The sound of a ballsy roar made Griffin look out the window of his workshop in time to see a Harley Davidson sweep up outside. The rider took off his helmet and Griffin did a double take when he saw the rider was Kilroy. He relaxed his grip on the telephone receiver and got rid of his agent by the simple expedient of agreeing to everyting Piers suggested. Griffin switched off the speaker on the telephone, opened the door for Kilroy and led him into the workshop, glad John had left early.
"What's up?" asked Kilroy, setting down his helmet.
"Several things, including my blood pressure. Just let me look at you for a minute."
Dressed in black biking leathers, boots and gauntlets, Kilroy stared at him as if he had gone mad. Do you have any idea how hot this outfit is, given the heating in here?" he asked patiently.
"Not until you hum a few bars."
"Eh? Have you been drinking?"
"That's my Kit. Thick as a brick. You're the embodiment of several dark fantasies of mine looking like this. I'm going to buy you some leather trousers," said Griffin with dreamy conviction.
"There's this shop in Milan... The leather's soft and supple as a second skin and wicked as sin. They'll cup your - "
"Save your money. They make me sweat."
Griffin gave him an interested look. "You've worn them before, have you."
Kilroy gave a self-conscious twitch and took off his gauntlets.
"Never mind, you can tell me about your misspent youth later."
"Don't hold your breath. Can I take this off now, only I'm boiling?" said Kilroy, one hand at the zip of his jacket.
Preoccupied with thoughts of a shower and drink, Kilroy blinked. "Why not?"
He found himself being backed into the high-backed chair Griffin had made all those years ago. He swallowed whatever he had been about to say when Griffin dropped a cushion onto the floor at his feet and sank to his knees.
"What are you doing?" croaked Kilroy.
Griffin deftly unzipped him before looking up. "Beautiful, butch but unfortunately bloody thick," he murmured, before he bent to his self-imposed task.
Kilroy's hands tighted over the carved arm-rest, his mouth parting as he gave himself up to Griffin's care.
Hotter than ever, Kilroy was sprawled in the chair, studying the discarded clothing around his feet before he took a reviving swig of ice-cold Heineken. "Remind me never to wear black leather around you again. I've probably sweated off pounds inside this." He gestured to the open jacket, which was all he now wore, and that only because Griffin had looked so tragic when he had tried to take it off.
"I don't deserve you," murmured Griffin, rubbing his cheek against Kilroy's now bare knee, as if marking him with his scent.
"I've always wanted to be someone's bit of rough," admitted Kilroy, who was so smug he was almost purring by this time.
"Then I've just done you a favour. I didn't know you were into bikes."
"I'm not. Not really. But Chas, who was supposed to be handling the case, had a family crisis, so I took over. No-one else who was free has had any experience on a bike like this. The Harley is his."
"So it might be. Don't try and kid me you haven't had the time of your life."
"Not the least of which was my welcome home. Guilty as charged. There's a lot to be said for feeling all that power throbbing between your thighs."
Griffin sat up, all large, speculative eyes.
Kilroy shivered when Griffin delicated tongued his way up the inside of his left thigh, the brush of his hair an added torment. "Not again," he groaned pathetically. "I couldn't. I'm already a husk of my former self."
Griffin took his usual amount of notice and kept on going.
"This is the same man who lectured me about over-indulgence, isn't it?" said Kilroy. He looked as limp as his discarded leathers as he stroked Griffin's bare back.
Griffin stirred with reluctance and climbed off Kilroy onto unsteady legs. He used Kilroy's teeshirt to mop himself dry. "There's nothing wrong with a little spontaneity. Though it's lucky I made a thorough job of constructing that chair. Your complaint might be more convincing if you didn't look so pleased with yourself."
"That's right, kick a man when he's down." Getting to his feet and rubbing his thighs and backside, Kilroy straightened in a hurry. "Bloody hell! Anyone coming down the drive would have had a perfect view of us," he realised.
"Not if you remembered to close the electronic gates."
"Ah, panic over. I hope you're planning to feed me?"
"As soon as I'm dressed," Griffin promised vaguely, wearing only his shirt as he looked around.
"What have you lost?"
"Underwear, one shoe and my trousers. They can't have gone far."
Kilroy glanced up and subdued a grin. "Got a step ladder?" he asked.
"I thought you were going to work this weekend," remembered Griffin, as they finished their meal.
"So did I. But I caught the bloke red-handed as he handed over the report. One satisfied client - who settled his account on the spot, incidentally. So I'm free. Shall we celebrate in London tomorrow night?"
"Anything you say," said Griffin, with the languour of the only half-awake and thoroughly fucked.
"I knew I'd get you trained one day."
"Come closer and say that," invited Griffin, with his most untrustworthy smile.
Inevitably it was raining again when they left the restaurant on Saturday night.
"At least we've dried out from when we went in,' said Kilroy philosophically.
Aware of Kilroy's poorly concealed anticipation, Griffon wondered when he was going to be let in on the secret. He was comfortably certain that he would be at some point, if not necessarily the moment he would have preferred.
'Which car park did I use?" he asked, turning up the collar of the calf-length coat he wore.
"The NCP multi-storey. This way."
"Ah, the scenic route," noted Griffin, as they walked through the fringes of Soho. This close to midnight the back streets were virtually empty, the clubs they housed full because the heavy rain had driven people into shelter.
"Want to go in?" asked Kilroy, as they passed another flashing neon sign. A bored brunette propped in the doorway mumbled an invitation around the gum she was chewing; her goose-flesh was the same shade of lilac as the satin bustier she was falling out of.
"I'm tempted to say yes just for the pleasure of seeing your expression. But it's not worth it. Shall we see if we can book a couple of hacks tomorrow?"
"Hang about! Look, there's a sign for a tattoo parlour."
"So there is. Come on, I'm soaked. Oh, no," said Griffin in a different tone, backing away as Kilroy turned to him. "You've had almost three months. Why now, here?"
"Because," said Kilroy, advancing on him, "a bet's a bet."
"I know it is," admitted Griffin unhappily, "and I do owe you. Only...Soho? I might catch something."
"Me, if you play your cards right," said Kilroy, stalking him until he cornered Griffin in the doorway of a shabby newagent's. Standing close, his flat-palmed hands on the glass on either side of Griffin's head, he leant forward until their breath mingled. "Please," he coaxed in a velvety whisper. "For me. Call it an early Christmas present."
"I've already bought yours. I thought you'd found a tattoo parlour in Wandsworth?" said Griffin, who had been avoiding the area.
"This one's even better."
"That's like saying death by drowning is preferable to death by electrocution. The operative word is death. Why do you want a tattoo? Mark of possession?"
Kilroy brushed a bead of rain from Griffin's cheek with the side of his thumb. "In part. Badge of honour, too." He rubbed the corner of the lush mouth, which had begun to droop.
"You're manipulating me," Griffin heard himself say in a weak tone.
"And loving every second of it," admitted Kilroy, brushing the rain-wet mouth with his own. "Is it working? Say yes before a policeman comes along and catches us snogging."
"This doorway smells of pee. I must be mad letting you do this to me," Griffin grumbled, but he made no attempt to resist as he was led across the road. To his dismay the tattoo parlour was still open. Heavy rock blasted from the speakers inside the doorway. He took one look inside and drew Kilroy back onto the pavement.
"If I come out of there wearing a biker's logo, you're dead meat," he warned.
"You won't. I'll be with you all the time," promised Kilroy.
"Why doesn't that reassure me?" Griffin gave him an unconscious look of pleading.
"It's a far far better thing you do," encouraged Kilroy. "You don't have to," he added, when Griffin still did not move.
Griffin sighed. "Don't erode the few principles I do possess. A bet is a bet. Come on, let's get this over with."
Except for a cut-off exclamation soon after they entered the tattoo parlour, Griffin didn't say another word. The process didn't take as long as he had imagined it might, given the care of the tattoo artist. He was unwillingly impressed both with the standard of hygiene and the tattooist's skill as a copyist, Kilroy having come prepared.
When they emerged back on the street Griffin's expression was a mixture of pride, possession and bemusement, and Kilroy sported a small tattoo of a phoenix rampant on his right shoulder.
Oblivious to the heavy rain, Griffin followed Kilroy in a daze. He had yet to speak when they reached the second storey of the car park. Only when they stood beside his car did he catch hold of Kilroy's wrist.
"You're wearing a tattoo of my trade mark." Disbelief echoed in his voice.
"That was the general idea. I used two rolls of film photographing your carvings of it, and a small fortune on enlargements to ensure every detail would be clear enough to be copied. I hope he got it right?"
"I couldn't have done better myself. Does it hurt?"
"It smarts slightly - like mild sunburn, that's all. Let's talk in the car. It's chilly out here," prompted Kilroy, wondering when Griffin was going to emerge from his semi-trance. By the time he had walked around to the other side of the car, Griffin had unlocked it and was sitting behind the wheel, staring out of the windscreen.
"Was that what you had in mind all along?" he asked eventually.
"Of course. There's no way I would want a work of art like your bum obscured by a bloody great tattoo, whatever I might have said."
"Take off your coat and jacket for a minute, would you?" asked Griffin huskily, understanding now why Kilroy had worn only a sleeveless silk tee shirt under his jacket, despite the chill of the December day.
Kilroy did as he had been asked without a murmur of protest and flicked on the interior light.
Griffin stared at his trade mark, which had been exquisitely tattooed in a rich, deep blue which would wear better than black, and then touched it with a gentle finger. "It feels hot," he murmured, placing his lips to the spot. All he could smell was surgical spirit, but Kilroy's pale skin was pink around the area. "Was it worth it?" he asked abruptly.
Kilroy tilted the driving mirror until Griffin was reflected in it. "Take a look at your expression and ask me again. I think you're in shock. I've never seen you like this," he added, pulling back on his jacket and coat.
"I've never felt like this," conceded Griffin. Looking all eyes, he handed Kilroy the car keys. "You'll have to drive us home. My hands are shaking too much." But instead of moving over, he kissed Kilroy with a heart-catching tenderness, his mouth unsteady, his face wet with more than rain.
"I hoped you'd like it," said Kilroy, when they finally drew apart, although they were still touching.
Beginning to recover, Griffin gave him an aggravated look. "I like it. In fact I'm embarrassed by just how much I love the idea of you wearing... You realise you're stuck with me? No one else is going to want you while you're wearing my trade mark."
Kilroy's look of satisfaction spoke volumes. 'Can I take it that you're reconciled to tattoos?"
"Tonight," promised Griffin extravagantly, as he took back his car keys, "you can take anything you like." Switching on the engine, he slid into gear. The car still stationary a few moments later, he stared at the bonnet, perplexed.
A smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, Kilroy helpfully released the handbrake. "Are you sure you wouldn't like me to drive?" he said innocently.
The Jaguar leapt forward with a screech of tyres more reminiscent of a Hollywood car chase.
One of Griffin's Christmas presents to Kilroy was a felt-tip pen. Only when Kilroy noticed the inscription promising that the pen contained 'washable ink' did light dawn. While he never got round to inscribing the complete legend on the target he had designated as being the ideal spot, Kilroy had a lot of fun practising.
Written April 1991 - January 1993