by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 3

Messrs. Noall & Achilles

The opinions of Massive Martha's scrawny anthropologist tumbled around in Sebastian's head all weekend.

On Monday he waited till lunchtime and approached the Principal as he wandered the grounds checking for smokers. Mr. Noall was a lean and handsome man of sixty-four, not at all impatient for retirement, being one of those rare people who truly love their work. A distracted frown, brusque manner, and clipped speech preserved his sanity by deterring self-important pettiness, while amusing his few true friends. He was a scrupulously impartial observer of both teachers and pupils and, with the invaluable assistance of his wife's daily spying through binoculars from their verandah, knew more about them than they did themselves.

Mr. Noall was unashamedly human and accepted with equanimity both his and other peoples' faults along with any virtues. Wisely, he seldom put anything in writing and thus managed to avoid failures. Success, on the other hand, was a burden he was always prepared to shoulder.

Mt Hurmese Boys Grammar was one of the few socially successful results of the government's support for private schools. Whereas most of these so-called educational establishments had become examination factories and grooming grounds for organised religion, Mt Hurmese was belligerently secular and broad in outlook. Situated in the heart of the most prestigious of the city's garden suburbs, its astronomically high school fees ensured that only the obscenely wealthy had access to its small classes, cutting edge electronics, science, art and everything else. While other fee-paying schools were touting for pupils overseas and becoming co-educational to increase profits, the extremely well heeled parents of Mt Hurmese did not think it necessary to share their fortune with less favoured families. One hundred and thirty-two pupils was just about right, the School Board of Governors reckoned.

Sebastian had never questioned how his mother, the manager of a small, downtown employment agency, could afford the fees. On the odd occasion when he'd pondered the question he assumed she had inherited money.

The Principal had taken an instant delight in the shirtless and inquisitive thirteen year-old who, unaccompanied by an adult, had registered for classes on the first day. Normal procedures requiring parental presence had been waived on presentation of a brief note from Desolé claiming sickness, and a cheque for her son's first two years' instruction. This colossal amount of money would earn multi bucks for the school's general purposes fund, so was gratefully and unquestioningly accepted.

Sebastian recognised a kindred spirit in the Principal and their relationship quickly became one of familiar, but not overt friendship, which was remarkable because Mr. Noall guarded his personal privacy as assiduously as he ferreted out the secrets of others. Not that he had the slightest objection to teachers becoming friends with pupils—quite the reverse! He deplored any tendency of staff and pupils to consider themselves on opposite sides of the educational fence. It was his opinion that teachers, in their life-long search for knowledge and wisdom, have as much to learn from pupils as pupils have from them, so placing themselves on pedestals is counterproductive.

The respect he enjoyed from both parents and teachers was such that he was trusted to act like a benign dictator, hiring only male teachers who were in agreement with his philosophy.

Mr. Noall watched his protégé approach and bestowed one of his rare smiles.

Sebastian's responding grin enlivened the Principal's day.

'Sir, I was talking to an anthropologist recently who said too much modesty was dangerous for society.'

'His justification?'

Sebastian outlined Lysander's arguments.

Mr. Noall considered them and grunted, 'Makes sense.'

'The school pool is private, so why do we have to wear togs to swim?'

'You don't.'

'We don't?'

'We didn't when I was a student here. It's as your anthropologist acquaintance said, idiotic middle-class morality.' The sneer on the words 'middle-class' was worthy of a great actor–which, like all good teachers, Mr. Noall was. 'Over the years, Principals gave in to parents' increasingly puritanical notions about nudity and sin, so by the time I took the reins it was a fait accompli and everyone unquestioningly wore clothes when swimming. Mad. On the other hand, it will amuse you to know that there's no rule saying students must wear clothes at all at school.'

Sebastian looked his astonishment.

'The parents' association when I first took over, was full of SNAGs, sensitive new-age guys who decided to abolish school uniforms. They were not expert law-writers, so the appropriate school rule simply says, and I quote: "From the date of this meeting, clothing for both pupils and teachers is optional". I realised at the time that it didn't say what they intended, but as a dedicated weekend nudist myself, I happily signed it into the School Rule Book.' His self-satisfied smile made Sebastian laugh.

'Brilliant! So I can swim naked this afternoon?'

'If you want.'

'And I can go to class nude?'

'Except for a few wet, cool days, you have never worn more than skimpy running shorts and sandals in the four years you've graced this establishment. I don't think you even own a proper shirt. Do you really want to plonk your naked bum on seats other boys have been farting into?'

'No thanks! But how about at the sports next week?'

'No, that's a public place on that day, so you have to obey State laws which demand you cover your bits.'

'Pity. But at least I can swim naked. Should I warn Mr. Sprague?'

'Why?' The Principal's smile was sly. 'What time is your swimming class?'

'Last period.'

'Damn, I forgot my togs.' Sebastian was searching through his knapsack in the pool changing room. 'To hell with it, I'll swim naked.'

'You wouldn't dare.'

'Wanna bet?' He stripped.

'Fuck! You've shaved your pubes!'

'Like it? The cheeky response got a laugh and no one dared comment further in case someone thought they were queer.

Mr. Sprague stared at the twenty-three young men lined up on the side of the pool and was about to give instructions when he noticed Sebastian.

'Sebastian, where are your togs?'

'Forgot them, Sir.'

'Then you can't swim.'


'No buts.'

At that moment the Principal bustled into the pool area, apparently unaware that he'd dropped a folder by the gate.

'Old man Noall's here, Seb,' someone whispered. 'Now you're for it!'

Ignoring the students, the Principal walked briskly up to Mr. Sprague, stopped and rifled irritably through the bundle of papers he was carrying. 'Damnation! Where's that…' He swung round, saw the dropped folder in the gateway, turned to Sebastian and snapped, 'Get that folder and be quick about it!'

Sebastian ran and picked it up, returned at a sprint and handed it to the Principal, who barely nodded before turning back to the swimming teacher.

'Mr. Noall, Sir!' one of the students called. 'Sebastian's naked.'

Mr. Noall turned, studied the fellow and with testy tongue hissed, 'Cruikshank, speak when you're spoken to. And what are those things you're wearing?'

'My swimming togs, Sir.'

'No they're not! They're death traps. Great bags of material that fill with water and would drown you if you fell overboard.' He gazed around venomously. 'The only boys I see who are ready for swimming are Charles and Reginald in their speedos, and Sebastian in his skin. The rest of you look ridiculous and would drown if caught in a rip.'


'You disagree?'


'I'll prove it. You'll each swim one length in your baggies, and a second length nude. No cheating by deliberately slowing down on the second lap.'

Shocked mutters and no one moved.

'You get changed in front of each other for all sports, the pool is private, what's the matter with you men?'

That was the smart word—men. As 'men' they dared.

Mr. Sprague irritably produced another three stop-watches for Sebastian, Charles and Reginald, and, as Mr. Noall predicted, the lap times when swimming naked were markedly superior. Furthermore, what everyone thought but no one admitted, swimming was not only easier but more fun, and the water felt great flowing past groins and thighs. When the students were told to spend the remaining time swimming lengths because Mr. Noall had to speak to their teacher, no one put on their baggies.

'What did you want?' Mr. Sprague snapped aggressively as they walked towards the office.

'I wanted to tell you that you're a fine teacher, but so bad tempered and unpleasant you're causing stress to both staff and pupils. Therefore, I think it is time for you to find another school.'

'You can't!'

'I can. Unless…'


'You're twenty-eight.' Mr. Noall stated apropos of nothing.

If he was surprised by this change of tack the P.E. teacher didn't show it. 'Twenty-six.'

'Bad temper makes you look older. No wife. No Girl friend…'

Mr. Sprague clamped his mouth shut.

As if unaware of the mutiny brewing, the Principal continued blithely. 'Who's the best kid out there?' indicating the pool.

Without hesitation Mr. Sprague snapped, 'Charles!'

'Charles is the pool and gymnasium monitor and you spend a great deal of time alone with him during and after school. It is obvious that you like each other. Furthermore, Charles hangs on your every word and gesture. He wears a speedo exactly like yours and cuts his hair the same way.' Mr. Noall smiled benignly and asked gently, 'Is your relationship sexual?'

'No!' exploded Sprague with such force the swimmers looked up.

'Why on earth not?' Mr. Noall asked as if shocked. 'The lad is seventeen and legal, and you're both obviously crazy about each other.'

'But that would be… Are you telling me I should…?' Sprague spluttered to silence.

'Are you stupid as well as unpleasant? It wouldn't be unusual. I had an affair with my Latin teacher when I was seventeen; she was petite and wore six-inch heels. Quite the best thing that had happened to me until then. Set me on the path to happiness.'

'How do you know these things?'

'I've a third eye.'

'Why don't you mind your own damned business!'

'It is my business to care for staff, pupils and school, so I need to know everything relevant.'

During this altercation, Charles, worried that his mentor might be in trouble, got out of the pool and hovered indecisively as if ready to come to his hero's aid. He was a tall fellow, solidly built, swimmers shoulders, close-cropped light blond hair, blue eyes and a determined mouth. Not handsome, but then neither was Sprague. Youth and fitness were their strengths.

'So here's my ultimatum,' the Principal continued calmly. 'Take Charles to bed and do whatever makes you both happy. If after a few days of this you change from a bad tempered oaf I want to get rid of, to a pleasant young teacher, then you can stay. However, as you obviously realise, the experiment demands absolute discretion. As far as I know I'm the only one who has divined your relationship, and while Charles is a pupil it must remain a secure secret. Agreed?'

Mr. Sprague remained speechless so the Principal beckoned Charles.

'Charles, how much do you like Mr. Sprague?'

Charles' eyes grew round and moist as he gazed in abject fear at the Principal. With his retrousse nose he looked like a sentimental pig.

'Very much, I think,' Mr. Noall said with a gentle smile.

'Yes, Sir,' the lad whispered.

'Well, he has just confessed that he feels exactly the same about you, so after the lesson I want you to wait for Mr. Sprague in his office and he will explain the situation. What he has to say is very personal so I hope you will not be shy?'

'No Sir.'

'Good lad.'

The following afternoon, buoyed by the knowledge that, technically speaking, clothes at Mt Hurmese Grammar were optional, Sebastian decided to broach the subject with Mr. Achilles, his wrestling teacher.

When karate classes had taken over the gymnasium, and with it all the other wrestling hopefuls, Achilles and his sole remaining pupil cleared a hundred and twenty years of junk from a surprisingly large room under the main stairs, cleaned the drain of the small washbasin, placed a couple of rubber mats in the centre, put a secure lock on the door, and created a private and perfect space to wrestle—as long as they remembered where the stairs were and didn't bang their heads on standing.

'Mr. Achilles, we're doing Graeco-Roman wrestling, right?'

'Sort of.'

'They wrestled naked.'

'They also punched, kicked, grabbed hold of their opponents balls, gouged eyes and tried to kill each other.'

'Did they?'


'Kill each other?'

'Sometimes. Mainly during intercity games'.

'But... with the boys and young men in the Gymnasium it wasn't like that?'


'And they were naked.'

'All sports were done in the nude.'

'Then so should we.'


'You agree?' Sebastian's surprise showed.

'Your swimming pool escapade is the staffroom gossip topic of the week. Mr. Noall clearly supports you, so why shouldn't I? But first I'd like to know why you like to bare all. You cycle to school in nothing but shorts and sandals, and that's what you wear all day, every day. I've never seen you wear a shirt or long trousers. You now swim naked in the school pool, even at the lunchtime free-for-all today. And a young man who sounds very much like you was swimming at the public pool on the other side of town wearing nothing but a tiny yellow pouch.'

'Who saw me?' Sebastian demanded.

'My cousin is a pool guard there.'

'With a seahorse tattooed on his shoulder and a butterfly on his bum?'

'The seahorse, yes. I've no idea what he's got on his buttock. How do you know?'

Sebastian grinned and changed the subject. 'You wonder why I like being naked. It feels good.'

Not to be deterred, Achilles persisted. 'What did you and Ari do?'


'He has a wife.'

'That's his problem. As for being naked,' Sebastian continued, determined to get off this potentially hazardous topic, 'I think I also want to test people.'

'Test them?'

'Yeah. People seem to like me, but will they also like me if I'm doing something most people don't do? Something that is considered weird or rude, like running around naked.'

'So you want people to like you?'

'Not really. After all, I don't like many people so why should they like me? It's just fun doing things to make them like me and then seeing how far I can go before they drop me.'

'Has anyone ever dropped you?'

'No, and that's odd don't you reckon?'

'No. They simply don't see you as competition—you're too… different.'

'As in strange, ugly, deformed, abnormal?'

'As far as looks go you could never be called handsome with that large hooked nose and hooded eyes, one slightly lower than the other. On the plus side you've a strong jaw and an amused mouth. Good thick hair. Slippery eyes.'

'Slippery? What's that supposed to mean?'

'It means you're impossible to pin down. For example at the moment I can't tell if you're serious or having me on. Most people's eyes give them away but you keep people guessing. I think that's part of your charm.'

'So I'm charming?'

'Only in the sense of casting a spell. It has something to do with your energy and enthusiasm; the way you involve people when talking to them… I don't know. Your individual bits are nothing to write home about, but the sum of the parts is a winner. I've watched teachers and kids talking to you. They don't really listen, they just watch you and smile as if mesmerised. And if you haven't put a spell over Mr. Noall then my names not Conias Achilles.'

'We're friends.'

'Sure; a seventeen year old pupil and a sixty-four year old Principal who let's him do whatever he wants.'

'Having demolished my face, how about the body?'

'You'd never win a bodybuilder competition but you're lean and firm with a permanently tanned smooth skin. You're obviously fit and strong. Good shoulders and slim hips. Excellent legs, tight bum and gigantic balls.'

'You've noticed?'

'I thought you were wearing water wings between your legs in the pool at lunchtime.'

'Does that mean you like me?'

'Do you care?'


'I like you enough to keep wrestling.'

'Would you still like me if you knew I got a sexual thrill thinking about wearing my yellow thing in public, swimming naked at school, and wrestling naked with you?'

'I'd assumed that would be the case. After all, the only things you don't normally expose are your genitals, so it must be a thrill to expose them.'

'It's only thinking and planning that's sexy. While I'm doing something it just feels completely normal. Not sexy at all. I wasn't thinking of having sex with you, by the way, just wrestling.'

Achilles was silent and Sebastian wondered if he was disappointed at not being considered a potential sex partner. Too bad. If he wanted sex then he had to be a bit more like his cousin.

There was, of course, much more to Sebastian's behaviour than he was prepared to divulge, or even realised himself. Apart from school he had led a solitary, lonely life, the only visitors to their house being adult strangers who usually took no interest in him. To compensate for real friends he had devoured books, starting with the Grimm Brothers and advancing swiftly through junior adventure to strong adult stuff, especially quality crime fiction.

Recently, his life had been enhanced by the wondrous manic violence and cutting social commentary of Christopher Brookmyre's first eight novels, and of course the internet where he swapped ideas and dreams with hundreds of people on forums.

When he was twelve he'd asked a teacher about the meaning and purpose in life, so the well-intentioned woman lent him a book on Western Philosophy that Sebastian read with increasing dismay. All the 'wise men' in the book he read based their advice on the assumption that there is a perfect, supernatural being that is in charge of everything, and our sole purpose, apart from staying alive long enough to breed, is to worship the being and unquestioningly do whatever we are told to do by his representatives on earth, who get their instructions via prayer and an old book.

There was quite a bit more to it than that, of course, but the precocious young lad rejected both assertions as silly, and decided to work out for himself how to live, by emulating characters in fictional literature. He read avidly and loved stories in which bad guys who embodied avarice, fear, cruelty and lack of empathy, were defeated by heroes who, despite having been born with the same instincts and faults as everyone else, managed to lift themselves above the common herd and be brave, decent, honest, just, and merciful.

An astute observer of other humans, Sebastian had become increasingly contemptuous of the difference between the behaviour of most people he met, and the fictional characters he admired. Where were honesty, strength, endurance, generosity, and gentleness? Why did so few people take good care of their bodies? Why were most of the people he met overweight, unfit, fearful of difference, terrified of doing anything unusual or giving an honest opinion? They didn't even dare to stick up for themselves, preferring to sacrifice their individuality to be accepted by a group.

Although contemptuous of their fears, he understood that caution and respect for danger is essential, because foolhardy daring often results in disaster. Inevitably, he had developed a healthy scorn for those who believed in super heroes, magical powers, ghosts and all other wishful thinking.

'Do you often have sex with strangers like Ari?' Achilles demanded brusquely, interrupting Sebastian's reverie.

He dragged his thoughts back to the present. 'Sorry, Sir, what was that?'

Achilles repeated the question.

Sebastian's grin was cheeky. 'Only if they're sexy—or it's my duty.'

'Duty! When has it ever been your duty to have sex with strangers?'

Sebastian smiled grimly. He'd deliberately said duty to provoke that response. He'd been itching to tell someone about the 'guests' for a long time, but couldn't just drop it into a conversation. He really needed to know what a decent man thought of it. Con was decent and Sebastian admired him, so this was his chance. Calmly, so as not to sensationalise, he outlined the arrangement he and his mother had with Mr. Farzdbuk. 'So you see, it's a form of therapy for them and they're all nice guys so it's no penance.'

The silence became oppressive so an increasingly worried Sebastian continued.

'Jack, the bloke who brings them, explained it like this. For the first two or three hundred thousand years humans lived in small family tribes. The men would sometimes be away for days or weeks and would sleep with each other. Once you've been fucked or have fucked your friends, you knew they found you worthy and you were bonded. For the women it was the same. Today, it's been declared wrong for men to bond like that so they're going off the rails. These guys who come to us have lost all sense of self worth, so by enjoying intimacy with another man their self-respect is restored to the primeval state and they can move on. Rape, though, is deeply wounding, whereas consensual sex is healing.'

'What about you?'

'It's a bit of an ego trip to know that a strong, healthy person likes you enough to let you kiss, cuddle and so on.'

'What about disease?'

'Mr. Farzdbuk has a private hospital and I get checked every month, and so do the guys who stay. His doctor says I'm the healthiest person he's ever examined. So you've no worries on that score. How about you and your girlfriend? Both infection free? I guess I ought to know before we wrestle naked, just in case.'

Achilles sat back in astonishment. Instead of this seventeen year-old kid being on the back foot after such a confession, it was twenty-seven year-old Achilles who felt like an incompetent old fuddy duddy. The lad was brilliant!

'She's my fiancé, not girlfriend, and I've no idea. I simply assumed she was clean. As far as I know she doesn't sleep around.'

'Do you?'

'Not since I gave her a ring six months ago.'

'Did she give you one?'

'No.' Achilles wondered why he suddenly felt cheated.

It was Sebastian's turn to leave a weighty silence that went on so long Achilles felt obliged to break it.

'Why have you been so honest?'

Sebastian grinned. 'Perhaps I'm trying to shock you to see if you still like me.'

'I think it would be impossible for me to dislike you. Do you wear clothes at home?'

'Never. They're constricting. Mum also prefers it. She's only nice to me when I'm naked. Even then she isn't really nice. I'm pretty sure she hates me.' He stopped in surprise. Why had he said that? But it was true, he realised.

'I'm sure she doesn't,' Mr. Achilles said quietly.

'She used to like me, I think. But things changed after I started wanking. She said it was perfectly normal, but somehow the way she behaved with me after that was different.'


'No! Not at all. Quite the opposite. She was always encouraging me to do it. Told me it was the best way to grow strong and healthy and I should do it as often as possible in bed before sleeping. Once I managed seven times, and when I told her she gave me a hundred dollars to do with as I liked. And sometimes when we're going to have special visitors she makes me practise my dance routines and perform for them.'


'Of course. It's not really dance—it's more like gymnastics to music. I have this final sequence when I raise my arms high then bend backwards till my fingers touch the floor, I'm very flexible, then I strain every muscle, especially my abs. This causes an erection, and then I ejaculate. I've practiced in the mirror and can make it spurt straight up like a fountain, that way it doesn't stain the carpet.' Sebastian turned to his teacher, 'Are you shocked yet?'

'Not yet. I guess the audiences like it?'

'Yeah. They keep asking me to perform at their places, but Mum says I should wait till I leave school. But they make videos and pay me for it—a hundred bucks each.'

'Your mother is Okay with that?'

'It was her idea.'

'And you? How do you feel about this? Used? Abused? Victimised?'

Sebastian's laugh was loud and genuine. 'That's what kids who are forced to do these things feel! I love the attention. I love the fact that the fat creeps in the audience wouldn't dare do it, and even if they did they'd look revolting because their bodies are crap. I get a solid kick out of it and feel seriously superior to cretins who have to watch others jerk off to get their thrills.'

Mr. Achilles was silent, wondering if he was also an inferior cretin, because the thought of watching Sebastian dance was most appealing.

Sebastian studied him for several long seconds until his teacher again began to feel uncomfortable.

'Do you still like me?'


'I like you too, that's why I've told you things I've never told anyone before. Don't tell anyone else.'

'I won't.'

'Let's wrestle then!'

They stripped, tossing their clothes into a corner as if they'd never need them again.

Conias Achilles was slightly shorter than Sebastian with heavily muscled shoulders and arms. His face, however, was an astonishing contrast; deeply tanned and delicately beautiful rather than handsome, large dark eyes and heavy black eyebrows framed by bristle cut hair that caught the light like flecks of dark gold. A generous mouth and lips were enhanced by a medium sized nose with a bump in the middle where he'd broken it as a youth. Designer stubble decorated his jaw. A bikini line was scarcely visible against tanned skin. Nestled between massive thighs, his genitals looked deceptively normal. To the rear, a lean strong bum.

He stared at Sebastian, wondering if it was such a good idea. The young man seemed wholesome and decent, but just as his smooth slimness hid powerful muscles, so his innocent-seeming eyes concealed a character as calculating and shrewd as any he'd met. He shrugged off his doubts.

'You've shaved your pubic hair! Now I can't get you by the short and curlies.' Achilles attempt at light-hearted nonchalance failed miserably. He was very nervous and stared at Sebastian thoughtfully.

'If you tell anyone about this I will kill you. Understood?' Pale grey eyes glinted coldly. 'Because no one would believe it wasn't my idea and that I wasn't molesting you. I know you're seventeen and legal and more experienced than me in many ways, but as your teacher I'd lose everything and probably serve a jail term for corrupting you. Got it?'

Sebastian didn't doubt the threat was genuine; a chill ran through him. Naked, Mr. Achilles was a totally different person from the genial maths teacher and Lycra-clad wrestling instructor. Removal of the wrestling gear that had until then covered his thighs and most of his abdomen, revealed a chest covered in tight brown curls that continued in a line down to the thick pubic thatch that ran between his legs and spread over his bum, which was as hairy as his thighs. There was something feral; almost savage that reminded Sebastian of a large wild cat he and Reginald had once watched tearing apart a struggling bandicoot in the forest. When they'd tried to intervene, the cat had snarled and bared its teeth with such venom they'd retreated in fear.

Achilles' humourless smile caused Sebastian to wonder why he'd never noticed how sharp his teeth were.

'I'll not tell a soul, and don't you tell about me either.'

'Of course not.' Achilles tousled Sebastian's hair and the atmosphere returned to normal. 'The rules remain the same. No punching or kicking or breaking fingers. Everything above the neck is untouchable and so are the balls. Your king-size eggs would be far too easy to grab.'

'King-size, eh? I like that.'

'Cocks, on the other hand, are reasonably protected between the thighs and usually shrink when you're fighting seriously. If you let your opponent grab it, tough luck. Okay, let's go.'

Achilles prediction proved accurate, but Sebastian still felt incredibly vulnerable. Consequently, although his defensive moves improved, attack suffered and his teacher floored him five times in succession.

Drenched in sweat they sprawled over their towels on the mats to recover.

'You're nervous,' Achilles observed.


'Of me?'

'You're... different today.'


'You seem dangerous.'

'Wishing you had your gear on?'

'No way! I never want to wear it again! This is real, just as swimming naked is real.' He grinned. 'I just have to trust you're not going to bash my balls, and not worry I'm going to hurt yours. And you, Sir? Do you prefer wearing gear?'

'No. By the way, my name's Conias, you can call me Con, and stop being so cautious. Attack me with all you've got. I'm not breakable.'

'Have you done this before?'

'You're the first kid who's brought out the ancient Greek in me.'


'Too many questions. Back to work and do your worst.'

'Right on, Con.'

The instant the time clock rang Sebastian dropped, wrapped his arms round Con's knees and heaved up in an attempt to throw him onto his back. Con twisted in the air, landing on all fours. Sebastian fell onto his opponent's back, thighs squeezing his neck, arms wrapped round his loins. Con grabbed Sebastian's ankles and was about to drag them under and flip them both over when Sebastian grabbed a fist full of pubic hair and heaved sideways with all his strength. Con grunted in surprise and was forced to change position enough for Sebastian to finish the move and claim his first point.

'That does it!' Tonight I'm shaving them off. Can't have you doing that again.'

Sebastian threw himself into the next three bouts like a madman, and managed a win, a draw and an honourable loss.

Lying side by side, breathing raggedly, counting their bruises as it had been a particularly rough afternoon, they relaxed. Sebastian could feel his muscles complaining and his bum tingled where Con had pulled his cheeks apart to prevent being floored ignominiously.

Con turned to Sebastian with a grin. 'That's the sort of fighting I like! Rough, tough and rude.'

They splashed each other with water from the washbasin to rinse off the sweat, dressed, shook hands and parted; both uncommonly pleased with the session.

Sebastian arrived home feeling oddly excited. 'Next time he'd…' He smiled to himself at the thought and wondered if Conias Achilles was also planning their next bout.

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