Things Ewan and Christian don't have in common:
1. Christian is English. Ewan has been to London before. Twice, to visit Uncle Denis. Mostly Uncle Denis comes here, because that's where the rest of the family is, too, but they all went down there one summer, Ewan and Colin and Mum and Dad, and last year Ewan went by himself on the train and spent the week between Christmas and New Year getting lost every time he stepped outside.
That hasn't really got anything to do with Christian, except that Christian is English and Ewan is not, but he's been to England.
Christian is English and he's lived in Wales (though he doesn't remember anything about it, he says, because they moved when he was two), the States, England, Portugal, and now Scotland. The longest Ewan has been anywhere but Crieff is two weeks. He's been to Edinburgh a lot, though, but that doesn't sound very impressive anymore.
2. Christian's mum is a clown. Not like a funny person, but an actual clown. In the circus. Ewan's mum is a teacher, which is pretty boring, really. Ewan's not sure he'd want a clown for his mum (it's kind of weird), but at least it's something different. Somehow even Uncle Denis being in Star Wars seems quite ordinary beside that.
3. Christian is tall. This means he doesn't get his arse kicked for being English or for his mum being a clown. Ewan has got his arse kicked for being Ewan.
He's got broad shoulders, too. Christian, that is, not Ewan. Ewan is skinny as well as short. But Christian has got nice shoulders, and a nice arse, too, though Ewan is careful to never get caught looking.
4. Christian plays rugby. This also helps with the not getting beaten up. Ewan doesn't like rugby. Or football or cricket or any sport, really. Colin does, though. Colin's captain of the rugby team, and the cricket team, and is brilliant at pretty much everything. Colin is someone else Ewan doesn't have much in common with.
Ewan watches them out on the pitch. He never used to watch rugby games before, but he has a good view from here, close enough to see the way Christian's shorts pull tight across his arse when he runs.
Christian comes round at the weekends sometimes, for a game of catch or a bit of football with Colin, and Ewan answers the door and pretends he's never thought about having Christian's dick in his mouth.
It's not enough that Colin is captain of the rugby and cricket teams and gets top marks in everything and is head boy this year. Now he's mates with Christian, who is in Ewan's year, and so should be Ewan's friend if anyone's.
It's really not fair.
5. Christian plays guitar. This is also not fair, because why should Christian be good at sport and good at music, when music is all Ewan's got? Ewan plays the French horn at school and he drums in the pipe band, and he used to love it. He still loves it, really, if he's honest with himself, but it seems a bit childish now, compared to something like the guitar.
He starts hinting about wanting a proper drum set before Christmas, but he ends up getting a Nintendo instead. That's almost better than drums, even if he does have to share it with Colin.
He gets the drums for his sixteenth birthday, all set up in the living room when he stumbles down for breakfast half-asleep and still in his pyjamas. It's the best birthday present ever.
The next time Christian comes round, Ewan shows him the drums, which got moved to the garage after the first day. Ewan doesn't mind; he likes feeling like he's got his own space, even if it is a bit cramped with boxes and bikes and old junk.
Christian asks if he can have a go and Ewan says yeah, all right, but Christian's bound to be brilliant at it and Ewan immediately wishes he'd said no. He's not, though. He's not even as good as Ewan, and Ewan's not great, either. He gives Christian a demonstration, just easy stuff, still not used to playing more than one drum at a time, but Christian's impressed.
Ewan tries not to think about Christian naked. He probably sounds completely daft always er-ing and trailing off, but eventually he manages to bring up the idea of starting a band. He's been thinking about it, he tells Christian.
Actually it just came to him a few minutes ago. He'd really been thinking about Christian mostly, and about sex. Usually Christian and sex together, but he doesn't tell Christian any of that because he doesn't want to get his arse kicked and this is about starting a band, anyway, which is totally unrelated to having sex with Christian.
They're interrupted by Colin then, and Christian says to Ewan, yeah, all right, before he leaves, and see ya, and Ewan doesn't know if that means they're starting a band or not.
But Christian comes round after school a couple of days later, guitar slung over his back, so maybe they are after all.
Ewan was in the middle of Super Mario Bros. when Christian showed up. He has five lives left and he uses them all quickly because Christian is sitting next to him on the floor, both of them cross-legged, their knees knocking together. Ewan was doing well, furthest he's ever got, but now pressing forward and the jump button at the same time is apparently too complicated. But they start another game after that, two-player mode, because Christian's never played Nintendo before.
They have lemonade later, and biscuits, and Colin comes downstairs for a bit and Ewan is afraid maybe Christian will remember he's not actually Ewan's friend and go off and do something with Colin. But Christian just says fuck when he dies again, and has another biscuit, and Colin goes back upstairs without really talking to either of them.
The guitar case never gets opened and they never make it out to the garage, but that's okay. Ewan's not sure what's involved in starting a band anyway and he's still not very good at the drums yet. He's not very good at not thinking about Christian's knee pressed against his, either.
One thing he is very good at is wanking quietly. Colin's bed is separated from his by a thin wall and his bedsprings creak at the slightest movement, so he has to keep still. He's used to it. Nights and mornings, he wriggles his pyjama bottoms down, bites his lip and holds his breath and thinks about Christian naked. Or how he imagines Christian would look naked anyway.
Christian comes round a lot more often now, and sometimes they go out to the garage and talk about music, and a lot of times they stay in the house and play Nintendo or watch the telly. Once or twice Christian and Colin play football in the back garden, but Colin is always holed up in his room these days, revising for his upcoming exams.
Colin is going to uni next year, and he'll be brilliant somewhere else and Ewan will still be stupid and unbrilliant here, and he will still be Colin's little brother.
Ewan doesn't care about his own exams. He is not revising. He is doodling in his notebook and not listening to his teachers. He is getting better at the drums and beating Super Mario Bros. He is still playing the French horn at school and drumming in the pipe band. He is wanking quietly while thinking about an English boy whose mother is a clown.
Today he is in the garage with Christian, who is showing him how to play guitar. Christian stands behind him and positions his hands, his chest against Ewan's back. He's so close Ewan can feel his breath when he talks. His breath is hot, or maybe Ewan's cheeks are. Maybe both.
He's in the middle of saying something Ewan isn't listening to when Ewan turns his head just so and kisses him. He freezes and Ewan thinks fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. But then he's kissing Ewan back, with tongue and everything, and the angle hurts Ewan's neck, but it's brilliant.
It's weird after that, but not a bad weird. He plays the chords Christian shows him and hums a song he's making up as he goes. He says they should practise more and not just play Nintendo and Christian says yeah, all right, and sits down next to him. Their thighs touch. Ewan wouldn't mind doing this for real. Being in a band. It's something he's good at.