Michael Colefield sat at the bar of the busy London pub. He moodily rubbed his finger through the sticky residue of someone's spilled drink.
'Happy Birthday, Mike.' he mumbled drunkenly.
He was vaguely aware that he'd had far too much to drink, but really couldn't bring himself to care, much less stop. It had been an awful few months. His life was really shitty at the moment. Why should he care about anything?
'Give me another drink, Danny.' he demanded of the barman.
'Do you think that's wise, Mr Colefield?'
Michael stared blearily at the large man in front of him. Danny had known him since he'd been in uniform. Sometimes Michael thought that the barman just got taller and broader as the years went by. Nobody messed with Danny: the man kept the peace in a pub frequented by both coppers and the scum they hunted.
If Danny thought a patron had had enough to drink then he wouldn't serve him any more booze. That fact was written in stone.
'Did you know that it's my Birthday, Danny?' Michael asked mournfully.
'You've told me twice already, Mr Colefield. As if I could forget. I remember last year. You and Mr Beresford really made the place rock.'
It had been Danny who had followed them out to the alleyway behind the pub.
And Danny who had bundled the two of them into a taxi before they disgraced themselves too much. A good man, Danny. He kept any number of secrets.
'I was sorry to hear about Mr Beresford.'
'Yeah, well, he brought it all on himself.'
He'd been trying to forget about Jack. That's why he'd been drinking so much.
As if he could forget the little bloodsucking bastard. Today of all days, Jack seemed to be haunting him. He laughed, bitterly, to himself as memories rose up to swamp him, memories of last year, and the year before, and all the years before that...
...His fifteenth birthday was spent as a prisoner in his own bedroom. He'd been mortified when he'd contracted German measles, the rash appearing a couple of days before his Birthday. And horrified to be told that he wouldn't be able to go out. So there he was, slightly feverish, stuck in bed with his tapes and books and car magazines, going slowly round the bend when he'd heard Jack's voice in the hallway downstairs. He cursed his mother when he heard her tell Jack that there was no way the other boy could visit Michael. And was disappointed when Jack didn't protested.
Ten minutes later, Mum came up with his lunch and the new car magazine that Jack had brought round for him. A minute after that, Michael was surprised to hear a knock at his window and to see Jack's face grinning in at him.
He rushed over to the window and pulled a shivering Jack into the room.
'Thank God for that!' Jack gasped quietly, 'Your Mum said she was getting your lunch ready and I was waiting 'til she'd been up to see you. Didn't expect her to take so long. My fingers nearly dislocated, hanging on to that drainpipe.'
'You're a nutter, you know that.' Michael exclaimed softly, knowing that his Mum would go made if she knew that Jack was here.
Jack just grinned.
'Had to wish you Happy Birthday, didn't I? And give you your pressie.'
'Thought you'd already given it to Mum.' Michael indicated the car magazine lying on his bed.
'Nah, that was just something I picked up. Couldn't show your Mum these.'
Michael watched as Jack pulled out some magazines from under his sweater. Pictures of naked women decorated the covers.
'Got 'em from my uncle,' Jack smiled, 'Thought they'd cheer you up. Nice outfit, by the way.'
Michael flushed. His Mum had made him wear a pair of his dad's pyjamas in case the doctor had to come round again, unlikely though that was. He knew he looked ridiculous.
'Come on then Mike,' Jack said, 'show me your rash.'
He jumped on the bed, pulling Michael down beside him.
'Jack, you're a prat. You're bound to get this now.' Michael stated.
'Bound to get it anyway. Stands to reason, doesn't it? Spend all my time at school with you and most of my time out of school. Tried to persuade the folks that I'd be better off here with you, seeing as I'd almost certainly come down with it. They wouldn't listen. So I came here anyway. Couldn't let my mate be alone on his Birthday. Well, are you going to show me your rash, then?'
Feeling like an idiot, Michael unfastened his pyjama top. Jack reached out a hand and touched his chest.
'Does it hurt?' he asked, brushing over the rash.
'No, itches a bit, though. It's better than it was yesterday.'
Jack didn't move his hand.
'You feel hot,' he said.
Michael began to shiver.
Suddenly he found himself bundled into bed and covered in blankets.
'You're right, Mike, I'm a prat. Isn't it about time your Mum thought about putting a heater in here? Now keep warm under those blankets and I'll turn the pages of the magazines for you. Would want you to catch cold on top of this, would we?'
But there was a certain look in Jack's eyes. A look that had been appearing with growing regularity for a while now. Michael was almost sure that Jack was well aware that his shiver hadn't just been caused by the cold.
The two of them sat in a companionable silence, occasionally broken by the turning of a page and Jack's whispered comments about the women on display.
Michael began to shift uncomfortably. The naked women in the magazines combined with Jack's nearness and the breathy comments whispered in his ear were all conspiring to arouse him. Suddenly, there was the sound of footsteps on the stairs. A moment later Michael's Mum opened the door. She walked in and picked up the tray.
'I'm just going round Granny's, love. Will you be okay on your own?'
'Mum, I'm not a baby!' Michael retorted, as his mother left the room.
He listened as her footsteps receded and the front door opened and slammedshut. Then Jack appeared from under the bed girlie magazines in hand, spluttering and sneezing.
'Christ, Mike, doesn't your Mum ever clean under your bed? You know it really is cold in here.'
He pulled off his shoes and jacket.
'Here, let me get under the blankets with you before I freeze.'
Jack scooted under the blankets, getting nearer to Michael. He opened a magazine to the centrefold.
'Look at the size of those, Mike. Bet she can't walk without falling over!'
Having Jack under the bedclothes with him was ten times worse than having him lying on top of them. When his mate leaned over to whisper another comment in his ear, though there was no need for him to whisper now, Michael couldn't stop the groan that escaped him.
Immediately Jack grabbed hold of him, turning him.
'You okay, Mike? Where does it hurt?'
With Jack's arms holding him and a certain enlarged part of his anatomy suddenly pressed up against his friend, Michael found himself groaning again. He tried to move away, but his traitorous body obviously had other ideas.
He watched as the worried frown on Jack's face suddenly cleared, a smirk taking its place. Jack pushed Michael flat on his back. Michael closed his eyes, waiting for the scorn. Then opened them in shock as he felt Jack's hands at the tie-strings of his pyjama bottoms. He made an incoherent sound of protest that was immediately quashed by Jack's mouth bearing down on his. When they both surfaced for air Michael was completely incapable of saying a word.
Not so Jack. He began licking Michael's neck and then bit gently on his ear.
'Hey, it's okay, Mike. You're hurting. Let your best mate Jack kiss it better for you.'
He began to move downwards and Michael arched up off the bed as Jack's mouth engulfed his throbbing cock. He let out a strangled scream. Then lay back writhing in escalating pleasure until he exploded in ecstasy, yelling Jack's name as he came...
...Michael suddenly became aware of his surroundings. Christ! That had been a vivid flashback. Looking back, he was very much aware of the fact that that hadn't been Jack's first time. But it had been his. Years later, in this very pub, newly out of uniform, he'd been pulled into a bragging contest about 'first times' with a load of other drunken coppers. He'd made something up.
He'd always wondered what would have happened if he'd said 'Well, I was fifteen, covered in a rash, looking at girlie mags, when my best mate Jack gave me the most incredibly mind-shattering blow job.' It might have wiped the smirk off Jack's face as he giggled drunkenly into his pint, but it probably wouldn't have been worth it.
He became aware that Danny was regarding him with concern.
'Mr Colefield, don't you think you should go home? You been here since lunch time. Let me call you a taxi.'
Michael nodded his head.
'Okay, Danny. But let me go outside for a breath of fresh air first. I'll be back in a few minutes.'
He staggered out of the pub and into the alleyway that he and Jack had almost made infamous last year. Part of him was aware that he was courting danger. Drunk and unarmed in one of the roughest areas of his old beat, where any number of villains might have it in for him. And in the dark. Something was screaming in his head that being out in the dark in his state was incredibly stupid.
He sagged against a wall, dizzily aware that he should have stopped drinking at least three drinks ago. Everything was whirling around, the ground seemed to rise up to meet him. Just as he prepared himself for the pain of impact he felt arms grab hold of him.
Danny, he thought, even as his body and senses knew he was wrong. Not Danny at all.
'It's okay, Mike,' he heard a familiar...beloved...hated voice say soothingly, 'I've got you.'
A hundred grinning woodpeckers with Kirsty's face were pecking at his head. He awoke with a jerk, sitting up rapidly. And falling back down just as rapidly as the room swam around him.
'Taking it easy, Mike. Wouldn't want you throwing up all over your bed. Not that it hasn't happened before, of course.'
Michael retched, and found himself being pulled to the bathroom. Arms held him as he emptied the contents of his stomach into the lavatory pan. Familiar arms. Arms that had done this before, arms that had soothed him while he was in pain and had held him as his body was inflamed with passion.
One arm let go of him. A hand held a piece of toilet paper and gently cleaned his mouth.
'Jack.' Was that really his voice? It sounded so wretched.
'What are you doing here?'
'It's your Birthday, Mike. I've always been with you on your Birthday.'
Very true. Jack was always with him on his Birthday. Even last year, when Kirsty had wanted Jack to go to some social event at the school... Of course, Jack had been too cowardly to tell his fiancee that he was going out celebrating with Mike rather than going to a boring school event with her, Michael remembered. He'd told Kirsty that he'd pulled an unexpected obbo. Just like Jack, Michael thought, lie to your fiancee, go out boozing with your partner, then fuck said partner until his brain dissolved into a pile of goo.
'Bastard,' he muttered weakly.
'What? For wanting to spend your Birthday with you? I'm hurt, mate.'
'...kiss it better...'
'Yeah, that was the general idea, Mike. Glad we agree on it.'
'No, you're dead, Jack. Dead, dead, dead...'
'Just one night. Pretend for just one night that everything is how it used to be. That we're still best mates. That you don't want to kill me.'
'Come with me, Mike. Join us. What they've told you is a pile of crap. We don't want to destroy the human race. It's not our side that's into genocide. Come on, say you'll do it.'
Keep him talking. Because if he's talking he's not doing anything else with that oh-so-talented mouth of his. You don't want him to do anything else with that mouth tonight, do you, Mike?
'Because we were meant to be together. 'All for one...' and all that rubbish. Because we're mates. Because I don't want to see you die. Because I love you.'
'Is that what they told you? Well, they're a bunch of lying, murdering bastards, so what do they know? Please, Mike.'
'Okay, you'll change your mind one day, though. But I'll leave it for now.'
Michael felt himself being lifted up and half dragged to the bed.
'But you won't let me go without giving you your Birthday present, will you Mike? Not seeing as how I've gone to all this trouble to bring it to you.'
'What present?' But he knew the answer.
'The present you always get on your Birthday, Lover. Me, of course.'
Jack only ever called him 'lover' on his Birthday. Only ever fucked him on his Birthday.
'No mouth, I promise. Wouldn't want to get carried away, would I?'
Hands stripped him with lazy certainty of their welcome. And then everything dissolved into a whirl of pain and pleasure that was all too familiar...and nowhere near familiar enough.
And when it was over he felt the same feelings of incredible languor and overwhelming loss as he always did when Jack had finished with him. Once a year had been both too much and far, far too little.
He opened his eyes and found himself looking into Jack's soul. A for a few seconds he understood everything. That if he'd ever said that he wanted this more than once a year Jack would have been happy to oblige. That if he'd wanted this to be exclusive Jack would have ditched Kirsty in an instant. He knew that he hadn't been told the truth about those infected with code V. Not by Pearse Harman or by Jack. He suddenly realised that his role in the whole thing wasn't the coincidence he'd thought it to be. He seemed to be pulling this straight from Jack's brain.
He knew that he hadn't got Jack revived for Kirsty but for himself. And he knew that Jack loved him. In his own twisted selfish way, Jack really did love him. Just as Michael loved Jack.
Then the room began to spin around and Michael felt the knowledge slip from him. He wouldn't remember this tomorrow. He felt rather than saw Jack rise and begin to dress.
'...no...stay...' he whispered despairingly. But only in his own head.
Then everything went black.
Jack looked at the sprawled form of his ex-partner. It had been a mistake to come here, he knew. Danger aside, it was just too damned painful.
But Jack would be with him again soon. They'd promised him that.
With a tenderness that would have surprised all who had known him, Kirsty included, he manoeuvred Mike into the center of the bed and covered him with the duvet.
He brushed his lips over Mike's forehead, shrugged on his jacket and walked to the door.
'Happy Birthday, Mike,' he whispered as he headed back into the darkness.