The Chav Prince
'You look a bit preoccupied,' Nathan said as he came up behind Justin at the bus stop.
'You alright, Justy?'
'Me... sure, fine.'
'Nothing... look I'll tell you later, OK? No nagging. I saw what my first stepdad did to my mum to stop her nagging him, so back off.'
'OK. OK. Here's the bus.'
They got on and Justin tried not to be moody, but it wasn't working. They walked up from the Green to Harlesden Lodge, as Nathan's home was called. By the time they got to the front door they were quite silent. Nathan was not going to intrude on his friend's space, once told not to. Justin was grateful, though not used to this sort of consideration from his friends.
Once through the 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, or on the stairs would be OK, 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, looked back over his shoulder and grinned, 'Condom and lube is on the side table. Make it slow, Justy,' he urged. Justin was inside him within sixty seconds.
'You sexy son of a bitch, you're really gettin' off doin' it here,' he growled as he kissed and licked his lover's neck and shoulders, beginning a slow humping that he kept going almost till his knees gave out. He timed himself by the loud tick of the big hall clock.
They collapsed on the marble floor when Justin couldn't hold himself back any more, but didn't stay there too long. It was cold. Gathering up clothes and the rest, they scampered up to Nathan's room and bounced on the bed, where Nathan serviced Justin in his turn.
'So tell me about last night,' invited Nathan as they lay together in a close embrace.
Justin obliged with a detailed account of the midnight adventure. Nathan got up on his elbow and listened intently.
'So what do you think 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 gonna be industrial espionage.' He rolled out the phrase with some enjoyment.
Nathan nodded, 'I can't see what else it could 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 sounded like professionals. Shouldn't we tell him?'
'Duh... so I go 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 bother you and I'll get back to my sleeping bag 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?'
'But tonight you sleep here with me, babe. You're joining the sleep over set. I told mum that my friend Justin from Highgate is sleeping over. She said it's OK as long as your mum knows.'
'I hope you told her that's not a problem,' Justin said.
'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 a big smile on Nathan's face; he had learned that love is a two way process and his soul was awakening.
They spent an hour viewing Nathan's work and hearing about his future plans. And Justin was not bored. His lover's enthusiasm made him a compelling speaker, and even if he was not listening to what Nathan was saying, he was drinking in the sparkling eyes and animated face as he talked. At one point he just stopped Nathan and closed mouths with him.
'What's that for?' Nathan grinned.
'I just love you so much, Nate. I'd do anything for you, anything.'
'Wow. Thanks. And I love you too, my chavvy babe.'
'Chavvy babe! You're a git.'
'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 Nathan's father's car rolled up outside the house, a large silver Jaguar. Justin peered down on the drive. Professor Underwood was a tall well-built man in his early forties, in academic uniform of a sports jacket and open necked shirt. He 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 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 dad and got a kiss, much to Justin's astonishment.
'Hi son... is this Justin?' He offered his hand to Justin who hesitantly shook it, not knowing what to say.
'What time's supper?'
'Whenever mum gets back. Will you be in the study?'
'Uhuh. See you later Justin, you too son.' He disappeared through a side door.
'I see what you mean.'
'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, otherwise it would have been takeways, and I like getting together with them round the table. They're very interesting people as well as being my mum and dad. If I hadn't taken responsibility, it would never have happened.' They got to the kitchen, Nathan pointed to a pan, and said. 'You fill that with water and get it boiling, while I 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 salads, crispy garlic bread and wine. Nathan lit tall candles on the dining room table. There were placings and napkins. Justin was getting more and more alarmed.
'Just do what I do,' 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 OK, 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. She called out as she came through the hall. Nathan shouted back. Justin brought in the salad as Nathan retrieved his parents and got them seated.
Mrs Underwood gave him a warm smile and said hello again, and thanked him for helping Nathan in the kitchen.
They sat smiling round the table and Nathan interrogated them about their days. Justin sat trying to look at ease, but feeling woeful. He desperately wanted out. He did not like this sitting eating round a table. He wanted to grab his meal and eat it watching the TV. And sooner or later, it had to happen, and it did.
'So, Justin,' said Mrs Underwood, whom he had to call Mary, 'what do you parents do?'
Somehow, Justin had guessed that these were people who would want to locate him socially, and he was not entirely sure how to lie his way out of this one. So he tried the truth for a change. 'Me mum and me live on our own. I've never seen me dad.'
'Oh. Er... does you 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, and smiled a little wickedly. 'Teach you to be nosy, Mary.' Nathan gave a muffled laugh.
'You two really think you're so clever.' They laughed openly.
Professor Underwood, whom Justin had to call Robert, smiled and said to him, 'Mary loves to interrogate Nathan's friends, she can't help herself. She puts 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, but she so prides herself on being liberal.'
Mary Underwood picked up her glass of wine and looked coolly at the three smiling males around her table, '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, Justin found himself chipping in with observations from his side of the wire fence. They listened to him, and they argued back. He didn't feel patronised at all, they didn't even mind when he lost his temper 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,' said Nathan 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 this'll help them when the day comes.'
They filled the dishwasher, set it going, said goodnight to the parents and headed back to Nathan's bedroom. They lay naked on his bed, fondling each other intimately and watching one of his DVDs. Then, without feeling it necessary to have more active sex, they got into his bed, kissed and went to sleep.
Nathan woke to a catastrophic fart from Justin that more or less lifted the duvet. It woke its perpetrator too. 'Jesus,' he said through a yawn, 'talk about gas. I shoulda warned you about me and garlic.'
'Lemme out of here.'
Justin chased him into the bathroom, and they showered together, washing each other's hair as they kissed. Nathan threw Justin a pair of fresh boxers and put on a robe. It was still early and the adults were not up. '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 wait till I see you tomorrow, Nate.'
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. He sat on his bedding and pondered the problem of the surveillance 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 there were steps, and steps of more than one person too. Matthew White was back, and maybe the little blond bloke... what was his name? Peacher, that was it.
He lay low all day, and was 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. It was an overcast day, but he glimpsed people in the garden, several of them. The house was busy, which made things even worse and made his little refuge no longer a place of peace, 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 it was getting dark and he had to get out or scream, which would have been a dead giveaway.
Justin crawled up out of the depths and knelt down next to the wall of the house. The garage at least was dark, but the house above him was fully illuminated, and squares of light from the windows patterned the lawn. It was chilly and the sky was scattered with light cloud. The moon was rising over the garage. Occasionally he could hear snatches of conversation drift down and once someone stood at the kitchen window, immediately above him, for quite a while. He felt his way into the border nearest the house and sat among the fuschias and dwarf conifers. Then he was off along a stretch of open lawn, running low, until he got to the right part of the wall. He was over and out, breathing heavily as he sat on the rubble pile. 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.
Justin sat on 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 sky had cleared and a bright moon was sailing through the clouds over the Thames basin. It was bright enough to throw a shadow in front of him and glitter on the heavy fall of dew. He did not notice that he had left a dark trail on the lawn as he walked briskly back to his hiding place. With relief he slid back into the dark of the cellar and dropped to the floor. He turned suddenly and was ominously aware that he was not alone.
A light snapped on and a young man's voice said, 'Evening.'
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