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Beauty in Blue

by Jolyon Lewes

Even after a fortnight, the weals on Michael's beautiful little bottom were still hurting. They were the legacy of the vicious caning he'd received from a particularly obnoxious prefect on the last night of term. This wretched youth had lusted after Michael for years but having failed to seduce him, or even to befriend him, had resorted to hurting the thing he loved, in other words to cane Michael whenever he had the chance and to cane him as hard as ever he could.

The Easter holidays of 1971 were halfway through. Michael was getting ready for bed. Before he put on his home pyjamas, the ones with the broad blue and white stripes, he looked at his bottom in the mirror. No broad, blue stripes there, thank heavens, but two whitish ridges running across both buttocks, tender to the touch. More painful were two thicker ridges, one on the crease where his bottom began and the other two inches lower down, shared between his two legs. The lower one had a bluish tinge and was still throbbing ten days after the awful event. Quietly cursing, Michael carefully pulled on his pyjama trousers. Tomorrow would be another day he'd choose not to wear those tight jeans of his.

Michael's mother was surprised by her son's decision to wear baggy khaki shorts rather than jeans. Ever since a little boy, he'd always preferred long trousers to shorts, as he'd never liked people to see his bare legs. Now, ten weeks short of his sixteenth birthday, Michael seemed happy to wear shorts, albeit quite long ones for 1971, reaching to mid-thigh.

Michael's father knew better. He'd attended the same boarding school himself and when he picked up Michael to drive him home to Sussex for the holidays he could tell from his own experience that by the way Michael was sitting, he'd recently been caned. On the way home, he stopped to buy Michael some brief, loose-fitting shorts of blue cotton, which would be nicer than school trousers of itchy, grey wool on such a warm, sticky day. Michael was less than thrilled because the blue shorts were very much shorter than he considered decent - he'd have been happier in his long grey trousers - but as he knew his father was trying to be kind he wore them without complaint.

Sitting beside his father in the car, Michael still couldn't get comfortable and eventually admitted he'd been caned. Father and son kept the caning from Michael's mother and father, of course, knew why his son had taken to wearing floppy khaki shorts for the holidays. Around the house Michael sometimes wore his new blue shorts but more out of gratitude than choice – they showed way too much bare thigh for his liking.

As Michael lay in bed he thought of Paul, who was seventeen and Michael's most ardent admirer, if you discount that vile prefect. Paul worshipped Michael. Scores of boys at the school, young and old, lusted after Michael but Paul's was a deep, romantic love for the sweet Fifth-former with rosebud lips and hazel eyes. Actually, Paul felt both love and lust but he was unrequited in both senses. In nearly two years he'd managed barely a dozen little cuddles and the closest he'd been to accessing Michael's private parts was during games of rugby.

To his enormous embarrassment, Michael had been one of the last boys in the Fifth Form to have been judged physically mature enough to qualify for a jockstrap. The headmaster had appointed the school chaplain, of all people, to rule on such matters, on the strength of his holding FA referee status. Any boy wishing to wear a jockstrap would apply to be inspected by the Perv in Black, as the chaplain was known by the boys. For ugly boys the inspection was cursory and permission was usually granted at once but the nicest-looking boys had to suffer regular, intimate inspections, only for permission to be withheld for months or even years, regardless of sexual development. Naturally, no other underwear was permitted beneath the shamefully skimpy PE shorts most boys below the Sixth Form were forced to wear for games. Offenders, if caught, could expect a caning. The only exceptions were for boys representing the school at rugby or football, who were permitted proper shorts. And jockstraps.

Back in the winter, Paul had played rugby with Michael, who was one of three boys in that rugby set still denied a jockstrap, despite being as well-developed as most boys of fifteen. Paul had therefore grabbed every opportunity to study at very close quarters those parts of Michael's body that really ought to have been tucked out of sight. He also relished the chance in a scrum or ruck to admire the smooth cheeks of Michael's partially exposed bottom and even to get his face close enough for a surreptitious lick of that muddy but delectable flesh.

Then, one wet and freezing afternoon, a boy unknown - certainly not Paul - bit Michael's bottom, leaving two great love-bites on the left buttock which caused hilarity when after the game all the boys were in the vast communal bath. Michael hated the communal bath at the best of times but when he was told what the source of hilarity was, he became deeply, deeply embarrassed. Paul was equally embarrassed as most people thought he'd done it. After that incident, Paul had lacked the nerve to get too close to his beloved, at least not during rugby.

It's not that Michael didn't like Paul - he liked him very much but purely in a platonic sense and although he didn't mind Paul's arm around his shoulder he wasn't ready for the relationship to become much more physical. Michael was disgusted by the crude attempts of many other boys, including the prefect, to attempt physical intimacy with him. He'd probably have felt the same if a girl were to try it on. In a nutshell, although not a prude, Michael regarded his body as private property, at least until the right person came along.

Michael had the right person in mind, and it wasn't Paul. It was an impossibly gorgeous Third-former called Freddie, a very slim boy with blue eyes, tumbling locks of curly, blond hair and, very much against his will, grey uniform shorts of insane brevity. Michael had helped Freddie out of a few scrapes and Freddie was certainly grateful but the friendship hadn't yet developed - not that Michael wasn't trying actively to promote it.

At home in Sussex, Michael was looking forward to the cricket season and to wearing long, white flannels instead of hopelessly inadequate PE shorts. Meanwhile, Freddie was with his parents in the Netherlands and Paul was at home in Yorkshire, anxiously wondering whether his latest invitation would bear fruit. It was for Michael to spend the end of the school holidays at Paul's parents' farm in Yorkshire.

Michael, meanwhile, was missing his dorm mates - and Freddie - and had been getting a bit lonely or, you might say, sexually frustrated. He thought if he could bear to wear his jeans again in a day or two, he'd be happy to go up to Yorkshire for a couple of days. He knew what Paul thought of him and as he lay in bed, with one hand inside his pyjama trousers, he thought of the things Paul might want to do with him. These thoughts gave him unexpected pleasure, the sort of pleasure that needs a handful of tissues to wipe away the evidence.

At home in Yorkshire, Paul Easterbrook was nervously waiting to hear whether Michael would consent to come north for a few days. He'd try to understand if Michael declined, especially as the prank that had led to Michael's caning had been Paul's idea. The prank had involved putting women's clothing on the headmaster's washing line: harmless, amusing but hardly worth four strokes of the cane.

Paul, too, had been caned and his bottom was still marked with weals and bruises. At the time he'd wished he could have had Michael's share as well. Paul couldn't bear the thought of a single hair on Michael's body being hurt. Not that there were any hairs on Michael's delectable little body, of course; only the fair ones that framed his angelic face and formed that sexy little fringe. There was also a full complement of fair hairs of a pubic nature.

Paul had been infatuated with Michael for almost two years. He wanted to be alone with his boy, to show him the farm and the surrounding countryside, to walk with him, to talk with him and – well – to look at him. And maybe more.

Months ago he'd bought some navy blue denim shorts for Michael; they were in his bedroom, waiting for the time Michael came to visit. Paul had cut off the hem on each leg and frayed the remaining edges, amusing himself every night by pulling away a few more threads. This process was steadily eating away at the legs and Paul would hold up the little blue shorts, noting how short they were gradually becoming and picturing what Michael would look like in them. Beauty in Blue, thought Paul, as he leapt into bed, switched off the light and settled down to a glorious wank.

Paul's mother noticed how withdrawn her son had become. She knew he'd invited a school friend home and wondered who this boy was, this boy that Paul clearly liked very much.

"Look, dear, if your friend can't come, I know your cousin Eric would love to have a couple of days here with you."

Eric, at fifteen, was a few months younger than Michael. He didn't go to boarding school but had read all the Jennings stories and always wanted to know the latest news from Paul's school. He had a fascination for dormitory beatings and although Paul said these things happened only rarely, Eric had convinced himself that life for a boarder was nothing but caning after caning.

It was arranged that Eric would come for the last four days of the holiday. Paul didn't mind. It would be company for him and he knew a brief glimpse of his now-fading weals would thrill Eric no end. Three days before Eric was due, there was a letter from Michael. His heart fluttering, Paul tore it open. Michael had agreed to come for the last three days of the holiday.

Paul didn't know what to think. He was simultaneously elated and depressed. Michael was coming! But so was Eric! Nothing would cramp Paul's style more than to have Eric grinning away when he spotted – as he surely would – Paul's true feelings for Michael. Eric was the sort of boy who never left you alone; he'd be hanging around all the time. Worse still, he would share Paul's room while Michael would have the guest room. Mrs Easterbrook would insist on it. For hapless Paul it would be little better than being at school – so near yet so far.

Paul hoped and hoped that Eric would cry off but Eric arrived precisely on schedule. He liked coming to the farm because as well as quizzing Paul about boarding school life, he could also have a go at driving the little Massey Ferguson tractor Paul had been driving for years. The farm, in the Vale of Mowbray, was mainly arable and the fields of young wheat formed swathes of bright green. There was also pastureland, where the boys could take the tractor without causing too much damage. But first, in Paul's bedroom, Eric asked about the canings.

"How many times you been caned this year, Paul?"

"Only once, a fortnight ago. I'm a sixth former, you know and it's very unusual for us to be caned."

"I wanna know all about it!" said Eric, his tongue hanging out. "And can I see the marks?"

Paul wished he hadn't told the truth but Eric would have pestered until he'd got it out of his cousin. The routine had been going on for five years. "I'll show you at bedtime, if you insist," said Paul, wearily. Was Eric really going to be around when Michael arrived?

At bedtime Eric sat on the twin bed next to Paul's – the bed that Paul had hoped Michael, not Eric, would be using. "Let's have a look, then."

Paul lowered his pyjama trousers to show Eric the fading weals. They hadn't hurt for over a week and Eric could only just see them. Just as he'd always done, he traced his forefinger over the lines on Paul's downy bottom and felt an erection growing. Paul had no such reaction and when he watched Eric changing for bed and trying to hide his erection, he was faintly repulsed by the coarse, dark hairs on Eric's chubby legs. 'Michael's older than Eric,' thought Paul, wistfully, 'but his legs are still as smooth as satin,' at which point Paul couldn't avoid an erection of his own, which he had to hide in case Eric got the wrong idea.

Next day, Eric helped Paul sweep the hard tennis court and then fix the net to its posts. The Easterbrooks' farm was that sort of farm – beautiful Queen Anne farmhouse, stable block, ornamental gardens, tennis court and two thousand acres of land. The day was warm and sunny; after lunch Mrs Easterbrook had some friends round and, all in immaculate tennis whites, they played the first tennis of the season.

Paul was now getting very nervous. Michael's train was due at Northallerton at five. Eric had fallen neither ill nor under the tractor so it was certain that he'd be around during Michael's stay. Paul would collect Michael from the station and hoped Eric would stay at home to watch TV. That would give Paul a precious half hour in private with Michael.

Just after four, Mrs Easterbrook said "Paul, dear; here are the keys to the Land Rover. And do take Eric, he'd love the drive."

Paul's heart sank as Eric raced to the vehicle and leapt in. "Cor, what's that pong?"cried the younger boy as Paul climbed into the driving seat.

"Just my aftershave," said Paul, blushing. His tummy was in knots. He got to the station well before the train was due and asked Eric to stay in the Land Rover. At least he would greet Michael without Eric watching.

As the train pulled in Paul could hardly cope with the tension. Would Michael be on the train, or would he have had a last-minute change of heart? Paul's anxiety evaporated the instant he saw that familiar, slim figure walking beguilingly along the platform carrying his suitcase. Michael was in his full school uniform. He even had his cap on. Paul thought the whole station would come to a standstill when everyone spotted the most beautiful boy in the world, especially when the boy saw Paul and gave that sexy little smile, his eyes crinkling in pleasure. Heart now in total meltdown, Paul advanced. "Oh, Michael, you've no idea how good it is to see you!"

Oh, how badly Paul wanted to take the dear boy in his arms and hug him for all he was worth but in the busy station it was highly inadvisable. He took Michael's case and led him to the Land Rover. After days of rehearsing what he'd say to Michael, he now found himself tongue-tied and it was Michael who did the talking: little inconsequential comments about his journey. At the car, Michael took off his cap and shook his head to let his hair fall down to form the fringe. Paul distinctly heard Eric say 'Cor!'

"Michael, this is my cousin Eric. He's going to travel in the back seat, aren't you , Eric?"

Eric said 'Hi' to Michael and climbed into the back of the Land Rover. Paul recovered his composure as he drove off. The twenty minute journey home passed with the three boys making polite conversation. How could Paul get Michael to himself? At the farm, Mrs Easterbrook, still in tennis whites, greeted Michael warmly and suggested he go and change out of his uniform at once. She asked Eric to help her organise some tea.

Paul took Michael to the guest room and waited while he took off his grey suit and black shoes. Paul prayed that Michael would put on some shorts but no, it was his tight jeans, a jazzy casual shirt and Hush Puppy suede shoes. Even with legs covered, Michael looked absolutely divine. Just as Paul leaned forward to ruffle Michael's hair, Eric clumped upstairs to announce that tea was served.

And that was how things were. For the rest of the evening, Paul and Michael had not a second to themselves. At dinner Paul's parents engaged their attractive young guest in small talk, which for Paul was agonising. These three days were so precious and polite conversation around the dinner table was time wasted. And Eric, poor lad, was so in the way. He couldn't help it. Paul wondered how long it would take Eric to ask Michael when he'd last been caned.

"Do you play tennis, Michael?" asked Mrs Easterbrook. "Tomorrow's forecast is good. We could have a little family tournament. Eric, you've brought your whites, haven't you? It would be lovely!"

"But Michael, wouldn't you like to have a go driving a tractor?" asked Mr Easterbrook."Tell you what: Paul can show you round the farm in the morning and introduce you to our smallest tractor. Then you could all play tennis after lunch."

Michael smiled in bewilderment. He was expecting just to muck about with Paul and maybe go for a walk, like they did at school. This was all too organised. He was too polite to do anything but accept what was being planned for him. And what was all this talk about tennis whites?

In bed that night, Michael wondered whether he'd get a visit from Paul. It would be a bit risky – the floorboards creaked – and heaven knows how Paul's parents would take to their son paying nocturnal visits to a younger boy, not to mention what Eric would think. Michael found himself sleeping alone.

Next morning, with Eric in close attendance, Paul gave Michael a tour of the farm and then they had some fun with the little Massey Ferguson. Michael had never driven anything with an engine and he learnt a lot. At lunch Mrs Easterbrook reminded everyone about the tennis. "We can play singles first and then the four of us can play doubles. All agreed? Then it's into whites straight after lunch!"

Michael had a stabbing pain in his tummy. He liked tennis but hadn't brought any tennis whites. All his sports kit was in his trunk which had been sent back to school. He'd be OK in his jeans, wouldn't he? His mother had made him pack those little blue shorts; surely he wouldn't have to wear those in front of strangers?

Yes, he would. Eric and Paul were in white shorts, so Michael felt obliged to wear his floppy little blue shorts. Paul lent him a white polo shirt, white plimsolls and long white socks. 'What a palaver,' Michael thought. 'It's only a game in the garden!' Eric's shorts reached halfway to his knees and Paul's were rather shorter but Michael's delicious thighs were almost totally exposed and, as we know, he was very shy about these things. He tingled with embarrassment.

From his pretty little face down to his toes Michael looked a treat. He'd pulled the white socks up neatly, the seams perfectly straight, and turned them down just below his knees. Unlike the many boys at school, like Freddie, who wore grey shorts all year round and sported tanned thighs, Michael had pale legs this early in the year. Contrasting with the brilliant white of the socks, however, his shapely thighs looked quite pink and very, very smooth. What you could see of Eric's legs was white and hairy, while Paul's downy legs had a faint tan. Michael was a feast for the eyes, at least for the eyes of those who appreciated such things and Paul was a true connoisseur. Paul's shorts, luckily for him, were sufficiently capacious to disguise the erection he nursed for much of the afternoon.

After the tennis, Michael assumed he'd be able to put on his jeans again but Mr Easterbrook had other ideas. He'd been to market and hadn't had time for all his jobs so he called the boys as they left the tennis court.

"Boys, would you like to put the bullocks out to pasture? It's always a laugh. You can go as you are. Take the pickup, Paul and a couple of bottles of cider. See you at seven!"

Paul drove the pickup along a rutted track to a barn beside the river Swale, nearly a mile from the farmhouse and with Michael squeezed delightfully close to him, he was able legitimately and often to brush Michael's right thigh with his left hand. First contact!

Paul said the bullocks had been kept in the barn up to now but the pasture was now ready for them and they'd spend the rest of the summer eating fresh grass, before heading for the abattoir. Having checked all other gates were closed, Paul let the bullocks out of the barn and told Michael he'd enjoy what happened next. The beasts hurtled into the pasture and mayhem broke out. Having been standing about in the barn for so long they were like prisoners suddenly released or, as Paul said, schoolboys at the end of term. They charged around the field in great excitement, more or less together as if they were racing. Sometimes, one would get frisky and mount one of his mates. "As I said," muttered Paul, out of Eric's earshot, "just like schoolboys."

"I've got to watch them for a bit," said Paul, "looking for any that might be lame or whether one goes off and does his own thing. That can be a sign he's not well. So let's get the cider opened and have some fun."

Michael and Eric laughed their heads off at the antics of the bullocks and Paul poured three mugs of cider. In time the bullocks calmed down and discovered there was nice new grass to eat. The boys were chatting.

"So, Michael, when were you last caned?" asked Eric.

"Well, um, if you must know, it wasn't that long ago. Three weeks, actually."

"Can I see the marks?"

Paul butted in. "Michael wouldn't want to show you ! Anyway, they'll have gone by now."

" Yours haven't!" protested Eric.

"They nearly have," said Paul, hoping Michael would say his had vanished days ago.

"No, mine haven't," said Michael. "Far from it. Anyway, why the interest, Eric? Haven't you ever been caned?"

"No – at least – not yet."

"Well, if you've never been caned why would you want to see what it looks like afterwards?" asked Michael. "Unless it's in the interests of research, of course."

"Pardon?" said Eric.

"I think he's hinting you should feel what it's like to be caned," said Paul, pouring some more cider. He leant on the fence and watched the herd.

Michael and Eric were lying in the warm sun and Michael must have forgotten himself for he drew his knees up and his little blue shorts fell back to reveal his gorgeous thighs in their magnificent entirety. Paul turned to look and his heart leapt as he glimpsed Michael's white briefs. The low sun illuminated the bluish ridge at the top of each of Michael's thighs. Those marks still looked very angry and Paul wanted to kiss that poor, bruised flesh. Oh, how he wanted the boy!

The cider went down, the sun shone, the bullocks grazed and the chat remained firmly on canings. Eric now knew how the prank had gone wrong, how Paul was beaten by a schoolmaster and how Michael was dealt with by the prefect. Michael realised he'd been subconsciously running his fingers over the weals on his thighs and quickly got to his feet, blushing vividly. Paul, of course, had been observing this with rapt attention and Eric had been closely observing Paul.

As Michael stood there, tugging his shorts down to hide the weals, Paul challenged Eric to submit to a caning. "I think I can find some equipment in the barn."

Then Michael blurted out "Tell you what, Eric, I'll let you see my marks if you let me cane you!"

Eric couldn't wriggle out of this and a minute later the boys were in the barn. Paul was waving an old riding crop used for reminding cattle which way to go. Eric was told he had to be caned on the bare or it 'wouldn't be right.' He complained that a riding crop wasn't a cane but Paul said it would feel the same, so Eric sheepishly lowered his long, white shorts and arranged himself over some handy bales of straw. He wore no underpants.

"You'd better go first, Paul," said Michael. "You need the practice if you're going to be a prefect next year."

Paul told Eric to get ready. "You normally get shouted at a lot before you bend over so you're having it easy, cousin!"

WHACK! The crop was pretty much like a cane. Paul's aim was true and he whacked Eric square on the bottom. Eric gasped and his hands flew to his buttocks.

"Hands off!" yelled Paul. "Do that again and you get an extra whack!"

WHACK! This was a harder stroke and Eric emitted a little squeak of pain after his gasp. He managed to keep his hands still but shuffled about on his feet.

"Stay down! There's more to come!" yelled Paul.

WHACK! Paul had struck Eric's bottom three times in roughly the same place and Michael was impressed. Eric was impressed too – with the pain he felt. He hadn't expected it to be that bad yet he was sure his cousin wasn't whacking him as hard as he could.

"You can stand up now, and pull your shorts up," said Paul.

Eric's eyes were watering as he got himself dressed. His bottom was really stinging. "Cor! If that's what you get I'm glad I don't go to your flippin' school!"

"That's nothing," said Paul, "I wasn't even trying."

"OK, Eric," said Michael. "You can look at my bum now but only if I can whack you afterwards."

Eric didn't want any more pain but curiosity got the better of him. "OK, Michael, let's have a look. A proper look, mind. I reckon I've earned it."

Michael stood demurely facing away from Eric, legs close together. He unfastened his shorts and slid them and his briefs down just far enough to reveal his bottom. Then he hitched up the polo shirt to give Eric an unhindered view. The pale ridges were plain to see and were more raised than the ones Eric had seen on Paul's bottom. "Cor!"

Paul, of course, was wrestling with certain activity taking place inside his tennis shorts. Eric bent down to study the marks on Michael's otherwise perfect bottom.

"Cor!" said Eric, again. "They must have been awful when they were new."

"The others were even worse," said Michael, lowering his briefs and shorts a bit further. "The ones on your legs are always the worst."

Eric exclaimed again as he saw the cruel marks on Michael's thighs. "Cor!" This time he couldn't help touching and his fingers played softly on the pale, hairless skin. "I could see these ones when you were running around the tennis court!"

Michael blushed as he heard this and he quickly pulled his briefs and shorts up again and tucked in the polo shirt. Choosing to ignore that last remark, he turned to Eric. "See what I mean? Those ones were hell for days after. Now it's your turn. Shorts down, please."

Paul was impressed with Michael's assertiveness. As Eric went obediently to the straw bales Michael picked up the crop and dealt some mighty swipes to a convenient sack of cattle feed. "Just practising," he said, with a cheeky grin.

WHACK! The first stroke to Eric's bare bottom hit right in the middle, making Eric squeak at the sudden return of searing pain.

"Right," said Michael. "I want your bum a lot higher than that," and he rearranged Eric so that he was nearly bent double and presenting a far better target.

WHACK! Right onto the crease. Eric shrieked. "That's enough!"

"No," said Michael firmly. "One more and that'll be it." He surveyed the plump white bottom with its population of dark hairs and took aim.

Paul, watching intently, was well impressed with Michael's technique, wondering whether there'd been caning practice in the Fifth-form dorm that had somehow escaped his notice.

WHACK! An inch below the crease. Eric reared up and clutched the lower part of his bottom, rubbing and kneading and seemingly unaware that tears were dashing down his cheeks and that his willy was stiffening. Michael shook his hand and Paul put an arm round his shoulder, saying "Well done, cousin. Now you've joined the club!" Looking down, he added "In more ways than one!"

Realising he was erect, Eric hastily pulled his shorts up and said "Oh hell, is that normal?"

"Yeah, lots of boys find it an arousing experience," said Paul.

"Well, I bloody don't!" said Michael.

Eric picked up and examined the crop. He began to look distinctly pleased with himself and grinned at the other two rather suggestively.

"Ha! Don't even begin to think you can have a go at whacking us! " said Paul. "Let's go and finish that cider."

Out in the sun again, the boys chatted about canings, Eric showing a good deal more respect now that he'd felt it for himself. Michael nipped round the back of the barn for a pee. Paul watched him departing with yearning in his eyes.

Eric coughed to draw Paul's attention. "Paul, now we're alone I wanna say something. It's obvious I'm in the way. You want Michael all to yourself, don't you?"

"Christ! Is it that obvious?"

"From the moment he arrived. You couldn't keep your eyes off him, then - or now. And I've seen your hard-ons! I don't blame you – he's flipping fantastic! He's a real cracker! Look, I'll go home in the morning, OK? Just take me to Thirsk and I can get the bus."

"Oh, Eric...." Paul was cringing in embarrassment.

"Cousins' honour, Paul. Not a word to our parents about the caning or your –er – thing with Michael."

"Cousins' honour, Eric," said Paul, shaking hands with Eric.

Eric travelled back to the farmhouse standing in the back of the pickup as sitting wouldn't have been very comfortable. As Paul drove slowly along the track he was smiling happily.

"Eric's got to go home after breakfast, so it'll be just you and me, Michael. See those hills over there? What say we do that walk I've been promising?" He glanced over to see Michael's reaction. It looked positive. "And we could take my tent and make a night of it."

Michael said "Yeah!" and gave a smile of such dazzling radiance that Paul nearly drove off the track into a pond. That gave Paul an idea.

It's noon the next day. High up on the Cleveland Hills there walked two boys, each in a blue T-shirt and with a rucksack on his back. The taller and slightly stouter one was in fetchingly brief, cream-coloured shorts and walking boots, while the younger, slimmer and prettier one, who wore plimsolls, was in blue cotton shorts of daring brevity. Michael would much rather have been wearing his jeans but he'd fallen off stepping stones crossing a little river and his jeans were dangling from his rucksack to dry.

"Good job you brought those shorts, Michael. Jeans take ages to dry."

It won't surprise you to know that Paul, who knew how long it took jeans to dry, had carefully chosen the route to include those slippery stepping stones.

The boys were following the course of the Lyke Wake Walk but planned to cover only a few miles, the object being not an endurance test but a chance to be alone together and to admire the far–reaching views. Now they sat on a rock, looking through binoculars at the farm, twenty miles away in the Vale of Mowbray.

"If you can find the Swale," said Paul, "Follow it to the right until you see our barn, where Eric learnt about caning last night."

After enjoying the view, Michael wasn't embarrassed to lie on the grass in the sunshine, knees drawn up, knowing that only Paul was there to see what he now called the Blue Ridge.

"You make it sound like a mountain range," said Michael, rubbing it.

"Well, it's certainly a topographical feature," replied Paul, settling down beside his friend and plucking a long piece of grass to tickle Michael's bare thigh. Michael punched his friend playfully on the arm.

Later, at another viewpoint, Paul pointed out a strangely-shaped, outlying hill to the north. It had a lopsided, conical look. "That's Roseberry Topping."

"Sounds like a pudding you'd get at school, at Sunday lunch," said Michael. That sparked a conversation about school. "I suppose I'll be in for more canings next term."

"I do hope not ," said Paul. "But it'll be fun to see the new school rules in operation. You know, the ones about uniform."

"Oh yeah, all Third-formers and below back into shorts. No exceptions. And the Head's said they've got to be cut really short, like Freddie's! They're not going to like it at all." Michael felt an erection coming, as he pictured the delectable Freddie in his tiny grey shorts.

"And all Fourth-formers from September," said Paul, "and F ifth- formers from next year, so Freddie'll be in shorts till he's sixteen! "

"Poor Freddie," said Michael, his erection tenting his shorts so blatantly he had to sit down in case Richard noticed. "What if the Perv in Black won't let him have a jockstrap till he's my age? Poor Freddie!"

"Or my age!" said Paul. "It's happened before so it could happen again! That pervert ought to be locked up! But I'm thinking of all those bare thighs and all those cane marks yet to come! Ridges everywhere! And talking about ridges..." Paul leapt onto Michael and started to tickle him on the back of his thighs where the Blue Ridge lay.

There was much giggling, tickling, general thrashing about and mutual arousal. Suddenly Michael yelled "Stop! Stop it, Paul! I've had an accident!"

Paul pulled away to see Michael staring in horror at the large, dark stain on the front of his blue shorts.

"I should spank you for that!" Paul's handsome face broke into a manic grin. He now knew he wouldn't have to find any more slippery stepping stones. "You're not coming with me looking like that!"

"I think I have just come with you, Paul," said Michael, feeling thoroughly embarrassed.

Paul laughed, then said "You'll have to take 'em off!"

"But my jeans are still soaking!"

"I think I may have the answer." Paul dug into his rucksack and produced a little plastic bag. He gave it to Michael. "I was going to give these to you later. A present from me."

Michael pulled out the tiny blue denim shorts with the frayed legs. The shop's label was still attached. "I can't wear these – they've got no legs!"

"Look, Michael, I've wanted you to have these for months. Won't you wear them just for me? There's nobody else about to see."

"Oh Paul, thank you but I'd look indecent."

"Not as indecent as you look right now."

Michael had no choice. He asked Paul to look away and he pulled off his soiled shorts and briefs, using them to mop his willy dry. Then he climbed into the denims. They were a perfect fit – at least as far as Paul was concerned. Snugly enclosing Michael's sweet little bottom, bar the lowest half inch, the denim shorts contained Michael's private parts securely, moulding them to form a pleasing bulge at the front. His thighs, of course, were entirely bare.

"You look fantastic!" breathed Paul. "Honestly, Michael, you don't need underwear with those. They're perfectly decent, more or less. And bloody fantastic! "

Certainly the shorts felt good, thought Michael, just so long as nobody else caught sight of him. There was no danger of the shorts pressing on the Blue Ridge. "Just a moment," said Paul, pulling out his penknife, "I'll just cut off the Millets label." He had to put one hand on Michael's hip as he cut off the tag. He still had a massive tent in his cream shorts.

"God, Paul, I'm so sorry about all that," said Michael. "You must think I lust after Freddie."

"Well, I don't blame you – he's gorgeous. But I still think you need spanking!"

Paul's comments defused the situation. Michael giggled sweetly and walked on, unaware of how incredibly sexy he looked. Paul took to walking a couple of paces behind him to enjoy the view. He decided the left leg would be further improved if he pulled out several more threads. A group of walkers passed by; Michael didn't realise that they'd all looked back to stare at him. One young man, who'd clearly seen the Blue Ridge, said 'Wow!' and gave Paul a meaningful look.

The boys walked on. In dirty plimsolls, white socks, blue T-shirt and those astonishing denim shorts, Michael truly was Beauty in Blue. Paul thought it would be a good title for a poem. He shivered suddenly. He hadn't noticed that the sun had gone in and a big black cloud was approaching from the southwest. Michael stopped to heave a navy blue windcheater from his rucksack. With that on, zipped right up to his neck, the denim shorts looked even more shockingly inadequate. A chilly wind was making his smooth, bare legs look pinker by the minute. Paul urgently wanted to be beside those wonderful legs, in the tent, rubbing them warm.

"We should find a spot to camp soon," said Paul, knowing of a perfect place about twenty minutes away, well clear of the trail and any habitation.

Once the tent was up, Michael inspected his jeans: still soaking wet.

"You'll catch your death in those," said Paul. "We can get warm in the tent and have a hot drink." The two crawled into the tent while outside the Primus heated same water for tea.

"Um, Paul, I think I'm besotted with Freddie. D'you think it's terribly wrong?"

"Course not – he's bloody scrumptious and anyway, he's not that much younger than you. But how can I possibly judge you, Michael? For God's sake, how do you think I feel about you ?" There. He'd said it. No stopping now. "Look, you little sausage, I love you more than anything or anyone in the world!"

"Gosh! I mean ... gosh!" Michael looked at Paul, sitting cross-legged in the little tent. He looked so kind – but worried too. Michael looked intently at Paul. Softly he said "I sort of knew, I s'pose. That's why I'm here. I wasn't really thinking about Freddie when I – you know - had my little accident. I used him as a excuse. I was really thinking about us. You and me."

Paul relaxed and moved over to clasp his friend. There was a hug. The lack of headroom in the tent meant it was easier to do the hugging lying down. Then the kissing started. No words were necessary. Paul knew it would be a cold night and much better if the two shared a sleeping bag. But first, he wanted to rub Michael's legs warm. As he got to work, he spared a thought for dear Eric, who'd had the decency to go home. Now the evening and the night to follow was for Paul and his beloved Michael, just the two of them. Paul felt delirious with joy.

A little later Michael crawled out of the tent to turn off the Primus. Tea could wait. He turned his face to the sky and felt a couple of big, soft raindrops on his cheek. "Paul," he said. "Somebody loves us. It's raining kisses."

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