So a little about this one. Its a bit more of an examination of my family life. I think I have a very odd family (But then who doesn't) and when I went back to England there was so much going on that I had to write about it.
yep this story is finished, so postings should be regular.
Submitted for your approval.
As usual Comments or questions direct to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feed back is welcome.
The sun never sets on the British Empire.
"You broke my rover," Scott said dryly, listening to the sound of the rain pounding on the roof of the vehicle. There was a flash, followed by a rumble of thunder and Scott turned to stare out of the window as they sat in dead silence.
Whatever had broken up the vacation, it probably had to do with the conversation with Dickie and his arrogant assumption that Scott wanted him; all it would take would be for him to open his mouth and say something. It would explain Fleur's reaction, it might also explain Darren's, but Luke's? That was a mystery. But then much about Luke was just unfathomable to Scott.
The slamming Rover door caused Scott to start. Luke was stalking back towards the caravan through the rain. Scott sighed; he might as well find out if he was right. He slipped out into the rain and was already soaked to the skin after taking a few steps.
"Are you going to tell me what I'm supposed to have done, or am I supposed to keep guessing?" Scott said angrily. He was getting wet, he was annoyed not just at Dickie's arrogance, but the fact that everyone took what he said as gospel.
Luke was almost back to the Caravan, he still hadn't turned. His hands were still balled and his body language was closed. Was he that upset over his brother's accusation? He did seem protective, and if the accusation were true, he would probably be justified in his hatred of Scott. But the accusation was false; it was an off-the-cuff comment Scott had made when he was drunk that had been misinterpreted.
"This is such bullshit!" Scott bellowed, taking two more steps forward, his hair matting from the rain, and he ran a hand through it to keep it from getting into his eyes.
Luke rounded on him, a tense expression setting onto his face; there was an almost sad look in his eyes as he looked at Scott. "He'll never love you," he said with a strange tone in his voice. "He doesn't love anyone but himself."
"I'm not in love with him," Scott said, desperate to make Luke realize this. It wasn't true, he wasn't deluding himself. The more this went on, the angrier he was getting at the whole situation.
"Everyone does," Luke snapped, "that's just the way it goes. He's smarter, he's popular, and everyone fucking loves him. He can't do anything wrong; every time he does people make excuses for him. He gets a girl pregnant, oh, it's okay, he just made a mistake. He drops out of school, well that wasn't his fault he's just taking a break till the baby's born."
Scott frowned, shivering slightly from the cold; what was going on? This wasn't what he had expected; he stood a moment dumbstruck trying to make sense of what Luke was saying.
"It doesn't matter anyway," Luke's shoulders fell slightly. "Serena has the cell phone so I'm going to walk up to the farm house and call the AA..."
"How about you just stay put and tell me what you're talking about," Scott said firmly. He had simply reached the end of his rope; was everyone insane in this country? Or had his friends picked that day, of all days, to collectively go crazy? Whichever, he wasn't about to let Luke go, not with the wrong impression.
"Why?" Luke said returning to his earlier angry state, "don't you think you've caused enough aggro for one day?"
"How dare you say that my behaviour is unacceptable!" Scott had flipped, he advanced on Luke, fury in his eyes, "You're so fucking condescending, who the hell do you think you are?" He was inches away from Luke now, soaking wet and yelling at him, "I've had enough of it. I've had enough of you, your goddamn brother who seems to think everyone is out to sleep with him, and I'm sick of everyone thinking they're better than me. I have just had it!" He seethed, realizing he wasn't making much sense, but then he had so many thoughts going around in his head that he just had to get them all out, "You've never liked me anyway!" He swore again, turned his back and began to storm away.
"That's not what I said..." Luke's voice was deadly quiet, a hint of fear in it. It was enough to stop Scott cold. He closed his eyes, trying to work out the meaning of that statement, and he looked back over his shoulder.
"What?" He asked, his own voice reflecting his confusion.
"I never said that." Luke repeated, his voice getting a little stronger, "You just have no clue do you? You've been too busy staring after my brother to realize it."
Scott's eyes slid closed as yet another piece of the puzzle slid into place, his head sank lower till his chin rested on his chest and he knew the world had indeed gone insane in a single day.
It took a while, the rain falling steadily between them, before Scott could find his voice, "Had you even thought to ask?" He turned at Luke who was staring at his shoes, the bitter policeman, the man who was so angry at the world and everything in it couldn't even face him. Scott took another step back towards him, "You just made the same assumption everyone else did, and you just wrote me off without even giving me a chance."
"I..." Luke began.
"No, I'm talking." Scott said firmly raising a finger, "You made up your damn mind, and then proceeded to make my life as miserable as yours. You know what I think? I think you love it that you're miserable, you love hiding in your brother's shadow, that way you can blame him every time you don't get what you want. Look at me..." Luke kept his gaze fixed on the ground, and Scott roared, "Fucking look at me!"
Luke glanced up, meeting Scott's wild eyes.
"Listen to me, I am not in love with your brother," Scott said slowly, deliberately, making it as clear as he could. "I said something to him, and he mistook what I said..."
"I..." Luke tried again, struggling to find the words, trying to put his perspective on the world at that moment together again. Scott's words had sent him reeling; there was confusion on his face as he warred between his anger and his hopes trying to work it all out.
"Ask me!" Scott demanded.
"But..." Luke tried again to form words.
"Say it!" Scott had his hands on his hips, still furious at the situation.
"I don't know how to ask..." Luke said in defeat as his shoulders sank again. His eyes looked at Scott with a mixture of hope and hopelessness.
"Fine," Scott replied, "if you won't I will. Kiss me!" He held up a finger, "but if I get one hint your usual facetious sarcasm, you can forget it!"
Luke stared at him nervously, blinking at him in the sodden weather. He looked strange again, contemplative, no longer wrestling with himself; he now seemed a different kind of uncertain. He opened his mouth and tried to say something.
Scott arched an eyebrow; "You have kissed someone before..." he stopped and blinked at Luke, realizing who he was talking to, "Oh..."
Luke licked his lips nervously, "Can't say that I have..." he said with a tense smile trying to make a joke out of his sudden lack of confidence.
Scott threw his hands up into the air, "You really don't know how to make things easy do you? First you make me miserable, then when you get what you want you..."
Luke kissed him, a coarse kiss at first, a rough pressing of his lips against Scott's. His eyes were wide and fearful of the rejection he was expecting, and for a moment Scott had a clear window into the terrified soul of the other young man. Scott smiled; gently parting his lips and returning the kiss, feeling Luke's hands wrap themselves about him, feeling the thrill of his touch.
Luke broke the kiss and shook his head, reaching up to turn Scott's visor so it sat sideways on his head, "Bloody useless thing," he muttered bending in again.
"Whoa," Scott stated, smiling, putting both hands up to stop Luke's advance, "You're getting ahead of yourself, you still haven't asked permission."
Luke looked a little lost, holding Scott around the waist and staring at him from a few inches away, "I still feel silly." he said. "What am I supposed to say, nice shoes lets..."
"Finish that sentence and you are walking home," Scott stated setting his jaw. "If I wanted cheesy pick-up lines I'd rent a Bond film..."
Luke gave him a devious look, "Well, hello there Ms. Moneypenny," he said in a flawless Sean Connery imitation, "Is M in his office?"
Scott laughed, "Ok, I so asked for that..."
"That is correct," Luke continued with the accent. "Now about that kiss..."
Scott rolled his eyes, "You sure you're Luke? You didn't get possessed or something in Canterbury? We are in the rural part of England, where all those alien crop circles appeared..."
Luke was kissing him again, and he sighed, relaxing into a kiss that this time was softer, more exploratory. Luke was growing eager developing a taste for the kissing, a hunger that he was just beginning to discover for the first time. And Scott pushed him away laughing.
"Ok, ok, stop..." he said slipping out of Luke's arms.
"What?" Luke asked in concern, his brow furrowing, obviously afraid he had screwed up somehow.
"It's okay," Scott replied trying to stop his giggles. "I'll be all right, it's just... you're a fucking asshole." He was laughing so hard at the absurdity of the situation; he was kissing Luke in the middle of a thunderstorm in rural Kent. The same Luke who had been so mean to him as a boy, the same one who had called him a prat and had treated him like crap. The same Luke who had just kissed him not once, but twice now.
Luke nodded, "I deserved that," he admitted, looking about as if realizing it was raining for the first time.
"Are you even gay?" Scott asked, sobering up from his laughter and looking Luke straight in the eye.
"I've never really thought myself much of anything," Luke confessed. "Too busy with life to stop and think about it. I mean, if you'd asked me last week if I'd ever kiss a bloke, I'd have told you to get stuffed... It's like, I don't know..." he finished lamely, "You're the first person that's ever gone out of their way to get to know me."
Scott nodded, "What about Darren?"
"Griff? Well, Darren's different than everyone else, we used to beat each other up at school. After you fight someone for the better part of four years, sooner or later you realize you respect them and after that fighting just seems so pointless. So we started going out for beers and playing pool; that's it, unlike you..."
"Who actually wouldn't leave you alone," Scott supplied.
"You and those damn chips," Luke snarled, shaking his head. `Then I decided to change my beat..."
Scott arched an eyebrow again, "I thought your mother..."
"Yeah, well I couldn't exactly tell your gran the truth now could I?" He shook his head, "Hi there, Mrs. Walker. By the way I changed my beat just so I could see your grandson..."
Scott nodded his head, "So you do like me..."
"Like you? I can't stop thinking about you." He lifted his hand to the side of his temple and shook it; "You're driving me crazy."
"Oh," Scott said, "well then... that's nice..." he really didn't know what to say to that bit of news.
"Well, I would have thought the kissing would have given you a hint," Luke admitted, taking another step forward. Scott took a step backwards. Luke forwards, Scott backwards again and again until Scott felt his back press up against the door of the Rover.
"I, err, seem to have run out of places to run," he said looking about him.
Luke rested his palms on the door on either side of Scott, "You're nicked, mate." he said in his best British bobby tone.
"Don't I get rights or something?" Scott asked, waving a finger.
"How do they go: you have the right to remain silent or something..." Luke said leaning in a bit closer, "...you have the right to an attorney, if you can't afford one then..." They kissed again, Scott closing his eyes and enjoying the feeling of Luke's kiss; he was certainly getting better with practice.
It was Luke who broke this kiss, stepping back and laughing. Scott blinked at him, "What this time?" he asked exasperatedly.
"You look like a drowned rat." Luke indicated Scott's bedraggled appearance.
"You're a fine one to talk," Scott replied, nodding to him. "Should we try to walk to the farm house or something?"
"We could stay here another night," Luke suggested looking back at the Winnebago.
Scott followed his glance, knowing full well what he meant by it. He felt his heart stop, and his stomach churn nervously, and he looked wide-eyed at Luke. "But, well we could... that is..."
Luke stared into his eyes, those deep brown globes that were looking at him now with no shred of malice, or suspicion; only genuine honesty. "Stay..."
The man from AA had fiddled under the hood for about an hour before instructing Scott to start the Rover and it rumbled to life sounding a lot quieter than it normally did. The mechanic slammed the hood and wiped his hands before pulling out some paperwork for Scott to sign.
He was again glad for the AA membership, always a wise investment for someone who didn't know the engine block from the alternator. His gran had been insistent that he get one before taking a road trip, and when she set her mind on something there would be no shifting it. So he signed the forms with a grateful smile to the mechanic, who gave him a nod before getting into his car and driving away.
Luke tossed the last of their bags into the back of the Rover and rested a hand on it, "Ready to go?" he asked, almost sounding reluctant.
It was Sunday morning, and after an early-morning excursion to call for a mechanic, they had finished getting ready to leave. It was almost as if the night before had been surreal; Luke had relaxed, still a quiet man, it had taken some time to get him to talk, Even though Luke had relaxed, he was still quiet and it had taken some time to get him to talk; but even then the conversation had been sporadic. Scott blushed at that thought.
Luke held up a finger, "No, before you get any more ideas."
Scott grinned, "I wasn't having ideas," he said, even though his face said that he was. He leaned out of the driver's-side window, "You coming?"
Luke shook his head in wonder at Scott, "I can see that keeping up with you is going to be a full-time job." He climbed aboard the rover, and buckled himself in. He looked reluctantly back at the camper, "Back to the real world then."
"Yeah," Scott said adjusting the visor on his head as he checked his mirrors.
"You know I hate that thing, right?" Luke commented. "It makes you look fourteen."
Scott rolled his eyes again and took it off, tossing it into the back, "Happy now?"
"Better," Luke agreed, as the Rover started its long journey home. Some time over the night it had stopped raining, and the sun was back in all its majesty; it was going to be another sweltering day. The kind spent on a beach somewhere sunning, or better yet in a beer garden with a tall pint where you didn't have to think about anything.
Scott wound his way towards Tunbridge Wells preferring a more direct route back to Hailsham than the one they had used to get there. It had been fine for travelling to, through all the scenery, but Scott was rather anxious to just get home; he wanted to talk to Serena and Darren and straighten things out with them about Dickie.
"Hot one," Luke said, surprisingly initiating a conversation, and Scott nodded his head, turning the car onto the road and accelerating slightly. Luke pulled out his sunglasses and put them on, resting back into his seat, "We need to talk..." he said, the nervous edge back in his voice.
Scott braced himself, here it comes.
"I..." Luke struggled to find words. "Look, mate," he rested his head against the frame of the door, "I'm no good at this..." he murmured shaking his head as he tried to form his thoughts.
"Right," Scott said a touch of bitterness entering his voice. He knew this story; Brian had fed it to him every morning-after. `Great night, but I'm not looking for a relationship.' Same worn-out line, and every time Scott had heard it he had no choice to accept it. If he had been thinking he would've told Brian where to go the first time, but he had just kept falling back into that trap. Now here he was going through it again.
"No," Luke said, shaking his head. "No, I didn't mean that, aw fuck me," he rubbed his face. "Tricky this."
Scott looked over at him, "It's okay, I understand."
"Shut up, Scott," Luke grinned at him, "I'm trying to ask you what you think about all this. I'm just trying to wrap my head around it, that's all."
Scott digested that a moment, "So," he said slowly, "you're not going to tell me it was a one-off..."
"Don't be daft," Luke shook his head. "I'm just trying to figure out what's next, that's all. I mean, you know... what now?"
"Well, for now I'm driving back to Hailsham," Scott smirked; sometimes he enjoyed being facetious.
"Don't be a pillock," Luke said sounding mildly annoyed. "You know full well what I'm on about."
"Yeah," Scott replied, the Rover accelerating out of a turn passing through a rural village, "I think you're proposing."
It was worth the dig just to see Luke's terrified reaction, his mouth hanging open as he gaped, obviously trying to figure out if Scott was serious. It was all Scott could do not to burst out laughing.
Luke recovered slightly and grinned, "Right, but seriously though, what do you want?"
Scott chewed his lip watching houses slip past as he swept around a small roundabout, what did he want? Could he get into a relationship with Luke? If he did what would that mean? How would he tell Gran... should he even tell Gran? Then of course there were his friends, and Luke's work, his work...
"I've never had a boyfriend before," Scott stated softly, "I'm not even sure what we're supposed to do in this situation."
"So you want to give it a go?," Luke asked. "Seriously, Scott."
Scott looked over at him again, the fun of awkward conversations. It had been simpler last night because they hadn't been thinking about the future, but on the trip home there was little choice but to face it. They were returning to reality and with it came a whole slew of problems.
"Ask me," Scott said softly. "Don't keep relying on me to make the first move, this one's yours."
Luke swallowed. "Right, then," he said, working up the courage, "I want you to be my... to be my... Bugger me this sounds silly."
"Yeah, just a bit," Scott grinned. "If you want we could stop at a pub, let you have a little Dutch courage."
"Yeah, get me into a pub right now, you'd never get me out again; I should be off my face for this." He looked over at Scott again, "Boyfriends, you, me...?"
"Sure," Scott shrugged, "not like I have any better offers lately."
"Asshole." Luke grinned back.
"That's my line," Scott replied. "Right, so that's the awkward part out of the way; boy, this is like working out a contract."
"Yeah," Luke agreed, "I should have a solicitor present." He scrubbed a hand through his short black spiky hair, "So what do we tell people?"
"That depends on you." Scott could sense Luke's apprehension, it was justified; it was after all his first day out of his closet and he wasn't exactly comfortable in his own skin in the first place. To suddenly burst out, prancing arm-in-arm with his new boyfriend up Hailsham High Street... that could be asking a bit much.
"Your gran is going to have my guts for garters," Luke murmured, resting his head on his hand.
"Wait a second," Scott said, "wasn't I the one seducing you?"
"Dream on," Luke countered. "If I recall I was the one who had to ask."
"Yeah, but I had to hit you over the head until you did," Scott retorted. "But you're right, Gran's a bit old fashioned; I don't think she'd understand..."
"Mum too," Luke agreed. "I don't know if I'm ready for one of her golden eppy's yet. So, we don't tell anyone then?"
"Well, not them at least," Scott agreed. "But Serena is going to know something's up, you can't put one past her."
Luke sucked his teeth, "You're right there. Griff's the same, though he'll never say anything."
"Right, then, so there's two that have to know," Scott concluded. "And I'd like to avoid Dickie for awhile..."
"That's probably for the best," Luke agreed. "Not that it would bother him, it's just Fleur was really upset when he told her..."
"Yes," Scott said dryly, "remind me to thank Dickie for that. Now I have the troglodyte mad at me."
"Ohh," Luke hissed, "yeah, she does look like one doesn't she."
"I meant her general demeanour." Scott replied, "How about we just forget this conversation before I get started on what I think of her right now."
"You are really going to get on with my mum," Luke responded nodding. "She thinks Fleur's a little off."
"Fleur is a little off," Scott agreed. "I think she keeps her ex-boyfriends in pickle jars..."
Luke settled back into his seat, "I'm going to have to tell Mum eventually aren't I." It wasn't so much a question as a statement.
Scott sighed, "You sure you want this Luke? I mean we could just stay friends or..."
Luke looked over at him, "I don't want to be your friend Scott; I don't want to go about like you don't matter, `cause you do." He sighed, "Ok that made no sense..."
"I get what you're saying," Scott replied. "You're in love..."
"Steady on!" Luke exclaimed. "I never said that..." he looked panicked, "I mean, it's not that I don't...but I do... well I... fuck me!"
"Winding you up," Scott said with a smug smile, the Rover turning onto the A22 for the last stretch to home.
Luke shook his head, "Great, so now I'm batting for the opposition and my boyfriend's being an arse. I knew I should have stayed in bed."
"You're relaxed for your first day," Scott chivvied back lightly. "Seriously though, you sure about this?"
Luke looked over at him, "Well, aside from the fact you're still a pratt, I think I'm okay with giving this a try. But let's be careful, alright?"
"I figured," Scott nodded. "You're a policeman after all."
"Now that's going to be fun," Luke mused darkly as he played with a piece of rubber sealing on the window. "I don't want to deal with that yet."
"Yeah," Scott agreed again. He didn't blame Luke at all; being gay was one thing, being a gay policeman was another. That was inviting trouble, and Luke was young, he had a hard enough time keeping respect without adding to the problem.
Luke reached out to squeeze Scott's knee with his hand, "But if I can deal with Mum, I can deal with anyone. Give me a bit of time to figure all of this out, how I want to tell people..."
"You're serious about this aren't you?" Scott said looking over at Luke.
Luke nodded, "Yeah, I guess you're too pretty for your own good. Always were."
Scott blinked at him, "Huh?"
"Well, when I first met you..." Luke searched for a polite way of putting it, "You were very... girlish..."
Scott turned at him, a neutral expression of indignation on his face, "Girlish?" he asked, an eyebrow climbing slowly.
"Anyone ever point out that a vein in your temple throbs when you're annoyed?" Luke said trying to change the subject quickly, realizing he was probably a bit too late.
"Girlish?" Scott repeated. "Well at least I wasn't a little psycho with a pencil!"
"You were hogging the poster paints," Luke replied in a feeble attempt to explain.
"Girlish?" Scott demanded, his voice climbing a strangled octave.
"You know," Luke said waving a finger, "Remind me never to tell you stuff, you don't react well..."
"Girlish?" Scott repeated setting his jaw, "Great, so I was a girl in school... great..."
"Yeah, but you grew..." Luke looked at Scott's diminutive stature, "Well, you didn't exactly grow...but as you got older you turned into a wicked Striker..."
"Keep digging," Scott said, mildly annoyed at being referred to as a pansy.
"Oh, don't be like that," Luke said, playfully pushing Scott's leg. "I didn't mean anything by it, I was just saying that I think you're good-looking."
"You said I was a girl!"
"I said you used to look like a girl; you're not effeminate at all. But you're not exactly David Beckham either." Luke blew out a sigh, "Ok, right now, this kind of conversation is the reason I don't date..."
"Girl..." Scott was still indignant, "you weren't bloody thinking that when you were..."
`Ok, ok..." Luke said stopping the conversation right there. "You're not a girl, I'm sorry for saying it." He was laughing now, shaking his head, "Ok, changing subject, we're nearly home and I don't think we should kiss goodbye on your doorstep..."
Scott turned the rover off of the A22 and into the outskirts of Hailsham. Taking a quick look behind him he pulled it off to the side and leaned over and kissed Luke quickly. "Happy now?" he asked.
"This is so going to take getting used to," Luke replied leaning in to steal another one, "but yeah, I'm happy."
"Good," Scott stated turning the Rover back onto the road and relaxing slightly. There was nothing better than returning to somewhere familiar after a long trip away. Tomorrow they would be back to the regular routine, but things were different now. They had to be.
Scott sighed softly to himself, things were definitely more complicated, but they were also much better.
The moment she saw him she knew something was going on. It was like a sixth-sense he was certain she possessed but then that was an impression she always left him with. Gran was one of those women who could just look at a person and sum them up in a glance. And as she buzzed about her kitchen that morning smiling at him, he was certain she knew something.
"Coffee, dear?" she asked extending the small pot to him. One of the first things he had done when he had started work was go out and buy her a trusty coffee pot. And though she never drank it herself, she always ensured he had some with his bowl of cereal in the morning.
"Thanks," he said, accepting it gratefully while glancing over the newspaper beside him, one of the tabloids that his gran enjoyed reading. It was more gossip than news; but unlike the tabloids in the States that were mostly fiction, at least this paper actually tried to be accurate in its reporting.
"So," she said picking up a cloth to wipe down the breakfast bar, "you didn't tell me about your trip. Darren was by yesterday looking for you; he seemed surprised you weren't back yet."
Scott nodded, turning the page of the newspaper, and was greeted with a picture of a rather large-breasted woman that dominated the third page. He turned the page quickly. "The Rover broke down so we decided to stay an extra night and call the AA in the morning."
"Oh," she said, giving him an I-told-you-so kind of look. "Perhaps you should have your Uncle Ron look at it?"
Scott nodded, "I'll drop it off there today and walk to work; it was running fine until it started to rain..."
"Fat lot of good a car that doesn't run in the rain will do you here," Gran sniffed again. She seriously disliked the noisy Rover, more from the fact she just didn't like cars. Every time he had offered to give her a lift she had politely refused, preferring to walk. But then Gran didn't own a VCR, or a microwave. It was as if she preferred to do things the way she had always done them. The television was a grudging acceptance of modernization, more from the fact that Gran had watched Corrie since its first episode.
"Well," Scott said with a smile as he closed the paper, "I have to get to work." He scooped up his coffee mug and drained it, shrugging on his sports coat feeling glad that he could get away without wearing the suit now that he had settled into his job.
"Will you be home for tea?" Gran asked as she picked up his empty bowl and took the mug from him, already washing them and setting them to drain dry.
"No," Scott replied, "Zulee has me working late this week; I'm configuring his fax machine..."
She turned to look at him, "Just stand there a minute," she said, an odd tone in her voice as she dried her hands on a tea towel.
"What?" he asked looking down at himself. Nothing seemed out of place; slacks ironed, tie tied, and the blazer, a deep grey-blue that suited him, looked sharp.
"You just look so grown up," she said, a touch of emotion in her voice as she brushed down his lapels. "You're on your way now, you'll soon be on your own two feet and moving out again."
Scott blushed a little at the attention, "Thanks Gran; I mean that, thanks for everything..."
"Oh, you don't need to thank me, Scotty dear," she said dismissively. "Now get to work before you're late."
He looked at her with the same eyes that had idolized her growing up. She was like a stalwart bastion against the changing world. No matter what, she was a constant, the one that kept the family together and kept them all sane.
"Oh, before I forget," Gran said stopping him one foot out the backdoor. "Your Uncle Nigel and aunt Debbie are coming down from Nottingham this week."
Scott nodded. He hadn't seen his dad's brother in years and it would be great to see him again. Uncle Nigel had been the `cool' relative; just young enough to still be interesting to the younger generation, yet old enough to be responsible. Aunt Debbie was one of those wonderful women, as well, with a great smile and a model's physique and nobody could work out exactly what she saw in Nigel, but it was undoubtedly love.
"Cool," Scott said before he closed the door behind him. He walked out to the Rover and climbed in, slamming the door twice to get it to latch. She started on the first try; whatever the AA mechanic had done it had worked, and Scott was soon running up South Road to Diplocks Way and Uncle Ron's garage.
Darren was covered in grease; barely eight-thirty in the morning and he had already gotten stuck in. He emerged from his bay, vainly wiping his hands on an oily rag that didn't seem to be helping his situation. He still had that sad look on his face as he watched Scott rumble up, and he leaned on the brush bar as Scott hopped down.
"Morning," he said, sounding tired.
Scott stuck his hands in his pockets, and nodded to the Rover, "She needs a look-over I think," he smiled. "And so do you by the looks of things."
"No, mate," Darren said shaking his head. "I'm okay, Mum just had me up at the crack of dawn today; you know what she's like." He sniffed and wiped his nose with the back of his hand, smearing oil across his cheek, "Heard you got stuck in Kent."
"Something like that," Scott said blowing out a sigh. "Dare I ask how your trip home was?"
Darren winced, "Tense; you still up for that drink later? I tried to find you yesterday but Gran said you hadn't come back yet."
"Yeah," Scott agreed, "you could pick me up after work and bring the Rover back to me; I'll buy you a pint at the Martlet..."
Darren winced again, "Chances of running into Mauvais Herbe are a little too great at the Martlet..."
"Mauvais Herbe?" Scott blinked.
Darren grinned, "Fleur is French for flower; Serena decided after we'd dropped them off that she was no flower so we started to call her Weed."
"Right, then," Scott said with a nod. "We'll go somewhere else; I want to clear up that mess the other day."
Darren nodded, "I bet you do."
Scott bobbed his head, "Yeah, it's all a big misunderstanding."
Ben tossed a screwed-up paper ball across the desk, which bounced off his head, "Hey, space case!" he said with his usual grin, "you awake over there?"
Scott looked up from the pdf document he'd been reading, "Huh?"
"You haven't said anything in an hour," Ben grinned, "which is a world record for you." He shrugged, "Besides, without your distraction I'm actually getting work done, and well, that's just no fun at all."
Scott fought back a yawn; it was getting close to the end of the day, and he reluctantly peered into his empty coffee mug, "Nothing much to say, really."
"Well that's no good," Ben replied petulantly. "Here I am waiting to hear all about your dirty weekend in a camper with five other people, and you're not talkative."
"It really wasn't like that," Scott reassured.
"But it was a camping trip; if there wasn't an orgy what's the point?" Ben was teasing him, and Scott rolled his eyes.
"There was no orgy," Scott stated firmly. "We did have a nice day in Canterbury..."
"So, no orgy, but something did happen, right?" Ben pressed a gleam in his eye.
"Why the sudden fascination with my sex life?" Scott asked, looking up and shaking his head in wonder.
"Because I have none of my own," Ben responded. "I have to live vicariously through yours."
"Aren't you married?" Scott asked again.
"My point exactly," Ben responded, getting up and collecting Scott's mug. "Now when I get back, you're gonna tell me all about it."
Scott shook his head as he stood up and stretched his legs and followed Ben to the coffee machine, the pair stopping in the kitchenette. Ben examined the suspect contents of the coffee pot before pronouncing it toxic and setting about making a fresh pot. Scott hopped to sit on the edge of the counter, looking back through the offices towards the door.
He was startled when the door crashed open on Doctor Hanratti; the aging doctor had his customary examination bag tucked under his arm and a slightly harassed look on his face. "Alright where are the old biddies? Warn them no pinching this time because I brought toe tags and body bags with me."
The town doctors took turns visiting the home, each taking part of the workload needed to ensure the residents of Ashley Gardens got the best care. Though from what Scott had seen, whenever Hanratti visited, the female residents developed mysterious illnesses that often cleared up right after he left. Hanratti milked it for all it was worth.
He saw Scott and walked across to him looking him up and down, "I see you've been indulging in your gran's cooking. Good; you need to put on weight." He turned to Ben, "Mister Appleby, I'll take a cup of that when you're done with it."
"Yes, Doctor," Ben replied.
"And how is young Mrs Appleby; well, I trust?" Hanratti was looking about the office, and Scott noticed again that Zulee was notably absent. He always was when Hanratti visited, probably something to do with cheating on the doctor's prescribed diet.
Ben nodded his head, "She's fine, doctor."
Hanratti gave a cursory nod, accepting the mug of coffee and striding away from them heading deeper into the home, "Bring out yer dead!" he intoned loudly. "Come on, look alive there Mrs. Jensen..."
"Such an odd man," Ben said shaking his head after the eccentric doctor. "When I first went to him I ended up getting a full physical and I was only going in for prescription renewal."
"You're lucky," Scott replied. "All I wanted was a passport signature, next thing I know I'm being poked and prodded with an array of things..."
"Oh," Ben said getting a dirty look on his face, "bet you enjoyed the prostate exam..."
"You're a vile creature sometimes," Scott responded as they made their way back to their office. Scott chuckled when he saw Zulee slipping out of the main doors, making good his getaway. Both young men gave their boss a look of sympathy as he made a mad dash for his car.
"Five pound says he won't make it," Ben offered.
"You're on," Scott replied.
Darren picked him up in the Rover after work and the two ended up at the George, conveniently close to the Police Station. Scott had an idea to collar Luke after he was done his beat so had left a message that he would meet him at the pub when he was done.
Once they were settled into a corner Darren looked about him. "Bet you didn't know that Gran used to be a bar maid here when she was our age," he said knowingly.
"You're kidding..." Scott glanced around the pub that didn't seem that old, "wow..."
"Yeah," Darren agreed, "So you were saying this morning about a misunderstanding?"
Scott rubbed the bridge of his nose, "Yeah, Dickie mistook something I said to him when I was drunk for a come-on, now it's been blown all out of proportions."
"Fleur was pretty pissed about it; she doesn't like you much right now," Darren grinned. "Not that it's a bad thing or anything."
Scott sighed, "What happened when I was off with Serena?"
Darren grunted into his beer, "She was bitching about you mainly, and she kept whining that she wanted to go home. You know Dickie, whatever Fleur wants, she gets; the guy's like a walking doormat."
"With a big mouth," Scott commented dryly. "I didn't hit on him, I just want that clear."
"It's okay," Darren said shifting in his chair. "Just killed the weekend though; I wish Dickie'd just kept his trap shut instead of spoiling it for the rest of us. I was really starting to make progress with Serena, too..."
Scott winced inwardly, uh-oh.
"What?" Darren asked with a sly grin. "Girl like that, `course I'm interested. She's all exotic and the like." He developed an almost dreamy look on his face, no doubt imagining things with that overactive mind of his.
Scott gritted his teeth and made a face, "Ok, there's a mental image I didn't need."
"Hey," Darren said resting his elbows on the table, "do you think if I asked her she'd go for it?"
"I don't know," Scott replied honestly.
"Could you...you know... you and her are best mates." Darren had the look of a hopeful teenager in love on his face and Scott didn't have the heart to tell him about what he had seen over the weekend.
"Hey," Darren said switching topics suddenly, "how'd you handle being stranded in Kent with Luke? I know he's not the easiest bloke to get along with."
"Well," Scott said, "we found we had something in common and it kind of went from there."
"Great,' Darren said. "He's a good bloke; bit low on the social graces but decent enough."
"So I noticed," Scott replied, wondering if he should just tell Darren or wait for Luke. Blessedly the off-duty policeman in question entered the pub sparing Scott from anymore worrying.
Luke saw them both and inclined his head as he joined them, sliding into the booth beside Scott, and under the table nudging Scott's knee twice with his own. The physical contact made Scott blush a little. "Alright then, lads," Luke greeted tapping his hands on the table.
Darren gaped at him a second; Luke was smiling openly. "You okay, mate?" he asked, staring in wonder at Luke's odd facial expression.
"I'm fine," Luke said settling back into the bench, more of his leg pressing up against Scott as he did so.
Darren stared at him strangely for a second of two, "You sure? You're...well...happy..."
"I should be," Luke said looking at the pair of nearly empty glasses. "Looks like you two are nearly done, round on me?"
Darren looked distressed, "Right, now I know something's wrong."
Luke sighed as he leaned over the table, "Ask your cousin," he smirked to himself as he abandoned Scott to a very curious Darren.
"Oh, you son-of-a-bitch," Scott shot after him, as he looked back at Darren.
"Spill it, shorty." Darren demanded.
Scott smiled, "You... well...I..." he stuttered, not exactly sure how to express himself at that moment. He swore to himself, "Ok, well, it's just that..."
Darren's jaw flopped open, and Scott knew that he had guessed. He turned and looked over at Luke who had paid for their drinks and was returning with them, "No!" he exclaimed in a hushed issuance of shock.
"Yeah," Scott nodded.
"No!" Darren shook his head incredulously, turning as Luke sat down. "No!" he laughed, shaking his head even faster.
"Yeah," Luke said screwing up his nose. "Disgusting, isn't it?"
"No!" Darren was stuck speechless, with only one word to express his disbelief.
"Yeah," Scott said; this was becoming a very repetitive conversation.
"You're having me on!" Darren decided. "This is where you both say that..." he looked at their faces, "you're not having me on, are you?"
"Nope," they both replied together.
Darren blew out a ragged sigh. "Shitty death!" he exclaimed loudly, "Mum's so gonna have a fit when she finds out."
"Speaking of finding out, Griff," Luke leaned across the table, "I'm only telling you this because you'd figure it out eventually anyway."
"You have my word," Darren swore solemnly. "Not a word about it... Christ, you of all people," he said, looking straight at Luke and still blinking in disbelief.
Luke shrugged; "Tell me about it." He looked at Scott and under the table nudged him again twice.
Darren caught the motion and glanced under the table, "Ok, now I know you're not fucking with me... Christ." He swore again, and then he grinned at Luke, "'bout time you got some."
"Hey!" Scott exclaimed.
Darren winked at him and leaned across the table. "So what's it like?" he asked teasingly.
"I am so not having this conversation with my cousin," Scott declared adamantly.
"Oh, I'm just pulling your leg," Darren said, waving him off. "I'm all about the minge." He licked his lips in a way that made Scott want to cringe in disgust.
"Ok, now I know it's time to change the subject!"