What a difference a day makes

by c m

Chapter 3

We've been back at school a week - and there's been no reason or opportunity for me to come out to anyone so far. Then the inevitable happens, and my wank-buddy Mark catches up with me as we walk up after the end of a rugby practice and suggests a get-together later on.

'Sure,' I say, 'I need to talk with you anyway. Usual place at 9?'

'Can't wait,' says Mark, and then he claps me on the shoulder before running off to catch up with his friends.

The 'usual place' is one of the music rooms. Between 9 and 10 every evening, we're free to do what we want - and some of the boys use the time to practice their instruments. Mark plays the flute and he's also the head of the woodwind section of the school orchestra. This gives him privileged access to one of the rooms in which instruments are stored and which is, crucially, lockable. The music staff also have keys, but none of them lives on the school grounds and so after about 5.30 are all back in their homes - unless there's an orchestra practice which happens once a week. Tonight is not that night.

A few minutes after 9, I'm outside the door to the music room. I tap on it and Mark opens it. A couple of the other rooms have boys practising in them, but they're focusing on what they're doing. Mark locks the door behind us.

'Fuck I'm horny, Toby. Who goes first?'

He's already trying to scrabble with my belt. I take hold of his hands.

'Mark, there's something I need to tell you. I'm gay...'

He just looks at me, and before I can continue says,

'I should have thought that that would make you keener to do this, not less.'

'Yes. But...I also have a boyfriend. I can't do this with you any more.'

'A boyfriend? Wow. So when did all this happen?'

I tell him the story. At the end of it all he says is,

'I wish I'd known.'

'Known what?'

'That you were gay, Toby.'

'Why?'

'Because....because...look, you know what the rules are between wank buddies. No affection. No love. No feelings. Just a release. But Toby, I've had feelings...huge feelings...for you right from the start. This has never been 'just a release' for me. God, every time I have a wank, it's you I'm thinking about. I'm sorry. I never thought you might be the same. That you might be gay. Maybe we could have been so much more. But now, now that I know, it's too late. You have a boyfriend.'

To say that this is unexpected is an understatement. It's also a bit awkward. Because while Mark is a nice guy and perfectly pleasant-looking, I don't feel attracted to him; and I certainly don't feel anything like the raw, animal lust that I feel for Ben. But...has it ever been more than just a release for me? If I'm honest, maybe it has. Taking hold of him has definitely been as big a part of the thrill as being jacked off. I need to be nice to him. I want to be nice to him.

'I'm sorry, too, Mark. But I'm sure you'll find someone. How would you feel about coming out? '

'Scared. Terrified. What about you? I mean, I know you've told me, but are you going to be out - really out.'

I take a deep breath.

'Yes, Mark, I am. You're the first, but I'm going to tell all my friends. I'm fed up with hiding it, and I'm proud of my boyfriend.'

'Wow. I really don't think I could do that. But good luck.'

He stares at the floor. I put a hand on his shoulder. It's probably the first affectionate thing either of us has done to the other in the two years we've been jacking each other off. He looks up at me.

'I don't suppose...that is...would one final time be out of the question? For old times' sake? A parting gift?'

I think about Ben. What would he say. What would he do. I think I know.

'OK. One last time.'

Mark asks if he can do me first. It's the least I can do for him; it's always better to come second because you are still horny as hell; when you've already come, it just takes the edge of the intensity and the pleasure.

He unbuckles my belt, pops the stud on my waistband, and unzips me. My trousers fall to the floor. My briefs follow and then he takes hold of me and kneels down. For one moment, I wonder if he's going to try and suck me, but all he does is move his face close to my cock. I can feel his breath on it. He even rubs it against his face. He strokes me with a practised, yet gentle, touch. As I'm about to climax, I get ready to grab my handkerchief, but before I can do so, Mark takes his own handkerchief from his pocket and wraps it around the head of my cock. I soak it with my seed.

Mark has already dropped his trousers and shorts to the floor. He is uncircumcised like me. His cock is a little bigger than mine. He's erect. I take hold of it, and move my hand slowly up and down. He asks me to go a little faster. I try to give him as much pleasure as I can. And then he's cumming - into the same handkerchief he used on me.

And that's it. All over. But what's strange is that we realise that every other time we have ever done this together - and that's a lot - our touching has been urgent, vigorous, unrefined and fast. But this wasn't any of those things. For the first time we have taken our time with each other. For the first time we have been gentle. And for the first time we were thinking of each other's pleasure rather than our own. It has truly been a good 'last time'.

'Thank you, Toby. That meant a lot. And...well...if for any reason, you know...you change your mind...or things don't work out...then... well...'

'Sure, Mark,' I say, 'and thank you too - it's been fun.'


That evening I call Ben. I tell him everything that has happened. I get as far as the part where Mark asked if we could do it one last time, but before I can tell him what I said and did, he says,

'I really, really hope you said 'yes', Toby'.

I am overwhelmed. And so happy.

'Ben, I asked myself what you would say and do…'

'And?' says Ben.

'I said 'yes'. I hope you don't mind. It just seemed …right. Not for me but for him.'

'Of course it was right, Toby. He's gay. Maybe this will be the spur he needs to admit it. I would have done the same. Don't you dare feel guilty.'

'But I do Ben. A little. I understand what you say but…but…part of me said 'yes' not because it was the right thing to do, but because I was horny as hell.'

Ben laughs.

'Of course you are. But you did this to reset the dial. I can live with that. It's not like he'd never had you before, is it? It wasn't something new, was it? It was an end not a beginning. When you start something new, there have to be ends to what went before. It's the same with me and Abe. And if closing off what you used to do with Mark needed a final hurrah, well….that's just fine by me.'

I can't help it but I'm tearful. I love Ben more than I can say. And this is typical of him.

'I love you, Ben. I love you so much. Thank you.'

'Hey…you mean the world to me, Toby. And I'm so proud of you. And...any idea when we might be able to meet up yet?'

'I've got the school calendar here for this term; I can probably get a pass out not this coming weekend but for the following Saturday afternoon, and then the weekend after that is what we call a 'long break'; I can leave after lunch on Saturday and don't have to be back until 9pm Sunday.'

'Woohoo. Cool. I could cycle over for that Saturday afternoon and I'll see if mum or dad could pick you up for the long break - if you want to.'

'Of course I want to..and thank you. And can't wait to see you Saturday week. I'll need to get permission from my housemaster to go offsite with someone who isn't a relative on the Saturday, and I'll get my parents to send a note okaying the overnighter.'

'Sounds perfect, Toby. God I'm so hungry for you. Still, at least it must be improving my wrist strength.'

He giggles.

'Yeah - same here,' I say.

'OK...night for now gorgeous. See you soon.'

'Night Ben. Love you.'

'Love you too.'

He blows me a kiss.


The next day, I'm working on an assignment with Pete, one of my best friends. We're on our own, and we're talking about the summer holidays, where we went, who we met...the usual stuff.

'Anything interesting happen?' asks Pete.

I take a deep breath.

'Well, I guess that depends on whether you think coming out is interesting.'

'Coming out? Who did?'

'Me, Pete. Me. Umm…look…I'm gay. And I met this guy...and...well, I'm out.'

'You? Well, bloody hell. You met a guy?'

'Yep. Ben.'

'Fuck me. You sure?'

'Yes. Completely sure.'

'Fuck. I'd never have known. Gay. Blimey.'

'You...OK with it?'

'OK? Err...yeah, of course. No problem. Just a surprise, that's all.'

He looks bemused.

'And this guy...Ben?'

I nod.

'You and he...?'

'We're boyfriends if that's what you're asking.'

'Fuck. My best friend's gay. How come I never saw that?'

'Because I've done my best to hide it. And being gay is just a type of...love. And I don't love you - well I do, but not in that way. So why would you see it?'

'Err, right. I see. And thanks for that. Wow. Does anyone else know?'

'My folks. And my friend Mark. And Mark Holloway. And now you.'

'You told Mark Holloway? Why?'

'Umm...he and I are...were…wank-buddies. Didn't you know that?'

Pete shakes his head.

'You must be the only one who doesn't...anyway...he wanted to, you know, do what we do yesterday and I when I said 'no' he wanted to k now why and so...I told him.'

'You and Holloway? I'm beginning to think I don't know you at all. You planning on telling anyone else?'

'I don't want it to be a secret.'

He looks at me. And then he just comes and hugs me.

'I tell you this, Toby Miller, you've got more guts than I've given you credit for. And if being gay is what you are and you're happy about it, then I'm happy about it too.'

Then his eyes widen.

'Have you ANY idea how cool it is to have a gay friend?'

'Umm, Pete, making you look cool isn't the principal thing going on here....'

'What? Oh no, of course not, but... wow. Can I tell people you're gay?'

'I'd rather do that myself if that's OK. Give me a few days at least.'

'Oh. Yeah. Sorry. Of course.'

This is Pete all over. He's like a labrador; a bouncy bundle of energy. He tends to speak first and think second - which isn't quite what I need right now. But on the upside, he's very popular - not to mention built like a brick shithouse. So if he's OK with it, others will be too - and anyone who isn't will have Pete to answer to. I reckon it's a fair exchange.

That night in the dorm which I share with seven other boys, I take the next step. The dorm head is Martin. As a lower 6th Former, I'm his deputy. He's in the year above me but he gets on well with my brother Paul. The other six are a mixture of fourth and fifth formers. The new boys (the third formers) are in two dorms of their own. First, I tell Martin.

'Really?' he says. 'Your bro knows already, right?'

'Yes. I came out to the family a few weeks ago.'

'And he's cool with it?'

'Yes. Very cool with it.'

'Fair enough. Not my thing. In fact I think it's weird. Don't get me wrong, I'm not judging you; I guess you are what you are and I kind of admire you for coming out - and, hey, if Paul's OK with it, then why wouldn't I be? You telling everyone?'

'I thought I ought to tell the other guys in the dorm.'

'Fair enough. Gonna do it now?'

'I thought so.'

'OK. And look - whatever I may think, I'm not going to put up with anyone saying or doing anything anti-gay. Not that I think they will. Live and let live so far as I'm concerned.'

'Thanks, Martin. I appreciate that.'

We both walk into the dorm and I say,

'Guys, I have something to tell you. Some people already know so it's not going to stay a secret much longer, and I don't want it to be a secret anyway. I hope it won't make any difference to you, but I came out to my family over the holidays. I'm gay and I have a boyfriend - no-one here at school, don't worry. That's it. Just thought you should know.'

I see a couple of the boys look at each other. I guess it is a bit of a surprise. One of the fifth-formers, Robertson, looks up at me and says,

'Just don't try anything on with me.'

'Robertson,' I say, 'I wouldn't touch you with a ten-foot bargepole; first because you're ugly, second because I'd probably catch something and third because I have a boyfriend already.'

The other boys laugh. Robertson just turns away. And that's that. And I reckon it will also ensure that the whole house will know by the end of tomorrow, and the whole school about a day after that. Which is pretty much what happens. Two other things of interest also happen. First, my housemaster, Mr. Grimes, asks me to go and see him. I knock on his door.

'Ah, Toby, come in. Shut the door and have a seat.'

I close the door behind me and sit in one of the comfortable, somewhat battered, leather armchairs that face his desk.

'I understand that you've come out as gay, Toby. Your sexuality is none of my concern, although I congratulate you on being open about it and for taking what is still, even these days, a brave decision in an environment like this. I just want you to know that I will not stand for any prejudice or bullying as a result. I hope it won't occur, but if it does, you are to tell me and I will deal with it. '

'Thank you, sir. But I have good friends - and my brother - who feel the same and I'm sure we can deal with any prejudice.'

'You're not to take the law into your own hands, Toby.'

'Oh no sir, I didn't mean that. Of course not. Just that there'll be enough people who are clearly OK with it to make others think twice.'

'Very good.'

And that's that.

The second thing is that one of the other boys in my dorm, Chris Marshall, comes up to me a few days later and asks if he can have a talk with me. He's a fifth-former; quite handsome and a good sportsman. Bright too by all accounts. I don't have much to do with boys in other years, but what I know of him, I like.

'Sure. When? What's it about?'

'Umm...is now good?...and...it's about...what you said the other night. About being gay.'

I'm not doing anything particular right now.

'Sure. Want to talk and walk or go and talk somewhere?'

'Maybe we could go somewhere? I'm not sure it would do your reputation - or mine - much good if we're seen walking off together alone.'

'And is it my reputation or yours you're really worried about?'

'Well, that's it. That's sort of what I wanted to talk about.'

It's a pleasant afternoon, so we walk over to a bench on the far side of front quad. We're alone but in plain sight. We sit beside each other.

'Look, Miller,...'

'Why don't you call me Toby.'

'Err, Ok, thanks...Toby.'

He goes quiet.

'How can I help?'

'Look...how did you go about...coming out?'

'Is this an academic question or...personal?'

He looks up at me.

'It's...personal.'

His voice is little more than a whisper.

'You...?' I ask.

He nods.

'Yes...me. I'm gay too, Toby but I can't tell anyone. Hearing you just come out and say what you said, well, ...I sort of want to do the same. But...I don't know how. What made you decide to do it?'

'Meeting the right guy, I suppose. I want to be able to see him and have him round for sleep-overs without having to pretend in front of my parents, and walk hand in hand with him and be seen in public with him - and I realised that I couldn't do any of that if I wasn't out. And Ben - that's my boyfriend - helped me to see that. Without him I don't think I'd have done it. You need someone...on your side.'

'But was it hard to do, even so?'

'I had to screw up my courage to tell my parents, but...once I'd decided, no, it wasn't difficult because the alternative was worse.'

'And your parents were OK with it?'

'Yes. I think they half suspected. I bet your parents will be the same, Chris. I know you read all these horror stories but, well, I think most parents love their children and just want what's best for them. Ben told his parents when he was thirteen. All they said - apart from the fact that they loved him just the same - was to 'play safe'.'

I grin, and Chris grins back.

'I think telling your parents is the first step. You don't have to tell anyone else until you're ready. I chose to tell my bro, too. Well, that's not strictly true, but he found out and he was OK with it too. And then I told my best friend at home. He was completely not surprised and virtually said he'd always assumed I was. So maybe I've been lucky, but actually I think it's only a very few who are unlucky. Do your parents have strong views about being gay?'

'No, I don't think so. I know they approved of gay civil partnerships when they were being discussed.'

'I reckon that's a good sign. You have brothers or sisters?'

'A sister. We get on really well. She'll be fine with it - except maybe it means I won't be introducing her to any boys she can go out with. But why did you decide to come out at school? I get that you needed to at home, but here...is different.'

'I don't like pretending, Chris. And look...if I hadn't come out, we wouldn't be having this conversation, would we?'

He smiles.

'If coming out can help other guys - guys like you - then that's a good thing too. Look Chris, while I can't be the boy you need to find who maybe gives you the spur to come out, I can and will be there to support you if and when you do. And maybe, for you, it will take coming out to enable you to find that boy. You have lots going for you; you're a good sportsman and you must be bright to be in the 'A' set in your year, so other boys respect you. And you're pretty good looking.'

He smiles again.

'At the end of the day, Chris, you could just wait and see how things go for me. Let me be a test - if that helps.'

'You've been very helpful, Toby. Thank you. Lots for me to think about. And...I'm still in awe of you just coming out like you did. And thanks for spending time with a mixed-up fifth year - not many sixth formers would do that.'

'You're not mixed up, Chris. You know what you are. And you know what you want. That's not mixed up, that's just a little scared. Maybe a lot scared. And that's just normal. I was scared too. But it turned out just fine. Just...take your time. There's no rush. You'll be fine.'

I give his hand a quick squeeze. He looks into my eyes and nods.

'Thanks again, Toby.'

Then he gets up and walks away.


And that's about it. I notice one or two boys keeping their distance. One or two move away from me in the changing room - and one or two move closer. If anything, I have acquired respect rather than lost it. I'm pleasantly surprised. I have two slightly unpleasant notes left in my desk and my locker, but I just ignore them. I'm pretty sure I know who the author of one of them is. Apparently I am going to be consumed by the fires of hell for all eternity. Maybe I am. I'll take my chances on that. No idea who the other is from and I have no desire to find out.

Pete, meanwhile, just wants to know when he's going to meet Ben.

And the answer is 'soon'. Today is Friday and tomorrow Ben is cycling over. I've got permission to go into Reading with him if I want, but I have other plans. I've asked Pete if I can borrow his bike (in exchange for meeting Ben) and that's all fine. He and I will go for a ride and something to eat, and then I want to bring him back to school. I'll introduce him to Pete and then he and I will need some privacy. And I know just where to get it.

Paul has his own study bedsit. I've asked if I can use it. With Ben. I remind him he owes me one. Paul just smiles - and says yes, on condition we don't leave traces of cum, lube or condoms anywhere. I tell him we don't use condoms - and that penetration won't be on the agenda anyway. He just covers his ears. The really good part is that Paul has one of the only two studies that are located in the dorm building. And the other is empty and being redecorated. So the chances of being disturbed are tiny. Of course technically what we'll be doing is illegal. No-one is allowed onto school premises without permission unless they are students, staff or parents. That's another chance I'm prepared to take.

When school finishes at 1 o'clock on Saturday morning, Ben is already there and waiting at the gates. I give him a kiss. One or two boys wolf-whistle but who cares. I go and change into the jeans and casual shirt that as a sixth former I am now allowed to wear out of school, and then we go down to the bike sheds. Pete is waiting there.

'Pete, this is Ben, Ben this is Pete, my best friend here at school.'

'Pleased to meet you, Pete,' says Ben, holding out a hand.

It disappears into the huge paw that passes for Pete's hand.

'So pleased to meet you, Ben. So we have something in common...we're both dumb enough to have this idiot as a friend.'

Ben smiles.

'Well, I try to think of it as community care. Someone has to do it.'

Pete grins.

'True, true. Tough, but necessary.'

'Excuse me', I say, 'I am here, you know.'

They ignore me.

'Toby's told me all about you. How you met and everything. A really quick romance.'

'Yes, well. I'm not proud of it, but he has got puppy-dog eyes and well, I suppose I just felt sorry for him.'

'I can understand that. But he kind of grows on you...like a tumour.'

By now Pete and Ben are both laughing.

'Bloody charming,' I say.

'OK. Look, nice to meet you Ben - I hope I'll see more of you. Will you be back later?'

'Yes,' I interrupt. 'We'll be back later, but we'll....be in need of some privacy.'

As it sinks in, Pete's eyes widen.

'Oh...OOHH...you mean you two will be...'

'Yes, that's exactly what I mean, and before you ask, no, you can't watch.'

'I wasn't going to say that...but now you mention it...'

'NO!'

'Ok. Well...hope to see you another time, Ben.'

They shake hands, and then Pete gives me the key to his bike lock before heading back towards the main school building. He turns and gives us a wave. We wave back.

'He's nice; I like him,' says Ben.

'Pete's a good guy. No genius - although he's far from dim - and without much imagination, but a very good friend. And he's genuinely pleased for us, Ben. And he couldn't care less about me - or anyone else - being gay.'

'Right then, what's the plan?'

'The plan is for us to cycle to the local shop, pick up some sandwiches and a couple of cokes and then head somewhere quiet to eat them and spend some time together . Then, a bit later, head back here. I've arranged to borrow Paul's room for the afternoon so that we can...well...do whatever takes our fancy.'

'Nice plan, Mr. Miller.'

'I try to please, Mr. Meredith.'

'And Paul's OK with this?'

'Yes...well..remember, he owes me one.'

'Excellent.'

'Just one thing, theoretically you shouldn't be on school premises without permission, but nobody will know.'

'If you're OK with that then so am I. And we won't be...disturbed?'

'Extremely unlikely. Paul's study is in a place on its own.'

'Let's go get those sandwiches...I'm already wanting to be in that study.'

I put my hand between his legs. I can feel that he's hard.

'Ooh...well fancy that...'

'I bet you're just the same.'

'I couldn't possibly comment.'

We make our way out through the back entrance to the school, and follow the road down to the nearby village. We pick up sandwiches from the general store - egg for Ben and cheese and pickle for me - along with some cans of cold drink from the chiller. We also pick up a couple of bananas.

There are some local woods about two miles away with a picnic area and a circular walk that takes you round a small lake, and that's where I lead Ben. We park the bikes and lock them up and take our food over to one of the tables. We sit on opposite benches so that we can look at each other - and press our knees against one another too.

I ask Ben how things have been going with Abe.

'Fine. He hasn't mentioned anything about having a little fling with Paul, but he probably thinks we know nothing about that. He's been very kind and attentive, actually - almost like the early days of our friendship. It's like...he's trying to make up for lost time, or recreate what we had.'

He can see, or maybe even feel, me tense. He puts his hand on my knee and gives it a squeeze.

'Don't worry, Toby. Why would I want him when I have you?'

I nod. I know I'm being stupid. But I can't help that weight I feel in my stomach again.

'Hey...let's finish the food and get back to Paul's study...then I can show you just how much it's you that I want.'

He smiles - and the prospect of what's to come lightens my mood. He gets up, comes round the table to where I'm sitting and puts his arms round my shoulders. I feel his breath on my neck and then he's kissing me.

'I love you with all my heart, Toby and I want you like crazy.'

We cycle back to the school. It's mid-afternoon and there's hardly anyone around. I put Pete's bike back in the shed and lock it up, and lock Ben's bike to it for safety. Then we head off towards Paul's study. As we get to the dorm area, Mr. Grimes, my housemaster appears. Shit. I think quickly.

'Hello, sir, this is Ben, a friend I met on holiday. We were just going to see Paul - I hope that's OK.'

'You should really ask before bringing anyone onto school property, but if you're going to see Paul, that's fine, Toby.'

He looks at Ben.

'If I'm not being indiscreet, is this...?'

'Yessir. Ben is my boyfriend.'

Mr. Grimes holds out a hand.

'Pleased to meet you, Ben. Toby is a fine young man. I hope everything goes well for you.'

'Pleased to meet you too, sir. And thank you.'

Mr. Grimes smiles.

'Enjoy your afternoon.'

As he walks away, Ben says to me,

'Do you think he knows...you know...what we're planning on...how we're going to be spending...'

'I don't know, Ben. Maybe he suspects...but if he does, I kind of got the feeling he's OK with it.'

When we reach Paul's room, I tap on the door and go in. Paul looks up from his desk.

'Oh hi you two. Come in. Nice to see you, Ben. Right. I'll leave you to it. When will it be safe to return?'

'Could you let us have an hour? A bit more?'

'I'll keep out of the way for a couple of hours. Just...tidy up...afterwards, OK?'

'Thanks, Paul.'

'No worries. '

Once he's gone we put a chair under the door handle - not that that will help much. If anyone catches us, God alone knows what will happen, but at least it will mean that we can get decent before we have to face whoever it is. I draw the curtain across the window too. It only looks out onto a scrubby patch of untended garden, but better safe than sorry. I lay the towel I've brought with me on the bed just in case.

If we were sensible, we'd just drop our trousers and enjoy each other with a minimum of risk. But I want to touch Ben. I want to hold him. I want to run my hands over his warm, silky skin. I want to enjoy his nakedness. And he wants the same. So we strip. Everything. Then our lips are locked together and we tumble onto the bed. We make love furiously the first time and then again more slowly. The third time is deliciously slow and relaxed. I love the feel of him; the smell of him; the taste of him. The final part consists of just lying there, running our hands over each other, kissing and cuddling. I look at the clock. We've been nearly an hour and a half.

'Time to get dressed, Ben.'

'Must we?'

'Mmhmm. Paul will be back any moment. And next weekend we can do things really properly. I'll be with you in your bed all night.'

'...and all day if I have anything to do with it.'

I get up and pull on my briefs. I find Ben's and throw them to him. Soon, we are fully reclothed. I check for signs of what we've been doing, but I'm pretty sure that the only place anyone will find any bodily fluids is in either my or Ben's stomach. We straighten out the bedding and I roll the towel back up. We take the chair away from the door handle and I open the window. We're safe. There's no sign of Paul yet, so I offer to make Ben a coffee. It's as I'm rootling around trying to find a spare mug that I notice the little red light on Paul's webcam blinking. I open up the cover and open the webcam. It's pointing at the bed. I call Ben over.

'Ummm, I suppose this could be an accident, but I think we may just have unwittingly made a porno for Paul.'

'We what?!'

'Look.'

Ben turns the cam off and hunts for the file it's been recording. Sure enough, 'bandt' as it's called - presumably for b(en)andt(oby) - has everything from when we first entered Paul's study . The focus is a bit hit and miss, and there are sections where we're neither of us fully in the picture, but there's plenty that is there. If watching two sixteen year olds suck each other off is your thing, then this would be the video for you.

'Fuck. It's quite arousing isn't it?' giggles Ben.

And it is. But it's also a bit pervy. And I wonder what Paul was going to do with it.

'What do we do with it?' says Ben.

'I think we wipe it and then record Paul a little message instead.'

Deleting it is quick and easy. We then both sit on the bed.

'Hi Paul. You seem to have left your webcam on and pointing at the bed. Could just be an accident, in which case I'm sure you'll be glad that we've deleted what it recorded. If it wasn't an accident , then we apologise for the disappointment, but frankly that would be a bit pervy. You could always just try asking us. Anyway, thanks for the use of the room.'

We both blow him a kiss, save the file as 'bandt' and leave the cam running.

Ten minutes later, Paul appears. We're just sitting on the bed drinking our coffee.

'Hi guys. have a good time?'

Interestingly, as he's saying this, he goes over to his computer and opens it.

'Just checking email.'

'We had a great time, thanks, Paul. And thanks for the room. We've been careful not to leave any...traces.'

'Happy to have been of service, little bro.'

'Yeah, thanks, Paul,' says Ben.

We leave Paul to it. I idly wonder what will happen when he finds the video that he's actually got rather than the one he thought he was getting. I figure there'll be an awkward conversation waiting somewhere down the line.

As we walk back to the bike sheds, Ben asks me how I feel about what Paul has done.

'I suppose I'm disappointed more than anything else. I mean...I can sort of understand in a warped way that he probably thought it would be a harmless piece of fun - that we'd never know. And I don't think he'd have done anything with it other than watch it for his own private pleasure. Although the idea he might be jacking off while watching you and me is a bit...weird. But I sort of think I ought to be feeling outraged but I'm not. And I don't know why not. How about you, Ben?'

By way of answer he throws his arms round my shoulder.

'We are just so similar, Toby. That's how I feel too. Maybe...god, this feels so wrong to say...but the idea of being filmed while making love to you doesn't appal me. I mean, I don't like the sneaky way Paul did it...and I certainly wouldn't want just anyone to be able to see it, but, well,...watching it was...well...just a bit erotic.'

'You think we could try filming ourselves?'

'We could try. Next weekend...if you want.'

'Maybe,' I say.

We unlock Ben's bike. There's no-one else around and so we can give each other a lingering goodbye kiss.

'So good to see you today, Ben. Can't wait 'til next weekend.'

'Me either. Love you, Toby.'

'Love you too, Ben.'

I watch as he pedals slowly, and then with increasing speed, down the road. I feel happy and empty at the same time.


The awkward conversation takes place the next day, Sunday. After lunch, Paul just comes up and asks me to go to his room with him. We both know what it's about, and we walk in awkward silence up to the dorm. Inside his study, Paul invites me to sit down.

'I'm sorry,' he says.

'Apologising to me seems to be becoming a bit of a habit,' I observe.

'Yes. I know. And I'm sorry - really sorry. You see, at first it was genuinely an accident. I'd no idea how long the cam had been running, and when I noticed, I went to turn it off and then I thought, hey why not just leave it running. Like it was somehow...payment for using my room.'

I go to speak, but he holds his hands up.

'I know, I know. Stupid, irrational, wrong. I would have deleted it, Toby, honest. I mean, watching my bro having sex would be weird...wrong. I just didn't think it through. It seemed harmless. But once in my head the idea just stuck. I'm not very good at thinking things through, Tobes. I'm sorry.'

'Look Paul, it's not just that you'd have been watching your bro having sex...you'd have been watching me have sex with another boy. Look,...are you gay, Paul?'

'NO! No...and I'm sorry, I didn't mean it to come out like that. No, Toby, I'm not gay. I enjoyed having sex with Sarah during our week away after I'd...done what I did...with Abe. I guess that makes me bi but I'm not gay. But the only gay boys I know - apart from Abe - are you and Ben. I guess I just want to know more about what...that side of my sexuality...involves.'

I speak to him gently.

'There's plenty of gay sex to watch on the internet, Paul.'

'I know. But that's it. It's sex. What you and Ben have is love. I want to understand that. I know I say 'sex is sex' to you, Toby, but it's just as true that 'love is love'. Look, none of this makes what I did - or tried to do - right. Actually, I'm very pleased - grateful - that you found it and deleted it.'

He sighs.

'I envy you, Toby. What I have with Sarah is mostly just sex, if I'm honest, and what I had with Abe was definitely just sex. What you and Ben have is love. It's beautiful. It's amazing. Just watching you two together makes me so hungry for that in my life too. Which makes me pretty pathetic - and makes what I did even worse. Sorry, Toby. So sorry.'

I know when I'm hearing the truth, and I have no doubt that Paul means every word he has just said. I'm sad for him, more than anything else.

'Consider yourself forgiven - again.'

He looks up at me and smiles weakly.

'Thank you.'

'And Paul...whilst what you did, and the way you went about it, were totally wrong, Ben and I actually find the idea of being filmed having sex quite...arousing. We plan to try it ourselves. So while you get nought out of ten for the motivation and the method, you get ten out of ten for the idea.'

I see Paul smile.

'Do I get to watch the result?' he says, with a grin.

'No, you pervert, you' don't.'

'Can't blame a boy for trying.'

'Hmm. I suppose not.'

We end up having a quick hug, and then I walk back down to school. Pete meets me halfway across the front quad.

'Fancy a game of squash, Toby?'

'Why not?' I say. I'm in the mood to get some frustration out of my system.

Despite his size, Pete is quite a graceful and accomplished squash player. It's one of the reasons we became friends in the early days. We now both play for the school as part of the First IV. I play number 2, and Pete is number 4. The other two members are both in the year above. As members of the First IV, we have the privilege of being able to kick other players off one of the courts if we want to use it - but I have never done this; it seems like an abuse of power to me. Fortunately, there's a court free anyway and Pete and I are soon warming up.

'So did you and Ben have fun yesterday?'

'I think we can safely say that was fun was had by both parties.'

'You going to tell me about it?'

'What do you want to know?

'Well...I mean did you two , you know...'

'Go on, Pete,' I say with a grin, 'say it; did we.....??'

'Did you...fuck...each other?'

'No, Pete, we didn't. We did just about everything else, though.'

'Like what?'

A wicked thought crosses my mind.

'Well , we certainly did what you and Tom Merrell do together.'

Tom is Pete's wank buddy. Unusually, he's in the year below Pete. 'Normal' is for your wank buddy to be in your own year, but Pete is such a nice guy no-one thinks twice about it. Merrell is quite a nice kid, although I suspect that Pete is not the only guy he fools around with. I'm also sure Pete doesn't know this.

'What?! How do you know about me and Tom?'

'Pete, everyone knows about you and Tom. Everyone know everything about everyone. Mostly.'

'Well I didn't know everyone knew. Anyway he and I only...well...you know...jack off together. Occasionally. Very occasionally.'

'Quite. Well that's one of the things Ben and I do. Except we do it a lot,' I add with a grin.

'Oh, right. And that's it?'

'No. We also do oral...you know, we suck each other's cocks.'

'Eww. Why would you want a cock in your mouth?'

'Because that's what gay boys like to do, because it feels amazing.'

'Well, I'll take your word on that one.'

'Pete, you do know that girls like to suck boys too, don't you?'

'Umm. I suppose.'

'Well there you are then.'

'I still think it's a bit weird.'

That's Pete. He just says what he's thinking. There's no malice or judgement in it. It's one of the things I like about him. And it was a bit unkind of me to say everyone knows about his wank buddy.

'And actually Pete, not everyone knows about you and Merrell. But it's not exactly a secret either.'

There's a pause as we play a rally. I can tell that Pete is processing a thought. It will probably lead to a question.

'But Toby, what happens when, you know, with...oral...you get to the point like you do when you jack off when you need the tissues. I mean, I suppose you do the same thing.'

'Some boys do. Others don't need a tissue.'

We play two more shots, then Pete stops and just stands there.

'You mean you...God, that's disgusting.'

'No it isn't, actually. If you're with someone you love it's kind of natural.'

'How did you learn this anyway?'

'Ben taught me.'

We play another couple of points.

'Does being sucked really feel good?'

'Yup, sure does.'

'Oh.'

Curiosity satisfied, Pete settles down to playing. He's good, and I'm only just a little better so it's a first-class work out. After forty-five minutes we are both dripping with sweat.

'I'm pooped, Toby. Shower time?'

'Me too. Yes. Shower time.'

Pete and I have seen each other naked dozens - probably hundreds - of times, so any curiosity we may have had about each other was satisfied ages ago. But he's still an impressive sight. OK, so he's probably a shower rather than a grower, but nonetheless I reckon Merrell must, quite literally, have his hands full with Pete. While we're in the shower, Pete asks me more about Ben. I answer his questions as best I can. I know that he's just curious. He's straight as they come and here I am, his best friend, who, less than two months since he last saw me, has come out as gay and acquired a full-on boyfriend with whom he clearly has a highly-active sex life. He just wants to try and understand. I get that.

As we dry off, he says,

'I still don't quite understand about boys liking boys, Toby, but from the way you talk about Ben, you really love him, don't you?'

'Yes, Pete...yes, I really, really do.'

'Then good for you.'

And then he puts his arms round me and gives me a hug. It's like being embraced by a bear.

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