After such a week of turmoil, it was quite a relief for everyone when everything seemed to get back to normal. And normal brought with it rising tensions of a different kind as, seven days later, exams hit them, and it became a week and a half of that daily routine of turning over the question paper to find out how bad it was. Everyone agreed that the school had an exam fetish. Some thought they’d done well, celebrating as they compared answers afterwards. Others had little time for anything other than licking their wounds after each exam and going on to the next subject!
Thankfully, it had an end.
It was like being released from months of solitary confinement as class after class burst out of the year-end exams on the afternoon of the last Wednesday of the term. One by one they emerged, blinking, into the sunlight. Even to Simon, who'd enjoyed most of the annual challenge, freedom felt good!
There were still two days left of the semester that ended at the start of Memorial Day weekend, but a party atmosphere reigned. Even the teaching staff began to let their hair down. At least those that still had any! At last, after almost two weeks of the annual testing grind, life could start again!
After lunch on the Thursday, even Daniels didn’t seem to have the heart to lay it on thick, as a boisterous atmosphere reigned in his art class. Everyone was doing something, though for once, Daniels didn’t seem to care too much what, or even how lively it was. He even laid on some music to keep everyone in a good mood.
Simon was doodling, humming along to the Abba tracks and watching the time pass. He actually felt the exams had gone pretty well—all except the last one, History. It was probably his least favorite subject and had been an absolute pig. Still, everyone else had suffered, too, though surprisingly, Toby hadn't stopped writing until they took his pen from him after the bell had gone. He'd left the room with an irritatingly smug look on his face!
Simon thought about what he and Toby would do with the time they would now have on their hands. He’d actually spent a lot of time up at Toby’s place the last two weeks. It was always a bit more fun to revise with somebody else when you knew your stuff. Or in Toby’s case, mostly didn’t. He reckoned that if Toby got through, it was down to him!
Other than History!
They’d tried working up in tree house, but Toby tended not to stay on track, and time had a habit of disappearing if they were making out! So instead, Simon decided they’d be better off working on the back deck or inside. It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate a bit of one-on-one time, but Toby couldn’t afford to crash on these exams. Not if he didn’t want to spend most of his break back in summer school!
Still, they did manage more than the odd break from revision...just to release a bit of tension! However, it was a tricky one. It felt like sneaking up into the tree house to make out was getting a bit obvious and, with exams looming, a sleepover had been out of the question—even on the weekend. And then, of course, there were Grace’s ‘ground rules’.
Simon scratched away on the sheet of paper he had in front of him, but his mind remained elsewhere. He still didn't count messing around a bit as sex, but he still didn't care to test that with Grace! Anyhow, it was nothing he wouldn't do alone! Strains of 'Does Your Mother Know' filtered out of the CD player, adding to the conundrum.
He and Toby had talked about it, of course. 'Disagreed' might be a better way of putting it. To Simon, rules were rules, but Toby seemed to think that those things were more along the lines of guidelines. Either way, even with exams over, Simon didn't think it would be that easy to swing a sleepover anymore without Grace asking pointed questions about what might be going on behind the closed door of her son's bedroom. Even he was a little pissed off by that, but what other choices did they have?
Toby could always stay over at his house, but that was fraught with danger. His mum possessed an unerring ability to sniff out anything dodgy. She would know, he was sure of it! At the same time, Grace had been really good to them, and the last thing he wanted was to keep sneakily going behind her back and pissing her off.
He raised his eyes from his doodling, turned, and caught Toby grinning and waving him over. Putting the pencils and his thoughts to one side, he slid off his stool and went to see what he wanted. Behind his own desk, Toby seemed energized by more than just the end of the exams. He had that particular glint that usually meant trouble!
Several in the class were in and out to the bathroom that lesson, though Daniels didn’t seem too bothered about that either. Toby was waved permission by their teacher when he asked to be excused. A couple of others asked, too, and Toby motioned to Simon to tag along.
Toby was smirking all the way there, and as they stepped into the bathroom, the other two—Jacko and the Elf—went into separate stalls to do whatever it was they came for. Alone at the heads, Simon asked warily, “What are you up to?”
A cheeky smirk skittered across Toby’s face, and he sniggered, “Wanna see something?” He didn't seem to want to wait for an answer as he started undoing his belt. He seemed full of himself. “I want to show you something,” he whispered, and sniggered as he unzipped himself to take a pee. Then, turning his head from side to side to really make sure they weren't being observed, snapped the button and pushed down the front of his pants and boxers.
Simon gaped. It wasn’t that he could see Toby’s bush...it was that it had turned a bright red!
‘Freaking hell!" he whispered. He did a double take. “What did you do?” In his minds eye, he searched Toby’s classroom desk for evidence of the flamboyant color that had somehow ended up down the inside of his boyfriend’s boxers.
The Elf emerged and Toby went back to normal peeing mode. Danny washed his hands, but didn’t bother waiting for them as he pushed open the door and left.
Toby went back to mouthing his words quietly. “I did it last night, after you'd left." His face cracked a grin. "It’s a really cool shade, don’t you think?” He opened up his pants again and played with the colored curls provocatively. It had been getting on for three weeks since they had both shaved their pubes for 'Scraped', and there was still a way to go before they fully grew back. Still, a reasonable covering had accumulated, though what Toby sported was remarkably vivid!
“You’re completely mental!” Simon couldn’t believe his eyes, but he couldn’t help laughing either. Only Toby could pull off something this bizarre! Memories of the pink poodle surfaced and he started giggling. “So what the hell did you go do that for?”
What an asshole!
Toby grinned as he finished peeing and covered himself up once more. “I dunno. It just seemed a good idea at the time. I got some hair dyes from the store to use in a project…I just thought I’d see what happened!” He raised his eyebrows suggestively. “I’ve got a bunch of other colors if you want to try one?”
“Fucking hell! I don’t think so!” Simon finished peeing too, and zipped up.
“Why not?” Toby giggled. “Anyway, it washes out.”
A voice intruded. “What washes out?”
Relieved there were no longer any flashes of red on view, Simon swung around as Jacko emerged from a stall and joined them. “Nothing," he said hurriedly, and then just as quickly changed the subject. "So what did you think of the History yesterday?” he asked, turning to the sinks to wash his hands.
Jacko didn’t need to say anything; the face he pulled said it all. There was a silence during which the water splashed and they licked their wounds. Toby, however, looked smug as he dried his hands on a paper towel and said, "Well, I thought it was all right."
Simon glared at him. After all he'd done to help him, Toby had zero right to gloat!
The smug look remained. "Come on, it wasn't that bad."
They left the bathroom together, and Jacko asked more brightly, “Are you guys doing anything tonight?’” He looked so desperately hopeful, that Simon felt a little guilty when he told him no, not much. After finally getting past the exams, he and Toby had plans that didn't have much space for three.
“Saturday maybe?” he offered as a compensation for the crestfallen face. “Or Sunday?" he added, more firmly, an idea forming in his head. "I was hoping to go up to the boat in the afternoon and do some sailing.”
Jacko brightened. "You're going sailing? Cool! Can I come with you again?"
"Sure!" Simon grinned with enthusiasm. "I'll need to check with dad first, but if it works out, then why not?" He liked being on the boat with Jacko, who had a natural flare for it. Jacko went off, apparently satisfied that the weekend might not be a complete washout.
Back at his desk, Toby began pouting. "Hey! I thought we'd do something Sunday."
"We can!" Simon shot back. He mellowed his tone. "Come up to the lake too," he pleaded. "Come on. You know I like sailing, and I haven't been for ages. You don't have to come on the water."
"And sit there by myself all afternoon, while you two sail up and down the lake?" Toby was scornful and scowled. "That sounds like a fucking heap of fun!"
"Don't be like that! You could always bring your paints."
Though Toby continued to look grouchy, Simon remained hopeful that the idea hadn't yet been totally trashed. He would continue to work on it. The track changed to 'Dancing Queen', and he changed the subject. "He looks happy today." He nodded to where a side of Daniels could be seen that wasn’t often on display; he was humming along with Abba.
Toby looked up and his mouth creased with distaste.
Simon frowned. "What's wrong with that?" Even teachers were allowed to let their hair down sometimes, weren't they?
"Mom says we're going to dinner this Saturday night. At his place!"
“You’re kidding!” Simon's eyes widened as he calculated all the implications loaded into that one sentence. "At his place?"
Toby nodded. He didn't look that happy, and Simon couldn't really blame him. It had to be getting pretty serious between Grace and Daniels. Yewww!
"So where does he live?" It was weird, but he'd never considered the idea that teachers might actually live somewhere other than school. "He's single, right?"
"Of course he's single!" Affronted, Toby flared angrily. "You think my mom would date some pervy married guy?"
"Of course not," returned Simon. He backed off hurriedly and shifted track. "So what do you wanna do later? Shall I come up to your place?”
Toby brightened. "Sure!” The glint came back. “For some study, of course!"
* * *
The afternoon dragged, and it wasn't until four hours later, a while after school had finished, that Simon hit the button to open the garage door. After it had shuddered to a halt, he wheeled out his bike and got ready to ride up to Toby's place.
A motherly voice drifted through from the kitchen. "Dinner's at five. I'm going out tonight." She didn't have to say don't be late, and Simon checked his watch. Five? He shrugged. Not long, but after tomorrow they'd have as much time as they wanted!
Fifteen strenuous minutes later, he dropped his bike against the flaking white paint along the side of the Skerrit place and hopped up onto the back deck. With hardly a knock, he breezed into the kitchen. He scarcely gave it a thought; he was such a regular visitor these days, he was almost part of the family. Grace was already home, and he gave her a sweaty grin as he wiped the beads off his brow. That hill became a lot steeper in hot weather!
"Hiya!" he beamed.
Grace looked up from where she was making a salad, and her face broke into a wide smile. "Hello Simon...you look like you could do with a drink." She was already opening the fridge to rattle ice cubes into a tall glass. She filled it with water and he downed half of it in one shot.
"Thanks," he gasped. "I needed that. It's hot out there today!" And with summer now on them, he knew it would soon get hotter.
A voice shouted from down the hall, "I'll be there in a minute!" The bathroom door opened as Toby stopped off for a detour. Simon perched on a stool to wait.
"So—exams all done now?" Grace was conversational as she settled down opposite him while he waited for Toby. He thought he could interpret the relieved look in her eye as 'we owe you one'.
He nodded. "I think we did all right." As far as he could tell, Toby had got by reasonably well. He didn't expect either of them would get dumped into summer school—which not only trashed the break, it was expensive! And you didn't get a grant for it! No wonder Grace was appreciative of the hours he'd put into study with Toby. Either way, teachers were already marking papers and the results would be through soon enough.
Down the hallway came the sound of pee splashing into the bowl. Apparently Toby hadn't thought it worth closing the door. Grace rolled her eyes and he smothered a grin. Taking another swallow of ice water, Simon changed the subject, "So, do you have any plans over the summer?" Toby had been a bit vague.
Grace looked around the kitchen. "Well, we'll probably get away for a couple of trips if we can, but then I'm hoping to put a bit of work into this old place. Try to spruce it up a bit."
He studied the kitchen which, by itself, needed a gallon or two of paint! "I don't mind helping," he said quickly. "I mean we're away on holiday for a couple of weeks, but then not doing much else."
Down the hallway, they heard the toilet being flushed. Moments later, Toby appeared.
"So what do you plan to do?" Simon continued. "Just painting?"
"Boring white," said Toby, though his eyes glinted playfully.
"Yes, boring white it will be," returned his mom. "With the money that’s been coming in from the books, we’ve got enough set aside now, and I want to get some of the windows replaced too...and the back deck needs a lot of work."
Simon nodded, but kept his thoughts to himself, though it sounded like the kind of stuff people did when they were getting ready to sell. On top of that, she and Toby were going for dinner with Daniels over the weekend. You didn't need a degree to put two and two together!
"You're staying for tea, aren't you?" demanded Toby, coming round behind Simon and wrapping his arms around him. It was a comfortable cuddle, and Simon had learned to feel safe enough with Grace that he didn’t feel awkward. Over Simon's shoulder Toby studied the bowl of salad. His tone was a little scathing. "Is that all there is?"
Simon frowned. "Toby!" God, he could be such a dickhead at times!
Grace took it in her stride. "Salad is good for you," she replied firmly. Then she raised her eyebrows at Simon. "There's plenty for three..."
Simon shook his head. "Thanks, but I gotta get home for dinner soon. Mum's already cooking."
They chatted for a bit more. What he really wanted to find out was more details about her and Daniels, though he didn't dare to ask. Instead, they talked about the holidays and made plans to start some of the jobs around the house. It suited him—it was usually a lot more fun up here than at home!
"Come on," said Toby at last. "Let's go outside."
Simon nodded. Outside meant up in the tree house—their homely space high up in the tree that offered a pretty good place to be alone. Perhaps a second best to snuggling up together in bed for a whole night for some things, but other than that, it had a lot going for it. Foremost was that Grace couldn't see in, or sneak up on them unexpectedly. Even the odd squeak could be put down to the wind and branches!
Half an hour later, he took a handful of tissues from the nearby box and carefully wiped up the mess on Toby's belly, at the same time re-examining the astounding patch of colorful foliage Toby sported. He smirked—his boyfriend had just fired off several volleys like a Russian cannon parked in Red Square!
"Come on—let me loose then!" A satisfied grin on his face, Toby wriggled in the twists of rope that had bound his widely splayed knees to the metal legs of the low table. "Then I'll do you."
Simon slipped the bindings, and Toby eased himself free, wincing a little as his muscles let go of their tension.
“You’re not tying me up, though,” Simon warned. “I still think it's weird!” It was another of Toby’s ideas that his boyfriend had begun experimenting with. He was like that—always wanting to try something different—and tying himself up and then being jerked was a current favorite! He’d let Toby do it to him a couple of times, and to be fair he’d ended up blowing like a humpback whale with a cold. But he was still put off by the idea that he might be tied up in some way and not be able to get loose if Grace came up the ladder. Not that she ever did, but it still made him uncomfortable.
Toby, on the other hand, seemed to find it a real turn on. It made his boyfriend happy, so Simon was willing to oblige and had done what he’d demanded. He’d clamped the table on top of him, tied his legs around it and jerked him until he popped—and he sure had blown a massive load!
Once free, Toby pulled on his clothes. “I gotta get something,” he sniggered, becoming energized again.
Simon had already started to undress, and he pulled a face. "What? I thought you were going to do me?”
“I will. Promise. I won’t be long. I just need to get something. Do you want a coke while I go get it?”
“Well, okay, but hurry up,” he muttered, a little frustrated as Toby scrambled down to go get them a drink. Some things were thirsty work after all! As long as he didn’t bring back something weird!
However, what Toby was up to was anyone's guess as, and it was a few minutes later that he heard the winch that drove the food lift being pulled. Through the door, he could see the rope being drawn until, as smooth as you like, the wide tray popped into view. It never ceased to satisfy him to see the whole contraption working so well.
He studied the tray. On it was a bottle of Coke, two glasses...and a box. By the time Toby made it up the ladder, he'd already found out what the box was. He was in a good mood, but eyed the box warily. "I told you—I'm not doing mine!" He studied the contents. "And certainly not blue!"
Toby sniggered as he hauled himself over the edge and into the tree house. He emptied his pockets. "I didn't think so, so I brought orange too." He dug into another pocket. "Either that, or I've got a packet of pink!"
"Orange? Can you imagine me with orange pubes?" Simon pulled a face as he twisted the top off the Coke, releasing the air with a hiss. He filled both glasses with dark fizz and shook his head. “No way.”
"Come on," begged Toby. "You know you like mine. I can tell you do. And you can always wash it out. There's a tube of stuff for it. Look...I’ve got it here. “ He dug into another pocket. “Nobody else need know...it'll be a laugh!"
He was quite ready to shake his head firmly, when Toby added, "I tell you what, if you let me put a bit of color on you, I'll come to the lake on Sunday." Something glinted in his eyes as a sly look crossed his face.
Simon hesitated. Maybe it was a price worth paying. "You're sure?" he said. He eyed his boyfriend suspiciously. "No backing out last minute?"
"Pinky promise!" declared Toby, offering his little finger in victory.
Simon snorted. Perhaps it was a small price to pay to get Toby to do something normal and a whole lot better than being tied up like a hog. He studied the tubes and grimaced. "I'm damn well not doing pink, but I'll try one of the others if you like."
In the end, he plumped for the orange. Peering over the edge he made sure Grace wasn't loitering and said, "Okay, what do I have to do?"
“You should probably take them off,” said Toby straightaway, pointing at his shorts. “You don’t want orange over everything.”
While some of his more unusual ways he found a bit off-putting, Simon always found himself drawn along by Toby’s enthusiasm for color in almost every aspect of life. The colorful underwear was a perfect example, and he only wished he could say he enjoyed the same.
He would if he’d been given the chance!
As it was, during the week of the crap stuff with Ryan and the day he’d skipped on his mum’s offer to go shopping. He’d wanted to go up to Toby’s on that occasion, and since then, the ‘I want to get my own stuff' window she had offered had closed. His mum had then taken his clothing needs into her own hands. He’d come home one afternoon to find a lot of them had been given an orderly makeover.
There were a couple of pairs of new shorts for the summer (which he had to admit weren’t too bad), and some polo shirts (which he liked less). Added to that were a bunch of new tees, socks and underwear. Stuff that had been deemed ‘past it’ had been thrown or given to charity.
When it came to his sock and underwear drawer, the multiple pairs of Classic Haynes Boys Briefs had been replaced by what she had decided was the right look for modern teens! This turned out to be ten pairs of unimaginative, brushed cotton boxers that looked like they came from a couple of packages of ‘five in a pack’. Neatly stacked were now black, grey, dark blue, light blue and white boxers.
They were irritatingly baggy and had buttons on the fly! Who the hell cared for buttons! Were you really going to stand there for ten minutes undoing them every time you went for a piss?
Just then he was sporting the tasteless light blue! Even the white was better. He did as he was told, dropped his shorts and the underwhelmingly characterless boxers to his knees. He watched with interest as, quickly, Toby tore off the top off one of the packets and squeezed the contents into his emptied glass. There was another tube and he squeezed the powerfully orange-colored contents of that into the glass too, and mixed them together. A pungent waft of ammonia filled the space.
"Now lie still," Toby commanded.
Grinning, he lay back and got comfortable, folding his hands behind his head and propping it up slightly so he could watch. Toby started smearing the orange goo into his still developing bush, expertly working it in like a fruity shampoo. There was more than enough of it, and Toby kept piling more on until the paste looked like brightly colored icing on a birthday cake! Moved into action by all the pushing and pulling, Simon’s dick decided to celebrate too, and stood up like a not-so-little candle, which Toby decided to play with. He kept that up to the point where, sometime later, it lit up!
"Oh God, I wish I had a camera," squealed Toby, overcome by a fit of giggles. All Simon could do was lay flat and try to get his breath back!
Toby went back to stirring the now slightly contaminated orange paste. “You’re gonna look so awesome!” he said, grinning and studying his handiwork. Then he reached for an old plastic sack, and said, “Stick your bum on this, just in case you drip on the mat!”
Simon sighed and shuffled over from where he'd been recovering. “Now what?" he said. Eager to see the result, he was quite excited now, too. "So how long does it take?”
Toby reached for the box and peered at the instructions. “The longer you leave it on, the deeper the color it says. I think I did mine for about fifteen minutes.”
Simon frowned. “Fifteen minutes?" He checked his watch. "Well, how long has it been now?"
"I dunno..." Toby sounded quite blasé.
"You don't know?"
"I thought you were checking. I'd guess about ten minutes..."
That sounded about right, Simon thought. "Okay, so I’ve got to sit like this for another five minutes? Then what?”
“Then you just wash it off.”
“Wash it off?” Patiently, he looked around the tree house. Planning was never Toby’s forte. “With what?”
“Oh…” Toby blinked in surprise. “We need to get some water, I guess.” He shrugged. “Plenty of time. I can go down and get a bowl and a cloth. In the meantime…” He sniggered as he took hold of Simon’s wilting stick. “I bet I can make the time pass!”
Simon brushed him away. “Go and get the water, you idiot! We've only got four minutes!" Couldn't the lunatic count?
Toby rolled his eyes, but capitulated. As he started to slide over the edge onto the ladder, Simon called, “And don’t you dare forget your promise!” The cheeky glint in Toby’s eyes remained as his tousled hair disappeared from view.
Waiting alone, he studied himself. He was covered with orange paste, for God’s sake! He shook his head in disbelief at the things he ended up doing with Toby, and he smirked to himself. At least nobody could say that life wasn’t colorful like this! It was probably why they got on so well. They were different, but not in a bad way. Well, not always. Now if only he could get Toby to like some of the things he enjoyed too, that would help. Maybe he could even get him out more doing things with some of his other friends as well.
The thought went on hold as a voice shocked him into action.
“Simon?” It was Grace and it sounded like she was right at the bottom of the ladder.
If he stayed quiet, she would be immediately suspicious, so he called back, “Toby’s just gone inside to get something if you need him.” He fretted as he lay on the floor, mostly naked, with bright orange adorning his parts. Would she come up the ladder? She’d done it before. Shit—then what?
Her voice drifted up again. "Yes, I know. I just saw him."
His pulse yammered, but he didn’t move. She just saw Toby, and...and what? He tried not to imagine all the things she'd got out of him. Bloody hell—they were in big trouble!
“Simon, your mom just phoned,” Grace called again, though he could hear no hint in her voice that she was doing anything more than passing a message. At the same time, she still sounded like she was on the ground. “She wants you to know that supper’s ready and you need to get back ASAP.”
Supper? He looked at his watch and cringed. Oh hell! Where had the time gone? He tired to keep his voice level and said, “Okay. I’ll be there in a bit …”
Just go away!
"She sounded like she meant sooner rather than later," came the patient but quite firm reply, drifting up from the tree roots. "You should probably get a wiggle on!"
He cringed. A wiggle? If only she knew!
She didn’t seem to be leaving, and he didn’t seem to have any other options, so he snatched some tissues from the nearby box, and scraped away a layer of paste that looked most likely to drip, careful to avoid it getting onto his fingers. Another wad of tissues scraped away a bit more. It would have to do, he decided, as he pulled up his underwear, carefully enclosing the evidence. The blue waistband was firm and he hoped it would stay that way. He dragged on his shorts and then stuck his head over the edge. She was still there, waiting near the bottom of the ladder and staring up, ensuring that 'now' became now.
There was nothing that could be done about it, and if she saw Toby trying to pull a bowl of water and a cloth into the tree, she might get nosey.
“Just coming now,” he repeated. “Sorry, I didn’t notice the time.” He started to climb down, hoping to God that orange gunk wasn’t dripping down on top of her. With every rung he descended, he felt a distinct squishiness, and after a few steps he glanced down, hugely relieved to see she was already walking back to the house.
He met Toby on the back deck. He was carrying a bowl of water.
“Mum called – I’ve got to go,” he muttered. "I'm really late."
Toby frowned. “But what about…”
Simon kept his voice low. “I’ll have to do it when I get home. I had to …” He paused and shifted uncomfortably. Details would have to wait. “Well, anyway, it’s a bit of a mess. I wiped off what I could using the tissues. You need to go up there and sort it out.”
And what a mess it was! He had no doubt that his boxers would be going straight in the trash! “I’d better go. I'll call you later.” Jumping on his bike, the squishiness continued as he headed off down the hill.
Not even bothering with putting his bike away properly when he got home, he pushed it against the side of the house and hurried in the back door. The rest of them were already seated around the table and eating.
“You’re late!” remarked his mum, her voice dry and not too forgiving as he hurried by her. Her eyes narrowed. "And what's that smell?"
“Sorry, sorry…” He looked towards the hall, wondering if he could bypass the food. He tried to look queasy and added, "I just need the toilet...tummy's a bit funny." It hit the spot and she became immediately solicitous and motherly. He spotted a suspicious glint in Luke’s eye and studiously ignored him.
“As quick as you can,” she said more generously, and started filling his plate. “Two spuds or three?”
“Oh, two’s fine thanks…” he muttered before hurrying upstairs.
Locking the bathroom doors he peeled off his shorts and underwear. He groaned. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!. It looked a complete bright orange mess and the bathroom quickly filled with a strong acrid odor.
For a start, his boxers were a complete write-off, and the color had even seeped through them to begin to stain the inside of a pair or his favorite shorts. To top it all, not only were his curly hairs now looking startlingly orange, the stain had begun to spread across his skin, leaving lurid marks.
What a complete fucking mess! That was the last time he’d let Toby experiment on him!
Quickly, he undressed and stood in the shower, using soap and water to rinse of the remains of the paste. The tub ran a hot orange.
Satisfied that, at the very least, the potent chemicals were washed away, he left the shower running to rid the tub of the traces of orange while he went to find clean underwear. The pair Toby had just destroyed went in a handy plastic bag, which he stuffed under the bed. He’d get rid of them later.
After checking the evidence in the bath was washed away, he spayed liberally with air freshener. Finally he put shorts and tee back on, and went down for dinner.
Just before bed, he was back in the shower for the more normal end of day wash…and finally back in a good mood again. With the exception of a pair of light blue boxers that he didn’t care much for anyway—and that were now buried deep in the trash—it seemed like he'd got away with it.
And his bush?
Despite making a mess of his clothes, he couldn't help laughing. Talk about colorful—he looked like a traffic cone! At least, with persistent rubbing with a cloth, the skin discoloration was fading.
As he got out and dried off, he studied himself. There it was—different, that was for sure! He grinned to himself. It had been a close call with Toby's mum, but that would be nothing to the surprise his friends would get if he walked into the showers at school looking like this! Fortunately, with Friday being the last the last day before the holidays, that was not even close to happening. He sniggered again. He might even leave it in for a bit—a couple of days maybe—just for the fun of it. Then he was getting the tube of whatever the stuff was that Toby said he had for washing it out, and put it back to normal!
He slept well that night, and the next morning, everyone, including him, was up bright and breezy. It was the last day of school!
Downstairs, the back door was open and, though the sun hadn’t quite made it onto the back deck, warm fresh air wafted through from the back yard. It was a perfect day to wave a grand goodbye to formal education for the summer, though why they were even going in for the day was beyond him. Nobody was actually going to do any work!
He was even more upbeat than the night before. After that morning’s shower, the stained skin was all but gone, yet his pubes remained a hot and wildly exotic orange. It was actually quite something. He even found himself wondering what blue would be like.
“So what are you boys doing today?” asked Lucy as she dolled out more from the stack of pancakes.
“As little as possible, I hope,” returned Geoff.
She rolled her eyes. “I didn’t mean you!"
"I mean what does Dad actually do anyway?" sniggered Luke. "Other than have meetings?" It got a little raucous and Simon joined in the banter enthusiastically. Then the phone rang.
He didn't take too much notice of his mum as she went to answer it. Like all of them, she was in a good mood. In the light of it, he reckoned that now was probably as good a time as any to ask if she was okay with him going over to Toby’s for a sleepover that night. School had finished, after all! He would ask her in a bit, and he waited patiently as she reached for the kitchen extension.
“Hello?” She put her finger in the ear not next to the earpiece and waved at them to quieten down. “Oh, good morning!” It seemed it was someone she knew. That meant it might take a while, and he went back to his plate of pancakes.
“Yes…the fifteenth didn’t we say?” She sounded cheerful, as if all was well, then her face clouded. “You can’t…ah…oh, I see…mmmm…” On the wall was a calendar and she looked at it before halting. “Today?” She seemed to consider it. “Well, possibly. I’m a bit stuck, but let me check with my husband.”
Simon watched curiously as she put her hand over the handset and ask, “Hon, can you make it back for say—" she checked her watch, "—just after three thirty today?”
Geoff seemed bemused. “Sure—I was planning to leave around three anyway and beat the traffic. I can come a bit sooner. Why, what is it?”
He never got an answer as she held up her hand, and continued the conversation in her ear. “Actually, yes, I think we can make that," she said. "My husband will bring him.” She nodded as she listened to the reply. “Really?" She seemed to perk up. "Well, if you think that that would be..." She paused, listening, then, "Exactly, I quite agree. Best to get on with it, rather than hanging around if we can…yes…thank you. And thanks for thinking of us.” She hung up the call and all of them looked up expectantly.
“You’ll never guess who that was?” She had the look of someone who felt they were the bearer of great news. She waited, seeming to want them to guess. At the same time, a deliberate and confidently satisfied smile seem to be directed, Simon felt, at him.
What followed was a completely blank silence until, finally, Geoff said, “Well, Hon, we hoped you were going to tell us!”
“It was Doctor Tiberius." She beamed and went on to explain. "He had to cancel your appointment for June fifteenth, Simon."
Even as she said it, part of his brain was cheering. It was cancelled! Maybe they would even forget to rebook? However, even as those hopeful thoughts skidded between his ears, another part of his brain that had only half listened in on the phone conversation squirmed.
His mum was still talking. "Some conference or other, and so kind of him to ring us personally rather than get his office to do it," she said, continuing to chatter on while the squirm rapidly developed. He replayed significant parts of the one-sided phone call that had registered and, all at once, knew what was coming.
"Jonathan rang to offer us another date. He had a cancellation for today, and I guess he wants to fill it if he can, so you’re taking Simon in this afternoon, Hon. He’s going to fit Simon in at five fifteen. You should be able to make that easily enough.”
Simon’s mouth dropped open.