A Blush of Boys
by Jolyon Lewes
Bruno wasn't used to drinking alcohol and it didn't take him long to fall asleep. Yes, he'd been badly humiliated by the appalling Jake but the others had come to his rescue when Jake had been exposed for indecently fondling him. Jake had then been expelled from the party and the girls who'd thought they fancied him would never speak to him again. Instead of feeling sorry for himself Bruno pitied Malcolm, who'd tried to be such a good host but had ended up angry and disappointed. Bruno lay wondering if Malcolm would pop in to kiss him goodnight but he could hear him and his mum at the washing up and gave up trying to stay awake. His last thoughts were of Malcolm. He dreamt that Malcolm came and stood beside him in the dark and then kissed him goodnight.
Malcolm awoke early and was beset by a confusing pile of thoughts. First was Bruno, whose tiny grey shorts had inevitably been a source of embarrassment from the word go and whose self-consciousness had been exacerbated by Jake's vile behaviour. Malcolm had had no idea Jake was one of the boys who preyed on Bruno at school, teasing him for his bare legs and forever sticking their hands up his shorts to touch his private parts. Jake had been dealt with but what about Robin? Was he flirting with Bruno and did Bruno like it? Malcolm would be devastated if he lost Bruno to Robin. He again found himself crying softly.
Later, Malcolm took a cup of tea up to Bruno and found him still asleep.
"Morning, sleepyhead, I've brought you some tea."
"Ah, Malcolm, thank you," said Bruno, rubbing his eyes and sitting up in bed. He smiled sweetly at Malcolm.
"Hell," said Malcolm, "I'm so sorry about last night! If I'd known Jake was one of your bullies I'd never have let him in. Did you sleep OK? I was so angry I hardly slept at all."
"Yeah, I slept like a log. Must've been the wine. You needn't be angry. Wasn't your fault. At least the others were nice. Well, I mean, Robin and Emily were."
Malcolm felt lead in his tummy. "Yes, quite nice. You seemed to be getting on well with Robin."
"Oh, yes," said Bruno. "He's really nice. I hope I'll be seeing more of him ..."
Malcolm's face must have revealed his fears for Bruno added "I mean I hope we both see more of him. Did you know he plays the cello?"
"No - I didn't. So you were talking about music, were you?"
"Yeah - what d'you think we were talking about?"
"Oh, it doesn't matter," said Malcolm, feeling mightily relieved. He saw Bruno's leg stick out from under the duvet. A pyjama-clad leg. Smiling at last, he said "So you do have long trousers after all"
"Yeah," said Bruno, with a little self-conscious laugh. "The only time I get to wear long trousers is when I'm bloody well in bed! Work out the logic in that!"
The crisis was over - Malcolm was no longer jealous of Robin.
"Mum's making a nice breakfast and your dad's coming for you at eleven, isn't he?" Bruno nodded. "So let's make the most of the weekend - how about some practice this afternoon, if your dad'll let us have the piano?"
"I thought you'd never ask," said Bruno. "We've got to practise that Malcolm Arnold. Look, I'd better nip to the bathroom. Then I'll get dressed. Guess what I'll be wearing today!"
Malcolm blushed but it was a comfortable sort of blush. It seemed relations hadn't been upset by events the night before. "Can I guess? Will it be blazer and prickly grey shorts again?"
"Could be," said Bruno, with a sad smile and a little wink.
Malcolm cycled over to the Perrys on Saturday afternoon and the two boys practised their piano duets, under the guidance of Bruno's father. Malcolm Arnold's English Dances, Set 1.
"Don't be afraid to be quite punchy when necessary," said Mr Perry. "The keyboard can take it, so don't worry. I think the audience will notice the contrast with the more gentle Elgar and, of course, with the Fauré you're doing at the end."
"An audience of school kids?" said Bruno.
"Yes," said his father. "You'd be surprised and in any case there'll be grown-ups there who know a bit about music."
Over tea, Bruno mentioned Robin. "He's in the Sixth Form at his school so he's your age and he's going for Grade Eight on cello next term so he must be good. Maybe we could form a trio some time."
"Yes," said Malcolm, without enthusiasm.
"All that can wait," said Mr Perry, and Malcolm nodded in agreement. "First we've got to get you two youngsters ready for the concert. Can you come here again tomorrow, Malcolm?"
"Yes, of course, sir," said Malcolm, pleased to see Bruno was smiling happily at this response. Rather to Malcolm's relief, Bruno had worn some cord shorts all afternoon; they reached almost halfway down his thighs so there hadn't been too many visual distractions for Malcolm, apart from the times when on the duet stool physical contact had been made, sending both boys into private, secret spasms of delight, hastily concealed because Mr Perry was watching.
"For God's sake be careful on your bike," said Bruno when it was time for Malcolm to cycle home. "Extra careful, cos it's dark now. Ring me when you're home."
Malcolm pedalled home with a smile on his handsome face, no longer worried that Robin posed a serious threat to his friendship with Bruno. He remembered to phone Bruno, who went to bed thinking Malcolm was still the sexiest boy alive. Keen to articulate his feelings in the only physical way he could, he grabbed a fistful of tissues and snuggled under the duvet.
The next day was Sunday and Malcolm went over for more practice with Bruno, who was once again in his tiny grey shorts, which he'd had to wear for church. Malcolm studiously tried to avoid seeing if Bruno's bottom was showing and concentrated hard on the music. By mid-afternoon their programme was coming together. Bruno had his violin and they practised the Elgar Chanson du Matin and were moderately satisfied. The Dolly Suite they were happy with but the English Dances needed a few more sessions. But all work and no play make Jack a dull boy and after Bruno's parents had obligingly gone out Bruno shot upstairs to swap his prickly grey shorts for a much more comfortable pair of shorts, in green corduroy. He asked Malcolm if he'd like to hear the Erik Satie CD Malcolm had bought him for his birthday.
"Let's play this bit first," said Bruno, eyes gleaming as he selected Gymnopédie Nos 1 - 3. He watched Malcolm carefully as the music played. "Wasn't that fantastic?" he said when the first piece had finished.
"Yeah," murmured Malcolm. "Really cool and sort of sexy." He looked over at Bruno, who'd reclined on the sofa, allowing his cord shorts to expose a lot of thigh. Malcolm went and sat beside him.
The other two tracks played and the boys lay back, not touching, staring at the ceiling. "Did you like those limpid cadences?" asked Bruno.
"Here, read the notes," said Bruno."I'll put it on pause."
"So, it's all about naked youths, having a dance ..." said Malcolm, a minute or two later. "Can I hear it again?"
After the second hearing, Malcolm said "I think I can see what it means. It does sound a bit sexy? D'you think it sounds sexy?"
Bruno didn't answer but stood up and faced Malcolm, his arms apart.
"Hell! D'you think we should?" cried Malcolm. "S'pose your parents get back?"
"Come on," said Bruno.
Malcolm stood up and slowly approached Bruno. He was very nervous.
"Hang on," said Bruno, "I'll just take it off pause."
Arms around each other and tummies pressed together, Malcolm and Bruno moved slowly to the music. Malcolm rested his chin on Bruno's shoulder and soon felt Bruno's soft cheek pressed against his. Their feet were hardly moving - the dance was slow and sedate and Malcolm could feel Bruno's erection pressing on the front of his left thigh. He let his hands move down until they were holding Bruno's slender waist. Then he felt Bruno's hands moving down but they went a little lower and Malcolm found his bottom held firmly, a hand at the top of each buttock. He'd never had anyone hold him like that and his first instinct was to say something romantic but he settled for something flippant.
"You know, Bruno, you're the coolest kid in Christendom!"
"Ha ha, very alliterative!"
"Very what?" said Malcolm.
"Alliterative. A bit like a blush of boys,"
"I don't get you."
"Never mind, Malcolm, just listen to the music."
A fuzzy feeling enveloped Malcolm and he wondered if Bruno could feel his stiff cock pressing into his tummy button. The fuzzy feeling was the closest Malcolm had ever been to ecstasy. This was so much better than a wank! He moved his hands down until they were holding Bruno's lovely bottom. The green corduroy felt so soft and the bottom so firm. Malcolm closed his eyes and moved gently with Bruno.
Then he heard Bruno say "I wish you'd wear those denim cut-offs your Mum made for you."
Malcolm grunted. Then he felt Bruno's lips close on his cheek and give it a little kiss.
Malcolm opened his eyes and pushed himself away from Bruno. "Stop! We mustn't do this! It's not right - I'm so much older than you!"
"Only sixteen months," said Bruno, looking very upset. "And I thought you liked me."
"I do! I do! But we've got to be careful . I don't want to be like Jake and all the others!"
"You're not like them. I love you!"
"Oh God!" said Malcolm. "You love me? I think I sort of love you too but I shouldn't and anyway we mustn't do this! Look, I'd better go now and we can practise tomorrow, in school."
Malcolm fussed about looking for his music scores and a downcast-looking Bruno put the music on pause. "Well," he said, sadly, "please don't have another accident on your bike."
"I won't," said Malcolm. "Look, Bruno, you're my best friend ever but we mustn't spoil things and we've got to be professional about this bloody concert!"
That evening, Malcolm couldn't stop thinking about the concert, which was to take place in three days. He knew most of the performers would be dressed for the part, in trendy modern gear or some kind of costume appropriate to the role. The choir of the youngest boys would be in school uniform and even they would be in long trousers, leaving only Bruno to be dressed, as he'd said, like an eight-year-old. Malcolm thought again about what his mother had said about showing solidarity with Bruno. He knew Bruno's mother wouldn't countenance her son borrowing a pair of Malcolm's long trousers. As if reading his mind, Malcolm's mother had a question.
"Would you like to wear your suit for the concert, darling, or is it to be school uniform?"
"School uniform, Mum. Blazer and trousers."
"And does Bruno wear those little grey shorts at school? I'd have thought he's a bit old for that sort of thing."
"Yes, Mum," said Malcolm, feeling uncomfortable. "That's what he wears every day so that's what he'll be wearing for the concert."
"Poor little mite," said Malcolm's mother, quietly.
Malcolm changed the subject by offering to make a cup of tea and then he went into the kitchen. 'Mum's right,' he thought. 'Bruno is a poor little mite. And I love him to bits.' In bed, he thought and thought about Bruno and whether there was any kind of hidden meaning to what his Mum had said. Then, his whole body tingling, he had an idea.
Next afternoon he mentioned his idea to Bruno before their practice session. "I want us to look the same at the concert. I want to borrow a pair of your shorts."
Bruno stared incredulously at his friend. "Are you serious? You want to look as stupid as me? "
"You don't look stupid, Bruno but you do look vulnerable and self-conscious and I want to look the same. It's called solidarity!"
Bruno could hardly believe Malcolm meant what he was saying but gladly offered to lend him a pair of his shorts, complete with sewn-on braces.
"If you really mean this it'll make my day! I think you'd better have the longest pair but your boxers will still show so you'll have to wear briefs."
"Haven't got any," said Malcolm, suddenly wishing he'd never had such a stupid idea. "I'll have to use my jockstrap. No, that would be horrible - I'll buy some briefs."
Bruno was in high spirits throughout the ensuing practice session but the more Malcolm thought about his idea the sillier it seemed yet he couldn't change his mind without dashing Bruno's mood. As he parted from Bruno after the practice he remembered something else. "Can I borrow a pair of your long socks as well?"
That night, while Bruno was enjoying the juiciest Malcolm-dreams he'd ever had, Malcolm was lying in bed, unable to sleep because he had a bad tummy-ache, brought on by the prospect of wearing Bruno's grey shorts on-stage in front of hundreds of people, again. He knew Bruno would be mightily disappointed if he changed his mind so he forced himself to regard solidarity with Bruno as more important than half an hour of self-consciousness, however extreme. He decided to visit Marks and Spencer next day to buy some briefs. Then he remembered his denim cut-offs. He got out of bed and found them on a shelf in his wardrobe. When he held them up they looked tinier than ever and he realised he could never use boxers with them; it would have to be briefs and not very big ones at that. 'I'll have to buy at least two pairs of briefs,' he thought, putting his denim cut-offs back and tucking them under some shirts so he wouldn't have to see them.
Next day Malcolm nipped out at lunchtime and went to the menswear department in Marks and Spencer. He'd worn boxers since he was ten and was surprised to see the styles and colours of briefs on sale. It was a perfectly normal thing for a young man to buy underwear but as he took three pairs of very skimpy briefs to the desk he was blushing, as if everyone knew why he was buying them. It was now just 24 hours to the concert and there was time for one last practice with Bruno, after school. Afterwards they sat side by side on the duet stool.
"This time tomorrow it'll all be over," said Bruno. "Are you still sure about ..."
"Wearing your shorts? Yes I am but only for the actual performance. I'll put 'em on just before and take 'em off as soon as we're off the stage. Could you bring 'em to school tomorrow - and the long socks? And for God's sake don't let anyone know!"
"Why - are you ashamed to look like me?" said Bruno, his face looking sad. He stood up and stepped back a couple of paces, turning to face Malcolm. He began to scratch the top of his left thigh and in raising the leg of his shorts inadvertently gave Malcolm a glimpse of his briefs. Today they were royal blue.
"No, course not! I'd like to look like you - in an all sorts of ways - but tomorrow's going to be so bloody public, isn't it?"
"So you'll get an idea of what it's like for me, every day," said Bruno, looking at the floor.
"Yes and I won't let you down. I've even got some pants the same colour as yours! I'll wear 'em tomorrow."
"How d'you know what colour my pants are?"
"Saw 'em when you got off the stool just now and had a scratch," said Malcolm, aware that he'd embarrassed Bruno. "Just a glimpse, mind. Nice shade of blue!"
Bruno was blushing. Looking round to see if anyone was about, Malcolm stood and went over to him and put his arm round his shoulder.
"Look, my little B, we're going to be good tomorrow. The music is what's important and we'll show 'em!"
Malcolm was totally unconvinced of what he'd just said but it seemed to cheer up Bruno who smiled shyly and Malcolm held him a little tighter.
"To me," said Bruno in his quietest little voice, "our friendship is even more important than the music."
At this Malcolm's eyes filled with tears. He let go of Bruno and looked away, saying "Yeah, it is. But look - your dad'll be ready to take you home so off you go and I'll see you tomorrow straight after lunch. And don't forget to bring you-know-what!"
"Maybe you'd prefer it if I did forget," said Bruno.
"No. In for a penny, in for a pound. Bring the bloody things! And the socks!"
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