Before they entered the room they’d be sharing for a few weeks, Jerry and Declan looked at each other.
"Toilet first?" asked Declan.
"Yeah, I can get Alex to help if you’d prefer?"
"I’m happy helping. Come on, let’s get that sorted and then we need to chat a little."
"Is something wrong?"
"No, there’re just a couple of things I think you and I should talk about being as we’re going to be sharing a bed."
Jerry and Declan headed to the bathroom and they both emptied their bladders before heading to their bedroom.
"So what did you want to talk about?" asked Jerry.
"Well I am pretty sure you seemed a little nervous this morning when you woke up and I was in bed with you?"
"I was but that wasn’t because it was you, it was just because I went to sleep in bed alone."
"If you remember back to our chat yesterday about sex, I said that guys get erections all the time and have no control over them."
"Yeah I remember, what’s this got to do with us sharing the bed?"
"I’m guessing you didn’t fail to notice that I had an erection when I was cwtched up against you this morning?"
"I felt something sticking into my back but it wasn’t until we went to the toilet that I realised what it was."
"I want to clear something up so that it doesn’t become a big problem between us. I like you Jerry but I’m not attracted to you, I’m not gay or bi and I didn’t want you to think that me having a hard-on in bed with you meant that I wanted to have sex with you."
"I don’t think that idea had crossed my mind this morning, but I guess I would have begun to wonder further down the road if it happened regularly."
"It will; I can’t remember a morning when I haven’t woken up with one since I started puberty. As we’re going to be sharing this bed, did it weird you out waking up with me cwtching up to you? Wait, I know you felt a bit weird, but what I guess I’m asking is would it bother you us cwtching up during the night or would you rather we put a pillow down the middle of the bed to stop it happening?"
"Honesty is the only policy between us right?"
"Well I’m not completely sure whether I’m straight, gay or bi. I’ve talked to Alex about how I’m confused about the feelings I have for Cal but still find girls attractive. Am I attracted to you like I am with the girls? No. Does that mean I can’t cwtch up to you? Friends can cwtch up with each other without it meaning anything sexual right?"
"So I’ll ask you, do we need the pillow down the middle?"
"I guess not. There’s one more thing we need to work out."
"Before the accident, what would you normally wear to bed?"
"Can we stop making this all about me? What would you normally wear in bed?"
"As I’ve grown older I’ve found myself wearing less and less to bed. Until we were in hospital I was wearing just briefs in bed. But like you, I’ve spent the last two days without any underwear on. Whatever we do or don’t wear to bed tonight we both have to be comfortable with what the other person does."
"I’ve enjoyed the freedom wearing just the hospital gown gave to my balls, so would you be comfortable if I went to bed wearing nothing?"
"Let’s talk this out a second. You’ve seen me naked; you’ve had your hands all over me. You’ve seen me with a hard-on and have even felt it. I’ve seen you naked, felt your hard cock press against me. If we went to sleep together naked, would anything happen that hasn’t already happened?"
"No, I don’t think so."
"So naked it is then."
"Ok. Let’s get undressed then and get into bed."
With that Declan started to help Jerry out of his clothes. He didn’t think he should leave Jerry sat on the bed completely naked while he got undressed so he left his briefs on while he folded the clothes and put them in a neat pile on one of the chairs. After that he took his own clothes off and added them to the pile. He put his briefs on the other chair before taking Jerry’s off and adding them to his own.
Declan pulled the sheets back on the bed and helped Jerry get in before he got in himself after switching the light off and pulling the sheets up over them both.
Waking up in the morning Jerry found himself in Declan’s arms again. It felt nice and comforting; he wondered if he’d had a nightmare again or whether Declan had got into that position naturally.
Jerry had been lying there thinking about how things had changed so much in just a little over one weekend when there was a knock on the door.
"Hello, you up?" asked Alex as he stuck his head around the door.
"How did you sleep?"
"Not bad, what time is it?"
"Nearly time for you both to be up and getting ready for school."
"Can you help me; I don’t want to depend on Dec too much?"
"Sure kiddo, do you need a shower or just a wash?"
"I need the bathroom first; my bladder feels like it’s going to burst."
Alex helped Jerry get up and was a little surprised to find him naked. He gave Declan a gentle shake to help wake him up.
"Dec, it’s time to get up."
"Ok," he replied a little groggily.
"Come on kiddo, let’s use Justin’s bathroom so Dec can use this one. We’ll just put these joggers on you for now rather than have you walking around flashing that boner." Jerry blushed. "Oh shit, I’m sorry kiddo, I didn’t mean to embarrass you, I just thought I’d mention it to let you know it didn’t bother me."
"It’s ok Alex, I’m just not used to people seeing me like this, you’re only the third person, not even Cal has seen me hard."
"It’s nothing to be ashamed of Jer, I’ve told you that," said Declan now fully rouased.
"He’s right kiddo, now let’s get these joggers on then we can see about getting you cleaned up and ready for school. Dec there’s towels in the airing cupboard on the landing for you to have a shower if you want."
Alex and Jerry went upstairs to Justin’s bathroom.
"He’s downstairs having breakfast; he suggested using this bathroom for you so Dec could use the one downstairs. So first the toilet."
Jerry stood in front of the toilet while Alex pulled down the joggers and aimed Jerry’s cock at the toilet bowl. After a few seconds Jerry’s bladder let go and he felt relief as the stream flowed out.
When Alex could see Jerry was finished he gave his cock a little shake before pulling the foreskin back over the head and letting it fall back inside the joggers.
"Ok, so what are we going to do about cleaning you up?"
"I didn’t have a shower yesterday but I think I can leave off having one till tonight if that makes things easier?"
"I’ll just pop down and get your sleeves for the plaster and we’ll get you all scrubbed up for school, can’t have you going to school all stinky can we?"
"I don’t stink."
"Well a shower will take care of that."
Alex was laughing as he left Jerry in the bathroom. When he walked into Jerry and Declan’s room it was empty and he could hear the shower going. He quickly found the sleeves and went back upstairs.
"You know I don’t have to have a shower this morning, you look like you’ve already had one and you’re going to get soaked if I shower."
"I know what’s going to happen so stop trying to get out of having a shower. Let’s get these sleeves on you and those joggers off. Do you mind if I ask you something?"
"What do you want to know? Oh wait let me guess you wanna know about me sleeping naked with Dec right?"
"How did you know?"
"Well I saw the look of surprise when I got out of bed and when you said there wasn’t a problem about my boner I guessed the surprise was me being naked."
"So who decided what you’d wear?"
"We had a bit of a chat about a couple of things before we got into bed. Dec was worried that us sharing a bed would lead to a few confused ideas so he explained a couple of things from his perspective so that I didn’t get the wrong idea."
Alex had set the shower going and got the sleeves on and joggers off.
"Ok, you’re going to have to explain that to me, but first get under the water and get yourself nice and wet."
While Jerry was getting wet, Alex got undressed so he could get in the shower with Jerry.
"I was surprised yesterday when I woke up with Dec in bed with me. I think he wanted to explain things so I’d be comfortable sharing the bed with him."
"I can understand that," said Alex as he got into the shower. "Now lean you head back out of the spray so I can wash your hair."
Jerry had been facing the shower when Alex had got in so he took a step back so Alex could shampoo his hair. Jerry found that even knowing it was his brother; he still thought it was great having someone massaging his head.
"He explained that he liked me but he wasn’t attracted to me, he said he didn’t want me to get the wrong idea when we wake up in the morning and he’s got a hard-on. He said he’s had them every morning since he hit puberty."
"I can agree with that, I’ve been the same and I think Justin would agree as well."
"I told him I hadn’t thought about that but I could see how it would begin to niggle me. I also told him that while he was sure he was straight I wasn’t quite sure what I was. I told him I had mixed up feelings for Cal but found girls attractive too."
"Get your head under the water now to wash the shampoo out and make sure you don’t get it in your eyes."
Jerry turned around so he could lean his head back to let the water take care of the shampoo. He kept his eyes shut so no soap got in them. He felt Alex close to him and then Alex’s hands were running through his hair.
"Ok turn around and I’ll wash your back and then we’ll take care of the front. So what did he say when you told him you weren’t so sure about your sexuality?"
"He didn’t say anything, he asked if I’d be ok with us cwtching up in bed and I said that friends can cwtch up without it having to mean something and then he asked about what I normally wore to bed."
"As far as I know, you would normally have your pyjamas on wouldn’t you?"
"I haven’t worn pyjamas to sleep for months now. I was wearing just my pants to bed but Dec mentioned how he’d enjoyed the feeling of not having anything on under the hospital gown and he was right, it did feel good, so we both agreed to try sleeping naked and that’s about all there is to say."
"Turn around now so the water can wash the soap off your back and then step forward so I can soap your front up."
Unlike Declan, Alex had been using a type of sponge to wash Jerry’s body. As he turned around he got his first look at Alex naked for the first time in years. He noticed that Alex was a lot more developed than Declan. He was surprised how Alex’s cock was soft while his was as hard as a rock. Alex began to soap Jerry’s front up and pulled the foreskin back on his dick to clean him properly.
"Ok kiddo, turn around and wash the soap off and then we can get out and dry off."
Alex got out and began to dry off while Jerry let the water take care of the soap. When Jerry moved out of the spray, Alex turned the water off and helped Jerry to get dry.
"So any ideas what’s going to happen in school today?" asked Jerry.
"I know Sarah is going to take the two of us and Dec to the head and explain the changes in circumstances. Hopefully Dec is going to be able to enrol. As for what happens with me? I’d guess I’d be there for a few minutes, just long enough to confirm the change in address and guardian. You’re going to be a different matter. I don’t know if they’re going to manage with you not being able to do anything for yourself. It’s easy enough for one of us to help you around the house but when it comes to school, we’re not going to be around."
"I know Cal is going to be ok with helping me."
"He may well be, but you have to think about something kiddo."
"Well, is Cal going to be ok with helping you in the toilet? What are the other kids going to make of that? You know how nasty kids can be when it comes to names and bullying, will you or Cal be able to handle the abuse that is sure to come at you both if he’s helping you go to the toilet?"
"I don’t know Alex. I know he’d help, but is it fair of me to ask him?"
"I say we let the school decide what’s going to happen. Come on, let’s get you dressed and then you can have some breakfast."
Alex helped Jerry into the joggers after he’d put his own on. They went down to Alex’s bedroom first so he could get dressed in his school things before they went in to Jerry’s.
After Alex had put his briefs on him, Jerry sat down so Alex could put his socks on. With that done, the next thing to go on was his trousers and then the school shirt. Even though both his arms were in plaster, Jerry was still able to wear a shirt for school; his mother had bought a couple of short sleeved shirts for him earlier in the school year.
"Do you want cornflakes, toast or something else?" asked Alex as they were walking down the hall to the kitchen.
"Um... cornflakes sounds ok."
"Morning bud," said Justin.
"Morning, thanks for letting me use your shower."
"It’s no big deal, I’m finished with my breakfast, so do you want me to help you have yours so Alex can eat his the same time?"
"Sure, where’re your parents?"
"Dad’s gone to work already and mom is catching up on some of the news in the living room."
The boys went quiet while they concentrated on breakfast.
"Do you think it’s worth me taking anything with me to school?" asked Jerry.
"If you’re going to be staying at school, you’ll be eating with Alex, Dec and me so you won’t have to worry about food. As for school things, I don’t see the point unless you have homework to turn in."
"You guys don’t have to go out of your way for me, I’m used to being the new guy," said Dec.
"But you’re part of the family now Dec and I don’t see why you should have to eat on your own when we’re there," said Justin.
"You’ll get to meet Cal too; he’s going to want to eat with us, if that’s ok?" asked Jerry.
"Of course it is, we got on well with him the other day when he came by Rick’s," said Alex.
"Are you boys nearly ready to go? I want to get there early so the Head doesn’t have much choice but to see us," said Sarah as she stuck her head into the kitchen.
"Nearly, just need to swill out the dishes," said Alex.
"You wash, I’ll wipe," said Justin.
"I’ll put them away then," replied Dec.
With that done the boys got their school bags and piled into the car.
Sarah was soon pulling the car to a stop outside the school administration building. They all got out and went inside. Justin had decided that as they were so early he’d wait with everyone until he had to be at registration. He found it a little difficult being so close to Alex and not being able to hold his hand. He realised it was going to be a big challenge if they were to keep their relationship a secret at school.
Alex was craving the contact even more. He knew being able to hold Justin’s hand would have given him the support he needed right then but he wanted to protect Justin more.
Jerry hadn’t been to this part of the school before; he was intrigued that so much space was required for what he thought of as just paperwork.
"Hello, can I help you?" asked one of the secretaries.
"Yes, my name is Sarah Western. I don’t have an appointment but I require some time with the Head this morning. A few things have happened over the Easter break that I would like to discuss with her."
"Is there something I could help you with? The Head does have a pretty busy schedule this morning."
"What I need to talk to the Head about is all confidential so you’ll appreciate that you’d not be able to help. I came down early because I anticipated the Head would be busy and I understand that I may need to wait a bit to see her but it is important that I speak with her."
"I’ll see what I can do Mrs Western, now what can I do for you boys?"
"They’re all with me."
The secretary knocked on the door before going into another Head’s office.
Sarah sat down next to Alex and waited. She wasn’t waiting long before the secretary and another woman came out.
"Mrs Western? I’m Miss Stapleton, I’ve been told you have something important to discuss with me?"
"Yes I do."
"I understand what you have to discuss is confidential but can I have some indication as to what it involves?"
"Yes, it involves most of the boys here with me."
"Oh, I see. Do you want the boys to sit in with us when we talk?"
"Yes, I would like to include the boys."
"I see, well my office isn’t big enough for us to do that, would you mind if we went into the conference room?"
"That’s ok with me."
"It’s this way."
"I’m going to head to registration mom; I’ll see you at break Alex," said Justin.
"Ok," replied Alex and Sarah.
Justin headed back out while the others followed Miss Stapleton to the conference room. When they entered there was a large table surrounded by lots of chairs. Alex pulled one out for Jerry to sit in while everyone else chose a seat and sat down.
"So what can I do for you Mrs Western?"
"Firstly, for reasons that the school does not need to know, these three boys are now living with me and my family, so I’ve come to amend the records you currently have for Alex and Jerry Wilshere."
"That’s not difficult if you have the relevant paperwork."
"I have my copy of the papers that gives my husband and me guardianship of the boys."
"That is all we need, if it’s ok I’ll get a copy of those for their files later."
"Why would you need to keep a copy?"
"When there’s a change from parents to guardians we keep a copy so that we cover ourselves, it’s just a legal thing. What else do you need to discuss?"
"Well for a start as you can see Jerry has both his arms in plaster and is unable to do anything for himself, is it the school’s policy to send someone in Jerry’s position home or keep them in school?"
"What year are you in Jerry?"
"I’m in year eight Miss."
"Ok, and how long are the casts to stay on?"
"I believe they need to stay on for the next six weeks," replied Sarah.
"So that takes us to the middle of June. Ok, let me think about how to work that out a little. Was there anything else you wanted to talk about?"
"There was, Declan here, is not a student in this school. As he’s living with us now it would be easier for us if he was able to attend here?"
"It is a strange time to add someone new to the class list but it can be done, what year are you in Declan?"
"I’m year nine Miss."
"Well there goes my first idea of how to help Jerry. Which school were you in before Easter? And what is your surname?"
"My surname is Andrews and I was in Lewis Heights before we broke for Easter."
"Ok, wait here a moment please."
Miss Stapleton got up and left them in the conference room.
"That wasn’t so bad, she doesn’t seem that difficult," said Sarah.
"Wait until you mention bullying," answered Alex.
A few minutes later Miss Stapleton re-entered the room.
"I’ve got my secretary working on a timetable for you Declan. She was able to talk to someone at your last school to find out which sets you were in to make things easier. We’ll get a copy of your school file later."
"Before you left you said that Declan not being in the same year as Jerry made you reconsider your first idea for dealing with Jerry’s problem. What was that idea?" asked Sarah.
"I thought that as Jerry and Declan were living together having Declan go around each class with him would have made sense. But as they’re in different years that’s not possible."
"I don’t mind if that would help you out," said Declan.
"I appreciate that Declan but if you were to do that, you would miss so much of your own year that it would require you to begin year nine again in September."
"Can I be honest with you?"
"Certainly, I prefer honesty."
"I’ve been in the foster system for a long time. As a result of this, I’ve changed schools a few times and as I’m sure you’re aware, Lewis Heights isn’t one of the better schools in Cardiff. Is there any law that says I can’t repeat a year?"
"Not that I’m aware of."
"Ok. Would Jerry be taking exams before the summer to determine what sets he would be in next year?
"Yes, we do that with every year apart from year ten."
"What if I go around with Jerry while his arms are in casts; I can write down his work for him, help him with doors and other things. While we’re at home, Jerry can help me learn the things he’s already done this year and then I can sit the exams the same time as him."
"Why would you want to do that? I can understand that you have not had the best time in school so far, but why would you want to extend your stay by repeating a year?"
"I have only spent a few hours with most of the people in this room. Of everyone, I’ve spent the most time with Jerry and if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here right now in a family where I believe I have the best opportunity to reach as high as I can. I’m not saying I’m able to become a nuclear physicist because I’m living with Sarah and her family, but with their help I can aim higher than a rubbish collector which is where I think I was heading."
"I am not saying a rubbish collector is a bad job but I understand what you’re saying. Having a student request to repeat a year is unusual, but not unheard of. Would you be supportive of Declan’s decision to repeat the year Mrs Western?"
"I think I should inform you that Declan is only with us for what we hope will be a short period."
"Then what will be happening? I don’t see the point in us making long term decisions if Declan is going to be moving on again."
"Declan is only living with us on a temporary basis while the couple he is going to live with gets the approvals required to be foster parents. We have agreed as a family that if the process fails, Declan will stay with us, but for the moment we are working on the premise that the couple will be accepted. Whatever happens, Declan will still fall in this school’s catchment area."
"I see. Well as you are currently Declan’s guardian, I’ll get you to sign the forms required for Declan to repeat year nine in September. If there isn’t anything else, I’ll go and get the forms for you and the boys can head to their lessons. Declan I’ll get my secretary to give you a note for you to take along with you and Jerry so the teachers know what’s going on."
"There was one other thing, but Declan and Jerry don’t need to be here for that, so if you want to get the forms and Declan’s note ready, Alex and I will wait here for you."
Miss Stapleton, Jerry and Declan got up to leave.
"Justin and I will be in the Quad at break, we’ll see you then. Have fun."
The trio left Sarah and Alex alone in the room.
When Miss Stapleton returned she had a folder with her.
"So what else is there I can help you with this morning?" she asked as she sat down.
"Alex told me that he’s been having some problems with bullying."
"I’m not aware of any incident being mentioned. Would you care to tell me who was involved and I’ll see that the appropriate action is taken."
"Would do you define as appropriate action?" Sarah asked.
"Well in terms of bullying, unless it is witnessed by a teacher there is not really much we can do. Even when there is a teacher present we are constrained in what we can do."
"So basically, you’d have the boys or girls in and tell them not to do it again before sending them on their merry way?"
"I wouldn’t put it in quite those terms. We’d make every effort to make sure Alex felt comfortable here, but there is only so much we can do."
"Ok, I don’t see any point in pursuing this any further so I suggest I fill the forms out you need me to and Alex can go to class."
"May I ask why you feel like that?"
"If the worst you can do to a bully is to tell them to behave and not do it again, I don’t see it as a strong enough deterrent I’m afraid."
"What would you say is good enough?"
"I am not in the education business so I don’t know what I would do but you have to agree that just being told not to do something is a poor deterrent?"
"Not really, it seems to work here in this school as we have very few incidents of bullying."
"Miss Stapleton, I’m not going to sit here and argue with you about the state of bullying in your school. I wanted to raise the issue with you to try and help Alex; you have given me your honest assessment of what can be done. So I’d prefer to leave it at that."
"I wish there was more I could do but my hands are tied."
"Then there’re only the forms to fill out then, so I guess Alex can go to class unless you have some need of him?"
"As your first lesson has start, I’d suggest you go to your next lesson. I’ll make sure that your registration teacher knows you are here."
Alex got up and left Sarah and Miss Stapleton alone. Rather than stand outside the classroom he sat in the Quad until the school bell rung.
When the bell went Alex got up and walked to his next lesson.
"What was that all about with Sarah in there?" asked Declan as they walked to their first class.
"I’m not completely sure but I think it’s got something to do with him getting bullied."
"So what lesson are we going to?"
"History, not the most exciting subject."
"I never minded History."
"It’s just around this corner, here we go."
Declan knocked on the door before opening it and going inside with Jerry behind him. He went to the teacher and handed her the note he’d been given to explain who he was and why they were late.
When Declan moved towards the teacher, Jerry got a look at the class. There at the back in his normal seat was Callum. Jerry was horrified to see the bruises on his best friend’s face. He had conflicting emotions, he was eager to talk to Callum to find out what had happened but he was also sad for not being there for him when it had happened.
Jerry moved towards the back of the class to sit down at a desk where Declan could sit next to him, unfortunately this meant that he couldn’t sit next to Callum.
The teacher continued from where Declan and Jerry had interrupted. When the lesson finished, she took Declan to one side.
"I understand from the note you gave me, that you’ll be taking notes for yourself and for Jerry until his casts come off. As you came in late this morning, I can get you a copy of the notes for today’s lesson."
"Thank you. Unless you think Jerry or I will need them before the next lesson, I’ll collect them then."
"Next lesson will be fine."
"Thank you again."
Jerry had gone straight to Callum when the bell went.
"What happened to you?"
"I don’t want to talk about it here, can we do it later? I’d rather talk about what happened with you and who that boy is that came in with you."
"If that’s what you want, but I’m not going to let you off that easy Cal. Ok, what happened with me, let’s see, you know about the crash and me moving in with Alex and Justin. So there’s only Dec to tell you about."
"Is he here to help you cause you can’t write?"
"Yes and no. I met Dec in the hospital and well it’s his story really and I’d feel more comfortable if he told you, is that ok?"
"Come on you two, we’ll be late for the next lesson."
"We’re moving Dec."
The boys left the classroom and headed down the corridor.
"I’m Dec by the way and I’d say you are Cal?"
"Yeah, nice to meet you."
"You look like you’ve been in a spot of bother like me?"
"I think yours looks more painful than mine."
"I don’t know, yours looks worse."
"So Jerry said he met you in hospital, was that because of that?" asked Callum as he pointed to Declan’s face.
"Yeah, it’s a bit of a long story, I’ll tell you about it later."
"So how long are the arms like that for Jer?"
"About six weeks. Dec is going to help me until they come off."
"Don’t you have your own lessons to go to Dec?"
"That’s another long story, but basically I’m going to help Jerry for the next six weeks and then start year nine in September. It will mean I repeat a year."
"Oh. Sorry for being nosey."
"You’re not being nosey Cal. Jerry has told me how close he is to you and I hope you and I can be good friends too, so you’d find out eventually."
"That sounds nice, us being friends that is."
The door opened and they were ushered in for their next lesson. Declan handed the note to the teacher before sitting in between Callum and Jerry.
When the bell went Justin got up off the comfy chair in the sixth form common room and walked over to the Quad to meet the others. As he was in sixth form, he didn’t have as many lessons to go to and the last lesson was one of a few he had free. He’d spent his time catching up on some of the goings on with his classmates over the Easter break.
As he walked into the Quad he saw Alex straight away standing in one corner on his own.
"Hey sexy," he said as he got really close.
"Shhhh, you don’t want people to hear you."
"I know that’s why I waited until I was close enough that others wouldn’t hear. How did the meeting with the Head go?"
"It was a surprise. We knew what would happen when Sarah brought up the bullying problem, but before that, she was really helpful. There wasn’t a problem changing over the next of kin information on our files."
"How did she deal with Jerry and Dec?"
"I’ll let them tell you that, I was surprised by the outcome."
"Have you seen Cal yet?"
"No, I’d bet he comes with Jerry and Dec."
"Now that would be an interesting sight to see."
"Behave, that’s my brother you’re talking about, you perv."
"You’re telling me you haven’t imagined what Dec looks like naked?"
"I don’t need to, I saw him in all his glory this morning."
"And it’s only now you’re telling me?"
"I didn’t get a chance."
"So what’s he look like? Is it nice to look at?"
"He’s told Jerry he’s straight so what it looks like doesn’t matter."
"No, that just means we can’t play with it, it doesn’t mean we can’t imagine what it’s like to play with it."
"Ah, look there they are and it looks like Cal’s with them."
"I see them; it’s a bit difficult not to see Jerry’s arms."
"Oh my God, look at Cal’s face."
"Shit, I wonder what happened to him"
"Hey guys," said Jerry.
"Hey," said Alex and Justin.
"Maybe now you two are here Cal will tell us what happened to his face?" said Jerry.
"It’s no big deal. It happened and I’m still walking around."
"It’s a very big deal if it’s what I think it is," replied Jerry.
"What do you think it was Jer?" asked Alex.
"Looking at the colour of the bruises, I’d say his dad did it a few days ago. I’m right aren’t I?"
"Is he right Cal? Did your dad do this to you?" asked Declan.
"Look guys, we only have a few minutes here before the bell is going to go. Cal, if you want to tell us now then don’t hold back and remember you’re with friends who can help. If you’re not ready then we’ll let the matter drop," said Justin.
Callum didn’t know what do to, he knew how Alex had found Sarah or to be more precise been found by Sarah, and his life along with Jerry’s had taken a turn for the best, but what could she do for him? Both his parents were still alive and unlikely to respond well to interference from Social Services. They’d be more likely to call him a liar if he told the truth about what had happened on Saturday night.
Justin was the first to spot Callum’s eyes filling up.
"Ok, I can see this isn’t the best place for this, I know somewhere for us to go at lunch break where no one will see us or interrupt. It’s a little bit of a walk but we’ll have plenty of time to talk. Can you hold on until then Cal?"
It took a couple of deep breaths and a few blinks of his eyes before Callum was able to get his emotions under check.
"Alex wouldn’t tell me what happened with you two and the Head this morning, do I have to wait until lunchtime to find that out as well?"
"The short story is that I’ll be going around with Jerry for the rest of the year and then I’ll start back in year nine in September with Jerry and Cal."
"So you’re repeating a year?"
"Yeah, I’d already thought about it. Whether I stay with you lot or move in with Rick and Alan, I’m going to find myself in the best position I could to try and do well in school so I asked if it would be possible to repeat the year and then maybe with this being a better school than most of the ones I’ve gone to in the past, I’ll actually learn something."
"I can’t believe the Head went along with that."
"I think she was relieved that I was prepared to go around with Jerry while he’s in the casts. I don’t think she had any idea of how to deal with it. I’m sure she would have worked something out in one way or another for his school work, but I don’t know if she’d thought about the feeding and toilet problems."
"I hadn’t thought of those either," said Callum. "So you have to have someone help you go to the toilet? Man that’s got to be embarrassing."
"It depends who I have helping me. When I was in hospital I was lucky. One of the nurses, Yuri, was just a little older than Justin and Alex so when he helped I could think of him as an older brother. Saturday night when Yuri had gone home the nurse that helped me was a lot older and that made me feel really uncomfortable. Then Sunday Yuri asked if Dec could watch the films that Alex and Justin had brought that you helped choose. I said it was fine and from then on Dec’s been helping me, oh except this morning when Alex helped."
"Wow, I knew it was going to be awkward not being able to use your arms but wow."
"Yeah, um, where are we going to meet lunchtime?"
"We’ll be going off school grounds so we’ll need to meet at the front gates," said Justin.
"I’ve got packed lunch, will that be a problem?" asked Callum.
"Mom thought that as we’re going to have to feed Jerry we’d be better off eating outside school, so she gave me money for the four of us to buy something in a shop I know. They do all sorts of different rolls and sandwiches. Once we’ve bought those we’ll be going somewhere else to eat them so when we do eat, you won’t be any different than the rest of us."
"What about a toilet, does this place you have in mind have a toilet?" asked Jerry.
"Yeah and it’s in a fairly quiet place so there’s no worries there."
The bell rang and the boys went their different ways.
When the bell rang for lunch, Justin walked to the front gates and waited for the others to show up. Callum, Declan and Jerry were together, just a couple of minutes ahead of Alex.
"Hey guys," said Alex.
"Hey," everyone replied.
"So where’s this sandwich shop you mentioned earlier?"
"It’s not far, come on," said Justin.
As the school didn’t have secure lockers to keep their things in, the boys had to carry their bags with them.
A few minutes later Justin was entering the shop he had told them about.
"They can make most sandwiches or rolls you want, so have a look and let me know what you’d like. You can see the drinks they have as well so choose one of those as well."
"I’ll have the plain cheese sandwich and bottle of water please," said Declan.
"Is that because that’s what you want or because they are the cheapest things they do?" asked Justin.
"I suppose the latter."
"Don’t worry about how much things are. Mom gave me twenty quid this morning so split four ways that’s about five pound each. We’re not going to need all of that but you don’t need to go for the cheapest either, and that goes for you two as well."
"I got the message," said Jerry.
"I’ll have the chicken tikka role and orange juice please," said Alex who hadn’t been listening to what Declan and Justin had said.
"I’m glad I’m not going to be kissing you later, I’ll have the BLT with apple juice please Justin," said Jerry.
"Mind your lip you, remember you need help to eat," said Alex.
"Ah it’s alright I’ve got plenty of people for that."
"And who do you think they are?" asked Callum.
"Are you telling me you wouldn’t help me if Alex was busy?"
"Of course I would."
"And Dec has helped me before so I have options."
"I’ll have the same as Jerry please," said Declan.
"Do you have a drink with you Cal?"
"No, I normally get water from the canteen."
"Do you want water now or would you prefer juice or pop?"
"You don’t have to get me anything, I’ll be fine."
"What do you want to drink?"
"I’ll have apple juice please and thanks."
"Ok guys, it’s probably best if you all wait outside while I get these and then we can head off."
When Justin joined the boys outside the shop he was carrying all the rolls and drinks in a carrier bag.
"Ok, I know a spot in the park where we can go and be left alone."
Alex walked by the side of Justin while the other three walked a little behind. As they entered the park Justin took hold of Alex’s hand.
"It’s alright; most kids tend to go to the chip shop on the other side of the park so we won’t be seen."
They walked on a couple of minutes before Justin cut through between two trees.
"Here we go, there’s plenty of room here and as you can see it’s pretty secluded. Not sure why they’ve put a couple of park benches here, but that’s why I like it."
"You’ve known about this place for a while I take it?" asked Alex as he sat down next to Justin.
"I’ve spent a lot of lunchtimes here, on my own I might add. I doubt I’m the only person to have ever found this place, but I’ve never seen anyone else here."
They all sat down and Justin handed out the drinks and rolls and Callum got his sandwiches out of his bag.
"Ok Cal, spill. What happened over the weekend to get you in that shape?" asked Jerry.
"Give the boy a break kiddo, he’s only just sat down," said Alex.
"Sorry Cal, I’m just worried about what’s happened."
"Let’s calm down a minute Jer. Cal, I know you don’t know me so maybe you feel like you can’t talk in front of me. I don’t know what has happened to you. Jerry seems certain it was your father and for obvious reasons I can understand not wanting to get him in trouble. Let me tell you a story and I hope it will help you," said Declan.
"It’s not that I don’t know you Dec, it’s just difficult to talk about."
"I know." Declan took a deep breath and continued, "I am currently on family number six and in a few weeks I’m going to move on to family number seven. I don’t know when my mother started using drugs. All I do know is that I was three when she overdosed. She didn’t die that day, somehow the paramedics were called and got there in time to save her, but Social Services were involved and they took me away from her. I haven’t had any contact with her since that day and I couldn’t even tell you if she’s still alive. I was put into the foster system and I’ve been bouncing around in it ever since."
"You don’t really need to know about most of the families for this story so I’ll just move on to the last one I was with. Susan didn’t care about me; she only cared about the cheque she got for housing me. I don’t know how much she got, but I do know she didn’t spend it all on getting me things. If I told her I needed clothes, it was to the charity shop for the cheapest thing she could find. Anyway, she had a boyfriend who would only come around in the evenings and was never around when Social Services called. He wasn’t too bad when he was sober, but when he was drunk, he liked to use me as a punch bag. Susan was able to get him to back off before he went too far. Well until Saturday that is, she went out to get something and left the two of us in the house alone. When she came back she had to call for an ambulance. I was unconscious and she couldn’t wake me up."
"I was taken to hospital and when I woke up the next morning, Yuri asked me if I’d like to spend some time with another boy who was on the ward. I said yes and he took me in to meet Jerry. Later that morning I told Jerry about what had happened the night before and he told Sarah as soon as she visited him that afternoon. Sarah was able to work some magic and for a few weeks I’m living with Jerry, Justin and Alex while Rick and Alan get approved to be my foster parents."
"Wow, I had no idea. Thank you for telling me that Dec, I guess it was difficult to tell."
"Not in the slightest, you see I’ve been in the foster system for so long that it doesn’t bother me and living with Rick and Alan I think will be one of the best things that has ever happened to me. The fact that I had to spend a couple of nights in hospital for that to happen doesn’t matter because in a few weeks there won’t be any sign that I was in hospital."
"Ok, here goes then, can you let me get this all out in one go rather than bombard me with questions?"
"Sure Cal, if that’s easier for you," said Jerry.
"You know I went to that meeting on Saturday right? Well before we went dad told me that he wanted to talk to me after the meeting. He didn’t say if I was in trouble or what it was about. Well at the meeting they decided on a successor to Vicar Stephens, they chose my dad. When I got home I changed out of my best clothes and did the dishes before I sat down for the talk my father wanted. He asked me about where I’d been that afternoon and I didn’t know what to do, so first I told him I went to the park and that’s when he smacked me around the head. Then I told him about spending the afternoon with Mr Edwards and he smacked me again. I had to admit that I’d spent the afternoon talking with Alex. He wanted to know how I knew where you were and then I got a smack around the head for not telling either my dad or yours about Jerry going to the street party. He didn’t believe me when I told him all we’d done that afternoon was talk so he smacked me around the head again only this time I went crashing into the cupboard and that’s when I lost consciousness."
Callum was in tears as he finished. When he looked up Jerry’s eyes were wet as well.
"What are you crying for Jer? It’s not like you could do anything."
"My best friend is telling me about his father beating him unconscious, how am I supposed to be?"
"Would a hug off Cal help Jerry?" asked Alex knowing it was as much for Cal as his brother.
"Yeah if Cal is ok with it," replied Jerry.
Callum got up and sat down next to Jerry and hugged him.
"Cal I want you to give me permission to tell my mom all of what you’ve just told us. I won’t tell her if you say not to but I think we should get someone involved."
"What’s the point? It’s just my word against my parents. They’ll just tell everyone I fell down the stairs or something and everyone will believe them because as far as anyone is concerned they come across as really religious."
"I think I know of a way to solve that but it will mean telling him about the secret you told Alex on Saturday," said Justin.
"Wait, no you can’t tell them that."
"Think about it Cal, if he’s going to insist that you fell down the stairs, then that’s the only card we have that will get you out of there and into a family that will love and protect you."
"I’m not in on the card Justin is talking about, but as someone who has been in the system, it’s not a step to take lightly. Do you know what you could be putting Cal into if you did play this card? How many decent families would your mother be able to talk into taking a foster kid? I know she got Rick and Alan to agree to it, but do you think she’d be able to do it again?"
"I see what you’re saying Dec, but I believe that Cal has to be removed from his parents for his own safety. What do you think his father is likely to do if he knew Cal spent so long talking to Alex and Jerry today?"
"He’s already told me I’m not supposed to talk to either of them."
"So we know what’s going to happen if he’s got someone whispering in his ear about you sitting here. No I’m not letting you go home Cal. I’m going to phone mom now and have her and Martha meet us at the school gates. We’ll need Martha for two reasons, the first is that she’s going to be able to keep your father away as she works for Social Services and secondly because we’ll need a second car for all of us to go home."
"I don’t think getting Martha involved is such a good idea Justin. If there is an allegation of abuse, she’ll be forced to investigate it and that will mean Cal is screwed if she can’t put him in a good home," said Alex.
"What if I talk to mom and see what she has to say? How would you normally get home from school Cal?"
"I’d normally walk why?"
"Just trying to work out whether your dad will be at the gate waiting for you."
"It’s possible after he told me I was only allowed out of the house to go to school or church."
"Right, I’m going to call mom and fill her in and we’ll see what she says. Now I’ll put the phone on speaker so you can hear what she says Cal, ok?"
Justin got his phone and dialled the house, after ringing twice a voice answered.
"Is everything alright? You don’t normally call during the day."
"We’ve got a big problem and it’s one you’re best suited to solving."
"Ok, enough with the bull, what’s happened?"
"I know you haven’t met Cal, but you know who he is right?"
"He’s Jerry’s friend who called around Rick’s to tell Alex about Jerry being in hospital right?"
"That’s him, well he’s in trouble. The long and short of it is that his dad beat him unconscious after he spent time with Alex on Saturday."
"Oh my, is he ok?"
"I’m fine thanks," said Callum.
"I thought you had the phone on speaker, I can see why you called now. I’m thinking out loud a minute, but chip in boys if you can. Now if your father is the one beating you, would removing him from the home help?"
"I don’t think that would work, I can’t see mom allowing someone to split her and dad up."
"Ok Cal, so it would mean removing you from their care. Um... I know of a way to help in the short term, but that would require Martha to be able to sign off as well as getting Cal’s parents to sign like Jerry’s mother did. Is your father likely to do that Cal?"
"There is a way I think but I’d rather not have to do that."
"It may be necessary. Regardless we can’t have you go back there. I’ll try and talk to Martha this afternoon and set the wheels in motion. If I can’t catch her in the office I’ll call her at home later, so no matter what I can or can’t do this afternoon, I want you to come here with the boys."
"What if his dad is at the school gates waiting for him mom."
"There’s more than one way out of the school isn’t there?"
"Yeah, but that takes us well out of the way. Anyway we won’t all fit in the car, so what if Alex, Cal and Jerry take the back way out of school and meet you in Worcester Street and Dec and I can walk home like normal. Cal’s dad doesn’t know us as far as I know so we won’t have a problem there."
"I don’t like the idea of you all splitting up."
"Come on mom, I’ve walked home on my own more times than I can count."
"I know that Justin, but not under these circumstances. All of you go out the back way when school ends and let me worry about getting you home from there."
"I just remembered, Dewi is going to be calling around after school," said Alex.
"What time is he coming around?"
"We didn’t say a time, we just said after school."
"Ok, do you have his mobile number Justin?"
"No, I gave him mine and our address but I didn’t think of asking for his."
"No problem, I’ll make sure you’re here just after school finishes just in case he comes straight from school."
"Thanks mom," said Justin.
"Thanks Mrs... what is your surname?"
"My name is Sarah, Cal not Mrs."
"Ok, I’ll try and remember that, but no promises."
"You boys enjoy the rest of the day and I’ll meet you in Worcester Street."
Justin ended the call and put his phone away. Callum began crying again.
"Hey, no more waterworks, Sarah is going to make this all right," said Jerry.
"You can’t say that Jer, just because she was able to work magic for you and Alex doesn’t mean she can for me."
"You’re forgetting she worked magic for Dec too."
"So there’s more chance that she’s run out of magic."
"Trust Sarah, she’ll find a way to make it right Cal," said Alex.
"Listen guys, we need to eat up or we’re going to be late back," said Justin.
There wasn’t much talking between the boys while they ate. Cal and Dec helped Jerry to eat and drink as they were sat either side of him.
Before they left the clearing, Justin kissed Alex and slid his tongue in.
"Wow, you’re a randy git," said Jerry when they broke apart.
"I haven’t gone so long without a kiss from Alex since we got together."
"Well you’ll have to get used to it. We’re not going to have a chance like very often."
"I can’t believe I’ve just seen that," said Cal.
"It didn’t weird you out did it?" asked Alex.
"Hell no, why would it? I think it’s awesome you two are together."
"It was a bit weird seeing two boys kissing, but that’s only because I’ve not seen it except on telly," said Declan.
"Sorry Dec, I didn’t think about you guys," said Justin.
"You shouldn’t have to be sorry, we all know you’re a couple so don’t worry about it," said Jerry.
"Come on, we’d better make a move or we won’t be back before the bell goes," said Justin.
Callum brushed some crumbs from his trousers before doing the same for Jerry. Justin held Alex’s hand as they walked until they got to the entrance for the park. When they got back to school they went their different directions.
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