Juggling the Pieces

by Pink Panther

Chapter 9

September 2010

For our Friday training run, both Jon and Dean are with us. Dean's looking great. At almost 6'2", he's the tallest of us, and being broader across the hips and shoulders than anyone else in the group, he packs considerably more muscle. But as I suspected, even though he and his dad did some running while they were away, he's not in great shape for what we're doing. After around four miles, he begins to struggle.

"Should we wait for him?" Alan asks.

"No," I tell him. "He knows the route, and he won't want to hold us up. Don't worry, he'll be fine."

In the event, he finishes a good two minutes behind the rest of us. Typically though, there are no complaints.

"Well done!" I congratulate as he appears in the club room.

"That was tough!" he says, grinning. "I need to get myself fit!"

I don't say anything, but I do wonder how fit he's going to get. He's a big lad now, and not as well-adapted to cross-country running as he was a few years ago. Other than on short relay-legs, I'm not sure that he'll be able to compete.

I spend the rest of Friday getting ready to go back to school. Shortly after ten, I receive my nightly text from Scott:

The match went well. We won 1 – 0. I played 75 minutes and got an assist for the goal. I'm hoping to make the starting line-up for Tuesday. Love you lots! S.

They were playing somewhere in Portugal, though I'm not sure where. It sounds to me like a good result. On Tuesday, they're at home to Lithuania, which should be easier. I key in my reply:

Well done! Glad things are going well! Missing you lots! Love you too!

Writing to him like that makes me feel guilty about what happened yesterday. I give myself a mental kick, reminding myself that it won't happen again, and that I've buried it. All I have to do is to make sure it stays buried.

Saturday is more of the same. By the end of the day, I'm struggling to find things to do. At half past ten, Dad and I sit on the sofa to watch highlights of the England senior side's Euro 2012 qualifying match at Wembley. They beat Bulgaria 4 – 0, with Jermaine Defoe scoring a hat trick. Even with my limited knowledge, I can see that England were totally dominant.

"Bulgaria are no longer the force they used to be," Dad comments. "Back in the day, that would have been a tough match."

For Sunday's training run, Dean's dad Mike joins us. After around half an hour's running, both Dean and Mike are beginning to struggle. Fortunately, I'd planned for this, our route having brought us back to within half a mile of the house. While Dean and his dad take the shortcut, the rest of us set off around a different loop. With two miles to go, I'm feeling pretty good.

"Are you up for running a bit faster?" I ask, turning to Alan.

"Sure," he says. "Not too much though."

I pick up the pace a little. It's not eyeballs-out, but quite respectable. Of course, David and Patrick cope with it easily, and having trained with him during the summer, I know that Nathan will too. Jon, however, is an unknown quantity. Although it's clearly a bit quicker than he's used to, he's a tough lad. Determined not to get dropped, he hangs on all the way back to the house.

"Well done, everybody!" Alan calls as we stroll up the drive.

"Unusual to see you pushing things along," Patrick teases.

"Well, we all seemed to be going quite easily," I respond. "Anyway, it wasn't that fast."

"True!" Patrick concedes, grinning.

Behind us, Alan turns to Jon, who's blowing pretty hard.

"You did really well!" he congratulates. "Are you okay?"

"Sure!" Jon says. "That was quick!"

"You'll soon get used to it!" Alan assures him.

I'm not sure what pleases me more, Jon running so well, or Alan having the sense to speak to him. We might not have much by way of star quality, but I'm getting the sense that the team's going to do better than I'd initially thought.

The rest of Sunday is purgatory. I'm on my own, with nothing that I need to do, or really want to do. When I'm in that situation, I get very, very horny. I guess it's pretty common among teenage boys. What I want is to be with Scott, so that he can make passionate love to me, fuck me into the middle of next week, or anything else that's likely to take his fancy. Instead, he's on a plane flying back from Portugal, and I won't be able to see him for another three days. Grrrrr!

I'm in a room I don't recognise. Even more bizarre, I'm with Franny and Sacha, with no idea how we got here. We're all naked. Sacha's lying face-down on the bed, a pillow under his hips. Lying on top, Franny's fucking him.

As soon as he's finished, Franny pulls out. Now it's my turn. I'm just sticking my cock into Sacha's cute little bum when . . . I wake up with a massive jolt. My sleeping-shorts are soaked. Fuck! I pull them off and throw them on the floor.

That is scary. If I'd been dreaming about Scott, it'd have been, like, no problem. But I wasn't; I was dreaming about Franny and Sacha. That's not right, but fuck knows what I can do about it.

If anything, Monday's worse than Sunday was. With Jayden back from the Algarve, he and Anthony are making up for lost time. Dean's spending the day with Rebecca. Even Patrick is taking his girlfriend out somewhere. Of course, there are plenty of things I could do, but the motivation's just not there. Tomorrow, I'll be back at school. Meanwhile, this could well be the longest twenty-four hours of my life.

When I arrive at school, all the new Year 12 students are gathered around the noticeboard, checking to see which tutor group we're in. There are eight groups, and with almost everyone having stayed on, each group contains around fifteen students.

I'm a bit nervous about this, hoping that at least a few of my friends will be in the same group as I am. In the event, I'm surprised to find that the group I'm in contains all my friends from Mrs Vickers' form, while people like Mark, Andrew, Sophie and Stephen, who haven't spoken to me for the past three years, have all been put into different groups. Wow! Whoever decided on this gets a big 'Thank you!' from me. Our tutor will be Mr Lewis, who teaches geography.

We begin with assembly. Even though we went through A-level induction back in July, Mr Carter gives us a more focused version of what he told us then.

"Many of you have done extremely well in your GCSE exams," he states. "Obviously, that is very pleasing, but may I remind you that you must not allow yourselves to become complacent. Remember, all you have done is to climb onto the next rung of the ladder. Getting onto the one after this will be even more demanding. Those of you that didn't do quite so well should already know, without me having to spell it out, that you are facing a tough challenge. The only thing that will get you there is maximum effort. We also expect you to set a positive example to our younger pupils.

Now, at your age, many of you will be developing quite active social lives. There is nothing wrong with that, but you have to maintain your focus on why you are here. Your teachers and I will be keeping a watchful eye on how you are working, and I will deal very firmly with anyone who is not doing what we expect of you.

Let me say finally, that the key is learning to manage your time. As long as you do that, it is perfectly possible to have a good social life while still doing justice to your academic work. Are there any questions?"

Unsurprisingly, there aren't any.

"Right!" he announces. "Let me wish you all the very best for the next stage of your career. If there are any problems, speak either to your form tutor, or come and see me. The list of tutor groups is on the noticeboard, so you should already know who you are with, and which room you are in. You are to go there now. You may dismiss!"

We head for Mr Lewis's classroom. By the time he's issued us with our timetables and locker keys, and given us yet another version of the pep-talk, it's morning break. Placing my book-bag in my locker, I take my folder and head to the art rooms in search of Mr Gault.

"Ian!" he says, smiling warmly. "Good to see you! How was the holiday?"

"Great, thanks sir!" I tell him. "Would you like to see the work I did?"

"Of course!" he replies with obvious enthusiasm.

As I open my folder, he begins to look through them.

"Oh, these are excellent," he says, nodding sagely. "You've made a big step forward, especially with the pastels and acrylics."

"Anthony introduced me to the guy who helped him last year. He's pretty amazing."

"He's obviously made a big impression on you, as he did on Anthony last year."

"Sir," I ask quietly. "Will I need to keep some of these for my A-level folder?"

"Yes, you should definitely keep some of them," he advises. "You won't need them all though."

"The thing is sir," I explain. "Mum and Dad would like to have a couple of them to put up at home. I really need to know which ones they can have."

"If you can leave them with me, I'll have a proper look through. Come and see me at the end of the day, and I'll tell you which ones I'd like you to keep."

"Thanks, sir!" I acknowledge.

With classes over for the day, I collect my art folder from Mr Gault. He's selected two watercolours, two acrylics and two pastels for me to keep in my A-level folder.

"These are an insurance policy," he tells me. "I'm sure you'll do some even better work before then, but if anything were to go wrong, at least having these would give us something to present."

That's it then. At the weekend, I'll take the others back to Scott's place so that he can decide which ones he's going to get framed.

After dinner, I get stuck into my maths homework. As a result, the evening passes quickly. At ten o'clock, I begin to get ready for bed. I wonder whether I should have a wank. I'm a bit worried about having another wet dream, but as I've never had two of them only a couple of days apart, that does seem unlikely. The thing is that I'll be seeing Scott tomorrow afternoon. If I don't have a wank between now and then, I'll be super-horny for him. It's the way to go!

The next afternoon, Dean and I head to the gym changing rooms to get ready for cross-country training. We've just finished getting changed when Alan appears.

"To begin with, would it be okay for me to work with the weaker runners?" Dean asks him. "I'm nowhere like fit enough to be running with you guys at the moment."

Predictably, Alan looks hesitant, like he doesn't know what to do.

"Actually, that would be a really good idea," I tell him. "It was Dean that got me into running. I was hopeless when I started. If it hadn't been for him teaching me how to breathe properly, I wouldn't even be here."

"I'll ask Mr Bentley," Alan responds.

Once he's shooed the badminton and table-tennis players away, Mr Bentley calls us to order.

"Welcome back!" he says, smiling. "It's good to see you all. I'd like to extend a special welcome to the boys from Year 11, who are here for the first time. All four of you were members of the team that won the intermediate boys' race at the county schools' championships back in February, and so I know you're going to make an important contribution. May I remind you that in addition to Wednesday afternoons, we train from here after school on Mondays and Thursdays. That will begin tomorrow, and you are all expected to attend. For those who don't know, our team captain this season will be Alan Sharp. Stand up, please Alan, so everyone can see you."

Once Alan has sat down again, Mr Bentley continues.

"Our first race is in two weeks' time. I understand that some of you have already got some running done, so by then we should be in fairly decent shape. Right! This afternoon there will be two training groups, the main group that Alan will lead, and a second group, which will be led by Dean Griffiths. The other members of that group will be Richardson from Year 13, Armstrong from Year 12 and Birch and Shipley from Year 11. And Richardson, don't get any silly ideas," he says acidly. "Griffiths is in charge, and I expect you to give him your full cooperation. Right, gentlemen! Off you go!"

We head out into the pale September sunshine. There are eight in our group. That includes five of the guys who've been training from my house, plus Darren Palmer and Carl Bennet from Year 13, and Simon Heath from Year 12. Last season, Darren and Simon beat me in almost every race. Carl never beat me once. Simon and Carl have spent the summer playing cricket, while Darren lives out in the middle of nowhere and only ever trains at school.

"Okay, lads!" Alan announces. "A nice steady seven to start off with! Let's go!"

As he leads us out of the school grounds, I settle in on his shoulder. It's a route we know well. After five miles, seven of us are still together, with Carl a few yards behind. While it's very pleasant, I sense that we're taking it a little too easily.

"Is it okay to pick things up a bit?" I ask, turning to Alan.

"Okay," he agrees. "As long as you don't overdo it."

Increasing my pace, I move to the front. Now we're really running! Even so, it's nowhere near what Patrick can do when he's got the bit between his teeth. The effect is almost immediate. Within a couple of minutes, Darren and Simon are off the pace. But just like on Sunday, Jon hangs on all the way back to school. He's clearly going to be a big asset.

"Nice one!" Patrick says approvingly as we turn in through the gate. "Those last two miles were much more like it!"

"Thanks!" Alan says appreciatively. "That was good! I'm really not used to being on the front." He turns to Jon. "Another good one!" he says, smiling. "Well done!"

Strolling back into the changing room, I'm very happy. The more I see of Alan, the more I like him. He's a pretty ordinary runner, and definitely not a natural leader. But as team captain, he's trying his best, and he's willing to learn. You can't really ask for more than that.

As I make my way inside, Dean's already dressed, ready to go home.

"How far did you go?" I ask.

"About four and a half," he says. "The two Year 11 lads aren't bad at all. They need to work on their breathing, but once they've got that sorted out, they should do okay, which is more than you can say about those other two wankers."

I grin instinctively. It seems that Dean's opinion of Armstrong and Richardson is much the same as mine.

After spending a few minutes in the shower, I return to the changing area. As none of the other lads bothered to have a shower, there's no-one else about. Taking the football shorts that Scott gave me out of my bag, I quickly slip them on, pulling my school trousers on over them.

After putting on the rest of my school uniform, I make my way out, heading directly to Scott's flat. Climbing the stairs, I've already got a raging hard-on. I ring the bell. Moments later, the door opens.

"Come in!" Scott instructs, smiling at me.

I step inside. Dressed in shorts and a muscle-shirt, he looks stunning.

"I've missed you so much!" he whispers, drawing me into a perfect hug.

"I've missed you too!" I respond.

Something else that's immediately obvious is that he's every bit as horny as I am.

"What time did you get back?" I enquire.

"About one o'clock."

Right! He's been waiting for me for two and a half hours. That's enough to make anyone horny! We head straight to the bedroom. After I've taken off my blazer and discarded my shoes and socks, he helps me to undress.

Having removed my tie, he unbuttons my shirt, easing it off my shoulders and out of my waistband. As I shuck it right off, he undoes my belt and the top of my trousers before pulling down the zip. Skinning them down my legs, he notices the shorts.

"I've not seen you in those before," he breathes, pulling my trousers over my feet. "Very sexy!"

He runs his hands up the backs of my legs, his fingers working their way inside my shorts.

"Oh, yes!" he exhales, his index finger locating my bum-hole. "Is that what you want?"

"Sure, if you're up for it."

"Oh, I'm up for it alright!"

It's not a surprise. After eight days with no sex, he'd probably fuck me while hanging from the lampshade if that was what I wanted. Quickly discarding his top and his shorts, he picks up the K-Y.

Knowing what's going to come next, I bend over the bed. A moment later, his hand slides up the back of my shorts, a well-lubed finger pushing into my anus. Working it further in, he touches my prostate, making my penis twitch and tingle.

"Are you ready?" he asks.


He allows his hand to slide back out. Within a couple of seconds, his cock is advancing up the leg of my shorts. He locates my bum-hole. After pausing for a moment, he thrusts it in.

"Oh, yeah!" I gasp.

"This is what you want, isn't it?" he demands.

"Yeah! Stick it right up me!"

Holding me around the tops of my thighs, he slowly draws me onto him until I've got the whole thing. After a brief pause, he sets to work. Beginning quite slowly, he gradually picks up the pace until he's fucking me senseless. With my prick rubbing against my shorts, the tingling sensations become almost unbearable.

Not having cum since my wet dream in the small hours of Monday morning, I guess I was never going to last long. With almost no warning, I simply explode.

"Oh, fuck!" I gasp, my penis jerking into action.

In the next instant, my shorts are soaked, my anal ring clamping tight around Scott's dick.

"Oh, you sexy boy!" he groans, his hot teen spunk spurting deep inside me.

After a few seconds, he carefully withdraws. I head to the bathroom, my shorts a total mess. I pull them off, sitting on the toilet to eject Scott's cum. Once I've wiped myself clean and dry, I rinse out my shorts, leaving them over the side of the bath. Still naked, I stroll back to the bedroom. Scott's lying on the bed, waiting for me. I quickly join him.

"Good trip, then?" I enquire.

"Very good thanks! The best one I've been on. It's not that I was working with better players, but guys who are further on in their career, people I can learn from. The same with the coaches; everyone was really helpful."

"You did well, though."

"Sure. An assist in both games; that's what I was there for. Last night, I only played the first half. I was getting a bit ragged by then. That's okay. I'd done enough and the coaches had seen enough."

"What d'you mean by ragged?"

"Tired, basically. I'm not used to playing two games within a few days of each other. I need to build up my endurance, but that's a long-term thing. If you try to rush it, you'll get injured."

"Oh, right!"

"It's the same with upper-body strength," he explains. "I need to build that up too, but there are no shortcuts. It'll be a couple of years before I'm strong enough to play in the Premier League, and at least a couple more before I'm as strong as I want to be."

"You really understand all this stuff, don't you?"

"Not as well as I'd like to, but I'm getting there. To be honest, I'm in a very fortunate position."

"Why's that?" I enquire.

"For many of the guys, football's their whole life; it's all they know. As a player, you have a relatively short career, and for guys who can't do anything else, the temptation is to rush things, like they take moves to big clubs before they're ready for them. In the short term, that can earn them a great deal of money, but it doesn't help them to develop as players. Now I'll always be able to earn a good living, so I can afford to be patient. As long as I stay healthy and get the right opportunities, I'll be a far better player in four years' time than I am now. And that's what I'm working towards."

"I love you!" I say, nuzzling his ear. "You plan out where you're trying to get to, just like I do. It's why we work so well together."

"I tried explaining that to Dad, but I'm not sure why I bothered. He doesn't even want to consider anything that doesn't fit in with his way of looking at things."

"Well, that's his problem," I say, looking Scott right in the eye. "We don't have to make it our problem."

We relax on the bed, kissing and cuddling, just enjoying being together. It's not something I've been able to do with anyone else. It's part of the special bond that we have, a bond that's worth working for, even fighting for if we need to.

Eventually, Scott checks his watch. It's twenty to five.

"Are you up for round two?" he asks.

"Sure!" I say, grinning.

We quickly settle into our familiar positions, making love like we usually do. It's wonderful. It really is everything I could ask for. Just before five o'clock, he shoots his spunk into me for the second time this afternoon.

After a few seconds, he carefully pulls out.

"You didn't cum!" he says, looking a little disappointed.

"Sorry," I say, grinning. "I shot, like, a gallon the first time. It'll be at least another hour before I'll be able to shoot anymore. That's just how it is."

"No problem!" he says, grinning back.

It's Wednesday again. Another week has gone past. With homework, running and spending time with Scott, this is the busiest I've ever been, and I'm loving it. I've been with Scott five times since he's been back. By the end of this afternoon, it'll be six. That's the icing on the cake!

At ten past two, the cross-country group sets out on the afternoon training run. We'll be doing eight miles. Things have been going well. On Sunday and Monday, we picked up the pace much earlier in the run, like after about two miles. It did result in Jon getting dropped well before the end, but it wasn't a problem. He was never that far behind. I like him! He's got a great attitude.

With a mile and a half to go, Patrick moves up alongside me.

"Time to stretch out a bit," he says quietly. "I'll see you back at school."

With that, he accelerates smoothly away, leaving Alan, Nathan and myself trailing in his wake.

"That's amazing!" Alan comments. "It's not as though we were hanging about."

"You should have seen him when he ran the three thousand at the English Schools," I counter. "I couldn't believe he ran as fast as he did and only finished third."

"What time did he run?" Nathan asks.

"Eight minutes thirty-four."

"So what did the winner do?"

"Eight minutes twenty-eight. He ran his last two hundred in twenty-six seconds."

"That's ridiculous!" Alan says. "I can't run two hundred metres in under thirty seconds!"

"Nor can I!" I tell him. "I'm not sure Patrick can either. That's why he wasn't too disappointed that he didn't win. There just wasn't any more he could have done."

It's Friday afternoon. Our second week back at school has just ended. Since we've been back, I've learned that the biggest difference between GCSE and 'A' Level is the way we're expected to think for ourselves. Maths is especially difficult. Even after doing Additional Maths, everything's gone up a level. Instead of being given a set routine for solving a particular type of problem, we have to apply the principles we're learning, and experiment in order to discover how things work.

Having been used to getting everything right first time, it's quite a culture shock, and although I love Mr Hawkes' classes, I'm not totally used to him yet. But I'm not worried. Initially, I found Additional Maths really difficult, but I ended up with a grade A. I'm confident that as long as I get my head down and hang in there, I'll succeed at A-level too.

History's also quite demanding, but Mr Anderson's such an inspiring teacher, I seem to be taking it in my stride. Having Zav in the class is weird. In our first couple of years here, he used to show off the whole time, always putting up his hand to answer questions. These days, he never says a word unless Mr Anderson asks him something.

With Claire and her friends no longer around, I had wondered if he'd try to have another go at me, but there's been no sign of it. Outside class, he keeps strictly to himself. He doesn't seem to have any friends at all, not even the people who used to hang out with him.

On the positive side, I'm well on top of my Art and Design work. Mr Gault tells me what I need to do, and I get on with it. If I need any advice, I ask. In a way, it's not like work. It's my passion, the stuff I really what I want to be doing. The time I spend on it simply flies past.

I spend Saturday evening at Scott's flat. By quarter past ten, after two wonderful hours together, we're both fully dressed and sitting in the lounge. A few minutes later, the doorbell rings.

Scott goes to answer it, returning with Dad in tow. We spend the next hour and a half watching Match of the Day. Not only does it help me to understand more about football, it's a totally enjoyable experience. Dad has this knack of being able to get along with just about anyone, and Scott's no exception.

With midnight approaching, it's time for Dad to take me home.

"You and Scott seem to get on really well," I comment, settling into the front passenger seat.

"He's a good lad," Dad responds. "He's got his head very firmly screwed on. He knows where he wants to go, and has a very clear idea what it'll take for him to get there."

"Yeah," I agree. "That's what I think too."

"What I really like is that although he has great confidence in himself, he doesn't big himself up. I still think you're very young to be taking on something like this, but you could go a long way, and do an awful lot worse. It'll be fantastic if you can make it work."

"Thanks, Dad! I wish Scott's dad thought like you do."

"Oh, I'm afraid you're going to have a hard time winning him over," Dad warns. "All he can see is all the work he's put in, and the sacrifices that he and Scott's mum have made, going down the tubes. It's your job to make sure that doesn't happen."

He's spelt it out in big letters. It's not going to be easy, not that I ever thought it would be. I don't think he could have made it any clearer.

Our first race of the season takes place at the same park on the south-west side of Birmingham as it did last year, and against the same three schools. On Monday, we only ran an easy five miles in order to make sure we'd be fresh for today. We're about to find out how ready we are.

Although I start faster than I used to, halfway around the first lap I'm running with Darren Palmer in around twentieth place, with Patrick, Alan, Nathan and Jon all in front of us. Over the next two laps, I gradually pick people off. With three quarters of a mile to go, I'm up on Alan's shoulder, just outside the top ten. Holding my position until we're on the home straight, I outsprint him on the run to the line. I've finished eleventh. For me, that's a big breakthrough.

With Patrick having finished third, Alan twelfth, Nathan fourteenth, Jon sixteenth and Darren nineteenth, we've scored seventy-five points. Given that Patrick's our only 'good' runner, that's not a bad effort. In the event, we've finished second, the winners having scored sixty-three.

The one guy who hasn't run very well is Simon Heath, who finished twenty-second. He looks distraught. I go across to Alan.

"Have a word with Simon," I suggest quietly. "He hasn't run since before Easter, so he's not fit at the moment. But he could do well for us later in the season."

As Alan goes to offer Simon some words of encouragement, I check the results envelope. Of the other two Year 11 boys, Rhys Shipley finished thirtieth and Martin Birch thirty-third. That's around where I finished in my first race. Dean was right. As long as they're willing to put the work in, they could do okay.

The following afternoon, as soon as our history class has finished, Dean and I head towards the gym changing rooms.

"Afterwards," he asks quietly. "Could you come over to the house for a few minutes? It's really important. I didn't want to ask while there were other people around."

"Sure," I respond.

I've no idea what it's about, but Dean wouldn't tell me it's important if it's not. And I don't ask him. I'll find out soon enough.

After training, we head over to Alexandra Square. There's no conversation, not a word. This has to be serious! We reach the house and head up to his room.

"Did you see 'BBC Crimewatch' last night?" he asks, booting up his laptop.

"No, why?"

"Watch this."

Going into BBC iPlayer, he loads the programme, scanning through until he finds the clip. It begins to play. It's a report about an eleven-year old boy who was subjected to a serious sexual assault in Thurlston Forest, about six miles from here. The boy didn't see his attacker's face, but he did see his hands and forearms, which were slim and smooth, and he told police that whoever it was talked 'posh' and sounded young, like a teenager. Afterwards, he saw his attacker running away, describing him as fairly tall, slim, and possibly having fair hair. Some other kids playing in the forest saw a boy who looked like that, and helped to put together an e-fit picture. It comes up on the screen.

I know who it is. We both do. I knew he was capable of something like this. I just hoped it wouldn't happen. Suddenly, I feel sick, and rush from the room. Dean finds me in the bathroom, just as I finish throwing up.

"Sorry, man!" he says, looking totally shocked. "Are you okay?"

"Just about," I reply.

After Dean's helped me back to his room, I tell him what Zav tried to do in the toilets, almost two years ago.

"Why didn't you tell someone?" he demands.

"I spoke to Mr Ashton," I say quietly. "He said there was no point in telling Mr Steadman. I got out without a scratch, so there was no evidence. It would have been my word against Zav's. And back then, I hadn't told Mum and Dad that I was gay. Mum would have gone bananas if it had come out like that."


"I did tell Claire. D'you remember when Claire and her mates descended on him, back when we were in Year 9?"

"I'm not likely to forget it," he says.

"Claire told him he wasn't to even breathe on me. So when I told her what had happened, she said he needed a reminder."

"And two weeks later, someone kicked him in the balls."


"If that was Martine Jackson, he was lucky they weren't crushed to a pulp!"

"I don't know. I didn't ask, and Claire never said anything." I pause for a second. "I thought Zav lived in Straffham?"

"It's not that far from Thurlston," he counters. "Only about four miles; easy enough on a bike. When Zav and I used to hang out, we went there loads of times. He knows it like the back of his hand; places where we could hide, places where we could stash our bikes, all sorts of stuff. It was where he was going to train his guerrilla army to take over the country. And think about the date when this happened."

"What about it?" I ask, having missed that bit.

"It was the day after we got our exam results," he says. "Zav's weren't anywhere like as good as they should have been. I reckon his mum and dad would have had a blazing row about it. So the next day, Zav went to Thurlston to get away."

"And raped an eleven-year old."

"Oh, he wouldn't have planned it. The kid was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. You've seen how impulsive he is."

I nod. I really don't want to deal with this.

"I'll have to tell Dad," he says. "Then we'll have to talk to the police. D'you remember you told me about Zav going with that younger kid?"

"I'd rather you didn't mention that," I say firmly.

"Fair enough. But are you willing to tell the police what happened with you and Zav? You won't need to say anything about Claire."

"I guess I'll have to."

When I arrive at Scott's place on Friday afternoon, I'm still quite subdued.

"What's wrong, babe?" he asks, looking concerned.

I briefly outline what's happened.

"I knew there was something wrong with that kid!" Scott growls angrily. "Well, now he's going to get what's coming to him!" Pausing for a moment, he smiles, holding me gently. "That's a shame; it's spoilt the party. I've been called up for the next two England under-21 matches. I'll be away from 5th to 13th October."

"Another eight days?"

"Yeah, sorry babe!"

"It's okay. It's part of your job. Which teams will you be playing?"

"Romania, home and away. I guess it's not too bad," he says, still smiling. "There's one more match in November, then nothing until next March."

We move to the bedroom. We do have sex, but it's way gentler than usual. At this moment, it's exactly what I needed.

The next day, my mood lightens considerably when Scott's team achieves a convincing win away from home. By the time Dad joins us to watch Match of the Day, I'm almost back to my usual self.

The following morning, I get Dean on his own.

"Have you spoken to your dad yet?" I ask.

"No," he admits. "Things have been a bit manic. Mum and Dad have had a lot on for the past couple of days. I'm going to speak to Dad this afternoon, okay?"

"Sure," I tell him.

On Monday evening, there's a knock on my bedroom door.

"Come in!" I call.

Mum enters. With Claire already in Leeds, getting everything ready for the start of the university term, it couldn't have been anyone else.

"I've just had a call from Mike Griffiths," she says. "He says you're not in any trouble, but he needs to talk to me. He'll be here in a few minutes. Do you know what it's about?"

"Yes," I admit, "but I'll let him tell you. He'll explain it much better than I can."

Mum gives me a disapproving look and leaves me to it. Ten minutes later, the doorbell rings. I let Mum answer it. I've still got my maths homework to finish. It's not long before there's another knock at my door. Mum wants me downstairs.

I follow her to the lounge. I'm not looking forward to this. Mike Griffiths is sitting in one of the armchairs. Mum points to the sofa. I sit on it, feeling like the condemned man.

"Can you explain to me why you never told us about this boy attacking you?" she asks, taking her seat on the other armchair.

"There was no point," I say, trying to sound respectful. "I got out without a scratch. It would have been my word against his. And I hadn't even told you I was gay at that stage. I didn't want you finding out like that."

"He might have attacked you again!" she says, sounding exasperated.

"I spoke to Mr Ashton," I say, somewhat reluctantly. "He said that he thought it was unlikely."

"Why Mr Ashton?" Mum asks, clearly having no idea.

I look pleadingly at Mike, desperate for him to help me out.

"Craig Ashton is openly gay," Mike explains. "He doesn't go shouting it from the rooftops, but he's in a civil partnership. You can't get much more open than that. Most of the pupils know; certainly the older ones do."

"Oh, I see," Mum says, looking perplexed. She turns back to me. "But now you're going to tell the police what this boy tried to do to you."


"And this latest attack. Are you sure it's him?"

"As sure as we can be," I say. "Anyway, from what Mike's told us, they've got DNA evidence. That will prove it one way or the other. If it's not him, he'll be eliminated from the enquiry."

"That's correct," Mike confirms."

"Okay," Mum says, turning to Mike. "I'll let you make the arrangements."

"Don't worry," he assures her. "I'll be with him the whole time. There won't be a problem."

It's Wednesday evening. We're at the police station. Dean and I have prepared written statements which Mike gives to one of the detectives. Then we wait. After about twenty minutes, the senior investigating officer calls me and Mike into a small interview room where he introduces us to a woman colleague. Once we're settled into our chairs, the two detectives go through my statement, asking me to confirm what I've written. With that completed, they move on to asking questions, like why I spoke to Mr Ashton, that sort of thing. Then the crunch comes.

"I'm sorry to have to ask you this," the woman detective says. "But from what you've told us, Xavier started picking on you for being gay almost four years ago. How do we know that making this statement isn't your way of getting back at him?"

"Did Mr Griffiths tell you how I reacted when Dean showed me the video clip and the e-fit?"

"Yes," she confirms.

"Then I hoped you'd understand that I'd rather not be here. I thought I'd put all that business behind me. But I'm here because you asked for help to find the person who attacked the boy in Thurlston Forest, and Dean and I are pretty sure that we know who it is."

The two detectives look at each other and nod.

"That's fair enough," the senior detective says. "Thanks for coming in. It's been very helpful."

Mike and I make our way out. Now it's Dean's turn. He's had a difficult time already, like having to tell his Dad about him and Zav messing about, back when they were in Year Eight. That must have been seriously embarrassing. But Dean and Mike are really close. It was never going to cause a problem. My interview lasted less than twenty minutes. Dean's takes almost an hour, I guess because he and Zav go back such a long way. Finally, it's over, and we're on our way home.

"What will happen now?" I ask.

"The police will have to follow up what we've told them," Mike says. "I'm not sure exactly how they'll go about it. They wouldn't share that information with me. Now it's essential is that neither of you says anything about this. If Xavier doesn't appear in school, the rumours are bound to start. So, if anyone asks, you know nothing."

I nod my understanding. It's sound advice. I think it's what I'd have done anyway, but I'm glad he's spelt it out.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead