I Want to Know What Love Is

by James Matthews

Chapter 10

Another Day of Surprise

I suddenly woke up feeling my back was about to break in two. God knows what time it was, but everyone was still asleep in the tent, with mostly peaceful breathing sounds and the odd movement of limbs. I shifted position but realised what I really needed was to get up and walk about.

I looked around inside the tent to see how feasible it was to get out. I'd have to climb over bodies but it was doable.

It had actually been a nice rest of the evening. Hunter and Steven didn't end up killing each other, preferring not to talk. Billy provided the most entertainment by telling us about his weird habits as we had all sat round the fire tucking into the various food supplies we had all chipped in to bring...or rather our parents had provided. Jessie had talked about his fear of clowns and we had Dave trying to put on some less than posh accents which was hilarious.

It was decided before most of us got too stoned that we needed to separate Steven and Hunter. No one actually said it, but each said their preference with what tent they wanted. With Hunter and me being the only couple, that part was as much sorted immediately. And so in my tent… which I was now trying to get out of without waking anyone up had consisted of Hunter, Billy Jessie and me, taking the four man, with the others piling into the other, once we'd decided to call it a night.

I gently started to unzip the entrance just enough to squeeze out into the cool air, feeling instant relief once I stood up. It was light, I think it had been for a while now looking at the sky. With the fire still smouldering away, and the first birds already starting to sing I guessed it must to have been around five AM. A dew had formed on the grasslands by the river, and it looked like it was going to be another hot day, as a low mist hung around the camp floor and beyond.

After stretching I sat down on the damp grass, prodding the still orange fire with a stick, brooding lightly in thought. Last night's antics were making me smile every now and again. Hunter and l's conversation equally brought a frown to my expression no doubt. As different thoughts came into my head I heard movement, and then slow footsteps.

"Couldn't sleep?"

I looked round, finding Aldo behind me in a pair of Tommy boxer trunks, no T-shirt and a pair of white Nike socks.

"Uh, erm… uh, aren't you cold?" I stuttered out, trying not to sound too gripped to his obvious nice body.

"Like what you see," he asked, grinning.

"Erm, I…"

"Hey I'm kidding around, you fool."

I felt my whole body relax. He came and sat next to me, just close enough so I could smell him. It was a musky, satisfying smell. Like warm human mixed with past sweat and body spray.

"You were funny last night," I said, trying to hide my nervousness.

"I try my best," he replied, swaying left, bumping into me. I smiled as I looked off into the distance.

Aldo and I didn't really have much interaction during the night. Although I'd laughed at his jokes and joined in the group conversation we'd had, there was a slight uneasiness I felt having him sit next to me, having to now make one on one conversation.

"So you box?" I asked stupidly, already knowing he did.

"Not so much now, more martial arts. I enjoy boxing, but i'm not really quick enough in the ring."

"I don't get martial arts, what is that cos I heard there are lots of them, like Judo, stuff like that?"

Aldo grinned, looking at me. "Sort of, there are quite a few disciplines and many different forms. But yeah Judo is kind of in there. I do light contact karate. It's great for fitness and its spiritually relaxing."

"So you don't beat the shit out of people?"

"No, that's often what some people think it's for. Nah, I like it because it brings me wellbeing and shit, plus it keeps me fit and I've made a lot of friends who I fight."

"You're friends with people you fight?"

Aldo chuckled softly. "Of course. Light contact, heavy contact, it doesn't matter. Whatever fight you do, and this includes boxing, you never have any malice in your heart."

I bent my bottom lip and nodded. "Sounds stress relieving," I said.

"Ahh yeah man it is, and the people are great. Real forward, adult thinkers. Not these brainless kids who carry knives and fight like their nan if they can't stab someone. By all means use what you know for self defence, but be disciplined"

"You know what Aldo, you're a pretty cool person."

"Thanks, man! So uh, how long you and Hunter been seeing each other?"

"Over a year now, I got put in his registration class when I came to the school."

"He's a cool guy, very confident and quite badass, I like that. He's got that under control, and that takes mental courage."

I didn't really understand what Aldo had just said, but he was right about Hunter being confident and a little bit badass."

"So, I have to ask, Aldo?"


"I've never seen you in our… well sort of group?"

Aldo smiled. "Me and Steven, well lets just say our friendship came about quite recently after he found out I sell a bit of weed."

"Yeah he mentioned that."

"Adults get weed all wrong, it actually has good health benefits and if smoked in moderation can be inspirational and mind expanding."

"Steven and mind expanding could be dangerous," I said giggling.

"He's a cheeky fucker, but I like him. So yeah, I'm here because he said we were gonna have a weed fest and asked if I wanted to tag along."

"Cool, so you live far?"

"I live with my girlfriend's parents, you know Claire Rodgers?"

I shook my head. "Not sure i've heard that name,"

"She's in the year below us, probably why,"

"My birthday was two weeks ago, so we're almost the same age. You from around here?"

"Croydon, you?"

"Same, although you could say I live in the shit part. Steven says you guys have a big house in the suburbs?"

"Yeah, my Dad has his own business, so he does ok. I'm not spoiled or anything!" I rushed out a little defensive I guess.

"Hey man, it don't matter where we people live, as long as we're good people right?"

"Yeah, true."

"Where I live stupid kids carry weapons and think they have rights to an area, it's so childish. I take no notice, but I have been threatened more than once out walking my dog."

"We don't have anything like that where I live, it must be hard, no?"

"Nah, I've taken a few guys with knives and disarmed them without either of us getting hurt. Even had one shake my hand. Where I live respect is earned, which is fine by me."

"So what are your plans when we go back to school in a few weeks?"

"Meh, I dunno. Six weeks off goes so fast, hard to believe we're already halfway through and I don't feel like me and my girl have done anything. She goes out with her friends and I go out with mine."

"How long have you both been together?"

"About eight months, her parents invited me to move in after four. They're really cool people, straight talking and liberal you know," he said winking at me.

"Ahh, i get you."

"So you and Hunter, i'm interested, if you don't mind me asking, how does it work?"


"Yeah as in, sex wise, you guys do… well you know?"

I was suddenly taken aback by his forwardness when Hunter appeared from the tent.

"He's asking if we fuck, Puppy." Hunter announced, sitting on the other side of me. He then laughed/

"Yeah I know Hunter, I was just thinking how to respond." I said, my face filling with heat.

"Sorry, I know it's personal, but me and my girlfriend tried it a few times and she fucking screamed, but I kinda like it, it's tighter right?"

"It takes a lot of patience, a lot of lube, and you have to be in the right zone. We don't fuck all the timer," Hunter said, treating the subject like it was an every day conversation.

"So who fucks who?"

"Aldo!" I suddenly had the confidence to blurt out. "Can we change the subject please?"

"I normally fuck him, and he fucking loves it," Hunter said, causing them both to laugh, while I just sat there dazed with this whole subject.

"I wonder if we should wake the others and get packed up?" I suggested, standing up. Hunter pulled his packet of cigarettes out of his jeans and lit one up. Nice abs, he said, blowing smoke and looking at Aldo.

"Thanks man, a lot of work. You train?"

"Me? Nah, I play football, and Puppy has got me swimming, but that's about it."

"I love the water," Aldo said, doing leg stretches by holding his toes with his hands. I couldn't help watching his body tense and flex. It's just looking right?

"Right, well I'm gonna put some clothes on, and get ready. Hey Jensen, Your Dad still coming to get us?"

"I called him last night, and he said to call when we're ready. It has to be early though cos he has a job to get to. By the way what is the time?"

Hunter pulled his phone out of his back pocket. "Hmm, just after six."

"Wow, why are we up so early?" Aldo asked, shaking his head.

"Well I felt like I was laying on rocks."

"And I heard you both laughing, but the others seem to sleep through anything," Hunter added.

Aldo started to wander back to his tent. "See you guys in a bit, I'll wake the others."

Hunter nodded, before looking at me. "You like him don't you," he asked smiling.

"He's a cool person," I replied, ignoring his meaning.

"Nice body, though yeah?"

"I suppose."

Hunter started to tickle me on the ribs and I lashed about giggling. "I saw you dribbling as he did his stretches, You pervert!"

"Stoppp, hahahaha, stop, please I cant breathe! Ok, ok I looked!"

Hunter let go of me and pulled me into a hug, kissing me on the head.

"Call your Dad, let's get out of here, I need cereal and a warm shower!"

Dad was already up when I called, which was a relief because I was worried he'd still be in bed and I didn't want to wake mum so early. After all of the guys sleepily packed up and folded away the two tents we had made our walk back to the gravel road where a few minutes later I had seen Dads Van coming towards us. Most of us feeling dirty and tired climbed in and we all slumped in our own small space as Dad drove us back.

Steven hadn't said a word to me or Hunter since he appeared out of his tent. Apart from the odd glare they both gave each other, which I caught, but nothing was said. It would need to be sorted out soon if we were all going to be in close proximity. I planned to talk to Steven, I just didn't know when or how to start.

"My God look at you three, you look like you've not washed in weeks," Mum said as we walked into the kitchen. Dad went straight out to work.

Steven walked straight to the fridge and pulled out the carton of Orange juice and glunked about half the bottle. Hunter leaned against the wall while I gave Mum a hug, prompting her to pull on my T-shirt.

"I know, I know, it's dirty, I'll bring it all down," I said, grinning.

"So did you have a good birthday?" she asked. I quickly looked between Hunter and Steven, who were now just standing around.

"It was great, and thanks so much for the gifts, all of you. You really made it special, and I haven't been treated like that since… well ever. It was brilliant. And we had a good time camping, didn't we Steven?"

"Yeah!" he grunted.

"Well, Puppy, I forgot to say there was one more gift you got, that arrived. So your Dad and I left it upstairs on your bed."

"Huh? who's it from?" I asked, thinking about who else would buy me a gift.

"Why don't you go upstairs and get it?" Hum asked, smiling.

I narrowed my eyes." Something smells fishy here.

I left the kitchen and went upstairs, doing two steps at a time. My bedroom door was closed. Odd because I always leave it open. I was almost scared to go in. What the hell gift had I got?

I opened the door.

"SUPRISE!" cried Cindiy laying on my bed, leaning on her elbow, head on hand.

"What the… OH MY GOD!!! You're here, on my bed?"

"Just like old times Puppy, eh?"

"What… I mean how? You're here, and you sent the picture?"

CIndy burst into her famous giggle and I flew on to my bed and hugged her tightly.

"My, look at you, even a little bum fluff on your cheeks and chin, and you've grown." she said hugging me back looking into my eyes, "And you smell, Puppy!"

I climbed off the bed. "Uh yeah, sorry, we've all been camping for my birthday. So, how are you, How's Watson, How's life?"

"Puppy we do talk on the phone!"

"Yeah I know but seeing you for real, it's just. My God, so many memories."

"Anyway, I'm good, yeah, I have a good circle of friends, My Dad is fine, he says hello and I am to give him an update on how you are when I get home. He still thinks a lot of you, I'm doing Ok in school and the people have been nice to me."

"I guess, I already know most of that, but hearing you say it in person is unreal. I'm glad Watson is cool. And you can tell him I'm fine. So how did you get here?"

"Ask your Dad," she said, looking just over my shoulder. I turned around quickly.

"I've done a lot of driving today Boy!

"Dad, you brought Cindy here?"

"Yep, before I came and got all you Urchins."

"I thought you'd gone to work!"

"And miss this reunion, Never!"

"Where's Hunter?" I asked, anyone really.

"He's giving you time to see CIndy."

"You mean he knew?"

Dad Laughed."Yeah, I texted him."

I shook my head and covered my face. "Jesus, you guys are gonna give me a heart attack, so many surprises in two days!"

Mum came up with Hunter and stood just inside my room grinning. "Happy extended birthday, Button!"

"Grrrr Mum, all these surprises."

"Anyway, Your boyfriend here needs a shower, and we'll leave you two to chat, right Max?"

"Yeah, I gotta get to work for real this time. I'll see you guys later."

They all walked out and Mum closed the door.

"You look well," Cindy said. I got back on the bed and sat cross legged.

"Your hair looks neat, got rid of that Greenstone bob?"

"Yeah well, Dad gives me freedom now and ain't so protective, I'm now even allowed to start video calling so we can see each other more!"

"Listen, I really wanna say sorry," I said solemnly.

Cindy creased her face. "What for?"

"Well I know I've been kinda distracted and haven't been calling as much as I should have been. I've had problems with Hunter in the past, but he's better now, and… well you know how it goes."

Cindy stroked my hair. "Puppy, it's called life. We both have different lives now. It took a while but I let go of Greenstone and I was happy knowing you were. I mean sure, when you first left the home I was devastated and it was so depressing being there without you, But then when Dad put papers in to adopt me, I felt like our story had a nice ending."

"Yeah totally! But i'm sorry anyway. So, I was thinking!"


"Did you see my car?"

"No, but there's a few cars out there, I gather you got one for your Seventeenth?"

"Sure did, and I'm gonna have lessons and then I can come see you more."

Cindy looked deep in thought. "Maybe we don't have to wait that long. There is a tube train I can get, if I can talk my dad into letting me travel alone."

"Or I could meet you halfway?"

"Sure, it's just money. The tube is so expensive."

"You have a part time job or anything?"

Cindy shook her head. "No, just a small allowance from my Mum and Dad."

"We'll make something work, we need to."

I laid on the bed with Cindy, as we quietly chatted. Some topics about the here and now, but most about the past. Fond memories would flood into my mind as we talked. We laughed about the time she stuffed as many fries into her mouth as she could so we could go call my Dad. We talked about Charlotte Grange and wondered why we never figured out why she was so unhappy and moody. It was nice to be just, her, me and my bed. So many nights spent doing exactly this. Except this time something was different. I could see the world in clarity, not the murky drug induced fog of the past.

"Knock, knock," Hunter called, walking into my room, a towel wrapped around his waist. Sorry Cindy, my clothes… well I need them from in here."

"Oh, I don't mind the view," she said, confidently.

Hunter, seemingly immune to blushing just smiled and wandered over to his duffle bag, pulling out some fresh clothes to wear, and wandered back out, flicking his ass as he left."

"He is hot, Puppy, you got a keeper there!"

I sighed. "Yeah, but it hasn't been a smooth ride."

"Yeah I know, but you both seem in a good place now right?"

"I guess. Well no. I'm lying to myself, and you. There's been some complications with Steven and him and…"

"You still got Steven crush issues?"

I smiled. "No, I mean I love Hunter, he's lovely, but bad, so kind but with an attitude. He's like a wild animal that I'm trying to tame, and that's what I love about him. But Steven, he's just the same sometimes and in my mind it gets really complicated. Steven has been going through some identity issues and I really owe him my time."


"Because I think I caused it."

Cindy gave me a sideways look. "Not really an answer Puppy, but maybe there ain't one."

"When Hunter did his… well you know, there were months where I was dealing with trying to build up his mental positivity and look after him after school at his brother's. Steven and me got really close. I needed him, and he was there and there were times where I wanted him to be more than he was."

"And was he?"

"Like I say, it's complicated. Since I came here… the family setup, Mum and Dad have always treated us as Brothers. Max is my Dad and Susan is Steven's Mum. Although we're not related it's always felt like a kind of off limits thing. Plus he's straight. So in my mind I think it's like that forbidden fruit aspect, and yeah I played him a bit for a while. Sort of flirted, and even used to invite him to sleep in my bed."

"All this while you were with Hunter?" Cindy asked, looking confused.

"Yeah, all this while I was with Hunter. And I never stopped loving him, I just think I got really lonely and I crave love Cindy. Surely you can relate to that coming from Greenstone where there was none really?"

"No, I get it… I mean I get the craving love thing, but you never told me about this, I'm just surprised all this went on."

"Yeah sorry, I was dealing with a lot and if i'm honest, I was kind of embarrassed."

"Get out of here, the things we've been through and talk about?"

"Yeah, no of course, but my sexuality has always been… well I've sort of been falling into what I am, now I know, and it's not always been comfortable."

"I think I understand. So back to Steven, I'm sensing there's still issues?"

I rolled my eyes. "It sort of blew up last night on my birthday camping evening."

"Wow, share the gossip."

"Well Hunter fingered it out after Steven confronted me on what was going on between us. He had this idea that there was more to it than there actually was. I denied it, and I really believed I'd done nothing wrong, and…"


"Well Hunter saw us fighting and Steven had punched me on the jaw, and he asked what was going on and he just got a feeling I guess."

"Wow, so How did Hunter react?"

"He stormed off, but came back and we talked. I tried to explain the whole thing and while talking the penny just dropped that I had caused what was going on."


"But what?"

"Well I just felt like there was a but."

"Not really, I guess it proved we were solid, but it's left Steven and Hunter plotting to kill each other, and Steven ain't talking to me, or Hunter. So it's half sorted, as in me and Hunter are fine, but I don't like the fact Steven and me ain't talking. I mean we have to live together and then there is school, the gang, and I really wanna get this sorted."

"So what are you gonna do?"

"Hide under my bed?" I replied, breathing out a deep breath. "Nah, I gotta get him alone and get this sorted. And I'm scared."

"Scared of what?"

"If I have to end up choosing."

Cindy bit her bottom lip. "And?"

I sighed heavily. "I've asked myself this a thousand times, and up until last night it was always Hunter, but now, I think it would be Steven."

"Puppy, you've talked a lot about Hunter and used the word love in many sentences. This doesn't make sense."

"I guess what I'm saying is, I'm a bit tired and feel responsible. It's been a tough year, and I look back at when it used to be just me and Steven and the gang, life just seemed easier. But don't get me wrong, I do love Hunter. But after last night I dunno in what way."

"My god, it's not pity is it? Cos if it was I'd say you gotta come clean or you'll ruin both your lives hanging on."

"No, it's not, I love him much more than that, and I love his personality, but something switched and it's been bothering me all night. Anyway, before I delve into that part of my feelings I need to talk to Steven, I can't leave it like this."

"And will Hunter mind?"

"I don't give a shit, I'm my own person, and he can't tell me who I can speak to!"

"Whoa, a bit defensive there Puppy?"

"Sorry, I'm just fucked off this is an issue anymore. I'm gonna take a shower."

"Probably for the best!"

"Hey you hungry? My Mum loves to feed people,"

"She already did, I'm fine, I'll lay on your bed and wait for you, like I used to do when you went with Dr. Listern."

"Jesus, the therapy sessions!" I laughed.

After a warm shower I emerged back into my room seeing that Cindy was reading my school Yearbook. She grinned as I walked over to her. "Nice mug shot."

I peered over and looked at the page she was focused on. "Hmm, probably my bad side," I replied, laughing.

"So, what shall we do today?"

"What, you're here all day?"

"Yep, well i was supposed to be going to the park with Scarlett and her Boyfriend but I cancelled to be with you. Besides, there's nothing to do at home. Dad's at Greenstone and Mum is doing this crafting course at some college so... " she shrugged.

"Cool well what did you want to do?"

"Well we could go to the pictures, or we could hang out here, or we could go for a walk somewhere."


"You have one?"

"Sure, it's about a fifteen minute walk."

"But you don't board?"

I looked at CIndy, tilting my head. "No, but there are loads of fit skaterboys there to daydream over!"

"Puppy Stibbs, you're in a relationship!"

"Yeah, but it's like window shopping Steven says. You can look but don't buy."

"Well I'm game!"

"Game for what? Hunter asked, strolling into my bedroom, knocking back a can of Coke.

"Cindy and me were thinking of heading to the Skatepark to watch the technical and intricate art of boarding."

"You mean you just wanna perv on the lads down there," Hunter replied. "Cool, I'm going to help Taylor with his car, it needs new brakes."

"You didn't say?" I said, looking at him surprised.

"You didn't say you and your missus here were going Manhunting,"

"You were invited,"

"Pfft, I know most of them anyway."

"You board?" CIndy asked Hunter.

"Used to, before I got married to this one and my life ended."

"C'mon Cindy, let's get out of here!" I said, my tone not impressed. Hunter just smirked.

"His scar has healed really well," Cindy spoke, as we lounged on one of the benches, inside the park.

"There's no pun here but it's a sore subject. He don't like talking about it. But yeah, it looks Ok. He's had about twelve sessions of laser work done on it to blend it in with his skin tone and they did this tattoo thing over the top after numbing it. You can still see it in the right light but, I don't even give it a second thought now. Although I have a terrible habit of catching it in my sleep and he wakes up in pain, hissing at me. It's kinda cute!"


"Oh, he's just cute, full stop! Anyway, him over there red top?"

"Hmm, too skinny, nice legs though."

"Blue basketball vest, over near the big slope."

"Now he's hot, nice arms."

"You see him by the tree… see that one taking a swig of water?"

"Oh yeah, I see him," Cindy replied, putting her hand up to her eyes to shield from the sun.

"Now THAT is sex on legs!" I said excitedly, banging my feet on the ground.

Cindy cackled loudly."Wow, I just can't believe how you've changed."


"You're just so… I dunno, confident now. So free. The way you talk, the way you walk, your mannerisms... Everything."

"Really? I hadn't noticed.

"I think we both grew up a bit, Good in a way, sad in others."

"Steven's been a big influence on me, and he's tried to give me street cred lessons as he calls them. But at first it was just acting. Maybe school has done it. I don't feel I've changed."

Cindy and I fell into a long silence, enjoying the hot sun and watching the boys do their thing on the slopes, watching some bumps and crashes in the process making us giggle a bit. The park was always a great place to come. I didn't get here much but Hunter did bring me a few times to do a bit of boarding himself. There was graffiti on every surface and posters advertising raves and DJ's plastered to everything upright possible. The authorities didn't do anything though. I think this area was claimed already and painting over the graffiti would just invite new stuff to be spayed on, so it was left. The park… the way it was, kind of represented the people who came here. There was never any trouble, or fighting. None of the stuff Aldo was describing. Sure, people smoked a bit of Pot and some of the girls wore questionable clothes but overall you were safe here because the passion was boarding and nothing else.

The sun was now getting really intense, so Cindy and I decided to take a walk along a nearby canal. We carried on chatting as we did, laughing and joking like we'd never been apart it felt.

"So, what's he like in bed?" Cindy asked slyly.

"Cindy, Jesus!"

"What, c'mon we tell each other everything. Is he a sack of spuds or an animal?"

I burst out laughing. "Erm… well, he's… Oh God I can't Cindy!"

"You've started now, C'mon!"

"Ok, well he has this thing where he likes to do it in places you least expect. I think he likes the danger...oh and yeah, sometimes he's like an animal."


My expression became serious. "But sometimes, he's warm, passionate and gentle. He kisses really nice, and those are the times I really know he loves me."

"Sounds awesome, married next year then?"

"Oh, be quiet. Hey you want an ice cream, look, there's a van!"

"Mr Whippy… Hell yeah!"

"Lets go!"

"There's a good spot," I called as I walked up ahead to a bench on the edge of the canal.

I sat down and she fell into the seat next to me as we licked our rapidly melting icecreams in the hot sun.

"Hmm, I haven't had one of these for ages," Cindy announced.

"So tell me about your love life."

"Nah, nothing really. There was that boy I told you about on the phone but we never went out, it was so boring. He was just so weird. I liked him and all, but he was Xbox mad and I found out in the end that he really wanted a gamer girlfriend."

"So what happened?" I asked, looking at her.

She shrugged. "I dumped him by text."

"Oh my god you didn't?" I said laughing loudly. "Did he reply?"

"Just said, have a nice life Bitch. To be honest I was flattered to get a response."

"Anyone else?"

"No, but I'm usually hanging out with the girls as a group or me and Scarlett spend ages buried in magazines and discussing how we'd like to buy this and have that."

"Do you have any contact with the home?"

"Greenstone? Hmm, not really. I mean I hear stuff. And Dad obviously talks to Mum about his day and I hear about new kids that arrive. They got an older one actually. A boy fifteen, Australian, His mum died when he was seven apparently and then his dad had a heart attack on the flight here. No one can trace his family, and they don't know if he has one. But I think there's more to it."

"Jesus, poor guy. I can almost see myself back there hearing you explain that. Fifteen, stuck at Greenstone. Wow, that's close to home."

"Cal, his name is. My Dad says he's a bright guy. God I really shouldn't be saying anything. Dad always says that anything i hear mustn't be discussed under any circumstances."

"Well I ain't gonna say anything, but Watson shouldn't be telling anyone outside the home in that case and so that includes your Mum."

"Yeah I know, but you know how people talk."

We finished the last of our ice creams chewing the soggy cone that was left and decided to head back to my place. It had been another day full of surprises and I still had to rub my eyes that I was back hanging out with my best friend.

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