Danny packed his bag not knowing what to expect. He wasn’t like Martin’s family, he didn’t have wealth or a fancy anything . . . he took a deep breath. Martin was his friend and a close one. As long as he was with Martin he would be fine.
He cycled over and looked up in awe at the house, it never failed to impress him.
“Hey Danny, ready to go?” Martin walked over to him, towards the car.
“Yeah.” Danny responded. He looked down at his bike.
“Oh, just put it inside the house.” Martin said with a smile. He was glad that Danny was coming along with him, he hated family events and having Danny there would make things easier.
Martin’s mum came out, as well dressed as always. “You ready Martin?” she asked. She noticed Danny awkwardly standing there and looked confused. “Oh hi Danny, were off for the weekend . . .”
“Yeah, Danny’s coming with us, remember?” Martin said. He couldn’t believe how rude he was being to his closest friend. Why did she have to be so irritating?
“Oh, yeah. Anyway, Martin let’s get going!” she snapped.
There was little talk on the way and Danny was beginning to feel more and more nervous, what if Martin’s family hated him? What if he said something wrong, he didn’t want to make the wrong impression!
They arrived at a villa and Martin led Danny to his room. “You don’t mind sharing do you? I’ll make sure you’re comfortable on the floor.” He said apologetically.
“Nah, it’s cool. It’s not like we haven’t shared before.” Danny said with a laugh. He really looking forward to a night on the floor, but it wasn’t like he’d expected to be given a bed.
“Let’s go down to the pool! your going to love it!” Martin said with a brilliant smile.
Danny followed Martin down to the pool and after a few races went to get out. Suddenly Martin grabbed his arm and pulled him back in. the dark haired boy laughed as he was pulled into the pool with a splash! Next was Martin’s turn. “oh no you fucking don’t!” Danny said as he pulled him back in and wrestled him underwater.
The two boys came up laughing and Martin’s sister, Emma rolled her eyes and got up from where she had been sunbathing.
“Ooh we should get ready for the meal!” Martin said.
Danny followed Martin to the room. he put on his smart trousers and was buttoning up his shirt as Martin came in.
“Do you have an iron?” Danny asked, looking down as his wrinkled shirt.
Martin laughed. “Just borrow one of mine mate.” He said handing Danny a pale blue shirt which seemed to match his own.
“Thanks mate.” Danny said taking of his shirt and putting on Martin’s. it felt good against his skin.
. . . . . . .
Everyone had assembled downstairs when Martin’s grandma turned up. Samantha, Martin’s mum welcomed her in and everyone exchanged hugs and kisses, a formality Danny
wasn’t used to. Everyone watched as Samantha handed her mother-in-law a drink.
“What is this?” she asked.
“Well there was a mix up with the order and they don’t open till twelve, can you believe that?” Smantha explained, she knew that this was going to be an issue.
Emma came up behind Danny.
“Sickening, isn’t it?” She said.
“What is?” Danny asked.
“The groveling, but she holds the key to the fortune . . .” Emma walked away and Danny looked confused. But, what would he know about money and fortune, he’d had to fight for everything he’d ever had.
. . . . . . . .
Sitting down for dinner, the food was served and instinctively Danny began eating with his hands, while everyone else used knifes and forks.
Martin’s grandmother turned to Martin. “Switch places with Danny, I want to talk to him.”
Martin stood up and half sighed, “Danny switch with me.” He said.
Danny stood up, was this normal? He looked around at everyone, apparently not. He sat down and found himself like the woman, she seemed more real than anyone else in her family.
. . . . . .
After the meal and the present giving, Samantha pulled Danny aside.
“Look after Martin, he needs you.” She said.
Danny nodded. “He can do it Mrs Taylor. I know he can!”
Mrs Taylor did not look convinced. “I’m counting on you.” She said as she drank her sherry and walked away.
. . . . . . .
That evening as Martin and Danny got ready fro bed, Danny thought about everything that had happened today, he was even more confident about the nationals now, then it would be him and Martin at the commonwealth games together! He thought about him and Martin as he undressed and got into bed.
“Were both going to the nats, and qualify for the commonwealths. Deal?” Danny asked holding his hand out.
“Deal.” Martin responded taking Danny’s hand. He looked at the determination and excitement in his friends eyes and search for something he couldn’t qiet grasp. “Let’s get some rest.”
Martin moved around the bed and turned off the lamp. Danny stopped and watched as Martin dropped his boxers revealing his smooth ass, Danny looked away, but glanced back looking up and down his back. Stop! He told himself, he shouldn’t think like that, not about Martin.
“it’s going to be me and you at the commonwealth games, then the Olympics!” Danny said excitedly in bed.
“We’ll need to get some shut eye then.” Martin stated, unenthusiastically, his focus elsewhere.
Danny shut his eyes but opened them as he heard rustling. He looked and saw Martin erect penis through the bed sheets. He felt uncomfortable but the more he watched, Martin breathing, the way throat moved, his hands quick movements . . .
Danny had to satisfy himself, he reach for his own cock and sighed. Why was he doing this, he was a guy. He like girls didn’t he . . . Was he gay? why did he only realise that now? why? And for Martin, his best friend! But was he? What? Everything suddenly became very clear to Danny, things made sense for the first time.
It turned into a race between the boys, their shallow breathing and low moans, the only sounds in the room.
Martin licked his lips after he was done. He stopped as Martin spoke. “I don’t want you to go back to your old swim team, I don’t want you to quit.” He said.
Danny rolled over and pretended to sleep. What did that mean? He still hadn’t decided what he was doing, but now he wanted to stay. . . but was that just for Martin? Or for himself? But he didn’t want to swim butterfly . . . Danny needed time to think.
. . . . . .
A few later, Martin Taylor looked at the scoreboard, he didn’t qualify . . . it was over. He’d lost everything, he was a disappointment and he knew it. Martin got out of the pool and went to shower, he felt like his world had turned black. He in the shower, tears rolling down his cheeks. “I've failed! I've lost it all!” he said. he was bitter and angry and everything his mum thought he was.
Danny came in concerned, he knew that Martin was not alright. He rubbed his shoulder.
“I’m a fucking failure!” Martin said.
“You’re not.” Danny said.
Danny pulled the blonde haired boy into a hug and let him cry, he knew that all he needed was comforting right now. He wanted to tell him that it was going to be okay, he could train, they would get there together!
Martin pushed him away. “I’m fine leave me alone!” he said deadpan.
“No I’m not leaving you!” Danny said meaning every word. He didn’t ever want to leave Martin alone, he just didn’t know how to tell him . . .
“JUST FUCK OFF!” Martin said.
Danny left but glanced back at Martin concerned.
. . . . . . .
It was the nationals and Danny was angry, 100m freestyle and he got fourth. Fourth! He was better than that! he should’ve been first! He stormed into the changing room, followed by his coach.
“You need to calm down, focus on the butterfly.” His coach said. Danny eyes were storm clouds. “If you don’t your going to lose.”
“Coach is right.” a familiar voice said. Martin appeared around the door of the changing room. “You should listen to him.”
“What are you doing here?” Danny asked happily, his anger disappearing.
“we had a deal right?” Martin said with a smile.
“You saw the race? I was shit!” Danny sat down defeated.
“Yeah, you were!” Martin sat beside him “But if you win, we all win!”
Danny turned to Martin “And what if I don’t win?”
“Do you think you can?”
“I don’t know . . .”
Martin looked directly at Danny with all the confidence that he could muster, it might be over for him, but he knew that Danny could do this. Danny searched for something and found it. “Yeah.”he said know he was right. as long as he had Martin he could do anything!
Martin stood up. “Good, then get stuck into it!”
Danny hugged Martin. “Thanks for being here.” he said.
“Of course.” Martin said. he wished that he was swimming alongside Danny, but it was over for him . . . dark thoughts filled the back of his mind, he didn’t know how mcuh longer he could do this!
. . . . .
As he swam, he was swimming for Martin. He found his peace, his perfect moment when he and the water became one and he pushed through! He rose from the water, his eyes on the scoreboard. First place! He raised his arm in triumph. ‘a world record’ he couldn’t believe it. He was ecstatic!
Danny was overjoyed as he jumped out of the pool with everyone cheering him on. A big hug from his coach and he turned around and saw him. Martin had run all the way down to the pool to greet him.
He was pulled into an even closer hug as Martin congratulated him.
“I did it for you.” He said. their foreheads were practically touching. Everything was perfect, this moment was his! His teammate picked him up but his eyes were still on Martin. He looked up to the crowd and raised his arms feeling the adoration of the crowd, it didn’t get any better than this!
. . . . . .
Months of tension and distance between him and Martin followed. He changed coaches, got sponsorship, but nothing felt the same . . . . Danny didn’t know why! He missed his old coach and team, but if he was going to win . . .
Then the day came and got dropped by VIS. He felt awful, angry, he was best! But he needed a coach and with one month till the commonwealth games, he needed his old coach.
Back in training, he felt like he was home. He felt better, it just felt right. the times of trainign weren’t nice but Danny wanted gold! And he was willing to do anything to get there.
Danny got out of the pool a few days into training.
“stopping so soon?” a familiar voice said. Danny smiled knowing exactly who it was. The flame in his heart re-lit, after the months of tension, there he was, right in front of him. everything felt good again.
Showering off after the race, the two boys dressed together, just like old times.
“You should come to the Commonwealth games.” Danny said.
“What, just go and watch you swim?” Martin said.
“yeah, like a road trip. You and me at the commonwealth fucking games. It’s the way it should have been.” Danny said. “You and me. Look, I need you there.” He needed Martin more than he wanted to admit.
“I still wake up at four, half way out of bed before i even realise. That’s right, it’s over.” Martin said.
Danny was hurt to hear him say that and wasn't sure if he was talking about their friendship of his career. he knew that Martin could still qualify and then they could be there together, him and Martin, Martin and him. his heartbeat fastened as he stepped closer to him. “It doesn’t have to be.”
“Okay.” Martin said.
Danny looked up excitedly. “You’ll come?”
“Yeah,” Martin said.
Suddenly, impulsively Danny kissed Martin. He pulled away slightly, shock at his own actions, but kissed him again, he didn’t want this moment to stop, ever. His heart was aflame as he felt Martin’s soft lips on his own.
They stopped as they were distracted by a sound. Danny stepped away . . . He had kissed him! but what now? They would see each other at the Commonwealth games, he was sure of it. Him and Martin!
. . . . . .
“I’m sorry Martin’s not coming.” Mrs Taylor Told Danny the night before the biggest race of his life.
The words rang through his mind as he swam, Martin wasn’t there. He loved Martin and he wasn’t there. He hadn’t even told him himself . . . Danny was angry and upset, he felt deflated. He couldn’t focus, he was slow. Slower then he had even been!
He screamed under the water, all his anguish, his pain. He’d lost his title, his friend, his career. Nothing mattered anymore! He was pulled from the pool and colapsed crying. He had shattered and it was over . . . is this what Martin felt? What did he matter now? he hated him . . .
. . . . .
Back in Australia and a few years later, a drunk Danny entered the Taylor’s home. he was sick of this country and this fucking Olympians. HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE! He was good enough . . .
“Danny can you please leave?” Emma asked kindly. He was a good man with a big heart and she knew that he loved Martin, she just didn’t want him to do anything stupid.
The man of the hour walked over. He wasn’t leaving now! Danny shut the door and walked over to his first love, drunk beyond his limit and tired of the lying.
“You should leave, you’re embarrassing yourself.” Martin said quietly.
“What about you?” Danny asked. “You’re just like your father!”
“So you didn’t make the Olympics, get over it!” Martin walked away but Danny pulled him back.
“We were supposed to be there together. That was the plan, you wanted it as much as I did!” Danny couldn’t believe how much he had changed. This wasn’t the same Martin that he’d fallen in love with.
“I got over it.” Martin said bitterly. He didn’t need the reminder that he was a failure.
“I needed you there, I needed you!” Danny wanted to cry at Martin’s betrayal.
The whole party had turned to them now. Emma tried to get him to leave one more time.
“I fucking loved you!” he said bitterly. He was angry at himself, everything that he’d put himself through for Martin and it ended in nothing . . . He would have done anything for him!
They noticed the eyes on them. Martin pushed Danny away. “Piss off.” He said angrily.
Danny went o get another drink and Martin’s fiance asked him to leave, he hated her more. he pushed her away the glass in his hand. Martin grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground, just like he had all those years ago in the pool . . .
Danny stepped away. “YOU FUCKING LOSER! That’s what you are, that’s all you’ve ever been!” Martin yelled. Danny took a deep breathe, rage pulsing through him. “NOT GOOD ENOUGH!”
That was the final straw for Danny, he had fought for everything and this liar was calling him that? he swung his arm to punch forgetting about the glass in his hand! He struck Martin square on the cheek. Someone screamed as Martin cried out in pain.
Danny stepped back, he’d fucked up! he looked at the blood, he’d fucked up badly.
He let the police take him away, he didn’t care anymore. He’d hurt the person that he cared most about. He cried in the car, there was nothing else he could do now.
. . . . . .
The next months passed like empty space. nothing mattered, he felt nothing. Danny wasn’t there anymore, he wasn’t alive. One day after getting no sleep, he decided to do the right thing. He pulled out his medal and scratched out two word on paper ‘For Theo’. His brother could be the hero now, instead of him.
He jumped out of his window and walked till he reached the motorway, he stared at the cars. They all seemed so slow . . . then he saw it. a big huge truck. He took a deep breath and with tears in his eyes, he shut them and he stepped into the road.
When he opened them he found himself sitting on the ground, alive. He opened hi eyes and looked up and saw Reagan . . . she had stopped him! she’d saved him even after all the shit he'd put his family through.
. . . . . .
After that he was alive and determined to stay that way. He fell in love with swimming again then lost his Olympic dream with the death of his coach. But he wanted to make things right with everyone, his family, his old girlfriend and especially Martin. He wanted to talk to Martin again, he still cared about their friendship, even if that’s all he got.
At the funeral, he went up to Martin. He saw the scar that he caused and knew that he could never take back what he’d done, but he could try his best to make amends.
“hey. I’m sorry for hurting you and you’re family and I hope that one day you’ll forgive me.” He said meaning every word.
A moment of silence between the former friends and Martin shrugged and walked away, leaving Danny hoping that he done the right thing. He never wanted to stop trying to do the right thing. He was never an Olympian, never a champion, but that didn’t matter anymore. He was never meant to be one, because he always was his mother’s champion and now all he wanted was to make his family proud.