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Scratching the itch

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When the initial shock over That Night wore out and he was able to think about it without cringing, it occurred to Christoph it was highly unfair that he couldn't remember anything about it. About the night when he'd done the previously unimaginable and gone to bed with a man. The one time in his life that he'd wanted it, gone through with it, and, as far as he could tell, enjoyed it, and he didn't remember anything about it. And it made him curious. And curiosity, it seemed, led to something else. He found himself thinking about the way Edgar seemed to get under his skin, or whatever, simply got him, that had him resting his eyes on Edgar's well-formed body when it had settled into the bath with him. He had protested at first, and those protests had been real and in no way half-hearted. He had initially got back into the bath just to prove a point. He hadn't been prepared for the direction that his thoughts took once he had found his wits again and the hot water in the bath had relaxed him.

Seeing Edgar in the bath had him asking himself what it would feel like to touch that strong body, to run his hands over it, what would Edgar's skin taste like, and how that would body respond to his hands and mouth.... Just when this line of thought was beginning to alarm him, the telephone rang and Edgar scampered out of the bath to answer it. Christoph shook his head and decided to put those kinds of mental images firmly out of his mind.

If only that resolve had held. But in the days that followed, unable to tear his eyes away from the sight of Edgar's hands working on cars, resting on the steering wheel, holding a mug of coffee, caressing Marco, he couldn't stop wondering what those hands would feel on him.

He kept telling himself it wasn't happening. At work he was only going through the motions, struggling to keep up the normal banter with Mike or take the trouble of getting to know Renmark properly. He even went as far as to ask Mike if he had changed somehow. That was the only explanation for his confusion he could think of, and it felt so profound he found it impossible to believe it didn't show on him.

It boiled down to this: there was a man in his life that he couldn't stop thinking about. No other man he had ever met or spent time with had ever inspired such feelings in him, no naked bodies in the police changing room, or colleagues with whom he'd shared long days and nights in the overwhelming boredom of stake-outs. With some trepidation, he considered the logical next step in that line of thought and asked himself if there could be other men like Edgar. He doubted it. But even so, or perhaps just because, he was sure he wanted to do something about it.

It just wasn't easy to talk about it, not after Edgar's outburst at the thoughtless assumptions of his questions about protection and risks that night when they shared the bath. Every time he tried to bring it up, Edgar changed the subject.

The chat on the bridge changed everything. He didn't disagree when Edgar suggested he was one of those straight men who couldn't be turned. He knew it was mostly true, he didn't feel any different, although he knew he wanted Edgar and would forever regret it if he didn't do anything about it. But he couldn't find the words to say it. And the knowledge that Edgar had feelings for him made him hold his tongue. Edgar would probably be up for it if he made the move, but he didn't know how.

It was a lucky accident that his colleagues raided the club later that night. Trying to find the right man for Edgar confirmed for him, again, it was just Edgar.

He was taken by surprise when Edgar kissed him and simply froze, until he saw the colleagues from the corner of the eye and started paying more attention to the kissing. And then it wasn't just a desperate move to avoid an embarrassing conversation that might have long-term effects on his reputation at work, it became something else. He forgot to keep an eye out for the colleagues, and it wasn't until Edgar broke away that he realised that they were gone. He found his right hand on Edgar's thigh and wasn't quite sure how it'd got there. Edgar's expression was unreadable when they got up and made it to the door.

They didn't speak much on the way to home and retreated to their bedrooms in silence. But once in bed, Christoph couldn't sleep. The kiss kept replaying in his mind. By getting into the kiss, he had taken the first step towards what he thought he wanted, and it had been good. So good in fact that he wanted more. But he couldn't forget what Edgar had said on the bridge, about what he felt, and he didn't want to take advantage of it. It was an easy excuse for him to think of whatever he ever did with Edgar as an experiment, easy to walk away from if it didn't live up to his fantasies. Or even if it was as good as he hoped, it just might not something he'd wanted to do again once he'd scratched that itch. But it was clear Edgar wanted more, and he had no idea if he could give it.

But if he never took things further, he wouldn't know what it was like. He'd find a flat of his own eventually, or move in with Helen (or someone like her), meet Edgar occasionally for a beer and they'd drift apart, and he'd never know what it was like to sleep with him for real. No matter how happy and satisfied with his life he was, he would wonder. And regret if he hadn't done everything in his power to make it happen. If only just the once. And if it was good....

The thought made him pause. If it was good and he wanted it again, did he want a relationship with Edgar? He wasn't sure. Would he be able to live as a gay man? And still be a policeman and everything? Would he still be himself?

For a moment he wished he'd experimented more when he was younger. It was ridiculous for a man in his thirties to feel so uncertain about what he wanted. But when he was nineteen, or twenty-two, everything had always been clear to him: join the police, become a detective, get promoted, have a girlfriend, live with her, marry her, have children. He had never stopped to question it. When he had broken up with girlfriends in the past it had never occurred to him to wonder if it wasn't just the relationship that didn't work or the women unreasonable, but something to do with him. But then Uschi dumped him, he fell into bed with the first man he came across, and now he was contemplating sharing his life with that man. It wasn't happening.

But on the other hand, it was just Edgar, it wasn't that he was gay. Looking at all those other men at the club and trying to find someone who would be good for Edgar had made it clear. None of those beautiful bodies made his heart miss a beat. It was just Edgar.

Frustrated with the lack of sleep and his thoughts going round in circles, he got up and tiptoed to the kitchen to have a drink of water. He didn't bother to put the light on.

When he was leaning against the kitchen worktop, lost in his thought again, he heard Edgar stumbling on something in the hallway and swearing, before appearing in the kitchen. He was naked, rubbing his eyes, not seeing Christoph at first. Christoph couldn't tear his eyes away from the beautiful body, the outline of which was visible in the faint light that came through the window. Edgar stopped on his tracks when he noticed him, then registered the gaze.

Neither of them moved for a moment. Edgar started to speak but Christoph took a step closer and touched his face. It silenced him, at least for a moment. Feeling bolder, Christoph stroked his cheek with one hand and put his other hand to Edgar's waist and pulled him closer. Edgar didn't resist, but once close, held himself stiffly. Christoph felt he was taking an enormous leap when he kissed him. He could still feel Edgar's protests, as still as Edgar stood, I like you but I'm not your test ground, I'm not taking the blame for this in the morning when you'll regret this and run away, I can't deal with that, are you sure you want to do this.... He sensed a change in Edgar and tried to put all he felt in the kiss, I want this, I won't regret this, I won't pretend it never happened, I think about you all the time, about this. He felt Edgar's smile, and it was Edgar who steered them towards the bedroom.

In the morning, Christoph woke to the increasing amount of light in the bedroom, and sought the alarm clock by Edgar's bed with his eyes, reluctant to move away from Edgar's embrace. It was still early, he wasn't in a rush to get up, so he lay quietly, enjoying the weight and warmth of Edgar's arm over his chest.

He remembered the first time he'd woken in Edgar's bed and how unsettling it had been. Now he felt calm. It had been good, even better than he'd been able to imagine. Edgar had been gentle and generous, and had made him feel at ease. There had been moments when he'd felt awkward, like he had no idea what he was doing, but it had been fine, it had been OK to give it all he had. If he had felt that it was impossible to go on with his life without knowing what it really was like, he thought it would now be hard not to do this again. There might never be other men for him, but right now, he didn't think he could do without this.