When it was time for bed, James wasn't surprised to see Dan and Ollie taking occupation of the double bunk in the far corner and he wondered to which bunk he would be allocated. Unsurprisingly, it was Colin who pointed to the upper of another double bunk.
"You have the top one, James and I'll have the lower one. Any objections?"
"No, not at all. Thank you, Colin."
A little later James was tucked into his sleeping bag and going back over his remarkable day. Some of the boys were already asleep but there were little squeaks coming from the double bunk occupied by Dan and Ollie. 'They seem so unembarrassed about their friendship,' thought James. 'If only it could be like that between me and Billy.' He turned onto his side and could just see in the near darkness that the top bunk, the one Dan had climbed into, was vacant, so he must have climbed into the lower one and snuggled up with Ollie.
'It'll be a tight fit,' thought James, smiling to himself and finding himself with an erection.
The next thing James knew was that the light of early dawn was stealing into the barn, so it must have been between four and five. A glance across the room confirmed that Dan and Ollie were still in the lower bunk and James turned his thoughts to Billy. He reached a hand down to his groin and began to pleasure himself. In no time he was getting over-excited and the bunk began to rock to his rhythm. It wasn't long before he'd reached climax and was rubbing the warm stickiness over his tummy in an effort to minimise contamination of the sleeping bag. As he lay still, thinking of Billy, he realised the bunk was still rocking. The frequency of the rocking sped up a bit. It dawned on James that in the lower bunk Colin must also be enjoying a wank. Then James heard an ecstatic gasp and the bunk ceased its motion.
James tried to go back to sleep but soon he felt a hand on his shoulder and a whispered voice saying his name.
"James, James, it's me, Colin."
"Whasamatter?" whispered James.
"Sorry to wake you but you've been having a wank. Were you thinking about Billy?"
"Dunno, can't remember."
"OK but I hope it was fun. See you in the morning. I'd like to hear more about Billy." Briefly he stroked James's hair then climbed back into his own bunk to enjoy some more thoughts, presumably carnal ones.
James wanted to sleep but kept thinking about Colin's obvious interest in Billy. Was Colin hoping to hear what James and Billy 'did' together? If so, he'd be asking in vain as they'd not yet 'done' anything together. James wanted to do things but Billy was very shy; he hated having to wear grey shorts so short his thighs were almost entirely bare. He was glad to have found in James a soul mate, someone to grumble to about bullying prefects, sadistic masters and the horrors of grey shorts. As I said, Billy was a very shy boy and disliked the way one of his dorm mates would try to touch him up after lights-out. He didn't like to complain to boys in his own year for fear of being branded a wimp. After all, not every boy objected to exposing his legs or to being fondled. Some actually relished it. But James listened with sympathy and promised Billy whatever he said was in confidence, so Billy said more to James than to anyone.
James was grateful to be trusted by Billy but felt that trust would be destroyed by the slightest foolish move so made sure to keep his hands to himself and to content himself with Billy's presence and the very sight of the beautiful boy at close quarters. The walks in the woods were ostensibly to look for unusual fir cones - Billy had quite a collection - but James hoped that one day Billy would admit to wanting a bit of what James privately called intimacy. It was this hope that fuelled James's thoughts of Billy and had generated that lovely masturbation in the top bunk.
It occurred to James that Colin might be using Billy as a means of getting to know more about him, James, and his proclivities. James wasn't used to people taking an interest in him apart from some of his father's dinner guests and their interest started and finished at his bare thighs. His mother, an invalid, had never shown him any affection and his father, as we've already seen, was strict and unloving, forbidding him long trousers - even in the coldest weather - until he 'looked like a man.' Most boys at school ridiculed James for his gawkiness and lack of coordination and boys he'd met when at home kept clear of him in case their parents had the idea of making them wear shorts like James's. Getting to know girls was out of the question as their reaction on meeting him and staring at his long, bare legs was to squeal with laughter.
James got on fairly well with some of his classmates but Billy was the only boy he really liked. He had to be careful, not only because he was worried about losing Billy but also because some at school looked with suspicion at friendship between boys two or more years apart in age. James lay in his bunk, thinking about Billy and reflecting how his life had changed at Stanage Edge. He seemed to have found something, rock-climbing, which he enjoyed. For once his build was proving to be a bonus. Better still, he'd fallen in with a bunch of boys who didn't tease him but actually encouraged him. After just a few hours he felt part of the team. Dan was a superb instructor, Ollie was friendly and extremely attractive and Colin was, well, friendly but in a different way; perhaps he could be taken into James's confidence. Even Mr Hemerdon seemed less formidable.
On the Sunday, true to the forecast, the weather was ideal for rock-climbing. In his skimpy PE kit and plimsolls, James was taken by Dan and Ollie to parts of Stanage Edge he hadn't seen before and climbed up and abseiled down vertical faces that would have terrified him the day before. Not that he thought it was easy - it was extremely difficult and required all his ingenuity and strength - and although Dan was at hand to guide him James was now finding niches and crannies for himself. He always used a static rope as it would be a long time before he could free-climb but he was overjoyed at the progress he'd made since arriving only 24 hours earlier. Usually he arrived at the top to be welcomed by Ollie and once, feeling giddy with success he sort of fell into Ollie, grasping for support on Ollie's ample bottom and causing the two of them to collapse onto the grass. James was aware of his hand sliding all the way down Ollie's magnificent thigh.
"Oh, gosh, I hope I didn't hurt your cane-mark!" said James, concerned that he'd touched where Mr Hemerdon's cane had struck Ollie's upper thighs the night before.
"Didn't feel a thing," said Ollie, with a little giggle as he raised himself to kneel beside James.
He put his hand on James's knee and ran it slowly up his leg until it reached James's PE shorts and then kept going a little further. James lay on his side in the sunshine, enjoying the sensation of having his bottom stroked by the delicious Ollie. James's face expressed deep pleasure.
"Oh, God, sorry about that!" said Ollie, withdrawing his hand and quickly getting to his feet. "I didn't mean anything improper."
"Hello, boys." It was Colin. "I see you're having fun together. I've come to tell you lunch is served, Dan's already gone to the barn, Coming?"
Ollie was blushing and looking at the ground but James was walking on air. He'd just been groped by a gorgeous seventeen-year-old. He was looking forward to his lunch.
Lunch was essentially bread and cheese and fruit but no alcohol because there was more climbing to be done in the afternoon. James was up for it. With Dan, Ollie and Colin he strode happily to the place Dan had chosen for their last climb of the day. Without going into the technicalities, I can say they concentrated on the job in hand and exerted themselves for three more hours before it was time to make their way back to the barn, and tea. This time Colin had firmly inserted himself as James's instructor and guided him up climbs almost as skillfully as Dan had done but with much longer debriefs after each ascent.
"Nasty graze you have there," said Colin, as James lay on the grass catching his breath. "Let's have a look at it."
James felt his upper thigh being tended to by Colin's fingers. He'd rather have felt Ollie's fingers there or even better, Billy's but Colin was being gentle and James had never before been touched by an eighteen-year-old. Colin was nowhere near as gorgeous as Ollie but he was kind and thankfully his hairy legs were hidden by his skin-tight jeans.
"Shouldn't we go back to join the others?"
"Oh, they'll all be talking about climbing," said Colin, removing his hand from James's leg. "We'll join them later, in time for Hemline to tell his stories. That'll be much more exciting. Why don't you tell me about Billy? I'd really love it if you brought him here for some climbing. It'd be fun."
"But I hardly know him. I think about him all the time but what he thinks of me I've no idea!"
"But last night you told me he was your best mate and you said how you'd love to bring him here. I offered to come to pick you both up in my car. Honestly, James, I'd love to do that. It would give you the chance to take him away from the boarding school and to somewhere much more exciting. From what you said, he's made for climbing!"
"It would have to be in the holidays," said James. "He'd never get permission to come here without a master in charge."
"And we don't want old Hemline here, do we?" muttered Colin. "But maybe you could come on your own - I live quite near Nottingham and could easily pick you up."
"Am I really taking to this climbing thing?" asked James. "Or are you all just being nice to me?"
"Dan was saying he'd never seen anyone pick up the basics so quickly. No, James, we're not just being nice, we mean it. You're a natural."
James turned to look at Colin who was on his back, gazing at the blue sky, the sunlight glinting on a light stubble on his chin and upper lip. 'Gosh,' thought James. 'He must have to shave. How grown-up he is!'
"Nobody's ever said I'm a natural, not at anything," said James. "More likely they just tell me I'm a waste of space. "
"I bet Billy doesn't say that."
"No, he hasn't said that but he never talks about me, only about himself and all his problems."
"What problems, James? I promise I'll keep it a secret.""
"Well, for one thing, he's incredibly shy and hates having to wear short trousers all day, every day."
"But the other boys are all in the same boat - even you!"
"Yes and it's worse for me - I'm the only Fifth-Former in shorts and I'm so much taller than all the others. My shorts are so short I can't help accidentally exposing myself. Imagine how embarrassing it is when I realise that's happened!"
A bulge formed in the front of Colin's jeans. "But you're so good-looking - you look fantastic - you've nothing to be embarrassed about."
"I'm not good-looking. I'm a freak. Everyone laughs at me. My father won't let me have long trousers till I've got hairs on my legs so even at home I have to wear stupid little shorts, even in the coldest weather. I get stared at all the time and little kids in the shops and on buses try to stick their hands up my shorts and some of my father's dinner guests sit next to me and feel my bare thighs. I'm no good at sports and can't make friends - I'm hopeless at everything! My life's a misery!"
"Absolute rubbish, James! You're very good-looking and as for being a freak, you've learnt to rock climb in no time at all and you're already very good at it. And you've made friends here: Dan and Ollie think you're the tops and I ... I would love to be your friend."
"So what about me's remotely good-looking? I'm skinny as a rake and uncoordinated and my father says I look gormless."
"Yeah, you're very slim but you'll fill out and you're anything but uncoordinated. I bet the only guy in your school who's such a natural climber is old Hemline himself. And you don't look gormless, you just look thoughtful. When you got out of Hemline's car yesterday you looked worried as hell. That's why Ollie wanted to meet you - he wanted you to know you're among friends here."
"Thanks, Colin. I do feel so much better here. I've found something I can do and it's all thanks to you and Ollie and Dan."
"No, it's thanks to you. We've helped a bit but you've learnt fast and a few cuts and grazes haven't put you off and you're fun to chat with over a beer and just sometimes you give a little smile and it's a lovely smile. To cope with your life you must have inner steel and a lot of it. I really do want to be your friend - one of many friends."
"I wish Billy would say he wants to be my friend."
"Oh yes, Billy," said Colin, disappointed that James had changed the subject. "You were saying he has other problems."
"Yes, poor Billy. There's a boy in his dorm who tries to get into bed with him every night but he's an ugly boy and Billy isn't like that, if you know what I mean."
"Well, you've said before that Billy isn't exactly ugly so I assume you mean he's not into other boys...."
"No!" exclaimed James. "But he's bloody gorgeous! Oh hell - what've I said?"
"I think you said you've got a crush on him. It was Billy you were thinking about when you had your wank last night, wasn't it?"
"Yes and nobody else knows so you must be my friend now, Colin."
"Nothing would give me more pleasure," said Colin, now certain that James was gay and therefore worth nurturing. "Let's go back to the barn and have some tea. Old Hemline will want to tell us some tales."
Back in the barn boys were packing up the stuff and most were now out of their climbing gear and in their travelling clothes. When Colin and James arrived Ollie took one look at James and beckoned him over.
"Nasty gash on your leg," said Ollie. "I'm the first-aider so let's have a look at it. Sit on that bench, please."
Ollie was still in his tiny denim shorts and as James had his upper thigh examined and treated he had the pleasure of seeing Ollie's upper thigh at extremely close quarters. 'I'd only have to lean forward a couple of inches,' he thought, 'and I could kiss the top of Ollie's leg.
By the time Ollie had dressed the wound James had decided Ollie's bare legs were even nicer than Billy's and when it came to standing up he had an erection too massive for his skimpy PE shorts to hide so he quickly sat down again.
"Yeah, take it easy," said Ollie. "Tomorrow at school you'll be able to tell your mates you got that injury climbing on Stanage Edge! Now I'd better get changed."
"No you won't," said Dan loudly. "I want your scrumptious bare legs beside me all the way back to Sheffield!"
At this Ollie blushed deep red and went over to sort out his things. At Ollie's obvious embarrassment James's hard-on grew even harder.
Colin came over. "I can see you enjoyed Ollie's attention! Honestly, that boy's been responsible for more hard-ons than anyone alive. Best get back into your school uniform, James my boy."
Now, with his penis acting like a tent pole, it was James's turn to blush. He tried to collapse the tent with his hand. "Now you can see what I mean. If I get excited I risk exposing myself even in these shorts but my grey shorts are even shorter and my penis pops out the right leg - always the right leg - and it's almost impossible to force it back inside. Sometimes it happens in chapel when I've been looking at Billy. I have to get on my knees and pretend to be at prayer till I can get the damn thing in my shorts again."
"You poor thing. You can't exactly have a cold shower every time you see a beautiful boy like Billy - or Ollie. Oh hell, now I've got a bloody hard-on!"
"Yeah but you're OK - you've got jeans on. I don't even have any jeans. Will you shield me from the others while I get changed, please?"
"It'd be my honour."
Colin enjoyed giving James a bit of privacy while he quickly exchanged his PE kit for his school uniform, not that anyone was watching because Mr Hemerdon was preparing to recount some climbing stories. Colin saw that James's grey shorts were indeed shorter than his extremely skimpy PE shorts and much tighter, too. No wonder the poor boy was perpetually embarrassed. The prospect of sitting in front of Mr Hemerdon must have frightened James's penis into repose for by the time he was back in school uniform, minus cap, there was no sign of a tent. Colin hoped for James' sake that there'd be no more sensual thrills for the poor lad to cope with this afternoon.
The nine boys sat on benches ready for Mr Hemerdon's talk, all in jeans but for Ollie and James. The talk began with Mr Hemerdon brandishing his cane and asking if anyone wanted 'a stroke for the road.' Nobody spoke.
After a long pause Dan spoke up. "Young James, sir." James nearly had a fit - was he being offered by Dan as a candidate for the cane? "May I say something, sir? Stand up, James."
James stood up, nervously tugging at his shorts as he always did when rising to his feet.
Dan continued. "Consider yourself initiated into the Red Sky Club! Our youngest member yet! Now you might like to know that the last route you climbed today wasn't a Difficult – it was a Hard Very Difficult! You're a natural, my boy and we welcome you! We want to see lots more of you!"
'Yes,' thought Colin, 'I'd like to see much more of James. All of him, in fact.'
There was a rousing cheer for James. Everyone, even Mr Hemerdon, came and shook James by the hand and slapped him on the back. His chest swelled with pride, something that had never happened before. He'd been accepted by these university people and he'd done a Hard Very Difficult!
When everyone had settled down Mr Hemerdon began his climbing tales but James heard hardly a word - he was in a private little world and for once it was a happy one. He liked everyone in the barn more than anyone else he knew. Thoughts of Billy had evaporated. James half-closed his eyes and thought of Stanage Edge and especially of the climb which ended with him and Ollie tumbling onto the grass and having a cuddle. He even looked forward to the drive home with Mr Hemerdon.
But events hadn't quite finished. After Mr Hemerdon had finished his stories he surveyed the shining young faces before him and spoke.
"Very well, gentlemen, it's very nearly time to depart but my cane is restless and wants to give the birthday boy one swift stroke for the road. I see he's even taken the trouble to be dressed for the part."
With obvious reluctance Ollie stood up and everyone cheered. He looked around and slowly advanced to the table but before he'd reached it three or four of the boys were chanting "Shorts, shorts!" and knowing what that meant, Ollie stopped and putting both hands in his waistband heaved his denim shorts as high as he could. This had the appealing effect of revealing the lowest two inches of his gorgeous bottom, so white compared to the healthy brown of his thighs, on which the vicious red weals of last night were still very much in evidence. As he leant over the table tents appeared in the jeans of seven boys and in the tiny grey shorts of the eighth boy.
Mr Hemerdon dealt the blow and now a gasping Ollie had a second array of weals on his thighs, just a little below the first set.
"Well done, Oliver," said Mr Hemerdon. "Now you're really got something to show the boys at school tomorrow. They'll all know you've had a weekend with Mr Hemerdon!"
Dan went to lift Ollie upright and to give him a hug and as the unfortunate Ollie frantically rubbed his thighs he received cheers of congratulation from the happy bunch of lads, most of whom were still showing evidence of extreme arousal.
"Oh God, Colin, it's happened!" whispered James. Sure enough, his engorged penis had shot out of the right leg of his grey shorts.
"Nice big one you've got there!" said one of the boys, looking at poor James as he struggled to force his member back into his shorts.
'What a whopper!' thought Colin. 'What fun I could have with that one!' Then he went to put his arm round James's shoulder and told him not to be embarrassed. "It could happen to anyone."
"Hardly," said James, still fiddling with his whopper. "Nobody else has shorts like this."
Mr Hemerdon indicated to James that it was time to leave. There was just time to shake hands with Dan, Ollie and Colin, each of whom gave him a little hug.
"See you here again," said Ollie looking impossibly gorgeous. "The sooner the better!"
"Come on Ollie," said Dan. "Lots of us in the car so it looks like you'll be sitting on my lap all the way home!" Ollie blushed, yet again.
"I'll be in touch next week, James," said Colin. "We must do this again."
On the drive back to Nottingham James and Mr Hemerdon talked climbing for a while and then a bony hand landed on James's thigh.
"Please don't do that, sir."
Mr Hemerdon swiftly withdrew his hand. "Sorry old boy. Force of habit. You've grown up a lot this weekend, you know. I've been impressed. I'll be looking for potential prefects next term and your name is most likely to be on my list. I'll suggest to your father that you have some proper climbing gear. Would you like to meet the Sheffield boys again?"
"I'd love to, sir. I've never enjoyed a weekend so much."
"I thought so and I know they took to you. Leave it with me."
James had been back at school less than a week when he received two letters, each posted to the school and handed to him by Mr Hemerdon's secretary. The first to arrive was from Colin.
The second letter was from Ollie.
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