Juggling the Pieces

by Pink Panther

Chapter 49

December 2012

It's Wednesday afternoon. For our final cross-country race of the term, we're in Trent Park, not far from the rented flat where Scott and I used to live. It's a cool day, with very little breeze and a hint of dampness in the air; the conditions as good for running as you're likely to get at this time of year.

With a mixture of grassland, scrub and woodland paths, the course is pleasantly varied, and although the hills are not severe, it's definitely not flat. The ground is mainly firm, with only a few muddy stretches.

Today, we'll be running three laps, each of just under two miles. Although I've been careful not to say anything, I'm feeling as confident as I ever have. I've been going well in training, and after running around here extensively when we were living in the area, the place feels familiar and welcoming in a way that the previous courses haven' t.

At three o'clock, we line up, the gun sounds and we're on our way. Without going mad, I start more aggressively than I have in our previous races. To be honest, I'm loving just being out here. With all the shit that's been going on, it feels liberating.

At the end of the first lap, I'm just outside the top forty and going well. Now this is where the work starts. On every climb, I gain a couple of places. On each descent, I pick up a few more. I'm the most focused I've been since running at the English Schools.

With half a mile left, our usual fourth-scorer is three places and maybe twenty yards ahead. Forget about how tired I am; he's my target. Relentlessly, I reel in the two intervening runners before passing my teammate less than a hundred yards from the finish. After striding through the finishing funnel, I collect my disc, which bears the number 19. I'm elated. It's the best race I've ever run.

I head across to our team manager and hand him my disc. Team captain Stuart, who finished eighth, is there too, putting on his training pants.

"You've had a superb run!" he congratulates. "Well done!"

"Thanks!" I respond, the adrenaline still pumping.

"Did you maybe have a point to prove?" he asks quietly.

"Not really," I respond honestly. "After all the crap I've had to deal with, it was great to get out here, forget about everything else and just run."

"I like it!" he says, smiling warmly. "That's a great attitude!"

"For a few weeks back in the summer, Scott and I were living about half a mile away," I explain. "I used to run here all the time. I guess I got to know it pretty well. Today it felt like home territory."

"Well, you certainly made the most of it!" Stuart tells me, still smiling.

As an added bonus, we've won the team race again. Travelling home on the Piccadilly Line, I keep replaying the race in my head, still not quite able to work out where today's performance came from.

I get home at half past four.

"How did it go?" Scott asks, welcoming me back into the flat.

"Pretty well. I finished nineteenth."

"That' s excellent! " he enthuses. "After everything you've had to deal with, I thought you might not go so well today. That shows how little I know!"

"Actually, it was sort of weird. It was like it was my opportunity to put all that to one side, and just get out there and run. And that's what I did. It helped that the race was at Trent Park. When we were living in the rented flat, I used to run there all the time."

"I guess that makes sense. So how are you feeling now?"

"Knackered! I've never run as hard as that, not even at the English Schools."

"Did you have a shower afterwards?"

"Yeah, but only a quick one to get the mud off."

"It sounds like you need some serious TLC," he says quietly, gently drawing me to him. " We'll start off in the shower." He pauses for a moment. " Don 't worry," he adds, grinning mischievously. "It won't be one of those showers! I'm talking about lots of shower gel and a full body massage. Then once you're dry, we can continue it on the bed."

"Sounds good to me!" I agree.

It's not just good; it's amazing! Although he's not a trained masseur, Scott knows exactly what he's doing. With us standing under the warm running water, he begins by massaging my neck and shoulders. Gradually, he works his way downwards until he's carefully massaging my feet.

After sensuously drying us both, he gently leads me back to our room, lays me down on the bed, and patiently repeats the entire process, this time using slightly aromatic baby oil. It's wonderful! He's made me feel so much better!

Finally, we make love. Scott is so gentle and affectionate, which right now is exactly what I need. Being totally in-tune with each other is what makes our relationship so special. I can't imagine anyone else responding as instinctively as Scott just did.

Of course, that's a two-way street. When the occasion arises, I get a massive buzz out of giving Scott exactly what he needs. I think that's how partnerships ought to work!

It's ten to eight when Scott and I arrive at the Students' Union. We make our way to the main common room, where the LGBTQ group social is being held. I spot Christian as soon as we step inside, and lead Scott over.

"Hi! " I say brightly. "This is Scott, my boyfriend!"

"Delighted to meet you!" Christian responds. " I've seen you on the telly, of course. I think the way you handled the situation you were put in was superb! It can't have been easy."

"Thanks," Scott acknowledges. " I've been very fortunate. While I was growing up, my dad used to talk to me about how important it was to be able to deal with the media. We used to watch interviews together, and he'd comment on the guys who did it well, and on the ones that didn't. So, when I had to start giving interviews, I had a pretty good idea what to do."

A small crowd has gathered. It seems that for a number of people in the room, we're the centre of attention. I'd half expected that this might happen.

"Hey guys, let's make ourselves comfortable!" Duncan Frazer suggests.

After putting two coffee tables together, we pull up some chairs, a group of around ten of us sitting around them. I'm positioned with Scott on my left, Duncan on my right. I look around. Of course, Quentin's not sitting with us, but almost directly opposite me is the slim, fair-haired lad that was with him at the last social. That strikes me as odd. Leaning back a little, I scan the whole room. Quentin is nowhere to be seen.

"Quentin doesn't seem to be here this evening," I whisper, turning to Duncan.

"Following the incident that I recorded," he says quietly, "he was told in no uncertain terms that his presence here would not be welcome. His membership of the group has been suspended, and he was informed that if he did turn up tonight, we'd call security to remove him."

"Wow! You are taking it seriously!"

"Quite right! I've been waiting for an opportunity for us to get rid of that bastard! When he presents me with one, I'm not going to waste it. Next term, we'll hold a disciplinary hearing with a view to expelling him permanently."

"Really? What will happen then?"

"Well, assuming we do expel him, we'll inform the Student's Union and the University. I don't think he's done anything egregious enough for them to kick him out, but quite enough for them to give him a written warning about his future conduct. What I want is to stop him using this group to target young lads who are not quite as streetwise as you were!"

"Yeah, that's great!"

"Of course, when someone like Quentin finally gets called out for his behaviour, it's amazing the way other people come out of the woodwork to complain about the same guy." He nods towards the slim fair-haired boy. "It seems Quentin had his claws well into Nick over there," he adds, almost in a whisper.

I nod but don't reply. If me getting called a rent-boy was the catalyst for Nick to escape from Quentin's clutches, it was more than worth it.

"Of course," Duncan continues, whispering right into my ear. "Quentin never stood any chance with you! Why would you even look at him, when you've got that waiting for you at home ?! "

I beam at him, trying desperately to stop myself giggling. He's totally nailed it! Regaining my composure, I turn my attention back to Scott, who's unselfconsciously fielding questions from all around the table.

I'm not surprised to find that most of the guys have little idea how you become a professional footballer, or what their lives are actually like.

"I believe you're now studying at Birkbeck," Christian says.

"Yes, that's right. After doing my A-levels, I spent two years studying with the Open University. Now we've moved here, I decided that actual face-to-face contact would work better for me. It's going well!"

"Do you actually need to do that?" Piers asks.

"Yes and no," Scott responds. "Where we live there are two independent grammar schools, and probably as a result of that, the state secondary schools aren't that good. My mum and dad sacrificed quite a bit to send me to one of the independent schools, so I feel I owe it to them not to waste it. The other reason is that I need a way to fill my time, and studying for a degree is as good as any."

"You must have been really angry when you heard about what Quentin said," Brandon suggests. "I would have been furious!"

"Yes, and I'm pleased to hear it's being dealt with," Scott says quietly. "I guess he said that on the assumption that Ian makes no financial contribution to our household. That's not actually true! Back in the summer, I bought a flat near Kings Cross for us to live in. The place hadn't been touched in the twenty-odd years since it was built, so it needed a complete refurb. Well, I was in pre-season training by then, so we brought in a builder from home, and during his summer holiday, Ian designed it all, project managed the work, and sourced all the furniture and stuff, for which I didn't pay him a penny. Since we moved in, I've had the place valued by two estate agents. The lower valuation would give me a profit of £140,000 before taxes and fees, and I haven't had to lift a finger. Now I don't know how other people calculate these things, but that sounds like a pretty substantial contribution to me."

"It's an amazing place!" Jody says, grinning.

"Jody and Zoran came over for dinner a few weeks ago," Scott explains.

"I bet having dinner wasn't all you got up to!" Piers suggests.

"Oh, you shouldn't let your imagination run away with you," Scott responds, smiling. "Jody and Zoran did stay the night in our guest room, but Ian and I didn't join them, and they didn't join us."

I'm fascinated by the way he said that. Without being the least bit unpleasant, he's warned Piers not to stray onto territory that's none of his business.

And so the conversation continues. While talking about matters of record, Scott's open and informative, such as explaining how he did his A-levels at college, put in a UCAS application in the Autumn before his exams, got an offer from LSE, and subsequently got the grades that would have enabled him to go there.

However, when people start asking about more private matters, or want him to speculate about the future, he gives a masterclass in being relaxed and friendly while saying virtually nothing. I love it!

At quarter to ten, Scott's phone bleeps. "Sorry!" he announces. "That'll be our cab. I've got to get up for training in the morning, so we'll have to go. Thanks for a really great evening! I look forward to seeing you all again next term!"

I spend the next couple of days making sure I've completed all my work and handed in my assignments before term officially ends. In a way, it's an odd feeling. While all the other guys on my course are off home to join their families for the next month, my home's here, so right now I'm going nowhere.

On Friday evening, I get a call from Franny.

"Hi, man! " he greets enthusiastically as I pick up.

"How did it go last night?" I ask.

"Oh, it was epic! It's easily the best we've ever played! Man, I wasn't expecting to see your dad there! That was so cool! I think he enjoyed it. He said he did!"

"Oh, definitely! He can do things like that now that he's working from home."

"Yeah, he was talking about that. He brought Aidy and Anthony with him. I haven't met Anthony before. He seems to be quite a character!"

"Oh, he's definitely that! Five years ago, he was my first boyfriend. He's a superb artist, and super-bright!"

"Is he another of Jake's friends?"

"Yeah, they live really close. Ant's helped Jake a lot."

"I can imagine! I can't believe Jake's two years older than me! So you and Aidy are coming next Tuesday?"

"Yeah! Dad might bring us. If not, we'll come on the train like we did before. I'm not sure about Anthony."

"Cool! We'll be playing two tunes you haven't heard before. It's going to be a blast, man!"

"Great! I'm looking forward to it!"

On Saturday afternoon, Scott has an away match in the north of England, which means an early start and a late return. In the end, it's a worthwhile trip, even though Scott does get barracked by some of the home fans, several of whom find themselves being ejected.

Fortunately, it just seems to make him play better. He produces another classy performance as Greswall win 2 – 1. Away from home, that's always a good result, and maintains their position near the top of the Premier League.

At the end of the match, at least half the home supporters applaud him off the pitch. For me, that's the best thing of all! It's hard to say, but it feels like it could be significant. It shows how much goodwill there is out there.

Scott arrives home just in time for us to watch Match of the Day . As we snuggle up on the sofa, once again, the pundits are full of praise for Scott's performance, 'especially given the pressure he must be feeling,' as one of them puts it.

As an added bonus, the opposing manager is quick to condemn the fans who'd started the barracking.

"We don't want that!" he snaps angrily. "It's totally against the values that this club stands for. And let me tell you right now that the people who were thrown out will not be allowed back. I take my hat off to the real fans who stayed behind to applaud at the end. I don't usually talk about players from other clubs, but what we're dealing with here is a very promising young player who, through no fault of his own, has been put in an extremely difficult position. From what I've seen, the way he's handled it has been outstanding."

Coming from an opponent, that's praise indeed.

It's Sunday morning. After an hour of blissful love-making, I get out of bed, have a quick wash, dress in my training kit and sit down to eat breakfast. At ten past ten, I head out of the door for the steady trot to Regents Park. The weather's cool and breezy, with flurries of light rain; hardly ideal conditions, but if you waited for perfect weather in this country, you'd never get anything done.

With term having finished, I know there won't be many of us. Arriving at our meeting point, I see four guys there getting ready to run. Unsurprisingly, they're all postgrads, including team captain Stuart Forbes and would-be star Alex Poulton.

"What's he doing here?" Alex demands, turning to Stuart.

"I told you he was coming," the team captain counters.

"Shouldn't you be back at home with mummy and daddy?" Alex asks me in a most patronising tone.

"No, " I respond calmly. "I live here."

"You mean your parents live in London?"

"No, but I do."

"Wait a minute! So that's who you are!" he declares, the penny having finally dropped. "It's a very strange business if you ask me!" he adds, turning back to Stuart.

"I wasn't aware that anyone was asking you," I say evenly.

Alex looks like he's about to explode, but Stuart quickly cuts him off.

"Okay guys!" he announces. "It's time to go!"

"Hmpphh! " Alex snorts, his entitled pettiness becoming more apparent by the second. "I thought we were actually going to be able to run at a decent pace for once!"

"We run at a decent pace every week," Stuart argues, "and today will be no different."

We set off on our usual circuit, heading north-west through Belsize Park towards Hampstead Heath. Alex tries to push the pace, but Stuart and the other guys are having none of it. Even so, it definitely isn' t slow.

After a little over forty minutes, we emerge from the northern side of the Heath onto Hampstead Lane. We've covered this first, mainly uphill section, around two minutes faster usual. In less than perfect conditions, that' s impressive!

"Are you heading back from here?" Stuart asks, smiling.

"Yeah!" I respond.

"Why's he cutting it short?" Alex demands. "If he can't handle the distance, why is he training with us!"

Stuart finally snaps. "Considering that Ian finished in the top twenty on Wednesday afternoon," he retorts, " I'd say he has a pretty good grip on what training he needs to do. Now shut the fuck up!"

Leaving them to it, I fly downhill into Kentish Town with an added spring in my step. Obnoxious, entitled Alex finally got put in his place! Yes !

As soon as I've had a shower, I slip on some casual clothes before joining Scott for a light lunch of barbecued chicken drumsticks with a mixed green salad. Afterwards, with the weather having deteriorated further, there's little incentive for us to go out.

Instead, we flop onto the sofa, at something of a loose end. Scott puts on a Youtube music video, but you can tell he's not that interested in it. After a few minutes, he glances across at me.

"D 'you fancy jumping in the shower?" he asks, grinning mischievously.

Now there's an offer I can't refuse! I know we had sex first thing this morning, and will probably do it again when we come back from dinner, but so what? If that's what he wants, I'm more than up for it!

Sauntering into our bedroom, we sensuously undress each other before heading into the en-suite and turning on the shower. Over the next half an hour, we both totally go for it, beginning with me making love to Scott's nipples and his other man-bits, and finishing twenty minutes later with him fucking me into near-oblivion.

It's not that we do anything we've not done before, but the intensity is at a whole other level. In a sense, it's part of our response to the arseholes who want to break us up and ruin Scott's career. They are not going to win!

It's early the following afternoon when I get back home. As expected, Dad's there to welcome me.

"Great to see you!" he says warmly, drawing me into a wonderful hug. "How have you been doing?"

"Okay, thanks," I say, smiling. "There are a few idiots out there, but most people have been really supportive. And Scott's been amazing!"

"That's good!" he says, still smiling.

"How was the gig last Thursday?"

"Oh, that was superb!" he enthuses. "It really was! I knew you said it would be good, but I hadn't expected the standard to be as high as that. Franny played very well, as I knew he would, but the blond lad on guitar was unbelievable, and Michelle is a star in the making, no question!"

"So it was worth going to, then?"

"Absolutely! I've told the other lads that I'll take you all to the School of Music tomorrow. I'm starting to realise how much I've been missing out on!"

"I understand you chatted with Franny?"

"Oh, yes! Irrepressible as always! Apparently, your Uncle Gavin was a bit miffed that all his kids knew you were gay and he didn't. But he's a big boy; he'll get over it!"

"Thanks, Dad!"

"Come through!" he urges. " I've got something to show you!"

I remember that he was going to convert our old playroom into a home office. What he's actually done is to divide the playroom into two, making just the right-hand half into an office.

He's then taken down the wall between the other half and the kitchen to create a really superb dining area, complete with a most impressive table. Of course, being Dad, he's done it all beautifully. The finish is superb!

"Wow!" I say, grinning. "You have been getting some practice in! This is amazing! Are you and Mum going to be having lots of people around for dinner?"

"If all goes to plan, there'll be eight of us on Christmas day," he responds, smiling. "The four of us, the Paxtons, and Damian."

"That sounds great!" I say. I pause, taking a deep breath. "You said there was something you wanted to discuss with me?"

"Yes, but it'll have to wait till Mum's back, okay?"

"Sure! "

It's just after seven when we finish dinner. I'm just about to begin clearing things away, when Mum intervenes.

"Just leave that for the moment," she says quietly. "There's something we need to tell you." She pauses for a moment, allowing me to sit back down again. "I regret to say," she continues, "that I've had a major falling out with your grandma."

I nod my understanding. In the circumstances, it's not a total surprise.

"When all this business came out, she called me to ask if it was true," Mum goes on. "I told her it was. Then she asked me how long I'd known you were 'like that', as she put it, so I told her. She demanded to know why I hadn't informed her at the time. I said that we wanted to deal with it within the family. She insisted that I should have told her straightaway. She then said she and your granddad would have taken you to live with them, and 'they'd have got you sorted out', whatever than means. I told her that there was no way we'd have agreed to that. She lost her mind! She started ranting that it was disgusting to bring up a boy to be 'like that', and that I'd completely failed as a parent. Well, I was pretty angry by this point, so I told her that I didn't see it that way, and that basically it was none of her business. I went on to say that until she apologises and promises to treat you with the respect you deserve, we'd be having no further contact with them."

"Mum! I'm so sorry you had to go through that!"

"Of course, the real reason I never told her is that I knew how she'd react. After living with her for twenty-three years, I know what she's like!"

Now that does come as a shock. I've always thought that Mum and Grandma got on really well. Only now it seems they didn't. I guess Mum and Dad just put up a front to keep the peace.

"So I guess we won't be going there on Christmas Day?" I suggest.

"I'd say that was a fairly safe bet," Mum says. She pauses for a moment. " I'm so glad that you and Claire pushed me into joining the parent's support group when you did. Looking back, it has to be one of the best things I've ever done. It's not that I was doubting myself, but when you're being attacked like that, it's really important to have people around to reassure you that you did the right thing. Well, as you might imagine, the other parents in the group have been totally supportive, especially Noah's dad. "

"Yeah!" I agree. " He's a great guy!"

"When I was growing up," Mum continues, "I worked out that my parents were stricter than most, but to be honest, it didn't bother me that much. I was keen to do well at school, and I was never a party animal, so it wasn't a problem. When it was time for me to apply for university, Mum wanted to me apply to Birmingham so that I could live at home, and I was happy enough to go along with it. But around the same time, I noticed how hard she was being on your Uncle Chris. It wasn't that he was getting into trouble or anything. He just wanted a bit more freedom than I had. Well, she didn't like that at all! She kept banning him from doing things he wanted to do, and for no good reason as far as I could see.

That was when I started to realise how controlling she is, and basically, that she doesn't want to hear any opinion that differs from hers. Chris is three years younger than me, so when it was time for him to apply to university, he was so desperate to get away from her, there was no way he was going to agree to live at home. I've never told anyone this, but behind her back, I encouraged him to get out and go somewhere else.

Well, despite her making things as difficult for him as possible, he got a place at Manchester where he did very well. We hardly saw him after that. Meanwhile, I graduated. Your dad and I had been going out for about a year by that point. He'd already finished his apprenticeship as a pattern maker, so as soon as I graduated, we got engaged. Of course, your grandma didn't like that either! She told us we were too young to be getting married and that we ought to wait at least another two years. Well, by that stage I'd had more than enough of her, so we didn't give her the choice, and went ahead anyway. It was one of the few times that your granddad actually stood up to her. He insisted that they were still going to pay for the wedding and he was going to walk me down the aisle, which he did. Then as soon as we'd saved enough money for the deposit on a house, we moved here. It wasn't just that we got more for our money, we wanted to create some distance.

Chris got engaged while he was still at university. Your grandma didn't like his fiancée at all! To be honest, I'm not sure if they'd have stayed around anyway, but that sealed the deal. Within a few months of graduating, they were married and off to New Zealand. The only time they've been back is when her dad passed away."

"Wow!" I say, shaking my head. "That's a lot to take in. I knew Grandma was very old-fashioned. I guess I hadn't realised how difficult she can be."

Sinking back in my chair, I reflect on how sad this situation is. Over the last two years, I'd started to build something of a rapport with Granddad. After what's just happened, I guess that will all go down the tubes. I also understand why Mum was so resistant to the idea of me being gay. It wasn't really the poisonous ideas she was fed while she was growing up. She saw this coming.

The following evening, I'm at the Birmingham School of Music, along with Dad, Anthony and Aidy, for their Christmas jazz concert. After two bands of younger kids have played, The Josh Banham Band have the task of closing the first set.

For their first tune, Tutu, they're joined by trumpeter Matt Stokes. I remember seeing him before, both here with the big band, and at Newton Valley, the first time Scott and I went there. I know he's a good player.

They begin by playing through the theme, which is slow, dark and brooding, with dramatic accents that sound almost angry. Matt then takes the first solo. From the moment he begins, I understand why they brought him in, the trumpet's plaintive sound telling the story of an oppressed people, struggling for their freedom and their dignity. He's captured it beautifully!

After more dark, atmospheric solos from Ryan on guitar and Franny on alto sax, they reprise the theme before bringing the tune to a dramatic conclusion. I am blown away! I've never heard them play anything like that! It was simply breath-taking!

"Let 's hear it for Matt Stokes on trumpet!" Josh calls, generating a generous round of applause.

As it dies down, Josh calls out again: "Ryan Clark on guitar, and Franny Redshaw on alto!"

Finally, the audience quietens down.

"Okay! " Josh announces. "This next one is by Stanley Clarke. It's called School Days! "

What follows is a joyous, foot-stomping celebration. After short but exuberant solos from Franny, Ryan and Josh, with the central riff playing behind them, Josh gets the audience clapping along as bass player Damian takes his turn in the spotlight. Finally, they bring the tune to a scintillating conclusion.

Wow! In complete contrast to the previous tune, that was so much fun! It was the perfect demonstration of how to play great music and have a total blast doing it! Everybody is on their feet applauding them. That was really special!

"They played that one last Thursday," Aidy informs me. "It went down a storm then too, but I think tonight it was even better!"

It's time for the interval. After a couple of minutes, Franny appears from backstage. He's obviously still buzzing.

"Wow!" I congratulate. "That was epic! The two tunes were so different!"

"Thanks, man!" he acknowledges. "That was a total blast! I loved just being part of it."

"Did you play that first tune at Newton Valley?

"No, the audience there wouldn't have got it. But this lot did!"

"I've never heard you play anything like that. It was really dramatic!"

"Oh, Matt was superb! The way he captured the mood was amazing! The tune was written for Miles Davis, so we really needed the trumpet in there."

Looking around, it seems that the whole audience is still buzzing! Of course, with Dad here, there's no chance of Aidy and Franny doing a disappearing act the way they did the last time we were here, but to be honest, I'm not sure they'd have done that anyway.

The second half is mainly devoted to the big band. They're very good, but they don't have the magic that Josh and his friends conjured up. By quarter past ten, it's all over. After saying our goodbyes, we make our way back to the car.

By Wednesday lunchtime, I'm back at the flat. Having been away for two days, I am super horny! After eating a light lunch, I change into my Greswall football kit and stretch out on the corner unit, turning on the TV to help the time go faster.

Scott appears just as Countdown is finishing.

"Is this an apparition I see before me?" he quips.

"No, it's really me!" I counter.

"You are so sexy!" he breathes, gently scooping me into his arms. "You really didn't need to do anything special to get me turned-on today. I've been as horny as fuck all the way home! But you did it anyway, sexy boy!"

"I just wanted you to know," I whisper.

"Oh, I know alright!" he growls quietly, running his hand over my polyester-covered erection. "Come on, babe! Let's do this!"

He ushers me into the bedroom, where I set about undressing him.

"I always loved seeing cute boys in their football kit," he confides quietly, "but none of them looked as good as you do!"

In little more than a minute, he's stark naked. Even after all this time, I can hardly believe how beautiful he is. I set to work on his nipples, sucking first one, then the other.

"Ooooh, babe! " he groans. "That is so good! Just amazing!"

Dropping onto my knees, I begin making love to his cock. I give it the full treatment, sucking it right down to the root before sweeping back up to work my tongue all over the shiny, bulbous head.

"Oooh! " he repeats, gently stroking my hair. "Babe, you must be the sexiest guy on the planet!"

I let him go, my eyes trained on his beautiful, glistening prong. After two days' abstinence, I need it inside me, like now! Picking up the dispenser, I smear Astroglide all over it.

I get to my feet. Turning to face the bed, I bend over, my feet apart, my hands resting on the duvet. Pulling my shorts to one side, Scott carefully works some lubricant into my bum. Moments later, his cock's up the leg of my shorts, homing in on my anal ring. He thrusts it in. Oh, yes!

"Go on, Scott!" I urge. "You know what I want!"

He doesn't just know; he delivers! Within seconds, he's fucking me like the world's about to end, the sensations quite indescribable.

"Ooooh! " I groan, my penis tingling like it's been plugged into the power socket. "Oh yeah! Ohhh! Ohhh!"

My orgasm hits me like an express train. As my starfish goes into spasm around Scott's thrusting cock, my penis jerks violently, rope after rope of hot teen spunk spurting into my shorts.

"Oooh, you sexy boy!" Scott breathes, pumping his creamy semen deep into my bum. "You needed that!" He chuckles. "I know I did!"

As always, the aftermath is a total contrast: gentle, affectionate, Scott and I totally at peace. I can't explain how or why, but it works for me!

It's the Saturday before Christmas. This afternoon, Greswall have a home match against the current Premier League leaders. This is the club that tried to sign Scott back in January; the same club whose manager made some snotty comments about Scott after he was outed.

Outwardly, Scott's treating it as 'just another football match', but I know that under the surface he's totally focused, first, on helping the team to do give a good account of themselves, and second, on showing the opposition what they missed.

As usual, Geoff's come down for it. The surprise is that Linda's come with him. Apparently, she hasn't seen Scott play since he was a kid. I'm guessing that was because of tension between her and Geoff, but I'm not going there! But today's different. With her boy having been under attack, she wants to be here.

Although he hasn't said much, I know Scott's thrilled. With school term having already finished, Geoff and Linda are going to stop over, so this evening, we'll be going out for a meal. I'm really looking forward to it.

We arrive at the ground at half past one, ninety minutes before kick-off. As we make our way towards the turnstiles, I do a double-take. It's Mum and Dad!

"What are you doing here?" I demand.

"We 've come to watch the match, just like you," Dad says quietly. "I asked Scott to get tickets for us."

"So are you staying over?"

"Yeah! I'm not going to get much done between now and New Year, so I thought we might as well. We're staying at The Premier Inn, on Haverstock Hill."

I know where that is. We run past it on our way to Hampstead Heath.

"So, are you coming to dinner with us?" I ask.

"That's the plan!" Dad admits, grinning.

"Why didn't you tell me?" I ask.

"We wanted to make it a surprise," Mum says, smiling gently. "Watch the football match, have dinner, spend the night in a nice hotel, then take a leisurely drive back tomorrow."

Wow! It's a surprise alright! I'm almost welling up. Having them both here is so special!

Making our way into the ground, we head towards our usual seats. As we approach, I see Mick and his mates, already in situ , in the row behind. Geoff and I introduce everyone. The guys are very pleased to see us! It's like sitting by the family of one of the players is a big thing for them.

"It should be a great game today!" Mick enthuses. "Not like the load of crap we had to sit through last time!"

I totally get that. Today's opponents always feature prominently on Match of the Day, so I've seen them several times. With very wealthy owners, they've brought in some outstanding players, and they like to attack, just as Greswall do.

As kick-off approaches, the ground is packed. The atmosphere is electric. As the teams take to the field, the roar is deafening. Right from the first whistle, both teams are going for it. It's exciting, end-to-end football.

After fifteen minutes, following a superb exhibition of skill and teamwork, Greswall's opponents score the first goal. It's a disappointment, but straight from the restart, the Greswall boys are right back at them, competing for everything. It's the most exciting match I've ever been to.

Ten minutes later, Scott receives the ball on the left wing, close to the halfway line. With the home fans roaring him on, he eludes his marker and goes blitzing along the touchline, taking the ball almost to the corner flag. With the defenders struggling to get back, he puts in a pin-point cross. Rising majestically, Jermaine powers it into the far bottom corner. The crowd goes nuts! There is no other way to describe it. Mick and his mates are ecstatic, hugging each other and hugging us. It's just unbelievable!

There's no let-up. It's punch and counter-punch, each side looking for a breakthrough. The quality on display is simply off the scale! Finally, with half-time just a few minutes away, the opposition produces another piece of magic to take the lead for the second time. As the whistle sounds for the end of the half, there's been no addition to the score. Although the Greswall fans are disappointed to be behind, they know that their team is still very much in the game.

The second half starts in exactly the same way. Five minutes in, Scott receives the ball out on the left, just inside the Greswall half. With his path blocked, he pings a fifty-yard diagonal ball, picking out right-back Thorbjorn Svenson on the far side of the pitch. With their opponents needing to regroup, Thorbjorn advances a few yards before crossing the ball to Jermaine, who's running through the middle. In a signature Greswall move, Jermaine nods it down to Kevin, who's ghosting in unmarked on the inside-left channel. Making no mistake, Kevin buries it. Once again, the crowd is in uproar. Game on!

With just over an hour played, the visitors conjure up another sublime move to take the lead for the third time. For a few minutes, the game goes quiet. Up to this point, the Greswall players have performed superbly, but do they have enough left to come back yet again?

Suddenly, Scott picks up the ball just outside the Greswall penalty box. He sets off on a mazy, mind-bending run, sprinting past one opponent and wrong-footing another. Once again, the home fans are in full voice, shouting him on. He's approaching the opponents' penalty area. As two defenders try to close him down, he slips the ball inside to Alvaro. With an immaculate touch, Alvaro plays the perfect return pass, which Scott blasts into the top right-hand corner of the goal.

As the home fans go wild, I am speechless. I can hardly believe what he just did. The run was fantastic, but I'd never have expected him to score like that! Considering that Scott's not a big guy, the power he generated was astonishing, not to mention the accuracy. The goalkeeper had no chance!

A few minutes later, he's taken off. It's pretty obvious that his legs are going; not surprising, considering everything he's done. Having provided the assist for Greswall 's first goal, started the move that led to the second, and scored the third, he's had an outstanding match.

For the remaining twenty-odd minutes, both sides try desperately to fashion another goal. With neither of them quite able to manage it, the game ends in a three-all draw. Wow! That was the most pulsating, scintillating match I've ever seen. Of course, I'm slightly disappointed that Greswall didn't win, but to be honest, a draw does seem like a fair result.

Leaving Mum and Dad to return to their hotel, Linda, Geoff and I head back to the flat.

"Well," Linda says, as we make our way inside, " I'm not sure that I'd want to do it on a regular basis, but I'm glad I went. At least now I've got a better understanding of what all the fuss is about."

"I hope you don't mind me asking," I say, "but how have the kids where you teach reacted to finding out that Scott's gay?"

"Oh, they've been great, haven't they Geoff? And it's thrown up some very useful teaching points, for me especially, you know, about the dangers of labels and stereotypes, that sort of thing. We've even had a few boys approach us about their own situation, either because they're trying to work out their own sexuality, or they wanted advice about how to talk to their parents."

"I did find myself a bit out of my comfort zone with that," Geoff admits. "I just tried to be as honest and supportive as I could." He pauses for a second. "The last two years have taught me a great deal. I've had to rethink lots of things, and I've been the better for it."

"Thanks!" I say, smiling. "I think it's time for a cup of tea!"

Afterwards, we spend half an hour or so getting showered and changed, ready to go out. We're just sitting around, idly chatting about this and that, when Scott returns. As we applaud him into the lounge, I trot over to him so we can give each other a hug.

"Hi guys!" he says, smiling warmly. "It looks like you're ready to go!"

"I think we are, more or less," his mum responds.

"That was an amazing match!" I intervene.

"Yeah," Scott agrees. "It's the best match I've ever played in, no question!"

"And you were fantastic! When you scored, the ball absolutely flew into the net!"

"Oh, I struck that one very sweetly," Scott concedes. "It was pure instinct. The ball was coming quite quickly, so I couldn't do anything fancy; I just had to hit it. Fortunately, I met it perfectly."

"You gave the goalie no chance!" I enthuse, grinning.

"True!" he agrees, smiling back. "There was no way he was stopping that one! Mind you, I was totally done by the time I came off!"

"You contributed to all three goals," Geoff reminds him. "That's outstanding!"

"Thanks, Dad!" Scott acknowledges.

"So, what's happening this evening?"

"I've booked a cab for seven," Scott tells him. " We 're eating in Hampstead again, so we'll pick up Ian's parents from their hotel, which is on the way. Afterwards, we'll all come back here, because I know Colin likes to watch Match of the Day, and it'll be great for us to watch it together. When it's over, I'll book a cab to take Colin and Judith back to their hotel."

Geoff looks like he's about to say something, maybe about 'the extravagance' of using cabs, but thinks better of it.

"Fair enough!" he responds.

The cab arrives just before seven. After picking up Mum and Dad from their hotel, we continue up the hill to Hampstead Village. With six of us, using a seven-seat people carrier really was the best way for us to do this journey.

As we step into the restaurant, the Maî tre d ' greets us quietly before leading us to a large table, a little away from everyone else. As always, the food is excellent, and tonight, the service is attentive and quietly efficient, nothing like the over-the-top treatment we were given the last time we were here. I lean across to Scott.

"This is a bit different!" I whisper.

"Yeah!" he confirms quietly. "When I booked it, I had a word with the boss. I explained that we were bringing our parents, and asked them to tone it down a bit. I know some people are into all that celebrity razzmatazz, but that really isn't us. This is much more like it!"

As the meal progresses, it occurs to me that there probably aren't many guys my age who'd want to spend Saturday evening going out with their parents. But I'm loving it! The feeling of togetherness, the sense that we're all looking out for each other; you just can't beat it.

At half past nine, the cab arrives to take us back to the flat. An hour later, while Mum and Linda are ensconced in the dining area, Dad, Geoff, Scott and I settle down in front of the TV to watch Match of the Day .

It's no surprise that Greswall's match is the first to be shown. Over the next fifteen minutes, we relive every one of the highlights, revisiting the highs and lows we experienced at the time.

For me, the thing that stands out is that there were no soft goals. With six of them in the game, you might think that the defending wasn't very good, but that really wasn't the case. Every goal resulted from a combination of skill, teamwork and composure. The defenders didn't do a great deal wrong.

After the highlights, there are brief comments from Scott, who was Man of the Match, and the two managers, who both say what a wonderful game it was. Finally, the pundits get to work, going into raptures about the level of skill and commitment, the fantastic entertainment value, and a great deal else.

Inevitably, Scott's performance receives the highest praise. His run and finish for Greswall's third goal brings out superlatives I didn't even know existed. Sitting next to me, Scott's simply letting it all wash over him. As he's explained to me before, that's gone. He now has to focus on their next game, up in Liverpool in only four days' time.

The programme ends just before midnight.

"What's happening tomorrow?" Dad enquires.

"If we'd played poorly," Scott says quietly, "Terry would have called us in for training. But after the performance we gave, there was no way he was going to do that. So, I'm pleased to say we've got tomorrow off."

"We'll be meeting for lunch then?"

"Yeah," Scott confirms. "Half past twelve. I gave you the details, didn' t I? "

"Sure! "

A few minutes later, the cab arrives to take Mum and Dad back to their hotel. As I prepare for bed, I reflect on what an amazing day it's been, and how lucky I am to have been part of it.

When I get up the next morning, my first job is to send a text to Stuart to let him know I won't be training, and that I'll be in touch after Christmas.

"So you're not training this morning?" Scott queries.

"Oh, I'll still run," I explain. "Just not with them. I wouldn't get back till twenty to twelve. We're going to need to leave before that. I'll go out about ten, and do a brisk seven miles. That'll give us plenty of time!"

It's the right decision. At half past twelve, we meet at the pub in Epping Forest. Our parents haven't been there before, and they love it! Once again, it's a thoroughly enjoyable occasion. There's no way I would have wanted to miss it. I know that none of us would have wanted Scott to be outed the way he was, but one thing's for certain: it's brought us closer together than we've ever been.

Just after two, Mum and Dad set off to drive home, while we take Scott's parents to Paddington to catch the train. Finally, Scott and I return to the flat. As we flop down on the corner unit, Scott wraps his arm around my shoulder, gently drawing me towards him.

"Are you okay?" he asks quietly, now at his most affectionate.

"Yeah, I'm good!" I respond, basking in his warmth and affection.

"What would you like to do now?"

"Dunno, " I admit. I grin up at him. "Whatever you want!"

"Seriously? D'you fancy another romp in the wet-room?"

"Sure! " I respond, grinning up at him.

I know as soon as we get into the bedroom and start to undress each other that this is going to be different. On the two previous occasions when we've had sex under the shower, it's been intensely physical. This time, it's going to be much more measured and sensuous.

We don't have to say anything, I can sense it. We're taking our time, revelling in every little touch. Once we're finally naked, we stroll into the wet-room where the theme continues. In outline, we do what we've done before, but by slowing everything down and exploring all the subtleties, it turns into a totally different experience.

It's magical! Kneeling in front of me, my dick fully in his mouth, Scott runs his tongue along the underside, slowly working his way from root to tip. The sensations are exquisite! Words cannot do them justice.

Eventually, we swap over. It feels as though I could suck his cock all day and not tire of it. And why not? We've got as long as we want. There's absolutely no need to rush.

Finally, I position myself over the toilet, the warm water playing on my back. Once again, Scott takes his time to get me ready, the tension building by the second. I'm gagging to have him inside me, but he's having none of it, allowing his tongue and fingers to work their magic.

At last, he's where I want him to be. Even now, he's got it all totally under control. Quite involuntarily, I begin moaning with pleasure, the erotic rhythm of his cock thrusting back and forth over my prostate driving me almost delirious. Five minutes stretch into ten and he's still going. Fuck! He could do this all afternoon!

The change comes quite expectedly. As he begins to thrust harder, his right hand slides down off my hip, his warm, wet fingers wrapping themselves around my throbbing prong. Very gently, he starts to wank me.

Having been so long delayed, my orgasm is sensational. With my balls churning into action, I buck like a wild animal, my whole body wracked by crazy spasms. After barrelling through my dick, my spunk spurts high over the toilet, splattering over the wall two feet further on. Fuck!

"Oh, babe!" Scott groans, his creamy load shooting powerfully into my bum. "Ohhhh! That was amazing!"

He's right; that was something totally special!

For a few seconds, we stay as we are, both of us too out of it to move. Finally, Scott gently withdraws. After cleaning ourselves up and disposing of the evidence, we turn off the shower and begin towelling ourselves dry.

"I know it sounds kinky," Scott confides, "but what really gets me about fucking you under the shower are the sounds; my stomach slapping against your bum, wet skin against wet skin! That is such a turn-on!"

I can't help grinning at him. Once again, he's totally nailed it. I remember that sound from when I fucked Jake in the bath at our house. It turned me on too!

The next day is Christmas Eve. Scott's gone in for training, although he knows they'll only be doing 'active recovery', to make sure that they've got the after-effects of Saturday's match out of their legs. Given how punishing the game was, that's going to be hard enough.

He gets back just before three. After two days of eating out and socialising, we're going to spend the rest of today at home, just chilling out.

"What's happening tomorrow?" I ask.

"I've booked a cab for eight o'clock to take us to your mum and dad's place," he says casually.

"We 're taking a cab to Mum and Dad's house?" I query, almost thinking I must have misheard him.

"That's right!"

"So then what?"

"Well, after we've had our Christmas dinner, I'll take another cab to our team hotel in Liverpool. Actually, your dad's booked that one for me."

"So how much is all that going to cost?"

"On Christmas Day, the best part of a grand."

"So you're spending almost £1000 so that we can go to Mum and Dad's for Christmas Day?"

"Absolutely!" he says, looking at me intently. "I think it's important for us to be there. Don't you?"

"Yes, but . . . it does seem an awful lot of money! What will the other guys be doing?"

"In most cases, they'll spend the morning playing with the kids, you know, being daddy. Then after they've had their Christmas dinner, they'll drive to the airport and fly to Liverpool."

"So after the match, I guess you'll come back with them?"

"Yeah. Kevin's going to park up at the airport, and he's promised to drop me off, so that's all sorted." He turns towards me, gently putting his hands on my shoulders. "What you have to remember," he says quietly, looking right into my eyes, "is that I have to arrive in Liverpool in the best possible shape to play the next day. On top of that, I have to make sure that I get back here in a fit state to go into training on Thursday. That's why I can't drive, if that was what you were thinking."

"Sorry," I say, feeling like a complete idiot. "I hadn't thought it through."

"We 're going to your mum and dad's place to spend time with our families. After everything that's happened, I think that is so important. Their support has been crucial! Okay, it's going to cost a few quid, but as far as I'm concerned, it's totally worth it!"

"Yeah," I agree still feeling ashamed. "Definitely!"

"Even if this was a normal Christmas," he says firmly, " I'd still do it."

Yeah, of course he would. And he'd be right too! We've got the money. We're going to spend some of it so that we can be with our parents on Christmas Day. What could be more worthwhile than that?

At half past five, we snuggle up to watch Carols from Kings, the festival of nine lessons and carols from King's College, Cambridge. I've seen it several times over the years, but this is the first time that I've seen it on such a large screen, and heard it through a really good sound system. It's glorious! So uplifting! Somehow, it feels like Christmas has really started.

Our journey home to the Midlands is so easy! Relaxing in our super-comfortable seats, the miles seem to fly past. We arrive just after eleven. Mum and Dad are delighted to see us. Stepping inside, the house feels warm and welcoming. Even though I'm not living here anymore, I know that this is somewhere that will always feel like home.

Scott 's parents arrive at quarter past twelve. They're in great form! What really stands out is that they make as big a fuss of me as they do of Scott. The message couldn't be clearer: they consider me to be part of their family too.

Finally, while we're sitting around chatting, Claire and Damian show up. As they walk into the lounge, Scott gets to his feet, preparing to greet his former classmates. To my surprise, Damian walks right up to him, placing his hands around Scott's shoulders. I'm surprised, because although Scott and Damian were always friendly, they were never that close.

"You sir," Damian begins, looking Scott right in the eye, "are a total hero. You were put in a horrible situation that was none of your making, and you've handled it superbly! Despite all the shit that was flying around, you were calm, you never bad-mouthed the guy who outed you, and you stayed so positive. I don't know how you did it! It's what everyone we know has been talking about. I feel proud to have been able to say 'Yeah, we knew him at school. He was always one of the good guys.' And you've been playing better than ever! That's just amazing! Well done, mate! You deserve all the success you're going to get! Happy Christmas!"

"Happy Christmas to you guys too!" Scott responds quietly. "Of course, I couldn't have done it without Ian," he adds modestly. " He's been an absolute rock for me, just like he always is. And I've got Dad to thank for learning how to deal with the media. All the times we watched Match of the Day, or other sports programmes where players were interviewed; we always talked about how they did. That's how I learned!"

Feeling myself starting to tear up, I head into the kitchen to help Mum with her final preparations. Unexpected, unsolicited and totally from the heart, Damian could not have said it better.

Just after one o'clock, we sit down to lunch. The sense of togetherness is wonderful. It's as though we're not two families anymore; the two have become one. It's strange. Our families have been friendly at least since Scott got injured, which was nearly two years ago. But without this recent crisis, I'm sure they wouldn't have become as close as they have. A cloud with a silver lining, perhaps? I'd like to think so.

Two hours later, the cab arrives to take Scott to Liverpool. It's a Mercedes S-Class, not a limo as such, but still pretty special. He should be very comfortable travelling in that!

"Have a good one!" I urge, giving him a hug and a quick kiss.

"Thanks, babe!"

"I'll see you Thursday, when you get back from training."

"Cool! I'll see you then!"

As Scott disappears, Claire and Damian head off to visit some of his family. With the 'rents gathering in the lounge, I make my way up to my room, feeling the need for a little alone time. Stretching out on my bed, I try to get my head around it all.

I always knew that being Scott's partner wouldn't be an easy ride. At this point, however, I know we're good for it. For sure, there'll be other challenges along the road, other obstacles to be overcome. But we're ready. We're closer and stronger now than we've ever been. We're like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. It's hard to explain why we fit together so well. We just know we do.


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