The Chav Prince

XIII

By Michael Arram

They arrived in the very early morning at the Highgate house, and Justin felt like he had come home as they hauled their many bags out of the taxi and into the hall. Justin now had more clothes than he knew how to deal with. Matt and he sorted through them. They were all clean, as the yacht's laundry system was ruthless. You just had to drop a pair of socks and they were clean and pressed. Matt wanted to get the system for dirty laundry in his house sorted. 'Face it Justy, you're going to be here for a while. We do our own laundry here, although the cleaner will do the ironing. Tomorrow I will explain how the machine works.'

'Urgh. Do I really have to come to terms with life?'

'Yes,' said Matt decidedly.

Unfortunately for Justin, Fate took Matt literally the next morning. A ring on the doorbell brought Matt groggily to the front door at eleven. He'd fallen into bed with jet lag. Justin was somewhere under the duvet in his own room.

Matt blinked at the black woman on his doorstep. 'Yes?'

'It's Tanya Thompson, Dr White. You remember me?'

'Oh... right. Yes. Justin's case officer. I wasn't expecting you. Was there an appointment?'

'No. But I'm glad to catch you. Is Justin around?'

'He's flat out in bed. We flew in from St Kitts at three this morning.'

Tanya smiled. 'The idea of Justin in high society on a tropical island is, to say the least, amusing.'

Matt invited her in. 'He was very good, y'know. He made a lot of friends, and took millionaires, billionaires and prime ministers in his stride.'

'How do you feel about fostering him now?

'We love the boy. For all his aggression, he's brave, funny, clever and dauntless, and he's getting better all the time. He can learn.'

'The kid needed just one break, and you seem to have given him it. I'm so pleased. But I'm not here just to touch base. His mother's ill.'

'Oh... I'm sorry. Is it serious?'

'It's terminal.'

'What! When did this happen.'

'She was taken into hospital two nights ago. She collapsed in a pub in Manor Park. When they put her through tests, they found her riddled with cancer. It had metastazised into her brain.'

'God! How long has she got?'

'Not very long, I think. Justin will need to be told. Now, I'm willing to do it if you'd rather.'

'What? Er... I'll get him and we'll do this together.' Matt raised a reluctant Justin from the warm pit into which he had burrowed and got him to dress and come down.

'Oy... Tanya,' he said, still a little dazed. 'It wasn't me, whatever it was. I was outa the country.'

'I know, Justin. My, do you look handsome now... the hair, the tan, the clothes. Nobody'd recognise the Animal of Seven Sisters.'

Matt placed himself close to Justin on the sofa. Justin asked, 'So whassup?'

'It's your mother, Justin. She's very ill. She's in hospital and the doctors don't give her very long.'

'Uh! Wha! You're kiddin'. Can't be right. She's always sayin' there's somethink wrong with 'er, but there never is.'

'It's cancer, Justin, the unsuspected and fastworking type. It started in her pancreas. It's a matter of days not months.'

'Aw, jeez, no. Where is she? I need to get there. Matt...?'

'I'll get the car round, now.'

Matt drove Justin through the busy streets to the North Middlesex General. It was twelve thirty by the time they got there. Justin had said barely a word. His heart was pounding as they traced their way through the maze of corridors to find his mother's ward. There were six beds, and all but one of the occupants was frail and aged. Mrs Macavoy lay by the window, linked to a drip which was feeding morphine into her system. She was asleep. Justin looked down at his mother. She looked like a hollow shell of the woman he had known. She had never been robust, and now she seemed to have collapsed inside. Her hair was lank and her breathing laboured.

He sat by the bed, and the movement caused her to stir. 'Ma?'

She struggled to turn, and said 'Justy? That you?'

'Iss me, ma. How you feelin?' He took her cold hand.

'I been better, son. You been abroad. How was it? I'm glad you're back. They said I'm not gonna get better.'

And Justin told her about his time in the sun, the things he'd done and seen, and the people he'd met. He talked and talked to her in a way he had not done since he was nine years old, knowing that such talking would soon be done for good. And eventually he was able to say the things he had to say, and ask the questions he had to ask. She died late that night, as Justin dozed beside her. He woke to find her hand cold in his. He looked down on her still body before calling the nurse. You only got one mother, and this had been his, in all her imperfections and weakness. But she had been his mother.

The nurse held his shoulder for a while and told him he could have more time if he wanted, but he shook his head. He wandered out into the corridor, and there was Matt, asleep on a bench with his rolled-up coat under his head, looking surreally beautiful in this place of sickness, like an angel come to visit. Justin was very moved. He bent down and shook Matt awake gently. He blinked and looked a question.

'She's gone, Matt.' He sat up and took the boy in his strong arms and kissed him. They sat there a while, and eventually Justin put his head on Matt's shoulder and wept gently. When he had subsided, Matt rose and took the boy back out to the car. He stopped at the desk and made the necessary arrangements about the body.

'We'll take care of the funeral and stuff, Justy. Leave it to me. I've rung Andy and he's on the way back now, and I took the liberty of ringing Nathan. He's waiting for you in Highgate. He'll be staying for a bit.'

Justin murmured his thanks and said nothing else till the car drew up outside the house. Nathan was at the door. They looked at each other; Justin amazed at how beautiful his boyfriend was and how he could have forgotten it. Then they were in each other's arms and hugging. Justin's feeling of empty loneliness left him. There remained still another soul that loved him unconditionally.

And he would not sleep alone again. Nathan had told his parents that he was leaving home for Justin, who needed him. His bags and possessions were stacked in the hall, and Justin's room in Matt's house was his now too.

The funeral was in the Dominican priory in Muswell Hill, which was Matt and Andy's church. Justin and Nathan sat in the front pew of the baroque church, two movingly handsome boys in neat black suits, openly holding hands. There were a lot of mourners, not just Matt and Andy but all their circle, including Terry who had flown in specially. Mr and Mrs Underwood came, which impressed Justin, knowing how upset they were when Nathan had left them for him. Justin's mother's neighbours and his social workers were there too. The priest who took the service did a fine job, and Mrs Macavoy's acknowledged Catholicism justified a full requiem. Andy paid for a choir and musicians and Matt selected the music with the help of some clued-up friends. The end result was ordered, solemn and beautiful: a poignant contrast to the chaotic life it celebrated.

The two boys led the mourners out behind the coffin and stood at the church door hand in hand as it was loaded into the hearse. There were masses of flowers. There was to be a cremation and a scattering of ashes. 'OK, Justy?' murmured Nathan.

'Yeah, Nate. It was beautiful wasn' it?'

'I'm not one for churches much, but that was something special. I'm sure your mum would have been pleased.'

'Yeah. Nothing like a grand farewell, is there?'

They assembled at Matt's house after the committal at Golders Green. Waiters circulated and the buffet tables were full. It was a warm day and the people had spilled out into the garden.

Tanya caught up with Justin and murmured her regrets. He thanked her. 'So what now, Tanya? What happens to me?'

'You're now in council care, and stay fostered if you want, Justin. Mr Peacher and Dr White certainly don't mind. In fact they'd be very upset if you moved on.'

'What if I've got more family? They might have an idea that I should be in their care.'

'But... do you?'

'Me mum told me who me dad was before she died. What if I found him?'

'That would change things. Legally, he could ask for control, although his long history of indifference would tell against him. Aren't you happy here? You seemed to be.'

'Losing your mum when you're a kid changes your ideas. Now it turns out I still have one parent somewhere. Iss important to me to find the man.'

'Then talk to Matt and Andy. If anyone can help you, it'll be them. Who is he?'

'She said he was a young guy called Jack Whittaker, she had known him in school and he had got her pregnant, but then wanted nothing to do with her. It turned out he was gay, which may explain a few things.'

Late that night, after everyone was gone, Nathan and Justin were alone with Matt and Andy in the big lounge. The French windows were open to let in the cool night air and the lights were on in the garden flat. London hummed with city noise outside. The two couples were in the same pose: Andy and Justin laying back on their lovers' laps on facing sofas. Nathan was stroking Justin's hair gently, looking fondly down at him, just soaking up the very real pleasure of being close to his lover and never having to leave him again.

Matt began, 'Justy, Andy and I have been thinking. We've talked it through. We're ready to adopt you, if you'd like. We want you to know that we'd like to take more than temporary responsibility for you, that we'll always be there for you... that we love you.'

'Yes,' added Andy, with a broad grin, 'this is the point, Justy. You might not be the sort of kid we'd have chosen to have or dreamed about, but maybe this is a lesson to us that we didn't really know what's good for us. You have been good for us, and we can't imagine now not being part of your life. Say yes, punk. Make our day.'

Justin did not answer at once. 'Would this mean I become Justin Peacher?'

'You could if you wanted to, although it sounds a bit odd. We just want you to be our Justin, and Justin Macavoy was the name your mother gave you.'

'Would it mean that I get your money when you die?'

Matt raised his eyebrows, 'Well, yes it would, at least some of it.'

'That would make me very rich, wouldn't it? You're both rollin' in it.'

'It'd be an awful lot more than a lottery win, that's for sure. But we intend to outlive you, so don't worry about it: the rate you smoke, I don't fancy your chances,' added Andy, with a glint in his sharp blue eye.

'But it would mean that we had to take some responsibility for your financial future, and we're happy about that. We've both got far more money than we could ever use. You're a good use of it, Justy.'

Justin remained pensive. 'I do love you both, you know that. But two things. I wanna find my real dad and until I do, I don't wanna think about being adopted. The other thing is that if I did let you go ahead, what would people say bout me? He was suckin' up to them two fabulously rich queers just to get hold of their cash. He's no more than a petty criminal grown up to be an ambitious con artist. No. Iss as generous an offer as I'd expect of the two of you. But I can't accept.'

Andy had sat up now, and was leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, as was Matt. Finally he said, 'If anything proved how much you've grown, Justy, it was what you just said. OK then. We accept your reasons, but we'll not let you forget the offer was made.'

Terry had gone to visit his parents immediately after the funeral, but returned four days later. He had decided to disable the bugs installed by Anson's team in Highgate. Some very sophisticated electronics had been feeding innocent random domestic noises into the sensors for weeks. Now he had them fried with an electronic pulse; Nathan had been very interested in the process.

Terry was hanging round the garden when the Anderson's van returned with the boys. Justin had finally been given a full time job by Mr Anderson and a funded apprenticeship. He was to start his OND in Horticulture in a couple of months with the new term in September. The two were full of fun, despite a hard day cutting the grass at a series of school playing fields.

Justin launched himself at Terry and hugged him hard: 'Uncle Terry!'

'Ooh, you stink, Justy,' was the reply he got.

'Yeah, we're gonna have raunchy sex in a sec... wanna watch?'

'Tempting, but no thanks, I want to be able to keep me supper down. Hi Nate! How's the marriage going?'

'Brilliant, Terry. Waking up day after day next to the boy I love is happiness you just can't buy. Even if he does fart like a pig and smoke like a bacon factory.'

'And you love it too, you pervert. Yeah, but there' somethin' even better than sleeping together... iss wha' we do before we sleep. He ploughed me three times last night; it was drippin' out me ears by the time he finished. Total stud my Nate. Got more of a hose than a dick.'

'Boys, boys, boys. Moderation in all things. You'll wear out your body parts.'

'Crap. We're teenagers. Our hormones doan' understand the meaning of the word. And from what Pete was tellin' me, moderation wasn't something you ever understood when you wuz our age, either.'

'Then I will have to tell your foster-fathers, who I expect will be most displeased.'

Justin made a very rude noise, and the two ran up the stairs, the door of their room closing behind them with a bang. Terry shook his head, but smiled.

Matt was beginning to insist on proper meal times. He had also bitten the bullet and employed a housekeeper. The laundry was beginning to get on top of him, and the huge demands on his fridge by the appetites of two active and healthy teenagers was outstripping his ability to shop. Mrs Atkinson was a quiet but unflappable woman who had already got the cleaner under control, and was standing up to the demands of Matt's highly unconventional household well. The only emerging problem was the fact that Dave Evans looked on her appointment as a reflection on his oversight of the house from the garage.

Everyone had drifted into the dining room by seven, and despite what they had told Terry, Justin and Nathan were now clean and barefoot in fresh casuals. Andy was still in Highgate and he and Matt took up opposite ends of the table, Nate and Mate, as they liked to be called, sat down one side and Terry and a man strange to the boys sat opposite.

'Nathan and Justin, this is a business associate of mine called Will Vincent... he's also a friend. He's stopping over in London for a few days, so be nice to him. Will, these are the two lads who are complicating our lives enormously at the moment.'

'... but in a nice way,' added Nathan sweetly smiling at Will.

'Dave also passed on this message,' Matt continued. 'He refuses to come into the house as long as Mrs Atkinson is in it, and that's also complicating our life. It's from the features editor of our old friends at Gay Universe, wanting an interview, but strangely not with me, or even Andy, but with you two.'

'What?' said Nathan and Justin simultaneously.

'Oh yes, the gay press has developed an entirely predictable interest in you two celebrity teens.'

'Wow. A celebrity now,' grinned Justin.

'It's not what it's cracked up to be, Justy,' said Matt.

'You're telling me,' added Will Vincent. The teens looked at him. He seemed to be recalling something painful. He smiled at them, and suddenly he looked awfully familiar to Justin, although he couldn't work out why.

'The fact that two high profile gays like me and Andy have fostered a gay teenager in a relationship with another boy, has got people interested in that section of the gay community which watches soaps. It's mostly prurience, and you'll have to expect that the questions will come back to your raging hormones and your sex life.'

'Yeah,' interjected Justin, 'but that is all there is to talk about innit?'

'Not at all, Justy. Don't be dull. Anyway, I told him I'd talk to you. But there are to be no skin shots unless you want and unless I can veto them. And there's to be no feature at all if you say you want to pull out, and if they don't keep off your backs after that, we have lots and lots of lawyers from our favourite chambers of Rotweiler, Dobermann and Co who will have good arguments as to why they should.'

'Me and Nate'll think about it then. You OK bout it, Nate?'

'I'm not sure, but we'll talk.'

The conversation turned to the impact that the media had on their lives, even if they hadn't wanted it. Andy told his story about how he got outed when he was nineteen, and how the nastiest fringe of the press had nearly destroyed him. Terry said he moved in the shadows, so the main problems the press gave him was how to keep the paps away from his employers. 'Mind you, sometimes celebrity can be fun, don't you think?' he added with a wink at Will, who blushed.

Justin looked hard at the man. He was good looking and obviously worked out, but there was something else about him that was attractive, a mixture of shyness and sexiness that was a decided turn-on, and he knew the face too.

'Ere, I knows you doan' I? I seen you in mags.'

'Oh Christ... even sixteen year olds know me. You're a dirty little tyke aren't you?'

'He is,' interjected Terry.

'Waddya mean?' asked Justin, full of suspicion.

'He means, criminal babe, that you've been looking at gay porn. Will also answers to Jason Williams, porn star extraordinaire. So when did you see him?'

'Aw... now I knows,' he sniggered. 'Yeah. It was in a stack of gay mags I found in a burned out garage. Wanked over them for days, I did. So Jason, you still in porn?'

'No, he isn't,' said Matt, 'He's now CEO of a very respectable and successful media business in Central Europe. He's just bought three TV channels in the Czech Republic and Rothenia.'

'But I keep off the TV screen myself, believe me. And I daren't go near gay clubs,... unless, that is, I want a thrilling night.'

'How's Oskar doing?' Terry asked, with an aside to Justin, 'that's his former boyfriend, a very famous porn god called Marc Bennett. You've doubtless wanked all over him too.'

'Oskar's running the TV side of things now, he's just opened the Prague office. I was hoping he might be coming here too, but he said he's gone right off London after his last visit. He's found a boyfriend, we think, but he's very cagy about letting on who it is. It's probably someone very common and he's embarrassed.' He looked at Justin and smiled, 'Oskar's a genuine aristocrat, a count, no less, and maybe a bit too conscious of it for his own good.'

'How's your Felip doing?'

'He's a cameraman. Mostly legit. But against my advice, he's still taking work on for Falkefilm. He says he gets more of a buzz from filming copulating men than documentaries on economic stagnation in Slovakia.'

'Oh,' said Terry, 'Then Max Wolf still lives.'

'Yeah, but not in front of the camera, at least. It's that Hendrik. He still had a lot of influence over his former porn models. They can't think of him as someone who exploited them when they were young and vulnerable.'

'Now he's a weird one,' said Terry. 'I liked him, though. Nice bloke in some ways. He wanted me to join him at his villa on the Croatian coast this summer. Probably wanted to talk me into doing wicked stuff for him... maybe he fancied me as a porno star too. If only I'd met him when I was a teen. I'd have been as good as Oskar, I bet. Maybe not as good as you Will, but still up there with the best of the Rothenian boys.'

The talking, laughing and stories went on for a good two hours. Almost against his will, Justin found the meal fascinating, as fascinating as the adults round the table, their lives and bizarre experiences. Secrets of the security world, the manoeuvres of media empires, and the bizarre sexuality of the Central European porn industry went past him in a baroque procession. And in the middle of it all was Terry whose life touched every aspect of it. He heard the story of how Terry had saved Will from the grips of a porn king and a devilish trap set by some very clever men. He was like some hero of ancient days: endlessly resourceful and courageous, totally cool and confident. They ended up in the lounge with glasses of wine and spirits, and the adults were still going strong at ten when Nathan yawned and prodded Justin with his foot. The demands of the job sent Justin to bed now at times he would never have tolerated as a street kid.

As they were going hand in hand up the stairs, Terry called up and threw a DVD box that Nathan fielded. The cover had a picture of a nude Will and another nude and beautiful young man in a clinch, with the view of a city beyond. The cover said 'An American in Strelzen'. Terry put his finger to his lips and winked.

Nathan protested at setting it going in their room, and found plenty to make fun of in the opening scenes, but when the sex began his mouth fell open and he said no more. His hand was soon inside his boxers fondling his own member. Justin threw off his clothes, lay out and stroked himself and soon they were side by side, naked and stroking each other as scenes of hot and amazingly passionate copulation played out on the screen. By the time the last ejaculations spurted on the screen, Justin was impaled on Nathan's cock bouncing up and down on him while Nathan stared at the screen round his body.

After their own climaxes, the boys looked at each other. Nathan said, 'Well if gardening ever gets boring, I know what I fancy doing.'

'Yeah but only wiv me, lover. I wanna talk to Will tomorrow. Got a lot of questions for the bloke.'

They nestled together naked and satiated in the dark. Before they fell asleep, Nathan asked, 'Justy babe, you're up to something over this Gay Universe article aren't you?'

'Er... why d'you say that?'

'Cos, my babe, I can read you. There was a little furrow of concentration on your forehead when you were thinking about it. It's a sign there's a clever idea brewing in that pretty head of yours.'

The bedclothes rustled as Justin got up on his elbows. 'OK. So I am. Me dad is Jack Whittaker. What do we know about him? Only that he's gay. What's the biggest circulation gay mag in the UK? Only Gay Universe. The sad story of little orphan Macavoy is going to get out and also his desire to meet his long lost dad. We may get a response or we may not, but issa start innit.'

Nathan pulled his lover close to him, and kissed him on the mouth, lingeringly. As he let Justin go he said quietly, 'In that case, my chavvy babe, I'll go ahead with the interview with you.'

There was silence followed by a small voice saying, 'I love you, my Nathan.'

'And I love you, my Justin.'

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