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The Rescue

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“You do realise that this is all very irregular,” DI Sam Tyler said. “It’s a good job my Guv’s out today.”
The man standing next to him as they waited for the lift appeared to consider this statement. “I have a feeling my editor wouldn’t be too happy if he knew what we’d done either.”
“Look, Cal, if you want to leave now, I won’t stop you. All I ask is that you don’t publish anything yet.”
“No, we’re both in this together. And it’s as much my fault as yours.” Cal McAffrey failed to add that there was something about this police inspector that attracted him in a way that he wasn’t sure about.
The lift arrived and the two men stepped inside, followed by a teenage lad.
“You okay, Cecil?” Sam asked.
The lad nodded, his slight frame emphasised by the way he wrapped his arms round his chest. It was clear from his demeanour that he didn’t really want to be in a police station, but at the same time the quiet way he was following the two men indicated that he trusted them.
Cecil watched as Sam and Cal continued their conversation in the lift. He saw the way they smiled at each other and how they unconsciously stood slightly closer than might be expected and then as the lift juddered to a halt they moved apart as if they’d both suddenly realised what they were doing.
The three left the lift and walked into CID.
As they walked into the main office Sam turned to Cecil, “When did you last have something to eat?”
The lad shrugged, “Dunno, sometime this morning.”
“Are you hungry?”
Another shrug, the way he looked down at his feet indicating clearly that he was hungry, but wasn’t going to admit it to a copper.
“Chris,” Sam called, “take Cecil up to the canteen and get him something that passes for a decent meal.” He took some coins out of his pocket and gave them to him, “And bring me back the change.”
Once Cecil had left Sam turned to Cal, “You and I have things we need to discuss. Like who told you about the filming and how come you knew the back route out of the warehouse.”
Sam considered using the DCI’s office, but then appeared to change his mind. “If anyone needs me, we’ll be in Lost and Found.” The two remaining detectives nodded; neither looking up from what they were doing.
Sam led the way and once they were inside the room he indicated to Cal to sit down. He himself remained standing. Suddenly he grabbed Cal by the shoulders and pulled him forwards so that their faces were about six inches apart. “Were you involved?” he demanded.
Cal looked shocked, “Of course not. I told you I had received a tip off. And as to why I knew about the back route: I had been afraid that the situation could turn nasty (as it did) and wanted to be sure I had a reasonable chance of getting out without being hurt.”
Sam’s grip on Cal’s shoulders relaxed although he did not take his hands away. “I’m sorry. I had to ask.” As if trying to make up for his actions he started to rub Cal’s back with one hand.
“Are you okay?” Cal asked softly.
“Yeah, sort of. It’s just that those sort of situations make me feel, well, vulnerable.” Sam wondered why he was admitting things to a comparative stranger that he would never say to Gene Hunt, despite the closeness they often shared.
“I know what you mean,” Cal put his own arms around Sam. For a minute the two men hugged, then “Sh*t,” said Sam, “I think life has just got even more bl**dy complicated.”
Sam and Cal returned to CID to be greeted by Chris who gave Sam his change.
“There’s not much here,” Sam was surprised.
“Well, Cecil had double helpings of pudding after ‘is sausage and mash. It’s okay, Boss. Gwen only charged half price for the second helping, said it was nice to see someone so enthusiastic about her food.”
Sam nodded.
“What are you going to do with Cecil tonight?” Cal asked him.
“I had thought of leaving him in a cell, but that would mean charging him, which I don’t really want to do. I’ll have to take him back with me to my flat. It’s not ideal in the circumstances, but I can’t see any alternative and I definitely don’t want him back on the streets.”
“Do you want me to give you a lift?”
“Thank you. I’d appreciate that.” Sam didn’t add that the more time he was able to spend with Cal in whatever circumstance, the happier he would be.
They called Cecil to join them and went out into the dark. When they reached Sam’s flat Sam invited Cal to come in with them and then tried to disguise his pleasure when he agreed.
Sam went into the kitchen, “I’ll get us a drink. Cecil, why don’t you get yourself into bed.” He sensed the boy’s hesitation. “It’s okay. I just meant for you to sleep there, nothing else. You can stay fully clothed if you like, but I’d prefer it if you’d take your boots off.”
Cal joined Sam in the kitchen, to give Cecil some privacy. Sam was filling the kettle, so Cal put his hands on his waist and Sam lent back into his arms. “I could do with something stronger if you have anything,” he murmured into Sam’s ear.
“There’s a bottle of whisky under the sink.”
Sam made the coffee and took it through, followed by Cal carrying the bottle and two glasses. Cecil had obviously decided that he could trust them because his jeans and shirt were in a pile by the bed. Sam offered him a mug of coffee and as the lad took it Sam noticed the marks on his arm.
“Someone mistake your arm for an ashtray, did they?” The lad whimpered. “Show me your other arm.” Cecil reluctantly held his arm out. “Anywhere else?”
“My back,” the whisper was scarcely audible.
Sam gently lifted Cecil’s vest and looked at his back. The red wheals from where he’d been hit by a leather belt showed sharply against his pale skin. Sam swallowed. Disguising his anger at those who’d beaten the boy he said quietly, “Get some sleep. I promise you I’m not going to let anyone do that to you again.”
The lad lay down and very soon he had was asleep. Sam and Cal looked at each other and started to chew over the events of the day.
#####
That morning:
An informant had phoned Sam to tell him that rumour had it there was going to be some interesting filming taking place at Askey’s old warehouse. Ordinarily Sam would have taken backup, but an outbreak of the flu, combined with an upsurge in break-ins that had Gene Hunt wishing the criminal classes would take a winter holiday somewhere very hot, meant that A division was struggling. Accordingly, and because this particular informant was not known for his reliability, Sam had decided to take a look by himself before returning if necessary with additional men.
What he had expected to see was a few scantily clad women together with some men in an equivalent state of undress. In other words a further version of “Very Dirty Harry with Added Sally” which they had found the month before. What he didn’t expect to see was a teenage lad being forced onto his knees, clearly expected to give a blow job to a man in a mask.
The lad was wearing a blindfold and was being shouted at by the director. “And this time, if you know what’s good for you, look like you’re enjoying it. You’re a slut, boy, so be a pretty little slut.”
As Sam watched the lad use his hands to find the masked man’s penis, he could feel himself wanting to retch. He turned away and in doing so knocked a bucket over. Instantly the men on the set froze.
“’oo’s there?”
“Someone’s spying on us.”
“If you’ve told anyone about this, kid, I’ll bloody kill you.”
The last speaker picked up what looked like at spade handle and looked menacingly at the lad from across the floor. Not wishing to see anything happen to the boy, Sam decided to trust to an element of surprise and rushed over, grabbing the boy, (who had taken the blindfold off to see what the shouting was all about), and pushed him towards the door. As they went through the doorway they saw out of the main door someone throw a brick through the windscreen of Sam’s car.
“Shit,” Sam started to look around for another exit. At that moment someone grabbed his arm, “Quick, come this way.” The lad started to look back, but their rescuer took his hand and pulled him along a corridor with Sam following. The corridor led them to the back of the building.
“My car’s parked just over there.” The man led the way across some wasteland and all three jumped into the car. He drove for about half a mile before parking beside the canal.
“Okay,” he said, “time for introductions. I’m Cal McAffrey and I currently work for the Manchester Herald.”
“DI Sam Tyler,” said Sam. “Oh, no you don’t.” The last was said to the lad who was starting to get out of the car. Clearly he had no wish to be involved with the police. Sam got into the back seat and sat next to the boy.
“What’s your name?” The lad muttered something unintelligible. “Look, lad, I want to help you, but you’re going to have to trust me.”
The lad looked at him and Sam willed himself to look as calm as possible. He had found the whole episode deeply upsetting, but he knew that if he showed any of his own distress then there was no chance he would be trusted. Evidently it worked, because finally the boy said, “It’s Cecil.” Sam debated about demanding Cecil’s surname, but decided that that would be more than he could reasonably expect.
Instead he turned back to Cal, “How come you were at the warehouse?”
“Apart from to rescue you?” Cal chuckled. “I had a tipoff. It sounded like there might be a story the paper could publish. I’m on a three month probationary contract, so I figured a good story might improve my chances of being kept on long term.”
#####
Sam leaned forward and refilled both their glasses. “What I don’t understand is why you’re on a probationary contract.”
“That’s easy,” replied Cal. “I threw up my job in London to follow someone back here and got myself a job locally.”
Sam nodded and glanced at his watch. “Hadn’t you better be getting back to them?”
Cal laughed wryly. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. I’m currently sleeping on the couch of one of the other hacks on the paper.” He too looked at the time. “Except that it’s so late now, that I’ll probably be spending the night in my car.”
Sam looked apologetic, “I’m afraid my bed’s already occupied.” He indicated the peacefully sleeping Cecil. “But you’re welcome to the chair. I can sleep on the floor – I shall have to get to the station early tomorrow.”
“Thank you. But you have the chair. I’ve slept on worse floors. And if you go in early I can always grab a couple of hours in the chair.” Cal smiled.
Accordingly, Sam settled himself in the chair. The combination of the stress of the day and the amount of whisky they had consumed meant he too was soon asleep. Cal noted Sam’s regular breathing and crept over to pull up the blanket that was in danger of falling off Sam onto the floor.
#####
Sam set off for the station early the following morning, turning over in his mind just how much he was going to tell Gene Hunt.
His thoughts took him back a few months. Everyone else had departed for the pub, but he and Gene had stayed behind at his insistence. The case they were working on was complicated, requiring an amount of tact that he believed the Guv incapable of. Inevitably their argument had got out of hand and Gene had pushed Sam up against the filing cabinet, intent on making his point clear.
In the middle of the DCI’s rant against the Irish, the blind, homosexuals, anyone from either the West Indies or the Indian sub-continent and the Welsh, Sam had suddenly said, “I’m gay.”
“I know,” yelled Gene.
Sam braced himself for the fist that never came.
“What?”
“I’ve known for some time.”
“Oh. How?” Realising that he wasn’t about to be hit, Sam relaxed and as the tension left his legs he nearly collapsed. Gene grabbed him under the arms and pushed him into a chair.
“As I’ve told you before, Gladys, they don’t just hand out DCI badges in lucky bags.”
“But you’ve never said anything.”
“There was no need. You’re a good copper and I want to keep you in my team. How long do you think you’d last here if something like that got out?”
“Not long,” Sam admitted with a grimace. “So what do we do now?”
“Carry on as before. Just make sure no-one else knows. Fortunately for you, everyone knows you’re a bit strange, so nobody actually takes any notice of you behaving slightly oddly.”
“Thanks, Guv.”
“And don’t start making a pass at me, even if you are attracted to my extremely manly physique.”
“Don’t worry, Guv, you’re not my type.”
“I’m not sure whether to take that as a complement or an insult. Pub?”
“Pub.”
#####
As Sam walked into CID he was greeted by Gene Hunt. “Right, Tyler, I need to know what’s going on.”
Sam followed Gene into his office. “There’s nothing much to report, Guv. At least not yet.”
“What’s this about a lad Chris mentioned?”
“He’s just a lad. He had nowhere to go so he spent the night in my flat.”
“Sh*t, Sam. He’s a rent boy. If even Chris knows this then we can be pretty sure that everyone else will know it too. You cannot afford to have a rent boy staying in your flat. Why the hell didn’t you charge him? He could have spent the night in the cells.” Gene stood up and glared down at Sam.
“I couldn’t, I just couldn’t.”
“You’re a copper. Of course you could.”
“No, not after what I saw they were making him do.”
“What are you talking about?”
To Gene’s surprise, Sam wrapped his arms round his chest as if hugging himself.
“There’s more to this, isn’t there?” Gene spoke more gently.
“When I was about eleven, my Mum had a ‘gentleman’ friend,” Sam began slowly. “One evening Mum wanted to go to the cinema with my Auntie Heather and this friend said he’d babysit for her.”
Gene grunted, he had a horrible feeling he could see where this was going.
“That evening he put his hand inside my trousers and pants and started to feel me. Then he made me feel him too. I wanted to pull away, but he grabbed my wrist and forced me.”
Sam swallowed hard. “He told me that it was our secret and I wasn’t to tell my Mum.”
Sam had started to cry and Gene put his hand on Sam’s shoulder and squeezed it. “Did you say anything to your Mum?” he asked.
“No. Fortunately she stopped seeing him soon after that.”
Not knowing what else to do, Gene grabbed the other chair, sat down and put his arms round Sam, pulling him close to his chest. He rocked him gently as twenty-five years of fear and shame poured out in Sam’s tears. Finally, Sam stopped crying and Gene found a handkerchief and wiped Sam’s eyes.
“So, you see, I can’t charge Cecil,” Sam mumbled.
“Probably wouldn’t do any good if you did,” Gene muttered. “And we’ll never get the kid in the witness stand. But he still can’t stay in your flat.”
Sam was about to protest when Gene added, “I’ll just have to break the news to the Missus that we’re having a house guest for a couple of days.”
#####
When Sam left for work, Cal did as he had said he would and moved into the chair. He picked up the blanket that Sam had discarded on the floor and pulled it round himself. He inhaled; the blanket still smelled of Sam, so he put his arms around it and imagined that he had his arms around Sam.
It seemed strange. They’d had a brief hug in the police station, which had started out as a means of comforting each other, but had lasted too long to be just reassurance. And there’d been a moment of physical contact in the kitchen, but since then nothing. Cal knew that he was attracted to Sam and wanted to get to know him better. But he wasn’t sure of Sam’s feelings for him; whether he had any or whether his behaviour had just been as a reaction to the events of the day. Cal drifted off to sleep.
When he awoke, Cal discovered he was still hugging the blanket. He looked across the room to see a pair of brown eyes looking at him.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up,” Cecil smiled.
“That’s alright. Do you want some coffee?”
“Yes, please.”
Cal got off the chair rather stiffly. Cecil, despite his injuries, seemed a lot better and Cal envied him the ability of youth to bounce back. He went into the kitchen.
“You like him, don’t you?” Cecil called from the living room.
“Who?”
“That copper. Inspector Tyler.”
“Errm.”
“He likes you too, you know.”
“What?” Cal thought he’d change the direction of the conversation. “Do you want some breakfast? I’ve found some eggs and bacon in the fridge.”
“Yes, please. I’ve learnt to tell whether a person genuinely likes someone else or whether it’s just show. And that inspector really likes you.” Cecil had got dressed and joined Cal in the kitchen.
“Hmpf, well, make yourself useful and see if you can find the knives and forks.”
Cal was in the middle of washing up and Cecil was, somewhat reluctantly, using the tea towel, when Sam and Gene came into the flat.
“Cal, Cecil, this is DCI Gene Hunt,” said Sam.
Cal watched Cecil shrink back, the vulnerability of the lad becoming apparent once again.
“It’s alright, Cecil,” Sam smiled. “You’re not in trouble. You’re going to spend a couple of days with Mr and Mrs Hunt.”
“DI Tyler, ‘ere, needs ‘is bed back. And I promise you our spare bed is much more comfortable,” added Gene.
Cecil looked unconvinced, but nevertheless followed Sam and Gene out of the flat.
The Missus was waiting for them when they arrived at Gene’s house. As Sam walked in she looked intently at him. “Morning, Mrs Hunt,” he said. Although he went there for Sunday dinner every two or three weeks and knew her first name, he always referred to her as Mrs Hunt. She made him feel like a small boy in infant school standing in front of his formidable headmistress.
The Missus, who clearly saw part of her role as DCI Hunt’s wife to include feeding up his scrawny DI, turned her attention to Cecil. “What you need, lad, is a good hot bath. I’ll go and run you one.”
Turning to Sam, she added, “I presume he has some clean clothes to put on.”
Sam sheepishly looked at his feet.
“You had better go and buy some then,” she told him.
Sam looked at Gene for confirmation.
“What are you waiting for?” the Missus grumbled. “He’ll need them once he’s finished his bath.” She looked Sam and Cecil up and down. “He’s about the same size as you, just a bit skinnier, if that were possible.”
Sam returned with the clothes he had bought and passed them over to the Missus. She looked through the purchases and said, “What is he supposed to put on his feet? Oh never mind, I’ll find a pair of Gene’s socks that have shrunk in the wash.”
Sam felt that a word of thanks for what he had bought wouldn’t have gone amiss, but thought that if he said anything he’d be sent to stand facing the corner for being impertinent.
Mrs Hunt took the clothes upstairs and knocked on the bathroom door. “Cecil, there are pants and undies outside the door when you’re ready. I’ve got some cream to put on your back before you finish getting dressed.”
Shortly afterwards Cecil came down and joined the others in the kitchen. With his hair still damp from the bath he looked even younger than ever. The Missus inspected the injuries on his back and arms and prepared to apply the cream.
She turned to Gene and Sam, “Right, be off with you. Go and find something useful to do. Cecil and I will be fine here by ourselves.”
DCI Hunt and DI Tyler looked at each other and obediently left the house.
On the way back to the station Sam asked Gene to drop him off at his flat.
“You okay?” Gene asked.
“Yeah. Didn’t get that much sleep last night – the chair’s not very comfortable. So I thought I’d grab a couple of hours’ kip.”
Gene gave Sam a strange look, but didn’t pursue the matter. “Just make sure you’re back by the beginning of the afternoon,” was all he said.
Sam opened his flat door to discover that Cal was still inside.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I’ll leave at once. I was just enjoying the quiet to put together my thoughts for the article.” Cal looked embarrassed.
“No, there’s no need to rush off,” Sam replied. “Do you want a cup of coffee?”
“Yes please, that would be nice.”
Cal made a big show of gathering his pens and paper together, whilst Sam fussed round with the mugs and milk. Neither was sure what to say. Finally Sam made the coffee and brought the mugs through. He passed one of the mugs to Cal and smiled at him, “Do you take sugar?”
Cal smiled back and shook his head. He sat back down by the table, whilst Sam sat on the bed.
“Look,”
“I’m sorry,”
They laughed. “I’m glad you were still here when I got back,” Sam said.
“I’m glad you came back before I had to leave.” Cal replied and then added, “Is Cecil okay?”
“Oh yes, Mrs Hunt will take good care of him.”
They sat in silence again, both wanting to say something and both hoping the other would say it first. In the end Cal got up, “I suppose I’d better go to work. My editor will be wondering where I’ve got to.”
“Can you stay a little longer? I could make us a sandwich.”
Sam looked so desperate that Cal took his courage into his hands and went over and gave him a hug. Sam hugged him back and Cal sat down beside him. He slipped his hands inside Sam’s shirt and pulled him closer, relishing the feel of Sam’s warm breath on his neck. He started to kiss Sam’s chest and felt gentle kisses on his shoulder in return. Gradually he became conscious of an erection pressing against his and he undid Sam’s belt and put his hand inside his trousers. He was aware that Sam had responded and it wasn’t long before the combination of the kisses and the way Sam stroked him brought him to a climax. Shortly afterwards Sam gave a muffled cry and climaxed in his turn. Afterwards they lay in each others’ arms, just enjoying the closeness. Following the tension of the past day they were happy to relax and soon both drifted off to sleep.
#####
Mrs Hunt was used to her husband bringing home waifs and strays that needed caring for. Firstly there was his DI, who she considered a long term commitment. Then there was their current cat which had made its first appearance as a small ball of fluff hidden in a coat pocket. The Missus had never been sure when Gene had intended telling her that they’d acquired a new pet, but once the kitten had started to mew it had been a bit of a giveaway. The Missus viewed Cecil in much the same way as the kitten: in need of food, warmth and a bit of TLC.
Cecil was very happy. For the first time in ages he wasn’t being shouted at or ordered around. A quiet, “Could you butter that bread please, luv,” was the most that was demanded of him. Because Mrs Hunt wasn’t asking questions he started to tell her about himself, of his hopes and dreams. She listened, nodded occasionally and made fresh mugs of coffee. By the end of the afternoon she had learnt that he’d run away from home shortly after his parents separated, when he had felt that neither of them had wanted him. That when he’d arrived in Manchester he’d met a couple of lads a few years older than him who had told him how much he could earn as a rent boy, although he’d quickly discovered that they had exaggerated. He told her that he hadn’t wanted to get involved with the filming but had been too frightened to refuse.
Mrs Hunt looked at the clock, “I shall have to start getting tea. How does steak and kidney pie sound to you? Do you want to go and watch the television while I get on with it?”
Cecil grinned, “That sounds great. Can I give you a hand? I’d really like to.”
“Okay, dear. If that’s what you want.” Mrs Hunt measured out the ingredients for the pastry and realised Cecil was watching her intently. “Do you want to have a go?”
Later, once they had eaten tea, the Missus asked Gene, “How did you enjoy your pie?”
“It was really good. The pastry was lighter than usual.”
“Cecil made it.”
Gene looked at the lad, “I’m impressed.”
“I spoke to our Brian this afternoon,” continued his wife, “and mentioned that we knew a lad who might be suitable to work in his restaurant. He says he’ll give him a trial. They’ve got a spare room he can use until he can find somewhere of his own.”
“When can ‘e start?”
“Brian said next Monday.”
“Even better. I can get Tyler to drive ‘im over on Sunday.”
With that Gene got up, took the whisky bottle and a glass from the cupboard and headed into the front room, feeling very satisfied that he’d sorted out what to do with Cecil.
#####
By the time Sam had finished writing his reports it was early evening. He debated about joining the others in The Railway Arms, but decided instead to head straight back to his flat. When he opened the door he was slightly disappointed to see that the flat was in darkness. He had given Cal a spare key and had told him that he would be welcome to come back if he had nowhere else to stay.
Since he was on his own Sam set about getting something to eat. Once it was ready he opened a bottle of wine, poured himself a glass and started to eat. He reasoned that Cal might have had to work late, so listened out for footsteps during his meal. When he’d finished he poured himself another glass of wine, switched the television on and told himself that he was being totally unreasonable.
He woke up to the chimes that announced the ten o’clock news and realised he’d dozed off whilst watching a worthy drama. He got up and stretched. He felt totally wretched: not only from having fallen asleep, but because he knew that Cal wouldn’t be coming back that evening. He cursed himself for getting his hopes up. For the first time in a long time he thought he’d found someone he could get close to, and who he thought was interested in him. For much of his life he had kept his emotions to himself, only daring to show his feelings when he felt safe. Usually by this time the other person had decided he was a cold fish and had already started to look elsewhere.
Miserably Sam got ready for bed. He had thought Cal was different. They had seemed to get on so well together, and it wasn’t just the sex. Unusually, after such a short acquaintance Sam had started to open up and reveal something of his true self. He got into bed and lay with his face in his pillow. Life was so unfair. For the second time that day he felt the tears rolling down his cheeks. And this time there was no-one to comfort him.
He didn’t hear the key in the lock or notice that the door opened, so when he heard quiet footsteps crossing the floor, he sat up in alarm.
“I’m sorry,” Cal said quietly, “I was trying not to wake you.”
“I – I wasn’t asleep.” Sam made a move as if to get up.
“You stay where you are. I’ll get the blanket and sleep in the chair. Would you mind if I put the light on for a minute?”
“No, of course not.” Sam felt even more miserable. There was no way that Cal could avoid seeing that he’d been crying. The morsel of hope that he had felt when he realised Cal had come back was instantly extinguished.
Cal switched the light on and turned to smile at Sam. “Sam, what’s wrong?”
“I thought you weren’t coming back.” Might as well spoil this completely.
“You daft bugger. I’ve only just finished work. And I turned down the offer of a drink.” Cal walked over to Sam, threw his arms around him and hugged him tightly.
“I’m sorry.”
“What for?”
“Making an idiot of myself. Embarrassing you.”
“You’re not an idiot. And I’m not embarrassed.” Cal kissed Sam gently.
Sam kissed Cal back and Cal slid his hand inside his pyjama jacket. Instantly Sam tensed up.
“Sam?”
“I don’t ... Oh hell.” Sam could feel the tears prickling on the back of his eyes again.
“Hey, just relax. You’ve had a long and stressful day. For once stop fighting the world and let someone else do something for you.”
Quickly, Cal slipped out of his shirt and trousers and climbed into the bed next to Sam. He put his arms round him and rubbed his back until Sam’s quiet breathing showed he was asleep. Then he kissed him again, got as comfortable as he could in the narrow bed and fell asleep.
#####
At half past nine on the Sunday morning Sam and Cal knocked at the Hunt’s front door. The Missus let them in.
“Would you like a cup of coffee before you set off?” she asked.
“Yes, please,” replied Sam. “This is ...”
“You’ll be coming to dinner with us next Sunday, won’t you?” Mrs Hunt interrupted. “Would your friend like to come with you?”
Sam looked across at Gene and felt himself starting to blush. Gene shrugged his shoulders. Fortunately there was a crash from the kitchen.
“Cecil, put the kettle on and then sit down before you break something,” Gene called out. “He’s like a bloody kid going on a trip to the seaside. He was up at half past six this morning.”
“Stop complaining. It’s nice to see someone so happy,” his wife retorted. “That’s settled then. We’ll see you both at twelve o’clock next Sunday.”
Whilst they were drinking their coffee Gene drew a map so they could find their way to Brian’s restaurant. As they got up to leave the Missus gave them a basket.
“Since it’s such a nice day I thought you might like a picnic on the way. There should be plenty to eat for the three of you. And I’ve put a large thermos of coffee in there. You can bring it back next Sunday; just make sure you rinse it out beforehand.”
Suddenly Cecil seemed reluctant to leave. Mrs Hunt went over and put her arms around him. “You’ll have a great time,” she said. “And you’ve got my phone number if there are any problems.” Shyly Cecil gave her a kiss on the cheek.
Once in the car Sam switched the radio on and he and Cecil began singing along with it. Cal looked across at Sam and smiled. He thought it was a long time since he’d been this happy. He’d been in relationships before, attracted by his partner’s strength of character and maybe flattered by them wanting to be with him. But inevitably their ambition had moved them on and Cal had been unable to move with them. He’d come north, hoping to rekindle a relationship and although he had desperately wanted to succeed it had soon become apparent that his former lover no longer felt as he did.
Sam was different. Oh yes, Sam was strong; Cal wasn’t fooled by his recent behaviour into thinking him a weak character. In fact Sam didn’t express his feelings easily which meant that when he did Cal knew he could be trusted. Having someone who he could truly trust was a new experience for Cal.
“We should find somewhere to stop so we can eat our picnic,” Sam interrupted his train of thought.
They parked up and Cal unpacked the food whilst Sam poured the coffee. Sam and Cal enjoyed sitting together in the sunshine whilst Cecil ate most of the picnic. As they packed up Cal told Cecil that his sausage rolls had been very good and the lad blushed with pride.
Drawing close to York Cecil grew silent. When they reached the restaurant he seemed reluctant to even get out of the car. A door by the side of the restaurant was opened and the man in the doorway welcomed them in. From inside a female voice called out “Come into the kitchen. I’ve just made a pot of tea.”
Sam led the way in and they all sat round the kitchen table. Brian’s wife offered them some sponge cake which Sam and Cal declined saying they’d just had lunch. Cecil meanwhile accepted a large slice. Sam and Cal exchanged glances; the lad’s nervousness obviously hadn’t affected his appetite. Having drunk their tea Sam said that they should be getting on their way. Cal gave Cecil a hug. Sam started to hold out his hand but then changed his mind and gave him a hug too.
As they departed Brian’s wife said “Don’t worry about this young man. We’ll take good care of him.”
And driving away they watched as Cecil waved happily to them.
On the journey back Sam said, “There’s no hurry for us to get back is there?”
“Not that I’m aware of. Why?”
“I’ve just remembered there’s a blanket in the boot.”
“Why, Inspector Tyler, whatever can you be thinking of?”
“Just one more thing that you won’t be able to print in your newspaper, Mr McAffrey.”