Oakleaf Academy For Boys (BxB)

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one

Benji gulped as he stared into the crooked mirror hanging on his bedroom wall, his baby blue eyes staring right back. He tried to flatten down his unruly hair in an attempt to look more presentable. But then he remembered where he was going and quickly messed it up again. He wanted to fade into the shadows and sink into the crowd. He couldn’t look like a target.

It was hard not to when you were 5′6, wore huge glasses and scuffed up converse. Benji blinked a couple of times before taking his glasses off, squinting to try and readjust his vision. He reached for his contacts and carefully put them in, glancing back at the mirror once his sight was clear. He looked better - like less of a vulnerable dork - but not by much.

Realising this was as much progress he was going to make, he sighed heavily, running his fingers through his tousled copper hair, and left the room.

The two hour car journey seemed to last a life time, tense and nerve wracking. Benji felt like the oxygen sitting in the car was heavier than it should be, tightening his throat as he took deep, shaky breaths. His knee bobbed up and down incessantly, his heart pounding against his rib cage, his mind spinning.

He wondered how he was going to die. Would be be pushed down the stairs and snap his neck? Beaten to death? Would he trip over a bar of soap in the shower and crack his head open? He wasn’t sure. But what he did know, was that this school would be the death of him. There was no escaping that.

He gulped as the building loomed into view. It looks like a prison, Benji thought.

The first thing he saw was the tall wall bordering the perimeter, making sure nothing got in. Or out. Coils of barbed wire spun into loops above the fence, sharp spikes sticking out in all directions. The gate was assembled by thick bars, allowing small gaps for Benji to peer through. From here, he could see the school.

He zoned out as his Mum said something into the little speaker by the gate, a crackly voice replying before the gates parted, allowing them access. As their car rolled up the gravel slope, Benji had his face pressed up against the cool glass, his eyes darting around in horror.

There were three different building blocks and he could spot a courtyard through the gaps, where students milled about in tattered uniforms, passing around cigarettes. The buildings were like white boxes all of the same height, with small windows piercing the outer walls, all hosting thick bars to ensure kids remained locked in.

He craned his neck a little and caught sight of a pitch just behind the main campus area. There was a small row of benches and faint white lines that had been sprayed onto the grass. But besides that, it looked overgrown and neglected.

He knew he school only excepted kids who were between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, so wasn’t very big. There were about five hundred kids at Oakleaf, a lot smaller than his old school. His normal school.

Once he’d been through a metal detector, got patted down and had his bag searched, he was forced to say goodbye to his parents. He gave them firm hugs and promised to see them during half term. And then they left. And he was on his own.

The next thing he knew, he was sat in front of the head teacher, Mr Welding, who stared down at him with a bored expression. “The rules are simple, Mr Cooper,” He begun. “No weapons, drugs or alcohol. Smoking is not permitted and if caught, there will be consequences.” He drawled. Mr Welding’s tone told him otherwise. The bundle of kids smoking outside told him otherwise. Benji assumed it was just one of those things where teachers turned a blind eye. “Do you understand?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Good.” He nodded emotionlessly before continuing, “No mobile phones or any other electronic devices. No fighting with students or teachers. The staff are all carrying tasers, so I’d be sure to remember that if I were you. If you’re caught out of bed after lights out, you will be punished. If you skip class without permission, you will be punished. If you leave school properly without permission, you will be punished.” He drawled. “You must wear your school uniform during school hours from Monday to Friday, on weekends you may wear your own clothes. When you go to your new dorm room, there will be two shirts, two pairs of trousers, a tie and a blazer waiting for you.”

“How’d you know my size?” Benji asked hesitantly. “Sir.” He quickly added.

“I don’t. One size fits all, Mr Cooper.”

Benji coloured from embarrassment. He knew one size didn’t fit all. He knew the second he put those clothes on, he was going to look like a complete idiot. Even the clothes he was currently wearing were too big for him, how was he going to cope with drowning in fabric all year round?

The headteacher fished out a piece of paper from a file on his desk and laid it flat on the table between them. “This is your timetable and your dorm.” He pointed at the number written on the bottom of the sheet. 113. “Your roommate is Kit Samuels. If you have any questions, he’ll be happy to help.”

Something told Benji that that wasn’t true.

“Do you need me to take you or can you figure it out yourself?” He asked, looking extremely disgruntled.

Benji could see the reluctance written across his face, so politely shook his head.

“Use words, boy.” He snapped, shoving the timetable into Benji’s hands. Benji flinched, but before he could reply, was cut off again, “When you come out of my office, turn left and keep walking till you reach the end of the corridor. Go up the stairs and make a right. There’ll be a row of doors - that’s the wing you want to be in. Keep going till you see 113.” He instructed, sliding a rusty old key across the table. “Don’t lose it because there won’t be another. If it goes missing, then you’ll be sharing your roommate’s key till the end of the year and that’s not fun.”

Benji nodded, then quickly remembered Mr Welding’s warning about using real words, “Y-Yes, Sir. Thank you.”

His heart fluttered nervously as he stood up and grabbed his bag, exiting the office with a masked expression. He was trying to hide his nerves, hoping that if he sealed his features with a concrete look, no one would notice how terrified he was. Students were leant against the walls, sneering at him as he scampered past, some even calling out to him. He bowed his head as he followed Mr Welding’s instructions, picking up his pace.

When he reached room 113, he hesitated, fiddling with the key in his hand. He wasn’t sure whether to knock or just go straight in. What if his roommate was in there?

Taking a deep breath, he raised his fist and knocked timidly on the door. He didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot by barging in unannounced.

Kit was laying sprawled out on the top bunk, flicking through a magazine he’d nicked from his teacher’s bag. He despised magazines, all that cheap gossip and fake drivel drove him mad. But when you had no phone or access to the internet, you’d take any piece of information about the outside world you could get.

He was reading about a celebrity he’d never heard of and her husband he’d never heard of when he heard a knock on the door. His dark eyes skimmed the rest of the article about their favourite brand of baby clothes before tossing the magazine aside. He leap frogged over the side of the bed, completely dismissing the ladder and landing with a thump on the floor.

When he swung the door open, he froze. He’d expected it to be one of his mates, coming to offer him a joint or a swig of vodka. Not some random kid that looked younger than a ten year old. “Who are you?” He grunted, leant against the doorframe as he crossed his arms over his chest.

“Y-Your new roommate.” Benji squeaked out, casting his eyes to the floor. His roommate looked just as scary as everyone else he’d passed while walking through the corridors. Tall, broad, scruffy and muscular.

Kit rose his brows expectantly, “I haven’t got a new roommate.”

“You’re Kit Samuels?” Benji asked shyly, earning a nod in return. “This is where Mr Welding sent me.”

“Ugh, that son of a bitch.” He exhaled heavily, reluctantly opening the door wide enough for Benji to enter. “That wanker’s too scared off us to tell us anything.” He complained. “What’s your name, kid?”

“Benji.” He told him, shutting the door and glancing around the messy room. His new home.

Kit strode forward and roughly grabbed Benji’s face with his hand, his claws digging into his squishy, freckled cheeks. He titled the boy’s face up until his eyes met Kit’s, dark and menacing. “Well, Benji, when someone talks to you, you look them in the eye.” He ordered quietly. “Just a little word of advice.” He pulled away and Benji stumbled back, his blue orbs wide and frightened.

“S-Sorry.” Benji whimpered.

“You want another word of advice?” Kit rose a challenging brow, digging his hands into his pockets. “Don’t apologise. Ever.”

“Okay.” He nodded. He glanced at Kit skeptically. His eyes were a warm shade of rich chocolate, matching his dark skin and black hair.

“I’m helping you, kid. If you don’t look at people when they talk you, they think you’ve got something to hide. They think you’re scared. And they will beat the shit out of you.” He explained. “Same with apologising. You look weak. Like people can walk all over you. And guess what? They will beat the shit out of you.”

Benji nodded in understanding. He’d barely been here five minute and he was already trembling with fear. But at the same time, he was grateful. At least Kit was trying to help him. “Thanks.” He murmured.

Kit sighed heavily, “Oh, jesus, this is gonna take longer than I thought.” He scanned the boy up and down before continuing, “No saying thank you. No mumbling. No sitting at the back of the classroom. No sitting at the front of the classroom. Sit by a wall or window or something, ’kay?” He didn’t wait for a response before speaking again, “Don’t try too hard to make friends or you’ll come off as desperate. But if I were you, I’d want a group. Don’t be a stray otherwise you’ll get claimed by someone at the top of the food chain.”

Benji nodded, his brows furrowed deeply as he tried to take in Kit’s tips.

Kit perched on the bottom bunk, jerking his head to signal for Benji to join him. They sat side by side as Kit spoke up once more, “Welding always pairs the newbies with me ’cause I look out for them. I’ll do the same for you but if you do anything stupid, you’re on your own.”

Benji’s eyes widened at his words. He was surprised to find his new roommate showing such a strong act of kindness. No matter how much he smothered the gesture in harsh words and a look of resentful reluctance, Kit was being nice to him. He was helping him.

“Stay away from the big boys. Sebastian Steel, Kieran Porter and Jake Wesley. Okay?” He was staring intensely at Benji, making sure he understood. Benji was trying hard not to break the bond, knowing he’d just be scolded for not looking Kit in the eye. “But whatever you do, don’t go near Diesel. He will rip you to shreds.”

“D-Diesel?”

“You don’t even wanna know how he got that nickname.”

“What’s his real name?”

Kit scoffed, “Another rule, Benji. Never ask anyone what their real name is, alright?”

“Why not?” He asked innocently.

Kit’s mind was spinning. He knew this boy had a lot to learn, even more than his past roommates. He was used to showing them the ropes and guiding them away from hypothetical suicide. But they usually just needed a nudge in the right direction. Benji was utterly clueless. And until he learnt what he couldn’t do and who he shouldn’t piss off, he was Kit’s responsibility.

“A third of the kids in here have nicknames. They’re dangerous. Don’t mess with them. If they have a nickname, it means they’ve either done some fucked up shit or they’ve been in here long enough to get one.” He instructed. “Another third go by their last name. They’re dangerous too. Not as much, but watch out.”

“A-And the other third are called by their first names?”

“Yeah.” He nodded. “They’re usually alright.”

“So, you’re not dangerous?”

Kit laughed to himself, “I wouldn’t say that. People don’t mess with me and they don’t mess with my roommates.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’d beat the shit out of them.” He shrugged. “You should get some sleep, kid.”

Benji glanced up at him with wide, glittering eyes, whispering a soft, “Thank you.” He knew Kit told him not to say that, but he couldn’t help it. Kit didn’t reply, merely ruffled his hair, gave him a short smile and clambered back onto the top bunk.

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