PZA Boy Stories

David Clarke

Jeremy Fielding Collection


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Summary

This story follows a group of characters who played a peripheral role in Timmy and the Travellers, whose leader, the titular Jeremy, has the problem of a) having a racist stepfather and a best friend who is a Pakistani, and b) falling in love with a boy who does not reciprocate. This story looks at gay/straight love triangles and follows Jeremy as, with help from his friends, he tries to find a resolution.
Publ. 2008 (Nifty); this site Jan 2013
Finished 143,500 words (287 pages)

Characters

Jeremy Fielding (11-12yo)
The Collection:
Bilal Khan (12yo), Kamran Younis (13yo), Awais Younis (8-9yo), Tony Hanson (12yo), Miguel Àlvarez (10yo), Usman Shabbir (11yo), Simeon Lewis (11yo)
Click here for a full list in a new window
Other boys:
Mitchells School: Neil Carter (13yo),
Inchley Manor School: Andrew Shaw (11yo), Alex Hamilton (c. 11yo), Kenji Nakamura (12yo), James Linnell (13yo)
Ivy House School: Paul McAllen (11yo)
Adult: Andrew 'Adolf' Jordan, Jeremy's step-father

Category & Story codes

School-Boy story
tt tb bbcons mast oral analfirst interr spank bond
(Explanation)

Author's note & Disclaimer

In response to those who wrote in asking for more (and in total defiance of those who didn't!) here's the next offering. If you've read Timmy and the Travellers (if not, click here) you'll already be acquainted with some, if not most, of the characters in this story; if you haven't, don't feel that you have to: I'll do my best to introduce the characters as they appear, hopefully in a way that won't have all my previous readers screaming, "But we already know all that!!!" - or, at least, not too often.

New readers need to know that this story is set in south-east England and starts in June 1976, which is why you'll find no mention of computers or mobile phones, and which is also why most of these characters have a very limited understanding of sex: there was very little sex education in schools back then. It would also be fair to warn you that Jeremy's step-father's views on race and immigration belong very much in the mid-seventies, and are categorically NOT the views of the author!

As with 'Timmy', these characters are all entirely fictional. On the other hand, the story is set in a real place, though once again I have changed the place names. Anyone from round there will probably work out where it is, though – feel free to write and ask me to confirm if you're right!

Comments and questions may be addressed to me at gothmog(at)nyms(dot)net or through this feedback form with David Clarke – Jeremy Fielding Collection in the subject line. I will do my best to answer everyone except flamers.

© 2008 – all rights reserved. Please do not reprint, repost or otherwise reproduce this or any part of it anywhere without my written permission.

David Clarke

Chapter One

"… so it was only supposed to be a straightforward chest X-ray, but they kept me hanging about for almost an hour. And then when I finally got into the room, I found out why it was taking so long: the person doing the X-rays was…"

"Let me guess," interrupted Jeremy. "It has to be a woman, a foreigner or a non-white person. Which was it?"

"It was a bloody nigger!" declared his step-father, determined to finish his diatribe. "How he ever got the job, heaven only knows: they were only ever supposed to be let into the country to sweep the streets and things like that, not to be allowed to work in hospitals, treating decent white people. I'm going to write to the Department of Health about it."

"Good luck," muttered Jeremy.

"What?"

"I just wondered if the X-ray came out okay?"

"Well, yes. But that's not the point."

"Why not?" asked Jeremy, knowing he should shut up but somehow not being able to. "You got what you went there for. Isn't that all that matters? I don't see why you think non-white people can't be doctors. Bilal's dad is a doctor…"

"What, a witch-doctor? We don't want all that bone-rattling rubbish here: we want decent white doctors who you can understand, not some black idiot gibbering away in mumbo-jumbo."

"He's a proper doctor. And I bet if you were sick and he was the only doctor around you'd go and see him."

"Of course I wouldn't! I'm not letting some wog put his hands all over me…"

"Well, you're a bloody moron, then," said Jeremy, before he could stop himself.

***

Two hours later he was lying on the mattress in the spare room and staring at the ceiling. His bum hurt: his step-father had used his belt before locking him in the spare room – and he was hungry, because he'd been stupid enough to lose control of his tongue when he had barely started eating. Needless to say, he hadn't been given a chance to take another mouthful.

He was angry, as much with himself as with his moronic step-father: he knew by now what would happen if he annoyed the man, but he still couldn't control his tongue, which always seemed to have a mind of its own whenever Adolf said anything even more stupid than usual.

A few months ago Adolf would just have hit him; these days he locked him in the spare room instead, though sometimes he hit him as well for good measure. At first Jeremy had been locked in his own bedroom, but Adolf quickly found out that Jeremy was capable of getting out of the window and climbing down over the sloping roof above the porch. So these days he was locked in the spare room, which had no furniture except for the mattress he was now lying on. This window overlooked a rockery, so jumping down would probably have resulted in a broken ankle, but just to make sure Adolf had also made him take off all his clothes except his underpants. A barefoot landing in the rockery was clearly far too dangerous to try, and even if he landed safely he couldn't do much wearing only his underwear.

He lay there quietly, wondering how long he'd have to stay here this time. Generally it was a couple of hours or so, but he had once been left here all night. On that occasion Adolf had opened the door long enough to throw in a blanket and a pillow and to put an empty bucket just inside the door for Jeremy to pee in. That had been an uncomfortable night, and he didn't want to repeat it if it could be helped. But he was determined not to apologise: the man's views were appalling, especially to a boy whose best friend was a Pakistani. To apologise would be to suggest that Adolf was right, and Jeremy was sure he could never do anything to support that idea.

Of course, his step-father's name wasn't really Adolf: it was actually Andrew Jordan. But he ran the local branch of the National Front, and he held views to match: basically he couldn't stand foreigners, and non-white foreigners in particular (as far as he was concerned, all non-white people were 'foreigners', even the ones who, like Jeremy's friend Bilal, had been born in England). He felt that they should all be put on a boat and shipped back to where they had come from (Jeremy had received an earlier beating for pointing out that they'd have trouble getting a boat to take Bilal back to the Two Counties Hospital, where he had been born: it was only a mile away, and it wasn't on the coast).

Jeremy's real father lived in California. His parents had got divorced a few years ago – Jeremy couldn't remember exactly what had caused it, but the problem had come to a head when his father had been offered a well-paid job in America, and his mother – perhaps influenced by American films and television – had flatly refused to move to the USA, convinced that it was no place to bring up a child. So for some years Jeremy had just lived with his mother, which seemed to work just fine until a little over a year ago, when she had met and started to go out with Andrew Jordan.

Jeremy resented the man from the start: he was quite happy with no man on the scene. But his mother had obviously seen something in Andrew Jordan that was invisible to Jeremy's eyes, because they started spending more and more time together, and about seven or eight months ago they had got married. After the wedding Jeremy had genuinely tried to give the man a chance, but his racist views were hard to stomach, and when Jeremy's best friend Bilal Khan had been banned from the house on the inaccurate grounds that he was 'an immigrant', Jeremy had rebelled. He'd received his first proper beating that day, and they had continued on a regular basis since: he simply couldn't hold his tongue in the presence of Mr Jordan's racism and stupidity.

There was a sharp blast on a referee's whistle from outside the house, and Jeremy immediately stood up and went to the window: the whistle was a signal. Sure enough, about five minutes later someone emerged from behind the rhododendron bush at the end of the garden.

Being locked in the spare room was an occupational hazard for Jeremy, and he had devised a plan with Bilal to deal with it: first Bilal would blow his whistle loudly from the front of the house, and then, while Mr Jordan was looking the wrong way, he would make his way down the alley that ran along the backs of the houses in this street, climb past a loose plank in the back fence and hide behind the rhododendron bush. If he stood in the right place he could only be seen from this room and the downstairs toilet, which only had a very small window: the bush hid him from the rest of the house.

He and Jeremy had been learning the sign language used by deaf people. It was hard work, but they were both getting quite good at it by now, and it meant they could communicate soundlessly. Jeremy had started teaching it to some of his other friends, too, but only Bilal was really good enough to use it so far.

"How long are you in for?" signed Bilal, from his spot beside the bush.

"Don't know", Jeremy returned.

"Why don't you keep quiet?"

"Because I'm stupid. But not as stupid as Adolf." (Instead of spelling out his name, they both used a Nazi straight-arm salute to refer to Mr Jordan).

"You have to try to keep quiet. It's boring when you can't come out."

"It's boring here, too. Sorry."

"We were going to play football."

"I know. You go."

"I'll stay and keep you company."

"No. I'll be fine. Go and play."

"Sure?"

"Go. Say hi to the others. If I get out soon I'll come. If not…" He shrugged.

"Okay. I'll come back before I go home. At about five."

Jeremy nodded and waved, and Bilal waved back and disappeared behind the bush.

Jeremy went back to the mattress and lay down once more. He knew Bilal was right: he had to learn to control his tongue. He knew that teenagers were supposed to be stroppy, but he didn't have that excuse: he was still only eleven, though his twelfth birthday was looming. And redheads were expected to have a short temper, but he couldn't claim that excuse, either, because his hair was a mousy brown. Heaven knew how much worse things would be if he were a red-headed fourteen-year-old…

And it wasn't just his relationship with Adolf that bothered him, either: recently he had discovered that there were worse things than having a racist for a step-father – like finding out that you were an absolute pervert, for example. He'd been trying not to think about it for ages, but he supposed he had to face it: he was starting to fancy his best friend.

He and Bilal had known each other for years, more or less since he had started at primary school, and for most of that time he'd just thought of him as a friend, nothing more. But in the past few months he'd started to see him differently: he'd realised how exceptionally good-looking Bilal was, what with the beautiful smile, and those fascinating brown eyes, and the long soft black hair, and the way it fell down over one eye sometimes… and the birthmark, of course.

Bilal had a small dark birthmark underneath his left eye, about the size of a fingertip. Bilal himself hated it, of course, but Jeremy thought it made him look even nicer – and lately he'd found himself wondering what it would feel like to kiss it.

Jeremy realised he had an erection, and if that didn't prove what a pervert he was, nothing did. He lifted the elastic of his pants and moved it below his balls, so that his penis could stick out unconfined. He looked down at the hard little traitor between his legs, wishing to God that it didn't have to raise its head every time he thought about Bilal. Not that there was that much of it to betray him: he was convinced he was small for his age, though in fact he was probably perfectly average. It didn't help that there was absolutely no sign of hair yet: even though that was probably true of the majority of boys in his form, he was aware from the occasional peep on Games Day that Bilal already had some, even though there weren't all that many yet. But the hairs he did have fascinated him: he wanted to touch them, to see how soft they were, to stroke them gently…

His erection twitched, and he took hold of it absently and started to stroke himself slowly. Great, he thought, when he realised what he was doing, now you're wanking over your best friend. But he didn't stop doing it.

He desperately needed to talk to someone about it, but he didn't know who. Obviously Adolf was a complete non-starter: the man hated homosexuals as much as he hated foreigners. His real father was a better bet, but he didn't think he would be able to bring himself to raise the issue with him: his month in America every year was his only chance to escape from Adolf for any length of time, and he was afraid his father would be so disappointed in him if he told him how he felt about Bilal that the visits would end.

He had made up his mind that if he discussed it with anyone, it would have to be with one of his friends. But it was really hard to decide which one to pick: he didn't want to speak to any of the ones who went to his own school, because if he picked the wrong one and it got out, it would be sure to find its way to Bilal's ear sooner or later, and that would be disastrous. So that left the ones who didn't go to the Grove school.

Jeremy had a number of friends with whom he played football at weekends – when he wasn't locked in the spare room, of course – and five of them went to different schools. He wondered which one he could talk to about… well, things. But even with those five, there were problems: to start with, they weren't just his friends, they were Bilal's friends, too, and three of them went to the same mosque as Bilal – indeed, that's how he had met them in the first place, following an introduction from Bilal himself. He wasn't sure that anything he said to them wouldn't find its way back to Bilal fairly quickly. And that was a pity, because otherwise Kamran would have been an ideal candidate.

All of his football-playing friends were, for one reason or another, completely anathema to Adolf: four of them, including Bilal, were Pakistanis; one was Spanish; one was Jewish; and the last one, the only white English Christian in the group, had hair that ended well below his shoulder-blades, which disgusted Adolf, who thought that all boys should be neat and smart, if not actually wearing a Hitler Youth uniform. Jeremy would have liked them and enjoyed playing with them if they had all been white, Christian and smartly-dressed, but the fact that they all got right up Adolf's nose made them absolutely perfect. Jeremy referred to them en masse as 'The Jeremy Fielding Collection', a name which the boys, all of whom knew about his background, entirely approved of. He was sure he could count on their friendship and rely on them in almost all circumstances – except, perhaps, if it came to telling them he was queer.

Kamran Younis was the eldest member of the Collection: he was thirteen, outgoing and fun, and extremely good at football, too. And despite the fact that he was quite a bit more grown up than the rest of them – he was the only one whose voice had broken, for a start – he never talked about girls, and always seemed to have time to play football with the rest of them. Jeremy liked him a lot, and for any other issue he would have been top of his list if he needed advice. But Kam had been friends with Bilal for ages, and Jeremy wasn't sure that something as momentous as this wouldn't be talked about the next time Kam and Bilal met at mosque.

Kam's younger brother, Awais, was even more outgoing and bouncy, and was brilliant at cheering him up if he felt down. But it would be pointless to try talking to him, because Awais wouldn't even understand what he was talking about: his ninth birthday was still a month or so away.

The third Pakistani, Usman Shabbir, was about Jeremy's own age. He went to a prep school in Shortham, about five miles [8 km] away from the town of Poundford Spa, where they all lived, and he was pretty bright. He was a lot quieter than Kam and Awais, and only in the past three or four months had he started to come out of his shell a bit. Again, Jeremy would have considered talking to him, had it not been for the friendship between Uzzy and Bilal.

The long-haired white boy was Tony Hanson, and he had been friends with Jeremy and Bilal for years – again, they had started at primary school together. The big plus point was that Tony, being white, was actually allowed to come to Jeremy's house (though Adolf always made acerbic comments about his hair), which would make it easier to talk to him. And he was virtually certain that he could trust Tony, even though they went to the same school, which meant that Tony saw Bilal every day. That was the only consideration that held Jeremy back, but he was still prepared to put Tony on the short list.

That left the two most recent additions to the Collection. Miguel Àlvarez was an unlikely addition to the Collection: he hadn't known any of the other boys before joining, and he didn't go to the same school as any of them: he was at another prep school at the north end of the nearby town of Poundford (Poundford and Poundford Spa were about five miles [8 km] apart). He had simply been out on his bike one day and had somehow found his way to the pub car park they used for their football games. He had watched Tony, Kam and Awais practising their headers and volleys for a few minutes and had then been invited to join in, and since then he had often appeared for their games.

He didn't say a lot. Of course, this was partly because English was a foreign language to him, though he spoke it quite well, with only the accent and an occasional grammatical mistake to let him down; but he seemed to be naturally quiet and self-contained, except when playing football, when he became a lot louder. Jeremy wondered if all Spanish footballers shouted and waved their arms about whenever a pass went astray. Certainly from a security point of view Miguel would be a good choice, because he didn't know Bilal very well at all. But on the other hand Jeremy wasn't sure what the Spanish attitude to homosexuality might be: he knew that Spain had been a dictatorship until very recently, and he knew that Adolf was an admirer of the recently-deceased General Franco, and he was pretty sure that anything Adolf liked would be no use to him. Nevertheless, he pencilled Miguel's name onto his mental shortlist.

Finally, there was Simeon Lewis, the most recent member of the Collection. Jeremy had liked Sim the moment he'd met him, and that was before he found out that he was Jewish and so a perfect addition to the Collection. The boy had shown that he had a courageous nature (either that, or he was completely insane!) by betting Kam and Uzzy that he could outperform them at football, and had promised to streak the length of the car park if he failed. He had failed, and had immediately removed all his clothes and run to the far end of the car park and back without the least hesitation, even repeating the run without protest when Tony had jokingly pointed out that the first run didn't count because Sim had still been 'wearing' a sticking-plaster on his bum. And this was in front of at least three boys he'd never set eyes on before that afternoon. Anyone with a sense of fun like that was worth knowing, in Jeremy's eyes.

Simeon went to the same school as Uzzy, and it was obvious watching them that they were really good friends. It would be too much to hope that Sim felt the same way about Uzzy as Jeremy felt about Bilal, but the fact that this was another friendship across racial – and, indeed, religious – lines did a lot to suggest to Jeremy that Sim might be a good person to talk to. He added him to his mental list.

He sat up. While he had been considering his options his erection had subsided, and now dangled outside his pants, looking to him as small and insignificant as it usually did. But he knew that if he started thinking about Bilal again it would return to its previous embarrassing state, so he tucked it back inside his pants, walked to the window and looked out, determined to think about something else – anything would do, as long as it wasn't how beautiful his friend looked when he smiled, with those gleaming white teeth and the soft black hair across his left eye, and that amazing little mark underneath his eye… oh, shit, he thought, it's happening again…

***

The object of his confused thoughts had by this time cycled as far as the car park of the Hyde pub, where he had found some of the other members of the Collection waiting for him.

"Where's Jeremy?" asked Kamran. "No, don't tell me, let me guess… Could it be his spare room?"

"Surprise, surprise," said Bilal. "He opened his mouth again."

"It's hard to blame him," said Tony. "I think if I had to live in that house I'd be locked in that room permanently. At least, I would if it depended on me getting my hair cut to get out."

Tony was proud of his long blond hair, and had sworn never to cut it until it reached his feet and tripped him up. Kam and Bilal wore their hair quite long, too, as was the done thing in the mid-seventies, but neither of them ever let it get below shoulder level. Awais would liked to have worn his long as well, but his mother had told him he was too young to grow it too much, and she insisted on getting it cut once it covered his ears. The rest of the Collection went to schools that had strong ideas about hair length, though pupils regularly tried to push those rules as far as they could be stretched.

Uzzy's hair was quite short, and he wore it in an old-fashioned side parting that made him look like a small bank clerk, especially when his metal-framed glasses were taken into consideration. Simeon wore his hair in a fairly short style, more or less from choice (he thought he'd look silly with long hair, especially when he wore his yarmulke) and Miguel had a fairly strict father who wanted him to look smart for the odd occasion when colleagues from the embassy came to visit.

Uzzy and Sim were not there today – Uzzy had told Bilal the previous evening that he was going out with his parents, and Sim was generally otherwise engaged at synagogue and with his family on Saturdays. Miguel was there, though, sitting quietly on the wall as he usually did between games, and Awais was practising his football-juggling skills with mixed success. So that meant there were five of them, which was not really enough for a proper match.

"We could play two against two, if someone sits out each game," suggested Kam.

"That's too boring for the fifth person," complained his brother.

"Or we could play two against two with a fixed goalie," offered Bilal.

"That'd be better," agreed Awais. "Who's going in goal first?"

"I will, if you like," said Bilal, and he took up position between the posts.

They played three or four games like that, but it wasn't really as satisfactory as a proper game, so after a bit they tried playing three against two. But that didn't really work, either, because none of them was really a bad enough player to give the two-player team any real chance of winning.

"We need more players," said Kam. "You're really going to have to talk to Jeremy about getting into trouble with Adolf all the time, Bilal – we need him here."

"I've told him, more times than I can remember. But you know what he's like: he just speaks without thinking. I don't think there's anything we can do about it – after all, it's usually because he's sticking up for us that he gets in trouble. I think we'll just have to put up with him not being here much – unless you can think of a way to get rid of Adolf, or change him into a normal human being…"

Not surprisingly, nobody could think of a way to do that, though Kam said that the idea of pushing Adolf under a bus was not without merit. With no immediate solution to their problem in sight they turned their attention back to football.

"I know – let's play headers and volleys like we did that time before," suggested Awais. "If we score five before the keeper catches the ball, he has to streak to the other end of the car park and back."

"Whose mad idea was that?" asked Bilal, who hadn't been around on that particular afternoon.

"Sim's. He bet Kam and Uzzy he could catch the ball before they scored five, but he didn't, so he had to streak. He looked really funny. And then we played again, and Jeremy lost and had to do it as well. It was a really good laugh – let's do it again."

"What happens if the keeper catches the ball before the other players have scored five goals?" asked Bilal.

"Then the keeper gets to choose who has to streak."

"I've been thinking about that, and it isn't really fair," said Kam. "I know that if you won you'd want to make me do it, 'cos you want to show me up. I reckon it would be fairer if whoever gives the keeper the catch has to streak instead. That way nobody would get picked on unfairly."

Awais made a rude noise at him, but everyone else was nodding their agreement.

"Good, so that's agreed," said Kam. "And, as you were so keen to play again, Awais, how about you go in goal? Unless you're chicken, of course…"

'Chicken' is the magic word that usually persuades boys to do something they're not really too keen on doing, and it worked this time, too: Awais took up position between the posts and invited everyone to do their best, observing that their best would be far too pathetic to get past his expertise as a goalkeeper. And a couple of minutes later the fifth goal flew past him, volleyed in by Miguel from at least fifteen yards away. Awais hesitated, but only very briefly: there was no way he was going to let the others accuse him of chickening out, especially since he had been the one to suggest this game in the first place.

He sat down on the low wall that ran along the side of the car park and removed his shoes and socks, and then pulled his tee shirt over his head.

"Hold on," said his brother, as Awais undid his belt, "we'd better check there's nobody hanging about round the back of the pub."

This car park was in the shape of a backwards L: the bottom bit, which they used for their football games, and the longer side bit, which ran right up to the back of the pub and which was actually used as a car park when the pub was open, which it wasn't at the moment: British licensing hours in the seventies were extremely restricted. Kam jogged to the angle of the L and looked up towards the back of the pub, but as usual there was nobody about.

"All clear," he called to his brother, who slipped off his shorts and underpants and ran at top speed to the other end of 'their' bit of the car park and back, his willy (which was quite a respectable size for a boy who was not quite nine years old) wobbling about as he ran.

"Of course, when Sim and Jeremy did this they did it twice," Tony pointed out as Awais got back to the start. "So obviously you'll have to do it twice, too, or it wouldn't be fair."

"Why not? Neither of them is here today," Awais pointed out.

"Doesn't matter," said Tony. "The penalty for losing is four lengths, not two. Put it this way: you're not getting your clothes back till you've done it again."

That left Awais with little choice, so he turned and repeated his run, though he was moving a little more slowly by the time he got back to the start once more. And then he ran into a problem: when he went to get his clothes back he found that Miguel was sitting on them.

"Come on, Miguel, I've done the streak," he complained.

"What?" said Miguel, trying to appear innocent, and at the same time trying not to stare too hard at Awais's genitals, which he found really interesting, being rather larger than his own. And the penis also looked different because of course Awais was circumcised. He remembered that Sim's had looked quite big when he had done his streak, too, and wondered if all circumcised boys had bigger ones.

"Gimme my clothes," cried Awais, grabbing Miguel's arm and tugging vainly: Miguel was heavier than he was.

"Come on, Mig, he's done the run," said Tony. "Give him his stuff back."

"Oh, you want these," said Miguel, standing up and handing Awais his clothes with a grin. "Sorry – you know I doan speak Eenglish so good."

"Crap," declared Awais, pulling his pants back on. "You speak English as well as any of us, so you don't have to put on that silly accent. You wait till you lose – I'll chuck your clothes over the wall, and then we'll see how you like it."

"I will not lose," said Miguel, losing the exaggerated accent. "You know I am the best player here."

"You wish," said Tony and Kam in unison. They grinned at each other.

"Anyway, I am sorry," said Miguel to Awais. "I should not tease you like that – you are brave to run without your clothes."

Awais grunted. "Okay, so maybe I won't throw your stuff over the wall," he said, tying his laces. "So who's going in goal next?"

There were no volunteers: none of the others had lost this game so far, and none showed any great enthusiasm for risking a bout of exposure now.

"Come on, someone has to," said Awais. "Otherwise you'll have to play rock-paper-scissors for it."

"That'd be fair," agreed Kam. "Okay, me and Tony, then Bilal and Miguel; losers play each other; loser of that game goes in goal. Fair enough?"

They agreed that it was, and Bilal ended up, unenthusiastically, going in goal. He really wasn't sure about this: he was quite shy, the more so since his body had started to change with the onset of puberty, and he really didn't want to undress in front of everyone, even though these were his friends. So he swore to himself that they weren't going to score five goals, no matter what it took.

He couldn't really do a lot of diving, since they were playing on tarmac, but he hurled himself about like a madman, blocking anything that was even remotely blockable. But every now and again one got past him, and when three had gone in the others started to tease him about how funny he was going to look running about in the altogether. But then Awais mis-hit a cross a little too close to the goal, and Bilal was able to jump and gather it in.

"Oh, come on, not again," complained Awais. "I've done it once – there's no point in doing it again."

"There's every point, if it teaches you to be more careful where you place your crosses," retorted his brother.

"I think his punishment should be worse this time," commented Tony. "Losing twice in a row has to deserve something extra."

"Like what?" asked Awais, halfway through removing his shirt.

"I don't know – what about for four circuits instead of two?"

"Get lost!"

"Well, it's got to something extra, Tony's right about that," said Kam, and Miguel nodded vigorously.

"Well… okay, but I don't fancy going there and back four times."

"You do not have to run," said Miguel. "You can walk if you want. Then you will not be tired."

"No, thanks," said Awais. "I want this over with quickly."

"Then how about, you run there and back twice, like last time, but then you have to do twenty press-ups before you can get dressed again," offered Tony.

"Ten."

"Fifteen, but they have to be proper ones."

"Okay," agreed Awais, putting the rest of his clothes back on the wall. "On condition that you don't let Miguel sit on my clothes like he did before."

"Okay," agreed Miguel, and Awais darted off towards the far end of the car park once more. This time they hadn't posted a sentry at the corner, so he stopped when he got there and peered around the corner before carrying on with his run. He completed the double circuit and dropped to the ground to start his press-ups, while the others crowded round and counted for him, disallowing any that weren't done properly.

Miguel squatted down beside him and watched, insisting that Awais came all the way down between push-ups, and only allowing him to move up again once the tip of his penis had touched the ground. Miguel stared at it, fascinated, and soon he became aware that his own little penis had gone hard. When Awais finally finished his push-ups and stood up, Miguel had to turn away so that the bulge in his shorts was not obvious to everyone. Fortunately by the time Awais was dressed once more it had returned to its usual less obvious state.

Nobody wanted to risk losing another game, least of all Awais, who couldn't imagine what would happen to him if he lost three in a row, and so they had another two against three match, keeping going with it until it was time to go home. Bilal made his way back to Jeremy's house and checked his friend's bedroom window: Jeremy's old teddy bear was still leaning against the window, which was the signal that he was still locked away – he had positioned it there when he went to his room to get undressed immediately before being locked in the spare room. So Bilal moved a little way down the street, gave a sharp blast on his whistle and then made his way along the alleyway to the loose plank in the fence at the end of Jeremy's garden.

Jeremy appeared at the window and waved at him, and he waved back.

"How much longer?" he signed, and Jeremy shrugged.

"They all say you're an idiot," Bilal told him.

Jeremy nodded in agreement, and then asked who was there.

Spelling everybody's name letter by letter would have been very slow, so Jeremy and Bilal had devised a sort of shorthand, assigning a gesture to each member of the Collection. Bilal quickly cycled through the gestures that indicated Kam (hand held high – Kam was the tallest of them), Awais (both ears pushed forwards – Awais had a bad case of jug-ears), Tony (hand swept through the hair) and Miguel (both hands to one side, twitching an imaginary matador's red cape).

Bilal didn't feel up to describing Awais's misfortunes in sign language, so he simply indicated that he was going home for tea and asked Jeremy to phone him when he got out. Jeremy nodded and waved goodbye, and then went back to the mattress feeling thoroughly fed up. Unless he could learn to control his tongue, he thought he'd probably spend the next five years at least having to rely on Bilal's signed reports to find out everything that was happening in the world…

OK, so now we know that Jeremy's got problems, though quite how he's going to deal with them remains to be seen. In the next chapter we'll see what some of the other members of the Collection get up to when they're not playing football…

Chapter Two

Those of you who have read 'Timmy' will know a bit about some of Jeremy's friends, but one that we know almost nothing about is Miguel. So let's start this chapter by seeing how the weekend's events have affected him…

Until fairly recently Miguel would have said that the small tube on the front of his body was simply there for disposing of waste water: he never thought about it at all except when it was actually in use. But just recently things had changed: now it had developed the habit of going hard at awkward moments, usually when he was with friends who would no doubt laugh at him if they saw his shorts sticking out. So far he seemed to have escaped unnoticed, but he didn't think his luck would last – and what would happen if he lost one of their header-and-volley games and had to undress in front of his friends, only to find that it had chosen that moment to misbehave? He thought he'd die of shame if anyone saw it sticking out.

He knew that it happened to other boys – after all, he'd seen boys at school with their shorts bearing witness to their condition – but he didn't know why. Sometimes it happened without any reason at all: he'd be hard at work on a piece of homework and suddenly he'd be aware that it had gone hard. But sometimes…well, sometimes it had happened as it had on Saturday, when he'd been able to see Awais with nothing on. Looking at another boy's equipment had made his own sit up and take notice. And he'd found it really exciting to be able to look at another boy like that, and he wanted to do it again.

Normally Miguel took no notice at all of the other boys in the changing room on games days, but since seeing Awais close up he'd decided to try to see what his form-mates looked like: were they bigger than he was? Did theirs stick out while they were getting changed? Did they have skin over the end, like he did, or had their skin been removed, like Awais's?

Of course, he knew he would have to be discreet about it: if the other boys caught him peering at them, he thought they'd call him names, or maybe even hit him. The problem was that he didn't want to risk being undressed while he was looking: if his own organ decided to go hard, as he thought it might, he wanted it properly covered up. That meant that he couldn't risk taking a shower: he would have to get his own clothes on as quickly as possible and then try to watch the boys who were getting changed near him.

Unfortunately this was the cricket season. Miguel's school, Inchley Manor, played rugby during the winter, and after a game of rugby everyone was so muddy that they had to take a shower. But nobody got muddy playing cricket, and so most of the boys didn't take a shower at all; and since they kept their normal underwear on underneath their cricket trousers, Miguel thought he would have no opportunity to start his investigation this Monday afternoon. But he had forgotten about Shaw.

Andrew Shaw took his sport very seriously, and as a result he was good at most games, though his physique helped: he was a little taller than Miguel, and quite strong. He was captain of the rugby team, and he was good at cricket, too. And being serious about sport meant, as far as he was concerned, putting plenty of effort into it, and therefore it was always necessary to take a shower afterwards.

He finished removing his cricket kit, wrapped a towel round his waist, slipped off his pants under it and headed for the showers, and at that point Miguel, who had been getting changed quite quickly, decided that it would be a good idea to slow down. He took his shirt off again, put it back on very slowly, spent a couple of minutes tying his tie, packed his kit away, and untied and retied his shoelaces, and still Shaw hadn't emerged from the shower.

Then Miguel had an idea. He took off his left shoe and removed the lace completely, and then bit halfway through it and pulled until it broke. When Shaw finally came back from the shower the changing room was almost empty: a couple of stragglers were still strolling towards the door, but almost everyone had gone – except for Miguel, who was sitting on the bench opposite Shaw's peg and trying to re-thread a shoelace that had a knot tied in it.

"The string broke," Miguel explained, showing Shaw the offending shoe.

"The lace," corrected Shaw. "That's called a lace, Àlvarez."

"Oh. Thank you. So, the lace broke."

Shaw grunted, turned his back and began rubbing his hair with the towel, and Miguel edged a little further along the bench to try to see better. After a bit Shaw put down the towel and picked up his underpants, starting to put them on, and Miguel, who had still not been able to see anything, craned his neck. And then Shaw, with his pants around his thighs, suddenly looked round and caught him.

"You're trying to look!" he accused, pulling his pants the rest of the way up before Miguel could see.

"No, I… well… no!" stammered Miguel, trying hard, but unsuccessfully, to look innocent.

"Liar! You've gone all red – that proves you're lying. You wait till I tell everyone about this… you're going to be in so much trouble, Àlvarez."

"No, please don't… I mean, I was not trying…well…"

"Of course, maybe I won't tell anyone, if you make it worth my while."

"You want money? How much?" asked Miguel, convinced he was going to get beaten up by the whole form if Shaw spread the word.

"I don't know yet. I'll think about it while I'm getting changed. You can wait by the door – I don't want you staring at me all the time."

So Miguel went and sat down by the door. A couple of minutes later the games teacher came in to make sure that everyone had gone.

"Hurry up, Shaw," he said. "I want to lock up. Àlvarez, you can wait for Shaw outside."

Miguel went out, and a couple of minutes later Shaw appeared, still doing up his tie. His bag was slung over his shoulders.

"What time's your bus home?" he asked.

Miguel shrugged. "They are every ten minutes, so it does not matter," he replied.

"Good. Come with me."

Games was the last thing on the Monday timetable, so they were now free to go home, but instead of heading for the bus stop outside school Miguel followed Shaw for about a quarter of a mile [400 m], leaving the main road and heading into the maze of residential streets that lay to the east of it. Eventually Shaw opened a gate and led him up the path to a detached house that lay back from the road in a garden surrounded by hedges and trees.

"Is this where you live?" asked Miguel. "You are lucky that you are this close to the school. You do not have to wait for buses in the rain."

"I suppose not," said Shaw, opening the door with a key. "Put your bag down by the door and come upstairs."

Miguel followed him up to a bedroom that was a little bigger than his own. There were posters of various sports teams on the wall, but otherwise the only difference between this room and his own was the wash-basin in the corner, which Miguel immediately coveted: the idea of not having to wait for someone else to finish getting washed in the morning was very attractive.

"So," said Shaw, plonking himself down on the bed, "what should I do about you? Of course, I could just beat you up myself," and he pounded his right fist against his left palm, grinning at Miguel.

"…but I don't really want to get blood on my carpet," he went on, grinning even more. "So maybe the best way to punish you would be to do what you were trying to do to me."

"What?" asked Miguel, looking puzzled.

"Well, you wanted to see me with nothing on – so instead, I'm going to look at you. Get undressed, Àlvarez."

"No! No, you cannot!" said Miguel, shaking his head and backing away.

"Well, if you'd prefer me to tell everyone tomorrow about how you were trying to look at my balls, of course that's up to you," said Shaw, still smiling hugely.

Miguel felt trapped. He certainly didn't want the whole class jumping on him, but he really didn't want to have to undress, either, even though this was a private place where nobody could see him except Shaw.

"I don't know, maybe once I've told everyone, they'll think perhaps they should strip you bare and chase you round the playground," suggested Shaw, raising an eyebrow at him. "On the other hand, if you take your own clothes off now, nobody else would have to find out about it."

"You promise you will not tell?" asked Miguel, distrustfully.

"I promise."

"Well… okay, then."

"Great! I mean… get on with it, then."

Miguel undid his belt, but Shaw stopped him.

"No, do it properly, as if you were getting ready for bed," he said. "Take your clothes off in the proper order, your pants last, and fold everything up on that chair."

So Miguel started to undress, feeling strange: he'd never done this in front of an attentive audience before. Getting changed for games was nothing like this because there everyone was rushing to get changed at the same time, not leaning forward with an expectant look on their face, the way Shaw was sitting now.

Miguel removed his blazer, tie, shoes, socks, shirt and shorts, folding each item up neatly on the chair as he had been told. Then he hesitated.

"And those, or you're in trouble tomorrow," insisted Shaw.

So Miguel slipped his pants off, put them on the chair and then turned to face Shaw with his hands held over his groin.

"Come here," ordered Shaw, and Miguel walked slowly towards him, keeping his hands in place.

He stopped right in front of Shaw, who reached out and took hold of Miguel's wrists, and then pulled his hands away from what they were trying to hide. And straight away Miguel felt his little organ starting to twitch and harden, until within ten seconds it was sticking straight out in front of him, at an angle of about forty-five degrees above the horizontal. He blushed deeply and tried to pull his hands free, but Shaw was far too strong.

"It's all hard," said Shaw, giggling. "Not bad, Àlvarez. It looks nice like that."

Miguel stopped struggling and looked down at his little throbbing willy. Shaw was staring at it in fascination, but he didn't make any of the derogatory comments Miguel had expected. Suddenly he felt a lot better about the situation.

"Now you," he said, pulling his wrists free and stepping back, though without trying to cover himself.

"Huh?"

"Now you undress. Else I will tell the boys tomorrow that you made me take all my clothes off so you could look at me."

"They wouldn't believe you."

"I think they will. I can say that you made me come to your house, and I can tell them what your room is like… if anyone has been in this room they will know it is the truth."

Shaw thought about this briefly, but really he was quite keen to take things further, so he said, "Okay, then. But you have to promise not to tell anyone."

"If you do not tell anyone, I will not."

"That seems fair," said Shaw. He stood up and took his clothes off, hanging the blazer up in his cupboard and piling the rest of his clothes on another chair, and when he was naked except for his watch and a small cross around his neck he turned to face Miguel and stood with his legs slightly apart and his hands at his side.

Like Miguel, he had an erection, which seemed to be around the same size as Miguel's own, though Shaw's balls seemed a bit bigger and dangled down, whereas Miguel's nestled close to the base of his penis. They stared at each other, and Shaw advanced until they were only a couple of feet apart.

"We're about the same size," Shaw commented. "Mine sticks up a bit more than yours, though."

"You have big balls," said Miguel, staring at them.

Shaw went to his bag and found a ruler, which he held against his stiff penis so that Miguel could see it.

"Three inches [7.5 cm]," he announced. "Now let's see if you're bigger or smaller." And before Miguel could react Shaw took hold of his erection and held the ruler alongside it.

Miguel gasped: nobody had every touched him there before, and it felt really strange. The ruler was cold, and that felt strange, too, but he kept still and let Shaw take his measurement.

"Two inches and nine-tenths [7.3 cm]," he announced. "So I'm bigger."

"You are not measuring right," complained Miguel, grabbing the ruler. "Let me try."

He measured himself, but couldn't squeeze that extra tenth of an inch out of it and had to agree with Shaw's call of two point nine. But then he took hold of Shaw's organ and held the ruler against it, and now it was Shaw's turn to gasp, because this was a first for him, too.

"Two point eight [7.1 cm]," declared Miguel, inaccurately. Shaw grabbed the ruler and they argued about it, but finally Miguel agreed that perhaps Shaw really was one-tenth of an inch longer.

"Perhaps I can make yours bigger," suggested Shaw, and he took hold of Miguel's erection properly and started to squeeze it and to stroke it gently. This felt even stranger, but it felt good as well, and Miguel made no attempt to pull away or to prevent Shaw from touching him.

"See if you can make mine bigger," suggested Shaw, so Miguel took hold of him and started to do the same things. Shaw's organ felt really interesting: it was warm and very hard, but the skin felt soft and silky.

They went on fondling each other for about five minutes, and then Shaw picked up the ruler and measured them both again, but the results were unchanged.

"Perhaps if I do that to you sometimes, it'll help yours to grow," he suggested. "What do you think?"

"I think it would be good," said Miguel. "And I must help you to grow, too."

"Great! That way we can help each other… can you think of anything else we could do, Àlvarez?"

"You should call me Miguel," said Miguel. "We are doing things I have never done with anyone, so I think we should use first names now."

"Okay. Then you can call me Andy. So, what shall we do now?"

But Miguel couldn't think of anything: this was already way further than he had ever dreamed about going.

"Well, in that case I'm going to beat you up," announced Shaw, and he grabbed Miguel and threw him onto the bed, jumping on top of him and trying to pin him down. Miguel struggled and tried to dislodge him, but Shaw was heavier and stronger, and so he stayed on top.

"Now I'm going to stab you to death," declared Shaw, and he raised his body and drove his little dagger of flesh against Miguel's body. Miguel giggled and tried to thrust his own erection against the other boy's body, and for a while they wriggled about and rubbed their stiff little willies against each other.

"This is fun," said Shaw, stopping for a breather, but without getting off Miguel's body. "Do you want to do this again, Àlv… Miguel?"

Miguel nodded vigorously. "This is really good. I think we should do it again a lot."

"So do I." Shaw stood up and looked at his watch. "My mum will be home soon, so perhaps we'd better get dressed. But before we do, let's swear to keep it a secret."

He helped Miguel to his feet and then took his hand.

"Do you swear to keep everything we've done today secret?" he asked.

"Yes, I swear."

"I swear, too." He let go of Miguel's hand. "Now let's get dressed," he said. "Last one ready gets beaten up."

They ran to their respective chairs and started to throw their clothes on. Miguel would have won had it not been for the complete mess he made of knotting his tie, and by the time he had undone it and started again Shaw was already sitting on his chair and smirking at him.

"Looks like I'm going to have to beat you up," he said. "But we'd better not do it now we've got our school clothes on in case we mess them up. I'll have to beat you up next time you come round."

"Okay," said Miguel, delighted to receive this implicit invitation. "You can try to beat me up next time. But you will not succeed."

"We'll have to wait and see," said Shaw, leading him back down the stairs.

Miguel said goodbye, picked up his bag and made his way back to the bus stop outside the school, thinking about what had happened. He hadn't known it was possible to have so much fun with no clothes on…

***

At Mitchell's School in Poundford Spa, Kam discovered that his usual lunchtime game of football wasn't going to happen: when he reached the corner of the field where they usually played, all he found was Neil Carter, who usually supplied the ball they used, sitting on the wall looking fed up.

"I lost my ball yesterday afternoon," he told Kam. "I went to see if I could nick one from the gym so we could play today, but it was locked. Some of the others have gone to see if they can find a ball somewhere, but it looks like we're going to be unlucky."

"I've got one I can bring in tomorrow," Kam told him.

"Good. I suppose we can survive one day without playing."

Like Kam, Neil was an enthusiastic footballer: during the football season he played for a club side every Sunday morning, and he found the period between the Cup Final in May and the start of the new season in late August extremely boring.

Kam sat down next to him on the wall, deciding to wait for a few minutes just in case one of the others found a ball somewhere.

"So," said Neil, "did you do anything interesting at the weekend?"

"Not much. Watched telly yesterday. Kicked a ball about with my mates on Saturday. Oh, and laughed at my kid brother – he had to streak round the car park we play in. Twice, in fact."

"How come?"

So Kam explained how Awais had twice lost the headers and volleys game and so been obliged to run the length of the car park and back naked.

"Didn't he try to get out of it?" asked Neil.

"No. He's good like that – if he loses a bet or something, he always keeps his word. Okay, he can be an annoying little git sometimes, but I'd have to admit he's a good sport."

"And would you have done it if you'd lost?"

"I expect so. I wouldn't have lost, though – I'm too classy."

"I don't think I could have done that."

"Why not? We're all mates, and it isn't like there are any girls around, or anything."

"Yeah, but… taking all your clothes off in public? I'd die of shame."

"Why? Is there something wrong with you?"

"No, of course not. I'm just… well, shy about getting undressed. That's why I wear my swimming trunks in the shower – I'd hate to have people looking at me with nothing on."

"I can't really see why, if there's nothing wrong with you. I bet it's 'cos you haven't got any balls, or something."

"Of course it isn't! I just don't want people looking at them, that's all. And I bet you wouldn't really do it if you lost that game, too."

"I reckon I would. I'm not ashamed of what I've got, like you are."

"I'm not ashamed. It's just…well…"

"Yeah, I know, you just don't want anyone to find out that you haven't got any nuts!"

"Sod off!"

"Okay, okay, just kidding. It's a pity, though – it'd be good if you could come and have a kick-about with us sometime. We could do with a couple more players, and you're pretty good. With you and me on the same team we'd never lose."

"Well, I wouldn't mind coming to play," said Neil, who was suffering from his usual mid-June football withdrawal symptoms. "As long as nobody expects me to streak, that is."

"Yes, but that's the problem: we do play that game sometimes, and if you lost you'd have to do it – I'm not having them all have a go at me for bringing a chicken along to play. Of course, you're probably too good to lose, like me, but… no, I'd better not take the risk."

Neil was silent as he tried to weigh up the chance of some out-of-season football against the risk of having to undress in public. Even if it was only a small risk, he didn't think he could chance it.

"Look," said Kam, who could see him wavering, "why don't you practise by getting undressed in front of me, somewhere private? That way you can prove that there's nothing wrong with you, and you can get used to the idea of being undressed, just in case? Like I said, probably you wouldn't have to do it in front of the others, but if you'd done it once in front of me, at least it wouldn't be the first time. And I'd really like you to be able to play with us – it'd be good to have someone my own age there, as well. Most of the others are a year or two younger than me."

Neil thought about that. Surely if the others were mostly younger, there'd be even less chance of him losing? And he liked Kam, too – it'd be fun to play football with him at weekends…

"Suppose I said yes," he said. "Would you swear not to tell anyone? And would you promise not to take the piss out of me?"

"Of course," said Kam, solemnly.

"Well… okay, then."

"Great! So, do you know anywhere private?"

"I don't want to risk doing it in school. I mean, there are probably some places that would be fairly safe, but the way my luck works the caretaker would probably choose that moment to come and check the light bulbs, or something. You could come to my house after school, but I live in Boarmead, and I suppose that's a bit far for you to come."

"I only live a quarter of a mile [400 m] away," said Kam. "You could come round to my house if you want. My brother usually goes to his friend's place after school, and if he is at home I can just chuck him out of the bedroom for five minutes."

So when the school day finished Neil accompanied Kam back to his house. They went straight upstairs and closed the bedroom door. Kam hung his blazer up in the wardrobe and sat down on his bed.

"Go on, then," he invited.

"Look, I'm not sure about this…"

"Well, it'd be a bit pointless to walk all the way round here and then to chicken out," said Kam.

"I suppose… but… look, if you laugh at me, I'll kill you, okay?"

"I won't laugh. Just get on with it."

Slowly Neil began to get undressed. He hesitated when he got to his pants, and seemed on the point of changing his mind again, but then he took a deep breath and removed them. Then he turned to face Kam, a nervous expression on his face.

Neil was a good-looking boy: he was maybe an inch or so taller than Kam, with thick, light brown wavy hair, blue eyes and an attractive smile, though that at least was temporarily absent. His body was pale and a bit on the skinny side, but there was nothing wrong with his genitals, so far as Kam could tell: he had a nice set, his penis still pale in colour, but with a few sparse hairs around the base attesting to the advance of puberty. His balls were a good size, too.

"What were you worried about?" asked Kam. "There's nothing wrong with you at all. You look good."

"You reckon?" asked Neil, meeting his eyes for the first time since removing his clothes.

"Seriously. Nobody would laugh at you if they saw you stripped. They might be jealous, but they certainly wouldn't laugh."

"Jealous? Really? You don't think… well… that it looks weird?"

"Bloody hell, no. It looks nice, Neil. Come here."

Neil came and stood in front of him.

"You're getting some nice hairs, look," said Kam, and he reached out a finger and stroked the little pubes. Neil gave a gasp, but managed not to flinch away.

"And I bet it's pretty big when it goes stiff, too," Kam went on.

"Not really," said Neil. It's only about four and a half [11½ cm]."

"That's not bad. Let's see," said Kam, and he took hold of his friend's balls in his left hand and started to stroke the penis with his right, and immediately Neil's body started to react.

This felt absolutely amazing to Neil, who was struggling with a number of different emotions. To start with, there was still a residue of shame at being naked, even though Kam had assured him that he had nothing to be ashamed about. Against that there was the astonishing physical sensation of being handled in such a personal way by another boy. He knew that he would never have allowed any other boy to even see him undressed, far less actually touch him, but Kam was… different, somehow. Neil really liked him, which he supposed was perfectly okay; but he also thought about him physically, which he was pretty sure was not okay. He thought Kam was amazingly good-looking, and he had sometimes fantasized about undressing him to see what he looked like naked. Since Kam kept his shorts on in the shower after football, Neil had never seen him uncovered.

Swiftly his penis rose to its full four and a half inches [11½ cm], but Kam didn't stop stroking it. Nor did Neil want him to, now: it felt amazing. After another thirty seconds or so Kam stopped stroking and carefully retracted Neil's foreskin, looking with interest at the shiny head revealed beneath it. Then he let go and stared at the twitching, throbbing organ.

"Neil, that looks really good," he said. "There is absolutely no way that you should be ashamed of that: it's big, and it's hard, and it looks brilliant."

"Do you really think so?"

"Sure." Kam got up and came and stood behind him, reaching round and taking hold of his friend's erection once more. Neil leaned back against him, and Kam put his other arm round his waist.

"Are you… that is, do… do you want to rub it for me?" asked Neil.

"Do you want me to?"

"Yes, please," said Neil, all shame having by now fled far away.

"Okay." And Kam began to rub his friend's penis steadily. Neil groaned in pleasure and leaned back again, and he was delighted to feel something hard pressing against his bottom, proving that Kam was enjoying this as much as he was.

It didn't take long: in less than a minute Neil gasped and tensed up, shooting a couple of spurts of almost colourless liquid onto the floor. Kam squeezed the last drop out and let go, and then took a tissue from the packet beside the bed and handed it to Neil, before using a couple more to blot up the small amount of liquid on the carpet.

Now Neil felt strange, only this wasn't a nice strange: now he felt awkward and ashamed of his nakedness. He dried the tip of his penis quickly and grabbed his pants, pulling them on as fast as he could. Only when he was fully dressed once more did he feel a little less uncomfortable.

"We shouldn't have done that," he mumbled.

"Why not? I thought it was fun. And it was your idea for me to do that to you."

"I know, but I shouldn't have asked you. Look, I've got to go…"

"No, you haven't, not yet. Look, it's okay, Neil: I'm glad we did that. I enjoyed it. I think you look really nice undressed, and you've got a nice… you know, too. And I swear I'm not going to tell anyone about it, so nobody's going to laugh at you. You're not mad at me, are you?"

Neil shook his head. By now he felt on the verge of tears, though he couldn't have said why – after all, he had enjoyed it too…but somehow now he felt… well, wrong, somehow.

"Look, I'm really sorry if you didn't really want me to do that," Kam went on. "'I don't want it to mess up us being friends, okay?"

"It's not your fault," said Neil. "I did want you to. I just feel all weird about it now, that's all."

"Well, you shouldn't. I really like you, Neil, okay, and I want us to stay friends. We don't have to do anything like that ever again if you don't want, and I promise I won't even mention it again either if you don't want me to. All right?"

Neil nodded, and managed to smile. "Right," he said. "Look, I really have got to go, Kam, or I'll be late for tea. I'll see you tomorrow – and don't forget to bring your ball to school!"

And he left the house and headed for the bus stop. He was starting to feel a little better about what had happened, but he still wasn't sure if he'd want to do it again…

***

Across town at the Grove school during that same Monday lunch break, Bilal found Tony in the playground and took him to one side.

"Is there something wrong with Jeremy?" he asked.

"What, apart from having an arsehole for a step-father? No, I don't think so. Why?"

"He's been acting funny all day. A couple of times I've caught him looking at me, and when he sees that I've noticed he looks away in a hurry. And I'm sure he went all red the second time. Are you sure I haven't done something to upset him?"

"I don't think so. He hasn't said anything to me, anyway. Why, do you think you've done something wrong?"

Bilal shook his head. "No, but… face it, Tony, it's pretty much my fault that he keeps getting into trouble with Adolf. If I was white…"

"Don't be so bloody stupid," said Tony. "If you were white you wouldn't be you. Anyway, it's certainly not your fault that Jeremy keeps getting put in the spare room, any more than it's Kam's, or Awais's, or Uzzy's – or mine, for having long hair. The only person whose fault it is is Adolf. Okay, maybe if Jeremy could learn to keep his lip buttoned it would help, but it'd be stupid to blame him for sticking up for us. Anyway, if he really thought it was your fault he wouldn't want to be friends any more, would he? And I'm bloody sure he still wants to be friends. Aren't you?"

"Well, yes… but…" He shrugged. "I suppose I'm imagining it, then."

"Of course you are. Look, go and ask him to his face – then you'll find out for certain, won't you?"

Bilal had been holding back from doing that in case he discovered that his fears were based in fact, and that Jeremy really didn't want to be friends any more. But he realised that Tony was right, and that it would be a lot better to talk to Jeremy himself and find out for certain what he thought. So he headed off across the playground, and Tony trailed along after him, until they found Jeremy sitting in a corner by the gym, trying to learn his French vocabulary for that afternoon's test.

"Bilal!" exclaimed Jeremy, and then he coloured and looked quickly down into his book.

"See?" said Bilal over his shoulder, and Tony nodded slowly.

"See what?" asked Jeremy.

"You're treating me all funny," Bilal accused him. "Every time I talk to you you seem to want to look the other way. And I was wondering… have I done something wrong?"

"No! God, no, Bilal, of course you haven't!"

"Oh. Because I thought… well, maybe you're fed up with having to argue with Adolf about being friends with me, that's all."

Jeremy jumped to his feet. "Don't ever think that!" he shouted. "Nothing's going to stop me wanting to be friends with you, and certainly not that idiot I live with. I don't know what I'd do if you weren't here, Bilal… I don't think I could…"

He realised what he was saying and managed to shut up before he could add the give-away words 'live without you'. Instead he swallowed and went on, "I don't want anything to stop us being friends, Bilal, OK? It's having really good friends like you two that keeps me going when Adolf's driving me nuts. I need you, okay?"

"Okay," said Bilal, and Tony nodded. Jeremy looked at them, wondering if either of them had caught any hint of his barely-suppressed real feelings, but Tony simply stepped forward and put his arm round Jeremy's shoulders, and that made it OK for Jeremy to put his other arm round Bilal and pull him into a three-way hug. Two boys hugging each other in an all-boys school would be sure to attract unwelcome comments, but when three go into a huddle people seem to think they're just plotting mischief and let it go without saying anything.

They sat down together against the wall and tested each other on their French vocabulary, and by the time the bell went Bilal seemed completely relaxed once more. But Jeremy realised that he would have to be extremely careful in future if he was going to avoid raising suspicions in his friends' minds. He seriously needed to find someone to give him some advice…

Well, Miguel's found himself a like-minded friend, though Kam's relationship with Neil looks slightly shakier at this point…and Jeremy's no further forward in his search for some helpful advice. In the next chapter we'll get a chance to catch up with Simeon and Usman…

Chapter Three

There's another afternoon of car park football coming up, in which we'll get a chance to catch up with Sim and Uzzy and find out how Sim's unorthodox elocution classes are progressing. But first we need to find out whether Neil and Kam have a future together or not…

Kam was a little nervous about going to school next day: he was afraid of how Neil would treat him. And at first Neil did seem reluctant to approach him, but eventually he plucked up his courage and came up to where Kam was leaning on the wall outside his form room.

"Look, I'm sorry about being such an idiot last night," he said. "I felt a bit strange just after we'd… you know, done it. But by the time I got home I felt fine again. I'd have phoned you then, but I didn't know your number."

"That's okay. So… you're okay about… you know, what happened?"

Neil nodded. "Yes, definitely. I really liked it, Kam. I suppose it was just… well, you know – it was the first time I'd ever done anything like that, and it sort of messed up my head for a bit afterwards. So… are we still friends?"

"Of course we are. I was afraid I'd messed up – I thought maybe I'd hurt you, or something. So does that mean you'll come and play football with us this weekend?"

"Yes, I'd like that – as long as I don't end up having to strip, not on my first time. I'd like to at least get to know everyone a bit before I risk that. And… to be honest, I'd still much rather I never had to at all. I mean, I wouldn't mind if it was just you, but… well, you know."

"I think I can make sure you don't have to this weekend," Kam assured him. "Anyway, like I said before, I reckon you're too good to mess up – as long as you don't end up going in goal, that is… look, give me your number, and I'll call you as soon as I know for sure when we're going to be playing. I'm pretty sure it'll be Sunday afternoon, though – there are usually more people free then."

***

Miguel and Andy had suffered none of Neil's qualms: they greeted each other happily on the Tuesday morning and at the start of break Andy grabbed Miguel and towed him off to a corner of the playground where they could talk without being overheard.

"I hope you didn't get into trouble for getting home late last night," he said.

Miguel shrugged. "No, I was okay. I cannot do that every day, but perhaps one day, or perhaps two days a week will be okay."

"Good. Then you can come round to my house and we can strip again soon. That was brilliant fun… and I started wondering about what the other boys in our class look like. Can you think of a way to make them strip for us?"

Miguel shook his head. "I try to see them when we change for games, but when we play cricket they do not undress. And when we go to the pool they all change in separate…"

"Cubicles," supplied Andy. "Yes, I know. Of course, sometimes there are too many of us to be able to get changed all at once – I wonder if we can get some of them to share, instead of waiting for an empty one? We'll have to have a look next time we go swimming. But I was thinking of finding some other way, and I thought… can you play cards, Miguel?"

"I can play mus."

"What's that?"

"It is a Spanish card game. I have not heard that it is played in England, though."

"Can you play poker?"

Miguel shook his head. "At home we only play Spanish games," he said.

"Then I'll have to teach you. Once you're good enough, we can challenge other boys to play strip poker with us." He saw the question coming and forestalled it. "That's a version of poker where whoever has the lowest hand has to take something off. I think that if we work together we can probably make sure the third person loses all his clothes before either of us does. What do you think?"

"I think that will be fun. Is it hard to learn how to play this game?"

"Not really. I'll bring my cards to school tomorrow so I can start teaching you. So that's two ways we can go. Of course, we could just grab people and pull their shorts down – with two of us it would be easy. But we'd have to be sure we didn't try that on someone with a big brother, or we might get bashed up. I think the cards would be safer. So let's see how many of the boys in our class we can strip between now and the end of term…"

***

On Sunday afternoon the Collection got together in the car park as usual. Today there was a good turn-out: Jeremy had managed to keep his runaway tongue under control for once, and everyone else was there except Kam, though Awais told them he was waiting for a friend to turn up and would be round as soon as the other boy got there.

"We'll get a decent game in today," said Tony. "I still reckon we could do with a couple more players, though – it really needs at least six of us to get a proper game played, and we won't get that many every time unless there are more of us to start with. So we'll all need to be on the lookout for new members. So if you know any black kids, or foreigners, or kids whose dads are trade unionists, even…anything to annoy Adolf…"

"There's a Welsh boy in our class," Uzzy said. "I'm not sure if he counts as 'foreign', though, and he's not much good at football, to be honest…"

"No, hold on," interrupted Jeremy. "Sorry, Tony, but that's the wrong idea altogether. I don't want all my friends to be foreign, or coloured, or anything like that. Okay, I know it's just sort of happened like that, but if we start saying 'we don't want you because you're white and English', we're no better than Adolf. I mean, I was really happy that Sim started coming, and I'd have been just as happy for him to play with us if he hadn't turned out to be Jewish. We're here to have fun and play football, not to form an exclusive club whose main purpose is to annoy my idiot step-father. So if you know anyone who can play football – they don't have to be that good, even…"

"Like you, you mean," put in Bilal, grinning at him. Jeremy ignored him.

"…just get them to come along, whatever they look like or wherever they come from, okay? Right, let's get started."

He pulled a battered pack of cards from his pocket, fanned through them and pulled out three red cards, three black ones and a joker, which he shuffled and dealt out face down on the wall.

"Joker sits the first game out," he said. "Reds one team, blacks the other. You all pick and I'll have whatever's left."

They each took a card. Uzzy got the joker and parked himself on the wall to watch, while Tony, Awais and Miguel lined up against Jeremy, Sim and Bilal.

The game was three or four minutes old, with Tony's team winning one-nil, when Kam arrived, accompanied by Neil. Kam introduced Neil to the Collection and then told him to join Tony's team, while he joined Jeremy's.

The afternoon wore on: each game was played until one team had scored five goals, then the teams were changed and they started again. After a particularly heated argument between Miguel and Awais they decided that the one not playing should be referee instead of spectator, and that seemed to work, though it didn't entirely stop the arguing.

Finally they reached the point where everyone had had a turn as referee, and that seemed to be a good point to stop for a rest for a few minutes. Neil got to tell them a bit more about himself, mainly about the club side he played for in the winter, and one or two of the others wondered aloud if maybe they should try to join a proper club for the following season.

There was a lull in the conversation, at which point Tony said, "What about a game of headers and volleys, then?"

"Only if you're going in goal," said Kam at once.

"Yeah, okay. I know one of you lot will give me a catch sooner or later."

"Right," said Kam. "Then we'll split into two teams, like we did that first time when Sim was in goal: we can't have eight of us playing at the same time, or we'll just get in each other's way."

"However you like," said Tony, cockily. "Er… does Neil know how this works?"

"Yes, I've already warned him."

"Good, then he can play and take his chance with the rest of you. Who wants to go first?"

Jeremy got his cards out again and they cut for it, with the result that the first quartet was to be Miguel, Uzzy, Bilal and Neil. Neil didn't look too happy, but he took his place with the others without arguing. The other four sat on the wall and called out useless advice and gratuitous insults, as seemed appropriate.

Neil needn't have worried: he scored two good goals that Tony got nowhere near, and Miguel added a third, before Uzzy hit the most perfect volley of his life, beautifully timed and hit hard – but straight into Tony's midriff. Tony held it comfortably.

Uzzy sighed and walked over to the wall, peeling off his shirt, while Sim trotted down to the corner of the L to check that the coast was clear.

"Can I keep my glasses on?" asked Uzzy, when he was down to his pants. "Only I don't want to do the run and then get told it doesn't count because I'm still wearing my specs."

"Yes, glasses don't count as clothes," said Jeremy, firmly. "It wouldn't be fair to make you do it if you couldn't see where you were going."

"It's there and back twice, remember," Tony pointed out, grinning at him. "That's how everyone else has done it so far."

Uzzy scowled at him but didn't answer, and once Sim had called that it was clear he pulled his pants off and jogged off towards the far end of the car park.

The others cheered him on, encouraging him to run faster, and he sprinted the last leg at top speed, barely managing to stop before he ran into the fence that formed the end of the car park. Then he bent forward with his hands on his knees for a few seconds to get his breath back.

Kam noted that Neil was staring at Uzzy's groin with undisguised interest, which he thought was a good sign: it looked as if Neil had fully recovered from his doubts of last Monday evening.

"Is that what you look like?" Neil whispered in his ear, confirming his impression.

"Well, there's a bit more of me than that, but otherwise… yes, more or less."

Uzzy straightened up and got dressed once more. "Who's next?" he asked, but there were no volunteers, and Jeremy looked at his watch and said he ought to be going anyway, and that signalled the end of the game.

Sim and Uzzy had left their bikes at Kam's house as usual, and so had Neil, so they all walked back that way together. Sim had been quiet for a while: he was expecting another poetry test when they got back to Kam's house, and he wasn't looking forward to it.

Sim had a bad lisp, and he had until fairly recently not made much of an attempt to get rid of it. But a few weeks ago Uzzy, who was his best friend, had told him that he hated the way people made fun of Sim's voice, and that he was going to do something about it. He had told Sim that he was going to give him some poetry to read aloud, and every time Sim failed to pronounce an 's' correctly he was going to get a pin jabbed into his bum. Uzzy had enlisted Kam's help, and the test had duly been administered, and Sim had not enjoyed it at all, though he had to admit it really helped him to concentrate on what he was saying. Since then he had undergone two more such sessions, and each time he had made fewer mistakes, though the pin didn't seem to get any less sharp with each new jab. Nevertheless, he continued to go along with it, both because he knew he could probably eliminate his speech impediment if he wasn't so lazy about it, and because Uzzy was his closest friend, and for him he would have been prepared to do virtually anything.

They were working their way through the poetry of Lewis Carroll: they had started with Jabberwocky, and this week they were going to be using The Mad Gardener's Song, which Sim had been looking at during the week in an attempt to learn it, complete with all the s's.

"'He thought he sssaw an elephant'," he muttered under his breath. "Come on, I know I can do thith… damn, this!"

But when they reached Kam's house it appeared that a reprieve had arrived: Kam's mother stuck her head out of the kitchen and said, "Usman, your mother just called. She says you have to go straight home – your uncle and aunt from Leicester have arrived, and she wants you there now."

"But they weren't supposed to arrive until this evening… oh, well, I suppose I'd better go. Sorry, Sim, we'll have to put off your reading until next week… unless Kam wants to do it?"

"No, it's more fun if you're there too," Kam told him, and Sim breathed a sigh of relief, which was quickly extinguished when Awais asked, "What are you talking about?"

"We're training Sim to stop lisping," Kam told him. "We make him read poetry, and if he gets it wrong we jab a pin into his bum. But we can't today because Uzzy's got to go home."

"I don't mind doing it," said Awais, eagerly.

"No, you don't have to," said Sim, quickly. "I don't mind thkip… skipping a week."

"You won't get better if you keep 'thkipping' weeks," said Awais, cheekily. "Come on, Kam, let me do it. I expect you want to talk to Neil and stuff."

Kam hadn't thought of that – he'd been expecting to be busy with Sim and Uzzy, but now here was an opportunity to have some more fun with Neil instead. "Okay," he said. "You look after Sim – you can use Safa's room, she's gone out with Dad. Sim, you do what my brother tells you, unless you want me and Neil to have to come in and help him, okay?"

"Okay," agreed Sim, unenthusiastically. He said goodbye to Uzzy, took the poetry book from him and followed Awais upstairs to Awais's little sister's bedroom. Kam, meanwhile, took Neil up to his bedroom, gave Awais a pin and ordered him strictly to stay out of their room until he was told he could come back in. Then he closed the door firmly.

Awais trotted across the landing to his sister's room, closed the door behind him and came to sit next to Sim.

"Do they really stick the pin in you if you make a mistake?" he asked.

Sim nodded.

"Why do you let them do that?"

"Becau… because I want to get better at talking," Sim explained. "Uthy's right, I hate it when the kidth at thchool… I mean, the ki… kidsss at ssschool, laugh at me. It hurtth… hurts, but it'll be worth it if I can talk properly."

"Okay. I mean, you know I enjoyed it when they let me spank you, and I'd like to do this, too – but only if you don't mind."

"I wouldn't put it like that. It hurt… hurts, and I'd prefer it not to happen, but I've agreed, tho I ought to do it."

"Good. So, what do we do, exactly?"

"Well, I take my clotheth off, and then I read the poem, and every time I get it wrong you jab my bum with the pin, okay?"

"What, you have to be bare? Brilliant – I like seeing you like that. Go on, then, get stripped."

So Sim took his clothes off while Awais sat on the bed and giggled at him; and once he was naked Sim lay down on his stomach on the bed and opened the book of poetry. Awais sat down next to him and ran his hand across Sim's bum, trying to decide where to stick the pin.

"Okay?" asked Sim, and Awais nodded happily.

"He thought he… sssaw an elephant that practisssed on a fife," Sim began. "He looked again, and found it wath…ouch!"

"First mistake," announced Awais, unnecessarily.

"I know. …found it wa… was a letter from hi… his wife. 'At length I realithe' – eek!"

"Two," said Awais, blithely. "If you get five wrong I'm going to spank you as well. That's fun, that is."

"'At length I realise'," Sim resumed, glaring over his shoulder, "he said, 'The bitterne… bitternessss of life!" He thought he ssaw a buffalo upon the chimney-piethe… bloody hell, Awaith!"

"Get my name right, or I'll do it again," said Awais, grinning at him.

"Upon the chimney-piece. He looked again, and found it was…" He swallowed, and resumed, slowly and with immense care, "his sister's husband's niece."

"Brilliant, well done!" said Awais.

"'Unless you leave thith… this houth'… oh, bugger!"

"Take it more slowly," advised Awais. "You do it better if you don't rush."

"'Unless you leave this house', he thaid – ow!"

"Oh, dear, that's five," said Awais, happily. "I tell you what, though – get the whole of the next verse right and I'll let you off the spanking."

"'I'll send for the pol… police'," said Sim, blackly. "He thought he – he saw a rattleth… rattlesnake that queth – wait! – questioned him in Greek. He looked again, and found it wa… was the middle of nectht week… okay, okay I know that was wrong – OWWW!!"

"That'll do for today," said Awais, putting the pin down on the bedside table. "Look, Simmy, you can do it if you try. Look at that difficult line full of s's – you got that right. Speak a bit more slowly and think what you're saying and I bet you can do it. You've just got to keep practising. 'Cept now you're getting spanked. Stand up."

Obediently Sim stood up and Awais took hold of him the way Uzzy had taught him, which was to say that he gripped Sim's cock and balls firmly in his left hand, pulled him down over his lap and squeezed. Sim didn't mind this half as much as being jabbed with the pin, even though it was extremely humiliating to be held like this by a boy two and a half years younger than he was. In fact, the humiliation somehow made it more exciting for him: Sim had found that he enjoyed it when Uzzy undressed him and did things to him while he was naked, and having Awais control him like this was just as thrilling, if not even more so.

Almost at once Sim began to get an erection, and Awais laughed and squeezed a bit harder, until what he was holding was as big as it could get.

"Now keep still or I'll twist it right off," he said, and he began to spank the older boy's bum, quite gently at first but getting harder and harder, until Sim was yelping and gasping at each blow. Soon it was really hurting, but he couldn't do anything about it because each attempt to wriggle or to put his hand in the way was rewarded with an agonising wrench to his genitals. So he had to lie there and take it until Awais finally decided he had been punished enough, by which time he felt as if his bum was on fire.

"Stand up," Awais ordered, and Sim got to his feet, holding his sore bottom. His erection, however, was undiminished, and Awais reached out and stroked it gently.

"It's really big, Simmy," he said. "I reckon it's bigger than the last time I saw it all hard. If it goes on getting bigger every time I spank you, it won't fit in your trousers by the end of term! How's your bum?"

"Ssore," said Sim, carefully.

"Good. If it wasn't I'd have to hit it some more. So, do you think you deserve to be allowed to get dressed yet?"

"Up to you," said Sim, shrugging: he actually quite liked being bare and stiff and having Awais looking at him.

"Well… I suppose you have been good and done what I told you. But maybe we'd better wait five minutes, just in case where I stuck the pin in you starts bleeding all over your pants. I'll just keep playing with this big thing for a bit, I think."

In fact the pin had barely drawn blood at all, and the only little drops that had appeared had already dried up, but Awais liked playing with Sim's erection, and as Sim himself didn't seem to mind he thought he might as well keep doing it for a bit. So he stroked the balls and ran his fingers along the length of the stiff penis, fascinated by the way it curved upwards, and Sim stood still, enjoying the feeling of being entirely under the younger boy's control.

Finally Awais told him to get dressed, though only because he was afraid that it might not be long before Kam came to find out what they were doing, and he thought it wouldn't be fair on Sim to be caught in the state he was in. Reluctantly Sim pulled his clothes back on.

"Next time we'll do that when my brother's out, or we'll find somewhere else to do it," promised Awais. "Then I won't have to let you get dressed for hours if I don't want. Come on, let's go and see what he's doing."

But when they crossed the landing and knocked on the bedroom door Kam told them to go away, so instead they went downstairs, took the football out into the garden and practised taking penalties for a while, until eventually Sim said that he ought to be getting home. Awais walked down the path with him.

"Simmy… I suppose I was a bit cruel to you upstairs," said Awais. "You're not mad at me, are you?"

"Of courthe not. If I get it wrong, you're allowed to do thtuff to me."

"Good. 'Cos… I like you, Simmy. You're fun." And he turned and went back indoors, while Sim got onto his bike and headed for home.

***

As soon as he had packed his brother off to listen to Sim's poetry-reading Kam closed his bedroom door, wedged a chair under the handle to prevent anyone from bursting in on them, and then turned to Neil and smiled.

"So – what are we going to do now?" he asked.

"Well, perhaps I should practise getting undressed again, just in case I have to do it out there in the car park," suggested Neil.

"Okay. Off you go, then." And Kam sat down on his bed to watch.

This time Neil had no qualms at all, and this was obvious from his condition when he had removed his pants, which was stiff and twitching. Kam grinned and reached for it, and this time Neil moved towards him to make it easier for him. He allowed Kam to play with it for a minute or so, and then asked, "What about you? Don't you think you ought to get in a bit of practice at getting undressed too, just in case?"

"Oh, I'm not going to lose out there, so I don't need to," replied Kam, grinning.

"Maybe not, but I still think it would be a good idea to practise. Please?"

"Well, if you put it like that…" Kam stood up and started to undress, and Neil's face lit up. He watched eagerly as Kam removed his clothes, but when he had reached his underpants Kam stopped.

"I've changed my mind," he said.

"No, you haven't," replied Neil, shoving him onto the bed and jumping on him. Kam wriggled a bit but didn't make any serious attempt to stop Neil grabbing his underpants and pulling them off.

"Wow!" exclaimed Neil, looking at what he had just revealed. "You weren't kidding about there being more of you… that's amazing, Kam! Can I… can I touch you, please?"

"Go ahead."

Neil wriggled across so that they were lying side by side on the bed and then tentatively reached out and ran his fingers across Kam's abundant pubic hair.

"Gosh, that feels really soft," said Neil. "And there's so much of it – are you really only thirteen, Kam? You look much older…"

"When's your birthday?"

"March 27th.

"Then I'm about two months older than you – my birthday's January 24th."

Neil laughed. "Does that mean I'll have that much hair in two months time?" he asked.

"Probably not, unless you cut some off your head and glue it on round your cock. I reckon it'll take a bit longer for yours to grow that much properly – mine started growing when I was about eleven and a half."

"And you're quite a bit bigger than me, too. How long is it?"

"I don't know, I haven't measured it. About five and a half inches [14 cm], I suppose. There's a ruler on my desk if you want to make sure."

Neil couldn't resist that invitation and went and fetched it. "Five point seven [14.5 cm]," he reported. "That's really big for thirteen, Kam. I bet the girls are impressed. Have you ever… you know, done it with a girl?"

"No, I've never even been out with one. You don't get much chance to meet girls when you're at an all-boys school like ours. Of course, the GFs are only just down the road, but we don't really get a chance to talk to them – and, anyway, I don't think I'm ready for going out with girls yet. What about you? You're really good-looking – I reckon you'd have no trouble getting a girlfriend."

"You think so? I reckon you are, too."

"Maybe we should go and hang around outside Gordon's and see which one of us they come after first, then."

"No, thanks. I don't want a girlfriend yet, either – and I reckon if I did it wouldn't be the Gordon Foundation I'd be hanging around outside. I think I'd prefer the grammar school. GF girls are supposed to be rough."

"Who told you that?"

Neil shrugged. "It's what they say, that's all. I don't know if it's true or not, and I don't really care, either, because I'm sure I won't be going out with any girls in the near future. I can't be bothered with it – and I'm sure having a girlfriend would get in the way of playing football."

"That's probably true. Anyway, you don't need a girlfriend at the moment, because you've got me, and I reckon I can make you feel as good as a girl could, any day. Like this, for example." And Kam took hold of Neil's erection and began to caress it, very slowly.

Neil rolled a little closer and took hold of Kam in the same way. "Can I make it happen to you this time?" he asked.

"Yes, but not yet: we've got plenty of time. I'm sure Awais will be busy with Sim for a while yet. Let's just do it really slowly and see how long we can make it last."

So they fondled each other, stroking each other's bodies all over and generally exploring each other, until eventually Neil pushed Kam onto his back, took hold of his erection and started to rub it properly. Again, it didn't take long: both boys were by now very excited, and Kam could feel his orgasm rushing towards him like an express train. He held it back for as long as he could, but that really wasn't very long.

Neil was amazed by the amount and consistency of what came shooting out of Kam's penis, splattering across his chest and stomach: he just stared at it, lost for words.

Kam managed to reach the box of tissues on his bedside table and started to wipe himself down. "What's the matter?" he asked, seeing the look on Neil's face.

"Nothing – it's just… there's so much of it."

"Oh, you'll get that much before too long – say about another ten years!" teased Kam.

Neil hit him, but not hard. "I bet it doesn't take that long," he said. "I didn't have any at all a couple of months ago. I expect I'll catch up with you soon."

"Well, let's see how you're doing," said Kam, rolling Neil onto his back and taking hold.

There was a knock at the door, and Neil jumped so hard he nearly fell off the bed.

"Go away!" called Kam, adding in a whisper, "Don't worry, that chair will keep them out. Anyway, Awais is okay about keeping out of the way when I'm doing something."

Sure enough, a minute or so later they heard his brother's voice from out in the garden, so Kam restored Neil's erection – the near-interruption had scared him into losing it – and set to work. Again, it didn't take very long, but this time the result was merely a spurt and a dribble of something that was almost colourless. Kam wiped it off Neil's stomach with a tissue and handed him another one to dry himself off with.

"Okay?" he asked.

Neil nodded. In truth he still felt a little strange, but this time it seemed much less of a problem. He smiled up at Kam and said, "Yes, that was brilliant. And I'm sorry about getting all weird on you last time. I won't do that again."

"Good," said Kam, getting up and pulling on his underwear. "I like you much better when you're not being weird. Come on, get dressed, and then we'd better go and see what my brother's up to."

***

Jeremy walked home from the car park feeling happier than he had for quite a while: it was amazing how just kicking a ball about with his friends allowed everything else to slip into the background. Okay, his problems were still there, but not having to think about them for a while was brilliant.

One of his problems was still with him, though: Bilal lived only a few doors away from him, and so they were walking home together. Jeremy was determined not to ruin the friendship, so he put aside all of his less wholesome thoughts about his friend and just chatted to him about the afternoon, replaying his better goals and fending off Bilal's reminders about his less positive contributions to the play.

"I'm glad it was Uzzy lost the headers and volleys and not me," said Bilal, bringing Jeremy back to the root of his difficulty at a stroke. "I'd do it if I lost, of course, but I bet everyone would laugh at me."

"Why? There's nothing wrong with you, is there?"

"No, but… look, I wouldn't admit this to anyone else… it's just… well, I don't really want anyone looking at me at the moment. It's because… well, I've started getting hair, and I bet they'd all take the piss if they saw."

"I bet they wouldn't – I reckon they'd all be jealous. Well, all except Kam, anyway – he's practically an adult already, and I bet he's got loads of hair."

"Do you think so? Only, I feel sort of funny about it, that's all."

"You shouldn't. You should feel proud that you're growing up and getting more mature. I'd be more ashamed if you looked like me: mine hasn't grown at all. I still look about six years old when I'm undressed."

"I bet you don't. I bet you look the same as the rest of us – well, okay, yours is white and you've still got a foreskin, but you know what I mean. Anyway, they said you had to streak that week I was still on the way back from Pakistan. Did they laugh at you then?"

"Well, no…"

"Well, then. Anyway, we're your friends, so we're not going to laugh at you whatever happens."

"We're not going to laugh at you, either. We didn't laugh at Awais or Uzzy when they had to streak, did we?"

"I suppose not. Okay, I suppose it would be okay if I had to do it – but I'd still sooner I didn't have to."

This, of course, would have been the cue for Kam, had he been in Jeremy's shoes, to suggest that Bilal should practise getting undressed with an audience of one, just to get used to the idea; but Jeremy didn't have Kam's gall, and so he stayed silent, though the thought of Bilal undressing in front of him had the usual undesired effect, and he was obliged to stick his hand in the pocket of his jeans to try to conceal what would otherwise have been a very unfortunate bulge. Fortunately for him Bilal didn't notice.

They reached Bilal's house and said goodbye, and Jeremy finished the journey by himself, and by the time he reached his garden gate his body had stopped misbehaving. But it did serve to remind of how urgently he needed to find a solution to his problem…

So now we know that the Kam and Neil relationship looks pretty solid, and that Sim still enjoys being on the receiving end of relationships – but Jeremy is no further on with sorting his life out than he was at the end of the first chapter. Maybe we'll need to spend a bit more time with him in Chapter Four…

Chapter Four

In this chapter Jeremy has some news for his friends, and later we'll catch up with another of the boys who is pining for the departed travellers. But first let's rejoin Sim and Uzzy in their private hideaway…

Sim and Uzzy had first started spending the odd break or lunchtime together in the old cricket pavilion during the spring term, and they'd found it so useful to have a private place of their own that they still spent quite a bit of their free time in the small changing-room at the top of the building. Now and again they'd see some of their other friends there – Colin and Graham used the pavilion sometimes, and occasionally so did Matt and Owen – but most of the time they had the place to themselves, as they did on this Monday lunchtime.

"So," Uzzy asked him, as they closed the door to their little room, "how did you get on with Awais yesterday?"

"Not too well. I didn't even get to the end of the third ver… verse."

"Oh, come on, Sim, you know you can do better than that! Was it just that you were worried about it being Awais instead of me and Kam?"

"I don't know. Maybe – but maybe I ju… just didn't conthentrate properly. I know I can do better, Uzzy. I'm th… sorry."

Sim had decided that he wasn't going to be lazy any longer, and it wasn't the pain caused by the pin that motivated him most but the look of disappointment on Uzzy's face. They had a strange relationship: Sim was a few months older, and taller, and yet he loved being bossed around by his smaller, younger friend, to whom he was absolutely devoted. For his part Uzzy thoroughly enjoyed being able to do pretty much anything he wanted to Sim, but only because he knew that Sim enjoyed the things they did as much as he did.

"I'm going to do th… this, Uzzy: by the end of term I'm not going to get it wrong any more. I want you and Kam – and Awaith… Awais, even, to be proud of me, not ashamed."

"I'm not ashamed of you, stupid. I just hate it when people make fun of you. Actually I bet Awais hopes you never stop lisping – I bet he really enjoyed sticking the pin in you, didn't he?"

Sim nodded. "And he… he spanked me, too. Hard."

"And did he squeeze your balls off, the way I taught him to?"

Sim nodded, and Uzzy laughed. "Get undressed, then, and let's see if it's left any marks on your bum."

Sim threw his clothes off and bent over so that Uzzy could see his bottom.

"I can just about see where he stuck the pin in, but obviously he didn't spank you hard enough, because I can't see any bruises. I'd better tell him to whip you properly next time, using – oh, a piece of barbed wire, or something. I bet that would leave some marks."

Sim was unworried by this, because he knew it would never happen: Uzzy enjoyed spanking him, but he knew he'd never really try to hurt him badly.

"Perhaps I should give you a spanking, just to make up for it," Uzzy went on, and he took hold of Sim's balls and already fully erect penis and pulled him across his lap, administering a spanking that didn't really hurt at all, at least not when compared to Awais's efforts the previous afternoon. Sim wriggled about, enjoying as he always did his feeling of being entirely at his friend's mercy.

"Stand up," ordered Uzzy, once he had finished, and Sim got to his feet. Uzzy moved close to him, putting his left arm around Sim's waist while keeping hold of his erection with his right hand, and Sim put his arms around his friend's shoulders and hugged him.

"We're going to have to start thinking about what we're going to do in the summer holidays," said Uzzy, idly stroking his friend's erection. "Are you going away with your family?"

"I'm not th… ssure yet. I think we will be, though."

"Me, too. Let's hope we'll both be away at the same time, then we'll have the rest of the summer to play together."

"I hope sso, too," said Sim, hugging him. "What'll we do together?"

"Don't know, but I bet we can think of loads of stuff. We can go out for long rides on our bikes, to start with – my mum doesn't like me going off a long way on my own, but if I've got a friend with me she'll let me. So we can find a good spot miles from anywhere, and then I can do loads of naughty stuff to you."

"That'll be brilliant."

"And I expect the others will be around, too, so we'll probably be able to play football quite a lot. And maybe I'll let Awais come out with us so I can watch him strip you off and spank your bum."

"I don't know about that. It'th… it's different when we're on our own, but I don't think I want him to be allowed to do things to me with you looking."

"Tough, because if I say he can, he can. I'd just like to watch you wriggling while he makes you squeak, that's all. Of course, most of the time it would just be you and me…"

"That's how I like it moth… most."

"Hey, Sim, you're trying really hard today," said Uzzy, stepping back and looking up at him. "Normally you only really think about it when you're reading poetry."

"Not any more. From now on I'm going to think about it all the time. Like I ssaid, I want you to be proud of me, Uzzy."

"I'm already proud of you," said Uzzy, hugging him. "Come on, get dressed – if you can get your shorts back on, that is - and we'll go and see what the others are doing."

***

That Thursday evening Jeremy had another row with Adolf. He'd tried really hard to bite his tongue, but Adolf had just come back from a NF meeting and kept going on about how much better the country would be if they sent all the immigrants "back to Bongo-Bongo Land", and at that Jeremy's tongue escaped and put him in the spare room for the night. It got him confined to the house for Saturday, too, but at least it left them with enough time to rearrange the weekend football for Sunday instead.

"I've had enough of it," Jeremy told the assembled Collection on the Sunday afternoon. "I've decided to run away."

"But… where will you go?" asked Bilal.

"I don't know. I haven't got enough money to buy a plane ticket, or I'd head out to California: I'm sure my dad would take me in. But I can't afford that, so I'll have to think of somewhere else to go. Anyone got any ideas?"

"London?" suggested Awais, tentatively. "Maybe you could find a job there, or something."

"Don't be stupid, he's only eleven," replied Bilal. "He probably couldn't even get a job as a paper-boy – and where's he going to live? Come on, Jeremy, be sensible – you'd end up sleeping in the street, and then anything could happen to you. Please don't go to London."

"I wasn't really thinking of trying that," said Jeremy. "I know that wouldn't work. I was thinking more about disappearing for a week or two, just to show Adolf how much I hate living with him: maybe he'd take some notice of what I think if he had the police round trying to find out where I'd gone. The problem is, I'd need somewhere to go."

"You could come and stay with me," said Tony. "My parents wouldn't mind."

"Thanks, but I don't think I can stay with any of you – your parents would be sure to want to speak to mine about it, and then Adolf would know where I was. No, I need to disappear completely for a bit, somewhere where there aren't any grown-ups to call my mum and Adolf. Has anyone got a tent I could borrow?"

They all looked at each other, shaking their heads.

"Well, can you all please think about it and try to come up with some ideas? I'm really, really fed up with it, and I want to get away as soon as I can make some arrangements.

"Okay, now let's play some football. We've got odd numbers again – who wants to start as ref?"

The afternoon went by happily, and Jeremy managed to forget his home situation for a couple of hours. But it started to rain at around four o'clock, and of course nobody was prepared to risk streaking in the rain, so the header and volley session was postponed. They played on in the rain for a few minutes but then decided to abandon the game before they got seriously drenched.

Neil, Sim and Uzzy went back to Kam's house, but instead of Sim reading poetry or Kam and Neil renewing their physical relationship they all sat on the beds in the boys' room and talked about Jeremy's situation. They gave Neil a brief explanation – he didn't know anything about Jeremy's home life – and then tried to think of ways to help.

"Do you think Jeremy could try hiding in our pavilion?" Sim suggested.

"It'd be too risky," said Uzzy. "Just because we don't see much of the caretaker, it doesn't mean he's never there. He's bound to go in now and again, and if Jeremy is living there he'd be sure to get caught. And there are still cricket matches every week, too. It's a pity the travellers have moved on, because he might have been able to stay with them for a bit. They'd never grass him up to Adolf – the NF hates travellers. Do you know how far away they went, Sim?"

"No, but I reckon Owen might know. Or Timmy – they were friendth… friends with the travellers. We'll have to a… ask on Monday."

"Friends with travellers?" asked Neil. "How did that happen?"

"I'm not sure, really," said Uzzy. "I just know that Timmy got his traveller friends to help us out last term. He never explained how he knew them in the first place."

"I can't imagine things being so bad at home that you'd have to run away," said Neil. "I can't imagine my parents ever being that nasty to me."

"Adolf's only his step-dad," Kam pointed out. "I suppose it's different when it's not your real parents."

"Yeah, but it's still his real mum, isn't it?" said Uzzy. "I wonder why she doesn't do something about it."

"Perhaps she doesn't know how upset Jeremy is," suggested Kam. "Maybe he's hoping that if he runs away she might realise."

They sat in silence for a while thinking about it. Then Sim looked out of the window.

"The rain looks like it'th… it's stopping," he said. "I'm going to go home. I hope you don't mind, but I don't really feel like doing the poetry thi… this week."

"No, that's okay," said Uzzy. "I know you've been trying really hard this week, anyway. You can read to us next week instead. And I think I'll go home, too."

Awais looked disappointed, but he didn't say anything, so Sim and Uzzy got up and left. Kam looked at Awais, and the younger boy got the message and said he'd go and watch television for a bit.

Once he had gone Kam and Neil got undressed and, on Kam's suggestion, got into bed together, where they just lay with their arms round each other.

"Do you think you could ever run away from home?" asked Neil.

Kam shook his head. "I wouldn't know where to go or what to do – but I'd never have to: I get on really well with my parents."

"Me, too. I'd never even thought about it until now. Look, Kam, I don't really know Jeremy at all, but it's obvious you lot all really like him, so if I can help somehow, I will."

"Thanks, though I'm not sure what any of us can do at the moment. Maybe we should all start trying to save our pocket money for a bit: if he does end up living away from home he'll need to be able to buy food and stuff."

"Okay. I don't get a lot, but I'll try not to spend any for a couple of weeks."

They lay quietly for a while: Kam was too worried about Jeremy to think about sex, and Neil respected his mood and just lay with his arm round Kam's shoulders. After about fifteen minutes he rolled out of bed and started to get dressed.

"I ought to go, Kam," he said. "I'll see you at school."

"Okay. Sorry, Neil, I'm just not really in the mood for… you know, today."

"That's okay. We don't have to do that every time, anyway: I like just being with you even when we don't do anything. I reckon that's what being friends is supposed to be about."

Kam rolled out of bed and hugged him. "That's true," he said. "It's nice just having someone you can relax and think about stuff with. But… next time we'll do the other stuff, too, 'cos that's good fun."

He quickly got dressed and escorted Neil downstairs, and then he went and joined his brother in front of the television, though he spent more of the next hour trying to think of ways to help Jeremy than watching the programmes…

***

Owen Gwyn-Thomas had a problem.

Owen was in the same form as Sim and Uzzy, and the previous term he had been through the same experience as they had, first being bullied and then getting a chance to get his own back on the bully, thanks to the senior boy Timmy Collier and a couple of traveller boys he had met. In the course of the business Owen had discovered that he liked oral sex – not, as was the case with his friends, being on the receiving end, but actually doing the sucking. First he'd done it for his closest friend, Matt Williams, and indeed he still did it for him now and again. But Matt was seriously overweight and had a very small organ, and this made it difficult for Owen to be able to do a good job (though in fact Matt had never complained about his performance). Wanting to try something larger, Owen had first approached Timmy, who was a couple of years older than he was, only to discover that Timmy was even less well-endowed than Matt.

But Timmy had made an arrangement with one of his traveller friends, a boy called Danny Kelly, who was almost exactly the same age as Owen but considerably better equipped than either Matt or Timmy, and for a while Owen had gladly sucked Danny off on a regular basis. Danny made it into a sort of game, whereby he bossed Owen around and pretended he was a slave, threatening to beat him if he misbehaved, and indeed he had spanked Owen a few times. Owen hadn't minded that too much: it just made the game a little more exciting.

But then the travellers had moved on, leaving Owen with nothing to suck except Matt's minuscule organ. He wanted to find a replacement for Danny, and so after a while he had started to take what he thought were discreet soundings among the other boys in his form. But of course they were nothing like discreet enough, and quickly the word went around, with the result that he was now the butt of quite a lot of name-calling.

There had been a fair bit of that before, of course: Owen was short and dark and had a Welsh accent you could dig a coal mine with, and he also suffered from a nasty squint that meant that he had to wear a patch over one eye for much of the time. He'd learned to handle that, but when the 'homo' taunts started it was a lot more difficult to deal with.

In one way he was lucky: he had friends. The episode with the bully had drawn all six of his victims together, and in the process they had become friends. They were all small or nerdy or, in Matt's case, badly overweight, but because they stuck together people were reluctant to touch them. And they had friends higher up the school, too: Timmy was physically no stronger than they were, but they could also call on the friendship of Stephen Wood, a tall and athletic boy in his final year. And the erstwhile bully, Graham Truscott, had somehow ended up as a good friend to the nerdy crew's leader, Colin Carlington, which meant that they had another senior boy ready to pitch in for them if necessary.

But verbal abuse was hard to deal with, especially when it was mostly whispered and muttered and hard to tie down to any particular source, and Owen just had to put up with it and try to ignore it as best he could. He thought that if it had been the football season he'd have heard a lot more about it: he could imagine the class jokers pretending to be scared of getting undressed anywhere near him, and making a big production of keeping their shorts on in the shower. But it was the cricket season, and – exactly like in Miguel's school – hardly anyone got fully undressed or took a shower after cricket.

As is usual in this sort of situation, the other boys in the form divided into three groups: the small number of loud extroverts who did most of the teasing and name-calling; a larger number who just gave him the odd funny look or laughed at the first group's comments but who didn't actually say anything themselves; and the small group of Owen's friends who ignored it completely and tried to encourage him to do the same.

Owen usually tried to spend the breaks with some of his friends, as this tended to put the name-callers off, especially if Graham Truscott was in the vicinity, which he often was: he and Colin spent a lot of their time together. But this particular break none of the others was about: Sim and Uzzy had disappeared again, Colin and Graham were also nowhere to be seen, and Matt and Luke were helping their teacher clear out the book cupboard. Owen had slipped off to a quiet corner of the playing field, hoping to remain inconspicuous, and so he was disappointed to see one of his class-mates approaching.

Paul McAllen was the form captain, popular with the other boys because, although he was brainy – he regularly finished top of the class, or second to Colin – he was also very good at sport. He was also very good-looking, with dark blond hair and pale blue eyes, perfect teeth and lips that were a little redder than usual – though maybe they just looked that way because his skin was so pale. So far he hadn't contributed to the Owen-baiting, and Owen felt unhappy that this was apparently about to change: if McAllen joined in the Mickey-taking, so would a lot of other boys.

But when McAllen spoke, it was not in his usual confident voice. In little more than a whisper, he said, "Gwyn-Thomas… is it true, what they're saying about you?"

"I don't know," said Owen. "What are they saying about me?"

"You know – that you… well… that you…" His voice dropped even lower. "That you like to… to suck on boys'… on their cocks."

"You wouldn't believe me if I said no, so why bother asking?"

"Well…" McAllen looked around nervously. "See, the thing is… if it's true…"

"Yes?"

"Well… I was wondering… would you do it for me? Only I've heard about it, and I'd really like to know what it feels like," he hurried on, now that he'd finally got to the point. "I mean, you don't have to or anything, but I wouldn't tell anyone if you did, and…"

"You're just trying to get me to admit it so you can go and tell the rest of the class that it's true, aren't you?"

"No, I'm not, I promise. I won't tell anyone, whatever you tell me. I'd just… well, you know… like to know what it's…"

He tailed off, and this was so unlike the usual confident and outgoing form captain that Owen had to believe him.

"Suppose it was true," he said. "And suppose I said yes. What should we do about it?"

McAllen's face lit up, and that was all the confirmation Owen needed to be sure that he meant what he said.

"That'd be brilliant, Gwyn-Thomas! Thanks! I never thought you'd… Wow! Great!"

"I haven't done it yet," Owen pointed out. "You might not like it."

"I think I will. See, my brother told me his girl-friend did it for him, and he said it was the best feeling ever – and… well, obviously I haven't got a girl-friend yet, but I heard that you might… and I thought, it probably feels about the same whoever's doing it… so I thought I'd ask… great, Gwyn-Thomas, thanks… So, can you come home with me after school?"

"Not tonight. I have to go straight home, unless I've arranged in advance with my mum to be late for some reason. But I can ask if I can come to see you tomorrow."

"No, my brother will be home tomorrow evening, and I don't want him to know about it, because he'd tease me to death for doing it with a boy instead of a girl. Oh, damn… could I come to your house, then?"

"I expect so. But my sister sometimes comes into my room without knocking, so I don't think we ought to risk it."

"Oh, hell! What about the weekend, then? My brother usually goes out on Saturdays."

"Yes, I don't think I'm doing anything on Saturday. But… we don't have to wait until then – we might be able to do it at lunchtime if you want."

"What? Where? I'm not risking it in the toilets – that would be really dangerous."

"No, I know somewhere much better. I just need to make sure there isn't going to be anyone else there."

"You're not going to tell anyone about me, are you?"

"No, of course not – though I don't think any of my friends would make fun of you even if I did. But I won't mention you at all if you don't want. Anyway, I'll tell you if we can at the end of break."

"Okay – thanks, Gwyn-Thomas…"

"Call me Owen – it's a lot shorter."

"Right. Thanks, Owen." And McAllen walked away.

At the end of break Owen found Uzzy and asked if he and Sim were intending using the pavilion at lunch time.

"Not today, no," Uzzy told him. "Why?"

"Oh, I just need to talk to someone somewhere quiet, that's all."

"Who?"

"It doesn't matter. Just someone."

Owen subsequently checked with Colin and found that he didn't intend using the pavilion at lunchtime, either, and so as soon as they had finished eating he collected McAllen and led him off towards the pavilion. But Uzzy had been intrigued to find out who Owen was meeting, and so he and Sim ran and hid in the rhododendron bushes the moment they got out of the dining hall. They saw Owen and McAllen coming to collect the key from its hiding-place in the bush next to theirs and stared at each other.

"Surely they're not going to… well, do anything they shouldn't?" said Uzzy, trying not to laugh. "I mean, McAllen?"

"Well, Owen did th… ssay he wanted to talk to s… someone," Sim pointed out. "Maybe he really only meant 'talk'."

"Yes, but in that case why not just find an empty classroom? Do you think we should sneak in and find out?"

Sim shook his head firmly. "Owen'th our friend," he said. "Thuppo… pose it was you and me – we wouldn't want anyone thpy… spying on us, would we?"

"No, you're right," agreed Uzzy, looking at the now closed door to the pavilion. "And we haven't got a knife, anyway, so we probably couldn't get inside. Still, I hope he tells us if…" and he dissolved into giggles, thinking about the staid, well-behaved, athletic and obviously 'normal' McAllen doing naughty things with Owen.

Inside the pavilion, in one of the small rooms at the top of the building, McAllen was looking at Owen nervously.

"So – what do we… I mean, how do we… you know, do it?" he asked.

"That depends. If you just want me to do it for you, you could just pull your shorts and pants down. But if you want to do it like the game I used to play with my traveller friend, you should boss me about and make me do what you want, like I was your slave."

"That sounds like it could be fun. What exactly do I have to do, then?"

"Whatever you want, really. Danny used to strip me naked and tease me, and if he thought I was being stroppy he'd spank me a bit, and then he'd undress himself and order me to suck on it for him. And if I didn't do it properly he'd punish me."

"Flipping heck – didn't you mind?"

Owen shrugged. "It was sort of fun, to be honest. He never really hurt me – well, not much, anyway. I think he wanted to do other stuff to me, too, but he moved away before he got a chance. Actually, it was quite exciting: he was sort of wild, and a bit unpredictable, and sometimes it was a little scary – but a good sort of scary, somehow. It's hard to explain, but I enjoyed playing that game with him."

"It's a pity he's left," said McAllen. "I'd have liked to talk to him."

"Oh, they haven't gone that far – they're at a place just north of Poundford. I was thinking of going to see him some time, just to see how he's getting on. Maybe you could come with me."

"Yes, please – if I'm going to play this game; I ought to try to do it properly. So… I suppose you'd better get undressed, then."

So Owen got undressed, barely hesitating when he got down to his pants, and when he pulled them off he had an erection, as he usually had when playing with Danny. Danny used to use this as an excuse to punish him, saying that only dirty boys got stiff in front of their masters, but of course McAllen didn't know that – yet – and Owen saw no reason to tell him. Instead he stood up and let McAllen look at him.

"You look funny with it all hard," said McAllen, trying to suppress a fit of the giggles.

"What do you think of it?" asked Owen.

"Well, it's not very big. I mean, it's longer than some, but it's really thin. And your balls are pretty tiny, too. I bet you feel embarrassed, having me looking at you all bare."

"Sort of. I got used to it with Danny, and he used to make fun of it, too, so it's not like this is the first time."

"Well, obviously if I'm going to play Danny's game I ought to do the same things, so I'm going to have to make fun of you, too. Not that it's difficult to make fun of something like that – it looks like a twig. Maybe I should call you Twiggy from now on."

"I bet yours isn't any better."

"Yeah? How much do you bet?"

Owen hesitated – he wasn't exactly awash with cash.

"See?" jeered McAllen, when Owen didn't answer. "You know when you're outclassed. Okay, I'll show you." And he undid his shorts and pushed them and his pants down to his knees, and when he straightened up and lifted his shirt out of the way Owen could see that he had an erection, too.

It was both longer and thicker than Owen's, and McAllen had bigger balls, too. And the penis was different from his because there was no skin over the end: the tip was uncovered, and there was a scar a little below the knob that showed where the skin had been removed. Owen had seen one like it before: Timmy Collier didn't have any skin on the end of his, either, but Timmy's was about a quarter the size of this one.

"Gosh, McAllen, yours is big," said Owen, staring at it. "It's bigger than Danny's, too. Can I measure it?"

"Okay," said McAllen at once, so Owen went to his blazer and retrieved his ruler, holding it against McAllen's organ.

"Four point three inches [10.9 cm]," he reported. "Wow, McAllen, that's big!"

"Now let's see how big yours is," demanded McAllen.

Owen measured himself. "About three and a quarter [8¼ cm]," he said.

"So that makes me an inch longer, and about twice as thick. OK, then – show me how you… you know."

McAllen hadn't quite got into the role of master yet, and he seemed nervous, now that the moment of truth had arrived. Owen told him to sit on the bench and spread his legs, and (once he had removed his shorts and pants completely) McAllen complied. Then Owen knelt on the floor in front of him, opened his mouth and slid it in.

McAllen gave a gasp of surprise as the warm mouth closed around him, and then another one when Owen started to lick it the way he had been taught by Danny. And when Owen started to rock back and forwards, still licking and squeezing, he made an even louder noise.

Owen ignored him and got on with his job. This was definitely a bit bigger than Danny's, and the lack of skin meant it felt different, too. Owen quickly decided that he liked it: he explored the whole length with his tongue, running it over the uneven surface of the circumcision scar and trying to lick round the base of the knob, and everything he tried made McAllen gasp and groan.

After a bit, and realising that the lunch break wouldn't go on for ever, Owen set to work properly, sliding it steadily into and out of his mouth, and soon he became aware that McAllen was getting excited. At this point Danny used to swear a lot, but McAllen came from a rather different environment, and so he just gasped and groaned and begged Owen not to stop without once resorting to rude words. At the end he arched his body right off the bench, crying 'yes!' at the vital moment and holding Owen's head in case he tried to pull back. Of course, Owen had been properly trained and knew to stay in position until he was told to stop, but this time something was a little different: there was a strange taste in his mouth. It wasn't particularly unpleasant, but it had never happened when he had done it with Danny, or with Matt. He wondered if it was something to do with the lack of skin: could it be some sort of sweat, he wondered…but then he decided that it probably wasn't important. He never considered for an instant that it would do him any harm, so he swallowed it down and waited for McAllen to tell him to let it out of his mouth.

"Okay, you can stop now," said McAllen eventually, letting go of Owen's head. "That was bloody amazing, Gwy… Owen. My brother was right… okay, you'd better get dressed, I suppose."

He stood up and put his pants and shorts back on and then watched while Owen put his own clothes on. When he had finished McAllen looked at him and grinned.

"Now you've done that for me, I suppose I must be your new master," he said. "Does that mean you have to do whatever I tell you?"

"Well, yes – as long as we are on our own," said Owen, having a nasty vision of McAllen ordering him to suck him in the middle of their form room.

"So if I ordered you to strip again, you'd have to?"

"Yes, I suppose so."

"Okay, then strip. Completely naked. Now."

Owen glanced at his watch, but they still had plenty of time, so without any protest he took all his clothes off once more. This time he didn't have an erection, at least not at first; but when McAllen pointed at it and started teasing him about how tiny it was it began to stick up once more, and that made McAllen laugh even more.

"You look so funny like that," he said. "I'm definitely going to call you 'Twiggy' from now on. Okay, you'd better get dressed."

Owen got dressed again, and moved towards the door. McAllen paused and mused, "I could make you strip again if I wanted… I could make you keep doing it all through every break, too. You'd get really fed up with it, and you'd look so funny… no, that would be cruel. Come on, let's go – Twiggy."

They went downstairs and Owen locked up and hid the key in the bush as usual.

"Of course, I could walk into our form room and shout, 'Hey, everyone, guess what: Gwyn-Thomas just sucked my cock!'" McAllen suggested.

"I don't think you'd do that," said Owen, a little nervously.

"Wait and see."

McAllen marched straight back to their form room with Owen trailing along behind. Most of the boys in their form were there, getting their books ready for the first lesson of the afternoon, but they stopped what they were doing when McAllen strode to the front of the room and announced, "Hey, everyone, guess what? It's about Gwyn-Thomas…"

Owen felt sick: he knew he'd never, ever hear the last of this…

"I've been talking to him, and… well, I reckon we should lay off him," McAllen went on. "Obviously he's not really a homo – he'd just heard about… well, stuff, and wanted to find someone who knows about sex and stuff. The same way I suppose most of you do, because I don't think many of you know the first thing about it."

"Speak for yourself!" called out Jones, one of the louder boys in the form.

"You might know about it, but you've got nothing to do anything with," retorted McAllen. "I've seen you in the shower, remember."

Laughter broke out.

"Bet it's 'cos you fancy him," Jones retaliated.

"What, One-Eyed Taffy? I'd sooner go to bed with a camel – like you do," said McAllen, who was quite good at repartee. Jones couldn't think of a come-back to that and fell silent.

"Seriously, let's give Gwyn-Thomas a break. It's hard enough for him being blind and Welsh without us all thinking he's a homo, too. Maybe we could all laugh at Jonesy for sleeping with a camel instead."

"It's not a camel, it's your sister," said Jones, having had a moment to think.

"If I had a sister, she'd be far too good-looking to go out with you, Jonesy," said McAllen. "In fact, I'm surprised even a camel couldn't do better than you…"

Owen went back to his desk, leaving them to it. He'd gone from feeling sick and cold to feeling relaxed and grateful in about five seconds, and if a popular boy like Paul McAllen was going to be fighting for him from now on, things were likely to get a lot better for him.

Well, it seems things are looking up for Owen, though it might be wiser not to let McAllen talk to Danny, whose views on slave management are a little more extreme than Owen might like. In the next chapter we'll see how Jeremy's escape plans are progressing, and we'll find out if Miguel and Andy are getting anywhere with their project to strip their fellow pupils.

Chapter Five

In this chapter Miguel and Andy get their operation under way, and Jeremy and his friends start making serious plans for his disappearance. And we'll also be dropping in on the travellers to see how life is treating them at their new place of residence – one of them, at least, might be starting to wonder if he should have stayed where he was…

Jeremy had been thinking about running away for a while, but now that he had actually mentioned it to his friends, it felt to him as if it was moving from a vague idea to being a concrete plan. So when he got home from school on Monday, before his mother and step-father got back from work, he went to the spare room, moved the mattress to one side, and used Adolf's tools to lever up one of the floorboards. This gave him a nice hiding-place, into which he placed a complete set of clothes and an old rucksack.

When he had finished he loosened the nails, so that he could get the board up again without any tools except a corkscrew – he had one on his penknife, which he was confident he could smuggle into the spare room inside his underpants – and put the mattress back on top of it. He only needed one more thing, and then his escape kit would be complete, and the following evening he got it, visiting a hardware shop after school and buying a length of rope. When he got home he added this to his cache under the floorboard, confident that the next time he was locked in he would be able to escape.

Of course, he didn't have to wait until he was locked up again, but he thought it would make the point a little more forcibly if he did, and he also thought it would make Adolf look bad if he had to admit to the police that he often locked his step-son up in the spare room.

He made sure he was on his absolute best behaviour for the next few days: he didn't want to have to run until he had somewhere to run to, and so far he hadn't managed to think of anywhere. He hoped that his friends might come up with some ideas…

***

"Sorry, Uzzy, but I don't think so," said Timmy.

He had dropped in to visit his friends in Sim and Uzzy's form, as he did from time to time, and Uzzy had taken the opportunity to ask if he thought Jeremy could hide out with the travellers for a bit.

"I mean, Owen's right, and they're not too far away," he went on. "But they're on a proper, official site now, and everything's organised. It'd be hard to sneak an extra kid in without someone noticing and asking questions. It'd probably be okay for an odd night or two – the way Stephen spent last weekend with Tom, for instance – but not for any length of time. And it wouldn't really be fair to ask them, either: they haven't got a lot of spare space, and they probably can't afford to feed an extra person, even though they'd never admit it. I mean, I can ask if you like – I'm going to see Christy on Saturday – but I don't think it's really on. You'll probably have to think of something else. Sorry…"

"I suppose he could stay with one of us," suggested Matt. "After all, we don't go to his school, and his parents will never have heard of us, so we wouldn't be on any list of people they'd try calling."

"I don't think that would work," replied Timmy. "I bet your parents wouldn't let you have someone to stay for more than an odd night, and even then they'd want to talk to the other boy's parents to make sure everything is okay. I know my parents wouldn't."

"No, you're probably right," agreed Matt. "It was just a thought, that's all."

"Has anyone got a tent he could borrow?" asked Uzzy. "He already asked his other friends, but nobody's got one."

"Well, I've got one," Timmy told him. "It's not all that good, and it might leak if it rains hard, but I suppose he could borrow it…"

"No, wait a moment," interrupted Colin. "He doesn't need a tent. What about the garage?"

"What garage?" asked Uzzy.

"No, that's right," said Owen. "The garage would be perfect… see, Uzzy, the traveller boys found this abandoned house on the lane that goes down towards the Britannia Forest. The house is all boarded up, but there's a garage you can get into. The traveller kids used it as their base – there's even an old mattress there… If you like I'll take you there after school and show you."

"I don't have time to do anything before my bus goes," said Uzzy. "But Sim can go – can't you, Sim?"

"OK," agreed Sim, who lived not far from the school. "And if it'th… it's okay, I can tell Jeremy at the weekend."

"It's okay," said Timmy. "I spent a fair bit if time there. The roof doesn't leak and the windows aren't broken or anything, so if the weather's bad you stay nice and dry. I played there with the travellers when it was raining, and it was fine. And nobody else ever goes there – all the time the travellers were there, we never saw any adults about at all."

"That sounds great," said Uzzy. "If he hasn't found anything better anywhere else, of course…"

***

One person who hadn't spent a lot of time trying to think of a hideout for Jeremy was Miguel, not because he didn't care, but because he was sure the other boys, who had lived in the area a lot longer than he had, would have a much wider knowledge of places to go. In fact he did care, very much: Jeremy and his friends had made him welcome from the moment he had met them, and had gone further by flatly refusing to indulge in any of the Fawlty Towers-derived stupid Spaniard jokes he had to put up with at school. And because he cared he had decided to put a little of his pocket money aside every week in case Jeremy needed it.

However, it would be fair to say that he had dedicated much more of his spare time to working on Andy's plan to make his form-mates lose their clothes – especially, Miguel had decided, the ones who called him 'Manuel' all the time. It was two weeks now since his first visit to Andy's house, and he had been back a couple of times since, learning how to play poker. Obviously, Andy had said, they had to practise playing strip poker, too, and that had resulted in a couple more naked wrestling matches, which both of them had enjoyed immensely.

But now Andy reckoned that Miguel's poker skills were up to scratch, and so he had decided that they should take on their first live victim, to see if they could work together in the way he wanted. They'd agreed on their first target, one of the more vocal of the Miguel-teasers, a boy called Hamilton who was better at sport than he was in the classroom.

Laying the snare had been easy: Andy had caught him on his own at the end of the lunch break the previous day.

"How would you like a chance to have some fun with Àlvarez?" he asked.

"Yeah, okay. What sort of fun?"

"Well, I've been teaching him some English card games, but he's not very good yet. I thought we could invite him round to my house after school and talk him into playing Strip Poker. It could be funny making him run about in the nude, don't you think?"

Hamilton's face lit up. "Yeah! That'd be a really good laugh. And maybe we can get him to do some bad forfeits before we give him his clothes back, too. I'll think some up tonight. Except… do you reckon he'd come round to your house? Won't he be suspicious?"

Andy and Miguel had kept their friendship fairly quiet: they hadn't started sitting next to each other in class, or spending time together at break, and when Miguel had gone home with Andy after school they'd left separately and met outside Andy's house. They were confident that this would prevent any of their targets having any idea that the two of them were working together. Which made this a good question.

"Oh, I think I can talk him into it. It's not like he has a lot of friends, is it? I bet he'd be only too happy to take a chance to make friends with you and me."

"Yeah, you're probably right… great! Tomorrow night, you said?"

The next morning Hamilton had caught Andy on his own. "I've told my mum I'm going to be late home tonight, so I can stay at your house for a bit after school. And I've thought of some good stuff we can do to him before we let him get dressed again…." He showed Andy a piece of paper.

"These are a bit bad," said Andy, stifling a giggle. "Do you really think he'll let us do this stuff?"

"He'll have to, if he wants his clothes back," said Hamilton.

"OK," said Andy, tucking the piece of paper away. "I'd better hang on to this."

So after the school the three of them walked round to Andy's house together. Miguel played his part perfectly, commenting on how close Andy's house was to the school and how nice his room was as if he'd never been there before.

Andy went and brought a couple of chairs up from the dining room to add to the one that was already in his room, and they sat down around the small table he used for doing his homework and watched him shuffling the pack.

"OK," he said. "Three changes, whoever ends up with the lowest hand has to take something off. But, before we start… there's no chickening out, okay? Once we've started, we have to keep going until someone is bare – and if whoever loses refuses to take his pants off, the other two can gang up on him and strip him by force. Agreed?"

"Agreed," the other two said, and Andy started to deal.

Miguel and Andy had spent almost as long working on their secret signals as they had on the actual playing on the game, so throughout the game they knew pretty much what each other was holding. The idea was that if one of them was losing too quickly the other could deliberately lose a hand or two in order to balance things up. Of course, it wasn't foolproof: if Hamilton kept getting good cards he would still beat one or both of them, but this arrangement meant that all Miguel and Andy had to do was to avoid losing nineteen times between them before Hamilton had lost ten times.

Miguel actually lost the first two hands, and that was enough to get Hamilton going.

"Manuel's gonna be naked, Manuel's gonna be naked," he sang, happily. "I suppose when you come from Barcelona cards are too difficult for you. I expect you just normally look at them, say '¿Que?' and give up…"

Miguel didn't bother launching into his usual statement, that he'd never been to Barcelona in his life and that his name wasn't Manuel, either; instead he just smiled and indicated to Andy that he was holding three of a kind and so probably didn't need any help this round.

The game went on, and after another few hands Hamilton's teasing had stopped: he'd lost more than half his clothes, while the other two were about level, but both a couple of items better off than he was. Eventually he was in his underpants, while Miguel still had three things on and Andy four.

To give him his due, he didn't try to wriggle out of it, and when he lost the next hand he simply stood up and pulled his pants off, though he then sat down again and covered his groin with his hands.

"Let's play again," he suggested. "I bet we can get Manuel naked next time."

"We can't play again, we haven't finished this game yet," Andy pointed out. "If we start another game now you'll be starting starkers. You'll need to get your clothes back, and if you want them there are a couple of things you'll need to do first. I've got them written down somewhere…" And he pulled Hamilton's list of things he wanted to do to Miguel out of his blazer pocket.

"Oh, no, come on, Shaw," protested Hamilton, going pale. "I mean, you can't… those were just for… well… you know."

"We have to play fair," said Andy, managing to say this with a straight face. "So… have a look at these, Miguel – what should we do to him first?"

Miguel took the sheet and read aloud, "'One: He has to let us both examine him all over for ten minutes. Two: he has to do gym exercises (whatever we choose) for ten minutes. Three: he has to bend over so we can spank him.' Well, let's do it in that order – let's examine him first."

"Okay," said Andy. "Stand up, Hamilton."

Slowly Hamilton stood up and moved his hands away from his groin, his head bowed. He didn't have much worth hiding: his balls were tiny, and Miguel was sure that Hamilton's willy was smaller than his.

"Spread your legs a bit," ordered Shaw. "Come on, Miguel, let's have a proper look at him."

They started to run their hands over Hamilton's body, staying away from his groin to start with, just getting him to try to flex his arm muscles and checking the results, feeling his leg muscles and stroking his chest and back. But then Andy took hold of the tip of Hamilton's foreskin and lifted the tiny penis up and away from his balls.

"What do you think, Miguel?" he asked, looking at it critically. "It's not very big, is it?"

"Nor are these," said Miguel, squeezing the little balls gently. Hamilton blushed a little but kept his mouth shut as the two boys handled his genitals, and of course as they played with him the inevitable happened.

"Oh, look, it's starting to get bigger," observed Andy, stroking it. "Go and get the ruler, Miguel."

Miguel went and collected the ruler, but in fact the organ in question didn't seem to have got a lot bigger, just harder: it now stuck out horizontally, twitching a little. Miguel held the ruler against it, taking hold of the tip of the foreskin to keep the erection from twitching away from the ruler.

"It is just about two inches [5 cm]," he reported.

"That really is little, isn't it?" commented Andy, grinning at their victim. Hamilton decided not to answer him.

"Okay," said Andy. "Now let's see you do some exercises. You can start with twenty press-ups."

Hamilton dropped to the floor, and for the next ten minutes they had a lot of fun making him do stride jumps and ordering him to run on the spot, so that his little penis jiggled about comically. By the time he had finished he was sweating a bit and breathing heavily, and his erection had completely subsided.

To finish they made him touch his toes and took it in turns to slap his bum, though not particularly hard.

"Okay, I suppose you can get dressed now," said Andy, delivering the last smack. "I can't wait to see everyone's faces when we tell them about this in class tomorrow…"

"Oh, God, you're not going to tell them, are you?" cried Hamilton, staring at him.

"Why? Don't you want the other boys in our form to know how tiny your little winkle is?"

"No! Look, come on, Shaw; please…"

"I do not think we should tell," said Miguel, surprising them both.

"Why not?" asked Andy.

"Because… this is a private game, just for us. It would not be fair to tell the other boys. And it is not funny when everyone laughs at you all the time – maybe Hamilton does not deserve that."

"I bet he'd have told everyone if you had lost – wouldn't you, Hamilton?" asked Andy.

"No, I… well… okay, if I'm going to be honest, yes, I probably would," admitted Hamilton, who was still standing holding his underpants – he hadn't moved since Andy had said this was going to be made public. "But… please don't, Shaw…"

"If you stop from calling me 'Manuel' and saying that I am from Barcelona, I will tell nobody about you. Is that fair?" asked Miguel.

"Yes, okay! I promise… but it's only a joke, Man… I mean, Àlvarez. I don't really think you're stupid, you know."

"It is a boring joke," Miguel told him. "It is not funny any more."

"Okay, then I promise I won't make it any more."

"And if you do, Miguel and I will have to start mentioning the size of that," said Andy, pointing at Hamilton's small organ.

Hurriedly Hamilton pulled his pants on. "Okay… but if I forget, you will give me a chance, won't you?" he said.

"You'd better not forget," growled Andy.

"I'll try not to… honestly, I swear!" added Hamilton, seeing the look on Andy's face.

"Good, then that's settled. Do either of you want a drink? I've got some Coke in the kitchen."

"Okay, then," said Hamilton.

"And for me," said Miguel, glancing at his watch. "But I cannot stay for too long."

"Are you sure you've got to go?" asked Hamilton, once Andy had left the room. "I thought we might play again."

"Do you want to show us your little thing again?" asked Miguel, grinning at him.

"No, I want you to show me yours – and I want to make fun of it and make you jump about, like I had to. I bet I looked really stupid doing that."

"You looked funny. And you cannot make fun of mine, because it is bigger than yours."

"That's what you say. Bet you're lying, though."

"I am not. But I cannot stay to play again today, so you will not find out."

"Pity. But we're definitely going to have to play again sometime."

Andy came back with the Cokes, and they sat and drank them, and then Miguel got up and said he ought to be going.

"Me, too," said Hamilton. "Just you wait, though, Shaw: maybe next time it'll be you that has to jump about in the nude."

"Oh, you want to play again? Obviously you like making a fool of yourself," said Andy, following them downstairs. "I'm sure we can arrange another game, if you're sure."

Miguel and Hamilton walked back to the main road together, but before Hamilton crossed it to his bus stop – he lived in the opposite direction – he said, "You promise you won't tell anyone, don't you? I mean, okay, it's not very big, and I really don't want people laughing at me…"

"If you remember my name, I will say nothing. I promise," said Miguel, offering his hand. Hamilton shook it and crossed the road, and Miguel walked the short distance to his own bus stop with a big smile on his face. He wondered who he and Andy could make undress next…

***

On the Thursday evening Sim was surprised to get a phone call from Awais: until now none of the Collection had called him – he always found out what they were doing from Uzzy.

"Hi, Simmy," said Awais, cheerfully. "It's my birthday on Sunday, and I want to invite you to my party."

"Okay. Are you inviting all the Collection?"

"No, just you. See, all my friends are going to be there, so I thought we could play a game of Pass the Simmy. It's like Pass the Parcel: we pass you round the circle, and whoever's got you when the music stops takes off one of your clothes. And whoever gets to take your pants off is allowed to spank you in front of everyone. Isn't that a brilliant idea for a game?"

"No," said Sim, firmly. "And I don't want to come if that… that's what you want to do."

"Don't be silly, Simmy…" Sim heard a snort of laughter at the other end of the line. "Silly Simmy – that's a really good name…anyway, obviously we're not really going to do that – I mean, my mum and dad will be there. No, I'd just like you to come, that's all."

"Oh. Okay, then, I'll come."

"Great! Actually, most of the others will probably be there – I've told Kam he can ask them if he wants, so he's got some people to talk to. But I wanted to ask you myself."

"Why?"

"Because you're fun, Simmy. I like playing with you. If you like you can do a poetry test in front of all my friends, too – they can all take it in turns to stick the pin in your bum. We can do it a bit like a game of 'Pin the tail on the donkey'…"

"No, they can't. And ne… next time I read to you, you won't need to ssstick the pin in me, either."

"Bet I do. Anyway, it's Sunday at half past two – and I'm only teasing, I won't really let my friends watch you reading."

"I knew that. Thankth for a… asking me, Awais."

"Wow, you even got my name right! You really must have been practising… see you on Sunday, then." And Awais hung up.

***

Jeremy had successfully kept out of trouble right through the week, mainly by spending as little time in the same room as Adolf as possible, and by doing his best to stop listening whenever his step-father opened his mouth. Consequently when Sunday afternoon came around he was able to go to Kam's house with everyone else (Kam had indeed made sure that the whole Collection was invited). So while Awais and his school-friends were playing party games downstairs, the remainder of the Collection – including Neil, who was by now at least an honorary member – sat in the boys' bedroom and discussed Jeremy's problem.

Sim told him about the garage, which Owen had taken him to see earlier in the week.

"It's dry, and there'th a mattresss there, too," he reported. "And a table, and a couple of chairs. But it'll be a bit boring there on your own – there'th no electrith… no power, ssso you can't have a light or anything."

"I can read a book, I expect," said Jeremy, "and listen to my transistor, if I can get it out of the house. Maybe I can bring it, and a few other things, to school next week, so one of you two can look after them for me."

"Okay," said Bilal, and Tony nodded.

"The problem is that it's out in Shortham," said Uzzy. "Okay, in one way that's good, because they probably won't be looking for you there, but in another it's a nuisance, because Sim's the only one of us who lives there. I might be able to come and see you after school for a bit if I tell my parents I'm going to be late home, but nobody else will be able to help much."

"That's okay," said Jeremy. "As long as I've got somewhere to sleep I'll be fine. Is there a shop in the village where I can buy food?"

"Yes, but it might not be safe to use it if they start looking for you," said Uzzy. "It'd be a lot safer if you just stayed in the garage, especially during school time, otherwise someone will think you're bunking off from school and call the police, or something. It'd be best to let me and Sim get your food for you."

"I don't want you two to have to spend ages doing stuff for me. That wouldn't be fair."

"Well, we've got friends in our form who could help," suggested Sim. "They already know a bit about it 'coth we were athking… asking about you staying with the travellers, and thtu… stuff. We know they won't tell anyone about you."

"Well… if you're sure you can trust them," said Jeremy, looking doubtful.

"We can," Sim assured him.

"Then you've got to be able to get to Shortham," said Tony. "Will you be able to get your bike out of the shed? You can borrow mine if not."

"Thanks," said Jeremy, gratefully. "I could catch the bus, though."

"Better not," said Kam. "It's like Uzzy said: if they start looking for you seriously, they'll ask all the bus drivers if they saw you. On a bike you probably wouldn't be noticed."

By the time they were called down to have some tea they had a basic plan agreed: Bilal would be in charge of the initial stages – transport and initial supplies (Bilal had offered because he knew that Adolf would never ask his parents for help or information) – and Sim would be in charge of the Shortham end of the operation, simply because he lived there.

The younger boys hadn't managed to eat all the food, but by the time the rest of the Collection had got stuck in there were only crumbs left. After tea the party broke up – most of Awais's friends were collected by parents, and Jeremy's friends began to leave as well. But when Sim went to get his bike from the back of the house he found Awais there waiting for him with another boy of about the same age, an inch or so taller and a bit heavier, a white boy with light brown hair and eyes that were an unusual grey colour.

"Hi, Simmy," said Awais. "I wanted you to meet my best friend Robin before you go. He lives next door and he goes to my school. Robin, this is my big friend Silly Simmy."

Robin spluttered with laughter. "What a stupid name!" he commented.

"Well, he's not really called 'Silly' – that's just what I call him," admitted Awais. "And his real name is Simeon."

"That's still a stupid name," insisted Robin.

"It'th better than Robin," retorted Sim. "Unleth you think Awaith ith Batman."

"Doesn't he talk funny?" said Robin. "Can't he speak English?"

"Usually," said Awais. "But sometimes he messes up his 's's. He's trying to get better, though, and I help him sometimes."

"How?"

Awais looked at Sim, who hesitated but then gave a tiny nod: he really liked Awais, and it was his birthday, after all – making him look good in front of his friend by admitting what happened at their poetry sessions didn't seem too much to ask.

"Well, he reads to me, and if he makes a mistake with an 's' sound I stick a pin in his bum."

"Bet you don't! He'd never let you do that – he's loads bigger than you. Don't lie, Awais!"

"He's not lying," said Sim, carefully. "I let him do it beca… because I trutht him. He'th my friend. And I really want to get better, ssso s… someone ha…has to help me."

Robin burst out laughing. "Wow, Awais – you get to stick pins in a big kid's bum! That must be so much fun… does he squeal?"

"Sometimes," said Awais, grinning. "And if he really messes up I spank him as well. That really makes him yell."

"What, you let him spank you, too? Why? You must be mad," said Robin, staring at Sim.

Sim shrugged. "If he helps me get better, I don't mind," he said. "He deth… deserveth it."

"Oh, wow! I wish I could see that…"

Sim didn't say anything: it was one thing for Awais's best friend to know about it, but another matter entirely to actually let him watch. And Awais obviously didn't want to push it, either: instead he just said goodbye and watched Sim push his bike out to the road. But he wondered if perhaps he would be able to get Sim to let Robin come and watch – maybe he could offer it as an alternative to getting spanked next time Sim made a mess of the reading…

***

That same weekend Owen took the bus to the travellers' new site to the north of Poundford, and Paul McAllen went with him. As he had told Paul, Owen had been meaning for some time to go and find out how Danny was getting on at his new site, and Paul had persuaded him to make the journey this weekend: he wanted to talk to Danny himself and find out about their game from the other person's perspective.

Timmy was on the bus, too – had had already arranged to go and visit his friend Christy, and it was this which had persuaded Owen to make the journey this week instead of putting it off: Timmy knew where the site was and had already been there, and most of the travellers and their families already knew him. Owen had never been to the old encampment in Shortham, and hadn't wanted to walk into a traveller site on his own – at least, not for his first visit.

They got off the bus and walked down the lane to the site, and once inside – and once the inevitable dogs had been gently rebuffed – Timmy took them to Christy's caravan and asked him where Danny was likely to be.

"That's his van," said Christy, pointing. "If he's not there, try Tom's – it's two further on."

"I'd better go with them," said Timmy. "Just in case… I'll be back in a minute, though. Are your parents in?"

"No," Christy told him, with a big grin. "They've gone shopping. There's just me here at the moment."

"What a pity," said Timmy, grinning back. "In that case I'll definitely be back in a minute!"

He led Owen and Paul to the caravan Christy had indicated and knocked on the door. Danny's brother Michael opened it, his face breaking into a big smile when he saw who was there.

"Hello, Timmy! You okay? Great… Christy's probably at home, if you're looking for him…"

"I've already seen him. No, it's Danny we're looking for – well, these two are, anyway. Is he in?"

"No, he'll be off in the woods, I expect. I don't know where he goes, exactly. Was he expecting you?"

"No," said Owen. "I mean, I can't exactly phone him and tell him I'm coming, can I?"

"You could write – we've got a proper address now. Try asking Tom – I'm pretty sure he's at home – he's having to baby-sit. He probably won't be in a very good mood…"

"Okay," said Timmy. "By the way, are you still going out with Mary?"

Michael nodded, a big smile on his face.

"Crikey, she must be desperate," commented Timmy. "Wonder what she sees in you?"

"I've got a lot to offer a girl," replied Michael, twitching his groin suggestively. "You know that."

"Well, I suppose if you put a paper bag over your head… just kidding! Seriously, Mikey, that's brilliant. Just make sure you don't mess up…"

"I never mess up… well, not very often. Happy hunting!"

And Michael went back into his caravan and closed the door. Timmy led the other two on to Tom's caravan and knocked the door, and Tom opened it straight away.

"Hey, it's Tiny!" he said, grinning.

"Hello, Tom. We're looking for Danny, and Michael said you probably know where he is."

"Yeah, we've got this hide-out in the woods – I'd be there now if I didn't have to stay here and look after Bridie. I expect he's having fun beating up Alan, as usual."

"Can you tell these two how to get there?"

"Well… not really, it's hard to describe. And I'm not sure I ought to tell dodgy townies where our place is – especially when I don't know them." And he looked meaningfully at Paul.

"He's okay," said Owen. "This is my friend Paul. Paul, this is Tom."

"Is he okay?" Tom asked Timmy. "I'll believe it if you say so."

"How come?"

"Because if you lie to me I know I can find you and beat you up afterwards. Or I could set Stephen on you – you'd come out in little bits, even smaller than the little bits you've already got." And he pointed at Timmy's groin and smirked at him.

"Or I could set Christy on you, and I bet you'd be the one that came out in bits if I did," replied Timmy. "And Christy is just over there, and Stephen's miles away. Okay? Anyway, yes, I reckon Paul's all right. As townies go, anyway."

"Okay, then, I'll show them the way. Come on, Bridie, we're going for a little walk."

"Only if I can have a piggy-back," answered his little sister, folding her arms and staring at him.

Tom sighed. "Come on, then," he said, bending forward so that the little girl could climb onto his back.

Timmy wished them good luck and went back to Christy's caravan. Christy led him inside, locked the door and then enveloped him in a hug, which Timmy returned enthusiastically.

"How long have we got?" he asked.

"At least an hour."

"Brilliant!" said Timmy, taking off his jacket and sitting down to untie his shoes. Christy went round the caravan closing the curtains and then moved the table and pushed the two bench seats together to make up the double bed he had used when Timmy had stayed with him in the past. By the time the bed was ready, Timmy was standing beside it wearing nothing but a big smile, so Christy quickly threw off his own clothes and climbed into bed beside him. They cuddled up together and began to tell each other what they had been doing since the last time they had met…

***

Meanwhile, Tom led Owen and Paul down a path to the far end of the site, where there was a wooden fence with a hole in it. He climbed through this, picked up his sister again and strode off towards some trees on the far side of a field.

Once inside the wood he slowed down, counting, and after a bit he turned off the path and walked away into the trees. There was no visible track, but Tom seemed to know where he was going, so Owen and Paul simply kept quiet and followed him.

After a couple of minutes Tom bent down and allowed Bridie to dismount and, telling her to wait with the two boys, he ran off further into the wood. He came back five minutes later and picked up his sister once more.

"Keep going straight ahead – he's expecting you," he said. "You'll have to find your own way back, but expect even a couple of thickie townies can manage that." And he grinned at them and went back the way they had come.

Owen and Paul looked at each other and headed off the way Tom had shown them, and a couple of minutes later they found Danny leaning against a tree and waiting for them.

"Hello, One-Eye," he greeted Owen. "I knew you couldn't stay away – you must miss the taste of me. Who's your friend?"

"This is Paul," Owen told him. "He's… well, he's sort of in charge of me now, and when I told him about you he said I had to bring him to meet you. He wants you to tell him the best way to deal with me."

"Brilliant! I'm glad someone's going to be keeping you under control… I'm just wondering if I should let you keep your clothes on while you're here, though – I seem to remember we had a rule about slaves and clothes when we used to play in the garage, didn't we?"

"Well, yes… but that was indoors," said Owen, a little nervously. "It's not safe out here – anyone could come past…"

"No, they won't, but if they did it'd just be too bad," said Danny. "What do you think, Paul? Should I let him keep his clothes on?"

Paul looked at Owen. He was new to this game and wasn't really sure how Owen might feel about this – certainly he didn't look too enthusiastic.

"Well… let's make his strip to his pants for now," he said. "He'll look pretty silly walking about in his underwear, but at least if anyone comes by he won't be totally naked."

"Okay, but you shouldn't be soft on your slaves," said Danny. "Slaves don't have any rights, and you should always be strict with them, or they'll start to think they can get away with stuff. Come with me and I'll tell you all about it. As for you, Taffy, get your clothes off except your undies – oh, and you can put your shoes back on, seeing as how there are thorns about – then leave your clothes here and go a little way in that direction. You'll find Alan there. He can tell you all about being a proper slave, 'cos I don't let him off easy the way I used to with you. Come on, then, Paul, and I'll tell you all about it." And he led Paul off into the wood.

Looking about nervously, Owen stripped to his underpants, put his shoes back on, piled his clothes under a tree and headed off in the direction Danny had indicated. He felt strange walking through a wood wearing only a little pair of white briefs, but when he found Alan a minute or so later he discovered that things could be a lot worse.

Alan was stark naked and tied with his back to a tree. His clothes were nowhere in sight, so even if he had been able to get free he couldn't have gone anywhere; but as he was securely bound to the tree this seemed an unnecessary precaution. He looked up when he saw Owen coming and blushed, but with his hands tied behind the tree he could do nothing to cover his nakedness.

They'd met, very briefly, on the day the travellers had moved away from Shortham, but they hadn't been introduced, which made this a little awkward for both of them. Eventually Owen said, "Hello, I'm Owen. I used to… to play with Danny when he lived in Shortham."

"I'm Alan. I'm… well… I'm sort of Danny's slave. I have to do whatever he tells me."

"How come? You look older than he is, and I'd have thought you're probably stronger, too."

"I am older – I'm thirteen, so Danny's just over two years younger than me. And I suppose I could probably beat him in a fight, too, although maybe not: he's quite strong, and I'm a bit of a weed, to be honest. But I have to do what he says because he knows stuff about me, and I really don't want him spreading it around, which he will if I don't obey him. And, besides…"

"Besides, what?"

"Well… I sort of enjoy playing this game with him… if it is a game – sometimes I'm not sure, and I don't think he'd let me stop playing even if I wanted to. Which I don't, really – it's fun, somehow."

"What, it's fun being stripped naked and tied to a tree?"

"Yes, in a mad sort of way. And he whips me, too, and even that's sort of fun, even if it really hurts. I know it sounds stupid, but I even like it when he tortures my cock, which he does if I annoy him. I like him touching it, even when he's doing bad things to it."

Owen looked at Alan's penis, which had several little black bruises on, and some small scabs that suggested bramble scratches. And being looked at like that was enough to get Alan excited: steadily his penis grew hard, until it was sticking straight out. Now the bruises and scratches looked even more painful, but Alan didn't seem to be feeling anything.

"And does he make you do… you know… sex stuff?" asked Owen.

"Oh, yes, all the time. I usually have to suck it for him every day, though sometimes…"

"What?"

"Well… sometimes he… look, you won't tell anyone, will you?"

Owen shook his head.

"Well… okay, sometimes he fucks me instead."

Owen stared at him. "What, he puts it up your bum? Gosh, I bet that hurts!"

"It does, a bit. And it's really embarrassing, too, especially when he lets his mate Tom watch. I've had to suck Tom, too, but at least he hasn't wanted to fuck me. But there's not much I can do: if I argue or don't obey quickly enough I get whipped – you should see the bruises on my bum."

"And you still say you like doing this?"

Alan shrugged. "I can't tell you why, but it's exciting, somehow. Even getting whipped sometimes makes my cock go stiff. The only thing I don't really like is when he ties me up, either like this or staked out on the ground, and then goes off and leaves me for a long time. Sometimes he brings me out here in the morning, makes me do sex stuff with him, and then ties me up and leaves me here while he goes home for something to eat. A couple of times I've been stuck here on my own for three or four hours. That gets really boring, and it can be scary, too – the first time he did it he was gone for so long I thought he'd had an accident, or something. I got really scared – I couldn't get free, and I thought that if nobody knew I was here I could starve or freeze. When he came back I was angry and shouted at him, but he just said it was up to him how long I had to wait, and if I didn't stop complaining he'd leave me here all night. I don't think he really would, but it did scare me into keeping quiet. But apart from that it's okay… Of course, he could easily decide to do even worse stuff to me, which I might not enjoy at all, but so far it's been fine."

Owen stared at him, thinking that this was way beyond anything he'd be prepared to put up with. But he supposed that if Alan was happy with the arrangement it was none of his business what Danny did to him… unless, of course, Danny was at this very moment telling Paul all about it and advising him to do the same stuff to Owen….

Shortly afterwards Danny and Paul arrived. Paul took one look at Alan and burst out laughing.

"Blimey, I thought you were making it up!" he exclaimed. "And he really has to do absolutely everything you tell him?"

Danny nodded happily. "And he has to obey the rules, too," he said, looking at his prisoner. "And one of those rules is that he isn't allowed to get stiff without permission. I'm afraid it's going to have to be punished, slave boy. But first you can show Paul here the main reason for having a slave."

He untied Alan's ankles and loosened the ropes round his arms without untying his wrists, and this allowed Alan to slide down the tree into a kneeling position. Danny then lowered his trousers and flourished his erection in Danny's face.

"Go on, then: show Taffy how it should be done," he ordered, and Alan obligingly started to suck.

Owen found this really exciting, which was unfortunate, because his pants were unable to hide the effect it was having on him: they tented out in a really obvious way. But Paul was obviously having the same problem, because he was standing half hunched over with his hands in his pockets in order to hide his erection.

"Take your pants off," Danny suddenly snapped to Owen. "It's obvious you've gone hard – let your master see it."

Owen was by now excited enough not to worry about being outdoors, so he slipped his pants off and let Paul and Danny look at him.

"You shouldn't let him get hard without permission," Danny advised Paul. "And you certainly mustn't let him touch himself unless you say he can – Alan knows he'll get a hundred whips if he ever does that. Oh, and when he gets a bit older and starts getting hair, you'll have to make him shave it all off: slaves aren't allowed hair. Alan used to have some, but he hasn't got any any longer, and he won't be allowed to grow any more, either."

They watched as Alan sucked Danny until he reached orgasm, accompanied by the usual outpouring of swearing that Danny generally produced as he came, and then Danny stepped back, pulled up his trousers, and got Alan back into his previous position, firmly tied to the tree and virtually unable to move.

"Now you stay there like a good boy," said Danny. "I'm just going to show our guests the way back to the site. Taffy, you'd better get dressed first – it would be really embarrassing if we met anyone otherwise, wouldn't it?"

"His name's not 'Taffy'," said Paul, who was feeling a lot more relaxed now that he'd been with Danny for a while. "It's Twiggy' – look at that little twig above his balls and you can see why."

Danny liked that and laughed loudly, and even Alan was trying unsuccessfully to muffle a snort of laughter. Owen blushed copiously and pulled his pants back on as fast as he could. Then he went back to where he had left the rest of his clothes and finished dressing, and when he was ready Danny guided them to the edge of the wood, pointed out where the site was and left them, going back to his entertainment. Owen and Paul walked slowly back towards the site.

"You would never believe the stuff he was telling me," Paul said. "You'd go mad if I treated you like that. Of course, I could if I wanted – you've promised to do whatever I tell you, haven't you?"

"Well, yes, I suppose so… but I don't want you to do anything too bad. I don't want to end up like Alan."

"Then you'd better be really nice to me, hadn't you?" said Paul, grinning at him.

Owen said nothing: he was thinking it might have been a bad mistake to let Paul within a mile of Danny…

Things are moving along… next time we'll see whether Jeremy's plan is going to work in practice.

NEXT CLICK FOR THE NEXT PART PART

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