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You couldn't lock the bathroom doors from the outside. I fully
expected Danni to come storming in with murder in mind ... but she
didn't. In fact, they left me alone the rest of the night.
This is not to say I couldn't hear them, but it was strange, because
they honestly didn't sound any different than they had on other
nights. I mean I could hear voices, but not what was being said,
and those voices kept speaking until I finally fell into an exhausted
sleep. They obviously hadn't been traumatized into silence, but
that didn't mean they would still tolerate my existence.
It had been weird. It was still
weird, because I couldn't figure out how to feel about it. What
was arguably one of the best things that had ever happened to me had
... happened to me.
There wasn't a guy in school who wouldn't give his left nut to get
Danni Nelson to jerk him off. But that hadn't happened like
all those guys - including me - would have dreamed about it. Yes,
her hand had stroked my rod and made me spurt, but there was a down
side, in terms of the girls probably never speaking to me again, and
maybe hating me ... including Danni Nelson.
There was no way I could face them in the morning. I had heard
our parents come home around three, but I skipped breakfast and just
stayed in bed. Since I didn't get to sleep until maybe four, I
was able to sleep until ten. Even then, I tiptoed around and
listened before I went into a room, just to be sure. It was
pretty clear the girls were gone, though, so I relaxed and had a bowl
I had slept in the shorts, and I figured they probably needed washing,
so I went back to my room to get dressed. Things were feeling
Phee was sitting on my bed, waiting for me.
She was dressed for the day, which made me feel kind of naked.
That had never happened before. She had her hands in her lap and
had been looking at them or something because she looked up as I came
into the room. I had no idea what to say to her. I had
stopped when I saw her, and we just looked at each other for what
seemed like a long time.
She finally spoke. "You okay?"
I was astonished. She was worried about me?
"Yes!" I said, a little too eagerly, most likely. "Are you okay?"
"I don't know," she said.
My heart sank.
"I'm sorry," I said.
"What for?" Her face had a look on it I couldn't quite figure out.
"What for?" I was astonished again. "I like Danni. And now she'll probably never speak to me again."
That look persisted.
"I didn't know you liked her," she said.
The way she said "liked" rang a bell in my head. She was using it
in a different way than I had used it. She had used it the way
kids at school used it, which injected it with all kinds of extra
"Not like that," I said. "I like all your friends. Sometimes you guys are a pain in the ass, but I wasn't complaining. You know what I mean?"
She neither nodded nor shook her head.
"Mom and Dad are going to kill me when they see those pictures," she said.
So that was what that look was
all about. What I was seeing must be a version of my
sister's defeated look. That was rare, because she was rarely
"They'll never see them," I said. Now she looked interested.
"Think about it. They don't surf those sites, and probably none
of their friends do either. It's the first time I saw them, and I
hang around pages like that all the time."
I blinked. I had just admitted to my sister that I routinely went to porn sites.
"What I mean is that there are thousands of sites, and your picture is
only on one of them." I almost said "so far," but managed to keep
that inside. I knew how I had seen the same pictures on hundreds
of sites. If a girl looked good, her picture proliferated all
over the place as people reblogged it. Even then, though, the
older a picture was, the less likely it was to appear on a recent
month's page. Unless, of course, it was a really good picture. And, come to think of it, Phee's was a really good one. I decided not to tell her all that too.
"So it's true," she said. "You look at pictures while you ... um ... do that."
It took me a few seconds to get my voice to work. Then I tried to make it sound really casual, like it was really unimportant. "Sometimes, I guess."
"Is that why you print them?"
Even a blind man could see she was referring to the fact that I had printed her picture. I tried to reassure her, as much as a pervert could reassure anybody.
"That's the first time I ever printed anything! Honest! I've never printed any pictures before this!"
She stared at me for the longest time, as it slowly dawned on me that,
based on my actions (printing the pictures) and what I had just said,
that made those particular pictures really special somehow.
"I only did it to show you!" I said. "I mean I wanted you to know
how stupid it was to put them on there, and I figured that if I had
them it would shock you into not doing that any more."
"We didn't put them online," she said.
"Yeah, but I didn't know that," I said. "I mean there are
thousands of pictures that girls took of themselves and it's obvious
they put them on there. They're laughing and joking and ..." I
thought of Frankie, licking Beth's split. "Other stuff," I
finished weakly. "Girls do it all the time. When I saw the pictures it was only
natural I thought you guys had done it on purpose too. I mean, that time I
caught you taking your own picture ... I didn't think about it then, but it's like the ones I see on
those sites all the time."
She sighed, and her shoulders dropped. "I just wanted to see what
I would look like. I wasn't going to show it to anybody.
But it doesn't matter now. They're there, and they'll never go
away. And if Mom or Dad or any of their friends ever see them,
I'll be grounded until I'm thirty."
She stood up, and started for the bathroom door, which was probably how she had gotten into my room in the first place.
"Anyway," she said, looking over her shoulder. "Thanks."
"Thanks?" My voice must have sounded shocked, because she stopped and turned around.
"Yeah," she said. "For not being a dickhead about it, and for showing us what you ... um ... showed us."
"You're serious?" I gasped. "You're actually glad I did that?"
"You impressed the crap out of the girls," she said, smiling for the
first time that morning. "If this was one of those stupid
superhero movies you love so much, my next line would be 'You have
taken the first step toward immortality!'"
I stared at her, dumbfounded. "You mean Danni's not pissed at me?"
"Danni?" Her eyebrows went up. "Not at all. She couldn't stop talking about it. Even Frankie said it was the coolest thing she ever saw, and I'm not completely convinced Frankie even likes boys."
I thought of that picture of Frankie and Beth again, and spoke without thinking it through first.
Phee stared at me for a few seconds. That look was back on her
face again ... the one I had thought was involved with her feeling
defeated. But that was all wrong for the current situation, so I
"Oh, Beth likes boys," she said, her voice quite firm. "You'll find that out at the next sleepover."
And with that she turned and left my room.
Now, I don't know about you, but my conversation with Phee convinced me
I was golden. Hadn't she said the girls thought I was the next
best thing since sliced bread? Not in those words, of course, but
you know what I mean. And what did that comment mean about the
next sleepover mean? My fantasies went wild.
So I was absolutely confused when I was completely and irrevocably ignored by the whole bunch ... including
my sister. You'd have thought I didn't even exist. At
school, I saw Denise and walked up to her and said "Hi," and she acted
like she hadn't heard me. She brushed on by me without even
making eye contact. Frankie was next. She was standing with
some friends, and before I could say anything at all to her she said "I
gotta go," and went the other way. It wasn't until I got home
from school that my sister sidled up to me and said "Don't talk to the
girls at school, stupid!" Then she walked away. She spoke
to me in a civil manner at supper, in front of the parents, but other
than that she steered clear of me completely.
I was mystified.
It went on for two weeks. I finally decided that they'd thought
about things and changed their minds. Girls do that, you
know. So I was equally mystified when, on a Friday morning as we
were waiting for the bus, Phee said "Don't make any plans for
tonight." She timed that for when the bus doors opened, and of
course she sat in the back with her friends, so I couldn't talk to her.
I finally cornered her at home after school and asked her what was going on.
"Sleepover," she said, her voice light and airy.
"Tonight?" I was shocked for some reason. "Here?"
She gave me a perfectly normal sister-to-brother look and said "Well duh, Einstein."
I didn't feel much like Einstein.
"So what am I supposed to do?" I asked.
"Nothing," she said. "We'll come get you when we're ready for you."
When you're seventeen, and a guy, it's pretty normal to feel like
you're superior to girls a year or two younger than you. I don't
mean that in a bad way. You just feel older and wiser. And
yes, I know how stupid that sounds to somebody who's actually grown up,
but that's the way it is when you're a kid.
Now, add to that the fact that four popular girls are eager to get you
alone in your sister's room, and that past behavior suggests future
benefits, and a guy might get a little overconfident.
It turned out that it was Frankie who came through my bathroom door to
get me and, as I might have been just the teeniest bit overconfident, I
said "You have on your PJs. Somebody forgot to tell you to get
naked before you came to get me."
Somebody also forgot to tell her she should be flattered when a hot guy says something like that to her.
She folded her arms across her chest. "When pigs fly, asshole."
Then she turned around and went back into the bathroom. She closed the door.
It stayed closed for a long time, and then Danni opened it. She
came in, closed the door behind her and came to stand by my bed.
"Move over," she said.
I thought she was going to get on the bed with me, and that was a great
idea, so I moved over and got on my side. She sat down on the
bed, instead of lying down beside me. She stared at me for a bit.
"We have a problem," she finally said.
"Nothing a little lovin' can't solve," I said, cockily.
"And that is the problem," she said.
I misunderstood. I patted the bed beside me in invitation.
She shook her head. She actually looked like she felt sorry for
me or something. Then she got up and went back to Phee's room
through the bathroom.
The bathroom door stayed closed a lot longer this time. I began
to suspect that all was not well, for some reason. That was
confirmed when the next girl to come into my room was Phee. She
cut right to the chase.
"You're acting like a jerk," she said, "and you're making my friends mad at me."
"What did I do?" I complained, in typical clueless teenaged male incomprehension.
So she explained it to me.
The girls were, as I have already indicated, very close. They'd
been having these sleepovers for years and years, and anything could be
(and was) discussed. Of course as they got older, that included
boys, and sex and all that. Like all kids, they asked each other
questions, but sometimes nobody knew the answer. At one point,
when someone wondered aloud why boys did this or that thing (she
couldn't remember who it was, or what she wanted to know) someone else
had said Phee should get the answer from me. Phee, of course,
thought that was a terrible idea. She had said, "Go ask him
That led to a standing joke in the group. Any time any odd or
incomprehensible male behavior came up, somebody would say, "We should
go ask Tut."
"So it was a joke," I said.
She shook her head. "It used to be a joke. Remember a couple of months ago when I asked you why guys like Call of Duty so much?"
She was talking about Tina Johnson breaking up with John Disston.
He was supposed to go with her to her cousin's wedding, but called her
and said he had a family emergency. She found out what really
happened was that he got into a marathon game of Call of Duty.
Phee had asked me why a guy would do that ... mess up a good thing with
a girl over what she called "a stupid game." We had ended up
talking about it for quite a while.
"You told the girls what we talked about?"
"No, stupid. They got me to come ask you about it. After that, they wanted to ask more things."
"Why didn't you just ask me, then?" I asked.
"They've all had a crush on you at one time or another," she said.
"Except Frankie," I said automatically.
"Especially Frankie!" she said. "Frankie was the first one to get all googly-eyed and talk about how cute you were."
"You're kidding!" I was amazed.
"When we were in seventh grade. We teased her about it
mercilessly. We were horrible. And you ignored her
completely. We've all apologized to her since then, but she's
still hurt about it."
"Oh." What else could I say? It was ancient history.
"The point is that we grew up and so did you. You started paying
more attention to them, and they all like you. And waiting for me
to ask a question and come back is no fun. So they started trying
to figure out how to get you to agree to talk directly to them as a
"Okay," I said. "Why didn't they just ask me?"
"Because it doesn't work that way!" she insisted.
"Well how does it work?" I was starting to get frustrated.
"I told them about how you caught me taking a picture of myself nude."
I blinked. "Okay. So what?"
"So, I told them you looked at me like I was a girl instead of your sister."
Damn. That meant she knew I was a pervert.
"Oh." Again, what else could I say?
"Tut, the whole reason we started taking pictures like that was because
we thought, eventually, we might show one of them to some special guy
or something. You know, instead of letting him see me for real, I
could just show him a picture, and see what he thought, or whatever."
"I thought you told me you just wanted to see what it would look like yourself," I said.
"Of course I did," she said. "You don't show somebody a picture of yourself you don't like."
"Well who the hell are you going to show a picture like that to?" I asked, upset now.
"Nobody!" she yipped. "Not now. Maybe someday ... but not now."
"Well that's stupid," I said.
"Why?" She looked hurt.
"Because no guy would ever say a naked picture of you looked bad. He'd just say he wished he could see the real thing."
"That's what Danni said." My sister cocked her head and suddenly I was being examined. "She also said that if you saw some of us naked, we could get you to do anything we wanted."
It hit me. I had been gamed!
And I had been gamed by sixteen-year-old Danni Nelson! I rolled
to my back and covered my face with both hands. I groaned.
"Why are you upset?" asked my sister. "After all, you got what you wanted too ... didn't you?"
I calmed down. She was right, actually. I had
gotten something out of the deal. And this new version of Phoenix
was interesting, not least because while she knew I was a pervert who
liked looking at a picture of his nude sister, she didn't seem to
be freaked out by it, or making demands or whatever. The other
reason she was so interesting was because she was willing to tell me so
much about things most guys never get to hear about at all.
I thought about the other two who had preceded Phee this evening.
"So Frankie and Danni thought I had been tamed and was supposed
to be putty in their hands, and I didn't play the game," I
deduced out loud.
"It has nothing to do with playing any games," said Phee. "You were just being a jerk."
"I wasn't being a jerk, I was just being me!" I complained.
"You know what I think?" she said. "I think
that because of what happened last time, you assumed you could just act
like a guy and everything would be fine."
"Not that I agree with you," I said, "but isn't that the whole point? I'm supposed to be a guy, aren't I?"
"You're supposed to be Tut, not the same boys that we run
into everywhere else ... boys who don't really care about
us. We know plenty of guys who just want stuff from us, and want
to try to get away with as much as they can. That's not why
the girls got infatuated with you, Tut. They liked the person you are. Don't be a jerk. Be yourself."
I thought about that. It was already obvious why Frankie had been
ticked off. And I finally understood that sad shake of
Danni's head, and what she'd said.
"Maybe I should talk to them," I said.
"Maybe you should apologize to them," said my sister.
"Maybe they shouldn't have gamed me," I reminded her.
"I'll talk to them about that," she said. "You just go do what you're so good at."
"What's that?" I asked.
She looked at me and then looked away, like she was nervous or something.
"Making a girl want what she shouldn't want."
They were lined up on the edge of the bed, sitting shoulder to
shoulder. Phee had climbed on the bed and sat behind them.
They looked hostile.
I had put on a robe. Displaying my masculinity wasn't
really going to get me anything at this point, and might even cause
In the "be myself" concept of things, I didn't plan
out what to say. I decided to just talk to them. It's
possible I messed that up with the very first thing I said.
"Look, I need to tell you some things, so don't interrupt me until I'm finished, okay?"
The hostile feel in the room grew, if anything, but I was already framing my next words.
"Phee told me why you started taking the pictures that I ended up
finding online. She said you were trying to figure out if you
were desirable to men or not. She also explained how this
'ask Thutmose' thing came about, and how Danni said that if
she let me see her naked you guys could get me to do anything you
Danni turned and glared over her shoulder at Phee, but I went on.
"You guys are on the cheer squad. You're
popular. You're all pretty ... even gorgeous
sometimes. When you do your routines, some of what you do is very
sexy. Add to that the fact that you're intelligent, and
funny sometimes, and it all makes up this thing that all guys crave in
I looked at each one of them, eye to eye. I still saw hostility there, but they all looked back at me.
"So here's what I want you to understand. It is
ridiculous for you to worry about whether guys think you're
desirable or not. I'm going to be conservative, and say
there might only be ten thousand guys out there who would kill to get
to be able to hear you whisper that you love them.
I'm not saying all guys would adore you, but when the time comes,
you're going to have to turn a bunch of guys down.
You're going to have your pick. That's how attractive each and every one of you is."
I had definitely wanted to say that much. I wasn't sure
where to go from there, though. I looked at the girls
again. The hostility had softened quite a bit. Beth was
even smiling. Danni looked guarded, though, and that reminded me
that she had gamed me.
"Now Danni is right. You can use your bodies to get most
guys to do about anything you want. But think about what that
means. It means you're using your body as a tool.
You're treating your body like it's money, and trading it
away for something you think you want. And a lot of guys will be
cool with that. They don't want anything permanent.
They want to hop on, and ride the ride, and then go somewhere else in
the carnival and ride a different ride. But where does that leave
Again, I had made a point, but I didn't know where to go next. To cover for that, I said "Questions?"
"Yeah, I have one," said Frankie. "Why are you telling us all this?"
I knew the answer to that one.
"Because we haven't been honest with each other," I
said. "If we're going to do whatever this thing is
that you guys want to do, and if I'm going to be any good to you
for whatever it is you want from me, then we need to be honest with
each other, so we can say whatever needs to be said, and you
won't get mad and I won't be a jerk."
That hadn't ended up quite like I had intended, but I was stuck with it.
"I've been honest with you," argued Frankie.
"No you haven't," I shot back. She took a
breath but I cut her off. "You never told me you had a
crush on me. I never knew you thought I was cute."
She turned red and shot Phee a look that would kill anybody else on the spot. I kept going.
"But there's more. I wasn't honest with you, either. I never told you I thought you
were cute. I never told you I wished you were older, so I could
ask you out. I ignored you because you were too young. That
wasn't fair to you."
"That's a nice speech," said Danni. "But
girls don't go up to guys and say 'I think you're
cute!' especially when they're a grade ahead of you."
"True," I said. "But that's in normal
circumstances. What you've asked me to do is not normal
circumstances. I like all of you, and I've wanted to take
every one of you out at some point in the past. You all have good
personalities. I love to watch you cheer. I'm happy when I know
there's going to be a sleepover, because I know that will mean I
get to be around you."
"You want to see us naked," argued Frankie.
"Okay, that's true," I said, looking right at her. "I do
want to see you naked. It seems like I've always wanted to
see you naked ... all of you. That's just because I'm
a male of the species, but it doesn't mean I don't care
about anything else. Most guys you know now, or will ever meet
are well aware they'll never
get to see any of you naked. That's why those pictures will
probably go viral. Those pictures are a dream come true for a
thousand guys! They were for me."
"But that's creepy!" moaned Frankie.
I walked over to her. I stood right in front of her.
"I have seen pictures of you naked," I said softly.
"If I treated you any different because of that, I'm
sorry. What you need to understand is that seeing those pictures
didn't make me feel any differently about you than I did
I stepped back and looked at the rest of them.
"That goes for all of you. It was a treat, yes. I
admit that. I'd like to see them again. I admit that
too. But more importantly, I was worried about you guys. I
thought you posted them on purpose, and if that was true, then you were
being stupid and were making dangerous decisions. I found out
that's not the case, and I'm glad for that.
It's possible you haven't heard the last of those pictures,
though, and you need to be ready if that happens."
I felt pretty good. There was no flow to what I was saying, but I
had said some things I hoped were good things to have been said.
Beth looked over her shoulder at Phee.
"I never had a big brother before. Is he always like this?"
"Not hardly," snorted my sister.
"Yes," said Danni. "Let's talk about sisters."
That was dangerous territory. But there was a dangerous glint in
Danni's eyes too, and I felt my stomach begin to sink.
"Are you mad at me?" I blurted.
She actually stopped to think about that. Then the danger went out of her face and confusion replaced it.
"Yes ... but I don't know why."
"Because you like him, and he has the hots for his sister," Denise was kind enough to remind her.
"I'm hot for all
of you!" I said. Who knows why I said it. Maybe there
was some damaged part of my brain that thought that would make it all
"That's just so creepy!" moaned Frankie.
I looked at her again.
"Are you afraid of me, Frankie?"
"No!" she barked instantly.
"Are you afraid I'll try to rape you, or something?"
"Of course not!" she said again. The look on her face
suggested she was quite confident in her ability to kill me if I ever
"Then what are you worried about? I'm not going to
try to do anything to you against your will. I think you know that. You need to understand that every
guy you ever meet is going to look at you as a potential score.
Make good decisions about which ones you trust and that won't be
a problem for you."
I was out of things to say, at least for the moment. I
didn't want to leave, though, so I just stood there and let them
think about things. It was Beth who finally moved things along.
"So ... what now?" she asked.
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