The Chav Prince

XIX

By Michael Arram

'How do I look,' asked Justin.

'You just love dressing up, you vain babe you,' smiled Nathan.

'Come on... how does it look?'

'Brilliant as usual, but not as brilliant as when you've got nothing on.'

Justin laughed and fixed the flower in Nathan's buttonhole. They were in full morning dress. They kissed. It was a glorious October morning, the sun was shining and they were very much in love.

Hand in hand, they left their room and went to find Matt or Andy. It was the day the older couple was to celebrate their civil partnership. 'Now we've got a kid, Andy,' Matt had said, 'I've got to make an honest man of you.' Andy was at the bottom of the stair, fretting.

'Morning dad,' grinned Justin. 'When's the car coming?'

'It's already here. You'd better go. You're supposed to be there early to hand out programmes and stuff.'

'Sure dad,' and Justin, followed by Nathan, kissed and hugged Andy, and ran off laughing down the steps and into a limousine, that whisked them to a big and plush country hotel in High Barnet, which Matt had taken over for the weekend. It was licensed for the celebration of partnerships, and Matt had expanded its capacity by erecting a small town of marquees around it.

Dave Evans had masterminded the whole thing, and he was in organisational heaven and a morning suit, pacing the grounds and haranguing the caterers. A small orchestra was tuning up in the function room, and the other ushers were congregating round the doors.

'Morning Your Serene Highness. Morning Ed.'

Ed Peacher and Fritz were chattering away as only young teen boys can. It had been instant friendship since they had met on the yacht at Nice. 'Ya see, Justy,' Ed had said the previous night, 'we're two heterosexual kids in families full of queers, so we gotta be friends... but just friends, OK?'

'Yes, Justy, it can put a lot of pressure on you, having gay brothers,' Fritz confirmed.

'Tell me about it,' said Carl White sitting close by, and a little drunk, 'I had to shag every available girl in Northampton to establish my straight credentials when I was seventeen. It put me off my training. You gay guys just don't realise what you put us through.'

'My nose bleeds for you all,' smiled Justin, and blew them a very gay kiss.

Ed and Fritz had the programmes sorted and were awaiting the first guests. It was the most high profile celebration to date of a gay partnership in Britain, and it was to be a major occasion. Cabinet ministers, actors and producers were to be there in numbers, as well as friends and family.

The registrar arrived, and she had got into the swing of things by adopting an academic gown and wearing a hood. Nathan checked over the desk down the front with her, to make sure all was in order. The supporters came in soon after: Carl White and Terry for Matt, and for Andy there was Peter Peacher and a new guy that Justin did not know but had heard a lot about, an old friend of Andy's called Paul Oscott, a tall and gangling bespectacled man, looking a bit harrassed.

Paul had stopped off at the back to talk with Dave Evans, 'So you're a father now Paulie, Andy was saying?'

'Yup. Haven't slept for two months... look at the bags under my eyes. It's been so bad that jet lag means nothing to me nowadays, it's my normal state.'

'What did you call him?'

'Can't you guess? Matthew Andrew Oscott, of course. He's beautiful, takes after his mum of course.'

'Couldn't Rachel come?'

'She's back in work, her mum's staying with us in Washington to babysit little Mattie. You've got to come to the baptism, it's in the new year.'

Justin leafed through the programme as he was waiting for the first guests: there he was listed: 'Ushers: HSH the Prince of Tarlenheim; Mr Edward Peacher; Mr Justin Peacher-White; Mr Nathan Underwood.' Justin was getting used to his new name, and quite liked it. He looked at the front cover and smiled: 'A Celebration of the Civil Partnership between Sir Andrew William Peacher KBE and Dr Matthew Anthony White CBE'. The honours had come unexpectedly in the aftermath of the kidnap, Andy for services to young people and the disadvantaged, Matt for services to the media. There had been a reception for Andy at 10 Downing Street and then the trip to the palace. The PM had let it out that there had been a lot of pressure from the Home Secretary, who had come out himself a decade before, to honour high profile gays in public service properly. The Home Secretary was to be there today, and was getting quite chummy with Andy.

'Hey, Gramps!' Justin said, as Tony White, Matt's father, wandered in.

'Hullo, yer scamp!' he smiled, happy to have taken on the role of unofficial grandparent to Justin. Justin was the sort of lad that he could understand, unlike Matt, as he freely admitted to Justin. 'Always reading, that lad, so very clever. Made you nervous about talking to him, sweet though he always was.' Justin had enjoyed a happy weekend with Matt's mum and dad in Northampton after the formal adoption, being spoiled rotten by the woman he was happy to call 'Grandma White.' They had sent him a birthday card and present on his seventeenth.

'Have yer seen Dick Peacher?'

'Not yet, Gramps.' Tony White and Richard Peacher had a strangely warm relationship for two such wildly different men, brought together by the homosexual liaison of their sons.

'I'll go and see if I can find him outside, then.'

Justin suddenly noticed that arrivals were beginning and called the team to order. Soon they were busy handing out programmes and directing the uncertain. Finally everyone was settled and they awaited the arrival of Matt and Andy, the orchestra was playing away at light classics, and almost against his will Justin found himself humming along with the tunes.

Matt and Andy did not want to do the wedding thing, and march up the aisle. Andy said he refused as the passive partner to carry a bouquet, as being silly. The point about gay relationships, as far as he was concerned, he said, was that they weren't weddings, they were something different. So he didn't want to imitate the straights, he wanted new traditions to fit new circumstances. So they decided to come in from the side and take up positions in front of their supporters and make their promises and sign the legal documents.

So they appeared and entered to great applause from the witnesses. Andy had decided on wearing his order with rose pink sash, star and badge, and so Matt wore the red sash and star of his Rothenian order as well as the badge of his CBE. They looked very distinguished, although, as usual, ill-matched in height.

The orchestra played subdued mood music as they made their promises, holding hands and kissing at the end, to great applause. Then there were hugs with the supporters behind them and kisses with the families. The orchestra struck up a march - not Mendelssohn - and they went out slowly, shaking hands with the guests, and hugging and kissing the boys keeping the door. 'Love you, dads!' Justin said to both of them with tears in his eyes. 'Love you too, son, and so very proud of you!' was the emotional reply as they embraced and kissed him.

Justin finally got Terry to himself late that night in the corner of a lamplit marquee. Ramon was off dancing with Andy somewhere. He had seen Terry a few times, but never to talk to on his own. He looked well, at least.

'How you doin' Uncle Terry? No really.'

Terry gave a quirky smile at him, 'OK. And that's all I can say, sweet babe. I had to take a year out from my course at JAC. Thass not too bad, as I was year ahead of Ramon anyway, so we'll both be juniors next year. But it'll be a year before I'm fit for dancing again, and that's a real pain. I'll always be a bit nervous of the splits too.'

'Does it... y'know, slow you down in bed?'

'Losing one of me balls? No, actually it doesn't. They put a prosthetic in, so I'm still well-balanced in the scrotum department. I can still get it up and squirt to order. But I've lost me confidence in other ways. I resigned from Peacher Corp Security, although Richard Peacher's made me a director and given me a pay off that means I'll never need to work again. But I just seem to want to stay at home and read, or go out and jog, or, best of all, lie in bed late with me Ramon. It'll take time, I suppose. But what about you, me favourite teen babe?'

'I'm OK. I doan like thinking about that time in the cellar, but I doan have nightmares about it. You can't miss a dad you never had, and he was a shite sort of bloke in any case. World's better off without him.'

'You seem very settled with your Nathan.'

'Ee's a good bloke, and we're getting very mature now I'm seventeen and he's eighteen. We just sort of snuggle together, and we laugh and have fun. We doan have sex three times a night like we did. Only twice a night now, so I s'pose we're getting' old. But he's such a safe guy, and I've stopped needing to shove him about. He shoves back if I do anyway. The college is hard goin' but I'm better behaved than some of the others on me course. And whoever thought they'd hear me say that?

Then there's Matt and Andy. They're so... dad-like, is that a word? Sort of concerned and funny and generous, just like you want dads to be. They've changed me, made me feel wanted and happy.'

'They did the same for Paulie... you met him?'

'Yeah... he's a bit of an egghead isnee?'

'Oh yeah, although so's Matt.'

'But when you look like Matt, you doan think of 'im as a clever bloke, just as an amazing face... and the rest. I saw him nude the other day. Couldn't take me eyes off him.'

'Careful Justy, it'll be incest next if you're not careful.'

Justin actually blushed, 'Nah... he's not like that, me neether. He's too, sorta in the moment and controlled, know what I mean?'

'You still working for that nice Mr Anderson?'

'Oh yeah, we're still a team, Nate and Mate. I gotta raise last week. We're goin on holiday over Christmas to Rothenia, payin' for our own tickets an' all. Oskar, Will and Fritzy're takin' us skiing in the Rothenian alps. I never went skiing before. Nate's takin' me to the practice slope in Hendon. He's learnin' to drive. His dad's buying him a car when he passes, and then I'll be learning too.'

'So are we happy now?'

'Blissful, Uncle Terry. Can we come and stay wiv you in America next year some time? Andy's gonna give us a lift in his jet.'

'Yeah, it'd be great.'

'And can we do sex in a foursome?' Justin grinned lasciviously.

'Wha...! Who told you?'

'Pete let it out. He said Tim and Ramon had a thing and wanted to do something about it and you and Pete went along with it. Sounds wicked, I'd love to give it a try. I'd really like your...'

'No. Forget it. Absolutely not. Totally no way. You're a very naughty boy, you know that?'

'Yeah. So they say. But not as naughty as you, from what Pete said... nine inches, wow. I'd love to see that. I'd love even more to feel it inside me.'

'Calm down, tyke. Remember what happened with Pete and Tim. I'm pretty sure that the group sex didn't help them in the end. If I'd been thinking with something other than me dick last year, I'd have realised it said something about Tim that he initiated it.'

'Yeah, but I'm not Tim, I doan wanna be laid by half the western world.'

'You might mention it to Nathan then.'

'Er... perhaps not.'

'Just trying it on, like I thought.'

Justin sat quiet for a moment, and, Terry thought, began looking unusually thoughtful for him. 'Uncle Terry?'

'Yes me babe?'

'How long do you think me and Nate'll last?'

'What's worrying you, little one?'

'Gays doan have a good track record in relationships do they.'

Terry smiled gently, 'Depends on the gays but, no, we don't.'

'Then how much time have me and me Nate got?'

'It depends. Me and Ramon have been going for three years, and we don't get less in love as years go by, and Matt and Andy have been together now for seven. They ain't ever going to split up. But Pete and Tim, they were fragile. I didn't see it coming any more than they did. The point is, little babe, that it'll last as long as you both want it to, and are willing to work at it. Tim lost it, you may not. And I say you, not Nathan. He's the rock, you have to decide whether you want to stay anchored to him. So think twice about foursomes, babe. My... that was almost wise wasn't it? Don't think Matt could have done better. A brush with death doesn't half give you perspective.'

Nathan kissed Terry, and wandered off across the floor, between the dancing couples. He smiled to see Nathan and Ramon together. He wandered out of the marquee into the evening, and the music got fainter. Muffled laughter drew his attention to two dark figures close together between two clipped bushes, both tall, with the light shining off their blond heads. Oskar and Pete, and they were kissing. So a new boat was being pushed out on to the ocean of relationships and into the tides of chance. Still, at least Oskar would have an advantage over the rest of us, Justin thought. If Pete took one step out of line, a grey spectre would certainly be there to tell on him.

Justin walked back into the marquee, laughing gently to himself, and Nathan met him at the entrance, his eyes shining. They kissed.

THE END

This concludes (I think) the chronicles of Andrew Peacher and Matthew White. It seems all very right and proper that their love story should end in a twenty-first century version of the Victorian novel's usual ending, a solemn union of two souls. I hope you've enjoyed the series, if indeed you have been following it. Certainly I've enjoyed writing them; but then the author gets more out of these exercises than the reader, and I've learned a lot about myself while writing them. Sed lectori judicium.
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