Porter Nash didn't believe in ghosts. If he felt haunted, it was by his actions against the living rather than his misdeeds towards the dead. There were days, though, that made his head spin on its axis, made him question his decidedly rational way of looking at the world, and wonder if perhaps ghosts, spirits, and demons did in fact walk the earth, with the sole purpose of biting the arrogance of humanity in the arse from time to time.
This was one of those days.
Nash doused his face with tap water three times and rubbed roughly at his eyes and cheeks. He took in three deep breaths, before daring to meet his eyes in the mirror of the men's room.
“You’re losing it, Nash,” he muttered to himself. “Completely bloody losing it.”
Nash rubbed his hand over his face again. No, come on, he told himself, that wasn’t it. This wasn’t anything really, really bad. Just very discombobulating.
He took another few deep gasps, until the thought came to him that it had nearly been Brant who’d come over to New Scotland Yard. Nash pictured all too clearly how Brant would have reacted, and the vision of the ensuing chaos at least made him chuckle a little. Whatever the outcome of today, he’d at least have a ‘you wouldn’t bloody believe it?’ story to share with Brant, something they could laugh ruefully about for a few months.
Nash snatched up some paper towel and dried his face. He murmured ‘get a grip’ a couple of times to himself in the mirror. Finally, knowing he couldn't stall any longer, he threw the towel away and walked as steady as he could, despite the fact that the spot of tension in his chest that threw itself into his body when he first entered the place, back towards the mortuary where DI Tom Thorne and pathologist Phil Hendricks were waiting.
Hendricks stood with his arms crossed and one eyebrow went up when Nash entered. Not looking Hendricks directly in the eye, Nash said he’d not been feeling well, apologising for dashing out like that.
Thorne regarded Nash with concern. “You right to go on?”
Nash nodded, firmly. “Yeah, not a problem.”
“The formaldehyde a bit too strong for you, DI Nash? Or is it the bloodied and battered body that's getting to you?”
Nash hadn’t heard Hendricks speak when they’d first been introduced; probably because he’d been out of the mortuary before Hendricks had the chance. So his strong voice, softly accented with Irish tones, came as a surprise. Nash blinked, head jerking in Hendricks’ direction.
“Just a sudden turn, that’s all.”
Hendricks nodded, but his lip threatened to curl up with contempt. Nash really couldn’t blame the bloke, for Nash looked away as fast as possible, still unwilling to meet his eyes or allow his gaze to linger for too long on Hendricks’ face. He could have eaten the relief in the air when, at Thorne’s prompting, Hendricks began talking over Swales’ body.
Hendricks moved over the cadaver with a practical elegance. He traversed the entirety of Swales, revealing to Nash and Thorne each bruise, each cut, graze, gash, and wound that Swales had received in the brutal beating that had killed him.
“The fatal blow,” Hendricks explained, “was here, to the back of his skull.” Long gloved fingers lifted Swales' head, revealing a gaping hole. “It's the impact of him falling, though, not from a weapon. I found traces of the wood that I suspect we'll find came from the floorboards in the house.”
“Couldn't the wood particles have just gathered there after some guy hit him?” Thorne asked.
Hendricks shook his head. “The fracture is consistent with a fall; if it were a blow it would be much deeper. Besides, he was found on his back. A strike from behind, he'd have been lying prone.”
Nash nodded. He was following Hendricks voice closely, focusing on the confidence of it, letting the sounds that held no maniacal tendencies or arrogant posturing soothe the wretched lump of tension in his chest. His eyes honed in on the parts of Hendricks that marked him as unique, unlike any other; the chains glinting at the back of his neck before vanishing under the long sleeved t-shirt he wore under the scrubs, or the tattoos on the bare parts of his arms. As Hendricks spoke, Nash either looked at the wound he was pointing to, or marked out the patterns of ink with his eyes.
Only at one point Nash felt compelled by sheer politeness to look at Hendricks' face, and when he did, he was able to look past his face and at his right ear instead. There was a hoop of what looked like hematite, not through the lobe but looping around the cartilage about half way down. In the little point where his cheek ended and his ear began, there was a small black stud, spiked out a little.
The voice, the tats, the piercing, the sheer fact of Hendricks having an actual, proper existence beyond slouching his way through life, waiting for the world to give him what he thought was his due, it all began to add up in Nash's mind, and allowed him to know that this was not a ghost.
Still, he only met Hendricks' eyes very briefly and shook his hand with a single, weak pump before he and Thorne left.
“Glad I could help,” Hendricks called out to them. Nash didn't have to turn around to know Hendricks didn't mean it, and was no doubt sneering.
He sensed Thorne's irritation too. From the easy way they'd spoken to each other, Nash had guessed that Thorne and Hendricks were friends.
And he'd just gone and behaved like a right twat to him. Well done, Nash thought to himself. Very well done indeed.
When at last they were back in the HQ at New Scotland Yard, Thorne seemed to have let his irritation go. “Let's get on with it,” Thorne said. “See what else we can find out about Swales' associates. You got the records from your office?”
Nash had the files on hand, and then with the team, they settled down to work.
What had begun as a series gangland crimes in the South East had turned into a murder investigation taken on by New Scotland Yard when the body of Eric Swales, one of the gang enforcers, had been discovered in an abandoned building a mere three streets away from the Yard itself. As the senior officer gathering up evidence for the South East, Nash had been contacted to provide any information he had on Swales to the team headed by Tom Thorne.
“Another Tom, ay?” Brant had said as Nash had left that morning to see the body. Brant was not joining Nash on the trip into town, as he was out 'gathering evidence'; that of course was a euphemism for 'knocking heads together to get the bastards to squawk.'
Not that Nash would have any trouble keeping the two Tom's apart. Brant was all muscle and grunt, one kind of good copper, while Thorne was a great investigator. Intuitive, risk-taking, but he managed to keep his fists down and made use of forensics and evidence in ways that Brant was only just managing to come to grips with; amongst their several sworn secrets was the fact that Brant was taking a course on what Brant called the uses and abuses of databases – in the West End, as far from the South East as fucking possible, and if Nash breathed a word of it to anyone, Brant would rip him a new arsehole.
Nash, who was starting to learn to give as good as he got, particularly where Brant was concerned, had deadpanned, “Double the fun, then.”
Brant wasn't often taken by surprise, so the stunned mullet look that lasted for a good ten seconds had been worth Brant’s (albeit affectionate) retort of “You sick fucker.”
Besides, Nash had been called worse, and by worse men at that.
Nash spotted the tension between Thorne and Tughan immediately, recognising the dick waving contest, though it was mostly coming from Tughan. That said, Tughan kept it under wraps and didn't let it affect the case, and while it kept them all up late into the evening, it only took them a day to have an arrest and a bloke in custody, lawyering up but with a neat little pile of evidence that would have him plea bargaining or crying in the dock. It was a small dent into the gangs, one that Brant probably would have shaken his head at, but for Nash it was wonderfully satisfying. Days like that, after the frenzied times with Brant, seemed otherworldly, stark in their efficiency. Yet it was exactly the kind of day in his professional life that Nash lived for; everything neatly tied up in a box with a perfect ribbon finish.
After the paperwork had been written up, and he and Thorne shaken hands and were sitting in a bar for a quick pint, Nash found the moment to ask the question that he wondered might solve part of the new mystery that had arisen.
“You’re not related to a journalist named Harold Dunlop by any chance?”
Thorne groaned and rolled his eyes. “Oh God, that hack. No, I’m not, but it’s come up before.” Then he turned sharply to Nash. “He a friend of yours?”
“Ha! More like the bane of our existence in the South East until recently.”
“Thank God, thought I was out of line for a moment. No, he’s not related, thank Christ. Written some utter crap about our coppers here. Same with you?”
“He used to have it in particularly for the South East.” Nash paused, allowing himself to relish the next thought before saying it. “Then there was this dog attack – him, two of them, pretty nasty, and he's been...rather quiet since.”
Thorne sniggered. “Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.”
Nash waited a moment before he said, “He was the one on the Blitz case.” He knew Brant would hate him for referring to it as such; it gave Weiss the infamy he'd craved. But the name, Nash knew, was the one that stuck in everyone else's mind. He think he preferred that, in a way, to everyone knowing Barry Weiss's.
Nash watched Thorne's expression shift three times, and he read each one of them. The first was the one that took in the information, a thoughtful the nod. The second was the first realisation of what Nash was saying, and the third, the total dawning of comprehension of what Nash had been thinking when he first saw Thorne, and then Hendricks, hours earlier.
“Jesus Christ. So this morning...when you...and then Phil...Fuck!”
“Yeah, that's about right,” Nash said. “So you saw the similarity?”
“Most of us did. I think several people gave Phil a wide berth for a couple of weeks. Even after they found...what was the arsehole's name again?”
Nash swallowed, hoping Thorne wouldn't linger on this next subject for too long. “Barry Weiss.”
“Yeah. After he was killed.” A smirk. “Bet you lot threw all your weight to try and get that one solved.”
Equally as dry, Nash said, “Raised an army.”
Thorne shook his head, bemused, and he ordered another drink, which Nash politely declined to join him in.
“I was wondering why the hell you were such a...well, sorry for saying it, twat, to Phil this morning.”
Nash bent his head to his hand, a flood of embarrassment rushing over him. “God, he must think I'm a wanker.”
“I know he thinks you're a wanker. Or rather a twat. Got a text from him about half an hour after.”
Thorne pulled out his phone so Nash could see it, and Nash read it with good grace.
Hope that twat isn't a pain in the arse to work with! - P
Thorne was about to put the phone away when Nash said, “Would you mind my borrowing your phone or giving me his number? I owe him an apology.”
Thorne glanced at his watch. “I'd give you his number, but there's a good chance he's working late; gets things done Thursday so he can head out on Friday guilt-free.”
The lump formed in Nash's chest again. He knew where this was going. “You think so?”
Thorne took a long sip of his lager. “Something like that is better said in person.”
Nash sighed, but asked if that offer of a second drink still stood. He ordered a shot of whiskey, and downed it fast.
As Phil signed off on the paperwork on Swales, he rolled his eyes, thinking of the fucking awkward encounter earlier that morning.
When DI Nash had entered the morgue, Phil had done what he always did when he saw a decent looking fella whose sexuality he wasn’t sure about; he’d raised his eyebrows, and smirked. It made him look cocky, he knew, rather than overtly flirtatious, and usually gave him enough time to give the guy the once-over before he had a chance to notice what Phil was doing.
This was the first time, though, that the fella had blanched, looked at Phil like he was some dreadful spectre from the seventh circle of hell, coughed out an ‘excuse me’ and dashed from the morgue with an ‘I’m about to hurl’ expression.
“What the fuck?” Phil had said, looking at Tom for an explanation. Tom had just looked perplexed, so they'd bantered a little about something else until Nash came back, looking not much better, and now refusing to look Phil in the eye.
Typical bloody cop, Phil thought, closing the folder and flopping it on the files to be sent to CID. Pathologists to most of them were a necessary but irksome part of the job; all science, little about intuition that detective and policing work required. Nash, Phil figured, was just another one of them.
Well, not entirely.
It only took a few minutes into the examination for Phil to know that Nash was gay. There was a precision in the way he flicked his fingers, an exactness when he spoke (what little he did speak). His clothes, though conservative, were designed as if to flatter his long limbs, and his hair cut enhanced the slenderness of his face. He had that look of being very serious, dour even, with slightly droopy eyes held up by an studious posture.
It all could have meant nothing, but Phil knew his gaydar was pretty well tuned. Nash probably did a good job passing, and God knows, not matter where he worked in the Met, coppers weren't kind to their gay brethren.
Didn't make him less of a wanker. Even if he was attractive in that imperious, lord of the manor kind of way.
Then the said imperious wanker appeared at his office door. Phil didn't show his surprised irritation, but twirled his pen around his finger and leaned back in his chair.
“Can I help you, DI Nash?” Phil made sure his tone conveyed he really wasn't interested in helping.
Nash pressed his lips together. At least now he had the courtesy to look directly at Phil. Actually, now his eyes seemed unable to move from Phil's at all. Maybe he was just a bit strange?
“Do you have a moment, Mr Hendricks?”
Mr Hendricks. Phil smirked at that. “Phil's fine. Is it about the case?”
“Not exactly. I promise it won't take a moment, and I'll be gone after that.”
His hands, long and elegant, came up in an almost beseeching manner. It was kind of sweet, so Phil nodded, and Nash came right up to his desk. The scent of after-work-drinks wafted in with him. Case must have gone well with him and Tom.
“So...” Phil prompted.
“Okay. It goes without saying that I behaved...a bit strangely this morning, and frankly, it was down right rude of me, and probably gave you a very poor impression of me.”
Got that in one, sunshine, Phil thought, but didn't speak, waiting to see what else Nash had to say.
“And the only explanation I can give is going to make it sound worse, but DI Thorne reckons you'll be able to handle it...”
Phil chuckled at that.
“...so it's this. I was head of the Blitz case a few months back, and--”
And Phil understood exactly now what had happened that morning. He dropped the pen, slammed his desk with his palm, threw his head back, and laughed.
Phil remembered very well when the picture of the number one suspect was released. His colleagues who had seen the news had looked at him with startled eyes for a good few days, and trips to CID to talk through reports resulted in coppers giving him a wider berth than usual. To his great amusement, a couple of perplexed plods from the South East had made the effort of coming to the mortuary to see him and make sure he wasn't that shit-for-brains Barry Weiss, and to just be absolutely sure, they'd followed up each of his alibis for the times of the murders. The news that the bastard was dead had delighted the Met and the rest of Phil's colleagues, while Phil had just shaken his head and been grateful he could now go about his business without the association hanging over him, and then, within two weeks, it was all behind them.
Then today happened.
“Oh fucking hell, you poor bastard! What the hell were you thinking when you got a look at me?”
Phil looked back at Nash, still chuckling, but he stopped when he saw Nash's ashen, stony face.
Then Phil had a think about it. Bugger. “You knew some of them, the cops that were killed?”
“Not personally, but my colleagues did. The young kid whose neck he snapped was a good friend of one our PCs, too.”
You're a right fucking genius, Phil, he told himself. “Shit. Sorry. I didn't think...that was...insensitive of me.”
Phil glanced away. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that Nash was again looking ill at ease.
Phil tried to make up for it, and said, voice even, “Must have been a shock, walking into the mortuary and seeing Barry Weiss, back from the dead.”
Suddenly, Nash chuckled. Phil turned to him sharply, watching as Nash's hand went to his mouth as if to block the sound, eyes cast down shyly.
“Sorry...dead...mortuary...you didn't mean it that way, I know, but...”
Watching Nash now, how he was so clearly trying to keep contained and in control of himself but failing to do so, brought a tiny smile to Phil's lips. It was more than a little sweet; it was kind of hot.
Nash took a deep breath, and looked back at Phil, and in an instant the merriment disappeared from his face, leaving that steady serious expression which seemed to be his default. Phil knew then that it was a barrier, one carefully put up over years of taunts, ridicule and hazing that Phil too had been slapped with. There was, though, something more to it, Phil could see that.
And now Phil wanted to get back to the other side of it.
“So,” Nash said, “what I wanted to say was that although it was going on in my mind, it still doesn't excuse me from acting the way I did, so if you can, please accept my apology.”
Nash's hand came out, a peace offering. Phil stood, and grasped hold of it. He met Nash's serious eyes, and gave a strong pump.
Nash's began to smile, and he started to pull back. Phil wasn't ready to let go quite just yet.
“Though it you really want to make it up to me, you can buy me a drink.”
Nash stopped moving away, and his mouth didn't quite make the smile. He looked surprised instead.
“Sure...when were you thinking?”
Phil pulled back, and went over to get his coat. “Now? You've already started the night, why stop?”
Nash nodded. “Ok. We could go back to the Bear where DI Thorne--”
“I was thinking of the White Stag in Soho.”
Phil waited for Nash's reaction. Nash blinked once, cocked his head a little. Phil locked onto his gaze, trying to search out the usual signs of connection, of understanding that, however unlike two queer blokes might be, they at least had that in common.
When at last the shift behind Nash's came, it was barely perceptible. A flicker, a mere moment of 'yes, I know.' And as good as his gaydar was, Phil was relieved that he was right.
It was confirmed when Nash said, “That's the one across from the Firebrand, isn't it?”
“Ah, you know it. Good.” Phil slipped into his coat. “Lead on, MacDuff.”
Phil started. “What?”
“It's 'lay on, MacDuff.' ” Nash shrugged. “One of those things that gets misquoted all the time. Small bugbear.”
Ah-huh, Phil thought. Pedantic too. “Right...'lay on', DI Nash.”
Nash bowed his head, and Phil followed his lanky form out of the office.
Nash kept a close eye on Phil on the tube ride to the White Stag. Mostly because he was a little annoyed that he hadn't noticed or even suspected about Phil. It was apparent now, but how he had missed it...
Well, he'd missed it because he'd been focusing on Phils tatts and jewelry so he didn't have to be reminded of Weiss. So the suggestion for the White Stag had tripped him up, but not in an entirely unpleasant way. Those moments of mutual recognition gave Nash a lovely sense of peace and calm, something missing from most other aspects of his life.
They settled at a small table at the back of the pub, Phil with a bottle of Heineken and Nash with a pale ale. Nash carefully sipped at his while Phil took a long swig.
“So this psycho, Weiss,” Phil said. “He really looked like me?”
Nash sighed, but answered the question anyway. “A lot, yes.”
“Weird. Some long lost relation. Urgh, what a thought.”
Phil shook his head in a shuddering gesture. It tossed his hair a little, revealing more flicks of gray. Weiss's had been entirely brown, and it Nash recalled rightly, not particularly clean. Phil had hair that would entice many a hand to touch it.
Nash said, mostly because he thought it would amuse Phil, “It didn't help either that DI Thorne looks a lot like the journalist involved in the case.”
“Tom too? Jesus. You woke up this morning thinking it was gonna be a day catching crooks and it turns into an episode of the Twilight Zone.”
Phil smirked. A vision of Weiss's head snapping backwards as Brant's bullet pierced his skull shot through Nash's mind. A sensation like a snake coiling in his chest made Nash shift back, away from Phil.
“Yeah...if it's alright with you, I'd rather not talk about Weiss anymore.”
Phil nodded. “Sure.” He made a gesture like throwing away something in the bin. “Leave him dead and buried. So...what then?”
Nash, who had never been good at casual chatter, had to think for a moment, before going for probably the most mundane topic he could imagine and asked Phil about his work.
The conversation proceeded fairly normally after that. Still, flashes of Weiss kept resurfacing. Nash did his best to shove them aside. He tried everything he had done that morning; he honed in on Phil's voice, accent and speaking pattern so different for Weiss's Sarf London whine, watched his gesticulations (Phil talked with his hands a lot, though his expressive was decisive rather than fey). Watching his moving hands allowed Nash to examine his rings, and from there, his tapered fingers, cleanly scrubbed, the knotted leather wrist band and heavy chain, and further up his arms to his tattoos.
Inked skin had never held much appeal for Nash. It brought to mind hairy bikers, leathermen, or worse, members of the National Front. The ones that Phil bore, on the other hand, had a tribal grace and touch of artistry, from the fish bone-like patterns on his right forearm, to the blocks of red and black on his upper left bicep that suggested a crazy clown face.
It was apparent that Phil worked hard at his job, and loved doing it. That he was upfront about what he felt and firm in his opinions. That he sometimes missed Dublin but liked the London party life too much to really consider moving back. That he was a fidgeter, knee bouncing, arms folding and unfolding, finger pointing when he was making sure his own point was getting across.
As the night wore on, and they had more drinks, the image Weiss slowly dissipated, and by the end of it, Nash was able to look at Phil Hendricks and see him, just him, and not his dead doppelganger.
By which point, Nash rather liked what he saw.
Phil was never especially shy about flirting, though he wasn't as brash and cocky as some of the fellas in the clubs like the Firebrand. Why spend the night looking coy and hoping the guy would look your way? If Phil wanted someone, he made it pretty clear to them from the start, and could deal with a knock back by shrugging and moving on.
With Nash, though, he saw he would have to take a little more care.
Phil had recognised the moment that he must have done something that brought this fucker Weiss to mind (God knows what...), for Nash drew back as if bitten by a snake. Phil had cheerfully dropped the subject of Weiss. Part of him was still intrigued (who wouldn't be?) but not enough to make Nash anymore uncomfortable.
As conversation turned over that surface level getting to know you stuff (work, where you live, how long, blah blah), slowly, bit by bit, Nash started to edge back to the table. Each shift forward pleased Phil immensely, though he held back. He kept his usual tactile approach, where he would have had his hand on Nash's arm or given his chin (with that sexy dimple) a pinch, in check.
Phil did most of the talking, but that wasn't unusual. Despite his outward reserve, Nash was forthright when he spoke, direct and to the point. He used few rhetorical flourishes, and didn't really laugh at Phil's attempts at humour (though Phil detected the bare hints of a smile a few times). Yet he drew closer and closer, looking at Phil quite intently. Phil relished the attention, and he too, and without shame, examined Nash, charmed by his exact movements, the way he ran his finger tips along his pint glass, catching the condensation and flicking it away with a meticulous motion. The white shirt he wore drew Phil's attention to his torso, and Phil wondered how Nash's lean body would look with fewer clothes.
When both of Nash's arms were bracing the table, Phil propped his own elbows up, looked into Nash's eyes.
“So, Nash, do you have a first name?”
Phil rolled his hand forward, a prompting gesture. “And it is...”
Nash took a sip of his ale before saying, a touch bemused, “Porter.”
Phil did his best not to laugh. No, there really wasn't a better one. “I see...no wonder everyone calls you Nash.”
“Well, my parents don't. It was my great-grandfather's name.”
Then he smiled, just a little, fondly, and Phil had to bite his lip to ease the bubbling sensations in his stomach.
“My sister calls me Portly.”
Raking his eyes over Nash's slender body, Phil asked, “Were you a chubby kid?”
Nash chuckled. “No, it wasn't that. Wind in the Willows.”
“The kids book? Never read it, but I know it – Mole, Rat and Toad and all that?”
“Yes. Portly, he's not a main character, he's Otter son. He wanders off one day, and Mole and Rat go up the River to find him – ”
“ – and bring him back home in time for tea?” Phil finished.
It was one of those moments that Phil still occasionally had, even after years of being in England, of feeling very Irish, and a little rough. Images of manicured gardens and genteel layer trays of scones and cucumber sandwiches came to him, and Nash, with a sister calling out 'Portly, dear!' over the croquet lawn, perched in a white suit and and sipping tea from a delicate china cup with his little finger in the air.
Phil started to sigh. A posh, prissy queen was the last thing he wanted.
Until Nash made a wry face, and hammed up his accent to the max. “It's all terribly proper and English, really.”
Phil's ensuing laugh was one of relief as well as genuine amusement. Thank God. Fears that Nash took himself too serious began to fall away, and were completely shattered when Nash added, “To tell you the truth, I always thought that Mole and Rat were shagging.”
Phil almost choked on his drink. “That was not the image I ever had of that book. Ok, I never read the book, but...thanks Nash. Scar my memory of childhood idyll, and pass me the brain bleach.”
Then Nash, at long bloody last, smiled widely. Phil's insides began to crumple, and he wanted to reach across the table, grab Nash's tie and haul him into a kiss.
He chose a subtler approach. Phil leaned forward, and trailed his fingertips across the polished wood, just inches from Nash's arms. Nash didn't urged back from him, but he didn't move any closer either.
Nash said nothing for a moment, and then finished off his drink. “It's getting late. I'd probably better go.”
Damn it, Phil thought.
“Yeah. It is.” Phil leaned back, twined his fingers together. He knew it had gone well, damn well knew it. So he asked Nash if he was busy tomorrow night.
“Nothing in mind. Why?”
“Do you want to do this again?”
Nash's eyes shifted away briefly, “Do you?”
What the fuck do you think, idiot? Phil thought, but said instead, “I wouldn't ask otherwise.”
Nash seemed a little surprised, and he eyes shifted away briefly. Jesus, Phil thought, I can't have been reading that so bloody wrong.
“Yes. Yes, I would.”
Phil smiled, knowing he looked like an idiot for it but not caring, and Nash gave him a shy look, before standing up, and shaking Phil's hand goodnight.
No goodnight kiss, not even a peck on the cheek. Phil grumbled to himself about that on his bus ride home, but by the time he reached his door, decided that the waiting might actually be fun. Besides, he'd come closer to getting back to that embarrassed giggle from the office, to the hidden softness behind the armour. Another night, and Phil was sure he'd have the outer shell, as well as all of Nash's clothes, completely off.
Often, of a Friday, Nash and Brant sat in the booth of the pub that had been Brant and Roberts' old haunt, poitín in hand, sometimes saying a little, other times saying a lot. Indoor smoking might have been banned, but a few patrons didn't heed to this, the bartenders didn't enforce it, and neither Brant nor Nash were going to do anything about it.
That night, Nash left work early to go home, shower, and put on something a little less somber than his work clothes. Brant had given him a quizzical look, to which Nash had very calmly said he had other plans. If Brant caught on to what they were, he didn't show it.
Nash washed quickly and ate two sandwiches while he dried off. He'd already decided at work what shirt he would wear – collar, blue with pin stripes, but fitted. Once dressed, he checked himself over carefully in the mirror, fixing his hair repeatedly, wanting each strand to be perfectly placed. He found himself envying Phil's mop, which probably just needed fluffing up and a toss in the wind to give it that dashing look.
And indeed, when he saw Phil, that's exactly what it looked like; dashing. Even in tight jeans, which Nash fully enjoyed looking at as they entered the White Stag again, where they sat at exactly the same table as the night before.
Until he slipped his jacket off when they were back in the White Stag, at exactly the same table, revealing a tight white t-shirt with a print of barbed wire piercing roses.
No longer dashing, but rather, stunning. Nash ignored the stirrings in his groin.
“Right,” Phil said after returning with drinks. “Tonight we don't talk work, Barry Weiss, or any other policing or science bollocks. Agreed?”
“Suits me,” Nash said, watching the platforms of everyday conversation that kept him steady drift away. Now it was going to get, as the kids liked to say, 'real.'
Luckily, Phil had no problem keeping things flowing.
The conversation ebbed from everything and anything – music, the weather, the last place they'd been on holidays (“Holidays? What are those?” Nash joked), the last film they'd seen at the cinema (“Avoid it if I can – screaming kids and crap on the floor,” Phil said), what they did when they weren't at work. Nash realised, listening to Phil, just how much he'd thrown himself into his job, because the idea of having any kind of hobby beyond the occasional night at the orchestra was rather foreign to him. Even after the Holland Park pedophile, after Nash had crawled under the covers not to emerge for a good week, and he'd reclaimed some sense of perspective on his life, work was still the focus. He'd just learned to keep the distance between himself and it a little better.
Yet here was Phil, who loved his job but didn't live for it. Who, despite dissecting the dead everyday, still managed to laugh at life. He was unabashed about his interests, and Nash was fascinated. While Nash had never gotten into the clubbing scene, talking to Phil, he understood why someone would.
The previous night Nash had spent examining the parts of Phil that marked him as his own man, not a copy of Weiss. Tonight, though, Nash drank in the expanse of Phil's face and body. And where he'd had so much trouble yesterday being able to look properly at Phil, tonight he found himself unable to look away.
Why was another matter entirely. To say Phil wasn't his usual type was an understatement. Usually it was the sharply dressed ones that caught his eye, with close cropped hair and a cocktail in their hand. The blokes with the thick jewelry and tattoos normally passed his attention unnoticed, or, he had to admit, with a hint of contempt for what Nash often saw as simply showing off.
He couldn't, however, imagine Phil without any of the adornments. Nor did he want to.
They were on their third drink when Phil started to act a little giddy. He began telling Nash about Tom Thorne. Phil mostly called him a stupid bastard, but it was patently clear to Nash that Phil cared about him.
“You're not in love with him, are you?” Nash teased.
Phil spluttered. “Jesus Christ, no! Ok, he's got that tall, dashing thing going on, but he's straight. Like, what about Brant? You fancy him?”
The thought of Brant in any intimate position made Nash's eyes water in the worst possible way. “Brant would rip my head off and shove it where the sun don't shine if I ever tried anything, so no.”
“He a homophobe, then?”
“Ah, you know how it is. 'Fine with me, mate, but don't go looking at my arse.'” Nash would never tell Brant, but he had given him the cursory once over. His arse wasn't his best feature.
Phil rolled his eyes. “Charming.”
Indeed, but Nash was still compelled to defend Brant. “He respects me though. And as strange as it might sound, he's a good colleague.” He was also the keeper of Nash's worst secrets. But Nash didn't mention that. He did add, “And he's got a bit of Irish in him, that's got to count for something.”
Phil chuckled. “Yeah, can't be all bad then. So, we've established that we're not in stupidly infatuated with the straight fellas we work with, in which case, are you, in fact, single?”
Single was Nash's default state of being. To Phil he said, “Yes, I am. And yourself?”
“And yourself...so polite.” Nash didn't mind the gentle ribbing. “Yeah, me too. About the only thing we've really got in common, right?”
Perhaps, Nash thought, but as far as he was concerned, whether Phil preferred the Stones over Shostakovitch, or Queer as Folk over Edmund White, wasn't really the point. There were so many other aspects that made a relationship work. The last bloke he'd seen had ticked all the right boxes on paper in terms of interests, but was a financial lawyer whose sympathies lay firmly with his wealthy colleagues rather than the poor sods who bore the brunt of the 2008 crash. It took the appeal out of Sunday morning breakfasts when the bloke opposite the table from you was complaining about share prices of British American Tobacco.
Phil continued. “So I reckon, with that in mind, we just cut the talk now and I take you home.”
Desperately, Nash tried to conceal his disappointment. So fucking typical...Nash started to give his standard response ('I'd rather wait, let's get to know each other better'), but he hadn't opened his mouth when Phil's smile snapped away and he was pulling back.
“Sorry. My mistake.”
And to Nash's even greater horror, Phil stood up to leave.
The entire collection of Phil's colourful metaphors ran through his mind, some directed at Nash, but mostly directed at him for being so fucking clueless in misreading the situation.
Phil recalled his first rejection. 14, and he'd made a pass at the Head Boy, Brendan Monahan, naked in the locker room. Brendan hadn't sneered, hadn't take a swing at him, hadn't done anything like that, but had, politely but firmly, said no, that wasn't his thing. (Complete lie, of course – Phil saw him in one of Dublin's trendiest gay bars about ten years later, and had laughed till tears spilled out his eyes to see Brendan with his tongue down some pretty boy's throat.) He'd felt so fucking stupid, though Brendan had been nice about it.
Fellas like Nash usually made Phil feel like an overgrown kid. Like they would either pat him on the head like a puppy, or sniff at what they deemed his gauche manner. He kept expecting Nash to do that, thinking that it was about to come, that suddenly Nash would look at him like he was something at the bottom of his shoe. But that hadn't happened. Nash had smiled, and chuckled, and his chest had been turned firmly towards Phil all night.
And then that look in his eye when Phil had opened his fucking mouth.
Should have known better, Hendricks. Should have bloody well known better.
Nash was following him out of the White Stag. Why, Phil didn't know. Or care. Except for the fact he did care but wasn't going to let Nash see it.
Phil turned around, shaking his head. “Look, this was fun, we had a few laughs, but it's fine, I get it. We've got bugger all in common apart from damn whatisface, we listen to different music, dance to a different beat, and you're decided that I'm not all that, so let's forget it and just say it was fun for a bit, shake hands and go.”
Nash cocked his head. “You think that's what's going on?” He even sounded a little offended.
Phil nodded, more vigorously than was needed. “Yeah. That's exactly what's going on.”
“Well, it isn't.” Nash's voice was firm.
Phil soften, but only a little, still. “Then what was that back there?”
Nash sighed, and turned away. His expression was apologetic, and Phil waited for him to speak.
“Look, I...I have never really been about jumping into bed as soon as you can. It's just so...expected. And...I was hoping that it wasn't going to go like that.”
The honesty in Nash's words startled Phil. The word 'hope' in particular gave Phil his own back, but he found he couldn't speak, and instead was reduced to shuffling from foot to foot and finding the concrete below fascinating.
Nash stepped closer to Phil. Phil saw that Nash's shoes were polished and shiny, and he felt conscious of his somewhat scuffed brown ones.
Nash said, very quietly, “I actually think you're very nice.”
Now Phil looked up, right into Nash's gaze. It was sincere, but sincere could be deceiving. Nash was so close to him now Phil could sense the heat of his body, smell his aftershave and beer. It all sent a shimmering thrill through Phil's chest. But he wasn't backing down just yet.
“Nice?” He sniffed, adding, “Nice is a biscuit.”
Nash nodded. “Alright.” Then he reached up, cupping Phil's both cheeks, an act which brought his intense gaze right next to Phil's, and made Phil inhale deeply and tighten his legs to keep him standing upright.
“I think you're lovely.”
Phil swallowed. He opened his mouth to speak...but Nash leaned in, and covered it with his lips.
Once Phil regained some sense of being beyond the tingling of his lips, his eye lids fluttered closed, and he grabbed onto Nash, knowing if he didn't hang on his arms would have flailed like a man drowning. Phil's toes could have curled. His left foot was threatening to lift from the ground as his body tried to contain the sheer pleasure that was coursing through him.
All he knew, as Nash pulled away, was that he wasn't going to let go of Nash after that.
Phil's hand snaked down Nash's arm and took hold of his hand. He leaned into Nash's ear and said, “If you won't come home, will you at least come somewhere a little quieter?”
Nash exhaled, breath warming Phil's cheek, and he nodded.
Phil could have punched the air. Until he looked about himself on the busy Soho street. The last thing he wanted to do was drag Nash's refined figure into an alley and press him against the dirty brick wall.
He looked up at the Firebrand. Not there...but right next door, the Ice...it would have to do.
Phil dragged Nash across the street. Nash followed closely behind. His breathing was heavy, which spurned Phil to walk as fast as he could.
The Ice was drenched in stark lighting, but being more a bar than a club, was blessed with a series of booths at the back, where the music was turned down, and afforded a little bit of privacy. It was there that Phil took Nash, pouncing into a booth just in time before another couple got to it.
Phil ignored their mutterings as he turned back to Nash. Nash, whose smooth confidence had nearly render Phil insensible in front of the White Stag, now looked younger and a little unsure.
“Come here,” Phil murmured, and hands on Nash's shoulders, pulled Nash to him for a fierce kiss.
Phil went to clubs more to dance than to pick up, but he'd had a few drunken snogs that sometimes turned into a fun night for all. What he hadn't done though, for years, was make out like a horny teenager. When their mouths weren't locked, Phil whispered into Nash's ear; 'sexy, gorgeous, hot, fit, oh Christ that feels good, Jesus Nash I want you,' all spilled out of Phil's mouth. Nash said little in response, but it didn't matter.
Phil was all over Nash, hands stroking his back, sweeping down his chest, a couple of times under his shirt to feel Nash's sweaty skin. He tried several times to slip his hands between Nash's legs, only to have Nash shift his hand back to Nash's waist. Phil gave up after a while, contenting himself with finding pleasure for what Nash allowed him to touch, and for the occasional rubbing of thigh on denim covered cock.
All the time, Nash lips were working magically on Phil. Nash shifted his kissing from insistent to gentle, and his body, in responding to Phil's touch, either clung to him desperately or curled away shyly. He threaded his fingers into Phil's hair, and didn't let go, bunching it together, pulling it just enough for it to feel good rather than painful. Not that Phil was against a little pain...now and then. But Nash's mouth...it moved with the lovely precision of everything else he did, testing and teasing Phil both delicately and passionately.
So when Nash pulled away, panting and somehow able to stand up, Phil was glad to be seated, else he'd have been a puddle on the floor.
“You're leaving...” Phil breathed, fingers grasping for Nash but unable to hold onto him.
Nash stilled Phil's grasping hands, and brought them between the two of them. Phil was, bizarrely, reminded of a priest blessing a supplicant.
“I'll call you,” Nash said.
“Yeah?” Phil knew it came out pathetically, but didn't care.
Nash kissed his forehead. “Of course.”
Phil craned up for one last peck of Nash's lips. Nash breathed a good night, and he walked away. Breathless, and now bereft of Nash's body, Phil watched as Nash left the bar and vanished into the night.
“Fucking hell!” Phil gasped. He was achingly hard and his body was burning, as if he'd been taken to the edge of a pit and was waiting for the push into smouldering fire.
Phil ran into the bathroom, tapped his foot impatiently waiting for an empty cubicle, and once in there, wanked himself furiously until he came, hard and fast, moaning and leaning on the cubicle wall. He heard a small cheer go up from outside the stalls, but Phil really didn't give a toss. As the waves of his orgasm settled, Phil was still thinking of Nash's nimble lips and sweet skin.
When he left the cubicle, the men outside gave him lascivious, approving grins, until one looked back in there and found it empty. He turned to Phil, jaw gaping.
“You were alone? Didn't want to share that with anyone?”
Phil winked. “You all have a good night ladies,” he said, and left the Ice drenched in his own and Nash's sweat, still dazed but grinning like a fool.
Though he was outwardly calm, on the tube ride home, blood rushed through Nash's whole body. He brushed the pad of his thumb against his lower lip. It was bruised and swollen as over-ripe fruit. Had he not had the sheer bloody-minded determination to only let it go so far, he was sure Phil would have devoured him whole, and that he would have gone into Phil's mouth willingly. That lush tongue had stroked against Nash's with a beautiful grace, and had licked Nash's neck so his legs trembled.
By the time Nash got home, his cock had softened, but not completely. Nash removed his clothes, folding them over the back of his chair. The light went off, and he slipped under his sheets, naked, lying on his back, his cock on his thigh, wanting attention.
Nash bit the back of his hand, willing himself not to touch it, not just yet. The thought of Phil's thick tongue assaulted him, the dark of his bedroom unable to block the memory.
But after lying like for a long minute, Nash started to chuckle. You idiot, he thought. With a groan of relief, he grasped his cock. Two long, slow strokes. All the time thinking about Phil, his passionate, sometimes savage mouth, how fucking hot he'd looked in that t-shirt. How he would look here, next to, on top of, or underneath Nash, naked, his inked skin exposed and available for exploration.
Still stroking slowly, a little gently, Nash recalled brushing his thigh against Phil's groin. The man's erection had been bold, and Nash had had to stop himself from grinding his knees against it, to see how Phil would react.
His hand grew faster, harder. Nash trailed his other hand down his chest, pinching both his nipples, sliding down his belly, and finally cupping his balls, squeezing them in rhythm with his strokes. Would Phil's hand be so good? How would his mouth (Christ, that tongue!) feel on Nash's cock? Wet, slick? Nash could see so clearly Phil's head with his tousled hair between his legs, bobbing up and down...
Nash drew it out as long as he could, but he wanted to come so badly, that he gave over and pumped hard, sighing as semen spurted hot onto his hand. He cleaned himself up with a tissue, and curled up on his side, breathing deeply as he tried to go to sleep.
The double bed was awfully empty.
The song quoted later on is 'Silent Shout' by The Knife.
Thanks again to Tallyyho and Susan for reading over and encouragement.
You can also read 'Stripped' in Russian - thanks to Evillen for the translation! Stripped - Part 2 - Russian translation.
Saturday morning was spent playing 'hide my mobile around the flat so I won't look at it every five seconds', but this failed as Phil simply went to retrieve it from the fruit bowl, the top shelf of the pantry, then later the hiking boots he'd only worn once at the back of the cupboard.
Nash kept his promise, and 11.30 called and asked if Phil wanted to meet for dinner that night.
Phil curled his legs under him on the couch, wishing he could see Nash to flirt back at him better. "You mean a proper date? You bringing me flowers too?"
A chuckle from the other end. "Carnations and baby's breath, sure, that would suit you. But yes, a proper date."A pause, and Nash said, "I'd love to take you out."
Phil was glad then that Nash couldn't see him; his face would have been a picture of starry-eyed adoration, and he was not going to let Nash see him look so drippy just yet.
The Italian place was classy, but not overly posh as Phil had feared. Hadn't stopped him from putting on all his usual rings, though he swapped his two chains for a heavier one, and he found the plain lime green shirt with the over-sized collar. He must have done something right, because Nash, who arrived in dark jeans and very fitted sky blue shirt with the top three buttons undone, very openly gave Phil the once over.
"You like?" Phil held his arms up, turned about on the spot when they'd first met just outside.
Nash nodded, grinning, and cast his eyes down Phil's body again. Phil went to kiss him, but Nash caught his arm, stopping the full embrace and making it only a half-hug with a pat on the shoulder, a matey gesture rather than any indication of something deeper. Phil was more puzzled than put off.
Phil had always liked a decent meal, but watching Nash as they ordered wine – a bottle of red Nash suggested – and then food, he knew he was watching someone in his element, someone who liked the ritual of the evening out; its properness, the gentle banter of the exchanges between customer and waiter, the discussion of the menu. Phil had always been more pragmatic about these events, but with Nash, it was all very...lovely.
When the wine came, Nash tasted it, but only gave the waiter a quick nod.
Phil looked askance. "What, no commentary on the vintage, the bouquet of flavours, it's woody scent, or...whatever you're supposed to say about wine?"
Nash ran one finger up the stem of his wine glass. "Do you want me to?"
The action, that deft, almost nonchalant stroke, sent a tiny prickle of heat down Phil's spine. Shrugging the sensation away, Phil said, "Well, I know bugger all about wine, but I like to hear the bullshit about it occasionally."
It was a challenge, Phil knew, that would either piss Nash off immensely (which would have meant Phil could only label him a wanker) or he'd respond in kind.
Phil was very glad that Nash's stern voice was so obviously an act.
"Is that what you think about appreciating a good drop?"
"Come on, the point is that it tastes good and gets you satisfyingly inebriated. Anything else is just window dressing."
Nash gave him a mockingly wary look. "All right, let's see with this one..."
Nash picked up his glass to begin the assessment. Phil leaned forward on his elbow, resting his chin on his fist, casually attentive. He watched Nash close his eyes as he inhaled, swirling the glass around as if casting a spell. Then Nash's lips nipped at the rim, and the red wine ebbed towards them. The sip was precise, and Nash held the glass away as he washed it through his mouth. Phil imagined Nash's tongue rubbing over the wine, his teeth, how it would feel...
At last he swallowed, the gentle bob of his Adam's Apple catching Phil's eye. He spoke, using the usual high faulting jargon. Phil saw gallons of opportunity for double entendre, but Nash's quiet thoughtfulness, the sound of his voice rolling over the luscious words, were too delicious to ruin.
When Nash was done, Phil's upper teeth were grazing his knuckles, and his cock was half hard, and thankfully concealed below the table. Nash looked at Phil expectantly.
Phil took his time before he drawled, "God, Nash...that was hot."
A faint shade of pink appeared on Nash's cheeks. Phil laughed, and the shade grew from pink to red, until Nash brought his hand up to hide his face.
"You'll match the wine in a moment," Phil said.
Nash rubbed at his cheeks, straightened his back, and with overdone primness, said, "That was very cheeky of you."
Phil raised his own glass. "I am a cheeky man."
Nash smirked, and eased his to Phil's with a bright, bell-like clink.
"And that's what I like about you."
The heat at the base of Phil's spine flared upwards again, and he just managed to keep his glass steady as he took his first mouthful.
Dinner came, and they talked about this and that. There were more silences, Phil found, as they ate, partly because Phil was enjoying the food, which he vocally expressed, and partly because he was watching Nash. Nash's fingers danced around his wine glass, stroking the stem, outlining the rim while he listened. His bites were small and carefully judged. He rested his cutlery on the edge of the plate as if he were lighting a holy candle.
The frustration came when Phil realised that Nash was moving his hand out of Phil's reach any time Phil tried to touch him. It had seemed a misstep at first, that Nash hadn't noticed what he was trying to do, but after the fifth attempt, Phil felt like he was playing a fairground game, trying to hit the alligator but missing each time.
After the waiter took the plates away, Phil said "I thought you were out."
Nash looked perplexed. "I am."
Phil again tried to reach for Nash's hand, and Nash pulled away. Phil raised an eyebrow. "Oh yeah?"
"This is Queensway, not Soho."
Phil's lip curled at the tone. He leaned back, allowing his sneer full breadth on his face. Nash closed his eyes, and opened them again, quite solemnly.
"Sorry, that was abrupt. I'm...what I mean is..." Nash rubbed his finger tips together as he searched for the words. "I'm upfront with who I am, and I make no apology for it. But there is time and a place to be open, and others to be discreet."
"Even here? It's not Soho but it's not Camberwell either."
Nash made a small smile. "I'm not comfortable with it, Phil. Not out here."
It was, Phil knew, an attitude many fellas he knew had. The barriered places where they could just be themselves, where two blokes could hold each others hands. Certain streets, certain bars or cafes, their apartments, those were the areas of refuge. Phil could understand it, but he didn't want to live like that. A random wanker shouting out 'poof!' wasn't going to dictate to him how he had to operate in the world.
Phil only shrugged and stared a little sullenly into his glass.
Nash asked, quite quietly, "Is it important to you? To be completely open about it."
Phil thought on it. He knew he was kind of being a prick about it, but there were certain things in life he didn't back down from, and this was one of them.
"I hate secrets," he eventually said. "They tend to tear you apart, bit by bit."
Nash looked a little sad. "Some you learn to live with. Believe me. If you have to, you can."
Phil's fist tightened on the table. "This shouldn't be one of them."
"No, it shouldn't. And it isn't." Nash leaned forward. His hand came as close to Phil's without actually touching it. "I might not want to take your hand right now, but if you were ever to introduce me to someone as 'your friend', I'd be very disappointed."
A pulse ran from the centre of Phil's chest to his throat.
"More than a friend, then?"
To Phil's great surprise, Nash gave him the largest, widest smile. "I hope so."
Phil tried to play it cool, but he knew the stupid grin that had been threatening to break all day finally did.
They shared dessert, a smooth panna cotta. Phil threatened to feed Nash the piece of it, which earned him a look of mock horror. As it was, watching how much Nash enjoyed it with indulgent nibbles, eyes mostly closed and focused on his spoon almost made Phil come right under the table. It was only after Nash paid and they stood to leave that he cursed his tight jeans' inability to hide anything. His jacket never felt so necessary.
On the pavement outside, Phil stood as close to Nash as he could. "That was...really nice. Thank you."
Nash smiled, and Phil wanted to lean that bit closer, press against him. He was about to say goodnight, figuring Nash was going to be terribly proper again, when Nash said, "Let me walk you to your door."
Phil raised an eyebrow. "Like I can't look after myself on the way home?"
"I thought this was a proper date." Nash shrugged. "But if you'd rather – "
"Don't be daft."
They walked side by side as they headed for Phil's bus. Their shoulders touched sometimes, jostled by pedestrians or the sway of the bus in the London streets. All the while, Nash kept his hands in his pockets. Only once did Phil touch him; to brush his upper arm, letting him know that this was the stop.
Nash was quietly confident the evening had gone well. Phil had been very vocal in his appreciation of the food, which was a good thing because Nash liked the restaurant and went there with Emilia regularly. What would she make of Phil? Just as he thought it, Phil, leading the way, glanced back at him with a gorgeous grin. He'd be fighting to keep him to himself, that's what.
God, am I thinking that far ahead already? Nash thought.
They came to the entrance of Phil's apartment building. Phil slowly took his keys out of his pocket, eyes on Nash the whole time.
"Come upstairs." His spoke directly, almost as a command.
Nash faltered. "I...I probably should – "
Hearing his name spoken so firmly cut Nash right off. Phil stepped right up to Nash, their noses only inches apart. Nash's resolve began to tremble, even though his body was still. Phil craned his head so his mouth was near Nash's ear. His curls brushed against Nash's cheek.
"I just want to get to know you better."
Nash couldn't stop his hands from reaching up and squeezing Phil's shoulders. He didn't speak, only nodded, and he let Phil take his hand and, as last night, lead him inside.
The apartment was a cacophony of colour and bold metal. There was a touch of a look Nash expected from a biker bar, but more romantic; band posters competed with modern sketches that strongly resembled Phil's tattoos. The black leather couch was almost obscured by a pile of paisley print cushions. This was about all Nash had time to take in; as soon as their coats were off, Phil pounced.
Nash stumbled back. Hands encircled his face, and Phil kissed him with a searching passion. Nash opened his mouth to Phil, and wrapped his arms around him to keep them both upright.
Phil pulled back, leaving Nash gasping. He grinned in that gorgeously mischievous way, and took Nash by the shoulders. "Here."
Phil guided Nash back and eased him down onto one of the armchairs. Nash sank into it, overcome with the image of Phil above him, bearing down on him with a hunger in his eyes. Nash caught him in his arms, the weight of Phil's body making him hard and erect. Phil kissed him again, tongue and lips demanding. Nash raked his hands down Phil's back, fingers pressing in, wanting to pull Phil closer and closer. His hands found Phil's arse and grabbed it. Firm yet tender, with a perfect curve that Nash's hands just loved squeezing.
Without moving from Nash's mouth, Phil began unbuttoning Nash's shirt. A quick business, for Nash had taken care just how many to leave open. Phil pushed the shirt back, though didn't try and take it off. He lift his head, and Nash's chest burned as Phil looked him up and down.
"Fuck yeah..." Phil said, and it made Nash's chest tighten.
Nash reached to start on Phil's shirt, but Phil ducked back down, and planted a kiss at Nash's collarbone. The kiss became a nibble, then a bite. Nash's spine tingled and his back arched. Phil chuckled, even with his teeth on Nash's skin. He kissed the spot again, and his mouth began to work its way down Nash's chest.
"You're so fucking hot," Phil said, between kisses and bites. "So very fucking hot."
Nash worked his hand into Phil's gorgeous hair, loving how it twirled in between his fingers. "And you're very good at that."
Phil looked up, cheekily meeting Nash's eyes. "Oh, I haven't started yet."
He tried to give Nash's nipple special attention, but they'd never been particularly sensitive on Nash, so Phil abandoned them for the rest of Nash's chest. He curled his fingers around what hair Nash had, rubbed his face against it like a cat. His smiles were naughty and kitten-ish at the same time. All the while, Phil's own body rubbed unconsciously on Nash's groin.
Phil placed on final kiss just above Nash's belly button, and swept his hands down his chest, finally resting on Nash's belt. Nash went very still as Phil undid the buckle. It took only a few swift moves for him to unzip his jeans, pull down Nash's trousers, and for his thumbs to hook at the bottom of his briefs, and reveal Nash's achingly hard cock.
Nash chewed on his lower lip. He hoped and feared what Phil was about to to. It had been a bloody long time...would he come as soon as Phil touched him?
Phil took the head of Nash's cock between his thumb and forefinger, a delicate pinch. Nash inhaled, and as Phil flicked his tongue back and forth along the very end, he slowly exhaled, only to hitch his breath when Phil began slipping his tongue under Nash's foreskin. Nash tightened his hold on Phil's head, tried pulling him closer, a murmuring ache wanting Phil to take him entirely in his mouth. Phil resisted, and shook his head, his eyes full of wicked cunning. Nash trembled, and waited for Phil's next move.
Which was a long, slow lick along the base of Nash's cock. Nash strained his head back, a soundless gasp in his mouth. It was followed by tender kisses to the head once more, just enough to relax Nash again, before Phil made another long slow lick. Nash jerked, and the sensation coursed all the way down his body.
"Like that?" Phil whispered.
Phil chuckled, and his mouth went to work again.
Phil licked more than sucked, something that normally would have driven Nash crazy and not in a good way, but the long laps were forceful and rhythmic. He suckled at the underside of Nash's balls, making Nash writhe. It wasn't long before Nash's eys were misty, and Nash's hips were rolling, urging towards Phil's playing tongue.
When Phil asked him how he was, Nash realised he was whimpering.
"Oh God, Phil...could you...please..."
Phil kissed the head, eyes coquettish. "Please what?"
"You bloody tease," Nash said, teeth together.
Another laugh, and at long last, Phil sank his mouth entirely onto Nash's cock. His pumping head shook his curls, and Nash loved how his mouth looked, so full and hungry, like he was devouring Nash whole.
Each suck, each dip of his head, drove Nash closer and closer. Phil bobbed up and down, his eyes never leaving Nash's face, even though Nash rolled his head back sometimes, the twitching waves sometimes too much, sometimes so keenly felt he could have slid off the chair.
Then his balls tensed in the signal that he'd been longing for.
"Phil...I gonna...I gonna..."
Phil kept going. God, he should have pulled back, he shouldn't swallow, not yet, not at this stage. Nash tightened his fingers, and Phil went down and up, down and up, and all Nash could do was cry out Phil's name as his spunk seared from inside him and along his cock.
Phil swiftly pulled back, and pressed Nash's cock to his stomach. The first spurt shot out, splashing all the way up Nash's body, flicking against the bottom of his chin. Nash groaned. The second and the third spurt both hit his chest. All the while, Phil held his throbbing cock with a firm grip.
Once the ripples subsided, Nash breathed. "Oh my God..." He brushed a shaking hand along the bottom of his chin, catching the pearls of his spunk on his fingertips.
He looked back down at Phil, who was smirking.
"That's not happened in a long time," Nash said through his shaky breath.
Like a very proud rooster, Phil placed another kiss on Nash's cock. "Oh yeah?"
"Yeah." He brushed Phil's hair back of his forehead. A thin sheen of sweat had formed there, and Nash swept it away. "You exhausted yourself."
Phil only ran his cheek against Nash's thigh.
Nash opened his arms out, beckoning Phil to lie in them. Phil stood, found a box of tissues, quickly cleaned Nash up. He placed his knees either side of Nash's thighs, and lower himself to Nash.
The embrace was tight and tender. Nash nuzzled Phil's neck, breathing in the scent of his sweat, of the remnants of his own spunk between them. Phil ran his nose along Nash's cheek, dropping a kiss now and then. Nash felt his chest rise and fall hard and steady, still recovering from coming.
"Thank you," Nash said into Phil's hair.
"Hey, no need for that." Phil nipped Nash's earlobe. "I wanted to."
Nash took Phil's cheeks in his hands, holding him back so he could look at him properly. His eyes glanced and took in the gorgeousness of each feature; the curve of his nose, the fullness of his lower lip. Phil suddenly looked shy, and turned away from Nash.
"Lovely," Nash whispered, and kissed Phil. Phil clung to his shoulders, squeezed his knees tighter around Nash's legs. Nash brushed his hands up the front of Phil's thighs, the denim straining against his palm. Only a few more inches, and he settled his hand on the bulge appearing between Phil's legs.
Phil shook his head. "You don't have to."
Nash squeezed. Phil sighed.
"Yeah. I do."
When Phil looked up to start his explanation of the body before him, Dave Holland's eyes were bulging. Tom was chuckling, and Phil wondered what joke he'd missed.
Holland frowned. "You were whistling."
What? Phil looked at Holland incredulously. "No I wasn't."
Tom snickered. "You were actually."
Holland shook his head. "Black humour is one thing, but whistling? In here?"
Phil frowned, eyes settling on the fleshy woman beneath him. Had he been? Well, his focus had been equally on the memory of Nash's hand on his cock, of his mouth kissing his neck as he pulled on Phil's cock, pulling the foreskin over the head and rubbing the head with his thumb.
Nash had taken unbuttoned Phil's shirt, and insisted that it come off completely. Before he'd jerked him off, he'd explored Phil's chest and arms. Phil had been surprised when, on exposing the piercing on his left nipple, Nash had touched it with a gentle reverence. Then he'd suckled on it, while his hand had pumped hard and fast.
Afterwards, Phil had curled onto Nash's lap, Nash's arms around him, sometimes kissing the side of Phil's head. After Phil threatened to fall asleep right there, Nash had politely said good night, and buttoned up his shirt. But he'd kissed Phil before leaving, and they'd agreed to call each other soon.
Holland kept looking perturbed. "Bit of respect – "
"Yeah I know, I know. I...didn't realise. Sorry."
Reflecting on it right then, Phil knew that most people would think it perverse of him for his mind to wander like that. But as much as he did show due respect to the corpses brought in for him, it was still a job, and certain things grew routine, habitual, that he only had to half think about it while his other thoughts could roam freely.
Not that he was about to tell Holland just where they had roamed to.
Holland snapped his notebook shut, and turned to Tom. "If it's all right with you, sir – "
"Yeah, go on. I'll get this."
Holland left the mortuary in a righteous huff, while Tom waggled his eyebrows at Phil.
"You do that on purpose? Want to get me alone with you?"
Phil rolled his eyes, and talked Tom over the old woman's body. A mugging gone wrong, according to Tom – they probably would have the young bloke who stabbed her by the afternoon. All it had taken was a single stab to her stomach. Phil was consistently amazed by the human body; so strong and sturdy, and yet if the wound hit the right spot, so fragile, and life was gone in minutes.
When he was done, Phil turned, expecting Tom to go, but Tom instead followed him to the bin where they both peeled off the latex gloves.
"So, a new bloke on the scene then?"
Phil threw his in the bin, and gave Tom a nonchalant look. He turned to head back to office.
Tom followed. "Ah, don't play innocent, Phil. I know you're not, for a start, and I know what you're like when you've gotten lucky."
Phil tried to keep his grin to himself. It was a rare breed of straight fellas who gave a damn about his private life in a way that was matey rather than leery. Of course, Tom was a rare breed in general.
He said, "As it so happens...yeah. There is someone."
"Is it serious?"
Phil shrugged. "Maybe."
Tom had his detective face on; Phil knew it was only a matter of minutes before he guessed who it was, but he wasn't going to spill all to Tom either. The repairs to their relationship had been slow; the shadow of the Calvert's – both dead Frank and shattered, torn James – lay between them. Phil could see them, while Tom kept wanting to see through them, past them. It was getting better; both had shared the horror of watching Sarah Chen shot before their eyes, and as awful as that had been, they'd rediscovered some common ground. And Tom, in his own peculiarly Tom way, was trying. There were only so many inches, though, that Phil was going to give.
Then Tom's face shifted, and he gave Phil one of his rare, genuinely kind expressions.
"You really like the guy."
Phil felt a burn on his cheeks, and rubbed at them, looking away. He said, quietly, "Yeah."
"Good. I'm glad." Tom clapped Phil's shoulder, and went for the exit.
Phil blinked, and turned to Tom's retreating figure. "Is that it? No prying, no probing to get more information? No wild conjectures about him?"
Tom shook his head. "You'll tell me when you're ready."
Phil stood where he was for a few moments after Tom had left. Tom was, indeed, trying, and he let himself smile, feeling grateful and warm.
Brant's enormous fist struck the desk with enough force to make pens and paperclips leap into the air. Nash too jumped a little, and gave Brant a filthy look.
Brant ignored it. "Pub. Tonight."
"Wait, Brant – "
"No excuses, Nash. We're having a drink. See you after."
"Brant," Nash said, rising to beckon him back, but Brant strode out of the office and around the corner too fast. Nash rolled his eyes and settled back down. Acting Inspector and ergo still Brant's superior he may have been, but Brant was his own man and arguing with him usually pointless.
That could have been what Brant wanted to talk to him about. After Roberts' murder, the station needed a new Chief Inspector. While there were whispers that the job might go to Nash, after the mishaps around Weiss, there was further talk it would be Brant. Nash did want it, but he hadn't expected to be in the position for longer than the Blitz case lasted.
Falls looked into the office, files under one arm; Nash hadn't realised she'd been out there.
"Up for an interrogation, sir?"
"Sorry?" Nash asked.
Falls smiled, coming in to the office a bit further. "You've been grinning for the past two days, when you think no one's looking. I could tell Brant why, but I think it'd be better for him to talk about it."
Nash adjusted his tie, his neck hot as he hoped Falls was talking crap, though probably wasn't. "I'm sure you're completely off the mark, Falls."
"This fella must be nice, for you to look so happy."
Damn, Nash thought, trying not to do something conspicuous like gulping.
Falls giggled. "Your face says it all. Don't worry, I'm not going to say anything. And I don't think anyone else has really noticed, 'cept for wondering why you've not been all dotted i's and crossed t's."
"Th…thank you, Falls. It…" Nash put his hands together for emphasis. "You appreciate that I value discretion about my private life."
Falls suddenly looked serious. "Of course. But…you could try and give people here a chance to deal with it."
"There isn't as much difference between here and the West End as you might imagine," Nash said. "Not when it comes to queers, at any rate."
The expression on Fall's face made it very clear that she was hurt that he might have lumped her in with the rougher boys of the squad who didn't give gays, women, or any ethnic minority any leeway. Nash sighed – that hadn't been what he meant, and Nash felt a brief flare of irritation at having to spell it out. But in the end, he gave Falls some slack.
"Look, I know you mean well. Really, I do. But…ok. Think it about it like this. How do you cope?"
Falls frowned. "Cope? As a woman or because I'm black?"
She thought before answering. "I get on with the job. Do it as best as I can. As you know…sometimes I get it really wrong. But I've gotten back on the horse, and kept going. Just."
"And what do you hope to get from that?"
She looked incredulous. "Respect, sir."
"For your work? Or for you as a person?"
At first, Falls screwed up her nose, irritated, but as Nash waited calmly, she gradually began to looked amused.
"Don't expect them to celebrate your success, right?" she said.
Nash smiled tightly. "They can put up with a poof, but I doubt many of them will be sorry to see me go."
Still defending her corner a little, Falls said, "I think Brant would."
Because Brant and I are bound together by something you really don't want to know, Nash thought. Blood didn't have to be genetic to be thicker than water.
A long pause, and Falls began to leave, when Nash said, a little hurriedly, "It's really good of you to ask, about...I...do appreciate that."
Falls beamed. She is really very pretty, Nash thought, half wondering if he should ask about her own relationship with DI Stokes, but decided the timing was off.
"He have a name?"
Nash couldn't stop smiling a little when he said his name. "Phil."
Phil with his great body, and beautifully inked skin. Phil with the gorgeous hair that Nash could have ran his fingers through all night. Phil with that nipple piercing that managed to look so sexy that Nash couldn't stop his tongue from probing and pulling it, while Phil arched into Nash's hand and came with a luscious moan.
Phil, he suddenly remembered, who looked like the man who killed Falls' friend Metal.
Nash rubbed his forehead. "Oh Christ..."
Falls looked really confused now. "Sir..."
He told her, plain and straight, the situation. Falls listened, face blank, and by the end of it, Nash was sure she was going to march out the door in disgust.
Instead, she said, very steadily, "So...he nothing like Weiss, at all?"
"He's human rather than scum."
"That's not hard."
"True, but...Phil's decent. He's fun. You'd probably like him if you met him."
Falls made a face. "Maybe later. Ok. It's kind of weird, and yeah, I'm in no rush to see this bloke, but – " she shrugged, "if you say it's fine, then it's fine."
Nash was grateful for that. "Thanks." He added, "If I hear it repeated around the station – "
Falls hand's went up in surrender. "Like I said before, sir. Between you and me. Or...look, if no one else, give Brant a chance. He pretends to be all caveman like, but he's not stupid."
Nor unkind, Nash heard in the unspoken space between them as Falls left.
Brant was at their usual booth in the pub when Nash entered. He considered, looking at Brant's block-of-granite face and frame, that it wasn't that he hadn't given Brant 'a chance'; more that Brant hadn't really ever shown much interest in Nash's private life beyond how his work affected his ability to, well, just fucking survive. And really, neither of them had much of a personal life to speak of. Nash had soon figured out that Brant's conquests of the female officers were mostly mythical; Brant was more a homebody than he let on, prone to brooding in his apartment with a bottle of something, when he wasn't out playing sherif. Drinks were already on the table; double shots of whiskey, with a little extra.
Nash sat opposite Brant. "Day gone all right?"
A shrug. Nash thanked Brant for the drink and started to sip at it.
Suddenly, Brant looked him in the eye. "Where are you transferring to?"
Nash coughed on his whiskey. "Pardon?"
"Come on, Nash, I reckon I know you pretty well now. That big ole grin you think no one can see? Well, I've seen it, and I reckon it's 'cos you've got a chance to leave and you're bloody pleased about it. I'm just a bit pissed you didn't tell me about it by now."
It took Nash a few seconds to process how Brant had leapt to this most interesting conclusion. When he realised there was no point in refuting the argument by detailing just why Brant was wrong, he said, "I'm not going anywhere."
It had been a while since Brant had really questioned Nash's certainty. He looked at Nash with stony eyes.
"I don't believe you."
"Why would I lie?"
Brant didn't have an answer to that. He only shifted in his seat and maintained his hard expression, as if that would break down Nash's resolve.
Fucking hell, surely Brant knew him better than that by now.
"Brant, I haven't put in for a transfer, nor have I been offered one. What the hell makes you think otherwise?"
"Thought you might want to get out of here." Brant shrugged. "It's a tough beat. If you get something a bit…cushier, you know…"
"A mugging is still a mugging, even in the West End. They don't politely go up and ask for the victim's wallet anymore than they do around here."
"That's not what I meant."
Yeah, Nash thought. I know.
This time he answered properly. "Coppers are coppers. I'll get shit no matter where I am."
Nash glanced at his glass, caged the rim with his fingers. He thought about Falls, and Brant, this regular meeting for drinks – no colleague had ever done that with him before – and that heavy history that the three of them shared. If anything, Nash should have served as an ugly reminder of dead friends and colleagues, arriving on the scene as the carnage had unleashed itself. Yet there was Falls grinning about his love life, and Brant…
Nash looked at Brant square on, and said, "It's not like it's easy to find people who give a damn."
Brant blinked. Nash raised his glass to take a sip of whiskey. The pub around them murmured with low chatter and the clack of balls at the pool table. Brant shifted again, hunching over a little, eyes falling from Nash's face. A rare sight, seeing Tom Brant look awkward.
Then he said, "Well, you know…it's…as I've said in the past. I respect you."
Bemused, Nash said, "Goes both ways."
Brant lifted his glass, met Nash's eyes again. He took sometime before he finally said, "Sorry. For assuming and all."
Nash met his glass with a firm clink. "Accepted."
The slow burn of the whiskey was reassuring in Nash's throat. Nash drank a little, while Brant drank a lot.
"Still," Brant said as he put his now empty glass down, "you have been grinning like a banshee all bloody week, and Christ knows you never smile. Something's going on. I jumped the gun on what it's all about, but you can't kid me that nothing's happened."
Nash exhaled. "I've met someone."
It was patently not the answer Brant had been expecting. He froze, and didn't blink for what seemed like an age.
When at last he spoke, "Right. So…it's like…someone. A bloke?"
His words couldn't have been better. Nash laughed, raucously, until Brant palmed his face.
"Jesus, state the bleeding obvious, Brant...it's just...you know, I don't even talk this stuff with Falls much."
"We don't have to."
Brant looked uncomfortable, and fiddled with his glass. "Yeah, but...can always ask how it's going, right? I don't know what you blokes talk about, so – "
Nash interrupted. He leaned forward and camping up his voice to the max, said "Well, after we argue about which boy band has the hottest blokes, we go and pick out shoes together and talk loudly about oral sex."
Nash stayed where he was, though for a moment he thought Brant was going to pick up the glass and clock him with it.
Then Brant sniggered, albeit a bit nervously. "You trying to tell me something?"
"Only that we have tend to talk about pretty much what everyone else talks about."
"Yeah, 'cept the sex part, right?"
Nash found himself wishing for the old Brant – at least he didn't pry. Nash glared, and didn't hide his contempt. "Sounds like you want to know the gory details."
Brant winced. Nash sat, back rigid, but unwilling to soften in the least. Guiding someone step by step through 'how not to be an offensive twat' was not on his list of things he enjoyed. He'd gotten used to Brant's ways, and knowing that Brant respected him had been enough. This kind of idiocy was another matter.
At last he said. "Sorry. I'm being a wanker." Blunt, to the point, but Brant meant it.
"Thank you," Nash said.
A long silence followed. Nash went and got them more drinks, and when he came back, Brant was carefully inspecting a spot of wood on the table.
"So…how did you meet?"
It took a long time for Nash to respond. So long that Brant looked up from the table, looking perplexed.
"It can't be that hard to answer."
Weiss meant one thing to Falls, but to Brant and Nash, he was that strange blood bond. Neither felt guilty about killing him. Nash rarely played the image of his death in his mind, though when he could recall it, he saw the bullet, the moment in entered Weiss's head, the splattering of blood and brains, with a striking vividness. He had no idea how Brant dealt with it. He suspected it never crossed his mind.
Which was going to make this speech he was about to deliver that much trickier.
Nash told him everything, more than he had Falls, from meeting Tom Thorne, to the mortuary and then apologising to Phil, to the dates – heavily edited for content, of course – and to now, him wondering how Brant was going to take it.
And when he was done, Brant only said, "And you're ok with it?"
"Yes. I am."
"Well." Brant swigged his glass back. "That's the main thing, isn't it?"
"It doesn't – "
"Bother me? I think it's a bit odd, but your choice. You said he's Irish?"
"Well." Brant raised his glass. "Can't be all bad then."
It was just what Phil had said about Brant. Nash grinned over his own glass, and they both drank.
When they met in the White Stag on Friday night, Nash gave Phil a tight hug and pressed a kiss to his temple. After a long week, the hold was very welcome, and Phil squeezed Nash before letting go, and kissed him back.
"Hey," he said,
"Evening." Nash brushed some of Phil's curls from his forehead, and looked him up and down. "Did I tell you last week that this shirt looks fantastic on you?"
Phil couldn't stop his smirk. The white t-shirt with the barbed wire rose – he'd wondered about that.
"No. But you have now."
They drank two pints, sitting very close, Phil's hand on Nash's knee, before heading across the road to the Firebrand. Phil realised it wasn't the classiest response to the dinner date of last week, but figured that if Nash was going to stick around, he was going to have to get used to clubs sometimes.
Nash looked slick, if a little overdressed for the club – he wore a very fitted black collared shirt, and Phil anticipated that he'd be sweating within fifteen minutes.
Which, he considered, wouldn't be a bad thing.
Before they went in, he said to Nash, "You ready?"
Nash shrugged. "Why wouldn't I be?"
Phil laughed, and swung his arm around Nash's waist. "Come on."
A steady electronic beat filled the air, reverberated around them. Phil kept a firm hold of Nash and made a path through the bouncing bodies to the bar. As he waited to be served, he looked at Nash. His face was impassive in the neon glow, as if the music was having no effect on him at all. He was, however, looking about him, assessing the scene. As if he weren't part of it, but looking through a window.
Like a cop. Of course.
Phil slipped his hand into the back pocket of Nash's jeans, and squeezed. Nash looked sharply back at him, but smiled, and ducked his head.
Phil leaned into his ear and said in that horrible shout everyone had to use at night clubs, "This is meant to be fun!"
"I know! I'm having fun!"
Phil nodded, unbelieving, and gave Nash a quick kiss on the lips. "Not yet you're not!"
Two Heinekens arrived, and Phil eased both him and Nash back into the crowd to find a vaguely empty space.
When one was found, Nash stood looking a little lost. "Now what!"
Phil shook his head. Against the backdrop of muscly blokes with tank tops, shaved heads, and rings and things similar to Phil's, Nash looked as if he'd taken the wrong turn at Albuquerque. Like a greyhound had wandered into a cattery and was deciding if the felines were going to turn on him.
He put his free hand on Nash's waist. "Now we dance!"
Sweat ran down Nash's neck, and was growing heavy at his cuffs. He undid the buttons and rolled up his sleeves, but that did little to alleviate the heat.
Across from him, Phil too was sweating, but while Nash felt like a wet dog, Phil looked amazing.
The Firebrand was Phil's territory. He danced with the crowd, made it looked effortless, cool. Nash's own body was heavy, awkward, his movements he was sure too jerky. He and Emilia had partnered each other in ballroom classes as teenagers – mother's idea – and he could still breakout a basic salsa if he really had to, but otherwise, club visits only happened because the few girls at the station decided he should be their gay guy protector for night, or on those nights when what few friends he had insisted they needed to engage with the club culture. Nash didn't point out that if you were saying phrases like that, you probably weren't in it for the right reasons.
Suddenly, Phil whooped. Nash heard the music change – only because the electronic beats were a fraction different from the one before. Most of the songs (if he could call them that) pulsed in and out of each other. Phil pressed his body right up to Nash's. He put his palms either side of Nash's chest, ran them down, careful of his now empty bottle. Nash eased tentative hands on Phil's shoulders.
"You know the music!"
"Yeah! They're called the---!"
Nash missed the name. "The what!"
Phil put his mouth to Nash's ear. "The Knife!"
"Don't know them!"
A kiss to his cheek. "Don't expect you to!"
Knowing that Phil liked it, though, made Nash listen a little more intently. About a minute into the song, the singing began, hushed, echoey but like a whisper. Nash could only make a word or two.
Then Phil pulled back, and began mouthing to the lyrics. Watching his lips, Nash now understood.
"Wish I could speak in just one sweep
What you are and what you mean to me
Instead I mumble randomly
You stand by and enlighten me."
Phil finished with a grin. Nash bit his lip, a little humbled that the words had been directed at him. He drew Phil back against him, cupping the back of his head, and resting his against Phil's shoulder. Phil began grinding lightly. Nash sighed. He found himself relaxing into the beat, moving in time with Phil, while their thighs pressed between each others, their chests so close that Nash could feel Phil's chains against his chest, and noticed Phil's nipple piercing through both layers of material. His cock stirred a little, but mostly, he relished holding Phil close to him.
Why they talked about bright lights at clubs Nash didn't know. They were mostly dark, hazy, with sudden flashes of brilliance for effect, but Nash sensed the idea was to dance in and out of the shadows, to disappear into the music. Here in the Firebrand the colours changed from song to song. Last they'd been dancing a shade of yellow. Now there was a wash of blue. It made Nash think of a swimming pool, and the dancers...some looked like they were drowning, others thrashed about joyfully, and others...
Nash's gaze was drawn to a couple – a tall bloke with an army-esque buzz cut and black tank top, and a shorter, stockier fella with spiked hair and neon yellow t-shirt. They were on the dance floor, but they weren't dancing. They were making out. It was slow, intense, hands cupping each other's faces, cradling each other. Their mouths moved gracefully over each others, only sometimes moving to the others neck or cheek. The taller one splayed his hand around the stockier one's left buttock cheek, making the bloke raise his leg, as if he were going to wrapped it around his partner's legs. They openly, so very openly, played with each others tongues. The taller tilted his head back as the shorter kissed his neck, eyes closed, ecstasy all over his face. The crowd could have disappeared and they wouldn't have known.
Heat filled Nash, and he ground against Phil's groin. He found he was holding his breath. He barely noticed it when Phil moved his head, and craned his neck around.
But he did notice when Phil slipped his hand into Nash's pocket. Nash wasn't in time to stop Phil's wriggling fingers finding his cock. Phil pushed two fingertips against it. Nash jerked, and tried to pull away, but Phil held him, and shook his head. He glanced over his shoulder, towards the couple, and looked back at Nash. His expression was wicked. It was as if Phil could read his thoughts. His face seemed to say 'I know exactly what you're doing, you naughty boy.' Nash swallowed. His cheeks flushed, and it felt like his insides were being beautifully but insistently massaged. He was embarrassed, excited, horrified, and aroused all at once.
Phil stroked his fingers down. Nash flopped forward, cheek falling on Phil's shoulder. His gaze returned to the couple, those open, laving kisses. His cock was so hard now, constricted in his jeans, and he squeezed Phil once, and put his mouth to Phil's ear, nose brushing against the hoop in his cartilage.
"Come home with me."
Nash said it low, but he knew Phil heard it, because his hand stopped moving, and he leaned back from Nash. He smiled, looking so pleased, but Nash was so horny it wouldn't have mattered what Phil did.
Phil took his hand, and lead him out of the club. He hailed the taxi, and Nash was that dazed he almost forgot to tell the driver his address.
Thanks again to Tallyyho and Susan for reading over, and to everyone for the good thoughts while I was struggling with this part. It really did help while getting over the hump!
Sitting on the back seat, only their knees and thighs touched; Nash kept one arm against his chest, and the other hand clenched, his mouth resting against his fingers. The gel in his hair was wilting with sweat, threatening to plaster to his forehead, and the yellow lights of London caught his tension he held in his cheek. He didn't look at Phil, at all. Phil’s eyes didn't leave Nash's face, and he was desperate to grab hold of him and make out in the back of the cab, but from Nash’s expression he knew to even suggest it would bring the night to an abrupt end.
Phil couldn't stop his fingers drumming on his other thigh. He willed the taxi to drive faster, for the thickly-clogged Friday night traffic to vanish around them and clear a path to Nash's place. His chest rose and fell with heavy anticipation, and his hard-on made his jeans so tight that they threatened to split open if Nash so much as passed a casual glance in that direction. Only when Phil inhaled and held for a long moment did he hear Nash's quick hoarse panting, quiet under his tight fist, but there nonetheless.
In the lift up to Nash's flat, they stood shoulder to shoulder, and Phil almost lost himself, watching Nash's skin flush, watching his adam's-apple bob with increasing gulps. The ping of the bell for Nash's floor made him jump. Nash grabbed his hand and lead him to the door, his hand trembling as he put the key in the lock.
Once we're in, Phil thought, I move. Not a moment before.
But the door shut, and Phil found himself pressed back against it. Nash fell onto him, grabbing him close and kissing him hard.
It was so passionate, so intense, that Phil's insides could have melted. He sagged against the door, letting Nash hold him by the waist as Nash's tongue plundered his mouth. Nash ground against him, his erection rubbing right against Phil's, and Phil moaned.
When Nash pulled back, Phil gasped, craving more of Nash's mouth, but it allowed him to regain his balance. Enough to slide both hands up to Nash's cheeks and surge forward, kissing him again. Nash caught him. His hands pressed into Phil's back, befre he slid them down to grab Phil's arse. Phil bucked against him, and a small keening sound came from deep inside Nash.
Phil pulled his mouth back and met Nash's eyes. "Your bedroom..."
"Coats first," Nash breathed.
Phil hissed, incredulous and frustrated, but he obediently shrugged off his jacket. Nash did the same. Nash took it from him and hung both neatly on the coat-rack by the door, while Phil leaned against his back, not wanting to leave Nash's body for a single second. God, to touch his skin right now...
Though the alcohol and the arousal made his head swim, Phil managed to take a cursory look at the apartment. Creamy coloured decor; minimalist style, something that normally Phil found very cold, but there was a warm glow, light against the cream, that was soothing and comfortable. Phil squeezed Nash's hips; the flat was beautiful, orderly. So very Nash.
Nash turned back, grasped Phil's hand. "Upstairs."
Phil hadn't noticed the staircase until then. He let Nash lead him up, his steps a little unsteady. He found he had to brace the wall, the lack of a handrail disorientating him. But Nash got him there safely, and pulled him through the door way. The light went on, giving off the same warm glow as downstairs. Nash reached behind Phil, shut the door, and put his hands on Phil's shoulders. Phil smirked, and trailed his hands down Nash's chest, feeling how sweaty he still was. He found the last button of Nash’s shirt and slid it through the button-hole.
For a moment, things went crazy; clothes were cast aside, shoes kicked off and socks pushed down their ankles. Phil pulled off his jewellery, rings following chains, knowing they would just get in the way, hurriedly finding a flat surface to slam them on.
At last they were both naked, and Phil sighed. His eyes grazed over Nash's slender body, and he stared for a good while at his long tapered cock, stiff and keen. Nash wasn't much taller than him, but Phil felt smaller, and a little vulnerable. He swallowed, tried to take charge again. He stuck out his chest, and pressed against Nash, rolled his hips upwards, until his cock was rubbing right next to Nash's. The hardness of it, the silkiness of the skin on the shafts, made Phil bite his lip to stop himself from sighing, to keep his centre fixed, in control. He grinned when Nash whimpered a little, and his cock twitched at the sound. He wrapped his arms around Nash, and kissed him fiercely. Nash responded with equal passion, arm across Phil's shoulders, fingers digging into his arse-cheek.
Then Nash pulled back, and pushed Phil back onto the bed, before climbing on top of him, and biting down on his neck.
Phil couldn't hold back now. He moaned loudly, aching upwards. He grabbed the back of Nash's skull, wanting Nash to take him completely, to be embraced by that strength, that confidence. Nash bit and sucked and licked that spot right in the middle of his neck. A faint thought about love-bites in the morning came to Phil, but he didn't care one iota about the comments it might attract. Right then he just wanted Nash to keep doing it, loving the feel of Nash's naked flesh on top of him, how the bites at his neck made his insides sear with heat.
Nothing could have compared to it. Until Nash stopped. He lifted his head, ran a thumb across Phil's lower lip. Phil nipped at the pad of Nash's thumb, which made Nash smile. Slowly, Nash began to kiss a line down Phil. He began with the conch piercing, the hoop in Phil's right ear, and gave an experimental tug with his tongue. Phil hissed a warning, and Nash stopped. Nash licked the spiked stud on his tragus piercing, before trailing down Phil's jawline, under his chin. The softness of his lips, the wetness of his tongue, were maddening with faint arousal, beautiful with tenderness.
Nash continued his path downwards, to the top of his chest, before heading to the right. Phil saw his eyes linger on his tattoos. Fellas before had gushed about them being sexy, or cracked silly jokes, but never had he seen such fascination. With his hot velvet tongue Nash traced the outline of the ones that curved from his shoulder to his chest, which made Phil squirm in a very good way. But his mouth left there, and Phil's eyes widened as Nash sunk his teeth onto his pierced right nipple.
"Oh yeah..." Phil growled as Nash began to nibble.
Suddenly, Nash bit down; sharp but oh so good, so fucking good that Phil cried out. Nash began to suck. The hoop click against his teeth, and Phil's hand flew to his mouth as he ached from the incisive shots of pleasure that wracked his body. Nash's cock was pressing into Phil's thigh. Phil gazed his teeth over his own knuckles, the feeling of Nash's mouth so perfect, almost too much. His cock was prodding Nash, engorged, ready to exploded if Nash so much as brushed it.
Nash gave one final bite, followed by a teasing tug at the hoop with his tongue, and he pulled back. Phil whimpered, and rolled his hips into Nash. He wanted to come so badly...
Nash slowly pulled himself forward, so his whole body was stretched right over Phil's. He slipped his hand between them, and Phil sensed Nash guiding his cock so it lay alongside Phil's. Phil glanced down, satisfied: his was a bit thicker, Nash's a bit longer, and both red, eager heads were demanding attention. Phil gripped Nash's hips, and held him tightly.
Nash adjusted himself on top of Phil, and looked deep into Phil's eyes. Phil swallowed, and reached up to cup Nash's cheek.
Nash again looked a little shy, and said, "So are you."
Then a swift determination filled Nash's eyes, and he bucked against Phil. Phil gasped as the friction between their cocks made his throb, and he pumped back in response. He twined his legs around Nash's, desperate to be as close to him as possible. Another thrust from Nash, a moan which Phil felt as a tremor in Nash's chest.
"Yes," Phil breathed. "Oh God, yes."
Nash lowered his head to Phil's shoulder, and began bucking with insistence.
A slick, wet heat formed between their bodies. Sweat and pre-cum merged as their cocks pressed together. They found a delicious rhythm, and Phil clung to Nash's back, looking over his shoulder, loving the sight of his arse thrusting again and again. Nash panted, a wonderful, puppy-like sound, so different from his usual voice, and Phil let his own moans echo around the room.
Trapped between him and Nash, Phil's cock was caught in a wet, raging fire. Without words, the grinding and thrusting sped up, each of them knowing it was time, that it was getting closer, that oh sweet God was almost there. It was like catching the crest of waves in the ocean, each carrying him to beautiful heights, but not quite sending him tumbling, not quite, not quite...
Until it did.
Phil cried out as his body began to tremble, to shudder with the ecstasy of the orgasm. A crashing release, a wildfire of pleasure running from his balls to his now coming cock, all the way up his back and down his legs. His head tossed from side to side, until Nash cupped his cheek, stilling him. Nash was saying his name – "Phil, Phil, yes, that's it Phil, that's it" – and it sounded warm and sexy and comforting and exciting all at once.
The waves subsided, and he realised that Nash was still grinding. Dazed, and though his cock was sensitive and still twitching, Phil dug his fingers into Nash's now sweaty back, and kept up himself, kept it up until Nash said "Oh God..." in a harsh whisper, and his legs spasmed and he pressed his weight hard against Phil. The breath almost left Phil, but he loved feeling Nash's cock pulse as it came, loved Nash's hot mouth against his neck as he rode his own climax against Phil's stomach.
Phil put his mouth against Nash's shoulder, kissing it hard. Nash squeezed Phil tight, and they lay there entwined, sweaty, sticky, the only sound in the bedroom their laboured breathing, before it gave way to a blissful silence.
Nash woke in the night, his eyes to the window, and saw a faint shard of moonlight on the floor where the curtains didn't quite cover the glass. He often woke up in the night, usually accompanied by a vague disquiet, but that night he was calm...and happy.
Slowly, Nash turned over, and smiled. Next to him, Phil lay on his back, one arm above his head, his face turned in Nash's direction. He was asleep, breathing steadily, looking peaceful, and gorgeous.
How long had it been since Nash had woken up next to someone? Too bloody long.
Nash propped himself up on one elbow, shuffled a little closer to Phil. He softly kissed Phil's shoulder, not wanting to wake him, but he soon saw eye lids flutter and the whites of Phil's eyes glisten in the dark.
"Sorry. Didn't meant to wake you," Nash whispered.
"Mmm. Doesn't matter."
Phil turned, and rubbed his cheek against Nash's chest, overnight stubble scratching on the chest hair. It allowed Nash to slip his arm under Phil's neck so he could lay it across his shoulders, so he could hold Phil while he looked at him. Even in the dark of the room Nash could make out Phil's shape, and the dark patches on his shoulder that were the tattoos. Just having Phil so near again made Nash's body tingle.
Nash slipped his hand under the duvet, down the side of Phil's chest, across his soft belly, and finally, onto Phil's cock. It was soft and sleepy, and Nash gave it a few easy rubs.
Phil chuckled low. "You'll get no joy out of that, I'm afraid."
"I'll take that as a challenge."
"Nah. Ain't gonna happen." Phil made a disgruntled sound. "Getting old."
Nash trailed his fingers through Phil's hair, easing the strands between his fingers like strong rope. He couldn't see the colour in the dark, but he said, "The grey looks good on you."
"Sure you don't mean grizzled?"
Nash gave him a gentle slap on the arm, which made Phil snicker. "Don't be daft." After a pause Nash asked, "How old are you?"
Phil sighed. "43." He rolled back to look at Nash. "You?"
"37. Nearly 38."
"Ah, you young-un."
Nash's hand left Phil's cock, found Phil's hand under the duvet, and clasped it. "Don't think it makes you a dirty old man."
Phil yawned, and said with a smile, "That's because I've been playing the innocent."
Nash laughed, but didn't state the obvious; no one would describe Phil as innocent.
Nash wanted to turn the light on, to see Phil's skin in full colour, so he could explore with his eyes as well as his hands. He would gladly have pulled back the duvet to reveal all of Phil, to see his beautiful form laid out in all its glory. But Phil was nuzzling sleepily at his chest, and would, Nash figured, be nodding off soon.
There would be time enough for more. Nash lay back down, his arm braced under Phil's neck, and held him very close.
When the daylight came, Nash woke on his back, with Phil's arm over his chest. Phil was on his stomach, blinking awake just as Nash turned to him. Phil grinned, eyes half closed, and he leaned into Nash and kissed him.
Nash would have continued, but the morning brought the sense of last night's stickiness to him with discomfort. They'd cleaned up with a hand towel afterwards, but Nash could still feel the residual cum on his stomach. He eased back from Phil's searching lips.
"Shower," he said.
Phil rolled his eyes, and started to move away, as if to go back to sleep, but Nash put his hand on his forearm.
Phil blinked, then smiled devilishly.
It wasn't a large shower, but it was enough for them to both stand and move a little. Nash had liked the opaque glass screen, for it made the show feel like a purpose built chamber for washing. When he turned the shower on, the water caught in Phil's curls. Phil shut his eyes, grinning a little wildly, clearly loving the water pouring down his skin. Nash ducked his own head under the fixture and shook the tumbling water through it. It danced down his back, a soothing feeling.
Phil began intoning about how good it felt, how much better the pressure was than in his own shower, murmuring with such enjoyment that Nash didn't think twice about dropping to his knees, grabbing Phil's thighs, and sliding his lips onto the head of Phil's cock. It was soft, and Phil at first only chuckled, but as Nash worked his tongue on the spongy head and shaft, it grew harder, expanding in mouth. Nash smiled around it, and sucked.
Phil stumbled back, and Nash eased him into the corner where the tiles met the screen. Phil braced one hand on the glass screen, and with the other caressed the back of Nash's head. Nash loved the taste of his cock, fresh with the water spilling on both of them, loved how Phil said his name in between breathed exclamations of 'fuck, yes, bloody hell.' He used all the tricks he knew to get Phil to come quickly, and was soon rewarded with a sharp jerk of Phil's body. Nash let his cock free of his mouth, holding only its base, and let Phil come on his chest, enjoying the hot semen spurting onto him as Phil craned back, mouth open, gasping. Nash smiled, pleased, so very pleased with that result.
As he stood, Nash said, "Got a lot of joy then, I see."
Phil kissed him, giving him a tight hug. Nash put his hand to the back of Phil's wet neck, and rocked him a little.
The water went cold before they got out of the shower. But they were clean, and after Nash hunted for a spare toothbrush, he asked Phil if he needed to be anywhere that day. When Phil shook his head, Nash asked him if he wanted to stay in.
"I cook a great breakfast," he added.
Phil smiled, and squeezed Nash's arse through the towel around his waist. "How could I say no to that?"
"So this new fella," Michael said, "you met him through work?"
Nash hadn't arrived yet, so Phil lingered outside Ice with Michael and Chris. Phil found he was crossing his arms, his foot tapping, a little ball of nerves hovering in his chest.
Phil gave a quick nod. "Yeah. He's...a cop."
Chris raised an eyebrow, the silver bar through the corner shifting as he did. "Oooh, is he like our dear detective Thorne, then?"
Phil snorted. "You gotta be kidding me."
Michael laughed. He was a self-proclaimed exile from Limerick, 6 foot 2 and long-limbed, in a way that made him seem sleek rather than gangly. They'd met at a crazy St Patrick's day event, both trying to take advantage of the 'Kiss me, I'm Irish!' theme of the night, and wound up instead talking into the wee hours over way too much Guinness.
"Aw, I always liked Detective Thorne," Chris said, and indeed, when Phil first introduced them, Chris had made his best effort to come on to Tom. Tom had taken it really well, and it was a night that Phil had kept in his mind, impressed with Tom's acceptance and good-natured approach. Not that he told Tom that; didn't do the man any good to boost his ego.
Even if Chris had been a woman, he wouldn't have been Tom's type. A short and broad bloke, Chris's right ear was lined with maybe ten different piercings; Phil had once counted them, but that was when he'd first slept with Chris not long after Phil had arrived in London, and Chris'd had more in since.
They'd shagged on and off again for a while until Phil had grown used to London, and to Chris. Sometimes Chris would look at him with a roving eye, but otherwise was a good buddy.
Phil spotted Nash about to cross the street. He'd come better dressed this time; a dark blue v-neck t-shirt, his coat over his arm, and Phil thought he spotted chisel-toed shoes on his feet. An attempt at trendy, but understated.
God, he looked good.
Michael and Chris suddenly both pointed at Phil, who took a step back as if to say 'what?'
"Would you look at that grin," Michael said, voice coy and teasing. Which unfortunately made that that grin even broader. The light changed, and Nash moved into the crowd crossing the road, vanishing from view.
"Oooh-er, someone's in lurve." Chris pinched Phil's cheek, and Phil took a playful swipe at him, so they were locking arms and pretending to batter each other when Nash appeared at Michael's shoulder, looking puzzled and bemused.
"Not interrupting, am I?" he asked.
Phil's grin subsided as he felt like the kid on the playground with mud smeared on his kecks, confronted with the boy the year above with the snappiest hair.
God-damnit Nash, he thought, you shouldn't still be able to do that to me.
Phil disentangled his arms from Chris and went to hug Nash. Nash's kiss on the cheek was firm, and his arms strong and more than a little possessive. Introductions were swift, Michael just being his pleasant self, Chris smirking a bit too much, and they went into Ice to find a table, Phil clasping Nash's hand and walking close.
They found a booth, and Nash set off to buy the first round. Phil looked at him heading to the bar, taking in his frame and face with a glow of satisfaction. Nash's presence had become so familiar to him now, and realised that he'd become a part of his life very quickly. How long had it been? A month? A month and a half? Maybe more? Phil had lost track, and he really didn't care too much. He'd realised it must have been a while when Michael and Chris had rung him up and wondered where he'd disappeared to. It meant, Phil realised, that it was time to introduce Nash to his wider circle of friends.
Which was so very normal that Phil was almost disconcerted by it. Phil ran through the list of his exes in his mind, and realised the longest relationship he'd had lasted four years. That had been Justin, whose mood swings had one day grown too much and Phil had stopped seeing him, frustrated and more angry at himself for waiting for Justin to change. He'd been younger then, and it was a long time ago; his life had been ruled by an increasing unsteadiness since he'd touched Frank Calvert's dead body and covered up Tom's crime. While the sins of the father had certainly repeated with the son, it was almost if the moment of James biting off his own tongue had caused Phil's own to relax; so many people knew what must have happened, but nothing could be proved. Nothing against him, or Tom.
It was never the guilt of having aided the murder of a serial killer that really got to Phil; it was that Tom wasn't there to talk about it, any of it. Not the horror of the aftermath, not the shitty life that James Calvert had been left with, not the three young girls on Phil's table in the morgue. Total silence from Tom. And Phil had never been one for keeping silent. The years of carrying the secret had gnawed at him like a old dog on a bare bone, until it – until he – had snapped with a vicious relief. Tom was the second person Phil had ever hit in his life. But when Phil first thought he'd gotten Tom out of his life, he realised that he actually liked the bastard too much to do that.
It was Phil who'd made the first phone call to Tom and asked him for a drink. The first time had been only days after Phil had spent the night with Nash. A slightly awkward evening, with Tom alternatively talking too much or not enough, and Phil still unwilling to give him more details about what was happening. The drinks became regular, and after a number of weeks, Phil had told him it was Nash he was seeing.
Tom had made a quiet smile. "I thought so."
Phil had rolled his eyes. "Colour me unsurprised that you figured it out. Spare me the breakdown of the leaps of intuition it took to get you there."
If Tom had been disappointed, he didn't show it.
"He told me it was you who said he should speak to me face to face." Phil had looked ruefully into his pint. "Guess I'm a little grateful for that."
Tom had chuckled. " 'Go shag him' is a rather inspired interpretation of what I meant."
Phil had cuffed Tom on the shoulder. "Tosser!"
Only when Phil had sat on the bus home had he realised while Tom might have brought him and Nash together, it was Nash who had nudged him and Tom further back into each others’ lives.
Though even as Phil celebrated that he and Tom were emerging from the shadows of the Calverts, that didn't mean Tom would have been happy with Phil talking about it to someone else. For years, it was their secret. Now, proof or no proof, it didn't change the fact that Tughan knew, that half of Tom's station knew. Tughan had never liked Phil. Sure, it could be dismissed as hearsay and conjecture, but it wasn't something Phil wanted Nash to hear about on the winds of the Met. And when Nash heard it, Phil wanted it to be the truth. How he would take it, Phil didn't know; sometimes Phil imagined he'd listen with an understanding, and other times...Phil had to block out the image of Nash leaving in disgust. It wasn't the time to tell him. Not just yet.
Nash came back with the drinks. He sat down, back straight, already a sharp contrast to the slouches of the others. The music changed, an early Depeche Mode track that Phil couldn't quite remember the name of. Nash cocked his head in the direction of the speakers, appearing to listen intently.
Chris leaned forward, smirking. "Not your sort of music, Nash?"
Nash shook his head. "Not usually. But I'll make exceptions for these guys."
"Phil's been rubbing off on you, then?" Michael said.
"He's learning." Phil squeezed Nash's knee, which earned him a small smile.
Then Chris said, "Phil tells us you're more up for that really high class faggy stuff, opera and shit like that."
Phil tried to hide his wince, and quickly corrected Chris’s words. "I didn't put it like that."
Nash said quietly, "Yes, I'd imagine not."
Phil glared at Chris, who didn't notice as his eyes were intent on Nash. He'd not mentioned to the others that Nash was decidedly against ironic reclaiming of words like 'fag' (that one particularly set Nash's teeth on edge). Unless he was angry. Which he might be very soon if Chris continued like that.
"You could say that," Nash continued, looking squarely at Chris. "Though I'm not sure how opera is more queer than, shall we say, Kylie."
"Hey!" Chris’s beer bottle thumped the table. "Kylie's a fucking goddess, an icon. Who amongst your classy composers can you call that?"
"Well, there is Tchaikovsky. Not an icon, but he was gay and important to classical music."
"I'd heard that he was gay." Michael leaned in, conversationally, trying to put a bit of space between Chris and Nash's growing enmity. "He did Swan Lake, right?"
Phil nodded, and said, "We went and saw it the other night."
It was Michael's turn to look surprised. "What? You convinced him to go to the ballet?" He looked at Nash, impressed. "You're giving our Phil some culture."
Nash squeezed Phil's thigh under the table, and said, a bit cheekily, "It was Matthew Bourne's version, so it didn't take much convincing."
Blank looks from the others, and Phil shook his head at Nash. Like they'd know choreographers names.
"It's the one where they have male swans instead of women," he explained.
Chris perked up, and looked more than a little interested. "Wait? Male swans? Is it any good? How camp is it?"
Phil grinned. "Well, they're not in tutus, but they move like magic and are fit as hell."
Chris raised an eyebrow. "How fit?"
"You'll have to go and see for yourself," Nash murmured, and winked at Chris over his beer bottle. Chris, at last, settled back in his chair, and raised his bottle to Nash.
Phil relaxed back into his seat, and took Nash's hand.
It was partly true that the promise of blokes naked from the waist up had enticed Phil to go along with Nash, but Phil had always liked dance. He'd just rarely had the opportunity to go with someone. Rarely had someone to...date. And they were dating, him and Nash. Like normal, like everyone, gay, straight, somewhere in between, did. Doing those really drippy couple-like things, like dinner and ballet. While Phil would never had admit it out loud, he loved it, spending all this time with a gorgeous fella who he was really, really enjoying getting to know. Their tastes ran in different directions – Swan Lake was one thing, but Phil had not been keen on going to a Bach concert. He did listen to the CDs Nash lent him though. In recompense, Phil had insisted that Nash watch some of Phil's collection of classic sci-fi, and Nash had acquiesced. As long as it wasn't Star Wars.
By the third round, everyone was a lot more relaxed. When Phil came back to the table with the fourth, he saw Nash smiling at Chris's ribbing, while Chris had swapped places with Michael and had slung his arm around Nash, grinning like a fool. Michael was always plain decent to everyone, and gave Phil a soft nudge when he sat down.
"He's nice." Michael said it low so the others didn't hear it, and Phil exhaled, relieved. He caught Nash's eye, and winked at him. Nash beamed back.
Nash smiled more, and laughed a lot when they were together. That incredibly sweet chuckle that he'd made that night in Phil's office was no longer a rare occurrence, though usually only when they were alone in Phil's or Nash's apartment. It became apparent that Nash liked his nights in, and while Phil still needed to party, he enjoyed the warmness of it being just the two of them in the kitchen or on the couch.
Later, when Nash went to the loo, Phil gave the others an expression, waiting for their assessment.
Michael nodded, approvingly. "Like I said, he's very nice. Pleased for you."
"Yeah, good bloke." Chris was drunkenly smiling, so at least, Phil knew, it was genuine. Then Chris added, "You can tell he's a copper, though."
Phil gave Chris a look. "What does that mean?"
"Hey, easy. Just saying. He's like dear old Tom – fun and all, but got that impenetrable shell thing going on."
Michael chuckled. "Oh, I'm sure Phil's managed to penetrate that shell often."
Phil didn't respond to that, taking a sip from his bottle. Chris could be a bit of a git sometimes, but on that point, he'd hit the mark.
Phil recalled the night that Nash had invited him over, and had chopped leeks with such sharp blows that pieces had scattered across the kitchen counter.
When Phil had jumped at one particularly loud strike, he at last said, "You ok?"
Nash had taken a swig of beer, sneering at the bottle.
"Work. It's..." Nash had shaken his head, and made a noise half like a sigh, but mostly like a growl. "If it's not the bastards we're scrubbing off the streets it's some daft witnesses who can barely keep their sweat pants on. And then there's the rest of them at the station. Most are alright but the ones who aren't are just fucking incompetent."
Phil had blinked at Nash for a long while. It wasn't the first time he'd gone off about work, but Phil wasn't quite used to thinking of Nash without his usual delicacy. When he spoke, he'd seemed even more rigid, harsh and implacable.
"South-East seems to be rubbing its roughness off on you," Phil had said.
Nash had stared at Phil full on. Phil had shifted back.
Nash had finally said, "I'm a cop and a queer, Phil. You either toughen up or get off the force."
It had taken Phil a moment to respond. "Just...you're normally so...refined." He'd been thinking 'kind', but to say that out loud would have sounded awful.
Phil had had to develop his own toughness when he was in the mortuary; blood had never made him queasy, but from time to time the sheer fact of death got to him. That Nash could be that hard, that steely, was an adjustment in his mind he was still getting used to.
That he was able to penetrate that toughness...well. Phil picked at the label on his bottle as he thought on that.
Phil took every opportunity he had to watch Nash lose control. He'd go down on Nash in Nash's kitchen, Nash almost falling over Phil in his arousal, Phil holding his legs straight while he licked and sucked Nash's tasty cock. Still, it was difficult to get Nash to tell him what he wanted. Oh, there were things he did; after that first night in the Firebrand, he knew that Nash loved to watch. The one night he'd gone over to Phil's and Phil had put on a porn video, Nash had blushed horribly, and sat with his arms crossed, pretending he wasn't enjoying the slender young things writhe all over each other.
"Not my cup of tea, Phil..." he'd said, but Phil had grasped his cock through his trousers, and sucked him off as the video rolled on. Nash was red all over by the end of it, and despite the embarrassment, looked really bloody happy.
Phil never had a problem with asking Nash to bite harder, to sometimes be a little rougher with his cock, to suckle on his inner thigh until he couldn't stop his leg from quivering. He felt so damn sexy under Nash's eyes. Phil knew well enough his own attractiveness, but Nash's gaze opened him up, like an apple being segmented and devoured.
Nash came back from the loo and sat, allowing Phil to put an arm around him, which got a chorus of 'oh aren't you two cute?' from Chris and Michael. Phil cast his eyes down, and noticed that Nash's jeans were straining in the front. Nash wasn't otherwise showing his arousal, but when Phil leaned in to kiss his cheek, his skin was hot.
Phil said in his ear, "Time to go."
Michael shook Nash's hand, telling him it was lovely to meet him, while Chris even stood and reached up to give Nash a big hug.
"You, Inspector Nash, are awesome."
Nash laughed, and gave him a farewell kiss on the cheek. Phil left the Ice with a much lighter chest than when he'd entered.
As they sat on the bus back to Phil's, inevitability nibbled at his stomach. He knew what would happen when they got back. They'd kiss, perhaps with hot passion, perhaps with tender intensity, but they'd do that until one of them began to undress the other. Clothes would fall off as they stumbled into the bedroom, where they would crawl onto the duvet, naked. Phil would begin to speak, wanting so much to ask if Nash would let him fuck him, and Nash would already have their cocks pressed together in his hand, Phil's perhaps almost purple with how hard he was.
When they were in the middle of frotting, their two perfect shafts rubbing together, Phil would lose himself to the moment. When he came, when they came, Nash's cum would spurt onto his cock like a spray of lava, and they'd kiss immediately afterwards, clutching each other, breathing ragged. It would be wonderful...and still, the condoms in his bathroom would sit untouched, and the lube he'd bought the day after he met Nash would remain unopened. Phil would be very content, and Nash would look so damn relaxed, about the only time he totally relaxed. So much so that Phil couldn't find it in himself to bring up the matter.
He'd tried dropping hints. When alone, Phil would siddle up behind Nash, press his cock against Nash's arse cheeks, rub there until Nash would turn around, and either kiss him, or stroke him, or go down on him, but never offer his arse to Phil. And Phil was beginning to crave that next step something fierce.
It was the same when they got home that night. They came, cock against cock, mouths locked together, swallowing each other's moans. It was hot and intense and beautiful, but afterwards, Phil ran his fingers along the line where Nash's cheeks parted, and knew that he'd just have to ask one day, and soon.
Big thanks again to Tallyyho and Susan for the beta read, and to Threeoranges for the opera advice - I fudged my knowledge of it here and the additional pointers were very appreciated!
You can also read 'Stripped' in Russian - thanks to Evillen for the translation! Stripped - Part 4 - Russian translation
Phil lay across the couch, elbow propped up on the arm. His cheeks were pink, and the glass he held of sparkling white wine was nearly empty.
Nash started the CD player, and the opening notes of Act II of Madama Butterfly slipped out of the speakers. Over dinner, Nash had given him the synopsis, and said they should start from the second half, which had the more famous arias from the opera; he suspected Phil might rebelled if he subjected him to the entirety of the recording. He turned to Phil, to see if he was still up for this. Phil put his hand out with a flourish along the length of the couch, inviting Nash to join him.
After Nash refilled both their glasses, he eased Phil's legs up, and sat with Phil's calves on his lap. Phil had taken off his shoes and socks earlier. On his left foot, circling his second toe, was his very first tattoo. Tiny Celtic patterns forming a ring. He'd told Nash about getting that when he'd been just a fraction too young for it to be technically legal, but his father had found out when he'd realised Phil was limping about the house.
"Were you punished?" Nash had asked.
"Nah. Da just rolled his eyes." Phil had shrugged. "I think he'd already given up on me by that point."
Nash had put his arm around Phil, and Phil had just looked wry. "It's gotten better. When Mother was alive...she was as good as about as any dyed-in-the-wool Catholic can be."
Phil didn't give more details, and Nash didn't ask for any. He thought of his parent's terse acceptance – they never, ever asked about his private life – and Emilia's tight hug when he came out to her. He tried to imagine Dublin in the 1980s, how Phil would have coped.
Nash stroked Phil's shins, caressing the hard bone beneath the material. Phil sipped at the bubbles, grinning at Nash over his glass.
"Very good," Nash said.
Phil smirked. "I'm not that ignorant, and it's not like Madame Butterfly is obscure."
"And what do you know of it apart from the Humming Chorus?"
Phil didn't answer, only muttered something sarcastic, and turned away, listening again to the music. Nash chuckled, and took a mouthful of the wine, letting the bubbles tingle on his tongue. He closed his eyes as Suzuki began praying to Buddha for Cio-cio San's happiness.
Only two months of seeing Phil, and Nash was happy. Not just mildly content, but happy. His usual mode was a general sense of taut unease, of keeping his eyes wide open and his senses ready to strike. His superiors were letting the issue of whether he'd been permanently promoted linger, but right now it was about the furthest thing from his mind. His work ethic didn't change, nor did his results, but Christ, it felt much better showing up to work.
For a while, Falls didn't ask him about it. That was understandable; she'd seen Weiss kill Metal right in front of her. Then one Tuesday she stuck her head around the door and said, casually, "You still seeing that Irish bloke?" Soon Nash was telling her about the outings, swapping suggestions for bars and places she was going with Stokes.
Brant had taken to just asking his name. "Phil?"
The first time Nash had frowned and said, "What about him?"
Brant had shrugged. "How is he?"
A nod. "Good." And so the conversation went ever after. Once Brant had clapped Nash on the shoulder and said, "If he needs it, I have a hurley and a sharp swing."
It was, Nash later told a guffawing Phil, Brant's unique way of showing he cared.
Neither Falls or Brant brought up the possibility of meeting him, nor did Nash. None of them were ready for that.
Phil shifted on the couch, and Nash opened his eyes.
"Not falling asleep, are you?" Phil asked.
Nash shook his head. "I'm enjoying it. Are you?"
"I am, actually. I'm impressed by their voices. I thought there'd be long stretches of boring chatter, but this isn't too bad."
Nash winked at Phil. "I'm giving it to you the easy way – this is Act II; a lot more chattering in Act I. See, the idea was that they were reviving classical Greek drama. Opera as we know it first started in the 16th century, when the humanists were trying to revive all things Greek. They thought that the Greek chorus sung all the words of the play, so it was like they were trying to return to the old ways." Nash grinned. "Of course, this made more sense when the audiences were all Italian and could understand everything without surtitles."
Phil looked ironically impressed, which meant that he actually was. "You should be on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?' "
"I only know opera."
Phil finished off his glass, and looked for the bottle. Nash shook his head.
"All gone, I'm afraid."
"Damn." Phil flopped back on the couch. "That was good."
Phil waggled an eyebrow at him. "You'll be horrified at how cheap it was."
It hadn't been quite what Nash had meant. When Phil had arrived earlier that evening, he'd not only had the bottle, but also some news.
"Tests all came back." He held his arms out. "All clear. No hepatitis, no HIV, no chlamydia, and definitely no genital warts."
Nash had put a hand to his face. "I think I'd have noticed genital warts by now."
Phil had put the bottle on the kitchen counter. "And you?"
Nash had nodded. "Clean bill of health."
Phil had grinned, and put his hands on Nash's cheeks, and kissed him. Neither of them had really thought there was something to worry about, but the confirmation was a small weight off their minds.
It had been Phil who brought it up. "Call me paranoid," Phil had said, "but you learn far too much in the lab about disease and how it spreads."
"I'd rather be paranoid than sick," Nash had responded. Neither of them said 'or dead.'
The timing for the tests had been right; they were seeing each other at least three times a week, and it felt like more because they'd wake up together in one or other's bed. Nash would feel Phil's breath on his neck as daylight came, and he always wanted to stay right there, wrapped in the warmth.
Only three weeks after meeting Phil, Nash had told Emilia. He rang her up with the express purpose of telling her he'd met someone, but she’d guessed after only a minute of cheerful greetings, and Nash had been unable to stop his grin from spreading to his words. She didn't demand details, but Nash gave them to her anyway. Her only concern was that he might be too close to his line of work, but as Nash pointed out, Phil wasn't police.
"You sound very well," she'd said. "I'm so pleased for you, Portly. Really."
Emilia wasn't the only one. After Nash had met Phil's friends, he returned the favour, and they'd found themselves in a swanky cocktail bar in Kensington with Jason and Catherine.
Jason dressed so sharply you could have cut yourself on his cuffs. His eyes had been the first thing Nash had noticed about him at university – piercing electric blue, which had had everyone, women and men, after him, and Jason thoroughly enjoyed having the pick of both, though he was so discreet about it that Nash never knew whether he was seeing someone or not. Jason had liked Phil's piercings, and had been fascinated by his work.
"Feels like something out of a cop show," Jason had said, which earned a raised eyebrow from Nash, though he'd missed it. An awareness of irony had never been one of Jason's strong points.
Catherine had been more guarded. She didn't say much, which was perhaps a blessing; her tongue was sometimes so fast it could cause whiplash. But she'd sidled up to Nash at the bar later in the evening, and said;
"Thought you were going for a bit rough at first, but he's good for you. He'll keep you grounded."
Nash had cocked his head. "Grounded? I hardly have my head in the clouds."
"No, Nash." She'd kissed his cheek. "I meant the other way."
That he'll keep me out of the black holes, Nash realised. Which was true. Even though Phil was a creature of the night, and Nash liked walks through Hyde Park, Phil was far brighter than he was; sunny when Nash was like an overcast sky.
Yet not always. Work didn't impinge on what they had as much as he thought it would, but there were times that he thought too hard about what it was that Phil did. Nash saw corpses, but he didn't open them up, didn't examine their insides for the cause of the heart ceasing to function, didn’t plunge elbow-deep into what was left of human beings.
"You see death everyday – how do you remain so cheerful?" Nash once asked.
Phil had shrugged. "Death's part of life. And I'm not dead yet." He patted Nash's thigh, and smiled reassuringly.
That brightness was, however, something of a mask – Nash had arrived at Phil's apartment one night, takeaway cartons in hand, to find him with sunken features and the second beer well under way.
"He was barely twenty. Barely fucking twenty," was all Phil said about it, and it was only after Nash had forced him to eat the sweet-and-sour pork, and Nash had gently gotten him off with a steady hand, that Phil said the kid reminded him of his younger brother.
"He didn't even look like him, and Patrick is long past twenty. But..." Phil had bunched his fist to his mouth, and Nash had held him for a long time, just nodding as Phil talked his way through it.
Nash sipped what was left of his wine, and the opera continued. Cio-cio San, a stunning performance by Angela Gheorghiu, was longing for her husband Pinkerton to come back, picturing the moment when he would be with her once more. All that trust, all that love, for a man who had never been worthy of her. Passionate, rich with emotion, and so beautiful it never failed to seep into his chest and tug at his heart.
"Wow...that's a voice..." Phil breathed, finger playing at his lower lip as he listened.
Nash smiled, raking his eyes across Phil's body. Having Phil in the apartment made it much less empty. Phil was larger than his frame suggested, and his presence filled the rooms with life that Nash wasn't used to. Phil had commented, several times, that the décor really didn't suggest much of Nash himself, beyond the similarities in the clean lines, and the need for everything to be precise. Looking across at him now, draped elegantly across the sofa, Nash thought that Phil made the best décor anyone could ask for. But he didn't say it aloud.
Nash's hand wandered to Phil's thigh, but no further. He'd hear the end of the aria. Even though he sensed Phil's cock beginning to stir through the denim.
Rarely had Nash been so satisfied with sex. Phil was eager and experienced, knowing exactly how to touch and kiss Nash until he was almost jelly on the floor, or the bed, or the couch. And he loved just stroking Phil. Sometimes Nash would lie next to him, and run a single fingertip along the corona of Phil's cock; that hard part at the base of the glans on Phil, he discovered, had his eyelashes fluttering with the simplest flick.
But when they were pressed together, cocks rubbing against each others, Phil's balls heavy and hot against his own, Nash was in heaven. When tangled in each others' arms and legs, kissing as their hips gyrated and thrust, Nash lost all sense of time, of place, and was just there for the pleasure between them. Either him stretched over Phil, or Phil on top of him, or lying next to each other, Nash came every time, wrapped against Phil, so keen for Phil's release as much as his own.
There were times that Nash worried that Phil would let him go too far. He saw the love bites that his teeth left on Phil's skin, and brushed at them in the mornings after, frowning. Yet Phil wore them like proud battle scars, smirking at Nash while they showered together. Those were amazing, the showers. At first they'd been sex-fuelled events, the water cold by the time they'd finished. Now they were scrubbing each other down, able to hold each others' cocks or balls gently to clean them, and kisses to each others’ shoulders were more sweet than sexy.
Two months, and Phil was as close to Nash as anyone could be. Yet, Nash knew there was still a small wall between them. Still something that kept them at a distance from each other. He could name what his was. Phil may have thought that Barry Weiss, and his horrible resemblance to Phil, was dead and buried. And while Nash had long reconciled the difference between the two, the truth about what happened to Weiss sat like an imovable rock in his line of sight.
There was no guilt whatsoever about his and Brant's act of vengeance – no, act of righteousness. But how do you tell someone that and make them believe it too? How would they respect you after that? Care about you? Want to keep being intimate? The thought of Phil recoiling from him, of flinching at Nash reaching for him, made Nash's stomach flop. Yet how long could they go on with him not telling Phil? Six months? A year? Three years?
Phil had claimed that he didn't like secrets. And Nash knew, for most people, to keep something hidden close to the heart could break it, could make it crumble, bit by bit. Phil must have known that to be so vehement, and Nash wondered what more there was to Phil than his otherwise open attitude was letting on. It was almost as if his expansiveness was a deliberate deflection from his darkness. If Nash were honest, it was what everyone else did; they pretended they didn't have it, or hid it. Nash knew he kept his concealed with his pristine appearance. No one suspects the squeaky clean, neatly dressed bloke, even if he is gay. Brant was one of the rare ones who made no secret of his shadow side, that he wasn't above using brutal force when he saw that the path of rules and law didn't yield justice. Nash, it turned out, was not much different. But a station only had room for one rule-breaker, and Nash wasn't going to compromise that position to unleash the dark reality of what he was.
The music began to soften, to patter. Nash knew what was coming, and so did Phil.
"Ah, here it is." Phil looked pleased, and a little sleepy. "This part I know."
The Humming Chorus, one of those opera pieces that had become, Nash felt, almost cliché, so much that it was easy to overlook its beauty and soft brilliance.
Phil was having no such difficulty. He seemed to drift away with the music, head lolling side to side with the voices, hands up and moving like a lazy conductor. Nash, who knew each note intimately, began to lean forward, and shift closer to Phil. When Phil's thighs were under his, Nash reached up to Phil's chin. He tilted Phil's head back with one finger, and sought out his lips. Phil murmured in his mouth, wet and delicious, his exposed throat making him seem so open, as if for Nash's taking.
Still kissing him, Nash found the buttons on Phil's shirt, and undid them, all the way down, until he could lay his palm on Phil's bare stomach.
When Nash pulled back, Phil's eyes stayed closed, and he softly hummed with the chorus. Nash grinned, and tripped his fingers down Phil's chest, in time with each note drop – ding, ding, ding. Phil giggled as Nash continued the feather-light tapping down the length of Phil's hardening cock, and then back up again, to Phil's belt buckle.
"Didn't think opera turned you on." Nash pulled the belt out from the loops.
"No. But you do," Phil said, voice husky. Nash's chest swelled, and he undid Phil to release his cock, to marvel at how erect it was.
Nash moved Phil's legs so he could kneel between them. As soft as the voices of the chorus, Nash licked Phil’s thigh, tongued the line where his hip met his leg, and kissed a half circle around the edge of his pubic hair. Phil breathed steadily, put his hand against the back of Nash's head, told him that was so nice, so sweet, oh Nash, oh Nash...
When Nash slid his mouth onto Phil's cock, Phil arched back. He slid his hands under Phil's thighs, and held his buttocks so Nash could freely devour him. Phil kept his body curved into Nash's hold, and soon was panting, gasping as Nash sank further and further onto him, Nash so relaxed by the wine and the music that he deep-throated Phil three times.
"Oh Jesus, oh Jesus," Phil hissed each time. "My God, Nash, oh my..."
Nash relished the hardness of arousal, the softness of Phil's skin, the scent of him, how the head of his cock filled his mouth, how Phil gasped when he truly sucked rather than just bobbed his head.
At last Phil came. He grabbed the back of Nash's head. His balls contracted, his cock throbbed, and as Phil moaned Nash's name, Nash kept his lips right there. Hot spunk shot into his mouth, and he sucked harder, drawing Phil's orgasm out of him, wanting to taste him, to drink all of him.
The recording had continued, the humming chorus long over. Nash lifted his head to look down at Phil's panting, spent body. He pulled his hands out, and Phil grabbed one of them, and brought it to his lips.
Nash ran his fingers through Phil's hair, clinging to it like he would a life raft.
They'd not seen each other for a week, and Phil was ready to explode. Work had kept both of them back late, and plans had to be cancelled and rearranged, so by the time they had a free night, all either of them wanted was a night in. Phil offered to cook, and Nash offered a bottle of wine.
When Phil went shopping, he decided, standing in the queue for the till, that he was going to have to make the first move to fucking. Tonight would be the perfect night for it. Nash was just as horny as he was, he knew, even if he said nothing about sex in their back-and-forth texts.
After that, as Phil tidied up the flat waiting for Nash, it was all he could think about. He thought of Nash underneath him, legs splayed, his hole open and filled with Phil's cock. How tight would he be? How much would he moan as Phil eased himself in and out of him? They'd had the tests done, so Phil could put it in without a condom, and that thought made Phil's hand press down to keep it all calm. Not before then would he come. Not before.
Though when Phil opened the door to a very sexy-looking Nash, he almost forgot that promise to himself. Only the thought of what the night would bring stopped him.
It took all of Nash's will power not to undress Phil at the front door and throw him against the wall. He instead kissed him politely, and passed the bottle of wine to him. He'd been looking forward to this all day; the distance from the South East to Phil's flat in Angel never felt so far. Brant had given him a leery eye when he'd started whistling down the corridor on their way out to talk to a potential witness. He'd swallowed it, but Brant had sniggered, and kept on sniggering all the way to tower block and back.
They found themselves in the kitchen, Nash chopping tomato for Phil, them sharing a glass of wine and quick kisses between the stove, sink and fridge.
"I like this," Nash said, arm around Phil's waist as the chicken, cream and stock simmered on the stove.
"This?" Phil tightened his grip around Nash's shoulders.
"Well yes, but I meant actually cooking something, not just popping a Sainsbury's ready-meal in the microwave."
"God, you cops. Tom's almost as bad."
"Hey, at least it's not Tex Mex every night." Nash shuddered, thinking of what Brant's diet must surely be doing to his insides.
They ate in silence on the couch, Phil sometimes offering Nash the food at the end of his fork, which Nash took, grinning around pieces of tomato and chicken. Phil winked at him, then kissed him, lips creamy and full of flavour. They barely finished the food when their plates clattered to the coffee table and Phil was pulling Nash to him.
Their mouths locked together. Nash dug his fingers into Phil's back as he sunk into the couch, Phil's weight easing him down. Nash's flesh burned. He was eager to taste Phil, wanted skin against skin, to be close after days of not seeing him, wanted to devour him, the perfect dessert after dinner.
Nash gasped when Phil pulled back, grinning wildly. He ran his hands down Nash's chest, and tugged his shirt out from his trousers. Phil undid the lower button, and Nash helped him by starting at the top. When their hands met, Nash curled his fingers around Phil's, and brought them up to his lips. Phil exhaled, and when Nash released his hands, he swiftly unzipped Nash, tugged his trousers and briefs down. The cold air of the room only had the briefest moment to touch Nash's cock before Phil was on it, his wet mouth sucking with savage grace.
Soon, Nash was rolling his hips into Phil's mouth, Phil holding Nash's sides, guiding him in and out. Nash couldn't look away from Phil's lips wrapped around his cock, the sliding up and down so fucking gorgeous. Phil brought him to the brink twice, but each time held back, not letting Nash come. Nash was bucking so hard that then Phil pulled away, and Nash almost mewled at the loss of his mouth.
Phil chuckled, and ran one finger tip from the base to the slit of Nash's cock. "I know, I know...but..."
Nash sat up a little more. "But what?"
Phil met his eyes dead on. "I'd really like to fuck you tonight."
As aroused as Nash was, as hot and as keen as he was to come, those words made his stomach a little cold.
"Fuck me?" he breathed.
Phil kissed his hip bone. "I want to be inside you." He spoke in a low, sincere voice.
Nash's body went a little stiff. By his side, his hands curled up so his nails began to dig into his palms. Why now, Phil? Why now? he thought. Isn't this enough? Isn’t it perfect the way it is now?
He thought of exes who'd turned gruff at his refusal, who'd sneered and mocked him for it, of those occasional blokes he'd brought home to find them rolling their eyes and only getting into it half-heartedly after that.
But Phil's eyes were brimming with such need, and though both pride and shame prickled in his throat, Nash nodded, and said okay.
The smile on Phil's face was so delighted that guilt boiled in Nash's guts as Phil took his hand, and stood him up to lead him to the bedroom. Phil left him there, undressing as he moved to the bathroom. Nash knew what he was going to fetch. Nash sat on the edge of the bed, bent over, elbows on his knees, eyes on the floor, inhaling as evenly as he could. Already he felt himself softening, the heat leaving his body. When he heard Phil's footsteps back into the room, he looked up, and saw Phil's chest heaving, his cock very erect and red, his nipples at attention. In Phil's hand was a tube of lubricant. Nash almost asked about the condoms, then remembered. They'd sorted that out.
Nash swallowed. "How do you want me?"
A smirk. "As you are." When Nash didn't react, Phil added, "On your side, knees tucked up."
Nash obeyed as Phil put the items on the second pillow. Phil knelt on the bed, crawled towards Nash, and loomed over him. Phil was grinning so much, that Nash tried to respond in kind. Then Phil bent down to kiss him. Nash only moved his lips in response to Phil's passion, and made a small smile as Phil kissed his way down his arm, down his side, to his hip, and then along the side of his thigh. Nash stopped himself from twitching when Phil stroked his anus, running his finger around the outside of it.
He sensed Phil reaching, and heard the pop of the tube of lubricant. Nash didn't look at anything as the squelching sound of liquid leaving the bottle found his ears.
Phil kissed the top of Nash's thigh again, and brushed a finger, now cold with lube, once more to the opening. Nash told himself to breath, and he screwed up his eyes very tight as Phil inserted the first finger.
Phil grunted, working his index finger in Nash, seeking his prostate, seeking something that would reward Phil with Nash's hot puppy-like pants. "Relax...you're so tight you might snap my finger off."
No sound from Nash, only a nod. Phil had been so intent on Nash's arse that he hadn't really looked at his face, so only caught the bob of Nash's chin in his line of sight. After he tried a little longer, and still heard nothing, his gaze moved upwards.
Well fuck, he thought.
Nash wore an expression like he was at the doctor's, being examined in intimate places with a forbearance of someone who knew this had to happen, but was finding it really uncomfortable. It was the least sexy thing Phil could think of.
He stopped moving his finger. "This isn't working."
Nash opened one eye. "Sorry?"
Phil slid his fingers out. He reached over to the bedside table and yanked a tissue out of the box, and wiped his fingers on it.
"You're not into it."
He watched the moment where Nash clearly considered saying it wasn't true, before deciding to say what he was really feeling.
"Not really, no."
Settling back on his knees, his cock still hard, Phil sighed. "And I'm guessing you weren't too keen to start with."
Nash swallowed hard, Adam's apple bobbing awkwardly. "Yeah, you're right."
Oh fucking hell, Phil thought.
"Why then...no, forget it."
Stupid didn't begin to cover how he felt. Only now, as Nash sat up, Phil saw that his cock wasn't hard, that he was hunching over as if to protect himself. Noticed what he should have, before giving Nash what passed for a bloody awkward prostate examination.
Jesus H. fucking Christ, Phil thought. He ran a hand through his hair, gritting his teeth through frustrated arousal and blasted exasperation. He'd wanted this so badly. So damn badly. Wanted to feel Nash clenching around his cock; tight, slick, amazing. Wanted to hear the man – his fella – moaning and begging. Nash had looked so hot on his couch, lying back in throes of pleasure while Phil went down on him; he'd been so into it. The sudden change, that he was no longer enjoying what Phil was doing to him, but rather, enduring it...
Phil groaned, and felt like an arsehole.
"I'm sorry, Phil."
He sounded it, too. Which made it worse.
Phil shook his head, eyes at last meeting Nash's, which looked baleful, hound-like. A little pathetic.
"Why did you let me start? If you didn't want it...just...why?"
"Thought you really wanted it."
That didn't help either. "Yeah, but not with you looking like it was an alien anal probe."
A hint of a smile wavered on Nash's lips, but Phil's attempt at humour ultimately didn't work. Nash still said nothing, staring at some spot on the duvet.
Phil got up, his cock at least going down, and he found his boxers and pulled them on with a sharp jerk. He was about to find his jeans, when Nash spoke.
"To be very honest, Phil...I'm happy with how things are."
Phil turned back. He couldn't quite believe what he was hearing. Was Nash for real? He put his hands on his hips. "You're happy with just...frotting about?"
Nash shot him a hard look. "Just?"
"Well, we haven't gone all the way yet, Nash. I mean, don't you want – "
But Nash wasn't listening. "How can you say it was just that? Just? Jesus, Phil, thanks! Thanks a lot."
Nash swung his legs to the side of the bed and swept up his own briefs and trousers. He began pulling them back on, haltingly.
Phil tried to hold back a sneer, but couldn't. "What, you were content to keep going like we were without ever fucking?"
"You think we haven't had sex yet? That this has just been an extended form of foreplay? Fucking hell, Phil, I've had your cock in my mouth and swallowed your cum!"
Phil stepped back, the heat of Nash's words like a slap. "That's not what I meant."
Nash stood, zipping up his trousers then buttoning with a snap. "Sounded like it."
It was the dreadful quietness of Nash's voice that got under Phil's skin. Right under it, with sharp pricks.
"You'd think I'd asked for the blood of your first born. It's not the end of the world!"
Nash shook his head, walked briskly into the living area. Phil followed, hand twisted in his hair to try and keep him calm. Nash found his shirt. He was muttering something as he buttoned up, and Phil only heard it when he got closer.
"So typical. So bloody typical."
"What? That I like fucking blokes up the arse? Is that it? News for you, Nash, I'm queer as they come, and so are you. Shouldn't exactly be a surprise."
Nash rounded on him. "So we should just do it automatically? We're only gay if we bend over or shove it where the sun don't shine?"
Phil's throat went tight with rage. His voice was choked when he spoke.
"Do not put words in my mouth."
Nash shook his head, and didn't pause buttoning up his shirt. "Don't have to."
And Phil's rage unleashed in a shout. "Oh grow up!"
"I'll see myself out."
Nash turned and went to the door, grabbing his suit jacket and coat from the stand, and slammed the door shut. Leaving Phil alone with anger shaking through his body, and a hot thick spot in his throat.
"Shit!" Phil spun around and beat a fist against the bookshelf. The shelves rocked, a paperback tumbling to the ground. Phil ignored it, and lunged towards his drinks cupboard for something very very alcoholic.
Big thanks again to Tallyyho and Susan for the beta read, and a quick acknowledgement Threeoranges who, on at last watching Blitz, suggested an exchange between Brant and Nash. I won't spoil which one, but you'll probably be able to guess. ;)
Nash sighed, the interruption an annoyance he didn't try to hide. "What is it, Falls?"
Falls blinked, mouth opening cod-fish like. "I was just..."
Fuck, the people in this place, Nash thought, and said, "Don't dither, I'm busy."
Falls' head jerked back a little, and after a ridiculously long pause, she shook her head. "It can wait."
Nash was pleased when she left, and looked back at his paperwork. He vaguely heard her speak, and Brant respond, but he didn't catch the words.
He did hear his door slamming shut. His eyes shot up, and he watched Brant stride towards him. Brant loomed over Nash's desk, and placed his fists far apart. His intimidating stance, but it never worked on Nash. Nash met his eyes, and didn't lean back.
"Can I help you, Brant?" He kept his voice clipped.
"You were out of line, Nash. She's worried about you and you're biting her head off. We all get pissed off sometimes, but you're giving people shit for turning sheets of paper."
The station was lucky he wasn't smacking almost everyone in the mouth, frankly, Nash thought to himself.
He shrugged. "I'm busy. Work gets to you sometimes. Superiors' demands, over-worked -- "
"Bullshit. This is something to do with Phil, isn't it?"
Nash’s head shot up. He leaned in, so their eyes were level, noses almost touching. "Get out of my office, Brant." Nash's tone was full of finality, but Brant was a wall of indifference.
"Sort it out. Some way, sort it out. You say you do things the way normal people do?"
Nash gritted his teeth. "Normal people?"
Brant didn't lean away, but he did flinch a fraction. "Straight guys, heterosexual...you know what I fucking mean. Anyway, do it. Go and talk it out. You've gotta be better at that sort of touchy-feeling stuff than me. Or fight it out. A punch-up may be good for you."
The rising anger ebbed a little as the violence of Brant's suggestion struck Nash as darkly funny. He didn't smile, though, but said, as he sat back down, "Last time I listened to you I almost got shot in the head by a cop-killing psychopath."
Brant's eyebrow twitched, amused. "But you weren't. And it was worth the risk."
Their eyes met full on. Nash didn't say anything, but he nodded, knowing the truth of Brant's words.
Brant at last pulled back from the desk, settling into his bulk and smoothing down his jacket.
"I'd offer my hurley again, but reckon I'd miss and hit you instead, 'cos you need that right about now."
Hands up in surrender; an almost rueful expression. "All right, taking it too far. But you know I'm right about this."
Yeah you are, you prick, Nash thought as Brant sauntered out of the office.
About half an hour later Nash was finally calm enough to call Falls back into his office. He invited her to take a seat. "I was out of line earlier. I'm sorry."
Falls nodded. "Thank you, sir."
She didn't say anything further, but her eyes were searching his face for an explanation.
Nash sighed. "Phil and I...things aren't great at the moment."
"Yeah, I figured. Can I ask what it's about?"
Nash's face flushed with awful embarrassment. He leaned one elbow on the table, and clenched his fist. "I can't go into details."
Falls looked so understanding, the softness of her presence such a contrast to Brant's brick wall. "Sure. But...have you talked to him about it?"
"Hmm, that's what Brant said."
"He's probably right, you know."
"Yeah. It's...you know when you have a fight, and while you know you're not blameless, you want the other person to make the first move?"
"You think it was Phil's fault?"
Hearing it so bluntly did give Nash pause. He thought on it, and eventually said, "Not his 'fault' as such, but... Sometimes I'm angry at me, then at him, then both of us, and...I spent a good part of my twenties feeling wrong about everything, like I had to apologise for myself all the time. Shucked that off long ago, and I'm not going to do it again."
Falls shrugged. "That's good. But..." Falls searched for the words. "Pride isn't all it's cracked up to be sometimes. Believe me, it can get you into all kinds of trouble. If you want him, that's probably more important. Not saying disgrace yourself, but if he's worth it..."
Nash had replayed the fight over and over in his head. So much so that he had trouble seeing Phil as anything but demanding, petty, fuelled by the need to belittle him. But the word 'worth' brought images of Phil dancing and laughing, of his cheeky grin and the way he felt in Nash's arms.
"Thank you, Falls."
Falls stood to go. "Buy me a drink sometime. Or let me whinge about Craig now and again."
Nash smiled, for the first time in a while. "Of course."
At first, Phil felt nothing. The room was hazy with creeping morning light, and he wasn't quite sure where he was, but he sensed he was on a couch. How had he gotten here?
The flashes of memory from the night before shot into his brain, and so too did the pain. The area right at the front of his skull ached, and his vision began to swim as he sat up, groaning. When it became a little clearer, Phil was sure he'd never been in this place before. It was big and airy, very white. Who the hell had he gone home with? Had he gone home with someone? It certainly wasn't a pick-up; no one had ever left him on the couch.
His gaze wandered to a shelf with a messy stack of unsorted CDs. Only then, seeing the vast collection of country and western, did he know he was at Tom's. Tom's new place. He'd not been yet. What a fine introduction this was.
He couldn't stand, nor did he want to just yet. Cradling his head, Phil leaned back on the couch, and whimpered.
"Serves you fucking right, you dope."
Phil groggily looked up on hearing Tom's voice. Tom was approaching the kitchen bench. Phil closed his eyes.
He made no response, but he heard the tap go on, then off, and then a click. After a while, the kettle began to whistle. More water being poured, and then the soft thud of footsteps coming towards him. He sensed motion in front of his face. Phil opened to see a glass of water there, and Tom towering over him, momentarily blurred before coming into focus.
"Drink. All of it."
Phil sniffed, picking up the scent of coffee in the other mug that Tom also held. He made to go for that, but Tom held the mug out of reach.
"This is for me."
"Flush the poison out."
"How much did I have?" Phil took the glass and began to sip.
Tom sat on the arm of the chair opposite. "I don't know. Michael and Chris say they lost count. The fact that they were counting at all..." He gave Phil a meaningful glance.
Phil groaned. That's right. He hadn't been out with Tom. So how...
"Do I owe you a thank-you for getting me home safely?"
"You owe Michael something for calling me when you started baying my name at the moon. Or the neon lights of Soho at any rate."
Phil's eyes scanned the carpet, and he shifted. His shin clipped something plastic, and looked to see a bucket there. He smiled a little; he never remembered Tom being so thoughtful.
"Do you remember much?" Tom asked.
"Snatches. Not much after we got to the Firebrand."
Phil tried to turn his head to Tom quickly, but it hurt his head too much. Instead he murmured, "What?"
"I didn't get everything, but apparently you came onto Chris in a massive way. Michael thinks he'd have gone for it if you'd not been so plastered. Or blathering on about Nash."
A horrible clench grabbed Phil's chest. What the fuck had he said?
His face must have shown it. Tom said, "You were incoherent by the time I got there, but we picked up enough to know you'd fought. And it's something to do with sex."
Phil leaned forward, face to his thighs, hating himself as his body kept rebelling attempts to feel better. He pressed the glass to the side of his face, trying to absorb the coolness of it into his over-heated, drunk body.
He heard Tom take a sip of his coffee. "Something you want to talk about?"
Tom was so matter-of-fact about it, but the idea of having that conversation with him...Phil had moaned about his love life, or lack thereof, before with Tom, but those details were ones Phil knew any person ought to (though often didn't) be able to handle; interpersonal stuff, the vagaries of relationships that were bound to happen when two individuals come together. Tom, at the end of the day, was still straight, and this... How could he begin to explain?
Besides, the thought of giving his fears of the past week time and space was as sickening as the beer swirling in his stomach.
"I can't. I... couldn't do that to Nash."
Phil hadn't know he was going to say it before he did. Yet it was so true. To talk about this with anyone but Nash would be a betrayal.
Not sure you do, Phil thought, but thanks.
Slowly, Phil sat up, and he met Tom's eyes. "I need to talk to him. Just a little fucking terrified he'll hang up."
"Send a text and ask if he wants to. Gives him time to think, too."
Phil nodded, but couldn't help smirking. "Relationship advice on a hangover, from you?"
Tom shrugged. "I occasionally get it right."
Phil shook his head, rueful, and Tom smiled, kindly, but amused.
Text messages, sent on a Thursday evening.
Can we talk? I miss you. - P
Hi Phil. You like country walks? Open air and rolling fields good for talking. Saturday. I'll drive. Nash
Sure. I have hiking boots somewhere. - P
They drove in silence through London. Nash's eyes focused on the traffic signs, the license plates of the other vehicles, the cyclists, and pedestrians. Anything to take away from the heavy presence of Phil in the passenger seat.
When Nash had picked Phil up they hadn't touched each other, just nodded greetings. Nash had tried to see something in Phil's face, something that would indicate what he was going to say. Phil had looked sad, though. Not angry, not upset. Just sad.
An awful inevitability filled Nash's body.
As they passed Uxbridge, where the A40 became the M40, Nash decided to prise open the tension with the first mundanity that came to mind.
“Work going well?”
"Yeah. It's fine. You?"
Nash shrugged. "Ok."
"News on the promotion?"
Even then, Nash thought it was sweet of Phil to have remembered. "No. Some rumblings. I think they'll give it to Brant."
"That bother you?"
Bother wasn't the word for it. Flummoxed, frustrated, yet also glad that Brant at least was finally getting his due, but all that was too much to cover in the word 'bother.'
"We'll see when it happens."
About half an hour later, the rolling land of Buckinghamshire lay before them; fields and woods and copses. The air hung with approaching autumn, freshly chilly but with a hint of warmth that was vanishing with summer. The leaves were beginning to change colour. In a few weeks, Nash thought, it would be stunningly beautiful.
He parked the car in the space before the fields. There were a few vehicles, but only two figures in the distance. The other ramblers were not in sight. A good sign.
They got out, and passed through the gate and onto the field. It inclined downward almost immediately. They walked down at that quick pace slopes usually forced people into adopting, and they walked side by side. Nash had his hands in his pockets against the cold air. He looked about. They were getting closer to the people ahead of them, enough that Nash could see it was an older man and woman, grey hair light against the overcast sky. They were strolling, in no apparent hurry. No cares in the world.
Nash swallowed the lump in his throat, and instead looked at the copse to their left. A small oak stood on the edge of it, and what he thought was a silver beech, and a bunch of scrub beneath it he could not identify, apart from what appeared to be blackberry brambles.
Nash said, almost under his breath, "Over hill, over dale, thorough bush, thorough briar."
Phil glanced briefly in his direction. "Shakespeare?"
"Yeah. Midsummer Night's Dream."
"Ah. Was it Puck?"
Nash shook his head. "A passing fairy."
The words had left his mouth before he realised how that sounded, and too late to change it as Phil put on his best high camp voice. "Ooh, indeed!"
"Oh lay off!" But Nash had started to laugh, embarrassed by it, hand to his mouth, and Phil bumped shoulders with him, playful, teasing.
Nash stole a look at Phil. The breeze was catching his curls, pulling his hair back, exposing his sad features to the country air. With the zipper under his chin, the hood of his jumper gathered around his neck, he looked smaller somehow, more tender. Lovely.
Phil noticed him looking, and returned it. Nash turned sharply away, intending to speed up his pace, when Phil said, "I really miss you."
Ahead of them, the elderly couple walked hand in hand. Nash walked closer to Phil, but didn't touch him.
Had they been alone in the field, Phil would have hugged Nash, and probably shed a tear or three. Instead, he gulped, and kept walking alongside him. He'd started the conversation; he’d better follow it up.
"I...hate talking about this stuff. Completely fucking hate it."
Nash nodded. "I know. It's awkward and...Words don't always seem to cut it."
"All we've got though, right?"
Nash's hands were in his pockets, and the ends of his mouth curled up in a tiny smile.
Phil stopped walking, let Nash continue a few paces. He crossed his arms. As steady as he could, he said, "I'm sorry."
Nash was just ahead of him. He paused. His shoulders shifted as he looked at the ground.
"Me too. I should have said no to start with."
"Maybe, but... I kind of get why you didn't."
"Well...a little. Thing is, I could have talked to you about it, right then. I was just...I felt like a total dickhead. Like you didn't want me, like I was forcing you...and then I got angry because...here's the thing. I behaved like an arse, but...Jesus, Nash, I shouldn't feel bad for wanting it."
"And I shouldn't feel like I don't qualify for the definition of gay for not wanting it."
Renewed anger coursed through Phil's chest, but unlike the night they fought, he kept it down, walked up to Nash, grabbed his shoulder, and turned him so they faced each other.
"I never said that. And I didn't imply it either."
"I said that you shouldn't have been surprised by it. It's different. You must see that."
Nash pressed his lips together, eyes shooting away from Phil. The frustration at Phil being right on that point was so apparent, but Phil wasn't going to back down from that.
Phil shook his head. "Maybe you wish it were different, but...it’s what fellas expect."
"I know. I bloody well know." His words were curt, and Phil's hand dropped away. He looked up the rise of the hill, and saw the couple had disappeared. He looked to the copses on either side of them, seeking out anything to calm him a little.
"Nash...ok, you're not into it, fine. But...I feel like I have to justify something that I just do. Something natural."
Nash spoke quietly. "You've taken it up the arse before?"
Phil was a bit surprised, but said, "Yeah."
"How 'natural' did it feel the first time?"
Phil groaned. "Now you're being pedantic."
"I don't think I am."
"So you think it's unnatural and a bit disgusting, is that it?"
Nash's face was furious. "No. That's not...just... Why should it be the fucking default? Ok, I know you say it doesn't make me any less queer, but blokes in the past have said otherwise."
Phil thought about Nash at work. He thought about coppers, Tom's colleagues like Tughan, whose mistrust wasn't limited to Phil being Tom's friend. Thought about others who'd strutted into the mortuary and tried to prove their masculinity by their obvious attempts to belittle him. How the fuck was it for Nash, whether in the West End or South East, amongst those idiots? And how the hell had any gay man tried to tell him he wasn't queer?
"Well, they're wankers."
Nash was trying to still be angry, Phil could tell, but his face faltered, and he smiled at Phil, before rubbing his hand over his face and covering his mouth.
He's trying to be strong, Phil thought.
At last, Nash said, "I was so sure...It's happened so often I'm paranoid. I wasn't ready to listen."
"Hey," Phil said, gently. "I was so ready for action that reasonable wasn't my game plan either."
Nash let out a shaky breath, eyes on the ground. Phil sought out his face, wanting to see what he was thinking. When Nash looked up and spoke, the question wasn't what Phil was expecting.
"Why is it so important to you?"
It was so instinctive it seemed like an obvious answer to Phil, yet he didn't have the words. No one had ever asked him. Phil had never been shy about talking sex with anyone else he'd slept with, and he didn't feel that now. Yet there was something about Nash's matter-of-factness that made him feel naked and vulnerable.
"It feels complete. Like..." - Phil brought his hands up, and cupped them together - "you're connecting with someone. Linked. As close as you can get to someone. I mean...you're inside someone. Or they're inside of you. That's just...amazing."
Phil was half-expecting a patronising look. But instead, Nash's face was understanding, grateful.
"I do. I really do, Phil. And you make it sound...” Nash cleared his throat, awkward in an instant. "It's just...I'm really happy with what we have. And I thought you were too."
Phil took a deep breath, and hoped what he was about to say wouldn't bring it all crashing down. "I am. But...I want more."
Nash exhaled, bit his lip, and nodded, but he didn't speak, and turned to keep walking up the rise. Phil's face tensed as he willed himself not to break right there, and soon he followed.
A humble wooden fence stood on the crest of a hill. Nash arrived at it, and leaned on it with his forearms, waiting for Phil. Phil settled beside him, no more than a foot away. Nash couldn't look at him. He wished he had words to fix it. Wished he had something he could tell Phil to reassure him. What the hell could he say when what they wanted was so different?
Then Phil said, "Would you feel the same if I were on the bottom?"
There was a sudden rush to Nash's loins as he pictured Phil with his legs wrapped around Nash's hips, and Nash's cock inside him. Nash almost could have laughed at the simplicity of the fixing of the problem. But then he imagined Phil on his knees as Nash rammed into him, hard, Nash's fingertips digging into Phil's shoulders to the point of bruising. Nash wiped the thought from his mind, turned on and hating himself at the same time.
"It would be different. But...do you like it?"
"I like it either way. It depends on the fella." Phil's eyes swept up and down Nash's body. "I think I could enjoy you on top."
Nash tried to smile, but he couldn't. "Why do you want to top me?"
Phil actually grinned. " 'Cos you're so together and controlled. I like seeing you...lose it. And the thought of being inside you...I get so hot thinking about it."
"Like you want to dominate me?"
"It's not so...vicious. It's not like that. It's not to hurt or embarrass you. It's to watch you...moan."
It was intimate, the way Phil made it sound. Intimate, yet surrendering. Nash's stomach contracted, feeling like it was shrinking, at the same time, opening him up. He gripped the plank of fence for support.
Phil looked at him, eyes and voice soft. "Did...something happen to you?"
It took Nash a moment to pick up what Phil was implying.
"No. I've had...Once there was a bloke who tried to flip me over, telling me I'd like it, if I'd just relax." Nash paused, not knowing how Phil would take the next part. "I kicked him, literally, foot connected with his gut, and got the hell out of there. But no. I wasn't hurt the first time, or anything like that."
Phil didn't seem bothered by Nash's act of defence. "Nash, that's really shit. The bastard!"
"I got away before it could become really shit. Some blokes aren't so lucky."
Phil's jaw tensed, and he shook his head. "You could have charged him."
"And how seriously would that have been taken? Besides, you should have seen the look on his face as he keeled forward."
Phil didn't laugh at that. Nash continued.
"Ok. My first time, I was seventeen. His name was Simon. Cricket player, but we both liked the library. Wasn't exactly a boyfriend, but we fooled around at his place when his parents were out. He was bigger than me, so he decided that he was going to be the 'man'. He didn't mean it badly, but I'm not a woman either. But I was young and thought he was gorgeous. Of course it hurt at first, but it was ok after a bit. I...I remember gripping the post of his bed, on my knees, him behind me, telling me how tight I was, and it sometimes felt really good, but...I was scared. Like he could have opened me up and seen everything inside me. And I didn't want that. And sometimes...I just didn't feel much of anything while he did it."
Phil frowned. "I'm confused, Nash. You say that it's more intimate when we're frotting, but from the way you're talking now--"
"It's too close, too intimate, and it doesn't feel as good for me. I can enjoy it, Phil. I have before. But that was a long time ago, and the bloke and I were really together." He'd told Phil about John, but it was long past and he wasn't going into those details now either.
"So...what you're saying is, we're not close enough."
The lost look in Phil's eyes hit Nash keenly in his throat, but he wasn't going to lie. Not now.
Phil bit his lip, and he pushed away from the fence. Nash made himself watch as Phil walked away, face in his hands, rubbing back through his hair, made himself stay there even as he wanted to sag down the fence and wait until the soil claimed him.
But Phil turned around, came back, facing Nash. Nash waited for the words, for finality.
"What is it about it that you like so much?"
Nash gasped, so stunned by the question that the words poured out of him.
"Because I can kiss you easily. Because our whole bodies can be wrapped together. Linked, connected. I can feel all of your skin on my skin. And it's softer than fucking. It's hot as hell, because it's so close. You can't get as close when you're doing anal. Not...heart to heart. Like I'm covered in all of you. And with anal...it feels aggressive. I get it all day at work."
Phil shook his head. "It doesn't have to be. And it's not like I want it all the time – you can't anyway; believe me, I've seen anal pro-lapse on a corpse and it isn't pretty. But sometimes. God, Nash, sometimes it is so incredible."
"Yeah, but...I don't want to come home at the end of the day and feel like I'm being prised open. Or the reverse."
"What do you mean?"
"Nash, I've heard you bitch about work. Sometimes I reckon you hold back with me. Like you want to get all the frustration out but won't."
Nash swallowed. Oh Phil, he thought, do you know what you're asking?
He whispered, "I don't want to hurt you."
"You know I like some pain."
"You said a little. I've done a little."
"What if you need more?"
"Hey, hey...easy. Easy." Phil urged closer, put his hand on Nash's forearm. "I'm tougher than I look."
Nash gritted his teeth. "And I'm harder than you know." And he saw the bloody seeping mess that had been that arsehole pedophile's bollocks, and Barry Weiss's exploding head.
"I've picked it up before, Nash. You don't hide it as well as you think."
Nash wasn't not sure if he was touched or annoyed that Phil had noticed. But however much Phil thought he saw, Nash still knew that Phil had no idea of what he was capable of.
He said, "You sure you'd like me on top?"
"Yeah. I would."
"I’d feel bad for not being able to reciprocate."
"We'll get there."
Will we? Nash thought. But he gripped Phil's shoulder, and smiled. The two of them found the steps over the fence and continued the walk. Nash hoped that Phil would wait. Because he really didn't know when he would be ready.
They spent the rest of the time in silence. A long walk passed with only hands given to aid each other over the fences, or to prevent an occasional stumble amid the tussocky grass. When they came back to the first dale, in front of the car park, they passed by the elderly couple, exchanged polite nods and smiles.
The car door shut with a hushed click. Nash stared out over the now hazy landscape, low settling cloud beginning to encroach on the light.
Nash turned to Phil to ask him if he was ready to go. Phil's eyes were bleary as he gazed out through the windscreen.
Phil said, "Thought I'd lost you."
The couple were right in front of the car. They didn't seem to see Nash or Phil, and kept walking past them.
When they were gone, Nash grabbed both of Phil's cheeks and kissed him.
From the other end of the phone, there was a gasp.
"Was that an actual yes?" asked an incredulous Chris.
Phil snickered. "Hey, you should be grateful I'm accepting the invite."
Chris laughed. "Nash up for it?"
Phil turned to Nash across from him at the cafe table, and grinned. He suspected Nash could hear most of what Chris was saying, for Nash was shaking his head, bemused.
"Yeah, he is."
A delighted whoop, and then Chris suddenly became quiet. "He's making you normal again. Been a while, Phil."
Nash had the grace to inspect the menu on the wall, and Phil focused on Nash's clasped hands beyond the empty breakfast plate. "Yeah. Yeah it has."
After Chris hung up, Nash turned back as if nothing had happened.
"When is the party?"
"Next week. You hear the theme?"
Nash shook his head. "Didn't catch it."
Nash rolled his eyes, smirking. "Is he trying to make us all feel old?"
"Mmm. He expects due attention to dressing up..." Phil trailed off. The thought of Nash in anything other than his conservative colours or something more radical than a pair of slightly scuffed jeans had never occurred to him, so how exactly Nash was going to fill the androgynous, camp, and over-the-top requirements of the era he wasn't sure.
Nash looked thoughtful for a moment, fingers tapping at his lower lip. "I'll think of something."
"Working jeans with a flannelette shirt and claiming you're Springsteen doesn't count."
When it came to the night, though, Nash called Phil and told him he'd meet him at Chris's. Phil wondered all the way to Chris's place why the mystery was required, but when happenstance made him and Nash arrive at the front door of the house at the same time, he understood.
And almost came on the spot.
Nash was dressed in the glittering Regency clothes that Adam Ant had made famous. High collared black dress jacket with gold stitching, slightly militaristic, big gold buttons, and an embroidered lining. There was a creamy-coloured cravat at his chin, white ruffles at his wrists, and a black silk waistcoat with gold brocade. His trousers – breeches, really - were sky blue, and he wore leather boots that reached to the knee, with a heel and elaborate buttons up the side. Over one shoulder was a waist-length cape. He hadn't gone all out with the make-up, but across his cheeks and the bridge of his nose was the characteristic white strip of paint. He only needed a rapier at his side to complete the picture. Phil had a sensation of wanting to capture him in the moment forever, and leap on him, and tear all those gorgeous clothes right off.
"Well," Phil said, coughing to get the words out. "Stand and deliver me from doing something I'll regret in public."
Nash's eyes turned serious, seductive, and he looked Phil up and down. God, Nash, throw me over your shoulder and carry me off on your white charger, Phil thought.
"Then we’d best go inside." He held out a gloved hand to Phil, and Phil threaded his fingers around Nash's.
Chris opened the door in a bright blue zoot suit and glasses that were very Elton John, except the lenses were popped out. The enticing rumble of 'Personal Jesus' came to Phil's ears, and Chris grabbed him into a big hug, before stepping back to look at Nash. Chris's expression was more than impressed; it was ogling wonder.
"Call the fire department! You'll set the room on fire when you enter, Inspector Nash."
Nash was prone to embarrassment at compliments on his looks, something Phil took eager delight in. But now he played to the role his clothes suited, and took Chris's hand, and kissed his knuckles.
Chris feigned a swoon, hand fluttering at his chest. "Oh be still my heart, what a gentleman!"
Phil gave Nash a look before they followed Chris inside, who insisted Michael be shown Nash's outfit immediately.
"What?" Nash asked.
"Where is my shy and retiring Nash and what have you done with him?"
Nash kissed Phil's fingers, looking deeply into his eyes. "He's taking the night off."
They passed through the living area. Phil glanced about at the decorations, impressed by the effort Chris had made. He saw the large gathering, and the dizzying array of rainbow-coloured cocktails. Someone, a little too loudly, asked if they really drank all that shit back then?
Chris rounded on the unsuspecting person, and sniffed. "I still do." He turned haughtily before he could really hear the fawning apology.
They found Michael in the kitchen, wearing a wig that made him resemble Bon Jovi in his heyday, lifting a tray teeming with full glasses. He smiled at Phil.
"Hey Phil, looking good, now who is--"
Michael paused when he saw Nash, and he blinked three times before speaking.
"Well, bugger me. Jesus, Nash, I wouldn't have picked you as a New Romantic type."
Nash grinned, and accepted the drink from Michael's tray, a neon-coloured cocktail that Phil was sure he'd hate. "My sister and I used to put the ribbons in each other’s hair when we were kids. Mine was a bit longer then. And I was about nine."
"Your nine-year-old self had good taste."
Michael left to play help-the-host to Chris, and Nash and Phil stood alone. Phil left his offering of Heineken on the kitchen counter, and opened one up himself. It wouldn't suit the leather he wore to have one of the cocktails.
"Think I've made an impression," Nash said, sipping his drink, then wincing at the sugar content.
Phil shook his head in wonder at Nash, put his arm around his waist, and kissed his cheek.
After a few hours, Nash found a quiet space of wall to lean on, beer in hand, so he could watch the proceedings. The crowd had shifted, shrunk and grown over the night. They were very much the sort of people he'd expect Chris to have as friends; flamboyant, loud, brash, some quite camp. Nash had managed to find the quieter ones that invariably attached themselves to the glitzy set and had decent conversations with them.
He'd been surprised that the outfit he wore still fitted him. The last time he'd dragged it out had been at university, a party Jason held with a Regency theme. At the time, the effect had been similar, which then had more embarrassed rather than pleased him. For Phil, though, he'd been willing to make the effort.
Nash looked up and saw Phil was standing with his back to him, chatting to a lady dressed as Debbie Harry. Nash put his fingers to his mouth, admiring the lines of Phil's back and legs. Phil had gone for the 80s metal look. An excess of chains, rings on all his fingers, and a black scarf around the top of his head. He'd daubed some black grease on his cheek, and worn black cowboy boots, dark jeans, leather waistcoat, and absolutely nothing underneath. That had proved too much a temptation for several guests, whose wandering hands had patted Phil's bare chest, and for the first time genuine possessiveness had boiled in Nash's gut. He didn't show it; Phil would have hated it if he had.
The lady air-kissed Phil, and slinked away on her heels. Phil glanced over his shoulder, and noticed Nash. The music changed, Phil strutted towards him. Nash recognised the song.
"This was playing the night I met your friends," Nash said.
Phil clearly liked that. "What is it? I should recognise it."
Phil leaned against Nash, put his hand on Nash's waistcoat. Nash hooked his arm around Phil's hips, noticing the bare skin at the small of his back; Nash had long taken his gloves off, and he stroked the spot where skin met studded belt. Phil purred, wriggled in Nash's arms, and he brought Nash's face around so he could kiss him, deeply, very intimately. The sort of kiss that could only occur in the corners of a party, the quasi-public space that everyone else could watch but also knew was off limits to them. The shadows. A moment of hollow fear of discovery opened in Nash's chest, even though this was a safe place to be, but there was also the thrill of holding Phil to him, claiming him for all to see.
Phil pulled back, and he giggled, turning red, either from alcohol or embarrassment. Nash made to grab his hips and suggest that they leave, when over the speakers, “Prince Charming” began to play.
Nash looked up sharply, and saw Chris at the sound system, pointing in his direction. But Nash wasn't the only New Romantic in the house, and soon Chris forgot him. Phil nudged him in the ribs, and they chuckled.
A cheer went through the crowd, and people began to sing along, and to Nash's amusement, they began to fumble through the dance steps that he swore must have been from the original music video. Fumble, because then an argument broke out between two guests as to how it went, and within seconds, iPhones were out as they hunted for it, and pestered Chris to start the song again.
Phil stepped back, hand on Nash's shoulder, his grin cocky. "You going to ask me to dance?"
Nash didn't speak, but slipped easily into a ballroom hold with Phil, and led him into the crush of people. He kept the hold tight in the crowd, and Phil stumbled a few times, laughing as he sang along with everyone else.
"Silk or leather, or a feather,
Respect yourself, and all of those around you!"
Part of Nash wanted to slip back to the wall, but the other continued dancing, once even turning Phil under his arm.
"Prince Charming! Prince Charming!
Ridicule is nothing to be scared of."
When it ended on the three final drum beats, Nash didn't hesitate about dipping Phil back and kissing him. A tittering coo rose from those gathered around them. Phil trembled in his arms, and Nash knew it was time to leave.
Later, on the bed, Phil's arms were behind his head, making his biceps bulge a little, showing off his tattoos. His grin was cocky, and his cock resting, hard, on his stomach. One leg was propped up. His whole body was an inviting sight.
"Glad you stopped me from ripping those clothes right off you," he murmured.
Nash swallowed, pulled off his trousers. He didn't bother with the dashes of face paint on his cheek; it was too much to wait. He knelt on the bed before Phil. Phil's knees shifted apart a little. His balls hung like perfect peaches, and the curve of his arse between his legs, to Nash's warm, aroused surprise, was delicious. Tempting.
Nash said, "Are you ready?"
Phil cocked his head. "What do you mean?"
Nash crawled forward a little, grasped Phil's knees, spread his legs further apart. "Do you want me to...take you?"
Phil exhaled, almost sounding choked, his eyes filling with desire, and he surged forward to kiss Nash.
Nash smiled, and kissed Phil back. "Let me get the lube."
When he got back from the bathroom, Nash showed his nails to Phil. He'd cut them this morning, knowing that this might happen tonight.
Phil grinned. "No skewering me, now. Unless it's with your cock."
Despite the crassness of the metaphor, a flush of arousal filled Nash. He crouched between Phil's legs, lowered his head, and took Phil into his mouth. Each lick, each suck, each teasing roll of his tongue, was deliberate, tender. It didn't take long before Phil was begging him, pleading him.
Nash pulled back. "Please, what?"
"Please...just...oh god, I'm so close..."
"Not yet. Not yet."
Nash reached for one of the pillows, and eased it under Phil's arse. It raised it enough until he saw the opening, puckered and waiting. Nash bit his lip. He brushed his finger tips against it, expecting Phil to flinch, but he got a giggle, and a shy smile.
Nash popped open the tube. Nash put a dollop of lube on his index finger, and with a slight tremor in his hand, ran a circle of it around Phil's hole. Phil was breathing steadily, hands keeping his thighs apart. Nash dipped down, and, as he inserted his finger, kissed the inside of Phil's right thigh.
Phil wriggled, cat-like. "Mmmm....Nash..."
"Does it hurt?"
Phil shook his head, expression cloudy and happy. "Not at all."
Relieved, Nash began to roll his finger around. Phil was still tight, though loosening with the lube and already stretching. He had a warm, and the scent earthy, fresher than Nash was expecting.
Nash took a breath, pulled out, and then slid in two fingers, both facing upwards. He pushed in a little further, and crooked them, seeking out Phil's prostate.
Even if he hadn't felt it, he'd have known he found it by Phil's deep sigh.
"You like that?" Nash asked.
"You just keep doing what you're—oh yeah. That's it."
Nash grinned, his fingers now less tentative, more assured with each press, each stretch.
"Tell me when you're ready."
Phil's eyes were closed, teeth pressing down on his full lower lip. He whimpered, twitched, lolled his head from side to side. Nash played with him, cupping his balls as well, rubbing his thumb over the soft sac. When Phil arched at that, Nash's own cock twitched.
"You look so hot, Phil. So fucking hot."
Phil growled, "Then fuck me. Now."
Nash's cock rushed with blood. He slid his fingers out of Phil, and reared up a little. He took hold of his cock, placed the head against Phil's hole, and with only a fraction of resistance, pushed it into Phil.
Phil's channel clenched around him, and Nash groaned Phil's name. Phil sighed, and wriggled a little, grinning at Nash.
"You're so tight." Nash withdrew a little, and slid it back in again.
Phil gasped. "And you're huge."
Nash smiled. He wasn't, but it was wonderful hearing Phil say it. He hooked his arms around Phil's sexy thighs, and slowly began to thrust. The contractions of Phil's sphincter tried to resist him, but Phil's eyes were wet with want, and his hands brushed against Nash's chest, and soon Nash found the perfect rhythm that made them both pant.
The feeling of Nash's chest on the back of his thighs – sweaty, lean – coupled with the pushing against his prostate, Nash's cock like a glorious rod, kept Phil's whole body taut, his cock hard, and nipples erect. Through hazy eyes he could see Nash's hips rolling forward, his cock firm but tenderly pushing in and out of him. Nash was steady, and had Phil utterly in his power.
Nash bent down, kissed him, his cock sliding back, leaving only the head inside Phil. With his mouth still on Phil's, he thrust, short and shallow, widening Phil, sending a tingling sensation all over Phil's arse. Nash's hand moved to Phil's cock, and he began to stroke.
Phil clung to Nash's shoulders, fearing collapse even though the bed supported him. There, beneath Nash's body, Phil couldn't comprehend how he'd wanted to fuck Nash, how Nash couldn't have thought to fuck him. Nash was inside him, opening him, connecting them and bring them together. He gave himself completely to Nash's attentions, allowed himself to let go and let Nash take over.
When Phil came – his whole body pleasure wracked, gasping Nash's name – Nash bit down on his neck. Phil's spunk was hot, and while his cock spurted for the second time, he heard Nash cry out, felt his cock slip out of Phil, and then the searing spatter of Nash's own cum on his stomach.
They were panting together, coming so soon after the other, and Phil grabbed Nash into his arms, and wrapped his legs around Nash's hips. And for a long while, they cradled each other, Phil wishing he could merge into Nash's hot, sweaty skin.
After they'd cleaned up, and were lying next to each, hand in hand, eyes on the ceiling, Phil asked:
"How was it?"
"How do you think?"
Phil glanced over, and saw Nash grinning. Relieved, Phil rolled over, and put his head on Nash's shoulder.
"I'm glad," he whispered.
Nash brushed a hand down his back. "Me too."
In his office, Nash picked up the phone. He was pleased, though surprised, to hear DI Thorne at the other end of the line.
"You know the bloke, Grayson?"
Nash didn't stop in his paperwork, ticking boxes down the sheet as he spoke. "Isn't he cooling his heels before his trial?"
A pause. "Dead in his cell. It looks like suicide."
Nash dropped his pen, and leaned back. There was a hanging 'but' in Thorne's voice. That instinct Phil had told Nash about, the particular talent Thorne had for smelling something awry. Though had it been Nash to hear the news first, he would have suspected foul play as well.
Grayson may have lawyered up as fast as he could after they picked him up for killing Swales, but after some careful prodding from Thorne and some extra shouting from Tughan, he'd offered to testify against the gangs. It had been the cause for some celebration. But perhaps it had all been pre-emptive, Nash thought bitterly.
"Grayson was the best chance we've had in months."
"Yeah, I know." Thorne couldn't hide his annoyance. "We gave him a pretty sweet deal for the guilty plea. I suspect someone thought it was too sweet. Look, get your people out on the street. Someone might know something."
Nash's brow tightened, and he pinched the furrows there. "Of course. Not going to let these bastards get one on us."
Brant was at Nash's command that day. Nash didn't even wait outside while Brant conducted his smash em' up variety of interrogation. Nash couldn't tell if Brant was either holding back for his sake, or overdoing it for the perverse joy of Nash's presence. But after one bloke hit the ground hard, and Brant cursed, shaking an aching fist, muttering about how the git's jaw must have been made of concrete, Nash realised it was neither. This was Brant in full glory, unashamed, and sharing it with Nash.
The shit thing, of the many shit things that day, was that Brant's efforts were all for nought. The gang that Grayson and Swales had been part of closed ranks, and only whispers about a 'suicide' were heard on the street. Brant fingered a bloke who had some contacts in the gaol, but the leads that might have led to a prison guard with a slippery key (and inmates unconnected, but willing to do it for money) turned up cold. Apparently, Brant's unique brand of justice couldn't break through prison walls.
Thorne showed them around the cell, the body long gone. Nash introduced the two of them. Brant had grinned at Thorne, cheeky, all East End charm.
"Nash assures me you're better than a certain sod of a journo who shall remain nameless."
"Well, I'm better looking for a start," Thorne said, winking.
That raised a chuckle from Brant. But Nash was far more interested in what they could find as evidence in the cell. Which, in the end, proved very little.
Thorne said, "Fingerprints are likely to turn up nothing, too many people in and out of here--"
"Try it anyway," Nash snapped.
Thorne gave Nash a wary look. "Of course."
And Brant shook his head at Nash, who knew he was on the verge of crossing a line. Thorne was, by an inch, a superior officer.
In his car, driving home, he twice missed the end of the amber signal after inching up behind the traffic. Nash hit the wheel, and swore loudly, as he saw the strands of their beautifully framed case begin to unwind and fall into a horrendous heap.
Phil was waiting near the entrance-way to his apartment block when he got home.
Phil looked stunned, but said nothing as he followed Nash upstairs.
Nash was at the liquor cabinet before Phil had a chance to close the door. He poured one for himself, and drank in two gulps, and poured another.
"Jesus, Nash!" Phil was by his side, hand hovering, not quite touching him. "What the hell happened?"
"Thorne not speak to you?"
Phil shook his head.
"The bloke in the mortuary, the day we met? The whole case has fallen apart. Completely gone to the dogs."
"That was...pretty major."
"Too fucking right."
Nash turned from Phil, feet heavy on the carpet, unable to stop moving. He gripped his hair, wanting something, anything to happen that would give him a single ounce of control back. His whole body was a taut wire, desperate to snap, but he couldn’t fucking do it. Couldn't bloody well let go.
He sensed Phil approach him, presence strong, steady. That Phil was seeing him like this, so enraged, just about ready to scream... It prickled at his self-pride, and he shot back another burning mouthful.
"What can be done?"
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Our primary witness is as dead as a doornail. We had him for Swales' murder, all the evidence pointed to him, but he was going to give up everything he knew about the gang. Now that's gone. The only thing we have are some paper trails and dodgy accounting, but that'll get them slapped with fines and petty shit like that."
Nash took another gulp, finishing the second glass, and slammed it on the coffee table. He sat on the couch, hands over his face and he groaned.
Phil crouched next to him. Nash half wished he'd leave. The concern felt like condescension, and his kindness a band-aid on a broken arm.
"Is there anything I can do?"
Nash chuckled darkly. "Got another witness you can resurrect from the morgue? Not likely."
"No." Phil put his hand on Nash's knee. "For you."
The touch made Nash's leg jerk, but Phil didn't draw back. Nash lifted his aching head, the alcohol finally swirling through his body, making everything both clear and murky. Phil's face was patient, entreating. He said;
"I'm here. However you want or need me to be."
Nash's mind reeled back to the conversation on their walk. Phil, don't be stupid, he thought.
"Phil..." Nash tried to swallow, but despite the liquid he'd just drunk, his throat was dry. He whispered, "You don't know what you're saying."
"I think I do." Phil picked up Nash's hands in his, pressed them together, an attempt to reassure Nash that almost worked. "Trust me. If you can't trust yourself, trust me."
There was strength in Phil's voice. So much strength. It was enough that allowed Nash, knowing that Phil really didn't know what he was asking, to quash the protesting little voice in the back of his mind, and let the dark, domineering one take over.
Nash met Phil's eyes. He gently brushed Phil's cheek with the back of two of his fingers. Phil turned, looking about to kiss them, when Nash flicked his hand around, snaked it into Phil's hair, and grabbed it close to the roots. Phil hissed, eyes wide, but unrelenting as Nash dragged him so they were nose to nose.
And Nash snarled, "Then open up my pants and deep throat my cock."
Big thanks again to MakeitMagnificent and Susan for the beta read. Lyrics for used in this part are from 'Stripped', originally released by Depeche Mode, but the cover referred to here is by Shiny Toy Guns.
Nash’s eyes bored into Phil's, demanding, commanding. This was not a request. Phil was going to do this for Nash, and Nash was going to make sure of it. Phil's ribcage clenched, like bony fingers bracing his chest, and the nerves in his groin began to spark.
Yes, Nash, he thought. At long last.
Phil began to lower his head towards Nash's lap, but Nash pulled it down, Phil falling forward, only stopping himself from hitting Nash by spreading his hands on either side of Nash's thighs.
"Get on with it."
Phil tried to look up at Nash, but Nash's hand was too strong on his head, Nash's fingers beginng to curl into his hair. He didn't have to ask Nash to go harder, didn't have to coax him to into tightening his grip; it was more than Nash had ever held him before. His scalp tingled, and Phil sighed.
He unzipped Nash's trousers, his breath juddering as he found that Nash's cock was already hard, jutting through the gap in his boxers. Phil pinched the base, eased his mouth over the head. He bobbed there, willing his throat to relax, trying to go further, little by little, when Nash growled.
"I said deep throat it. Now."
Phil drew back, cautious, and took a deep breath. Nash almost started to speak, but Phil surged forward, sinking down on the meaty length of Nash's cock. He coughed around it, his choking reflex beginning to activate, but Nash's hand and fingers kept him there. His mouth and throat were full, and his nose brushed against Nash's pubic hair. He breathed through his nose, and with each breath, even as the pull on the ends of his hair tightened, he began to suck.
Nash let him pull back for a moment, but his hand forced him back down the length again.
Phil's eyes began to prickle from the strain, his throat trying to reject the hard sponge of Nash's cock, trying not to choke. Nonetheless he gagged – audibly, physically – and squeezed his eyes tight, trying to concentrate everything on this, to make this as good for Nash as possible, to ignore his own body demanding a kinder treatment.
Then Nash eased Phil's head up. His mouth opened to the air, and Phil gasped as trails of saliva hung suspended between the glans and his lips. Nash's hand curved his head back so their eyes met.
Nash said, voice full of military command, "Tell me you like my cock."
Phil exhaled, the cruel curl on Nash's mouth drawing his eyes. Christ, he was fucking hot. "I like your cock." He kissed the head of it. "I love your cock."
Nash sneered, bent down and yanked Phil's mouth to smash their lips together for a bruising kiss. When he pulled back, he grabbed the other side of Phil's head, trapping it between his hands. His eyes were ferocious.
"Then suck it harder."
Phil swallowed, and took a deep breath to prepare, but Nash turned his hand, and pinched Phil's hooped piercing. It stung, needle-like, and Phil tried to twist away.
Nash released his hold, Phil whimpering as tears prickled at his eyes. "Get on with it."
Phil did. He gagged around it, a muffled, strangled sound, but each time he made it Nash moaned, sounding pleased.
"That's it...that's it...oh, you're good. You love it, choking on my cock, don't you, Phil?"
The words sent delicious shivers across his chest and down his arms. Phil nodded, Nash's cock still in his mouth. Nash chuckled, dangerous and low. Phil heard dark plans within it, and his own cock throbbed against his trousers.
Then, with a sharp jerk, Nash dragged Phil's mouth away. Phil gasped, the cool air of the apartment sliding on his face, hot from being so close to Nash's groin, slick from their shared sweat.
Nash grabbed his shoulder and pulled Phil from the floor, half onto his lap. Phil sprawled over Nash, with Nash still utterly in control. He undid Phil's belt, unbuttoned his jeans, and shot his hand down past the elastic of Phil's boxers. Nash gripped Phil's cock, vice-like, and Phil yelped.
Nash snickered. "Your cock is so hard. And you're such a good cocksucker, aren't you?"
The twisted compliment made Phil whimper, until Nash made a sharp squeeze, and Phil beat the back of the couch with one flailing fist.
He gasped. "Fuck, Nash..."
Another tug, and Phil flailed as Nash said, "Yes, that's just what I'm going to do. Fuck you."
The hardness, the determination, and sheer heat in Nash's face, his words low and vicious and sexy and...Phil whimpered when two fingers pressed into his balls, rubbing them with no softness. He bit his lip. Nash leered; he reached up and grabbed Phil's chin.
He said nothing, but his eyes promised everything. Nash was going to fuck Phil so hard that Phil wouldn't be able to see.
But he tormented Phil first, digging his knuckles into the tender spot between his hole and his balls,
"Nash...please..." Phil didn't care that he was begging, didn't care that though this was all for Nash, he wanted it so badly too.
Nash grabbed him. They were on their feet now, and Nash was pulling Phil's t-shirt off, roughly, wildly. Phil's hands fumbled for something, trying to get to Nash's buttons, when Nash turned, hands on Phil's hips, throwing him onto the couch. Phil's knees connected with the cushions. He tried to regain his balance, but Nash tugged off his jeans, and shoved his hand to Phil's back, forcing him to brace his forearms on the back of the couch.
He heard a loud spitting noise, and Nash shoved his hand between Phil's arse cheeks. The spit was warm and viscous. Nash smeared it on his hole, and Phil found his breathing haggard, desperately trying to relax his body but finding the tension of anticipation almost unbearable.
The head of Nash's cock jabbed against him. Phil exhaled, but as he did so Nash reached forward and grabbed his hair, pulling him back so his neck arched.
"Take it all," Nash hissed. His cock began to breach Phil's hole.
"Yes...oh God!" Phil bit his lip as Nash forced it further and further in, little by little, Phil's body so tense it was trying to repel Nash, but fuck, he wanted it, wanted the wrenching pain as Nash, with one merciless thrust, shoved his whole length into Phil.
Phil screamed. It was like an arrow splitting him apart, but the contact with his prostate sent dual shots of pain and pleasure all over his taut body.
Nash's hand now clasped one hip and, not letting go of Phil's hair, Nash whispered in his ear, "Good boy."
Then he began to pound into Phil.
Nash spoke with forceful, ferocious words that demanded Phil take whatever he gave him. His grip was unyielding on Phil's head, the strain at his hair, pulling it so tight that Phil’s scalp prickled. All the while Phil's throat constricted so his cries were sharp and high-pitched. Part of his body wanted to fight the agony, to pull away from Nash, but the other part took the pain and turned it into sharp delight.
This was the Nash Phil had only glimpsed, that Phil had wanted fucking him, biting him, riding him without mercy. He needs this, Phil thought. Needs to get this out. And holy hell, it made Phil's whole body throb. Phil craned around to look at Nash, his own eyes heavy and hooded. Nash's face was sweaty, wild, caring about nothing but impaling Phil again and again. Phil moaned at the sight of it.
Nash let go of Phil's hair, grabbed his other hip. Phil flopped forward as Nash’s thrusts, unceasingly strong, became harder, more brutal. Phil bit his forearm, sounding against his skin, eyes shut tight, as he wanted it both to continue and to stop. But he couldn't say stop. He didn't want to say stop. But oh God, if Nash kept going, if Nash didn't pause for just a moment...
Phil's hand shook as he reached back to his hip, and finger by finger laid it over Nash's own.
Nash halted, his cock half in Phil's arse. He scarcely breathed. Phil's hand was over his, and he didn't need to say anything for Nash to know what it meant: hold up, wait. Not stop, but wait.
Nash had terrified himself by what he was doing to Phil. And yet, each time he thought it was too far, Phil's eyes had fluttered, or he'd moaned, or his gaze had penetrated Nash with such a base desire that Nash had kept going, pushed Phil further.
Then beneath Nash, Phil's hole was like a clenched fist, unwilling to let go of Nash's cock, unwilling to take it, and Nash had pummelled and thrust with force, while Phil had moaned, sounds so deep it was almost primal, that it hardened Nash's cock even more.
It was all coming out. All the frustration, anger, rage, not just for the shit that had gone down today, but for everything of the past few years; the shit that he'd put up with at both stations he'd worked at, with the quiet, undermining taunts from people who were supposed to be colleagues; the fucking pedophile; the deaths of the cops by Barry Weiss's vicious hand...and Barry himself. That stinking, grubby figure with the loopy eyes.
Phil's body was covered in sweat. Nash stared with stunned eyes at his lover’s sinuous tattoos. For one mad hazy moment he wondered if the ink would run from the heat and sweat, start to bleed all over Phil from the sheer heat between them.
Beneath him, hand still covering Nash's, Phil slowly inhaled. Nash was only aware that he'd breathed in at the same time when both of them exhaled together.
Phil squeezed his hand, and let go, nodding.
Nash closed his eyes, and began to thrust again.
Phil's sphincter clenched, and he groaned, fist beating the back of the couch. He began mewling words that made no sense, and he writhed, arched and curved his neck all around. From pain or ecstasy, Nash didn't know, but Phil took everything Nash gave him. Everything. Nash's chest swelled with pride, pleasure, power, knowing Phil was loving it, shocked that he did. Every particle in him was blazing, yet at his centre, he had control, kept hold of everything, took back that control that he been denied to him for days, weeks...years.
Nash reached around, and grabbed Phil's cock, hard like a rod; stiff and pointed and pulsing. Phil keened, and bit the back of his hand. It didn't contain his deep, deep moans.
"Yes," Nash murmured. "Yes. Come. Come for me." He pumped and thrust, relishing the feeling of soft skin around Phil's engorged cock against his palm. "Come for me, Phil. Come."
On the last command, Phil did. He pressed his head to his forearm, body jerking, twisting, and tightening up. His arse tightened so much that Nash's cock felt like it could have snapped off, but Nash held it in there, and the clenches, both painful and sensual, forced his own orgasm out. His cock filled with rushing blood, and his cum shot down the length of it before spurting inside Phil. It pumped, pulsed, several times more than usual, and Nash wasn't aware of his own cries until he collapsed over Phil's back.
In the last throes of his orgasm Nash shuddered. His body, first tense like coiled rope, trembled like ripples of wind on sand, breaking down a statue of apparent stone. Slumped on top of Phil, Nash gripped him, needing the stability of his body, hearing Phil's panting and feeling each breath expand and contract his rib cage. Their chests together, breathing as one.
It was only when his cock softened completely that it slipped out of Phil. Phil twitched beneath him, and Nash jerked back. That release, that relief, the utter catharsis of what he had just done, gave way to a jab of fear.
"Phil? Are you OK?"
Phil nodded, only once, and started to stand up. His knees sagged though as his legs tried to straighten, and Nash caught him around the waist to stop him from falling.
"It's OK...I'll be OK." Phil looked over his shoulder, and smiled, but his face looked shattered, spent, and his cheeks were wet. Sweat, or tears. Nash's hand flew to his mouth, and he took a deep, despairing breath.
Then his eyes fell to the curves of Phil's buttocks, and he saw smears of blood.
"Nash, it's – "
"You're fucking bleeding!"
Nash dragged Phil to his feet, making him stand as best as possible. Only when he started to make them both move did he find that he had trouble walking himself. They stood for a while, Phil making reassuring noises, Nash shaking his head, palm at his mouth, wondering aloud in rage and despair what it was that he had just done.
It was Phil who at last grabbed Nash's jaw and made them lock eyes.
"Get me to the bathroom."
Phil shouldn't have to look so fierce, Nash thought. He shouldn't be the one taking control now. Not after that, where did he find the strength? Yet Nash obeyed Phil's command, and helping each other, they trudged up the flight of stairs, Phil bracing the wall, Nash balancing with his free arm.
In the bathroom, Phil let go of Nash, and stumbled into the shower. As he turned it on, Nash's hand once again covered his mouth. And no longer able to hold up himself, Nash sank backwards, spine connecting with the towel rail, and he dragged the towel with him to the ground as he slid down the wall.
Nash wanted to look away as Phil washed himself, but he made himself watch. Made himself watch the thin blood drip down Phil's leg and swirl across the tiles. Lines of red thread, interruptions in the pure, clear water. It was...the only consolation Nash could give himself was that there was less than he first thought. But he heard Phil's pained noises, saw him wince as he pressed his hand against his hole to clean it.
What kind of fucking monster was he?
Phil turned the water off, and he hobbled out of the shower. His hair and body dripped. He glanced down at Nash, who stared up at him, wild-eyed with apology.
"Phil – "
"Nash, pass me a towel." Phil's voice was firm, but gentle.
Nash blinked, then at last fumbled around him, and stood. He didn't hand it to Phil, though; he began to dry him with it. His back, his chest, then his hair. Phil let him, even tried to lean closer to Nash, but Nash kept stepping back. Only when he reached Phil's arse and groin did he give it to him, humbled and ashamed.
Phil passed it between his legs, then carefully patted it between his arse cheeks. Nash stood back, fist clenched and teeth sinking into the skin below the knuckle of his thumb. Phil wrapped the towel around himself, and then reached for Nash. Nash stepped back, shaking his head, but Phil's face twisted with hurt, before he launched himself at Nash and grabbed him into a tight, fierce hug.
Mouth against Nash's still clothed shoulder, he said, "It's alright, Nash. It's alright."
"I hurt you." Nash couldn't raise his voice above a whisper. If he did, he knew it would crack.
"It happens sometimes." Phil drew back, and held Nash's cheeks. Nash could only look at the bath mat between their feet. Phil didn't try and make him look at him. "I'll see a doctor tomorrow, make sure it's OK. I knew the risks. I wouldn't have let you if I didn't know."
"But – "
"Hey!" Phil forced Nash's chin up. The startling strength in his eyes made Nash's lip quiver, and his hand pressed there to stop it happening.
Phil exhaled. "If I’d asked you to, you would have stopped."
Behind his fingers, Nash said, "I don't know if I would have."
"But you did. When I put my hand on yours, you did. You would have." Phil grasped Nash's fingers, and peeled them back from Nash's lips, and kissed them. "I trust you."
Just those three words, and Nash crumbled to the floor. He sank backwards to the tiles, back to the wall, Phil trying to catch him but Nash just slipping away until he couldn't go any further.
"You shouldn't. You fucking shouldn't." Nash gasped, and he let out an awful sob. "You have no idea what I'm capable of."
It was like coaxing a wounded beast. Nash was on the floor, hand covering his face, breathing so hard that Phil feared him hyperventilating. Phil carefully lowered himself. Yes, the pain from where he'd been torn prickled from his arse to his back. Yes, his body was reacting as if he'd run a marathon, and afterwards been thrown into a boat in stormy seas and been tossed about. But another part of him was singing with life.
And Nash was regretting it, so badly.
"Nash. You didn't force me. I offered. I wanted it. I wanted to see you lose control. I wanted it. And God, Nash, it was fucking amazing. My head is just ready to explode."
Nash made a hollow sound. "Did I ever scare you?"
Phil blinked. He hadn't been prepared for that question. He didn't want to answer it, but Nash repeated it, and Phil knew he owed him honesty.
Nash shook his head frantically, a gesture to scold himself, to beat himself up. Phil grabbed his shoulders, trying to make him still.
"And when you did, I stopped you. You stopped you. I told you that before. Nash...oh for God's sake, look at me!"
Nash's fist balled up, and he screwed his eyes shut, but he raised his head, and almost peered tentatively at Phil.
Phil said, "I'm OK. I don't hate you."
A bitter, bitter smile stretched on Nash's mouth. "Not yet. Not yet."
Phil groaned, ran his hand over his hair, gripping the wet strands. Give me strength, he thought.
"Why not yet?" he asked through his teeth. "Nash, you're not making – "
"I've hurt people in the past, Phil." Nash's voice sounded dead, and at last he gave Phil a proper look; full in the eye, but strangely...Phil swallowed. Serious Nash. Dead serious. "I've killed people."
Phil blinked, and stayed stock still. He...did Nash just say...
"I've killed people." He put his hand under his chin, shaking his head, eyes on the floor again. "You have no idea...shit..."
Phil took a deep breath. Those words hung in the silence of the bathroom. Hung with meaning that Phil needed explained. He needed to know...God.
Nash swallowed, and he started to laugh. He laughed darkly, almost hysterically, and it made Phil's stomach recoil, but he forced his body to stay still, to stay there for Nash, scared as he was of what Nash would say.
He wasn't expecting Nash to say, "Barry Weiss."
Nash sniggered again. "Brant came to me after they released Weiss. I've told you how Brant works. And so..." Nash ran a hand back through his hair, and continued.
Phil listened as Nash told him about a a pedophile in Holland Park, whose abusive actions had been twisted as a reflection of Nash's sexuality by Nash's fellow coppers. And then he listened as Nash told him just what he'd done to the pedophile with a baseball bat.
"I told Brant about it. Which might sound strange, but...of all the coppers out there, Brant's the one who would know, and understand why without explanation. And then Brant..." Nash pressed his lips together. "We made a plan, and carried it out. And I handed Brant the gun, and he shot Barry Weiss in the skull." Nash held up a single finger. "Just one shot. And we watched as his brains splattered all over the roof top." Nash's mouth curled into something that was horrible. "And I felt nothing but satisfaction."
Phil's hand dropped from Nash's shoulders. He swayed back, and realised he hadn't taken a breath all the while Nash was speaking. Air rushed into his lungs when he inhaled, and his hand went to his mouth as his skin turned to cold, clammy gooseflesh.
Nash's eyes pierced him. It was not shame anymore, not the fear of speaking. It was a challenge to Phil. Listen to this. Do you accept this? Can you deal with this? Can you fucking handle me now?
The pieces began to slot into place. That barrier between them, Nash's fears of what he could do, what he might do if provoked. Of why Nash wanted to leave the aggression as far from Phil as possible.
The conflict in him raged. One part was his shock at Nash's capacity for violence, or rather, the open acknowledgement of something he had long known but hadn't wanted to admit. Then there was his own shame at desiring to see it, for being turned on by it, for not even thinking how deep or harsh its root could be.
His own secret, the one that had devoured him inside for years, fucked him up. The thing he had covered up so willingly, without question. Oh sure, he'd told Tom that he should have spoken up. But he didn't. Not even after he was arrested, and the hours of interrogation. Perverse loyalty? Twisted justice? Phil tried to shake the thought for now. That was his story. This was Nash's.
"No wonder when you met me..." Phil didn't have to finish the sentence.
Nash grimaced. "Thought the fucker had come back to haunt me."
"But you don't feel guilty about it."
Statement. He could not question Nash's expression, which was full of a terrible defiance. There was shame in there, somewhere underneath Nash's hard face and rigid body. But for what?
"I...don't have words for what I feel about it. Guilt? No." Nash heaved another breath. "At least, not until I met you. You're so...beautiful. If I told you..."
Nash couldn't go on, and Phil didn't ask him to, for his own chin began to wobble, and he had to press his lips together to stop it.
Phil had grown used to loneliness. He'd drifted from one half-arsed relationship to another, and almost come to accept his life of being Tom's sounding board, Tom's shield from having to deal with the consequences of what they'd done.
That he could have given someone else joy, something beyond the fleeting pleasures of a one night stand, that he could do that, and do it for Nash...Nash who believed that he was so good and pure. The thought stopped the threat of tears as the deep irony of their conversation swirled through Phil's mind.
Phil asked, "Did any of it have to do with...did you think I'd reckon you were sick? You fancying a bloke who looks like Weiss?"
Nash shook his head. "You're not Weiss. You look..." Nash sniggered. "Ok, you do look like him. But after the mortuary, I tried my fucking hardest to find something about you that wasn't him." Then Nash gave a tiny, faltering smile, and when he spoke his voice broke. "And I did. And now I...now..."
Nash sagged forward, hands in his face, and finally he started sobbing. Phil's own chest cleaved at the sight of Nash's heaving shoulders and wrenching sobs, that his own eyes prickled with hot tears. This darkness that he had long known was within Nash, was now being shown a light, and it was ugly, and awful, and Phil didn't know what he felt about that, but he knew as he gulped back his own tears that it didn't matter. That he would have Nash, darkness and all.
Phil began to shuffle closer, whispering gentle words. Nash jerked back, trying to recoil away, but the white tiles stopped him, held him until Phil circled his arms around him, and pulled him in to embrace him.
"You didn't tell me because you thought I wouldn't understand why you did it."
Nash choked out a yes.
"Because you thought I'd leave you."
A long, wounded sob, and a nod. Phil clasped Nash as tight as he could, until Nash at last wrapped his arms around Phil, and they sat, twined together, Phil running his hands as soothingly as he could across Nash's back and shoulders, and Nash dug his fingertips into Phil.
Phil whispered, "Well I'm not going anywhere. Nowhere at all. And you know what? You reckon you're the only one with a dark past? With secrets?"
Nash didn't stop sobbing, and Phil wondered if he'd heard him. He dragged Nash's face up to look at him, and it panged him to see tear-streaked cheeks and wet eyes.
"You need to hear this." Phil swallowed before continuing. "And I need to tell it."
Nash inhaled, long and deep, anything to stop crying and listen to what Phil had to say. The sudden switch in Phil's eyes, the tenderness and comfort, to sounding serious and scared himself, made Nash steel himself. Still, what could Phil tell him that was as bad?
Phil's hands dropped from his chin, and they rested on Nash's forearms. "You know the name Frank Calvert?"
Nash did, very well, assailed by old memories of him and friends at university heading home in small groups, not leaving each other alone as the so-called Pretty Boy Killer stalked London.
And then...how long ago was it? Last year, his son's own killings. That strange case which had involved...hang on. DI Tom Thorne. Nash frowned, and looked at Phil.
"You were part of that?"
"Yeah. And you think Frank Calvert killed himself after he murdered his daughters, right?"
Nash nodded, but there was a hint of sarcasm in Phil's voice that told him he was about to be disabused of that notion.
"When in reality...Tom put a gun in his mouth and shot him. It wasn't hard to fake a suicide. Not for a pathologist at any rate."
Through the heat of how he'd been crying, the heaviness of what he'd just told Phil, it took Nash a long while before he realised what Phil was saying. Nash turned his hands, grabbing onto Phil's, squeezing them. Part of his mind asked if Phil really knew how Nash felt, that it wasn't nearly as bad as what Nash had done. Yet as Phil spoke, he saw that it had been far worse for Phil, all these years. Had Nash been alone for the rest of his life, he could have held that night with Weiss to his chest and never let go of it, and lived with it in the strange kind of peace that he and Brant shared.
"Oh Phil..." Nash's thumb brushed across his cheek, then chin, and Phil rolled into the touch, eyes shut, but face full of aching relief. His kissed Nash's hand. "I'm so sorry. How the hell did you cope for so long?"
Phil rubbed both his eyes with the heel of his palms. He shook his head. "I don't know. Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll? Helluva lot of drink. Am doing better than I did. It's awful, but after James Calvert bit off his tongue, it all seemed to relax. Everyone knows what happened now. They just they don't say it, and they pretend it’s some dark spot behind us."
"Isn't it, though? You can't change it now."
Phil shook his head. "No more than you can."
Nash's breath caught, and he saw Phil was right.
Nash asked, "Why did you do it?"
"Helped him, or cover up for him?"
"Sounds like one and the same."
Phil's mouth quirked up at the end, rueful. "Because he's my friend. Because at the end of the day...as much as it ate me up, it was...justice. Nothing was going to change the fact Frank Calvert fucked up his son and wife's lives, that he'd taken so many out of this world, but..." Phil ran his hands over his face, shaking his head.
Nash took Phil's hand, and stroked it. "You said that night, that first proper date –" and Phil smiled a little at the memory – "that you hated secrets. That they tore you apart." Nash put his free hand around Phil's neck, massaging it. "And now I know what you mean. You're not like me, Phil. You did it for a friend. I did it because..." the words trailed off.
Phil brushed his hand over Nash's thigh. "Still...you could live with it."
Nash sighed. "If I'd not met you...probably. But being with you makes me feel part of the world again. And those parts of me..." Nash tried to find the words. "Those parts of me don't want me to be like this."
Phil rolled into Nash's hand, edged closer to him. "Why do you think you are? Like this?"
No judgement in Phil's voice at all. A searching question. And one he owed Phil after what he'd just done to him.
"I just...want things to be right. To make it right, keep it in order. But people..." Nash's teeth ground together. "People make it so fucking hard. I'm there thinking 'why did you have to take what's not yours? Why did you have to beat up your wife, your own kids? Why did you have to pick up that knife and stab someone? Why? What the hell did they do to deserve you and your destruction? What makes them so damn unworthy of respect and life?
"And then I got angry. At first I could deal with it, but then that bastard pedophile...and I lost it. The blokes I worked with, who reckoned because of who I was, I was like him, that I had the same...God it sickens me, what he did to those kids. The idea that I was like him...and he was getting away with it...and so I ended it.
"And...we're not supposed to do that. When we cross the line like that, are we really much better than criminals ourselves?''
Phil didn't respond to that. How could he, when Nash was right? Then he said, "Were you taking money on the side...it'd be worse."
Nash blinked, confused. "Why?"
"Because you're then using the law to your advantage. What you did was...I don't want to say it, but...I know it shouldn't be ok, but...I helped a cop get away with murder. I held my tongue for fifteen years, let it eat me up. And you know what, even after I punched the crap out of Tom, even after they interrogated me all night, I didn't tell. And then after I watched James Calvert bite his tongue off to protect Tom, I knew why I hadn't said anything. Because what Tom did...it wasn't right, but it wasn't wrong either. And it was the same with you."
Nash thought on that, turning Phil's words in his head. The ambivalence of what they'd done, each of them. Wrong to take a life, but if it stopped someone from going on to commit greater acts of destruction, then was it? To break the law when you had signed on to uphold it, to fake the act of death when you were meant to determine its truth? Where the hell was the order and the sense in that?
Phil then said, "It doesn't make it easy to live with, but...you were right. You learn to live with some secrets. But it's better when they're shared."
Nash's throat tightened, and a new round of tears threatened to overflow. But Phil locked their fingers together, and rested his forehead against Nash's. Nash clung to him, and nodded, feeling shattered, but held, and grateful.
Phil slipped the CD into the player, and peered coyly over his shoulder at Nash. He sat on Phil's couch, his shirt half unbuttoned and his hair spiking out at funny angles. Phil had told himself he wouldn't touch Nash before this point, but Nash had kissed him so hard and deeply when he'd entered the apartment that Phil's hands had gone mad and pawed at his shirt and hair. But he'd stopped himself in time. Not before the finale.
Now Nash held a glass of wine in one hand, and wore an intrigued expression.
"What's this about?" he asked.
Phil smiled, and hit play.
The ambient echoes of the start of the track poured from the speakers, and as the lyrics began, Phil turned back to Nash.
Come with me, into the trees, we'll lay on the grass, and let the hours pass...
Nash looked puzzled for a moment, and Phil undid his top button.
Take my hand, come back to the land...
"This sounds familiar..."
Let's get away, just for one day...
Phil undid his second button as the first chorus started.
Let me see you stripped down to the bone....
Then Nash smiled. Of course. And Phil grinned as the chorus continued and he undid his next two buttons.
Let me hear you speaking just for me...
"It's a cover," Nash said as the first of the musical interludes played.
Phil nodded. "Yeah. I love what they do with this one."
Nash eyes raked down Phil's increasingly exposed torso. "And what are you doing?"
Phil got to the last button, and ran his fingers down the edge of his shirt, slowly pulling it back. "Something for a man who loves to watch."
With the edge of his fingertips, Phil pushed back the material from his right shoulder. He saw Nash bite his knuckles, eyes transfixed on Phil's chest, and Phil grinned, feeling sly, and getting hard.
Tom was normally so full of words, but after Phil told him, in as few as was needed, that Nash now knew about Frank Calvert, the shock and silence that came over Tom was so hard Phil didn't breathe for several moments.
"I see," Tom said, and sunk onto Phil's couch,
"It's not like they don't know."
"Can't prove anything. Tughan's been banned from seeing James. And he won't even write anything down," Tom said.
Tom's eyes still drifted from Phil, and Phil recognised the hurt in his face, a distinct feeling of betrayal.
"I had to. Tom, I had to. Nash is...he's..."
Tom nodded. "Yeah. I know."
"I don't think you – "
"Ok I don't know what you're feeling exactly, but I can see it." Tom looked back, and he smiled sadly. "It's bloody obvious how you feel about him."
Phil wanted to scream at Tom. How could he think that Phil would wait for him, that Phil would just always be there in the background, the solid rock, to be the one Tom came running to anytime there was trouble, to pour his heart out, when Phil got so little in return?
When Phil gazed back at Tom though, he saw acceptance of the change. A sadness. And Phil suddenly was struck by the fact he felt it too. That he couldn't keep both friend and lover in the same way, that Nash was so damn important to him, and while Tom was undoubtedly always going to be there, Nash had become part of him, in ways he couldn't begin to describe.
The light glowed on Phil's skin, and the music filled the room with a tangible longing, a resonance that consumed Nash's body as Phil started to undress.
He'd not heard 'Stripped' played like this before. The grandeur of the original piece was something he'd long loved, and this cover relished in it. Nash found himself carried with the sounds. But moreso, his attention was fixated on Phil. His hair was wild yet looked soft, as always beckoning Nash's hands to run his fingers through it. His face was relaxed, not cheeky, but brimming with seductive grace, fully aware of the effect he was having on Nash, enjoying his own gradual undressing and running his hands down his body. Making Nash jealous, and horny.
Not long after their confessions in the bathroom, and well after Phil had been checked by his doctor and confirmed there had been no permanent damage, but that he should go careful for a while, Nash had said to him, "You shouldn't have to be my punching bag."
Phil had rounded on him, grabbing his hand with a bone-crunching grip. "For the last fucking time! That's not what I am. I wanted you to. I know that might sound crazy, that it might sound sick and strange that I could want to be treated like that. But Nash...the fact you know that if I wasn't asking you for it, wasn't letting you do it, that it would be wrong...that's good.
With the tension in Phil's hand, the hot anger (and irritation) in his words, Nash had known that Phil was speaking the truth as he saw it. Nash had kissed Phil's fingers, and nodded. It would be a long while before Nash did it again, but he knew then, at least, Phil was OK. Thank God.
The last time they'd had sex Nash had treated Phil like porcelain. His mouth had moved over Phil's skin with a soft hum, and his fingers had traced quiet paths along the lines of his arms and chest, kneading his thighs, cautious and gentle. Phil had moaned, and hadn't asked Nash to go further, and when they'd pressed together, cocks rubbing against each other, it was slow, Nash as delicate as he could be. After they'd come, clinging to each other, Phil had kissed him, deep and hard, and thanked him. Nash had buried his head against Phil's chest, grateful that he still remembered how to be careful with the man in his arms, that he wasn't just anger and pain.
When they'd showered after, Phil had said he'd have a surprise for Nash soon. And with wine glass in hand, Nash was more than pleased with this surprise Phil was presenting.
As much as Nash did it the right way, he knew Brant would lose it.
He'd expected an eruption, vile swearing and flaying hands and threats of violence. Instead, he watched as Brant's knuckles turned as white as the walls around his whiskey glass, a controlled detonation, like a building collapsing in on itself.
That was before Brant hurled the glass against the wall of the pub. It cracked into four pieces and crashed onto the table in their booth, and Brant charged out with the shouts of the bartender and caterwauls of 'lover's quarrel?' from the barflies at the other tables at his back.
It took Brant two days before he knocked on Nash's door.
Nash gave him the glass of brandy, which Brant drank in one gulp. Nash poured him another, and as he did so, Brant uttered one, strangled word:
Nash put the bottle down, and sat on the couch. "He has to know."
Brant spoke with a dangerous whisper, still standing, looming over Nash. "Why does he have to fucking know?"
"There are things about me that...shit, Brant. People either accept the fact that you'll kick a bloke's head in for being a dickhead, or they don't. It's the same thing."
"He could turn us in."
"On what evidence? His word alone? Seriously, you think Phil could have that power?"
Logical as it was, Brant still shook his head. "It was ours, Nash. No one else was meant to know."
"I had to tell him."
Brant reared up. "You keep saying that. What the fuck does it mean?"
Nash spoke slowly, and firmly. "Because of how I feel about him."
Brant took a deep breath, and Nash was surprised to see him not quite frowning, but rather looking confused, like a child first learning that magic isn't real. He sanked into the armchair, and rubbed his hand over his face.
Nash sighed. He felt it too, the increasing distance that would now lie between them. Before Phil, he'd grown used to Brant's company, the dark hours they spent together. His confession to Phil broke their blood bond. And he knew why Brant was hurt. Because it stung him a little too. But Brant could never give him what Phil could. Not just mind and soul, but body as well. Brant would never hold and soothe him, and he'd never whisper gently into Brant's ear, or kiss him in the dark under the bed sheets.
Nash said, kindly, "What did you think it meant when I started seeing him?"
"It's just...you put it like that..." Brant shifted in the chair, uncomfortable, expression trying to figure it out.
"Like you thought it was all about sex?"
"Nah, not...kind of...but no... Just didn't expect it to be so...serious." Brant spoke the word almost like it was distasteful, but mostly, he sounded surprised.
Nash smiled, wondering how Phil would take Brant's accurate, one word assessment. "Yeah. Me too."
A long pause, but Brant finally said, "You really care about him."
"Yes. I do."
Brant shook his head, rueful, but at least his mouth start to grin, if only a little. "At least one of us has that."
Nash wouldn't feed Brant platitudes of 'someone out there for everyone', but he smiled as he poured himself his own drink and held it up in truce with Brant's own.
The music continued its beat, its rhythm entrancing. Nash couldn't take his eyes off Phil. He slid his sleeve down his shoulder, pale and tattooed skin revealing itself to Nash. He was so familiar with each tattoo, the marks of each park of ink, with the tiny moles and other little spots of Phil's arms and chest. But with the music, with the soft light Phil had somehow let filter through the room, Nash found this entirely seductive.
When Phil rolled the collar down his back, bringing his chest out, his shirt still hooked around his arms, Nash sighed, and he rubbed his knuckles over the top of his thigh. It would be undignified to stroke himself, though his cock tingled, his desire rising. He made to get off the couch, to go to Phil, but Phil shook his head.
"You..." He undid, one button of his cuff, "stay..." And the next, "Right..." one sleeve down, "Where you are." And Phil's shirt fluttered to the floor.
Let me see you stripped down to the bone...
Nash nodded, and took a shaking sip of wine. "You're bloody hot."
Phil bit his lip shyly, rubbed his hands over his nipples, tweaking the ring as he passed it.
Let me hear you make decisions without your television...Let me hear you speaking just for me...
There was a searching agony in this cover of the song. Nash knew the original well, but hearing it like this, it was hauntingly beautiful.
Phil stepped towards him, marking the music with small steps, his fingers splayed as they ran down his chest, then up his sides and neck to his hair. He bunched his hair together, and Nash wished it were his hands doing that. But he shifted in his seat, and let his nails tingle down the centre of his own exposed chest, and waited.
In front of him, swaying above him, Phil stopped, his hands still making Nash horribly jealous, and he made it worse when two fingers pressed down the front of his jeans, over the beautiful bulge of his prominent erection. Nash began to reach forward, but Phil eased his shoulder back.
The music stopped, but whirred back to the start of the song. Nash grinned; even as his desire rose, he admired that Phil had had the sense to put it on loop.
"Wait," Phil said.
The intro playing again, Phil's fingers skirted over his lap, down his thighs. So slow, but firm, the material of his trousers gathering in front of the path his fingers made. Nash, enthralled, watched with growing impatience. He put his wine glass down, fearing to spill it, and gazed at Phil, eyes raking him all over.
The chorus began again, and Phil popped open the top button. Nash sunk his teeth into the back of his thumb. Then Phil slowly, centimetre by centimetre, pulled down the zipper. Nash leaned forward, but again, Phil eased him back.
Phil grinned, shaking his head, and the trousers slid off his hips, down his thighs. It revealed tight black briefs that were unable to mask the outline of his hard cock.
Below Phil, Nash's eyes raked over his body, wide and wet. His parted lips were red with desire, and his breathing shallow and sharp. Phil's own breath almost caught in his throat, wanting Nash, basking in being wanted so badly.
He let Nash's gaze bathe over him, his skin hot and burning wherever Nash's eyes alighted. He danced his fingers over his tattoos, outlining them as he swayed to the music, rolled his hips into the beat. Below him, Nash's eyes fell to his crotch, to the black material of his briefs, to his hard-on there for Nash to enjoy. Nash's fingers twitched and turned, but he behaved himself, did as Phil asked him and didn't touch.
Phil smirked, and threw his head back, shaking his hair, stretching his body back to open out his chest. And that, it seemed, was too much for Nash. He grabbed Phil down. Phil yelped as Nash hauled him on top of him, mouth latched to Phil's neck, and fingers digging into his back and one arse cheek.
"Nash! You – "
Nash silenced him with a kiss, and Phil moaned, lightly rolling his hips forward to meet Nash's body.
They removed the rest of Nash's clothes, and their bodies slid together, hot with arousal. They braced themselves on the couch, running smooth together, the perfect twining of slick rope around slick rope, linking together as if made for each other.
Nash's cock pulsed against Phil's, and Phil grasped the two of them together. Nash sighed. The engorged heads were almost purple, and Nash pawed at Phil as he squeezed. In that moment, seeing Nash so alive, writhing beneath him, and feeling both his cock and Nash's pulse in time, Phil knew why Nash loved it as much as he did.
In the half-dark of the living area, the music on loop, beating out its cry for searing openness, Phil and Nash rubbed and clung to each other, kissed and sucked and licked. They braced the couch, limbs trying new angles, new ways to press to each other. Phil had tried all manner of penetration in the past, but this was stunning for its simple yet creative, sexy beauty. As Nash's face turned from overwhelmed arousal, to fierce desire, to pleading need, Phil's body clenched and cleaved, clinging to Nash and kissing him and wanting him, and...loving him.
Though the thought came to him, Phil kept the words in his throat. They pressed and rubbed and thrust until the moment that they came together, Phil unsure where his body and cock ended and Nash's began.
Still sticky, they crumpled together on the couch, Nash pulling Phil to him, gasping into his hair.
"Thank you. Thank you, thank you," he breathed.
Phil knew if he spoke he'd say something stupid, so instead he gave Nash a long, deep kiss.
The end at last folks! Big thanks again to MakeitMagnficent and Susan for the beta-reading!
They filed into the concert hall with an odd variety of people: older ladies wearing stern slacks; men whose hair was cut short and neat, but whose clothes belied days of flower power and free love; couples who looked terribly polite and middle class, but whose smiles were more genuine than Nash normally anticipated from the suburbs; university aged kids who were gushing about how stunning and authentic this was going to be.
That made Nash smirk. How authentic any concert actually was, no matter what ethnic root it had, he doubted. Take the music and song out of the villages or the local drinking places, or away from the harvest festivals where they were once played, and it automatically took on a sense of artificiality, performed for display rather than as an organic expression of the culture.
Not that Nash worried about that part too much. He had hopes it was going to be a great show.
Phil had referred to this as a compromise date. Not the thrashing about to some electronic or crashing guitar music that would make Nash's back go stiff and rigid, nor the grand high art where Phil would be bored for half the time, and only enjoy the moments when he woke up from dozing. The choice of the Bulgarian women's choir seemed good to both of them.
Next to him, Phil was flipping through the programme, snorting at the excess of advertising pages, and trying to pronounce the names of the choir singers. Nash watched his lips curve around the more unusual consonants, attempting to place the Slavic vowels in the appropriate spot in the mouth. Halfway through a particularly long name, Phil glanced over at Nash, and Nash winked at him, bumping his knee lightly against Phil's.
Phil's fingers flexed, and began to reach towards Nash's thigh, before retreating back to his own lap. Nash sighed, and looked back at the stage, his mind casting back to their conversation on Monday morning.
Nash was pouring over the back of the paper for what was playing in London.
"You trying to drag me to some depressing opera again? Some beautiful death by their own hand, throwing themselves off a balcony or the like?" Phil asked.
"There are comedies as well," Nash said, eyes still on the paper.
Across from him, Phil snorted. "But you never suggest those. It’s always the ones that end tragically while the music swells to make you feel even worse. Can't we see something where it doesn't....well, end."
Nash sighed, easing the paper down, annoyed at the dismissal of some of the most beautiful music ever created. "Life ends, whether we like it or not. Death is always there. You know that."
We both know that, he thought.
Phil shook his head, rolling his eyes, though not unkindly. He picked up the empty bowls and plates, and made towards the sink. "Sure, death is always there, but there's a whole lot of life in the meantime."
Nash stared at Phil across the kitchen counter, at the back of his ancient black t-shirt that was now flecked with gray, at the back of his head, hair still a mussed mess of strands from sleeping. Phil's arms flexed, the tattoos rippling as he reached for the tap.
But before he could turn it on, Nash said, "I love you."
Phil's hand paused over the hot tap. He let the plates slide into the sink. They clinked loudly together as Phil turned back, face looking young and stunned but his mouth wanting to speak and to smile at the same time. Nash held his breath.
Phil's hands tried to seek the kitchen counter, the edge of the sink, something to hold onto. He crossed and uncrossed his arms, all the while he started to say something but closed his mouth, rejecting each word. Nash didn't move at all, his fingers still hovering where they'd dropped the paper.
At last Phil said, "Jesus, Nash. You want me to break your crockery?" He stilled then, and gazed back at Nash. "Love you too."
Nash started to stand, but Phil was around his side of the counter and hugging him before he could move. The embrace wasn't a desperate clinch, nor deeply passionate, but it was tight, and warm, and Phil inhaled against Nash's shoulder, and kissed his neck, saying the words again. Nash did so too, and twirled his fingers into Phil's unkempt hair, and nuzzled Phil's cheek.
When Nash had seen the small ad for the visiting choir, Phil had glanced at it and shrugged.
"I'll give it a shot."
"I think you'll like it," Nash had said. "Try not to go searching on YouTube – want to hear from you what it's like live first time."
Phil had rolled his eyes, but kept the promise.
They sat next to each other, knees touching, but nothing else, as the lights in the auditorium dropped. Phil's other leg bobbed up and down. The public contact of Nash's knee...Christ he'd have given anything to touch Nash now; just his hand, his arm, something. He wouldn't embarrass Nash now, not after everything, but...Phil exhaled. Some things you just had to accept. This was one of them.
The stage lights came on, and a group of fifteen women of all ages flowed onto the stage. They wore long dress with white sleeves, scarves with flowers tied on around their heads. The dresses had intricate stitching around the top of their blouses, and they all wore long pieces of material that looked like fine aprons, scarlet with gold patterns embroidered on the front.
When they began to sing, unaccompanied by any instrument, it pierced the back of Phil's neck like an exquisite needle. His flesh tingled with the haunting drone of the voices, striking him in the chest, and spreading across his shoulders and down his spine.
"Bloody hell..." he murmured. Next to him, Nash murmured an agreement.
The first song ended to excited applause. At one end of the row of women, a much older woman stepped out, and began a solo. Her voice was gravelly, low, almost masculine, full of an aching worldliness. The rest of the choir joined in, enhancing the depth, the spirit of it. By the end of it, Phil couldn't move, barely unable to clap with everyone else.
The next few tunes were more upbeat, often rollicking, but still held that same deep tone that undulated under the main tune, as if it was calling out across centuries and from underground. Keening and searching. Phil remained frozen throughout.
Then from beside the old woman, a teenage girl stepped out, and begun another solo. Phil could have fucking wept, and as the girl hit the high notes in what must have been nearing the end, Nash placed his hand on Phil's thigh.
Phil jolted in his seat, and turned sharply in Nash's direction.
Nash's eyes were on the stage, in contemplation of the choir. His other hand was raised, fingers at his lips, as he often did as he was thinking, considering. There was more, though, in his eyes; Phil recognised the look of Nash being moved, of him feeling the music rather than absorbing it on just the cerebral level. Phil's breathing suddenly became haggard. The music and Nash's quiet yet bold action both conspired to overwhelm Phil. His hand fell to Nash's on his thigh, and he grasped the shared intimacy in the darknees of the auditorium.
Jesus Christ, he was in love. When the fuck did that happen?
Nash turned his hand into Phil's palm, and their fingers twined together. Phil's chest fluttered, and he reached over to stroke Nash's forearm, leaning into him as he did so. Nash glanced at him, and to Phil's delight, he smiled, and let his head drop to rest against Phil's.
When the concert finished, the audience stood, cheering, whistling. Phil and Nash carefully extricated themselves from each other, and joined the standing ovation. The elderly woman was grinning like a five year old, while the teenage singer beamed with confident pride. Phil let their pleasure catch the corners of his own mouth, and he glanced at Nash. His face was sunshine in the muted dark.
They said little to each other as they went to catch a taxi. When they slid into the back, Phil was in first, and Nash sat right next to him, and gave his address to the driver. As the driver turned from outside the theatre into the the traffic, Nash took Phil's hand again, rubbing the spot between his thumb and index finger.
Phil chuckled. "Full of surprises tonight you are."
Nash ducked his head shyly. He took a deep breath, and then craned up, and whispered in Phil's ear.
"If you want to take me tonight, I'm ready."
The pause in Phil's brain was momentary. After that, he couldn't sit still, or stop himself from grinning, the whole taxi ride home.
Nash sensed Phil's excitement emanating from him since the moment he whispered in his ear. But though Phil appeared all child-like with eagerness, as if he was preparing to pounce on Nash the moment they got through the door, Nash knew it was a heavy, deep anticipation, one that wanted to wait for the precise time to unleash, but not before.
Once there, Nash took Phil's hand, and led him upstairs, their steps measured, no rush at all. Phil's breathing was audible, and Nash's chest was thumping. Ready, but wondering if he wouldn't once again lie there and hope it would be over soon. He didn't want to do that to Phil again. Didn't want to do it to himself. To them.
The undressing was elegant, graceful. They kissed each others’ shoulders, Nash ghosting his lips over the outline of Phil's tattoos, rolling the nipple ring around with a finger tip as Phil made high-pitched gasps.
Phil was more aggressive, grazing Nash's neck, quickly diving between Nash's legs to squeeze his cock and balls. The gesture sent Nash tumbling onto to the bed, pulling Phil down with him, so Phil landed on top of him. Phil began to ravage Nash with his tongue, lips, and teeth.
Nash repeated Phil's name again and again. He told him he was so sexy, so gorgeous, and began to beg, oh Phil please, please...
Phil raised his head, hand skimming Nash's stomach. "Please what?"
Nash swallowed. "I want...you inside me."
Phil grinned, and leapt up to find the lube. When he came back, Nash had adjusted himself on the bed, lying on his side, knees tucked up close to his chest, just as he had the night it had all gone to pot. Phil bit his lip, and Nash curled his head away, a bit shy.
"I'll...be better this time."
Phil knelt beside him, and ran his fingers through Nash's hair. The tips danced over Nash's scalp, so soothing. Nash sighed, feeling very safe.
Phil bent down and kissed his cheek. "I'll make it better this time."
This time when Phil prepared Nash, it was like a ritual. Each action was deliberate, though not cautious, even though Phil kept his eyes on Nash with each new step, from circling his hole, massaging it for preparation, to applying the lube, then sliding his fingers in, one at a time. At that moment, Nash kept exhaling, making sure his body was relaxed to accept Phil's probing digits. The sensation was still unusual, being so unused to it, but Phil continued with a strong determination on his face and a firm but gentle pressure through his fingers. As he nudged Nash's prostate, Nash started to moan. The feeling was a deep simmering sensation that spread all-over, so unlike the fiery tension that stroking his cock would bring. Nash found himself clutching at the bed sheets, biting the fleshy part of his palm as Phil rubbed and crooked first one, then two, and then a third finger there. Each new insertion stretched Nash's hole, opening him more. Nash anticipated the first and second ones with tension, the stretching still an invasion, a prising open that made part of him want to curl away and hide.
But by the third, he found himself welcoming it, wanting Phil inside him, wanting to be spread as much as Phil could, and loved the increasingly hard strokes on his prostate.
"You're so hot...So fucking hot..." Phil breathed, and Nash met his eyes, and found them full of burning desire.
Then at last Nash whispered, "Put it in me."
Phil gave a final stretching flex with his fingers, three more prods that made Nash twitch. He withdrew, and grasped Nash's knee, parting his legs and lifting them back a little. Nash gulped, the feeling of exposure threatening to make him tense up again. But Phil slid a pillow under his arse, rested his thighs against the back of Nash's, and eased the head of his cock to Nash's hole.
He penetrated Nash with a slow, careful pressure. His cock filled Nash's hole, the stretch even better than his fingers had been – round, even, a perfect hard rod, warm and pulsing. Nash threw his head back, moaning, wanting to flail and thrash, but Phil kept his legs still, and hooked them over his shoulders. Phil's lips fluttered, and his eyelids beat rapidly.
"Oh God, I could come just like this."
Nash chuckled. "Nice if you could hang on for a bit."
Phil grinned, and turned his head to kiss the side of Nash's calf muscle. "Count on it."
And Phil began to thrust, and Nash was lost.
It had been so long since Phil had fucked someone, so very long. Phil had known that part of the deal of keeping Nash was waiting for Nash to be ready. And as he slid in and out of him, oh, it had been worth the wait. Nash was below him, head lolling from side to side, nonsensical words spilling out of his mouth, his eyes closed, his lips parted with an aroused elegance that Phil would have believed impossible in any other man.
He was wonderfully tight, and yet after the first bouts of resistance, Nash's body accepted him with so little complaint. The occasional squeeze of Nash's sphincter was gorgeous, almost wanting to keep Phil inside, rather than repel him. Oh Nash, Phil thought, don't you know you're made to be fucked?
But as he thrust, as the excitement grew, as Nash reached up to grab to whatever part of Phil he could, Phil saw the sheer vulnerability of what Nash was showing him, and knew why this would be a special act for them, not a regular habit. And in knowing that, Phil relished each thrust and withdrawal, took his time, pulled back, teased Nash with the fucking.
"Be so hot if you touched yourself," Phil said.
Nash only nodded, and his hand dipped between his legs, and clasped his cock. If Nash's moans had been sexy before, they were stunning now. The sight of Nash rubbing his cock so precisely, doing exactly what he wanted to do to it, and watching his own cock disappear and reappear from Nash's hole... Phil had to hold himself from coming. He slowed down, his movements more deliberate, paced. Only when Nash said his name, begged him to keep going, that Phil sighed, and sped up, burying himself into Nash with long, rapid thrusts.
When Nash came, he arched his back, his head craning back, his body stiff momentarily, before convulsing beneath Phil. Phil bit his lip, the clenches around his cock wonderful. It took him a while longer to come, but when he did, he held himself inside of Nash, and poured into him everything he had.
After he withdrew, after they cleaned up quickly, Phil kissed Nash's lips and cheeks and forehead, thanking him again and again.
"It was....bloody amazing, Phil," Nash said, words on Phil's cheek.
Phil couldn't say anything else, and they soon both slept, under the sheets, Nash's head on Phil's shoulder, their legs twined and their bodies breathing in time.
The first time Brant and Falls met Phil, both of them did stare, and Falls murmured a quiet "oh my God." Phil stood, hands calmly held in front of him, and waited. The moments practically ticked aloud between them, almost audible above the London traffic in front of the pub in Peckham.
Then Brant said, "Nash says you're from Dublin."
Phil grinned. "Yeah – you've got a bit of the Irish in you yourself, I hear."
Brant's mouth quirked up, and he put his hand out to Phil. "Like all the best sorts."
Falls glanced at Nash while the two men shook hands, nervous but trying not to be. Nash put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. When Phil turned to her, he seemed to ease back slightly, but Falls immediately put her hand out and said it was nice to meet him.
"Likewise," Phil said.
Still holding his hand, still staring, Falls shook her head. "It's uncanny. You do look...and yet..." she cocked her head. "Yet you're not either."
Phil shrugged, and Nash could see a wisecrack on the verge of leaving his lips, but apparently he thought better of it.
Instead, Falls said, "Well, you gotta be alright if you're making this old man smile."
Sniggers all round as Nash spluttered about his age, and Brant declared it was definitely time for a drink, and they went into the pub.
The drinks went fine. More than fine, in fact. It seemed to Nash that Falls and Brant did pretty much as he had done that first night they had the drink; watched Phil for signs that meant he wasn't a psychotic killer. But Brant was soon plotting when Phil was going to come and drink poitin with him (which Nash could already foresee ending with a trip to the emergency room), and Phil and Falls were talking music that they surprisingly had in common. Nash could tell from their relaxing expressions that they were coming around to the fact that this was not Barry Weiss, but Phil Hendricks, with his humour, compassion, love for life, and everything else that made up him.
Unlike his other friends, Brant didn't wait for a discreet moment to turn to Nash to say, rather inebriated, "I like this guy. Keep him around."
Phil and Falls laughed loudly, while Nash buried his face in his hand and shook his head.
When they left later, Brant gave a cheeky salute as Falls led his stumbling figure towards a taxi, his slurred tones insisting they do this again. Phil winked at Nash, and they both went in the other direction, heading for the nearest tube station.
"How was it?" Nash asked.
Phil grinned. "Like the night we first had drinks. Only Brant wasn't checking me out."
"Well, I may about to be replaced as a drinking buddy..."
Phil urged closer to Nash, shoulders brushing against each other. Nash eased his hand across Phil's shoulders. Phil leaned into him, arm around Nash's waist, and for a few moments, before they came to the stairs leading down into the tube, they walked like that, close, and together.