by O Yardley
Party Spirit series #14: After "Fugitive"
Nothing like sheer terror for making you sweat like a pig; I was soaking, reeking to high heaven, offensive to myself even outside the confines of Cowley's car. Didn't remember much of the last hectic half hour except running like stink to get away from Ray and screaming at him to stop following me, let me get clear...
Thank God he never listens to a word I say.
But the risk he took... He shouldn't've done it. Should've let me go.
S'pose he's not the only one with a martyr complex after all.
The rest of it's a haze, like a nightmare, all smoke and noise and people yelling.
Cowley didn't say much; grunted the way he does and got in the front seat. Everyone else'd gone by then and the airstrip was quiet: somewhere a tentative bird was starting up, incongruous after all that anger and hate. We sat there for a minute, no one speaking, waiting for Cowley to come out of his reverie; then we were off back to Town, the brief moment of stillness over.
I hunched down, resting my head against the back of the seat and wanting comfort but not knowing where to find it. Or how. So hard to ask, so hard to admit to the need, so easy to look for it in casual sex and find out too late it isn't enough.
Ray wouldn't even look my way; stared out of the side window with his mouth shut tight and those ruddy sunglasses hiding his eyes. Sometimes I hate those sunglasses. Just a look would have helped, just an acknowledgement we were in this together, for better or worse...
Ray, turn your head!
After a while I shifted, feeling restless, slung an arm along the back of the seat behind him to free my lungs and help me breathe deeper, long and calming gulps. Touching his shoulders helped: I let my arm slip, fetch up harder against him.
Took me a minute to realize the shaking I could feel was more than just the vibration of the car, that slow shudders were racking him, fighting the tension in his body. Poor bastard! It had been a hectic few minutes and I hadn't recovered my own equilibrium yet. I gripped his shoulder, needing to show him I knew and understood and sympathised...
That did bring his head around, the black lenses mercifully covering his expression though the fine tremble of his lips told its own story. He tipped the glasses onto his forehead, looked at me, at the back of Cowley's head, on toward the driving mirror and back at my hand. I took the hint, pulling my arm away, albeit reluctantly. But I wasn't ready to let him go yet, so instead I tugged at his elbow until his forearm lay between us and on top of mine and twisted my wrist to get at his hand, twining my fingers in his and holding on tight for my sake as well as his.
We got back to London far too soon.
I think he might have sneaked out without me if I hadn't reminded him I had no wheels at HQ; he was certainly making for the stairs when I yelled after him. Wondered what I'd done to get up his nose this time.
"Nothing," he mumbled when I taxed him with it over the bottle of Scotch it'd taken me all of two minutes to persuade him to come up and share.
I took another mouthful: Dutch courage--asking Doyle personal question's like putting your head in the lion's mouth-- "What was up? Back there in the car, I mean."
"What d'you mean, what was up? Nothing was up. Not with me."
"Yes, there was. You were shaking almost as bad as I was."
I got a lop-sided grin for that. "'spect I was as scared as you as well."
"Nah--couldn't've been. I was practically peeing myself every step across that field."
He put his glass down with something of a bang. "Will you stop talking about it!"
Offended--it was the first time I'd mentioned the afternoon's events, and it wasn't as though they'd been dull for either of us--I said, "Shouldn't've come haring after me if you were that scared then. If you'd kept your distance..." I stopped.
He was sort of frozen, staring at me, unblinking.
"Ray, are you OK?"
He scrambled up, clumsily, all elbows and knees, and made for the window where he brought up short and stood staring out. He was shaking again.
"You just don't understand, do you, Bodie?" he said as I came up behind him. "Or is it that you don't want to understand? Does it embarrass you I might care what happens to you? That I didn't fancy seeing my best mate strewn over 'alf the Southern counties? Scared me so I could 'ardly think. Don't remember what 'appened even, just 'eard the bang and thought we'd both 'ad it, that at least we'd go together, that I wouldn't be left on my own..."
It was like a dam bursting, words pouting out of him so fast I could barely make out their sense and when I did I could scarcely believe what I was hearing. I backed off, embarrassed as hell and gawped at him, floundering for the right response.
Not like me to be lost for words: trouble is Ray knows that.
He babbled himself to a standstill and I was still standing there, dumb, staring at him.
It was a long silence.
He was the first to move, grinning sheepishly at me.
"Shock, I expect. Plays 'avoc with your nerves. Shouldn't scare the living daylights out of me that way, sunshine, not if you expect me to make sense afterwards."
I grinned back, relieved. "Makes you behave in all kinds of funny ways, shock does. Been feeling a bit odd myself. Shook up. You know."
"Yeah, I know." He wandered back to his whisky and took a long gulp.
I picked up my own, needing some more of that Dutch courage to come right out in the open for once and ask for it to happen. "So 'ow about celebratin' a bit of life instead?"
I put it bluntly. "'ow about going to bed? Together?" It'd been quite a while since the last time, dunno why...well, maybe that's not quite true but the less said about that the better; made a right prat of meself one way and another a few weeks back, an episode I'd prefer to forget.
Wonder what Cowley really would have done if I'd broken that bugger's neck?
"Only if you want to," I added. "You c'n go home if you'd rather."
He gave me one of his piercing looks, all tensed up. Then he relaxed almost visibly. "No, I'd like to stay, but..."
"But you need a bath, mate," he said, lifting his head and sniffing ostentatiously. "Began to think you'd bought a goat since I was 'ere last."
I went to cuff him, thought better of it and dragged him off to share the shower with me instead, not having any words to tell him what I was thinking. I mean it just never occurred to me Ray'd feel like that, 'd mind so much if I bought it. As I soaped his back for him I found myself remembering what it had been like to fuck him, to feel him tight about my need... I'd tried not to think about it too often, not to recall... Didn't want to get hooked on the idea of sodomy and I had an uneasy notion it'd be all to easy to get that way with Ray. But if cared about me, cared what happened to me... Made me all warm inside, knowing that. I even wondered fleetingly if that was why he'd made me do it, because he cared and not because he was feeling guilty... Be just like him...
Oh, Ray, what are we getting into? Getting too important, all this, and getting harder to say so all the time.
I took him to my bed.
Shouldn't've started remembering, should I! Knew it was a grave mistake. I was so turned on by him, wanting it all over again so much that I wrestled him face down and brought myself off between his buttocks, too hot to wait for him, worry about what he needed. He didn't say anything, just lay there and let me do it, his face buried in the pillow, head turned away from me. Afterwards, with him lying so still and quiet, I tried to think of something to say to him but the words wouldn't come. Used my mouth to better purpose licking down his back until he was all shiny-clean, then rolled him onto his side and used my hand to bring him off. He had his eyes tight-closed, face scrunched up, and I wanted to kiss him when he came but I hadn't the bottle.
He stayed the night--at least it was getting easier to do that--and in the morning he was all soft and gentle and I nearly opened my fool mouth and said a whole lot of things I oughtn't to because I knew I couldn't mean them.
He can be so bloody disarming.
-- THE END --