Juggling the Pieces

by Pink Panther

Chapter 38

June 2012

On Saturday afternoon, the drive down to London brings home to me just how much my life is about to change. Even though I'm not moving permanently just yet, I find it quite scary. In reality, nothing will ever be the same again.

The main reason for me coming to London at this stage is to be Scott's support network. In particular, I need to be there for him when he comes back from training, to give him lots of TLC. While he's settling-in, that's going to be very important. Actually, I'm really looking forward to that aspect. I like to think that I'm pretty good at it.

One problem is that Scott will go out at quarter past eight in the morning, and won't get back until around half past two. For at least the first few weeks, I won't have that much to do. I'd like to be able to make a start on designing the new flat, but before I can do that, we'll need to spend at least an hour there in order to take accurate measurements. I mentioned it to Scott, but for the moment, he wants to wait until he's sure that everything's going to go through.

One thing that I have planned to do is to go for an easy run every morning. I'll probably only do five or six miles, but as well as passing the time, it'll help me to become familiar with the area.

I can also start to research what furniture and so on we'll need to buy. And although I can't actually design the place yet, I can decide what sort of kitchen and bathrooms we want, and whether to go for fitted wardrobes in the bedrooms. Overall, I guess I will have quite a bit to think about.

July 2012

Sunday is a wonderfully relaxing day. After a leisurely breakfast, we head to the supermarket to buy all the stuff we didn't bring with us. With that job out of the way, Scott drives us to Epping Forest for a pub lunch. The journey takes just over half an hour. I've never been here before, but wow! I totally love it! It's a shame it's not a bit closer. It'd be an amazing place to run.

Returning to the flat, we have glorious, passionate sex. I sense that it's exactly what we both needed.

"Are you ready for tomorrow now?" I ask.

"As ready as I'm going to be," Scott answers, smiling and licking my nose.


It's Monday morning, quarter past eight. Scott's just left. Before he went, I gave him a big sloppy kiss. I'm not nervous exactly, but I know this is an important day for him. I guess it's rather like your first day at a new school.

After finishing my breakfast, I settle down with my laptop to start looking at fitted kitchens. For Scott's current flat, Bill bought the kitchen units and appliances from one of the DIY stores. He then fitted everything.

However, it seems that if we want a real top-quality kitchen, which we clearly will, we'll have to buy it through an approved supplier, who will also design and fit it. I'm not happy. Not only will that will make it seriously expensive, I don't want someone else involved in the design. Unfortunately, if we want quality, I'm not sure there's any way around it.

After a couple of hours, it's time to take a break. After stripping down to my teeshirt and running shorts, I make sure I've got my keys and head out into the sunshine.

I start by running north. After passing Oakwood Station, I cross the main road and turn into Trent Park. Having spent around fifteen minutes running around the perimeter, I cross another main road and head west to the far end of Monken Hadley Common. Finally, I turn south-east, run back along the common, through Cockfosters and return to Southgate. It's been an interesting experience. The roads are far busier than I'm used to, but after all, this is London. I'm sure I'll get used to it.

Back at the flat, I have a warm, relaxing shower before dressing in my burgundy coloured tangas, the pale grey cargo shorts that I bought for our recent holiday, and a red and white hooped polo. I check myself out. Dressed like this, I look as sexy as fuck, and not a day over fourteen. Let's just say that I'm expecting Scott to be pretty hyped-up when he gets back. I want to make sure I'm ready for him.

By this time, I'm getting hungry. Scott will be having lunch at the training ground, just as he did at his old club, so I make myself cheese on toast. After munching my way through it, I have a slice of the apple pie we bought at the supermarket, and a generous portion of ice cream.

It's half past one. I could go back to working on my laptop, but I just don't feel like it. I guess it's the sense of anticipation. I'm expecting Scott to be back in around an hour. I can hardly wait to find out how things have gone. Until I have, I simply won't be able to concentrate.

Parking myself on the sofa, I turn on the telly and try to find something worth watching. After channel-hopping for a while, I eventually settle on Countdown , on Channel 4. At least it keeps my brain occupied.

When we reach the second commercial break, I check the time. It's gone half past two and there's no sign of Scott. It's frustrating, but there's nothing I can do about it. 'Half past two' was only ever a guesstimate.

The programme resumes and I get back into it. Suddenly, I hear the door open. I'm off the sofa like somebody stuffed a rocket up my arse. A moment later, Scott appears.

"Well? " I demand eagerly. "How did it go?"

"It's been amazing!" he says quietly, putting his arms around me. "If I needed something to convince me that I made the right choice, today was it."

Guiding me back onto the sofa, he picks up the remote, killing the telly.

"I could tell you that everything's gone up a level compared with what I'm used to," he says, looking right into my eyes, "but that wouldn't do it justice. Everything is several levels higher than I've experienced before. The training pitches and the indoor facilities are fantastic. The place only opened eighteen months ago, so everything's still really new, and it's all state of the art. Even the food they serve in the players' dining room is superb. But the most important thing is that the people are just incredible. The boss and the coaching staff are all totally on the ball. Already, they've pointed out things that I need to work on; only small, technical points, but getting them right can make a big difference. And, of course, I'm working with much better players. We've got some top professionals that I know I can learn from. The good thing is that they want me to succeed. The atmosphere is inspirational. Seriously, this is the opportunity I've always dreamed of."

"Wow!" I whisper, grinning from ear to ear. "I thought you'd be pretty excited when you came back. It seems like things went even better than you hoped."

"Totally!" he agrees. "Of course, it's a huge challenge. But I know that as long as I work hard and stay healthy, I'm up to it."

He snuggles in closer, reaching across to run his hand up inside the leg of my shorts. In response, I place my hand on the front of his jeans. He's as hard as a rock.

"Oh, fuck!" he breathes. "You are so sexy! There's nobody on the planet who can turn me on the way that you do!"

As he leans across, I turn towards him, our lips meeting in a passionate kiss. After half a minute, he gently pulls away.

"Oooooh! " he says, growling like the big, bad wolf. "I know what you need!"

There's no more to be said. I allow him to guide me to the bedroom. As we begin to undress each other, he's already in total charge. I simply respond to whatever he wants. I know that might sound abusive. Well, I guess it could be, but it isn't. By giving Scott what he wants, I'm getting exactly what I want, and I'm loving every second of it.

I pretty much knew he'd be hyped-up when he came back. I was not wrong! Although the routine is familiar enough, today he's totally going for it, like everything has a little more 'edge' to it.

After twenty minutes of the wildest foreplay imaginable, I'm lying face-down with Scott fully inside me, reaming me, pounding into me, his heart thumping against my back, his musky aroma flooding my nostrils, and his beautiful cock working magic on my prostate. It simply doesn't get any better.

After just a few minutes, my orgasm sweeps over me like a tidal wave.

"Ohhhh! " I gasp. "Oh fuck! I'm going to cum!"

A moment later, I'm thrashing around uncontrollably, my teen spunk spurting all over the towel that I placed beneath me.

"Oh, you sexy boy!" Scott rasps. "Now take what I've got for you! Take it all!"

"Oh yes!" I urge. "Fill me up!"

He does not disappoint, but there again, he never does.


When I return from the bathroom, Scott's lying under the covers, looking totally at peace. As I appear, he throws them back, allowing me to crawl in next to him.

"Come here!" he says, gently drawing me to him. "So what have you been up to today? Sorry, I forgot to ask."

"Oh, I started looking at the sort of kitchen we'll want for the new flat. Then I went for a run; only five or six miles, nothing too strenuous."

"You're amazing!" he says, delicately stroking my cheek, his eyes locked on mine. "I still don't think you realise how important you are in all of this. Imagine what it would have been like for me if I didn't have you here when I came home. I'd have been crawling up the walls! And I couldn't have even considered buying that flat if I didn't have you to help me."

"You're very welcome!" I say, licking his nose.

"Yeah, I know, but it's still important. Actually, I've got something to tell you. Before the Premier League starts, we're going on a US tour. All the first-team squad will be going, which includes me, of course. We're flying out on July 21, which is a Saturday, and coming back on August 1, which is a Wednesday. It's twelve days altogether. I assume you'll go home while I'm out there?"

"Yeah, I might as well. There won't be anything to stay here for. Before you go, d'you think we could get into the flat again for about an hour, so we can take detailed measurements? Then I can work on the design while you're away."

"Sure! As long as there aren't any glitches, that should be fine."

"Cool!"

After spending the rest of the afternoon snuggled up in bed, we get up and cook our evening meal. After eating, we chill out on the sofa, watching the telly and listening to music. By half past ten, we' re in bed.


It's Wednesday afternoon. The last couple of days have followed a similar pattern to Monday. Having decided on the kitchen – it 's going to be bloody expensive, but we'll only do this once – I 've moved on to looking at bathrooms.

Although we're going for an ultra-modern look, I know to avoid suites with a flat-bottomed washbasin. Bill warned me about them when we did the live-work unit. They don't drain properly.

As well as looking at suites, my eye's been caught by some hand-crafted bathroom fittings which are made at a studio in Camden. Of course, they're also very expensive, but they're so stylish; I totally love them! As Camden's quite easy to get to from here, at the very least, I'm going to visit the place to have a look.

Yesterday, I did the same run that I did on Monday. This morning, I did it the other way round. The problem is that unless I run considerably further, which I really don't want to do at the moment, Trent Park and Monken Hadley Common are the only places that enable me to get off the streets.

Right now, Scott and I are in bed, enjoying a delightful post-fuck snuggle. I'm expecting us to get up shortly and cook a meal, just as we have for the last two nights.

"Okay, " Scott says, like out of nowhere. "It's time we weren't here. Go and have a quick freshen-up. Then put some nice clothes on. We're going out."

Twenty minutes later, we're on our way. After walking the short distance to the tube station, we take the Piccadilly Line straight through to Leicester Square, just as we did when we were here to view the flats. Once again, we head towards Soho.

"Are we going to Ronnie Scott's again?" I ask.

"Close," Scott answers. "This place is a little less formal, and a whole lot less expensive. You do like pizza, don't you?"

"Yes, of course!"

"Good, because that's all they serve."

He leads the way to Pizza Express Jazz Club on Dean Street, near Soho Square. We order our food. Although not exceptional, my pizza is very nice. As we're eating, I take a look around. The crowd is noticeably younger than it was in Ronnie Scott's. Although we're still among the youngest, we don't stand out to the extent that we did there.

At half past eight, the band make their way onto the stage. I'm impressed. Playing music that's bright and quite easy for me to follow, much like Franny's band, they perform with great enthusiasm.

The gig ends just before half past ten. Scott immediately ushers me outside to where a minicab is waiting for us.

"Won 't the tube still be running?" I query.

"I don't like using public transport as late as this," Scott tells me. "I know it's only a short walk from the station to the flat, but I'd rather be safe rather than sorry. After all, we can afford it."

Well, I'm not going to object.


The following afternoon, it's almost three o'clock when Scott comes breezing into the flat.

"Hi babe! " he says, smiling. "Sorry I' m late. I 've been busy. Tomorrow, have an overnight bag packed ready for when I get back. We're going on a little trip. We'll need to leave here by ten past three."

"Where are we going?"

"It's a surprise!"

I 'm not going to argue. There is somewhere that I'd like to go this weekend, but it's almost three hundred miles away. Is that what he's planning? I guess I'll have to wait and see.


It's Friday. My overnight bag's packed as instructed. Scott sorted his out before he left this morning, so basically, we're all ready to go. When he gets back from training, it's quarter to three.

"Hi babe! " he greets. " We 've got plenty of time; any chance of a cup of tea?"

"Sure! You still haven't told me where we're going."

"You'll find out soon enough!" he answers, grinning mischievously.

Just before ten past three, we head out to the tube station. As I expected, we take the train towards central London. We reach Caledonian Road.

"We need the next stop," Scott says as the train pulls out again.

Okay, that's Kings Cross St. Pancras, which is also what I expected. Leaving the tube, we make our way to Kings Cross main line station. After Scott's presented our tickets, we pass through the barrier, make our way to platform 6 and board the train bound for Aberdeen.

Well, I guess that could be where we're going, but I'm pretty sure it isn't. Crucially, the train stops at Newcastle, just a couple of miles from Gateshead Stadium. Scott guides me into the first-class compartment and locates our reserved seats.

"We 're going to the English Schools' Championships," I announce, sitting down opposite him.

"Correct! I thought you'd probably work it out."

"Why didn't you tell me earlier?"

"Until yesterday morning, I didn't know that we were going to have tomorrow off. Then I had to wait until we'd finished training to see if I could get tickets. Once I'd got that sorted out, I had to book a hotel and buy tickets for the train. That's why I was late back. So here we are!"

"Thanks! I didn't think we'd be able to go. I'm really looking forward to watching the guys perform."

"Me too! I loved it two years ago when I went with David. I'm afraid we've only got one night though. We're back in on Sunday."

"Oh, right!"

He leans across. "Just don't expect me to be too energetic tomorrow night!" he whispers.


The journey is fast and extremely comfortable, and the service in first-class, which I haven't experienced before, is excellent. However, it's also quite tedious. After around forty minutes, we begin hurtling through mile after mile of unremittingly flat countryside. Until we reach our first stop in York, it barely changes. I hadn't realised that eastern England was like that.

We arrive in Newcastle at ten to seven. Leaving the train, we make our way out of the station to be greeted by a glorious summer evening.

"Our first priority is to get something to eat," Scott says.

He leads the way to a very stylish pub-restaurant just a short distance away. It seems that we have a table booked. As soon as we're seated, I begin to look though the menu. For me, it's perfect, with a range of appetising dishes to choose from.

I order the minestrone for a starter, to be followed by the slow-cooked belly pork, served with sautéed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Almost four hours after we left the flat, I' m ravenous !

I like this place. Despite the stylish décor, it's unpretentious, and the service is friendly and efficient. I'm rather surprised by the waiting staff, who all sound like the comedian Sarah Millican. It's the first time I've met people who talk like that.

The meal is delicious, exactly what I needed! Well before eight o'clock, I've finished both my soup and my main course.

"I guess you were ready for that," Scott says, grinning. "Are you having a dessert?"

"Please!"

While he orders the lemon cheesecake, I go for 'Death by Chocolate', which is actually just very rich chocolate mousse. I know there are lots of reasons for not eating things like that, but I don't care. I only eat them occasionally.

After we've had coffee, Scott pays the bill and we stroll back to the station before taking a cab to the hotel. It's part of a chain, and very modern, with a strong corporate feel about it. It's very nice, but has no individuality at all.

Scott has booked us a double room. As we check in, the clerk scrutinises my driving licence, eyeing it suspiciously. Of course, it tells him that I'm old enough to be sharing a bed with Scott. Even though he clearly doesn't believe it, he returns the licence with a bland smile, and wishes us a pleasant stay.

Taking the elevator to the third floor, we head to our room. Once inside, I pull off my shoes and flop down on the bed, pulling out my phone.

"Who are you calling?" Scott asks.

"Dean. I want to find out how he and the other guys got on."

"Cool!"

Finding him on speed-dial, I make the call. On the second ring, Dean picks up.

"Hi man! " I say excitedly. "How have you got on today?"

"Okay, " he says nonchalantly. "On paper, it's between me and Williams again, but we've still got to execute. That's the thing about the 400-hurdles; there's so much that can go wrong."

"What about the other guys?"

"Good! Niall and Shaun have both made their finals. Patrick's 3000 is a straight final, of course. Niall's got a tough job on. There's a lad in their 1500 who's run low three-fifties, actually slightly faster than Patrick. I think Niall will do okay, but I can't see him winning it. Shaun's 800 seems to be more open."

"Right! Well, I've got a surprise for you. We're here!"

"Seriously? I thought you were down in London, helping Scott settle into his pre-season training."

"Yeah, I am! But he's got tomorrow off, so this afternoon, we came up on the train. We're staying at a hotel not far from the stadium. He's paying for it all, of course!"

"Nice one! We'll see you tomorrow then?"

"Sure! Please don't say anything to Niall and Shaun. They don't know about me and Scott."

"Yeah, I understand. I'll tell Patrick though. Knowing that you guys are here will give him a real lift."

"Cool! Okay, I'd better let you go!"

We end the call.

"That all sounded very positive," Scott says, snuggling up next to me and massaging my thigh.

"Very much so!" I assure him.


I 've read stories about guys having sex in hotel bedrooms. This is the first time I've actually experienced it. The big difference is that the stories have been mainly about casual hook-ups, or guys cheating on their wives, and were usually set in places considerably less salubrious than this one. As far as I can remember, none of them was about people like us.

As it goes, we keep things fairly low-key. Scott's had a long, demanding day, and I'm happy just to be here. More than that, we don't know how good the soundproofing is. We wouldn't want to find out that it's not very effective.


I open an eye to find myself with my head on Scott's chest, the morning sunshine streaming past the curtains.

"Morning, babe!" Scott coos, gently stroking my hair.

One of the benefits of staying on one of these business-class hotels is that you get a very comfortable bed. This is no exception. I've had an excellent night's sleep.

"Mmmmmm! " I purr, shaking myself awake. "What's the time?"

"Quarter to eight."

"Wow, we must have been tired! We were in bed before eleven."

"Yeah! Well, I know I was!"

By the time we get down to breakfast, it's half past eight. It's served buffet-style, and you can have as much as you want. We don't miss out. After cereals and fruit juice, we each have a large plate of bacon, egg, sausage, tomato, mushrooms and hash browns, and follow it with toast and coffee. Wow! That'll keep me going for a while!

Returning to our room, we clean our teeth and pack our bags before heading back to reception. As we're checking out, Scott arranges for us to leave our bags behind the desk, which will save taking them to the stadium with us. That's a real bonus!

With the stadium less than a mile away, we've got time to kill. Wandering into the hotel lounge, we spend 45 minutes drinking coffee. Finally, we make our way outside.

It's a beautiful morning, warm and sunny. I remember that last year Patrick complained about how windy it was. Right at the moment, there's hardly any breeze at all. It's perfect weather for running on the track.

The walk to the stadium takes around fifteen minutes. At five to eleven, we each buy a programme before making our way inside. Our seats are in the main stand, a little closer to the start of the home straight than they are to the finish. As they're quite high up, we've got an excellent view.

As we settle in, my first priority is to check when our guys will be racing. Patrick's 3000 metres is at quarter past twelve, shortly before the lunch break. As always, the 400-metre hurdles finals are immediately after the lunch break, with Dean's race being the last of them. Niall's 1500-metre final is then at ten to three, and Shaun's 800-metre race at five past four.

Taking out my phone, I call Dean.

"Hi, man! " I greet. "It's Ian. Everything okay?"

"Yeah, cool."

I tell him where we are.

"We 've got lots of time. Patrick and I will come over."

A couple of minutes later, we see them walking across the front of the stand. I hurry down the stairs to meet them, before leading the way back up to where Scott' s sitting.

"Hi, Dean! Hi Patrick!" he greets, shaking hands with each of them. "All set for today?"

"Pretty much," Patrick says quietly.

"Nice conditions! " I comment.

"Yeah," Patrick agrees. "Way better than last year."

"What's the plan?" Scott asks him.

"Sit in the pack for five laps; try to stay as relaxed as possible. After that, it'll depend how fast anyone else wants to make it, but once I do hit the front, I'll just run as hard as I can all the way to the line."

"Sounds sensible," Scott agrees.

"How did Williams run yesterday?" I ask, turning to Dean.

"He ran okay, but he didn't have much to beat. Neither of us did."

"Well, best of luck!" Scott says warmly.

"We 'd better get back," Patrick says, smiling. "Thanks for coming!"

They return to where their team are sitting.

"Dean's a big guy these days," Scott comments.

"Yeah, I think he's six foot two."

"And he's put lots of muscle on. Back when I first encountered him, he was a total beanpole. I've got a good feeling about him today."

"Me too."

"I 'm not so sure about Patrick though," he cautions. "I think he'll do well, but I'm not sure he's got the turn of speed to actually win it."


For just over an hour, the track is taken up with semi-finals of the sprint events. As we have no interest in anyone taking part, it's all rather boring. Finally, the time rolls around to quarter past twelve, and the competitors in the senior boys' 3000 metres are called onto the track.

It's strange. Two years ago, the first track final was the intermediate boys' 3000m, in which Patrick was running. This time, it's the senior boys' race, and here he is again.

I take out my stopwatch. The eleven runners are called to the start line, over on the far side of the track. The gun sounds and they're away. The early pace is strong but sensible, with nobody trying anything extravagant. Patrick's doing exactly what he said he'd do, sitting in the pack and staying out of trouble. As the laps tick by, the leading group is gradually whittled down. With 2000 metres behind them, there are only six guys left in contention, of whom Patrick is one.

I think back to the intermediate boys' event two years ago. That race was dominated by a lad called Bell from Durham. Unable to spot him, I check the programme. He's not even running. I've no idea what that's about. Gavin Shaughnessy is though, easily recognisable in his Lancashire kit of pale blue vest and red shorts.

As they head around the curve, Patrick goes to the front, picking up the pace. Even I'm surprised. With two and a half laps still to run, that's early, even for him. He must be feeling good! Immediately, the leading group is reduced to four.

A slight doubt creeps into my mind that he could have got it wrong. I dismiss it instantly. Patrick's judgement of when to begin his finishing effort is impeccable. That just isn't the sort of mistake that he'd make.

For a little over three hundred metres, the four leaders stay together, but inevitably the brutal pace that Patrick's setting begins to take its toll. As they run along the back straight, another one loses contact. That leaves Patrick, Gavin and a lad called Davies from Berkshire.

Approaching the bell, they drop Gavin as well. They start their last lap. Patrick's now in a straight fight with Davies. He doesn't weaken for a second; running magnificently, giving it everything. Davies, however, is running right in his slipstream, hanging on as though he's been glued there.

They round the final bend still locked together. Coming onto the final straight, Davies moves up onto Patrick's shoulder. As they run past where we're sitting, he begins to force his way to the front. Patrick battles all the way to the line, but it's not to be. Unfortunately, Scott was right. He loses by less than half a second.

What a race that was! Possibly because I know Patrick so well, I'm really not disappointed. That's the best I've ever seen him run. There was nothing else he could have done.

"That was superb!" Scott says. "Remember that two years ago, he got left for dead at the end. That didn't happen this time. The guy who won it had to fight right until he crossed the line. D'you know what time he ran?"

"Eight twenty-five and bits," I tell him. "I can't be more exact because we're not on the line. But it's definitely a personal best."

"You can't ask for any more than that," Scott responds.


The presentation for Patrick's race takes place immediately before the lunch break. Straight afterwards, he trots up the steps to where Scott and I are sitting. As he approaches, we stand up.

"Well done!" Scott says warmly, drawing him into a man-hug. "That was an amazing performance!"

"Thanks!" Patrick acknowledges. " I 'd have liked to win, but if we're being realistic, I don't think I could have run any better."

"I was surprised by how early you went," I comment.

"We were dawdling, man!" he exclaims. "We went through five laps in 5:49. We ran faster than that in the county championships! I needed to go, otherwise I'd have got buried!"

"Oh, right!" I respond, somewhat taken aback. "I hadn't realised that it had slowed down so much."

"Yeah! Well, off that pace, I ran the last kilometre in 2:36. I'm well happy with that! The problem was that Davies wasn't going anywhere. I just couldn't get rid of him."

"I expected to see Bell running," I say.

"From what Gavin told me, he's developed other interests," Patrick responds.

"Meaning?"

"You know! Apparently, he' s quite popular. "

"Stuff that!" Scott says, grinning.

"Yeah!" Patrick agrees. "There's no way I'd have a girlfriend who didn't support what I want to do."

"I understand Niall's got a tough job on," I suggest, changing the subject.

"Yeah," Patrick agrees. "The guy from Merseyside has run a couple of tenths faster than I have. And there's another lad in there who's run a couple of seconds quicker than Niall has."

"It sounds like it could be a difficult race to run in."

"Maybe," Patrick concedes. "It'll depend how it' s run. Niall 's pretty bright. He's not going to get sucked into a pace that's too quick for him."


By the end of the lunch break, the track has been set out for the 400-metre hurdles finals. Having seen it several times, I'm familiar with this routine. With the hurdles at their lowest setting, they run the two girls' races. After the second of these, the track stewards go around raising the hurdles by three inches to 2' 9 " for the intermediate boys' race. Finally, they take the hurdles up another notch for the senior boys.

As the eight competitors are led out onto the track. I spot Williams immediately, unmistakable in his black London Schools' kit. As expected, he and Dean have the two favoured lanes in the middle of the track, but compared to two years ago, they're the opposite way around, with Dean in lane 4 and Williams in lane 5.

After setting up their starting blocks, they strip off their tracksuits and line up. The starter calls them to their marks. As soon as they're settled, he gives the ' set ' command. After a long pause, the gun sounds and they're away.

From where we're sitting, we can't see them properly until they reach the back straight. Williams and Dean have already established a lead, the two of them rising together, well clear of anyone else.

Having said that, the contrast between them is even more obvious than it was when I saw them before. While Dean takes the hurdles almost effortlessly, Williams is having to muscle his way over them.

As they come onto the home straight, they're still together, but Williams is clearly beginning to struggle. Over the last two hurdles, Dean completely destroys him, running through for a comfortable win. I am ecstatic!

"Yes!" I shout excitedly, Scott and I clasping hands.

"That was a victory for longer legs and superior technique," Scott says quietly.

"You told me two years ago that you thought that might happen," I remind him.

"Sure! Dean was always going to be favoured by the higher hurdles."

Dean's time of 52.38 seconds is a personal best and yet another school record. How special is that?


Less than an hour later, it's Niall' s turn. I 'm nervous about this one, unsure how Niall will handle racing someone who's clearly better than he is. As soon as the race begins, the Merseyside competitor hits the front, tracked by a lad wearing the orange vest and black shorts of the Hertfordshire team. As they pass where we're sitting, Niall is in the middle of the field, looking relaxed.

The leader completes his first lap in around 62 seconds, with Niall a second or so behind. Seeming confident that he can run the distance faster than anyone else, the guy from Merseyside presses on relentlessly, going through 800 metres in 2:04, with only the Hertfordshire lad for company. Behind them, a gap is opening up, with Niall well-placed within the second group.

With the two leaders reaching the bell in 2:51, the lad from Merseyside simply takes off. Running the last lap in an outstanding 58 seconds, he sets a new Championship Best Performance, winning by more than four seconds.

Behind the Hertfordshire lad, Niall and four other boys turn into the home straight almost together, battling for the minor places. Timing his run to perfection, Niall strikes for home, taking third place, and setting another personal best time, just outside 3:56.

"That was a very intelligent piece of running," Scott says approvingly. "In that field, that was the absolute best he could have done. Knowing his brother, it doesn't surprise me. "


Shortly after four o'clock, the runners come out for the final of the intermediate boys' 800 metres in which Shaun will be running. In the other races that our guys have been involved in, I've had a fair idea how they might go. This time, I really have no idea.

In 'proper' athletics meetings, the first bend of the 800 metres is run in lanes. For this race, Shaun has been drawn in Lane 3. As the clock ticks around to five past, they're called to their marks. The gun sounds and away they go.

Reaching the back straight, the runners break for the inside. With the whole field tightly bunched together, there's lots of jostling for position. It's just as well that Shaun's a big lad; I'd hate it!

Rounding the top bend, they enter the home straight for the first time. As they run past us, nothing's changed. As a result, I have no more idea who's going to win than I had when they started.

Reaching the bell in a little over 55 seconds, they head into their second lap. As they run along the back straight, a couple of guys try to attack, but aren't able to do anything decisive. As they round the final bend, all eight runners are still in contention.

It's only as they enter the finishing straight that a lad from Hertfordshire makes the decisive break, to be chased home by two boys in identical blue and white kit. While the first three have got away, the other five remain very close. Being so far from the finishing line, we're not sure where Shaun's finished.

After a couple of minutes, they announce the result. Shaun managed fifth place, running a little outside 1:56, around the same as the personal best he set at the schools' inter-counties meeting. The runners from fourth place to eighth were covered by just four tenths of a second. That's tight!

"I detected a lack of experience in Shaun's performance," Scott says thoughtfully. "Taking that into account, he's done very well. I don't think he's scratched the surface of what he's capable of."


With the time coming up to six o'clock, our train pulls out of Newcastle Station.

"Thanks for organising all this," I say quietly. "I really enjoyed it, especially as our guys did so well."

"Me too!" Scott responds, smiling.

"You didn't have to do it," I go on. "You could have decided to have a day at home, just chilling out before you have to go back to training."

"Oh, don't worry about me!" Scott says, giving me his most disarming smile. " I ' m fine! It's not like we've got a match coming up. Our first friendly isn't till a week on Wednesday. Once the season starts, it will get more difficult. You know that. For the moment, I'm still eligible for the England under-21s, so I'm likely to get more call-ups there, and you know what that means. So, when we get opportunities to do stuff together, we need to take them."

"Sure! " I say, feeling like I'm floating on a big fluffy cloud.

I 'm so lucky to have found someone like Scott. When we first got together, I was concerned that as time went on, he'd try to make it all about him. But he hasn't. As far as he's concerned, we're equal partners. He supports me in just the same way that I try to support him. Like, wow!


It's Friday morning. I'm on the train heading for home. This evening, Aidy and I are going to the gig at the Birmingham School of Music where Franny's band will be playing.

Over the past few days, I've done lots more research on stuff that we'll need for the new flat. I've pretty well finished that now. Towards the end of next week, Scott and I are going to go back and take detailed measurements. Then I'll be able to work out what's going to go where.


Arriving home, my first task is to make myself some lunch. Afterwards, I chill out for a while. This is going to be a long day. Finally, I get showered and changed. It's a warm July day, and according to the forecast, the temperature won't drop much this evening. After dressing in jeans and a polo, I head back to the city centre.

From the bus station, I make my way to Anthony's house. It's five past four; he's just got back from school.

"Great to see you, man!" he greets, drawing me into a hug. "What have you been up to?"

Over the next few minutes, I give him the full run-down, beginning with the holiday.

"That's amazing!" he says grinning. "I guess that's what comes with being the SO (significant other) of a Premier League footballer."

"Yeah. It's not that glamorous, but it is a big change."

"So, what was it you wanted to ask me about?"

"If possible, I'd like to buy one of your oil paintings to hang in the new flat."

"Oh, right! Well, there aren't many to choose from. Up to yet, I've only done five. They're in my room."

We make our way upstairs to where the paintings have been placed in a storage rack. There are two from Antibes and three local scenes. They're all outstanding. After looking through a couple of times, I finally settle on one of the local ones.

"I 'd like this one, if that's alright," I say. "How much do you want for it?"

"I ' ve no idea, " he responds absently. "I hadn't thought about selling it."

"I was thinking of around three hundred pounds."

"Are you mad?" he demands. "There's no way it's worth that much!"

"Of course it is!" I argue. "It's quite a big canvas, and it's a superb piece of work. Paintings as good as this often make way more."

"Are you sure?"

"Definitely!"

"Okay then," he agrees. "But I'm going to give you this one as a 'going-away' present, " he adds, pulling out the one he did two years ago, when we were on holiday together.

"Wow! Thanks, man! Are you sure that's okay?"

"Sure! I'll need two as part of my A-level submission, but Fat Man reckons that any of these will get an A* grade."

"Cool!"

I 'm almost in tears. The painting of the waterfront at Antibes brings back so many memories. I can't believe he's just given it to me.

"When will you want them?" Anthony asks.

"Early September, all being well."

"Oh, that's loads of time!"

"Yeah, I guess. Before I collect them, I'll arrange to have them framed. Are you going back to Antibes this year?"

"Of course!" he says, grinning. "I wouldn't miss it, man! It's like my spiritual home! We're off a week on Monday."


Just after five, I make my way into the city centre, straight to KFC for chicken and fries. As soon as I've finished, I head to the station where Aidy's waiting for me.

"That's good timing," he says, smiling. " I 've just got here. I'm really looking forward to seeing Franny again."

I look him up and down. He's wearing a blue and white hooped polo shirt and his skinny denim shorts. With thighs like he's got, they look . . . interesting. I guess that's the point. We stroll through the ticket barrier and onto the platform. The train's due in five minutes.

We arrive at the School of Music just before seven. After using the little boys' room, we make our way into the hall. Once we've settled into our our seats, I send Franny a text to let him know we're here. A couple of minutes later, he appears, spots where we're sitting, and comes to join us.

"Hi! " Aidy gushes, flashing his lights like Blackpool Illuminations. "Great to see you again!"

"Oh, thanks for coming!" Franny responds, a noticeable gleam in his eye.

"So, you guys are closing the first half?" I suggest.

"Yeah, we're playing this Chick Corea tune . It's the first time we've played it in public, so wish us luck! Then right at the end, four of us – everyone except Ryan – will be playing in the big band."

"Is that because Ryan doesn't study here?" I ask.

"Yeah, but to be honest, he doesn't want to anyway. The guitarist in the big band only plays rhythm. Ryan doesn't like having to do that. Right! I'd better get back. We'll be starting in a few minutes."

"We 'll see you at the interval!" Aidy says, smiling lovingly.

He could hardly make it more obvious. I've no idea what's going to happen; probably nothing. But during the interval, I'll leave them some space. Then, if anything does materialise, it'll be nothing to do with me.

The first half follows the same format as the concert that Scott and I attended twelve months ago. A band consisting largely of preteens is followed by one made up of slightly older kids. Then, after the stage is reset, it's time for the Josh Banham Band.

"Good evening, everybody!" Josh says confidently. "This evening, we're going to play a tune by one of my heroes. This is Trance Dance by Chick Corea."

After an introduction, which Josh plays on electric piano, they launch into the tune. I'm no musician, but even I can hear the Latin influence. More than that, they're playing with far more style and confidence than the two preceding bands.

Josh then takes the first solo, stretching it out far more than he does when playing at Newton Valley. Finally, after a short bridge passage played by the whole band, he hands over to Franny. Playing at much greater length than I've heard from him before, Franny totally nails it. I glance across. Aidy is completely enraptured!

After another bridge passage, it' s Ryan 's turn. As Scott recognised when we heard him at Newton Valley, Ryan's playing has a touch of magic that sets him apart. I can't explain it, but I certainly know it's there. I could listen to him all night.

As Ryan's solo ends, they launch into another ensemble passage. Despite it being quite complicated, they play it perfectly. One more chorus of the tune brings the performance to an end. The audience applauds enthusiastically. Quite right too! It was worth coming just to hear that one tune!

As the musicians leave the stage, some of the audience leave the hall to get a drink or use the loo; others mill around, waiting to talk to the musicians. After a couple of minutes, Franny reappears. As Aidy makes a beeline for him, I stroll across to talk to Josh.

"Hi! " I greet. "Well done! I thought you guys were superb!"

"Thanks!" Josh answers, smiling. "We really enjoyed it. You' re Franny 's cousin, aren't you?"

"Yeah, that's right!"

"He 's been a big asset. We've tried a couple of sax players before, but they were older, and thought they ought to be in charge, yeah? Is your boyfriend not with you tonight?"

"No. He 's at home. Scott plays for Greswall United now, so he lives in north London."

"Oh yeah, Tommy mentioned something about that. He couldn't make it tonight either. Tommy was very impressed when he met Scott. Tommy's passionate about football. Meeting somebody at that level who's actually gay meant a lot, you know?"

"Sure! "

"So are you and Scott going to be living together?"

"That's the plan. As long as my A-levels go okay, I'll be starting at University College London in October."

"Cool! I wish you the very best of luck, and thanks for coming this evening!"

"Thanks! It's been great to talk to you. I'd better leave you to it!"

Moving away, I look around. Aidy and Franny are nowhere to be seen. Well, it's not really a surprise. As I return to my seat, there's an announcement to say that the concert will resume in five minutes.

Shortly afterwards, Aidy emerges from the backstage area. He comes back to join me, looking like the cat that swallowed the cream. I'd love to ask him what he's been doing, but this is not the time. It can wait!

The second half opens with a band of older teens under the direction of one of the tutors. While they're all good players, they don't have the togetherness of the Josh Banham Band. They don't have a soloist of Ryan's class either.

Finally, it's the big band. By contrast, they seem better than I remember from last year, more solid and dynamic. I think the key to that is that Josh, bass player Damian and drummer Greg play together, like, all the time. They finish with a rousing rendition of a tune called The Chicken . It's a great way to end the show!

Much as we'd like to wait around and chat, we need to get home. Making our way back to New Street Station, we board the train. I'm pleased to find that it's pretty quiet. Aidy and I sit next to each other, with nobody in the seats opposite.

"Did you and Franny have a nice time?" I whisper.

"Totally!" he responds, grinning from ear to ear.

"So where did you go?"

"I 'm not sure exactly; down in the basement somewhere. It was pretty dark."

"So what did you do?"

"We sucked each other. Then he fucked me. He's got a beautiful big cock, about the same size as Jon's. It was amazing!"

"That was a bit risky, surely? If you'd got caught, the shit would have been right in the fan!"

"It wasn't going to happen. If anyone was going to find us, we'd have heard them coming down the stairs." He pauses for a moment. "Have you done stuff with Franny?" He pauses again. "You have, haven't you?"

"Promise you're not going to tell anyone?" I insist.

"Sure! "

As the train begins its journey, I tell him the story.

"Scott almost broke up with me over it," I conclude.

"Ooops! " he says, grinning at me. "That wouldn't have been good! I don't understand though. When Jon and I came to the flat, he was happy enough for the four of us to do stuff together."

"The first problem was that I lied about it. The second one was the Franny was underage, which does have certain risks attached to it. With Scott being in such a vulnerable position, he doesn't want me taking that sort of chance."

"But he was okay with you having that threesome with me and Jake?"

"Sure, but that was different. I was with guys he's met and regards as friends; everyone was of legal age, I didn't let anyone fuck me, and I told him about it afterwards. As long as I do that, he doesn't have a problem with it."

"Oh, right!"

After nearly an hour, we arrive at our station. As arranged, Mr Cooper is waiting to take us home. As soon as we've settled ourselves in his people carrier, we head towards Whitecroft.

"So how did it go?" he asks, in his usual friendly, supportive manner.

Over the next few minutes, Aidy and I enthuse about the concert. Of course, we don't mention the interval. I've no idea what he'd think if he knew what Aidy and Franny had been up to.

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