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Chapter 7

May 14 2006

“’Ello? Carl here….yeah, Amy-Jo’s flatmate…, no, its Peter, actually. Nahh, not in trouble, he’s just a bit rotten at the minute, it’s flu or sommat…… hmm? Yeah, no worries, Im taking care of him, and so is Amy- nonono, we’ve seen a doctor.”

Pete grins indulgently as Carl mumbles down the phone (pretty bloody convincingly) to Pete’s mum.

He loves this boy.

Probably a lot more than he’d like to admit to anyone right now, too.

Slyly, he sneaks his foot over Carl’s thigh where it rests a few feet away, and curls it up and round, sock-clad toes creeping up the inside, causing all sorts of amusing little stutterings from Carl who is fighting to keep a level tone as he explains all of Pete’s ailments to his mother.
Carl’s voice remains calm as he explains the situation, but his eyes shoot frustrated looks Pete’s way, growing more panicked when Pete’s foot begins dancing dangerously close to his groin.
Carl’s convincing sentiments over the phone were enough to convince Pete that Carl couldn’t be doing too badly at this drama degree that he seemed to loathe so much…

“Erm….well, bring him back when he’s a bit better, I s’pose….”

Eyes twinkling, Pete simply pressed his toes harder into the material beginning to strain over Carl’s crotch.

“Yeah, s’all taken care of…..will do…’right then, g’bye!”

Carl slammed the phone down and glared at Pete, mumbling an angry little “wanker”, and snatching Pete’s foot rudely away from him.

“You best appreciate me lying to your lovely mother, you had…” he scowled at Pete, pulling a hooded sports top on while he talked.

“I do!!”

“Yeah, Good!!!!”

Carl was shaking his head, smiling down at him.

“Appalling, really. Missing school an’ that….ought a’ be ashamed Pete, really…”

Pete scoffed and pulled his battered trainers on, then pulled himself up off the bed, as Carl grabbed the keys and they strode out together, into the night.

Once at the tube station, they tried to anticipate how hard jumping barriers would be with the middle-aged guard there, before mutually agreeing that they couldn’t be bothered, and bought tickets grudgingly.

On the tube, (only three stops in the journey, and Pete thinks they could have walked if they weren’t always so bloody late for every single thing together) they are sat, shoulder to shoulder. Pete turns, inspects Carl, who is turned ever so slightly in, towards him.

Carl looks, Pete’s always thought, as though he is of noble blood….elegant, pinched nose, and heavily-hooded eyes that could seem almost condescending, when really they’re just resting a little bit…
Carl shifts a little uncomfortably next to him when he realises that Pete’s been looking, feels his eyes on his face, looks nervously about them as well, at the other people on the tube to see if they’ve noticed, too...
Pete doesn’t see why he cares, or why it’s something Carl should actually be bothered by.

If someone clearly likes you (yes, like that), and you’re behaving in a mutual way about it, (maybe not so publicly, but that’s just beside the point…) then why all the fucking awkwardness and insecurity?

But then he thinks, as they step out of the station and into night air again, that it’s probably for the best if he doesn’t do too much more shameless Carl-watching, (at least when they’re out and about together, anyway) even if eyes and body-language seem to be the only bloody thing that Carl even understands.
Doesn’t seem to believe in the art of conversation much, anyway.

He finds his eyes drifting back to their old resting place anyway, though…
more specifically - to Carl’s mouth, with it’s cigarette hanging loose from lips that Pete really shouldn’t be thinking such disgustingly sensual things about. But he likes the way that they fit around the fag-filter - their unashamed, utterly roguish charm…the way that they seem to say ‘smoking at the minute, but pretty good at other things, too…’

He quickly mirrors Carl’s action and lights his own fag quickly, almost laughing at his own silliness. Always trying to keep up with Carl, isn’t he? Even on cigarette count…been trying to get through twenty a day, really he has - on the sly at home, too.
Isn’t really sure why he feels such a need to outdo Carl on something so bloody trivial - trying for hardcore, perhaps...
Must be alright for Carl, with his ridiculously easy-going parents, when Pete knows he’d be absolutely fucking for it, if his own dad knew that he smoked and just how much, too.

Just as Pete’s about to comment on Carl’s latest (self-inflicted and not-very-well-done) haircut, a couple walks past them, the girl with her chin bowed coyly into her jacket collar, the boy a rather handsome dark type, with a nose and mouth that remind Pete quite a lot of Carl.

“Rahhh! He was fucking alright, weren’t he?” He says admiringly, when the couple are out of earshot (he didn’t think as much of the girl, really).

“Er - yeah. I’m sure Pete, whatever.”

Right…Pete hadn’t been trying to provoke Carl into using that tone of voice. At least, not specifically…that indifference and irritation, mixed with thinly disguised jealousy.

“What, you mean you never looked??” Pete is incredulous.

“Well no, erm….not like that…” Carl’s eyes shift uncomfortably to things far away, on the opposite side of the road to them, making it impossible for Pete to really read much into his words…why has he just gone and taken away Pete’s one true means of communicating with him?

“Why not?” Pete demands.

“Because…I don’t fucking know, do I? Just...don’t want to, really - don’t see why you would, either.”

“That isn’t a proper reason in the slightest, Carl. I do. Want to look, I mean. Men are beautiful. As beautiful as girls are, yeah, so why shouldn’t you look?”

He is met with baffled, stony silence.

This always makes Pete more incensed than anything else Carl could possibly do, ignoring him or pretending that he hasn’t heard or cared.
And he knows it’s what he’s about to do next that probably makes him one of the worst people Carl could ever choose.

“You don’t like me very much, do you?” he says casually.

And just like that, he sees Carl’s jaw clench, his eyes snap back from glaring at the opposite side of the road, and rise predictably, to stare bored and unmoving into his own.

“’Course I do, now shut-up,” is mumbled sharply back at him, thoroughly unconvincingly.

Crap actor after all, then…’ Pete thinks bitterly.

And now Pete remembers that, yeah, this is just why they don’t talk. Unless they talk about music, or literature, heroes and memories – or anything that is not an absolutely direct comment on them, anyway.

“No you don’t.”

“Yes, I fucking do!”

“Don’t, Carl.”

“Fuck sake! Pete, just drop it, yeah?”


“Why the fuck do you think that I don’t like you?”

“Well, you haven’t sucked me off yet, and that’s just getting started…” Pete says, only half-joking.


He knows when he’s gone too far. But always pretends that he hasn’t. Knows when his words sound too genuine, and judging by Carl’s over-defensiveness concerning their…..relationship (is he really going to call it that? Really?) in general, and how much he hates these public spats that Pete goes in for, the appalled smack on the cheek should be coming right about….well…

any second now, surely….?

Never does come, of course.

Because Carl’s stopped in his tracks a good five yards behind him. He’s about to doom things even further, going on about Carl being the biggest, least merciful fucking cock-tease Pete’s ever met, but then realizes that he just can’t when he sees Carl’s expression.

And, of course, it hurts. And he wishes he could shut himself up sometimes, could really make himself fucking stop.

“Pete - ” and Carl looks just as though he’s about to tell him to leave, that they shouldn’t bother with seeing each other, that it just isn’t worth it.

And he doesn’t. Just turns and walks off.

And Pete doesn’t go after him.

And doesn’t even remember where it was they were going, or why. He doesn’t cry and scream things after him, either. Or put his fist through a shop window. Doesn’t do anything even vaguely dramatic to demonstrate what it is he’s feeling right now, or how intensely.
Just stands, and stares with shameful blankness at Carl getting ever smaller and smaller, and shivers in the sudden cold.

Stops his own arms going around himself though, stops shivering, when he sees two impossibly dark, ecstatic blackbirds flying high and free above his head, and over the city.

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