When Shadows Pass

by Sean English

Chapter 19

And Then They Were Boys Again (Part II)

At the appointed hour, there was a hard knock on the Flavell's front door. As Natalie opened it, there stood their classmate, supported on a set of crutches and carrying a backpack. Behind him stood a pretty, petite brunette woman, perhaps in her mid-30's. The duo was warmly greeted, and Natalie tried to usher them inside. Mrs. Beaker, however, hastily declined.

"I'm so sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but I'm sort of double-parked outside here," she stated. "I really don't want to overrun it as it is, but I wanted to meet you - especially after we talked for so long last night! I never realized it before, but we live only a few blocks away, over on Goodwood!"

Natalie's face turned to one of surprise. "Really? I didn't realize that either! How long have you been there?"

"A little less than two years, really. It was the best place we could find, one that worked out for Scott, you see." She stopped, but Natalie smiled in understanding. "Most of the housing on the base wouldn't work, so we got an outside allowance, you see."

"I totally get it, my dear. Well, I promise, we will take good care of him. I do hope you enjoy your trip!"

"Thank you. I cannot tell you how much all of this is appreciated. Scott has told us a lot about your boys, and I have a cousin who teaches up at the school, too. She has told me other things about them, that she hears from her colleagues. Good stories, mind you." The woman smiled at that point. "Scott thinks a lot of them too, you know. We don't usually let him get out like this, but I thought it would be okay for him to try this out. That is, if you and your husband were okay with the arrangement."

"He'll be fine, I'm sure," Natalie reassured her.

"Well, thank you again, for letting him come over here. I know he really didn't want to have to go with us, after all." The woman made to leave, but not without first giving her son a brief hug and kiss on the cheek. She reminded him to behave, to which Scott made a face but nodded in acknowledgement.

"I'm sure all three are going to have a lot of fun. Take care now, and we'll see you when you get back," Natalie bade her as she left.

Elliot took the backpack from their classmate and sat it down for the time being. Scott temporarily set his crutches against the wall, before removing and hanging his coat. Picking them up again, Scott was then guided by Elliot across the room before he took a seat on the sofa, directly across from the TV. Jason grabbed the crutches and lay them in the floor, out of the way.

Natalie observed all of this silently and nodded approvingly. "You boys go at it, then. Simon and I will prepare some dinner in a little while, but you don't have to eat until you're ready for it. Okay?" The boys replied with hearty thanks, and then she disappeared.

Several hours passed, the room filling with various states of laughter, annoyance, and good old-fashioned competitiveness between the three. As it turned out, Scott was not only familiar, but good with most of the games the boys had. At one point, true to her word, Natalie appeared, bringing packets of buns and crisps to the table. Jason was still having to get used to that word, and as he laughed Elliot gave him a quizzical look.

"I still don't get why anyone just doesn't call them chips over here, you know?" Jason mused.

"I've told you before," Elliot replied, rolling his eyes. "Because chips are what YOU call French Fries!"

"But, then what do you guys call French Fries?" Jason teased.

Scott piped up. "Chips! They're just fried potatoes... right?" Elliot grinned and nodded, causing Jason to shake his head again.

Natalie grinned at she listened to the exchange, setting the bags of crisps down, along with sodas. Simon soon entered the room, carrying a large plate filled with hot dogs and hamburgers. "Brrr... it's quite chilly out there, boys!" After leaving everything arranged on the table, both adults quietly disappeared.

Mid-way through the evening, both parents re-entered the room and donned their respective outwear. Getting ready to leave, Simon addressed the boys. "Okay you guys, behave and have fun, but don't burn the flat down, okay? We'll be back early in the morning hours, my guess around 1:30 to 2:00."

"Yes, we rather like our little home on the bay!" Natalie added. All laughed, and within moments, the three were alone. Scott seemed to visibly breathe a lot easier then, becoming much more relaxed. Jason noticed it first.

"Okay, what's up man? You seemed, I don't know, like you were on edge or something," Jason asked, moving over to sit closer to their friend.

Scott glanced his way and then blushed. "Sorry, I didn't know it was that obvious."

"Are you kidding?" Elliot interjected. "You'd think someone was going to pull a knife on you and cut away your balls or something."

Scott laughed out loud, then sank back into the sofa. "Sorry guys, I really didn't mean to. It's just, kind of different for me to get out like this, that's all." When he saw their look of curiosity, he blushed. "Uh, I guess if you haven't figured it out, this is kind of a first for me. I mean, to sleep over anywhere. And for two whole nights, at that!"

"Seriously?" Elliot asked, incredulous.

Seeing their friend nod, Jason commented. "It's cool, and don't feel bad. Kind of like me, I never got to go anywhere much either while I was growing up."

That seemed to spark a reaction of surprise. "Really? What's your story, then, if I might ask?" Scott asked.

Jason shrugged. "Not much to tell, really. My mom died while I was young, so it was just me and Dad for a long time. We lived out in the country, kind of, so there really wasn't a whole lot of people around." Biting his lip, Jason glanced at Elliot before finishing. "Then my Dad died, too, which you already know about. And then I ended up here."

Elliot silently nodded in agreement. He caught the glance and immediately understood it's significance. This was something Jason had to own up to, knowing fully well it wasn't Elliot's place to say anything. Of course, there was so much more, but Jason was the one who had to decide what details to give out – or not.

Scott, on the other hand, was still curious. "Really? From the States, right? And you just ended up over here? I mean, you told me about losing your Dad. I remember that from before, I think at school. But how did you get mixed up with this lot?" He smiled as he said it, waving and indicating Elliot.

Jason paused, thinking through what he wanted to say. Scott, though different, did seem to be a good sort insofar as other guys their age. Upon reflection, Jason decided it wasn't like he really had anything to hide, insofar as his own heritage went. "My Dad and Elliot's Dad were brothers, but nobody knew about it until after my Dad died. It's kind of a long story, but what it comes down to is, I had no family or anything left over there. Some people here found out about me though, and then the social services people that were taking care of me, put me on a plane and I ended up here."

Scott whistled. "Buggers, man. I'm sorry, I didn't realize all that. So, you and Elliot, are ... cousins?"

Elliot nodded. "Technically, yeah. Mum and Dad are looking to adopt him into the family, though." Elliot admitted it with a show of pride. "He's more than my cousin, you know? More like my brother, every day we're together."

"I can believe it," Scott replied. He wrinkled his nose. "Sorry if I'm being too impertinent, just... I've always wondered, that's all."

"Nah, it's okay with me," Jason replied. "You got nothing to be sorry about."

"Thanks, then." There was a short silence before Scott glanced about. "Guys, uh, I need a hand I guess. I need to pee, and well, I have no idea where to go or anything, you know?"

Elliot stood up. "Come on then, we'll show you around some, too. Afterwards we can come back and eat." Walking around, Elliot retrieved the crutches while Jason offered a hand, which Scott accepted and moved to the edge of the sofa.

"So, if it's okay to ask, how do we do this? Like, how much do we need to help you for stuff?" Jason asked.

Scott grinned. "Don't worry, you don't need to pull on my willy or anything. I can usually take care of that stuff by myself," he teased, grinning. Seeing Jason blush, however, caused him to change course. "Sorry, man. Seriously, though, I can handle myself decently enough on my legs okay, so long as I don't have to turn or bend them. That is, if I have support and stuff, like these crutches. I just can't really, like, walk very far on them, if that makes any sense. Once I'm up, it's not so bad. Or once I'm down in the floor, like where I can scoot or crawl around and stuff, all of that is good, too. Getting between the two? Like getting up or down? That's the crux of it." He observed Jason more closely. "If it won't mess you about any, just come around here on my side, and let me sort of stand up with you." Although confused at first, Jason moved around to help their friend as he was instructed. Scott positioned him on his left and placed an arm around his shoulders. "There, like that," he coached. "Now, just kind of stand up, sort of slow, and let me lean on you and get up on my feet, too. See? Like this..."

Jason was surprised how easy the two made their way up. He felt a part of Scott's weight as he rose, but it was not overly bad. Jason noted, perhaps for the first time, that their friend was light in weight, too. He wondered if Scott worked out or did anything special in that regard.

Elliot had stepped up to help on Scott's other side, and that made the transition much smoother. Once he had his crutches in place, Scott let go a huge sigh. "Yeah, thanks! That worked out great!" He glanced at them both. "Sorry guys. It won't be all that bad, I hope. Just, I need a little help, that's all."

"We'll help you all you need, man. And quit saying you're sorry so much, okay?" Elliot stated simply.

"Yeah, I agree," Jason added. "You're not going to 'bugger' me any, either. Why would you think that, anyway? You really didn't seem to even weigh that much, you know?"

Scott blushed. "Well, honestly, some guys don't really like, you know, holding onto someone like that, or being touched so much and everything. At least, not up close like this." He grinned at Jason. "I wasn't sure what you would do, or what you would think about it. I guess I just, yeah, wasn't sure if you would mind it or not."

Elliot scoffed. "Not here, man. We're not shy about any of that stuff, trust me."

Jason started toward the hallway, calling back. "He's right. Anyways, come on, we'll show you where to go." Scott followed with Elliot trailing behind, down the hallway until they reached the back of the flat. Jason walked over to the bathroom doorway and flipped the light on inside. As Scott approached, Jason met him with a sweeping bow. "The 'loo', as you guys call it!"

Scott stepped to the door and then let out a long, low whistle. "Are you guys shitting me? This is awesome!" he exclaimed, taking in the size of the room before laughing out loud. "This is, like, really fucking awesome!"

Elliot giggled as he stepped up behind their guest. "Dad did this last year. He did most of the work himself, and he also remodeled their loo upstairs. His and Mums, I mean. It's not quite as big, but they have one of those big tubs and all, see. Dad uses the shower down here quite a bit though, especially during the week before he goes to work."

Scott nodded in understanding. "That actually sounds cool. Okay, you gents hang on a minute and don't go anywhere." They watched their friend shuffle his way over to the toilet. With his back to them, he worked with his jeans and, before long, the two boys heard a familiar stream hitting the inside of the bowl. Both Elliot and Jason smiled at each other as they heard the youth sigh again. Elliot even craned his neck to the side, inconspicuously attempting to glimpse anything of his in the works. Jason swatted him, though, and Elliot stood upright again with a huge smirk on his face. Scott must have seen it in the mirror, because he giggled at their antics. Blushing, he said nothing as he finished up, putting himself back in order. As he reached and flushed, he turned around and shuffled over to the sink.

Elliot couldn't resist commenting. "See Jase? He didn't think anything of it." That remark caused Jason to roll his eyes just as Scott turned toward them.

"What are you two on about? Did I miss something?" Scott asked.

Elliot shook his head. "When Jason first got here, he was, ah..."

"I was bathroom shy, that's all," Jason finished the sentence.

"Really?" Scott replied in surprise. "Hey man, I was too! For a long time, even! Hell, I still am for the most part!"

"Huh?" Jason asked, confused. "I mean, you just... like... did it and..."

Scott laughed as he dried his hands and then moved toward them. "Yeah, I know. But it's just you two blokes, right? When I'm around people I know, it's not so bad and all. Not like a bunch of strangers and everything. You'd be surprised how I catch peeps trying to get a glimpse of my plumbing and all. Sometimes it freaks me out, you know? But anyway, not you two. Besides, we're kind of, you know, friends. Right? At least somewhat?"

Jason smiled. "Oh yeah, definitely." He raised the proverbial fist, which Scott bumped when he arrived.

"That makes it a lot easier for me, I think." Seeing a look of confusion on Jason's face, Scott stopped. "Look, I'll be honest, okay? Like I told you guys, I can get around, no problems. But what I can't really do is handle being up like this, on my feet, for very long at a time. At least not on my own. So, can we like, get back to where I can sit down again? Then I promise, I'll explain."

Even Elliot was getting curious at the change of direction in the conversation. After a quick glance at his cousin, he nodded and stood aside, allowing Scott to pass by. There was something in their guest's demeaner that suggested Scott was more reserved, at least more than what he and Jason had come to expect. All three worked their way wordlessly back to the living room, where they returned comfortably onto the sofa. Once Scott was settled, he looked at them. "Okay, so here's the deal. My legs don't have any real muscle mass, so I've never been able to control how they bend or turn. It's nothing super bad, mind you - at least it's not to me. I've been this way for as long as I can remember, see? Mum tells me it's like a condition I was born with. It has something to do with blood flow and damaged nerve tissue and all that. That's why I use a wheelchair most of the time. I can still do simple things to move around, but like you guys just saw me, I can't do that without a lot of effort getting up, or getting down. Does that make sense, so far?"

Jason nodded. "Yeah. What's it like? I mean, if you do stay up too long and stuff?"

Scott grunted. "Mostly I get dizzy, and my whole area down from here…" Scott paused and indicated his belt-line. "See, I'm always somewhat numb as it is, but it gets worse and all if I'm up way too long. Like, right now I can feel my abdomen and mostly, you know, down to around my willy and everything. Back there though, around my butt and lower, I lose feeling completely. I have no idea why, really. I mean, I wasn't up all that long just then, but it started feeling funny. That's why I wanted to come back in here. It may be because we've just been sitting for hours playing games, you know, not moving around much. Usually I can be up as much as 20 minutes or so, before I have to sit back down. Or lie down, occasionally. If I lose too much feeling, I have to lie down sometimes for hours, before the feeling will start to come back."

"Wow!" Elliot exclaimed. "So, can you feel your legs?"

"Well, patches of them at least, but not always. From right above where they attach and go downward, it changes. Like, I can feel when anyone puts weight on them, or if I bang them against something. Um, I can also feel hot and cold with them, too, especially around my upper thighs. The farther down you go though, the less feeling they have. I mean, I really can't feel much of my feet, at all." He wrinkled his nose, then placed his hands on either side of his groin. "I can feel my gonads pretty good, you know, my willy and balls and everything, but working out from there, everything just kind of fades away." He saw Jason grin and shake his head. "What…?"

"Nothing Scott, I – I'm just still learning some of these words and everything you guys use over here," Jason finally replied.

Scott grinned. "You mean 'gonads'? Yeah, my dick, balls, pucker, fucker, willy, nuts-"

"Okay, okay! I get it!" Jason cried out, laughing.

"He still can't get over the 'arse' and 'ass' thing yet, either," Elliot commented, laughing along. When all three quietened down, Elliot turned his attention back to Scott. "So, you've been this way since you were born?"

Scott nodded. "Yeah, for as long as I can remember back to, anyway." He blushed again, moving his hands away. "Uh, sorry about that."

Jason grinned at him, shaking his head. "You're worried about THAT?" he asked. "At least, well, you said your family jewels and the important pieces are okay, right?"

Scott grinned at him. "Oh yeah, they're just fine." He glanced in Elliot's direction. "Well, anyway, since I don't have much control below my waist, that means there are several things I can't do, too. Not like most people take for granted. For example, I can't take a bath without help, because it's hard for me to get in and out of a tub, unless someone picks me up and sets me in the tub and gets me out. Unless the tub has some handles or bars I can grip onto, that's about the extent of it. Trust me, that doesn't happen very often. Showers are out of the question, too, because even if I could stand, I would never be able to move around and keep my balance." Scott hesitated, before turning his eyes to the floor. "Uh, sometimes it's hard for me to work my pants on or off my feet, too. I mean, as soon as I bend forward, it's too easy for me to lose my balance and everything that way. You know, stuff like that."

"So, how do you do it then? Like, clean up and stuff?" Elliot asked.

"Not very easy," Scott grimaced. "So, let me go back a little. My Dad, see, he's military. He's like this big, macho, you-know-the-type, mans-man. He doesn't get involved with anything he can keep from, especially when it comes to being very physical with me. Mum used to tell me he'd never even change my paddies when I was little - so yeah, you get the idea. Don't get me wrong, Dad and I get along fine. We play some games and stuff, watch some movies and all. We even talk and all that bullshit, you know. It's just when it comes to the physical stuff, well... you get the idea. He's not comfortable with it, and he avoids it all he can." Scott shrugged. "I don't really know why, but that's just my Dad being who he is, I guess. I get it, but... well, okay."

Jason and Elliot both looked at the other with an understanding. "Weird, but okay…" Elliot remarked.

Scott sighed. "So, to answer your question, it's not easy. It's mostly just me and my Mum. I'm not talking about when I was a kid, I mean, as I got older, too. She would, you know, always do a lot of things for me. When I was little, it didn't matter so much, but as I got older it got more embarrassing, I guess. It's things that people like me don't usually talk about with anyone, you know? She would help give me baths and stuff, but as I started getting older and bigger, she couldn't handle me so much anymore. So, now she just helps me get in and out of the bathroom a lot, like up on the side or whatever, enough so I can manage the rest myself. I don't mind it too bad. I mean, I could sit in a tub for hours, especially if it's got the jets and everything. The only thing is, eventually she still has to help me back out." He blushed. "I know, it sounds weird I guess. At first, I never minded it all that bad. It's just the way things are, and for the most part, you don't think about it that much. The last couple of years though, I've gotten bigger, not just physically, but down there, too," he stated, pointing at his crotch.

"Wow," Elliot breathed, then instantly regretted having interrupted him.

Scott, on the other hand grinned. "Yeah, I know. I have to be kind of creative now, when I can anyway. Like, I'll use some towels or something, to hide and everything, or sometimes I'll just wear my boxers when I take a bath. She doesn't like that too much, but meh, I think she understands." He wrinkled his nose. "I mean, it really is just me and her, and I can't really hide from her completely, not all the time, you know?" He suddenly laughed and blushed again. "I guess I'm rambling, giving you a big whirlwind answer and everything."

Elliot shook his head. "No, it's fine. Go on," he added. "I would imagine a lot of crippled people would be like you describe it and all, too. So, is that it then? You just take baths?"

"Yep, basically. When I'm home, anyway. Outside of home, I use a rag mostly, you know, take a hand bath or something." Scott finished, and a silence ensued as the other boys considered his words.

Jason finally spoke up. "So, your Dad, he's in the military and stuff. Are you guys Americans, then?"

Scott nodded. "Oh, yeah! Sorry, thought you already knew that! Dad is anyway, from Iowa, I think. Mum is from Scotland, though."

"That must make things a bit lonesome, then," Elliot observed.

"You don't really sound so much American, though," Jason added.

"Meh, I've been in Europe here most of my life, I guess. Because of my Dad, and the way we move around quite a bit, I have no real family or friends that are all in one place. At least, not anyone my age. What few family I do have on this side of the Atlantic, live in Belgium or Scotland. You know, where the US bases are at and stuff." Scott paused before grimacing. "I do have an older cousin who, sad to say, seems to relish any time he thinks he can get around me. He like, tries all the time to get me to do stuff."

"How so? What kind of stuff?" Jason asked.

Scott blushed. "He likes to try and get me naked mostly. It's weird, you know? I used to think he didn't mean me any harm, like it was just for fun and everything. But, he gets a kick out of it for some reason or another. It's weird because he's, like, 26 or 27."

"What? Seriously?" Elliot exclaimed, to which their guest nodded. "And you're our age, right? 14?"

"Yep, I'll be 15 in July," Scott answered.

"Wow… Is he gay or something?" Elliot mused.

"I have no idea, really. He's not married or anything. Not that I know of, anyway," Scott replied.

Another silence fell across them, until Jason mused aloud. "But, some stuff, you do feel comfortable around ... us? Right?"

"Sure," was the quick reply, with a wide smile. "I know, in some ways it sounds stupid, but ... dudes our age ARE different. That's one of the reasons I really didn't want to go with Mom and Dad this weekend. I overheard Mom talking on the phone with them last week, and she said he was going to be there."

Jason was almost afraid to ask. "Whoa! How come? Does he, like, try to bother you and stuff? I mean, I know what you said about getting naked and all, but…?"

Scott observed Jason carefully, and saw Elliot move over and sit by their side. Both faces showed no emotion toward him, and Scott thought that was odd. Still, there was nothing to hide, so he shrugged. "He tried to do some things with me, and well... I sort of told him to take his fucking cock and hang it on an electric fence."

"Ouch!" Elliot exclaimed, grabbing his own crotch. The visual aspect of that scene startled all three into laughter. It was Jason who broke through afterwards.

"So, will you tell us? Did he, like, get to you and... and..."

"Yeah, sort of. But not as far as he wanted. He tried, but he didn't get to screw me, if that's what you're wanting to know," Scott replied nonchalantly. Although he revealed it with ease, Elliot and Jason both could tell the subject still bothered him. "Like I said, it was weird. He kept saying he was trying to educate me, you know, some shit about the fun you get to do when you get older and all. I told him he was full of it. What was in my pants was mine, not his to... to... jack around with."

Elliot sympathized with their friend. "It's okay, you don't have to explain. We understand," he said softly, Jason nodding emphatically in agreement. Scott looked up, however, taking a deep breath.

"Meh, it's okay, I don't care to tell you guys. It's kind of funny, in a way. No one else has ever been even remotely interested in hearing it from me. Even though, heh, I've tried a few times, you know? See, I know I'll never have a normal sex life like other guys do, okay? Hell, I may never even get married, for all I know! Or get to have sex or any of that shit!" Looking at their astonished faces, he quickly continued. "No, I mean it. That is something I accepted a long time ago, so I really don't give a rats' arse about it. That was my cousin's big thing though, see? I know he was just being a horny bugger and all. I mean, hell … all of us get that way and everything. But he kept trying to tell me how he could make it easier on me, and how there was all these things that could still make me feel good and all that shit. I knew better, though. I knew what he wanted, don't get me wrong. I'm not stupid about guys fucking and all that. He probably wanted to jack his dick right up my arse, thinking I would have been a good fuck for him to blow his load and everything. You know, me being a crip and all, he probably figured I wouldn't be able to fight back or anything, right? Like I said, I wasn't an idiot."

"Of course, you're not... but... you said, 'sort of'. And…" Jason inquired, confused. Scott saw something in Jason's eyes that reflected a kindness and understanding he wasn't used to.

"Well, late one night we were at a hotel and in a pool, swimming around and stuff. The whole family, I mean. I can swim pretty good, you know. That's how I get to exercise a lot as it is, that and rolling the wheelchair and stuff. Anyway, if I don't stop or try to tread water, I get around fine in the water. Hell, I can even float, too! But anyway, after a while everyone left to go back to their rooms, see. Me, I loved being out there in the pool because it's the one thing I can do without having to depend on these deadweights any," he added, pointing down at his two legs.

"Everyone had left but him, and it was just the two of us. Mind you, before that night, he had never really – I don't know, gotten as horny I guess. You know, never really bothered me, other than just talk and shit, that kind of stuff. So, anyway, he swims over and grabs hold of me from behind, then covers my mouth and gets my swim trunks off me. I thought he was goofing around at first, but then it got more serious. He kind of, you know, tried to force himself on me and everything. So, he gets me naked, and then throws my trunks out of the pool and under a chair." Scott visibly relaxed. "That's when I knew it was serious. I could feel him, feel him rubbing his thing and all up and down my butt. But before he got to try anything, I got loose and twisted around and grabbed his crown jewels. I twisted as hard as I could. You should have heard him yelp! I told him to go to hell, and then I started yelling for help. You know, just wanting someone to come and help get me out of there. He high-tailed it out then as quick as he could, leaving me alone."

"Did you finally get out, though?" Elliot asked.

Scott nodded. "The thing about pools, is it's hard to get up if the sides are very high above the water, you know? Without something to grab onto, it's more difficult. This pool, it didn't have a slope, or a kiddie end or anything, it was just deep all the way around. So, I had to wait, but then someone came along a little later, going for a late-night swim and all. He found me alright, but he wasn't too thrilled at the fact I was naked and everything. I finally convinced him though, to just help me get up on the side, and he did. Then I got out and back into my wheelchair."

"Did you ever tell anyone?" Elliot asked. Scott shook his head.

"My word against his, you see? Plus, I'm a crip, so..."

"So?" Jason exclaimed. "Why should that matter?"

Scott shook his head. "You don't understand, Jason. I mean, there are things people just don't think about, when it comes to guys like me and stuff. Like what I told you about bathing and stuff, for example. For the most part, outside of my wheelchair, I'm just a rag doll, you know? Some people think we're helpless though, that they can do whatever they want to any of us. That includes, uh, the abusive stuff, too, because they think no one will believe us otherwise. I've been down that road before. It's not pretty, I promise you."

Jason let out a big sigh. "Okay, I get it. I'm glad that you got out of it, really. It could have been worse."

"Yeah, I know. Meh, I survived though, okay?" Scott sank back into the sofa more. "So, now you know my story, and you know why I wanted to find someone or somewhere to go tonight. I didn't really want to go back and face him again. I was willing to do whatever it took, just to get away from it. Anywhere really, but you know what? I'm happy it was you guys who let me come over. Mum is okay, honest. She just really protects me a lot. I don't get out much, so ... it's lonely walls, books, TV's and video games. Oh, and of course school and homework. Pretty much the story of my life."

"We're glad you came over, too," Elliot responded, offering a fist bump, which the teen grinned at and met in mid-air.

"You know, I've watched you two for months now," Scott went on. "I know you really value your friendship together. Don't ask me how I know, I just did. You should have seen this one," Scott paused, addressing Elliot but waving his hand toward Jason. "The day you got sent to detention, he was a wreck. And knowing a little about the why of it, I understood. I figured you two had to be pretty tight-knit, then. Maybe I hoped more than I knew it, but either way, I just sort of thought maybe you would be willing to get together. I'm sorry if I barged in or interrupted anything. Honestly, I didn't mean it to be that way. I'm just glad..." Scott paused. "I'm just glad you didn't tell me no."

"You're welcome," Elliot replied. "And we didn't care, honest. If you need somewhere to go to get away from that shit, you call us, okay?"

Jason smiled, and after a quick glance at Elliot, he added. "You have to do one thing for us, though."

"What's that?" Scott asked.

"Quit apologizing so much. You sound too much like me, when I first moved in here," Jason explained.

Elliot snorted. "That's the truth!"

Scott grinned back. "Okay, okay. I know, I can be a strange one sometimes. Honest though fellows, I'm cool with most anything. You won't really have to worry about me. I'm just here to be with you guys, and you know, have some fun."

Elliot glanced at Jason before looking back. "We're here, man. We'll do anything we can to help. You just, like, have to teach us what we need to know and all. On how to help, I mean. Okay?"

Scott grinned. "I can do that. And I'll not bugger you too much, I promise." They laughed, then Jason asked him again why he kept saying that. Scott shrugged. "No real reason. Just, like I said while ago, I need help with some stuff sometimes, physically I mean. I'm not used to anyone even willing to do that besides my Mum, that's all."

"Yeah? Like what? What are you afraid of buggering us out with?" Jason asked.

Scott laughed again, but this time blushed before he answered. "Well, you might like, have to help me change clothes and, I dunno, different stuff, that's all."

Jason nodded in understanding. "Like underwear?" he asked, grinning. Before Scott could reply, he went on. "That won't bugger us, Scott. It doesn't bother me being around peeps any, with or without clothes."

Elliot nodded. "He's right. We're not shy about any of that stuff. Well, mostly anyway, at least with each other."

"That's cool." Scott paused, thinking. "You said your parents have a tub?"

Elliot nodded, but replied. "Yeah. They don't usually let us guys in there, but they might make an exception for you."

"It's okay, really. You asked, and I never really answered completely, did I?" Scott inquired, looking at Elliot. "In my world, the tub is the masterpiece. Put some suds or bubbles in it, I can submerge and nobody can see anything, and I can do whatever I want for the most part."

Elliot laughed. "Like jack off?" he whispered.

Scott grinned, but nodded. "Oh yeah." He laughed. "You guys are so easy to talk to, you know? So anyway, yeah, that's how I clean up, mostly." Scott looked at them both sheepishly. "It might be cool, though. Um, that is, if you can help a guy get in and out."

Elliot grinned at that thought, but it was Jason who spoke up. "Why not take a shower?" Before their friend could answer, Jason retracted the thought. "Wait, sorry about that. You already explained, didn't you? You've never been able to stand up for one, I think. Okay, but, how come? I wouldn't think it to be that hard to, like... get in a shower and maybe sit in a chair, or on a stool … or something? Heck, you could even use your wheelchair, if the shower is big enough, I mean."

Scott, however, shook his head. "Afraid not. In our place, the bathrooms aren't really cut out for that kind of room. Especially not like the one you blokes have back there."

"So, wait a minute, let me get this straight," Elliot interjected. "You, honestly, have never been able to take a shower, right? Ever?"

"Afraid so, guys. At least, not that I can remember. I guess that makes me weird, doesn't it?" Scott mused. Elliot and Jason exchanged glances and smiled, both thinking the same thing. Their visitor watched the exchange in curiosity. "So, what's going on? What are you two thinking about?"

It was Elliot who spoke up. "Well, would you LIKE to? I mean, really take a shower, for once?"

Scott furrowed his eyebrows suspiciously. "What do you mean? How?"

"Well, first, how do you feel about it? Like Jase said, we could get you a bar stool or something to sit on. Or, if you're afraid you might fall or something, and if you wanted us to, maybe we could help hold you up and everything. You know, let you do your thing. You could try it out and all."

Scott's eyes widened. "You're shitting me! Seriously? Are you guys… whoa, are you serious?"

Jason giggled. "Why not? It's not that big a deal, really. I mean, like Elliot said, if you're shy, we can all leave our underwear on or something."

"Hell no!" Elliot blurted out, then laughed. "Well yeah, okay, I guess so. If that's what you'd want to do, sure. But - a shower is a shower, man. If you're only going to do it once, why not go for the full thing, you know? Get skinned and go all the way!"

Scott scoffed, then realized they were serious. "But... but... you two? You'd really get naked? With me? And… and… get in there and help me? Just like that?"

Jason had a bemused expression. "Of course, we would! Come on, you don't have anything different down there than we do, right? Unless, of course, you're some kind of alien or something..." Elliot snickered as Scott blushed.

"Nnnooooo... I promise, I'm human," was the snarky reply. The proposal was intriguing Scott, though, to say the least.

Jason leaned in a little closer, speaking softer. "Listen, I'll tell you something, but it's just between the 3 of us, okay? Promise?" When Scott nodded, he continued. "Elliot had to teach me about not being a prude. You understand what that means, for someone like me from America, right? Guys over there, they don't do things like this. It's just different, you know? But when I came over here, Elliot had to teach me to trust him, and to not be so, uh, you know, shy. And I'm learning, kind of slow, but meh, I'm learning. That's why it's not such a big thing to me anymore. I know it isn't for Elliot, either." He smiled. "I really don't think you're any different, right? I mean, if I trust you enough, and you trust us enough, then... understand?"

Elliot nodded, and added. "We're not trying to get you naked for funky stuff, Scott, honest. You understand though, right?"

A smile slowly started to grow on Scott's face. "Yeah, I do. I mean, I trust you guys just fine. Okay, I get it now." He looked at each of them. "Seriously, it's not like I care if you guys see me naked, honest. Just... I didn't really think, err, I mean… I didn't really expect..." He swallowed hard, then observed as they both looked at him with amused expressions. He laughed nervously. "You understand what it means, right? You'll have to hold me up and ... and, other things I'm sure. It could be kind of close and… Well, what's the word? It could get kind of intimate, I guess." Elliot looked at Jason with a knowing expression, before both nodded in silent reply. Scott's look of amazement was quickly replaced with a toothy grin. "Well, if you're really okay with it, then what the fuck! I admit, I think it would be awesome!"

Elliot nodded. "Okay, deal then. First, let's eat, and then Jason and I will show you - no, better than that, let you do something entirely new for a change. It'll be cool, trust us."

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