by Ivor Slipper

Chapter 4

Breakfast, or was it lunch – maybe brunch would be more accurate - whichever it was, Mrs C had laid on a real feast for a couple of growing boys. Mind you, we had a lot of energy to replenish after our activities the previous night. Once we'd reached the point where we couldn't manage another pancake we cleared the table and put our plates into the dishwasher and then went back upstairs.

We went into Troy's room, leaving the door open and both sat down on his bed. I thought we were probably going to spend the afternoon lazing around and either watch a dvd or play some games on his x-box, but Troy suggested we should do something active – 'work off those calories' he said and proposed going to the park. Sunday afternoons had in the past been a real bore for me until I'd started meeting Troy there a few weeks ago. They'd been spent in my room reading or listening to music, of the classical type not 'pop trash' as my Pa called it. I'd never really been one for sports, unlike Troy, but I thought that I could at least try to be more active and besides which we'd be together, which was a real plus. Depending on who else might be there we could possibly get a game of basketball or soccer going. I wasn't much good at either, but I could only improve with practice – surely?

"Guess I'd better go change. Don't want to mess up my new clothes in the park. Gotta look good going to school tomorrow with my boyfriend."

I couldn't believe I'd actually said that last sentence. I cast a worried glance at Troy, but he was grinning at me.

"Too right, Adam. You're gonna knock 'em dead when you walk in dressed like that. But, go and get into something more casual, before…."

He tailed off and pulled me into an embrace that merged into a kiss that went to the point at which we decided to call a halt before we got carried away.

I got off the bed and went into my room. That was when I discovered that getting out of a pair of skinny jeans wasn't a quick or simple operation. With the jeans I'd always worn it was simply a matter of undoing a belt, if I was wearing one, undoing the top button, pushing down the zip and they'd virtually fall to the ground. With these though nothing happened, gravity did not take over. I'd had a bit of a struggle to get into them the previous night, but hadn't considered possible problems when it came to getting them off. And, as it turned out, I hadn't had to get them off – Troy had done that for me and what fun that had been! Now though I discovered there was a different sort of fun to be had in getting them off myself as I pushed, pulled and wriggled about until finally I could sit on the bed and pull them over my feet.

Having done so I looked up and there was Troy grinning at me.

"Having fun?" he said. "It gets easier with practice."

"It's a lot easier and more fun if you do it for me." I retorted, sticking my tongue out at him.

"My services are reserved for weekends only. Can't spoil you." was his response accompanied by the sight of his tongue.

I stood up, took off my red polo shirt and my pale grey boxer briefs to stand naked. Troy looked at me and I started to go hard, but I knew this wasn't the time or the place for that sort of game, so turned and walked over to get a pair of sports shorts and an old polo shirt out of my drawers. I managed to taunt Troy with a bit of a wiggle as I took those few steps with my back to him. As I went to pull on the shorts I heard Troy say

"I guess you don't have a jock. Hang on, I've got a new one that should fit you alright and it'll be more comfortable than having your junk bouncing around."

He went to his room and returned quickly handing me my first ever jock strap. Once I'd got it on I could see why people wore them when doing sports and decided that I'd best get a couple for myself next weekend and start wearing one for PE.

Once dressed, we walked to the park which was between a quarter and half a mile away. Walking hand in hand with Troy in public was not totally new as we'd done so in the mall on Saturday, but doing it in the street felt different somehow. We also managed to fit in a few kisses as we walked and chatted about inconsequential things.

As anticipated there were a number of other kids there from school and a couple of hours soon passed with games of football and basketball. It seemed I was a little better at the former than the latter. We also spent some time just sitting on a bench holding hands and sometimes letting our hands run over each other's bare legs. Troy's were nicely tanned, mine very white in comparison even though I'd spent a fair bit of the summer in the sun.

When we decided we'd had enough Troy suggested going to the ice cream parlor nearby. What I hadn't anticipated was that after we'd sat down and the server came to take our order Troy requested two banana splits. I couldn't help but burst out laughing at that which got everyone else in the place looking at us. All I'll say is that when they came the banana splits were delicious.

Troy insisted on paying for them and when he'd done so we set off to walk home, again holding hands. We hadn't gone very far when a truck passed us going in the opposite direction. Someone leaned out of the window and yelled a few words at us which included the words 'faggots', 'queers' and a few others. I realized the person doing the shouting was Mike Daubney. I also noticed Troy flip the bird at him which I thought might be unwise.

Sure enough, a couple of minutes later the truck comes past us on our side of the street and pulls to a stop about twenty yards ahead. Out of it get Mike and what I recognised as five other members of the school football team. They were all part of the defensive line, like Mike, and thus big guys.

"How's your running?" asked Troy.

"Dunno. Hardly ever run – unless I have to."

"I think we're gonna have to now. When I say split we take off. I'm pretty sure I can outrun them as they're just lumps, but if you can't keep up Adam I won't leave you on your own."

"If you can get away, go for it. I'll have to take my chances."

Troy gripped my hand tighter and then drew me to him for a quick kiss.

"I love you, Adam."

Naturally the kiss was like a red rag to a bull, but if those were the last words I was ever going to hear, I'd die happy.

"Fuckin' perverts" yelled one of them.

"We're going to finish what your Pa started, Jackson" shouted another.

"Yeah, I'm going to enjoy me some pansy bashing" added Mike in a loud voice.

As they started to close the distance to about fifteen yards, Troy let go of my hand and said 'split'. We turned and started running. Initially I think they may have gained a bit on us, but after a hundred yards or so we had started to pull away a little as the sound of their feet on the pavement didn't sound quite so loud. I chanced a glance over my shoulder and saw our pursuers had dropped to four, but I could see the other two heading back towards the truck.

"Do you know any short cuts, Troy?" I gasped. "I think two of them have gone back for the truck,"

"Shit! I know a couple. How you doing?" he managed to reply.

"Hanging in…..for now."

Troy led me down an alleyway, then across a street, then down another alleyway on emerging from which I knew where I was – not much more than a couple of hundred yards from his home. That was when we both heard and saw the truck coming towards us, but whoever was driving evidently didn't know where Troy lived as instead of stopping there so we couldn't get to safety he continued to drive towards us. We stopped, hands on knees, trying to pull in some air.

"I guess there's just the two of them" Troy said "so when they stop and get out we separate, hopefully one of us should make it back and get my Pa."

Troy had anticipated correctly. They stopped about twenty yards from us; one got out from each side and they advanced towards us. They were pretty dumb as they came together rather than separately. We waited until they got nearer and then took off running again, but trying to dodge past them. It was no wonder our school football team conceded a lot of points as these defensive linemen weren't that good. We both managed to evade them, but Troy slipped on something and fell over when we were only about fifty yards from his house.

"Keep going!" he yelled. I half stopped, wanting to go back to him, but I knew that would be the wrong decision, so I ran on until I reached the Connelly's house and could ring the doorbell and hammer on the door at the same time. It seemed to take ages before it opened, but at least it was Mr C who stood there. He looked at me with a puzzled expression, but before he could say anything I gasped,

"Quick….Troy's being attacked" I managed, before turning back down the drive. Mr C followed me and as we reached the street we could see Troy being held by one of them while the other was punching him. Mind you, Troy was putting up a fight and the one doing the punching wasn't the only one landing blows. Mr C is a big man – about six foot six inches and getting on for two hundred and thirty pounds I reckon – and once he started shouting for them to stop and ran towards them, they let go of Troy and hightailed it for their truck.

Troy had slumped to the ground, so Mr C and I helped him up and back to the house. Once we got inside and into the kitchen it was possible to see what had happened to him. One eye was rapidly closing and he had a cut lip – that much was evident on first sight. When his mom persuaded him to take off his shirt we could see some bruises starting to form on his chest and abdomen.

His parents wanted to take him to the ER to be checked over, but Troy refused. His mom also wanted to call the police and report what had happened. We argued that one back and forth for a while until in the end it was agreed that we wouldn't. The deciding factor in that being that both Troy and I claimed we had no idea who had attacked us. We said the truck had just pulled to a stop and the guys jumped out presumably because we were walking along holding hands. I guess we both separately reached the same conclusion that reporting it might stir up more trouble at school with the jocks but whether that was the right decision only time would tell. I wasn't sure Troy's folks believed us, but as we stuck to the story they had no real choice.

Mrs C patched Troy up giving him a piece of steak to hold over his eye and an ice pack for his lip as well as putting anti bruising cream on his bruises. That done we went up to his room and when Troy took off his shorts I could see a couple of bruises on his thighs.

"How'd you get those?" I asked.

"Bastard tried to kick me in the nuts; fortunately I managed to get them out of the way. The banana split went over the street though."

"Yeah, I spewed mine up once we'd got back. Not the thing to eat before going running."

"I didn't know you could run."

"Neither did I!" I answered with a laugh. "I guess it was fear assisted."

"Nah, it was more than that. I was going nearly flat out at times but you were keeping up with me."

I thought about that for a few seconds and he was right, I had managed to keep up with him – more or less, although by the time I reached the house I was spent.

"I suppose all the bike riding I've done over the years has given me good leg muscles, but I was exhausted at the end."`

We chatted on for a while and then Troy put on a dvd which we sort of watched while just lying together on his bed. Neither of us was in the mood for anything other than holding each other close, to which we were sure his folks would have no objection.

When the film finished I kissed Troy goodnight and went into my own room to get ready for bed. The weekend was over and tomorrow it was back to school.

At some point in the night I woke. Blinking my eyes I became aware firstly that my bedside light was on as I could see and there was a weird, ugly face about a foot above mine. I fleetingly thought we were being burgled, but then realized it was Troy's face with a black eye, cut lip and a very worried expression. He was straddling me and holding down each of my hands with one of his while clad in just his boxer briefs.

"What's going on?" I mumbled. "What are you doing here?"

"I'd got up to go for a piss and I heard you shouting and sobbing, so I came in. It seemed you were fighting someone off. Were you thinking back to earlier?"

As he asked the question my nightmare immediately came back to me. It hadn't been one of the footballers that I was fighting off, but my Pa. This time though the nightmare had only got as far as him dragging me out of the truck and me trying to resist being taken into the woods. At least it hadn't got as far as the clearing. I couldn't help it, but I started both shivering and crying.

Troy was concerned and started to get off the bed saying he was going to fetch his mom, but I grabbed him and asked him to stay. I told him that I was just having a nightmare and told him what it was, but I stopped at the point he'd woken me tonight. I wasn't going to tell him the rest of it. He did ask what happened next, but I lied and told him I had no idea as that was when he woke me from it. I didn't feel good lying to him, but I felt this wasn't something I needed to dump on him.

When I'd finished telling him he said gently while stroking my face with one hand,

"Your Pa was something else Adam. I've told you before I hope he rots in hell for what he did to you. I'm not going to leave you alone tonight – move over so I can get in."

"Troy – you can't! We told you mom we'd only have a sleepover at the weekend."

"Hey, that was you having a sleepover with me. We didn't say anything about me having a sleepover with you."

He laughed and I laughed too – I couldn't help it.

"You got boxers on or sleeping raw?" he asked.

"Boxers." I replied.

"Good, then if mom finds us in the morning she won't jump to the wrong conclusion. Now move over."

So I moved over and Troy slid in behind me. It was only a single bed, but a large single so there was room for two, especially as he wrapped his arm over me and pulled me tightly into him. I could feel his breath tickling my neck and I tried to ignore the fact that I could feel his dick under my ass and that was all I did feel until the main light came on some hours later and I rolled over onto my back to see Mrs C standing in the doorway with her arms crossed over her chest and not looking very happy. Troy had also been woken up by the light and as soon as he saw his mom he explained why he was in bed with me and even threw off the covers to show we were both in our boxers. Once he'd explained that Mrs C's attitude changed as she knew about my previous nightmare and she again repeated her suggestion that I should go and see a psychiatrist. I said I'd think about it if the nightmares kept occurring.

After I'd gone in the bathroom and done all the necessary things, I had to decide what to wear. I settled on my black skinny jeans over a pair of red boxer briefs, the black converse and a timber green polo shirt that I thought perhaps went with my green eyes, over a white t-shirt. I thought about wearing my hoodie, but the weather that day looked pretty decent so decided not to. Having worn the grey skinnies on Saturday evening I knew I had to allow a bit of extra time to get into them!

When I came down to breakfast Troy was already sat at the table. His face looked a bit of a mess, but he told his mom it wasn't going to stop him going to school. He also told me that tonight he had swim training for an hour after school and that would also happen on Wednesday and Friday, but said his mom would pick me up at the usual time and then come back for him later. I told them that was silly and that I'd either go in the library and do some homework or just read or I might even go and watch the swimmers - which got me a sort of grin - or was it a leer? – from Troy. It was hard to tell which with his cut lip and black eye. I also asked him why he hadn't been to training last week and he told me it was because he didn't want to leave me on my own during my first week. I felt like kissing him when he said that, but decided to put it in the kiss bank for later.

As she dropped us off at school Mrs C told me that I looked very good in my new clothes. I definitely felt different wearing them, but it was odd somehow. In my old clothes I'd sort of stood out because I looked different to the majority of the other boys. Now I was wearing similar clothes to them, but I still felt different almost as if I wasn't entitled to be dressed that way. I hoped it was sort of first day nerves and the feeling would soon pass. Troy and I were in different homerooms, but that morning we shared two classes – American History and World Geography – so we were able to sit next to each other in both. Mr Edgar who took World Geography was pretty laid back so we were able to exchange a few words during his lesson, not so with Mr Wells who took American History and was currently very much into the Civil War. After his lesson though was lunch, which came as a blessed relief from the carnage of Gettysburg.

I decided to put some things in my locker, so by the time I'd got my meal in the cafeteria Troy was already sat down at our table. As I walked up, put my tray on the table and went to sit down in the empty chair next to Troy who had Jerry Martin sitting on his other side, Madison Greenberg said,

"Wow, who's this Troy? Got a new boyfriend over the weekend?" to which Hannah Parker added, "If he's not yours Troy, I'm gonna ask him to the Homecoming Dance on Saturday week – he looks great." Indeed nearly everyone commented on how good I looked which certainly boosted my confidence.

I hadn't thought about the Homecoming Dance; I'd never been to any of the homecoming events over the years so there was no reason why I'd have thought differently this year. But there now followed a discussion about who was going and with who during which Troy slipped his hand into mine and asked me if I'd go with him. This led to a general conversation about gay couples attending the dance in which the overall feeling was there wouldn't be a problem unless they tried to dance. In the end it was decided that we'd all go as a group and hopefully we could get a table together. I then started to panic about what the dress code was as I didn't have a tux, but was told that as long as I didn't arrive wearing jeans or shorts there wouldn't be a problem. Fortunately in the clothes ma had sent in the black sacks there was a jacket, black trousers and black dress shoes that I used to wear to go to church, so with a white shirt and a tie, I should be alright.

Troy had already explained to the group how we'd been chased the previous night and how he had got his black eye and cut lip. He also now made it clear it was because of me managing to get back to his house and alert his father that he'd been saved from a worse beating. Looking up I saw Mike Daubney and a couple of his jock pals about to walk past our table. As they drew level Mike called out,

"Hey, Troy, what happened to your pretty boy face? Are you and your pansy boyfriend into rough sex now? I hear he likes it rough."

Troy pushed his chair back and went to stand up. Jerry and I both grabbed hold of one of his arms telling him it wasn't worth getting into a fight as that would only lead to him being suspended.

"It'd be worth it as that fucker would get suspended too" muttered Troy, struggling to free his arms.

"It wouldn't" said Jerry. "He couldn't care less if he got suspended, but you've got a lot to lose. Let it go. He's gonna keep goading the pair of you hoping for a response. If you keep ignoring him he'll soon find another target. I never could work out what you saw in him."

"Nor can I now. Best thing I did falling out with him. And then Adam came along."

Mike and his pals were still stood there waiting for the expected reaction from Troy. Instead of that Troy produced an unexpected one, leaning over to give me a brief kiss while raising one finger in their direction. That produced a few more choice words from them and a little cheer from our table. Yeah, it felt good to have friends.

When school finished I did head off to the library for a while, but it was a night on which I didn't have much homework to do and most of that I'd completed in about half an hour, so I then went down to the pool and sat in the viewing area. The sight of so many lean bodies in speedos should perhaps have excited me – and indeed it probably would have a few months ago – but now I really only had eyes for one. I have to confess though that after a while my eye was caught by a boy I didn't remember seeing in the school before. Like the rest of the swimmers he was thin, but you could see his muscles. He was about the same height as Troy and he had olive colored skin and when he took his swim cap off it revealed close cropped black hair. He definitely stood out and pre Troy would have been the subject of some of my fantasy nightly jerk offs.

Once the session was over I gave Troy time to get dried off and dressed before heading down to meet him outside the locker room. When he saw me waiting he walked over with a big smile on his face, checked to see there was nobody around and then pulled me to him for a hug and a kiss. I needed that as it was the first one for at least three hours! After we disengaged our tongues and lips he pulled away, put on a serious face and wagging I finger at me, said.

"Don't you go getting any ideas, Adam. I saw you looking at someone other than me in the pool."

"Guilty as charged." I replied. "Who is he? I've not seen him before."

"His name's Carlos Rodriguez and he only started here this semester which I guess is why you've not seen him. I think he feels a bit lost and lonely as his family just moved here, so while we were getting changed afterwards I asked him to join us at lunch tomorrow. I know he has the same lunch period as I saw him sitting on his own today."

"Adding to your collection of strays?"

Troy laughed. "Nope – one's enough." I fist bumped him on the arm for that and we headed out, hand in hand, to find Mrs C.

The following morning I had a PE period. We were doing some drills and exercises when Coach Zielinski called me over. I was never that good at PE, but I was not that bad either; I usually managed to get through the period without drawing any attention to myself. When I got up to coach he barked at me,

"Outside on the track, Jackson. You're gonna give me some laps."

"Laps? Why Coach? I haven't done anything wrong and I'm dressed right."

"Don't care which side you dress, Adam," he said with a hint of a smile, "just get out there and do what I say – and put some effort into it."

I couldn't see there was anything to gain by arguing with him so I went outside and started running round the track – the usual 400 meters – cursing him to myself as I did. I'd gone round twice when he stopped me, let me have a breather for a minute or two and then told me to give him one more, flat out. Having already done two I sure didn't want to do another after this one, so I gave it all I had left in the tank. By the time I'd arrived back to where he was standing I was about all in. Coach let me breathe in some air and gave me a bottle to drink from. Once I'd recovered a bit he said,

"You ever done any running before, Adam."

"No, Coach."

"You've got some good muscles in your legs for someone who hasn't."

"I do a lot of bike riding." I replied.

He nodded. "That could explain it." He paused and then continued. "I think you could have potential for the track team. If you're interested come by my office after school tomorrow and I'll give you a proper try out."

Wow – me in the track team. Was I dreaming or having a nightmare I wondered.

When we got home after school and were sitting in the kitchen with Mrs C she asked her usual question as to whether anything interesting had happened today.

"Yeah." I said and then I noticed the little grin on Troy's face. "It was you who told Coach to send me out for laps! You………" I managed not to say the word I'd thought of.

"Adam, I just had to tell him. Think back to Saturday night. I'm on the track team and I was running fast, but you were keeping pace with me. I never expected that; I thought you'd be out of breath or cramped long before we got back here. You've got potential. This is a chance to explore it."

Mrs C agreed with him and I rather suspected Troy had discussed his little plan with her beforehand. I said that because I'd be waiting after school tomorrow for Troy to finish his swim session I might as well go and see what Coach's try out entailed.

So that was what I did. I had the good sense to change into my PE clothes before knocking on his door. He invited me in and we talked for a short while before he pointed at some sets of spikes lying on the floor, saying he was pretty sure one of them would fit me. I tried three pairs on before I found a pair that felt comfortable and then we went out on the track. He got me to do some stretching and other exercises to loosen up my muscles and also do a couple of short sprints. Those done he led me to the starting line, told me that he wanted one flat out lap from me and after that simply yelled 'Go!'

I went, and about half way round was surprised to find that I was sort of enjoying myself. I even managed to muster a small sprint as I came down the home straight, but once I'd passed the finishing line I more or less collapsed on the grass.

Coach came over and sat down beside me while I recovered. What I hadn't realized was he'd been timing me as he informed me that my time was within a couple of seconds of those being achieved by boys who were on the team. He added that he felt sure with proper training, diet and some dedication on my part, I could get on the track team. My life sure did seem to be changing. The idea of representing my school at anything had never occurred to me; I just wasn't good enough. Now though, if I worked hard enough it might happen and I decided that I was going to do my best to see it did.

When I met up with Troy as he came out of the pool the first thing he asked was how I'd got on. He was thrilled for me when he heard and that was when he told me that his events were either the 400 or the 800 meters, so if I managed to be good enough to get on the team there was a good chance we could be running together. I liked the idea of that, but then a thought occurred to me.

"If I do decide to join then I'm gonna have to buy spikes and all sort of other things." I blurted out.

"Spikes, yes, but the school will provide official vests, shorts and track suit. You'd definitely need a few jocks and a couple of pairs of lycra shorts would be a good idea. Yeah – I like the thought of you in lycra shorts" he finished, pulling me to him for a quick kiss. After we'd pulled apart he added, "I'm sure the folks would happily put up the money for any gear you need."

"But I can't keep taking from them."

"It won't be taking. They're being paid by CPS for taking you in and I know they've told you that money is yours not theirs. They didn't take you in for the money. They took you in because…… I love you."

Oh boy, that did it. I couldn't help bursting into tears and pulling Troy into a hug that neither of us seemed to want to break, but eventually we did and went to find where Mrs C had parked. She immediately wanted to know how I'd got on and seemed almost as pleased for me as I reckon she must have been for Troy when he got on the team. She also assured me that they'd support me all the way and that anything I needed would be provided. So with her and Troy both backing me and the confident knowledge that Mr C would too, I agreed that I'd tell Coach tomorrow I was going to join up.

Carlos Rodriguez had joined our table for lunch the day after Troy had invited him, although he'd actually gone and sat on his own so Troy had walked over and persuaded him to move across. He seemed nice enough, but very quiet. However, I thought back to how quiet I'd been when Troy had first invited me to join his table. I'd found sitting with a number of unknown kids could indeed be unnerving. Anyhow, Carlos came back on the other days of the week, and by the end was starting to tell us a little about himself.

The end of my second week living at the Connelly's soon approached. Troy and I had discussed our weekly sleepover and agreed that we would choose Saturday again as that meant we could go into town on Saturday morning to do some shopping before I did my shift at the store. I also had a little plan for Saturday night which involved me buying something while Troy wasn't around, which I was sure I could buy in the store.

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