The Game of All Games

by Geron Kees

© Geron Kees 2016 All rights reserved.

This is a work of fiction and depicts sexual activities between minors. All characters and situations are imaginary. No real people were harmed in the creation of this presentation. Please observe the laws of your jurisdiction with regards to reading this material.

If you are not 18, you shouldn't be reading this at all. Go find a boyfriend and talk stuff over with him.

Jack Rance sat on the front porch of his house and looked at the rain as it came down, a steady patter that sent little rivulets coursing through the uneven grass to run along the edge of the sidewalk and then into the storm drain by the road. It was the middle of summer vacation, and the fourth day in a row it had rained. What the heck was with that? It was like someone upstairs knew that every kid in the state was just itching to get out and play and have fun, and in a fit of meanness, was keeping them from doing exactly that.

Well, Jack didn't really believe that - it was just frustrating as hell. He'd been talking to his friends on the phone, and texting, and e-mailing - but it wasn't the same. And though he'd gotten together with his best friend Tim every day, they had just kind of knocked around one or the other of their houses, looking for stuff to do, and finally gone to the computer and e-mailed their other friends, and looked at stuff online. Not much else to do when it rained, but to hang out and wait for it to stop.

Well, that, and play around.

Jack smiled at that, and felt a little thrill course throughout his body. Becoming thirteen had added some new things to his life, not the least of which was the sudden knowledge that his dick - for some years now a moderate source of interest to him - had suddenly turned on and began displaying a life of its own that had astonished him. It wasn't totally unexpected - he'd been as aware as his friends for a couple of years that there was all kinds of stuff online to look at that was interesting, and that for a lot of it, it was easier to get to than his own underwear drawer.

So he'd been looking at stuff on the web for a while now, and he and Tim had been sharing what they'd seen and read, and they had also kind of been edging onto a weird appreciation of each other that Jack had yet to fully understand. Tim made him feel funny - kind of nice and kind of pleased - and touching each other had become a game they played - casually at first, and then with more of a will most recently.

He'd known Tim since kindergarten, and they had grown up together with the kind of closeness that stems from that kind of time shared. Next year they'd be moving from middle school to the high school down the road - ninth grade - and going from being at the top of the heap to being at the bottom. It worried them both, down low inside, and they had been doing a lot to ease each other's worries about it - and it had been an easy thing because they were so close and knew they'd be sharing even that coming experience together. Jack had been thinking a lot lately about how much Tim meant to him, and how much he enjoyed being with the other boy - and how much pleasure it gave him to touch him.

Yeah, it was gay. Shit, yeah. Jack already knew a couple of guys at school who admitted they were gay, and while they were occasionally kidded about it, most of the other kids saw it as no big deal. Jack knew from things he heard and read that even a few years ago it wasn't like that - that being openly gay carried a price tag that made it hard - at least at his age - to justify.

But the world changes, and so had his. Besides, he was seeing that he also kind of liked girls, and that ruling them out of the picture was a ways off yet. Being bi was less of a hassle, and in his mind he had kind of labeled himself as that, for now. Bi, maybe kind of leaning - at least leaning towards Tim.

Tim was his own size, blond and blue-eyed, with a smile that made you smile to see, and a laugh that made you smile to hear. He'd always liked Tim a lot - liked his sense of humor, his company, his loyalty, and his smarts; and now he was finding he might even love him a little. A little. He wasn't sure what he felt - just that it was more than like.

That Tim felt something the same towards Jack only made it better. Tim had even kissed him for the first time the day before - really kissed him, rather, as there'd been kind of dry runs on that before, too - when they'd been laying on the carpeted floor of Tim's bedroom, at first watching a movie, but then poking each other, and then wrestling a bit, and then just kind of quietly holding onto each other.

Tim had sighed, pushed his face against Jack's cheek, and then Jack had heard the distinct little click of lips kissing. In the past, when they'd each stolen little bits of the other in such fashion, they'd both pretended it hadn't happened and gone on with things. But not this time. It was too blatant, too purposeful this time, for Jack to ignore.

"You just kiss me?" he'd asked, pulling his head back in surprise.

Tim had looked a little embarrassed, but his eyes had been full of mischief. "Huh? No." But then he'd smiled. "Make you mad if I had?"

Jack had thought about that one hard, because the impulse was to say something smart or funny, and something inside told him this moment deserved more than that, that it was not the time for impulses.

"Nah. I wouldn't care," he'd finally decided. "Not since it's you."

Tim had grinned at that. "What? I'm special or something?"

Another important question. A very important question, Jack saw, because the answer was important to both of them.

So he'd nodded. "Yeah. You are."

They'd looked at each other for a moment, and Tim had kind of looked different then, like he understood that the kidding had gone away and that they were speaking things now that had meaning.

"You, too, Jack."

Then had come the impulse. Jack had leaned in and pushed his face against Tim's, closed his eyes, and just felt the warmth and touch of Tim's skin, his presence so close and so slightly different than ever before. Tim didn't pull away, or say anything, or do anything, and they had just kind of touched like that for awhile before the second impulse struck Jack, the one that wound up being the most important one of the day.

He'd turned his head a little, pressed his lips to Tim's, and kissed him.

After all, turnabout is fair play, right?

Tim seemed to think so. He'd smiled, and then he'd laughed, and then he'd kissed Jack back. On the lips, where it really mattered, where it said that this wasn't a game they were playing, not at all.

The movie was forgotten as they settled into the new thing of kissing and touching. They'd always touched, ever since they'd known each other. You can't hang out with and play with a guy and never touch him. It happens. But you don't really think about it other than maybe as the occasional pat to say I like you, or the shoulder thing you do to show support - stuff like that.

They'd been touching more purposefully on and off for awhile now, while each examining the new feelings they had for one another; but it had been kind of like touching against each other, more than actively touching to touch. But now, both of them let their hands feel the other, let their fingers massage and explore and investigate. Somehow each of their hands had migrated slowly downward, until they were testing the bulges they each had in the front of their pants.

That had been extremely interesting, had felt extremely good, and might have gone anywhere if Tim's little brother hadn't then stomped up the steps, causing them to jump apart quickly and go back to watching the movie with a fervor that neither of them actually felt.

"What'cha guys watching?" Larry was seven, cute and full of energy, and totally unaware of what he'd just interrupted.

"Batman," Tim had said, with just a slight undertone of irritation. Jack had had to grin at that, seeing that his friend was just as disappointed that things had not been allowed to go further. Tim had seen him smiling and had grinned back, and they'd both seen then that there was always going to be time for more.

Today, though, was Tim's grandmother's birthday, and they had gone to spend the morning with her. Tim had said he'd be back in the afternoon, and they could get together then. Jack sighed, looking again out at the rain, and saw instead in his mind Tim's smile and his blue eyes - shit. Better go do something, or he'd wind up in the bathroom jacking off, and it was too early in the day for that.

So he got up from the chair and went inside, passing through the living room on his way to the stairs.

"Still raining?" his mom asked, from her position on the sofa. She was reading, her day also screwed by the constant wet falling outside. She liked to work in her garden, and while she admitted that the rain was good for it, the continual fall also kept her inside and away from her plants.

"Yeah. I'm going up to see what's on cable."

"Tim not home today?"

"He went to his grandmom's for the morning. It's her birthday. She's seventy-eight."

His mother's eyebrows went up. "That's getting up there. But maybe he'll be home soon." She smiled, aware of the meaning that the term best friends had for a boy. "It'll stop raining soon. The weather guy said tomorrow would be overcast, but no more rain."

Jack grinned. "If he's right. He's not always, you know."

"Uh huh. Well, it has to stop raining eventually. Just make do until it does." It was obviously a thought she was having for her own situation as well.

"Yeah, I guess."

Jack smiled at her and then hit the steps. It might not have been so bad if he'd had a brother like Tim did - someone just to hang out with a little when there was nothing to do. Jack had an older sister, but ever since she'd gotten her driver's license she was never home - and she was kind of not much fun, anyway. She spent most of her time on the phone, or in the bathroom, it seemed. It was like living in the house with an alien visitor, most of the time, and Jack really couldn't see what anyone could do in a bathroom for an hour and a half at a shot.

Oh, well.

He went into his room, grabbed the remote off the bed, and pointed it at the big flatscreen on the stand over by the wall. He'd wanted the TV for Christmas last year, and after hinting about it for six months before the holiday, hadn't been all that surprised to see it under the tree. And then he'd been astonished at how little he used it, his laptop seeming to have somehow taken the place of all other forms of indoor entertainment. Even his XBox sat unused for weeks at a time now, while he played stuff online instead.

But - he felt like some sports - something to perk up his inner energy just now. Rainy days brought a kind of inner slowness that could even lead to a nap if one wasn't careful - and Jack had an urge to be moving. He sighed at all the energy he had inside, with no place to put it.

It was too early in the year yet for football, and he didn't feel like baseball. Something had happened to baseball - since he'd been little, anyway. It had gotten so slow.

So he hunted through the channels, looking for a soccer game, or even some hockey. He found a soccer game, but had hardly settled back on the bed when it was over. Damn. He grabbed up the remote and went hunting again, landed on something he thought was another soccer game at first.

But - what the heck? One of the players grabbed up the ball, which wasn't at all around, and went barreling down the field with it under his arm, while a gang of others, all dressed in shorts, lit out after him. Just as one kind of big fellow made a grab for the ball carrier, that fellow suddenly squirmed away, side-stepped, and kicked the ball downfield. It landed, bounced, and someone else grabbed it and started carrying it back in the direction it had come from.

Jack watched, astonished and a little mesmerized, as the play progressed, with guys being tackled, passing the ball backwards, kicking it away when it looked like they might be tackled - though this seemed a rare event, actually - and there were furious moments where whole groups of the players wrestled about for possession of the ball, which itself had a squashed appearance scarcely designed to facilitate the bounce against the ground sometimes given it.

Jack grinned and laughed, because there were things about the game that seemed familiar; but every time he thought he knew what was going to happen, something entirely unexpected occurred instead. The scoring, too, was nuts, seeming to jump upwards by as much as five points at unexpected moments.

After a while, he grabbed up the remote and pushed the button for the screen guide, and saw the caption Rugby from Raeburn Place, Edinburgh.

Oh! No wonder it seemed so different. Like so many other things from the UK, the game had that little bit of exotic quality that marked it as having grown from a different tradition than the games he was familiar with. He went back to watching the game, fascinated, and by the time it was over, realized he hadn't had so much fun watching any game on TV in a long, long time. Part of it was the mystery - he didn't know what might happen next - and sometimes he wasn't even sure what had happened when he saw it. But he kind of developed a fondness for the team in the blue shorts, and began to cheer when they scored, and to lean forward and watch in excitement when they had possession of the ball. The way the game moved was fascinatingly different from anything he was used to, and when the blue shorts won in the end he turned off the TV feeling elated and satisfied.

Wow. That was fun!

He got up and went to his laptop, and looked up the sport. He saw how it was played, and tried to visualize the rules - which were different then any game he had ever played.

Scoring tries was the main way to make some numbers, as you got five points for each one that succeeded. Hmm. Kick off - wow. You had to bounce the ball first, called a drop kick, and the weird shape of the ball meant it wasn't always cooperative. The ball had to go a certain distance on the kick and not go over the touch lines. Any player that got the ball could carry it, pass it, or kick it - though the last one was a last ditch attempt to move the ball forward against the opponents if it looked to the carrier like he was going down in a tackle. Any defender could tackle, hold, push or grasp the ball carrier - but could not tackle or obstruct any other player.

The ball carrier more or less ran as fast and as straight as possible for the other team's in-goal, but it paid to be nimble and quick of foot in that process. If you saw a teammate who was in a better position to score than you were, you passed the ball to him. But you could only pass across the field, or - unlike American football - pass to the rear. You could not throw a forward pass. You could also kick the ball in any direction you wished. If it was on the ground you could kick it or hook it with your foot. If you had the ball in your hands, you had to drop it or place it on your foot, and then kick it. Kicking it forward generally gave possession to the other team, but also moved the ball towards their goal and away from your own, which was always desirable.

If the ball was on the ground - called a ruck -and everyone converged upon it at once, a controlled melee of sorts ensued to gain possession of the ball by pushing and stepping over the ball. If players came together while the ball was in a player's possession - off the ground, called a maul - they pushed and grappled for possession, but had to keep things moving or it violated the rules.

Then there was the scrum, when the eight forwards from each team squared off, head-to-head, and the ball was put into the center of the mass, and the players tried to gain control of the ball with legs and feet only.

And then - wow. The game looked wild, and cool as hell. The rules and situations whirled in Jack's head as he bookmarked the game's page and then Googled Rugby ball sales.

Hmm. Gilbert, Adidas, BLK, ShadowBall - oh. Heck, the Gilbert training ball was only fifteen bucks, on sale. The match balls weren't a lot more - but this was kind of a whim, and if he was going to step out, he might as well do it reasonably. The game could be played with the training ball just as easily - yeah.

Jack jumped up, went to the dresser drawer where he kept his money, opened the lid of the little wooden chest inside, counted what was there. Sixty-two bucks. Birthday money, and a little still left from Nana's Christmas gift.

He went back, checked the shipping rates, decided that twelve more dollars for expedited shipping was highway robbery - almost as much as the damn ball itself - but, heck - he couldn't wait. A small excitement was growing inside him at the idea of learning to play this import sport - yeah, what the hell. He peeled off twenty-seven dollars and ran it downstairs.

"Mom, can you place an order for me online?'

She stuck her finger in her book and looked up at him. "What are you buying now?"

"I need a rugby ball."

His mom blinked. "Rugby? As in the British rugby?"

Jack laughed. "Is there another one I don't know about?"

"Uh --" his mom smiled. "Nope." She cocked her head at him. "What brought that on?"

"I was watching a game on cable, and it looks like a lot of fun. So I looked up the rules, and now I want to play."

"How much is it?"

"Twenty-seven bucks, with shipping. I have the money here - can you come up and charge it for me?"

His mom laughed. "That's a lot of money for something that may wind up in your closet in a week, never touched again. Are you sure you really want to play this game?"

"It's a sport, mom. And yes, I want to learn it."

"You can't use some other kind of ball?"

Jack sighed patiently. "No. Could you use a kitchen fork to plant stuff in your garden?"

She laughed again."I could, actually, but I see your point." She nodded. "Okay. Let me get my credit card, and I'll be right up."


"Rugby?" Tim said, astonished, when Jack told him later. "Like the Irish play?

They were sitting on Tim's front porch now, and it was still raining. Good as his word, Tim had texted just after lunch to say he was home, and Jack had donned a coat and hat and raced over to his friend's house.

"It's played all over the UK, and in other places, too," Jack said. "I watched a game on cable. It's pretty cool, and I think it would be fun for us to learn." He grinned. "Even ordered us a ball, overnight express."

"No shit?" Tim grinned. "Damn, Jack. You know if you want to, I want to. But don't you gotta have teams for that? How many guys are on a rugby team?"

"Thirteen, in league play."

Tim gaped. "On each team? Shit, Jack, we don't even know twenty-six guys."

Jack laughed. "I know that. But we can get Pat Callahan and his football buddies in - that would make ten of us, and we could go five on a team and just learn the game. I mean, we're not playing pro or league or anything - I just want to learn to play, and have some fun."

Tim nodded. "Okay, I'm in. I think Pat'll do it, too, and if he does, his buddies will, too. Probably should ask him sooner than later, though, just in case they don't want to play."

"Good idea." Jack shrugged. "We don't even have the ball yet. I sent you an e-mail with a link to the rugby rules site. You can check it out tonight if you have time."

"Sure. That sounds cool."

The front screen door opened, and Tim's mom came out, with Larry in tow.

"Timmy, don't go off without locking the front door, okay? Hi, Jack. How's your mom?"

"She's good," Jack said, smiling. "I'll tell her you asked."

"Where you headed, mom?" Tim asked, getting to his feet.

His mother stopped and looked at him. "I'm taking your brother for his check-up, remember? I told you that we had to do that this morning, on the way home."

Tim made a face. "Yeah - I forgot. Sorry, mom."

"It's okay. Just remember what I said about not going off and leaving the house unlocked." His mom gave him the eye. "The answering machine is on, so don't worry about the phone." Finally, she smiled. "I made some brownies. They're in the fridge. Just please leave some for dad and I, okay?"

Tim grinned. "Okay, mom. See ya." He took a fake swing at his brother. "See ya, brat. Don't let the doctor poke you where the sun don't shine."

"Tim!" His mother tried to look stern around a smile.

"Is the doctor gonna poke my butt?" Larry asked, suddenly still.

"Of course not," Tim's mom said, dragging him off towards the garage. "Your brother is just crazy. I thought you knew that by now."

"Yeah - I do."

They disappeared inside, and soon the car backed out, tooted its horn, and was away.

"Never gonna stop raining," Tim said. "Wanna go to my room?" His sudden look of interest was not lost on Jack, who felt a small shiver, but nodded without showing it. "Sure."

They went inside and headed up to Tim's room. He closed the door, and Jack didn't miss the fact that his friend locked it. Tim went into the adjoining bathroom, shucking his coat, then leaned back out the door and motioned to Jack. "Hang your coat in here to dry."

Jack shrugged out of his coat and hung it on the shower curtain rod next to Tim's.

When he went back into the bedroom, it was to see that Tim had kicked off his shoes and flopped onto the bed facing the TV. Jack tried not to smile - they always watched TV laying on the rug. This was new - and interesting.

Tim patted the mattress next to himself as if it was no big deal. "Come watch TV."

Jack nodded, used his feet to push his shoes off, and squirmed onto the bed. He made himself comfortable next to Tim, thought better of it, and slid over more until their hips and shoulders touched. Tim grinned at him but didn't say anything, and they both watched the screen as Tim hunted through the channels.

"X-Men," Tim suddenly said, pointing.

"That's fine," Jack said, realizing then and there that what was on the TV was not going to be important.

This was it. Here was where they found out what was what.

Jack realized that Tim wanted to pick up where they had left off the day before. Jack was all for that, really. He was tired of wondering and guessing about his friend - he wanted to know some stuff about Tim - like, maybe about what he was like under his clothing.

Tim obviously felt the same. Jack had no sooner settled against his friend when Tim put an arm over him and squeezed him even closer. Tim grinned - and the look went straight up into his eyes.

Jack sighed, leaned his head closer, and Tim let his sag over until they touched.

"What are you thinking about?" Jack asked then, wanting to know if there were going to be some rules. There shouldn't be - not in something like this, because in order to have rules there needed to be a game, and neither of them really knew yet how to play at what they were doing.

Tim sighed. "You. I don't know, Jack. I want to do stuff, but I don't know what. I want to say stuff to you, but I don't know how. I mean - I feel really dumb about this."

Jack smiled at that. So he wasn't the only one, huh?

He turned his head, kissed Tim on the cheek. Tim looked over and smiled. "Was that for something?"

"I just wanted to," Jack admitted. "There's lots of stuff I want, but I don't really know what, either."

That seemed to make Tim happy. He leaned over and kissed back, and then they simply pushed their lips together and shared a real, nice kiss. Jack pushed his tongue out, hoping that it wouldn't be gross to Tim; but Tim laughed and grabbed it with his lips and sucked on it. A real thrill shot up Jack's back at that - man, was that ever nice!

He tossed his own arm over Tim, touched his back, let his hand slide down, just feeling, until he got to Tim's belt. He meant then to slide his hand up over and maybe give Tim's cheek a squeeze through his jeans; but somehow his hand slid under the belt, which wasn't very tight, and then he had a handful of some cheek through just the thin material of Tim's boxers.

Tim seemed surprised, but he also seemed pleased. Jack couldn't miss the look - Tim liked having his butt felt. The other boy rolled onto his side to face Jack, which caused Jack's hand to pull out of Tim's pants - but it also exposed a new area to be touched: the very obvious bulge in the front of his friend's pants.

"Can I?" he asked, without really thinking before doing it. He laid his fingertips gently against the front of Tim's pants.

In answer, Tim brought his own hand down and laid it on top of Jack's, and pressed Jack's fingers against the bulge. Tim took a breath, closed his eyes, let it out. "Man, I wanted that."

Jack swallowed, and began to carefully feel through the material of Tim's jeans. He could feel the roundness of the other boy's dick, and that it was about like his own felt like through his own pants. At the same moment Tim reached over and pressed his fingers against Jack's bulge, and Jack took a short breath at the sudden small pleasure that caused. It was completely, totally different to have someone else touch, because there was no mirrored feeling from his hand. It was all good, all new.

Jack pushed his hand around the bulge in Tim's pants, let his fingertips go between the tops of the other boys legs, into that private zone where no one ever touched by accident. He wanted to get his hand in there - inside Tim's pants, wanted to feel the realness of what was here.

Almost without thinking he was fumbling with Tim's belt buckle, even as the other boy was undoing his. They got buckles undone in a kind of hurried silence, then unsnapped jeans; then Jack let his eyes briefly look up to touch Tim's as he stuck his hand down inside. Inside Tim's underwear.

Tim gasped, looking up at him. He had pushed his hand into Jack's pants on the outside of Jack's underwear; he now withdrew his hand, found the waistband of Jack's underwear, dove his hand inside.

It was Jack's turn to gasp. The touch was wonderful - warm, firm, absolutely unconnected with any touch he'd ever felt. Touching your own dick brought that duel sense - both the hand and the dick felt something. Having yourself touched by another person was singular - your dick felt the touch, and that was it. It brought with it a thrill, because your body recognized that this was an outside contact - knew that someone else had a hold of a part of you that normally no one else ever touched.

Jack wrapped his fingers gently around the shaft of his friend's dick, feeling its soft firmness, its warmth, and the aliveness of it.

"Holy shit," he breathed, grinning into Tim's eyes.

Tim looked equally happy. "Damn right." He let his tongue hang out a second, and then leaned closer. "Can I get you out of your pants?"

Jack simply laid back and raised his hips off the mattress. Tim huffed, sat forward and grabbed material; and then he was hauling Jack's pants and underwear down and off. As the clothing came over his feet it peeled one of Jack's socks off; Tim laughed, grabbed the other and yanked it off, too.

"Now you," Jack said, getting to his knees. He grabbed at Tim's jeans and just as quickly pulled them off, and pulled off both socks with them. He looked down at what had been exposed - dick and balls, a thin tuft of fur, the beautiful curves of abdomen and hips - and felt like he was having trouble breathing. He laid back beside Tim and they grinned at each other.

"The shirts'll make it final," Tim suggested.

Jack nodded, sat back and just pulled his tee off and tossed it on the floor with his other stuff. Tim wasted no time in copying him, and then --

Naked.

They were naked together. Tim looked like a different person somehow. Jack had never seen his friend like this in all the years he had known him. Everything was there, right out in plain sight.

And it was fucking gorgeous.

"Aw, man," Jack breathed, his eyes trying to go everywhere at once.

He laid back next to Tim, carefully, and pushed himself against the other boy, so that their legs touched, and their feet, and their bare bellies came together, and their hips, and their --

It was an incredible feel. Tim twisted a little and pushed himself close, and his dick slid right in underneath Jack's balls and dove between his legs, even as Jack's dick laid back flat between their two bodies. Both boys gave gasps, and both boys let their arms pull their bodies tighter, and then they were kissing like they'd never tried it before, and their legs were tangling together and firming the pressure of their two bodies together.

Tim's face rubbed and pressed against Jack's, and Jack wanted that, and hungrily turned his face so that it rubbed against Tim's. Their tongues were touching, and their hands were grasping and pulling and rubbing, and it was the first time in his life that Jack had ever held someone in this fashion, and every inch of his body recognized that fact.

His skin tingled and shivered - heck, it probably would have made noises if it could. It was such a wonderful, warm feel, the touching of skin like that, like tiny energies sparked back and forth between them. Jack rolled onto his back, bringing Tim up on top of him. That was just unbelievable. Tim dropped his face against Jack's and they kissed some more, and Tim gently started rubbing his dick against Jack's - and of course Jack responded in kind.

"This is good as shit," Jack breathed. Tim just nodded, kissing him again.

"I've been thinking about stuff like this lately," Tim admitted after a while. "Doing stuff with you. Touching, and kissing." He lifted his head, looked down into Jack's eyes. "Even sucking your dick."

Jack nodded, unable not to smile. "Me, too. I was kinda getting your signals." He sighed. "I've been feeling the same way."

"Would you let me?" Tim's expression was a little hungry, and Jack smiled at it.

"What? Suck me off? Fuck, yeah. Can I do it, too?"

Tim smiled. "Hell, yeah. You seen any of this stuff online? I know we talked about other stuff, but I was kind of scared to mention the sucking stuff."

Jack nodded. "Tons of it. Even where guys fuck each other's butts." He licked his lips. "That looks like fun, too."

Tim gave a little squeal of surprised laughter. "You're crazy, man! Why didn't you say something before?"

"Why didn't you?" Jack returned, defensively.

Tim's smile wound down. "Scared, I guess. Scared you'd stop liking me." He shrugged. "Scared of being gay."

Jack felt the need to hug his friend, and did. Tim laid his head back down with his cheek against Jack's, and snuggled close during the hug, obviously enjoying it.

"We've been friends our whole lives," Jack said simply. "Take more'n being gay to bust that."

Tim picked his head up, smiled down into Jack's eyes, and then kissed him gently. "I can't believe we're finally here, doing this."

Jack just nodded. "Yeah. How long will your mom and Larry be gone?"

Tim raised his head, looked over at the clock on his nightstand. "Oh, another hour, at least. There's time."

Jack grinned. "Time for what?"

Tim looked down at him. "Time for everything."

And there was.


Later that evening, Jack lay in his bed, trying to read the stuff he'd printed out from the web on the rules and game play of rugby. But it just wouldn't take, because all he could think about was Tim and their afternoon together. He kept seeing his friend's smile, and the little twinkle in his eyes when he looked at Jack - a special look, just for Jack.

Jack closed his eyes, still able to feel the warmth and softness of the other boy's body against his - such a wonder that had been, to have someone touch against him like that. That much skin-to-skin had been unprecedented in Jack's life - the all-overness of it simply overpoweringly beautiful to feel. It had lodged in his mind with a will, so that he could close his eyes and still see it and feel it all.

One thing he remembered was the gentle sound of Tim breathing, and the feel of his warm breath against Jack's cheek. That had been so nice - so personal. He'd realized then that he'd gone through every day of his life without ever feeling the intimacy of someone else's breath against his skin, or the sound of this basic function of life so close. Guys huffing while playing sports didn't count - that was wind, not breath - a wholly different thing altogether.

And - well, so much had happened. Tim had slid down Jack's body and tasted his dick, and the feel of himself inside his friend's mouth had been startling and wonderful. Having your dick sucked beat the hell out of jacking off, every day of the week.

When Jack pulled one off at home it usually took about fifteen minutes; but when Tim had put Jack's dick in his mouth and started licking and sucking, he was ready to go in five. As the feeling crept into his loins and he knew he was close, he patted Tim on the head and told him he was close to cumming, and Tim pulled off and squeezed Jack's dick the last few seconds until Jack squirt a few spurts all over the front of his own chest.

Tim laughed, waited until Jack was done, and then squeezed out the last few drops. "Man, that's pretty good, Jack. I don't know if I make as much sperm as you do." He crawled back up next to Jack, and they both looked down at the streaks of white that lay glistening upon Jack's suntanned ribs.

"That was pretty awesome, Tim," Jack had to admit. "You can't tell how good that feels by watching it online, that's for sure."

Tim nodded, then reached out, and with a fingertip scooped some of Jack's cum off of his chest. In the same movement, he brought the glistening finger back and stuck it into his mouth.

Jack simply gaped as Tim closed his eyes and his tongue worked inside his mouth. "Why'd you do that?"

Tim opened his eyes and grinned. "Wanted to see what you tasted like. I wanted to see if I could take having you bust off in my mouth next time."

Jack laughed. "Well?"

Tim shrugged. "Ever tasted your cum?"

Jack was embarrassed at that, but felt it important to admit that he had. "Yeah. It's kind of gooey, but it wasn't horrible."

Tim nodded. "That's what I think, too. Not the best tasting stuff ever invented, but it's kind of special because it's yours." He nodded. "Next time I suck you, I want you to cum in my mouth." He smiled. "I'm gonna drink your spermies, Jack."

Jack couldn't help laughing. "You're a nut."

Tim just looked at him expectantly, and Jack knew immediately what that meant: it was Jack's turn.

So he had slid down his friend's body, taking the time to kiss some warm, soft parts of it - man that was nice! - and had arrived at Tim's dick with a feeling of anticipation so strong it took all of his will not to simply pounce on the thing. Instead he looked it over, smiling, deciding he liked what he saw, and took a few moments to touch and taste Tim's dick a little with his tongue - and then he pounced on it.

Tim was fairly quickly panting, and Jack was thrilled that it was him giving his friend such a nice feeling. Man, was that ever cool, to suddenly realize that he was giving Tim the same feeling that Tim had just given him. He realized then that part of this new thing they were doing was about satisfaction, and that came from making the other guy happy.

And was Tim ever happy!

His friend's face was squeezed into a smile/grimace of sheer joy, and when in a moment he patted Jack's head and said he was going to cum - an impulse stole over Jack not to move one inch - to keep sucking until the end.

He did. Tim gasped and grunted, and his hips raised just a little bit, and then a warm and slightly salty taste invaded Jack's mouth. He had been expecting it, and he resisted the urge to swallow right off, waiting as Tim squirt a few times and then was finished.

The taste was mild, with a hint of sweet somewhere in there, and the consistency of the stuff was like the gooey whey at the top of a container of yogurt. It was kind of gross - but the knowledge of where it had come from, and how he felt about the person it had come from, overruled all other judgments. Jack rubbed his tongue against the roof of his mouth a last time, and then swallowed.

He had just drank the stuff from Tim's balls. A warm sense of pleasure stole over him at the knowledge that it didn't get any closer than that. He crawled back up beside his friend and smiled at the questioning look in Tim's eyes. "And you say I'm a nut?" Tim asked.

Jack licked his lips. "I drank your cum."

"I saw." Tim smiled. "How was it?"

Jack had nodded. "I liked it because of where it came from."

A look of just absolute affection arrived on Tim's face. "Yeah? That's pretty nice of you to say that."

Jack had nodded, and then lowered his head, and kissed his friend.

There was going to be a lot of that going on, he thought, laying there in his bed. Kissing Tim. Just the words inside his head made him smile.

He was in the land of a new and very different pleasure now, one where he was sharing some things for the first time with another person. All the years he had known Tim, and now it was like it was new all over again. Now he knew what it was like to kiss the boy, and to touch his skin - even to suck his dick and taste his cum. There was like a power in that knowledge - a power that made him feel closer to Tim than anyone he had ever known.

He sighed, picking up the rugby printout from where he'd laid it upon his chest, and tried to focus on it again. But all his mind wanted to do was go back to Tim.

Life, he decided, with a small smile, had just gotten a lot better.


Pat Callahan was a football nut, and he hung out with other football nuts. He and his seven buddies had formed two four-man teams, and they played football on the field in the park every day the sun shined - and some where it didn't.

As good as Pat was with sports, he was pure stupid when it came to technology. Jack liked sports, too, but drew the line well before the point where he'd allow himself to be called a jock, and so he and Pat had never really become friends. Until, that is, the day when Mr. Cooper had teamed them for a science project on electromagnetism.

"Rance and Callahan. You two get the electromagnet project, okay? Due at the end of the month, so you have three weeks. Ross and Oliveri, you two do the illustration of the difference between alternating and direct current. Three weeks. Childs and Allison..."

It was simple, really. All you needed was a length of iron or steel, a length of copper wire, and a power source - a battery. You wrapped the wire around the metal, ran a current through it, and voila! - you had an electromagnet.

This even felt like a repeat project for Jack, as he had done the same basic project in fourth grade. The difference here was in application - this project required that they not just design and create a working electromagnet, but also put it to useful work. By eighth grade science you were expected to see uses in the junk you made in fourth grade science, Jack supposed.

After class, Pat had pulled Jack up in the hallway. "Hey, Jack, how ya doing?" Pat was brown-haired and brown-eyed, a little husky, but altogether cute. Jack knew it was so, because not only did he think Pat was cute, but all the girls did, too. As sure a sign as you get that it was so.

But Pat was a jock. Most sports-heads existed in a world all their own in school, especially if they were good at their chosen game. A world that revolved around gym. Jack liked that class, and he was reasonably good at baseball and football, and anything to do with running - but only for fun, and to stay fit. He had no dreams of becoming a Super Bowl champ one day, or playing in the World Series. Most jocks, though, seemed to think the games would just go on forever, that what they did in school was just preparation for what they would be doing later in life. There were crossovers, sure - guys and girls that were smart at classes as well as fit and able at sports - but they were in the minority among jocks, for sure. Most jocks were at best average students, simply because their interests were all tied up in their games.

"Not bad," he'd said, trying not to appear too interested. He'd always kind of looked at Pat from afar, just appreciating his cuteness, but never getting close enough to risk letting the other boy see him looking.

"Um...you got any idea what we're supposed to do with this electrico whats-it?"

Jack couldn't believe his ears. "You didn't read the chapter on electromagnetism?"

Pat shrugged. "I had a game that day. You're a brain, though - who needs books?"

The absurdity of the conversation made Jack laugh. "Yeah, I know about it. No sweat. We'll get an "A" on it, I betcha."

"Yeah?" Pat had looked pleased. "Shit, I can use an "A". Wanna come by my place and work on the thing? My dad's got a nice workbench and a lot of tools."

Go to Pat's house...with him? "Uh - sure. Let me call my mom and tell her though, okay? I'll need her to come and get me later, I guess."

Pat had waved a hand. "No problem. I ride bus 434. See ya out front when school's over, okay?"

At the end of the day, Jack had met Pat by his bus, and the two of them had to tell the driver what was going on. She obviously didn't like strangers on her bus - but Pat turned on a really sweet smile and literally charmed her into okaying things.

"Just don't make a habit of it, Callahan," she said, smiling.

"Sure Mrs. Johnson, and thanks."

Jack's mom had said she'd come pick him up after they were done working on the science project. Pat turned out to live on the next route over from Jack's own, and he could just as easily walk it home in a half hour's time, if he had to.

They stepped off the bus at the end of Pat's street - a quiet-looking residential lane with widely-spaced older homes reposing on big lots. Plenty of trees, shrubs, and green lawns rolling among the houses. Pretty.

"That's my place, up on the left," Pat said, pointing to a nice older colonial sitting in the shade of two massive oak trees.

"Pretty neighborhood," Jack said, noting its overall resemblance to his own. The whole area had been developed at the same time about thirty years before, and the houses here had the same comfortable, well-kept but lived-in look that his own neighborhood possessed.

"I grew up here,"Pat said, smiling. "I love the place."

They'd walked up the driveway to the colonial, and Pat had unlocked the door in the side of the garage and shown Jack his dad's workbench. It did look well-stocked, and well-suited to the creation of a science project.

"Come on up to my room," Pat said, taking him into the kitchen through another door. "My folks both work, but my mom should be home any minute."

They'd climbed the stairs to the second floor, walked down the hall, and then they were in Pat's room.

It was actually a pretty cool room right off, with Steelers and Pirates pennants on the wall above the bed, a flat screen TV a little smaller than Jack's own, a laptop, and lots of books and magazines about baseball and football - and cars and aircraft. There were also some models of cars - old hot rods - and a few of fighter planes that really looked well-done. Pat obviously had some artistic talent, at least when it came to building models.

"Pretty cool," Jack said, grinning. Maybe his surprise showed a little.

Pat looked at him and grinned. "What - you expected a cave or something?"

Jack felt a flush in his cheeks, but put on a good face and decided to play it straight. "Hey, you never know about you jocks. I kind of expected a goalpost over the bed and a basketball hoop hanging over the desk."

Pat tossed his head back and laughed, and Jack decided right there and then that he liked the other boy. He grinned too, pleased to be getting along with the guy so easily. He hadn't been sure how it would play out at first.

"Nah," Pat said, focusing on him again. "That's outside stuff. It's in the backyard."

It took a moment for Jack to see that the other boy was kidding. Wow - a sense of humor, too!

Jack grinned. "So. You got a piece of paper handy? I'll show you what we need."

Jack sat at the desk, and Pat stood behind him, peering over his shoulder as he drew.

"We'll keep it simple - and cheap," Jack said. "We'll need a battery - a lantern battery will do. Some wire - about twenty-two gauge copper, jacketed. A switch - even a simple knife will work - and a metal shaft - maybe a twenty penny nail. This is just the basics, to make the electromagnet itself. After that, we'll need an application for it. That's where we'll need to do some thinking."

"Oh, I didn't know it would be that easy," Pat said. "Me and my dad have done some wiring on old cars, and I know how to do some of that. So we'll be using DC current, which I also get - how does that make the magnet?"

"You wrap the wire around the nail," Jack explained. "Coil it. When you run current through it, it creates a bipolar magnetic field, and that lines up the magnetic domains in the nail so that their north and south poles all face in the same directions, and that turns the nail into a magnet itself." He looked at Pat pointedly. "This only works with iron, steel, cobalt, nickel - what's called ferromagnetic materials."

Pat looked impressed. "I knew you were a brain. Man, I got lucky to get you for this project."

Jack tried not to grin, feeling pleased. Pat was really cute when he was being nice. Well, he was cute all the time, but he was extra cute when he was being nice.

They diagrammed what they thought they'd need, and then Jack pointed at Pat's computer and suggested they go online and price the supplies.

Pat just shrugged, and thrust his hands into his pockets. "Ah, the thing isn't working right."

"Really? Can I look?"

At Pat's nod, Jack sat down in front of the laptop and looked it over. The browser looked to be FireFox - he tried to bring it up. It took awhile, but finally appeared.

"Slow as shit," Jack said, frowning. The laptop looked fairly new, and the intel sticker on it boasted an I5 processor. The damn thing should be going a lot faster than it was.

"What kind of antivirus-ware you running? I don't see any icons here."

"I don't know what that is," Jack said. "It's just got what was on it when I got it from my cousin."

Jack hunted around, but couldn't find anything like antivirus or anti-malware software anywhere. He went back to the browser, Googled Avast, then waited while the browser slowly went through its thing. Jeeze, the computer was slow.

Finally, after several minutes of waiting, he connected to the Avast site, and downloaded the latest version of their free antivirus ware. It took awhile, and then it took even longer to get the software to install. Finally, he ran it, and it immediately started showing hits.

"You have some viruses on here," Jack explained. "And some adware junk - a lot of crap. I don't know what they all are, but it's the main reason things run so slow. This software will get a lot of them, but because we've installed it on an infected machine, we can't guarantee we'll get them all. We need to make a clean flash, start your machine in sandbox mode, run the antivirus-ware from the flash..."

It took a couple of hours over two days to get the machine cleaned up; but once done, and once protected by an antivirus-ware and an anti-malware program - and with Pat now instructed in online safety - the computer was back to quick-and-deadly mode, and Pat was grinning ear-to-ear.

"I knew you were a brain, Jack, Thanks."

The upshot of all of this was that they became friends. Jack was invited to the park that lay about equidistant between his and Pat's homes, and met the gang of football-heads that were Pat's buddies. They turned out to be cool, and Jack took Tim along a few times, and soon they were all having fun together.

And, best of all, Pat and Jack built a really nice science project, which easily earned the "A" they'd both been hoping for.


That was then - this was now. Pat was cute, and Jack really liked him. But Pat seemed pretty straight, sexually, and there had never seemed to be the slightest opening to see if things were otherwise.

And Jack had Tim now. Well, he had always had him, he saw. Tim was the best friend he'd ever had, and now he was the only lover he'd ever had.

Jack had spent the rest of the evening before bed trying to read about the sport of rugby, but mostly thinking about the face and personality and body of Tim. Shit - Jack was only human, and a kid, too. Put candy in front of him, and he was going to eat it, and worry about the possible weight gain after the fact. Tim was the biggest box of candy that Jack had ever been presented with, and he was just starting to sample the many flavors. It was heady stuff, being in love for the first time, and Jack still didn't have a good handle on it. Least of all, the willpower just to turn it all off to do other things.

So by the time he went to bed, he still hardly knew a thing about rugby.


Jack and Tim were sitting on Jack's front porch the next afternoon when the rugby ball came. The mailman drove up the road in his little truck like always, but instead of just slipping a few envelopes and catalogs into the gray metal box out at the street, he pulled up and climbed out, carrying a box and the other mail in his hands.

Jack grinned at Tim as he got up to meet the man, who stopped at the steps to the front porch and looked up at them. "Got a package for you today with your mail."

Jack nodded, reaching out to take the stuff. The box wasn't heavy, and the return label confirmed it was what he was expecting. "Thanks, mister."

The postman shrugged and smiled, turned to walk back to his truck.

Jack opened the front screen door and tossed the rest of the mail on the little table inside the door, then went back and sat next to Tim with the box. Tim reached out to touch it, patted it once and grinned at Jack. "That was fast as shit, man."

"Better be, for twelve bucks," Jack returned. He started pulling at the seams of the box, until the end popped open. He pulled out a cardboard cradle, in which sat the ball, lettered Gilbert in black, with a red design and logo.

"Cool," Tim said, reaching out to lay his fingertips on the ball. "I thought it was more like a football. But this thing is round on the ends."

"Yeah," Jack said, staring at the ball and grinning. He looked up at Tim. "Wanna play?"

Tim's face lit with interest. "I meant to look at that link you sent me last night - but I was helping my mom by looking out for my brother. Do we even know how to play yet?

"Well - kinda." Jack laughed. "I've seen one game, and I more or less read the rules and how the game is played. I'd know it better, but someone's face kept popping up in my head and distracting me."

Tim's smile went up into his eyes. "Me?" he whispered.

Jack nodded. "Yep. It's your fault, for being so damn cute."

Tim reddened slightly, but it was easy to see that he loved the attention.

"I'll play, sure."

Jack looked down at himself, then at his friend. "We gotta change first. Can't play in our jeans. Come on."

They took the ball and went up to Jack's room. The fun part was closing the door and taking their jeans off, because they took a moment to feel around down inside each other's underwear a little, and to kiss, and to hug each other tightly. The result was an immediate pair of boners and a desire to throw off everything and hop into Jack's bed. But somehow, the new rugby ball sitting patiently on the end of the bed won out.

Mostly because Jack's mom was home, and he wasn't going to play around with Tim and take a chance on being caught. There were better ways to come out than being caught with your best friend's dick in your mouth.

They rummaged around in the drawers in Jack's closet and found shorts they could wear, and as an afterthought they traded their light jackets for long-sleeved polo shirts. The rain had stopped except for an occasional drizzle, and the sun was trying to come out - but the rains had left behind a slight chill in the air, and something else was needed besides their tee-shirts.

Jack grinned at Tim after they were dressed. "You look better in my old gym shorts than I ever did, buddy."

Tim looked down. "They're a little tight - and a little short. How the hell old are these?"

Jack shrugged. "I dunno. Last year, I think." He patted Tim on the arm, "You look fine." As an afterthought, he leaned over and kissed him. "Good enough to eat, even."

Tim laughed. "Think Pat will be in the park with his bunch? I'll bet it's still pretty muddy there."

"He'll be there," Jack assured him. "Those guys live there."

Jack grabbed the ball and the pair of them headed out. Jack paused long enough to show his mom the ball and tell her they were going to the park to get some guys to play. Her eyes twinkled as she told them to have fun.

"I like your mom," Tim said, as they crossed the yard and stepped on the shortcut path that tunneled through a thin stand of trees to the side street. "She always looks like she's happy you're having fun."

"She is," Jack said, nodding. "I learned a long time ago that my mom is pretty smart about guys. She grew up with six brothers, you know. Only girl in the whole family, with six guys." Jack laughed. "I'll bet she knows a whole lot of stuff about boys."

Tim was quiet a moment before grinning. "Man. Six brothers."

They hit the side street, crossed it, and took a narrow path between two houses that led to another thin stretch of woods. A path was here, too, that cut through the trees to yet another street. Across from them there was the back side of the park, and they hit that and started along the bike path that would eventually take them to the field where Pat and his buddies played football.

The guys were there. They could see Pat and his three teammates in a huddle, and then it broke and the lines formed up. Bobby Kelly was Pat's center, and the abbreviated teams meant that Mickey Ellers and Josh Copitz each had to play guard-tackle-end positions.

Across from them, Dave Harte had the middle linebacker spot, while Alan Miller and Mark Sutter each played a mishmash of tackle-end-backer spots, with Gilley Smith faded back a bit to cover the safety positions.

It sounded like it wouldn't work, but it did, and well. When Jack and Tim played, it relieved the others of a little extra duty, but overall the play remained the same. Pat was extraordinarily good at quarterbacking while playing his own running back, and Bobby had a knack for movement that often put him in a position as receiver even when dutifully covered by the other team. It was art football, after a fashion, with everyone by now understanding the requirements of their melded positions, and the game flowing as smoothly and tightly as any with a full complement of players.

Everyone was dressed in shorts, and despite the coolness of the day, one team was shirts and the other skins. Jack couldn't help letting his eyes examine Pat a little, who was in his skin. He was really a pleasant guy to look at so, with a fluidly-muscled upper torso that offered up a treat to the eye without overly bragging. All the guys were fit, but Pat was the cutest in Jack's eyes - maybe because Jack liked the other boy so much. Probably some truth there, because, for real, anyone with a stray gay gene in his pocket would be pleased at the eyeful that could be had by watching these guys play.

Pat caught sight of them out of the corner of his eye as they came up, and called time at the end of the current play, walking towards them, grinning.

"Hey, fellas. Decided to come out and play some? Great to see you."

He stopped though, as Jack took the rugby ball out of the crook of his arm and tossed it lightly into the air, caught it, and bounced it in his hands.

"What'cha got there, Jack? Looks like a football somebody did some whittling on."

Jack and Tim grinned at each other.

"We were hoping we could talk you and the guys into trying out an experiment with us today."

Pat nodded. "Yeah? What's that?"

"Rugby football."

The other guys were coming over, and circled around, eyes on the new football.

"Rugby? Like in England?"

Funny, how everyone reacted that way. Jack smiled. "Yup. I saw a game yesterday, and it was just cool as shit. So I ordered a ball, hoping I could get some guys to play."

Pat shrugged, looked at the others. "We don't have a clue about how to play that game, Jack."

Jack nodded. "I thought I'd teach you."

Pat grinned, his eyes full of liking for Jack. Jack didn't miss it, and neither did Tim, who also grinned, but moved incrementally closer to Jack.

Pat looked around at his friends, then stuck his hand out towards Jack. "Can I see the ball?"

Jack laid the Gilbert in the other boy's hands, who turned it, examined it, and then held it up to show the others. "What do you say, guys? Anyone wanna try some football like the Brits play it?"

Pat was obviously enthused at the idea, and the others took their cue from that. That Pat was the head of this outfit was plain, and Jack's liking of the other boy jumped up yet another notch as he realized what a natural leader the guy was. Now, if he could just be persuaded to be a little gay...but, no. It was a nice thought, but what was he thinking about? Tim was there first, and would always be first. He looked over at his best friend, smiled, and hoped that he was magically conveying telepathically that very fact.

It seemed to work, if the look in Tim's eyes was anything to go by. Amazing, what could be said and understood with just a look.

I love you, Tim.

I love you back, Jack.

The other boys seemed game. Everyone crowded closer to look at the ball, which Pat eventually passed back to Jack.

"So, Jack...wanna start giving us the basics?"

Jack nodded, looking at the group. "Well, first of all, we're short on players, so we're just gonna have to make do. A real team would have thirteen players. We're just going to get five on each team. We have to divide up into forwards and backs. You put your bigger, stronger guys as forwards, and your smaller, faster guys as backs."

"What's the difference?" Gilley asked.

"Forwards are mainly concerned with making the best field position possible for the backs to do their jobs. Forwards make attacks, run the ball, and tackle the opposition's ball carriers. While we're on that - you can only tackle and block the ball carrier. You can't mess with other players." He looked around, saw that everyone got it. "Good. Backs are the guys that mostly move the ball forward, into the areas cleared and protected by the forwards. You can carry the ball, move it with your feet, kick it, and pass it. But you can only pass laterally and backwards. You can't pass forwards."

Pat's mouth dropped open. "You can't pass forward? What does the quarterback do?"

"There isn't one," Jack returned. "Rugby has a bunch of backs, but no quarterback. They got what's called the Scrum half, or the Half back. He's the equivalent of the quarterback in your game, because the Scrum half pretty much directs the plays. He receives the ball from the Dummy half and passes it to another player, so he kind of selects how the action is going to go. The fullback is a middle man, and in defense he stands behind the front line and is supposed to get anyone that breaks the defenses. In offensive mode, he can move forward and fill holes in the line, and generally supports the main offense."

Pat's eyebrows went up. "So this Scrum dude is basically the quarterback, huh? Wow."

Jack grinned. "Yeah, more or less."

Tim gave Pat a small poke. "You'd be good at any position, so don't worry about it."

Pat brightened. "This is going to be interesting."

Jack went on to describe the roles of the wings, centers, halves, the hooker, props...and then he began to strain. Here was the part where he had become a little distracted by Tim. Damn. The stuff that had settled into his memory properly was becoming exhausted, and what was left was a flurry of half-facts and muddy assumptions. By the time he got to actual play, all he could really remember was that the game started with a drop kick.

"You flip a coin, and the winner decides to kick or defend, and which side of the field they want first. The kick has to be a drop kick, and the ball has to bounce once before the kick."

"You're shitting me," Dave said. "That thing? If it bounces anything like a football, that's going to be tough."

"Nevertheless. Once the ball is received by the other side, the goal is the same as the football you know: to get the ball to the other team's goal. If the ball carrier sees he is about to be tackled and he can't pass the ball, he can kick it away, even if he has to kick it into opposing territory. That at least means that the other team has to bring it back. If the ball is grounded...um, like a down...the two teams line up across the ball, and when play is called they all try to get possession of the ball with their feet."

"Their feet?" Mickey said, astonished. "How does the ball get back into their hands?"

"You gotta tip it up with your foot," Jack said, not even sure that was right. Now his memory was getting a little fuzzy. "Uh, yeah. You can tip the ball up to yourself, or to one of your teamies. That's called a ballsy."

That was plain bullshit. But giving the play a name would reinforce the act in everyone's minds - right or wrong. Jack was already seeing that, whatever they eventually played, it was only going to be real rugby in a very bastardized form.

"Wanna line up and try a kick off?"

"We gotta pick teams first," Pat pointed out.

Jack clapped a hand to his head. "Yeah, that would help. You and Dave are the quarters in the games you guys play, right? Why don't you two be the Scrum dudes, since you both are kind of used to running the show anyway?"

Pat grinned. "Works for me. You two want to just go one to each team as they are now?"

Jack laughed. "Tim and I were kind of hoping to play together. Develop some moves - you know?" He looked around at the massed boys. "One of you mind moving over to another team?"

Alan nodded. "What the hell. I'll go over with Pat's team and you two can play with Dave." He looked over at Dave. "Okay with you?"

"Sure. Ain't none of us have a clue what we're doing, so it's all good."

There was a general laugh.

"Okay," Pat said, nodding, "let's form up. Anybody got a quarter?"

The coin was tossed, and Pat's team won. They decided to attack, and picked their field. Because they were so few in number, it was agreed that everyone would kind of play as any position needed until they got the hang of things.

"So I have to drop the ball, let it bounce - and then kick it, right?" Pat looked unsure. "Where exactly am I kicking it to?"

"You don't have to kick it to anybody," Jack said. "Try to get it as far into our backfield as you can, so that we have to return it farther. Just don't kick it out of the touch-lines -- the sidelines, and don't kick it into the goal."

Jack looked around at their own team. "Remember, grab that ball and bring it back. You can pass it laterally or backwards, but not forwards. If it looks like you're going to be tackled on our side, kick that sucker away down field. But only if you can't pass it. If you down it on our side, we might lose possession and they'll get it in our territory."

Jack was improvising now, having run out of game play notes for the real game of rugby.

American rugby, he thought, sighing. Played by the seat of your pants and the creativity of your rules.

Boing! A new thought came then...well, why not? Heck, he couldn't remember all the real rules. If it became apparent that he didn't, the play might just grind to a halt. So, what if he...yeah. If they hit a snag that might stop the game, he'd make something up. They could only get mad at him once!

"Wiggle, wiggle!" he yelled, pointing a finger skyward.

Pat froze. "What the hell does that mean?"

Jack smiled. "We don't have any refs to start the game, so one of us will just call it. When I yell that, you drop kick, and we'll go from there."

"Oh." Pat grinned. "Fuckin' wiggle, wiggle. Now I've heard everything."

Jack grinned, pointed his finger skyward, and called again, "Wiggle, wiggle!"

Pat dropped the ball, which promptly bounced away in an arc. Pat's eyes got huge, and he immediately chased after the ball - and everyone immediately chased after him.

Pat caught the ball just as Mark caught up to him and landed him flat in a flying tackle.

The field was soggy, and the grass not inclined to stay in place. A lot of it got pushed to one side, and both Pat and Mark sat up muddy.

"Pretty good tackle, huh?" Mark said, beaming.

Jack nodded. "Except for one thing: there was no kick off yet."

Mark's face fell. "Oh. Shit."

"Damn ball has a mind of it's own," Pat said, wiping mud off of his elbows.

"Try holding it by each end and lowering your arms more slowly, and don't fling the thing at he ground, okay? Just drop it, instead." Jack grinned.

Pat grinned back. "I'll get it this time."

He did. Jack called wiggle, wiggle, and Pat's arms dropped slowly, releasing the ball at the bottom of travel. It hit the ground, bounced back into the air. Pat was ready, and swung his leg in a powerful arc that terminated with the ball.

With a resounding boomfp! the ball shot skyward, went over the heads of Jack and Tim, and dropped cleanly into the hands of Gilley, who managed to get under it just at the last moment. Gilley tucked the ball into the crook of his arm, and lit out towards the other end of the field, while the entire five-man opposing crew moved to intercept him.

Jack ran towards Gilley himself, and his own teammates followed. Pat was fast, and he closed on Gilley quickly. Gilley was quick, and darted to one side and then back, breaking the field; but Pat still was almost on top of him in an instant.

At the last second, Gilley flung the balls sideways, so quickly that Bobby ducked to keep from being hit in the face. The ball went past him and Tim reached out and snagged it out of the air, made an astonishing turn to the left right around Josh, and lit out for the other team's goal. Alan, who had lagged back, was on him, and Jack sprinted to be within range before Alan intercepted Tim.

"Here!" he yelled, coming up parallel. Tim saw him out of the corner of his eye and fired the ball his way just as Alan ran into him and they both crashed to the ground.

The ball was barely in Jack's hands when he heard footsteps behind him. He feinted right and spun, and Pat's hands just missed him. But Pat wasn't done. He spun with amazing speed and came back at Jack, and Jack saw right off he couldn't pass to anyone and there was no time to kick the ball away. So he held onto it for dear life as Pat caught him and they both spun and crashed into the ground. The moment he was down, he released the ball.

Everyone slowed, converging on them, then stopped.

"That's a down, isn't?" Mark asked, putting his hands on his knees while he caught his breath.

"It's a ruck, I think," Jack said. "When you're tackled, you let go of the ball immediately. It's been grounded. All of you guys have to get here and form a line on each side of the ball, and no one can touch it until one side or the other gets pushed back and the ball is open."

"That sounds cool," Bobby said. "Wrestling match for possession, huh?"

Pat and Jack got to their feet, each peeling mud off of their clothing. Pat couldn't help noting the mud streaked along Pat's ribs - shit it was sexy to see the guy dirty like that!

Yeah - I'm gay, Jack thought, sighing.

They lined up, five-on-five, with the ball between them in the middle.

"How do we start this?" Pat asked.

"I said wiggle, wiggle last time, so it's your turn," Jack supplied, smiling. "As soon as you call it, we each will try to push the other side away from the ball. Don't kick the ball around, but you can grab it with your feet - if someone lets you - and move it back behind your guys - if you can. But no one can touch it with hands until it's clear. Whoever picks it up then, their team has possession."

Pat grinned, raised a hand - dropped it quickly. "Wiggle, wiggle!"

Crash! All ten of them pounded together, grabbing and pushing. The mud beneath their feet didn't help a bit, and guys immediately started going down.

Pat crashed into Jack, and Jack was pushed back a step - Gawd! This guy was strong as an ox! They groped, got their arms around each other, rocked back and forth. Jack got his head under the other boy's chin and dug in, pushing - while a funny little voice in the back of his mind pointed out that he had his arms around Pat's bare torso, and that it felt really, really good!

Oh, shut up, Jack thought, pushing. He and Pat canted to one side, away from the ball, and then Pat's foot slipped and they both crashed to the ground. Neither let go of the other, though, and they rolled around in the mud, trying to keep an eye on the ball.

For one small second, Pat's hand closed on one of Jack's buns and squeezed. But the touch was gone so fast Jack barely had time to think about it, and they were back to wrestling.

But it was soon over. The traction being so poor meant everyone eventually wound up on their backs or on their knees. But except for Pat and Jack, who were still on a line with the ball, nearly everyone had gone down on Dave's side of the field.

Finally, the ball was clear, and Josh lurched to his feet and picked it up.

Everyone stopped wrestling. Pat and Jack disengaged, and got to their feet. Talk about dirty now - mud clung to every inch of exposed skin on the opposite, shirtless team, and everyone's clothing was filthy.

"Your ball," Jack said, nodding at Pat. For a moment Pat just grinned, and Jack wasn't sure why, but he grinned back. "What?"

Pat held up his hands. "Not a thing."

At this point, Jack thought that he'd made a mistake. "I think we messed that up. But I'm not sure how. I remember someone is supposed to step across the ball before we all wrestle for it -- shit. I can't remember."

Pat leaned close. "Fuck it, Jack," he whispered. "We're all having a blast. Let's keep going."

Jack smiled and nodded.

"Hey, Jack," Dave said then. "How do we score in this crazy game?"

Jack stopped to think. "Uh, you can do a try, which is when you just run the ball to the other team's goal and down it, just like a touchdown in American football. That's...uh, five points. You can kick a goal - I mean - kick the ball through the other guy's uprights, and that's one point, I think. There's something else, too..."

"Doesn't matter," Pat said, waving a hand. "We're so short on guys, let's keep it to the try thing right now." He swung an arm to indicate the field. "We don't have any uprights, just those sticks on each end to mark the end zone. So I don't know how we'd say a kick was good or not."

And so the game progressed. Pat brought the ball back to mid-field and kicked it again. This time Dave caught it, turned, and ran like the wind towards the other end of the field. The opposing team thundered towards him, while Jack and the others tried to get in close and keep them from just jumping on Dave. They all got to an unusually soggy spot on the field, and the other team slipped and slid in the mud just long enough that Dave somehow got past them. Everyone just took off running after him, but Dave managed to reach the little white pole that the guys had planted to mark the end zone in their football game, and downed the ball.

"Shit, that's five points for you guys," Pat said, shaking his head. But he clapped Dave on the shoulder and squeezed it. "Nice run, Dave."

Dave grinned, obviously pleased at both his own performance and the recognition from Pat.

Jack wasn't sure what to do after a score, so they kicked off again. This time it was Dave who had to try a couple of times before he got the ball to bounce so that he could kick it. Like Pat, he saw it as a challenge and not an irritation.

The ball went high, landed behind Bobby, bounced, and came back right into his arms. He lit out, tucking the ball in, and put his head down and charged, yelling at the top of his lungs. Mickey laughed and fell in with him, but both of them piled into a knot of guys, and Bobby flipped the ball backwards over his shoulder. Gilley, who was caught by surprise, somehow snatched it out of the air even as Pat bore down on him, threw the ball down in a perfect bounce, and kicked it away deep into opposing territory.

The mass of boys turned, slipping and sliding in the mud, and tore off after the ball.

Josh, who was seeing now the value of lagging back, got to the ball first and snatched it up, turned and started back - but was looking right at both Mark and Jack as they bore down on him. His head jerked side to side, his eyes spied Pat coming in laterally, and he fired the ball at the other boy just as Jack and Mark reached him. Pat snatched the ball out of the air, turned, and collided heavily with Tim.

The ball squirted out of Pat's hands and right into Mickey's, who shot for the goal unopposed, downing the ball while everyone else was still getting to their feet.

"Five-all," Pat said, huffing a moment as he got to his feet. "Man this is some crazy play."

They continued to pile back and forth into each other, wrestling for control of the by now filthy ball, and the game moved onward through kicking, passing, running, and just general mayhem. No one knew what they were doing, but everyone was having a great time doing it.

The two teams got good at reading the situations, and no one else scored. They were all filthy, but this seemed somehow to only add to the fun. Tim, by now having had his blond head dunked in the mud so many times, looked like a brunette. Jack could only imagine what he himself looked like.

It was starting to look like no one else was going to score. As little as they understood what they were doing, they were somehow nevertheless getting good at doing it, and they all began to see how the play was running, to be where the ball was, to defend, to attack, and to ground the ball, all at the right times. There was a minimum of kicking the ball away now as they all saw the advantages to be had in maintaining a chance at possession.

Then came the moment: They were far too close to their own goal for comfort. Dave had the ball, but was about to lose it or have to ground it. So he whipped his arm and passed across the field, a lightning shot aimed at Jack. Jack didn't see it coming at first and grabbed at it, tipped it, and it flew in a different direction and landed squarely in Tim's hands. At that point Tim was deepest in their own territory, and he froze a second, the ball in his hands before him, as virtually the whole field turned to bear down on him.

And then he ran.

Jack blinked, following, and cut off Bobby, who had a line on Tim and was almost there. Jack couldn't interfere with Bobby, but just getting between him and Tim broke the other boy's run, and Tim sailed through the hole, moving faster than Jack would have believed possible.

Pat was the one to watch out for, and as he ran Jack could see Tim's eyes watching as Pat drove in towards him.

For Pat, it just looked like Tim intended to bull his way through, and he grinned, knowing he was bigger and probably stronger, and where that was going to go when they met.

But just as Pat reached for him, Tim stopped so suddenly it made Jack laugh. Pat looked astonished, tried to grab at Tim, who simply leaned backwards out of the way, and then Pat slid in the mud and dropped to a knee.

Tim took off again, Jack running with him. They could hear others pounding along behind them, and Jack dropped back to tail Tim so that no one could sail into him from behind. The end zone stick came up, Tim bounced across it and put the ball down.

Jack grabbed him up and hugged him, and Tim threw his head back in delight and laughed.

Pat and the others crowded around, clapping Tim on the shoulders, everyone amazed at the run. Tim beamed all over the place, but his eyes kept coming back to Jack - that's who he wanted to share it with. Jack was happy for him, and he loved seeing Tim so damn happy. If nothing else got done right today, this moment made up for it all.

"Hey," Dave said, peeling mud off of his wristwatch and looking down at it. "We've been at this for almost two hours." He looked like he felt stupid. "I forgot to ask - does this damn crazy game have a time limit?"

Huh? Jack blinked. "Oh - shit. I think it has two halves, forty minutes apiece." Was that right? He rolled his eyes, not even sure now.

"I got to get home," Mickey said. "I was supposed to clean out the garage. Shit. I forgot."

"Yeah, my folks'll be home soon. I'd better go, too." That from Dave.

"Guess you guys win this one," Pat said, sticking his hand out and shaking with Dave. Then he grinned wickedly. "Just means we'll have to stomp you even harder next time."

They all laughed as Dave grinned and clapped Pat on the shoulder.

Then everyone crowded around Jack and Tim, and Dave gave them both a little poke. "I had a blast, you guys. That game is nuts, but it's fun. You wanna play tomorrow?"

The others nodded and laughed, and the idea seemed unanimous.

Jack looked at Tim. "You wanna?"

"Sure." Tim grinned ear-to-ear. "I had a lot of fun."

"Okay," Jack said. "What time?"

Everyone looked at Pat, who just blinked. "Oh - shit. I don't know. After lunch? One o'clock? That way everyone has the morning to get their shit done."

"Works for me," said Dave. "I better run. See you fellas then."

There was a general agreement, and then the group began to break up, with some guys going one way, and others the other. Jack grabbed up the ball, knocked some mud off of it, and tucked it under his arm.

Surprisingly, Pat walked along with Jack and Tim for a few moments, turning and watching the others until they were out of earshot. Then he reached out and took Jack's arm and pulled him up.

"Okay, Jack. What the hell did we just play?"

Jack grinned. "I told you - rugby."

Pat nodded. "If that was real rugby, I'm a ballerina."

Jack had trouble not grinning. "Why - Pat. Whatever do you mean?"

Tim just started laughing, but didn't say anything.

Pat nodded. "Oh, some of it was real. I mean, a game is a game, Jack. It has to be constructed as a game. Enough of this one made sense that it seemed like a real game - kinda, sorta. But for real - what we just played was as wacky as it gets."

"I thought it was fun," Tim said, still grinning.

Pat nodded. "I did, too. But what are we gonna do when everyone finds out we weren't playing it right?"

Jack shrugged. "I'll go home and read the stuff over again. Maybe you should do that, too. Just Google the game." He smiled. "We'll work the real stuff in as we go along until we have it right."

Pat smiled at him. "You're a trip, Jack."

Jack nodded. "Still gonna play tomorrow, aren't you?"

Pat looked at him a long moment, and then smiled. "Hell, yeah. That's the most fun I've had in ages."

Jack couldn't resist a small jab. "Maybe you and I can mud wrestle again."

It was Pat's turn to grin. "Hey - I'm game."

Jack felt his eyebrows go up, and saw Tim grin. "Yeah. You can grab my butt again," he added, mostly kidding.

Pat smiled. "Why - Jack. Whatever do you mean?"

Jack felt his mouth drop open at Pat's virtual confirmation that the feel had been real - and deliberate.

Pat pretended not to notice. "I'd better get going. My dad wants me to run down to the auto parts store with him when he gets home, and I can't go looking like I just crawled out of the sewer."

"Wait a minute --" Jack began, but stopped when Pat gave him a sweet smile.

"Yes?"

Jack looked at Tim, who was looking confused now. Yeah - he needed to be brought into the loop first.

"Nothing. See you tomorrow, Pat."

Pat nodded, still smiling, and they said their farewells and parted.

"What was that about?" Tim asked, as soon as Pat was out of earshot.

They were entering the path through the small woods between houses. Jack took Tim's arm and hurried him along until they were out of general sight, then stopped.

"You like Pat, Tim?"

"Yeah."

Jack licked his lips. "Think he's cute?"

Tim suddenly grinned. "Yeah. Why? What happened?"

Jack cleared his throat. "When he and I were down on the ground wrestling in the mud, I felt him...uh, he pinched my butt."

Tim's eyes got big. "No shit. He really did?"

"Yeah. I hardly paid attention to it then, because so much was going on. And I was just kidding him about it now. But you saw the way he reacted."

Tim burst out laughing. "Yeah, I did. He pretty much said he did it."

Jack nodded. "So what's up with that?"

Tim canted his head to one side, looked at Jack a moment, then shook it. "You really don't know, do you?"

"Know what?"

Tim looked around them, then reached out and took Jack's hands. "Jack - you're kind of special."

Jack opened his mouth, then closed it. He smiled. "Yeah? How so?"

Tim moved closer. "Well, you're cute as shit, for one thing. And you're smart, and you're funny, and you're nice to be around. I'll bet Pat isn't the only one that's noticed."

Jack moved closer to Tim, leaned their foreheads together. "I'm only concerned that you've noticed."

"I have, Jack. I noticed a long time ago. I'm here now, right?"

Jack looked into Tim's eyes, and nodded. "You know, don't you, that everything you just said about me is true about you, right?"

Tim sighed. "I just know I love being with you, Jack."

Jack nodded. "Yeah." He watched Tim's eyes a moment, saw the way they looked at him. "I think I love you, Tim."

Tim's smile grew. "I know I love you, Jack."

They bent forward and they kissed, and then lapsed into a warm hug.

Finally, they resumed walked along together, knocking dried mud off of their clothing as they went.

"My mom'll freak when she sees me like this," Tim said, looking down at himself.

"So don't let her see you," Jack offered. "Come by my house first. We can use the basement shower and get cleaned up. Then I'll run up to my room and get your jeans for you."

Tim's eyes widened. "Shower at your place?"

Jack stopped, looked at his friend. "Any reason you shouldn't?"

Tim seemed to think about it, then smiled, his mind obviously made up. "Nope. I'm game."

Jack nodded, and resumed walking. When they got to the path among the trees and were momentarily concealed from view again, he put an arm around Tim and squeezed him close.

"Want to sleep over at my house one night?'

Tim smiled. "Sure. Are we gonna sleep together?'

"You want to, don't you?"

"Yes."

"Then we will."

Tim grinned at him. "What about Pat?"

"What about him?"

"We could ask him to sleep over, too."

Jack stopped, shocked. "You'd want to do that?"

Tim made a small noise of surprise. "You wouldn't?"

Well...

It didn't really need thinking about. "Yeah, I would. I don't know if he would come. But we can ask him. Just --" He reached out, took Tim's hand, squeezed it. "Not the first time. Just you and me, the first time. Okay?"

"Okay, Jack. But it's not the first time I've slept over at your house. We've been doing it for years."

Jack nodded. "This one will be different, and you know it."

Tim smiled, pushed himself closer. "I can't wait."

No. Neither could Jack. He nodded, and they started walking again.

Funny, how quickly life changes. Jack smiled, thinking of the game they'd played that day. It was rugby - but it wasn't. Jack couldn't remember all the rules, or even how it was supposed to be played. And yet, they had all plunged into it and had a great time. So it wasn't the rules that were so important after all - it was the play. It was the being together, and the fun they had sharing the excitement of a new thing.

He looked over at Tim as they walked. Yeah. It wasn't the rules here, either.

This game was also about the play. And the being together, and the excitement of sharing new things.

This was the real game - the game of all games.

This was the one that mattered.

Voting

This story is part of the 2016 story challenge "Inspired by a Picture: Cold, Wet, and Muddy". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 3 June 2016 at noon, to at noon on 30 June 2016 (times in UTC) is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the competition home page.

The challenge was to write a story inspired by this picture:

Cold, Wet, and Muddy
Please rate The Game of All Games with the impressions it left you with

Either while reading this story, or afterwards, I found it to be/had/made me (Tick all that apply)

Romantic
Erotic
Sweet
Gentle
Surprising
Realistic
Inspiring
An emotional read
Written with rhythm and pace
Thought provoking
Well laid out (paragraphs etc)
Technically well written
Written with good use of grammar and syntax (this does not mean pedantic use)
Easy to read
It invited me in
I could not put it down
Cheering (made me happy)
Uplifting
I identified with at least one of the characters
It felt like it was about me. I know it wasn't, but it felt like it
The plot was tough to read. (a tough [good] experience, not hard to read)
Not just prose, but almost a 'tone poem'
There could be spelling/grammar/punctuation improvements
Interpreted the picture well


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