"Jonathan Creek" characters beloved creations of and copyright David Renwick.
Title: The Poetry of Magic PtII
Author: Elfin
Fandom:  Jonathan Creek
Pairing: Jonathan/Adam
Rating: NC17, m/m.
Status: Pt2 of ?

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

With thanks as always to Pfyre for her constant encouragement and to Sue for her interesting suggestions and help.


The Poetry of Magic, Part II

by elfin

 

"I’ve got this theory that Jonathan Creek is himself an illusion. Just when you think you’ve found him, he drifts through your fingers like smoke."

- Maddy, "The Reconstituted Corpse"

 

"At least this time, I was expecting it."

Jonathan looked up when Adam made himself as comfortable as possible in the seat next to him. Playing his pen through his fingers, he smiled nervously. "About last night...."

Adam kept his eyes pinned on the activity around the stage. "You’re regretting it."

"No. I was going to say last night was incredible. And thank you."

At the same time they turned to look at one another. "Thank you. And anytime."

"Adam?" They must have resembled two school children caught talking in class as they stared up guiltily at Chris, their tour manager. "Christ, look at you two! Have you got a dirty mag under there or something?"


Four Weeks Later

 

Jonathan couldn’t believe how relieved he felt, yet at the same time, how suddenly alone. Twelve thirty-five. Finally, Adam was out of the country for the start of his whistle-stop European tour. Five cities in twelve days. Utter madness, and very Adam.

The last four weeks had been a minefield of emotions Jonathan wasn’t used to and could barely cope with. They’d worked together as synchronously as ever, putting together a new show for the short tour that would end back at the Prince of Wales in a fortnight. Adam hadn’t ever pretended that one night hadn’t happened, but neither had he made another move, and Jonathan found himself swinging continuously between relief and depression.

As he imagined a great many of Adam’s former lovers had experienced, he felt used. Sometimes. Without any reason to. Late some nights when he’d lain alone in bed staring out of the window at the clear, cold sky, rerunning that night in his mind, torturing himself.

But he didn’t know why. He didn’t want anything from Adam that he hadn’t already got. Their friendship remained in tact, was perhaps closer than it had previously been. But the expert touch on his starving body was difficult to dismiss, impossible to forget. Adam had driven him to an explosive orgasm that his own hand just couldn’t match.

 

Sitting on the floor of his lounge, leaning back against the sofa, legs out in front of him with ankles crossed, he watched the second hand of one of his clocks as it shaved time off his holiday second by second. Two weeks. All Adam had asked was that he keep his mobile switched on and leave a contact number if he decided to go away abroad. He’d considered it. He’d even considered flying to the states to see his parents, but that idea hadn’t been entertained for long.

Last night they’d had a final run through a couple of points that had been bugging him about the new tricks. Adam had dropped him at Victoria station at eleven and thanked him. And that had been it. Sitting on the train, more depressed than he could ever remember being, he’d asked himself what else he’d wanted or expected. It was a question he couldn’t answer.

Downstairs on the kitchen table was the envelope Adam had given him, containing the exact details of the tour; the theatres and their respective phone numbers. It remained unopened. He’d had no reason to open it and doubted if he would.

Somehow, by some miracle, he’d managed to keep Maddy unaware of what had occurred that night. She’d been around as usual. The man shot to death in the park had come to nothing, and as far as Jonathan knew she’d had no stories of interest since then.

Speak of the devil….

The phone’s ring stirred him, and he reached for the handset lying on the floor a couple of feet away.

"Jonathan Creek."

"Jonathan! Hi! Busy?"

"No."

"Mind if I can over? Only, something’s come up."

"Fine."

"Right, good. I’ll see you in a bit."

"Great." He pressed the ‘end call’ button, put the handset back on the floor and counted to ten.

The front door opened, and she called up, "I knew you wouldn’t mind."

Clambering to his feet, Jonathan mooched down two floors to the kitchen. "Hi."

"’Ello." Amused by her own ‘phoning him from outside his own windmill’ joke, she smiled smugly, but he didn’t see it. He was busying himself by filling the kettle and plugging it in, searching out two clean mugs while she made herself comfortable at the table.

"What is it this time then? Locked room? Sealed container? Bullets? Knives?" He fetched two mugs down from the cupboard.

"Nothing like that." Folding her arms on the table, she spotted the sealed envelope that Jonathan had thrown there the previous night. She reached for it, rotating it between her index fingers. "So, who’s giving you their house key?" she teased, with only a hint of the jealousy she suddenly felt. He had been more distant recently. Hadn’t he? Or had he? Was it just her?

"What?" he turned, frowning.

Maddy held up the envelope. "There’s a Yale key in here."

Jonathan felt a rush of heat and silently reprimanded himself. "Probably wants me to feed the plants," he muttered, taking the envelope from her and opening it. There was a Yale key inside, and two pages of plain A4 paper. Printed on one were the details of the tour, just as Adam had said. To relieve her obvious curiosity, he handed that to Maddy. On the second page, Adam had scrawled both his alarm code, and a note:

‘Jonathan, the house is yours whenever. Make yourself at home. I’ll call if the exploding banana fails! See you in 2 weeks. Love ya, A.

PS. feed the plants to the tiger?’

He composed himself quickly enough to lie and tell her that he’d been right, Adam wanted him to feed the plants. And then he smiled, and he kept smiling so that by the time he handed her a mug of coffee, she was getting worried.

"Have you been smoking something?"

"What?" He pulled out the seat next to her, having folded Adam’s note away into his pocket along with the key. He couldn’t believe how much better he felt, how much happier. He hated himself for it, and determined to give Maddy his complete and undivided attention for the next two weeks. "Come on then, you can’t keep me in suspense all afternoon."


By seven that evening the floor of the second storey of Jonathan’s windmill home was carpeted in photocopies and print outs all to do with a spooky old house known as ‘Bode Manor’, located somewhere on the Hog’s Back near Guildford. Recently the place had been bought and converted into a five-star hotel. But a rapidly growing number of guests claiming they’d heard and seen a ghostly apparition on the staircase was threatening business. And a couple of days ago one of the patrons had died of a heart attack following such an event. Desperate, the owners of the hotel had called Maddy’s publisher, Barry, and begged him to persuade Maddy and her associate Jonathan Creek to at least glance at the incidents.

"I went through a phase of enjoying ghost stories when I was about ten," Jonathan told her wistfully, smiling his thanks as she handed him a plate with a knife and fork. She’d offered to cook, being as it was her case he was currently looking into. It had taken time, but she’d managed to memorise a couple of vegetarian recipes for him. And without doubt he had the most stocked kitchen she’d ever worked in. "There was a place called Borley Rectory. It was plagued by various ghosts and ghostly noises, screams, sobs, laughter, the old footsteps in the corridor. Scientists went and stayed there, trying to find some explanation of what so many people were claiming was happening. One night, one of them saw a woman floating through the garden one evening. When they looked in to it, it turned out to be a pillar of mosquitoes following the underground stream."

Maddy stared at him from the sofa. "Another of your ‘not everything you see is actually what it appears to be’ examples?"

He smiled at her. "I don’t believe in ghosts. So... these guests must have seen and heard something real. Something that occurs either naturally – a shadow, a noise in the pipes, the heating system, something like that – or something man-made, for a reason."

She grinned. "Like ‘Scooby Doo’?"

Jonathan mirrored her gleeful expression. "Just like ‘Scooby Doo’ in fact. Maybe we should be searching for treasure buried in the garden somewhere." He considered that. "In fact, maybe we should be delving deeper into the business dealings of the hotel owner."

He reached for one of the folders she’d brought over, one that was hiding under a photo of the dead woman. As he picked it up, the phone rang.

"Jonathan Creek."

"Hi."

"Hey, Adam. How’s Venice?"

"Romantic. Wet. You’d love it."

"You can take me someday," Jonathan quipped, dropping the folder back on the floor. "What’s up?"

"Just wanted to fill you in on how things are shaping up. The last of the tickets have sold in Lyon and Amsterdam."

"So the whole tour’s a sell out? That’s fantastic. Maybe you could tour for longer next time!"

"Aw, I’m hurt. I thought you’d be missing me."

"Desperately, Adam. But I think I’ll survive."

There was an almighty crash in the background, and Jonathan heard Adam swear softly. "I have to go. I’ll call from Reykjavik?"

"No problem. Good luck tonight." There was a pause, just slightly too long. "Goodnight, Adam." He made himself end the call and drop the handset to the floor. Silently, he started into his food.

"Everything all right?"

Jonathan looked up at Maddy as if she’d just reminded him that she was there. "Yes. Sorry. Just Adam informing me that the last of the tickets have been sold."

"That’s great news."

He nodded his agreement and took another mouthful, putting down his fork to pick up the report again and open it out on the floor beside him. But despite trying, he couldn’t concentrate any longer on whatever was on the pages he was staring at. Finally, he placed his plate on the floor and got to his feet.

Maddy watched him disappear down the stairs, and a couple of seconds later, she heard the fridge door closing and the clinking of glasses. When he returned, he was carrying two bottles of white wine, two glasses and a bottle opener.

"Jonathan, are you sure everything’s all right?"

"Yep. Just thought...." He looked at her directly. "Do you... fancy staying over tonight?"


Maddy woke first. For a little while she lay still, just watching Jonathan sleep. But finally she had to get up. Nature was calling, and was being quite demanding about it. Taking Jonathan’s warm grey dressing gown and wrapping it around herself, she padded upstairs. Their clothes littered the second floor of the windmill.

She’d sat and watched him drink his way through one and a half bottles of wine. He didn’t usually drink such excessive amounts unless he was with Adam, so she’d assumed something was up. But he wouldn’t talk to her, kept denying that anything was wrong and finally she’d decided just to take his mind off whatever it was obviously on. In his inebriated state he was a pushover. She made all the moves and they’d wound up making love on the leather sofa. Warmer there than the kitchen table, she supposed.

Bit by bit she located and picked up various items of clothing. As she rescued Jonathan’s shirt from the table lamp, she was interrupted by the phone’s familiar ring. Dumping the small pile of clothes onto the sofa she searched the floor for the telephone handset, finding it under her camisole.

"Jonathan Creek’s place."

"Maddy?" There was a slight hesitation. "Adam."

"Hi! How did the show go last night?"

"Excellent, thanks for asking. Is Jonathan about?"

"He’s still in bed, I’ll shout him for you."

Another hesitation. "No. It’s okay. I’ll ring back later. Nothing important. Thanks, Maddy." And he hung up.

A few minutes later, Jonathan padded downstairs, obviously in search of his shirt. "Who was that?"

"Adam." She handed him his shirt. "Acting a bit strangely if you ask me. Said he’d ring back later."

Jonathan frowned. The temptation to call the hotel where he knew Adam was staying was tempered with the considerably high probability that a stranger of the opposite sex would answer the phone. He decided to leave it. Shrugging into his shirt, he asked her, "So what are the plans for today?"


‘Bode Manor’ was a Tudor house steeped in history. A full black and white beamed exterior and sprawling acres of land, half of which they drove through to reach the place.

Left to his own devices to check the place out, Jonathan found himself standing at the foot of the grand staircase which seemed to be at the heart of the mystery. It went up in front of him for ten wide steps, and then along a balcony landing across the length of the hallway before steps went up again and out of sight.

He climbed the first set of stairs and looked along the landing. A red, intermittently flashing light in the top-left corner of the ceiling caught his attention. Its counterpart flashed in sync at the other end of the landing, where the stairs carried on up. Part of the alarm system, he supposed. But if that was the case, what were the small black boxes partially hidden in each bottom corner? Kneeling down by the nearest one, he saw it all.

All he needed now was a name.


This evening, a whole new set of papers covered the floor of the windmill’s lounge. Files on the hotel’s owners, details of their other businesses, hotels and restaurants, and all their staff lists for the last two years. There were stacks of papers, but at least Jonathan had a vague clue about what he was looking for.

At eight, Maddy went out to locate the nearest Indian take-away. Jonathan had some idea that there was one in the nearby town of Billingshurst, but when she found the town on the map she declared that there must be a closer one. She’d been gone forty minutes when the phone rang.

"Jonathan Creek."

"I know."

There was a smile in Adam’s voice that made Jonathan grin. "Aren’t you supposed to be on stage?"

"Half an hour. I’ve been thinking."

"Oh no…."

"Why don’t you fly out to Reykjavik tomorrow? Meet us there. It’s a fantastic city, you’d love it."

"Adam, that’s mad. Besides, we’re in the middle of something...."

"Two days, Jonathan, fly out tomorrow and back on Thursday. This tour’s success is all down to you, you deserve to see..."

"All right!" Jonathan couldn’t believe he was going to agree to this. "All right, if you insist." He felt like laughing. "When?"

"IcelandAir flight REK006 leaving Heathrow Terminal Two at eleven am tomorrow. First class, window seat."

Jonathan did laugh. "See you at the hotel?"

"I’ll meet you at the airport."

 

As he placed the handset on the carpet, he heard the door open and Maddy call up. "Found one!"

A few minutes later she came up with three bags from the Indian take-away and one from the off-licence. Jonathan cleared a space on the floor and opened two of the bottles of Cobra Lager.

"I... Adam just phoned."

"Oh right, how is he?"

"He asked me to fly out to Reykjavik tomorrow morning, for the show tomorrow night."

She stopped in mid-bite into her Onion Bargee. "I beg your pardon?"

"It’s just for one night. I’ll fly back on Thursday."

"You said yes?"

"He’d already booked the flight...."

"We’re in the middle of this! You said this afternoon that you knew how, you just didn’t know who or why! And now you’re just going to fly off and leave me?!"

"I’ll take some stuff with me and read it on the plane." He smiled at her. "When you pick me up at the airport on Thursday I’ll tell you who and why. On Friday we can go and talk to the hotel owners and you can pick up the reward."

She sighed. Truth be told, it wasn’t the fact they were in the midst of this case that had rattled her. It was Adam calling and once again, Jonathan jumping at his command. "Do you always do as you’re told?" It was out before she could bite down on it.

"No, Mum. But the last time I left this country was three years ago to see my parents. It might be fun to go out somewhere so totally different for the night." Maddy munched a Popadum, sulking, and he tried to pacify her. "Come on. It’ll be good to see the show on tour, see how all my hard work’s panned out. Adam’s springing for the flight and the accommodation. I couldn’t really say no, could I?"

"I suppose...." Aimlessly, she rifled through a few of the papers next to her feet. Something caught her eye. "Did you say you were looking for someone who’d been sacked?"

"It’s one possibility. Why? What’ve you found?"

She pulled a couple of the papers out from under her Nan Bread and handed them over.


Adam didn’t meet Jonathan at the airport, but he did at least sent a driver – Owen - and a hired limo.

"Adam’s at the theatre," Owen explained to Jonathan on the way through central Reykjavik. "He asked me to take you to the hotel and then to bring you to the theatre. Some problem with... exploding fruit?"

Jonathan nodded. "Banana." Staring out of the window he wondered why he’d thought Adam would fly him all the way out here for any other reason. He considered the events of Monday night, of he and Maddy. Maybe he should commit to some sort of relationship with her. What was stopping him? But he knew the answer to that without even thinking about it. He just wouldn’t admit it to himself.

The hotel was beautiful, and Adam had reserved him a suite for the night, no expense spared. He supposed he should be grateful. Dropping his bag to the floor he left the room again and let Owen drive him to the theatre.

 

Adam wiped the mashed fruit from his face, looking up with relief as his beloved consultant sidled in through the side door of the auditorium.

"Jonathan! Am I glad to see you!"

Hands in his pockets, Jonathan wondered slowly up to the stage, taking in the mess. "Did it wreck the show?"

Adam stared at him. "What?"

"Last night, when it didn’t work."

"It worked last night. The one in Venice was fine. This one was installed this morning."

"Oh. Right." Jonathan suddenly realized that he’d been wrong. There were two technical crews on the tour. The crew who had been in Venice would now be on their way to Amsterdam. He smiled, happily throwing his grey winter coat on the stage and stepping up on to the boards with renewed energy. Crouching down next to Adam, smiling conspiratorially, he reached around the back of the table on which the banana bowl had set and moved a couple of switches into their correct positions. "Now try."

The trick worked perfectly.

 

"Where would I be without you?" Adam led Jonathan through the labyrinth of corridors at the back of the theatre to the dressing rooms. "I’m sorry I wasn’t at the airport. We couldn’t stop the damn banana from going off."

"Don’t worry about it. The hotel’s fantastic, by the way."

"Is the room all right?"

"All right? It’s bigger than Maddy’s flat!"

Adam pushed open the door to his dressing room. A huge pile of photos on the dressing table awaited his signature, while a second pile of cards and gifts waited untouched. Opening the mini fridge he took a bottle of champagne and handed it to Jonathan.

"I just need to wash this banana off."

Pouring himself a glass of bubbly (Adam never drank before a show), Jonathan sat himself down and lifted Adam’s pen from the pocket of his jacket, flung over the back of one of the chairs, calling out, "Do you want these photographs signing?"

From the en suite bathroom, Adam answered, "You don’t have to, I didn’t fly you out here to work, despite what you might have thought."

Jonathan felt suddenly guilty. Sometimes it paid to remember that Adam wasn’t as callous and blind as he made himself out to be. "Sorry." He picked up the first twenty photos and started signing the signature he’d learned to fake years ago.

Adam stepped out of the en suite and saw Jonathan place a complete pile of photos on the dressing table, picking up another twenty. "You’re a star. Thank you."

"Hardly a difficult chore." Sitting sipping champagne and signing Adam’s photographs while his boss read through the reviews gathered by another member of the staff, Jonathan thought that on the whole he led an easy life. "Maddy wasn’t impressed, you flying me out here just for a night on the town."

Adam chuckled. "What is it that you’re in the middle of?"

"Oh, some disgruntled ex-employee of a posh hotel has been pulling off a few tricks with a surround sound system on a spooky staircase. Not a bad job, either. It’s given me a few ideas for the new season in London."

"Fantastic. I’d often wondered how you think up all this stuff."

He shrugged. "You know, it just... pops in there."


The show went without a hitch. The banana exploded on cue. Adam took three curtain calls and came away with enough underwear to open a boutique.

"What is it with women throwing their knickers?" he asked Jonathan as they went back to Adam’s dressing room. "Not that I’m complaining but...."

"They’re never your size?"

Adam smirked back as he took two bottles of chilled champagne from the fridge and handed one to Jonathan. Eyes sparkling, they popped the corks together, showering one another with fizz. The temperature in the room seemed to rise a notch as they chinked the bottles in mid-air.

"Welcome to Reykjavik."

Jonathan took a long swig of the champagne. He couldn’t believe how happy he was to be there. "I ought to tour with you more often."

"Yes! I always ask...."

"I know, I know." He turned as the door opened and Gayle and Mike danced in. Gayle immediately threw herself over Adam and his arm went around her as easily as usual.

"You two joining us for a night in the cold, dark city?"

Gayle giggled. "I’ve always wanted to come here. Got some great clubs my friends told me. I wouldn’t miss this for the world." She took the bottle from Adam’s hand and drank down a long swallow, passing it back to him. "We off then?"


Their first stop was a vodka bar that Mike had been to last time he’d visited the city. The place itself resembled the dining room of a public school. Jonathan, Gayle and Adam sat at the end of one long table while Mike went to the bar. He returned empty handed, but followed by a barman who placed a five-foot long plank of wood onto the wooden table in front of them. The plank contained a row of small shot glasses, each containing a double vodka shot of unidentified flavour.

 

They each chose a glass and counted to three. The vodka was downed and the glasses banged on the table. Adam almost spat his out.

"What the hell was that supposed to be?"

Next to him, Jonathan picked up the now empty glass and sniffed it. "Marmite?"

Mike frowned. "Didn’t see that flavour on the board." He shrugged. "Next?"

Six vodkas each later, Jonathan was ready for something that he could identify without having to drink it first. They moved on to the next bar.


"Ready?"

Jonathan grinned across, trying not to laugh. "Ready."

As one, he and Adam picked up the first glass in their own row of seven halves of mulled wine and started to drink. Racing down the rows, Jonathan beat Adam by one quarter of a glass. The crowd that had formed around them cheered and applauded. Sitting up on the bar behind Adam, Gayle linked her arms around his neck and gave him a commiseration kiss. Then she jumped down and stood in front of Jonathan to plant a smooch on his mouth that was long and deep. Responding automatically to a beautiful woman kissing him, Jonathan wrapped his arms around her and prolonged the contact, to the further amusement and joy of the crowd. Only when he glanced up, when he loosened his hold on her, did his eyes meet Adam’s and he saw the smouldering expression there. His body reacted fiercely to that and for a moment he was rooted where he stood.

Unknowingly breaking the tension, Mike strode in between them and put enough money down on the bar for a round of tall, cold lagers.


How Adam did it, Jonathan would never know. But by the time they’d reached the fifth bar – a noisier, brighter place called ‘Gallery’ – Gayle was all over Mike and her attentions were definitely being appreciated.

They left ‘Gallery’ at around two thirty am with Adam declaring he was exhausted. He had flown in from Venice that morning after all, and done two rehearsals and a live show. Together they wove their way back to the hotel, Gayle and Mike with their arms around one another, Adam and Jonathan close enough for each to be more than aware each other.

Once back at the hotel they waited for the other two to chose a room for the night, his or hers, before pausing between the door’s of their own rooms. Biting his bottom lip, Jonathan looked up into Adam’s face and knew that there wasn’t going to be a discussion. "Yours," he stated before the other could ask. "That way, I can leave when you’re asleep." Raising his eyebrows, he waited for a witty, alcohol-tempered response. But Adam simply smiled, nodded, and unlocked the door to his own room.

The moment the door closed, Jonathan pinned Adam against it, mouth finding his, tongue begging entrance. Adam dropped his room keys to the floor and wrapped his arms around the man who was trying to climb him. He deepened the kiss, outlining the contours of Jonathan’s mouth with his tongue. Fingers clawed into his back, not nearly hard enough for him, but with adequate pressure so as to convince Adam that Jonathan was as desperate for him now as he had been for Jonathan the last time.

Adam ended the kiss, tangling his fingers in the soft, curly hair at the back of his lover’s head, tonguing his way down over Jonathan’s jaw and neck, kissing his throat, basking in the moans of need that vibrated against his lips. Dumping their coats, removing outer layers of warm clothing as they went, they somehow made it to the bed. Adam unbuttoned Jonathan’s shirt, kissing the lean body as it was revealed to him. In turn, Jonathan was wrestling his way through Adam’s clothing to bare skin.

Clothes were thrown item by item onto the floor beside the bed. They kissed one another frantically at first, lips meeting chilled flesh as they wrapped around one another, hands exploring areas of interest. And then, as the warmth of the room and the fairly substantial volume of alcohol in their bloodstreams began to take effect, the excitement drained from them. Adam slowed first, alcohol and exhaustion combining to over-rule his lust until he simply fell asleep, lying on his side, face to face with Jonathan who smiled to himself before settling down on his back and letting his own body fall into blissful unconsciousness.

 

Only a couple of hours later, Adam woke. The body that had been spooned up behind him moved away and out from under the duvet they’d somehow managed to snuggle under. Sighing silently to himself, he lay still, his eyes remaining shut, while a door opened and closed. His first, defeated thought was the Jonathan had once again abandoned him in the darkness.

But a few minutes later he heard something else; a toilet flush, and that door opening and closing again. And then a warm body snuck back under the duvet and curled up behind him, pressing against him.

Slowly, he turned over, backing Jonathan up slightly, coming face to face with his colleague. "We fell asleep," he stated pointlessly.

Jonathan smiled, a little self-consciously. "You fell asleep first."

"I’m awake now." Leaning in hesitantly, Adam stole a kiss, watching Jonathan’s expression carefully when he pulled back.

"Me too." Closing the gap between them, he wrapped one leg over Adam’s, showing his lover just how awake he was. Adam moaned low in his throat and covered Jonathan’s mouth with his own.

In contrast to the frenzy of what they’d shared in the early hours of the morning, this kiss was slow and luxurious. Adam took his time, tracing the outline of Jonathan’s lips before dipping between them, stroking his tongue over the other’s in passing, kissing him deeply. After a time, Adam gently bit Jonathan’s bottom lip and began to kiss a path down his neck, taking the gold chain of Jonathan’s pendant between his teeth for a moment before letting go and continuing to his shoulders.

Bringing his hands up finally, Adam rolled his lover on to his back. Straddling Jonathan, Adam continued his exploration until he reached the left nipple when he locked his lips around the hardened flesh.

Jonathan arched up into the contact, hands reaching for the back of Adam’s head, urging him on. Experimentally, Adam bit down slightly, groaning in delight at Jonathan’s small cries of pleasure. Raising his head, he grinned, turning his face to kiss his lover’s palm as Jonathan’s hands framed his face for a second.

Jonathan gazed up, catching Adam’s hair between his fingers and holding him for a moment. "That night, at your place, I thought that was a one-night stand," he stated a little breathlessly.

Adam regarded him lopsidedly. "Only if you’d wanted it to be."

"What was it? For you."

"It was desire. It still is. I want you." He tried to read the impenetrable gaze. "Is that enough?"

A moment’s hesitation, and then a grin. "That’s plenty."

Relieved, Adam lowered his face to Jonathan’s chest again, this time assaulting the right nipple in a similar manner, enjoying every sound he easily coaxed from his lover. He bit again, harder this time, first one nipple then the other, listening carefully until he heard the first tinges of pain in Jonathan’s cries, finding the line at which pleasure turned into something darker.

Not wanting to cross that line quite yet, he relented, sitting up, moving until he could once again devour his lover’s willing mouth. Such an incredible kisser, Adam wondered what other skills those lips could be taught. Ending the kiss, licking Jonathan’s lips, he tried to gauge the expression on darkly framed face. Quietly, he whispered, "Am I your first?"

Jonathan immediately understood what he meant by it, and suddenly nervous he nodded quickly, trusting eyes meeting Adam’s heated regard. Adam leaned down once more, dipping his tongue into Jonathan’s mouth, sweeping its tip over teeth and gums before depriving his lover again.

In one motion, graceful despite the alcoholic fog still clouding his judgement, Adam moved up the bed until his knees rested either side of Jonathan’s head and his hard, substantial cock pressed to those full lips. He watched for some sign that Jonathan wasn’t willing to do this, but Jonathan closed his eyes and opened his mouth, not quite inviting, but at least submitting. Adam pushed himself inside, at first nudging his lover’s tongue, then when he felt the first suction, burying himself into Jonathan’s throat. Jonathan’s hands came up against his back, and a moment later fingernails scraped hard into his skin, raking down over his shoulder blades and spine. At the same time, Jonathan sucked hard on the cock almost choking him, surprising Adam into a shocking, fierce orgasm.

Before he knew it, Adam was coming down Jonathan’s throat, hard and desperate as if he hadn’t had sex in months. Jonathan’s fingers had attached themselves to his nipples, learning by mimicking, and the sensation turned Adam’s world black for a split second. When he opened his eyes, his lover was still sucking gently on his softening cock, and he sat up carefully, collapsing to one side.

"Jesus, Jonathan. I thought you’d never done this before."

Jonathan reached for his own almost painful erection, but hesitated. "I’m fairly good at working these things out." His expression was close to begging, and Adam could hardly deny him after that.

Turning, Adam coaxed Jonathan down the bed slightly and onto his side. Lightly pushing on the top leg leg, he persuaded Jonathan to bend his knee, placing his foot behind Adam’s head as his lover’s mouth closed on the base of his cock. Jonathan felt himself pressing at the back of Adam’s throat and he groaned something incoherent. Adam had done this before, and his experience had taught him an exquisite use of his throat muscles that brought Jonathan to a swift, prolonged climax. Adam swallowed as enthusiastically as his lover had done, milking the rapidly softening cock for everything it had to give before releasing it, mindful of the now painfully sensitive head.

Jonathan dropped on to his back, breathing heavily. When Adam’s arm draped over his chest, he found his lover’s hand and linked their fingers, each closing his hand over the other’s. Adam rested his head atop of Jonathan’s, hooked his leg over Jonathan’s thigh, and closed his eyes, breathing in the scent of their activities.

Just before he drifted into sleep, Jonathan felt a kiss placed into his damp hair, a gesture of affection that had nothing at all to do with sex. He thought perhaps he heard some words too, but so quietly spoken that he couldn’t make them out.


Jonathan’s flight back was at three thirty the following afternoon. They spent the morning at the theatre, arriving late but to no one’s surprise; they’d had a very late night getting drunk in the lively city. The rehearsal went perfectly, or at least, what Jonathan saw of it. Saying goodbye was going to be awkward, he knew. Saying good morning certainly had been. And so as Adam sealed Gayle into the ‘Queen of Hearts’ cabinet, Jonathan left a note in his employer’s dressing room and left the theatre, walking back to the hotel to grab his bag and call a taxi.

By the time Adam found the scrawled note, Jonathan was in the air, 28,000 feet up, his mind set defiantly on the puzzle that awaited him back in London.

 

‘Remember, the switches go to the left, not to the right. That way, it won’t go off in your hand. See you in a week. Love ya, J’


Standing at the top of Bode Manor’s magnificent staircase, Jonathan pointed out the small but powerful speakers set almost invisibly into the corners at the base of the walls. Two of the hotel’s owners, and five of its staff watched in relief as he went on to explain how surround sound can be used to give the impression that someone was moving across the landing.

One person watched in anger as his life’s work was reduced to simple electronic trickery by some young smart-arse who had nothing to do with anything.

"...it was fairly easy to believe that in a place like this, guests are more susceptible to ghost stories. Most people want to believe that there’s more to this existence than just the one life we know. Shadows can be cast be simply swinging a light shade. Late at night, in a house that’s already surrounded by stories of hauntings, put some vague shadows together with a very convincing sound effect, and a lot of people will see what their imaginations tell them they’re seeing. We want to believe in magic and we want to believe in ghosts. Even if there’s no such thing as either." He stood, dusting his hands off on his trousers. "And if it’s just sound effects, then someone is doing it on purpose. Someone with a reason to want to cause the hotel to lose customers. Someone with a grudge against the hotel owners perhaps?"

Hugo Bennett took a small side step, reaching into his jacket pocket and wrapping his fingers around the cold hard object he kept there.

"The usual reason for professional grudges is dismissal, when the employee believes he or she was innocent. And a rummage through the company’s records came up with only one possible candidate – someone who’d already been sacked from one hotel, who cooked up a new identity and a new CV and managed to get re-employed at this hotel, for the sole reason of getting his own back."

Maddy handed Jonathan two folded pieces of A4, which he opened.

"Two years ago, a cook who’d worked at the Sherston Hotel in Sandy for six years was sacked for allegedly spitting in the soup of a guest he detested. Two months ago, a new valet was taken on here." Jonathan held up two photocopied pictures, taken at different times, and obviously a couple of years apart, but very clearly of the same person.

Within the space of a second, Jonathan was grabbed from behind; a strong arm wrapping around his neck, tightening until he could barely draw a breath. And Hugo Bennett held a knife to his throat.


One Week Later

 

"Hi, guys." Adam greeted the stage crew that was already putting the equipment they’d taken on tour back into place. Amsterdam, Madrid and Lyon had all been wonderful, the shows running with technical perfection, but no city had been as incredible as Reykjavik. None held quite the same quality of memory.

"Adam! Hi!" Tim, their technical director, jumped down off the stage. "How’d it all go? Rave reviews, we’ve been hearing." He grinned madly at his boss; somehow Adam always made successes belong to them all. Mind you, he did the same with failures too.

"Absolutely. Heavenly. Especially Reykjavik. Fantastic audiences, fantastic cities." He looked around. "Is Jonathan in yet?"

Tim’s face fell. "You haven’t heard?"

Adam felt something catch inside him. All those unanswered phone calls suddenly queued up in his memory. "Heard what?"

"Oh, man. He and... that friend of his - Maddy? They’d been looking into this ghost story at a hotel down south. They cornered this guy who’d been up to something and he freaked out. He grabbed Jonathan and held a knife to his throat. Apparently he dragged him out to the car park and when they got close to the car he slashed Jonathan’s throat."

Adam went white. "Oh my God...."

Tim reached out instinctively to steady his employer. "He’s okay.... The papers said that Maddy sat with her hand tight to his throat while they called for an ambulance. Said there was blood everywhere." He pulled a face. "The guy drove off and smashed into a tree or something, killed himself."

"When... when was all this?"

"Last Friday, I think. He’s out of hospital now. A few of us visited. We sent a card, flowers, big fluffy rabbit..."


"I wish you’d sit down, you’re supposed to be taking it easy." Maddy crossed her arms, giving Jonathan one of her ‘hard stare’ specials.

He returned fire with the puppy dog look that always melted her. "I’m only making a pot of tea."

"This morning you were only washing the dishes." But she couldn’t stay angry with him for more than a couple of seconds. Just seeing him up and about was a relief.

 

The first afternoon in the hospital had been a nightmare. Jonathan had lost an awful lot of blood. He’d lain in a small cubicle in the A&E department of the Guildford Royal Infirmary, deathly pale, an on-going transfusion of fresh blood being drained into him. The doctor tried to reassure Maddy that her friend was in no danger of losing his life; he was strong and healthy. But she fretted anyway, drinking more coffee in two hours than she usually would in a week.

She’d eventually called Barry – her publisher – and he’d driven down from London to be with her. And they’d waited. Twelve hours after being rushed into the hospital, Jonathan was eventually found a bed and was moved into a ward. The painkillers they’d given him made him woozy, and it was several hours after that when he woke, stable enough that the doctors finally allowed the police to speak to him.

 

"Go back to your writing," Jonathan told her patiently. "I’ll bring your tea up."

She sighed, giving him a stare of mock-anger, and then went back upstairs to where she had her computer set up in his living room. No way was she going to try to write this latest chapter of her new book on his antique typewriter.

Jonathan was just pouring the tea when there was a fairly desperate knock at the door. He heard Maddy call down from upstairs, but he shouted back that he was okay.

Upon opening the door, Jonathan set his eyes on Adam, standing there, shifting from foot to foot. When Adam saw Jonathan, he breathed a deep sigh of relief before stepping forward to gather his consultant into his arms.

Jonathan winced as the skin around his healing wound was stretched, but he went smiling into the embrace, folding his right arm between them but managing to wrap his left around Adam’s waist.

"I’m okay," he tried to reassure. But he could feel the other tighten his hold, and he knew this would just take a little time.

Maddy stopped on the third step from the top, watching the touching reunion for a few moments before silently turning and leaving them alone for a few minutes.

"Tim told me...."

"I’m sorry. They only released me late yesterday evening. I wasn’t sure what time you were getting back…." Very gently, he pulled back, inviting Adam in.

Sitting at the kitchen table was a huge blue and white cuddly rabbit with long floppy ears. Jonathan smiled when he saw Adam frowning. "From the guys at the theatre. Mike brought it over to the hospital." He shut up, watching Adam’s face as glistening green eyes moved to stare at the dressing around the front of his throat.

"Was it... really as bad as Tim said?"

Jonathan shrugged, "It all happened so fast…. He only managed to nip the artery with the tip of the blade. They said two millimetres to the left and I’d have been dead. I was lucky." For a second they looked at one another. Then Jonathan ducked out of the intense regard and went back to the kettle. "Coffee?"

"Jonathan…." Adam followed him over to the work surface. "What happened?"

"I told you about the guy who’d been pulling a ‘Scooby Doo’ on the guests at this hotel to put it out of business?" Adam nodded. "Well, he had some grudge against the owners ‘cause they’d sacked him from another of their hotels. Unfortunately, he turned out to be a bit of a madman. I did the old ‘wrap up’ routine and suddenly he grabbed me and put a knife to my throat." Jonathan boiled the kettle again, finding the coffee in the cupboard. "We got out into the car park and he must have decided that I was too much trouble."

"Oh God…."

He picked up a teaspoon, but didn’t get much further. Adam’s hand on his arm made him pause and look up. This time when Adam reached for him, he put both his arms around his friend, wrapping them around Adam’s waist as in turn he was held.

"You can’t scare me like that," Adam murmured firmly. "I can’t lose you. What would I do without you?"

There was no real answer, and for a while they just stood together in silence. Not one to usually show his emotions, Adam needed to be sure that everything really was all right, that his life wasn’t going to be turned upside down out of his control.

What Maddy saw then, when she padded quietly down into the kitchen, could have been two close friends reassuring one another after a scare. She was touched. For a long time she hadn’t been sure that Adam cared about Jonathan at all, but recently she’d been witness to a few simple displays of affection that had forced her to change her opinion of the American. Mind you, they had been through their fair share of crisis lately.

Stepping away, smiling self-consciously, Jonathan spooned some coffee granules into a mug and boiled the kettle for the third time. It took a few seconds to reheat, and he finally managed to finish making the tea. As he handed the mug of coffee to Adam, he purposely brushed his fingers over those of the other. "How was the rest of the tour?"

"Fantastic." Adam returned the slight gesture, neither of them aware of being watched. "You should have had someone phone me."

Jonathan cocked his head to one side, his usual affectionate expression playing across his features. "Why? What could you have done?"

"Worried?"

He shook his head and glanced up. When he saw Maddy standing on the stairs, his only reaction was to apologize about her tea taking so long and to take her mug over to her.

The three of them took the remaining seats at the kitchen table. Adam looked sceptically again at the rabbit that occupied the fourth chair. "The guys at the theatre really bought you this?"

Jonathan nodded, smiling. "The nurses loved it."

Adam raised his eyebrows, but said nothing.

"Sorry I almost got your consultant killed," Maddy volunteered into the growing silence.

Adam saw the smile on Jonathan’s face; obviously they’d already had the conversation relinquishing her of any blame. "I doubt either of you could have predicted what was going to happen."

"No. Out of all the criminals we’ve outed, he was the first one to go crazy on us." Jonathan sipped his tea. "I never expected someone who’d gone to such incredible lengths to set up what was a fantastically elaborate trick to be the kind of person that would go for my throat with a switchblade."

Adam shook his head. "It’s always the quiet ones."


Much later that night, with Maddy fast asleep in Jonathan’s bed, Jonathan and Adam watched the stars from the balcony of the windmill.

"It’s really something out here," Adam murmured with quiet appreciation as he stepped behind Jonathan, where he stood leaning on the railing, and wrapped his arms around the slim waist. Resting the side of his face against the dark curls, he told his friend, "I wish you’d be more careful with this sideline of yours."

Jonathan leaned back into the unexpected contact, relishing – to his surprise – the comfort and strength of Adam’s embrace. "You can talk. What you do isn’t exactly risk-free is it? As you proved."

For a time they just stood together, Jonathan’s hands drifting to rest on Adam’s arms where they circled him. He finally broke the peaceful silence, "Thank you for Reykjavik."

Adam hummed softly. "I found your note. I thought… I might have gone too far, that night, what we did…."

"We were both still drunk," Jonathan murmured, non-committal.

"So you do think we went too far?"

There was a hint of regret in Adam’s voice that touched Jonathan. He turned his head to look up into the dark eyes gazing down at him. "This is new, Adam. I never expected this, least of all with you." He dropped his head back against Adam’s shoulder, looking up at the clear night sky. "What do you want out of this?"

Adam closed his eyes, resisting the urge to declare his feelings, still so unsure whether he could trust them. How many times had he told Jonathan, ‘This one’s the real thing, I can feel it, her smile lights up my life.’? How many times had he been wrong? Why hadn’t he mentioned the young woman who had been his volunteer for ‘Psycho’ in Lyon? Or the two girls who had recognized him on the street in Madrid last Wednesday afternoon? Did he expect Jonathan to be jealous? How would he feel if he were to leave now, knowing that Jonathan would go up and climb into bed with Maddy? What did he want out of this?

The resulting long silence amused Jonathan. "You couldn’t really call either of us experts at this relationship thing, could you?" He turned from Adam’s arms, leaning back against the metal railing, smiling. "We’ve always been good together whatever we’ve tried. We’ve just added something to our repertoire, that’s all."

Adam’s smile lit his face. "I like that."

"Good. Now get out of here and let me get some sleep." Jonathan watched as Adam pulled a face. "Unless you’re after a threesome…."

Stepping back, the American raised a halting hand. "No. Thank you." But he lingered, basking in the affection expressed on his friend’s shadowed face. "I do love you, Jonathan," he said quietly, "you must know that."

Blushing, although the other couldn’t see it in the darkness, Jonathan nodded. "But thanks for reminding me."

 

Out in front of the windmill, they stood beside Adam’s little-used BMW, Jonathan with his hands in his pockets, Adam playing with his car keys.

"Theatre tomorrow? Ten?"

Adam sighed. "Jonathan, you’re supposed to be resting, recuperating, remember?"

"I’m fine. And we need to start going through ideas for the new season." Jonathan’s hopeful determination wasn’t going to be defeated, and the truth was that Adam wanted his consultant to be around. He nodded, unlocking the car and opening the door. In the next moment, he turned and met Jonathan’s kiss half way.

As the American’s arms wrapped around him, Jonathan pressed himself into the hard body, his own arms going around Adam’s neck as his mouth welcomed the probing tongue. He moaned into the kiss, aware of his body reacting to the intimate touch and of Adam’s reaction pressing against his own.

Both were too wrapped up in each other to notice their audience on the balcony above. She’d had her suspicions, of course, but having them confirmed in so definite a way…. Her own, involuntary reaction surprised her. It wasn’t a sight she was going to forget in a hurry.

With hellish difficulty Jonathan ended the kiss, breathing hard against Adam’s neck. He stayed there, held tightly, wanting nothing more at that moment than to spend the night in Adam’s arms. When he did step back, he steadied himself against the top of the car door. "Go." Adam nodded, but still he hesitated. Jonathan read the look in his eyes and understood perfectly. "I want you to stay too."

Adam nodded, before he climbed into the car and pulled the door closed. He watched his friend back up slightly, and started the engine. Pulling forward, he tore his eyes from Jonathan and didn’t look back as he tooled the BMW out of the gate and onto the road.

Arms wrapped around himself, Jonathan stood and watched until the rear lights of the car vanished from sight. He sighed, eyes dropping to stare at the ground for a while, buried in his thoughts, until something made him look up and back. There was no one on the balcony, but he felt sure that there had been.

Finally, he stepped back inside the windmill and closed the front door. As he headed for the stairs he saw the white envelope sitting on the kitchen table, and a long stemmed red rose lying horizontally over it. Frowning, he switched on the kitchen light and lifted the flower, holding it carefully, wondering where the hell it had come from. Finally, he picked up the envelope and opened it.

‘Amazing, isn’t it? Maybe you’ll make a true conjurer of me yet. By the way, you were wrong, it goes off in my hand every time I think about you. Love ya, A.’

 

fin part II

elfin

28.01.00


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