After collecting my son from university, he makes an announcement I had been half-expecting...
* * * * * * *
Jake looked over at me and we grinned at each other.
I was desperately pleased to see him and I could see that he was pretty chuffed to see me, even though he hadn't found the time to phone home in over a fortnight.
Traffic was fairly quiet and I managed to pull out of his university residence onto the main road.
I looked over at him again once we'd got past some parked cars. His bright blue fringe and goatee beard didn't really suit him. I hoped they were just temporary quirks of undergraduate self-expression.
When he'd first met me in the doorway of his student flat, I'd thought for one horrible second that he'd had a swirly tattoo etched on his neck. I'd been relieved to realise it was just a stray thread of cotton from the black t-shirt he was wearing.
"Have we got anyone coming over during the holiday" he asked as I slowed down to flash a middle aged couple across the road. They had the weary look of parents who had, like me, come to collect a son or daughter for the holiday.
For some reason his voice sounded deeper. I wondered if he'd taken up smoking or if it was just a testosterone surge.
"Well, Debbie is coming for Christmas dinner with us," I replied. Things had been going rather better for us recently, now that my sexual needs were largely being taken care of by other men. I was beginning to wonder whether, in spite of her obvious enjoyment of my friendship, she might, like me, prefer her own gender for sex.
"What about Bradley" he asked. He was always keen on Bradley coming over. The two of them got on remarkably well.
"I assume Bradley will want to spend Christmas with his fiance and baby daughter," I said, glancing over at him. I didn't like the way his earring was stretching a large hole in his lobe. I'd already told him he'd regret it one day.
"He'll probably come over once or twice while I'm home, though, won't he" Jake persisted.
"Quite likely," I said, turning right onto Woodhouse Lane.
"And what about that other bloke" he went on. "The one you met in the summer..."
Did he mean Deshi, who had come to fix the satellite dish and had gone on to make several other installations I didn't think I'd told Jake about him. In any case, his visits had fizzled out in October.
"Was he called Hugh or something" Jake asked.
"Oh, you mean Hugo," I said. Hugo Clarke. We'd met in Debenham's toilets; an inauspicious beginning to what had turned out to be tumultuous relationship. "He and I parted company a while back."
The thieving bastard had nicked my watch when I was asleep - I was convinced of it.
Hugo's first visit had been the only time Jake had seen me rimming another man. Thinking he'd gone to bed, we'd become playful on the couch, groping each other through our trousers and sniffing each other's bottoms. In the middle of that, Hugo's trousers and briefs had somehow become yanked down and my face had somehow planted itself firmly between his legs. While I'd been feeding hungrily on his splayed hole, my nose nuzzling into his big, hairy balls, he'd abruptly stopped masturbating and I'd heard him say, "Er...."
I'd looked up and found Jake ogling us from the doorway, muttering something about forgetting his phone. He'd come into the room to collect it, the two of us staring at him, frozen in the middle of the most intimate act one man can perform on another. He'd smirked at us, making no bones about the fact he was taking it all in - from Hugo's pink and spit-soaked arsehole to my shocked face with anal hairs sticking to my lips - and then had thrown us a wink and closed the door behind him.
When I'd challenged him about it the following day, he'd just shrugged and said, not altogether unreasonably, that if we wanted to get up to "private stuff" we should do it in the bedroom. When I'd commented on how much he'd stared at us, he'd grinned and muttered, "Well, the two of you looked kind of hot like that."
As I stopped at a crossing, he asked, "What about that Italian guy... with that weird surname Delgado, was it"
Marco had been his first name. He'd been extremely physical, almost unmanageably so, and I'd wondered whether all Europeans were so unrestrained.
"He fell in love with some woman and felt he should be faithful to her."
"How quaint," Jake observed with a wry smile.
"Quite," I agreed.
"He was the one you were in the shower with that time, wasn't he"
I looked across at him and at first I pretended to still be annoyed, but I couldn't keep it up and we ended up smirking each other. There was no need for an answer; he knew full well that Marco had been the one he'd walked in on me playing prison showers with. Marco had been acting out the part of the new arrival who'd unfortunately dropped his soap and I'd been the seasoned inmate behind him exploiting the mishap for all it was worth.
Jake certainly hadn't been anxious to extract himself from the awkward position he'd found himself in, hovering in the bathroom doorway like he'd hoped to get drawn in as the prison guard. He must have watched us as silently as he could until we'd become aware of his presence, and even then I'd had to pause what I was doing, crouching over Marco and with my arms around his chest, to ask him if he'd mind kindly leaving us to it.
As if enjoying working his way through my address book, he went on to ask, "You'll be seeing Guy, of course, won't you"
I pulled out onto the ring road, following signs to the south-bound motorway. The rear view mirror was largely useless, Jake's stuff was packed so high. He probably wouldn't touch the bulk of it during the break but would just reload the car and dutifully bring it back up to university with him in January.
"We haven't arranged anything," I replied. "He tends to just turn up out of the blue when he needs a bit of... er... company."
Jake chuckled. He was well aware of the sort of company Guy enjoyed. I still blushed to think of one Friday evening back in March or April when Guy had come over and, even though he knew that Jake was in the next room, had been so brazenly impassioned and sexually unrestrained that it had felt like my bedroom had been shaking in time with his grunting and pounding.
Any pretence I might have tried to maintain up until then that Guy and I were just into rimming had been brutally and noisily dispelled. Jake could have been under no allusions that he was hearing his dad being very roughly buggered by his friend's father's cock and it had seemed like the whole house had been steeped in the crude stink our hot, sweaty exertions had managed to produce.
And yet, the next morning, Jake didn't seem in any way disapproving of the very obvious homosexual shafting I'd received in the next room to his. Indeed, he had had quipped that I could think of him as sitting on the subs bench if ever I found I needed a break from Guy's demands.
I'd asked him what he meant and he'd just laughed, saying it had been a joke. But I'd suspected if I really had knocked on his bedroom door with a request for him to fill in for me for half an hour while I was taking a breather, he would have been in there like a shot. And I doubted I could have persuaded him to come out again when I was ready to resume.
I knew for a fact that he masturbated when he could hear me having sex with other men: something he never did when I had Debbie to stay over. Whenever the other guy and I would pause in the middle of sex, perhaps to adjust our position or when it was time to change places, a gentle thudding would continue through the bedroom wall, like a delayed echo of our rhythm from my son's bedroom.
And once, when I'd had two men to stay and we were experimenting rather messily with double penetration, I'd popped out to the bathroom for a new box of tissues and had found him outside my bedroom door, claiming to be en route to the kitchen for a glass of water as he struggled to conceal how much his boxer shorts were tenting outwards.
He liked male-to-male sex and had, over the course of the past year, become more and more expressive of that fact.
But at the same time, since starting at university, he'd started talking a lot about a girl called Ellie and would occasionally refer to her as his 'girlfriend'.
"How's Ellie" I asked as we waited at some lights.
He shrugged. "Okay, I guess."
They'd met at a party during Freshers' Week and had been going out together intermittently since. I was fairly sure he was sleeping with her - he sometimes stayed over at the flats she was living at - but at the same time he would throw in hints that he was more than friendly with a guy called Marcus.
Indeed, it was Marcus who was coming to stay over with us during the Christmas break, not Ellie.
Ellie was too busy, or so Jake said.
Whereas Marcus was booked in for the weekend after next.
"Should I make up the spare room" I'd asked him when he'd told me.
"Don't bother," Jake had replied. "We're used to sharing."
"Your single bed is a bit small for the two of you lads to squeeze into," I'd queried.
"We'll be fine," he'd retorted and had refused to be drawn on any further details.
So I rather wondered if Jake was mirroring my own sexual habits, having Debbie as my 'girlfriend' who I brandished on my arm at social occasions, and a beguiling variety of male acquaintances who kept me entertained in the bedroom.
Could my son really be dating Ellie while he was secretly shagging Marcus I wasn't completely sure, but I had strong suspicions.
"Does your friend Marcus have a girlfriend" I asked him with an innocent smile as we pulled onto the motorway.
"Yeah," he said impassively. "But they're not that close."
"And yet the two of you guys seem very close..." I asked, a touch mischievously.
He smirked, clearly catching my drift. "We're there for each other."
"Like the way Bradley and I are there for each other"
He nodded slowly. "Kind of."
I smiled. We both knew the score even if we weren't being frank about it.
I was pleased that Jake had discovered there was more to sex than what he did with girls; I only wished I had made a similar discovery, without the self-recriminations that would have plagued me, when I'd been his age. My life, I was sure, would have taken a very different course - though if it had meant I wouldn't have married Linda and so wouldn't have Jake sitting next to me now, perhaps it was best that things had turned out as they had.
I found myself looking forward to Marcus coming to visit.
I'd met him briefly one weekend when I'd popped up to see Jake. I hadn't been aware of his significance back then and so I hadn't really taken much notice of him. He had blond curly hair and seemed quite athletic - I vaguely remembered, now that I thought about it, he was studying archaeology or something similar. He didn't seem at all gay, but then he wouldn't. Like Jake, he obviously liked girls but had found he could also be very effectively pleasured by his own gender.
And if Jake's sex drive was anything like mine - and I was fairly sure it was - the two of them were probably at it like a couple of rabbits.
Yes, it would be very interesting to have him visit us and to see how he and Jake would behave around each other. How often they'd sneak upstairs together; what sounds would emerge from their room after lights-out.
"Do you have any other guys who you're friendly with," I asked him, "the way you're friendly with Marcus"
He smiled and nodded. "One or two."
"A bit of variety can be nice," I proposed.
"Yeah, but Marcus and I are pretty... you know... compatible," he explained.
I understood what he meant. It was the same with Bradley and me. Guy was exciting but frustratingly one-sided, Troy could be too cold and clinical and Duncan was just so unreliable. I'd recently met a builder called Andy on the internet, but he kept trying to push things in directions I wasn't comfortable with.
I wondered if Jake and Marcus had gone as far as having intercourse together, or whether they were content to simply grope each other or would take turns orally. Having seen the lewd depictions of homosexual sex in Jake's cartoons, I knew him to be fascinated with male penetration and I thought it likely that anal sex in some form would represent an important part of his sexual relations with other young men.
Perhaps I would get to see him naked - the older he got, the less he seemed to care about showering with the bathroom door wide open or getting dressed while we were chatting. When he bent down for something I would risk a sneaky look at his backside to see if, just as mine was last time I'd checked in in the mirror, it was betraying signs of sexual activity. If he was in the habit of pleasuring Marcus or any other of his male friends, it would be likely that his swollen ring was starting to pucker outwards from repeated intrusions and his hole might even gape open from being recently well-used.
Yes, I'd definitely take a peek if the opportunity arose, and then dart to my bedroom to compare whatever he was flaunting back there with what I was starting to rather proudly show off.
Since he was making it clear that something was going on between them, it seemed abundantly likely I would get to hear the two of them enjoying each other's company when Marcus stayed over. And I probably would, like Jake before me, take up my own solitary rhythm in the adjoining room.
Or perhaps I'd invite Bradley over that night, or Guy if he was free. That might be fun; yes, I'd sound one of them out.
It would be good for Marcus to see that I wasn't some fuddy-duddy dad who'd be shocked by what he had going on with my son. That whatever the two of them were up to, I was also an ardent fan of.
"How did the two of you first get together" I asked.
"'Get together' as in..."
I smiled over at him, eager to finally cut to the chase. "You know what I mean."
"Okay," he said, his look towards me seeming to acknowledge that he could dispense with ambiguity.
"Obviously you don't mind..." he asked.
"Mind" I laughed. "Surely, I'm the last person you'd expect to mind!"
He smiled across at me. "Yeah, but it's one thing for you to play around with other guys. But for me... well... sometimes it's like you think I'm still a little kid..."
I smiled back at him. "I try not to, Jake. It just doesn't seem that long ago to me that you were one, I guess. But no, I certainly don't mind that you're being so... unreserved with Marcus."
He grinned more broadly, pleased to have my assent.
I'd always told Jake that he shouldn't be afraid to experiment sexually, within certain limits of course, and, while I hadn't for a second expected him to be interested in his own gender, I was pleased that he felt able to enjoy intimacy with another male without apparently experiencing the guilt that I would have at his age.
"So come on, then," I asked again. "How did the two of you first hook up"
Jake chuckled. "Let's just say we were both pretty drunk."
I nodded. "Now where have I heard that before"
"It wasn't like you and Guy," he chuckled. "It started out with us playing Jenga with a few mates while we downed several bottles of vodka."
"What's Jenga" I asked, wondering if it was some weird sexual thing I hadn't heard of.
"You know, that game with the wooden blocks. Where you build a tower and take it turns to pull the blocks out without it falling down."
"Oh, yes." Wasn't that for children
"Well, like I say, we were all pretty drunk and we stuck labels to the blocks with different dares on them. Like, 'kiss the person to your left' and 'flash your knob out of the flat window'... that kind of stuff."
"Okay..." I could see how that would give the game a more adult slant.
"The one who knocked the tower down had to close his eyes and choose one of the blocks he'd pulled out, and then do whatever the dare was. It sounds pretty stupid but at the time it was actually very funny."
"So which block did you pick when it was your turn"
"I had to lick the backside of the person sitting next to me, who happened to be Marcus."
"Who thought up that as a dare"
Jake grinned. "Me, actually."
Of course it had been him. Given how much exposure he'd had to male rimming, it was blatantly obvious that he would be the one to throw that dare in.
"I didn't expect I'd end up being the one to do it," he insisted. "I thought it would be funny seeing one of the other lads having to lick someone's hairy butt."
"So did you actually do it"
Jake nodded. "Of course I did. It was part of the game."
"And how did you find it"
"Well, at first it was like totally heinous. I wasn't actually sure I could do it. I tried to get away with just licking his butt-cheek, but the guys wouldn't have that and kept saying it wasn't 'in the spirit of the dare'."
I smiled. "You'd have said the same thing in their position."
"Too true I would," he agreed, "but I had to give it a shot. Anyway, after that I tried just licking up near the top of his crack, but they wouldn't let me get away with that either. Everyone knows how far down the... well... bullseye is, and that's where they said I had to push my tongue. Not just poke it out, but push it right in."
"And did you still find it... er... 'heinous'"
I didn't like the way he used that word but I was too caught up in the story to pick him up on it.
"The thing is, I found - just like you, I guess - that I actually enjoyed it. I didn't act like I did, of course: I pretended to gag and retch and stuff, but I actually found it... well... pretty exciting, even though I was doing it to another guy."
I smiled. "And did Marcus enjoy it"
"He didn't let on either, but... yeah... he did. And so later that night, when he was too drunk to stagger back to his place, he crashed with me and we did it again. Properly this time, and taking turns on each other. We enjoyed it so much, we tried some other stuff... and then, next morning, tried even more."
Little over a year ago, I would have been stunned by Jake's admission that he had drunkenly rimmed a male friend and they had gone on to experiment sexually together. Now I was pleased to discover he was enjoying a form of sex I knew to be intensely stimulating.
"Weren't either of you... well... a bit freaked out" I asked. "I know I was after the first time. I was plagued by the rights and wrongs of it... more by the wrongs, perhaps unsurprisingly."
He shrugged. "Not really. We discussed it... you know... whether it meant we were gay and all that. But we both fancy girls and what we do together doesn't change that... we're just... well... slightly more than just good mates, I suppose."
I wanted to tell him that the two of them were fuck-buddies, but I thought the term too coarse to use with my son.
"Marcus says it's no different to the two of us wanking off together," he went on. "I mean, masturbating together."
I smiled. He thought I wouldn't know what wanking was.
"Quite a few guys do that," he added. "Straight guys, I mean. It's just that Marcus and I use each other's bodies to help each other out. So when you look at it like that, there's nothing really wrong with it."
"There's nothing wrong with it whichever way you look at it," I asserted. "Whatever you're doing together."
"It's not like we're boyfriends or anything like that."
"So you're not... you know... in love with him"
Jake laughed. "Not even remotely! I fancy Ellie... and I still get turned on by other girls. Marcus and I just... sort of... mess around together. It's just a bit of fun... nothing more."
"That's pretty much how I feel about the guys I know," I agreed. "It's nice to experience that intimacy with your own gender. It seems to me like it's a perfectly natural form of sexual expression which doesn't need to bring with it any emotional ties."
Jake nodded. "Girls don't want sex as much as guys want it; well, not the girls I know. So it makes sense for guys to get together when we feel horny. There's a lot of stuff two guys can do together in the sack... I mean, the possibilities are almost endless!"
"Are the two of you... you know... going the whole way"
"I thought we had a no questions policy about sex," Jake said flatly.
I smiled. Pity I'd introduced that rule when the shoe had been on the other foot.
"But I don't mind telling you, yes," he added. And then, with a smirk: "Very much so, actually."
"And obviously you like it"
He grinned. "What's there not to like"
I pulled off the motorway and indicated to take the road towards home.
As we drove into town, I asked Jake about the other guys he hooked up with.
"In a shared flat, everyone knows everyone's business. So it's kind of common knowledge - without anyone actually saying so - that Marcus and I are... well... a bit more than mates. The guys know we're both seeing girls but they know what goes on between us when he stays over. I mean, the walls are pretty thin and my bedframe creaks like you wouldn't believe..."
"Some of the guys are curious themselves, or have mates who are too horny for their girlfriends, so word gets around and... well... just like happens with you, sometimes other opportunities arise."
"I hope you're being careful, Jake," I cautioned.
"Of course," he smiled. "I've always got a few boxes of size U in the drawer."
I smiled back, wondering if that meant that, like Guy, he was only prepared to use the backsides of such young men and didn't offer to bend over in return.
"I don't know about you, though," he added, as if reading my thoughts, "it's best to have a few other sizes stashed away too, for when... you know... things get really interesting!"
He chuckled and I laughed with him. So he did like it both ways.
I wondered which way around he preferred it; I myself had yet to reach a conclusion. With some guys I seemed to strongly like it one way; with others, I would enjoy it only if the tables were turned.
"But, like I said," he went on, "Marcus and I like the same stuff and it works for us. Other guys can be too demanding, or too crude or just plain disgusting. I don't know about you, but there has to be a certain level of cleanliness for me to able to... you know..."
I nodded. "Absolutely."
"And some guys," he went on, as if wanting to unburden his observations onto someone who would be able to relate to them, "are just so annoyingly quick!"
"What do you mean"
"Don't you find that with some guys, the two of you have hardly shown him your butt when he's... well... squirting all over it and apologising."
I smiled. "I think that's probably more of a problem at your age than mine."
He nodded. "Well, it's really irritating. It's like they've been wondering about what it might be like to get together with another guy for so long that they're just totally blown away when they actually get to do it, and the bloody thing goes off in their own hand!"
I chuckled, wondering if that might have happened to Jake on his first time with Marcus; he had, after all, clearly been in a state of some anticipation himself after loitering outside my bedroom door for a good six months.
"It must be quite frustrating," I commented.
"If it's a guy who you've been looking forward to... you know... hooking up with for a while... yeah... it kind of is."
"Have you ever had two guys at the same time" I asked him, wondering if this might be a question too far.
But Jake just smirked. "It kind of broadens the possibilities doesn't it"
I smiled back. I was developing quite a knack for being the middle guy in what someone had rather eloquently termed a 'train'. The position had, when we'd correctly aligned ourselves, offered the most satisfying sex I'd ever had.
"Have you ever had a foursome" Jake asked with his smile broadening into a mischievous grin. "All guys."
"Not yet," I admitted with a chuckle. "But I wouldn't say no. What about you"
"Same answer," he replied, still grinning.
I drove onto our estate, feeling pleased that we were able to speak so frankly with one another. We both had women in our lives but we both enjoyed our men too. Like father, like son, I thought.
"I wish more men were as liberated as we are," I told him. "I think the world would be a more harmonious place."
"Have you thought about setting up a blog about your experiences" he asked. "To encourage other guys to be more... you know... experimental..."
"Not really," I replied. "There are quite a few of them online already. They can come across as a bit preachy."
"Well, maybe write a story, then," he suggested. "Yeah, it would make a pretty good read."
"After everything I've been through, it'd probably be longer than 'Lord of the Rings'."
He grinned over at me. "That would make a pretty good title! You should definitely write it."
I smiled. "Don't you think there'd be too many holes in the plot"
He chuckled and took up the bait. "I'm sure there's a big opening in the market, though."
"It'd be easy to get started, but I don't think I could face a sloppy ending."
He groaned and then laughed as I pulled into our drive. The cat was waiting for us, meowing at the front door.
We turned to each other and smiled.
We were home.
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