Not as it seems

by Benjamin J. Conner

Chapter 5

"FUUCK" Ethan yelled as he cringed "What are you doing in here? You startled me to death."

Sitting on the closed toilet seat with a surprised and questioning look, was Michael. He didn't want to be alone and thought it was a good idea to join Ethan in the bath room. The last thing he wanted to do, was to terrify him.

"I told you to wait in my room, didn't I? How long have you been here?"

Ethan was standing there in the middle of the room, on a rectangular towel, while the water, which immediately felt cold on his body, dribbled down his legs on to it. Thank god his boner had already gone away, so it wasn't as awkward as it could have been. But he worried as to how long Michael had been sitting there.

"Did he watch me jack-off?" was Ethan's most important question - a question he would never ask aloud. It was a disturbing situation. Michael still wore his clothes; Ethan wore only what god had given him at birth and he felt as though he had been caught with one hand in the cookie jar; naked, vulnerable, unprotected.

All the good feelings he had just experienced were gone in one second. And the thought that Michael had been watching him, turned his emotions into a silent, hammering feeling of guilt.

The silent boy on the other hand, felt guilty also. He hadn't meant to do anything wrong; it was so confusing. Michael sadly got up from the toilet seat with a bowed head and walked towards the door.

"Wait! I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell at you. It's okay if you stay. You just shocked me by sitting there - I didn't expect that."

But the words didn't seem to work. Michael took hold of the door handle and was about to leave as Peter's voice was heard from the other side of the door.

"Hey, is everything alright in there?"

"Yes dad, we're okay, I just dropped the shower gel and it fell on my foot."

"Is Michael with you?"

"Yeah, he's taking a shower now. We'll come downstairs as soon as we're ready."

"Ok boys."

Peter walked away - Michael was still standing at the door ready to leave the room. Ethan came closer, put his hand on the other boy's shoulder whispering that it was okay and that he didn't need to leave because of him.

This finally convinced Michael. Instead of leaving, he slowly turned around and looked up and down the naked boy's body and Ethan followed suit, though he only saw a young lad dressed in short pants and a shirt.

Michael watched his naked opposite examining him. Besides his clothes, there was nothing to see. So he began to undress while looking into Ethan's eyes, though he had no idea why he did it. His socks and shirt were off in a second, followed by his pants after he unzipped them. The last barrier protecting him from being fully exposed, was the thin fabric of his checkered boxers which he slowly shoved down to his ankles before carefully stepping out of them. Both boys were now standing opposite each other in their birthday suits.

The bath room was filled with an awkward silence, and the soft light from the setting sun. The only noises to be heard were the drops falling from the wet boy's body to the cold, tiled floor, and the slow and steady breathing of both youngsters. The outlines of Ethan's body seemed to glow from the sunlight, which back lit the little hairs on his body.

For about a minute only a foot separated them from each other. Ethan didn't know what to do - he felt something he didn't understand. His body signaled excitement, but it was more an unknown feeling inside of his stomach, than in his growing manhood.

It felt strange to just stand there, doing nothing but examining the others body with his eyes; besides that, it was a tempting moment.

Michael had an astonishingly beautiful and remarkably immaculate body. He was so cute with his athletic physic, that one could actually become jealous, even if only about an eleven year old boy. And his wonderful tan, in combination with his fair-sized genitals, were the final brush stroke of a painting that re defined perfection.

The boys looked into each others eyes, breathing in and breathing out. Ethan wanted to raise his hand and touch his opposite's body, just to feel it, to see how soft his skin was, but he was still unable to move.

Michael closed his eyes for some seconds before he walked towards the shower stall, took a towel from the corner rack and approached Ethan from behind. With gentle motions the silent boy began to dry Peter's son. It was more than just drying him; it was an act of respect, an act of admiration and care.

Michael slowly moved the towel from Ethan's shoulders to his neck, down over his chest, tummy and belly button. He steered clear of Ethan's private parts and continued down to his legs making sure, that there was no wet spot left. He even used the towel to dry Ethan's face in a kind way which nobody had ever done before. And the guest seemed to enjoy it as well as Ethan. What a compelling act.

This brought back the wonderful feelings Ethan had just lost after leaving the shower and receiving such a shock - only this time the warm and tender feelings he had experienced while pleasuring himself were combined with the charming emotion of being with someone he liked - naked and exposed.

Michael, with a questioning look, pointed to the tiny scar Ethan had on his forehead .

"It's from an accident. I fell down the stairs when I was younger and hit the handrail with my head. It doesn't hurt anymore."

Michael gently stroked along Ethan's forehead as if he could make the scar go away; his worried expression subsided.

Ethan started to dry his hair as he was handed the towel and almost forgot about his pulsating tool. It had been standing at full attention again, since Michael had started examining him with his eyes.

The guest boy entered the shower cubicle and turned on the hot water, leaving Ethan in the most fascinating moment he had ever experienced.


"Hey boys, how was the shower?" Peter asked.

"Very relaxing dad, really."

"Good. You both seem to get along pretty well huh?"

"Yeah, I guess so."

Ethan grinned and looked over to Michael for approval, which he gave with a shy smile.

"Couldn't be better." Peter said more to himself than to the boys. "You wanna show me the cube thing?"

"Can we do that tomorrow dad? I'm really tired now and could use some sleep."

"What? Can you say that again?"

Ethan laughed because of the expression his father had on his face - full of disbelieve.

"Yes dad, I need some sleep and I guess Michael also."

"Is that true Michael?"

The boy nodded in answer to the question.

"Okay, what can I say, off you go and if you need anything, you know where to find me. Good night you two!"

"Night dad."

Before the boys walked upstairs, Peter gave his son a good night kiss on his forehead. He was still allowed to do that, as long as he didn't kiss his mouth.


"Who took the last coffee?" Frank shouted along the hallway of the Parksville police station. "Why can't they just make a new one if it's empty?"

The police detective didn't drive home as he had said. The case kept him busy all the time and he thought of taking a peek into the computer to search for the name Darren in the missing children database.

After switching on the coffee maker, he returned to his desk and logged into the CPIC, which was short for the Canadian Police Information Center; a database all police stations use to collect and analyze data about any kind of crime. It is also connected with the ViCLAS, the Violent Crime Linkage System, which is used in the US, so he could also search in there for any missing Darrens.

Frank wasn't very good at using computers. He had to search for the right keys on the keyboard, as if he had never used it before - D...A...R...R...E...N; male; age 10 to 12; missing.

Of course he had done the same research for the name Michael Krayne, but the database didn't come up with any helpful results. Usually, if the missing children are reported, there are pictures of them in the system. This way he hoped to find a possible match for the boy they had.

It took about 5 minutes until the search was completed. During that time, Frank got himself a cup of coffee and a doughnut in lieu of the dinner he had left out.

"Okay, so what have we here?" He said to himself, sipping on the hot coffee as he moved closer to the little 14 inch monitor that took as much space on his desk as a modern 40 inch flat screen would have.

The disillusioning result of his search was "No match found".

"Damn it, I hate these shitty computers. MAGGIEEE?"

Maggie was the good soul of the police station and nearly always there. She took care of all the paper work Frank never got done in time, the archive and the shift schedule for the regular police officers.

"What are you doing here again?" She asked with her irresistible smile.

"I couldn't sleep and....listen, this boy....we have a new name and I wanted to search for it in the database, but I am useless to this thing. Do you know how to use it?"

"Of course I do."

"And? Will you help me?"

"Sure, you just give me all the information you have, and I will get you the results by tomorrow morning, deal?"

"Why tomorrow?"

"Cos it takes time," She looked at the search string that Frank had used, "and you can't just use any combination of words and hope for the best - you have to use the correct formatting for the search. I'll do that for you, and you can go home and take a rest!"

Frank sighed deeply and didn't see any other choice but to follow her motherly advice.

"Okay, deal! Thanks Maggie - but you must also get some sleep, sweetheart!"

It took only a few minutes for the detective to write down all the information Maggie would be likely to need for the database search. He handed the paper to his affable assistant.

"If you find anything..."

"I know. Night Frank!"

Both smiled at each other as Frank emptied his coffee, took his jacket from the chair and left.


"Can I leave the window open?" Ethan asked.

His roommate answered with a nodding.

"If you need anything or if anything happens, wake me up! Okay Michael?"

Another nod.

Both boys took off their shirts - it was still warm in the house and the fresh breeze from outside felt wonderful on their bare skin. In only their boxers, the two boys climbed into their beds and covered themselves with the thin woolen blankets.

Ethan switched off the light and turned onto his left side. It had always been the left side he would lie on for the first couple of minutes after he went to bed. This way he was able to look out of the window, watch the stars, or the play of shadows within his room as his eyes got used to the darkness. As a little kid, Ethan had been afraid of the dark and had never been able to sleep without light; nowadays he liked it and enjoyed the view for a few minutes before he turned around and finally fell asleep.

Michael, on the other side of the room, lay on his back with eyes wide open. The large TV next to his mattress seemed to hover above him; it was a little frightening and the boy stared at the red, softly pulsating LED light that signaled standby mode.

It took some time until Michael fell asleep. He was afraid of the bad dreams coming back and therefore he lay awake for a long time, even though he had agreed to being tired earlier. But Ethan had said that he needed some sleep and, not wanting to inconvenience his new friend, he had followed suit. Peter and his son had really been nice to Michael and he didn't want to be more of a burden than he already was. Besides that, he really liked Ethan and wanted to be close to him. If he only knew what was waiting for him tomorrow; the same question every night.

Half an hour later both boys were sleeping and breathing in a slow and steady rhythm. Peter had checked on them before he had gone to bed for himself. It had been a long day and he looked forward to a good nights sleep.


The stars were slowly moving in the dark and cloudless sky as Michael woke up in the middle of the night. He didn't know if he had been dreaming, but it was hot and damp under the blanket so he pushed it away. In only seconds the sweat on his body and in the bed turned cold from the night breeze that came through the open window. "No, not again." Michael thought to himself, as he realized that the dreams were back. The sweat soaked bed was proof enough of that. He had been having the same nightmare for nearly two years now. It had changed a bit since the accident happened; the dream was faster and it crashed around inside of his head - He would awaken gasping for breath, his heart pounding in his chest as if he had just run the half mile.

Michael got up from the mattress and tried to orient in the darkness. He walked to the window, which was on the other side of the room next to the bed in which Ethan was sleeping soundly and contentedly.

As the boy looked up into the dark night, the stars sparkled in silent blackness. Michael leaned against the windowsill and thought about his mom. He missed her. He missed her so much that it could not be explained with words, and sadness filled his vulnerable soul.

Michael remembered the warm and tender touch on his tummy where she used to stroke him when he had a bad dream; the smooth, sweet scent of her hair and body when he sat on her lap with his head resting against her soft breast; the kiss of her beautiful lips on his forehead, her fingers stroking through his thin dark brown hair and the melodic voice that would calm him when he was too excited because the L.A. Dodgers had won a game.

From all these thoughts, Michael felt a pressure in his chest which crept up his body. It wandered up to his face producing a warm tension on his forehead which forced the tears from his eyes. They ran slowly down his cheeks to fall silently to the floor. He felt so lost, so lonely, so afraid. He wanted his mother desperately.

"Mummmyyy, where are you, I miss you so much. Please come back to me. I'll be a good boy." Michael silently prayed to himself as he exhaled and wiped away the wet trails which the tears had left on his cheeks.

The boy turned around and looked at Ethan who was still facing the wall. Michael wasn't able to return to his bed and sleep alone. He raised the blanket which covered Ethan and, as careful as possible, crawled in next to him. Their bare legs touched slightly as he arranged himself close to his roommate's warm, soft body without waking him up.

Though Michael still felt lonely and home sick, he did feel a little bit better from being close to Ethan, he closed his eyes and fell asleep again after only a few minutes.


Some time later, Peter's son woke up also; something was different. Still being half asleep, he turned around and noticed the warm and cuddly body of his dad. Putting one arm over his chest and throwing one leg across his dad's, he felt comfortable again and had nearly returned to his sweet dreams again when he realized that his father's skin was softer and more silky tonight, and he was much smaller than usual.

"Wait, what's going on here? I'm not in dad's bed." He thought to himself as he came fully awake to finding Michael sleeping in the same bed with him.

"Heyyyy," he whispered "what are you doing in here?"

Michael didn't react, snoring weakly.

"Awww forget it." Ethan said and left the bed slowly walking over to the sleeping room of his father, where he buried himself under the blanket and cuddled up against Peter. Without waking up, the father put an arm around his cub and pulled him in.

It was the usual business for both of them, only that now a third person was involved who still didn't want to be on his own. And it was only a matter of time until Michael would wake up and find himself in Ethan's bed, alone.

Half an hour later it happened and in the following moments, Peter's blanket was raised a second time this night and Michael crawled into the bed, where the two Bennet's where enjoying the night together. Michael noticed Ethan lying on Peter's right side, and so took the other side snuggling up to his temporary surrogate father.

It was a good feeling for him, just as if he was at home with his parents. The man, as usual and without waking up, also put an arm around the other boy and pulled him in. The boy's arms touched each other on Peter's chest as they became entangled; they all felt comfortable being together in one bed, though Ethan and Peter didn't fully recognize what had just happened. But Michael didn't feel lonely and cold anymore. And so, the trio continued to sleep on in happiness; for the rest of this night, no one left any bed anymore.


The morning was quiet and full of harmony. Only the birds were going crazy outside and now and then, a car passed the Bennet's house with a weak, grumbling noise.

Peter opened his eyes and sighed deeply finding Ethan and Michael in his bed; each on one side, snuggled up to him like a couple of pups. They felt like little heaters with their warm, nearly hairless bodies, as boys are - warm and tender.

Without thinking about it, he gently stroked along their bare backs. He wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the two little ones just by the feeling. And again, after being fully conscious, the part of his mind which was the social worker thought that this wasn't right. But the part of his mind that was a father realized that this was just what they both needed. Ethan, still being a little boy when it came to sleeping alone, and Michael, with all the loss he had recently experienced, needed someone to be close to. So he dropped the bad feelings about the situation and just enjoyed it for the moment - there was no one there to judge him anyway.

"Hey you two," he whispered to softly wake them up "I'll go downstairs now and prepare breakfast."

"Nooo, stay! Just for a few more minutes!" Ethan mumbled.

Peter kissed his forehead, peeled both boys off his body and covered them up with the large blanket before he left the room. It was early - 6:20am - once more he was able to read the newspaper and think about the situation he was in before the bustle of a busy day took his mind elsewhere.


Nothing was heard from above while he prepared breakfast. He tried to make it as wonderful as yesterday when Ethan had nearly jumped out of his suit from what he saw on the kitchen counter.

"Okidoke, milk hot, coffee ready, eggs ready, plates, cutlery, cups, fruits, sandwiches....all in place." Peter said to himself. He had hoped that the boys would have been downstairs by now. Actually he had made some extra loud noises so they would wake up and hear the sound of the imminent feeding; alas, without success.

So he needed to go up and get them.

Opening the door to his sleeping room, Peter saw a wonderful warm and heart-melting picture. Ethan was lying on his back with his mouth wide open and one leg sticking out below the blanket. Michael's head was resting on his son's chest, which slowly rose and fell with his breathing. Both had one arm around the other and seemed to happily enjoy the company.

Peter smiled and didn't want to wake them up, but it was a normal week day and school was waiting for Ethan, as did more questions for Michael. So he had to do what needed to be done.

"Hey you sleepy heads, wake up." The grown-up whispered as he sat down next to the sweet couple and stroked along his son's cheek.

Ethan hadn't noticed that Michael's head was resting on his chest and softly pushed it away to grab his father and pull him in on him.

"Morning dad."

"Morning son," Michael slowly opened his eyes and looked at them "and good morning to you, sleepwalker. Breakfast's ready so I would love it if you would get up and join me in the kitchen."

"Yeah, just a few more minutes dad, okay?"

"Okay, but please be downstairs by 7 got it? That's more than five minutes."

"K dad."

Ethan turned around and faced Michael, who now lay on his front - their legs touched once again. The light from the rising sun pierced through the slits of the venetian blinds

and highlighted the little golden hair which Michael had in the center of his neck and back.

It was an irresistible and charming image that Ethan had seen many times before on Matthew's body. He had never dared to touch it, even though his best friend always slept longer than himself, but with Michael it was different. The silent boy had touched him lots of times in a wonderful and friendly way during the last day. And it had been a sensational feeling; there was no shame, no guilt, no oddness.

So Ethan dared to stick out one finger and let it slowly touch Michael's compelling little hair and the tempting silky back that it grew from. It felt good, a little bit like a marshmallow before it was grilled; sweet and soft.

Michael opened his eyes again and looked at Ethan. He didn't make any attempt to complain about the touch of Ethan's finger.

"What have you been doing in my bed, last night? Did you feel lonely?"

Michael nodded, put on a contented smile and closed his eyes to enjoy the tickling touch of Ethan's finger wandering around on his back.

"I know how that feels, and don't like it either. That's why I usually change into my dad's bed during the night. Whatever, we better get up now, breakfast's ready and I'm hungry!"

Both boys jumped out of the bed and hurried down stairs, pulling their shirts on as they went. They each took a seat at the kitchen counter and grabbed a cup of hot chocolate.

While Michael and Ethan nibbled on their cheese sandwich the door bell rang with its annoying clatter - it was Frank.

He was warmly welcomed with a hot coffee pot, as if Peter had known that it was him. Who else would visit them that early in the morning. Both men stood in the open hallway which allowed a view into the kitchen, where the boys satisfied their hunger.

"Looks like a happy little family here."

"Yeah, they're sweet and we all had a quiet night. Did you sleep well?"

"I did after Maggie send me home."

"Did you spend your evening in the office again yesterday?"

"Yeah, wanted to try and search in the database for any missing Darrens."

When Frank said the name Darren, Michael reacted immediately, turning around to looking at them. Peter wasn't able to see it since he was standing with his back towards the kitchen.

"Did you see that?" Frank asked excited.

"See what?"

"The boy," he whispered "he responded to me saying the name. So much for him only reacting to the woman's voice."

"Really?" Peter asked in disbelief turning around watching the boys.

"Yes, I'm telling you. Did you ask him about the name?"

"No I didn't. I only just found out that he actually spoke before the incident and that he had deliberately decided not to speak at the moment."

"Ok, that doesn't help me at all. I'll drive over to the police station and see what Maggie found out. You had better check to see if his name is really Darren."

"I will. Frank, is it possible that you could stay for a couple of minutes and drive Ethan to school?"

"Sure, no problem."

"Okay great, I'll call Vivian and ask if Matthew's ready, he'll join if that's alright with you."

"One or two, it doesn't make any difference."

Peter sent Ethan upstairs to get ready for school and fetch his things. Afterwards he called the neighbors and got a negative answer from Vivian - for whatever reason Matthew didn't want to drive with them.

Five minutes later, Ethan was ready to go.

"Ethan, did anything happen between you and Matt?" Peter asked.

"No, I don't think so, but yesterday he acted like a jerk when he met Michael and me. He picked on him, so I had to send him away."

"Are you angry with him?"

"No, I'm not."

"Well, in that case it would probably be a good idea if you talk to him and explained why you spoke to him as you did. I mean, it was brave of you and I appreciate that you kept your promise, but you shouldn't jeopardize your friendship. Okay?"

"Okay dad, see you later. Love you. BYE MICHAEL!"

Michael turned around and waved back.

"Love you too son."


Peter sat down on the couch next to the silent boy after they had agreed to continue the interview.

"Okay Michael, did you ever hear the name Darren before?"

The boy nodded, holding his notebook and the precious pen he had been given, in his hands.

"Is it possible that your name is not Michael?"

He shrugged his shoulders; and repeated the gesture when asked how long he had been called Michael, and if his surname was Krayne.

"Let's say, just for an experiment, your name is Darren. Would you be able to remember your surname?"

The boy shook his head.

"But the name Darren does something inside of you, right?"

Michael nodded and felt uncomfortable with all these questions. His heart was beating faster and all the unknowing scared him.

"Okay. Imagine you were in school and you were distracted by another boy in your class. Your teacher caught you and is just about to tell you off. Can you imagine that?"

A simple nodding made Peter continue.

"Good. Close your eyes and listen to me.....Just at the moment, the teacher caught you, she would call out your full name to get your attention. I'm going to do that now, so don't get terrified." Peter took a deep breath. "DARREN.....!"

Michael cringed and opened his eyes again. Peter gave him a minute to sort out what was going on in his head.

"Did you hear the surname he or she was calling?"

Unfortunately the answer was no.

"Okay, that's absolutely alright, Michael. Stay calm! One more question and than we're done for now."

Peter was getting suspicious with the entire story and by the strange behavior of his ward so thought he would go one step farther.

"Do you remember when you last saw your mother? Was it several days ago?"

Michael shook his head once before he put his hands to his face and burst into tears. This was all too much for the little guy and it scared him very much; he couldn't take it anymore.

Peter pulled the boy close and tried to sooth the little strained bundle he had his arms around.

"I know Michael. This is all very confusing, but there's no need to be scared. I'm going to protect you, I promise."

Some things were clear now. The people he had been with, were not his parents and his surname wasn't Krayne. His forename was possibly not Michael. But was it Darren? And if so, what's his real family name, where are his real parents and why had he been traveling with those people who had obviously been using falsified names?

All this had to be revealed - hopefully Frank would call him soon with some good news!

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