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The Pretenders

by c m

Chapter 1

I've always loved dressing up. From as far back as I can remember, my favourite item in the whole house has been the Ottoman that's filled with old clothes, bits of discarded fancy dress, disused curtains and sheets, out-of-fashion accessories, an array of costume jewellery, spectacles, part-used make-up, belts, boots, and various odds and ends of all sorts.

Whenever my parents returned from overseas business trips, they always brought some item of local clothing rather than made-for-tourist souvenirs. My favourite is the red and white checked keffiyeh headscarf that Dad brough back from Egypt – although the Stetson from the USA is pretty good too.

Up to the age of about twelve, whenever friends came round, our favourite way to spend time was to make up stories about pirates or adventurers or cowboys and then act them out dressed in whatever items we could find in the Ottoman that helped us spin and decorate the web of the fantasy world we invented.

No surprise, then, that both I and my best friend Robbie graduated to Amateur dramatics from the age of about thirteen. My parents' best friends, the Whitehouse's, are the power behind the Roundaway Players and, like most am-dram groups, they were - and still are - desperately short of younger members. Which means Robbie and I are increasingly valued members of the group.

At sixteen, we still don't get to play the major roles in any of the twice-yearly productions that the Players put on, but we are gradually getting bigger parts each time, and the older members now trust us to remember our lines - and we get a growing number of compliments about our acting abilities.

And then, of course, there's the annual Pantomime.

This year it's very loosely based on Romeo & Juliet, and has been written by one of the Players. That probably sounds a bit weird, but it's actually quite good. Plenty of funny jokes and slapstick – and several new characters that Shakespeare would have been surprised to encounter.

It's also a bit more daring, in that Romeo and Juliet are now Romeo and Jules – a gay couple. Robbie has been asked to play Romeo, which is a bit annoying as I'd have liked that role, but he's my best friend so that's cool. But what's REALLY annoying is that I haven't even been chosen to play Jules. I am playing Mercutio, which isn't a bad part, actually, but not as good as playing Jules, where I'd have had the chance to cuddle up with Robbie – something we've just started doing off-stage as well. It's very much our secret, but we've started to feel our way, almost literally, to the recognition that we want to be more than just best friends. Or at least I do. I'm not sure if Robbie is just enjoying experimenting or if there's more to it than that, but even if there is, neither of us is out – and the supreme irony is that the reason I wasn't given the part of Jules is because the lady casting the piece thought he and I might be uncomfortable playing a gay couple when we were 'obviously' straight in real life and best friends. The saving grace is that the part of Jules has gone to a girl, so at least I don't need to feel jealous. Apparently, according to the Director, this is also to emphasise the notion of gender fluidity. Whatever.

I'm still coming to terms with the realisation that I'm gay. I've tried so hard to suppress it. Not because I think it's wrong but because I don't want to disappoint my parents. Whilst they are tolerant of homosexuality, I know that deep down inside they see it as not properly normal. They are people of faith, and although not fundamentalist in any way, I sense that they almost feel sorry for people who are gay rather than being able to embrace them as an equal part of God's creation. I mean, I know they'll accept it if and when I tell them…they won't stop loving me or anything…but I know that it will disappoint them – and I so want them to be proud of me.

And I've tried so hard. But now that Robbie and I have started doing stuff together, it's like the dam inside me has broken. I know that I feel things for him that are way more than two friends experimenting. And I know I want to do a whole lot more with him than just some mutual masturbation. But I don't know how Robbie feels. Apart from what we've started doing, he hasn't shown any obvious signs of being gay. But then neither have I, I suppose. I have no idea what to do. But I know that I'd rather stop doing what we do, exciting and wonderful though it is, than lose him as a friend.

Hey ho.

But back to the Panto…

The part of the traditional pantomime Dame has been given to the character of the Nurse who, in the original play, raised Juliet. One of the traditions that the Director has kept is that the Dame is played by a man - in this case a stalwart of the Players, Michael Knight. But earlier today Michael had a stroke and is now in hospital. We are already two months into rehearsals and the opening night is less than four weeks away. It also so happens that I have acquired something of a reputation for not only knowing my own lines, but those of most of the rest of the cast as well. Don't ask me how I do it, I don't know; it just happens. By the time I've heard people saying their lines about a dozen times, it sticks in my brain. But Michael being unwell is a problem; the Nurse is the biggest part in the Panto.

The start of tonight's rehearsal has been delayed as a result of Michael's stroke, and Robbie and I are sitting off to one side in the village hall – which is where we rehearse - whilst the situation is being discussed by the Committee members. I see glances being directed towards where we're sitting. Eventually, Jonny Whitehouse, my parents' friend and Chairman of the Players, comes over to us.

'Jase, as you know, Michael's out of the Panto and recasting the Nurse at this stage is a hell of a headache given all the lines the part has. We wondered if you'd like to give it a shot? I'm pretty certain you know most, if not all, the lines and recasting Mercutio would be a whole lot easier. I know it's a lot to ask, but….'

I can scarcely believe my ears. You bet I'd like to give it a shot. The Dame is the best part in any Panto, and she usually has most of the best lines and gets most of the biggest laughs. This is an easy decision.

'I'd love to,' I say.

'Really? Well, that's wonderful. We're probably going to have to bulk you out a bit – the Dame needs to be on the large side – but we've time to work on that…some pillows or something…anyway, thank you so much for agreeing to give it a go.'

He returns to give the good news to the rest of the committee.

'Dame, eh?' says Robbie, 'good for you – you deserve it, you're a way better actor than me. God knows why I was given the role of Romeo rather than you.'

'I think it has to do with the fact that Lisa fancies you something rotten, and, as the daughter of the person doing the casting, this means that in the role of Jules she gets to snog you on stage.'

'But I don't fancy her.'

'I don't suppose she cares, or maybe she hopes that this might bring you together. I'm pretty sure that she likes you enough – given half a chance - to sort out any sexual frustrations you might have, if you know what I mean.'

'Yuck. I have some pride, you know. And anyway, right now I'm happy with the way I'm sorting out my sexual frustrations.'

He grins, and then reaches forward and squeezes the front of my trousers.

'Behave yourself! Someone will see!'

'Sorry…but it's true.'

'Yes, well, that will just have to keep for later.'

He sighs.

'I know, Jase, but…ever since we started…doing what we do…I want to do it all the time. It just feels so damn good.'

'I know, and me too, Robbie - but we have to be careful.'

He nods.

'But while we're sort of on the subject,' he says, 'is it OK for you sleep over on Saturday?'

My turn to grin.

'Sorry, meant to tell you. Yes. Mum and Dad have no objections.'

His smile gets bigger.

'So, just you me and little bro. Once he's in bed….'

'Can't wait.'

'Me either.'

At this point Jonny Whitehouse claps his hands and makes the announcement that I will be stepping into the role of the Nurse. There is polite applause from the rest of the cast. And then the reality of what I've agreed to do strikes me.

For a first time, it actually doesn't go too badly. The lines are pretty much there, but there is a lot more to playing the part of the Dame than I'd realised. The seasoned pros in the cast offer help and advice, and do so in a totally unpatronizing way - apart from Nigel Makepeace who thinks he's God's gift - although this is a uniquely personal perspective as most of the rest of us think he's a tosser. As I deliver the closing line of the play, I sense a mutual breathing out, as if the rest of the cast had been holding their breath to see if it was going to work – or be a disaster.

'Jolly well done, Jase,' says Jonny, 'top notch for a first try. I'll add an extra session to go through some of the 'business' aspects of the role, but you should be very pleased with yourself.'

'Thanks,' I say. And I am, indeed, pretty pleased with how it went for a first attempt.

The only other teenager in the cast – who was playing Eros, one of the new characters the writer has introduced into the Panto – has stepped into the role of Mercutio, but he still needs to learn the lines. And there is no-one to take over the role of Eros yet – not that it's very demanding; Eros only has half a dozen lines, and is there to represent the love that exists between Romeo and Jules when they are on stage rather than to do anything more. Indeed, he spends most of his time holding a bow and arrow on top of a small column. This is also, apparently, significant according to the Director – but significant of what I have absolutely no idea.

Jonny Whitehouse comes over to us as we're preparing to leave.

'Robbie, I don't suppose that's there any chance your younger bro might consider stepping into the breach to play Eros for us? I know he's done some acting at school…'

Robbie shrugs his shoulders.

'I can certainly ask, but no guarantees.'

'That's fine, I completely understand if he says 'no', but it would be great if you could ask. The alternative is probably to cut the role completely.'

Robbie's younger brother is called Kai. He's fourteen, and slim and rather good-looking in a slightly feminine kind of way. I like Kai and I've got to know him quite well over the years that Robbie and I have been friends. A far as I know, he has no reason to suspect that Robbie's and my relationship has shifted from being just best friends to something rather more than that in the course of the past three months. He seems to like me too – and he virtually hero-worships his older brother.

When Robbie asks him if he'd be prepared to play the part of Eros, he says 'yes' without a second's thought.

Saturday comes around. There's a rehearsal for the first half of the Panto arranged for 10.30, so I take my overnight bag of stuff with me to the village hall; Robbie's Mum will pick us up at 12.30 once the rehearsal is over, and I'll spend the rest of the afternoon with Robbie. And the evening. And the night. Robbie's parents are attending a Charity Ball in London and will be staying over in the hotel where it's being held.

The rehearsal goes well - and Kai, in his first go in the role of Eros, is more than competent. I suspect he has the makings of a really good actor, not that he has much chance to show it off as Eros. Once we come off stage, Mrs. Parkinson, the lady looking after costumes, takes Kai and me to one side; the other members of the cast already have their costumes either prepared, or in the process of being made or adjusted from those used in previous performances - the Players have a room full of just such costumes accumulated over the years. But the costume prepared for Michael is, of course, much too big for me and will need adjusting, and Kai needs to try on the costume prepared for Eros. Given that Kai is a lot taller and slimmer than the boy who was playing the part, I suspect there will need to be changes to that as well.

Mrs. Parkinson takes some measurements.

'This may be something of a challenge, Jase,' she says, 'but I'll do my best. Try this on.'

She pulls out what looks like a large cushion with shoulder straps and a waist tie. She helps me put it on and then drapes the nurse's costume over the top. I look in the mirror and can't help but laugh. I look at Kai and he bursts into laughter as well. It looks as though I've put on about four stone.

'Not perfect,' says Mrs. Parkinson, 'but a good start. I'll do some work on the costume and we'll try again on Wednesday. Now, Kai. Would you mind trying on this T-shirt and these shorts.'

Kai strips off his shirt and trousers. Standing there in just his underwear he has a good body which I can't help but admire. And his tight-fitting briefs suggest that he's already pretty well-developed in that department. Which figures, given my knowledge of what his brother's been gifted with. Mrs. Parkinson passes him a lilac-coloured shirt with the word 'Love' emblazoned on it in black which he slips on. It's not a bad fit. The cut-off denim shorts are a different matter. They are much too big in the waist and, on Kai, very short in the leg. Mrs. Parkinson tuts.

'I can adjust the waist, but I can't do anything about the length. Do you have anything in your own wardrobe that might be a better fit, Kai?'

Kai shakes his head. 'No…these aren't really my sort of thing.'

'I'll have a word with the Director. Hold on.'

She returns with Victor Summers, the Director. Victor runs an appraising eye up and down Kai in his T-shirt and shorts – which Kai is holding up with one hand.

'Get the waist to fit and actually I think that's perfect,' he says. 'Makes him almost a slutty Eros, which is fine. Would you be OK with wearing them that length, Kai, if we can get the waist to fit?'

Kai just shrugs. 'Fine by me.'


He turns to Mrs. Parkinson.

'Do we have, or can you source, some knee-length rainbow socks. I think that will help make the point that Eros is the God of gay love as well.'

I note a fractional raising of Mrs. Parkinson's eyebrows, but all she says is:

'I'm sure I'll be able to find something suitable.'

From my point of view, if the character is called 'Eros' I reckon most audiences won't need to be beaten over the head with a T-shirt that says 'Love' and Pride-coloured socks to make the point. But what do I know.

And that said, Kai did look pretty damn sexy in the outfit - even without the socks.

And that's that. Rehearsal over.

Back at Robbie's house, his Mum has got chicken-burgers waiting for us; hot breadcrumb-coated fillets of chicken in a warm ciabatta roll which has been split, and one half covered with a spoonful of coleslaw. She knows they're one of my favourites.

'So how did the rehearsal go?'

'Went fine, Mum,' says Robbie, through a mouthful of chicken burger, 'Jase was totally awesome and Kai did well too.'

He ruffles his bro's hair.

'Gerrof,' says Kai, but there's no hint of annoyance in his voice and he has a smile on his face.

Robbie's parents are going to take a train up to London, and so, shortly after lunch, a cab arrives to take them to the station. At the door, Robbie's Mum gives both her sons a farewell kiss, adding:

'See you boys tomorrow. Try to behave yourselves. There's a casserole in the fridge; all you have to do is put it in the oven for an hour or so before you want to eat. We should be back around midday and then I thought we could all go to the pub for lunch; you'd be most welcome to join us as well, Jase.'

'Thanks Mrs. Mason, that would be great.'

We wave them off and then we've got the place to ourselves. We head for the family room where there's a big TV and a couple of comfy sofas. Robbie and I share one while Kai sprawls out over the other. While Robbie searches for something to watch, I have a question for Kai.

'Kai, are you really OK with those cut-offs they've asked you to wear? I mean, not that you didn't look good in them, but there really wasn't much of them, was there?'

'I'm fine with it, Jase, honest. I've never been exactly the shy sort and if that's what they want me to wear, then that's what I'll wear. They were perfectly comfortable actually – short in the leg maybe but plenty of room for my bits, if you know what I mean.'

He smiles at me. It's almost as if he's teasing me.

'…and did you mean it when you said I looked great in them?' he adds.

Had I said that? Maybe I had. No, surely not. I replay my words.

'I said you looked good in them - you know, they suited you…suited the part, that's all I meant.'

'Ah, OK.'

And he smiles at me again. But slightly knowingly. And he's definitely cute.

'If you two have finished chatting each other up,' says Robbie, with a grin, 'there's some rugby on – Exeter against Bath, should be a good game.'

Robbie's Dad has followed Exeter for years, and occasionally takes Robbie and Kai to watch a home game. I've been invited along on a couple of occasions as well - so we're all happy to watch the game. Robbie disappears into the kitchen and comes back with two beers.

'Your folks be OK with this?' I ask.

'Probably – but they won't notice anyway.'

'How about me?' says Kai.

'You're too young,' says Robbie.

'Not too young to tell Mum and Dad,' says Kai, pointedly.

Robbie sighs.

'Go get yourself one then, if you want.'

'OK,' says Kai happily, disappearing into the kitchen.

'Maybe it will make sure he sleeps well,' says Robbie to me.

We clink bottles.

It's a good, close game which Exeter eventually win by seven points. When it's over, Kai announces that he's going round to see his friend next door, and Robbie and I retire to his room to play a shoot-em-up. After playing against each other for a bit, we team up and go online where we do OK, lasting for nearly an hour before finally coming unstuck. We throw down the controllers in disgust and look at each other. I reckon I know what's on his mind.


There's a bit of a pause.

'I don't know about you, and I know that we've got…plans…for tonight, but, well, I'm feeling horny as fuck and I just wondered….'

'Yes?' I say, all innocence.

'God I hate you sometimes, you know EXACTLY what I mean…..'

'Go on then, say it…..'

'Fancy a wank?'

'Why not?'

'Come on then, on the bed, it's more comfortable.'

I'm feeling adventurous. 'Naked?'

'Best not…don't want Kai walking in on us in that state.'

'I think we should risk it…the sense of danger appeals to me.'

'He's not your brother.'

'Scaredy cat'

'Jeez, Jase….oh fuck it…alright then.'

We strip and lie on the bed facing each other. We are both fully aroused, and in our urgency for release we are both, all too soon, splattered with our seed.

'God that felt so good, Jase. How come it's so much better when someone else does it to you?'

'Dunno. But it is. And I'm so glad we can do it together.'

And I am. But every time we do it, I get surer and surer that I want more. And I know that at some stage I'm going to have to tell Robbie how I feel. But for now, we just wipe each other down, get dressed and then head downstairs to put the casserole in the oven and peel some potatoes to go with it. Kai walks in through the door a minute or so later. Robbie and I exchange a glance and a smile.

The casserole is very tasty, and afterwards Robbie and I watch a movie while Kai spends the rest of the evening in his room. The film finishes around 11 and then Robbie and I head upstairs. He puts his head round Kai's door.

'He's asleep.'

In Robbie's room, we push the two single beds together as we do every time we have a sleepover. We then shower separately before climbing, naked, under the duvets.

We are still in the early days of exploring sex together. We've never been shy with each other, and comparing erections is something we've done from the age of about twelve. We've been occasionally masturbating together – without touching the other - for the past year or so, but three months ago Robbie broached the subject of going a step further, just as an experiment. It was an experiment that we enjoyed and we've been doing it more and more often ever since.

Even though we had that quickie earlier, we are both eager for one another. The feel of his hand taking hold of me sends shivers up and down my spine, and then I'm taking hold of him, all steel and velvet, and then we're lost in the pleasure of what we are doing – and, a few minutes later, the ecstasy of release. It's so good we do it again.

Three times in a day. A new record.

'Fuck, my balls ache,' says Robbie as we finally separate and lay beside one another.

'Mine too,' I say.

Robbie uses a hanky to wipe us both clean. It's pretty well soaked by the time he's finished, and he throws it on the floor.

'Sleep well,' he says.

I have a terrible urge to kiss him, but I resist. I don't want to risk spoiling things.

'You too, Robbie.'

When I wake up, it's to find that Robbie's head is on my shoulder and that he's thrown an arm across my chest. It makes me smile and feel warm inside. More than warm; it makes me feel all tingly – and it also makes me hard. And I realise that I really do need to have that conversation with him, and soon. But my immediate need is to pee, and Robbie stirs as I try, unsuccessfully, to get out of bed without waking him.

'Morning sleepyhead,' I say.

He opens his eyes and realises the position he's been sleeping in.

'Ohh…sorry Jase…I didn't mean….'

He goes to remove his arm. I put it back.

'It's OK. Friends are allowed to cuddle up.'

'Well if you're sure…you're certainly nice and warm.' He snuggles his head back against me. 'Umm…I don't suppose by any chance….oooh…you are.'

He's moved his hand down to my groin and discovered my erection.

'You in the mood?' he asks.

Silly question.

He rolls slightly closer to me and I can feel his hardness against my thigh. His touch has temporarily dispelled my need to pee. This time takes longer, but the end result is the same – only this time his seed and mine end up pooled on my belly. Robbie retrieves the hanky and cleans us up.

'And now I really need to pee,' I say

'OK, I'll go and make us some coffee.'

'I knew there was a reason why I liked you.'

Robbie pulls on a pair of briefs, while I go and empty my bladder. When I emerge from the bathroom - still naked - Kai is there, sitting on the bed. I don't know whether I'm more surprised to see him there, or he's more surprised that I'm naked. Not that that stops him from having a good look at exactly what I've got.

I hurriedly grab a towel from inside the bathroom and wrap it round me.

'Sorry, Jase I didn't realise you'd be…but, I have to say…nice, really nice!'

He says this with a smile.

'Hmm…I'll take that as a compliment, but if you're looking for Robbie, he's downstairs making coffee.'

'No, it's you I was looking for. Umm…can I ask you something, Jase…something personal?'

'You can ask.'

'Are you and Robbie boyfriends or just wank buddies?'

I am somewhat taken aback.

'What on earth makes you think….?'

'Jase - I woke up early and thought I'd come and see if you two were awake. And there you both were naked and lying in each other arms. With a handkerchief on the floor that was clearly…well…you know. Anyway. I just shut the door and went back to bed. It's OK…I don't mind…in fact, it's kind of cool because you see, I have no idea whether Robbie is straight, gay or bi, but I'm gay, Jase, and I think maybe you are too and I fancy the pants off you – I have done for ages – and if Robbie isn't gay and you wanted more than a wank with him but he doesn't, then maybe, we could…that is…or are you and he a proper couple?'

I am trying to take in what's he's said. I sit on the edge of the bed. Kai moves closer to me.

'Blimey, Kai. Where to begin? Truth is, I don't know how Robbie feels about me. We've only been doing what we've been doing for a few months. Yes, I feel things for him, and yes, I guess I'm gay...although I've only just admitted that to myself…well, and to you, now, I guess…'

We smile at each other.

'And please don't say anything…?'

'Of course not, Jase.'

'But…what made you think I was gay?'

'Just instinct…gaydar…call it what you like. And I saw the way you looked at me when I was trying on that costume, there was just something in your eyes…and I kind of suspected that you and Robbie weren't just good friends anymore. What I saw earlier this morning only confirmed it.'

I sigh.

'I guess Robbie and I need to have a conversation….'

At this moment, Robbie appears with two mugs of coffee.

'Conversation about what?'

'I think you need to put the coffee down.'

'OK….' He puts the mugs on the bedside cabinet. 'Now, what conversation.'

I take a deep breath.

'Kai knows that you and I are more than just friends, Robbie. He's also just told me that he's gay. He asked me if you and I were just wank buddies or if…there was more between us than that. And truth is, Robbie, it's a question I've been asking myself and one that I've been too scared to ask you.'

'Shit. Fuck. You're gay, Kai?'

'Yes, Robbie.'

'And you know about…Jase and me?'

'Yes, Robbie. You were both naked and your head was on his shoulder and there was that hanky on the floor…and a bit of a smell and what looked like a streak of dried cum on your chest.'

I can't help but giggle, and that sets Kai off…and then Robbie joins in.

'So what made you tell Jase that you were gay, Kai?'

Kai looks Robbie straight in the eye.

'Because if you two are just wank buddies having fun, but you're straight, Robbie, and Jase is gay, …then…'

'Hold on. Jase is gay? You saying he is, or you hope he is because you want Jase as some kind of boyfriend?'

'If he was available – and if he fancied me...why not? You of all people know what a lovely guy he is.'

Robbie turns to me.

'Are you gay, Jase? Do you want Kai as your boyfriend?'

It's now or never.

'Yes and no, Robbie. Yes, I'm gay and no I don't want Kai as my boyfriend, lovely though he is. Apart from anything else, he's only fourteen.'

I've started so I might as well finish.

'I want you as my boyfriend, Robbie. Except I have no idea if you have those sort of feelings for me.'

Robbie is just looking at me.

'Look,' says Kai, 'I think you guys need to talk, but if you don't want him Robbie, don't you dare stop me from trying to make him mine. And I'm not giving up on you, Jase. We'd be bloody great together. Why does it matter that I'm only fourteen?'

And with that, he leaves.

There's a long pause.

'Well…wow,' says Robbie, eventually.

'Wow indeed.'

'So…are you gay, Jase…really?'

'Yes, Robbie. I must be. I have feelings for you - and desires that go way beyond just enjoying having a wank with you.'

'I see. So what else do you want to do with me?'

He might as well know the whole truth.

'I want to kiss you and hug you and hold you…and have a bj with you.'

He nods slowly.

'And do you want to fuck me?' he says.

'The honest answer is I've never even thought about that, Robbie. I'm still struggling to come to terms with the realisation that I'm gay.'

Robbie is silent. He is staring at the ground. He won't meet my eyes. Fear clutches my heart. Have I ruined things between us? I need to backtrack.

'Robbie…if you don't want to do any of those things with me, that's fine. If you want to stop doing what we do, that's fine too. Just please don't say that you don't want to be my friend anymore. I couldn't bear that.'

He finally lifts his eyes to meet mine. I can't read his expression.

'When you say you want to kiss me, Jase, do you mean like this?'

He puts a hand behind my head and pulls my face to his. His lips touch mine as he brushes them with the lightest of kisses.

'Is that what you mean, Jase?'

I'm trembling. I've gone from abject fear to flickering hope. I lean in and kiss him back. Gently at first and then, as he pulls me tighter to him, with a passion that I cannot begin to control. When we finally part we are smiling.

'I don't suppose you fancy showing me what you meant about the bj thing as well, do you?' he says.

I am still only wearing a towel, and he's in the briefs he put on when he went downstairs to make coffee. Both towel and briefs are on the floor within seconds. I go first and he goes second. Our performances may lack something in skill, but certainly lack nothing in enthusiasm.

'Oh my,' he says, as we lie beside one another afterwards, 'I think we know how we're going to be spending most of our time in bed from now on. And we do need to talk. But I think we could both do with a shower first.'

This time we shower together. It's a tight fit, but being pressed up against one another is scarcely a hardship. And when we emerge, Kai is, once again, sitting on the bed.

He looks at us as we emerge from the shower together.

'I guess that answers my question. I'm sorry for me but happy for you, bro.' He turns to me. 'And if he ever lets you down, Jase, I'll be here waiting.'

'You might have a long wait,' says Robbie.

'I'm patient,' Kai says with a smile, 'when the prize is worth it. Umm…are you planning on telling Mum and Dad about the two of you?'

Robbie looks at me. Then back to Kai.

'About the two of us? I need to talk to Jase about…things…first, so no, or not yet anyway. Is that cool with you, I mean, you won't say anything?'

'I won't say a word, bro.'

Kai looks me straight in the eye.

'Any chance of a kiss…a consolation prize…' he turns to Robbie. 'If that's OK with you?'

'Help yourself – if Jase is OK with it.'

Kai doesn't bother to ask – he just embraces me. He has no hesitation in pressing his tongue between my lips and I'm too surprised to resist. It is unexpectedly sensuous - and undeniably exciting - as he explores every last corner of my mouth. He shows no sign of wanting to stop, and I eventually have to break the contact.

He has the biggest grin on his face.

'Where the fuck did you learn to kiss like that?' I ask.

'Natural talent I guess…that and the fact that, as you know, I think you're sexy as hell.'

He gives me a peck on the cheek.

'Thanks, Jase, that was amazing. I'll never forget it.' He turns to Robbie. 'Man, how come you got this lucky?'

Robbie just smiles and says,

'Could you maybe go and make some toast and put the kettle on again. We'll be down in a few.'

Kai grins. 'Yeah, sure….I'll make sure not to hurry.'

Robbie throws a pillow at his departing back.

Alone again, he turns to me.

'It was kinda hot watching Kai kiss you, but I think I'd rather it was me.'

'Sounds good to me,' I say, 'how about starting right now?'

This time it's my turn to initiate the tongue thing. We fall back onto the bed and hug each other as we enjoy our first lingering kiss. Afterwards we just look at each other. It's as if neither of us wants to be the first to speak. But there's something I need to ask, something I have to know.

'Robbie, are you sure this is what you want? If you're just having fun experimenting that's fine, and I'm happy to keep doing it, but I need to know if it's more than that – because it is for me. I don't want you to pretend and I don't want to get hurt. Things have changed so fast in the last day, it would be fine if you still need time to work things out in your head…just tell me the truth about how you feel and about what you want.'

Robbie smiles.

'I guess Kai has really made me think – made both of us think. Maybe I need a little more time to be sure, but I do have feelings for you, Jase, and I really did enjoy kissing you - and the oral stuff. A lot. And you're sure about the way you feel about me?'

'Completely. I'd love for you to be my boyfriend.'

There. I've said it. And saying it makes me even more certain that it's true.

'I just need to get my head round how I feel, Jase. Around the fact that I think that I have exactly the same sort of feelings for you as you have for me. Around what that makes me – what it makes us. It's not like I have a problem with that, it's just….'

He shakes his head as if trying to clear his thoughts.

'…and I had no idea about Kai. What would my parents say if they were to find out that both their sons prefer boys?'

'I don't know, Robbie. But this is about you, not them. Or Kai. It's about you…and me.'

Robbie nods. And then he looks at me.

'I'm scared, Jase.'


'It's scary how I feel about you…about how we feel about each other. I'm scared about what our friends will say – and about what my parents might say.'

I roll over to face him and put my hand on his shoulder.

'I understand. I'm a bit scared too, but I know it's the real me. That's why I need to know if it's the real you, because if it is I can face anything with you beside me.'

'Yeah…I guess it's the two of us…not just me. But it's still scary. I mean…if we really do feel this way about each other, how…when…what…would we tell people?'

'First you need to be absolutely sure about how you feel, and second there's no hurry. And it's not as though no-one knows. Kai's already on our side.'

Robbie smiles.

'Yeah, Kai. Guess we owe him for making us realise…face up to...what we are. And we are, aren't we?'

'So…are you saying…?'

'Fuck it Jase, who am I kidding? I feel exactly the same way about you as you feel about me.'



Then he's kissing me again. We wrap our arms round each other. Our towels come loose and we're lying naked together, fully aroused and kissing like there's no tomorrow. Then a voice from outside the door says,

'Coffee and toast are both getting cold…fuck…I thought you two were coming…?'

Kai is now standing in the doorway. He breaks off his words as he takes in what he's seeing.

'Coming?' I say, 'Nah…we've done that four times already, there's a limit to what even my balls can manage.'

Robbie explodes with laughter – and Kai just closes his eyes and holds up his hands.

'Too much information…'

'Actually,' I say, 'toast and coffee sounds like a great idea. I promise we really will be down in a minute.'

We have a final kiss before getting dressed and heading downstairs. Kai has made fresh coffee and we sit around the table working our way through the pile of toast.

'Robbie,' says Kai, 'I've been thinking about telling Mum and Dad that I'm gay for a while. I don't want to make things difficult for you, but are you OK if I do that in the next day or so?'


'And are you OK if I tell them that you already know?'

'Don't see why not.'

'Cool. I think they are going to be just fine about it. Maybe they even suspect. And maybe that will make things easier for you as and when you're ready to tell them about you and Jase. To be honest – and I know it's none of my business – but I think you should tell them soon – it's going to be pretty hard for you two to hide the way you feel about each other.'

'How come my little bro is so wise?'

'Genetics. Reversion to the norm.'

'Reversion to the norm?'

'Yeah…it's the thing where nature balances extremes out…and, well, let's face it, you're so dim that it's only natural that I should be super-clever to compensate….'

'Why you…'

But Kai is already running out of the door, laughing his head off.

'He's going to make someone a wonderful boyfriend,' I say.

'Yeah…yeah he is. Just so long as it's not you.'

'Me? He may have the hots for me, but the only boy I want is sitting right here beside me.'

Whatever Robbie might have been going to say is cut short by the sound of a car crunching over the gravel of the drive. His parents are back.

Rehearsals continue to go well. The only problem with my costume is that the cushion I'm wearing to bulk me out makes me very hot – especially under the lights – and the huge fake boobs don't help either. But I get used to it. Kai's costume is almost the exact opposite, what with the flimsy T-shirt and cut-off denim shorts, while the addition of the rainbow-coloured socks only serves to emphasis the slimness of his legs. If there are any gay boys in the audience, I imagine he'll be the stuff of their dreams.

Robbie is finding the close attentions he's being paid by Lisa increasingly unwelcome, but given that he's still keen, at least for the moment, to give no hint of his feelings for me, he's doing his best to look keen. I think it's hilarious.

As for Kai, his parents are totally unfazed when he comes out to them – which is a good sign. Robbie and I have discussed things and agreed that we will tell both our sets of parents at Christmas. In the meantime, we are enjoying oral sex at every opportunity we can find. But more than the sex, we know that we have also both found love. A love that gets deeper by the day.

The actual performances of the Pantomime run for five nights in the week leading up to Christmas. There are no major disasters and Robbie's performance as Romeo is universally admired. So, if I may be immodest, is my own as the Nurse. Kai delivers his lines each night faultlessly and brings a sexiness to the role that the boy previously playing it had never managed.

But while his role in the play was only a bit-part…

…his role in real life was that of a true Eros.

Robbie and I owe him everything.


This story is part of the 2021 story challenge "Inspired by a Picture: of Books and Covers". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 30 July to 20 AUugust 2021 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the challenge home page.

The challenge was to write a story inspired by this picture:

2021 Inspired by a Picture Challenge - of Books and Covers

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