Jensen is working in the library. He’s trying to finish his French homework, and wondering not for the first time what on earth possessed him to pick French as an A level. “You’re a clever boy, Ackles, you should keep your options open,” Old Man Tulliver had said, and so Jensen had, adding French to Maths, Further Maths and English Literature. It was a stupid decision.
He sighs, rubs his eyes and tries to focus on the book open in front of him, Le Petit Prince, with its deceptively childlike drawings and short sentences.
Tu n’es encore pour moi qu’un petit garçon tout semblable à cent mille petits garçons. Et je n’ai pas besoin de toi. Et tu n’a pas besoin de moi non plus. Je ne suis pour toi qu’un renard semblable à cent mille renards. Mais, si tu m’apprivoises, nous aurons besoin l’un de l’autre. Tu seras pour moi unique au monde. Je serai pour toi unique au monde…
Jensen fists his fingers around his pen, writes: “The fox asks the Little Prince to tame him because he wants to make a connection with somebody. He wants to be special and unique to somebody.”
Isn’t that what we all want? he thinks, to be special and unique to somebody, to have somebody out there who gives a shit. He yawns, rubs his hand across his jaw, hears the gratifying rasp of stubble. He could try shaving again tonight. He raises his eyes from the page and looks out across the library again, gaze drawn inexorably to the same table.
Padalecki is sitting with four other Lower Sixthes. Padalecki is facing Jensen’s way, but his face is obscured by the more than adequate bulk of Kevin "Shithouse" Collinson-Wood, fellow member of Sanditon's First XV,- front row, and built like it, just like Cliff-Bentley. In fact, the two of them could be twins, all shoulders and thighs, muscle and brawn and thick 14-stone impenetrability, except Shithouse is not an enormous wankstain like Cliff-Bentley. The four boys at Padalecki’s table have their heads bent together, whispering loudly and stifling snorts of laughter into their hands. Mr Carter, the librarian, has already yelled at them once, and Jensen sees him look up murderously from his desk, shooting deathrays at Padalecki and his group.
Shithouse shifts in his chair, and Jensen catches a glimpse of Padalecki's face, his wide laughing mouth twisted into a grin. Jensen feels a stirring low in his stomach and he curls his fingers more tightly around his fountain pen.
Padalecki pushes back his chair with a muffled squeak and saunters towards Jensen, then past him to the Ancient History section behind Jensen’s table. He’s not wearing his blazer and his shirt cuffs are pushed half way up his forearms. His tie is loosely knotted and the top button of his shirt is undone, his collar all skewed. He pulls a book off the shelf and bows his head over it, the movement making his hair fall across half his face. He’s all long limbs and long neck and big, big hands, so big that one of them practically covers all of the book’s back cover. He looks up and across at Jensen, the corner of his mouth quirks up like he’s trying not to laugh.
"Hello,” he says.
Jensen bites on his lip, on the smile that threatens. “Hello. What’re you reading?”
"Nothing in particular,” Padalecki says. He moves away from the shelves and leans against Jensen’s table, hip jutting towards him. His fingers trail across the worn wood, making slow intricate patterns. Like all of him, his fingers are really long. "Came to talk to you, actually."
"Oh,” Jensen says. Padalecki is looking at him in this expectant, watchful way, his lips half-parted. Jensen leans back in his chair, brings his hand up to rub the back of his neck. "You all working on something together?"
"Us all? No." Padalecki frowns, glances over his shoulder towards the loud, whispering group. "They're working on History. Roman military manoeuvres. Boring."
"Yeah. That’s why I didn't take fucking history."
"Me too. So, what're you doing?"
Padalecki pulls a face. "Poor you."
"Yeah. So, um, tonight? Are we still going to, you know?” He quirks an eyebrow, leans closer, looming over the table, his voice low.
Jensen feels his mouth go dry. He forces a smile – his best, wickedest smile – and says, "Yeah. After dinner. Usual place."
"Yeah, okay,” Padalecki says. He grins, sudden and embarrassed, his face flushing. He backs away from Jensen; his fingers drag slow-motion over the top of the table in his wake.
Jensen watches him slouch back towards the bookshelves and push the book back into place. Jensen stares at the curve of his spine through his thin white shirt as he reaches to pull a volume from the shelf. The library light is dim - there was another power cut that morning - and the low light picks out lighter, almost golden strands in his brown hair. He’s in profile to Jensen, his nose slightly pointed, his eyelashes a stubby dark fringe against the hollow of his eye sockets. Jensen watches him look up, sees him push his hair out of his face, their eyes meeting momentarily. Caught out, Jensen turns swiftly back to his assignment, pushing one hand under the table to adjust his suddenly tight trousers.
"That weirdo giant kid’s watching you again," Eggy says, nudging Jensen with his elbow, his spoon half raised to his mouth, laden with rhubarb crumble.
Jensen freezes, blinks at him. "What kid?"
"That new one, in Pickford's class. He keeps staring at you. He's always fucking staring at you. Reckon he fancies you, bloody arse-bandit."
Jensen follows where Eggy’s looking: the Lower Sixth table. Padalecki’s not looking his way now, his head bent towards that ginger kid. "What you on about, you stupid git?”
Eggy's eyes narrow in triumph, like he’s found a weakness. "No need to be so bloody defensive, mate."
"I’m not being defensive! You’re just talking bollocks."
"Am I?" Eggy raises his eyebrows, shovels up another spoonful of pudding and shoves it in his mouth.
"Yeah,” Jensen says. His eyes track back towards the Lower Sixth table. Padalecki is getting up from his seat, holding his tray. He’s not wearing his blazer again and Jensen’s attention is drawn to his arse as he leans over the table, the perfect curve of his buttocks under grey polyester, firm, round and smooth.
"You're looking at him now,” Eggy says through a mouthful of pudding.
"Only 'cause you keep going on about it, Claude!" Jensen snaps.
“Don’t fucking call me that!” Eggy hisses.
Jensen ignores him, curling his fingers tightly around his own spoon. He can feel his cock fattening in his pants, defying and teasing him. Padalecki is still leaning over the table, his arse still on view to the entire fucking room. He’s saying something to that ginger kid, his neck all smooth and long as he tosses his hair out of his eyes. Jensen wants to bite that skin right there, on his neck. He remembers how it tastes; he tasted it only last night after all. And his arse, he can remember the feel of it under his hand, how he squeezed the firm flesh between his fingers. He wants to press his cock against the cleft of his bum and come right there, shoot his load all over the small of his back. They haven’t tried any of that yet; they’ve barely taken their clothes off, just rubbing off together in McKenzie’s equipment cupboard.
He gets up from the table with a jerk, ignoring Eggy’s bitten out: What the fuck’s wrong with you now? Acting like a bleeding woman! as he strides over to the bin to dump his leftovers.
"You have to stop staring at me all the time,” Jensen says as he roots around inside the locker, pushing aside the pile of threadbare towels and ink-stained sheets of paper. His fingers graze against the glass bottle and he lets out a relieved breath. Teacher’s, and isn’t that so bloody appropriate. Good old McKenzie, so pathetically, reliably obvious, the stupid prick.
"What? What? I don't stare,” Padalecki says.
It’s a lie of course, he’s staring right now, those long fingers of his fiddling with the togs of his oversized navy duffle coat as he stares at Jensen. Like his rugby shirt, the coat manages to be too short and not big enough at the same time, dwarfing his skinny shoulders, but only just skimming his thighs.
"Yeah. You do,” Jensen says. “People are saying stuff."
"What people? Who's saying stuff?"
"Doesn't matter. Just stop the fucking staring thing. It's too obvious. Everybody’s going to know." He twists the cap off the bottle of whiskey.
Padalecki scowls at him. "You're talking bollocks, Ackles."
He takes a long swig on the whiskey. It’s harsh and sour and he immediately wants to spit it out, but he forces himself to swallow it, shuddering as it slides stiffly down his throat.
"No I'm not. You can't take your eyes off me."
"Yeah, right. ‘Cause you never look at me - like in the library, you weren't looking at me then, right? And when we're together, you're always so unwilling!" Padalecki shoots back. His eyes blaze defiantly at Jensen, looking darker and shinier than usual. Jensen hasn’t worked out what colour eyes he has yet, sometimes they’re green, sometimes brown. It’s annoying.
He scowls back at Padalecki, takes another long swig on the bottle.
"McKenzie's going to know it's you, you know, stealing his booze,” Padalecki says. “You're the only other one with the key."
"Told you already. He won't get rid of me.”
"Yeah, I know, he thinks the sun shines out of your backside! He thinks you’re the best thing since sliced bread, well, you’re not, you know. You’re not all that.” Padalecki breaks off, his face is all red, he looks really pissed off. “I bet you never even noticed I existed until I walked into Pickford's class."
Jensen shrugs. “I don’t know half the bloody Lower Sixth, 'cept those who're part of the team."
"Not me then."
"No," he says. It’s the truth, he didn’t know Padalecki before, he barely noticed him. He was there, tall and quiet and in the background, but he never noticed him. He’s not sure why that is when he can’t stop noticing him now.
He drinks some more whiskey, watches Padalecki aim a kick at the mesh bag of rugby balls lying in one corner of the equipment cupboard. The sound reverberates through the cluttered, claustrophobic room. He’d like to be all aloof and dispassionate about this, he’d like not to care what this boy thinks about him. But there’s this nagging sensation low in his gut, an absurd, contradictory desire to take back what he just said, to un-say it, but also at the same time, to have it out there, to be able to hurt him with it.
It’s the truth, he thinks again, I didn’t notice you before.
"I never noticed you,” he says.
Padalecki raises his head and pushes his hair away from his face with that already familiar gesture. When he speaks his voice sounds bitter: "I noticed you."
"Oh, right, well, that’s not my fault." Jensen bends over to pose the bottle carefully on the floor. "Take your coat off."
"Just take it off. That's why we're here isn't it?"
"To get off?" Padalecki spits.
"Right, yeah. To get off. You wouldn't be here, if you didn't want to. So just - take your coat off. Or piss off. Whatever you prefer."
Padalecki glares at him for a moment before reluctantly beginning to unwind his scarf and unpick the toggles of his duffle coat. Underneath it, he's wearing jeans and a jumper - he must've got changed after supper - the jumper is a shocking red colour and it makes him seem vibrant and incongruous against the backdrop of rugby balls, odd boots, orange practice cones and lacrosse sticks.
Jensen shrugs off his blazer. Unlike Padalecki, he couldn’t be bothered to change out of his uniform after dinner. He throws it on top of a pile of practice cones, and approaches Padalecki, though it only takes four steps. They’re in a bloody equipment cupboard after all, small and constricted and stuffed full of rubbish that smells of feet and grass and damp. Padalecki bites his lip, watching Jensen with this wary, breathless, but still slightly pissed off look. It looks kind of good on him.
Jensen puts his hand on Padalecki’s arm, on the scratchy red wool of his jumper. He pushes him back against the wall, next to a pile of hockey sticks, and Padalecki pushes back. For a moment they're locked in a clumsy push-pull-push, their bodies colliding and grinding together, hard and desperate.
"Wha - you..." Padalecki grabs onto Jensen’s tie, yanking him in close so their foreheads bump together. Jensen stumbles and somehow loses his footing, and then he’s falling, tumbling to the floor in a rough clumsy heap, and Padalecki is falling with him, his overlong, flailing legs catching hockey sticks and neon cones, sending all of it cascading to the floor. Padalecki pulls away from him and scrambles into a sitting position. His face screws up as he raises an elbow.
"Ow,” he says, wincing. Jensen adjusts his collar, tries to straighten his clothes. He’s relieved he took off his blazer, if he’d ruined it, his mother would’ve had another paddy about buying a new one. He looks across at Padalecki, who’s still staring at him with that same accusatory look. "That hurt,” Padalecki says.
Jensen rolls his eyes at him and grabs for Padalecki’s foot, pulling him back to the floor in a spill of arms and legs.
"For fuck's--” Padalecki’s words disintegrate as Jensen pounces and pins him to the dirty, dusty floor, arms bracketing his head. He lowers his face to Padalecki’s neck, yanks aside the scratchy, woolly jumper and presses his mouth to the warm soft skin. He feels Padalecki gasp and arch beneath him, hissing as Jensen’s teeth graze the skin. He grinds his crotch down against Padalecki’s thigh, Padalecki's belt buckle making metallic imprints in his stomach.
He can feel Padalecki’s cock through his jeans, fat and hard and insistent, and his own cock is just as bad, the blood throbbing through his balls, making them draw up tight. He rolls his hips down and Padalecki groans, “God, c’mon...” tugging him closer: one hand in his hair and one on his back, as selfish, needy and greedy as Jensen feels. Padalecki’s hand disappears from Jensen’s back and then it’s sliding somewhere between their bodies, slithering over Jensen’s fly and wriggling under his waistband. "Let me, Jensen, let me…"
Jensen freezes at the sound of his name. Those two syllables sound so foreign to him, rusty with lack of use. No one calls him that here. He gulps, stares down into Padalecki’s eyes. They’re dark right now, all blown and glassy, his lips half parted and pink and really fucking inviting. That rushing and roaring is back again, drowning out everything else in Jensen’s head. He leans down and puts his mouth to Padalecki’s.
Padalecki groans into the kiss. His hand cradles the back of Jensen’s skull as he kisses back with near desperation, their moans and groans dissolving into a flood of white noise in Jensen’s head. Padalecki says something, a rough and incoherent noise in Jensen’s ears. He twists his head to one side, away from Jensen’s mouth, pants out, “I want to."
"What? Want what?" Jensen hisses.
The word is barely out before Padalecki is rolling them over so Jensen is on the bottom, the floor cold and hard beneath his back. Padalecki looms over him, bracing himself on all fours. He sits back on his haunches, straddling Jensen’s knees, and his fingers scrabble with Jensen’s fly. Jensen hears the snick of his belt buckle, the slip-slide zip of his fly, and then Padalecki is ducking down, and his mouth is... oh God, his mouth is on Jensen’s cock.
It’s a fucking blowjob, he's giving me a fucking blowjob, Jensen’s slow brain registers. But there is no more room for coherent thought, just sensation. He squeezes his eyes tight shut, every muscle primed, every nerve ending a spasm. God, oh God, he's quick, too quick and it's already over… he's coming embarrassingly quickly.
"Eurgh, that's.” Padalecki raises his head, a tumble of dark, dishevelled hair, mouth glistening and sticky. "It tastes disgusting." He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.
Jensen stares at him, panting, heart hammering in his chest. "Feels fucking ace."
"Really?" Padalecki grins, toothy and delighted.
"Yeah. We should've done it before,” Jensen says. He curls one hand around Padalecki's neck, tugging him down into a long kiss. It’s salty, brackish, tastes like come - like him. His hand creeps down, massaging Padalecki's cock through the thick denim, tugging at the zipper, to free it. He fists it in his hand. He likes how it feels, smooth and warm and long.
“Fuck, Ackles, Jensen,” Padalecki groans.
Jensen heart skips a beat at the sound of his name again. “What’s your name?” he whispers.
Padalecki’s eyes fly open. He blinks at him, not understanding.
“Your name - your first name?” Jensen says.
“Jared,” he says, “it’s Jared.”
Jared. It’s unusual, but then so is Padalecki, there aren’t that many kids with a name like that at Sanditon. Must be foreign, which makes sense, because he looks foreign, too tall and too long and with those strange eyes that remind Jensen of an animal, but in a good way, like a fox, like the fox in Le Petit Prince. He’s got an unusual face, with high cheekbones and dimples in his cheeks. It’s strange and foreign and utterly compelling.
“Jared,” Jensen repeats out loud, trying out the feel of it on his tongue. It feels much better than Padalecki.
Padalecki smiles, soft and shiny, “Yeah, that’s right.” He dips his head down, kisses the corner of Jensen’s mouth. “Say it again.”
“Jared,” Jensen says and he jerks his fist up and down Padalecki - Jared’s cock. “Jared, Jared, c’mon, Jared.” He speeds up, hand pumping furiously.
Jared groans loudly, crying out as he comes, his hot sticky release coating Jensen’s fingers. He leans into Jensen, resting his forehead on his shoulder, voice trembling. "God, that was… brilliant."
Jensen pulls away and reaches for one of the spare rugby shirts to wipe off his sticky hands. Jared laughs shakily, watching him.
"Any chance you got a fag?" Jared asks.
Jensen nods and fishes the packet out of his trouser pocket - now somewhat flattened - and drops it into Jared’s lap. He watches Jared light up, slotting the cigarette into the corner of his mouth as he shifts on the floor to do up his jeans and straighten his jumper.
"You want some?" Jared offers.
“Of the fag that I just gave you?” He raises an eyebrow. “You’re too generous.”
Jared rolls his eyes at him but he holds out the smoking cigarette anyway.
Jensen takes it; the tip is wet, moist from Jared’s lips, the lips that have also been around Jensen’s cock. The thought makes him want to laugh out loud.
Jared tilts his head to one side, considering. “The taste's almost gone now. It was disgusting, but it must get better. Else people wouldn't do it, would they?"
"Birds don't do it. They spit it out."
Jared shrugs. "I wouldn't know."
Jensen casts him a quick glance before taking another drag. He looks debauched, sprawled against the wall, hair way past tousled, lips red and swollen, and eyes still all sex-glazed. Despite his efforts to put himself together, he looks a mess, and there are suspicious white stains on his red jumper.
"What's the time?"
Reluctantly, Jensen lifts his arm, squinting at his watch. "Half eight."
"Shit. We should be going. I've got to finish an essay for tomorrow."
Jensen stubs out the cigarette against the wall, picking up the butt and hiding it under a pile of old lacrosse uniforms. He reaches up and cranks the window open.
"Will it get rid of the smell?" Jared is shrugging on his duffle jacket again, fiddling with the toggles.
"Yeah, McKenzie's got no sense of smell anyway,” Jensen says.
Jared laughs. "How d'you know that - wait, I'm not sure if I want to know."
"You don't." He shrugs back into his blazer. "You should leave first. Then I'll wait and go."
"Okay," Jared nods, mouth twitching into a smile. "When shall we do this again?"
"Maybe Friday. There's no practice then."
Jared frowns, like he’s almost pouting. “Jensen, that’s four days away."
Jensen smirks at him, feeling smug. "What? You can't wait four bloody days?"
He shrugs. Point taken. "Maybe Wednesday. I don't know. But I'll see you in Pickford's class anyway."
"Make it Wednesday. And," Jared hesitates, "I won't look at you so much. I'll try not to at least."
Jared nods and turns to go, tugging the door open cautiously and peering outside. He hesitates then he turns around. “I - there’s something I want to ask you. A favour.”
Jared bites his lip, he looks embarrassed. “You can say no if you don’t want to. It’s stupid, I know.”
“What?” Jensen repeats, getting impatient.
Jared flushes. “I want to draw you. For a project, for my portfolio.”
“Draw me?” Jensen’s eyebrows shoot up. “Like--” he waves his hand in front of him-- “like naked?”
“No, God, not naked!”
“But you arty types draw naked people all the time.”
“Not here we don’t, not at Sanditon,” Jared says. He pulls a face. “Can you imagine what the parents would say? And most of the masters?”
“Yeah, good point.”
“I’ll do life class and nudes at college. If I get to college. But I need practice drawing people with their clothes on. And you, well, you’ve got a nice face, and I’d just like to draw you.” Jensen smirks, and Jared flushes again. “Oh, forget it, I wish I hadn’t bloody said anything.”
“No, no, hey, it’s cool! It’s okay. You can draw me. If you want.”
“Yeah, why not? Might be fun.”
“Oh, okay, brilliant.” Jared grins, that strip of white teeth and dimples again, and Jensen can’t help but smile back at him, feeling absurdly warm inside.
“So, yeah, you should go.” Jensen makes a shooing gesture with his hands.
“Oh right, yeah.” Jared ducks his head out of the door again, looks around, pulls his head back in. “It’s all clear. See you tomorrow then.”
"Yeah… No, wait a minute."
Jared turns, expectant. "What?"
Jensen darts forward, hands cupping Jared's face, tugging him into a kiss, sloppy and exhausting and he has no fucking idea why he's doing it but it just feels really good. They break apart, exhaling into each other's skin, catching breath. Jensen nudges him with his shoulder.
"Go on. You should go."
Jared nods, biting his lip and smiling in a way that’s almost shy. "See you later."
The Common Room is crowded and noisy. Two games of cards, fifty plus raised voices and Eggy playing Baker Street on the record player again, because he hasn’t played that record enough since he bought it.
"Ackles, where the hell've you been?" Eggy greets him. He’s playing Poonton, crowded around a battered coffee table along with Anthony “Toska” Childs, Ian “Lay-On” Macduff and Philip “Percy” Grantby. Coins and cards lie piled up in the middle of the table. Toska seems to be winning, going by the pile of coins in front of him. He’s such a bloody card shark, fancies himself as Paul fucking Newman.
"That fucker, McKenzie had me doing extra practice,” he says, though really why does he even have to justify himself? Eggy’s not his mother, thank God. He slumps into a chair behind him, kicks the back of Eggy’s chair.
Eggy frowns at him, jerks his head at the dark windows. "It's dark."
Jensen blinks at him. “Oh yeah, so it is. I never noticed.”
"Alright, enough fucking sarcasm! So, can you lend me a quid? These tarts are cleaning me out."
Jensen glances at the pile of coins - or rather, the non-existent pile of coins in front of Eggy - and rolls his eyes at him. “So, I’m supposed to lend Eggy Fitzgerald of the Hampshire Fitzgeralds money, am I? What happened to the family inheritance?" He widens his eyes in mock horror. A couple of the others look up and snigger.
"Fuck off! You know I'll pay you back. What're best mates for?"
Jensen huffs out a long pained breath, but he takes a handful of coins out of his pocket, drops them onto the table by Eggy's elbow. "That’s my entire life savings. If you actually manage to win anything I want fifty percent interest."
"That'll be the day!" Toska scoffs from the other side of the table.
Eggy grunts and pulls a face at Toska. Jensen leans back in his chair and picks up the discarded copy of last week's NME. He skims through it, trying to ignore the inevitable sounds of Eggy losing his money. At least Eggy will be good for it; his parents are very generous with the pocket money. They can afford to be after all, unlike Jensen’s parents.
Jensen can practically feel the moment Padalecki - Jared, no it’s Jared - enters the room, like a draft on the back of his neck. He glances up from the paper. Jared’s perching on the arm of one of the armchairs in the Lower Sixth corner, still wearing the same worse-for-wear red jumper and speaking animatedly to that ginger kid, his pale, talented, oh so talented hands shaping gestures, eyes all lit up and mouth laughing. So much for finishing an essay.
Jensen drags his eyes away, realizing distantly that he's scowling and that Eggy and the rest of the Pontoon players are staring at him expectantly. "Ackles, what do you think?"
"What we were fucking talking about! The dance?"
He frowns. "What fucking dance?"
"With Queen Charlotte's. Weren't you listening to a bloody word we were saying?"
"What's this about a dance?"
"Queen Charlotte's, next month," Percy breaks in eagerly, "That’s the one with the really easy girls."
"Oh yeah.” Toska gives one of his patented salacious winks. “My cousin goes there, I’m telling you, lads, they’ll do it with anyone. They’re a right bunch of slags!"
"Excellent!" Eggy slaps the table making the cards jump. "You never know, you might even be in with a chance, Perce!"
"I wouldn't put money on it," says Toska.
"Hey! I’m sitting right here!”
"Yeah, yeah, whatever you say, dickhead. I’ve got a guaranteed pulling opportunity, I'm fucking deejaying all night." Toska says, sitting up with a smug grin. "So get your requests in pronto 'cause on the night, I'll only be taking requests from anything over a B-cup."
"Oh so Fatso Strickland will be able to request then?" says Jensen.
Eggy sniggers as Toska quickly amends, "Anything female over a B-cup."
"Christ, what the fuck did you do to Tulliver to get that gig?” Jensen says. “Though I'm relieved we won't be tortured with Dark Shite of the Moon courtesy of Cockford all night."
"That'll be for me to know and you tarts to guess about."
Jensen snorts, shifting to look at Eggy's cards and definitely not sneaking another look at Padalecki. "Eggster, you want to stick with those cards."
"What? No, I'm going to twist." Eggy says, screwing up his face and giving him an annoyed look.
"Oh for fuck's sake, don't fucking twist,” Jensen tells him.
"I was thinking I’d really mix it up a bit for the dance. Not just all the wanky shite that’s in the charts,” Toska says, playing a card. “You know, to get the fucking place moving."
"Really? In that case, I might consider gracing the event with my presence,” Jensen says.
"The slutty birds not enough of an enticement for you?"
"Not him," Eggy scoffs. "Birds always throw themselves at him anyway, the lucky git.”
Jensen smirks. “It’s tough being such a sex God. Not that any of you dickheads would know.”
Eggy and Toska give him the finger and Jensen gives them two. He can remember the last dance with Queen Charlotte’s now. Caroline Stone, the girl with the shortest skirt and the tightest top and a haircut like Suzi Quatro, had given him a blowjob round the back of the gym. She hadn’t been as good at it as Padalecki.
He looks up again before he realises it, attention dragged inexorably towards the Lower Sixth corner. Jared’s already looking across at him. Their eyes meet for a fraction of a second, and Jensen feels his heart skip a beat. He swallows, forces himself to look away. He’s got to stop thinking about it, he doesn’t want to get another stiffy again. It’s fucking embarrassing, but that’s been happening far too much recently. Yesterday in Pickford’s glass, staring at the side of Jared’s throat, at a small graze on his chin, he’d got hard and he hadn’t even realised it. He’d had to button up his blazer to disguise it when the lesson had finished.
“Twist,” Eggy announces, reaching for another card. “Fuck! That’s - how much is that?”
Jensen leans over his shoulder to look. “Twenty three. You're bust, you stupid twat."
“You’re not supposed to talk,” says Jared.
Jensen sighs, tries to keep still. Being drawn is boring and tedious. He’s not doing it again, no matter how much Jared begs him, though Jared begging him would probably be very interesting. He looks so serious right now, biting his lip, his nose wrinkled in concentration as he glances between Jensen and his easel.
“You’re supposed to keep still,” Jared says.
Jensen rolls his eyes.
“And don’t do that,” says Jared. Jensen looks at him again, Jared’s looking amused, the corner of his mouth quirking up a bit like he’s having a laugh.
“How much longer?” he says.
Jared sighs painfully and puts down his pencil. He gives Jensen an unimpressed look. “It would be much quicker if you’d keep still.”
“I can’t keep still!” he protests. “I’m shit at keeping still.” He jumps off the desk, wriggles his shoulders around to demonstrate how crap he is at keeping still. Even when he was a kid his mum used to moan about him not being able to keep still. All this sticking to one pose and one position thing is making him feel stiff and cramped. He really isn’t good at keeping still.
“You’ve only been sitting for twenty minutes, that’s pathetic. Proper life models sit for hours.”
“Remind me never to become a proper life model then,” Jensen says. He walks around the back of the easel, just behind Jared’s stool. He peers over Jared’s shoulder at the canvas. The drawing is very good; it actually looks like a human face, like his face. It’s so weird seeing his face like that.
“Don’t you like it?” says Jared, looking over his shoulder at him. He looks a bit worried, nibbling on his lower lip again. “It’s not finished. It’ll look better when it’s finished.”
“No. It’s,” he hesitates, feeling uncomfortable and not sure how to put the question into words. The face is - well, it’s definitely him, but that person is good looking, like a carved marble statue, and the look on his face is strange, ethereal really, though that sounds really poncey.
“Do I really look like that?” he says.
Jared blinks at him, he looks very serious now. “Yes. You do. Your face is very classic, like classically handsome. You must see that, Jensen.”
“Handsome?” He stifles an embarrassed laugh. “That’s fucking stupid.”
“No it’s not,” says Jared, still completely serious. He spins around on his stool. His head is level with Jensen’s chest and he tilts it back to look up at him. His eyes are wide and sincere, his pink lips parted. “I used to watch you all the time, I couldn’t stop looking at you. You made me feel... things.” He blushes, ducks his head, fingers fiddling with the edges of the paper. Jensen’s stomach flips over, he watches Jared shrug, knife-blade shoulders jerking up and down in his thin white shirt. “It was how I knew I wasn’t, you know, like everyone else.”
“What? Queer?” Jensen says. His heart is thumping, he feels a little bit light-headed. He can’t believe he said the word out loud.
“If you want to put it like that,” Jared says.
“Well, how would you put it?”
He turns away from Jared, wanders over towards the jaunty line of misshapen clay cups and ashtrays covering the display shelf underneath the window. Work by the Second Years, the notice reads. He could remember attempting to shape clay when he was in second year at his old school. He’d gone to the local comp back then, the same school his dad had gone to, though in his dad’s day, it had been a Secondary Modern. He’d been terrible at art, he couldn’t draw, couldn’t shape clay, couldn’t even do the piss-easy tie-dye thing with the hippy who used to come in, the one all the boys used to fancy. He’d dropped Art as soon as he could and then he’d passed the scholarship exam for Sanditon and Art hadn’t even been an option.
He puts his hand on the edge of the shelf, stares down at his fingers; his hand is shaking a bit. He hopes that Jared isn’t going to say anything else about being queer. He doesn’t know how to talk about this kind of stuff. It makes him sick when he thinks about it, about what it all might mean. He knows the words and the definitions, he knows what they mean, but he doesn’t want to think about them.
“I’m not like you,” Jared says quietly. “You’ve done it with girls.”
“Done it,” Jensen mouths to himself, it sounds ridiculous when you put it like that. He picks up one of the better clay mugs. You could probably drink out of this one, though he wouldn’t like to test it out, it looks like it’s never even touched a drop of water. The initials C.E. are scored into the bottom of the cup. He doesn’t know any of the Second Years except for Eggy’s little brother and the kid who cleans the rugby boots on match day. He’s got fair hair and freckles and he blushes every time Jensen speaks to him. Eggy, the stupid tosser, likes to take the piss, going on about the kid having a crush on him like it’s the funniest fucking thing in the world. It used to make Jensen laugh, but thinking about it now makes him feel weird.
“Haven’t you?” Jared says, breaking into his thoughts.
“Haven’t I what?”
“Had sex with girls. Last time at the dance with Queen Charlotte’s, that girl everybody was talking about. The gossip was all about you shagging her.”
Caroline Stone, Jensen thinks. She wasn’t as good as you. He doesn’t say that though, just turns around and shrugs, “I didn’t shag her. She gave me a blowjob.”
“Oh.” Jared swallows, his face falls and Jensen feels immediately bad. This is why you shouldn’t talk about this sort of stuff: someone always ends up getting upset.
“It wasn’t a big deal,” he says.
“I don’t think I fancy girls,” Jared says. “I mean, I’ve never - when I think about it with them, I don’t.” He breaks off, his face is bright red, but he’s obviously going to force the words out whether or not they want to come out. “It doesn’t make me get hard,” he finishes up in a rush.
Jensen stares back at him. He’s not here to talk about this shit, he’s supposed to be doing Jared a favour, because he likes him and because he likes hanging around with him and because Jared asked him. He didn’t sign up to be a bloody councillor.
Jensen sighs, raps his fingers against the shelf. “You want to finish that?” he says, nodding his head at the drawing.
Jared nods stiffly, his face still bright red. “Okay, yeah, I suppose we should. Just, keep still this time.”
"Is there anything on your mind, Ackles? You seem distracted today,” McKenzie says, using his concerned and sympathetic voice.
Jensen stills as he feels McKenzie draw closer, moving to stand behind him, that habitual, slightly-too-close position that Jensen’s never managed to get used to no matter how long the pervy git’s been doing it. He feels McKenzie’s knee brush against the back of his calf and he resists the urge to flinch away.
"Nothing, Sir,” he says.
"Nothing at home? Family problems?" McKenzie drops his hand to Jensen’s shoulder, gives it a gentle squeeze. He doesn’t remove his hand straight away, but lets it linger there, hot and sweaty and heavy and making Jensen’s skin crawl.
"No, Sir,” he answers. He bobs down to pick up the ball, using the movement as an excuse to twist his body out of McKenzie’s grip. The man’s shadow falls over him, blocking out the winter sun.
"Because if there is anything, then you must know that you can come to me,” McKenzie continues, still not moving away. “I know Mr Tulliver is technically Senior Housemaster, but I like to think that we've developed a close relationship over the last few years."
A close relationship, Jensen thinks. Yeah, I bet you’d like to think that.
He doesn’t say that though, just picks the first lie he can think of. “I’m just thinking about the game on Saturday. St Crispin’s are a really good team.”
McKenzie nods gravely. "Yes, yes, indeed they are. But you shouldn't fear them. You’re a very talented boy, Ackles, very special. I’m sure we will have them. Together. Remember: a positive mental attitude! And lots of sweat - good, hard, honest sweat!"
Jensen nods, hiding a nervous snigger as he wipes his muddy hands on his rugby shirt. He straightens up, takes a breath then turns to give McKenzie his most winning smile. “Um, Sir, can I ask you something?”
McKenzie blinks under the merciless onslaught of charm. "Umm, yes, yes, of course. Anything, like I said, anything."
"Would it be okay if I miss practice tomorrow? I just have so much homework to catch up on and I think it would be beneficial for me to take a break before the big game." He pauses, blinks at McKenzie, batting his eyelashes and smiling at him and ignoring the sick churning in his gut. “Would that be okay, Sir?”
He hates this, hates having to beg like that but he needs to see Jared and it’s fucking ironic that McKenzie is the one of the few people who would get that. He’d understand about touching another boy and making him feel good and having him look at you in that way. He’d get the appeal of big hands and wide smiles and dimples and the way their arse looks in their school trousers and their long fat cocks getting longer and fatter when you touch them.
"Um, fine, yes, I think that would be fine,” McKenzie says, looking a little unsteady as he stares hungrily at Jensen’s mouth.
Jensen licks his lips, smiles again. "Thank you very much, Sir.”
Tonight. After dinner. Usual place. Be there or be sexually frustrated for the rest of the week.
He slips the note into Jared's blazer pocket as they cram into the classroom, quirking his eyebrow in his direction as he slides into his seat. He's rewarded with that sudden, blinding grin and he feels his own mouth slide into a wide smile. He’s momentarily relieved that Eggy is missing, talking through his university options with Tulliver instead of sitting here and watching Jensen act like a lovesick schoolgirl. For someone who’s ninety percent ego, Eggy’s surprisingly and annoyingly perceptive sometimes. Too perceptive for his own bloody good.
“Right! Who’s ready for some religious symbolism?” Pickford roars out once they’ve all taken their seats. He picks up Tess of the d’Urbervilles and flings the book in Jensen’s direction. Jensen fumbles the catch, the book drops through his hands and skids off his desk onto the floor.
“Oho, our record-breaking fly-half has incurred a penalty. That’s a knock-on, Ackles,” Pickford intones, looking gleeful.
Jensen closes his mouth on the threatening retort and leans out of his seat to pick up the book. He wipes off the dust on the jacket with the sleeve of his blazer. He can feel everybody’s eyes on him, and he looks up to meet Pickford’s gaze, his face its usual inscrutable mask.
“And your penalty is: tell me of an instance where Hardy uses religious symbolism to describe one of the characters in this ill-us-tri-ous work of fic-ti-on,” Pickford says, pointing a finger at Jensen.
“Alec d’Urberville is often described as a diabolical presence, with his cigar and with frequent use of fire symbolism. The first time Tess meets him he’s holding a pitchfork, which is a common reference to the devil,” Jensen recites.
Pickford rolls his eyes contemptuously. “Bo-ring. Far too easy. I would’ve thought our scholarship student could’ve done better than that!” He snatches the book from Jensen’s desk, spins on his heels dramatically, and stalks between the row of desks, waggling the book in the air, sweat patches revealed to the world.
Jensen allows himself a look at Jared. From this angle, he can make out Jared’s left elbow and shoulder. His bony left wrist pokes out of the cuff of his blazer, which is too short on him. His fingers are stained with charcoal pencil. He must’ve been in the art classroom at lunchtime again, maybe working on the picture of Jensen. He’s rendered it in charcoals and wants to do a colour version. He’s been asking Jensen to pose for him again so he can get the colour work right.
He watches Jared push his hand under his cheek, cushioning the side of his face, long fingers sliding and tangling into his hair. It’s grown, even in the few weeks they’ve known each other, and it’s brushing the collar of his blazer now. He watches Jared turn his head, eyes following Pickford as he strides around the classroom. Jared licks his lips, and Jensen feels his stomach flip over with that familiar throb of want.
“I hope the rest of you can come up with something a bit more original than Ackles...” Pickford booms, pausing for effect like the ginormous ham he is, “...in the essays you’re all going to write for me.” The class groans and Pickford smiles, diabolically. “Religious symbolism in relation to the cha-rac-ters of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles. I want at least four sides of A4. And stop groaning! You’ll be thanking me when this topic comes up in the exam.”
Jared huffs out a moan that is lust and anticipation and I-can't-fucking-wait-any-longer. He spits in his hand, a glistening string of saliva from lips to fingers. He looms over Jensen, shirttails pulling untucked from his trousers, his tie hanging free. Jensen grabs it, fingers twisting in the polyester, yanking Jared forward in a confusion of lips and teeth and bumping noses that quickly becomes breathless, slippery kisses. Jared groans into his mouth, hot sour breath on Jensen’s tongue. His big hands are everywhere, pushing under Jensen’s clothes, rubbing against his cock, the pat-pat-pat of skin on skin contact.
"Maybe we should have sex?" Jared’s face is flushed afterwards, a slightly dazed expression in his eyes when he turns to look at Jensen.
Jensen leers at him. “What d’you call that?”
“No, I mean, sex. Proper sex.”
Jensen raises his eyebrows, surprised. “Buggery, you mean?”
Jared flushes even harder. “Don’t call it that, that sounds disgusting.”
“But that’s what it is, isn’t it? My cock up your bum? You want that?”
Jared holds his gaze, his expression shifts, going a bit coy, knowing. “Yeah, maybe I do,” he says, he sounds defensive, sort of challenging. “I’ve read about it. It’s supposed to be amazing.”
He’s read about it, Jensen thinks. The thought is arousing, imagining Jared reading his dirty little books. Where would he even get such a thing?
He watches Jared tuck in his shirt, fasten the buttons and straighten his crooked collar. There's a mark on his throat, reddish-purple and bite-shaped. He gave it to him last time they were together. He wonders how Jared explains that to his dorm-mate, that ginger git.
Does Jared really want that? Does he really want to be buggered? He pictures Jared on his hands and knees in front of him, his arse in the air, pale round buttocks exposed, waiting for Jensen’s cock. He’s shagged girls - well, two of them - he can remember how it felt, moist and squishy and warm. Would Jared’s arsehole feel like that too? Would they have to use Vaseline like Eggy does for wanking off? What if his cock got stuck up there?
Arseholes are for shitting. He can hear his dad’s voice in his head, his face screwed up in disgust as they watch Top of the Pops, all those fucking dirty poofters... don’t they realise that arseholes are for shitting. In my day, they’d get locked up going out like that.
He swallows back the rise of fear, the hot nervous sweat breaking out under his armpits. Jared obviously doesn’t believe that arseholes are just for shitting. Not if he’s being serious about this.
“We - err - we should have a bed if we do that,” he says.
Jared bites his lip, his eyebrows draw together into his thinking face. “What about the next family weekend?” he says. “I’m not going home on Saturday, my parents have a dinner in town. They’re staying at my dad’s club.”
His dad has a club, thinks Jensen. He wants to laugh; his dad’s idea of a big night out is a curry at the local tandoori and a drink at a pub that isn’t the one his Uncle Kevin runs. The Royal George by preference, if his mum’s with him and he’s feeling flush.
“And you - well, I know you don’t go home much,” Jared adds, looking apologetic.
Jensen shrugs. It’s true enough. He hates this shithole, but he hates going home even more. The small poky flat above the shop and the kitchen at the back and the way the whole place always smells of mouldy fruit and veg and turned milk.
“If I go home, then I always end up helping out in the shop. I hate helping in the shop,” he says.
Jared blinks at him confusedly. “You have a shop?” he asks.
“My dad’s a grocer,” he says, feeling the customary twitch of embarrassment at the confession.
“Oh. Oh, right. I didn’t know that.”
“Not many people do. It’s not common knowledge,” Jensen says. He hesitates, then adds, “And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t spread it around.”
“I won’t! Of course I won’t. I’m good at keeping secrets.” He gives Jensen a look, wry and self-deprecating. “You should know that.”
“Hmm, yeah, I suppose you are.” Jensen sighs, tilts his head back against the wall, half-closes his eyes. He hears Jared shift closer, feels their knees knock together. He opens his eyes, rolls his head against the wall to look at the other boy.
Jared smiles at him, and Jensen drops his hand onto Jared’s long thigh, feels the muscle jump underneath his palm.
“So, Saturday then?” Jensen says. He can do this, and they don’t have to - not all the way - they don’t have to do that. Buggery. He doesn’t think he’s ready for that, but they can do blowjobs and handjobs and touch each other. All over. He’d definitely enjoy that.
“The other tossers are all away for the night. The entire night,” he adds.
Jared swallows and Jensen stares at the ripple of his throat, the slide and bob of his adam’s apple. He wants to lick over the mark he left there; he wants to check if the skin feels the same as the rest of him. He wants to see Jared completely naked. He didn’t look before - that first time, in the showers - he’d been too shocked, and ever since then they’ve never had the opportunity. He doesn’t want to get completely naked in this bloody equipment cupboard. It’s too fucking cold for a start. But he really wants to look, he wants to see all of Jared. He wants to take his time with him.
Saturday is match day, St Crispin’s this time around, one of their big rivals for the Southern Independent Schools Cup. His parents will be there, they’ll watch the match, his dad never misses a game of rugby. They’ll go out afterwards, probably a fish supper, and then they’ll dump him back at school and then...
Him and Jared and no one else. Eggy, Percy, Toska will all be at home. They’ll have all night.
“Yeah, Saturday,” Jared says, nodding his head.
Jensen leans in, puts his lips to the corner of Jared’s mouth and kisses him. Jared sucks in a breath and turns his head into the kiss, their lips and tongues sliding together. They’re getting good at this, learning how to angle their heads so their noses don’t get crushed. It’s slow this time, languorous and easy, though Jensen knows that feeling won’t last. His body is already starting to heat up again, his cock starting to twitch back to life. If he doesn’t break away now, they’ll have to go another round, and then he’ll be late.
He pulls back, pushes out a sigh. Jared smiles wryly at him, cups Jensen’s cheek with one of his huge hands. He leans in and nuzzles against Jensen’s cheek, his breath is warm and moist and ticklish.
“Saturday,” Jensen says again, whispering the word like a promise.
On to Chapter Three