silent prayer of thanks for the turn of events leading up to his idea. Who knows, if I prayed long enough, he might even wear speedos!

"Good!" he replied with a satisfied smile "I love swimming"

We drained the last of our beer and stood up to leave. The barman was watching us from across the room and I gazed back at him with a slightly defiant look. He broke eye contact immediately and I couldn't help congratulating myself on the small but significant victory. Nathan headed for the back door and I quickly followed behind, unable to stop my eyes from drifting downwards towards his rear. Once outside, we stood talking for a minute beside his car until he finally opened the door and sat inside.

"I'll see you tomorrow night at the station then"

I gazed at him with a puzzled glance and rested my arm on the open door.

"I thought you said you were only working until 4pm tomorrow?"

"I am"

"Nathan! You don't have to come all the way into town just to take me home, I can get the bus!"

"I don't mind, honest" he said, smiling at the doubtful look I gave him. "And anyway, I want to" he added simply.

My heart soared as I realised he must really like me. If he was prepared to put himself out by collecting me from the station, taking me home to Dryford and then returning to his own flat in potentially dreadful weather, he must at the very least put some value on our friendship.

"Thanks Nathan” I smiled appreciatively “That's really good of you"

"No problem." he said, flashing me a smile "That's what friends are for"

I wanted to say that I'd never had a friend like him before, but immediately stopped myself. In a few days I'd become fiercely protective of my relationship with Nathan and the last thing I wanted to do was jeopardise it by being too clingy. He started the engine and I shut his door, bending over slightly through the open window to say goodbye. I imagined parting with a soft kiss but he turned his attention to the gear stick and shifted the car into reverse. As I stood aside it began moving slowly backwards, turning to one side in a sweeping arc. As the car began to move slowly forwards he waved and shouted goodbye, before disappearing through the open exit of the car park. I wished he didn’t have to go, but just thinking about him made me smile like a Cheshire cat. There was something about Nathan that always made me feel good about myself and I walked home with a spring in my step, hardly able to wait until it was time to see him again.

 

Copyright © 2021 Filzmoos; All Rights Reserved.
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I'm beginning to wonder if the title to this story has significant meaning to the type of relationship these two are developing!  It does seem be a different kind of love!

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On 7/28/2021 at 12:05 AM, drsawzall said:

Jason needs to find the courage to stand up for himself. Until then, how can he expect his life to improve. His vacillations are becoming tiresome to say the least. Some testicular fortitude is called for. Life does go on and it will get better once you overcome your insecurities!

Craig and Aiden are asswaffels wearing juvenile asshats, a sharp comment or two, pointing out that the two of them are a bit more than chummy should do the trick, let them know if they keep it up there will be consequences. 

 

Craig is a fuckwit and Aiden a spineless turd who cannot think for himself. I agree with @drsawzallthat if Jason were to question the true nature of their "friendship" it may shut them up, however, such a slight to their fragile masculinity could also backfire on him. It would not surprise me that under such circumstances Craig, and perhaps Aiden, may well turn violent and bash Jason. Both are cowards and would likely do so outside the workplace, under the cover of night and when Jason was not expecting it.

The best way to stop these two pathetic losers from continuing with their childish and predictable behaviour would be for a third party e.g. Tom, to witness their taunts and humiliate them by casting doubt on the true nature of their "friendship". Tom may also have some influence and jeopardise their ongoing employment. Humiliation and retrenchment of both would see justice served well.

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THE STORY LINE IS ?  IT HAS BEEN  ESTABLISHED THAT THERE IS LOVE IN THE AIR, NOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN ? CHEERS

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