The Jigsaw Puzzle

by Pink Panther

Chapter 1

This is a story that I wrote several years ago, but never posted. After reworking it, I'm finally happy that it's good to go. It follows the life of a boy growing up gay over a period of almost four years. Although sex plays an important part in the story, there is a great deal more to it than that.

All the usual disclaimers apply. This story depicts sexual activity involving underage boys. If this is not what you want to read, please leave this page now. If you are too young to be reading this type of material, or it is illegal to read it where you are, neither Nifty nor I can accept any responsibility for the consequences if you do decide to read it.

September 2006

I lock up my bike and let myself into the house. I've spent the afternoon with Mark and Andrew, kids I've been friends with since we were at junior school together. We rode our bikes, not actually going anywhere, just riding around and hanging out. It's what we usually do when it's warm and sunny like it's been today.

I kick off my shoes and collect a drink from the fridge. I wander up to my bedroom. After finishing my drink, I stretch out on the bed. September's finally here. Next week I'll be starting my second year at the Grammar School. After the long summer holiday, I'm looking forward to it; being out of school is starting to get boring.

My first year there went okay. At four foot seven, and slim without being a stick-insect, I'm the smallest boy in our class. I'm cute too, or at least that's what people say, you know, like mum's friends and some of the girls at school, especially the ones Claire hangs out with. I've got collar length blond hair, blue eyes, and a few freckles across my nose. Well, it's better than being ugly!

Apart from games and gym, I did pretty well in all my classes, especially art. I'm crazy about art and design; it's the one thing I'm really good at. I fitted in well too. Mainly I hung out with Mark and Andrew, but I seemed to get on okay with everyone, pretty much.

It's Tuesday morning, quarter past eight. I'm on my way to the bus-stop for the ten-minute ride into town. Andrew's already there.

"Hi Ian," he says, grinning. "All set?"

"Yeah, pretty much," I tell him, smiling back.

A couple of minutes later, Mark appears, trotting towards us just as the bus arrives. We pile onboard, grabbing seats near the back. We talk about the new school term, what teachers we'll have, all that stuff. Beginning Year Eight means we won't be the youngest in the school any more. We're moving on.

As it goes, the first few days aren't that interesting; apart from two new teachers, we pretty much pick up where we left off. It's Friday. The bell sounds for lunch; Mr Ashton, our French teacher, sends us on our way.

"I've got choir practice," I say casually. "I'll see you this afternoon."

"Are you still doing that?" Andrew demands, sounding like he thinks I shouldn't be.

"What's the problem?" I ask. "You used to sing at junior school."

"Yeah, but that was different," he argues, looking uncomfortable. "Most of us did."

"I didn't!" Mark says, grinning.

"Yeah, but you're tone deaf!" Andrew says dismissively.

"So what's so different about singing here?" I ask.

"It's like all girls!" Mark says.

"No it's not," I counter. "The tenors and basses are all boys."

"But you sing treble, yeah?" Andrew says. "How many boys are there singing treble?"

"There were three of us last year," I say, "and Julian Taylor sang with the altos."

"And how many girls are there?" Andrew asks.

"About twenty," I tell him. "I've never really counted."

"Exactly!" Andrew says firmly. "You're one of four boys among about twenty girls. There's no way I'd be doing that!"

"Well, I can't just stop going," I say. "Mr Whittingdale wouldn't like it."

Andrew shrugs. I head to the early lunch queue. I don't get it; Andrew never said anything when I joined the choir last year, so why now? And what if it is mainly girls? I like singing and being in the choir, so why should I stop?

It's Saturday morning. As usual, Mark and I are at Andrew's house. He's an only child, so it's the best place for us to hang out.

"I reckon the Villa are going to have a good season," Mark says confidently. "We've started really well. Martin O'Neill's a wicked manager."

"You still won't get anywhere near United," Andrew counters. "We're going to win the league again."

"That's pathetic, calling yourself a Man United supporter," Mark responds scornfully. "You've never even been to Manchester!"

"Have you been to Aston Villa?" Andrew questions.

"Not yet, but I will," Mark tells him. "Dad says he'll take me for my birthday. He reckons we might get to a few more games too. He grew up less than two miles from Villa Park. He used to go regularly when he was my age. When we go to see Grandma and Granddad, we go right past it. I bet you've never been within fifty miles of Old Trafford!"

Why they're talking about football, I have no idea. They've never shown much interest before. Maybe it's something to do with watching the World Cup back in the summer. But they don't play, like out on the playground or anything. Okay, they're not as useless as I am, but they're not very good.

"You don't follow football, do you?" Andrew asks, turning to me.

"No," I reply. "I've got more sense."

"You should support Man United like I do," he goes on. "Support the best!"

I smile and shake my head. As it goes, I think Mark does have a point. He's pretty close to his dad. Supporting the same team that his dad used to go and watch makes sense, somehow. And it's not that far; by car you'd get there in about an hour. Manchester's like more than a hundred miles away.

"Right! Are you guys ready for a game?" Andrew asks, switching on his X-box.

He quickly loads the latest game he's acquired, The Fast and the Furious, which he got last week. I don't mind playing computer games, but they're not really my thing. Mark and Andrew are quite competitive, Mark especially. I'm not. That's probably why I always lose.

It's frustrating. I like hanging out with these guys. They're good kids. Andrew's just over five feet tall, slim and nice-looking. He's the easy-going one; very little seems to bother him. Mark's a couple of inches shorter but quite stocky. He can be quite feisty at times. I'm glad he's a friend not an enemy.

We were the only ones from our year at junior school that went on to the Grammar School, and so we've become pretty close. Or at least we had. Mark and Andrew have never had much interest in art the way that I have, which is fair enough. Now it seems they're getting into stuff that doesn't interest me at all. That could make things difficult. I hope not.

The choir is rehearsing for the school's annual prize giving which takes place at the end of September. There are two weeks to go. Our regular lunchtime rehearsal is just about to end.

"Right, ladies and gentlemen," Mr Whittingdale announces. "We seem to have things basically in place. We will be holding a rehearsal after school next Wednesday in the main hall, just to make sure we have the balance and the dynamics right, and again the following Monday, the day before the prize-giving. Remember that this is one of the most important occasions of the school year, so if any of you have commitments elsewhere, please see me and I'll sort it out for you to attend."

After school the following Wednesday, I pack my things into my bag and head to the main hall. Groups of choir members are milling around, waiting for Mr Whittingdale to arrive. I look around. I could talk to the other two boys from Year Eight, but I don't know them that well. I could chat to the girls from my class, but somehow I don't feel like doing that. A group of older boys is gathered around the piano. One of them is playing a tune I sort of recognise, one of the pop songs that Claire likes, though I don't know what it's called.

I wander across. I recognise two of the boys; they're in Year Ten, in Claire's class. One's called Scott; he's the school's star footballer. There's talk that he'll leave school as soon as he's done his GCSEs so that he can play professionally. With a mop of brown wavy hair, large brown eyes and a great smile, he's very good-looking.

His friend David is a fraction taller with straight fair hair. He's been to our house several times and taken Claire to the cinema. He's really nice. I can see why she likes him. He's quite good looking, but not as good looking as Scott. That's what I think anyway.

I stand on the edge of the group, listening to the boy playing piano and the buzz of conversation. The boys all seem so grown up. I can't explain why, but it's exciting just being there with them. It's weird; I've never felt like this before.

After a few minutes, Mr Whittingdale arrives and we start rehearsing. Forty minutes later we're on our way home. I tag along with Scott and David as they head to the bus stop. They don't seem to mind; they're even quite friendly, allowing me to sit with them on the bus home. I'm entranced, hanging onto their every word. Even the way their voices sound is exciting. When we reach Whitecroft, David and I get off the bus, leaving Scott to travel on to Wynford, a village two miles further along the road.

"Tell Claire I'll see her at school tomorrow," David says, smiling.

"Yeah, I'll do that!" I respond, feeling strangely privileged that he's even asked me.

I stride towards home feeling on top of the world. Being allowed to hang out with Scott and David was wicked!

The annual prize-giving goes like a dream. The school prides itself on promoting a 'culture of excellence', as they call it; it's why parents pay to send us here. The choir certainly doesn't let anyone down; we totally nail it. Afterwards, Mr Whittingdale can hardly wait to tell us how pleased he is.

I'm lucky, being able to go to the Grammar School. Sure, I passed the entrance exam, but mum and dad still have to pay for me. I'm on an art scholarship, but that's only ten per cent of the fees, and they have to pay for Claire, my older sister too, so school fees are a big thing for us. The nearest state grammar school is twenty miles away and they only take sixty kids a year so I'm not sure I'd have got in. It's too far to go in any case. And none of the ordinary secondary schools round here is that good, and they take some pretty rough kids, so I'm happy that I am where I am.

October 2006

It's Monday afternoon. At ten to four, Mark, Andrew and I leave our final class. They're going straight home; I have Junior Arts Club. Being on an art scholarship I'm expected to attend, but I'd go anyway. We do all sorts of things. I love every minute of it.

"We're going to badminton club tomorrow," Andrew announces. "Do you want to come?"

"I'm not sure," I say defensively. "I'll tell you in the morning."

"Fair enough," he responds casually.

"You ought to do it," Mark says sourly. "You never do any exercise apart from riding your bike."

As I head off towards the art rooms, I'm irritated. I know he's right, but I don't need him to tell me. And what are they going to badminton club for? They won't be any good at it. So am I going to go? If they're going, I somehow think I should, but I really don't want to. The thing is they might not be very good, but I'll be completely useless, just like I am at every other sport. I'll show myself up, and I hate that; I hate it almost more than anything.

A voice from inside me is saying that maybe I ought to give it a try; they are my friends after all. But I know what will happen; I'll make an idiot of myself. Do I really want to put myself through that?

As I get ready for school the following morning, I still haven't made up my mind whether to go or not. Instead, I've got a plan. I pack trainers, shorts and tee-shirt just in case, and head off to the bus stop. Mark and Andrew are already there.

"I don't think I'm coming to badminton club," I say, testing the water.

"It's up to you," Mark says huffily. "Only I thought you were our mate. But that's the thing with you. If you don't expect to do well at something, you won't even try it, like you're afraid of showing yourself up. I don't think Andrew and I will be very good, but at least we're giving it a go."

That settles it. If he'd tried to encourage me, I'd have gone. Instead, he was really snotty about it.

"Sorry, I don't want to go," I say, and change the subject.

We walk into our registration room. There's no sign of Mrs Vickers, our form tutor. She's quite often late. Jane and Rebecca are poring over a girls' magazine. Out of curiosity, I stroll across to see what they're looking at. It's a feature on the pop group McFly. Above the article there's a picture of the whole band, with a large picture of lead singer Tom Fletcher on the facing page. I reckon he's around nineteen. He's got a sort of 'bad boy' look about him that I can't help lingering on. I'm guessing that Jane and Rebecca like that too.

"Do you like McFly?" Rebecca asks, smiling sweetly at me.

"Not listened to them much," I counter, not really knowing whether I've heard them or not.

"Oh, you should," Rebecca says. "They're wicked, aren't they Jane?"

"Mmmmm!" Jane purrs dreamily.

So maybe I'll listen to some of their stuff, see what I think. I've never been interested before, but I've just started to pick up on pop music. Claire listens to it all the time, and McFly do look, well, interesting.

Sitting at my home computer, I google McFly. There are more pictures. Tom Fletcher isn't the only fit one. Guitarist Danny Jones isn't bad either. By following a couple of links I'm able to listen to their most recent single, 'I'll Be Okay'. I remember it now; just when we were going back to school at the beginning of September it was being played all the time. It's good; it has a sort of happy feel to it. Without really intending to, I find myself singing along with it.

My interest has been sparked; I'm wondering what else I might enjoy listening to. It's not long before I've found Arctic Monkeys. I already know about them; they're the first band to have had a hit single solely on downloads from the internet. Unlike most bands, they didn't wait to get signed by a record company; they made the recording themselves and put it onto the internet for people to download. I really admire people who do stuff like that.

This time, I'm able to watch a video of them playing 'I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor'. I sort of remember it from last year, but I wasn't interested back then. Now I'm completely captivated. The music has a hard edge to it, a sort of rawness. These guys don't just look like bad boys; they sound like bad boys too.

Singer-guitarist Alex Turner is definitely fit. He's nineteen too, all long legs and tight jeans. I wish I looked like him.

"Dinner in five minutes!" Mum calls.

I wash my hands and trot downstairs.

"Were you listening to Arctic Monkeys?" Claire asks.

"Yes, why?"

"Just surprised, that's all," she responds. "You've never been interested before."

"Well, this morning Rebecca and Jane were talking about McFly," I explained. "They really like them."

"They would," Claire says a touch scornfully. "I'd have liked them when I was twelve."

"Well anyway," I continue, "I thought I'd give them a listen, but then I found Arctic Monkeys. McFly are good, but Arctic Monkeys are more, you know, exciting."

"Arctic Monkeys are the best!" Claire says vehemently.

That comes as quite a surprise. Claire's pretty quiet most of the time; works hard and stays right away from trouble. Her liking these rough-edged bad boys doesn't seem to fit somehow. But what do I know? Girls are weird; I've never understood how they think.

As I walk into our registration room, Jane and Rebecca are sitting together, chatting animatedly.

"I listened to some of McFly's stuff last night," I tell them.

"Did you like them?" Rebecca asks expectantly.

"Yeah, they're really good!" I say, grinning. "I think Arctic Monkeys are better though."

"They're okay," she concedes, looking a little put out, "but we like McFly, don't we Jane?"

I smile to myself; there's no way I'm going to tell them what Claire said.

It's Thursday. The weather's been wet and windy all week. I'm hoping that means we won't be able to do games, but I'm out of luck. The rain's stopped and the field's dry enough for us to play, even if the sky does look like lead.

Okay, I'll admit it; I'm a wimp. I hate games like football and rugby, I can't swim, and when we have to run around the school playing fields, I get out of breath in like thirty seconds. As I change into my kit, I'm dreading it. Doing games when it's warm and sunny is tolerable, just about; I don't like it even then. Having to do it when it's cold and wet is a miserable experience.

Inevitably, the time drags even more than usual, but finally it's over and we troop back to the sports pavilion and into the boys' changing rooms, around eighty of us. It goes without saying that we're all wet and muddy. I am and I haven't even done anything! That means we have to have a shower. Some of the boys absolutely hate it, like they're completely paranoid about anyone seeing them naked. As it goes, it doesn't bother me one way or the other; it's a whole lot better than being wet and dirty. In any case, we aren't given the choice.

I strip my kit off, pick up my towel and trot through. As soon as I'm clean I leave the showers and start to dry off. That's when I notice. Like I said, I'm the smallest boy in our class. In fact, alongside a couple of others, I'm the smallest in the entire year. Only not down there I'm not. I'm not the biggest; Matthew and a couple of kids I don't really know are bigger than me; one of them has hair down there too.

But I'm definitely bigger than most. I'm sure I wasn't back before Easter, the last time we had to do this. I'm not peeking; I don't need to. Drying themselves right in front of me, Andrew is still pretty small and Mark is tiny. As I'm about to leave the drying area, Dean Griffiths emerges from the showers. He's as tall as Matthew but very lanky; his legs seem to go on forever. Down there he's about the same size as Andrew. Weird!

I can't explain why, but it's not actually a surprise. Small or not, I've started puberty; that's what it's called. That's why my dick keeps going hard. Dad talked to me about it over the summer. We've covered it in sex-ed classes too. It just seems odd that I've got there before most of the other kids. So I'm growing down there, but what about the rest of me? Mum's only five foot two and dad doesn't exactly tower, so maybe I'll always be small. I hurry back into the changing room and get dressed.

It's the half-term break. Once again, we're at Andrew's house.

"I got this at the weekend," he says excitedly, producing yet another new computer game.

It's not what I wanted to hear. With Andrew being an only child, he gets far more stuff than I ever do. I'm not saying that he's spoilt, but he does seem to get things rather easily. The Fast and The Furious, the last game he had, was a racing game. I don't mind playing that, even though I'm not much good at it. This one, called Mortal Combat – Armageddon, is a fighting game. It's just not my thing at all.

I do my best to show some enthusiasm, but it's very difficult. I just can't get interested in it. In between times, Mark and Andrew argue about football again. It doesn't mean anything to me. They might as well be talking Greek.

I'm disappointed. Things never used to be like this. When we started at the Grammar School, we were so together, we were like the Three Musketeers. But I guess we're growing up, and it seems like we're growing apart rather than together.

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