Fantasy in C Major
George Cowley stared unseeing into the glass of rich amber liquid in his hand. He was sitting in towelling robe and bare feet in the reading chair next to the bed, lights dim, the faintest rays of a rising sun peeking through the drawn drapes.
He glanced over at the figure sleeping so soundly in the bed. In his bed. The top sheet--once crisp, now rumbled, sweated and stained with use--had slid down to reveal Murphy's muscled back, skin almost delicately white, cap of dark hair above it a counterpoint to the white sheets. Murphy shifted. The room was warm. The sheet slid further, defining firmly rounded buttocks and solid thighs.
Cowley watched, silently admiring the beauty of this man revealed.
Beauty. If this was beauty, then he himself must be the beast. It was a sour thought. Play time back thirty years and it would have been paedophilia, or something akin. On the other side, it was almost rape, save that Cowley had acquiesced. If two take something from separate situations, is it taking advantage, he wondered? Is mutual need corrupting?
Thirty years. Thirty hours. Yesterday so very different from today.
Thirty Hours Earlier
The doorbell buzzed incessantly, an irritating chorus to the Beethoven sonata softly playing on Radio 3.
The Controller was in shirtsleeves, cuffs rolled up, heavy glasses on his nose, pen in hand, working at his desk, the length of the day showing on his face. Neat stacks of reports were ordered about him, and a partial glass of single malt scotch was at his right hand. He looked over at the door and cursed inwardly at the interruption as he rose to answer the persistent and annoying buzz, glancing first out the front window before crossing to the door.
It was late, drizzling and a bit foggy. The streetlight cast an eerie glow on the cars parked nose to tail in the street. Everything appeared in order, normal for a Tuesday evening, and he thought it must be a deliveryman taking a pizza to the wrong flat.
The buzzing stopped as he neared the door, silenced by some invisible hand, Beethoven again the featured tune. Shifting his glass of scotch to his left hand, he flipped the switch to light the front step, peered out the spy hole, and saw nothing.
He removed his glasses and set them and the single malt scotch on the small table next to the door, peering once more through the spy hole before releasing the series of locks and bolts that served as silent sentry. There was no one there.
He moved cautiously out onto the step. It could just be a prank; it could be something far more sinister. As Controller of CI5 he was not without considerable enemies, some of them more formidable than others, many with agendas he could not begin to fathom.
Suddenly a cabbie called from the street and Cowley looked up, barely able to make out the dark boxy shape of the London cab double-parked several doors down.
"Oi, got some lad here passed out, guv," called the man. "Said you'd be good for the fare, so I brought him over. Give us a hand then, he's a big lad."
Mindful that he could well be walking into a trap, Cowley headed down the steps to the cab. The driver's door was open and as he approached, he could see that the interior light was on and Murphy inside, tilted against the passenger door as if holding up the taxi's whole frame.
"Oh for..." Cowley sputtered. "What's this about?"
The cabbie shrugged. "Dunno. Not my day to watch him is it, guv. Now do you want to get him out or wot? No harm to me, the meter's running, so I can be pleased to sit here all night 'long as you're good for the twenty quid."
"Oh, I'll pay it all right," Cowley muttered with a glaring glance at Murphy. "And he'll pay after."
"Hey, whatever your arrangement is okay with me, guv. Pretty lad. Everyone 'as a different fancy. Free country and all that. Not my style though. No offence to you or your boy 'ere."
Cowley's response was a cross between a growl and an epithet, but Scots' economy got the better of his irritation and he rapped his knuckles against the car window, right at Murphy's face. Murphy stirred and opened his eyes, not quite focusing. "Are we there?" he mouthed, glancing about, clearly struggling to get his bearings, but with little success.
Was he drunk? Drugged? Injured? Concern crept in and began to colour Cowley's impatience.
"Murphy? 6.2? I am going to open this door. Pull your head back, lad."
"You open it and I'll catch him, guv," offered the cabbie. "He's a big lad, and no offence, but you are a bit slight, aren't you--not exactly in your prime. No offence."
"My condition is no business of yours. Just get on with it, man." Cowley slowly pulled the door open, allowing the cabbie to move in beside him and catch Murphy as the agent toppled out, half stumbling into the stocky cab driver's outstretched arms.
"There you go, laddie. You're a big one, ain't you. Bet you give 'em value for their money." The man laughed raucously and Cowley began to protest, but thought the better of it. No point in entering into a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.
"Murphy, lad--can you walk on your own?" he queried.
Murphy looked about as if trying to assess his situation and promptly dropped to his knees and vomited, the smell foul and the quantity significant. The smell of alcohol was ripe in the night air.
Drunk then. Cowley's impatience began to rise once more. He hardly needed intoxicated agents showing up at his home in the middle of the night. "Oh for.... Get yourself up and inside if that's where you're bound to be," he ordered, ignoring the beseeching glance from Murphy, now on hands and knees, losing the rest of everything he consumed that day onto the brick walk.
With a concerted and less than organised effort, the cabbie and Cowley managed to get a now befouled Murphy inside Cowley's flat, dumping him like a sack of potatoes inside the front door, where Murphy sat balefully while Cowley found his wallet and paid the fare.
"Twenty quid," he grumbled as he closed the door behind the pleased cab driver. "Absurd." He waved his wallet in Murphy's direction. "That will come out of your pay, 6.2. Make no mistake about it."
Murphy was slumped forward head in hands, elbows on knees. He looked up and painfully nodded his head in what passed for acknowledgment. Cowley could see there was vomit on the man's thick gray jumper, and some on his trousers as well. Despite his intentions to the contrary, the Controller found his temper waning and curiosity and concern taking its place. He sighed deeply.
"All right, laddie. Let's get you cleaned up and then we'll get to the bottom of this."
"Sorry, sir," Murphy managed to mumble. As Cowley looked on in dismay, Murphy lurched to his feet, grabbing for the small table by the front door to steady himself and instead pulling it over, adding Cowley's scotch to the various unpleasant odors already on his person, while the tabletop contents scattered across the once clean floor.
Murphy made a vain attempt to right the table and collect the glass and glasses that had tumbled off.
"Leave it," Cowley said sharply, taking the agent by the arm and directing him to the pristine bathroom.
He pushed Murphy down onto the closed loo seat and collected towels and his own towelling robe, setting them on the lid of his laundry bin.
"I'll leave you then to get your things off," he said, somewhat awkwardly.
Murphy looked up, pathetic and childlike, as if he had been naughty and scolded, or knew he should have been. "Sorry, sir." He struggled with his jumper, inept and uncoordinated in his movements. It was evident he wasn't going to be able to manage anything other than twisting the garment about his neck and face and getting his arms stuck in the sleeves.
"You'd better have a damned good explanation for this, 6.2," challenged Cowley as he stripped the agent of his jumper and the polo neck beneath, tossing both filthy garments onto the floor in disgust. The smell was even riper now this close--Murphy's fouled mouth and sweat and booze-soaked skin adding to the nearly overpowering stench.
Murphy bent over in an effort to untie his boots, but was no more successful at that than he had been with the jumper. With a snort of disgust, Cowley knelt down, removed the boots and socks and then grabbed Murphy under the arms and pulled him to his feet. Murphy retched again at the movement and Cowley was gratified that the man apparently had nothing left to spew, though Murphy's breath was horrific and Cowley had to bite back his own rising bile.
He'd seen men drunk before many times--drunk and sick, but something struck him as wrong about this. Murphy was a big man, healthy, young and strong--and he was fond of his pint. It would take a lot to put him in this condition and Cowley started to wonder what this was really about.
Well, enough time for that later. For now, he set about unfastening Murphy's belt and unbuttoning the brass buttons on his skintight jeans. Young lads, tight trousers. He remembered when he wore his own trousers tight, revealing his assets, reveling in his assets and the testosterone high that seemed to be as involuntary and natural as breath itself. Virile. That's how Cowley had felt in those days. It had been a long time since he'd given those feelings purchase, or they had called for it.
With awkward tugging and much shifting, he pushed Murphy's trousers and pants down past his hips, noticing almost absently the thick cock and round testicles nested in a thatch of dark curling pubic hair. Men didn't often look at other men--it just was not done--but in the service there are few secrets or moments for privacy, regardless of intent, just as there are needs to be satisfied, alone or with others, that are part of desperate times calling for desperate measures. Cowley hadn't thought of any of that for a very, very long time. He was not sure he wanted to think about it now.
Murphy was sitting again, nude now, and had his hands on Cowley's shoulders. Cowley looked up from his position on the floor and met Murphy's eyes, both surprised and horrified at his reaction to the sick and wretched man before him. His cock twitched and he felt instantly ashamed.
Murphy seemed to be trying to fight the fugue, albeit unsuccessfully. He opened his mouth to speak, but then closed it along with his eyes as if battling vertigo, or something more onerous. Then his grip on Cowley's shoulders loosened and his head slumped against the Controller's chest.
It was then that Cowley noticed the bruising--track marks--lines along the inside of Murphy's right elbow. The injections, whatever they were, had been carelessly given, the marks bruised and raised. Not a pretty sight on so pretty a man.
Cowley gripped Murphy's arm. "Did you do this to yourself, 6.2?" He yanked on the arm to get Murphy's attention. "Did you?"
Murphy shook his head, sagging further until Cowley was forced to take him into an embrace just to keep him from falling over. "All right. It's all right. We'll sort it out." Cowley smoothed the other man's hair in a comforting gesture that would have seemed absurd to him an hour before and might an hour hence.
The agent was mumbling something unintelligible and Cowley tilted Murphy's face toward his, trying to make sense of it. Murphy was not on a case at the moment--in fact things had been relatively quiet as of late. Bodie and Doyle were on stand down and holiday wherever it was they usually went off to, and Murphy had been off as well on his own business. Perhaps this was that business. He hated to think what the lad might be involved with--legal or not. CI5 agents were a notorious breed unto themselves, looser, less structured, and less bound by social norms or restrictions. If Murphy had seen something, suspected something, Cowley had no doubt the man would have stuck his nose in, regardless of the risk.
"Who did this to you, lad? What's it about?"
There was no reply.
"All right. Let's get you cleaned up and see where we can go from there."
He led Murphy to the shower, turned on the water and pushed the man under the pulsing stream. Cowley's own clothes were getting splashed, but there was little choice to that.
Murphy stood with his back against the lime green tiles, his legs braced apart, toes digging into the mat beneath his feet. Cowley unfastened the spray hose from the wall and rinsed him off, considered handing him the soap, but decided it would be faster and more efficient to do the job himself. It didn't look as if Murphy had it in him to stand long.
He set the spray down in the tub, thumbed the water off, and then with clinical attention to detail, began to soap Murphy down. Murphy's body was firm and muscled from hours under Macklin's instruction and Towser's less than tender attentions. Genetics had blessed him with strength and beauty, high cheekbones and useful, yet pretty hands. Cowley tried not to notice any of this, tried to keep his mind on the job at hand, tried to respect both himself and Murphy. He hesitated at the genitals, but went ahead, soaping quickly, yet carefully, and then called the job done, rinsing away the soap, even rinsing out Murphy's mouth before he shut the shower off once again.
Murphy slumped onto the edge of the tub, accepted the proffered towel and then immediately dropped it, fumbling to pick it up again. Cowley sighed with resignation and began to dry him, settling the towelling robe about Murphy's shoulders.
Unless looks were deceiving. Murphy seemed a bit more alert since the shower, was concentrating a bit better, and Cowley could see the glaze was dimming from his eyes and intelligence and reason returning. He looked exhausted, however, almost fragile. It was unnerving to see someone so young and hale appear so frail.
Briskly finishing off drying Murphy's feet, Cowley blotted himself dry as best he could with another towel and led Murphy from the bathroom into the flat's efficient kitchen, settling him on one of the two chairs at a small table Cowley used for his own meals.
"We'll get some tea in you and see how that does." Cowley moved with ease about the tidy room, putting on the water, finding the tea and getting the tea tray set up.
Cowley looked up, surprised at the clarity and expecting the weariness in Murphy's voice.
"Thank you, sir. For all this. For taking me in when I was such a mess." Murphy rubbed his face with his hand.
"You're still a mess, lad, but improving." Cowley knew he should be angry at the interruption--angry that Murphy couldn't handle this problem on his own, angry that he had probably brought trouble to Cowley's door--but at the same time, he was strangely pleased and gratified that the agent had sought him out, had trusted him, had thought him a peer. Since the war and since taking on CI5, Cowley's life had been regimented, lonely actually, despite the regular and enjoyed game of golf, consorting with ministers and the periodic lunch or dinner at the club.
There was a man inside that critical, all-business shell who had known what it was like to have a pint with the other lads at the local, to talk for pleasure, to socialize in the company of those who wanted nothing more than his company, to have value not imposed by the authority of his office.
He glanced over at Murphy, meeting the man's uncomfortable and troubled gaze. "It's all right, 6.2."
Murphy nodded, though the relief didn't make it to his eyes. "Sir...I need to tell you...."
"Whatever it is, it will keep, 6.2. Won't it?"
Cowley nodded. Now the relief in Murphy's eyes seemed to be real. It was a start--get the lad calmed down and then try to make sense of it. Cowley busied himself with a tin of biscuits to cover the trembling of his hands.
Cowley stirred several large spoonfuls of sugar into Murphy's tea and then passed the mug across the table to him along with the plate of biscuits.
"Ta." Murphy sipped at the hot tea, cupping the warm mug with his hands. It appeared to Cowley that he was working up the nerve to say something. Cowley let him be, turning his attention to his own tea, stirring it slowly.
"My cousin runs a pub in Soho..." said Murphy suddenly. And then he paused and looked up, obviously waiting for some reaction from Cowley. A pub in Soho likely meant a gay pub.
Cowley raised his eyes from his tea mug and nodded, bidding Murphy to continue.
"He's had some problems there. The trade can get a bit rough, but that he can handle--they're randy lads, but mostly don't mean any harm. But there's been drugs lately and he didn't want the law down on him and can't stomach that anyway."
"So he asked you to help."
Murphy nodded, slurping more of the tea. "I started to go in every now and then just to see what he was on about and then waited until I had a few days holiday and...."
"And did the job you should have had the sense to involve the police with." Cowley could not hide his exasperation.
"The coppers aren't actually keen on helping out a pub in that part of town," Murphy said defensively, warming to the topic as the caffeine and sugar hit his system. "Nor welcome. I said I would see what I could find out. I didn't promise anything."
"So you started taking drugs? Even you know better than that, 6.2. What is it?"
Murphy paused with the mug half way to his mouth, his eyes hardening. "I'm no fool, sir. It's only a mix of powders that an old chemist friend helped me fix up--so I could go along with the lads. It's a mild stimulant. But that's it."
"Then you weren't drugged tonight? That was all the result of too much liquor?"
"I didn't do any drugs deliberately, no, sir, but I think someone slipped me a mickey. I need to go back. I need to find out what's really happening. But I need back-up this time." Murphy leaned forward earnestly. "I thought you might...."
"You thought wrong, 6.2. I have no intention of allocating any department resources or otherwise becoming involved in this absurd scheme of yours."
Murphy took a deep breath. "I sort of promised, sir. The lads seemed like they might be catching on to me, wanted more from me than I was willing to give.... I told them I couldn't get involved, that I was involved with someone...."
"With me? You told them you were involved with me?" Cowley was incredulous. "Dammit man, what kind of irresponsible...."
"Not you per se, sir, but that I had a good thing with an older man. That I couldn't risk fouling that up."
"Why on earth would you even think of that?"
"I thought you should be involved, sir. I think this goes high up--not just a little drug scheme at a pub. One of the lads is a cabinet minister's son, I recognised him right off from that reception I guarded last spring."
"Ach, and you don't think he would recognise me?"
"No, sir, I don't. First off, it's not where he would think to see you, so he wouldn't be expecting it at all. And usually he's either so high or has a cock stuffed so far up his arse that he wouldn't notice any...sorry, sir."
"And just what is it you expect of me, 6.2? To corroborate your story? To fund you?" Cowley glared across the small table. "I won't become involved in drug sales, or involve our department in that."
"No, sir. I just need you to keep my cover, sir. And for back up. And in case things turn sour with that lad. And to be able to bear witness."
Cowley pushed his tea mug aside, fighting the feeling of interest that he knew he couldn't afford to have. To be involved on the street level, to actually be part of an op--even if unofficially--had a cachet, gave him a thrill he didn't expect and hadn't felt for years. Yet it was absolutely foolhardy, even the risk of being noticed going into a gay pub was more than he dared take.
Murphy leaned forward expectantly, his face a bit flushed, anxious now that he had asked his favour.
Cowley pursed his lips and was silent a moment before finally nodding. "All right, I will consider it, 6.2. Consider it, that's all," he warned, knitting his brows together. "I presume this pub of your cousin's doesn't get active until the evening?"
"No, sir. Not until later, actually--half-eight at the earliest."
"All right then. We both need some sleep. You may stay here on my couch for night and I will drop you back at your car--I presume you remember where that is--on my way into CI5 in the morning. At the end of the working day, I will give you my answer. Until then, you stay away from that pub, is that understood?"
"Yes, sir. And thank you. Really, I mean it. I am grateful and my cousin will be as well."
Cowley waved off the remark. "All right then. Enough of that. I've only promised to look into it, nothing more. Finish your tea and let's call this night done. We'll say no more about it until I make my decision."
It wasn't until mid-day that Cowley had time to think of the events of the night before, or his promise to Murphy to consider the agent's ill-conceived scheme. The morning had been consumed with phone calls, expense reports, budget requests and briefings--the minutiae and bureaucracy of running an organisation as complex as CI5. It was exhausting--sometimes overwhelming.
Permitting himself a break, Cowley sighed, tossed his glasses aside and pinched the bridge of his nose as he rose to stretch his legs. His injured leg was stiff and he groaned as he moved and put weight on it.
"Ach, even getting too old to sit behind a desk," he muttered to himself, ineffectually rubbing his thigh. It never helped to rub it, except to give him something to do--a physical placebo, but there were days when the combination of the job and the discomfort pushed him to the limits. One day--and perhaps sooner rather than later--he would need a successor. Even now an assistant would be helpful; someone he could trust to follow his orders, share his vision for the organisation. His mind roamed to Murphy and then he just as quickly shut that path down. He'd helped the man take a shower and now was thinking of appointing him deputy controller? It was absurd.
"You're going daft--losing your wits over a pretty head," Cowley chastised himself. "Deputy indeed--the man can't even look after himself properly."
Still, Murphy had seemed better this morning, Cowley allowed--his blue eyes bright and filled with humour and intelligence, his bearing confident. There had been nothing of the child-waif from the night before--Murphy was again the consummate agent--tough, capable and enigmatic.
Breakfast had been surprisingly pleasant. He and Murphy shared their tea and toast along companionable conversation at the small kitchen table, the Times open, but ignored at Cowley's right hand. They discussed sports, the upcoming general election and the new model cars--chatting as if one man had not bathed the other, touched him, washed him, offered comfort; and the other needy and accepting of it all.
Now alone in his office, Cowley could not help but think of Murphy in the shower that night before--muscled chest, heavy genitals, corded thighs--tantalising even more so for Murphy's utter ignorance of his own beauty. Cowley had dreamed about him, waking with his own cock thick and pulsing, settling the problem with a cold shower and his hand, rinsing the evidence of his misplaced lust from the green bathroom tiles. The response was inappropriate, but it was intoxicating nonetheless. Even now he felt his cock twitch and he picked up his teacup, the china rattling quietly against the saucer.
For a man who spent his days managing ministers, controlling the press and dealing with temperamental agents, this was a challenge Cowley was not equipped to meet. What had wakened in him? Where was the familiar, cautious, conservative Scot; the man he had created, the man who understood the price paid for rashness? Then again, where was the youth who had become that man?
He warred with himself, yet knew with a certainty he was loathe to admit that he wanted two things--Murphy hard and deep inside him, and to be part of the obbo the agent was running at his cousin's pub. He was just as certain both were not only out of reach, but also out of the question.
He shook his head and set the tea aside. It wouldn't hurt to make a few calls, check with a few contacts of his own, see what he could find out. Information never hurt, it could be the best way to arm oneself. And he had promised Murphy he would consider the plan, so he would. He told himself had no obligation beyond that.
The quiet rap on his door was repeated. At the second knock, Cowley glanced up, realised it was growing dark in his office and that Betty had gone home over an hour ago--it must be nearly half-six. He switched on the desk lamp and then called out a reply.
"Sorry to disturb you, sir...." Murphy poked his head into the office, but Cowley delayed before looking up. He knew it was Murphy--knew from the man's soft voice and from the scent of his aftershave, freshly applied, if Cowley was any judge.
Finishing the report before him, Cowley signed the bottom, capped his pen and returned it to his pocket, and then deliberately removed his glasses, pocketing them as well before meeting Murphy's gaze.
When he did look up he found Murphy slouched against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest, one booted foot crossed over the other, waiting patiently. Why was it that all agents tended to slouch? Cowley thought in an irrational burst of irritation--at least all the men on the A team seemed to assume that casual posture. It made them appear to be lazy, when they were anything but that. Sometimes he thought they did it deliberately to wind him up, or perhaps to deceive their prey--tigers waiting to pounce.
Murphy was showered and changed, wearing soft black cords and a short black leather jacket, a black polo beneath. The tight trousers hugged his hips, emphasized his genitals and made it appear as if the garment had been formed on his strong, slim body. Cowley felt his initial irritation slip away.
"Sit man. Sit." He gestured vaguely toward one of the office chairs, waiting until Murphy had taken his seat before speaking again, his hands folded on the desktop, his expression sober.
"I did some checking on the minister's son and the situation at your cousin's pub," Cowley began.
"Thank..." Murphy interrupted, but he could barely get a word out before Cowley cut him short.
"What I will thank you for is to not interrupt me, 6.2. I didn't do it for you, man. I did it for the department. I don't want to see us caught up in some street-level intrigue. I have a hard enough time now with legitimate projects and I do not intend to add to that."
Cowley shuffled some papers, fumbled for his glasses and retrieved them from his jacket pocket. He pulled one folder to the top of the stack on his desk and opened it, scanning the contents as he spoke. "As I was saying, I did some checking. Your hunch was a good one as it turns out. The minister is being blackmailed."
"For his son being gay, sir?"
"That's the threat, aye--to reveal that and the drug use. It even appears the lad is in on it--or at the least not objecting."
"Perhaps he thinks it's a good way to wind up his old man."
"Perhaps," Cowley allowed.
"So then they want us to pursue it?" Murphy sat forward in the chair, resting his forearms on his thighs, hands clasped loosely between them.
"The minister would be most appreciative if we could resolve the situation, or provide evidence to that eventual end, correct, 6.2."
"Then you are going to help me, sir?"
"Aye," Cowley acknowledged. He wagged a finger. "But with the full authority of our department, not as some poor man's film version of James Bond. That means we plan this ahead of time instead of rushing in half cocked."
Murphy raised an eyebrow at the word choice, a grin escaping.
He was charming, Cowley thought, as the agent hid the smile with a cough. Disarming and charming. Cowley coughed himself, to conceal his own reaction to Murphy's appeal and the inadvertent Freudian slip.
"Yes, well, enough of that. I estimate we have two hours to develop a solid plan."
"Yes, sir--the floorshow isn't until near nine."
"Floorshow?" Cowley glanced up sharply. "I don't recall you mentioning a floorshow, 6.2. What other details have you left out?"
Murphy had the good grace to look contrite. "Sorry, sir, bad choice of words. There's no floorshow. I was just...sorry, sir."
Cowley glared. "I expect you at your best for this operation, 6.2--is that understood? I want no cock-ups."
Murphy chortled, then coughed, then choked.
Hunching over his desk, Cowley busied himself with the folder, tidying the papers inside. He was not about to let on that the remark was deliberate--he could wind them up as well as the next man. He surreptitiously looked over his glasses and watched as Murphy pulled himself together.
The agent's face was flushed, his breathing a bit heavy. He was gazing at Cowley through dusky eyelashes when suddenly recognition lit his face. "You were having me on, sir...."
"That's for me to know, 6.2." Cowley tapped his finger along side of his nose.
Approval, surprise and respect were reflected in Murphy's earnest blue gaze. Cowley wondered if it was possible to be smitten more than once in the same day by the same man.
Murphy cleared his throat. "I wondered, sir...since you're helping me out...could I buy you dinner? You did say we need to plan."
Cowley raised an eyebrow, managed to conceal his very real interest and simply nodded his assent. "That would be acceptable, 6.2."
"As I told you, I made some inquiries about the minister's son--Elliot is the lad's name." Cowley paused and took a sip of the cabernet, savoring the dense, full flavor. It was a good accompaniment to the excellent steak tartar. Despite Murphy's generous offer, they had ended up at Cowley's club. Cowley kept extra clothing there and wanted to change before they went to the club, so it handled both problems.
Murphy wiped his mouth and drank a deep swallow of lager. "Winchell. Elliot Winchell. At least that's what he goes by...."
Cowley nodded. "Correct. Winchell is his mother's name. He used it while at Harrow. Apparently that's where some of this mischief started. It continued on while he was at university and has got more serious as of late."
"Since he started hanging out in gay pubs in Soho."
Cowley raised an eyebrow. "Since he became more public, aye. And since he got a new boyfriend." Cowley reached to the floor and pulled the file folder out of his briefcase, setting it on the table and using one hand to flip through it for a photo. He pushed the picture across the table to Murphy.
The photo was of two young men sunning themselves on some unidentifiable private beach. One of the men was nude, lying on his back, head cosied in his arms. The other, wearing impossibly small Speedos, had a generous erection that made the swim trunks all the more revealing. Both lads were tan, fit, and unmistakable on the blanket beside them was a variety of drug paraphernalia, casually displayed and obviously used. Both men looked languorous, intoxicated by the heat or as a result of the drugs, or both.
"This was earlier this year, in the south of France at a friend's villa," advised Cowley.
Murphy peered at the picture and feigned a wolf whistle. "It looks like they were having a good old time of it."
"Aye, too good a time."
"This other lad with Elliot, he looks familiar..."
"He should, 6.2." Cowley nodded approvingly. "He's Matthew Kent."
"The arms dealer's son." Murphy shook his head and pushed the photo back to Cowley. "He's lost the beard and moustache, and is a blond now, but the eyes are the same. Winchell picked bad company. Kent is into some nasty things. He's got form longer than my arm."
"Indeed. A poor choice of companion for young Winchell."
"So it's Kent who's directing the blackmailing scheme, then."
"Aye. The scheme started as a way for Winchell to get at his father--but the extortion has been escalating. As you might guess, young Elliot and the minister have a less than easy relationship."
"What about the drugs?
"Winchell apparently had some trouble with drugs while at university, so he was susceptible. It was removed from his official records...."
"Typical," interrupted Murphy, knife and fork mid-air, giving a moment's respite to the lamp shank on his plate. He waved the silver. "And we're supposed to protect these idiots."
"Protect, aye, for the public safety--but not take responsibility--that young Mr. Winchell will have to do on his own. We will help him see his way out of this, but only because it may also benefit CI5 in the long run."
Murphy raised a quizzical eyebrow. "Benefit? How so, sir?"
The minister is very influential, 6.2. According him this favor may give us a very powerful and valuable ally."
Murphy raised his glass of lager and leaned across the table. "Well then, to a successful alliance, sir."
"Aye." Cowley clinked his wine glass to Murphy's. "To a successful fry."
"And, to our new alliance as well," Murphy added with a wicked grin and a flirting wink, lifting his glass once more. "Always did want to be a kept man. Only please, be gentle with me, sir. You'll be my first--controller, that is...."
Cowley choked on his wine, sputtering wildly, and capturing the attention of the maitre'd who quickly signalled for the waiter and a glass of water.
Alternating between glaring at Murphy and fits of coughing, Cowley reassured the club staff that not only was he going to live, but that he did not require their very kind assistance.
Across the table, Murphy chuckled quietly and finished off his drink.
The gentleman's salon and changing suite was spacious and well-appointed. It was a slow night and well past the dinner hour, so Cowley and Murphy had it to themselves. Cowley was in the shower room, rinsing away the detritus of the day, while Murphy lounged in one of the leather chairs in the ante-chamber, a brandy in his hand, long, lean legs crossed at the ankle, blue eyes hooded and nearly closed. Classical music played quietly over the room's speaker system, harmonising with the sound of the water falling from the showerhead onto the terrazzo tiles below.
Cowley ran the bar of soap across his chest, under his arms, around his neck...he worked up a lather in his hands and cleaned his belly and then dropped to his groin, fingers finding a familiar path through the tangle of sandy curls. His cock was half-hard and had been all evening--a reaction to the excitement of the operation and the sexually electric presence of Murphy, all tight cords and attitude. If the agent wasn't openly flirting, then Cowley had been out of circulation far too long. Man or woman, interest was usually clear, and Cowley sensed interest. It intrigued him as much as it thrilled.
It had been years since he had had a sexual encounter at all; decades since that partner had been a man and that mostly groping and panting, although he had fornicated with one man. It was a Sergeant during the early days of the war. He was a pretty man, but a blond, and a Scot like himself. Short and stocky, he lacked the cool and elegant lines of Murphy, but was still, a good chap. They had spent the night in an abandoned farmhouse while waiting for the rest of their squad to parachute in the next morning, found a stash of wine that was not broken or soured, drank enough to loosen their inhibitions and then drank enough to eliminate them.
Cowley still remembered the feel of his cock driving into the man's arse, the sound of his partner's orgasm, the sound and power of his own. There was something about that experience, about being with a man, about not having to worry about the formalities or the afters, that had been incredibly freeing.
His hand reached down automatically to his cock, thick now just from the thought of those days.
"Need a hand?" Murphy leaned indolently against the wall opposite the shower, eyebrow raised.
Cowley hastily shut off the got and reached for the towel he had left ready on the hook. Murphy snatched it away, waving it teasingly on one finger as he advanced.
Then, abruptly, and with a gentlemanly flourish, he proffered the towel, bowed slightly and sauntered out of the shower room. It was all Cowley could do not to rush after him and nail his blasted hide to the wall. Instead, he pushed the towel back onto the hook, turned the got on again and stepped back under the water to lather and wash his hair. He be damned if he'd let that insolent tease get the better of him. If it was a dance Murphy wanted, then a dance he would get.
Cowley surveyed his naked image in the mirror, stepping forward a pace to wipe the steam from the glass. He was alone in the changing room, door closed and locked [bolted?] to prevent any unexpected company.
On first review, Cowley decided he was in moderately good form--lean at least, although his skin showed the sag that marked aging, fit or not. He turned to the side and drew back his shoulders, pushing his chest out and standing straight, at attention, sucking in his stomach; time for a closer examination. His arms were fleshier than he wanted; there used to be more muscle there. And his chest lacked the firm smoothness of youth. He relaxed abruptly and shook his head.
"Ach! You're a dammed vain fool, George Cowley. You won't be young again and that's that. You're not the saddest specimen I've seen, but you could be better. And this game leg doesn't help either."
He slapped the thigh of his bad leg and momentarily traced the faded scar that marked the bullet entry site. It hurt in the cold and damp, which meant most of the time given London weather. It was too near the main artery to risk removal, they had told him, so he kept it as a war prize, along with the slight limp.
The reactions of the women he had been with since that event were as varied as the women themselves: pity, curiosity, even disgust. Battlefield surgical units did the best they were able, but their concern was saving the patient before them and moving on to the next--triage, little more. By the time Cowley had been rotated home for further care and rehabilitation, the hard long puckered scar had become part of the topography of his limb.
With a sigh and one last furtive glance in the mirror, he began to dress: pants, socks, trousers, a fresh shirt, a gray-green jumper over that and finally, his shoes. It wasn't high style, but it would have to do. He picked his jacket off the hanger, unlocked the door and stepped out, half expecting to see Murphy waiting for him, glass to the door listening for signs of life, but the agent was nowhere to be seen.
Cowley tossed his wet towel into the laundry bin, stowed his shaving kit in his locker and shut the door, pocketing the locker key along with his wallet. He had made sure to get an expense advance earlier that day--as Murphy's "benefactor" he expected to fully finance their evening at the pub, whatever interesting and unusual amusements came their way.
He stepped out into the anteroom and stopped dead in his tracks. There was Murphy, sprawled bonelessly on the leather settee, pillows stolen from the window seat cushioning his head, his feet up on the armrest, boots crossed at the ankle. His brandy glass sat empty on the floor next to him. He was snoring softly. Cowley was mesmerised; Murphy was quite simply stunning.
Cowley crossed the carpeted room on silent feet and stopped beside the couch, admiring the man before him. He reached down for Murphy's glass and brought it to his nose, savouring the scent of the brandy. Then he put it to his lips, put his mouth where Murphy's mouth had been, a kiss by proxy. He had to force himself not to bend down and press his lips to those of the sleeping man, yet he could not help but slip his fingers through the soft silk of Murphy's dark cap of hair.
Murphy stirred at the contact, stretching and opening his eyes just as Cowley pulled his hand back. Cowley looked quickly away, setting the brandy glass on the side table and stepping to the window, as if something interested him there. Murphy blinked rapidly and eased to a sitting position, hands loose between his knees. For a moment, neither man said a word, nor needed to.
What was happening here? Cowley wondered, gazing blanking out the window to the lush club garden beyond. He was experienced enough and cynic enough to understand this was not love, at least not reciprocated, and probably not at all. Lust, then, but lust was too simple and this was far more complex. Just some reenactment of lost youth? But that did Murphy a disservice, for the attraction was very real, and mutual, or so it seemed.
He felt the light touch of hands on his shoulders and a face pressed into his hair, the pressure of thighs to his legs, hips to his rear. He leaned into it, felt it fade away, wondered if it had happened at all. He would have thought not, save for the musky scent of Murphy's aftershave lingering close in the air.
They had agreed to leave Cowley's car at the office and take Murphy's assignment from the CI5 car pool. The gold Ghia was sportier and flashier than Cowley's staid vehicle, and it made sense that Murphy would drive, not his benefactor. Cowley had not been down to this part of Soho for years, not since a case had taken him here to check out evidence. It looked seedier than he remembered, as did those who frequented the area. As he and Murphy stepped from the Ghia, Cowley wonder idly if the car would still be there when they returned.
Murphy's cousin's pub was not unlike its counterparts in the district, except it was cleaner, the glass not cracked or broken in the front window, the pavement swept, and the paint fresh on the sign which read simply, and ironically, Queens Arms. There was noise coming from inside, chatter and music, which intensified as Murphy opened the door and moved aside to allow Cowley to enter first.
The thing Cowley initially noticed was the wide spread of ages in the pub. He had expected to be the only man over fifty and found himself one of several, with a few customers even older than him. The youngest patron was probably too young to be legally drinking, not that it appeared to stop him, or the others near to his age. Apparently Murphy's cousin drew the line at drugs, but was casual with anything else. It was no wonder the man didn't want the police involved--he would not be keen for their kind of attention.
They threaded their way toward the back of the pub. A small dance floor was arranged on one side, opposite the bar itself, and a few men moved about there, slowly dancing to music from the juke box, bodies entwined, hips grinding against one another, hands tucked down trousers or slipped up shirts to reach bare flesh. It was erotic to watch, like a floorshow--maybe that's what Murphy had really meant. There seemed to be little inhibition as lips met and tongues teased, but Cowley saw nothing outright lewd--everyone was clothed and there were normal activities underway as well as the dancing. A darts competition was in progress--two teams battled it out for victory with other patrons cheering on their favourites, and for the most part, the men just sat about at tables, drinking and chatting up their prospective partners for the night.
As they found a quiet table near the back, Cowley noticed a doorway leading from the rear of the main pub floor. He shrugged toward it and raised a questioning brow.
"It leads upstairs," Murphy advised quietly, pulling out a chair for Cowley and then leaning his hands on the back of another, hips canted. "It's the private rooms, I mentioned--where the nasty business has been going on. We'll need to go up there later, but for now, what will you start with, something pink and frothy with an umbrella and a fruit pick perhaps?"
A teasing glint in Murphy's eyes told Cowley he was being wound up. "A cocktail would be lovely, yes--as long as it's pure malt scotch and nothing else," he threatened.
Murphy's chuckle lingered as the agent headed to the bar. A grin crossed Cowley's lips. This felt oddly like a date. His blood was tingling and his head felt a bit light. He watched as Murphy leaned into the bar, long legs behind him, arse in the air, and ordered their drinks, pulling out the thick wad of bills Cowley had reluctantly suppliedprovided on their drive over.
"I've made sure I am well fit to meet expenses this evening," Cowley advisedinformed Murphy..
"Hand it over, sir."
"I beg your pardon?" He glanced at Murphy's outstretched hand and open palm. "And I'll thank you to keep your hands and mind on the road, 6.2."
"Yes, sir. But give me the money. It would be expected that I would take care of things for you."
Cowley eyed him and then sighed. "I presumed that as benefactor, I would be expected to pay...."
"You are, sir--to fund it, that is--and me."
And so Cowley had complied, although grudgingly, passing across half of what he had withdrawn, keeping the rest, just in case.
Now Murphy peeled off several bills and pushed them toward the bartender, making a show of the cash wad and nodding toward Cowley as the source of the funds. Was this Murphy's cousin, he wondered? There was no resemblance as far as he could see. It all made Cowley feel slightly uncomfortable, too much in the public eye, and a bit pathetic, although the attention was the only goal.
He watched as Murphy slowly manoeuvered his way back to their table, stopping or being stopped by those he knew or wanted to know him. Not just one hand found it's way onto Murphy's arse and each time that that happened he gestured to Cowley, who began to wonder about his own role in this whole scheme--if he was really there on a case or was just the entertainment for the evening. Most likely it would turn out to be both, even if the latter was just a by-product of the first.
Murphy set the drinks down. For Cowley, a single malt scotch, up, no rocks--the controller nodded approvingly and took a small sip. He examined the amber colour of the liquor for a moment and then examined his new partner even more closely, waiting until Murphy was seated and had taken a healthy swallow of his own drink, Irish whiskey by the look of it.
"You seem to be very popular here, 6.2," noted Cowley, managing a casual tone. "Just how much time do you spend in this pub?
"It is my cousin's place, sir."
"Aye...." Cowley took another sip of scotch, quietly observant while a new arrival waved and signalled to Murphy, who coughed and shook his head no at the open invitation to dance.
"I take it, then, you are a regular?"
Murphy shrugged. "Often enough, I suppose. I know some of these lads from other...well, I know them."
Murphy's body tensed.
Cowley waved his hand lightly. "I am making no judgments, lad, just commenting."
"If you say so."
"I have no objection if you dance with your friends."
"Why should I?"
"I presume I trust you--in my role as benefactor."
"No reason not to."
"No. No reason at all."
Murphy was silent and Cowley alternated between studying his drink and observing the growing crowd in the pub. He was startled when Murphy next spoke.
"Why don't you dance with me?"
Now it was Cowley's turn to sputter. "I beg your pardon?"
"Dance with me. It will be a slow song. It will cause a bit of a stir, let folks know we are here and what the score is with us. We're not going to get attention sitting back here in the corner--and getting attention was our plan, wasn't it, sir?"
Cowley pursed his lips. "Aye. Although why I ever agreed to.... Aye." He downed his drink in one swallow, rose and led Murphy onto the floor.
The trio of lights above the small dance area pulsed red and gold, fading from one to the other, exuding a heat that was intensified by the dancers below. The song coming from the jukebox was slow and smoky. Cowley had hold of Murphy's hand and pulled him closer, slipping one hand under Murphy's jacket against his back, sliding the other down to Murphy's hip. He felt Murphy's hands ease down to rest on his arse and a gentle tug as he was drawn in.
They moved together, slowly. Their feet hardly changed position; it was just their hips swaying, grinding together. Cowley thought it would be more tiring than it was, but Murphy's arms were strong and supportive, so he had only to stay on his feet and rock gently to and fro.
"Kiss me," whispered Murphy, leaning his head down.
Cowley inhaled sharply and then tilted his face and met his lips to Murphy's, Scotch meeting Irish whiskey. His cock was hard now and he could have been in front of the PM for all he cared. No one knew him in this place--not beyond his role as Murphy's benefactor--nor would they. He experienced a freedom and exhilaration he had dare not contemplate. Murphy's tongue sought his mouth and he opened to let it in, his heart racing as their tongues tangled. He could have taken the agent right then and there on the floor, sodomised him in public view. Only Murphy's murmured "easy" calmed him back.
They danced for nearly an hour, falling into a comfortable rhythm that surprised Cowley for its easy, natural feel. Each took turns leading and watching the room, aware that they were being observed at the same time. Now Murphy's hand was oddly comforting on Cowley's back as the pair threaded their way across the room to their table for a much welcome break.
Once again, Murphy collected their drinks and brought them to the table. Once again, he made a show of the roll of cash. And once again, he was groped as he returned from the bar. However, it appeared to Cowley, that this time he did not linger as long on his way back.
"No sign of your lads," Cowley observed as he accepted the drink.
"Anytime, I would expect." Murphy was sitting facing the door and could see whoever came in.
Cowley scanned the room. Things had heated up as the evening progressed. Two lads at a table near the dance floor were sharing a chair, face to face, one in the other's lap. He watched as they rose, untangled, and hand in hand slipped outside. Another pair was leaning casually against the wall, ostensibly watching the darts game--but Cowley could see a hand shifting against a groin, and the glitter of a zipper as it moved and was caught in the light. The man giving the hand job stepped closer to his partner and blocked the view below the waist, but it was clear from the expression of the man pinned to the wall that he was very near orgasm. Cowley watched absorbed as the man climaxed, a mesmerised voyeur.
He heard the scraping of a chair as Murphy slid closer, and then felt fingers fumbling at his own flies. Involuntarily he spread his knees and then realised what was about to happen.
"Are you insane, man?" he hissed.
The fingers eased off the zipper, but continued to stroke. Cowley shuddered.
"They're here," Murphy whispered, nodded his head toward the door. "They came in about five minutes ago. They've already been told you're here. It's time for the floorshow."
Murphy's breath was on Cowley's throat, his hand stroking his cock. Cowley could barely think, let alone remember why they were in the pub, who their prey was, and why he should care. Think, man. He forced himself to focus and with only a second's hesitation, pushed to his feet, shoving Murphy away, toppling his chair as he stood. He was shaking with anger.
"From now on, you wait until you are invited," Cowley growled loudly, reaching for his drink and tossing the amber liquid in Murphy's face.
A hush came over the club as Murphy rose, scotch dripping from his handsome chin, hands fisted at his side, gaze murderous. Cowley met his glare, challenge for challenge, cockfight, neither man giving ground. Gradually Murphy's hands relaxed, though it was apparent to those watching that he was still barely under control.
Reaching across the space between them, Cowley swiped his finger across Murphy's liquor-soaked lips, and then brought his hand to his mouth and sucked the finger in, making a show of cleaning it off. He reached into his pocket and drew out a handkerchief and, after carefully cleaning away the mess he had made, he took Murphy's hand and drew it to his mouth, gently kissing the knuckles. Murphy breathed in sharply.
"Forgive me?" Cowley asked, caressing Murphy's palm. At Murphy's grudging shrug and nod, Cowley smiled, twined their hands and led the agent from the table, into the back hallway and up the steps, the pub chittering with gossip behind them.
As they got part way up the steps, Cowley paused, gripping the handrail. His knees were shaking. So much for the daring agent on a live operation, he thought with disgust. Old fool. He'd have wet himself if had gone on much longer. Controller, yes, actor and agent, no. Better to leave that to a younger man. And worse, after that tortured effort, he had no idea if their now seemingly idiotic plan had even worked.
"They've noticed," Murphy whispered, satisfying Cowley on that score. "Keep moving."
The upstairs was decidedly seedier and less kempt than the floor below. Four doorways went off the dimly lit narrow central hallway, two on each side. They passed the first room; the door was open. Three men in various stages of undress were engaged in just as various acts of sex on a ratty looking mattress on the floor. Cowley watched as one of the men, trousers around his ankles, pumped forcefully into the arse of a second, who was masturbating while engaging in fellatio with the third. The sounds the trio were making were brutish and Cowley wasn't sure if it was the setting, the men, or the acts that made it all seem so sordid.
Murphy tugged his hand and Cowley moved on, feeling like Alice in a bizarre and twisted Wonderland, wondering when the Mad Hatter was going to pop out, or the Queen of Hearts to lop off his head.
The second room was empty even of a mattress, but it didn't stop a youth from sodomizing an older man against the wall, pumping the man's cock with his hand as he pumped into his arse. The man was naked, his skin fleshy and loose and there was a roll of fat about his middle. The youth's face was spotted, his skin pale, and his expression disinterested. He made encouraging sounds to the man--giving him his money's worth? Cowley wondered. It was grotesque. Is that how he appeared to Murphy when the agent saw him in the shower?
A gentle pressure on his back urged him forward. They quickly bypassed the closed third door in what Cowley was starting to consider a chamber of horrors and went on to the fourth. It was open. A dilapidated settee was pushed against one graffitied wall; several chairs in various states of disrepair faced it. There was a small scarred table between the couch and the seats and drug paraphernalia sat a top that: obviously-used needles, a bag of white powder, a smaller cooker. A short, thin man about ten years past Murphy's age stood behind the chairs, out of the light of the hallway, blowing smoke from his cigarette through an open window. As Cowley and Murphy entered, he stepped forward and peered at them.
"Ah, there's my lad. Wondered if we'd see you this evening. And this must be the big man himself." Flicking the cigarette away, the drug dealer approached them and Cowley had to fight an irrational urge to take one step back for each one the man took forward.
"Looking for a bit of relaxation, then?" The man asked, smirking. "You usually bring your own stash, blue eyes. Don't tell me you left the house unprepared?"
"Actually, we were looking for a private party, but I see you're having a quiet night." As he spoke, Murphy glanced about the room--looking for what, or who, Cowley didn't know, until he noticed a standard mattress and bed against the far wall, currently not in use.
"I might be able to round up some willing company for you," the man told them. "Assuming you're paying for the party favours?"
"Oh, we're paying all right," interjected Cowley. "As long as the company is young and pretty." He slid his hand down to cup Murphy's arse. "I think you can tell what I like. Just not too young, if you don't mind. Paedophilia has never been a particular interest of mine."
Cowley and Murphy were left alone in the room and Cowley took the opportunity to test a sample from the bag of powder on the table. He wet his finger and touched the powder, bringing it to his tongue. "Ach, this is just speed, not worth our effort," he said with disgust.
"Kent will have the hard stuff with him," Murphy assured him. "They'd never leave anything that good in a room here. Are you ready for what comes next?"
Cowley took a deep breath. Ready? He had no idea if he was ready. No idea if any of this would come down as they planned and hoped. No idea what the events of this day--and night--would do to him, what personal agonies it would cause him. Ready? He exhaled and nodded at Murphy. "Aye, lad, I am ready as I can be."
"We should make ourselves comfortable, then."
They headed across the room to the bed. Cowley tried not to notice how filthy it was, the sorry excuse for bedding, the dirty pillow. He sat down gingerly.
"Sorry, sir. Pretty nasty, isn't it? Lucky for us we won't be staying."
Cowley felt the bed sag as Murphy sat down next to him and he offered no resistance as the agent pushed him onto the coverlet and slipped his hand to Cowley's groin. He felt his flies being opened, the slight chill of air on his genitals, his cock rise, the touch of Murphy's soft mouth, and the agent's fingers reaching down to cup his testicles. The groan that escaped was his own, he realised as Murphy's tongue stroked the length of his erection. He pumped his hips, wanting this so badly he felt he might beg for it.
Mercifully, voices and footsteps in the hallway brought the reality of their situation home again and his cock began to contract. He caught Murphy's eye and soft "now, sir," and just as the voices arrived at the doorway, he made a bravo imitation of man reaching climax, jerking his groin toward Murphy's mouth, crying out loudly with every bit of grammar school acting ability he could muster.
"I see you wasted no time," snickered one of the voices.
Murphy made a big premise of swallowing, swiped the back of his hand across his mouth, and then quickly did up Cowley's trousers.
"We got tired of waiting for you, didn't we," Murphy replied calmly, helping Cowley shift to a sitting position on the bed.
Cowley wondered when he had felt dirtier as he looked up to find Kent and Winchell staring down at him, some kind of sick gratification reflected in Kent's eyes, Winchell's simply drug-glazed. He felt dirtier yet by his own response to Murphy in this very public and foul place. He was not particularly squeamish, but neither was he an exhibitionist--or he hadn't been. He testicles ached from the sexual tension of the night and he had to force himself not to reach down to adjust and rub them. But he also knew that if he didn't get release soon, the discomfort would begin to own him. He wondered if Murphy felt the same. He wondered how he could not.
"We understand you're in the market for a private party," said Kent. It was clear the drug dealer was going to do all the talking.
"Aye, but not here." Cowley stood and gestured about, his grimace expressing his distaste. "This room is well below my standards. I have a flat in the West End--our...party...will be more...comfortable...there, I believe."
Kent frowned. He was man used to calling the shots.
Reaching a hand over to still Murphy, Cowley went on the offensive. "It matters little to me. If you are not interested, I'm sure there are others downstairs who are willing to meet our needs." He shrugged. "Of course, you will lose whatever it is I would have spent with you on party favours. But again, I am sure there are those downstairs who would accommodate us there as well."
The drug dealer wavered and then he also shrugged. "Sure, why not. I guess an old queen and his Nellie aren't likely to be the coppers, now are you?" His voice and eyes hardened at the last comment, a clear challenge. "And you wouldn't want to cause trouble anyway, not after I just watched your Nancy boy give you a blow job."
"Trust us or not," replied Cowley, "but my patience is nearing it's end."
Winchell whispered something to Kent, who raised an eyebrow at the comment, grinned sardonically and nodded. "All right, then. We're in. Lead on."
Here we go, thought Cowley. Time to find out if this was all worth it.
The flat was one of CI5's safe houses and ideal for their little sting operation. Kent and Winchell opted to come in their own vehicle, following the gold Ghia the short distance and then splitting off to find a parking space, the four to meet at the flat. The drive gave Cowley and Murphy a much-needed chance to regroup.
"Remember, 6.2, it is not our job to make any arrests tonight--we merely obtain sufficient evidence on Kent to force him to end his extortion of the minister, and to cease his drug dealing at your cousin's pub."
Murphy snorted. "In other words, we make a deal."
"We do what is expedient in this case," retorted Cowley, more sharply than he intended. He was tired and the evening was wearing. "I'm sorry, 6.2. It's been a long night. I was under the assumption this was the outcome you wanted."
"Yeah, it is." Murphy sighed and scanned about for a parking spot. "I'm just used to having a bit broader authority."
"You're lucky we've any authority at all. If Winchell wasn't the minister's son, I don't think I could have helped you."
Murphy eased into a parking space. "Not in an official capacity, you mean."
"Not in any, 6.2. I risk the entire department with my actions."
"That didn't seem to bother you earlier," observed Murphy dryly, down-shifting the gears and turning off the ignition.
"Should anything have come of our little performance, it was sanctioned, and that prior approval goes a long way to dispelling any gossip."
"Meaning you can officially slap a 'D-Notice' on the whole thing."
Cowley pushed open his car door. "Meaning just that, 6.2."
"It might not stop someone from sharing what they saw with their hairdresser or publican."
"True, but then that is hardly public, now, is it?"
They walked up the road from the car, surreptitiously checking the flat numbers as they went. "This is it," Cowley announced, turning up the steps with scarcely a moment's pause, for all appearances, a man coming home after pub closing with his mate. He fumbled in his pocket for the keys, found them, and unlocked the door.
The flat was not sumptuous, but it was respectable--a place they might keep a visiting dignitary if they needed him safe in the city. Mostly importantly, they knew it was secure. It was home turf, and here they had the advantage, and the monitoring equipment they would need.
Above anything, Cowley was desperate for a drink and he eyed the liquor tray greedily. The second round in the pub had gone nearly untouched when their prey arrived and the first was too far in the past to be of much good. Yet, their first obligation to was to check the flat and get set-up, and quickly, before Kent and Winchell arrived. Murphy went down the hallway to clear the two bedrooms and bath, while Cowley did a quick sweep of the lounge and the kitchen, activating the surveillance camera from a cupboard in the hall. All was in order and they met back in the lounge just as the door buzzer sounded.
Cowley quickly poured a neat scotch and took a seat in the room's single arm chair, facing the door. Crossing his legs and relaxing back into the leather, he nodded at Murphy who opened the door to admit the pair.
Kent whistled as he sauntered in and glanced about. "Not bad. No Buckingham Palace, but you're right, it beats that squat at the Arms."
"I'm glad you approve," said Cowley with just a hint of sarcasm. "Murphy, aren't you going to offer our guests a drink? Please, have a seat." He gestured broadly and Winchell gingerly sat on the couch, setting the small case he'd been carrying on the cushion beside him.
Kent paced to the window, pushed the drape aside and peered out, then let the curtain fall back. "I'll take a GT if you have one," he said finally, sprawling on the couch next to Winchell..
"The same for me.," advised Winchell warily , easeding back back into the cushions a bit, hand protectively on the case at his side..
Murphy fixed the drinks and then perched on the arm of Cowley's chair. Cowley slipped his hand onto Murphy's thigh and let his fingers wander aimlessly, sliding toward the man's groin and away.
"So what kind of partying did you exactly have in mind?" wondered Kent, taking a sip from his glass. "Watching? Participating? Maybe a nice gang bang? I wouldn't mind sinking my cock into you, blue eyes," he said pointedly to Murphy, running his hand over his own crotch.
Cowley squeezed Murphy's thigh possessively. "Murphy is my property--and only he touches me. I want to make sure that is clear from the outset. However, I have no objection to sharing him, given the right circumstances."
"Good. Then to that end, I think we need to relax a little. Give me the case, Elliot."
"What I saw at the Queen's Arms held little interest for me," said Cowley as he leaned forward to watch as Kent unzipped the black pouch. "I hope you have brought more interesting party favours with you."
"I hope you can afford them."
Handing his drink to Murphy, Cowley reached into his jacket and pulled out his wallet, removing the thick stack of bills that he had held on to. He tossed the entire bundle onto the coffee table in front of Kent. "I believe this should cover any...incidentals."
Kent fanned the bills and then pushed them back into a neat stack. "I believe we can offer you some top-of-the-line party favours for this."
Cowley recovered his drink and took a casual sip. "To be clear, just what are we talking about?"
Kent lifted an eyebrow and then shrugged and nodded, removing two bags of powder from the case and tossing them both casually onto the table. "Your choice--confetti or streamers."
Murphy reached across and set his drink on the table, hefting the bags, one in each hand, balancing them as if he were a scale. Cowley estimated they were an ounce each--one heroin and one cocaine, he presumed, enough quantity to land both men behind bars for a very, very long time.
"May I?" Cowley gestured toward the bags and Kent nodded.
The controller waited as Murphy opened first one bag and then the other for him, and he dipped a finger in each, tipping them onto his tongue. Indeed, he had guessed correctly--cocaine and heroin, and superior quality at that.
Cowley nodded. "Satisfactory."
Kent smiled, reached for the money and pushed it into his jacket pocket. "Then let the games begin."
"Indeed," echoed Cowley, inclining his head toward Murphy. "It is time."
With a smooth motion, Murphy reached behind his back and pulled his gun from the holster at his waist, leveling it at Kent.
Cowley's smile was feral. "There are just a few more rules I need to share with you."
That the affair had concluded so easily was a bit of a surprise, but Kent knew well that he was caught out in serious trouble and had got off easily. With a little encouragement, he agreed to stop the extortion and find a new place to do business, especially after Cowley advised informed him they had been filming the entire incident, and that he would not hesitate to turn the tape over to officials should Kent fail to cooperate. With that in the balance and Murphy's gun in his face, there was little choice.
Winchell, on the other hand, was given the unhappy news that his father not only knew all about this business, but that should he fail to make significant changes in his life, his allowance would be severely reduced, if not eliminated all together, and with the next incident, publicity or not, he would be handed directly to the authorities.
Kent left of his own accord and they called a cab for Winchell and saw him off home. Now Cowley and Murphy stood alone on the steps to the flat, the evidence secured in the flat's safe for retrieval the next day, the alarms set, and an anxious tension resonating between them both.
"Sir," began Murphy awkwardly. "I want to tell you how much I appreciate this. It was a difficult evening, I know, and...."
Cowley looked up into the deep blue eyes of his agent, felt himself falling into them and stepped back. "It is late," he said. "I suggest we find your car and conclude this."
They walked in silence back to the Ghia and said little on the way back to Cowley's flat except for a mention of the lack of traffic by Murphy and one suggestion for a short cut by Cowley. The controller's leg ached. He was tired. His testicles felt like they might explode--he was sexually frustrated beyond anything he could recall. Murphy's proximity didn't help.
When they reached Cowley's flat, Murphy parked the Ghia instead of just stopping it near the door. Cowley looked over at him and raised a brow. In response, Murphy simply slid his hand along Cowley's thigh from knee to groin. "Better than your hand in the shower, sir. That is, if you don't mind...."
Cowley inhaled and then nodded. "Aye, I suppose we could both use the company."
They headed into Cowley's flat, both men a bit uncomfortable and awkward. Cowley turned on a single light on the desk and offered Murphy a drink.
"Yes, thank you." The agent took off his jacket and laid it across the back of the couch, then carefully removed his gun and took off his holster.
Cowley made the drinks and then removed his own jacket, arranging it on the back of the desk chair. He sank into the couch next to Murphy and offered up his glass. "To a successful operation."
"To a successful operation," Murphy echoed. Their glasses touched and both men took healthy gulps of the amber liquid.
Murphy set his glass aside and rested his hand on Cowley's thigh, sliding it toward the controller's groin and then bypassing that area entirely, working his fingers under Cowley's jumper and shirt to bare skin.
Cowley trembled and he was sure Murphy could feel it. The touch of Murphy's hand on his skin was incredibly erotic. His mind jumbled. "Please," he said softly, and he felt Murphy's hand on his chin, turning his face toward his. Their lips met, a hard kiss that became almost violent. He realised that Murphy was as sexually frustrated and turned on as he was--and why not? Reaching out blindly, Cowley found the coffee table and pushed his glass onto the surface, not really caring if it made it there or not.
Murphy stripped off Cowley's jumper and shirt and then his own, tossing them into a pile on the floor. Cowley felt himself pushed down into the cushions of the couch, his hands held over his head, Murphy's lips bruising his, his strong torso pressing down on him, his hips and hard cock grinding into his groin. He couldn't breathe. He didn't want to. He needed to. He gulped and gasped, pushing Murphy away so his lungs could refill.
His shoes were tugged off and then the flies on his trousers unfastened and both trousers and pants removed and discarded. Murphy's mouth worked its way down Cowley's chest, biting hard enough at his nipples to make him wince and cry out, and then a soft tongue replaced teeth and soothed. He was so utterly lost that he didn't care if he would be bruised or sore the next day, he only felt the driving pulse of his cock calling for release--a release Murphy kept denying him.
Moving lower, Murphy smoothed his lips across the old battle scar on Cowley's thigh, offering a tenderness that surprised and moved Cowley. In a way, Cowley himself was a scar, damaged and improperly healed. Murphy's gentleness to the wound was a balm to both man and skin.
He spread his legs and gasped as cold scotch was trickled onto his cock, immediately calming the erection, followed by Murphy's mouth to make it hard again, and the action then repeated with the scotch. The man was an apparent expert at sexual torture and Cowley's hands dug into the cushions as his hips bucked and begged. Cowley's emotions were raw and his drives primitive and he wanted release now.
"It will be easier in bed," Murphy whispered, and Cowley nodded and somehow led the way. Murphy was nude by the time they reached the austere bedroom, his boots, socks, pants and trousers discarded along the way. His body was hard and lean and suggestive, just as Cowley remembered it from the night before, his cock thick and jutting from black curls. Cowley knew he had been wrong--he did not want his cock in this man's arse, he wanted Murphy's hard strength driving inside of him. He lay down on his stomach on the bed and was surprised when Murphy guided him onto his side. "It will be more comfortable like this," said Murphy softly. Cowley would have believed him no matter what he said.
And now it was morning. Cowley sat and watched Murphy sleep, sprawled, relaxed, boneless. They had woken in the night to grapple with each other again. It wasn't lovemaking, it wasn't even passion, but there was a respect to it nonetheless, despite the raw power and near violence. The rocketing climax of their first encounter had left Cowley nearly unable to breathe and his arse pulsing--he wondered now if he would ever feel that kind of high again.
He fought against seeing that what they had done as sordid, against seeing what they had done as love-making; tried to understand it was no more than release when Murphy's body had tensed in orgasm, almost viciously pumping his seed into Cowley's arse, while a primal cry ripped from this throat. He wondered how he could be having such mixed feelings, why he simply could not appreciate the experience. And he knew at the same time he mourned that this would not, could not, happen again, not with this man, nor given Cowley's position, likely with any other. It was a beginning and end, a fait accompli. Still, he should be grateful, not grieving.
There was a rap at the office door. It was after hours, Betty had long gone home and only a small group of staff was on duty, those mostly in the computer room and at the front door.
Cowley smelled the musky cologne, steeled himself and looked up. Murphy stood in the doorway to the office, an ingenuous smile on his face. Cowley felt his pulse race and abruptly calmed it.
"I just thought you might want to know that my cousin says Kent and his group have shifted elsewhere. And that he decided to close off the upstairs and run a bit cleaner operation."
"Wise, I am sure. And I am gratified to know that we were successful."
"Had there been any word on Winchell?"
Cowley removed his glasses and set them aside. "Apparently he has decided to visit his mother's family in South Africa for a while. The minister was very grateful. I believe CI5 has a new ally in him."
"That's good news."
"Good news, indeed."
Cowley leaned back in his chair, a sly smile lighting his eyes. "It seems Kent was greeted by certain members of the drug squad when he tried to leave his flat the next morning. He is now in custody."
Murphy raised a inquisitory eyebrow. "Is that so?"
"Hmm. Yes, indeed. Apparently they had received a tip from a reliable source. They were quite happy to accept custody of the cocaine and heroin we collected as evidence. Young Kent will be locked up for a very long time."
"I'm glad to hear that, sir."
"I thought you might be."
"And the tape, sir?"
"The tape shall remain in my personal safekeeping in case it is later required."
"Ah. Of course."
"Was there something else, 6.2?"
The agent pressed his lips together, started to speak, but instead just shook his head. "No, sir. I just thought you would want to know about the pub, and I wanted to pass along my cousin's thanks...and mine, too, sir."
"Very well, 6.2. Carry on."
It was a long time before Cowley left for home that evening; he was not ready for the solitude of his flat. He stood watching out his office window as Murphy headed for his car, shifted his length into the driver's seat and headed off into the night. He wondered if the young ever felt as lonely as the old, or if they could. And he blessed Murphy for making him feel, if for just one night, like the man he was inside his body's aging shell.
-- THE END --
Originally published in Sidekicks, Sidekicks Press and Angelwings Press, May 2003