A/N: I'd be delighted if you took a few seconds to review this story; it means a lot to me. If you don't like slash then don't read this, please. You have been "warned". Enjoy;-)

I cursed softly as I stared at the flat tire of my bicycle's back wheel. It was the second puncture within two months. I searched in vain for a paper-handkerchief to wipe my blackened hands with-I had been fiddling with the wheels and the chain. There was a tree standing nearby. I marched up to it, plucked off a few leaves and wiped my hands with them. Better than nothing. It was a hot day. The local bus was several streets away. It would be better to go home walking. I seized my bike roughly and pushed it along. After ten minutes' walking I passed a bench upon which a boy was sitting. He had put his hands in front of his face. He was crying bitterly as if his heart would break. I felt a gush of pity for him. I knew what it was like to be unhappy. I leant my bike against the wall and slowly moved towards him. I hesitated, then I sat down next to him.

"Hey..." I said awkwardly. I didn't know what to say.

He gave a start and, removing his hands, revealed a tear-stained, sweet face. It was a sweet face indeed with those large, grey eyes and especially that mild expression which played upon his features. His hair reached till his neck and was of a dark brown colour. His mouth was heart-shaped. It seemed to be asking for a kiss. He gazed at me silently, his lips quivering slightly.

"I...I see that you're unhappy," I said.

He laughed. It was a laugh full of bitterness.

"I guess you don't know what it is like to be mobbed because you're gay? To be dumped by your lover who has been cheating on you? To...But then why am I telling you this? I don't even know you. I don't wish to burden you with my problems."

"No, no...I know what you're going through," I whispered, putting my hand on his arm.

Again he raised those beautiful eyes to mine.

"How can you know?" he asked.

"I can feel your pain."

He laughed again.

"How intensely can you feel my pain?"

"Very intensely."

He didn't laugh this time.

"You're...different...in a positive way," he said at last, his voice thoughtful.

"I'm glad I am."

"A girl or a woman passed before you did-I could hear her high heels. She paused when she saw me-the clicking of her heels stopped-and then she continued walking."

Again I felt pain, this time mingled with anger.

"Heartless," I whispered.

"No, not necessarily. Maybe she felt it was no business of hers to ask a stranger about his woes..."

"You said that you're being mobbed?"

"No longer. I used to be mobbed by a gang of four boys which hung about at my school. Foreigners, too, had to suffer because of them. Then, after many complaints and threats from the parents the rector of the school decided to punish the gang. Later, all four boys failed their exams and ended up being taken from the school...I-and a lot of others-were free afterwards. But there's something else. My parents are homophobic. I told them I was gay only three months ago. My father shouted at me and said I was a sick, abnormal being. My mother said I was simply going through a horrid phase...Then I fell in love with a guy who seemed to return my feelings. He fooled me utterly. But I'll continue fighting my way into the world. I refuse to give up, but sometimes it hurts so much that I can't prevent the tears from coming..." he stopped, and his eyes stared at my bike leaning against the wall opposite the bench. I put my hand over his. He shifted his gaze and looked at me. His face lit up with a sweet smile.

"My name is Alex. Alex Smith."

"David Hall."

He shifted his hand so that he grasped mine and pressed it.

"Want to exchange addresses?" I asked.

"Sure, that would be nice," he said. He reached for his bag which was lying beside him. He fished out a piece of paper and a pen. He tore the paper in half and handed it with the pen to me. After the exchange he got up, sighed softly and picked up his bag.

"Thank you," he said, his voice full of emotion.

"It was nothing," I answered.

"That's not true. It was a lot."

I thought of Alex the whole evening after coming home. His sorrow, his pain and sufferings moved me deeply. I, too, had suffered at school. I had been excluded and shunned since I refused to fall a victim to peer pressure. I had a will and a mind of my own without forcing the latter on others for the sake of winning false friends. But never had I been faced with intolerance at home. I felt cold and numb inside when I thought of Alex whose parents didn't even support him and accept him the way he was. I felt hot tears in my eyes. The next day I phoned Alex. He sounded very happy when he recognised me. We arranged to meet near my house. It was a hot, sunny afternoon again. Alex came punctually. He looked very pale, and, to judge from a sticking-plaster on his left arm, had cut himself. However, he smiled when he saw me.

"Hi David," he said cheerfully.

"Hi Alex," I said, suddenly feeling shy. I nodded at his arm.

"Hurt yourself?"

His face darkened, but he didn't look away.

"Had a row with my father yesterday. It was the usual stuff-how sick homosexuals are, and that I should go to a psychiatrist. I usually ignore him, but it was too much for me. I yelled back, and he pushed me. I fell down and..." he stared at his arm.

"Alex, I wish I could do something for you."

"David, you've done enough for me. And you hardly even really know me...so how can I possibly ask you for more favours?"

"I can't bear to see you suffering!" I exclaimed.

"I'm not the only one; there are tons of others...I guess everyone has suffered before."

"But you're going through hell constantly!"

"It's no longer so bad when you get used to it. It's very disagreeable, but when you need to bear up with something day after day then you sort of adapt to it."

"Do you have no siblings, no friends?"


"I'd like to be your friend."

"You already are," he said. And he raised his hand and touched my cheek swiftly.

Three months passed, and Alex became my closest friend. I soon began to feel an emotion for him which was stronger than friendship: Love. I had been uncertain about my sexual orientation since I was sixteen; when I showered with the boys after gym class I was overwhelmed with erotic feelings as I watched their naked bodies. Now, two years later, and with my growing feelings for Alex, I knew what I preferred. Alex never showed any signs that he might be attracted to me as I was to him. Our friendship-and my love for him-grew stronger with every day that passed. Autumn was on its way now, but it was still fairly hot. Alex and I were walking along a quiet little street when I noticed the heavy, grey clouds above our heads.

"Damn, it's going to rain!" I said. And sure enough; fat drops began to fall down upon us, first in a drizzle, and then in a heavy shower. We were soaked before we found shelter underneath an old oak-tree. Alex was wearing a thin T-shirt; I could see his nipples poking through the cloth. His jeans were plastered to his legs, and his hair clung wetly to his neck. He looked incredibly sexy and seductive. We looked at each other as the rain pelted down.

"Alex," I said.

He took my hands and began to kiss them feverishly; I drew him to me and pressed my lips to his. They were soft and firm at the same time. We stood there kissing each other passionately; and when we drew back, it was only to say:

"I love you."

We embraced again. The rain was cold, but Alex was warm in my arms. He buried his head in the hollow of my neck. I ran my fingers through his hair.

When the rain stopped, he said:

"I'm going to have to tell my parents about us...my father will..." he stopped.

I had met his father before, for Alex had invited me over to his house quite often. His father was a thin, spare man who had been civil enough to me.

"Don't look at me like that, David. I have to."

"He'll try to break up our relationship!"

"Maybe. Maybe not..."

I squeezed his fingers.

"I'll come with you if you like, Alex."

"No. I want to do this alone."

"I also need to tell my folks at home. I haven't told them that I'm gay, but I think they have an idea."

My parents weren't very surprised.

"All the girls would run after you but you refused to go out with any...and you seemed to be more interested in boys," my mother said. My father simply smiled and said he didn't care about my love-life as long as I was happy. I told them about Alex. They knew Alex but they didn't know about his sufferings.

"If his father does throw him out of the house then I'll talk to his parents. If that doesn't work then Alex can stay here for a while until a solution is found," my father said.

Alex phoned in the evening.

"Alex, how did it go?"

"It's okay, David. I got my parents into the living room and told them. They...they were silent at first. They just stared at me, and my father was sitting there all stiff. Then he said he was sorry for hurting me so deeply. He didn't wish to destroy my happiness. I thought I was dreaming. My mother spoke up; she and my father would have to get used to the whole situation. They wanted me to be happy, and if they didn't try to accept my being gay then they would lose me. She said that she and Dad will always love me."

I was lying in the grass with Alex beside me.

"You've made my life happy again, David," he said, stroking my face, "I'm happy at home again and I've got you."

"Alex, do you know how much I love you?"

"I'll never know until the cow jumps over the moon..."


"Kiss me."

I kissed him.