Alex was really impressed with the service Vicar Mark gave. The Easter services Alex was used to were usually a mixture of the story of the resurrection and threats of eternal damnation for those who sinned. When the service was over Sarah again took the boys to talk to Mark.
"Hello boys, Sarah, nice to see you again, what did you think of the service today Alex?"
"It was great, I've never heard the story of the resurrection told like that before. It really was moving."
"I'm glad you liked it, should I expect to see you here again?
"I would like to come here every week if that's possible, Sarah said she wouldn't mind bringing me, but I'd like to know if there's anything I need to do to become a member of the Church?" Sarah and Justin gave them room to allow Alex the chance to talk to Mark alone.
"We don't have any real requirements but I do like to have a chat with the new members to see what their expectations from the Church are. Would you be able to spare some time for me tomorrow? It shouldn't take up too much of your time."
"Sarah and Simon are taking Justin and me to the beach tomorrow, I'm not in school this week so I can come and see you anytime."
"Is Wednesday ok? It shouldn't take no more than an hour."
"What time on Wednesday?"
"What would be best for you? I'm free all day."
"Would three be good? That should give us enough time before Sarah has tea ready."
"Sounds ok with me, are you ok with getting here or do you want me to come and pick you up?"
"I think if the weather is ok, Justin and I should be able to get here on our own."
"Well if the weather is bad, give me a ring and I'll come and pick you up, Sarah should have my number."
"Ok, I will."
"Well it was nice seeing you again, I'll see you on Wednesday, now if you'll excuse me I should talk to a few others." Alex went back to join Sarah, Simon and Justin.
"Hey, I'm ready to go now, thanks for waiting."
"Did your chat with Mark go alright?"
"Yeah, he wants to meet me on Wednesday to chat about my wish to join the Church."
"Will you need a lift?" Sarah asked.
"I thought that if the weather was good, Justin and I could run here, if that was ok with you, of course."
"I'm fine with that but are you sure you want me along?" asked Justin.
"Yeah, I don't think there is anything that Mark will ask that you don't already know."
"Shall we make our way home? I need to get back to start getting dinner ready."
When the four got home, the boys went upstairs to Justin's room, Sarah and Simon went into the kitchen.
"Have you, Rick and Alan worked out how they are going to approach the subject with the boys?"
"Rick has a few ideas he and Alan were going to discuss together. They are going to let the boys know that they can talk to them about anything they need to, how they are going to do that I'm not sure."
"They'll have to be careful, Alex might react badly if they do it wrong."
"I'll make sure they know to take it carefully."
Upstairs the boys were watching more of the Queer as Folk series. Justin was cwtched up to Alex.
"I'm glad Rick and Alan are coming over, you'll like them."
"What are they like? You've said they are cool before but what makes them so cool?"
"They like a lot of the same music as me and are into football too. They've even taken me to a few games. They've been together for nearly fourteen years, they started going out with each other when they were thirteen."
"So if they are as cool as they sound, how come you haven't told them about being gay?"
"I suppose I just never felt ready, and they might have let slip to mom and dad. I'm guessing mom and dad invited them around for you."
"What do you mean, they know something about what I've been going through?"
"I would guess it's so you can meet a couple of gay men who know something about what you've been going through."
"What do you mean they know something about what I've been going through?"
"I'm not sure if Rick or Alan's parents were like yours, I am certain neither of them have cut up, at least not where I've seen, and I've seen a lot, but they do know about being a gay teen."
"I suppose you're right." Alex went quiet while he thought about what Justin had said. They continued watching the telly, enjoying the feeling of being close to each other.
Rick and Alan arrived around half three so they would be able to watch all of the football game that was on, especially as their team, Arsenal, were playing. Rick went up to Justin's room right after saying hello to Sarah and Simon. Rick had always thought of Justin as a little brother and wasn't surprised when Simon told him about his suspicions. When Justin heard someone on the stairs he quickly put some space between him and Alex.
"Hey bro, you decent? Can I come in?" Rick knocked on the door and waited for Justin to answer.
"Yeah Rick, you can come in." When Rick went in he sat on the bed by Justin's feet.
"You must be Alex? I'm Rick." Rick held his hand out to shake Alex's
"Nice to meet you Rick. Justin's told me a little about you."
"All good I hope?" As he said this he threw a playful punch at Justin.
"Yeah, he told me about you and Alan and about how long you've been together. He also said you have taken him to see some football games."
"He didn't tell you about how he's gone camping with us every summer since he was twelve then."
"No, he didn't mention that, but like I said he's only told me a little bit."
"Well the game should be on in a few minutes, you boys coming down to watch it?"
"Yeah we're coming now."
Rick wondered if Justin's answer had been a Freudian slip, he had noticed that the boys seemed to be bulging in their trousers and wondered what he had interrupted.
"Are you into football then Alex?"
"Yeah, I'm a Leeds fan, but I like watching most of the Premiership games."
"Both Alan and myself are Arsenal fans and we've taken Justin to the Emirates a few times."
"Wow, is it as impressive as it looks on the telly?"
"It is, but I still think the Millennium Stadium is one of the best."
"Yeah but that's mostly a rugby ground."
"We've been there when there's been a football game and I think it compares with the best. Come on or we're gonna miss kick off."
All three went down to the living room to watch the game, when they went in only Simon was there. As the game was about to kick off Rick called Alan to let him know. When Alan came into the living room there was a quick introduction between Alan and Alex before he sat down next to Rick, placing his arm around him.
Both Justin and Simon were rubbing it in to Alan and Rick when Arsenal went a goal down. They responded with joy when Van Persie equalised for Arsenal before half time. An animated conversation took place between everyone in the living room during the half time break over what each expected for the rest of the season. Alex was a little reserved during the chat but Justin tried to bring him into it whenever he could. Rick and Alan got another ribbing at the end of the game when Bolton scored the winning goal right at the death.
Alex found that despite the apprehension he had felt before meeting them, Rick and Alan were pretty cool, as well as being hot. When the game was over Rick and Simon went to help Sarah with the dinner leaving Alan to chat a little with the boys.
"Do you go to the same school as Justin, Alex?
"Yeah, but I'm in the year behind."
"Sarah said you all went to church this afternoon, what did you think about it?"
"I enjoyed it, it was much better than the church my parents took me to, there we would all be told about how the gays would burn in hell for their sins. Sarah's church was more about love, acceptance and tolerance of others."
"I know, we go there most of the time ourselves."
At that point Sarah called them to dinner, she had prepared a roast lamb joint, with potatoes, green beans, carrots, peas and cabbage. There was gravy and mint sauce to go with it. Everyone enjoyed the dinner and there was very little left when they were all finished. Simon sent Rick, Alan, Justin and Alex off to chat while he and Sarah dealt with the dishes.
They all went up to Justin's room to chat without the parents listening in, Alex sat on the computer chair leaving the other three to sit on the bed. Alan sat with his back against the headboard and Rick in between his legs. Justin sat on the other side of the bed.
"Alex do you mind us asking a few personal questions? Simon and Sarah have only told us a little about you."
"Why don't you tell me what they've told you and I can fill in the gaps." Alex was getting used to telling his story to people, besides in the little time he had spent with Alan and Rick he felt comfortable with them and it would save on all the questions.
"Let's see, Sarah told us you ended up in hospital on your birthday and your parents threw you out when they learned you were gay, she didn't say why you were in hospital or how your parents found out about you being gay. She did tell me you and Justin were really getting along." Alex thought he saw a hint of a knowing smile when Alan finished.
"I ended up in hospital on my birthday because my hand slipped. You see I've been self harming for a few years."
"Do you mind me asking why you self harmed?" Through his work at a gay teen crisis centre Rick had met a few teens who self harmed because of their sexual orientation and so took over questioning Alex.
"A few years ago I realised that I wasn't like the other boys in school and when I found out what it was called I was horrified. You see I had spent years listening to my father and our vicar preaching about how all gays were doomed to eternity burning in hell. I didn't want to be gay. I wanted to change, to be normal like my parents expected me to be. I thought I could learn to be straight and so I started to hurt myself when I had any gay feelings. It wasn't until I met Sarah, Simon and Justin that I learned being gay was something I couldn't change and that it was ok being that way."
"And how do you feel now?"
"Well I haven't cut up since I met Sarah, which is the longest I have gone since I started, although there have been times when I wanted to." He looked at Justin as he said this, Justin wasn't able to look back at Alex, he still felt really guilty about making Alex feel that way. Both Alan and Rick picked up on the interplay between the two teens.
"Can I ask what stopped you? I'm sorry if I seem to be nosey it's just I know a few guys a bit older than you who have gone through something similar."
"Sarah was one of the reasons, I promised her that if I felt like cutting up I would talk to her about it, but talking with Justin has helped me a lot more."
"Sounds like you and Justin have gotten on well since you met."
"We have a lot of things in common."
"One thing in particular, if I'm not very much mistaken." Rick thought it was time to see if Justin would admit to what Rick and Alan had always suspected. Justin was a little nervous about where this was leading but thought that maybe it wouldn't be so bad to come out to Rick and Alan, after all they had always been honest about things with him, and his parents were cool with Alex.
"If you are talking about what I think you are, then you're right, I am gay as well." Justin hadn't realised there had been a weight on his shoulders until it lifted with his confession.
"I don't want to disappoint you Justin but we've known since we first met you. It's not because you're like a screaming queen because you're not, but we know the little tell tale signs that gave you away." Alan was the first one to notice Justin could be gay.
"If you have known for so long, how come you haven't said anything before?"
"Both of us thought it was best to wait until you were ready to tell us yourself."
"Well if that's the case, why mention it now?"
"A couple of things, firstly Sarah told us Alex had opened up to you about being gay and you have known about Alan and me for some time. We both noticed the look you get in your eyes when you look at Alex; that told us you may be more than friends. But the biggest hint was what your father told us he had seen last night."
Justin knew what was coming next.
"He saw you holding Alex's hand all through the film. He hasn't mentioned anything to either of you because he didn't want to embarrass you and because he thought we'd be able to answer any questions you might have better than he could."
"I'm sorry Alex, we don't want to embarrass you or make you feel uncomfortable, I'm sure with everything that's gone on with you this week your head must be all over place." Alan had noticed how Alex seemed to have withdrawn a little. "We want you to know that although we have only just met you, we would like to get to know you better, especially if you are going to be a big part of Justin's life. We also want you to know that we are here if you need to know something you might feel uncomfortable asking Simon or Sarah. Remember we've been through a lot of what you and Justin will be going through now, and anything you talk to us about will remain between the four of us."
"That's enough of the heavy talk, how about you put a film on Justin?"
"What do you want to watch Rick? I've got a few that might interest you."
"Why don't you decide."
Justin picked up Brokeback Mountain and put it on to play, then sat back on the bed. Justin wanted Alex to sit on the bed close to him, like Rick and Alan were but he guessed Alex wasn't comfortable doing something like that in front of others.
"Rick, Alan, are you two busy tomorrow?"
"Not really, do you have something in mind?"
"Mom and dad are taking us to the beach tomorrow, it would be cool if you could come down as well."
"Sounds like a good idea. We'll talk to Simon and Sarah later, see if they would mind." When the film finished Alan and Rick went downstairs leaving the two boys alone.
"I told you those two were cool didn't I? Though I suppose I should talk to mom and dad and tell them properly."
"I think it would be best, although they obviously know already."
"I know, but I feel like I should tell them."
"So do you want to do it now, or you gonna leave it till tomorrow?"
"I think it's best to do it tomorrow, you wanna watch more Queer as Folk? I missed cwtching up to you earlier." Justin got up from the bed and went to put the DVD on, then went back to the bed.
"I missed cwtching up as well, I just didn't feel comfortable doing it in front of Rick and Alan."
"I thought that was the reason you sat on the computer chair, now come over here, I want to cwtch up to my baby."
"What did you just call me?"
"I called you my baby."
"I thought that's what you said."
"You have a problem with it?"
"Not really I guess."
"It's only meant as a term of endearment."
"I know, and it's ok." Alex moved over to the bed and cwtched up to Justin and settled down watching the telly. They stayed that way until eleven when the DVD had finished and Alex went to his own bed to sleep.
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Thanks to all who have written to me or read this story.