Sometime during the night, Simon woke again, opening his eyes to the silent dark of his bedroom. Lifting his head from the pillow, he blinked at the glowing blue digits of his bedside clock and frowned at the headache that had settled behind his eyes; not yet pounding, but heading that way. But that was minor compared to the unrelenting ache in his groin!
Boners were nothing new. He often had them in the mornings, and they were easily relieved by emptying his bladder, frequently followed by a leisurely—or sometimes not so leisurely if he was feeling particularly horny—jerk off in the shower. Right at that moment, with a bladder once more fit to burst, nobody had told his dick that it wasn't a good time, and his painful erection continued to condemn him; the mark of a guilty slut.
The need for relief became desperate, and in the bathroom, he leaned over the bowl once more, gritting his teeth as stinging urine flowed. By the sink, a small container of Tylenol rested. He just couldn't take any more, so he flicked the lid. Some small voice suggested he take the lot, but he just swallowed three and went back to bed.
Morning came early. Perhaps because of the early night, he was all sleeped-out long before anyone else stirred. Bright light was trying to steal in under the blinds, announcing a day that should have been filled with hope and promise.
He was wide awake within moments, and despite the restless night, felt surprisingly calm and clear headed as his eyes drifted around the familiarity of his room. The sleep, and possibly the meds, had done him good and his headache had passed. The Tylenol had succeeded in dismissing the worst of the throbbing under the bandages too. He crawled out of bed and opened the blinds, letting the approving sunlight flow in like a blessing on his path. Stripping off his underwear with gentle care, he stood naked in the honest light of the warm revealing beams.
His mum was right when she said he was having a growing spurt, he noted absently. He was changing, his teen body picking up muscle and bulk that hadn't been there even three or four months ago. Skin, browned by summer days at the lake, was pale only where covered by shorts...and also his wrist. He frowned at it, wondering what happened to his waterproof watch. There were hairs now that grew his legs. Even his groin, up until yesterday, had sprouted a healthy bush.
His voice was passing out of that squeaky 'goosing' phase, too, and next semester he'd be moving into his high school as a sophomore, the year Luke had just finished.
For the first time in full daylight, he studied what was wrapped in white. And not just bandages; everything had been tightly bound by a compressing surgical tape. Only his glans showed. It looked better today, he noted. A lot less swollen than yesterday.
Gently he tugged down on the elongated compressed white shaft. There was no movement and the mushroom head remained uncovered—a red, shiny, painfully sensitive lollipop that wasn't going back into its wrapper. He'd been circumcised. Cut. Chopped. Clipped. Skinned back. Unhooded...call it what you like, but it was because of Toby forcibly stripping back his foreskin that this state had been made permanent.
Since arriving in America, his classmates—particularly in the early years where friends had no trouble in saying how things were—were bemused by his unusual dick.
You gotta get unhooded, they said. Like we are! He'd laughed and given them the finger. Now, Toby had fucked him up big time...literally. He could never forgive him for that.
Letting go of his flaccid dick, his hand drifted around to his backside. That was where the disconnect in it all was, though the doctors never seemed to realize how dirty he felt. He'd showered when he'd got home after it had happened, so maybe there'd been nothing to see. Either way, he was certain his mum and dad knew nothing, and it was going to stay that way!
Satisfied, he passed into the bathroom. Spotting the Tylenol, he didn't hesitate to flick the lid and take two more tablets before looking at himself in the mirror. He would do whatever was needed to survive.
He stared at his reflection. Survive? What stared back didn't look like surviving!
Fuck, he looked a mess.
He'd slept in his clothes. His greasy, unwashed hair looked dank, and his teeth, as he ran his tongue around them, felt slimy with plaque. He would have started with a shower, except he'd heard the rule: don't get the bandage wet.
Well, to hell with that—he was still having a shower, even if he had to... He paused as an idea sprang to mind.
Moving back to his room he found the half-eaten pack of unsalted peanuts that he'd rubber banded to keep fresh. The bag was big enough and, after eating a handful, he upended the nuts into the bin, grimacing at the sick irony of what he had in mind: a bag of nuts for a bag of nuts!
Taking the medium sized empty foil packet, he slid his soft member into it and carefully snapped the rubber band tightly around the base, under his sack. It was uncomfortable, but better than nothing. Uncouth but practical, he decided as went to run the shower.
Clean at last—at least on the outside—he toweled himself dry and took off the plastic bag. Remaining flaccid, he studied himself and came to a decision. What was wrapped inside those bandages wasn't him any more. He hadn't chosen it, so he rejected it along with everything else, including everyone that came with it. He invoked a silent oath—or was it an irrevocable curse—nobody would hurt him again.
In fact, the way he felt right then, he wouldn't want to become aroused, let alone allow anyone touch or get close to him.
Once dressed, he realized he had nowhere to go. There was no plan. No people to see or activities prepared. With no desire to try to be anywhere else anyway, he found that just the start of the day had already exhausted him. He lay down on the sheets and emptied his mind until, once more, he fell asleep.
"Si...?" It was some later when Luke's voice came from the door. He stirred himself and lifted his head to read his clock. Two hours later, he noted, yawning.
Luke spoke again. "You're up then?"
"What do you want?"
Why couldn't they leave him alone?
"Mum's made pancakes..."
Breakfast? Did he even want any?
His stomach rumbled. Yes, he was hungry and could do with some food, he decided, and maybe another couple of Tylenol sooner rather than later. After the earlier shower, a top up of pills, and another sleep, he felt a little better. It had given him time to think. He was still weary, though not for lack of sleep now. Rather, he lacked the energy to stay angry and to fight for something that he’d already lost.
He hung his head and muttered, "I'll be down in a bit."
When he arrived into the kitchen, the table seemed to be strewn with boxes of every kind of cereal they had in stock. A big gallon of milk sat in the middle, and every seat bar his own was taken. Three sets of eyes turned to study him as he shuffled in through door.
"Morning, sweetheart!" His mum's voice sounded cheerful, but her eyes searched him with undisguised caution, adding to his discomfort as they drifted down to his groin. "How are you feeling today?"
"Fine." He kept his voice as neutral as he could and tried to give the impression he'd not noticed what she was interested in. "What's for breakfast?"
He settled at the table, which from the look of what was on it, he guessed she was trying to tempt him with anything and everything that was in the cupboards. On the worktop where she usually prepared food, a bowl, flour and milk waited hopefully, and the smell of recent cooking filled the air.
"Luke said you were doing pancakes." He would at least eat something.
She couldn't hide her satisfaction that he seemed to want feeding, and her face brightened further. "Pancakes it is then!" She stood and began mixing up a fresh batch.
At his place, the antibiotics and another pot of Tylenol waited. While she prattled on, he poured a glass of milk and took both. Then he sat there quietly, turning the tub of Tylenol in his fingers. He could feel the appraising eyes as his silence stretched.
"What?" His eyes flicked up at his dad's voice, and then went back to the painkillers he was holding, wary of the questions he sensed was coming.
"Is there anything you want to...." his dad began. Simon suspected where he was heading, but his dad never got there. Literally saved by the bell, they were interrupted by a ring at the front door. Luke pushed back his chair and went to answer.
Simon swallowed as he wondered who it was. Forget pancakes—what if this was out of the frying pan and into the fire? What if it was Toby? Would he be able to even face him without crying...or worse...? However, it was his turn to be surprised when Luke entered with Grace.
The shit had sent his mother!
He knew she was here because of him, and unable to help it, he flushed a deep red as her eyes were all over him, searching for some truth.
"Oh, hello, Grace!" Unaware of the sparks that were flying, his mum beamed from the griddle. "How are you and Toby this morning?"
"We're good, thanks." Grace sniffed the air and her expression seemed to relax. Breakfast seemed pretty ordinary after all, though her eyes never left Simon. "And you? Pancakes for breakfast I see!"
"Second batch already!"
"Sorry for intruding," Grace continued. "I was just passing and thought I'd drop in to see how you were doing, Simon. Toby and I were shocked when we heard you'd been rushed to hospital." Her eyes flicked over him, probing again. "You were such a star the other day, I just don't know how we'd have coped without you. I was so sorry to hear you'd hurt yourself."
So, she and Toby had been talking already!
"Thank you Mrs. Skerrit." Keeping the anger from his face, his tone was formal. "I'm better now."
She twitched, and he knew her well enough to pick up on her expressions. They both knew he was close enough to her to call her Grace too, but had chosen not to.
Her subtle frown was quickly covered. "Lucy, I'm going to the store...is there anything I can pick up for you?"
"No, I think we're good." His mum didn't seem to pick up on any of it as she expertly flipped over a pancake. "I have to go down to Publix later anyway."
"Fair enough." Grace appeared ready to leave...then, "Do you want Toby to pop down later, Simon? To give you a bit of company?"
There it was; her meaning was clear. Do you want to see my son? Her tone was probing, as though trying to nail something that she couldn't put her finger on, but knew was brewing under the surface.
By then he'd had enough time to decide how he would reply, and said, "I think mum and dad just want me to rest Mrs. Skerrit. I'm not a hundred percent, and still have go back to the doctors. I've also got a whole bunch of school work to finish." Even to his own ears, he sounded reasonable.
Because it was her, the lies needed to shut her down were hard. He was only able to hold her eye without flinching by seeing Toby through her. The deceit stoked his anger for her son. "I'm sure I'll see Toby at school," he added. It could be next year for all he cared!
For long moments, she held his steady gaze. They both knew he was lying through his teeth, but what was she going to do? Challenge him on it? Of course she couldn't—and he knew she wouldn't—not here. Not in front of his parents.
And what actually had she learned?
So, he and Toby had had a bust up. That's all that she would take away. It had happened before, and perhaps she would just hope it would blow over in a few days like it always did.
He wondered what she already knew. Had Toby told her the truth about what he'd done? He doubted it, but even if he had, what would she do? Still nothing.
He knew her too well. She would never compromise him. 'Oh yes, my son buggered your little boy. Sorry about that. Oh, that's right, they're both gay, so it's probably all right. Now that's sorted, can I pick you up any eggs?'
He blinked and hung his head, feeling crap. He was being mean. It wasn't her fault—she'd been nothing but amazing to him. And no matter what, she would still never out him. Not in a month of Sundays!
"That's fine. I'm sure he'll understand," she said at last. Her tone was breezy, but there was something that maybe only he could hear that betrayed her disappointment. "I'll let him know, and in the meantime you get yourself on the mend."
She said her goodbyes and left via the front door. He watched her go, even more convinced that she didn't know anything other than that Toby had probably gone off the deep end on something again.
"I guess I'd better get off to work too," said his dad. He reached for his jacket and slung it over his shoulder, out of time to go back to asking awkward questions.
"Okay, hon.' Lucy dropped a freshly cooked pancake onto Simon's plate. "We'll be fine. Home normal time?"
"I would think so." He gave her a quick peck on the cheek. Passing behind where he was sitting, his dad gave the top of Simon’s head a friendly rub. "What say I pick up a movie for tonight"
Without turning, Simon nodded. "Sure." He reached for the chocolate sauce.
* * *
Once their dad had left for work, the kitchen descended into an uneasy silence, and Luke couldn't help but compare it to the day he'd been skinned. He'd made it back from the clinic with a grin smeared all over his face and a plastic tube hanging from his dick. The lively fun around the dinner table that evening had been chalk and cheese to this!
Across the table from him, keeping his eyes turned down, his brother remained silent and brooding as he chewed his food slowly.
"Can I do you another one, sweetheart?" Their mum lifted the pancake mixture. From the amount of batter still remaining, it looked like she was prepared to feed the whole neighborhood!
Wordless, Simon nodded his head.
He was eating, and that had to be a good sign, Luke decided. Their mum seemed to think so, too, and looked satisfied as she poured more batter into the pan.
“Are you sure you don’t want Toby to pop by for a little bit,” she said as another pancake began to brown. “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. Perhaps a little bit of company would be nice?”
“No.” Simon's tone was as flat as his expression.
Pursing her lips, she went back to the griddle.
As Simon waited for yet another pancake, it seemed to Luke that nobody seemed to want to mention the elephant in the room that was bandaged between his bother's legs.
Across the table, he studied Simon carefully. In many ways, his brother seemed more back on his feet this morning. He'd even seemed happy to take both his antibiotics and the painkillers! Luke was also relieved he'd been polite enough to Grace when she'd popped in. However, though Simon didn't appear to be in too much discomfort, he looked far from happy. Eating without any sense of enjoyment, he just stared at the table hardly even seeing the food. It was a long time since Luke had seen him look so despondent.
Luke knew the outcome of his brother's circumcision was bound to be pretty uncomfortable, and it was only yesterday he'd come out of hospital. From experience, he knew the whole thing was hard to get used to…maybe that was part of the reason he was so grumpy? Simon’s operation had come with plenty of stitches, and unlike Luke’s own, wasn't being protected in a plastic tube for a week. He'd lay odds that it must sting like hell. That itself had to be upsetting, especially if you weren't planning to be cut in the first place.
Maybe, if he could just get Simon talking—and could answer some of the questions he must have—he might just feel better about things? Luke gave it a go and ventured, "It's a bit stingy at first…but honestly, it settles down quite quickly.” Leaning his elbows on the table, he affected a knowing brotherly grin in an attempt to lighten the atmosphere.
All at once, Simon glared at him and his eyes narrowed. "I don't want to talk about it!" He ground out the words with stiff intensity.
“Don’t be like that. He’s just trying to help.” Their mum frowned, then quickly tried not let the mood spoil breakfast. “I was thinking we could go out later if you feel up to it. Maybe we could go out for lunch somewhere nice, then pop to the Mall—you probably need some new things anyway.”
Some better boxers would certainly help! Luke smirked to himself. Been there, done that!
Simon shook his head. “I don’t really need anything. Can I take that upstairs?” He pointed to the pancake that was nearly done and lifted his plate ready for it.
“I’m sure you can stay here for a few minutes,” she replied. “Just while you eat. Then why don't you sit out in the sunshine for a while? It'll be good for you. I could make a fresh pot of tea if you'd like."
Simon stood. "Actually I don’t think I can eat another. May I leave the table, please?”
Asking permission was a little unnecessary for breakfast, even around their table, though their mum nodded. "Of course you can, sweetheart. “
Seeing the look of disappointment on her face, Luke was annoyed. He tried to make up for it by patting his tummy. "Better give it to me then. I think I'm wasting away!" Normally it would have been enough to get a response and a bit of banter, but his brother remained distantly moody. Climbing to his feet, he shuffled out the door, heading back upstairs, leaving Luke and his mum to exchange concerned glances.
In fact, Simon spent most of the day in his room. He didn't even want any lunch, he said. He didn't seem to be coming to any harm, so they left him to it.
Later that afternoon, after their dad got home, Luke brought his laptop out onto the back deck. He was bored. He'd done enough schoolwork for that day, and he was ready for a break, but it was boring with Ryan out of town, and Simon was no company! He settled into a seat across from where his dad had started to leaf through the paper in his usual approach to winding down after a day at the office.
"How was work?" Luke asked as he waited for his laptop to come out of sleep mode..
His dad looked up. "So so. Lehmans are in trouble, so everyone's on edge."
"Lehmans? As in the bank?" Luke frowned. "Why? Did they do something wrong?"
His dad shrugged. "Yes and no." He left it at that.
Not particularly interested anyway, Luke went back to his laptop, which felt overly warm on his knees. It had turned out to be a beautiful day—in fact, way too warm now to be wearing jeans, he decided. Dumping his Mac on the seat, he stood, planning to go upstairs to change.
"How's your brother been?" His dad peered around the side of the paper again. "I assume he’s at Toby’s?"
"No, he’s here, but we've hardly seen him." Luke shrugged as his dad's eyebrows arched. "He’s spent most of the day in his room."
"In his room? Doing what?"
On any other occasion, being asked as a teen what you were doing alone in your room for extended periods of time could be awkward enough to make you blush. Just then, Luke hardly believed that, in the circumstances, his brother was polishing his broom handle! He shrugged again. "I dunno. He said he had work to do—or maybe he's just reading?"
"I’d better go see him." His dad made to rise, but his mobile chirped. Sitting again, he took the call. "Hey hon...yes, I'm home..."
As his dad got bogged down in a diary discussion with their mum, Luke murmured, "I'm just going up to change into some shorts. I'll check in on him if you want." Distracted, his dad nodded, then heaved himself up to go into the kitchen to look at a calendar.
Up in his room, Luke stripped off his baggy jeans and hunted out a pair of cooler cargos. Glancing through the bathroom, the door on Simon's side was shut, as it had been since breakfast. Maybe it was true, and he did have work to complete, though Luke doubted it. On the other hand, he certainly had more than enough on his plate, and was relieved to have finally completed the 'Mice and Men' essay that afternoon. However, if it were the same for Simon, then leaving it so late would be a first!
While there was a bowl at hand, he took a pee and stood over the toilet as a steady stream began to flow, rattling into the bowl in the direction he pointed it. As soon as it had dried up, he massaged the shaft, squeezing out the remnants and shaking off the last drops. As far as he was concerned, this had to be one of the big wins of being properly skinned back. Gone were the days where, meticulously, he had to spend time dabbing at his dick with tissues, knowing that if he didn't, then pee would gradually seep out, staining his underwear an odorous yellow. Now he even got the tongue-in-cheek humor about cut guys being better off washing their hands before they took a pee!
He paused to scrutinize himself. A couple of months had worked wonders, and gone were the days where he would climb the wall at the slightest unexpected scrape. He'd dried out now too, like they said it would; his glans was no longer the shiny indignant red that had first appeared out of the end of the Smartklamp. It had taken longer than he'd expected, but he was now completely dry to the touch—and he touched it quite a lot! In fact, it was a little too dry that day and he shook his head and smirked.
What a twat! What kind of asshole goes and gets his dickhead sunburnt? It was peeling and needed another covering of lotion.
Despite the minor irritation, he considered what hung there a thing of beauty; a nicely shaped mushroom head, not too big and not too small, the color faded back now to a much more natural—and comfortable—pale pink. It had to be as perfect as it could be and he thanked his lucky stars that he'd ended up with Dr. Tiberius.
Hanging soft and relaxed as he was just then, his shaft was two toned, the shaft skin at the base separated from his foreskin by a perfectly symmetrical, clean line. Even the scar was becoming less prominent.
When it came to his dick, the last few months had been a journey of discovery, and through it, he'd become aware how debilitated he'd previously been on the jerking front. Not being able to retract had—unknowingly—put him at a real disadvantage.
The problem was this: if you had a foreskin that you couldn't pull back, then all you got was some heavy handed, non-specific contact through a chunk of thick skin. A blunt approach for which there was no fine-tuning! Of course it had been fine at the time, but since his glans had come out to play, he'd spent many a delightful hour discovering no end of subtle feelings that could be coaxed out of different areas.
The remaining skin moved readily enough just then, but he knew from regular practice that it would become drum tight when aroused.
What was there not to like?
It not only looked awesome, but with the ready supply of lube his mum kept on tap, it felt flaming outrageous! The only problem was clearing up the mess afterwards!
Simon might be a bit pissed off now, but if his brother's circumcision turned out anything like his own, there was no way he'd be disappointed! This was the conversation he and his brother needed; like the numerous times in the past when Simon hadn't hesitated to tell him what was going on, or ask his advice. Nobody liked seeing Simon like this when he was normally so gentle-hearted and full of fun. Luke was still convinced he was probably worried, and just needed to hear that it was going to be okay.
He studied the door to Simon's room and chewed his lip. Maybe he needed to make more of an effort considering he had told his parents to leave the moody brother in his hands. He tapped on a door that, until now, would hardly ever have been closed this time of day.
"Si?" There was no answer, so he tapped again, discomforted that he no longer felt at ease to just knock and enter.
Again there was no answer, and he was about to go away when it opened. Luke was taken aback. The impression he got from the face in front of him was of simmering anger.
"What?" Simon glowered at him through lidded eyes.
Looking past him, there were no textbooks open at his desk, just a reading book on the bed. Maybe Si was bored too, and maybe he could get him outside into some fresh air?
"I just wondered if you want to do something?" he said. "I don't know about you, but I've had enough school stuff for today. I was thinking of going out."
A knowing grin would have been a perfectly normal response for his brother, but this time Simon just studied him warily as though looking for a hidden meaning, before shaking his head. "I can't. Not today. Sorry."
"Not with mum...just us," Luke said quickly as the door began to close. In fact, with his own car, they could do anything and go anywhere if his brother wanted. "We could still go shopping if you want. I know you needed some stuff."
Luke put on his best brotherly solicitous look and hoped Simon would take the bait. He even wondered about bringing out the awkward crab humor to see if he could get a smile out of him. However, the face at the door remained darkly brooding. In fact, if anything, it grew darker.
"I don't need anything," said Simon. "And I've got stuff to do."
Luke tried one last time. "What about a game on the Xbox? We haven't played for ages." He hardly wanted to be inside, but the soundproofed basement was a great place to talk if his brother wanted a bit of privacy.
Apparently he didn't, as Simon shook his head. "I can't...not today. Some other time." He closed the door.
Luke gave up. If Si wanted to sulk in his room all day and be a dickhead, that was his problem! He went back downstairs.
Out on the back deck, his dad was still stuck behind his paper. Settling into his seat, Luke reopened his laptop, and with nothing better to occupy his mind, he tapped, 'Elliott Carter' into Google. Silly really, and it was just a spur of the moment thing. His mum hadn't got around to finding any contact number yet, but Elliott was still on his mind.
Google returned a long list, but he wasn't really surprised when the search returned nothing that sounded or looked anything like the Elliott he'd recently met. Having started, he decided to poke a little further and typed, 'Benedict Carter DHL'.
Whooaaaa - bingo!
That was more like it, as the first few entries seemed pretty promising. He hit the images tab and smirked at one of the first images showing a young family—and an even younger looking Elliott Carter—linked to an article that was hiding in some DHL staff directory.
Holy Cow - look at that! He can't have been much more than seven!
In the picture too, a younger version of Rose Carter was holding a cheeky faced toddler that had to be Sam. There was apparently no little sister yet.
"What did you think of the Carters?"
"The Carters?" His dad peered over the top of the newsprint. "Why do you ask?"
Luke turned his screen and his dad grinned at the image of the typical 'proud father surrounded by young family' pose. As he turned the screen around again, his dad said, "So, did you see Simon when you were up there?"
"Yep. I asked him if he wanted to go out, but..." Luke shrugged. "He's still in a mood. Just leave him."
His dad sighed. “I’d better go see how he is.” He folded the paper and climbed to his feet.
Luke watched him go. Good luck with that!
After flicking through a few more links that offered little more on the elusive Elliott, Luke jumped across to Facebook and typed in 'Elliott Carter' under the name search. Way too many Elliott Carters he decided, and none of them apparently living anywhere near Roswell, Atlanta. Bored, he shut the lid, shuffled the laptop onto the low table, put his feet up next to it, and closed his eyes.
His eyes blinked open, an indeterminate length of time later, to the sound of a voice speaking his name.
"Luke..." Not loud, but it carried a certain urgency.
"Toby?" He sat up and looked around the deck. His dad had gone. Where to, he had no idea. He yawned and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and mumbled, "What are you doing here?"
It was a stupid question he realized at once. Toby could only be looking for Simon. He guessed he must have sneaked in around the side of the house, perhaps hoping to surprise Si on the deck.
"Mom said Si had to go to hospital." The tone seemed guarded, and Toby's eyes flicked towards the open door of the kitchen. "Is he okay? Is he here?"
Luke wasn't sure what to say to the guy. The fact that Toby was his brother's boyfriend wasn't something he was meant to know—and now probably wasn't the time to let on—so he kept it superficial. "He's fine. A bit tired, that's all."
"Was he hurt or something?"
Luke struggled with how much to explain as, across from him, Toby fretted. He stuck with what his mum had said to Grace, and tried to make it sound inconsequential. "It was just a urology thing that he was being treated for. It got a bit nasty."
"Nasty?" It was a bad choice of words as Toby looked uptight and his eyes flicked to the kitchen once again.
Luke raised his hands. "I'm not sure about all of it. Some medical stuff. I'm sure he'd explain it better," he added, taking the easy route.
"Is he here now?" Toby's voice speeded up slightly. "Can I go up and see him?"
Toby was already beginning to move towards the kitchen when Luke stood quickly to intercept him. "Hang on," he said.
Toby stopped, his face indecisive.
On any other day, Luke would have just happily waved him up the stairs. The guy wasn't exactly a stranger at their place, after all. Today, with Simon in such a weird mood, he wasn't sure. Maybe it was better to tread a bit more cautiously.
"The thing is, Toby, he's been sleeping a lot since he got back from the hospital. I'm not really sure he's up to visitors today." He tried to sound reasonable. "What about coming over tomorrow? Or I could get him to give you a call?"
Toby looked hunted. "Can’t you just check?"
He’d rarely seen the guy looking so edgy, and he sounded so pitiable that Luke relented. "Tell you what," he offered. "I'll just pop up and see if he's awake and if he's up for a visitor."
Maybe it would actually be good for his brother? Time with his boyfriend might be just what the doctor ordered!
He left Toby in the kitchen and padded upstairs. At the door to his brother's room, he tapped softly. There was no answer, so he opened it a notch, not wanting to disturb Simon if he really was sleeping.
The blinds were shut and the bedroom was gloomy and stuffy. Simon was lying on his side on his bed, apparently reading a book by the light of his bedside lamp. At least he seemed to be awake.
Luke opened the door further. "Toby's here. Shall I send him up?"
"No." Simon didn't look up, but his tone was unexpectedly tense. "I don't want to see anyone."
"But it's Toby. I think he's just worried for you, that's all."
Simon looked up and Luke was taken aback by the anger that thundered in his face. "Are you fucking deaf?"
Luke flared. Well fuck you too! Jeesh, what was his problem? Definitely a good call to keep Toby out of the way.
He was about to pull the door too with rather more force than he had opened it, when a voice burst out at his shoulder.
"Si - it's me!"
Luke jumped. Holy crap. So much for waiting in the kitchen!
"Go away!" Simon sat up quickly, and glared at the half open door.
"Can't I just come in?" Toby sounded fretful. "I just wanted to see how you were..." He crowded at the door and it was only because Luke had a firm hold of the handle that he didn't push past.
"Just leave me alone!" Simon seemed as determined to keep him out, and, against his better judgment, Luke sided with his brother.
"Sorry Toby—I don't know what's got into him." He shrugged and shut the door, then steered Toby down the stairs to the front door. "He's in a crap mood today. I think the operation knocked him about a bit."
"Operation?" Toby appeared troubled. For a moment, Luke thought he might start asking more questions.
"Well, could you just get him to call me? I only wanted to know if he was alright." Toby took one last look up the stairs and then opened the door to leave.
"Sure." Luke felt so sorry for the guy. He tried to sound positive, even though Simon was being a stupid fat prick! "I'm sure he'll be back on his feet by tomorrow."
He let Toby out of the front door and watched him bike away. Then he came straight back upstairs, his agitation growing with every step. He pushed open the bedroom door and closed it behind him.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" With their dad somewhere in the house, he kept his voice really low. "I thought you two were meant to be together? You're treating him like shit!"
Simon wheeled from where he'd been staring out of the window and his face twisted into an ugly scowl. "And what the fuck has it got to do with you?" He crossed to his bed where he snatched up his book.
It just made no sense. He would have almost said that the two of them had had a bust up, but from what Grace had said the day before, they'd all been fine on Sunday. Si had even made Yorkshire puddings for God's sake! No, it had to be that he was pissed off at being operated on, and everyone was going to know about it. And be made to suffer!
"It was your own fault you know." Becoming impatient now, it was way time to offer some home truths. "You try to blame the rest of us, but you brought it on yourself!"
Simon's expression became a knot of anger.
"What the fuck do you know?" He spat the words in a tight fury. "I wasn't the one who..."
"Oh right - blame the hospital now!" Luke interrupted, fed up with him. "It's always someone else's fault with you!"
He grabbed the door handle and made to leave. "Mum and Dad did what they thought was right, and like it or not, even Doctor Tiberius thought it was the best thing. So just GET OVER IT!" Slamming the door, he stalked down the stairs.
So much for the softly, softly approach!