Work Header

The Art Project

Work Text:

Jimmy's art project consists of various photographs, drawings, paintings and sketches. He's chosen 5 of the 20 choices, (they had to choose 3-5 themes), including Family, Sense of Self, Pride, Home and Change

It's unusual, the images he choses to capture, and he knows that. But it suits him, and he likes his presentation, grouping them chronologically as much as by subject.

A sketch of Lola, staring out the window, her chin in her hand, on a sheet of Biology notes.

A pencil and crayon drawing of Gary, fast asleep and stretched out across Pete's lap, who's reading a letter from home, a small smile on his face.

An A4 drawing, in pencil and coloured ink, of the 2 desks in Gary and Pete's room, the contrast of their chaos sharply captured.

A panasonic photo of Bullworth, captured from the top of the school bell tower (Ms Phillips wisely doesn't ask how Jimmy got that fall photo)

A selfie in front of the mirror on his wardrobe, in his binder and boxers, arm and face scraped from when he wiped out on his board trying a new trick.

A painting of Kirby and Trent, sat in the bleachers watching football practice the week that Kirby had sprained his ankle, Trent's arms wrapped around the footballer.

Christy with her shock of red hair loose for once, curling gently around her shoulders as she took shots at the dunk tank at the carnival.

Pinky smiling, hiding a laugh, as she listens to something Parker is saying, eyes bright with obvious affection, looking relaxed in a pair of jeans and loose t-shirt at the boxing club.

Mandy in relaxed fit yoga pants and a cami, smiling as she led cheerleading practice in the gym, finally mastering the triple flip they had spent more than a month failing at.

Lola smoking, leant against the wonder meats billboard, a queen surveying her kingdom in the early morning sun.

Angie is sketched in Art, focused on her own creation, unaware that Jimmy had been watching her until he pulled her aside at the end of class and showed her, asking permission to use the sketch in his project.

Eunice is sat on the grass by the girls dorm, under the apple tree, a book ignored in her lap as she watches something Jimmy can't see, a small equally amused and concerned smile on her face.

Beatrice is photographed more sneakily, because she gets so embarrassed and stiff when she spots the camera, but Jimmy finally manages to get a couple of good reference photos when she's in the comic book shop, busy easily defeating most of the nerds at G&G. He steals her character sheet and draws her in the full costume of her Rouge, showing her the drawing before he includes it in the project.

Jimmy captures more photos during that year than Ms Phillips can remember any student in previous years doing, and he sketches almost as much. A good quarter of the submitted drawings are on the back of school notes, or napkins, or any bit of paper he could lay his hands on.

A favourite of Jimmy's was quickly drawn and coloured on the back of an old boxing poster after he won the championship (again), beating everyone else in a fun, violent, afternoon. It was a rough sketch of Bif and Bryce, Bryce's eye blackening, and Bif's bottom lip splitting open afresh every time he spoke or smiled. Bif was attempting to clean up Bryce's injuries, but had gotten a little too rough, and Bryce had grabbed Bif's wrist, stopping him from touching his sore face, the alcohol soaked cotton wool hovering just above Bryce's bleeding eyebrow. Bif had lifted his own eyebrow, silently challenging Bryce, and Jimmy had been struck by the intimacy between the 2 friends, fingers itching, not to punch, but to draw, and he had quickly sketched it out in thick permanent marker on the nearest paper available.

Edgar sat on top of the pier at Blue Skies, having a break from work and looking out across the ocean.

Jonny under the car in shop, his crew around him, all working together to fix the machine, laughing as oil splashed across them, because although they were almost as meticulous as the preps when it came to their clothes, vehicles were the exception to the rule.

Ted on the football field, in his warpaint and uniform, looking focused and serious as he single handedly stares down the opponent as they warm up on the far end of the field before a game.

Petey and Gary feature most, of course.

Pete's bedroom at his house in the Vale, Gary stretched out across the bed looking bored.

Gary's pill bottles, light streaming through the window and the orange plastic.

Petey bent over his messy desk, working on his math homework.

A mirror selfie when Gary shoved Jimmy against the wall, crowding in close to him and kissing him hard, Pete next to Gary, shoving just as much for his own taste of Jimmy after a date at the carnival.

Gary cackling as he wins the dunk tank for the 12th time in a row, seconds before they made a break for it when Gary used a stone to hit the plate as the guy was climbing back up.

No1 knows who the image of the positive pregnancy test belongs to, the photo too zoomed in to distinguish the background. Jimmy doesn't comment on it when he's asked, saying just that it's not his story to tell, that the people who needed to know, knew at the time. Of course that fuels rumours that vary from every girl on campus, to even Jimmy being pregnant, something he refutes with a raised eyebrow and snide comment about his hormone treatment making sure that won't happen to him.

Jimmy had managed to get a photo of Ms Phillips and Mr Galloway, the 2 of them obviously smitten with each other.

Jimmy had spent an evening in the girls dorm, sat on Mandy's bed mostly, drawing as she and her 3 roommates did each others hair and nails.

Then there's the collection of photos taken during Halloween, of people half dressed and fully dressed, causing chaos around the school.

There is, of course, photos from all the parties he's attended through the year. From Harrington House to a rave in an empty factory to the day that the jocks and nerds each threw a party at the football field and observatory respectively, unaware of each other's plans until the parties mixed and melded into a great big party with pretty much everyone attending, and only a handful of fights that Jimmy had to intervene in.

Jimmy had a great ability to accidentally stumble upon couples making out, and he never failed to take a photo, although he always made sure to track down the people in question and make sure they knew that he had evidence. He wouldn't use it for blackmail, but he got quite a few interesting stories out of it, for example, Peanut and Lefty had gotten together after Jonny came back from Volts, and although Lefty blamed it on the situation, Peanut always ended up being pulled into an out of the way hiding place and kissed. He didn't mind, because it didn't mean anything. He was head over heels for Jonny, he confessed in a whisper, leaning against the wall in the garages, Jimmy at his side, Jonny wrapped up with Lola against the wall further along. Out of earshot, but never out of sight.
"He don't notice me, but that's ok, cos 1 day he's gonna get sick of Lola screwing him around, and I'll be there to pick up the pieces. All I can ask for, ain't it? Letting me be part of his world."

Jimmy had a photo of Dan and Thad, a rare moment where the 2 brothers were actually not just acknowledging each other, but interacting nicely. Dan had his arm slung around Thad, explaining something to him, Thad busy showing his big brother something in his notebook, trying to get him to understand.

Jimmy had more photos than he could count of the people who had become *his* gang as much as they belonged to their own cliques. Trent, Lola, Zoe, Pinky, Gary and Pete. Gary jokes that it's good Petey is as nerdy as he is, because all of the actual nerds are unbearable, and pretty much refuse to spend time around them because Gary or Zoe scare them. Zoe teases Gary that it's lucky he's so athletic then, if he's wanting equal represation of all the groups in Jimmy's Harlem, as she calls them, then always asks him how he got on the last time he tried doing the heavy weight at the carnival (pathetically, as she knows), pushing verbally until Gary snarls and Jimmy has to tell them to knock it off.


Jimmy goes down to the Asylum 1 night, 6 months to the day since Gary was admitted, and climbs the rocks, until he's peering down over the compound, and he takes a photo, before making his way inside the grounds. He enters the hospital, dressed in stolen scrubs, and takes photos of the mess inside. He knows, from having snuck around while Gary was there, which cell was his, and it's yet to be reoccupied, a strait jacket discarded under the damaged bed, lines scratched into the wall, 1 for every morning Jimmy knows Gary spent here. There's blood stains on the floor, and Jimmy knows now where they came from, but he didn't when he captured them on film. He makes his way through the hospital, taking photos wherever he knows Gary has been, the showers, the free room, out by the gate where he used to pace every visitors day. Jimmy only knows that because he snuck down the observatory tunnels and watched, wondering if this was where Petey was disappearing off to every Wednesday and Saturday. It was, as it turns out, but he never went in. Gary would spot him, and scream and shout abuse, pushing Petey away as hard as he could, until an Orderly would arrive and drag him away, still screaming at Petey.

Jimmy still remembers how Gary reacted when Pete didn't turn up the 1 week, because he was sick, not that Gary knew that. He's got a photo of that, Gary sat on the ground hours after all the other visitors had left, not moving even as the gates opened, just staring at the middle of the bend, waiting, silently crying because he thought he had finally managed to push everyone away. It was the 1st time Jimmy had spoken to Gary since he pushed him through the skylight 7 weeks earlier, stood by the gate, it made Gary jump when he spoke.
"Pete's sick, but he'll be back next week," Jimmy had said, Gary replying something he no longer remembers, sarcastic and snide and nasty and funny and Jimmy smiled, all the anger he had towards Gary starting to fade as he spoke with a boy who was so clearly hurt and broken.

Jimmy has told Gary about those photos, because he wants to include them in his portfolio, but Gary has so far refused to look at them, and Jimmy won't include them until Gary says it's ok.

He's got a photo from the week after, when Pete went back, and Gary was silent until the gate opened, Pete obviously shocked as Gary raced through the gateway, dodging the orderly who grabbed at him, and threw his arms around Pete, hugging him tightly and not trying to escape.


Jimmy buys himself a really good set of blades, and carefully cuts up photos and paintings and drawings, putting them together in different layers, the contrast between textures highlighting the contrast in the subjects, recreating the staged photo of their year on the steps into the school with his own artwork, using a copy of the original photo for reference. That piece he creates on a piece of board, 7ft wide, 4ft tall, and no1 is allowed to see until it's complete, going so far as to actually do it in the empty classroom Ms Phillips offered him exclusive use of once she realised the size of his final project, covering the door to make sure no1 peeks in and catches sight of it. All his artwork stays there, rather than taking up space in his bedroom, but before he started creating that board he had barely used the classroom.

Pete and Gary lose track of how many nights they have to fetch him out of there, Gary keeping lookout for prefects while Pete knocks on the door until Jimmy opens it, a scowl on his face at the interruption until he realises just how late it is.


Jimmy changes bikes, swapping his bmx for a mountain bike, and takes to the tracks around Bullworth, paints and canvas or paper in his backpack, Pete or Gary usually coming with him, and splits his time between creating and kissing until they can't breathe.

He tries to paint the sunset everyday for the month of February, from wherever he is when it touches the horizon until it disappears. From the pier to the industrial estate to the top of the town hall to the school to the dam and all the way back down to the top of the bmx park. All 28 days, rain or shine, he finds somewhere to sit and paints onto the minature 4 by 4 canvas he brought, oil paints, just your basic red, yellow, blue, black and white, mixed along his hands and arms until he had the right shade for the painting, 3 water bottles filled with very diluted paint thinner turning dirty as he dips his 3 brushes. The wet painting gets a piece of clingfilm carefully laid over it, and then it's back to the dorm, gently unwrapping it, but not minding too much if the paint smears, leaving it to dry on his desk and dropping it off in his classroom in the morning after scrawling his name in the corner in black sharpie.


Jimmy had, a couple of days into the school year, when assigned this massive project, asked his friends, minus Pete and Gary because Gary does not need an excuse to fuel his caffeine addiction, to collect the pull tabs from any sodas they have, and the unusual request had spread throughout the student body, until he was being handed pull tabs all the time. He let Pete into the reason, because he asked, but hadn't bothered telling Gary, wanting to see how long he could keep him curious, and had subsequently gotten everyone to promise that if questioned, all they would tell Gary is the truth, that they don't know why Jimmy wants them, but it's such a small thing they don't mind helping out (even if their helping out means Jimmy has a garbage bag with roughly 6000 tabs by Thanksgiving, and he's worried by how much soda the students drink), and that he should ask Jimmy. He only added that last bit because he knows that would actually discourage Gary from asking, and he kind of gets off on pissing Gary off, knowing that he's watching him, studying him, trying to work out why the hell he wants so many fucking pull tabs. Gary gets even madder when he realises that it's not just the students, but the entire town seems to have taken up collecting pull tabs for Jimmy over Thanksgiving, the long weekend spent with the 3 of them hanging around Bullworth, and various people handing Jimmy bags of the damn metal things.

Jimmy hadn't exactly decided what he was going to do with them when he made the request, beyond a vague idea of *something*, but he ends up spray painting them, using as many colours as he could buy, then threading them together into a massive wall covering, alternating between gold and blue fabric, using fine embroidery thread, and wool, and torn shirts, and ribbon until it's as big as he can make it, when it becomes a rug instead. After another month, Gary finally asks Jimmy what the hell he needs all those pull tabs for, so Jimmy tells him, then throws the latest pile and some thread at him, and Gary gains a new hobby, something to keep his fingers busy and slow his mind when the world is on the verge of becoming too much.

Jimmy decides to use the pull tab fabric, as he calls it in his head, as the background for his exhibit, getting Peanut and Edgar to help him the 1 evening, because they're both good at keeping secrets as well as the bit of engineering he needs help with (as well as being Tall guys), and after a couple of hours, they've got the pull tabs secured to a wooden frame, held taught.
"So what's the plan wiv this, Jimmy?" Peanut asks, Jimmy smiling as he helps hammer in nails to hold it tight.
"Part of the project includes putting on a exhibit. Gonna use this as background. I've got more tabs, so I'll make at least 1 more, might do a few smaller 1s," Jimmy mused, stepping back to see how it was progressing. "I haven't decided yet."
"That exhibit open to everyone or just students?" Edgar asks.
"Everyone. They go up in the school during the summer, have to have it ready to be put up the week before term ends, when classes are over but before everyone goes home."
"You nervous?"
"Fucking shitting myself. But it'll be good."
"This is the project you were taking photos of me for?"
"Yeah. You still ok with me using them? Cos I don't have to."
"Nah, it's fine. Promise you'll tell me when I can come see though, alright?"
"Of course."


Jimmy stays up later and later as the year progresses, splitting his time more evenly between his academic work and his art project, because Petey starts using kisses and sexual stuff (they haven't actually had sex yet, even though everyone seems to think that's what they do every time they disappear for the night), as rewards for completing homework, and getting grades above his *coasting level* as Petey puts it. He even ropes Gary into doing the same, by giving him the same reward system, so Jimmy is left with either ignoring school work and having his boyfriends ignore him, which is just No, or admitting that maybe he was getting too distracted by the art.

He doesn't abandon it completely during the exam season, but he limits it to photos, camera in his hand more often than not.

And then, the party after the last exams, held in and around Harrington House (only the 1st 2 floors mind), spreading down to the basketball courts and the garages, all the students mingling and mixing. Jimmy takes more photos that night than he has in months. He probably won't use most of them, he's not really checking them so much as roughly angling the camera, used to the feel of it in his hand so he doesn't worry too much about angles and lights and just snaps away. But it's good, and when, after 3 hours or so, Gary drags him and Petey outside, Jimmy goes willingly, camera still in his hand, tipsy but not actually drunk, and lets Gary shove him into the cut through to the library.

He has a photo that is definitely not going into the project, of Gary on his knees in front of Petey, Pete's hand tangled in Gary's hair, Gary's fingers, the 1s not holding Pete's hip, in Jimmy's underwear, rubbing and circling until Jimmy is so close he thinks he might die.

He decides he does die when Gary pulls away from Pete's spent cock and unceremoniously yanks Jimmy's jeans down, putting his mouth to excellent use and finally pushing Jimmy over the edge, 3 fingers deep inside him, his mouth, tongue, *teeth* on Jimmy's clit, sucking and scraping just enough that Jimmy forgets that they're literally 10ft from their entire year, and outside, and **screams** Gary's name as he comes around his fingers.

Pete's on his knees as soon as he caught his own breath, fingers at Gary's cock, bringing him off as he brings Jimmy off, and when Jimmy screams out his name, Gary's cock tenses hard, and then he's cumming, spilling over Pete's hand and his own jeans and the ground.

They stumble back into the party, the flush from their cheeks mostly faded, hair roughly smoothed back into place, and separate for a while, because there's always people vying for Jimmy's attention, and Pete and Gary don't want to do that attention circus right now, but Jimmy's happy as always to get into the middle of things, his trusty camera back in his hand once more.

Jimmy stands in the middle of the classroom that has been his for the last year, the desks and chairs long since pushed aside, most of them piled up elsewhere in the school. Jimmy had the biggest Soda Can Pull Tab Tapestry (he did a lucky dip for the name, and so far no1 is admitting that they suggested it), roughly in the middle of the room, stood perpendicular to the door. It stands 10half ft wide, 6ft tall, and it's his main board for displaying his photos. The smaller Tapestries, 4ft by 4ft and 5ft by 4ft, are in the corners of the wall with the door, at a 45° angle and pulled out a little so you can still easily access both sides, and display more of his photos.

The pictures are hung on the walls. Most of them are framed, in simple pine frames he had custom painted. He entrusted the frames to the Greasers and Townies, getting the 2 groups to spray them in turns. They're originally sprayed in matte purples, red and blues, the colours of bruises and pain, the colours overlapping and uneven, as the Townies just pile them up and spray them, as Jimmy requested, creating a patchwork of bruises on the wood. Then he gets them to paint each frame in metallic Bullworth Gold or Blue, each frame sprayed a single colour. Then, at long last, he sent them to the Greasers, and got them to sand patches of the metallic paint off, revealing the bruising underneath. And then he arranges them in 4s, recreating the image of the school flag.

The rest of the drawings and paintings are unframed, hung individually or in rows. Jimmy's sunset paintings are a long line, the colours blurring into each other the length of the classroom. He also has a copy of the journal he used, each page dated and detailing an individual artwork or photo. Who or what it is, where and when. Often the reason why as well. He uses those pages as the information label for each artwork, even making 1 for the Soda Can Pull Tab Tapestries.

Jimmy doesn't turn as he hears the door open, expecting Ms Phillips.
"Wow," she says, walking through the display, her heels clicking against the floor, the sound stopping and starting as she pauses to look at particular pieces on her way to Jimmy. "This is stunning, Jimmy. You should be proud."
"Yeah," Jimmy murmurs in reply, ducking his head down, slightly embarrassed by the praise.
"Yes," Ms Phillips confirms, giving Jimmy's shoulder a squeeze. "You staying here while people visit this afternoon?" she asks, and Jimmy shakes his head no immediately.
"Just wanted to give it 1 last check over before everyone is allowed in. Pretty much everyone I photographed has promised to come at some point."
"Ok, why don't you go get some lunch, then, come back whenever you're ready."

Jimmy sat on the balcony outside the classroom being used for his exhibit, the window cracked just enough that he could hear people moving around inside, but not actually make out what they were saying, his stomach twisted in knots. He hadn't realised until just then how nervous he was, how scared he was that people would dislike what he had created. He took another drink of his soda, then looked to the side as another window opened, not 1 attached to his room, thankfully, smiling when Gary climbed through.
"Wouldn't it have been easier to go outside and up?" Jimmy asks, because he knows Gary must have picked the lock to get into the classroom.
"It's raining," Gary replies, Jimmy turning to look out over the grounds and realising that he's right. He hadn't even noticed the rain begin.
"You eaten?" Gary demands, Jimmy shaking his head as the older boy sits next to him, pressing them right up together. "Here," Gary drops a chocolate bar into Jimmy's lap. "Eat, then we talk."
"About?" Jimmy asks, unwrapping the bar and taking a bite.
"Why it's ridiculous to be sat out here listening to people walk around your art show."
"It's not ridiculous," Jimmy argues.
"Oh, so you agree that you're listening to people walk around? Because that, my friend, is creepy."

"What if they don't like it?" Jimmy asks a few minutes later, chocolate bar eaten, wrapper back in Gary's pocket.
"It's *art*, James. You yourself once told me no art is universal in it's audience."
"Mona Lisa is liked by everyone."
"The Mona Lisa is an overrated, *dirty*, painting. The only reason people like it so much is because someone decided it was valuable. We don't even know if whatshisname actually painted it himself, or who it is. Ergo, overrated, and not universally loved. But the stuff you've done, there's enough variety that everyone will find at least 1 piece they enjoy. They might hate half of it, they might think you're being pretentious and cocky or whatever, but they'll find something they like. Even if most of the morons around here miss what you're doing with the frames and the tapestries."
"You think?"
"Bullworth is full of morons, Jimmy. How many tabs was it in the end?"
"About 356,000. The shops and the carnival got into it as well, and Edgar had a word with the guy at the recycling plant, and the guys at the pier. Ms Phillips got the teachers donating. Plus me and Petey were pulling them off every soda you had even before you knew what was going on. You drink way too much soda."
"No such thing."
"Uh huh."
"When is your Mom meant to be getting here?"
"She should be able to come see me Friday. Richard wants us to go out for dinner."
"You should."
"I asked if you guys could come. They're thinking about it. Mom thinks Pete is why I've calmed down, now that I've found myself a nice boy."
"Not me?"
"Apparently since our relationship started with, well, everything that happened, you're a bad influence. She's not wrong, really. We are bad influences on each other."
"Yeah, but mostly we're good. So they're ok with the whole poly thing?"
"Not at all. I think they think ignoring it means they don't have to confront it. She's stopped using my dead name even when she's mad at me, so that's good, but I don't think she can deal with her baby girl having 2 boyfriends. Richard is better about it, reckons that so long as we all agree, and we aren't setting fires and getting into fights, he doesn't give 2 fucks who I'm dating. Unless I get knocked up, but he swapped insurance companies, so I'm covered for my birth control, and I'll be covered for T when I'm 18."
"He's been good for your Mom, hasn't he?"
"Think having a year away from me made the biggest difference," Jimmy answers, leaning forwards until he could rest his chin on his pulled up knees, eyes looking into the distance where he could see the gym buildings, but not really seeing them. "Dad used to say we were just the same. His wonderful wife and darling daughter, identical in every way on the inside, and that's what matters, the inside. Didn't matter that I had his eyes or his hair, because I was my Mom through and through. Thats why I had to look just like him on the outside, because otherwise he'd think Mom had cloned herself in her belly," Jimmy says with a small smile, blinking rapidly before the tears gathering at his eyes can blur his vision too much. "I miss him," he adds, voice small and hurt, and Gary presses closer, wrapping his arms around Jimmy, shocked into silence by the confession, because Jimmy refuses to talk about his dead Dad, refuses to even think about him. Last time the issue had been brought up, accidentally, Jimmy had broken Ted's nose, just punched him square in the face for bringing it up, the jock unaware that Jimmy's Mom's husband wasn't his birth dad and stormed off, leaving Gary to shrug and explain the whole dead Dad thing while Pete chased after Jimmy. Gary would've just annoyed Jimmy until at least 1 of them had their own broken nose that day.

"Is he how you picked your name?" Gary asks after a while, when it's clear that Jimmy isn't going to say anything else or burst into tears.
"James was his middle name. Benjamin James Hopkins. I woulda been called James if I was born a boy. I think he would've liked it, woulda still loved me when I told him I didn't want to be Hollie anymore. He was laid back like that. Probably made some crack about thinking I had looked more like a James than a Hollie, or about being right saying I was gonna be a boy before I was born. Made Mom give him back the $20 from the bet about what they were having."
"How old were you when he died?" Gary asks, deciding to take advantage of Jimmy being open about this and ask all the things he hadn't when Jimmy had told him and Pete just why he had step-dads.
"6. Couple days after my birthday. We had to cancel the party because he collapsed in the morning. Spent ages thinking it was my fault, asked for too many balloons and broke his heart."
"But he had been sick for a while, hadn't he?"
"Yeah, but he hadn't known. Probably had that hole for years, and it finally got big enough to do something. Genetic issue. I have to have scans every few years, in case 1 develops. If I ever have kids, like give birth to them, it's something to watch out for."
"Do you want kids?"
"Yeah, someday, I think? I don't know if I want to carry, though I don't know who the hell would let us 3 adopt a baby."
"My psychosis has a genetic factor, I wouldn't want to have a kid of my own, make them struggle with this as well."
"I'll have 1 with Petey, then. We'll get a puppy for your baby, can have your stink then," Jimmy teases, breaking into a grin, and bumping sideways against Gary.
"German Shepherd," Gary replies after a moment. "Or 1 of them bear dogs. Something massive."
"Irish Wolf Hound?" Jimmy suggests.
"Nah, too skinny. And a massive garden for it to run around in. I always wanted a pet."
"Yeah, is that why you liked Pete?"
"No. Pete didn't run away when I put worms down his shirt. That's why I liked Pete. By the time he moved to town I had already scared off everyone else. Too much too soon. Same as always," Gary shrugs. "If you aren't going back in, can we go to the carnival or something?"
"Gatecrash Pete's prefect meeting?"
"Yeah. Gotta be over soon, let's go."