The Pretenders

by c m

Chapter 3

A couple of days later, I breeze into Robbie's room as usual to find he's talking to someone online. He waves me over – and I can see that it's Naomi. She sees me and waves.

'Oh hi, Jase…Robbie and I were just comparing notes about when we'll be arriving and what to take with us. Looks like we'll be in the same Hall of Residence, but on different floors.'

'Hi Naomi. That's nice – you'll be able to have coffee with each other.'

'Yes – it's nice to know that there'll be a familiar face just a few rooms away. OK…I'll leave you boys to it – you must be going to miss each other.'

'Like you wouldn't believe,' I say.

Robbie nods.

'OK. Bye for now, Robbie. Look forward to seeing you in a few days.'

And she blows both of us a kiss. Robbie blows her one back, and I give her a wave as she disappears from the screen.

For some reason, I suddenly feel jealous. Which is stupid. It's not as though Naomi is any threat to me – I suppose it's just knowing that she'll have Robbie's company when I won't.

My first term at Uni is wonderful. It's a new way of learning and I'm surrounded by interesting people. I miss Robbie a lot, but we manage to Facetime each other pretty regularly. At least at first. As term goes on, it happens less often. Robbie is busy playing sport in the afternoons and socialising in the evenings. This in turn means he's working into the small hours to fit in the work. So it's no wonder he looks tired and seems a little less than his usual lively self when we do talk. I have a pretty busy life too, so it kind of makes sense. One time Naomi is with him when we chat, so they are clearly still getting on well with each other, which is nice. One thing is certain; time passes quickly for both of us and, all of a sudden, the Christmas vacation is upon us. I can't wait to see him again. We arrange to meet up on the evening of the day we both get home.

I know almost at once that something is wrong. I give him a huge hug, but I'm aware that what I get back in return is less than enthusiastic. I have a terrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

'What's up Robbie? What's wrong?'

'Can we sit down?'


I can see him gathering his thoughts; deciding what to say.

'Jase, I love you to bits. We've been friends for longer than I can remember, and the last two years since we became more than that have been magical. Sex with you has been amazing – it's showed a side of me I didn't know was there until…well…until we did what we do. But – and please forgive me, Jase - I've realised that I'm bi rather than gay. And…there's no easy way to say this, Jase…I've found a girl who I've fallen in love with. I'm so sorry.'

I don't know exactly what happens in boxing when one of the fighters takes a punch to the head and their limbs all stop working and everything goes dizzy, but I imagine it's something like how I am feeling right now. I'm stunned. I don't know what to say. In fact, when I try, nothing comes out of my mouth. Robbie comes over to me and holds his arms out to me, but I am just sufficiently conscious of what he's said to push him away.

'Don't touch me.'

'I'm so sorry Jase.'

I can barely take this in. He's bi. He's found a girl. He loves her. That makes me….


Eventually I find the words to ask a pointless question.

'Who is she, Robbie?'

As if THAT matters.

But it turns out that it does.

'It's…Naomi, Jase.'

And suddenly all of the pieces of the jigsaw come crashing into place. The long afternoon away on holiday. The 'I'm too tired for sex'. The fewer and fewer Facetime calls. The remoteness. His distracted air. Naomi being in his room. How could I have been so stupid as not to put two and two together? Even Kai read the signs better than I did. How naïve am I?

But all I say is, 'Naomi?'

'Yes, Jase. She woke something up in me - just the same as you did.'

'Just the same, huh?' I say bitterly, 'so you're having sex with her?'

'I love her Jase. God knows I don't want to hurt you, but you deserve the truth.'

'What did I do wrong, Robbie? What is she doing for you that I could – should - have been doing?'

'Nothing, Jase. It…doesn't work that way. I still love you – but I'm in love with her. I'm not gay, Jase. I'm bi. And she is…what I want…what I need…'

I can feel the ground slipping away under my feet.

'Don't do this to me, Robbie…please?'

'Jase, we've always been honest with one another. You are the most important friend I have in the whole world. I know this must hurt dreadfully….but I'm stupid enough to hope that we can still be friends – although I'd understand if you never wanted to see me again.'

What he's said is slowly sinking in. And even though I don't want to, I start to cry.

And then Robbie is crying too.

I don't know if his tears awaken a hope in me, or whether it just makes me understand how difficult he is genuinely finding this, but when he tries to put his arms round me again, I hold onto him for dear life.

And through the sobs that are being wracked from my soul, a voice is telling me that I have a choice; accept this and rebuild, or fight a battle that is already lost – and lose Robbie forever even as a friend. And through the tears, with the words coming out in little jerks, I open my heart to him.

'I love you, Robbie, I love you so much – but if this is you, then I have to accept it. I don't want to. I want you to see that you're making a terrible mistake. I hope maybe you'll see that too, one day. But if this is what you want for now, then so be it. But it will take a bit of time before we can be the friends we once were. Maybe a lot of time. I hope you understand.'

And through his own tears, he says:

'Thank you, Jase…thank you so much…thank you for…understanding…at least a bit. I do love you, Jase. I really do.'

'Just not enough.'

It's mean. And it's pointless. But I can't help myself.

'I'm so, so sorry.'

Eventually the tears stop and we let go of one another. Robbie's eyes are red and puffy – and I guess mine are the same.

I stand up.

'I hope Naomi gives you want you want – what you deserve, Robbie. But I'll be here for you. I'll always be here for you.'

And I turn round and walk out.

I don't remember much about that walk home. I think my mother is in the kitchen as I come through the door, but all I want is to be alone in my room and I walk past her without a word. I must have looked terrible, because two minutes later she's knocking on my door. I don't answer.

'Jase...what's wrong? What's happened? Open the door, love. Please tell me.'

I ignore her and collapse on the bed. And the tears start again.

'I can tell you're upset, love…is it OK for me to come in?'

I don't respond. Then I hear the door opening. It's too much. I'm not ready. I look up. And I scream, at the top of my voice,


I see her flinch as if she's been struck, and then she turns and closes the door. And I feel even worse.

'Mum,' I shout, 'Mum…come back. I'm sorry.'

The door reopens a crack.

'Are you sure you want me to come in?'

'Yes, Mum.'

As I turn to face her, I can see the surprise on her face. I must look worse than I thought.

'Oh, Jase, love…what's happened – you've been crying.'

And the dam breaks. And I tell her. And her arms are round my shoulders.

'I'm so, so sorry, Jase. It must hurt so much. But better he acknowledges this about himself now than later, I suppose.'

'I hate him, Mum, but I still love him as well? How can that be?'

'Because what he's done to you is painful, but underneath he's still the boy who's your best friend and who you love. And though it's probably no comfort right now, he's been honest with you at the first available opportunity. and deep down inside he still cares about you, Jase, I'm sure of it.'

'It hurts so much.'

' I know, love. And I know this won't help much either, but it will pass…with time.'

'Thanks for…being here, Mum.'

'You're my son. Why wouldn't I be?'

And she kisses the top of my head.

'I expect you need some time. I'll leave you, but come down and have a drink with us when you're ready.'

'Thanks. I will.'

It takes me about an hour to pull myself together. I feel anger, humiliation and self-pity by turn. But I end up remembering Mum's words about Robbie having been honest at the first opportunity. I don't hate him any less, but weirdly I think I probably do still love him. I go downstairs where both my parents are waiting. Dad says nothing; he just embraces me and puts a large gin and tonic in my hand.

Sometimes I love my parents.

The idea of seeing Robbie again is too painful to contemplate – at least for now. And he's sensitive enough not to call me. But I do get an email from Kai.

'Hi Jase.

Just wanted to say I'm so sorry about you and Robbie. You deserve so much better. I suppose it's not a complete shock that he's come out as bi. I was sort of surprised when he said he was gay – not to mention disappointed that that put you out of my reach 😉 . But that's all water under the bridge. I hope you and I can still talk to each other – being able to talk to you means so much to me.



I like Kai. And what Robbie's done certainly isn't his fault. I respond.

'Hi Kai,

Of course we can still talk. You're welcome to call or pop round anytime.



After a couple of weeks, I thought that I'd got my head round Robbie dumping me, but as time goes on I seem to suffer an increasing sort of post traumatic stress reaction (and yes, I know that's a bit over the top, but it's how I feel). Frankly, I'm depressed; I know I should see what's happened as an opportunity for me to spread my wings as well, but I haven't got there yet.

When the time arrives to go back to Uni, I'm still mostly feeling let down and sorry for myself, neither of which are traits that are attractive - either to me or to others. I miss Robbie's company and his humour - and I miss the sex. A lot. It's been a long time since I've had to resort to solo masturbation to deal with my rampant teenage sexual urges – and once you've had the real thing, it's just not the same.

It's now two weeks into term, and there's a knock on my door. I'm not expecting anyone, so I get up and open it. To my immense surprise, Kai is standing there, looking good enough to eat and carrying a canvas hold-all in one hand. I haven't seen him since my break-up with Robbie and I feel an unexpected sense of pleasure at seeing him.

'Kai! How lovely to see you…but what are you doing here?'

'I've come to see you – is that OK?'

'Of course. It's a pleasure. But what's it all about?'

'Can I come in?'

'Oh, yes, of course, how rude of me. Come on in.'

He smiles and brushes past me. I find the contact unexpectedly sensual. I shut the door behind him.

'Tea, coffee, beer?' I ask.

'Coffee would be nice, thank you.'

'Have a seat. I'll be right with you. How do you like it?'

'Just a splash of milk please.'

As I busy myself with the kettle, I'm aware of his eyes on me.

'So, modelling still going well?'

'It's great, Jase. As much work as I want and the job's incredibly well-paid. Or at least I seem to be.'

'But that's because not every model has your perfect looks.'

'Thanks. You think I'm good-looking then?'

'Of course. What red-blooded gay guy wouldn't? You must be a million boys' wet dream.'

He laughs.

'That's kind of you to say, but there's a lot of good-looking boys on the modelling circuit.'

'Not many in your league, Kai.'

I take him over his coffee. His blue eyes are looking straight into mine.

'So what can I do for you?'

He smiles.

'I know this is a bit unorthodox, but I'm really pleased that you said you thought I was good-looking because…well…because I've never stopped wanting you, Jase and now that Robbie is out of the picture, I thought I better strike before you find someone else to replace him, because I know that won't take long - and I want that person to be me.'


'Yes. I want you to be my boyfriend. It's not just that I fancy you, though I still do - like fuck actually – it's also that you're clever and funny and sexy and kind and just plain nice. Nicer and sexier than any of the boys my age I've been out with. Robbie must have been out of his mind to have split up with you, but he has and I thought the best thing to do was to tell you how I feel and see what you say.'

'Fuck. But you're….'

'Don't tell me I'm only sixteen. You said something like that to me once before. It was bullshit then and it's bullshit now. I suppose the technical upside is that that makes me fully legal, but that has fuck all to do with anything. And I'm nearly seventeen anyway. All that matters is whether or not you like me enough to want to give a relationship between us a go. It's not as though you know nothing about me, and not as though you don't find me attractive, is it?'

'No, Kai. Both those things are true. I do know you and I do like you and well…I think you're not just attractive but damn sexy as well. But…'

'But nothing.'

He gets up from his chair and comes and kneels in front of me. He puts his face close to mine. I can see the violet flecks in his blue eyes. I can smell the cologne he's wearing.

'Please could we give it a go, Jase?'

I'm wondering if I'm dreaming. The last few minutes have a totally surreal quality to them. This boy wants me? This boy who's my ex's brother? Kai wants me? And he's come here to tell me so? God knows, it's not that I don't fancy him – who wouldn't? But a full-blown relationship? And I don't want to take advantage of him, whatever my groin is trying – urgently - to tell me.

'You know what happened to my relationship with your bro, Kai, with us being in two different places?'

'It can be different for us. It will be different. That wasn't about being in two different places. He discovered he was bi; I know that I'm gay.'

'Long-distance relationships are difficult, Kai.'

'Half the year you'll be living at home a stone's throw from me; the other half I can come and visit you like today. What matters is whether you want a relationship to work. Do you want us to work, Jase?'

I look into his eyes. He's beautiful, and he's sexy…and I want him. God do I want him.

'Kai, I don't want my physical desire for you to cloud my judgement…and I think it might be doing that right now.'

'Well that's easily solved. Let's go to bed and get all that out of the way and then see how you feel.'

'You want to go to bed with me?'

'Fuck yes. I've wanted to for the last three years. I want you every bit as much as I did when I was fourteen. Probably more, actually as I've got to know you better. And I want to even if going to bed with you is all this visit turns out to be – although I don't think that will happen. Look, I know it's cheeky, maybe even outrageous, but I've brought a bag because I hope you'll let me stay for the weekend so we can spend time together and you can decide if I'm what you want. And I really hope that you do. But if all it turns out to be is a couple of days – or even just a few hours - that would be fine too. And if it is only a few hours, then I can think of no way I'd rather spend them than in bed with you.'

My brain is still trying to catch up. My body is screaming at me to rip his clothes off. My brain attempts one last shot at control.

'And you don't have a boyfriend?'

'No. And you know that – or at least you did up to six weeks ago and I can assure you nothing's changed in the last six weeks. And anyway, there's no-one out there who could hold a candle to you as far as I'm concerned.'

He slides a hand up my thigh and presses it against the front of my chinos.

'Hmmm...and you certainly seem to desire me. Come on. Enough talking. Take me to bed.'

My brain subsides with a whimper.

And we go to bed.

And we have wonderful, fantastic sex.

In the two years that Robbie and I were together, we had a lot of sex. But this is sex of a different order. It is as if what Robbie and I did together was painted in soft pastels whereas with Kai it is all in primary colours. His body is lithe and supple, his cock seems endlessly hard, and his energy is boundless. He's a talented lover who takes me to places I've never been. And he can't seem to get enough of me either. We end up sweaty, sticky and exhausted. I have the salty-sweet taste of his seed in my mouth, the sticky wetness of his seed inside me, and the pearly-white evidence of his seed all over my body and face. Just as he has of me. We eventually separate, and lie back beside each other on the bed.

'Fuck, Kai, where the hell did you learn all that?'

He props himself up on one elbow and runs his hand over my chest. He has long, slim fingers.

'Jase, you know that I've only ever had sex of any sort with four boys, and I've only ever been all the way with two of them. But, well, see…I reckon sex isn't so much about what you know, or how experienced you are, but more – probably mostly - about how you feel. And you make me feel more alive, more passionate, more horny and more adventurous than anyone else I've ever been with. I know we're both exhausted right now, but I'd have you inside me again in a heartbeat if it were possible. You do things to me that I can't explain.'

His hand drifts down to my groin and gently caresses my balls.

'No chance, I suppose?'

'I would if I could, Kai, but I'm drained. My balls ache and I'm surprised my cock isn't rubbed raw.'

He flips my cock from one side to the other with his hand, as if examining it, then moves his head down to kiss it.

'Still looks in good working order to me. Maybe later.'

'Maybe,' I say.

He comes back up and lays his head on my shoulder.

'So…is it OK for me to stay the weekend?'

A weekend of him. A weekend of this. How can I refuse him? I can't. Even if I wanted to. Which I don't. I just meet his gaze, and nod.

'I'd really like that, Kai.'

'You mean that? Oh, YES! Oh, thank you so much Jase…and I just know things are going to be so great between us.'

A thought suddenly occurs to me.

'Do your folks know where you are, Kai?'

'Yes. I told them where I was going - and exactly why I was coming here.'

'What did they say?'

'Their first reaction was surprise – which I suppose was fair enough - and then they said they weren't sure that it was a good idea. And then they told me not to be surprised if you said 'no' - and told me not to feel hurt if that happened. They said something about the age thing - but I told them what I told you. But, see, they like you, Jase. And they know that once I'm determined to do something, there's no point in trying to talk me out of it. And actually I think they're pleased. They worry about me. That I'll meet the wrong boy. Again. But if I'm with you all that worry would go away. They actually ended up wishing me good luck.'

He pauses.

'Jase, what we've just spent the last couple of hours doing has been magical – truly magical actually, better than in my wildest dreams - but that's not why I came here. Or not the only reason. I've always believed that we'd be good together and now that we've got the physical desire thing out of the way – at least for the time being...'

He smiles at me and I can't help but smile back.

'…how do you really feel about us seeing if things might work between us? I know I said it would be fine if it just turned out to be sex, but I really, really want it to be more than that. I need to know if you'd at least like to see if maybe it could be.'

So how do I feel? There's no doubt I like Kai – and not just for his body. I know he's bright and charming and I admire both his honesty about how he feels and his determination to get what he wants – in life and in love. And I suppose I have got to know him quite well over the past two years. But not as well as I knew Robbie before we became a couple. And there's more to a relationship than sex and desire. But he knows that. He's brought a bag so that he can stay the weekend so that we can find out more about each other. If it was just about sex as far as I was concerned, then given what we've just done, I guess I'd know that that was all I wanted. But it doesn't feel that way. There is a distinct possibility that there's more to how I feel about Kai than sex. A weekend together to find out? That feels like the least I should give it. Or am I just trying to justify having a beautiful boy in my bed for a couple of days?


'Sorry, Kai. I do like you, I really do. But do we know enough about each other to commit to a relationship?'

'You may not. Yet. But that's why I'm here. That's what I've been saying! And I'm not asking you to commit to a relationship, I'm asking if you'd like to see if a relationship might be a possibility!'

He sighs.

'I've seen you with Robbie for years. We've chatted and spent time together, not just the three of us, but the two of us. You've advised and helped me. We've talked about some pretty intimate things as well. If you think about it, we do, actually, know quite a lot about each other. Maybe not enough for you to know definitively whether you and I are right for each other – even if I'm completely sure. All I'm asking is for you to give me – to give us – enough time for you to become sure one way or the other.'

He smiles.

'And you have to admit, Jase, that if not me, then you'll be starting completely from scratch with someone else soon enough - and you certainly know more about me than you know about them!'

I smile. His logic is irresistible. And he's right. I may not know everything about him, but everything I do know, I like.

'You win, Kai. Let's give it a go.'


He punches the air in delight. And then his lips are on mine and we're kissing like there's no tomorrow. But being tightly squidged against one another, one thing is all too clear.

'We've got the whole weekend in front of us, Kai, but right now I think we both need a shower.'

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