The Steven Roberts Stories

by Hamster

The Eye of the Storm

Steven Roberts was really pissed off and seething with anger. Now, you might think that's just typical of a thirteen-year-old, almost fourteen, because that's what teenage boys are like: angry at their parents, angry at their school, angry at the world in general. And most of the time you'd be right and you just have to put up with their surliness and antisocial behavior and wait for better times. But in Steven's case there was some justification in him being angry. Let's look at some of those reasons, starting with his current situation.

Steven was sitting on the floor in the downstairs bathroom with the door firmly locked. Next to him sat his mother who seemed to be on the verge of losing it altogether, praying with her rosary over and over and over again. On the other side of Steven was his cat Hermione, firmly locked in her carrier. Hermione was giving a loud and continuous explanation of why cats should not be locked in carriers inside downstairs bathrooms. She had started this explanation several hours ago and nothing would shut her up.

Worse, it was hot in the bathroom. The power had gone off in the early evening and all they had was a battery operated fan and an emergency light. So both Steven and his mother were sweaty and beginning to smell.

Even worse, it seemed Godzilla or T. Rex had gotten loose again and was shaking the house, and the shaking was getting worse and worse. And to cap it all, it sounded like someone had landed a 747 just outside the bathroom door and left the engines running at full thrust. The noise was deafening, but at least it drowned out most of the sound of his mother's prayers and Hermione's caterwauling.

When you're sitting in a dark and hot and increasingly smelly bathroom you have a lot of time to think, and you begin to wonder why the Hell your stupid parents had decided in their adult wisdom not to evacuate when the hurricane had been forecast to pass straight over their town in Florida. Well, it was an easy decision for Steven's Dad because he had to be at the hospital in any emergency so he wasn't in the bathroom with them. Oh, and he had power and light and food as well because the hospital was set up for such emergencies with generators and emergency water supplies and everything. He wasn't a doctor but he was in charge of administration so he had to be there to make sure all the emergency services kept going.

A couple of days before Steven had lobbied really hard for his mother to get in the car and head north and avoid the storm altogether, but his Dad overruled him and said they would be perfectly safe in the house. Easy for him to talk when he wasn't going to be there. So that was another reason for Steven to be mad at his father.

But the real reason why Steven was so angry was that today was the day when his friend Nick was supposed to come over to play video games and, for the first time, stay the night. Steven really liked Nick and he thought that maybe, just maybe, Nick liked him back and that there might be something between them. Steven hadn't got very far in his mission to find a boyfriend in Florida, and now the fucking hurricane had screwed things up completely. Nick's parents were smart, they had evacuated a couple of days ago over to Tampa where his grandparents lived and where the storm was supposed to be much less dangerous.

Steven was stewing over all of these things as best he could while the house shook and the wind screamed, and the cat yelled and his mother prayed, and his just possible boyfriend was over hundred miles away, and he was hot and smelly and mad at the whole world. Why couldn't they just have stayed in their home way up in the Northeast where life was so much simpler?

To understand that a little better we have to go back just over three months, and travel north about eighteen hundred miles.


It was late May. Summer had finally come to the Northeast, school was due out in a couple of weeks time, and Steven was looking forward to being able to spend a lot of time with his boyfriend Jake during the long summer days and nights, especially the nights.

It had been a difficult couple of months, but finally both Steven's parents and Jake's parents had given in and accepted that the two boys were boyfriends and that, at least on Fridays and Saturdays, they were going to spend the night together at one or other of their houses. It really helps when you live in one of those liberal northeast states where being gay is not seen as unpatriotic or deviant behavior or the work of the Devil. There were a few other gay kids in the Middle School where Steven and Jake were in seventh grade, so being gay and out was treated as just a normal thing as long as you didn't make out in class or in the hallway, and that applied to everyone, gay or straight.

The fact that being gay was more or less accepted made it easier for Steven's parents to accept it because they didn't lose any face by having a gay son, and nobody treated them any differently as a consequence. Privately they both hoped it was just a phase and he'd start to get interested in girls.

Steven was one happy thirteen-year-old kid, doing well in school with good grades, he was popular and had lots of friends, he was quite good at gymnastics, and generally he was the type of kid every parent wished they had. Both of Steven's parents considered themselves liberal and that made it pretty easy for Steven to tell his parents one evening at dinner that he was gay and had a boyfriend. He didn't expect much resistance, and didn't get much negative reaction when he told them he was gay, except for the idea that that their almost perfect son was having sex with his best friend.

Fortunately for both Steven and Jake, Jake's parents were rather less concerned that their son was having sex with his best friend. Some of their enlightened attitude was because Jake's oldest brother and his older sister were married and had children, so the "now I'm never going to have grandchildren" argument didn't apply, but mostly it was because they really didn't mind if the two boys wanted to sleep together. Both Jake's parents had had sex with other kids when they were about that same age and they weren't the type of people to be hypocritical.

So both Steven and Jake were counting the days to the end of school when there would be no more "school night" restrictions on when or where they slept together, and they were both excited by their planned summer activities that included a couple of weeks at the beach on the Cape with Jake's parents when they would share a room for the whole time, a week long summer camp together, and a lot of plans to do stuff when they were home. If you'd had the chance to ask either of the boys how they felt, I think they would have said life was more or less perfect.


Well, we all know that when everything seems just perfect, something catastrophic comes along which screws everything up. And that's what had happened to Steven.

His Dad had just got back from a trip to some meeting or other on hospital administration in Atlanta. He did that a couple of times a year on the pretext of keeping up with new trends in the health sector, but Steven secretly thought he did it to had a week away from home and enjoy himself with his buddies.

So it was on a Thursday evening right after dinner, that his Dad dropped the bombshell. Well, more like a full-sized nuclear bomb than a mere bombshell.

"Steven, your mother and I want to talk to you so we want you to listen very carefully."

Warning bells went off in Steven's head immediately he heard that. This wasn't going to be good news.

"I've been offered a new job which is a big promotion for me and means we'll have a lot more money. So we want to have a family discussion about this because it's a joint decision."

Steven remained silent. He'd already decided to be as difficult as possible about this because obviously if his Dad took the job offer it meant they would move, and that's the last thing Steven wanted. There weren't any other hospitals nearby that could possibly offer his father more than he already had.

"Of course, as you've probably guessed already, this means we'd have to move and I'm sure you're not going to be very happy about that."

Steven kept his mouth shut, stayed perfectly still, and just stared his father straight in the eyes.

"Your mother and I think that you'll really like it in Florida. We'll be near Disneyworld and Universal, and it'll be warm and sunny all year long, none of those winters you complain about, and there'll be lots of new things for you to do. What do you think?"

Steven looked at his father and didn't say anything for a while. There was a long and rather awkward silence. But inside he was seething with anger, and eventually he decided he had to say something, and say it he did. Normally Steven was careful how he spoke to his parents, but this was not a normal situation.

"YOU REALLY DON'T CARE A SHIT WHAT I THINK. YOU'VE ALREADY MADE A FUCKING DECISION, AND ALL YOU'RE TRYING TO DO IS GET MY AGREEMENT SO IT LOOKS LIKE IT WAS A DEMOCRATIC DECISION WHEN IN REALITY YOU'RE RUNNING A FUCKING DICTATORSHIP. YOU KNOW PERFECTLY WELL I DON'T WANT TO MOVE BUT YOU KNOW I DON'T HAVE ANY FUCKING SAY IN THE MATTER, AND ANYWAY YOU NEVER LISTEN TO WHAT I WANT, SO AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED I'M NOT PART OF THIS SO-CALLED DISCUSSION AND YOU CAN GO FUCK YOURSELVES. JUST LEAVE ME ALONE."

Steven stormed out of the room, ran upstairs, slammed his door, locked it, threw himself onto his bed and started crying his eyes out. At some point he heard knocking on the door but he wanted nothing to do with whoever it was. He thought long and hard about his options, but he couldn't think of many. Maybe he could run away somewhere, to a big city and see if he could survive on the streets. But he didn't have enough ready cash even for the bus fare. Maybe he could go live with Jake, his parents liked Steven, but his Dad would soon find out and make him go home. Or maybe he could just open his wrists with a box cutter and bleed to death like the girl on 'Thirteen Reasons Why'. Nothing seemed a good solution. He decided to go to school and try to borrow money from his friends for the bus and then just leave. Eventually he fell asleep.

His alarm woke him as normal the next morning. Steven didn't feel like getting up, and he sure as hell didn't want to face breakfast with his parents. But he had to get to school to get some money. Fortunately he had his own bathroom so he could take a shower and brush his teeth and comb his mop of brown hair without unlocking his door. Then he got dressed in his normal school clothes, khaki shorts and a tee shirt and sneakers with white ankle socks, and waited until just the right moment, grabbed his backpack, opened the window, climbed out onto the roof, threw his backpack onto the grass below, skinned down the drainpipe, grabbed his backpack, sprinted through the neighbor's yard, got the to bus stop, and hopped on the bus just as it was about to pull away.

"Close one this morning, Steven!" said the bus driver, "You'll make the track team for sure next year."

"Whatever!" replied Steven, moving to his normal seat at the back of the bus. He looked out the window and ignored his normal riding companions, which was nothing out of the ordinary because most of the kids on the bus were still half asleep.

When the bus arrived at school Steven looked around to see if either of his parents was trying to find him, but he didn't see them so he got off the bus and went straight to his locker which was near Jake's. And when he saw Jake he went straight over.

"Hey, Steven, what's up? You look terrible!"

"You'll never believe what's happened. My goddamn parents told me last night we're moving to fucking Florida!"

"WHAT??"

"Yes, fucking homophobic Florida. They went through all that crap of pretending to consult me and get my opinion. Well, fuck them, I gave them my opinion. I haven't spoken to them since, and I hope I never will! As far as I'm concerned they can go fuck themselves. Jeez, life was perfect until yesterday night and NOW IT'S ALL COMPLETELY FUCKED UP."

"ROBERTS! PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE, RIGHT NOW!"

Swearing in school and yelling in the corridor were clear breaches of the school Code of Conduct, and so it wasn't surprising that some passing staff member called him out and dragged him straight off to the Principal's office. Jake tried to say something but the staff member told him to shut up or he would be the next to see the Principal.

Steven was not a frequent visitor to the Principal's office. Sure, he had had his share of punishments but by and large he was one of those kids who managed to avoid trouble most of the time.

The Principal was fairly popular with the students, as far as Principals go. He rarely punished people without listening carefully to what they had to say, and he made sure that as far as possible, students accepted that they had done wrong and that the punishment was justified and not excessive. And he was very sensitive to kids who got into trouble because they had been led on by troublemakers and the occasional bully, and made sure all parties got what they deserved.

Steven stood in front of the Principal's desk.

"Good morning, Steven, you're about the last person I expected to see here this morning. What have you done now?"

"Swearing and shouting in the corridor, Sir."

The Principal looked at Steven and didn't like what he saw. The boy looked tired with dark circles under his eyes, and his eyes were red as if he'd been crying.

"Steven something's really wrong, isn't it? Let's go over there and sit down and talk about it."

Stephen was surprised. Normally when you got punished you remained standing in front of the desk. But the Principal pointed to the couch Stephen went over and sat down and the Principal went and closed the door and came and sat down in one of the two armchairs facing the couch.

"Steven, do you think you can tell me what's wrong?"

There was a silence while Steven examined his feet for a while. And then in a small voice and with his eyes brimming with tears he started to speak.

"After dinner last night my father told me we were moving to Florida."

"Just like that? No warning, nothing?"

"No."

"You had no idea they were thinking of moving?"

"No."

"What did you do when they told you?"

"Well, I yelled at them really loud and ran upstairs and locked myself in my room."

"Did you see them this morning?"

"No, I climbed out of the window and ran for the school bus."

"Goddamnit! Parents can be so stupid sometimes! That must have been a terrible shock for you, and I bet you're really scared about what's going to happen because you're going to lose all your friends and you're going somewhere strange where you don't know anyone, so it's right out of your comfort zone."

"Yeah, I don't know what to do and I'm really frightened and…"

Steven just broke down and tears started pouring out of his eyes. The Principal put his arm around the boy who was shaking and sobbing and moaning, and just let him cry himself out. It took a long time but eventually Steven was able to grab some tissues and wipe his tears and snot off his face.

"Did you have anything to eat this morning?"

"No."

"Well, we can't plan what we're going to do on an empty stomach. Stay right there!"

The Principal walked to the door, called his assistant in, and gave her some instructions.

"I'm taking the rest of the morning off, and maybe this afternoon as well. You don't know where I am, and my mobile is switched off. If Mr. or Mrs. Roberts calls, tell them that Steven is not in school. And if they ask, you haven't seen Steven this morning."

"Yes, sir. My lips are sealed."

"Thanks! Come on Steven, let's get out of here!"

Fifteen minutes later they were sitting in the local diner. Steven had a large plate of scrambled eggs and bacon and toast and a glass of juice and was shoveling it in as fast as possible. The Principal had a large cup of coffee. Eventually Steven finished off the last of his breakfast, gave a little burp ("Sorry, sir.") and looked at the Principal.

"Thank you, sir, I was starving! So what happens next?"

"Well, what I think we should do is this. When I get really upset and life seems overwhelming, I like to go for a hike and get some fresh air and that seems to help me calm down and get my thoughts in order. I think that's much better than going back to school. What do you think?"

"Sounds OK to me. Where do you want to go?"

"Is Moose Mountain OK? Have you been there?"

"Once, but it was a long time ago. My parents and I don't go hiking nowadays."

"OK, let's go! Let me grab a couple of bottles of water and then we'll be off."

And that's what they did. The day was sunny, the spring leaves were fresh and bright green, and there were wood anemones and trilliums flowering everywhere. After a pretty steep climb that took them just over an hour they reached the top and looked out over the valley below and across to the mountains on the other side.

"Let's sit down and catch our breath and enjoy the view and have some water, and then let's see how we can begin to make a plan for you. Is that OK?"

"OK. I'd forgotten how beautiful it is up here. I should have come more often."

So they sat in silence for a while The Principal was a man of great patience and he thought it best to wait until Steven was ready because they had some serious discussions ahead of them. Eventually Steven turned and looked at the Principal.

"Why did you tell your assistant that you didn't know where I was?"

"That's a very good question, Steven. I'm not sure, but I sensed that if I got in touch with your parents and told them you were at school they'd come straight over and take you home, and then you'd have nobody to protect you or support you. So by hiding you for a little while it gives us a chance to think about how to handle your parents when we do meet them. And it should scare them because they probably think you've run away from home. And they deserve to be scared because they frightened the shit out of you by just dumping everything on you without warning."

"I thought hard about running away last night, but I was terrified of what might happen to me. I mean, I don't have any street smarts or anything, and if I went to New York or Boston I don't know how I'd survive. And anyway I didn't have enough money for a bus ticket. And that's the only reason I came to school because I was going to try to borrow money from my friends and then take off."

"Yes, cities can be cruel places when you're broke and don't know anyone. So I'm glad you didn't run last night so we have time to think about what to do next."

There was another long silence. Then Steven spoke again in a very soft voice.

"I had a second option, you know. If I couldn't get money for the bus fare then I was going to wait until my mom was out and go home and slit my wrists."

"Jeez, Steven, I'm glad you didn't do that."

There was another long silence.

"Jake's your boyfriend, isn't he?"

"How do you know that?"

"Steven, I've been a teacher and a Principal for many years, and I've got a pretty good sense of what's going on. You can learn a lot just by watching people's body language and how they interact. It's not obvious to everyone, but I like to think not much escapes me. But I don't say anything because it's not my business. Unless I have to, of course, like if you and Jake were making out in class or something!"

"Well, Jake's parents seem to like me, and they let us have sleepovers at the weekend, and I've always felt comfortable at their house, and I wondered if I could move in there with them."

"But for that to happen, your parents would have to agree to let you move into Jake's house, and I don't expect that's going to happen."

"No way. They wouldn't let me. They don't really like me having sleepovers at Jake's anyway. I think they're old fashioned when it comes to kids having sex."

"Well, lots of parents are like that."

There was another long silence.

"How serious are you and Jake?"

Steven took a long time to reply.

"I don't know. Maybe not very. I think I'm more serious about it than he is because I'm sure I'm gay but I'm not so sure Jake is. I mean, we like messing around together and we do it as often as we can, but we're too young for it to be a sort of relationship, it's mostly that we like getting each other off as quickly as possible but then we go straight off to do something else. And I think he's beginning to take more notice of girls. So I'm not sure it's going to last."

"That's quite common. But it means that going to Jake's isn't really a long term solution for you, is it?"

"No, it might be OK for a little while but it doesn't solve anything."

There was another long silence.

"I really don't have much option but to go to Florida, do I?"

"No, you probably don't. The only other possibility is for Child and Family Services to take you in. They'd do that if everyone thought it was best because you've become an 'at-risk child' who might need protection from abusive parents."

"But they haven't hurt me."

"Oh, yes Steven, they have. Badly. Abuse can be physical, or sexual, or mental. In your case it's mental abuse because they suddenly destroyed your life without warning. You've lost all your trust and faith in them so whatever they try to do to make up for what they did is going to be really hard for you to accept. It's going to take a long time for you to build up that trust again, and it will never be the same. I'm sorry, Steven, but that's the way it is."

"Life really sucks sometimes, doesn't it?"

"Yes, I'm afraid it does."

"So what the fuck am I supposed to do now?"

"Nothing."

"NOTHING?"

"Steven, you've done nothing wrong. You've been wronged by your parents, and it's up to them to understand what they did wrong, to convince you they are really sorry for what they did, and make a plan for how to try to start over in a totally different relationship. It's them that have to change, not you."

There was yet another long silence.

"And how do you get them to change?"

"We have to do several things. First we have to make sure they really understand what they did to you last night. I'm going to rip them both new assholes when I see them because they need to know what they did was absolutely unacceptable, cruel, vicious, selfish, and a whole bunch more. Second, they're going to have to go into intensive counseling to make sure they start to learn how to treat you like a human being who has feelings and not like some form of pet. Thirdly, I'm going to find you a place to stay for a few days. I don't think your parents know how to handle the situation, so going home with them won't solve anything, it'll just make it worse for you. And I want them to learn that you leaving home is a serious possibility. Do you think you can do that?"

"I guess so. Where do you think I'd stay?"

"I don't know, but I do have an idea. But before I can tell you, I'll have to make a couple of phone calls, and I can't do that here because there's no phone signal up here. That's another reason to come here, because nobody can interrupt us."

"Then let's head on down so you can get on with it!"

"OK, let's go. How about a burger for lunch? Are you hungry after the hike up here?"

"YES!!!"

While Steven demolished a large bacon cheeseburger with extra fries along with a chocolate milk shake, the Principal went out into the restaurant parking lot and made several phone calls. Steven watched him through the window with mixed emotions. He was beginning to like the Principal because he seemed more human than when he was in school, but he was really worried about what was going to happen to him.

When the Principal came back in he ordered some ice cream for Steven and while that was disappearing he managed to eat some of his own sandwich.

"OK, Steven, you've been really patient and I'm proud of you for that because I bet you're dying to know what's going to happen to you, right?"

"Yes, so I'm listening."

"First, you're not going home with your parents tonight. It may take several days before that happens because we all want to make sure that they're going to really try to change their behavior and attitude to you."

"So where am I going to stay?"

"Well, it's up to you really. You've got a choice. Child and Family Services can arrange a temporary home for you with a nice couple I know. They're very trustworthy and you will be OK there because they're certified temporary foster parents. Or, if you trust me, I'd be very happy if you stayed with my wife and myself. I'm also a licensed to be a temporary foster parent if needed. I'm afraid there aren't any kids at home any more but I'm sure we'll find enough to keep you occupied. What do you think?"

"I'd rather stay with you, sir, if I can, because you've been really kind to me today and you seem to understand where I'm coming from and what the problems are."

"Then we'll love to have you. But there's one rule you're going to have to follow."

"What's that?"

"No more 'sir'. I'm 'Mr. Jacobs' from now on, but if you really like, but only when we're not in school, you can call me 'Tom'."

"I think I better stick to Mr. Jacobs because I might slip up at school and get into trouble."

"That's fine. So, somewhere to live is settled, at least for the time being. We'll get you some of your clothes and stuff later on."

"What about my parents?"

"They are coming to meet me and Mrs. Bailey from Child and Family Services at my house at 5:00 pm and we're going to talk to them about what they're going to have to do to become better parents. You're not going to go home with your Mom and Dad until both of them show a great deal more capability to be parents than they've shown recently. They'll have to go through counseling and take some courses before that happens."

"You're making my parents go back to school? You're kidding!"

"No. I'm not kidding. There's no way I'd let you go back there until they begin to change."

"Wow, I can't believe that!"

"Finally, and this will be the most difficult part, you and your parents are going to have to sit down, together with me and Mrs. Bailey, and start to see how we can make the transition to Florida as painless as possible. It's hard because you've never been there and you don't know what it's like and everything, but we'll do the best we can. I don't know how far your parents have gotten in terms of housing and schools and stuff like that but I hope there's still some chance for you to make some inputs into those decisions.

"Steven, I'm committed to helping you as much as possible as long as you're here, and I'm going to try to make sure there's someone in Florida who will do the same for you, and be on your side so you're not alone."

Steven looked at Mr. Jacobs and you could see he was on the verge of crying again.

"You've been so nice to me, Mr. Jacobs, I don't deserve it."

"Oh, yes, you do. You're one of my favorite students, I'm very sad you're going to be leaving us because I wanted you as Class President next year, and I hate to see a good kid be treated so badly. Now, look, it's one thirty. If you like, we could go back to school but what I'd prefer to do is go home and sit out in the yard and have cold drink and just hang out. It's been a day with too much drama, and there's going to be more when I meet your parents. Does that sound OK?"

"I think hanging out sounds good to me. Let's go!"

And they hung out for the best part of three hours and they talked about all sorts of different things, like books and music and movies and sports and likes and dislikes and what Steven might study in high school and college, and where he'd do for vacations if he had a free choice, and what sort of person makes an ideal boyfriend and how to do proper cartwheels and backflips. And the time passed in a flash.

Just after four thirty Mrs. Jacobs came out, said hello to Steven and gave him a big hug.

"Hi Steven, welcome to our house, I'm Mrs. Jacobs but if you feel like it you can call me Joanne. We're really glad to help out as best we can. Make yourself at home, and if you need or want anything, just ask Tom or me.

"Tom, Steven's parents will be here shortly. So Steven, you and I are going to leave right now, wait outside your house in the car until we see your parents leave, go inside and grab some clothes and anything else you need, and come back here and wait in the kitchen until your parents have gone. Is that correct, Tom?"

"Perfect, you'd better get going. OK, Steven, got your house key?"

"Yes, I'm ready! Let's go, Mrs. Jacobs!"

Mr. and Mrs. Roberts arrived on time and Mr. Jacobs busied himself getting everyone something to drink. The Roberts were anything but relaxed and started off in a rather brusque manner.

"Where's Steven? Is he alright?"

"All in good time, Mr. Roberts. Steven is perfectly safe and you'll get to see him before too long. But first, I'm waiting for one more person to join us before we get down to the business at hand. So if you don't mind let's just sit and wait for a couple of minutes."

The doorbell rang, and Mrs. Bailey came in.

"I'm sorry I'm late, Tom, a last minute crisis in the office. You must be the Roberts. I'm Julia Bailey, I'm from Child and Family Services, and I'm here in my official capacity to make sure that anything discussed and decided about Steven is in his best interests and within the departmental rules and regulations."

"Why is she here, Mr. Jacobs? All we want is to get Steven back home as quickly as possible. So what's all this about?"

"OK, Mr. Roberts, I'll explain and I want you to listen very carefully. In my capacity as a teacher, I'm a mandated reporter. Do you know what that is? You don't? OK, it means that if I suspect that a minor child has been abused, whether it's physically or sexually or mentally, then by law I must report that immediately to Child and Family Services. And so that's what I did. I've got no flexibility here because failure to report suspected abuse immediately means I'm liable to prosecution. Child abuse happens all the time and unfortunately Mrs. Bailey and I see too much of each other as a result."

"But nobody's abused Steven! He's just fine."

"I think Mrs. Bailey and I will be the judge of that. If we are satisfied that Steven has not been abused in any way then he can indeed come home with you, but it's not that simple."

"You can't stop us from taking Steven home, wherever it is you're hiding him! I'm calling my lawyer!"

"SIT DOWN. Mrs. Bailey has a court order issued this afternoon that allows her to maintain custody of Steven until such time as the court deems it appropriate for Steven to return home. Getting angry will only delay that process. Is that clear?"

The Roberts looked at each other and whispered a few things to each other. At the same time, Mrs. Jacobs waved to Mr. Jacobs from the doorway into the kitchen and gave a thumbs-up to him.

"OK, I'd like us to get started by asking you, Mr. and Mrs. Roberts, your version of what happened yesterday evening between you and Steven. Are you willing to do that?"

"Sure, it's all very simple. After dinner Mrs. Roberts and I sat down with Steven, we told him that I'd been offered a new job and that we'd be moving to Florida before the start of the next school year. And Steven just yelled a bunch of obscenities at us and went and locked himself in his room. That's all that happened. What's the problem?"

Mrs. Bailey decided this was the time to step in.

"I'd like to ask you a few questions, please Mr. and Mrs. Roberts, if you'd be so kind."

"Sure, fire away."

"When did you decide it would be a good time to change jobs?"

"Well, we've thought about it quite a bit, but it's only been about six months since I started looking in earnest. I can't advance any further at the hospital here so I need to move to a larger market."

"Did you ever tell Steven you were thinking of moving?"

"No, it's none of his business."

"When did you accept the job in Florida?"

"About two weeks ago."

"Did you tell Steven?"

"Yes, I already said we told him last night."

"But not before?"

"No, we wanted to try to make sure everything was properly lined up before we told him."

"What do you mean by 'properly lined up'?"

"Well, all the normal things like housing and schools and that kind of thing. Nothing very complicated."

"And you didn't involve Steven in any of these discussions?"

"No, we realized he might not want to move, and so it was much easier to get it all sorted out by ourselves. Then last night when everything was more or less organized, we decided that was the time to tell him."

"Much easier from your perspective, but let's try to look at things from Steven's perspective. Until yesterday, he's happy at school, he's doing well academically and at or close to top of his class, he's quite popular and has lots of friends, they hang out together after school and go to the movies or Dairy Queen, he's pretty good at gymnastics and has a coach he likes so he puts time and effort into that, and he has close friend in Jake that he likes spending time with. That's his world, and that's what's important to him. He's in a big comfort zone in which he is happy and secure and content, and he doesn't see any threats. Does that describe his world fairly well?"

"Yes, I suppose so."

"And then in the space of a few minutes you completely destroy his world. You tell him he's going to leave his school he likes, he's going to lose all his friends, he's going to lose his best friend, he's going to lose his entire social life, he's going to move to a state he's never been to, where he doesn't know anyone, and the only people he does know are his two parents who never even once bothered to give him even the slightest inclination that any of this was going to happen. You treated him like an infant, or a pet, not a young adult.

"At the moment you told him you were moving you ripped his world apart, no wonder he doesn't trust you anymore. No wonder he thought of running away from home last night but he didn't have enough money for the bus fare, and if he had managed to get enough money you'd probably never have seen him again. No wonder he thought of killing himself because he has no world left that he knows any more. If that's not abuse then I'd like to know what is! You should be ashamed of yourselves!

"Thank God he found an adult in Mr. Jacobs here who cared enough to take him under his wing and give up his day in order to be with Steven and talk to him and listen to his problems and try to help him. And thank God that adult had the sense and knowledge to contact me so that we can try to help Steven put his life back together as best as possible after you shattered it.

"And that's why, until you learn how to be parents to a teenager who has just the same level of fears and worries as you do, then he isn't going to live with you. There isn't a family court judge in this state who would let Steven go back until there are permanent and fundamental changes in your attitude to him because unless things change it won't take much for him to be on the next bus, or lying in the bath tub with his wrists slit open, or taking drugs. Is that absolutely crystal clear?"

There was a stunned silence. The Roberts looked completely shellshocked, Mrs. Roberts was crying gently, and Mr. Roberts look like he wanted to be somewhere completely different.

"I think we need to move on at this point," said Mr. Jacobs, "and see what, if anything, we can salvage out of this mess that might make life a little better for Steven. I'm assuming that the decision to go to Florida is not reversible, right? Ok, so be it. Have you decided on a place to live yet?"

"Yes, we hoping to finalize a house tomorrow."

"STOP RIGHT THERE! Obviously you haven't talked to Steven about what type of house or neighborhood he might be interested in. Describe the neighborhood to me."

"Well, it's a gated community and it's got it's own nine-hole golf course and tennis courts, and a community center with a book club and a Happy Hour on Fridays, and a monthly potluck dinner."

"Steven doesn't play tennis. Steven doesn't play golf. Are there any facilities for teenagers like a volleyball court or a swimming pool where kids can hang out? Are there other teenagers in the community? Can Steven bike to the mall to meet friends or is he dependent on one of you to drive him every time he wants to do something? Is there a bus he can catch to go down town to the movies? What you described is perfect for fifty-year olds or retirees but it sounds like a really boring place for a teenager.

"You need to stop thinking just of yourselves and try to think of what all of the family members would like to see, not just you two. Did you do that? No, you didn't, you just assumed that what suited you would suit Steven. That's arrogant and selfish. You need to go back to square one on housing and include Steven. It doesn't mean he gets to decide everything, it means he gets to help make decisions and hope that between the three of you there's some room for flexibility and compromise."

Again there was a stunned silence.

"What about schools?"

"We've decided we'll enroll him at the local Catholic Middle School rather than go to the public schools. It's seems a nice place, and we talked to the Principal on Skype and she seems like a good person, and they have a space available."

"STOP RIGHT THERE! You aren't going to go school, Steven is the one going to go to school. Don't you think he should have a say in where he goes? He might have is own questions. Does the school offer the courses that Steven wants to do? Does it lead into a high school that offers the choices he wants? Is he OK going to a religious school after being in public schools for seven years? What are their sports programs like? What extra-curricular activities do they have for kids? Do they have gymnastics available, which at least would be a small start to rebuilding his life?

"It's absolutely clear to me that you have no idea whatsoever on how to make family decisions that include your teenage son. If you go ahead with the housing and schooling choices you've described, I'd bet that Steven will be miserable, and more than likely you and he will be completely estranged, assuming he doesn't run away or kill himself or become a drug addict. So you need to stop right now, and begin to think about those choices you still have from Steven's perspective as well as your own."

Eventually Mr. Roberts broke the ensuing silence.

"I'm not sure I agree with everything you've said, Mr. Jacobs, but I accept that perhaps we didn't handle this as well as we could or should have done. And I think we will need to try to think a bit harder about what's good for Steven as well as for ourselves. But I'm not sure how we proceed from here."

"That's where I come in." said Mrs. Bailey. "The first thing you need to do is spend the weekend taking an online course on 'Learning How to be a Parent to your Teenager'. It's very informative, it has a series of case studies, several quizzes, and there's a whole bunch of ideas on how to cope with young adults. It's been required by the Family Court many times, and they'll make sure that you have completed and understood the course before you can move on. Then next week you'll have to attend at least three counseling sessions that will help you begin to learn how to restore at least some trust between you and Steven.

"Once you've completed all that, then we expect that there will be some additional counseling sessions that involve both of you and Steven because the three of you have to learn how to communicate effectively among you. At present that's not likely."

"It's going to be difficult to do all of that and get ready to move. And I've got a lot of work commitments to complete before we leave."

"Mr. Roberts, you're going to have to choose between your job and your son. You've done a huge amount of damage to your relationship to him, so you've got a lot of bridge-building ahead of you. It's your choice: work or son. Period.

"Here's your copy of the court order giving me temporary custody of Steven. Don't try to contact him, it will just make the situation worse. We'll be in touch with you on Monday once you've completed the online course. I think we've come to the end unless you've got anything else to say?"

"No, if we're not going to see Steven we're going home now. You've given us a lot to think about and discuss. Good night."

And with that the Roberts left and drove home. As soon as their car cleared the driveway, Steven came bouncing in from the kitchen.

"Wow, you really did tear him a new one, both of you. You were both wonderful, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!"

And Steven gave Mrs. Bailey a huge hug, and after getting permission, he gave Mr. Jacobs a huge hug as well.

"Well, I'm exhausted," said Mr. Jacobs "and I need a drink. Julia, what about you?"

"Thanks, Tom, but I better be going as well, and anyway I'm driving."

So Mr. Jacobs poured himself and his wife a glass of wine each, and then when she went in to the kitchen to get dinner, he poured a very small glass of wine for Steven.

"Good luck, Steven, let's hope this is the start of a new beginning for you. You deserve it! Cheers!"


A couple of months later Steven and his family moved to Florida. There was still a great deal of tension between the three of them despite the counseling that had proved hard for all three of them. It was probably a good thing that Steven's father flew down separately, leaving Steven and his mother and Hermione to drive down. It took them the best part of three days and there was only basic communication between Simon and his mother, topics such as where to eat, which road to take, where to stay and so forth. The only one who said very much was Hermione, who gave a long and very loud discourse on why cats should not be put in cages and transported in cars for days at a time. But sadly, there was nothing they could do to make her feel better.

The Roberts had changed their mind about housing and had decided that rather than buying or leasing a house online they would rent a suite in a hotel for a couple of weeks and give Steven and his mother a chance to look at different neighborhoods. Fortunately the realtor had a couple of teenage kids herself so she was able to listen to what Steven said, and eventually they were able to find a nice neighborhood where there were kids, and within an easy bike ride to a fairly good mall that was known as a hangout for local teenagers.

The choice of schools was also delayed. The Principal at the Catholic School agreed to hold a place open for Steven until he had had a chance to come and talk to her and a couple of other teachers. They also visited a couple of the public Middle Schools to get some idea of the choices available. And Steven and his parents sat down and compared the merits and disadvantages of the three schools and came to a consensus that the Catholic School was probably the best choice. Steven had looked online and found a reputable and licensed gymnastics center fairly near their home and had liked the first couple of sessions he'd been to.

And it turned out Steven began to settle into school fairly easily. The biggest difficulty he faced was that many of the kids in his class had known each other since pre-K, and two of the boys had even been in the same class since play school. That made it a little hard for Steven to get to know the other kids because they were a pretty tight knit group.

However, the school was fairly small and there were only thirty kids in his grade, and most of the teachers were very careful to make sure the same kids didn't sit together all the time. The Science teacher made sure that different kids paired up when they had labs, and that meant Steven got to know all of the kids a bit.

Lunch was not a big problem either because pretty much all of the boys ate at one table and all the girls at another. The school didn't encourage couples being together in school.

And because it was a private school Steven had to wear the same uniforms as everyone else so there were none of the problems that public schools have of expensive designer clothes for the rich kids and hand-me-downs for the poorer kids. So he didn't stand out, one way or the other, and he was grateful for that.

The only thing he didn't like much was the amount of religion he had to put up with. While his mother was Catholic and went to Mass every week, Steven and his father ignored religion. But Steven couldn't ignore it at the school, and he had to learn to go through the motions with just enough enthusiasm not to get into trouble. He felt that was a small price to pay for being in a fairly comfortable environment, and when he found out that about a quarter of the kids weren't Catholics that made it even easier.

But, sadly, Steven didn't have a boyfriend. He'd looked around with interest when he first arrived, checking out the other kids, but he knew he had to be really, really careful. Some of the kids were genuinely religious and had pretty traditional Catholic views on gays, which meant that they paid lip service to inclusiveness and diversity but probably didn't really believe it. So he just sat back and observed, but out of a total pool of fifteen boys in his grade it wasn't likely he'd find someone. So he hoped he'd get to know some kids at the mall who went to other schools, and maybe he'd make some friends that way.

So overall, school wasn't too bad for Steven. He liked most of his teachers, he found the classes interesting and not too difficult, he had a circle of kids who, while not close friends, seemed to accept him, and he was slowly building up a comfort zone. And Steven was patient because he knew that at the end of the school year he'd move to High School and that would probably be easier because not all the kids would know each other. So overall he was reasonably content, not too happy and but not too miserable.

Then two really nice things happened that cheered Steven up. The first came about three weeks after school started. He got a note asking him to make an appointment to see the Principal. He had no idea why, but he knew he hadn't done anything wrong so he wasn't worried when he walked into her office.

"Hi Steven, it's nice to finally have a chance to talk to you. I meant to do so earlier but it's always so hectic at the beginning of the school year."

"Thanks, Mrs. Tanner."

"I've been meaning to talk to you to see how you were fitting in to our school, and then yesterday I got an email from an old friend of yours, Mr. Jacobs, and we ended up having a long Skype call yesterday evening."

"You mean Mr. Jacobs, my old Principal? How is he?"

"He's fine. He sends his best wishes to you and hopes you're doing OK. He told me some of what happened to you and how your parents treated you. Has that got any better?"

"Some. We're not arguing, we try to communicate a bit, but it's still very awkward. My Dad is so busy in his new job he still doesn't have much time for me, and my Mom is sort of spaced out a lot of the time and not very good at talking to me. But there's no war going on at present."

"Good. And how's school. Are you settling in OK? It's tough coming into 8th Grade when everyone else has known each other for years."

"It's OK. I mean the other kids are nice enough to me, and we get mixed up in different classes, so I've pretty much gotten to know every one. But it's not the same as it was in my old school."

"It probably never will be, and anyway you've only got this year to worry about before High School and that's a whole different ballgame."

"I'm not unhappy here, if that's what you mean. It's just that I am an outsider and I haven't made any really close friends. But I may do. We'll see."

"Well, the reason I wanted to see you is to let you know I'll try to keep tabs on you, and make sure everything stays stable for you. Mr. Jacobs is very concerned about how you're doing, and he asked me to let him know if there's anything wrong. You have to promise me that you'll tell me if things are getting difficult, either here or at home, because I know you don't have much of a support group here. Will you do that?"

"Yes, if Mr. Jacobs trusts you then that's OK by me. You know he really saved my life. He was the only person who tried to listen to me about what was going on, and he let me stay with him until we all felt it would be OK for me to go back to my parents."

"That's what he told me. He also said you were pretty smart, mentally pretty tough, and resilient when things went wrong. He was sad to lose you as one of his students. But he also said I had to be careful because you had a naughty streak in you!"

"I don't know about that!"

"Well, we'll see about that, won't we! Steven, thanks for talking to me, and again, please come and tell me if anything goes wrong. Promise?"

"Yes, Mrs. Tanner, and thanks for looking out for me."

The second thing that made Steven feel happy was his interaction with one of his classmates. Nick Mancino and he had worked on a couple of lab assignments together, and they found that they were able to work well together on homework and other tasks. Nick was about the same size as Steven but he had jet black hair, lots of freckles, and the greenest eyes you've ever seen. Despite his Italian name he had a lot of Irish blood in him and looked like a stereotypical Irish boy. He had really hit puberty and he had quite a growth of dark hairs on his lower legs, and what looked like a reasonably sized package between his legs.

Nick was a little quieter than most of the other boys but he was clearly well liked. He was always playing basketball at lunchtime with the other kids, and was on the school soccer team. Not that the team was very good because they just didn't have enough kids willing to play. It's hard to win when you have a squad of twelve and the other teams can field twenty. Despite losing a lot of games, Nick was always cheerful, not only about soccer but life in general.

Steven started to like Nick a lot, and privately began to fantasize that he and Nick would end up as boyfriends, but Nick seemed to be a good Catholic boy and diligent in his attention during Mass and prayers. He had a little crucifix on a leather thong round his neck and knew his rosary off by heart.

Mostly, kids tried to complete their homework by staying at school after classes so they didn't have to do it at home. This suited Steven because he didn't really want to be home with his mother all the time, and it gave him a little more time to get to know those of his classmates who were staying after school. Nick was one of those who stayed because both his parents worked and there was nobody to pick him up before five o'clock.

One afternoon they were working on some analysis of data they had collected in a Science lab, and didn't get it finished before Nick's mother came to collect him because she was rather earlier than the boys expected.

"Shit," said Nick, "we'll never get this done before class tomorrow if we stop now. Steven, can you come home with me? We can finish in about an hour."

"OK, I'll call my mother and see."

And Steven ended up going to Nick's house where they got straight down to work because they needed to get everything done before Steven's mother came over to collect him and go home for dinner. There wasn't any question of him staying later because it was a school night and the rules were pretty strict in both households.

They got everything finished with about ten minutes to spare, Nick got them both a soda, and they started talking about nothing very important. Then Nick looked at Steven.

"What do you think about coming over here when it's not a school night? We could play some video games and you could stay for dinner and maybe if you wanted you could stay overnight so we'd have lots of time to do stuff."

"That sounds awesome! I'd have to get permission, of course, but I've done that with friends in my old school so I don't think my Dad would object!"

"Sounds great. Let me know and we'll plan a date. Just text me! You have my number, don't you?"

"Yes, I'll let you know soon as I get home. Are you busy this weekend?"

"Yeah, we're going to Tampa to see my grandmother. But maybe the weekend after, like on the Friday?"

"Sounds like a plan!"

Then Nick blushed just a little bit.

"Did you stay over at lots of friends, or just at one?"

"Mostly just one, my friend Jake. He was pretty cool!"

"Did you two ever……."

KNOCK, KNOCK! Mrs. Mancino was banging on the door.

"Steven, your mother's here!"

"Oh CRAP, " said Nick, "do you really have to go right away?"

"Yeah, I better, I don't want to get her and Dad pissed off if I'm late, and that's easy to do. I'll see you tomorrow and we'll work things out. Thanks for asking me over!"

"Hey, I liked having you. I meant to ask before but you know how it is! I'll wait for your text, OK?"

"Thanks, Nick, I really enjoyed coming over. See you soon!"

Sitting in the car on the way home, Steven's mind was focused only on that one question Nick had started to ask when Mrs. Mancino knocked on the door. 'Did you two ever…' do what, he wondered. Do I just have a dirty mind, or am I really horny, or do you think he was going to ask something completely different and I'm just being stupid?

"Did you have a good time, Steven?"

"It was OK, I guess. I mean all we did was our Science homework, we didn't have time to do anything else. But it was nice of him to ask me over because it saved a lot of time compared to having to do it by FaceTime after dinner."

After dinner Steven had two things he had to do. First he had to get his Dad's permission to go to Nick's house the weekend after next. Given the truce that had been negotiated before Steven was allowed to go back to his parents, they all agreed nobody would ask for anything outrageous, and that everything would be discussed before any final decision was made. While Steven didn't get his wishes met every time, he got enough to keep him satisfied that his parents were trying to keep their end of the bargain.

"Dad, Mom, when I was over at Nick's house this afternoon finishing our Science assignment he asked if I'd like to go over to his house when it wasn't a school night and relax and play some video games and watch movies and hang out together, and maybe sleep there so you two wouldn't have to wait up late or not have anything to drink at Happy Hour. Would you let me go?"

Steven's parents looked at each other, there was a little nod from his Mom and his Dad replied.

"I don't see why not. You haven't gone out that much since we came to Florida and your grades look OK, well better than OK if I'm honest, so it's OK with me and your mother."

"So it's OK if I text him and let him know it's OK?"

"Sure. Any idea when it might be?"

"Probably a week on Friday because he's going to Tampa next weekend to see his grandmother."

"OK, that sounds fine. You mother and I will enjoy a night out together while you're zapping aliens!"

"Thanks, Dad, Mom!"

The second thing Steven had to do was get upstairs as quickly as possible because he couldn't get the thought of him and Nick doing something together out of his mind. And whatever it was Steven was thinking about doing with Nick must have been pretty exciting because he got so horny he came all over himself before he had imagined Nick taking off his clothes.


And that's what had happened to Steven was when we found him sheltering in the downstairs bathroom along with his mother and Hermione the cat in the middle of a hurricane. And I think you'll agree that with all of the trauma Steven had suffered before coming to Florida, and the trauma of settling in to a new school and trying to make new friends, and then finally having his first sleepover at Nick's house cancelled because of the hurricane, Steven was entitled to be pretty angry at everything.

Suddenly the wind died down, the jet engine noise spluttered to a halt, the house stopped shaking, and Hermione shut up.

"Thank God, Steven, we've survived the hurricane! Let's go and check the damage!"

Steven's mother stood up, stretched, grabbed the flashlight and started to unbolt the door.

"Mom, STOP! That's not the end of the storm! We're in the eye in the middle of the hurricane. It's going to start all over again at any moment!"

"Steven, don't be silly! There's no more wind or rain or noise or anything! It's over!"

"Mom, don't you know anything about hurricanes? Here, look at the weather App on my phone. We're right here in the eye! In a few minutes the wind's going to start again, the noise is going to be just as bad as it was, but the rain might be a little less. We learned all about it in school before they closed."

"You mean we've got to go through all that again?"

"Yes, except it's all backwards. The wind will start at its strongest and then slowly die down as the storm head northwards away from us. We've probably got another couple of hours here, at least, before it's safe to open the door."

And as Steven spoke they could hear the noise coming back, and soon they were just like they had been a few minutes earlier: Steven fuming away to himself, his mother praying and the cat yowling. But it's always better after the eye has passed. You know it won't get worse, and slowly things begin to wind down.

By three in the morning the house had stopped shaking and although there was still wind and rain, Steven felt it would be OK to go through the house and check everything was OK. And an initial inspection seemed to show there wasn't any damage inside the house. However, they kept Hermione in her cage because there might be some escape route for her they couldn't see in the dark. So Steven went into his room, got his battery powered fan pointing straight at the bed, and fell asleep almost immediately.

He didn't get that much sleep because a new set of noises woke him up at about seven. One was the sound of a chain saw chewing it's way through tree or a branch. Another was the humming of individual generators. The last was his phone saying he had a text. It was from Nick.

"U OK?"

"yes thanks no major damage all safe no power"

"glad to hear ur OK. stuck in tampa no gas here."

"bummer come back soon."

"will try hang in there!"

"thanks c u later"

Steven got up, washed his face, put on a tee shirt and a pair of jeans, opened his bedroom window, climbed out on to the roof and made his way to the top where he sat down to assess the damage in the neighborhood.

He looked out over a total mess. There were trees down everywhere, pools of water, damaged pool cages, debris all over the place with branches, bits of pool cage, mailboxes, lumber, planters, you name it. They were going to be stuck in the house for a while as several trees were blocking the road. His neighbor was out already with his chainsaw trying to clear a path of vehicles.

Steven went downstairs into the garage, opened the door, pulled out the generator, got it started and let it run for a few minutes, then went inside and turned on the three things they had agreed on: the fridge and freezer, fans in the bedrooms and a light in the kitchen. That was as much load as they trusted the generator to cope with. Then he grabbed some unchilled juice from the emergency stockpile because he wanted the fridge to cool down before opening the door, found a day-old donut, ate that in two bites, and went outside to see what he could do. After all, he wasn't going to get to sleep again with chainsaws going all over the place.

He walked over to his neighbor with the chainsaw and waved to him.

"Can I help? Tell me what I can do, I'm Steven, by the way"

"Thanks, Steven! I'm Joe! We need all the help we can get. I'm trying to clear a path through these trees on the road so we can get cars in and out. We don't need to cut the thicker parts, just the branches, so if I cut and you stack over there where it won't block anyone, that'll be fantastic! Let me get you some work gloves so you don't rip your hands open!"

And for the next couple of days that's more or less what Steven did: pile up branches and debris so that people could begin to drive around. He was completely exhausted by nightfall, ate whatever his mother made on the emergency camping stove, and fell into a deep sleep immediately he lay down.

On the third day after the storm they got power back, and it was a relief to be able to turn on the air conditioner and stretch out naked on the bed and cool down. And jack off. And then take a hot shower and cool down again. He texted Nick.

"got power fantastic"

"stuck another two days at least no gas and many roads still blocked so traffic jams are huge"

"you got power back?"

"yes can you drive over and check our place"

"will ask mom"

Steven ran downstairs, found his mother who was going to do some laundry, and asked if they could go to Nick's house and check it out for them. She agreed without much resistance, and the two of them went over and checked the outside, which looked OK except for the pool cage which was flattened, and then Steven found the hidden key Nick told him about and they went inside.

"Mom, you check downstairs and I'll check upstairs, OK?"

And then Steven did something he'd never done before in his life. He stole something. He went into Nick's bedroom and he opened his dresser until he found what he was looking for, and stuffed it into his pocket, and then finished checking for damage.

"all safe in your house but pool cage is gone"

"thanks for looking trying to come back tomorrow"

"hope so"

Steven went to bed as soon as he could after dinner without looking rude. He carefully locked his door and emptied the pockets of his shorts and took out his stolen item, and stripped naked on the bed and then he took the boxers he'd stolen from Nick and he wrapped them around his very hard dick and jacked off in them and they felt so soft and warm and he knew that Nick's dick had been right there so he came pretty quickly and because he was only thirteen he was so horny that he came again almost immediately, and then a third time some minutes later. While it wasn't Nick's hand, it was the next best thing. And, boy, did he sleep well that night!

The next morning Steven waited eagerly for a text from Nick and eventually about nine it came.

"full tank on our way home"

"yeaahh call when ur here"

"ok"

Those of you who've been through a major hurricane know that all aspects of life are disrupted. Steven's Dad was working flat out at the hospital trying to make sure that they maintained all the supplies and services needed to keep everything up and running. So he hadn't been home for several days. Steven's Mom was just having a hard time keeping up with everything, and trying to buy groceries at the store when they had stuff available, and cooking and baking to give cookies and pies and lunches to all the neighbors hard at work clearing fallen trees and debris.

And Steven's school and the gymnastics center were both closed and it looked like they'd be closed for several days. And that meant no school nights for a while, a fact that both Steven and Nick were quick to recognize.

Eventually Nick called.

"Jeez, what a drive, bumper to bumper traffic all the way along I-4, it took ages but we're home now. Thanks for looking at the house. Too bad about the pool cage but Dad says he knows someone who can fix it within a few weeks. Otherwise we were lucky!"

"I'm glad you're home. And you know what, no school for at least this week so no school nights!"

"Yes, I already worked that out! When do you want to come over, how about tomorrow, too much clearing up and everything tonight and we're all tired and probably I'll go to bed early."

"Tomorrow's good! My Dad's still at the hospital and even if he comes home he'll only want to sleep, he's worked really hard. My Mom won't say no."

"Hang on a second!"

Steven could hear Nick shouting to his Mom, and then he was back on the phone.

"She say's it's OK for tomorrow! Come for lunch, say one o'clock and bring some work clothes as well as normal stuff because we've got tons of debris to help clear up. She says that's the cost of having you stay over!"

"No problem, I'll be happy to help. It's always good to suck up to your friends' parents!"

"You scheming little rat! They'll love you!"

And they did. Steven felt completely at ease with Nick's parents and his little sister and they worked really hard all afternoon, and ate dinner together where there was lots of laughter and hurricane stories, and after they'd helped clear the dishes, Nick and Steven went up to Nick's bedroom, and suddenly there was a lot of tension in the room because neither of them really knew what to do next.

"Umm, Steven, I know we can play games or maybe watch a movie or something, but, um, I don't know how to say this, but, um, I think I'd just like us to talk for a little while. Um, do you mind?"

"I think that's just the way I feel as well, Nick. I think we're going to be really good friends, not just a couple of kids who hang out but really good friends. And if so then we should know more about each other, is that what you mean?"

"Yeah, that's it exactly! I really like you and want to know you better as well. But I'm not very good at this sort of thing."

"Nor me. But I think we'll be OK because I already feel I can trust you and you won't laugh at me or anything."

And that's what they did. They sat next to each other on Nick's bed and talked about anything you could think of, and they learned what each other liked and didn't like, and what they thought of their classmates and their teachers, and what books they'd read, and sports and their favorite teams, and superheroes and videos and Facebook, and the more they talked the more comfortable they felt being together and Steven felt more at peace with the world than he had for a long time so he told Nick about some of the things that had happened before he came to Florida and he felt comfortable enough to tell him about Jake and Nick told him how sad he was about all of that but at least he and Steven were friends, and maybe this was a chance for a new start.

And suddenly it was quite late. Nick decided they needed a snack and something to drink so they went downstairs and raided the fridge and took the stuff back to his room and ate and drank everything. And then Steven suddenly yawned.

"I'm getting tired. What about you, Nick?"

"Shit, I forgot to get my mom to put out the extra mattress and blankets and stuff, we were so busy talking. Do you mind having to share, my bed's pretty large and I think we'll both fit in?"

Steven did not mind in the slightest, and indeed had been hoping and praying that this would be their sleeping arrangement. But he didn't say so out loud.

"Yeah, I guess we can try. I don't snore or thrash around too much."

"How do you know what you're like when you're asleep?"

"Well, I guess I'll have to prove it, won't I?"

"You want a shower before we go to bed?"

"Nah, tomorrow is fine. I'll just brush my teeth."

So Steven got his bag and took out his bathroom stuff and had a pee and brushed his teeth and came back into Nick's room.

"Steven, you can't sleep in your daytime clothes!"

So Steven took off his shorts and tee shirt leaving him standing in just his boxers. And Nick went into the bathroom and brushed his teeth and had a pee, and came back out in just his boxers. And, of course, Nick was wearing a pair of boxers that were identical to the ones that Steven had stolen, and immediately Steven's dick began to respond because his dick remembered how nice it was to be inside Nick's boxers, and Steven turned bright red and Nick just chuckled because he was also beginning to get hard, and he pushed Steven on to the bed so he was lying on his back and it was clear that Steven was really hard with his dick tenting up his boxers, and Nick was exactly the same and he lay down next to Steven, and turned to look at him, and then he whispered.

"Steven, um, I'm really nervous, I've never done anything with anyone before but I really want to do it with you."

"I'm pretty nervous as well, I mean I really like you and I want to do this but I don't want to do anything you don't want."

"I think I'm OK as long as we go slowly."

"How's this for a start, then?"

And Steven let his hand go down on top of the tent in Nick's boxers and very slowly and gently rubbed him up and down along the length of his dick. Nick gave a little gasp and a tiny little flinch when Steven first touched him, but then he just lay back and let Steven's hand do it's magic.

"Oooh, that feels SO good! Don't stop!"

And Steven didn't stop, but he did let his hand slip inside the waistband and feel Nick's pubes and gently grasped his hard and hot dick, and then he gently eased Nick's boxers down and slowly revealed a nice thick bush of black hair and then the base of his dick and then finally pushed the waistband down enough that Nick's dick sprang free and slapped against his stomach.

And Nick copied what Steven had done and it wasn't long before both boys were naked and gently rubbing each other's dicks.

Steven was impressed, Nick was definitely longer than he was, maybe just over five inches and a bit thicker, and he thought it was the most beautiful dick he'd ever seen so he very gently ran his fingers up and down the length, and over Nick's balls that were drawn up tight, and back to the head where there was already a bead of clear precum and he rubbed that all over the head of Nick's dick, and Nick was breathing hard and Steven sensed that however hard he tried to slow things down it wasn't going to work because Nick was ready to explode so he began to jack him off, slowly at first and then a bit quicker, and Steven felt Nick's dick get even harder and begin to swell and Nick gasped, and he arched his back, and Nick gave a loud groan and Steven felt him beginning to pulse and three long jets of cum landed on Nick's chest and stomach followed by a couple of smaller dribbles over Steven's hand and into his pubes and Nick was gasping for breath and Steven gently slowed down until he was just holding Nick in his fist and Nick turned to him and gave him a huge smile.

"Wow"

"Nice?"

"Mmmmm, yes, nice! Now, it's your turn."

And Steven lay back and let Nick start to slowly jack him off and he knew he wasn't going to last very long either because this was what he had been wanting to happen for weeks.

"Nick, wait a moment, why don't you kneel down between my legs and do it like that so I can look at your face at the same time?"

So Nick nodded and Steven opened his legs a little wider and Nick kneeled down and took Simon's rock hard dick in his fist and slowly jacked him off, and Steven looked into Nick's eyes and he began to breathe harder.

"Faster!"

So Nick speeded up a bit and Steven's dick got slippery with lots of precum and then he felt the feeling build up in his feet and start moving up his legs and he tensed up and looked at Nick and then the feeling reached his groin and he exploded and gasped and he spurted into the air and over his stomach and pubes and Nick's hand and then he had to slow Nick down by placing his hand on top of Nick's and then he gave a huge grin and laughed and he pulled Nick down on top of him and they both got covered in each others' cum and Stevens heart was still beating like a drum, and then they both slowly relaxed and snuggled up to each other and Steven realized that this was something completely different to what he'd had with Jake and about a million times better and he never wanted to move because life was perfect.

And Nick didn't pull away either, he hugged Steven even tighter and ran his hand up and down Steven's back and he loved how soft his skin felt and how perfectly they fitted together and it was like nothing he'd ever felt before, and he didn't want it to end either.

And so the two boys stayed locked together for quite a while. Nothing was said, they both just enjoyed the feel of their bodies pressed together, and the feel of their skin and they could smell each other's scent.

Some time later Steven knew he had to go and pee again, so he tried to disentangle himself and Nick wouldn't let go so Steven had to resort to tickling Nick and found Nick was really ticklish and started squirming and giggling and eventually Steven got free and ran into the bathroom and started to pee, and Nick joined him and they had a sword fight as they peed together, and then they went back to bed.

"That was fantastic, Steven, I never dreamed it could be so nice!"

"That was the best ever!"

And then Steven ducked in and gave Nick just a tiny kiss on the mouth, and Nick grabbed the back of his head and held him in the kiss, and of course they both started to get hard again and they started to move against each other and that got faster and it wasn't long before two very sticky boys were locked together and this time they did fall asleep in each others arms.

When Steven woke up the next morning he had a moment of panic as he didn't know where he was, and then he felt Nick snuggled up behind him hugging him with one arm, and Steven could feel Nick's pubes against his ass and so he pushed backwards just a little and even though Nick didn't wake Steven could feel Nick started to get a little chubby and felt Nick's dick rest gently in between his ass cheeks and he thought that felt wonderful. But he knew it was too soon to think about doing anything like that, he needed to go slowly with Nick and not scare him off or anything, so he just slowly turned around and hugged Nick and eventually Nick opened his eyes and smiled.

"Mmmmm, nice!"

And Steven just leaned over and gave Nick a little kiss of his forehead, and Nick smiled even more.

"I want to stay like this for ever!"

But things don't always work like that. And when boys who have slept really well and had quite a bit of sex as well their stomachs begin to wake up as well, and when there's a smell of bacon in the air their stomachs started growling loudly. After all, mostly what teenage boys want is sleep, sex and food, and at this moment the need for food was dominated the other two.

"Shower?"

"OK, you go first!"

"No, stupid, together!"

And although they enjoyed showering together and they both got nice and hard when they soaped each other, they didn't do anything else because the need to eat had become irresistible.

When they bounced into the kitchen, Nick's Dad looked at them both.

"Sleep well? Good. Pancakes and syrup and bacon OK for you, Steven?"

"Yes, please, Mr. Mancino!"

And the two demolished a stack of pancakes in no time at all, and Mr Mancino had to make a second batch and then the two boys were so stuffed they could hardly move.

"Dad, thanks for breakfast, Steven and I still have a lot of work to do in the yard clearing up debris and stuff, so we're going to leave you the dishes and get going."

"I see, anything to get out of your chores, right, Nick? OK, go ahead, you did a great job outside yesterday."

And they spend the morning clearing stuff up, and then after lunch Steven called his mother and asked if he could stay over because they still had yard work to complete, and Steven's mother said only if it was OK with Mr. and Mrs. Mancino and then said Steven needed to come back tomorrow morning because tomorrow was Friday and his Dad was finally taking a break from working at the hospital and planned to be home all weekend, and they needed to spend some time as a family. And school was going to open on Monday. And Steven agreed and passed his phone to Mr. Mancino who said Steven was welcome to stay another night and he told Mrs. Roberts that Steven and Nick had really worked hard and he was very pleased with them both.

After dinner the two boys went back to Nick's room and this time they did play a couple of video games because it was too early to go to sleep but eventually the need for more sex became the dominant force and it wasn't long before they were both naked on Nick's bed and just as hard as they had been the previous night.

Perhaps it's best to let the two boys learn their own way through the mysteries and wonders of sex without writing it all down in painstaking detail. However, Nick did learn that emptying himself into Steven's willing mouth felt really good, although he didn't feel quite ready to reciprocate. And they did find that having sex in the shower was fun as well, and they felt very virtuous at saving so much water by showering together. And they definitely decided that going to sleep together and waking up together was something they wanted to do as much as possible.

After breakfast Steven reluctantly let Mrs. Mancino drive him back to their house. Nick and his mother stopped in for a couple of minutes to meet Mrs. Roberts, and then they left.

"Steven, your Dad is going to come home about lunchtime. He'll probably want to sleep a bit afterwards because he's exhausted, but then I thought we'd all go out for dinner somewhere nice. Is that OK with you?"

"Yeah, that's fine. I could use a nap, I've been working pretty hard over at Nick's house and in his neighborhood."

And that's what he did, although not before he retrieved Nick's boxers from their secret hiding place and found that they hadn't lost their magic ability to make him get super hard and come pretty quickly.

When he woke up, Steven took a shower and put on some clean shorts and a white polo shirt and went downstairs. His Dad was there and they talked a little bit about their hurricane experiences, and his Dad said he was sorry he had insisted they stay and not evacuate because he realized Steven's mother had been traumatized by the whole thing.

Then the doorbell rang. Steven went to answer it, and found their neighbor Joe standing there.

"Hi, Steven, are your Mom and Dad here?"

"Um, yes, Joe, come in. Dad, this is Joe from across the street, he did lots of work with his chainsaw in clearing the road and stuff."

"Hi, I'm Joe Czarniecki, I know Steven here because he came out for two days and helped me saw branches and stack them so we could get our cars out again."

"He did, wow, that was good of you Steven! Hi, I'm Jack Roberts, thanks for dropping by!"

"Jack, your son did more work than half of the adults around here, he never stopped for a break until I insisted. He's responsible for stacking all of those branches out on this side of the street!"

Steven just looked embarrassed.

"Jack, the reason I dropped by was that tomorrow we're having a special neighborhood potluck party at the Clubhouse to celebrate surviving the hurricane and thank everyone who really worked hard to help us start to get going again. And we didn't know if you were on the mailing list or not, so I thought I'd come and invite your all personally."

"That's very kind of you, Joe, we appreciate the thought. We'd love to come. I feel bad I couldn't help the clean up but I'm glad Steven could do his share."

"Joe, my Dad spent the last six days working nonstop at the hospital and this is the first time he's been home."

"Ah, that explains why I didn't see you! Are you a doctor or something?"

"No, I'm the Head of Administration. My job is to keep the hospital running throughout a crisis like this, and I felt it best to be there in person to make sure people made the right decisions so we didn't lose power or medical supplies and we had enough doctors and nurses and all that type of thing."

"Then we'll be privileged to honor you tomorrow because the hospital did a great job, everyone says so, particularly when you had those forty seniors to help when their nursing home flooded."

"We do the best we can."

"I notice you lost the screens on your pool cage. Did you get any other damage?"

Steven butted in.

"Well, Joe, that was me that caused that damage. I read if you cut the screens before a storm you may save the cage itself, so once the wind got up to speed I went and slashed them."

"That was smart! You must be a hurricane expert!"

"Nope, first one, but I did read up on what to do beforehand."

Steven's Dad had been listening carefully. He hadn't realized quite how hard Steven had worked, and he was impressed by how easily he had made a friend among their neighbors.

"Yes, Joe, he's a smart kid, we're lucky. But it's going to be tough to get someone to fix the screens with so many pool cages damaged all over the place."

"Ordinarily, yes, it might take weeks. But because we're neighbors, and because Steven worked so hard, I'll get on to it early next week. I'm a building contractor, by the way, so I'll put you right at the top of the list. Fixing screens is easy, it's much harder when the cage is damaged."

"Wow, thanks, Joe, I'm glad I helped you!"

"No problem, kiddo! And tomorrow, when you come to the potluck you might want to bring a friend. There may be a couple of other kids your age or thereabouts, but not many."

After Joe left, Steven's Dad turned to him.

"Steven, I am super impressed with you, and really proud of what you've done. Maybe I need to spend more time with you so I can learn what it takes to be a nice person instead of an asshole like I have been."

Steven blushed, but inside he felt pretty good about himself.

"Um, Dad, can I ask a favor?"

"Oh, I see, you're cashing in on your high reputation already! No, just kidding, what is it?"

"Well, you heard Joe say I should bring a friend to the potluck in case there aren't any other kids my age coming along, so I wondered if I can bring my friend Nick along, if his parents agree, of course."

"Who's Nick? Have I met him?"

"No, Dad, you haven't. Mom met him and his Mom this morning. He's my best friend at school and I was over at his house the past couple of days helping him clear up their yard and a couple of neighbors' yards as well."

"Well, you really have been busy, haven't you!"

And so it was that Nick got dropped off at Steven's house on Saturday afternoon and he went with Steven and his parents to the potluck, and they had a great time because there were a few other kids there and they all hung out together to the point where Nick and Steven got invited to go to the movies next weekend with a couple of them. And the potluck was very successful, and they gave a special recognition to the Roberts because they were new but had helped in the clean up as much as they could, and Joe gave a special thank you to Steven's Dad for keeping the hospital running.

And of course both Steven's parents ended up drinking more that they probably should have, so Steven persuaded them to let Nick stay the night so nobody had to drive, and anyway it was the last free night before school started again.

When the two boys finally got to Steven's room they were both pretty tired so they got ready for bed fairly early. And then Steven had a wave of guilt.

"Nick, I've got a confession to make. I hope you'll forgive me!"

"What is it?"

Steven went over to his closet and fished out the pair of boxer shorts he'd stolen from Nick.

"Wow, they look just like mine!"

"Well, um, actually they are yours. I stole them when I went to check your house after the storm, so I thought I should give them back. Sorry."

"Why did you take them?"

"It's really embarrassing, Nick. You see I already knew I wanted to go to bed with you, but I never dreamed it would really happen so I took these so I'd have something of yours to keep my fantasies going."

"You dirty minded little boy, you filthy old pervert, you horrible sex maniac," said Nick, laughing his head off, "you just needed something nice and soft and sexy to jack off in, didn't you!"

"Guilty. Sorry. Here, you can have them back!"

"What? After you've filled them up with your disgusting sperms! No way, man, they're yours. I don't want them back! No, no way, Jose! But I tell you what, let's make a deal. You keep those, and I'll take a pair of yours in return, and that way I'll have something to remind me of you on all those long school nights when we can't sleep together. Now come here and get naked, we've got much more interesting things to do right now!"


Monday morning they were back at school. Mrs. Tanner called a special assembly and they prayed for people who had suffered in the storm, and then she thanked everyone who had helped out friends and neighbors, and told the students that the storm had caused some damage to the school and that several school activities might have to be cancelled or postponed until the recovery was complete.

"Finally," she said, "I've got a special request. Even though we have insurance for much of the damage from the storm, it's still going to cost the school a lot of money. So if anyone has any ideas for some fundraising activities, please, come and see me and we'll talk it over and see if we think it's a good idea. God Bless, and now let's try to get back to our normal schedule as best we can."

At the end of the school day Nick and Steven waited together for their parents to reach the head of the car line, and had a very, very quiet conversation.

"I'll miss you tonight, Steven"

"Me too. It sucks."

"I wish I could give you a big kiss right here in front of everyone in the school!"

"We'd be kicked out in no time. Mrs. Tanner would go bananas, she hates any PDAs in school, and I'm sure she hates gays but she doesn't say so."

"Yeah, whatever! Here's my Mom, see you tomorrow. FaceTime later on?"

"Sure! Bye!"

Little did Nick know that he had planted the germ of an idea in Steven's mind, and that it had started to take root. During the week the two didn't see much of each other, and they were very careful to make sure that their relationship was a deep secret. They managed to FaceTime most evenings, but they had to be careful because both sets of parents were pretty strict about how much time they could spend on phones and iPads during the week. The one thing they managed to negotiate was a sleepover at Steven's house on Friday night and a sleepover at Nick's house on Saturday night.

Steven's Dad wasn't very comfortable with all of this, but he had learned from his counseling that he mustn't try to impose his will too much on Steven, and that if his son behaved properly during the week and kept good grades at school then he needed to give him some slack at the weekends. And he liked what he had seen of Nick at the potluck party. He wasn't sure if they were boyfriends, although he rather suspected they were, but he'd also learned from the counselor that Steven would eventually be his own person and he needed space to explore who he was and what his preferences were. The counselor had been quite adamant about this: if Steven were in fact gay, then there was nothing that anyone could do to stop it. If it turned out he was just a teenager experimenting with sex with boys first before getting interested in girls later, so be it.

Friday evening saw Nick come home with Mrs. Roberts. Steven told him to bring his swimsuit because the pool cage had new screens already and the pool water was clean again. So after the obligatory snacks and sodas they splashed around in the pool for a long time. It was a bit awkward because both of them kept getting boners and they were worried Steven's Mom would see, but in the end nobody got embarrassed but the boys got pretty horny.

After a shower and putting on clean clothes, the five of them had dinner together, and during the conversation around the table it turned out that Nick's pool cage was supposed to be fixed by Joe's company but it wasn't scheduled for several weeks, so after dinner Jack called Joe and asked him a favor, and Joe agreed and immediately scheduled Nick's cage as his next job.

And after dinner the boys went upstairs, and Steven decided to see whether Nick would be on board with his new idea.

"Nick, I've got a bet I'd like to make with you!"

"You mean like Truth or Dare?"

"No, a real serious bet. Winner gets to make the loser do anything they want. No questions asked."

"Ummm, I'm not sure. I don't know you THAT well!"

"Nick, we've got nothing to hide between us after everything we've done together. You're my absolute best friend in the world, and you know I'd never do anything to hurt you, you know that. Trust me!"

"I do trust you, Steven, but you have to tell me more!"

"Sorry, Nick, all or nothing!"

Nick kept quiet for a while, and kept looking at Steven with a very puzzled look on his face. Eventually he shrugged his shoulders.

"OK. I agree. I'll do it. Tell!"

"YES!!! OK, you know how I said the other day that Mrs. Tanner would go bananas if I kissed you in front of the whole school?"

"Damned right! You'd be suspended or expelled just like that!"

"OK, here's the bet. I bet you that I can kiss you in front of the whole school, including lots of parents, and neither of us will get punished!"

"Steven, you're stupid! You'll get expelled, just like that! Oh, Jesus Christ, what have I let myself in for!"

"OK, relax Nick, here's my plan!"

And Steven laid out in detail a plan that would indeed allow him to kiss Nick in front of the whole school, including parents, and neither of them would get punished.

When Nick heard the plan he shook his head.

"You're crazy. It'll never work! But it's a very clever idea in principle. Let's talk it through!"

So they went over the plan and argued backwards and forward about this and that and whether this would work or that would work and who they could trust and who they needed to involve and suddenly it was after midnight and they hadn't realized the time was flying by. So they did a quick midnight raid of the kitchen because they hadn't eaten for several hours, and then they went to bed, and then Nick insisted they practiced kissing so that if their plan actually became reality they'd get the kissing part correct, and that led to other things and eventually they fell asleep stuck together and very happy.

On Monday morning the boys went to the school office and asked if they could meet Ms. Tanner during their lunch break.

"Come on in! Nick and Steven, it's nice to see you both! Everything OK?"

"Yes, Mrs. Tanner."

"Well, it's always nice to see students in my office who aren't here because they've done something wrong! What can I do for you?"

"Mrs. Tanner, you asked for ideas for fundraising in assembly last week, and Nick and I have come up with an idea and we wanted to run it by you to see if you might want to try it."

"OK, Steven, when it comes to fundraising I'm a very good listener. So why don't you tell me what your idea is, and I'll try not to interrupt until you've finished. Is that OK?"

"Thanks, Mrs. Tanner. Well, you know how at Halloween you have a Trunk and Treat event where people come and get candy from everyone's cars. Well, we thought seeing as you have lots of parents and kids coming for that, what we could do is have a special show right before the Trunk and Treat where we would provide some entertainment and we could charge for the show and make some money for the school."

"OK so far. What type of show do you mean? We can't afford anything fancy."

"No, it wouldn't be fancy at all, and there would be absolutely no cost to the school. We thought we'd do a modified talent show with staff and students. But most talent shows I've seen have gaps between the acts because of shifting stuff around to get ready for the next act, and the audience gets a little bored, so between acts we'd have this running comedy performance in front of the curtain involving people dressed up as different fairy tale characters. And everyone involved would be dressed in their Halloween for the Trunk and Treat so it doesn't cost anything."

Mrs. Tanner looked hard at Steven and Nick, and didn't say anything for quite a while.

"Well, I'm impressed. This actually sounds like something that might work. But I have two conditions that you have to follow. First, you have to run everything through Mrs. Gillespie. She needs to check out which acts you have in mind for the talent show and make sure the script for the comedy part of it is all good, clean, wholesome fun because we'll have lots of small children. And there'll be some adults there who don't have the same sense of humor as teenage boys. Secondly, you both need to promise that this is all above board and that there's no hidden agenda or anything. I don't want a single person in the audience to complain about anything. Is that OK?"

"That's perfect. Mrs. Tanner. I promise you there's no hidden agenda, just a way of having some fun and raising some money for the school at the same time!"


Halloween just happened to fall on a Thursday. The show was sold out, partly because parents liked to feel they got something in return for their donations to the school hurricane repair program, and partly because all the kids wanted to go to Trunk and Treat. Greed is very powerful among kids, after all.

Steven and Nick had worked out exactly how they were going to run the show. They got one of their classmates to dress as a Master of Ceremonies in a dinner jacket and bow tie. The MC explained that the purpose of the evening was to find the right man to kiss Sleeping Beauty and wake her up so they could live happily every after, but a goblin had messed up his script and so he wasn't sure who the right man was, so they had to find several different people and see who was the right one. And he asked all the young kids, who were sitting on the floor in front of the stage to yell out "Goblin" if they saw one come onto the stage because they could be very naughty.

Now, knowing what Steven and Nick had planned to do, you might think that Nick would play the part of Sleeping Beauty and Steven would be Prince Charming but you'd be wrong. Sleeping Beauty was one of the better looking girls in the school, and it was clear from looking at her that she was indeed a girl. Most of the boys had had a crush on her at one time or the other, and so there were plenty of volunteers who were willing to go and kiss her.

Steven played the role of a Wizard, and was dressed in a wizard suit they had found at Party City, covered in stars and symbols. When the MC called "Come here, Wizard!" Steven did a series of beautiful cartwheels across the stage. When instructed by the Wizard to find a suitable man to kiss Sleeping Beauty, he cartwheeled off and brought in Jack holding a beanstalk. The little kids all shouted that Jack was the wrong person, and they booed when Jack went over to Sleeping Beauty, kissed her, and nothing happened,

The MC then called for the first of the talent acts while they looked for another suitable man. The first talent act was a kid who did magic tricks, and the audience loved it because he was pretty good. He ended up juggling four oranges until disaster struck. As he focused on the oranges he heard a cry of "Goblin" come from the audience, and when the little kid dressed a goblin outfit crept up behind him and tickled him, he dropped all the oranges. The audience was roaring with laughter.

And this pattern repeated itself. During the intervals between talent acts the Wizard, showing all his gymnastic skills in doing backflips and front flips and somersaults and cartwheels and the splits as he moved about the stage, brought in Peter Pan and Mickey Mouse and Pinocchio but none of them got any response when they kissed Sleeping Beauty. The audience was in hysterics each time they matched up the wrong characters, especially the little kids who kept shouting 'Where's Prince Charming, he's the one!' and booing when Sleeping Beauty didn't wake up.

And the Goblin was very successful in messing up the talent acts, but only at the end of each act so the performers had plenty of chances to show off their skills. The Goblin threw a banana skin in front of someone doing a Michael Jackson Moonwalk so he slipped over, he crept up behind the kid playing the keyboard and started bashing out notes at random, and he pulled the plug on the karaoke lipsynch performer so she was left miming to silence.

Finally the MC was able to capture the Goblin and tied him up so he couldn't cause trouble. The Wizard bounced in together with Nick who was dressed as Prince Charming and a Fairy Godmother, who was the largest boy in the school with the hairiest legs and dressed in a little tutu. The wizard explained to the MC that he had finally found the perfect partner for Sleeping Beauty, and had brought the Fairy Godmother along because she had some Fairy Dust that she would sprinkle on Prince Charming and Sleeping Beauty before they kissed because it was guaranteed to be a long lasting love potion.

So the MC got everyone lined up properly, with Sleeping Beauty, Prince Charming and the Wizard acting as best man, and instructed the Fairy Godmother to get out the magic Fairy Dust. At which point the Goblin's identical twin brother ran onto the stage, grabbed the Fairy Dust and sprinkled it on Prince Charming and the Wizard, and Steven and Nick turned to each other, and shrugged, and locked their lips together and started to make out, and they stayed like that until finally the Fairy Godmother grabbed the Fairy Dust from the second Goblin, sprinkled it on Sleeping Beauty and Prince Charming, who switched from kissing the Wizard to kissing Sleeping Beauty and she woke up and that was the end of the performance.

The audience was roaring with laughter and gave a huge cheer and loud applause when all the actors took their bow. Mrs. Tanner got up and she was still laughing when she thanked every for a wonderful performance, and then announced that the Trunk and Treat would be starting in the parking lot.

Steven and Nick decided to skip the Trunk and Treat and make sure they got as far away from Mrs. Tanner as quickly as possible because they didn't know if they were in trouble or not. So they got their parents to take them home because it was a school night after all. They did FaceTime later on, and they agreed that they didn't know who had won the bet. It was true they'd made out in front of the whole school, but they knew they'd have to wait until the morning to see if there would be any punishment.

At mid-morning the text day the school intercom summoned Steven Roberts and Nicholas Mancino to the Principal's office. They looked despondently at each other because they really thought they'd got away with it. But they had no option and very reluctantly made their way to see Mrs. Tanner.

Steven had decided to be completely honest with Mrs. Tanner, and so he decided to try to take the initiative.

"Mrs. Tanner, I owe you an apology……"

"Steven, be quiet, let me speak first, alright? Good. First, I want to congratulate you two on an absolutely wonderful performance last night. I've had nothing but compliments from parents, and they all want something like that again next year, and in addition we made a total of $3,657 towards the hurricane repair fund. I can't thank you enough, and you should both be very proud of yourselves. You showed a huge amount of talent and creativity in putting a really funny show together! You've done the school proud and I'm trying to find a way of getting the school to recognize what you accomplished."

The two boys looked at each other with their mouths open because this was the complete opposite of what they had been expecting. They were so surprised that neither of them could say anything.

"Now, Steven, what were you going to say?"

At first Steven thought he might just say nothing but he was feeling guilty about lying and he decided to confess.

"Well, Mrs. Tanner, umm, it's this. You know when we came and got your permission to do the show? Well, we promised it would be all good clean fun and there wasn't any hidden agenda of anything?"

"No, you did a wonderful job because it was perfect for the smaller kids. Nobody has said anything bad at all. So why are you apologizing?"

"Well, we're worried we'd upset people when, ummm, me and Nick started kissing and making out."

"No, everyone thought that was very funny and it fitted with the rest of the stuff your Goblin was doing. Or Goblins. No problem! Especially because it ended up with Sleeping Beauty and Prince Charming getting together just like the fairy tale. So what's wrong?"

Steven took a deep breath, and he looked Mrs. Tanner straight in the eyes.

"Well, you see, Mrs. Tanner, we lied to you about there being no hidden agenda. Nick and I had a bet going that we could kiss and make out in front of the whole school and parents, and that we wouldn't get punished for a PDA. So we designed the show to let us be able to do that."

Mrs. Tanner didn't say anything for a long time. She just looked at the two very embarrassed boys who seemed to find looking at their shoes the most interesting thing in the world. Finally she told them to look at her.

"Steven, Nick, are you telling me that the whole show was designed to let the two of you kiss each other in public?"

"Yes, Mrs. Tanner."

"Why on earth would you do that?"

"Mrs. Tanner, we're boyfriends and we wanted to show each other that we would risk a lot of punishment as a way of telling each other how we felt about each other. I'm sorry."

There was another long silence.

"I've got one last question, Steven, before I decide what to do about you. How many people knew what was going on?"

"None."

"NONE? How's that possible? Surely everybody must have known."

"No, Mrs. Tanner. We told Juan, the second goblin, right at the last minute to disrupt the wedding scene by throwing Fairy Dust on me and Nick, but he didn't know what we were planning until just before he came on, just that he was part of a new joke we'd thought up. In rehearsal we just had the goblin throw the Fairy Dust on Prince Charming and Sleeping Beauty, so during the performance everyone thought it was just going to be the normal ending we'd rehearsed. So, no, nobody else knew."

"OK, if you say so. I'll believe you. But I still can't believe you two showed so much creativity just so you could kiss in public. Now, sit still until I decide what to do with you both."

Mrs. Tanner sat back, looked at the two boys and thought long and hard.

"OK, I've decided what to do. Steven Nick, I am impressed by your honesty about lying to me. I don't like lying but you confessed and apologized before anyone found out, so that's to your credit. And you did show each other that you were prepared to be punished for breaking school rules. Now, are you willing to do two things for me?"

"Yes, Mrs. Tanner."

"Very well. First, you must never every mention this discussion to anyone: staff, students, parents, nobody. It's a secret and it stays a secret. Can you agree to that?"

"Yes, Mrs. Tanner."

"Second, I'm very strict about couples showing Personal Displays of Affection in school, and while it's difficult for students, by and large they follow the rules. It's even more difficult for me when it's two boys because then all sorts of other issues come up, and the priests and parents get their say and I don't want that. A lot of people would want gays kicked out of school. I know some people think I'm anti-gay, but that's not true. I'm just trying to make sure we don't create a huge storm. And, for you two, that means I'm trying to protect you, not telling you I'm opposed to you being boyfriends. If you are boyfriends, that's fine, but please not on school property. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Mrs. Tanner. Thank you."

"Steven, you've been through two huge storms already this year, and both times you were in the eye of that storm and it caused you a lot of problems. First, when your parents told you that you were moving to Florida, and then in the hurricane. You don't need to be in the eye of a third storm, because if anybody ever finds out what you did last night there'd be a huge storm and I'm not sure I could protect you."

"Thanks, Mrs. Tanner, I'm very grateful and we'll both keep our mouths shut."

"OK. I accept your apology. Now, sit here, don't move, don't talk, and I'll be back in a moment!"

Mrs. Tanner left the room, the boys looked at each other with puzzled expressions and just shrugged their shoulders. Then the school intercom came on.

"This is Mrs. Tanner. I've got a special announcement to make. I'm so pleased with yesterday's talent show and performance that I've decided to cancel the last class this afternoon and we'll meet in the cafeteria at 2:15 for an ice-cream party in honor of Steven and Nick for putting together yesterday's performance. Thank you."

The boys looked at each other in amazement and could hear cheers coming from students all over the school.

"We did it!"

Mrs. Tanner returned, carefully closed the door behind her and looked at the two grinning boys.

"Now, both of you remember what you promised. Steven, Nick, good luck, life may be difficult for you because you're a couple, but if anyone gives you any trouble because of it, come and see me first, and they'll have to come through me to get at you. Now get back to class!"

"Thanks, Mrs. Tanner!"

And they high-fived her and went back to class with huge smiles on their faces, and their classmates gave a huge cheer when they walked in.


That evening their sleepover was at Steven's house. Steven's parents were still excited by the performance that Steven and Nick had put on that there was absolutely no tension in the house at all. Steven's Dad looked at them both.

"Mom and I are so proud of you both. Steven, Nick, I thought tomorrow I'd teach you boys how to jetski. Would you like that?

"Wow, yeah, Dad, that's great! But aren't you playing golf tomorrow?"

"No, I pulled out because I want to spend more time with you, Steven. And Nick, I feel you're part of our family as well, so I want to get to know you better as well."

Steven leapt up and gave his Dad a huge hug, and then Nick joined in, and you could just sense that there was a lot of joy and happiness in the air.

Later, when the boys were in Steven's room, Nick looked hard at Steven.

"Well, you won the bet! We made out in front of everyone and we didn't get punished. I couldn't believe how nice Mrs. Tanner was to us, and then promising to look out for us if anyone gave us any trouble!"

"Yeah, we did just fine. But I'm never going to do anything that might piss her off because I guess she can be pretty hard on kids who disobey her."

"I agree. Never piss off the Principal!"

Then Nick looked very hard at Steven, with a slightly worried look on his face.

"OK, winner of the make-out bet, what are you going to make me do as the sorry loser?"

"Hmmm, yes, I've thinking hard about that and finally I decided what I'm going to make you do. I don't know if you're going to like it because you've never had to do it before, but I'm determined to make you go through with it!"

"Uh oh, what do I have to do? Now you've got me nervous!"

"Nicholas Mancino, you are going to do something for me that I've wanted for a long time and I've chosen you to be the person to do it because I care about you more than anyone in the whole world and always will. We're going to go to bed together and I'm going to let you be the first person ever to make love to me because more than anything I want to feel you inside me."

And that's what they did. After a couple of false starts and a little pain for Steven because Nick was so big, the two of them got into a rhythm and Steven thought it was the greatest thing he'd ever experienced, and it was everything he'd dreamt of, and they starting moving together like they were one person, and then Nick started breathing really hard and he started gasping and moving quicker and Steven pulled him as far as he could and then Nick went almost rigid and gave a loud cry and emptied himself inside Steven, and Steven felt Nick's dick pulsing inside him so came at the same time, and then they lay joined together, breathing heavily, and Steven felt totally at peace with the world. There were no storms on the horizon, he'd made peace with his family, he'd become popular at school, he'd made friends in the neighborhood, but above and beyond all that, he was completely and totally in love. Life couldn't be better.

The End

Voting

This story is part of the 2018 story challenge "Inspired by a Picture: Empty Shoes". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 31 October to 21 November 2018 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 challenge home page.

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

2018 Inspired by a Picture Challenge - What?

The Eye of the Storm

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I will seek this author's work out
It grabbed my attention early on
I had to know what happened
I identified with at least one of the cast
Gritty - it had an edge to it
Realistic - it could have happened that way
I found it hard to follow
Good characterisation
I feel better for having read it
It was romantic
It was erotic
Too much explicit sex
It had the right amount of sex, if there was any
Not enough explicit sex
I have read and enjoyed other work by this author
It was true to the picture


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