They didn't do it very often. Just sometimes. They were busy writing, performing, filming, and they had family obligations and private lives as well. Not a lot of time left over for play.
But they got on well together, enjoyed working with each other, made each other laugh. Everything's always easier when you can laugh together. Comedy brings people closer than anything else, except tragedy. It's a social lubricant, as effective as alcohol and much less prone to unpleasant consequences.
So sometimes, after a day's filming or an evening's recording or a read-through, if they didn't necessarily have to get home right away, if their wives didn't expect them, if there was some quiet place to go, it would happen. Eric would touch him -- a gentle, inquiring touch, not blatant, not excessive, an I've-got-time-have-you? kind of touch. Generally on the arm, lingering just long enough that he'd understand it wasn't accidental, but not too long to be noticed by the others. Or, if they happened to be sitting next to each other at a table, on the thigh, out of everyone else's line of vision. It would be a longer touch then, Eric's hand resting on him, maybe even stroking him lightly, until Michael covered it with his own and gave it a promising squeeze.
They would go somewhere -- his car, Eric's car, a dressing room, a backstage closet -- wherever seemed feasible. It was seldom anywhere with a bed, but then, they didn't really need a bed. Sometimes they didn't get off, either. Eric had been known to touch him when they were both so exhausted they knew neither of them could even get it up. You might think this would be pointless. They would have thought so too, once. But it transpired, to their surprise and perhaps consternation, that sometimes it was worth it for the touching alone.
It was that way this time, in Eric's car. Michael was tired, though not really exhausted, comfortably satisfied with a long day's filming, looking forward to a good supper and an equally good night's sleep. Eric, though, had had more to do on the location shots that day, more physical exertion. He'd been tired enough to rest his head ever so briefly on Michael's shoulder, just before they wrapped for the day, and yawn. But not too tired to refrain from touching Michael's arm, the asking touch, while he did it.
So they left, saying they were going for a bite to eat before coming back for Mike's car and heading home. Instead, Eric drove down a winding country lane, away from the manor house where the filming was taking place, away from the little village and its little pub, between quiet fields and hedges, and cautiously off the road, bumping over a vague, rough path into a grove of trees. Here he cut the engine. Its rattle died, and in its place came the song of evening swallows and the hum of insects. Michael looked out the window. They were completely surrounded by trees, shrubs, undergrowth. The sun hung precariously at the horizon.
He looked back at Eric, and smiled. "Nice place."
Eric smiled too. "Just you, me, and England's green and pleasant land."
They climbed out of the front seat and into the back seat. There wasn't much room there either, but at least there was no gear stick to prod them. He hugged Eric first, and sighed as he felt Eric's arms go round him in response. It was amazing, really, how good those little touches could feel.
Eric kissed his neck, and Michael sighed again. He tugged gently at Eric's shirt, freeing it from his trousers, and ran his hands underneath, over Eric's warm back. He found the tiny raised mole just to the right of the left shoulder blade, and rubbed it with his thumb. Eric laughed quietly, and stroked Mike's own back, through his clothes.
"Tired?" Eric asked him in a whisper.
Michael nodded, rubbing his roughening jaw lightly against Eric's. "You?"
"Mmm," Eric replied, whether affirmatively or out of simple pleasure at the close contact, Michael wasn't sure. But he could feel Eric's fatigue in the muscles beneath his fingers.
He moved his hands up, into Eric's hair. He stroked it, petted it, combed it untidily with his fingers. Eric pulled back from him a bit and watched him, the blue eyes roaming over his face and down to his lips. He raised a hand and traced Michael's mouth before leaning in and pushing it gently open with his.
They kissed very slowly. There didn't seem to be any hurry. They were drowsy and relaxed, and the sun's angle was low and no one knew where they were, and no one expected them to be anywhere in particular.
When the kiss ended, Eric buried his face against Michael's neck and sighed. "Wish we had a joint. I'd love to get high right now."
Mike laughed. "Good spot for it. So peaceful." He closed his eyes and touched his lips to Eric's ear. "Good company, too."
Eric nodded, smiling against Michael's skin. Mike pulled back and looked at Eric's mouth, and kissed him again.
When he drew back, Eric licked his lips slowly. Then he said, "I let a bloke fuck me once."
Michael blinked. He and Eric had never done more than stroke each other to orgasm, or rub against each other until they climaxed. He had thought, often, how Eric's mouth might feel on his cock, but he had never asked for it, or for anything else.
Eric nodded, his eyes not leaving Mike's. "When I was in the -- at school."
"Why?" Michael whispered.
Eric shrugged. "He was about two years older than me. He was always, you know, touching me. Said I was beautiful. I thought he was mad, but fuck knows nobody else had ever called me beautiful."
Michael was fascinated. "Did you love him?"
The light was fading, but he could see Eric's cheeks redden. "Jesus, no. I don't know why I did it, really. I wasn't drunk or anything. We were in his room, and he just -- he just kept saying that. That I was beautiful. And he kissed me. I mean, I'd never even been kissed before. I couldn't believe he was doing it, but -- well, I do like kissing." He laughed shortly. "After that, I just let him."
"How old were you?"
"Fifteen, just." Eric glanced away. "Look, I'm only telling you this because..." He trailed off into silence, then looked down and ran a hand gently up Mike's thigh. "I mean, it's okay." His voice was very soft. "You know, if you ever want to."
Michael looked down at Eric's hand, and then back up at the top of his head. He couldn't see Eric's expression.
"All right," he said, with quiet wonder. "Sometime."
Eric said nothing, and Mike reached for him, pulling him close. "It's nice just like this, though," he whispered. "Isn't it?"
Eric sighed, his breath fanning Michael's ear. "Yeah, it is." He pushed a stray lock of hair away from Mike's cheek, and rested his lips there for a long moment.
Michael rubbed Eric's back. "'Specially when you're tired."
Eric laughed softly. "Want to know something? I'm so bloody worn out you might have to drive back. Unless you fancy winding up in a ditch."
"Right," Michael said with a smile, and was starting to open the door when Eric hauled him back.
"Not yet, not yet." He cupped Michael's face in his hands. "Let's have a bit more of this first." He stroked Mike's cheekbones slowly, and leaned toward him. Michael closed his eyes, and met Eric's lips with his.
He did drive back, picking his way carefully out of the thicket and over the now barely visible path, and then humming smoothly over the quiet road under the purpling sky with a fat yellow moon rising in the east. He didn't go back to the shooting site for his car. He'd take Eric home and get a cab from there. He could catch a ride with someone else back to work in the morning.
He yawned and turned the radio on, very softly. The Stones' "Moonlight Mile" was playing, and it made him smile.
He glanced at Eric, slumped against the door beside him, sound asleep, the moon shining on his hair. He was beautiful.