Catch Me If I Fall

by AB

Chapter 4

Re-inventing Andronicus

What with all the new friends and the visits to Romanos July flew by almost in record speed. The fact that he had so many new friends out of the blue also helped conceal his visits from his mother.

He passed by the general store to get a bottle of water for the trek to Molos. Vivi was talking to a stranger, he was a man in his fifties, he looked small and frail and somehow slimy or at least that was the first impression he got off him.

"Thanos, it has been long, how have you been?" Vivi asked him, she was not in her usual cheery mood.

"Yes, I was in London for business. I have returned now."

"Business you say? For almost seven years now? Some business that must have been." Andronicus could almost detect sarcasm in her voice. She was restraining herself and putting quite an effort to it.

"Yes, I was with people of some culture you see, away from…unimportant villages and villagers." He talked as if there was a nasty smell under his nose that he needed to avoid at all costs.

"Couldn't come to your father's funeral could you? Mayor aside he was your father." She barraged him unphased from his overt effort at putting her down.

"Me and my father had…unresolved issues and my business made it impossible for me to travel." He pressed a twenty euro bill to her trying to pay for his groceries and leave. She took it as slow as humanly possible and made it look like she had to count the change four or five times.

"Yes, I would imagine so, creating a fortune and dispersing it are two completely different philosophies." She smiled at him giving him his change. Her smile reminded Andronicus of how a predatory animal looks its prey before bouncing. It made the hair on the back of his neck stand uneasy.

Thanos opened his mouth to respond but closed it, turned around with a pause when he saw Andronicus and left.

"Hello, sweetheart, what can I do for you?" She smiled genuinely at Andronicus.

He picked up a bottle of water from the fridge and paid the price smiling.

"Good morning Mrs S." He waved at her leaving. She waved back at him before going about her business.

He called Romanos just as he was descending the hill to the beach. After all these times he had counted the perfect place to call Romanos, to ensure that they would both reach the same spot at the same time.

"I am already at the beach."

"Okay I'll be there soon." Andronicus terminated the call and started running.

He saw Romanos there his back resting on the rowboat talking to someone else, took him a second or two to recognise who it was as he could only see the boy's back.

"Vasilis? What are you doing here?" He asked taken completely by surprise.

"I've come to see my uncle, what are you doing here?" Vasilis asked him back equally surprised, they shook hands with a hug.

"Oh so you two know each other? Good." Romanos chuckled.

"Wait…how did you two meet?" Vasilis gazed between his new best friend, their relationship having grown the last few weeks as he found he had more and more common interests with the younger teen, and his uncle.

"He swam one day to Gaidouronisi (Donkey-island), I tried to tell him off, didn't work, I've sort of gotten stuck with him, like a lost puppy." He teased the grey-eyed, blond boy.

"Hey! I have adopted you not the other way round!" Andronicus teased him back. It was surprising him how his reactions were changing, a couple of months ago he would have been offended by the tease thinking it of ill-intent rather than what it really was, a joke meant in the best possible way.

"So, he's your uncle? I mean…how?"

"Well you see….my grandparents had two kids, my mum and Romanos." Vasilis quipped with Andronicus punching his shoulder playfully.

"No, you dork I mean how come neither of you two told me."

"Well, I did not know that you two knew each other…." Vasilis told Andronicus.

"That's what I'm going with as well." Romanos told them with all three of them laughing.

"Come on boys jump in we don't have all day." Romanos told them jumping in the rowboat.

"Sooooo…you must have lots of dirt on Vasilis…yes?" Andronicus teased his friend. Vasilis launched himself on the slender blond boy making the boat rock left and right violently. Andronicus squealed and yelled from getting tickled and from fear that he would fall off.

"Nooo!! Stooppp!! I….oh god you'll make me pee….stop!!" Andronicus tried struggling and at the same time didn't want to struggle too much as to not cause the boat to rock more than it already did.

"Nope, you get to suffer now." Vasilis joked around and continued tickling Andronicus for a few seconds more before he stopped. He passed a hand around the grey-eyed boy and brought their exposed upper bodies together, both boys having removed their t-shirts because of the increasing heat. Andronicus decided instantly that he loved Vasilis' hot from the sun skin on his. There was just enough sweat to act as a lubricator between their torsos and shoulders but not too much to create unpleasant odours and the like.

Andronicus could feel the smooth skin practically vibrate against his skin. How he longed to tell Vasilis the truth about him, to feel him as one had before. He looked at the older boy's face smiling at nothing in particular, feeling his pecker hardening. As by instinct his hand shot down to rearrange his jewels.

Romanos jumped out to tie the boat. The moment he was out Vasilis passed him their backpacks. Before Andronicus could realise what that meant Vasilis had capsized the rowboat with them in it.

Andronicus' yell of utter surprise was lost to the sea as his head submerged.

"You shit!" He yelled coming out from under the upturned boat. He tried dunking Vasilis under but the older boy just hugged him trapping his hands under his own.

"You're silly, you try to swim dunk me when your feet can touch the sea bed. Well I'll just have to punish you for your silliness." Vasilis whispered to his ear. If Andronicus expected to be submerged under water again he thought wrong for Vasilis' right hand held his and Vasilis' left hand snaked lower and lower reaching Andronicus' inny belly button. He rubbed there in circles slowly with Andronicus breathing deep and rugged. Next he used his fingers to raise the waistband from Andronicus' waist and slither his hand lower to cup the boy's tubular appendage. From the feel of it Andronicus guessed that it had to be close to five inches and he could feel the boy's pubes tickle the back of his hand as they waved by the water's movement.

"People really seem to like molesting my dick." Andronicus whispered in Vasilis' ear making the older boy burst laughing.

"Who was it? Iasonas or Fraggos?" Vasilis asked him as soon as he calmed down from the intense laughter.

"Iasonas, the little shit would not take no for an answer." Andronicus chuckled. It was his time to surprise Vasilis as his hand, wet by the water managed to squeeze out of Vasilis' hand and squeezed the older teen's testicles gently.

They both moaned. Vasilis encircled his joystick in his hand and started stroking him.

"Yeah, well can't blame him, can we? Your bum, your body, hell even your dick are so god damn sexy." Vasilis whispered in his ear.

Andronicus did not answer, he was too far gone in lust and hormones by Vasilis' ministrations to his most private digit to even register. He sped up his jerking off Vasilis' fleshstick hearing the older boy behind him moan in response.

It did not take long for Andronicus to feel that familiar tingle and tug in his testicles letting him know that an orgasm was near. Unfortunately for him Vasilis knew what was about to happen and in one swift move he let go of his cock and gently but firmly pulled down his balls causing the minute pain to deflate his dick. Andronicus moaned in complaint.

"Shhh, I'll get you off but not so soon, trust me it'll be more fun like this, edging you." Vasilis told him.

Andronicus tried moving his pelvis back and forth in an effort to fuck the hand that was holding on to his boydick but in vain, Vasilis' hold on his waist and his own hand on Vasilis' erect penis restricting his movements.

Three more edgings later Andronicus thought he was going to go mad, his body demanding release and his mind demanding the pleasure the release would bring him.

"Ugh…ooohh…fuck…" He groaned, "Let me…cum already…fuck, fuck, what are you doing to me? I've never felt like….oh fuuuuuuuuuuuuuucck…" He was finally allowed release and the intensity of it caught him by surprise. He felt his pelvis fucking his best friend's hand like a jackhammer out of control back and forth, he felt his lungs constrict and his eyes roll in the back of his head and he saw galaxies and stars. His orgasm and its intensity made him squeeze Vasilis' dick hard which in turn made the older boy spill his boy butter. The sea taking their young sperm away.

It took them a few minutes to calm down. Andronicus turned round and putting his dick back in his swim trunks he splashed Vasilis.

"Oy! What do you think you're doing? I am still recuperating here!" Vasilis tried to look hurt but he could only laugh as he splashed back.

"If you boys are done ruining my rowboat can you please return it to its proper position and condition?" They heard Romanos' voice from above them outside the upturned wooden boat.

They burst out giggling, "Yes, uncle. In a second."

Romanos just shook his head and headed about his errands for the day.

"When do you guys intend to leave? I ask because I have to go do some stuff in Ydra in a couple of hours after I take an afternoon nap. If you want me to leave you off at Molos it'll have to be before then." Romanos asked a couple of hours later.

"Did you forget? I've asked Vangelis to come pick us up with the sail boat?" Vasilis told his uncle.

"Oh, yes you're right, when is he going to be here?"

"Don't know, probably in about an hour and a half? Something like that."

"Okay."

"Sail boat?" Andronicus enquired.

"Yeah Vangelis is the instructor at the sailing club, he's finishing a lesson right about now and I asked him if he could come pick me up as I have a lesson after the one he's finishing now, if you want you can come with me."

"Uhm…sure I've never been in a sailing boat before."

"Oh you'll love it! I guarantee it." Vasilis beamed. "It's an amazing experience travelling in the sea without an engine.

"Yes, it is." Romanos cut in looking almost sick, "But you must respect her for she can be a cruel mistress." He said and left.

"He's right…but still it is so incredible feeling the water and the wind move you."

They continued talking about sailing with Andronicus feeling increasingly impatient to try it out.

"Hey I think I'll grab a half hour power nap, do you mind?" Vasilis asked him.

"Nah, I may as well dunno…" Andronicus replied looking towards the house. Wearing his tshirt and a dry change of bathing trunks he headed inside the stone, mortar and wood house. Romanos was increasingly becoming a sort of father figure to him and he wanted to feel that sort of affection. He walked in Romanos' bedroom. He was napping wearing his clothes, a pair of jeans trousers and a white and blue tshirt.

Romanos lay on his back a hand over his head, the other one thrown to his side. Andronicus sat on the bed's edge and without removing anything he started laying on the side of Romanos' free hand. He had not even laid his head on the thick, muscular hand when he felt himself being pushed off the bed. "What are you doing? That's not right! I think you have misunderstood this whole thing." Romanos was clearly freaking out, his voice starting to rise in intensity.

It had caught Andronicus in complete surprise, the smile gone from his face, replaced with a look of dread and despair. Within seconds his face changed twisting in uncontrollable anger. "What's not right? I just wanted some affection." He wasn't asking, he was just waiting for Romanos to verify what he already knew.

They heard footsteps approaching fast. Vasilis had entered the house.

"I can't give you that, it is not right for an adult to do this sort of thing with a minor, I have already been blamed falsely for this kind of shit I won't have it done again."

"What? Seriously? I see you like…like what…how I would want my father to be, I wanted affection, what I would get from my father if I had one, if he didn't leave across the country and had talked to me in thirteen years. Go fuck yourself! I trusted you and you think that because I'm gay I want you to fuck me? I like guys my age not someone who could very well be my father or grandfather. I trusted people before and it was thrown in my face, ridiculed like some common filth." Tears streaking down his cheeks he turned to leave. He saw Vasilis standing by the doorframe, a look of shock and surprise on his face.

Before he could take a second step Romanos grabbed him by the elbow turning him around as gently as he could.

"Wait…do you mean that?" His voice clearly emotionally charged.

"Yes, why do you think I keep coming here? 'Cause of your great sense of interior decour? I have known you for almost a month and you are like a father to me you big oaf." Andronicus replied in minor sobs.

"I…am sorry then, I should not have presumed but…you are not the only one with a cruel past. I'll make you this compromise, a deal. If you tell me…us what happened to you, I'll tell you what happened to me. I cannot allow us to sleep in the same bed even fully clothed even without anyone else present even knowing now as I do that neither of us desires or intends anything inappropriate but I can give you the occasional hug or pat on the shoulder as a father would do, or an uncle. Is that ok?" Romanos asked Andronicus releasing his elbow.

Andronicus nodded trying to smile before he closed his eyes and groaned bringing his hands to cover his face feeling very embarrassed.

"Because you told us you're gay?" Romanos asked.

"Yes."

"I don't think either me or Vasilis cares about that." Vasilis nodded finally surpassing some of his shock and surprise.

"Let us go outside and sit in the shade ok?" Romanos asked the boys who nodded and followed him outside, to the back of the house where they all sat.

"I…I have never told anyone…this. My mum knows some of it but even she doesn't know all of it." Andronicus paused, his voice trembling, his hands fiddling with each other on the wooden table.

He took a deep breath looking at Romanos and Vasilis before licking his lips to moisturise them, feeling them and his mouth all dried up. He let the breath go in a deep sigh and continued feeling very nervous and self-conscious.

"I…I have known I am gay from a very early age. I did not know at the time of course what it was but I knew that boys were different for me and that girls that everyone seemed to like meant nothing if not caused me disgust. At a later age I started learning of what that actually meant, about homosexuality and sex and the rest. That was about three to four years ago, just about the same age I started….uhm…you get the point." Andronicus blushed looking down momentarily before looking up and into the eyes of nephew and uncle.

"A few months ago, end of May actually, I decided to trust my then best friend with me being gay and…having feelings for him. I hoped at worse that he would tell me that…he was not interested but we could remain friends at best…at best I would have a boyfriend, my first boyfriend…." Andronicus' voice trailed, tears again streaking down his smooth cheeks. He took a deep breath.

"I told him and tried holding his hand in my own….he reacted as if I had electrocuted him, pulling back his hand and slapping me with his other hand…called me….he told…he told me that he did not hang out with filthy faggots…grabbed me by my neck and hair and threw me out of his house…" His voice and breath coming out broken and rugged he carried on.

"I was shocked, having known him since we started school at age seven…I had expected different and…that was not the worst of it. Next day throughout the day the whole school would point at me and whisper or giggle, I tried ignoring it until the middle of the school schedule when Dimitris, that's *his* name, came to me and told me he was sorry for his behaviour the previous day that I had caught him off guard and he wanted to make up for it, that I should meet him in the locker rooms of the P.E. class. I should not have trusted him again but I did, full in hope that he would at least apologise properly and we would continue to be friends." He paused to swallow and breathe.

"I went to the locker rooms where I was met with a gang of older teenage boys, Dimitris amongst them. I tried to get away but they told me that faggots had no right being clothed and started undressing me, I struggled, they slapped me until I fell quiet. I was so terrified they would rape me or something but instead they…they…they covered me with honey and put a boney ears thing on my head and a tail around my waist and hang a cardboard tablet around my neck "Little fairy, bunny faggot wants dick, who will give it to me?!" And they marched me throughout the whole school like this. I tried running away a couple of times but they just caught on, slapped me some more and continued frog marching me throughout the school with everyone taking pictures and jeering and calling me names. When we finally arrived at the main courtyard they placed me in the center and started throwing stones at me…they literally stoned me until mum with a few other teachers came and found me curled up on the ground trying to protect my face and…." He coughed. "From the stones…thankfully there are no marks left from that but…I have never before or since felt so humiliated in my life. I felt dead inside, I felt small, filthy and insignificant and so humiliated…" Unable to hold the tide back he started crying.

Not a second later he felt warm hands hugging him, a body on his left and one on his right and a moist skin against his neck.

Romanos had hugged him on his left side and Vasilis crying had hugged him on his right side burying his face in his neck.

They stayed like this until Andronicus calmed down. Raising his head from Andronicus' neck Vasilis kept looking between his Uncle and Andronicus.

"Why would anyone do this? How can anyone hurt someone so much?"

"People almost always react badly to the unknown, the strange, that which is different. They scorn it and try to destroy it because it makes them feel uncomfortable, insecure and out of their comfort zones. It takes parents and teachers of great educational and philosophical caliber to teach their children otherwise and society does not always help in that regard. What happened to those that committed this atrocity to you? Were they expelled at least?" Romanos asked Andronicus wiping some of the tears from the boy's cheeks.

Andronicus shook his head negatively. "No, my mother used to work in a very posh, upper class school in Athens, you may have heard of it, Ekpaideutiria Geitonas, in Vari. It's a region in the south suburbs of Athens. The kids who participated all had parents politicians and rich business owners and they made sure that I was expelled for "indecent behaviour to the other students and sexually provocative behaviour within school grounds"…Such hypocrites if you take into account how many condoms the teachers found in restrooms and locker-rooms every day….all I did was to tell my…well the boy I thought was my best friend that I'm gay. My mum tried to fight it but when their parents could afford to donate a new swimming pool and sport equipment for all the kids in the school we did not have many chances of winning."

"Fucking bigoted arseholes." Vasilis spoke with anger in his voice, "if anyone behaves like that to you again I will smite him or them, you are MY best friend now and we take care of our own in Ydra. I don't care if you're gay or bi or believe in flying smurfs that live in a magical land up in the sky I will not allow anyone to treat you this way again. 'Mkay?"

"Why not? I am filthy, wrong….I should not be this way….why can I not like girls? Why can I not be…normal? None of this would have happened if I was."

"No." Romanos spoke with a calm, matter-of-fact, unyielding voice. "You are neither wrong nor abnormal. What is normal? Is it normal to play video games? To read books? To have black or white skin? To have blue or green or amber eyes? To have blond or dark or crimson hair? There is no normal, there is no wrong or right, there is only how you are born and what you feel is right, that is normal for you and those who care and love you should accept it. Never feel wrong about who you are, what you are. Okay?" Andronicus burst into crying again impulsively hugging Romanos, Romanos caressed the top of his head with one hand the other one rubbing the boy's shoulders to calm him down.

"Thank you….both, I was, am so terrified of all of that happening again, that either or both of you would reject me…" Andronicus said after a while feeling much calmer, like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

"Of course." Vasilis told him nodding.

"Your turn." Andronicus turned to Romanos. Romanos knew what he wanted to know.

Romanos lay back on his chair and closed his eyes for a moment. Taking a deep breath he opened them.

"I do not really know where to start so I will start quite a few years back. I was never a very popular boy in school, I was always a bit of a recluse, I always loved having time to think and be on my own. If I want to be truthful I had always half expected that I would probably never marry or have kids, not because I did not want to but because I did not think there would be a woman willing to put up with this, I am not the person who likes going out to a restaurant or a movie or other such things. I do…did like having friends over when I still had friends. I was very surprised when I met my wife a few years later. I had ended my military service in Greece's military navy, and just taken an early retirement from the merchant navy after a few years of distinguished service there as well. I could have continued but I had decided I preferred being a recluse in land rather than for months on end in sea without sight of land."

He paused to take a breath and swallow. "I met Niki when I returned and fell in love with her, her smile, her body, her intelligence, her sense of humour…in a strange play of fate so had she for some peculiar reason…after about 6 months of dating we decided to get married and shortly after that Pavlos came to our lives. He was such a blessing, my own son, my soul. We both doted on him with all that we could spare and then some. I worked as a fisherman, helping in Vivi's store and with the coastguard applying my maritime knowledge where and when I could as an external advisor and part time in which ever coast guard ship was docked in Ydra at the time. Niki had her own small textile and fashion shop which provided a lot with all the tourists coming in from Athens and abroad. For a short while life was perfect and I was content."

His eyes watering Romanos carried on. "Almost six years later it all came crumbling down…Niki and I had a huge fight out of the blue, she wanted to go to Athens and open a franchise with her name, brand it and take Pavlos, but I had nothing to do in Athens, I would have to leave everything…and I would have gone to Athens for my familybut the same night she boarded the ferry to Athens leaving me a note that she was leaving me for greater things, for wealth that I apparently did not want…that day she, my son and four hundred and fifty two other passengers died in that wreck. The coast guard with the military navy conducted an investigation which concluded that it had to be the captain's fault at not being able to navigate through the storm that came out of nowhere that day and threw the ferry on a known submerged reef, by the time I and other fishermen from Ydra, Poros and surrounding locations got there to assist with the rescue everyone save ten or so people had died, drowned by the severe waves and cold water. The severe weather made it impossible to swim to the shore, in the dark of night the waves threw so many in the parts of the reef that was above the water's surface smashing them against granite, sharp rocks…the rest did not make it out of the ship, the ship becoming their watery grave…I hope…my family were amongst those smashed against the rocks…it is by far a quicker death than drowning slowly in the bottom of the sea, in a dark enclosed space without any escape or hope of survival…my son….my Pavlos…." Everyone remained silent, tears streaking down their cheeks Vasilis and Andronicus tried their best not to actually start crying.

"That was not the end of it though. The following days after the wreck rumours started spreading throughout the whole island that the real reason my wife had left me and taken my son with her was not what she had told me but because she had caught me raping my son and was going to Athens to testify to the police there and protect Pavlos from further abuse. No matter how hard I and Vivi tried to stop the rumours, to tell everyone that they were slanderous lies, that I would NEVER hurt my own flesh and blood in such a way…in any fucking way, we could not convince anyone…two weeks later a "committee" came to Vivi's door, also recently widowed, demanding that I had to leave Ydra, that they did not want me near their children…She was ready to tear their throats out when I stopped her finding a middle solution…I had found that the church of Greece was seeking someone to stay in Gaidouronisi and look after the church there. I applied and with no one else wanting the job I got it and moved here. That was seven years ago. Even now I only go to Ydra's main town or Chora as we call it here only when it is absolutely necessary. Not because they can hurt me, even back then they would not have, even with mob mentality without any evidence they couldn't do anything and if they attacked me I would defend myself. No I resented them all, all except my sister who was the only one who believed in me, who just knew that there was no power on Earth, Heaven or Hell that would or could make me hurt my own son. These were people that I had grown with for my whole life and they had behaved in such a barbaric way against me. I did not want to see them anymore so I exiled myself here going to Chora only to give my sister my catch of the day when I caught enough and to get some vegetables and what money she had to give me from selling my fish. This has been my life since then."

"No. This is unfair! You would never hurt your child or anyone else like that! Why would anyone spread such rumours?" Andronicus was again in tears, this time though not for his own misfortune earlier this year but for the grievous, as he saw it, slander against a person, a man who was fast becoming like a father to him.

"People are….weird, and in such small communities like this one it does not take much for such rumours to start spreading, an old lady says something to another, that other one says something to her daughter and before long out of idle boredom gossip has spread like a wildfire during summer."

"Uncle…why not try clearing your name? I mean it is beyond obvious that you have not done anything illegal or wrong."

"With what evidence? I cannot clear my name any more than they could convict me, if there were evidence one of the two could have been done years ago, since there is nothing gossip reigns." Romanos replied with a pained look on his face.

"Yes, but you haven't done anything wrong!" Andronicus jumped up in rage.

"I know, but…it doesn't matter anymore." Romanos resigned stood up and walked inside the house.

"I want us to clear his name. We have to, we must prove his innocence." Andronicus stated stubbornly.

Vasilis smiled tryingly. "I have an idea…but we need more than two people to pull it off."

"Iraklis, Fraggos, Iasonas," Andronicus started naming all of their friends and continuing with naming all the children in his and Vasilis' class.

"Woah there, no we can't add every kid in Ydra." Vasilis chuckled. "No we need more people yes, but not everyone. Look…follow me." Vasilis held his hand and walked them behind the little, white church.

"I just don't want uncle to listen in by mistake. If what I suspect is correct….someone framed my uncle…I don't know why, probably, maybe because he was the one that…raped my cousin and needed somehow to get any and all suspicion off him but I can't prove anything yet, I don't even have a single viable suspect, everything may be untrue…but…"

"No, unless…Pavlos was not actually….that…because Romanos did not rape anyone, mkay?" Andronicus continued Vasilis' thought and changed his direction.

"Yes…there is that…but unless we find some kind of proof, something, anything explaining why my aunt left him that night we have nothing."

"We will find it mkay?"

"Yes. We just need a few more people but not too many. I don't want anyone's mother or parent or any old lady learning anything and then having to deal with more gossip and/or infuriated parents."

"How? I mean we will have to concentrate our findings somewhere, and most mothers have that nasty habit of tidying up their kids' rooms, they'll find whatever we stash wherever we stash it no matter how good we try to hide it. We can't look too conspiratorial either…."

"You are thinking like our parents are thinking…think like a teenager, where do you put something you don't want your parents to find it? Especially when they are not as tech savvy like in Ydra where most are employed either in fishing, agriculture or tourism?" Vasilis' eyes spoke of a truth that should have been obvious to even cats and stones but Andronicus was stumped.

"Uhhm…." Andronicus' look of utter confusion made Vasilis roll his eyes.

"The internet silly. Do you really think that there's a parent in Ydra that will know to look in google drive? Or dropbox? Or Filefactory? Or a myriad other resources for storing and viewing files online? And if any of us boys are caught closing stuff in a hurry in our computers no parent will think that we are trying to uncover evidence to clear my uncle's name, they'll think we have been caught with our dick in our hand, roll their eyes, close the door behind them and never talk of it again as to not embarrass us."

Andronicus thought about it for a moment, "that's…fucking ingenious!" He declared grinning widely. "But what of nanny or parental software?"

"What of them? None of them block such sites, why would any software block google drive or imgur? Dropbox? For what reason? You can use it to store and share vacations pictures just as easily as you can store and share what we want to store and share and even then that is not illegal or inappropriate for our age. Even Kostas can walk in the local newspaper say that he wants to read the archives from last year for a school or class project find what he's looking for, scan it, upload it to either of those online resources from his smartphone or brother's computer and no one will ever wonder why, no software will block a scanned newspaper article or website."

Andronicus was getting more excited about the idea the more he thought about it. Soon enough the two of them were talking animatedly about their conspiracy to clear Romanos' name in hushed whispers and excited squeals.

In their teenage minds they were already Sherlock Holms or some other such great investigator of literature and fiction solving the toughest of murder mysteries that no one else could. Such is the nature of adolescent minds that everything is magnified a thousand fold, that imagination and excitement builds whole kingdoms in mere seconds. Such a wondrous age teenage years are full of confusion and discovery.

"I have an idea, we can have them come here and spend a sleepover under the stars and have them join our little conspiracy." Vasilis beamed.

"But there is one problem, I don't think their mothers will allow them to." Andronicus pointed out.

"It is time to put an end to this farce, you haven't seen my mum angry have you? Well time to bring that forth." Vasilis got his mobile phone out, dialed his mother's number and called her. He told her some of what he wanted, enough to get her worked up and to get her to call the mothers of his friends and make sure that certain things changed."

Not an hour later Vasilis started receiving text messages from his friends.

Fraggos' one read "WTF did u tell ur mum? I've nr sn mum so…sub before!" Andronicus, a teen himself, recognised that as "What The Fuck did you tell your mum? I've never seen her so…submissive before!" He had to laugh at that text and well, all the others after.

Iasonas' one read, "Wow…mum says I cn cm ovr to ur uncle's hs for a sleepover tonight….woow….." Andronicus recognised this to be, "Wow….mum says I can come over to your uncle's house for a sleepover tonight….wooow…"

Iraklis' one read, "Holy Crap dude! Wtf, how? Your mum rocks LOL! We'll be over at about seven aftern."

Vasilis was sporting a grin from Ydra to Athens, "Way to go mum. Never doubted her." He laughed.

Just then they heard a loud sound coming from over the sea, Vasilis looked over Andronicus' shoulder to see a large, white sail boat with about nine people on board as he could count them from the distance. Someone was waving to him.

He walked fast near the water's edge and waved back making a signal. He saw the person who had waved at him do a thumbs up gesture back at him.

"That's the sail boat, leave our things here and don't worry about your mother, my mum has already talked to her, she's ok." Vasilis passed him his smartphone with a text message on as he run inside the house to notify his uncle of the very recent changes.

Ten minutes later he was out of the house. "Leave your stuff here, come on we'll swim over to the Kentauros (Centaur), that's the name of the boat. I have a four hours sailing lesson but you can come and see what it's like. I'm sure Vangelis will not mind, might even put you through the ropes." Vasilis chuckled and removed his tshirt with Andronicus doing the same.

They swam over to the Kentauros and climbed up through the rear, from the small ladder there.

"Sir, this is Andronicus, Andronicus this is Vangelis, instructor and owner of the sailing club here in Ydra. Sir Andronicus might be interested in starting sailing lessons, can he come and participate in my lesson?"

Vangelis shook Andronicus' hand with a firm shake. It was obvious that the man had been around boats, ships and sails most if not all of his life. He was tall, almost towering at two meters, with a full bronze sun tan nearing to more Middle Eastern complexions, with a pair of aerodynamic sunglasses and a shaven face. Working in and around boats had created some very powerful looking muscles in his hands, wrists, shoulders and chest.

"Sure, I never say no to teaching someone about how to sail the seas, if it's something you like and your parents agree we can start you on lessons in a dinghy for a couple of years and then to a slightly larger, two manned laser one before going for the large monohull like this one which requires, for racing, up to nine or ten crew members or even more depending." Vangelis told Andronicus who smiled back at the beaming man.

"Sure, thank you sir, I promise I won't be…" Vasilis cut him off.

"Don't you start with the burden shit, here no one is a burden who does his share of the work."

"Exactly. It is up to me as a captain, or any other captain to know which crew member is right for which position in and on the boat. Now Vasilis, why don't you show Andronicus around the boat, safety, where to get what and have him wear a lifejacket, then you two can sit behind me in the steering rudder where the tactician sits during races." Andronicus and Vasilis introduced themselves to the rest of the crew, all of them trainees and after Vasilis guided him through the various safety procedures and basic terminology and things he needed to know they sat at the indicated place.

Six hours later they were back at Gaidouronisi.

"Wow, this was amazing! I had no idea it would feel like this, sailing is great!" Andronicus exclaimed as they stepped out of the water and stood there for the sun to dry them off.

"Yeah, isn't it?" Vasilis verified grinning.

"I mean feeling the wind like that and the water carrying you, no other sounds except for the crew and ropes and stuff." Andronicus continued.

"I know right? And all that power between your hands and legs."

"And the waves smashing on to the ship's hull, the water spraying on your face, just loved it, thanks...for everything." Andronicus hugged Vasilis tight.

Vasilis was taken aback. "What for? I mean you're welcome but I didn't do nothing." He hugged Andronicus back enjoying the fresh, salty boyish scent that wafted to his nostrils.

"Yes, you did, you accepted me, you've been there for me and you know me only for less than two months…guys who knew me for years did not. Just wanted you to know that it means a lot to me…" Andronicus voiced his feelings for Vasilis' stance and behaviour before leaning in and giving him a kiss on his cheek.

It was only an act of affection to his friend and yet the mere contact of his lips on the older teen's skin and Vasilis' clean, salty, sun baked smell made his boy-soldier perk up and stand on attention. Without even realising his hand darted down to rearrange things down there as the tenting was uncomfortable for him.

His hand bumped against Vasilis' who must have had the same reaction and looking at each other they blushed with Vasilis shrugging his shoulders.

An hour later Vasilis got a call from Fraggos, they were all at Molos.

Vasilis went with Romanos and rowed them to the island.

"Vasilis I don't know what you told your mother or what your mum told our mothers but it was awesome!" Fraggos beamed at his friend when they were all on the island.

Vasilis chuckled. "Yeah, my mum can be…persuasive and I wouldn't want to be on her bad side."

"No, I wouldn't either, I can imagine her hunting me down with a shoe on her hand." Iraklis joked.

"Oh no need she's had to raise me on her own since I was like seven and work in the general store and the field so all she needs is her hands." Vasilis grinned.

Iraklis, Fraggos, Kostas and Iasonas had brought their backpacks and sleeping bags with them.

"Uhm…I don't have one." Andronicus pointed at one of the sleeping bags.

"That's ok, mine's big enough you can sleep with me….ehh I mean under the same sleeping bag…" Vasilis blushed at the innuendo he had unwillingly made making Andronicus giggle.

They spent the afternoon playing in the sea and talking like only boys can until night fell. Romanos prepared a coal and wood fire and BBQ'ed them steaks and baked potatoes before retiring to his house to sleep. Everyone had to admit on how juicy and tasteful the steaks were. Andronicus could see his new friends seeing Romanos in a new light, away from the prejudice all the gossip had created.

Kostas was the first to sleep unable to keep his eyes open curled inside his sleepin bag.

Sitting around the bonfire the rest of them told tales and joked around until about an hour later Andronicus looked knowingly at Vasilis who nodded.

"We want to prove Romanos' innocence and we want you all to help." Vasilis told them in a hushed, conspiratorial voice.

"It is not fair, he has done nothing illegal or wrong and he is being blamed by nothing more than gossip for something he did not do. We want your help to prove otherwise." Andronicus continued.

"How? I mean what can we all do?" Fraggos asked.

"You are right, what has been done to your uncle is wrong." Iraklis agreed.

"There must be something somewhere and we can find it. Maybe it's the chronicles of the local newspaper, maybe it's something we can find in the internet, dunno, but I want us to start and through it ideas will come."

"I'm in." Iasonas nodded his approval for the plan. What teenager doesn't like what sounds like adventure and mystery solving. "But how do we hide it from our parents? They'll find whatever we hide in our rooms."

Andronicus giggled.

Vasilis proceeded to explain. "No hiding anything in rooms. We'll use tor browser and online hosting and sharing providers and tor chat which will hide anything we want from our parents. If a parent walks in just hastily close the tab or browser and the parent will think that you were doing the "naughty boy business" rather than anything else. Like this we don't have to gather at anyone's house or make it look suspicious to the outside observer. And when we have enough evidence we will see what we do about it then, but this shit with the whole of the island accusing without any evidence, an innocent man of something he would NEVER do ends." Vasilis was not laughing, he was being very serious and solemn and his friends nodded and started making plans and throwing ideas with the firelight glowing against the excitement in their faces.

"What shall we call this little conspiracy of ours?" Iraklis wondered aloud.

Everyone started thinking when Andronicus stood up as if touched by an electric current and pointing his hands on the air like he was celebrating something he nearly yelled, "A conspiracy of innocence." He declared.

No one could think of something better so they accepted the name. Slowly they each drifted to sleep, voices becoming whispers and then rhythmic breathing.

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