Ste's Day Indoors

Gary D.

This is set some time after "Every Cloud..."

Part I: Setting the scene

Ste meandered slowly along the hall, not really thinking what he was doing. He reached the bathroom and went in, his body on auto-pilot. He switched on the light and began to unzip himself. Then he realised what he was doing.

Ste: What the bloody hell am I doing at the toilet again? This is the fourth time this morning!

He quickly zipped himself back up, and headed back to the living room. He flopped down on the couch, and gave a sigh.

Two months ago had been his eighteenth birthday. And two weeks later, through the front door dropped the letter. Jury duty. And now here he was, stuck in the house, waiting for the phone to ring. Just as he'd been stuck in yesterday. And the day before, and before that… four days and he hadn't even set foot in a courtroom.

He'd got up this morning and had planned to go out and do the garden. Sandra had bought a set of cordless phones for the flat, so she could take them down to the pub when needed. He could have brought the phone with him, and passed some time outside.

But no. Just as he was getting ready, down came the rain. 'I swear there is someone up there watching,' he had thought, as he looked to the sky, '"Oh look, there's Steven unwinding the cord on his lawnmower, let's piss it down."'

As he lay there on the couch, contemplating his boredom, his mind drifted back to his eighteenth birthday. Despite his bad mood, he couldn't help but smile at the memories. Jamie and he had gone camping for the weekend. It had been an experience he would never forget. Jamie, for all his strengths, was not the world's ablest outdoorsman.

Part II: Two lads, one tent

As Ste stood there, he took in everything. It was a gorgeous evening. The sky was reddened by the setting sun, the air was fresh, and the trees swayed in the breeze. So different from London.

Jamie had planned this little camping trip as a treat for Ste's eighteenth birthday. The big day had actually been last Tuesday, when he and Jamie had hit the town with some of the lads. That had been brilliant, but this was what Ste had really been looking forward to.

He had just begun to relieve himself when the wind started to pick up. He quickly turned to face away from it, to avoid an unwelcome shower.

He and Jamie had just managed to get the tent up. Well, really he managed to get the tent up. Jamie had just…. well, he'd put the…. what had he done?

'He tried his best,' Ste decided. He knew that camping wasn't really Jamie's cup of tea, that his boyfriend was doing it because he had told him that it was something he had always wanted to do.

The wind was really gusting now. Ste enjoyed it though. It was exhilarating. He thought about the evening ahead. With the tent up, they could see about getting a fire going, before it got too dark. Then, later, they would go into the tent, just the two of them, and…. Ste almost shivered with anticipation.

Ste zipped himself up and headed back to where the tent was pitched. Or indeed, where the tent had been pitched. Their rucksacks were there, scattered a bit, but the tent was gone. And so was Jamie.

Then Ste heard a faint voice calling his name. It was Jamie. Ste's eyes searched for his friend in the ever diminishing light. At first he couldn't see him. Then, a good two hundred yards away, he spotted him. And the tent. The tent was in a tree.

He sprinted the distance quickly.

Ste: Jay! What happened?

Jamie: It was not me Ste, I swear! I was stood there, lookin through my bag, when it got really windy.

Ste: Yeah, I felt it when I was….

Jamie: …. pissing?

Ste: Don't be crude Jay, it doesn't suit you.

They both smiled.

Jamie: Anyway, suddenly this massive gust comes along, and next thing I know the tent's out of the ground and being blown away. I ran after it, but then another gust came, musta caught it at just the wrong angle, and up it went.

Ste: Right into the tree.

Jamie: Yep, right into the tree.

Ste looked up at the tent, caught on a branch halfway up the rather tall oak tree. He gave a sigh.

Ste: Oh well, such are the joys of camping. C'mon, give us a leg up, will you Jay.

Later that evening, Jamie and Ste were lying in their rescued tent. With some difficulty, Ste had managed to get it down from the tree. Jamie helped by offering words of encouragement and support (from the safety of terra firma of course).

The lads had also gotten a fire going, and had made a really nice meal. Ste had loved it, especially the obligatory toasted marshmallows. He'd never done anything like this before in his life, and he was revelling in every moment.

He and Jamie were now lying side by side, naked and breathing heavily from some passionate lovemaking. As their heart rates returned to normal, they were still. Listening to the sounds of the outdoors. Rustling, hooting, creaking, padding. Sounds foreign to boys who grew up solely on a London estate.

Jamie leaned towards Ste, kissing his neck in the darkness. He whispered to him.

Jamie: Just think Ste. Only a tiny bit of fabric between us and nature.

Ste: Yeah, it's strange. We're so used to sleeping with miles and miles of houses and motorways between us and nature. It's so calm and peaceful.

Jamie: It is that.

Then Jamie smiled to himself.

Jamie: Just hope there's no lions, tigers or bears around these parts.

Ste: Think we're probably safe. No need to worry Dorothy.

Jamie: Hey, if I'm Dorothy, who are you?

Ste thought for a moment.

Ste: Well, judging by the my fearlessness earlier today in scaling that tree….

Jamie snorted at Ste's description of himself 'scaling' the tree.

Jamie: Ha! 'More like 'scrambling, falling, grasping, pulling, slipping and inching' up the tree, I would say!

Ste elbowed Jamie, but otherwise ignored this remark. He continued.

Ste: …. so I can't be the lion, cos he didn't have courage. What next. Ah, yes, Remember last week I managed to get that new TV your mum bought all connected up and working. Without the instructions, I might add, which you….

Jamie: …. Yes, ok, no need to mention that again. It wasn't me that left them so near the hobs. I mean you don't expect it, do you? To put some pasta on to boil for your dinner, leave the room for thirty seconds, thirty seconds, and come back to find an instruction manual in flames beside the cooker.

Ste couldn't help but giggling at the memory.

Ste: Anyway, that proves I'm clever. So I'm not the scarecrow. And I cannot, on no account, be the tin man.

Jamie: Why?

Ste: Because he was looking for a heart. And if I didn't have a heart, how could I love you so totally and utterly as I do?

In the darkness, his lips sought Jamie's lips, and they kissed. Eventually, they broke apart. Ste wriggled down a bit, and lay his head on Jamie's chest. Jamie slipped his arm around Ste, and held him close.

Ste: Thanks so much for this Jay. It really has been the best birthday present I've ever had.

Jamie: I'm glad you're enjoying it Ste.

Ste: I am. And I know that this sorta thing isn't really your idea of fun, but you're doin it for me.

Jamie shrugged.

Jamie: It is your birthday. And anyway, I'm happy when you're happy.

He kissed the top of Ste's head.

Jamie: I can put up with accommodation that blows away when you're back is turned.

Another kiss.

Jamie: And I don't mind having to share a bed with creepy crawlies - don't mean you Ste.


Jamie: And I can take two days of shitting in the woods and using leaves as toilet paper. As long as I'm with you.

Ste was silent for a moment.

Ste: That has to be the most romantic thing you've ever said to me Jay.

After a fit of giggles, they both settled down for the night, tightly wrapped together in their sleeping bag. And so, as owls and badgers went about their nocturnal chores, Jamie and Ste slept. Under canvas. Under the stars.

Part III: With the ringing of the phone….

Thinking back to their camping trip brought Ste's mind back to Jamie. He wished he was there with him. 'I bet we could have found something to do to pass the time,' he thought, and grinned.

At this moment, Jamie was with Sandra in Edinburgh. Jamie had an interview for a place on a course at the university, and he had booked a hotel for two nights in the town. The plan had been for him and Ste to go, have a few days together. But then Ste got the letter.

Meanwhile, Sandra had the week off work. The Anchor was closed for refurbishment, so she had been given an extra holiday. She had therefore taken Ste's place on the trip, much to the dismay of both boys. Tony wasn't home at the moment either. One of his old relatives had died in Bournemouth, and he was staying down there tonight while he got her affairs sorted. With the refurb going on, it meant Ste couldn't go down to the pub. He was stuck, imprisoned, in the flat.

The phone rang. Ste sprang up to answer it, knocking over a plant and spilling soil all over the carpet. Over Sandra's nice cream carpet.

Ste: Bugger!

He reached the phone, not in the best of moods.

Ste: Hello… sorry… no there's no-one with that name here… no, I think you've got the wrong number… that's ok… you too, bye.

He turned around and surveyed the mess.

Ste: God almighty!

He went to the cupboard, got the hoover, and started to clean up the mess. He had just about finished when the phone rang again. More carefully this time, he went to answer it. This time it was Jamie.

Jamie: Hey baby, just calling to see how you are. Have they called?

Ste: Oh hi Jay. No, nothing yet. Just sitting about, you know, bored witless. How're things with you?

Jamie: Alright. Interview's in three hours, and I'm more than a tiny bit nervous. But yeah, the hotel's nice, the weather's lovely. To quote from a postcard cliche, I wish you were here Ste.

Ste: I know, I wish I was too Jay. And I've told you, you've got absolutely nothing to worry about with the interview. You'll breeze it.

Jamie: I hope so.

Ste: I know so. How could they resist someone as handsome, charming and clever as you.

Jamie: You missed out sexy. And that I'm a joy to be around. Oh, and what about my sparkling wit?

Ste: Mmmn. Let's just hope modesty is not one of the key requirements.

Both boys dissolved into laughter. When it died away, there was silence. Both were filled with longing for the other.

Jamie: Ste?

Ste: Yeah Jay?

Jamie: Love you.

Ste: Love you too.

Jamie: I'd better let you go. They might be trying to call you.

Ste: Yeah, I suppose so.

Jamie: I'll ring you after the interview, let you know how it went.

Ste: Yeah, I'll be waiting. Not that you need it, but good luck. I know you can do it. You're the best.

Jamie: Thanks baby. Just knowing you're there, thinkin of me, makes it easier. Bye Ste.

Ste: Bye, Jay.

Part IV: A couple of hours with Humphrey and Lauren

Another uneventful hour passed for Ste. He had some excitement when, as he was having his lunch, he saw a seagull drop the remnants of a sandwich it was carrying in its beak onto a man on the street below. Ste ducked down just in time, as the man looked up at the window of the flat, obviously believing the falling BLT to have come from there.

As the clock on the mantelpiece signalled one o'clock, Ste did have one task to do. He had spoken to someone at the sports centre about getting a job there over the summer. He had been given a number to ring, after one o'clock on Thursday, to speak to the personel manager.

He went over to the telephone, composed himself, and dialled.

Ste: Hello, I'd like to speak to Adam White please…. Steven Pearce…. Oh is he not…. Yes if he could that would be great thanks…. ok, bye.

Ste put down the handset, walked over to the other side of the room and switched on the television. He channel hopped for a bit, but nothing caught his fancy. He went into his room, then returned with a DVD. He popped it into the machine, then lay down on the couch to watch it. It was an old film of Jamie's, "To Have And Have Not." A year ago, Ste would never have believed he would develop a taste for the black and white films that Jamie loved. But after being cajoled by his boyfriend into watching several of them, he found that he had. This wasn't one of his favourites, but he still liked it. It helped to pass another couple of hours.

Jamie phoned soon after the film had ended.

Jamie: Hey Ste, that's me just back.

Ste: How'd it go?

Jamie: Really well. They asked all the questions I expected, only one or two curly ones.

Ste: That's brilliant Jay! Brilliant! I knew you'd ace it.

Jamie: Well, I haven't got it yet. Should hear by Friday. Here's hoping.

Ste: Oh God Jay, I wish you were here now. I'd give you a big hug, a long, smouldering kiss then cart you right off to bed.

Jamie: Well, maybe the hug and the kiss Ste, but I don't think I'd want to go to bed. I mean, I don't think I'd feel like sleepin in the middle of the day.

Ste: You'd be so exhausted that you'd feel like sleeping for a week after I had my way with you. They don't call me Duracel Ste for nothing you know.

Jamie: Who calls you Duracel Ste?

Ste: Well….

Jamie: Although, you do bear a striking resemblance to the Duracell bunny when you've got your pyjamas on. I've always said you look adorable in them.

Although neither of the lads had actually giggled, both could somehow tell that the other was grinning madly. A few seconds silence was all it took for them to burst into peals of laughter.

When he finally got off the phone to Jamie, Ste looked at the clock. It had just gone half past three. He went back to couch, and lay down. The workers in the pub downstairs had the radio on, and Ste could hear the sound of BBC Radio 2 drifting upstairs. He couldn't make out what was being said, only the songs that were played. He closed his eyes, and thought of Jamie.

He pictured his gorgeous blue eyes, his adorable smile. His well-defined torso, with just that bit of a tummy that Ste loved so much. 'I am so lucky,' he thought, 'to have the most handsome, kind, decent, beautiful guy in the world as my boyfriend. God, how I love you Jay.'

And with such warm and pleasant thoughts, and the notes of Glen Campbell's 'All I Have To Do Is Dream' floating up from below, Ste drifted into sleep.

"All I have to do is dream

Dream, dream, dream, dream"

Part V: An unexpected announcement

The doorbell rang downstairs. Ste went to answer it. At the front door, he found two of his friends from school, Ryan and Jayson.

Ste: Hey guys, what you doing here?

Ryan: We were just passing, thought we'd pop in and see our old buddy.

Ste: C'mon up.

Up in the flat, Ste got some beers from the fridge and handed them to the boys. In the living room, Ste sat on the armchair while the other two took the couch. Ste couldn't help noticing how close together his friends were sitting. He could also see that they were a bit nervous.

Jayson: Actually, mate, we… eh…. we didn't just come here to take advantage of your hospitality. We, that is me and Ryan, have got something to tell you.

As he spoke, Ste watched as Ryan reached down and took Jayson's hand in his.

Ryan: Jase and I…. we're a….We're gay, Ste. Jase is my boyfriend.

Ste sat there stunned. He couldn't believe what he was seeing or hearing.

Jayson: Yeah, for about three months now. Didn't want to tell you, or anyone else, until we'd told our parents.

Ryan: Which we did yesterday.

Jayson: It was really thanks to you and Jamie that we were brave enough to come out at all.

Ste finally spoke. He decided his leg was being well and truly pulled.

Ste: Yes, most amusing. Very funny. You almost had me fooled, but I'm not that daft!

Ryan and Jayson looked at one another.

Ryan: We're not joking Ste.

Jayson: Look, we'll prove it to you.

With that, Jayson pulled Ryan towards him, into a passionate embrace. Ste sat there, open-mouthed, as the pair snogged fervently before his eyes. He finally pulled his wits together enough to speak.

Ste: Okay, okay, I get the picture. Jeez, that is something I never thought I'd see, or ever wanted to see.

Ryan: I know it must be a bit of a surprise.

He stood up.

Ryan: Just nipping to the loo.

When Ryan left the room, Jayson suddenly - inexplicably - started to cry. Ste didn't know what was wrong. He asked him what the matter was, but his friend just continued to weep. Ste got up from the chair, and went over to the couch. He put his arm on Jayson's shoulder, and asked him again. This time, Jayson turned to Ste, and pulled him into a tight hug.

At that moment, Ryan re-entered the room. He saw Ste and Jayson in an embrace on the couch. He spoke in a low growl.

Ryan: What the fuck is going on.

Ste: What, nothing Ry. Jase was crying, and….

Ryan: Get your fuckin hands off my boyfriend, you wanker!

Ste: C'mon Ry, don't be ridiculous. Tell him Jase!

But Jayson never spoke. Ryan moved across, and violently pulled Ste and Jayson apart. He raised his fist.

Ste: Ryan! Stop!

Ryan paid no heed. He brought his fist down hard onto Ste's face.

Oddly enough, Ste felt no pain. Just a strange ringing sound, as his world gradually dissolved into black.

Part VI: Return from the land of nod

ring, ring

ring, ring

The sound of the telephone woke Ste up. He sat up on the couch, and rubbed his eyes. 'That was one hell of a strange dream,' he thought.

The cordless phone was on the ground next to him. He picked it up and answered it.

Ste: Hello.

Caller: Hello, can I speak to Steven Pearce please.

Ste: This is he.

Caller: Ah hello, its Adam White from Rotherhithe sports centre. I believe you called in relation to a summer job in the centre.

Ste then spent the next fifteen minutes fielding various questions. The image from his dream, of Ryan and Jayson kissing, was vivid in his mind, and was somewhat off-putting. Nevertheless, his friendly and polite manner, and his honest answers to questions must have satisfied the personel manager. Ste was invited to a meeting the following week.

Adam: Basically Ste, it's just to tie off loose ends. You seem warm and personable over the phone, and if you're like that when we meet, we should definitely have something for you.

Ste: That's brilliant, thanks a lot.

Adam: Okay, see you next week Ste. Bye.

Ste: Bye.

Pleased and satisfied by the outcome of the phone call, Ste's mood began to lighten. He decided he felt like a good long soak in a nice warm bath. Taking the phone with him, he headed for the bathroom.

As Ste lay there, luxuriating in the bubbles, he wished Jamie was in the tub with him. Although he adored it when Jamie and he showered together, he always enjoyed it more when they shared a bath. Something about lying there, naked, their bodies pressed together in the water…. God, he loved it! He cast his mind back to the first time he and Jamie had shared a bath together, back in Jamie's flat in Thamesmead.

Part VII: Baths are made for sharing

Jamie followed Ste into the bathroom, locking the door behind them. Even though Sandra was out for the evening, the lads were taking no chances. Ste was first into the tub. He had let his boxers fall to the floor and stepped into the water, all the while keeping his eyes on Jamie. Then he had lowered himself under the mountain of bubbles, his beautiful body hidden from Jamie's roaming eyes.

Desperate to get in beside his best friend, yet nervous too, Jamie shucked off his clothes. He stood there for a moment. This gave Ste ample time to once again drink in the beauty of what was, for him, utter perfection. From the top of his head to the tips of his toes, Jamie was the most handsome boy he had ever seen. And he was his, standing naked about to get into a bath with him. Even though it was happening, he could scarcely believe it. He was unable to bear it any longer.

Ste: C'mon in Jay. Water's lovely.

Jamie stepped into the bath, and gradually lowered himself down. As their bodies made contact with one another, they both felt the familiar tingling sensation. Like two wires touching, little sparks of electricity flew between them. More and more of their anatomies pressed together, as Jamie laid his body down almost on top of Ste's. They kissed and embraced, sliding about a bit to find the most comfortable position. Hands roamed wild over slippery skin. Legs entwined and feet danced. Buttocks were kneaded and… certain other parts received plenty of attention too.

Half an hour later, the boys were still in the bath. Jamie had topped it up with more hot water to keep the temperature up. The pair were now still, resting from their exertions. Jamie was behind Ste, propped up against the back of the tub. Ste lay between his legs, his back on Jamie's chest, his head on Jamie's neck. Jamie spoke thoughtfully.

Jamie: I remember when I used to hate having baths.

Ste: Did you?

Jamie: Yeah. When I was little, not long after I started having baths on my own. I used to pretend that I'd had them. Used to come in, run the bath, then just make splashing noises with my hand. So mum thought I'd had one.

Ste: You must have been a smelly little boy.

Jamie laughed.

Jamie: Probably!

Ste: Don't think that should be a problem now at least.

Jamie: Nope. After what we just did, baths are now officially amazing.

Ste: Glad to hear it. I don't think I'd have been able to talk to you if you still didn't have baths. I try not to associate with the unwashed.

Jamie: (putting on a posh accent) Very wise indeed. They are such a frightfully ghastly bunch.

They both giggled. During the lull in their nonsensical banter, Jamie took the opportunity to nibble on Ste's ear. Then he remembered they had to sort out their plans for the next day.

Jamie: So, think we should head to the shops before or after lunch tomorrow.

Ste: Mm, before. That way we can look round, then get something to eat outside. Any ideas what to get her yet?

It was Sandra's birthday the next week, and the lads were going to do some shopping for a present. As yet they didn't have a clue what to get her.

Jamie: Nope. I'm just hopin we see something tomorrow that says 'buy me.'

Ste: Fingers crossed.

Jamie: If not, there's always the time honoured fall-back that has served me so well in the past. Slippers.

Ste: We can't get her that! You said she's already got three pairs from previous birthdays that she's not got round to wearing yet.

Jamie: She likes to look at them. Takes them out from time to time, admiring the stitching.

Ste reached round and tweaked Jamie's nose. He spoke in a matronly tone.

Ste: You shouldn't mock your mother, young man.

Jamie: I know, I know, you bring out the worst in me. Seriously though, we should get her something really good. After how accepting she was of me and you, I think she deserves it.

Ste: Yeah, I'm sure we'll see something nice.

Part VIII: Jamie and Ste hit the high street

The next day, the lads had got up bright and early. Well, ten o'clock. Early enough for a weekend, as Jamie told Ste when he suggested a nine o'clock start.

On the bus to the shops, Jamie and Ste sat tucked in at the very back. They held hands discreetly. They had only been an 'item' for a short time, and relished any chance to show affection in public; even though it was only 'in public' in the sense of being outside, not - as yet - in view of any other person.

When they arrived they made a whistlestop tour of the big stories, to see if anything caught their fancy. Jamie saw a lovely scarf in Debenhams, and Ste thought a bracelet from Marks and Spencer would have looked good on Sandra.

Ste: Those gems would really go with her eyes. Oh, and that matching necklace would really compliment her skin tone.

For a moment, only a moment mind you, Jamie thought he was being serious. Then he swatted him on the bottom when he realised he wasn't.

Despite seeing some nice things, nothing really jumped out at them. They decided to go for a bite to eat.

They took a seat in the corner of Ann's Pantry, Jamie with mushroom soup and Ste with a cheese and ham toastie. They had been to the cafe several times before, and liked it very much. It was a simple affair, off the main street and rather quiet. But the boys enjoyed the homely atmosphere and found Ann herself to be friendly and warm. In addition - let's face it, most importantly - the food was delicious.

They had both just polished off their plates, and Jamie was about to ask for some toasted teacakes, when Ste made a worrying discovery. He didn't have his wallet.

Luckily, he thought he knew where he'd left it. He knew he'd had it in M&S, the last place they had been in. They had been about to buy the bracelet, and he'd taken his wallet out. Then they had decided not to. He must have dropped it then. Or so he hoped.

Unfortunately, Jamie had no money, so he had to wait in the cafe for Ste to go look for his wallet.

Jamie: Just go. I'll pretend I'm just eating my soup slowly. I'm sure that's where it'll be.

Ste then proceeded to dash down to the street. He got to Marks and Spencer, and hurried to the place he thought he might have dropped it. It wasn't there. 'Shit,' he mumbled to himself. He made enquiries of an assistant. 'Try customer services,' he was told.

Twenty minutes later he was walking out of the shop, wallet safely tucked in pocket. It had been handed in, all cash still inside. He'd had to wait in a queue for ten minutes, then more time as the girl searched for the book to record his details, but he didn't care. The relief.

He quickly hurried back to the cafe. 'Don't know how Jamie can have managed to make that soup last all this time,' he thought, and smiled.

After Ste had rescued Jamie from the cafe, they returned to their present-hunting. By three o'clock, they had found nothing. Both lads were rapidly growing weary. They approached a little independent boutique, at the end of the main shopping street.

Jamie: Right, we'll look in this shop then call in quits, ok Ste? I can't take much more of this.

Ste: Me neither. Who would have thought it would be so bloody hard to find a nice gift.

A bell tinkled as the boys entered the small shop. The man behind the till looked up from his newspaper and greeted them. Their eyes wandered the shelves, searching for something that Sandra would like. After a minute, Ste was just about to say to Jamie that he didn't think there was anything there. Before he could do so, however, he saw it. Just sitting there, on the middle shelf. 'That is perfect,' he thought.

Back in Jamie's room, the boys hid the present under the bed. The shopkeeper had, for a surcharge of fifty pence, gift-wrapped the item, so it was ready to be given to Sandra on her birthday. Jamie was glad, as he was hopeless at wrapping presents.

For a while, they lay side by side on the bed, holding hands. The radio was playing softly in the background. Then Jamie spoke.

Jamie: You know, my mum won't be home for an hour or so.

Ste looked over at his boyfriend, whose eyes were twinkling as he smiled. For a moment, Ste debated whether to tease Jamie by playing hard to get. But one more look at Jamie's achingly beautiful, dazzling smile decided him. 'Sod it,' he thought.

He then rolled over till he was right on top of Jamie, his warm body pressing down on that of the boy he loved more than anything in the world. He leaned in for a quick kiss, brushing his lips against Jamie's, before planting kisses all over Jamie's neck.

He looked up, and the lads stared adoringly into each other's eyes. Ste brought his hand up to Jamie's face, and caressed it gently.

Ste: Have I told you how much I love you, Jamie?

Jamie had such a big lump in his throat he could hardly say anything. He shook his head. Then, just as Ste was about to speak, Jamie put his finger to Ste's lips. He whispered in a husky voice.

Jamie: Why don't you just show me Ste?

And he did.

Part IX: This is but the beginning

As Ste towelled himself dry in his (and Jamie's) bedroom, he smiled fondly at the recollections. 'Just think,' he pondered, 'if we've only been together for a short time, yet we've got so many wonderful memories, just how many more can we make over the months, years and decades to come?'

He decided to phone Jamie at the hotel, because he was missing him. He called, and was put through to Jamie's room. After a few rings, it was Sandra who answered.

Sandra: Hey Ste, hows things?

Ste: Alright. It's been bucketing down all day, so I've been stuck inside.

Sandra: That's a shame, it's been sunny and quite warm all day here. Not that I'm rubbing it in or anything Ste!

Ste: Of course not.

Sandra: No word from the powers that be about whether you're needed then?

Ste: Nope, still nothing.

Sandra: That's annoying, but I'm sure you'll hear tomorrow. Well, Jamie has just nipped out for something at the shops, so he'll be back in about ten minutes. Want me to get him to ring you back.

Ste: Yeah, if you could that would be great.

Sandra: Allright, speak to you later Ste, bye.

Ste: Thanks, bye.

Ste went into the kitchen and busied himself making dinner. He fancied sausages, and he was just piercing them ready for the grill when Jamie rang.

Jamie: Hey baby.

Ste: Hey Jay.

Jamie: Had your dinner yet?

Ste: Just about to make it. Sausages and mash. What about you?

Jamie: We're going down in fifteen minutes.

Ste: What you gonna have tonight?

Jamie: I don't know. It's all very fancy stuff, you can't really get anything simple. I mean, it is nice, but to be honest I'd sooner have sausages and mash than - and I'm quoting from last night's menu - fillet of Wisconsin veal, toasted pita bread and pâté de foie gras, with the maison vinaigrette.

Ste: I knew it. I did always suspect, it - you are a simple homebody at heart.

Jamie was silent for a moment, as both boys smiled.

Jamie: Don't know about a homebody Ste, but when the choice is between being at some posh hotel, and being at home with you, I know where I'd rather be.

Ste: The hotel?

Jamie: I was going to say at home with you, but I'm rapidly changing my mind, cheeky lipshite.

Ste laughed.

Ste: No, no, please don't! I was kidding, please pick me!

After a few more laughter-filled seconds, he spoke in a softer tone.

Ste: Thank you, Jay.

Jamie: What for?

Ste: For what you said about rather being here with me. It was just a really nice thing to hear. I've been sittin here in the flat all day, missing you like nothin on earth. Just hearin you say somethin like that really cheers me up. So thank you.

Jamie: You're welcome. I meant every word, I've been missing you like crazy as well.

Ste: And if someone asked me the same question….

Jamie: Posh hotel in Paris, or staying in a bedsit in Crawley with me?

Ste: Hey! That's not the same question.

Jamie: I make the rules. What's the answer.

Ste hummed and hawed for a moment, pretending to have difficulty making the decision.

Ste: Would the bedsit have cooking facilities?

Jamie: No.

Ste: Well then…. I suppose I'd have to say…. the bedsit with you.

Jamie: Phew! I was worried there for a moment.

Ste: …. Although Paris does sound good. I've always wanted to see Versailles….

Part X: The lights go out, the day is over

An hour or so later, and Ste was sitting on the couch watching a football game on telly. He had a can of lager beside him. Tony had phoned earlier, to see how Ste was getting on. Then he himself had some news to impart to Ste. Apparently, this old aunt of his, who he hadn't seen for years, had left him quite a bit of money. He didn't know the actual amount yet, as the will hadn't been formally read, but the solicitor had suggested it might be quite a bit.

After the match ended, Ste looked at his watch.

Ste: Time to go to bed.

He went downstairs, checked everything was locked and switched off for the night. Back in the flat, he turned off the lights in the other rooms, before going into his own.

He looked at the double bed. It looked so big for one person. He decided to sleep on Jamie's side again, like last night. Somehow, this gave him an extra comfort as he lay there alone, as if it brought him nearer to his beloved friend.

He switched off the lights and closed his eyes. He wasn't really that tired, on account of a day spent indoors napping and doing little. After a short while, his breathing grew more and more regular. His head lolled slightly to one side. He was asleep.

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. Any comments or feedback would be welcome (.uk)