Nice Try!

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----oooOOOooo----

Tired. Achingly tired.

I wasn't exactly the star of the team, but we'd just finished the house match against Fanshawes, and we'd won, and I'd scored the winning try. Not bad after a busy match as scrum half. Not bad at all.

But I was tired.

It'd been the first junior house match of the Autumn term, the first of many. We played in a league against the other ten houses, then the top four would be playing a semi-final and the winners would play in the final. And Gilberts, my house, we hadn't won through to the semis for years. 'This year,' I thought. 'This year we'll do it."

It'd been a heck of a tough match. Only a single point in it. And for ages I'd been sure they were going to beat us.

I'd been carried off the pitch by the team. It hadn't been a brilliant try, and Jim Fielding failed to convert it. But the try had been enough to inch a single point ahead thirty seconds before the ref was to blow up for no side and end the match.

They were all saying "Well done, Jake" to me and those who weren't carrying me were patting me on the back.. It felt really good. But damn, I was tired. Half broken.

We had about half a mile to walk back to the school buildings and the warmth of the showers. I hauled my tracksuit on over my purple and white rugby shirt and the bottoms over the mud of the boots, and felt its thin extra layer warm my body, now chilling from the sweat and excitement of the match. It was good, though, to overhear the housemaster saying to one of the parents who'd come to watch "Jacob Peterson saved it for us, you know." It wasn't often I got a compliment from Dismal Harry. This one may not have been to my face, but it was good enough.

We walked back cheerfully enough. Pete Mould, house captain, came over to congratulate us. Didn't say a great deal, but praise felt really good. The main thing he said was "Nice try, Jake. Nice try." And he patted me on the back. I was glowing. Totally glowing. I hadn't been the only person to score, to be sure. And in reality any of the tries and conversions and penalties were the winning score, but somehow scoring the last set of points, the ones that made the final score go our way, not their way, that was the winning score, and I'd done it.

Rugby was my thing. I sucked at schoolwork, loathed cricket, and was totally crap at athletics. This was my third year at Elthorn, my GCSE year. I wasn't too hopeful. My parents were pushing me like crazy, but I couldn't see any hope of more than a handful of passes, and none at grade A. As for A*, not a hope. Elthorn cost enough. My dad was always telling me how much it cost him. He was proud of being able to send me there, though. He'd gone there when he was a boy. It was a sort of tradition. But I couldn't spot the merits of the place. It had 'Public School Architecture', a sort of gothic monstrosity, a monument to education with Victorian overtones, and it was on a windswept site on the back of Elthorn Downs. They were famous for horse racing, but little else.

The town of Elthorn was nothing much to write home about, either. It had been a market town once. Had a market place, and once had a high street full of shops. Now it was all estate agents, banks and building societies. There was a new bit with a Theatre and a shopping centre, but nothing much for us to do when we were allowed to go down to the town. Which wasn't often enough. Because as a boarder I so wanted to get away from the place. I lived miles away, so home for the weekend wasn't a real option.

I'd already decided I wasn't going to send any son of mine there. There was something oppressive about the place. Regimented.

We chatted most of the way back. Past the pavilion, up the tarmac strip that always lay on your chest, and turned right, past the old fives courts. They used to be fives courts at least. Now they were a tall wall. Then up the stone steps, past the first house, Cranstons, and then to our boxroom and showers.

Only, as we passed Cranstons I found my eyes drawn to someone I hadn't seen before. Just coming out of the porch of Cranstons was a head with long, flowing, wavy light brown, almost blond hair. Shoulder length. Slightly mussed up, well, carelessly combed at least. Except that the hair wasn't tidy, I'd have thought it was a girl. Well, except that Elthorn didn't have any girl pupils.

Amazing what you can see in a short glimpse. Smiling face, light brown eyes, happy and talking to John Jefferies, a mate of mine in my year.

Didn't pay much heed at the time, except that I didn't recognise him, and the long hair was unusual.

It ran through my mind as I got the games kit off and went to hang it on the hot pipes to dry. That's where the towel was for the shower, too. Not a lot of modesty in our boxroom. Most of us wandered around in various degrees of nakedness heading to or from the shower room. When I'd been new I covered my body with the towel. I'd long since worked out that it was pretty pointless, especially since you didn't sport a towel in the showers. Anyway, we all had the same equipment, more or less. Well, except a couple of brothers, the Gilfedders. They'd been round twice in the queue where dicks were handed out. Maybe even three times. I mean we all noticed. Couldn't help noticing. But somehow no-one actually mentioned it.

I headed for the showers and draped my towel deftly on the window catch. Then I picked it off the floor and draped it deftly there again, and forced my way into the seething mass of bodies under the four shower heads. Somehow we all crowded into the showers at once. All fifteen of us under four shower heads.

Then we started on a choral rendition of the Mayor of Bayswater. After we'd dealt with the Italian, The Welsh Miner, and the Spaniard we ran out, and started on the Engineer's Song. We knew Dismal Harry wouldn't approve of our choice of so we sang it loud as we could. Pissing him off was a major objective.

Oddly, in the middle of this macho shower scene the head of long hair came back into my mind. Drifted in and then out again. Only the drift was enough to create an unpleasant twitch just where you do not want twitches in a shower full of other boys. I mean my mind was soon taken off it by the singing, but it was there. And it shouldn't have been. At least... No, that wasn't to be thought of, not in the shower anyway. Nor anywhere.

And then it was back.

Towel. I needed a towel.

Only the decision to get the towel and the gap between me and the towel was enormous. Three bodies enormous. And the open space, all of two yards between me and the window, just over by the urinal. All mod cons in our shower room! I had never, ever got hard in the shower. Never. Not even as a little kid. Never. I had to get to the towel. I reckoned I had about fifteen seconds maximum. Before disaster struck. Three bodies. Wet bodies. And no easy way through.

How? Naked grannies. People had said that naked grannies cured it.

At least it stopped it rising any more.

But I couldn't stay there, not in the shower. Not with it all clicked into gear. There was only so long I could think of naked grannies. So I tried to squeeze out of the shower.

There's a sort of unwritten rule that things get touched by accident in the shower, and that it doesn't matter. It can't be helped. Not with all those bodies under four shower heads. I pushed between the two nearest. As they split apart I ended up with a handful of soggy dick on my right and another one sort of sliding by my left hip and thigh. Naked grannies turned to blind panic. I had to walk slowly. Rushing was no good. The sap was rising again. Dangerous.

I was free of the mle of bodies. Only the tiled floor to cross. Six feet of tiled floor and with my back to the shower. I knew the towel would only hide it, but it was better than nothing. I tried to walk casually. Nonchalant. The more nonchalant I got the faster the time I had left seemed to fly away.

Blue towel. Hanging on the window. Grab it and drape it.

Got it.

Draped it.

Well, that was ok. A bunch of towel in front, nothing behind. What next. Shit! I was rock hard under the towel. Very bad news. Naked grannies did not work. I was trying to visualise what might happen if they saw me. Even that didn't get it to go down. Rock hard was rock hard. It wasn't going anywhere.

If it wasn't, then I had to. Out of there. Wet still, but out of there. But walking casually with the towel over my dick wasn't going to be easy, especially without getting dried, and with my ass hanging out of the back.

The only solution was to dry myself and pray. Luckily there was no-one needing a piss right then, so I could face the urinals and at least dry my back. But that left my front exposed. Heck it was so hard I could feel the skin trying to retract. And my mind was totally on my dick. I dried my back. This was awful. Awful. Hideous. No way out. Even the boxroom was no refuge.

Footfall in shoes on the tiled floor. Not good. Someone needing a piss. Not good at all, because I was facing the urinal. It had to go down. Had to.

Didn't.

Towel round the waist, grab and hold it in front. Sort of make space and compress it against my body at the same time. And then walk nonchalantly to the boxroom. This was awful. No-one had ever, ever seen me hard, and the showers were definitely not the place to try it out.

I made it out of the door. The strains of 'Dinah Dinah Show us your legs' had just started, and the volume was rising and then was muffled by the door closing behind me, trapping the steam and about half the volume of the singing. I headed for my locker, and clothes. I wasn't normally known for modesty. Usually I was the exhibitionist carrying the towel, walking around stark naked. It had never mattered before. Only I'd forgotten how to seem as though towels were normal. And that was a daft thought in itself.

The locker wasn't that far away, so I made it easily enough. It felt like I was dodging gunfire to get there. Over dramatic maybe, but it felt dangerous. I breathed a sigh of relief when I got there. Not that the problem had gone away. I mean it was so hard I reckoned that I'd make my fortune if only I could bottle it and sell the secret. Well, I did later, that is.

There was a different problem, though. Pete Hughes. Pete Hughes had the locker opposite mine. And Pete Hughes was sitting on the bench in front of his locker. Oh yes. Pete Hughes was always perving about younger boys, too. We never knew if he was serious or not. It was half fashionable to pretend to fancy a younger kid. It just wasn't fashionable to be near Pete Hughes, because, somehow, he seemed to be serious about it. And being near Pete Hughes with a rampant todger somehow seemed to be very threatening indeed. I always felt somehow that his eyes were everywhere.

And I had to get from the towel to the trouser with Pete bloody Hughes sitting at his locker with his x-ray fucking eyes.

Solution? Speed and facing away from him. I lined the shirt, boxers and trousers up with almost military one handed precision. It would have started to go down without Pete bloody Hughes being there, I'm sure it would.

"Not joining in the singing?"

Shit! He was speaking to me. Well, normally that was OK. It was just now and in this condition. "I've got some stuff to do," I said, wondering what stuff I had to do. I struggled one handed into the shirt. The other had tight hold of the towel.

"Modest today?"

"What?" He'd noticed. He must have noticed. All that trouble and Pete Hughes had noticed I was rock hard. No! I was dead meat.

"It's all right you know, Jake. Doesn't matter if you drop your towel near me, you know. I only fancy little boys, remember?"

"Yeah, right. Pull the other one." Was he hitting on me now? Couldn't be.

"Mind you, I've always thought you had a nice bum!"

"Piss off, Pete." But it had done the job. The valve had opened and it had wilted. I dropped one end of the towel, and got boxered and trousered.

"Lovely!" he was grinning at me. "Do you know, when you bent over to put your boxers on I could have sworn you winked at me!"

"You're gross. Fucking queer!" I was really hot under the collar. Some of it was to do with the ordeal I'd just been through. Some of it was because that long haired vision had swum into my brain again. None of it was because of what Pete had said. I'd never been homophobic. In joke, maybe. This was for real.

"Nice try, Jake. I've seen the way you look at me in the showers." And he was gone before I could hit him. I felt like hitting him. He was repellent, too. Zits. Who the heck would fancy him anyway? I think the adrenaline rush was what caused it. I very rarely got angry, but he got me angry. And I couldn't do anything about it.

Had he been teasing? I'd never looked at him in the showers. Did he know something I didn't? I hadn't got a girlfriend, but I'd never been interested in a girlfriend. And I had Suddenly got rock hard when a load of hair and a smiling face came into my mind. A boy's face. A happy, smiling, good looking boy's face, and scruffy long not quite blond hair.

But I wasn't interested in boys. Night time wanking involved either fantasies about girls, or simple physical stuff. I'd never had any thoughts about boys. Never.

This was stupid. I couldn't be queer just because Pete Hughes had teased me. Pete was always teasing someone. And I couldn't be queer because a boy's face had come to me in the shower. It had to be the excitement of the match, the scoring of the try. That's what it had to be.

Mind you, it was still disconcerting, especially Pete's remark about winking at him. I'm not sure quite why that was so disconcerting. It just seemed so weird having another boy talk about somewhere so private.

It led me to thinking. Arseholes. Eww, the word seemed so dirty. A friend's parents had a Staffordshire Bull terrier. "All balls and arsehole" was how his dad had described him at speech day last term. And when you looked at one it looked, well, like an arsehole. There was an old joke from prep school, about a little kid visiting a brothel. The punch line was "grease the cat's arse, little Billy wants a shag!" Wasn't a funny joke, that wasn't the point, but it sprang to mind. Animals' arseholes. Gross.

I couldn't see the idea of sticking my dick into one. Not an animal's one, but another boy's one. And the idea of having one in mine didn't appeal either. And I couldn't see how anything would go in anyway. Eww. I finished dressing, finishing just as the showers disgorged their load. I slipped out as the riot slipped in, and I made the fresh air outside the boxroom.

My brain hadn't finished torturing me, though. It had gone into compare mode. Fiesta. We sometimes got a copy. Or maybe Escort. Makes you wonder about Ford and its model range. A pair of cars named after dirty magazines. Gynaecological pictures. I couldn't see anything in my minds eye that was appealing about a girl's bits. I mean not at all. In my mind the pic of a chesty bottle-blonde had appeared, kneeling, facing away from the camera, with all her bits in hard focus, legs apart, and the view through the gap of a pair of pendulous tits framed by thighs, like looking into a ridge tent. And instead of a ridge pole there were some weird folds of skin. It looked like a set of innards. I knew that was the bit I was meant to fuck. We had biology lessons. They told us these things.

I hadn't got hard when I'd seen that picture, not even a twitch. I'd made all the right macho noises, but nothing stirred. The others who looked at it got turned on. Well, I supposed they did. They said so, anyway. Did the fact that I hadn't actually mean anything?

It looked revolting. I'd never quite liked the word 'cunt', but it seemed appropriate, somehow. A short revolting word for a revolting thing. I couldn't reconcile the fact that a small dick went in and a huge baby came out, either.

But then, when I thought about it, the only boy's equipment I liked was my own. I couldn't get excited about a boy's bits. From a purely artistic standpoint girls were neater than boys, at least when standing upright, or lying down. There was more to see on a boy, mind you. And I'd seen more boys of course, in the showers. They were different shapes from behind, too. The bums. Odd because on the beach when I'd been little and I'd made sandcastles with my cousins there hadn't seemed to be any difference between girls and boys. Well except the willy. No-one could call it a more grown up word than a willy at that age!

I found I'd headed for the quad and the noticeboards. Not for any real reason. I was wandering aimlessly. One of the notices was the preliminary house rugby league. I looked at that to see who we'd be playing next. The result of the day's game was already up. We had a win, of course. So did Cranstons, our next opponent. They'd beaten Oldfields, so it was going to be a tough game. Oldfields, apart from being the only house not named after a person, but named because if its site, on the old fields would you believe, was tipped to win the entire series. A great start for Cranstons, and not fatal for Oldfields, plenty of games to go.

"Hi Jake." It was John. I half hoped he'd have him with him. Whoever he was. I turned to look.

He was alone. "Hiya. See you won too."

"You see me one two?"

"Pillock. You lot won your game too."

"Yeah. That kind of won too, not the other kind of one two."

John and I got on pretty well. We'd both gone to Knaresbrough House, the prep school at the other end of Elthorn, and had been friends since we were seven or so. But however well we got on I couldn't ask who his long haired friend was. I just couldn't. It was the shower bit that made it so I couldn't. "Who was that you were chatting to as we came past Cranstons from our game?" So much for couldn't.

"You mean Charlie Nelson?"

"Dunno. You tell me?"

"Jake, you're a prat at times. What did he look like?"

"Long hair." I tried to be non committal. "Thought he was totty at first."

"Couldn't be totty. We've never managed to smuggle anyone in yet. That was Charlie. Why'd you ask?"

"Hadn't seen him before. He in our year?"

"Yep. Started the term late. He was in South America somewhere with his folks. Something delayed their trip back. He was meant to be here from the start of term."

"We don't often get people join in our year though."

"True. Never asked him about that."

"You going in to tea?"

"Was heading that way. You coming?" So we walked together to the dining hall that tea was being served in. Nothing very special, loaves of bread, red jam, and cups of tea. Enough to keep us going until supper. It was a sort of four o'clock ritual, followed by the last two lessons of the afternoon. Not everyone went, but as food went there wasn't a lot they could do to spoil it. Made it the best meal of the day!

Lessons weren't special. Not a lot was. Not supper, not the endless time it took to do our prep, not the mucking about at table tennis. It was pretty ordinary as days went. Even Pete Hughes acted normal. Well, normal for him, at least. Which meant going over to offer to help one of the new boys with his prep whether he needed help or not, and standing very close to him, pressed against him, kind of. Wasn't the kid who needed help. Well he did, to get away from Pete, but it was Pete who really needed it. Fashion was one thing, but pestering kids was another.

Bed. Lights out at around ten thirty. This year was almost bliss. Ours had been the last house to be modernised. They'd finished the work over the summer. Last term we'd slept in the old dormitories of twenty or so of us, on old iron beds. We'd made a sort of macho thing about it, you know, the last of the Victorians and stuff. But we'd been jealous of the other houses with smaller dorms, and study bedrooms for two, and then sort of bedsits for the sixth form. Dorms are hellish embarrassing places when you need a wank and the bedsprings follow every vibration by rattling as squeaking. You get pretty good at being quiet though, specially if your bed's anywhere near Pete.

This term I had a study bedroom. Bed up near the ceiling, and a sort of cubby-hole underneath which was desk, cupboards, wardrobe and stuff. I shared it with Alan Francis. Just one other person to sleep with. And, best yet, the beds didn't squeak or rattle.

Alan was all right. Poor sod had an outcrop of zits like a lunar landscape, but he was a good mate. Not friend exactly, more like partner in adversity. The best thing was that he snored. Gently, but definitely. And Alan snoring meant that Alan was asleep. And when your room mate's asleep, then wanking's a pretty private matter. And wanking was one of my hobbies, probably the one I was best at.

That night we chatted for a while as usual, and the conversation flagged. Alan snored in mid sentence. And then set in for a regular, quiet, rhythmic, snoring sleep. Usually I couldn't sleep without a wank. Fell fast asleep afterwards, but couldn't sleep until I'd cum. Alan's snoring was almost a cue for my hand to move to my dick, massage it though my pjs, and release it from its cloth cocoon, and silently, breathing gently, making no noise, to move my foreskin up and down, keeping a steady rhythm until the feeling overtook me, my buttocks clenched, my hips raised and I bucked as I came over my belly.

That night was no different.

Only, as I got to the buttock clenching part the girl in my head vanished. And Charlie Nelson arrived instead. Fully clothed, hair blowing in the breeze, smiling, eyes shining at me. My rational mind wanted my hand to stop, but if the fire brigade had run into the room just then, even that couldn't have stopped me. As hard as I tried to force Charlie's face away my hand worked even harder. He seemed to be walking towards me as my hand finished the last blistering strokes and I came harder than all except the first time I wanked, and fired cum over my belly. And Charlie's face smiled at me. And he brushed his hair back from his face with his left hand, and faded from view as I lay there struggling to conceal my panting for breath.

I'd just had an orgasm thinking about a boy.

I'd had a wank with Charlie Nelson as my fantasy.

I'd just had an orgasm thinking about Charlie Nelson!

I didn't even know Charlie. I'd just passed him for a few seconds as he came out of Cranstons.

But, I'd cum with his face burned into my head.

Shit.

Shit, shit, shit, shit!

The first real person, real life person who wasn't a film or pop star, who wasn't Buffy, wasn't Britney that I'd seen in my head as I wanked was a boy! A fucking boy!

Oh shit!

This was awful. This was wrong. Made me just like Pete Hughes, a fucking queer. Wait. No it didn't. It just meant I'd had an accident. Two things had got confused. Yeah, right. And the shower had been a confusion, too. Seeing him in my head and getting rock, rock hard. Plus his invasion of my head just then, and thy look on his face, too. Indescribably sexy. Not plastic like Buffy. There was something sensual there. Fool. This was my head. He couldn't be sensual.

I tried to force Buffy back into focus. The first show, the one where she was really cute.

No luck.

The hair I got was darker blond and shorter. And the face wasn't hers. Nothing was hers. Nothing was female.

Instead I got details I didn't even known I'd noticed about Charlie. Baggy grey trousers; tie at half mast; jacket too short, and obviously from the second hand store.

I was scared. No, not scared. Worried. It had to be an isolated incident, this picture of Charlie in my head; had to be. Had to be the excitement of the game, and the winning try, and the atmosphere afterwards as people had congratulated me, and I'd somehow transferred it onto a head of hair that I'd thought was totty. That had to be it.

Yep, that had to be it. I'd been all happy and excited, and confused Charlie Nelson with totty. This was my brain getting its own back. The sin of pride, that's what it was. Pride comes before a fall. Well, this was the fall.

I could cope with that. It made sense. Yeah, I could cope with that.

And I drifted off at last into a wakeful sleep.

The thing I hated most about the rising bell was the morning erection. I know we all had them. I know because we all discussed it, and how none of us wanted to get out of bed until it'd gone down. It was one of those things we all hated. Well, all except Pete Hughes. Last term, and all the other five terms he'd been walking round sporting his, barely concealed inside his pjs in the old big dorm, and trying to rip the duvet's off the rest of us, saying "Come on, let's see! Aww you're shy." I mean Pete's had been fascinating. Not that it was ever actually totally visible, but it had been a hidden thing to compare with.

It was just Pete himself that was revolting. If that was what being gay was, then no wonder none of us were interested in other boys. Yuck.

Only I was, wasn't I. Interested in another boy. Stood to reason that I must be, because you just don't get other boys faces in your head when you wank unless there is something going on in your head. I remembered the logic I'd used the previous night. Somehow, in daylight it didn't stand up to scrutiny.

I was trying to put it out of my mind as I lurched down from the bed and started to get dressed. I didn't need to shave, at least. I'd shaved the previous week, so that saved time. We had zero modesty, Alan and I. We each stripped off content in our nakedness, and dressed from scratch. It's been pretty natural ever since Knaresbrough House to strip off and change clothes that way. No-one gives a damn. Well, we did when puberty was kicking in, because things were changing and growing, and hair was arriving and stuff, but not before and not after.

Only today, as I was sitting down fighting a sock, I looked over at Alan. I didn't really notice what I was doing for ages, but I was running my eyes over his body. I caught myself wondering what it would actually be like to touch another boy, or to have another boy touch me. I knew some kids at prep school had got together and wanked each other. I never had, hadn't even been tempted. Now I was, half.

I caught myself looking at Alan before he caught me doing it. Heck, that had been a shock. It wasn't that I fancied him or anything, he'd just been handy to look at. I mean he was slim, had a good body, had a great suntan, and was pretty athletic. He'd have made a great statue with Charlie's head.

Ah.

Charlie again.

This was getting stupid.

Not stupid. Worrying.

Now I had a naked body and a good looking head. There was no denying that Charlie was good looking. Anyone could see that he was. You didn't have to be queer to see that. Come to that you didn't have to be queer to see that Alan had a good body. You just had to be able to see proportions and things. That it was naked was just something that made it easier to see, that was all. Anyway, I'd only been looking at Alan three quarters on. Mostly he was facing away from me. So I hadn't been studying the part that I reckoned queer kids would study. The part that seemed to interest Pete Hughes so much.

The day got neither easier nor weirder. Apart from wondering what the hell was going on in my head it was a normal day. Games in the afternoon, like every Tuesday and no lessons afterwards. Tuesdays were better days to get stuff done. Now I was in the fifth form I could even go down to the town if I wanted, after games. I didn't want. Games had been standard school rugby. The side I was in had the possibility of being in a school team for matches against other schools. I was pretty much a definite for the team. The showers afterwards caused me to wonder, though. It was different if the house team wasn't showering. Kids came in in dribs and drabs as their games ended. Still the same four shower heads, still the same room, but the atmosphere wasn't charged like it had been the day before.

I did let my eyes travel over the various ill assorted bodies, though. Consciously, I mean, instead of just being in the showers like on previous days. It wasn't that I was particularly interested in boys' bodies, or equipment, but I wondered if I was. I know that doesn't make much sense.

From an aesthetic point of view, purely clinical, I preferred the appearance on equipment like my own. Close hung set of balls, neat, smooth skinned dick, foreskin ending just far enough past the tip not to be long and floppy, and not to reveal what was inside. There was quite a selection, though, from the first years most of whom were hairless and scale models, all the way up to Max Abelson, final year, a mass of dark body hair like a huge grizzly bear, and a squat circumcised dick retracted and almost hidden by a forest of black pubes.

I didn't like Max without his kit on, I decided. With it he wasn't bad looking. Without it he looked like a throwback. Almost none of us were circumcised. My dad had told me it was a weird habit and was dying out except for some religions, Jews for sure, and Muslims, I think. I wasn't keen on the long floppy foreskins that drooped past the end of the dick, though the ones that seemed a little too short for the equipment looked more interesting. Only 'interesting' and 'keen' weren't the right words. This was an academic exercise.

Anyway, even with this study of exquisite and not so exquisite youth, nothing stirred inside my own foreskin. Everything seemed under total control. Yesterday had been an aberration, pure and simple. It was a relief. A great relief.

Mind you, as I got changed I fell to wondering what Charlie looked like naked. Academic wondering, that is. But I wondered all the same. I hadn't even seen him since that glimpse yesterday, but I was wondering about his body. That was a bit much. It had to mean I was queer. It just had to.

There was no-one to ask. Who do you talk to about this stuff anyway? Going to see Dismal harry was no use. He wasn't the least bit approachable. I hated him anyway. The chaplain should have been the obvious choice. Only he was a rigid man, Alasdair McAndrew, and he sounded like a 'wee free'. He wasn't going to give any counsel, wise or otherwise. He was just going to condemn. The school doctor? Ludicrous to make an appointment to tell him, and so very embarrassing. And what would he do, anyway? Matron was as much use. All she ever did was give you milk of magnesia. The only people left were my mates. Yeah, right. I was certainly going to ask them!

So it was just me.

No. No it wasn't. Not just me. Inspiration struck. The net. And I had some IT prep to do. I could head for the IT room and see what I could find. If I went at tea there wouldn't be too many people around. And it was teatime. Cracked it.

When I got there I was right. I was one of four people who were there. So I logged on and grabbed a search engine. But what to put in? I struggled for a while. 'Gay' and 'teenager' seemed the best idea. That had to provide a list of sites that would help. Surely it had to. So I clicked the search button and found 4,677,973 sites met the criteria. Well, they were rated as the most likely sites at the front, so I clicked at the one on the top of the list without looking at the description.

It was gay teenager all right. A set of small pictures of boys who looked much older than me with erect cocks and all sorts of stuff. I hit the back button fast. It didn't look what I wanted. Especially the one with... Well, never mind what it had. Heck, our net usage was monitored. I'd been to a porn site through my own login. I was going to get killed for that. A great idea doomed to total failure. I scratched my head and thought again. And failed. Because the only words I could think of searching for were homosexuality, or sexuality, or sexual problems. And anything with the letters 'sex' was censored. We even had trouble searching for Essex and Sussex.

I gave up in disgust. Logged off. There was always home, but that was two weeks away. I had free net access there, uncensored. But it was two whole weeks away. No, two and a half weeks away. Mind you, I could have a look at that site again at home, if I wiped the history afterwards. But school was no use at all.

That Tuesday was totally unproductive for me. I got deeper into the feeling that there was something wrong with me. I even found a magazine in the dayroom of naked totty to look at, and it did nothing for me. Not that I was surprised; it never had in the past, either. Just reinforced my idea that tits and entrails weren't my idea of fun. I'd just put it back when Pete Mould came in with Ollie Littlemore, deputy house captain.

"Nice try, Jake," Ollie said. "Let's have the magazine."

"What magazine?"

"The one you just put behind the cushions on the sofa you're sitting on. Horny little bastard!"

"Oh, that magazine!" No point in denying something if they knew exactly where I'd put it. I fished it out and handed it over. Somehow I didn't expect we'd be seeing that one again, just like the rest. Well, to me it was no great loss.

"Just had a wank, have you?" I didn't like Ollie, nor his tone as he asked me. I found I was blushing. I shook my head. "Bet you want one, though. Maybe you'd like to help me with one, cute kid like you are?"

He didn't mean it? Surely he didn't mean it? He couldn't mean it. "No. No I wouldn't. Not at all. That's so gross!" I couldn't walk off exactly, Ollie and Pete were in authority over me, could issue tiresome punishments to waste my time. They had just enough authority to make my life awkward, and in the mood I was in I wanted no trouble at all. I remembered that Ollie had pretended to fancy me when I was a first year. I wondered suddenly just how much was pretend. I mean he hadn't been as creepy as Pete Hughes was to the first years, but it had felt pretty odd. Maybe if he hadn't been like that, just maybe I'd be feeling more relaxed about everything now, but he made me feel uneasy, even then, and it had carried forward somehow. Made me feel very strange about what I was already feeling strange about: my odd thoughts about Charlie Nelson.

"Joke, Jake. Joke."

"Yeah, right." I half believed him. Half. But I wasn't in the mood. It must've showed on my face. I know I felt a mixture of anger and disgust. And half the disgust was at me for what was going through my head. I felt colour run to my cheeks, too.

Pete Mould jumped in, "Hang on Ollie, something's up"

"Yeah, Jake is, after looking at that mag!"

"Ollie, piss of a second, could you? Please?"

"Why?" I suddenly realised as he asked Pete why that Ollie was thick as pigshit.

"Just do me a favour, Ollie, and vanish, would you? For Chrissake take the mag and go and have a wank or something. I need to talk to Jake a second." Muttering and grumbling, Ollie disappeared through the door. "Jake? What's wrong?"

I looked at his face. Eyes really kind, genuine concern on his face. I wanted to tell him, to ask him. Inside my head the words 'I think I'm gay' were forming, trying to spit themselves out. He'd sat on the edge of the sofa, lower than me, wasn't making a lot of eye contact, was looking down at the floor. I tried to trust him, tried to ask him 'am I gay?' I tried. Only I couldn't. One reason was that I didn't dare. The other was that I couldn't control my eyes. They'd filled with wet, and my voice was about to follow if I wasn't careful. Only you don't cry in the fifth form. And you don't cry in front of your head of house. I shook my head. Sniffed. Damn. He'd know I was near tears. That made it worse. Sniffed again. "Nothing."

"Look, I'm not very good at this," he said. "Only I can see there's something wrong."

"Isn't." I didn't trust myself to say more than a word at a time. I wanted to. Suddenly Pete Mould seemed like an angel. He was a pretty good bloke.

"Maybe not now, OK? Maybe you just need someone to talk to later. I'll listen if you need it. I don't like to see people upset, that's all." He stopped talking, just let his eyes flick up to mine, then down to the floor again. I wanted to, no, needed to tell someone. I just didn't dare. I was beginning to feel as though I was going to burst.

"I'm fine. Really." Like hell I was. But I couldn't put into words what was going on in my brain.

"Hope so. You're the best damned scrum half we have for the junior side." He slipped out of the door.

I was, too. Pete Mould was a bit of a hero for me. It felt really good amidst the turmoil that he'd noticed. Felt pretty good that he seemed to care enough to try to help. No-one could help, though. Except me. I had to work this through. Had to. I couldn't see how anyone at school could help. Tell one and the rest know.

I pulled myself together. Managed to get rid of the felling of disgust that Ollie caused. I know it's weird, but where Pete Hughes was pathetic, Ollie Littlemore had made my flesh crawl. I almost felt I had to wash.

It would be easy to say that the rest of the day was a blur, and dismiss it like that, but it wouldn't be true. It wasn't. Prep had to be done, and I got distracted with my mates afterwards, too. The best thing was that I slept well. I think I was exhausted, because I remember going to bed, I remember waiting for Alan to start snoring, and I remember waking up at the rising bell. Very unlike me. Dreams or not I remembered the sleep as dreamless. Replenishing.

Wednesdays were always different. Manic cleaning of Corps kit. Blancoed webbing, polished brasses and toecaps you could see up a Scotsman's kilt in. Every other morning was chapel. Wednesdays was an assembly in Big Hall to hear something important from the Head. Of course there was never anything important to hear, but it was the only assembly we had each weak, and all the announcement business was done then. Stuff like school team colours was awarded. Not by the Head, but by the Head Boy, those.

Corps was after lunch. We got changed into army or RAF uniforms, formed up on the parade ground, and played soldiers. Some days we were in battledress and had to be awesomely smart, other days in fatigues and could be just smart. I quite likes the shouting and stamping, so pretended to hate Corps while secretly enjoying it a whole lot.

That day I had a surprise. Formed up in the platoon beside me was an outpouring of long dark blond hair under a black beret. My heart skipped a beat. What if he knew what had been going on inside my head?

There wasn't any talking allowed on parade. That had to wait until we'd been split up into our various groups after inspection. Our platoon was Signals. Wandering around the grounds with radios pretending to be at war. Mostly all you heard on the radio was stuff like 'six-niner, six niner, radio check, over?' Really exciting. When we'd marched off to the Signals hut and got allocated our silly tasks I found I was in a group with my friend John and with Charlie. Our job was to walk to the top of the athletics track, and act as a sort of hub for the radio net around the grounds. We had to pretend that there was an invasion or something.

I'd have remembered if we were doing the invading or being invaded if I hadn't been in a blind panic because I was going to meet, talk to the boy who was causing me al this uproar inside. Well he wasn't causing it. I was. About him. I felt so awkward. I never had trouble meeting new people. Never. Never!

"Jake, this is Charlie. You asked me about him on Monday."

"Hi," Charlie said, smiling under the weight of the radio. We had steam powered radio sets. "Asked John about me? What's that all about?" He almost seemed to be flirting. Unless I was imagining it.

I blushed. I could have kicked John, too. "Nothing really. Hadn't seen you before, that's all. Saw you as we came back from the house match on Monday chatting to John." I was starting to babble. His smile was getting through to me. I was fucking well not queer. I wasn't. My blush got worse. I wanted to be somewhere else. Only I wanted to be there, too. There under the gaze of those deep blue eyes, to be smiled at by that cheeky smile.

"I'm new," he said. Just that. Two words smiled at me.

"Where're you from?"

"Oh, we moved near here in the summer," he said, not actually saying. "My parents wanted to move me to a school nearer to our new home. So I've ended up here."

"What d'you make of the place so far?"

"Much the same as my last school, really. Except we had girls, too. John's been showing me round and making sure I don't get too lost."

"No problem," John said. "I quite like having someone to wet nurse!"

"I'll get you for that later! Wet nurse indeed!"

We were walking up the steep bank leading to the athletics track proper. We must have been the only school without an all weather running track. This one had been built in the late 60s and was grass. Level and everything, but not a decent surface, and no decent equipment. Our radio hub was to be set up concealed in plain sight at the far corner, and up at the top of the bank that led to what used to be farmland, but was now a housing estate. Excellent tactical position, and of course totally invulnerable to sniper fire and enemy attach. Not. Charlie was lugging the radio on his back and walking between me and John. I could see they were getting on very well. Not for the first time I wished I was in the same house as John. It made keeping up our old friendship quite tough sometimes, this bricks and mortar divide between us. It looked to me as though Charlie and he were firm friends already.

I couldn't resist glancing at Charlie as we walked. He was good looking. Anyone could see that. That wasn't a queer thing to notice, surely? So many ordinary looking boys at the school, any school, that the good looking ones stood out. When we stopped and set up the radio I was able to look at him properly. Not just good looking. His hair shone in the autumn sunlight when he removed the beret, and his grin made his eyes sparkle. When his lips parted his teeth where pearl white, and all were perfect. This wasn't a boy at all, but a marble statute carved by Michaelangelo, and made warm with life. Even his voice smiled. And his face was so tanned. It was almost as though he had an inner glow. I wondered if this was what falling in love was like.

Heady, tingly, breathless, my heart pounding as I tried to make sane conversation. I must have managed despite myself. It wasn't a hot day, but I was sweating. I could feel it running down between my shoulderblades. And I could hear a voice saying 'you are, Jake. You're gay, queer, a fag. This is who you are, what you are.' And, sitting on the autumn grass, with my best friend and with Charlie I could believe it. I even found I didn't care what queers did together, I just wanted to do it. With Charlie.

Only I had no idea how to even talk to him about it. How did you tell another boy you would do anything he asked you to? How did you say 'I think I've fallen in love with you'? How did you say 'I want you more than anything else in the whole world'?

Well, you didn't. Not in front of your best friend at least, and probably not at all. Which meant I was suddenly terrified. I was gay, a poof, a fag, a queer, a fucking uphill gardener, a fudge packer, diner at the downstairs restaurant. And even so I couldn't have the one person who'd shown me without words who and what I was. Or if I could have him, I had no idea how to. I didn't even know what I wanted to do. I wanted to be with him, that much I knew. Didn't want anyone else to be with him. I hardly knew him, but I knew I wanted him so much. I could feel the urge to put my arms round his shoulders and to hold him close and tell him I loved him. And that I was his, if he wanted me, that was what I wanted to tell him too.

"... radio check, over?" squawked from the radio and brought me back to earth with a bump.

"Your turn, Jake," John was saying. "You answer the damned thing. We're bored with this game already." He was sitting a little way away, Charlie between me and him. I must have been miles away for those few moments, or maybe not so few. I hadn't noticed anything at all, not even seen them move away.

I handled the radio call, and the rest of them for the rest of the afternoon. Inside my head was cotton wool. All white fluff and no real use. All I knew was I'd just fallen in love with a very beautiful boy who I barely knew, and who I wanted to know. One who didn't talk about his background, or wouldn't. A mystery. And that meant I was queer. Which wasn't so bad, I thought, if I could have Charlie, maybe someone like Charlie, to share my life with.

I couldn't do more than make trivial conversation as we shambled back to the Signals Hut at the end of the afternoon. Just time to dismiss, and to change back into mufti and have tea. We split up, of course. And I found I was missing Charlie already. No chance to see him for the rest of the day. Socialising between houses wasn't approved of, especially in the evening. We may have lived close together, but we also lived in isolated tribal groups.

I don't know how I managed to get my prep done that night. I don't think I did it very well, but I did it. All I had to do was to hand it in the next day. None of the subjects were particularly vital. Or at least they were subjects I was good at and could do easily. None of them needed huge concentration. But at bedtime, after Alan had started snoring I took out my frustration and mental pictures of Charlie on my dick. It wasn't an accident that night that his face was in my head when I came. It wasn't an accident that I was looking into his eyes and imagining it was his hand not mine. It wasn't an accident that my other hand was stroking his hair and telling him how much I loved him. It was an accident that I cried out when I came.

"Wha?" A sleepy voice jolted awake from the other bed. Alan's voice. "Shit, Jake, can't you wait until I'm asleep before jerking off? Or do it quietly or something like I do? I don't need to hear you in the throes of passion you know."

I was too out of breath to reply. It had caught me totally by surprise. Very fast, unexpected, and fierce, like a jolt of electricity from the mains. Silence seemed to be the best policy. Least said soonest mended, or something. It was a heck of an image to hold onto. I held onto it as long as I could. I tried to go to sleep with my arms round Charlie Nelson. I was looking forward already to seeing him in chapel in the morning, even though I'd only see him in the distance.

I woke before the bell, and just lay there, thinking about him, wondering what he looked like without his clothes on, wondering if his tan was all over, and knowing it wasn't. This was Thursday. It was only on Monday and Tuesday that I'd been disgusted about thinking that way about another boy, and on Monday I'd had such a lousy time in the shower from just a glimpse of him. Now on Thursday I was undressing him and actually wondering what it would be like to touch him, kiss him, and, well, I couldn't quite get to grips with the rest. Only I knew I wanted it, now. It was very, very scary being gay, though. I was. I supposed I was, anyway. You can't feel stuff like that for a boy unless you are.

I was up, shaved even though I hardly needed to, and dressed almost as the bell went. Breakfasted very soon after, and then back to the house to wait to go down to chapel.

When we went down I saw John and Charlie walking together, well in front of me. I couldn't catch them up, didn't really want to, either. I hadn't worked out how to get close to Charlie at all, and I didn't dare spoil it by charging in like a bull at a gate. I just had to gaze at the back of his lovely head from the distance, and love from afar. Well, if you could love someone you hardly knew. Maybe it was lust. I'd never been in love before, never lusted before either.

All that morning, all through Thursday lessons, blissfully unconscious of double maths, I dreamed of getting close to him. I even wrote his name inside the cover of my ring binder, then crossed it out so no-one could see, the write it back in again, then crossed it out again. I was so elsewhere I got given a hundred lines in biology for not paying attention and I didn't care.

After lunch I checked the noticeboards to see whether I was playing rugby, and found I wasn't. I had the choice of squash, or running a cross country round the downs. Exercise was compulsory. I couldn't get a squash court nor could I join anyone else, so it was to be the cross country.

Simple route, the cross country. Up the steepish drive to the gate, right along the road, the right into Elthorn Downs, alongside the municipal golf course, down and up several slippery chalk soiled hills to the grandstand, left along the race course to the tea hut and back down to rejoin the outward route where we turned off the road on the way out. The terrain was hilly and there was also light scrubby woodland in places, with the greens and fairways fitted in around it. I didn't mind cross country. It kept me fit, and helped with the stamina I needed for rugby. The route was maybe three miles, maybe less, and I could easily finish in less than twenty minutes, maybe much less.

I got changed in a leisurely way, choosing to let the rush subside for those who had to get to pitches by fixed times, and letting my lunch go down. Because of the road element I chose all terrain trainers. Spikes would have been ideal if it had been competitive, but spikes and tarmac were a waste of time. And I jogged off up the hill. I wasn't in a huge rush. I was going to do some interval training on the route and also stop a couple of times to work out and stretch a bit. I planned on a total of about thirty minutes, intending to get back breathless, warm and not overstretched. I was keen on my sport, but not stupid about it.

I'd planned three exercise points. The first one I'd completed just after the first dip, and I was going gently still down the dip after the next rise ready to sprint up it. The next exercise point was to be at the grandstand, and the final one in a clearing as I cut through the woody bit after the tea hut.

All was right with the world as I jogged and sprinted and bent and stretched my way round the downs. It was a nice day, still the summer end of autumn, and birds were singing, helping the lightness of my heart as I tried to plan how I'd manage to talk to Charlie. If I could ever get him alone, that was, because he always seemed to be with John.

I touched the teahut. That was a ritual. Left at the grandstand, and along to the teahut. Touch the hut and cross the road heading back for the coppice. No traffic, so the road crossing was easy, and up the short grassy rise to the wood edge, then into the woods to the clearing, maybe forty feet across, and grassy. And there I started my final set of exercises.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw an Elthorn shirt. The black and white hoops of Cranstons. It was just away from the clearing, well quite a bit away, and in the woodland. Unless you'd been were I was, and had been bending and stretching you wouldn't have seen it. I decided to finish my set and get the shirt to take it back to its owner. Didn't think anything about it until I'd done the final toe touches.

I don't know what made me go quietly over. I don't suppose making a noise would have mattered, though. I didn't get very far, but what I saw made me look again.

It wasn't one shirt. It was two.

Two Cranstons shirts, and with Cranstonites in them. And each Cranstonite had his head between the other one's legs and I knew just what they were doing. When you see that, well, you just have to look. Anyone would. They were wrapped up totally in each other. I wanted to watch. This was one of the things I wanted to do with Charlie. Well, I think it was. So I watched. And as I watched I recognised first one then the other. Recognised them both. Saw who was sucking whom on that autumn day, that bright day with birds singing and my heart all light and skipping and hopping. Saw them, recognised them and felt betrayed.

John.

John was getting and giving a blowjob.

John was getting and giving a blowjob to Charlie. My best friend and the boy I'd fallen for were lovers.

"No!" Can you scream the word 'no'? I think it was in my head, not out loud. They were oblivious, driven by an inner need, involved in each other, enjoying each other, lost in a private world. My head was screaming betrayal. It was all in my head. I was crying and running at the same time. Blindly through the woods, twigs brushing by me, and brambles at my legs, I ran, ran, ran, one branch grabbing my shirt and ripping the tough fabric at my side, catching my skin and drawing blood as it caught me. I hardly felt it. Hardly felt it at all. I ran. Tears of rage and frustration streaming down my face, I ran. I ran down the last mile and half back to the school. I ran, sprinted almost, across the downs, not even looking for traffic as I crossed the roads, two roads, on the way back, at least one car horn blowing, a squeal of tyres, torn shirt flapping at my side, ripped wide open by the branch. Eyes defocussed, the name "Charlie" resounding in my head with my tears. I loved him. I hated him. I hated John for taking him from me, hated me for loving him, for needing him, and felt so stupid, all at the same time.

"Jake!"

I ignored the shout.

"Jake!" louder

I ignored it again. I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to stop, to turn, to see them. I never wanted to see them again. Neither of them.

"Jacob Peterson!"

No-one called me Jacob. No-one. It stopped me in my tracks. Only I was still crying fit to burst. I crumpled into a heap, hearing footfall behind me getting closer and slowing to a stop.

"Jake?" It wasn't John, wasn't Charlie. "Jake?" the voice was out of breath, but soft and gentle.

I was crumpled on the ground, sort of rolled into a ball, and sobbing. That together with being it of breath from running so hard made me totally incoherent.

"Jake, it's all right." I had an arm round my shoulders as he knelt beside me. I was starting to recognise the voice. "I saw, Jake. It's all right."

"Saw?" I managed the one word between sobs.

"Yes, Jake. I saw. I wasn't following you, I was simply behind you. I was running the same route as you, I suppose. Must have been. As I came through the coppice into the clearing I saw you run off through the trees, and I saw them both get up looking startled. I knew, Jake. It's all right." Both his arms were round me. "You're bleeding."

"Don't care." I was still crying, still breathing impossibly hard.

"You're hurt."

"Inside. Hurt's inside." I knew who it was now, without opening my eyes, without getting up, I know who it was.

"He's very beautiful, isn't he?"

"Yes. Oh God yes." Something was letting me start to say what was in my heart.

"Jake, I have a friend at his old school, Charlie Nelson's old school."

"So what?"

"Well, he told me why Charlie had to leave in a hurry."

"Don't want to know. I love him... " Shit. I'd just told Pete that I loved another boy. "Oh God... I didn't mean to say that." I huddled into a ball again.

"He's lovely. But he's not worth it. He's cheap, even if he is beautiful. He went through the entire school, near enough. He got kicked out in the end for screwing the headmaster's son, and his daughter. So my friend said. You deserve better, someone to love you in return, not screw you and spit you out."

"No!" But somehow I believed him. The sobs had started to go. Pete Mould had his arms around me still, and he was holding me, strong and gentle. "You mean I found I was gay all for nothing?"

"That depends on a few things, Jacob." His voice was so soft and gentle. I felt safe with him.

"Such as?"

"Such," he said, brushing my hair out of my eyes, and stroking my cheek with the back of his fingers, "such as whether... " he paused, somehow unsure of himself. "I'm making a mess of this."

"Tell me? Please?" I was desperate to know.

"Such as whether you might want me, not him. Not as a replacement. As me."

"What?" My brain wasn't registering what I was hearing.

"Jake, there isn't a right time for this. I've never dared talk to you about it, never. But Jake, I love you. I always have. Yes, even at Knaresbrough House. I'm gay, Jake. No-one knows except me. And you now. I've bee too scared to tell you. Until today. And I nearly wasn't brave enough."

Realisation started to dawn. I opened my eyes, and looked into his. Dark where Charlie's were blue. His hair, dark where Charlie's was blond, short where Charlie's was long. And I looked at his smile. Gentle and serious, soft, corners turned up and slightly wicked. "I think I'd like that, Pete. I think I'd like that very much." And I realised that he hadn't been my hero, not only my hero, but that I'd always loved him. I'd just never seen it, not until that very moment. "I'm glad you were brave enough." And I found I was smiling through my tears.

He kissed me. There, on the downs, on the tip of my nose. Knelt in front of me, lifted my cheeks in both his hands, looked me in the eyes, and kissed the tip of my nose. It felt wonderful.

"Nice try," I said, "but you missed my mouth." And I pulled him to me to kiss me on the lips. And we melted together. My face wet, my shirt all torn, my legs bramble scratched, my side grazed by the branch that had ripped my shirt. And I knew, hoped I knew what I was doing. Knew my life had changed for ever in that kiss, and knew I was loved, and that I loved him. "Pete, I love you, too."


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The GCSE is a set of examinations in the British mis-education system. It is an exam combined from the old General Certificate of Education (GCE) "Ordinary level" (O-Level) exams, which were hard as Hades, the passport to "A-Levels" (Advanced, OK?) and taken in clumps of up to fifteen, if you were a swot, and the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) exam which stated simply that you had attended the secondary school and been able to fill out your name on the top of the exam paper. The GCSE is an amalgam of the two systems. You can't actually fail it, unless you can't put your name on the paper, that is, but it strikes fear into loads of 15 and 16 year olds Nationwide. With a grade of A, B, or C, at GCSE then A-Levels are likely to be taken and passed later. Grades below C are not usually considered to be gained by academic students, and A-Levels are not usually chosen as an option

How do I explain the tradition of singing rugby songs in the showers? The songs are, well, bawdy! My own pen name comes from the chorus of Barnacle Bill the Sailor. All the songs involve strapping young men and girls (sorry), and improbable scenarios. 'Strapping' is an adjective, not a verb! The Mayor of Bayswater is sung to the tune of The Ash Grove, and gets quite fancifully multi-part harmony. The Engineer's Song is about a man who built a steam powered fucking machine that ran riot. Beer improves a rugby song, but that isn't generally available public school showers.