The pounding on the door woke Ed from sleep. Muttering to himself, he got out of bed, pulling on a T-shirt. He stumbled to the door and leaned against it.
"Who is it?"
"Beckett. Let me in, Ed."
Cursing softly, Ed opened the door. Beckett stumbled in, falling against Ed, who caught him and dragged him in.
"Jesus, do you know what time it is?" he exclaimed.
"She doesn't love me any more! It's all fucked up, Ed. Ros doesn't love me. She loved Terry an' now he's dead. And she thinks it's my fault. She thinks I should have saved him. Oh, Ed, what am I going to do?" Beckett's voice trailed off.
Ed closed his eyes. This was something he didn't need. He let go of Beckett. Who promptly collapsed to the floor.
Ed reached down to pick Beckett up. And nearly passed out as the other man breathed into his face.
"Christ! How much have you had to drink?"
Beckett didn't answer. He had curled up into a ball and was rocking from side to side on the floor.
Ed sat down on the floor beside him.
"Beckett, what are you doing here?"
"She hates me. I love her so much and she hates me."
Ed stifled a sigh.
"Ros doesn't hate you, Beckett. She just has some things to work out, that's all. Give her time. She'll come round. She does love you. She's just been through a lot."
"An' I haven't? Fuckin' hell, Ed, she faked her death! I know she had to, but she could have let me know she was alive. She didn't care if I thought she was dead. All she cared about was Terry. An' now Terry's dead an' she blames me. An' I feel terrible. I wish I was dead!"
Ed patted his shoulder.
"It's just the booze talking, Beckett. Tonight you're drunk. Tomorrow you're going to wish you were dead, believe me."
He patted Beckett's shoulder again, helplessly, as the other man began to sob.
"Oh, come on, I don't need this. It's the middle of the night, for Christ's sake! Beckett, look, you're going to feel dreadful in the morning, you know."
The other man's sobs just got louder.
Ed stared at the man on the floor. He couldn't leave him here. He knew from personal experience what it felt like to wake up on a floor with a hangover. Sighing, he stood up and pulled his colleague up. He guided Beckett towards his bed and let the other man fall on to its surface. He removed Beckett's shoes and, with greater difficulty, his jacket. He began to undo Beckett's shirt.
Suddenly, unexpectedly, Beckett began to giggle and tried to remove Ed's T-shirt.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"'S'not fair. If you're gonna take my clothes off I'm gonna take off yours."
Ed stifled another sigh.
"Look, I'm just trying to make you comfortable here. You need to sleep this off. Now, stop being such a prat."
He finished unfastening Beckett's shirt and, after a moment's hesitation, began to undo the other man's trousers. He stiffened as Beckett's hands began to wander over his back. Oh, God, how the hell did he manage to get into situations like this?
Not that he'd ever been in a situation quite like this before!
"Beckett, I'm warning you. I could just as easily toss you out and let you fend for yourself..."
Ed broke off as he realised that the older man had begun to cry again. He rubbed his eyes with a weary hand. Then, in spite of himself, he gathered up Beckett in his arms and began to rock him gently,
"Shhh, it's all right. You'll see, it'll turn out okay in the end. Ros'll get over it. You'll get back together again."
Beckett hiccuped forlornly against his shoulder.
"What dreamland are you living in, Ed? We're all fucked up. You, me, Ros. Nothing ever goes right for us."
Ed buried his face into Beckett's hair. There was nothing he could say to refute what was so obviously true.
Absently he stroked the other man's head as the sobs intensified. Beckett had grabbed him round the waist and was holding on for dear life, as if he was frightened that Ed would suddenly disappear. And who could blame him?. In an unstable world Beckett had lost everything that had kept him centred. Despite his reassurances, Ed wasn't completely convinced that the relationship between his two friends could survive this. There was too much pain on both sides.
After a while, the sobbing subsided. Ed manoeuvred them both so that he was lying against the headboard, with Beckett's head resting under his chin, Ed's arm wrapped around his shoulder. The other man's eyes had closed. Ed was sure that he'd fallen asleep. With a strange tenderness he lifted his free hand and began to brush away the hair that had fallen over Beckett's face.
Suddenly, the other man's eyes snapped open. Ed's hand halted its movement on Beckett's cheek. Frozen, he gazed into the other man's eyes, captured by the look of sheer desolation he found there.
Not examining his actions too carefully, his lowered his mouth to Beckett's, moaning as the other man responded, tongues duelling frantically. Hands reached under his T-shirt, caressing, stroking. Both men turned their bodies so they were lying face to face. Ed's hands moved over Beckett's bare chest, stopping only to remove his own T-shirt. Hardness met sudden hardness as the two men pressed closer together. Then Beckett's hand moved downward cupping, squeezing Ed's erection, making him gasp and moan. Ed reciprocated, stroking, grasping, moving faster and faster, feeling a surge of triumph when the other man moaned loudly and came in a hot gushing shower over Ed's hand. A few moments later Ed came too, his mouth sucking at Beckett's neck to muffle his own cries.
Later, he watched as Beckett slept. Sleep has deserted Ed. One hand touched the mark he had made on Beckett's neck. It stood out obscenely against the pale flesh.
He had never felt more awake. Or more alone.
How long had he wanted this?
Because he had wanted this. Here in the darkness, Beckett wrapped around him, he could no longer deny the truth. He had wanted Beckett. Still wanted him. His body had responded to Beckett in a way that had shocked Ed to the core of his being, striking him like a bolt of lightning. Lost in the memory of ecstasy, Ed's arms tightened around his lover's body.
It was like being drenched with ice water. Deep in a drunken sleep, Beckett moaned the name of the woman he loved.
Slowly, carefully, Ed disengaged himself from Beckett's embrace. He got off the bed slowly, grimacing at the way his boxer shorts stuck to his skin. With ruthless economy he stripped them off, wiped himself with his discarded T-shirt and proceeded to get dressed. Then he collapsed into a chair, burying his head in his hands.
Beckett had been drunk, practically legless. But he, Ed, had no excuse for what had happened. He groaned softly. This could ruin three lives.
Always assuming Beckett remembered anything about last night.
He didn't know what to wish for, that Beckett would remember or that he would forget.
Either way, things would never be the same again.