The First Son - Arc One

by Zustara Orur

A story (C) 2002 by ZUSTARA ORUR. Contact address:

1.4 Not intended for redistribution, commercial use prohibited!

English is a second language to me, so please excuse any goofs present herein regarding grammar, spelling. I try to do the best I can!

Legal mumbo-jumbo BS: this story features explicit descriptions of sexual acts between consenting young boys. The story is fictional, and only took place in my mind. If this sort of thing bothers you; you are under-age (and anybody cares about it); reading this story happens to be illegal wherever you may be right now; etc, please STOP READING. I won't get in trouble, but you might, who knows. If all is hunky-dory, feel free to continue, if that is your wish.

Also note that this is a real STORY centering around love rather than sex, those mainly interested in long descriptions of copulation and such may want to look elsewhere.

SPECIAL DEDICATION: Brandon, although you may be far away from me, you are always close in my mind. Thank you so much for your continued support!

PART TWO: Friendship Blossoming, Twins, Coming Home:

I had to go to school the next day of course. I didn't look forward to it, I felt depressed in a way I never had before. My angel... What if I'd never see him again? It wasn't as if I could take a cab to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and ask to be let in because I said I was a friend of Raphaél Avery... Oh, I could TRY, but I didn't dare, and I felt ashamed because of it.

When I got there, the first person I recognized was Lynn. She saw me too, at almost the same instant, and came rushing up to me.

"Bastian... This is so cool! You should have been here yesterday afternoon!" She was all giddy and stuff, really excited.

I kind of knew what she wanted to talk about. "Well, I quit early, so I must have missed it", I replied somberly. Maybe I was trying to signal to her I wasn't in a very talkative mood, but she never caught on.

"There were police EVERYWHERE! And lots and lots of those Secret Service guys too! And nobody would tell us a thing about what was going on, we thought it was a bomb threat but they didn't evacuate the school or anything either... You really should have been here!"

I played along, still refusing to let her good mood catch on to me. "I heard nothing on the news yesterday", I said. True, there had been no mention of the son of the President going missing for several hours. "It was probably nothing."

She smiled at me, letting her dimples show. Her blonde hair danced as she shook her head to clear it out. "Nothing?! If you'd seen it, you wouldn't say that!" She was standing really close to me, without a doubt flirting with me.

Yeah. It was definitely time to tell her, so I did. I could have been more tactful I'm sure, but I was so empty inside I just couldn't relate properly right then. It still hurt to hurt her, and I DID hurt her. I could see it on her face, even if it wasn't that much, and even though she tried to hide it. But I think she took it pretty well after all.

"You have someone else?", she asked, letting a little disappointment show on her face and in her voice. It wasn't a nosy question, the way she asked it was very dignified.

I could have blushed, but for some reason didn't. "Yeah. Well, maybe. I don't know", I said slowly. It was all true, I really did not know. "Something happened yesterday, and I don't know..." My feelings were in such a jumble right then, and what HAD happened yesterday, REALLY...? He's the son of the President. You can't bring him home to your place, for all the reasons in the world...! And they'd taken him away from me again just to prove the point.

She put two arms of sympathy around me. "If you want to talk to me, just as a friend, I'll be here. Okay?"

I let myself be held, squeezing my eyes shut tight. Did not want to get all mushy and stuff on her. Yeah, I could tell Lynn if I wanted to, I was sure... Not right then. Maybe later.

Raphaél was nowhere in sight. I was sure he wasn't in school that day. I could ask his classmates, I had learned who some of them were, but decided against it. Not that I worried if they'd take an interest in my sudden curiosity about him or anything, I just didn't see much of a point in it. If he was there, I'd have seen him: a boy with two bodyguards can't hide very easily after all.

I wondered why. Had he been moved to a different school? Would he even be allowed to go to school anymore now that he'd snuck off like that? Maybe they'd get him a private teacher instead... I'd never see him again EVER.

The day passed slowly. No sight of my angel, and I couldn't understand how badly it was affecting me. I just knew I missed him really much, and it made me unable to concentrate properly. I usually enjoy school, at least most classes anyway, but not right then. It was just dull and boring, and I couldn't wait until the day was over so I could go home and suffer alone, by myself.

Coming home really wasn't any better. Da saw what kind of mood I was in and stayed out of the way. I got out on the back lawn and laid down on the sunbed (still in the same position as the day before) to work on my tan while the good weather lasted, wearing only a pair of sunglasses. I was hoping to feel some residual effect of my angel being there so recently, but there was nothing but emptiness all around me. Even inside.

I was really hurting, and I didn't understand why.

I guess I was kind of dozing off in the sun, just lying there soaking it up and trying hard not to think of anything, especially not Raphaél. It was slowly working, and I was drifting in and out of consciousness, not realizing Da was sketching me with pencils on paper as I was resting there, him sitting down in a chair a bit off to the side.

Heavy vehicles passed by on the street outside, their engines growling like big animals, deep down in their throats. It made me surface again, slowly. Da was just about finished with his work when we heard the door chime, and I awoke fully.

Rising up from the sun bed, I was wondering if I really had heard what I thought I heard. The chime sounded again, twice in a row. Impatient, it seemed to me. I picked up my robe and put it on as I quickly walked towards the house. Da looked at me from his chair, grinning slightly. Then he resumed sketching. He had enough of an image in his head to finish what he started.

I slowly opened the door, not knowing what to expect, not wanting to imagine anything either, just so I wouldn't have to risk disappointment. I saw John and Matthew standing on our front porch. As tall and broad-shouldered and strict and stone-faced as always. And between them, slightly behind them... A small figure in a red T-shirt and baseball cap.

"Dhaa-hah!", I screamed with joy and threw myself at him! I almost crashed into him, nearly bowling us both over. I hugged him in my arms, and felt him hug me back. It was like a dam bursting inside of me, I started weeping uncontrollably. "You came back!", I sniffled. "You came back..." Tears were pouring out of me, and I held Raphaél in my arms, spinning him around slowly. I felt such relief, and I just could not stop crying!

"Sebastian... Of course I did", he replied, "Of course I did." He wasn't crying, but I could feel so much affection in his voice all the same. "We have a painting to finish, or don't you remember?"

"Uh... Yeah". I grabbed hold of myself, looking at him, looking around. Raphaél's big eyes were a little moist, his face shining of happiness at seeing me again. It almost made me start crying again! In front of me, behind him, was the same black limo that had taken him away the day before. Or, I think it was anyway. It was framed by 'only' two vans, I could see some agents outside, but nowhere near the numbers of last time.

"My angel!", I said softly and took his pretty head in my hands and kissed him on his sometimes petulant mouth. I felt so totally whole right then, my life complete. It was the most wondrous feeling, it totally smothered me in soft, fiery emotions, and I let it show in my kiss. Deep and sensual. I didn't give a shit about all the agents, they could think whatever the hell they wanted, this moment was all mine and Raphaél's.

I saw John grinning. Matthew's face was still stony, but slowly cracking.

Raphaél responded to my kiss, hugging me tighter still, enjoying it as much as I. He didn't care about anything else but that moment either I could tell.

"Let's get inside", Raphaél suggested softly when I finally withdrew myself from him, his voice husky with pent-back sexual excitement. "Okay?"

"Yeah..." It was meant to be a simple reply, but it came out as a deep sigh. I was getting hard, the bathrobe was starting to tent. I didn't give a shit about that either as we turned towards the door. Raphaél stopped to take off his sandals, stepping out of them in his bare feet after having undone the straps.

"I never did like to walk around in shoes indoors", he explained. "You take yours off too", he told John and Matthew. They complied without raising any fuss. They even removed their socks and stuck them down their shoes. Yeah, they probably knew where we were headed, and socks and grass isn't the best of combinations.

"They're coming?", I asked and goggled a little. I heard car doors slamming shut outside, and then engines starting as the rest of the 'goon squad' prepared to leave.

My angel nodded. "Yeah. It was either that or nothing at all, no matter how much I kicked and screamed. Do you mind it a lot?"

I grinned wide. "Not as long as you're there!", I said and pecked him on his right cheek.

He grimaced cutely. "Thanks...", he mumbled.

Matthew came up to me. "Uh, kid...", he started, actually blushing. Seeing the big, stone-faced agent embarrassed like that kind of made me aware of what he was going to say. "I believe I owe you my sincerest apologies about certain inappropriate things I said yesterday."

"I think you owe those to Raphaél", I returned acidly.

"He's already said he's sorry", my angel told me quietly.

Matthew coughed. "Yeah. Uh, you have to understand this, kid... I... Uh, I was under a lot of stress right then. Bad excuse, I know, but I had been upset all afternoon. You see I... That is, John and me... I, uh, WE I mean, do actually care a lot for our charge... Dammit, I'm making an ASS out of myself here, help me!" He gestured in a frustrated manner to his colleague.

"It's OK", John said soothingly. "Bastian. Understand: we didn't know what had happened to Raphaél. He could have been kidnapped for all we knew."

"I left a note for you", Raphaél peeped.

"Note or not", John continued. "You could have been forced to write it, or it could have been forged. We worried SICK. Not to mention, we had everyone of our bosses, including your father, scream at us literally for hours. So when we did find you, we were kind of bent outta shape you might say. Words were spoken that neither of us really meant. You understand?" The last words were meant for me.

I nodded. "Yeah. I think I do."

John ruffled my hair, grinning. Matthew patted me on a shoulder. "Hope you're not the kind of kid to hold grudges, huh?", he wanted to know.

"No, it's OK, I think..."

We went out to the back lawn together, me and Raphaél holding hands. My father had already set things up for us, he must have known somehow what was going on. The easel was there, the half-finished painting in place on it.

Da was smiling wide. He came up to us. "Hello Raphaél", he said warmly. "Glad to see you again." My angel grinned back. Then Da turned to the two agents. "Hello to you too, I'm George, Bastian's father", he greeted them and shook their hands in turn.

"John Cuzac"

"Matthew Wilkins. Please call me Matt if you like." Suddenly he blushed beet red. He'd seen us both undressing, very much in an excited state.

John chuckled. "Come on, man", he said to his partner. "This is none of our business." He grabbed Matthew on a shoulder and led him aside. They sat down on the flat tiled area next to the pool, John on another sunbed and Matthew on a plastic chair like the one my Da had used while sketching me. Both facing away from us, talking in low voices. Agent stuff, perhaps, I don't know. I couldn't hear, and I didn't particularly want to either, I was too absorbed by my angel.

We were both naked again, and we embraced once more. Kissing, touching lightly. I felt my hard dick pressing into Raphaél's stomach, right beside his own dick. I had one arm around his narrow back as I cupped a hand over a butt cheek. It was warm to the touch, soft and smooth, and I felt almost delirious. Raphaél's body twitched slightly as I touched him, then he rubbed himself against me just a little to show how much he liked it.

"My angel, I must be in love", I whispered to him. "Yes, I love you..." The words released me, set me free. I knew where the pain had come from, and it was no longer there.

"Ahem!", my father sounded behind us. "As much as I hate to interrupt you two... We have a task at hand, don't we?" We both grinned sheepishly at him, we'd been so preoccupied with other things! "Please, assume your positions, the clock is ticking." He motioned with his hand at the sunbed.

So we did, and my father directed us once more so we sat just like the last time. I saw John and Matt sneak a glance at us every once in a while, but they left us in peace all the same. Da was busy with his painting, I was busy loving my angel. Yes, I understood then why I'd been feeling so strange the whole day. It was the first time for me, and it filled me completely from head to toes with a funny, sparkly kind of feeling. I felt so alive right then.

Our lips touched. Sometimes just lightly, sometimes we'd press ourselves together, letting our tongues wrestle. It was amazing. The sun moved across the sky as Da continued detailing and fleshing us out, but that wasn't a problem for him, he had a snapshot in his mind of how the light had played across our bodies when he started.

"...Okay", he said all of a sudden. "You can get up now..."

We stretched. Pleasant as it had been, it was demanding on our backs. Then we got up on our feet and walked over to Da to look at what he'd created, us two holding hands.

We were both equally stunned, I think. It was easily the best painting he'd done. Ever. I felt so proud, my dad really WAS a great artist! He'd captured everything, the sun shining in Raphaél's hair, it glittering in the golden chain, the different shades and textures of our skin, the dreamy, loving expression on our faces... Everything. Even our proudly skyward-pointing boyhoods were rendered accurately, something we both giggled at. He had even reproduced the neat stack my angel had made of his clothes, and my bathrobe which I'd just let drop into a pile.

As we stood there watching, he signed and dated it, and we sealed the moment with another sweet kiss. My hands were in Raphaél's soft hair and on his face, his on my butt this time...

"Okay, fancy a swim now?", I asked. The inquiry was met with instant enthusiasm.

"Last one in is a dweeb!", he replied and dashed off before I had a chance to react. I hurried after him, and even though I was quicker on my feet I didn't have enough time to catch up with his head-start. Raphaél jumped in, doing half a flip in the air and landed curled-up on his back with a huge splash that sent water flying, splattering all over the black-dressed agents. Quite likely on purpose too, they jumped away, swearing in a good-natured manner.

I dove in too right after, taking more care not to get them any wetter. Swimming up to my angel, I put my arms around him and planted a wet kiss on his mouth. He laughed. Such freedom! We simply fooled around in the water, enjoying the way our bodies touched. We'd sink down beneath the surface, holding our breaths and just intertwine our limbs, caressing each other. Our hair flowed like strange sea algae in the water and touching his was a strange and exhilarating experience.

"Aaww, look at 'em, isn't it sweet?", John said in his bassy voice to his colleague with a grin as we were fooling around in the pool. I think he both meant it and was joking a little at the same time.

"Since you seem to be so envious, why don't you join us?", Raphaél asked from the water. He was joking, I'm sure, but John seemed intrigued. He cast a look at my father, who was sketching again, sitting in a chair some distance away to not get any water on his sketchblock. Da waved a hand, motioning that it was okay to simply go ahead.

John took off his jacket and then began to unravel his tie knot.

"You're not seriously going to do this?", Matt asked skeptically.

John grinned again. "Sure am! Haven't skinny-dipped since I was sixteen, back home in Louisiana. But you being a city-boy, I figure you've never tried it. Come on, it won't hurt you." Matt shrugged, clearly embarrassed.

"I'm more worried you going swimming actually might be construed as dereliction of duty", he tried unsuccessfully.

John had removed his handcuffs, radio and gun holster, and was unbuttoning his shirt now. "Yeah, that might well be so. But who's going to tell anybody about it? What people don't know won't hurt them."

"But what if something happens?"

The dark-skinned agent scoffed in a good-natured manner. Matt fidgeted as John continued to goad his partner along. "You're not going to be less of a man than I, are you?"

"Less than you? Never! But I'll get you later for this..." Matt also took off his jacket and started working on his tie.

"Haha! You'll thank me!"

They both proceeded to strip off their kit, folding it all up nicely and keeping the important stuff close at hand. Such as their sidearms, compact, black, powerful-looking weapons. Me and Raphaél could not help to study their other, eh, equipment... Especially since they both were most impressive, especially compared to ourselves. We both giggled, our faces pressed together as we embraced in the water, and I think they knew what our eyes were staring at, but they took it all in stride. They were both rather well-muscled too, John with an abundance of black hair on his broad chest, Matt almost entirely clean, only some blonde fuzz on his lower arms and legs.

John dived in. It was a graceful dive, his body made a splash, sure, but it was controlled, somehow. He came up again and propelled himself forwards using powerful butterfly strokes, quickly reaching the shallow end of the pool. "Yeah. Oh yeah! This is great!", he cheered. "Come on you coward! Stop being such a big wuss!"

Matt dove in too. A little less skillful, but still pretty decent. He came up, puffing air like a whale.

It really was great, all four of us playing and splashing around. It was all completely harmless fun. I hitched a ride on John's back, him sticking in his arms under my angled knees, and Raphaél did the same with Matt. My angel and I then started to grapple, seeing who of us could topple the other pair. I had a good grip on Raphaél, and I ordered my steed to back away. Matt's feet slipped momentarily on the slick bottom of the pool and couldn't follow quick enough, and slowly they both crashed into the water. Raphaél didn't let go of me however, he wanted us to share his fate and he pulled at me with all his might. John didn't fall; he just leaned forwards a little and unceremoniously tipped me off into the drink, laughing heartily with his deep voice.

As we all came up to the surface, huffing and puffing, he was standing with his arms raised in the air. "All hail to the King!", he said and grinned at us. We simultaneously decided to swarm him, to wipe that grin off his face. Down he went, sharing our fate!

Me and Raphaél were lying next to each other on our bellies on the tile surface next to the pool, drying off, our bodies touching along their length. I had my arm across his shoulders, feeling his warm skin. Matt was already back in his clothes again, having borrowed a towel to dry himself with. He didn't seem to enjoy nudity much. John however was stretched out on the same sunbed he'd been sitting on, seeming very far from his normal Secret Service agent self. Or maybe it was the other way around. Yeah... Probably the other way around. He did in fact seem to be himself right then. But his agent half was part of him too, just a different aspect of the same calm, laid-back man.

"Wanna go see my room?", I asked. Rhetorical question, it seemed.

We hurriedly excused ourselves.

"I should follow", Matt said. "Make sure they're safe..."

"Oh, give it a rest will you...", I heard John mutter from his sunbed just before Raphaél and I went inside. "They're smart enough not to get up to anything stupid."

My room's fairly large, and it's fairly open too. I don't have much stuff, don't like to live in a cluttered place. Yes, I even clean my own room regularly, I'm kind of a neat-freak. I like the fact I got a balcony too in the new house. It's as wide as my room, and quite deep too. It doesn't stick out from the front of the building; it's part of the roof of the ground floor. The balcony is separated from the room by sliding glass doors that reach all the way from floor to ceiling, and I got curtains I can pull across too if I want extra privacy that are kind of like vertical venetian blinds. Either keep them open for some protection, or close them completely to block off everything. Not that I really need them; the neighbors across the street don't seem nosy at all, and the balcony rail hides most of the view inside, but I still got the option if it should be needed.

The most prominent piece of furniture I got is a double-width waterbed. It really is total overkill for me, but it is sheer luxury to sleep in. Other than that, I got some shelves sparsely populated with books, a desk where I study (if I'm not reading in my bed that is) and not much else. No TV, no computer or such. Don't like it when it gets cluttered; it distracts me. Only computer we got is in mom's study downstairs, and I hardly ever use it. Neither does she, she's home so little...

On the walls, I have a few small landscape paintings my father did when I was a little kid. They're all very simple, almost like a child's drawings, but of course I still keep them. Raphaél studied them and marveled. However, I hadn't taken him to my room so he could look at my Da's landscapes, so I turned him away and made him sit down on my bed.

It was wonderful, just feeling his body heat. Kissing him with my eyes closed, touching his luscious hair, stroking his young, naked body. Knowing he wanted it, liked it, as much as I did. He simply soaked up all my love and attention like a dry sponge, it was great. He soon climbed up into my lap, facing me, and I sank down deeper into the mattress... It was all I'd ever wished for I think; my fooling around with other kids had been nothing in comparison, we'd always kept our clothes on for starters.

"I can't believe your parents just let you come over like this", I said after our intense making-out session had subsided. "I mean, with the war on terrorism still going on and all?"

"Of course they didn't. But you haven't seen me when I get going, they had to let me."

That kinda made me worry. "So, what did you say?", I probed gently.

He almost faltered. "Stuff... I wouldn't actually have done any of it, I just threatened."

"My poor angel, never even say anything like that! Never!"

He started sniffling, and I held him close. "I won't. I promise..."

"Love you. My angel... Always. Always..."

I comforted him, us two just sitting on the bed and embracing each other. Raphaél was upset for a while, and I simply told him how much I loved him, kissed him and hugged him and was there for him to cry on. I couldn't believe how much affection I had for him, my angel, I just wanted me and him to be happy together, forever. He was beautiful even when sad, and I told him that too. Eventually, he calmed down.

"They wanted me to see a shrink", Raphaél told me softly. "You know, after... After that thing."

"...So? Did you?"

"No! I'm not crazy you know!"

I stroked my angel's upset face, smoothing out the anger shown on it. "I know you're not crazy! You don't have to be to talk to a shrink, you know", I told him softly. "Silly you!"

"Well, I'd just rather talk to you I think..."

I think I blushed a little. "Thanks... Anytime."

I had always been the active one in my previous exploits (most of which had likely been with curious, but otherwise straight guys I think), but now I found that Raphaél was the one leading on. He took charge, and I didn't mind it the slightest. No more talking. Only loving... He pushed me down on my bed and placed himself on top, sitting with his legs on either side on top of me. It was all very new to me, I had never gone that far before with anyone, only in my fantasies and dreams. But my angel knew, either out of experience or just plain instinct. Knew what to do, where to touch, or kiss, to drive me halfway out of my mind. I felt so safe with him, it was alright with me letting him be the active one.

He had his arms around me as he began to rub his dick against mine, his fingers gripping the back of my shoulders tightly. I can't possibly describe the feelings that were welling up in my brain, the one word that comes to mind is one that were almost worn out by my father's hippie friends in decades past: nirvana.

I felt my lover's cute buns, they were just the right size for my hands. Not too small, and not too large. Firm muscle, and lovingly soft skin. They flexed and relaxed as he moved his body against mine... "Aaah", I groaned out of pleasure. "That's... Aaahh!" I was biting my lower lip, sucking in air in long hissing breaths. I felt the pressure building in me, my neck and back arching, pushing myself even harder against my lover. His mouth was on my lips one second, then my throat, and when I pushed into him, he'd reach down and kiss my chest too. I was going to have my first orgasm with another boy, it was so intense! I stroked my angel's supple neck, letting my hands glide in under that thick chain of his. I felt its weight, solid gold as it was. I felt the tips of his fingers pressing into my shoulders, his nails making small crescent-shaped marks in my skin.

And I knew Raphaél was enjoying himself as well. ...Or was he?

I looked at him, and I knew there was something wrong. He had a look of fervor on his face, panic almost. He ground into me with such force! There was ecstasy there on his face just like on mine, but it was tainted by that fervor. Suddenly my back was stinging with pain, Raphaél literally clawing at my skin!

"OWWW!", I yelled out and without thinking pushed him away, not able to stop myself. "That really hurt, man!" I said as I sat up and reached around my back with a hand as best I could. As I touched myself I winced out in pain again. The finger came back smeared with a little blood.

Raphaél looked at me, truly frightened this time, and then he again began to cry. Desperately so, even. My rash anger melted immediately at seeing him fall apart like that, and I threw my arms around him.

"Hey man, it's okay...", I told him.

"No! It's not okay", he sobbed. "I always screw everything up, it's all I'm good at..." He couldn't speak for several seconds as deep sobs wracked his small body. "You hate me, I know it!"

There was no stopping him. No matter what I said, he just continued to cry those bitter tears, not wanting to believe what I said... I felt completely helpless, nothing I said or did reached him! So I did the only thing I could think of to shut him up.

I took his beautiful head in my hands and planted a soft but firm kiss on his luscious lips. He tried hard to pull away, but I made sure I kept my grip on him, being the stronger one of us. Firmly, and lovingly, not forcefully! Finally, I heard him gasping for air, and I released him. He inhaled sharply, and the tears were gone! Oh, his face was still streaked by them, but at least no new ones came forth...!

I smiled at him, and slowly caressed his face by moving my hands down his cheeks and neck, over and over, loving how good it felt. My hands got wet, and that didn't bother me at all. I simply wiped away his sorrow, and made it evaporate. "You silly you", I said warmly. "I don't hate you! You're my angel, remember? How could I hate you?"

His face twitched a little again. "But... I scratched, hurt you...", he managed.

"It's okay. It really is." I thought I understood him at last. Understood his fears. I'm just thirteen you know, but I still understood, don't ask me how or why please because I could not tell you. "You're just trying too hard, that's all! Relax, okay? I'm not going anywhere, we have all the time in the world... I'm not going to disappear or abandon you."

His face suddenly hardened. "Yeah right... I've heard THAT one before."

"What do you mean?" I wasn't accusing him, I felt genuinely worried. I tightened my embrace on him. He looked away, ashamed. "Please, Raphaél! You can tell me..."

I took his head again in my hands, kissing him on the lips as softly as I could. I stroked his wonderful hair, touched his cheeks with mine and soothed him. Slowly he started talking, me holding my arms around him protectively. I don't think he'd said a word unless he knew he could trust me completely. He had his doubts, but they seemed to be in himself, not in me. I did everything in my power to make sure his trust was kept intact, and that must have calmed him I think.

It had happened several years ago, when he'd been living in Maine where he'd grown up. His father had been a state politician then, friends with the state's senator, one Mr. Livingston whom I'd never heard of I think. The senator had two sons, twins, a bit older than him at the time (and thus, also me). The two families spent a lot of holidays together, and one summer, just when Raphaél's father's career had started to take off for real they'd both seduced my angel, separately. He was told by both of them to keep it a secret from the other twin. He had quickly become very attached to them, fast to please them in every way possible. My angel's father wasn't around much, neither was his mom (she was a lawyer), and he didn't have many other friends except the twins. If they wanted candy or something, my angel would go get it for them, most often even paying out of his own pocket. If they wanted to play a game, he'd agree immediately. If they wanted to do other stuff, he felt compelled to go along with that too, not wanting to lose their friendship. He was like a little pet, following at their heels wherever they went. They were never really mean to him, but they never showed him half as much attention as he did towards them.

What Raphaél hadn't known was that it all was an orchestrated plan by the two, and one day my angel had been tricked into finding the twins together in bed. They had laughed at him and ridiculed him, wounding him deeply in the process. Raphaél did not know why they'd done it, maybe they'd grown tired of having him as their plaything. Maybe they'd expected to scare my angel off, and then have him come crawling back since the two of them was just about his only really close friends. However, Raphaél hadn't done that. He rather stayed lonely instead.

"I'm so sorry!", I said to him. "That was truly a cruel thing to do! I could never do anything like that to you, I love you! Do you understand?" My angel was shaking. The story hadn't been anywhere near as clear and concise as the above, he'd jumped back and forth in time, describing events haphazardly and sometimes confusingly, but I puzzled it all together anyway. "Raphaél, my angel! Do you understand?"

He didn't respond, he was so upset. Christ, I could only imagine how I would have felt, had I gone through what he had... I simply held him in my arms as my angel started crying again. But this time it felt better I think, it was purer tears now. Tears of relief, and of comfort. He understood I would not leave him I think, and it must have been such a relief for him after all this time he'd spent alone and in fear. Guys aren't supposed to cry you know, especially not when our age. But we felt no shame either of us, it was only natural. Sometimes we have to cry, it's just as simple as that.

I held him, and gave him warmth, and let my lips brush against his smooth, pale skin. Raphaél sniffled cutely and put his head on my shoulder, hugging me close to him. "Yes, Sebastian... I think I do", he finally said with a quivery voice. "And... I love you too", he whispered so quietly I almost couldn't hear him.

"I love you! You KNOW I do! I want to keep you safe from everyone who wants to hurt you, my sweet beautiful angel." I patted him on his cute butt, which made him snuggle in even closer to me. For no reason, I wanted to ask him. I'd been thinking about it, but I wasn't sure. "Tell me, when's your birthday? Mine's..."

And we both said it at the same time with one voice. "December thirty-first."

I looked at him. He was still distraught, and I had difficulty to catch his eyes with mine, but I managed. "You know what this means, don't you?", I told him softly. "We're ALSO twins..." He finally smiled back at me, even if just a little. I knew he was starting to feel okay again. I pulled up the bed covers and wrapped them around him, and soon we were both lying down under them in my big bed.

It was now late afternoon, maybe even early evening (I don't have a watch; they make me feel stressed and I don't like that), and I could see that Raphaél was very tired. I was lying down behind him, his head resting on my arm. The other arm I had wrapped around his chest, and soon he fell asleep I think. I just laid there, feeling incredibly protective and so very much in love. It was the greatest feeling ever, nothing previous in my life compared to it. I just knew I wanted to keep my angel safe and happy, to be with him always. I placed small, soft kisses of love on his shoulder. Tasting his skin very carefully, so he wouldn't wake up... I might have dozed off a little, I'm not sure. But I don't think so.

After a while, who knows - or cares - how long, there was a quiet knock at the door.

"Come in", I said in a low voice, and John entered. He was back in his costume uniform again, all except his feet which lacked both socks and shoes I noted.

"How are you guys doing?" He seemed a bit awkward, with us in such an intimate position.

I grinned a little. "He's sleeping", I replied softly. "I don't wanna wake him up..."

John carefully sat down on the edge of the wide bed, making it bounce me and my angel a little as water sloshed around in the mattress before settling down again. "Sorry kid, but you'll have to. Time for your friend to go, it's almost nine." I saw Matt standing in the door too, he didn't come inside however. He was holding Raphaél's clothes in a neat bundle in his arms. "It's what we all agreed on, even Raphaél. Transport's already arrived downstairs...", John added.

I hadn't heard the cars arriving, but I should have known. I felt sad, but of course I knew I couldn't keep him forever, it wasn't realistic. He was the son of the President after all...

I shook my angel softly. He muttered something and started curling up in a ball, not wanting to come back to the real world. "Hey..." I whispered into his ear. "Ya gotta wake up now, okay?" I shook him again, slightly more vigorously.

"I don't wanna go back...", he mumbled, and then I knew he was awake. "I don't wanna..."

I rolled Raphaél over to his back, his legs folded out as he moved, and I slithered on top of him and gave him a wet kiss on his mouth. Raphaél was semi-erect for some reason I noticed, maybe he'd been dreaming. But now he was fully awake, and he reacted to my kiss. I just wanted to feel him for one last time before he'd be gone. Again, perhaps forever. We held each other close for a little while, and then Raphaél got up, out of the bed. I suddenly felt cold, now that his body heat no longer warmed me. Cold, and alone.

Silently he put on his clothes again, looking so small and lonely. I sat in my bed, keeping the covers draped over me to not unnecessarily embarrass John and Matt. When my angel was fully dressed he started walking out of my room, not looking back. It was as if he was thinking it was too hard to say goodbye to me, better to simply leave. I could not let that happen!

I jumped out of bed after him and rushed up to him, not caring I was naked. I had but put my hand on his shoulder when he turned around with such speed he almost scared me and grabbed me in his arms. I saw his small mouth widen in a big, beautiful smile.

"My angel! I will see you again, won't I?"

"Yes, you will", he told me warmly and with certainty. Then he kissed me on the side of my neck. Once, lightly. Then more firmly, attaching his mouth to my skin like an octopus sucker. "There!", he said proudly. "Now you have something to remember me by!" A hickey! I blushed. "Now me!", he demanded.

I complied, putting my mark on his neck too. I made it really stand out.

We laughed, and Raphaél caressed my cheek with a hand. "Just 'til tomorrow, right? Just 'til tomorrow."

I nodded, suddenly too overcome with emotions to be able to speak. My angel gave me a look full of love, and that made me totally unable to speak, almost unable to breathe even.

Watching him go was again one of the most difficult moments of my life, but he did go. It was almost a quarter past nine, and mom hadn't come home yet. I asked Da, and he said he thought she was having a business dinner but wasn't sure. He didn't sound worried, even though I was. I was totally convinced she was with Bill. Da was sketching again. He'd been doing that a lot recently I suddenly realized.

I was in bed when mom finally got home, some time after eleven. I'm fairly certain she went almost straight to bed too.

I slept fitfully (I almost never have trouble sleeping), and my dreams were strange and horrible. Not true nightmares, they simply were very peculiar and suddenly I'd get really scared in the dream (for no obvious reason) and wake up. I'd be so frightened I couldn't move for what felt like minutes and I'd be afraid of going back to sleep because it might happen again. Which it did. Three times that night. It was truly awful, but fortunately I could not remember a thing of what had happened in any of them, it was all gone in seconds after waking up; only the fear remained and that dissipated too eventually. Towards the early morning hours, I finally got some normal sleep, but after Da woke me up I felt more tired than I had when I went to bed. I dragged myself downstairs and to the breakfast table, Da tried to make me cheerful by telling silly jokes and stuff, but it was still difficult and I could not laugh. Mom was already gone, having left for work early. Da always makes me a nice hot breakfast, often I get ham and eggs, or pancakes or such. Sometimes he makes me oatmeal. I'm not too keen on it, but he keeps telling me it's healthy, so I eat it anyway. I don't want to disappoint him. I don't have cereal in the morning, but sometimes I munch down a small bowl when coming home after school.

I packed my bag and went to school, taking the bus as usual. I should have been looking forward to getting there, Raphaél had said he'd be there. But I didn't dare to believe it, what if he wasn't? I'd probably get so upset I'd have to go straight back home again... So I was morose and uncommunicative throughout the whole bus ride. I tried not to be rude to those I knew that lived along my own route, but I was definitely short with them. As I'm usually very open and talkative, people got very confused when I told them I'd rather be left alone and not spoken to. Some thought I was trying to pull their leg and just wouldn't shut up or go away. That's when I got a bit unpleasant. I think I said something like, "what part of shut the hell up didn't you understand, idiot?!" to Aaron Weissman, a slightly pushy but overall pretty cool guy (whom I'd gladly would have invited home before I met Raphaél). He gave me a wounded look that included a silent question what kind of implement I got stuck up my ass. I wanted to say I was sorry, but I wanted to be alone even more so I didn't. At least, hurting him DID make him go away... And nobody bothered me again after that so at least I didn't have to hurt anyone else as well...

I waited until all the other kids had exited the bus before leaving. The driver was at the point of kicking me out when I finally did leave, I think...

I slowly walked off the bus, apprehensive and my stomach filled with butterflies fluttering about like crazy. I really did not want to be there, but what could I do? I walked inside the gates to the school and stopped. My eyes scanned the yard, searching. I looked in the direction of that fateful bench that had started it all. The one that seemed to sit in perpetual shadow from the tall school building... It was empty, and all my hopes were dashed. I'd never experienced such pain I think, I just wanted to turn around and run away right then, run away and cry. I almost did just that, but something stopped me.

There was SOMETHING there on that bench... Not Raphaél. But something small, white. Something fluttering slightly in the light wind. I started walking towards it, and suddenly found myself running instead. What was that thing? And why was I getting so excited right then? It was a...


It was long, and white as snow, stuck into a small glass bottle with a wide opening that stood on the bench. The end of the feather was covered with what looked like white, light, fluffy hairs, and tied to the end of the stiff shaft was a piece of string that led to a small note hanging on the outside of the bottle. I carefully extracted the feather in order to not damage it. 'To Sebastian' the note proclaimed on the outside, it was held shut with red wax stamped with the United States white-headed eagle seal. I carefully cracked the seal and folded the note open. It was made of a thick kind of paper with a strange grain to it... Expensive, it felt like. My hands were shaking as I started reading. A poem, and three short words. Strange words. I could not understand them.

"You gave me wings, my friend,

freedom I never knew existed.

Supported by your strong hands,

I learned to fly.

In your loving embrace, I am free.

How can I ever repay you?

R. F. A.

Uoy dniheb kool"

I read it over and over. I'd never had anyone write me a poem before, it was very new to me and I felt intensely flattered. But the last three words confused me. Kool what? "Huh?", I muttered to myself. Then I understood.

Not kool. LOOK. Look...behind... LOOK BEHIND YOU!

So I did.

"Gotcha there, didn't I?", he said, grinning wide at me, again not a hint of petulance in sight! I hadn't heard him sneak up on me!

I didn't know what to say, so my lip began to quiver and I almost broke out into tears but I barely caught myself in time. He took my hands in his, and when he saw how upset I was, he gave me a quick hug. I hugged him back, feeling his body holding me and comforting me, and then we let go. I had no idea why I was acting so weird, can love really do these sort of things to you? I hadn't known it was possible!

"Feeling better now?", he asked warmly and a little anxious. I could see John and Matt coming towards us, out of the school building. They had all been standing inside the main entrance doors, looking out through the windows it seemed.

I nodded at him, then sighed deeply out of relief. "Yeah, I think so... I was just a bit worried your parents wouldn't let you come back to school, you know..." I wanted to hold him and kiss him like I'd done when we met the day before, but somehow that just didn't feel right. I did it in front of the Secret Service agents, but that was back at my own place. I don't think I'd worried that much about outing myself, but I didn't want to out Raphaél, he had enough to worry about as it was.

He smiled a little. "No, they didn't try to stop me. Don't fret. Wild horses couldn't keep me away..."

I think I blushed just a little. 'Keep me away FROM YOU', he meant. I knew he meant it. I looked at my angel properly. He was back in his normal school attire again, the dark, proper clothes he always wore. But I remembered how free he'd been in those casual clothes he had worn when visiting me. And even more, when he wasn't wearing anything at all apart from that chain around his neck, and the bands around his wrists...

Suddenly we weren't alone anymore. "You DO have someone, don't you!", Lynn asked in a wicked-sounding voice from somewhere behind me. I turned around and saw her staring at my prominently displayed hickey. "Who's the lucky girl, tell me please!"

"Aah, well...", I started, feeling my face grow hot. Raphaél turned too, facing her.

"Come on, you can say it", she teased in a friendly manner. "Is she prettier than me?" Before I had time to think up something suitable to say to avoid the matter altogether (I did not want to lie to her), she gasped and hid her face in her hands. I understood she'd made some kind of connection, but didn't understand what it was.

"Oh my God...", she said, starting to bloom red beneath her fingers. "Oh my God! This is not happening... This is NOT happening!" She seemed so surprised, so totally taken aback. "TWICE in one summer... I can't believe it!"

"What ARE you yammering about?!", I asked her, truly lost (and not for the first time in her company either).

Her time to blush. "Sorry, Bastian! But..." She pointed at me, and then at my angel. And back again. Several times. Raphael nodded. Her eyes widened, even though she must have known it already. And I understood too. "Why do I always fall for impossible guys?", she wailed, and then laughed. Her blush was subsiding, but she kept hiding her face anyway, like she still felt a bit embarrassed. I did too, in a way.

"Yeah... It's true", I told her slowly. Didn't know what to say, so I had to say something. Suddenly I wanted to be somewhere else. Somewhere far away.

Lynn caught hold of one of my hands, her face suddenly very solemn. "Oh Bastian! Don't be ashamed!"

"I'm not ashamed, dammit. I just never expected it to be so obvious!" I was a little angry at myself right then I think. Angry for being sloppy, and possibly putting my angel at risk.

"It's not obvious!", Lynn countered. "Well... With you, maybe. You always did strike me as kind of gay actually, in a way." She giggled, not unpleasantly, and patted my hand to reassure me. "But not Ralphie here. That I did not expect."

"His name is Raphaél", I said a little sourly. My angel smiled at me, pleased, and took my other hand in his and began to stroke it softly. I blushed more.

"Yes, I know... Sorry, old habit I suppose... Well, I guess I gotta go now. I've embarrassed you two enough for today I think. See you guys later, okay?" Lynn withdrew herself. She waved at us as she walked off, smiling.

I looked at my angel, he looked at me. My hand was still in his. Nobody seemed to have noticed, Raphaél had always been kind of invisible in the school yard, and the same seemed to be true for me too when I was with him.

"What did she mean by that?", I asked Rapháel, almost feeling a little worried. "Do I really look gay?!"

He smiled at me, affectionate, but surprised too. "Yeah. I would say so." He saw the reaction on my face and quickly explained. "Not that you're feminine or anything! I don't mean it like that. But... It's the earrings, I think. Never seen a guy with flower earrings before. Or maybe your hair, the way you always take care to make it look good, you know... Or something else, the way you carry yourself, the way you move. Or something you radiate. I think I knew it even the first time you came to talk to me, and that's why I dared kissing you that first time. And, you're just so totally...pretty! Never seen ANYONE who looks as cute as you, Bastian... So maybe you do look a bit girly, but in a good way!"

I wasn't quite sure what to say, so I just smiled a little back to him, lowering my face and blushing slightly again. It was nice things he said about me after all. I let him hold my hand with his cool fingers (which had had time to almost warm up). "You didn't think I was a leech then?", I finally asked.

My angel shook his head. "No. They're always gushing on and on about how cool it is to meet me and how much they want to be my friend and some ask if I'd like to invite them even. You just said hello and would have gone away again if I hadn't stopped you..."

Yes, he was right. I would have gone (hoping he'd stop me), but I'd be back again the next day and the next and... Until I'd caught him. But I didn't have to, he caught me instead.

We sat down on the bench together. I wasn't even aware of John and Matt anymore, it was as if they simply were part of the surroundings, not people at all. We simply sat there on the bench, quietly holding hands, and I felt safe. Nobody cared about us. I saw Lynn across the yard, she was talking with Vicky, Jane and Pete, three young, bored rich-kids who pretended to be much older and more sophisticated than they really were (Vicky's my age, Jane and Pete a year older I think). They were sort of okay company if nothing else was available, but pretty shallow and a bit dull. They talked a lot about the various parties they'd been to and all the celebrity people they'd met there, and what their parents did, and the cruise/ski trip/safari/whatever they were going on (which they thought was going to be SOOO boring, yet tried to impress everybody else with all the same). They weren't bad people by any means, just somewhat self-centered and a bit dull and boring. It wasn't their fault, they'd been raised to behave that way.

Pete knew my dad was an artist. He said they got one of his paintings hanging in their summer home in L.A., and that he thought it was strange. Well, chances are I'd agreed with him if I'd known which one it was. As I've said already, they all look the same to me for the most part...

The bell rang. Time for us to separate, if only for a little while. We stood up together, and then it just happened. We kissed. It was just a small kiss, but oh my god, what a kiss it was! It was totally exhilarating. I think it was Raphaél that started it, but I wasn't far behind. It just felt so right. Our lips touched just briefly, and it was enough to drive away all my fears. My angel loved me, above all else! And I him.

Then we walked into the school together with our escort and parted ways. We didn't say anything, we didn't have to, but we gave each other a look promising we'd see each other again soon.

The rest of that Wednesday was fairly uneventful in comparison. We spent a lot of time together when not in class, not on the bench, but we walked around the large school yard and along the inner wall, talking. I got to know Raphaél better. He told me he liked to hike, his family used to do that before his father had become too involved in politics. He was a fan of Akira Kurosawa movies, and had even started learning Japanese to be able to watch them in their original language. I'd never heard of a thirteen year old boy who liked Japanese movies before (unless it was Animé stuff), but I guess there's a first for everything. He had a large salt-water aquarium in his room with three small sharks in it, and a pet guinea pig called Misha (named after the Russian ambassador's son, whom Raphaél had thought to be very cute when he'd been there to visit a few months ago, and the kid had had almost the same reddish-blonde hair color as guinea pigs). Raphaél seemed more relaxed than ever on the surface, but there was something there that I was missing. I didn't see it, because whenever I looked at him, my eyes filled with a rosy shimmer of love and all I could think of was how much I wanted to be with him. I guess I projected those emotions on him too, and that's why I kept missing it.

Next day, it was even more obvious. Something was bothering my angel, but he still seemed bright and cheerful whenever we were together. We'd hold hands sometimes, or give each other a small hug when parting at the end of a break. I guess people were starting to notice, but neither of us cared much. We weren't flaunting our relationship or anything, just not hiding either. Raphaél even joined me and some of my friends (he kept himself a bit to the side, but at least he was there!), and I thought we were having a great time, but we really weren't. My angel was deeply unhappy, and I just plain did not see it. In retrospect, I feel so horribly bad about that, because I SHOULD have seen it. Especially after that awful incident with Geoff but even that went almost right over my head to begin with (I guess I was a bit worried about myself, which makes me feel even worse since I didn't suffer ANYTHING as a result of it, unlike Raphaél).

Geoffrey Eriksen was the son of a famous football quarterback (I think - sports never was one of my main interests. Suppose he could have been a linebacker or whatever too), a Danish immigrant who'd made it big-time in the NFL. And it showed on the kid who was his father, he was our age too but as big or maybe bigger than kids two years older than him. Not really an unpleasant person as far I knew - which was very little, I'd hardly met him, even less spoken to him. He had his own little posse of fellow "thinkers" (if you got your brains in your arm muscles that is) that followed him around, and he usually kept himself well away from those he considered "wussies" rather than bullying them. And that description kind of included me as well, that's why I didn't know him. I'd said hello around the time when I'd just arrived of course, and he said hello too and then blew right past me like I didn't exist. Yeah. Wussy, that's what I was in his eyes.

Anyway, Friday morning. I saw Raphaél sitting at his bench as usual when I arrived, John and Matt a little to either side. And Geoff was there, talking to him for some reason I could not understand (they weren't anywhere near even acquaintances). But I did get it, once I got closer.

"So, what do you and your little boyfriend do together, huh?", he asked in a teasing voice.

Raphaél just sat there and glared back, like he usually did in such situations. But he seemed pressured now too, strained. Like he wouldn't be able to keep it up for much longer. I expected John or Matt to intervene at any second, but they did nothing. Why, I could not understand. But I felt the same anger as I had when my angel had been taken away from me for the first time. I just went blind with rage, not thinking. Which is both good and bad I suppose... If I had been, I'd never dared to do it because Geoff was much bigger and at least twice as strong as me. But I had to do SOMETHING to save my angel!

"Hey Geoff, you cockhead!", I yelled and as he turned around I swung my little fist and socked him right on the nose. He stumbled backwards and went down on his ass, not because of the force of the blow, but more out of sheer surprise. It wasn't a very hard punch I suppose, but he still got a nosebleed. He seemed a bit confused for a few seconds before he'd had time to really understand what had happened. Not more than that though, then he got angry instead.

"You'll regret that, you twerp...", he said threateningly as he picked himself up, looking none too pleased. I'd wounded his pride more than his body (which was actually worse). He pinched a hand around his nose to stop the light trickle of blood and balled his other fist. I could see muscles swelling in his arm. Uh-oh...

I kind of puffed up my chest, raising my own fists and flashed him a hostile look, still defiant. I would go down without a doubt, but I wouldn't cower while I did it.

"That's ENOUGH! Both of you!" Suddenly John was there between us, looking like a thundercloud. "You go clean yourself up!", he told Geoff sharply. And me he pointed a stern finger at, like I was the one at fault! "We will have a talk later...!", he promised.

Geoff muttered something about me cowardly hiding behind other people's backs and retreated without hurrying. I actually felt offended, I would have fought him if I could! But I also hoped I wouldn't have to watch my every step from then until the end of time in case he decided to pay me back some day.

"No, please", Raphaél said to John. "Let's just go instead, okay? I don't want to be here anymore." My angel put a hand on the agent's arm and began to drag him away.

"Hey, Raphaél... You alright?"

He stopped, and for the first time I saw something wasn't as it should. Maybe it was the way his shoulders slumped, I don't know what. "Yeah. I'm okay... I'll... I'll see you later, okay? I'm just going to go do some stuff..."

"Uh... Okay." I didn't have a good answer. The right one was of course, 'I'll come with you then!' and simply keep bugging him until he'd relent, but I didn't say that. I just thought he was a bit upset and wanted to cool off by himself. I didn't understand...

I watched him depart, and cast an anxious glance around the schoolyard, in case Geoff was there to pounce on me when I was no longer under the wings of the protective Secret Service. I saw no trace of him, he must have gone into the school too, maybe to try and clean his shirt (wouldn't do much good, blood doesn't wash out easily).

I expected Raphaél to come out again, but the school day started without me seeing him. I wasn't too concerned at first though, but when the first break also passed and I still hadn't seen him at all, I started to wonder. Second break came and passed. I began asking questions, nobody had seen him. Had he left altogether? He had said he didn't want to be there after all...

Lunch break, Geoff came up to see me as I exited the cafeteria. My heart leapt up in my throat, I was sure he was going to clobber me (my courage was completely gone right then and I almost peed myself). All he did however was put a hand on my chest to make me stop.

"Hey guy... It's cool. Just wanted to say it."

I tried to keep my voice under control. It wasn't easy! "Uh-huh", I managed to tell him back (and I still felt like peeing my pants).

"I'm not going to bash your face in, if that's what you think. It's not worth my time to beat up a twerp like you anyway. Just don't hit me again, or I might change my mind, ya know what I'm saying?"

I squared my shoulders. "You just stay away from Raphaél and I won't!" It was much too bold a statement. I was totally out of my league, I knew it only all too well, and Geoff definitely knew it too.

He grinned. It was neither a friendly, nor unpleasant grin. It totally lacked emotional depth like there was nobody living inside his head. "You caught me off-guard last time, twerp. It won't happen again. Like I care what you little queers get up to together anyway. Stay the fuck outta my way both of you, and we'll all get along just fine."

"Gladly." I felt like sticking my tongue out at him, but decided not to push my luck.

He cast me a sharp look like he'd read my mind about that last thought, then turned and left. I breathed a silent sigh of relief, glad at still being in one piece.

About half of the lunch break had passed. I was still looking around for Raphaél, and could not find him. I sought out Lynn instead, she was glad to see me and didn't seem to notice my inner turmoil. She was in the company of several of her girlfriends, I knew them just a little. They giggled as I approached, intrigued.

"Emma says she likes you", Lynn told me confidentially and in a rather loud voice. (She made the two opposites able to co-exist, somehow.) "She's such a fag-hag. And no, I did not tell her either, just so you know!" No need to ask what she hadn't told her friend. It didn't really bother me, I'd kind of known the day would come anyway. Just never expected it to be so soon... By then, most everyone seemed to know, or at least suspect. Or maybe it was my imagination. I tried to feel comfortable with the situation, but it would have been easier with Raphaél at my side.

Emma giggled again. "Hello", I told her. More giggles, from everyone. We talked a little, nothing serious. Just shared our opinions on the various teachers and stuff. Emma seemed like a nice girl too, a bit shy I thought. None of them asked about Raphaél, nor even mentioned him. Guess they thought it was a bit of a sensitive topic (or maybe I was imagining things again...). Lunch break ended. No sight of my angel...

English class after lunch, the teacher collected our book reports and everything was just like it used to be. At least on the surface. Underneath, everything was completely topsy-turvy. Darn it, Geoff! Why did you have to be such an insensitive bastard?! I guess I wasn't paying as much attention as I could. At least I knew Matt and John was with my angel, they'd look after him. Keep him safe...

But then again, they'd not done a very good job of that in the morning...

Bell rang, and Mrs. Daniels, our teacher called me up to her desk as everybody was leaving. She didn't exactly give me a lecture, but I knew she wasn't pleased that I hadn't concentrated on her lesson. I was humble and said I was sorry, trying to get away as quickly as I could.

The butterflies were back, stronger than ever. I could almost feel it in the air that something was amiss.

I walked around on the school yard, alone. It was like a dream, it felt like. I was alone, nobody paying me any heed. I saw kids laughing, running around. Some passing me by close, not stopping, not talking to me. I was alone, as if inside a hollow glass sphere. It pushed everybody else aside, it blocked out almost all sound. What reached me felt distant, faint somehow. As if I got cotton plugs in my ears. I spun around slowly, looking up at the sky. It was blue and dotted with high-flying fluffy clouds. Distant, just like me. Spinning made me a little dizzy, so I stopped.

Had I looked in the right direction, I'd seen him. Matthew, standing on the wide stairs up to the main entrance. Scanning, checking every face against a mental image with robot-like precision until he'd located me. It did not take him long. He hurried, somehow without hurrying.

I felt a big, strong hand on my shoulder and looked up. The bubble broke with a silent but ear-shattering crash. Sound returned to my ears, startling me as much as Matthew's hand had done.

"Hey, Bastian...", he said softly. I saw his handsome face, serious and stern, but with a worried edge to it underneath.

All my pent-up nervousness and worry was released, and I started shaking a little. "Is it very bad?", I asked for some reason, I don't know where the question had come from.

Matt's stern face softened. "Kid... It's easier if you just come with me."

"Is it bad?" I was CERTAIN it was. Don't ask me why, I was nearly hysterical underneath the surface and probably couldn't have told you even the address of my house right then had you asked me. I was nothing but raw emotions and exposed nerves.

Matt gripped my hand, seeing the state I was in, and started leading me away. I followed like a sheep being taken to slaughter, fearing the worst.

I came to the same restroom where Raphaél had shown me his greatest secret. A faint smell was in the air, like some kind of cleaning agent. A door to one of the toilet stalls stood leaning up against a wall, split almost right down the middle. John's handiwork, I was sure. The man was kneeling where the door had used to be, talking softly to someone. Raphaél. Matt stood behind me in the doorway. Maybe guarding it, I'm not sure.

My angel was sitting on the edge of the toilet seat, looking awfully pale. I was relieved, he was okay...

I saw John quickly put something away in the pocket of his jacket, some small, orange plastic thing it looked like. It rattled a little as the big man hid it out of sight, and it didn't concern me much right then.

"Hey... You okay?" Stupid question, I could see he wasn't.

My angel shook his head weakly. I saw his black armbands lying on the floor, both of them neatly sliced into ribbons for some reason. There was an important piece of information there, it was just dawning on me and it made my body shiver with fright.

"Hey John... Could we get some time alone you think?", I asked. My voice was much steadier than I expected.

"Sure. I don't see why not. Matt?" The handsome, blonde agent nodded. "We'll be right outside if you need us." They withdrew, solemn but deeply concerned all the same.

We were alone. I kneeled at Raphaél's feet. "That was a carpet knife, right?" He shook his head again, but I knew I was right. "Look at me, please." He refused, his face strangely absent of emotion, apart from that paleness. "Dammit, Raphaél! You had a knife. You cut your armbands and you were going to cut yourself AGAIN! John got scared and broke the fucking door down and stopped you, isn't that right?!"

His small chest heaved and I heard air force itself out of him, like a dry sob. No tears.

"Raphaél! You PROMISED me! Never again, you said it yourself!"

"I..." He slowly got up from the toilet and tried to squeeze past me. "I don't feel so good...", he mumbled and his face got even paler. I quickly stood up on my feet, and as I did, I SAW the lights go out inside his eyes and he lost all rigidity. He'd crashed to the floor had I not been there to catch him!

"Jesus! Hey, Raphaél!" His entire body was as inert as a sack of flour, his head flopping about like it was some kind of ventriloquist's dummy that wasn't filled by it's master's hand. My angel was too heavy for me to hold for very long, I had to put him down on the floor (a part of me hoping it wasn't too filthy). Raphaél was out cold and I didn't know what the heck to do! Give him water? No, he might choke. Slap his cheeks, would that wake him up? I didn't know, and I just could not bring myself to actually hit him, so I started yelling instead. "HELP! John, Matt! Help me!", I screamed in distress, panic creeping into my voice.

They were both there instantly, calmly surveying the scene for just a second or two it seemed to me, then they were down by his side checking my angel's pulse, his breathing. I stood there helpless, tears rolling down my cheeks.

"It's alright kid...", Matt told me. "It's only an anxiety attack. He's had them before, he'll be alright in a minute or so."

"Whaddya mean BEFORE?", I replied, distraught. "Does anybody know about it?"

"He doesn't want anyone to worry. They're harmless. Take it easy, alright?"

I was so angry. "No, dammit! We're leaving NOW! I'm taking him out of here and we're LEAVING! Go call your goddamn transport, we're going home." Matt tried to dissuade me, but I decided right then and there to make an awful scene if I didn't get my way. "GO! Call the limo dammit! Call the fucking Air Force One if you have to, we're going home!" I actually kicked Matt on the leg, I was so angry and upset, and I was crying still. So he left the room.

I heard a faint voice. "I don't wanna go back to that awful place...", it moaned. He had awakened again!

I crouched at my angel's side as he sat in John's lap and put my arms around him. "No you silly you... We're not going there. We're going HOME." It finally dawned on him. A single tear of relief escaped an eye, and then he relaxed completely, eyes closed, his face smooth as that of a sleeping baby.

John gathered my angel in his strong arms and carried him through the school building and out the back entrance, me holding his hand the whole time, lending it warmth. He was so pale still... The service gate in the wall was located there, delivering wares for the cafeteria kitchen and such, I'd never had reason to go there before. It was kind of barren and sterile, but a perfect way of quietly delivering the son of the 'leader of the free world' every morning, and pick him up again in the afternoon. Soon, the big limo arrived. Our way out, our way to freedom.

Finally, Raphaél came home. As the big car pulled up outside our house, he again had the strength to stand on his own two beautiful legs. My arm was around his shoulders as we stood there, looking at the large, white structure. My angel was smiling, his mouth not petulant at all anymore!


Author's Notes:

I always intended the second part to be moodier than the first. As Sebastian worries about his angel, I suddenly found reason to worry about one of my friends too. I'm not sure, most of this chapter has been sketched out long in advance, but it might still have affected the story in more than one way, I can't be certain.

My friend, you know I am always thinking of you! First thing every morning, last thing every night.

There is hope in life, and so is there in this story too.

Third part may be a while, even though I know what I want to tell in the third (and final?) chapter, there is still some groundwork that needs to be done. Plus, I have another, special project brewing on the side which might bear fruit some time soon. It too will be a celebration of life, in a much different manner.

To be concluded in part three...


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