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Hotel Jock: Chapter 5

GUY
9.01am

“Don’t play coy with me fucker!”

The sound of Guy slamming his hand on the table rings out. Opposite him is a blank-faced, unmoving Ricky, both hands handcuffed to the chair he’s slumped on. At this sudden noise, he doesn’t even flinch, just rolls his eyes and sits back a little, continuing to chew on the straw in his mouth. Guy winces.

“Should we break for 5?” A depleted Claudio asks from the corner.

“We just took a break,” Guy snaps.

“That was 4 hours ago.” Claudio dangles the lit-up home screen on his phone.

Guy palms his greasy hair back, pausing with both hands clasped behind his head to think. So far all they’ve been able to get out of Ricky is that he’s lactose intolerant, which only came out when Claudio offered him tea (against Guy’s protests). Through all the questions, he’s remained silent. When Guy produced a baggie of cocaine Claudio had confiscated a couple days back and asked, or rather commanded, Ricky to fess up to dealing, he merely stared at him until Guy’d thrown the baggie at his face in fury. For the last hour or so, barely a single word has been uttered in this room.

Ricky suddenly starts laughing, breaking Guy from his trance. He watches as his foe cackles in the chair, the jeer taunting his zombified mind. “WHAT?” He bellows.

There’s a knock on his door, startling him. Of course it’s that goddamn receptionist who barges in. “We’ve got a robbery on the 2nd floor.”

“So? Call security. I’m kind of in the middle of something—” Guy begins to protest.

“Policy is that whenever there’s a robbery, a care package is delivered.” Her eyes wander down to the handcuffs around Ricky’s wrists.

“These fucking care packages— Fine fine fine fine fine I’ll get to it.” He pushes her out, giving Claudio a look before shutting the door.

*

VIKRAM
9.09am

The way Aidan’s perched on the chair on the balcony, head back against the wall and eyes closed; he’s beautiful, scenic. Vikram adores the way the morning sun shines on his neck, coating him in its golden hue. It’s almost as if he was forged by the brushes of Botticelli. It almost makes him forget the way he found him last night.

“Walk me through what happened,” the security man says.

“I was out partying last night, and when I came back my boyf… Aidan was asleep and we had been robbed.”

“Had he been sleeping the whole night?”

“Yes,” Aidan pipes up, having not moved from the balcony, eyes still closed.

“So the robber came in while you were sleeping, stole a bunch of your belongings and then you came back to the place like this?”

The used condom balanced on Aidan’s bare asscheeks flashes in Vikram’s mind. He visualises where it is now, folded in a tissue in his right pocket. He could pull it out right now, use the sperm as evidence, both for the robbery and for his broken heart. To see the vacancy of emotion leave his boyfriend’s face, the way it’s been plastered on all morning from the moment he awoke. To revoke the lie they’ve silently agreed upon, that he found him face-down with his bare condomless asscheeks facing the ceiling – no condom, no lies.

The security guy goes on to ask what valuables were stolen, which Vikram promptly lists out as Aidan continues to just sit there motionless on the balcony. Laptop, tablet, phone. Why is he protecting his boyfriend’s infidelity? Blender, carbonator, his grandmother’s coffee pot. After all the cheating accusations that’s been flung his way. Expensive cleansers, serums and face masks. To think today was the day they were meant to get engaged.

“Face products don’t count as valuables I’m afraid, no matter how expensive.”

“Oh. Right.”

The man leaves, but not before some man briskly drops off a paper bag with the most depressing assortment of teabags, lip balm and Schoolies pamphlets he’s ever seen. He instantly chucks it in the bin.

And so it resumes, watching the love of his life sit still on the balcony, decidedly not telling him about the affair he had last night. Was it with some stranger he met at the rave, or someone from Grindr perhaps? Or was it that twink with the vomit-stained kicks? If he just knew who it was so he would know who to murder.

“I wish I had a cigar,” Aidan mutters.

“You don’t smoke.”

He stares at him, his eyes open now. “I know. I just really need to take a big, long drag on something.”

“You really just slept last night?”

“Yes babe,” Aidan says, flinging his head to face him now. “For the seventeenth time, I slept, and I have no clue when or how or who stole all our stuff.”

Vikram nods, as if attempting to convince himself of this truth. When he’s asked if he was out partying last night, he nods. “Yep, was out all night with them.”

The most feeble and fake grin crosses Aidan’s lips, fleeting quickly and replaced with expressionlessness. He knows he should feel guilty for what he did with Charlie last night, but he oddly just feels relief. At least he isn’t caught up in being the victim of Aidan’s unfaithfulness.

“Should we go and enjoy our last breakfast here then?” Aidan sighs, stretching as he gets up from the balcony. When Vikram doesn’t respond, he frowns. “We check out tonight babe, did you forget?”

“I need to tell you something.”

“Yeah?” Aidan responds mindlessly, shrugging on his jacket.

He hesitates, finding the right words. “Leo’s cheating on Aimee. With another man.”

*

DANNY
9.34am

“Sup faggot.”

Danny hadn’t heard the front door open, let alone his own bedroom door (which he could’ve sworn he had locked maybe two, or was it six?, hours ago). Wrapped in his cocoon of doona and bedsheets, he flicks his head to face the hellish bright light seeping into his pitch black room. There stands Josh, wearing the same tank top and cargo shorts he’s worn the past three days. They really need to do laundry.

Maybe it’s the bags under Danny’s eyes or the empty black hole where his pupils used to be, but Josh chuckles nervously. “Yo chill man, it was just a joke.” Ignoring all social cues, Josh sits on the edge of the bed, not even thinking to take his dirty joggers off as he sits cross-legged. “So I was inside this chick, yeah?”

Here goes Josh launching into another one of his gross perverted sex stories. Danny doesn’t even have the strength to roll his eyes. For the past however many hours, all he’s done is sit up in his self-made quilt armour and let every deranged thought circle his brain. Of Guy, of Ricky, of Josh, of Evan, of Jenny, of Denise – of this whole trip that’s been one massive drug-fucked fucking in the ass.

Ricky caught him mid-gay sex. That means his secret is fully out. How he wishes he was just a guy living in ancient Greece, where taking male lovers was the norm and having a dick up your ass wasn’t any more taboo than being speared in the heel. All he’s ever wanted is to live as who he truly is, to settle down with a handsome man and get a dog or four. Time living the life he desires.

He’s tried throughout the sleepless night to leave, not even pack his things, just leave and get the first flight out of here, but his body has not left the state of shock it entered last night. To leave this room would mean he could bump into Ricky at any point; to leave this doona cocoon would mean he would have to deal with the fact that he’s been outed to the most homophobic person he knows.

“Then I teabagged her tits with my cum-soaked balls and she came right on my left buttcheek.”

The rotted anecdote hangs in the air like an eggy fart. Josh waits excitedly for validation – a high fave, a fist bump, a tongue-flick-through-V-fingers. But when it doesn’t come, he takes it upon himself to initiate the affirmatory bro hug.

The loud thwoop rings out and Josh is instantly on the floor howling in pain. Danny’s arm is flung out, outstretched from the bed covers, but he’s only now catching up to his reflexes. He yanks his arm back, but the nutshot has long been enacted. To his surprise, Josh is cheerful when he stands up a minute or so later. “You fucking beast! Nice nut tap bro. You really got me there.”

Danny blinks.

“I swear each day you’re becoming more one of us,” Josh chuckles. He tousles Danny’s hair approvingly before heading for the door.

“Is he… is Ricky still mad?”

He pauses before turning back. “You know him. He’s not exactly the most open-minded bloke.”

“And you, you don’t…” Danny’s voice falters before he can finish.

“Me?” He seems genuinely taken aback. “Uh… look, I’m chill, I guess. Just don’t do it in front of me or anything.”

He chuckles in an attempt to alleviate some of the tension, but all Danny feels is the pit in his stomach widening more.

“You want anything from the buffet?”

Using all the strength he can muster, Danny shakes his head.

*

AIDAN
11.02am

“Leo’s gay?”

For the first time this morning, Aidan hasn’t been micromanaging every mannerism, every word that escapes his lips. He very narrowly escaped Vikram finding out about what he did with Evan last night, having so far been able to hide behind the guise of being too shocked by the breaking and entering that occurred seemingly while he was asleep. But this revelation has startled him.

“I don’t know what label he identifies with, but he for sure isn’t straight.”

“And Aimee doesn’t know?”

Vikram appears to think for a moment. “You think they’re open? Poly?”

Aidan just shrugs. Finding out the guy who belittled him every day in school (and whose mates actively tormented him and his boyfriend) is queer is a lot to take in. It’s 2023: jocks can fuck men, and yet somehow this revelation is a betrayal. To be gay in their small town in Western Australia was to walk those streets and those school halls with big rainbow targets on their backs, targets that jocks like Leo regularly took aim at with their mockery and slurs and bullying. Why should he know the pleasures of what a prostate orgasm feels like without having put in the hours at the bottom of the food chain?

“Aidan?”

“Huh?”

Vikram’s pointing at his phone. “Aimee and Leo are downstairs wondering if we want brunch.”

He stares at the message exchange, reading the words over and over. He asks for the phone so he can read it closer, then, while Vikram goes and finds his jumper, he scrolls out of the message app and into the search bar. He types the name of the app he’s thinking of, but to his genuine surprise, it’s not there.

Fifteen minutes later and they’re at their usual brunch spot with Leo and Aimee opposite them, already on their second plate of food. Thankfully Vikram does most of the talking regarding the theft – all the valuables looted, how frightening it all is, yadda yadda yadda. Aidan is, after all, still dealing with the shock of having been asleep while it all occurred – he makes sure to give an extra pitiful look when Vikram mentions this, which prompts Aimee to grab his hand from across the table and squeeze it reassuringly.

“People can be so rotten,” Aimee mutters once it’s all been divulged.

“And of all days, I mean what a terrible gift on the day of your…” Leo trails off, shaking his head. “On the day of your departure. From here.”

Aidan frowns.

“Our family’s got a great lawyer that’s been with us for a decade now. I can pass on her deets if you need,” Leo hands over his phone with the screen lit up on the contact details of someone called ‘Sally (Law)’. Aidan takes it, glancing at it for a second before palming it up to Vikram so he can type the phone number into his notes app.

“I can’t imagine sleeping through all that,” says Aimee, causing Aidan’s head to flick back to her. “I just hope you don’t feel too guilty.”

Something triggers in Aidan’s chest – he can’t describe it, but it’s spiky and hot like lava surging through him; a sting in the pits of his stomach, like he’s just been gut-punched. Glancing between them, he realises he hasn’t provided a response. He gulps. “How was the party last night?”

She nods, chewing carelessly on the pineapple bits from the bottom of her second martini. “Great. Bummed you slept through it, but glad you’re feeling better after yesterday.”

He squints just a tad. If only she knew all the things that have transpired since yesterday’s outburst at lunch, including her cheating faggot of a boyfriend. “Leo joined after his jog, did he?”

Leo nods after a few seconds and takes back his phone. “It was perfect jogging weather yesterday.”

“I’m surprised you’ve gone jogging so much during a vacation.” There’s a cautious, alert “babe” muttered softly next to him – Vikram checking him. But he doesn’t care to be reigned in, it’s too late for that now. He’s an explosion of fire on the verge of release.

“Gotta stay fit,” Leo shrugs.

Aidan smiles. His cautious and very annoying boyfriend steers the conversation to university plans, allowing him the opportunity to covertly go on Grindr on his phone, having downloaded it in the elevator and created a blank profile. The first profile in the top left corner is a blank profile – 18 years old and 0 metres away from him. He messages it immediately.

hey
wanna fuck?

Like clockwork, the very loud Grindr notification bell chimes twice from Leo’s phone. The three of them stop, all turning to see the lit up screen on the table. A brief, shuddered chuckle leaves Leo’s chest, immediately replaced by a long, high-pitched exhale, as if all the cogs stopped turning in his brain. His gaze flickers up at the three of them, all witness to the heartbreak in his eyes.

“Was that—?” Aidan begins.

“I can explain—” Leo stammers.

“Oh buddy…” Vikram sighs.

“Just— STOP looking at it, okay?” He pockets his phone so quickly he jabs himself in the ribs. “Oh fuck oh fuck… I swear it was on silent. This isn’t happening…”

The popular jock being found with Grindr on his phone, it’s a tale as old as time, like the Tortoise and the Hare – or in this case, the fag hag and the fag. He shrinks back to observe his victory: Leo floundering, Vikram consoling and Aimee… unmoving. He fixes his gaze on her, watching as she just sits there. She’s not even looking at her gay boyfriend, she’s just staring down at her plate. Is she flabbergasted? Is she pissed? Surprise, the love of her perfect, idealistic life fucks men! And she’s just… sitting there.

“I wasn’t thinking I’d be having this conversation any time soon, if ever… I guess I’m… I’m… gay?” Leo’s voice goes up several pitches at the end of this sentence, so much so that ‘gay’ is but a mere squeak.

Aimee’s head swivels toward Leo at this, recognition at last downloading onto her face. She nods slowly, reassuringly. Hand on his, thumb stroking his. Like all things in her life, it’s a performance.

“I’m, uh, sorry it’s come out this way, so suddenly,” Leo glances in the direction of his girlfriend.

“We’re the best people to come out to, honestly,” Vikram says as he pats his shoulder.

“I’ve known ever since I can remember, but it feels so liberating to finally—”

“You knew,” Aidan interrupts.

They turn to stare at him. The faint sounds of a dying hyperventilation escaping from Leo’s lips is the only thing scoring the stare-off.

“What?”

“You knew he was gay.”

Aimee glares. Her right eyebrow twitches; he doesn’t know if she wants to silence him or murder him.

“Babe maybe you should just…”

“Have you known this whole time?”

With all three pairs of eyes now on her, Aimee’s face begins to thaw from its composure. She glances between them, eyes widening when she reaches her supposed boyfriend – but he doesn’t meet her eyes, just bows his head low. The game has been won.

“I’m gay too.”

Aidan leans forward, his smugness evaporating. “What? Huh? What?”

“You’re— both gay?” Vikram stammers.

“We’re beards, and have been for a couple years now.”

“But you’ve only been dating for a couple years.”

“Yeah.”

“You’re the most popular couple in school.”

“Yeah.”

The popular jock and the head cheerleader. Both gay and both lying to everyone except each other. What Aidan had thought was a shallow babe-fuelled regurgitation of heteronormative white suburbia is actually a calculated mirage.

“Aimee approached me about it when she caught me checking out some guy’s ass in gym. We were both looking to increase our status while keeping people off our trail, so we gave it a shot. We both get to sleep with whoever and we get to be the ‘it’ couple of our school,” Leo admits.

“It was the perfect deal,” Aimee sighs.

“How didn’t anyone find out?”

“No hook-ups within a 15km radius. Anyone we sleep with must be from at least three towns over,” she shrugs. “Fake names, fake Instagram handles, even a fake licence plate.”

“Someone’s watched Identity Thief starring Melissa McCarthy,” Aidan mutters.

“So no one else knows?”

They shake their heads. “We’re not ready yet to announce it to the world or anything. We’ve talked about telling you a few times though. We look up to you both so much – how you so graciously ward off the hate and love each other out in the open. You’re an inspiration.”

Aidan sits back in his chair. All the chips are out on the pool table now, or whatever the heterosexual aphorism is. The two people whose status he despised throughout high school, who he thought were homophobic sympathisers, were actually just frightened beards hiding in the same closet he once hid in. The loathing’s still there, but he also empathises with where they’re coming from. And after everything that’s happened on this godforsaken trip, that’s the thing that makes him want to throw up the most.

“So what now?” Leo asks, the fear still glistening in his eyes.

Aimee strokes his arm as affectionately as before. “No more hiding. At least for today, we get to be who we truly are.”

*

GUY
1.44pm

“You’re so fucked mate,” Ricky smirks.

Guy’s mid-email with their sunscreen supplier, the still-handcuffed Ricky perched in his periphery. He’s changed out of his volunteer uniform and into something he can actually breath in, the sweaty staleness of his office becoming more and more apparent as the day goes on. He raises an eyebrow but continues typing, not giving Ricky the satisfaction of a response.

“This whole week you’ve spent chasing after me like a Tom and Jerry cartoon and you’ve failed to keep the resort safe,” he continues. “And you still haven’t beaten me.”

“You’re cuffed to that chair, aren’t you?” Guy remarks.

“Handcuffed to a chair is not beaten. Handcuffed to a chair is handcuffed to a chair.”

Guy sends the email and shuts his laptop, bending down to place it in his backpack. When he turns back to Ricky, he’s as sly as ever.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last day you’re employed here.”

“And I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t make it out of this room,” Guy spits.

“Threatening me now?” Ricky sits up giddily. “I’m sure that your boss will be pleased to find out you’ve handcuffed, unjustly detained and now threatened a hotel guest.”

The two sit still, frozen in place as they regard one another. How a vile, pathetic school dropout could rival him in this twisted game fuels Guy with more fury than he’s felt in all his years with Red Snakes. The smugness of this absolute wanker, sitting here and chewing on his—

Ricky’s mouth is still, no straw dangling limply from his mouth. For the first time since last night, his office hasn’t been filled with the maddening drone of his chewing. Guy blinks, and then there’s a clink, and the sound of handcuffs hitting the floor ringing throughout the room. A shared look of temptation, of expectation. And with a giant leap, he’s just short of nabbing Ricky’s leg as he shoots out the door, Guy only a breath behind him. Their joggers screech against the lobby’s concrete tiles. Ricky reaches an elevator just as the doors close in Guy’s face, a barrage of insults bellowing out of him. No matter, Guy thinks. He knows exactly where he’s going.

*

DANNY
1.58pm

His bags are packed and an earlier flight ticket downloaded onto his phone. Standing over the toilet bowl having his last piss in this place, he finally allows himself a second to exhale. He’s doing it, he’s escaping before Ricky or Josh or Evan or anyone notices he’s gone. A ding from his phone means his Uber must be outside.

The front door to their room bursts open, banging against the adjacent wall and causing Danny to almost trip over, piss flying everywhere.

“WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU?!”

He holds his breath, trying desperately to clench his half-emptied bladder. Failing to do so, he strokes his foreskin back in place and places his thumb over his penis, clenching his teeth as he stands there frozen in darkness, nothing but piss warming its way down his fingers. He’s glad the bathroom light was broken last night, or else it’d give him away.

“YOU FUCKER!!!”

Cupboards banging in the kitchen, the balcony door screeching open. As covertly as possible, he zips back up his jorts and taps 000 into his phone. Suddenly the bathroom door is flung open, the lock breaking in an instant and his phone smashing on the ground. A hand shoves him hard into the wall and he feels another ball up into a fist and strike his gut. In the darkness, all he can make out is the yelling, screaming figure in front of him. Without a second to think, he presses his wet hands into his assailant’s face, slapping him about. Taking his chance, he knees him in the balls, grabbing his caved body and plunging him to the toilet. He flushes, using his knee to force the man’s neck down. The sound of gargling swirls around the narrow room. A furious fist pummels at his knee, but he doubles down, going in for another swirlie.

Staggering out of the bathroom, Danny flies to his bedroom and grabs his wallet and backpack, leaving his suitcase behind. He runs out but meets the attacker in the hallway, standing there with soaked hair covering his eyes and rage steaming from his body. Only now that he’s out in the light, Danny realises it’s not Ricky or Josh who’s come in, but the Red Snakes worker who took his butthole virginity not even 24 hours before.

“I’M GONNA FUCKING KILL YOU RICKY!”

Panic shoots through his spine. “I’m— I’m not…” he begins to say, but the guy lunges at him, knocking them both down to the ground. He takes a few punches to the face before spitting up at him. The guy recoils, takes a deep breath then screams in his face, bearing his yellow teeth. He spits again, this time managing to break out from his grasp and back away to the balcony.

“I’m not Ricky!” he exclaims.

The guy swipes at his face, as if trying to wipe the toilet water from his own eyes. When he opens them, they’re glazed in red and he’s blinking like crazy.

“I’M GONNA END YOU!”

Danny takes a few more steps backward, his shoe hitting the groove in the floor that separates the room from the balcony’s sliding door. The man takes another dive at him but he scoots out of the way just in time and is missed completely. His shoe hits the bottom of the door, sending him flying out the balcony, landing on his stomach on the railing, half his body dangling off the edge while his legs hang back this side. For a split second his body stays like that, caught in the pendulum between life and death. Then it begins to tip, his legs arching higher and higher.

Seeing this, Danny jumps to the balcony and grabs whatever he can, his fingers clasping onto some article of clothing. He pulls, trying with all his might to hoist the man back up. But it’s no use, his legs slipping until his entire body is on the other side of the railing, the only thing stopping him from falling being his own underwear that Danny’s mercifully grasping onto. The guy silently writhes, kicking against the cement balcony, hands slapping the walls as he tries to lever himself back up. With each kick and each slap, his body twirls round and round the tighty whities. Soon the writhing stops and is replaced by a gentle swinging. There’s a scream from below and Danny looks down to see the underwear has roped its way around the man’s neck. His dying hands cling tightly to the underwear. Within seconds, his neck droops, the gargling stops. Danny releases, cupping his mouth in shock, the body hitting the ground with a thud just a moment later.

Noise gathers below, people assumedly gathering around the victim. Danny flails away from the ledge, crouching down until all he can see in front of him is the blue sky. A shuddered breath escapes his dry, cracked lips. He leaps up, re-entering the room and bolting out the door, his wallet and backpack remaining where he left them on the hallway floor. He doesn’t bother with the lifts, just runs down the stairs. He flees the lobby in slow motion, the image of the man’s dying dangling body stabbing his mind. He can see the Uber parked out front, the black car merging with the man’s limp body. He can make it.

Danny’s knocked to the ground and his arms folded behind his back. Instructions are being ordered into his ear, but he can’t hear them.

“You jocks are all the same,” he can just make out.

A nametag that reads CLAUDIO blurs in and out of focus; it crashes like a wave into the ocean of the bright blue sky outside, and he’s free; he’s free from Ricky and Josh and the man’s swinging corpse. All he sees is blue. He erupts into a fit of laughter, his giggling not stopping until he’s in the back of a police car and driven far away from the hotel.

*

DENISE
2.41pm

She really shouldn’t have taken molly last night. If the eight hour comedown wasn’t bad enough, she’s now standing in the hotel lobby in just her bikini and beach towel, teeth chattering as she relays to an officer for the third time in the past half hour what it was like having a man fall to his death in front of her. How detailed do they expect her to go? A man fell to his death, kersplat. The end! And where the hell is that hot coffee she asked for twenty minutes ago? The 7-Eleven is literally right next door.

“And the perpetrator? What did you notice about him?”

“Oh, I didn’t really get a good look at the guy,” Denise says as she shivers. The officer nods, closing his notepad and beckoning for her to leave. She pauses, tilting her head. “He did kinda look like this gay guy I hooked up with my first night here, but he was such a dweeb, he seriously wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

The officer chuckles. “I just watched that new TV show about Versace. You’d be surprised the murderous lengths poofs can get up to.”

Denise just shrugs. “Okay?”

“At least they do well in prison.”

Finally someone brings her the coffee she asked for, and soon all her worries are out the window.

*

VIKRAM
2.48pm

“I was going to propose,” he says.

“Here?” Aidan says in shock.

“Yeah. Today.”

The two sit on the hill overlooking the ocean, Aidan’s hands in his.

“I’ve been such a nervous wreck this whole week. That’s why I’ve been going out to the raves each night with Leo and Aimee. I just needed to be out of my own mind for a bit.”

Unlike this morning, Aidan actually seems to be listening to what he’s saying. It’s like someone flicked the switch in his moody boyfriend’s brain and he’s back to being a functioning human being, not some sad pensive widower in an old black and white French film.

“That’s what you saw me doing on the beach that night. I was practising proposing with Charlie, and I guess from far away it must’ve looked like—”

“Like you were sucking him off,” Aidan finishes, realisation hitting him. He’s silent for a moment, eventually adding, “I was high on a lot of cocaine.”

“So much cocaine, babe.”

“And I did try to escape two nights ago. Because I thought I saw what I thought I saw, and you were acting like everything was fine when it wasn’t. So I met this cool guy and his Polish exchange student, and they took me to a warehouse party.” He pauses. “But that’s all it was, I swear. Just a party, and then I came straight back.”

“That’s all it was too, with Leo, with Aimee. With Charlie. It was just a momentary escape from the anxiety I was feeling.”

Aidan rests on the nape of his neck. Softly, he whispers, “we’re gonna be okay, babe.”

They remain in this intimate tableau, Aidan with his eyes closed and Vikram gazing out at the beach below. The condom wrapper once again blurs into focus in his mind’s eye, but he’s reminded of Charlie’s sweet breath in his ear from last night. So they both fucked up this trip. At least they’re finishing it on an even playing field.

After some time, he stands and grabs Aidan’s hand. He leads him down the hill and along the shore. Reaching their secluded spot behind the trees, he pulls down his shorts to reveal he’s wearing one of Aidan’s white jockstraps. He takes it off and hands it to him. “I had a hunch.”

Aidan’s stifled whimpers fill his ear, echoed only by the slapping of his groin against his behind. The smell of sex permeates the hidden hermitage. He briefly pulls out, grabs the legholes of the jockstrap and yanks it up Aidan’s ass before continuing the ploughing. Aidan moans like he’s never moaned before. When he can’t hold it back any more, he shoots all over the tree, marking the leaves and the branches like calligraphy on a fresh sheet of paper. Vikram climaxes not long after, but he doesn’t decelerate his thrusts, driving his cum deeper into Aidan’s abused hole.

*

JOSH
4.40pm

“11k each, that’s fuuuuucked,” Josh whoops.

Ricky finishes flicking through the notes and hands one pile to Josh. They high five, the two snickering in the back of the Uber as it nears the airport.

“I told you it’d be worth the trip. Party for a week, bang lots of hot fresh 18 year olds and then get outta there all that much richer.”

“Oh trust man, I am always in for one of your schemes,” Josh grins.

“What’s the use in making bank if I can’t share it with my bro?”

“Speaking of, I believe there’s another payment I’m to be given?”

Ricky rolls his eyes before forking over fifty bucks.

“I told you he’d turn out to be gay, dude,” Josh mutters.

Ricky sneers. “If he’d have just told us he was gay, then we coulda set him up with a handsome-lookin’ bloke.”

“Really?” He asks.

“Fuck no, bro. I would’ve hung him by his tighty whities off that balcony myself.”

Josh turns to look out the window and chuckles. Ricky’s always one to be extreme with his views. Still, at least it’s not his undies being hung.

“I’m headed to Byron Bay next Wednesday. They’re doing Schoolies till the weekend if you’re looking to double your salary,” Ricky says between huffs of his vape.

Josh smiles. “Looks like I’m heading to Byron Bay.”

*

JENNY
6.12pm

“Can I get you two anything?”

“Two champers, please,” Jenny says.

The hostess smiles. “Are you Polish? I’m from Olsztyn.”

“Always lovely to meet a fellow Pole,” Jenny chuckles lightly.

Once the woman’s left, she rolls her eyes. “This is the last time I’m doing a Polish exchange student. Next thing I know I’ll be doing the accent in my sleep,” she says in her regular American accent.

“You’re so convincing as a Polish woman though,” Evan replies.

“Yeah obviously, but I hate it. I mean I did all those Quizlets and I still know nothing about the country.”

“Surely you know who the prime minister is though?”

“Marie Curie.”

He stares at her as she struggles to get the airplane blanket out of the packaging. “Maybe it is for the best if you were to choose a different nationality. Your German was pretty good if I remember.”

Without missing a beat, she says, “Oh mein Gott! Zees hötel is full of garbagen people!”

They laugh so hard the person behind them kicks the back of their seats. Evan retrieves his laptop from his carrybag, pulling up a spreadsheet and angling it towards Jenny. “So Byron Bay next week. Ready to do it all again?”

“What, like partying and doing ket with some gays takes work?” She titters.

“I’m just gonna check our flight info for Sunday, can you hotspot for a sec?”

Jenny pulls out her phone and says a few seconds later, “it’s not coming up.”

“Oh it should be under Aidan’s MacBook Pro.”

“Ah, got it.”

“Thanks.”

Jenny sits back and stares out the window, watching the workers outside load the airplane. “I think I will choose German. Yeah. Exchange student from Germany. Inviting, isn’t it?”

*

AIDAN
11.11pm

Sitting by himself near the duty free shops, Aidan surveys the families of people pass by him. He can guess which travellers are about to embark on their trip and which are returning home; there’s an innocence, a naivety that those who are just starting their holiday have that those returning don’t. He thinks back to five days ago, when he was in this exact airport having just landed, filled with excitement at spending the whole week with Vikram.

The Grindr notification bell dings, and for a split second he’s taken back to that day on the beach. But he looks over to where Leo’s phone rests on the table and his heart eases. It’s a message from someone called human toilet and it reads: hey, piss in my mouth? Good for him.

He clocks the time, 11.11pm. Another angel number, funny that. Aimee’s tinny voice pierces its way into his ear and he looks up to see them returning with coffees. He closes out of Instagram.

“Thanks diva,” Aimee says as he passes her her phone and handbag.

“You guys inspire us, you know,” Aidan says as he rests his head on Vikram’s shoulder.

A genuine look of concern crosses Aimee’s face. “Yeah?”

“Like, you’re not even dating, and yet the kindness and the care you show one another… the affection is still there. It’s kinda sweet actually. Like no matter what happens, you’ve still got each other.”

Leo and Aimee exchange a smile. “Like we said, we feel the same way about you two. Talk about a power couple!”

Vikram chuckles. “No, we haven’t really been that much of a power couple this past week. But you’ve helped rekindle that flame in us.”

The four take turns hugging each other before saying their goodbyes – Aidan and Vikram back to Perth, while the other two are off to Tasmania to visit one of Aimee’s family friends.

“They really are best friends in spite of it all,” Vikram tells Aidan once they’ve boarded their plane. “I’m glad you warmed up to them.”

“All I needed was something to prove that they weren’t just boring basic bitches,” Aidan offers a small smile.

He plants a kiss on Vikram’s cheek before settling into the nape of his neck, both scrolling on their phones as they wait for take-off. They stay like this for a few minutes before Vikram sits up. “Aimee just came out.”

“What?”

“On Insta. She’s made a post saying they’re both gay.”

“Oh my god, no way,” Aidan says with monotony, not even glancing at Vikram’s phone. “That’s crazy.”

“I thought they both weren’t ready yet.”

Aidan snuggles into Vikram’s chest, mumbling “we must’ve really inspired them.” He closes his eyes, gently stroking his arm. He’s missed being able to perch himself on Vikram like an annoying house cat.

“Fuck, some of these comments are awful,” Vikram whispers, tilting the screen to show Aidan.

He keeps his eyes closed though, making no effort to look. “You know what our school was like. There was bound to be people who’d turn on them once they came out. It was inevitable, really.” Vikram seems to mm-hmm in agreement.

Aidan stays like this, not moving when a flight attendant performs the evacuation procedure demonstration or when they take off, or even when Vikram bombards him softly with head kisses. He just stays there with his eyes closed, gratified, twirling the ring on his finger.

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Hotel Jock: Chapter 4

DANNY
8.45am

Joy surrounding him. People all around in a united trance. Long after the party ends, it resurrects itself in Danny’s dreams, the four on the floor beat orchestrating his slumber on the wet ground of the warehouse. He doesn’t remember waking up, just that at some point the rave in his mind slowly began to fade, leaving behind the dimly lit grey walls that have been quiet for some time now.

To his left, he spots Jenny who’s still asleep and lying with one leg sprawled across a stranger. He’s about to get up when directly in front of him, he clocks Evan and Aidan curled up in one another in the corner. He rubs his eyes, questioning if he’s actually transitioned to reality, but their bodies remain twisted in one another, their faces just a breath apart. Narrowly avoiding tripping over the sleeping bodies, he forces his way outside.

The cool morning air does nothing to quell the disappointment pulsing to his heart. The first boy he kissed and the hottest boy he’s ever seen (who he was supposed to hook up with) together in each other’s arms. The image is locked in his mind. Things were less complicated when he was a fresh-faced virgin gay who’d never so much as kissed a boy. Now all he can think about is those boys who made him feel so special kissing other boys, kissing their boyfriends that they don’t even want. Imagine having someone who has vowed to love you forever and discarding him.

Outside the warehouse, there’s a few people lingering around. Seeing the array of vehicles pooled down the road, Danny decides to head straight for them. He soon reaches the golf buggy they arrived on and pauses in front of it, but decides to leave it be. A few metres away, there’s a rentable e-scooter he resolves to take instead. He boots up the app and within a couple minutes, he’s kicked off and rolling down the driveway.

“Hey! Wait up!”

He grinds to a halt. When it’s Aidan jogging towards him, a sadistic blend of relief and dread flushes his cheeks the brightest of reds.

*

GUY
9.01am

The sound of diarrhoea rips into the toilet in the stall next to him. Guy groans. With his hand (that he can’t remember if it’s clean), he wipes the drool that has pooled on his chin and sits up. He’s still in his clothes from the day before, or was it the day before that? He goes to sniff to check, but decides it’s probably better if he doesn’t figure it out.

Back in his office, there’s a sticky note sitting on top of the paperwork that’s been piling up since Tuesday. Call Garett ASAP! His heart sinks. He must’ve missed a call from Garett throughout all this Ricky mess. In the past when he’s been told to call his boss, it’s usually been about complaints he’s received or a negative performance review. Very rarely has it ever been to talk about something good Guy’s done in the organisation.

Garett picks up after one ring. “Janet says you were MIA all day yesterday. Where have you been?” Straight to business, as usual.

“I’ve just been taking care of the festivities down at the beach.”

“Yes, about that – reception’s been receiving some complaints about a very strange man in a Red Snakes uniform who’s been skulking around the beach and giving people weird looks. Would you mind telling me why that’s taking precedence over fixing the care package restocking issue that’s been going on for a week now?” Guy tries to explain himself but he just gets bulldozed over. “I don’t appreciate half my inbox being about how my incompetent events coordinator is zombieing around the Gold Coast’s highest rated resort like it’s some haunted house attraction.”

“But sir, don’t you think keeping the resort safe from toolies is more important than some stupid care packages?”

“Care packages are VERY important. You think those 18-year olds would be applying sunscreen if it weren’t for the little 15ml bottles in those packages? Or they’d be keeping their lips moisturised if it weren’t for the lip balms we provide? Don’t put yourself above a care package.”

“But—”

“And I don’t give a fuck about a couple of toolies. We get them every year. I give a fuck about you doing your job, and from what I’ve heard, the hotel’s turned into an utter crackhouse!”

“Yes sir, I’ll—”

“You’ve got until the end of the day to have new supplies on their way, or you and I are going to have a serious chat about your future at this company.”

The line goes dead, which Guy doesn’t hear as he’s yelling obscenities at the ceiling.

*

AIDAN
9.06am

“How did you find the party?” Danny asks.

It’s been several minutes of them riding the one e-scooter through the suburban streets in silence, bodies pressed uncomfortably close to each other. Aidan hasn’t stopped thinking about lying there in Evan’s arms. How even in sleep, his body clung to his. How it felt when his slow exhale of air brushed against his face. Lying there in the early hours of the morning, he’d realised that it was the first time all week that he’d woken up in someone’s arms.

He tries to blink his eyes awake. “Good, yeah. That was some party.”

“Yeah, it was great…” Danny trails off. “Never been to anything like that in my life.”

“Me neither,” Aidan admits, secretly preferring when they weren’t speaking. Out of the corner of his eye, he thinks he sees Danny go to say something, but nothing leaves his mouth.

Silence resumes as they traverse a park that Danny’s phone map says is a shortcut back to the hotel. Back to the hotel. His pre-prepared lie scrolls through his mind’s eye like a teleprompter. I needed some space so I went for a walk. I bumped into some friends from primary school who I hadn’t seen in ages and, exhausted from the nights of relentless partying, we had a chill campfire in the backyard of their Airbnb and also my phone died and also we slept under the stars.

When they reach the hotel, they dump the scooter out the front and share an awkward goodbye. Danny says he’s going for a walk, so Aidan enters the hotel alone, dread building as the elevator claws its way to the 2nd floor. He checks his phone and for a millisecond finds solace in the absence of notifications, but the reality of his Do Not Disturb setting being on since yesterday afternoon swiftly shatters that solace.

He unlocks the door, opening it to find Leo standing over Vikram at the dining table. They’re both watching something on Vikram’s phone, which doesn’t become clear until after several seconds, when Aidan hears Jenny’s familiar high-pitched squeal. They look up, mouths slightly agape at his sudden reappearance.

“What’s this?” Vikram asks, holding his phone up. Getting a good look at it now, he realises it’s a video taken at the gay rave last night. Rina Sawayama is blaring and Danny, Evan and Jenny can be seen dancing amongst a crowd. At the top of the screen, he recognises his own profile picture and username. “This just came on your story, like, five minutes ago.”

“Uh…” Aidan stammers, dropping his backpack to the ground and pulling out his own phone to get his Instagram up. He doesn’t even remember posting that video yet there it is on his story. The timestamp reveals it was made at 6.31pm last night, but it must’ve just been posted this morning as it has only 11 views.

Leo gets up. “I’m gonna let you two hash this out.” He nods at Vikram, whose gaze remains fixed on Aidan in confusion.

“I called you like 10 times last night. I didn’t even know if you were still in the state or if you were safe, and this whole time you were just out partying?”

“So— yeah, I mean…” Aidan stutters, desperately searching his mental script for anything he can salvage. “I, um— I was— yeah, I was out. Partying, that is. Last night.”

“And you couldn’t even text me to let me know?”

“I made some new friends and I honestly just lost track of time. I’m sorry, babe.”

“You’ve just been acting so weird this whole trip.”

Aidan falters, letting the weight of that sentence hang in the air for a bit. “I mean, let’s not act like you didn’t do the same thing to me the night before.” Vikram looks taken aback, but he doesn’t stop. “Worried sick, waiting for you to tell me where you were – that was me all of yesterday.”

“You didn’t call me—”

“And did you call me to tell me where you were?”

Neither speak for a while. Aidan’s so used to being able to tell exactly what Vikram’s thinking from his facial expressions, but when he looks now, all he sees is an absent frown.

“So you really just met some new friends and partied last night?” Vikram eventually asks.

“Yep.”

“Cool.”

“And you?”

“Yeah, partied with Leo and Aimee and them.”

And them. “Cool.”

Aidan clicks his tongue. “Well, I better shower. Y’know, after the long night.”

Vikram gestures for him to do as he pleases and he goes to take off his shoes when he shudders still. On his feet aren’t the red Adidas joggers he’s worn all week, but instead a pair of white Nike Air-Force Ones with dried vomit-stains splattered on the top. A gasp leaves his throat before he can stop it, and he quickly glances at Vikram, locking eyes with him. They stay like this for way too long.

He chuckles, forcefully. “Put on the wrong shoes.” Vikram just nods slowly as he darts to the bathroom and quickly shuts the door.

*

RICKY
9.08am

“You need to come back,” Josh says over the phone.

“You know that if I step even one foot in that hotel, that wanker’s gonna be all over me.”

“Just look at the videos I’m about to send to you.”

Ricky’s by the shore a few kilometres down from the resort. To his left, a young family heading out to get an early morning swim in. The boy (presumably the older brother) holds his younger sister’s hand as they gallop to the water, squealing with glee as the cold water pools around their feet. The father and mother are laughing, holding each other as this moment is snapped forever in their memories. How touching, Ricky thinks to himself. Although he’s sure he sold MDMA to the father just last night.

“Got it?”

Ricky opens up WhatsApp and scrolls down to find three videos sent by Josh. He plays the first, the second, the third, but they’re all pretty much the same – some house party where he can hear Danny’s voice screaming over the top.

“These just synced to the iCloud on his laptop this morning. You hear that? Lady Gaga. Rina Sawayama. Slayyyter.” Josh pauses for dramatic effect. “You see where I’m going with this?”

“Wait, so he is straight?”

“What?”

“They’re all women you mentioned. I’m assuming if he likes them, then he like-a the ladies.”

“No, dude. I, uh, have a gay cousin, who’s actually not that bad; he ain’t that faggy and that. He told me that poofs go crazy for these female pop stars like Lady Gaga. And look! Shirtless men all dancing with one another.”

“You might be onto something here. God, where would I be without my best bro?”

*

DANNY
10.45am

When Danny returns to the flat, he’s not surprised to find it empty, the air in the room stale like no one’s opened a window for days. He is surprised though to find it pretty much how he left it Tuesday night, with remnants of the party (or the hetero rave as Jenny had kept calling it) cluttering much of the floorspace. He wades through the mess to his room, which he’s glad to find only has a couple of beer cans on the floor.

With working Wifi once again, he goes through his videos from last night, choosing one of Jenny attempting to belly dance but ending up wheezing on the floor to post to his close friends story. Checking his notifications, he’s dismayed to find neither Evan, Jenny nor Aidan have followed him back. What he does find though are several messages from Ricky, received within the last hour.

You attend some faggot convention last night boy? 8:20pm

Below the message is a slightly-blurry photo from the rave last night. Unfortunately for Danny, his mouth pressed firmly inside Aidan’s mouth is completely in focus.

When were you gonna tell me you were a poofter dude? 8:20pm
After all this time Josh and I spent trying to hook you up with hot girls 8:20pm
Can’t believe we wasted our time on a fucking homo 8:22pm

Danny locks his phone, determined to avoid reading the rest of the messages. It finally happened; Ricky knows. He tries to take a deep breath to quell his spiralling mind, but suddenly the room’s stuffiness is suffocating him. Flinging his phone to the ground, he grabs his room key and bolts out of the room, not stopping until his bare feet are caked with a few kilometres’ worth of sand.

*

VIKRAM
2.12pm

This is the most awkward lunch Vikram’s ever had in his entire life. There’s technically three of them in the conversation, but it’s more a one-woman monologue performed by Aimee, with him and his boyfriend being the two audience members who keep catching each other’s eye and looking away. Even now as he pummels more scrambled eggs into his mouth as Aimee’s blabbing about her skincare routine, Aidan can’t even keep his eye contact for more than a split second.

“Coconut oil, huh,” Vikram mutters.

“Yeah, pure unrefined coconut oil twice a day,” Aimee says gleefully, oblivious to the fact that she’s the only one who wants to be there.

“Babe, you tried coconut oil a few times didn’t you?” Vikram offers.

“Sure did,” Aidan nods, staring down the fork on his plate.

Vikram exhales rather loudly. If his own boyfriend who was meant to be his fiancé in 24 hours isn’t even going to look at him, then what’s the point of sitting here and pretending to be cordial?

“So a campfire under the stars sounds fun. Maybe we can join tonight and meet your friends?” Aimee asks.

“Oh, they’ve, um, already left,” Aidan mumbles.

“Left before the last night of Schoolies? Who even does that?” Aimee exclaims, taking a swig of her martini. “Well we can do one just the five of us, right?”

Aidan doesn’t say anything, just prods his half-eaten burger with his fork. When prompted again by Aimee, he nods. “Can’t wait to do that with the five of us, right Vikram?”

Vikram gives an exaggerated scoff. To his surprise, Aidan turns to stare directly at him, his face completely expressionless. Next to them (although it might as well be on the other side of the country), Aimee chuckles nervously. “Leo should be getting back from his jog anytime soon—”

“What’s your problem?” Vikram blurts.

Aidan raises one eyebrow. “What?”

“Why are you being so weird?”

“I’m literally just sitting here eating my burger.”

“Well judging by the two bites you’ve taken, you’re not doing very well at that.”

Aidan’s fork clatters onto the plate loudly, causing a few nearby guests to glance in their direction. From the corner of his eye, Vikram spots Aimee looking absolutely mortified.

“You’ve abandoned me this whole trip, you’re always spending time with Charlie and people you don’t even like, but then the second I do the same you go completely batshit!”

“It’s not my fault that we came to Schoolies and every night you’d rather stay in bed than go out and party.”

“Well maybe that’s because I don’t wanna watch my boyfriend suck off some guy he just met!”

Aidan jolts up, sending his chair flying back a metre or so. There are tears welling in his eyes, but Vikram can tell he’s fighting every urge to cry right now. He stands up too. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“I saw you two on the beach Tuesday night, I saw you cheat with my own eyes.”

“CHEAT? You’re the one wearing some random guy’s vomit-stained shoes, wanna tell me where you got them from? Because if I’m not mistaken, they belong to that twink with that tragic dye job who’s the spitting image of your ex!”

“Go fuck Charlie you cheating liar!” Aidan snaps, heading straight for the door.

A second after he’s gone, Leo comes jogging in, his running gear soaked in sweat. “Hey guys, what did I miss?”

Vikram glares at the ground as Aimee’s left stammering, struggling to articulate what just happened.

*

GUY
5.12pm

If Guy has to make one more bloody phone call about the care packages.

When Claudio clocks in for his shift, Guy immediately drags him into his office. “Claudio, I’ve been grounded. I need you to continue the mission for me.”

“Sir, with all due respect, aren’t there any other volunteers you can call on?

“You’re the only one I can trust not to rat me out to Garett. Besides, don’t you want revenge for that blood-curdling hanging wedgie?”

“I kinda just wanna move on, actually,” he sighs. “Fixating on this won’t get you anywhere, dude. My therapist shared this great mantra with me the other week—”

“And what, let that fucker win? Guys like him always win. For once, I just want to see the smug look on his face when I—”

The sudden appearance of a man entering room 207 on the security cam footage grabs both their attention. “Shit that’s— that’s—” Guy doesn’t even finish his thought and just darts for the door. Before going, he turns back for a brief moment. “You keep your eyes on the cams. If anyone asks, I’m in warehouse forklifting in new supplies.”

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck Guy mutters under his breath, furiously pressing the elevator button dozens of times before its doors open. He might not have Ricky, but Ricky’s friend is all the lead he needs. He reemerges onto the 2nd floor and within seconds has the door to room 207 flung open, revealing a stunned Danny who himself is right in front of the door, suitcase in one hand behind him and swipe card in the other.

“Oh you’re not going anywhere,” he says, closing the door behind him and taking a few steps towards him. “I remember you from the first night. You’re wedgie boy – Ricky’s friend.”

Danny seems taken aback, stuttering for a couple seconds. “Um, I— I actually don’t think he’d call me that as of last night.”

“What? He’s staying in this room, room 207, right?”

Danny nods, clutching the handle of his suitcase tight. “He is and I’m sure whatever trouble he’s gotten into you can sort out with him. I really have to go now.”

Guy doesn’t budge, continuing to block his access to the door. “If you bring me to him, you’re free to leave.”

Tears begin forming in the corner of Danny’s eyes, and he seems to struggle to keep them back. “I don’t know where he is, can you please just let me—”

“Is there anything you want? Pack of red snakes? A bigger room? Or— I know, we’ll extend your stay for two nights, free of charge. Is that what you want?”

“Just let me get out of here!” Danny yells, pushing his suitcase to the ground, tears well and truly coming down now. He begins to bawl, leaving Guy standing there confused and unsure what to do with his hands. After a few more sobs, he cries, “Why doesn’t anyone love me?”

“Oh gosh,” Guy mumbles, fidgeting with his hands. He eventually resolves to gingerly pat him on the shoulder. “I’m sure whoever she is, you’re better off.”

“What? I’m gay as fuck, man,” he snivels.

“Oh.”

“It’s like everyone else gets to have a boyfriend and sleep with all the men they want, and here I am – I’m a butt virgin. My old friends hate me, my new friends won’t follow me back and I’m just never ever gonna be in love. I’m unloveable!”

Guy watches as he stands there, wiping his nose and blinking back the rest of his tears. His eyes wander to the clock on the wall, 5:30pm. He needs to find Ricky ASAP before any of the other staff notices he’s gone, but he’s gonna get nowhere with this boy in his snivelling state. This is his last shot at finding Ricky, he might not get another chance.

He cups Danny’s face with his hand. “You are not unloveable. And as for the virgin stuff, well… maybe I can help with that.”

His lips are wet and salty from the tears, but he leans into it. He feels him reciprocate, letting their mouths engage in this fast, almost enraged dance. His right hand still cupping his face, he pulls his body close to his with his other hand. Soon he’s carrying Danny with his legs around his waist, their making out growing hotter and faster as desire takes control.

“Where?” Guy grunts between kisses, gripping his body tightly as he hovers between the bedrooms.

“First on the right.”

Guy leads them there, but through the fury of passion (and with Danny’s body blocking his sight), he accidentally steers into the bathroom, banging the wall in an attempt to overcorrect and knocking the light switch from its socket. They erupt into laughter as they’re flooded in darkness. “Don’t worry, they’re super cheap. I’ll do a maintenance request later.”

Danny jumps off Guy’s waist, deciding instead to lead him to his room by pulling on his belt buckle instead.

*

VIKRAM
5.41pm

Drink in hand, vape in the other hand, he’s not thinking about Aidan. Clumped together in the mosh pit, his body being touched on all sides and he’s not thinking about Aidan. Filming videos of Charlie giving Aimee a piggyback ride for his Insta story and he’s not thinking about Aidan. And when Charlie’s hand brushes against his and lingers, he’s definitely not thinking about Aidan.

The song changes to some old LMFAO hit and all the straight people in the crowd lose their shit. Taking this as his cue to have a breather, Vikram exits the mosh and finds a spot under a tree that’s bare, save for a few red solo cups surrounding it and a condom hanging from a branch. Plopping himself on the ground, he massages his forehead, wishing the noises of the crowd and the music and his deafening thoughts of Aidan would all just stop and let him be in peace.

“You ok?” The voice slices through the cacophony in his mind. Charlie is the exact opposite of the peace he needs right now. “Look, I know we haven’t had a chance to talk since yesterday, but if you really wanna live your life in holy monogamy then I guess there’s—”

Vikram silences him by putting his lips onto his. Charlie’s lips, Charlie’s tongue, Charlie’s spit in his mouth. Aidan still in his mind.

Charlie pulls away after a few moments of steamy makeout, but Vikram interrupts. “Shut up. Just shut up and follow me.”

“But—”

“We’re done. He’s cheating on me with some twink rat, so I’m cheating on him. But we’re done, so, it’s not even cheating.”

He grabs Charlie’s hand and pulls him away from the mass of people, running across the sand like two boys who are late for class. It’s not until they’ve reached a part of the beach the rave hasn’t touched that Charlie forces him to stop and face him.

“We left Aimee by herself.”

“Leo said he’d join after his jog. He’s probably with her now.”

“So you and Aidan are over, officially?”

“What does it matter to you?”

“Two days ago I was helping you practise your proposal. I don’t wanna get in the middle of some civil partnership.”

“And one day ago you tried to kiss me.”

“Again, I thought you two had an open thing going, and you looked sad so I wanted to cheer you up. Don’t you kiss your friends on the cheek sometimes?”

“No, because Aidan and I are— were committed to each other and we don’t cheat! Or, well, we usually…” Vikram trails off, his anger faltering to complete silence.

“All the gay men I know are openly affectionate with each other while still maintaining healthy relationships and clear boundaries,” Charlie rebuts.

“Dude are we fucking or not?”

There’s a long pause before he replies. With each second that passes, the daunting reality of Vikram’s adrenaline-fuelled escapism crashing in. But when Charlie eventually nods, another shot surges through his body. Pulling his body to his, he pantses the cargo shorts he was wearing and inches the semi-erect dick into his mouth. Moans propel him forward, his head bobbing quicker and quicker as all the competing thoughts in his mind vanish and he’s left with just one as he sucks Charlie’s dick: Aidan.

*

AIDAN
5.53pm

Aidan has viewed Vikram’s story of him and Charlie at the rave probably 16 times, or maybe 25. It soon hits him that he’s spent more time lying in bed thinking about Vikram than he has actually spending time with him this whole trip. He opens Uber Eats, his finger hovering over a $20 delivery of a pint of ice cream, but a text message stops him. It’s from Evan. Whatcha up to? 😉

Twenty minutes later when there’s a knock on his door, Aidan opens it to find Evan looking as dashingly hot as he was the night before. The door hasn’t even closed behind him and their lips are locked, bodies mashing together as they both struggle to remove all items of clothing while engaged in the furious makeout. When Aidan’s jeans eventually drop to reveal his nicest bright red aussieBum jockstrap, Evan chuckles and shoves him onto the bed.

*

6.11pm

Bodies on bodies. Mouths on mouths. Bodies in mouths. Bodies in bodies.

Evan spanks Aidan’s bare ass cheek, his corresponding moan lost on Evan’s lips.

Guy tugs on Danny’s black briefs, murmuring in his ear if he likes that wedgie, to which he nods, whimpering.

Charlie shoves Vikram’s face into his crotch, facefucking him until he chokes, pushing his dick out of his mouth but whispering a few moments later, “Again.”

Thrust. Spit. Fuck. Spank. Tug. Pull. Bite.

Danny winces as Guy’s dick slides into him. Every urge is telling him to reject his dick, for his tight walls to return to their empty comfort. When he’s asked if it hurts, he nods. But he takes it, eliciting a “good boy” from Guy.

All Aidan can do is moan as Evan releases his balls from his mouth. They kiss, but quickly dissolve into laughter as Aidan pulls away, picking a loose pube from his teeth. “Wanna see something hot?” Evan grabs his feet and flings his legs behind his head. Straining his neck forward, he starts to suck the head of his own penis. Following his directions, Aidan lightly pounds his balls with his fists, causing him to moan as he continues the self-pleasure.

Licking the cum off his lips, Vikram stands up and kisses Charlie, depositing it in his mouth. He pulls away, stroking his dick. “How do you feel about toe sucking?” He perches himself on a tree stump and tosses his white socks onto the sand. He pulls Charlie’s face into his feet, being able to smell the day’s stink from where he sits. When he starts to lick in-between his toes, his head tilts back and he starts pumping his own rock-hard dick.

Suck. Stroke. Shove. Smack. Squeeze. Swallow. Fucking and fucking and fucking. Fucking until everything is fucked.

*

JENNY
6.28pm

She stands with bated breath in front of room 219, her head leaning against the door. Behind her, the long hallway stretches on and on, and she catches herself continually sneaking glances to make sure it remains empty. Closing her eyes, she listens intently to the soft sound of rough sex emitting from inside. She makes out a “fuck yeah” and a “harder!”, but she stays standing still. If he doesn’t hurry this up, she starts to think, when she suddenly hears—

“I’m gonna fuck you all night long, private-school boy.” It’s her cue.

As soundlessly as she can, she twists the knob and tiptoes into the suite. The lights are off everywhere except for the bedroom, which is lit up by a bedside lamp. The shadow of some gnarly beast (or two men having sex) is cast across the bare wall. Step, step, step; she carefully treads toward the bedroom to find the bodies in the exact position Evan had described – Aidan facedown on the bed receiving the ramming of his life. She catches Evan’s eye, but he just watches her as she slowly paces across the bedroom, a silent witness to the sexual activity.

Eventually Evan’s eyesight dips to Jenny’s right – the bedside table. She gets on all-fours and crawls toward it like a snake emerging from camouflage. Just a few inches away from her is Aidan’s head pressed into the pillows. She reaches up to the table and grabs the iPad laying on it. She’s about to turn back when Aidan’s head suddenly shifts to face her. She almost drops the iPad, holding her breath as she waits for him to open his eyes. But he doesn’t, his face lost in the pleasure-fuelled slumber.

Wriggling her way back around to the other side of the bed, she grabs the laptop, Kindle and phones before quickly tiptoeing out to the living room. Being far away enough to breathe again, she shudders out a few relieved sighs before returning to the operation.

She pulls out a collapsable baggy from her pocket and places the electronics into it. She then moves to the kitchen, grabbing anything of value she can find – a blender, a carbonator, an antique coffee pot. She shoves them all into a separate baggy and dumps them in front of the door. Folding out the last baggy from her pocket, she returns to the bedroom and cautiously prongs open the suitcases. She finds an extra laptop, as well as some rather expensive skincare, eyeing the fucking that’s occurring in her peripheral as she quietly yet efficiently bags them up.

Having finished her rummaging around, she nods to Evan as she grabs all three bags and sneaks out of the suite. The door slowly shuts behind, the ball-slapping drowned out by the victorious adrenaline rushing through her head.

*

DANNY
6.32pm

“You like that?” Guy growls in his thick, low Aussie accent. Danny just whimpers.

He’s never had sex like this. Granted, two days ago he’d never had sex. But to be lusted this way, to be fucked this way. The thrusting, the nipple-biting, the moaning, the wedgies— FUCK, the wedgies. Everything about this is like his deepest sex fantasy.

“So about Ricky,” Guy says, his pelvis thrusting into him rhythmically like a clock ticking the seconds away. “Any idea where he’d be?”

“Um…” Danny closes his eyes, trying to focus while keeping his tight butt virgin hole open wide. “I haven’t seen him since Tuesday.”

“You haven’t got him on Find My iPhone?”

“No.”

“Oh, right.” He’s silent for a second. “I’m close, by the way. So was it you or him who booked the room?”

“Me,” Danny gasps, feeling the orgasm oozing into him.

“Right,” he replies, consummating the climax with one final thrust.

The door banging shut startles them both. When Danny turns his head, he’s met with Ricky standing in the doorway with a face of confusion and disgust. A feral, inarticulate sound escapes Guy’s lips, and before Danny can protest, he’s withdrawn his still-climaxing penis from his anus and is feverishly scrambling to pull his shorts up. He bolts after Ricky, who’s already out the door.

Cum oozing out of him, Danny begins to weep.

*

VIKRAM
7.23pm

Vikram’s several minutes into rawdogging Charlie and he’s feeling ecstatic. 

While rearranging his position, he trips, falling onto a shrub of grass by the tree. It takes Charlie a second to turn around and realise what’s happened, but he giggles, offering a hand to help him up.

“There’s a wall over there that might be good for… you know,” Charlie mumbles, slurring his words together, the speed clearly kicking in.

Vikram nods, taking his hand and leading him further into their fantasy hideaway. They go behind the tree they were leaning on and past a rock pool, making their way to a small clearing where the edge of a cliff makes a very handy wall. They’ve barely stepped into the clearing though when it immediately becomes apparent that this wall is occupied, taken up by Leo, in his jogging gear, getting fucked in the ass by a man.

Vikram halts, thrusting his arm out to stop Charlie. They stand there, the silent bystanders privy to Leo’s queer affairs. The way his back is arched and the way his mouth is flung agape, the heavy panting echoing so loudly it’s hard to believe they’re just now hearing it. Seeing him be utterly fucked like this has Vikram speechless.

With a tap on the shoulder, Charlie indicates their exit. The pair edge carefully back the way they came, eyes trained on Leo and the man. He doesn’t see them, but he doesn’t need to. They’ve seen him and that’s all that matters.

*

RICKY
7.45pm

Flying down the hall and down the emergency exit stairs, Ricky can hear the banging of shoes on the hard floor mere seconds behind him. He’d gone up to the room to sneak out a change of shorts, as the ones he’s wearing have three too many stains on them, but of course the fucker was right there waiting for him, dick all the way up in Danny’s ass. Damn, is everyone at this resort gay? He knows this is a post-Modern Family world that he lives in, but did he really have to meet every single gay person to ever exist at this one resort?

Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Guy’s hand reach for him. The pursuit plays out in slow motion. He’s running and running, but his legs can’t take him fast enough; it’s like he’s in a dream. He’s almost to the front doors when out of nowhere, the other Red Snakes twerp appears from the side and tackles him to the ground. His fingertips just clutch the door before he collapses to the ground.

“You mad cunt, Claudio!” Guy yells, joining in on pinning him to the ground. He spits on his face. “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, fucker.”

*

VIKRAM
9.01pm

The hotel lobby is still, the humming of the air conditioner the only noise being made. Not even reception is staffed at the moment, leaving Vikram to woozily stumble his way through the bare lobby and into the elevator.

Go fuck Charlie you cheating liar!

Echoes from this long day whisper their way to Vikram’s ears, as if coming from the closed doors that line the level 2 hallway. Charlie’s breaths, the way his neck felt curled in his arm. Aidan’s cold glares, the way his hair tussled as he stormed out of the hotel diner. How light Charlie’s murmurs were in his ear when it was done, how long the rasp in Aidan’s hoarse voice echoed throughout the room. The convergence of his whirling thoughts lies at the end of this corridor, yet his depleted mind almost invites whatever argument or tantrum or breaking up awaits him in Room 219.

What’s waiting for him though isn’t an argument or tantrum or break-up. There’s no shouting, no door-slamming, no things being thrown in his direction. Instead he finds an empty suite – the kitchen is bare, his grandmother’s antique coffee pot gone. The door to the bedroom has been left completely ajar, and as he walks toward it he can make out the two suitcases sprawled open, his laptop missing, clothes just flung around. And on the bed lies a naked, unmoving Aidan, face-down with a filled condom wrapper on his buttcheeks.

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Hotel Jock: Chapter 3

AIMEE
Wednesday, 5.42am

Aimee awakens to their dark room illuminated only by the foretelling of the sun’s imminent rise. She reaches out for her phone, her hand slapping the bedside table a couple times before hitting it, grabbing it and flashing the screen in her face. 5:42am. She groans, placing her phone back on the table and flipping over to face Leo. Only Leo isn’t there.

She tries sleeping for another 20 minutes before giving up and scrolling on TikTok for a bit. Once the sunrays start intruding through the blinds, she decides the day is officially started and gets up. She does all her usual morning rituals: overnight oats, meditation and a hot bath while reading a book. She can usually stay like that for an hour, maybe two, but this morning she’s not even a chapter in when Leo comes barging in, stripping off his sweat-soaked tank top and jogging shorts.

“Can’t you do that in the bedroom?” Aimee asks, setting her book down on the bathroom floor as she eyes his sweaty swingin’ member.

“And here I was thinking I was the love of your life,” Leo says with a smirk.

Aimee gives him a look and he obeys, retreating to the bedroom to change into a pair of briefs that don’t have revealing sweat patches.

“You went earlier than usual this morning,” she calls from the bathtub.

“What can I say, I felt like an early morning jog,” he calls back.

“Like, it wasn’t even light out yet.”

“A super early morning jog.”

Leo returns to the bathroom with a clean t-shirt and shorts on. By now, Aimee’s unplugged the bathtub and drying off, having given up on her morning ritual luxury. They have this exact same routine, only it’s usually a couple hours later, after breakfast. She doesn’t think anything of it though and gets dressed, changing into a floral blouse and skirt her mum had bought for her back home. She does a twirl for Leo, who grins and tells her, ‘very nice’.

The two lock their hotel room and knock on the door next to theirs. Several seconds pass without a sound being heard from inside. Leo assumes that like yesterday, their neighbours have gone down for breakfast already, but when they both turn toward the elevators, the door opens to reveal a very dishevelled Aidan wrapped in a doona.

“Woah, someone had a rowdy night,” Leo chuckles. “We’re just seeing if you wanted to grab breakfast.”

“You can join us after showering and freshening up a bit if you want?” Aimee reassures.

Aidan rubs his eyes and seems to think for several seconds before responding. “I might have my breakfast later. I’m not really hungry.”

“Maybe we can grab lunch together then?” Aimee says.

“Yeah… Hey, have either of you seen Vikram?”

The pair look at each other before turning back to Aidan. “No, not since the party last night.”

“When neither of you came back, we thought you two had retired for the night so we came back early,” Leo explains.

“Oh. I haven’t seen him since… since last night,” Aidan admits.

“Do you want us to help you look for him?” Leo asks, concern now spreading into his voice.

“I’ll be ok. I think I might just wait here for him to come back.” When they don’t seem that convinced, he adds, “I’ve left him a ton of missed calls. I’m sure he’ll call back any minute now.”

They depart and head down to the buffet. Once inside the elevator, Aimee sing-songs, “trouble in paaaradise.”

*

GUY
5.43am

Guy’s eyes flutter open to find water pooling around his mouth. They dart around him but all he sees is sand and water. Sitting up, he gradually takes his surroundings in – he’s still wearing yesterday’s work clothes that are soaked by the tide coming in. Hands touching the wet sand to steady himself, he slowly stands up. He starts walking back to the resort but, facing resistance, glances down and realises his trousers are around his ankles and his wet hairy ass is mooning the ocean. The memories of last night begin pixelating back into his brain. Out of reflex, he grabs the string of underwear that remains lodged up his ass and unclogs it. Ouch. He yanks his pants back up, attempting to move his tattered boxebriefs in-place to cover up his junk, but with how much they’ve ripped, it becomes clear he’ll be free-balling his way back to his office.

He trots his way across the beach, litterings from last night’s rave scattered around his feet. In his zombie-like trance back up to the resort, all he can picture is Ricky’s taunting face as he jeers and humiliates him in front of a crowd of resort guests. That plan last night should have worked, but he didn’t anticipate Ricky straight up fleeing.

He counts the rooms as he walks past them, reaching 205 and exhaling. He doubts Ricky would be stupid enough to return, but he honestly has no clue what’s behind this door. It could be anything from passed out 18-year olds piled on top of one another to hundreds of dollars worth of room damages. Hopefully not both.

Guy enters and immediately finds himself wishing for hundreds of dollars worth of room damages. What he finds instead is a deserted room that is not only trashed, but is also accompanied with the body of a lifeless Claudio hanging by his tighty whities from a pull-up bar in one of the bedroom door frames. His eyes have been taped over with duct tape, he’s been gagged with a pair of dirty white socks and his hands have been restrained behind him with god knows what. He faintly swings back and forth and it’s not until Guy looks down that he sees a huge wet patch on the crotch of his khakis.

“Jesus fucking christ,” Guy mutters under his breath.

*

DANNY
5.44am

The first thing Danny feels before he’s even opened his eyes is the heat of Evan’s body behind his, arm draped over his head and fingers playing with his hair. He lays like that, eyes remaining closed while his hair is ever so tenderly twirled and wrapped and unwrapped and twirled again. The feeling of Evan’s hot breath against the back of his neck, the rise and fall of his body against his. To wake up to this, even just for once in this life, is the best feeling on earth.

He turns over to find Evan’s deep blue eyes sleepily gazing at him. “I wish I could wake up to this every morning.”

“Maybe we can spend tonight at your’s?”

“Yeah, maybe,” Danny replies, thinking about his two roommates.

A small smirk flatters itself upon Evan’s lips as he leans in, initiating a lengthy morning makeout.

The breakfast selection at Evan and Jenny’s Airbnb is surprisingly sparse given how fancy the place is. Danny settles for a bowl of Special K cereal, but at least Evan offers to make it for him. He revels in the romantic potentiality of this gesture, that is until Evan pours his milk in before the cereal.

“You pour the milk in first?”

“Yeah? Why?” Evan responds, instantly defensive.

“How do you know how much milk you need?”

“I just use my brain.”

“Peak serial killer behaviour.”

Evan smirks. “Jenny, come out, he’s figured out our master plan!”

Danny giggles, smooching him on the lips as he sets the two bowls of cereal down on the dining table, one by the other.

“How long are you guys staying for Schoolies?” Danny asks, putting down his spoon after a few mouthfuls, the memory of his cereal swirlie from the day before resurfacing.

“Until Friday, then Jenny heads back to Poland.”

“That soon?”

“Yeah, but I’ll be heading over in January for my part of the exchange.”

“That’s so exciting.”

Evan nods. “Did your school have an exchange program?”

“We do, but it’s only offered every few years. I went to a public school and whatever funding we had went to STEM subjects. Language classes and the arts barely got anything. My parents would pay for it, only…”

Evan pauses, looking down. “That sucks.”

“Makes me more determined to go to university and graduate so I can make them proud though,” Danny cheerily adds.

A faint clomping from the staircase signals Jenny is awake. She emerges a few moments later in a mauve nightgown and fuzzy slippers, yawning. “Did somebody say party?”

“I feel like you’d be a good influence on Jenny with how studious you are,” Evan mumbles to Danny.

“I think the big gay rave is happening tonight,” she continues, obliviously searching for something in the pantry.

Danny furrows his eyebrows. “Gay rave?”

“Yeah, this big underground gay rave. I think it’s on tonight.”

“Is it a Red Snakes thing?”

“It’s for queer Schoolies attendees, but it’s not officially run by Red Snakes or anything,” Evan explains.

“I’d love to come, keep this party going.”

“Of course you can come! The more the merrier,” Jenny exclaims.

A shy grin spreads across Danny’s face. Not even 24 hours ago, he was wishing for a queer refuge on this holiday, and now here he is with his new friends who actually embrace queerness, like it’s something that deserves to be celebrated. And to go to a gay rave, a big gay rave? This is the Schoolies he could only dream of.

“Don’t forget we have to pick up Marcia and Sophie from the beach,” Jenny says as she plops a muffin from the fridge onto a plate.

“We could pick you up from the resort too while we’re at it,” Evan tells Danny.

“Oh… I was kinda hoping we could, I dunno, do stuff until then. Mostly because my roommates are hell, but also because these past 12 hours with you have been the only part of Schoolies I’ve actually enjoyed.”

Evan glances at Jenny, who shrugs and takes her muffin with her back upstairs. “I could be up for that,” he says with a small grin.

*

CLAUDIO
7.14am

Re-entering the office, he collapses onto the chair, grimacing as he massages his raw groin. He’s changed into a fresh pair of underwear (red briefs at least two sizes too small for him that was found in the lost and found), having just delicately peeled his bloodied tighty whities from his asshole and jammed as many wet paper towels up there as he can. How he even got up there is a little hazy. He remembers staying back to wrap up the house party. He remembers standing on one of the armchairs and telling everyone to go back to their rooms. Then he remembers nothing until waking up this morning to Guy struggling to unhook his underwear for 10 minutes, and a very, very numb bum.

“In all my years of doing Red Snakes, I have never seen a hanging wedgie that painful yet flawlessly executed,” Guy says. “You feeling okay?”

He gives two meagre thumbs up, which seems to satisfy his boss, who continues typing away at his computer. “I’ve been thinking… I know you guys need volunteers for the rest of the week, but maybe I would be better off…”

“Got it!” Guy exclaims, beckoning him over. “I messaged Dale in security and he’s granted me access to yesterday’s security cam footage of the 2nd floor. I want you to comb through and note down whenever anyone enters room 207, got it?”

Claudio reluctantly nods, too exhausted to protest further. At least all he has to do is sit. “Where are you going sir?”

“Breakfast buffet, 20-minute power nap in my car, then I’m patrolling the rest of the day.”

With a firm pat on the shoulder, Guy leaves Claudio alone in his office staring sleepily at the security camera footage.

*

AIDAN
11.19am

“How’s your nose feeling from last night?” Vikram asks.

“Huh?”

“From the cocaine, babe.”

Aidan stares at him as he pours himself coffee using his grandmother’s antique coffee pot that they brought from home. How can he just go about like this is just a regular day, as if today he’s deserving of the normality of a morning coffee?

“Oh,” Aidan says, the coke party behind the trees having not crossed his mind in hours. “Well my nose is still on my face, so that’s… y’know.”

“Don’t tell me you’re actually worried about becoming one of those concaved nose people from snorting one line of cocaine?”

Aidan’s face twitches at the flippancy of that question. “Of course not.”

“You don’t sound too convinced,” Vikram chuckles, now turning to face Aidan and sip his finished coffee. “God I miss the coffee back in Perth. This hotel stuff is unendurable.”

Nothing in Vikram’s face is letting on that he knows Aidan saw what he did last night, or that he has any guilty conscience. It’s 11:26 in the morning, and here he is acting like he didn’t just give a blowjob to some random guy he hadn’t even met 48 hours prior.

“Do you wanna talk about last night?” he eventually asks.

“About what you said?”

Aidan blinks. Oh, right, what he’d said about being a queer brown person growing up in a rural place. “Or anything else?”

“What, like the way you were around Leo and Aimee?”

“I— Wait, what about that?”

“It was obvious you were sucking up to them.”

“I was not sucking up to them! I was just… trying to be more friendly since you’d insisted I should get to know them.”

He thinks he catches Vikram begin to roll his eyes, but he looks down and takes a deep breath. “You were acting pretty weird last night. First you insult me up here, then you just show up unannounced and start doing coke with my friends—”

“They’re my friends too!”

“—and then you’re, like, acting all weird and messy. It was just a weird vibe.”

Vikram eyes him as he struggles to form a sentence. Their eyes lock and he wishes he could just transfer what he knows through some psychic link, but there’s the love of his life sitting opposite him, frowning questioningly as he fails to tell him what’s been ruining this whole trip for him.

“Last night, I saw—” Aidan begins.

A knock on the door interrupts, startling both of them. Vikram looks at him as if asking permission to pause this conversation to answer the door. He feels his face malfunction for a second, but eventually nods.

“Oh good, you found him,” Leo says cheerily.

“We were worried sick. I left, like, three voicemails,” Aimee tells Aidan. He glances back at the phone on his bed that’s remained silent all morning.

“Well, we were about to go for a swim, how about it? Wanna get down there before the beach gets too crowded,” Leo grins.

“Actually, I think we need…” Vikram begins.

“Sounds good, just give us 5 minutes to change?” Aidan interrupts.

Leo and Aimee seem pleased, telling them to come knock on their door once they’re done changing. They depart and Aidan can now feel the full force of Vikram’s confused stare.

“It sounded like you wanted to talk about something.”

“We’ll talk about it later. Tonight,” he amends, before walking to the bathroom to get changed. “Besides, I owe them a swim, apparently.”

Vikram thinks for a moment before replying, “Okay.”

He heads to the bedroom to retrieve his swimmers, leaving Aidan to exhale out the nervousness festering inside him.

*

CLAUDIO
12.58pm

A knock awakes Claudio from his half-slumber. It’s just one of the receptionists asking about some air conditioning issue in the lobby, but he shrugs and he’s left once again to his own company in the dimly lit office. He turns his attention to the half-eaten sausage roll he’d been chewing on before he must’ve dozed off. As he eats, he gazes at the footage and watches for Ricky. So far he’s drowsily stared through 4 hours of footage with not much to show for it. All he’s noted down in his notebook is that at 8.42am and 11.30am, Ricky and his friend entered the room and the wedgie boy left the room, respectively.

He receives a text from Guy. If you reload the program, Dale should have granted access to the live security cam feed.

He does this and as promised, he’s staring at the outside of room 207 as it is in the present moment. This refocuses him a little and he watches attentively. A few people walk past the room, but it’s never Ricky.

There’s another knock on the door, but it’s the receptionist again.

“There’s a seagull that’s flown into reception and won’t leave,” she says.

“Not in my role description.”

“He’s really scary.”

He groans, setting down the last bit of sausage roll. He stands up, wincing a little as he’d forgotten how sore his ass was, but something catches his eye. He swivels back to the security cam footage and watches as a man walks into room 207. It’s not Ricky or the wedgie boy, but a guy he recognises from last night.

He bolts to room 207 and presses his ear against the door. There’s no sound coming from inside so he gives a light knock, but the door doesn’t open. After 20 or so seconds of waiting with bated breath, he knocks again, but there’s still no response. He pats around in his pockets for the master key Guy entrusted to him, his brain replaying the soundbite of him saying to only use it where absolutely necessary. Thinking back to the state they were both in this morning returning from their respective wedgie torture, he takes it upon himself to self-approve the key’s use and jams it into the lock.

“OH— Shit, fuck— sorry.”

Claudio stands paralysed at the sight of Josh with his pants down, mid-masturbation on the couch. A laptop is open on the table in front of him but no sound is being emitted due to wireless headphones that he has on. The two are frozen, stuck staring at each other, broken only once Josh takes his headphones off, his stroking slowly coming to a halt. From the headphone speakers, Claudio can just make out the sounds of multiple men moaning.

Josh clocks the audio too and shuts the laptop abruptly. “Dude!”

“Fuck, sorry,” Claudio exclaims, unsure whether to avert his eyes or leave the room. He ends up doing a weird mix of both where he closes the door behind him and turns to face said closed door. Realising how absurd this is, he turns back around just as Josh is pulling down his hoodie to cover his still-erect dick. “You ran an illegal house party last night!” he blurts.

“You interrupted me for that?”

“Do you know where Ricky is?”

Seeming to just now recognise him, Josh leans back and smirks, the underbelly of a testicle poking out from under his hoodie. “Come back for more wedgie fun, dork?”

His bootyhole twitches. “If you’re worried about me turning you in, I won’t. My boss just wants Ricky.”

“They must be really short-staffed to have a dork like you working security.”

Claudio laughs nervously. “I’m actually with Red Snakes.”

“Even nerdier. You want my advice? Don’t try so hard. Ricky’s been to many a Schoolies and many security folk have come and gone. None of them catch him. He’s like a weasel, he’ll slip out of any trap you have planned. Your boss wants to catch him, that’s cool. Say you’ll help him, but don’t waste your time chasing the unchaseable, at the very least not for 20 bucks an hour. Now if you don’t mind,” Josh gestures to his laptop.

Claudio just watches as he places the headphones back on his head and presses play on the laptop. When his hand slips under his hoodie, Claudio realises he’s not gonna stop, and from a place of politeness and also being grossed out, he accepts defeat and exits the room.

*

AIDAN
4.31pm

Lying up in the water and staring at the glaring sun, Aidan’s worrying mind is put at ease at least for this moment. The detonation of his and Vikram’s relationship is occurring elsewhere, far away from here. Overhead he watches two seagulls soar through the bright sky, drifting further and further away from him.

A splash of water sprays onto his face and he sits up. To his left, Leo and Vikram are play-fighting in the water, splashing each other like two kids with the biggest grins on their faces. Seeing he disrupted Aidan’s tranquillity, Vikram pauses the splash match.

“Sorry babe!” he calls out.

Aidan’s face scrunches in what he hopes appears as genuine indifference. “All good! I was just gonna go… reapply sunscreen anyway.” The last part falters to a mumble as Vikram and Leo go back to their water fight.

Following his word, he leaves the two in the water and breath strokes his way back to the sand. He spots Aimee sunbathing on her towel next to a table with their belongings and wades his way over. Upon seeing him, she hands him a towel to dry off.

“Done for the day or just having a break?” Aimee asks, putting the Colleen Hoover novel she was reading face down on her lap.

“Done for the day,” Aidan confirms, placing his towel on the sand so he can sit next to her. “You didn’t swim much today.”

“Nah, felt more like a tanning day.”

The two sit in silence for a while, both watching their respective boyfriends play fighting in the water. At some point, Leo pantses Vikram, resulting in Vikram pulling him down into the water with him and the two flailing about. He glances at Aimee to see what her reaction is, but she doesn’t seem to react.

“Do you and Leo ever fight?” Aidan asks.

Aimee turns to look at him. “What, like brawl?”

“Huh? No, like obviously all couples have disagreements, but do you ever get into really heated arguments or anything?”

She thinks for a moment before responding. “I mean I wouldn’t really say we have that many disagreements.”

“What do you mean?”

“I dunno, we just always seem to be on the same page.”

A few seconds pass as Aidan attempts to process what she’s said, but it feels completely alien to him, especially now. But if any couple were to never have any conflict, of course it’d be the perfect ‘it’ couple, Leo and Aimee.

“Do you and Vikram fight a lot?”

“I’d say a healthy amount, but we always talk it out,” he replies, resisting the urge to add, ‘or we usually do.’

“I think we just give each other space, y’know? Like he does his thing and I do mine, and when we come together it’s magical.”

Aidan’s heart beats a little faster. “Wouldn’t you ever be worried about… I don’t know, him cheating on you or something?”

It’s a while before she says anything. He turns to face her, but she’s still looking out into the water. “I just think we trust each other enough. I trust him and he trusts me, so we never have to worry about that stuff.”

He sighs. “I wish Vikram and I could be like that.”

“But you can!” She sits up, rolling over to face him. She grabs her phone off the bench and Aidan can’t help but roll his eyes as she keys in her passcode.

“Your password is 1111?”

“Oh I use it for everything. Phone, emails, Insta.” When that doesn’t wipe the look of pure judgement from his face, she clarifies, “It’s an angel number.”

“And having it as your passcode is bound to be life-altering,” he replies admonishingly.

“Judge all you want, Judy, I stand by it.”

The two share a laugh, but that just depresses Aidan further.

She opens up her Google Calendar and hands it to him. “See my next month? Brunch with the girls, netball, yoga, wine tasting, weekend in Margaret River with Mum. Leo isn’t invited to any of these things. Just because you have a boyfriend doesn’t mean you can’t live the life you want.”

He hands her back the phone and she places it neatly on the stack of all four of their phones. Okay, so she’s not exactly Audre Lorde, but she does have a point. Vikram’s been doing everything he wants this whole trip, and all Aidan’s done is mope about after him. God, is this what it feels like to be empowered? Gross.

Aimee gets up and places her book on the towel. “I’m gonna go fetch the boys, I’m hungry. Look after our stuff won’t you?”

Aidan nods and watches as she paces towards the water. He leans back on his towel, closing his eyes. He does trust Vikram, doesn’t he? They’ve been together for two full years and he’s stuck by him through being outed and through all that exam stress. For him to cheat now would be throwing away a lot. Would he really do that? Yet he can’t get the image of what he saw on the beach out of his mind.

A notification sound pulls him from his entangled thoughts and it doesn’t sink in for a couple seconds where he knows that notification sound from. He bolts up as he realises the unmistakable sound of a Grindr notification. It dings again, and again, each ring pulling at the knot that’s been in his stomach for three days now. He looks down at the table where all four of their phones are stacked on top of one another. The top phone is Aimee’s, and he could easily punch in 1111 to log into her phone. But it isn’t lit up with any notifications, so it can’t be her. Which must mean…

“Yo squirt, we’re getting ice cream!” Leo calls.

Aidan jolts, dropping the phones and flicking his head to face the three returning. He can’t move, desperate to sneak a quick glance down but not wanting to seem out of the ordinary. He feels like a dog that’s been caught next to a ripped up sofa. His disorientation is heightened when standing with the three of them is none other than Charlie.

“Look who we bumped into,” Aimee says as she walks over and picks up all four phones. Before Aidan can protest, she hands him his before handing the others out. Just like that, his one way out of all this limbo of turmoil is snatched from him before his eyes.

Aidan glances at Charlie and his stomach drops. The Grindr notifications, his sudden appearance, the way he’s standing so close to Vikram. He doesn’t need to see who those messages were from to figure it out.

“You coming?”

Aidan must look a little mad the way Vikram steps forward with a tinge of concern on his face. His eyes dart to each one of them, all standing there waiting for him to carry on with the charade of being happy and unphased by everything that’s happened the past three days. But that mask fell long ago and all that’s left is his spiralling insecurity.

“I’m gonna piss. I’m just gonna… go piss.”

They all look at him, Vikram eventually nodding as he pockets his phone and slips away from their judgemental glances. In and around the sunbathers, past the queue of people outside the fish and chip shop and down the pathway leading to the stinky public toilet. Except he doesn’t enter, doesn’t even stop, just snakes his way around the corner and continues all the way to the hotel. It’s not until he reaches the front drop-off zone and approaches an occupied golf buggy that his brain catches up to his legs.

“Can’t wait to get out of here,” a woman in the front is saying in a thick Polish accent.

“Hey, is there any chance I can join you guys?” Aidan asks.

Beside the woman, a twink who he recognises from the walkway on that first night speaks up. “We’re just about to head off to an exclusive big gay rave. Emphasis on exclusive.”

Aidan’s phone starts vibrating and he looks down to see Vikram’s name and the pic of the two of them he’d set as his contact photo, taken on top of a ferris wheel from their first date. He gulps and puts his phone on Do Not Disturb. “I just really need to get away from my friends.”

“Didn’t you hear me? Exclusive. Gay. Rave, baby doll.”

The woman turns to him, lowering her oversized sunglasses. “Let him in. He’ll be very popular where we’re going.”

The man sighs before nodding for him to hop on, which Aidan does. He sits next to a third man who has yet to speak. The man turns the ignition and the engine groans, and slowly but surely the buggy rolls out of the drop-off zone and down the road, leaving the resort.

*

DANNY
5.02pm

The golf buggy’s been in transit for 20 minutes or so, briskly coasting past the beach villas and apartment buildings populating this side of the shore. Ever since the very cute guy joined them outside the lobby, Danny’s been hyper-aware of his posture and the way he’s sitting, even how loud his breathing is. With how cramped the buggy is, he can’t help but rest his leg against the new guy’s leg. Not that he’s complaining.

Every couple of minutes, the new guy looks over his shoulder, and Danny finds himself wondering what it is that he wants to get away from. In front of them, Evan glances up into the rearview mirror. “I’m Evan by the way.”

“Aidan,” the new guy says.

“Beside me is Jenny, and next to you is Danny,” Evan fills in.

Danny looks up to meet Aidan’s eyes and they share an awkward nod. With introductions out of the way, the buggy ride is silent for another couple minutes, save for the groans emitted from the automobile. Eventually clearing his throat, Danny asks, “So what are you running away from?”

“Sorry?” Aidan asks, startled by the question.

“It seemed like you were really bent on escaping something back at the resort.”

Aidan’s leg begins bouncing next to his, and he can’t help but imagine another context in which his leg would be vigorously grinding against his. “Just boy problems.”

Danny’s heart drops. Of course, like every other gay person in the world, he’s already out and living his best gay life. Danny would kill to be at the stage where he has boy problems.

“You’ll forget about all of those once we make it to the rave,” Evan calls from the front.

Aidan laughs nervously. “No it’s just… you would think that your boyfriend would actually wanna spend time with you on your two-year anniversary, but he’s been avoiding me all week. And I think— I dunno, I think he cheated on me with some stranger he just met, and I just don’t know how I can trust him any more.”

You could hear a pin drop – again, save for the groaning from the buggy. Danny uses this opportunity to gaze out at the houses they pass – some lovely, very contemporary brutalist apartments. What a drab place this is.

“Sorry to hear that man,” Evan eventually offers.

“Yeah,” Aidan replies softly. “I just expected this week to be a lot different from what it’s turning out to be. Vikram used to be so affectionate and caring at school.”

“Where did you two go to school?” Evan asks.

“It wasn’t here, it was back in Perth. St. Freya, it’s all-boys.”

“Public?”

“Private,” Aidan says. Danny shifts a little in his seat.

“I’ve always wished I went to an all-boys private school,” Evan says.

Jenny, who’s been quietly reapplying make-up the whole ride, pipes up, “That’s because you want private boy repressed gay sex.”

“I think you talk about gay sex more than I do,” Evan replies.

“It’s kinda not as bad as some of the all-boys schools you hear about are,” Aidan continues. “There was bullying, but I always had Vikram to get me through it.”

They turn a corner and straight ahead is what looks like an abandoned warehouse where already there’s people gathered outside. They pull up a hundred or so metres away and all step out.

“Well, gay boys, welcome to the rave!” Jenny beams.

*

VIKRAM
6.44pm

You okay?
Delivered, 5:24pm.

The unanswered text glares at Vikram. They had waited by the beach for half an hour, wasting their calls and messages to only be unanswered. He doesn’t need to scroll up to see the backlog of attempts to win Aidan back to the beach. We’re just by the foldout chairs, delivered at 4:57pm. We’ve moved to the public toilets in case you’re heading back to the chairs!, delivered at 5:08pm. I can bring back some ice cream for you?, delivered at 5:18pm.

And finally, those two little words delivered at 5:24pm.

He told the others that Aidan was just exhausted from the night before and had eventually texted saying he needed a nap before that night’s party, but he knew they knew something was up by the glances to his phone every 2 minutes. He thought about going back to their room to check on him, but giving him space seems important right now. The unanswered calls and text messages are a testament to that.

Now, sitting on a hill overlooking the ocean with sticky fingers and lips, paper cups of finished ice cream by their feet, all Vikram wants to do is see his boyfriend. To leave the Gold Coast and return back home and to see the boyfriend he knew who would still blush when they kissed and who would purr in his lap while he played video games. The boyfriend who wasn’t actively ignoring him despite clearly having something he needed to talk about.

“Do you know when Aidan’s coming?” Leo asks. The rest of them are standing, ready to go, but he has no memory of them packing things up.

“I’ll message him.”

“Some afternoon nap he’s had,” Aimee says through a yawn.

“We were thinking of just going straight to the beach, but we can stop by the hotel and pick him up…” Leo trails off, evidently offering the latter purely out of politeness.

“I’m sure he’ll meet us down there,” Vikram smiles.

The nightlife is already popping when they reach the shore. At this stage of the vacation, their formula for the perfect beach rave is rather well practised – Aimee and Leo get the drinks while Vikram and Charlie scout out an area near, but not in, the mosh pit. Later on in the night, they’ll head to their secluded spot to really get turnt up.

Just as the two of them find a spot outside the pit that isn’t too dense, they’re accosted by a rather deranged-looking man whose stench is louder than his frantic voice. His eyes dart between them, nodding as he observes each one. Seemingly convinced they’re not who he’s looking for, he mutters “carry on” as he stumbles away, no doubt to repeat the process with other guests.

A reasonable few seconds pass before both Vikram and Charlie burst into laughter.

“What is that guy’s problem?” Vikram says through laughter-tears.

“I’m pretty sure he’s the head of the Red Snakes or something,” Charlie says.

The two laugh so hard they end up leaning on each other for support, their wheezes syncopated to the other’s rhythm. When the laughter stops, they remain holding each other, arms around the backs and heads adjacent like they’re in some sports huddle. Vikram needed this – this explosion of joy, this comfort. After the worrying of today and of all week, it’s good to have even some sort of a release.

Charlie’s lips are on his. His hands reach up to cup his cheeks as each kiss greedily pushes further and further in. Vikram lingers in this, the directness of this instant intimacy the bandaid to his wounds. He kisses back, his lips jolting into action. But this only lasts seconds as his hands reach out and gently push Charlie back, realising before his mind that this isn’t what he wants.

“You shouldn’t have done that.”

“Aren’t you guys open?”

Vikram takes a step back, genuinely shocked. “No!”

“Most guys who bring their boyfriends to Schoolies are open, so I just thought…” Charlie trails off. “You’ve been kinda gloomy all day, I thought a kiss would cheer you up.”

“I’m committed to Aidan. And right now all I wanna do is be with him, not here at some mosh pit with people I barely know,” Vikram asserts, turning to leave.

“If you ask me, he’s being selfish.”

He stops in his tracks, pausing as the audacity hits him. “What did you say?”

“He comes here with you to party all week long at Schoolies, then spends the whole time moping about and bringing your energy down? How’s he ever gonna last till Friday if he spends every minute of every day in his room?”

Just as Vikram’s formulating a response in his head, Leo and Aimee return with drinks. They attempt to hand him one, but he bats Leo’s hand away.

“What’s up?” Leo asks.

“Just piss off, all of you,” Vikram barks, brooding away from the mosh pit, leaving the three of them stunned.

*

AIDAN
6.51pm

“Oh my god, that’s a penis!”

Aidan turns to see Danny blushing very hard as he looks onto two guys half-dancing, half-fucking off to the side. He appears mesmerised, entranced by the thrusts that are synced in time with the music, the shaft reappearing from the anus with each ram. Aidan chuckles, tapping him on the shoulder and pulling him away. The so-called ‘gay rave’ is well and truly underway.

Despite his doubt, the warehouse is proving to be a hot location for the party. 80s house music blares from the speakers up front, Donna Summer’s vocals pulsing through the bodies in the 50-person mob. Staggered throughout the building are people everywhere – some making out, some fucking, all dancing. Jenny and Evan disappeared a while ago, leaving Aidan to babysit the wide-eyed Danny. He doesn’t mind it though – he’s a few drinks in and it’s fun seeing the rave through his baby gay eyes.

Noticing Danny’s getting a bit overwhelmed with it all, the two find a corner to chill for a bit. “Is this your first gay clubbing experience?”

“This is my first gay anything,” Danny yells back over the loud music. “Up until yesterday I hadn’t even kissed a guy.”

“The blonde guy?”

“Yeah, Evan,” Danny says, blushing like he still can’t believe they hooked up.

“There’s tons of guys here who’d love to give you more experience.”

He didn’t think Danny could go more wide-eyed, but he does, stammering for a few seconds before replying. “I— I don’t know if I have the courage to…”

“Oh please, you’ve got this whole cute boy next door vibe going for you. Trust me, gays eat that shit up.”

Their eyes meet and Danny grins a little, his face going red as he averts his eyes down. It wasn’t until he said it that he realised how cute Danny is, how his black curls and soft jawline frame his face so adorably. He feels his heartbeat get quicker, the pounding like alarm bells ringing in his head. Maybe it’s the alcohol or the fact that he’s felt freer than he has in days, but he doesn’t care. He doesn’t care that he’s looking at Danny the way he swore he would only ever look at Vikram, he doesn’t care that he’s breathless in a way he thought he’d only ever be in Vikram’s arms. He shoves it all away and takes a step closer, pulling Danny’s face up to look at him with his thumb. He presses his lips delicately against his. The music and the lights and the bodies are drowned out, and it’s just their mouths greeting each other. Danny pulls away for a moment, their eyes once again meeting.

“I thought you had a boyfriend?”

Aidan just shakes his head slightly, smiling weakly before leaning back in. Each time their lips meet, adrenaline shoots through his body twice-over, like each pucker is giving him life. He clasps his face with his hands, kissing him more ferociously now. His lips are his for the taking, the blood rush he’s owed. It’s not until quite a few song changes later that Aidan finally pulls away, satiated.

“I can’t believe we just did that,” Danny says breathlessly.

Aidan grins, but already the guilt has begun seeping in. He just passionately made out with a guy he just met, and the worst part is he loved it. He always thought he could never even imagine kissing anyone other than his boyfriend, that doing so would feel gross and dirty and vile, yet here he is with Danny’s naivety smeared all over his raw lips and he’s fighting every urge to go in for more.

“I’m gonna go to the bathroom, but maybe we could, uh… dance some more after?” Danny asks.

Aidan nods, watching as Danny disappears into the crowd. Without missing a beat, he turns and walks through the jumping bodies around him, dancing for a second with a stranger before moving onto the next. He crashes onto the ground in the corner, running his hands through his sweaty hair.

“Hey, we’ve been looking for you!” Jenny shouts as her and Evan bop their way over.

Evan hands him a little baggy with some pills, but Aidan swats his hand away. “I think I’ve made a mistake.”

Evan glances at Jenny and the two appear to have a telepathic conversation. After a few seconds, Jenny shrugs and walks off, leaving Evan to crouch down. “What’s wrong?”

“I just cheated on the love of my life with someone I don’t even know, and it felt so good. I’d make out with half the guys here and I just know that I’m sad enough to actually do that right now.”

“Didn’t you say your boyfriend cheated on you?”

“Yeah? Two wrongs don’t make a right though.”

“He cheats, you cheats. Sounds like a modern gay relationship to me.”

Aidan shakes his head. “But we’re not one of those toxic gays who cheat and secretly have Grindr on our phones.”

“The way I see it, you two are on an even playing field now. You can sit here and mea culpa this shit, or you can make the most of your vindication and then go back tomorrow and sort this out.”

The memory of watching his boyfriend sucking off Charlie replays in his mind. One body kneeling in front of the other, their shadows just barely visible in the darkness. How it felt to feel the sand on his knees as he fell, to trudge up back to the room by himself, to fall asleep in an empty bed not for the first time this trip. He has never felt so alone in his entire life.

“So?” Evan asks, his hand placed firmly on Aidan’s shoulder. “What’s it gonna be?”

*

VIKRAM
7.22pm

Vikram flings open the door to his room. “Aidan?” No answer.

He runs to the bedroom, his excited pants slowly coming to a halt as he realises no one’s here. He jogs to the bathroom, but no matter where he looks, it’s the same result; the cupboards, under the bed, on the balcony. There’s no trace of his boyfriend.

A knock on the door resurrects his heart from the pits of his stomach. He throws down the curtains he was checking behind and races to the front door, but it’s just Leo.

“Are you alright?” he asks.

He breaks down. “I think Aidan’s falling out of love with me. He’s been kinda weird all week and I know I probably could’ve prioritised us time a bit more, but you only get one Schoolies. For once, I’m actually enjoying not having to hide out in the corner. But now he’s gone and I don’t know where he is and I’m just so worried he’s gone.”

He’s pulled into a hug, sobbing into Leo’s chest. He stays like this a while, letting the tears soak up his tank top. Finally, he silently pulls back and goes to rummage through his suitcase, returning with a small velvet box.

“Is that…” Leo asks, dumbfounded.

“I was gonna propose,” Vikram says, wiping his nose with the box. “On the last day here. I was gonna do it on the hill we were at today, overlooking the beautiful, gorgeous ocean. I was gonna take his hand and tell him he’s the only thing I care about in the entire world. Every time I would go to hang out without him or I could see in his face that he wasn’t happy, I would just repeat to myself, just make it to Friday. Just make it to Friday and it’ll all be ok. And now I don’t even know where he is.

“I’ve been practising the proposal, you know. The past three months. I was panicking last night because Aidan was acting stranger than usual, and I practised getting on one knee with Charlie and reciting the whole speech I’ve had memorised for weeks now. But…” he trails off, their lips connecting just an hour ago replaying in his head. “But that just made it all the more confusing. Coming here I thought I had everything down, but it hasn’t gone the way I planned.”

Leo places his hand on his shoulder. “Look, how about I stay here with you until he comes back and you can practise with me. I’m sure he’s just gone for a walk to clear his head. When he comes back, you tell him everything you just told me and you two talk it out.”

Vikram smiles weakly and gives a small nod.

“You’re the hottest gay guy I know, there’s no way that boy’s ever thinking of leaving you.”

*

DANNY
7.46pm

Danny didn’t end up going to the bathroom – couldn’t find it. He walked around for a good 20 minutes, circling the warehouse and seeing many more people in the middle of coitus – some anal, some oral, one guy who was getting a handie AND a fingie up the butt at the same time. This really is gay heaven, although he did peek out one of the half-shattered windows to see that people were just pissing round the back of the warehouse.

So after an awkward piss next to five other guys, all cocks out in the cool Summer air, he walked back around the building. The flashing lights from inside, the soon-to-be-setting sun – this is the life he’s always wanted to experience. He tried taking a pic for his private story (which he triple-checked neither Ricky nor Josh are added to), but the signal by the warehouse is atrociously bad so he just saved a few pics to his photos.

Back inside, he can’t find Aidan. That steamy make-out caught him way off guard, but he’s never experienced anything like that before. It was like nothing was more important to Aidan than kissing him in that moment, like their lips pressed against one another wasn’t close enough for him. He feels his cheeks blush thinking about it now.

The song changes and he gasps, like actually audibly gasps. His favourite song, Lightning by Charli XCX is on. Every gay has that one song that, once they hear the opening chords, they transform into their most gayest form and HAVE to slut drop at least five times. For him, it’s Lightning. Without thinking, he sets down his almost-finished cup of unidentifiable alcohol and finds his way to the mosh pit at the end of the warehouse. Almost immediately he spots Jenny, peeking out above the crowd like the 6’3” woman she is. 

“I thought we’d lost you to the horny gays,” Jenny exclaims, hugging him once he’s trod over.

“I could never miss this song!”

“This song is my, what do you call it… my JAM!”

As the chorus drops for a second time, they’re hopping and bouncing and cheering with their hands flung in the air. It’s pure euphoria. Everyone around them is chanting the lyrics in ecstatic unison. By the time the bridge comes around, him and Jenny lock eyes, animatedly doing all the autotuned adlibs in an attempt to catch each other out, but they both sing it with complete accuracy.

“I wish this was my everyday life,” Danny yells over the music.

“For me, it is,” Jenny hoots back.

As the music changes and they start belting out G.U.Y. by Lady Gaga, the biggest grin spreads across Danny’s face. For the first time in his life, he’s free.

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Hotel Jock: Chapter 2

AIDAN
Tuesday, 5.10am

The door closing awakens Aidan. The shape of his boyfriend lumbers down the hallway and flops into the sheets next to him without taking off his shoes. Within a couple minutes, his familiar heavy snore radiates from his body. Aidan lies there next to him, watching his chest rise and lower with each breath. He stays like that for a long, long time before groggily turning over and closing his eyes.

*

DANNY
8.33am

Danny scrolls through his YouTube home page in search of a video to watch while eating his cereal. None of his favourite creators have uploaded in the past 24 hours, not even the gay daily vlogger he’s subscribed to who lives in New York with his fiancé and two puppies. He eventually settles on some Star Wars lore video that he’s almost certain he already knows most of the details of anyway and digs into his now soggy cornflakes.

Ricky and Josh aren’t in their rooms, which means they probably spent the night with some girls. He could get used to this though – mornings to himself without having to perform perverted masculinity. Just him, his cereal and Darth Nihilus.

The door to the flat opens and in walks both Ricky and Josh. As presumed, they’re both wearing the same clothes had on at the rave, so they definitely got up to some overnight shenanigans. Josh’s long wavy hair is particularly unkempt, although that’s not saying much given how particularly jungly it normally is.

“It’s the sex god himself,” Josh slaps Danny across the shoulder, pulling up a chair next to him. “You really became a man, and on the first night of Schoolies!”

“Congrats on losing the V-card, bro!” Ricky calls from the bathroom. He didn’t bother shutting the door so the faint sound of him pissing can be heard throughout this conversation.

Sitting here next to Josh, he’s reminded how little he knows about him. They both went to the same school in Melbourne and they’d seen each other a few times out at parties and such, but apart from that, this is basically a stranger congratulating him for losing his virginity.

“Yeah, it’s a real take the glasses off and bam! moment,” Danny laughs, the joke flying way over Josh’s head.

“Well, uh, tell me every single detail of every single thing you did to her. I gotta know how bad you gave it to her,” Josh says as he pulls his chair a bit closer.

Oh right. The girl. Danny gulps. “Uh, isn’t that a lil’ bit TMI dude? That seems, uh, gay to me.”

“Sex with a woman is gay?”

“Well, no, it’s just…” Danny stutters.

“Woke culture at it again,” Josh rolls his eyes.

“I mean, yeah, okay, we came back here and we were making out, and then she started jacking me off…” Danny begins, his heart beating a little faster. “And then full on gave me head, uh, bro, uh, for like half an hour. And then I gave her head because equality, y’know, and then I put on the willy sack— I mean, condom, and then fucked her all night. Yeah man I just… fucked her all night. She, like, totally just left here, um, bros.”

“DUDE!” Ricky yells, coming out of the bathroom with his flyer completely down, “that’s my man!”

“Proud of you, bro,” Josh says, patting him on the shoulder. His hand lingers though, turning from a light pat to a claw. “Hey, tell him what you told me just now in the elevator though bro,” he nods to Ricky.

“Oh yeah! All I said was that not even 20 minutes after I left youse, I’m partying with some chicks when I see the same girl you left with in the crowd again. She even tried to buy molly off me… Correction, she did buy molly off me, and then went back to her school friends and spent the night grinding on some guy who was like 7 foot.”

The awkward grin that’s masking Danny’s face drops and his jaw clenches, the cereal he just spooned into his mouth held captive by his anxieties. He feels both of them edging closer towards him but he’s immobilised by fear and guilt.

“So about that fucking all night,” Ricky says, now inches away from Danny’s ear. “Was that anything like the fucking over you’re giving us?”

In an instant, the two have lifted Danny up off the chair and are dragging him to the bathroom. Without removing his clothes, they set him down in front of the toilet that still contains Ricky’s unflushed piss, and shove his face into the bowl. With a flush, the piss water swirls around his head, rinsing out his nose before he has a chance to protest. He tries to sit up but one of them places their hand on his neck and shoves him down harder. He tries to scream, but all that comes out are the soggy corn flakes he was chewing on, combining with the piss and toilet water to make a really wretched morning smoothie.

Four or five flushes later and he’s released. They leave him lying on his back on the bathroom floor gasping for air. The ceiling’s spinning and he can’t decide if he wants to throw up, blow his nose or just leave completely. Trembling, he stands, catching a glimpse of the humiliated and humbled dork with a disgusting wet mop staring back at him in the mirror. A single yellow cornflake is perched in his hair above his ear like a flower. In the kitchen, he can hear his bullies whispering rather aggressively.

“We go to all the trouble of wingmanning him with this gorgeous chick and he does this?” Ricky mutters.

“Don’t forget my fifty bucks, man.”

“Just because he doesn’t sleep with one chick doesn’t mean he’s a fag. Trust me, by the end of the week, he’ll have slept with a broad and you’ll be giving me fifty bucks.”

“It’ll be a swirlie every morning then until he loses his pathetic virgin status.”

*

AIDAN
11.22am

Aidan’s drying himself off in the bathroom after having showered when he hears the sound of cupboards opening and closing in the kitchen. He places his towel on the rack and stares at his reflection in the mirror as the noise continues. Something (most likely eggs) begins sizzling on the stove and he can just make out soft whistling.

Having changed into his clothes for the day, Aidan walks out of the bathroom to find a rather sunny Vikram at the kitchen table. He’s eating scrambled eggs on toast with a black coffee while watching highlights of some Esports game that occurred overnight in South Korea. Upon seeing him, he gets up and plants a kiss on his cheek. “Morning.”

“Morning.” Aidan walks over to the fridge and retrieves a half-finished bottle of orange juice. “Last night went well?”

“So good, we partied for ages.”

“Yeah, I saw there was a bit of light peeking through the window when you came back.”

“Aw, you didn’t miss your late night cuddles did you?”

Aidan’s taken aback, pausing for a couple seconds. “No, I just— I mean, yeah. But you said you’d only stay for the rest of the set, so I just assumed you would be back a little after me.”

“Well I ended up staying. Is that a crime babe?”

“I… No, it’s not.” He’s trying to discern the expression on Vikram’s face, anticipating annoyance or anger, but finds nothing more than morning cheeriness. “I mean, I’m glad you had fun, and slept well in spite of the early morning bed time.”

“Yeah. Hey, check this out,” Vikram says as he shows Aidan his phone. “Leo posted a boomerang of me doing a keg stand to his story and I have, like, 30 new followers. Isn’t that crazy?”

The moment he glances at the phone, he spots the blonde guy he saw with Vikram last night. After said keg stand, the two high five excitedly. The story ends and closes to reveal Vikram’s account now has 165 followers, which is precisely 30-more than the usual 135 followers. “Wow,” is all he can say.

An hour and a bit later, the two are having lunch down at the hotel buffet. The food is decent enough, certainly not the worst hotel food either of them have ever had. Aidan topped up his plate with a cashew stir-fry and rice, while Vikram went for a lasagne. They’ve found a spot overlooking the beach.

“It’s beautiful today. I was thinking we could maybe head down to the beach for a swim?” Aidan asks.

“Yeah let’s do it,” Vikram smiles.

“Mind if we join?”

Aidan and Vikram look up to see Leo and Aimee standing in front of them with plates of food. A quick ‘uh, sure’ is mumbled and a nearby table is dragged over, making room for the four of them to dine together.

“Great night last night,” Leo says after they’ve settled.

Vikram nods. “I don’t think I’ve ever partied that hard.”

“I was so out of it this morning,” Aimee groans. “Don’t think I’ll be trying molly again.”

“You just gotta get used to the comedown, babe,” Leo says as he transfers a few greens over to Aimee’s plate.

Aidan blinks. “Y’all did molly?”

“Oh fuck we did so much molly,” Aimee giggles, sipping her piña colada.

He glances at Vikram who’s just passively nodding, seemingly unaware at his attempts at eye contact.

“No molly for me tonight though. I can’t do the come down,” Aimee continues.

“That’s ok, babe. Five days of Schoolies means five days of trying new drugs,” Leo reassures.

“I never thought you’d be such a party animal,” she tells Vikram. “You weren’t like that at school. You two were always in the library doing nerdy things,” she takes a bite, “like reading.”

“We, uh, actually had our first kiss in the library,” Aidan says smugly.

“See? So nerdy!” Aimee says with chicken parma in her mouth.

Another facecrack. At this rate, by the end of the week he’ll be as cracked as her harrowing fake tan.

“But no, I always really appreciated you Aidan. You had so many great ideas on student council.”

Actually, he’d had the only ideas, or the only useful ones. Aimee and all the popular ones who’d joined the student council for cred on their university applications only ever organised parties for themselves. It was Aidan who’d led the healthier food in the cafeteria initiative and who’d handled the yearbook.

“You were such a gracious leader,” Aidan says with a smile.

“I was, wasn’t I?” Aimee says, grinning at herself.

He frowns. “Well of course, when one peaks at 18,” he says under his breath. Vikram shoots him a look, but they didn’t seem to hear him.

“We do have you to thank for year 12 Formal,” Leo kisses Aimee’s forehead. “I mean, come on, what a night!”

A lie, Aidan thinks to himself. All those months he had spent booking catering, securing the venue and finding a DJ who knows that playing Mambo No. 5 at a high school formal is not just tacky, but illegal in some cities. But Aimee had gotten all the cred because she’d chosen the theme (an immensely problematic and stylistically ghastly fusion of Arabian nights meets Rococo), once again proving it takes very little to be popular.

“That was honestly one of the most proudest moments of my life. Like, wasn’t everyone talking about how fabu that ball was?” Aimee gloats to Aidan and Vikram.

“Oh, it’ll be the standard for the next decade of Formals in that school!” Leo declares.

A lull takes over the lunch as Aimee and Leo relish in their shared adoration. It’s especially awkward for Aidan and Vikram who’ve already finished their food.

“Gosh, sometimes I wish I’d been more like you two,” Aimee says after a while, making Aidan almost choke on his apple juice. “Given up all the responsibility of being student council president and the reputation of being head girl, and just lived the kind of life where I could sneak off to the library and make out with my secret lover.”

Vikram rests his hand on Aidan’s leg under the table and squeezes it as if to say, don’t say anything you’ll regret. Taking a deep breath, he ignores him. “Well, some of us didn’t have a choice when it came to where we could kiss our partner.”

She takes a big chomp on her asparagus. “But how inspiring – how in the face of it all, you two still found a way to love each other.”

“I don’t think you’d find what we went through at that school inspiring if you’d actually been us.”

“But we envied you,” she says, placing her hand warmly on Aidan’s. He swallows down a bit of vomit. “You were, like, relationship goals to us. Love in the face of subjugation.”

“Didn’t know you knew that word,” Aidan mumbles. Vikram kicks him under the table.

She sighs. “How romantic.”

Aidan stammers – the feeling he gets when he goes to argue back but is too baffled to articulate anything surging through his chest like hot, red fire. Would they find it inspiring how the first time he kissed Vikram in front of people, he was shoved into a locker, cutting his forehead open on a lock? Or what about the senior year formal Aimee’s so proud of organising, where they came back to Vikram dad’s car at the end of the night to find FAGS spray-painted onto the hood of the car? How they had to spend 100 bucks on a motel because Vikram was having an anxiety attack about bringing back his dad’s car like that. Was that inspiring too, while his and her Majesty sat in their ivory tower far above any of the homophobia they experienced day in and day out?

“People just don’t understand how taxing it can be to be in the spotlight all the time,” she continues. “To have all that pressure thrust onto you to do well, to always be succeeding. You never see articles in the paper about popular kids who get burnt out from the upkeep of their status.”

“That’s because there’s always a depressed loner suicide that bumps it out of the fifth page’s bottom right slot,” Leo says, scraping the rest of his morning eggs into his mouth with his knife.

“That’s so true oh my god,” Aimee stifles what would’ve been a very loud laugh.

Aidan just nods. He goes to say something, the build-up of dried saliva clicking as he opens his mouth, but realises there’s nothing he can say that won’t at least somewhat rock the boat – it’s well and truly submerged now and anything he adds will just ensure there’s no survivors.

“Yep.” That’s all he can muster. Aimee nods, as if he’s just given the most approving validation.

Vikram clears his throat. “The weather’s really nice.”

“Right! I wanna go take a dip in the water,” Aimee says.

“Yeah, we can do that later, babe,” Leo replies, sitting back with his eyes closed and his arms resting behind his head.

Aimee turns to the boys. “You’re welcome to come join us for a swim.”

“We were actually thinking of hitting the water anyway,” Vikram admits before Aidan can speak for them.

“Perfect! It’s a double date then,” Aimee says gleefully.

Aimee starts rambling to Leo about a beach trip her and her girl friends took the week before exams, leaving Aidan and Vikram eyeing each other for the rest of the conversation.

*

CLAUDIO
1.59pm

Claudio turns the engine off and sits in his car. It’s a 25-second walk to the hotel lobby from the back entrance, which means he still has about a minute and a half to just sit in the parking lot and do nothing. He didn’t get much sleep, the intensity of the beach last night having yet to fully subside from his system. Things were much quieter when he worked at his local library.

He glances at his wristwatch – 20 seconds. He grabs his backpack from the other seat and goes to exit the car when he spots a man lurking around the underground parking lot. As he walks closer to the car, he realises it’s Guy.

“You looking for someone, sir?” Claudio asks as he closes his car door.

“Ah! Claudio,” Guy jolts, not expecting to find someone here. “Just on the lookout for any peculiar sorts. Come come come, I need you to go door-knock and do welfare checks on each of the residents.”

“I thought I was packing care packages for the first 4 hours of—”

“Well I’m overriding that,” Guy says, shooing him towards the back entrance.

“Um, alright.” Claudio goes to leave, but pivots, deciding to instead ask, “is this about Ricky? It’s just— he can’t be the first to try and pull a scam here.”

Guy smiles. “I just have a hunch that you’re gonna be more useful checking in on each guest. I can’t be asking you to climb Mount Everest, am I?”

Claudio shakes his head. “You’re right. On it, sir.”

“That’s what I like to hear,” Guy beams.

*

DANNY
4.07pm

Following his early morning toilet-dunking, Danny decided he might as well make use of it and go for a swim at the beach. Seeing as the other two pretty much crashed following their long night of partying and fucking, he went alone, spending most of the day down by the shore. He didn’t realise on the first day that there are actually quite a few food trucks set up along the coast. He grabs lunch at a Japanese bento food truck and eats it on a hill overlooking the gorgeous crisp blue ocean. Just sitting there feeling the wind in his damp hair and watching all the tiny specks of people play along the beach shore below, he feels at peace; he can just be.

He swims for another hour or so then decides to head back to the apartment. To his surprise, Ricky is awake and cooking pancakes on the stove. When prompted about this, he just says, ‘I felt like pancakes.’ He tries to discern his expression to see if he’s still angry about this morning, but something – whether it’s the sleep or the pancakes – has placated him. Not by that much though, since he doesn’t offer Danny any pancakes.

“We’ve decided we’re gonna throw a house party tonight,” Ricky grins as he dollops a pancake into his mouth. “There’ll be loads of people and plenty of chicks to choose from.”

“You really are determined to set me up with someone,” Danny says.

“Hey, I’m just looking out for you bro. You invited me here to give you the classic Schoolies experience so that’s what I’m doing.”

“And I’ve regretted it every day since!”

Ricky chuckles. “Look, all you gotta do is find the hottest girl at the party tonight and fuck her. It’s as simple as that.”

“I think you’re skipping over quite a few steps—” Danny tries to interject.

“I’ll help you get with her, that’s what wingmans are for.”

Danny bites his lip. He really is going in for round 2 of heterosexual dating show with host Mr Doofus and his sidekick, Axe Body Spray McGee. He didn’t anticipate that pretending to be into women would be most of what he’d get up to at Schoolies.

*

VIKRAM
7.28pm

“Baby, I brought us some food.”

Vikram knocks gently on the bedroom door, but when his sleeping beauty of a boyfriend doesn’t respond, he pounces on him on the bed, burying him in a flurry of kisses. This wakes Aidan up, him attempting to counter with some rib jabs but failing, falling back onto the bed as Vikram’s smooch attack reigns supreme.

“You’re so cute with messy bed hair,” he murmurs, causing Aidan to roll his eyes playfully. “I brought dinner back for us.”

He tries leading him to the dining table but he’s planted firmly in the cocoon of bedsheets. Even a few yanks of his arm aren’t enough to nudge him out of his sleepy daze.

“You can’t eat it in bed baby, it’s greasy fish and chips.”

“I’ve swallowed messier things in bed.”

“Hey!” Vikram laughs, resigning to a doona cuddle in amongst Aidan’s arms. This is his favourite side of Aidan – the drowsy and slightly musky boy who just wants to cuddle until the end of time. “Did you sleep okay?”

Aidan didn’t end up going swimming, saying he felt tired and needed a nap instead. Vikram still swam with Leo and Aimee, the three of them having an amusing afternoon going from splashing each other to laps to racing to floating and chatting, and back to splashing each other. It was just like swimming with his cousins back in India. He just hopes Aidan gets to see this side of him on this trip, and gets to see how fun the other two can be.

“Yeah,” he mumbles, squeezing him tighter.

“Are you alright? You’ve been a bit off since morning.”

He buries his face in Vikram’s beard. “The molly…”

“Baby,” Vikram sighs. “It really wasn’t that big of a deal. We just tried it, and you know what, it was kinda fun.”

“We said we weren’t gonna partake in any of the hard stuff,” Aidan replies as he sits up, removing himself from the intertwining of their bodies. “You didn’t think about how dangerous it could be, or how scary it was finding out after the fact that you’d done it behind my back?”

“You know what they say, always do drugs with a friend.”

“You don’t know these people though! You think if something goes wrong, they’re gonna look out for you? The two people who bullied us for years and who never looked out for us in school?”

“They’re not that bad.”

He tilts his head, his daze appearing to wear off, now replaced with petulance. “Surely you must be asking yourself why they’re so interested in you all of a sudden, why they’re being besties with you out of the blue. I wouldn’t be surprised if on the last day they’ll turn around and be like, ‘Gotcha! You’ll never be one of the cool kids!’ But you’re just not thinking about the larger picture because you’re too busy feeling the acceptance you never got in all those years growing up a queer brown person in rural homophobic Perth!”

Vikram’s heart wavers, glitching out. “What did you just say?”

“Wait, I didn’t mean—”

He pushes Aidan off him, standing up. He goes to leave, then turns back, then goes to the door again. “You don’t get to tell me about what it’s like being me and growing up where we did. You may be dating me, but you’re white just like the rest of them.”

“Baby, wait—”

“Dinner’s on the table. I’m going down to the beach.”

His boyfriend calling his name is the last thing he hears before he slams the front door shut. Exhaling into his knuckle, he knocks next door, adrenaline building as Leo opens the door.

“So where’s the party at?”

*

DANNY
8.41pm

Danny returns to the flat after running to the servo to get ice and finds the party already in full swing. What had been an empty apartment is now filled with at least 20 people, all with red solo cups in their hands and chanting the words to some Lil Wayne song. Ricky’s in the corner chatting with a few of his mates, meanwhile Josh is slobbering all over two girls at once near the balcony, going between them like a blunt passed between two stoned friends.

He weaves his way through the scattering of people in the living room and reaches the kitchen. Some guy is grinding very aggressively on this girl against the very tabletop he made his cup of tea on this morning. He places the bag of ice on the counter, then nods at Ricky as he’s not entirely sure what to do with said ice now that he’s obtained it. All he knows is that it’s apparently not for eating and that they won’t be using it to make an ice-sculpted Taj Mahal.

Peeping through the clumps of already established partiers, he finds an opening on the couches and zooms over to claim it as his, grabbing a beer that he’s sure is gonna be revolting along the way. He crashes on the sofa, theatrically tilting his head back and sighing from relief. The worst thing about being a closeted homosexual is people asking him to carry stuff; does he look like he lifts weights? To his right, he hears a soft snicker and looks up to see a man and a woman sitting on the couches next to him.

“Party hasn’t even started yet and you’re already tired?” The woman says playfully with a rather clockable Polish accent.

Danny offers a gentle grin as the woman giggles to herself. She and the man are playing some card game, but seem to be more into hushedly gossiping to each other than who’s winning. The woman’s dressed in a white fur, and the man in a bright cherry red PVC puffer jacket that’s at least three sizes too small for him, sitting on his shoulders like a crop-top length suit of armour. Both are blond, although with the man, it’s obviously dyed. Needless to say they’re easily the best dressed here.

“Was on ice duty,” Danny smiles.

“Oh, see my girls know that if they put me on ice duty, I’ve probably left and found a better house party a few blocks down the road.”

Danny chuckles, and they share eye contact for a second before she glances down at her cards. In an instant, she’s slammed them down on the table. “GO FISH!”

The man sighs, tossing his cards on the table.

“I didn’t know that’s how you play Go Fish,” Danny says.

“It is in Poland,” the woman replies, chewing on air as she happily shuffles the deck of cards.

“She’s my exchange buddy,” the man explains before getting up to get another drink.

Danny nods his head as if to say ‘ahhhhhh’. He watches as she attempts to shuffle the deck, but just fumbles the cards everywhere, a dejected ‘oh’ escaping her constantly pursed lips. She really is a beacon of feminine sexuality.

“You’re really beautiful,” Danny says, inching a little closer. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Ricky gazing over at his direction.

“Thank you,” the woman replies aloofly.

“I’m Danny.”

“Jenny.”

He gulps. “Would you like to maybe find a quieter place?”

Jenny, who’d up until this point been clumsily yet concentratedly doing that thing when shuffling where you get two adjacent halves of the deck and try to fold them into each other, now looks up at Danny’s hopeful face. “Aren’t you gay?”

Danny jolts back a bit, spilling a bit of the beer he’d taken one sip of and decided was utterly repulsive. “Wh— What gave it away?

“I have a sixth sense for these kinds of things,” Jenny says as she goes back to her shuffling. “A sixth, GAY sense.”

The man returns with drinks for all three of them – thankfully something fruity and sweet to replace Danny’s horridly depressing beer.

“What are we on about?” The man asks.

“I just clocked another one, Evan,” Jenny replies.

“Oh girlie, that hair quiff wasn’t fooling anyone,” Evan says.

Danny sits speechless. He thought his hair quiff was quite masc, but apparently not.

“Dead giveaway,” Jenny laments as she tosses the poorly shuffled cards out into three piles.

“Jenny knows every gay person within a 10km radius. She’s like a live-action Grindr.”

“What can I say, I’m the life of the party! Gays just seem to flock wherever I go.”

“Although you did party a little too hard last night,” Evan says, pointing down at his white Nike shoes. There’s a huge vomit stain splattered across the side of the right shoe.

“And like I said last night, I’ll buy ya a new pair girlllll,” Jenny says flirtatiously. “Now, are we gonna play Polish Go Fish or what?”

*

AIDAN
8.58pm

Aidan’s been sitting in his cocoon of bedsheets for a while, eyes fixed on the front door through the agape bedroom door. With each passing minute, he wonders if this will be the moment Vikram re-enters and they can both just say sorry to one another and get this whole stupid thing over with. They’re usually so of the same mind, but this thing with Leo and Aimee for some reason seems so impassable.

As if Vikram would rather hang out with their high school bullies than his own partner who he’s celebrating his two-year anniversary with. He’s surrounded in an inferno with jock goblins who would shove them both into lockers any chance they’d get, and yet the appeal of coking out in this mirage is too alluring for his himbo boyfriend. If only they hadn’t come, he’d probably be home in his room and playing Genshin while Vikram napped beside him.

He checks his phone for the hundredth time to see no new messages. With a humph, he shrugs off the duvet from his shoulders. Within minutes, he’s out the door, through the lobby and reached the beach rave. He weeds his way through crops of gyrating people planted in clusters all around him. Despite being outside, it smells like nobody here has ever heard of aluminium-based deodorant. If this Schoolies trip has achieved one thing, it’s reminding Aidan why he doesn’t leave his house.

Shoving his way through a three-way dry hump, he reaches a clearing where the crowd is much less condensed. He orders an apple juice from one of the food trucks and sips on it while scanning the area. A fraternity of boys to his right are taking turns hitting each other in the nuts while a couple directly in front of him are drunkenly slow dancing to LMFAO’s Champagne Showers. Such picturesque sights Schoolies boasts.

A minute or two passes before he hears a familiar laugh. He turns around and spots a huddle of trees tucked away about a hundred metres behind the trucks. The sound of laughter grows as he gets further away from the beach. When he reaches the trees, he finds who that laugh had belonged to: Leo. It’s the same laugh he used to hear when he’d get pantsed in the locker room. And of course with him are Aimee and Vikram. And that blonde guy.

“Yo, Aidan! Great timing buddy, we were just about to do another line,” Leo calls.

Aidan glances at Vikram but the expression on his face doesn’t give much away. So he decides to look at what Leo’s gesturing at, and realises there are several white lines of powder that have been sprinkled on a park bench.

Alarms immediately start ringing in Aidan’s head. Cocaine, or god forbid something worse, here on this abandoned bench behind some random tree? Not to mention how unsanitary the bench likely is, like who knows what diseases have already seeped into the powder waiting to be ingested and overtake his bloodstream! They’re also not that far away from the beach – Aidan had read the Schoolies website, he knows that possession of drugs here is, like, a felony or something. Okay, he skimmed the website, but still!

Sensing his hesitation, Leo adds, “The trees hide us from anyone seeing. Trust me, I’ve done a lot of drugs behind these trees the past two days and I haven’t been caught once.”

Aidan shuts down the part of his brain that wonders just how many drugs Leo could’ve done behind these bushes in the under 30 hours they’ve been here and instead reorients his mind to the coke at hand. He looks over at Vikram, who remains ungiving with his facial expression, his eyebrows set to a constant frown. He then looks at Leo, who genuinely seems eager to get him coked up, and then to the guy he doesn’t know, who he saw Vikram talking with last night.

Grabbing the Go Card from Leo’s hand, Aidan straightens the top line and inhales it in one go. He shudders a little, blinking a lot as his brain processes this decision. With a cough, he yells, “LET’S PARTY!!”

*

DANNY
9.13pm

“GO FISH!” Jenny exclaims, slamming down her cards giddily for the fourth time. Danny and Evan both groan in unison.

“Who knew Polish Go Fish was just Jenny deciding whenever she wants that she’s won the game despite still having cards in her hand,” Danny mumbles to Evan.

“You get used to it,” he replies with a wink.

“Y’know, I think that’s enough Go Fish for the night,” she sighs triumphantly.

“Four wins will really do that to you,” Danny jokes.

Jenny begins scooping the cards back into the packet, and out of the corner of his eye, Danny sees Evan observing him. He eventually speaks up, asking, “You’re not out yet are you?”

He stammers for a couple seconds, glancing at the kitchen where Ricky’s back is turned (he’s making out with someone). Oddly enough, this is a conversation he’s always craved yet one he dreads. “Yeah,” he replies gingerly. “I’ve told a couple people, but I’m definitely not… I don’t feel comfortable expressing myself in that way. Not yet.”

“I get that. I was the same when I was still in the closet: dressing in a very mundane masc way, afraid to show any sort of heightened emotion or passion. It took me a long time to feel comfortable being the colourful femme bitch I am today,” Evan chuckles.

“So what you’re saying is I’m drab?”

“I—”

The two burst into laughter, Jenny beside them nodding with a big grin on her face (she’s clearly out of it). Is that a bit of a blush coming through on Evan’s cheeks, or is he imagining it?

“Anyway,” Danny continues. “I want to be like that though. I so desperately wish I could be as out and loud and proud as you.”

“You will, it just takes time. If fitting in with masc culture is where you need to be today in order for you to be who you truly are tomorrow, then it’ll all be worth it. There’s no rush when it comes to this shit.”

He smiles, glad to have found someone who understands him for who he is and for where he is in this journey. Ricky or Josh would never be able to talk about this. It makes him wonder what it would be like to experience Schoolies with friends who actually know him for who he really is and who he doesn’t have to hide for.

“I’m ready to go,” Jenny interrupts, hauling her massive pink spangly purse over her shoulder.

“But it’s so early!” Danny protests. He’s not ready for this night to end.

“No, I mean we’re gonna go back to ours and, I dunno, watch a movie or do a line of coke. Anything to get out of this boring party.”

“You think this is boring?” Danny asks, glad someone else has articulated his very thoughts.

“Straight people don’t know how to party,” Jenny says as she clomps toward the door, Evan a couple steps behind her. “You’re welcome to join if you want, I just really gotta get outta here before the mango-flavoured vape settles into my lungs and makes me permanently straight.”

That’s all the invitation Danny needs to leave, and the three of them exeunt. From the other end of the room, Ricky pumps his fist, pleased to see Danny leave with a woman.

*

GUY
9.17pm

Guy opens the door to his office and flings his vest onto the coat rack. He quickly deflates into his chair after a long day of keeping an eye out for Ricky with nothing to show for it. He presses the spacebar on his laptop but immediately regrets it as his flooded inbox of neglected emails flashes in his face. Headings like CARE PACKAGES RESTOCKING and RACCOON PROBLEM — HELP?? swat at his exhausted eyes. He shuts his laptop and instead checks his missed calls on his work phone. He scribbles reminders on sticky notes for himself for tomorrow morning and starts packing his bag for the end of the day as he plays the last voicemail.

Hey Guy, we’ve just received a noise complaint from the 2nd floor. Some guys are having a house party, playing loud music, disobeying room occupancy limits. Could you do a check-in? Thanks.

Guy sets his bag on the table as a thought crosses his mind. The voicemail finishes and there’s a knock on the door.

“Hey boss, so far no update on—”

“Come with me, Claudio,” Guy interjects, already several paces in front and making his way to the elevators. He explains his hunch in the elevator ride up. At level 2, he passes the guy who wore the ‘wedgie me’ t-shirt the night before. He winks at him, who in-turn blushes a little, awkwardly avoiding eye contact with him.

When they reach room 207, Guy stands a couple metres back, planting himself between the room and the elevators. He nods, beckoning for Claudio to knock on the door, which he does promptly. A few moments pass, the thumping of a club song emitting rather loudly from the walls. Many residents have attempted loud house parties before, but Guy hopes his hunch is right.

A woman answers. “Hello?”

“Could you get the host of this room please?” Claudio asks.

The woman nods and closes the door. Claudio exhales a shaky breath, but Guy reassures with a thumbs up that he’s doing well. The door reopens and Guy deliberately takes a few steps back to hide himself from view.

“Hey, could I speak to you out here for a sec?” Claudio asks.

And in an orgasmic tour de force, out walks Ricky wearing nothing but board shorts and thongs. Claudio gestures him forward so that he’s properly out in the hallway, and the door shuts behind him. Guy only has a second to revel in his plan’s success before, as if in slow motion, Ricky inches his head to face him and realisation jolts through his body. For a moment frozen in time, the three of them stand motionless, the music from the party drowned out by the thudding of their collective heartbeats.

Ricky exhales. “What can I help you two with?”

“Would you mind joining us down at the office, Ricky Young.”

*

VIKRAM
9.20pm

The party behind the trees is in full effect, with everyone but Vikram enjoying themselves. Aidan had tossed the Go Card to Aimee, but it missed her hands and dropped onto the ground. He’d muttered something about ‘nerds having bad aim’, then threw his hands in the air and started bopping to the distant doomf doomf beats from the rave. Aimee soon joined him, then Leo, and even the guy he met last night, them all one by one doing a line and standing up to join in the fun. He continues to stand back however, leaning on a tree trunk as he uncertainly observes.

“Didn’t know you were up for a rave like this,” Aimee says as she shimmies over, and the two engage in a few duo dance moves.

“I’m just feeling so high right now, you know?” Aidan replies as he twerks.

“Oh yeah? Did you take something before?”

“Uh… Just some apple juice.”

Aimee cackles. Aidan whoops. Vikram narrows his eyes.

“I’m Aidan by the way,” he says, introducing himself to the guy from last night with a few introductory finger guns.

“I’m Charlie,” the man says. “You’re Vikram’s boyfriend, yeah?”

“Yep, that’s-a me. Our two-year anniversary’s on Friday,” he says loudly enough so Vikram can hear.

“Oh congrats.”

“That’s the whole reason we’re here, because we just love each other so much, y’know.”

That’s all Vikram can take before stepping in, physically inserting himself between the two.

“Woah! It’s like you teleported!” Aidan giggles.

“You don’t have to do this,” Vikram says soberly. “Just because we had that argument doesn’t mean I want you to throw yourself into a situation you’re uncomfortable with just to try and make your point, or whatever.”

“I’m chill, I’m having fun,” Aidan reassures. “Aren’t we, Charlene?”

“I thought you said your boyfriend was a hermit. I didn’t know he could party like this!” Charlie says, slapping him on the shoulder.

The comment seems to go over Aidan’s high head. “Kinda looks like you’re the uncomfortable one here, mate.”

Vikram tenses. He hates being called ‘mate’.

“I just don’t want you to feel pressured into doing drugs you don’t wanna do.”

“God you’re being sooo boring. Just do a line and come dance,” Aidan purrs.

“An hour ago you were practically begging me to not hang out with these people,” Vikram says, now whispering and dragging Aidan even further away from the dancing. “It’s like you’re a completely different person.”

“Gee wonder what that’s like,” Aidan taunts. The shocked look on Vikram’s face tells just how hurtful that was. “Look, I can be chill, okay? You all think I’m some uptight scrawny lil’ guy who can’t get down with the cool kids, but I can!”

“No one’s saying—”

“Just watch me!”

Aidan jogs back over to where the rest are partying, leaving Vikram stammering for him to stop. Aimee’s teaching Leo how to twerk while Charlie watches, and for some reason Leo’s on all fours with his ass up in the air. Naturally Aidan hops behind him and pretends to slap his ass while it wiggles out in the open. He peeks a glance at Vikram, but he’s shaking his head in annoyance. With an emphatic sigh, he turns back to Leo’s ass and catches sight of the waistband of his blue Bonds boxers. With a cheeky grin, he grabs it and hoists it up. Leo convulses as his legs leave the ground. Everyone around them bursts into laughter, Charlie cheering for him to rip them off him. Everyone except Vikram. He hands the stretched out boxers to Aimee, who decides to have a few playful yanks herself, and jogs back over to his boyfriend.

“I think I passed with flying colours,” Aidan grins.

Vikram pauses as he goes to respond several times, but comes up short. He eventually just says, “I’m gonna go for a walk.”

With that, he leaves and strolls back toward the beach.

*

DANNY
9.23pm

The walk back to Jenny and Evan’s place is much longer than Danny had expected. To his surprise, they’re not guests at the resort, but have instead booked an Airbnb a few blocks away. When asked why they didn’t just book a hotel room, Jenny just says, “Too many annoying twats.”

They arrive at the Airbnb and it’s a gorgeous white 2-story townhouse. The front yard is very bare, save for a few flower bushes to the side. The road is paved with grey cobblestone that shines silver in the sunset. A garage sits next to the house, but the gate’s been left open with no car in sight. They enter through the garage and the place is very quaint inside. A large and cosy living room with a built-in fireplace to Danny’s left, and the tiniest kitchen he’s ever seen to his right. In front of him lies a hallway which, at the very end, is a black spiral staircase that must lead to the second floor. Coming from the copy-pasted mundanity of the hotel rooms, it’s refreshing to be in a residence with personality.

There’s a call from upstairs and Jenny clambers up the staircase, almost tripping at the top of the stairs. There are a few squeals and some giggles, and faintly ABBA can be heard.

“We’re sharing it with a couple friends from Jenny’s exchange,” Evan explains.

“Hey, you gays wanna do some coke?” Jenny yells from the top of the landing.

Evan glances at Danny, raising his eyebrows. A few seconds pass before Danny faintly shakes his head.

“Maybe tomorrow!” Evan calls back.

“There won’t be any tomorrow,” Jenny calls giddily, her footsteps clomping away from the landing. A door slams closed and it’s just the two boys.

“It’s a beautiful place,” Danny says after several seconds of silence.

“You haven’t even seen the best part yet,” Evan replies, extending his hand.

Danny immediately finds himself blushing – he’s never held hands with a man before. He takes it and lets Evan lead him through the living room and into what he assumes is his bedroom. The room itself is pretty standard, with a bed, a closet and a window overlooking the beach. Danny expects to stop by the window, as the view is pretty remarkable, but the tug of his hand pulls him into an ensuite bathroom.

“There,” Evan says.

Danny looks around him. It’s a bathroom. “What exactly am I looking at?”

“Look down, you dork,” Evan laughs.

So he does, and he realises he’s staring at a bidet toilet.

“It’s a crime these things aren’t installed in every toilet everywhere; they make a bottom’s life so much easier.”

Danny feels himself clamming up a little, his cheeks red again, but this time from feeling flustered. Evan’s still talking about the features of the bidet, something about eight different spray options, but he’s not paying attention. All he can think about is anal and fucking and lube and condoms and all the things he so desperately wants to experience but gets agitated when he thinks about for too long.

“I don’t want to have sex with you,” Danny blurts.

Evan stops in his tracks, pausing his speech about the ergonomic features of this bidet to be resumed at a later time. In the split second it takes for Danny to continue his train of thought, he sees a flare of hurt cross Evan’s eyes.

“I mean— I haven’t… I’ve never…” Danny stammers. “I’m a butt virgin. Or just, um, a virgin. I’ve never stuck anything up my butt, not even a finger or a cucumber or anything. I am really into you, like if I knew what to do and where to put my bits then I would love to do it, like… with you, I just…”

Evan breaks into a grin, stepping forward and placing his hand on Danny’s shoulder. “Hey, it’s okay. We’re not having anal sex. That’s off the table.”

Danny sighs with relief, struggling to look Evan in the eyes as the embarrassment of his virgin babble hits him. Seeing this, Evan grabs the tip of his chin and pulls his head to face him. “We can just start slowly.”

He leans in and his lips are on his. It’s unlike any kiss he’s ever had before. It’s not a drunk truth or dare kiss or a furious mouth-mash with a girl he doesn’t like. It’s soft. It’s considered. It’s slow, the readying of the lips between each kiss just as important as the actual kisses themselves.

Evan pauses after what feels like hours of tender making out, whispering just inches away from Danny’s face, “is this okay?”

“Yeah,” Danny replies, easing himself back into Evan’s mouth.

The two go at it for a while in the ensuite bathroom before Evan pulls away and leads them back into the bedroom and onto his bed. He gently pushes Danny onto his back, clasping both of his hands against his jaw and continuing the make out. He increases the pace, as what was demure turns fiery. Danny can’t help but notice that during all this, he never needs to question if he’s into what they’re doing. It’s just him and Evan exploring each other’s bodies and there’s no part of that that isn’t irresistible.

“I wanna suck you off so fucking bad,” Evan whispers.

Danny tilts his head back, adrenaline running through his body at the thought of receiving head for the first time. Evan’s fervent smooches make their way down his body. His black jeans are unzipped but only pulled down a little, enough to reveal his black Bonds boxerbriefs. He can only moan as Evan presses his face into his bulge, his dick rock hard against his face, his underwear the only barrier to the impending euphoria. With a rough tug, Danny’s undies are pulled down.

“Oh, fu— cking hell,” Danny groans.

A muffled, stifled chuckle from Evan is his response, before going back to his tip-licking and shaft-stroking technique. Danny can’t believe he’s gone so long without experiencing this sensation. He knew it’d feel good, but not this good. Now he knows why people throw away their whole lives just for one sexual encounter.

Evan takes a break from making him uncontainably moan to kiss him again, Danny murmuring something about how hot it is that he’s tasting himself. Evan reaches down and starts jerking while they make out, his moans getting more and more muffled by his lips. When it’s finally too much, he forces his head back on the pillow.

After catching his breath for a minute, Evan crouches down next to Danny’s panting body, configuring himself into a side-spoon. The two laugh over how much Danny came, and they go back to the soft kisses that started it all. Minutes upon minutes pass. When their lips are all puckered out, the two just lie there.

“Can’t believe I’m a certified homosexual now. Maybe I’ll be ready to actually do anal soon,” Danny mumbles.

“Not all gay men are into anal. My ex wasn’t, and he was still the hottest sex of my life.”

“And how do I compare?”

Evan cocks his head to gaze into Danny’s eyes with a cheeky smile. “Oh you’re up there with the greats. You’re really fucking cute, you know that right?”

“If you make me blush one more time,” Danny jokes. He reaches over and locks his hand into Evan’s. “What did you even do with your ex if not anal?”

“Tons of shit. He had a thing for ballbusting, so I’d mostly just beat the shit out of his balls. Sometimes we’d roleplay.”

Danny shudders a little, as if all the times Ricky has kicked him in the balls flashes before his eyes. He can’t imagine someone being turned on by that feeling.

“It was more about the power dynamics for him,” Evan continues, like he’s sensing Danny’s train of thought. “For many of us, sex is more about the reclaiming of power than it is about the physical act of putting a penis in a hole.”

“Sounds kinda dangerous.”

“It can be,” Evan ponders. “But that’s why we have conversations about this shit. With my ex, we were only able to have hot ballbusting sex because we trusted each other and had open conversations about it.”

“I can’t wait to have that; that trust, I mean. Knowing everything about each other, what turns us on, what scares us, what we love. To live a normal life with a guy who accepts every part of me.”

“Don’t we all,” Evan says, squeezing Danny’s hand.

*

GUY
9.24pm

The three of them exit the elevator, Guy ushering Ricky through the lobby. He briefly stops by the reception to tell them he’ll be staying back today, giving Ricky the opportunity to make a bolt for the door. Within an instant, he’s smack-banged into the front doors, his body kersplat against the glass. Slowly, his arm reaches out to his left and feels for the emergency exit button, fondling the wall for a good few seconds before locating it and pressing it.

“Hey. HEY!” Guy shouts, jolting into action as Ricky shoots out into the night, the straw from his lips remaining pressed into the glass. He dashes after him, car horns fanfaring his chase as he charges down the walkway. Ricky’s only a few metres in front of him, almost within his grip, but when the walkway transitions into the main beach area, the crowd swallows Ricky up and poaches him from Guy’s jittery clutches. He tries to wade his way through the crowd, but he’s nowhere to be found. Furious, he searches harder and faster, pushing people out of his way until a freezing wetness pools around his ankles. He looks down and realises he’s rashly shoved his way to the shallow water. He slams his fists into the uncaring ocean.

A fwoop disturbs his pity party and he looks down to see his pants have been pulled down and are now floating in the water. In an instant, a sharp pain encroaches his groin as he’s lifted up by his own underwear – a pair of yellow Calvin Klein boxerbriefs he’s particularly fond of. He hears the sound of ripping and he can only stand helplessly as the back of his waistband is flung down in front of his own eyes, before being rammed into his mouth, gagging him. With one thrust into his lower back, he falls into the water, floundering as water seeps into his nostrils and wraps around his half-naked body. He hears his own muffled screams and tries to pull the underwear out of his mouth. Kicking up off the seafloor, he emerges and gasps for air. He whips back around him, but Ricky is long gone, lost to the partying masses.

Guy breathstrokes his way back to the shore and slumps onto the sand. The last sounds he hears are cheers for the on-stage act as he passes out, his drenched torn underwear still clung to his body.

*

AIDAN
10.08pm

Aidan spends the next hour dancing his worries away with his new friends. A couple times Charlie heads down to the beverage stands to fetch drinks for them, but for the most part the four of them just dance with their hands in the air. Each pulse that’s followed by the next promises that in this moment, Aidan doesn’t have to feel his shitty feelings. He doesn’t have to wonder where Vikram is or what he’s thinking or whether there’ll even be a relationship to repair once this night is over. It’s just him and the music and the bodies of people he’s beginning to not hate as much.

At one point, he starts feeling overheated and excuses himself for a quick pee break. He can’t be bothered going to the porta potties on the beach, so he decides to walk down towards the shore, but away from the rave. After a few minutes of clumsy trotting, he finds a few trees that’ll provide good cover for his wee. He tugs his dick out of his briefs and begins the pleasant emptying stream.

“I just don’t understand why he’s doing this now, here.”

Aidan’s head shoots up from the drunken gazing at his dick peeing, darting around him to find where that voice was coming from. He doesn’t want to be thinking about that voice right now, but he knows that voice. Sure enough, he spots Vikram off to his far right, chatting with a figure holding a few red solo cups in his hands. With a squint, he realises it’s Charlie he’s talking to.

“I thought out of everyone, he’d understand what it was like for me the best, but…” Vikram pauses. “I’d imagined Schoolies as being our perfect fun little getaway, but things haven’t been right since we got here.”

Trying as best he can to zip his zipper as quietly as he can, Aidan takes a few steps backward to ensure the tree blocks Vikram from his view, then continues to eavesdrop. His fingers are wet, but he just dries them on the back of his jeans.

“I just don’t know if I want to go through with it. Like, maybe… I don’t know, do I just put this on hold while I figure this shit out?”

Aidan covers his mouth with his still wet hands even though no sound comes out. Did he really just hear that? Now not caring about being quiet, he stumbles away from the tree and from the clearing where the man who’s supposed to be the love of his life has betrayed him. He runs as fast as he can on the apathetic sand until he sees people again, sees the food trucks and sees the faceless crowd of happy people. Going against his better judgement, he turns back to where he ran from and sees two figures in the distance, one standing tall while the other is bent over, leaning down to the other’s waist.

Aidan falls to the ground and throws up.

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Hotel Jock: Chapter 1

Friday, 2.12pm

Outside the hotel lobby, a woman is rummaging through her purse when she hears a strange sound. It’s almost like a clicking, or no… perhaps a muffled hissing? It’s definitely breathy, like an elongated gasp, but she can’t quite make out what it is. As she slowly tilts her head to look above, her purse falls to the ground and she screams.

A man is dangling from the balcony two storeys from the ground. What’s holding him hostage are his own white briefs, which have him caught in a deadly hanging wedgie. His body twirls ever so slowly in mid-air, like a rotisserie chicken at a kebab shop. As the woman looks closely, she realises the gurgling sounds are coming from him, as his underwear has come around his front and is choking him at the neck. Within just seconds of her seeing him, the sound abruptly stops and his body collapses limply. The woman screams again, but this time it’s masked by the sound of his dead body hitting the ground.

A flurry of footsteps can be heard from the balcony where he dropped from. The woman looks up but she sees no one.

*

Four days earlier.

GUY
Monday, 1.13pm

Hotel Jock is notorious for being the best Schoolies getaway in the country. The resort is situated in the heart of Surfers Paradise and sees thousands of guests every Schoolies. It tends to have a particularly frat boyish clientele, but that’s something Guy knows all too well.

Red Snakes is the on-the-ground volunteer organisation dedicated to ensuring the safety of Schoolies-goers. At least that’s what he’s grown used to telling people when they think he’s a confectioner, and not an events manager. See, the iconic Aussie red snake lolly is the mascot of the company, and while they do give out a lot of free red snake lollies, the company does so much more than just the fun and the smiles. It’s walking people safely back to their rooms at the end of the night, it’s offering emotional support for anyone who’s inebriated, it’s confiscating and impeding the distribution of illicit drugs. Next to resort security, they’re the next most important people here. That’s a responsibility Guy’s reminded of when he walks past a guest room on the top floor and finds one of his volunteers fucking a Schoolies girl in wheelbarrow position.

“What the fuck are you doing?!” Guy yells.

Unable to dismount in time, the man flounders about as he finishes all over the girl’s bare ass. Several seconds pass as all three of them just stare at each other, the man’s body vibrating at odd intervals.

“Sir, I can explain,” he pleads as he gets up, tripping over the bedside table.

“Put some pants on so I can fire you in my office in 5 minutes,” Guy grumbles.

*

DANNY
2.23pm

He’s trying to concentrate on the instructions the lovely woman at the front desk is telling him, but the kissing and jerking off gestures his two doofus friends are making in his peripheral are making it kinda hard to do so. He exaggeratedly rolls his eyes at them.

“Danny?” The woman asks.

“Huh? Oh, yep, no that’s everything I need… No issues for Danny,” he replies, wincing as he collects his fob. It’s made worse by the fact that his mates are pissing themselves a few metres away at his pathetic attempt at flirting.

The woman smiles and he defeatedly waddles over. His mates, Ricky and Josh, look ready for a week of partying – Ricky in his baggy cargo pants and signature straw hanging loosely from his lips, and Josh shirtless in nothing but jorts and flip flops. There’s a particularly dark mole just below Josh’s right nipple that he’s been meaning to tell him to get checked out, but he can never find the right time to do it without risking sounding gay. If only fragile masculinity wasn’t so threatened by the potential of skin cancer.

“Before you say anything…” is all he can get out before his two friends burst into laughter again.

“Will there ever be a day where a woman doesn’t fall for him?” Josh teases.

“Mate, you’re so dense when it comes to chicks. Your flirting screams virgin without you having to say that you’re one,” Ricky adds.

“Maybe don’t loudly exclaim that I’m a virgin in the hotel lobby?” Danny whispers loudly.

“Don’t you worry, Schoolies chicks are nothing like Melbourne chicks. You’ll be devirginised before we’ve had dinner.”

“Yeah,” Danny replies softly.

The elevator reaches the second floor and they walk a few doors down to get to their room, 207. The inside looks just like the pictures on the website, Danny thinks to himself; nice big living space and a classic Australian 2000s-looking kitchen that’s straight out of Kath and Kim, only in white. There’s a bedroom for each of them and one bathroom that’s petite, but should be enough for the five-day stay.

Exiting the bathroom, Danny notices that Ricky and Josh have already claimed their rooms so he gets the last and smallest one. He doesn’t mind though and places his luggage inside. He walks back to the living room to find his friends waiting for him.

“Since it’s your very first Schoolies, we thought we’d give you a bit of an initiation to the Schoolies life,” Ricky says with one hand behind his back. “You’re free of school now, so you no longer have to be that dorky kid you were for six years.”

“Isn’t this also your first Schoolies?” Danny glances at Josh.

“Yeah but Josh isn’t a nerdy twerp is he?” Ricky replies. “Besides, he’s already experienced his fair share of noogies from me.”

Danny swallows the urge to point out how homoerotic frat bro culture is. He’s been worried about bringing Ricky as he’s a few years older and his parents have always warned about him being a bad influence. But Ricky was very persuasive about giving him the full Schoolies experience, and somehow a week before the trip Josh was also added in. Danny’s totally cool with this whole setup.

“Schoolies is where all the hottest guys come to bang all the hottest girls. It’s like Tinder, but only for people who scored below 60 on their final maths exam.”

“So, Tinder,” Danny interjects.

Ricky continues. “I think by law, or something, there’s not legally allowed to be any virgins like yourself here, but I actually think this is the best place to be a virgin.”

Danny waits for the ba dum tss to drop, but Ricky’s face remains sternly intent on delivering these apparently unironic instructions. “Oh, right”

“You enter a lanky twerp and you leave a sex god,” Josh adds.

“Don’t tell me this initiation is just you two giving me the sex talk,” Danny says.

“Turn around. Close your eyes.” Ricky instructs.

Danny does as he’s told and for about thirty seconds nothing happens. He wonders if they’re still in the room with him when he suddenly feels an excruciating knee to his groin. He yelps, falling to the ground as he covers his sore crotch, as if the closer he shields them with his hands, the less painful the blow will feel as it ricochets through his body. Ricky and Josh begin undressing him as he remains cowering on the floor – first his Reneé Rapp concert tee, then his Converse, and then with some wrestling, his skinny jeans. Soon he’s stripped to just his blue Bonds boxerbriefs. He can only watch as Ricky approaches and yanks them off of him, revealing his bare genitals. A few more kicks to the now public private parts and Ricky tosses an extra small pair of tighty whities to him.

“Put these on,” Ricky commands.

Danny takes a second to catch his breath, which only leads to another sharp stab to the balls, one that elicits a rather embarrassing high-pitched scream. He groans, obliging. The second the whities are on and hugging his bruised balls, the two of them rush to his side, each tugging on one of his shoulders and dragging him to the door. The carpet burn alone is enough to make a grown man contemplate never installing carpet in any home ever again. In an instant, Danny’s flung outside with the door slammed shut in his face, the lock clicking.

“No, please!” Danny yells, crawling to the door and banging on it to be unlocked. “Let me back in!”

He shudders as he realises he has no idea how long he’s stuck out here for. Eventually the laughter he can hear inside dies away, leaving him truly all by himself in the corridor in the tiniest pair of tighty whities ever.

Two guys holding hands get off the elevator and walk past him, doing a bad job of hiding their amusement. One of them mutters ‘tough break’ while the other smirks, but they just stroll by with their suitcases doing nothing to aid the almost fully nude Danny in the hallway. He glances down at the tiny white briefs, realising that they’re so tight that they effectively look like a thong on his tall lanky body. And half of a ball is hanging out.

Thirty minutes and at least two dozen more hotel guests passing by later and Ricky finally lets Danny back into the room with open arms.

“Welcome to Schoolies,” he says, patting him on the shoulder.

“You really got me there,” Danny says as he forces a laugh. “I’m gonna get changed but then maybe we can head to the beach?”

“Hang on…” Ricky says, stopping Danny from entering his room. “Those briefs are staying on unless you wanna risk revoking the initiation.”

“You can’t revoke an initiation,” Danny protests.

“Dude,” Josh says as he taps him on the shoulder, “just go with it. And while you’re at it, put this on.”

He passes Danny a black t-shirt that has nothing on the front. Confused, he flips it over and laughs nervously once he sees what’s on the back. He stares pleadingly at both of them but they don’t budge. Sighing, he puts it on and goes to the bathroom to look at himself in the mirror. From the front it’s a regular black t-shirt, but on the back it says ‘wedgie me’ with an arrow pointing down.

“Fucks sake,” Danny mutters under his breath.

*

AIDAN
2.43pm

Aidan and Vikram have been boyfriends for exactly two years, with this week being the week of their anniversary. Unlike the rest of Australia, they haven’t been counting down the days to Schoolies and in fact, up until two weeks ago they weren’t even coming. Neither particularly like the idea of partying with sweaty flops who have never heard of Slayyyter, or who think Selena Gomez is the Jesus of the music industry. But, fortunately or unfortunately, upon Vikram’s brother’s suggestion, they decided to try it out. After all, they’ll never get another chance to experience it, and there’s a lot of other fun stuff to do on vacation in the Gold Coast. Or apparently there is, the 20 fun things to do in Surfers Paradise article he skimmed on the plane seemed to have a very different definition of the word fun. At least he’ll get to fuck his boyfriend a bunch without his parent’s strict keep-the-door-open-and-no-sex-in-the-house rule.

With check-in finished, the couple head up to the second floor. When they step out of the elevator and into the hallway, they spot a guy on his knees in nothing but tighty whities clawing at one of the rooms. They stifle laughter and make awkward eye contact with him as they gingerly yet quickly try to race by.

“Tough break,” Vikram whispers to Aidan, which forces a pitiful laugh out of him.

They reach the end of the hallway and unlock their room with the swipe card from the front desk: 219. The door to the room next to them has been left flung open and Aidan wonders who’s staying beside them. He’d recognised some familiar faces in the hotel lobby from the plane ride, so he wonders if their neighbours will also be from Western Australia. Neither Aidan nor Vikram were that popular in school, so any friends they do have aren’t really the type to be attending Schoolies. He supposes it’d be nice if they could make some friends.

Vikram’s just wheeling their suitcases through the door when they hear a squeal from inside the neighbouring room.

“Oh my god! Is that Aidan and Vikram?” A woman squawks from inside.

The vacation grin on Aidan’s lips vanishes once he sees who appears from the room: football captain and head jock doofus Leo and his overachieving over-fake tanned popular president-of-the-school-council girlfriend Aimee. He sneaks a panicked glance at Vikram, but he doesn’t see it.

“Woah fancy seeing you guys here,” Leo says as he attempts to bro-hug Vikram, who clearly has never been bro-hugged in his life. He doesn’t even try with Aidan, which, frankly, earns him a bit of respect.

“I can’t believe you both came!” Aimee beams. “I never would’ve pegged either of you for Schoolies.”

Aidan can’t help but visibly face crack, which Vikram sees and quickly steps in to distract from. “Yeah, we weren’t sure about it at first. Aidan here was convinced we were gonna get scammed or robbed or something.”

“Hey, that Facebook article my mum sent was legit,” he pipes up, thawing out of his shock. To his surprise, all four of them have a good chuckle at this.

“We’re glad we came in the end though.” He puts his arm around Aidan.

“Well listen, we’re gonna unpack and get settled, but we’re thinking of heading down to the beach around 8 o’clock. Wanna join?” Aimee asks.

“Yeah, that’d be great,” Vikram replies before Aidan can communicate through stare that that would in fact not be great.

“See you then, boys,” Aimee says as she and Leo head back into their room.

Aidan doesn’t even bother unpacking when they enter their room, he just plops himself onto the bed and groans. A few seconds pass and when Vikram doesn’t respond, he groans again, this time much louder. Soon Vikram is by his side, massaging his curly brown hair.

“I hate that we’re next door neighbours with the most annoying couple at school,” Aidan muffles, not moving his face from his face-planted position in the bedsheets.

“What was that?” Vikram asks.

Aidan lifts his head from the sheets and pouts. “I said, I hate that—”

Vikram kisses him, going from a quick peck to a longer, more passionate smooch. When Vikram pulls away, he breaks out into a grin so wide Aidan can’t continue pouting.

“Even with airport coffee breath, you’re so darn cute,” Vikram teases, now deliberately messing with Aidan’s hair. This elicits a “hey!” as he playfully pushes him off, moving his fingers through his hair to try and fix it.

“I know they’re not exactly the most ideal neighbours we could have here,” Vikram continues cautiously, “but we have a chance to do Schoolies with the popular kids. Don’t tell me you’d pass on drinking and dancing with the coolest football captain our school’s ever seen?”

“Coolest? Did you see the Hawaiian shirt he was wearing?” Vikram just gives him a look. “They weren’t exactly very nice to us in high school.”

“Yeah, I remember. I was there,” Vikram replies as he begins to unpack the suitcases. “It’s just that we’re at Schoolies and I wanna make the most of it. No more exams, no more teasing, no strict parents controlling everything I do. We finally get to be with the cool kids, babe.”

“Well maybe put a brake on that, Echosmith. What if this is a prank and they’re just gonna torment us when we get down to the beach? What if this is an episode of Scotty and the Prank Patrol and we’re being pranked and we don’t even know it?”

Vikram doesn’t answer, just grabs their toiletries bags and goes to put them in the bathroom. Aidan finds himself pouting again, but this time less in a sexually suggestive ingénue way and in more of an actual irritated way. Vikram wasn’t like this a week ago when they were debating coming here. The two had had several drawn-out conversations about Schoolies, and throughout it all Vikram had been very reassuring that if Aidan wasn’t feeling it, they didn’t have to come. But the second they touch down, he’s now suddenly off partying with the very people they used to bitch about at lunch time.

“I just don’t want them to get in the way of our vacation,” he continues from the bed. “Or our anniversary. Two years is a big deal in gay time. I think we might be the first gay couple ever to hit that two-year mark. Well, besides Sarah Paulson, but I don’t think anyone expected Holland to make it past 2011.”

Vikram returns from the bathroom and flings something Aidan’s way. It’s a jockstrap and it lands right on Aidan’s face. Peering through one of the white leg holes, he meets his boyfriend’s eyes, who raises an eyebrow in temptation. He instantly feels the lust building deep in his chest, his heartbeat picking up the pace. The only downside to having a jockstrap fetish is having a partner who knows that any time you’re upset or displeased, he can use said fetish against you. With just a few thrusts into that jockstrapped ass, you’ll blissfully forget what it was you were so bothered by.

His desire takes over and soon Aidan’s stripped down to just the jockstrap and his white Adidas socks. Vikram pounces on him, the two grinding on each other as they bash their mouths together. With one hand, Vikram tugs at one of Aidan’s leg holes and inches it deep into his butt, while the other fondles his erect dick through the jockstrap front. After a few minutes of this, Vikram pulls the two straps to the side and edges into Aidan, their moans filling the room as he starts to thrust hard and quick. The way he pulls on his curly hair, forcing his head to arch back and stare deep into his eyes as he fucks him will never not make him irresistibly horny.

A loud whimper through the walls makes Vikram’s fucking slow to a halt. It sounds again, and again, and he and Aidan freeze there, his dick still lodged firmly inside. A spank echoes, followed by the unmistakable sound of Leo moaning, “fuck me harder, baby!”

Aidan grunts a little as Vikram collapses on his chest, his 6’2” boyfriend forgetting just how much bigger he is compared to his 5’8” frame. The two lie there, their breaths eventually returning as they cradle one another and listen to the orgasm they were robbed of.

“I don’t remember thin walls being advertised on the booking website,” Aidan says.

“And I don’t remember pegging being something straight people our age do, but here we are. We really should sync our Google calendars so we know who’s fucking when,” Vikram murmurs.

“I think I’d rather jump off this balcony than have to see all the 5am jogs Leo probably has scheduled in,” Aidan mutters back.

“Who jogs while on vacation?”

“The insane people next door who you’ve just befriended.”

Vikram closes his eyes and begins to fake a prayer. “Please God let me be free to fuck my gorgeous boyfriend. He’s just so fuckable, like, I can’t help myself.”

Aidan giggles and Vikram wrestles him into his chest, the two snuggling together for a while longer. At some point, long after the wall-travelling sex wails, Aidan whispers into Vikram’s ear, asking if their new neighbours will be as invasive for the whole trip. He whispers back reassuring him that he won’t let them ruin their anniversary. Content with this answer, Aidan dozes off in his lover’s arms.

*

GUY
4.06pm

“I’m Claudio. I’m one of the new, uh, volunteers.”

Guy looks up from his phone to find a shy man fidgeting in the doorway. He’s wearing glasses, is relatively pimply and looks like the type to spend most of his free time in libraries. “Ah. Come in, come in.”

1C is the room Guy’s unofficially claimed as his makeshift office. It’s one of the tiny shoebox office spaces Red Snakes have been assigned at the hotel. The space is rather bare with not much in terms of decoration apart from two fake house plants – one by the door and the other in the corner diagonally opposite it. There are no windows so the air is pretty stuffy.

“You’re quite young. You must’ve only just had Schoolies yourself,” Guy remarks.

“Yeah, class of 2019,” Claudio responds.

“Which school?”

“Frankston High. I grew up in Victoria.”

“Exotic.”

Claudio hesitantly nods.

“In a second we’ll be heading down to the resort with a few other volunteers. Lovely team, you’ll fit right in.”

“Any tips before my first night?” He asks as Guy ushers him out of the room.

“Just don’t let me catch you on top of one of the hotel guests.”

*

VIKRAM
8.03pm

The two have changed into outfits more suited for a summer rave – Aidan’s in a plain white t-shirt with hot pink short shorts while Vikram’s in a black singlet and navy blue shorts. He knows how horny Aidan gets whenever he wears a tank top because of his hairy chest poking out, something he’s reminded of when Aidan chucks the jockstrap onto the bed sheets. “For tonight,” he says with a wink.

“You guys ready for the rave of your life?” Leo asks when Vikram opens their door.

“Ohh boy am I,” Aidan says, his smile already melting off his face.

The four of them make their way to the gorgeous beach. They’d been able to see it from their balcony, but now that they’re up close to that caramel sand and that glistening water, it’s enchanting. Halfway down the walkway, Vikram narrowly escapes a woman projectile vomiting into the bushes. Behind her, a twink of a man with dyed blonde hair is holding her hair back, whispering variations of “c’mon diva” and “you’ve got this queen” to her in-between spews. He can’t help but notice how much he looks like Aidan’s ex-boyfriend.

“Sorry about that,” the man says to Vikram.

“Can’t imagine getting puke on my new white air force ones, am I right?” Leo, who’s a few metres ahead of them, says.

“Yeah dude, that’d be enough to send me right back home,” Vikram replies. Aidan gives him a look at the use of the word dude, to which he just shrugs.

They reach the main beach area and there’s already a huge crowd gathered. There’s a singer performing some electronic dark pop number on the stage, but she appears to be the warm-up act.

“Let’s go get some drinks, babe,” Aimee yells over the noise of the crowd.

Leo nods. “You guys stay here. First drink of Schoolies is on us, kay?”

The other couple head over to a section that’s been designated for drinks, leaving Aidan and Vikram alone for a minute. Sensing Aidan’s slight discomfort, Vikram takes his hand in his and squeezes it gently.

“We can leave at any time if you’re not feeling it,” Vikram soothes.

Aidan nods his head. “No, this’ll be fun.”

“That’s my boy,” Vikram says as he pulls him into a kiss.

*

DANNY
8.14pm

A hundred or so metres away from the stage, Danny is bearing his 12th wedgie from a stranger. This one’s some scrawny beach boy with curly blonde hair and the most enchanting dimples. He actually doesn’t mind getting wedgied by this guy – yes there’s already a stinging in his butthole that’s gonna take a good few days to subside, but the guy’s laughing and patting him on the shoulder. He could get used to this.

“Okay, okay— enough! Cool it on the briefs, Cody Simpson,” Ricky says, the straw punctuating his speech as it bobs up and down in his mouth. He ushers the guy away as the tighty whities reach Danny’s shoulder blades. “Save some for the rest of these guys, gotta make sure there’s a bumhole to wedgie in the first place.”

Dimples guy lets go and fist bumps him, jogging back to his friends who are nearby and absolutely pissing themselves with laughter. At least it beats the group of 5 girls from half an hour ago who all wanted to take turns yanking his briefs. Now those wedgies hurt, and not just because of their pointy nail extensions.

“I told you, wedgies are the best icebreaker for meeting people,” Ricky says.

“If only people with social anxiety knew this simple life hack,” Danny sighs.

“Yeah dude…” Ricky replies, not getting the joke. “Well I’m gonna try and find the girl from earlier who gave you a back AND front wedgie. I think she really digged you.”

Before Danny can respond, Ricky’s already off. It’s been an hour since he saw Josh who ‘had to go take care of business,’ whatever that meant. Probably a threesome with some random chicks, he thinks to himself. So he’s alone in a sea of people snickering at his t-shirt and stretched out tighty whities. How he expected Schoolies to go any different, he doesn’t know.

*

CLAUDIO
8.17pm

Patrolling the beach has proven more difficult than expected. He’s been handing out red snakes and bottles of water for what feels like hours. When he glances at his Apple Watch, it’s only been 34 minutes. At least as long as no one’s getting trampled to death though, the job’s not that bad. That is until he spots a rather peculiar scene a few metres to his left.

“You okay?” Claudio asks, approaching the man.

“Huh?” The man’s in the middle of picking a wedgie out of his crotch, his hand rummaging around the front of his jeans. When he turns around, his cheeks are rosy red, like he’s been blushing the whole night.

“You need a hand?” Claudio asks.

The man stutters for a second. “With… with picking my underwear?”

“No! No, sorry I…” Claudio stammers. Several seconds pass as he stands there, embarrassed and vocal-frying in thought. “I’m Claudio. I’m with Red Snakes. I— I meant is anyone taking advantage of you? Your shirt, it says—”

“Oh right,” he says, catching on. He extends his hand out. “Danny. My friends did it, it’s all good.”

“Weird thing for a friend to do,” Claudio replies, shaking his hand before remembering where it had been five seconds earlier.

“It… is, actually.”

Guy, who has also been on patrol, walks over next to Claudio. “How are things going in this section?”

“It’s good, no dangerous or illegal activities here sir.”

“Good, good,” Guy says, poking his head above the crowd like an emu and scanning around them. He lets out a brief cackle when he eventually notices Danny’s t-shirt. “Oh my, what have your mates gotten you into!”

Danny forces a polite laugh. “I know, it’s a real ballbuster.”

“Oh I bet!” Guy exclaims.

A couple seconds pass between the three of them, that entranced grin on Guy’s face frozen in time and Claudio standing there slowly nodding his head in affirmative yet absent active listening. Eventually, Danny looks down at his pants and gestures towards them.

“You— you want a go?” Danny offers them.

“Oh, no, I probably shouldn’t—” Claudio begins.

“Fuck, alright! Let ol’ Guy have a go at the fun,” he replies.

Danny turns around, and after a couple seconds of Guy awkwardly sticking his hand down his pants, he proudly jabs his hand up, making Danny stand on his tiptoes from the sheer strength of the tug. He grunts, unable to keep his poker face as he grimaces, his face flushing redder as the people around them stifle their laughter. Suddenly there’s a loud tearing sound and he’s practically hoisted up in the air as the back of his waistband is flung over his head, landing abruptly in front of his nipples. Losing his balance from the force of it, he trips, hitting the ground where he lays there, groaning. While everyone around him is held hostage to a laughing fit, Claudio helps him up.

“Good sport,” Guy says, celebratorily slapping him on the bum.  “I know we’re on the clock and everything, but it’s always great to participate in the fun. Takes me back to my Schoolies days. Do let us know if you do run into any actual trouble, though.”

Guy gestures to Claudio that they should continue the patrol, when they’re joined by a man who immediately engages Danny in a bro-hug.

“Danny my man, I found her! Y’know, front and back girl?” he exclaims, beckoning at someone over his shoulder before gesturing a back and forth wedgie with his hands.

“Enjoying Schoolies?” Guy asks.

The man pans his attention across to the two of them, having been so caught up in the moment he appears to have not regarded them. Claudio can’t help but notice the faintest realisation set in on his face – of what, he has no clue.

“Yeah, man, it’s fucking fantastic,” he says after a beat.

At this point, a woman arrives who, from the look on Danny’s face, is the famed front and back girl. The weird man with the straw in his mouth slaps him on the shoulder before excusing himself to go find another friend. Claudio glances at Danny, but he’s engaging in the most awkward eye contact with the girl.

He feels a sweaty palm on his shoulder. “We’re off. Enjoy the night,” Guy says, winking at Danny.

The two head off, Guy heading for the food trucks while he makes his way to the rave. He can just make out the woman asking if she can give Danny another wedgie before he’s out of earshot.

*

AIDAN
8.36pm

The mosh pit is somehow sweatier and clammier than Aidan expected. There’s a pungent smell in the air that he can’t escape, and everyone seems to be jumping at incongruent intervals. He’s been attempting to bop along like his eager boyfriend and their new ‘friends’ for the past 10 minutes, but he just can’t shake the feeling that he’s not meant to be here. The song changes to yet another Selena Gomez song and he takes his chance to slip out of the pit. He’s almost halfway up the hill back to the hotel when he hears his name called out.

“Aidan! Hey, wait up!” Vikram’s jogging behind him. “You ok?”

“That was really intense,” Aidan replies.

“I can sit with you for a bit if you like?” Vikram offers.

“Actually I think I might just head back up.”

“Oh,” he says disappointedly.

“Yeah, I’ve just got a bit of a headache and I think I’m still jet lagged,” Aidan lies. “Are you gonna stay?”

“I might stay for the rest of this set but then I’ll come up?”

Aidan nods. “I’ll be waiting in my jockstrap.”

Even though the rave isn’t Aidan’s vibe at all, his boyfriend might actually be enjoying this to an extent. They kiss and then part, Vikram heading back to the mosh pit and Aidan making his way back to the hotel. When he reaches the top of the hill, he turns back around and stares at the crowd. It takes him a minute, but he spots Vikram, who seems to be enjoying himself with Leo and Aimee. All three of them are jumping with their hands in the air to the music, having a great time.

This isn’t what he envisioned. Sure, maybe they would’ve come down to the beach a couple nights, watched the raves unfold from the sidelines while judging everyone else. But to actually enjoy it? It’s not what they’d agreed upon. Or at least, that’s not what Aidan wanted.

He looks back at the crowd and sees a mass of glow sticks in the air, matching the change to a slow song. It’s actually not half bad, but it’s no Speechless by Lady Gaga. He glances back at the crowd and spots Vikram chatting with some guy he hasn’t seen before. He’s tall, rather handsome with gelled back blonde hair. The man’s saying something in Vikram’s ear, something that makes him laugh violently. He usually only laughs like that when around Aidan.

The drummer comes back in and it’s back to an upbeat song, and what was a rather personal moment between his boyfriend and some stranger turns back into a tide of people all dancing together as one. Aidan turns around and heads up to the hotel.

*

DANNY
8.41pm

“Trotsky was basically Lenin’s Michelle Visage,” Danny tells the girl, who he thinks is called Amy but can’t remember.

“I don’t remember that being in the history revolutions syllabus,” Amy says.

The two are walking down the hallway back to Danny’s room, Amy leading by tugging on his ripped waistband. He doesn’t know how his face hasn’t been blushed raw with the amount of stares he’s received on the walk back to the hotel.

“This is me,” he smiles as they reach room 207. He hasn’t even finished closing the door to the flat when her lips are pressed against his and they’re clumsily careening to his room. Sure, he’s had a peck or two during truth or dare, but he’s never properly made out with anyone before. It’s a lot more mouth-mashing than he imagined and he didn’t realise just how prominent the smell of each others’ breaths would be, but he supposes he doesn’t mind it. With half his brain focusing on making out, he uses the other half to guide them both onto his bed.

Once on his bed, Danny closes his eyes, expecting much more sloppy making out. But he hears an unzip and opens his eyes to see that Amy has made her way down to his groin. Freeballing now due to the ripping wedgie, his flaccid dick flops out. She takes it in her hand and starts jerking.

“How’s that feel?” She whispers.

Danny lies back, focusing on her swift back and forth of his manhood. Her tight grasp, her affectionate whispers. This is… good, right? This is surely an objectively pleasurable experience for all parties involved. Ricky and Josh would be over the moon that on his first night, he’s hooking up with a pretty girl. And she really is so pretty, like so pretty. Her face is aesthetically pleasing in a very symmetrical way, she has long silky hair, her nails have been recently manicured; she is just the embodiment of classic aesthetic beauty.

Danny sits up. “I’m gay.”

Amy stops mid-jerk and looks up at him, her body in mid-arch and her mouth agape as she was clearly about to go down on him.

“You’re gay?”

“Yeah, I’m gay.”

“Oh.”

Danny’s penis flops out of her hand as she sits up and thinks for a minute. At a couple points she looks like she’s about to ask a question, but stops herself, delving back into her thoughts. Eventually, she just asks, “this whole time?”

“Pretty much. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, I’m just not really out of the closet yet. And Ricky and Josh are hellbent on me losing my virginity to a woman over Schoolies so…” He trails off.

“That’s alright,” she says as she stands up and puts on her shoes. “My second cousin’s gay, so I know what it’s like.”

“Sure,” Danny replies, still naked and lying on the bed.

“I just wish you hadn’t wasted my time. God why are the cute ones always gay?”

“I’m really sorry, Amy.”

“My name’s Denise.”

Danny blinks. “Oh.”

Denise groans. “I’m going back to the beach.”

“Please don’t tell Ricky or Josh about this,” Danny calls out as she leaves his room.

“Whatever, dork,” she calls back, followed by a slam of the door.

*

GUY
9.32pm

Guy lounges in his chair, stretching and elongating every taut muscle in his body. A shiver breezes through his body and he rests his head on the arm of the chair. In front of him, Claudio stands in the doorway, picking at his lip.

“Oh, you can go. You’ve done well today,” Guy says, sitting up and smoothing out his face with his palms. “I usually spend a good 15 or so decompressing after a long day. You go on ahead.”

“Thanks, uh, sir.”

He grabs a bottle of whiskey from the bottom drawer of his desk and pours himself a couple sips worth. Returning the bottle to the drawer, he’s surprised to find Claudio still lingering in his doorway. “Unless you’d like to join me for a drink? Or moreso a mouthful, gotta drive home after all.”

“No, sorry.” He goes to leave, but pauses, turning back. “I just can’t get that guy down at the beach out of my mind.”

“Which one? The guy who streaked naked across the stage?” Guy says after a sip.

“No, not him. When we were by the guy with the wedgie shirt.”

“Him?” He says with a chuckle, reliving the ripping wedgie moment.

“Moreso his friend. Didn’t he seem… I think I know him from somewhere.”

Guy beckons for him to join him on his side of the desk. A couple passcodes later and he’s brought up a list of all hotel guests who have been blacklisted. “You think he’s trouble?”

“Scroll down,” Claudio says, practically taking over control of the mouse. The soft rolling of the scroll wheel pulses like a heartbeat in the otherwise silent room. When the first page produces no results, Claudio goes onto the second, and then the third, before finally clicking on a profile. “There.”

He’s brought up the profile of Ricky Young. Although there’s no photo attached, there’s a single log from two years prior.

Ricky Young was found to be the perpetrator of dangerous activities including harassment, hazing and supplying illicit drugs that lead to three guests being hospitalised in 2021. Also found to avoid Schoolies payments and unlawfully squatting with friends despite not booking accommodation. Has the distinct scent of tobacco and mulch.

“He went to my school. Was a couple years above me – absolute madman, he was.”

“He might be a tooly,” Guy says, deep in thought.

“What’s a tooly?”

“They’re people who graduated years ago who return to Schoolies to cause trouble,” he explains. “They exploit a bunch of 18-year olds just trying to have a fun time. Supplying drugs, hazing rituals; yeah, it’s all there.”

“So what are we gonna do?”

Guy takes the final swig of his whisky. “We’re gonna get him.”

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Wedgie Warlock: Chapter 5

Five years earlier.

Anton’s heels slam against the barbed wire, sending a rattle pattering throughout the fence. Jeers taunt at his ankles like a pack of wolves waiting for their prey to succumb to defeat. No matter how hard he closes his eyes and cries out in distress, no one is coming to rescue him from this torture.

“You better hope Saturday games aren’t cancelled this week Anton, or else you’re in for the longest weekend of your life,” Jono admonishes.

Tim walks up and pulls down on Anton’s legs, searing the underwear further up his ass. This elicits a high-pitched wail, which seems to satisfy Tim and prompts him to sit back down a few feet from the fence where his brother Jim sits. Anton’s been hanging for at least a couple hours, maybe even longer. He lost feeling in his groin roughly three leg-pulls ago, and he wonders if he’ll ever feel anything down there again. On his left, Jono stands with a lit cigarette dangling from his lips, scrolling on his phone and occasionally looking up to check the pathway on the other side of the fence making sure no teachers or anyone with authority comes past. Unfortunately for Anton though, with school out for the rest of the year, the walkway’s been empty for quite some time. Jono’s phone chimes and he chuckles lightly.

“Well boys, Sophie’s just got off work so we’re gonna go fuck a bunch in the back of her aunt’s car,” Jono says, bro-hugging Jim and nut-tapping Tim goodbye. “Now you,” he smirks, turning to Anton who remains hanging helplessly on the fence, “you’ll be good to my bros now won’t you?”

Anton’s head slowly nods, although trembling is probably a more accurate description. This isn’t helped when Jono comes even closer so that he’s just inches away from his victim, cupping his face in his hand for a brief moment.

“And remember, no one’s coming to save you. No one cares enough about you to even think about saving you. You’re getting just what you deserve, you pathetic, weak nerd,” Jono says in a low yet menacing tone.

Satisfied with the torment he’s imbued, Jono takes one final breath of his cigarette, blowing smoke into Anton’s face. He then takes his exit, calling out “you look even nerdier from the back!” as he walks on the pathway behind the fence.

The twins don’t stay for too much longer once their leader’s gone. They taunt and pull Anton’s legs a bit more, even give him a few nut shots, but mostly keep to themselves and gab about school and homework and teachers. With not much else to do besides listen, Anton reluctantly learns Jim can’t actually read and just pays people to do his homework for him, and that Tim might legit be bisexual (“Am I, like, supposed to be as into Mr Rogers as I am Ms Humphreys bro?”). Eventually the two decide to head off when it begins getting dark, the sun setting as Anton remains ensnared in this never-ending hanging wedgie.

Five years later, present-day Anton recalls the powerlessness he felt during that hanging wedgie as he stands in the shadowed darkness of a hallway in the MCG’s bleachers. How inescapable his torture was, and how futile it was for him to hope that someone would let him down when no one ever did. His blood boiled for vengeance then, and it sure as hell boils now. Like molten lava flowing through his veins, his retribution knows no bounds, no limits.

The horns blare and the stadium erupts as the players jog onto the field below, indicating the preliminary chants and roistering before the start of the match. A smile creeps its way to Anton’s face. These football players have no idea what’s about to happen. No one’s coming to save them. No one will be able to save them, not from Anton’s clutches. They’re gonna get just what they deserve.

Anton dashes to the end of the hallway and out into the crowded bleachers. He leaps, rods of the same metallic fibre used in his slings extending from his cape sleeves. Focusing his telekinetic powers on the rods, he uses them to levitate him forward through the air. He hovers above the heads of excited fans, soon reaching the centre of the field. In one quick gesture, he curls his hands upward as he telekinetically wedgies every single football player on the field. He cackles as the athletes screech in unison and all around fans begin to realise something’s gone terribly wrong.

With the flick of his wrists, Anton shoots out dozens of metallic fibre slings from his pockets, each one linking themselves in and under a player’s groin and lifting them up off the ground, their screams getting louder and more dire. Among the players is Darren, currently howling with pain as he’s levitated via the most intense wedgie of his life. Gasps emit throughout the stadium, with some spectators getting out their phones to record the debacle but most not knowing what to do. Sat next to his puzzled cousin in his apartment several blocks away from the stadium, a horrified Timmy softly whispers “oh no” as he watches this all unfold live on TV.

Several streets from the unfolding chaos, Cody slings his way throughout the CBD. He’s starting to get the hang of using the city buildings as his own personal monkey bars, although the sensation’s unlike anything he’s ever experienced. It’s not so much painful as it is awkward yet absolutely thrilling. It’s like a roller coaster that continuously swings him left and right, tugging uncomfortably at his butt cheeks but enabling him to glide through the air with ease. By now, he actually has kind of gotten used to the sensation of the discomfort, his underwear lodged somewhat snugly in and around his groin.

Cody turns the corner to Bourke Street Mall, one of the CBD’s central shopping and tourist hubs. Up until now all he’d got was maybe a few perplexed look-ups as he soared through small streets and laneways, but now his wedgie antics are front and centre for all to see. Immediately people start pointing and taking videos, catching Cody a little off guard as he overshoots his right leg hole, completely missing the pole he was aiming for and sending him hurtling to the ground. At the last second he yanks the back of his underwear to stabilise himself, ensuring a smoother than expected landing. Nevertheless, he’s attracted a swarm of phone flashlights and shouting faces, surrounding him on all sides.  His extremely oversized and stretched out underwear hangs on the floor, prompting a few people to bend down and attempt to touch it. For a second he’s taken back to that day on the fence, where everyone gawked at him and phones were out to permanently capture his humiliation. The camera shutter clicks, the phone flashes, the overlapping of voices – this is exactly what it felt like, as if he’s some immobilised sculpture in a museum for all to look at and judge.

Remembering Timmy’s advice, Cody shoves his fears back down. He will not fall prey to external judgements, no matter how outrageously bizarre it is for some 23-year old man to be flying throughout the city by his huge tighty whities. Cody centres his focus back to the MCG, shooting his left leg hole out and hooking it to a nearby pole. He’s able to swing out and escape just before the crowd gets too invasive, recovering his tempo as he leaves the crowd behind.

Cody makes it to Fed Square without any other major mishaps. Once there though, he’s stopped in his tracks by what he sees projected on the huge screen in the plaza: live coverage of football players hanging in the air by their undies, and a smug Anton in the middle directing all this with his wedgie telekinesis. His foe has already attached metallic fibre slings to the jocks and is beginning to attach them to the huge goal posts on either end of the MCG, securing them in permanent death-defying hanging wedgies. Fuelled by his reinvigorated desire to put an end to Anton’s scheme, Cody continues on, plunging into the final stretch to the arena.

Back at the stadium, all thirty-six of the on-field players have now been hung onto one of the goal posts by metallic sling. Anton hovers in the centre of the field, gloating as he announces his master plan of vengeance.

“Are all cameras on me?” Anton yells, his voice booming throughout the arena. “This isn’t going to work unless all major media outlets are filming this.”

A hoard of security personnel rush out from the stands and onto the field, preparing their guns and lining up in unison. A chief emerges from the line-up with a horn speaker.

“Cease what you are doing and return all players to ground, or we will fire,” the chief sternly says into the speaker.

“No one can stop this, especially not you and your puny guns” Anton replies, grinning.

“We will fire in three, two—”

With the cock of Anton’s hands, the troops are all lifted up into the air by their underpants, being briefly suspended before being thrown back onto the floor, many of whom now in debilitating atomic wedgies. The few who do manage to stand back up, Anton sweeps them off their feet, sending them flying by their front underwear to the other end of the stadium.

“You see, my whole life has been ammunition for revenge. I’m not gonna let anyone ruin my moment,” Anton bellows. “For far too long, jocks like these supposedly strong men have reined terror on people like me. Countless wedgies and swirlies and being shoved into lockers and having my life be made into a living hell just to stroke their ego. We celebrate and encourage such pure expressions of masculine dominance through sport, but do nothing when the same dominant masculinity is weaponised to hurt and ridicule and mock. This ends today. With my powers, I am finally able to show these buffoons what us nerds are truly capable of. These AFL players are only the beginning. From now on, EVERY jock shall bear the same fear I’ve carried MY ENTIRE LIFE! And with that—”

“Stop!” Cody shouts, swinging his way into the arena. He secures himself on one end of the MCG, his leg holes just able to stretch out far enough to suspend him from either end of the roof. “You can’t do this!”

“Twist!” Anton smirks. “Here to get your ass handed to you one more time?”

“What you’re doing makes you no better than the people who’ve bullied you,” Cody yells.

“And wouldn’t you know,” Anton spits back.

“I’m done taking the blame for you to justify your mistreatment of others. I’m not responsible for that day 5 years ago Anton, but I will be responsible for stopping you and saving these innocent people today, because there’s no way I’m gonna let you get away with any more harm!”

Anton guffaws to himself. Out of the corner of Cody’s eye, he spots Darren hanging from the goal post closest to his left. The two share eye contact for a split second and Cody smiles, evoking a flood of relief to Darren’s rosy cheeks.

“Well alright. Let’s see you save these poor, innocent people then!”

With a downward flick of the wrist, Anton swiftly recalls all of his metal slings. All thirty-six AFL players who were hanging plummet to the ground, a wave of gasps and shrieks emitting from the crowd. Jolting himself out of shock, Cody takes stock of the whereabouts of all athletes and extends his telekinesis out to cover the full arena. Using all his might, he pulls out all thirty-six players’ underwear, giving them all wedgies as he manages to suspend them mid-air, halting their falls.

Having closed his eyes through exertion of his powers, Cody now opens them and takes a few seconds to appreciate what he’s just accomplished. Luckily all the athletes are wearing Gagarium’s successor, a durable trunk without any of the toxicity, ensuring the players’ underwear don’t immediately snap from the pressure. Still, the enormous mental strain causes Cody to falter a little, groaning as he struggles to maintain telekinetic control of thirty-six people’s underwear.

“Whatever happened to not giving other people wedgies, Cody?” Anton taunts. “Because honestly, I’m a little offended that you reject my offer to wedgie the world’s jocks, and here I find you doing exactly that!”

“Oh you fucker,” Cody grunts, doubling down on the thirty-six dangling wedgies he’s giving. Of course Anton would intentionally put him in a position where he has to do the one thing he doesn’t want to do in order to stop a gruesome mass-murder. Knowing he can only maintain this for a few more seconds, Cody lowers the jocks down the rest of the way, managing to get them all somewhat bump-free to the ground. The second they’re safe, they rush to the sidelines.

Cody turns back to face Anton, but immediately is pulled out of his roof-suspension wedgie, soaring across the arena to where Anton is by the front of his underwear. Realising his foe’s taken control of his trunks, Cody attempts to stabilise himself by pulling on the back of his underwear, but is instantly made aware of his mistake in the resulting ball-splitting squeaky-clean wedgie. Anton takes advantage of this, expanding it out to an all-around wedgie by mentally tugging on all sides of Cody’s underwear, eliciting a shrill scream.

“Give into the pain,” Anton yells over Cody’s cries. “Give me the wedgie you know you want to give me. You have no chance of succeeding without using the full extent of your power.”

“Never!” Cody belts.

Anton sends several metallic slings over to Cody, one locking in place in wedgie position (in and around his genitalia) and the rest bandaging themselves around his outstretched body. Cody’s stretched out underwear is now pulled to hug his body, making way for the slings to start encasing him and his wedgied undies like an Egyptian mummy. Anton levitates higher, rising above the stadium and bringing his enveloped victim with him.

“Let it be known what happens to those who try to oppose the new reign of nerds,” Anton roars.

Below them, the crowd anxiously watches in fear as Cody is tortured, his agony broadcast on televisions all over the country. Back home, Timmy sits with his phone in his hand and bated breath, too engrossed by what’s happening to explain to his cousin why his best friend and roommate is at the biggest sporting event getting the wedgie of his life for all to spectate.

“You can do it Cody,” Timmy says under his breath.

At the MCG, Cody lies helplessly as Anton continues to wrap him in slings. He tries but fails to pull them off him, the Gagarium particles in them being too small for him to manipulate with his mind. He glances down at the field and more troops have lined up, guns poised at Anton. But the proclaimed wedgie warlock pays them no heed, continuing to wrap his wedgied prey.

The final sling coils into place and Cody notices the faintest grin slither its way to Anton’s lips. With a quick swish, Cody is flung up and out of the stadium, soaring through the air back towards the CBD. He can barely protest as wind lashes at his ears, the city landscape hurtling towards him at frightening speed. He takes notice of his trajectory and realises Anton’s throwing him into the Yarra River with the intention of drowning him.

Passing over Birrarung Marr park, Cody frantically searches for some way to stop his descent and break free from the slings that still keep him chained. At the rate he’s going now, he’ll just fly over the Princes Bridge and land in the river beyond it. Remembering his extra resources, Cody telekinetically plucks out one of his XXXL projectile briefs and shoots it out in front of him, latching both ends on adjacent poles at the front end of the bridge. With Anton’s mind control now solely focused on the slings and no longer on Cody’s underwear, he’s able to tug on his own boxer briefs, pushing them downwards against his back to force a slightly lower trajectory. Thanks to his quick thinking, he hits the projectile brief that acts like a hammock breaking his fall, ripping off the poles upon impact. Cody lands on the bridge’s road, rolling past multiple startled pedestrians and stopping just short of the other side’s footpath.

“Motherfucker,” Cody groans, greeting the new aches in his body. At least the wedgie pain he sort of likes, the other body pain from being almost forcedly drowned is nowhere near as pleasurable.

He hardly has time to catch his breath as Anton touches down some feet away, metal fibre rods retracting into his sleeves. Before any more damage can be done, Cody yanks his own underwear, allowing his entire body to shoot out of the metallic sling contraption undies-first, just as Anton fails to tighten them. His luck doesn’t last long though as Anton immediately starts manipulating Cody’s undies, wedgieing him from all sides. Due to the enhanced stretch of the Gagarium reinforced underwear, Anton’s able to inflict multiple atomic wedgies, pulling over Cody’s head first from the back and then the sides and front.

“I guess the plus side of you being an annoying brat is I finally get to give someone a gift wrap wedgie,” Anton sneers.

“[muffled shouting],” Cody retorts.

Anton starts circling his hands in a tornado-like motion, causing the wedgie victim to spin round and round, slowly levitating upwards by his cocooning underwear. Cody tries to lash out with his arms and legs, but they’re tightly restricted by the wedgie. If it weren’t for the destabilising spinning, he might be able to take over telekinetic control from Anton, but the rising motion sickness makes that a no-go. Recalling the projectile brief that he used to break his fall, Cody mentally feels out for it, eventually locating its whereabouts in his mind’s eye. Using all his might, the brief whips up at Anton’s arms, breaking his focus and sending Cody falling back to the ground.

Retracting his atomic wedgied boxer briefs, Cody sends out a couple more projectile briefs that hit Anton in the face, blocking his vision. This buys him just enough time to run forward and extend his right leg hole out, hooking over Anton’s head and tightening around his body. With his immobilised foe secured in the makeshift lasso, Cody does a backflip, the momentum ramming Anton to the ground hard.

“Now that’s more fuckin’ like it,” Cody pants.

Conscious of maintaining the upper hand, Cody retracts his lasso while sending out another two projectile briefs, using the leg holes to catch Anton in an even bigger lasso around his chest and kneecaps. Holding onto the other end of the projectile briefs’ leg holes with his hands, Cody flings out his own underwear and begins soaring his way through the city once more, now with his foe trailing behind him. He keeps low this time and sticks mostly to traffic lights and low-level poles, making sure to give Anton’s succumbing body the bumpiest ride he can.

“How’s the weather back there?” Cody teases.

“You piece of—”

Anton bumps into a bin.

“I swear to God when I—”

Anton bumps into a fire hydrant.

“Release me right now or I will end your—”

Anton bumps into a traffic light.

Cody grins at his indulgent payback at Anton, so much so that he fails to notice an oncoming bus. He’s able to swerve out of its path at the last second but comes crashing to the ground. He’s not even on his feet when his underwear’s yanked up and over his head and the lasso leg holes he’s holding are jerked forward, sending Cody scraping across the gravel on his front in his atomic wedgie. With a thud his swimcapped face meets Anton’s boot.

“What you just did made the torment I’m about to put you through one hundred times worse,” Anton growls.

“You’re gonna have to catch me first.”

Thinking on his feet, Cody unhooks his atomic-ed waistband from his forehead and yanks it upward, whipping Anton across the face. Cody then does a full 180 with his underwear, sending it, and therefore him, backward. He kicks his way onto his feet, now fully running up the street. A quick glance over his shoulder confirms that Anton’s only a few paces behind him, prompting Cody to direct his right leg hole out to the nearby flagpole and recommence his swinging trek throughout the city. Anton does the same, extending metal rods from his arms and enabling his pursuit.

The two fly down Little Lonsdale Street, Cody curving and twisting his way through the bustling street while Anton hovers close behind. Tradies pause construction work to gape, and a parked tour bus on the right side of the road is jolted alive as astonished tourists point and snap photos of the passing chaos. At every chance possible Anton hurls a metallic fibre sling at Cody, but only one of them hits, grazing Cody’s upper thigh and slightly tearing the back of his khakis. He must have thrown out at least a dozen, or maybe even two, yet each one misses and hurtles down to the road below. One sling almost hits Cody directly in the head as he swings past Officeworks, but at the last moment he shoots out his own last projectile brief, intercepting it and taking it out.

Cody soon realises that it’s only a matter of time before he can no longer put off the inevitable fight between them. Additionally, the longer he continues, the tireder he becomes, having already swung to the MCG and back, and then some. As he nears Exhibition Street, he gets an idea. He decides to make a surprise attack, using the traffic light to pivot and circle around, outstretching his other leg hole and grabbing hold of the metal sling Anton’s using to levitate on his right arm. He yanks on it, ripping it from Anton’s grasp and disposing of it down below. Cody goes for Anton’s other metallic sling, but not before his foe manages to grab hold of his underwear, reeling him in to a knee in the balls. This elicits a whimper from Cody, but Anton’s nowhere near done. Cody’s back waistband is propelled backwards, sending him flying out into the main intersection to a fanfare of car horns and pedestrian yells. While he does succeed in confiscating the other sling in the process, he ends up crashing into the famed John’s Ice Cream Stand, collapsing the cart and splashing ice cream everywhere onto the pavement.

Numbness takes over as the adrenaline surrenders to the cold (and recovering groin). Even with slightly blurred vision from the fall, Cody can easily make out Anton’s figure as he slowly makes his way across the intersection. Somewhere behind him, the Italian yellings of old John patter out of earshot. Head pounding and legs rather badly injured, Cody shoves the ice cream stand’s umbrella out in front of him to shield him from Anton and the public, using this cover to readjust his pants. He feels for the tear in his khakis on the underside of his back thigh, prodding it with his fingers to reveal his bare skin. Lifting his leg up, he recognises the steel container he’s lying on to be labelled as containing dry ice.

Around the intersection, traffic has stopped as many drivers get out of their cars to see who the mysterious person that fell from the sky is. Once Anton begins making his way over to the crash site however, the onlookers stay back, fearful of the crazed man in the cape.

“You really know how to make me work for my meal,” Anton says, stopping a few feet from the ice cream stand. “Or in this case, master plan of vengeance on all those who have wronged me.”

“After all this, you still find a way to blame other people to justify production of harm,” Cody calls out from behind the umbrella.

“This has been fun Codes, but it’s time for you to go to nerd heaven,” Anton says, readying himself.

Cody emerges from the wreckage, pushing aside the umbrella and taking a few trembled steps to join Anton face to face. He meets Anton’s eye line and sees the scared teenage boy he knew staring back at him. Even now, with dozens of jocks he’s inflicted pain on, as well as the overnight hanging wedgie he put Cody in, at his core Anton just has fear. Fear of abandonment and not being cared for, and fear that no one will ever see him in his pure truth: that he never deserved the endured abuse coded as school bullying in the first place. If pity weren’t such a patronising emotion, that’d be what Cody sees in Anton.

“Last chance, Anton,” Cody says.

Anton chortles. “That’s what I should be saying with the wedgie I’m about to give you.”

In one fell swoop, Anton jabs out his arms and violently thrusts them upward. But nothing happens. The grin on his face droops as Cody raises his eyebrows.

“Cool moves,” Cody teases.

Infuriated, Anton tries again, gesturing with even more energy, but to no avail. He looks at his hands in utter perplexity, mystified by their sudden seeming inability to wedgie the fuck out of whomever he so pleases.

“You know, without the actual powers, you just look kinda stupid,” Cody says.

“I don’t understand…” Anton mutters.

“The problem is Anton, you can’t really wedgie someone who’s not wearing any underwear. Dry ice is one of the few things on earth that can cut through Gagarium, but luckily the ice cream stand you flung me into had that a plenty. When I landed the underwear dissolved.”

Cody thrusts both hands down his pants, rummaging in and around his bare junk for a few seconds before lifting them back up without even a strand of underwear fabric found. “See?”

The fury in Anton’s eyes reignite. With his whole body flung into it, he tries once more to yank and pull and jerk and heave and wedgie Cody’s underwear with all his might, but there truly are no undies left to wedgie.

“Doesn’t matter how hard you try Anton, I’m now a commando queen.”

“That’s nothing a metallic fibre sling can’t fix,” Anton snarls as he sprawls out his arms. But no metal slings leave his pockets. In a ferocious tantrum, he flicks up his coat, padding his legs’ empty pockets but finding not one sling.

“Y’know, I couldn’t help but notice you use all of your slings back in the chase,” Cody chimes in, interrupting Anton’s frenzied rage. “I think the things you’re looking for are a few blocks downtown, buddy. Which is a shame because with nothing on me to wedgie, your powers are kinda useless.”

Anton seethingly pants as the truth of Cody’s words hit him. With no slings or underwear on his victim, he’s run out of ways to channel his power.

“You might have stopped your torture for now but my powers are endless!” Anton retorts. “Besides, you’ve also run out of underwear to whip or swing around the city with so looks like we’re equal. I’m the motherfucking wedgie warlock! I took that title and I promised to show the world what I’m truly capable of.”

“The title of Wedgie Warlock is one you stole for yourself when you fulfilled the bullies’ prophecy of inflicting harm,” Cody says calmly. “A true Wedgie Warlock’ knows the bounds of their power and how to use them for good.”

“Since when did you know so much about wedgie warlocks? You denied yourself the opportunity to become one when you refused to join me and invalidated your own innate powers,” Anton spits.

“That’s where you’re wrong. In refusing to join you in your twisted cycle of pain, I detached from the weaponisation of the wedgie warlock as a schoolyard fable to taunt a bully’s victims. In doing so, I discovered a new and more truthful way of being a Wedgie Warlock. See, your power comes from the pain and the fear you instil in others. My power comes from my willingness to do what’s right for the goodness of others. That’s the distinction you lack, and that’s why you’ll never be a true Wedgie Warlock dissociated from a bully’s wet dream of a taunt.”

“You’re bluffing,” Anton says, shaking his head.

Cody smiles. In a flash, a mass of purple energy radiates out of his body, surrounding him as he levitates a foot off the ground. The energy grows as if exploding around him from all sides, collapsing into the nebula that is his body. Through the eruption of energy, a single strand of purple fabric is born, slowly weaving its way around Cody’s waist. It expands and becomes longer, encircling down his thighs as a pair of purple boxer briefs are luminously formed. The new underwear phases through Cody’s khakis, fitting snugly around his bruised and sore hips.

Seeing this, Anton steps forward and tries to manipulate Cody’s new manifested underwear, but he cannot. Made not from his enhanced powers but through his compassion for other people, his new purple underwear is untouchable to anyone except himself. With nothing left, Anton seeks his last resort.

“So what, you’re a wedgie warlock?! All because you give yourself wedgies in the name of humanity? I can do that, I can EASILY do that!” Anton yells.

Anton stomps his foot on the ground, cementing his stance. With a tremendous roar, he leans back, channelling all his might into his own navy trunks, preparing to wedgie himself in an attempt to attack Cody. Seeing the extravagant exertion and knowing Anton’s underwear is not fused with Gagarium, Cody tries to stop him but it’s too late. In a fatal swing of his arms, Anton heaves his arms forward, ripping the front of his underwear and sending shreds flying. For a second, the whole city stops and listens. The scream emitted from Anton’s lips echoes throughout the intersection, stopped only when Cody knocks him to the ground.

Cody’s breathing slows as he processes everything that’s just happened. He sits down next to his defeated foe’s unconscious body and watches the gentle inhales and exhales. A man who wanted the world to feel his pain finally stopped in his tracks. He rests his hand on Anton’s shoulder and sighs. Cody did it.

Police sirens begin wailing in the distance just as Cody gets an idea on what to do with Anton. He stands up and cautiously picks up his subdued foe. Registering his new boxer briefs in his mind, Cody shoots out his right leg hole and pulls the two of them up onto the roof of a building. Already his new super underwear feels smoother than before. With one final look at the intersection and small crowd below, Cody readjusts Anton’s body on his shoulder and swings away.

Back at the apartment, Timmy anxiously paces back and forth with his phone in hand. The television chatters on in the background, showing sports commentators as they narrate the stadium’s evacuation and clean-up. By now Jeremy’s picked up enough clues to figure out that Cody has something to do with the abnormality of the situation and that they have no idea where he is.

The front door suddenly bursts open and there stands Cody carrying Anton over his shoulder. Timmy leaps to go hug him, then taking over and carrying Anton over to the couch.

“I did it. I actually stopped Anton,” Cody says, grinning from ear to ear.

“I’m just so glad you’re not covered in piss this time,” Timmy laughs. “Did the underwear work?”

“Yeah, although I kinda got an upgrade,” Cody replies.

“Is this guy dead?” Jeremy asks as he puts a finger up to Anton’s wrist, checking for a pulse.

“He’s unconscious for the time being, but I need to hurry,” Cody says, walking over to the couch and aligning Anton’s body so that he’s flat and streamlined. “After I defeated him it I realised that there’s nothing stopping him from just waking up tomorrow and trying this world-revenge-on-jock thing all over again. There has to be a way to neutralise his powers so he’s no more capable of giving painful wedgies than the next guy. And then it hit me: With my powers, I might be able to extract the Gagarium particles inside him and nullify his connection to the source.”

“That sounds really dangerous. Do you know if it’ll work?” Timmy asks.

“I have to try, or else everything we’ve done will have been for nothing,” Cody replies. “Plus they did it on Legend of Korra and it worked, so.”

“That’s a kid’s show…” Jeremy begins to say, but Cody shushes him. With all his focus, he narrows in on the Gagarium inside Anton’s body. Once he’s able to visualise it all in his mind’s eye, he gently flows his hands, beginning the process of coaxing the material out of the body. Slowly but surely, he moves his hands across to where Anton’s head is, pulling the Gagarium along with him. Sure enough, after a few seconds, Anton’s mouth opens and a metallic violet liquid – Gagarium in its raw form – floats out of him. Timmy catches it all in a jar from the kitchen.

With the Gagarium eliminated from Anton’s bloodstream, the three of them sit in silence for a moment, taking everything in. The peril Anton posed has been subdued, and without his powers they can expect things to pretty much go back to normal. Well, normal with a few extra telekinesis powers on Cody’s end.

“That’s some weird shit dude,” Jeremy says breaking the silence.

Cody decides to anonymously drop Anton off at a hospital an hour or two away from the CBD. Dressed now in regular clothes, the former threat to the city of Melbourne is unrecognisable at least for the moment. Cody takes Anton to the foyer of the hospital, telling staff he found the unconscious body along the side of the road. Thankfully they take him in to test his vitals.

“You think he’s done terrorising the world?” Timmy asks as he joins Cody in the foyer.

“For now, yes,” Cody answers. “Hopefully with his powers gone and a little therapy, he’ll finally move on and be able to live a somewhat regular life.”

A few weeks later, the two best friends stand amongst a crowd of people, all gathered to see Timmy’s premier exhibition. Inspired by the mysterious ‘wedgie boy’ who’s taken over local news coverage and gone semi-viral on social media for his swinging-throughout-the-city shenanigans, Timmy created a whole series dedicated to the wedgie superhero. Mannequins with bedazzled tighty whities and fashionable atomic wedgie Grace Jones-esque hoods line the art instalment, wowing the critics and the public. Cody’s favourite is a mannequin dressed in gothic vampire black and red couture holding a front wedgie up to it’s mouth.

“Y’know I always knew I was your muse,” Cody, who’s donned an incognito hoodie, cap and sunnies, tells Timmy.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Timmy chuckles.

After the successful first day of the exhibition, the two make their way to the MCG, where they meet up with Jeremy for the rescheduled match between the Cats and the Tigers. Packs of people attend the massive event, cheering as the football players are able to give their all unhindered by any super villain’s mass revenge plans. Having snagged three tickets to the game, the three of them sit at the back row, watching the match unfold. Even Timmy starts to get invested into the game, cheering and hurrah-ing with his cousin, but Cody’s not paying attention to the game itself. He’s here for another reason.

After the match (and the Cats beat the Tigers), Cody heads to the player changing and dressing rooms. He flashes his VIP lanyard to a security guard, who in turn lets him into a large lounge room for the athletes to relax in before and after games. Already there’s a few family members and other VIP guests who are celebrating the Cats’ win with the players. Scanning the room, Cody eventually spots a shirtless Darren, jogging over.

“Cody! You made it,” Darren says, hugging Cody.

“Yeah of course!” Cody says, hiding his blush in the nape of Darren’s bare neck. “Dude congrats, you guys killed it out there. The seats you got us were amazing, Timmy’s cousin was absolutely ecstatic when we got here.”

“It’s the least I can do for, y’know… you saving all of us,” Darren leans in, whispering the last bit into Cody’s ear.

Cody giggles. “Hey, wanna get outta here for a bit?”

Darren grins. “I would love nothing more. Where you have in mind?”

Five minutes later, Cody’s slinging through the city via telekinetic underwear with Darren in his arms holding on for his life. Cody looks down to see Darren’s face balled up in terror, barely glancing down at the ground hurtling past them below.

“When you said go out I didn’t think you meant this!” Darren shouts.

Cody eventually makes his way to Fitzroy Gardens, setting the two of them back on the ground. Pale from the impromptu trip, pink relief floods back into Darren’s face as he holds his spinning head in his hands. Cody laughs, embracing him in a hug and stroking his back gently.

“How do you not puke doing that?” Darren asks.

“Well, I’ve only really done it one other time, and the adrenaline of stopping someone from causing mass harm kinda got me through it. I think I’m getting used to the feeling though,” Cody admits, patting his hips.

Darren grins, taking a few steps closer so that they’re just inches apart. He looks down at the purple underwear sticking out of Cody’s jeans, grasping the right leghole and giving it a few gentle tugs. A nervous exhale escapes Cody’s lips, but before he can say anything Darren leans in and kisses him. Cody melts into Darren’s mouth, pulling him closer as the lips of two long-time friends acquaint for the first time. Even as they kiss, Darren keeps one hand along Cody’s jaw and one shyly tugging away at his boxer briefs.

“You enjoying that wedgie?” Darren whispers into Cody’s ear.

“Shut up and pull harder,” Cody murmurs, pulling Darren closer.

After a minute of this heaven, Darren pulls back, grinning stupidly in glee. Cody blushes, unable to take in his crush’s exhilarated unwavering eye contact.

“I can’t believe I just kissed THE Wedgie Warlock,” Darren finally says.

Cody theatrically rolls his eyes. “Say that again and I’ll wedgie you with my mind.”

“Whatever you say bro.”

Following lots more making out, Cody eventually walks Darren back to the stadium for his team’s post-match celebrations, but not before the two plan a proper date for the coming week. Giddy from finally kissing his five-year crush (and honestly a little from the gentle wedgie flossing too), Cody swings back home to tell Timmy all about this success. He lands on the apartment’s roof, underwear snapping back in place. He races down the stairs and inserts his key to their apartment’s lock, opening it.

“Timmy, you’ll never guess what happened!” Cody calls out, walking through the foyer and past the kitchen.

When he reaches the living room though, it’s not Timmy or Jeremy who greets him, but a man in a red hoodie with short curled black hair. He appears to be in his early twenties like Cody, and has a lean figure. He looks up, smiling when Cody enters.

“Cody Thompson?” He asks.

“Yeah— who are you?” Cody hesitantly asks.

“I’m Jordie. I saw what you were able to accomplish at the MCG using wedgie telekinesis and I was really impressed. I think you’d make a valuable asset to the team.”

“Thank you— Uh what team?” Cody replies.

“The Wedgie Warlock is not the only superhero in this city,” Jordie says, standing up and walking over. “Cody, I was hoping I could take a few minutes of your time to discuss The Wedgie Heroes Initiative.”

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Wedgie Warlock: Chapter 4

Rattling on the fence jolts Cody awake. It’s light out and he can make out the sounds of weekend soccer practice on the oval, which mostly just comprise of lots of shouting and loud grunting. Luckily a fairly large tree shields him from public embarrassment, but not from the janitor currently staring up at him with the most confused expression on their face.

“You need help sir?” The janitor asks.

“Yep,” Cody croaks.

With the help of a stepladder, the janitor is able to hook Cody off the fence and he falls to the ground on his ass. Thankfully the numbness of his groin ensures he doesn’t take too bad a hit, and he’s able to stand up, albeit with a couple wobbles. The janitor nods and continues on their cleaning trip round the fence’s perimeter, leaving the wedgie victim standing there trying to muster any feeling he can back into his body.

For someone with a secret wedgie fetish, a forced hanging wedgie overnight definitely was almost all pain and no pleasure. It’s odd because there is a part of him that in the past had fantasised about being strung up by his undies and left to hang by the schoolyard bully all night. This deep, demonic desire within him that had craved pain and humiliation got just that, except it wasn’t enjoyable in the slightest. A few hours in, his body had become numb, not helped by the freezing cold. At one point in the middle of the night, he was pretty sure a bird came and perched on him, pecking at his right ear a little. By then though, it was hard to know what was real and what was just a manifestation of his exhausted mind.

The trip home isn’t too bad. The faint piss stains around his crotch draw a few perturbed stares on the train, but he’s too numb to notice. He goes to get his phone to call Timmy, but finding his pockets empty, remembers dropping it in the toilet the night before. Sigh. Truthfully though, he doesn’t even know what he’d tell his best friend. That he just got the worst wedgie of his life but that, in some weird twisted way, he kind of deserved it? The thing is, the more time that passed that night and the more painful the wedgie got, all he could think about was how this was exactly how Anton had felt, and how if Cody had been able to prevent it in the first place, neither of them would’ve had to endure such an agonising hanging wedgie. Anton had trusted Cody, only for him to abandon him at such a critical moment. Any pain or abandonment or humiliation he felt just made him empathise with Anton more.

Cody eventually reaches the apartment, and as he unlocks the front door and enters, a flurry of footsteps comes to greet him, followed by:

“WHEW you STINK Cody!” Timmy exclaims.

He still hugs him though, welcoming the first bit of warmth Cody’s felt in forever. After a quick shower and a fresh set of clothes, Cody walks out to the living room where Timmy awaits with two mugs of tea.

“I should’ve come looking for you,” Timmy admits, Cody’s overnight disappearance obviously weighing heavily on his mind.

“No dude it’s ok,” Cody replies.

“It’s just… actually after you left for the bathroom, Martha confronted me about her dress from formal night and she said some pretty nasty stuff. She said I’d never make it as a designer and that nobody would trust a gay Thai boy to make anything other than cheap, low quality trash. So I just left and came back home.”

“Oh Timmy,” Cody says. Coming back to their casually racist and homophobic school environment for the first time in five years can’t have been easy. “I’m really sorry.”

“I just thought that with my design degree under my belt and my first exhibition coming up, people would actually respect me,” Timmy says. “That I would finally earn their respect.”

“Timmy, you gotta know that you are an incredible designer,” Cody says, taking Timmy’s hands in his. “The best I’ve ever seen. People like Martha have had their whole lives handed to them and thanks to La Chique, they’re empowered to be the worst, ugliest versions of themselves. You don’t need to earn their respect because it isn’t theirs to give. Don’t let irrelevant people tell you your own worth, yeah?”

The two share a smile that’s quickly followed by a hug. Timmy starts theatrically dabbing his eyes with an imaginary tissue, but when Cody hands him the actual tissue box he softens, not letting humour cover up this moment of vulnerability.

“Thanks Cody,” Timmy finally says. “I mean I still don’t know what I’m gonna do for this exhibition, but I’ll figure it out.”

“You will,” Cody reassures. “You absolutely will.”

“Ok now let’s talk about why you showed up here covered in your own piss,” Timmy says, shifting his weight and now staring right at Cody.

“Oh… Are you sure you don’t wanna talk more about how Martha made you feel? Maybe come up with a revenge plan together? You love revenge plans—”

“Cody,” Timmy says sternly, “what happened? I saw you talking with Darren so I thought maybe you two finally got together and were like doing it in the parking lot, but then you weren’t answering my texts and I started to worry.”

“Firstly nothing really happened between Darren and I. Or, well…” Cody sighs. “Ok confession cam: I think he was gonna ask me out but in true me fashion, I ruined the moment.”

“That’s huge!” Timmy beams.

“Yeah but he didn’t end up doing it, and I’m not even sure if he was gonna ask me out. I tried to rectify it but I think the moment had passed and he didn’t wanna risk being vulnerable again so he just didn’t ask again.”

“Aw sorry man,” Timmy says, rubbing his back in sympathy. “Maybe you’ll have another moment together?”

“I doubt it,” he replies. “Anyway it’s fine, nothing happened, let’s just… not talk about it.” He pauses, knowing what’s about to come next but putting it off for as long as he can. “Ok so… I have to tell you a secret.”

Cody nervously exhales, turning away for a brief moment. When he looks back, his friend is patiently waiting, the most welcoming of smiles on his face. Cody takes a deep breath.

“Ever since I could remember, I’ve had an interest… or, not just an interest, a fetish… a w— a… a wedgie fetish.”

Looking down, Cody expects to hear the roar of Timmy’s usual laughter. Instead, all he hears is: “A wedgie fetish?”

“Yeah,” Cody says, now looking up to meet Timmy’s eyes, no judgement to be found in them.

“Ok,” Timmy replies after a couple seconds to think.

“You don’t think it’s weird?” Cody asks.

“Actually I think it’s one of the more normal things about you.”

Cody breaks into a slight grin. “I dunno, I guess I just thought… I’ve been holding that in for the longest time, I thought people would judge me.”

“I think people will find a reason to judge either way,” Timmy says. “But I don’t think a wedgie fetish is any more judgement-worthy than any other sexual preference.”

There’s a brief silence as Cody takes in his friend’s reassurance. He actually told his secret to someone. Younger him would be so proud of this, and as if his best friend in the whole world wouldn’t be anything but supportive.

“Wait so does that mean that really big hanging wedgie Jono gave you that one time… was that on purpose?” Timmy asks.

“No that was not consensual at all and very, very painful. It’s funny you bring that up though because I have more to tell you.”

Cody had told Timmy the basics of what happened on the last day of school (and of course there was video evidence of it going around everyone’s social media) , but never divulged the details of the confrontation. In fact he’d never told him of the Gagarium underwear, him and Anton’s plans or the wedgies the two got the day before. But if secret wedgie fetish is on the table, Cody might as well reveal it all.

“I saw Jono last night.”

“He didn’t—” Timmy begins.

“No, he didn’t, actually he and his two henchmen dweebs had already kinda been taken care of hanging wedgie-wise.”

Timmy’s confused face prompts Cody to continue.

“I saw Anton and a lot of wild stuff happened last night, but essentially he’s hell-bent on getting revenge on every jock ever by telekinetically giving them all excruciating hanging wedgies with unbreakable underwear and also I have superpowers.”

“I—”

“That doesn’t clear things up does it? Your face is telling me that doesn’t clear things up, oh shit oh fuck.”

Cody stands up and begins pacing, unable to vocalise the jumble of thoughts currently bouncing all around his brain. How can he possibly explain to Timmy what he’s still in the middle of processing and is not even sure he believes himself? In fact, the only thing stopping Cody from believing last night was just a bad trip and that his drink at the reunion was spiked with some shrooms or something is that his ass hurts like hell – actually no, not hell, where hell goes to die.

“I— wait, gimme a sec and I’ll show you.”

Cody bolts to his room, retrieving a regular pair of navy blue briefs from his closet. When he returns to show Timmy his powers however, he’s got his phone out and is playing a video, his face displaying true horror.

“Multiple reports have come in from all around the city of mysterious wedgie incidents, in which citizens have been suspended from lamp posts, fences, what have you – and they can’t get down,” the news report from his phone says.

Cody walks up to Timmy and rests his head on his shoulder, peering at his phone screen playing the Instagram news video.

“As you can see on the footage here,” the reporter continues, “one man in his mid-20s was seen flying up out of his apartment window by his underwear and was hung up on the top of the traffic light below his house. An investigation is underway but police have no idea who or what is causing these incidents.”

Timmy places his phone down on the table and peers up at Cody. The gears of his brain churn over and he goes to speak, yet no words come out, just a very long “erm…” as his frown slowly scales further and further down his face.

“Surely that was just an unrelated news report about some really, like really strong cyclone winds??” Timmy asks.

“That’s him!” Cody exclaims. “Anton is running around the city torturing innocent people by their very own underwear.”

“But the footage didn’t even show anyone giving the wedgies, they were just happening as if—”

“As if someone’s moving the underwear with their mind,” Cody interrupts.

Seeing the confusion still evident on his best friend’s face, he places forward his open palm with the navy blue briefs and takes a deep breath. He visualises the fabric levitating upward and instantly he feels the cool silky touch of the briefs lift up from his hand. Slowly the undies are raised higher and higher, inverting and flipping over as he hones this new muscle in his mind. He glances back down at Timmy who’s transfixed by the floating briefs. After a few seconds, he stands up and yanks them down, feeling the fabric for himself.

“It’s magic,” Timmy murmurs in amazement.

“It is in a way, I suppose. I mean, there is a scientific explanation which is that the Gagarium underwear, which was the underwear Anton and I were wearing that day, had unstable chemical properties that fused with my asshole and thus my bloodstream, giving me an enhanced telekinetic understanding of underwear fabric but uh… yeah magic.”

“So just to summarise because God do I need a summary— both you and Anton got wedgie superpowers and now Anton’s terrorising the city?” Timmy asks.

“Yes!” Cody exclaims.

“Well you’ve gotta go stop him,” Timmy says.

The excitement at his best friend comprehending the situation dissipates, leaving only the anxiety and worry that’s still left in his body.

“Um… yeah. Sure,” Cody says, sitting back down. “Are you sure you understand it all? I mean, we can just go back to you being shocked and needing several moments to take it all in.”

“You are going to stop him, right?” Timmy asks, bypassing his bait. When he doesn’t respond, he locks their hands, giving a comforting squeeze. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

Cody sighs, closing his eyes. “It’s just… We both got these pretty cool powers, but I don’t want to use mine to wedgie other people. Not even Anton. I’ve seen and felt firsthand the kind of pain this power can cause and I want no part in it. But if I do nothing while countless people are tortured, what does that say about me? During our fight, Anton called me a coward for not sticking up for him and the other victims of bullying at our school. I tried, I tried really hard but I failed, and now because I failed more people are gonna face the same fate.”

Timmy bends down to give him a hug. “You are not responsible for Anton’s pain.” He strokes the back of his head and gently sits beside him. “Anton wasn’t the only one who received horrendous bullying that day, you did too! You were able to get out and save yourself, but if you’d have stayed to help him down you would’ve only got put back up on that fence.”

“But I didn’t go back for him,” Cody says, tearing up a little.

“Yeah… Yeah that’s true. But present day Cody would’ve gone back for him the second Jono and the boys had left right?”

“In a heartbeat.”

“Codes, Jono is the one to blame for Anton’s pain, not you. Jono. You were dealing with your own fear that prevented you from saving Anton because in that moment you weren’t able to. We both know you would’ve saved Anton if you’d had the chance. Don’t blame yourself for not being able to stop something you yourself were threatened with, and very narrowly escaped.”

The weight that Cody had been holding onto all this time is finally able to be let go, evaporating from the deepest pits of his guilt. The most tender warmth replaces it, as if all this time he was in the way of his own radiance. He’s not to blame for Anton’s suffering, he never was. Jono and the twins inflicted that pain, and it was one that was shared. Cody couldn’t save Anton, but he saved himself.

“Thank you Timmy. You always know what to say.”

The two share one more hug, then Timmy fetches his phone to check for any news updates concerning Anton’s current whereabouts.

“You might still have that chance,” Timmy says as he sits back down. “To save the people he’s hurting, and to also save him.” Cody nods in agreement to this. “Anton’s intent on inflicting his pain on everyone else. You might just have the power to stop him, but you don’t want to wedgie other people… I don’t know what we’re gonna do.”

Cody thinks back to his fight with Anton on the oval, and the faltering helplessness he felt in wanting to fight back but not wanting to participate in Anton’s twisted methods. It was like he was in a boxing match but his hands were tied behind his back and he could only use his feet. No matter what he did, Anton was always one step ahead, forcing him to always be on the defence. In fact, outside of self-defence, the only strike he successfully made was—

He jolts up, sending his chair scraping back. For a second he pauses as the idea still downloads into his brain, but then he jets to the kitchen to fetch the whiteboard off their fridge, erasing the week planner that had been drawn on and eliciting a “the week isn’t over yet!” from Timmy. He quickly catches on though, and transfers the mugs onto the kitchen counter, clearing the table for Cody as he begins doodling furiously with the purple whiteboard marker. A few seconds later, he stands back, revealing a very rough stick figure drawing of him in a hanging shoulder wedgie above the city.

“Its… you in a hanging wedgie?” Timmy says, his voice laced with hesitation.

“During my fight with Anton, there was a moment where he telekinetically pulled me forward to him and I took control of my own underwear, using it to smack him to the ground. I was able to still put up a fight but without using his own underwear against him and therefore painfully violating his genitals. What if the way I use my powers is by manipulating my own underwear? I’d be able to use it as a whip, or even a lasso maybe. I bet I could even use it to swing my way through the city, hooking each side to, like, building ledges, traffic lights, poles and stuff.”

“Whoa hang on, wouldn’t that be incredibly painful?” Timmy asks.

“That overnight hanging wedgie might not have been good for much, but I practically have balls of steel now. I can take it,” Cody replies.

“And you’d be willing to do this to yourself? Sling yourself around the city by your own underwear?”

“Absolutely.”

Timmy picks up the whiteboard, analysing the picture as he chews on the lid of one of the whiteboard markers. He begins annotating it in red marker, speedily fleshing out the mechanics of Cody’s idea. He faintly chuckles as if relishing the design challenge this has now presented him with.

“Do you still have that pair of Gagarium underwear from 5 years ago?” Timmy asks.

“Sure do.”

“Then we’re gonna have to get you suited up and ready for the quickest test-run in the history of test-runs,” Timmy says.

By the time Cody’s fetched his Gagarium underwear from the back of his closet, Timmy’s already set up in his sewing room. He immediately begins work, leaving Cody to begin brainstorming more uses for his wedgie telekinesis that centre his own underwear.

“Ok so, I’ve got a few more ideas,” Cody says when checking in with Timmy an hour later. “In addition to the wedgie whip, wedgie lasso and wedgie slinging or levitation, I’ve also come up with projectile briefs that I can telekinesis from my pants pockets and onto enemies, covering their face and temporarily obscuring their vision. I’ll need to work on my aim but it should theoretically work. How’s it going in here?”

Timmy beckons for him to come take a closer look, as he ever so diligently runs fabric through his sewing machine, carefully tilting it so it stitches up perfectly.

“It’s almost done,” Timmy says through gritted teeth, his eyes not leaving the sewing machine. “Combining your Gagarium underwear with the largest pair of spandex boxerbriefs from the Target down the road wasn’t easy, but I think I’ve just managed to get the perfect balance of durability and stretchiness.”

With a final few clicks of the sewing machine, Timmy switches it off and sighs with relief. He picks up the enormous boxerbriefs and shows it off to Cody.

“Certainly the most unusual thing I’ve ever had to make, but it might just be my favourite,” Timmy beams.

Cody snags the newly reinforced underwear and heads to the bathroom to change. Timmy begins to clean up the excess of fabric in the sewing room, coming upon a few leftover scraps of Gagarium. He safely tucks them away in a spare storage box, shelving them in case of future use. Cody returns sporting his new boxerbriefs that are so large the leg holes hang down to his ankles on either side.

“Looks like half the work of having wedgie powers is tucking these in before each fight,” Cody smirks.

The two start rearranging the living area to give them room to practice Cody’s new telekinesis ideas. They push the couch and dining table back, and safely carry their TV to Timmy’s bedroom, where they also retrieve two large yoga mats to place on the living room floor.

“Ok so attack number one: the wedgie whip,” Timmy says with a notebook and pen in hand. “Focus on how far you can extend your underwear and how quickly you can engage a whipping motion.”

Cody consolidates his stance and locks his eyes onto an imaginary target in the space in front of him a few feet away. The repurposed Gagarium underwear that falls loosely around his nether regions calls to him, seducing his mind and awakening his telekinetic abilities. In one swift move, he lashes his right arm out, his underwear’s right leg hole following suit in a fast whipping motion. After basking in the success of his first self-wedgie whip for a few seconds, he recalls the underwear back into his pants.

“Nice,” Timmy says, scribbling in his notebook. “Try coming in from a few different angles so it’s not just straight-on.”

Cody does just that, applying his underwear to hit the same imaginary target but from different angles, arching in and around from the right, and then from the left several times. With each attempt, his aim gets increasingly sharper, transforming from a mere hit to a proper whip. Once this has been practiced thoroughly, Cody moves onto the next technique: the wedgie lasso.

“The lasso has all the speed and precision of the whip, but instead of hitting your target you need to encase it within the leg hole,” Timmy says as he props their coat stand right where the first imaginary target was.

Taking a deep breath, Cody flicks his wrist up, shooting the leg hole up to the ceiling. He then slams his arm down, bringing the fabric down but just missing the coat stand, causing the stretched out underwear to land right next to it. With words of encouragement from Timmy (“You can slay this, I know you can!”), he reels it back in and goes for a second shot, this time nailing it. He tightens his grasp on the coat stand and lifts it up with his telekinesis, levitating it for a brief moment before setting it back down.

“How’s it feeling so far?” Timmy asks as he puts away the coat stand.

“Certainly nowhere near metal sling hanging wedgie levels of pain, that’s for sure,” Cody replies.

“Well I think it’s time for your swinging from buildings idea, so I’ll check back in with you on that.”

The two take the elevator to the roof of their apartment building. Thankfully they’re the only ones up there, prompting Timmy to begin the set-up as Cody finds the best spot to practice his hanging wedgie levitation idea. He settles on a built-in ladder that connects this part of the roof to an elevated area with solar panels.

“I’m thinking the safety rails on each side of this ladder will be good to hook the leg holes onto,” Cody calls out to Timmy, who in turn gives him a thumbs-up.

Cody never thought he’d be giving himself a hanging wedgie, not after having two separate incidents both involving painful and humiliating hanging wedgies. But being able to fly through the city using his underwear would provide him with access to all kinds of new moves, and would help him move around much faster.

From the bottom of the ladder, Cody slowly pulls up on both leg hole sides with his mind. The familiar feeling that isn’t completely unwelcome deepens as the underwear dives up his crack, feeling simultaneously like someone’s just shoved a chilli up his ass and someone’s giving him the best anus massage of his life. His feet leave the ground and both leg holes hook onto safety rail rungs about halfway up the ladder. And so he dangles.

After a few seconds to re-centre his mind on the task, Cody isolates the right leg hole and carefully unhooks it, raising it a couple rungs and then hooking it down. Despite the higher ground his right leg hole has, his body remains straight like a yo-yo intent on stabilising itself. He then does the same with the left leg hole, hoisting his left side up so that now his left side is higher than the right. He continues this pattern, tightening his pace with each movement as he slowly but surely begins to haul himself up the ladder using his telekinetic abilities. Once he reaches the top of the ladder, he pulls himself out of the wedgie and up onto the elevated roof, lying down as he catches his breath.

“That was very impressive,” Timmy says, walking over. “Looks like your theory is correct.”

“On the small scale, yes,” Cody says through pants. “I have no idea if I’ll actually be able to swing my way around the city though, and it’s not really like I can just test-run that so much as just do it.”

“At least the Gagarium properties I extracted and fused with the spandex are working, and they can hold your weight. Was there any pain?”

“A little, but it’s bearable,” Cody says closing his eyes, letting the late afternoon sun bask over him. “I can feel it happening, and when it goes in real deep there’s a small burning sensation, but as we both know I don’t exactly mind that. There’s no tremendous pain though, at least not any more.”

By now Timmy’s made his way up the ladder and lies down beside Cody. The two stare up at the setting sun with the weight of what’s to come pressing on both their minds.

“I think it’s really brave what you’re doing,” Timmy says gently. “Conquering your fears and your trauma and using it to help people… not everyone can have courage like that, with or without powers.”

“Thanks,” Cody smiles weakly. “I guess it just feels like the natural thing to do, y’know. It’s the right thing to do. It’s a shame we still don’t even know where Anton’ll show up next.”

“He’s already targeted jocks and frat boys from all the university campuses in the city, who knows where he’s gonna go next.”

“At our encounter yesterday, he made it seem like he was gonna do something big. Show the world his power sorta thing. All this – wedgie-ing individual jocks, that just feels trivial.”

The two lie there for a bit, the bustle of the surrounding city filling in the silence that has fallen between them. This time yesterday, they were getting ready for the high school reunion, laughing their asses off in the Uber over. The past 24 hours have transported them into almost a completely different world, one where superpowers exist and more importantly, super villains bent on inflicting global pain have to be stopped. Yet sitting here next to his best friend, Cody’s reminded of just how little has changed. Timmy still has his back no matter what and he’s still the same compassionate, courageous Cody.

“I think I’ll just wait for the next news report to come in and try to intercept him there,” Cody sighs. “Anyway, is Jeremy still coming over tonight?”

“Yeah but I can cancel if you need any help.”

“Nah I’ve got it covered. It’s your cousin’s birthday and he’s been looking forward to watching the game with you.”

“Alright, but here,” Timmy says, handing him a small flip phone. “You take the spare phone and if anything happens you call, yeah? I’ll have my phone next to me the whole time.”

“Thanks, but don’t forget to have fun,” Cody says.

“Yeah and you don’t forget to focus on Anton and not the throbbing wedgies you’ll be giving yourself,” Timmy teases.

“Oh my god,” Cody laughs.

“Melbourne better watch out for Super Wedgie Boy!”

Cody playfully gives him a little shove and the two chuckle. Timmy checks his phone again but there hasn’t been an update on Anton for over an hour now.

“It’s gonna be a great match actually,” Timmy says.

“Oh yeah?”

“I do really wish we hadn’t missed out on getting tickets though. You know I’m not really one for footie but Jeremy says apparently there’s nothing better than seeing all those footy players run on the field in-person. I mean I’m not gonna say no to 3 hours of hot sweaty jocks running around. It’s also the most anticipated match of the season supposedly, so the excitement will just be through the roof and—”

Cody bolts up, mouth agape. “The football match tonight! Anton’s going to be at the stadium!”

“What?”

“Anton wants revenge on all jock types, and he wants an audience to witness his reclaiming of power. What better place to do so than the most highly-anticipated televised football match of the year! It’s time.”

“Just wait one second,” Timmy says, scaling down the ladder and retrieving two new 3-packs of white briefs. “Three are medium, and the other three are XXXL. These should work perfectly for your projectile briefs.”

Cody grins, placing them in his pockets. “Thank you.”

“Go get him, Codes.”

Without a second thought, Cody sends out his right leg hole and secures it on a pole on the next building’s roof, jumping off the side of their apartment building and swinging down below. Timmy waits anxiously for his best friend to swing back up.

Not yet.

Not yet.

Not yet.

Not yet.

And he does, soaring through the air and flinging his left leg hole onto the edge of another building. Cody looks back, the image of Timmy pumping his fist in elation getting smaller and smaller as he makes his way toward the stadium.

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Wedgie Warlock: Chapter 3

Cody makes to walk up and give Anton a hug, but reconsiders as the initial relief of seeing his former friend wears off. It’s quickly replaced with an uncomfortable dread as his brain begins to process what Anton being here now means: that he was the one who gave Jono and the twins that wedgie, and that he purposefully led Cody on a chase to the oval.

“Seriously… Anton, what are you doing here?” Cody asks, this time laced with caution.

“It’s our high school reunion, isn’t it?” says Anton plainly.

“Yes, it is— or, well…” Cody stammers, “you never showed up to graduation, so I don’t know if—”

“Gee wonder why that was,” Anton says, clicking his tongue.

Cody tries to respond, but finds he doesn’t know what to say. In this moment of silence, he takes in Anton’s all-black look, but instead of an ironic t-shirt, a jacket and torn skinny jeans, it’s now a shirt, a full-on cape and… well, still torn-skinny jeans. Amongst all the theatrics, he wonders if the friend he once knew is still inside.

“Well… Okay look, I was actually hoping I’d run into you tonight… That day I left you after school – I’ve always felt so guilty about that, but I— I panicked, and Jono and the twins were coming, and I just didn’t know what to do!” Cody sighs, the weight of what he’s wanted to say for five years finally beginning to leave his chest. “But Anton I am so, so sorry for leaving you.”

“Cody… I hung there on that fence for 15 hours. I was in agonising pain the entire night, including when it bucketed down rain at one point. It wasn’t until the weekend soccer coach came in to prep for the next morning’s games did I finally get let down.”

The wind’s knocked out of Cody’s chest. The worst is confirmed: Cody did in fact abandon Anton that night. The guilt that just dissipated within him comes hurtling back into the pit in his stomach. He goes to say something, but nothing he can say can make up for what he’s just learnt.

“So yes, I skipped graduation,” Anton continues, beginning to slowly circle Cody like prey. “Ended up dropping out actually because I’d been flunking all my classes. What was a couple days of schoolyard bullying for you was months of non-stop harassment for me. You might’ve been on the lower levels, but you weren’t a Level 1, Cody. You have no clue the hell I went through. I wasn’t sleeping, I couldn’t even turn the corner in the hallway without getting major anxiety and always expecting them to be there… It was a living nightmare.”

“I’m sorry,” Cody musters after a few seconds. “Anton, if I had known—”

“You did, Cody. You did.”

“I thought about coming back for you, I really, truly did. But I figured that if I could naturally rip down, then you would too, but then when you weren’t at graduation—”

“Rip down?” Anton repeats. “Gagarium underwear doesn’t just rip, Cody.”

“Y— Yeah, I thought that too, but then mine did, and y’know – can’t’ve been 100% rip-proof after all huh.”

Anton stops circling Cody, now staring him directly in the eyes. “Gagarium is made with little bits of metallic fibres in it – it does not simply rip. You were supposed to be up there with me for 15 hours, and yet you somehow tore the untearable. Haven’t you ever wondered how that can be?”

Cody stands there as the full command of Anton’s attention exposes every inch of his guilty conscious. With nothing else to distract or redirect Cody’s mind, the little voice in the back of his head that had always wondered how he’d been able to tear down finally takes centre-stage. He should not have been able to rip down and escape the peril of that day – in fact he couldn’t have. The news report from the other day proved that he’d need a dry ice laser to be able to split the material in two. Yet, for some reason, Cody’s Gagarium underwear had managed to tear on its own.

“I don’t… I don’t know how I did that,” Cody says softly, slightly shaking his head in disbelief.

“You really have no clue?” Anton retorts, taken aback. When Cody’s speechless face is all the reply, the tiniest smirk curls around Anton’s lips.

“You know, you get a lot of time to contemplate when you’ve flunked out of school and become the family shame, and nobody, not even your own parents, cares about you. And that’s all I did for five years – contemplate that one memory of you somehow ripping down from that impossible hanging wedgie. For months it taunted me, chased me down every corner of my mind and drove me into the pits of insanity… that is until the idea hit me. An idea so impossible that I knew there was no option but for it to be true. But I needed to prove it for myself, so I got evidence.

“I enrolled myself into a TAFE course on chemistry, using the equipment access I had there to begin my experiments. I spent many long nights in the lab analysing my own still intact Gagarium underwear. And sure, eventually I was expelled because I wasn’t actually showing up to any classes— but oh, Cody, what I discovered was extraordinary. See, that day you weren’t just given any old hanging wedgie. You were given the most painful and humiliating public wedgie that school had ever seen, and you were given it whilst wearing Gagarium underwear.

“You wanna know why Gagarium is so quickly becoming an illegal material? It’s toxic, Cody. When exposed to the human bloodstream, the ramifications are unimaginable. Any normal human being in a situation where they’re exposed to the full raw destructive power of Gagarium is dead within the hour, but not you. Somehow the pain and the embarrassment and the degradation and your determination kept you alive; and more than that, gave you the power to tear free. You were given so traumatic a hanging wedgie that instead of poisoning your bloodstream, it merged with it, and suddenly the impossible becomes the only plausible explanation: You tore the underwear with your mind, that’s how you escaped.”

Cody stands there speechless, desperately searching Anton’s eyes for some clarity or for at least something to make sense, but it’s no use. This definitely sounds like the ravings of someone who hasn’t had a friend to talk to for five years and is just now seeing the outside world. Sure, Gagarium is a dangerous synthetic material created in a laboratory by a disgraced scientist, but ripping underwear with your mind? What nerd even dreams up that shit?

“Anton, what you’re talking about, it’s…” Cody says, looking for the right words. “You’re describing underwear telekinesis. That’s— that’s not real, I can’t do that.”

“You don’t believe me?” Anton mockingly chuckles. “Not even if I do this?”

The back waistband of Cody’s boxer briefs are instantaneously yanked out from his khaki pants and up into the air. A sharp pain invites its way into Cody’s groin, a familiar and unrelenting pain that he’s tried so hard to block out of his mind. He just has time to notice Anton flick his hand to the left before, as if in direct response Cody’s waistband follows, dragging his helpless body across the oval’s fake grass. This would absolutely be one of his biggest fantasies if only he’d have been mentally prepared for it or, y’know, consented to it. Once hauled all the way to the edge of the oval, Cody’s underwear is now pulled upwards, forcing him off the ground as the waistband hooks itself onto the fence.

“Now if memory serves me correct, there were two of us hanging there that day, weren’t there Cody?”

Anton slithers his way over to where he’s just telekinetically hung Cody up on the fence. He marvels at his own hands’ doing. “Pretty neat, huh? That took me months to perfect, including countless teddy bears in oversized underwear as well as some… shall we say, more alive test subjects.”

“This isn’t real,” Cody says through gritted teeth.

“Oh but it is. Gagarium fusing with both of our blood has gifted us with the ability to telekinetically connect with and control underwear.”

“Maybe for you, but I don’t have any such powers.”

With the flick of Anton’s wrist, Cody’s waistband unhooks from the fence, only to be tugged even higher, torturously elevating Cody higher up the fence, where he is now hung. The crushing merging of Cody’s balls and asshole is all he can think about.

“Admit it, Cody. You have wedgie powers.”

“No.”

“Gagarium altered your DNA—”

“No!”

“And on that fateful day, you successfully used wedgie telekinesis to escape.”

“NO!”

Cody yells, thrusting his arms to his inner chest as if in foetal position. In an instant, the underwear that was fastened onto the wired fence is unhooked, retracting to its normal position safely inside Cody’s pants. With nothing suspending him in the air any more, he falls but manages to land on all-fours on the ground seemingly unharmed.

“So the wedgie nerd has come out to play,” Anton chuckles.

Cody sits up, looking between his own two hands in bewilderment. He thrusts his right hand down the back of his pants, feeling his underwear for any tears, but there are none: it’s fully intact. There’s a madness to what Anton’s saying, and yet Cody managed to get down from a hanging wedgie on his own without a single tear. He’s done the impossible.

Anton walks on over and extends his hand, but Cody bats it away.

“I didn’t come here to fight with you,” Anton smirks.

“Then what do you want?” Cody spits out.

“Gee, you give one hanging wedgie to prove a point and suddenly you’re the bad guy. Look, Cody,” Anton says as he kneels down to get on Cody’s level. “I need your help.”

“My help? For what? You seemed to handle three buff guys at once back there, I think you’re doing fine.”

Anton beams, still proud of his work back in the bathroom. “Cody, I’ve been mastering and learning about this power for the past five years. I didn’t even start telekinetically manipulating fabric until around 17 months in. And yet here you are, casually unhooking wedgies with your mind like you’re Tiger Woods at a game of mini golf!”

Standing up again, Anton re-extends his hand out to Cody. Even with the death stare he shoots out, Cody eventually takes it.

“What you’ve done without even knowing the power you hold…” Anton continues. “With the right knowledge and guidance, you could become a real force to be reckoned with. Don’t you see, Cody? You could become a wedgie warlock.”

Cody’s brows furrow and he takes a step back. “A… what? But that’s just a schoolyard myth created by bullies with ego issues who peak in Year 8.”

“What might’ve started as a playground myth has become the new reality,” Anton replies. “And with the two of us together, in control of our powers, no nerd shall ever fear that fable again. Now it’s the bullies’ turn to fear for their lives.”

“So this is what this is all about for you?” says Cody as he watches Anton rave. “Some ‘nerd revenge’ type shit? Payback to all that have wronged you?”

“Jono and his measly gang were only the beginning. Every bully in every school— hell, every university and every workplace – EVERY bully shall know true pain.”

“Anton, this is… what you’re talking about is wrong on so many levels. I understand the absolute torture you experienced and it’s natural to want to lash out in retaliation, but what you’re speaking of— mass infliction of pain… it’s just not right! You don’t need to harm others to know your own power, to know your own worth. You’ve been through a lot, and I’m here to help you get back on your feet, okay? But this plan is not the answer.”

Cody gazes into Anton’s eyes, and for a moment he can see the Anton he knew once – the Anton who was scared and hurt, and who, more than anything, just wanted to be safe.

“Please Anton. Let me help you,” Cody says, extending his hand out.

Anton reaches out and places his right hand on top of Cody’s palm. The two share a look of commiseration – two friends finally reconciling after their shared harm in this very school.

“Anton, you’re not gonna regre—”

With the flick of his wrist, Anton telekinetically jolts the front of Cody’s underwear, lifting him up a good few feet above the ground. Cody can only shriek as the melvin digs deeper into his groin, his arms flailing like one of those inflatable air dancing balloons at a car dealer. Anton’s grim cackles can just be heard as Cody is raised higher and higher.

“Oh Cody you pathetic senator. I had hoped you wouldn’t ~be a good person Anton!~ your way out of helping me, but then again you never really knew what true pain was. The world thrives off pain; it’s the single defining quality of the human experience. Until you’ve endured months of torture at the hands of bullies, until you’ve been left to hang by your own underwear for 15 hours, until every single person in your life has neglected you, THEN you can talk to me about right and wrong.”

Anton smacks his hand down on the ground, causing Cody to come hurtling to the ground via his own front underwear. In a split-second decision before hitting the earth, Cody telekinetically pulls the back of his undies, creating a very uncomfortable squeaky clean wedgie but ultimately breaking his fall, ensuring he lands semi-upright after a couple of stabilising wobbles.

“Come on, wedgie boy, fight back! Give me the wedgie you’re dying to give me, or are you too much of a wimp?” Anton calls out across the oval.

Cody doesn’t quite know what to say back. He can sense Anton’s underwear, picturing the dark blue boxer briefs in his mind. His hands tingle with temptation, knowing the exact gesture needed to send Anton flying back by his underwear, yet he can’t bring himself to do it.

“I’d kill for your raw power Cody,” Anton bellows, “but you can’t even get past your own stupid morals! Where were your morals the day you left me to hang for 15 hours? Where were they Cody?”

The back of Cody’s undies is yanked up, causing him to let out a whimper as his body recoils.

“Where were they when I dropped out and everyone in my life had left me?”

Cody’s hoisted up, leaving him dangling a foot above the ground. He tries to kick his way out, but there’s no use.

“Where are your morals when every single day, people like me are harassed and bullied and tortured and cowards like you do NOTHING?!”

Anton shoves out his hands, sending Cody flying back by his own underwear. He hits the back fence, causing it to rattle as his body rebounds onto the ground. The second he stands up and readies himself, Anton yanks the front of his underwear, thrusting him forward at lightning speed. Seizing the opportunity, Cody focuses all his might into taking control over his own front underwear, extending it out with his mind and uses it to whip Anton once he’s in range, knocking him off his feet. With a thud, Anton hits the ground facedown.

Cody takes a second to catch his breath, weaving his loosened underwear back into place. Controlling things with his mind is going to take some getting used to, as if there’s a new muscle he needs to train. Everything Anton said about the Gagarium fusing with his blood was right though – it’s like there’s some connection with the fabric of his underwear that he’s only now discovering.

Cody looks over at Anton lying motionless on the ground, feeling that same pang of guilt hit him. He could have stopped all of this if he’d just gotten Anton down that day. Jono would’ve likely caught him, but Anton would’ve been able to climb free and all this could’ve been avoided.

“I’m sorry,” Cody murmurs.

He turns to go back and help the bullies in the bathroom, but only gets a few steps out when the back of his underwear is yanked up.

“Sorry isn’t good enough,” Anton growls.

Now more relentless than before, Cody’s underwear shoots up and reaches his neck, but it doesn’t stop there. The sound of ripping fills his ears, and he looks over to Anton, who now stands with his arms outstretched, like a puppet master in full control of his puppet. Cody’s lifted high into the sky by his waistband, creeping up higher and higher until it’s reached his head. Still, with each rip, it smooths its way down Cody’s face until all he can see is tinted red, red from his torn underwear.

Back on the ground, Anton continues to twist his extended hands, telekinetically warping Cody’s boxer briefs further and further up his ass. He’s now focusing on all parts of the underwear, levitating every inch of fabric and inflicting a ton of pain onto his friend turned victim. Not breaking focus, Anton reaches into his pocket with one hand, bringing out a silver-coloured sling of fabric that has two small loops at each end. He tosses it up into the air, catching it with telekinesis and letting it float towards the suspended Cody.

“You’d be happy to know that before Dr Germanotti Gagarotti stood trial, I paid her a visit,” Anton says. “Or should I say, I placed an order.”

The sling reaches Cody and hooks one of its looped ends around his neck. The other end curves down his front chest and under his genitalia, then up his back, causing a second and just-as-painful wedgie.

“Custom-made metallic fabric slings,” Anton gloats.

Cody’s propelled backward by the mind-controlled sling, reaching the end of the oval and a fence that he knows too well. Knotting itself around the top wire of the fence, the sling hooks in place, allowing Anton to release his wedgie telekinesis and let Cody fall into his hanging wedgie, evoking a cry of pain.

“Pretty neat, huh? I had a thousand of these made before tipping the Feds off about Dr Gagarotti, but you have been the perfect little test run. Soon, bullies and jocks everywhere will face the same fate: an unescapable wedgie for all the world to see.”

“Anton, please!” Cody yelps.

“Don’t even try to telekinesis your way out of that wedgie Cody. The slings are made mostly of metallic fibres, with the fabric particles so microscopic it’d take you weeks to find them hidden among all that metal. It certainly took me almost a year to find them myself. It’s all the best parts of Gagarium underwear, but made better so doofuses like you can’t escape.”

Cody attempts to manoeuvre the metal sling but he can’t picture any of the fabric particles in his mind. Anton’s right – they’re too well hidden, and he lacks the precision and knowledge needed to disarm Anton’s new weapon.

“You were never gonna win against me Cody. Your raw, untapped power is admirable, but I’ve been training for this moment for 5 years. You did this to yourself. And so, I alone will assume the title of wedgie warlock.”

Through the red of his own underwear, Cody watches Anton as he pulls out another metal sling, flinging it at the overhead floodlight, breaking it in the process. He takes off into the night, leaving Cody to hang alone in the darkness.

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Wedgie Warlock: Chapter 2

Five years later.

Laughter. Reverberating around the room. Grins plastered onto faces, bodies ricocheting with joy. The faces are familiar, yet where they’ve been seen before is a mystery. Unfamiliarly familiar. Wherever he looks, he sees only shame and humiliation reflected back to him, as if he’s surrounded by this torment. Turning around, a tall figure stands behind, looming with a devilish grin.

Pain. Pain as he’s lifted up, his entire weight dependent on his underwear. It gives way, tearing at the seam as the symphony of laughter bolsters. The torn fabric digs deeper into his groin. Helplessness in this rollercoaster of pain.

Cody shudders awake, panting profusely. Sweat hugs his body as he struggles to breathe, fighting to get his mind back to safety. As his heart rate returns from the extremes, he takes in his surroundings: his bed, his closet, his dark room. He’s safe at home, but doesn’t feel it.

The moment he ushers out the anxiety from his nightmare, a wave of guilt hits him. It’s that same guilt that washes over him again and again, every time he’s reminded of wedgies. He remembers the painful wedgies Jono gave him – the ripping atomic and of course the seemingly inescapable hanging wedgie. And Anton, left hanging to his demise. How long did Anton dangle there on that fence? Did Jono and the twins show mercy and let him go, or did they leave him there for as long as he could hang? Surely he must have ripped down not shortly after Cody had—

Cody had left him.

He sits upright in his bed gently rocking for the next while, trying to ease down this guilt that keeps resurfacing. Eventually, he calms a little, moving off the edge of the bed and stripping to just his underwear. In the shadows of his room, he yanks and pulls, biting his lower lip as the fabric digs deeper and deeper into his ass. Leg holes up to his nipples is just how he likes it, lying back with one hand on his dick and one hand firmly jerked under his body, tugging and tugging.

Whenever he’s reminded of wedgies, the only thing he can do to relinquish the combination of arousal and guilt is to pleasure the fuck outta himself for a couple hours. Yanking his own boxerbriefs in the pitch black of his room has become somewhat of a constant, soothing the ache of the purgatory that plagues his mind. All wedgied out, he then shoves the thought back into a small locked trunk in his brain, not to be opened for a couple weeks, a month maybe if he’s lucky, until he can no longer keep the thought at bay. Then rinse and repeat, the wedgie shame cycle continues.

Light eventually seeps through underneath his window blinds, ripping him away from his hollow of regret and forcing him out of his room. Timmy’s already up and eating cereal in the living room. In their second year of university, the two decided to get a place together on the edge of the CBD, and have been roommates ever since. Through parties and late night study sessions to hook-ups and horror movie marathons, their apartment has seen it all.

“Morning,” Timmy says in-between spoonful’s of cereal. He barely looks up from the phone in his hand.

“Morning,” Cody sighs, pouring himself a glass of orange juice.

“You sleep ok?”

“Eh…” Cody begins, recalling the return of the nightmare that’s periodically tormented him these past few years. “I’ve slept better.”

“It took me ages to fall asleep last night,” Timmy says. “That goddamn Pisces full moon fuckin’ up people’s sleep. I mean, also the stress of my first exhibition coming up, but mostly the full moon.”

“You’ll come up with an idea soon,” Cody reassures, sitting down next to his friend.

“I know, I know… It’s just so much anxiety because it’s my first ever one and I still don’t have an overarching theme. All the garments I’ve started on are just loose strands of half-baked ideas that don’t even look good.”

“Well hopefully once the moon moves out of Pisces and stops squaring your natal Gemini moon you’ll be able to shift into gear,” Cody replies sleepily.

Timmy breaks out into a grin. “The student has become the master!”

“Over a decade of being your bestie and I don’t pick up some astrology? Come on now,” Cody giggles.

“Don’t play with him!” Timmy yells as he waves his finger around homosexually, a cackle erupting from his chest.

The two settle back down and Cody glances at the TV. A reporter is interviewing the partner of some guy who was assaulted overnight in a bar in the city.

“Oh yeah, terrible, terrible incident,” Timmy says. “It was right near our fave ice cream stand on Exhibition Street.”

“Not John’s Ice Cream Stand!”

“Yeah! Apparently it was a hit-and-run type of sitch.”

“Hope Old John’s ok. Can’t believe shit like this happens,” Cody murmurs.

“Yeah… but I mean what can ya do?” Timmy says. A respectable amount of time passes, before he changes the subject with: “Anyway Codes— You going to this?”

Timmy passes his phone to Cody, which is open on an email about a high school reunion.

“Ehhhh I was thinking of skipping it.” Cody peeks up from the phone to see the look of outrage on Timmy’s face.

“Oh my god you cannot be serious right now,” Timmy says, theatrically throwing his phone onto the couch.

“What?” Cody asks.

“It’s school reunion! You go, you drink, you dance, you have a good time, come on it’ll be a great fuckin’ time.”

“At no point was our high school experience a ‘great fuckin’ time’, so what makes you think the reunion will be any better?” Cody replies with only half-serious defiance.

“Don’t you wanna see what’s happened to everyone in the past five years?”

“Probably just gone to uni like us, but probably something more interesting than degrees in music and fashion design. Besides— which people? Neither you nor I really had any friends besides each other.”

“Sure I did, there was Martha from history class—”

“You hated Martha.”

“She’s a bitch, but like, in a fun way. Plus there’ll be alcohol and dancing and partying and alcohol—”

“And you already know my stance on all of those things.”

With a dissatisfied huff, Timmy goes back to chewing his soggy cereal in silence, to which Cody rolls his eyes. It’s not that he’s a boring person, he just prefers a nice brunch chat over being the only sober person standing in a room full of drunk strangers for four hours. This isn’t the first time the two have disagreed on this topic, in fact the two had a small falling out in their first few months of living together because Timmy just wanted to party all the time while Cody wanted to focus on his studies. They eventually patched things up, but to this day the phrase “go back to party city where you belong” (which Cody had shouted at Timmy) recalls all the tension the two had.

Cody returns his gaze back to the TV, which is now showing a news story about an arrest of a local scientist. He doesn’t think much of it until the reporter mentions ‘Gagarium’, and his attention perks up.

“The court has found Dr Germanotti Gagarotti guilty of endangering the public by withholding vital information that documents the potential dangers of Gagarium, the synthetic element she created. The court’s ruling follows the announcement by tennis player Rod Tackman about the damage done to his body after long periods of wear, including one incident where paramedics had to use dry ice to laser the material off him, unveiling toxic burns all over his skin. Since then, multiple athletes have come forward about their own experiences with the material, and several elite sporting brands are now removing all Gagarium products from their product lines,” the reporter states.

The news moves on to tackle a story about environment endangerment, but the mention of Gagarium has transported Cody back to that day, five years ago, when him and Anton received those wedgies from hell. Timmy wasn’t the only friend Cody had made in high school, there was Anton. Although, since the whole incident where Cody abandoned him and ran, he’s not too sure where they stand friendship-wise. He was going to apologise but Anton never showed up to graduation the following week, and the rumour was that he dropped out before he could properly graduate. There’s that guilt again.

“We should go to the reunion.”

“Huh?” Timmy says, stopping his pout-fest and looking up from his phone.

“I mean it. We should go to the reunion. And you can dance and drink and party, and I’ll take care of some unfin… I’ll take care of myself and we’ll have a fun time,” Cody says through a forced smile.

“AW thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!”

Timmy cocoons Cody in a fury of hugs and glee, and before he knows it they’ve gone shopping for fancy dress clothes. Suit after shirt after jacket after suit are flung at Cody as Timmy works his way through what feels like the entirety of the men’s section, determined to find him the perfect outfit. No matter how many “it’s good” and “this one’s fine” Cody gives him, Timmy isn’t satisfied.

“If it were really good, you would be speechless, holding back tears at how simply magnificent it is!”

“You do know this is our wanky high school reunion, not dinner with the fucking pope!”

The two eventually settle on a formal-ish shirt and khaki combo that’s just casual enough for Cody to not accidentally slip into a rich white guy country club accent, and they’re ready to go. Timmy of course had his outfit picked the second that email was sent out: a devilish mauve pantsuit with a purple earring and head piece to match – all designed and made by himself of course. Soon there’s nothing left to do but brave the reunion.

Being back at high school for the first time in five years is freaky to say the least. It’s not like the TV shows where the graduated main characters return to the school every few weeks. The moment Cody got his high school graduation certificate, he was out of there. Upon returning, he’s reminded of just how spectacularly mediocre their high school was, elucidated most clearly by the gymnasium that’s been dressed up like some fancy bar, even though there’s still basketball court markings on the floors. Blurgh

Within seconds of walking in, Cody spots Darren. The two haven’t seen each other since graduation night, although he does stalk his Instagram every now and then. Darren’s just recently been appointed the centre half-forward for the Geelong Cats, an actual legit professional AFL team. Five years and all Cody has to show for it is a useless music degree and part-time swim coaching. But he doesn’t have time to hide as Darren spots them and begins walking over, prompting several panicked looks in Timmy’s direction.

“Cody Thompson, is that really you? How’s it been man, how have the last five years treated you?” Darren says as he arrives.

“Darren, wow, it’s been so long,” Cody says, pushing through the rush of anxiety that just hit him. “Yeah went to uni and studied a bit— did some studyin’, y’know, just learnt some stuff and then graduated and I got my certificate because that’s what happens when you,, when you finish the course you signed up for— what? Hu—h?”

Timmy nudges Cody and Darren’s head tilts slightly, as if to gesture ‘huh?’

“Ah—You remember Timmy right?” Cody redirects.

“Yeah sure I do,” Darren says as he and Timmy exchange an awkward handshake. “So you two are still dating, huh?”

“W—what?” Cody stammers.

Timmy’s famous laugh sounds, this one so forceful he almost falls to his knees. “Me and Codes? SKSKSK you’re joking right!”

“I’m not that bad!” Cody says, mouth agape from embarrassment.

“Oh I—I always through you two were an item, even back in high school,” Darren says.

“I mean we tried making out once on Year 9 camp but this Thai boy doesn’t do white dudes with brows thicker than his armpits.”

“Timmy—”

“Woah, well sorry for the confusion,” Darren chuckles.

“You play for the Cats now don’t you?” Timmy asks, not even giving Cody a second to recover.

“I do indeed. Got a big game tomorrow night, but should be great fun,” Darren smiles.

“Is that the Cats versus the Tigers?” Timmy asks. “I tried getting tickets for that with my youngest cousin Jeremy for his birthday but the tickets sold out.”

“Yeah Cats V the Tigers, bring out the claws!” Darren laughs. Cody silently admires the way his cheeks rose up when he laughs. How he’s missed Darren, the feeling of limitless possibility in boyish youth he feels when he’s with him. The dream feels ancient yet modern, as if a familiarity landing on his heart, coming back home. This feeling lasts the entirety of maybe four seconds until a few of Darren’s old footie team friends walk in.

“Oh my god, Jed and Lachie made it,” Darren exclaims. The way his face lights up shatters Cody’s rose-tinted fantasy lens. “Was great seeing you two, hopefully I’ll see y’all out there on the dance floor.”

Darren’s exit deflates every inch of Cody’s face. Even five years later, he’s just as much of an idiot as he was in high school.

“We really need to workshop conversation 101,” Timmy says.

“I didn’t expect all those feelings to come back, and I certainly didn’t expect you to insult my eyebrows in front of my biggest high school crush,” Cody replies.

“I get it, he’s like a white Jesus, but you better keep it in your pants,” Timmy exclaims.

Apparently Cody never really got over his crush on Darren. He thought that maybe since the whole hanging wedgie eyes-lock-Darren-walk-away catastrophe that his unrequited feelings were fully dead, but, as Timmy points out, they’re fully resurrected bitch! What’s more, Darren’s eagerness to ditch them for his actual friends plays over and over in Cody mind. Of course he just goes back to his Level 5 and above friends. Not that La Chique has much jurisdiction post-high school, but it’s like being back in these four walls has made everyone subconsciously revert to the levels they were five years ago, and along with it the heartbreak that took Cody many ice-cream-and-vent sessions with Timmy to get over.

Cody makes it through the first hour. There’s some nibbling on finger food, some dancing, some eyeing Darren from across the room and some obnoxious small talk with guys who clearly have not changed since graduating five years ago. It’s not a terrible way to spend his night, but it certainly isn’t fun being reminded that he doesn’t fit in with this crowd. How Timmy can share his distaste for their school cohort yet also dance his drunk ass off is beyond him. Anton’s also nowhere to be found, which, while unfortunate, was to be somewhat expected. Him of all people knows what it’s like to be at the bottom of the social ladder at this school. It’s a shame though, as Cody really was looking forward to seeing him again and making amends, but that’s probably not in the cards for their friendship.

He’s in the middle of the most boring conversation he’s ever had with one of his old classmates who’s single best achievement in the past five years is coming 32nd in the national Rubik’s Cube competition two years ago (Blurgh2) when he whispers to Timmy that he’s going to the bathroom. Timmy whispers back that he’s gonna go say hi to Martha, and the two agree to reconvene in a bit. Just as Cody makes his way through the crowd to leave, he bumps right into Darren, making him spill his drink on his shirt a little.

“Oh my god Darren I’m so sorry, I’m such an idiot,” Cody says, grabbing way too many tissues from a nearby table to help Darren dab himself clean.

“No worries at all— and one tissue is enough,” Darren chuckles lightly. Cody could almost swoon right here and now if he hadn’t just ruined Darren Hart’s fucking outfit.

“I’ll pay to have your shirt dry cleaned, I’ll do it Darren, I know that—”

“Cody dude,” Darren interrupts, clasping both of Cody’s hands in his, stopping his spiral in its tracks. “Seriously, it’s no big deal.”

Darren shouldn’t be holding his hands for this long. Like, it’s probably only been three-ish seconds in real time, but in Cody fantasy dreamland, Darren’s been holding his hands and gazing with his dreamy hazel eyes for basically an eternity. They’re legally married now, right? Like,,, only husbands are allowed to do this so, by law, Cody and Darren are offish married,, right???

“Hey, maybe you can make it up to me and we can grab a cof—” Darren starts.

“Have you seen Anton?” Cody blurts out.

“Huh?”

FUCK!!!!!!!

“I, uh… no I haven’t actually. I remember seeing his name on the guest list at the arrival though if that helps,” Darren says, smiling weakly.

SHIT FUCK SHIT CRAP FUCKING SHIT FUCK!!!!!!!!!

“Ok, no cool was just wondering,” Cody says.

A beat of awkward silence passes, followed by another and another. Darren was DEFINITELY just about to ask Cody to hang out outside of this formal group hang but he ruined it! With his mind scrambling to compose itself like that one Spongebob meme, he takes a deep breath.

“Actually what were you saying? I totally cut you off there,” Cody asks.

Just as Darren goes to reply, one of his old footie teammates grabs hold of a microphone and drunkenly calls Darren up on stage, getting the crowd to chant for a speech from their old football team captain. Distracted by the commotion, Darren now turns back to Cody.

“Looks like that’s my cue,” Darren says, shrugging. “I’ll catch you around Codes.”

With that, Darren jogs off to the other end of the gymnasium, each step sinking Cody’s heart lower and lower. He officially ruined the moment teenage him dreamt of every single night. But truth be told, how else would this have turned out? As Darren’s voice begins booming throughout the room about the championship he won for his team 5 years ago, Cody sulks his way out of the gym.

Entering the bathroom, Cody opts for the end stall and locks the door behind him, standing above the toilet. He doesn’t actually have to pee, just needs to escape his emotions and the social exhaustion of tonight with some Hearthstone on his phone. A couple minutes of pure bliss in his introvert bubble are popped however when the bathroom door suddenly opens and three familiar voices fill in: it’s Jono and the twins. Cody instantly recoils, dropping his phone in the toilet with a loud plop.

Shit.

Stifling a scream, he shrinks to the corner of the stall, hiding his feet behind the toilet in an attempt to conceal himself. After a few seconds of bated breath, the three bullies seem to take barely any notice of him (apart from a quick “stinker in aisle 4” comment from one of the twins), continuing on with a conversation started before they entered the bathroom. Cody eyes his phone bobbing in the toilet bowl as his ears listen the hardest they’ve ever listened.

“You guys see Mrs Thornton? She’s just as fuckable as when she was teaching Year 9 geography,” Jono says.

“Yoooo dude if she wasn’t married with kids, I’d be all over her!” says douche 1.

“Like that’s stopped you before,” says douche 2.

Laughter echoes throughout as, from the sounds of it, Jono begins lightly roughhousing the twins. Once again, Cody’s reminded of just how homoerotic the majority of heterosexual male jocks tend to be.

OK. Focus Cody, focus. We just need to silently wait it out if we want to leave this dumb reunion with our underwear intact. We are 23 years old – we will not be made to be a fool at our old high school by these manchildren whose glory days were wedgieing nerds in high school. We just have to be patient and wait it out and—

The bullies are silent. Did Cody miss them walking out of the bathroom or something? Oh God, have they realised that there’s a locked stall door with no feet showing on the ground??!! Fuck, Cody! You are such an idiot sometimes! With his heart beating as fast as it’s ever beat, Cody slowly stoops down and peers under the stall door, but no shoes are in sight. Maybe they did actually leave?

Unlocking the door, Cody slinks up to the sinks but there’s no sign of tweedle dumb, dumber and dumbest. The sinks are dry meaning no one used them (although truth be told, hygiene isn’t exactly a strength of the heterosexual jock). It isn’t until he looks up in the mirror that he sees in the reflection the bullies all strung up by their boxers in a joint hanging wedgie. Cody turns around in disbelief, but nope, that is definitely them all there, dangling a good few inches off the ground. From the looks of things, they’ve been knocked out, and Cody can just make out the faintest shit stain on Jono’s underwear. Cody winces.

Usually Jono would be the one to blame, and Cody wouldn’t put it past him to subject his own henchtwins to a brutal ball-splitting hanging wedgie. Yet here he is, all kebab’d up by his own boxers alongside the twins, and no culprit in sight. Cody definitely didn’t hear the bathroom door open since the bullies came in, that is unless the person who did it came in with them? But then they’d still be in here, wouldn’t they? Goddamn being a crime investigator is hard work.

Something moves in the dark outside the window by the ceiling, jolting Cody out of his detective fantasy. Something, or better yet, someone is out there! Cody jumps to reach the window, hoisting himself up onto the ledge that truly has never been dusted since the school’s establishment. Kicking open the window with his feet, he falls onto the roof outside and darts his eyes around him. Although not yet used to the darkness, he can just make out someone running away across the roof in the distance. One last look at the lifeless jock bodies and he scrambles into the night.

Cody’s body is not made for an intense chase sequence. He has long legs, but the majority of his figure is just lank and of no real use in this situation. Still, he manages to at least keep up with the mysterious figure, running across the rooves of his high school. The faint reflections of alternating purple and blue disco lights underscore the flurry of Cody’s feet, propelling him over the gymnasium of unsuspecting ex-students below. He eventually reaches the end of the building and notices a ladder that could’ve only been placed there by the figure. He descends it, making his way to the oval where the figure now stands with their back to Cody.

“Who are you?” Cody yells between pants, catching his breath.

But the figure doesn’t respond; they don’t even flinch. Cody shivers, the mist from his anxious lungs being squeezed out of him like an accordion. He didn’t consider for even a second what the hell he’d do once he caught up with the mysterious person, and now that he’s out here on the dark cold oval, he realises there’s not much stopping him from ending up in the same fate as the bullies back in the bathroom. Cody gulps.

“Hello?! I— I know what you did to Jono and the twins back there! Whoever you are, I just— I just think that’s not, y’know, cool and stuff.”

A cackle answers Cody’s trembling voice, a cackle so piercing that even the sound of 90’s hip-hop music from the gymnasium is overpowered by the sheer assuredness of this figure.

“Ah Cody, so great to finally see you again.”

The figure slowly turns around and it’s Anton. The oval spotlight gives just enough light to be able to make out Anton’s giant grin and the fire in his eyes.

“Anton? Wh— What are you doing here?”

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The Nervous Exhale

Wedgies are the nervous exhale.
The quivers of a body that knows its fate.
The in-betweens of each breath, of each heartbeat,
the inevitable purgatory I await.

I can almost feel what it’s like,
the intoxicating seduction of my leg holes slithering up my butt cheeks.
But no preparation can provide me a cure for the ecstatic euphoria
erupting to the tips of my feet.

Surrender.
Surrender to my waistband that betrays my groin but fulfils my devilish desires.
Surrender as I lie helpless to prevent the blood surging from my balls to fuel my heart’s sensations.
Surrender is all I can do whilst he sits on top of me, the vulture who has secured its prey.

One last tug tears the boxerbriefs, parting the ocean of stretched boyhood to reveal my bare skin underneath.
For a moment he stops, mischief gone too far,
but I reassure him they weren’t expensive anyway.
(You never wear the expensive stuff for a ripping wedgie).
So he continues, anchoring his feet against my shoulders as my vision is rotated out,
replaced by the navy blue of my torn undies.

Relief shudders in, our pants becoming one.
The exhilaration drains out with each breath.
My toes are the first to regain consciousness, followed by the rest of my body.
The stinging of my asshole being split in two, a feeling I adored, is now simply endured.
I hear him chuckle and I’m made aware of my body’s dorkish arch in submission.
‘You’re such a nerd’, he teases me, tossing my swimcapped hair.
My face blushes the rouge of my cheeks and before my self-awareness kicks in,
he kisses me, easing my bruised ego back to reality.