Boarding School Blues
Cooper shied away from the spray of mist shooting from Anakin’s nose. What didn’t land on him rained down on their writing assignment for Professor Gray. It was the fourth time he’d sneezed in nearly a minute, and Cooper had had enough.
“Dude, cover up,” Cooper said. “No one wants your germs in their face.”
Anakin sniffed, holding up a finger as another sneeze took him.
“I’m not sick, I promise!” he insisted. “But I can’t help it. Something’s making me sneeze.”
Professor Gray strolled over to their tables with a tissue box in his hand. While Anakin swiped a few extra to keep with him, a strange odor made Cooper sniff. It was a weird mix of lemons and some kind of flowers.
Cooper turned to Naveen and Julian behind him.
“You guys smell that? I think it’s coming from Professor Gray.”
Naveen smirked. “Anakin’s probably allergic to him.”
“You’re right,” Naveen said. “Dumb joke. Sorry.”
Cooper spun back around and raised his hand as Anakin sneezed again, this time, at least, into his wad of tissues. It was clear nobody cared about the assignment anymore.
“Professor Gray, I think he’s sneezing because of you.”
Professor Gray glared at him as a few others snickered, and right away Cooper realized how it must have sounded.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that,” Cooper said. “What I mean is, are you wearing something different today?”
Professor Gray paused before leaning in to sniff the front of his suit.
“It’s possible it’s this new cologne,” he admitted and then sighed. “Anakin, excuse yourself to the bathroom and see if the sneezing stops.”
“’Kay,” Anakin said through a stuffy nose.
By the time Anakin returned, his nostrils were plugged with the ends of toilet paper. It looked like one of those rings you’d see in a bull’s nostrils. Cooper couldn’t stop his laughter, especially with all the strange clothing Anakin liked to wear.
“I’ll just use these from now on,” Anakin said as he returned to his seat.
“You will do no such thing,” Professor Gray announced. “After tomorrow, I’ll be sure to use a different cologne. I will not have your appearance be any more of a distraction than it already is. Now, I trust you all have had plenty of time for your written work. Textbooks open to—p”
It was time for laundry day.
Cooper braced himself against the laundry room door with his basket while the others carried their baskets inside. The laundry room wasn’t anywhere near the size of their bedrooms. It was a wonder the four of them could even fit in the tiny room tucked beneath Valentia’s staircase. Inside were two washers and two dryers, each facing each other on opposite ends.
Their first laundry day had been awkward. Naveen still wasn’t talking to him, and washing his laundry was Cooper’s least favorite way to spend his time, he decided. Now, it was a completely different experience as they all piled into the cramped laundry room, laughing as they tried not to drop their hampers.
“I thought Professor Gray was going to wring your neck earlier,” Cooper said.
“It wasn’t my fault his stupid cologne makes me sneeze,” Anakin shot back.
After Julian clicked the door shut, they dumped their clothes inside the two washers. Cooper was about to close the lid when Anakin stopped him and pulled his shirt over his head. There was a flash of Anakin’s bare armpits. Cooper had never seen them up close like that. For some reason they were cool to look at. It made him feel funny.
Anakin added his shirt to the pile of clothes before kicking off his shoes and socks. Next came his shorts, and when those had gone, Anakin was left in only a pair of teal briefs. The rounded bulge in his underwear was unmistakable, and Cooper tried not to stare.
“It makes no sense not to wash all our clothes,” Anakin said. “We only get to use the washers once a week.”
“I guess that’s true,” Cooper said.
“Works for me,” Naveen said, ditching his own clothes until he was left in only a pair of plaid boxers. Julian joined him, as usual following Naveen’s lead, and soon it was only Cooper dressed.
“Come on, Coop,” Anakin said. “It’s just us boys.”
What did he have to lose? Cooper took off his shirt to the cheers of the other three. Once he got down to his underwear, though, he was still self-conscious. His briefs were faded and loose, nowhere near the quality of everyone else’s clothes. Whenever his parents went shopping, his mom loved Goodwill because of how easy it was to find old, cheap clothes in his size. Now the thought of everyone seeing him in his used underwear made his cheeks burn with shame.
Other than a brief glance from Naveen, thankfully no one said anything.
“Finally. Let’s start this puppy up,” Anakin said as he slapped the washer next to him.
They hung around the washers as the machines rumbled and clattered. Cooper sat cross-legged on the floor beside Julian. Their Polish friend stretched back as he propped himself up with his hands. Cooper liked the way Julian’s neon briefs clung to his body. The material looked super stretchy, but soft to the touch. Beside the washer, Naveen had his arms crossed as he leaned against it, and Anakin sat on top, dangling his feet over the edge.
Stuck until their clothes finished, they passed the time talking about anything—memories from home, past vacations, their favorite professors, friends they’d left behind. Now a couple weeks into his time at Blue Ridge, Cooper knew Sawyer would have started 6th grade. Had he made new friends? Was he enjoying Misty Pines Middle? He’d written a letter to Sawyer, but until their first care package arrived, Cooper had no way of knowing how life was going for his friend. He hoped one day soon his parents might cave on letting him have his first cell phone. That would be the coolest thing in the world.
From the top of the washer, Anakin squirmed and spread his legs out as a very evident boner tented the front of his briefs. The sight made Cooper’s face hot and sent a blush creeping down his neck.
It took them a few days to get comfortable showering together at the same time, but even then, he and Anakin had always been quick to shield their bodies from each other. Glimpses were all he’d really seen of Anakin’s penis and balls, and the only other time he’d noticed his friend hard was the morning after their first day when Cooper had been trying to hide his own erection.
“Someone’s got a boner,” Naveen teased in a sing-song voice. He was only a foot from Anakin, getting a close-up view of Anakin’s penis as it twitched in his underwear.
Anakin blushed. “Yeah, well, big whoop. It’s not my fault. It’s this dumb washer.”
“You’re the one sitting on it, dummy,” Naveen said.
“Why not just come down here with us?” Cooper asked.
Anakin shrugged with an embarrassed smile. “I don’t know. It feels kind of good. Tickles a bit.”
Naveen gave a wicked grin as he leaned in close. “Keep going, and it’ll feel even better.”
“Really?” Anakin asked. Gripping the edges of the washer, Anakin flattened his bottom and ground against the rumbling washer. The more he held on to the washer, the more Anakin’s legs trembled, jerking occasionally as he twitched. It must have been similar to the way Cooper’s boner felt when it scraped against his pajamas or mattress in the morning. Whenever that happened, the sensations were almost too much—a mix of pleasure and pain and something he couldn’t put into words.
Anakin rubbed his palms repeatedly over his bare thighs as his head rolled. “It’s starting to feel really good, but I think I’m gonna pee if this keeps up.”
Naveen reached down and pinched the boner in his boxers. Through the opening, Cooper could just make out the penny-colored rod of Naveen’s thin dick.
Watching Anakin made Cooper’s chest all fluttery and jittery, and he tucked his knees up, trying to ignore how hard his penis was getting. Julian, on the other hand, didn’t seem bothered at all as his little rod stretched firmly towards his hip.
“You won’t pee,” Naveen said. “Keep going.”
“O…Okay…” Anakin said. His eyes fluttered closed as his body rocked, and a few seconds later, he groaned long and low. The strangest thing happened to Anakin’s penis as it jumped around inside his briefs. It flexed against the cloth up and down the same way Cooper got rid of any lingering drops of pee in the bathroom.
Anakin’s hand crept down and cupped his groin before he finally rolled off the washer. Pulling back his waistband, he stared down inside his underwear as if checking to see what had happened.
“Are you alright?” Cooper asked.
“Yeah,” Anakin said, still staring at his dick. “That was…oh man. Why’s it twitching?”
“Felt amazing, right?” Naveen asked. “Julian, Cooper. You should try it, too.”
“I’m good,” Cooper said, but Julian was already getting to his feet, his little boner leading the way.
“Don’t be such a baby,” Naveen said. “Trust me.”
More irked by Naveen’s response than anything, Cooper hunched over as he climbed to his feet, hoping his boner didn’t stick out too much as he climbed onto the washer.
Naveen gestured down to Cooper’s hardness. “See? That just means you’re ready to try it. Ask Anakin if you don’t believe me.”
Anakin snapped the waistband of his briefs back, his still-hard boner smushed against his leg. “It did feel really good, Coop. He’s right.”
“If it feels so good, then why don’t you do it?” Cooper asked Naveen.
The Indian boy shrugged. “I might later. We’ll see.”
As Julian hoisted himself onto the second washer, Cooper sat on the same one Anakin had, and immediately the vibrations rumbled in his butt cheeks. Even his balls jiggled and bounced around.
It was an interesting feeling, but nothing mind-blowing. It wasn’t until Anakin told him to flex his dick and hold it as long as possible that something started to build inside him. It somehow tickled and tingled at the same time all throughout his boner, but Cooper figured it might have had more to do with the vibrations of the washing machine than anything he was doing. Testing his theory, Cooper ground his pelvis into the washer to try and make the feeling stronger.
Pretty soon the sensations were getting better, more intense, almost unbearable. When he was really little, he used to pretend wrestle with his dad. It always turned into Cooper being tickled on the ground, begging his dad to stop before he peed his pants. The feeling now was a lot like that, only Cooper could pull away if he wanted to. He didn’t though. He wanted—needed—the feeling to keep going.
Beside him, Julian was shuddering as his shoulders bunched up.
Julian rubbed his palm over his crotch before rolling the head of his penis between his fingers, each time bucking under the pleasure.
“Coop, how does it feel?” Anakin asked.
Anakin was right next to him, hands resting just beside Cooper’s legs as he leaned in. As he stared, Anakin’s head was only a few inches from his groin. The extra attention only made Cooper stiffer.
“It feels kinda funny,” Cooper panted. “Tickles a lot, like you said.”
Suddenly Julian squeaked and snatched his hand away as he started peeing himself. Or, at least, it looked like pee. There wasn’t much, but the front of Julian’s neon briefs had spots of wetness soaking through where his dick poked against them.
Cooper started rocking his hips, loving how the underside of his erection rubbed against his underwear. It was better than the times he tried it in bed because the tickling vibrations kept up the whole time. Something felt like it was climbing through his groin, and Cooper couldn’t hold it back any longer.
Squeezing his eyes shut, his dick exploded with pleasure and twitched as goosebumps crawled over his arms. It was like a million tiny feathers were dancing all over his skin. Even the hairs at the back of his neck were standing on end as his penis kicked in his underpants. He hadn’t noticed he was holding his breath until it came whooshing out of him. Cooper was grateful he wasn’t peeing himself, because there was no way his body was in control anymore. It was all good, warm, tickly feelings.
When he could finally breathe, the rumbles became too intense on his penis, and he crawled off the washer. His dick was still hard though, just like Anakin’s had been. He wiped a hand across his sweaty brow and turned before his jaw dropped.
Over on the other washer, Julian had pulled the front end of his briefs down, and Cooper was nearly face to dick with a shiny erection. Sticking up with a curve, Julian’s dick had a tiny bead of water clinging to the end. The head of his penis was smeared with more of the shiny, clear juice. Julian rubbed the spot with his fingers and twitched from the sensitivity.
“Happened again, huh?” Naveen asked, coming closer.
“Yeah, but I wasn’t asleep this time,” Julian said, bringing his fingers to his nostrils as he sniffed.
“You’ve made that stuff before?” Anakin asked.
“I bet it’s your sperms,” Naveen explained. “Do you have any hairs yet?”
Julian shook his head, although he hunched over to inspect either side of his dick. All three of them were huddled around Julian.
“Can we get that feeling whenever we want?” Anakin asked. “That was awesome!”
“How did you even find out about it?” Cooper asked the copper-skinned boy.
“The tickling feeling is called a cum, and yeah, you can have it whenever you want. I don’t need a washing machine, though. I usually get my good feelings from sex.”
All three boys jumped in surprise.
“You’ve had sex!?”
“I don’t believe you!”
Naveen blushed and scratched the back of his head, suddenly uncomfortable from all the extra attention.
“It’s not really a big deal,” he said. “I’ve done it loads of times.”
“Bullshit it isn’t,” Anakin said. “Tell us about it. Who was it with?”
But Naveen suddenly wasn’t interested in sharing, no matter how much Anakin pushed and prodded. Naveen had had real sex? Cooper could hardly believe it. On the playground, he and the other boys always joked about it in giggly whispers, but sex was an adult thing, not something kids his age did.
His parents still had sex. He was uncomfortably certain they did. One night, when he had been thirsty and needed a glass of water, he crossed the open door of his parents’ bedroom. The moans coming from his mom and dad had been strange and sent a weird, tingly rush through his body. These weren’t like the over-the-top moans his friends made at recess. It was low and sensual and drawn out.
A couple times near the end of his 5th grade year, he and Sawyer had watched sex videos on Sawyer’s phone. The site said those people were eighteen, and everyone else they saw looked way older, so of course sex was only for adults. It just made sense. So did that mean Naveen was having sex with an old woman? But he was only in 6th grade, so maybe there wasn’t an age limit after all.
A million questions tickled the back of his brain as the washer buzzed. When the boys switched their clothes to the dryer, they weren’t sure what to do about Julian’s messy underwear. In the end, he decided to wear them, saying he didn’t mind the way they felt.
“It is a nice feeling,” Julian said, searching for the right word. “Squishy.”
While their clothes dried, Anakin kept fiddling with his penis which shifted between hard and soft multiple times. It was obvious he kept thinking about the cum feeling. Maybe he’d want to try it again next time they were at the washers.
Even though they found other things to talk about, the conversation kept coming back to Naveen having sex. No matter how much they begged and pleaded though, he was adamant that he didn’t want to talk about it. Cooper wondered who it could have been. Surely not someone from Blue Ridge. They’d only been there a few weeks.
Once the dryer pinged, the boys folded their clothes and threw on a fresh set. As Julian opened the laundry room door and the boys walked up the spiral steps of Valentia, Anakin leaned in and said, “We should do that again sometime, Coop.”
Cooper blushed, worried people around could somehow sense what they’d done together. Even still, there was no denying the lurching in his underwear as his penis more than agreed with Anakin’s idea.
“We should talk about last night.”
Roman knew this was coming and tried to busy himself with folding up the stubborn cloth hamper. Why didn’t these things work when they were supposed to? He rattled the hamper until it finally collapsed. Behind him, Roman could hear Fielding tapping his foot, waiting.
After last night, when Fielding had stopped Roman from touching his dick, things had been awkward. By the time Roman woke up, Fielding was already gone from his bed, showered, and dressed. It wasn’t until breakfast that Roman saw him, and by then it was too late to have any meaningful, private conversations. Too late except for now, that is. Why did Ivan and Wyatt have to bail on doing their laundry until later?
The dryer rattled and clattered as Roman turned to face Fielding. His strawberry-blonde hair was dulled in the florescent lighting, but his hazel eyes were no less intense.
“Can we talk about it, please?”
Roman slid down against the dryer until his butt kissed the ground. Fielding crouched next to him. It was clear he wasn’t going to give up.
“I just…I don’t know,” Roman said. “Didn’t you like it?”
Fielding rubbed at his freckled arms. “I did, but not like that, Roman. You were really upset.”
“Sorry. It was another bad dream.”
“You always have bad dreams,” Fielding said. “I’m really worried about you.”
When Xavier had nearly pummeled the two of them earlier in the school year, Roman had to give Fielding some kind of answer. He told him about the times Xavier had shoved him, slapped him, even about getting punched their first day at Blue Ridge. But whenever he thought about opening up to Fielding in other ways, like the ways Xavier had Roman help him shoot his stuff, something stopped him. It was like Roman’s heart was locked in chains, and any effort to speak only rendered him mute. He wasn’t sure he would ever be able to find the words.
He couldn’t talk about Xavier directly, but maybe there was a way to talk around it.
“Fielding, have you ever felt like you don’t belong?”
Beside him, Fielding’s eyes grew unfocused, like he was recalling a memory from his past, but at last, he nodded.
“That’s how it is for me.”
“Being at Blue Ridge?” Fielding asked, but Roman shook his head.
“Being with my family. Maybe it’s me, I don’t know. They’re all so…caught up in their own lives, and sometimes it’s like they forget I even exist.”
“I’m sure that’s not true,” Fielding said and rolled his eyes. “My mom thinks your dad’s a pretty great guy. Believe me, ever since she found out you were my roommate, she won’t stop texting me about it.”
“I mean, he’s always there for other people. It’s part of his job. But him, my mom, they’re always someplace else or running late or never there. Then, with Xavier…”
It was like trying to explain the vastness of space or the depths of the ocean.
“Was he always such a big asshole?” Fielding asked, then quickly amended himself. “Sorry.”
“No, not always,” Roman said. “It’s like someone flipped a switch and turned off the Xavier I grew up with.”
“That sucks,” Fielding said, summing it up in the way only boys can.
“And there are other things…” Roman hinted at cryptically. “Things I don’t really wanna talk about. Can’t talk about…sorry.”
Fielding stood up suddenly and started pacing around the room, wagging his hands like he was trying to rid them of something germy and gross. When he spoke, he was a nervous, shaky mess.
“Okay, so listen. I’ve never really told anybody this other than my moms, because, well, they’re my moms, but I’m pretty sure—like 95% sure—I’m probably gay. And not because they are or anything, at least I don’t think, but because…well, I just am, okay?”
Fielding wasn’t even looking at him anymore as he bounced from wall to wall. Any faster and Roman thought he might combust.
“And I’ve never had anyone like me growing up. Again, moms don’t count. But last year there was this one boy at my school who I had the biggest crush on, but I didn’t know it at the time. I just wanted to be near him. And then one day I was at his house, and we were playing games, and I misread something he said and tried to kiss him, which he did not like, and then I panicked and asked my moms to pick me up. Next thing I know, he tells everyone in our class I’m a fag. The rest of that school year was a nightmare, but then I came to Blue Ridge to start over, so there. Now you know.”
“Woah,” was all Roman could say. Fielding had finally stopped to catch his breath, as much from his pacing as his prattling on.
“So, yeah, if you hate me now, or don’t want to be my roommate or whatever, then that’s fine. But I had to tell you. Because about last night, it’s not that I didn’t want to. I did…it’s just…”
“I get it. You want it to mean something.”
Fielding nodded and before anything else could be said, they jumped as the dryer buzzed behind them. It was good that it had, too, because Roman wasn’t sure he trusted himself to do much else than breathe. He’d never considered doing something sexual with anyone because he was attracted to them. Sure, Roman was close with Xavier, but that was different. He didn’t want to date his brother or anything weird like that.
“I don’t hate you,” Roman said. “And I don’t want anyone else as my roommate. And I don’t care if you’re gay—or one day decide you’re not. But I do care about you. And last night…you’re right. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I promise, if I ever try to do something like that again, it’ll be because it means something to me, too.”
It was like someone unraveled Fielding like a knotted ball of yarn. His shoulders relaxed, and he took in a deep breath before he smiled and gave Roman a hug. As he did, a crack chiseled against the shell outside Roman’s heart, a place he thought long sealed away. For the first time since Xavier—the old Xavier—someone was managing to work their way in.
The thought terrified him.
Roman smacked his hands together and rubbed the chalk into his palms. With his helmet already tightened on his head, and most of his harness laced up, he was ready to climb. He pulled the end of his cramped shorts down to give his balls some relief.
“Hey, Roman, wait up,” a voice called, and Cooper Morrow was there, his thick, wavy hair curling out from beneath his helmet. “I didn’t know you were joining the club.”
To be fair, Roman hadn’t either. Fielding had all but talked Roman out of it when they were first searching for clubs, using Cooper as the main reason why it would be a bad idea. But after the House competition and coming so close to winning, only to have victory snatched away from him at the last second, Roman knew the rock climbing club was where he wanted to be.
“You climbed a heck of a race,” Cooper said. “I only barely beat you.”
Cooper held out his fist, and Roman had to fight the urge to say something cruel. Maybe it was Xavier bleeding off on him. It wasn’t Cooper’s fault Roman lost. He’d gotten too eager, too impatient. Roman shook away the mean thoughts like a case of bad fleas and instead playfully slapped Cooper’s fist away.
“Yeah, well that was only because I took it easy on you. Next time, you don’t stand a chance.”
A light twinkled in Cooper’s eyes. “How about a race right now?”
“Please,” Roman said, cracking his knuckles. “I could climb this wall with my eyes shut.”
They were poised to restart their race, but before they could begin, someone smacked the back of their helmets.
“You boys will do no such thing!”
Roman’s helmet slipped over his forehead as Professor Green strutted past, her tight ponytail swinging as she strode toward the base of the wall. Cooper shrugged, and they joined their teacher, who gave them all extensive rules on safety and always making sure they were properly geared up before ever climbing. After that, she released them to the wall where they worked on basics, including types of holds, climbing and breathing techniques, and the importance of a spotter.
“Even though you’re harnessed up now, climbing alone is still very dangerous. Having someone to look after you can help keep you from taking a nasty fall.”
It didn’t take long for Roman to realize how much he’d misjudged Cooper. Maybe misjudged wasn’t the right word, but he certainly didn’t have the full picture. It was obvious how strong of a climber Cooper was. Anytime Roman thought Cooper got jammed in an awkward spot, he always managed to readjust and make it to the next jug. On top of that, Cooper ended up being a great spotter, helping Roman to see the best routes to climb when he got stuck.
By the time Professor Green called them to unharness and hang their gear, Roman was sweating in places he’d never sweat before. His legs were jello, and his blisters had blisters. Cooper, on the other hand, looked ready to climb another round.
Roman dabbed the sweat burning his eyes with the end of his shirt, and when he looked back up, he saw Xavier’s lanky body slinking away from campus into the nearby woods. He wasn’t taking the cobblestone path, instead crunching through the underbrush, obviously up to something no good.
Just leave him be, Roman told himself, but already his legs were betraying him. Before Roman could slip away and follow Xavier, a hand clasped his shoulder.
“Good job today, Roman,” Cooper said. “I’m sure we’ll race again soon! You wanna walk back to the castle together?”
Roman was ready to decline and chase Xavier down, but by the time he turned his head back around, Xavier was already gone.
What was he up to, Roman wondered.
End Chapter 9
Copyright 2023 – Levi Holland
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