I Never Said I Loved You

by Rafael Henry

Chapter 1

Paddington Station. Late May, 2000. Fourteen years later.

I recognize him instantly. Even after fourteen years of not seeing Andersson, there's not a shadow of a doubt about it, it's definitely him, Andersson Van Herrin. I'm on one of the benches waiting for my train departure information to appear on the electronic board over there by the departure gates. He's walked quickly past, and by the time I got over the shock of seeing him, he'd gone. If I'm quick I still have a chance of catching up with him. He might be on the station for a while surely?

He went into the Gentleman's Lavatory. I'm going to wait outside at a discrete distance. I don't want anybody to get the wrong idea. Paddington Station is notorious, so a friend told me.

A minute later Anders emerged from the toilets holding a boy's arm tightly. Oh shit, what the hell is going on here?

He walked right past me with the boy, gave me a glance and hurried on before I could challenge him. I saw him sit down on a bench close to where I had been sitting. I went up to that place feeling as nervous as the proverbial kitten. He was talking to the boy; more like lecturing him, who was just staring blankly into the space beyond him with his hands rather petulantly in his lap. Clearly he was getting some kind of serious telling off. But who the hell is that boy? I'm going for it. I'd be furious with myself if I let this go. Time to confront the situation.

I sat down next to one of the most handsome men I have ever encountered, with his blond wavy hair and tanned face, same tanned long legs in pale cream shorts, not that I've encountered that many, and not all have been as good looking as he is. There was a convenient space at the end of the bench. I stared directly ahead. If he had recognized me earlier, he might start the conversation. If he doesn't, I will. I'm cross with him because I suspect there's something going on that I won't want to hear about. Then, finally, as he continues to stare forwards……..

' You haven't changed Roo. You're just the same.'

So he did recognize me.

'No, not really; appearances excepted. We've all got a little older Anders.'

'But not wiser in my case. I'm in a mess Roo. I've let you down. I know I have.'

'But I haven't seen you since……you know….. then , those wonderful seven days.'

'Yes I know. But I have let you down, in my heart I know I have.'

I put an arm around my old friend. He still won't look at me.

'And may I be cheeky and ask who this feller is sitting next to you?'

No answer.

'Can we talk…….please? Somewhere else. Are you living in London?'

'Yes, in a tatty one-bed flat just off Warwick Avenue, just opposite Little Venice. That's the only good part. You wouldn't like it Roo. Your mummy wouldn't approve.'

Actually my mummy would approve. I think she was very fond of Andersson. It was his mother who didn't approve. She realized what had happened and that was the end of the matter. Goodbye Andersson.

'That's for me to decide, and anyway, she's gone now. I really do need to talk to you, seriously I do. I promise not to be nosy. Who is you friend?'

'I thought you said you wouldn't be nosy?'

'You could at least introduce me?'

I had the pleasure of meeting Lucien. He looked like he had North African in him, and [being quite olive skinned myself] a comely lad, but I had serious misgivings about his dress code. He wore a sleeveless blue top, and shorts that carved into his buttocks alarmingly. My poor old mother would have never let me wear anything like that, not even in the eighties when the clothes designers went out of their way to encourage boys show off what they had, back and front. Happy days for us. I'd stand in front of the mirror, hitch everything up as high as it would go, and sally forth down to the beach in my French style blue and white stripy tee shirt looking nicely compacted , you might say. It felt good and people did look at us, which is what I wanted. To be noticed.

I put out my hand in a gesture of friendship towards the boy and now knew was known as Lucien. He stood, and I got his hand in mine. It was firm, albeit a little damp and grubby. At least I got it. A start you might say. He turned to face me, almost posing with one foot slightly forward making him [in my eyes] resemble that lovely small Degas model of the ballerina. I looked at him amidships for a moment, a habit I've never managed to rid myself of. The pale blue satin-effect shorts is a garment that takes no prisoners. He appears to be quite young, or if he is older than he looks, he was at the back of the queue, the small yet very clearly defined forms held firmly in place just below the gathered waistband; very little left to the imagination of possible interested parties that have their eyes covering the comings and goings of one of several Paddington Station's Gentleman's Lavatories. Are the end of his shapely legs are a pair of plastic sandals. I looked at the ends of his toes. They could do with a little TLC.

There is no possibility of my going back to Devon this afternoon as planned. I can't leave the myriad of questions I have for Anders unanswered. Fourteen years have slipped by with no news of him whatsoever. With Lucien walking between us, Anders' arm around his shoulder, I'm thinking back to my time with Devon Social Services prior to my present appointment at Byrom House. I saw children very similar to Lucien who scurried out of sight of home to places where they might earn a couple of pounds from men, sometimes older boys too, even a woman, who might settle for their hands inside his knickers. Many boys didn't bother with underwear, especially the youngest, who thought the lack of an extra barrier made what they had more visible and alluring; and quicker to access. It was a risky activity if you're only ten years old, and likely to bring the lad rapidly to the attention of me or one of my colleagues. Two years was enough of dealing with social and family problems, even in a well-to-do county like Devon. I needed a break from it. So I started studying the 'situations vacant' in the local paper. With a broad education I had had from Exeter, Byrom House saw me as ideal material to groom, and then graduate to the slightly ridiculous title of Estates and Logistics Manager, an entirely new post created to fit their needs; and mine.

The first floor flat at 31 Warwick Avenue is indeed small, somewhat grubby, but just about serviceable enough to consider living in. It has a tiny kitchen off the living room-cum-bedroom, and a small shower cubicle literally in the other corner of the room. Anders has a double bed in the middle, a large blue-sky and white clouds motif covered duvet drawn neatly back to reveal a greyish and cream-coloured bottom sheet that was probably once white. There aren't too many places to stand and take stock of the situation whilst Lucien stands close waiting no doubt for what's going to happen next. Personally I'm not inhibited by Lucien's presence. Surprisingly, Lucien is the first to speak in his broken English with a heavy French accent.

'Will you be friends again please?'

What an odd question. We both look away from each other, and down to Lucien's face with a question mark all over it. We look back at each other. Then Anders says……

'It's only fourteen years Roo. That's not much is it? Just wasted time really. I haven't changed……when I think about you. Have you?'

'Not at all Anders. But I'm concerned about your lifestyle Anders, at least what it appears to be when I saw you at the station. Can I trust you to be honest with me? If I ask you an important question, will you give me an honest answer?'

I asked the question, and after he had convinced me, we came together and kissed, arms around shoulders, in a rather formal 'not seen you in a long while but thank goodness you're here' kind of way. How strange it all is. Fourteen years later, but it reminded us both of that very first time up in my bedroom at Teignmouth. We had arranged Anders' things on the shelves in my cupboard, turned towards each other and kissed one another, our arms around necks. Things began to happen.

Now, at 31 Warwick Avenue, it seemed that nothing has changed. Lucien is still standing with us, not quite between us, with one arm around my back and the other around Anders'. We kiss again, but this time it's different. When we break for air, Anders tells Lucien to get in the grubby corner shower. The sliding door looks like it won't run properly. Lucien doesn't bother to close it, but directs the shower head towards the back. I thought escaping water might do something for the deep red carpet.

'Are you going to take your jacket off Roo?' Says Anders smiling.

We watched from the bed; there was only the single small armchair in the corner. Lucien, aware that he was being observed, had carefully removed what he wore. His empathy with Anders and I had tickled his imagination. We could see into the shower cubicle past the clear plastic sliding door made less clear by months of soap residue. But I need to catch up quickly. I'm interested in the relationship between Anders and Lucien.

'Have you Anders; or should I ask, are you?' The answer to my enigmatic question came back quickly.

'No Roo! Nothing ever happens in this place. If you want to know, it's all in here.'

There's a small black notebook, rather like a diary, Anders keeps on the dark oak bedside cupboard that looked like it was bought from a dealer that supplies landlords with very dated and cheap furniture.

'If you read this , you'll know.'

He hands me the black notebook as I continue to watch Lucien. Sixteen? Surely not. More like thirteen; if that. Lucien knows we are watching through the open door, but he's careful, no doubt well practiced, not to allow too many splashes of water to escape onto the dark red carpet. He's facing us now, head down, applying the gel to the last detail, carefully withdrawn, inspected, gently seen to, and now hooded and restored, his erotic little cameo ended. The seed of my idea is now planted.

I rang the Office number at Byrom House School. Luckily Mrs Mackenzie, the Secretary, was still there. I explained that I was delayed and I wouldn't be back in Devon until the following day. Anders had sent Lucien home to his mother, checked that he had arrived safely, and suggested I take him out for a light meal at a cheap restaurant around the corner. After that we went to bed and talked about those seven days . Anders turns onto his tummy as I, propped up on an elbow, trace lines down his back and around those uplands and downlands that had kindled my intense longing so long ago.

He smells clean and fresh as he makes space for my hands, never quite still, twisting and bending, expectant face now seen beyond the back of thighs, pushed back. Like the boat that slowly slips to its mooring, so am I guided. For him, a romance rekindled perhaps, and for me, an expression of love for the boy I had never forgotten, for the boy I had never stopped loving?

'You can Roo………if you want to?'

No I don't think so. Too soon, much too soon. Not just like that. You know I would love to, but this doesn't seem to be the right moment.

'Has this been your kind of life up here in London Anders? I want very much to catch up on everything, but London first; then what happened after our Seven Days?'

'Just the same then Roo? Still the same old you? When then?'

Four hours ago, he was still just a memory in my life, but now he's a reality once more. The unexpected twists and turns of life. Quite suddenly, through a turn of fate, everything is different, at least for me if not for him.

In the morning, the light trying to penetrate the thick dark red curtains, Anders explains the content of the black notebook. The book will reveal his life in London.

'I go to his house Roo. It's next to a church. Donald. He's nice and undemanding. He just wants to take my clothes off and see me semi-nude standing in front of him. We'll do the usual role play, and then he'll put me over his knee. All that sort of thing. You know, pants down and the usual apologies for having to do what he's has to do. I've been a naughty boy Roo. It's fun. The I stand in front of him. He enjoys it and so do I if I'm honest. He pays me fifty pounds cash for the hour, sometimes a little more if he hasn't quite finished. I always stay until he has. I never leave him until he's ready.'

'I noticed the Y fronts in the drawer Anders.' I say, with a chuckle.

'Oh yes, you noticed then. All part of the uniform.'

'And the others. Who's that for?'

'I go to one woman, in her fifties I would say. I do it in front of her. You know, kneeling with my pants down while she fiddles. Always the same stuff. It's seventy pounds with her. All my people, all men except Daphne, are by word of mouth. There are eight of them at the moment. None of them ever ask me to do anything unreasonable, or dangerous. I'm perfectly clean Roo. I promise you, I am.'

'Do you get checked?'

'Yes, every couple of months, but there's no need really. They are all very nice people. They just need a boy every week.'

'A curious way to make ends meet Anders?'

'I know. It's been a matter of needs must.'

'And what about Lucien? He's sweet. How did he come about?'

'I met him…..no, saw him on the station one morning looking obviously lost. Then he walked into the lavatories a couple of times. I spend a lot of time there before appointments and I'd never seen him before. He was a new one. I decided I would intervene. I got the story out of him by buying him food and drink. The family, such as it is, were up from Marseille. The father who is English brought them back to London. He then left the mother who has two other children. Lucien never got sorted out with a school and consequently wanders. He's been with me for a couple of months now. I look after him. I've met his mother, Simone, and she says keep him here. She can't cope. I send him home every ten days or so, and when he's here he sleeps with me. He needs some love Roo.'

'Sleeps with you?'

'Not that way Roo. Everything is under control I can assure you. Ok, there are the odd moments but it's not like that Roo. He knows what I do, which is a slight problem. We live underground really. Anyway he's sixteen.'

'He's not Anders.'

'Ok, but not far off. He's fine.'

'How far off?'

'I don't know. Near enough. Look, I have an appointment tonight. You are staying aren't you?'

'Yes I will if that's ok. Back later?'

'Yes. Around midnight. By the way, Lucien might turn up. Is that ok with you? I get the impression from him that he approves of you. He'll just cuddle up next to you. He'll assume it's me probably. Can I ask you a question? Don't answer if you don't want to, but will you find him more to your liking than me? Sorry to ask.'

'As well as, perhaps, but in different ways Anders. Two very different things at work. I'm a social worker, or was until very recently, so I act responsibly. We have to intervene with boys like Lucien, not suck their willies.'

'Oh, typical you Rufus.'

'So who is it then? Your appointment?'

'I go and see David's mother. Her son died a while back. It's nothing to do with sex.'

'So, why then?'

'I took care of David for quite a long time. He was disabled. I knew him from the age of twelve. He was never going to experience sex in the normal way. I wheeled him around the park each afternoon, and then we had bedroom time. I would undress him and get him into his bed. He needed certain things and I provided it. I thought it was his right and he shouldn't be denied. He was so loving. He deserved some back. In the end he couldn't enjoy that any more, but I still saw him until…..well, almost until the end.'

'So what did he need Anders?'

'It doesn't take a lot of imagination does it Rufus?'

'No, sorry. Shouldn't have asked.'

'It's ok. He needed to orgasm regularly, or wanted to. He couldn't do it himself, so I did it for him. He would play with my hair and ears whilst I saw to things. Do you want details?'

'If it helps?'

'Actually it was good. Afterwards I'd give him a sooth-over, back and front. That's what he called it. It took about a half hour and he'd be ready again. I'd never leave until he had it twice. He was very sweet.' Anders says with a smile.

Good for him. Anders went on with his story of his time with David, the nice things they did, and, very emotionally, the moment he kissed him goodbye. I held Anders for as long as he needed me. Ten minutes later I had a question….

'But has Lucien ever had a serious or doubtful encounter do you think……or anything you know of, or something you suspect he might not have told you about?'

'From what I can gather, no he hasn't, and certainly not since I've known him. But he will indulge in the usual boys' things here. Most mornings. I let him get on with it. Then they all do don't they? Just like we did? You wouldn't mind would you?'

Oh yes, the Seven Days of Play and Discovery. Plenty of that. And no I wouldn't mind. Not at all. Join the club Lucien.

It was exactly nine-thirty when the unlocked door to the flat opened and Lucien crept in. He saw me in the bed, and I'm mostly uncovered in the heat of the room. He wore a scruffy pair of jeans that were too short in the leg, a shirt, and what looked like a hand knitted patterned jumper over the top. He began to take the whole lot off down to his underpants that looked like they belonged to someone older, loose and out of fashion for a young boy. Then he reveals himself, kicking off the garment and walks the very short distance to the bed and gets in beside me. He immediately puts his arms around me. It was fourteen years ago when I last had a boy in my arms like this. Lucien felt cold and unloved as his body gave an involuntary shiver. No words were needed or even wanted. Slowly my body heat warms him and he begins to relax, legs stretching out, arms raised, followed by a series of yawns.

'Rufus?' He whispers.

'Yes Lucien?'

'Can I stay like this tonight?'

'Of course you can. Andersson will be back later. He won't mind, but he will need to come next to me. I'm not sure you should be where you are Lucien. You are lying very close to me Lucien but I'll try not to touch you.'

'But you won't move your arm will you? I like it where it is.'

When I told Lucien that I did need to move my right arm I had placed on his shoulder as he lay beside me, he lifted his body up. I slipped my left arm under his body and hooked it around his back as he naturally folded into me, making the boy like a wrapped parcel to warm him. We touched, quickly drew away as we realised, but then relaxed, accepting that this kind of touching is a very natural thing that bound to happen. Such sweet and erotic comfort. It might have been Anders all those years ago. But this isn't years ago, it's now. I know so little about this boy next to me. We are strangers, but somehow not strangers. O magnum mysterium.

Andersson nudged me awake early, around six thirty. Lucien had got himself back, I know not how, between Anders' body and mine. At some point in the early hours he had kicked off the duvet. Anders smiles and gestures towards Lucien's stretched out body, beautifully lean, thin almost, sunken tummy, pelvic bones prominent. But that's not all that's prominent.

'Pretty don't you think Rufus? Do you remember those times Roo? Waking up and having to do something about it?'

'Yes, and you're bang on there Anders. Might oaks from little acorns eh? Well, a mini oak with big acorns?'

'Just your cup of tea Roo.'

'Is that a statement of fact Anders, like you would know?'

'Well, am I right…..or am I wrong?'

'I suppose you want the honest truth this time?'

'Rather not be fobbed of in a cloud of smoke?'

'Then you're perfectly correct.'

Yes, admit it. A line of naked boys at the edge of the swimming pool. To me that's a pretty sight.

'He wouldn't mind Roo.'

Perhaps not. But there's a very large 'but' in there somewhere.

The boy is lying there with one hand wedged between his upper thighs just below his meaningful bits, forcing the two egg-shaped forms upwards, the skin stretched tightly, tiny veins, blue and red visible through transparent skin. Above that, not so much a mighty oak, but a spring sapling, again subtly veined, reaching for the stars.

'Really, he wouldn't mind. Probably wouldn't even wake him up. Did I look like that……then?'

'More or less, as you well know Anders. More or less.'

' More , surely?' He goads.

'Less I'd say. Do you think he shaves?'

'No he doesn't!'

'Hmm. A bit slow for sixteen isn't he?' I say, meaningfully. I know full well he's nowhere near sixteen.

When dear Lucien wishes, or needs to satisfy his personal needs, it will be by his own hand. Agreed? Yes, agreed. It had been that way before. But at that moment as we regard one of nature's marvels, nothing would have given me more pleasure, in the short term. In the longer term, Lucien shall decide his emotional destiny, not Anders, not me. I can see there's a problem here. It's obvious, and the solution is pretty obvious too. Andersson knows it. A lack of stability in both of their lives. I'm very tempted to 'phone Robin Goodlove about all this. He always has a cool head for 'situations'.

I came back with some things I had bought in Hammersmith for Lucien. He needs this stuff. I found the two of them sitting in the late morning sunshine on a bench in Little Venice. I had an important question for Andersson.

'Would you ever consider going back to Devon?'

'Why? What for? There's nothing there for me, no work, no nothing.'

'But if there was?'

'If there was, then yes of course I would consider it. You haven't told me what you do?'

I told him. So, in a nutshell; a degree in Sociology [Exon], three years with Devon County Council Social Services, a couple of minor promotions, a ridiculously heavy case load that could never be fully resolved, and consequential disillusionment and resignation to coincide with an interview with Mr Robin Goodlove, Principal of Byrom House School for an appointment that seemed according to the advert in the local paper, rather open-ended and with no job title but might be interesting. I badly needed an alternative to long-term depression trying to help families that did not want or were unable to be helped. I wanted the headache to go away, at least for a while. What Robin Goodlove was talking about seemed not just a way out, but exciting. A new start.

Lucien had opened the package, discretely, and looked inside. I feel a hand grip my arm.

'Can we go back to the flat please?'

Anders knows why I went shopping and nods to Lucien. He gives me the key. He knows this is something I want to do alone with Lucien.

'Something for you Lucien, that's yours. Next time you choose for yourself.'

A half-hour later. Show time.

'Can I show you Rufus?'

Of course you can, and all's well, if not perfect. A beautiful boy, enhanced by some nice new clothes. It was a start, but later that afternoon, hunting for more, we had come to an agreement. The boy emperor's new clothes were not to be worn anywhere near a public lavatory! But I know that promises one makes to oneself are easily broken. How many times have we resolved to be better, and then we fall once again. And here is temptation standing before me as I sit on the edge of the bed, he almost naked, excited by new things, excited by the compliment paid to him, self-worth emerging perhaps for the first time in years, fingers touching, aroused by the sheer pleasure it gives him, and the pleasure it gives me. I hear Anders' voice is in my ear, quietly telling me he wouldn't mind. Go on if you want to. He won't mind .'

I spend a few moments hearing those words so loud in my head. There's a beautiful flower at my feet. Something to be treasured and nurtured, not trodden on…..not wilfully damaged. I've seen enough of that.

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