If it had been down to me, I would never have found out anything about it. Nightingale came in to supper a bit late, still holding a folder which he put down on one of the six tables Molly had inexplicably chosen to set for three people.
"Is that a new case for us?" I asked.
"It's nothing for you to concern yourself with," he replied. Now when Nightingale tells me to back off, most of the time I back off. But telling Lesley to back off is like walking down Oxford Street with your wallet hanging out of your back pocket: an open invitation. She craned her head to look at the folder. The top sheet of paper was a little loose, revealing the header.
"Clubs and Vice?" she said, reading upside-down in the way all police officers inevitably do with imperfectly concealed papers. "Do they have something for us?"
White people are shit out of luck in this department: it's easy to tell if they're blushing, even if it's just a tiny amount. And Nightingale was. "I don't think it would be appropriate in this case."
Lesley and me exchanged glances. "I've done some work with Vice when I was on probation," she said. "And Peter's not quite as much of an innocent as he looks."
Nightingale slid the paper firmly back into the folder. "It's entirely possible that it's nothing to do with us in any case," he said, sitting down.
"It's not like the Strip Club of Dr Moreau or anything, is it?" I said. Because if it was, I was going to be entirely happy for Nightingale to protect my innocence, or whatever it was he thought he was doing. Given that he spent, as far as I can tell, upwards of forty years locked up in the Folly aging forwards and backwards without paying much attention to the rest of the world, he has some old-fashioned attitudes. But where totally sick fuckers of evil magicians are concerned, I don't mind being protected a bit.
"Good Lord, no," he said. "Nothing at all like that."
"What is it like, then?" asked Lesley. She'd taken her mask off to eat, and I could see that Nightingale was relying on his perfect posh manners to avoid staring. But it meant he answered the question.
"Some unusual activity at a bar," he said. "A contact I have in Clubs and Vice asked if I could pay them a quiet visit and have a look around."
"We could do that," said Lesley cheerfully. "I can take Peter clubbing."
Nightingale cleared his throat twice before saying, "I don't think that would be possible in this case."
"Why not?" I asked, suddenly feeling a bit protective myself. "I'm happy to go clubbing with Lesley."
"Not to this bar," Nightingale said, and I finally made the connection. Lesley looked at me, at Nightingale, and her mouth twisted in a smile.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Peter?" she said.
I had a horrible feeling I was. Lesley looked back at Nightingale. "You can't go on your own, sir," she said.
"I assure you, Lesley, I am quite capable of navigating the bars of Vauxhall without--"
"No, you'd fit in fine," she said. "But you'd be beating them off with your cane all night, is what I'm saying. No. If you want to be able to get any work done, you have to take Peter with you." She looked at us both in perfect satisfaction.
I would like to say, just for the record, that I did not at any point contemplate running upstairs to hide under my bed.
It hadn't taken Lesley long to browbeat us both into submission, and we all read through the paperwork for the case. It was a gay-friendly pub in Vauxhall which had recently been taken over by new management, an up-market sort of place aiming at the more sedate crowd, where a guy could go out with his civil partner and have a quiet drink, listen to some music and maybe dance a bit without any hassle. There's plenty of places in Vauxhall that you go to in the expectation that you'll have a wild night with someone you've never met before, but this wasn't one of them, and it wasn't the sort of place I'd expect Clubs and Vice to get any trouble from. But there had been a string of complaints, and when Clubs sent someone out to take a look, he only returned the next day dazed and confused after a one-night-stand with an accountant from Enfield. Not typical behaviour for the guy, according to his line manager. But it hadn't been drugs, and his line manager asked a colleague about it, and he recommended she contact Nightingale. Which is how I came to be dressed in jeans way tighter than I normally like and a silk shirt. But when Lesley said she thought she still had some eyeliner around--not that she used makeup now, she explained, doctor's orders--I managed to get away.
Nightingale was waiting for me at the foot of the stairs. He was wearing a suit I recognised as the dove-grey one with the trim waist he'd had on when I first saw him. Not that I make a point of paying attention to his clothes, you understand, but when you're police you're supposed to take note of details. He smiled faintly when I trudged down the stairs.
"If you'd rather not go, Peter, I am happy to investigate on my own," he said.
"It's fine," I said. Lesley had argued that what had happened to the man from Clubs and Vice could happen to Nightingale too, if he went without someone to watch his back, which was when I finally stopped protesting at her plan. We did look like a gay cliché anyway. May as well make use of it on the job for a change.
Lesley drove us over in the Jag, obviously relishing her turn behind the wheel. She was going to hang around as backup, just in case it really was something serious, but as she said, she had plenty of reading with her.
When we got out, I looked at Nightingale. "All right, sir?"
He nodded, though there was a bit of worry in his face. Not something you'd notice unless you knew him, though. I gave him a grin I didn't entirely feel, and put my hand on his arm. I'm a modern guy, and walking arm in arm with another man doesn't freak me out--much--but Nightingale is old-fashioned and I expected him to be tense and awkward. Instead, he tucked my arm comfortably into his elbow and matched step with me as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Well, we have been kind of stuck with each other's company for a while now, so I suppose it made sense.
The Purple Jug, like a lot of gay venues in Vauxhall, was in the railway arches under the main line out from Waterloo. It had two arches to itself, and the adjoining arches on both sides were blank and unused. We took a walk around first, to scout the area out, but there wasn't any vestigia that either of us could detect. So we went in, and as Lesley had predicted, Nightingale turned a few heads.
I didn't actually feel uncomfortable in there. I don't exactly advertise it, but I've done some experimenting with boys before, a few kisses and fumbles out clubbing, and a two-month-long hopeless crush at the age of fifteen on a white boy in the year above at school. But I'm pretty happy with girls most of the time, and being the ethnic copper is complicated enough without being the bisexual ethnic copper. Or, now, the magic bisexual ethnic copper.
It was a mostly gay crowd, a few straight tourists or friends and family, and it looked like any other pub of its type. Tables near the front and scattered around the edges, a bar, a stage with a young woman--no, a young man with long hair and a kilt--singing something blandly soulful, and a mostly empty dancefloor. Very nice, tasteful, not much flesh on display. I've been on a late shift after the SBN--that's Stark Bollock Naked--nights at another club in this area, and let's just say it's an unforgettable experience.
Nightingale left me at a table, strategically chosen with a good view of the whole pub and a clear line to the exit, and headed to the bar. It was an odd reversal, but it fit our personas for the evening. It wasn't what I thought of as a gay bar in Voho, but it was more than half full at 8pm on a Wednesday evening, so there was clearly a market out there for a gay-friendly evening out that was a lot tamer than normal.
But that wasn't what people were getting. Nightingale came back with two beers and we settled into bland cover conversation. I would rather have picked Nightingale's brains about my new idea for measuring vestigia and tried to get a straight answer out of him as to what vestigia really was, but it wasn't very covert. So I asked him about rugby, and he asked after my family, and we managed to keep it going for a good half an hour before I got fed up and went to check out the toilets. But even there, I didn't see anything even a little dodgy going on, and the condom machine was full. There were some sexual health notices and flyers for local events, but that was it. It really was the most boring gay club I'd ever seen.
When I returned, another guy had dropped by our table and was talking to Nightingale. He was big and burly, with a beard and glasses. Nightingale saw me return, but didn't signal to me, so I left him to it and went to check out the dancefloor. It had warmed up a bit now, and a white boy a few years younger than me caught my eye hopefully. I thought, sod it, why not, and went to dance with him. But in a casual way, nothing close up, nothing that promised anything I wasn't intending to deliver.
It was only in hindsight that I noticed how the atmosphere in the room was changing. The white boy started edging closer to me, and I saw some other couples getting a bit more serious, and when I managed to extricate myself from the dancefloor, I saw that the man with the beard had sat down next to Nightingale and was smiling at him a lot. Nightingale did catch my eye this time, and I went back to join him.
"All right?" I said to him, only just stopping myself from adding a 'sir' on the end. I didn't want anyone to get the wrong idea.
The man with the beard looked around, and for a moment he looked angry and I thought we were going to have a scene, but then he gave a rueful shrug. "Can't compete," he said, gave Nightingale a pat on the shoulder that was just this side of a caress, and went over to the bar.
"Something's changed," said Nightingale.
"Are you sure? I didn't feel anything."
"No," said Nightingale slowly, "neither did I. But you can see people are acting differently."
"Let's take a look around, then." I extended a hand to Nightingale, and he took it and stood up. A second later I snatched my hand back. Where the hell did that come from? I managed not to say out loud. "You're right," I did say, "people are acting differently."
Nightingale was looking at my hand as if I'd punched him with it. "Indeed," he said.
We ambled through the crowd in the direction of the bar. Around the room, there was a lot more touching than before, a lot of intense low-voiced conversations and a few equally intense arguments. There were more dancers, and the dancing was a lot more suggestive. By absolute standards, it was still pretty tame, but for this place it was clearly a wild night in the making.
There was a middle-aged couple doing some serious kissing just beside the bar, and for a moment I watched one guy's hand slide into his partner's trousers and couldn't have looked away if you paid me. Nightingale put his hand on my shoulder and propelled me on, but left his hand there. The bit of me that had been shocked at this before seemed oddly quiet now.
The bartender, a skinny white man in a leather jacket and a lot of piercings, gave Nightingale a tonic water and me a Coke, and we both leaned against the bar for a while. I tried to concentrate on the punters, feeling for vestigia and trying to understand what was going on, but my gaze kept drifting back to Nightingale. I looked at his right hand holding his glass, remembering the first time I'd seen a werelight blossom on his palm, the way he casually blasted targets to pieces on the firing range, the complex delicacy of the advanced spells he'd shown me.
"Focus," Nightingale said right in my ear. I turned to look at him, and saw that there was sweat on his forehead and his eyes were dilated.
"It's affecting us too," I said, stupidly, but perhaps my bloodflow had all been diverted to my dick.
"Yes." He drank the rest of his tonic water and stood with almost military posture in front of the bar.
I've been put under glamours before, by the Faceless Man and at least half the Rivers, but this wasn't like that. It wasn't like anything external at all, and none of the mental tricks I'd learned to break through glamours had the slightest effect. Beside me, I could hear Nightingale breathing even through the noise of the pub.
"Should I call Lesley?" I said suddenly.
"No. I don't want her exposed. It could be contagious."
"Are there things like this that are contagious?" I asked, distracted despite myself.
"There are dozens of things that could create this... this sort of effect," said Nightingale. "The question is which one do we have here." He turned to look at the bartender, at the bar, a full three-sixty of the room, and I could almost feel the weight of his attention moving around like a searchlight. But when he looked back at me, he shook his head. "I can't sense anything specific. Let's walk around."
I was hard by then, and I could tell by the way Nightingale moved that he was too. His steps were careful and catlike, and when he brushed shoulders with another clubber, he jerked away as if the guy was red-hot. And watching him move wasn't helping anything for me.
We circled around the place, right to the back of the arch where the vaulted ceiling was low and the lights were dim. There was a door in the side wall leading into a staff area, and Nightingale opened it with a flick of his wrist. I followed him through.
The room was lit with fluorescent strips, there was a desk with a computer and a couple of old filing cabinets. One drawer was half-open and there was an empty mug on the desk. Nightingale stopped just inside the door. "Nothing," he said. His voice was low and hoarse. "I think--I think you'd better leave me alone for a few minutes."
I looked at him properly then. He was standing perfectly still, as if he moved another step his self-control would snap. I was horny too, but I didn't feel like that.
"Um--are you sure you'll be all right?" I asked.
"I'm fine," he snapped. "We have clear evidence that there is some kind of illicit magic being performed here. When the spell passes off, we will locate those responsible. But right now you need to leave."
He was pale, sweating, eyes dilated, absolutely motionless. There was no way in hell I was going to leave him like that. "It's affecting you worse than me," I said, but I was thinking, anyone could come in and what would happen then?
"I am aware of this," said Nightingale, his voice so clipped the words seemed to have to squeeze out between his set lips. "Peter, leave. Me. Alone."
"Do you think perhaps the spell's strength varies depending on how long--"
Nightingale did not look like he appreciated my deductive reasoning.
"Fuck, sir," I said. "Um. Metaphorically speaking."
Nightingale suddenly moved, that whip-fast reaction speed that reminded me that he had all the cunning and strategy of decades of experience, and the strength of a younger man. He strode over to me and his hand locked onto my shoulder. I jumped, and for a split second he began to pull me towards him, then with a grunt pushed me at the door and stepped back three long paces.
I took the hint, but I stayed outside the door. I definitely didn't want anyone else going in there right now.
At that point, Lesley checked in. "Peter? Nightingale's not answering when I try to contact him."
"Um. Yeah. Turns out we were right about this place," I said. "There's some kind of spell or, or uncanny thing on the punters, but we're not sure where it's coming from. Nightingale's just, um, coping with it."
"Peter," Lesley said dangerously. "I can't do my job if you don't tell me what the fuck is going on."
"Yeah. The spell got us both too. It's about what you'd expect, but it's taking Nightingale hard. I'm giving him some privacy. He said he didn't want us going out or you coming in here, just in case it's contagious."
"You get into some really crazy shit in this job, don't you?" Lesley said. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, fine. It's just a bit--you know. Weird. But I don't think it's dangerous."
Lesley snorted. "Yeah. Right. I'll just carry on with my reading, then. Check in again in half an hour, okay?" She signed off.
I stared around the room and tried to think about my mum, about Latin verbs and dead bodies, about anything except Nightingale on the other side of the door. I looked around, recalling Nightingale's scan of the room, and tried to imitate it. And this time I noticed something. There was a large purple jug displayed centrally in an alcove on the partition wall between the two archway spaces. Our table had been right next to it. I left the door for a minute and walked over to it, dodging dancing couples. Even up close, I didn't really sense anything, but then I thought to look inside.
There was a purple liquid inside the jug, swirling as if something was stirring it constantly, and a mist was rising from it. I held my breath and took four rapid steps backwards, and tried to figure out if I felt more affected than before. That was it. But I had no idea what to do about it.
I made my way back to the office and pushed the door open. Nightingale was in the same spot as before, leaning against the wall as if his knees were weak, sweat darkening his hair.
"Peter," he said. "I told you to leave me alone."
"I think I know what's doing this," I said, and told him about the jug. His gaze on me was terrifyingly intent.
"Yes," he said, and he managed to sound almost normal, but his hands were shaking. "I think you're right. Good work."
"But what do we do?"
He pushed himself off the wall and headed for the door, walking wide around me. "First," he said, "we get it away from the civilians."
Nightingale hesitated in the doorway, and I brushed into him. He flinched explosively, and then seized me around the waist. I grinned. I couldn't help it. But he did nothing more, and we walked back to the jug. As we got close, Nightingale's grip on me tightened further.
"Yes," he said, "this is it. All right." And then to my surprise, he just picked up the whole jug, turned sharply and headed back for the office. Once inside, he put the jug down on the desk and stared at it as if it was full of live snakes.
"What is it?" I asked.
"A love potion of some sort. There are thousands of them, all with slightly different scope. But this one seems to be connected to the jug itself, somehow." He looked inside again. "I think fixing it will be simple."
His words were professional, the master magician lecturing his student, but his voice kept drifting into a seductive pitch and he was trembling slightly with effort. I paid as much attention as I could, but I kept watching the movement of his lips instead of hearing his words. I could almost smell him.
He picked up the jug, took a quick step away from me, and threw it down on the far side of the office. The pottery smashed, and as it did, the purple liquid just vanished, not a single drop left on the floor. I stared at the fragments, but nothing else happened.
I let out my breath slowly, telling myself I felt relieved and not disappointed. It was over.
My dick remained stubbornly hard, and Nightingale still looked shaky and breathless. "Are you sure that worked?" I managed to say.
"It won't happen again," he said, "but I think it still takes some time to... work itself off. And proximity to it will have exacerbated it." He closed his eyes.
"We still need to know who's responsible," I said. "Someone working here, I guess." Nightingale was right, I was feeling it more strongly all of a sudden. I couldn't look away from Nightingale, and I felt an overwhelming need to touch him. Not sure what I was doing, I walked over to him, aware that I was making a big deal of it, hips jutting and head up high.
"Peter," he whispered, "what are you doing?"
I stood inches away from him and said in his ear, "Thomas."
His lips parted, surprise and lust together.
"Let's just. It's the quickest way to make it stop. Come on. It'll be... it'll be fine." More than fine. I let my hand stroke over his hip, and he shuddered. Then he tried to pull back.
"I don't. Want. Pity," he muttered.
"Good," I said, "because you're absolutely fucking devastating right now." And I kissed him.
The moment you kiss your boss is always going to be spectacularly fraught, but I bet in the annals of workplace flings, this situation is one that's pretty hard to match. Nightignale tried to hold out for about ten seconds longer, but then he just... let go.
After that it was as wild a time as I've ever had. His knees were giving way, so I pressed him back against the wall, and he ground his hips into mine, and it was like being fifteen again, too desperate and urgent to get clothes off or do anything clever or complicated, just him grinding against me and me holding him in place. I kept my mouth on his, and he groaned into my kiss and I could feel his cock rubbing against mine through his trousers and my painfully tight jeans. I couldn't get either of our trousers undone, so they stayed on, and his erection dug into my thigh and his hands were hard on my arse, pushing me against him. I felt him lose control completely, his body going slack, held up only by friction, and he began to come. The sight and feel of his orgasm was enough to bring mine after, and he gave a final gasp and sank down. I followed him, our bodies pressed together, and he went still.
Now coppers famously have complicated sex lives. In any nick in the country, you'll really struggle to find someone who's managed to keep a marriage going for more than five years or so, and workplace relationships are two a penny. The reason is, you work long unsociable and irregular hours with your team and bond closely with them and barely have any time at home, you go through all the nasty shit life throws at you together, and you can't talk about most of it to anyone who's not Job. It spills over into your love life, and people having surprise flings with their fellow officers regardless of rank isn't even a little bit unusual.
Going out to a gay bar with your boss and both getting magically influenced into having sex up against a wall in a public space, now, that doesn't happen so often.
Nightingale was limp, almost dazed, his eyes unfocused, half-sitting against the wall. I stared at him. The spell should have been broken now, and I didn't feel the same artificial urgency as before. But perhaps it wasn't quite gone, because I found myself sliding my arm around him again and settling in beside him. My trousers were sticky and I knew it would be really uncomfortable soon, but it wasn't yet, and for a moment we sat together in stunned peace. Nightingale caught his breath and turned his head to look at me, then quickly looked away again.
"Peter," he said, still with his face averted. "My God. I--I'm sorry--"
Pretty much top of the list of things I didn't want to do right now was have a conversation that was so far past awkward that it was in a different galaxy. "It's okay," I said, as flippantly as I could. "I've had weirder nights out."
"I should have--"
"We need to have this conversation some other time," I said. Or never.
He closed his eyes.
"Because the owner of the bar is here," I added. "And he doesn't look happy."
I'm not saying I was grateful to have someone take a swing at me just then, just that it was easier to cope with. But it wasn't actually me he was aiming at, and Nightingale was facing away, and was still lost in the land of Oh Shit What Just Happened. I didn't move fast enough, and he smacked Nightingale hard and completely unawares. Nightingale went down, and I got up.
It's important for a copper to keep his cool in a fight. The public goes wild and angry and lashes out, and we stay cool and sort them out. But my emotions were still running high and fast as the Thames in flood, and someone attacking Nightingale, after what had just happened, got way under my skin. I went for him.
The owner was a tall thin man in a purple velvet jacket and tight black jeans, and he wasn't quite human. I knew that as soon as he grabbed me in one hand and pinned me by my throat to the wall. "The Isaacs," he spat. "You're not wanted here. Do you have any idea how long it took me to get that formula right?"
I struggled without result, and then went limp, looking just behind my attacker. I think he must have realised what was coming, because his grip suddenly loosened.
"You'd be amazed," said Nightingale, "to hear how little I care about that." He raised his hand, and there was a flash of a spell, and I was free and the owner was suddenly flat on his back on the floor. I rubbed my neck and straightened my shirt and caught my breath. Nightingale gave me one intent look, and turned his attention back to the owner, who was had gone very pale.
Nightingale took a deliberate step back, visibly calming himself. "All right. Get up," he said.
The owner obeyed, keeping well away from Nightingale and me. "They're so boring here," he said plaintively. "And so repressed. All the other clubs are much more interesting. I thought I'd just ... help them out. It took me months to get the formula right. But it doesn't make anyone do anything they don't want to, you know, nothing illegal, nothing wrong. It just... releases their inhibitions, gives them a bit of help."
"You do not," said Nightingale grimly, "put the people of this city under any spells, for any reason. Am I making myself quite clear?"
The owner nodded with almost cartoonish speed.
"Good. Get back to work. I don't want to see you again."
I saw the owner glance at the damp patches on Nightingale's trousers, and mine, and the tiniest flicker of amusement crossed his face as he hurried out of Nightingale's reach.
Releases inhibitions, I thought. God. Just how inhibitited was Nightingale, usually?
He stooped down and began to pick up the pieces of the broken jug. I found a Tesco bag balled up in a corner and held it open as he put them in. It wasn't anything like good evidence collection procedure, but we weren't going to do anything with this that the rest of the police service would ever see. He gave me the bag.
"Take that out to Lesley, and then you can both go back home. I'll be back later," he said tersely, not meeting my eye. I took the Tesco bag. Better than arguing. On my way out I stopped in the toilets to clean myself up. The lingering remnants of the spell were still active in here, I noticed: there were some very distinctive noises coming from a cubicle. I chose to exercise my discretion as a constable of the law, and also because I'm not that much of a hypocrite.
Lesley was still sitting in the Jag, but she got out when I arrived.
"It's all sorted," I said. "It was a spell, but we stopped it, and Nightingale gave the owner a verbal warning." That was one way to put it. "There was some kind of substance contained in this which was driving the spell." I gave her the bag, and the pieces of the jug clanked against each other. "Nightingale says take it back to the Folly, he'll make his own way home."
"Are you all right?" Lesley asked.
"I'm fine." I turned back towards the pub.
"Aren't you coming?"
She eyed me. The mask makes her glares much worse than before. "Don't do anything stupid," she said. "Stupider than whatever you've already done," she added thoughtfully.
"It'll be fine," I said, and nearly managed to give her a jaunty wave as she got into the Jag.
I went back inside. The atmosphere had noticeably changed, calming and settling, though it wasn't quite the sedate place it had been when we'd arrived. I spotted Nightingale making his own way out of the toilets, preceded by a red-faced couple. Evidently he'd taken a dimmer view of their quickie. Unguarded, he looked unhappy and exhausted and lonely. Then he saw me, and his face closed like a shell.
"I told you to go back with Lesley," he said as I caught up with him.
"I know. I came back here."
He carried on walking towards the door, so I followed him. "I will release you from all your oaths and obligations as my apprentice," he said, and his voice was so empty of any emotion he could have been reading the telephone directory. "A place on one of the borough CIDs will be found for you. If you prefer not to return to the Folly I will have your things returned to your parents' flat. The fault was mine, and I will not let it affect your career. I should have kept control of the situation."
We went through the door and into the street. I was sure I must be making faces like a goldfish. "I don't want to leave the Folly," I blurted out, and only narrowly avoided saying I don't want to leave you. Sod it. "I don't want to leave you."
He stopped walking and stared at me, the first reaction he'd shown.
"If you feel you can't work with me, that's different, but--but I don't want that. The spell hit both of us, not just you, and as I recall it was my idea anyway. It released my inhibitions too."
"Indeed," said Nightingale coldly. "You don't normally choose men."
"No!" I said. "I mean yes, not normally, but sometimes, but that's not what I meant." I was getting tangled up. Nightingale watched me, still expressionless. "I mean I don't normally choose people who I already--who are already important to me. Really important."
It was true, and I'd never thought about it before. I didn't want to think about it now. Nightingale continued to look at me for a long time. I couldn't think of anything else to say, but he must have understood I meant it, because he finally nodded once, and his eyes softened on me. He turned to walk along the street, slowly, and I kept pace with him.
I'm not good at talking about stuff like this, and I was sure Nightingale wasn't either; in fact he was probably worse than me. So we just walked together down the street, past closed-up shops and takeaways and other clubs. There were people around, but no trouble, just some couples and groups of friends laughing and talking. I noticed that Nightingale's steps and mine were in sync. He moved a fraction closer to me to make room for a man in a pink tutu going the other way down the pavement, and I could feel how tense he was, worry and uncertainty thrumming through him as strongly as desire had earlier. I wanted to see him relax again, but it took me a full minute, after we rounded the corner towards Vauxhall station, before I could make myself move my right arm and put it around his waist. Not his shoulders: that would be deniable as manly sympathy or some crap like that, but you don't put your arm round another guy's waist unless you mean it.
Nightingale tensed even more, which wasn't what I'd intended, so I pulled him closer until we were pressed together. He sighed then, and I felt the hard angles of his body soften against me, and he put his arm around my shoulders. His hand stroked down my back and he said quietly, "Peter," and I knew then that it would be all right.
There's a famous bit of street art by Banksy from the side of a pub in Brighton that shows two policemen kissing passionately on a street corner. They're both white and in uniform, so it wasn't a perfect replica, but I like to think we had the spirit of it.