Summary: Friday night. Manchester. Two pairs of best friends. Madonna. Two different endings. A crossover with 'Queer as Folk'.

Categories: Crossovers > Slash
Characters: Chris Keel, Sam Curtis
Genres: First Time
Warnings: None
Chapters: 1 [Table of Contents]
Series: None

Word count: 5753; Completed: Yes
Updated: 25 Sep 2004; Published: 25 Sep 2004

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Author's Notes: Inspired, no doubt inadvertently, *g* by Louise and as such is dedicated to her...

Itīs narrated by Sam and Vince. Apologies to A) those who havenīt seen QAF and might not 'getī this and B) to those who have seen it and think my interpretation of Vince is way off... Sorry! What can I say? At the time, I half heartedly thought this was a reasonable idea and simply threw myself into it. Variation on a theme, I hear you say? Yep. *cheerfully* Hopefully enough to be different through. Oh, and Iīm honestly not obsessed by Madonna... *g* Or Savage Garden for that matter...


We were standing all alone you were leaning in to speak to me

Acting like a mover shaker dancing to Madonna and then you kissed me

And I think about it all the time

Sweet temptation rush all over me

And I think about it all the time

Passion desire so intense I canīt take anymore because

I feel the magic all around you

Itīs bringing me to my knees

Like a wannabe

Iīve got to be chained to you

Chained To You ~ Savage Garden


"For our cover," heīd grinned, his blue eyes wide and full of mischief, after heīd removed his lips from mine.

Mute, the sensation of his full, moist lips having been -- all too briefly -- on mine and the lingering taste of Coca-Cola on my tongue, I could only nod.

Laughing at my reaction, the dance floor had once again beckoned and, allowing the throng of pulsating bodies to swallow him, Chris had disappeared as swiftly as heīd appeared.

This was six songs, and two ill advised rants by the DJ ago. I can still feel the soft pliancy of his lips claiming mine. I canīt remember what he undulated over to tell me, but I can taste him. I can taste sweat and soft-drink. Itīs like an elixir. A powerful, transfixing ambrosia.

I want more.

Perched on my uncomfortable stool and leaning over the small, littered with discarded bottles and empty glasses, table, I keep my eyes trained on Chris. Even amongst all of the perfect specimens shaking their stuff on the dance floor, heīs a true vision. Happy, confident and sexy as fuck. Needless to say, Iīm not the only one watching him. Appreciative gazes follow him everywhere he goes.

In all the months that weīve been partnered, Iīve never seen him quite like this. All the horrors of the past weeks pushed out of his mind and the task of seeking out our target simmering just below his surface, Chris is enjoying himself. It radiates from within him and paints him in a luminous aura.

Subsequently, oddly enough, this in turn means that I too am enjoying myself.

In a club going by the dubious name of Poptastic, in the middle of Canal Street, in Manchester.

Manchester of all places.

Iīm having a little difficulty coming to terms with this fact. Manchester. Of all the places weīve been to -- Mozambique, Montevideo, Manhattan, Melbourne, Madrid -- I find myself experiencing a peculiar sense of joy in Manchester. Wonders will truly never cease. It just goes to show that my learned, pseudo, snobbery isnīt all that itīs cracked up to be.

To the best of our knowledge, thereīs no danger here and, for once, we can almost relax. I canīt help but think that, here, it wouldnīt be a gun in their pocket and they would simply be happy to see you... Drugs are rife, but theyīre not our problem and weīre more than happy to turn a blind eye.

Taking a mouthful of my drink, I dutifully scan the club for any sight of our target before searching out Chris again. Heīs easy to find. I just have to follow the direction that everyone else is staring in. Dancing, easily, fluidly and... sensually... to the bass heavy music, he draws the eye. I honestly think heīs oblivious to his popularity. He smiles at anyone and everyone but doesnīt stay in one place long enough to be spoken to in any detail. Those who push their way near him and manage to dance with him for half a song walk off looking dazed.

In a gay club, full of the buffed and the beautiful, my partner is the man of the moment.

If only Malone were here. Heīd probably blow a fuse. Or two. Being sent to Manchester, and having to trawl through Canal Street in search of an informant by the name of Fidler, was meant as penance for having lost a suspect. Iīd sulked, on the drive North, and complained bitterly about getting stuck in Manchester on a Friday night. Chris, exceptionally unfussed, had merely smiled at me and commented lightly, "Aw, come off it, Sam. Who knows, you might even enjoy yourself. Surely, deeply repressed as it may be, you must know how to have fun..."

Iīd merely snorted at the time. Now, however, as much as it pains me to admit it, Chris has been proven right.

Thereīs no sign of Fidler, the music (non-stop Madonna to celebrate the release of her new album, or some lame excuse like that) is loud enough to wake the dead, Iīm stuck in Manchester and Iīm happier than I have been in a long time.

Momentarily closing my eyes, my body tingles with the remembered memory of Chris leaning over me and kissing me. Iīd had no warning. My mind had barely fought through the sensation of shocked bliss before heīd pulled away.

"For our cover."

It felt like more than that. It felt real...

Opening my eyes, I stare at Chris as my body continues to tingle. Without pausing to dwell on the subject, Iīve jumped the invisible boundary from viewing Chris as a friend to lusting after him. Thereīs just something about him. Heīs electric. Everyone else pales in comparison. Truth be told, Iīve felt inklings of this from time to time, but tonight... Tonight Chris is incandescent.

Desire courses through my body in time to the music and the words swim lazily in my head.

// I wanna know you in Paris

I wanna hold your hand in Rome

I wanna run naked in a rainstorm

Make love on a train cross-country

You put this in me

So now what, so now what? //


// Wanting, needing, waiting

For you to justify my love

Hoping, praying

For you to justify my love //

Same old, same old. Poptastic, Friday night, Madonnaīs blaring over the loud speakers, and Stuartīs on the prowl.

And Iīm alone, watching him and trying desperately to ignore the truth behind Madonnaīs breathily sung words.

Same old, same old.

I wouldnīt be anywhere else.

I go where ever Stuart goes. Itīs what I do. Itīs what Iīve been doing for half my life. If ever he wants me, Iīll be there. Itīs just the way it is. Stuart steadily fucks his way through the majority of aesthetically pleasing men in Manchester while I wait patiently for him and perfect the art of wanking.

Biting back a sigh, I lean on the balcony and scan the dance floor. Surprise, surprise, thereīs Nathan. All young and blond and exuding 'fuck meī attitude. Prowling around the place as though heīs a Stuart in training, he is. Which, sadly, I suppose wouldnīt be too far from the truth. Heīs as good a contender to the throne as any. And at least heīs had the 'masterī. Fifteen and heīs had Stuart Alan Jones. Twat.

Not that Iīm jealous. Thereīs no point. Being jealous of so many men would eat me alive.

Realising that Iīm scowling in Nathanīs general direction, I drag my attention away from him and continue to scan. It doesnīt take me long to locate Alexander, resplendent in a floor length, faux fur, leopard print coat and red leather trousers. Heīs standing near the bar and holding fort to a group of somewhat stunned looking drag queens. Noticing me looking at him, he grins and waves. I half heartedly wave back before looking away.

Everywhere I look I see familiar faces. This both comforts and disturbs me. Will it ever change? Or will I really be lurching into Poptastic on my zimmer frame when Iīm sixty? Still following Stuart. Still his faithful shadow.

The dance floor is pulsating with scantily clad bodies and I allow myself to cast a few appreciative sweeps over it before searching out Stuart. I find him leaning casually against a wall, a lazy smile playing over his lips and his eyes fixed on the dance floor.

Fixed on one particular dancer.

The predatorīs found his prey.

Sighing, and needing to see for myself tonightīs lucky recipient of Stuartīs desire, I follow his lustful gaze and try to work out who the chosen one is.


Nah. Stuart had him last March. Said he had a mouth like a Hoover but was nothing to write home about.

The one in the white singlet?

Nope. Hairy back. Eeeeuww... Someone really should tell him to go to a leather club if he wants to flaunt that sort of fur coverage.

Oh. My. God.

I feel my mouth drop open as I spot him. Trust Stuart. Not only is he fresh blood in a sea of old faces, but heīs also spectacular. Heīs the sort of man that makes me honestly wonder why I even bother. Tall and obviously perfectly toned under his form fitting black jeans and short sleeved black shirt. Short, spiky hair which under the dull, allegedly flattering, lighting looks to be light brown. Even from this distance I can see clearly that he has beautiful eyes. Vaguely feline-shaped and irresistible in his pale, attractive face. Full lips too. Bastard.

Accepting, with the weary ease of one whoīs seen it all before, that I canīt turn him into a pumpkin by glaring at him, I look away. Well, that is, I try to look away. Only, now that Iīve seen him, I feel a compulsion to continue staring at him. Heīs like a magnent. I note dully, but with no real surprise, that Stuart and I arenīt the only ones watching his every movement.

Heīs like a rare specimen. The last of his kind and what everyone here has been searching for. If he had any sense heīd sell himself to the highest bidder. Make the most of it while he can. For tomorrow night heīll be yesterdayīs news.

This thought, I derive malicious satisfaction from... For all of two seconds.

Forcing myself to look back at Stuart, all but leering by this stage, I spot another new face in the crowd. He too is staring at Stuartīs prey and, interestingly, I decide that his gaze almost matches Stuartīs for intensity. He watches the other man intently but, unlike Stuart, his expression in unreadable.

This man, with his dark, glossy looking hair, handsome face and searing eyes, while more than attractive in his own right, will be no match for Stuart. Of this Iīm confident. No-one can compete with Stuart. Heīs new, heīll learn.

Unlike me. Iīm too old to be taught any new tricks.

Even Madonnaīs against me.

// I follow you around but you canīt see me

Youīre too wrapped up in yourself to notice //

Knowing that I have no say in the matter, I magnanimously hope that Stuart finds whatever it is that heīs looking for (the ultimate orgasm? Fuck knows) in his prey.

Itīs all I can do.


Another bar, another collection of blandly attractive men, another Madonna song, another kiss...

Coolly moist lips, the scent of sweat and long ago applied aftershave. A momentary sensation that Iīm drowning. My mouth, instinctively, kissing him back.

This time, my voice saying the words, "For our cover..."

Nodding, an unfamiliar emotion ghosting over his face -- longing? -- Chris allowing himself to reclaimed by the mass of bodies on the dance floor.

Like a video set on constant loop, our arrival at Via Fossa plays over and over in my mind. Again I sit and nurse my drink, occasionally looking around for Fidler, while Chris unintentionally makes his presence known.

Those that witnessed the kiss stare at me with varying expressions on their faces. Jealousy being the most common. Iīm quietly confident that a few of them view me as some sort of freak... How can I sit, so cool and seemingly collected, while he attracts so many fans on the dance floor...

If they asked me, and I felt compelled to respond honestly, Iīd have to say, 'itīs hard...ī

I donīt dance, well, not to this pathetic excuse for music, and my strong work ethic dictates that I have to watch out for Fidler. Other than that...

I long to be next to Chris; feeding off his energy and basking in his glow. The memory of his lips torments me. Curiosity holds hands with lust and they are my constant companion. My mind, exploding with possibilities, opens itself up for technicolour daydreams. I donīt need drugs to access the images in my head, I just need to watch Chris and they present themselves.

Feeling as though Iīm being watched, I reluctantly tear my attention away from Chris and slowly look around me. My gaze falls on a man, who like me is sitting at a table by himself, and I know that heīs the one I could feel staring at me because he immediately looks away and blushes. Studying him, the words 'niceī and 'harmlessī spring readily to mind. Heīs quite attractive, in a generic, friendly sort of way and I know, confidently, that there is no reason to pay him any extra attention.

He smiles at me wanly and, for no real reason other than itīs polite, I smile back. Still blushing, he looks away from me and I note that his gaze now falls lingeringly on a different man. I almost want to laugh -- youīre obviously not the only fish in the sea, Curtis -- until I notice how melancholic he looks. The look of longing on his face as he gazes at this other man, standing near the bar and surveying the crowd as though he was their lord and master, is all but heart breaking in its intensity.

Iīm about to turn away, when the man -- medium height, slight build, dark wavy hair, lightly tanned and all cocky attitude (so the agent in me describes him) -- slowly snakes his way through the dancers and joins the other one at the table. Narrowing his eyes and looking around him, he ignores the look of tired delight on his friendīs -- ? -- face and gulps down a drink.

Not liking what Iīm watching, thereīs something sad about the apparent devotion the man at the table holds for the other one, who strikes me as a bit of predator, I turn away from them and again search out Chris. For a moment I canīt find him, but then, almost out of nowhere, he appears in front of me. Grinning happily, he deposits two drinks on the table and takes a seat next to me.

Pleased to have him alongside me, I query facetiously, "Having fun?"

Wiping sweat off his forehead, Chris makes a damn fine attempt to blind me with his smile. "Itīs definitely an experience," he replies lightly, taking a long swallow of his drink. "Iīve been propositioned six times, Iīve lost count of the amount of times Iīve been groped and one guy suggested something to me that Iīm pretty positive is illegal."

A brilliant flash of green tinges my vision. "Oh... Not taking up any of the offers?" I manage to grind out.

"Hell no," Chris shakes his head and projects a look of disgust. "Besides, weīre on active duty," he smirks, "Iīm here 'cos CI5 want me to be."

Placated, I add, "Which is more than can be said for Fidler."

"Indeed," Chris agrees. "How about we move..." he starts to say before pausing and cocking his head to one side. "After this song!" he states, getting up and making a bee-line for the dance floor. "Weīll leave after this song," he shouts over his shoulder.

"Whatever," I mutter redundantly to myself, staring at Chris as he disappears.

Again, for the want of anything better to do, I listen to Madonna and am struck by the aptness of the words to the song.

// Iīd like to put you in a trance

All over

Erotic, erotic

Put your hands all over my body

Erotic, erotic //


// Once youīve put your hand in the flame

You can never be the same

Thereīs a certain satisfaction

In a little bit of pain //

Shut up Madonna.

I donīt need to listen to her moaning about pain. I know all about it. Satisfaction? No. I get no satisfaction from feeling like this. The ever reliable and loyal Vince. Vince, who most are of the opinion will have to wait until hell freezes over before Stuart deigns to give him one.

Some nights, tonight being one of them, this actually bothers me. I canīt change who I am or how I feel. God knows Iīve tried. Irrationally, not to mention unfairly, I need Stuart like I need air. Itīs not his fault I feel this way about him. Besides, I tell myself, the way he draws people to him, if it wasnīt me following him around, itīd be someone else. 'Course it would. Stuart needs people around him, and I need to be one of them.

Beaming wolfishly, Stuart indicates to the dance floor and points to his prey who, just like at Poptastic, has his own audience. "So, what do you think?" he demands almost proudly.

"Nice," I murmur dutifully, wondering momentarily why heīs still just watching when not only could he have made his move but he most likely could have fucked him by now already. Then it hits me. Stuart too has noticed the dark haired man who appears to be with his prey. I know this wonīt stop him -- like hell -- as he derives a sense of almost gleeful joy from taking from others and decide that heīs simply biding his time until he makes his inevitable conquest because dragging it out amuses him.

"Nice?" Stuartīs eyes flash with drug induced intensity. "Only nice? Come on Vince, even a boring supermarket person like you could do better than that," he spits sarcastically. "Heīs perfect. The living, breathing embodiment of sex. He oozes sensuality. Heīs mine, I own him and Iīm going to fuck him until he screams," Stuart rants.

I want to ask him what heīs taken, but donīt quite dare. "Heīs very sexy," I add softly, wanting to soothe the situation over.

Stuart smirks at me and claps me on the back. "Vince, my dear, thatīs what I love about you, youīre always right. Now, Iīm going back to keep an eye on my friend. Donīt want anyone," he throws a cursory glance in the direction of the dark haired man and snorts before continuing, "touching my property, now, do I..."

With that he bounds off the stool and away from the table. Alone, again, I sigh heavily. Just like Iīm feeling low tonight, Stuartīs in one of his moods. Be it the delusion of age, or boredom, or whatever, heīs feeling out of sorts. Iīm used to these moods and harden myself for any forthcoming rants that I might find myself on the receiving end of. Thereīs nothing he can say to me that I havenīt heard, in one form or another, before. It might still hurt, but, well, been there, done that.

I contemplate simply getting up and leaving, but canīt find it in myself to see this half hearted desire through. Besides, glancing at the dark haired man and finding him shooting a sour look at Stuart before reverting back to staring longingly at his friend, I suddenly find myself doubting Stuartīs success. Perhaps it isnīt guaranteed after all. Interesting.

Thinking about it, his 'preyī hasnīt shown the slightest bit of interest in him. Which is decidedly unusual. Normally those who fall under his gaze know it, and return it, immediately. This man, however, doesnīt even to seem to know that Stuart is alive and plotting what heīll do to him.

'Eroticaī finishing, the man suddenly materialises off the dance floor and in front of me. Having been thinking about him, and out of the blue finding myself so close to him, I can feel myself blushing.

For Godīs sake, Vince, get a grip, I tell myself. Itīs not as though he could possibly know that youīre making bets with yourself in respect to whether heīll go home with Stuart.

Oblivious to my inner turmoil, he smiles at me naturally and brightly and I literally feel myself melting. Dimples too. Fuck me. Stuartīs right. 'Niceī doesnīt begin to do him justice. I smile back and mutter, "Hi."

"Hello," he replies in what appears to be a soft transatlantic accent before continuing past me and joining his friend.

I watch as, laughing with easy camaraderie, they make their way towards the exit. Walking, close together, I note how they are obviously close friends who are comfortable in each others company and canīt help but compare them to me and Stuart. Despite my longing, and Stuartīs moods, weīre the best of friends. I wonder idly which one of them falls into my miserable position. If, indeed, one of them does.

"Come on, Vince. Weīre outta here," Stuart calls out as he strides past me. "This place is getting boring."

The hunt is still on. Quickly finishing my drink, I catch up with Stuart and find myself suddenly quite curious as to how tonightīs going to end up.


"Oh, listen, this song again," I comment drily, following Chris in to Babylon. The clubs and the men may change, but Madonna is still querying whether those unfortunate enough to be listening 'want to boogie woogieī. I believe, in the space of one evening, Iīve managed to fit in a lifetime of Madonna and can quite cheerfully live out the rest of my life without ever having to hear her again.

"Mmm... It is all getting a bit tedious," Chris agrees, pausing by a table and surveying the crowd. Those that arenīt too off their face, a somewhat small percentage, survey him right back. Again history repeats itself. A murmur of excitement rises from those looking at him -- whoīs that? Are they together? -- and they begin to primp and preen. Iīm used to the jealousy by this stage and forcefully quash it. A few check me out too, but not throwing myself whole heartedly into 'club goer personified modeī, I know that I do nothing to encourage them and donīt really feel anything when they quickly look away again.

Hell, if I was punter Iīd look at Chris too. I mean, I can hardly keep my eyes off him as it is, and I know him. Whatīs more, I spend most of my waking hours with him and, youīd think, should be well and truly used to him. Actually, I thought I was. Used to him, that is. Up and until we walked into the first club I laboured under this belief. The way I saw it, nothing was out of the ordinary. We met in the foyer of the motel, Chris wasnīt wearing anything new and he seemed to be in a normal kind of mood. Then we hit Poptastic and Chris lit up. Whether it was the music, or the sweaty bodies, or the ambience or fuck knows what, he simply came alive.

And then he kissed me.

And I canīt stop thinking about it.

I want him to do it again. I want to kiss him. I want... Well, what I want is best not done in the middle of a crowded club. In fact, itīs... ah... probably for the best that I donīt even follow this line of thought in said club...

Shaking my head clear of all the x-rated images floating around it, I force myself to concentrate on the task at hand. "Any sign of Fidler?" I ask.

"Nope. Canīt see him," Chris replies, slowly scanning the club. "Shit! My stalker is though," he adds, narrowing his eyes and looking towards the entrance.

"Stalker?" Following Chrisī gaze, I spot the two men -- the friendly looking one and the cocky one -- that Iīd seen in Via Fossa. The former, while standing behind his supposed friend, is smiling across at a woman who I can only describe as mutton attempting to dress up as spring lamb and he appears to have cheered up. The latter, however, is leering directly in Chrisī direction.

"Mmm... Stuart, the so-called ruler of Canal Street. A few of the others have warned me about him," Chris mutters, looking away from the entrance and shrugging. "He keeps staring at me as though he expects me to fall at his feet and, well, really, I just wish heīd fuck off."

"Why donīt you just tell him?" I query, for some reason deriving a quaint sense of satisfaction that this Stuart is going to be thwarted.

"Because he hasnīt even spoken to me. He just watches and, by the looks of things, waits patiently. In his own way heīs just like Vince."

"Vince?" How on earth does Chris know all this?

"Yeah. The guy heīs with. Theyīre best mates and, as some bloke so eloquently put it, Vince is 'gagging for itī and will wait for Stuart until the end of time." Chris sighs and looks me in the eye. "I sympathise with Vince," he whispers cryptically, backing away from the table and walking slowly away from me.

Bells start to chime in my head, and I stare, dumbfounded, after Chris. I knew the kisses werenīt simply for our damn cover and grin to myself in a way that is most likely disconcerting to anyone who may happen to glance in my direction. Iīm still attempting to work out how best to come to terms with this glorious slant on things when my mobile rings. Itīs Spencer on the other end and he tells me that he and Richards -- being the ones trawling through Londonīs gay scene for our informant (having wronged Malone in some way of the other in respect to a satellite link that wasnīt...) -- have located Fidler and that we can call it quits.

Ending the call and placing the phone back in my pocket, my grin broadens and, feeling lighter than air, I move away from the table. Locating Chris is, as per usual -- just follow the trails of drool -- easy and I stride straight up to him. Without hesitating, and before heīs even really registered that Iīve joined him, I pull him towards me and settle my lips on his. Instantly relaxing his body against mine, Chris returns the kiss without hesitation but pulls slightly back before it can truly deepen.

Blinking at me, he murmurs breathily, "For our cover, right?"

"No. Because I want you and wanted to," I reply easily, "If thatīs okay..."

Chris grins at me and leaning in close, purrs, "Very... Now kiss me again and letīs stop messing around."

Happy to oblige, I wrap my arms around Chrisī back and do exactly as he asks. The last thing I see, the throng of dancers already invisible to me, is the man I believe to be called Vince. Heīs beaming at me happily. Surrendering to sensation, I wish Vince the best of luck. If I can be made to see through my blinkered blindness -- that my best friend wants me -- then perhaps thereīs a chance Stuart can too.


"Donīt look now, but Stuartīs chosen oneīs just copped off," Hazel whispers conspiratorially and gently elbows me in the rib.

"Huh?" I grunt, reluctantly interrupting my tale of supermarket woe that Iīm very busily sharing with Bernie. Iīve cheered up considerably since arriving at Babylon. Not only are Hazel and Bernie here, but thereīs also no sign of Nathan and, as we walked here, whatever Stuart had taken started to wear off. Subsequently heīs already reverted back to his normal obnoxious self and Iīm hoping that the rest of evening will be rant free.

"You know, that new bloke that you said Stuart was eying off," Hazel continues, her eyes twinkling, "Heīs copped off with that mate of his. Which, I should think, leaves Stuart well and truly out of luck."

Trying to stop myself from smirking, I follow Hazelīs gaze and see that she is indeed right. The two men are entwined and kissing passionately. They seem oblivious to the crowd and the encouraging cat calls that a few of the dancers feel compelled to share with them. I watch, oddly happy, as they pull apart for a second. The man 'whoīd dare deny Stuartī looks at his friend hopefully and asks him something. Whatever the dark haired man responds with causes them to both smile brightly and, Iīd say, instinctively, they return to each others arms.

I find myself unable to control the urge to beam, and Iīm still smiling as the dark haired man looks over his friendīs shoulder and directly at me. For a split second our gazes lock and he smiles back at me before, quite rightly so, returning his attention to the spectacular creature in his arms.

Although I donīt know why, Iīm confident that I wonīt see these men again. Whatever reason theyīre in Manchester for -- and whether their coming together had anything to do with it -- has been achieved and tomorrow theyīll be nothing but a dim memory. Iīm still happy though and turn to Hazel. "Good luck to them," I offer softly.

She shrugs and replies, "Iīm sure Stuart wonīt agree with you."

The words 'bugger Stuartī spring readily and surprisingly to mind but I donīt get a chance to voice them as, speak of the devil, Stuart suddenly materialises next to Hazel. "What wonīt Stuart agree with?" he demands relatively cheerfully, no doubt believing that nothing of any importance can impact on his world.

"That you left making your move on your prey for too long and now itīs too late," Hazel responds, equally as cheerfully before getting up and wandering over towards the bar. Itīs her way of leaving us to it.

"Whatīs the old bat talking about?" Stuart asks, sitting down on the chair that Hazel had just vacated.

"The American you were planning to have your wicked way with," I reply cautiously, "it appears that he and his friend are together after all."

"Oh." Stuart stares across the dance floor and shrugging, displays a notable lack of interest in the subject. "They look good together," he mutters, before looking back at me and smirking. "Wonder if theyīd be interested in a threesome?"

"Stuart!" I splutter, wondering why Iīm actually surprised. " Youīre incorrigible! Leave 'em alone though," I add softly, "I think itīs new and very private."

"You been reading Mills & Boons again?" Stuart queries lightly.

"No! I... Itīs just..." I stammer, not knowing what it is exactly that I want to say, or why it is that I feel this way about the two men.

Stuart shrugs again and grins at me. "American, you say? How do you know that?"

"He said hello to me and I think thatīs what his accent is," I reply, mentally crossing my fingers that this conversation isnīt going to carry on for much longer.

"Hmm... Better off out of it then. Americanīs are overrated," Stuart states clearly and effectively signals that the subject is closed. He didnīt lose, he simply changed his mind. I know better than to point out the flaws in this and simply smile. "So now what?"

"So for now Iīm stuck with your useless arse and a club full of queens attempting to vogue," Stuart smirks and to my relief I realise that heīs actually in a reasonable sort of mood. Another man will come along and take him away from me, but for now heīs mine.

We look at each other and smile. Whether we want to admit to knowing the words or not, weīre helpless against mouthing along to Madonna.

// Greta Garbo and Monroe, Dietrich and Di Maggio

Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean

On the cover of a magazine

Grace Kelly, Harlow, Jean

Picture of a beauty queen

Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers

Dance on air

They had style

They had grace //

Glancing away from Stuart, I look around the club and calculate that at least half the punters are also singing along to the song. Hazel, of course, is dancing. The two men, as Iīd expected, are gone. They donīt belong here and Iīm sure theyīve got better things to do with their time. Things to learn, sensations to experience. Watching them tonight, I suspect they came to Canal Street as friends, and they left it as lovers.

They give me hope.

The End


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