Andrew

by The Composer

Chapter 4

The next morning over our breakfast of tea and toast and marmalade, I looked across to him and said, "Take me there."

He knew what I was asking. "Are you ready to see it again?"

I nodded. "I know I'm going to have to live there. But you are going to have to help me. I don't belong there. You are going to have to teach me."

He reached across the table with his hand and touched mine. "You can have another look at it. We won't stay. We will come back here afterwards."

"I might want to stay."

He shrugged. "If you want to, you can. If you don't – I'll bring you back."

We got dressed properly. He led the way down the pontoon to his car. I slid into the passenger seat and pulled the seatbelt across me. He drove out and along those country roads until finally he pulled into that drive. The car crunched over the gravel. He stopped the engine, and passed a key over to me. I knew why he was doing that. I stepped out of the car and looked around.

"This is nice," I said. "These trees. I don't know anything about trees."

He shrugged. "They grow big. They have leaves. The leaves fall off in the winter and they make a mess."

I stared at him. "That's exactly the sort of thing I would expect you to say."

"It's true."

"Yeah. Maybe. But it's because they are untidy that they irritate you."

"So?"

"You like everything to be neat and tidy. That's one thing that irritates you about me. I'm not neat, and I'm not tidy, and sex with me is not neat and not tidy. Our relationship is not neat and tidy. And you would like it to be neat and tidy." I looked at him steadily.

"What can I say?"

"You don't have to say anything. I'm in love with you. You know that, don't you? It's not neat and it's not tidy, and you're going to have to live with that."

"What I want is for you to live with me. Here. For as long as you will have me."

I took that key and walked up to the front door, unlocking it, and pushing it open. I had been here before, but now I was here to take possession. I looked into the rooms on the ground floor. I had seen them before. Charles was watching me, as impassive as ever. I stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked up. "Are you going to take me and show me what's there?"

He took my hand, and hand in hand we walked up the stairs. He opened one door. "A guest room," he said. It was a rather bland anonymous sort of room. We went on to the next door. "Your room." It had a bed, a wardrobe, a desk.

"You expect me to sleep here?" I asked.

He smiled. "No." He took my hand and opened another door. "This is where we shall sleep."

There was an enormous double bed in the centre of the room. Either side were little tables with lamps. It was a big room. There were wardrobes either side, as well as big chests of drawers.

"How long have you had that bed?"

He smiled again. "It was delivered ten days ago."

I walked further into the room. It was bright and airy. The windows looked across to the trees outside. Like Charles, it was neat and tidy.

"You mean that?"

"Mean what?"

"This will be our bedroom?"

"Only if you want it to be."

I looked around. This was like nothing I had seen before except in films. This was another world. I knew that if I was going to keep Charles that I would have to be part of this world. I wasn't sure how to do it, but I knew he would help me and he would teach me.

"You would have me here? In your house? In your bedroom? In your bed?"

He was standing behind me, and he put his arms around me to hold me, to hold me tight. "Only if you want it."

Again I squirmed around him, so that I was facing him. So that I could look him in the face.

"You want me here? Because if I'm going to come and live here, you are going to have to take me in, and take me in for ever. For ever. Are you prepared to do that?"

He looked at me. He looked me in the eye. "If you come to live here with me, I promise you. I promise you that you will always have a home here. You might find someone else. You might find me difficult, maybe repulsive. It doesn't matter. This will always be a home for you if you want it. But you have to tell me that you want it."

"So you are telling me that if I would prefer to bring Kieren or Dave back here for a quick shag, you wouldn't mind?"

"Do you want to do that?"

"Not really." I looked back at him. "Who knows what will happen in the future?"

"None of us knows what will happen in the future. We can only plan for the present." He shrugged. "My plan for the present is to bring you here and give you the best life I possibly can for as long as I can. If you find someone else, I would hate it. But I know that asking you to love me for ever is impossible. Just loving me for the present is enough."

"You're right. I'm a kid. I have no idea what I'm going to do. What I do know is that I want to be with you. I don't know for how long, but I hope it will be for ever." He looked at me, and I looked at him. "Put your arms around me," I told him. He did. "Hug me." He did. I moved back from him. "What will I do here? Polish the furniture? Make supper for you when you come back? Hoover the carpets?"

He smiled at me. "If you came to live with me here, would you go to school? Finish your education?"

"Finish my education? I had no idea it had even started."

"I've seen you, these past few weeks. You've been reading through all your books, haven't you?"

I shrugged. "There wasn't much else to do in the evenings."

"But most kids would go and do something else. Not read books."

I shrugged again. "What most kids want to do isn't necessarily what I want to do."

He looked at me steadily. "If I found you a school round here, would you go to it?"

"But it's not as simple as that, is it?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, schools don't take anyone who just wants to walk through the door. They would want things like references, or a guardian."

"You could have a guardian."

"Who?"

"Me."

"And how is that going to work?"

"You know we were talking about me being your uncle?"

"And?"

"I can make it so that I am your uncle as far as everyone else is concerned."

"How?"

"Don't ask how. But I can do it if you want me to do it."

I looked at him. "So I would be your nephew – legally?"

"Yes."

"That means you could never get rid of me. You would be stuck with me, whatever I did."

He nodded. "I know that. I'm prepared to take the risk. You are worth it."

"You really mean that?" I had my arms around his neck. "It's a big question for me. But for you? Do you really know what you are letting yourself in for? I'm a kid from the back streets. I'm from a council care home. And you trust me?"

"I've trusted you all these weeks, and you have never let me down. You could have taken advantage of me any time you wanted. And you didn't. And you haven't." He looked into my eyes. "You are not a thief. You are not a whore. And I trust you. I want you. I love you. You know that, don't you?" He looked at me again. "You know that, don't you?"

I could hardly speak. "For how long? I know men like you. You like boys, not men. I'm a boy. And boys grow up, and people like you no longer want us."

"If I told you that I would want you whatever, would you believe me?"

I stared at him. I knew men like him, who liked boys, but when they grew up – well, it was onto the next one. Those slinky charming gauche boys had become men, and no longer desirable.

He knew what was going on in my mind. "When I first saw you, you were this small boy hunched over in a jacket, cold and shivering. When first we made love, you were this randy teenager who had just discovered that he had a dick. You are young and slim and attractive and beautiful. I know you're going to grow up. You're going to become different. Unless you become old and fat and bald, I will love you. I promise that. I will love you. You are beautiful, and to me you will always be beautiful. Yes, I admit it. Teenage boys – they turn me on. But this is different. There is a difference between love and lust. I will always love you. I will always want to have sex with you. I might look at other boys and think – yes, they are sexy. But compared with you? They would be non-starters."

I looked at him directly. "You're prepared to do this?"

"Yes."

"And how will it work?"

He hesitated for a moment. "You would have to become someone else."

"What do you mean?"

"I could make you into someone else, someone that no one else from your past would know about. I would give you a new name. I would give you a new birth certificate. I could give you a new date of birth. Once we have that, we can apply for a passport. It would have the new name on it, and a photograph. The photograph is the clincher. If someone from your past comes up to you, you can just wave the passport at them. It has your picture. It has your name. Legally, that is now who you are."

"And you can do that?"

He considered it. "I can make it happen. I know people. People who can do that sort of thing."

"And it would cost?"

"Yes."

"A lot of money?"

"Yes."

"You're prepared to spend that on me?"

He looked me in the eyes. "You are worth all that I have."

"You want me to become someone else?"

He shrugged. "You would have a new name. You can choose your names. But it would be best if your surname was the same as mine."

"Why?"

"Our story would be that you were the son of my sister. My sister never married – well, since she never existed, it's a little unlikely. But she had a son. A son who never knew he had an uncle. Your mother lived a difficult lifestyle. She died recently. You were left, an orphan, with no one to look after you. You discovered that you had an uncle. You got in touch with him. He rescued you from the clutches of social workers." He smiled slightly, and I couldn't help smiling back again. "Does that sound reasonable?"

I thought about it. My surname was Jones. I assumed that was my mother's name. Although I had really no idea. I have never seen my birth certificate. It might have been in a file somewhere, but no one had ever told me about it. Choosing my names. My real names – well, the names I had always used – were Jason Andrew. I had told Charles that my name is Andrew. It wasn't the truth, since I had always been called Jason, but it wasn't a lie. I didn't really like the name Jason. Among us kids, it always got abbreviated to Jase, and I never liked the sound of that.

"Can I really choose the names?"

He sounded amused. "Whatever you like."

"I told you I was called Andrew. Andrew is my second name. My first name is Jason, but I don't really like it. Could I be … James?"

"James Andrew Forsyth. That's who you would be. Do you want to be that?"

"What else could I be?"

"You could keep your old name, but that could be difficult. Would you mind taking my name?"

"That's what wives do when they marry their husbands, isn't it?"

"Are we getting married?"

I looked at him. "It would be legal, if you wanted it."

"Is this a proposal?"

"Not really. Well, it is in a way. I'm joining the family so to speak. I'm becoming a Forsyth. I might not be your wife, or your husband, or your nephew, but I hope I'm becoming your lover."

"You are my lover. You will always be my lover. The sad thing is that we cannot shout it out to the world."

"We're going to have to keep it a secret, aren't we?"

"Sadly. Do you mind?"

"I mind like mad." I pulled myself away from him. "There's nothing else we can do, is there?"

"Not if we want a quiet life."

I knew what he meant. Scandal for him. The pointed fingers. The social workers swooping down trying to take me to 'a place of safety'. If I became someone else, that would become more difficult.

"I could," he said quietly, "screw up your present identity."

"What you mean?"

"Well, I could alter your birth certificate. Your real one. Or have it altered. And screw up all your electronic records. The social people would still have your paper files, but they would struggle because they wouldn't match up with your electronic records."

"You could do that?"

"Yes."

I thought about it. "Would it cost?"

"Yes."

I thought about it again. "Can I come back to you on that one?"

"Of course."

There was a long silence. I knew what he wanted me to say, but it was a big step, to become someone else. I looked up and held his gaze. "You want to do this?"

"Yes."

"You would legally become my uncle? You could never get rid of me, you know."

"I know."

"And you're prepared to do that?"

"Yes."

"Then do it."

"You mean that?"

"Yes."

"James Andrew Forsyth. That's who you would be."

I thought about it. "James Andrew Forsyth. Yes."

He pulled me to him and hugged me hard. "You beautiful beautiful boy. You will become a beautiful young man, and I will be proud of you. I will love you. I promise you that."

"This will be our bedroom?"

"If you want it to be."

I took one of the buttons on his shirt between my fingers. "Can we christen it?"

His voice was hoarse. "What do you mean?"

"What do you think I mean?" I tugged his shirt from out of his trousers.

It was getting dark when finally we moved apart, and I looked at him. "Where is the bathroom?"

"This is en suite," he told me.

"What the fuck does that mean?"

"There's a door over there."

"And?"

"Go and see."

I did. There was a toilet and a shower and a wash basin. I peed long and hard. I splashed my face with cold water. I went back to the bedroom where Charles was lying sprawled out, naked, on that enormous bed.

"You really expect me to sleep on that?"

"Why not?"

I shrugged. "I suppose it's just as well, given the amount of space that you take up in bed."

"What do you mean?"

"When you sleep, you spread out. You take all the space there is."

"Do not."

"Do so."

He stared at me. "Live with it."

I shrugged. "It looks as if I'm going to have to. That and the snoring." He glared at me. "Oh, and by the way, if you are going to expect me to live with you here, you're going to have to get a bigger shower than that."

"Why?"

"There's no way we can get both of us in there at the same time."

He stared at me and then laughed. "You haven't seen the bathroom yet."

"There's a bathroom as well?"

"There is. Do you want me to show you?"

He did.

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