Unconditional
By Sioux

Fandom : The Bill
Pairing : Ashton/Gilmore
Rating : NC17
Archive : Britslash, anyone else please ask.

Feedback : Gratefully received at Sioux_s@hotmail.com

Spoilers : Possible for future episodes of The Bill

Disclaimer : Don't own the characters and not making a penny off them!


 

Unconditional

 

By Sioux

 

Ashton gripped the carrier bag more firmly and tried to work up the courage
to get out of the car. Sergeant Gilmore had been discharged from hospital
two days ago and was due back at work in two more days if his health
continued to improve. He'd lost a lot of blood when a couple of hoodlums
had decided that coppers were perfect targets for their extra sharpened
knives. The cut on his ankle hadn't looked that serious until it started
pouring blood. Klein had stopped the bleeding with pressure until the
ambulance had arrived whilst Young and Ashton had managed to arrest the
pair. Now here he was, bringing gifts to a man he knew fancied him like mad
and who he had tried his best to hurt. He did like Gilmore. Alright, to be
honest he did more than like Gilmore, he wanted to get into the man's pants
more than anything else, despite the fact he was still sexually involved
with Kerry Young. Gilmore fascinated him in a way that Kerry didn't. He
could drown in those dark eyes and he already knew just how kissably soft
his lips were. Perhaps that was all this attraction was. If he had sex
with Gilmore, his curiosity would be satisfied and he would be OK. He could
go back to Kerry with a light heart and never have to wonder what he might
be missing.

He'd never, ever thought he might be gay, but when he'd met Gilmore he'd
been conscious of a frisson between them, a feeling of always wanting the
other man's approval. For a while he'd put it down to the fact Gilmore was
his superior officer but deep down he knew it was more than that.
Especially after he'd been called to a 'domestic' and found Craig and his
now ex-boyfriend arguing. He'd really been uncomfortable when Gilmore had
tried to thank him for his discretion on the domestic incident. Or was it
more uncomfortable because he didn't want Gilmore grateful, he wanted him
needy. Needy for him, to be specific. Then when he had got him like that
he'd run straight into the arms of Kerry Young. Maybe he just didn't know
what he wanted at all. After the unpleasant way he'd treated Gilmore he
wouldn't be surprised if the man kicked him off his doorstep. As for his
intention to seduce him, well, he wasn't making any promises about lasting
relationships. He just wanted to satisfy his curiosity and, hopefully, put
an end to his fascination with the older man. Ashton had done some
research, mainly via the internet, and knew anal sex was likely to hurt the
first few times, especially if the dominant partner was inexperienced.
Craig Gilmore was sexually experienced and Ashton knew, in some indefinable
way, that Craig would never intentionally hurt him. One part of his mind
berated him for his callous use of Craig's attachment, whilst another part
felt justified in using him like that. They would both get what they
wanted. Hell! Gilmore might not want to go near him again after the first
time. It wasn't as if he was likely to be the best lay Gilmore had ever had.

Luke checked the contents of his jacket pocket for the umpteenth time. A
small tube of expensive, flavoured lubricant and half a dozen 'Extra Safe'
durex tumbled around his questing fingers. He tried to reason with his
conscience by thinking all he was attempting to do was find out what he
wanted to know and then walk away to get on with the rest of his life with
his curiosity satisfied. What was wrong with that?


Taking a deep breath Luke got out of the car and walked across to Gilmore's house. He knocked and waited, until Gilmore had opened the door.

"Luke?"

"Hi Craig. I was just passing and thought I'd drop in and see how you were
doing!"

To say Gilmore looked surprised would be an understatement, especially in
the light of some of their previous conversations.

"That was kind of you, Luke. I'm fine," Gilmore replied, sounding very
uncertain. He waited curiously.

"That's good. Yeah, umm that's good. Umm. I brought you this as well,"
Ashton mumbled, pressing the carrier bag covered bottle at him.

"Oh! That was nice of you. Thank you."
Gilmore took the bag off and saw a very decent bottle of red wine. "This is
nice. Thank you very much!" he replied, quite flattered.

"I don't really know much about wines. The lady in the shop helped me to
pick it out," Ashton replied, honestly.

Gilmore smiled. He really had gone to some trouble to get him a present.
"Do you like drinking wine?" Gilmore asked.

"Well, yeah, sometimes."

"Come in then. You can help me drink it."

A huge smile graced Ashton's face as he followed Gilmore's limping figure
into the house.

Graig didn't bother switching on the main light, just made do with the light
from the cooker hood while he opened the bottle, took out two nice wine
glasses from a cupboard in his kitchen and filled them with the ruby liquid.
Luke was hovering behind him uncertainly. He passed a glass across to
Luke and took a sniff then a sip from his own glass. The flavour was as
wonderful as the bouquet had promised.

"Is it OK?" Luke asked anxiously.

"It's very nice Luke, thank you," Gilmore replied sincerely watching the
younger man over the top of his glass.

Even in the fairly dim light he could see Ashton was very nervous and
agitated, that much was obvious. He wondered what was really behind the
gift and the visit. After Luke had kissed him in his office then told him
he had been trying to make a fool out of him, they hadn't exactly enjoyed
the closest of relationships. He leaned back against the sink, taking some
of the strain from his ankle, while he watched Luke's eyes wander all over
the small kitchen.

"Do you want to go through?" Craig suggested. His ankle was aching and he
wanted to sit down in comfort.

"Pardon?" Luke stammered.

"Do you want to go through to the lounge and sit down?" Craig repeated
slowly and helpfully. The long silence was becoming uncomfortable. At
least the telly was on in the other room and that would alleviate some of
the tense quietude until he could either find out what Luke really wanted or
he could encourage him to leave.

Craig levered himself away from the sink but misjudged how much his ankle
was prepared to take. It let him down suddenly and he fell against the
kitchen table. Wine slopped out of his glass across the wood as he fought
to right himself. A pair of strong arms steadied him, getting him upright
again.

"Must be stronger than I thought," Craig said, laughing then saw how close
Ashton was standing. He took a step backwards and came up against the edge
of the sink. Ashton followed his every move. Suddenly Craig was feeling a
little trapped. Luke's brown eyes looked huge in the dim light and as they
were less than a few inches away from his own he had perfect visibility on
his dilated pupils too. Luke stroked the side of Craig's face gently,
feeling the slight stubble under his palm. He moved in, intending to kiss
Gilmore but Gilmore turned his head away so Luke ended up kissing his cheek
instead of his lips.

"Luke! What the hell do you think you're doing?" Gilmore asked sharply.

Ashton was kissing his cheek and moving down to his neck, pushing the collar
of his grey shirt out of the way. A distinctive clink as Ashton set his
wineglass down on the draining board warned Gilmore that he meant business.
Then he leant in close, pressing his body hard against Craig, whilst
relieving Craig of his glass. Craig's eyes widened as he felt the stiffness
press against his own groin.

"Luke?"

"I want you," Luke murmured diving in to kiss him again. This time Craig
was so surprised he didn't read his intention. Ashton kissed him hard with
all the fervour at his command. Despite his reservations, for a few seconds
Craig responded, happily sucking on the wet, demanding invader in his mouth.
A soft moan escaped from Ashton. Craig pushed the younger man back and
held him angrily against the kitchen table.

"What is this, Luke? Some new way to make a fool out of me?"

"No!"

"Well what are you playing at? You've already made it crystal clear you
were taking the mick last time your tried this trick. So what is it this
time? See if you can make the queer believe you twice in a row?"

"No! It's not like that, I swear."

"You swear? Does Kerry know you’re here? Perhaps I should just ring her and
tell her."

"We're not together any more," Luke burst out, wondering at the same time
where the ready lie had come from. As far as Kerry was concerned they were
very much together.

"When did this happen?" Gilmore asked suspiciously.

"A couple of days ago. We decided to be just friends."

"You decided to just be friends with the heroine of Wells Road? The woman
whom you announced to Inspector Gold you were in love with?"

Said like that, it didn't seem very likely. He'd sung Kerry's praises from
the rooftops when she'd brought the incident in Wells Road to a bloodless
conclusion, despite his interference.

"Well?" Craig asked.

"What do you want me to say? She doesn't want a steady relationship."
Luke mentally winced at the lie. Kerry was all for a steady relationship.

So you've been without for a couple of days and you thought you'd try the
other side of the fence. See what you might be missing."

Luke flinched. That was too near the truth.

"Well, I'm not interested in bedding Kerry Young's leftovers and I don't
think you are really interested in me. I think you'd better take your wine
and leave," Gilmore continued.

Luke quickly took Gilmore's hand and pressed to his groin.

"Does that feel like I'm not interested?" he asked softly, noticing for the
first time how out of breath they both sounded.

The heat from the other man's palm penetrated his trousers and felt
wonderful. Unconsciously Luke pushed his erection harder against Craig's
hand.

"Oh Craig!" he muttered, his eyes flickering closed as that talented hand
started to rub him through his denims.

He leaned in again tracing a pathway of butterfly kisses along Craig's neck
up to his jaw, whilst his hands were very busy undoing the buttons on his
shirt. He pushed the material aside to reveal a lightly furred chest.
Licking and kissing across the surface until he encountered a nipple. He
swirled his tongued around the nub, and sucked, raising the flesh proud,
then he bit down sharply, immediately soothing it again with his lips and
tongue. His busy hands moved to the buttons of Craig's jeans, making short
work of the task and pushing down jeans and underwear in one, taking care
not to crush his cock. He wrapped his fist around the engorging flesh,
gently masturbating him. The thought that this was the first time he had
ever touched another man's erection crossed his mind. Luke opened his eyes
taking in the sight in front of him. Craig's eyes were closed, his neck
stretched and chest heaving. The patch of dark hair between his nipples
faded to an arrow line of hair down his belly to his groin to thicken into a
normal pelt, like any other man. His cock held loosely in Luke's hand felt
burning hot and hard. A dusky rose velvet rod stretched over steel. Luke
momentarily let go of his prize. He quickly shrugged out of his jacket,
then his polo shirt, lastly unbuttoning and pushing down his jeans and
briefs and kicking them off, along with his shoes. He reached out again
for Craig, dropping to his knees to worship. A faint tang of sweat prickled
his nose, along with a fruity scent of soap. He nuzzled the heated erection
and rubbed his cheek along its length. Tentatively he put his lips to the
end and kissed him there, moving his foreskin back and taking a swipe at the
drop of precum forming. Salty and at last a taste of the man himself.
Wanting to identify the taste Luke took him into his mouth, sucking strongly
wanting more of the elusive flavour. A cry from above reached his ears
before he was hauled to his feet and then pushed back across the kitchen
table. Desperate lips fastened on to his, kissing him with ardour and
strength. Fingers pinched and rolled his nipples making him arch his back
into the rough touch. Greedily he sucked on the tongue which thrust into
his mouth. Then the wonderful mouth left his and was attaching itself to one
of his reddened sensitive nipples. Craig suckled at him hard, his lower
body moving rthymically, trapping both their erections between them.
Blindly Luke thrust up against both sets of stimulation, the sweat springing
up on his skin allowing him to slide against Craig. Craig moved across and
applied his expert attention to his other nipple, taking Luke to a higher
plane of pleasure. Craig could feel himself climbing higher and higher but
at the same time wanting to slow down and prolong this as much as possible.
Craig kissed him again hard then abruptly moved down his body to engulf his
cock. The sudden wet warmth was almost too much for Luke. His hips left the
table top as Craig suckled as strongly on his throbbing cock as he had on
his nipples. Luke yelled inarticulately, his body writhing in extreme
delight.

"Craig! Oh god Craig! Craig! I'm going to come, I'm going to come."

Craig sucked him hard again, his head bobbing as he efficiently brought Luke
to the bring of orgasm and kept him there, pressing against a spot on his
perinium to delay him coming. Luke almost screamed. With his heart
thundering against his ribs and his brain on fire Luke wasn't sure he was
going to survive this king of blowjobs he was getting. He couldn't think or
speak, he could only moan his appreciation as Craig stopped him twice more
when he was on the verge. A hand wiped away the sweat pouring down his face
as a husky voice whispered in his ear.

"Do you want to come?"

He nodded breathlessly.

"Do you want to come in my hand or my mouth?"

Luke groaned. He expected him to speak?

"Luke, sit up a bit," the insidious voice whispered.

Beyond questioning anything Luke hauled his upper body up and leaned back on
his elbows, taking in the amazing sight of Craig's wonderfully shaped lips
moving smoothly down over the head of his cock, his dark brown eyes closing
in apparent ecstasy. That was all it took to send him over the edge. He
heard himself crying out as his orgasm reduced him to a quivering, mindless
mass. A little later he opened his eyes, his breathing beginning to return
to normal, to find Craig leaning over him, observing him, almost clinically.
He smiled up at him and put a hand to the back of his neck, lazily pulling
him nearer so he could kiss him. Craig tasted a little different but
somehow familiar then he realised he was tasting himself in the other man's
mouth. He moaned, surprised at how erotic he found that thought. Craig
pulled back to look at him.

"You let me come in your mouth," Luke said dreamily.

Craig nodded. "You seemed to enjoy it," he remarked, dryly.

Luke traced the shaped of his swollen lips with the tips of his fingers.
"That was amazing!" he said reverently before going back to kissing Craig.
A hardness digging into his thigh and the movement of Craig's hand brought
another idea to mind. He reached down to stop Craig touching himself.

"No, don't"

"Luke!" Craig snapped, pushed beyond endurance.

"Fuck me!" he demanded.

"What?"

"Fuck me, come inside me."

"No!"

"Why not?"

"Because I'm not going to last long enough!"

Luke struggled up, pushing Craig back against the cold metal of the sink.
He flinched as it touched the flesh of his back. Luke was on his knees in
front of him, licking him from root to crown, blowing a stream of cool air
along the wet trail. Stretching his lips he took in as much as he could,
holding Craig's hips in place, sucking hard enough to hollow his cheeks.
Craig rested his hands on Luke's shoulders watching the younger man's dark
head moving above his groin. He was obviously inexperienced at giving head
but what he lacked in technique he more than made up for in enthusiasm. The
display alone was instrumental in bringing him to his own climax. He tried
to pull Luke away but he wouldn't be moved. From far away he watched
himself spasm and almost sob his pleasure.

Craig came back to something approaching normality to find he was being held
tightly and a warm head was resting against his shoulder. Both of them were
still shaking a little. When he felt movement Luke looked up into his face and smiled. He looked rumpled, sweaty, red faced and well fucked. In short
he looked wonderful to Craig. He smiled back as Luke tried to move
impossibly closer to him. A twitch against his leg caught his notice.

"I don't believe you!" he whispered incredulously.

"Your fault," Luke murmured against his lips.

"How so?" Craig asked when he finished kissing him.

"You looked fantastic when you came. I wanted you again."

Craig smiled as he said.

"Well, you’re going to have to wait. I'm not in my twenties, I take a bit longer."

Luke smiled as he nuzzled his neck.

"Will you come inside me this time?"

"I thought I just did," Craig replied, his eyes closed not really thinking
about what he'd just been asked, then the penny dropped and his eyes opened
wide.

"Are you sure?"

Luke looked into his eyes and nodded.

"You've never done this before, are you certain you know what you're
asking?"

He nodded again and swallowed hard.

"Well first of all, we're going to do this in bed! My ankle isn't going to
stand another knee trembler."

Luke laughed out loud.

"You take the wine up. It's first door on your right at the top of the
stairs. I'll be there in a minute," Craig said briskly

They pulled on their underwear and jeans. While Luke padded off upstairs
with both glasses and the bottle, Craig went to lock up and switch the
television off. He checked the front door, switched off the lights in the
lounge and went back through to the kitchen to check the back door. He
noticed Luke's jacket and shirt on the floor and picked them up. As he did
so something fell out of his jacket pocket onto the kitchen floor. Craig
bent to pick up the familiar little packet. Guiltily looking around he went
through the jacket pockets pulling out the lube and the rest of the condoms.
Luke had arrived here very prepared for sex by the look of this little
lot. Thoughtfully Craig turned off the light and made his way upstairs.

Luke had made himself at home and was lying in his bed, sipping at the wine.
Craig checked at the threshold. The bedside light shone softly on his
skin. He looked absurdly young and so very desirable.

"Craig, what's wrong?" Luke asked, seeing the expression on his face.

"I picked up your jacket and something fell out of the pocket." He pressed
the wrapped condom into Luke's hand. "You came here intending to have sex,
didn't you?"

Luke dropped his eyes and nodded.

"I don't understand you. You could have had sex with me ages ago. After
you kissed me in my office, but you ran to Kerry Young's bed instead. So
why are you here now? Because you split up?"

"No, not because we split up. Back then, when I…when I kissed you. I was
frightened to admit it, even to myself."

"Admit what?"

"That I fancied my male sergeant. I've never looked at another bloke like
that before. I didn't know what to think. So I went for what I knew, a
woman," he paused in his impassioned outburst before asking quietly. "Do you
want me to go?"

"Do you want to go?"

"No."

"That's alright then," Craig said with a smile and a kiss. "Don't be afraid
of being what you are Luke," he said, quickly stripping off his jeans and
sliding under the duvet with him.

Luke immediately went into his arms. Craig wrapped him in a warm, accepting
hug.

"How old were you when you knew you were gay?"

"About fourteen, I suppose."

"You figured it out a bit quicker than me!" Luke said ruefully.

"You're not gay, Luke."

"What?" Luke asked, raising his head to look into his eyes. "We've just had
sex on your kitchen table and now I'm in bed with you, what do you call that
if not gay?"

"You're bisexual. You fancy women as well," he said gently, stroking Luke's
hair.

"Haven't you ever looked at a woman?"

"Not like that. I like women, just not sexually."

Luke considered the reply for a moment, before planting a lingering kiss on
Craig's chest. He rolled onto his back, pulling Craig over him like a human
blanket. The hot weight felt very right somehow, as if this is what he'd
been missing all his life. His lips fastened onto Craig's, kissing, sucking
and licking gently, slowly building the passion.

After a few minutes Craig turned them on their sides, his hands beginning a
slow and thorough exploration of his new lover's body. He stroked Luke's
back, soothingly, each time moving nearer to his peachy bum. He kneaded the
taut globes, filling his hands with smooth flesh, driving Luke into a frenzy
of vicious, nipping kisses. Craig pulled Luke's thigh across his hip,
stroking along the back of his thigh and onto his buttock from the other
direction. Immediately he felt a shiver go through him, leaving him tense
where before he'd been pleasantly relaxed. Craig, realising he had a very
nervous virgin on his hands, moved his stroking to the muscles along his
shoulders finding he was almost hunched with tension here too. It crossed
his mind to leave full intercourse for another time but when he pulled back
to look into Luke's eyes, all he saw was a glazed look of lust about him.

"How do you want me?" Luke asked hoarsely.

'Anyway I can have you,' a voice in Craig's mind answered.

"Luke, this isn't a good idea. You're so tense this is going to hurt and I
don't want to hurt you."

Luke's eyes lost a lot of their glaze.

"You don't really want me, do you?"

"Of course I do. But it's going to hurt."

"I want this. I want to feel you inside me."

Craig sighed and leant his head against Luke's forehead before he said
softly,

"Turn over then."

Luke turned onto his stomach, then pulled a pillow under his face to lean
on. Craig threw the duvet back and rummaged in the drawer of the bedside
table. Luke lifted his head up. Three or four dildos rattled about in the
drawer, sharing space with wrapped packets of condoms, tubes and small
bottles. He took out two of the bottles and placed them next to the lube
Luke had brought with him. Luke put his head back down and closed his eyes,
mentally preparing himself for penetration. He heard the top of a bottle
being unscrewed then Craig straddled his thighs. He got a shock when a
stream of cool liquid dribbled across his shoulders and down his spine then
he felt a warm hand spreading the liquid evenly.

"What are you doing?"

"What does it feel like I'm doing?" Craig asked, his Welsh accent very
pronounced.

He put his weight behind massaging along Luke's tense shoulders and down his
back. Luke groaned as the knots were loosed until his muscles felt open and
flowing.

"Oh that's good!"

Craig didn't say a word, concentrating on his task. He replenished the oil
and moved lower down, digging into the small of his back, hips and buttocks.

A thin stream of oil trickled into the cleft and then down over his balls,
tickling him. He laughed quietly.

"That feels odd," Luke said.

"Mmm."

Craig ran his index finger along the back of his scrotum tracing the path of
the oil in reverse. He let his fingertip linger over the puckered anus then
moved away. Luke didn't even twitch. A calculating look entered Craig's
eyes as he bent over and applied the tip of his tongue to the rosy pucker,
entering the channel behind. A strangled gasp sounded from the body
underneath him as Luke's upper body rose from the bed in utter surprised
pleasure. Craig leisurely continued his progress, pointing his tongue and
thrusting delicately inside, then going back to long swipes with the flat of
his tongue.

"'Bet no-one told you about that!" he said silkily a few minutes later.

Luke, gasping like a stranded boneless fish, could only shake his head.

Gently Craig worked the tip of a finger inside, patiently working the digit
back and forth until he could work a second one in beside the first.
Cautiously he pushed in deeper, watching for any sign of pain. A frown
crossed Luke's face but that was all. As he withdrew, he curled his fingers
to brush along the lump of Luke's prostrate gland. He was rewarded with
another sharp gasp of unexpected pleasure.

"Ahh, do that again!" Luke demanded.

Craig smiled, well satisfied, as he worked more lube in and added another
finger, making sure he kept hitting the pleasure button inside. When the
litany of his name grew in volume Craig judged his bedmate was more than
ready for the next step. Carefully he rolled on a condom then lay down at
the side of Luke, pulling the other man onto his side so he was facing his
back. He pushed Luke's top leg forward, fitting his own leg directly
behind. Deftly he guided his cock into his prepared hole, pushing in
slowly, the muscles opening and then gripping him like a tight, hot fist.
They both groaned at the sensation. Craig had to stop a minute before he
lost it completely and began thrusting hard. He held Luke's hip so he
couldn't move either.

"You OK?" he whispered.

Luke nodded, way beyond speech.

Craig withdrew and then pushed further in, then pulled back again, each time
going deeper and deeper until Luke had all of him. He stopped to regain
some measure of his control trying to think of anything but being deeply
embedded in the beautiful body in front of him. Carefully he manoeuvred his
body, changing the angle so his cockhead would hit the right spot inside.
Experimentally he gave a short thrust. Luke didn't make a sound. Craig
moved around a little more and did it again, then again. The fourth attempt
was greeted with a cry. Bingo! Craig carried on hitting that little spot,
the cries becoming more breathless and the litany of "Oh God, oh god,"
changing to 'Don't stop, don't stop, oh please don't stop." Luke's voice
nearly sobbing out each phrase and his hips pushing back hard to meet his
thrusting from behind which made Craig's self-possession very problematic
indeed. Reaching around he took hold of Luke's cock, pulling back his
foreskin, swirling his thumb across the slit and then roughly pumping him in
time with his pistoning hips. Luke's hand wrapped around his, increasing
the pressure until with a long drawn out yell he came, spilling his seed
over their joined hands. The intense grip of his internal muscles squeezing
Craig unmercifully and tearing a mind numbing orgasm from him seconds later.

They lay panting in the same position for a few minutes until Craig shifted
slightly, his softened organ slipping from Luke's body. He took the used
condom off and dropped it over the side of the bed and went back to holding
Luke's totally sated body against his.

"You alright?" he whispered.

Making a supreme effort Luke turned in his arms, resting his head against
the hollow of his shoulder and moulding the rest of his body to Craig's
side, pushing a thigh between his thighs.

"More than alright," he whispered.

Craig held him close, his heart full of gratitude to whichever deity had
granted this wish. They lay together like that for a long time, neither
speaking, until the sweat had dried on their bodies and they were getting
cold. Craig shifted around and pulled the duvet around them both. Luke
snuggled in again to his side, his breathing gradually evening out and
becoming deeper.

Luke woke first throwing back the duvet feeling contented and mellow but far
too hot. Then he remembered whose bed he was in. Turning his head slightly
he looked at the sleeping face on the pillow beside him. Craig's normally
neat hair was sticking up in all directions, dark stubble decorating his
face added to the rough, tough appearance but Luke knew better. He'd
expected Craig to know what he was doing with regard to gay sex but he
hadn't expected the tenderness, respect and consideration he'd been shown.
He'd assumed male sex would be a little rough and perhaps lacking the social
niceties but he was wrong, at least here. He felt cherished, special and
….loved? The realisation hit him like a bolt from the blue. He hadn't had
sex last night, Craig Gilmore had made love to him and he'd enjoyed every
second. Astonished he lay down again as close to the other man as he could,
a rather alien emotion filling his heart. It would be so easy to fall in love with this man.

Several hours later the sound of a shower woke Luke for the second time. He
was alone in the bed only the indentation on the pillow showing where
another head had been. He turned onto his back and stretched luxuriously.
Not even a slight tinge of pain in his lower back and thighs could spoil his
feeling of satisfaction. The shower stopped. A few minutes later Craig
emerged freshly shaven and a little damp, rubbing his hair on a towel. The
gash across his ankle looked red, the skin held together with steri-strips.

"Morning," he greeted Luke, with a half smile.

"Morning," Luke smiled at him holding out his hand.

Craig limped over and sat on the side of the bed taking his hand as Luke sat
up to kiss him softly.

"Come back to bed," Luke whispered in between long slow kisses.

"Not a good idea, at least for you."

An eon later Luke asked,

"Why?"

"You're due on parade in an hour."

"Mmmph," was the only reply, Luke being far too preoccupied taking advantage
of Craig's talented lips, before the meaning filtered in to his brain.

"What? An hour?"

Craig nodded, grinning at him.

"Shit!"

He got out of the way as Luke tried to extract himself from the folds of the
duvet at top speed. He set off towards the bathroom at a run then
remembered his manners.

"Can I use the ….?"

"Fresh towels are in the airing cupboard."

"Thanks."

Then he was back on his knees taking a last few passionate kisses.

"Go!" Craig ordered. "I'll make you some tea and toast,"

"Thanks," Luke said, making no attempt to move or to stop bestowing kisses.

"Move!" Craig said, getting out of the way of the lovely distraction.

"In a minute," Luke replied, his mind certainly not on work.

"Now," he replied sternly, swatting him on the behind to get him out of the
bedroom and into the bathroom. Luke went, grinning all over his face when
he caught Craig tracking his progress into the other room with hungry eyes.

Twenty minutes later, freshly showered and fed Luke was preparing to leave.

Craig showed him to the door. Before opening the door Luke turned around
and looked up at him almost shyly.

"Erm, I was wondering…"

"Wondering what?" Craig prompted.

"Can I see you again?" he got out finally.

"You see me every day at work" Craig reminded him.

"I meant socially."

"Socially as in bed or socially as in a drink or dinner somewhere?"

"Both!"

Craig laughed seeing the earnest expression on Luke's face.

"I think I'd be most disappointed if I didn't see you again – socially that
is," Craig replied, seriously. 

Luke's smile almost split his face in two.

"Tonight?"

"OK. Tonight. Come round after your shift and I'll make us some supper,"
Craig agreed.

Luke answered enthusiastically with his lips against Craig's. Laughingly
Craig fought him off and pushed him out of the front door and off to work.

That was the beginning of almost seven weeks of a mad passionate affair.
Luke couldn't seem to keep his hands off Craig, even at Sun Hill and four
nights out of seven found him in Craig's bed. They made love as often as
physically possible. A couple of times Luke couldn't wait to get Craig as
far as the lounge but took him against the wall in the hallway each time
keeping up a filthy, low voiced litany in his ear as he buried himself to
the hilt in his lover's body. Luke had a most inventive, obscene mouth when
he was in the grip of passion. Craig listened, fascinated, on these
occasions, as Luke described in graphic detail what he'd been thinking about
and imagining doing with Craig when they got home.

Sometimes they would make love on the sofa or on the rug in front of the
fire in the lounge, afterwards, pulling a blanket over themselves they would
sleep until morning.

Craig's bed usually ended up as a playground for Luke. He was interested in
trying out the few 'toys' Craig kept in the bedside table. It was something
new and novel for him after his previous heterosexual lifestyle and Craig
was all too happy to initiate his new lover into the mysteries of playtime.
The fact they usually ended up laughing as much as making love didn't seem
to matter to either man. Laughing or loving they were very enjoyable times.

From his initial suspicion of Luke's motives, very, very gradually Craig
began to relax into the relationship. If Luke had been completely
professional at work, Craig, again, would have become suspicious but as he
wasn't and more than a few times Luke had taken a hell of a chance for them
both by kissing him in his office. That, oddly enough, helped to allay his
naturally reticent and suspicious nature. However Craig decided his poker
face must be slipping when Inspector Gold mentioned that he was looking a
lot happier and was his new man the reason? He fudged over his answer a
little, curiously unwilling to let Gina know the name of his new lover. Not
that she had ever been anything less than discrete with his confidences.

"Is it someone here, in the nick?" she asked, seemingly able to see right
through him.

When he didn't answer immediately she patted his arm and said,
"I'm only teasing! Good luck to you both. I'm pleased you've found someone
you're happy with."

"Thank you Ma'am," he replied dutifully though he was smiling.

She patted his arm again before going back to her own office knowing she
could depend on Craig not to let his personal life interfere with his
professional life, his discretion was legendary. She was extremely curious
though as to the identity of his new boyfriend. As far as she knew there
were no other openly gay officers at Sun Hill.

Tuesday morning, after refs Craig was returning to his office when he bumped
into a tearful Kerry Young.

"Kerry?" he questioned.

"Sorry Sarge," she sniffed.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing Sarge," she replied, her face crumpling a little more.

"Come on," he ordered, ushering her into his office and closing the door.

"Now what is it?" he asked kindly.

After a few seconds she burst into noisy tears, saying rather incoherently,

"I don't know what to do!"

He put his arms around her, offering comfort. After a few minutes she drew
back and wiped her face with her hands. He offered her tissues from the box
on his desk and waited.

"Is this something to do with why you were on sick leave this morning?"

She nodded.

"I went to see the doctor."

“Is it serious?” he asked, genuinely concerned.

"I'm pregnant," she blurted out.

"Oh!"

"We haven't really been going out that long either. I don't even know if
Luke likes children."

Gilmore's heart and stomach seemed to change places whilst a strange numbing
cold seeped into his limbs. As if from a far distance he heard his own
voice saying,

"Luke?"

"Ashton. PC Ashton."

"You're still seeing PC Ashton?"

She nodded.

"We've only been going out for about five months. We've talked about
getting married but about not about starting a family so soon."

Gilmore studied his shoes in silence for a time before he asked,

"I take it you haven't seen Luke yet, this morning?"

"No. He went off to stay with a couple of friends last night. He's not
back on duty yet."

"No. No, of course he isn't," Gilmore agreed knowing full well he'd left
Luke Ashton, sated and content, in his own bed after making love with him
before arriving for his duty shift.

"What am I going to do, Sarge?"

Gilmore gave a mirthless laugh as he took a deep breath and said the most
difficult sentence of his life,

"I think you've already done that Kerry. First things first, you need to
let Ashton know he's going to be a father."

Craig folded his arms, curling his hands into fists then thrusting them in
his armpits so hard his nails broke the skin on the palms of his hands. The
pain helped to centre him.

"When he gets in you can use my office to tell him. You won't be disturbed
here."

"Oh thanks Sarge!"

To Gilmore's surprise he suddenly found himself with an arm full of
grateful, blonde WPC.

"Steady on Kerry," he said, attempting a light tone. "You keep up with this
and people will think I've gone straight!"

She giggled into his chest. Briefly he hugged her then set her back.

"Get on now and don't worry. Luke will do the right thing, I'm sure," he
told her.

She smiled, a little teary eyed and left, totally unaware she had brought
Craig Gilmore's world down about his ears with her confidences.

Craig remained standing in his office with his arms folded for quite a while
after Kerry had left. He was thinking furiously. He should have noticed
Luke and Kerry weren't acting constrained around each other. And alarm
bells should really have rung all the times he'd walked in on them sharing a
laugh and a joke during ref breaks. But he hadn't seen it or hadn't wanted
to see it, he admitted to himself. He had so wanted a relationship with
Luke he'd chosen to blind himself to all the signs that Luke was still
sleeping with Kerry Young. Luke had been lying to them both.
A cold wash of anger swept through him, stunning him with its clarity. Luke
Ashton had made his bed and now he, Craig Gilmore, was going to make damned
sure he lay in it.

Luke was a little surprised when Gilmore, totally unsmiling, requested his
presence in his office, immediately after parade. He was more than happy to
obey though, it meant he might get to snatch a few warming kisses before he
got on with his shift. He threw open the door to the Sergeant's office
smiling broadly. His smile faltered when he saw a watery-eyed Kerry sitting
in front of the desk.

“Kerry? Where’s Craig?”

“He’s letting me use his office, I’ve got something to tell you.”

As soon as he possibly could Luke went to see Craig but he was nowhere to be
found. Eventually he was told Gilmore had signed off straight after his
shift had ended. Luke’s heart sank. After the startling revelations from
Kerry, Craig obviously knew he’d been lying to him for the last couple of
months and was now was avoiding him.

Luke had also been hugely surprised that Craig hadn’t told Kerry her
boyfriend had been sleeping with him more often than her for the past couple
of months. Careful questioning had elicited that far from being unpleasant
to Kerry, Craig had been helpful and kind, which confused Luke. He couldn’t
imagine why he’d been nice to someone, who was, for all intents and
purposes, his rival.

In desperation Luke tried ringing Craig’s house but there was no answer. As
soon as possible after his shift, he made excuses to Kerry and sped around
to Gilmore’s house, trying to let himself in with his key but his key
suddenly didn’t fit the lock. The lounge light was on behind the drawn
curtains but there was no answer to his pounding on the door or his demands
to be let in. Determined to speak to Craig he kept hammering on the door.
Curtains in the windows of houses on either side of Craig's house twitched,
then a door opened just before the door under his hands disappeared.

“What?” Gilmore asked harshly.

“Craig, let me explain.”

“Explain what? Why you’ve lied and cheated on Kerry and myself for two
months? Get out of my sight Luke,” he snarled, going to shut the door.

Luke put his foot in the way to stop him.

“Get away from this door before I break your legs,” Gilmore ordered baldly.

“You won’t hurt me,” Luke said confidently.

He was therefore extremely surprised to find himself suddenly sitting on the
floor with a split lip. Dazed he shook his head, trying to clear the
buzzing in his ears. Gilmore glared at him, his fists still clenched,
before turning away. Luke surged to his feet before the door shut.

“Craig please. If I’ve ever meant anything to you, just let me talk to you
for a few minutes.”

The door didn’t shut completely but neither did it open fully for a little
time, then Craig threw it open.

“You’ve got five minutes,” he growled once Luke was standing nervously in
the hallway. He folded his arms making his body language as uncompromising
as possible.

Luke took a deep breath.

“I can never apologise enough for what I’ve done….”

Gilmore snorted.

“….I never meant for this to happen.”

“You just thought we could all go on in a happy ignorant threesome for ever
and a day?”

“No. I…I…. I don’t know what I thought. When I first came here I only
meant it to be a one off. But afterwards I didn’t want it to stop. I think
I fell in love with you.”

Gilmore looked down at him, a look of complete disbelief on his face.

“You fell in love? Do you even know the meaning of the word?”

Luke had the grace to look away, totally ashamed.

“All I want to say is I am so, so sorry I hurt you. I’m sorry you found out
the way you did as well.”

Craig remained silent, fighting to hold back his tears.

“You didn’t tell Kerry, did you?” Luke asked.

"It wasn't for your benefit!" Craig snapped. "Anyway why should I tell
her?”

“Well….she’s, um..”

“She’s been lied to as well as me. You’ve managed to get her pregnant too.
She was upset enough this morning I wasn’t going to add to it.”

Both were silent.

“Have you decided what to do about the child?” Craig asked, at last. The
child and Kerry were innocents in this, as far as he was concerned. Luke
was the lying bastard.

“Kerry wants to keep it.”

“And you?”

Luke swallowed hard before saying,

“I asked her to marry me.”

Craig nodded once and reached for the new lock and began to open the door.

Luke placed his hand over the top of his and pushed it shut again. Then put
his hands on each side of Craig’s face, tilting him so he could look into
his eyes.

“I'm sorry Craig. I am so sorry,” he said, his voice breaking.
Quickly he pulled Craig’s face towards him and kissed him ravenously.
Luke's kisses tasted of salt, blood, sadness and guilt but Craig couldn’t
get enough until he broke off the embrace, holding Luke away from him and
looking down on the tear and bloodstained face, almost unaware of his own
tears escaping. Luke reached up to brush the salty liquid away. Then they
were back in each other's arms kissing as though their lives depended on it.
Luke pulled him into the lounge, shedding their clothes on the way.
Before he knew it Craig was on his back on the rug with Luke entering him
carefully.

Luke moved slowly trying to prolong the act as long as possible and not once
did he close his eyes, engraving the sight in his memory and in his heart
but desperation and heartache made poor allies for staying power. All too
soon he felt himself coming, Craig, a faction of a second behind him. For a
time they lay together, Luke holding Craig tightly against his chest.

Finally Craig broke the silence.

“You’d better go.”

Luke tightened his hold for a second until Craig struggled free.

“Don’t come back here, Luke. I don’t want to see you again,” he told him
without looking at him. Craig turned over, curled on his side staring into
the fire.

Silently Luke got up, collected his clothes and dressed. He covered Craig
with a blanket then poured two large whiskies from the bottle on the side
table, drank one and left the other on the floor in front of Craig, who
didn’t acknowledge the gesture. Neither did he acknowledge Luke taking his
useless front door key from his key ring and laying it down beside the
bottle before he walked out of the house for the last time.

 

The news of Kerry and Luke’s engagement and forthcoming wedding went around
the station like wildfire. The lesser news of Gilmore’s requested transfer
was much less publicised.

Gina Gold was both concerned and annoyed to receive Craig's request for a
transfer out of Sun Hill the day after Ashton and Young announced their
engagement. She sat for a long time thinking about how to handle this
problem. She wasn't sure if Ashton and Young's engagement had anything to
do with his transfer request or not. But she was certain she didn't want to
lose Gilmore, he was an excellent officer. Finally she decided to try to
talk him out of it using the friendly approach. They'd been drinking
buddies for a while, usually following it up with a curry if it was a late
night. She waited, not saying anything about his request until the day
before he was due to have two days leave. She breezed into his office.

"Craig! You busy tonight after work?"

"Er, no Ma'am," he replied getting to his feet.

"Forget the ma'am. Fancy going for a curry? It's a while since we've had a
drink, a meal and a chat."

He was silent for a beat, knowing he wasn't going to get out of explaining
himself to Inspector Gold. He decided to get the pain over with as soon as
possible.

"OK Gina."

"Right. Meet you in 'The Grapes'," she said, leaving his office and not
waiting for a reply.

He nodded to himself and sat down again trying to concentrate on his work.

Gina arrived at 'The Grapes' with a group of WPC's who were going to the pub
to start an early celebration of Kerry's engagement. She listened with half
an ear to the wedding chatter whilst looking around for Gilmore. He was at
the end of the bar morosely regarding two glasses of scotch.

"One of those for me?" she asked.

He indicated the untouched glass.

"Thanks Craig," she said, picking it up and touching his glass with the rim
before taking a healthy swallow of the rich peaty liquid. "Ahh, I needed
that!"

"Long day?" he asked, forcing himself to be at least a little sociable.

A loud burst of raucous laughter from the engagement crowd made conversation
nearby impossible. Gina turned to look at them then turned back to Craig,
surprising a look of deep sadness in his eyes until he dropped his face to
look at his drink instead. Quickly she turned to see who he had been
looking at, her copper's instinct not letting her down. Ashton! PC Ashton
had turned away quickly, his face suspiciously red, when he'd seen Inspector
Gold looking his way. Gina wasn't stupid enough to think Luke was looking
at her, certainly not in light of Craig's reaction. She put two and two
together very quickly but kept her suspicions to herself.

"Shall we finish these and move on?" she asked above the noise.

Craig nodded, knocking his drink back and waiting for Gina. She quickly
followed suit and then followed Craig out of the pub.

"Who are the bridesmaids?" a young voice asked as Gina walked passed the
crowd from Sun Hill.

"Haven't really decided anything like that," Kerry answered.

"Ask Gilmore, he'd look lovely in a dress!" another voice answered.

"Leave him alone!" Kerry replied, sharply. "Gilmore's alright," she added,
surprising her audience as well as Gina.

By the look of Craig's stance outside in the street at least some of the
conversation had filtered out to him.

"Your champion is fighting for you inside," she said lightly.

He looked uncomprehendingly at her.

"Kerry. She's telling the rest of them to lay off attempting to make you
into a bridesmaid."

He snorted softly in a half laugh.

"Think the lunch box and the hairy chest might ruin the line of the dress,"
he muttered sarcastically.

"Dunno sweetie, bridal pink might be just your colour!" she replied in a
camp voice, taking his arm and heading off towards the brightly lit entrance
of 'The Goat and Compass' a couple of hundred yards down the road.

Craig was a lot happier in the new venue and started to come around a
little, chatting and laughing at some of Gina's more scurrilous stories.
After a while she looked at her watch and said,
"Come on, time for one more and then lets get some food. I booked the table
for nine."

"Booked a table? We usually just fall into the first place we get to."

"I fancied trying out 'Shimla Pinks' on Dufford Road. Heard some good
reports about the food there and we need to book for that one."

"Fair enough. If we want to make Dufford Road for nine we'd better make
these shorts."

"My shout, you on scotch?"

He inclined his head, silently saying did she need to ask. She grinned and
went to the bar. Craig leaned back in his seat and stretched his neck to
ease the kinks out. He had been very tense for the last couple of days
which had resulted in a headache by the end of his shift. He closed his
eyes the better to work his neck and shoulder muscles loose.

"I do a good line in massage," a male voice said close by.

Startled Craig opened his eyes suddenly, looking at the blonde man on the
next table.

"You look a little tense," he explained, his eyes twinkling with a double
meaning.

Gina chose that moment to return to their table with a glass of scotch
apiece.

The unknown man looked at Gina and then at Craig trying to work out if he'd
just made a big mistake. By the startled looks on both men's faces Gina
correctly deduced she'd interrupted something. Deciding to ignore it for
the time being she slid Craig's scotch across with instructions to 'drink
up'.

The man on the next table had peeled a beer mat and was rapidly writing on
it whilst they finished their drinks. As they stood, preparing to depart to
the restaurant, he slid the mat into Craig's hand. Craig glanced down
catching the name 'Phil' and a telephone number. He silently pocketed the
mat and moved off, holding the door open for Gina. The man was still
watching him. Imperceptibly Craig inclined his head then followed Gina
outside into the night.

'Shimla Pinks' was really undeserving of the appellation 'curry house'. It
was a very classy establishment. The service was excellent and the food was
even better. Craig had been lulled by the alcohol he'd drunk before, as
well as by the wine they were enjoying with their meal so Gina's serious
question of the night caught him by surprise.

"How long have you been seeing Luke Ashton?"

He spluttered a bit with the mouthful of muragh methi he'd just inhaled
rather than swallowing.

"What?"

"Well one thing's for sure, you weren't sleeping with Kerry Young!"

After a space of a few seconds he even laughed.

"You bitch!"

"That's why you love me!"

"When did you work that one out?"

"Just before we left 'The Grapes'. You and Ashton had been sharing a
meaningful look."

Craig put down his fork, his appetite suddenly deserting him.

Silently Inspector Gold watched him before saying,

"Sorry Craig, didn't intend you to stop eating."

He shook his head.  "I must look like an absolute idiot to you."

"Not at all! I can't imagine you stormed into Ashton's love life without a
very good reason. What concerns me is that through his or your idiocy I'm
going to lose a damned good officer."

Craig put down his napkin at this. After a long pause which Craig spent
gazing into the remains of his curry, as if it held all the answers he
finally began to speak.

"I was the idiot. I should have known better. The Luke Ashtons of this
world don't suddenly desperately want to be bedded by their Sergeants
without a bloody good reason."

Gina's eyebrows flicked, but she kept her thoughts to herself.

"Go on," she invited.

Craig shrugged.

"When I got my ankle cut up he turned up at my house after I got out of
hospital with a bottle of good wine as a get well present. Said he'd split
up with Kerry and I was so desperate to get him I believed him."
He laughed depreciatingly. "If some scrote had come to me pleading that
tale I wouldn't have believed him for an instant, even if he'd sworn on a
stack of bibles. But I believed Luke. How sad is that?"

"Not sad. You trusted him and he let you down. We all get let down at some
point. We wouldn't be human if we didn't. He obviously didn't give you
reason to doubt him."

"He was in my bed so often the days he wasn't there I was grateful for the
rest!"

Gina laughed loudly, holding her hand in front of her mouth to stop spraying
him with her food.

"It's not funny! He made me realise, amongst other things, I'm getting
old."

"God help me then!"

"And me."

Suddenly Craig put his hands in front of his face, then dragged them down to
rest his chin on his clenched fists.

"Please don't deny my transfer. I'm not sure I can stay sane with all Sun
Hill going insane with wedding plans."

"Oh Craig!"

"Sorry Gina. I'm don't how much of the 'happy couple' I can take."

"Do you have a problem with Kerry Young?"

"No. Poor woman has been stuck with a baby she hadn't planned on. At least
Luke is doing right by her."

"At the same time doing wrong by you."

"Wrong by us both. I've seen it a few times before, they think they have
everything with a wife and a couple of kids then suddenly it isn't enough.
Luke's afraid to admit openly that he's bi."

"I've seen it as well. Kerry isn't going to have the happiest of married lives."

"And she's done nothing to deserve that. She fell in love with the wrong bloke."

Gina reached across and squeezed his hand.

"Just like you did. You have a lot in common."

"Please don't tell her just how much in common!"

"What do you think I am?"

"A bloody good friend."

She laughed.

"That won't ever change."

Without relinquishing her hand he looked into her eyes and said,

"You know sometimes I really do wish I was straight."

"Craig Gilmore, you are an old romantic."

"Much good it does me."

"It will. One day. Anyway can you imagine it? We're both so married to
the job the wedding would look like Police Special!"

Craig laughed, well aware he'd had far too much to drink. One of the
dangers of having a female Inspector who could drink you under the table.

"Well can I request you order me a lot of strong, hot coffee now please? In
case I really do propose to you."

"Lots of coffee coming up!" she replied quickly, knowing how much he was
hurting and how much he was trying to hide it from her. In her not so
humble opinion Craig Gilmore was one of the Metropolitan Police's finest
officers.

The next morning was an exercise in self restraint. Gina offered him a pint
of water, a cup of industrial strength coffee and two painkillers just
before she left for an appointment with her sister.

"If you want..," she swallowed hard, "..food, help yourself from the
kitchen!"

Craig groaned in sympathy.

"You know where the bathroom is."

He nodded slightly not wanting to disturb his aching head and churning
stomach.

"Feel free to stay as long as you want, you lucky git!" she said as she
closed the door.

Craig couldn't even summon a slight smile from his position under a heavy
blanket on her settee. Malevolently eyeing the bottle of red they'd
finished off the evening with, he made a promise to his liver to give it a
rest for at least the rest of the week. He decided he'd better not make a
practise of getting his Inspector to help him heal a broken heart. He
wasn't sure if the rest of his major internal organs could take the
resultant stress.

 

Craig watched, hidden at the back of venue, as Luke Ashton married Kerry
Young. He didn’t attend the celebrations afterwards. He’d already said his
goodbyes to those he cared to. He hadn't joined in with the joint presents
given to the couple by their colleagues either. Instead he’d given Kerry a
silver photo frame as a private wedding present a few days before the
ceremony. She had been spending quite a while trying to persuade him to
come to the reception, unaware of what she was asking. He had refused, each
time, politely but very firmly. Knowing how difficult it was to change his
mind once it was made up she had finally decided to leave the matter alone.

Their son was born four and a half months later after an uncomplicated
delivery. Luke was overwhelmed when he held him. For the first time he
knew what it felt like to love unconditionally.

“He’s perfect!” Luke said overawed.

“Wonder if we’ll think that in a few months time when he’s keeping us awake
all night?” Kerry quipped smiling, looking lovingly at her baby nestling in
her husband's arms.

After a short silence she asked,

“Luke do you mind if we change his name?”

“I thought we’d agreed on Joseph, after your Dad," Luke replied, unable to
take his eyes off his son.

“As his first name, yes. I meant change his middle name.”

“Depends what you want to change it to.”

“I was thinking about Craig.”

For a second Luke froze, then asked carefully.

“Why Craig?”

“I really like the name and it was my cousin’s name.”

“Don’t think I’ve met him.”

“You wouldn’t have, he was killed in a hit and run about ten years ago.”

“Oh!”

“Well what do you think?”

“If you want to call him Craig, I’m OK with that,” Luke replied, leaning
over to kiss his wife. Daringly he added, laughing,

“I thought for a minute you wanted to call him after Craig Gilmore.”

To his surprise she blushed slightly.

“Kerry?”

“Well, he was very kind to me when I didn’t know what to do!” she replied
defensively. After a short silence she continued,

“I spend ages trying to talk him into coming to the reception, but he
wouldn’t, even though he gave us a very nice present. I was pleased to see
him at the wedding though.”

“Present? He was at our wedding?”

“Didn’t you see him? He was right at the back.”

“I thought he hadn’t turned up!”

“He only stayed for the ceremony then he went, said he was on late shift at
his new nick.”

“Oh!” Luke replied weakly. Luckily he was saved from thinking any further
by his son who chose that moment to exercise his lungs.

Kerry chose to put her favourite picture of Joseph Craig into the silver
photo frame Craig Gilmore had given them for a wedding present, completely
oblivious of the memories it conjured up for her husband. She did notice
the frame seemed to pick up and awful lot of fingerprints though, as if Luke
picked it up a lot.

For a time married life settled Luke down, especially after Joe was born.
Both he and Kerry were too tired to do much more than work and look after
the baby. When Kerry returned to duty she was even more tired in the
evenings, whilst mornings were spent in a mad rush getting Joe ready to go
to the child minders and themselves ready for work. The times they did
manage to snatch an hour or two for themselves and made love left Luke
feeling vaguely dissatisfied. Before they were married their sex life had
been good. His sex life with Craig had been fantastic but to compare Craig
to Kerry would be unfair, especially now. She was tired nearly all the time
whereas Craig and he had always plenty of energy to spare for passionate
pursuits.

Most mornings he indulged in some quality time with his right hand whilst
showering, his mind replaying scenes from his time as Craig's lover. It at
least relieved the frustration but again left him yearning for the closeness
he had enjoyed after he'd made love with Craig. Craig had always held him
close afterwards. Tears of frustration slid down his face mingling with the
shower water. Wearily he shut off the water and stood under the shower
listening to Kerry talking to Joe and hearing him gurgle back at her. He
smiled at the sounds. Kerry had given him a beautiful son and she was a
good wife he should be more grateful instead of bemoaning his lot. It
didn't stop him waking in the middle of the night though, with a raging
hard-on desperate to feel a solid muscular body under his whilst he
plundered a tight hot channel. Quietly he got out of bed so he wouldn't
disturb Kerry and crept to the sitting room of their flat once there he took
care of his problem quickly and quietly. After he'd cleaned himself up he
lay on the settee thinking. Tracking down Craig Gilmore was out of the
question. After the way he'd treated the other man he would be lucky to
escape with his life! However, being a copper did have some compensations.
For example, he knew where there were a lot of anonymous gay bars and knew
what went in the toilets. Faintly he heard Joe begin to witter. He got up
and went to soothe the baby and change him before he woke Kerry.


Without being aware of making a conscious decision he told Kerry he was
going for a quick drink with some of the lads from Barton Street after work
the next night. Quickly he headed off, miles away from any of his usual
haunts. The pub was crowded, dimly lit and very noisy. A lot of same sex
couples were standing against the walls attempting to talk over the din, a
few were kissing openly. Ashton envied their freedom. He bought himself a
drink and looked around. A few of the men checked him out but no-one
approached him until he'd nearly finished his drink.

"Hi."

Luke turned around to see a man about his own age smiling at him in the
half-light.

"Hi," he responded cautiously.

Seemingly accidentally the other man's hand brushed against the front of his
jeans. He smirked then took Ashton's hand, towing him behind as he headed
to the back of the pub. Confidently the man pushed open the door to the
gents, and smoothly swung them both into a recently vacated cubicle, bolting
the door behind them. Within seconds the man had his shirt undone, unzipped
his jeans and was unwrapping a condom.

"Come on!" he ordered as Ashton stood watching him get ready.

Slightly dazed Ashton started to undo his shirt. He was obviously moving way
too slowly because the other man closed in suddenly and had his jeans
unbuttoned and around his knees in very short order.

"How long you been out?" he asked, roughly pumping Ashton's cock to full
erection. "Or are you out?"

Luke didn't answer the question, instead he asked, at little breathlessly, "What's your name?"

"Dave. You?"

"Luke."

"You've never done this before have you Luke?"

"Yes!"

Dave's eyebrows rose a little.

"Wife at home is she?"

"How did you…"

Dave held up Luke's left hand, his wedding ring glinting in the light.

"Well not-quite-out-Luke do you want to fuck?"

Luke nodded.

"Got anything with you?"

Belatedly Luke fished in his jeans pocket for a condom. Dave took it out of
his hand, unwrapped it and then squirted a some lube in the end before
rolling it onto Luke.

"What's that for?"

"Nice little trick, feels really good before you come," he said,
masturbating him. The lube inside the condom coated him and made it feel
like he was inside warm flesh and not wearing any protection. Dave watched
his reaction and smiled.

"Feels good doesn't it?"

Luke nodded, leaning in for a kiss. Dave evaded his lips.

"Don't kiss on the mouth. Don't want to take anything back to your wife, do
you?"

Dave kissed along his collar bones and the side of his neck.

"Turn round," he whispered.

Luke turned to face the wall as Dave positioned him as he wanted. Without
warning two fingers slick with lube penetrated him, roughly preparing him.
He gasped in surprise and a little pain. He didn't remember it hurting this
much when Craig had prepared him. The fingers went and something much
larger replaced them. Luke bit his lip to keep from crying out and tried
consciously to relax to ease the pain as Dave pushed in hard. Not giving
him chance to adjust to the intrusion Dave began to fuck him either unaware
or uncaring that he was hurting his partner.

"You've got a nice tight arse!" he said, his breath ghosting along the back
of Ashton's neck. Luke leaned his forehead against the cool tiles, waiting
for this to be over. A couple of minutes later Dave's breathing changed
then he hung against Luke's back for a few seconds panting.

"Thanks for that Luke," Dave said breezily, cleaning himself up and flushing
the tissue and used condom away. Luke turned around to lean against the
wall. Belatedly looking down Dave asked,

"You come yet?"

Luke shook his head, his eyes closed.

"You should have said!"

Closing in he pulled Luke to him. Heat radiated from the other man's skin
as he let Luke rest his head against his shoulder a hand in the centre of
his back holding him in place. Patiently he used his hand to bring Luke
off, staring over his shoulder at the tiles, a little bored now. When Luke
had finished Dave propped him against the wall and asked,

"Better now?"

Luke nodded starting to clean himself up and put his clothing back in order.
Dave watched him until he was ready to leave then he flashed him a quick
smile, unbolted the door and left, disappearing into the sea of bodies in
the pub. Luke followed him out more slowly but kept walking until he was
outside on the pavement. Then he kept on walking until he got to the
nearest tube station.

Kerry was asleep on the settee with the TV on when he arrived home. Luke
didn't wake her. He tiptoed into to look at Joe then went to the bathroom
and took a long, hot shower. He felt physically sore and heartsick. He'd
had sex with another man and a more impersonal act it would have been hard
to imagine. The craving for homosexual sex had been satisfied temporarily
but his craving for the emotional closeness he associated with it was now
more acute than ever.

From force of habit Craig checked out his surroundings. The lighting was
dim enough to conceal any number of crimes going on in the shadier corners,
a few pairs of men were trekking to and from the toilets or the yard at the
back of the bar and his sensitive nostrils caught a whiff of marijuana smoke
coiling distinctively though the heady atmosphere of hops, malt and sex. He
could recognise a pick-up joint when he was in one.

"What the hell are we doing here?" he said to his companion.

"Calm down Craig, it's not as bad as it looks. They keep a good cellar
here."

"Thank heaven for small mercies," Craig muttered sarcastically following the
other man to the bar.

"I want you to try this one," Steve said to him, handing him a half pint
glass containing some murky liquid.

"Are you sure it's drinkable?" he asked.

"Cheers!"

Steve upended his glass and swallowed half of the contents in one mouthful.

Gingerly Craig sipped the brew. Despite its unprepossessing appearance it
tasted very good. Encouraged he took a bigger mouthful.

"Good?"

He nodded, pleasantly surprised.

"How did you find out about this place?" he asked.

"A couple of he nurses at the hospital told me about it," Steve replied. "A
gay pub serving good real ale just defies the imagination."

Craig grinned. The novelty value was certainly the only reason he was here.
He was turning back to speak to Steve when the profile of one of the
younger men at the far end of the bar caught his attention. His heart
thudded heavily in his chest as the man turned to speak to the other man at
his side letting him see his full face. Luke Ashton, chatting happily at
the bar.

"Craig, you alright?" Steve asked.

"What? Yes. Sorry, just thought I recognised someone, that's all."
Steve scanned back across the bar but didn't see anyone he recognised.
Instead a heavy hand clapped him on his shoulder as the rest of their party
arrived. Soon Craig was too preoccupied in catching up with his friends to
spend a lot of time looking for Ashton. He caught sight of him once,
returning from the gents, adjusting the zip of his trousers, but that didn't
have to mean anything. A lot of men tended to do that. By then Craig was
saying his goodbyes. It was his turn to cook supper and Phil tended to come
off late shift as hungry as a hunter. He would not be pleased if there
wasn't food on the table the minute he stepped through the door. He exited
the pub and turned right at the front door. As he drew level with the
entrance to the alley which gave access to the yard at the back of the pub
the unmistakable sound of someone being punched reached his ears.

"Hey!" he shouted, looking into the darkness.

Scuffling feet and a grunt of pain answered him, then, shortly afterwards
the sound of a shuffling walk. A man walked into the circle of sodium wash
from the street light. He was hunched over a little, holding his ribs, a
stream of dark liquid running from his nose and staining his shirt.

"Thanks," he grunted.

"I'll call it in," Craig replied, taking out his mobile phone, not evincing
the least surprise at the identity of the victim.

"No!"

"Luke, you look like you've been mugged."

"Craig please don't call it in. He only got a tenner off me."

"And gave you a few punches. Has he broken your ribs?"

"Don't think so," Luke replied, leaning against the wall. The door to the
pub opened three men exiting and walking away into the night, laughing and
talking.

Craig put his hand under Luke's elbow and helped him to stand upright then
put an arm around him to steady him and began walking.

"Where are we going?" Luke asked.

"My place. You need cleaning up before you go home. Does Kerry know where
you are?"

He shook his head, carefully.

"I said I was going out for drink with a couple of the lads."

Craig didn't reply, he didn't need it spelling out for him. It was obvious
Luke had picked up a man. Unfortunately the wrong man. Instead of sex he'd
gotten a beating and the last of his money taken.

Five minutes walking brought them onto a main road where Craig flagged down
a taxi. They got in and Craig gave his address. Grateful for the soothing
heat of the other man, Luke stayed as close as he could. He was delighted
when Craig draped an arm across his shoulders pulling him even closer. Luke
sighed. For the first time in eighteen months he felt content. He was
almost asleep when the taxi pulled to a halt. Craig helped him out of the
taxi and into the house. He took him straight through to the kitchen then
assembled his first aid requirements. Gently Craig doctored his cuts and
bruises and insisted on checking his ribs which were turning a glorious
purple.

"Do you want to let Kerry know where you are?"

Luke shook his head.

"No need. She's visiting her mother with Joe."

"Joe?"

"Our son," he smiled, then winced as the movement pulled his cut lip.

Craig nodded then asked,

"Are you on duty tomorrow?"

"Not until afternoon."

"Right. I can lend you some money for a taxi if you want to go home, or you
can sleep in the spare room."

"That's good of you Craig. I'd like to stay."

"OK."

The timer on the cooker pinged. Craig busied himself taking a pot out of
the oven and a tray of foiled wrapped potatoes.

"Are you hungry?" he asked.

"A bit."

Craig took the lid off the cooking pot letting a rich aroma of succulent
beef stew escape. He stirred the mixture and tasted it, adding some ground
pepper.

"Smells good," Luke said.

"It'll take about another twenty minutes. Do you want to get cleaned up
while I put some sheets on the bed?"

"Yes please," Luke said, grateful for the offer.

He stood up carefully. Craig returned the food to the oven and then
preceded Luke up the stairs. Luke recognised a couple of pictures hanging
on the walls from Craig's previous house. Craig switched on the bathroom
light, rummaged in a cupboard for a couple of towels and said,
"I'll find you something to wear."

Luke was under a scalding hot shower when he sensed the bathroom door
opening.

"There's a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt here for you," Craig said
loudly.

"Thanks Craig," Luke replied.

"I'll get the blood out of your shirt," he continued, not waiting for a
reply.

The little conversation they had wasn't anything out of the ordinary but at
least the tension between them was reducing slowly.

Moving like an old man Luke dried himself and dressed in the borrowed
clothing. He recognised the T-shirt, it was an old one of his. He must
have left it at Craig's last place. He shuffled along the landing, looking
in the first room. It held a double bed, a wardrobe and a chest of drawers
and was obviously Craig's bedroom. The room at the end of the landing had a
bedside light switched on, making it seem inviting. The duvet on the double
bed had been turned down. He put his jeans across the foot of the bed and
retraced his steps. Downstairs he heard the sound of the front door
shutting and a male voice saying cheerily,

"That smells nice, I'm starving!"

"You're always starving," Craig replied to the other man.

From the top of the stairs Luke could see down to the small hallway below.

A blonde haired man had his arms wrapped around Craig and they were kissing
gently and just as obviously enjoying it. A peculiar pain shot through Luke
as he watched them.

"Mmm. Had a good day?" Craig was asking.

"Not bad. You?"

"Not bad."

The mans hands were roaming freely over Craig's body, coming to rest on the
curve of his buttocks. Craig broke off the kiss and laughed.

"I thought you were hungry."

"Oh I am. I'm always hungry for you!" he replied lasciviously.

Craig leaned in and whispered something to him.

"What? Staying here?" Phil asked, his voice raised.

Luke must have made a slight noise which alerted the man to his presence at
the top of the stairs. Craig immediately dropped his arms and stepped away.

"Luke, this is Phil Cooper. Phil, Luke Ashton. I used to work with Luke at
Sun Hill."

"Hi Luke," Phil said, trying his best to appear pleased to see him.

"Luke got mugged this evening. Will you take a look at him?" Craig asked.

"Yeah, sure," Phil replied. "Come on through to the kitchen," he said
kindly to Luke.

Luke looked questioningly at Craig as he descended the stairs.

"Phil's a doctor at St Gemma's A&E department," he explained.

"Oh, a doctor."

Phil checked him over quickly.

"I'd get to your GP when you can. One of those ribs might be cracked. He
can arrange for an X-ray, but the rest of you looks OK."

"Thanks Phil," Luke said, pulling down his T-shirt.

Craig dished up supper whilst Luke and Phil chatted about inconsequentials.

The stew was very tasty and filling but Luke's appetite had almost deserted
him. He knew he had no right to be jealous of Phil. He was quite obviously
a good man and he seemed to care for Craig a lot, but that didn't stop him
feeling like telling him to keep his hands off Craig. Craig noticed Luke
eating very little.

"Luke if you want to go to bed just go. Don't feel you have to sit up with
us."

"Thanks I think I will turn in. I'm a bit sore."

"Do you want any painkillers," Phil offered, immediately.

"No, it's alright thanks."

Did the man have to be so nice? He thought to himself as he made his way
upstairs.

He lay awake for a little while listening to Phil and Craig still talking in
the kitchen, then their voices moved to the lounge area. Eventually he
dozed off only to be wakened a couple of hours later by the gentle sound of
Craig and Phil making love. He lay listening to them until the soft sounds
drifted into silence. It almost felt like he was being punished for his
unthinking cruelty to Craig. This must have been how Craig had felt all
those times Luke had pushed his relationship with Kerry in his face. Now it
was his turn. He'd finally realised what he'd lost when he'd chosen Kerry
over Craig only to find Craig had picked himself up and moved on with his
life, leaving Luke behind as part of his past. Cold tears ran over his nose
and down his face into the pillow. He sniffed, wiping his face with his
hand. What a mess he had made of things. Quietly the bedroom door opened.

"Luke, are you alright?" Craig whispered from the doorway.

Luke hesitated before saying,

"No, not really."

"Are you in pain? Shall I wake Phil?" he asked coming into the room.

"No, don't wake Phil," Luke replied sitting up in bed carefully so he didn't
jar his aching ribs.

Craig sat on the side of the bed.

"What's the matter?"

"Why didn't you tell me I'd was making a mistake marrying Kerry?"

"Oh Luke!" Craig sighed. "I can't live your life for you."

Luke fumbled in the darkness for Craig's hand and held it tightly.

"I've really missed you," he said softly. "Can you ever forgive me for the
way I treated you?"

Craig returned the pressure and said quietly.
"I forgave you a long time ago."

"You're a far better man than I am, Craig."

"Not really," Craig replied.

"I'm not sure I would have been able to forgive you, if things had been
different."

"I think you would have. You always forgive the ones you love, whatever
they've done."

Hesitantly Luke reached out in the darkness to touch Craig's face then
entirely by touch found his lips and leaned forward to gently kiss him.
Luke wrapped his arms around the other man, taking comfort from his body
heat and scent. He couldn't believe he'd been such an idiot as to throw
away the gift of love he'd been given by this man.

"I love you," Luke breathed softly.

Craig carefully tightened his hold on Luke, but didn't reply.

 

 

 

 

Keep a very firm grip on reality, so you can strangle it

at any time.


 

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