Not as it seems

by Benjamin J. Conner

Chapter 8

Besides the warm and quiet atmosphere, a nearly tangible musty smell was in the air when Ethan sneaked into the basement. The little floor lamp that was placed in the corner next to the door worked as a night light and dipped the room into a fuzzy orange glimmer. Though it was gloomy and difficult to get orientated, Ethan noticed that the bed was still unused.

He assumed that his friend was trying to fight the night in his little hide-out. Only wearing a light blue pajama and socks, he approached the arm chair and hoped to find him there. And he was right. Darren sat on the floor, his head buried between his knees and arms again. It looked as if he was trying to protect himself from something.

Ethan knelt down in front of his friend and softly touched Darren's dark brown hair, which felt a little bit sticky. And as if the little one just woke up, he slowly raised his head and filled with relief looked deeply into Ethan's bright blue eleven year old eyes.

Then, there it was again, a moment of magic where everything just seemed to click into place just by looking into his eyes. There was no pain, no fear - there were no cops, no agents, no detectives, no safe house or anyone who would want to harm any of them. There was no smell, no hard wooden floor, not even the terrible tasting food that Darren had been served the last few days.

The only thing that mattered was the here and now, and that the boys were in one room at the same time and obviously with the same heart-warming appreciation.

Ethan placed his hands on his friend's left arm and wanted to help him get up, but for some unexplainable reason his own body didn't follow his orders for as long as their eyes met. He was unable to understand or tell what was happening or what he felt when he looked into Darren's face. It was confusing and charming at the same time.

Usually Ethan would notice a hundred things in only a second. Things like the hardness of the floor, the warm temperature of the room, the increased humidity, the smile Darren's lips began to form, his sparkling dark brown eyes, the glowing of the thin tiny hairs on Ethan's cheeks or the softness of his skin. But everything seemed to melt together in only one perfectly aligned and indescribable perception, and nothing else was noticeable.

Ethan never had any feeling like this before. He didn't even know what feeling that was or that it existed, but that wasn't important. He enjoyed the moment for as long as it took.

If you would want to find a word for it, the only word that could possibly describe it was...perfection. Everything seemed to be alright....complete and in harmony.

The mattress of the old bed was soft, very soft. A little bit too soft for Peter. He woke up every 30 minutes and had to turn around to relax his back and to find a new position where he didn't feel any pain.

This time when Peter woke up he slipped out of bed, went for a pee, and thought it was a good idea to check if his son was alright and sleeping.. Little did he know, that he wouldn't find Ethan in his bed, but when he peeked into his son's room sure enough the boy was gone. His son was as stubborn as Peter himself, so no wonder he wasn't there.

Back in his room with the realization that he knew his son pretty well, Peter asked himself if it was time to be concerned. But then, they couldn't be any safer than in the safe house...unless all these cops, agents or whatever, were the bad guys. In this case it would be more than appropriate to be concerned - no, in this case it would be time to be scared. However, nobody would harm anybody here, as long as Peter was making progress and Darren wasn't talking.

So he relaxed, found himself a new position in the uncomfortable bed and faced the wall again fading off to sleep.

Down in the basement Ethan slowly got back into reality, still being a little bit drunk from the pleasant moment that just passed. He got on his feet and helped Darren stand up, before he took his friend's hand and slowly lead him to the sink.

The dim light from the floor lamp softly painted Darren's physique in orange and light brown colors, like from a candle. His innocent face and the immaculate profile of his features was half lit and half in shadow.

Ethan turned on the water tap, grabbed his friend's shirt at the bottom and carefully pulled it over his head before he wetted the wash cloth. With one hand he held on Darren's right shoulder and with the other he softly started to wash his chest with slow and sensitive circular motions. Every now and then he would stop and clean the wash cloth in the running warm water finding a new spot on Darren's upper body that needed to be cleaned.

Ethan felt like a big brother, like a guardian who had to do this, who wanted to do this. He was there for the one who needed him most and that made him happy....with every clean inch of Darren's silky skin Ethan became more and more satisfied. And besides that, he loved to touch the soft skin that he was cleaning. Darren seemed to enjoy it also and giggled as Ethan let the wash cloth run along his arm pits.

After his little buddy's chest, tummy, his back, the soft neck and his arms were clean, Ethan continued with the beautiful face in front of him....slowly and carefully. The washcloth unstoppable made its way along his round cheeks, the tender red lips, the little nose, his strong but delicate eye brows and his spotless forehead. During all that Darren's gaze never left the eyes of his opposite. He had an impeccable, and for his age, athletic body - no marks, no scars - it was just an angelic appearance.

The last thing to be done was to make him bend over, so Ethan could wash his hair in the running water. A minute later this task was completed also and Darren rose up again. Water drops gathered at the tip of his hair and silently kissed his shoulders and chest until they drew wet trails down on Darren's body which Ethan immediately dried with one of the yellow towels.

After his friend's hair was wild and messy but dry, Ethan thought for a second if it was appropriate to continue the cleaning further down, but was unsure about what to do. He remembered the beautiful moment when they stood in the bath room at home and when Darren undressed to be equally naked. God, what a wonderful and innocent memory it had been at that moment. Just thinking about it made him feel that stirring in his pants again....his entire body longed for another moment like this, but his mind told him different. It told of fear and rejection. So he didn't do anything.

"Darren?" Ethan asked a little shy.

But Darren already knew what he wanted to ask, put one finger on his lips before he smiled and nodded his consent with Ethan's plan. That finally encouraged Peter's son to do what he wanted to do.

The older boy dropped on his knees, removed the socks Darren wore and in slow motion let his fingers move up on the outside of his friend's unbelievably soft but strong legs. There was only a little golden fuzz on them which was barely visible, but when Ethan's finger tips touched them it felt like a million tiny electroshocks which accompanied the sensation, and due to his muscular calves and thighs, curvy trail.

For the eleven year old, this was the first moment of touching another boy with more than just his fingers. He's had contact with hundreds of other boys at swimming, karate, or the special boob magazine secrets he shared with Matt, but this time it was different. This must have been what Darren felt, when he touched him in the bath room at home with his sensitive feelings. Not only that his pants were reacting to the intimacy, but his heart was jumping and turning his emotions upside down. Ethan never wanted that little journey to end, but no matter how slowly he went on, he finally reached the short pants of his ten year old friend.

Darren watched his little guardian as he softly pushed his thumbs into the sides of his pants. Before Ethan started to enjoy the sensational feeling of slowly revealing more and more of Darren's groin, he looked up and once again asked for approval, which he was given with an intense smile. The thin fabric went down, inch for inch and right in front of Ethan's eyes, light and shadow played with each other in harmony before Darren stood there as god had created him.

Before the wash cloth would softly perform his cleaning dance on the rest of the boy's body, Ethan looked up and down on the beauty in front of him. He never had seen such a spotless body, had never been able to look at one so closely and never had the time to watch it for as long as he wanted to. Besides, he had never thought of looking at a boy's body so intently like this before.

Without thinking about it, he came closer to Darren's firm tummy....closer and closer. As he was only millimeters away from his opposite, he closed his eyes and slowly inhaled through his nostrils gathering all that marvelous unique smell he had recognized once before. It was that flattering but distinctive scent he smelled when Darren had lain next to him in his bed at home - he was unable to match it with anything he knew, but would never forget about that sweet and endlessly tempting odor now that the source was right in front of him.

Ethan needed another minute until he was able to do what he initially wanted to do. Now that he was filled with all of those wonderful feelings, it was quite difficult to focus on cleaning the rest of Darren's body. Trying his best, Ethan wetted the wash cloth again and started on the legs in front of him.

For whatever reason Ethan left out the most sensitive and seductive parts that he saw. He didn't dare to touch Darren's penis even though it nearly asked for it with its erotic shape. The only contact he made was with the back of his hand, when he cleaned the inner side of Darren's legs, which sent a tingling feeling through Ethan's body. Didn't he want to touch it? Of course he did, but would Darren like it? Would they feel guilty or gay about it? He didn't know. He didn't even ask the questions, so feeling it was for the best, he continued to focus on what he was doing.

After all that was done, the younger boy put on the borrowed boxers and was lead to the bed by Ethan, who hoped that they could now spend the night together in peace and harmony. This way they both were able to watch out for one another and feel the closeness that was so much needed.

Darren turned around, sat down on the edge of the bed and to Ethan's surprise slowly began to open the buttons of his light blue pajama shirt - one after the other. Ethan didn't complain about it - in fact he liked the idea and the little fellow in his pants reacted with excitement which was impossible to hide. Yet again, this all happened without any of the two saying a word - they just understood each other and knew what they wanted.

After Darren had slipped the shirt off of Ethan, they both hopped into the bed.

Holding his cell phone close to his ear, Terry Walker wandered around on the veranda and tried to explain what had happened this day. By the way the talk went it was obvious that his communication partner seemed more like his boss.

"No Sir, we didn't make any progress, but I'm positive that we'll have the result within the next couple of days."

"Couple of days? Are you kidding me? Mr. Walker, I told you we don't have time for all this nice guy play."

"I understand Mr..."

"DON'T YOU DARE say my name on an insecure line! Listen, I have dedicated my life to this project and haven't slept properly for more than two years now. I didn't even have a simple beer or a fucking blow job during this time and believe me Mr. Walker, I expect nothing less from you! So please focus!"

"Yes Sir."

"Dylan Anderson's report said that the nutrient solution will last for about two years. This time period has been over for more than two months now and it means that he can get instable at anytime and if that happens, we'll loose the chance of our life and with it, millions of people. Due to your trigger-happiness and the inability to handle an armed person, we can't ask him anymore and have to rely on his son - he's our last chance. Do you understand that?"

"I do, Sir."

"Well, then I suggest you do whatever you need to do to get us the information - without it, we're finished."

"But Sir, he still is a child. Any invasive interrogation method is based on drugs. And we can't risk the project by injecting anything into his body....."

"Would you please stop lecturing me, I know that!"

"Good, so what am I supposed to do? I'm not water boarding a kid, Sir."

"Are you having feelings of guilt, Mr. Walker?"

"No of course not, but he's still a child and it's not that easy."

"Well, in this case, I'll have to find somebody else, right?"

"This could also lead to a system collapse and you know that. Give me one more day, please Sir."

"Okay, one more day. But afterwards, I'll have to do something about it. Our client is not going to accept any further delays or my head is going to be chopped off, and when that happens yours is going to fall too."

"Alright, I'll handle it."

With that, the phone call ended. What Terry Walker didn't expect was that Peter was still awake trying to find a way of sleeping on the miserable mattress and through the slightly opened window had listened to what was said. Of course he only understood half of it, but that was enough to get the idea of what was going on. So now, from Peter's point of view it was time to be scared.....actually it was time to act.

Ethan, still being excited about the situation, swung his left arm around the little boy's body and approached him from behind until they made contact. His friend, on the other hand, reacted to this and pressed himself against him. It was obvious, that the little one recognized Ethan's hard dick because it was sticking out like a super trooper, but neither of them complained about it. Instead, Darren wiggled with his bottom and seemed to enjoy the funny feeling he got.

After all he was just a curious boy. Grabbing Ethan's right arm so that he could rest his head on it, they both found each other in a warm and compellingly nearly familiar situation. Everything seemed to be in perfect harmony.

Satisfaction took over and slowly tried to lead them into dreamland, but only for a couple of minutes...

"Ethan, Darren, wake up!" Peter whispered with a concerned voice shaking the two boys who were snuggled up to each other after he sneaked into the secret room. Once again he whispered urgently "Come on boys wake up, we have to leave this place!"

"What? Dad, what's wrong, we just fell asleep."

"I can't explain right now, put on your clothes, hurry!"

The two boys reluctantly got up from their intimate togetherness and still being a bit drowsy put on what Peter handed them. Thank god they decided to leave their pants on, or this could have been an embarrassing situation.

"Dad, please, what's going on?"

"I'll explain later, we don't have time."

"No Dad, I want to stay here with Darren."

"He's coming with us, now!"

"Are they the bad guys?"

"I don't know, but what I just heard was not good. I promise I'm going to explain it, but we have to go now as long as there is time and a chance."

Peter sat down on the bed and turned Darren towards him.

"Darren, I know the two of us had a bad go of things, but I assure you that this is for the best, and I'll never let anybody take you again. Can you trust me, please Darren, just this once."

The silent boy didn't leave any room for doubts here and nodded in determination.

"Good, Ethan, I want you to take Darren's hand and never let go of it unless I say so."


"Boys whatever happens, when I say run you both run like you have to go for the most important home run ever and you don't stop, no matter what happens to me."

"Dad, no, I won't go without you, I want the three of us to be together."

"Me too buddy, me too, but we have to be brave now, just like little William Wallace, you remember the movie?"

"Yeah sure, we've watched it a hundred times."

"Okay, good, will you two be brave and do what needs to be done, no matter what?"

Both nodded in uncertainty.

"If we get separated or you have to make your way alone, you call Frank and tell him to get you. He knows what to do. You got his number?"

"No Dad, it's in my cell."

"Okay, call 911 and tell them that you immediately need to talk to Detective Frank Miller from the VPD in Parksville, alright?"


"Oh, no that's not a good idea. Don't call 911 - here, I'll write it down, but in case you loose it, you have to remember this number 555-5183521, okay? It's Frank's telephone number - memorize it!"

"555-5183521, okay Dad."

"Excellent, wait here, I'll be back in a minute!"

"What about my other things?"

"I'll buy you new ones, forget about them."

"But Dad, I got a picture of Mom in my backpack."

"We have lots of pictures at home, you can pick a new one. Now wait here, back in a minute."

Peter closed the door behind him as silent as possible to check for any guards.

All this happened so fast and was so confusing, that neither of the boys realized if all that was for real or if they were still dreaming. The only thing they remembered was to hold each other's hand.

"Don't worry, I'll protect you." Ethan tried to say with confidence, but slightly failed.

A minute later Peter was back in the basement.

"Okay boys, there's only one guard securing the surroundings and he takes about one minute and thirty seconds for a full round. You will probably need two minutes until you reach the forest. So the only chance is a diversionary maneuver. We get upstairs now and as silent as possible sneak into the kitchen. The light is out and when I say so, you open the back door and run like hell. I'll give the guard something to do and follow you right after. Did you understand that?"

"But what if they catch you?"

"Ethan, promise me, you will not wait for me. Run like you've never run before and watch for Darren."

"I will, promise. But you promise me to not leave us alone, please Dad!"

"I'll do my very best. Remember, you're the most important thing on earth to me and I'll never let you down. That's what I had to promise to your mom and I'm going to keep that promise. I love you Ethan, forever."

Peter grabbed his son and held him tight.

"I love you too Dad."

After Peter let go of his son, Darren followed suit and also threw himself into the man's arms for a long hug. It seemed as if the little boy had started to trust him once again. What a perfect time to reveal it.

"Now, let's go, as silent as possible! Follow me and stick together whatever happens, remember that!"

Ethan came close to his father one more time and kissed him like he hadn't done for a long time.

"I thought you were too old for kissing?"

"Not anymore."

Both smiled at each other while Peter sensitively stroked along Ethan's left cheek. Right after the emotional moment the grown up put on an intensive expression and silently opened the lower door to the basement that lead the way upstairs and into the kitchen. One of the three Detectives, or whatever they were, was sleeping on the couch in the living room. He snored like an old horse which actually was good because he produced some background noise in which the three could hide their movements. Terry Walker was the guard on duty and slowly circled around the illuminated house. Peter didn't know where the third guy was and hoped that he was asleep somewhere else in the house.

It was a little after 11 p.m. when the telephone rang in Peter's assistant's house.

"Hello?" A bleary voice answered.


"Yeah, who is it?"

"It's me, Frank Miller."

"Oh, hi Frank, did you look at the clock?"

"Well, I know it's late and I'm sorry to call you, but did you hear anything from Peter and Ethan."

"No, I didn't?"

"Do you have any idea where they wanted to go for their vacation?"

"He didn't tell me. I don't know why, but he wouldn't answer my question to where they would be going to."

"Same here. Isn't that a little bit strange? I've known him for a very long time now, and he never had any secrets."

"Yes it is, but I can't help you. After all that's happened I can understand why he needed some time alone with Ethan and probably didn't want to be disturbed."

"Yeah, you're probably right, but I was sure that he was going to call me today at the latest."

"You think, something happened?"

"I hope not."

"But you're concerned."

"I am. Actually, I found out what the story about Darren Anderson is all about and it's quite mysterious, but in case only half of it is true Peter and Ethan might be in danger if they come close to the boy once again."

"Tell me what it's all about!"

"I better not talk about it on the phone, but if Peter calls you tell him to call me immediately, okay?!"

"Okay Frank, I will."

"Thanks Carol, sorry for calling you this late."

"No problem, bye Frank."


Peter watched Detective Walker slowly passing the kitchen window.

"Okay boys, when he turns around the corner, I open the door and you run as silent and as fast as possible until you reach the forest! There you hide and wait for a maximum of ten minutes!"

Both boys nodded.

"If I'm not there within the next ten minutes or you see any action here at the house you run away as far as you can and search for a telephone. Remember boys, stick together. Ethan, hold Darren's hand! Can you do that?"

"Yes Dad."

"Okay.....wait....." with a tiny *KLICK* the back door opened and the boys sneaked out. As soon as they reached the green grass, they started to run like the devil was behind them. They ran and ran as fast as they could.

"Come on Darren *breathing* run *breathing* faster..."

While the boys ran for their lives, Peter walked through the house and opened the front door to catch Detective Walker on the other side so that he wouldn't be able to see the kids disappear.

"Peter, what are you doing outside?"

"Hi Detective, I just needed to catch some fresh air."

"You can call me Terry. Unable to sleep?

"Yeah, the bed is...."

"I know, its rubbish, and the boys?"

"Sleeping tight after I allowed Ethan to go downstairs. They wanted to sleep together and I thought that wouldn't hurt. This way Darren at least gets a bit of a family feeling."

"Not a bad idea at all. What are your plans for tomorrow Peter? We have to make Darren talk and to be honest we don't have very much time."


"I can't tell you, but whatever you have up your sleeve it better be the best Ace in the hole and you better play it tomorrow or we'll have to...."


"We'll have to move to a new place and I am not sure that we can take you there as well. It would be best for Darren if he talks by tomorrow evening."

"He's not a computer. I can't just switch him on. All this has to do with a psychotic trauma. I'm sure he's able to talk but he doesn't want to for whatever reason. Why is it so important that he talks? What if I can get him to write it down instead of using his voice?"

"Listen Peter, I can't tell you anything about it because I just don't know anything. But to answer your question, any kind of communication would be as good as talking."

Peter thought that the boys must now have had enough time to disappear in the forest. So he ended the conversation.

"Okay good, I'll look in on the boys again and then I'll try to get some rest. Good night Terry!"

"Good night Peter!"

Terry Walker was so friendly that Peter wasn't able to imagine him as a bad boy. Without listening to the phone call earlier he would have never thought anything like this - what a brilliant actor - so much for Peter's psychological skills.

However, the boys had made it to the forest and Peter knew that they would be waiting for him - the little diversionary maneuver was successful. Nobody thought that the boys were away already. Now the last getaway step was to follow them. Peter thought about the chances he had to escape without being seen and came to a difficult but definite conclusion.

He figured if he stayed here, the boys would have time until morning before anybody would notice that they were gone. If he followed them now, the chances for being caught were way higher and also the possibility for the bad boys to get their hands on Ethan and Darren. But what if the boys decided to wait for him all night or what if they came back in fear of being alone in the dark forest. Peter had to take the risk and decided to stay here, at least until sunrise before he would give it a try and flee. It wasn't a comforting decision for Ethan's father, but it was the best chance for the boys to get away.

"Why isn't he coming?" Ethan asked looking over to the house.

He was full of fear for his father as he still held on to his friend's hand. Darren on the other hand knew that they had to go now and look for a way out of this, even if they were on their own. So he got up and pulled on Ethan's arm.

"No Darren, we can't just leave him like that. I won't go without my Dad."

Once again the smaller boy pulled on Ethan's arm to make him stand up.

"Please, let's wait for another five minutes okay?"

Darren shook his head which was barely visible in the dark night that dominated the area. Only the residual light from the far away safe house lit up the place where the boys were waiting.

"Please let's wait.....or shall we go? I don't know what to do.....Dad, please....." Ethan turned towards his companion, looked at him and in a mix of disappointment and indecision before he continued. "Fuck Darren, why can't you talk?"

A moment of silence followed his accusing question during which Ethan's words seemed to echo in their ears. Only the sound of the forest was heard as the wind constantly made its way through the large trees.

Then, before Ethan was able to decide for the wrong thing, a gentle and confident voice was heard.

"I can talk."

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