Jensen didn’t start at Sanditon until his Fourth Year, his first year of O-levels. Sometimes it feels like he missed out on a lot, but most of the time he’s grateful for it.
“I hated him,” Jared says feelingly. They’re walking the perimeter of the playing fields, just the two of them. It’s Saturday and most of the boys are out with their families. Jared’s family couldn’t come, so Jensen told his parents not to come too. He’s given up lying to himself about Jared, he wants to spend time with him. It’s not something he’s willing to deny anymore.
He glances across at Jared. Jared’s eyes are cold, a muscle twitching at his jaw. “I know it’s been years now, and I should get over it, but I still think about it. And when I do – it – it makes me feel dirty.”
Jensen’s heard about what used to go on. First years are fair game for the senior boys. Or at least they used to be, back in the good old bad old days. Before the school finally got its act together and tried to stamp it all out, getting first class tosspots like Pickford in to replace the older, more handsier masters. Not that Pickford’s much of an improvement, wanting to discuss the hidden meanings of the second side of Wish You Were Here rather than actually teach them anything that might help them pass their exams. Some of the old guard have managed to stick around of course, McKenzie for one.
“I had to polish his shoes and do his fucking laundry,” Jared says bitterly, “it was fucking archaic. And he’d stand over me, watching me sort it afterwards. Then he’d—“ he gestures jerkily with his hand—“you know, he’d slide up behind me and press his cock against my arse until he brought himself off. I hated it, I hated it so fucking much, Jensen. I used to dream about all the different ways I could kill the bastard. He must’ve been our age then, seventeen, eighteen maybe. And he was doing that to a fucking eleven year old.” He breaks off, stops walking. He clears his throat, and Jensen can hear the hitch in his breath. When he raises his head his eyes are shiny. “I remember, after the Christmas holiday, I was so desperate not to come back here, I drank all the cough medicine in the bathroom cabinet. I was really sick, threw up everywhere, but I got better unfortunately. Afterwards, after he’d left, when I started realizing things about – about me, I thought he’d done it to me. He’d poisoned me in some way.”
“That’s not possible,” Jensen says softly. “You know that, right? It doesn’t work like that.”
“Yeah, I know. I’m not fucking stupid,” Jared says. “But still. For years—“ He turns his head, putting his face in profile to Jensen. “When I used to toss off, I’d end up thinking about him. I couldn’t help it. I’d try so hard to think about other things, but he’d always creep in there.” He turns back to Jensen, their eyes meeting. “It’s different now. Now I just think about you. All the bloody time, I think about you.”
Jensen huffs out a breath, a shy sort of a smile. “Yeah. I know how that goes.”
He nudges Jared with his elbow and Jared nudges him back. When he glances up at Jared again, he’s relieved to see he’s smiling once more. Jared’s face is made for smiling. He likes seeing Jared smile.
“So, yeah, that’s my sad little story,” says Jared with a self-deprecating eye-roll. “You must be relieved that you weren’t here then. They’d all have been fighting over you.”
Jensen snorts. “Right. Lucky me.”
They walk on in silence. Jensen slides his packet of Benson & Hedges out of his pocket, offers it to Jared.
“No thanks. I’ve got these,” Jared says. He fishes a packet of Walker’s salt and vinegar crisps out of one of his voluminous duffle coat pockets and waves it at Jensen.
Jensen shakes his head and lights up his cigarette while Jared opens his crisps. They keep on walking, the mud squelching under Jensen’s trainers, Jared’s crisp packet crinkling each time he shoves his hand inside.
Jensen thinks about some of the first year boys. He’s never really noticed any of them. They just seem to scurry about, looking small and frightened and insignificant. He can’t imagine ever wanting to touch any of them the way Jared’s just described, though from what Jared’s just said and what he’s heard from Eggy and Toska and the rest of them, that kind of thing was quite normal a few years ago. It’s funny how things seem to have gone entirely in the opposite direction now. Anything that can be remotely construed as homosexual is seized upon and mocked and exploited with malicious relish. It’s why they have to be so careful.
“So, why Jensen?” Jared says.
“What?” Jensen blinks and turns his head back towards Jared, jolted from his thoughts.
“Your name. I was just wondering. Where does Jensen come from? Is it a family thing?”
“Don’t know. I think my mum just liked it,” he says. “She wanted something different.”
“Oh, so you’re not Swedish or something like that?”
Jensen snorts. “No! My parents were both born in lovely South East London. Though my dad’s labouring under the delusion that he’s actually Welsh. He was evacuated there during the war, best time of his life he always says. My uncle says that when they came back to London they all had Welsh accents. Personally, I just think it’s an excuse for him to support Wales. He’s such a glory-hunter.”
“I’ll pretend I know what that means,” says Jared.
“Rugby,” says Jensen. “Even you must have noticed that Wales win a lot. Usually against England.”
Jared makes a face. “Yuck, rugby.”
Jensen laughs. “Come on, you can’t hate it that much. You told me you’ve never missed a match this year.”
“Jensen, I’ve never missed a match this year because of you. Because I like watching you get all dirty and sweaty,” Jared says with a smirk, “I have no idea what’s going on most of the time.”
Jensen snorts again at him, but he’s blushing and he feels pleased, all warm and nice inside. Jared grins at him, dimples popping in his cheeks. Jensen can see the small mashed-up bits of crisp stuck to Jared’s teeth and he still feels that familiar urge to kiss him, to even taste the salt and vinegar on his breath. He wonders if this means that they’re in love. Not giving a shit about bits of food in the other person’s teeth seems to indicate some depth of feeling. He doesn’t think he’s in love with Jared, but then he’s never been in love with anyone before so he doesn’t know how it’s supposed to work, and books and telly aren’t exactly reliable.
He knows that he thinks about Jared constantly, that Jared fills his dreams and his daydreams. He knows that hearing Jared tell him that stuff before made him feel hot and angry inside on his behalf, like he wanted to find the sick, twisted bastard who did that to Jared and make him hurt. He knows that he wants to touch Jared all the time in a way that makes his body feel constantly like he’s running a temperature. He likes how Jared sounds when he speaks, he likes how he smiles - infectious - he likes the stupid clothes that don’t fit him properly, like the enormous duffle coat he’s wearing now that makes him look like bloody Paddington Bear.
He leans in, shoves Jared with his shoulder. Jared staggers a bit, gives him a shocked look, and Jensen grins at him. “Nearly got you,” he says.
“No you didn’t.”
Jensen draws on his fag, sucks up the last of the smoke. He flicks it away, watches it fizzle and die on the soft wet mud.
“Yeah?” He glances up and over at Jared. He’s finished eating his crisps and is busy folding the packet up into a neat square and then a triangle, sliding it into his pocket when he’s done. He’s such a good boy, living the Keep Britain Tidy campaign.
“I got an interview. With the Slade.”
“Really? That’s great news.” He hesitates on Jared’s worried expression. “Isn’t it?”
“I suppose so. I haven’t told my dad yet. It’s in January.” He frowns. “Do you think that’s a good sign? That they want to wait until then to see me? You’d think they’d want it all sorted out before Christmas. Most people have their offers already. You have your offer already.”
“I don’t think that matters,” Jensen says with a shrug. “It’s a different sort of college. I don’t think you should read anything into it. They liked your stuff enough to give you an interview. That’s really great news. It’s what you want, right?”
“Yeah, yeah, it is.” Jared nods. He glances at Jensen. “You know this means that I need to finish that painting of you. I need something else to bring to them.”
Jared’s already got sketches, charcoal and coloured pencil, he’s done a whole study of Jensen, but he’s been nagging Jensen to turn it all into a real painting – with oils. Jensen’s been trying to forget about the whole thing, it’s embarrassing enough already, he really doesn’t want to become a bloody oil painting.
“But why does that something else have to be my face?” he groans.
“I like your face,” Jared says, and Jensen feels warm and soft inside again. He flicks Jared a look, he’s watching him, lip caught between his teeth, twin patches of pink on his cheeks. “You know if we both – if I get into the Slade and you get into the LSE then we’ll both be in London and the campuses are really close.”
He knows what Jared wants him to say, we could hang around together, we could see each other free from this place, we could, we could, we could…
Jared’s waiting for him to say it, to acknowledge what it all could mean, but he doesn’t know what to say. The way he feels right now, he doesn’t want to stop this whatever it is they have between them, the thought of letting go of it and never being able to touch Jared again makes him feel physically sick. But they can’t really be together like that. He knows that. His dad – God – his dad would go bloody mad. And Jared might be into the whole idea of telling his parents, but Jensen definitely isn’t. He doesn’t even know if he’s bent like that anyway.
“So, you going to the dance on Saturday then?” he says instead.
"You can't go dressed like that! Pickford'll do his nut!" Percy appears in the mirror behind Jensen, his eyes wide with outrage and fingers fiddling nervously with his tie.
"Pickford can go fuck himself,” Jensen says. He meets Percy's eyes in the mirror, ruffles his hands through his short hair, trying to work it into some sort of a style. "Anyway, I'm wearing a jacket for fuck's sake!" He straightens the lapels of his leather jacket, smirks at his reflection.
“That doesn’t count,” Percy says, sounding almost agonised. “They won't even let you through the door. You'll miss the whole thing!"
"I'm not planning on going through the front door." Jensen smiles dangerously at his reflection and pushes past Percy into his room where Eggy is lying on his bed, smoking and reading yesterday’s copy of The Sun.
Jensen ignores him and fishes a fag out of the silver family crest emblazoned cigarette case lying on Eggy's dresser.
"On the scrounge again Ackles, you cheap tart?” Eggy says, tilting his head back to up at Jensen. He blinks, says, “Jesus! What the fuck are you wearing?"
"Tell him to get changed." Percy calls plaintively from the bathroom. "He might listen to you."
"Not bloody likely!" Eggy throws the paper aside, "So what's all this in aid of then?" He gestures at Jensen with his cigarette as he takes in Jensen's apparel: black drainpipe jeans, combat boots, distressed grey t-shirt and his leather biker jacket. "Trying to impress someone?"
"Just felt like it,” Jensen answers with a shrug.
He smirks at Eggy. "Got a light?"
Eggy gives him a long look before he gives in, holding out his cigarette. Jensen takes it, puts the end to his own cigarette and inhales deeply.
“Cheers,” he hands the cigarette back to Eggy.
“So, Ackles, you after one of the girls then?” says Percy coming into the room.
Eggy gives him a withering look. “Did we say you could come into our room, Percy? Did we give you permission to enter this room?”
Percy gulps and backs away immediately. Jensen gives Eggy a pointed look. “Thought you’d made a resolution not to be such a tosser.”
Eggy waves his hand. “You’d be wrong. Anyway, we were talking about you.”
“No, we weren’t.”
“Oh yes we were, my tartish friend. This--” he waves his cigarette at Jensen again --”this is all about impressing him isn’t it? That weirdo tall freak.”
“What the fuck you on about?” Jensen says.
"For fuck's sake, Ackles! I'm not a complete moron! It's not just the way he looks at you. It's you too. Did you think I wouldn't notice?"
"You're talking shite, mate."
"Yeah, right. All those extra study sessions and practice with McKenzie. You never used to need that much bloody practice! And the drawings? Why the hell are you letting him draw you? He’s a fucking ponce. You hang around with him, you’re going to catch it too.”
Jensen laughs, shaky and incredulous. “I don’t think it works like that.”
“Yeah, well, makes me sick when I think about it. Fucking unnatural.” Eggy grinds out the remains of his cigarette viciously in the overflowing ashtray.
Jensen watches him. His stomach is squirming uncomfortably, he takes another drag on his cigarette, tries to stop his hands shaking. He twists his mouth up into a false smirk.
“You know, you don’t have to be so bloody jealous.”
“That’s what all this is about. I know the truth, Eggster. But don’t fret, darling, you’re still my number one best mate, you know you are.” He reaches out to tousle Eggy’s hair.
Eggy bats his hand away, scowling. “Get off, you bloody poof!”
He sits on his bed, McKenzie's stolen whiskey cradled against his chest, smoking cigarette in his hands. The others are already gone, already singing and dancing with the easy tarts from Queen Charlotte’s.
He checks his watch again. If he is going to show up then he may as well leave now. It would be stupid to get all dressed up with nowhere to go. He takes one last long, very long swig on the bottle before rolling it under his bed. He smoothes down his t-shirt, smirks at his reflection and sets off.
The main entrance to the school hall is deserted, likewise the side entrance. Chairs are stacked up along the corridor and the muffled sound of music is seeping through the cracks in the side doors.
Gimme likkle bass, make me wine up me waist; Love is all I bring inna me khaki suit and ting...
He pushes the doors open.
Nah pop no style, a strictly roots; Nah pop no style, a strictly roots...
There are a few couples on the dance floor, doing awkward, jerky-kneed movements to the music. The expressions on the girls' faces are intense as they try to move and sway to the music, some of them shooting bemused looks at Toska in the corner, grinning manically over his turntables. Jensen smiles to himself, remembering Toska's championing of Uptown Top Ranking, as per his hero, John Peel's recommendation and Eggy's dismissive opinion: "It's not even fucking English, you wanker." Most people are hanging around on the sidelines in single gender groups, sipping the punch and looking uncomfortable.
He can’t see Jared or Eggy anywhere, but he swallows a laugh when he spots Lay On Macduff on the dance floor flailing around in an ill-advised Bob Marley-esque sway and grind. Wonder of wonders, he’s got a girl with him, though she’s standing well back, keeping out of the way of his flailing arms.
“You took your fucking time,” Eggy says, sidling up behind him.
“Takes a long time to look this good. Besides, all the cool people arrive late,” he says.
“Is that right? So why’re you hiding back here? Surely, the cool people would be out there,” he waves his hand at the dance floor, "dancing to this bollocks."
“Hardly!” Jensen snorts.
The song ends and Toska does a musical 360 degree turn into the hideously familiar opening bars of Summer Nights. Predictably, all the girls on the sidelines shriek in glee and rush onto the dance floor.
Eggy groans and pulls a face. “Fuck’s sake, when you think it can't get worse, he puts this shit on.”
“Jesus, I need a drink,” Jensen says.
“Aha, now there I can help, my son.” Eggy raises his eyebrows, shuffles closer to Jensen, putting their heads together. He smirks and holds out one side of his velvet smoking jacket to show the bulging inner pocket.
“Nice one,” Jensen mutters as Eggy slides out the silver monogrammed hip flask and holds it out. He turns his back on the dance floor, shoulder to shoulder with Eggy, and takes a grateful swig. It’s nicer than the shit he pinches off McKenzie, which is to be expected. Eggy steals it from his dad, and Sir Gerald only gets the best.
He freezes with the flask to his lips, fumbles it over to Eggy, before spinning around.
It’s Caroline Stone, smiling coyly at him from under long lashes. She holds out her plastic beaker of punch, says, “You want to give me a top up?”
Jensen exchanges a look with Eggy. Eggy shrugs and holds out his flask, pouring a dollop into her punch.
She smiles, says, “Cheers,” lifting up her plastic cup in a mock toast before taking a delicate sip.
“You’re welcome,” Eggy says.
“So, Jensen, do you want to dance?” She flicks her hair out of her eyes and smiles at him. It’s a gesture that reminds him disconcertingly of Jared, and for a moment he’s caught out, unsure how to answer.
“Um, no, not to this, I think,” he says at last.
“You don’t like Grease?” she asks.
“Not really,” he says. He wishes he had a fag. Also, where is Jared? He doesn’t want to waste time flirting with girls, even though she’s definitely easy on the eye.
“Oh thank God,” she sighs, “I hate that film, but I feel like a pariah if I admit it out loud.”
“Oh really,” says Jensen. “That’s, um, interesting.”
Beside him, he hears Eggy snigger, and he shoots his friend a death glare.
“So, if you don’t want to dance, do you want to go outside for a walk?” She moves closer to him, putting her hand on the lapel of his jacket. Her hands look weirdly small, and he realises it’s because he’s comparing them to Jared’s hands. Everyone’s hands look small in comparison to Jared’s.
He can smell her perfume, see the sheen of sweat in the pale hollow of her neck and on her top lip. Jared gets sweaty in the same places and he likes to lick it off and taste Jared’s sweat. He wonders if she tastes the same. He wonders if he should touch her, put his hand on her arm or something like that. Last time, he’d done that when he’d led her out of the hall and taken her around the back of the gym. It’d been a lot warmer back then than it is now. He watches her lick her lips; her lipstick has almost come off and her mascara’s running a bit at the edges. It should look bad, but it doesn’t. It suits her. If he were able to think about anything apart from Jared for more than three seconds at a time, he’d definitely take her up on the suggestion.
In the background the song finally finishes and the drums and funky guitar of Superstition start up.
“I like your outfit, it’s really cool,” she says. “Makes you look a bit like David Soul.”
He hears Eggy stifle a snort of laughter and he bites back his own awkward laugh. Honestly, he looks nothing like David Soul, particularly dressed like this, but he understands the compliment there. He watches her blink, her eyelashes batting up and down; they’re very long and thick, probably false. She obviously wants him and she’s not being very subtle about it. She’d probably give him another blowjob if they go outside. Three months ago he would’ve jumped at the chance. Now, though, he can only think about Jared on his knees in front of him, Jared looking up at him from under spiky, much shorter lashes.
“Thanks,” he says weakly. “You look nice, too.”
Beside him, he hears Eggy muffle another laugh and he resists the urge to glare at him again.
“Thanks,” she says, tilting her head to one side and smiling at him.
He glances back at the dance floor, there are more couples there now, people actually mingling. Cockford is prowling one side of the dance floor with his arms folded, looking suspicious and beady eyed, Tulliver’s on the other side, looking benevolent. The music seems to be getting louder, Toska’s fingers getting itchy on the volume dial, no doubt. When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer, superstition ain’t the way...
Like me and Jared, he thinks.
The thought must be magic, because he suddenly spots Jared, standing on the opposite corner of the room, towering over his ginger friend. The ginger friend says something and Jensen watches Jared bend over to hear him. He’s too tall, Jensen thinks, then he wants to smile because he likes that Jared is tall, he likes his long legs and long arms and big hands and awkward elbows and knees.
Jared turns his head, looks across the room, almost as if he can feel Jensen’s eyes on him. Their gazes lock and something pops deep in Jensen’s gut, a coil of heat that seems to thrum in time with Stevie Wonder’s baseline.
He jumps. Pickford is striding towards them, his face twisted in disgust.
“Ackles! What the hell are you wearing?” he roars. He glances at Caroline. “I’m sorry, Miss Stone,” (because of course fucking Pickford knows her name), “but is this reprobate bothering you?” He turns back to Jensen. “Not that I’d expect someone of your background to understand what a dress-code is.” He grabs hold of Jensen’s arm, yanks him around.
Eggy steps hastily away, pulling Caroline with him, as Pickford drags Jensen out of the hall. Jensen doesn’t bother resisting.
“Detention, I think,” Pickford says once they’re outside, the doors thudding closed behind them, muffling the music. He looks gleeful about it, fucking prick. “A week, perhaps two.”
“You might have to check with Mr McKenzie,” Jensen says. “He won’t like me missing practice.” He shoves his hands into his pockets, leans back against the wall and eyes Pickford with the best contemptuous look he can manage. It’s petty of him, but he’s ridiculously pleased that he’s taller than the dickhead.
“That’s what you think,” Pickford says. He kicks at Jensen’s legs. “Stand up straight when I’m talking to you, boy. You’re a degenerate, Ackles, a common, little oik. Someone like you should never have been allowed into this school. You make me sick, lounging about like you own the place. Stand up, boy!” Jensen scowls at him, but he grudgingly stands up straight and takes his hands out of his pockets. “I’m going to speak to Mr McKenzie, I’m sure we can come to some arrangement. Maybe he has some extra jobs for you, scraping mud off boots or mopping out the showers. I’m sure we can find you some employment worthy of your status in this school.”
Cock. You’re a big fat ugly cock, Pickford.
“In the meantime,” Pickford says, then he pauses, cocks his head to one side, face scrunching up.
The music has changed, it’s muffled, but Jensen can still recognise the familiar drums and synthesiser of Donna Summer’s Love to Love You Baby. He resists the urge to smirk. Good old Toska.
“I told him! I bloody told him!” Pickford spits. He whirls on Jensen, points a finger at him. “Go back to your dormitory. I’ll deal with you later.”
He spins around again – ever the drama queen – and barges back through the double doors. A blast of Donna Summer’s breathy, orgasmic voice hits Jensen, Ooohhhhhh, love to love you baby; Ooohhhhh, love to love you baby… But he doesn’t wait to hear anymore, just turns around and walks out of there.
He stops half way across the quad. The lights of The Farm are glinting at him, beckoning him onwards. He turns around; Jared is jogging towards him.
“Did you just get kicked out of the dance?” Jared says and his breath puffs out white into the cold air. He’s grinning at Jensen, like it’s the funniest thing he’s heard in ages.
“What do you think?” Jensen says. He pushes his hands into his pockets, strikes a pose. “Apparently, I’m not dressed right.”
“I think you look all right,” Jared says.
“Do you now?” Jensen smirks, struts towards him. He puts his hand on Jared’s arm, takes another step towards him so their chests are almost brushing. He slides his hand up and around the back of Jared’s neck, fingers tangling in his hair.
Jared’s wearing the same outfit he wore to dinner with his parents a couple of weeks ago, the brown trousers and blue blazer. It’s a mark of how much he likes Jared that he actually finds the stupid, unfashionable clothes endearing now.
Jared bows his head. His throat ripples up and down. “Jensen – what are doing?”
“Come on,” Jensen murmurs, “this way.” He drops his hand, twines their fingers together and tugs Jared after him, in the direction of The Farm.
Eggy will be busy with Caroline Stone. Maybe they’ll even get off with each other. That would be convenient for all parties concerned. Toska’s still doing his impression of a deejay, though Cockford may have kicked him off the turntables now, and Percy is – well, Percy will just be Percy, acting too desperate and getting knockbacks from every girl he tries to pull. The coast is clear.
He unlocks his and Eggy’s dorm room and pulls Jared inside, whirling him around and pushing him down onto the bed. He climbs after him, knees on the mattress as Jared scuffles backwards, legs spreading to invite Jensen in. When their hips slide together, Jensen can feel that Jared is hard already, but that’s all good because so is he.
Jared noses at the side of his face, and Jensen feels it when Jared smiles against his cheek. He slides his hand between the wall and the back of Jared’s head, brushing his fingertips against the nape of Jared’s neck. Jared shivers, rolls his hips up towards Jensen, his lips part in a way that’s needy and desperate and incredibly sexy.
They undress, pulling and tugging and fighting with each other’s clothes. Jared’s elbows catch in his awful blue blazer and Jensen wrenches at it, the two of them freezing with comically wide eyes when they hear the tell-tale wrrrripp of fabric ripping.
“That’s your fault,” Jared hisses, but he’s grinning too, tongue caught between his teeth.
“Good. Bloody hate that thing,” Jensen says and he pulls again, watching with deep satisfaction as the fabric renders and tears.
Jared laughs giddily. He looks stoned, pupils blazed and face flushed, hair curling at the ends with sweat. Jensen cups his cheek and kisses him. He wants to swallow up that look on Jared’s face: the exhilaration and desire there. He wonders if he looks just the same.
Trousers and jeans and shirts and underpants are next and then they’re naked and Jared’s finger are digging into Jensen’s sides, dancing between his ribs and skimming over the curve of his bum. Jared’s big hands cup his bare arse cheeks and pull him in, grinding their fat cocks together until Jensen feels like he’s burning up from the inside, like his insides are throbbing, all heat and sweat and desire. Their bodies slide and slip together with sweat and it feels like they’re in a bubble, their own sweaty, sexy bubble.
Jensen pants and raises his head, gazes down at Jared, the mess of his hair spilled over his pillow, the brilliant slant of his eyes. He pushes his hand into Jared’s hair, tangles his fingers wrist-deep. Jared exhales and bares his neck, and Jensen leans in and licks over the tendons in his throat.
Jared writhes beneath him and one long leg curls around Jensen’s hips, bare heel drumming against Jensen’s thighs. Jensen kisses up Jared’s throat, his chin, puffs out a breath over his lips, feels Jared tremble beneath him. They’re both naked together, for the first time since that first time in the showers, and it’s better than he thought it would be, and Jared is – shit – he’s just gorgeous like this, and Jensen can’t get enough of it.
“Jensen,” Jared murmurs.
“That’s me,” he says.
Jared smiles. “Yeah.” He cranes his head up from the pillow to kiss him and Jensen falls into it, cradling Jared’s cheek and plunging his tongue into Jared’s mouth.
“What the hell is going on here?”
Jensen whirls around, tumbles off the bed. He whips his head up, stares in horrified disbelief as Pickford and McKenzie stand in the doorway. He didn’t lock the door; he was so bloody eager to do this that he didn’t lock the door. And he forgot. I’ll deal with you later, Pickford had said and Jensen forgot. He’s a moron.
He covers his cock - Oh God, his erect cock - with his hands, gulps and bows his head, his body flushing all over.
“Well, I knew you were filthy common ponce, Ackles, but it’s so nice to have proof,” sneers Pickford.
The arsehole looks so gleeful, even more pleased than he did when he was chucking Jensen out of the dance only fifteen minutes before.
Why does he hate me so much? Jensen thinks pathetically. What have I ever done to him?
“Don’t you think so, Mr McKenzie? Do you see what your pet gets up to in his spare time?” Pickford spits the words out like he’s relishing them, and he is, the sick, twisted prick. “Did you see what they were doing together? These disgusting perversions. Makes me sick.”
Jensen hasn’t dared look at McKenzie’s face, but he can feel the man’s eyes on him, running all over his naked body, seeing him, drinking him in. All those lingering touches over the years, the knowledge secret and insidious in his head of what the special training sessions and late night talks, and “I’m trusting you with this, Ackles,” when he’d handed the key to that bloody equipment cupboard over, McKenzie’s hand closing over his own and staying there, big sweaty fingers swallowing up Jensen’s, the roll of McKenzie’s throat when his eyes met Jensen’s. “I don’t give this to just anyone, Ackles, but you’re special, you’re a real prospect.” McKenzie’s other hand sliding up Jensen’s arm and lingering, always lingering. He’d felt sick afterwards, cold and sweaty and he’d wanted to throw the fucking key away, but it had come in useful in its own way.
Jensen’s always known what McKenzie really wanted from him but he’s always been grateful that the bastard was too fucking scared to take it. He’s the real pervert, Jensen thinks viciously, but he can’t say it, and he can’t - fuck - McKenzie might be his only chance of not getting kicked out of this fucking shithole of a school for good.
“Get dressed, both of you. We’re going to pay a visit to the headmaster.”
He waits outside the headmaster’s office while Jared goes in first. Tulliver arrives shortly afterwards, looks down at him and shakes his head.
“Oh dear, Ackles, what have you been doing?”
He doesn’t say anything, just smiles weakly at the housemaster and awaits his fate. Jared comes out after only ten minutes; his eyes look red like he’s been crying. He glances at Jensen, his bottom lip trembles like he’s about to cry again. Jensen fists his fingers around the edges of his plastic chair.
“I’m sorry,” Jared says.
Jensen blinks, his throat feels tight and his eyes sting but he is not going to cry. He’s not going to give them that satisfaction.
“Not your fault,” he says, though he’s not sure if he means it, because this is Jared’s fault. If Jared hadn’t come up to him that day after P.E. then they wouldn’t be here now. He never had these dirty feelings about any other boys. It was Jared who made him feel like this.
Jared looks like he’s about to say something else but the headmaster’s door thrusts open and Tulliver reappears.
“Ackles, come in here,” he says.
He gets up and goes into the office. He doesn’t watch Jared leave.
“We telephoned your parents,” says Dean Fallon.
Jensen’s heart sinks, but he doesn’t let his expression show it, just keeps looking straight ahead at the headmaster. He can count the number of times Dean Fallon’s spoken to him on one hand. The man is so far removed from them he could actually be the god he thinks he is.
“They’ll be here shortly.”
“Am I going to be expelled?” he says.
Dean Fallon steeples his fingers under his chin and regards Jensen with what can only be described as his old wise man look.
“You and Padalecki are not the first, and you won’t be the last. These kinds of proclivities,” he pauses delicately, “it seems that there is an element in every year. But Sanditon can no longer turn a blind-eye to such behaviour.”
Jensen doesn’t say anything. The office feels claustrophobic and overheated. The gas fire hisses in the corner, on its highest setting. There’s a boring watercolour on the wall behind Fallon’s head, it's of a harbour, dull nondescript fishing boats and fake blue sky.
“You’re suspended for next week whilst we decide what to do about you,” finishes up Fallon. “Mr Tulliver tells me you have a conditional offer from the LSE.”
“Yes, sir,” Jensen says.
“And you’re predicted all A’s. Both you and Padalecki, two of our most promising students.” He shakes his head again. “I am obliged to notify the scholarship committee of course. They will wish to have a say in the matter.”
Of course they will. He’s just the scholarship boy. There’s probably some sort of ridiculous moral clause in his scholarship agreement: thou shalt not fuck the arses or suck the cocks of thy fellow students. Unless they’re a frightened and exploitable first year of course, then that’s perfectly acceptable. Only six years ago and it had all been normal, just part of the way this school was run, making eleven year olds the sex toys of the older boys. Except now it’s wrong and he’s the unnatural one. What a bunch of fucking hypocrites. Well fuck them; he doesn’t need this fucking school. He can take the exams anywhere. He could even go back to his old school. He’d probably be killed on his first day back but it would still be better than this.
“Oh, love, please tell me it’s not true,” his mum says tearfully when he slides into the passenger seat of the Marina.
“Where’s Dad?” he says instead. It’s dark and cold inside the car; the heater is obviously not working again. Fucking British cars. Buy British, his dad always insists, except British cars are fucking shit and British Leyland is on its knees. “Why didn’t he come?” he says again, watching his breath cloud in front of him, just like Jared’s did earlier. It feels like a lifetime ago, though it can only be a couple of hours.
She turns away from him, curling her gloved hands around the steering wheel. “He’s very upset,” she says.
“Oh.” He looks away from her, through the passenger side window. He tries to imagine what Tulliver said on the phone. Your son's been caught in an indecent and unnatural situation with another boy. They were both in a state of arousal and we have reason to believe that they may have acted upon certain perverted urges. He bites his lip on the hysterical laugh bubbling in his belly.
He spots the Padalecki Bentley on the other side of the car park. Jared's parents are here too. He wonders if Jared will ever come back. He’s a paying pupil so he won’t have to prove his moral fibre to a fucking committee like Jensen does, but they could still refuse to have him back.
He decides it’s probably better not to worry about it; he’s got enough on his plate already. His mum starts the engine without another word and they pull out of the car park. Jensen keeps staring out of the window.
It’s after midnight by the time they make it back home, but his dad is still out.
On to Chapter Five