I took pity on us after such a yawn worthy episode. Hollyoaks are rubbish at aftermath. I need to see how Ste's coping and what he's thinking!
But here is what Ste's coping and thinking in my universe! Enjoy!
Ste had run from the hotel room. He'd barely left instructions with either of the boys, just a shouted 'Stay here' as he ran. He had one thing on his mind. Seeing Brendan.
It was getting into the evening now. The sky was dim, and he'd barely got onto the street before he was almost paralysed by fear. What if they were still following? Would they take him and use him against Brendan? What were they capable of? Would they kill him? Would they go for the boys if he wasn't with them? But as they had shown earlier – they didn't need to wait for Ste to be out of the way to do that.
He didn't even really know where he was going. He didn't know where the police station was, or even if that was where Brendan would be. He couldn't handle what had just happened. If the bastard thugs hadn't been bad enough, Paddy had just taken the record for most disturbing actions of the year. And Ste had to see Brendan.
He remembered the piece of paper the police officer had given him the night before. He'd shoved it into his wallet sometime last night, and forgotten about it. He dug it out. It was more than a phone number; it had the address of the station that woman was from, and her name. Kennedy.
He went back into the hotel, and asked them to order him a taxi. He asked the reception staff not to let anyone up to see the boys unless they had ID that proved they were Eileen Brady or a police officer, then waited for the taxi to arrive. It was uneventful, but his mind was in a huge mess.
He entered the station to see an aged looking waiting room, with paint peeling from the rooms, and a middle aged policeman sat behind a glass window ahead of him. He ran to the window.
"Is Brendan Brady here?"
The officer looked at him in the resigned way that all police officers use to look at people they think are crazy, but didn't answer.
"I need to see Brendan Brady," Ste almost cried, "is he here?"
"This is a police station, sir," said the police officer coldly and quiet patronisingly.
"Yeah, I know that, can I see him?"
"Mr Brady has been arrested for murder," said the policeman, unnecessarily.
"Yes, I know, but I need to see him!"
Other officers were beginning to look. A fair-haired man in plain clothes walked into the waiting area and regarded Ste with curiosity. Ste assumed he was ready to restrain Ste if he started to be a nuisance.
"Sir, Mr Brady is being questioned. I can pass on a message but…"
"I have to see him!" Ste cried, tears beginning in his eyes, "Please!"
"What's your name, sir?" Asked the blond man. Ste turned to him.
"Ste? Steven Hay?"
Ste's heart fluttered a bit that this guy knew that. After a day like today, he barely trusted anyone or anything any more. But he nodded.
The blond man observed him a little longer, face unreadable. "Can I see him?" Ste asked. He felt like this was the sort of man you asked things of. He couldn't demand from that face.
The man seemed to consider him a little longer. Then he said "Follow me."
Ste barely hesitated. He had no idea where this guy was leading him, but he didn't really care if it got him closer to seeing Brendan.
He was led to an interview room and asked to sit. Then he realised that he'd brought forward that thing he'd been dreading – he was going to be asked about that day.
The blond man sat opposite him. He steepled his fingers, and looked at him steadily.
"My name is Robert McGrath," he stated, voice still gentle, polite, "and I am investigating the murder of Mr Brady senior. Am I correct that you are Steven Hay, and that your boyfriend is Brendan Brady?"
"Yes," Ste replied. He was going to keep this to the minimum. The fewest words possible. That was not something Ste excelled at.
McGrath seemed to search his face. It made Ste uncomfortable enough to need to break the silence, along with his only resolve so far.
"Can I see Brendan?"
"We'll see what we can do, but I would like to talk to you first, if that's OK?"
It wasn't really a request, and they both knew it, but Ste answered anyway, "If you want."
"Thank you Mr Hay," said McGrath. "Could you tell me about Mr Brady senior?"
"What about him?" asked Ste, very unkeen on the idea.
"Could you describe your relationship with him?"
"Relationship?" Ste hissed.
McGrath looked like he'd understood enough from that word alone.
"He raped you?" he asked.
Ste hesitated. Apart from the sense of shame he felt at admitting that to a stranger, the condoms weighed on his mind, and this might be his only opportunity to explain them away. However admitting to that part of it would place them at Brady's place at the time of the murder. He had to be selective.
"He tried," he said, "more than once."
"And how did you feel about him?"
"What do you think?" snapped Ste, thinking it a stupid question to ask.
"I would imagine that you hated him."
Ste didn't answer. Of course he hated the old bastard.
"But what I don't understand," reasoned McGrath, "is why you would then choose to have a relationship with Mr Brady's son."
"Brendan's nothing like his father," Ste protested.
"He looks quite like him," McGrath prompted.
"Well, a bit, but that ain't Brendan's fault, and they're nothing like each other as people."
"How are they different?" asked McGrath.
"Well, obviously Brendan isn't a rapist for a start."
McGrath looked at him again, considering him. "Have you ever known Brendan to be violent?"
Ste was ready to deny it, but something stopped him. Maybe he realised in time that it would take the officer seconds to prove that Brendan was violent, maybe Ste just wanted to limit the number of lies he told, but maybe it was that steady look McGrath gave him, the one that told him the police officer could read the contents of his soul if he wanted to.
"Yes," he said simply.
"Yes," Ste repeated.
"And yet you say he is not the same as his father?"
This was so unfair, "He's never hurt anyone like Brady did! He used to lose his temper, but it was because he couldn't accept who he was. It was because his father had made him think he was sick and disgusting, and that he had to control everyone, but he's not like that any more! He hasn't been for ages!"
"Do you know how many beaten wives we get in here, Mr Hay, swearing that their husbands have changed?"
"But Brendan ain't like that!"
"Isn't he, Mr Hay?"
"No! He's good, and he's strong, and when he loves you, he'll do anything to look after you!"
"Anything?" prompted McGrath.
And Ste could have hit himself. He'd basically told the man Brendan was guilty. He stumbled in his lies, his attempts to cover it up. No one would have believed them. "No, not that! No! I mean… I just mean… he loves me and I love him, that's all. Like, he's been going to anger management classes and stuff because I asked him to. And… and … when his sister didn't believe me, he told her the truth, but when we thought Paddy didn't want us to be together, we broke up. We only got back together because Paddy…"
An image of Paddy in the hotel room jumped unbidden to his mind. He tried to shove it aside. He needed to convince McGrath that Brendan was a good man, it was more important than whatever was going through Paddy's head.
"He's a good person. He is! He'd never hurt anyone."
'Who didn't deserve it,' he added in his head, but even then he was scared that McGrath could hear it.
There was silence in the room. Ste was on a knife edge awaiting McGrath's reaction.
When it came it was so inadequate. "Thank you Mr Hay. You've been very helpful."
Ste tried not to let his misery show on his face. "Can I see Brendan now?"
McGrath stood. "I'll see what I can do."
Then he left the room. Ste didn't know whether to follow or not, but the question was answered soon enough.
The door opened, and Brendan walked through. Ste was surprised, particularly when no officer followed his lover. Ste couldn't do anything except what his body wanted. He ran to his boyfriend and clung to him.
Brendan looked surprised to see him, too.
"Jesus, I'm hallucinating already!"
Ste laughed, then slapped him on the face. It was a bit harder than he intended.
"What was that for?!" exclaimed Brendan.
"To show you you're not hallucinating. And because you bloody deserved it."
Then he put his head to Brendan's chest, with no intention of ever coming out again if he could avoid it.
"Are the boys alright?" Brendan asked, quietly.
Ste didn't answer. Would it be very unfair to throw what happened in Brendan's face when he couldn't do anything about it?
"I don't think Padraig said anything," Brendan muttered, "they found some DNA."
Ste shook his head gently against Brendan's chest, "No, he said…" before he'd crossed the bloody line. Should he tell Brendan that right now?
"You're shaking," said Brendan.
"I'm scared," said Ste. Obviously he was scared. Brendan already thought he was hallucinating. He'd been there less than twelve hours.
"Hey," said Brendan, putting hands on Ste's shoulders, pushing him far enough away to look at him. "If this happens… if I go down, you need to be prepared, and you need to be strong."
"Steven, I'll need you to look out for the boys for me."
Ste snorted. If he had his way he'd never set eyes on Paddy again. "They don't need me, they've got Eileen."
"I know, I know, but they need a father figure too,"
"I can't be Paddy's father figure, Brendan."
"Look, he doesn't hate you, he's just angry with me because of what happened."
"No, he's not," said Ste.
Brendan took Ste's hands, "Look, Steven, please, I need… what happened to your hands?"
Ste pulled his hands away fast and pulled the sleeves of his jumper of the grazes on his wrists from the ties. But Brendan wouldn't let him hide them. "What happened?" he demanded.
Ste swallowed, "They found us," he said, then decided if he was in for a penny, he was in for a pound, "they beat up Declan today, then when I picked the boys up from school, they followed us back to the apartment."
"Oh God," gasped Brendan, and pulled Ste back into his chest. Now it was him in danger of never letting go.
"And you know it's your fault!" Ste couldn't help it. It was Brendan's fault.
"Steven…" Brendan sounded so broken.
"It is your fault, it's you and what you do, and you've brought it down on us!"
"I'm sorry, Steven, I'm so sorry!"
"It's not good enough!"
"I know, I know," Brendan said, and Ste realised he was crying. Brendan would be broken by the idea of his loved ones hurt because of him. "Look, if I go down…"
"No!" interrupted Ste.
"If I go down, they will leave you alone! They'll know I haven't done anything to hurt them."
"Steven! I love you, I would do anything to stay with you, but the idea of … Steven, I cannot live without know you are safe!" Brendan was begging, pleading, but Ste didn't want to listen. "Promise me you will look after the boys. Please Steven,"
"I…" Ste knew he was going to cave, "alright, I will, but…"
"And I will find a way to keep you safe, I swear."
They were both in tears. They hadn't allowed themselves to be more than millimetres apart through the whole meeting, even when Ste was shouting. They had touched for almost every moment, and clung as though their lives depended on being that close to each other, and, as Robert McGrath thought as he watched them through the one way mirror on one wall of the interview room, anyone could tell they were as in love as it was possible to be.