Bernard Black sat at his desk, glass of wine in one hand, book in the other and a cigarette perched between his lips. He felt content. Happy probably wouldn't be the correct word, Bernard didn't do happy. But things were as they should be. He was sat in his bookshop, his own little kingdom, with nobody around trying to interrupt him. He had put up with Manny and Fran a few hours earlier trying, all be it not too convincingly, to get him to join them at a New Years Eve party. Bernard has declined the invitation, explaining in great detail why he did not wish to stand around in somebody else's home, drinking somebody else's wine until it ran out, as it always did when Bernard was about, talking to people he had no interest in and listening to that awful drunken singing as midnight came around. Eventually Fran and Manny had conceded that Bernard probably wouldn't enjoy the party and with a final farewell had gone, leaving Bernard alone in his shop.

Bernard extinguished his cigarette and topped up his wine glass before surveying his territory. This was the one place in the world he felt truly comfortable. Even at the pub he could feel out of place, especially at this time of the year when it was full of drunken party goers all insisting that he should "Have a happy Christmas," or a "Great New Year." Who needed it? At least here he could enjoy his wine with a good book and a bit of peace and quiet, this was the kind of New Year Bernard wanted.

Of course the peace couldn't last, and an hour or so after midnight Bernard heard the jangle of keys as Manny let himself in, staggering slightly as the door swung open.

"Happy New Year," Manny's voice was slightly slurred, he had obviously consumed his fair share of alcohol at the party.

Bernard looked up and noticed that Manny was alone,

"Fran?" He enquired.

"Met some bloke." It was enough of an explanation for Fran's absence, Bernard knew that he would hear all the details soon enough, whether he wanted to or not.

Manny slumped into the empty chair by Bernard's side, taking an empty glass from the table and filling it from the already half empty bottle.

"It was a great party Bernard, you should have come, you would have enjoyed it."

Bernard shook his head, "No I wouldn't, I was fine here."

Drinking his wine Manny nodded, Bernard really wouldn't have enjoyed it; there were far too many people there.

Bernard turned his eyes back to the pages of his book casually running his fingers through his hair as he read. It was an unconscious action that Manny had witness many times over the years he had lived with Bernard, and as always the motion enthralled him. Bernard's hair was always an untidy mess, no matter what time of day it always looked as if he had just got out of bed, but for some reason it was a look that worked for Bernard. As Bernard's hand left his hair to turn the page of his book he left behind a few unruly strands, Manny's hand itched, as it often did, with the urge to smooth down those stands, to stroke them back into place. He turned his attention back to his drink quickly; Bernard would not be pleased to know what he had been thinking. The same things that Manny had been thinking for some time now. He squirmed uncomfortably in his chair; the calming effect of the alcohol he had drunk earlier in the night seemed to be deserting him.

Bernard took a long drink of wine and, after lowering his glass; he slowly licked the drops from his lips. Manny was mesmerised by the action, the sight of Bernard's tongue running lightly over his lips. He had an almost uncontrollable urge to lean forward and join his own tongue to that of Bernard's, to taste the sweetness of the wine from his friend's mouth.

"What are you staring at?" Bernard's voice made Manny visibly jump and he looked away guiltily.

"I should really go to bed I suppose," Manny mumbled slowly lifting himself from his seat.

"Hmmm," Bernard barely acknowledged the statement.

Manny moved carefully around the desk, but not carefully enough, as he got closer to Bernard he managed to tangle himself in his own feet and felt himself begin to fall. Bernard pushed back his chair reaching out to help. An instinctive reaction Bernard would insist later. Somehow between Manny's clumsiness and Bernard's "help" Manny was saved from falling to the floor, instead he ended up landing heavily in Bernard's lap. For a moment both men could do nothing but look at each other. Manny had never been this close to Bernard before and he was caught up in the deepness of Bernard's eyes. Looking into those dark mysterious pools Manny had the impression that they could easily have contained the entire universe, and understood it all. Manny had never seen anything so beautiful before and had to force himself to look away. He was unsure what to do, feeling that he should jump up, make some lame joke; surprised that Bernard had not already tipped him to the floor. Bernard had made no such attempt, and it was Bernard that broke the silence a few seconds later.

"So, are you going to sit there all night?" He enquired, a tone of amusement in his voice, "Or were you planning to kiss me?"

Manny's breath caught in his throat, his mouth moved but no sound came out. He knew that sometime not very long ago he had been capable of coherent speech, but that ability seemed to have suddenly deserted him. Manny was unsure how to react, not certain if Bernard's words had been a request or an accusation. Then he felt Bernard's hand slide around the back of his neck, cradling it gently as he pulled the other man towards him, their lips meeting for a moment before Bernard pulled back smiling.

Manny was stunned, but from his position sat in Bernard's lap he became suddenly aware of the other man's growing interest. Manny leant forward coming into contact again with that beautiful mouth. His kiss was gentle at first, becoming more passionate as he felt Bernard responding to each movement. Manny sank his fingers into the forest of Bernard's hair, thrilling at the thickness of it, the softness.

Bernard ran his hand up Manny's thigh, his other hand still cradling the man's neck. Bernard had been imagining this moment for months now, never able to broach the subject, afraid of what Manny's reaction might be, afraid of another rejection. But when Bernard had, quite deliberately, licked the wine from his lips earlier he had seen Manny's reaction and had known at that moment the other man's desires were equal to his own.

Bernard gently pushed Manny from his lap, taking Manny's hands in his own and rising to stand with him, both men observing each other for a moment until they moved together into a firm embrace. Their bodies were pressed tightly together, mouths hungry for each other.

"Didn't you mention something about going to bed?" Bernard asked, his voice heavy and breathless.

Manny had no doubt about Bernard's meaning taking the man's hand and leading him up the stairs.

Once upstairs the men wasted no more time, buttons and zips giving way under urgent fingers until their clothes lay in heaps on the floor, naked bodies lying on the bed wrapped around each other.

Bernard explored Manny's mouth with his tongue, running it across his lips, journeying down the mans face, grazing gently on his beard, biting his neck, before retracing his journey back to that inviting mouth again.

Manny sank his hands deeply into Bernard's hair, holding the man close to him, his heart beating quickly at the feel of the hot flesh against his own, moaning into Bernard's mouth as the evidence of their mutual arousals brushed together.

Bernard wrapped his fingers slowly around Manny, enjoying the gasps from the other man as his hand began to move. He continued in a steady rhythm, his hand moving up and down the full length of Manny's erection, pausing occasionally to run his finger over its head, each new movement extracting moans of pleasure.

Bernard's hand began to move quicker as Manny's moans became louder, his breathing heavier. Manny's fingers gripped Bernard's hair tightly, his body tensing before his orgasm tore through him, crying out loudly, his hot passion covering Bernard's hand. After a moment Manny released his grip on Bernard's hair, falling back into the pillows panting.

"God Bernard, that was…" Manny had no words to describe what he felt, but then he didn't really need any, Bernard knew what he was trying to say, leaning forward Bernard kissed Manny firmly, his own erection pushing into Manny's hip, demanding attention. It was an attention that Manny was happy to give himself to, completely.

"I want you Bernard," Manny breathed into the other man's ear, "Make love to me."

Bernard paused for a moment looking deeply into Manny's eyes, wanting to be sure he hadn't misunderstood. Manny nodded slightly, "I really want you Bernard."

Bernard moved slowly to his knees, trembling slightly from a mixture excitement and nerves. This was new territory for him and he realised that he didn't want to let Manny down. Before long they were both in position when it crossed Bernard's mind that some kind of lubrication was usually needed here. His eyes quickly scoured Manny's bedside table for anything that would prove suitable. They came to rest on a bottle of hand cream; Manny could be such a girl sometimes.

Bernard applied the hand cream liberally over himself, and then turned to Manny, listening to the man's sighs as he gently rubbed the cream in place.

Bernard was finally ready, he rested one shaky hand on Manny's hips, using the other to guide himself,

"Just let me know if you want me to stop."

Manny replied with a slight nod.

Bernard began to push slowly, gasping as Manny's body began to yield to him. He moved with a gentle rhythm, pushing in a little further with each stroke.

Manny moaned softly as he felt Bernard entering him, a blend of pleasure and pain thrilling through his body. It wasn't the first time Manny had been in this position, although he had tried to forget about the Japanese businessman, but this was different, this was Bernard. Manny moved himself against Bernard, meeting each thrust, encouraging Bernard to go deeper.

Bernard began to move faster, both hands now gripping Manny's hips; he looked down, watching himself with amazement as he became buried deep in the other man's body.

Bernard moved faster still, his moans mixing with those from Manny, thrusting deeply until he could contain himself no longer.

Bernard cried out sharply, his fingers sinking deeply into Manny's flesh, his body shook as he filled the other man with his long contained desire.

Bernard's strokes slowed, until he came to a rest, panting and flushed, he relaxed his grip on Manny and gently left Manny's body, almost sorry to be relinquishing his possession of the man.

Bernard fell back on the pillows, his breath coming in short gasps, his heart pounding.

Manny collapsed next to him, unsure of how to proceed. He wanted more than anything to take Bernard into his arms, but despite what they had just experienced he knew that Bernard could react badly to any uninvited physical contact. So he lay quietly listening as Bernard's breathing returned to a normal rhythm.

Bernard turned his head and smiled a Manny. For a moment Manny could see the true beauty in Bernard. His dark eyes were lit with a spark from inside; his smile illuminated his entire face and his usual scowl was gone.

Bernard then reached down, retrieving the blankets that had been pushed to the bottom of the bed, before pulling them up, covering both men as he snuggled up close to Manny. Accepting the man's arms around him with another satisfied sigh.

Bernard nestled his head under Manny's chin and Manny stroked his hair, listening, as Bernard's breathing became slow and regular, sleep taking him gently.

Manny fought the urge to let the same desire for sleep take him, enjoying for a moment the feel of Bernard lying comfortably in his arms. Finally Manny's eyelids became too heavy and he joined Bernard in a deep peaceful sleep.

Manny awoke slowly, his consciousness creeping back into his mind. The evening began to reform in his brain and he smiled at the memory of Bernard. Bernard's touch, Bernard's kiss…. He was unsure what today was going to bring. He had no idea how Bernard would react to the previous nights events. It was true that they were both drunk, but then Bernard was always drunk, it was never easy to tell just how drunk the Irishman was, not until the moment when he passed out on the floor. Manny stretched, his arm coming into contact with the warm skin of Bernard.

Manny carefully turned to find Bernard looking back at him, smiling.

"I thought you were never going to wake up," Bernard whispered in a sleepy voice before moving forward brushing a kiss across Manny's mouth.

Manny reached out his hand to brush loose strands of hair from Bernard's face, his finger tips caressing the man's face,

"I'm surprised you're awake so early."

"So am I, it must be having somebody else in the bed, it's been a long time."

"I suppose we should be getting up, Fran will be here soon."

"We could get up," Bernard moved closer running his hand down Manny's back, pulling the man towards him, "Or we could just stay here a little longer."

Manny sighed happily at Bernard's touch. Then a small frown crossed his face,

"Bernard, does this mean that we… are we….?" He wasn't sure how to finish his question.

Bernard grinned, propping himself up on one arm,

"Manny Bianco!" He exclaimed in a teasing voice, "Are you asking me if we're a couple now?"

"Bernard Black," Manny replied in mock anger, "You are an evil man!"

"I know, that's why you love me."

Manny smiled as he reached up to pull Bernard towards him. This really was going to be an interesting year.