Oakleaf Academy For Boys (BxB)

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six

He was only six years old, sitting in his room with tears streaming down his cheeks, listening to his parents scream at each other from downstairs. He heard a loud slap, and his Mother was silent.

He was only ten years old when he noticed a large bruise on his Mum’s face. “What happened?” He’d asked on the way to his friends house, sitting in the car as his Mother drove past a stop sign.

“I tripped in the bathroom and hit my head on the tub.” She told him quickly. “I’ll be back to pick you up from Jack’s after teatime, okay, honey?”

When he was twelve, his Father knocked him down the stairs. He said it was an accident and the paramedics believed him. The little boy was in a cast for weeks, sitting at the sidelines during PE as he watched his classmates play Bench Ball without him.

He was only fourteen when his Dad beat him up for the first time, leaving him as a bleeding mess on the kitchen floor, all because he’d asked if he was allowed to have a friend over. His Mum was sobbing as she drove them to a motel with only the clothes on their backs and a pocketful of cash.

He was seventeen when his Dad came into his room late at night while his Mother was staying at her sister’s. He was swaying and staggering, his breath stained with the heavy scent of alcohol as he stumbled over to his son’s bed.

Benji had slept with a knife under his pillow every night since he was twelve. He was frozen in place when the door opened, his breath caught in his throat when he heard his father starting to fumble with his belt. He felt calloused hands running across his untouched body, slipping under his loose pyjamas and sending sickening chills up his spine.

When he felt the older man’s body looming over his, he buried the knife into his Father’s stomach and watched as thick, sticky blood oozed through his fingers and trickled down his arm.

He ran to the bathroom and threw up in the bathtub, his fingers shaking, his body trembling with sobs that died in his throat. He was covered in blood as he called for an ambulance, his hands sticky with the substance.

He lied and told the police that he’d mistaken his father for an intruder. It was self defence. It was dark. He was frightened. It was dark. It was self defence. Over and over again, he’d almost started believing the tale. Almost.

His Father told the police he’d entered his son’s room to check on him - something he apparently did every night. The stories matched. The police believed their lies. And that was that.

His parents agreed that the best place for young Benjamin Cooper was at Oakleaf Academy. His Father wanted him gone because he was a hinderance and a keeper of a dark secret that could ruin his life. His Mother wanted him out of the house for safety purposes. He’d be protected at Oakleaf, the school would make sure nothing too damaging happened to the boy. Maybe he’d get thrown around a little, but the monsters lurking there were far friendlier than the one lurking in his own house. And the monster with a face was far scarier than one without.

He wished he’d kept his secret a little safer when the truth slipped past his lips and infected Starr’s ears. He didn’t want people knowing he’d almost killed his own flesh and blood. He regretted the decision every minute of every day, and if he could turn back time, he would. He’d go back and let his Dad do whatever he wanted with him, no matter how painful and heartbreaking it would be.

The teacher, Miss Bell, was rambling on about the difference between organic and inorganic chemistry, and Benji was trying his absolute hardest to pay attention. He seemed to be the only one in the room who was even making an effort. Everyone else was murmuring or laughing or shamelessly shouting across the room and throwing paper aeroplanes.

When the teacher told everyone to pick a partner, Benji panicked. Everyone was rustling around and calling across the classroom to alert their friends. Before Benji could even scan the room for a potential partner, someone had grabbed his wrist, making him jump and swivel around, “You’re with me, Pup.”

He gulped and nodded, feeling dizzy at the spinning of his mind, fogging with possibilities. Why would Diesel want to pair up with him? Benji was pretty sure there were a ton of other boys in the class who Diesel could have paired with, boys who’d appreciate it even. But no. He chose Benji.

Miss Bell was a senile old lady, tougher than all the boys in there combined. Rumours circulated about how many years she’d been there for and some kids had even spread news about her spending time in prison before being hired at Oakleaf. However, as frightening as she was, she didn’t know the dangers of letting students pick their own partners. The room was howling with laughter and chatter amongst friends. It was already turning into chaos.

Benji felt extremely vulnerable. The only real friend he’d made so far was Lucky and even he seemed a little reserved. They didn’t talk like normal friends and the didn’t do things that normal friends would do. They were just a couple of people who hung out together so they’d have someone to sit with at lunch. That might be okay for Lucky, but Benji wanted more. He wanted someone he could really talk to and share things with. He always had Kit, but he couldn’t push away that nagging feeling that Kit was only helping him out of pity.

Once Miss Bell had instructed the class about the task at hand, they began working. Legally, the school wasn’t allowed to perform science experiments due to potential risks concerning the kids. Certain boys weren’t even allowed to use scissors. Benji was one of those boys.

They couldn’t do much with the restrictions about being near chemicals and acids, so they were told to complete worksheets instead. Diesel was smarter than he let on, casually murmuring the answer whenever Benji was stuck - which was often. He’d never been the brightest kid at school and was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was eight. Words were always getting jumbled and twisted, sentences presenting themselves backwards as his brain tried its hardest to decipher them.

“Did you get an answer for six?” He asked Diesel shyly, peeking up at him through heavy lashes.

Diesel twisted his sheet around to show Benji, displaying the ionic equation scribbled in messy scrawl across the page.

Benji nodded gratefully and jotted it down, despite not having a clue what any of it meant. He was too scared to ask. “You write in pencil.” He noted quietly, observing Diesel’s hand working quickly to solve each problem.

Diesel dropped his pencil and yanked his sleeve up, tilting his arm towards Benji. “They don’t trust me with fountain pens.” He shrugged. Benji’s eyes were wide and shocked as he stared down at Diesel’s arm. It was lined with brutal scars like thin white streaks of lighting, ripping into his arm.

“I-I’m sorry...”

Diesel shorted, shook his sleeve back down and returned to working, “Why? It’s not like it’s your fault.”

“I just...I don’t know...”

“That’s what’s wrong with people nowadays. They’re always sorry. Sorry for forgetting a birthday, sorry for letting the door swing shut by accident and sorry for things that aren’t even their fault.” He ranted absentmindedly, his eyes still skimming the page as he tried to untangle the next question halfheartedly. ”‘Oh, your Dad died? I’m so sorry.’ But why? It’s not like you killed him.”

“I-I think people are just saying that...you know, they feel sorry for someone.”

“They’re not sorry, they’re just glad it’s not them.” Diesel rolled his eyes. “That’s what you meant. Wasn’t it, Pup?” He pointed his pencil at him, letting it dangle between his fingers lazily, “You’re not sorry about my scars. You’re just thankful that you never succumbed to that level.”

“That’s not true.” Benji squeaked out, his worksheet completely forgotten.

Diesel laughed to himself in amusement, “No? Are you sure?” He asked sarcastically.

“Why did you pair up with me?” Benji questioned suddenly, letting the words resting on the tip of his tongue finally slip out.

Diesel just rolled his eyes, “Thought you’d make for a nice, quiet, smart lab parter. Clearly I was wrong.” He sneered, sparing a dissatisfied look at Benji’s incomplete work.

Benji recoiled slightly. He knew he needed thicker skin if he was going to be residing here all year, but he couldn’t help but get offended and upset at the smallest of things. Diesel criticising his intelligence just made him feel worse about himself, especially when he was trying his best.

“In this class, everyone’s a bit up themselves.” He continued. “They think they know everything when most of them can’t even spell their own bloody name. They’re a nightmare to work with.” Diesel shrugged.

“B-But you don’t even know me.” Benji interjected.

He glanced Benji up and down before smirking cruelly, “Yeah, something tells me you’re too terrified to even open your mouth half the time.”

Benji pouted unconsciously, making Diesel laugh further. He turned back to his work and tried to ignore his partner for the rest of the period. When Miss Bell set them another sheet to work on before next lesson, he groaned internally. He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to finish it on his own, Diesel had done most of the work and Benji knew he wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed when it came to science.

Diesel watched Benji’s reaction and let out a dramatic sigh before snatching the sheet off him. He stuffed it into his backpack along with his own work, turning back to glance at the Pup, “I’ll do it.” He grumbled in response.

Benji was completely dumbstruck by his words, staring up at Diesel as if he’d gone insane. He surely hadn’t heard correctly - no way would Diesel be prepared to do something so selfless for a kid he’d never met. By the sounds of it, he was ruthless and unforgiving. He was a savage beast who leapt at anyone who said a word against him. And here he was, being subtly kind and generous towards a new boy. “Why?” Benji spluttered helplessly.

Diesel paused as he fiddled with the zip

of his bag and glanced across at him. Benji was hit with those breathtaking discordant eyes, a striking contrast between colours. “If I do this, you owe me.”

“W-What do I owe you?”

Diesel smirked as he leant back against the table, “Don’t worry about it yet.”

“I’d rather do my own homework than owe you anything.” Benji tried to sound firm, but his voice was weak and fractured in comparison to Diesel’s deep, husky tone.

“It’s not a choice.” Diesel shot back, swinging his backpack over his shoulder. “So, you gonna let me do this or are you gonna disobey me?” He drawled threateningly. “Do you need me to tell you what happens to people who disobey me, Pup?”

Benji’s eyes widened in shock. He knew it was too good to be true. Someone like Diesel didn’t just choose to sit with him unless he had an ulterior motive. He didn’t just do his work for him unless he wanted something in return. Of course. He was an idiot for not seeing that at the beginning, and he knew that deep down, it was because he didn’t want to see it. He wanted to believe that Diesel was one of the good ones. “Tell me what you’re gonna make me do.” He demanded.

Diesel grinned, “I’m gonna put that pretty little mouth of yours to good use.” He whispered darkly.

Benji began to panic, quickly chasing Diesel from the room as he headed for the exit, the bell echoing around them. “H-Hey, c’mon, please just—”

“D’you wanna be ripped to shreds?” Diesel spat menacingly, twisting around to tower over Benji challengingly, “Because you know I can make that happen, right?”

Benji cowered slightly, taking a few sheepish steps back, “Please, just—”

“Don’t worry, you’ll enjoy this.” He leant closer and lowered his voice dangerously, “Mr Benjamin Cooper.”

Benji paled as Diesel spun around and took off in the opposite direction. His heart was racing, his pulse throbbing, his lungs constricting. He owed a favour to the most feared boy in school and he knew that nothing he could say or do would make Diesel change his mind. He was going to make him do something truly horrific. Something that would scar him for life.

But what scared him the most was the fact that he had never told Diesel his real name. But knew it. Of course he knew it.

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