I disclaim, you disclaim, everybody disclaims, right? Okay, that gets that out of the way!
It seems that quite a few of you guys have become great fans of Jim Cooper and his activities.
Well read on and enjoy! There will be one more chapter after this one before we move on to the final story in the series.
Thanks again to everyone who’s written to me; it’s very gratifying to know how much this story is appreciated. More feedback is always welcome of course; please send your comments to email@example.com and I’ll reply as soon as I can.
A SPORTING CHANCE – PART FOUR
As the new school year began, the issue of the rugby team had to be addressed. Although not Jim’s first choice, Henry would be captain. Jim would have preferred to give the captaincy to Russell, who was fair, level-headed and respected by absolutely everyone. Russell, however, had been lined up by John Halford to be cricket captain. It was school policy that the same boy could not hold both positions, which left Henry as the only candidate to captain the rugby team.
Henry’s reaction to his appointment immediately set alarm bells ringing. He was too eager and seemed to have quite unrealistic ideas about what the team might achieve under his leadership. Before the trials, Jim talked to him at length about the challenges that the team was going to face and how he should go about exercising his role as captain, but Henry was so keen to make his mark that he hardly seemed to be listening. As he left the office, Jim feared the worst. Henry was a nice lad and an excellent player. He would be great at leading by example, but whether he would be able to get the best out of the weaker players was a serious concern.
The first trial served only to illustrate just how thin the pool of talent actually was. There would be little competition for places, and what there was would be between quite mediocre performers. It was a serious concern. After making such progress the previous year, expectations were high, but the reality was that the team would be even weaker overall than the one Vance Taylor had captained. The one bright spot was that in Henry and Russell they had two quite outstanding players, but Jim was unsure how much difference that would make.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
“You will put me in the team, won’t you sir,” Tim asked as the games master gently fondled his penis.
“We’ll have to see,” Jim said, trying to sound non-committal. “I can’t just put you in; you’ve got to earn your place.”
“Oh, come on sir!” Tim said insistently. “I really want to be in the team so I can find myself a younger friend.”
“Oh,” Jim responded, “so you want to find a cute little boy so that you can put your stiff cock up his tight little bum.”
“Yeah,” Tim said, smirking. “I think he’ll like it, don’t you sir?”
“Oh, I’m sure he will,” Jim whispered, “provided you pick the right boy.”
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
The second rugby trial concluded. Jim selected all the other positions, leaving right wing until last. Finally he had to decide whether to select Tim or not. He would have been quite happy to leave him out if there had been someone else who was clearly better. As it was, the other candidate was Jonathan Moore, who was in Lower Fourth. Of the two, Tim was bigger, faster and stronger, and his ball-handling was better; in an attacking role, he was clearly superior. Defensively, however, he was very poor. Jonathan’s tackling wasn’t brilliant, but he always tried one hundred per cent.
Jim weighed things up. If he continued to progress, Jonathan would make a very good right wing in a year’s time, but at that moment he simply wasn’t ready. As an added complication, Jonathan was Henry’s younger friend; selecting the lad could make things difficult for both of them. With considerable misgivings he selected Tim, hoping desperately that the animosity between Tim and Henry would not surface during a game.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
His hopes on that score were dashed in the very first match, at home to St. George’s. Tim missed a simple tackle, resulting in the opposition scoring a try. Henry barked at him. Jim cringed; it was exactly what he’d feared would happen. Humiliating the lad in front of his team-mates would only make things worse. Although scores from Henry and Russell enabled them to record a four-point win, it was not the start that he’d hoped for. Back in the changing room, the atmosphere was tense, the spat between Henry and Tim seeming to have split the team right down the middle.
The following week, much the same thing happened. Tim made a fairly lame attempt to tackle the opposition’s left wing, but the boy broke free. Fortunately Henry was covering and put the lad into touch, but instead of leaving it there, he barked at Tim again. Tim was smarting and as a result he played even worse. After Henry told him off for a second time he virtually gave up. At the end they squeaked a narrow win against a team they should have beaten easily.
Jim knew he needed to do something, but couldn’t think what. After the match he had a few words words with Henry, but it was obvious that the boy wasn’t listening. As far as Henry was concerned, Tim was letting the team down. He needed a kick up the backside, and Henry resented the fact that Jim wouldn’t give him one.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
Early the following morning, Jim drove into school. He parked the car and waited. Moments later, Tim got in next to him, behaving as though nothing untoward had happened. Jim had planned to talk to him, but decided against it, reasoning that with Tim in his most brash, self-confident mood, it would be pointless.
“I noticed Simon Whitney shouting for you yesterday,” he said casually. “So is he your younger friend?”
“Yeah,” Tim confirmed. “Cute, isn’t he? Beautiful little arse!”
“I thought Upper Fourth weren’t supposed to go with second years,” Jim queried.
“We’re not really,” Tim said airily, “but he was practically begging for it. Anyway Russell said it’d be okay.”
“So have you, - - - you know?”
“Yeah! Tim said, smirking. “Squealed a bit when it went up him, but he soon got used to it. Squirted all my spunk up him; it was fantastic!”
Jim winced. It was obvious that Tim didn’t care about the younger boy; all he was concerned about was what he wanted, the same as always.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
For the rugby team, things went from bad to worse. Their next match was at home against Queen Elizabeth’s. With over one hundred boys in each year to pick from, they always had a strong team, and this one was one of their best. The Hartswood boys were outclassed and overrun, but even worse, Henry’s frustration boiled over completely; he barked at several players, not just Tim. Jim stood on the touchline shouting encouragement as always, but in reality the team was falling apart, the confidence draining out of them. To add his problems, Russell finished the match limping badly. He’d hurt his knee and would need to be rested.
Over the following week, Jim did his best to pick the lads up, but the atmosphere was still very tense. The one consolation was that their next opponents were Whitestone Hall. For the three years that Jim had been in charge, they’d beaten Whitestone quite easily every time they’d played them. Deprived of Russell’s services, fly-half Julian Lees was assigned to take over the goal-kicking duties, with Brian Harper of Lower Fourth replacing Russell at inside centre.
The match was an unmitigated disaster. Early in the first half they set up a good attack. The ball came to Brian, but in his anxiety he snatched at the ball and knocked it forward, conceding a scrum to the opposition. Henry was horrible to him. Soon afterwards, they won a penalty close to the right hand touchline. Julian wanted to kick for position, but Henry ordered him to kick for goal. That’s a difficult kick for a right-footed kicker; Julian screwed it wide. Henry barked at him too. A few minutes later they won another penalty right in front of the posts, as easy a kick for goal as you could get, but by then Julian was so nervous he fluffed it completely.
Jim was distraught. After all the work he’d put in, the team was falling to pieces. They lost by 25 points to 16. He was just glad that John Halford had gone away for the weekend and wasn’t there to see it. Jim resolved that the following Monday he would go to see the man and ask his advice as to how to build the team up again.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
The next morning, when Tim got into the games master’s car he was unusually subdued. They drove back to the flat in silence. Once inside, Tim headed to the bedroom, sitting on Jim’s bed to take off his shoes.
“Are you okay?” Jim asked.
“I’m all right,” Tim replied unconvincingly.
“Well you don’t look it and you don’t sound it,” Jim said firmly. “You haven’t been getting picked on, have you?”
“No,” Tim said curtly.
“So what then?” Jim asked gently.
“I’ve fucked it up, haven’t I?” Tim said despondently, “fucked it up for you, I mean. I know how hard you’ve worked to make us into a good team and I’ve gone and ruined it for you.”
“Well, it’s not all down to you,” Jim said, sitting down next to him. “You haven’t been playing very well, but things might not have got so bad if Henry had done what I asked him to do. You never heard Andrew or Sherman bawling players out, even when they made a really bad mistake. Well it’s got to stop. I should have done something about it before, but I didn’t want it to look like I was taking sides.”
“It’s not your fault,” Tim said, looking at the floor. “I’ve been playing like an idiot. I act like I’m so clever, but I’m not; I’m stupid. All last year you were telling me I needed to learn how to tackle properly, but I wouldn’t listen. I knew you were trying to help me, but I’m so stubborn sometimes, like I wanted to prove I didn’t have to do what you said. Well now look what’s happened. I guess you’ll have to drop me from the team; I know a lot of the other boys think I shouldn’t be in it. Even Simon had a go at me.”
“Well, that isn’t what I want to do,” Jim said. “I picked you because you were the best I’d got for that position. As far as I’m concerned you still are.”
“What about Jonathan?” Tim queried.
Jonathan’s not ready yet,” Jim said quietly. “The last thing I want to do is to put him into a team that’s not playing well. There’s another complication too.”
“You mean because Henry’s fucking his arse?” Tim queried.
“Yeah,” Jim acknowledged. “It wouldn’t look good, would it?”
“I hadn’t thought about that,” Tim conceded.
“Once we get Russell back,” Jim continued, “I could play Brian Harper on the wing which would make us more solid defensively, but he’s not nearly as quick as you, so it would cut down our attacking threat. But you’ve got a choice to make; either you learn to tackle properly like I told you last year or you walk away from it. I don’t want you to make a decision now; I want you to go away and think about it. Fair enough?”
“Yes, sir,” Tim said quietly. He paused. “A lot of the other boys say I’m a spoilt brat,” he continued. “I am, aren’t I?”
“Well there are certainly times when you’re much too fond of having your own way, even when you know you shouldn’t,” Jim said, trying to be diplomatic. “Any idea why you do that?”
“Dunno really,” Tim said.
“What do your parents think?” Jim asked.
“Oh, they don’t care,” Tim said. “They’ll give me anything I want to keep me quiet. The only thing they won’t do is spend any time with me, you know, taking an interest in what I’m doing. If I ask my mum, she’ll say “Sorry darling, we’d love to come but you know how busy your father and I are,” like working in television’s really important; it’s not like they’re doctors or something. Russell’s dad works in television, but he often comes to watch Russell playing rugby or cricket.”
Yes,” Jim confirmed. “I’ve met him several times.”
HeeHe took a deep breath. Tim had given him all the answers he could have wanted, the complete explanation of why he behaved the way he did.
“The thing you need to remember,” he said gently, “is that you don’t work for your mum and dad; you do it for you. If you want to get somewhere in life, you have to put the work in; that’s how it is. In particular, you need to work at things you find difficult; that’s the only way you’ll improve.”
“I should have listened to you in the first place,” Tim said sadly. “Well I will now; that’s a promise.”
“I blame myself quite a bit,” Jim said quietly. “I was too soft with you.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t have taken any notice,” Tim said, reaching across to undo Jim’s shorts, “but I understand now. And you’ll be there for me, won’t you sir?”
“Oh yes,” Jim said. “You don’t have to worry about that.”
In matter of seconds they were naked, kissing and cuddling on the bed. Jim could hardly believe how different it felt; instead wanton, animalistic lust, it was gentle, sensuous, loving, just the way it had been with Duncan. It brought home to him the responsibility he faced. Tim would need a great deal of support if he was to get himself back on track; it was his job to provide it.
But right at that moment he had a needy boy to satisfy. Their kiss turned seamlessly into an equally sensuous sixty nine, Jim slipping his hand between Tim’s legs and working KY into his anus. When the boy was ready, Jim allowed his fingers to slide out. They disengaged. Tim grabbed a pillow and placed it in the middle of the bed, draping a towel on top of it. Much to Jim’s surprise, he flopped down on his tummy, the pillow under his hips. He lay there submissively, his legs spread apart.
Jim got onto his knees, smearing KY over his penis. He lowered himself onto the boy, guiding his manhood onto the lad’s sphincter. He pushed hard, penetrating him immediately.
“Uuuuhhh!!” Tim groaned.
Jim continued his assault, thrusting his penis over the boy’s prostate. Tim squealed in delight. Moments later, Jim’s manhood was completely embedded in the boy’s rectum. He began to fuck, taking it quite slowly at first, but gradually building it up until he was giving the lad everything he could. Tim moaned and whimpered, the mixture of pain and pleasure driving him almost insane.
Tim felt himself getting close, the tingling in his penis getting more and more intense. Suddenly the muscle spasms hit him like a runaway train. He shuddered violently, his feet flicking up off the bed. He clawed at the bed covers, his sphincter clamping tight around Jim’s rampant manhood. In the next instant his penis jerked into action, three jets of boy-cum squirting onto the towel. He had taken Jim right over the edge. The man held him by the shoulders as volley after volley of warm creamy semen flooded into his bottom. Then it was over. After e few seconds recovery, Jim carefully pulled out, his penis exiting Tim’s bottom with a quite audible pop.
“You’re a beautiful, amazing boy,” he whispered right into Tim’s ear. “I know what you’re capable of, even if nobody else does. So remember, I’m here for you whenever you need me.”
Tim rolled onto his side, allowing Jim to draw him into another passionate, sensuous kiss.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
It was Monday morning break. Jim was just about to go to see John Halford when there was a knock on his office door. He was surprised to find Henry standing there.
“Sir, can I speak to you in private, please?” Henry asked.
“Yes, of course,” Jim said, ushering the boy inside.
“I’ve come to apologise,” Henry said, avoiding Jim’s eyes. “You told me what to do, and I did the complete opposite. I know we aren’t as good a team as we had last year, but we’re playing rubbish, and it’s my fault. Saturday was just stupid. I should never have spoken to Brian and Julian like that; it just made things worse. I’ve already apologised to them.”
“Well, that’s a step in the right direction,” Jim said. “The question is how we’re going to get the team working together.”
“Could you call a team meeting, sir?” Henry asked. “I want to apologise to the whole team, promise I won’t behave like that again, ask everyone if we can make a fresh start.”
“We can certainly do that,” Jim said. “What gave you the idea?”
“I was talking to Jonathan yesterday morning,” Henry said, looking rather shame-faced. “He suggested it. I didn’t want to at first, but he pretty well told me I had to do it.”
“Jon’s a good lad,” Jim said smiling. “I thought he might get you to see sense. I’ll cancel training for this afternoon; we’ll meet tomorrow in here at the start of lunch break.” He took a deep breath. “One extra thing you’re going to need to do. You and Tim will have to bury the hatchet. I’m pleased to say, strictly between you and me, that he’s come to his senses as well. He knows he’s been letting the team down and that will be sorted out, one way or another.”
“Yes sir,” Henry said. “I’ll make sure everyone knows.”
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
The rugby team gathered in the gym changing room. Some of the boys looked worried, clearly thinking that Jim was going to tell them off for letting the school down.
“Right gentlemen,” he said, calling them to order. “Henry asked me to call this meeting. He has something he wants to say to you all.”
“When Mr. Cooper asked me to be captain,” Henry began. “I was delighted. It’s something I always hoped for. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to what he told me about how to do it. So when somebody made a mistake, instead of encouraging them, I bawled them out in front of everybody else. That was wrong. Well, I’ve learned my lesson; I shouldn’t have done it and I can promise you that it won’t happen again. I know some of you have suggested that I shouldn’t be captain any more. I’d like to continue as captain, but I can only do that if I’ve got your support. So what I’m asking is if you’re willing to make a fresh start with me as captain and get back to working as a team like we did when we started.”
“Right,” Jim said. “You’ve heard what Henry had to say. Would any of you like to say anything?”
Most of the boys were dumbstruck; this was clearly the last thing they’d expected to happen. After a couple of seconds, Russell put up his hand. Jim gestured for him to speak.
“I think Henry’s shown a lot of guts, apologising to us like that,” he said evenly. “I think most of us know that it’s not all his fault that we’ve not being playing well. We haven’t been working hard enough. We know Henry’s our best player. I think we all ought to get behind him and work as hard as we can to put things right and cut out the mistakes we’ve been making.”
“Anyone else?” Jim asked.
There were no takers. Russell was held in such high regard that none of the other boys wanted to disagree with him, especially as what he’d said was so uncomfortably close to the mark.
“Okay, I’ll take it we have agreement on that,” Jim said firmly. “We’ll resume training this afternoon as usual. Henry and Tim will you stay behind please; the rest of you go and get your lunch.”
The boys made their way out, leaving Jim alone with Tim and Henry.
“Okay boys,” Jim said quietly. “The reason that I’ve asked you to stay behind is that the feud between you two has got to stop. Henry?”
“I want to apologise for shouting at you like I did,” Henry said. “I was wrong and it won’t happen again.”
“It’s okay,” Tim mumbled. “I deserved it. I let the team down; I was playing like an idiot.”
“Now shake hands,” Jim instructed.
A handshake was duly exchanged.
“Right young man,” Jim said, addressing yourself to Tim, “You’ve admitted that you weren’t playing as well as you could. I don’t want it to be my decision to drop you, so you’ve got a choice to make. Either you resign from the team now, or you promise to start working properly and give one hundred per cent effort, the same as everyone else is expected to.You’ve had time to think about it, so which is it to be?”
“I’d like to stay in the team sir,” Tim said quietly.
“Is that fair enough?” Jim asked Henry.
“Yes sir,” Henry acknowledged.
“Excellent,” Jim said briskly. “The first thing we need to do is to get your tackling up to standard. “We’ll have to do it at lunchtimes because we don’t have time after school. So tomorrow, we’ll start with you tackling some of the Lower Fourth boys, just to build up your confidence. Henry, we’ll need about three of them; can you organise that for me please?”
“Yes sir,” Henry acknowledged. “I’ll ask
Julian and Brian, and would it be okay if I asked Jonathan?”
“Yeah, those three would be ideal; ask them to meet me outside the refectory at the start of the lunch break tomorrow. I’ll take them straight into lunch then we can get on with it afterwards.”
“May I come along too?” Henry asked. “I’d like to watch what you do.”
“Yes, of course!” Jim said smiling. “Okay, let’s go and get something to eat.”
As he headed for the refectory Jim felt an enormous sense of relief. A very difficult situation had been resolved, for the moment at least. He’d been given a breathing space; he’d need to use it to get the team together and playing as a unit. In particular, he’d need to make sure that Tim stuck to his side of the bargain; arguments were bound to break out if he didn’t. Strangely, he felt quietly confident. Things were going to work out.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
In the event, things worked out even better than Jim had expected. The atmosphere among the rugby team was completely transformed and within a few weeks they were playing better than he’d dared to hope. Tim improved out of all recognition; from being something of a liability, he became an important asset, especially in attack where he combined with Russell and Henry to cause serious problems for every team they faced.
Tim’s improvement was not confined to the rugby pitch. His whole attitude changed. He applied himself in class far more conscientiously than he ever had previously; all the masters noticed it. It was starting to look as though he might do far better in the impending Common Entrance examination than they’d previously thought.
As Jim entered the staff room, Richard Burman called him over.
“I must say you’ve done an outstanding job with young Westlake,” the music master said quietly. “I’ve never seen such a transformation in a boy.”
“Well, he’s the one that’s done it,” Jim said modestly. “It’s not really that much to do with me.”
“Nonsense!” Richard said, smiling. “He worships the ground you walk on; he’s told several of us that it was you that helped him turn things around. You should be very proud; I never expected him to do any good at all.”
“Thanks,” Jim said quietly.
Inwardly, he was glowing. Over the previous few months he’d grown closer to Tim than he’d ever have believed possible. But it wasn’t just Tim’s achievements that gave him cause for satisfaction; the arrogant, manipulative boy was maturing into a very likeable young man, and that was even more important.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
As the rugby season progressed, Jim found himself being drawn towards another boy. Jeremy Pollard was in Lower Fourth. Although he worked hard, he was one of the weakest students in the school. His father was a self-made man, a wholesale greengrocer who had built up his business to be one of the biggest pitches on Covent Garden market. The man was rough, tough and uncultured. Jeremy, however, had been sent to elocution classes, and as a result he spoke very posh indeed, which made him appear arrogant and caused his classmates endless amusement. Jeremy was desperately keen to please, both his bullying father and the masters at school. In this latter respect his classmates considered him to be a little too keen, and labelled him a creep. He was not popular.
The one place where he did shine was on the rugby field. He was big for his age, solidly built and very strong. He wasn’t an outstanding talent like Henry or Russell, but his enthusiasm and work-rate were exceptional. In addition, he followed Jim’s instructions to the letter; Jim felt sure the lad would run through a brick wall if he told him to.
Although he didn’t find him sexually attractive, Jim had a great deal of time for Jeremy. The other boys made fun of him, calling him ‘Concrete Head’ and making bitchy remarks about his working class background. Most of his colleagues considered him to be dull and irritating; they seemed to have no idea of the pressure the boy was under to achieve success that was quite simply beyond him. In Jim’s view, Jeremy was a good lad who just tried a bit too hard; he wouldn’t fault him for that.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
Jim collected his lunch and sat down with John Halford.
“Any thoughts yet as to who you’ll want as cricket captain next year?” Jim asked.
“Giles is the obvious choice,” the older man said. “Nice lad, an excellent batsman and understands the game. So who are you thinking of for rugby?”
“Jeremy,” Jim said tentatively, unsure how the deputy head would react.
“An interesting choice,” Mr. Halford said quietly. “It won’t be a popular one, certainly not initially.”
“I think he’ll do a good job,” Jim said. “You can’t fault his work-rate and his enthusiasm, and he’ll always say the right things out on the field because I’ll tell him what to say and he’ll just do it; he always does.”
“I wish he’d do what I tell him when he’s playing cricket,” the deputy head said, smiling, “but his enthusiasm gets the better of him. He picks the wrong balls to hit and tries to bowl too fast. It’s a shame; he could be quite good. But I don’t disagree with you. He needs a bit of recognition; it could be the making of him.”
“That’s what I thought,” Jim said. “His father puts him under a lot of pressure; he seems to think that Jeremy ought to do well simply because he’s spending the money to send him here.”
“That’s certainly true,” Mr. Halford acknowledged. “Not a nice man, Mr. Pollard; it would be nice to give Jeremy a bit of success. We’re going to have a decent team next year, aren’t we?”
“I think so,” Jim said. “It could be the best yet.”
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
It was the last Saturday of the spring term, the final day of the school’s rugby season. They were finishing with a home match against Martlington County Grammar School. Jim had added Martlington to the fixture list three years previously, replacing a school that had been barely able to scrape a team together. In five attempts, Hartswood had yet to record a victory. Even so, the team took to the field with a sense of optimism; they had won their last five games and some of their attacking play had been quite exceptional.
It was a pulsating match, with both teams concentrating on attack. Three times Henry linked up with the three quarter line, collected a pass from either Tim or Russell, and simply scythed his way through the Martlington defence. The lead changed hands repeatedly, with each team enjoying a brief period of ascendancy only for their opponents to hit back. The final whistle sounded, with Hartswood winning by thirty points to twenty six, one of the best victories the school had ever recorded.
As the team left the field, they were mobbed by a crowd of young supporters. Jim followed them towards the pavilion, tired but elated; it was the most exciting match he’d ever been involved in, either as a coach or a player. John Halford strode across to join him.
“Well done!” he enthused. “That was fantastic! And look at them now; we never used to have scenes like this before you came here.”
“Thanks,” Jim said quietly, feeling a little embarrassed.
“I know the problems you went through at the start of the season,” the deputy head continued. “To turn it round the way you have is quite remarkable. Tim and Henry have grown up so much, and a lot of that’s down to you.”
Back in the changing room, Jim waited for the boys to get showered and dressed.
“Just sit on the bench when you’re ready,” he instructed.
“Right, gentlemen!” he said briskly as the last boy sat down. “We all know what happened at the start of the season. To pick yourselves up and finish the season having won twelve matches out of eighteen is tremendous; today was just the icing on the cake. Each and every one of you has played his part, and you can all feel very proud of what you’ve achieved. Right; off you go! Enjoy the rest of your day.”
Henry immediately stood up, striding across to Jim. He put out his hand.
“Thanks, sir,” he said warmly, as Jim accepted the handshake. “We couldn’t have done it without you.”
As they left, Jim received a handshake, a smile and a word of thanks from every boy in the team. Finally alone in the changing room, he felt the tears well up. It had been a very special moment.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
The summer term set Jim a new challenge. He had always taught potential high jumpers the straddle technique, but at the Olympic Games two years earlier the American Dick Fosbury had won the gold medal using a totally new technique, the so-called Fosbury Flop. It had caused huge excitement, and had rapidly become the style that all the boys wanted to try.
But there was a problem. With the straddle technique, although you go over the bar face-down, you do land on your feet, or to be more exact, on one foot. With the flop you land on your shoulder blades, for which the fairly thin crash-mats that had served perfectly well for straddle-jumping were completely inadequate. With the backing of John Halford and Gordon Chambers, Jim had persuaded the school governors to invest a considerable sum of money in a proper landing area. To back that up, he’d spent a week of the Easter holiday attending a course to learn all he could about the Fosbury flop and how to teach it.
The time had arrived for him to put it into practice. He was confronted by a large group of boys, all eager to see what they could do. He looked around apprehensively, but couldn’t remember any of them having shown a particular talent for the event the previous year. He took a deep breath; after persuading the governors to spend the money on the new landing area, he was going to need to produce some level of success.
As the session progressed two boys stood out. One was Callum Shawcross from Upper Fourth. Although tall, lithe and graceful, he’d never shown the slightest interest in any sporting activity; Jim was surprised that he was even there. But he was there, and was jumping like he was born to it. The other was William Lawrence. William had shown himself to be a useful sprinter when he’d won the second year eighty metre race on sports day the previous year. Through the winter he’d trained with the third year rugby squad, although that was mainly because all his friends did; William was simply too gentle to be a rugby player. But during that time he’d grown considerably, and like Callum, was jumping very well; he looked to be an excellent prospect.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
“So how did the first high jump session go?” John Halford enquired.
“Not bad at all,” Jim said, smiling. “There were far more boys there than usual, mainly because they wanted to try out the new landing area.”
“Much talent on show?” John asked.
“There are certainly a couple of good ones,” Jim said, “and not boys I’d have expected either. Callum Shawcross was one; he’s never taken any interest before. He looked really good.”
“Oh, Callum’s come on a lot over the past year,” John said. “About a year ago he got friendly with Toby Redman. It seems as though some of Toby’s self-confidence has rubbed off on him.”
“Yeah, I was vaguely aware of that,” Jim acknowledged. “It’s always seemed a very odd pairing.”
“Odd or not, they’ve both benefited from it,” John said pragmatically. “Not only has Callum come on by leaps and bounds, he’s been far more successful at keeping Toby out of trouble than I ever have. Toby’s much calmer these days, much less impetuous. I’ve only had to discipline him a couple of times this year. Anyway, who was the other one?”
“William Lawrence,” Jim told him. “I knew he was quite quick from last year’s sports day, but I was surprised at how springy he is. He should do well over hurdles too.”
“So the governors are going to see some results from their investment then?” John suggested.
“Oh, I would think so,” Jim said. “It’s early days, but I think Callum might set a new school record before he leaves. In the longer term, William should improve considerably on whatever Callum does.”
“Well that’s most encouraging,” John said, “Callum and William are two of the nicest lads you’ll ever meet. They’ve never really shone at anything else, so it’s great that they’re getting this opportunity.”
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
Over the next couple of weeks Jim was able to whittle the high jump squad down to a manageable size, enabling him to get some proper coaching done. Callum and William were still the two outstanding performers, but while Callum seemed to perform the flop almost perfectly, as the bar got higher Jim noticed some definite flaws in William’s technique that he would need to correct.
“Okay lads,” he said briskly. “Callum and William, I need to do a bit more work with you; the rest of you go and get changed.”
The other boys trooped back to the pavilion.
“Callum,” Jim said. “I just want you to take two or three more jumps; William, I want you to watch exactly what he does.”
Callum took his first attempt, soaring over the bar.
“Did you notice the way he turned his shoulder and drove up with his arm?” Jim asked quietly, standing right behind William.
“Yes sir,” William acknowledged.
“Well that’s what you’ve got to do,” Jim told him. “You’re not really using your arm at the moment.”
They watched Callum take two more jumps.
“Thanks, Callum,” Jim said. “You can go and get changed now. Okay William; now it’s your turn.”
After a couple of faltering attempts, William began to get it right, clearing a height he hadn’t previously managed. As he trotted back to attempt an even greater height, Jim looked at him admiringly. He’d never taken much notice of the lad before. The year before he’d been scrawny and nondescript, but he certainly wasn’t nondescript now; he was beautiful! Jim had been so busy he’d given little thought to who he’d select as his boy once Tim left, but William would be perfect. There was a problem though. To the best of his knowledge, William didn’t have an older friend. Did that mean he wasn’t interested? If he was interested, he was certainly keeping it very quiet. He’d need to tread very carefully; he couldn’t afford to have anything go wrong.
As they headed back to the pavilion, Jeremy was bustling around, putting away the seven pound shot he’d been practising with.
“Okay, lads,” Jim said. “Get showered and changed then off to prep; you don’t have much time.”
As the last of the other boys made their way out, William and Jeremy stripped off and headed into the showers. Although Jeremy was too heavily built for Jim’s taste, he was developing nicely, a small crop of dark hair beginning to sprout above his twelve year old penis. Barely two minutes later the two boys emerged and began to get dry. Jim took in the scene. Naked, William was more beautiful than ever, even though he was nowhere near puberty. He glanced at Jeremy. Although not fully hard, the boy was definitely getting aroused. He looked again, just to make sure. There was no doubt about it; Jeremy was checking William out.
For a moment Jim was somewhat irritated; he was targeting William, but it was looking very much as though Jeremy might beat him to it. Then another thought occurred to him. Jeremy’s attempt at seducing William would at least answer the question as to whether the boy was interested in having sex. But if Jeremy succeeded, what then? Jim had never shared a boy before, but there was no reason why he shouldn’t, he reflected, especially with Jeremy, who always did exactly what he asked him to do. He wouldn’t be able to have William with him the whole time in any case, and with Jeremy lined up to be rugby captain, he’d probably take over responsibility for ‘unofficial activities’ too, so arranging things to suit would be no problem.
The boys finished dressing and prepared to leave.
“Off you go, William,” Jim said. “I’ll see you tomorrow; we’re going to start hurdles training.”
“Great, sir!” William piped enthusiastically. “I’ll see you then!”
“Will you just wait behind a moment, Jeremy,” Jim continued. “I’d like a word.”
“Would I be right in thinking you like William quite a lot?” Jim asked when the younger boy was safely out of earshot.
“Well, sort of,” Jeremy conceded, looking embarrassed.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Jim said smiling. “So tell me.”
“Yes sir,” Jeremy said. “He’s really nice.”
“So you’d like him as a ‘younger friend’ then?”
“Yes sir,” Jeremy said, grimacing, “but he seems very shy. It’s a bit awkward; I can’t talk to people like some of the other boys do.”
“Well, you seemed to be getting on okay just now,” Jim commented.
“Sir,” Jeremy queried. “Do you like William too?”
“Yes,” Jim said evenly. “I like him very much.”
Jeremy’s face fell.
“Oh, so I suppose he’s going to be your boy next year then sir,” he mumbled. “You know, after Tim’s left.”
“Maybe,” Jim conceded. “That’s up to him. But it’s no problem; we can share, can’t we?”
“D’you mean that, sir?” Jeremy asked, looking at Jim in disbelief.
“Of course,” Jim said. “You won’t be able to have him with you all the time and neither will I.” Jim lowered his voice. “I haven’t told you this before, and you’re not to repeat it, but you’re going to be rugby captain next term. That will put you in line to be in charge of . . . , you know; it’ll be between you and Giles and I doubt whether he’ll want to do it. So you’ll be able to arrange things the way you want them.”
“Really sir?” Jeremy asked excitedly. “I’m going to be captain?”
“After all the work you’ve put in this year, you’ve earned it,” Jim said firmly. “I also think you’ll do an excellent job.”
“Thanks sir! Jeremy said. “I won’t let you down, I promise. But what about, er . . .?”
“Just keep doing exactly what you did just now,” Jim said quietly. “Leave it to me; I’ll make sure you’re not disturbed. And just take things gradually; don’t expect to get too far all at once.”
“Thanks, sir!” Jeremy said, smiling broadly. “I’ll be here again tomorrow then!”
He hurried off to prep. Jim wandered into the masters’ changing room, gathering his belongings for the short walk to the car-park. The events of the previous few minutes had been totally unexpected, but they were no real surprise. Jeremy had been in the rugby team all year; the only reason that he hadn’t acquired a younger friend before was that he was so inept at talking to people. But he really wanted one, and the delightful William was the ideal candidate. Sharing the boy would be a rather odd arrangement, but Jeremy was his protégé in a way that no previous rugby captain had been. If things went according to plan, it might all work out very well.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
There were four boys in the hurdles squad, all ones that Jim had invited, William, Callum, Tim and Julian Lees.
“Okay lads,” Jim said. “The thing I want to emphasise to you is that hurdling is not jumping. Hurdling is running over barriers. That means you have to go over one leg at a time; we refer to them as lead leg and trail leg. In order to do that efficiently, you have to be able to get a big split between your knees; you also need to be able to keep balanced. So we’re going to start by doing some stretches, just to see how supple you all are.”
Tim grimaced; he’d tried these exercises the previous year and found them difficult. They began with simple, routine stretches, gradually working up to the ‘sitting hurdle’ exercise. Callum and William both did it with ease. Julian could obtain a ninety degree split between his knees, but then found difficulty in bending his upper body towards his lead leg. Tim was too stiff and couldn’t get close to the ideal finishing position. They moved onto some drills. Once again Callum and William looked very proficient, the other two rather less so.
It was time for the training session to end. The four boys helped Jim to carry the hurdles back to the store.
“William, will you help me stack the hurdles please?” Jim asked. “The rest of you go and get changed.”
The job took five minutes. By the time Jim and William got back into the pavilion, the other boys were just about to leave. Right on cue, Jeremy appeared.
“Okay, you’ve got ten minutes,” Jim whispered to him.
As soon as the other boys had gone, Jim locked the pavilion door from the inside then very quietly returned to the changing room. William and Jeremy were in the showers. He secreted himself in the masters’ room and waited. After a little over ten minutes he poked his head into the changing room. The two boys were getting dressed and seemed to be having a good laugh together. It was a promising sign, Jim thought, strolling out into the foyer to unlock the door.
Jeremy deliberately took his time; allowing William to finish dressing before he did.
“You carry on,” he said quietly. “When are you training next?”
“Saturday morning, I think,” William responded.
“Great,” Jeremy said, giving William a big smile. “I’ll see you then.”
As soon as William was safely on his way, Jeremy knocked on the door of the masters’ changing room.
“So how did it go?” Jim asked him.
“Very well, thanks sir,” Jeremy said, a mischievous smile on his face. He swallowed hard. “As soon as we got in the showers I got a hard-on,” he whispered. “Well, William did too. He didn’t seem at all shy about it, so I reached out and touched it. Then we started feeling each other. It was great, much better than doing it for myself. He was a bit nervous at first; he was worried that someone might come in, but I told him we were okay ‘cause everyone else had gone. Well, he was all right with it then so I showed him how to rub me properly. It was fantastic; my spunk shot all over the place! He thought that was really good. Anyway, he was still hard, so I got down and sucked his dick. I could tell he liked it. After a couple of minutes he started shaking and his thing jumped about in my mouth. Nothing came out though.”
“Excellent,” Jim said, beaming. “I wasn’t sure you’d get that far the first time. We’re doing another session on Saturday morning, so you come out to practise your shot putt again. We’ll start at ten o’clock, finish at eleven then I’ll leave you two alone again. Just be patient. It’s possible he may have second thoughts about what just happened, so don’t push it. But if he seems keen enough, just do the same again. Don’t rush him into sucking your cock before he’s ready, okay?”
“Yes, sir,” Jeremy confirmed. “I’ll see you on Saturday morning.”
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
The hurdles squad progressed well. Tim was working conscientiously at the stretching exercises, even though it was too late for them to make much difference before he left the school. His hurdling was still ragged, but he was the fastest on the flat, so Jim found it useful to have him there.
Just two weeks after they began, Jim decided that they were ready to race. With assistance from a troop of other boys they set up four lanes of hurdles. All the boys were taking it very seriously. Accordingly, Jim had recruited Henry, Russell and a couple of other boys to act as timekeepers. He noticed Toby Redman, cine-camera in hand, positioning himself to get the best view of the action. Toby was Callum’s younger friend and part of the same little third year gang that William was part of. Although only eleven, Toby was outspoken and often abrasive, which had got him into trouble on numerous occasions, especially with religious education master George Perkins. On the other hand he was highly intelligent and showed great determination. If Toby had set his mind on doing something, Jim reflected, one would be unwise to bet against him succeeding.
“Who’s going to win, sir?” Toby called out.
“Not sure,” Jim replied. “What d’you think?”
“Dunno,” Toby said. “It’s between William and Callum. I don’t mind either way.
As the boys lined up for the race, Jim was unsure. Callum was the best hurdler, but there was a question mark over how fast he was. William was a good hurdler and quick for his age, but he was the youngest by more than a year; Jim didn’t know if he’d be able to maintain his technique over eight flights of hurdles. That left Julian, who wasn’t as fast as Tim, but his hurdling was better. They got onto their marks. On command, they rose into the set position. Jim fired the starting pistol and they were away. In the event, it was no contest. Although Callum hurdled beautifully, like Duncan and Jerome before him, he wasn’t quick enough. Tim was quick, but his hurdling technique was poor. By contrast, William had both speed and technique; he won easily.
Jim was lost in admiration. Not only was William growing into one of the long-legged beauties he so admired, the boy was an outstanding athletic talent. With his slender build, it was difficult to imagine where the power came from. It was all to do with fast-twitch muscle fibres, he reminded himself, wondering how so many of them could be packed into William’s taut little bottom.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
A further week passed. The liaisons between Jeremy and William were becoming increasingly adventurous. As soon as William was safely out of the pavilion, Jeremy knocked on the door of the masters’ changing room. Jim opened it, beckoning him inside.
“When we were in the showers just now,” Jeremy reported breathlessly, “Will asked if I’d like him to suck my cock. I said I’d love it if he wanted to, so he just got down and did it. It was fantastic; I never knew anything could feel as good as that! I warned him I was going to cum, but he just kept on sucking me. I spunked in his mouth and he swallowed it.”
“Sounds wonderful,” Jim said, smiling.
“But you’ll never guess what he did afterwards,” Jeremy continued.
“Possibly not,” Jim said, “so you’d better tell me.”
“When he stood up, he kissed me!” Jeremy said excitedly. “Proper kissing I mean!”
“Really?” Jim said, trying to sound as calm as possible. “So what was it like?”
“I was pretty shocked at first,” Jeremy admitted. “I’d never even thought of doing that. But once we got started it was amazing!”
“And you’re still working KY into his bum when you suck him off?” Jim enquired.
“Oh yes!” Jeremy confirmed. “He loves it! I had two fingers up there today. I touched, what’s it called, you know, the knobbly thing. He went wild! His dick jerked really hard; it was great. He almost collapsed afterwards.”
“Sounds like you’re getting pretty close to taking his cherry,” Jim suggested.
“Yes sir,” Jeremy agreed. “I was thinking about next week.”
“Excellent,” Jim said quietly, opening the door. “Don’t do it in the shower though. Bring him out here then have him over that bench. Make sure he’s facing the far wall, okay? As soon as I hear you getting into it, I’ll open this door; I want to watch you.”
“Yes sir!” Jeremy said, giving Jim a conspiratorial grin. “That’ll be cool, getting it up his bum with you watching us!”
“Go on!” Jim said, grinning back. “You’ll be late for prep.”
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
It was the appointed day. After training, Jim left Jeremy and William alone in the changing room. As usual he locked the pavilion door then slipped back into the masters’ changing room, using the door that led directly from the foyer. He sat and waited. It had been a good many years since he’d had the pleasure of watching a boy being de-flowered. He’d have liked to be doing it himself, but that just wasn’t practical. And in case, watching Jeremy do it would be very exciting.
Five minutes passed; he was so aroused it felt more like five hours. Finally he heard the boys return to the changing room. His heart was beating so hard he feared it might leap out of his chest. Out in the changing room there were shufflings and mutterings; it all seemed to be taking a long time.
“Are you ready?” Jeremy asked, rather louder than he needed to.
That was the signal. Noiselessly Jim opened the door that led into the boys’ changing room, drinking in the sight that lay before him. William was standing feet apart, his hands resting on the bench exactly where Jim had indicated, Jeremy was standing behind him, guiding his erect four and a half inch penis onto the younger boy’s sphincter. He turned, briefly grinning at Jim. A moment later he turned back and thrust it in.
“Uggghh!” William whimpered, shocked by the intensity of this new intrusion.
“Easy Will!” Jeremy cooed. “That’s really good! Just relax! Pretty soon I’ll be giving you those amazing feelings.”
Jeremy placed his hands around the top of William’s thighs, holding the boy steady as he continued to push, his penis slowly disappearing into William’s bottom. He encountered the lad’s prostate.
“Ohhhh!!” William gasped.
A final thrust, a few more seconds and William was completely impaled. Jeremy took a moment to steady himself, savouring the feeling of the tight virgin sheath that was gripping his penis. By pure instinct he set to his task, slowly drawing back before thrusting right in again. He accelerated gradually, inexorably until he was fucking the boy with all the energy and enthusiasm that he demonstrated on the rugby field, William’s quiet gasps and squeaks simply heightening the experience. Jim was mesmerised, unable to avert his eyes for a moment. He couldn’t recall ever seeing anything to compare with it.
Jeremy’s breathing became harsh and ragged, his orgasm having arrived all too quickly. He thrust in one final time, holding onto William’s thighs to keep himself from falling. A moment later his penis reared up, his boy-cum spurting repeatedly into William’s rectum, the whole changing room seeming to swim before his eyes. As his climax subsided he continued to hold on, his heart pounding ferociously. Finally, his senses began to return and he carefully withdrew.
Jim retreated into the masters’ changing room and closed the door. He ran his hand over the front of his shorts. He ejaculated immediately. He sank down onto a chair, the events of the previous few minutes flashing in front of him. Watching strong, powerfully-built Jeremy de-flower the slight, frail-looking William had been one of the most magical experiences of his entire life. As the boys got dressed he slipped out into the foyer, unlocked the pavilion door and made his way to the car-park.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
“Sir,” Jeremy asked. “When are you going to, er . . . , you know?”
“We’ve got three weeks to the end of term,” Jim said quietly. “I was planning on the week after next. I want to make sure he’s used to taking it before I do anything. So meanwhile, you just carry on.”
“Thanks sir,” Jeremy said, grinning. “I love being with Will, he’s a great kid.”
It was making a difference too, Jim reflected as the boy headed to his next class. Jeremy was more relaxed, losing some of his awkwardness. It was a nice bonus.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
“Is William going to be your boy next year?” Tim asked quietly, grinning at Jim.
“What makes you ask?” Jim countered.
“Oh, I’ve noticed you looking at him,” Tim said. “So is he?”
“I’m not sure,” Jim said casually. “I haven’t asked him yet. You don’t mind, do you?”
“No, of course not,” Tim said, snuggling up closer. “William’s great, isn’t he? You deserve to have someone nice like him after all the trouble I’ve given you.”
“You know what?” Jim whispered into Tim’s ear. “I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
The day finally arrived. After classes finished, the cricket team were travelling to an away match and so there would be nobody around the pavilion or the sports field apart from Jim’s athletes. On the pretext of having to attend a meeting, he deliberately curtailed the training session fifteen minutes earlier than usual in order to give himself time for what he had in mind.
With Jeremy and William safely ensconced in the changing room, he retreated to his den. He sat down and began reading The Times. After showering, the boys returned to the changing room, disturbing Jim with the sounds of their activities. Things went quiet again; he went back to reading. A couple of minutes later he heard Jeremy’s voice, loud and clear.
“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow,” the boy announced.
Jim put down the newspaper, opened the door and emerged from his hiding place.
“Hello sir!” Jeremy said, smirking at him. “We thought you were going to a meeting, didn’t we Will?”
“William, will you stay behind for a moment,” Jim said quietly.
William looked alarmed.
“Don’t worry,” Jeremy said nonchalantly, turning to the younger boy. “Mr. Cooper knows what we’ve been doing. Why d’you think we never got caught?” He turned back to Jim. “Okay sir, I’ll see you later.”
As Jeremy made his way out, Jim ushered William into the masters’ room. The boy looked shell-shocked.
“It seems like you and Jeremy have become very good friends,” Jim said quietly, resuming his seat.
“Yes sir,” William admitted, looking at the floor in front of him.
“And I believe that you enjoy what you’ve been doing together,” Jim continued. “Don’t worry; you’re not in any trouble.
“Yes sir,” William repeated.
He still didn’t look up; he might not be in trouble, but he was embarrassed nonetheless.
“As you know,” Jim said, “Tim will be leaving at the end of term, and as you may also know, he’s been my boy for the past two years. So now I need to find someone to replace him. I was hoping it might be you.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” William said. “Jeremy’s already asked me to be his younger friend and I’ve said yes.”
“That’s not a problem,” Jim said soothingly. “You can do both, if you want to that is.”
“I don’t know sir,” William said shaking his head. “What would Jeremy think?”
“Oh, he’s quite happy with the idea,” Jim said evenly. “So am I for that matter. As you seem to have discovered, Jeremy’s a much nicer lad than most people give him credit for. He’s like my right-hand man.”
“I’m sorry sir,” William said nervously. “It’s all come as such a shock. I mean, I do like you a lot sir. You’ve helped me so much with the jumping and hurdling; nobody’s ever treated my like that before.”
Jim stood up, putting his arm around William’s shoulder.
“You’re a very special, very talented boy, William,” he whispered. “We’ve only just scratched the surface of what you’re capable of. But I’m not going to pressure you. I’ll carry on helping you as much as I can even if you don’t want to be my boy.”
“I’d like to sir,” William said, looking right into Jim’s eyes, “but would it be all right?”
“Oh, we’d have to keep it very quiet,” Jim said, “but we have to do that anyway.” He paused, taking a deep breath. “Jeremy says you like having it up your bum.”
“Yes sir,” William conceded. “I love having him inside me. So do you want to bum me, sir?”
“I’d like that very much if you’re happy for me to do it,” Jim said, “but I’m a good bit bigger than Jeremy. Why don’t you find out what I’ve got for you?”
William reached across, undoing the top of Jim’s tennis shorts and pulling down the zip. He eased them over the man’s hips. He looked at the hard bulge in Jim’s briefs then pulled them down. His eyes widened.
“You’ve got a beautiful cock, sir!” he breathed excitedly. “I bet it would feel great having that up my arse!”
Jim took out the KY and squeezed some onto William’s fingers. He stood totally still as the boy smeared it over his penis. The sensations were exquisite; he was afraid that the slightest movement would cause him to ejaculate prematurely.
“Bend over the chair,” he said gently.
William did as he was told. Jim reached around, undoing the William’s shorts and sliding them down. The boy’s underpants were stained where Jeremy’s semen had seeped into them. He hooked his fingers inside the waistband and skinned them down William’s legs, taking care not to snag the lad’s throbbing erection. He surveyed his prize. William’s anus was noticeably dilated, a small area on each side glowing slightly. As he moved into position, the boy’s sphincter twitched sharply, another large bead of watery boy-cum spluttering out and trickling down his legs.
Jim homed in on the lad’s anus and pushed firmly. After a moment’s resistance, he penetrated him.
“Ohhhh!” William gasped. “Oh sir!!!”
“Just relax,” Jim said quietly. “You’re doing great.”
Jim held his position. Eventually the pressure on his penis began to ease. He held William around the hips, slowly drawing him backwards until his penis was completely embedded in the boy’s rectum. Although not a virgin, William was wonderfully tight; Jim’s sense of elation at penetrating the slender lad was quite indescribable. Instinctively he began to thrust, in, out, in, out, moving up through the gears until he was fucking the boy into near oblivion, William’s high-pitched moans and whimpers providing all the encouragement he could ever want.
He allowed his right hand to slide down, wrapping his fingers around William’s slim three inch penis, as hard as steel and throbbing powerfully. Within a few seconds William shuddered, his anus tightening sharply around Jim’s thrusting manhood. In the next instant the boy’s penis sprang to life, swelling and jiggling between Jim’s fingers.
Jim could hold out no longer. His balls rose in their sac, stars flashed; the whole room seemed to shake. A moment later his penis jerked violently, his thick creamy semen spurting repeatedly into William’s rectum, feeling as though it would go on for ever. Finally, his orgasm petered out. He felt completely drained. He’d ejaculated so much, his balls ached. It had been the longest, most powerful climax he’d achieved in almost two years. Gradually his heart rate began to slow. He carefully withdrew, his penis so sensitive he could hardly bear to touch it. William turned around, throwing his arms around Jim’s neck.
“Sir!” he gasped. “That was fantastic. You’ve cum loads, haven’t you sir? I can feel it inside me.”
“Oh yeah!” Jim breathed. “I can’t remember the last time I came as much as that.”
He leaned forwards, drawing the boy into a sensuous, passionate kiss.