The Challenge That is Tony

by Pedro

All the Colours of the Rainbow

May, Year 10

Another whimsical sequel to my story Revenge.

Although now submitted for the 'Write a Sequel' challenge, the rainbow idea was originally thought of for the 'Rainbow Boy' challenge but never progressed beyond that. The Rainbow Boy picture is at the foot of the story. Some of the characters are introduced in the first sequel: Fête or Fate.

Okay. So Tony and I did make peace after the incident at the school show.

But, hey, if a good opportunity arises it would be a shame to let it waste. We do try to avoid below the waist embarrassment though. No descending pants or woodies in showers. Other than accidents.

This year we have Mister Morgan teaching us Physics. He is new, fresh out of college, so we have not had him before. I haven't worked out what to make of him yet. He seems to know his stuff and I don't have trouble following his lessons. But something bothers me.

I think it's the way he tries to be friends with us all. Like putting his hand on one of your shoulders as he looks over the other one to see how you are getting on with a practical. He hasn't asked us to call him David but I suspect that is only because it is against some school policy.

He should ask Miss Rutherford how she does it. She doesn't need us to be her friends. I don't think she even asks for us to like her, although most of us do. She likes most of us too. It's more that she seems to understand each of us as individuals and how that helps us accept her authority. Tony calls it mutual respect. We know the stash of chocolate in her handbag isn't used for bribery, she just enjoys sharing it in the same way she shares her knowledge with us. Her sense of humour helps. Like saying she needed a cute young man when she volunteered Tony and me for the fete. Merv the Perv (Mr Sproat: Drama and PE last year -keep up!) would describe her as having 'Stage Presence'.

It is exceptionally warm for the time of year and we are being allowed to turn up at school without blazers and ties. Miss Rutherford says it's known as Shirt Sleeve Order. It is hot enough in the stuffy classrooms but it's boiling in the labs when we have double physics between morning break and lunch.

Tony seems a bit out of sorts this morning. I think it's because he had to skip breakfast. He says he was late getting up. I give him a bag of crisps to be going on with. They are some weird new brand that mum has found -probably on BOGOF.

Mr Morgan says we are using the optical benches today. New toys! We've not used these before. We did the theory last week, but he will revise it with us first, then demonstrate the equipment before we do the practical. Refraction in the first half, then diffraction in the second.

The optical benches are a sort of inverted v - shaped beam with a ruler along one side and little saddle thingies that carry lenses, prisms, mirrors or a screen that can be put into the light path. At one end is a white light source that can have coloured filters put in front of it. The saddles have pointers attached that line up with the ruler so that the relative position of all the items can be read off.

Sir tells us we should put the bits into roughly the right configuration then play about moving the saddles about until everything is in focus or how we want it, then take the readings. He gets us to pull the window blinds down and he turns out the main lights when we are doing the experiments so the effects are easier to see. We have little desk lights to read and write by.

Tony and I have a workstation near the storeroom door. Paul and Mel are working together at the bench next to us. We do the first experiment with lenses and write down our readings. While we wait for Mr Morgan to check rest of the class have finished, Tony opens the cupboard under our workbench and pulls out a glass beaker.

"Watchyer doin'?" I hiss at him.

"Getting a drink. I'm gagging. Those crisps were hellish salty. Tell your mum not to get them again." he whispers back as he leans across to the water tap at the back of the workbench and fills the beaker.

"Why didn't you get a drink at break?"

"The cooler in the passage here is out of order and did you see the queue at the one outside our last class?" He's got a point there.

He puts the beaker to his lips and starts to drink. Whether he misjudges things in the dark or whether he is surprised by Mr Morgan turning up just at that moment I don't know but he manages to pour half of it down the front of his shirt. I resist the urge to make a remark about the impossibility of missing his mouth. In front of a teacher that would be against our rules of engagement.

"I wondered why I could hear water running." says Mr Morgan, "I'm sorry if I surprised you. You had better take your shirt off and hang it in the store. It's even warmer in there. There are also some paper towels in there if you need to dry yourself off."

While Tony goes into the store to sort himself out, Mr Morgan tells us all to set up the optical benches with the prisms to demonstrate refraction splitting white light into colours. He says the same effect is at work in raindrops when we see a rainbow.

It is easy to set up, but it gives me an idea for a bit of fun that is within our unwritten rules. I add a mirror saddle to the optical bench so that the light beam is deflected in the direction of the storeroom door. I have just got it set up when a shirtless Tony opens the door and steps back into the lab.

Got him! All the colours of the rainbow. A perfect spectrum across his chest and stomach. I hear giggles from Mel and Paul. They've seen.

I quickly reset the experiment and run through it with Tony (he did see the funny side by the way) so that we can make notes. Sir creeps up on us again!

"I know I said play around with the apparatus until you get the result you want. I think you know that's not what I meant. It was amusing but it was still messing around. You can learn through play, you don't when messing around." He smiles at us both and walks off.

Busted. Could have been worse, he could have given me detention.

The second half of the lesson is about diffraction and interference fringes. We have little microscope attachments to the optical benches to enable us to see the patterns. You have to lean over and get close up and personal with workbench to use the eyepiece. It's uncomfortable, squashing bits you don't want squashed.

Sir keeps doing his rounds, making sure we all understand what we are doing. I can see him carefully explaining to those who don't, persevering until you can see from the pupil's face the penny has dropped.

When the lesson is over, Tony seems to be a bit distracted so I retrieve his shirt from the storeroom. I have to help him put it on. I gather up our stuff and as I lead Tony away to lunch we pass Mr Morgan. He has an odd look on his face. One I have seen before but can't place.

I do recognise the look on Tony's face. He is definitely out of it. I have to steer him through the line at the canteen again. Thank goodness they've got the veg curry today. They've also got beef curry. It's not often there are two curries on the menu but when there are Tony and I take different ones and share so we can both get the range of flavours.

The beef curry is something new. We never get beef. I'm sure that's thanks to the dietary thought police - beef is supposed to be bad for us. When I mentioned it one day to Miss Rutherford, she winked at me and said it isn't the students it is bad for but the teachers; red meat makes the kids even more stroppy than usual.

There must be a lull in the kitchen as Cook is there watching us go through the line. I take the opportunity to ask her why she has done two curries on a hot day like today.

"The spices are supposed to have a cooling effect and the millions on the Sub-Continent can't all be wrong, can they?" She replies.


"I think you will enjoy the beef." She knows I like my curry but her grin tells me to be on guard.

I take Tony over to join Mel and Paul (not an item, just friends). Mel's sister and Virginia, both in their final year, are also there.

We got to know Virginia last year at the fete. She hangs with Mel quite a lot. Unusual as year groups don't mix much. I asked about it once and Virginia said it helps her as a prefect to keep tabs on the lower classes. Tony tried to ask and she kissed him to shut him up. He had to have the veg curry that day too.

As I swap our curries around, the others look at Tony.

"Alright. What has set him off this time?" asks Mel.

"He missed breakfast this morning but I don't think it's that. He seemed okay when he came out of the storeroom after he had soaked himself. Must be something after that." I say as I sample the beef curry.

I'm glad Cook warned me. It's hotter than the veg curry and has to be good for at least a six on the Richter scale (Tony says that's wrong; the Scoville scale is what is used for chilli hotness).

"Beef or veg?" Mel asks. Tony's fork is poised in her hand ready to set him up. I manage to gasp my reply.

"Beef!" I gulp a drink of water before continuing. "To make sure. I think he is getting used to the veg one."

Mel loads his fork and does her schoolmarm voice with the inevitable result.

"What the hell was that?" Tony sputters out as he re-engages with the world.

"Cook's new beef curry. Give her a wave to thank her." I can see Cook looking in our direction, so I hold up Tony's arm and give her a thumbs-up with my free hand. Mel joins in. The other three, who haven't seen the curry magic trick before have all got the giggles.

"Hi, Tony." says Mel. "Are you going to tell us what happened in the second half of Physics or am I going to have to ask Virginia to kiss it out of you?"

Virginia looks eagerly at Tony. She knows he doesn't like kissing girls, so she does it just to wind him up.

"It was the teacher, Mr Morgan. You know how he likes to put his hand on your shoulder in practicals. It kind of gives me the creeps." Tony stops to take another mouthful of curry then has to damp down the flames with a drink.

"You know it's only the boys he does it with, don't you?" Mel's sister chips in. Virginia agrees.

"Even Roger has noticed it and about the only thing he normally takes note of is his reflection in the mirror." Ouch! I'm glad it's not me that is her ex-boyfriend.

"He won't do it to the girls. They would all scream about sexual harassment and he would be out of a job." says Paul.

"Shush! Let Tony carry on." Mel sees Tony is ready to say more.

"Anyway after I had to take my shirt off he saw the rainbow flag projected on me. Every time he came round after that he put his hand on my bum. I know the lesson was about optical interference but I felt it was me being interfered with."

Even I can tell the quip is a coping device.

"Are you sure he didn't just put his hand there to avoid skin-to-skin contact which would definitely be inappropriate? After all you did have your shirt off." Paul asks.

"Mm." Tony looks pensive as if trying to remember the events of the lesson. "No, I think it was more than that. At least on one occasion. That time there was definitely movement to it. More like a stroke or a grope, especially as I was bent over the bench looking down the microscope."

"Well, if it was deliberate, it wants nipping in the butt." I say. After all if anybody is going to stroke and grope my boyfriend it should be me.

"Bud!" the gang all chorus, laughing. I don't get it.

"The expression is 'nip in the bud': from gardening." explains Tony.

When my blush subsides, I look up and see Mel's sister staring misty eyed across the room. I follow her gaze. The only person I can see that she might be looking at is Merv the Perv doing canteen supervisor duty. I nudge Mel and point at her sister.

"It's alright; she had a thing for Mr Sproat for a few months now. She knows he plays for your team but she still thinks he is hot."

The bell goes and we finish up and head off for afternoon classes.

My attention drifts during the first class and think about Mel's sister and Mr Sproat. It's then I realise where I have seen before the look that was on Mr Morgan's face this morning. It's that same mixture of guilt and desire Sproat used to get when he was perving on us in the changing rooms. Not that Merv the Perv would ever do anything more than look. I wonder what he would say about Mr Morgan.

I catch up with Tony after lessons. He seems to have got over the shock of this morning. I tell him what I have thought of. He agrees that talking to Mr Sproat is a good idea.

We find him in the gym clearing up after his last class. He is wearing white tennis shorts and shirt. It must be too warm for his usual track suit. I can see now why Mel's sister thinks he is hot. If I was older I think I would fancy him too.

He sees us and walks over.

"Ah. Two of my favourite boys."

"I thought you teachers weren't supposed to have favourites, sir?" I say. He smiles.

"Don't be cheeky. You are right, we shouldn't. But we are human. Your lot are my favourites because I don't teach you anymore and you can't embarrass me again."

"We didn't set out to you embarrass you with the school show. I was the target. Mind you that play you wrote was embarrassing."

"Not half as embarrassing as having to explain to the Head why I thought it best if someone else took over your class. Thankfully no other group has ever given me such a hard time." As expected we chuckle at that. He continues-

"Enough! What do you want to see me about?"

"We want some advice on a rather personal matter, sir."

Mr Sproat steers us into the coaches' office and shuts the door. He turns on a desk fan. The cooling draught is welcome.

"Go on."

We had decided I had would take the lead. I blush as this is going to be embarrassing, telling a teacher we think he is gay. I start with us first.

"You may have noticed, but Tony and I both like looking at boys. In fact we are boyfriends. We think you like looking at boys too. As far as we know you have never done or would do anything more than enjoy the view. Never anything inappropriate. It was more our group being inappropriate to you, making sure you found the view a bit too exciting."

I watch Merv as I speak. He has a serious look on his face and is nodding as if to say he agrees and to carry on.

"We think there is another master who is gay. The trouble is he seems to want to do more than look. Tony is sure he was having his bum felt in class today."

"So why haven't you gone to the Head?"

"We don't want to get him into trouble if it was a misunderstanding. We both feel that he could be a really good teacher. If we go straight to the Head, he would have to follow the rules and suspend the teacher while an investigation was carried out and his career would be damaged even if he was cleared."

"That's very perceptive of you both. I'm impressed at your maturity thinking like that. But why come to me?" Mr Sproat asks.

"It's the gay thing, sir. If it were girls, it would be just him. But if he gets accused of touching up boys it will reflect on all gays, you included." I say.

"We thought you might have a better idea of what he is thinking and have a quiet word with him." Tony adds. "It wants stopping before someone else does decide to complain."

The fan phuttering the warm air around the room is the only sound as Merv considers the problem.

"You had better tell me who it is and give me all the details."

"It's the new master, Mr Morgan and it happened in our double Physics class last thing this morning."

Mr Sproat interrupts.

"I haven't met him yet. Go on. Don't leave anything out, no matter how trivial. Don't leave out any horseplay you or anyone else got up to either. If he saw it, it could be relevant."

We go on to describe how he does the hand on shoulder thing that we don't like, Tony getting soaked and taking his shirt off, the rainbow thing, having to lean over the bench to do the experiment, Morgan's hand on Tony's bum, how I recognized the look on Morgan's face (poor Merv goes bright red at that point), the conversation over lunch, including Virginia and Mel's sister's comments.

Of course Tony just has to mention me saying 'butt' instead of 'bud'. What did he call it - a malapropism? Mr Sproat laughs at that and says it sounds more as though it was a Freudian Slip.

"I thought that was a garment worn to draw attention to what it concealed." I don't need Tony to show me up, I can do it myself!

The mood goes back to serious as the other two calm down and leave the fan to phutter on its own.

Mr Sproat sighs as he draws breath to speak.

"Firstly, I think the hand on shoulder is inappropriate, certainly unwise. You have both said it makes you feel uncomfortable. I'll have a word with him about that if nothing else. If it is something he won't do to the girls, he shouldn't to it to the boys.

"Secondly, if it was me, I would have taken your horseplay with the spectrum to suggest that Tony is gay." I nod at that as Sir continues; "In other circumstances that might mean that he would not object to a hand on his backside. Also, Paul is right, skin-to-skin contact is a no-no. Legs and thighs are also out, clothed or not. So that would leave your bum as the only place to put his hand, and he might have assumed that it would not be received badly.

"I don't want to make excuses for him, but, Tony, you said you were uncomfortable leaning across the bench. Would that make you move about; trying to get in a better position?"

Tony goes bright red.

"This is so embarrassing. Leaning on the bench gave me a stiffy, so I was wriggling around trying to work it to be more comfortable."

"So it could be that you were moving under his hand, not him stroking you?"

"I probably squirmed a bit at his touch too." Tony replies.

"He shouldn't have had his hand there in the first place, but if he is new and a bit naive about pupil-teacher interaction, do you think he might have thought you, gay and moving your bum under his hand, might be a bit of a come-on? I think would have and I would have found it very difficult to resist coming back for seconds. What do you say?"

"I suppose that could be how he would see it." concedes Tony.

"What do you think we should do?" I ask.

"As I said before, I'll go and see him and advise him to stop the hands on shoulder. Before that I'll make a note of this meeting listing your concerns and including time and date. I'll give you both a copy, and I will take one with me and go through it when I go to see him. I would suggest no further action at this stage, but we will go to the Head if it happens again, either to Tony or if you or I hear of anyone else. Does that sound right to you two?"

"I think so, but it would be nice if he also apologised to Tony." I say as Tony nods.

"Let's see if he does that without prompting. It will be a measure of his character." Mr Sproat pauses while moves to open the door. "Thank you for raising this with me, as you said it wants nipping in the bud. You two had better get off home and do your homework and I'll write these notes, then get cleaned up and go and find Mr Morgan."

On the way out I look at him in his tennis gear. I can't resist saying something.

"Wear those shorts, Sir."

Merv gives me a questioning look.

"Freudian Slip, Sir!"

The next time we have Physics, Mr Morgan discreetly asks if Tony and I would remain after class. So we do. He apologises and is ever so embarrassed for making us uncomfortable and upsetting Tony when he was only trying to be friendly. He thanks us for being understanding. One odd thing: he asks which of the teaching staff we most admire. We both say Miss Rutherford.

We leave him with the feeling things have been cleared up to everyone's satisfaction, and head off to join the lunch queue. I have the veg curry again as nothing else seems to quite hit the spot. I must be getting addicted to chillies. Tony doesn't need the shock treatment so opts for something bland!

The gang asks why we are late so we have to explain that Mr Morgan wanted to apologise for last week. We don't mention going to see Merv the Perv. Virginia tells us that she thought someone must have said something to him because there were no 'hands on shoulders' in their last lesson. There weren't any in our lesson either.

Miss Rutherford catches us one day as we are leaving her class.

"I gather you two are the school's new matchmakers."

We give her a blank look. We've no idea what she means, so we say so.

"One of you suggested Mervyn Sproat should wear his white shorts when he went to call on David Morgan about a somewhat delicate matter?" Although she makes it sound like a question, she obviously knows more. How did she find out?

"That would be me." I confess.

"David has asked me to be his mentor helping him find his feet. Apparently you two had something to do with that too." So that's why he wanted to know who we admired. We nod.

"Anyway," Miss Rutherford continues "David and Mervyn are moving in together at the weekend. I asked David how they met and he said he liked what he saw when Mervyn came to call. The shorts made it he said. I found out from Mervyn why he was wearing the shorts when they came to dinner with Betty and me the other night."

I turn to Tony and give him a questioning look: who's Betty?

Rainbow Boy

Copyright © Pedro 2017

For those that don't know - BOGOF stands for 'Buy One Get One Free'


This story is part of the 2017 story challenge to write a sequel. The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 11 March to 1 April 2017 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the competition home page.

Please rate All the Colours of the Rainbow with the impressions it left you with

Either while reading this story, or afterwards, I found it to be/had/made me (Tick all that apply)

An emotional read
Written with rhythm and pace
Thought provoking
Well laid out (paragraphs etc)
Technically well written
Written with good use of grammar and syntax (this does not mean pedantic use)
Easy to read
It invited me in
I could not put it down
Cheering (made me happy)
I identified with at least one of the characters
It felt like it was about me. I know it wasn't, but it felt like it
The plot was tough to read. (a tough [good] experience, not hard to read)
Not just prose, but almost a 'tone poem'
There could be spelling/grammar/punctuation improvements
Followed on well from the original

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