‘Oh, stuff work!’ Fritz exclaimed, groping on the bedside table for his mobile. ‘I’m a director of the RBR; I’m taking the next couple of days off.’
Tommy embraced his new-found lover as Fritz talked to his office. He ran his hands over his lover's well-toned abdomen, then stroked down to the hot place between his legs.
There was an almost immediate and dramatic response. ‘Ready for it again, Tommy baby?’ Fritz put down his mobile on the bedside table.
‘Oh yes. Anal sex is my big new thing.’
‘Did you top last time you did it with a guy?’
‘Hmm, yes. Darren was all for me fucking him. Now I can see why. Christ you’re huge!’
‘And you’re so willing. Climb up, baby. I want to see your face when you ride me.’
Tommy lubed and positioned himself. Grabbing Fritz’s cock, he took his time sinking on to it, all the while staring into his lover’s eyes. Despite the irritation of the repeated penetrations, he was not going to miss any opportunity for sex with this young god. Once engaged, he braced himself on the shoulders of the beautiful man below him, groaning as the head of Fritz’s thick member slipped in and swelled inside his rectum. It was an unusual feeling to be called pleasure, but taking Fritz was nonetheless deeply pleasurable, and his own cock grew as he did it.
It was well after midday before they left Fritz’s bed. They sat together facing across the polished granite surface of the kitchen bar, Tommy naked, a hand towel under his backside, with Fritz in just his unbuttoned shirt. Tommy was mesmerised by the effect of the man’s smooth brown torso against the white cotton.
Fritz took his hand. ‘Tommy baby, you’re good with this, right?’
Tommy was struck by the Rothenian’s complete command of English idiom as he replied, ‘I’m loving it, Fritzy, really. You’re not the first man I’ve been to bed with. I’m not freaked or anything.’
‘Good. The other thing is, I don’t want you to think this is just a one-night stand. Stupid really. I seem to be saying more than I mean, because I don’t pretend to know where this is going to go, but last night was really different for me.’
‘I have a reputation for falling in love far too fast, so I don’t want to screw up what I'm trying to say. The point is, what I feel for you is very different from anything I’ve felt before, and it’s not just because we were two men in a bed.’
‘Me too. What we did last night was better than anything I’ve ever done in the past. But it wasn’t just physical. I … think it’s more than lust. Do you follow me? I can’t let it go. How long are you going to be in London?’
‘Oh, till after Christmas at least.’
‘So we have a few months to sort it out, whatever it is.’
Fritz reached over to kiss Tommy. ‘Waking up this morning with you beside me was so different from anything I’ve experienced up to now, and I’ve woken up in bed with quite a few people.
‘There was this thrill of excitement but also … y’know, a sort of deep, warm feeling of rightness. Weird. I never thought sex with another man could be like this. It’s as if we read each other’s mind.’
Tommy kissed Fritz back. ‘Sure! I know exactly what you mean. I sense where you want me to touch you, how you want me to kiss you. It’s all so right and natural. We interlock … yes, that’s it! I fit with you. And I’ve never been able to say that of anyone else I’ve been to bed with.’
Neither man was going to say the ‘L’ word, almost for fear of destroying the mood. Finally, after a long period of silent communion, Tommy sighed. ‘I’ve got to be back in Stevie for the concert. I suppose I’d better think of moving, Fritzy.’
‘Call me Fritzku. That’s what Rothenians do to my name when they want to be intimate.’
‘Fritzku.’ Tommy tried it out; the word worked for him. ‘King’s Cross is just down the hill. I’ll walk.’
‘I’m coming with you.’
‘It’s Live Action night at the Union. You don’t have a pass.’
‘No problem. A call to Davey’ll fix that. Go get in the bath. I’ll join you in a few minutes.’
They kissed again. As Tommy rose to go, Fritz held his hand and looked in his eyes while saying in a low but firm voice, ‘Ai du leben, men leblen Tomasczu.’ And Tommy somehow needed no translation of the Rothenian he had just heard.
‘Hey, Pete dude!’
‘Oh … hello.’ Peter turned to see Billy overtaking him on the campus path which led to the library. He was not too happy about it.
Billy caught the frostiness, and for once his breezy confidence seemed punctured. He held up his hands peaceably. ‘Hey man, don’t bite, yeah? Sorry we’ve got off on the wrong one. Isn’t there anything I can do to I make it better?’
Peter narrowed his eyes. ‘I don’t think we’ve got much to say to each other. I’ve been hearing what you’ve been getting up to.’
Incredibly, the man was persistent, seeming anxious to build bridges. ‘Look, dude, I know what people have been saying. But Christ! What have I done that’s so terrible? Sure, I’ve laid a few guys, but who’s complained that I forced them? Good sex can only be good, right? And bad sex can't be too bad either, yeah?’
Peter did not want this conversation. He did not much like conversations in any case, unless he was comfortable with the person he was speaking to. He moved on, but the American kept pace with him. ‘It’s Miles, isn’t it? Like, the guy’s just a cruising buddy – you know, he’s my wing man. There’s nothing there.’
Peter snarled, ‘Miles is not a nice person.’
‘Okay then, I’m not disagreeing. What’s the problem?’
‘How long have you got? You seduced Chris and broke up his friendship with Alasdair, just for the hell of it. Chris deserved better than that. It was his first … y’know. You were just playing with him. Can you be surprised at what happened at the Carne Arms?’
‘That little Gavin’s been getting to you, hasn’t he? I have the feeling he doesn’t like me that much.’
Peter became furious. ‘Don’t you dare say anything about Gavin, you bastard! He’s worth a million of your sort!’
‘Hey! Hey! Easy! But Gavin’s the issue here, isn’t he?’
Peter stared. The big man was close to him and had taken his shoulder. He unwillingly looked up into Billy's eyes, and was caught.
‘Pete, you want something, don’t you?’
‘You want what Max has.’
‘No, I …!’
‘Oh, you wouldn’t do anything to break them up, even if you could. But Gavin is all you can think of, isn’t he? That tight little body and the pretty face, the kindness and the strength.’
‘Please …’ Peter whispered. The man was seeing right into his soul.
Billy’s voice was softer now. ‘Gavin’s something very special, but he’s not for you. You know it and it breaks your heart. Because you think now there’s nothing in the world for you, no hope of love and devotion from a man you can give yourself to wholeheartedly. I know how you feel, little babe, believe me. I’ve been there.’
‘You think you’re the only boy who’s grown up different in a small town? Hated the feelings he couldn’t escape? Lusted for what he couldn’t have and feared discovery? And then discovery came, and with it the loss. Oh, we’re not so different, Peter Lewis.’
‘How can you know this?’
‘Because it’s our story, Pete, boys like us.’ The big hand was on his shoulder now and the crimson lips close to his ear. It was almost as if it were the voice of someone other than Billy Buchko, offering him understanding and compassion. ‘Come with me, Pete. Come with me now. I can make it better.’
‘No … please.’
‘You want me … you want me to take you, for us to make love the way it ought to be made.’
‘Yes … please. I want it.’ Peter looked round wildly. His room was two blocks away. The voice, gentle and infinitely seductive, was carrying him away to new places. But it wasn’t so much sex he wanted, it was the peace and acceptance the soft voice was promising.
Then their path was blocked by a heavy, lumpish, pale presence. Chris glowered at Billy and looked past him. ‘Pete, er … hi! Look, can we talk … alone?’
“Hey, we’re busy, man. Later, huh?’ Billy’s own voice was back, harsh with irritation.
The spell snapped. Peter shook off Billy’s hand and was caught by Chris’s pleading green eyes, the eyes of a man as lost as he was. ‘Sure, Chris. I was on my way to the library. Let’s get a coffee.’
Billy, radiating annoyance, disappeared in the opposite direction.
‘You don’t wanna have anything to do with that jerk, Pete. He’s bad news. He’s – like – Darth Buchko. Dark side of the Force … know what I mean?’
Peter grunted. He was beginning to think he did.
‘Look, Pete, I was, y’know, a bit pissed the other night. You probably didn’t notice but I’d had a few.’
‘You were so completely out of your head you attacked Miles with a broken beer glass.’
‘I did? Really?’
‘Oh yes. Gavin took you down, and then flattened Billy and Miles.’
‘Shee-ite! That’s what Alasdair meant when he said I should go and say sorry to you. A beer glass? Wow! Get away!’
‘You sound impressed at yourself.’
‘Yes … no. So … er, you took me home and stuff?’
‘Yes, in a taxi. We didn’t want to risk you in the minibus with Billy and Miles again.’
‘And you put me to bed?’
‘With Alasdair’s help, yes.’
‘That was, like, kind. Thanks.’ They had reached the library coffee bar. ‘Let me get you a drink … least I can do.’
Peter relaxed. ‘Yes, it is. But maybe I owe you a favour now.’
They settled at a table. Peter asked, ‘When Billy talked you into bed, how did you feel?’
Chris blushed red and looked at his feet. He answered in a low voice, ‘Amazed, unbelieving … I mean a man like that and me? I couldn’t believe it.’
‘Did it occur to you to resist?’
Chris looked sheepish. ‘I thought it was a dream come true … sorry.’
‘Did he get you to do anything you didn’t want to?’
Chris glanced at the tattoo on his hand. ‘Well, yeah. I didn’t want this.’
‘But he talked you into it all the same.’
‘I felt I couldn’t say no, he was so reasonable. And then …’ Chris went redder if anything. ‘He got me to suck off Miles for him … and …’
‘Rim him while he watched. Oh shit. I didn’t want to do that, but I couldn’t stop myself.’
Peter’s eyes flashed with anger. ‘He uses Miles to humiliate those he seduces. It’s vile. You don’t deserve that, Chrissie.’
Chris looked timidly at the younger man. ‘I don’t?’
‘No, you twerp. You’re as good as the next guy. Don’t let anybody tell you different.’
‘Thanks,’ Chris said in a small voice. The decisiveness and fluency of this apparently withdrawn Welsh boy left him a little awed. He also felt comforted. A concern for him and his feelings was new in his life. A warm surge started at his heart and spread to his confused head. He blurted, ‘Pete, I’m sorry we got off on the wrong foot, with me saying stupid things. I don’t mean it, you know. It just comes out. It’s nerves.’
The Welshman smiled at him. ‘I know that. You’re not so unusual.’
‘Can we be friends?’ As he said it, Chris felt like an anxious schoolboy again, desperately seeking fellowship in a hostile yard.
His green eyes revealed all this and more to Peter, whose smile broadened. ‘I think so. Come on, let’s find Gavin. We need to talk to him.’
Big trucks and a half-dozen tour buses were parked around the back of the Union. Live Action had arrived. Well-muscled men in black tees were roaming the campus in squads. The poster, tee-shirt and album sellers were already hawking their wares at the front of the building, while touts were offering huge prices for tickets, and selling them for improbable ones. Teens who should have been in school were hanging round the campus in droves.
‘Gavin to Planet Tommy, are you receiving?’
‘Sorry, Gav. What?’
‘I said, we’re all going to meet Davey Skipper in the top bar at six. The hospitality on the balcony for press and guests starts at six-thirty.’
‘Yeah, great. Fritzku … I mean, Fritz … is going to join us. I’ll text him the time.’
‘Fantastic! Max? Hear that? Fritzy’s coming up for the concert.’
Max snapped back from staring at the crews moving the speaker banks out of the trailers. ‘Fritzy? Cool. That makes the night complete as far as I’m concerned. Didn’t know he was a particular fan of Live Action, though. I thought he was a classic-rock man. You going in boy clothes, baby?’
Tommy shrugged. ‘I’m still trying to decide.’
Max stared. ‘It’s not like you. I was sure you'd be in conference with Becky by now on exactly which earrings would match tonight’s jewellery.’
Tommy frowned at his friend. ‘Jammy, there are times when you can be a very superficial person, know what I mean?’
Max was startled. ‘Sorry! What?’
‘Catch you later.’
Max stared at Gavin. ‘What was all that about?’
‘He’s been odd since he got back from London. I’m willing to bet something happened last night.’
‘Really? Good. He’s still moody, though.’
‘No. You’re tactless.’
Max knocked on Phil Madox’s office door. He had just picked up Phil’s e-mail, and the message had a red Urgent flag on it.
‘Max. It’s you! Thank God. But where’s Gavin?’
‘In search of Peter Lewis, I think. Whassup?’
‘Why? Has he made a pass at you too, Phil?’
‘Most amusing, dear. No. Gavin asked me to check Buchko's student record, which I did. There was a yellow marker on it, though I couldn’t find out what it meant at the time. I’ve called in some favours in the Registry since, and I had a disturbing response.’
‘Yellow means medical alert. He has a serious condition.’
‘What does that mean?’
‘It’s confidential, but whatever it is, it’s life-threatening. Yellow means recent hospitalisation or a chronic condition.’
‘Oh my God! You don’t mean …’
‘HIV is one of the yellow-flag conditions.’
‘Oh shit! He’s been fucking everyone he can, bareback!’
‘Well it’s got to stop. Only LGBT Society can make that happen. Word has got to be passed, but carefully.’
‘I’ll text Gav.’
‘Be careful what you say, then. We don’t know for certain he’s positive. There’s just a danger he might be.’
‘Poor Chrissie! He loses his virginity at last, and to a conscienceless git who might be infected! There’s no fairness. What time’s it, Phil?’
‘Time you should go find Gavin, I think. It’s four-thirty.’
‘This is awful!’ Gavin was horror-struck at Max’s news.
‘It may not be what Phil fears it is.’
‘I hope you’re right, I really do. In the meantime, I’m going to have to sort out Billy Buchko and his activities.’
Max was intrigued. ‘And how would you go about that, Gavness?’
‘I wish I knew, but confrontation may have to be part of it.’
‘I don’t like it, sweets. Not that I don’t think you can take care of yourself. The incident at the Carne Arms proved your powers are not all gone.’
‘This may be more than a physical thing, Max.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘It was when Billy tried to come on to me a few weeks back. Did I tell you there was something familiar about the experience?’
‘What? About someone coming on to you?
‘No, twerp. What I mean is, his mind pressed in on mine. It was more than his just hitting on me. He was in my head, or trying to get there. I pushed him out by reflex. The other guys he’s hit on have said something like it. They say it was raw sexiness or charisma or whatever, but I think it was deeper than just sex appeal.’
‘A case for Enoch the Guardian?’
‘It doesn’t seem as though he’s as retired as I want him to be.’
‘Have you mentioned this to Henry?’
‘He’s the one who got me thinking this way. I’ve just been on the phone to him.’
‘That serious, huh? So you called in Mendamero. Now I’m really worried. Have you got any idea what’ll happen if you confront Billy? Do you know what he really is?’
‘I think in one sense he’s what he seems to be: a desperately oversexed gay man. But Henry reminded me of something Anthony Willis told me about Thomasville, North Carolina.’
‘Anthony Willis? The bad bishop’s late chaplain?’
‘It was at Thomasville that Bishop Jack first began to demonstrate his demonic powers. Somehow I think there’s a connection between what’s going on here and what started there.’
’Oh shit! He’s still after us?’
Gavin smiled. ‘No, Max. Henry and Rudi saw him off once and for all. Funnily enough, I don’t think he’s after us in that way, but Billy might be.’
‘Sorry? What does that mean?’
‘Tell you afterwards.’
‘Did I ever mention how irritating you are when you get mysterious, Gavness?’
Tommy sat naked amongst a tumbled pile of his clothes. It was the moment of truth. He knew what he wanted to do, but was nervous of doing it.
He had to find a strategy for dealing with Fritzku. Who had Fritz fallen for: the bisexual boy, Tommy Entwhistle, or Tommy the Tranny? Was it the wrong time to confront him with the reality of what he was?
He fingered the satin and silk he loved to wear publicly. The urge to dress in skirts and frills was not by any means gone. It gave him as big a surge of excitement as ever, and that was the truth. But should he try to control it, for Fritz’s sake?
Tommy sighed. Maybe a compromise was possible. Underwear was out of sight at least, so he put on a silk shift and panties. He found a beautifully embroidered linen shirt which he had bought because it hung loose enough almost to pass as a blouse. He put an open black waistcoat over it. Tight jeans were always acceptable. Shoes had to be boywear, so he pulled on the self-designed Converse trainers he had ordered online; they were at least a striking tartan. He would paint his nails a pale red, nothing too obvious.
He surveyed himself in his mirror, posed and pouted. He could be a retro-romantic with his fringe combed forward. He put on a bit of blusher under his cheekbones: it would have to do. The look felt reasonably comfortable and true to what he was.
Heading towards the campus, he felt his confidence swell. Friends greeted him along the way. ‘Hey Tommy! Looking good, man!’
A passing girl kissed him while she adjusted his blouse. ‘I could eat you,’ she whispered.
His mobile sang. ‘Fritzku?’
‘S me, baby. I’m trying to park, but it’s impossible near the campus. Ideas?’
‘Drive down Hitchin Road towards the centre and pick me up.’
‘Will do. Mine’s the Mercedes sports.’
Within two minutes, a pale turquoise SLR roadster swerved across the dual carriageway, screeching and jerking to a halt next to Tommy. Car horns hooted and drivers shouted, those who weren’t struggling to regain control of their own cars. Fritz grinned sheepishly up from behind the wheel.
Tommy stared. ‘Fritz, that was possibly the worst driving I’ve ever seen. I’m never getting in there with you.’
‘It was the sat-nav, honest. I’m normally better than that.’
‘You passed a test?’
‘It was in Rothenia in a Fiat. Be fair. I’ve never hit anyone.’
Tommy hopped into the cockpit, where he looked round a little nervously. It smelled of newness. ‘Nice car.’
‘I still think I’m in America. There’s not so much traffic on their roads, and of course they drive on the same side as we do at home. Here …!’ He made a helpless gesture. ‘Can you drive?’
‘Well, yes. My mother taught me. I’ve a clean licence.’
‘You take the wheel, then. It’s an automatic. You’re British, it’ll be easier for you.’
Tommy gulped a deep breath, nodded and they swopped seats. He felt good at the wheel of this sleek, sexy sports with its powerful McLaren engine. He’d never driven anything like it, but it looked simple enough despite his being on the other side of the car from what he was used to. Although the smooth power as he pulled away from the curb was alarming, the drive towards the city centre, with the stops and starts for lights and roundabouts, soon gave him confidence in his control of the beast. Before long he was grinning fit to split his face. It was so cool to have the wind whipping through his hair and people staring as they passed.
Tommy zoomed south straight through town. He turned on to London Road, then took the slip road on to the A1, powering up the fast lane as he headed back northwards. The engine barely whined in high gear and the acceleration was scary. He had to rein himself in. ‘I love this car!’ he shouted to Fritz as they drove almost to Letchworth before turning off at the next intersection to find a southbound B road.
Soon they reached Stevenage again. Tommy knew a quiet side street quite near campus where it would safe to leave this beauty. Fritz put the roof up and locked the Mercedes.
‘Some wheels! How long have you had it?’ asked Tommy as they walked to the university.
‘It’s the first car I’ve ever bought. I had it driven up from Portsmouth this week. I think I got carried away. I only leased a Nissan in the States. I have to admit I don’t feel entirely safe in this machine.’
‘How much did it cost?’
‘You really want to know?’
‘Perhaps not. Everybody says you’re very wealthy.’
‘They exaggerate. I had to go to business school for a reason. We Tarlenheims are comfortable enough, but there’s not a huge fortune attached to the family name. Most of our assets are in farmland and urban property. The returns are variable. My big brother Oskar got me a directorship in the RBR through his contacts in the banking world. I’m very much a working director, too.’
‘Are your parents alive?’
Fritz sadly shook his head. ‘They died when I was only five. Road tragedy. My sister mostly brought me up. How about you, Tomasczu?’
Tommy smiled at the endearment. ‘My parents broke up when I was eight. I lived with my mum. My dad works somewhere in the Emirates, and I haven’t seen him in years.’
‘Do they know about your cross-dressing? You look really nice, by the way.’
‘Thanks. My sister knows, but I’ve just not got round to telling mum. Say! If you have a big brother, how come he’s not the prince?’
‘Oskar was, but he resigned the title to me.’
‘Long story, baby, which I’ll tell you one day when we have more time. Oskar’s done pretty well for himself since. He’s big into politics back home. He’s King Rudolf’s chief-of-staff. His civil partner is no less than Peter Peacher.’
‘Very much so. Though that wasn’t why he resigned the title. Is this the campus?’
‘Yup, welcome to the University of Stevie. You may notice some differences from Harvard Yard.’
Fritz laughed. ‘I don’t judge. Hey, look at the number of fans! I guess that means the band’s here.’
‘Do you like Live Action?’
‘Well enough. Davey couriered over my pass to Barnsbury. You got yours?’
‘I have. The stage entrance is round this block. I can't believe the crowds!’
Fritz and Tommy pushed their way down a narrow lane closed off by a squad of security. Their passes were carefully scrutinised before they were allowed through. The biggest and widest of the handlers nodded at them. ‘Mr Skipper just arrived, gents. He’s gone up to the balcony bar.’
The hall below the balcony was already packed, and the temporary bar along the wall was hugely busy, with customers four deep. The whole operation was smooth and practised. Roadies were making the final touches to the stage, while the sound desk behind them on the balcony was warming up the speakers with piped music.
The Stevie LGBT was already mostly present in the balcony, enjoying the free drinks and eats. Josh, Ahmed, Peter and Rupert were together, hanging over the edge and waving at other first-years who spotted them. Rupert looked over as Fritz and Tommy appeared. ‘Fritzy?’
‘This is most unexpected. Delightful, of course.’
Fritz went over to Davey, who had a mobile at his ear, while Tommy joined the first-years. The two had a silent arrangement to keep things between them low key for the time being.
Gavin sidled up just then. ‘You okay, Tommy?’
‘Never better, believe me.’
‘So, what happened in Mayfair?’
‘You’ll tell me one day, y’know.’
Tommy laughed. ‘I’m looking forward to it. But for now …’
‘I’ll leave you be.’
‘You’re a great friend, Gav. I’m so glad you found Max.’
‘And I’m glad whatever-it-was happened. You deserve to be happy. Look! It’s the support band coming on.’
Cheers erupted from below. The concert had begun.