"Here we are!" After the van had pulled into its usual spot, Simon waited until his mum had opened the sliding door before sliding around in his seat to face the opening. She offered him a hand as he shuffled to the edge, but he ignored it and carefully dropped onto the driveway.
The journey home had mostly been in silence. Luke had gone off first in his car with instructions to drop by Walgreens for the antibiotics, and Simon had travelled with his mum and dad. Driving without rushing, both his parents had started out all chatty with him, but he'd ignored them. His dick was becoming a stinging pain, so he closed his eyes as he slumped against the headrest of the back seat.
What he was most worried about was that somehow, Toby—and maybe even Grace—would be waiting to ambush him on the drive. He didn't know how to face either of them.
Thankfully there were no extra cars in sight, but it made him angry that he was being made to feel this way—scared even of his own front door! Under his own steam, he hobbled into the house, straight into the lounge and lay down on the couch.
"There—that's better." His mum looked satisfied that he seemed comfortable enough. She didn't even seem bothered he had his sneakers on the cushions.
"What can I get you, sweetheart?"
He shook his head and closed his eyes.
She left him, but was back shortly with a glass of water and two Tylenol. She put them down on the coffee table and moved it nearer, then came to perch on the edge of the couch with him. She stroked his hair comfortingly, though the touch irritated him. “Dad’s starting a bit of lunch for us all,” she said, brightly. “Just a few omelets. Do you want it on a tray?”
“Nothing…I’m not really hungry,” he mumbled, flicking his head to dislodge her hand
She didn’t seem put off. “Maybe later then. We can easily whip something up when you’re ready.”
“Maybe.” He heard the front door open, and Luke stuck his head in the lounge.
“Hi! I’ve got the antibiotics—and some more Tylenol like you asked.” Luke sounded in a good mood and sniffed the air. “Is that lunch? I’m starving!”
“Dad’s making omelets for us all.” Standing, Lucy took the paper bag from Luke and studied the contents. Withdrawing a medium-sized pack of tablets, she went back to Simon. “Let’s get one of these into you sweetheart—though you would be better taking them with some food. You can take a couple more Tylenol, too. It’s just ordinary strength—they said that should be enough now”
"I don't need any!" Simon ground his teeth as his mum continued to badger him. "There's nothing wrong with me!" It had to be the whopper of the year! However, he took the antibiotic, and, still thirsty, drank a whole glass of water with it.
And the thumping pain? It was no more than he deserved. Somehow it just felt right that he should suffer. Why did they have to keep trying to be so nice to him? Didn't they know how guilty he was?
Of course they didn't. And it would stay that way, locked inside until... Until what, he didn't know. All he knew was that the only person he could trust was himself.
And he was already a failure.
"Are you sure I can't get you something?" she said, still holding out the painkillers. “What about a nice cup of hot chocolate?"
Ignoring her, he shuffled off the couch. He didn't want lunch, he wouldn't want dinner. He didn't want to be comforted. In fact, he didn't want anything...not even to clean his teeth!
"I'm going upstairs," he muttered. He couldn't even lift his head as he pushed out of the room past his brother. "I'm tired...I just want to lie down."
Carrying his acute discomfort up a step at a time, he reached his room and closed the door. Beyond anger as he curled up on his bed, he let the deep-set throbbing in his groin caress him like the bite of a flagellant's whip. It might be a relief to be home—if nothing else than because his bedroom offered him his own space where he didn't have to join in—but why couldn't they get that he didn't want to talk?
He must have been more tired than he thought, as he fell asleep. It looked like early evening—he couldn't tell—when a quiet knock roused him. He wasn't surprised—he knew someone would come eventually. In the silence, he could hear the handle turning.
"Simon?" The voice, when it came, was tentative; quietly concerned. It was his dad.
Simon kept his eyes closed, hiding behind a facade of feigned sleep. He knew he was being studied, and maybe his dad even guessed he was faking it. Who cared; it was enough and, slowly, the door was pulled to.
Waiting further until he was sure he would get no more doorstep visits, he twisted his head around where he lay, checking he really was alone. Then, more quickly, and even though it was still bright outside in the early evening, he closed down the blinds. The room became dim as he took off his sneakers. Sliding under his summer duvet, he pulled it over himself and buried his head in his pillow.
He tossed and turned, but there were two things he really needed. The first was another drink. The second? He really needed a pee, but was put off by the ominous warnings he'd received to expect stinging pain.
But it wouldn't go away, and eventually he could wait no longer. By now he was bursting to go, and holding it in was beginning to hurt. Whatever happened, he would have to have a pee sometime, so he shuffled out of bed again. To make things even worse, the full bladder had given him a disturbingly full hard-on.
With a stealthy turn of the handle to the bathroom, he opened the door and passed silently inside. A quick glance through the still-open door to Luke's room proved he really was alone. He closed his brother’s door anyway, and locked it.
First he stuck his mouth near the cold tap, turned it on, and swallowed great gulps until his belly was full. Then, standing over the bowl, he carefully unsnapped and unzipped his shorts, stepping out of them. Then he tackled his underwear, peeling his boxers down to his knees as carefully as he could. It was awkward, and he winced at the inadvertent scraping over his painfully sensitive glans.
However, even that was overpowered by the unrelenting throbbing underneath the bandages. Ugly, bruised and swollen, his dick was swathed in restricting dressings, steeped in dried blood. He tried not to think about what it would be like underneath them.
Leaning forward as far as he could, he pressed down as much as he could bare, and willed himself to let it flow. It was like being stabbed by a knife, and he had to bite his lip to stop himself crying out at the burning sensation that shot through the length of his dick as the flow began. Without the previous warnings he would have panicked. To make it worse, affected by the swelling, the stream divided into two and sprayed everywhere.
It made him angry. He couldn't even control his piss anymore!
* * *
With hopeful expressions, both Luke and his mum glanced up from the kitchen table as Geoff came back downstairs and rejoined them. Lunch had been and gone a long time ago, but after clearing up, Luke suspected he wasn't alone at feeling at a loose end now they were all back home.
His dad shook his head as he took a seat. "He's in bed. Still asleep. Or at least pretending to be."
"Maybe. I don't know...something's not right..." Geoff trailed off.
Lucy made to rise. "Maybe I should try?"
Geoff raised a restraining hand. "No, just leave him. If he doesn't want to talk just now, then there’s no point in pushing it. Perhaps he just needs to sleep it off."
Chewing his lip silently, Luke agreed. Si had made it pretty clear when they'd got back that he didn't want to talk about anything! The idea of some playful teasing at his brother’s expense seemed a million miles away.
"Perhaps he'll be in better shape tomorrow." said Geoff.
"And you have to remember he's just had surgery," Lucy added, sounding as if she were trying to convince herself, too. "Maybe that knocked him about more than we thought?"
"You’re probably right. Like Julius said, maybe we just need to be patient. He'll bounce back soon enough." Perhaps looking for something to distract himself, Geoff picked up his empty mug. "Another drink?"
She shook her head.
"So why won't he take any painkillers?" She seemed less able to just put it down and rely on patience like her husband. "What's that all about? I mean you can't tell me he's not in a bit of discomfort."
Geoff put down his own mug. "I dunno." He frowned as he was drawn back into worry.
"Mum?" Sitting at the table alongside them, Luke had been waiting for the right time to ask his question. There didn't seem to be one—other than not asking it when Simon was listening.
"What did Dr. Jackson mean by 'elective'?" It was not that he didn't understand the term, but he wanted to find out when that had been decided.
"Do you think that that's what's bothering him?" Distracted, she chewed in her lip, searching for something. "There wasn't really any choice. Is that what this is? Has he said something?"
"I don't understand. Said what?"
"We had to make a choice, Luke," injected his dad. His tone seemed a little formal as though to emphasize the parent-child element of it. "It was when you'd left to go down to the cafeteria."
"When Dr. Chowdry came and spoke with us," added his mum.
"Yes, you said…and...? I know he had to have the operation, but I'm not stupid—I know what an elective is!"
"Luke..." His dad's face was still, but the warning was clear.
"Sorry," he said quickly. He knew that his tone was too angry; too confrontational. He'd been going over it in his head all afternoon. "I'm just worried for him too...and I just want to know what happened."
His dad took up the tale. "They were using ice packs and the swelling was subsiding."
"And?" Luke thought he already knew the answer.
"We did what we felt was the right thing—as Dr. Chowdry advised—which was that they operate. He said he could do it right then, and just needed our permission. I know Simon was dead set against any surgery, but that was before Chowdry told us that the likelihood of getting the same Paraphimosis problem again—unless we dealt with it—was quite high."
Luke frowned. He really had missed quite a bit when he was downstairs.
"We told him to go ahead and do what he felt would be best," his mum finished. She eased out of her chair and went to fill the kettle. "If Simon's upset about that, then we'll just have to deal with it the best we can."
He nodded…it made more sense now. Though it hadn't been strictly necessary at the time, Chowdry had offered to operate there and then. And this was probably why Simon was pissed off. Knowing how adamant his brother had been about the whole thing, it wasn't surprising that he'd be furious at waking to find he'd been treated to a full surgical circumcision without being asked.
But Luke could see their point of view, too. He knew they were probably right, and even Tiberius had said it was for the best. He pondered it as he watched his mother push the kettle under the tap, fill it and plug it in again.
"If it helps, if it had been me, I would have said the same." There hadn't really been much choice and maybe somebody actually needed to go up and tell Simon that!
Scrap that, he reflected. They'd been trying—unsuccessfully—to talk with Si all afternoon! And while he got why his brother would be in quite a bit of discomfort and want to lie down—a dozen or more stitches would be quite painful—it made no sense why he was refusing painkillers.
He sighed. Perhaps the best they could hope for in the short term would be to weather the bad mood and hope Si would get over it and move on. And he doubted that his brother would stay moody for long. He just wasn't that kind of kid. They still had a week of vacation left, so at least Simon didn't have to face school straight away, and there was always Toby he could lean on.
All in all, it sounded more hopeful.
"I agree with Dad," he said finally. "I'm sure things will look different tomorrow. Maybe when you get a chance to tell him why you went ahead and had it done, he'll understand."
On impulse, he added. "I don't mind having a go if you like. He might take it better from me?"
"Sure.” His dad replied, looking thoughtful. "And anyway, you can probably offer more advice than mum and me." It came with a knowing twinkle that even elicited a smile from their mum as she sat back down again. It all helped bring them out of the heaviness that had been settling in.
"You're right, hon," said Lucy. "Best leave it to the professionals!" It was a light moment in a difficult day, and it seemed to breathe life into them.
Luke grinned, playing along. "Alright—leave it to me! I'll try to give him my best man-to-man talk!"
"Oh, heaven help us with that then!" His dad's face creased and he threw up his hands in mock dismay.
Luke smirked. If you looked at it from the right perspective, the doctors were right of course. Simon was going to be fine. Like himself, his brother was going to have to get used to that surprisingly unexpected feeling of being unhooded. It was eye-watering at first, and Luke almost grinned at the unmerciful teasing he anticipated giving his brother as he waddled around for the next week. But then, give it a couple of months, and it would look, and even feel, like second nature. Maybe Si would get a bit of razzing in the showers next term, but then it would all move on. Yesterday's news. And now time for both of them to start a new leaf in a journey that had started in row 23 on the Delta flight to Atlanta.
With that particular baton apparently in Luke's hands, Geoff changed the subject. "The Carters seemed great people, don't you think? Nice of them to let you have their hotel room for the night, Luce."
"Yes, but we should really pay them for it." The kettle sang and she made to stand.
Luke lurched to his feet ahead of her. "I can do it. Tea?"
"We got their address, I assume?" asked Lucy, nodding as she settled back into her chair.
"Sorry, I didn't think. We left in a bit of a flurry this morning." Geoff glanced across to the sink where Luke was rinsing out the pot and adding fresh bags. "What about you? You seemed to be getting on well with Elliott. Any idea where they live?"
"No, sorry," said Luke as he poured the boiling water. "I didn't get it either." It was something that he'd been kicking himself about most of the afternoon. He'd got a solution in mind, but it was awkward. But now...well, now it would be a lot less obvious. He brought the fresh pot to the table.
"Why don't you give the Kears a call?" He kept his features a study of indifference. "Becky's bound to know, isn't she?" If she was dating Sam Carter, she damn well better!
"Aren't you full of surprises today! Excellent idea. I'll give Anne a call." His mum seemed impressed with his cleverness. Then she checked her watch and yawned. "Later, though. Anne always wants to talk, and I could do with a lie down first. Didn't sleep much last night."
Just then, the phone rang. Geoff took it.
"Oh, hello Grace," he said. After a moment, he frowned. "Simon? Oh, you didn't know..." He put his hand over the microphone and mouthed, Grace Skerrit. Lucy beckoned with her fingers, indicating she wanted the handset.
"Hello, Grace. Yes, we've had a bit of a time here. We ended up taking Simon to the hospital." She paused. "Yes, Simon... No, nothing like that. A urology thing that he was being treated for...it got a bit nasty, but he's fine now...out of the woods."
Lucy changed the phone to the other ear. "So how was the meal with Marcus?" Her face opened into a smile as she listened to the long reply.
"He was?" The smile widened as she listened further. "Well, that's nice of you to say. I'll let him know...okay...and thanks for calling. Yep...bye!"
She disconnected and grinned. "Well, it sounds like Simon behaved himself yesterday. He even made Yorkshires, Grace was saying!" She took a deep breath and had a look of satisfaction.
"Now, I think I might go for that snooze." She checked her watch. "Don't let me sleep too long hon..."
* * *
Later that evening, Simon lay curled up in bed, feeling as lonely and confused as he had the previous night when he’d been left alone at the hospital.
"Si...?" The soft, concerned voice of his brother came from the vicinity of the open bathroom door. “You doing alight?”
Simon stirred but didn't turn. "Just leave me alone!" He waited, facing the wall, but he could sense Luke was still there.
"Don't be like this.” Luke’s tone was softly supportive. “It wasn't your fault—it was just an accident. It could have happened to anybody."
His brother paused. Then, assuming that Simon's silence was an invitation to keep going, added, "I know it's uncomfortable right now, but trust me, it gets better. You'll be fine, and soon everything will be normal again. Just like it always was."
Simon raised his voice a notch. "I mean it! Leave me alone—I want to sleep!"
The door clicked quietly shut, and he lay alone in the gloom. He'd run out of ways not to dwell on the memories and couldn’t stop the flashbacks; reliving the restricting weight that had pressed him to the bed, and the acute eye-watering pain as his foreskin got forcibly yanked back. The hand then pumping up and down his own uncovered glans that had become an agony when everything out of control as he'd felt that hardness pressing into his crack.
'...trust me, it gets better. You'll be fine and soon everything will be normal again. Just like it always was.'
Normal? Fine? He stared unseeing into the darkness.
Why? Had it been his fault? Why had he just frozen?
He'd screamed at Toby to stop hadn't he, or had that just been in his head? Maybe it was his fault...allowing Toby to... He squeezed his eyes shut, not even wanting to name it. Twisting to try to push him off, it had been over so fast, with Toby rolling off him, heaving and grunting about how fucking awesome it had been!
He cried until he fell asleep.