David’s appointment at Great Ormond Street fell due. Having seen him off, I spent a lonely day.
For all practical purposes, I realised, I had passed every moment of the last two weeks in his company: in class, at meals, on walks, in the library, in our room, in bed. But apart from his dramatic self-exposure that very first afternoon, neither had yet seen the other’s nakedness. We now dressed and undressed in each other’s presence, though with backs still modestly turned. The only time we were out of sight was in the bathroom. Again for modesty, we shut the door when we showered and crapped and (at least in my case) wanked, but we did not shut it when we peed. There is nothing, to my mind, even potentially offensive or salacious (except no doubt to the ultra-prudes) about the rear view of someone pissing, and it seemed that David felt the same.
You might say this proximity was too much of a good thing. But that day I felt severe withdrawal symptoms, and was snapped at by teachers for inattention.
“Moping for that runt?” asked one of the jerks in class, in a rare flash of observation and insight.
Because I was not a member of any of their clubs, it was unusual for them even to speak to me. That did not worry me a whit. As already explained, I was happy to be sociable, but equally happy as a hermit. And I had a fellow-hermit to share my cell.
“Can’t think why you hang out with him. Much better if you joined our rugby lot. You’d fit in. And you’re just the right build for a prop.”
I had already seen them eying me speculatively — with a sports-related eye, not a sexual one — but since that dinner-time two weeks ago they had never given any trouble, or even propositioned me. Typical of Dorcic, they stayed aloof from us and lived their Dorcic lives. More accurately, perhaps, we stayed aloof from them and lived our un-Dorcic lives.
“Depends where your values lie, doesn’t it?” I asked mildly.
I could see him trying to work that out. But he gave it up and said no more. How silly to be bound only by a common sport or interest. Take Doug, from an earlier time. I was into books, he was (believe it or not) a railway buff. I played squash, he ran (believe it or not) marathons. Yet we got on famously. What mattered was community of soul, and I shared nothing with these trolls.
In the evening, Mum phoned. It proved to be the most extraordinary conversation I had ever had.
“I’ve just got home, Peter,” she said. “And Dad’s at Paddington putting David on the train.”
I may have known my parents for sixteen-odd years, but they still had the power to astonish me. A senior consultant at a major hospital had gone to the trouble of escorting a patient to the station. He had taken him, as I later heard, by taxi. He had insisted on reimbursing his train fare. My astonishment must have showed.
“David’s worth it, Peter,” said Mum. “Worth every penny. He talked, a lot. Mainly about you. That since he lost his parents five years ago not a single soul had treated him as a human being. His problems used to dominate him, until you turned up. Since then, they’ve loomed less large. It’s not so often that he’s reminded and goes into a nose-dive. His insomnia and his nightmares have vanished. You’ve performed a miracle, he says. And I agree. You’ve never done better work in your life, Peter, than in the last two weeks, and maybe you never will. You’ve turned round a young life, and a brilliant one. Nothing against Doug — he’s great — but David’s in another league.”
“Thanks, Mum.” I might have said a lot more, but my heart was too full.
“And Peter, that brings me on to a word of advice. No, that’s wrong. I mustn’t try to influence your love life. I’m just giving you food for thought. David’s bright, beyond his chronological age, and far beyond his bodily age. In one sense his problem may actually have helped. Historically, you see, puberty’s been getting earlier, whether from better nutrition or chemicals in the food chain or whatever. So development of teenagers’ bodies has got out of sync with development of their brains. Which means their brains lag behind and struggle to cope with the changes in their bodies. David’s been spared that. It’s not his brain that’s lagging behind, but his body, and he’s more than ready for it to catch up. He told me how you comfort him in bed. Have you considered offering him more than comfort?”
I was flabbergasted. But before I could reply, Mum went on.
“I suspect you started by simply pitying him. Then you came to like and admire him. And now you’ve moved on to loving him. But you’ve done nothing about it sexually because of the taboo against doing it with pre-pubertal kids. That’s what I suspect. But don’t worry, I’m not going to embarrass you by asking if I’m right.”
Mum and Dad had never embarrassed me.
“You are right, Mum. But it isn’t that simple. All right, we’re both sixteen, so it wouldn’t be illegal. But I don’t even know if he’s gay. Maybe his sexuality hasn’t emerged yet. But suppose that he is gay. If he were normal in other ways, I wouldn’t have any problems. But it’s partly the pre-pubertal thing that bugs me. And partly his mental trauma. After all, its basic cause was sexual, wasn’t it? His best friend was raped, and he saw the horrible result. Doesn’t that tell him that sex is nasty? And especially anal sex?”
“I’m sure it did, for a time. He may still have residual doubts. But we don’t want him to go through life thinking that, do we? He’s plenty intelligent enough to understand already that sex can be good, in theory. It certainly wouldn’t hurt his therapy if he were shown that it is good, in practice. Because he is gay, you know. And he’s more than willing to be shown.”
“How on earth do you know?”
“He told me, of course. I’m his psychotherapist, remember.”
“Er … Mum … Confidentiality?”
She laughed. “Fair point, Peter. But I asked him straight out if I could pass that information on. And he said no, not on any account, to his guardian or his GP or anyone on the staff at Dorcic. But yes to anyone reliable. Those were his words. Well, I know you’re reliable, and so does he. In fact I’m as good as certain he was hinting that I should tell you.”
That put a totally new complexion on things.
“For your part, Peter, now that you’ve lost Doug in that sense, you’re free to redirect your love elsewhere. For David’s part, he’s got to the point where he wishes you’d go further. But he doesn’t know in detail what going further might entail, because in practice he’s totally inexperienced. Yet he still wants to. I’d venture to say that he needs to. Because, as you’re well aware by now, Dad and I hold the view that sex — responsible and caring sex — is positively therapeutic for both parties. It’s the fullest physical expression of love.
“You see, Peter, for five years David’s been rejected by everybody, even his teachers. His confidence and self-esteem have been at rock bottom. This past fortnight he’s found that after all somebody does value him. Already you’ve helped him enormously by giving him so much of yourself. Speaking as your Mum, I see nothing against you going the whole hog and giving him the lot. Speaking as David’s psychotherapist, I see everything in favour of allowing him to express his love for you. Because he does love you, you know. He didn’t call it that, not to me at least. Maybe he didn’t dare. Maybe he doesn’t wholly understand it. But he wants to give as well as receive, which is entirely right. He’s recovering remarkably fast, but he still needs an outlet for his love, just as you need an outlet for yours. And sex is the fullest way of expressing it.”
I was struggling for words. But she had not quite finished.
“If you decide to go that way, express it with the utmost care, of course, given the circumstances. You don’t need to be told that. Gently. Slowly. Explain what the options are, and don’t do anything he’s not comfortable with. Just as it’s going to take a long time to put right the physical results of his trauma, it’s going to take a long time to sort out all the psychological effects. But that, in my view, is the best way for you to carry on your good work.”
As I said, my parents retained the power to astonish. I spent the next two hours in deep thought. Then David burst in, a-bubble. His priorities were clear.
“Here’s your medicine,” were his very first words. “Direct delivery from the hospital pharmacy.” He unloaded three bottles of sherry from the little bag he had taken for the purpose. “And I could do with a dose myself.”
To which he helped himself.
“Aaaah!” he said. “That’s better! What else? Your Mum and Dad are brilliant, Peter. So understanding. We talked for ages. We hit it off. They told me to call them Sophie and George. They did all the tests. Oh, and they gave me a souvenir.”
He produced a printout from an x-ray of a hand. To me it looked like any old hand, but it was evidently a very particular young hand.
“And now we just have to twiddle our thumbs for two days.”
I did not tell him that Mum had been on the phone. I was not ready to. But that night, when I got into bed with him, I began to follow her advice. Slowly and gently, she had said. So for the first time I gave him a hug that might be taken as a love-hug rather than a comfort-hug or a merely reassuring arm across his back. He responded warmly. And for the first time I ventured a kiss, on the cheek, and he kissed me back, on the cheek. I could also feel his hard-on against my thigh. As before I ignored it, and mine, though this time it took a lot more self-restraint. But his sigh of disappointment seemed to contain hope, as if he was sussing out my tactics.
The next night was the same, except that we kissed each other on the lips, no more than a peck. Again I sensed that he sensed that we were on our way.
The night after that, Friday, soon after dinner, just as we were settling down to our homework, Dad phoned. He told us to do our Siamese twin act with my mobile.
“David, the results are in. Your bone age is as we thought, or even a bit higher — it’s nearly twelve years. But everything else is totally unexpected. We ran hormone tests on Wednesday’s blood sample. And whereas two weeks ago they showed zilch or minimal, now they’re all healthily positive. Not at full-blown puberty levels yet, but your system’s at work again. Both growth and sex hormones. We’ll do blood tests every few months to make sure. But so long as this continues, you won’t need any treatment.”
David beside me heaved a great sigh.
“This is a completely new one on me,” Dad confessed. “I’ve never come across it before, or even heard of it. So I’m afraid, David, you’re going to be the subject of a paper in an endocrinological journal. Anonymously, of course. But even so, I can guess what’s made it happen so suddenly. Five years ago you had a dreadful mental shock. Red lights came on all round. Your whole hormone system ground to a halt. And now the lights have turned green and it’s moving forward again. Can you think of anything that’s happened these last two weeks to change those lights? To kick-start things back to life?”
“Good luck to you both. And good night!”
David did not move. He looked as if he was working out rapid sums in his head. Bugger our homework. This was vastly more important. I eased him off the bed, sat him astraddle on my thighs, and took him in my arms. It was emphatically not a comfort-hug, which he currently did not need. It might be taken as a congratulations-hug, and so in part it was. But he instantly saw that it was more, and hugged me fiercely back, his head over my shoulder. We fitted nicely together.
“Oh God, Peter!” he murmured in my ear. “You’re good … You know what’s happened, don’t you? … Why my hormones are on the march at last? … It’s because I love you … And I do want …”
He tailed off, unable to say it.
“And I love you too, David. I’ve been trying to hide it, but I can’t any longer. And I want to too … to give you everything … to show you how much I love you.”
He gasped, pulled back to look at me incredulously, then planted his mouth firmly on mine and held it there. He did not know what to do next. After all, who could he have learnt it from?
“Shall I show you how to kiss?” I asked, breaking free. “Kiss deep? Like they do in the films. It’s brilliant, if you don’t mind the, um, wet.”
He nodded vigorously. Soft nibbles, lips on lips. Gently probing tongue. Deeper, full mouth, exploring, more and more passionate. He learnt quickly, and gave as good as he got.
“And I never knew!” he said in wonder as we disengaged, panting for air.
“How could you? But now you do. How much further do you want to go?”
“Ummm. I’m not sure what’s on the menu,” he admitted sheepishly. “Short of …”
Again he tailed off. So I explained that we both had hands and a body and, most sensitive of all, a mouth and a cock (not to mention balls) and an arse. Of the possible combinations, some were not wildly exciting, like hand on hand or arse on arse. But the others were rewarding. Mouth on mouth, kissing, as we had just been doing. Hand on body, stroking. Hand on cock, wanking. Cock on cock, humping. Mouth on cock, blow-job, or sixty-nining if both of us did it at the same time. There I left it.
“I like the sound of those,” he said. As always, though, he was neat-minded. “But you haven’t mentioned all the combinations. Like hand on arse.”
“Or rather finger in arse, massaging your prostate. I can explain about that later, if you’re interested.”
“Hmmm.” He sounded very dubious. “And mouth on arse?” he asked even more dubiously.
“Rimming. I’m not sure I’m keen on that.”
“Nor me. And cock in arse — what do you call that?”
“I don’t much like the f-word. I’d rather call it buggering.”
“I categorically don’t want that … because …”
“Entirely understood.”And I really did understand. “I’ve never done it myself anyway, not even with Doug.”
“Nothing in my arsehole, then. But all the rest, yes please. Talk me through it, Peter.”
“First, then, another kiss. But before that, undo your waistband and zip. And David, if you find us doing anything you’re not entirely happy with, say so at once, and we’ll stop.”
He sat down again on my thighs and, as we wrestled wetly, I lifted his shirt and stroked his velvet back. Easing down his trousers and pants, I continued over his buttocks, between them, and round to the front. His little balls were tight, his little cock was rigid. He twitched when my fingers passed close to his anus, but through his kisses he was moaning. Then I helped him off with his clothes and for the first time admired his body in total nudity. Immature, yes, but behind it lay a mature mind. For the first time I saw no contradiction at all.
“Strip me off now. No hurry.”
He did, garment by garment. As each came off he inspected and explored what had been revealed, and especially the areas of hair. He stroked my face, fingered my armpits and treasure trail, ran his hands over my shins and thighs. To him, this was new territory, as new and unfamiliar as China had been to Marco Polo. Though aching with desire I could not grudge him the time he spent on looking and feeling. Well before he reached the end I was moaning too. Finally he eased my pants off.
“God!” he cried. “It’s huge!”
It is not in fact huge — barely average, I would guess, if that — but David had nothing but his own to compare it to.
“I never knew!” he repeated. “And it’s in a bloody forest!”
Well, yes, comparatively again. And once he had finished feasting his eyes and hands, I took charge once more.
I have been relaxed and down to earth, so far, in describing David’s body, and mine, and our foreplay. But here I must draw down a partial veil. What precisely we did hereafter in bed is too private and too personal to spell out in minutely detailed blow-by-blow accounts. An outline is all that I will offer.
First I wanked him, slowly and gently to begin with, holding his body as close and as tight as I could. Moaning more than ever, he clung equally tightly to me. Then “Faster, please,” and “Harder!” By now he was bucking against my hand. Finally he tautened and spasmed but, as expected, had no semen to shoot. I put my other arm round him and did not loosen my hug for five minutes, until he had finished quaking — quaking not with tears, nor with the after-shocks of orgasm, but with the release of God knows what deeper-seated tensions.
Once he had recovered he masturbated me, with delicate and loving care. I too had to ask him to speed up. And when I came, it was harder and more copiously than I had ever come before. David, despite my advance warnings, was caught by surprise.
“I never knew!” he said yet again. “That was incredible! I’m not going to be able to do that for years!”
“Not till Kingdom come?”
We both cracked up with laughter. But, after that first and glorious round, we rapidly fell asleep, wrapped in each other’s arms. Mum had been proved entirely right. It had been the fullest expression of love, for both of us. It had been therapeutic. David had not merely wanted it but had positively needed it. His spectres, or at least some of them, had been laid. And I venture to think that I, though spectre-free, had positively needed it too.
Saturday morning school was purgatory. As we came back to S312 from lunch David grabbed me and buried his face in my chest.
“I’ve never been so happy, Peter. Not even before then.”
Saturday afternoon we spent back in bed. And Saturday night. We had sex again, several times, graduating from wanking to blow-jobs. I feel no need to apologise for that. After all, they say that sixteen or seventeen is the age when one’s sexual urges are at their height and, while David’s puberty might be laggard, his desires and his bodily needs were entirely up to speed for his chronological age. They now seemed, in fact, to be in overdrive, trying to make up for all that lost time. But after a while it was clear that what he needed above all was physical contact, skin to skin. It gave him reassurance that he was loved and the chance to purge more of his ancient loneliness. Sometimes he was in tears of happiness. For the most part, had he been a cat, he would have been purring. And so would I.
At one point, as I was luxuriously stroking him, I was reminded of something I could not at first pin down. Suddenly it came back. John Donne, of course — who else could it be? I recited it to him.
“Licence my roving hands, and let them go
Behind, before, above, between, below.
O my America, my new found land,
My Kingdom, safeliest when with one man manned.
“Though I’m not sure what America’s got to do with this Kingdom.”
David giggled wildly. And, moonstruck lovers that we now were, it turned into a regular game. He was well-read — after all, he had had little else to do with all his spare time — and he joined in with gusto. On Sunday we borrowed the punt once more and crossed to the towpath, which we followed upstream. There were long stretches where the adjoining meadows were not fenced off. They were overlooked by no houses and, it being October now, there was virtually no traffic on the Thames to witness our tomfoolery. Here we cavorted like children and played our literary games.
“Me and my Truelove will never meet again,” David warbled, gesturing dramatically at the river, “On the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.”
“A horse! A horse! My Kingdom for a horse!” I countered, trying vainly to climb on his back.
He ran away, and in chasing him I tripped over a tussock and fell.
“The course of Truelove,” he pointed out sweetly as he pounced on me, “never did run smooth.”
Flat on my back, with him face-down on top of me, there was only one thing to do. I kissed him.
“There,” I said. “We have kissed away Kingdoms and provinces.”
And less frivolously, as he kissed me back, he murmured,
“My Truelove hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given.
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss.
There never was a better bargain driven.”
Autumn it may have been, but it was the springtime of our love. And never since have I worn pyjamas. Nor has David.NEXT CHAPTER