With thanks to my beta reader Roa1

Although this is a 'stand alone' story it does follow on directly from 'Realisation' (also on this site). If you haven't read that already it might be better to read that first.

Realisation Revisited

Craig's story

"Come in, Richard," said Craig.

For a brief moment he thought that his friend was going to leave, his expression seemed very odd. Then Richard's face relaxed into a smile and he followed Craig into the room.

"Whisky?" offered Craig, a little too heartily because he was trying to compensate for the nervousness he was feeling.

"Thanks, er make it a large one," Richard replied.

Craig's mind was full of questions. Why had his friend called to see him now, just after he'd realised that he was in love with him? Had Richard picked up on those thoughts and, if so, how did he feel about the whole thing? The main question in his mind though was what the hell he should do now. Richard seemed very uncomfortable. The atmosphere between them was almost as bad as during the showdown after Craig's interrogation. He poured a large whisky for Richard and a larger one for himself and handed his friend the drink.

"Cheers," he said.

"Thanks, er cheers," Richard said, as he took a large gulp of his drink and then lapsed into silence.

The two men stood side by side, avoiding looking at each other for a couple of minutes, then Richard seemed to pull himself together.

"I want to talk to you about the hotel," he said.

"The hotel?"

This wasn't the conversation Craig had expected to have when he'd first opened the door to Richard.

"Er yes, the hotel, you know, the one Tremayne's booked us into."

Craig still looked blank.

"Oh, come on Craig, pull yourself together. I'm talking about the mission we're on now, the one we've been working on for the last 3 weeks. We finally got a break - remember?" he added a little sarcastically.

"Yes, yes, but what about the hotel?" responded Craig.

"Er well, it's just that, um there's a problem, with the hotel, well not really a problem as such," Richard seemed singularly reluctant to get to the point.

Craig waited for his friend to go on.

There was another longish pause, then Richard took a deep breath, and started to speak so quickly his words ran together.

"I called in to see Tremayne this morning just to finalise a few details for the trip and he told me that there is a big convention on over there at the moment and hotel space is at a premium so it was difficult to get rooms and there weren't any single rooms left so he's had to book us a double …."

Craig's mind went into overdrive as he thought of the implications of this; he was hardly listening to the rest of Richard's speech. He only caught fragments here and there,

"…small place…guest house…..share a double bed…..three quarter bed…."

With a huge effort of will Craig pulled himself out of his reverie, luckily his friend was still talking.

"…..it's possible that..." at this point Richard came to an abrupt halt as his breath gave out.

When he first heard the words 'share a double bed' Craig's heart soared. He thought about how wonderful it would be to be able to lie next to Richard all night, watch him sleep, wake up with him. But then reality kicked in, would he really be able to lie so close to Richard and have to stop himself reaching out to him? To be right next to him without being allowed to touch? Could he do it? He supposed he'd have to; he could hardly go to Tremayne and say that he was sorry he couldn't complete the mission because he'd fallen in love with Richard. Then again maybe Richard had realised how he felt about him and, as a result, didn't want to share a bed. If that was the case it was only fair that he, Craig, offered his friend a get out.

There was a long silence while Craig thought over the implications.

"It's OK, I'll think of a way out of this. I'll phone in sick or something," he finally said.

"Don't be ridiculous, you're over-reacting. I'll sleep on the floor if it bothers you that much," said Richard.

'Bothers me?' thought Craig, 'bothers me, you don't know the half.'

Aloud he said, "Of course it doesn't bother me, but it does seem to be bothering you rather a lot."

"No, not at all, it's fine."

"So that's settled then," Craig said.

"Yes," Richard replied.

"And we're both happy with it?"

"Of course."

Except one of us isn't, thought Craig.

Richard's Story

"Come in, Richard," said Craig.

The momentum that had propelled Richard to Craig's door when he'd first picked up his friend's thoughts suddenly dissipated. He'd wanted to clear the air between them and let him know that their working relationship needn't be affected by the way Craig felt but now he started to wonder if he'd been mistaken. Craig seemed exactly as he always was and looked the epitome of a heterosexual man. He forced himself to smile and followed Craig into the room.

"Whisky?" offered Craig.

"Thanks, er make it a large one," Richard replied.

"Cheers," said Craig, as he handed over the drink.

"Thanks, er cheers." Richard took a large gulp of the drink and then lapsed into silence.

He felt very uncomfortable, should he say anything to Craig about the real reason for his visit or should he talk about something else? Craig seemed very nervous. Richard noticed that he'd poured himself a larger drink than usual and wondered why. He supposed he shouldn't read too much into it, maybe his friend had sensed his discomfort and felt he needed a drink in order to handle the situation better. It was all so much more difficult than he'd anticipated. How could he broach the subject? 'So you've fallen in love with me' seemed a bit blunt, to say the least, but he couldn't think of another way to introduce the topic.

The two men stood side by side, avoiding looking at each other for a couple of minutes, then Richard pulled himself together and said the first thing that came into his head.

"I want to talk to you about the hotel," he said.

"The hotel?"

This wasn't the conversation Richard had planned to have when Craig had first opened the door to him but he was too afraid he'd made a mistake to stick with his original plan.

"Er yes, the hotel, you know, the one Tremayne's booked us into."

Richard tried desperately to think of something to say about the hotel.

Craig still looked blank. Thankfully Richard remembered something Tremayne had told him that very morning. It hadn't mattered that much at the time but now it seemed a Godsend.

"Oh, come on Craig, pull yourself together. I'm talking about the mission we're on now, the one we've been working on for the last 3 weeks. We finally got a break - remember?" he added a little sarcastically.

"Yes, yes, but what about the hotel?" responded Craig.

"Er well, it's just that, um there's a problem, with the hotel, well not really a problem as such."

Now he'd started Richard began to doubt the wisdom of continuing with the topic he'd decided to go with. He desperately tried to think of something more neutral but could think of nothing.

Craig waited for his friend to go on.

There was another longish pause, then Richard took a deep breath, and started to speak so quickly the words ran together.

"I called in to see Tremayne this morning just to finalise a few details for the trip and he told me that there is a big convention on over there at the moment and hotel space is at a premium so it was difficult to get rooms and there weren't any single rooms left so he's had to book us a double and I know we've shared before dozens of times so of course it's not a problem but in the past they've always been able to give us twin beds and this time they can't make any guarantees it's only a small place not a hotel at all to tell the truth more of a guest house really so we er well we er we might have to share a double bed and like I said it's a very small place so it might not even be a full size double it might be one of those three quarter bed things of course we might not they might be able to give us a twin room but well it's possible that..." at this point Richard came to an abrupt halt as his breath gave out.

There was a long silence.

Oh God, thought Richard, what is he thinking? I'm sure I caught a flicker of a smile but now he just looks sad and maybe even a little scared. What the hell does he think is going to happen? I must have got it all wrong.

Finally Craig said,

"It's OK, I'll think of a way out of this. I'll phone in sick or something."

"Don't be ridiculous, you're over-reacting. I'll sleep on the floor if it bothers you that much," said Richard.

I did get it wrong, he thought, clearly the idea of us sharing a bed isn't one that appeals to him at all – good thing I didn't say anything about what I thought I'd picked up from him. That's the trouble with telepathy, it's too damned easy to misinterpret.

"Of course it doesn't bother me, but it does seem to be bothering you rather a lot," Craig said.

'Bothers me?' thought Richard, 'bothers me, you don't know the half. Maybe one day I'll tell you all about it and we'll laugh together about how absurd I was to think such an unlikely thing was true.'

Aloud he said, "No, not at all, it's fine."

"So that's settled then," Craig said.

"Yes," Richard replied.

"And we're both happy with it?"

"Of course."

Except one of isn't, he thought, as he picked up signs of distress from Craig.

Richard headed for the door and as he reached it he turned, looked directly into Craig's eyes and said,

"If it bothers you that much I'll tell Tremayne he has tochange the arrangements. I'm seeing him later to finalise the transport arrangements."

He walked out of the door and closed it behind him.

Craig stood in the centre of the room thinking over Richard's parting words and wondering if he'd imagined a slight emphasis on the word 'If' and a question in Richard's eyes. Maybe he had grounds for hope after all.


The follow up to this story, entitled 'Realisation lll – At the Guest House', is also on this site.