Title: The Poetry of Magic
Author: Elfin
Fandom:  Jonathan Creek
Pairing: Jonathan/Adam
Rating: NC17, m/m.
Status: Pt1 of ?

Email: elfin@burble.com 
Web Page: http://www.burble.com/elfin/ 

"Jonathan Creek" characters beloved creations of David Renwick.

Reference to Carrefour taken from "Prise Du Mort II: Chthonic Principle" by Sheena, available from the Gossamer Project Archives.

Voodoo background from "Voodoo Rules" by Rob Wolff.

With eternal thanks to Pfyre for her continuous help and encouragement….

This is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever written…. If you’re anything to do with the ‘Jonathan Creek’ BBC TV series, please turn back now!


The Poetry of Magic, Part I

 

by elfin

 

‘Klaus loves Jonathan and he’d be lost without him. They really feed off each other and they are totally fond of each other and share the same feelings of triumph about the work they do.’ - Stuart Milligan from "The World of Jonathan Creek".

 

The evening had actually started with lunch around one at The Vault, situated at the bottom of Leicester Square. After that they’d moved to The Moon Under Water, the Wetherspoons pub half-way up the square then on to the Zoo Bar for cocktails through Happy Hour. Somewhere between the pub and the cocktail bar most of the gang dispersed, but Adam and Jonathan had been doing this annually for more years than either of them could remember and for them the night was still young.

From the Zoo bar it was out into Soho. A strange Australian theme pub followed by a couple of hours in Adam’s favourite strip joint. Usually at this point they would pick up two women, both of who would spend the rest of the night with them and both of who would invariably end up in bed with Adam. But tonight, for whatever reason, they left the strip club alone.

Next stop was a fantastic Japanese restaurant that Adam sprang for, where they sat eating their way through a large and varied selection from the menu and several bottles of the restaurant’s best champagne. On from there to an all-night jazz club where they sat at the bar and raced one another down lines of tequila shots and flavoured vodkas.

It was five thirty when Adam called his chauffeur and they were whisked off to his luxury suburb mansion, ‘Maskelyne Manor’, in total comfort with a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon to end a perfect night. As the sun rose outside the thick curtains, Adam and Jonathan collapsed together onto the large, deep sofa in the extravagant lounge.

Closing his eyes, Adam leaned back into the white velour, head dropping against the corner of the sofa. He was sure that if he thought hard enough, he might just be able to remember who he was. Jonathan came to rest against him, his eyes also closing against the dim light in the room. Shifting to get himself comfortable, he lifted Adam’s arm out of the way and draped it over his own shoulder in a gesture of trust and sheer alcoholic daze.

"That clock’s too loud," Adam muttered.

Jonathan couldn’t remember noting the small Grandfather clock before. But he had to agree. "When did you get that?"

"What?"

"The clock."

"What clock?"

But already Jonathan’s mind had discarded that conversation, indeed it was starting to discard the rest of the world. He felt Adam’s other arm come around him and sighed.

"S’me, Adam," he warned gently. But the American was already asleep, and within minutes, Jonathan was out of it too.


Despite a headache that threatened to split his brain in half at any minute, Adam’s mind instantly conceived a devilish plan the moment he walked into the auditorium and spotted his consultant lying on his back at the edge of the stage. Utilising the familiar props of one silk handkerchief and one glass of day-old water, Adam held the dripping cloth over Jonathan’s face.

Jonathan lifted his head and hands at the same time, swatting at the source of the water while reaching to steady his pounding head. He dropped back to the stage gently, screwing his eyes closed.

"You’re a bastard, Adam, if I haven’t told you recently."

Throwing the hanky across the stage, lifting himself to sit next to Jonathan’s head, he lay back, legs dangling. "You left rather abruptly this morning."

"I wasn’t sure what you’d do if you woke up with me next to you. You might have tried to kiss me or something." Adam’s reply was in all his expression, which Jonathan missed completely. "What were we drinking last night?"

"Anything and everything."

"We’re getting too old for these binges."

"Nonsense."

When he next opened his eyes, Adam was staring up the very short skirt of one of his assistants.

"Gayle."

"Adam." She lifted her foot from her shoe, stroking her toes along the column of his neck, teasing with every movement.

He smiled contentedly, reaching for her, kissing the base of her foot. "Good morning, you vision of beauty."

Next to him, Jonathan sighed quietly as she greeted him in a less personal way. Once, just once.... Or perhaps not. He wasn’t sure how he’d cope with women throwing themselves at him like they did at Adam.

Jonathan turned over, supporting himself on his elbows. He watched Gayle saunter out towards the dressing rooms. "How do you cope with it?" he asked sarcastically.

Adam smiled, lifting his head. "A lot better than you do."

"What do you mean by that?"

He dropped his head back to the stage. "You really don’t see it, do you? As many women show an interest in you as they do in me, you just don’t realise it."

"Oh, please!"

"It’s true." He turned himself around, lying on his stomach, crossing his arms and resting his aching head. "Prime example last night, that barmaid in the Zoo Bar. She was all over you and you did nothing about it."

Jonathan frowned, having difficulty remembering even a snippet of the time they’d spent in the Leicester Square cocktail bar. "Adam... I’m not looking for casual sex, believe it or not."

"Surely any sex would do."

Jonathan frowned at him. "Don’t push it."

"When was the last time?"

"Adam!"

Both men were saved from any further discussion when they were blinded by the stage manager switching on every stage and house light.

"Technical in ten, people!"


Jonathan swore he’d seen this routine more often than he’d seen Adam with a different girl on his arm. The Water Tank illusion was among the oldest of all the big stage illusions and also among the most risky. During each and every rehearsal they ran through this one trick simply to keep in practice, to make sure it always ran smoothly.

And so it was, that night that Jonathan was standing at the side of the stage watching the routine yet again and running it along in his mind at the same time. Four assistants tied the knots in the ropes around Adam’s ankles and wrists and two members of the audience checked they were real. Four strong-arm men lifted Adam and dropped him carefully into the tank. A couple of minutes of thrashing around for good measure and then he went still for the mirror and dummy to drop into place.... Only tonight he didn’t go still….

Another five seconds passed. And then Jonathan grabbed the fire axe kept just to the side of the stage curtains and ran on, swinging the axe in a short arc that brought the sharp, heavy blade down hard against the front wall of the tank. The glass shattered, thick shards mixing with water as the cold liquid cascaded out of the tank. The worst the front row of the audience got was wet feet – the tank had been placed and designed so that in this eventuality it could be smashed open without threat to anyone.

Anyone, that was, except the man inside, and the one who broke the glass in the first place.

Jonathan knelt in the deadly puddle on the stage, tearing the hood and blindfold from Adam’s head. On the other side of the now-still form, one of the St. John’s ambulance crew, David, was also kneeling, and Jonathan heard the words, ‘he’s not breathing’. Working completely on instinct and drawing on skills learnt years ago, he tipped Adam’s head back, stuck two fingers into his throat to clear any obstructions, pinched the nose and covered the magician’s mouth with his own, breathing out one long deep breath. Pulling back, he counted.

"one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, four one thousand, five one thousand." And gave his friend another breath while David kept a check on Adam’s pulse.

Five breaths, and a million years later, Adam coughed violently, bringing up water from his lungs and stomach. Immediately Jonathan rolled him onto his side, calming Adam until the coughing fit subsided and he slipped into unconsciousness. Only then did Jonathan get to work quickly and skilfully to unfasten the remaining restraints that bound the magician’s wrists and feet.

"All right, Adam," Jonathan stroked his hand over his employer’s wet hair, attempting to reassure. "All right, it’s all right." David ensured an ambulance was on its way, while Jonathan checked Adam’s breathing, making sure he didn’t stop once again. "Adam, can you open your eyes for me?" He found his friend’s hand and lifted it, holding it in his own, checking breathing and pulse again. "Come on, Adam, stay with us."

By now the shocked silence that had fallen over the audience had subsided into chattering; concern and fear for the performer’s life. Two security men stood up on stage, the spotlights picking them out as they asked for everyone to remain calm and reassured them that Adam Klaus was going to be okay.

Jonathan was oblivious to it all. He was keeping up a constant banter now, talking to Adam, asking him over and over to open his eyes, if he could talk to him, tell him where he was. But there was no response. As well as the string of nonsense that he was speaking, Jonathan continued to check breathing and pulse rate until the ambulance turned up. Time seemed to crawl by. Later, someone would promise him that the emergency services took only minutes to reach the theatre. Yet as Jonathan knelt in the glass and water on the stage, it felt as if years were passing. Adam’s hand was cold in his own and his failure to respond was scaring Jonathan badly.

"Come on, Adam. You don’t want to go all quiet before your audience, do you?" He forced some small amount of humour into his voice, but Adam remained deathly still were he lay. "You’ll certainly make the front pages of the papers with this one, Adam. Press coverage’ll be amazing!"

When an ambulance man crouched beside him, gently pulling him back, he wasn’t sure what to feel; relief, or fear that once Adam left his sight he’d never see him again....

"Jonathan, isn’t it?" He was helped up, realizing only then how badly he was shaking and how much his knees and hands hurt. Looking down in confusion he swayed dangerously at the sight of his own blood soaking through his jeans. "Come on, Jonathan." He was led carefully out toward the same ambulance that they were wheeling Adam’s gurney toward. "He’s going to be fine, thanks to you." Jonathan barely heard the reassurances now being offered to him. He was feeling hot, and slightly dizzy. Luckily, the ambulance man was ready for it when he fainted.

Jonathan came to in a swiftly moving ambulance, sirens blaring as it cut through the city traffic out towards the Royal Hospital. He struggled to sit up, eyes looking over the still form on the other bed.

"Adam...."

One of the ambulance crew sat down next to Jonathan, stilling him with a gentle hand on his arm.

"Your friend’s going to be fine. You saved his life back there."

"He won’t wake up...."

"Just the body’s way of dealing with a shock like this. We’re keeping him warm, keeping him monitored. Once we get to hospital he’ll be checked over and made comfortable. They may need to drain any remaining liquid from his lungs, but he should make a quick and full recovery." Jonathan tried to relax, slowly starting to accept that Adam wasn’t going to die. "You have some fairly serious cuts in your knees and hands which they’ll treat in A&E." He nodded, eyes never leaving Adam’s unmoving figure. An oxygen mask covered the face and two heavy blankets had been wrapped around his body from which they’d removed his wet clothing to help prevent hypothermia. A steady bleeping came from a monitor attached to his chest. But it was steady, and from what Jonathan knew it was a strong heartbeat.

From the moment they arrived at the hospital Jonathan was caught up in a series of seemingly chaotic events. The nurse who led him to a bed in A&E and pulled the curtains around them had been told of what had happened at the theatre by the ambulance crew. So that when she returned to Jonathan to find him sitting on the bed with tears streaming down his face, she at least understood where they’d come from.

For a short time she just sat with him and held his hand. He tried to apologise once he’d quieted but she wouldn’t hear it.

"Don’t be silly. After what you’ve been through tonight? If you hadn’t have acted so quickly, your friend might not be alive now. You’re in shock, that’s all."

She cleaned up his hands; picked the small shards of glass from his fingers and palms and dressed them. He needed three stitches in his right knee where a larger shard had embedded itself, and a couple of butterfly stitches in his left.

They’d already moved Adam to a semi-private room by the time she’d finished with Jonathan, and on her recommendation they put her patient in the second bed overnight. Jonathan eventually fell asleep, with the aid of a gentle sedative, to the soft rhythms of the monitors keeping check on Adam.


‘MAGICIAN SAVED FROM WATERY GRAVE

There was drama at the Price of Wales theatre last night when a trick went almost tragically wrong for illusionist Adam Klaus.

After being bound, and a hood placed over his head, Klaus was dropped into a tank of freezing cold water from which he was supposed to miraculously escape. Instead, he had to be rescued by his creative consultant, Jonathan Creek, who ran onto the stage with a fire axe and smashed open the glass tank when he realized something was wrong.

The audience – none of whom were hurt in the accident – watched in shocked silence as Creek went on to give Klaus mouth-to-mouth until the arrival of the ambulance crew. Both men were rushed to the Royal Hospital and kept in over night. Jonathan Creek should be released this morning, and Adam Klaus is said to be well on his way to making a complete recovery.

Audience figures will undoubtedly skyrocket when the show reopens.’

 

Maddy threw the paper onto the passenger seat before opening the boot of her Volvo and dropping her bags inside.

"You go away for two weeks...." she muttered as she started the car engine.


Jonathan felt an almost overwhelming relief when Adam opened his eyes around midday the following morning. He himself had been discharged earlier on, and he’d spent the last few hours sitting by Adam’s bedside, holding his hand and waiting for some sign that everything would indeed be all right.

Now, finally, Adam was looking at him in measured confusion.

"Hi."

"Jon...." He swallowed painfully.

"Take it easy. You’re in hospital, but they say you’re going to be fine."

"What...?"

"The Water Tank. Do you remember? You were supposed to escape." Reflex tightened Jonathan’s fingers around Adam’s hand for a moment. "You didn’t. I had to smash our tank open to get you out."

After a few seconds, Adam nodded carefully before closing his eyes again.

When the door opened behind him Jonathan turned, expecting to be able to report to one of the nurses that Adam had regained consciousness at least. He could hardly believe how relieved he was to see Maddy standing in the doorway.

"Hey you." She closed the door behind her and stepped up to him, rubbing his shoulder gently. "Playing detective not good enough for you now?" Standing behind where he was sitting, she wrapped her arms around him, placing a kiss on his head. "You’re a hero."

He shrugged, touching her arm with his fingers, almost unconsciously maintaining his hold on Adam’s hand. "I just did it. I took a first aid course ages ago...."

She released him and pulled up another chair. Keeping her voice low, she said, "The papers said they rushed you both here."

Jonathan showed her his free hand, the dressings on the palm and fingers. "Both hands, and stitches in both knees, where I knelt in the glass on the stage. I didn’t even notice it."

"And him?"

"They’re keeping him under observation. He stopped breathing for a couple of minutes, had water in his lungs. They want to make sure there are no side-effects."

Maddy shook her head, still trying to calm herself. When she’d read that they’d both been taken to hospital she’d thought the worst. Now she was here with them, she could finally allow herself to believe that they were going to be okay. "Is there anything you need?"

"Well... yeah." He hesitated, but she coaxed it out of him. "I could do with a lift out to my place so I can change, and back in. I...."

"You want to stay close by." He nodded sheepishly. "My bed’s yours as long as you want it. Come on, I’ll run you home."

Jonathan stood, squeezing Adam’s hand before finally letting go. As they stepped out into the corridor and she saw the blood stains on his trousers, he suddenly stopped her. "I’m sorry… how was New York?"


Jonathan stepped back inside Adam’s room several hours later, washed and changed, feeling slightly more human than he had since waking in the hospital bed at six-thirty that morning. Adam was sitting up, looking a lot healthier than he had only hours before. The monitors had been switched off, although the saline drip was still in place. There was a doctor at his side, a large collection of "Get Well Soon" cards already starting on the window sill and bedside cabinet, and a huge bunch of red and white roses in one corner.

As Jonathan approached the bed, Maddy read the card still sitting in amongst the flowers.

‘Jonathan. You were amazing. My best wishes for a swift recovery, with love and thanks, Kitty’

She plucked it out with her fingers and turned to the others.

Jonathan stepped up to the bedside, smiling joyfully. "You’re awake...."

"Thanks to you." Adam reached out, snagging Jonathan’s fingers with his own, avoiding touching his bandaged palm. "They’re saying you saved my life. You smashed the glass?"

Jonathan nodded, turning his hand in Adam’s to return the gesture. "We’ll need a new tank. Sorry about that...."

Adam held tighter, showing more understanding of his colleague’s feelings than he knew he ever had in the past. "Thank you for saving my life, Jonathan." He spoke pointedly.

 

Jonathan perched on the edge of the bed, watching the doctor check the drip and leave the room quietly. "Do you remember what went wrong?"

Adam shook his head. "I keep trying to remember. The last thing I was aware of was being dropped into the water."

"You didn’t pull the switch with the mirror. That’s how I knew something was wrong."

The silence that hung between them was one that Maddy couldn’t cope with for too long. She handed the card that she’d found in the flowers to Jonathan. "From Aunt Kitty, for you." He read it vaguely, aware of nothing more than Adam’s remaining hold on his fingers. He blushed slightly, almost relieved when one of the nurses came in and ordered them to leave her patient to rest.

"I’ll come back later." For some reason, Jonathan felt he should reassure Adam that he wouldn’t abandon him here, he knew how much the man hated hospitals. At least this time it had been serious enough that the jokes hadn’t started yet.


Two Weeks Later

 

Once again they aborted the rehearsal, and Adam stormed from the stage.

Jonathan let out a deep, controlled breath as he meet the concerned gaze of the two assistants and their technical manager.

"He’ll be all right," he tried to assure them. But Geoff wasn’t convinced.

"Why does he keep trying it? Why not just let it go, we’ve plenty of other material...."

"It’s that thing of getting straight back on the horse, isn’t it?" Jonathan sounded weary even to his own ears. "Look, let’s leave it for today. Everyone go home, relax. I’ll talk to him."

Easier said than done. They’d tried the Water Tank five times today, with Adam panicking and stopping them each time, just before he was placed in the water. Thus Adam wasn’t in the mood for a conversation. Jonathan closed the dressing room door and leaned back on it, eyes settling on his friend where he sat staring into the mirror.

"Don’t say anything," he was warned. But Jonathan had never been one for learning when to keep his opinions to himself and when not to.

"Why don’t we drop it from the show?"

Jonathan closed his eyes in order not to witness the destruction caused by Adam’s chair careering into the cabinet against the far wall.

"Drop it? And why should we want to do that?"

He sighed. "You have every right to be scared."

"Scared?" Adam laughed, coming to stand inches from Jonathan. "Of what? A trick I’ve performed a hundred times? What’s there to be scared of?"

"Adam...." But he was off, turning and striding to the middle of the room before he stopped. Jonathan watched the broad shoulders as they shook.

There was anger and fear in the voice that continued. "I have no choice. If I don’t do that trick now, I may never do it again. You weren’t in there." He spun around, eyes blazing. "You don’t wake up every night in a cold sweat because every breath you take is liquid fire! Every dream is a nightmare where I’m drowning."

For a moment, all Jonathan could do was stare at him. And then the banks burst.

"And what do you think’s been haunting my thoughts, Adam? All I can see when I close my eyes is you lying on that stage with water and glass everywhere. All I can hear is that First Aid guy say ‘he’s not breathing’ and I can barely hear that over my own heartbeat! I’ve dreamt every variation going! That you didn’t start breathing again, that you died, there on the stage, trussed up for a trick that I thought up." He pushed away from the door. "I’ve seen a drowned man, Adam. I wake up with your blue face staring back at me in the darkness. You weren’t breathing! Do you know what that means? I could have killed you. If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t have been in that tank!"

"Jonathan...."

"Don’t." He turned, opening the door and absurdly mumbling an apology before leaving. He didn’t stop running until he was out on the pavement faced with the stark reality of London traffic.


Maddy brought the Volvo to a stop in the gravel driveway of ‘Maskelyne Manor’. The hall light was on, but no other that could be seen.

"Are you sure he’s here?"

Sunk into the passenger seat, almost lost in his thick grey winter coat, Jonathan nodded. "He’ll be out back, or sitting with a large whiskey and his feet dangling in the pool."

"How do you know he’ll be alone? Maybe he’s found some poor woman..."

But Jonathan was already shaking his head. "Adam only has women around for two reasons; sex and dinner dates. He’s in there, alone except for his Bengal tiger, brooding." He sat up. "Thanks for the lift."

"That’s okay."

A moment later he was reaching for her.

For the last two weeks they’d barely spent a night apart. He’d gone back home once Adam had been released from hospital, but that very night he’d woken her at just gone three am, just needing to hear another voice. She’d slept in his bed each night after that, just being there for him. A warm body he could wake up to from the dreams of freezing corpses held in his arms.

 

Maddy watched him through the windscreen as he ambled up to the front door and let himself in, mindful of Adam’s pet, which obviously was not around from the way he disappeared inside and closed the front door behind him. She sat for a while longer, the peace and quiet of the suburban plot letting her mind wonder. It hadn’t been difficult to treat Jonathan like a human being these last two weeks, now that she thought about it. He’d always been a slightly vulnerable character, someone who’d do anything for a quiet life, even if it meant letting her lead him into situations that only he could get them out of. She had turned his life upside-down, taking care to wind herself into his existence until she was an important part of it.

She sighed, unsure whom she was being most unfair on. Was she really that much of a tyrant? Was he honestly that easy a pushover? Or was what happened between them something they both wanted and needed?

Whatever the truth, Adam had been a part of Jonathan’s life long before she had. Their dependence on one another was obvious. And if she had ever resented that, all she could feel now was pride in knowing Jonathan, and in having him as a part of her life.


Hands stuffed deep into his pockets, Jonathan walked through the house, along next to the pool and finally stepped out on to the patio. He heard the gentle squeak of the large garden swing before he saw Adam seated there, glass of whiskey in his hands, bottle on the flagstones next to him.

"Hey."

Adam looked up, pearl-green eyes sparkling. He nodded, silently invited Jonathan to sit down, but said nothing. They sat together in comfortable quiet for a while, swinging gently back and forth. And a few minutes later, Adam rose and disappeared inside for a moment, only to return with an empty cut-crystal whiskey glass which he filled before handing it to his guest.

"Sorry about... back at the theatre." Jonathan took a long drink of the fine Scotch Whiskey.

Adam shook his head. "I’m sorry. I just... every time I think about being back in that tank.... It’s like a panic, a blind panic...."

Jonathan turned slightly, settling back into the corner of the luxury garden furniture. "It’s only to be expected, Adam."

"Is it?" He sighed. "I suppose." Shaking his head, he continued, "The only things I’ve ever been frightened of before are commitment and doctors." Another swallow of whiskey later, he asked, "Are... the nightmares really that bad?"

Jonathan nodded, "Yes, they are really that bad."

Adam sighed softly. "I owe you."

"No, you don’t. Please. I can’t live the rest of my life thinking that you think that you owe me. I’m not sure I could cope. I did what anyone would have done. I just happened to get there first."

"You gave me mouth-to-mouth."

Jonathan chuckled. "Yes. It is the recognised method of resuscitation for someone who’s stopped breathing." He raised his eyebrows. "Don’t worry, no tongues."

 

They sat for a time, drinking slowly, relaxing again in one another’s company. "If it’s really important to you, we could try some aversion therapy."

Adam looked across at his friend, "What?"

"Aversion therapy. You know. You spend some time just sitting in the empty tank, then when you’re happy, we add water and you just... swim around in it. Take it a step at a time until you’re used to it all again."

"That’s... not actually a bad idea."

Jonathan smiled, but it faded after a few moments. "I’d be happier if we knew what went wrong."

Adam shrugged. "They did all sorts of tests and scans at the hospital, didn’t find anything wrong with me, brain-wise."

"And you still don’t remember anything... strange happening? Or not happening?"

"Nothing more than I told you. After I went into the water... nothing. It’s a blank." He smiled gently. "Another mystery for you." Jonathan looked away, slightly embarrassed about his moonlighting habits, but Adam’s hand on his arm stopped him. "You should be proud of your abilities."

"Maybe. Sometimes I can’t help wondering... I feel like Miss Marple or someone."

"No. Surely... you’re more like Betty Wainthrop." Jonathan’s mouth fell open, and he smacked Adam across his arm.

"You...."

"Or, maybe, Brother Cadfael? I mean... you’re...."

"...both celibate," they smirked simultaneously. "Yeah, yeah. My love-life’s a real joke to you, isn’t it?"

"Not a joke," Adam tried to defend himself. "More... a fascination. You deserve to find someone."

"Like you have, you mean?"

Adam surprised him by not immediately spouting some witty come-back. "Not like me." He sighed, aware of how maudlin he was becoming. "That crush you had on Charlotte Carney, I envied you that. I’d never lusted after anyone for more than 24 hours before getting them into bed." He missed Jonathan rolling his eyes. "I wondered how it felt, that anticipation. The thrill of the chase, I heard someone call it once."

"Yes, well... less of a thrill, more of a living hell of sleepless nights, ever-occupied thoughts and hours of pointless masturbation." He sighed, Adam’s mood infecting him. "Mind you, that’s about normal."

Adam’s expression of partial understanding and sympathy was missed. "What about this thing with Maddy?"

Jonathan swigged back his whiskey, emptying the glass and holding it up for Adam to fill it again. "We’ve slept together. Once. I don’t know. Every time I think we might... she says something or does something that just annoys or confuses the hell out of me. I mean, okay, it was bound to put a crease in things when I slept with my tax inspector.... " Adam almost choked on his drink. "... on the kitchen table. But that was ages ago."

"And she still goes on about it?"

"No. To be Fair. Maybe it’s me." He threw back the whiskey in one go, feeling it burn up through his head and down his throat.

Adam watched him, realizing that he had a guest for the night. He didn’t really want to be alone anyway. "Come on, before we freeze out here."


Whatever time it was when Jonathan woke, it was still dark outside the lounge window. The log fire they’d settled in front of was dying down but the room was still warm. He opened his eyes, and found himself staring up into Adam’s sleeping face. They were still lying on the deep rug, Jonathan on his back, Adam wrapped around him, head rested above Jonathan’s head, arm lying protectively over his chest. Without breathing, Jonathan shifted slowly out from the loose embrace. As he did so, he found himself almost lying on something hard... he pulled a small black box out from under him. Opening it, he stared at the contents for a moment, remembering a snippet of the previous night.

(Adam sat up suddenly. "I never gave you your birthday present!"

Jonathan frowned. "Yes, you did. A set of Adam Klaus toilet...."

Adam stared at him, and suddenly Jonathan felt guilty for even thinking it. "You honestly believed that after ten years of working together that’s all I’d get you for your birthday?"

He disappeared from the room for a few minutes, and when he came back he handed Jonathan a small present. Grinning like a kid in a candy shop, Jonathan tore the paper joyfully, throwing it to the floor and opening the small black box within. A small gold medallion, about ¾ of an inch in circumference, was lying on a bed of black velvet, on a thin but expensive gold chain. Imprinted in the gold was the delicate image of Carrefour, calling down the rains.

"Patron saint of magicians." Adam told him needlessly and somewhat inaccurately.

"It’s…." Jonathan was suddenly lost for words. "Thank you." Running the chain between his fingers, he turned the medallion in his palm and read the short inscription;

‘for the true conjurer among us, A. ‘

Adam smiled. "To protect you."

"From the tricks, or the magicians?")

 

Silently, he tiptoed out of the lounge and phoned for a taxi.


"I woke up next to him!" Jonathan dropped into Maddy’s sofa, unaware of the expression on her face and of the exaggerated yawn as she handed him a mug of coffee. "He had his arm around me!"

"It’s three thirty am, Jonathan."

He stared at her. "Did you hear me?"

She shook her head. "No. Me sitting here is an illusion, I’m actually still upstairs in bed."

Standing, he began to pace up and down the lounge, coffee in hand. "I can’t believe it. Like I want to be one of his sodding conquests." She frowned at that, uncertain what he meant. But he was still rambling, not giving her a chance to question him. "What the hell was I thinking?"

"Jonathan! Will you just sit down!"

Glaring at her, he plonked back into the sofa. She sat forward, touching his knee. "You were drunk! You just fell asleep on the rug and at some point he imagined he was lying with one of his girlfriends. I don’t understand what you’re so freaked out about."

Jonathan took in her words, realizing that firstly he was still drunk, and secondly she was probably right. "There was just... a vibe of something.... All night, as we talked."

"Jonathan, listen to me. Two weeks ago, your ultimate nightmare, a trick goes wrong and Adam is lying on the stage in front of you, not breathing. He’s going to die unless you do something. And for what must have felt like an age, you’re breathing for him. What did you think? That experience wasn’t going to have a lasting effect on the both of you? That you’d just forget it and go back to normal?" His shoulders dropped. "Suddenly, you’ve been horribly reminded of the fact that he isn’t immortal. Someone who’s a very important part of your life could so easily be torn from you, without warning, without thought."

Maddy sipped her coffee, watching him carefully. From nowhere in particular he produced a small black box, which he handed to her.

"Don’t tell me, he proposed to you." She missed his smirk as she opened the box carefully. "Wow...."

"My belated birthday present."

"It’s... it’s beautiful." Carefully, she took it out of the box. "Who is it?"

"Carrefour, Voodoo patron of Sorcery, thought of now as the patron saint of magicians, rightly or wrongly. He’s part of ancient Voodoo culture. It’s believed that when a ceremony is invoked by calling on Carrefour, you’re calling on a powerful being who will willingly direct your life towards greatness, but not without a price." Moved across to the arm of his chair she perched there. He looked up at her. "What are you doing?"

"Putting it on for you. Come on, turn around." He did so, letting her drop the light jewellery around his neck and fasten it. "I have to say, the inscription is very touching. I’m surprised. I always thought he was an obnoxious git."

"He is." Jonathan tucked the chain and pendant under his T-shirt, glancing at his watch as he did so. "Oh God... is that really the time? I’m sorry." He glanced up at her. "I didn’t even think."

"Don’t worry. You know the sofa-bed’s always yours." He smiled. At least it beat the floor of Adam’s lounge. Just.


"Another abrupt exit," Adam spoke quietly into Jonathan’s ear. The other jumped in surprise.

"Sorry...." He was at a loss to explain himself, and went back to checking the ropes that Adam had been tied with that fateful night.

Adam headed for his dressing room, but a few steps across the stage, he turned back and noticed the glint of gold around his consultant’s neck. There was an echo of something warm within him.


"So what am I doing?"

"Just... get in." Jonathan leaned on the top of the four-foot high side of the glass tank. "Spend some time... sitting in it."

"Sitting in it?" Adam looked sceptical, but willing. "All right. No water?"

"No water."

Maddy stepped into the auditorium in time to watch Adam clamber on to a chair and into the empty tank. She walked up to the edge of the stage, smiling to herself as she watched Jonathan watching Adam with concern. He joined her, eyes not leaving the man now sitting cross-legged in the tank.

"Aversion therapy?" Jonathan nodded. "Has he said anything, about last night?"

"No. Just commented about me leaving abruptly. Again."

She frowned. "What do you mean again?"


Blindfolded and hooded, bound hand and foot, Adam was lowered gently into the water feet first by the same two men who had done so on the fateful night. Standing next to the tank, Jonathan rolled up his sleeve and reached into the water behind the illusionist, taking one of Adam’s tied hands into his own.

"When you’re ready, Adam."

Grasping the physical contact Jonathan was providing him with, Adam let himself fall sideways until he became submerged in the water. Maddy watched in a rare silence as Jonathan counted to ten and Adam found his feet again.

Immediately, Jonathan stepped around to the front of the tank and removed the hood from his employer’s head, following it with the blindfold. "Okay?"

Adam nodded, calming his breathing. "I’m okay."

"Want to give it up for today?" They’d come this far since this morning and Jonathan was impressed.

"No. We’ll do twenty."

"Sure?"

"Sure."

The blindfold and hood were replaced and once again, Jonathan took a firm hold of Adam’s hand.

"When you’re ready."

The count to twenty seemed to last forever and Maddy was finding this much more dramatic than anything she’d ever seen in their show. When he got to his feet this time and the blinders were removed, Adam’s breathing was much steadier and easier. Jonathan stood in front of him, smiling proudly. Adam’s eyes danced as they met the green eyes of his consultant. "Let’s do it."

"Adam...."

"Please, Jonathan. I can do this."

As unconvinced as he was, he couldn’t refuse. "All right. If you’re absolutely sure."

"I am."

 

They set up slowly, taking every precaution as they always would. Adam changed into fresh clothing before once again being bound and blindfolded. Jonathan watched the proceedings from next to the tank, following every move Adam made. This time the mirror slid into place, and having loosened his bindings, Adam swam with practised ease into the tube that ran under the staging and back into a separate tank behind the black velvet backdrop.

In the front row, Maddy sat at the edge of her seat, unconsciously holding her breath.

Jonathan ducked under the curtain, continuing the count that he’d started the moment Adam had left his sight.

"…three... four... five…" Adam didn’t surface. "...six... seven.... Adam!" Jonathan put his hands on the side of the second tank and swung his legs over the glass panel, landing feet first in the water with an almighty splash. Jonathan’s shout had alerted the minimal stage crew, two of whom also ducked behind the drape, the third of whom mirrored Jonathan’s leap into the front tank.

Sucking in one deep breath, Jonathan dived under the water, heading for the opening in the base where Adam should have appeared. Peering in, he could see the illusionist clawing at the side of the tubing, completely disorientated. Reaching into the wide plastic tube, Jonathan made a grab for Adam’s shoulder, pulling the now panicking man toward him. Adam struggled for a moment before he allowed himself to be drawn out and up toward the surface.

They emerged, Jonathan pushing Adam up against the side of the tank, leaning next to him to catch his breath. As the other man spluttered, one of the crew removed his hood and blindfold. Breathing hard, adrenaline flowing through him, Jonathan looked up into Adam’s watery eyes, the tremors driving through both of them as they leant against one another. Unable to speak, Jonathan just gripped his friend’s shoulder until they were helped out of the tank.

 

Quick showers in Adam’s dressing room warmed them both up again. When Jonathan stepped out, towel-drying his hair, Adam was sitting silently staring into the mirror. At least the sight of his consultant brought a small smile to his face. Jonathan was wearing one of Adam’s denim shirts and a spare pair of jeans someone had dug up – a pair that had obviously belonged to someone three times Jonathan’s size.

"No comments please." Adam nodded, looking away, only to be pulled back by Jonathan’s hand on his shoulder. "We got half way. That’s fairly impressive for a day’s work."

"I want to try again."

Jonathan perched on the dressing table, folding the towel as he did so. "Maybe we should leave it for today."

"I can’t. If I walk out of here without completing it, I’ll never get back in that tank."

At least he could understand that. "Can you tell me what went wrong?"

Adam thought about that, at least this time, he knew. "In the tube, suddenly... I just lost my direction."

"Okay." Jonathan so desperately wanted to give it up. Never before had a trick been this traumatic. But one look at Adam’s face told him they were going to go back and they were going to get it right, for Adam’s sanity’s sake. "We’ll empty the tank," he stated finally.

"Jonathan...."

"We’ll go from the top, until you can crawl through that tube backwards with your eyes closed. Then we’ll put the water back. Deal?"

Adam nodded, and stood. "Deal."

 

For the next hour they ran through the sequence of events that led to the successful completion of the illusion. Only when Jonathan was happy with the timing would he allow the tank to be refilled. Whether or not the fact that he designed all the technical stuff meant that Adam’s safety was in his hands became unimportant now. Their separate roles were incidental. As always with the show, they were in this together.

Jonathan fastened the blindfold, hood and ropes this time around. But after that he stood back and let Adam perform as he needed to. Still, he kept the count in going in his mind, and went back around the curtain to make sure that his employer did surface in the second tank. He did, easily and within the time allocated. Changing clothes, Adam slipped back around the curtain and made his triumphant appearance in a puff of smoke at one side of the stage.

Maddy applauded, not only Adam, but Jonathan too as he approached the magician with a congratulatory smile. Handing him a small towel, he closed the gap for a moment and murmured,

"Don’t ever scare me like that again."

Adam locked their gazes and nodded, silently reassuring Jonathan who knew it was a promise he could not hope to keep. Theirs was a dangerous trade, it was as simple and as frightening as that.


Enjoying the warmth of Maskelyne Manor’s indoor pool, Jonathan crossed his arms behind his head, amazed at how stable the large ‘playing cards’ floating loungers actually were. His mind was a warm fuzzy mess after the countless bottles of expensive champagne they’d got through since leaving the theatre. After the meal at the restaurant, one of the most expensive he’d ever set foot inside, Jonathan had been surprised when Gayle had turned down Adam’s offer of an evening at his place. And Maddy had had an appointment somewhere with someone....

Adam was sitting on the side of the pool, legs dangling down into the water, feet bare yet his trousers still on.

"I don’t recall ever seeing anyone lie there fully clothed before." He took a swig from the one hundred and fifty pound bottle of champagne.

"Do you recall ever seeing a man lying here before?"

Using his hand, Jonathan paddled over to the side where his glass was waiting for him next to Adam’s. He wrapped his fingers carefully around the stem, hesitating when Adam brushed his fingers over the rim of the glass. He looked up, but the other man kept his head lowered. "Last night, Jonathan. I wasn’t... I don’t want you to think...." He glanced up, chancing meeting his friend’s gaze. "You know my reputation better than anyone."

"Yes, Adam." Jonathan liberated his glass and lifted his head to sip at the bubbly, concentrating hard on not tipping the float over.

They let the silence stretch, until Adam shook his head. "So why do you put up with me?"

Jonathan thought it over for a while, and composed his answer in his mind before speaking. "To see it all come together; that magical transformation of Barbie doll parts and cardboard cut-outs littering the floor of the windmill to a live illusion. Your incredible showmanship, taking ideas that are so simple and baffling audiences all over the globe."

Adam raised his eyebrows. "Is that what you find so attractive?"

Jonathan placed the champagne flute on his chest, holding it still at the base, and closed his eyes. "That, Adam, is a leading question."

Adam’s brow furrowed. "Is it?"

The soothing warmth of the heated room and pool, the gentle wave of the water and the fine alcohol in his system were all serving to slowly rock Jonathan off to sleep. He was only barely aware of his float being gently tugged on until the head of it touched against the side of the pool and his glass was taken from him. Then Adam’s hands came to rest lightly on his shoulders. He tensed slightly, but as the other began a careful massage he was unable to resist relaxing again.

Adam took his time, keeping his touch gentle and unthreatening. Slowly, he moved his fingers under Jonathan’s shirt, touching the warm skin. Using his thumb to skilfully push the top two buttons through their holes, he loosened the shirt – still the one he’d lent that afternoon - and moved his hands down Jonathan’s arms. But leaning over from where he was sitting meant that his reach was limited, and he worked his way back the arms to start down the sides of his friend’s chest.

After a time, carefully balanced, Adam placed his hands on the float, either side of Jonathan and leaned forward, dropping a kiss to the neck exposed to him, then to the hollow of Jonathan’s throat and to the top of his chest. When Adam lifted his head, he found himself not unexpectedly being watched with deep suspicion.

"Why?" Jonathan asked quietly, brow creased.

Adam didn’t answer, but when he sat back, Jonathan sat up quickly. Too quickly. The float flipped out from under him and he fell in with a splash. The shock of the relative cold of the water took him by surprise and he went under. A single moment of panic later and he was being brought to the surface by a strong arm wrapped around him and a firm hand clasped at his shoulder.

"Maybe a slight overreaction there, Jonathan?" Adam’s dry humour was lost on his friend as Jonathan found his footing and heaved himself out of the water. He sat dripping on the side of the pool in the second set of clothes he’d soaked through today. Adam came up to sit next to him, expression open.

"What are you doing, Adam?"

The American sighed inwardly, dropping his gaze. Somehow, he knew what was coming and he knew he deserved it. He didn’t look up when Jonathan got to his feet.

"All that I take from you, I don’t have to be your… whatever the hell you think I am."

"Jonathan…." But the other man was already out of the room and heading for the front door. Adam followed. "Jonathan, wait! Where are you going to go?"

"I’ll phone for a taxi, Adam. Some of us are used to it."

He sighed. "You’re soaking wet! And exactly how waterproof do you think your mobile is?"

Jonathan stopped with his hand on the door handle. He closed his eyes, wondering why his life always had to be like this; a series of farcical disasters. He turned to look at Adam, standing in the arch that led through to the indoor pool. And he laughed. He couldn’t help it. They were standing, dripping wet, facing one another off like they were married.

"Couldn’t borrow another shirt, I suppose?"

 

Sometime later, settled into opposite corners of the sofa, fire popping in the grate and a cafetiere of Java on the table between them, they regarded one another.

"I’ve never made a move on anyone I knew before." Adam stared into the black liquid in his mug. "And I’ve only ever been in love once." He glanced up, and Jonathan’s expression of interest encouraged him. "Andrea. A long time ago, while I was living in New York. She owned a bar on the corner of West and Fifth called ‘Buddies’. I went in one night, after yet another break up, and she served me until six am. It was the first time I’d really talked to a woman, without even thinking about asking her on a date. I went in there every night for a week and we just talked. After eight nights, she asked me out. We dated for two months and four days, and then… she just walked out on me. No reason, no explanation. I never saw her again." Jonathan listened, surprised by the admission, touched by it. "I promised myself that no other woman would ever do that to me again. And no woman ever has done. Just one guy."

Sipping his coffee, Jonathan schooled his expression carefully. He couldn’t remember Adam ever talking to him like this before, ever opening up about anything more personal than his last passionate encounter. He was happy just to listen, and to learn.

"When I first came to London, I lived in this little apartment above a strip club in Soho. There was this jazz club across the road that I used to drink in. I can’t remember what it was called, and it’s not there now. One of the performers was a lone sax player who I only ever knew as Jinn. He was a fantastic player, one of the best I’ve ever heard. One night I offered to buy him a drink. We talked all night, and the attraction I felt for him…. It scared the hell out of me. I know they say everyone’s bisexual whether or not they ever act on it. But…." He shook his head. "I guess I’m trying to convince you that I’m not always the way you think I am, with women."

"It’s very rarely that you surprise me."

Adam shrugged, "I don’t try too often."

Jonathan laughed gently. "And tonight?"

"You’ve always reminded me of Jinn. The same unassuming confidence in what you do, the same unfailing dedication to those around you. You’re never wrong, whatever you try you never fail. But… you let us take advantage of all that. I’ve watched Maddy do it, I know I do it all the time." He leaned forward, indicating the pendant hanging from the thin chain around Jonathan’s neck. "I hoped giving you that would at least be a reminder that I do appreciate you."

Jonathan touched his fingers to the pendant, already used to wearing it. "If you’re worried about taking advantage of me… what was that about… in the pool?"

Adam smiled a lopsided smile. "Attraction, curiosity. We’ve been so close these last couple of days…. " He leaned back, drinking his coffee. When he looked up again, he found Jonathan staring at him. "It won’t happen again." But the words were lost in the heated silence that fell between them.

Maybe if Jonathan’s mobile hadn’t rung….

Adam smiled wanly as Jonathan reached for the phone that had been drying out on the table. "More waterproof than you’d think." He commented quietly, but Jonathan was already being bombarded with the details of Maddy’s disastrous evening.

"…such a great time, this bloke was really up for me! I tell you, Jonathan, there’s no better passion-killer than to be running your fingers over a guy’s chest hair and have it come off in your hands! Anyway, I get home and guess what? I’ve been burgled! Again! At least this one was tidier! He even took the CD from the stereo before stealing it! And the videotapes that were dumped around the video recorder were stacked neatly in the corner! I think it’s tidier than when I left here this morning! So I was wondering if you’d come over, if I paid for a taxi? You’re still in London aren’t you? I did try your home. I don’t actually want to be alone in the apartment tonight, and I need someone to house-sit in the morning while I go out and buy some stronger, bigger locks. Is that all right? Didn’t think you’d mind. Jonathan? I’m not interrupting anything, am I?"


When the curtain rose on the first performance since the accident, Jonathan was more nervous than he could ever remember being. Adam at least gave the outward impression that he was as composed and relaxed as ever about facing his audience. He made some quip early on about going for a swim later, and got a standing ovation.

The first act finished with the Water Tank. Even the stage manager, Mike, seemed on edge. He exchanged glances with Jonathan as the mirror slid into place. The few seconds that it took for Adam to swim through the tube to the hidden tank ticked passed, and Jonathan stepped back and around the thick backdrop to watch with relief as the magician climbed silently out and changed into the dry costume awaiting him.

As Adam readied himself to step out on stage, he reached back and touched Jonathan’s hand with cold fingers. For a brief moment, his gesture was returned. And then the crack of the small smoke pellet exploding signalled Adam’s miraculous appearance at the side of the stage to the second standing ovation of the night.

 

Act two went just as smoothly, ending in the visually stunning ‘Phantom of the Opera’. A circle of tall candlesticks alight with the amber glow of the flames made the trick appear far more dangerous than it actually was. For Jonathan, it held bittersweet memories. He had created it after spending two weeks waiting for Charlotte Carney to call him. Late one night he’d come up with the idea of a bitter Phantom sending his Christine up in flames.

The audience was treated to a faultless performance, an illusion as breathtaking in its beauty as it was in its unfolding. Usually very vivacious in his delivery, Adam brought a grace to this trick that seemed to stem from an understanding of its creator, from an awareness of the illusion’s roots. As he did on only the rarest occasions, Jonathan lost himself with the audience. He let the music and the visuals consume him, watching, for once, the illusion and not the workings.

His applause joined with the third ovation, and he remained standing at the side of the stage long after Adam had exited for the fourth time holding five bouquets of roses and several items of ladies underwear.

 

Some time later, Mike approached him with the candle snuffer. "Could you do the honours, Jonathan?"

He nodded, walking out onto the stage and into the circle of candlelight. He reached up to snuff out the first flame when he saw Adam approaching him. It didn’t surprise Jonathan as much as he thought it might when Adam closed the gap between them. The magician held out his hand, indicating the now empty auditorium. "Thanks. For... making all that possible."

Jonathan nodded. "Don’t mention it." He hesitated for a moment, before stepping around his employer to put out the candle flames one by one.

Adam watched him, and waited until he’d finished before offering, "Can I give you a lift somewhere?"

A simple question, but Jonathan knew then that this was his last chance to grasp the threads of tension that had been spun between them in the recent days. Despite knowing Adam’s reputation, much had been said last night that had at least allayed some of his fears. He did trust Adam, maybe not with his life but certainly with his career and perhaps even with his dreams. Finally, he nodded. "How about your place?"


In the candlelit master bedroom of Maskelyne Manor Adam lay on his back diagonally across the king-size bed. Head pillowed on the other’s chest, Jonathan lay at right angles to Adam. Between them, the fingers of their left hands played together, lightly entwining, keeping the intimacy of what had passed.

They almost hadn’t got here. In the car on the way back they’d barely spoken a word to one another, and as the Limo had pulled into the gravelled driveway, Jonathan had considered telling Adam to forget the whole thing. But he’d looked up and his gaze had locked with the intense one already focused on him. Something in Adam’s expression at that moment had made Jonathan feel like he was the only person in the whole world, and he knew then how every woman the American had ever hit upon had been taken with him.

 

Once the front door closed behind them, Adam didn’t give him chance to change his mind. Jonathan shrugged out of his coat and threw it over the banister, and the next thing he knew, Adam had pinned him against that same banister and was kissing him. For a moment he was so surprised he didn’t know quite how to react. But he wasn’t with someone of limited experience, and as confident fingers wove into his hair, as a strong arm curved around his waist, Jonathan simply gave in.

Desire so long neglected swamped him with full force. He stroked his tongue over Adam’s before dipping between the other’s lips to taste his friend. Jonathan’s confidence grew quickly and he wrapped his arms around Adam, trying to draw him closer while concentrating on keeping his own balance where they stood on the first step up of the wide, grand staircase.

Adam drew back eventually, sliding his hands down Jonathan’s arms. "Come on."

It was without doubt the most erotic thing Jonathan could remember anyone ever saying to him; low, quiet, and utterly impossible to refuse. Holding only the ends of Jonathan’s fingers within his own, Adam led him upstairs and toward the master bedroom.

Inside the room, Adam again turned to kiss him, hands finding their way under his shirt and T-shirt to roam over smooth skin. At that first touch, Jonathan murmured something desperate into their kiss, but still he clung to Adam, not daring to let go. The other ended the kiss, drawing Jonathan’s head back and brushing his lips over his jaw. Lightly, he ran the tip of his tongue around the shell of his lover’s ear, pushing back the errant hair to allow himself better access, to make it easier when he deepened the intimate contact.

Jonathan moaned something incoherent, unable to do anything more than hold Adam tightly and ride out the waves of arousal surging through him. Adam’s tongue against and inside his ear was driving him crazy. After launching a similar assault on the other side, Adam stepped back a little and rested his forehead against his lover’s, pushing his fingers into the curly hair at the side of Jonathan’s head.

"Like that?"

There was no way he could form the words, so he nodded. And smiling, Adam kissed him again.

Only when nimble fingers started to undo the buttons on his shirt did Jonathan experience a first shiver of panic. Incredibly, it was something Adam seemed to have expected for he slid one arm around the slim waist and drew him closer, ending the kiss to trace a delicate line with his tongue along the curve of Jonathan’s jaw.

Jonathan cupped his hand around the back of Adam’s neck, combing his fingers into the soft dark hair, trying in vain to bring them closer. He couldn’t remember being so desperately, painfully aroused. Usually, with a woman, he’d feel that he had to be the one in control. Here, now, he could hand that control over to Adam, and he could hardly believe the erotic effect that had on him.

Adam did try to slow it down, but the driving need was overwhelming them both. Jonathan’s now-confident hands pushed Adam back for a moment while he shrugged off his own shirt and pulled his T-shirt over his head. Adam smiled, his eyes locking with Jonathan’s, dark with the rush of desire through his body. He unbuttoned his own shirt with teasing slowness, enjoying the heated gaze that flew to his bare chest, the fleeting expression of sudden fear.

"Don’t be scared."

Jonathan stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Adam’s neck, initiating a passionate kiss before either of them could change their minds about this.

Adam led them to the bed, and as they lay down Jonathan hesitated again. This was real. This was happening now and something about being on the bed made it unstoppable. But Adam’s hands were on him again, his fingers dipping into the waistband of Jonathan’s jeans, and when teasing fingers brushed the head of his trapped erection, he practically came there and then.

Trousers and underwear were disposed of quickly. Both men wanted to feel the length of the other pressing against him. The decision made, exploring one another became easier.

Adam rolled Jonathan on to his back, straddling him determinedly. Jonathan yelled as their cocks were brushed one against the other, but Adam quickly reached down and pressed his fingertips into the hard base of his lover’s erection, preventing him from coming immediately.

"Neat trick," Jonathan panted breathlessly.

Letting go, Adam placed his hands either side of Jonathan’s shoulders and sat up on all fours, regarding the naked man beneath him with nothing short of hunger. His smile was as predatory as the deep kiss that followed it.

Jonathan’s fingers clawed into Adam’s hips, and finally the American had mercy. Lowering himself, he wrapped one arm around Jonathan’s shoulders and with his other hand grasped their cocks, rubbing them together, bringing them both to a rapid climax.

Jonathan screamed, nails scraping down Adam’s back, unknowingly escalating the other’s orgasm. And it was his name on the American’s lips, his name that was ripped from Adam along with a stream of bright profanities.

Finally he collapsed on to his side, one hand coming to rest in the mess on Jonathan’s stomach, the other moving up his lover’s back to tangle in his damp hair.


"I can read people’s arousal," Adam said softly as he ran each of the fingers on Jonathan’s left hand through his own before linking them again, rubbing his thumb against the palm.

"You’re unbelievable," Jonathan told him truthfully, lovingly.

Frowning, Adam told him, "Sometimes I don’t know if you’re being serious or sarcastic."

Jonathan chuckled. "Maddy accused me of that. Sometimes I don’t know myself. But I think it’s safe to assume that if I’m lying talking to someone with whom I’ve just shared a mind-blowing orgasm and a hot shower, then I’m not going to be too big on the sarcasm for a while."

He felt Adam tighten the hold on his hand for a second before resuming his playful caress.

They had showered together even though neither had the energy to do anything more than wash. Jonathan couldn’t believe how at ease he felt. He could feel himself starting to drift off to sleep, and turning his head he met the gentle green eyes of his lover. Adam stroked his hair gently. "I’m not going to run off, this is my house."

Jonathan nodded. "Just checking." Closing his eyes, he let his mind sink into the bliss of the afterglow.


Sunlight streamed in through the open curtains, warming Adam’s naked form where he lay sprawled on the bed. Without opening his eyes he knew he was alone. He’d had a shrewd idea that he’d wake up alone anyway. It didn’t stop the smile from spreading across his face. He felt incredibly relaxed, contented and without any urge to move quite yet.

Later on, when he did eventually rise, he found the note on the bedside table.

‘another abrupt exit! no surprise, unlike last night. love ya, J.’


Looking out across the West Sussex countryside from the balcony of his windmill home, Jonathan cradled the mug of Chamomile Tea in his hands. Maddy would be dropping by anytime; she’d telephoned and garbled on about a guy being shot dead in a park full of elderly men walking their dogs. It sounded like something that could keep him occupied for the day until he had to be at the theatre.

Any misgivings he might have harboured concerning the previous night had been swept away by the wonderful sensation of absolute oneness with the world. Overhead, the birds were singing. A slight breeze played in the trees and undergrowth at the base of the field that surrounded Ripley Mill.

He knew what Adam’s first words would be to him this evening, and they would distil any unease between them. After all, they worked together to produced something spectacular. Neither of them would let a thing as prehistoric as sex get in the way of their joint success.

 

On the way home, he’d bought a paper in the village and found a two-page review of the previous night’s show.

 

‘MAGICIAN’S TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO THE STAGE

Three weeks ago, illusionist Adam Klaus almost lost his life when a trick went wrong, leaving him drowning in a sealed tank of water in front of a full house audience. Only his quick-thinking creative consultant, Jonathan Creek, saved his life.

Last night, Adam Klaus gave the performance of his life, proving to his audience that he could still make it look easy. Triumphantly completing the Water Tank illusion, he teased the front row, "Are you as relieved as I am?"

At the end of the show, as he honoured the first of four curtain calls, he publicly thanked Jonathan Creek for saving his life and for making it all possible. Sitting in the front row, I had to add my own thanks to Klaus’. This country could have lost a great showman.

The next twenty-seven shows have sold out, but I highly recommend booking for March. Adam Klaus is one of those unique individuals who can still make me believe in fairy-tales.’

 

Jonathan could only agree.

 

fin part 1

elfin

20/01/00



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