The Jigsaw Puzzle

by Pink Panther

Chapter 16

August 2008

It's Sunday and we're back at home. We've just finished lunch. After stashing the dirty things in the dishwasher, I make my way up to my bedroom. Within a matter of minutes, I'm prowling around like a caged tiger.

It's weird. I had sex with Danny three days ago. You'd think that would have kept me happy for a while, at least until Dean gets back. But it hasn't. It doesn't work like that. Somehow, it's made things even worse. Right now, I'm so horny I hardly know what to do with myself.

So, what am I going to do? It's a warm sunny afternoon. I check that I've got enough cash on me, and head downstairs. I pop my head into the lounge room. Mum's sitting reading.

"I'm going out for a bit," I announce.

"Okay, don't be late," she says, barely looking up.

I stroll to the bus stop. The bus service on Sundays is not that good, but I'm in luck. There's one due in around three minutes. It arrives right on time. I get on board for the ten-minute journey into town. I should not be doing this. It's dangerous. But I just can't stop myself. It's like it's a risk I have to take.

I get off the bus and head along the main road past school, walking along the right-hand pavement. The park and the art gallery are on the far side of the road, a couple of hundred yards further on. That's where I spot him. I haven't seen him for nearly a year, but I recognise him immediately, Jimmy, the boy I met here last year, standing right outside the park. He's better dressed than he was back then. Otherwise, he hardly seems to have changed at all. Maybe he's like Peter Pan too.

I wonder what I should do now. After what happened the last time, I know I ought to ignore him. Actually, I ought to get out of the place, forget the whole thing. I don't, of course. 'Let's get a little closer,' I tell myself, 'See what happens.' I keep on walking, my heart pounding. He doesn't seem to notice me, but after a few seconds, I can see him perfectly. Man, he is hot! I'd love to go with him, but dare I take the risk?

Just then a car drives past, coming to a halt right by where Jimmy's standing. The car itself, a Peugeot hatchback, is nothing special, but I recognise the custom paint job and high-spec alloy wheels in an instant. It's Mr Saunders' car.

A moment later it pulls away. Jimmy's gone. You don't need to be a genius to work out what this is about. Mr Saunders won't touch the boys at school, but he does it with Jimmy. Why? It doesn't make sense, not to me anyway. I wonder how far they go. I'm guessing all the way.

I wander into the park, feeling confused and deflated. I was building myself up. I'd have spoken to Jimmy, at least to hear what he had to say. And maybe, just maybe, we'd have gone back to his place. And if we had, he'd have fucked me again.

I flop down on one of the benches where I've got a clear view of the entrance to the men's toilets. Right now, I don't know what to think. What's special about Jimmy? Okay, I know Mr Saunders doesn't actually teach him, but is that it? The seconds slowly tick past. I keep my eyes on the toilets. Maybe I'll see someone else that I like the look of. There's always a chance.

Only not today there isn't. I sit watching until my arse starts to go numb. I don't see anybody I'd even think about going with. I check my watch. I've been here almost forty minutes. I've had enough. I'm not just frustrated; I'm bored out of my brain. Lethargically, I get to my feet and wander back to the bus station.

It's Wednesday morning. One way and another, I've managed to keep myself occupied for the past two days. Mum's back at work. Dad's got another week off before he starts a new project, so he's been keeping busy doing jobs around the house. I've been helping him when I've had nothing else to do. Right now, I'm pottering about, wondering what I'm going to do next. My phone rings. I answer it.

"Hi, man!" Anthony's voice says. "How's it going?"

"Not bad, thanks!" I respond. "I thought you were in the States."

"Got back two days ago," he says. "I've just recovered from the jet-lag. We spent the last five days in New York. Man, that place is insane! Had a great time though!"


"What are you doing?" he asks.

"Not much, why?"

"Wanna come round?"

"Where's Jayden?" I demand.

"Still away. They've got this place on the Algarve."

Actually, I knew that. Louise told me.

"Okay then," I say. "I'll cycle over. I'll be about half an hour."

"Wicked!" he says. "I'll be here!"

I put my phone back in my pocket.

"Dad," I say, finding him in the kitchen, "I'm going to Anthony's."

"Will you be back for lunch?" he asks.

"Dunno," I say. "Don't worry; I can get myself something if I do come back."

"Okay," he says smiling. "Enjoy yourself! Just don't get into mischief and make sure you're back in time for dinner."

I give him a big smile. Mischief? Me? What could he be thinking about?

I lock up my bike and ring the bell. In his usual way, Anthony bounds down the stairs to open the door. It's some time since I saw him out of school uniform. I'm, like, wow! He's grown. He's pretty tall now, around five feet eight, and in his black muscle shirt and white football shorts he looks, like, amazing! He is sooo hot!

"Come in, man!" he says enthusiastically. "Great to see you! How was Cornwall?"

"Pretty good," I say as he ushers me towards his room. "The weather was superb."

"Must have been," he says, parking himself on his bed. "You're looking fantastic!"

"I got lots of sketching done," I tell him. "I'll show you when we get back to school."

"Cool!" he responds. "Any interesting subjects?"

"We went to Newquay a couple of times," I say, almost in a whisper. "That was unbelievable! Boys everywhere you looked! It's just as well my sketch pad was hiding . . . , you know!"

"Hmm, that's the surfing place, yeah?" he says languidly. "Sounds wonderful!"

"Oh, it was!" I assure him. "I did one sketch there that I'm really pleased with. It took me all day. I was thinking I'd frame it when we got back, but now I'm thinking I could use it to do a water colour or something. I need to talk to Mr Gault about it."

"Cool!" he repeats. He pauses for a moment, looking at me intently. "I know I'm being nosey," he goes on "but you didn't meet anyone, did you?"

"Not there," I say guardedly.

"So you did meet someone?"

"Yeah, back in St. Ives, a couple of days before we came home."


"He was sixteen, not stunning, but definitely alright. Well, there's this headland just past the beach. It's covered in bracken. You can hide in it so nobody can see you. So that's where we went."

"Al fresco sex, huh? Very adventurous. So what did you do?"

"Everything," I admit, even quieter than before. "He said that back at home he does stuff with his cousin, you know, sucking each other off and that, but they'd never gone all the way. He loved it!"

"I can imagine!" he says, giving me a mischievous grin.

"So what about you?" I ask.

"Oh we had an amazing time," he says, bubbling with obvious excitement "We travelled all up the East Coast, visited all sorts of places. We finished up in New York. Man, that place is just the best! It's so alive! We went everywhere! We visited MoMA and the Guggenheim, went to see Madison Avenue, where all the big advertising agencies are, plus doing all the usual tourist stuff, you know, the Empire State Building, Times Square, Greenwich Village, Broadway, boating on the lake in Central Park. We even went to see Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood at Madison Square Garden. They're old rockers from the sixties, but just being there . . . , man, the Garden is, like, so iconic!"

"Wow!" I say, grinning back at him. "But I guess you didn't meet anyone."

"No chance!" he confirms, grinning. "I was with Dad and James the whole time. I wasn't allowed to go anywhere on my own. I'd have got lost."

I nod my understanding. There's an awkward pregnant silence. I know what's coming.

"You don't fancy . . . , you know?" he asks finally.

"What about Jayden?" I query.

"He's not around, is he?" he says nonchalantly. "I wouldn't even suggest it if he was here, but he's not. They go to this place in Portugal all the time. He knows lots of other kids there, Brits and locals. He could be getting up to all sorts of stuff. I mean, when we're together, we're together. I wouldn't want it any other way. But when we're not, well, if we want to spread our wings a little, that's cool, yeah? And when he gets back, I won't ask him and he won't ask me."

With Dean not back for another twelve days, and Anthony looking hotter than he ever has, saying no just isn't an option. I don't care that it's only till Jayden gets back. This is right here, right now. It's too good an opportunity to turn down. We begin to undress each other.

"I've really missed this," he says, helping me off with my polo top. "It's been over three weeks!"

I know exactly where he's coming from. Apart from the encounter with Danny, it's been almost four weeks since I did anything. I pull down his shorts. He's grown down there too, his pubic hair really starting to come in. We snuggle up on the bed, our hands roaming everywhere. His touch is exquisite, getting me hornier by the second.

Our lips meet. A moment later we're kissing like our lives depended on it. His aroma floods my nostrils, stronger than I remember it, more masculine somehow. Being here is just the most perfect thing possible. It's like I've died and gone to heaven.

"I know I'm being nosey again," he says, looking at me intently, "but have you and Dean . . . , you know?"

"Yeah," I admit, "but it's not serious. Dean's not really gay. As soon as he's got a girlfriend who'll have sex with him, that'll be it. You won't tell anyone, will you?"

"No, of course not!" he assures me, smiling and licking my nose. "It's interesting though. He must be a bit gay to do it at all. I guess he's bisexual."

"Dean's a friend," I say quietly, "a really good friend. He's helped me a lot. I guess I've helped him a bit too."

"Yeah," he says. "I'd worked that out, pretty much. It's cool. If you haven't got a boyfriend, having a fuck-buddy you really like comes a pretty close second."

I don't respond. It's not something I want to discuss. We take turns sucking each other. Finally, we get back to kissing, Anthony's hands running over my bum.

"I've missed this too," he says, his finger touching me right there.

"So don't you and Jayden fuck?" I enquire.

"Oh, we do it," he says casually, "but I'm always on the receiving end. We didn't do it straight away. It took about a month before I was ready."

"So d'you like it?" I ask.

"Oh yeah," he confirms. "It hurt quite a bit the first time he got it in, but after that, it was fantastic. I just miss being on top sometimes, but Jay says he doesn't want it."

Hearing that gives me a glimmer of an idea. Maybe Jayden and Anthony's perfect relationship isn't quite so perfect after all. But I'm not going there. If they split up because Jayden won't let Anthony fuck him, it won't be anything to do with me.

"Well now's your chance to make up for lost time!" I say, grinning.

Awesome or what?! It wasn't just reprising our old routine; it was way better than that. I know I love Dean doing it, and I certainly loved Danny doing it, but this was at a whole different level. It's not just that Anthony's bigger and stronger than he was. He was totally hungry for it. Fuck! Jayden doesn't know what he's missing!

"Want to come round again tomorrow?" Anthony whispers.

"Sorry, I can't," I tell him. "Dad's taking me to London. There's a major Bauhaus exhibition at the Barbican. We're going to see it. Would you like to come?"

"Yeah, that'd be great!" he says, smiling. "Your dad's really cool. I'll have to ask, but I'm sure it'll be alright. How are you getting there? By train?"

"No, Dad's going to drive," I say. "He says it's cheaper. We'll park up on the outskirts of London and get one-day travel cards so we can go wherever we want. Call me this evening yeah?" I pause for a second. "I'll be able to come here Friday."

"Let's go for it!" he says, licking my nose.

The journey to London flies past. It's not just that Anthony and I get on so well. Dad really likes him. Almost before I know it, we're parking up in London's western outskirts. A forty minute tube journey deposits us at St. Paul's, where we emerge into the warm August sunshine. The City, London's financial centre, is impressive, the grandeur of the older buildings contrasting with the brash confidence of the newer ones, the whole place oozing power and money.

"It's not as big as New York," Anthony comments, "but it's got more class."

From the outside, the Barbican is one of the ugliest buildings I've ever seen. It's like brutalism on steroids. Even the interior seems rather austere. Fortunately, we're not here for the architecture. Bauhaus is probably the most important design school of the twentieth century. It was founded by architect Walter Gropius back in the nineteen twenties, but its influence is still in evidence today. For someone like me, the exhibition is an absolute 'must see'. It does not disappoint, bringing the roots of contemporary design into the sharpest focus possible.

After lunch, we stroll back past St. Paul's and over the Millennium Bridge to Tate Modern.

"You're too young to remember," Dad says, "but they had terrible trouble with this when it was first opened. It vibrated when people walked over it. The press called it the Wobbly Bridge. The vibrations were so bad, they had to close it for two years to put dampers in."

While going to the Barbican was for me, Tate Modern is for all of us. Dad and I love it and Anthony is in his element. Finally it's time to go home. Sitting in the car heading back to the Midlands, I feel as happy and relaxed as I have for ages. We've had a wonderful day. There's just one thing bothering me. Anthony and I are getting on as well as we ever did, and the sex we had yesterday was just fantastic. Even he said that. But still he picks Jayden rather than me. I wish I knew why.

It's Saturday. Yesterday was cool and overcast. It didn't matter much because I spent most of the time at Anthony's house. Before I got there, I was wondering whether our sexual exploits would reach the heights that they had on Wednesday. Well, they definitely did.

Today it's warm and sunny again. I went out for a run early on. Being out there, running freely in the warm August sunshine, has to be one of the best feelings possible. Not as good as sex, of course, but still very special. So right now, I'm waiting for Anthony to arrive.

He shows up just after half past eleven. Dad's pleased to see him, same as always. Watching Mum and Anthony is weird. It's like they don't know what to make of each other. But at least he's trying to keep her onside, and she's not openly hostile like she was the first time he came.

After lunch, Anthony helps me clear everything away. By the time we've finished, the weather's moved from warm to hot.

"We're going to the park," I say, sticking my head into the lounge room.

Having reached the park, we stroll on into Cooper's Wood. "It's great in here on days like this," I say, "nice and cool." Of course, that's not the only reason we're here. I think he knows, even though I haven't said anything. I lead the way to a place I used to play with Mark and Andrew, a little den with thick bushes shielding us from prying eyes. I turn to face him, putting my arms round his waist.

"I guess you must like al fresco sex," he says, smiling down at me.

"Yeah," I confirm. "And we've got nowhere else to go."

"Should be an interesting experience," he says.

An interesting experience? Oh, it was all that. I think he liked it. I know I did. We didn't strip right off. We thought that might be too risky. We couldn't lie down either. The ground's too rough. But we could still do everything we wanted to, just not in the same positions as when we've got a nice comfortable bed to lie on.

When it came to . . . , you know, we did it standing up, with Anthony behind me. Now that was interesting! Better than the way we usually do it? No, but it was certainly different! I'm guessing it won't be the only time I do it like that.

It's Wednesday. Yesterday, Jayden travelled back from Portugal, so my little fling with Anthony has come to an end. I know it probably sounds a bit weird, but I'm not as disappointed as I thought I'd be. I mean, I never expected it to happen at all, so I can't really complain, can I? And Dean gets back at the beginning of next week. I can definitely manage till then.

Anthony and I will still hang out together. Having a friend who's as mad about art as I am is so important, even if we're not having sex. On Friday, we're going to Birmingham. We'll take in the latest exhibition at the Art Gallery before heading along to the Arts Centre to have lunch and chill out. I'd miss it terribly if we stopped doing stuff like that.

I'm just getting things ready for Mum to cook dinner when my phone rings. When I retrieve it from my pocket, I'm surprised to find that Anthony's calling me.

"Hi!" I say brightly. "How's it going?"

"Great, thanks!" he answers. "You know Friday? Is it okay if Jayden comes with us?"

Now that catches me totally unprepared. And after what we've been up to for the past few days, I can't really say no.

"Yeah, no problem," I say, trying my best to sound like I don't mind.

"See you at the station then!" he says.

He rings off. So that's it. When we go to Birmingham on Friday, Jayden will be coming with us. I can't say I'm happy about it, but unless I wanted to look like a spoilt brat, I didn't have much choice.

We're turning into the bus station. I check my watch. It's four minutes past nine. The train goes at twenty past. The bus reaches its stand and comes to a halt. I set off on the short walk to the train station. It's warm and sunny again. If it was just me and Anthony, it'd be ideal for chilling out in the park where the Arts Centre is. But having Jayden with us? Well, who knows?

Still, I tell myself, it's too late to be having doubts now. I said it was okay for Jayden to come. I am not going to sabotage things. In any case, Anthony's been with Jayden for nearly three months. I need to get over it. Maybe this'll help. When I reach the station, they're already there. I've never seen Jayden out of school before. I have to admit, in his street clothes, he is pretty stunning.

"Hi, man!" Anthony says, giving me his most welcoming smile.

"Hi!" I respond.

"Hi!" Jayden echoes. He looks as nervous as I am.

A few minutes later the train arrives. It's not too busy. Jayden and Anthony sit next to each other, with me facing them. We're on our way. Anthony and I start chatting much as we would if Jayden wasn't there. I'm expecting Jayden to start looking bored, resentful even, but he doesn't. He just sits quietly, paying attention to everything we say. Occasionally, Anthony interrupts the conversation so he can explain something. Then we're off again.

As we reach the Birmingham outskirts, there's a momentary lull.

"I saw that design project you did," Jayden says, smiling across at me, "the one that was displayed in the Art Room last autumn. It was great. I was well impressed. Lou's always telling me how talented you are." He pauses. "So's Anthony, of course!"

They turn towards each other and grin. It's like a spark passes between them without them actually saying anything. I'm like 'Wow! That really is special!'

After arriving at New Street Station, we head off to the Art Gallery. Jayden's not an artist. He doesn't even do art at school. When he had to pick his GCSE classes, he dropped it. So I'm expecting him to get bored. He doesn't. He pays attention and asks intelligent questions. I'm well impressed.

After the new exhibition, we move on to the gallery where the Pre-Raphaelite paintings are displayed. Anthony's totally into this stuff. He starts to tell Jayden all about it, the artists, the paintings, the whole bit. And as I've heard it all before, the only person getting bored is me.

Just after midday, we make our way out, taking the bus to the Midlands Arts Centre. We're all hungry, so it's straight into the café for lunch. We find a vacant table, Anthony and Jayden sitting on one side, me on the other. As we eat, I can't help noticing this thing they've got going. I don't know what you'd call it, chemistry maybe, but it's definitely there. It finally starts to sink in. For all that Anthony and I get on so well and enjoyed amazing sex, there's a closeness between these guys that Anthony and I never had.

With our meal finished, we wander out into the park. It's hot now, the sun at its highest. We flop down on the grass to chill out for a while before going home. We sit there, enjoying the sunshine, chatting quietly about this and that.

"I need the Little Boys' Room!" Anthony announces, getting to his feet. He strides off towards the Arts Centre. Jayden watches him go, waiting till he's out of earshot.

"I want to apologise for the way all this happened," he says quietly, looking right into my eyes. "I knew you were gay; Lou told me, you know, about all the shit you were getting from that Stanford kid. Well, I wanted to find someone like me, but I knew it couldn't be you. It's not that I didn't fancy you or anything. Lou would have found out. She's okay, yeah, but she gossips with her mates. It would have been all over the school in, like, no time. My mates are all football players. I don't think they'd have taken it too well."

"Tim Powell's captain of the under fourteen team," I point out, "and he's fine with me being gay."

"Yeah, but you're not actually a footballer," he counters. "Anyway, Mum and Dad might have found out. I'm not ready for that yet. But I saw you with Ant, yeah? I guessed he was gay too. Dunno why, but I was totally love-struck. I used to wank myself stupid just thinking about him. I was desperate to get to know him. I just couldn't find an opportunity. Then, when I saw him in the toilets after school, well, I just had to go for it." He pauses for a moment. "Honestly, I never thought about you and Ant actually, you know, being together," he adds, sounding embarrassed. "I should have. Sorry. I guess my head was so far gone I just didn't. I never meant to hurt you. I wouldn't have. I'm not like that."

I take a deep breath. He's not faking. I'd know if he was.

"It's cool," I tell him. "You and Anthony were meant to be together."

"Thanks," he whispers, looking more embarrassed than ever. "I hoped you'd understand."

"And you know he doesn't like being called Ant, don't you?" I quip, grinning at him.

"Yeah, but he's not here right now, is he?" he says, smiling back.

The train pulls into the station. We make our way out onto the street.

"Thanks for today," Anthony says, smiling warmly. "It's been great."

"Yeah, thanks," Jayden adds.

"We'll meet up next week sometime," Anthony suggests. "Call me, yeah?"

"Yeah," I confirm, smiling back. "See you guys!"

I watch them disappear in the direction of Anthony's house. Once they're out of sight, I set off towards the bus station. I'm pleased that Jayden came with us today. It's cleared the air. It's like I'm finally at peace with it. I still can't really say what it is between him and Anthony, but I've seen it and felt it. I know it's real. It's like Anthony said about pieces of a jigsaw. You can't explain why they fit together. They just do.

Back when he and Jayden first got together, Anthony told me that one day I'd find someone I'd fit with like that. I hope he's right. Now I've seen them together, it's so obvious. That's what I need.

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