When Shadows Pass

by Sean English

Chapter 10

The Quiet Before The Storm (Part II)

"I understand why you two are so close now," Jason told Elliot later that night.

Standing at their closet door, clad in only his briefs, he pulled a maroon-colored t-shirt over his head, all the while aware Elliot was watching him closely. Afterwards, he walked over and stretched out on the bed, staring at the ceiling as he relived those moments earlier with Derek. Elliot then quietly moved to the closet and stripped his own clothes. The day was finally ending. Since their episode in the shower, Jason had lost all inhibitions around his cousin now, and Elliot, who was already comfortable in that sense, couldn't be happier.

Jason lay in thought, when something Simon had once told him came to mind. "I think it's amazing, really."

"Oh, how so?" Elliot asked.

"Well, your Dad told me once that Natalie isn't Derek's mom, I think," Jason explained.

Elliot nodded. "Yeah, Derek's Mum lives in France, sometimes Spain. She moves around a lot." He wrinkled his nose as he donned his own t-shirt. "But we have the same Dad."

"That's what I think is amazing, though. Derek still treats Natalie as if she's his Mom, too," Jason agreed. As Elliot approached the bedside, Jason continued. "I mean, she accepts him as her son, just as much as you are. And you - you don't treat him any different than just being your brother. Not a half-brother or anything, but the whole thing."

Elliot paused, thinking briefly before shaking his head. "Yeah, so? Sorry Jase, I guess I don't see what you're leading up to," he remarked, climbing into the bed.

Jason rolled to face him. "I guess, I just find it really cool, you know? I would have never guessed it, if I didn't know about it. All of you, you're really there for each other, and it shows."

As Elliot stretched out, he finally nodded. "I think I understand what you mean, now." He shrugged. "I've said all along, he's my brother, just like you are now. I know, Jase, maybe we're not full blood brothers and all, but forget that stuff. In here..." He paused and tapped his fingers lightly to his chest. "In here, this is where you're at. Just like Derek, and just like Mum and Dad. You're a part of me on the inside. We're all the same blood, in some form or another, you know?"

Jason smiled. "Yeah, I understand. That's what is so awesome about this family." He watched as Elliot smiled before rolling up close to him. Elliot met him by wrapping both an arm and a leg around his cousin.

After a few minutes, Elliot grinned and whispered, "Speaking of which, what did you think of Derek tonight?"

"He seemed pretty cool, I think - I mean, not his - you know, just..." Jason said casually.

Elliot laughed at his cousin. "I told you he was big, didn't I? But yeah, the other, I know what you mean. For a long time, it was just me and him. He always watched out for me, I guess. He can be a real arse sometimes, but he has his good moments too."

"Tonight? Was that one of his moments, then?" Jason asked.

Elliot smiled. "Tonight, that was one of his coolest moments ever, yeah."

Jason nodded as he shifted, maintaining their closeness. "He seemed pretty awesome, I think. And yeah, you were right. He has a big you-know-what, too. Or at least, I guess so."

"Trust me, he does... it's bigger when he's boned up completely, too. To be honest, I'm surprised he didn't pop a full rod on you tonight! Especially when you grabbed him down there and all!" Elliot sighed. "Meh, wasn't the right moment, I guess."

"I guess so," Jason mused.

Elliot sat up. "So, what did you think? Was he, like, as good as me, or ... you know... down there? His willy and everything?" he asked, mischievously.

In response Jason giggled, but did not answer the question directly. "Honestly? I think it is cool how you guys have, like, all the skin and stuff. You know, on the end and all. He looked like he had more than you, even though he's bigger and everything."

"He does have more, but if he had popped a full boner, it wouldn't have looked like it was as much."

Jason thought about that. "Really?"

Elliot nodded. "Trust me, his dick gets bigger and longer. The skin only stretches so far, you know? His can't cover all of it directly. Not without help, anyway."

Jason giggled. "Wow... I guess didn't think about it that way." He turned his gaze to Elliot. "Is yours, umm, like that, too? When you're soft, I mean?" In all of their non-excitable moments, the two seemed to always end up at night under the veil of darkness. Though Jason had felt Elliot all over multiple times, seeing his cousin in a soft state was one thing that had escaped him thus far.

Elliot grinned. "Why don't you find out now?" he whispered. Reaching down, he pulled his waistband out just a bit, extending an invitation. Jason smirked, but then gazed down at the gap in the teen's groin. Deciding to accept, he hooked his own fingers at the front, and pulled the band out and down. In the soft light, it revealed that Elliot was in a soft state, and what appeared to be a lot more skin than Jason remembered. He leaned in, peering up close for a few seconds, before gently letting go and leaning back. "You're crazy sometimes, you know that?"

"Yeah, but I'm only crazy around you," Elliot replied softly as he leaned in and nuzzled his cousins' ear before settling back.

"I like that," Jason whispered in response. "Why, though? Why be crazy just around me?"

Elliot hesitated briefly before shrugging. "I guess because I was a lot like you. Seriously, um, it wasn't that long ago I was sort of just noticing things, too, you know? So, I kind of think I know how you feel about stuff right now. See, I've already had plenty of people to look at and compare and everything, and I've had Derek, too. I know you haven't, though, and... just knowing you're interested, especially with me, well ... it makes me feel good and all."

Jason wrinkled his nose but blushed all the same. "Okay, okay, I get it. I guess I have a kind of weakness or something then."

Elliot laughed at his cousin. "Nah, not a weakness, Jase. Even if you do, I don't care, because I love it! Besides, I love watching your curiosity and stuff. And hey, I'm still that way, too. Even now. I look at you a lot, you know?"

Jason smirked as he stared into the eyes meeting his own. "Really? I wonder why that is." Before Elliot could reply, Jason leaned in and rubbed noses with him.

Elliot, however, was not letting it go that easily. "I don't know why, honest. But I do know what makes me horny, thinking about it."

"What's that?" Jason whispered.

Elliot leaned in and in a barely audible tone, whispered into his cousin's ear. "You do." He watched Jason blush again before he leaned back, giggling. "I like seeing you blush, you know that?"

"I don't..." Jason hesitated, before continuing. "I don't really understand why, though. I mean, about me, but I can live with it. You make me that way, too."

They lay there in each other's arms for a moment before Elliot sighed, changing the subject. "Did you get your, you know, report for the bitch done?"

Jason shook his head. "I'm not going to do it. I had enough of her show today, and I'm not going to stand up in front of everyone just to get humiliated again. Remember what she said we have to write about? 'Why I Failed to Do My Homework'. That's just a lame excuse to force me to embarrass myself more, I think."

"I know, but she'll give you another 'F'. You know that, right? She'll probably try to eat you alive all the same."

Jason nodded. "Doesn't matter, though. She would give me an 'F' anyway. Seriously, I don't really care now. I did the best I could on that thing. If I did write something else up, with how I honestly feel, she wouldn't like it anyway. In the end I would just get the same grade, so why bother? She said we'd have to stand up and read it out loud, and I can just see her now. She wouldn't even let me get through my first whole sentence with stopping me, who knows how many times. Right? So, what's the point?"

Elliot frowned, but nodded his understanding. Jason smiled at him. "It's not the first bad grade I'll get Elliot, and it certainly won't be the last. I just... I don't want to play that game with her. I do my best, and if it isn't good enough, then it just isn't."

"Okay Jase, I understand," Elliot replied softly.

Jason turned his gaze to the ceiling before speaking again. "Sorry Elliot, but, can I ask you something else? About while ago, I mean?"

"Sure," Elliot replied.

Jason paused, choosing his words carefully. "Did you expect Derek to, like, flash us and all that tonight? I mean, I'm sorry but - I got to ask, because... well... Were you trying to get him naked or something, for - for me?"

Elliot smiled, but shook his head. "Nope. Honest, we were horsing around, that's all, and it just kind of happened. I promise, no hidden motives or anything. Besides, like I told you before, he doesn't care. Honest - he knew what he was doing. He could have told me to stop and fuck off at any time he wanted, too. While we were wrestling, I mean. He knows I would have done it, but he didn't, he just let us hang out. He didn't care if I stripped his arse naked or not. See? Even with you in there, he knew you were there and everything. He trusted you, too."

Jason face had a look of awe. "I think it's so cool to have a brother like that. I mean, you know? I never knew what fun horsing around that way would be like. Forget the sex stuff, just having that... that..."

"Closeness and stuff? Yeah, I know what you mean, Jase. You don't have to explain everything. Even WITH the sex stuff, it's not like I'm going to think everything you say has some kind of dirty meaning behind it, okay? Not like you do with me, anyway!" Both giggled at that. Elliot saw his cousin start to retort, but he shook his head. "I'm teasing, Jase. Chill out!" He leaned in close again. "I tried to tell you this before, remember? Derek and I are close, that's all. Over here, different families do things in different ways. There are some families where the kids can't stand one another, always fighting or something, you know? But here, in our family, Mum sort of taught and made us learn to like each other. I will never admit it in front of her, mind you, but I'm kind of glad she did. I told you, he can be a dick sometimes, but meh - I love my brother. In return, I think he loves me, too. And like tonight, yeah - he can be pretty cool, too."

Elliot paused and sat up. "I'll tell you something else, too. Just so you know, I'm not trying to get anyone naked for you. Really, I don't have to. I told you before, you'll see plenty enough, and like Derek said, probably soon. I'll also never try to just get you naked again. Honest, even in front of me, I won't push or anything if you don't want to. You've already proven you're no prude, and I think you're going to be surprised when you find most of us guys aren't either. Just remember what Derek and me told you, okay? It's different here - people are going to see you, but big deal. You're going to see them, too." Leaning in again, he lowered his voice and added into Jason's ear, "Just please don't forget you liked me first, and it's me you have to sleep with every night!"

Jason snickered. "I won't forget that. Especially since it is so much a part of us now." Turning, he leaned in close until their noses touched again, before slowly moving back and forth, nuzzling them together. When he saw no resistance, he closed the distance even further and planted a very soft kiss on Elliot's lips, one that lingered for a long time as they lightly breathed each other in. It was Jason's way of telling his cousin how much he still trusted him, and that nothing had changed. Elliot got the message, softly kissing him back. "Besides," Jason whispered, "who says I might not want you to? How do you know I won't get you naked in front of me?"

Elliot grinned and blushed, admiring their moment. "You really know how to make me happy, don't you?" he teased. Looking at the other boy, he grinned. "What have I turned you into?" he mused aloud.

Jason replied, "I hope a brother, a real brother." Elliot reached out and hugged the other youth warmly. Hearing those words, Elliot straddled his legs around Jason again, pulling him close. It was the warmness they shared with one another that he liked best, knowing few people - at least boys - would ever understand. As he nuzzled Jason's neck, a whimper escaped him, and it spoke volumes about how Elliot was feeling. Jason heard it too, and it struck a chord deep within his heart again.

Turning out the light, Elliot snuggled up to Jason's side under the covers, before pushing his hand up inside his cousin's t-shirt. Finding his favorite spot, he thought he could just make out the heartbeat underneath. Whether he could really feel it or not was inconsequential. As they lay there in silence, feeling each breath Jason took had a calming effect like none other. It made Elliot feel so happy, and as he thought about what Jason had just told him, a lump developed in his throat again. He lay his head on his cousin's shoulder, and then was thrilled when Jason placed an arm around him. There they lay in silence for a time, each thinking their own thoughts.

At one point, however, Elliot thought Jason had fallen asleep. That is, until he became aware of something slowly, but steadily, pushing its way into his elbow. In no time, he realized that the crook of his arm lay just at the waistline of Jason's underwear. What was stirring beneath was unmistakable, gradually growing harder and slowly beginning to throb.

Elliot turned his head so that he could see Jason's outline in the shadows. There, he could just make out the trace of an unmistakable grin greeting him back. He also felt a throbbing of his own, somewhere else growing bigger.

"You want to?" Jason asked, whispering.

"Really? Fuck yeah, I want to! Do you?" Elliot replied in the barest of whispers.

In answer, Jason grasped Elliot's hand and pushed it inside his own underwear, right on top of his now raging boner. He then reached over to cup Elliot's own excited member. "Oh yeah, and for once, I think I might be fully loaded again..."

A short time later, Elliot found out just how true that was.

Eric Dewayne Williams was limping as he entered the school yard the next morning. It was a characteristic so unnatural for him that several students stopped and gawked at him as he approached the main doors. Two first years who had been standing with their backs to him, were shoved aside as the stocky teen bowled his way between them. One fell to the ground while another, miraculously, spun and kept his balance. "Hey, you jerk!" he cried out - that is, until he saw the size of the older boy glaring back over his shoulder. Quickly the two recovered and removed themselves from the scene as rapidly as possible.

Inside the main hallway, people who saw Eric approach were quick to give the brute plenty of space. The scowl he wore was all people needed to see in order surmise how fowl his mood was. Turning down one corridor after another, he headed toward the far side of the building for his locker, his limp favoring his left leg considerably. Upon finally reaching the cramped compartment, he roughly handled the lock in place, and had to spin the combination more than once before the door finally opened. Eric's patience, already stretched to beyond endurance, began muttering and swearing under his breath. Those nearby cleared away quickly, with no desire to hang around.

Extracting a ragged notebook, Eric slammed the door so hard the adjacent locker jarred its own lock free and swung open. Any other time he would have smirked, perhaps rummaged the unit this time. This time, however, he ignored it and turned to retreat the way he had come in.

Although slightly under 2-meters in height, the burly youth sported massive frame of muscles and bulk, somewhat conditioned over recent years from working out using various weights and gym equipment. Eric was proud of his achievement, which was about the only claim to fame he had in this reprehensible, foul forsaken school. Known throughout the school as one seriously, short-tempered individual, many students had fallen prey to Eric's mood swings ever since his junior years. The headmasters' office was no strange to him, having visited it more times than he could count. For whatever the offense, it had become a part of his normal, everyday life. Enough where anymore, he simply didn't care.

From food fights, name calling, inciting riots and arguing with teachers, the offenses ranged wide. Perhaps the most serious was the outright bullying and fighting Eric did with the other kids. He didn't care what their age was. After having failed one grade year, and having bridged other courses remedially because lackluster grades, it mattered to him little anymore.

The level of intimidation Eric exhibited, however, extended far beyond that of just the student body. Custodians, coaches and teachers were all wary of his presence, a fact that gave Eric extreme satisfaction. In most classes, he bullied his way out of most assignments, and never did any of the projects. What he did do was sleep - or sit back and hum mindless tunes. He had a small circle of peers he would hang out with on occasion, but they did nothing to improve matters. Between them and himself, Eric was notorious for consistently disrupting lessons in any manner he could get away with. Teachers often argued over how to handle him in staff meetings, and Mrs. Filch had little patience remaining. No matter how many lectures, how many notes home, or how many detentions he received, none could convince the burly teen to buckle down. So, instead, most passed him beyond their classes - albeit barely - so that he would advance to the next grade, hopefully beyond their reach.

In other words, if they were lucky - Eric would become someone else's problem.

Most unfortunate, however, was the time at hand. On this particular morning, Eric entered his homeroom just as the bell began to ring. Strolling through the door, he knocked aside two girls ahead of him, who happened to also be rushing in. Eric sneered as he shoved his way past, recognizing who they were but caring less, as usual. Geraldine Troops, the homeroom teacher, happened to glance up at just that moment, however. The middle-aged lady frowned at what she saw before shaking her head. Seeing one of the young ladies' stumble to her knees, books and packs flying forward, and seeing the lack of indifference on Eric's face, gave her little doubt to the deliberateness of the act. 'This is going to be one of those days,' she thought to herself, before rearing up to her full height. "Mr. Williams!" she called out, rather loudly. "Stop right there, young man!"

At first Eric simply ignored her. He was already a third of the way to reaching the back row by that time, and he clearly was not in the mood to deal with her shrilly presence just then. Seeing this, the frustrated woman reached down and grasped an overly large textbook into her hands. Slamming it hard onto the floor, it had the effect that was every bit as loud as a popping gunshot. The sound reverberated harshly throughout the room, startling the students into sudden silence. As they watched, the woman began taking very measured steps toward her target. "Eric Williams, stop in the name of all that is Holy, or I will personally see to it you don't sit down again for the rest of this bloody week!"

In the silence that followed, Eric stopped where he was and shut his eyes. Steeling his resolve with a deep breath, he turned and observed the matron with as much contempt as he could muster. Eric at least had the good sense to remain silent, as any utterance might have deepened his predicament. Ms. Troops approached him unfazed, ignoring his obvious attempts to intimidate and stare her down. It was not the first time this student and teacher had come face-to-face, and she knew most likely it would not be the last. Matching his leer, she stood steadfast as she came within a foot of him and stopped. Each of her next words were enunciated clearly, her voice heightened with the frustration she struggled to control. "The - next - time - I - tell - you - to - stop, you - WILL - obey - ME!" She had almost jabbed him in the chest with her pointed finger, but she restrained herself. The two glared at each other a full minute, before the youth finally relented and backed away, dropping his gaze to the floor.

Geraldine was no fool, however. Knowing Eric as she did, this young man did not need to be let loose into the school just then. She glanced sideways long enough to see that both girls had recovered their belongings and were beginning to stand up. "Are you two alright?" she asked gently, to which both nodded in return. Returning her attention to Eric again, she reached out and took the youth firmly by his elbow. He did not resist as she guided the large bulk beside her, steering him out into the hallway and up against the wall. "I'll give you one opportunity Mister Williams, right now," she hissed. "And I sincerely advise you to use it wisely in answering me: What is your problem this morning?"

The youth leaned back and sneered at her. "Go to hell, bitch!" he breathed.

It was everything Ms. Troops could do to keep from rearing back and slapping the teenager as hard as she could. Common sense, however, suppressed her initial reaction. Instead, she grasped the elbow again and was going to pull him back into the hall. Eric, however, roared and jerked it out of her grasp. Just then Andrew Haynes, Eric's current gym teacher, happened to walk by and witness the exchange. "Eh, what's this? Eric being a little testy this morning, I take it?"

Ms. Troops smiled grimly. "Mr. Williams has decided to be a rather ostentatious smart arse this morning, Andrew. After coming into homeroom and shoving students to the floor, he then proceeded to imply my heritage was somewhat canine-borne," she replied. "Furthermore, it appears he has decided another visit to the headmaster's office isn't out of place for today, either." She cocked her head curiously to one side. "And if I have anything to say about it, calling out such canine relations as he just did to me, should probably put him away into detention for the rest of the week. Wouldn't you agree?"

Andrew turned to face Eric with a look of incredulity. "You didn't! You did?" An all assuming expression took shape on Mr. Haynes face. "Okay, let's go."

Eric glanced at his gym teacher with uncertainty. It was clear to both adults the boy was attempting to size up the situation. It wasn't until Ms. Troops turned to respond, that Andrew interrupted. "As you know, Geraldine, I have no homeroom these mornings. I will see that our dear friend Eric, here, gets to his appropriate destination. I'll also let the headmistress know what has transpired. You can come down later and decide what his discordance will be."

Ms. Troops smiled and hesitated only slightly, before she kindly thanked the coach. Before turning back to her classroom, she paused and called across the hallway to them, "Have him sent to detention, Mr. Haynes. As you say, I'll deal with him shortly." Turning her back on Eric, she quietly reentered the classroom and closed the door.

Mr. Haynes slowly shook his head. "Eric, I do believe son, you've reached the end of your nine-lives as a cat." He then proceeded to guide Eric down the hallway.

With his eyes tightly shut, Eric did something totally uncharacteristic of his usual routine: he tried to purposefully calm himself down. There was so much anger built up that morning, rising and receding as if in cycles, that taxed him in ways he hadn't predicted. Deep within, Eric knew he had no desire to face it uncontrolled. For years he had been in and out of anger therapy, with little to no improvement. His foster parents, multiple foster parents at that, over time tried to get him into managed counseling before it was too late - but it was to no avail. Little helped to control the rage that manifested itself, continuously looking for outlets to leash out.

Fortunately, with his bullish personality set aside, Eric was intelligent enough to know that, if he did not find some way to deal with I, his future would have catastrophic consequences. It wasn't that skirmishes with the law were nonexistent. Eric already had a rap sheet filled with misdemeanors. To date, however, they had just remained at that: misdemeanors, hosted by a troubled youth with a short temper. Eric's anger had become increasingly uncontrollable in the last 12 months, however, and his actions on this morning were all but what he would have expected - on any other day.

Of course, the morning had already been fraught with several surprises. Today was, supposedly, his 17th birthday, from the best anyone could figure out. It had meant that today he could be - finally - a free man, unchained to a society that despised him. Eric had packed the night before, intending to sleep the night as usual, but arise and exit the gloomy household he had to call 'home' for the last time.

Eric had made it as far as the kitchen before he was stopped. The burly frame of Felton Peaks, his foster parent in charge, stood in his way at the door. When Felton asked where Eric thought he was going, the young man merely grimaced and said nothing. Instead, he attempted to side-step the man and make his break for freedom.

It was no small feat that Mr. Peaks grasped the boy and held him back, almost vice-like, in one of his signature moves. The man worked as a prison guard, and by virtue of the trade, often maintained his physically fit figure by working out steadily every day, and by subsisting on a high-protein diet. Felton stood almost a half-head taller than Eric, which came in handy often. Although Eric was stocky and muscular himself, he was no match for this man, and he knew it.

The two argued and fought briefly, before Felton forced Eric to sit down at the table. Eric attempted, at one opportune moment, to escape and make a break for it again, but Felton was ready for him. It had not been the first time Eric had tried such antics. Returning Eric to the chair, he noted how the boy muttered every obscenity he could manufacture at the man, who just patiently waited until his younger charge settled down. Eventually, Eric obeyed, and the two then agreed to sit across from one another.

Felton reminded his charge that, although he was indeed considered seventeen, he was already on an extensive probation agreement. It was one that would not release him from custody until the end of the school year, at best. Eric, of course, knew this. He had heard it before in many conversations of recent weeks, from his foster family, his therapists, and more. Eric could care less, however; he was done with this miserable life, the crappy school and the hell-bent hounds he had to put up with every day. Eric was seventeen - SEVENTEEN! That made him legally of age now! As far as he was concerned, Eric could do whatever the hell he wanted!

Not so, however, according to the man sitting across from him that morning. Felton explained once more, mustering as much patience as he could, that if he walked out the door, if he left preemptively, he would be arrested. Repeatedly, Felton asked Eric if that was what he wanted. If so, he would gladly let him go. There was little love between the two, and Felton expressly explained that fact in more ways than one. Eric was there as a last resort, because no one else wanted to deal with him and his piss-filled mouthing off. To be this close to managed freedom, did he really want to blow it all?

Eric's trouble with the law had cost him his liberty, meager as it was, from several months prior. The judge, in his case, was at his wits end - having had the youth cross his bench for several years in bouts of trouble. From his record, Eric had been in more than a half-dozen boys homes and foster residences, all ending with the same result. Only when Mr. Peaks stepped up and offered a last resort, did the judge decide it might be worthwhile. Felton had worked successfully with troubled youths before. Being employed by the prison system gave the man some distinct advantages.

His tenure with Eric, however, had not been all that successful. It was a constant nightmare, getting phone calls all hours of the night, where the boy had sneaked out and went hell-raising around the city. It was also a constant struggle, getting Eric to realize where he was headed if he didn't get a grip on himself. There were times it seemed to get through, but it would be no time at all before Eric was once again as before.

For this morning, however, Eric knew if he left, before the day was out there would be uniformed police all over him, most likely resulting in his incarceration. That meant the pen, where Eric had no doubt, where Peaks was charged over the staff. Seeing the lack of attentiveness caused Peaks at one point to scream in Eric's face, drawing him out of his stubborn. Felton reminded Eric that, if he thought living with him was a hell-hold, wait until he arrived there.

Felton Peaks was trying to do the young man a favor. The man had been trying to reason with Eric the only way he had left. Although he abhorred intimidation, it seemed Eric responded to nothing else. Felton had fostered several teenagers in the past, but never one as stubborn, or born with a certain lack of common sense, then this one. Felton had already dreaded this day for weeks, knowing it would be a troublesome day. It was the reason Felton had started the night before, camping himself out in the kitchen and waiting for morning to arrive. He disliked rough-housing the young man, knowing that ultimately it only reinforced the abuse Eric had received in years past. But a softer approach, combined with simple reasoning, had gotten them nowhere. Felton's attempts to head this confrontation off, was a testament to that fact. In what could have become their most desperate hour, Felton had already decided there could be no backing down. If Eric went through the door with his belongs, meager as they were, he had to turn him over to the authorities.

Felton had finally gotten Eric's attention. What surprised him most, however, was finding not hatred and loathing in the eyes that met him, but fear, and - something else. The man backed away then and moved to Eric's side. In a softer tone, he made one last attempt to get Eric to understand his situation - and for some reason, it took hold. Eric closed his eyes and eventually, somewhere in what followed, began nodding in understanding. Enough so that he relented, and then agreed. Felton studied the boy closely, looking for signs of betrayal, but he saw none. As Eric had calmed down considerably by then, Felton came to the conclusion that maybe, perhaps, it was for the best.

How Eric had left the house and headed for school, he could not remember. He could only recall being on the sidewalk, moving along and thinking about what the day represented for himself. He was SEVENTEEN! The more he focused on that fact, the more adrenaline seemed to fuel his thoughts. He was once again annoyed, then furious at how he felt cheated. He should be free to his own pleasures by now. He was so sick of school! That fact, combined with how his dreams had been crashed yet again, only fueled the mood to become uglier.

In detention, Eric sat still until the bell rang, and then opened his eyes. To his surprise, he found there was only one other person in the room with him. As Eric observed to teen, he immediately drew a dislike to him. The boy looked scrawny, weak, and most definitely two to three years younger than himself. For whatever reason, the youth had chosen to sit near the front, clearly away from him, which fueled an even deeper dislike overall. At that moment, the boy was bent over, his head lying on the desktop in a feeble attempt at dozing.

Their monitor, a teacher assigned to watch over them for that period, entered the room at the bell and closed the door. It was a man Eric had never seen before but didn't pay it any heed. The school, though not overly large, had several instructors and teachers that were often coming and going as needed. The man cleared his throat and introduced himself with a name unheard of, before explaining he was a substitute. Observing both boys in the room carefully, he finished by informing them he would be watching most of the morning. 'Really? Eric thought, snickering at the man for stating the most obvious of facts. The man ignored him, however, and intoned both boys to mind their manners, keep strict silence and he wouldn't bugger them if they didn't bugger him. That last statement told Eric all he needed to know about the jerk. Of course, most all their teachers were jerks anyway, as far as he was concerned.

Watching the other student raise his head back and yawn, Eric scoffed. However, things changed dramatically when the boy turned to view his fellow inmates. Catching a glimpse, Eric suddenly started. He had heard stories already from the day before, about some gay kid getting called out, in one of the classes in front of his classmates. For some reason or another, the description fit this one to a tee. Eric's eyes narrowed just then, and all sense of contriteness now evaporated.

Although separated by several rows, Eric steadily tore a sheet of paper from his ragged notebook. Scribbling a message onto it, he then quickly folded the paper into a rough airplane. He waited patiently and was then rewarded when the teacher turned away for a moment. Launching quick and decisively, Eric sent the message flying across the distance, rapidly popping a bullseye right on the back of the other boy's head.

Startled, the teen whirled around, all the while rubbing the spot where contact had been made. Seeing the airplane, however, already fallen to the floor, he was confused until he noticed the writing. Retrieving the paper and pulling it closer, he read the short, sloppy script: 'You're the boy fucker, right?'

Even before the widened eyes rose to meet his own, Eric knew he had guessed right. He saw the surprise, observed the body language. There was no mistake: instead of rage or denial, it was replaced by a certain acceptance and understanding. Their eyes met then, and the teenager simply sent a wordless response to Eric by giving him a rude, pointedly middle-finger gesture. He then turned his back and proceeded to ignore the brute.

All of this happened in the space of only seconds, and it was already over by the time the room monitor looked up from his perch. The overseer noted the mutinous look of rage on the burly teen's face. However, closer inspection revealed nothing amiss. He assumed it was because the bigger teen was either ignorant or annoyed at having to spend his morning there. Sighing, he returned to his duties, oblivious to what had just taken place.

And what had just taken place, was nothing to be oblivious about...

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