Beyond Salvation

by Mark Peters

Chapter 20

Knowing that we were starting to run out of time this afternoon, we decided to forgo any extra kind of workout in the garage before Dallas' mother was due to return, so we made sure that we showered and cleaned ourselves up with time to spare. We figured one hot and sweaty session in the bedroom was sufficient exercise for today.

Dallas even sprayed some air freshener around in his room, worried that his mother might pick up on the smell of teen sex if she happened to stick her head through the door upon her return. I laughed at him for doing that, but it was probably a smart move. There was no point in giving our folks any reason to not trust us, even if they suspected we were having sex.

Getting caught with our pants down just wasn't worth the risk, so we were being careful to follow the rules set out for us, to ensure that our future was just that - ours.

At a little after five-thirty we were sitting in the kitchen having a drink when we heard a vehicle pull up, and moments later Mrs Pearce came through the back door.

'Hey, mum,' Dallas said, as she placed her bags on the kitchen counter. 'You have a good day?'

'As good as can be expected,' she replied, before kissing Dallas on the cheek, then coming around and doing the same for me, which was something of a surprise. 'And how are my two favourite men today? How was your day?' she asked.

'Oh, you know, nothing spectacular,' Dallas replied, which almost caused me to spit a mouthful of juice all over the counter. 'We kept getting reminded that we have exams starting tomorrow, so I guess that tonight we'll have to do some cramming.'

Then, to lighten the mood a little I said, 'But we've been invited to an end of year party Saturday night, by one of the girls in our year.'

She looked from one of us to the other and back again and asked, 'So, are you going?'

'Yes,' Dallas replied.

'Together? As a couple? So, everybody else in your year will now know about the two of you?'

'Yeah. They mostly do now anyhow… some secrets are a bit hard to keep at school. So yes, we're going together,' Dallas said, as he reached across the counter and took hold of my hand. 'And there's another couple as well; Alex, who is the captain of the senior soccer team, and his boyfriend, Zack, who is a year or two below us. They told us today they are going to come out.'

His mother looked down at our intertwined hands and then smiled.

'And our friends have all said they are going to support us… even some of Dallas' football mates. It's almost like we've now got this new support group kind-of-thing happening, and that's partly why Alex and Zack are taking this step,' I added.

'So, you'll have strength in numbers then?'

'Yeah, it seems that way,' Dallas replied.

'Well, it certainly looks like times are a changing,' she said with a smile.

'We're certainly hoping so,' said Dallas.

Finishing off the last of my juice I got up and placed the glass in the sink and then turned to face them.

'Well, I guess I had better get going. Need to do at least some studying tonight,' I said.

'Yeah. Me too,' Dallas replied.

He got up and hobbled over to me, then stood directly in front of me and placed his hands on my hips.

'What the hell are you doing?' I whispered, as I placed both of my hands on his chest, fully conscious of the fact his mother was still in the room and watching us.

'Just saying goodbye properly,' he answered.

I looked over his shoulder towards his mother.

'Oh, don't mind me, boys,' she said. 'I'll see you later, JJ. Good luck with your exams.'

'Thanks, Mrs P,' I replied, then watched as she left the kitchen. Once I was sure she was gone I said to him, 'One of these days we are going to get us sooooo busted! You know that, don't you?'

'What can I say, I just love living dangerously.'

'And that's what is going to get you, or us, in trouble!'

'Maybe… but damn it'll be fun!' he said, before pulling me close and kissing me passionately.

I'm not sure how long we kissed for, but it seemed like a really long time, yet it passed us by in no time at all. I was dizzy from the lack of oxygen. I probably wasn't even thinking straight. Dallas was grinning like a Cheshire cat. Fuck, what an afternoon this had proved to be.

When we eventually separated, I said, 'I really have to go.'

'Yeah, I know.'

'I miss you already.'

'Of course you do,' he replied, while giving me his trademark smirk, along with a smack across the arse as I turned to leave.

He walked me to the back door, but I told him he didn't need to come out to the car, being conscious that he was still hobbling every now and then on his foot, which was still in the plaster cast, and likely to remain that way for several more weeks.

After one last kiss at the back door I walked out to the car, climbed in and started it up, then backed out of the driveway, with thoughts of our afternoon, thoughts of my cock slamming into him, the expression on his face as I unloaded, all still bouncing around inside my head.

When I arrived home it was still daylight, and I found my father in the back yard mowing the lawn, while mum was inside starting to prepare dinner. I greeted them both and they asked how my day was, so I told them it was great, then I said I needed to do some study for our exams.

Mum said that dinner wouldn't be for another hour, so I retreated to my bedroom and fired up my PC. While I was waiting for it to start, I went back to the kitchen and boiled the kettle for a coffee, which I hoped would help give my brain a bit of a kick-start, then a short while later I was back at my desk and downloading some trial exam papers, which our teachers had suggested we review.

I was called for dinner some time later and when I entered the kitchen my mother was just serving up our steak and salad, then we all sat down as a family, just as we did every night.

'So, anything exciting happen today?' my mother asked.

My forked stopped in mid-air as I contemplated how to answer that.

'I think she meant at school,' my father said with a grin.

'Have I told you about the other gay couple at school?' I asked, trying to deflect the conversation as quickly as I could. Just the thought of my parents contemplating my sex life was enough to send shivers down my spine.

'No, I don't think so,' my father replied with a slight smile. He knew what my game was, so I suspected I would be having another conversation with him later… not that I would be looking forward to that.

'They're going to come out. Apparently we've started something.'

'That's the two boys you were telling me about?' mum said.

'Yeah. Alex and Zack. Things are progressing. The last couple of days things have really changed. People at school know about Dallas and me and the response has been incredibly good, so that has given Alex and Zack some courage, and their other friends are also being supportive of them. Some of Dallas' football mates have told us they are right behind us as well, so if Baker tries anything now he'll be in trouble… and besides, we now have something on him that we can use if he starts anything.'

'I don't think I like the sound of that,' dad replied.

'He's a bully and has tried it on with younger kids. Zack was one of his victims. He told me all about it.'

My father put his cutlery down and looked across the table at me, a serious expression on his face.

'So, let me get this straight… the friends of the gay kids are all gathering behind them and are okay with you all coming out? And if the bully tries anything else he will be the one to be shamed because of his past and present deeds.'

'Basically, yeah.'

'Son, I don't know whether I should be worried or impressed. It sounds to me like you kids are working things out for yourselves, but without all the usual crap that happens in high school. Things sure have changed since my day!'

'Problems can always be sorted if you put your mind to them,' I replied. 'And it doesn't always need violence.'

'No, JJ. You're absolutely correct. So, is there anything else that's happening we need to know about?'

'Only that our class has an end of year party happening on Saturday night that we all want to go to…'

'I see,' said my father.

'This is going to be the first chance we'll all have where we'll be able to just be ourselves outside of school. So now we're all looking forward to it.'

'And what about this Baker character?'

'If he starts anything, we've got it covered,' I replied as confidently as I could.

Dad gave a nod and then picked up his cutlery.

After finishing dinner I helped clear the table and pack the dishwasher, then told them I needed to do some more studying, so I retreated to my bedroom once more. I was going over a Maths paper and was feeling comfortable with what I had reviewed so far, so when there was a knock at my door an hour or so later, I was ready for a break.

My father came in and sat on the edge of my bed, so I spun around on my chair to face him.

'It sounds like things are moving pretty fast in your world these days,' he said.

'Faster than I ever thought they would,' I replied.

'And what about Dallas? How are things going with the two of you?'

'Couldn't be better,' I said. 'He's actually the one taking the lead at school. I'm really surprised by that, but I'm also really pleased that he is.'

'I guess I'm just worried that there's too much happening and too soon, if you know what I mean. You'll let us know if there's anything that gets out of hand, won't you?'

'Of course.'

'And your afternoon workouts with Dallas?'

'Well, they're only new, but they're fun, and not too stressful,' I answered.

'Well, so long as you are being careful, son.'

'Always,' I replied, as my father got to his feet. He ruffled my hair and gave me a wink, then left me to it. He knew.

Once he was gone, I logged onto the internet to check the messenger app, and found Dallas, Merry and Pete were all online, so I opened a chat window with each of them and sent some messages. Dallas said he'd had enough of study and couldn't get this afternoon out of his head. Merry was gushing over Alex and Zack. Pete was worried about Timmy Baker.

The three of us chatted for a little while, then I received another message. This one from Alex.

< Hey. Thanks for talking to Cal today. >

Me: < No probs. He's a cool guy and cares a lot about the two of you. >

Alex: < Yeah. He's special. He said you're cool and that you both think alike. >

Me: < Yeah. I guess we do. >

Alex: < Baker won't stand a chance. Thanks for what you and D are doing and for having our backs. >

Me: < Anytime, man. It's a worthy cause. >

Alex: < Ha. Yeah, it is, isn't it? See you tomorrow. >

Me: < For sure. >

I said goodnight to Pete and Merry, then messaged Dallas again. We chatted back and forth for a few minutes, then said goodnight. It wouldn't be long before I would be picking him up again anyhow.

I slept well that night, content in the knowledge that despite the obvious difficulties we might face with Timmy Baker, there was strength in numbers and we were all there to support each other. Like Alex had said, Baker wouldn't stand a chance if he tried anything, and I found that to be quite reassuring. It didn't mean that Baker wouldn't in fact try something, and I was especially worried about Zack being a target once Baker found out that he and Alex were an item, so we would still need to be vigilant.

The following morning, Wednesday, I collected Dallas and we made our way towards school, using the route we seemed to be taking every day these days, then once charged up with coffee and fatty foods we arrived with time to spare for home room. Once that was over with it was time for our first exam, which was then followed by the next. After that we gathered for recess, which was then followed by our next class, and then lunch.

The morning flew by and I was feeling good about what I had so far completed. Dallas was a little apprehensive about how he went with his exams, but as these exams were more for practice at using the formats we would be using for our Higher School Certificate exams the following year, rather than for official results, they weren't critical in the grand scheme of things.

At lunch time our usual posse gathered out the front of the school, though this time we had a few additions; with a couple of Dallas' football mates, Kai White and Henry Bennett joining us, along with Callum and David Black from the soccer crowd. It seemed our circle of friends was expanding, only this time it was crossing the usual social boundaries that existed in our worlds. Nerds were mixing with jocks. Soccer players and rugby players were sitting side by side. Gays and straights. It would be interesting to see how this played out with the rest of our grade and whether we could bring some further unity to our class.

Before we knew it the day was done, and Dallas and I were back at his place, stripping down and enjoying a kiss and a cuddle, and bit more as well, before changing into workout gear, ready to hit the gym equipment in his garage.

'So, how was your hind end after yesterday's workout,' I asked him, as we headed outside.

'Oh, it was fine,' he replied. 'It wasn't quite as painful as I thought it might have been. I'd been practising beforehand anyway.'


'Yeah, like a hairbrush handle, or a carrot…' he said, while his face flushed red.

'Seems reasonable,' I replied, giving him a wink as I did so.

'You don't think that's weird?'

'No, babe. Makes perfect sense to me. I used to do the same thing… cucumbers work well too, you know.'

'What the fuck?'

'Well, you started it!' I said with a laugh. 'Now let's get to work on my muscles.'

Immediately he reached out a hand and cupped it over my junk, giving it a little jiggle as he did so.

'Not that muscle,' I scolded him.

'Maybe later then?'

'We'll see. '

We spent about an hour in his garage, starting with some small weights, some walking on the elliptical trainer – man that thing did a number on my legs – then a short session on his gym set, working on legs and lifting. I was new to all this, so it was slow going for me, but seeing as Dallas was recovering from injuries it was even harder for him. I could also see it was frustrating for him, as it wasn't so long ago that he would have been able to go for hours on these machines.

It was especially interesting when he tried the elliptical machine, as the cast on his leg proved quite difficult to deal with. There was a rubber heel molded into the cast to enable him to walk without putting pressure on the bones in his feet, but as he was standing unevenly this made it difficult to get a correct rhythm going on the machine. Added to that, the effects of the machine itself, which had turned my legs to jelly after just a few minutes, made working out on it somewhat problematic for him.

Dallas gave up on that one quite quickly, moving onto the gym set where he lay back on the padded platform and used his legs to lift some weights, before then changing the set up to be able to work out differently.

All in all he was happy with how his injuries were healing, especially his ribs, which were hardly giving him any trouble at all now, so he was confident that by Christmas, in just a few weeks time, he would be out of the cast and able to get back into full training.

When our session was over, we went back inside and decided on a quick shower, before Dallas' mother arrived home, which of course led to some mutual fun and two loads of cum being swallowed. It constantly amazed me how quickly we had settled into this new and comfortable routine of exercise, sex and just being ourselves.

Any thoughts of carrying on further though were dashed with the arrival of Dallas' mother shortly after we exited the shower and had dried off, so we hurriedly dressed and met her in the kitchen a few moments after she had come inside.

Taking one look at our damp hair she knew exactly what we had been up to. She offered a smile but didn't say anything to us. It was Dallas who volunteered that we had showered after working out in the garage, which earned us a knowing smile.

'It's perfectly okay,' his mother said. 'If you are going to be sexually active… and I am sure that you already are… then I would rather it take place under this roof than in some other seedy location. And I'm certain your parents would say the same thing, JJ.'

'Yeah. They already have,' I said, somewhat embarrassed.

'I've said it before and I'll say it again, boys,' she said, while crossing the kitchen to where we stood at the door. 'You both have nothing to worry about from me, okay? I'm happy that you have found each other again. And I have no issues with you exploring the boundaries of your relationship. You have both grown so much this past month. You are no longer those little boys who used to play in our back yard, you are now beautiful young men and I love you both. All I want is for you both to be happy.'

She kissed and hugged us both then, before leaving us and heading down the hallway, saying, 'See you tomorrow, JJ,' as she left us.

We were both giggling quietly after she left us, before hugging each other once more.

'We both still have some study to do,' I said to Dallas.

'Yeah, I know.'

'See you in the morning?'

'I fucking hope so,' he replied, while planting another kiss on my lips. I then headed out the door with the taste of him lingering on my lips, the scent of him still remaining in my nostrils. I was so lost in this love for my man.

Thursday and Friday were repeats of the previous few days. Morning pick-up. McDonald's. School. Exams. Hanging out with friends at lunch time. Afternoon workouts. Sex. Home.

What a life! The routine was somewhat comforting. I didn't have to think too much about what was coming next. All I had to do was enjoy the ride.

At lunch time on Friday, as we were all gathered on the front lawn of the school, talking about the coming weekend and the party tomorrow night, Dallas leaned over to me and quietly said, 'Don't forget we have something else we need to do tomorrow.'

I looked at him with what must have been a questioning look on my face.

'We made an appointment, remember? Something about helicopters!'

It was only then that it dawned on me.

'Shit! I almost forgot. So, you still want to go ahead with them both?'

'Absolutely!' Dallas replied. 'I can feel my teen rebel stage coming on!'

'Your mother will kill me when she finds out!'

'Nah… you'll be fine! She loves you, remember!'

We were both laughing when Merry asked what we were up to.

'Oh, nothing much. We just remembered we had something else we needed to do tomorrow, other than the party,' I replied.

'Anything we need to know about?' she asked.

'No, not really. It's a guy thing,' I answered with a grin, which only earned me a reproachful glare.

'You're still coming to the party though?'

'Wouldn't miss if for the world,' Dallas replied.

Dallas and I had agreed that the tattoo idea was going to be something that would only be shared between us. Something discreet. Of course there was every chance that it could become known at some later point, especially given that Dallas played sports and there were no secrets when the team hit the showers, but for now, it would be just between us.

The nipple ring was something different, however. That would be noticed much sooner, especially since there was still two months of summer left and the pool, or the local swimming hole, always held an attraction for us at this time of year. I felt sure that people would see it for what it is, two boyfriends sharing something they liked, something that connected them, so I had no qualms about this becoming known. I wanted the tattoo to remain private though. At least for now.

The conversation quickly swung around to tomorrow's party, after our constantly being bombarded over the past few days by our chief party planner, Gemma Campbell, about who was coming and bla… bla… bla!

It had almost got to the point where it had become painful, but that wasn't going to stop us from having a great time. The party was going to be a casual affair, with food and music and fun… and we were all in need of some fun and an opportunity to let our hair down.

Gemma and the others who were helping with the organisation of the event had provided details of where it was being held and what time it was starting. They were also asking for a small donation to help cover the food costs, which nobody had complained about so far. I guess we were all just looking forward to having a great night.

Our group of friends, new and old, all made arrangements to meet at the party, though a few of them decided they would share cars and travel together. I offered to pick up Merry and Pete, but they said they would be fine as Pete was borrowing his mother's car. I suspected there would be some parking off taking place in some lover's lane once the party was over.

After school we all hung back for a little while, and just as Dallas and I were getting ready to leave we noticed Hollywood heading our way, so we decided to meet him half-way and started walking towards him, hand-in-hand and being totally ignored by all the kids who were waiting for their buses.

'Well, this sure is a sweet sight to see,' he said to us as we all stopped on the front lawn. 'Nothing negative coming from the masses?'

'Barely a peep,' Dallas answered.

'And Timmy?'

'Some attitude, but nothing physical,' I said.

'Well, that's good then. And I hear you two have started a trend. It was brought up in our staff meeting yesterday,' he remarked.

Dallas and I looked at each other. I think we were both worried about that. Would the powers that be try and stop us from being ourselves? Being a Catholic school there was a fair chance of that.

'You can relax, guys. Nothing is going to happen. It was just mentioned, and a couple of the teachers said that they thought there were other kids who might follow suit. Some of the old fogies in the room might have frowned, especially given that this is a Catholic school, but the Principal stated that there would be no crackdown. If it was okay for girls and boys to express affection, provided it was discreet and not overtly sexual, then it would be okay for girls and girls, or boys and boys. This is a progressive school and it's not nineteen-fifty after all.'

I let out a huge sigh. I had been expecting the worst.

'That doesn't mean it's okay to go about openly flaunting your relationships though. People are watching, so please just tell your friends to keep it low key, alright? There's only a week until school breaks up anyhow.'

'We can do that,' I replied.

'So, what's this I hear about an end-of-year party? I take it the two of you will be there?'

'Damn straight!' Dallas declared.

'Well, good for you. I'm just so glad you can live your lives however you want to now,' Hollywood said.

'And so are we,' said Dallas.

'And what about you, sir? Are you able to do that?' I enquired.

'Oh, I'm getting by,' he replied, with a laugh. 'You boys have yourselves a great weekend now,' he then said as he started walking away.

We both knew that Hollywood was on our team, if you know what I mean, and I had no doubt that he would be doing okay, or 'getting by' as he put it. If I didn't have a boyfriend already, and if Hollywood wasn't my teacher, I think his door would definitely be one that I would be knocking on.

When I glanced across at Dallas after watching Hollywood walk away I found him studying me carefully, while also grinning at me.

'What?' I said to him.

'What's the bet that you're thinking the same thing I was thinking?' he said, with a smirk on his face.

'Which was?'

'If only he wasn't our teacher…' Dallas replied.

'And, if only I didn't have a boyfriend…' I added.

The shocked expression that appeared on his face for just the briefest of moments was priceless, causing us both to crack up laughing.

'C'mon lover boy. I think we need to be somewhere else,' I said, as I took his hand in mine and started dragging him towards the car, oblivious to the smirks, grins, smiles and curious expressions of some our younger school mates as we passed them.

Dallas' mother was already home when we got to his house, so that ruled out any hanky-panky, at least for the present. Mrs P told us we would have the place to ourselves tonight though, as she was getting ready for a night out with her co-workers.

'Let's hit the gym first then,' Dallas suggested. 'See if we can't limber up those muscles of yours for later on.'

'I didn't think I had any muscles yet,' I complained.

'The ones you do have, I love just fine,' he said, before pulling me to him and wrapping his strong arms around me.

We were still kissing a minute later when we heard, 'Ahem…' from the door to the hallway.

Breaking off the kiss we looked that way, to find Dallas' mother leaning against the door frame, all dressed up for a night out, with her arms folded in front of her as she smiled our way.

'You could have at least waited until I'd left,' she gently teased us.

'Sorry, ma!'

'So, do you boys think you'll be okay on your own tonight?' she asked. 'We're having our work Christmas party at the Midtown Hotel.'

'Do you want us to wait up?' Dallas enquired.

'That'll be enough from you. I'll leave a fifty on the table so you can get pizzas or something.'

'Great. Thank you,' Dallas replied.

'I take it you'll be staying over, JJ?' she asked me.

'Yes, if that's okay?'

'Of course it is, honey. I need someone to help keep our favourite boofhead here on the straight and narrow!'

Dallas and I just looked at each other, then we both let out a muffled laugh at the unintended joke.

'What's so funny?' Mrs P asked.

'If you don't get it, ma, I guess I'll have to explain it to you later,' Dallas replied.

'You boys! Sometimes it's like you are talking a different language, you know that don't you?'

'No, ma. It's just that we translate stuff you oldies say in a different way,' Dallas responded.

'Old? Just who are you calling old, young man?'

'Nobody!' he said, as he pushed me towards the doorway that led to his room, eager to escape further scrutiny.

Once we made it to Dallas' bedroom he stripped off quickly and pulled on his workout clothes, so I followed his lead and did the same, before we both then headed for the garage. It was only a short time later, while Dallas was helping me with his weight set, when his mother dropped in and told us she was going, taking a few moments to watch us, before eventually leaving us.

As soon as she had left us Dallas pulled off his singlet and tossed it across the handle of their push mower, leaving his sexy, sweat-covered body glistening in the late afternoon sun that was coming through the high-set garage window.

'Are you trying to distract me or something?' I asked him.

'Just wanting to show you the end results of all the hard work you're about to do,' he said with a smirk.

'Not quite what I'm hoping for, but still impressive,' I replied.

'All you need to remember is low impact and repetition,' he added. 'You'll have a body others will drool over… through they'll have to get past me first.'

'Okay then. What do I do?'

We worked out for about forty-five minutes, with me following Dallas' every instruction. It wasn't hard work, but by the end of it, after sessions on all three sets of Dallas' gym equipment, I was exhausted. I also helped him as he continued with some gentle weights and other exercises, keeping in mind that his injuries were still restricting him from giving full effort to his exercise program, but I was still impressed with what he was able to achieve.

Once we were done it was almost dark, so we locked up and headed for the house.

'Should we call the pizza shop before taking a shower?' I asked, once we were inside.

'Good plan,' he replied. 'You know what I want, don't you?'

'Don't tell me that you still insist on ham and pineapple? That is sacrilege!'

'And let me guess, you'll have a Super Supreme?'

'Of course, but with no pineapple,' I corrected him.

'Okay then, phone it through!'

As tempting as it may have been to take things further after our workout, shower time was limited to just that, as our pizzas would only be twenty minutes away from being delivered. We both did take great enjoyment, however, in washing each other's and backs and helping each other clean up, which was almost as enjoyable as sex anyhow.

It was while we were drying off, I heard the sound of the front doorbell being rung.

'I guess that'll be the pizza guy. I'll get it if you like. They're sure quick off the mark tonight,' I said, while Dallas continued to dry himself.

'Don't forget that mum left the money on the kitchen counter,' he said.

Wrapping a large white towel around myself, leaving my top half naked, with my hair still wet and unruly, I left the bedroom and walked through to the kitchen, picking up the fifty-dollar bill and then heading down the hallway to the front door.

When I reached it, I opened the door, but instead of finding a pizza delivery boy there with boxes of hot pizza in his hand, I was confronted by Dallas' father, standing on the front porch and looking me up and down. His face was etched with a look of disgust upon seeing me in the state I was in.

I had hoped that his attitude towards me and Dallas may have thawed somewhat after our most recent run-in, when Dallas and I had waited outside while Mr P had retrieved some of his belongings, but apparently not.

There were no hellos exchanged as we stood there looking at each other through the open doorway.

'I assume Dallas is here?' he asked. 'I'm not coming in, but I'd like to talk to him.'

Just at that moment I heard Dallas somewhere behind me asking, 'Was that the pizza guy?'

'No, Dall. But you're needed here, please,' I replied.

Moments later I hear him hurrying down the hallway and asking, 'What's up?' before he joined me and opened the door a little more, to find his father standing there.

In an instant his expression went from curious, to shock, and then anger.

'Hello, son. I think we need to talk.'

'About what?' Dallas said coldly.

'In private please?'

'No. If you've got anything to say, you can say it to both of us. Especially if what you're going to say involves JJ or includes an apology for how you've treated the both of us.'

His father looked from one of us to the other, taking in the sight of two teenage boys wrapped only in white towels, then sighed and shook his head.

'You need to think about this, Dallas. This is your future that is at stake here.'

Suddenly I felt like I had been sucker punched. Dallas' father still hated me. He hated everything I was and everything I stood for, and now he was trying to turn Dallas against me. It was as plain as day.

'Excuse me?' Dallas forcefully said, while at the same time using one arm to get me to step back and behind him, shielding me from his old man. 'You don't get to tell me what to do any more, dad! Part of my future involves me being happy… and when I'm with JJ, I am happy. When you're around, I'm not. So who do you think I'm going to want to be with?'

'Dallas, you don't…'

'I don't what?' Dallas almost yelled. 'Understand? Is that it? You want me to think like you and be like you? Well guess what, DAD, right now you're the last person I want to be like. I bet you only came here tonight because you knew mum would be out… that you'd be able to bully me into something I don't want to do… and if that's the case you're going to be sadly disappointed. Man, she's going to love this!'

His father could only stand there in silence. But Dallas wasn't finished yet.

'I love JJ… and he loves me. The only reason we didn't realise it sooner was because of all the shit that you've poisoned my head with over the years. When I needed to be saved, it was JJ who was there for me. When I needed my head sorted out, and to make me see how the real world really is, it was JJ who showed me. I don't care what you think any more, dad. And neither does mum. You can't bully us any more… any of us… so I think it's your turn to leave. And right now!'

Once more Dallas' father looked from one of us to the other, then shook his head.

'Go now, otherwise I'll be making a phone call. I'm sure mum will love to hear all about this little visit.'

With an annoyed grunt, his old man stepped back, then he turned and took a few steps. Just as he did so we saw the pizza delivery boy walking up the path towards us, carrying two pizza boxes. He stopped and stepped aside as Dallas' father started down the path, anger oozing from every pore of his body.

The expression on the face of the delivery boy was one of fear and confusion, after seeing an obviously angry man walking towards him, and then looking up to see two half-naked teen boys standing at the doorway, water still dripping from their damp hair and wearing only white towels.

'You guys order some pizzas?' he asked.

I stepped forward and took them from him, then handed him the cash I was holding.

'Yeah. Thanks,' I said. 'You can keep the change,' I added, hoping an almost twenty-dollar tip would help settle his nerves.

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