All I Really Need Is You

Gary D.

This is set a short while after the end of the film

It was getting late, and Sandra was rushing about her flat in Thamesmead, making sure everything was ready. She had packed most of the stuff, and was just filling a holdall with some essentials for the journey. Tomorrow she was leaving with Tony, Jamie and Ste for a weeks holiday in Corfu, and she was really quite excited about it.

She'd only been abroad once before; that fateful weekend in Paris that Jamie's dad had taken her on had been wonderful. When she closed her eyes she could still picture the vista from the top of the Eiffel tower, or that delightful little café just off the Place de la Concorde where they'd shared their first baguette. And it was that weekend, if she'd done the maths correctly, that Jamie was conceived. Yes that had truly been a magical trip. Little did she know then that it would prove to be the zenith point of her relationship with Jamie's dad, and that soon after… Well, it was all in the past now, so why dwell on it.

Apart from that one foray across the channel, she had hardly even been on holiday in Britain, living in London all her life. Certainly, as a child holidays were an extreme rarity, what with the upbring… She was startled out of her reverie by Jamie entering the room.

Sandra: Got everythin set for tomorrow then luv?

Jamie grinned at her. She'd noticed that he had been smiling a lot more lately. No prizes for guessing the reason, she thought.

Jamie: Pretty much.

Sandra: How bout Ste, he ready?

Jamie: Yeh, he brought his case round earlier, just in case Ronnie or Trevor, you know…

The smile had gone from her son's face.

Sandra: I know you feel bad about him stayin with them, but until we can get out of here, there is nothing we can do that won't make things worse.

She went over to Jamie and hugged him.

Jamie: I know, I know. I just hate the thought of him in there alone with them. Yeah Ronnie agreed to lettin Ste come with us, but who's to say he doesn't change his mind at the last minute?

Sandra: He won't, it'll be fine. Tomorrow mornin we'll be in the air, leavin Ronnie miles behind. The four of us will have a smashin time, you'll see.

Jamie: Thanks mum.

He hugged her tightly to him, then smiled at her and headed up to his room. He was looking forward to the coming week more than anything in his life. A whole week in the sun, just him and Ste. Well, and mum and Tony. But it was Ste who he thought about, the boy who meant more to him than anyone or anything else in his life. Ste. Ste…Ste… what a beautiful sound. He gave Jamie everything he needed and wanted; love, friendship, understanding. Now that they had 'discovered' each other, Jamie's mind was scarcely on anything else. For both of them it was growing increasingly difficult to be discreet, and hide the true extent of their feelings for one another from the world. The mocking remarks of Ryan and his friends had become increasingly painful to bear. It was as if they knew. What did they know? That he and Ste were friends? Or did they know more? Impossible. At least, he hoped it was. God help them if the truth were to get out. For Ste especially; Ronnie and Trevor would kill him if they found out he was gay.

Jamie was just thankful that at home, at least, they were able to be open. After the initial shock had worn off, and some pretty intense discussions, Sandra had come around to the idea of her son being with the boy next door. Jamie still couldn't believe that evening a few weeks ago, when she had asked him and Ste to come into the living room for a talk with her and Tony. He smiled as he remembered Ste whispering to him as they made their way down the stairs:

Ste: I knew it, didn't I say, I just knew it. She heard the bed creaking Jay. Bloody hell, I knew it.

Jamie: If you tell me you 'knew it' once more, I may not be responsible for the consequences. Look, don't worry, she doesn't know a thing. This'll just be somethin silly, like who left the freezer door open or didn't replace the toilet roll.

Ste: Well I hope you're right.

In truth Jamie's confidence was feigned, and he was more than a bit nervous of the impending meeting with his mum. However, had Sandra indeed heard the springs on her son's bed being put through their paces, this wasn't about that. Instead, she informed the lads that she had good and bad news to impart.

Sandra: Look lads, me and Tony had a bit of a chat last night. About various things. And we've come to a few decisions. Ste, it's been great seein you happy this last while, it's not something we saw too often before. Now, as you know, we'll be movin to the Anchor soon enough.

Tony: A matter of weeks

Sandra: And, well, we don't see how we can leave you on your own with those bastards in your flat.

Tony: Ronnie and Trevor

Sandra: It's been pretty clear to the both of us that you two really do care for each other. You've got somethin special goin.

Tony: You and Jamie

Sandra: Oright Tony, if I need any more press releases from the department of the bleedin obvious I'll ask, ok. Anyway, to cut to the chase, we both think it'd be good for you if you come with us Ste. We'd like you to come live with us at the Anchor. You're old enough now, to leave home whenever you want.

While Sandra had been speaking, Jamie and Ste had guessed where the thread of the conversation was heading, but neither could dare to believe it. Now she'd actually said it, they were in shock. Jamie's move to the Anchor hadn't been brought up of late, and the lads had been too busy to really dwell on it. But it would be fair to say it had not been totally out of their minds.

Jamie: Oh mum, I can't believe…

Ste: Sandra, I don't know what…

Sandra: Say yes Ste. Or no, if you want.

She smiled gently at Ste.

Sandra: Wouldn't like to think I was pressurisin you into doin somethin you don't want to do…

Ste: Yes! Yes yes yes!! Oh thanks Sandra, thanks so much. This is more than I…than we could have dreamed.

In his excitement, he grabbed Jamie into a bear hug and kissed him smack on the lips. When he realised where he was, he stopped, and looked at Sandra and Tony, embarrassed. Jamie, feeling brave, took hold of his chin and brought his face around. He stared into Ste's eyes, letting himself get lost in the beautiful brown orbs.

Jamie: Ste. I love you.

He moved in, and they kissed. Not a full blown snog - after all his mum was watching - but a big step for the boys. They broke off the kiss, and looked at Sandra, who had a mix of surprise and pride on her face. She composed herself, and informed the boys of the bad news. The move to the Anchor had been delayed by at least a month. Until then, they were staying here.

That had been two months ago, and last week Sandra had finally been given the word that they were to move in in a fortnight. There would of course be four of them moving to the new pub. Sandra and Tony had got back together not long after their break-up, and things were going well. Jamie had to admit that the guy had grown on him. He hadn't been sure if it was the right thing for his mum at first, but now he was beginning to think the pair had made a good move. And when Tony came home with the chance of a dirt cheap holiday on a Greek Island, courtesy of a mate who worked at Thomson's, well, that was just icing on the cake.

Night time arrived, and Jamie was in bed. His alarm was set at some ridiculously early hour in the morning; they planned to leave at dawn. Just as Jamie began to drift off, with the image of Ste in his head, a cry resounded in the flat next door.

Jamie: Ste!!

He put his ear to the wall separating his bedroom from that of his best friend. For a moment nothing, then he heard a blow, and a thud. Someone had fallen to the floor. I wonder who that could be, Jamie thought bitterly. Silence. Sounds of a door opening. Ronnie shouting; the words incomprehensible, but the tone of voice saying it all. Another thud, the door closing. Then, after about a minute, he heard a very soft noise. He struggled for a moment to work out what it was, before realising. Crying. His beloved Ste was in his room, frightened and alone, crying. Jamie was in anguish. How he desperately wanted to go round there, beat Ronnie and Trevor to within an inch of their worthless lives, then go to Ste and just hold him. Tell him everything was alright, that he was there now, and he would always protect him. But he knew that was impossible. His only choice was to sit there while the crying and moaning continued.

Just then, Sandra was walking past Jamie's door, on the way to her bed, and she saw the light was still on in Jamie's room. She knocked and went in.

Sandra: Hey, you not asleep yet?

Jamie: No… have you heard what's goin on in there? What those bastards are doin to him?

Sandra: I know luv. I know. I just don't know what there is we can do. Ste'll be oright, and tomorrow he'll be away from them. Try'n get some kip luv, early rise in the mornin.

Jamie: I suppose…

Jamie looked as if he was about to lie back down in bed, but at that moment the crying from next door got a bit louder. A determined expression appeared on his face, and he jumped off the bed and dashed out of the room.

Sandra: Jeez, where ya goin? Jamie!

But it was too late, the only answer she got was the slamming of the front door.

Gingerly, Jamie knocked on Ste's front door. He waited a moment but nothing happened, so he knocked again, a bit louder this time. After a few seconds he heard Ronnie's loud and angry voice from inside the flat.

Ronnie: Who the fuck is that at this time?? What the hell do they think this is, a fuckin brothel! Hey, Ste, get the bloody door, ya little shit.

Another couple of seconds went by, until slowly the front door was opened. Ste stood there, eyes red and puffy, clutching his stomach. On seeing Jamie, he gave him a questioning look, which soon became a smile.

Jamie: Hey, you ok?

Ste: Oh, I've been better Jamie. What ya doin here?

Jamie considered telling Ste what he had heard through the wall, but decided against it. He struggled to find an alternative reason for his appearance.

Jamie: Eh, well, I, just wanted to make sure you were still oright for tomorrow, you know, got everythin ready and such.

Ste looked at Jamie for a moment, smiling. Then he pulled out a crumpled bit of paper from his pocket.

Ste: Lemme see. Toothbrush, check. Toothpaste, check. Spare pair of boxers in bag in case luggage goes missing, check. Spare pair of boxers in pocket in case bag gets lost, check. Spare pair…

Jamie: Ok, ok. I get the picture, you're ready.

But Ste continued.

Ste: Swim shorts, check. Towel, check. What's next, oh yeah. Best friend a guy could ask for, eh, where has he gone?

He looked about him for a moment, peering down the landing and over the railings, before his grinning face settled on Jamie's.

Ste: Oh, there. Check.

Ste's face grew more serious.

Ste: Jay, I know you didn't just come round to make sure I'd not forgotten to pack the sun cream. And I hope you know how much it means to me. How much better I feel in there when I know that you're only a few feet away, lookin out for me. Thanks.

Ste glanced around him, then pulled Jamie in to a tender embrace. The stayed like that for as long as they dared, each lad revelling in the warmth and comfort of the other's body. Reluctantly, they pulled apart.

Ste: Suppose we'd better get in. It was six o'clock I've to come round tomorrow, wasn't it?

He looked at his watch.

Ste: Well, since it's now half-one, its really six o'clock today.

Jamie: Yeh, don't know how I'll manage it, getting up at a God-awful time like that!

Ste: You'll be fine. Well, we'd best get in, get as much sleep as we can. Don't want you to be too grumpy. Thanks again, Jay. I love you.

Jamie: Love you too.

With that, they moved in for a quick kiss, before heading inside their respective flats.

Ten minutes later Jamie was lying in his bed, finding it very difficult to get to sleep. He remembered what his mum told him, every time he was unable to sleep on Christmas Eve or before his birthday, about playing back a recent event in his head to send him off. He smiled, as he thought back to a week ago, when he'd asked Ste if he wanted to come on the trip to Corfu…

Ste: I don't think I can Jamie. I mean, I've already arranged with Ryan an all them that I'd play footie with them in the local league all next week. There's matches every day…

Jamie struggled to keep the disappointment he felt from showing on his face. He knew it was a bit short notice and everything, but he had really thought Ste would want to come with him. He could play football with Ryan anytime…

Ste: An then, in the evenings, I promised my dad I'd have a scrabble tournament with him and Trev…

On hearing this, Jamie looked into Ste's eyes, which were sparkling with mischief.

Realising he'd been well and truly had, he grinned a huge smile of relief.

Jamie: Bastard!

Ste (mimicking Sandra): Oi! Manners!

The pair stared at each other for a few seconds, before bursting into a fit of giggles.

Ste: You silly sod! How could you think for a moment that I'd rather stay here than go away with you. Just so I could play football with Ryan! To hell with the local league, I'd love to come!!!

And with that he practically jumped on Jamie, enveloping him in a crushing bear hug. Overcoming his initial surprise, Jamie hugged back, burying his head into Ste's shoulder. The pair remained like this for a few seconds, before realising where they were and, somewhat sheepishly, breaking apart. They glanced around; luckily the walkway I

was empty. Ste looked deeply into Jamie's eyes.

Ste: Seriously, Jay, you do know that there's nothing I'd rather do than be with you, don't you.

Jamie nodded. Ste slowly took his hand, and gave it a squeeze.

Ste: Ryan's my friend, Jamie, but he's not my boyfriend. I like Ryan… I love you…


By five o'clock the following morning, Jamie was already up. He finished packing his bags and left them sitting by the front door. As he sat on the couch waiting for Sandra and Tony to get up, there was a knock on the front door. It was Ste. He looked tired - not surprisingly - but his face lit up when he saw Jamie.

Ste: Hey Jamie.

Jamie: Hey, you don't look too perky.

Ste: No, didn't get a lot of sleep last night.

Jamie: Me neither. This'll be amazin Ste, I can hardly wait. Although that's really just cause you're goin. It would be crap without ya.

As he said this, Jamie's cheeks reddened almost imperceptively. Only Ste, who hadn't taken his eyes off Jamie since he arrived, could have noticed it. He smiled, before becoming serious.

Ste: You know, they never even acknowledged me this mornin, let alone said goodbye. They really just don't give a shit.

Jamie, hearing the sadness in Ste's voice, tried to cheer him up.

Jamie: Don't worry about them Ste. Just think, a whole week away from here. Only us. Well, and mum. And Tony.

As Ste looked at Jamie's face, he could tell that his friend was desperate for him to forget about Ronnie and Trevor and enjoy himself. Sod them, he thought, putting them out of his mind. He was heading off for the week with the boy he loved, and he'd be damned if he let those bastards spoil it. He leant over and kissed Jamie, letting him know everything was okay. Just as their tongues found each other, they heard the door opening. They hastily broke apart, just in time, as Sandra and Tony came in.

Sandra: Are you two ready then?

They all grabbed their cases and headed for Tony's van. Jamie and Ste hopped in the back, Sandra and Tony in front. As they left Thamesmead, they passed Ryan and Jayson, who spotted Jamie and Ste in the back of the van.

The drive to the airport was a short one, but after just ten minutes on the road Ste fell asleep, his head resting against the window pane. Jamie found it difficult to take his eyes off him. Ste looked so unbelievably beautiful when he was sleeping that he was mesmerised. Then, as Tony turned a corner a little too sharply, Ste's head lolled over and rested on Jamie's shoulder. Jamie shuddered, and the desire to put his arm round Ste and hold him close was overwhelming. So he did, enjoying the intense warmth radiating from Ste. Ste's hair brushed against his neck - he loved the sensation, both soft and spiky at the same time. With such thoughts, Jamie's eyes gradually closed, and he joined his friend in sleep.

Unfortunately, they were unable to sleep for long, and a few hours later were sitting in a secluded corner of the airport lounge. Due to increased security, they'd had to arrive pretty early, so had a while to wait before boarding their flight. Jamie and Ste had dozed off again, and when Sandra turned round to wake up her son, she smiled at the way Ste's head had fallen and now lay in Jamie's lap. She nudged Jamie awake.

Sandra: Hey, wake up sleepyhead. We're just headin over for a coffee. See if Ste wants anything, otherwise we'll be back in ten.

With that, she and Tony made their way across to the cafe. Jamie gently woke up the boy lying against him.

Ste: -YAWN- we boarding now?

Jamie: Not yet, mum and Tony are just getting something to eat. If you don't want anything, we can just wait here.

Ste: Let's stay here, I don't really want anything.

Ste looked around and, seeing that their corner of the lounge was quiet, turned back to Jamie with a smile.

Ste: Kiss me.

Jamie had a quick glance around to make sure no-one was looking, then moved his head towards Ste's. Soon, all thoughts of who may have been watching were miles from their minds, as they kissed, passionately, lovingly. Their tongues playfully wrestled for dominance, but in the end each one selflessly acquiescing to the other. Both boys wanting to give maximum pleasure to the person they loved more than anything in the world, and let the other know how important they were.

All too soon, Sandra and Tony could be seen emerging from the café, and the boys reluctantly pulled apart. However they were still holding hands an hour later when their flight was called.

It was around 5pm that evening when they arrived at the hotel, located in a quietish part of the island about half an hour from Corfu Town. Even at that late stage in the afternoon it was boiling hot, and the sun was beating down.

The flight had not been a pleasant one. They were unable to get even two seats together, so were totally split up. The girl next to Jamie kept being sick, and Tony was stuck right beside the toilets. Sandra and Ste hadn't had much fun either, interspersed as they were amongst a group of very loud and irritating children.

But they were here now, and as soon as they had stepped out of the plane into the sunshine, the journey was forgotten. Now at the hotel, Sandra went up to the girl at the desk. After five minutes she came back over to where Tony and the lads were waiting, holding two sets of keys.

Sandra: That's us checked in. We don't have two rooms together though, another consequence of gettin it cheap I suppose. Jamie, you 'n Ste are on the 2nd floor, and Tony 'n me are on the third.

Jamie: Oh, that's a shame.

As he said this, Sandra noticed that he shared a surreptitious glance with Ste.

A short while later, the four were in the dining room, tucking into some delicious Greek food. They had pretty much come straight to dinner after check-in, as they were starved. After getting the keys, Tony and Ste had followed the porters to their respective rooms, while Sandra and Jamie had wandered about outside. The hotel really was in a gorgeous location. Sitting at the edge of the sea, just at the corner of a little inlet, the view of the surrounding valley and hills was splendid. The sea was a pure and sparkling blue, and across it the shadowy form of Albania could just be seen .

They were talking about their plans for the rest of the day. It was decided that they would explore separately, and the couples would meet up again tomorrow. Jamie had really only been half listening, his attention on the various new sights and smells around him. He had finished his desert, and was gazing intently at a swan made entirely of melon when he realised the others were getting up. As they made their way into the lobby, Sandra spoke to the boys.

Sandra: Right, well breakfast starts at eight thirty, but I don't suppose you two lazy sods will be up at that hour, am I right?

Jamie: Well, you know I never have been a morning person.

Sandra: Too right! Well, it doesn't finish till half ten, so you've got until then. Whats say we meet at eleven then, see what we're gonna do.

Jamie: Oright mum, see you in the morning.

The boys headed to their room. Ste opened the door and went in, followed by Jamie. The room was large, with two single beds, wardrobe and telly. Jamie took a look in the bathroom and whistled - it was massive. When he came out, he saw that earlier Ste had dumped the cases on the floor and was now at the door, ready to go back out.

Jamie: So much for unpacking.

Ste: Yeah, so much for that.

Jamie shrugged, and they headed out for some exploring

The surrounding town, although described as quiet by the travel company, was quite a lively place. The boys spent an hour or so looking around, sitting on the beach for a while holding hands in the growing darkness, before returning to their room.

Out of necessity they were forced to do a little unpacking, and Jamie went into the bathroom to brush his teeth. When he came out, Ste was lying down on the bed. Jamie moved across and lay next to him, resting his head against Ste's.

Suddenly Ste bounded out of bed and across to the wall between the boys' room and next door. He put his ear against the wall.

Ste: Cool. Nothing

Jamie was perplexed.

Jamie: What are you doing?

Ste: I can't hear a thing through these walls. You know how at home we can hear every little thing that happens next door, coz the walls are like paper. Well I can't hear a thing through this one. Which means…

He let the sentence trail away. Jamie got Ste's drift, but decided to play dumb.

Jamie: Means what??

Ste: That we don't have to worry about being heard. We can, you know…

Jamie: What?

Ste: Oh you know fine well what. Come here you!

Jamie, giving up the pretence, slowly moved toward Ste, a grin on his face. As soon as he was within reach, Ste pulled him into a passionate embrace. They stood there, lost in their own world, hands and tongues roaming wild, before Jamie pulled enough of his senses together to edge them towards the bed. Collapsing onto it, they continued to explore each other's bodies.

A while later, they were lying next to each other on the bed, naked. Ste's head rested gently on Jamie's chest, and Jamie was stroking his hair. Ste turned to look at his boyfriend, and said sleepily:

Ste: I enjoyed that Jay.

Jamie: Yeah, me too. It seems to get better every time, you not think so?

Ste: Suppose you're just getting more experienced Jay. Well you're bound to, pickin up the tricks of the trade from an expert like me. Bit more time, and I'll have turned you into a pro.

Jamie: Mmm. Don't know what sort of upside down world you're livin in mate, but you got that the wrong way round. It's been a struggle, showin the ropes to someone so inexperienced, but I'm proud of what I've accomplished.

They stared into each others eyes and smiled. They both knew that before meeting each other, their experience in this area was pretty close to zero. They'd learned from each other, honing their abilities as they strove always to give the other the greatest pleasure possible.

For a while, neither spoke. They lay in comfortable silence, Ste's head rising and falling with the movement of Jamie's chest. Then Jamie had a thought.

Jamie: Ste, you know how you said those walls were sound proof?

Ste: Yep. Good thing too. Don't know what they'd have thought, some of the noises you were makin!

Jamie: Wasn't just me! Anyway, did you not think that maybe the reason you couldn't hear anything was that there was nothing to hear? That there was no-one in the room?

Ste didn't answer. Both boys minds began to dwell on the possibility that the room had indeed been vacant when Ste listened. That the occupants could perhaps have returned at any time during their lovemaking session. That they may possibly have been able to hear them.

Ste: Well, I don't think its likely tha…

Ste's attempt to allay their fears was interrupted by an audible cough. From the room next door. Silence ensued, followed a minute later by the unmistakable sound of a toilet flushing.

The boys lay frozen for a moment.

Jamie: Oh my God!! Why did we have to be so loud Ste?? How the hell can we face those people in there?

Ste: Shit, yeh, we did sorta let the whole 'no-one can hear us' thing go to our heads didn't we.

Jamie: You can say that again. Oh bugger me!

Ste: I already have Jay, and that's what's caused this little situation.

Jamie looked at Ste, then both boys dissolved into a fit of giggles. Eventually, they calmed down.

Jamie: Oh well, we'll just have to be more discreet next time. And avoid those people for the week. You know, this is something they ought to teach us in sex ed at school. I mean we learn all about safe sex, condoms an all that, but this was one risk we were just not prepared for.

Ste: You're right, we've been let down by the education system. Think of all the kids out there, totally unprepared for the dangers of rowdy shagging.

After another bout of laughter, the boys settled down for sleep.

Ste: I'm really looking forward to this week Jay. The whole week, just you and me.

Jamie: Yeah me too Ste. I love you.

Ste: I love you. Night baby.

Jamie: Night.

Snuggling together, cosy in the little single bed, Jamie and Ste fell asleep.

A few days later, the holiday was in full swing. The group had already visited Corfu Town, which was very interesting and enjoyable - apart from one minor stressful incident. The buses on the island were somewhat different from those back home. The only seats were round the edges, and everyone else was forced to stand, packed in like sardines, in the middle. On the way back, Tony somehow allowed himself to be pushed off the bus to allow other passengers to disembark. Sadly the driver failed to distinguish him from the others, and drove off without him. This resulted in a few frayed nerves, but Tony managed to squeeze onto the next bus, and all was well.

The boys planned - it was Ste's idea - to go on a hike across some nearby hills, a venture recommended in the hotel guidebook for the more "active and adventure-oriented" guests. Sandra and Tony would remain at sea level. The hotel also organised trips across the water to Albania, something the boys would have greatly liked to do. However the price was very high, and they knew Sandra didn't have much spare cash - the holiday was already costing a lot. So they decided not to mention it.

The hill walk wasn't for a few days. For the moment, it was twelve o'clock, and the group had wandered round the bay, admiring the expensive boats in the nearby jetty. They had taken a picnic lunch from the hotel, and were looking for somewhere nice to have it. They meandered away from the sea, heading for a trail through some nearby woods. The girl at the desk had said there were some lovely places to have lunch.

Having gone a little way into the forest, they found a beautiful spot for their picnic. Sandra unfolded a large blanket on the grass, just beside a small river. All around them was green, a far cry from the concrete of Thamesmead, and the sun was bright in the sky. Add in the gentle rustling of the leaves and the gurgling of the stream, and the scene was a picture of tranquillity.

While tucking into the delicious food, the conversation was lively. Jamie looked at Ste, and realised that he had very rarely, if ever, seen him looking so happy. For Ste, the number of times he had sat down to such a lovely meal with people he loved could be counted very quickly on one hand. For a brief moment he thought of Ronnie and Trevor, but immediately pushed them out of his mind. They would not spoil this.

Often during the meal, Jamie and Ste's eyes met. Jamie was so glad that Ste was with him, away from all his worries and problems. He would have given anything, done anything, to make Ste happy.

Afterwards, Sandra and Tony lay down on the grass, hands entwined. Ste looked at Jamie, and gestured with his eyes.

Jamie: I think we'll go for a little walk.

Ste: Yeah, lets.

Sandra: Oright lads, we'd come with ya, but I need to let that food settle. One scone too many I think. Just don't get lost.

Jamie: We won't mum. See ya.

The boys followed the stream for a while, chatting and joking. Each savouring this wonderful day. Ste looked around. They were off the path now, and there was no-one about. Then Jamie felt Ste's hand brush against his, and Ste slipped his fingers between Jamie's. He smiled at him, and they continued walking, hand in hand. As they strolled through the woods, speaking softly as if to avoid disturbing the peacefulness, birds sang cheerfully in the trees. Jamie tried to remember when he was last this happy, this content. He couldn't. This is life, he thought. This is life.

Jamie sat up and looked around him, peering through the branches to see if he could see anyone. Or more accurately, if anyone could see him.

Jamie: I'm all for a bit of risk Ste, but people walk by here all the time. I mean, what if my mum or Tony found us? I couldn't look them in the eye ever again.

Ste, lying topless in the grass with his hands supporting his head, just smiled at Jamie, also topless.

Ste: They would probably pick up a few tips. Seriously though Jay, I'm not suggesting we have it away like rabbits. And we've come a good way from the path, there is nobody about. Just stop worryin and get down here.

Ste pulled Jamie down towards him, and moved his lips towards his boyfriend's. They began to kiss, and soon were rolling about in the grass. The mock wrestling continued until Ste had Jamie pinned down beneath him. His breathing heavy and hot, he began to work his way down Jamie's body, kissing as much of Jamie's perfect skin as he could. His hands roamed across Jamie's chest, squeezing and rubbing certain bits of his friend that he knew would get him excited. Jamie's breath became more and more erratic. Suddenly, he stopped, and grinned.

Ste: You know what, I fancy a dip.

With that, he playfully kissed Jamie on the lips and jumped up. Before Jamie could speak he had stripped down to his boxers and was running towards to river. Jamie, his mind still reeling from the attention Ste had been giving him, heard a splash.

Jamie: That sod! How could he take me to the edge like that and then stop?

He too sprang up and headed toward the water, where Ste was swimming about.

Ste: Hey Jay, the water is perfect, so warm. Come in.

Jamie: Don't know if I want to go in with you, after what you just did.

Ste laughed and splashed some water up at Jamie.

Ste: I couldn't help it Jay. The water was calling to me.

Jamie: Yeah, I could hear it. "Ste… Ste…" it said. "Stop right in the middle of kissing Jamie's nipples, leaving him all hot and flustered and come to me." How could anyone have resisted it.

Ste: Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit Jamie. Now stop sulking and get your arse in here.

The firm approach seemed to work. Jamie weighed his options and decided that the water, and more importantly the half-naked Ste in it, did look pretty inviting. He shrugged off his shorts and dived in. After swimming about a bit, he paddled over to Ste. Ste took Jamie in his muscular arms and pulled him in for a kiss. Jamie returned the favour, and soon the pair were passionately snogging. Jamie's hands moved under water, feeling for the string of Ste's shorts. He undid them, and gently tugged them down. All the while their lips never broke contact. Ste did the same for Jamie, and soon they were both in the water naked, their bodies pressed tightly against each other. Hands roamed wild. Their explorations continued until they both realised that they were getting cold, and they pulled themselves onto the bank and sprawled on the grass.

Jamie: God I love you Ste, that was so amazing.

Ste: I know Jay, wow. And I love you.

They lay there for a while, eyes closed. They didn't realise that they were lying totally naked, not in the more isolated spot they were in before, but in full view of the path. Jamie's ignorance ended when they heard a familiar noise.


His eyes flew open. He sat up, to see the couple from the room next to them strolling along the path. His movement seemed to catch their attention, and they looked over. Jamie didn't see the looks on their faces. He was too busy grabbing Ste and dragging him back into the bushes.

Ste, who had been half-asleep, seemed amused when Jamie told him what happened.

Jamie: Don't know why you're smiling. It's bloody awful. After all that carry on this morning, sneakin out of the room so they wouldn't see us…

Ste: … only for you to bump headfirst into the guy as you're holdin my hand creepin round the corner…

Jamie: … and then at breakfast when I made that stupid remark about your sausage being the biggest I'd ever seen…

Ste: … and the woman was stood right behind you. Ha, I swear she almost dropped her weetabix in shock…

Jamie: … and now they see us lyin spread eagled naked on the grass. I'm gonna have to wear a paper bag on my head for the rest of the stay, I tell ya.

Ste just pulled Jamie towards him, and held him tight.

Ste: Sssshhh.I think wearin a bag might just draw more attention baby. And it would hide those beautiful eyes of yours. And that yummy nose. And gorgeous, biteable ears. And sexy, tasty, kissable lips. Who cares what some guy and his girlfriend see.

Jamie: Or hear.

Ste: Or hear. Let's forget about them. After this week we'll never see them again, so it's not worth getting het up about. Deal?

Jamie: Okay, deal.

Ste: C'mon lets get back to the hotel. It's gettin late, Sandra'll be worried we've got ourselves lost and are halfway to Athens by now.

It was five o'clock when they got back to the hotel. They discovered Sandra and Tony had already been back, and had now gone for another short walk before dinner. The boys decided to wait for them outside on the deck overlooking the sea.

They were sitting on the loungers listening to the faint sound of the waves crashing on the shore, and taking in the glorious panorama, when a very attractive girl, about 18, came over to them. She sat in a chair opposite. She smiled across at them, and introduced herself as Karen, one of the trainee holiday reps. Just then, Sandra and Tony came in. They said hello to Karen, then headed up for a shower before dinner.

Karen: So what's your names?

Jamie and Ste introduced themselves. Jamie noticed that most of the time so far, Karen had hardly taken her eyes from Ste.

Karen: Were those your parents?

Jamie: That was my mum, and her boyfriend.

Ste: Jamie and me, we're… sorta like brothers.

Karen: Really, I've got a brother too. Nick. He's older than me.

It was now plain to both lads that Karen was directing all her attention at Ste.

Karen: Hey Ste, do you fancy doin something after dinner. A walk on the beach maybe, game of badminton. Just the two of us?

Ste looked behind her at Jamie, who's face was unreadable.

Ste: Well, actually, Jamie and I…

Karen: He won't mind, will you?

Jamie shrugged.

Karen: See? You can't turn down an offer from an attractive girl just to hang with your brother. I'm sure he'd rather you had a bit of fun anyway.

Ste found himself getting quite irritated with this brash girl.

Ste: Look, thank you, but I'm gonna hang out with Jamie tonight.

He looked at Jamie, who smiled a thank you at him. Karen saw this, frowned and stood up. Ste decided to come right out and tell her the truth.

Ste: You should know Karen, Jamie is actually…

Karen: …Just think about it Ste. Think of all the fun we could have together. Certainly more exciting than spending the evening with…

She let the sentence trail away, deciding not to say anything further. She turned on her heel and left.

Jamie: Well that was interesting. I don't think she liked being turned down Ste. You annoyed her.

Ste: She was getting on my nerves Jay, the way she spoke to you.

Jamie: She fancies you.

Ste: Most people do Jay, I've learned to live with it. Luckily for you, I don't fancy her.

Jamie: No? I'm sure I saw you ogling her breasts.

Ste: Now that you mention it…

He laughed as Jamie swatted him on the shoulder.

Jamie: You are just lucky I trust ya. C'mon, you babe magnet you. Dinner.

After the meal, Jamie, Ste, Sandra and Tony returned outside. They sat round a small table, the boys on one side, Sandra and Tony on the other. A leisurely hour passed, everyone enjoying the comfort of the surroundings and glad to be in each other's company. Successive trips to the bar resulted in a large amount of alcohol being drunk by all. Eventually, Sandra and Tony decided to head upstairs. Ste and Jamie chose to stay for a while before retiring. They moved over to a big sofa-style chair, and lay next to one another, discreetly holding hands. Both were a little tipsy.

Jamie: Well, just the two of us now.

Ste: Yep. This is nice, innit.

Jamie: Yeh, we should do this more often.

Ste: It would be nice wouldn't it, if life was like this always. Imagine if we could just live like this all the time, spending the days in the sun and relaxin in the moonlight at night.

Jamie: I'd like that. But would ya not miss things from home. I mean, what about playin footie? I know me and you could give mum and Tony a game, but I don't think it'd be quite the same.

Ste: Yeh, sure, I'd miss football.

Jamie: And what about Ryan, Lenny and Jayson? You'd miss them.

Ste: True. That's all true. But I'd have the best damn thing possible to make up for it. I'd have you. And you are all I want, really. The others are a laugh, yeh, but that's all. They don't know me like you do. They don't mean the world to me, and I don't love them so much it hurts. And I don't find them totally drop dead gorgeous either.

Jamie: Aww, thank you Ste, tha…

Ste: … although Ryan does have a kind of sexiness about him. Especially when he's naked. And talkin about naked, have you ever seen Jace in the buff? I've never seen anyone with such a big…

Jamie: Okay, okay, I get the picture.

Ste: I can't get rid of the picture…

Jamie: Enough, you silly sod. C'mere and gimme a kiss, you little stud muffin.

Ste: Stud muffin??? I like that one!! I think your drunk Jay

Jamie adopted an air of drunken outrage.

Jamie: I am most cert…hic…certainly not drunk! And if you will not give me a kiss Steven, I'll just have to go find someone else who will.

Ste was still smiling as Jamie rose to his feet, and made his way to the toilets, pretending to sway unsteadily. He was in two minds about going in and joining him when suddenly Karen slipped into the seat beside him.

Karen: Hi Ste.

Ste was weary of this girl, who was far too pushy and in-your-face for his liking. He nodded acknowledgement.

Karen: Look, Ste, I wanna say sorry. For the way I was before. Its just, well, we don't get so many young single guys here, its mainly couples. I saw you, and I knew if I was gonna have a chance I'd have at grab the bull by the horns. I'm not normally so… brazen.

Surprised by the change in Karen, Ste didn't know how to respond. Karen continued.

Karen: It's just, I was in sitting over there, and I couldn't help noticing the way you and Jamie acted together. You're not really brothers, are ya.

Ste sighed. He knew they had been pretty blatant, lying half-draped across one another.

Ste: No, you're right, we're not brothers. I was gonna say before, ya know, but it's all a bit new, and…

At that moment, Karen saw Jamie returning from the toilet. She stood up.

Karen: It's cool Ste. Really, it's fine. And I'm sorry again.

Jamie reached the pair of them.

Karen: Hey Jamie, I was just apologisin to Ste for bein so rude last time. I've gotta go, you two have a nice night. Bye

With that, she headed inside. Ste filled a surprised Jamie in on their conversation.

Jamie: So you told her I was your boyfriend?

Ste: Well, I never got round to actually sayin it. But she knew.

They sat in silence for a moment, contemplating the encounter, before deciding that it was time to head upstairs for bed.

Later that night, as the boys lay naked on top of the sheets in bed, Jamie's mind turned back to the incident with Karen.

Jamie: You know, thinking about Karen knowin that we're together, it's strange. Feels kinda good, kinda liberatin.

Ste: Yeh, you're right Jay. As she was sayin it, my first instinct was to be afraid. Then, when she was totally fine about it, I began to see it differently. I liked how it felt to be open about how I feel about you, havin someone else apart from Sandra and Tony know about us. That's the way it should be, no secrets, no lies. Not havin to hide who we really are.

Jamie: I know Ste, I know. Sounds easy, don't it. Just tell the truth.

Ste: Yeah, sounds so easy.

Jamie: One day, Ste, one day we'll tell everyone. Until then, we'll just have to make do with what we've got.

Ste: What's that?

Jamie: Well, don't know about you, but I've got a very sexy boyfriend lying naked beside me on the bed. Who I hope will very soon be on top of me on the bed.

Ste didn't need any further encouragement. He put all thoughts out of his mind, focussing entirely on the beautiful boy next to him. He rolled over, onto Jamie. Their hot bodies ground together as they passionately kissed, tongues alive and dancing in the other's mouth. Ste's hand slipped down between Jamie's legs, but Jamie stopped him. His breathing ragged, he whispered hotly in Ste's ear.

Jamie: Before… before we get… frisky… let's keep it down… a bit… this time…

Ste smiled.

Ste: Keep it down, eh. I wish you'd said earlier Jay, coz I'm afraid it's too late. I'm already up, and…

He had a little feel with his hand.

Ste: … unless you brought one of the carrots up from dinner, I'd say you are too.

It took Jamie, in his current state, a moment to realise what Ste meant. He swatted Ste's backside, and in between kisses, told him,

Jamie: You know… fine well… that I… mean the… noise level… you filthy… depraved…

His voice tailed off, as Ste pulled Jamie's mouth towards his, and began to kiss him. Jamie broke away.

Jamie: Hey, what do you mean, a carrot? How dare you compare my….

He stopped when he felt Ste's tongue circling his left nipple. Then his right. He moaned, and pulled Ste's face towards him.

Jamie: C'mon baby, lets show the rabbits how it's done.

Sandra and Tony were already tucking into their full English - they had tried the Greek breakfast the other morning and found it didn't compare with bacon, sausages and eggs - when a bleary eyed Jamie and Ste came down for breakfast. After loading their plates to the brim, they took a seat at the table

Sandra: Bloody hell lads, you've got enough food there to feed the five thousand. Could you have taken any more sausages Ste?

Ste spluttered in his tea.

Sandra: Don't know what the hell you've been doin to be so hungry.

Jamie and Ste looked furtively at each other, blushing profusely. If Sandra noticed, she didn't let on, and continued talking.

Sandra: So what's the big plan for today. Lazin' by the pool, lyin' on the beach?

Jamie wiped jam from his mouth and looked at Ste.

Jamie: Dunno, what do you wanna do Ste?

Ste: Well, we're gonna do that hike tomorrow, so probably something relaxin. Beach?

Jamie: Okay.

Sandra: Well me and Tony'll join ya later on, we're gonna wander round the market for a bit. Get some presents to take home. I saw some nice things when we passed the other day.

Jamie: Yeah, you can pick up a towel with a map of the island on for Louise.

Ste: No no. I think you should get a fridge magnet. They are way underrated.

Jamie: Or a keyring. Ooh, one that says 'I Love Corfu' on it!

Ste: Maybe one of those little ornaments in the shape of the island. They aren't tacky at all.

Sandra: Right, that's enough thank you! When I need my taste in souvenirs mocked I'll let you know.

That night, the group hit the town. Or, more accurately, they went to one of the few bars in the area near the hotel for some drinks. It was a Neil Diamond-themed karaoke night in the pub that evening, and it didn't take too long before Sandra was on stage showcasing her vocal talent. Her rendition of "Forever in Blue Jeans" left a lot to be desired, and her "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" duet with Tony wasn't much better. Fortunately, nobody else was much better, and everyone was drunk. Sandra tried to persuade Jamie and Ste to get up.

Sandra: Go on lad's its karaoke. You can't just sit there. Pick a song and go for it.

Still nowhere near drunk enough to get up, Ste tried in vain to protest that he didn't know any of the songs.

Sandra: Not buyin it Stevie boy. You must know Sweet Caroline.

Tony: Yeah, go for it kids.

Jamie, who had been looking through the song list, suddenly downed his pint.

Jamie: I think I know this one, I think I'm gonna do it.

He turned to Ste.

Jamie: Can't let them take all the embarrassment, can I?

Sandra: Go on!

She began cheering and clapping as Jamie took a big gulp from Ste's drink and moved over to the stage. Soon the intro music started.

Tony: Oh this is a nice one.

Jamie moved up to the microphone.

Jamie: This is dedicated to the person I love. Thank you for lovin me back.

His eyes locked with Ste's, and remained there, as he sang. For them, there was no-one else in the room. It was Jamie singing only to Ste. Ste's eyes welled up. After a few verses, he was almost in tears. God, how I love this boy, he thought.

"… Hello, my friend, hello

It's good to need you so

It's good to love you like I do

And to feel this way

When I hear you say

Hello" (*)

By now it was clear that Jamie himself was struggling not to cry. He still hadn't taken his eyes from Ste, a fact not lost on the other people in the pub. Sandra, even in her tipsy condition, was concerned. Yes, she was so proud, happy, amazed at Jamie's courage. But she was also worried that it might not go down very well with the crowd.

"Hello, again, hello

Just called to let you know

I think about you every night

And I know it's late

But I couldn't wait

Hello" (*)

She needn't have feared. When Jamie sang the final word, people clapped and cheered. As he got off the stage and walked towards their table, another man was getting up. By the time he'd sat down, and Ste had hugged him and begun whispering in his ear, a less than melodious version of "I Am I Said" was already underway.

But Sandra wasn't stupid, or naïve. Her son had been lucky tonight, and the crowd had been friendly. However, she knew that it wouldn't always be easy. Throughout his life he'd have to face people and situations hostile to his lifestyle. It wasn't fair. But then when was life ever fair?

For a while, after she found out Jamie was gay, she'd thought constantly about the hardships her son would face because of his sexuality. Slowly, she'd come to the conclusion that, yes, he would have it tougher than if he were straight, but she was sure of one thing. If Jamie could have anyone to face life, good and bad, with him, she could think of no-one better than Ste. And that, more than anything, had given her strength.

Jamie, Sandra and Tony were lying on loungers by the edge of the pool. They were dressed in swim wear, and all were dipping their feet in the cool water. Ste was doing slow laps in the water.

The day before, the lads had done their hill walk. It was an experience Jamie didn't want to repeat in a hurry, as he had told Ste that night in bed.

Jamie: I mean, don't get me wrong Ste, I really enjoyed spending the time with you. That was great. It was just a little bit too…what are the words…exhausting? Gruelling? Backbreaking maybe?

Ste: I think that's a bit of an exaggeration. Yes, I'll grant you it wasn't a walk in the park. But then again, it was really only a hill. We weren't climbing Everest.

Jamie: Mmm. I think you're puttin on a macho act coz you think it'll impress me. Inside you found it every bit as hellish as me.

Ste: Nope. Coulda done it blindfolded, with one leg, and carryin you on me back. Hell, I basically did do it carryin you on me back.

Jamie punched him.

Jamie: Bollocks. I managed myself.

He settled himself back down next to Ste, wrapping his arms around him. Ste nestled into the crook of Jamie's neck.

Ste: I know you did baby. I also know I was the one who wanted to go on the walk, and you were never too keen. But you did it for me. Thanks.

Jamie: I'd go anywhere Ste, as long as you were with me. But next time, if the choice is between a walk in the park and climbing a "hill," let's pick the park, ok?

Ste: You've gotta deal. Night Jay. Love ya.

Jamie: Love you back Ste. G'night.

He and Ste had spent their final day on the beach. Ste had once again enjoyed the chance to swim in the sea, totally different to a pool. He loved the way the waves carried him as he swam inwards, or fought against him as he swam out. Jamie had been in the sea, but preferred to spend his time under the parasol, reading his book. He found the noise of the sea, as the tide ebbed and flowed, very soothing. He also loved looking up from his book to see Ste come out of the sea towards him, water dripping off his sculpted body.

A while later, after lunch, Sandra and Tony had joined them, and they had made their way up to the pool. Ste and Jamie had spent a while in the water, before Jamie decided to come out. Now Ste too left the pool, towelled himself off and lay down beside Jamie. Their flight left Corfu at midnight, and the bus was picking them up from the hotel at eight. Sandra: Well, we'll have to make a move soon lads.

Jamie: Do we really have to? Let's just stay here, forever.

Sandra: That would be nice.

She turned to Tony and gave him a peck on the lips.

Tony: Yeah, its been a pretty cool little holiday.

Ste: It's been wonderful.

He grabbed Jamie's hand, and held it tightly.

Ste: Not too long ago, I never could have dreamed of havin a holiday like this. This was something other people got to do, not me. Thank you Sandra, and Tony. And thank you Jay.

Jamie: It's me who should be thankin you. You think I'd have had a good time if you weren't here?

Ste: Mmm. Well, I still want to thank you.

Jamie: And I want to thank you

Ste: Thank you…

Jamie: Thank you…

Ste: Thank you…

Jamie: Thank you…

Their words trail off as their mouths met for a quick, but heartfelt kiss. Sandra looked at her boys for a moment, her heart swelling. Despite all her private misgivings, she was so glad they were happy. She looked at her watch.

Sandra: Well, sorry to break up this meeting of the Mutual Appreciation society, but we'd better get goin.

With that, the two couples reluctantly picked themselves up and headed back to the hotel. All were sad that the week had come to an end. For Jamie and Ste, it had been a time to enjoy each other's company in an environment where they felt at ease. Somewhere they could let their true feelings out, without constantly looking over their shoulders. As for Sandra and Tony, well, they had a great time too. Simply the change of scenery, leaving behind the drab greys of Thamesmead for this beautiful, idyllic island, had done everyone the world of good.

Back in Britain, as Tony's little van hurtled along the motorway, its occupants were silent, each lost in their own thoughts. Some nice music was playing on the radio and Jamie found it more and more difficult to stay awake. Eventually, he succumbed, and his head fell onto Ste's lap. Sandra heard Ste's little exclamation of surprise and turned round. She smiled.

Sandra: Just give him a shove Ste.

Ste: It's fine Sandra, I'll let him sleep.

Nothing in the world would have made Ste wake Jamie up. He gazed down at the peaceful face of the boy he loved, moving his hands slowly through Jamie's hair. Discreetly, when Sandra and Tony were not looking, he bent his own head down to meet Jamie's. Even after the most wonderful of weeks, he still couldn't quite believe how lucky he was. To have found someone to love, someone who loved him right back. Someone who would take him away from the hellhole that was his house, and make him happy. He kissed Jamie tenderly on the cheek, and whispered sweet nothings into his ear.

As they got out the van at Thamesmead, and lugged their stuff up the stairs (Sandra: Bloody lift, always broken), the sun was just going down. They reached the door of Jamie's flat first, and Sandra and Tony said goodbye to Ste. They went inside. Jamie and Ste stood side by side, leaning over the balcony to watch the sunset. They were making the most of their final moments together before reality came crashing in, and Ste had to return to his flat.

Jamie: You heard what mum said Ste. Only a few weeks, and we are away from here. You never have to see them again if you don't wanna. You're old enough to decide where you wanna live now.

Ste: I know Jay, I can't quite believe it.

He looked down at Jamie's hand. He took it into his own.

Ste: Y'know, in the car I was thinkin. Goin back into the flat, dealin with me dad and Trevor, it doesn't seem so scary now as it did before. And it's all coz of you. I know that no matter what happens you are right next door. That gives me strength. I don't feel alone no more. And that was probably the worst thing of all. Worse than getting hit, and havin them treat me like shit. Yeh I had Ryan and them, but they never knew anything about it, so it didn't help. And now I've got you.

Jamie found tears welling up in his eyes.

Jamie: I was always there for ya Ste. I always cared.

Ste: You were, but I just didn't know it.

Jamie: You do now.

Ste: Yep, I do now. And I love ya for it.

With that, he pulled Jamie into a tight hug, relishing the smell of Jamie's neck as his nose pressed against it. They slowly pulled apart, knowing they must go inside. To their separate flats. Ever so gradually, dragging out the time as long as possible, they opened their flat doors.

Ste: That's us then…

Jamie: Yep, suppose it is…

Ste: Well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow Jay…

Jamie: Yeah, I guess you will…

Ste: Till tomorrow then…

Jamie: Till tomorrow Ste…

Ste: Have a good night…. Oh this is daft!

He quickly dashed across to Jamie, gave him a throbbing kiss on the lips, flashed him a brilliant smile.

Ste: Night Jay. Love ya.

Before Jamie could pull enough of his wits together to respond, Ste had gone inside. He smiled to himself. What is that boy like, he thought. Grinning and shaking his head, he headed inside, pulling the door firmly closed.

(*) Words from "Hello Again" by Neil Diamond.

Thank you for reading. This was my first attempt at writing, and I hope you enjoyed it. Any comments or feedback would be welcome.