Noel's Christmas Surprise

by Jolyon Lewes

Noel Thornton was dead jealous of his best friend Terry. Terry went to a boarding school where the boys were often caned. Now don't get me wrong - Noel wasn't jealous of the canings – he was jealous because Terry's school sounded so much more interesting than the run-of-the mill, co-educational day-school on an especially flat part of Lincolnshire where Noel had been a pupil for the past two years. Nothing happened there - nobody even got caned - whereas Terry's school life was packed with thrilling adventures, or so he said. But most of all, Noel was jealous of Terry simply because he was Terry. Fit, strong and sporty, Terry looked magnificent. Noel was hopeless at sports and considered himself skinny and not remotely good-looking.

When Noel said Terry was his best friend it wasn't quite true, as he hardly ever saw him and they didn't exactly know each other. But he wanted him to be his best friend. You see, Terry was very good-looking. Noel knew he wasn't supposed to find boys good-looking but he couldn't help it. There was a nice-looking but rather shy boy in his class called Roy, the sight of whom in PE kit got Noel's willy rock-hard. This was extremely embarrassing if Noel happened to be in PE kit too, because in those days boys weren't allowed to wear anything under their PE shorts. At that time shorts were getting shorter and shorter and for some reason Roy's latest were shortest of all. He often told Noel he wished they were much longer. That got Noel's willy rigid in less than two seconds.

Terry was even better-looking than Roy. Noel hadn't yet seen him in PE kit but he once saw him in khaki shorts that stopped halfway down his thighs and could see little hairs on his legs. He'd love to have seen him in PE shorts as wickedly brief as Roy's.

Noel tried to get hard thinking about girls but it just didn't happen and God knows, he tried really hard. A lifetime of being forced to listen to his father's sermons had convinced him he must grow to like girls and to marry one but it just wasn't in his nature. That was his secret. Nobody else knew how he felt. His father kept asking him about girlfriends but he said he was too busy with schoolwork to have a girlfriend.

His father had very strong views about everything. He was a Church of England chaplain in the Royal Air Force. The Thorntons had lived on a V-bomber base in Lincolnshire for two years and Noel went to school in the bus that operated from the RAF base. All the other kids knew he was the chaplain's son and tended to keep their distance, not because he looked particularly odd but because of his father's reputation as a fire-and-brimstone preacher. Hardly any kids stayed long at the Sunday School he ran, because he told them stories which frightened them and shouted at them if they fidgeted. Noel and his little brother Alaric knew the stories backwards and were no longer frightened.

Alaric was a hole-in-the-heart baby and had always been treated with care. He never got smacked, even when he was naughty but his father compensated for it with Noel. He'd slippered Noel for many years and that's a good reason why Noel wasn't jealous of Terry being caned at his boarding school – Noel got the slipper at home!

It was difficult to make friends on the air base because thanks to his father Noel was something of a laughing stock. It's because Noel's father made him attend Sunday School. Now you might be wondering what a boy of his age was doing going to Sunday School. It's kids of infant school age who go to Sunday Schools. But as the son of the chaplain Noel had to go along to help keep order and to hand out stamps that kids would stick in little books to show their parents they'd attended. Noel was an unpaid teaching assistant, for heaven's sake. And on top of that he had to wear Scouts uniform.


When the Thorntons arrived at the base Noel was fourteen and his father decided he had to join the Scouts and it was an RAF base so that meant Air Scouts. Noel wasn't against Scouts in principle but instead of having nice cotton shorts like the ordinary Scouts, Air Scouts had baggy, dark blue shorts made of horribly coarse wool which was unbelievably itchy. It might have been bearable if, like the rest of the troop, he had to dress as an Air Scout only for two hours on Friday evenings but every Sunday Father made him put on his uniform before breakfast, go to church in it and stay in it till well after lunch. Poor Noel was constantly scratching his thighs to try to relieve the itching.

He hated Sundays. Despite his father's encouragement, few other RAF personnel made their sons wear Scouts uniform for church, so Noel was usually one of just three or four Scouts present and of course they always had to hand out the books and take the collection. So, what's the problem, I hear you ask. Well, one Sunday morning after Noel had been an Air Scout over a year, he threw a tantrum and said he wasn't going to wear those fiendishly uncomfortable shorts any more. They itched mercilessly and made the inside of his thighs raw and he'd had enough. It was almost time for church but Noel's father began to lecture him on having a sense of duty, reminding him of the Scouts' oath to God and the Queen and telling him he should be thankful he was an Air Scout.

"Think of the boys, like poor Alaric here, who aren't well enough to take part in activities like Scouting!"

Noel could see the blood vessel in his father's neck pulsing away. It did that whenever he was shouting at his son. But Alaric, who always took Noel's side, began to cry.

"You selfish youth!" yelled Noel's father. "Look what you've done to Alaric! If it wasn't time for church I'd teach you a lesson you wouldn't forget!"

He glared at Noel, his face going redder and redder.

"Right! You've made me late for the service! Get yourself to church – NOW!"

They weren't late for the service, of course. Some of the congregation probably wondered why Noel looked even more miserable than usual. Yet worse was to come. After lunch he went upstairs to get out of his hated uniform then went for a cycle ride to get away from home. Later, at tea time, his father said his shorts would no longer cause him discomfort so he'd no longer have grounds for complaint.

Imagine Noel's horror when he saw what had happened – his mother had drastically shortened the shorts! It would have been embarrassing at fourteen but can you think what it was like at nearly sixteen? He'd shot up and stood at five foot nine inches tall. The wretched shorts reached only an inch below the top of his thighs! And, of course, the remaining material still itched like mad.

The Scout Leader seemed quite unconcerned when Noel turned up with drastically shortened shorts but of course the other boys laughed like hell and he was the butt of countless jokes. It didn't help that Noel was now a Senior Scout and was entitled to long trousers. Alone among his contemporaries Noel was in shorts - and ludicrously brief ones. Friday evenings now became hell. He became known as Sexy-legs Thornton.

Let's return to the topic of Sunday School. It took place in the church hall at two thirty on the second and fourth Sundays of the month and, as I've said, Noel was required to be there, and in his Air Scouts uniform. He had to get the kids sitting cross-legged in orderly rows ready for his father's arrival. Then Noel would have to sit facing the children, also on the floor and cross-legged. He was to note the name of any child not paying attention to his father's lengthy talks and that child would not be given an attendance stamp. Most of the kids sat quietly but they weren't paying attention to the scriptures - they were staring up Noel's tiny little shorts. Can you imagine how humiliating it was to have boys and girls five or even eight years younger than you blatantly studying your long, bare legs? He couldn't help scratching where the material tortured his skin so his fingers were often inside his shorts, scratching away at his hips and bottom. Can you imagine how demeaning it was for Noel when a smirking boy of, say, eleven sidled up afterwards to say he could see his bare bum?

By the time Noel was sixteen these Sunday School sessions were too humiliating for words. He just sat there, staring at the floor, hugging his knees and in a permanent state of blushing. How he hated his father.


Well, we'd better get back to Terry. He was unaware – hoped Noel – of what went on at Sunday School. His family moved to the base when Noel had just turned sixteen and lived in the biggest house because his father was the Station Commander and therefore Noel's father's boss. Of course if you asked Noel's father he'd have said "God is my commanding officer."

It was interesting to see Noel's father constantly trying to please Terry's father. Noel's parents always invited a few officers back after church and Terry's parents were always first to be asked. It's odd how no NCOs or airmen were ever invited back, despite forming the vast majority of the congregation. Noel's father was a terrible snob. Noel would perform his duty of handing round crisps and saw people looking at his bare legs. Far worse were the little children who'd get curious and it wasn't unusual for Noel to feel a small hand touching his thigh and sneaking inside his shorts to tickle his bottom. It was so humiliating!

It was at one of these cringingly awful drinks sessions that Noel first became aware of Terry who was home from boarding school and in his smart school uniform. Dashing and confident, he looked completely at ease, in total contrast to poor Noel. As Terry moved about the room, it was as if sunbeams followed him, bathing him in golden light. Noel saw him frown as he inspected the object hanging over the fireplace; it was the sword of honour Noel's father had won at the RAF College. Noel wondered if Terry shared his view that a sword, even a ceremonial one, isn't what you'd expect a man of God to display so ostentatiously.

Noel wanted to meet Terry but why would Terry want to meet a freak like him? Noel saw him casting looks in his direction and at one point their eyes met but then, without warning, an obnoxious little boy thrust his fingers inside Noel's viciously truncated shorts and the moment was lost.

Noel saw Terry a couple of times the next week but not to speak to. Once he was washing his father's car and that was when he'd been in khaki shorts. He was so handsome! The next Sunday Terry gave Noel a little smile in church when he passed him while taking the collection. At the subsequent drinks party he made a beeline for Noel.

"Ah, the padre's son," he said, offering his right hand. His handshake was firm and warm and his blue eyes looked right into Noel's. "I'm Terry."

"Noel Thornton," said Noel, his mouth dry with apprehension. Terry looked surprised. "It's because I was born on Christmas Day," added Noel.

"Yeah, I can guess that. It's just that you're older than I thought. Your voice – it's – um – more grown up than I expected." He must have expected Noel's voice not to have broken.

"I'm sixteen," said Noel, feeling himself blush.

"Crikey!" said Terry. "So you're seventeen on Christmas Day. I'll be seventeen in October!" He put his hand on Noel's arm. "Let me help you hand round these crisps and things and we can chat."

They discovered they both hoped to join the Sixth Form to study sciences, both liked cycling and both enjoyed pop music. Noel said his father didn't let him play pop music so Terry said they could go to his house.

"I've got a record player in my bedroom!" he said, his eyes bright with joy. Then his parents told him they were leaving so he had to go. His face fell.

"Oh, hell," he said. "I forgot – I'm going away for a month – to Belize – but I'm back first week in September. Will you come for Sunday lunch with us? Then we can play music all afternoon!"

Noel said he'd love to and then Terry had to go. They seemed to have become friends.

As Terry left, he said "See you next month, I.A.S!" He suddenly blushed and added "Noel, I mean ..."

For the next month Noel thought about Terry constantly. He wondered what he'd meant by I.A.S. Maybe it was some kind of jargon he used at school. The summer holiday dragged on. No Scouts on Fridays during August as most people were away but he was in his uniform every Sunday as usual and handing out crisps after church and every fortnight going through the agony of Sunday School. The lunchtime drinks sessions seemed empty without Terry and Noel concentrated on fending off those children intent on pulling his willy out of his shorts. Just another humiliating experience in his miserable life.

To make it even more miserable, Noel's father had recently begun clamping down on what he called 'spilling seed.' In other words he lectured Noel on the crime of having wet dreams. Without ever explaining anything he just told him that every time he stained his bed sheets he was insulting God. It's not as if poor Noel did it on purpose! The lectures grew more violent if any stains were found on Noel's underpants because it was assumed he'd done it while awake and therefore fully conscious of the sin he was committing.

When Terry'd been away about a fortnight Noel went for a long walk and had a fabulous daydream about him taking him away for a camping holiday, just the two of them. His willy was rock-hard. Suddenly he had to dive onto the grass and fumble with his willy and before he knew it, not only his underpants but also his trousers were warm and sticky. If nothing else, it made walking rather awkward. As he stole up to his bedroom his father ambushed him and demanded to inspect his underwear. Seeing the sticky mess he asked him if he'd been with a girl and when he said no he really blew his top. He made him take off his soiled clothing and everything else and gave him a slippering, right there on the landing. Alaric came and tried to stick up for him but was ignored. Noel was naked and ashamed and crying with the pain and he had to spend the rest of the day in his room. Dear Alaric smuggled in some food; he had no idea what Noel had done that was so evil. Needless to say, Noel's father's terror tactics made Noel think of Terry even more. Why was he being punished so brutally for doing what comes naturally?


At last, August was over and Terry would soon be home. Would he remember Noel? He didn't call round to see him and by Sunday Noel had convinced himself he'd forgotten all about him. It was a very miserable Noel who climbed into his hated Air Scouts uniform that morning and waited to go to church. At 10.45 he was handing out the books, feeling totally empty. Where was Terry? 10.55: the organ burst into life. Still no Terry. 11.00: Noel's father was standing at the vestry door. 11.01: glorious news! Terry and his parents entered and walked quickly to their reserved pew at the front. Terry's eyes met Noel's and as he passed he gave his arm a little squeeze. The service began but Noel wasn't paying attention – he was just staring at the golden-haired boy six rows in front. He was in Heaven!

At the end of the service Terry's family walked out first, as was their privilege, and Terry managed to whisper "OK for lunch?" to Noel as he walked past. Noel nodded vigorously. At the drinks session this time Noel was walking on air, for once ignoring the lascivious looks he was getting. Before the end he told his mother he was nipping upstairs to get changed.

"Not so fast, Noel!" It was his father. "You go to lunch at Group Captain Walpole's in your Scouts uniform. You're still on parade, boy!"

Noel's heart sank but Terry, who was standing beside him, didn't seem at all put out. Smiling broadly, he said "Come as you are, I.A.S! I like you in that uniform!"

Despite his importance, Terry's father was really nice and offered Noel a glass of shandy. He asked him about his school and what he hoped to do in life. "Your father's applied for a Far East posting, as I expect you know," he said. "Will you go there with him or board somewhere in England?"

Noel had no answer as his father never told him his plans. Terry leapt in and said "It'd be good if Noel could come to my school, Dad! I'm sure he'd like it there!"

Noel was sure he'd like it there, too, so long as he had Terry as his friend. The conversation changed direction and lunch was taken. It was strange for Noel to be able to start eating straightaway and not have to listen to his father intoning grace while the meat cooled and the gravy congealed. This was dining in the twentieth century! Terry's father kept everyone amused with his flying stories and when the meal was over Noel thanked everyone and hoped now would be the time Terry would invite him to his bedroom to listen to pop music. It was.

In his room Terry put on a Rolling Stones album and took off his suit. At last Noel was able to see his nearly naked body. After Belize, Terry was well-tanned and that included his legs, almost to the top. He looked fabulous! He hung around in just his underwear and then put on jeans and a casual shirt. Noel had never even worn jeans, let alone owned any. Terry showed him his record collection and then sat on his bed, patting the bed to show Noel where to sit. Noel had never sat on another boy's bed before – apart from Alaric's – and it was strange. No, it was nice! Very nice! They chatted about music and all sorts of things.

Terry wanted to go to the toilet; as he got up he put a hand on Noel's bare thigh to lever himself up. Noel felt a thrill through his whole body, a cross between a shiver and an electric shock. It looked as though Terry had an erection but he was quickly out of the door and Noel couldn't be sure. While he was away Noel looked through more of the records and then came across a little photo album with the letters I.A.S. on the front. Those letters again! Intrigued, Noel opened it and nearly had a heart attack. Inside were photos of him, in his Air Scouts uniform, on his bike, standing, sitting, usually alone but sometimes with other members of his troop in their very long shorts. Noel wondered what it all meant. Then he heard footsteps and quickly shoved the album under some records before Terry came back in.

After more music and more chatting about Terry's school, which sounded so much more fun than Noel's, he plucked up courage. "Terry", he said, "what does I.A.S. stand for?"

Terry blushed to the roots of his golden hair and looked at the little photo album almost buried in the pile of records. "Do you like me, Noel?"

"Yes, of course I do!"

"Well, I like you, Noel, I like you a lot. Have done for months. I wanted to be friends but I thought you were much younger than me. Then last month, when I realised you're almost my age, it made me happy because we could be friends." He reached for the little album. "But while I thought you were out of reach all I could do was take photos. I hope you're not offended." He was still blushing as he held his album on his knees. "I didn't know your name so I put 'I.A.S.' It stands for – oh hell – it stands for Irresistible Air Scout!"

Now it was Noel's turn to blush.

"I'm sorry, mate," gulped Terry. "I'm disgusting. Maybe you'd better go now."

Noel reached over and touched Terry's arm and so began a deep friendship. Terry had only a week before going back to boarding school and the two boys saw each other as much as possible. Unfortunately, they weren't alone together for very long, as the things they did invariably involved other people, even if it was sometimes only Alaric. Noel had lead in his tummy on Terry's last day and dreaded him leaving but he said he'd be back for half term in October, that he'd be having a party for his seventeenth birthday and that Noel was invited. In his diary Terry had written: 'Principal party guest: I.A.S.'


Now we come to the day of Terry's party. Terry's parents had invited the children of other officers on the base so Noel knew most of them but Noel was the only one Terry was interested in so he was at his side most of the time, which provoked suggestive comments from some of the boys present, not that Noel cared. It wasn't a very satisfactory party, what with grown-ups in constant attendance and girls trying unsuccessfully to flirt with Terry but ignoring Noel, as usual. Worse still, Noel had been physically close to Terry all evening but never had a chance to talk intimately to him. To Noel the party was a disaster.

Sunday morning. There were five other Scouts in church, two of whom had had their shorts shortened to a more fashionable length, meaning about mid-thigh. Noel's shorts, on the other hand, now looked just like hairy swimming trunks and barely covered his bottom. Noel couldn't hide; he had to hand out hymn books and as people's eyes inevitably tracked down to his naked thighs he couldn't help blushing in shame. Terry arrived with his parents and took in the vast expanse of bare, hairless thigh Noel was obliged to display. His hand fiddled in his pocket as he tried to hide a huge erection.

At last, they were back at Terry's and having lunch, talking about schools. Terry and Noel were seated side by side.

"I've suggested to your father he finds a good boarding school for you," Terry's father told Noel. "He's keen to take you to the Far East but your education needs continuity and not chopping and changing at this stage. Terry, would you like Noel to go to your school?"

"Dad, I'd love it!" said Terry. "And I'd be able to help him settle in. You'd like it, wouldn't you, Noel?"

"Yes, if it were possible," said Noel, "and I'm not even put off by all your stories of canings!"

Terry's father laughed and then told more steely flying stories.

The boys were up in Terry's bedroom, sitting on his bed, playing records. "Terry," Noel ventured, "why did you once think I was so much younger than you?"

"Oh, Noel! Don't you know? It's because you're so – virginal! Your complexion is perfect; you're so slim; you're so innocent-looking; your face is so sweet and as for these...." He stood up and put a hand on each of Noel's knees. "My legs are all ugly and hairy but yours – they're so long, so bare and so bloody smooth!" He slowly ran his hands up Noel's thighs, right to the top and stopped when his fingertips were just inside the legs of Noel's shorts. "And I don't mind betting your bum is just as smooth and creamy!"

Noel quickly moved his hands to cover the growing bulge made by his willy. In any second it would touch Terry's fingers. Noel didn't know what to do. Terry wasn't like the bullies who wanted to make fun of him – he was just being loving. But Noel couldn't handle it and drew his knees up, making Terry's hands slide off his thighs.

"Oh God! Sorry, Noel, I didn't mean to...."

"I think I'd better go," said Noel, getting to his feet and trying to tug his stupid shorts down to cover the tops of his thighs. He pummelled his willy back to where it belonged.

Back in his own room, Noel worried that he'd turned Terry away. For weeks and weeks he'd been dreaming about getting a bit intimate. 'And when he does it I cry off! I'm pathetic! The bullies are right – I've got no balls! I'm my own worst enemy! And now I've lost my best friend and I feel desolate, so desolate.'

Terry went back to boarding school. Every night Noel asked himself why he'd rejected him and every night he wondered how he could get him back. He even went off wanking, so at least his father couldn't slipper him for spilling seed. His father announced that the family would be moving to Singapore in February and that Noel and Alaric would be going to school there. Noel assumed there'd be Air Scouts there. The whole prospect filled him with gloom. Then he took a blindingly obvious decision: he must write to Terry, telling him he was desperate to see him at Christmas and was sorry for being so prudish when all he'd wanted was to be friendly.

Terry didn't reply.

Noel was still growing taller. His routine stayed the same: Scouts every Friday, church parade every Sunday, his Scouts shorts getting shorter by the week. His father still sucked up to Terry's father. It was driving Noel crazy. One day, he was measured for a new suit. His mother said it was for a suit to wear in the tropics. Noel was amazed anyone wore suits in the tropics.


Sunday 22 December 1968. Three days to Noel's seventeenth birthday. Terry must have been home from school but Noel hadn't seen him. After church Terry's parents were throwing a big party and of course Noel would have to wear his Scouts uniform and help to hand out crisps and nuts. The weather suited midwinter – with an Arctic blast from the northeast and Lincolnshire white with frost. Go outside and the hairs in your nose froze and you'd have to breathe through your mouth. There was the roar of machinery on the airfield as the runway was kept free of ice. And Noel was the only boy in Lincolnshire who had to go out with his thighs totally bare. He had long woollen socks, an anorak, scarf and gloves but there was nothing at all to protect his knees and thighs from the freezing gale. Why did he have to suffer torture like this? There was no sign of Terry at church.

Noel spent most of the service rubbing his frozen thighs and then it was over and out he went into the freezing weather. One of the pilots said that with wind-chill it was twenty below zero! It was even too cold for goose pimples! The screaming wind whipped under Noel's anorak and hurtled up the inch-long legs of his shorts to shrivel his willy and freeze his bollocks. He left his well wrapped-up family and ran for Terry's house.

To his immense relief, it was Terry who opened the door. He whisked him up to his warm bedroom. "God! I'm sorry I haven't managed to see you. Let me get you warm, Noel! You poor thing, you must be bloody frozen!"

Noel stood with his hands on the radiator while Terry rubbed each of his legs in turn, trying to restore the circulation. It was a lovely feeling and Noel could soon feel his legs again. Terry stopped rubbing for long enough to stand up and give Noel a kiss on the cheek, quickly realised what he'd done, said sorry and got on with rubbing Noel's thighs. Noel took off his anorak, tingling not with warmth but with that tiny moment of intimacy. He leaned over the radiator and felt Terry's rubbing becoming more like stroking.

"Bloody hell, Noel, these bloody shorts hardly cover your bum!"

It was true – Noel hadn't realised it but his shorts barely reached the crease at the top of his legs.

"Look, Noel, we've got to go downstairs to join all the others but we'll escape up here soonest."

They'd only been downstairs ten minutes before everything went mad. Telephones rang, staff bustled about and a siren sounded at the airfield. It was an alert and the four Vulcan bombers on immediate standby had to scramble, which is to say they had to take off at once and head for the Soviet Union. Terry's father and all the other officers tore off to the airfield and the wives vanished too, ready to comfort the wives of the aircrew if anything went wrong. Noel's father had to go to Station HQ. Within two minutes Terry and Noel were alone amongst all the drinks and party food. Then they heard - and felt – the mighty roar as the Vulcans took off and scorched into the sky with their deadly payloads.

"Almost certainly a false alarm," said Terry, "but we've got the place to ourselves. Shall we go upstairs?"

Taking some drinks and trays of snacks, they went to his bedroom and put on some music.

"Let's carry on where we left off, my super-duper I.A.S.!" said Terry, as he pulled Noel onto his bed and started exploring his face with his hands. A moment later and they were lying side by side, or I should say writhing side by side, as their legs intermeshed and their arms wrapped around each other. One of Terry's arms was round Noel's neck drawing his face close for a much longer kiss and the other was round his waist. Then Noel felt fingers exploring inside the legs of his shorts but for once he didn't object. For once it was what he wanted! His willy was huge and he felt Terry snuggling into his navel only to let go of Noel to tear off his suit so now they both had bare legs and they let them writhe together once more, but even more excitingly.

They didn't speak – they just cuddled and snuggled and kissed. Noel had never known anything so heavenly. Then Terry lay on his back and pulled Noel on top of him. His hands were right inside his shorts, cupping his buttocks and Noel found himself thrusting at him, a rhythmic thrusting that forced his sticky willy out of his briefs and out of his shorts and onto Terry's tummy. They were both moaning in ecstasy. Noel's mouth was sucking Terry's ear. Then, before he could control it, Noel's seed was spilt, rather lavishly, on Terry's stomach. As if applauding his performance, the Vulcans returned to the airfield, their mighty engines sometimes roaring with throaty laughter and sometimes whistling in admiration as Terry and Noel lay still, holding each other tight. This lasted some minutes.

"Noel!" It was his mother, and she was on the landing! "We're going home, dear. Hurry along!"

Noel pulled the front of his anorak down as he accompanied his mother along Halifax Close to their house. His Scouts shorts were smeared inside and out with stickiness, some of which was Terry's. It froze in the icy air and when they got home his shorts were rigid. He prayed his father wouldn't be at home. If he'd seen his son had committed the sin of Onan and on the Sabbath there'd be hell. Noel thought he'd have had an easier time were he to have murdered all the children in Halifax Close. With enormous relief he found his father was still at Station HQ. Alaric told him.

"I'll bet you're glad about that," said Alaric, noticing the state of the front of his big brother's shorts.


Christmas Day: Noel's seventeenth birthday. Church came first in this household so they didn't open presents till after lunch. As Noel got into his Air Scouts uniform it was even more of a squeeze than usual as he'd secretly washed his prickly, woollen shorts and they'd shrunk. He dared not look in the mirror. He felt he'd be the laughing stock of the whole station. The news would get to school so he could expect even more abuse from the bullies. He'd rarely been so miserable.

The weather wasn't quite so bitter but his bare thighs were all goose-pimpled. He knew as he went up the chancel steps with the collection plate that everyone would be staring at them. Turning to walk back to his seat he felt his face burning with shame and he wanted the earth to swallow him up but then he saw Terry looking at him lustfully.

Back at home, they gathered for a Christmas drink. Noel wanted to down a bottle of his father's gin and die. Then in came Terry's parents, followed a few seconds later by Terry, who was looking strangely happy and gave Noel a huge smile.

"Well, young Noel, Happy Christmas!" said Terry's father. "And Happy Birthday, too! Have you heard the news yet?"

Noel looked blank. Then his father said "We're just about to tell him, Sir. You won't be coming to Singapore with us, Noel, except for your holidays. Group Captain Walpole has persuaded me that your needs would best be served if you were to board, in England. So I've arranged for you to go to Terry's school, starting next term, in a fortnight's time. Your Christmas present is everything you'll need to take to the school."

Noel's mother advanced with a package which Noel quickly opened to find a grey suit just like Terry's. "We weren't really measuring you for a tropical suit, dear. It was for this!"

Was that a tear in her eye? Alaric came up and gave his brother a hug. Noel was speechless. Everybody, even his father, was smiling at him. Terry looked ecstatic.

"You'll find the rest of the stuff on your bed, dear," said Noel's mother. "So nip up and change and when you come down we'll give you your birthday presents."

Noel was beaming with delight. As he passed Terry he stopped him and shook his hand. "I only found out just now," said Terry. "It's bloody brilliant! And Happy Birthday!"

Noel couldn't take it in. His life was suddenly worth living! He felt tears of happiness misting his eyes.

His father said "Be careful with your Air Scouts uniform; you'll need it when you come for your holidays in Singapore." Even that horrible bit of news didn't dent Noel's elation as he ran upstairs. He was just putting on his new suit when Terry came in.

"School's going to be so much fun with you there, I.A.S!" he said. "You'd better come round after lunch to hear my new records and we can have a Christmas cuddle! Oh God, you're bloody irresistible, even in long trousers! I love you to bits!"

Noel was in Heaven. So was Terry. Noel thought Terry was wonderful! Everything was wonderful! MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone!

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