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Beyond Salvation

by Mark Peters

Chapter 16

Dallas sat back down at the spare seat that he had been sitting at earlier, then picked up his drink and sucked on the straw.

'Well? Out with it,' he said after placing the cup back on the table.

Alex and Zack looked at each other again, neither sure if they should go on with it. Eventually Alex took a deep breath.

'He's telling people that the two of you are screwing each other,' Alex said softly, as if he didn't quite believe it anyhow.

Slowly, Dallas wrapped both hands around the cup and stared at it intently, before eventually looking up at me, his eyes showing pain and confusion.

Zack reached out for Alex's hand and held it, which certainly didn't go unnoticed.

When I looked back at Dallas, he was looking at me once more, only this time his expression, his eyebrows raised, asking me a question. I gave him a slight nod and Dallas let out a breath slowly.

'Just between us?' he asked.

'Of course,' Alex answered.

'Yeah… we're seeing each other. Not actually screwing each other, but definitely boyfriends,' Dallas said. 'You got a problem with that?'

'Fuck no,' Alex replied. 'I can't tell you how good it is to know that we're not the only ones.'

I pulled out my phone and opened it onto the text messages, opened the one from Timmy that I received today, then placed it on the table in front of them. When he saw what I was doing, Dallas did exactly the same thing.

When Alex and Zack read the messages their eyes went wide before Alex then opened his own phone and passed it across to Dallas.

'Fuck!' Dallas exclaimed, before then turning the phone around to show it to me.

Firstly there was a photo of the two of us sitting at the coffee shop this morning, followed by a message.

< Oh Big D. Fuck me >

Suddenly I felt the blood drain from my face and my hands start to shake. Just when I thought I was growing used to the idea of being able to live my life on my own terms, this has to happen.

'That cunt is dead!' Dallas said through gritted teeth.

'You got the cunt part right,' Zack added. 'He deserves everything he gets.'

'Oh?' I asked.

'Maybe later,' he replied. I noticed Alex was nodding as he said this. I felt sure that there had to be something behind Zack's comment, and I was curious to know just what that was.

After that start to our night it was difficult to enjoy the movie. Alex and Zack sat with us inside the theatre, but I could tell that they were just as distracted as we were. About forty-five minutes in, Dallas suggested we call it a night and so I whispered to Alex, who was beside me, that we were about to head out.

As we got up and made a move to leave the theatre, I looked back to see them following us.

'I didn't mean you guys couldn't stay,' I said to them once we were in the foyer.

'It's all good. Not really in the mood for it after knowing what's going down with those assholes at school,' Alex replied, before looking guiltily at Dallas. 'Sorry, I know they're your friends, but…'

'It's cool, mate. I somehow don't think we're going to be friends for much longer.'

'I need a coffee,' Zack said, quickly changing the subject. 'How about we go to Macca's?'

'That works for me,' I replied. With Dallas and Alex soon in agreement we headed outside into the night. We had all parked our cars about half a block away from the cinema and so we headed off in that direction, with Dallas hobbling along slightly, but managing okay. Our local McDonald's was about another half block past where the cars were, so we just continued walking.

'So, what are the chances the captains of both our senior rugby and soccer teams would actually prefer guys?' Zack offered, which earned him a sharp look from Dallas.

'Zack, don't!' Alex quickly said.

I looked at Dallas and saw his expression soften. 'It's okay,' he said. 'The dweeb does have a point. Kind of funny if you think about it.'

'Hey, who are you calling a dweeb, muscle man?'

It was all light-hearted fun and taken in the right context, but I couldn't help but think that it wasn't so long ago that Dallas would have reacted in a totally different fashion if someone had said something like that to him.

Dallas made a playful, half-hearted jump in Zack's direction, with his fist cocked, which sent Zack scurrying around to the other side of Alex, causing us all to crack up laughing.

'Pretty sure he meant you,' Alex said to his boyfriend, laughing.

'So, does anyone at school know about the two of you?' I ventured to ask them as we walked along the footpath.

'A couple of my friends do, Callum Jones and David White,' Alex replied. 'They're cool about it… I've been out to Callum since year eight and it's never been an issue for him. David figured it out when I started hanging around with Zack a bit. They are both on the soccer team with me. How about you guys?'

'None of my so-called friends,' Dallas spat.

'And only Pete and Merry for me,' I added.

'Ahhh… Pete. He's a cute one. I get these weird vibes from him sometimes… like he's curious or something,' Alex said. 'I used to get the same vibes from you before, well, you know… but now we all know about you anyhow.'

Dallas glanced my way and raised his eyebrows. I gave him a wink, but nothing more. I've never told a soul about what Pete and I got up to that night in Salvation and had no plans of ever doing so.

'What about your families?' asked Zack.

'Our folks all know about us,' I said. 'But that's only a recent development. How about yours?'

'My parents, no. But my brother figured it out. He's just finishing Year Twelve now,' Zack replied.

'Mum knows, but she's promised not to tell dad,' Alex added.

'So, I guess what I would like to know is whether any of these friends at school would have our backs if, or perhaps I should say when, the shit hits the fan?' I asked.

'Hmmmm… that's a very good question,' was the only response I received, which came from Zack.

We walked on in silence, Dallas handling his crutch with relative ease and not appearing to be in any discomfort with his leg, and arrived at the McDonald's restaurant a few minutes later, soon finding ourselves at the counter. I ordered cappuccinos, for Dallas and myself, seeing as he had paid for the movie tickets, along with a piece of cake each from the dessert display case. Alex and Zack did the same and then we found a table in a quiet corner and waited for our orders to be brought out to us.

'So, what do you guys think will happen at school on Monday?' Alex enquired.

'Timmy Baker is going to get a smack in the mouth if he utters one more fucking word,' Dallas said firmly.

'Have you actually thought about coming out?' asked Zack.

'Have the two of you?' Dallas shot back.

I noticed them look at each other, then Alex reached across and took hold of Zack's hand. It was a sweet moment. The kind of moment I liked sharing with Dallas, but I wouldn't be game to do it out in public, for his sake or mine. At least not yet.

My hand was resting on the table in front of me and moments later I noticed Dallas move his hand to lay beside mine. As I looked up at his face I felt the slightest touch to my hand, then when I looked down again, he hooked his little finger around mine. It may have only been a small gesture, but to me it was gigantic. It was a statement. He was coming to terms with this situation. With us. And it made my heart sing.

When the kid who had taken our orders, who I didn't know and who looked to be no more than fifteen, arrived moments later with our coffees and food, we were still like that. Nobody moved and not a word was said as he placed the tray on the table between us, but I did catch the beginnings of a smile.

'There you go,' he said. 'You guys have a good night.'

'Thanks, Brett,' Alex said to him, before the kid then left us.

'You know him?' Dallas asked.

'Yeah, his parents are friends with mine. He's a good kid. He won't be any trouble.'

'So, back to my first question,' Dallas said. 'Have you thought about coming out? I mean, to everyone, not just closest friends, and family. It scares the shit out of me, let me tell ya.'

'I figure that it's nobody's business but ours, and the only people who really need to know are those closest to us,' Alex said. 'But even then, there are dangers… like telling my dad.'

'Yeah, my old man went ballistic when he found us together,' Dallas said. 'And now it looks like him and mum are over.'

'Really?' I asked, quite surprised about that development.

'I think so. After a few things mum has said, I can't see much of a way back from this,' he replied.

We let the silence take over after that, as we drank our coffees and nibbled at our cakes. I found that it was actually an amazing feeling being able to sit and talk to other guys who were just like us, who had the same fears and insecurities as us, who were going through the same issues as us. The fact that we knew that we weren't alone in our world was, in a way, kind of liberating. It meant that we had allies, we had support, and we could lean on each other.

That gave me some hope. But come Monday, when we were back at school, would that be enough?

As we walked back to the car Alex suggested that we should possibly sound out some of our friends and classmates on how they felt about what has been going on lately. Or if not us doing it directly, we could ask our closest friends, like Pete and Merry, or Callum and David, to see if they could gauge the reactions of the rest of our school year.

'Are you crazy?' Dallas asked.

'No, just hear me out. Wouldn't it be good to know exactly where we all stand with our classmates should we decide to come out… or are forced to come out… which is a distinct possibility if Timmy follows through. I'm not saying we should do it, but at least if we had some idea about how people felt towards their classmates at school being gay, and also about those who were bullying them, then maybe we might just see that things aren't quite as bad as we fear.'

'Or that they could be worse!' Dallas replied.

Personally I thought it actually wasn't that bad an idea, but I could already see the doubt in Dallas' mind.

We said goodnight at Alex's car, with brief hugs and the beginnings of new friendships, and promised to talk at school on Monday. As we watched them drive away, I already had a plan forming in my mind around what he had just suggested. I just wasn't sure about how Dallas might feel about that, so I figured it might be worthwhile just keeping that to myself for now.

The drive back to Dallas' place was a quiet one and I didn't want to disturb whatever thoughts were rolling around in Dallas' head as we drove. Things were bad enough as it was.

His mother was still up and watching television when we got there. 'You have a good night, boys?'

'Not really,' Dallas replied. 'But we bumped into some guys from school, which was cool. We're going to head off to bed now.'

'Okay, sweet dreams,' she said, but there was an amused edge to her voice, as if she already knew we would be doing anything but dreaming.

If that's what she had been thinking, then she would have been wrong. When we reached Dallas' bedroom, he pulled me to him and just held me, his face buried into the crook of my neck, his arms wrapped tightly around me. I held him back, and we just stood there for I don't know how long, before finally he leaned back slightly and then kissed me long and hard.

'Are you okay, babe?' I asked him.

'I… I'm not sure. Will you just hold me? This whole thing with Timmy has got me rattled'.

'Let's go to bed. I'm going to hold you all fucking night.'

Gradually he let me undress him, as he didn't seem to want to do much himself at all, other than to just have someone with him, but I didn't mind. I was beginning to grow concerned, however, about what was going on inside that head of his.

When we were both naked, we slipped beneath the sheet on his bed, with me propped up slightly on the pillows, while Dallas nestled in beside me, low enough for his head to be on my chest and with an arm draped over my body. I placed my arm that was on his side around his broad shoulders, and somehow that was how we went to sleep.

There was no fooling around. No sexual play. We just held each other, and while there were alarm bells ringing in my head, right now I didn't care. All I cared about was Dallas, and loving him, and hoping that he was okay.

At some point through the night I woke to find Dallas spooning against my back, his hardness against my buttocks, but that was as far as it went. Content, I went back to sleep, only to be woken again sometime later by an arm being flung across my face. My initial shock soon turned to amusement, and after gently moving his arm away I managed to get back to sleep once more.

When next I woke, daylight was seeping into the room, but there was nobody beside me, so I threw back the sheet and swung my legs over the edge of the bed and stood up. The cool morning air hit my body, making the hairs on my arms and legs stand on end, and my dick stir. I padded through to the adjoining bathroom, expecting Dallas to be there, but it was empty, so I crossed the floor and took a piss, then washed and headed back into the bedroom, where I found a t-shirt and boxers and pulled them on.

I found him in the kitchen, just sitting in near darkness, dressed only in shorts and staring into a coffee mug.

'Good morning, babe. Are you okay?' I asked, as I went to him and hugged him.

'I… I'm not sure. A bit rattled I think, after everything that happened yesterday. And feeling like shit to be honest.'

'Don't let Baker get under your skin,' I said to him. 'He's not worth it.'

'Easier said than done,' he responded. 'I want to kill him.'

'Yeah, I know.'

I pulled a stool across and sat down beside him, leaning against him and draping one arm over his shoulders, while resting my other hand on his thigh. He looked at me sideways. I wasn't trying to start anything, I just wanted to hold him, and comfort him as best I could.

'I'm not really in the mood…' he started to say.

'What? No, I wasn't trying to…' I protested, but then for the first time this morning a tired smile came over his face. 'I only wanted to hold you… and if you're feeling a bit down, then just be here for you.'

'Thank you,' he said, before placing a hand behind my head and then pulling me towards him, landing a kiss on my forehead.

'So, do you want to tell me what's wrong?'

'That's just it… I… I don't know,' he said quietly. 'This whole thing with Baker is just so unreal… why would he… fuck, he can be such a…'

'You said it last night, he's just a cunt, and we need to do something to stop him, even if it's going to be hard to do.'

'I know.'

'Zack said something about him deserving everything he gets, but he wouldn't elaborate. I want to talk to him about that, because if he knows something about Timmy that can help us flip this whole thing on its head, then we need to know that.'

'I've heard stuff about Timmy supposedly bullying younger kids at various stages… maybe it's that?'

'I'll see what I can find out tomorrow. Now, how about we go back to bed and sleep for a bit longer. It's too fucking early to be out of bed on a Sunday morning.'

Together we shuffled back to his bedroom and as Dallas crawled into bed I drew the curtains to block out some of the light, then I crawled in beside him, spooning against him with my arms wrapped around him, and there we stayed for a few hours more. I don't know how much more sleep Dallas managed to get, but I know I didn't get any. But at least we were resting and it was quiet, and it gave me some more time to think.

Eventually Dallas stirred, but the sound he was making didn't bode well.

'Hey,' I said to him. 'What's up? You okay?'

His reply was simply another groan. I reached up and placed the back of my hand against his forehead. He felt hot to the touch. Little wonder he had said earlier he felt like shit.

Getting out of bed I went to the bathroom and found a washcloth, soaked it in cold water and squeezed out the excess, then returned to the bedroom and draped it across his forehead, just like my mother used to do for me, then I heard a sound out in the house so I figured his mother must be up, so I went in search of her.

'Good morning, JJ. Sleep well?' she asked.

'Not really. I think Dal might be coming down with something. His forehead is hot.'

'Oh, we better take a look then,' she replied.

I followed her back into his bedroom, where she removed the washcloth and then did the same thing I had done, holding the back of her hand against his forehead. They must teach that in Motherhood 101 I figured.

'I think you're right. I get him some Aspirin or something for starters,' she said, then left us, just as Dallas opened his eyes.

'Hey,' I said to him, as I lay down on the bed beside him and propped myself up on one elbow. 'You okay?'

'Nah. Feel like shit.'

'Yeah, that's what you told me about six o'clock.'

'I did? What was I doing?'

'I found you in the kitchen staring into a cup of coffee.'


A few moments later his mother returned with a glass of water and three tablets.

'Oh, good. You're awake. How are you feeling?'

'Like shit. Got a bug or something,' he said as he sat up in bed.

'You better take these then. They'll help you feel a bit better, while you ride it out,' said, while handing him the tablets and the glass of water.

Dallas swallowed them and handed the glass back to his mother.


'Just let me know if you boys need anything,' she said, then left us to it.

Dallas rested his head back against the headboard and closed his eyes.

'I don't think I'm going to be very good company today,' he said to me.

'That's okay. I might just head off a bit earlier and let you sleep it off.'

'You don't mind?'

'Not at all. But I'll be counting down the hours until I see you at school tomorrow.'

After that we settled back down beside each other, with me laying with my arm across Dallas' chest, and for a while I just listened to him breath as he dozed back off to sleep.

An hour or so later I got up and had a shower, taking care to remove the sticking plasters that were still on me and inspect my body for damage, of which there thankfully was none. Dallas was awake when I came out of the bathroom and watched as I finished drying myself and started to dress, changing into my clothes to get ready to leave.

'You're lucky I'm feeling like I am at the moment. If I was feeling better, you'd be bent over this bed right now and be getting that arse pounded. It's about time I got with the program and held up my end of the bargain. I can't have you doing all of the work!'

'Really? Well, how about next time?'

'You're on,' he replied, as I watched him massage the ample cock that I knew was asleep inside his boxer shorts, just waiting to be roused. Walking over to my boyfriend I leaned over and kissed him on the lips, while reaching down and pushing his hand aside, taking the sleeping giant in my hand and gently rubbing it through the fabric of his shorts.

'I'm going to hold you to that,' I said.

'You can hold me any time you want,' he replied, before reaching up and grabbing hold of my shirt, then pulling me in for another kiss.

When we parted I twisted my body around and sat on the edge of the bed next to him.

'Hopefully I'll see you tomorrow?' I asked.

'Hope so. I'll call you later anyhow. It's going to be tough sleeping alone again.'

'You'll get over it. Just think of the fun we'll have when I'm back. Friday night, right?'

'Oh, right. The school night's rule?' he said with a laugh.

'They're just watching out for us. I'm sure we'll be able to survive. Anyhow, there's still all the school afternoons… a lot can be achieved between the three-thirty school bell and when the sun goes down, school night or not.'

'Sounds like you've got it all worked out, my love?'

'Somebody has to take charge,' I replied, then kissed him again, before getting to my feet. 'I better get going. I'll talk to you later, okay?'


With a nod I left him, then wandered out to the kitchen, where I found his mother cleaning up after having breakfast.

'Everything okay?' she asked as I stopped in the doorway.

'Yeah, I'm going to head off. Let him sleep for the rest of the day. Hopefully he'll be okay by tomorrow.'

'Alright, honey. I'm sure that he'll be fine. It's probably just one of those twenty-four hour bugs that go around from time to time.'

'Yeah. I'll call him later.'

'Okay then.'

As I walked out to the car, I felt terrible that I was leaving him, but I knew I had to go home today anyhow, so there wasn't much I could do about that. I still had chores to do, plus homework, so I needed to get those sorted, despite my wanting to stay with Dallas. Even when you're falling for someone, I guess life still goes on.

Having not had so much as a coffee yet this morning I decided to drive through McDonald's for some breakfast before heading home. Once that was ordered and paid for, I drove forward and waited in line, then a few minutes later a kid brought it out to me.

'Hey, aren't you one of the guys from last night?' he said. I hadn't taken much notice when I saw him coming, but I quickly realised it was the same kid who had served us and seen us all holding hands.

'Errr… you're Brett, right?' I asked, as I glance at his name badge to confirm my suspicions.

'Yep. That's me.'

'And you know Alex?'

'Yeah. He sure is a hottie, isn't he? Well, you all are really. I hope I can find someone like you guys.'

He just confirmed my initial impression of him from last night.

'Oh, I'm sure you will. You're pretty cute yourself,' I replied. With his kind of round face and shaggy mop of mousy brown hair, he was indeed a cute kid, and I was sure that there would be others who would think the same.

I could see him blush at that, then he looked back towards the door to the restaurant, but hesitated.

'I know it's none of my business, but does anyone know about you? Or do you have any friends who are like you?' I asked.

He simply shook his head in response.

Suddenly I recalled what Hollywood had said to me, about sharing experiences and talking about them.

'Well, if you ever want someone to talk to,' I offered, 'just hit Alex up. Any of us would be happy to talk about stuff, if you think you need to.'


'Absolutely, mate. We've all been there. It's not easy trying to figure out who you are, or what you want, and sometimes there are obstacles that get put in your way that you will think you'll never be able to get past. But talking to people who have had those same experiences always helps. You can trust me on that.'

'Wow! Thank you.'

'You are more than welcome. Hit us up if you want to chat, okay?'

'I will,' he replied, while holding out his closed fist, which I bumped, before he turned and went back to his job.

As I was driving home, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that there must be a ton of kids out there who are in the same situation as Brett, all having feelings they are unsure about, not knowing who or where to turn to, perhaps attracted to guys who are largely unattainable, or considering actions that could only be considered dangerous. I remembered my own experiences and what led me down the path that I ended up travelling, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone else. There had to be a better way.

I also realised that the more you put the real you out there, the more good you are doing for others by showing them they aren't alone, the more people who you will attract that are just like you. I only had to look at my own life and what has happened since Timmy outed me to the world. I'd hooked up once with Pete. Dallas was back in my life, and now I had new budding friendships with Alex, Zack, and possibly Brett as well.

After the disappointment of Dallas being unwell this morning, I was now starting to feel better about myself, and more than that, I think a seed had just been planted for something that I wouldn't mind doing once I finished high school.

Things were looking up.

Things were quiet at home when I got there, with my father apparently at the hardware store, while mum was reading in the living room.

'Is that you, JJ?' I heard her call out.

'Yes, mum,' I replied as I went and found her. After a kiss on the cheek I sat on one of the chairs and opened up the McDonald's bag, before then sitting my coffee on the small table just in front of me.

'Don't you dare make a mess in here!' she threatened.

'No chance,' I said, as I bit into my Bacon and Egg McMuffin.

'So, why are you home so early? You and Dallas didn't…'

'No, it's all good. He's just not feeling very well… some kind of bug. He's going to try and sleep it off, so I thought I'd let him do that. Besides I still have some homework to finish…'

'And your father has plans for you for after lunch!'

'Why am I not surprised?' I replied, laughing, before taking another bite.

'So, how was your night?'

'We went to the movies, but it was pretty crappy. I think we weren't in the right mood though, as apparently the troublemaker we've been dealing with at school was up to his old tricks yesterday and spreading shit about us again.'

'Oh, no. Is there anything you can do about him?'

'We're working on that. But other than that it was a good night. We ran into some guys from school, Alex and Zack, and got talking to them. They were there as a couple.'

'Oh, really? Some new friends then?'

'Yeah. I think so. I think it'd be good to have friends just like us, don't you?'

'Oh, absolutely.'

I continued to eat my breakfast and drink my coffee as I thought about that some more.

'Do you think that sometimes if people know something about you and they have that same thing in common with you, that you are more likely to, I don't know, attract those sort of people to you?' I asked.

'I'm not sure I follow. Is this about your being gay?'

'Yeah. I mean Alex and Zack came out to us and are being supportive about what Timmy Baker has been saying about us. Then this other kid who works at McDonald's, who served us last night and then served me again today, he was asking questions like… I don't know… he needed someone to talk to.'

'I see.'

'This kid virtually said he was gay… he told me he thought Alex was hot… so it got me thinking about guys like us and who we can turn to when we have questions or are in trouble or something.'

'Do you and Dallas have someone like that?'

'Yeah, we do. Mr Harris, at school. But lots of kids wouldn't.'

'I see. So where is all this leading?'

'I'm not sure yet, but it has given me something to think about. Maybe I could be a counsellor or something when I leave school? I just don't know…'

'Well, honey, I'm sure you would do a great job doing that… but how about you get your homework done first, and maybe we can look into that afterwards. You still have another year of school left, so there's still plenty of time for you to think about your future.'

'Yeah. There is, isn't there?' I agreed.

She smiled at me then got to her feet, leaned down and kissed me on the cheek.

'You're a smart kid, Joel Jackson, and no matter what you decide to do in life I am one hundred percent certain that you will give it your all and be successful at it. But remember always that you have to take time to love those who love you. Sometimes you have a tendency to throw yourself headlong into something and be damned what the consequences are. Just remember to slow down and breathe.'

'I will, mum. Thanks,' I replied.

She gave me a nod and left me then. I smiled as I watched her walk away. Trust my mum to always be there to keep me grounded, keep reminding me that I was still just seventeen, and not let me get ahead of myself.

After finishing the last of my now cold coffee I headed for my bedroom and switched on my computer. I had a science assignment that I needed to complete by tomorrow, so figured I would try and get that finished as quickly as I could, before I had to go outside and do whatever it was my father had planned for me.

Following lunch with my parents, over which we pondered the new developments in our lives – or should I say my life – and as I had also finished my assignment, the remainder of the afternoon was spent in the back yard with my father. His morning trip to the hardware store produced several bags of mulch, some garden edging, and some timber. Apparently, my mother had a project in mind for us to complete.

Being summer, with Christmas less than a month away, it was a warm day, and after digging and carting stuff and being ordered about by my father, it wasn't long before sweat was dripping from me and my t-shirt and outdoor work shorts were soaked.

At one point I stood up and stretched my aching arms and back, then pulled off my t-shirt and dropped it on the ground behind me. At the same time my father looked my way, then he stood up also.

He was looking directly at my chest, and for a moment I wasn't sure what had his attention, but then I remembered I was now one nipple ring lighter.

'What happened? Something fall out?' he asked.

My parents knew about my piercings. All of them. They may not have approved exactly, but they said it was my life and so long as I wasn't breaking any laws or harming anyone, then so be it. They had also told me that they didn't want their rebellious teen son to rebel even harder by them having to come down on him like a ton of bricks, so they tolerated what they believed was just a phase.

'Not exactly,' I replied. 'I had it removed… and all the others, except for these two you can see.'

'This all a part of the new you?'

'Yeah. And the new Dallas. He has claimed this one,' I said, as I placed my hand over the one, now bare, nipple.

'Hah! You kids!' my father laughed, while shaking his head, before turning his attention back to the new garden bed.

I found myself actually enjoying working with dad like this, getting our hands dirty, chatting about this and that. It had been a long time since we had done anything like this, and to be honest, I hadn't even realised that I had missed it.

'So, what's all this about someone giving you a hard time?' he asked me when we stopped, mid-afternoon, for a cold drink.

I wasn't sure how much I wanted to tell him, but in the end, I decided that full disclosure would be the best option.

'His name is Timmy Baker,' I answered. 'He's the one who was responsible for Dallas and me going for a swim and has been the bane of my existence for a while now. The last few days he has been turning up the heat, apparently pissed that Dallas and I have become friends again and that I've been giving Dallas lifts to school.'

'I see.'

'Yesterday he sent some fairly crude text messages to me and Dallas after seeing us having a coffee downtown after I had my steel taken out. Then later he sent another message to some friends of ours with an insinuation Dallas and I were having sex.'

'And are you? Having sex, I mean?'

How do I answer that one, I wondered.

'No. We've slept together. We've fooled around a bit. But that's it. Honest.'

'So this insinuation is just that?'

'Yeah. It is. So why do you want to know all this?'

'I just want to know what's going on in my son's life. I want to know you're safe. And if action needs to be taken to help you, then we need to know the truth.'

'Well, now you have it.'

'Do you still have that message he sent you?'

'Yeah. You want to see it?'

'Maybe later. After we've finished here. And son… thank you for your honesty. I really appreciate it,' he said, as he placed a hand on my shoulder.

'Thanks, dad.'

When we had finished our work about an hour later, mum brought out another round of cold drinks for us, then stood back and admired our handiwork. She now had a new garden bed along the side fence of our back yard, complete with edging and a timber trellis, on which she informed us she wanted to grow some kind of climbing rose bush.

The three of us sat on the grass in the shadows of our garage as mum continued to spell out her plans for the garden. Apparently, the men of the house were going to be busy in the months ahead.

We headed inside before it started to get too dark and the mosquitoes would come out to play. As I went to my room, I heard mum call out that we were going to head out for dinner, so I found some clean clothes and then hit the shower, emerging a short time later looking and feeling decent once more.

As I was crossing to my bedroom dad came out of his room looking much the same, having also just showered and changed.

'You want to show me that message now?' he asked.

'Okay,' I replied, then retrieved my phone and opened it on Timmy's message, before passing it to him.

As I recited the message in my head and my father read the message, his raised eyebrows said all I needed to know.

< Keep ur grubby hands off D, faggot. We're watching you. >

Dad then handed my phone back to me.

'He sounds a bit possessive,' he said.

'Just pissed I'm back in Dallas' life, I think. That, plus I think he has issues with anyone who is gay.'

'So what are you going to do about it?'

I just shrugged. 'I don't know yet. Try to steer clear of him for starters. Might also have to stop Dallas from tearing him apart as well. Guess we'll see what happens tomorrow when we get back to school.'

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