chapter 73

After 7 years of writing this is it for now.There are many people I would like to thank. Dana and Bill for the editing they have done on this story. Especially Dana who has done most of it for the last few years. Not only for the editing but also for the support you showed and the fact you introduced me to the most important person in my life at this moment. And then of cause all of you who have been writing to me to encourage to go on and who have kept faitfull waiting for new chapters to be born and published.

This story has been much more for me then just writing, the change to develop characters in a story can’t never go without the development as a writer yourself. You grow you move on, look back and take the next step. That together with the sometimes very enthousiast respons kept me moving towards the end for now.

If you want to be kept informed if and when I will start a sequal on this story send me an e-mail to [email protected]. I will keep you informed in the future if there will be more of Nick and Francis. As I can assure that somewhere there is more I can feel that but not for some time now.

If you have read this story for some time and never send me a line I would like to invite you to do so, so at least I have some idea if there are people who read the story. mail me at [email protected]

Ok lets do this final bit where …….

WOW!  He’d seen me before … before that moment we’d looked into each other’s eyes at the gym.  Seemingly he’d been thinking the same as I had earlier that afternoon. 

We’d only been driving for a minute or two and I realized that I didn’t have anything to give him, so I rapped on the window between me and the driver. 

“Can you go back for a moment?  I forgot something.” 

“Yea, if you think it’s important.”

“I think it is.” 

“No problem.” 

I wanted to give him something and the picture I’d sketched that afternoon was the perfect gift.  I knew he probably would have liked a sketch of myself, but the last thing I wanted to do was a self portrait. 

I ran into the house and went straight upstairs without shutting the door. 

“You forgot something?” my dad asked me when I came back downstairs. 

“Well … see … I … hmmm … dad, do you have an empty picture frame I could have?”
 
“For that?” he asked, pointing at the rolled up paper I had in my hand. 

“Yes … I’ll explain tomorrow.” 

“Well, if you want, you could take one of the old ones we put upstairs when we moved in.”

“Thanks, dad!”  I rushed upstairs again and found a frame.  I looked at what was in it and … well … I’m not sure I wanted that “art” on our walls anyway … so I removed it as quickly as I could, I put it aside and mounted my sketch.  I’d do something with the old drawing tomorrow. 

I rushed downstairs and looked at my dad, who was standing at the door with wrapping paper in his hand. 

“Thought you might want this, too.” 

“Thanks again, dad.” 

“Can I see it, Nick?” 

I thought about that and showed it to him. 

“Wow! What an incredible sketch of Francis!!!  When did you do that?” 

“This afternoon.  I found a note in the limo from Francis and thought it’d be a nice present to give him.” 

“Yea, I think he’ll like it, for sure.  Hope you’re not getting used to traveling in style like this … it’s not gonna happen again soon!” he said, laughing. 

I blushed and said good night. 

I got back in the car and told the driver I was ready to go.  I got out a glass of rosé and, as I sipped, I wrapped the framed sketch.  I felt better that I now had something for him with me. 

I enjoyed the ride and my glass of rosé.  When I felt the car slow down, I started to get a bit nervous.  What now, I wondered. 

The car door was opened and I got out.  I looked around and I immediately recognized where I was.  We were at the tiny old restaurant at the lake, the location of our first date.  I smiled and thought … yea, this is the perfect place. 

I looked to see if I could see anyone.  There was no light on in the front of the restaurant.  It looked deserted. 

“Could you please bring this in later, so he won’t see it?” I asked the driver. 

“Of course,” he answered. 

The door opened … and there he was … my soulmate, I thought. 

He smiled.  “At last!  I thought you weren’t coming.” 

“Why was that, Francis?” 

“Well, it took you quite a long time.  I know the driver picked you up almost an hour ago.” 

I smiled.  “Getting impatient?” 

He smiled back.  I’d come up to the door now and he stepped towards me and took me in his arms.  We looked into each others eyes and our lips softly touched … first slowly … then going into a more passionate kiss. 

“I love you, Nick” he said when we came up for some air.  “Please follow me.” 

“Thanks, Francis!  You’d better be careful or I’ll always expect to be picked up in style like this,” I teased, remembering the words my dad had said. 

“Oh, no problem, Nick … I want only the best for you!”  I couldn’t see his face but his voice sounded serious.  He wasn’t joking.  We went through the hallway to the back of the café.  It was the only area where some shadows of light were visible. 

“May I invite you into our private dining room for the evening?  Although I have some things in mind tonight, I just want you to know that if you want or need anything … just say so … OK?” 

“No worries, Francis … I will.” 

“I know.  I just want to make sure … as it’s your evening tonight.” 

He opened the door to the room and I was overwhelmed by the soft light coming from a few spot lights on the wall.  The scene was completed by some candles that were placed around the room … not too many … just enough to make it look really nice and special.  Towards the conservatory at the back was a table which was covered with candles as well.  When I got closer, I saw it overlooked the lake, which was ablaze with light from a series of lamps.  It was all astonishingly romantic. 

“If you’re hungry, we can sit down and start dinner.  If you want to sit down and have a drink on the couch first, that’s good, too.  The main course should be ready in about an hour but we can start with the appetizer when you want.” 

“Let’s start,” I said.  From the moment I’d entered the dining room, my nostrils had been teased by some different but terrific smells from what I expected would be some pretty wonderful food.

He led me to the table and drew out the chair so I could sit down.  He walked to the other side and sat down. 

It felt very special … very relaxing … and yet there was a bit of a tension in the air.  Maybe it was the tension of too high expectations … I don’t know … but it seemed like he’d gone out his way to make this as perfect as he could. 

“So you’d seen me before?” I said, referring to the revelations in his note. 

“Yea … I knew I hadn’t told you before … but I’d seen you for the first time about four weeks earlier when you walked down the hall to the canteen.  I was struck dumb … and I didn’t move for 15 minutes or so.  Then, when I wanted to follow you into the canteen, you’d gone.  During the next four weeks, I saw you several times … but I never got the chance to speak with you.  When I found out that you were helping out the gymnastics team, I had one more reason to get back into the sport as quickly as I could.” 

“Ahhhh … so I was part of the reason you joined?” 

“Oh, I’d have joined anyway … but you were the reason I did it as quickly as I did … otherwise I might have waited till the start of this school year.” 

“Hmm … I’m glad you didn’t, Francis.” 

“Me, too, Nick … me, too.” 

“So, what is this?” I asked, looking at the plate in front of me. 

“Oh, are you hungry?  This is the starter … saumon au Francis …it’s smoked salmon with slivers of peach, drizzled with white wine.” 

“Hmm … it looks great.” 

“Well, let’s dig in and see if it’s as good as it looks.” 

We ate our appetizers and talked a bit about that first meeting at the gym.  Looking back, it’d been love at first sight … not only for him, but for me, too. 

“Hey!!!  Look … a deer,” I pointed out.  I’d seen some movement out of the right hand corner of my eye. 

“Wonderful!” Francis said as he looked out at the lake. 

One deer was followed by another … then a third.  They’d slowly moved towards the lake and now had started to drink in the shallows. 

“Hmmm … the owner told me that, in the past, this happened when the restaurant was closed in the winter but I’ve never seen it before.” 

“Yea … I thought it was closed.  You were able to arrange to use it tonight?” 

“Oh, he was more than happy to oblige.  I just needed to make sure I’d do the cooking myself and, in the end, leave the place clean in the morning.” 

We talked a bit more about the future.  Neither of us wanted to speculate about what would happen when we went to college … but I know he felt as I had that afternoon … that we’d need at some point to think about the future.  But we both had our dreams down the road … gymnastics, drawing, and something to do with teaching kids … all were a part of my future, for sure. 

We exchanged stories about some of the famous people we’d met on the Friday.  Like me, Francis had gotten contact details from several of our famous visitors so he could stay in contact.  Jamie Cullen … who’d I’d not really seen … was one of them. 

“OK … time for me to go and prepare the main course.  You can either join me or wait for me to come back … but you might not like the condition of the kitchen at the moment.” 

“I’ll wait,” I said. 

He strode out to the kitchen.  He was really making this into a wonderful evening.  The tension of the start had disappeared.  I really enjoyed talking as, surrounded by friends and family, we’d not been able to do that lately.

“Here it comes!” he said as he returned. 

He had a big tray filled with fragrant food in his hands … with two plates and several small bowls. 

I hoped everything would be a success … he’d worked so hard to make it perfect.

“If it’s as good as the salmon, then you’ve nothing to worry about.  That was wonderful.” 

He smiled.  “I liked it, too … but still, let’s see.  If you’re interested, this is a medallion of lamb with a smooth thyme and red wine sauce.  The side dishes include some herbed roasted potatoes and a mixture of root vegetables.”

I cut a sliver of the lamb and watched him gauge my reaction.  “Tender, Francis,” I said.  It tasted wonderful … almost delicate in its spicing. 

The tension in his face disappeared a bit and he started to eat, too. 

I told him about David Eddings, that he wanted to see some more of my drawings, especially as I impressed him with my knowledge of fantasy books. 

“You might end up as a cover illustrator for books,” he said.

“Oh, I’m not that good!” 

“You are, Nick … and you know it.  It’s just one of your wonderful talents.” 

“Well, I definitely discovered one in you, Francis … you’re a great cook.” 

“OK, you caught me on a good day … as long as you don’t expect me to cook every night in future.” 

As a dessert, he’d gotten some ice-cream which he covered with more fruit.  We talked some more and enjoyed the evening. 

When we’d finished, he got up and walked towards the bar.  “You want a whiskey?” 

“Hmmm … doesn’t one of us have to drive?” 

“No … we’re spending the night here, Nick.” 

“Oh!  We are?” 

“Yea, I told your dad … and I don’t think he wants us back, either.” 

“I agree … I saw him cleaning his bedroom before I left.  Pour one for me, then.” 

“I think I have just the right choice here,” Francis said. 

“You wanna sit on the couch now?” I asked. 

“Sounds like a plan!  It’s time to spend some time closer together,” he said with a slight blush on his face. 

I sat down on the couch.  Francis walked towards the fireplace and used a match to start a small pile of paper, sticks and logs he’d obviously set up earlier.  It slowly started to glow and then a little flame came to life … slowly in the beginning but it got bigger soon. 

He walked back and sat down beside me.

“Hmmm … yes, this is how I’d dreamed tonight would happen,” he said, then kissed me on my cheek softly. 

I turned a bit and wanted to kiss him on his lips. 

“Wait. Nick.  There’s one more thing that I want to do before our minds get too distracted.”  He turned towards the cabinet beside the couch and took a wrapped gift out of the drawer. 

“This is for you, Nick … my soulmate forever … I promise you … like I wrote in my note.” 

I looked at him and melted completely at that moment.  I knew he meant every word of it. 

I took his present and looked at it … then slowly I started to open it.  There was a small gift box in it.  Was this what I thought it was?  I opened the lid.  Inside was a small silver ring, accented by a little emerald stone. 

“I hope you want to wear this forever … to remind you of our first year together … a year that gave me the confidence that there is no other place for me … other than with you … to care for you … to make our dreams come true together.  I’m here for you whenever you need me.  I trust you … I love you … and I want to make you happy however and whenever I can.” 

For a moment, I was happy that he wasn’t on his knees … as that would’ve made this seem a bit weird … but this was perfect.  I held out my hand … it shook a bit as I felt the meaning of the gesture he’d just made. 

“I will, Francis,” I said.  Appropriate words wouldn’t come into my mind and the last thing I wanted to do was spoil the moment. 

“Just wait here,” I said.  I stood up.  I just hoped that he understood that the drawing was my way of showing him the same emotions … although my approach was not as traditional. 

I saw the surprise on his face as I walked back into the room with the wrapped framed sketch that the driver had left in the hall as I’d asked.  I’d taken that retrieval time to think about the words I wanted to say when I returned.  “I can’t put my feelings in words the way you can … but I hope this will tell you how I feel.  But if I must … then I want to say … you’ve been there for me the last year at a time when I needed love more than at any other time in my short life.  I hope you know I love you very much … and that I too feel like I’ve met my soulmate.” 

He started to rip off the paper and, when he saw the drawing, his mouth fell open.  “Wow!  Nick … this is incredible!  Are you sure I look like this?.” 

“In my eyes, you do, Francis … others will have to say how realistic it is.” 

“Thanks, Nick!  I’ll cherish this forever.  When did you draw this?” 

“This afternoon.  I did it without really thinking … it came right out of my heart.  I just sat there … I started thinking about the last year … and I started to draw.  I think this came out of my thinking about what has happened.”

He leaned forward and we kissed.  We became lost in each other for quite some time … lots of kissing … looking into each others eyes … touching.  We stayed dressed, though I knew that was just for the time being. 

We stayed together … just enjoying our closeness … the whiskey gave us a special connection … just making sure the other knew how much love there was.  I’m not sure how long it took but my bladder let me know it needed a visit to the loo.  While I went, Francis filled up the glasses again. 

When I came back, he’d moved the table away.  “Can I have this dance of you?” he asked. 

In the background I could hear soft romantic music. 

“Yes, of course you can,” I said. 

He walked towards me and reached out to hold me.  We came closer …we kissed … his hand rested on my lower back and a bit on my ass.  He pulled me closer, his head now resting on my shoulder and mine on his.  We moved slowly around the open space … just enjoying each other’s company while listening to the song that I knew but had never found so right as at this moment. 

He started to join in and I could hear the words whispered into my ear.  This is what I heard: 

(If you wanna hear the song, too, let me know and I might be able to provide it for you somehow.)

When the daylight’s gone and you’re on your own
And you need a friend just to be around
I will comfort you, I will take your hand
And I’ll pull you through, I will understand.

And you know that
I’ll be at your side, there’s no need to worry
Together we’ll survive through the haste and hurry
I’ll be at your side.
If you feel like you’re alone, and you’ve nowhere to turn
I’ll be at your side.
If life’s standing still and your soul’s confused
And you cannot find what road to choose
If you make mistakes (make mistakes)
You can’t let me down (let me down)
I will still believe (still believe)
I will turn around
And you know that
I’ll be at your side, there’s no need to worry
Together we’ll survive through the haste and hurry
I’ll be at your side
If you feel like you’re alone, and you’ve nowhere to turn
I’ll be at your side
I’ll be at your side
 
I’ll be at your side
You know that
I’ll be at your side, there’s no need to worry
Together we’ll survive through the haste and hurry
I’ll be at your side
If you feel like you’re alone, you’ve got somewhere to go,
‘Cos I’m right there
 
I’ll be at your side, I’ll be right there for you
(Together we’ll survive) through the haste and hurry
I’ll be at your side
If you feel like you’re alone, you’ve got somewhere to go,
‘Cos I’m at your side
I’ll be right there for you
I’ll be right there for you, yeah
I’m right at your side.
 
Wow!  I started to feel like I was flying.  His words went straight into my heart and only made me feel more loved than I’d ever felt before. 

When the music stopped, he whispered, “I thought this song said exactly what I felt.  Love you, Nick.” 

“Love you, too, Francis.” 

We stared each other in the eyes again, a small smile appearing on his face. 

“You OK if we go lie down?” he asked. 

“Yea, we need to go somewhere.” 

“No, just go and sit on the couch.” 

I followed him, walking towards the fireplace, putting more logs on it.  He had moved the table before and now got a rug or blanket from one side of the fireplace and spread it out on the floor

“It’s a bear rug, I realized.  We could spend the night on it”

“It looks nice and soft.” 

“It is … come down here,” he said in a slightly husky voice. 

I moved towards him.  He kissed me first.  I let him and started to respond.  His hand moved behind my head, touching my hair, using his fingers as a brush.  Then he moved lower.  When he reached the waistband of my trousers, he brought his hands higher, under my shirt, his warm hands touching my back.  I shivered with his first touch. 

“You’re cold, Nick?” he asked. 

“No … go ahead … I’m just enjoying this” I said.

He went on sliding his hand across my back as he pulled my shirt over my head, drawing his hands up my back and arms as he slid my shirt off.  “That’s a lot better,” he said with a smile. 

His eyes now were focussed on my stomach and chest.  His hands returned to stroking my body … he reached for my chest and he stroked my nipples gently before giving each a small twist.  I could feel them start to harden … very hard.  My dick wasn’t too far behind.
 
“Let me,” I whispered. 

He backed off a bit, let his hands hang beside his body, and waited till my hands were behind his back.  I copied what he’d done to me.  Kissing him again, I stood against him and felt his hard nipple pressing against my chest.  I moved a bit to play with it. 

“Stand still!” he said.   “I can’t concentrate on this kiss if you keep doing that.” 

I let his nipple go.  I could feel his hands moving down my back again … reaching my waistband again … now going in to play with my ass. 

“Hmmm … now I can’t concentrate!” I mumbled as his hands pushed my jeans a bit lower and one of his hands reached for my ass. 

He stopped kissing and put his head on my shoulder again.  Standing close together, our chests touching, I could even feel his stiff dick through his clothes.  He moved his other hand behind me so both of his warm hands were now caressing my cloth-covered ass. 

“Hmmm … nice.”  He massaged both my cheeks through my briefs … then he slipped one hand along my hip. 

He went for my zipper and slowly started to pull it down.  My dick wanted to jump forward to feel the warm of the flesh of his hands.  He undid my jeans and, with his hand on my back and the other on the front, he wriggled them downwards taking my briefs with them in the process. 

I felt my dick jump up at least half an inch when his hand moved over my crotch as he slid my jeans off.  I lifted my leg up a bit.  He then moved two hands to one leg and, just like he did with my shirt, he kept his hands on my leg while sliding my jeans off.  He was slowly caressing every bit of my flesh, and I loved it.  He repeated this on my other leg, removing my jeans completely. 

He stepped back a bit to put the jeans aside.  His eyes, though, were still fixed on my body.  “My beautiful Nick,” he whispered softly a few times. 

I just stood there.  I could almost feel him caress my body with his gaze.  It almost felt like we were becoming one. 

I moved closer to him and brought my hands towards him.  “Yes!” was the next sound he made.  Not slowly and seductively … but in need to see and feel more of him … I roughly got his jeans off … feeling his knees, calves, ankles … oh, yea  … his crotch area as much as I could.  His dick stood out hard in his briefs. 

Moving closer together again, we went for a more passionate kiss.  It felt like our love had caught fire.  Our hands were touching each other everywhere … moving up and down … sometimes playing with one of our nipples … sometimes teasingly … sometimes for a longer time.  When both of his hands had reached either side of my shoulders, he slowly pushed me down onto the rug, which I willingly did. 

“Good!  Even more beautiful,” he crooned.  “You look just perfect in the reflection of the candle and fire light.” 

“And so do you,” I answered. 

He now moved to his knees, placing one outside and one between my legs.  Bending forward, he lowered himself over my belly and chest till his face reached mine and another passionate kiss was started. 

He was hovering just above me.  I was still using my hands to play with his body … but, more and more, they were playing with his briefs.  I caressed his dick through them and played a bit with his balls.  My hands wanted more, though … they wanted to feel the warmth of it … directly, without anything in between.  With one hand I got my hands inside and pushed his underwear down.  I could feel him trying to help, one of his hands pushing the other side down. 

I could here him starting to breathe more heavily when, suddenly, his dick sprung out of his briefs, some strings of pre-cum splashing on my stomach. 

“Hmmm … you’re willing and ready!” I said. 

He blushed.  “Guilty as charged,” he whispered back. 

His gaze went downwards towards my cock, and I knew there was a wet spot at the end.  Realising he was looking at it, I started to blush, too. 

“Hmmm … you’re guilty as well, I guess,” he said with a big grin on his face. 

“I think he needs to be freed, too.” 

He moved backwards a bit till his head was at the same level as my crotch.  My dick instantly knew what was coming and jumped up three times, seeking the warmth of his mouth, just two feet away.  As I felt his hot breath so close, more pre-cum dripped out of my pee hole, making the wet spot even bigger. 

He kept his hands beside my body but he lowered his head till it almost came in contact with my briefs.  He waited for a bit and my dick again tried to reach his mouth without any success. 

“Hmmm … think you’re ready now, Nick?”  He looked at me.  I saw him part his lips … he licked them with his tongue … and then turned again, facing my crotch.  Not waiting any more, he leaned over.   Eagerly he took my briefs in his mouth, now mixing the wetness of my pre-cum with the spit of his mouth. 

I let out a loud moan at that point.  I think that encouraged him even more and, quite roughly, he tried to take my dick into his mouth, pushing his lips lower over my soft underwear. 

I knew I had to be careful or I would have come right then and there.  Not that that would have been such a bad thing … but, still, it was too early for this to come to a climax. 

In the meantime, my hands had found the softness of his hair … fondling it … sometimes using my fingers as a brush …. other times just pushing his head down a bit more to encourage him to go on.  I could feel the warmth of his mouth more and more as my briefs got saturated with moisture. 

He moved his head up and looked at me.  “Time to get naked,” he whispered.  He went back but now he took my undies in his mouth, pulled them up and, when, he touched the top of my dick, he started to pull them downwards.  My briefs moved slowly lower.  Then suddenly, as he needed some air, he released the elastic band, which snapped against my balls,

“Ouch,” I yelped. 

He went for it again.  This time he used one of his hands to lower then further until my briefs were tucked underneath my balls. 

“Hmmm … wonderful, wonderful cock,” I heard him whisper.  He moved upwards again but, this time, he used his tongue to leave a wet trail from my balls all the way to the top of my dick.  When he’d reached the tip, he moved forward, looking towards my face again.  At first he failed as my dick jumped again, maintaining contact but then he moved further till our eyes locked. 

“You want more, Nick?” he asked, his voice now deep and seductive as he took in deep breaths.  “Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

I just smiled and looked at him, but I guess he was waiting for an answer.

“I think you’ve seen how ready I am, Francis.” 

I could hardly believe how fast he went back to sucking me … not slowly and gently … but needfully and eagerly.  He moved his head forward, opened his mouth towards me, and sucked my cock with one all-consuming gulp into his mouth … till it reached the back of his throat.  Another loud moan escaped my lips.  He stayed down on it for a moment, closing his lips even tighter around it.  I could feel it sucked in a bit deeper into his mouth and then, when it was time for him to take a breath, he loosened his lips slightly moved towards the top of my dick … then he used his lips to touch it slowly and softly, almost tickling the tender skin … then quickly he slid down again.  This time he didn’t remain with my cock deep in his throat but immediately slid back up to the tip again.  In a steady rhythm he started to suck me … up and down … sometimes tightening his lips tightly around my dick … then again he opened up his mouth and blew warm air alongside it on the way down. 

I knew this couldn’t last too much longer.  I was too horny … too hard and ready for him.  I’m not sure but I thought he knew exactly what I was feeling as he stayed down a bit longer on my cock just before I hit the orgasm level.  I felt my cum make its way up my shaft … then explode into his eager, waiting mouth. 

He gently eased the pressure on my cock and, as he released my cock, I could feel him swallowing, making sure he got every drop. 

I tried to return to normalcy from this wonderful moment as I’d closed my eyes and rested my head on the rug.  I was a bit surprised when I felt skin touching my lips.  Eagerly I opened them … only to feel his tongue slide across mine … and I savoured the taste of my cum … a part of a hot kiss … till I had to break it off, so I could breath again. 

We looked at each other. Love filling our gaze.  He slid his body beside me, giving his hand and arms some rest.  While doing so he pushed me a bit over to one side.  He moved his body a bit so we were spooned together.  He was nibbling on my neck and when, a moment later, I felt his hard dick against my legs, I knew I wanted it. 

I turned around and whispered, “You relax now.” 

He smiled as I could see he knew what I was doing. 

My hands tore his briefs off him.  He’d been nice and very gentle with me but I felt he needed something different.  He’d get a more forceful treatment this time. 

I didn’t hesitate one moment.  I could feel that I’d surprised him as he’d gasped as I grabbed his briefs.  He moaned loudly as my mouth engulfed his cock, almost to his balls.  Then, moving up quickly, my hands joined to feel his legs, moving up towards his balls, touching them … and then sliding again, back down his legs.

After a short time, as I milked his cock, I eased off and made my way down to his balls.  As he’d done to me, there was no foreplay: I immediately took one after the other in my mouth and massaged them with my tongue.  He moaned even louder.  He eagerly moved his hips upwards.  I got back to the top of his dick and, before going back onto it deeply, I blew some warm air over it, this time getting a response from his cock which started to leak pre-cum. 

Once again, going deep on it in quick up and down strokes, I sucked his cock.  My hands still played with the inside of his leg and his balls.  As I got one hand on his balls and the other one just a bit below, he thrust his hips upwards.  Without thinking, my hands reacted to his movements and slid underneath him.  When he dropped his body, both my hands were trapped between the rug and the warm flesh of his ass. 

In that position I had to stretch a bit to feel him completely, so I moved forward a bit, getting one of my legs over his body … kneeling like that with his body in between.  I knew what I wanted and, when I moved my hands a bit and he made the space to accommodate them, I pushed his legs further apart and a bit higher.  One hand moved up higher till I held his balls … the other hand slowly moved towards the middle of his bum, exploring till I found his asshole. 

He groaned loudly as I moved my hands over his body, pushing his ass down a bit.  I had gone down with my mouth over his dick again and, with my concentration split between two wonderful body parts, I was moving with more deliberation. 

My hand had started to massage his asshole slowly, moving them inside the opening, relaxing it.  I could feel him loosen a bit more and slowly I added another one of my fingers.  I continued to open his hole while sucking his dick slowly. 

I’d felt his hands on my back, moving up and down for a few seconds, almost like a massage.  When he’d reached the top again he pushed my hips lower.  I moved them down and slid backwards a bit with my knees.

I was reminded of my own reaction to being fingered when my second finger … which had been exploring the outside of his hole … moved in to join my first intrusion.  As I moved them both around, I could feel his dick harden even more.  He breathed heavily.  When that stopped for a moment, I felt something unexpected … hmmm … he was licking my ass … at first gently. 

“Move closer,” he whispered. 

I took my mouth off his cock and looked back.  As I did that, I moved my hips downwards, my ass getting closer and closer to his face … making it easier for him to reach my ass with his tongue. 

It’d felt good … but I wanted to pleasure him, too.  I felt his dick touch my face.  My thoughts immediately turned back to his dick and I quickly moved my mouth back over it. 

Using my fingers to open his asshole, I got in deeper and deeper till a third slipped in.  When it did, another moan came from Francis’s lips.  He had slowly come closer and closer to my asshole.  When he hit the opening, I had to be careful not to bite down as an electric current of pleasure coursed through my body. 

We continued doing this for a while, letting the pleasure build.  I made sure I’d release his dick for a moment when I could feel it tense up, so he’d be kept on the edge of cumming.  My fingers kept stroking the inside of his ass while his tongue was doing a dirty dance around mine, making it wetter and wetter.  It felt relaxed and suddenly, to my surprise, I felt him slide the tip of his tongue in between my ass lips.  Another eclectic jolt went through my body. 

The next time I felt his dick tense up, I quickly moved away, totally aware at that moment of the erotic feelings he was creating just by tonguing my asshole.  It was wonderful.  It was ecstatic.  It was so much different from other times my ass had been played with … this time, there was so much love in what was happening to me.  Could that mean … yea, it must mean … it felt so pleasurably different.  I stopped moving my fingers around in his ass.  I’m not sure he knew what I was doing to him, he was concentrating so much on what he was doing.  When I slid my hips away so he couldn’t reach my ass any more, he looked up and said, “Hey!  You stopped!  Is anything wrong?” 

“Hmmm … yea … I want you, Francis,” I whispered. 

“What???” he looked at me, confused. 

“I want you, Francis.” 

He didn’t respond right away, so I gave him a hint and moved my ass in the air a bit.  “You know?” 

“Oh!  But Nick!  Oh, Nick … that was not what I was trying for … I just thought you might like it.”  I saw a mixture of guilt and other emotions washing over his face. 

Oh!  He was afraid he’d been hurting me.  “No, Francis.  I want you to go on … I want more … I want to feel you in me.” 

Now his face cleared, his mouth standing open.  “You do?  That’s what you want?  Are you sure?”

“Yea … as long as you keep up what you were doing … slowly … with care and love.” 

“Yea,” he said very eagerly.  “But if it hurts or if you get any flashbacks … you tell me, OK?” 

“I will … now, continue.” 

“OK.  Just go and kneel on your hand and knees.” 

I did as he asked.  He slid away from underneath me, knelt behind me and put his hands on my ass, pushing them a bit outwards, exposing my hole so he could reach it better.  I looked forward, awaiting the touch of his lips.  Then his warm wet lips touched the skin and his tongue started to lick its way in again.  This time it entered easier as his hands pulled my ass lips apart a bit. 

I moaned loudly as I felt his tongue move deeper and deeper into my ass.  It felt like he had a very large tongue as the sensations went deep … very deep.  My dick had quickly gotten back to full hardness again. 

From time to time, he shifted his angle of attack a bit … moving in slightly from the right or left … making sure he touched all over the inside of my hole.  I felt my brain going into overdrive … very different from other times when I’d felt forced or humiliated.  This was pure love, pure good. 

Becoming more and more relaxed, I felt him move in a little deeper, then he slid his tongue out again.  Lost in my own thoughts and feelings, I was startled when suddenly something cold touched my hole.  My brain quickly realized that he’d replaced his tongue with one of his fingers.  It felt different … that was for sure … but still it sent electric bolts through my body, jolts of pure excitement. 

A second finger moved in and he massaged the opening quite erotically.  I could feel my ass opening up again but, this time, I enjoyed what was happening.  When his fingers left, I reactively pushed my hips upwards a bit.  I showed that I wanted more.  Francis must have recognised that, for he whispered, “I think you’re ready for me.”  As he said that, I started to shiver a bit and said, “Yea … give it to me, Francis.  I want it.” 

I waited, not sure for what … but, when I looked back, I saw Francis trying to put a condom on his dick with shaking hands.  I smiled and turned around.  “Hmmm …you need some help, I guess.” 

He looked up into my eyes and said, “Just nervous, Nick … the last thing I want to do is to hurt you.” 

“I know … but, so far, you’re just giving me unbelievable amounts of erotic pleasure and new feelings that are overwhelming me … so just go slow and move on … you’re doing fine.” 

As I finished, I moved closer to him and kissed him on his lips.  My first reaction was to move away as I could taste something different … a mixture of his spit and my ass juices, I thought … but, when Francis reacted by opening his mouth a bit, I eagerly went for more and kissed him deeper.  Our tongues were now duelling in a passionate dance. 

When we came up for air again, he said “Can you lie on your back?  I want to be able to see your face so I know you’re OK.” 

“Sure.”  I turned around, smiled at him, and got comfortable.  He pushed my legs upwards as he inched closer.  I tensed my ass muscles a bit in anticipation as his now hard and proud dick got closer and closer to the entrance of my love tunnel. 

One of his hands went back to my ass … one, then two fingers were quickly inserted, and I slowly started to relax again.  A third finger went in.  Our eyes had been locked but, as a new jolt of pleasurable sensation went through my body, I relaxed my head backwards and closed my eyes. 

He slid his fingers out of my hole and I could feel him move his body closer to mine.  I could feel the tip of his cock touching my ass.  But that was it.  When I opened my eyes, I saw he’d moved his upper body lower … closer and closer.  Our faces came together … he smiled and went for another kiss … soft and passionate again.  Our kisses took my mind completely off what I knew would happen but, with my emotions totally focused on our kiss, I lost track of the feelings in my ass.  Then, during our third kiss or so, my concentration was focused back on my ass as I could feel the warmth of the tip of his cock through the condom slowly exploring my hole. 

He drew back from our kiss as he moved his dick around a bit more and slowly entered it into me a bit.  His eyes kept focusing on my face and, when I closed my eyes again and let out a loud moan, he moved forward again … convinced, I guess, that I was doing OK. 

Now, with each thrust, I could feel him very slowly moving deeper and deeper into my love-hole.  My lover and I were slowly but truly becoming one, I thought.  When he slid back a bit, a new sensation went through my body … another movement making it into a new experience.  He didn’t let it slip out, though, as a bit later, he moved forward again … slowly … a bit further.  He continued doing this and, with each inch he moved in, I cried out more and more in pleasure. 

When he moved in again and didn’t move back right away, I opened my eyes and smiled at him.  He smiled back.  His face was starting to glisten with sweat. 

One of his hands moved up towards my cock and he started to feel it up.  “No … just hold it Francis … nothing more,” I whispered between two deep breaths, trying to speak as clearly as my emotions allowed. 

He nodded and started to move again … out and in … out and in … deeper and deeper.  I’d closed my eyes again, resting my head, enjoying what I felt.  Then, with one more push, it felt like I’d exploded.  He must have hit the right button, I thought … for with that explosion, I felt his balls against mine. 

Wow!  He was inside me!  I think he knew what had happened as he stopped, letting me adjust to the feeling of fullness and pleasure.  I think … no, I knew … he knew how I was feeling … as I’d cried out louder than ever. 

When my breath slowed again, he took that as a sign to move on … and he really started to fuck me … slowly at first … so different than those horrible guys before … but each thrust brought me to a higher level of excitement … and, with each thrust, my cries became louder and louder.  My dick was now thrusting itself through the ring his hand had formed around it.  I’m not sure I was even touching his hand any more … but I could feel the tension building in my balls. 

He stopped again when he’d almost completely withdrawn … leaving me with an empty feeling.  Damn!  So quickly, it felt like it belonged in me … as if it were a part of me.  I pushed my body back a bit, making sure he knew I wanted it.  I opened my eyes again as I did it and saw a smile on his face. 

“Get ready,” he whispered. 

He slid his cock back in and I felt new sensations.  He’d hit the jackpot inside me again and I cried out.  He pulled it back but I could feel his cock harden even more.  Was he getting close?  I knew I was!  His hand had gone back to help me keep my legs up as well as we could.  I’m not sure that was the reason why he’d been able to hit that joy spot again but it might have been. 

Again he moved forward.  This time he stayed inside and a very deep, loud, long cry escaped his mouth.  At the same time, I could feel his cock tense.  He pushed in deeper.  His body convulsed … he was coming, I thought, as I felt his jets of cum squirt into the condom.  At the same time, I sensed my own orgasm … intense … but overwhelmed by the feelings of him cumming in my ass.  His moans slowed down a bit but I felt a second jolt of cum erupt into the condom.  Now it was my turn to shake and cry as well.  Never had I cum so hard!  I could feel it splashing on my face and I was sure it had gone even further.  While I was cumming, Francis let out another cry and drove his cock even deeper into me.  Together we screamed and moaned while our final spurts of sperm left our dicks … mine now landing on my chest and belly … his filling the condom as he slowly slid his cock out … quivering with the final spasms of his orgasm. 

My body was super sensitive … every nerve ending seemed to tingle.  I felt a complete happiness.  I was at one with the man I loved. 

I opened my eyes as his dick slipped out of my hole.  He slopped the condim off … it was filled with his precious cum. 

He looked up into my eyes.  I could read the question in them; I knew what he wanted to know. 

“That was incredible, Francis,” I said softly.  “Just incredible!  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make you understand what you’ve just done for me.  I love you forever, Francis, with every fibre of my being.” 

His face, which previously had shown a bit of concern, now relaxed and he smiled.  “I love you, too, Nick, and there’ll be more lovemaking in the future.  For now, I’m exhausted!”  I’d lowered my legs and he moved closer to my side.  He laid down and, as his head moved closer, I opened my mouth in invitation.  I saw him respond and, as out lips met, another heavy and passionate kiss began. 

After a bit I could feel him start to slide down a bit so he could rest his head on me.  He gently guided me to my side again … he was lying right beside me.  “Just some snuggles to cherish this feeling, Nick.”  Again we spooned and I could feel his body completely against mine … his dick resting between my cheeks and his lips touching my neck … which felt like a never-ending kiss.  I relaxed and closed my eyes. 

I could actually feel every one of my muscles slowly relax and I think even Francis’s breathing had become shallow. 

This was love …

this was happiness …

this was like being one person.

We were proceeding in life together …

together towards everlasting love …

we’d have our painful times …

we’d have our struggles …

but we’d cope together …

forever …

holding each other tightly …

protecting one another from the outside world …

feeding on the depth of the love we felt for each other …

dreaming of a perfect world …

with just us…

our love …

and our dreams.

The end.

After 7 years of writing this is it for now. There are many people I would like to thank. Dana and Bill for the editing they have done on this story. Especially Dana who has done most of it for the last few years. Not only for the editing but also for the support you showed and the fact you introduced me to the most important person in my life at this moment. And then of cause all of you who have been writing to me to encourage to go on and who have kept faitfull waiting for new chapters to be born and published.

This story has been much more for me then just writing, the change to develop characters in a story can’t never go without the development as a writer yourself. You grow you move on, look back and take the next step. That together with the sometimes very enthousiast respons kept me moving towards the end for now.

If you have read this story for some time and never send me a line I would like to invite you to do so, so at least I have some idea if there are people who read the story. mail me at [email protected]

Oh and now there is also the sequal to this story:  Nick Talent’s

chapter 72

 

When I’d done another turn, I started to unbutton my shirt, slowly showing him my chest.  I moved closer and clasped his hands in mine and moved them over my body slowly.  I slid ny body down against his, then quickly stood up, pushed myself back, and slowly took my shirt off.  People were whistling, something they wouldn’t have done in the past but now, with all the training of the last year, I knew my body had started to develop quite nicely. 

I took a step back and took another turn around him, ending up with my back towards him.  Once again, I slowly slid down along his body.  I bent over and felt my pants tighten against my ass.  As I slowly raised myself up again, I’d taken his hands in mine again and now, ever so slowly, moved them over my ass.  Although I had to encourage him at first, I let go when I felt him starting to rub them by himself. 

The music slowed down again … it was time for the final moves, I thought.  I moved forward a bit and turned around with a smile which became bigger when I saw he was quite flushed.  He was blushing like hell.  I swirled around again a few times and then, when I ended up standing in front of him, I moved my hand towards my zipper, opening it slowly.  When I looked up, I saw his eyes were fixated on my zipper.  When it was opened, I slipped my hand in and rubbed it seductively a few times.  I heard more cheers from the crowd.  I took my hand out and now slowly started to lower my pants.  I was close to Francis … not a lot of people would see anything … but, still, it was a bit daring, I guess.  When my white boxer briefs started to show, I heard Francis whisper, “stop, Nick,” in a breathless voice. 

But the music continued and I knew I wasn’t ready to stop yet.  I stepped back again, now with just the band of my boxers showing.  I did some slick moves and got back to Francis’s lap again.  My back towards him, I started to lower my pants at the back.  I could feel his eyes on my boxers.  When they were almost at the bottom of my ass, I could feel his hands touch my ass.  Feeling the warmth of his hand through the cotton did a lot to my arousal and my dick started to grow.  I knew the music was almost finished.  I stepped back again, my pants still down in back but, on my front, still covering most of my undies.  I looked into his eyes and, as I moved closer to him again, I slowly pushed my pants down, showing more and more of my boxers.  First the top of my hard dick, pushing out the front of my boxers, came into view … then, slowly, more and more of my crotch came into view.  I was now so close that I almost sat in lap, with my crotch at his belly area.  I could feel how he’d pushed his tummy forward, trying either to rub it with his body or to conceal it from others. 

I felt unlike anything I’d felt before … totally his … making him smile … happy, horny, glowing … all at the same time.  Then, when the last chords of the second song started, I sat down, my pants now lowered more … slowly, on the last notes of the music, I moved my hips against hiss and felt our hardnesses touching each other.  Our eyes were locked together and slowly we moved closer and closer until I could reach his lips and we were locked in a passionate kiss. 

Later, I heard that several guys had to turn around, as it was just too hot for them to watch … but, at that point, I only had eyes and ears for him … the one I loved … the one to whom I was dedicated completely. 

When I heard the music transition into the third, slower number, we broke our kiss.  I stood up and pulled my pants up, trying to get my zipper around my very hard dick.  I looked at him and said, “one more to go, Francis!”   It was a slow song and we started to dance to it, very close … moving very slowly.  Our eyes were locked together … sometimes our lips would brush against each other … but our bodies stayed as close as they could.  I felt his hardness either pressing against mine or just touching one of my legs. 

Slowly starting to come back to the real world after that seductive dance, I saw that more people had joined in now.  It was a passionate lovers’ dance, for sure. 

When the music finally stopped, we slowly walked off the dance floor without saying too much … but when I wanted to sit down, Francis moved closer and said, “Thanks, Nick!  That was amazing … but, if you ever do that again … be prepared to be jumped there and then on the spot.” 

I laughed a little.  I knew exactly what he meant.  If we’d have been home, I knew what would have followed.  But now, friends of ours moved closer and, although some referred to the dance number, most just seemed to cherish the thought of the love we’d shared on the dance floor.

We stayed for quite a while but didn’t feel like dancing any more … although several people tried to get us out on the dance floor.  It felt too much like cheating after that, so we didn’t accept any of the invitations. 

We left around 1 p.m.  I felt like I was floating on a high.  I knew I was drunk but it was a pleasant level of inebriation.  Now, I’d planned for more interesting things when we got home but I hadn’t taken the effect alcohol into account.  Francis was a bit slower coming to bed and, even before he came to bed, I think I was asleep. 

I slowly became aware of daylight when I woke up.  With the sun streaming into the room, it wasn’t easy to come to grips with the morning.  Opening my eyes was not the most enjoyable thing to do.  I moved a bit to try and get out of the direct sunlight.  I felt Francis beside me.  A smile came to my face.  I opened my eyes more eagerly now and looked straight into his eyes. 

“Good morning, sleepy head,” he said. 

“Morning to you!  How long have you been awake?” 

“Hmm … half an hour or so.” 

“You didn’t want to wake me?” 

“No.  I was just enjoying watching you wake up slowly.  I saw you slowly gain consciousness for the last 15 minutes.  You really have a routine in waking up, you know.” 

I laughed.  “Well, I’m sure not aware of having been awake mire than a minute or two … so I’m not sure what I was doing for the other 12.” 

“That is my secret and I’m definitely not going to tell you.” 

“You enjoyed last night, Francis?” 

“Definitely.  It was nice to talk with all our friends.  We’ve hardly had any time to do that over the last few days.  I was definitely very surprised at what you did, dancing like that.” 

“Hmm … yea … did I go a bit too far?” 

“No … I think you kept it on the edge of being decent, Nick … but it was good that some parts of your dancing were done very close to me.  I’m pretty sure, if it’d gone on much longer, I’d not have been able to keep my hands off you.  You got me all horned up, you know.” 

I smiled.  “Oh, did I?” 

“Yea … and I think you were pretty hard, too.”

“Sorry that I fell asleep …I’d planned other stuff.” 

“That was OK, Nick.  We needed the sleep … it’d been a long day yesterday.” 

“So, what are we going to do tonight?” I asked innocently.

“No!  Stop trying.  You didn’t manage to get any information yesterday … nor will you today.” 

“OK!  What time do you want me ready to leave?” 

“Around 5 p.m. or so.” 

“Good!  That’ll give me some time to do some sketching this afternoon, if that’s OK by you.” 

“Yea, that sounds OK.  We just need to get Steve and the others out of here.  Damn!  It’s nearly 12.  We’d better get a move on.” 

I stumbled out of bed.  “Hmm … they still look good,” Francis observed as he stared admiringly towards my boxer briefs.

“No time, Francis!  We need to get up.” 

“Oh, I’ve been up,” he said with arched eyebrows, “so all we have to do is get you moving!” 

“No, Francis,” I said in mock exasperation.   “Come on … get up.” 

As I pulled the sheets away, I saw Francis’s hard cock in his black briefs.  I heard the door opening behind me. 

“Oh, damn!  I thought you two would at least be decent by now,” Jordan said as he walked in. 

“Hmm … heavy party last night?” he asked while looking at my face. 

“Well, I can’t say you look much better, Jordan.  Just give us a few minutes to shower and we’ll be down, OK?” 

“Are you sure that’ll be a good idea?  We don’t have all day, you know … and you both look like you have other things on your mind!” 

I threw my t-shirt at him and loudly said, “Get out if you don’t want to see any more.  We’ll be down soon” 

“OK!  I’m getting out … but if you’re not down in 15 minutes, we’ll come up … all of us,” he threatened.

“Yea, yea … go away!” 

“Hmm … it seems that, after last night, they want a show, Nick.  Shall we just wait and see what happens?” 

“OK, that’s enough!  I’m out of here!”  He shut the door behind him and we heard him laughing as he went downstairs.

“I guess we’d better hurry.” 

We showered quickly and got dressed.  When we arrived in the kitchen, everyone (Steve, Jordan, Peter, Andrew, David and my dad) were sitting around the table, having some sandwiches with tea or coffee. 

“Good morning, sleepy heads,” dad said. 

“Oh, I’ve been awake for some time!  It was Nick who’s the sleepy head this morning.” 

“Yea, yea … let’s get this over with … what do we need to do this morning?” I said, trying to change the subject. 

Jordan looked at Steve and Peter, who giggled a bit.  . 

“To start with,” Peter said, “I think you need to go and find an agent, Nick.  You could make a fortune, dancing like that.” 

I blushed and said, “Oh, you think so?  Would you pay for another dance, Peter?” 

“No, he won’t,” Francis said before Peter could answer.  “He’ll only dance like that for me in private from now on.” 

“OK!  I guess I’ll hear about that later,” dad said, looking sternly at me.  “But, from now on, let’s keep to the business at hand.  There were two things I think you wanted to discuss this morning if I understood, Nick?  Peter?” 

“Yes … how to handle the TV and newspaper interviews and Steve’s last article.  But I think that second item is essentially between Nick and Steve.  But we have to decide on the content of the statement Nick said you thought about releasing concerning yesterday’s court decision” 

“Yea, that sums it up.  We thought it might be best to release a short statement.  I hoped that that would be enough to get everyone off our backs.” 

“It might help, I think … but we need to focus on equal rights and the importance of the ‘professional teaching program’ in both the interviews.  We discussed this last night at the party and we think that Steve and Jordan should do both interviews.  They were petty much in the midst of everything that happened, and they know what proposals we had for both ideas.  I think we just need to make some rough sketches of our ideas.  Maybe we could work in groups for an hour or so on each of the subjects and see what we had and then massage them into final form.” 

“Sounds like a plan.  Maybe you and I can prepare our statement first and Steve and Nick can work out their article … then the others could focus on the programs and, when we’re finished, we can join them.” 

“OK, let’s do that and make sure something good comes out of this.” 

Over the next hour, we worked on it and I think we got the results we wanted.  Steve had already prepared half of his article and he just had a few questions which he wanted me to answer so he could finish it.  He had written a very positive ending … I guess it was also inspired by my good mood, which I still was in from yesterday. 

Peter had several phone calls during the hour and, when we broke up to discuss our next steps, he said he first wanted to discuss which TV program would interview those involved in the successful sit-in.  He had two invitations from regional networks and two more from national programs.  He though it’d be best to go for the Oprah Winfrey show, as that was the most watched program in our target audience.

We took another half hour to finalize all the details.  Jordan and Steve needed to leave, as otherwise they wouldn’t be on time.  Peter and Andrew were going along for support and to arrange anything that might be needed. 

“OK, since we’ve sorted out my part, I’m going up to my room to do some sketching if that’s fine with you, Francis.” 

“Yea, go for it.  Let me know when you’re ready to go out.” 

“Sure … I’ll give a yell when I’m ready.” 

“OK … see you later.” 

I stood up and gave him a kiss.  I got my sketch book and looked out of the window.  At first I didn’t know what to draw but, after ten minutes or so of focusing on the tranquilizing images from the garden, my pencil just started to sketch something.  Somehow, I was sketching Francis … my love.  I stopped after a time and looked around to see if I could find something bigger to use.  I needed more room, I thought.  I found a big piece of A2 white paper and put it on the desk.  It nearly fitted.  I looked again at the garden and began sketching Francis again. 

My mind wandered as I drew all afternoon.  It went back over the last few weeks, trying to come to grips with everything that had happened … the trial to start with.  It had definitely not been as easy as it could have been … especially with the smear campaign outside the courtroom.  That was not something I’d expected.  But, then again, I’d dealt with it with the support of my shrink.  I was glad that I’d taken the stand and given testimony, as that experience had also helped me to process it all.  Looking back further, I felt it had started out as a bit of play between two youngsters but the shrink had been right … it had gotten out of hand quite quickly.  It might have been fun, playing with Mike, if the doctors hadn’t been involved … though later, I realized, Mike had a rather perverse mind, too. 

But still … the question was … why had I done it in the first place?  Why had I gotten so excited by submissive sex?  That I still didn’t know.  I had worked on it with the shrink a few times but, still, I found it very difficult to deal with.  It seems that my hormones just went into overdrive when I was being humiliated.  It wasn’t anything that I’d be able to work out in the future, either … I knew that.  I’d come to the point where I accepted it.  Best of all, I was slowly starting to recognize the feelings when it happened … like those few minutes in the courtroom, just before the verdict was read.  But, still, I’d not recently come into a situation where my hormones might take over.  During the last few weeks, though, I’d felt that I might be able to handle such a situation a lot better than I had before.  I knew the feelings weren’t bad … they were just there and I had to deal with them.  Maybe one day I’d be able to explain it a bit better and raise it with Francis.  But at the moment I had no idea if he’d get it or not.  If only he could understand how it made me feel!  I knew I could trust him … and there would be a day for sure that I’d need to bring it up with him … as it wasn’t something that I just could let go.  The shrink had said that those submissive feelings could evolve in a way that they could be used in sexual foreplay without any problem … as long as they were part of a loving, equal relationship without pressure.  We’d just leave that discussion for another time.  For now, I thought it was time just to get our relationship into a more stable flow for a while.

For Francis it had been a rough year, too … not only in dealing with all that had happened with me … but also the things with his dad and Brian.  Both situations seemed to have been resolved quite nicely.  His mom was now a regular guest in our house, and Brian and Andy had become good friends of ours.  I think they were beginning to see new aspects of each other, which only matured their relationship. 

All in all, his experiences had had some positive effects on us as well.  We’d come through without too many problems.  Most of our friends had responded positively to what had happened, and the fact that the students of the school had stood behind us 100 per cent was even more of a surprise.  They faced realities and they came down generally on our side.  It was not only something positive for us but I think it would also make our school into a more positive learning environment.  We had gained some new friends … some would be easy to stay in contact with  … some might be a bit more difficult … but all had shown a definite interest in staying friends over a longer period. 

Last but definitely not least … there was the gymnastic experience we’d had over the past year.  It had been a genuine surprise that I’d come out on top.  And with Alexei around, I knew for sure that David and Francis would try to go a lot further than they were now in the sport.  As for me … I didn’t know if it would be a career I wanted to follow or not.  I’d at least give it another go at school for another year but I had other cravings … cravings to let my creative juices flow …for example, in my sketching.  I was surprised it’d been so easy to pick up after so many years.  I had the skills and the talent … I knew that.  Mom had made sure they were nourished and exercised … but after she left, it had been difficult for me to pick them up again.  So it was good I had done so … it showed I had reopened another part of my life. 

Looking ahead, there would be a lot of things changing in the next year.  I knew that Susan and my dad would want to marry within a few months.  They wouldn’t wait very long, I was sure.  Kathy and David would go off soon, too, and would live at Kathy place.  I’m not sure what Susan and dad would do but, in any case, I’d gain another brother as I suspected James would move in with us, too.  I didn’t see him going off with Alexei yet … although they were becoming a steady couple, I could see that. 

So, together with exams and just trying to keep up with everything that was happening around me, I had enough to worry about … but I was just happy that yesterday had gone so well.  Everything would be back to normal as soon as possible.  I looked up at the sketch that I now had almost finished.  Yea, it was a good one, I thought.  I looked into the eyes that I had seen that morning when I woke up.  It was a perfect Francis, lying on the bed, watching me waking up … the covers just half way over his slim, well-muscled body … just preventing him from showing to much … his hair falling half way over his forehead.  He had been so incredibly good for me over the last year.  He’d really become my life partner.  There was no way that I could imagine life without him … not even for a short time … although I knew somewhere deep in my heart that that probably would happen over the next few years as our careers took us in different directions. 

But that was for the future.  Now it was time to think about tonight.  Francis hadn’t told me what we were doing.  I loved and hated surprises at the same time … so I guess we’d see what happened. 

I look at the clock and realized that it was time to have a shower and get dressed.  I had no idea where Francis was, as I hadn’t seen him all afternoon.  I asked dad but he said he didn’t know where he’d gone either.  I just had to wait and see. 

I got dressed in dark blue trousers, a nice red shirt, and a dark blue blazer.  I’d put some dark blue streaks in my hair and was ready to be seen in public.  During my shower, I’d thought about the last chat with my shrink but decided we’d just have to wait and see what happened. 

When the doorbell rang I got up to open it.  “Nervous?” my dad asked when he saw me run to answer it. 

I just smiled at him and he said, “If that’s Francis, go and have fun tonight.  You deserve it.”

“Thanks, dad … you, too.” 

He blushed.  I knew he had a date with Susan. 

I opened the door but Francis wasn’t there.  It was a guy in some kind of uniform. 

“Yes?” I said. 

“Are you Nick?” 

“Yea, that’s me.”

“Good.  Francis asked me to pick you up.  Will you follow me?” 

I followed him to the front of the house and there, just a bit further on, stood a limo. 

“Can you tell me where we’re going?” I asked as I got into the car. 

“Sorry, Nick.  I’m not allowed to tell you, but I can say that it should take us around 30 minutes to get there.  You can have a drink … put on some music … or watch some TV if you want.” 

Wow, I thought.  This is nice!  He closed the door behind me and I looked around to see the interior.  There was a small bar and beside that a small TV set.  On the seat beside me was an envelope. 

I looked at it closely.  My name was typed on the outside.  I picked it up and opened it.  There was a card in it.  I recognized Francis’s handwriting.   Who else, I thought, and I smiled at myself.  He’d gone to great lengths and expense to organize this.  I opened the card and read. 

      For my sweet love,

I know you’re wondering what is going on and where you are going.  I just ask you to trust me as I can promise that we’ll have a wonderful evening together.  I’ve had this planned for quite some time now.  I was a bit worried that it might be overshadowed by everything that has been going on lately.  I think we’re both pleased that this unhappy episode can now be set to rest. 

So you might wonder why I’ve planned such a special date.  Well, today is a special day for me, Nick: a year ago today my life changed, as I laid my eyes on you for the first time.  I’m not sure if you’d seen me at school before we met in the gym.  I’d seen you, and I knew then that I’d found my soulmate.  I know I didn’t want to recognize that at first, as I was startled by the immediacy of the feelings I felt … but, looking back, I’m glad I did. 

So, in thanks, I want to give you a special evening … just for us … to celebrate that we met … and have come to love each other … and have so much to look forward to in the future.  Relax and enjoy the ride. 

      With love,

      Your Francis

P. S.  Don’t drink too much yet … but I can highly recommend a bit of the rosé to start the evening off.  It should be chilling. 

chapter 73

chapter 71

 

David walked towards the hall and said he’d register all of us.  We tried to stay away from the journalists as much as possible.  When he came back, he wasn’t alone.  Jordan, Susan and a lot of others were there and we were congratulated by all. 

“So, do you want a spot in the first row, guys?” Susan asked. 

“No, I don’t think that would be a good idea … not with all the journalists around,” I replied 

“Yea … sorry about that but, after our statement this morning, we’ve had a lot of press attention,” Jordan said.  “We even got several requests for private interviews tomorrow.  I’m sure they’ll hunt you down as well.” 

“Is Steve around?”  I hadn’t seen him at the court house and I wanted to thank him for his efforts to support us. 

“Yea, he’s being interviewed by one of the journalists.  Steve wants to finish it off his series with a final article about what has happened here today, I think.” 

“Can you thank him for me, Jordan, and tell him we can meet up some time soon?  I don’t think there’ll be a lot of time to meet later.” 

“No, there won’t be, I’m sure.  But I’ll let him know.” 

“So, where are the others watching this?” 

“Well, we’ve got so many people here that we decided to put up the big screen in the gym,” Jordan said.  “Otherwise we’d have to put too many monitors in too many rooms.  But, as far as I know, this’ll work out fine.  It might be a bit crowded in there, though.  So if you want to watch it from somewhere else, I’m sure we can arrange that.” 

“No, the gym will be fine.  Good luck, Jordan.  See you later,” I smiled supportively as we walked away 

“You bet, Nick,” Jordan tossed back 

We moved towards the gym.  Dad and Susan went in first and a roar went up when they saw him.  I knew he was quite popular with most of the parents.  He was a good teacher, so the roar was a good sign and brought a smile to his face.  I saw parents loOK a bit concerned at first but, as we proceeded to some open seats, the room started to loudly chant “Nick! Nick! Nick!”  I’m sure they understood what the issues were tonight. 

Again, we were congratulated by a lot of people.  Most of the “day” teachers were sitting in one corner of the room and, although dad proceeded more to the front of the room, I turned Francis and David towards that side.  I saw that some of our friends who had no duties tonight were there as well. 

I saw Randy.  I’d missed him earlier at the court house.  “Hey!  We won!” I said. 

“Yea, I heard!  Sorry I wasn’t there but I couldn’t go and I wanted to avoid the press as much as I could.” 

“I understand … but we nailed them good.  I’m sure that I couldn’t have done it without your help, though.” 

“I’m not sure … your testimony was pretty convincing all by itself.” 

“Well, they might have bullied me … but they wouldn’t have given in that quickly …so it was good that you testified as you did.” 

“Thanks.  I heard you talked with David earlier today, Nick.” 

“Hmmm … yea, I’m a big fan of his.” 

“He was impressed with your knowledge of SF/fantasy writing and said he’d loved to talk with you later tonight at the party.” 

“Party???” Francis interrupted. 

“Yea!  Don’t you think there’ll be lots to celebrate tonight?  I got the impression that it is going to be an all-out victory tonight.  So we organized a party for later and, of course, you’re all invited to join in.” 

“Good!  That is, we’re going to have one later, too, and you’re all invited to join us for Thanksgiving if you want.” 

“Sounds like a plan, Nick! Randy said. 

I saw that Francis had moved towards Andy and Brad. 

“Can I join you down here, Randy?” 

“Yea, this spot is still free.  We’ve attracted quite a crowd.” 

“Yea … I think that most of the students are still here, and a lot of the parents have dropped in, too.” 

“Well, most of the parents are sitting in the hall,” I pointed out.  “But it seems that not everyone could be fitted into the auditorium.” 

“Oh, they’re starting.” 

We sat down and went silent as we saw on the big overhead screen that everyone was taking their places at the big table on the podium.  There was the director of education of the school and the eight teachers and eight parents who made up the committee.  Formal introductions and some announcements were made to inform the audience what the procedures for the evening would be.  An announcement was made that there would be at least one other subject that was on the agenda, but it was up to the executive committee of the board if this second item would be discussed or not.  The director of education didn’t mention what the second point was so that was rather strange, I thought. 

The discussion then was opened by a short resume of what had been going on that day.  Then a few teachers and students were invited to give their comments about the current situation.  Most of them were in favor of what the students had tried to achieve.  One or two were a bit more cautious and stated that they wanted to make sure conflicts like this would be prevented in future.  Some demanded a strict code of behavior for students and teachers alike. 

Then there was a round of statements by members of the parents’ association.  It was quite clear that the positions taken now were considerably less dogmatic than they had been in the past.  The teachers seemed especially more open to a compromise.  You could see that they’d felt parental pressure on them from the last meeting.  Some of the parents seemed to take a more moderate stand.
 
After 30 minutes of discussion … and a lot of boos when some of the more extreme members of the parents’ association maintained their positions … the director of education invited some members of the audience to comment on the discussion.  Again most of the participants didn’t at all understand the decisions taken earlier to suppress the school newspaper and strongly urged the administration to take a more approach to student protest. 

The director of education then closed that part of the discussion down.  One of the parents wanted to open the discussion again but the director of education prevented that. 

“I think we’ve heard most of the arguments now.  I think we’re just repeating ourselves, so I think it best to conclude this part of the agenda.  But before I do that, I want to ask Jordan as spOKesperson for the students to present their demands which would permit the school to go back to normal operations.  Jordan?” 

Jordan stepped to the microphone. 

“I know that most of you were surprised by the action taken by the students.  I must make sure you understand that this is not a protest by just a few students but one that is supported by almost 90 percent of the students going to this school.  I’m not going to go into the amount of support we’ve gotten today from other groups and from students all over the district.  Our demands haven’t changed and are still the same as we presented earlier this week when we started the occupation of the building.  To sum them up: we want the revocation of all decisions of the last parent-teacher association meeting.  Further, we want to make sure that repressive measures like those decided at the last meeting won’t happen again.  We’ve issued a list of student rights that can assure that.  I hope that the teacher-parent association, in all its wisdom, will listen to the voice of the students, even though the association thinks they know best.” 

“Thanks, Jordan,” the director of education said.  “We all have the list in front of us.” 

“I move that we vote on this immediately,” one of the teachers said.  “I don’t think we need more discussion at this point.” 

“Oh, we do.  It’s not that we’re just going to approve all they want,” one of the parents said. 

“I think we can proceed,” the director said.  “Otherwise I think we’re just going to go over familiar arguments.” 

“Oh, well … in that case, I propose we vote twice … once on the status of the decisions taken earlier and one on the proposals put forward by the students.” 

“I second that,” one of the teachers added. 

I was starting to see what they were trying to do.  The extremists knew that they’d lost, but they didn’t want to surrender.  The vote went as I expected.  The decisions of the last meeting were voided but they didn’t approve the new additions the students wanted.  I think perhaps four of the eight teachers and six of the eight parents voted against it.  I saw that the director was talking with the teacher and parent sitting beside him. 

“I adjourn this meeting for a short break of ten minutes.” 

Audience comment in the gym was quite loud.  Some were shouting that they’d continue the occupation and that the best thing to do was to toss the parents and teachers out now.  I could see that some of the parents were quite taken aback by what was happening.  I think a lot of them had no idea what the students had been thinking. 

We talked a bit about the situation.  The general feeling was that accepting the association’s compromise wasn’t good, bit it was better than nothing. 

After the break that lasted closer to 20 minutes, the director informed us that, just before the meeting, he’d received a petition for recall of the present members of the association signed by the required 15% of signatures of both parents and.  The people who’d signed the petition seemed to feel that new elections would be necessary if the association refused to listen to the students. 

There was a storm of protest from the current members of the association as they found that an unjust decision because they had another two years to go before elections would be held.  But the director pointed out the rules and regulations that governed the association.  It seemed that, under the bylaws, if 10% signed a recall request, it was valid and an election had to be held at the first possible opportunity … that is, tonight. 

He explained the election procedure and, to make the appropriate arrangements, the meeting was adjourned again. 

“Wow!  Now that’s a surprise!” Randy said. 

“I don’t think so,” Francis said.  He’d just joined us and heard Randy’s remark.  “I think that they must have been working on that all afternoon.  I think that is the reason why so many parents turned up.  They knew there’d be an election.  Let’s see what the others are saying about the prospect of an election.” 

We walked towards the hall like most of the students, parents and teachers were doing.  It toOK us some time to get there. 

“Let’s go to room 101.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Jordan and the team were there.  They used that as an office all day,” Francis pointed out. 

He was right as most of the protest leaders were there. 

“So, what do you make of this, Jordan?” Alexei asked. 

“I think this is exactly what we need to get what we wanted.” 

“Oh, I think so, as the parents in the gym know exactly how the students feel.” 

“You knew something like this was going on?”  I asked him. 

“Not exactly.  I’d been told that some of the parents had called a meeting as soon as tonight’s meeting had been announced.  I think Andrew and Peter’s parents had a lot to do with it.  I think that, on the teachers’ side, the fellow we toOK around the school this morning managed to get them on his side or at least most of them.  I don’t think we have to be afraid of the teachers’ position so, if we get enough parents over to our side, I think we should be safe.  I don’t think all of the current parents will be replaced.” 

“Well, at this point, you never know what’ll happen.” 

“How long do you think this will take?” 

“The director hopes the voting won’t take more than an hour and then the counting should be done quickly, too.  He wants to do the count in public, so all can see what is happening.  He said he wanted to make sure that there’d be no objections to the final result.” 

“I’ve got the idea that he’s very happy with this outcome.  I understand that, secretly, he wants to get rid of some of the more rigid association members.” 

“Oh, I’m sure you’re right about that.  He told me this afternoon that he was very impressed with what we’d accomplished today.  Of course he understood what we wanted, but he had no choice but to do what the association had told him.  He wanted a large turnout tonight, in the hope that he’d be dealing with a more moderate association.” 

“Well, an hour … that gives us some time to think about what will happen after this is over.” 

“Yea.  Can you come to room 201 in about 15 minutes, Nick, and you too, Francis.  There is something Steve and I want to discuss with you.  Peter and Andrew might be there, too.” 

“OK.  Let’s see if we can get some drinks and we’ll make our way there.” 

On the way to get a drink, we managed to see my dad and congratulate him on how things were going.  He said he was happy that things were coming to a conclusion.  He just wasn’t sure things would help him, but he just had to wait and see.  He told us he has some great news for later on as well.  He wanted us to drop by our house before the party.  He wondered if we could bring Alexei with us, too. 

So, all in all, it went OK.  We were stopped several times again, sometimes by journalists who wanted an interview with us … but we told them that we might do something on the Saturday morning. 

When we arrived in room 201, Steve, Jordan, Andrew and Peter were there already.  I walked towards Steve.  “Thanks for everything, Steve.  I’m happy we’ll soon be back to normal again.” 

“Yea, that’s a big relief for me, too, although I might have ended up with a permanent job as a result of my writing … but it’s better to complete my education first.” 

“I know that all this might not have happened if you hadn’t done the story on me, but I think if we loOK back now, it’s done our community a lot of good.” 

“Well, if I can achieve as much with all my future articles as I did with this one, I’ll be a very, very lucky journalist, Nick.”

“So, what is this meeting about, guys?” 

Peter answered that one.  “We … well, Steve and Jordan mostly but some others too … have been getting a lot of requests for interviews from TV and newspapers.  So far, we’ve been able to put them off but, this afternoon, we realized that what we did here today might have some good influence on student awareness all over the country.  We got a lot of positive feedback from students and it seems that our programs were a general success from an educational point of view.  So if we want this to have a wider influence, we need all the publicity we can get.  We think that bringing attention to student rights is a good idea.  We don’t want a small group of religious people to control what we do and how we think.” 

“It sounds like an opportunity we need to grasp,” Francis said. 

“But we didn’t want to do it without you guys.  You’ve been too important in all of this.” 

“I don’t know, Jordan.  We might have been the genesis of this but you guys, Steve and the rest of the team, put it together.  I think it’d be better if some of you toOK it forward.  I don’t want to discuss what happened to me any more.  I’ve had enough of that in court.  So I say, go ahead.  I agree … it’s too good an opportunity to pass up but it might be better if you do it without us.” 

“He might be right there, Jordan,” Steve said as he though it over. 

“So you’re OK if Steve and Jordan do the talking about this issue?” 

“Yea … I can trust you guys.  Just make sure you focus on the appropriate issue and the quality of the professional teaching experience.” 

Peter loOKed around and toOK some paper off one of the tables.  “OK, then there’s just one decision left.  I’d say we go for just two of the requests and leave the rest.  We can prepare a short statement and release that after tonight’s meeting so we can be ready tomorrow morning … but I think the best way to approach is, an interview for a TV station tomorrow and an interview for a regional newspaper that is put out on Sunday or Monday.” 

“Yea, that loOKs good to us …we don’t want to spend the whole weekend on it, that’s for sure,” Jordan answered. 

“You OK with that, too, Steve?” Peter asked. 

“Yea, do you think it’ll be regional television or a national program?” 

“I don’t know yet, Steve … we seem to have a lot of media attention … and that might increase after the outcome of tonight’s meeting.” 

“OK … you’re handling this fine … so just let us know who’s the one we’re going to support in our campaign as I’d guess that this is only the start of it all.” 

“OK.  Is that all, then?”  Peter asked.  “It is almost time to go back to the meeting.” 

“Yea.  You know what?  You’re good at this, Peter.  Do you think you could come by our house tomorrow morning?  We (my dad and the two of us) have been thinking about what to say to the media, too.  They’re following us around and I think a short statement might help to end their harassment.” 

“That might be a good idea.  I wouldn’t wait too long … silence just intensifies their interest.  Maybe, if you want, Nick, I could do a last personal interview to bring it all to a conclusion.  You know you can trust me … and it might end all the harassment.” 

“Yea … well, let me sleep on this and we’ll get together tomorrow around … hmm … let’s say 11 or so … as I think it might be a late night.  Did you guys hear about the party as well?” 

“Yes, Nick, we did.  I think there’s actually several planned.  We thought for a moment to organize one down here but we weren’t sure if that would work out time wise … so I think there’ll be three or four big ones in several local pubs and bars.” 

“Good!  Well, let’s make it midday then … that would give us enough time to prepare something.  We want to get this out of the way,” Francis said. 

“So, as Steve suggested, we’d better go back and see how far the voting has gone.”

It seemed that the voting had just completed, so we returned to the gym to wait to see what the results were.  Most of the students and several of the guest teachers were still there, but quite a few parents had left.  I think they came especially for the vote.  I wondered how they knew who to vote for.  I hoped the old ones wouldn’t be returned to office again. 

But as the counting started, it became clear that there had been just a few more candidates to vote for and it was generally known that they represented the slate of people who wanted a change in policy.  So, when the ballots were counted, it became very clear that the previous members wouldn’t be re-elected.  Maybe one or two would keep their seats but that was it.  It had been very smart to keep the alternatives to a slate of people who opposed the current policies. 

After about 45 minutes the results were announced: only two teachers and four parents of the old association were returned to office but the others were new.  They were sworn in and they agreed to hold their first meeting immediately.  After a short discussion, there was a revote on the student proposal and, without any hesitation (well, two dissenting votes), it was passed. 

The director closed the meeting after announcing that normal classes would resume on Monday, but that there would be a general assembly at 4 p.m. that afternoon. 

There was just one thing to do after it was over and that was … party time.  We were invited over the course of the next 20 minutes to at least four parties.  We’ go to one … that would be enough after the day we’d had so far.  We found dad in the hall and, after some congratulations, we left to go home.  Susan, James and Alexei were there, too, together with Kathy and David. 

After we got past the journalists who somehow made the trip faster then we did, dad handed out glasses of champagne. 

“I know you all have parties you want to go to and I just want a moment.  I can’t thank enough the people who stood by us during the last few months and kept us going.  For you, Alexei, I know that you played an important role in getting today’s events organized, and I thank you for that.  To you, Kathy and David: I know you have more then enough trouble as it is already but I hope you know that we love you and we’ll be there for you just like you have supported us.  For you, Francis: thank you for being beside us in these rough times.  I know it wasn’t the easiest way to start a relationship but, from what I’ve seen of you, I think Nick has been very lucky to find you.   For you, Nick: I can only say thanks for being there for me, for having the strength to go through all of this.  You’ve amazed me with that strength.  Just know that we’re a family who’ll always be available to help whenever you need help.  For you, Susan, who I’ve become dependent upon faster then I could imagine possible: I was afraid you’d back off when the accusations started, but I found out quickly just how much spirit you have.  I can’t say how happy I am that, this morning, you agreed to become my wife.” 

He stopped after that word and I looked at him … at David … at the others … and then we both (David and me) flew towards him to congratulate him.  I saw James doing the same with Susan.  She was the next on our list.  Though we didn’t know her well, she seemed to be a very kind and sweet person … perhaps a little old fashioned … but a fine match for my dad.  More champagne was poured for the next 30 minutes or so.  How much better could a day get, I thought at that point. 

We told dad about the press statement and other interviews that were planned to move the professional teacher program into action as well as the equal rights issue.  He agreed that it was indeed a good idea to press forward.  It would take more time and convincing to get it done but, with the support of the board of education, who knows what might happen?  Alexei said he knew that more people from all kinds of professions would be interested in contributing a few days a year to a program like the one we were proposing. 

We then went to our rooms as we wanted to freshen up before leaving.  Alexei and James had gone with us as they would join us for the party.  David and Kathy were going somewhere else. 

“Hey, guys … you didn’t tell us where we’re going.” 

“The gay bar … we rented it … it’s going to be completely ours tonight.” 

“Hmm … ours … who is ours?” Francis asked. 

“Well … the gang … quite a number of the people who taught today and a number of students as well.” 

“Ah, well, we’d better get a move on then,” Francis said and started to undress in the room. 

“Hmm … I don’t know if this is a good idea, to do it right here in the room, guys,” Alexei said. 

“Oh … are you getting shy now, Alexei?” James giggled. 

“Yea … no reason for any of that,” Francis said.  “We’ve seen it before and, anyway, we’re going to be family soon.” 

Oh yea, I thought.  Now that was strange.  “You’re going to be my brother-in-law then, I guess, Alexei,” I said. 

We laughed and smiled as we realized that.  We were quite a bunch together. 

We changed clothes and, although a bit shy, I noticed we all checked each other out as it just seemed appropriate with so many good looking hunks around. 

We made it out of there without too many hardons, I suspect, and that was good. 

Alexei had been right: when we entered the gay bar, it was filled with people.  The identities of some students were a bit of a surprise for me but others really weren’t.  Some were there just to support us … others came out that night just to enjoy the friendly environment we’d created. 

I talked a lot with several people.  I had a good conversation with David Eddings who, to my surprise, was still around.  He had a book signing in a shop in town tomorrow before he went back home.  We swapped e-mail addresses so we could keep in touch. 

I had a good talk with both Andy and Brian who, although I hadn’t chatted with much before, I knew had been very good friends to Francis at a time when he needed to blow off steam. 

A number of people tried to get me to dance with them.  They’d been there before and had seen Francis and me dancing, I suppose … or they must have heard about how much we enjoyed dancing … but I wasn’t in the mood for it. 

I’d drunk some nice whisky and started to feel a lot more relaxed.  The stress of a great day was just starting to flow out of me.  Francis had been on and off the dance floor and was now standing beside me with a cola. 

“So, what time do you want me to be ready tomorrow and what do I wear?” 

“Oh, no, Nick!  I haven’t had anything to drink, so you can’t trick me that easily.  I won’t tell you anything, so stop trying to find out what we’re going to do tomorrow.” 

“I know you’ll tell me eventually … you can’t keep that from me forever.” 

“Oh, I will … don’t worry!” 

“Hmm … Alexei, as a future brother-in-law, you must tell me if you know where we’re going tomorrow.” 

“You have a date, then, Nick, with Francis?” he said with an innocent face. 

“Ahhh!  You do know!  Now, a new challenge!  If Francis won’t tell me, maybe you will.” 

“Stop it, Nick!  If you want to know, you can keep trying to find out from me … but keep the others out of it.” 

We talked a bit more and I thought I’d give it another try.  It was starting to become a bit of a contest now. 

“Shall we dance?” I asked Francis and gave him my best seductive smile. 

“Are you sure?  I don’t want you to faint or anything.” 

“No, I can handle it, don’t worry … just as long as you can.” 

I walked towards the dance floor.  I was going to get him where I wanted him.  I asked for three songs to be played and they said they’d be on in a few minutes. 

“So what did you ask for, Nick?” he asked. 

“You’ll see in a moment, Francis … just be patient.” 

I saw that he was thinking about it.  I drank my whiskey and when the DJ signaled me, I knew it was time.  “Come on … let’s go.” 

“OK, girls and guys … now a special three number request from one of the greatest dancers I’ve ever seen here.” 

Oh, damn!!!  He must have recognized us from the last time, I thought. 

At least the announcement gave us some space as, when we entered the floor, some stood back to watch us. 

“What do you have planned, Nick?” Francis whispered as we centered ourselves on the floor. 

“You’ll see, Francis … just try to keep up with me.” 

I’d asked for a fast mover to start with.  It was perfect to get him in a state of dance shock, I knew that.  The second was one I knew he loved.  The last one was a slow one just to come down and relax. 

There we go, I thought as I heard the first sounds coming out of the speaker. 

“Great choice,” he whispered and we started to move around.  Just like in the past, our minds and bodies worked perfectly to the music.  We immediately got into a simultaneous dance rhythm.  It must have looked as if we’d practiced this an awful lot of times.  The song continued faster and faster and, although our bodies were hardly touching each other, we copied each other moves without any problem.  It felt great.  I knew we should do this more often.  It felt like we were almost one.  I felt the end of the song coming close and started to prepare myself for the second.  Oh, yea … when I look back, I think I was stupid to do it … but I had had a bit to drink and my normal shyness was certainly gone. 

When the music died down for a moment, I looked around and saw a lot of people were watching us.  I smiled.  I saw Alexei saying something to James, who started to laugh.  I found a chair in the corner of my eye and got it.  I got back to Francis and, when the second song started, I took him in my arms.  He looked into my eyes and, as we continued to dance, I moved him slowly towards the chair.  As the music increased in intensity, I pushed him slowly onto it.  Again, his face questioned what I was doing, but I just smiled at him seductively and then slowly started to dance around the chair … moving my hips wildly, sometime close to his hands but always far enough so that he couldn’t touch me.

chapter 72

chapter 70

 

What was that all about?  There shouldn’t be anything new until next Thursday, or so I thought.  I dialed the number and waited for the secretary to answer. 

“Hi, there.  This is Nick.” 

“Oh, yes.  Wait a minute, Nick.  I’ll have to forward your call to the courthouse as he’s been there all morning.” 

I waited and then got through to him. 

“Hi, Nick!  I’m glad you called.  We have a new situation at the moment.  Last night the defense lawyers contacted the judge and asked him to begin deliberations as they want this over with as soon as possible.  They didn’t contest any of the evidence submitted by us and they don’t want to make any closing arguments, either.  It seems they want this over as quickly as possible.” 

“Is that possible?”  I asked. 

“Well, it’s not the most common procedure but it’s happened a few times before.” 

“So now what happens?” 

“Well, the judge contacted the foreman of the jury and they decided that the jury would meet on Friday to see if they could reach a verdict or not.  So this morning, behind closed doors, they were given instructions by the judge. 

“Oh, isn’t this all very strange, sir?  It loOKs to me that they feel sure they’ll win because they’ve bribed a number of people of the jury or something else.” 

“Well, I’m not sure what they’re thinking, but the Judge has decided that the trial should end now.  He didn’t want to extend the publicity longer than necessary.” 

“But were all of the members of the jury available on Friday?” 

“Yes, they had to be available both on Thursday and Friday, just in case any part of the trial toOK longer than planned.” 

“OK, so now what?  Do I need to come in?” 

“Yes, I asked the judge about that but the jury has asked to have time to consider their verdict until 3 p.m. to see if they could reach a verdict.  So, if all goes well, we should know the verdict by 3:30 or so.  Is that enough time for you to come to the courthouse?” 

“Yea, it takes only 20 minutes to get from school to the court house, so just let me know what’s happening.  Do you want me to leave my mobile on?”

“Yes, I think that would be best, Nick.  Are you OK with all this?  It’s going a lot faster than we thought it would.” 

“Yea, no problem.  I’ll see if I can contact my dad and Francis before 3:00 so they know what’s going on.” 

I hung up.  Oh, yea … no problem, I’d said but I wasn’t so sure.  I’d had to sit down slowly during the last minute or so when it became clear that today could be judgement day.  Though I was sure they’d be convicted, I had a nagging feeling that they might not.  I knew I was afraid of that as I had no idea what a verdict of innocent would do to me or the effect it would have on my future. 

The bell announcing the end of break went off and, in a bit of a daze, I walked towards the next class. 

[From Francis’s point of view]

“Are you ready for this, Jordan?” I asked. 

“I’m not sure, but we’ll see where it leads.  You’re going to be on the stage with us, Francis?” 

“No, I think this is yours and Susan’s bit to do.” 

“We’ll see.” 

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he started as he climbed onto the stage.  “Please be quiet for a moment so I can pass along some information about procedures.  We’ll start by making a statement first, so that all the students in class throughout the building will know what’s going on.  Then there’ll be a short statement from our director, followed by a period for questions.” 

“OK, systems ready?” Susan asked. 

“Yea, go ahead.” 

“Fellow students, we promised you an update on what was happening as soon as we could.  In a moment we’ll inform you of the outcome of our morning session with representatives from the parent-teachers organization and members of the board of education.  At the moment, we’re down here in the auditorium.  The information I’m providing you is part of the statement that is being issued to the press at the same time.  Copies are available down here, and everyone will have the opportunity to ask questions when we’re finished.  Jordan is going to update you about what happened this morning.” 

“Thanks, Susan.  Well, I can tell you that the board of education has decided that there’s no reason to ask the police to empty this building empty, as we’re being taught just as the rules say.  Also they have urged the director to hold a new meeting of the parent-teachers association as soon as possible to discuss the situation.  This will happen tonight at 6 p.m. down here in the hall and it will be a public event in which several students will be permitted to state their opinions.  I ….” 

He had to stop then in response to the roar of approval from all the students in the auditorium.  I knew, just as Jordan did, that this announcement alone must have felt like a victory for most of the students.  I could see him smile.  I loOKed around at the reporters and others to see how they were reacting. 

When the applause stopped, Jordan continued.  “Please, I know this feels like victory but it’s not done yet, although I hope that, with your support, we can convince the teacher-parents association.  For this reason, we call upon all teachers and parents of students of this school to come to this building tonight at 6 p.m.  The meeting will be held in the auditorium and anyone who can’t fit into the auditorium will be invited to join in and listen to the debate in the classrooms available.  For you students, I ask everyone who wants the chance to speak to the meeting to come forward and tell someone from the organizing committee.  For members of the press, I have just a few things to add.  In addition to the information I have given before, I can tell you that some of today’s teachers are able and willing to answer question at a later time to be announced after lunch.  I want to end this statement by thanking the board of education for their attendance today and hope that they will learn from their investigations and set in place a number of reforms that will only make our educational system better.  Now I want to give the floor to our director.” 

“Students, parents and teachers: I can only support Jordan’s invitation to tonight’s meeting.  It will be held according to the rules of the association but it’ll also be a public meeting which it should have been in the first place.  I also want to stress that, if any parent or teacher wants to put forward any points that need to be discussed, they are welcome to submit them before 4 p.m. this afternoon.  To the press, I want to emphasize that I’m proud of the achievements of the students and that I hope they can respect tonight’s discussion and its outcome.” 

At that point I was distracted by the ringing of a mobile phone. 

I recognized the number as Alexei’s and answered it. 

“Francis here.  Anything wrong, Alexei?” 

“Yea.  I was teaching in the classroom beside the one Nick was in, and he just fainted for some reason.” 

“Damn!  Where are you?” 

“I’m up in room 304.” 

“OK, I’ll be up there in a minute.” 

Now what? I thought.  What could have happened?  It’s been good news so far, so there’s no reason for Nick to faint.  I knew he’d been under a lot of pressure and he didn’t want to talk about it very much.  I’d given him the possibility to talk a few times but I didn’t want to press the issue either.  I’d hoped that the extra visits to the shrink had taken most of the pressure off him, but that might not have been enough. 

When I came upstairs, Nick was lying on one of the couches in the teachers’ lounge.  He started to come around, but he was staring into space as far as I could tell.  He didn’t respond to seeing me but he must have been aware of my presence.  I wondered when this would be over. 

“Nick?  Can you hear me, Nick?” 

He didn’t respond; he didn’t even move. 

“Francis?” Alexei said as he tapped my shoulder. 

I loOKed around.  “Come here for a minute if you will.” 

I stepped a few feet away from the couch. 

“Did he talk with you, Alexei?  What did he say?” 

“As far as I could tell, he didn’t say anything to anybody after he wOKe up.” 

Now what, I thought?  Everything was going our way at last.” 

“Well, maybe that’s what Nick is having a bit of difficulty dealing with, Francis.  One of the girls in his class saw him talking on his mobile just before the class started.  Now we can’t see who he was talking to, but maybe you can.” 

“You think there’s another reason why he passed out than the announcements?” 

“There could have been.  Here’s his bag.” 

“OK, let me see his mobile.  It should be in here.” 

I got his mobile out and loOKed at it.  It was still on, which he never did.  It must have been something important; otherwise he wouldn’t have left it on.  I dialed voicemail and waited for the recorded message to come on.  It was from his lawyer.  What had he wanted?

“It was his lawyer, Alexei.  What happened?” 

“I think you’d better give him a call, Francis.  I don’t think Nick is going to tell you anything.  We need some information to get him talking.” 

“OK.”   I phoned the lawyer and was put through when I told the receptionist what had transpired down here.  Wow, was the first thing I thought as I tried to comprehend all that the lawyer had told Nic.  No wonder Nick had gone silent on us!  He must be on the edge of a nervous breakdown.  It seemed that today would be the climax of so much of his life. 

“Damn!” I said as I hung up the phone. 

“What, Francis?” Alexei asked. 

“Let’s go somewhere private, Alexei.” 

In a few words I told him what I’d heard.  “OK, no wonder it got to him, Francis.  I think you’d better talk with him alone.  I’m not sure how best to deal with this, but I’d say you need to let him know that you understand.  That might make it easier for him to talk about it.” 

I walked back into the room.  Alexei was quietly asking everyone else to leave. 

“Nick, just blink if you can hear me,” I said softly. 

He blinked.  At first, I just thought it was a normal response but he did it a few times. 

“I know, Nick, that you need to talk about it.  I know about the jury arriving at a verdict today.” 

Wow!  He’d responded to that comment.  Tthat was something.  He slowly moved his head and loOKed at me. 

“I know, Nick.  It’ll all be OK..  There’s just one day to get through now.” 

“Oh, Francis!  You think so?  I don’t know!  It seems to just keep going on and on!”
 
“It won’t, Nick.  I’ll go fine.  No jury in their right mind could acquit them, not after the testimony Randy and you gave.”

“I know … well, I know in my head but my heart fears differently.  With all the smearing that has been going on.  I just don’t know anymore.” 

“Well, whatever happens, we’ll still have each other, Nick, and I’ll never let you go, whatever happens.” 

A broad smile came over his face.  “I know,” I said. 

“So you have any idea why you fainted?” 

“I have no idea.  I guess that, as Jordan began to speak, it all began to sink in.  The lawyer asked if I was OK but I don’t think I realized what he’d said until Jordan added his news to it.” 

“So you are feeling better now?” 

“As well as I can be today, I think, Francis.” 

“Oh, you’ll feel a lot better later tonight, when this is all over.” 

“Ah, you’re going to make sure I’ll feel better, guaranteed?” I said with a sexy undertone in my voice. 

“Don’t press your luck … but I might just do that.  So now, what do you want to do … stay here … leave ….” 

“Well, I need something to take my mind off of things, so staying around is the best option.  But don’t tell anyone else what’s going on, OK?” 

“Alexei knows, Nick.” 

“Oh, well … I’m sure if you ask him to, he can keep his mouth shut.  I just don’t want this to get in the way of everything else here.  They’re just a small step away from a full victory, I think.” 

“Yea, they’re doing pretty well and, with all the students standing behind us, they’ll succeed later today as well.” 

“OK, so now what? Lunch or do I have something else on my schedule first?” 

“No, it’s lunchtime.  They skipped the last lesson of the morning so everyone could hear the latest news and discuss what’ll happen tonight.” 

“Ah, good!  Well, let’s go and join the others.  You talk to Alexei, right?” 

“Yes, of course.” 

“OK … go ahead.  I’ll be right out.” 

I found Alexei waiting just outside the door.  “He’ll be fine,” I said.  “But he doesn’t want anyone else to know that the verdict might come in this afternoon, OK?” 

“OK, as long as you let me know when, I’ll agree … and I think some of us might want to be there for support.” 

“Yea, I think I can arrange that.” 

Nick came out and together we walked to the cafeteria.  The rest of the lunch break went past quickly.  I stayed close to Nick and let the others do their job.  I’d go back as soon as Nick went to his next lesson.  I knew everyone would understand.  I’d asked the lawyer to give me a ring instead of Nick so I could tell him if the jury had come to a decision.  I wanted to break the news to Nick myself and join him in court.  There was no way he could keep me from going to this last court session. 

The time up to 3 p.m. went quickly.  I was able to wiggle out of answering questions about why Nick had fainted.  I’d asked permission for us to leave around 3 if we needed that afternoon off, and that was all I was going to tell them.  I was kept very busy with getting the day all organized.  Several of the press wanted to attend the meeting that evening and dealing with that and answering questions on the phone from a lot of parents and teachers … where should they be, what was the agenda, and did they have to sign to attend or speak?  I wasn’t sure what was going on but I got the feeling that there might be more on the agenda than just the discussion planned. 

Trying to deal with several lines at once, I almost missed the lawyer’s call when it came in, but I just caught it before the person at he other end hung up. 

“Francis, I think you’d better make your way over here.  It seems that the judge wants the court back in session at 4 p.m.  I think that gives you more than enough time.  Just give me a ring when you arrive and I’ll meet you so I can tell you what’s going to happen.” 

“OK, sounds like a plan.  Did you call Nick’s dad, too?” 

“I can do that if you want, Francis.” 

“Yea, I think you’d better do it.” 

I loOKed around to see if Jordan or Susan was around.  I found them together in the far back corner. 

“Jordan, Susan, I have to leave.  Is that OK?” 

“Well, we agreed earlier that you could … so, sure, go ahead.  But the reason for your absence needs to be reported in the boOK.  Otherwise there might be trouble after this is all over.” 

“Hmmm, well, can we take care of that later next week?” 

“I guess … but why can’t you do it now?” 

“Sorry, guys, but this is personal.  It won’t be private by next week, but for now it is, and I promised Nick I’d keep it that way.” 

I saw Jordan give me a funny loOK.  Damn, had I just said too much?  He loOKed at Susan and I saw their minds working. 

“The verdict is in?” Jordan asked. 

“I can’t say anything, Jordan.  But I really have to go.” 

“OK, I know when to shut up.  Good luck, Francis.” 

I walked away with a smile on my face.  I knew I could trust them and, in any case, we’d both be away from the school soon. 

I walked towards the gym.  I knew that Nick had gym with Alexei that period, so I didn’t even need to tell him; he’d know.  When I walked in, I saw Nick loOK right at me, as if  he’d sensed my arrival at that time. 

I winked at him.  “We’re due at 4 p.m., Nick, so let’s go.  We’re in no hurry, but still ….” 

We walked towards the locker room.  As I opened the door to let Nick past, I loOKed back and saw Alexei.  I nodded and held up four fingers.  He winked at me to tell me he understood. 

“So, this is it, Francis,” Nick said. 

I watched as he started to undress.  “Well, it’s nothing and it’s everything, Nick.  Whatever the decision is, life will go on.  We know and others know what happened and that won’t change but at least those who did it will be punished in the end.  They won’t be able to do this to others any more.” 

“I know.”  He continued to undress and, my god, what a terrible moment to think of how beautiful he loOKed.  When he got his shorts off, showing his deep red briefs, snuggled tightly around his basket, I felt my dick twitch.  I started to get a chubby.  No, not now, I thought.   I was happy that he was concentrating on what he was doing, for I don’t think I’d have been able to give him an answer with a steady voice.  He was so beautiful!  My god, I loved him so much and whatever today’s outcome would be, I’d be there for him. 

“OK, let’s go,” he said when he was finished. 

I followed him out of the locker room.  We didn’t talk a lot as we made our way over to the courthouse.  I guess we were both locked in our own thoughts and fears. 

“You called dad?” he asked as we walked up the stairs. 

“No, but the lawyer did.” 

He was waiting for us at the entrance.  Susan was with him.  It was good, I thought, that those two had found each other.  I know we hadn’t had a chance to spend a lot of time together, but I knew that the coach was having a hard time dealing with all of this.  I just hoped it would turn out for the better after today. 

“OK, let’s go in and get this over with,” his dad said and gestured us upstairs to a room where the lawyer was waiting. 

“OK, guys.  I know this is all going quite quickly, but I don’t think that’s bad, not at all.  The fact that they didn’t want to add any more evidence must have influenced the jury a lot, too.” 

“So, what’s going to happen now?”

“Well, the jury has two things to do.  First, they have to decide if they are guilty of the charges.  Then the judge can approve or reject the jury’s verdict.  If they’re found guilty, then the judge will set a date for sentencing.” 

“And what is our role in this?” I heard Nick ask. 

“Nothing, Nick.  As the victim, you’re allowed to be there.” 

“Can Francis sit with us?”

“I’m sorry, Nick, but that’s not recommended.  He’ll be as close to you as he can.” 

“So when do we have to go in, then?” I asked. 

“Not for another 10 minutes, Francis.  This is the last item on the court’s calendar for the day.” 

We quietly waited in the anteroom, everyone silent with his own thoughts.  I wanted to ask the coach if he was aware of what had transpired today, but it just seemed totally inappropriate to ask anything at that moment. 

“OK, you’d better go in.  We’ll follow shortly,” the lawyer said to us. 

“I’ll be there, Nick.  Just turn around if you need me,” I whispered softly as we left the room. 

I followed the coach and Susan into the courtroom but almost stumbled against the coach as both Susan and he stopped as soon as they opened the door.  The room was filled with people.  I loOKed over his shoulder to see who was there.  I saw several of the journalists who’d been in the school earlier and some others as well.  But most of those present were our friends.  Alexei, Randy, Andy, James, Peter, Andrew, the members of the gymnastic team, my mom … they were all here.  I even saw several teachers there. 

Oh, no, I thought.  I just hope Nick can handle this.  I wanted to turn back but the coach held me back and said, “Don’t worry.  Nick can handle this.  It’s just the kind of support he needs.  He knows they’re here for him.” 

I loOKed at the other side, the chairs behind the accused.  There was hardly anyone there.  I saw that Mike’s family was present.  His mom loOKed awful.  I knew they’d support him, no matter what, just like most parents would do.  Mike was sitting in front of them.  I could see his back.  His former confident attitude didn’t come through at all any more … the self assured person he used to be seemed to have gone.  Beside him was his lawyer.  Beside them sat the doctors, still displaying the same arrogant manner.  I hoped they’d soon get their just reward. 

I heard the door open and knew it would be Nick with his lawyer and the DA.  It became silent at first, but then I heard people call his name.  I loOKed around and saw that he’d stopped to talk with some of them.  I let out a big sigh of relief as I’d been afraid of his reaction.  By the time he reached the first row, I could see a smile on his face and I smiled back. 

The moment he sat down, it got quiet as the Judge walked in.  The next few moments were a blur for me, as I kept a close eye on Nick.  I just wanted to make sure he wouldn’t faint again. 

[From Nick’s point of view]

I was glad that Francis had talked with the lawyer and knew the process.  I wasn’t sure I’d have been able to tell him.  I’d gotten through the afternoon by trying to keep concentrated on other things but it wasn’t easy.  I know Alexei had been doing his best as he kept me occupied during gym.  He didn’t give me a chance to slack off or anything.  But I kept glancing at the door a lot and was relieved when I saw Francis standing there.  At least this was it: the jury had reached a decision and they didn’t need more time.  I’d seen from the corner of my eye the exchange that Alexei and Francis had, but I didn’t mind, not at that point.  People would know.  I just didn’t want their attention on me all afternoon, and that certainly hadn’t happened.  I knew we had lots of time so, when I noticed that I’d caught Francis’s complete attention when I started to change in the locker room, I even had some fun with him, stripping a bit more slowly than I would normally have done. 

The tension started to build up again when I entered the courtroom.  I knew there was nothing that I would need to do this time, just be there … but, still, that was challenge enough.  The lawyer and the DA repeated again what Francis had said.  We knew what had happened and that wouldn’t be changed by the verdict.  It would only help to make sure they could never, ever, hurt someone again.  I knew that … but still, guilty is guilty and not guilty is not guilty and, at that juncture, doubt about the outcome had the upper hand. 

I stopped the moment I walked into the courtroom, amazed by the number of people…, well, the number of friends there.  At first, I was a bit ashamed that they all knew what I’d been going through but, when some of them shouted my name and they all were smiling at me, I became more relaxed.  I talked with Brian and Alexei for a short time and with Francis’s mom.  I thanked them for being there.  I continued slowly towards my seat.  I saw Francis smiling and couldn’t resist a big smile back for him, too.  I toOK my seat and then loOKed over to the opposite side. 

I wondered if the defendants would loOK defeated after what had happened yesterday, after they’d decided to present no further defense.  For Mike it definitely had.  He was loOKing down at the table and I could see that he’d been crying.  A bit further on sat the doctors, who were openly loOKing at me.  I felt myself withdraw into myself, still impressed by their aura of authority.  I loOKed down, knowing what they were thinking.  Who was I to put them on trail was.  They only had the best intentions with me; they just have given me what I wanted.  No I screamed in my head, they had wanted me to believe that but they just had given in to their own indulgence.  They had used me and they needed to be punished for that.  They had used my feelings of submissiveness.  Oh, yea … I was who I was … there was no denying that, I thought … but they’d abused the respect I’d given them.  They’d gone over the line.  More than just a bit … they’d intentionally crossed it.  They deserved quick punishment … quick and, I hoped, severe.  I loOKed up again, with a what I hoped was a loOK of triumph in my eyes.  I could handle this, whatever the outcome was.  I’d grown as a person.  I knew that, despite my submissive feelings, they’d gone too far.  They had to know that they had no power over me any more.  It wasn’t like it had been in Cologne when, with a single phone call, they had captured me again.  I had learned; I’d grown for sure. 

My attention then shifted as the judge and jury entered the room.  I felt the tension growing within me.  I was hardly taking in what was being said.  I was waiting for the big question, the question that the judge would ask the jury. 

There it was, that fateful question from the judge.  “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: Have you reached a verdict?” 

I loOKed from the judge to the foreman of the jury, who stood.  “Yes, we have, your honor.  We find all three defendants guilty of all charges ….”  

Though the foreman continued to speak, he couldn’t be heard because a big cheer came from behind me.  I loOKed at my lawyer and the DA, who smiled at me and gave me their hands to shake.  I loOKed over my shoulder and saw more smiles.  I’d finally gotten them.  We’d nailed them. 

The judge rapped his gavel and demanded quiet.  “Does the jury have any further recommendations?” 

The foremen stood up again and continued.  “We, the jury, recommend no leniency in the case of the older defendants, but we do recommend in the sentencing of the younger defendant, that consideration be given to the fact that he was under their influence and we ask you, as judge, to keep that in mind when you decide on sentences.  But we didn’t think that making such a recommendation was part of our decision.” 

“I accept your decision and will take your advice into account when we come to the penalty phase.  Please forward your verdict to the court clerk.” 

Now the last part would come immediately, I knew.  The judge would confirm that all legal procedures had been followed, and then he’d hand down his sentence. 

We all waited in silence.  I heard quiet sobs coming from Mike, but the doctors were still stoic, sitting upright in their chairs loOKing at the judge. 

“Following the jury’s verdict, I sentence Drs. Black and Stevens to a sentence of not less than 20 years without chance of parole.  I also sentence the defendant Michael Steward to the maximum penalty for his age group, ten years in custody.  If he agrees to psychiatric counseling, the penalty will be reduced to a minimum of five years or to a term of psychiatric care to be decided by the judge responsible.” 

Good, I thought!  It couldn’t have gone better!  I loOKed around and saw tears in Francis’s eyes.  Yes, we’d won.  It was over now.  I couldn’t wait till the judge has said his last words but I stood up, ran to the first row, and threw myself into Francis’s arms.  I could feel the floodgates of emotion open … emotions that I’d barely kept in check all day since I’d found out that the verdict could be made known today.  They were floods of relief. 

The next 15 minutes or so were all a blur to me.  I remembered that many people tried to congratulate me but I was just so happy that I just shoOK hands without knowing who they were.  It was over … over and done with.  Now we just had to make it through that evening’s celebrations and then it would be finished.  Life could return to normal … or at least that was what I was certainly hoping for. 

We left the courthouse and were surrounded by about 50 journalists outside.  At that moment, though, I had nothing to say to anyone.  We got to the awaiting cars as quickly as possible. 

“Where to now?” Francis asked. 

“How late is it?” my dad asked. 

“Just a little before 5 p. m.” I pointed out 

“So that gives us about an hour before we need to be at the school.” 

“Yea.  Are you going?” Francis asked the coach. 

“Yea, I think I’d better,” he said.  “I’m not going to say anything … I just want to make sure that they know I’m there and I can hear any accusations that might be made about me.” 

“Good idea,” I interjected. 

“Are you going to join us, Nick?” my dad asked. 

“I don’t know.  Do you think it’d be OK to do so?” 

“Well, you have nothing to hide, do you?  And with the verdict in, there can’t be too many irresponsible remarks.  I’m sure that they didn’t expect the verdict to be decided so quickly, so that is a bit of a bummer for them.” 

“Let’s go home first, then, and make our way to the school just before 6, OK?” 

“Sounds like a plan.” 

At home the telephone was ringing from the moment we arrived and, after picking it up twice only to hear journalists on the other end, we decided not to answer it any more. 

“We need to think of something.  They’ll probably keep following us till we’ve made some statement.” 

“They might, but it can wait till tomorrow.  Let’s see what happens tonight first, OK?” my dad said. 

“OK.  So, have you been in contact with any teacher today?  Do you have any idea what might happen.” 

“No, I’ve talked to two of my colleagues, but they said they’d just heard about the verdict and weren’t sure what the various representatives would say.  They said they’d try to contact as many people as they could to find out what others were thinking about the issues at hand.  We’ll just have to wait and see.” 

“Are you coming along, Susan?”  I asked. 

“Yea, I want to be there for your dad.” 

I knew that they’d quickly gotten quite close … but now that my problems were resolved, I was coming to know just how close they were.  I was happy for dad.  He deserved that.  He’d been alone too long. 

“So, I guess it’s time for a celebration.  What do you think of a big party tomorrow night, guys?  With all your friends close by, I think it’s time to relax a bit,” dad proposed. 

“I don’t know, sir” Francis started.  “I must admit I had other plans for tomorrow.” 

“Oh, well … we can do it at a later time just as easily,” Dad said. 

“Oh, can’t you cancel your plans, Francis?  It’s no fun if you’re not there to party,” I pleaded. 

“You can’t be there either, Nick.  We have a date tomorrow evening.  I hope you’ll be able to make it,” he said with a  twinkle in his eye. 

I blushed.  “Is that OK with you, dad?” 

“Yea, I understand … you’ve had very little time to spend together lately.” 

“We can do it at Thanksgiving … we’ll invite everyone.  I think there is a great deal to be thankful for over the last few months.” 

“That might work out, too.  Let’s hope people haven’t already made other arrangements.” 

“We can tell them tonight, OK?”  I said. 

“Yes, let’s do that.” 

I turned to Francis.   So, what are we going to do tomorrow night?” 

He smiled and said, “You’ll find out.” 

“Oh, one of those dates!” 

He smiled again.  “Just be patient, Nick.” 

We had a bite to eat and then went off to the school.  It was busy … well, that was an understatement.  We had to park the car about three blocks away.  It seems that the announcement of the verdict on TV and the subject of the evening’s meeting had combined to bring a lot of people to the school.  As we got closer, we saw a lot of TV cameras outside.  Although it was a public meeting, no broadcast would be allowed.  Journalist were allowed inside to report, but no cameras. 

“I think we’d better see if we can slip in through the back door, guys,” David siggested. 

“Yea, I think that’s a good idea.” 

We found our way to the back of the school.  The door wasn’t locked but there was a student waiting outside. 

“Ahhhh …we were wondering if you guys would show up.” 

“You’ve heard the news, then?” Francis asked. 

“Definitely!  As soon as the students who’d gone to the courthouse got back, we had a little party down here.  The decision has boosted spirits considerably.  Tonight will be the second blow to them and then we hope this’ll all be over.” 

I saw a few laughs and smiles.  If every student was as positive as this one was, it’d be a great evening. 

“So, you were waiting for us down here?” 

“No, I’m standing guard.  No one is allowed to come in this way.  Everyone has to go in through the front and register, so we know who’s in the building but I think for you guys I can make an exception.  Just make sure you register, OK?” 

“Thanks.” 

“Good luck, Coach,” he said as he opened the door for us to enter. 

chapter 71

chapter 69

 

He got his coat and left.  “So, what do you know Francis?”

“Well, it seems that they are trying to get as many teachers into the school so they can run a full class tomorrow and probably later on as well.” 

“Teachers?  What do you mean by that?”

“Well, I’m not sure but it could involve Randy somehow, for example.” 

“Maybe he’s got some teacher friends.” 

“We’ll just have to wait, I guess.” 

“So, are you going to go to school tomorrow?” 

“Yea, I want to see what’s been going on down there.” 

“You want to go up and rest a bit?  Maybe you can tell me what happened in court, too?” he asked seductively. 

I know he was trying not to be pushy, and I wanted him to know that I wanted to be alone with him … but, still, it was not going to be easy to explain my feelings to him. 

We got comfortable on the bed and for the rest of the evening we talked, listened and just enjoyed each other’s company.  The next morning we were awakened by David. 

“Come on, you guys!  It’s time to get ready for the big day.” 

“Big day, David?” 

“Well, I think from what I heard on the radio last night, you had a good day yesterday in court.  Together with Randy you showed them what really happened and who the bad guys in this really are.  All the newspapers, radios and TV programmers are telling the same story … well, almost all of them are.” 

“Oh, well, I don’t care.  I knew the truth all along.” 

“I’m sure the press will turn out even more strongly today at school as they realize who the bad people are in this.” 

“Any mention of Randy as a TV star and his role in this?” 

“No, not really … or, at least, nothing too sleazy or nasty.  But he knew the risk he was taking when he toOK the stand.” 

“I guess … but still.” 

“So, do you think the plan will work, Francis?” 

“It had better, David.” 

“OK … you guys you have been trying to avoid the subject ever since yesterday evening: what is going to take place at school today?” 

“It’s a surprise, Nick.  Just wait and see,” David said. 

“Francis, what is going on?”

“As David said, just wait and see … because we’re not sure what will happen.” 

“Spoil sports!  We’d better go then,” and, before they could respond, I grabbed the car keys and left the kitchen, giving them no time to finish their breakfast. 

We arrived at school just before 8.30.  The normal time to start class is 9.00, so we came more than enough time in advance.  It was even busier than it had been on Wednesday.  It loOKed like most of the protesters who had been at the court house on Thursday were now here.  A lot of kids were there, waiting to get in.  Some were let in through the rear entrance, while a larger number were slowly allowed to enter through the main entrance.  The police were there but didn’t do anything.  There were no teachers or any members of the school board present.  As we got closer to the main entrance, a girl from the group we spOKe with on Wednesday saw us and toOK us to the back door. 

“ Good!  You’re here, Nick.  Heard you kicked ass yesterday.  Let’s use the back way … it’s quicker and I suspect you want to know what we’re going to do today.” 

“You bet!  I see that almost everyone is around.” 

“Yea, we made sure all the kids knew they had to come to school today.” 

“So, did you find a way out of the threat made by the director?”

“We’ll soon find out.  We’re expecting them to be here soon, together with the board of education and the police, we think.  We know they had a meeting last night and we think they’ll come and let the police force their way in if we don’t give up.  Their plan is based on the rule that this building is for educational use and that we’re preventing that from taking place.” 

“Ah … and what are we going to do about that?  Did you appoint seniors as teachers then?” 

“No, something much better.  Follow me.  We’re gathering in room 101 until we make an announcement to the kids just before 9 a.m.” 

We followed her to the first room on the ground floor, immediately beside the entrance.  It was very crowded down there but we managed to get through the entrance hall.  When they saw us they started to cheer.  It seems most of them knew it had gone well in court yesterday. 

“OK, guys.  We’ll be back shortly with today’s schedule.” 

She opened the door and again we were welcomed with loud applause.  The small group of students from Wednesday was there, along with a lot of strangers but also many people I knew – Randy, Brandon, and Andy were there – but others that I knew by their face as well. 

“Welcome, guys!” Alexei said as he stepped in front of the others. 

“What are you all doing here, guys?” I asked. 

“Jordan, the honor is yours!” Alexei said. 

“Well, Nick, Francis, David … I think we found our way out of our dilemma.  You know that the Board probably wants to force us out because this is a public building for teaching.  I think we’ve got a way to make sure we teach and they can’t force us to leave.  Thanks to Alexei, Brandon and Andy, we’ve found a bunch of people interested in teaching for a few days at our school.” 

“What!!!  You’re going to teach, Alexei?” I said, directing the question to him. 

“Yea, why not?  I can teach gymnastics, PE and certainly Russian, so I’ll have more than enough classes to attend.” 

“And that’s not everything, Nick.  We’ve had people flying in from all over to help us out.  Randy is here to teach drama together with some of his colleagues.  We have some guys to do music and several famous writers to teach English literature and so on.  I think we can say that the students never could have better teaching than this.” 

I just loOKed at all of them, astonished.  I loOKed at Francis and David.  Incredible.  All those people!  That must have cost a fortune.  I wondered who was paying for this?  I loOKed at Alexei again. 

“Did you arrange all of this, Alexei?”

“No, it was a team effort and there would have been more but several willing participants couldn’t free up their schedules at short notice … but others will be here next week if necessary.  This is about students standing up for their rights; this involves opposition to discrimination and support for a free press.  There’s lots of good reasons for all of us to join in and support you guys.” 

“I’m just blown away,” I said.  “We can chat later.  It’s time to get this show on the road.  You all have a student assigned to you to help you through today.  I expect everyone back here at lunch time so we can see where we stand.  You all have your schedules; the students will be asked to go to their assigned homerooms for today’s kickoff.  They’ll get their schedules handed out at that time.  If there’s any problem, just gives us, the students with a rainbow button, a call.  We’ve taken over management of the school as a learning centre for the time being.  OK … let’s go!” 

With that, he marched outside and everyone followed slowly.  We waited as I still could hardly believe what was going to happen.  The girl who brought us in was still with us. 

“Francis, here’s your button.  Nick, we have a choice for you: either follow your class schedule, or join us in management.” 

“You’re going to be part of the organization, Francis?” I asked. 

“Yep … it’s a good opportunity to learn something and I want to support you and Steve as much as I can … so absolutely, if that’s OK with you.” 

“Yea, I think so.  But ….” 

“If you want to go to class, Nick, go ahead … we’ll all understand why you don’t want to get involved in the management.” 

I smiled when he said that.  There was just no way I could take more pressure.  That would be too much. 

“OK … then you’d better go to your home room, Nick,” the girl said. 

“Can we chat later, Alexei?” I asked.  “Sure … we have a lesson together, I think.” 

“Oh!” 

We left the room and heard Jordan and another student mount the stand on the stairs and explain to the students what the plans were for today. 

“So just behave normally, even if you idolize some of the teachers.  Don’t try to go to classes other than the ones on your schedule, as that will disrupt the program too much.  If this lasts longer than one day, we’ll make sure next week that everyone will take a class with our celebrity teachers.  We suspect that, at some point this morning, the board of education or some of its members will want to take a loOK at what’s happening and will try to order the police to force us out so, if that happens, stay where you are … follow the lesson … and we’ll make sure they know that you’re being taught.  Have a great day and make good use of it.” 

With that they all started to disperse to their home rooms.  Some anxieties remained and many students seemed to doubt that the management team could pull this off … but several members of the team spent their first hour going around explaining details of the plan to ease the tension level a bit.  When the 9 o’clock bell went off, the hall was empty and today’s “teachers” left classroom 101 to go to their assigned home rooms. 

The team had worked hard to provide a capable teaching staff at short notice.  They’d contacted recently retired teachers and the staffs of the local colleges for volunteers to instruct in all the usual subjects, and quite a group of teachers had appeared this morning.  Even more incredibly, the parents of participating students had contacted people that they knew who were interested in human rights and freedom of the press.  If everything worked as planned, it promised to be an incredible week: the local gay committee had appealed last night to various national organizations, which somehow had contacted Sir Elton John and George Michael, both of whom were interrupting their American concert tours to fly in to teach music and lend their names to our causes.  They could only stay one day, but their support alone would garner us national press coverage and considerable support … and Sir Elton had already invited some of his well known friends to replace him when he had to leave. 

Randy and several of his television colleagues would teach the classes in drama, while the celebrated former Olympic diver, Greg Louganis, had agreed to assist Alexei to offer instruction in physical education and, of course, swimming and diving.  A professor at a local college had offered to teach as many of the science classes as he could handle and had reportedly contacted his doctoral thesis supervisor, Sir Stephen Hawking at Cambridge University in England, to see if he would lend his support.  One of dad’s friends, who taught English literature at the same college, had asked the Canadian novelist, Margaret Atwood, a former colleague of hers at the University of Toronto, to help us for a few days since she was on a boOK tour in a nearby city.  A noted advocate of the authors’ freedom to publish, whether in the press or in literature, and a life-long professor of English literature, Dr. Atwood agreed to teach several classes in that subject, and contacted friends of hers in the American writing community to come support us.  Every hour we were informed of more famous people who wanted to support our call for human rights and press freedom.  We’d never had so many distinguished teachers visit in the history of the school, much less all in one week!

“OK, I’d better go … I’ll see you during lunch,” I said to Francis and gave him a quick kiss on his cheek.  “We’ll have none of that is any school I’m teaching at,” I heard a teasing foreign voice say to me and turned to see a laughing Sir Elton John, walking by on his way to his first class.  So far it seemed to go just as the management team had planned it, I thought, and followed Sir Elton to my own home room. 

[The story continues, but now told by Francis]. 

When all the students and teachers had gone to their classrooms, we walked back towards room 101. 

“OK, this is the plan: as we talked about yesterday, everyone has his or her responsibilities, so please go to your assigned tasks.  Francis, we’ve chosen you to be at the reception desk today.  We thought you’d love to handle all the incoming calls and questions.  This morning we won’t open the school for anyone who doesn’t need to be here.  Gerry and Rick are going to take care of that.  We‘ll discuss during lunch what we’ll do during the afternoon.  If we get any questions from the press, you need to forward them to Andrew and Peter.  But this morning, we’ll only hand out a press release around 10 a.m., informing the outside world that the students have organized the school with a new group of highly qualified teachers.  Everyone will get a copy of the release, and that is the only statement that will be handed out.  For this morning I will be in charge together with Susan and (Name from gymnastic team to be filled in).  As we agreed, this afternoon another student will step in and we’ll continue to rotate next week as long as necessary.  The management team will have two extra meetings, one just after school to get feedback from our advisors what we did wrong or need to improve.  We’ll do the same before the start of each day.  If you have questions, ask your advisor ;that’s what they’re here for.  Any questions?  OK … let’s go do this well and teach them a lesson.”  

“Wow, Jordan!  You’re really good at this!” I said when most of the team members had gone.  There were at least 15 of us who would take control of daily management of the school. 

“Well, I must say that I practised that speech and the one for the students several times last night.  Can’t say that I had a lot of sleep but, so far, the adrenaline is keeping me going and active.” 

“OK.  When do you expect the director and the board members with the police?”

“Well, I’d say before 9:30 for sure.” 

“OK.  I’d better get to my desk,” I said in a bit of a nervous voice. 

“Yea, you’d better do that, Francis,” Jordan said, trying to sound like a boss but his smile completely gave his true feelings away.

I toOK my seat opposite the front door.  Gerry and Rick, two big jocks, had placed themselves at the door.  But, so far, it was still quiet on the other side.  I toOK the answering machine off and within two minutes, I had a call.  It was one of the teachers, one I knew was definitely on our side.  But I did as I was told: I gave him only the information that there would be a press release at 10 a.m. and we were all doing OK. 

Within ten minutes I had three more teachers on the phone and told all of them the same thing.  This could get boring, I thought.  Maybe it would be a good idea to put the answering machine back on with that statement so anyone who telephoned would know what was going on.  I used the phone to call the three members of management and they found it a good idea. 

So that was that, I thought.  Now let’s see what else I can do.  I didn’t need to think as there was still a big pile of mail on the desk.  I went through it. 

Halfway though it, I noticed some movement outside the building.  I could see he approaching flashing lights of a police car and, a moment later, the director rang the bell at the door.  Jordon, Susan and [add name] came out of room 101 and waved to me.  “Join us, Francis.  We might need someone to take some notes.” 

I followed them to the door.  Rick opened it. 

“Good morning, director,” Jordan said, not waiting but taking the initiative. 

“That awaits to be seen, Jordan.  I’m here with the board of education.  They’ve given the police the order to take any trespasser out so we can get this school back into operation.” 

“Any members of the board around, sir?” Jordan asked. 

“Yes, two of them are here.” 

“OK, then this is what we’ll do.  We’ll let them come in and decide if this building is being used for its proper purpose or not.  They can come in together with two teachers and, of course, you, sir.” 

“What!!!  You’ll have to empty this building immediately, Jordan, or do you all want to be arrested?” one of the teachers said.  It was the same one who’d been the chief opponent to our protest at the parent-teacher council meeting last Wednesday. 

“No.  We just want to make sure that the board can assess the situation properly, with full information and not by rumor and hearsay, sir.”

“OK, let me discuss this.  I’ll be right back.” 

Before we had turned our backs on them to wait for their answer, one of the teachers was shouting through a megaphone that we’d be arrested if we didn’t leave the building now. 

“OK, it’s time for an announcement,” Jordan said, picking up the microphone attached to the school’s audio system. 

“Students, at the moment we’re discussing the situation with the director.  We’ll never allow the police to arrest you all.  We’re inviting members of the board of education in to assess the situation in the building.  We won’t let ourselves be pressured by people who don’t stand up for the rights of every American.  I’ll keep you informed of what is happening.” 

“Good job, Jordan,” I said. 

There was another ring at the door and again we walked towards it.  The director now was surrounded by four other people and two policemen. 

“Good, Jordan,” the director said when we opened the door.  “These are two members of the board and they want to hear what you have to say.  They’ll accompany me together with the teachers and two policemen.” 

“Police are not necessary,” Susan said. 

“Maybe not, maybe it will.  They want to make sure we’re safe.” 

“Have you been threatened by anyone?” she asked. 

“No ….  But ….”

“See, so there’s no reason for the police then.” 

“No, we won’t enter without some police presence there.  We’ve heard enough from you bunch of hooligans and we want witnesses so they can clear this building out as soon as possible.” 

I saw Susan loOKing at Jordan and it seems they came to a silent understanding. 

“OK, they can come in,” Susan agreed. 

The director, the two teachers and the two board members went through the door.  “We’ll start in classroom 101, gentlemen,” Jordan said.  “Please follow me.” 

As the policemen tried to enter the building, they were stopped by Rick. 

“Sorry to do this, sir … it’s nothing personal but weapons are not allowed in this building.  Please leave them outside with a colleague.” 

“What is going on, director?” one of the policemen shouted. 

The director turned around, not knowing exactly what was happening.  “Sorry, sir, but weapons are not permitted here.  This is a school,” Susan explained calmly to all of them. 

“But we need to take them inside, otherwise ….” 

“It’s simple: you are allowed to come in but not your firearms.  School policy,” Susan added. 

“Since when?” I heard one of the teachers ask. 

“Since we toOK over, sir,” Jordan replied. 

“OK, leave them outside and then come in and join us,” the director reluctantly agreed.  I had seen a few surprised loOKs on his face.  I think he was slowly coming to understand that we wouldn’t be so easy to deal with. 

“Gentlemen, please sit down.  You can find coffee and tea on the table.” 

Still a bit surprised at all this, the director now asked with a smile, “You were expecting us to come in, Jordan?” 

“Yes, we were certain you’d not proceed without making at least some attempt to talk with us.” 

He loOKed again a bit surprised as I know that these were the words that he himself had used in a meeting the evening before.  I knew Jordan had some good inside information.  We knew that the board understood the hard position of the parent- teachers association but that the majority of them would have liked to hear our point of view as well before they decided. 

“So what is it you want to discuss?  You know how we’re thinking on this occupation,” the director said. 

Jordan loOKed at the board members and toOK out a sheet of paper and gave that to them. 

“Here is a copy of a press release we’re handing out to all the press and is being posted on the school website at this moment.” 

We watched their faces while they read it.  The director loOKed at us before he finished.  “All the students are in class at the moment?” 

“Yes, all the kids who turned up this morning … the ones who wanted to stand up against the injustices that have been perpetrated here.  I must say that that is about 95% of all the students attending this school.” 

“Wow!  And you got that many teachers?” one of the board members asked. 

“Yes, and more lined up in case we need to continue the occupation.” 

“But they’re not qualified,” one of the teachers interposed.  The other one was smiling now as he knew we were ready for this criticism. 

“What better qualification is there in a teacher than life experience and being top notch in their area field of study?  We have retired teachers and university professors … and several celebrities have agreed to join our cause, either today or later this week,” Susan said. 

“Can we join a class to watch, Jordan?” one of the board members asked. 

“Certainly.  There’s no problem.  You each can attend a different class if you want to.” 

“That sounds like a good idea,” one board member said. 

“You will be accompanied by a student to help you.” 

“Why, you don’t think we can observe it for ourselves?” the teacher asked.

“I’m sure you’ll be fine.  We just want to make sure there is no disturbance to the lesson.” 

“That’s fine,” the director said before that teacher could argue. 

“OK, you can visit two rooms if you want.  Shall we say we’ll meet in 35 minutes down here,” Jordan proposed. 

“Sounds like a plan.” 

With that each person left, accompanied by one of the students.  I walked with the teacher that definitely found the occupation a very good idea.

“You got the director there, Francis!” 

“You think we’re doing OK, sir?” 

“Yes.  They thought they had you on the questions of management and teacher qualifications, but from what was said, they have no justification left for police action.”

“Well, we’ll see.  I’m not sure what will happen after that, though.  Will the association and the board negotiate?” 

“I know it’ll be difficult but still, if this goes to the press, it’ll be very difficult for the parent- teachers association and the director.” 

“So where are you taking me?” 

“I thought you’d wanted to see the music class, sir, as it’s one of the subjects you teach.” 

“Ah, I didn’t see how you could run any musical programs at such short notice.” 

“Yes, one should be running right now.  Let me check where they are at the moment.”   I checked the schedule and said, “OK, they’re in the auditorium, the demand for music with this new teacher was quite large.  Let’s go.” 

“You know who is teaching at the moment?” 

“I’m not sure,” I said innocently, knowing full well who was taking the class.  “It’s a pianist, I believe.  We’ll see.” 

I quietly opened the rear door to the auditorium and motioned for the teacher to enter. The real teacher gasped and the substitute teacher, Sir Elton John, loOKed up from the piano at our interruption. 

“Sorry to disturb you, Sir Elton, but one of the school board delegations is here and wanted to see the teaching for about 15 minutes or so.”

“Welcome to the class,” Sir Elton said with a broad smile.  “Do you teach music here” he asked. 

“Why, yes I do,” the teacher stammered.

“Then come join me, I need a second pair of hands to show the students the difference between solo and duet performances.”  For a few minutes, Sir Elton and the teacher chatted amiably in front of an absolutely riveted class, explaining a variety of musical styles, the importance of hand position and, above all, the key role of practice, practice, practice.

I had to signal the teacher so he and I could go attend another class.  Sir Elton thanked the teacher warmly for his assistance and added pointedly that he admired teachers who seemingly had taught lessons in press freedom and human rights that the students seemed to understand very well, even if their parents and the board were less aware of.  After 15 minutes or so we left. 

“I just played a duet with Sir Elton John!” the teacher said with awe in his voice.  “I don’t believe it!”

“Hmm,” I said with a broad smile on my face. “I wasn’t sure I’d seen his face before!” 

“That is unbelievable!  How did you get him down here?  No one will question his competence to teach the kids music … he’s one of the most famous pianists of our time!” 

“So you were impressed?” 

“Yes, very.  I’d have loved to stay and listen in to the entire class myself.” 

“Well, you need to loOK into one more.  That’s the requirement.” 

“Yes, I know.  What’s next, Francis?” 

I toOK him to the English class … not as popular as Sir Elton’s music class, but crowded nevertheless, for it was being taught by the Canadian novelist, Margaret Atwood.  “Good lord,” the teacher said as he saw Dr. Atwood through the classroom door.  “I attended her lecture on symbolism in the modern novel last night at the college.  It was masterful.  Her work is amazing.”

I had to drag him out of Dr. Atwood’s lecture.  He, along with the rest of the class, was mesmerized.

We made it back to room 101 in time to get a cup of coffee.  “Good heavens, even the coffee is better!” the teacher jOKed.

“Will you be OK if I go back to the front desk?  Now that the press release has been sent out, there’s bound to be more calls.” 

“Go ahead … and if it were up to me, you guys would be running the school all the time.  I don’t think you have anything to worry about at all.” 

“Thanks sir,” I said and I walked back to my post.

[Nick continues]

The hour-long class was over quickly.  We heard Jordan’s announcement but, all in all, the first class was a blur.  We were in the auditorium with Sir Elton John, a large group of us.  He proved an engaging teacher.  He found out quickly what we were studying and began to speak about parallels between classical and modern music.  When our regular music teacher appeared as part of the delegation, Sir Elton invited his to join him at the piano so he could explain the difference between solo and duet piano work.  I could tell that our regular music teacher was enchanted.  How many people, I thought, could say that they’d played a duet with Elton John?   And how many students could say that they’d taken a course from the famous rock star?  He actually had several students sit down and show him their playing skills, gently correcting those with wrong hand positions or poor posture.  We were all enthralled.
 
The next hour — biology taught by a distinguished professor from a nearby college – also went by just as quickly … although, by the end, we started to whisper among ourselves as we wanted to know what was going on.  There had been no news from the management team for more than an hour now. 

We went to our next class, which was English.  This was not my favorite subject as I had grammar problems, but I loved to read.  As we walked into the class, I thought I recognized the face of the substitute teacher from the back of one of my boOKs.  I’m not sure any of the others knew who he was. 

“Hi!  My name is David Eddings.  I’m a writer and your teacher for today.  Can anyone tell me what subjects you were discussing in your last class?”

Wow, I thought!  One of my favorite writers!  How did he end up down here, I wondered.   Before I could answer his question, someone else told him we’d been talking about writers in the early 1900s.

“OK.  What kind of boOKs have you been reading lately then?”

Again, one of the others told him. 

“OK.  Do any of you know any fantasy boOKs from that period?”

Well, that was an easy question for me and the next five minutes was more or less a one-on-one chat between us about the boOKs I knew and what I’d found of them.  I think he got the impression that the others felt left out as the background whispers grew, so he shifted his attention to other subjects.  I kept track of everything he said, and the lesson flew by very quickly.
 
“Can I talk with you … Nick, is it?”

“Yea, that’s me.”

“You know quite a lot about fantasy stories, I gather.”

“Yea, I recognized you when I entered although it toOK me a little time to get the right name.”

“Ah … well, have you ever thought about writing yourself, Nick?”

“No, my grammar is terrible, but I love to read.”

“Well, never think never as correcting grammar is where editors come in handy.”

“I think I’d better stay with my sketching.  I love to do that and they say I’m not too bad at it either.”

“OK … I’m not sure how to ask this but I think you’re one of the reasons that we’re all here, right?”

“I don’t mind and, yes, I was more or less the start of all this.  But there’s more to it now, I think.  This is about students being committed to what they want and what they stand for.”

“I understand.  I read the articles that Steve wrote, so I know something about it.  I hope you can introduce me to him.  Honest journalist needs to be helped along in times like these.  There are not a lot of committed, honest journalists in the publishing world any more.”

“Of course, just join me during lunch period and I’ll introduce him to you.”

“I’ll have to ask Randy where the lunch room is.  He seems to know his way around.”

“You’re a friend of Randy’s?”

“Yes, we’ve known each other for the past four years or so.” 

“Great!  Well, maybe I’ll see you later, then.  I’d better go to my next class.” 

Wow!  There were some advantages to knowing people, I now understood, and it certainly had worked out well today, for so many friends of friends had responded tour call for help.

[Francis continues]

The others toOK quite a bit longer before they returned to the room.  I saw that the number of journalist outside had increased quite considerably.  I think there were even one or two TV crews out there now.  But so far no one had tried to enter the school building.  So I guess the press release had had the desired effect, attracting the press like flies to shit. 

Jordan came back with one of the education board members and winked at me, inviting me to join them in room 101. 

“OK, anyone for coffee?” Susan asked. 

After she poured a few cups, the room went silent.  I saw a few glances exchanged between the director and the members of the board of education. 

“I think I can only say, Jordan, that I’ve been impressed by what you’ve accomplished.  I agree with what the teacher said before … some of the substitutes might not have their full teaching degree but, I agree, their experience comes in quite handy.  So I think we can say with assurance that, after seeing what is happening here, that you’re supplying a quality education here.”

“So there’ll be no police involvement then?” 

“No, not for the time being.” 

“I guess it’s time for them to leave then,” Jordan said, pointing at the two police officers standing in one of the corners loOKing out over the hall. 

“Yes, they can leave.” 

“No, they’re here for our safety,” one teacher protested.

“Well, I have no concerns about my safety at all at the moment, so we won’t need them,” the director stated firmly. 

“Oh, I think we need protection.  This is all a set up, staged like everything else so far.  Mike, the doctors … they were all set up just like we’re being set up.”

“Shut up!” the director said.  “Don’t be ridiculous.  They can leave.  I feel totally safe here.  We have no need for them.  These students have shown that they’re very good organizers and I’m sure the student population is listening to them, so there’s no need to be afraid of something untoward happening … at least, not from what I’ve seen in the classrooms or anywhere else in the school.” 

“You’re right, sir,” interjected Jordan.  “We just wanted to make it clear that we’re not in agreement with those few teachers and parents who are now dictating to the majority in this school without giving us any chance to tell them what we think.” 

“I know, Jordan, that that’s been the most important item from the beginning but it’s how schools are regulated down here, by the board of education,” the director said. 

“Well, maybe it’s time for the board of education to loOK at that system.  As you see we’re quite capable of maintaining our own system and organization.”

“I think you’ve proven that, Jordan, but I think you’ve forgotten that most students aren’t capable of doing that and that some protection from the outside world is needed to create a safe environment for them to get an education.” 

“Sorry, sir, but I don’t think any of this has to do with that.  It is just pure censorship, nothing more, nothing less.  And let’s not forget … the board’s actions have been based upon rumors and gossip more than on the truth.” 

“I can only say, Jordan, that we’ll discuss the experiences we had today with the other members and who knows what will come of it?  I think that, before we go, we’ll want to talk with some of the organizers on the ‘teachers’ side as we might want to extend this experiment in the future.  It’s opened some great possibilities if we could interest some of your volunteers into a more permanent organization of professional people coming in to teach for a day or so.  On the other hand, I don’t think it’s our task to do anything for the time being.  This is something between the director and the teachers-parent organization.  We’ll instruct them to discuss it all again and we’ll strongly suggest that students be heard.  But, as I said before, it is their decision and we’ll respect whatever the outcome is.”  “

“So you’re walking away from this without taking a stand, then?”

“That isn’t up to us, Jordan.  We were brought in to see if this building is being used for its intended function, and I can only deal with that issue at the moment, so I see no need for further interference from us at this time.” 

“But you will order the teachers-parents organization to convene another meeting?” 

“We’ll suggest that to them and normally our opinion weighs quite heavily in situations like this.  So you’ll give up the occupation now?” the director asked. 

“You agree with us then, sir?” Susan asked. 

“Ahhh … hmmmm … I wouldn’t go that far, no.  What I mean is … once we’ve arranged a new meeting, will you give up the occupation of the school and allow things to return to normal?” 

“Definitely not, sir.  We’ll await the outcome of that meeting and then decide what we’ll do,” replied Jordan.  “I agree with Susan.  We’ll run the school till the outcome of the meeting has been announced.” 

“But you can’t keep going with the teachers you have for very long.  I don’t think the parent- teachers association can meet for several days.” 

“Oh, we’ll cope.  Don’t worry about that, director … but if you’re anxious, you can ensure that the meeting takes place sooner.  I don’t know why it couldn’t be held tonight.” 

“We have things to arrange and we need to inform all the parents and that will take time.” 

“Sorry, but publicity won’t be a problem; you have a full media contingent right outside the school,” I pointed out. 

“That’s true,” the teacher I’d walked around with agreed. 

“It’d help, that’s for sure,” agreed the director. 

“May I suggest we try to arrange a meeting for 6 p.m. tonight?” the teacher sympathetic tour cause recommended quickly.  “And I think it’s time for a public meeting as well.  So far the parents have been against that but I think that we teachers feel strongly about that if we’re to be taken seriously in the future.” 

“Never!  We’ll just hear more lies,” the unsympathetic teacher protested. 

“If I may,” Jordan said.  “I think a public meeting is a good idea, and there’s no better place to hold it than down here in the school itself, don’t you think?”

“You’ll make sure we can have a proper discussion here, Jordan?” 

“Yea, I promise no one will interfere in the conduct of the meeting as long as a few of the students are allowed to have their say, too.” 

“OK, we’ll set it for 6 p.m. tonight then.  Let’s go outside together and announce it, Jordan, as I think that will give the message that we’re trying to work together to solve this problem.” 

“You’re getting yourself into a lot of trouble,” the unsympathetic teacher said.
 
“I don’t think I am,” replied the director.  “It’s time for me as director of education to consider more than just a small group organized in the teachers–parent organization.” 

Susan jumped in.  “I think I can say for certain that teachers who think like that are no longer welcome in our classrooms, sir.” 

“I got exactly that impression, too, Susan,” the director agreed. 

“We’ll see.  You just can’t sack me, you know,” protested the unsympathetic teacher. 

“Maybe the director can’t, but we might just not show up for your classes in protest.” 

“Blackmail!  That’s what this has been from the beginning.” 

“I think,” the director said quietly, “you’d better shut up.  You’re making your continued employment, here or anywhere else, more and more difficult.” 

“OK, a press conference together then,” Jordan said. 

“Yes, and I’ll leave the opening statement to you, Jordan.  You deserve to answer any questions about the press release you gave out this morning.” 

“Let’s see if we can get the press conference inside so the students can hear it all over the audio system in the classes as well.” 

For the next 30 minutes, members of the press were allowed into the hall.  A small podium was set up and the school’s speaker system was connected to the classroom audio system. 

I’d have loved to see Nick, but his class break had been while we’d been in the conference with the director.  I wondered how he was doing at that point. 

[From Nick’s point of view] 

After another pretty interesting lesson, it was break time.  I wandered around, trying to find Francis but he wasn’t at his post at the reception area, so I guess he was in the conference room with the others.  That wasn’t my place to be. 

I’d turned on my mobile to see if there were any messages.  At least four, I saw, which meant that others had heard about the school situation as there weren’t a lot of people who had my mobile number.  I didn’t want to listen to the messages but instead opened SMS and saw that there was a message from my lawyer, too.  It read: “Nick – please – call me as soon as possible.” 

What was that all about?  There shouldn’t be anything new until next Thursday, or so I thought.  I dialed the number and waited for the secretary to answer. 

chapter 70

chapter 68

“How?” one of us asked.

“Well, very easy. The board of education can’t criticize us if we’re getting educated, can it? If we make sure we’re being educated properly, that might just get us the positive press we need.”

“It might,” Jordan said, “But how?”

Over the next hour we discussed several options but they were all too weak to be convincing. Simply put, none of them really involved a real education.

“OK. Let’s do things in a logical order. Who’s going to stay the night down here?”

That was something that, it seemed, no one had talked about before. We’d all brought our lunch … but what about dinner and night arrangements? Most kids would go home but we needed to defend the building. The last thing we wanted was for the administration to sneak back in. I’m not sure what happened over the next few hours as we left around 3 p.m., our normal departure time for that day. I didn’t want to stay in the school. I needed time to prepare for Thursday, but it seemed like they all accepted that.

We went home and told dad about what had happened. No one had told him what had been going on … not even any of the people we considered friends had called.

He was happy and worried at the same time. The sit-in would draw even more attention to the situation. I slept OK that night but was tired the next morning. Slowly I began to feel that things were becoming too much to handle. The next few days could be crucial to the case … my testimony on the Thursday regarding the stuff that had happened in the hotel. I would testify, then the lawyers would have the opportunity to cross examine me … then the prosecution would submit the sections that had been broadcast in the Internet. We’d talked a long time about the broadcast, and I know my lawyer and (I think) my dad watched that material … before making the decision that it would support my testimony. I was still not sure of the outcome, but we needed all the help we could get to convict them. It’d mean that a lot of people would see it, especially Francis. I wasn’t sure I’d be happy with that. I might try to convince him to leave the courtroom for that part of the trial. Yea, I needed to talk with him about that.

Then there were things at school. I had no idea what had been happening down there at the moment. I think I’d heard Francis on the phone with some of them protesters late on the evening before I testified … but I didn’t know what had been said. How we’d be able to pull this off was one big riddle to me at that time.

It helped to know we had friends … lots of them … who were sticking up for the rights we all had.

I went downstairs and found dad and Francis at the breakfast table.

“So … what are your plans for today?” my dad asked.

“I’m not sure. I think I’ll stay home and then go to the shrink’s office around noon. He’s taken the afternoon off to help me prepare for tomorrow.”

“Yea, that’s a good idea. I don’t think the stress of going into school would help particularly this morning.”

“And I can keep you company until you leave, Nick,” Francis said.

“Well, maybe … but you might go to school and see what’s happening so at least we know what they’re up to.”

“You going to be OK on your own, then?” my dad asked. “I have an appointment with a union representative.”

“Oh, yea … I think so.”

“Well, if not, I can reschedule my meeting to this afternoon, I’m sure.”

“No … you go ahead. I might go to the park and do some sketching again.”

“OK … well, call me if you need someone to talk.”

“I know, dad, but I’m OK … and, with the shrink’s help, it should be fine.”

“You think you can handle tomorrow, Nick? You still can back off if you want.”

“No, I think I have to do this. I want them locked up for as long as possible.”

“OK. Is there anything else to arrange this morning, then?” dad asked.

Maybe this would have been the time to bring it up … dad would support me. I knew it’d not make Francis very happy but I had to do this.

“Yea, I have to be honest,” I said quietly.

I looked at Francis and said, “I don’t want you in the courtroom tomorrow, Francis.”

I saw a shocked expression on his face … even a bit of hurt.

“I know you want to be there for me tomorrow … but I’m not sure I can tell the whole story in front of others again with you being there … or even want you around when they show the internet piece.”

“Oh! Are you sure, Nick?” he asked.

His response was not as bad as I thought it would be. I looked him in his eyes and tried to bring into it as much love as I could. “Yea, I hope you’re OK with it, but your being there will only make it more difficult.”

“I think Nick is right, Francis. It’s something he needs to do on his own, and I’ll be there if he needs me.”

“I know,” he said softly. But there was no smile on his face.

“OK, that’s settled. I have to go in a moment so who is going to help me clear the dishes?”

“I will, then Nick can go and get his stuff to sketch. We can then walk to the park together.”

Oh, he wasn’t ready to give in! I knew he’d want to talk about it when we were in private.

I got my stuff and waited for him to join me. To my surprise, Francis didn’t raise the subject; he seemed to accept my point of view. We spend the morning around the park, I sat down on the bank, overlooking the water and, at some point, I heard Francis playing with some dogs that were running around the park.

Just after lunch we split up. I wasn’t too sure but I just assumed he might go home while I went to the shrink. It was quiet in the office. I didn’t see the assistant … so I guessed she had the afternoon off.

“Ah! There you are, Nick … come on in.”

The rest of the afternoon went by in a blur. I got upset with myself several times. In the end I felt stronger about it all … the shrink had been tough on me … but no tougher than the defense lawyers would be tomorrow … but I didn’t budge. Now I just had to hope I wouldn’t collapse tomorrow.

That evening was spent quietly. None of us felt the need to speak. David was still staying at Kathy’s place but I knew he’d be there tomorrow. I had a short phone call from Steve who wanted to know if I was still OK … and whether he could put the last piece out on Friday as planned.

And if you think that the Wednesday evening was quiet … well, Thursday morning, you could cut the tension with a knife, it was so thick. I got a hug from Francis just before we got in the car … it said more than a thousand words could have. I smiled at him and said quietly, “I’ll be OK.”

I wasn’t sure what he was going to do that day but I hoped he’d go to school and meet with the others. I knew he’d talked with Jordan on Wednesday evening and Francis had told me that nothing had changed at school.

Nervous as a leaf that was about to fall off its tree, I got ready to take the stand for the second part of my testimony. More journalist than before had turned up and I thought I’d counted more cameras outside than before. I knew that Steve was there. I’d seen some teachers, too. I guess they hadn’t had anything else to do today.

{I’m not going to bore you with what happened, as you already know. I got the chance to tell my story, from the moment that I was captured by Mike until the moment I was rescued from the hotel bedroom. I hadn’t looked once at Mike or the doctors as I didn’t dare do that …but I could hear the gasps from the audience. Yea, I told them more than I had last time … in greater detail … and I knew how it affected them … just as it had affected me. }

My lawyer smiled positively at me when he went back to his seat. I felt sweat starting to pore out of me. I could sense that the defense lawyer was ready for me, that he’d eat me alive. I felt worse as he came closer.

“So, Nick … you want us to believe this fantasy of yours?”

Even the suggestion that it was all made up forced me to raise my head and I looked him straight in the eyes. I saw fright in them because I knew he hadn’t expected that reaction. I continued to look him in his eyes and said, “That was no fantasy; it was, real, every bit of it. Couldn’t you feel it?” I said, not yelling but speaking very softly, very firmly, trying to stay as calm as I could.

“So you’re saying that all of this is real, not some story cooked up by your teenage hormones boiling over?”

“No, sir … and you, Mike and the doctors know that very well,” I said.

I still kept calm.

“Really? And you think it’s possible for a male to orgasm that many times in just one night?”

“Oh, absolutely … but I wouldn’t suggest that any of you try it … it’s quite painful.”

I was so relaxed, so at ease with it all. Well, not at ease … I’d just made up my mind that I’d stay calm and relaxed. He’d not get to me, not this time.

My lawyer stood up. “Your honor, I have no idea where counsel is going with his line of questioning but we heard Nick’s testimony a moment ago.”

“He has a point,” the judge noted.

I saw the lawyer look back at his clients. This time I looked, too. Mike had his head down and was looking at the table, while the doctors winked at their lawyer as he walked back to the defense table.

“Maybe I can help,” my lawyer said. “May we approach, your honor?”

I sat and waited. I knew what he would enter as evidence. Until now we’d kept secret that investigators had found sections of video of my sexual torture on the internet, so my lawyer would now cut their claims to shreds. I saw their lawyer turn a bit pale as he walked back to speak to his clients.

The judge then announced a 10 minute break and I was allowed to step down.

I knew dad was there. I just slumped in my chair. The whole thing hadn’t taken more than an hour, I guess, and although the day was far from over, I already felt drained. I knew what would come next, and I saw out of the corner of my eye that the court clerk was bringing a TV into the courtroom. They would only show about a minute or two of the internet video but still it was more than enough.

My lawyer came back to me just as we were about to start again. “I think you might be in for a surprise after the video presentation,” he warned.

I looked up at him but, before I could ask what, the judge asked him to continue.

We watched the TV bit … well, everyone else watched as I was too scared even to look up. I could still see it, step by cruel step, in my mind … there was no need to have the images of the TV added to it.

“Is this it?” the judge asked my lawyer when it was finished.

“No, sir. We have one more witness.”

Oh, I thought. What is this?

“No, sir. A new witness contacted me during the break. He is willing to testify and has some relevant information for this case.”

“A bit late, isn’t it?”

“I agree, your honor, but it’s not about the facts of Nick’s case. He’s more a character witness.”

“For the alleged victim?” the judge asked.

“May I approach, your honor?” my lawyer asked.

“Yes, of course, let’s deal with this,” and he motioned to the defense lawyer as well.

I looked up now, suddenly interested in this new development. At first, I was afraid that Peter or Andrew would walk in to take the stand. That was something that, despite everything that had happened to me, I wouldn’t want to see.

It toOK them quite a bit of time and it seemed that the defense was not happy with the judge’s ruling at all.

“We will hear the last witness and then take recess until next week for the defense to prepare its summation,” the judge ruled. “You may call your next witness,” he added.

“I call to the stand Randy Harrison.”

Shocked, I looked towards the back and there he was … Randy alias Justin … who proceeded to walk forward to the stand. He looked at me and smiled gently.

I turned towards my lawyer. “You put him up to this”

“No, Nick, he came to see me this morning and said he wanted to help.”

Damn, I thought … another life ruined.

Well, you can guess what happened next. Randy testified that I, Nick, hadn’t been the first victim who’d been blackmailed by the doctors. He told them what had happened and he concluded with the words that he hoped that this would set him free from future blackmail as well.

The defense had the right to cross-examine him but we all knew they wouldn’t. With Randy’s corroborating testimony, it looked to us like Mike and the doctors would surely be convicted. I couldn’t think of anything that they could bring against us now.

I hugged my dad, who smiled and asked, “Glad this is over, Nick?”

“Definitely, dad, but I am tired. This morning toOK quite a bit out of me.”

“I thought it would. You ready to go home then?”

“Yea, we’d better meet the journalists and then get out of here.”

My lawyer intervened. “OK, let’s go. By the way, Randy said he’d drop in later this afternoon. He wanted to sneak out of here quietly if he could.”

We left the building through a horde of journalist and a few cameras as well. But we left the talking … well, saying “no comments” to our lawyer.

When we came home we didn’t sneak in this time, as it was quiet in front of the house. But then they all had been around the courthouse.

“So you’re glad this is over, Nick?” my dad asked again for reassurance.

“Well, it’s not over, dad, but at least he trial is nearly done.”

“You think they won’t give up, even now?”

“No idea. I was surprised though that they handled it all so carefully this time … no hard attacks … nothing.”

“Yea, it’s just as if they still have something up there sleeves.”

“Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. We’ll know more about their strategy if the journalists print more lies in tomorrow’s newspaper.”

Francis wasn’t home and I missed him. I wasn’t sure when he’d be back but he probably thought that today’s court session would last all day.

An hour or so later, Randy showed up, not by the front door but through the garden. It seemed that everybody now knew the back way in.

“Hi! Can I come in?” he asked.

“Yea, of course you can,” I said.

“Well, I wasn’t sure, as me being there must have been a bit of a surprise.”

“You can say that again, Randy. I just hope what you did today won’t ruin your career. I have ruined enough people’s lives so far.”

“Oh, I don’t think so, Nick, and I had to testify … I wanted to end the chances of blackmail forever.”

“I understand. So, when did you decide to do it?”

“Yesterday, after I talked with Alexei. I had to be in town anyway for tomorrow, so I thought … what the heck … I can come in one day earlier.”

“Well, I’m sure it wasn’t that easy a decision to make.”

“No, it wasn’t Nick, but the situation forced my hand. So what have you planned for your afternoon off?”

“Nothing. To be honest, I was just wondering where Francis was.”

“You’ve called him already?”

“Yea, but it seems he doesn’t have his cell phone with him.”

“Oh, that’s strange.”

“Yea, he must have forgotten it somewhere.”

“So what do you want to do this afternoon?”

“Are you up for some sketching, Randy?”

“Yea, that sounds like a plan, Nick. Where do you want to go?”

“I’m not too sure. Oh! I know! There’s a little lake just outside town.”

“That sounds good. We’d better dress up, though, as it’s getting colder.”

Randy followed my directions, back towards that lake … the lake that had very nice memories for me, even though it now looked a lot different. With the fall colors surrounding it, it even looked better than it did in the late spring time.

“Wow, this is great!” enthused Randy.

“Yea, I thought it would be a nice place for a good bit of drawing.”

“You can say that again, Nick. Is that a café down there?”

“Yea, it’s a great place but it’s not open at this time of the year.”

“OK! Let’s get to work.”

For the rest of the afternoon we made several drawings of the lakeshore. I must admit that I learned several new techniques from Randy, stuff I picked up very quickly. He was good at this.

“So, you’re in town to film the next part of the QAF?” I asked him after a long period of silent work.

“No … I’m here now by coincidence more than anything else.”

“Yea … but that could be what the newspapers will say, Randy, about today.”

“They won’t care … well, at least not in a negative way. Oh, I’ll get some comment from one or two of them, but it’ll be positive comment, I’m betting.”

“Well, maybe you should have told the public relations people for the program what you were going to do.”

“It won’t matter. It’s harder to talk about this to your loved ones than in court. Is that why you didn’t want Francis to be in the courtroom today?”

I blushed. He’d caught me. He was right. It was difficult to talk about to start with but, with your loved ones around, it was even more difficult.

“I guess you’re right about that, Randy.”

“So, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens during the next few days. The series is in hiatus on TV at the moment, so I hope my testimony won’t attract too much attention in the media and the whole episode will blow over in a few days.”

We continued to draw a bit more.

“Randy, can I ask you something?”

“Always. What is there to hide now, Nick?”

“I don’t know Randy, but this is kind of personal, you know.”

“Go ahead, Nick.”

“Did they ever rape you? Or … well … fuck you under threat?”

“Yea, that was part of it, too, Nick.”

“Sorry to stir up those memories but how did you deal with it?”

He looked at me but didn’t say anything.

“I mean … well … you know … after that, with someone you loved, I presume you ….” I started to color a bit as I was making a lot of assumptions now.

“Don’t worry, I know what you mean as it has been quite a bit of a problem for me, too. So far, I haven’t met anyone that I could trust enough to let him do that to me, Nick.”

“Oh, I’d hoped you could have given me some pointers on dealing with it.”

“You trust Francis, don’t you?”

“Yea, he would never hurt me … with my head I know that but ….”

We remained silent again for a bit.

“Maybe it’s not about trusting Francis, Nick. I sometimes think it’s about trusting me again. Trusting myself to be able to enjoy it again, trusting myself not get flashback images, even though I hardly ever get them any more. If I were in your place, I’d be scared, too. So maybe that worries you … the fear of your own reaction.”

“Could be. I just want to so much but, yea, being afraid of it is a big part.”

“Yea, but wouldn’t he stop immediately if you said so? It’s not like before … if you say NO, he’d immediately stop. You trust him enough for that.”

“Oh, yea. He’d never do anything to hurt me. That is out of the question.”

“I thought so. So maybe you should just try it. Make sure you are in a safe setting and let him know what might happen so he’s prepared, too.”

“Yea … well, we’ll see.”

“You’re really getting good at this, did you know that, Nick?”

I saw him looking at my drawings. “I guess I’m not bad.”

“I don’t know if you have a lot of work completed, but I think that I might know someone who’d be interested in putting them in a show.”

“You think so? No way! I’m not that good.”

“Oh, I think you’d be surprised, Nick.”

“Well, I only have a few so far … so I don’t have enough anyway … and they’re not all as good as this one either.”

“If I can take this one with me to show him, he might contact you.”

He saw me hesitate. I had enough things to deal with at the moment, I thought.

“What have you got to lose, Nick?”

He was right about that.

“OK, I guess you’ve got me there. I’ve nothing to lose.”

At the end of the afternoon, we went back to the house. I expected Francis to be there but he wasn’t and also my dad was not there.

“Well, it seems it’s just the two of us. You want to have a bite to eat, Randy?”

“Could do, if you don’t mind me hanging around, that is?”

“No, it’s nice. I don’t want to be alone at the moment.”

Around 7 the phone rang.

“Hello, Nick speaking.”

“Hey! At last, it’s good to hear your voice, Nick. How are you doing?” What a relief! It was Francis.

“I’m OK but where are you and why didn’t you take your phone with you? I’ve been trying to call you.”

“Yea, I forgot it. I did try to call you earlier but you weren’t home, although your dad said the trial ended early.”

“Oh, did you go to school?”

“No, I spend most of the day with my mom and, since 5 p.m., I’ve been with Jordan and the other guys. But I’ll fill you in on all of that when I get back in about an hour. Is that OK?”

“Yea, I’m looking forward to that. I’ll ask Randy to keep me company till then.”

“Oh! Is he there? We wondered where he was. Tell him to give Jordan a ring when he gets back to his hotel room.”

“OK! Will do! See you in an hour.”

“Love you, Nick.”

I hung up the phone and looked at Randy. “I’m not sure what’s going on or that I want to know but Jordan wants you to ring him when you get back to the hotel.”

“Oh, was that Francis?”

“Yea. We’ll find out more in detail when he gets back.”

“So you’re not going to tell me anything?”

He was saved by the bell as they say as the phone rang again.

“Nick,” I said.

“Hi, Nick. This is Steve.”

“Hey! How are you?”

“Doing OK. I just finished the article for tomorrow and wanted to ask you if you could read through it.”

“Yea, that’s fine. Could you e-mail it to me?”

“Yep. Go and read it and then call me … although there’s not a lot of surprises in it, I think.”

“OK, I’ll send it right back.”

“That was Steve, Randy. He send me an e-mail he wants me to read, so can food wait for a bit?”

“Of course … go ahead.”

Upstairs I started up the computer and opened the mail.

His message said, “Here is the piece for the newspaper tomorrow, Nick. Let me know if you are OK with it, although I didn’t need to add a lot today.”

Here is the text of his story:

“In my last piece, I wrote that that Thursday had been my hardest day as a journalist. Lots of things have happened since then, but I’m still standing behind what I wrote and have been doing since then. Yesterday was the hardest day in my life not as a journalist but as a person. It is incredible that people are able to hurt other people on purpose. More than ever, I have an incredible respect for the way that Nick was able to tell what happened. After his testimony, the internet images which were presented later on were not really necessary in order to give an adequate description of the deeds of the accused. I don’t see any other option than that they will be convicted. I think even the defense lawyer came to that conclusion today as his questioning of Nick was a lot less aggressive and hostile than it had been earlier.

Everything that has been presented in court has also put the story that Nick had frankly and fully told me in interviews in a broader perspective. Here is the last bit of the interview that I had with him before the trial started:

[Steve then quoted sections of my earlier interview, which were consistent with what I testified to in court.]

So, hopefully, to conclude this sad but true story I can only say two things about our current school situation. The first is the negative angle: I didn’t think that people who were responsible for the development of children into young adults with a full understanding of principles such as a respect and understanding of human rights could be so easily influenced by a little group of very narrow minded people whose views are not one bit better than those of any extremist who wants to impose his views onto someone else without reason, respect or understanding.

The second conclusion is one relating to me: that I will never be persuaded to write untruthful rubbish for money or under any threat. I’ve seen the hurt and anguish caused by the writings of some other “writers” using the name of journalist. I’ve come to understand the dangers to independent news when it is based simply on making money and being successful by destroying the reputations of others.

To conclude I can only say that I’ve been impressed with Nick’s strength and authority as a person, the way he’s handled the whole situation and the way he’s stood up for his rights as a citizen of the United States.

Well, that looked good to me. I had nothing to change although I did think that that last bit was a little much but, then again, they were his words and not mine.

I send him a reply letting him know that I was OK with the piece. Although it wouldn’t be in the school newspaper this time but in a real one, the article looked good enough to me.

When I came down, I looked at Randy. “So why do you need to call Jordan?”

“Oh, that has something to do with what I need to do tomorrow. Let’s see what he has to tell me.”

He got out his mobile and I saw the number was in his address boOK as he pressed just one button before he starting talking. I tried to listen in but was disturbed when the back door opened.

“Hi, Nick! How are you, love?”

“Missing you, Francis.”

“Yea, I know that feeling. I was glad to hear that you were with Randy, though.”

“We went out drawing at the lake.”

He smiled and said, “Good! I hope that brought back some positive thoughts.”

“Oh, definitely. And you were right; it was good to talk with Randy.”

“You weren’t mad at him any more?”

“Well, how could I, after his testimony this morning?”

“He was afraid you would still be upset. I had him on the phone this morning before his testimony. He said he’d wanted to contact you but wasn’t sure how you’d respond to it.”

“We’ve talked it through now, so that’s good. So what is this all about, the call to Jordan? What are they up to, Francis?”

“I think they might have found a way to circumvent the education board while still occupying the school and preventing others from getting things through. Not sure it will work, but they have done an awful lot of arranging, as far as I know.”

“So what has that got to do with Randy?”

“Oh I think he and Alexei have something to do with it … I’m not sure what their role is.”

“We’ll see if Randy can explain a bit more.”

“Well, they might not want to say anything as they’re not sure their plan will work.”

Randy was still on the phone so we just waited for him to finish.

He ended with the words “OK, I’ll be there in 20 minutes. No, if you don’t want me to say anything, I won’t.”

We looked at each other and knew that he wouldn’t be able to tell us a lot.

“Sorry, guys,” he said. “I overheard the last bit of the conversation you had and I guess you overheard mine, so you know I can’t tell you a lot more than Francis already knows. But I’m sure I’ll see you around tomorrow at some point.”

 

chapter 69

chapter 67

 

During lunch, Francis and I were more or less left alone.  I tried to see where Steve was and where the others were, but they all seemed to be busy.  So we talked a bit and ate our lunch, most of the time in silence.  The rest of the afternoon went by without too much happening.  We finished the last hour and made our way slowly towards the exit.  But before we reached it, we were blocked.  A huge crowd of students were standing outside the detention room. 

Wow!  A lot of people must have gotten detention, I thought.  The teacher came out and, when he saw us, he threw us a dirty look.  He didn’t say anything. 

“What did we do?” Francis asked. 

“Hey, you guys!” Andrew yelled.  “That’s one down … let’s see what happens now!” 

“What’s going on, Andrew?” I asked. 

“Well, we all handed out that paper that Steve wrote … so we decided we all needed a detention.”  

“Wow!  All of you?”  

“Yea!  The turnout isn’t bad … and remember, there’s still classes going on in some subjects … so I guess that means that most of the people that are finished for the day are here.”  

He was right about that.  More and more people walked into the detention room area.  We were getting a lot of encouragement from some of them as they walked past us. 

We felt a bit awkward about the amount of support Steve was getting because of us.  But, on the other hand, this meant that people were supporting us and that was something I hadn’t expected.  I guess Jordan had been right after all. 

I wondered where he was but I couldn’t find him.  Suddenly the crowd on one side of the room went quiet.  We looked around and saw the principal coming towards us, accompanied by some of the teachers. 

“What’s going on here?”

Nobody answered … we all looked towards the detention room. 

Someone started to yell in there, “We have detention, we have detention.”   The chorus got louder as more of the kids joined in.  The principal looked around until he saw us and then he moved closer. 

“You have anything to do with this, Nick?”  

“No, sir!  I was just leaving when we found this.”  

“Sure,” he said in a way that led me on to believe he definitely didn’t buy my story. 

He made his way into the detention room, the kids still yelling.  We followed him inside. 

“Silence!  Silence!” he shouted. 

But he stood no chance, none whatsoever. 

Then I saw Jordan standing on one of the chairs. 

“Let’s hear what the principal has to say, guys!”  

The principal nodded towards Jordan, more or less thanking him. 

“What do you guys think you’re doing?”

Now Jordan approached him.  “I think, sir, that that is quite clear … at the moment, we’re all  serving a detention.”  

“No, you’re not … I only have five on my list.”  

“No, we all have detentions …we all have handed out that paper.”  

You could see the principal look around, finally starting to see what was going on. 

“You’re not going to get anywhere doing this, you know.  The parent-teacher association has decided this issue, so there’s nothing you can do to change that.”  

“Well, sir, I regret to say that we disagree.  They’re making decisions for us students and we’re not buying that any more.”  

“I don’t think you can change that, Jordan, and you know that.”  

“We’ll see, sir.  For now, we’re letting our voice be heard that we’re not agreeing with their decision.”  

“What do you want then?” he asked, trying to see if this was just a protest or if there was more behind it. 

“Well, good of you to ask, sir.  We have a petition here that has been signed since last Friday by 80 per cent of the students.  I’m sure you’re capable of reading it.  You have till 9 a. m. tomorrow morning to let us know if you agree with it or not.”  

Jordan handed the papers he got from someone else to the principal … who looked at the forms and, I think, was just as surprised by the number of signatures as I was. 

My god!  They must have done an awful lot of work to get this done in just a few days.  I started to realize that we had more support than we thought we had.  I looked at Francis and saw that he was realizing now what was happening, too. 

“I don’t think this will matter much, Jordan, but I’ll see if I can discuss it at least.” 

“Tomorrow before 9 a. m., sir.”  

The principal – together with some of the teachers who had followed him – left the room.  No one stayed behind to check up on the ones that had detention. 

“Wow!” Francis said.  “You’ve been busy, Jordan.”  

“You can say that again,” I added. 

“Well, I wasn’t alone … there’s a whole bunch of us and we’re not backing down.”  

“So what happens tomorrow at 9, then?” Francis asked. 

“It depends on what the answer is.”  

“I don’t think you can expect any response, Jordan.”  

“In that case, they’ll find out what the power of students can mean.”  

“No violence, agreed?” I said quickly. 

“Of course not … we’re not stupid.”  

‘So what then?” Francis asked. 

“To be frank, I’m not sure yet.  We’ll have another meeting tonight.”  

“Oh?  Where?”

“Over at Andrew and Peter’s house.  Are you coming?”

“No,” I said a bit louder than I needed to, I guess. 

“Are you sure, Nick?” Francis asked now. 

“Yea … it might be better if we stood a little distant from all of this.  We don’t want people to start saying that we’re pushing others.”  

“You might have a point there,” Jordan said. 

“Just keep us informed, OK?” Francis said. 

“Will do!  You’re going home?”  

“I guess so … you’re going to stay here then?”  

“I’m not sure … we won’t meet until 8 tonight.”  

“OK … see you tomorrow then.”  

“Have fun tonight!” I added. 

We walked out of the room and back to our house. 

“Did you think something like this would happen?” I asked Francis as we sat down on the couch. 

“No, definitely not!  So many are supporting us.  After all the things happening with the parents, I was sure most of the students were thinking the same way.”  

“Well, we seemed to be wrong about that.”  

Just then my dad walked in. 

“Wrong about what, guys?” he asked. 

So we told him the story of what happened at school that afternoon. 

“Wow!  That is amazing!  I think the principal is right … I’m not sure they’ll go very far with this.  Maybe they’ll let Steve back to lead the school’s newspaper but I think that’ll be it.”  

“It is good to know that they’re trying, sir,” Francis said. 

“I guess so.  So Jordan is playing a major role in this?”  

“Oh, I’m not sure.  I think a lot of people are involved in organizing this.  But Jordan might be their spokesman, so to speak.  He invited us over for tonight’s meeting at Andrew’s place but I thought it would be better if we stayed out of it.”  

“Good idea.  Otherwise they might think we’ve pushed them into doing this,” my dad said.

Hmmm … he’s thinking the same way we are, I thought. 

“So did you get in contact with any of the teachers?”

“Some of them … but they’re not willing to talk a lot.  I’m not sure what happened that Thursday evening, but the more I think about it, it has to do with some kind of blackmail or pressure that group of parents used on them.”  

“That would be typical of the strategy they’re following at the moment,” Francis said. 

“It seems so.  You’re still planning to go ahead this Thursday, Nick?”  

“Definitely.  I want them to know what happened.  I don’t think they think I’d go too far but I’m not letting them speculate and use it all any longer.  The support of my schoolmates has only convinced me to go forward, too.”  

That evening we tried to focus as much as we could on the homework we’d gotten so behind in, but I’m sure that Francis’s mind wandered off as much as mine towards the meeting then going on on the other side of town. 

We could see a lot of people outside the school building when we arrived at 8.30.  Some were students but most seemed to be parents or teachers.  Jordan was waiting for us and, before we reached them, he led us to the side of the building. 

“Come here, guys!  This is the only way in at the moment.”  

“What have you been up to, Jordan?” Francis asked. 

“At about 7 this morning, we took over the building.  The janitor who opened the school was put outside and, since then, we’ve been control of the school.  Students are allowed to go in but the teachers have to stay out till we get an answer from the principal.  We though that that was the best way to show them that we mean it.”

“You sure this isn’t going too far?”  

“I don’t think so, Nick.  A group of 20 or so talked about it last night for quite a while and we came to the conclusion that the chance of them giving in to our petition was pretty small … so we needed to push the point a bit more and let them know we’re serious about this.  We then checked to see if we had general support and, by midnight, we had about 200 students on side, agreeing to be here by 7 a.m. this morning.”  

In the meantime, we’d entered the building by a back door controlled by students who’d blocked access with some rubbish.  We were cheered with great enthusiastic as we entered the building. 

“So now what, Jordan?” Francis asked. 

“We have about 15 minutes till 9.  I don’t think the principal has arrived yet, so we just have to wait.  But before that I think we need a little pep talk, so let’s listen.”  

He pushed us a bit further so we could see the stairs that let up from the first floor.  Andrew was standing there. 

“Quiet, please!  I want to say something.”

It didn’t take the students long to turn around and look at him. 

“Thanks for being here this morning.  Last night we handed out the petition and this morning we’re here, occupying the building to add weight to the requests we have … requests that are totally appropriate according to what we believe and stand for … what we’ve learned from our parents … to respect people with other beliefs … and to believe in ideals as long as they leave space to respect others … to make sure that we know the facts before we act on rumors, gossip and outright lies.  But we also have to fight for the right to live out our own lives … without the hate and small-minded thoughts of am insignificant group of people who can’t keep up with current changes in society.  So the plan is this: from now on, we’ll stay here … occupy the building until they agree with our demands.  If need be, we’ll stay day and night.  Your support is necessary for this to work … so, if need be, later on today, come and join us down here to see what you can do to make the occupation an enjoyable experience, as well as an active time.  Now let’s go to the front of the building, sit down on the floor, and open the window so everyone outside will know we’re here, waiting for the response to our demands.”  

He was right: there were an incredible number of people inside, certainly more than the 200 he’d talked about at first.  People spread out all over the place … some stayed downstairs … others went up to the rooms at the upper levels. 

“Come on … let’s join the others,” Jordan said. 

We followed him to the corner just beside the front entrance.  Just beside the door was a window which, I saw, could still be opened.  Andrew joined us with a big smile on his face.  He seemed to be enjoying all of this, just as Jordan was. 

“Guys,“ he said.  “We know you don’t want to be in the spotlight, but I’d like you to meet the people that so far have led this.”  Beside Jordan, Andrew, Peter and Steve, there were at least another 20 students standing down there.  The other gymnastic team members were there … some of the others I recognized but I didn’t know any of them well. 

Not being sure what to say, we just nodded, happy that they were on our side as they talked among themselves. 

When it was almost 9 a. m., Jordan stepped forward. 

“I guess it’s time to see what their response is.  Give the sign and open the windows.”  

We opened the window curtain and saw that some teachers and also the principal were standing there.  We waited a moment, as we wanted them to realize that it was not a small group inside the building.  They understood immediately as all the windows were opened and students started to yell. 

Again Jordan gave a signal and he opened the window.  By the time that was completed, there was absolute silence inside the building. 

“Good morning, sir” Jordan said. 

“Damn, Jordan!  What are you doing?  You know that this can backfire on you?”  

“I’m sure it won’t … I just opened the window to see what your response is.”

“Reply?  Reply?  You know we can’t do this.  You’re just students here.  We know what’s best for you,” one of the teachers standing beside the principal answered. 

“I guess that means ‘no’ then,” Jordan responded.

He just shrugged his shoulders.  Though the principal might not have been in full agreement, it seemed that the parent/teacher association was not going to give in. 

“Yes … a ‘no’ … and you’d better open up this place or we’ll have the police opening it for us.  You’re all here in school legally … as long as teaching is taking place … but I’m sure the police chief will agree that you’re trespassing otherwise … and he’ll send in the police to liberate the school from your occupation.”  

My god!  I wasn’t sure which teacher had said that, but he was sure … very sure … of himself. 

“Well, if that’s your answer, then we don’t have anything to talk about any more,” Jordan said.  Before anyone could answer, he closed his window again and, at the same time, the students started to yell out of the windows again. 

“OK, guys … it’s time for a meeting.  We’ve got to discuss this.”  

Some stayed behind by the door and at the window, keeping an eye on the activity outside. 

“So, just as we expected!” Andrew said. 

“Yea, but not the police,” Peter added.  “We talked about several options, but not about the police getting involved in this.  You think the chief will order the police to force their way in here?”  

It went quiet after that comment.  I knew they didn’t want to use violence … but what if the police tried to force their way in?  They’d probably not be able to keep the students under control in those circumstances. 

“OK, I’m going to give my dad a ring.  He’s a lawyer; he might be able to look into this,” one of the students said.  He walked away. 

“So, what if other students want to come in?” Peter asked. 

“Well, a few of us could go outside and let them know to use the back door.”  

A few left.  We just sat there and drank for a while.  When the student came back, he said his dad was going to take a look into it and let him know by noon. 

We split up and walked around the building, keeping an eye on what was happening.  Some students stayed at the windows to yell and keep an eye on the situation.  So far it had gone quiet outside, as most of the teachers had left.  More and more students had joined the protest and come in the back door, until the entrance had been found by one of the teachers and blocked. 

Around midday, we met in the hall again and talked a bit. 

“Nick, are you still OK with this?” one of the girls asked suddenly. 

A bit surprised, I looked around.  I could see that this was a question that others had wanted to ask, too, but they’d not been sure they could. 

“Yes, I am,” I said softly.  But Jordan saved me from having to say any more. 

“Remember guys, although this started with Nick and Francis, this isn’t about them any more.  This is about equal rights for everyone to be themselves … for the right to a free press that respects diversity … for the rights of parents to have a real say in the operation of the school.”  

“Yea, we know, Jordan … but, still, Nick is dealing with enough as it is.  Does he want to involve himself in this, too?”  

“No, it’s OK,” Francis said.  “We’ve talked about this and it’s helping us.  Your overwhelming support has surprised us and it means a lot, right, Nick?”  

“Yes, he’s right, guys.  Last week, I wasn’t sure if I could go on with this … but now, I just have to make sure others are safe from them … just like you have to go out and make sure that the school is not being controlled by a vocal minority.”  

There were more nods and it got silent again, some sipping on a cup of coffee or tea. 

Should I tell them?  It probably was a good thing to do, a preparation that could help me testify in court … or that’s what the shrink would have argued. 

“Guys, I know that you don’t know all that happened to me with the doctors … and most of you got what you know out of the newspaper … and only Steve has got the situation right so far.  Since I’m going to take the stand on Thursday anyway, I think it’s time to tell you a bit more about what happened.  I think Steve will publish more if he can on Friday anyway.”   I’d looked at Steve and he nodded.  “If I can, I will, Nick … just as we agreed before this all started.”  

“Good,” I said. 

Over the next 30 minutes I told them just about everything that had happened … how I was blackmailed into it, and then taken hostage at the hotel.  I didn’t go into much detail, but I got my point across, I’m sure.  When I stopped talking, I saw that most of them had disbelief on their faces … some even had tears rolling down their cheeks … some had started to hold hands. 

“He’s telling the truth, guys, I know,” Andrew said. 

Now, that was a surprise!  I looked at him and one part of me hoped he knew what he was getting himself into. 

“I know he’s right because it happened to me, too.”  

I could see that some of them were just realizing what Andrew had just said and they looked at Peter now. 

“Yea, we’re gay and have been a couple for almost two years now,” Peter said. 

“Told you so!” one of the girls said.  “You owe me ten bucks!” she added to the girls sitting beside her. 

We were saved by the bell at that point as one of the mobiles started to ring.  “My dad,” the lawyer’s son said as he answered.  He went quiet then. 

We waited for the phone call to end but we saw by the smile on his face that he’d gotten some good news from his dad. 

But before the phone call was ended, we were disturbed by someone outside using a megaphone.  We walked to the window and opened the curtain. 

“Come on, guys, let’s talk.  Otherwise, we’ll have to bring in the police.”  His threats were strengthened by the fact that there were around 10 policemen there.  Not enough to get in, I was sure of that, but still enough to let his threat become a bit more meaningful. 

“We want to talk, so open that window.”  

“We won’t,” one of the students yelled from outside the window on the first floor.  “That would just make it too easy for you to get inside with the assistance of those policemen.  You can talk from there and we’ll answer you from up here.”  

“Are you in charge now?” the principal asked. 

‘No one is in charge, sir.  We’re all in this together.”  

“Come on, we can talk about this.  You should respect the opinion of your parents and teachers.”  

“They are not our parents and if they’re teachers, they’re setting the wrong example,” a student from the first floor answered.  It was one of the guys who’d been downstairs before now answering.  It was good again that someone else was speaking.  It would make them understand hopefully that this was for real. 

“Open up so some of us can come in and we can talk about this.”  

‘No, you know our demands.  If you’re ready to give in on them, you’ll be welcome back in to talk.”  

We knew that would never happen.  The teacher/parent association had probably met last night, rejected our demands, and then not met since we’d occupied the school that morning. 

The megaphone was torn out of the principal’s hands again.  “You really want us to get the police to force their way in, then?” someone shouted. 

“They could try, but I’m not sure they look particularly happy with the idea of using force on students.”  

He’d been correct as the one in command had stepped back a bit and was busy talking on the phone with someone senior. 

“Come on, guys.  You know that when the educational authorities get together, they’ll advise the chief to use force to ensure the students can get an education.  At the moment you’re preventing that from happening.”  

“I think that, for now, we’re finished talking.  Come back when you’re ready to talk for real,” the student downstairs answered.  I could hear all windows closing to let them know they’d stopped listening. 

Although the teacher kept talking, we went back to the side of the hall. 

“Oh, you guys are going to love this.  We’re going to make sure we’re one step ahead of them,” the student who had been on the phone said, smiling broadly.

chapter 68

chapter 66

 

That Friday evening was spent in silence, everyone sunk in his own thoughts.  I’d wanted to go to Suzanne’s to talk with my dad but Francis’s mother said it’d be better to leave him for a while.  I knew she was right; he’d had a lot to deal with lately … and now he was being punished for all the support he’d given us. 

I knew there was no way that I could stay all weekend without knowing anything new.  I’d have to find out what had happened.  So, on the Saturday morning, I started out on a search for news, alone, leaving Francis quite warm ensconced in our bed. 

I found a newsstand that was open and still had Friday’s newspaper.  I bought both the Friday and Saturday editions and made my way back to the house.  I made some coffee and read the stories. 

First, there was the newspaper that was allied with the defense.  In the Friday newspaper they printed a lot of rubbish, mainly about the things that I didn’t say or didn’t answer.  Large parts of my story were left untold. 

The other newspaper had a bit more of a neutral tone to their coverage.  I was a bit startled to read their editorial, as it was about Steve’s request for honest journalism instead of street rubbish just to sell newspapers.  The editorial fully supported Steve’s position and decried the other newspaper’s way of reporting.  Finally, it printed Steve’s article that had been blocked in the school newspaper as a letter to the editor. 

Wow, I thought … the decision to prevent publication had backfired on them!  Not only was Steve’s article spread around school, but also it was printed in one of the city’s newspapers.  Good for Steve, I thought.  He deserved this. 

That was all I could find in Friday’s newspaper.  It seemed that either the Thursday evening meeting had run too late to get into the Friday edition, or everyone involved had kept silent … something that I wouldn’t have expected to happen, given that so many conflicting opinions had been expressed. 

I was right for, when I opened Saturday’s newspaper, there on page 2 was an account of what had happened during the Thursday evening.  Seemingly one of the participants had reported on what had happened that evening. 

The article didn’t detail the discussion … just that they’d been rough and hard.  But the outcome had been that my dad had been suspended for an extended period to allow a full investigation of what had happened with the team over the last year.  Furthermore, the director was told to withdraw our team from the gymnastics competition this year and, on top of that, Steve was to be punished: he was no longer on the school newspaper’s list of writers. 

It was hard for me to understand how teachers who’d been so friendly to me … well, some of them at least … could have decided something like that.  I wondered what had happened at school on Friday.  Had all these decisions been known already, or did it take some time for all this to become known? 

I had Jordan’s telephone number somewhere and I knew he was the best source for information.  I guess that Andrew and Peter would know, too, but I didn’t want to call them.  In my mind I still was not sure I could trust them. 

“Wow!  Who is this?” said a sleepy voice on the other end of the telephone line. 

“Sorry to phone you so early, Jordan.  It’s me, Nick,” I said.

“Oh, damn!  Nick!  It’s still before 8 a.m. … what are you doing up?” 

“You need to ask?” 

“Damn!  OK … I guess not.  Sorry, Nick, my mind’s not awake yet.” 

“Jordan, do you know anything about what happened Thursday evening and Friday at school?” 

“Yea… at least some of it, Nick.” 

“Can we meet somewhere to talk about it?”

“I thought you’d have come up with that question … but not before Monday.” 

“Well, I haven’t talked with my dad yet … it seems he needs some time alone … and I want to know what’s going on.  I started this …,” I said as my voice began to quaver. 

“OK … give me 15 and meet me at Matt’s diner, OK?” 

“Sure, that’s fine.”

I wrote a note for Francis and joined Jordan about 20 minutes later.  I’d taken Saturday’s newspaper with me, just in case he hadn’t read the story.  I handed it to him and he started to read.

“Damn!  They can’t do that to the coach, can they?”

“Well, it seems they have.  So you didn’t know anything about this?” 

“Not about the coach and the team.  But the word on Friday was that Steve had been thrown off the school newspaper, had been suspended for one day, and had detention for the rest of the month.”

“Wow!  That’s harsh!” 

“Well, not harsh enough in the eyes of some.  It seems that a few wanted him to be suspended for a much longer time, but the director stood firm on the grounds that he had a right to his education, just like the rest of us.  So he got off with detention for the most time.”

I let this latest news sink in.  Another person’s life damaged by all of this!  The detention would not be a problem, but the suspension would go on his record.  I was lost in my own thoughts for a while. 

“Hey!  You still here?” Jordan asked.

I looked up. 

“Are you OK, Nick?” he asked concerned. 

“Yea, I’m just thinking about it all.  It’s starting to become a real mess, isn’t it?”

“Yes, so kit seems … but don’t despair … there’s always help closer bye than you think.” 

Then my cellphone rang.  I knew who it was without answering.  So I said straight off,  “Yea, Francis, are you awake?” 

“Where are you, Nick?” he demanded immediately … and I could hear anger and worry both in his voice.

“I’m with Jordan at the moment at Matt’s but I’ll soon be on my way back.” 

“OK … see you in 10 then.” 

“Yea, I think so.”

“Are you OK?  Do you want me to come and pick you up?” 

“No, I’m fine, Francis.  Just going to say goodbye to Jordan and then I’ll be on my way.” 

I hung up and looked at Jordan. 

“I’d better go, Jordan.  Thanks for getting up and telling me all this.” 

“You’re welcome … and remember, help is closer than you think.” 

With that we said goodbye and I left. 

I was a mess.  This whole situation was a mess, but the last thing I wanted to do was worry Francis more … so I steeled myself and put a smile on my face.  Yes, that was what I was going to do.  I needed some time alone to think … to … well, whatever. 

So I found myself, about an hour later sitting in the park with my sketchbook.  I’d convinced Francis that I was OK and that he needed some time alone with his mom … which, I could tell from the look on her face, was something she really looked forward to.  So, feeling a bit better as I’d at least accomplished something positive, I walked off with my sketchbook and a new set of sketching pencils. 

I did quite a bit of drawing over the next few hours: dogs sitting beside their masters … geese sailing on the small lake … kids playing football.  All in all, it was nice to be forced into a welcome state of concentrating on something I liked. 

I started to get hungry and went back to Matt’s diner again, sitting in a corner, thinking about the whole situation.  I could back off and then things wouldn’t get worse.  But then there were a lot of people who didn’t want me to cave in.  I knew that.  I just had to make sure that it would be over quickly.  I needed to talk with the shrink about it, but I didn’t think there was any better way out of this mess.  It was the only way, as far as I could see.  Nothing else would solve this problem. 

I called the shrink and he said he’d look into it with a friend and that he’d make time all Wednesday afternoon for me to see him. 

Happy that that was arranged and that he was willing to help, I left Matt’s and went back to the park.  I wanted to do a bit more sketching and then go back to see Francis.  While concentrating on the scene in front of me, my mind wandered off.  Francis was undoubtedly the best thing that had ever happened in my life.  He was my anchor, my center … the person who’d kept me going so far.  At the same time, I could feel overwhelming love coursing through my body.  What was I doing here alone when I could be with him, I thought.  I completed the sketch quickly and walked home.  A note on the table told me Francis and his mom had gone to a movie and would be back around 5 p. m.  An hour, I thought.  I went upstairs, had a shower, dressed, and tidied our room.  I did some stuff in the kitchen and, around 4.45, I called Francis.  They should be on their way home by now, so it was safe to call. 

“Hi, love,” I said when he answered the phone. 

“You OK, Nick?” 

“Yes, I am.  Can you pass me along to your mom for a moment?”

“Oh, sure!”  He sounded a bit confused by my question. 

I told his mom what I wanted and she agreed, no problem.  I finished the things I was doing and, when I heard the car, I walked into the hall. 

I saw through the window that Francis was looking a bit bewildered as he left his mom in the car and walked alone to the door. 

Just as he tried to open the door, I pulled it back. 

“What?” he said … but he stood there with his mouth left open when he saw me. 

“Good gracious, Nick!” 

I saw his eyes rake up and down my body.  I’d made just the impression I wanted. 

“Come here, Francis,” I said.  I pulled him closer and kissed him hard, passionately. 

“Wow!  Good thing you finally ended the kiss …I needed some air!” he said as I let go of him.  When I’d initiated the kiss, he thought it’d just be a welcome home … but I had other ideas.

I took his hand and guided him to the couch.  I had to push him down, or else he’d have remained standing there, just looking at me. 

I got us the glasses of champagne that I’d poured just before he’d arrived. 

“To us!” I said, handing him the glass. 

He smiled now and took a sip. 

“Where did you find this, Nick?”

“Oh, with the rest.  It seems your mom has a good supply of everything.” 

His gaze now went to the table behind the couch, which was full of snacks I’d prepared in the kitchen. 

“So that means you had a good day then, Nick?” 

“Yes!  I’m sorry I needed time to think, Francis.” 

“I thought it was something like that.” 

“But not about us.  I’ve never been more sure about anything.” 

This time it was Francis who started a passionate kiss. 

“So, are you hungry?” I asked him. 

“Yes!  What do you think, as long as you’re dressed like that?”

“Not that kind of hungry!” I said.  “Food wise.” 

“Oh, well, food can wait, can’t it?”

“Definitely not, Francis … some of them are warm.” 

“Oh, you don’t want them to cool down, but you’re OK if I cool down?”

I laughed at that remark.  “No, silly … but I know I can warm you up in seconds!”

“Damn!  Let’s get some food … then we can have what I want.” 

For the next 30 minutes, we enjoyed the food … feeding each other a taste of the different snacks.  I’m sure that not one of them landed between our lips through our own hands … more than once, it was shared or followed by an exchange of small kisses. 

“I found it very strange when you wanted mom on the phone and wondered what had happened … but now I can see what you were up to.” 

“Yea, I thought that, just like dad, we needed some time alone … special time … so I dressed up and put something nice together.” 

“Dressed up?  That looks more like dressed down!  That shirt and those nipples coming through them are just driving me crazy, Nick.  And I saw that little Nicky was happy, too, earlier on.” 

“Yea … well, I just wanted to make sure that you know I’ll always be there for you, Francis.” 

“Come here,” he said and he kissed me again. 

I got up to refill the glasses.  The bottle would be finished by the end of the evening, I was sure of that.  On the way back, I walked past the CD player and turned it on.  Some soft music filled the room.  I set the glasses on the table and held my hand out. 

“May I have this dance?” I asked with mock formality. 

He smiled and got up.  Slowly we moved to the middle of the room where there was the most space to move around. 

Close together now, we danced.  I could feel his body heat through my clothes … they were thin and, as he’d said, left very little to the imagination.  Dancing, snuggling and making sure that we touched everywhere, we danced … sometimes kissing … sometimes just looking into each other’s eyes. 

“Let’s go upstairs,” he whispered in my ear. 

“Hmmm, no … not yet,” I whispered back.  I looked at him, let his warm body go and turned around.  Taking him by the hand, I led him to the bathroom.  I slowly opened the door. 

“Nice,” he said.  His voice quivered with emotion.  I knew he’d loved what I’d done so far. 

“Now what?” he asked. 

“Well, it seems to me that you’re a bit overdressed for what I had planned next.” 

“You think so?” he said with a smile. 

I got close to him and roughly started to unbutton his shirt, tearing off one or two buttons in the process.  His pants quickly followed.  I looked for one moment, enjoying the full view of him in his dark red briefs, tight around his waist.  Then, with one move, I slipped my hands to the bottom and pulled them down.  His dick sprung out, as it was happy to be freed out of its concealment. 

He hadn’t moved when I stepped back.  Not waiting for him, I stepped with one foot over the edge and put it into the bath.  Just the right temperature, I thought. 

“Hey!  Don’t move … now you’re the one overdressed.” 

“No, I’m not!  I can bathe dressed like this!”  I moved my other foot into the bath and, without waiting, I sat down.  I knew that the white briefs I was wearing would become transparent and the t-shirt would probably do the same. 

“Oh, is that what you wanted?”  He jumped into the bath right beside me.  He sat down in front of me, resting his head at my chest.  His arms were caressing my legs.  My dick was sticking up his back, rubbing against it from time to time.

“Little Nicky needs to be freed of his confinement!” Francis said.  He moved out of his comfortable position and turned around.  He slowly started to rub my dick through the shorts.  It felt strange … exciting … being rubbed through the material and the water. 

It didn’t take long before he moved upwards and slid his hands underneath my shirt.  Edging closer, he took my head in his hands and brought it up to his face to kiss me. 

We made love in the bath … as far as that possible.  It went just as I’d wanted … as this was a night for Francis. 

“Come on … let’s get out,” I said when I felt him shiver a few times. 

I got a towel and, rubbing it over Francis, I slowly started to dry off the drops of water that made his skin glisten.  I could have licked them but that would come later, I thought. 

Kissing, we moved towards the door and then up the stairs.  Don’t ask me how but we were able to do that.  The bedroom was lit up with candles.  Another big smile came to his face as we moved towards the bed. 

“You’ve planned all this, haven’t you, Nick?” 

“Shush!” I said. 

I pushed him onto the bed.  Lying on his back, I could see he was making himself comfortable.  Smiling a little, I moved beside him, my head just on his stomach.  I started to feel him up … first his legs … then, slowly, teasingly … leaving his dick alone … going towards his nipples.  While I was playing with them, I could feel his dick jumping up against my shoulder.  I moved upwards a bit … I must have stroked his dick with my body as he moaned quite loudly.  Now level with his nipples, I took them in turn into my mouth … sucking softly on them … licking them with my lips … feeling them getting hard.  I used my lips to lick around them … taking up my own salvia as I sucked them. 

Louder and louder he moaned.  He was getting closer, I thought, so slowly I moved downwards again. 

“Careful, Nick, or I’ll come,” he whispered through his heavy breathing. 

I looked at his dick, not touching it just sniffing his aroma … so Francis … so full of his musk … so wonderful.  He pushed his hips up.  I knew what he wanted, but instead I just blew some cool air over it. 

“Cruel, Nick,” he said with lots of love in his voice. 

I smiled as I moved even further, towards his feet.  I started to lick the inside of his calves.  When I reached his feet I motioned for him to turn over.  Now on his belly, I made my way back up, licking his legs … enjoying the knees … and then his muscular upper legs … leading towards that glorious bubble butt.  I just looked before I slowly started to lick each globe … slowly … teasingly … then moving up to his back.  When I reached his shoulders, I knew I needed to rest and let my weight slowly come down on top of him.  Now resting myself on him, my dick … well, he was happy just lying like a sausage, in between his buttocks. 

“Oh, god!” he moaned now. 

“No, just me … Nick,” I whispered into his ear. 

I could feel him smile at that comment … but I didn’t leave him a lot of time to control himself as I moved slowly lower again.  Now back at his buttocks, I slowly moved down the crack.  With one knee pushing his legs open a bit and his ass and the back of his balls came into view.  I moved lower quickly, keeping my tongue in touch with his skin until I reached his balls.  Now not able to control myself any more, I put them in my mouth, just pulling them a bit, which led to more loud moans from Francis. 

OK … it’s time to go for it, I thought, and I went back up and started to swirl my tongue over his ass.  He moaned even louder now and I thought it was good that his mom wasn’t at home.  I took his buttocks in my hands and got in a bit deeper … now opening his sweet rosebud lips a bit … slowly licking up his ass nectar, nice and clean after the bath …but still tasting of Francis. 

More moans from Francis with, from time to time, an “Oh, Nick!” 

I let my lips rest for a moment and moved my right hand closer to his hole.  I rubbed it gently,  as if I were about to tickle him. 

“Oh, yea, Nick … please, make love to me.” 

I knew what I wanted and it seemed Francis was ready for it.  I got up a bit and slipped on a condom that was beside me. 

“Don’t stop,” he said.  Then he looked back to me. 

“Oh, you’ve got your gun ready!” he said, smiling. 

Then a worried look appeared on his face. “You have some lube, too?”

“I’m prepared,” I said and got the lube that was beside the bed. 

I opened it and put some on my finger.  He turned his head again.  He jumped a bit when I touched his ass the first time.  I slowly started to rub the lube into his ass, opening it very carefully. 

“Oh, yea … come on … deeper,” he whispered between moans. 

I used another finger and opened him up a bit more.  In the meantime my dick had been more than ready … ready to feel his warm ass around it.  I opened his hole more and more.  I could feel him start to relax.  Again I moved upwards when I reached his shoulder.  I rested my weight upon him.  Now my dick was in between his legs, ready to move forward.  With my mouth close to his ear, I whispered, “I love you, Francis.”  I could feel him start to shiver, not from cold this time but from anticipation. 

I needed my hand to move my cock up towards the hole and then, slowly, I pushed a bit.  When he moaned, I moved a bit further in, but there was lots of resistance.  So I pushed in a bit more … just adding more and more strength behind it, slowly.  Then, with a loud moan from Francis, suddenly I felt my dick slide in.  His resistance broken, I’d passed the portal. 

I waited before I moved in deeper.  I wanted him to get used to it before sliding in deeper. 

“Come on, Nick … make love to me … push it in.” 

Yea, he was ready … so I slowly slid in further.  My god, what a feeling!  So tight … so close … I was so close to him … the one I loved … the one who meant everything to me … the last person I’d ever wanted to hurt.  “Oh, Francis!” I almost yelled and pushed myself in further.  I waited again and then, when his breathing became steady again, I pushed again, slowly, until I heard him gasp.  “Oh, god, Nick!” Francis screamed.  I wasn’t sure if he screamed because I’d hit his prostate … I’d read about that … or because he’d felt those same sensations I’d felt when my balls had hit his ass. 

Again I waited, not wanting to leave him … keeping my dick enveloped in his warm ass.  Until … oh, no … this time it was my turn to scream as he manipulated his ass muscles and squeezed my dick at the base.  

“Come on, Nick … fuck me … give it to me.”  This was said, no longer a whisper between moans, but a straightforward request with an emotion-laden voice.

Slowly, almost hesitantly, I now started to slide out again.  I let out more screams, as this was pure pleasure.  But I wanted to slip back in … after the heat of his ass, it seemed cold out there … so I speeded up a bit and, just before I felt the head of my cock popping out … I changed the rhythm and pushed back in. 

“Oh, yea … more, Nick … more.” 

Encouraged, I slowly started to get into a rhythm, pushing it in slowly and retracting it quickly.  My body told me to do it the other way but I didn’t want to hurt Francis.  This was hot … it was very hot, and sweat dripped from my body onto his, making his back and buttocks glisten, his skin shining. 

I knew I couldn’t take much more as I was getting close.  I wanted to feel more skin so I decided I’d slide in a bit harder.  As I did that I also went down on him.  Francis must have felt that as he turned his head a bit.  I moved closer to him, breathing hard, reaching for his ear.  I kissed it… licked it … and, then, just when I moved even higher to be able to take his earlobe into my mouth, I pushed my cock in as far as I could and I definitely felt that I’d hit something this time.  He screamed as he contracted his ass muscles again.  That was too much for me as I could feel my balls start to contract and pushed out shots and shots of my cum into my dick, filling the condom. 

I lost control of my knees and again I put my whole weight on him, resting my head on his neck. 

“That was incredible, Nick,” he whispered.  It seems that he came to his senses a bit quicker than I did. 

“I love you, Francis,” I repeated again. 

“Thanks, Nick!  It was even better than I’d imagined.” 

A bit relieved that my plan had worked, I now got up and slowly started to slip out of his ass.  I took off the condom and put it out in the bin. 

“We’d better empty that tomorrow morning,” he said, smiling. 

“You were amazing, Francis!  I never knew it could feel like that.” 

“Oh, you did all the work.  I just laid there and enjoyed it.” 

“Damn!  You came!” I though suddenly as I’d only thought of my own pleasure. 

“Oh, yea.  Why do you think that I contracted those ass muscles again?” 

“Oh!” I said, too surprised that my plan had worked to say a lot. 

He turned around.  “Come here,” he said, and gently kissed me on the cheek.  I rested my head on his chest; he folded his arms around me. 

It was light when I woke up again.  I turned around and saw Francis looking at me. 

“You OK?” I asked him. 

“Yea!  Thanks, Nick … that was wonderful.”  He moved forward and kissed me. 

“Good, that was what I wanted,” I said, smiling. 

Francis walked with a bit of difficulty … but, by the time that we’d gotten downstairs, he was able to not show how his ass was feeling.  It was funny to watch, though. 

Dad came to pick us up around midday and I could see he’d had a hard weekend so far. 

We didn’t talk a lot, at least not until we reached the house, again through the back garden.  Then we talked about what had happened but so far dad couldn’t shine a lot more light on the situation.  He was allowed to appeal the decision about his job … but he wanted to find out first from other teachers if that would make any difference.  He didn’t understand why so many of his colleagues were avoiding him. 

I didn’t have a very good night.  The memories of the night before helped a lot but, still, we didn’t know what would happen on Monday.  Would the atmosphere change when the students knew what had happened, or …. 

At first sight everything looked the same that Monday morning.  The students were still friendly to us, more or less.  The teachers, though, were a different story.  I felt ignored by most of them and, if I asked a question, the answer was short and sometimes even rude. 

Damn!  This was going totally in the wrong direction.

chapter 67

chapter 65

 

The weekend went by without too much happening.   We didn’t go out that much.  I used the time to catch up on my homework and had some fun with Francis.  Oh, yea … we definitely had fun!  I don’t need to write it all down, do I?  There was just one thing that I didn’t doubt … and that was Francis.  Slowly we started to get back to where we’d been in the beginning … or even better … as my love for him only got stronger. 

During Sunday evening, I tried to call Steve as I wanted to know what he was going to do about the newspaper.  He either printed the story on Friday or not. 

As you can imagine, I didn’t sleep very well up until Monday, as I wasn’t sure what would happen.  But we talked about it and decided we wouldn’t capitulate … as then it might look as if we were in the wrong and they were right.  So it was kind of scary walking up towards the front door of the school that Monday morning. 

As we approached the front door, we noticed that Andrew and Peter were waiting for us. 

“Good to see you, Nick … Francis,” Andrew said. 

“Well, we’re not about to go and buckle in … we’re here to stand up to whatever people are saying,” Francis said. 

“Oh, I think you might be surprised!” Peter said. 

I looked at him and said, “Why?” 

“Well, let’s just say that we’ve done quite a bit of talking since last Friday and the mood in there is not as negative as you might expect after all those bits and pieces published in the newspaper.” 

“Oh, that sounds good.” 

“So, you’re OK with us being there along side you, Nick?” Andrew asked softly.  I could tell that he was hoping for a positive answer but he wasn’t sure he’d get it. 

“Here is fine, Andrew.  I’m OK with you supporting us but I’m still far from OK with what happened.  I need time to deal with that.” 

“Oh, OK,” he answered, blushing a bit. 

“So, we can carry on then?” Peter asked.

“Carry on with what?” Francis asked, not knowing where he was going. 

“Hmmn, we haven’t had a chance to tell you yet but, after the article Steve wrote last week, we’ve started to talk with people.  We’re founding a Straight/Gay Alliance as a club at school.  We have the full support of the extracurricular teacher for the idea.” 

“Are you OK with that, Nick?” Francis asked.  He looked at me, worried. 

“Why not?  You’re the ones who’ll have to start it up, as long, as you can’t expect us to join for a while.  I don’t think I could handle people asking questions, to be honest.” 

“Oh, OK!  Well, just as long as you know, we already have 25 students participating.” 

“Go for it!  It’s never a bad thing to bring people together.  Does that mean that you’re coming out, too?  Peter … Andrew?”  I asked the most obvious question at this point. 

I saw them look at each other before Andrew answered: “We might … we’re not going to hide … so if the subject comes up, we’ll tell the truth.” 

“Good,” I said.  That admission helped me to believe them … that they were going in the right direction. 

We walked into the school and it seemed as if nothing had changed.  People went on with their lives.  We went through first hour without a problem and second hour was good, too.  Then the break … time to head back to the locker, change books and go for a drink. 

When we entered the central hall, there were a lot of people there to one side. 

“What’s going on, Francis?” I asked. 

“I don’t know.  There are no elections or anything, so I’m not sure why people are standing around like that.”  Slowly they started to move along and others took their place. 

“Hmmm … they’ve got something in their hands, Francis.” 

When one of the students walked by, he looked at me and smiled. 

What was going on, I wondered as I watched him pass by. 

“Hey, you guys!”  I looked around and saw Jordan approaching. 

“Hey, you!”  Francis said. 

“Steve’s got guts, you have to admit,” Jordan said as he handed us a copy of the paper. 

“Especially read the last bit.  He must have added that part after they forbade him to publish it in the school newspaper.  I don’t think it matters much, since it’s all over school by now anyway.” 

Together we read the last part where Steve pretty much said that this was still America where everyone had the right to express his opinion and tell the truth.  It was incredible stuff.  More and more students were coming to pick up papers with the bit that Steve had been forced to leave out of the school newspaper. 

I smiled at Francis.  “Well, we know now that Steve won’t give in.” 

“Yea … but how high a price will he pay for it?  That’s the question.” 

So far no one had come to stop him from handing out the papers.  Oh!  I was wrong.  I saw one of the director’s assistants closing in.  I’m not sure what happened but, somehow, the crowd dispersed very fast, almost as if it had been organized.  I could see that Steve was still standing there, talking to one of his friends as the assistant approached.  

We didn’t get closer to him, but we made sure we could see what was happening.  It appeared he asked Steve to go with him, probably to see the director.  I saw Steve’s friend follow them. 

“Let’s get those drinks,” Francis said. 

“You don’t want to see what’s going to happen?” 

“No, we’ll find out later.  Let’s make sure no one thinks we’re in on this, too.” 

“Oh, I don’t think you have to be afraid of that, Nick,” Jordan said.  “I think that the whole school … well, maybe not the whole school, but an awful lot … are behind you guys.  They’re not giving you a fair shake and it looks like the students won’t go along with that.  I heard that last Friday Brad and a few others had come triumphantly to school but, at lunch, the smiles were wiped off their faces when quite a number of their old friends refused to join them for lunch.” 

“Wow!” 

“Yea!  You can say that again … and Steve’s terrific piece of journalism will only put more oil on the fire.” 

Not a lot happened in the next hours.  We received some encouragement from the way some of the students responded when we walked passed … big smiles and sometimes a supportative word.  In the hour before lunch I saw two or three guys in the back of the room looking more or less all the time at us.  I’m not sure why, but they didn’t smile.  Their look was something complete different. 

At lunch we were joined by Andrew, Peter and the members of the gymnastics team.  I think that more would have joined us if we’d sat at a bigger table.  Half way through lunch, Jordan came towards us and gave his brother a knock on the head as he said, “Yea, we got them, guys.” 

“What?  Who?” Francis asked. 

The others started to smile big time. 

“Come on!  You’re holding back something from us, Jordan.  Who did you fight with?” 

“Oh, no fight!”   And he stopped talking. 

“Come on … let us in on the secret,” as the others were now all looking at us. 

“You want to know what happened to Steve this morning?” he said. 

“Yea, has he been suspended?”

“No, why would he?  He didn’t do anything wrong, did he?” Jordan said with a smile.  “He was just standing around in the hallway.”

“No, handing out his article,” Francis said. 

The others started to laugh now.

“Did you saw any of them in Steve’s hand this morning?” 

Now that he mentioned it … Steve hadn’t.  He‘d been there, just talking with nothing in his hands that morning.

“Steve simply asked, what leaflet?”

“How was that possible? I saw people walking around with copies even after he’d been taken to the director.” 

“Yea, OK … we organized it.  Steve started to hand them out at first but the moment the assistant came to get him, a few of us got them all and kept spreading them around.  As Steve didn’t have a single copy on him, he could act innocent.  It seems they didn’t buy it, but they had no proof and had to let him go.  In the meantime the thing is still being handed around.  I don’t know what might have happened if they’d suspended Steve or given him a detention.” 

“Well, they still know that he wrote the article, Jordan.  That won’t change a thing.” 

“It just might.  It gives the director a way out: he could just do nothing.” 

“You think he will?” 

“I don’t know, Nick.  All we can do is wait but so far, so good.” 

It seems our friends were really looking out for us and for Steve, too.  The rest of the day went by without too much happening.  We had lots of fun during lunch and the rest of the day went by quickly, too.  We entered the house through the back door again.  Reporters were still camping outside. 

We learned that dad had been on the phone most of the day.  He found out that the meeting of the teacher/parent association was going to be on the Thursday evening, after the trial day. 

Tuesday went by and Wednesday as well.  My dad had been in contact with most of the teachers on the association board.  He found out he wasn’t allowed to speak that evening, not even on his own defence.  Normally he could, but it seems the parents were rigid on this question and only wanted to hear from objective witnesses. 

All in all it didn’t look good.  We heard that students who’d wanted to speak, too, were all turned down … or, at least the ones we knew had been told not to come.  The meeting would be held behind close doors because of its subject.  Now it had happened before that accusations against a teacher had been discussed behind closed doors but, somehow, this time the students weren’t happy about it.  Everywhere we saw people talking in small groups on the Wednesday afternoon.  The rumors had begun to build during the last two classes. 

We went home as soon as we could.  Most of the students left us alone.  We hadn’t seen Jordan or Steve around.  I also wanted to prepare a bit for the next day.  I’d be doing the first bit of my testimony, the start of it all.  The judge had agreed to do it in two steps … this week would cover everything up to the last evening and then the events at the hotel.  That was something I was definitely not up to yet.  I’d have another meeting with the shrink on Friday and probably again on the day before that second day of testimony.

We spend the Wednesday evening together.  Dad had been silent coming home and had gone to his room quite early.  David was still staying at Kathy’s. 

Francis was lying on his side, watching me read.  I tried to continue without paying attention to him but, when he seductively started to lick his lips, I was lost. 

“Do you want anything, Francis?” I asked as I put the book down beside me. 

“Hmmm, I don’t know,” he answered with a smile. 

“Come on!  I know that look.” 

“Oh, do you?  Well, I was just enjoying the view.” 

I looked into his eyes and I felt my love for him overwhelm me.  I knew that if he’d ask me the impossible at that moment, I’d do it. 

“Oh, so I can read on?” I said, taking my book back in my hands. 

He didn’t answer me but just smiled. 

I read a bit further on but I could feel him still watching me.  I saw his right hand rubbing his left nipple.  Now he was not only licking his lips but also playing with his nipple through his shirt. 

“Damn, Francis!  What do you want?”

This time he didn’t answer but, instead of watching my face, his gaze had gone down to my crotch.  Again I saw him lick … well, more like smacked … his lips. 

My body didn’t take long to respond as I felt my dick start to harden.  Not slowly … no, I think it was hard within one or two heartbeats. 

He looked back up and, when our eyes met, I felt electricity flowing between us.  Our eyes where locked but I felt where his hands had moved.  They were now slowly but demanding caressing my body … moving under my t-shirt towards my nipples.  He moved slowly down, getting one leg over mine.  Sitting on my legs, he moved downwards a bit more.  Eagerly my dick started to throb.  My briefs were stretched to the limit.  I’m sure precum was wetting them. 

He moved and touched my feet with his ass.  His hands had traveled slowly down my body, teasing me as I waited for him to touch me.  He lowered his head, still looking at me.  He got closer and closer.  Teasing, slowly, he got there.  He gave me a smile and then his eyes moved from mine towards my dick.  I could see that he had his mouth open; drool was dripping out of it, dripping on my dick, mixing his juices with mine. 

I could feel the warmth of his breath though the cotton of my briefs.  It got warmer and warmer and then I could feel his lips around my dick.  I let out a loud groan.  I now fixed on my emotions … not concentrating any more on what he was doing … just letting it happen. 

He took me in his mouth as far as he could, then I felt him move my briefs down my legs.  I let out more groans.  I didn’t want to cum yet, but I was getting close … my warm flesh against his lips and then into his mouth, sliding slowly towards his throat.  I could feel him take another deep breath and then he went down even further.  Again I could feel my cockhead touch flesh … his throat, I thought.  Wow!  He’d never done that before!  He let it go again.  I opened my eyes and this time I saw him take a deep breath again and, this time, he went down on it even quicker.  Again I could feel my dick enveloped in warmth.  That was when I lost it.  Without thinking I came.  I’m not sure when it came but it felt like this orgasm started in my head and then moved through my body, contracting in my balls and shooting out with record speed out my dick.  As I came, I let out an incredible scream.  I pushed Francis’s head down on my dick.  This was incredible!  But when I felt him press against my hand, I let go of him.  He came off my dick quickly.  I saw him swallow, but more and more cum was spurting out of my dick, now covering his nose, mouth and forehead. 

Slowly I started to come down.  I saw that he was doing the same.  I looked at him.  He was still swallowing a bit.  He looked up.  I could feel he wanted to say something so I took his head again in my hands and brought him closer to me.  I kissed him, tasting my cum on his lips and mouth.  It was wonderful!  I didn’t want to let go of him.  He was amazing!  How could I ever doubt him?  He loved me and I loved him. 

When I let go of his mouth, he looked at me and said, “Wow!  Where did all that come from?” 

I blushed.  He was right; it was my biggest orgasm ever, I think and, at the moment, I thought it’d be the best ever, too … but I knew that I’d thought that before. 

“I love you, Francis,” I said. 

He didn’t say anything but just smiled.  He laid his head on my chest … satisfied … feeling safe … I could feel that.  We must have fallen asleep like that as it was dark when I woke up.  Francis was still lying on my chest.  At that moment I felt very good and didn’t want the next day to start. 

That Thursday was a long day.  My testimony went well until the point when the lawyer representing Mike and the doctors started to question me.  They kept on and on that I’d wanted it and that I’d loved it, that I’d come back for more and so on.  It was difficult … question after question.  I denied it all but I could feel myself start to crumble.  I didn’t want to, but my god!  He started to play on my emotions more and more and it was a good thing that the judge intervened more and more and didn’t allow them to go on as his questions were more like statements and not really questions. 

We left the courtroom as fast as we could.  We didn’t go home as we knew there’d be more reporters waiting for us and probably keeping a close eye on where we were going and how we got into the house as well by now. 

We spent the evening with Francis’s mother who’d kept out of sight so as not to confuse the situation even more.  But she’d kept in touch with us on a daily basis.  We spend the rest of the evening with her, talking about what had happened, although I didn’t say much.  My dad got more and more quiet during the evening.  I knew what he was thinking about.  The meeting must be going on at that very moment … it might even be finished.   I knew he had an appointment on the Friday with the director, not at the school though. 

We ended up sleeping there, as we didn’t feel up to the drive back.  I had an appointment with the shrink first thing and my dad would bring me.  Francis stayed with his mom and they’d pick me up again. 

The session with the shrink went OK.  He warned me that the next day of testimony might even be worse, but that I should stick to what I wanted to tell and not answer questions if they were irrelevant. 

Francis’s mom took us out shopping, to a hairdresser, etc.  It seemed as if she wanted to spoil us for the day … which I think, in the end, worked out quite nicely to be honest. 

My mind had turned to my dad several times but, when he called during lunch time, he hadn’t said much and talked with Francis’s mother for quite some time. 

When we returned to her place, she told us to go and sit on the couch. 

“You guys want to spend the weekend with me?” 

“What?” I said.  Then, when I looked at Francis, I realized what I’d blurted out. 

“Well, I didn’t buy you guys these clothes for nothing.” 

“Mom, what is going on?  Why this sudden invitation?” 

I looked at Francis and I saw him studying his mom’s face. 

“I just thought it would be nice to spend some time together.” 

“Yea, that’d be nice,” Francis said, and I nodded in agreement. 

“But there’s more, isn’t there?” 

“No,” she said but she didn’t sound convincing. 

“Come on, mom.  I know that look on your face … when you are trying to hide something.  What is it?” 

“Dad!” I screamed out loud.  “It went badly last night, didn’t it?” 

“I’m sorry, Nick, but as far as I understood it, things didn’t go completely right, no.” 

“Damn!” Francis said. 

“Where is he now?” 

“He wants to spend the weekend with Suzanne and he didn’t want you alone around the house.  He said he needed to take some time to consider the next step.  He didn’t say exactly what had happened but he wanted you to stay here, away from the reporters.”  

“Oh,” I said.  “Now what?” 

But nothing answered that question, as we were all sunk in our own thoughts. 

chapter 66

chapter 64

We slept in that Friday.   During the trial, we’d agreed, we’d only go to school Monday till Wednesday.  Friday would be our day … or, at least, that was what I’d planned. 

 We woke up late and, when we went downstairs for breakfast, we couldn’t find the newspaper.  Well, that was no surprise to me.  I knew my dad was going to try to make sure we were kept from all outside influences, as much as possible. 

 ‘So what do you want to do today, Nick?” Francis asked me. 

 “I have no idea yet … I haven’t thought any further than yesterday.” 

 “You want to go for a bike ride somewhere?”

 “The weather looks good enough, Francis … so, yea, that might be a good idea.” 

 Though it was late October, the weather had warmed during the past few days.  At least the good weather meant that I wouldn’t be trapped indoors with my cell phone or my computer.  Truth was, I didn’t want to be in contact with anyone.  I knew that Alexei had called late Thursday evening, but I hadn’t called him back because I didn’t want to relive the events of Thursday. 

 “So, shower first before we go,” Francis suggested. 

 “Yea … and probably afterwards as well,” I replied with a smile on my face. 

 By the time we got to the bedroom, my dick had started to get a life of its own.  Oh, yea … showering with Francis … hmmm … that would get him going for sure! 

 “Together?” Francis asked with a pleading look in his eyes.

 “Yea … you’re up for that by the looks of it,” I said, looking at the bulge in his tight white briefs. 

 “Oh, and you’re not?” he replied, laughing. 

 “Well, it’s time to do a workout before the shower,” I answered. 

 Francis quickly got close to me; then, he grabbed me.  I could feel a bit of hesitation.  But I threw myself into his arms and he slowly lifted me up. 

 “Hmmm, a strong boyfriend!” I said in a low hiss.  I definitely had started to warm up.  I was wearing black and white boxers, showing a considerable tent. 

 He kissed me while he carried me into the bathroom. 

 “Like you said … this is your Friday, Nick.”  I just smiled; I didn’t want to think of why it was, as I knew thinking would just spoil it all. 

 When we were inside, Francis put me down and closed the door.  

 “OK … I can see that the big guy definitely needs attention,” he said, while he slowly pulled away my boxers. 

 “Yea … but he feels lonely,” I said with a smile and pulled his briefs down. 

 “I love you, Nick,” Francis said as he pulled me into a passionately embrace.  Our dicks joined in as well as I felt his rubbing against mine.  

 Francis reached back into the shower and started it.  I could see him feel the water … he waited a bit before he slowly started to pull me into the shower, not letting me go … now not only embracing me with our bodies and dicks in touch, but also our tongues joined in a passionate sharing of feelings. 

 Slowly he pulled me further into the shower until water started to pour over us. 

 Francis slowly moved his lips down to my chin and neck … gently moving down over my shoulders.  I let out a loud groan when Francis reached the center of my chest. 

 “Go on!” I said.  I waited for it … I waited for him to reach my nipples … to feel the … oh … there he was … his lips teasingly made their way to my left nipple.  I waited in anticipation, but still not ready for the feeling.  I let out another groan when he slowly put his lips around my nipple, starting softly and then slowly putting more pressure on it. 

 “Like that?” I could hear him whisper as he moved towards the other side. 

 I wasn’t able to say a lot as I was swept with feelings of intense pleasure.  I pushed my dick against his thrusting hardness.  It longed for attention. 

 He slowly kept moving downwards now.  Instead of standing up, he let himself sink to his knees.  My hands now moved up from his back to his head, touching his hair, feeling the softness of it.   I needed him, I needed him very much.  I couldn’t resist and I pressed his head downwards.   But he resisted and continued at his own speed to lick his way to my love pole. 

 “Baby, I can’t take much more of this!” I panted.

 Francis looked down towards my now very fully hard and throbbing cock.  Then he moved his eyes towards his face and, in between deep breaths, I smiled at him.  I expected him to take me in his mouth but, suddenly, I felt the warm flesh of his hand around it … not wet and warm as I’d expected … just warm as he quickly covered my dick with his hand.  Slowly he started teasingly to stroke it. 

 I could feel precum making its way out of my dick, slowly but steadily.  That must have been a sign for Francis to notch things up a bit, as I felt a soft lick going over the head of my cock.  I moaned again.

Continuing to swirl his tongue around my cockhead, he slowly took as much as he could into his mouth in one stroke.

 “Oh!  Francis … that’s … oh, man …,” I panted, squeezing my eyes shut.

 My body shuddering involuntarily as Francis continued sucking up and down my shaft.  “Francis … I’m so close …  please, baby …,” I choked out before moaning loudly again.

 Francis kept up his rhythm.   He moved his hand from my dick and started stroking my balls.   His other hand reached up and toyed with one of my nipples.   The sensations were too much for me.  I could feel the pressure built up.  It was going to ….  I took a deep, gasping breath and was absolutely still as I came in Francis’s mouth, grunting with each shot.   He kept sucking until I started softening … then he let go.

 Breathing heavily, I sank to my knees and wrapped my arms around Francis.   “I … I …  umm …,” I panted.

 “Shhhh, not now, Nick.  I know how you feel.”

 I could feel Francis’s dick still hard against my upper leg.  I took my hands and put them around his waist, pushing him up so he would stand up.   Shaking the water out of his eyes, he looked beautiful to me … glistering with water drops on his body … some flowing off it … others just hanging onto it like the one on the tip of his cock. 

 I got close to that single water drop and licked it off.  He bucked his hips slightly towards me.  I knew what he wanted and I slowly took his dick in my mouth, first swirling my tongue around it and then, with a big gulp, I went down on it … sucking it in and then letting it go while keeping my warm, wet lips on his dick until I let them go with a loud plop. 

 It didn’t take Francis very long to go over the edge and shoot into my mouth with a heartfelt groan.    I choked a little at first, then swallowed … making Francis shoot a little more.  I sucked him a bit more until he was soft.  Then I let him go and I felt his hands under my arms, pulling me up until our lips were at the same height.  He got closer and my dick started to get hard again as my lips reached his for a long passionate kiss … tasting still of his cum but now also having the flavour of my own through his mouth. 

 It lasted quite a while before we both realised we really needed to finish and shower. 

 We went out on our bikes.  We rode through the west side of the city and then into the river valley … sometimes along side the water, sometimes through a bit of the woods that bordered the waterway. 

 From time to time I was lost in my own mind, reliving the time we had in the shower but also thinking about next week at school, at the courthouse, and elsewhere.  I had answered Francis’s questions in the beginning but it had become more difficult as time went on, and I realized I had not really been listening. 

 I looked at him and slowly his question came to me.  “You wanna have a picnic down here?” 

 I looked around.   He had found a little area of grass bordered by the river on one side and the trees on the other, the path running a bit further down before disappearing into the trees.  It was a perfect spot, I thought. 

 We had something to eat and lay down on the grass, overlooking the river. 

 “That was great this morning, Nick.  It really makes me feel close to you.” 

 I smiled, not knowing what to say. 

 “You know, there’s something I’ve been wanting to ask you for some time now and this morning I almost did but ….” 

 “You can ask me anything, you know that, Francis.”

 “I know … but I’m still not sure if this is the right time.” 

 “If it’s something that’s bothering you … something on your mind … then, now is the right time, whatever it is.” 

 “Well … we’ve been having quite a bit of fun lately, if you know what I mean.”  He was looking shyly at me, not the self-assured Francis he could be.  I turned on my side and looked at him. 

 “Yea, you wanna do some more?”  I was still in a romantic mood, I could feel that. 

 “Oh!  Horny Nick!  I’d better look out for that,” he said, smiling.  “No, seriously, Nick, I know I probably wouldn’t have normally brought this up.   We probably would have found the right time to do it and it would just have happened.” 

 What on earth was he talking about, I wondered.

 “Well … you know … going a few steps further.” 

 “Oh!”  I said.  I now knew what he meant … he wanted to go further sexually … to fuck.

 “I …,” he went on, then stopped.  He must have seen the confused look on my face. 

 “Yea, I’d like to feel you inside me, Nick … to feel what it’s like when you … well, you know.” 

 I looked at him, at first not quite realizing that he didn’t want to fuck me but that he wanted me to fuck him. 

 “Oh!” I said, not sure what else to say. 

 “Oops … I guess that was the wrong question at the wrong time,” he said. 

 “No, I was just surprised.  We normally don’t talk about it but let’s discuss it now.” 

 “Yea, I know … but this was something that I felt I needed to talk about.  I was afraid you’d take it the wrong way if, in the midst of play, I suddenly brought it up.” 

 “I guess you’re right about that, Francis.  Even now it feels a little odd.”

 He let out a deep breath.  “So, it was OK for me to bring it up?” 

 “Of course, and the answer is, I’d love to.  It might feel strange for me but … still … yea … I think I’d love it.  But we’ll have to see when.” 

 ‘Oh, it’ll have to be at a time we both feel right about it … it can’t be planned … it’ll just have to be spontaneous.” 

 “Good,” I said and leaned forward to kiss him. 

 We played a bit on the grass … nothing too serious … just enjoying each other’s company without thinking about anything else. 

 After a few hours, we started back.  We knew we’d probably just make it home before the others arrived. 

 As we approached the house, we stopped, startled by the sight that unfolded in front of us.  There were several cars and news vans outside our house; some cameramen stood around and several reporters, too.  Damn!  What was going on?   We stopped … we didn’t want to go on.  So far I’d been able to avoid the news cameras, but how could we get inside without running the gauntlet of the media?

 “Damn!” Francis said out loud. 

 “You’re right, Francis.  Now what?”  

 “Well, we’ll never get inside without being seen.  Let’s see if anyone is home.” 

 “OK, but let’s go around the corner.  I don’t want to be seen by accident.” 

 We moved back and Francis dialed our home number.  No one answered.   Then we tried dad’s office number.  

 Some one answered, but it wasn’t my dad.  We were told to hold on.  We were reconnected.  

 “Dad, what’s going on?”

 “What do you mean?” 

 “Why are there camera crews outside the house?  We just got back and can’t get in.”

 “Damn!  Let me think.  Can you go to Kathy’s house for the time being?  We’ll need to sort this out, I just don’t know how yet.” 

 We detoured towards Kathy’s house.  She opened the door when we knocked.  “Come on in, guys.  How are you feeling?” 

 “Hmmm, I think we’ve missed a few things, Kathy.  We haven’t heard any news, so I think you’d better bring us up to speed.” 

 “Well, I’m not sure it’s hit the newspapers down here yet.”

 “But you know what’s happening, don’t you, Kathy?” I pressed a bit. 

 “Yea … but maybe it’d be better if your dad tells you what’s happening.” 

 “OK, let’s give him a ring,” Francis said. 

 I took the phone and called home again. 

 “Dad,” I said when he answered the phone.  “What’s going on?  Earlier you didn’t want to tell me anything … but there must be more going on.” 

 “Yes, I think I owe you an explanation … but please wait till I’m there.  I’m trying to find a way to escape the journalists and get us all back together again.” 

 “OK,” I said. 

 “So, what’s happening?” Francis asked, looking at me. 

 “He’s on his way.” 

 “Oh!”  

 “I just brought the computer online,” Kathy said from behind her desk.  “Maybe there’s more on the Internet.” 

 We walked behind her and looked at the website of one of the local newspapers.  There it was, their lead story.  I read half of it but then couldn’t read any more.  How was it possible that someone would write something like that?   Now I started to see what Steve had said. How could anyone write such vulgar lies?

 I stepped back a bit and clutched the corner of the couch, trying to hold myself upright.  I turned and sat down, looking into nothingness.  I’d expected a lot to happen but that they’d launch a counter-attack like that was almost impossible to consider.  No wonder the journalists had jumped on the story! 

 “Nick … damn!  How could they?”  I looked up and saw that Francis had turned around to look at me.  “Nick, are you OK?” he asked when he saw me sitting down. 

 He came closer and sat beside me. 

 “It’s just a tactic to confuse everyone, Nick.  The truth will come out in the end,” Kathy said. 

 “Oh, do you think that that will be remembered?  You know how things like this go,” Francis answered. 

 “Well, we just have to wait and see what your dad says.  He might know more, especially how school officials have reacted.” 

 “Oh, I can tell you that, Kathy.  The head was in dad’s office on Wednesday and he was definitely not happy … and he certainly wasn’t on our side.” 

 “You think they’d drop him just like that?” 

 “Well, they might … just to be rid of the problem.” 

 We went silent, each of us trying to get the sense of it all and what the consequences would be.  I’d better tell you what was said because, otherwise, all of this won’t make a whole lot of sense.  The doctors and Mike claimed that the school and the coach of the gymnastics team were at fault … that they’d created a situation where power and influence were used on the younger members of the team to make them obedient and submissive … where pupils were even directed to leave their parents’ house (Francis was used as an example).   The school had allowed this exploitation of the young to happen.  The fact that the school permitted the student paper to print stories about my situation became evidence of an unhealthy environment.  Surely a guy would never participate in something like that, and then write about it … unless he was a willing participant?  The school had to be complicit.  The argument was perverse … but it fit enough of the facts to be believable.  With so many little lies and misrepresentations, it almost looked to be true. 

 We waited in silence for my dad to arrive. 

 “I’m sorry, Nick.  I didn’t want to keep this all a secret from you.  In the beginning I thought it wouldn’t be believed … but today it just got completely out of the hand.”

 “OK … as long as you don’t keep anything from us in the future.  Remember, we have to deal with all of this.  If we know what’s being said up front, then we can deal with it.  What if we’d unknowingly bumped into the press today?”  

 “Yea, I know … I’m sorry about that.” 

 “So what is going on, dad?”

 “Well, it’s not that easy to explain … but let’s say that a few parties involved in all of this have forged an alliance and are using the case to forward their own agenda.   You’ll remember that, immediately after the publication of your revelations in the school paper, a number of very conservative parents protested to the head and also to the teacher/parent association against such things being put in the paper.  It seems that, somehow, they’ve been in contact with the defense and they are now working together.  Now the parents are not only protesting about future stories in the school paper as announced by Steve but also against the head for “letting” this all happen with a team of gymnasts … who are all a bunch of … well you know their opinion on the question of your sexuality, I guess.” 

 “Wow!  But the freedom of the school paper is guaranteed … the head can’t interfere with the publication of articles there.” 

 “I know … but it seems that the parents threatened to go to the school board if the head or the parent/teacher association didn’t respond to their demands.  I talked today with the head and representatives of the association and they think it’s best to keep things separate and have a hearing on that issue later … some time next week.” 

 “Oh!  Do you think they have a chance of winning over the board, dad?” 

 “Well, I’m not sure, Nick … but the threat of going directly to the board is not to be taken lightly … and you never know what the board may decide.” 

 “And what about you, coach?” Francis asked. 

 So far I hadn’t seen the consequences for him in this all. 

 “For the time being, I’m on non-active status, so I’m not allowed to come in contact with students until it’s decided if I did anything wrong.” 

 “Damn!  Dad, this isn’t what I wanted to happen to you.”  

 “I know, son … but we’ll stick together and come out of this stronger.” 

 “But dad … you know that it’s the initial accusations that get publicity … not the truth that comes out later.  By then the damage to your reputation is already done by stories like the ones that are being published now.” 

 “No, that’s true … but so far all we can do is see what happens.  The head read Steve’s article and advised him that it’d be better not to print it.  I’m not sure what Steve will do, though.” 

 “Shit!  More people in trouble because of this!” 

 “Don’t blame yourself, Nick.  It’s not your fault and, to be honest, I think Steve did a very good job in exposing the flaws in other reports the way he did.  He knows the correct questions to ask: does this have anything to do with the truth and news or not?”  

 “So, did you manage to get past the reporters at the house, sir?” Francis asked. 

 “Yes, I did.  I went through the bushes at the back of the house into the neighbor’s garden and through his house.  I called him to see if that was OK.  Normally that would be the way back in, too.  You know Mr. Roberts, don’t you?” 

 Oh, did we ever know Mr. Roberts!  We’d had fights in the past over balls ending up in his garden or in his precious flowers. 

 “So we can go back when we want?” 

 ‘Yea, if you guys are ready, we can go.  You might want to stay out of sight for a few days, Kathy.  If David wants, he can spend his nights here.  When it’s safe to come over, we’ll let you know.” 

 “OK.  I’ll talk about it with my parents and let you know.”  

 We left Kathy’s place and went home … well, almost home, that is.  Mr. Roberts wasn’t at his place but dad had gotten a key for the porch door so he could get in and use the garden as a route to get back into our house.  When we finally arrived, David told us that there were still quite a few people around.  The phone had been ringing most of the time and that shitty reporter from the local newspaper had even had the nerve to ring the doorbell, but David hadn’t answered it.

 I went to my room and told Francis I’d do some homework but, as you might expect, there was no way that I could concentrate on anything.  I knew I’d be under a lot of pressure because of this and, being the only person willing to come forward, I’d be the focus pf attention, but I never expected that others … such as Steve and my dad and the school … might suffer, too.  But, then again, they could all handle the pressure and there was nothing I could do now to stop the prosecution of the case.  All we could do is to go with the flow and see where it would end. 

chapter 65