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Why wait any longer for the world to begin

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“I don’t think either of you are fit to drive,” Mrs. Grant says. They’ve all been celebrating Ray and Bodie’s rises finally coming through—and retroactively! “You’d better spend the night.”

“That’s very kind of you, ma’am,” Bodie says, “but—”

“I can put you in a room with a double bed,” she says.

Mrs. Grant’s trying to be nice. She is being nice. Really nice. Ray feels a little guilty for how much easier she is to talk to about stuff than his own mum. He doesn’t only think that because she’s posh, does he? God, he hopes not. Is he turning into a snob? He almost asks Bodie before he remembers their posh friends can hear him and it would be bad manners.

The point is, Ray really likes Mrs. Grant, and she’s trying to do a nice thing, but Bodie came over awkward as soon as she said that about the double bed, even though she and Susan and Miss Walsh all know.

Ray has had too much champagne for anything like real tact, but they can’t leave poor sweet Mrs. Grant hanging, so he opens his mouth to tell her how nice she’s being and how much they appreciate it.

Susan also noticed Bodie coming over awkward, though, and she gets in ahead of him. Ray likes her too, but he wouldn’t mind her paying Bodie a bit less attention.

Wait, does Ray like her? Or is that the champagne? He’s at the stage where he likes everybody. No, he likes Susan sober, too. Didn’t at first. Does now.

Anyway, she cuts in with, “You’re such a hypocrite, Mother! You never let me share a room with my boyfriends.”

Ray’s not sure how that’s supposed to make anything less embarrassing, but Susan’s put away a bottle at least, he’s sure she’s doing her best—

Bodie relaxes. “I know that firsthand,” he says, grinning at Susan.

Maybe Ray doesn’t like her after all. How did she know that would happen?

He can’t hold on to it, though. If Ray had charge of the world, he’d fill it chock-a-block with people who’d go out of their way for Bodie, right?

“I know, darling, but you’re my daughter. Can’t you leave me some polite fictions?”

“So if I were married, would my husband have to stay in a separate room?”

“Well, of course not, but—”

“Then what’s the difference? Marriage isn’t a magic wand, it’s a corrupt social institution. You think you’re being progressive, but a double standard—”

Trying not to laugh, Ray tugs on Bodie’s jacket. Shit, he wants to lean on Bodie. Fall flush against him and kiss his cheek. He can’t. It’ll embarrass Bodie.

“Thank you for the offer, ma’am,” Bodie says. Ray is sure he’s much soberer than everybody else, although you’d never know it from how he’s been acting. “But we’re putting up in the village and driving back to town in the morning.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t hear of it—”

“We’ve got a room at the inn already. But you’re an angel, and you can have a double standard in my favor any time the fancy takes you.”

Susan and Miss Walsh both snort at the same time.

“Well, good night,” Ray says loudly. “Thanks for a lovely evening, ma’am. Susan, Miss Walsh.”

Bodie gives Miss Walsh a goodbye kiss on the cheek. He started doing it a while back, but it seems especially adorable tonight.

She’s been celebrating too, and pats him on the cheek much harder than usual. The first one rocks Bodie a little, before he plants his feet. “You’re a good boy,” she tells him very firmly, “and I’m proud of you.”

Bodie looks overjoyed. Miss Walsh is a good egg. Ray gives her a grateful smile, and ducks into the corridor after Bodie before she gets any ideas about smacking his face.

Susan follows them to the door and hands them their jackets out of the closet. “Sorry about that. Mother and I are both a bit smashed.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Ray tells her, putting his fist in the air for a second. “The personal is political.”

Her face lights up. “Yes! Yes, exactly.”

Bodie looks fondly between the two of them, and Ray can’t help tugging on his jacket again. Time to go.

Bodie hesitates, and then he slings an arm around Ray. A bit stiff, but he’s trying. Ray’s heart swells. “Well, I’d better get this one back to the inn before he falls asleep on your mum’s doormat.”

The perfect cover! Ray yawns and leans a little harder on Bodie.

“Have you got a torch?” Susan asks. “It’s pitch dark out.”

“Yeah.” Bodie pulls it out of his jacket, and Ray has to fight with everything he’s got not to say Oh, I thought you were just happy to see me.

Susan’s clearly fighting a laugh, too. “You two enjoy your stay at the—” She puts a hand over her mouth. A squeak escapes.

Bodie looks torn between dying of mortification and making a completely filthy joke to pretend he’s unfazed.

“We will, good night!” Ray says, and drags him out the door. Alone at last.

Ray’s not drunk enough to have any trouble walking a straight line, but he might get distracted and forget to watch where he’s going. He keeps his eyes on the ground as he crunches down the drive in Bodie’s wake. The sweep of the torch beam is perfectly steady, he notices.

“You could have had more to drink,” Ray says. “If you wanted to, I mean.”

Bodie throws him a sidelong glance, eyebrows going up a bit.

Ray suddenly realizes that Bodie wasn’t not drinking because he’s uptight around their friends. Obviously he is that, but also they’re finally putting up at the Cock Inn after approximately four hundred thousand jokes, and Bodie wanted to be sure he could get it up.

Ray raises his eyebrows back. “You know the world wouldn’t end if your—”

Bodie shines the torch directly in his eyes. “Discretion, Mr. Doyle!”

“Ow! I am being discreet.”

“Say it a bit louder, a few people in Chorleywood Bottom might have missed it.”

Ray smiles beatifically at him just as the path takes them into a nice bit of woods. “You’d better shove something in my mouth then, hadn’t you?”

Even in the dark, he can sense the temptation radiating off Bodie. Thinking about pushing Ray onto his knees right here, probably. And God, Ray would let him. It’s pitch dark. If Bodie shut off the torch, they’d notice someone coming long, long before anyone could see them.

But Bodie won’t really. He worries more than Ray does—about this, anyway. Ray knows it isn’t all ego and wanting to look like He-Man. Gay sex is still illegal in the military, even in private.

Ray’s mouth waters, though.

Bodie steers him around a puddle Ray spotted three minutes ago. Ray loves him so much. He wants to tell him. He wants to touch him. “These are the sacrifices I make for you,” he grumbles.

“What are you on about?”

“Shh.” Ray puts a finger to his own lips. He wants to put it on Bodie’s. He shoves his hands in his pockets. “That’s classified. Even the trees have ears.” He tromps doggedly on. It’s not that much farther, and then—

Something rustles in the underbrush. Bodie freezes, hand snaking around Ray’s wrist. “What was that?”

“Probably the cheetah.” Ray giggles. “Or the baboon.”

“What?” Bodie sounds unnerved. His fingers are still curled around Ray’s wrist. Ray tingles with wanting to loop his arms around Bodie’s neck and tell him not to worry, Ray will protect him. He’ll kick the baboon in the teeth.

And then he’d be plastered against Bodie already and he could kiss him and tell him how handsome he looks.

Ray’s allowed now! Most of the time. Well, maybe not most. When they’re in private, anyway. At home. He can do it in front of Bodie, is what he’s trying to say. It’s everyone else that’s the problem. As usual.

“What are you on about, there aren’t cheetahs in England,” Bodie says, a bit harsh, and Ray remembers he’s spent time in the jungle.

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” he says. “Sherlock Holmes joke. Sorry.” He pulls his hand, the one attached to the wrist Bodie’s holding onto, out of his pocket—risky, it’s a slippery slope, and Ray really shouldn’t think about things being slippery—and tries to soothingly rub Bodie’s fingers with his thumb, but the angle’s not right.

“Oh yeah. Speckled band.” Bodie exhales and lets go of him. They’re back out in the open now, cutting across a field towards the lights of the inn.

Ray just has to get through the next five minutes, tops. “What’s a speckled band? You mean like a band of people?”

“Nah, it’s a deadly snake,” Bodie says, quite suggestively. “If you’re not careful it’ll slither right into your bed and sink its teeth into you.”

“Who’s being indiscreet now?” Oh thank God, they’ve hit the edge of the graveyard. The inn’s just to the other side and across the road.

“Still you. Think you can keep it together through the pub? Or do I need to carry you?”

“I’m much more likely to do something stupid if you’re carrying me,” Ray says. “You always put your hand right on my bum.”

“You’ve got a nice bum,” Bodie murmurs, grabbing the back of his jacket when he tries to cross the road. There isn’t a car anywhere to be seen or heard. “Now for God’s sake, shut your trap until we’re in the room.” Bodie looks both ways, then gives Ray a little shove. Like he’s a toddler. Ray adores him.

Ray keeps his trap shut: through the door, across the pub, up the stairs (even though Bodie puts a hand at the small of his back, and Ray has to bite his lip hard to keep from doing any of the thousand indiscreet things that occur to him) and down the corridor. As soon as Bodie opens the door, Ray dives through it to toe off his trainers and take off his jacket so he’ll be ready when Bodie is done—

Bodie might never be done, is the thing.

Ray waits, vibrating, arms crossed, while Bodie locks the door, put the chain on, checks it. Bodie goes to the window. He makes sure the curtains are completely shut at both ends and in the middle.

But then he turns around, shoulders relaxing. Ray smiles at him. Bodie smiles back.

Ray launches himself into Bodie’s arms, and Bodie catches him, laughing.

“You put your hand on my bum,” Ray accuses. “I came this close to rubbing off on you in the stairwell.”

“You’ve got a nice bum,” Bodie says against his mouth. He sounds happy.

Ray’s own happiness is a balloon in his chest. “I love you. I love you so much. You’re perfect. Did you wear that shirt just to torture me?”

“And there I thought I was doing something nice for you.”

“Enough small talk,” Ray tells him. “Cock in, hurry it up. Truth in advertising.”

“I don’t think it’s a service guaranteed by the hotel.”

“The other patrons don’t know what they’re missing, then.”

Bodie walks backwards towards the bed, drawing Ray after him by his hips. “And you’re going to have to be patient for a bit, because I know you won’t be careful later.”

“Nope. Dulled sensation. A bit, anyway.” He grins at Bodie. “I like that sometimes. You can be overwhelming.”

“Overwhelming how?” Bodie asks innocently.

“I feel you too much.”

Bodie frowns a little. Ray isn’t sure if it’s an I have no idea what you’re on about frown or an I’m having feelings and I don’t like it frown.

“You know. It’s like…you wanted a nice evening at the theater,” he elaborates, “maybe a song-and-dance number and some showgirls, and instead you ended up at Bodie de sangre.”

“You calling me a tragedy?” Bodie hits the edge of the bed and sits, pulling Ray down to straddle him.

Ray loves this part. Where things haven’t really gotten serious, and their ability to talk isn’t impaired yet (well, except by champagne, a bit), and it’s all anticipation and Bodie undoing his buttons. “There’s something really sweet about the way you undress me,” he says. “I dunno what it is. It’s like—really sexy but also like you think maybe I can’t do it myself. No, that’s not quite right. I don’t know. Like if I had a broken arm or was in shock or something, you’d do it that same way, and you’d say Sh-sh-sh, don’t worry, I’ve got you. But then maybe you’d cop a quick feel.”

Bodie tugs Ray’s shirt out of his jeans to get at the last few buttons, and slides it down Ray’s shoulders. “Don’t fall off,” he warns, clamping a hand on the back of Ray’s neck, and bends down to bite his nipple.

Ray clings to the nice blue shirt. “Fuck, Bodie,” he says, definitely too loudly.

“If you can’t be quiet, I will have to shove something in your mouth.” Bodie’s other hand is on Ray’s zipper. “All right, take ’em off.”

Ray shimmies out of the jeans. His briefs get stuck and he doesn’t bother pulling them back out. His socks catch, too. He’s just naked now. Bodie is still fully dressed.

Ray doesn’t care that much about all that. Well, he likes being naked. He likes Bodie being naked. He likes Bodie being dressed. Whatever.

Maybe that didn’t come out right. Obviously Ray thinks Bodie being naked is outstanding. A-one. Ray’s just taken too many art classes and hung around too many hookers for nudity to still be this big electrifying taboo. Sometimes in life, people are in the same room and wearing different amounts of clothing. But he knows this gets Bodie hot. He crawls back into Bodie’s lap, and he can see it in his face, how thrilled he is. “Well? Now you’ve got me, what’ll you do to me?”

“Whatever I want,” Bodie says promptly. But even after nearly six months, he looks just a bit like he’s waiting to see if Ray will contradict him.

Ray’s sensation isn’t dulled enough, apparently. There’s a sweet, sharp pain in his chest. “Mm,” he agrees. “All yours.”

Bodie’s fingers tighten on his hips, and Ray’s eyes sting. “Well,” Bodie says casually, “I think I’ll start by shoving my fingers up your arse. Once I’ve done that, maybe I’ll sit you down on my cock.”

Ray makes a doubtful face. “Ooh, I dunno. You reckon I’ll enjoy that?”

Bodie rolls up his sleeves, raising his eyebrows at Ray’s shiver. “What do you think?”

Ray shrugs. “I’ll try anything once.”

Bodie laughs helplessly. His eyes are shining. He’s so lovely. Ray kisses him. Ray’s all his, and nothing’s ever been lovelier than that. “Once?” Bodie says when he’s stopped laughing and Ray’s stopped kissing him. “Oh yeah, you’ve spent your life in a convent.” Fingers ghost across Ray’s arse-cheeks, and then Bodie’s middle fingertip strokes his hole.

“This close to taking my vows.” Ray kisses him again. “Don’t think I was really meant for the life, though. I like kissing you quite a bit. That’s probably God giving me a sign, right?”

“This is why I’m banned from convents.”

“What, all of them?”

Bodie nods regretfully. “I get within fifty feet and the novices realize what they’re missing.”

“I’m banned from the arcade in Brighton.”

“You are?”

“Won too many prizes at the shooting gallery.” Ray pushes back against Bodie’s finger. The tip slips inside. But Bodie told him to be patient. No lubricant yet, even. Ray doesn’t try for anything more.

“Look at you,” Bodie says. “‘Ooh, I dunno, sir, do you think I’ll enjoy that?’ You’ll be sobbing with pleasure and begging for seconds by the time I’m through with you.”

“Better take your shirt off then, I like it. Don’t want to get it tear-stained.”

“In a minute. Here, let me get the Crisco.”

Ray steels himself to stop touching, but Bodie grips Ray’s hip and leans, reaching with the other. Ray hears his overnight bag slide out from under the bed.

Ray stares at the top of his head. “Maybe you are suave after all.”

“Nah, you’re just predictable,” Bodie says wickedly, unzipping the bag. Ray struggles to keep still and not overbalance them, because the faster he’s patient, the faster…

He wriggles, thinking about Bodie’s cock stretching him. Sliding in and out, rubbing over the sweet spot…

“At least wait to start moaning till I’ve done something.” But Bodie’s smiling as he sits up. He lets go of Ray, and Ray hears the tin pop open.

“I’ve got a good imagination,” Ray says. “And anyway you’ve done it before, I remember what it feels like.”

“Oh? Prove it, give me a few details.”

“You want facts or opinions?”

“Let’s start with opinions.”

“Feels like heaven.”

Bodie’s petting Ray’s hole with greased fingertips, now. “And the facts?”

“Well, first you’re going to let me ride you. I’ll go slow, getting in the mood, teasing myself a bit. Teasing you. And you’ll be perfectly still and let me do it. You don’t have to be that still for me, you know. Unless you want to. Do you like it?”

“What’s not to like?” Bodie’s finger slips inside, feels around.

Ray shuts his eyes. He’s been thinking about this all day. All week. Hell, Ray’s been thinking about this for the last several years. “You like having me do all the work? That tracks.”

There’s a pause. “I like you using me exactly the way you want to,” Bodie says. “I like knowing that everything that’s happening is what you…I can’t explain it. It’s like you’re wanking, except that sounds like it’s about me not being there, and that’s not it.”

Ray is glad he’s a bit drunk because he wouldn’t be this slack otherwise. Not with Bodie actually fumbling for the truth like this. God. He buries his face in the shirt. Dark blue and soft, like the night sky. “I know you exist,” he reminds Bodie. “Even if we’re brains in a vat. Your brain’s in the vat with me. Floating about. Probably bumping up against each other now and then. Saying cheers. Squish squish. Ooh, maybe mine’s wearing sunglasses.” He giggles at the image.

“You’re not normal, you know that?”

Ray shrugs. “Ooh. Right there. Oh, Jesus, do that again. Bodie.” He can feel himself opening up like a morning glory. “Wait, sorry, you were saying something and I interrupted.”

“I like not having to guess,” Bodie says. “I know I’m not screwing anything up.” His fingers are confident, though, inside Ray. Calm and decisive. Exactly the fingers you’d want up your arse in a crisis.

Not that Ray thinks about Bodie fingering him when they’re in a crisis. He keeps his mind on the job! Mostly. He’s a consummate professional. Wait, isn’t that the same word for the first time you shag after you’re married? Ray tries not to crack up again. Bodie’s talking to him and he wants to take it seriously.

“And it makes me hot, knowing it’s getting you there as efficiently as possible,” Bodie says. “No distractions. You get single-minded. It’s pornographic.”

“I like it too,” Ray confides. “You never act like I’m wasting your time. I know it takes me longer than you to get from naught to sixty.”

“You going to start about my persistent unwanted erection again?”

“Who said anything about unwanted?” Yeah, Ray’s ready. When he leans forward to whisper in Bodie’s ear, it pushes him deeper onto Bodie’s fingers, and in they go without a hitch. “And when I’m through using you exactly the way I want, I expect you’ll do your best impression of a crankshaft, and by then I’ll be loose enough to just close my eyes and breathe. Meditative.” Ray moans, half from imagining it, half from Bodie’s knuckles rubbing his prostate. “My mouth is watering.” Why does that sound familiar? “Oh yeah! It was watering earlier. In the woods. You were thinking about pushing me down and fucking my mouth, weren’t you?”

“Gee, it’s like you’re psychic and also told me to shove something in your mouth.”

“Maybe I should suck your cock now.”

“I don’t understand how you’re so filthy. Are you even half trying?”

Ray raises his head to look Bodie in the eye. Bodie crooks his fingers across Ray’s prostate in hello. Ray smiles back and lets the pleasure jolt through him. He lets Bodie see it. “I’m just uninhibited.”

“No you’re not.”

“Yeah.” Ray loops his arms around Bodie’s neck, finally. “I am. Compared to you, anyway.”

“I’ve tried way more things than you have!”

“That’s not what uninhibited means. It means you do what you feel without worrying how it looks to other people.”

Bodie’s eyes drop.

“See? There you go. I dunno why, you always look sensational.” He kisses Bodie. “I love you. How much longer are you going to make me be patient for?”

“Couldn’t say, really. I’m enjoying myself.”

“Oh. All right, have at it then. Don’t forget to take off your clothes.”

“Do you want me to?” Bodie pulls out to relubricate.

“I said I like that shirt. It’s your shirt, though. Just don’t whinge to me about stains later.”

“Fair. These trousers need to go in the bin soon anyway.”

“Thought you loved those.”

“I do, that’s why they’re wearing out.” A couple of his fingers work their way back into Ray. Both index fingers, feels like.

“So just wear them round the flat, then.”

Bodie rolls his eyes.

Ray gets it. If he had a shilling for every time his own mum said, I’m throwing that shirt away, people will think we can’t afford to dress you… He remembers begging her and trying to fish stuff back out the bin. Now he can see her side of it. It wasn’t her fault Ray gets attached. Sentimental.

“You were wearing that shirt when we rented that hotel room together,” he reminds Bodie. “Up north, for the Gay Youth Organization.”

Bodie smiles. “Oh yeah!” He wiggles his fingers. “I couldn’t stop thinking about doing this.”

“Me neither. You stretched out on your bed and I thought…I could just climb on top of him.”

“Could have. I wouldn’t have stopped you.” He starts prying Ray apart. Sometimes if they’re in a different position, he’ll shove his tongue in the gap.

Ray’s had enough of being patient. He was patient way too long. “Cock in,” he demands. “I want what it says on the tin.”

Bodie snickers. “What it says on the inn.”

“Or rimming, I’d settle for rimming.”

“Let’s stick with the program for now. But maybe I’ll eat you out later, if I haven’t reduced you to enough of a jelly after the first orgasm.”

Ray’s never been someone who wanted to go all night before. Do it once, maybe twice, then a nice cuddle and a good night’s sleep—that always sounded just right. But there’s something about Bodie’s attention span for sex that really turns his crank. Bodie always seems to want more of him. He’ll keep doing something for as long as Ray’s enjoying it. He once ate Ray out for an hour and a half. Ray had no idea it had been that long until he looked at the clock after one of the most intense orgasms of his life—and then he turned to Bodie to apologize, and Bodie looked smug. Like he’d beaten Ray in a drill or something.

If Bodie gets a kick out of reducing Ray to a blissful blancmange, it’d be ungracious to refuse, right? Churlish, even. Not every night, obviously, Ray needs his sleep. But on special occasions? Absolutely. It’s the least Ray can do.

Ray feels guilty sometimes about not being especially inclined to spend hours leading Bodie through a garden of earthly delights, except—he did try a few times, just to be fair, and Bodie doesn’t like it. He clams right up. The last time, he lost his hard-on and couldn’t get it back. Which, who cares? Ray isn’t going to replace him with a steam drill if he has an off day. But of course Bodie sulked for a week, insisting that had never happened to him before and veering between blaming Ray and wallowing in despair about being past his prime.

Ray figured he could let himself off the hook, after that.

Bodie pulls out and pats Ray’s hip, letting him know to move out of the way. Ray is about to roll onto the sheets when Bodie says, “Don’t you dare, I’ll fetch a towel! We’ve got to sleep on those.”

He’s so fussy. But Ray stands up, wobbling a little, while Bodie goes and washes his hands. Reappearing, he tosses a towel onto the bed and starts to strip. Ray grits his teeth, knowing Bodie’s going to make him wait while he hangs everything up. He’s just doing it to be a jerk, right? Ray doesn’t remember Bodie being quite so neat when he lived by himself. That time Ray went over to round him up and Claire opened the door, there were clothes draped all over the bloody place.

Ray decides not to dwell on it—but when Bodie reaches for the tin to grease up his own cock, Ray swipes it. “Nope. I’ll do it.”

Bodie gives him one of those tiny I’m humoring you smiles. Warm and twinkling.

Bodie thinks he’s enigmatic. Enigmatic, Ray’s arse. He knew Bodie liked him. He could tell from the way Bodie looked at him, and he’d been right. He spreads out the towel so Bodie doesn’t bitch at him, and shoves Bodie down on it.

Dipping his fingers in the Crisco, he wraps a greedy hand around Bodie’s cock. It’s hot and eager and hard, but it lets Ray push it around.

“Do you like how I do this?” he asks, as if he can’t tell from the way Bodie’s looking at him. The way that indulgent little smile vanished the second Ray touched him.

“I like how you do everything,” Bodie says.

…Didn’t he hear Bodie say something like that to someone else, once?

Ray feels a stab of doubt. “You’re sure you don’t mind that I’m predictable? Variety’s the spice of life.”

Bodie tries to frown at him. He can’t focus his eyes. “If you want to have a serious conversation, you’ll have to—” His head falls back. “You’ll have to stop—doing that—” He bats at Ray’s wrist, and misses.

Ray smiles. “Never mind. Dunno what I was worried about.”

He watches Bodie’s cock slide in and out of his fist. It’ll be venturing inside him any minute now. “You’re a plucky little chap,” he tells it. “You probably deserve a rise, too. In pay, I mean, you’ve got the other kind already.”

“Didn’t catch that,” Bodie says, garbled. “Anything important?”

“Nope.” Ray wants to keep going, but he also can’t wait. Cock in. Excelsior! Probably there’s a better Latin motto for this moment but Ray’s fucked if he knows what it is.

Scratch that, Ray’s fucked either way. He grins, holding Bodie in place. “Here we go.” He sinks down. “Oh, yeah. Bodie. I have been waiting my entire life for this moment.”

Bodie grins sweatily back and stays perfectly still, hands curled lightly around Ray’s thighs.

Ray rises up, and sinks. Again. In and out. All those squats are paying dividends.

Bodie watches him. Ray remembers what he said before. I know I’m not screwing anything up.

“I love doing this with you,” he tells Bodie. “You feel so good. Nobody’s ever felt as good as you do.”

Bodie’s energy suddenly feels just a little less relaxed. A little less here. “All cats are gray in the dark,” he jokes.

Ray shakes his head. “Nope. If you blindfolded me and had five different guys stick their cocks in, I’d know which one was yours right off.” He grins. “Well. Might take a few thrusts.”

“Serve you right if I took you up on that.”

“I’ll give you odds,” Ray offers. “Five to one. If I can do it, you only have to give me twenty quid.”

Bodie laughs unsteadily. “You little tart.”

“I’d only be doing it to ease your mind. And score a fast twenty quid.”

“Yeah? How’d you tell which one was mine?”

Ray tries to keep a straight face.

“The smallest one, right. I walked into that one.”

“You said it, I didn’t.” Ray cracks up. “’S a good idea, though, innit—going behind your back and stacking the line-up with enormous cocks? A real win-win for me.”

Bodie shakes his head with as much disapproval as he can muster.

“Nah, I’m just joking. Yours’d be the one that felt right.” Ray slides almost all the way off, rotates his hips and lets the head rub against his opening. “Made for me.” He’s about to ask Bodie to hold it in place for him, when Bodie does it without being asked.

It’s just a little thing, but it fills Ray with contentment. “Like I said. Made for me.” He leans over to kiss Bodie, and when Ray pulls all the way off so he can feel Bodie enter him again—again—Bodie thrusts his tongue into Ray’s mouth in time with his cock, without Ray having to ask for that either.

Ray guesses he is predictable. Doesn’t make Bodie any less wonderful. God, that feels incredible. He remembers Bodie prying him open, earlier. “Think you can get cock and fingers in at the same time?”

Bodie doesn’t answer right away. Ray can tell he’s thinking about angles. Bodie’s got a much better grasp of physics than him. Well, probably most people have a better grasp of physics than Ray at the moment. At the moment, Ray’s not sure he could calculate a gratuity. But Bodie always does. It’s very attractive.

“I can give it a shot,” Bodie says. “You want to stay on top?”

Ray nods.

“I can’t exert as much force that way, and it won’t be much friction for me. Might need the cock ring to stay hard enough,” Bodie says, with a question in it.

“You close at all?” Ray asks.

The thing is, when Bodie fucks Ray, it’s always a bit of an argument who comes first, because—

Ray might be too bad at physics at the moment to explain it. But there are—some number of possibilities. Ray can’t remember how many without counting them:

One, Ray comes first, Bodie keeps fucking him. This one’s a non-starter. Ray gets sensitized.

Two, Ray comes first, Bodie stops fucking him. Bodie’d be willing, but Ray finds this one a bit of a letdown, and more to the point he can’t reliably do it. Knowing Bodie’s waiting on him just makes it worse.

Three, Bodie comes first, then stops fucking Ray. This is Ray’s pick by a wide margin, because it has all the parts he likes best and no time pressure for him. But Bodie really wants Ray to come on his cock, so they usually end up at—

Three, Bodie— No wait, that last one was three. He’s at four now.

Four, Bodie comes first, then keeps fucking Ray. Hence the cock ring. But you can’t just wear one all night, so there’s the time pressure again.

Ray knows he’s a bit of a double-standard-haver about this. Just fuck me, and I’ll come if I come, he says, but when Bodie shoots back, And you’ve reached nirvana, right? You don’t care at all when I come, Ray has to admit he loves it when Bodie comes inside him. He loves how urgent Bodie feels in the run-up, he loves how everything gets squishier after, he loves how if Bodie does keep going, for the first minute or two he’s only doing it for Ray—but most of all, Ray loves how for those few orgasmic seconds, Bodie’s body is moving on its own. Uninhibited. For that little bit of time, Bodie’s not trying to be good in bed. He’s just enjoying himself.

Which sounds like a criticism. Like something’s missing the rest of the time, and that’s bollocks. Ray accepts Bodie the way he is. He loves Bodie the way he is. So Bodie’s a bit neurotic—who the hell isn’t? Ray adores that about him. Every time Bodie gives him a glimpse of it, Ray’s whole heart turns to marmalade.

But Ray can’t help craving those few seconds, when his arse was good enough to push Bodie past all that and into freefall.

“Not that close yet,” Bodie says. “You?”

“No, but I think I will be as soon as you start fucking me for real.”

“You could pull off and jack me for a couple minutes.”

That makes sense. Right? Ray won’t want cock plus fingers for more than a few minutes, and if Bodie fucks him after that, Ray should come long before Bodie’s in any danger of losing circulation or anything. “Sounds like a plan.”

Bodie fishes the cock ring out of his bag and hands it to Ray with the Crisco.

Ray feels a rush of affection as he gets his hand back around Bodie. “We’ve been through a lot together, you and me, huh?”

“You talking to my prick again?”

“Yeah.” He loves how the head peeks out of its foreskin and then ducks back in with every stroke. “Look at him, he’s shy. Adorable.”

“Are you this strange all the time and just don’t let on, or is it the alcohol?”

Ray waits to answer—waits—waits—

Bodie’s eyes roll back in his head and his jaw drops.

“A lady never tells.”

Bodie’s too caught up to answer, so Ray gets the last word. Ha! “Kindness is more important than winning,” he tells Bodie’s cock. “But I haven’t actually reached nirvana yet.”

When Bodie’s as hard as he gets, Ray snaps the cock ring on—not a real snap, as tempting as it is. Just enough to make Bodie growl and lunge at him, pinning Ray to the bed for a thrilling second before flopping back down, hard-on wobbling like a nine-pin. Bodie laces his slick hands together to make a gun, and cocks it with a click of his tongue.

Ray shakes his head. “You never will take gun safety seriously. Don’t point it at people you’re not planning to shoot, that’s rule one.”

Bodie keeps Ray covered, waving him back towards Bodie’s lap. “I am planning to shoot you with this.”

Laughing, Ray straddles Bodie’s hips again, staying upright so Bodie can reach between his legs. In go the index fingers. Bodie hooks his thumbs around his own shaft to aim it, hands hinging open a bit. His knuckles settle in a neat row between Ray’s cheeks. Mm, feels nice.

“I know that look,” Bodie warns him. “No sudden movements. You’ll scratch yourself up.”

“All right, all right.” Ray shifts onto hands and knees for balance.

“I’m going to guide you down just a couple of inches. If we manage it, you’ll stay put after that. Got it?”

“Yessir. Whatever you say, sir.”

The corner of Bodie’s mouth curls. “Good lad. All right, here goes nothing.” He keeps his knuckles snug against Ray’s cleft, setting the pace.

Ray shuts his eyes and sinks slowly, trying not to moan too loud as Bodie’s cock nudges against the opening his fingers are making. Bodie fit so beautifully a minute ago, but now…

“Relax and let me in, babe. I won’t hurt you.”

“Sorry. Just excited.” He does his best to unclench—and gasps when the head of Bodie’s cock lodges in his opening. It’s not as intense as being fisted, but it’s a stretch.

That’s what Ray loves, though: the burst of adrenaline. The not-quite-panic. Thinking My body can’t do this, and then seeing that it can. It could all along.

“That’s it, starshine. Breathe. We’ve got all night—no, shut up, don’t tell me about my circulation again. It’s been ninety seconds.” Bodie just barely pumps his hips. Nothing Ray would even feel, if things weren’t so tight. Just enough to keep him from losing focus and locking up.

“I just need you to let me in,” Bodie says. “I’ve got the rest. I’ve got you.”

Ray breathes and pushes, and Bodie slips in another inch or so. That’s definitely as far as he’s getting tonight. Wow. Oh, wow. Ray arches his back a little. Shifts slightly. Seeing if the sensation will ease. It doesn’t.

“I love you,” Bodie tells him. “I love you so much, baby.”

Muscles loosen that Ray forgot he had.

It doesn’t get any easier, really, but Ray didn’t want it to. He just wants to accept it. Shape himself to it. Become water, flowing around Bodie’s stone.

He’s past words, finally: full heart, full arse, empty brain. But he knows, even with his eyes shut, that Bodie felt his answer. He hears Bodie’s shuddering breath.

“I love you,” Bodie repeats, voice thick.

Ray nods, panting. He’s suspended, trembling, above Bodie.

Slowly, Bodie moves his hips. Maybe an inch either way, in the channel of his own fingers. The friction is agonizing. Ray tries not to reach for orgasm, not to reach for anything. No need, he reminds himself. Bodie’s got him.

“You never let anything be easy,” Bodie says. “I think you want it overwhelming.”

Ray shrugs slightly. “You.”

“Me what?”

Ray tries to think. His brain’s not picking up the phone. Good, his body tells him dopily. So good. You feel that? It’s good, right?

“’S okay,” Bodie says. “Tell me later.”

It’s good. And then all at once, it’s too good. Much, much too good.

Ray wants to move, and he knows he’s not supposed to. But he needs to shake out the jitters. He needs to rip himself open like a packet of crisps and offer Bodie a taste. The happy balloon from before is swelling, blocking his throat. “Stop.”

Bodie stops.

“I can’t be still any more.”

Bodie’s breath whistles out. “Sure thing, baby. Ease off.” He nudges with his knuckles, steady and slow. Ray tries, but Bodie’s stuck. They’re stuck.

“Hey, hey, calm down,” Bodie says from far away. “Everything’s fine.” He tries wiggling his fingers a bit to work his way out.

It makes it worse. Ray might come out of his skin. He can hear himself cursing a blue streak.

“Doyle,” Bodie says gently. “You’re locking up. Look at me.”

Bad idea. He tried not to look at Bodie the whole way here so he wouldn’t do something rash.

With a shock, he feels Bodie’s patience snap. “Open your eyes, Ray,” Bodie raps out. “Now.”

Shouldn’t. But CI-5 agents don’t argue about the chain of command. Ray opens his eyes.

Oh. That is better. It’s just Bodie and a bed. That always works out for Ray. He can feel the corner of his mouth turning up. “Hey.”

“See? Nothing to worry about. I promised I wouldn’t hurt you, and I won’t.”

“Yeah. Sorry.”

“Breathe in for a four count, all right? 1…2…3…4.”

Yeah, that’s a lot better. Oops.

Bodie laughs breathlessly. “You’re too goddamn much. Push.” Ray does, and Bodie pulls out.

There’s a last spark of panic as the head of Bodie’s cock bumps past the ring of muscle. Then it’s just a couple of fingers, and then nothing. Ray’s lungs fill.

He collapses onto Bodie’s chest, flailing about a bit. Then he doesn’t feel so itchy. Relief and exhilaration are a sweet cool shock. He giggles into Bodie’s neck. “Sorry.”

Bodie rubs his back. His hands are wonderful. “See, Oliver Twist? Your eyes were bigger than your stomach.”

“No way.” That was probably reckless and poor Bodie sounds like it almost gave him a heart attack, but Ray feels amazing. Like stars splashed across the sky. The Milky Way in champagne fizz.

“I want to put my hands in your hair, but I really really shouldn’t.”

He kisses Bodie’s neck. “Thanks, babe. You’re a miracle. Sorry I made you nervous.”

“Don’t thank me. I took it too far. You’re drunk. I should have—”

Ray shakes his head. “Loved it. Love you.”

“I don’t think I should fuck you.”

“You definitely should. Just give me a minute or two.” He kisses down Bodie’s collarbone. “Why do you wear so many layers all the time? It’s inconsiderate.”

“No, I’m calling it.” Bodie slips the cock ring off. “Sorry, buttercup.”

“Hey,” Ray protests. “Cock in!”

“Told you there were no guarantees.”

Honestly, after that first flash of indignation, Ray’s not that fussed. He already feels floaty and sated. “I want my money back,” he says anyway.

“You can explain it to the nice lady at the desk in the morning, I’m sure she’ll be very sympathetic.”

“I’m sure she will.”


“I said,” Ray says loudly, “that you flirted shamelessly with that young woman.”

“I flirt shamelessly with a lot of people.”

“And you’re not even ashamed.”

“Only put my cock in you, though.”

Ray doesn’t dignify that with a response.

“Don’t pout.” Bodie pokes him. “And don’t build a time machine to sabotage all my relationships so you can be my first and only. You’d probably end up losing us the Cold War or something.”

“But would it be worth it?” Ray snickers, letting Bodie roll him onto his stomach and prop his hips up with a pillow. He’s not sure where this is going, but whatever. He rests his head on his folded arms and shuts his eyes.

“Don’t fall asleep, either.”

Ray shrugs. “I dunno, might be sexy.”

Bodie covers Ray with his weight, brushing his hair aside to mouth the nape of his neck. Ray isn’t actually in any danger of falling asleep. In this position Bodie’s cock is quite near his arsehole. He squirms pleadingly.

“Yes, I know, Doyle, I want it too. We’ll see how you feel in the morning.”

“What about how I feel now?” He arches his back. Just begging for the fun of it, really. Bodie’s got him pinned to the bed, hips raised for easy access, and it makes Ray want to act a bit of a tart. But he loves Bodie being careful with him. He loves the way Bodie puts a hand on his back as if Ray’s never climbed a flight of stairs before. It’s probably regressive and Ray gets why some women hate it, but he can’t help it, it makes him feel like Cinderella at the ball.

Bodie kisses down his back, rubs his shoulders, sweeps his hands over Ray’s skin. Ray can feel himself floating in warmth. Like a brain in a vat, he thinks, laughing to himself. “I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so safe,” he tells Bodie.

Bodie’s hands falter.

If Ray keeps his trap shut, Bodie will almost certainly be Frenching his arsehole in the next two minutes. Sadly, some things are more important than getting laid. “Don’t argue with me,” he says. “I know how I feel.”

He can hear Bodie wanting to argue. Wanting to say Ray’s drunk, that something nicer must have just slipped his mind.

Wanting to warn Ray that he’s dangerous, probably. Untrustworthy. Like Ray doesn’t know Bodie’s dangerous and untrustworthy. Like Ray gives a flying fuck about that.

He doesn’t know how to explain. “I trust you to hurt me,” he tries. It sounds all wrong. It sounds bad. “I trust you not to hurt me more than we can handle.” Still wrong. Maybe he means that even if one of these days Bodie hurts him more than he can handle, it’ll have been worth it. Ray should decide whether to say that when he’s sober. “I’m sorry. I don’t know how to say it. I don’t need you never to hurt me. You can’t love somebody and not hurt them. I just…” He sighs. “I believe in us.”

“You’ve never won a gamble in your life.”

“Won this one. I put everything I had on the table, and you called my bet.”

Bodie presses a kiss to Ray’s tailbone. “I’ve never felt so safe either,” he admits. “But I still don’t feel that safe.”

“I know, babe. I’m sorry. Wish I could give you that.”

“I don’t know why…” Bodie says in frustration. Like it’s his fault he doesn’t feel safe. Like he’s got no good reason. Like he’s letting Ray down by carrying his own memories with him.

Like he really thinks Ray would rather time-travel back to get him before he’d ever done anything or seen anything or felt anything.

You didn’t invent war, Ray wants to tell him, but it’d sound weird. “Don’t feel bad,” he tries. “It’s okay.”

“It’s not,” Bodie insists. “You deserve…”

“What the hell, Bodie? Do you hear yourself? You deserve to feel safe. You. It’s got nothing to do with me.” Wait, does it? “Unless I’m doing something to scare you.”

Bodie doesn’t answer.

Every time I wear my heart on my sleeve, he told Ray, somebody uses it for target practice.

Of course Ray’s doing something to scare him. Love is bloody terrifying. That’s what makes it such a rush. You stretch yourself open to let the other person in, and you think I can’t do it, I can’t, it’s too much, and then somehow you’re out the other side still breathing.

“Bodie. Listen to me.” He tries to roll over, but he’d have to push Bodie away to get the leverage, and he doesn’t want to. “Fuck, I’m too soused and aroused for this conversation. But listen to what I’m telling you. I don’t need you to be perfect, all right? I just need you to be you. And you are. Every day in the week.”

Bodie wraps his arms around Ray’s hips and presses his face into Ray’s back, right where he put his hand when they came up the stairs. Bodie’s shaking. Maybe he’s crying. Maybe—

“You having a panic attack?”

Bodie rolls his face from side to side, no.

“You sure?” Ray gets a hand flat on the bed, ready to be firm about rolling over. “Say something.”

“I’m not having a panic attack,” Bodie snaps. “You just made me cry. God, I hate you. I’m never touching the demon drink again.”

That’s all right, then. “You remember what you told me that first night? You said you were a good lay, but everything else I hadn’t seen yet was pretty rubbish.”

Bodie nods, sniffling.

“You lied to me on both counts. You’re a fantastic lay, and you’ve got a beautiful soul.”

“Now you’re just being difficult.” Bodie smears his nose across Ray’s back. “Shut the hell up.”

“Can’t make me. Not unless you shove something in my mouth, anyway. Come on, let me turn round.”

Bodie squeezes him tighter.

“See?” Ray says. “You’re inhibited.”

“Do you ever get tired of saying ‘I told you so’?”

“If you mean, do I get tired of being right about everything, the answer’s no.”

“Pretty sure that’s not what I meant.”

“Pretty sure it is. But you being such a misguided twat doesn’t hurt. I look extra”—crap, what’s the word?—“sagelike by contrast.” That’s not it. Oh well.

“Yeah, you’re a wise old owl. Careful I don’t twist your head all the way round.”

“I’d make a cute owl though, wouldn’t I? Just wait till I get reading glasses, you won’t know what hit you.”

“I never know what hit me,” Bodie mutters. He takes a deep breath. “I’m going to wash my face. No peeking.”

“I dunno what you think’ll happen if I see you with some snot and saltwater on your face. Take a risk. Live a little.”

Bodie kisses his buttock. “Maybe next time. No peeking. You knew I was a coward when you asked me to move in with you.”

Ray buries his face in his arms. “No peeking then. Cross my heart and hope to die.”

Water runs in the bathroom. It shuts off, but Bodie doesn’t reappear.

Ray’s sitting up, wondering if it’s time to go and knock, when it opens. Bodie’s eyes are a bit red. He obviously doesn’t want Ray to say anything about it, so Ray doesn’t.

Then Ray’s eyes narrow. He assumed after all that, Bodie’d be drooping a bit, but he isn’t. “Tell me you weren’t in there jerking off so I don’t think you’re past your prime. You’re pathological—”

Bodie crosses his arms defensively. “I wasn’t! I mean, I did wash up a bit, but that’s all.”

“You’re telling me crying didn’t…” Ray illustrates with a finger.

“On the contrary. But don’t get any ideas about this being a turn-on or something, because it’s not. Guess I’m just still in my prime.” He saunters back to the bed.

Ray laughs, delighted. “See? Letting it all hang out is good for your libido! Gets your energy flowing in the right channels again.”

“My libido’s just fine, thanks. Why do people keep telling me that?”

“Come here.” Ray reaches for him. “Let me align your qi.”

Bodie rolls his eyes, but he doesn’t object to the handjob.

Ray drops the question in casually. “So who else is talking to you about your libido?”

“Oh God, don’t start. It was before your time.”

“It better have been.” Ray inchworms down the bed. “If I find you’ve been talking to strangers, young man,” he admonishes Bodie’s cock, “I’ll make you sorry.”

Bodie stretches and folds his arms behind his head. “Your conviction that everybody’s trying to steal me out from under you would be a real boost for my ego if it had any basis in fact.”

“Hmph. So you’re just settling for me because no one else offered, is that it?”

“You’re impossible!”

Ray hides a smile, narrowing his eyes at Bodie’s cock. It gazes unrepentantly back. “Run around on me and it’ll be the end of this, that’s for certain.” He sucks it down. Liquor does wonders for his gag reflex.

“Oh, God,” Bodie says feelingly. After that he just pants and heaves and claws at the sheets. A couple of times, he tries to prop himself up on his elbows to watch, and both times he curses and falls back onto the mattress. It’s an ego boost, all right. Ray could have gone pro if he’d wanted to, probably. Or else Bodie’s biased. A win either way. In no time, Ray’s swallowing and sitting up.

Bodie stays where he is, looking wrung out. His eyes glitter in the dim light as he drags the back of his hand across his red wet mouth. “You’re obscene,” he says raggedly.

“Ta, mate.” Ray cracks his neck. Got a bit of a crick.

“Obscene!” Bodie lurches up to drag Ray down with him. “Can I?” He traces up Ray’s prick with his finger.

“Honestly, we could just go to bed. I already feel great about the evening.”

“There’s something wrong with you.”

“Didn’t I tell you? I’ve reached nirvana.”

“Well, I haven’t.”

“Knock yourself out, then.”

It’s not like Ray minds lying in the comfy bed getting a leisurely wank, Bodie draped over his side with his head on Ray’s shoulder. Snuggling turned up to eleven. And Ray will enjoy the orgasm when it happens, even if he’s not craving it at the moment.

As he sobers up, he remembers something he meant to say earlier. “You want it to be overwhelming too.”

“No I don’t. Still can’t believe you made me cry. Wanker.”

“Nah, I mean overwhelming for me. What was that from before about me sobbing with pleasure?”

“Huh. All right, Mr. Owl, you got me.”

Ray lets his hand wander over Bodie’s shoulder blades. They’re nice.

“It’s a good thing you don’t know how much you turn me on,” Bodie says. “You’d take advantage.”

“I do take advantage.”

Bodie scoffs.

Ray sighs. “I shouldn’t tell you this. Showing my hand. But if you knew how often I’ve won an argument just by leaning on your car—”

“Have not!”

“Don’t blame yourself. You’re susceptible, and I’m unscrupulous.”

“I’m tossing your word-of-the-day calendar in the bin.”

Ray is starting to look forward to the orgasm now. “Wish you’d fucked me,” he teases.

“Anyone listening to you would think tonight was your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity instead of Friday as usual,” Bodie says. “And that I hadn’t already fucked you for forty minutes. You’re insatiable.”

Ray is sure that’s an absurdly inflated figure, but he wasn’t watching the clock so it’s pointless to argue. He shrugs. “You’ve got a nice cock.”

“Too kind.”

Oh yeah. Here it is. Ray shuts his eyes and lets pleasure rush over him in a hot wave.

“Jesus,” Bodie says. “Obscene.”

Ray smiles at him. Stars in his eyes, probably. “Next time we’re having an argument, and I lean on your car and bite my lip, I want you to think of this moment.” He bites his lip to demonstrate.

“Hey!” Bodie shoves him. “You never fight fair.”

“Lucky for you I don’t, or where would you be? Not here.”

“Maybe I’d be with someone who makes decent muffins.”

“And instead you’re with someone who gives a damn about your health. Thanks for making my point for me.”

Bodie shoves him again. “Go on then, wash yourself up.”

Ray burrows deeper into the sheets. “Thought I might just shower in the morning.”

“Raymond Doyle, I will kick you right off this bed.”

Ray sighs and rolls to his feet. “I did this to myself,” he says regretfully, waiting for the head-rush to pass. “Every step of the way.”

“You reap what you sow,” Bodie agrees. “Or maybe I should say ‘what you sow,’ since you’re such a pig.”

“Shouldn’t call cops pigs. Sets a bad example.”

“You know what I meant.”

“No, what’d you mean?” Ray shuts the bathroom door before Bodie can answer. That always sends the poor lad round the bend.

“You’re impossible,” Bodie calls.

“Shush!” Ray hollers back. “People are trying to sleep!”

“You’re more trouble than you’re worth,” Bodie says severely when Ray reemerges, clean as a whistle and ready for bed.

Ray laughs. He could make Bodie take it back—all he’d have to do is say Oh, am I? with a bit of an edge, and wait—but why bother? They both know how Bodie really feels.

Sometimes Ray worries anyway. But tonight, he’s sure. “I’m a right terror,” he agrees, climbing into bed. “People don’t know the heavy cross you bear.” He steals the blanket and rolls onto his side, pinning it under himself so that when Bodie yanks it back—ha, physics!—Ray tumbles right into the crook of his arm.

“Get your hair out of my face,” Bodie says as if he hasn’t already put his hand in said hair.

“In a minute.”

“Sorry I didn’t fuck you as much as you wanted.”

Ray kisses his shoulder. “It was my own fault. Just like this relationship.”

Bodie hauls Ray up and dumps him across his chest. “Why are you such a brat?”

“Same reason you are, I think it’s funny and I want you to pay attention to me.”

Bodie smiles. “Tell me you love me.”

“I love you.”

“Hmm. Dunno if I believe you.” Mostly a joke. A bit not, probably.

Ray kisses him. “A fact’s a fact. Doesn’t need you to believe in it. One of these days you’ll have to face the truth, and then I’ll say I told you so.”

“Told me what?”

“That I love you.”

Bodie’s smile widens. “Oh yeah. Guess you did say that.”

“Some things you have to learn the hard way.” Ray sighs. “Wish I’d learned a few more things the—”

Bodie pulls him in for one last kiss, and shoves him to his side of the bed. “Go to sleep and quit your moaning.”

“I have quit moaning, that’s the trouble.”

Bodie rolls away. Careful not to take more than his share of the blanket with him. He’s not so careful when he’s asleep, though. Good thing Ray runs hot.

He smiles at Bodie’s back. “Thanks for putting up with me.”

“I’ve crashed out in worse places.”

“Yeah, so’ve I.”

“Like what?”

“Anywhere else, really.”

Bodie freezes for a second before relaxing back into his pillow. “I’m on to you, you know.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re trying to make me cry again. You won’t, so don’t bother.”

Ray stretches out on his back and pulls the blanket to his chin. Mmm. Everything’s perfect. “I’ve got you in the palm of my hand.”

Bodie snickers. “Not anymore.”

Shows what he knows.