Terry and the Peachers

I

By Michael Arram

This story is the second of the Peacher saga, and follows on from 'The Decent Inn'. It takes up some of the loose ends and develops some of the marginal characters in the earlier story, particularly Terry O'Brien, who I suppose is the genuine hero in it, as he is in the other stories in which he will appear. It continues also the story of the romance of Matthew White and Andy Peacher, and that of their friend Paul Oscott. The institutions named in it are (almost) all imaginary. Matthew's home university is in an entirely fictional university city in England somewhere between Reading and Swindon and its resemblances to any real university are simply generic. In later stories it is called Cranwell, and there is no allusion intended to Cranfield University. The persons described in the story are also fictitious and bear no resemblance to any living person.

The story originally appeared in the Nifty archive, and many thanks to www.iomfats.org for consenting to host it here. It contains graphic depictions of sex, mostly but not entirely between young males. If the reading or possessing of such material as this is illegal in your place of residence please leave this site immediately and do not proceed further. If you are under the legal age to read this, please do not do so.

Terry O'Brien turned nervously into Finkle Road, pulled his baseball cap low over his eyes and started counting the houses. He got over on to the side with the odd numbers. Finkle Road had been sadly altered by the nearby university. Terry was a native of the city, and he remembered when it had been an ordinary road with families and kids. But the expansion in higher education had its effect. From five thousand students, the university had grown in ten years to fifteen thousand. Spreading from the east, one by one, houses had been rented to students or snapped up by the university accommodation service. Those residents who found themselves surrounded by students soon found reasons to sell up and get out. Terry knew why. Students were as different from each other as anybody else, but most of them did like a drink and a good time, and some of them had no self control. Also they were young and their parents were no longer there to tell them to keep the noise down. People in Finkle Road soon got fed up with dark figures throwing up over their garden wall, their wheelie bins set alight and the unrelenting dull thump of the bass beat of a stereo at maximum volume through the wall at two in the morning. Also, a lot of residents did not like the fact that the university's expansion drew in many new students with yellow or brown skins. A BNP candidate had nearly been elected for the Northside council ward last year.

Terry was nineteen, and he was not a student. He had achieved his mediocre A levels the previous year, but he had not applied for a degree course. He couldn't raise the enthusiasm. He knew he was bright, but he also knew that he didn't get much of a buzz from study for its own sake. He told his parents he wanted to take a year to think about his future. They weren't too happy, but they didn't complain too loudly. Like him, they lived uncomfortably close to Finkle Road and, like him, they had learned to faintly resent what the university was doing to their neighbourhood. 'Student' was a word that was rarely used with approval in the O'Brien household, especially as his father was a police inspector who frequently dealt with the student population in its least attractive moods.

Then there was the other reason for the hiatus. Terry was gay. He had been perfectly open about it to his parents since he was sixteen, and they had reluctantly conceded the point. His mother had even got to the point of getting interested in talking about possible boyfriends - not that he showed any sign of settling down, and his mother would have found it hard to believe some of the things he had got up to since he came out.

He had been open about his orientation in the sixth form of his Catholic comprehensive, and no one had been too surprised when he came out. To begin with, Terry had been a keen dancer since he had been a small boy. This by no means meant that Terry was gay, but dancing was not what his mates did. It made him different. It also left him with a languid grace and quick movements which brought him close to the edge of effeminacy, and with his mobile face, his slightly drawling voice and his air of being always on display, no one was at all surprised when Terry confirmed he was gay.

Coming out had led to one or two difficult moments, but somehow Terry got away with it. For all his affectations, his multiple ear piercings and his drawl, he was a genuine and friendly sort, full of humour, and his avowedly hetero friends had stuck by him loyally. For he was popular despite being so obviously different. A lot of it was because in Year 10 he had been the star of a blinding school production of Peter Pan which had even been reviewed in the national press when the teacher in charge took it to a student drama festival. His supple dancer's body, his preternatural self-possession, his elfin, amused face, his thick blond curls and contrasting black eyebrows had made him into a stunning fifteen-year-old Peter; all he had needed was a pair of pointy ears. So he had become a school hero, a status he had never lost even though he had come out. People just shrugged. Terry had always been different.

There was talk of auditions at the Royal School of Dance. But Terry turned out to be a Lost Boy in more than just the theatrical sense. He could not motivate himself, and would not be motivated. Local YMCA shows, tutoring ladies' disco fitness groups, and support roles at the ballet group were the limit of his modest ambition. His female friends – of whom he had quite a few - and his dance teachers could only throw their hands up; he was worth so much more.

It was because of one particular old school friend that he was walking down Finkle Road that dull February morning. The unrequited love of his schoolboy years had been his oldest friend, Paul Oscott. Paul had then lived a few doors down from his family home, but he had lived a very different life from Terry. Paul's father had died of cancer when he was twelve, after a long and painful illness. It had destroyed Paul's childhood and unhinged his mother. Home for Paul became a battleground and a place of squalor. What was worse was that Paul had many of the gifts Terry had not got: he was intellectually alert, focused and committed. Yet, different though they were they had been friends since Sunday school in their church of St Francis, and, although Paul was a year above Terry in school, they had been inseparable for many years. In Paul's teens, he had frequently had to take refuge in Terry's bedroom from the rage and abuse of his mother.

It was on sleepovers with Paul that Terry had begun fully to realise his difference from other boys. Paul was not a particularly good-looking boy, he was thin and gawky, but he had assurance, a quick wit and a kind, open face and Terry had gradually and tragically fallen in love with him. At last, one night when they were fourteen and fifteen, it had got to the point where mutual dares had got the two of them naked together on Terry's bed. Kneeling between Paul's splayed legs Terry had taken his thin member in his hand and his own had sprung to full erection. With Paul staring at him but not drawing away, and breathing hard, Terry had slowly masturbated his friend, his own cock straining. He still dreamed of those ecstatic moments, his hand cupping Paul's dark and hairless balls, and then stroking up the narrow length of his penis, the foreskin opening and closing on its long purple head, the clear precum glistening as it leaked out of Paul's slit. As he was walking, Terry's cock enlarged and stiffened at the recollection of it. Then came the moment when Paul had moaned and lifted himself off the bed as his ejaculation had spattered his belly and his thin pubic hair with creamy gobbets.

Terry knew from then on what he was. Paul had offered nervously to return Terry's attentions, but Terry wouldn't let him that night. He had cleaned his friend up, and leaned in to kiss his mouth, but Paul couldn't go that far, and turned his head. Still, from time to time, Paul had not resisted Terry's earnest suggestions of sex play. Paul had masturbated him, and on one glorious occasion had sucked his cock, but mostly Terry had serviced Paul. He had become devoted to stimulating Paul's genitals, his mouth had become familiar with every square centimetre of his friend's crotch, and Paul always became very excited if his tongue strayed below his testicles. But as the years passed they both realised that Paul may have had bisexual leanings, but he was definitely not gay.

Slowly their teenage sex play became different for both of them. Paul sadly admitted to Terry that he felt guilty for using him, that when his lips were wrapped around his cock, he often came only because he was fantasising that he was inside a woman. And Terry gloomily came to the conclusion that he was entirely in love with his geeky but so very kind and so very clever friend. It was a love which could not be returned, as they both grew to know. But still there was the sex. Terry needed it, and Paul went along with it for several reasons. Paul may not have loved Terry then, but Terry was at least dear to him, and, to be honest with himself, the release of sex was always welcome.

When Paul had just turned seventeen, after a terrible day for Paul at home, they had spent one last night together and, desperate for love and desperated to be loved, Paul had entered Terry's anus and for once made full love to his friend. Paul had woken in the night to find Terry shaking with tears beside him. He had taken him in his arms, and for the first and only time as a boy, deeply kissed and lovingly embraced him, wiping away his tears and whispering tenderly into his ear. Terry had clung to him, feeling now for the first time what it was really like to be held in a lover's arms. It had never happened since. Not long afterwards, Paul had run away from his home, and made a new life. He had found a refuge, ironically, in a student house, and there he had found purpose and direction, and new horizons.

Terry lost what little connection he had with Paul Oscott when he had gone on to university: something he had done against all the odds. But Terry had decided that from then on there would be no lies in his life. He came out to his parents and friends. Paul had supported him while he was still in school, and his other friends had rallied round. The school chaplain too had been a tower of strength, and it had all gone far better than he had a right to expect. But he had found no new love. If there had been other gay boys in his year, they kept themselves to themselves.

Terry had drifted into what night life his small university city offered. He even got a job clearing tables in the local gay pub in the back streets of the city centre, the King's Cross. He got friendly with a lot of the customers, but he was known there as untouchable. Frank, the manager, would not allow his bar workers to get into relationships on the premises and he had a wicked way with his tongue. He was protective of Terry, for Terry had grown into the unconventionally handsome young man he had always promised to be: thick and curling golden hair, usually gelled-up in spikes, a pointed face lit up by fascinating, laughing hazel eyes. Like his Paul, he was on the slim side, but was not so tall as to become gawky, as Paul had. He still had all his boyish quickness and grace, and now it was combined with a young man's strength.

Terry had not found love, but he had found plenty of partners. A particularly passionate recent affair with a trans-gender boy his own age had been the most extreme example so far of his desire to be outside society's boundaries. He liked to shock. In some of his more exhibitionist moods there was no doubt, even to the most unobservant, that Terry was a young gay and very proud of it. He had really admired his boyfriend Anthony as a free spirit, apart from his tendency to a funny but wearying bitchiness. For Anthony, the world was there to mock; he expected no kindness from it and he gave it no quarter. Terry had listed him in his personal sexual diary (which he liked to call "The Anals of Terry") as 'Anthony the Acid'. It had all ended in a glorious row, in which Terry had been abused in terms of such vituperative power that he had left Anthony admiring rather than hurt. But Terry was not like Anthony; he had too much generosity of spirit, too much love to give.

Today, for the first time in well over a year, that generosity had impelled Terry to go and seek Paul. He had laid aside his tight tee shirts, his multiple earings, bracelets and thick thumb rings. He had dressed down to what his less fashionable contemporaries wore, ball cap, bright white trainers and baggy tracksuit. Apart from his litheness of movement and quickness of eye, you might have thought he was a typical townie, because Terry was quite a gifted actor. He had even suppressed his usual physical grace to adopt the chav's macho swagger.

He was checking the doors down through the thirties and counting down to Paul's number, 25. Finally he found it. No. 25 was a terraced house, noticeably smarter than its neighbours. A professional builder had spent a lot of time replacing windows and cleaning up the stone façade and bay window; new curtains and a freshly tiled path added to the effect. The builder seemed still to be working on the place; at least a skip was outside the house, full of rubbish and uprooted bushes. He rang the bell; two minutes later he rang it again, and then again. He leaned into the patterned and frosted glass to see if he could see anyone moving inside. Finally he glimpsed a dark figure moving and he rang again. This time the door opened and it was Paul. He looked surprised, but recovered and grinned in his familiar and quirky way. He greeted his old friend with the old warmth, 'Hiya, Tel. Wassup? How long you been here? When did you join the townie gangs? You in the BNP now?'

'I bin ringin' the bell for two fuckin' hours, Paulie.'

'Two hours eh? Odd, 'cos I went out an hour ago to get some milk and there was no one here. Sorry, I was out the back working in the garden. Come in and I'll show you the place.' Terry walked into the hall. A lot of money had been spent on tidying the house, with new carpets, fresh paint and plaster work. It all smelled very fresh and clean. There were smart modern prints on the walls and expensive light fittings. Paul led him down the well-lit hall passage into the back kitchen, full of pine, glass and steel. Everything was clean, neat and tidy.

'OK place this, me mate,' Terry said approvingly. 'You fallen on yer feet.'

'Yup,' Paul agreed. 'What's more, it doesn't cost me a bean, I just have to manage it for the owner, and he lives up in Northampton, so he's not on me back much.' Terry noted how Paul's local accent had evaporated away in eighteen months at university. It made him a little uneasy. In fact there were other things about Paul that made him uneasy. He had grown in ways other than physical. He was self-evidently and unselfconsciously cool. He had become a man, and, for all his wild life, Terry felt uncomfortably like a boy next to him. There were other indications of change in Paul's circumstances. It was winter, but Paul was tanned in the face and arms, while his glasses and clothes were foreign-looking and clearly very expensive. Terry wondered where the money had come from.

Paul made them a tea, and found sugar for Terry's cup. He gave him a tour of the garden. Great work was in progress. It had been cleared and turf rolls were stacked ready against a new timber fence. Paul had lately been laying a patio at the end of the garden. Bricks for an ambitious barbecue pit had been stacked up. A border had already been bedded in and planted. Paul surveyed it as proudly as if he were the lord of a manor.

'Come on into me room; the other lads'll be back soon.' They took their mugs upstairs into one of the front rooms, the one with the bay window. Terry sat in the window seat. The room was fitted up as a study bedroom, with a modern desk, on which was a laptop displaying as wallpaper the face of a very good-looking brunette with a wide smile.

Paul laughed as Terry noticed it, 'That's me girl... me Rachel.' There were other pictures of the same dark woman around the room, and on the bedside table, there she was pictured again, this time with two young men, all laughing into the camera in ski gear, their arms round each other's shoulders.

Terry recognised the men, as he could hardly fail to do, for theirs were not obscure faces. One, a boyish-looking blond with faint freckles and an impish, lively grin, was Andrew Peacher, eldest son of one of the richest men in the world, and on the other side of Rachel was the even more famous face of his partner, Matthew White, reckoned by the celeb mags to be high in the top ten of the most beautiful men in the western world. The rumour was that he'd just signed a huge modelling contract with a major international fashion house. But Terry could hardly avoid knowing them, because they had taken Paul into 25 Finkle Road three years before, given him a home and had helped him into the university they were then attending. Then later there had been a tabloid scandal, and Andy had been hounded out of England by a remorseless press persecution. After that Terry had lost track of Andy and Matt, but magazines and supplements that had come his way told him they were now living in the United States. He had seen an article on them before Christmas in a gay mag he bought. It had got up his nose. It made them seem remote, smug and spoilt in their big Californian mansion with its pool and its chandeliers. He had decided to despise them on principle.

Paul followed his gaze, 'You remember Andy and Matt, don't you?'

'As if I could forget all that fuss when you wuz in the upper sixth, Paulie. You couldn't get down Finkle Road 'cos of the reporters. And you wuz in the thick of it and lovin' every second of it too.'

Paul winced a little. 'It wasn't fun. The bastards crucified little Andy, and it broke poor Matt's heart when he ran for it. No it wasn't fun, believe me.'

'No offence, Paulie. I know they wuz good to you and all. So you still see them then?'

'Er yes... yes I do,' he went off into an abstracted moment before refocusing on Terry. 'I'm glad you came round, Tel. But something tells me that you're not just here for a social call, am I right?'

'So no small talk then, eh Paulie? No "how's yer mum and dad?" or "seein' anyone regular nowadays?" OK then, cut to the chase it is, me mate. Iss been quite a while since I seen you, hasn't it? I've not been doin' much to tell the truth. I've had the odd one-nighter; fact is I go lookin' for 'em. But thass why I'm here really, 'cos I had a one-nighter last week thass been sort of preyin' on me mind like.' Paul was frowning, but he didn't interrupt.

'It wen' like this. I met a guy, an older guy, in the Queen's 'bout three months ago. You know .. the King's Cross, what the students call the Queen's Cruise. Well Frank in the Queen's don't allow bar help to pick up followers. Says it annoys him and gives the place a reputation. Can you believe that? Anyway this guy was not a local; sounded like a Londoner to me, not that I'm very good wiv accents like. But we chatted over the bar, and he tried to hit on me, before Frank came up and made some of his cuttin' comments to both of us. He said his name wuz Johnny, which I suppose it might have bin.

I didn't see him again till last week, when he wuz in again wiv another bloke, who he called Laurie. Johnny got very friendly, and I quite liked him. He was sort of rough looking, but wiv a nice smile and very polite too. And when I was in the toilet he came in and suggested we meet up after closing time. So I did, and we went to a club, the Bentinck, you know it? Quite a few gays go there. After that he and his mate Laurie suggested we go back to his hotel, and to cut a long story short, we made out pretty energetically.' Terry looked under his long dark lashes at Paul, 'I always wanted to take two blokes at both ends at the same time, and I let 'em spit-roast me. Johnny was pretty rugged, but it wuz OK, I guess. Then they swopped round.'

Paul shifted in his seat, but looked impassive. Terry had hoped for more of a reaction. He continued, 'I slept wiv Johnny. He wuz quite a stud, and I found him on his way up me arse in the mornin' too when I woke up. Pissed me off a bit, as he hadn't put a condom on, so I made him take it out, which he did. But I let him talk me into a BJ. It was while I had my mouth round his cock and he was playing with me curls that his mobile went off, an' he pissed me off some more by startin' a fuckin' business meetin' while I was working like a good un on his dick; up an' down like a hydraulic pump I wuz. Made me feel quite unappreciated. You know how I take pride in me performance in oral sex, don' you Paulie.'

Paul smiled, but kept silent.

Terry shrugged, 'So there I was blowin' him off like a professional and there he was treatin' me like a street tart. It wasn' as if he was payin' me at all. I'd gone off him by then, believe me Paulie. But he said somethink that took me mind off me grudge. He mentioned the name of Paul Oscott.'

Paul snapped his full attention on Terry, and leaned forward in his chair, 'Me? He mentioned me?'

'Yup. I nearly bit his dick in half. He screeched and smacked me hard round the head, the bastard. So I got off him and grabbed me clothes. He was sort of apologising by the time I was heading for the door. But I went without a word. I don't put up with abuse. I was shaken too. I realised that when I discovered I was stark naked in the corridor wiv me clothes under me arm, with this family lookin' at me in total shock.'

Paul's smile grew a bit broader. He took off his glasses and polished them. 'OK Tel, so there you were in a hotel bedroom sucking off this guy who mentioned me in the course of a phone conversation. Can you remember what else he was talking about?'

'Not a lot me mate, sorry. When it started I was so annoyed I just blocked him out. But I heard him talk about Finkle Road, and that must have pulled me back to what he was saying. Somethink like "I'll get to work. I got the name... Paul Oscott, and it's no. 25." Then I clenched me jaws, he got some of me teeth, and Johnny boy leaped six feet from a sittin' position. Now you tell me somethink. Why would this hard bloke from London be interested in Paul Oscott, eh? 'Cos it seems to me that he was plannin' on surveillance.'

Paul shook his head, 'I really got no idea, Tel.'

Terry raised an eyebrow, 'Well you might not, Paulie, but if you ask me, it's all wrapped up in Andy and Matt innit? This guy's one of those tabloid hacks, I'd bet, after more dirt on yer mates.'

Paul shrugged, 'As an idea it'd be more convincing if Andy and Matt still lived here. But this is their old room. They left Finkle Road for good last October, and they aren't ever coming back.'

'Maybe Johnny's bosses don' know that yet.'

'Maybe. They'll soon find out though.'

The front door opened and the hall filled with male voices. Steps thumped up the stairs, and the noise of clinking and banging came from the kitchen. A voice shouted up to Paul, asking if he was in. Paul replied, but otherwise sat there brooding. Terry looked at him, remembering that same look on Paul's face when they had lain together in his bed when they were teenage lovers. The ache for Paul was still in his heart. He knew he would never lose it. Although he did not know it, his handsome face too was brooding, and Paul could read more of what Terry was feeling than he realised. Abruptly he leaned forward from his desk chair and took Terry's hand.

'You're a good mate, Tel. It can't have been easy coming here after all this time, but I really am glad that you did. I've missed you. I really have.'

Terry gave a pale smile. 'Yeah Paul, but we both know that I've missed you more, and for different reasons. Don' have to spell it out do I?'

Paul gripped his hand tighter. 'Which makes what you've done by coming here all the more generous. I'm sorry you've not been able to move on.'

'Yeah well don' say much for me do it? I'm a sad bastard, one fuck and I'm yours for ever.'

'It was a good fuck, though.'

'Yeah it was, wasn' it. Never had a better. Tell me Paulie, what did you feel when we wuz doin' it together, I think I gotta right to ask you that.'

Paul looked at his old friend thoughtfully, 'It was good, Tel, better than good. You're an artist with your tongue and you're also a delight to look at naked. But it was sex... good sex, but only sex. I was using you, and Tel, you deserve so much more than that.'

Terry looked at him for a while, 'Thass not quite true, is it?' It was a statement. Paul looked momentarily disconcerted.

'Why did you say that?'

'Cos that last night there wuz more than just sweat and semen involved. I know, I felt it. You din' have to screw me or kiss me the way you did that last time, but you did. So why?'

Paul took his hand from Terry's and took his time about replying. 'Is it love when I feel so sorry for someone's unhappiness that I'm willing to do anything for him?'

Terry snapped back, 'I'd say it wuz, Paulie.' But he softened immediately, 'Well, a sort of love anyway. Certainly more than anyone else has ever giv'n me.'

Paul said, 'Then let's leave it at that. You know I care for you a lot, Tel. You're my best and oldest, you were also my first. I won't say that our sleeping together was nothing, because you meant... mean a lot to me. For a long time you kept me sane and gave me a lot of affection and support, and I really owe you for that. But I've shared my bed with other people since. And one of them at least is very special to me. Your prince will come, Tel. I got some experience on this. You're a lovely bloke when people get past the big act. There is someone out there for you, and you'll meet him. I could tell you 'bout some friends of mine called Alex and Ben...'

'Save it, Paulie. I'm glad we had this talk. Iss cleared up a lot of things. Can we go on seein' each other?'

'There's nothing I'd like better. I owe you so much, Tel. A lot more maybe than you owe me. You're about the closest thing I have to family.' He paused, 'But in any case, there's more reasons now that we have to see each other, a lot more. This thing you walked into isn't going to go away, and I'm going to need your help, if you're willing. But it'll be anything but safe.'

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