The limousine left the hotel for the airport at 10:30 pm. There was little traffic at that time, so getting to the airport only took a few minutes. Thomas and Tyler were due to meet just outside customs, as this would be the easiest place for them to spot each other once Tyler arrived at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Thomas took the driver's card and told him that he would call when they were ready to go back to the hotel. Airport security wouldn't allow the car to wait by the curb for the fifteen or twenty minutes it was going to be before they would be ready to leave.
Thomas stepped out of the car, and the driver pulled away to wait at one of the airport's cell phone waiting lots. This was the normal point of entry and exit Thomas used when he made international business trips. Because of that Thomas knew just where he needed to go to meet Tyler once he cleared customs. It was a large area with little seating. There weren't many other people waiting, but even so, Thomas didn't feel much like sitting. He still felt as if there were butterflies in his stomach, such was his anxiety over the impending meeting. He ended up pacing back and forth, much like one might imagine of an expectant father in the waiting area of a maternity ward. Truthfully that wasn't far from the way he felt. The only real difference was that Thomas knew he would soon be seeing a healthy, eighteen year old boy with black hair and brown eyes, where the anxious new father would not necessarily be sure of any or all of those things - aside of course from the age of the child.
While the flight from Toronto had arrived a few minutes early as predicted, at 11:00, Tyler was not one of the people who had yet emerged through the customs exit. Despite the fact that he had checked and knew that Tyler had made the flight, he started to worry because of the amount of time it was taking for the boy to appear. What could possibly be keeping him?
Tyler's concentration in his fourth and fifth period classes was off. He was daydreaming more about the time during lunch that he had spent with Chris than he was paying attention to the teachers. Fourth period probably wasn't that big a deal - that class was English composition, so it was more than likely going to be relatively easy for him. Fifth period was a different story. That class was advanced calculus, so it was far more important that Tyler paid attention. Still, no matter how hard he tried to give his attention to the instructor, his thoughts seemed always to drift back to Chris.
Tyler's final class of the day, sixth period, was physical education. Tyler's first thought when he'd seen his schedule that morning in homeroom was how much it was going to suck having this as his last class of the day. There were plenty of reasons why he disliked this particular course of instruction - the ridiculous (and to him uncomfortable) uniform they were required to wear, the fact that he simply wasn't interested in sports, the stench of the locker room where he had to change before and after class The list went on and on. This was not the way Tyler cared to end the school day. The only way Tyler thought it could have been worse was to have been the first class of the day instead of the last.
Tyler was sitting on a bench in front of his locker, slowly stripping off to don his PE clothes. He was wearing just his boxers and pulling on the white socks he would be wearing for the class. Suddenly, his final class of the day didn't seem so bad after all - but it did get a lot more complicated for him. A hand was placed on his right shoulder and a voice he recognized instantly spoke to him. "Hey, looks like we've got another class together! And your locker is pretty close to mine."
It was Chris! He left his hand on Tyler's shoulder for a moment. The touch was warm, and the palm of Chris' hand felt soft against his own skin. Tyler enjoyed the contact of Chris' skin against his own, especially since it lingered a little longer than perhaps it should have. Tyler felt himself beginning to become erect from the simple friendly act. After all, Andy had told him that Chris was completely straight, so there couldn't be anything to it, could there?
This could be very embarrassing - he was going to have to remove his boxers any second now to complete his change into those horrid little shorts the boys all had to wear for physical education classes at St Ignatius. And with Chris having his locker so close, he feared he wouldn't be able to resist looking the boy's body over as they changed together before or after class. And then there was the possibility of having to shower after class That could certainly complicate things even more, the school's showers being a large communal area rather than individual stalls.
Chris finally removed his hand and stepped over to where his locker was located about four feet away, along the same wall as Tyler's. So, here was an opportunity for Tyler to see Chris naked twice a day - once before and once after their gym class. It took some doing, but Tyler willed himself not to look in Chris' direction - but how long would he be able to resist the temptation? Tyler pulled the grey t-shirt out of his locker and slipped it over his head. He hoped that it would be long enough to cover up that he was partially hard when he dropped his boxers long enough to pull on the uniform shorts. It wasn't, but Tyler didn't think anyone noticed.
Tyler stayed bent over as much as possible when he lowered his underwear in the hope that this would at least partially conceal his half erect penis. He didn't look around as he quickly swept the boxers down, then grabbed the gym shorts out of his locker and tugged them on. Because of his semi-erect state, it was necessary for him to reach inside and adjust things once he'd pulled them on.
Chris watched Tyler from the corner of his eye as he started to disrobe. He thought he'd noticed a twitching in Tyler's boxers when he was standing behind him with his hand on Tyler's shoulder. His focus had been centered on Tyler's lap as much as he dared. Another quick glance in Tyler's direction told him that his instinct and previous observation had been correct. 'Cute butt too,' Chris thought as Tyler wiggled around pulling up the tiny little shorts.
Tyler pulled on his white, leather athletic shoes, tied the laces and quickly left the locker room. Chris was somewhat relieved when he did. His penis had also begun to swell from the brief contact and the glimpse he'd gotten of Tyler as he changed. Chris changed hastily as he was running late. He already had three days of detention coming - he didn't want being late to class to add more. When he entered the gym, Chris sat in the bleachers with the rest of his class. He scanned the other students for Tyler, but didn't see him anywhere. 'That's odd,' Chris thought, 'he left the locker room way before me, he ought to be here by now.'
The bell rang, signaling the beginning of the class period. Any student not in the appropriate classroom was now considered tardy. A few seconds after Coach Alexander started taking attendance, one of the double doors leading to the gym from the hallway where the boys' locker room was located burst open. Tyler came running into the gym and started to climb up into the bleachers to sit with the rest of the students. "Johnston, you're late," the coach stated flatly.
"Yes sir, I'm sorry," Tyler replied. "I was, um, detained," he tried to explain.
"You have a note excusing you?" the gym instructor questioned.
Tyler hung his head. "No sir," he responded. He fully expected what came next:
"That'll earn you an hour with Mr. Biggs."
Mr. Biggs was a large black man whose primary responsibility at St Ignatius was teaching political science classes. He also served as an assistant coach for the school's baseball team. During the team's off season, Mr. Biggs was also the teacher most often to supervise the school's after class detention period. It was this hour that Coach Alexander referred to.
A sly grin washed just briefly across Tyler's face. His plan had worked brilliantly - except for the dumb part. He had successfully managed to get assigned to detention so he could spend more time with Chris. But the school's shuttle vans ran only on a strict schedule. This did not include a second trip following the regular after school run. The inconvenience it created was intentional. It made the punishment that much more problematic for the students who misbehaved - and therein came the dumb part of Tyler's plan.
It would take Tyler maybe as long as an hour to walk home after detention was over - and Tyler's parents would naturally require an explanation. Tyler didn't know how he would going to get home other than by walking. Neither did he know what he was going to tell his parents in reply to the inevitable questions about why he was so late getting home. He really didn't want to have to explain getting into trouble at school. This would be the first such occurrence since he'd come home and Tyler had been trying hard not to disappoint his mother and father.
'I damned sure can't tell them I did it on purpose,' Tyler thought. 'I'll just stick to the truth and tell them I was late to class.' It was true after all - he only intended to leave out the part about it being intentional.
Chris motioned him over, and Tyler took an empty spot on the bleachers next to him. "What happened?" Chris asked. "You left the locker room before I did. You had plenty of time to get here."
"I um, just Well, I sort of had to, well" Tyler's nervousness was back with a vengeance. Now he was going to have to come up with something plausible to tell Chris. 'Jeez, what do I say now?' he thought.
Again, Tyler decided it would be better to stick as close to the truth as possible. "I uh, er, well I was in the bathroom. I thought there would be plenty of time, but it um, well, I guess there wasn't."
Tyler had in fact ducked into one of the stalls in the restroom area next to the showers in the locker room. He'd needed somewhere to hide out until after the bell rang to signal the start of the final class period of the day if he was going to get added to the detention roster for the afternoon. He'd pushed the gym shorts down his legs and sat on the toilet. His penis was still slightly inflated from Chris' touch the few moments before. As he thought about the brief conversation, and more importantly the short period of contact when Chris had rested his hand on Tyler's shoulder, the swelling started to increase once again.
It was more impulse than anything else, but it seemed as if Tyler was unable to help himself. His hand found his rapidly swelling dick and began to stroke it. Quickly Tyler became hard. He opened his legs wide and stroked himself with one hand as he fondled his balls with the other. Thoughts of Chris filled his head. Tyler could only imagine what Chris' body looked like beneath the school uniform. He wished he stayed a moment or two longer in the locker room. If he had, he would have some sort of idea - Chris' chest maybe, or his legs. Chris' legs he would see in a few minutes when he got to class. But for now he just imagined.
Tyler was sure that he would have become impossibly hard if he'd stayed as Chris undressed, so engrossed was he with the boy he'd met just earlier that day. He was also quite sure that it would have been incredibly difficult to keep his eyes from giving away his lust. But now, sitting in the bathroom stall, visualizing what Chris might look like with his clothes off, and stroking his dick to intensify the effect, this was exactly the state in which he found himself. Tyler's knees were spread wide apart in order to provide easier access for his hands as he played with himself, imagining it was Chris doing the work. His ankles were held fairly close together by the waistband of his shorts. As Tyler's hand massaged his shaft, stroking himself closer and closer to an orgasm, it caused an involuntary movement in his legs which was visible beneath the door and partitions of the stall.
The slight wiggling of Tyler's legs was noticed by some other boys as they passed by on their way to class. They weren't able to tell who it was in the stall, but from what Tyler was able to hear, they had figured out full well what he was doing: "Look Ian, someone's rubbing one out in there!" That was followed by a short burst of adolescent chuckling as the boys on the other side of the partition walked away toward the gym.
Tyler had just finished satisfying himself and cleaning himself up as the tardy bell rang. There were two physical education classes that shared the locker room for the final period of the day, and Tyler feared that the boys who had noticed his jacking off in the restroom stall would be in his. As it turned out, his apprehension was justified.
Just after Tyler took his seat next to Chris, he noticed a couple of the other boys sitting with his class in the bleachers nudging each other and laughing. They kept glancing in his direction, so Tyler was quite positive he was the subject of their jokes. Tyler knew who one of them was - it was the one he'd heard called by name in the restroom.
Ian Phillips was a bully - there were no two ways about it. The crowd with whom he he hung out were also of the same sort, but Ian was their ringleader. Tyler's heart sank, he was sure that Ian and his little band of thugs would be sure to make his life miserable now. Well, more so than usual. 'That was a damn stupid thing to do,' was the only thought that kept running through Tyler's mind. It repeated so often that it had brought him to the point of distraction.
The physical education coach was droning on about the various games they would be playing in the class that semester, but Tyler wasn't paying attention. He glanced back toward where Ian and his gang were seated. Ian made an up and down pumping motion with his fist, clearly meant to simulate an act of masturbation. Tyler flushed red with embarrassment and looked away. If there was any question that they were right, it was answered for them now.
Chris had noticed Tyler's distraction. "What's wrong?" he questioned.
"It's, um, it's nothing," Tyler lied. He knew that sooner or later Chris was bound to hear the story from Ian or one of his friends, but Tyler wasn't anxious to tell it himself. There was no way that Ian and his buddies were going to keep it quiet, Tyler was certain of that much. Tyler was also sure that when they told it, there was little doubt the story would be embellished to embarrass him even more.
Tyler felt a hand upon his forearm. When he looked, he saw that it belonged to Chris. Turning his head, Tyler saw that Chris was looking right at him. Tyler wasn't used to this from someone he hoped was, or would be a friend. The only friend he'd ever had that he'd had feelings like this with or for was Ollie. But he was gone now.
Chris saw the cloud descend over Tyler's countenance as he thought about Ollie. Tyler couldn't help it. It had been months since Ollie's funeral, but Tyler still missed him terribly. At least the man who was responsible for Ollie's death had finally been arrested and convicted. They had even managed to connect him with that crime, the death of the other boy they had seen at The Cavern that one night and several other similar incidents. Two of the boys Tyler knew from The Cavern - Jesse and Trevor - had even appeared as witnesses.
It was unlikely that Howard Lawson would ever again be out on the street to hurt anyone else. According to the news reports, there were warrants for him from three states in the U.S. upon his release from Canadian prison - in the unlikely event that ever happened. In a way, Tyler wished it would. One of those states still used the death penalty.
Chris shook Tyler's arm a little, bringing him back to reality. "Come on, something's bothering you. What's wrong?"
Tyler shook his head. "Nothing, really I'm okay. I was just thinking about, um, about someone I used to know."
"Who?" Chris asked.
Tyler wasn't sure how to answer that. He didn't hide his sexuality, but he didn't advertise it either. Still, he didn't know how Chris would take it if he were to say 'I was just thinking about my boyfriend who was murdered.' The coach for their PE class gave him at least a temporary reprieve when he called them out for carrying on their own conversation while he was addressing the class. As they turned to face the coach and give him their attention once more, Chris was slow to remove his hand, and as he did he let the tips of his fingers trace the length of Tyler's forearm. Tyler pretended not to notice.
The coach finally finished his speech about what sort of sports and games they would be playing in the class that semester and what would be expected of them. He droned on for what seemed like forever, finishing up with how he would determine their grades in his class. Finally, he ordered the class to fall out onto the gym floor and choose up teams for a game of volleyball which would last the rest of the class period that day. The coach picked two students he knew from the school's sports teams as captains. They would choose their teammates from the rest of the students in the class.
Chris, star pitcher for the baseball team was one. Ian Phillips, captain of the rugby team was the other. As is usually the case, the class members known to have athletic prowess were chosen first. Tyler was not among those. He was disappointed that Chris didn't choose him early on, but he understood Chris' motivation - he wanted to choose a team that would have the best chance to win as he could.
Tyler dreaded the thought of having to play on the team headed by Ian. In Tyler's mind, Ian was just plain ugly - not just in looks, but also in terms of personality. Ian's physical appearance was not aesthetically pleasing to Tyler. Tyler couldn't imagine anyone finding him attractive, despite his loud and numerous claims of his own sexual prowess. He had a round face and a sort of flat nose that looked as if he'd been punched in it a few too many times. He kept his brown hair cut in a very short buzz cut which accentuated his overly large ears that seemed to stick out too far from his head. There was something about him that reminded Tyler of a bulldog - except for the ears, which reminded Tyler of Dumbo, the flying elephant from the Disney cartoon. His personality on the other hand reminded Tyler more of a pissed off pit bull - just plain mean.
About half the boys in the class had already been chosen - all the ones known to excel at athletics. Chris had picked the last of these, and now it was Ian's turn. Tyler held his breath. He didn't think Ian would pick him, but there was still the fear and trepidation of the possibility. While Tyler didn't advertise his sexuality as some of the other gay students did, he didn't try to hide it either. There was nothing in his mannerisms that was overtly effeminate, but he thought most of the students in his year group knew that he was gay, and he was fairly certain that Ian numbered among them. Ian was also known to be a homophobe, and not the pleasant sort. He would go out of his way to make life as rough as he could for the other students who he either knew were or suspected might be gay. Most of the boys Ian had picked for his team were members of his little band of thugs. Tyler really didn't want to wind up on the same side of the net with them.
He watched as Ian consulted with the two boys that were considered to be the chief lieutenants in his gang. He saw one of them make a slight pumping motion with his hand. Tyler just knew they were about him - especially since they had been mocking him in the same way earlier. Ian shook his head, apparently disagreeing with whatever had been suggested, but one of the others argued his case. Finally Ian seemed to relent.
Ian pointed at Tyler; so much was obvious since he was standing sort of off to the side at the moment not particularly close to any of the other boys in the class. "Wank Fairy, over here," he called out, emphasizing the slur. Coach Alexander, their instructor for the class seemed not to notice the verbal taunt; that or he chose to ignore it.
Tyler started to take a step forward, but then hesitated. 'There has to be a way out of this,' he thought.
Ian gestured once again for Tyler to join his team. "C'mon, what are you waiting for?" he called out. "We don't have all day."
This time Coach Alexander heard Ian's comment. He turned away from one of the two girls' classes that shared the gym with the two boys' classes back to the court where his boys were choosing up teams. "Johnston, you've been picked for a team, get your skinny little butt on the court!"
Reluctantly, Tyler moved forward and joined the other boys standing next around Ian. He stayed at the back of the group, not wanting to get particularly close to them. He shot a glance at Chris, as if to say 'I really don't want to be here, why couldn't you have picked me before Ian did?'
Chris took on a crestfallen look. He could tell that Tyler wasn't happy, and rightly assumed that he was at least partly to blame - he'd heard the comment that Ian had made, and it angered him even though he didn't grasp what Ian referred to. He made a mental note that as soon as he had a chance to talk to Tyler he would apologize. That would probably be in about forty minutes when they got to detention, he thought. They had only known each other for a matter of hours, but there had seemed to be an almost instant connection between them - almost as if they had been destined to meet and become friends, or maybe more.
A few minutes later Chris and Ian had finished choosing up their teams and the game started. Four classes were sharing the gym - two boys' classes and two girls' classes as the school policy was to separate the sexes for physical education. This segregation in their class assignments did not mean that they could not share the same facilities. Ian's team was playing on the inside court, so they bordered another team from each of the three other classes. The class period was nearly over, and aside from a little pushing and quiet name calling so that none of the faculty could hear them nothing bad had yet happened. Tyler was beginning to think that he was going to be able to walk away this afternoon unscathed, his dignity relatively intact. The worst was yet to come he was sure, but he would be glad to just make it through the day.
Tyler glanced up at the clock on the gymnasium wall. Just five minutes to go He breathed a sigh of relief as he looked at the clock. Just as he looked back to the game, the other team set up a spike play - and the ball was headed straight for him. He knew what he should do; he should put his hands together and use his wrists to make his best effort at returning the ball to the other side of the net. But it was coming at him so fast, there was only a split second to react and it was Tyler's reflexes that responded. The ball slammed into Tyler's solar plexus and from nothing but pure instinct his arms came up and grasped the ball, catching it.
There were groans from his teammates, and a quiet but coarse jeer from immediately behind him. "You little fucking fairy! What's wrong? Thinking about jerking off in the bathroom again?" the voice hissed into his ear. There was a distinct and foul odor of onions on the breath of whomever it was that made the remark, but he couldn't tell whose voice it was. Then there was a comment that really made Tyler cringe. "Don't worry faggot, by this time tomorrow everyone in the school will know how you like spend your time in the toilet stalls."
Then, almost before he even realized it was happening, the shorts he was wearing were around his ankles - someone behind him had jerked them down. Tyler was stunned, perhaps even in shock. Whatever it was, he was unable to move for a moment. He just stood there, clasping the ball to his chest, his mouth hanging open. The gym had suddenly gone silent. Tyler looked around. All eyes seemed to be focused on him, standing there, his most private parts exposed for all to see.
"Johnston, pull your damn pants up!" Coach Alexander shouted at him from across the gym.
Tyler dropped the ball, and still trying to get his shorts back up, started running for the locker room. Chris started toward the net. He wanted to pummel the boy who had yanked Tyler's shorts down in front of all the other students in the gym. But he realized that was pointless, he didn't know who it was that had done it. So instead he turned and ran after Tyler.
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