One more installment to go and this one's done :) There's a post board at www.crvboy.com where I also keep some of my other stories, feel free to drop by, drop me a line there, its all good...
yep this story is finished, so one more installment to come later this week.
Submitted for your approval.
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The sun never sets on the British Empire.
From there it had gone surprisingly well, and after the pub Scott had offered to run Luke back home, stealing a moment alone before Luke had reached for the door handle to go. The neighbourhood was familiar, Groveland's school had stood relatively close through a secluded alley tucked in the back of Forestview.
He got out of the Rover as well, looking about him, remember how as a little boy he had walked up this road to go to school, the proper little gentleman in his school uniform and...girlish features. All that time he had no idea that Luke had lived right on the school's doorstep.
Luke was watching him, casting the occasional glance at his bungalow, which was brightly lit and the sounds of the television reaching even out to the street. "What are you thinking?" he asked in concern, following Scott's look towards the alley that led to school. "Oh," he said softly.
Scott was already crossing the street; it was a warm night and he was just in his shirtsleeves, feeling the light breeze tickle his arms. He loved nights like this, they weren't uncomfortable. It was just perfect.
"Scott," Luke called warningly, but Scott was unresponsive as he walked into the alley, retracing steps he had taken a hundred times before. He remembered meeting Aunt Christine and Darren each day, pulling at his gran's hand to let him run off ahead. Wanting to get to the playground and his friends.
"Scott," Luke called again, jogging to catch up... but it was too late. He found Scott standing on the ground, staring at the block of new houses that had been erected where his school had sat. Scott's eyes swept about him for some sign of his childhood that had been so thoroughly eradicated. It was gone; the past was dead, lifeless. It could only exist in memory.
He swallowed back his emotion; he had learned to read where that new house sat, he had played where that car now sat... he had kissed his first girl over in the corner where a dog was barking. Scored his first goal...
He felt Luke wrap his arms around him from behind, just pulling him against his chest, resting his chin on Scott's shoulder, and in stunned silence Scott just stood there shivering. This was his past, and it was gone.
"Four generations of my family went to that school," he said quietly, the pain evident in his voice.
"They built a larger school just up on Grovelands Road," Luke said into his ear still holding onto him. "It's beautiful on these great fields; the kids have everything they need."
Scott nodded feeling Luke's breath on his neck and he leaned his head back a little, "It's a good change then," he said, emotion still rich in his voice.
"I should have warned you," Luke said, concern still evident in his.
"Not your fault..." Scott turned, still in Luke's arms. "You realize I'm standing about where you stabbed me."
"Actually," Luke said pushing him forwards a bit and off to one side, "It was more like here. And how many times do I have to apologize for that?"
Scott blew out a sigh and rested his forehead against Luke's staring into his eyes, "Last time, I promise."
Luke rolled his eyes, "You're a demanding sod aren't you."
Scott kissed him.
"Oi! You two...get off my bloody lawn!!" a rather loud man bellowed from the doorway of his house.
Both Luke and Scott took off at a run, laughing as they sprinted back up the alley back to Luke's house, the sound of a rather annoyed homeowner bellowing obscenities after them.
They fell panting against the wall of Luke's house, Scott breathing hard and still trying to stop laughing as he looked back the way they had just run. Luke shook his head at him grinning like a maniac, clutching onto his knees and catching his breath.
"What's going on here, then?" Jan's voice demanded suspiciously as she wheeled herself out of the backdoor, "You two up to mischief?" She gave them both a suspicious look that was so typical of certain members of the Allston family.
"Yes, Mum." Luke replied with no hint of sheepishness in his voice.
"Well," Jan sounded puzzled, "Is that young Scotty Walker with you?" she asked, peering into the gloom.
"Just keeping him out of trouble, Ma'am," Scott replied with a smile as he straightened up and smiled at Scott's mother.
She gave them both a look that said she knew full well what boys their age were capable of getting up to, and Scott was glad she didn't know the half of it. "All right then, well, supper is on the stove." She paused and looked at Scott, "I presume you probably haven't eaten either, so haul yourself inside as well and get something to eat." She gave him a stern look, "And no arguments from either of you."
They both nodded, "Yes," and shuffled into the bungalow behind her, Scott accepting a seat at the dining-room table as Luke began to dish up two plates of Shepherd's pie. Jan gave them both a critical look until they were both tucking happily into the meal before she returned to the front room and the noise of the tele.
"Welcome to the family," Luke said, beginning to sober up from his uncharacteristic enthusiasm as he shovelled another fork full into his mouth.
Scott began to reply when something short, dark-haired and loud came roaring through the dining room holding onto a toy aeroplane; he squeaked to a stop when he saw Scott sitting at the table. He looked startled a moment before tearing off bellowing, "Mummy, Mummy, there's a stranger in the kitchen!"
"That would be the sprog," Luke said gesturing with his fork after the fleeing little monster. To Scott it looked the spitting image of Luke at that age. He shifted and tucked his feet under the well-scrubbed table and glanced around; this was his first time in the Allston house.
There were coats hanging precariously from a coat rack that had seen better days and had definitely never been designed to hold that many coats; it looked ready to topple over at any moment. There was a sewing machine tucked into the corner with a pile of trousers that needed re-hemming, hand-me-downs were essential in a family that big, Scott reasoned.
The television began to sound out the trumpeted notes announcing Coronation Street and Luke screwed up his nose, "Well, Mum's going to be distracted for awhile," he surmised.
"Nothing wrong with Corrie," Scott replied with a smile, "I know Gran's been watching it for years."
It was like watching a full-on retreat from the front room. First the `sprog' came barrelling out running past both of them again to tumble into a heap in front of a toy box which he began pulling toy cars out of. Moments later, another lanky-looking teen about fifteen ambled out, nodding to the two of them as he inverted a chair and straddled it, sitting at the table.
"Joel, Scott; he's Mrs Walker's grandson," Luke introduced. Reaching into a bag of sliced bread in the middle of the table and pulling out a slice, he tore it into slivers and mopped the gravy from his plate.
"Scott," Joel greeted with a smile, before looking back at Luke. "Mum's pissed at you," he said in a knowing tone.
"Don't swear," Luke said. "Why's she mad this time?"
"You didn't take the rubbish out before you left, Dickie did it instead."
Luke rolled his eyes, "Great, something else to be mad at. She does realize I work, right?" The coldness was seeping back into his eyes, a deep-seated apathy for everything; and under the table Scott nudged him twice with his knee.
"I'll go talk to her," he said, getting up and absently allowing his hand to accidentally touch Scott shoulder before he vanished into the front room.
Dickie stomped in from the backdoor, pulling up short as the sprog wrapped his arms around his legs. "Whoa, hey there," he said, bending down to scoop Jasper up into a full hug.
Joel was grinning, "Hey Dickie," he greeted.
Dickie looked in some surprise to see Scott sitting at the table, but nodded at him with a puzzled look on his face before putting Jasper down.
"Your mum insisted," Scott offered, gesturing to the living room where the sounds of yelling were just beginning.
Dickie rolled his eyes listening to it start before he walked over to the stove and heaped the last of the food onto a plate and joined Scott at the table. "I usually let them have it out," he said as if explaining it. "Wanted to apologize for Fleur last weekend."
"No need," Scott said, shaking his head as he finished his own supper, "I should be apologizing to you, I think; we got our wires crossed or something."
Dickie shrugged it off, "Water under the bridge, don't worry about it. Fleur just gets a little possessive, that's all." He was giving Scott that penetrating look as if trying to read him again, "We shouldn't have just left you two there like that; if we'd have waited you wouldn't have ended up stranded like that."
"No worries, it all worked out in the end," Scott reassured, as the yelling in the living room was getting louder. Both mother and son possessed the same capacity for arguing and used it liberally. Scott couldn't make out what was being said, but he knew it was getting heated.
Dickie looked up apologetically, "It'll blow over soon." He decided to change the subject, "What are you doing on Saturday? I need to make a run into Eastbourne if you wouldn't mind giving me a lift."
"Sure, no problem," Scott agreed wondering why Dickie didn't just ask Serena; but then after everything was said and done last weekend, it was probably smarter for Scott to do it. Not that Fleur would see it that way.
"Great, glad I can count on you."
The yelling reached a fever point and the front-room door slammed as Luke stalked out; he was livid, and didn't acknowledge anyone as he threw open the back door and slammed that behind him as well. Dickie blew out a sigh and looked over at Joel who just shrugged.
Scott looked back and forth and made to get up.
"You should leave him be," Dickie warned, "he just needs to cool off."
Scott was torn; if he ran after Luke he would have to explain why, but if he just left Luke alone and obviously upset... He shrugged, "Yeah, but he's a friend..."
Joel and Dickie both looked at him, surprised at his declaration of friendship with their brother. He used that moment to slip out after Luke. He caught up to him walking down the road, hands thrust deep into his pockets and a dark scowl on his face.
"Hey," Scott said, jogging up alongside of him and falling into step.
"Not now, Scott," Luke growled, keeping his eyes focused ahead of him as he walked.
Scott sighed as he kept pace, respecting Luke's need for quiet, taking the opportunity to just be there for Luke in the way Luke had been there for him at the school grounds. He kept stealing glances at Luke, hoping for a flicker of the Luke he was falling for, the one that hid behind all the anger, the one that was tender and eager and loving all at the same time.
"It's just not right," Luke said after a minute, "I work just as hard as Dickie does at home, and I have a full time job..." He shook his head, "If he had forgotten the rubbish she would have just made me or Joel take it out and nothing more would be said about it. But because it's me there's a big deal." He shook his head and swore.
Scott nodded, keeping quiet; he had nothing to really relate it to, he'd moved out of his dad's as soon as he could. Now there were several thousand miles between him and his immediate family. All he had to worry about at home was ensuring Gran was okay.
"I mean, Christ, I've been at work all bloody day, bringing money home and have I ever gotten a thank you? All Dickie does is laze about the place, lifting a finger when he has to; he doesn't contribute, doesn't do anything and yet he's golden." He shook his head, "What do I have to do?"
Scott reached out a hand and brushed Luke's shirt and Luke shrugged it off, not wanting the physical contact. Scott withdrew his hand and went to stick it back into his pocket. But Luke reached out his own and caught it. Just holding it lightly for a moment before letting it go.
"I'm sorry, Scott," he said slowly.
Scott turned to him, "It's fine; look, I don't get on with my dad, I understand what it's like. I just, I guess you're more patient than I am."
Luke nodded as they rounded another corner, darker and secluded from the main street. And Scott suddenly found himself swept up into Luke's arms as Luke just held on for a moment or two, letting him go again a moment later.
"Sorry," he said turning away, and turning back with a hopeful look in his eye before he blushed and turned away again.
"It's ok," Scott said nudging him, "shows me how you really feel about me."
Luke glanced back, "Why do you bother with me, Scott?"
Scott shrugged, "'cause I'm a stupid little prat," he replied. "Besides, I like the uniform."
There was something wrong with being up early on a Saturday morning. Gran, it seemed, was always up at the crack of dawn busying herself with laundry or a whole host of other chores she seemed to always find to keep her occupied. That morning it was the vacuuming.
Scott was sure she took delight in ensuring he didn't get to lie in; the roaring vacuum drew closer to his room and he grudgingly opened an eye. He'd had a late night the night before, out with Serena. Luke had been working late so they hadn't had a chance to see each other. Time was a rare commodity between Luke's awkward hours and Scott's steadier yet inflexible schedule at the home.
He sat upright reluctantly and swung his feet out of bed, stumbling out of his room and crossing the landing to the bathroom, stepping around Gran's vacuum that threatened the trip him if he wasn't careful. Gran gave him a bemused look as he sleepily stumbled into the bathroom.
"Morning, sleepyhead," she said cheerfully, a voice that was entirely too happy for that early on a Saturday morning. And he grunted out a reply as he shut the door and ran the shower, relieved for the fresh water that helped him return to some semblance of consciousness.
He was towelling off his head when the doorbell rang, and he poked his head out of the bathroom to hear Gran greeting Dickie and insisting he have some breakfast. Scott grimaced at the thought of a heavy English breakfast, but the smell of fresh coffee wafting through the house definitely warmed him to the idea.
He tugged on a pair of jeans and a football shirt he had found in amongst the latest additions to his wardrobe his gran had made. He figured why not; it was comfortable and wasn't going to draw too much attention while he was bumming around Eastbourne with Dickie.
Suitably armed with a cup of coffee, he nodded to Gran as Dickie looked up from a large breakfast that looked suspiciously like it had been prepared for Scott. Gran was already working on a second plate as she merrily set sausages to sizzle in the pan.
"Morning," he murmured, sipping the coffee happily as he took his customary seat at the breakfast bar, yawning for the umpteenth time that morning. He wondered if he could get away with just giving Dickie the keys, stumbling back upstairs and curling up under his covers again, but one look at Gran told him that would not be a possibility.
Curses; foiled again.
"So what are you two lads up to today?" she inquired, cracking a couple of eggs.
Scott blinked and looked over at Dickie, "Yeah, what are we doing?"
Dickie beamed, "I have a couple of errands to run, a few things to pick up. It's Mum's birthday in a few weeks and I wanted to pick up something special."
"Is it?" Gran asked in surprise. "I thought it was later in the year; I'll have to make sure to pick something up for her, then."
Scott's brow furrowed--Gran didn't forget birthdays--and he shot her a worried look. She missed it as she buttered the toast and brought the plate over to him. He sighed as he set about working on his breakfast.
"Is your brother Joel stopping by today to do the garden?" Gran asked, already washing the pans.
Dickie nodded between bites, "He should be here at ten; Mum turfed him out of bed at the same time as me this morning."
"That's good; teenagers do like to laze about, don't they?" She threw Scott a look that said she knew exactly how badly he wanted to be back in his bed.
Dickie chuckled, "We all do it, Mrs. Walker; I'm just glad Scott offered to ferry me about today."
Scott grumbled into his coffee mug.
"Stop that," Gran admonished him before turning to Dickie. "His granddad used to do that," she explained, "grumble so low as you didn't hear him. I knew exactly what he was saying, though."
"I was just saying what a beautiful day it was outside," Scott responded innocently.
"Well, just remember not to be too late home tonight; your Uncle Nigel is coming today and I'm sure he wants to see how you've grown."
Scott smiled, he'd forgotten all about that. Too many things going on with Luke and with work it had just slipped his mind. It would be great to finally have a drink with Nigel, see how he'd changed, and more importantly what he thought about his nephew all grown up.
Scott absently looked at his watch, sitting in the small café in the middle of the Arndale Centre with a very cold mug of coffee in front of him. Dickie had ducked off to do his errands and had insisted that he wouldn't be long. That had been nearly three hours ago, and Scott's well of patience was running dry. There were better things he could be doing rather than sitting watching the ebb and flow of shoppers around him going about their ritualistic Saturday shopping trips.
The café was situated in the middle of a square bank of shops. In North America it would have been called a food court, except for the fact there was only the one café and the décor was a lot more upscale.
He was bored senseless, and contemplating going home; Dickie could ride a bus like everyone else for all he cared. Least he could have done was stopped back to let Scott know what was happening.
"Scott!" Serena bellowed coming out of the big Boots Pharmacy and waving to him. He started, a touch surprised, but then he rationalized Serena always shopped on a Saturday at the Arndale Centre and the mall really wasn't that big so when he thought on it the chances of running into her that afternoon were pretty good.
He set his coffee cup down and waved her over, and she bounded across to him, grinning a big toothy grin. "I knew you were a closet style-queen," she said, sitting down across from him and beaming at him.
He shook his head, "Not really, I'm waiting for Dickie..."
"Really?" she looked confused. "He's up at the Gildridge pub with a bunch of his friends. I saw them when I was parking the car at the station."
Scott didn't look impressed, "I see."
"Yeah, he's got quite a group with him in there," Serena said, not noticing Scott's annoyed look, "it's quite the get-together."
Scott sighed as he got up, "Well, in that case I should just go home then..."
"No," she said reaching out to catch his arm. "You can come with me, I'm getting my hair done and there's still plenty of shopping time." She looked at his hair disparagingly, "And if you want I could ask Tasmin if she can fit you in."
He instinctively reached up to his hair which he had to admit was getting a bit long. And it wasn't as if he had anything better to do at that moment so he nodded, "Sure..."
"That's the spirit!" she exclaimed enthusiastically. "Do you trust me?" she asked as they walked out onto Eastbourne's shopping precinct.
"Why do I get cold chills whenever you say that?" he commented dryly as they walked into the stylists.
"Because you love me," she replied with another grin. "Hi Tasmin," she said addressing the beautiful woman behind the counter. "I have an appointment, but I was wondering if you could fit my best mate Scott in as well?"
Tasmin gave him a big smile as her eyes swept over him appreciatively, "Oh he's fit Serena; that your new bit of fluff?"
"Fluff?" Scott asked, looking confused.
"Oh, and he has an accent too. I love a man with an accent," she said, taking him by the arm and guiding him into a chair, taking the time to wrap him in the stylist cape to protect his clothes from falling hair. "Cor, Serena, you got quite a catch here," Tasmin said, running her hands through his hair.
"He's not my boyfriend, Taz," Serena said as Tasmin's assistant began to wash her long hair in the sink.
"Oh, single too." She picked up a spray bottle and began to damp down his hair. "How would you like this cut, then?" she asked, scrubbing the water in.
Scott made to open his mouth but Serena cut him off, "He needs something like that." Serena nodded to a picture up on the wall that was just out of Scott's ability to see it; he tried to turn his head, but Tasmin had a firm grip on his head holding him still.
"Alright love, I'm going to have to give him highlights..."
Scott blinked. His head was being hijacked by two women, and as he attempted to protest he was laughed at. So he sat with a scowl deepening on his face as he felt the scissors clipping away, Tasmin and Serena happily chatting away about the latest gossip. He wondered darkly how much she was paying attention to the job on hand.
"Oh, you're going to look good for all the girls..." Tasmin said as she used the buzz clippers to straighten out his side burns.
Serena chuckled at that and Tasmin looked at her then down at Scott, "...or boy's, then."
"Well the jury's still out on that one," Serena giggled. "He says he's gay, but he has yet to prove it."
"I don't tell you everything," Scott fired back and Tasmin began to apply the highlight cream, wrapping parts of his hair in tinfoil.
"Oh?" Serena asked sitting upright. "You're keeping something from me?"
Scott grimaced. He'd actually tried to tell her the night before at the pub, but with so many other people about it had been hard to actually get her alone long enough to say something. He looked away from her and at his reflection in the mirror wondering what he was going to look like after this ordeal was over, both physically and in Serena's eyes.
Serena caught the look in his eyes and she suddenly grew a toothy grin. "You've been hiding a man haven't you!" she said with certainty. "What's his name... it's not that Ben from work, is it?"
Scott shook his head. "No, it's not Ben," he replied.
"But I am right, it is a feller... go on, what's his name?" She pried eagerly.
He sighed loudly, "If I tell you it's got to stay between us, okay?" he asked giving her a meaningful look.
Serena glanced at Tasmin. "We won't tell a soul," she said, crossing her heart.
"Me either," chimed in Tasmin who mimicked the gesture.
Scott looked up at her in trepidation; stylists were notoriously bad at keeping juicy gossip to themselves. Tasmin pouted a little as she went through to the back to make a cup of tea, waiting for the peroxide to do its magic on Scott's hair.
When she had gone, Serena leaned in, "Go on then, who is it?"
Scott looked at her and mouthed "Luke." She frowned at him and he whispered it.
"Luke who?" she asked a little loudly.
He gave her a look that said she knew he only knew one Luke. She frowned, then her eyes went wide as she clued in. "No..." she breathed, hand covering her mouth.
He nodded, as Tasmin returned with a cup of tea for each of them.
"But..." Serena was about to say his name, thought better of it and tried again, "but he's an arsehole!"
"He's a good kisser," Scott replied with a shrug.
"But..." Serena was awestruck, "how did you... the trip!" she exclaimed. "You two weren't stuck after all..."
"We were," Scott admitted. "It sort of gave us a chance to talk."
She shook her head in wonder, "So that's why..."
"Yep." Scott nodded.
Serena screwed up her nose, "Did you two... you know...?"
"You did," Scott replied, reminding her that he wasn't the only one to go on a camping adventure that weekend with an Allston boy.
"But..." she chose her words carefully again, "him of all people?" she tsked. "You two have been carrying on behind my back all this time; I'm hurt, Scott Walker!"
"It's only been a week," Scott shot back, "and it's not like I exactly had a chance to tell you, now is it?"
Tasmin was keeping very quiet listening to them as she began to pick the tinfoil out of his hair. And Scott was reminded that he really had no idea what they were both doing to him. It was like being on one of those make-over shows where they did atrocious things to you in the name of fashion, at the end of it sending you back to your dreary life looking like a million dollars.
Serena shook her head, "Him though... that's just wrong and you know it. His mum's going to hit the roof if she finds out."
"Then she'd better not find out," Scott said deliberately, as Tasmin turned him back to the mirror so that he could get a look.
He was shocked. The style was very English, cropped close at the sides with a long fringe, the blond highlights giving a lighter expression to his face. He felt he looked like Robbie Carlyle, though in reality he probably looked nothing like him. It was the first thing he thought when he saw the style. Combined with the football jersey there was no mistaking him for an American.
"Wow..." he said, blinking and tapping a lock of fine hair that had fallen across his forehead.
"It looks great!" Serena said with a smile, her hair still firmly setting into its perm. "Just need to get your ear pierced and you're all set..."
"What?" he looked frightened, his hand reaching up to his earlobe.
"Your ear pierced," she said resolutely. "Come on, it'll look good..."
"Says who?" Scott stated, getting up to pay Tasmin.
"She's right, love," Tasmin agreed. "You should get it done."
"No," he said, shaking his head. "That's okay..."
He fingered his tender earlobe, wondering what on earth had possessed him to let her talk him into that? But when Serena was on a mission to get what she wanted there had been no stopping her. Apparently he had owed it to her for not telling her earlier about Luke.
He snorted as he slung the Rover into its usual spot across the road from Gran's house, tucking it behind an unfamiliar white Citroen with a large dog staring back at him. He blinked at it, as it in turn blinked back at him before it went nuts in the back seat, barking like crazy.
He climbed down and slammed the door, stopping to slam it again; he'd have to get that fixed eventually. He hadn't bothered to go find Dickie; he was probably still at the Gildridge with his friends whiling away the day in the bottom of a pint glass. Scott was still upset at that, he wasn't Dickie's chauffer service.
He crossed the road, nodding to old man Roberts who was clipping his hedge. Mister Roberts gave him his customary turtle-esque look before waving at him. "I hear from old Zulee things are going well over at the home."
Scott smiled, "Yes they are, thank you Mister Roberts; I really appreciate the help."
Mister Roberts waved off the thanks, "The fact that you are doing well is thanks enough, my boy."
Scott smiled to himself as he walked in the back door, and drew up short as the two people sitting around the kitchen table stopped to look up at him.
There was no mistaking Uncle Nigel, even though his hair was turning grey at the temples and there were definite lines around his eyes. He had his distinctive Walker dopy grin on his face as he got up and clasped Scott's hand firmly, pumping it up and down.
"Scott!" he said warmly, still pumping the hand, and giving him the once over. "You've grown up then, haven't you."
Scott smiled, "I tried to stop."
"I can see that," Nigel said, stepping back and shaking his head. "God do you ever look like your father." He squinted at the earring, and grinned, "And Mum's going to just love that..."
"Mum's going to love what?" Gran said, returning to the kitchen. She stopped and examined Scott's hair, "Yes it's very nice dear, suits you..." she paused when she saw the earring. "Now what did you go and do that for?" she said with a disapproving look.
"Serena," Scott replied with a grin. "I owed her one."
"Do I even want to ask?" Nigel stated with a knowing look. "Anyway, you remember your Aunt Debbie?" He turned and Debbie stood up to shake his hand, still looking as beautiful as ever. She affixed him with her dark eyes and gave him a hug.
"Well, we were just on our way out," Nigel said, motioning to the door. "We're going over to say hello to Debbie's mum and dad; you'll probably be welcome as well..."
Scott shook his head, "No, that's okay, I'll be in the way. Besides I'll catch up with you later tonight."
Gran was already putting on her coat. Gran and Debbie's mother were old bingo friends, and in fact they had been the ones to conspire to get Nigel and Debbie together in the first place. She smiled at Scott, "Well, there's a macaroni and cheese dinner in the freezer if you feel like eating; we shouldn't be too late."
Scott shrugged, "Thanks, you guys have fun."
Scott was settling in for a night at home. Sure he could have gone out, but after being abandoned by Dickie most of the day, he really didn't feel like it. He wanted to stay home, watch some bad T.V., crawl into bed early and write the weekend off entirely.
He shifted, trying to get comfortable on the Victorian-style couch that his grandmother liked so much. It was one of those high-backed, lightly-cushioned affairs with wings, never designed for a young man to sprawl out on. It was perfect for little old ladies sipping tea on the edge of the seats, though. He grumbled about the rotten day he was having when he finally gave up and tossed some cushions onto the floor.
He stopped when he picked up an unfamiliar remote control, staring at it stupidly before looking about the living room. There, under the T.V. was a brand new VCR; no doubt Uncle Nigel had seen fit to modernize Gran's living room. Scott grinned, there was one option; he could walk down to the corner store and rent a film.
He yawned tiredly, fighting off sleep as he picked up the right remote and flicked on, happily discovering something passable and relaxing in to watch the show. Yet fate had other plans. The doorbell ringing at that moment caused him to look up in annoyance. The whole point of his choosing to stay in was to allow him a chance to be by himself. He clambered back to his feet and went out to the front door, swinging it open on a nervous-looking Luke. He was still in uniform, a peaked cap tucked under his arm this time instead of his customary helmet.
He nodded, still looking uncomfortable, though his eyes did soften as he saw Scott open the door. "Hi," he said dropping his voice a bit, "I was just making the rounds and..."
"Gran's gone out," Scott said, breaking into a smile. Luke was nervous, but that hadn't stopped him from stopping by though.
Luke broke into a shy smile, "Well, I can come back.
"No, no," Scott said, glancing over at Mister Roberts who wasn't seeming to pay attention. He was used to Luke dropping by for his evening sandwich on his regular beat; not that Scott blamed him at all, Gran's sandwiches were top rate. "If I turn you away, Gran will never let me hear the end of it, come in for a second."
He waved Luke inside, and had barely closed the door when Luke had enveloped him in a tight hug, pressing his nose into the nape of Scott's neck.
Scott looked down at him and grinned. "Hello to you, too." he said cheerfully, his earlier reluctance for company vanishing completely as he enjoyed Luke's embrace.
"Sorry," Luke said, letting go and sighing. "I haven't had much of a chance to do that since Monday."
Scott nodded, "It's okay; you're busy and I work days..."
"Well, I have some time," Luke said, glancing at his watch.
Scott's jaw dropped open, "Now? Aren't you doing your beat or something?"
Luke held up a finger and clicked on his mic, talking to dispatch through his radio. A few moments later he looked up at Scott, "I told them I have a migraine headache and asked for the rest of the night off." He smiled, "Sarge owes me for covering for him the other week so it looks like I'm all yours..."
Scott shook his head in disbelief, "Okay, so I have my very own police officer for a few hours... this I can live with." He looked Luke up and down, "Have you eaten yet?"
"No, mate, I'm starved," he said with a smile. Scott was growing fond of that smile; it was so rarely seen, and it seemed to be his own special magic that gave it life, nothing like having a smile that was yours alone. Ok, Scott thought, that made no sense...
"I could cook," Scott said leading the way through to the kitchen, as Luke sat down at the breakfast bar, putting his peaked cap down on the edge of the counter. Scott grinned again, suddenly feeling very domestic as he bent to root through the fridge for something edible. The mac and cheese his gran had recommended was woefully small for the two of them so he fished out some french-fries and began to spread them out on a tray.
"So I heard you were out this afternoon," Luke said, trying to hide his grin, "and abandoned my brother in Eastbourne..."
Scott snorted as he popped the fries in the oven and turned, "Me abandon him? He wasn't the one left in the café for three hours while he got drunk with his friends."
Luke was doing a poor job of trying to hide his delight, "Yeah, he had to bus back, and boy was he upset... Prince Charming had to ride public transport..." Luke was laughing now, taking delight in that imagery.
Scott turned the kettle on to prepare a pot of tea, "I didn't exactly do it on purpose..." He glanced at Luke, "Well, maybe a little... but I swear he ditched me."
"He's too used to having other people chauffer him around," Luke replied as he shrugged off the uniform jacket and put it on the back of his stool. "But hey, I doubt he'll bother asking you again after today."
"I should think not!" Scott said, firmly resting on the counter and looking into Luke's eyes. "It's good to see you..."
"You, too," Luke replied with a contented sigh. "I was coming up with an idea to arrest you, just to spend some time with you. You know, harassing a police officer is an offence."
"Arrest me, huh?" Scott replied with a grin, turning to fetch two cups from the cupboard. "But I haven't begun to harass you yet."
"Oh, it's a trumped up charge..." Luke admitted. "I'd probably have to let you go with a warning and a slap on the wrist..."
"Hmmm, never really been one for that sort of thing..." Scott replied, pouring the water, "Though I did date a psychotic pencil stabber once..."
Luke rolled his eyes, "You promised you'd drop that..."
"Meh," Scott shrugged. "Arrest me."
"After I get my chips," Luke replied, lazily sitting back and liberating one of the cups of tea from Scott. "Right now I'm trying to figure something out."
"What's that?" Scott asked, tasting his own tea and wincing at the bitter watery flavour; why was it he could never make a cup of tea like his gran could?
"What would possess an intelligent, handsome guy like you to get an earring..." Luke said, as he peered at it through his dark eyes.
Scott grinned. "That would be your fault actually," he replied adding sugar to hide the tea's awful taste. "Serena found out this afternoon and she said I owed her for not telling her sooner."
"How'd she take it?" Luke asked, concern clouding his eyes. He was still adjusting to the idea of people knowing about them, but he was resigned to the inevitable happening, and Scott realized at that moment the depth of the commitment Luke was offering him.
He couldn't help it; he crossed the kitchen and kissed Luke firmly. Surprised, Luke took a second before reciprocating the kiss. Pulling back, he gave Scott a puzzled look, "What was that for?"
"My way of saying thanks..." Scott said, still holding onto Luke. "One of these days you're going to have to tell me what you see in me worth changing your entire life for..."
Luke's face slipped a little into sadness as he looked up at the window, "I don't know," he admitted, "because you're such a prat?" He added with a smile, "It's really quite endearing."
"Well, I think that's a compliment," Scott responded with an odd smile, "though I had hoped there was some kind of..."
"Burning..." Luke said.
"Burning's a bit strong..." Scott responded. "I was hoping for something a little..."
"No," Luke said turning Scott slightly so that he could point to the black smoke coming from the oven. "Burning."
"Damn!" Scott said, hurrying over to salvage the french-fries that resembled charcoal. He looked up at Luke apologetically, "I don't think ketchup is going to save this lot..."
"Probably not," Luke agreed, looking at the unappetizing mess on the tray. "I take it you don't know how to cook..."
Scott bit his bottom lip, "I know how...I just can't do it very well..."
Luke shook his head, "Take-out it is then; I'll order a pizza..."
Scott stared at Luke dumbfounded, "They have pizza here?"
Luke turned to him a mixture of disbelief and surprise on his face, "You're kidding, right?"
Scott shrugged, "I didn't know you could order pizza over here..." he admitted truthfully.
"We are living in the twenty-first century, Scott; we do have Dominos..." he shook his head and picked up the phone to place an order.
Scott was dozing peacefully, dreaming a warm dream in which he and Luke had enjoyed a wonderful evening together, sitting around, enjoying pizza and talking. The talking had led to kissing that had naturally progressed on. As consciousness slowly returned to him, and he snuggled deeper into Luke's arms, he realized he hadn't been dreaming. And he opened an eye as he felt Luke's hand brush the hairs away from his eyes.
"Hi," Scott croaked dryly with a smile.
"Hi," Luke replied, giving him a contented look in return. "You were out like a light."
"It's been a long day..." Scott suddenly sat bolt upright as he heard the latch on the door downstairs go; Gran was home.
"Shit!" he said leaping out of bed, trying to reach for his clothes; but his feet were tangled in the duvet and he fell backwards, Luke catching him before he did himself an injury.
The front door opened and there was the sound of voices in the hall. Scott pulled on his jeans as fast as he could, shrugging on his jersey as Luke tried desperately to put his uniform back on, fumbling with the buttons as he did so. It was a mad rush against time they were both going to lose, and Scott hurried to think.
"Stay put!" he said firmly in a fierce whisper.
Luke wasn't about to argue, simply nodded with terror in his eyes as Scott slipped out of the bedroom closing the door behind him and trying to smooth down his ruffled hair. Stubbornly it refused and he slipped downstairs.
Gran looked up at him coming down and she gave him a rueful grin, "Sleeping again, sunshine?" she asked brightly.
"Yeah," Scott said trying to calm himself down; there was only one way down from upstairs and somehow he had to sneak Luke out past not just his gran but his aunt and uncle as well. This was going to take some doing; if he was lucky they would go to bed and he would be able to pull it off.
Uncle Nigel yawned, "I'm going to make a cup of coffee, if anyone's interested."
"This late at night, Nigel?" Gran admonished. "You'll never sleep like that."
Nigel waved her off as he went out to the kitchen, Gran giving Scott another look, "Are you all right dear? You look a little flushed."
"Fine," Scott said, feeling his heart pounding in his chest and a tight knot in his stomach; how could they not know? He was doomed, Luke was going down with him, and there was nothing left to do but bail out and pray... "I just woke up, that's all."
"Poor thing," Gran explained to Debbie, "he always wakes up with such a start. You should have seen him that first night; you'd think the devil himself had touched him the way he jumped."
Scott's heart returned to a normal level, and he swallowed, "I should go give Uncle Nigel a hand," he said, trying to escape the two women who would surely see through his tissue of lies at any moment.
He walked out into the kitchen, and his heart sank as Uncle Nigel stood examining Luke's peaked cap in puzzlement. Nigel turned and saw the strangled look on Scott's face and he looked down at the cap again...
"Did you find everything?" Gran asked, walking up behind Scott, and Nigel stuffed the cap behind his back and painted an innocent look on his face.
"Oh, Scott just offered to make it," he said, throwing a look at Scott to play along.
Scott nodded, though the mortified look on his face must have been priceless. Woodenly he walked to the cupboard and with shaking hands began to prepare the coffee. Gran watched him spill the coffee on the counter, and she `tsked' at him as she took over.
"If you're that tired you should really go back to bed," she said as she poured the water in.
Nigel hadn't moved, and Scott was still looking at him with fear in his eyes. As Gran turned her back, Nigel hurriedly stuffed the cap into a cupboard and rested on the counter over it. "Well, I think Scott should stay up a little longer. I think he and I have a lot to catch up on, don't we Scott?" he asked, giving Scott a look that said he was going to explain everything.
Scott wanted nothing better than to curl up and die at that precise moment, "Y-yes we do," he stammered.
Debbie returned to the kitchen yawning herself, "Well, I'm going to go to bed," she stated, giving her husband a kiss and wandering back towards the stairs.
Gran nodded in satisfaction as the coffee began to percolate. "I think I should be going as well; I have to be up for church tomorrow. You two boys don't be up to much longer, either," she warned as she followed Debbie up the stairs.
Nigel waited until they were out of earshot before he bent down to pull the cap out of the cupboard he had stuffed it in. "Something you need to get off your chest?" he asked lightly as he handed Scott the cap.
"No," Scott lied, knowing full well Nigel wouldn't buy it for a second.
"That wouldn't belong to that," he snapped his fingers trying to remember the name, "Jan's boy, Luke; he's a policeman, isn't he? Mum was saying you two were friends."
"You know," Scott said turning the hat in his hands, "he might have left it here earlier in the week..."
"Oh, I see," Nigel said, walking over to the sink and picking up the two plates that were there. A few seconds later he lifted out the two cups, "You sure there's nothing you want to tell me? Or should I go upstairs and ask him?"
Scott knew full well he was caught; there were only so many lies he could tell before he could admit he was caught fair and square. "I don't think he'd react well to that," Scott admitted.
Nigel nodded. "Bit careless tonight, weren't we?" he stated, a grin spreading across his face. "You're lucky, Mum used to be a lot sharper than that. I remember getting caught sneaking a girl out when I was your age." He stopped and looked down at the hat and back up at Scott, "Though I can see how this might be a bit more..." he searched for the word, "difficult."
"Right," Scott replied in open embarrassment. "I should go get him..."
"Give them a few minutes to settle in, then go," Nigel said knowingly. "I don't think your gran needs a heart attack tonight."
"Yeah," Scott replied, swallowing and stumbling in shell shock to the coffee pot; he poured himself a cup, walked to the saltshaker and added a pinch. His father had always taken his coffee that way, said it was good for the nerves. He kept his back to his uncle as he collected his wits, and downed the mug.
Nigel chuckled, "Well it's about time, though my money was on your Cousin Darren."
"Huh?" Scott asked in surprise as he turned.
"Darren," Nigel said, fetching himself a mug of coffee and stirring in some sugar. "You have to understand I hadn't seen you in years so had no idea," he squeezed Scott's shoulder. "Anyone know?"
Scott shook his head, "A couple of friends, that's about it."
Nigel gave him a serious look, "Is this why you fell out with your dad?"
Scott set his mug down on the counter and swallowed, "No, I think he might have guessed but I wasn't even out to myself when I last saw him. No, he wasn't pleased that I dropped school."
"Well that's typical," Nigel said firmly. "Dads only see the boy, they never see the man that boy becomes. From what Gran says you're working hard and settling in alright, so to hell with your dad."
Scott threw his arms around his uncle and hugged him tightly, holding on for a while before letting go, "I should go get Luke..."
Nigel nodded, "Let him out the back door," he advised. "The front is always too loud."
Scott crept up the stairs and leaned around the door to his bedroom. Luke nervously pacing to and fro, turned to look at him fearfully. Scott smiled at him and held a finger up to his lips as he motioned for Luke to follow him. The pair of them moved quietly down the stairs and through to the kitchen.
Luke gave Nigel a startled look, but Scott shrugged and handed him his cap, "That's my Uncle Nigel," he introduced. "He's... he's okay."
Luke looked into Scott's reassuring eyes before accepting Nigel's pre-offered hand. "Nice to meet you," he stated, his voice trebling.
Nigel shrugged, "Just be thankful I'm not chasing you out of here with a broom," he said with a teasing grin. "It's good to finally meet you, as well. Now you two better kiss goodnight...outside if you don't mind; I'm liberal, but I don't think I'm that liberal yet; and I am going to bed." With that, he set off.
Luke watched him leave and felt Scott draw close to him; he turned, the look of shock still on his face. "I'm so sorry," he said, shaking his head in apology.
Scott shrugged, "I'll live, it's you I'm worried about..."
Luke blinked as if he hadn't considered that angle; he blinked again as he realized it hadn't entered his thoughts, he'd been too concerned about Scott to worry about himself. He swallowed and shrugged, "I'm...I'm fine," he took Scott into his arms, "really, I love you..."
"Oh," Scott said, as that bombshell fell on one unsuspecting American-English immigrant, "I do too... love you, that is... I mean..." He'd never used those words before.
Luke sighed and relaxed, "Well, I should say good night, then; I'd rather not meet the rest of your family like this..."
Scott set Luke's cap on his head and turned it on an angle the way Luke had done with his visor, and reached up to kiss him good night.