They'd had a good time. In Manchester.
Brendan had managed to smuggle Ste away on one of his business trips.
Brendan had left on the Friday, leaving detailed instructions of how to find, the city, the hotel, the room.
Ste followed on the next day, visiting his wayward cousin - apparently.
Like love's young dream, they had concentrated solely on each other.
Laughing, talking, fucking, walking.
They'd even wandered along to Canal Street, to take a look. To glimpse those not so fortunate as themselves. The others who were still searching .
Brendan had gently steered Ste away from the blatant drizzle-soaked bustle. A soft touch on the back of the neck was all that was needed to convey the message; we have no need of this.
Ste was happy to oblige. He was replete.
Ste had the sensation of feeling weightless the entire time he was away. Like he was an Astronaut, moon-walking, oblivious to the world's woes; concentrating only on his next step.
As they re-entered the orbit of HollyoaksVillage however, Brendan committed the sin that Ste had been dreading all weekend.
Unthinking and without fail, he dropped Ste's hand, as a lad came into view. Worse still, he shifted his holdall to his previously loving hand, to create a barrier between them.
Even though Ste didn't move a facial muscle, he was crying on the inside.
Once again Brendan had denied his existence.
Denied their relationship.
It wasn't the first time, but each slight cut deep. A continuous battery of pain slotting in the casing of the previous partially-healed wound.
The stiff upper lip Ste showed the world was coming to the end of its warranty, he had used it that often.
Still his head could still be described as being held high, even if his spirits were anything but.
They had been like ships passing in the night.
Unconsciously Ste had kept his distance both physically and emotionally from Brendan.
The club had unexpectedly become the playground du jour. Every minor celebrity just had to have their birthday, book launch and break-up on the premises. Ste had been working double shifts back-to-back, constantly busy, just out of reach.
Today there had been a lull.
Ste was nervous. He was right to be.
Brendan climbed the stairs two at a time and strode across the floor.
There was a distinct sense of urgency in the air.
"Stephen" he called out, cocking his head to the one side, motioning that he expected him to follow him.
Ste who understood his incognito role, set his work aside and obediently did as he was bid.
Apparently not quickly enough, for Brendan crossed the room at an even faster pace and practically pulled Ste into his office by his hoodie.
Once inside Brendan stated.
"I want ye, but we need to be quick."
"Charmed I'm sure."
"Hands or mouth? You choose."
"Mouth please" came the immediate response.
Brendan gave a curt nod in acknowledgement. He unsnapped, unbuckled and unzipped Ste in an instant. He lifted him onto his desk and dropped to his knees.
Ste barely had time to thrust . Three, four, five sucks and Brendan had achieved his aim.
The epitome of efficiency.
"Mmm- a liquid lunch, always a pleasure." Brendan teased.
His subsequent kiss revealed the aroma of his main course; this shared delight always made Ste's head spin.
Ste lent forwards to pull Brendan into an embrace, his legs finding their home around his waist, when they both heard Warren Fox's unmistakeable gait approaching the office.
Being rather heavy-set Warren had a tendency to wheeze as he ascended any staircase; unfortunate for him, but an early warning system for others.
"Move." Brendan dictated, loving no more.
Warren seemingly entered the office during a disciplinary.
"Don't let me catch you turning up for work in such an unkempt fashion in future, d'you hear?
You're a disgrace. You offend my eyes. Now get out of my sight.
I have no need of you."
Even though Ste knew this was an impromptu role-playing session, Brendan's words still stung.
Tucking his shirt back into his trousers and straightening his hoodie on his shoulders, he tried to catch Brendan's eye, to see if there was a secret sign hidden there. Some reassurance, (some love?).
He found none.
Did Brendan really have no need of him?
He wasn't entirely sure and he should be shouldn't he? At this stage of their relationship?
Ay, there was the rub, was this a relationship or just some over-extended booty-call?
Ste didn't often ponder on things deeply, but he thought he'd make an exception in this case.
He'd hate to step of a cliff, just because he hadn't been looking where he was going.
Ste wasn't a total pushover. He'd made Brendan pay next time they were together. He'd insisted on a sleepover, which Brendan had found difficult to arrange; eventually having to bribe Cheryl and Lynsey with a weekend mini-break, to make it possible.
Ste also extracted a promise that they would go on a grown-up date.
As a couple.
He only capitulated on one thing, it had to be outside of the Village.
Ste had been puppy-dog excited. He had Amy give him a haircut and he had assembled his best facsimile of a suit.
He even had money in his pocket.
Cinergy was to be the meeting place.
Almost on the edge of town.
Ste's stomach had been catching butterflies all day. He had eaten anticipation for breakfast and lunch.
Trying not to fidget in his unaccustomed finery, Ste arrived early and waited on Brendan.
He saw him.
In the distance.
Striding purposefully towards him.
He came. He's actually coming for me, Ste thought in amazement.
The Gods sat down- no need to be on guard now.
This was the moment when Hollyoaks Village became Britain's third Piccadilly Circus.
Every person Ste had ever known suddenly decided that this was the thoroughfare of their choice.
Darren exploded out of Cinergy, throwing his chauffeur's hat to the ground, closely followed by Cindy herself. The employee-employer heated discussion that followed broke several trade union statutes.
Mercedes and Riley stumbled out of The Dog and proceeded to share their undying love with the world, tongues and all. Myra and Jacqui disembarked from the bus, arms and bags overflowing with their swag, carefully gleaned from their profitable day of window shopping. Lynsey also chose this precise moment to take up running. All of which Ste could have coped with if it hadn't have been for a pint-sized princess who was prancing further and further into his line of vision.
She wasn't alone. She had what appeared to be a business contact glued to her side and she was smiling, scrap that, make that gurning in Brendan's general direction.
Ste had always thought that Brendan's fake friendship with non-existent benefits with Mitzeee was pointless. No-one really cared who Brendan was sleeping with and those that did were too scared to ask anyway. The only one who really gained from this arrangement as far as Ste could see, was Mitzeee. Her glass had never been empty since she had eagerly informed Ste of the ground rules, through a cloud of Chardonney. Brendan had tried to soothe him, by pointing out that this deal was a two way street, which led to Straightsville with dividends for them both. Ste could only see it leading to Narnia, but he kept that thought to himself.
Brendan was still smiling straight at him, he hadn't seen Mitzeee-yet.
Ste summoned the Gods, but they were on recess.
Mitzeee pounced, her tiny taloned hand crash landed on Brendan's chest. She broke his stride, stopped him dead.
She was all squeals and squawks and flying manes. There was much pointing and cajoling going on. Ste overheard the words business opportunity and lucrative.
His heart moved to the rooftop ready to jump.
Brendan looked around him once, just once.
Mitzeee moved to the winner's podium. Centre stage she stepped between the two men, linked arms and led them away.
Right past Ste.
Ste was too aghast to move.
Darren turned his head abruptly. He could have sworn that he'd heard something fragile breaking.
Comments are always appreciated.