Juggling the Pieces

by Pink Panther

Chapter 23

June 2011

Settling back into my usual routine is easier than I expected. Two days after returning from holiday, I'm back at school and picking up where I left off ten days earlier. My only regret is that I can't share my holiday experiences more widely. Patrick, Dean and Anthony are the only guys who know that I was on holiday with Scott, and I can't even tell them about most of what we got up to. The nude sunbathing is as far as I'm prepared to go.

Monday, as soon as classes have finished for the day, I join the other distance runners for the last 'hard' track session before Saturday's county championships. It's good to see that the Year Eleven boys have stayed behind after their CCSE exams, and Alan, who didn't have an A-level exam this afternoon, has come in specially for it.

Even so, I can't help wondering if there'll be any awkward questions about what I was doing during half term. As it goes, there aren't any. A couple of the lads say they're pleased to have me back, and that's it.

Having spent a week without doing any proper running, I'm also unsure as to how I'll go. The run yesterday morning went pretty well, but that's my strong suit. Having made sure that I've warmed up properly, I take the first part of the session just a fraction easier than usual. It pays dividends. By the end, I'm going well and feeling strong, confident in the knowledge that I've got plenty left in the tank.

The rest of the week simply flies past. I'm working hard, doing some running, though nothing too strenuous, hanging out with my friends and spending time with Scott. Almost before I know it, it's Saturday morning.

Unlike last year, the County Schools' Athletics Championships are being held at the same stadium where we had the City Championships just before half term. With it being so close, Dad insists on taking me. It'll be the first time he's ever seen me race.

With the senior boys' 3000 metres scheduled for mid-afternoon, we arrive shortly before the meeting's due to start. As usual on these occasions, the track events begin with the four hundred metre hurdles' races. After the two girls' races, the stewards go around the track, raising the height of all the hurdles for the intermediate boys' race.

As soon as the intermediate boys have finished, the stewards repeat the exercise, raising the hurdles to 3'0" for the senor boys' race. With Patrick sitting on one side of me, and Dad and Mike Griffiths on the other, I settle down to watch, eager to see Dean perform again.

The gun sounds and they're away. Dean streaks along the back straight, already well in the lead and looking superb. Suddenly, as he comes off the fifth hurdle, he stumbles badly. He collapses onto the track, holding the back of his left thigh. He looks like he's in agony.

"His hamstring's gone!" Mike says, looking distraught.

He hurries away to the far side of the track where the St John's Ambulance guys are attending to his injured son. I'm devastated. I know how hard Dean's worked to reach the standard he has. He didn't deserve to have something like that happen.

As I turn towards Patrick, I see the questioning look in his eyes. Without saying a word, he's reminded me that I'm here to do a job. He's depending on me to help him run a decent time. I give him a little nod, just to let him know that despite Dean's misfortune, I won't let him down.

A few minutes later, Mike returns to the stand.

"Dean's in the ambulance," he says quietly. "I'm going to take him home so that we can get some ice on it. On Monday, we'll arrange for him to have a scan, so that we can see what the damage is, but I'm guessing that this is going to be it for the season."

Shortly after he disappears, Shaun lines up for the intermediate boy's eight hundred. He runs very well, finishing second and breaking two minutes for the first time. Considering that he's giving a year away, it's an excellent result. Of course, it doesn't make up for Dean getting injured, but it certainly lightens my mood.

As they're finishing, I spot Niall and Nathan sitting not far away from us. They're with Niall's dad. Leaving Dad to look after our stuff, Patrick and I stroll over to them.

"We've only just got here," Niall says. "We heard what happened with Dean. Man, that's a real shame, after all the work he's put in!"

"We saw it happen," Patrick tells them. "It looked painful! He couldn't walk without someone to hold onto."

"Ouch!" Nathan says, grimacing. "I don't even want to think about it."

"It's probably better if we don't," I advise. "We need to put it out of our minds and concentrate on what we need to do. What time are you on?"

"Four o'clock."

"That's half an hour after us. I'll ask Dad if we can stay and watch."


Just before three o'clock, Patrick and I begin our warm-up. With the weather being cool and a little overcast, we make sure we do it thoroughly. At twenty-five past, we gather on the track with the rest of the competitors. Timekeeper Olly Stephens comes striding across with the starters.

"The chief timekeeper has given me permission to call the lap times from here, as you asked for," he says, beaming. "I'll be able to call the first six laps from here. Then I'll have to go back to the timekeepers' stand to record the times at the finish."

"Thanks, Olly!" we acknowledge.

As we line up, I can see that there's nobody in the field that will be able to give Patrick a race. As soon as the gun sounds, I hit the front, with Patrick right behind me.

"Sixty-seven!" Olly calls as we complete the first lap.

I press on through our second lap.

"Two-fifteen!" Olly calls.

Hmmm! We've slowed down slightly. I'll really have to work now to maintain the pace. Otherwise we'll slip well behind Patrick's schedule. We go through twelve hundred metres.

"Three-twenty three!"

That's good; another sixty-eight second lap. One more and my job's done.

I dig in again, knowing that I won't be able to sustain this for much longer.

"Four thirty-two!" Olly calls as we complete our fourth lap.

Immediately, I move out, allowing Patrick to come through on the inside. He told me that I could drop out at this point, but I'm not going to. Now that I've completed my pace-making duties, I slow right down. As long as I don't fall apart completely, I should still be able to break nine minutes.

Completing my fifth lap, I hear Olly call "five-forty-six". That's a seventy-four second lap, which is very slow. What I have to do now is just concentrate and hang on.

"Seven-oh-two!" Olly calls as I go through six laps.

It's really hurting now, but there's not far to go. I need to relax, concentrate and dig in. It feels like I'm running so slowly. I can't understand why nobody's overtaken me, but they haven't.

One of the other timekeepers calls the time at the bell: seven minutes forty. To break nine minutes, I'll need to run the last lap in under eighty seconds. Giving it absolutely everything, I cross the finish line in eight minutes, fifty-six and fractions.

I am in bits! Patrick helps to scrape me off the track, guiding me slowly back to where we left our training pants and tops. It's nearly ten minutes before I've recovered sufficiently to contemplate doing a warm-down. That was hard!

Patrick ran eight minutes thirty-eight, a little slower than he was hoping for, but perfectly okay, considering that he really didn't have anyone to race. With our warm-down completed, we return to the stand just as the intermediate boys' fifteen hundred is about to start.

Of the boys that beat Niall and Nathan in the county schools' cross-country, one has opted for the three thousand, but Armstrong, the lad who won it, is doing the fifteen hundred. We're sure he's going to make it a hard-run race.

That's exactly what he does. After two laps, there are only three of them still in contention, Armstrong, Niall and Nathan. As the bell sounds for the start of the last lap, they're all still together. Nathan's the first to crack, losing contact as they head along the back straight.

Armstrong and Niall round the final bend, with Armstrong in the lead where he's been throughout, and Niall on his shoulder. With barely sixty yards to go, Niall moves out. Finding an extra gear, he forces his way past, winning by two or three yards. It was a magnificent performance! Nathan finished third and ran a personal best, but on the day, it just wasn't quite enough.

Shaun and Mr Taylor, Niall's dad, were watching with us.

"I don't remember you coming to watch Will run," I comment, smiling.

"Oh, he didn't want me to," Mr Taylor responds. "Will was happy enough to take part, but he never took it as seriously as you lads do. His one ambition while he was at school was to get into Cambridge to read theoretical physics, and that's exactly what he's doing. Obviously, we're delighted."

I'm pleased too. I hadn't known Will that well, but I knew he was a nice guy who performed well for the cross-country team. I hadn't realised he was quite so outstanding academically. I guess that, like David, he just got on with it. It's time to go home.

"Do you want a lift?" Dad asks, turning to Patrick.

"No thanks!" Patrick responds. "I only live five minutes' walk away. I'll see you in the morning."

Dad and I settle into the car for the journey back to Whitecroft.

"Dad," I begin. "I forgot to ask you last weekend. Before I went on holiday, Mum told me that the two of you were going to go to Birmingham Pride. Did you?"

"Absolutely!" Dad assures me. "We had a wonderful day. The parents' support group is superb. I wish I was able to take a more active part. As it was, it was great to meet them all. Afterwards, Noah's parents invited us to their place, along with Beth and Robbie. That was really nice. They're lovely people; so supportive. I'd say Noah and Robbie are as much in love as you and Scott are."

"Wow! I think it's great that you had such a good time! I wish I could have been there."

"Your presence was missed," Dad comments, smiling. "But you can't be in two places at once. And let me say one other thing. It took your mum a long time to come to terms with you being gay, but now that she has, she's your strongest supporter; be in no doubt about it."

"Thanks, Dad."

He's got me thinking. I don't think Scott knows any other gay people. He certainly doesn't know any who are, like, our age. I wonder if I ought to try to arrange for us to meet up with Robbie and Noah? Maybe we could start by going out for a meal together, to see how we get on.

"Dad," I ask. "You know you met Robbie and Noah? I was wondering if I should try to arrange for me and Scott to meet up with them. I thought maybe we could start by going out for a meal together or something."

"I think that's an excellent idea," Dad says. "I take it that Scott doesn't know many gay people."

"I'm not sure that he knows any, or at least not anyone who's out."

"That sounds about right."

"Cool! I'll chat to him about it."

It's half past seven when I get to Scott's flat.

"How did it go this afternoon?" he enquires as we stroll through to the lounge.

"It didn't start off too well," I tell him. "Dean was running the four hundred hurdles, winning it easily, when his hamstring went. His dad reckons he's likely to be out for the rest of the season."

"That's not good," he agrees. "It sounds like when he's building up for next season, he'll need to pay more attention to some aspects of his conditioning work. He won't want that happening again. What about you and Patrick?"

"Oh, that went okay. I led Patrick through four laps in four minutes 32, which is only two seconds slower than we said. He ran eight minutes 38, which isn't bad considering he had to run the rest of it on his own."

"You dropped out, didn't you?"

"No, actually I didn't feel too bad, so I carried on. My legs are pretty tired now though."

"Silly boy!" he says, grinning. "You were in there on pace-making duty, running quite a bit faster than you would have done otherwise. Once you'd completed your stint, you should have come out, like Patrick told you to."

"It wasn't that bad," I argue. "I broke nine minutes."

"Which you could have done far more easily if you'd run it at a more even pace."

"Yeah, I guess."

"Come into the bedroom," he suggests. "I'll give your legs a good rub-down."

"Thanks, but just before we do that, there's something I want to ask you."

"Carry on!"

"As you don't know many other gay guys, I wondered if you might be interested in meeting a couple that I know from the parents' support group that Mum and I go to. Noah's my age; Robbie's a year older. They're at college together. I thought maybe we could meet up with them before you start your pre-season training."

"We could, I guess. Where were you thinking of?"

"They both live in south Birmingham. I thought maybe we could go over there, and the four of us could go out for a meal together. It couldn't be anything expensive. I don't know about Noah, but I know Robbie doesn't have much money."

"You weren't thinking of inviting them to come here, then?"

"I couldn't do that when you haven't even met them!" I protest. "If we go out for a meal somewhere and we all get along well, I guess we could invite them to come here. But it'll be your call."

"I love the way you think things through," Scott whispers, nuzzling my ear. "That makes a lot of sense. I wouldn't have minded if you had invited them, but I'm pleased you didn't. What gave you the idea?"

"While we were away, most of the support group went to Birmingham Pride. I'd have gone, only I couldn't be in two places at once. But Mum and Dad went. Mum was very keen for Dad to go because he's never met any of them before. He was telling me about it as we were driving home. He said they had a really good day."

"Excellent! Your dad's a star; he really is!"

"Yeah, I know."

"Tell me about Robbie and Noah," Scott says, stroking my hair. "Didn't you tell me once that you thought Robbie was an air-head?"

"Probably! When I first met him, he was obsessed with the gay scene, gay celebrity gossip and all that shit. Well, he fucked up his first-year at college. He was told that if he wanted to continue, he'd have to repeat the year, and pay the tuition fees. He was devastated. For as far back as he can remember, it's been just him and his mum, so they're very close. They're not penniless, but I don't think there's too much money around. Robbie hated having to ask his Mum to pay for his screw-up. He went as far as getting himself a job over the summer holiday so he could pay for some of it. When he went back to college, Noah was in two of his classes. He's pretty quiet and sensible. Anyway, they clicked, I guess like we did. They've been together since."

"And as a result, Robbie saw the light and got his head down," Scott suggests.

"Yeah, pretty much. I'm really pleased for them. When I first met Robbie, I thought he was a decent kid, but he'd sort of lost his way. Noah's helped him get back on track."

"Well, we all need some of that from time to time," he says, licking my ear. "Come on, let's go and get your legs sorted out."

We stroll through to the bedroom. After Scott's spent fifteen minutes working on my legs, we make love. It's wonderful; gentle, affectionate but so intense! Afterwards, I'm, like, totally at peace: with myself, with Scott, and with everyone and everything around us. That's what's so special. I can't imagine anyone else being able to do that for me.

The following morning, our training run is quite low-key. With two wins, two seconds and a third, we had a good day yesterday, but the injury to Dean has definitely dampened the mood.

And that's not the only thing. Although Niall and Patrick won, the times they ran weren't what they were hoping for. If they want to run at the English Schools' Championships, they'll need to put that right at the inter-counties meeting on Saturday.

Having finished second, I could have run at the inter-counties meeting, but I told the county team manager that I wasn't available. The truth is that I didn't fancy it. Against guys of the standard that are going to be running, I'd get buried. With my school exams coming up the following week, and no prospect of being selected to run at the English Schools', it seemed pointless.

At half past ten, we head out for a gentle seven miles. With my legs still quite stiff from yesterday, that's more than enough for me.

After the other guys have gone home, I head upstairs for a shower and a change of clothes. As soon as I'm dressed, I call Robbie.

"Oooh!" he says. "I was hoping you'd call! How did the holiday go?"

"It was great, thanks!" I respond. "I should have called last Sunday, but we didn't get back till Saturday evening, and I had to get myself organised to go back to school. I understand that Birmingham Pride went well."

"Oh, we had a fantastic day!" he gushes. "It was a shame you couldn't be there! Noah and I totally love your dad! Your mum's sort of sharp and a bit feisty, like you, I guess, but he's so quiet and laid back, you know, like really supportive."

"Yeah," I agree. "I'm very lucky. Dad gets on with everyone, just about. He knows quite a few gay guys, like some of the designers he works for. One of his crew's gay too."

"Really? What's he like?"

"I've not actually met him. Jan's Dutch. He lives with his partner in Amsterdam."

"So, did you get up to anything exciting?"

"Well, it depends what you mean! We didn't get involved in any wild parties."

"Did you go to the bars at all?"

"No. We did spend time on a couple of gay beaches though. That was good! There was one not far from our apartment. We liked to go there in the evenings, before heading out to dinner. It was really secluded, and there were never many people there, so we could really be ourselves, yeah?"

"Sounds wonderful! Did you meet anyone else at all?"

"Yeah, there were these two English guys, a few years older than us. They saw me and Scott snogging naked, so they came over and started chatting to us. One of them was very good-looking; he had a great body. The problem was that he was totally up himself and really pushy. Anyway, he kept trying to get me away from Scott. Well, there was no way I was going for that! I knew what he wanted!"

"Oh, right! I guess you have to be careful."

"I'm afraid so! Actually, the reason I called it that once I've finished my end of year exams, Scott and I would like to come over to meet you and Noah. Maybe the four of us could go out for a meal together. The thing is, as far as he's aware, Scott doesn't know any other gay guys. I think it would really help for him to meet guys like you two."

"After all you've told us about him, we'd like to meet him too!" Robbie enthuses. "When were you thinking of?"

"Well, my exams are the week after next, so it needs to be after that. The following week would be good because Scott starts pre-season training at the beginning of July."

"That should be okay. We won't have much on either. I'd rather it wasn't a Saturday though. I work on Saturdays, so I'll be knackered and all the restaurants will be packed."

"How about the Tuesday evening?" I suggest.

"Yeah, that should be fine! Do you guys like curry?"

"I do; I'm not sure about Scott. I'll need to ask him. I think he probably will though."

"The thing is, this is the curry capital of Britain! There are some superb curry houses only a couple of miles from here, and they're not that expensive."

He's just reminded me that for him, and possibly for Noah too, cost will be a consideration. When Scott takes me out for a meal, it's not something I need to think about.

"I'll need to talk to Scott this afternoon and sort out a time?" I tell him. "I'll ring you back later, yeah? I've got to go; Mum's calling me for lunch!"

It's just before three when I arrive at Scott's place.

"I called Robbie earlier," I say, following him towards the lounge. "He said that he and Noah were very keen to meet you."

"Great! Did you talk about dates and times at all?"

"Yeah. Robbie works Saturdays, so midweek would work best for him. And the restaurants won't be as busy then. Are you into curry? Robbie says there are some great curry houses not far from where they live."

"Yeah, there will be. That area has a large Asian population, so the restaurants serve authentic Asian food."

"We pencilled in Tuesday 28th. I said I'd call him back when I'd spoken to you."

"That works for me," he says, smiling. "D'you want to call him now?"


After scrolling through my list of contacts, I make the call.

"Hi Robbie!" I greet as he picks up. "I'm at Scott's place. Tuesday 28th will be fine."

"That's good!" he says. "What sort of time?"

"Just a moment!"

"What time will we pick them up?" I ask, covering the phone and looking at Scott.

He gestures for me to hand him the phone. After turning it onto speaker so that I can listen in, I pass it over.

"Hi Robbie!" he says warmly. "This is Scott. If I pick Ian up at six, we can be over to yours by around seven, give or take. So if you book the restaurant for seven-thirty, that should give us plenty of time. I don't want us to be too late back. Ian will have school the next day."

"Sure, that's fine!"

"What about Noah? Will he come to yours or will we need to pick him up?"

"Oh, he can come here," Robbie says. "We pretty well live in each other's houses anyway."

"Just one other thing" Scott says. "Don't worry about the money. This will be my treat, yeah?"

"Well, that's very generous of you."

"I'm a very lucky boy. Compared with most guys my age, I get paid quite a lot of money for doing something I love. So why not share it around a bit?" He pauses for a moment. "You don't think I'm being flash, do you?"

"Not at all!" Robbie responds. "Ian wouldn't be your boyfriend if you were like that."

"Thanks!" Scott says warmly. "I appreciate that. I'm sure Ian does too. Okay, we'll see you on the twenty-eighth at seven o'clock. I'm looking forward to it!"

"Me too!" Robbie answers.

Scott returns the phone.

"Okay, Robbie!" I say. "I'll call you again soon. See you on the twenty-eighth!"

We end the call.

"Well, that was a nice compliment!" Scott says, smiling.

"Yeah. Like I said, Robbie's alright."

"How are the legs today?

"Better; still a little bit stiff."

"Come on! Let's give them a bit more attention. Then we can give each other some attention, yeah?"

"Sure!" Come on then!"

Back at school, I'm focusing on being fully prepared for my end of year exams. There's not much I need to do. Since Christmas, I've taken a big step forward. I'm on top of everything, even in maths. It's just a matter of, well, making sure.

It's Wednesday afternoon. Running this week has felt a bit odd. We couldn't do anything too demanding on Monday because it was too soon after Saturday's race. And with Patrick facing an even tougher race this Saturday, we couldn't overdo it this afternoon either. Before it's even three o'clock, Mr Saunders tells us we can get changed and go home.

Having spent three days just ticking over, not needing to push myself with either my studies or my running, I'm as horny as fuck. Hoping that Scott will be feeling the same way, after I've had a shower, I put on my black Umbro football shorts instead of underpants.

With my school uniform over the top, I stride out of school and head to the flat. Since we returned from Spain, Scott's been in great form, working super hard at his degree course as well as building up his fitness levels. With almost three weeks to go before the club starts pre-season training, he's itching to get going.

"You're early!" he says, welcoming me inside. "D'you want a drink?"

"Please!" I respond.

On a warm afternoon, a cold drink is always welcome, but right now it's not what I really want. I guess Scott can tell.

"Are you ready to go to the bedroom?" he asks, giving me a knowing look.


We make our way through. After taking off our footwear, we begin to undress each other. Having undone my tie, Scott unbuttons my shirt, before easing it off my shoulders. I respond by helping him take off his polo shirt.

With us both naked from the waist up, Scott moved onto my trousers, undoing the clip on the waistband and carefully pulling down the zip. As they fall open, he notices the shorts.

"Well!" he says quietly. "It looks as though you're as horny as I am!"

"Yeah!" I repeat, breathlessly.

"Come on then!" he urges, helping to pull my school trousers over my feet.

Without waiting to be asked, I help him off with the tennis shorts he's wearing. They've got sewn-in briefs, and so they're all he's got on. Within just a few seconds, I'm up close and personal with his beautiful cock.

He kneels on the floor in front of me, running his hands up the backs of my thighs.

"You're a very horny boy!" he breathes, licking the flimsy polyester that's hiding my dick.

"Oh, yes sir!" I agree, calling him 'sir' without even thinking about it.

"And what do you want?" he demands.

"Sir, I want you to give me a good fucking!"

"Turn round, then!" he orders, "and bend over the bed!"

I do as I'm told. Moments later, he's got his hand up the leg of my shorts, his index finger working K-Y into my bum-hole.

"You really want this, don't you, Haskell?"

"Oh, yes sir!"

He gets to his feet.

"Sir," I go on. "I'm a naughty boy, aren't I? I need my bottom smacked!"

He spanks me sharply across the buttocks.

"Harder!" I gasp.

He gives me a much harder smack.

"Oh, sir!" I beg. "I want your cock!"

Moments later, it's up inside my shorts, homing in on my rosebud. Instinctively, I relax my sphincter muscle, allowing him to fully penetrate me with a single, swift movement. After a brief pause, he begins to fuck.

He doesn't hold back, not that I'd have wanted him to. I asked him for a good seeing-to, and that's exactly what he's giving me.

"You love this, don't you Haskell?" he insists. "Having my big cock fucking your cute little arse!"

"Oh yes, sir!"

The intensity builds so rapidly, I scarcely know where I am. Almost before I know it, my balls start to churn.

"Oh, sir! Sir!" I whimper. "I'm going to cum!"

My cock jerks uncontrollably. With my teen spunk soaking the front of my shorts, my starfish goes into spasm around Scott's thrusting cock.

"Oh, you sexy boy, Haskell!" he growls, his creamy semen spurting over and over into my bum.

Wow! That was exactly what I wanted, and he gave it to me in spades!

After my customary visit to the bathroom, I stroll back to Scott's room, where he's lying on the bed, waiting for me. I snuggle up next to him. Without either of us saying anything, we're back to being gentle and affectionate, like we usually are.

"Well!" Scott says, stroking my face. "That took things somewhere different! What gave you the idea to call me 'sir'?"

"I don't know. I didn't even think about it. It just came out! You haven't called me by my surname before, either."

"I was just responding to you calling me 'sir'. Apparently, it used to be pretty much standard practice. When Dad was at grammar school, all the boys were known by surnames only. You wouldn't want us to do that all the time, would you?"

"Oh, no! It'd wear me out! In any case, it wouldn't be any fun if we did it all the time."

"That's okay then!" he says licking my nose. "So why today?"

"The last few days, I haven't had much to do. We've got our exams next week, but I'm pretty much on top of everything. It's just a matter of checking over stuff. We haven't been running very hard either. On Monday, we couldn't. It was too soon after Saturday's race. And we didn't run that hard today either, because Patrick's racing again on Saturday."

"So you had some energy and nervous tension that you needed to burn off. That's fair enough! On Saturday, are you going to watch?"

"I don't think so. If Dean had been running, I'd have gone with them. But as he's injured, Mr Taylor's taking Niall, Shaun and Patrick. He won't have room for me."

"Well, wish Patrick all the best from me, yeah?"

"Yeah! Thanks!"

It's Saturday evening when I get a call. It's Patrick.

"How did you get on?" I ask excitedly.

"I finished third," he tells me. "I ran eight thirty-four, which should get me selected for the English Schools. It didn't feel that good though."

"Is the English Schools at Birmingham again?"

"No, it's up in Gateshead, just outside Newcastle, so we'll be away from Thursday morning till Sunday afternoon."

"Oh, right! How did Niall and Shaun get on?"

"Not bad! They both ran personal bests, which was good, but neither of them ran fast enough to get picked. I told them when we were coming home that they'll be much better prepared next year, when they've got a whole winter's cross-country behind them."

"That's true!" I agree.

Another week has passed, the week of our end of year exams. I don't think you could ever describe an exam week as uneventful, but I've kept everything as low-key as possible, just focusing on doing what I needed to do.

In between my exams, I've done some running to help me relax. We did a hard track session on Wednesday afternoon, but apart from that, it's been easy all the way.

The exams have gone well, or at least I think they have. I know that I've done better than I did at Christmas. We'll get our results on Monday. I know you can never be totally sure, but I'm pretty confident.

I'm pleased to say that my confidence was not misplaced. In maths, I scored 90% on the first paper and 83% on the second, and finished second in the class. More importantly, it's a certain A-grade, bordering on an A*. I've obtained a solid A-grade for history too, with an A* looking to be within reach. The work I've put in has definitely paid off.

With my examination piece taken into account, Mr Gault has graded my work in art & design as worth an A*. It's what I expected. Anything less would have been a big disappointment.

Most of my friends have done well too, Tim and Patrick in particular, with A* grades across the board. I'm delighted for them. Of course, there are guys who haven't done too well. There are the obvious ones, like Grant Bishop, who never does more than he has to. There are surprises too. Andrew Sherratt, who was one of my friends at primary school, hasn't done very well at all. But as he hasn't spoken to me since I acknowledged I was gay; I have no idea why. I still find it disappointing though.

There are surprises in the other direction too. Sophie Taylor, who used to hang out with Amanda Lees, seems to be doing much better now that Amanda's no longer here. I think that's good.

An even bigger surprise is Smudger. During our first two years at the school, he always did very poorly. His work was so untidy it was almost unreadable. He did get better, but he was never a star student.

Well now he is. For A-level, he's doing maths, physics and chemistry, and he's aced them all. In maths, he scored 84% overall, just a few marks below what I got. Considering that he was never in the top maths group, that's amazing!

Although we're not close friends, I've always liked Smudger. Back when Zav was picking on me for being gay, he was one of the guys who helped me out. He seems to be a bit of a contradiction. Although he's pretty rough around the edges, he lives in a really posh area in what I'm told is a pretty amazing house, and his dad drives a top of the range Mercedes. I meet him as I'm coming out of lunch.

"Hey, man!" I greet. "You've done well!"

"Yeah, thanks," he says, grinning. "It suits me, being able to concentrate on the stuff I'm really into. When I go to uni, I want to do metallurgy. It's sort of what we do."

"Sorry," I say, "What you do? I don't understand."

"My dad and his brother run a salvage yard. We're scrap metal dealers. I've always been fascinated by the different metals and what they're used for."

Suddenly it all makes sense. Scrap metal is a pretty rough business, but they obviously do very well out of it.

"Oh, right!"

"Carter told me I ought to think about applying to Cambridge, but I'm not sure about that. Actually, Birmingham seems to be as good as anywhere."

"Patrick's applying to Cambridge," I tell him.

"Imagine that!" he says, laughing. "Me and Patrick at Cambridge together! That'd really bring the tone down!"

I have to laugh with him. As well as he's done, he still refuses to take himself too seriously. I wish I could be a bit more like that.

It's Tuesday afternoon. As soon as school is finished for the day, I head straight to Scott's place. With our exams finished and the pressure off, I'm horny; not super-horny, but horny enough. This evening, we're going out to dinner with Robbie and Noah, which means we won't have time for sex later on. The only time we'll have is now.

Scott welcomes me inside. As he closes the door behind me, I draw him into a passionate kiss.

"Hmmm!" he purrs. "I see somebody's eager today!"

We head directly to the bedroom and spend the next hour making love. Although not as energetic as it sometimes is, it's everything I need it to be. After having a shower, I feel invigorated, ready for the evening ahead.

Scott has a shower too. As it's going to be a warm evening, he dresses in a snugly fitting pair of Armani jeans and a Lacoste polo shirt. They really show off his physique. I think he looks a million dollars, but then, I would think that. I'd probably say the same if he was wearing a sack.

As soon as we're dressed, we head back to my place. Quickly changing out of my school uniform I put on my cream-coloured cargo shorts and a black and white Nike tee-shirt. I've had these shorts for years. They're a bit small on me now, but I like that!

As it's only twenty to six, I begin to put everything out for Mum to cook dinner. She'll be on her own this evening, but I'm sure she'll manage without me for once. I'm just finishing when she comes bustling in.

"Hi, Mum!" I greet, giving her a hug and a kiss. "I've left everything ready for you."

"Well, enjoy your evening!" she says brightly. "Give my love to Robbie and Noah, and to Beth, of course."

"Sure!" I respond.

A couple of minutes later, we're on our way to Birmingham. Having punched Robbie's postcode into the Satnav, all we have to do it follow it. By five to seven we're very close.

"When we get there," I say. "You'll need to park up. Robbie's asked us to go inside for a couple of minutes. His Mum wants to meet you."

Scott glances across at me, raising an eyebrow.

"There's nothing to worry about," I assure him. "Beth's really nice. She did a great job in helping Mum to accept me being gay."

A couple of minutes later, we turn into the road and quickly find somewhere to stop. As soon as Scott's parked the car, we stroll the short distance to the house. I ring the bell. A few seconds later, Robbie opens the door, does a double-take, and welcomes us inside.

"Hi Robbie!" I say brightly. "This is Scott!"

"Hi Robbie!" Scott follows up, giving him a hug. "Great to meet you!"

We stroll into the lounge. Beth and Noah are already on their feet.

"Good evening, Mrs Goodwin!" Scott says, turning on the charm, just as he did with Mum. "Lovely to meet you!"

"Lovely to meet you, too," Beth responds. "I'd like to say that we've heard so much about you, but, of course, we haven't. It must be a very tricky situation for you."

"It's not ideal," Scott agrees. "I think it's probably harder for Ian than it is for me, but he handles it very well. We've told people that we can trust not to repeat it. That's about it."

"Well, I wish you the best of luck!" Beth says warmly.

"You must be Noah!" Scott says, stepping towards Robbie's boyfriend and giving him a hug. "Great to meet you!"

"He's my saviour," Robbie chips in. "Isn't he, Mum?"

"You two have been very good for each other," Beth says diplomatically.

"Right! Are we ready?" Scott asks. "We won't be late," he adds, turning back to Beth. "Ian's got school in the morning."

Making our way out, we head back to the car. As usual, I sit in the front next to Scott; Robbie and Noah sit behind us.

"Have you got the postcode of the restaurant?" Scott asks, turning to Robbie.

Having typed it in, we're on our way, heading towards the city centre. After driving through suburbs that I'd guess were largely built in the 1930s, we come into an older area. It's like a patchwork quilt. While a few properties look a bit run-down, most have obviously been well refurbished, the names on the business premises marking it out as a stronghold of the Asian community. It looks as though the whole area is being revitalised.

"You can park anywhere here," Robbie advises. "We can walk the last bit."

Selecting a suitable parking space, Scott brings the car to a stop.

As we stroll a hundred yards to the restaurant, I notice that Robbie and Noah are nicely dressed too, with Robbie's choice of clothes a little more 'out there' than the rest of us. From the outside, the restaurant looks good. As we step inside, it's even more impressive, the Indian-style décor much more subtle than it is in many places.

We're shown to our table. As it's still early, the place is fairly quiet, with just a few other customers dotted around. We immediately begin to chat, exchanging our experiences of discovering that we were gay, dealing with friends, parents, school and bullying. Having been to the parents' support group, I'm used to this, but to Scott, it's all new. It's one of the reasons we're here.

It seems that we've all had quite different journeys. At one extreme is Robbie, who knew he was gay while he was still at Junior School. From the day he started at secondary school, he never made any secret of the fact. This might have gone badly, but Robbie's a pretty feisty character, not at all shy about standing up for himself and giving as good as he got. With support from his mum, the school and a good group of friends, he got through it pretty well, quickly reaching the point where the potential bullies left him alone.

Noah, by contrast, had a far more difficult time. Quiet, studious and a late bloomer, he spent his first two years at his Roman Catholic secondary school knowing nothing about sex. However, when he was in Year Nine, he realised that he was attracted to boys. Unfortunately, some of his classmates picked up on it, and he was bullied unmercifully, even being punched and kicked.

Noah's parents complained, first to his form teacher and then to his Head of Year, both of whom promised to look into it, but the bullying continued. Dissatisfied, Noah's father, a nominal rather than a practising Catholic, took matters further. Eventually, he got to meet the Chair of Governors, one of the parish priests, who told him that as homosexuality was contrary to church teaching, the school could not be seen to be supporting a pupil 'who was openly gay'.

As a result, Noah was immediately taken out of school. After a short period of home tuition, at the start of Year Ten he moved to an ordinary state school a few miles away where they have a zero-tolerance policy on bullying.

Hearing Noah's story in detail for the first time, I realise how lucky I was. Being picked on by Zav was pretty unpleasant, but at least our school didn't give him a free pass to carry on. What happened to Noah was just wrong!

In between all this, we eat. It's excellent! The waiting staff are attentive but not intrusive. If we call them, they're right on it, and the food is delicious! I don't think Robbie could have found anywhere better. Just before nine o'clock, we've finished.

"I've got this," Scott says, smiling.

After calling the waiter, he settles the bill. Saying goodnight and thank you to the staff, we make our way out into the warm, midsummer evening. Getting into the car, we head back towards Robbie's house.

"Thanks for treating us to such a wonderful evening," Robbie says.

"Not at all," Scott says. "Thank you for introducing us to somewhere as good as that. This evening's been a real eye-opener. As you've probably gathered, I've had a rather sheltered upbringing." He pauses for a moment. "Sometime in the next few weeks," he continues, "we'd like to invite you to my place. We'll call you and fix up a date."

"Oh, that'd be great!" Robbie enthuses, he and Noah smiling warmly.

We drop them back at Robbie's place. Noah's going to be stopping over. Apparently, he does that quite often. I'm pleased for them. Beth was right; they're perfect for each other.

"Well, that was an education!" Scott says angrily as we drive away. "Nobody should have to put up with what Noah went through. It's only by hearing it from the horse's mouth that you realise the sort of shit that goes on. And as for that Chair of Governors, what a fucking arsehole! I'm beginning to understand just how much further we still have to go."

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