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Dance Like It Hurts

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"You should put sunscreen on," Caroline said, resting her arms on the side of the hotel pool, and blinking at him.

"Not much point, really."

"Ha ha, you're about to make a clever joke about how you're not going to die of cancer, but you won't think it's funny when you're flat on your back in agony with first degree burns from getting sunburnt."

She was staring crossly at him. Her hair was plastered to her head and the tip of her nose was pink. She looked adorable. Yep, he was definitely in love.

"You should marry Guy."

Caroline stuck her fingers in her ears and waggled them about. "I'm sorry, I must have water in my ears, I must have heard you wrong, I could have sworn—"

"You should marry Guy."

Mac watched Caroline hoist herself out of the pool and flop down beside him with all the grace of a wounded seal.

"I think you'll find that's illegal." Caroline had averted her face and was twisting the ring on her finger.

"I meant...after."

"Right. Would you like me to wait a few months or just do the deed over your coffin?" she said, too calmly. "Why not, save some money. Get the minister on a two for one deal." Her voice cracked on the last word.

"I just meant…"

"And should I mention before or after the wedding that I'm carrying another man's child?" Mac stared at her chin, which was all he could see of her face. Her hair had grown out a bit, he thought irrelevantly. She'd need to get it cut soon, unless she was planning to grow it out.

Caroline was pregnant. He was distantly surprised at just how much that hurt. He was going to be a Dad after all, only he wasn't, because fate was just that cruel. And he couldn't stop the bitterness spilling out.

"What other man?" he heard himself say lightly, as though they were talking about the weather. "This isn't the whole Mackenzie thing all over again is it?" he said, hating himself even as he said it.

"Bastard." Caroline sounded close to tears.

"What do you want me to say?"

"I hadn't meant to tell you this way."

"How am I supposed to feel about this?" Mac ran his hands through his hair, slightly surprised to find they were shaking. "Am I supposed to be happy that a part of me will live on? Or, let's just say, furious that I'm apparently going to be a father and will be dead before my child is born?"

"You might not be! You're not even sick yet. You could live for years."

She sounded so hopeful. So desperate. And this was it. That thing they hadn't been talking about. His Impending Demise.

Because his symptoms had not yet started manifesting, they'd been deluding themselves. And just like that, reality came calling with a crowbar and a mean look in its eye. "It doesn't work like that in the real world, Caroline. You know that." Abruptly, the anger deserted him. He felt like he'd lost something he hadn't even known he'd wanted, and now there was a hole in him bigger than Guy's ego.

"All the more reason to marry Guy," Mac insisted, though it gutted him to say it. Guy would take care of her, provide security.

"Why, because a baby needs a Mummy and a Daddy or else it'll grow up to be a crack whore and a burden on society?"

Mac put a careful hand on her hunched shoulder, wincing when she flinched away. "No," he said gently. "Because he'll take care of you. As much as it kills me to admit it, he does love you."

"He does like children," Caroline said, picking absently at a ragged toenail. "Or he says he does." She glanced up at him from under a fringe of hair. "And he is nearly as good in bed as he thinks he is."

Mac could tell a peace offering when he heard one, and the pain in his chest eased instantly. He let out his breath in relief. "Oh, he is?" Mac cupped her face with his hand and very gently turned it towards him. He leaned in slowly, watching her eyes drift shut and her mouth part expectantly, and when he kissed her it was warmth and love and comfort and everything they talked about in those trashy romance novels that Caroline kept stashed in the bottom of her suitcase, that she read behind the sleeve of 'The Beauty Myth'.

Caroline's hands came up to clutch at his shoulders as she melted into his kiss. Mac pulled back slowly; the sounds of children squealing and splashing about in the background reminding him they were in a public place and if he did what he was tempted to do, they'd be finding themselves banged up in a foreign country on indecency charges and that would really ruin his life. What was left of it.

Caroline's eyes flickered open, and clichéd as it was, all the world was in her eyes.

"Is he as good a kisser as me?" Mac said, trying for lightness, hearing the huskiness of his voice give him away.

She blinked and her eyes cleared. "I don't think so. You should probably take me back to our room and kiss me some more though, so I can do a more thorough assessment." Caroline smiled. Evilly. "Although," she drawled thoughtfully, "neither of you are a patch on Sue White."

Mac grinned and picked up her hand and held it, just because he could. "Is it wrong that I find that arousing?" he said.

Caroline fluttered her eyelashes at him. She kind of looked like she was trying to get rid of something in her eye, but points for trying. "Play your cards right, and I might arrange a demonstration."

God, he loved her.



Boyce stuck his head into Sue White's office, really not in the mood for whatever game she felt like playing today.

She was sitting at her desk, her hands pressed together as though in prayer, with an expression of either piousness or extreme constipation on her face. Given what Martin had told him about Sue White's obsession with defecating, which, eewww, he was going to take a punt and assume she was going for piousness. Of course, the angel costume with the tacky tinsel halo precariously attached was bit of a hint too.


Sue White looked around. The halo wobbled as she turned her head. "Come in, my son." She waved majestically at the chair opposite, then waited, a serene expression on her face, until Boyce took the seat opposite. "I suppose you're wondering why I summoned you."

"You didn't summon me, I came to see you."

"Because I summoned you."

"No, you—"

"Summoned. You."

"Right, how exactly did you summon me, when I only decided to come and see you a few minutes ago?"

"With the power of my mind."

"With the…you know, never mind." Boyce took a deep breath. You never knew with Sue White. "I've come to talk to you about—"

"Have you come to confess your sins?"

"No," Boyce said, patiently. "I've come to talk to you—"

Sue White looked disconcerted. "Really?" She held up a hand. "Give me a moment." She bowed her head and pressed her fingers to her temples. The halo fell forward and then slid slowly to the side. It was hypnotising. Finally it came to rest about ear level and perched precariously in mid-air.

"I see a moustache, black hair, parted on the side…you've come to talk about Hitler?"

"I've come to talk about Dr Statham," Boyce said hurriedly.

"I knew that!" she snapped. "It was a joke. A. Joke."


"Power of ma mind."

"Okay, then…"

Sue White looked at him beadily. "I assume you've nae come empty-handed, a favour to ask of the Almighty?"

"You're NOT the Almighty," Boyce said, annoyed. He refused to be distracted by the way she seemed to be floating.

"Well, no, obviously," she agreed, and seemed to settle back into her chair. "Now, what exactly is it you want of me this time?"

"I want you to have another go at finding Dr Statham. I had a call from him a while back. It was from a public phone box. Here, take my phone." He handed it to her. "I haven't deleted the call log since."

"Hmm," Sue White purred, and stroked his phone in a truly disturbing way. He'd have to disinfect it when he got it back off her – if he got it back, he thought, watching the way it disappeared inside her skirt. In fact, he wasn't sure he wanted it back. "As it happens," she said, crossing her legs and leaning back in her chair. "As it happens, I know where Dr Statham and Joanna Clore are."

Boyce tried not to let his sudden leap of excitement show on his face. "You do?" he said neutrally.

"I do."


"Now, then, hold your horses, laddie. Ye've nae yet paid the piper."

"Well, as it happens, I have information to trade."

"Oh, really?"

"It's about Mac."

"Meh. Dr McCartney is still off on the longest honeymoon in the world with Dr Clod, if he hasn't already gone to meet his divine Maker, that is." Sue White folded her hands prayerfully again, her eyes cast heavenwards. "Which I fear may be the case. Besides, I've moved on with Chester."


"Yes, that's him."

"Anyway, how come you don't know? What happened to the power of your mind?"

"I'm afraid Dr McCartney is beyond my reach." She looked down and shook her head sorrowfully. The halo finally sank out of sight behind her. "I fear that he may indeed have passed beyond the veil."

"Well, he hasn't. He's alive, and what's more, he isn't even sick."

"I see," Sue White said calmly, nodding. She leaned towards him conspiratorially. "Do you talk to—" She pointed jerkily upwards with both forefingers. "—as well, do ye?"

"No," Boyce said patiently. "I do, however, talk to Dr Clooney."

"Who, now?"

"Dr Clooney? The neurosurgeon who treated Mac?"

"Ah, yes. Self-important little man. Likes kiddie porn."


Sue White looked shifty. "Nothing. I said, he likes…diddly…corn…"

"That doesn't even make sense. No, you just implied that Dr Clooney is a paedophile."

"How dare you impugn that fine upstanding man's name? I should report you!" Sue White reached out and tapped randomly at her keyboard.

"You didn't even know who he was a minute ago!"

"Exactly! So how could I know what he likes or doesn't like?"

"Never mind." There was no point trying to win an argument with Sue White. That way lay only madness. "The point is, I've been working with him and a bloke came in with the same name as Mac, who'd had the same tests at another hospital, only his had come back clear. When his symptoms didn't go away he came here instead. Turns out, it was all a mix-up; apparently their lab had to close for some reason for a few days around that time and their tests were being sent here, and well, to no one's surprise, we bollixed it up. Mac was never sick."

"I see. Would ye mind stepping out for a moment?" Sue White made a shooing gesture, and looked pointedly towards the door.


"I just have a wee bit of private business to take care of, that's all."

"Just tell me what you know about Alan and I'll go."

"Alan, is it?" Sue White said musingly. Boyce refused to feel self-conscious. "I'm afraid it's not that simple."

God, what was she up to? "You're not going to disappear or anything?"

"Nae, nae. I'll be but a wee minute."

"Well, all right then. But you'd better not disappear," he said, pointing at her.

She shook her head in agreement; her eyes crossed as she focused on his finger. Boyce backed towards the door. Sue White didn't move a muscle, merely continued to smile beatifically at him. Cross-eyed.

Outside, Boyce leant his forehead against the door, breathing deeply. Sue White knew where Statham was, or at least, she said she did. Inside he could hear muffled shrieking and thumping, but since it was Sue White there was no point even speculating about what was going on.

"You can come in now," Sue White called, sounding a bit breathless.

She was smoothing her hair back into a tight bun when he came in and leaned over her desk.


"Sit," she invited, pleasantly.

"No, it's okay, I'll stand."

"Sit," she said, in the same tone of voice, her expression not changing.

Boyce folded his arms and stared at her.

Sue White stared at him.

"Oh very well then, suit yourself. They're dead."

Boyce thought he couldn't have heard right. "I beg your pardon?" he said politely, wondering distantly what the roaring in his ears was.

"Well, they're half dead. Or half of them are dead. One or the other."


"Are you sure you don't want to sit down?" she asked politely. She rummaged in her desk drawer. "Sweetie?" she asked, holding out a fluff-covered toffee.

Boyce sat down. "Tell me," he said, ignoring her outstretched hand.

"No? No?" She popped the sweet into her mouth and chewed thoughtfully. "The body of Joanna Clore was found this morning washed up on a beach," she said indistinctly, then paused, apparently to try and extract a bit of toffee from her back teeth. With her tongue. With accompanying facial distortions. Boyce waited impatiently. After a moment she appeared to notice him again and visibly started. "Oh, right," she said. "Dr Statham was found shortly thereafter clinging pathetically to a buoy, crying for his mama. He's being held in custody pending an investigation into Joanna's alleged suicide."

"Dr Statham's in jail?" Boyce's heart was doing strange things. He felt oddly breathless.

"Yes indeedy! Prison. The Slammer. The Cooler." Sue White's voice had acquired an American accent. "He's gone to The Big House. He's Up the River. He's in Pokey—"

"I don't believe you," Boyce interrupted.

"Don't believe me. Believe this." She randomly hit some keys on her keyboard, and then swung the monitor around to face him with an exaggerated air of triumph.

There was a news report about the body of a woman washed up on the beach on the coast of Wales and the arrest of a man in connection with her death.

"They don't mention names. That could be anybody."

Sue White grabbed his hand and pulled it towards her. Boyce tried to pull it back but her nails dug into his skin and she was way stronger than she looked. She stared unblinkingly into his eyes. "I feel it in ma bones," she said, scarily calm.

Boyce tried to jerk away but couldn't. Then Sue White let go abruptly and he staggered back and sat down on the floor as his legs gave way.

Dr Statham – arrested. Possibly facing murder charges. It had been too much to hope for that Statham would return to him – to work – as though nothing had happened.

All Boyce could think was, Statham wouldn't last a week in prison.

Boyce's eyes were stinging. He swiped at them angrily. Statham was a silly, mean little man. He didn't know why he even cared.

"Now, is there anything else I can do for ye?" Sue White asked, sounding sympathetic. He looked up at her. The halo was back in place and she had on a saintly expression. At least he assumed that's what she was going for. The crazy eyes kind of ruined it. She was holding—

"Is that Dr Statham's pointer?"

"What, this old thing?"

"It is, isn't it?"

"No, it isn't."

"It is."




"Give it to me."


"Give it to me, or else."

"Or else what?"

Boyce lunged.

There was a brief scuffle, which somehow ended with Boyce sprawled on top of Sue White on her desk, and her panting and looking triumphant as she writhed against him, even after he'd wrested the pointer from her claw-like grasp.

He levered himself off her hurriedly, feeling dirty.

He had to go.

He turned and ran straight into—

"Oi, watch where you're going, blondie."

"Sorry," Boyce muttered. He had to get out of there before Guy said something stupid and insensitive—

"Oi, why are your eyes red?"

"Mac's not sick!"

"You what?" Guy said, successfully diverted.

"No, it was all a mistake. Ask Sue White," he said, and fled.

"I keep telling them they put too much chlorine in the pool," Guy called after him.



Mac's phone was ringing as they got back to their room.

"Speaking of the man who put the trash into Euro…" Mac held up his mobile, which was cheerfully vibrating away.

"Aren't you going to answer it?"

"I don't think so."

"It might be important."

"What could be more important than you and me, here, now, together? I suggest a rest," he waggled his eyebrows suggestively, "Then a stroll down to that café we like, pick up the packed lunch and champers I happen to have ordered, and wander down to the beach to enjoy a superlative sunset in one of the most romantic and idyllic spots in the European Union."

"How do you know the sunset will be superlative?"

"Oh, I ordered ahead for that, too."

"Awww," Caroline melted back into his arms. Mac smiled down at the top of her head, at her bird's-nest hair…no really, there were actual twigs, and how she'd managed to acquire those between the pool and their room was one of life's great mysteries.

The phone stopped vibrating.

"There, see, couldn't have been too important."

The phone started up again.

Caroline pulled away. Mac seriously considered turning the phone off. Permanently.

"I think you should answer it."

"Why, so I waste several minutes of my limited time left, listening to Guy boast about yet more of his imaginary sexual exploits. If you believe Guy, there isn't a single woman at the hospital he hasn't had, in at least two positions and I'm including old Mrs Singh in records who's 90 if she's a day, coma patients, and Tony Mitchell."

"Don't be too hard on him. His pride's been injured. After all, he thinks he's in love with me and he behaved extremely nobly – wait a minute, Tony Mitchell's a man."

"Yes, yes, now he is. Used to be Toni Mitchell, with an i. Short for Antonia."

"Really?" Caroline sounded intrigued and slightly shocked. "I had no idea. You can't tell."

"It's amazing what surgery can achieve nowadays, isn't it?"

Caroline looked at him pointedly. "I really think you should answer it."


"Where have you been, you fucker?" Guy shouted. "I've been calling you for two hours. I was starting to think you'd actually gone and topped yourself or something."

"Your concern is touching," Mac said dryly. "Really. We were at the pool. Left the phone in the room. Is that okay?"

"No, it's bloody not!"

Mac sighed and sat down on the bed as Caroline disappeared into the bathroom. "What do you want, Guy?"

Guy breathed heavily down the phone for a moment. "So. Still alive then," he said eventually.

"So it would seem."

"Typical. Can't do anything right."

"Did you call for a reason, or just to harass me for not being dead?" Mac asked, when Guy didn't say anything else.

"As it happens, I have some news," Guy announced. "Turns out you're not dying after all, you big faker. Oh, and my Mum's dead."

"Wait. What?"

"Martin's a mess, as you can imagine, having been unlucky enough to actually grow up having her as his mother. Explains a lot, really, come to think of it."

"No, the part where it sounded like you said I'm not dying after all?"

"Oh, yeah. Turns out there was a cock-up in the lab. Some other poor slob with your name is buggered instead. Looney Clooney's been trying to contact you as well."

Mac released the breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding. "Right," he said blankly. "Thanks for that. I'll talk to you later, yeah?"

"What? No cloying words of sympathy about my tragic loss?"

Mac tried to think. Guy had said something about his mum…

"Joanna Clore's dead?"

"That's what I've been telling you. All you're interested in are your own petty concerns."

"Sorry to hear that."

"No, it's been good, actually," Guy said complacently. "It's getting me a surprising amount of tottie."

Typical. "Goodbye, Guy."


Mac closed the phone and stared at it blankly. He felt numb. He didn't know what he felt yet. He thought that in a minute he'd be relieved, happy, ecstatic, even, but now…it was just taking a moment to sink in, that's all. He'd resigned himself, come to terms, made his peace, all that bollocks, and now…

Caroline emerged from the bathroom in her bathrobe, appealingly damp and clean-smelling, combing her fingers through her wet hair. "Mac, what is it? What did Guy want?"

Mac looked at her worried, slightly cross-eyed expression.

"Apparently," he said. "Apparently, I'm not dying."

"You're not?"

"No, cock-up at the lab. Apparently."

"Oh. Oh. Right." Caroline took a step. Stopped. Turned away. Took a step. Stopped. Turned back.

Mac held out his hand. She stumbled forward and grabbed it tightly. He pulled her down to sit on his lap. She fidgeted for a minute, then hid her face against his neck. Mac preserved a tactful silence on the dampness against his skin.

"I guess that explains the continued perfect health, then," he said eventually, when Caroline didn't say anything else. It was starting to sink in.

Eventually she sat up, wiping surreptitiously at her cheeks. "Well, I wish they'd found out before we wasted all this money on this stupid luxury holiday."

Mac nodded. "Bognor's nice this time of year."

"I've heard that."

Mac looked at her flushed face, her puffy eyes. She was beautiful. He'd nearly lost her, through his own stupidity. And now they'd grow old together. Cautiously, he allowed himself to feel happy about that. "I'm not sorry," he said.

"You're not?" Caroline looked at him in surprise.

"It is, after all, our honeymoon."

She nodded. "Fair point."

They looked at each other.



"You're really not dying?"

"Really not."

Caroline burst into tears.

"Oh, hey," Mac said, hugging her. She hugged him back tightly.

After a minute, her sobs ceased and she sniffled into his neck. Mac looked around for the tissue box.



"Let's go home."




Boyce crouched in the bushes, watching the cops come and go through the binoculars he'd nicked off of his little brother. It had been surprisingly busy during the day for a tiny police station in such a remote area, but it seemed like now it was dark, the entire village had congregated in the pub, leaving only a single bored-looking young constable manning the front desk.

There hadn't been any movement for the last half an hour. Taking a deep, calming breath, Boyce sprinted across the lawn and crouched under the window, his heart beating so loudly in his ears he wondered wildly if the cop inside would be able to hear it too. After a couple of minutes, when nothing happened, he risked sticking his head up for a quick glance inside. The cop was reading a girlie magazine. Well, well, and he looked like such a nice, wholesome lad, too.

Boyce left him to it. He sidled along the wall of the building, feeling quite pleased with himself for wearing all black and enjoying the adrenaline rush of pretending to be a secret agent – no, a ninja! Then a dog barked nearby and he froze, hardly daring to breathe. When the dog didn't bark again he peered cautiously around the corner.

There. That light was coming from Dr Statham's cell. It had to be. The small window was too high up for him to see through, though, and for a moment he couldn't think of what to do, then he saw the old-style metal bin conveniently placed at the corner of the building. For a moment he wondered if it was a trick, if he was being set up, and he considered aborting the mission. Then he got over himself, fetched the bin and propped it upside down against the window, and managed to climb up on it, grabbing the window sill as he lunged upwards, and got his feet balanced on either side so that there was less chance of the bin caving under his weight.

Boyce peered in the window. Statham was sitting on a small bed staring into space. He seemed pretty out of it.

Boyce taped duct tape in a crisscross pattern across the glass, got out a small hammer and carefully but firmly tapped the glass in each corner, grabbing the glass as it fell, in pieces but adhered to the tape. Boyce breathed a sigh of relief. It was something he'd read in a Boy's Own Adventure book as a kid, so he hadn't been sure it would work. He threw the window pieces on the grass behind him. Statham hadn't so much as looked up.

"Psst," Boyce said. Statham didn't react. "Pssst," Boyce said again, louder.

No reaction. Boyce was starting to really worry. "Dr Statham," he whispered urgently. "Alan!" Statham's head moved jerkily around his cell. "Up here," Boyce whispered.

Statham saw him. For a moment he stared blankly, then very slowly his face transformed from that unsettling blankness to one of such joy that Boyce nearly had to look away. There was a weird butterfly feeling in his chest. Boyce didn't know what to make of it. Statham was scrambling to his feet, his mouth opening and Boyce didn't know what Statham was about to say but he knew Statham so he quickly put his finger to his lips and made urgent shushing noises.

Statham stopped and looked bewildered. He didn't really seem like his normal self – the fact that he'd obeyed Boyce without question was evidence of that, but Boyce supposed the whole Joanna Clore drowning, Statham nearly drowning himself and then finding himself in prison was a good enough reason to be in a state of shock, if that's what it was.

"Climb up on the bed," Boyce whispered, and Statham blinked and looked blankly at the bed, then back up at Boyce.

Boyce pointed down at where the end of the bed was positioned under the window. Statham looked from Boyce to the bed again and finally seemed to get the idea. He scrambled up and grabbed the bars with both hands, pushing his face against them.

"You came."

"Of course I came."

"Joanna's dead, you know."

"I know. I'm sorry."

"We made a pact, you see. But when it came to the sticking point, as one might say, I realised that I didn't want to die."

"I'm glad."

"It was you," Statham blurted.


"It was the thought of you that made me realise that there might be a reason to live, you see?"

Boyce placed his hand over Statham's where it was wrapped around one of the bars. Statham stared at his hand. "Oh, I see, you're wearing gloves. Very good, Mr Boyce. Hygiene is the key to preventing cross infection."

"Actually, I'm wearing them so I don't leave fingerprints. I'm sort of breaking the law right now, in case you hadn't noticed."

Statham blinked and appeared to really look at him for the first time. "So you are." Statham shook his head sadly. "Crime doesn't pay, Mr Boyce. I'm living proof of that."

Ah, yes. "Listen, have you said anything?" Boyce said urgently.

"Have I…said…anything?"

"Have you said anything – to the cops? Have they questioned you?"

"They're waiting for my solicitor to arrive. He's in great demand, you know." Statham attempted to push his missing glasses up his nose. "But he's a great personal friend of mine, and he's assured me, that is to say, his secretary has assured me – assured me! – that he'll be here as soon as he can fit me in. He's a QC, you know. Sir Edward Smythe."

It sounded to Boyce like Statham's great personal friend was blowing him off. It was no use trying to tell Statham that, though.

"Good. Very good. Listen, Dr Statham. Alan. You mustn't admit to anything, okay?"

"I mustn't?" Statham blinked owlishly at him. He looked sort of defenceless without his glasses. Boyce felt a surge of protectiveness towards him.

"Haven't you ever watched TV? The moment you start talking they've got you. You have to do what I say, okay?"

For a moment he was the old Statham that Boyce knew and inexplicably lo…liked. "Actually, I think you'll find that as your teacher and your superior, you have to do what I say."

"Well yes," Boyce said. Unable to resist, because, god, he'd missed this, he said, "In the hospital you're my teacher superior," he watched gleefully as Statham's moustache twitched, "but outside the hospital, as my boyfriend, you have to do as I say. At least until we get you out of this mess."

"Your b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b—" Statham was doing that rapid blinking he did when his brain wasn't engaging properly. Boyce lived to provoke that reaction.


"Your b-b-b—"

Impulsively Boyce leaned forward and pressed his lips to Statham's.

"Ah yes," Statham stuttered, when Boyce finally pulled back. "Very good, Mr Boyce, ah, carry on."

Boyce grinned. "Oh, I'd love to, believe me,' he said insinuatingly and watched gleefully as Statham's eyes widened and he blushed and stuttered and blinked a lot.

The dog barked again and Boyce looked around in alarm. There were shouts and laughter in the distance. It sounded like people leaving the pub.

His hand tightened around Statham's and Statham looked at him, wide-eyed and lost-looking.

"I have to go."

A look of panic crossed Statham's face. "You're leaving me?"

"I have to. I'll get in contact with Smythe, and I'll be back to see you when you're allowed to have visitors."

"But…but…" Statham blinked. "Heaven knows what might happen to me! I've read the newspapers. I know what happens to people such as myself in prison. No doubt the real criminals will recognise my n-natural s-superiority and feel threatened." Statham's voice was taking on an edge of hysteria. "They may resort to inflicting v-v-violence upon my p-person."

Boyce had no doubt about it. "Alan, you're fine. You're the only person here."

"I'm being transferred tomorrow!"

Shit. "Where?"

"Somewhere in England. They did not see fit to share any more information with me. Those bloody bastards!"

That wasn't good at all. Boyce didn't hold out any hope of Statham having enough sense to keep his mouth shut once he was England. And he certainly didn't have any faith in Statham's 'great personal friend' showing up.

If Boyce didn't do something, Statham was doomed.



They kicked the diehards out about two am. Some of them had to work the next day, after all, and it was a proven fact that patients' survival rates increased when their medical practitioners weren't exhausted and hungover.

Guy was wearing the 'CONGRATULATIONS YOU'RE NOT DEAD' banner around him like a toga. No one had the least idea where the rest of his clothes had gone, least of all Guy.

Caroline was holding fingers to her lips, looking slightly dazed. Mac exchanged a knowing look with Guy. The 'five per cent lesbian' was definitely one of Caroline's most attractive features.

"How many times is that you've snogged Sue White now?"

"Usually she snogs me," Caroline said indignantly. "Well, except for that once," she added sheepishly. "And that one, just then, but that was only because you held me to that stupid promise I made when we'd just had that stupid fight about you dying and then you kissed me and I was clearly in a disordered state of mind." Caroline ducked her head and fiddled with a bit of her fringe.

"Really? Tell us about that 'once'," Guy said, focusing on the important point. "Details, please."

They all watched from Mac's doorway as Martin backed down the path, Sue White prowling after him, her beady eyes fixed on the piece of raw meat he was holding as far away from his body as possible. He looked slightly freaked, understandably.

"Thanks, Martin. I owe you."

"Actually, Mac, I'm not sure about this," Martin replied, not taking his eyes off Sue White.

"You're doing fine."

Sue White stopped. Her head tilted back and forth as they spoke, her eyes darting about. She saw Mac and roared.

"Martin?" Mac called, worriedly.

"Here, kitty," Martin said coaxingly. He flapped the piece of meat about to get her attention. Distracted from her prey, she roared again, and paced down the path towards Martin, who backed hurriedly through the gate.

"What now?" he called, looking worried.

"Throw it as far away from you as you can and then run like hell in the other direction."

"Right. That's it? That's your brilliant plan?"

"Trust me, have I ever let you down?"

"Well, actually—"

Sue White pounced.

Martin squeaked in alarm and clutched the meat to his chest. He turned and ran away down the street as fast as his little legs could carry him, with Sue White in hot pursuit.

"Good of Martin to take one for the team," Mac said, as they disappeared around the corner. Sue White really could put on a turn of speed for someone wearing a pencil skirt and stilettos. He steered Caroline inside and shut the door.

"Right then, bed," Guy said meaningfully, draping his arms around Mac and Caroline and half pulling them towards the stairs. His words were slightly slurred, but Mac suspected Guy wasn't as drunk as he was pretending to be.

"We've made up the spare bed, you can sleep there as you're too drunk to drive," Caroline told him firmly.

"You sure?" Guy leered, as they all stumbled up the stairs together, Guy's arms still firmly draped around them both. Guy had been surprisingly physically affectionate with Mac since they'd got home, as though he needed the reassurance that Mac was fine. Mac knew if he mentioned it Guy would deny it, and probably completely back off. Mac had thought about it, and come to the conclusion, if he was going to be completely honest with himself, that he liked having Guy's attention. Plus it obviously made Guy feel better.

At the top of the stairs Guy looked at them with big brown puppy dog eyes.

"Good night, Guy," Caroline said, still in that firm voice.

Guy pouted, but he slowly turned towards the spare room, his shoulders drooping. At the door he turned and Mac looked at him with raised eyebrows, expecting another sleazy Guy comment.

"Glad you're back," Guy said, unexpectedly. "It's no fun working with the other surgeons. They accused me of being unprofessional, can you believe that?"

"It hardly seems possible," Mac agreed, resisting the urge to look at Caroline, keeping a straight face with an effort.

"You guys are my best friends. Iloveyou," Guy said, very rapidly, and disappeared into his room.

"Huh," Mac said, following Caroline into their bedroom.

Mac was stretched out on the bed watching Caroline unhook her bra when she suddenly said, "Am I imagining things or was Guy was hinting that he wanted to sleep with us? Both of us, I mean."

"Uh huh," Mac said, watching Caroline's perfectly sized (no matter what Guy said) breasts swing free as she bent to take off her trousers.

Caroline straightened and stared at him pointedly. "Are you saying 'uh huh' because you agree with me or because you have no idea what I said and you just want to have sex?" She was down to her panties and god, look at her. Mac was hard just from watching her put her hands on her hips in that bossy manner.

"Yes to both," Mac said. "Guy would have sex with his own mother if he could get away – oh wait, he did."

"Mac, that was in very poor taste," Caroline said, scoldingly. "Especially now she's, well, dead."

Mac looked suitably chastened. "Sorry, you're right, of course."

"Besides, I think it's more than that. You heard him, we're his best friends, and he loves us. He practically gave me to you, remember. That was pretty selfless."

"You keep bringing that up. Are you sorry he did?"

"Mac, no." Caroline said, sounding horrified, coming to sit next to him on the bed. She took his hand. "You don't really believe that, do you?"

"No," Mac said. Honesty forced him to go on. "Not really. Occasionally, I wonder…if I hadn't been dying…if it was a pity thing, you know?"

"I love you," Caroline said, forcefully. "Guy loves you. Admittedly, I'm only just starting to realise quite how much…"

"But you love him too, don't you?"

Caroline picked at a scab on her knee with her free hand, staring at it intently. "Maybe," she said, in a small voice. "Enough that I would have married him if you hadn't come back. But you did, and I chose you."

He would never stop being grateful for that. "But you still want him, don't you?"

"No," she denied, her eyes flying to his face and away again. Caroline was a shitty liar.

Mac tugged on the hand he was holding, and she came willingly. He manoeuvred them both so that they ended up lying facing each other, still holding hands. "Caroline, it's okay," he said, hoping she could see that he meant it.

"Is it?"

"In fact, if you wanted?" Mac found he couldn't actually say it out loud. Even though he'd been thinking about this pretty much since they got the news he wasn't dying after all.

Caroline's eyes widened, and to his surprise she looked hurt. "You want me to…go to him?"

"No!" Mac said, emphatically, and the hurt faded from her eyes immediately.


Mac tried to look nonchalant. "Well, I've never had a threesome where the plus one was a guy, so I figure I'm overdue."

Caroline was looking stunned. "Are you sure?" she said doubtfully. "If you've never had sex with another guy before, there's probably a reason for that."

"No one's ever asked me?"

"It's not that simple, Mac. Besides, you forget I've witnessed Guy's extremely unsubtle come-ons. You'd have shagged him rotten by now if you were interested."

"Now, hang on. Firstly, it's Guy – one would have to be desperate to sleep with Guy—"

"Thank you!"

"—and secondly, one thing I've learned from all this is, that life's too short."

"What, to be straight?"

"Maybe. If it's someone you care about."

"Yeah, but Guy?"

"Who else?"

Caroline looked at him consideringly. "Well actually, if I was going to picture you having a threesome with another guy, I would have thought you'd go for Boyce."

"Have you?"

"Have I what?"

"Pictured me having it off with Boyce."

"What if I have?" Caroline said defensively, as though she expected him to disapprove.

"No, no, I think it's hot that you fantasise about me," he reassured her. "Did you, by any chance…touch…yourself while you were thinking of us? What were we doing? Was I on top? I was on top, right?"


They stared at each other. Mac lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it. He looked deeply into her eyes. "Caroline McCartney-Todd," he said solemnly. "Will you do me the honour having a threesome with Guy and me?"

"I will," she said, just as solemnly. Then her brow furrowed. "What if he says no?"

Mac looked at her incredulously. Caroline rolled her eyes. "Never mind."

"Oi, Guy?" Mac called.

Guy came so fast Mac suspected he'd been listening outside the door.

"Were you listening outside the door?"

"No," Guy said. "No, I was not!" he repeated indignantly, when they continued to stare at him. "What kind of desperate perv do you think I am?"

"Do you want to sleep with us?"

"Ooh, yes please."

Guy bounced on to the bed beside Caroline, but then hesitated, looking from Caroline to Mac. "Are you sure?" he asked, and Mac was impressed at the way he managed to look sensitive and vulnerable without overplaying it like he usually did when he attempted to portray normal human emotion.

It worked on Caroline. She visibly melted. "Kiss me, Guy," she murmured, holding out her hand.

Mac expected Guy to pounce on top of her and attack her mouth the way he did that time in the hospital when Caroline had been engaged to him, but instead he watched Guy lean forward slowly, stroke a careful hand down her throat. It made Caroline arch her neck and when he kissed her it was gentle and skilful and after a surprisingly long time of gentle nibbling, sucking, teasing, it was Caroline who reached out and grabbed Guy's shoulders and pulled him down onto her, hard.

Mac propped his head on his arm and watched them. He watched Guy ease the sheet down and press reverential kisses on her breasts, watched his hand slide down and under her knickers, watched Caroline part her legs to allow access with a soft hitch in her breath. Watched Caroline tug frustratedly at the makeshift toga, which had got caught between them.

Mac watched his own hand reach out and grasp the fabric, and tug it free, watched Guy stretch out on top of Caroline, mumbling endearments and it occurred to him that instead of the jealousy he'd been expecting, all he was feeling was love and yes, apparently he was able to get into this - he was hard again just from watching them.

Well, it was supposed to be a threesome. Mac stretched out his hand and stroked along Guy's back. To his surprise, Guy shuddered, and dropped his head briefly onto Caroline's shoulder. "Mac," he gasped.

Mac trailed his hand lightly along Guy's shoulder blades, watching curiously as goosebumps formed in his wake. He was tempted to make a joke about Guy shaving his back – dammit, he would have, only Guy was being so intense about this, so solemn, and it belatedly occurred to Mac that while he'd been thinking about what this meant to him, and to Caroline, it hadn't really occurred to him to consider Guy's feelings. Though, in his defence, Guy was generally so shallow it wasn't necessary to.

Guy had somehow managed to divest Caroline of her knickers while Mac had been lost in thought. He was impressed – it must have been smooth. Instead of immediately pounding into her, as Mac would have expected, he was teasing her, rubbing along her clit with his cock, mouthing her nipples. Caroline was lost in the pleasure of it, her head thrown back against the pillow, fingers clenched in Guy's poodle hair.

Mac shuffled closer and, consigning his heterosexuality (and his good taste) to the winds with a mental shrug, leaned over and sucked a love bite onto the nape of Guy's neck. He'd actually expected that Guy would take exception to what could be interpreted as a mark of ownership, but to his surprise Guy moaned and bowed his head in what could be interpreted as submission.

God, that was fucking hot. Mac was definitely into it now, he wanted to see how far Guy would let him go, he wanted to see if Guy really was signalling what he seemed to be or if it was just Mac's (previously unsuspected) wishful thinking.

He shifted on to his knees behind them and god he could see everything: Guy's cock, which, fucking hell, he hadn't been exaggerating and Mac didn't feel inadequate at all, nudging at Caroline, Caroline open to him, one leg hooked over Guy's hip, anchoring her as she rocked up against him and Guy was starting to slip now, the head of his cock starting to push against her folds and whoa, Guy wasn't wearing a condom, the thoughtless bastard and who knew where that thing had been. Mac grabbed him by the balls, and squeezed, not too hard. Guy yelped. "Oi, you bastard, what the fuck?" he snarled, peering back over shoulder.

Mac let go and reached over and grabbed a couple of condoms from the drawer. He held them up.

"What, it's not like I can get her knocked up, is it?" Guy sneered.

"Her is right here, thanks very much," Caroline pointed out from beneath Guy.

"Way to kill the mood, you prat." Maybe this wasn't such a great idea. Mac started to shift back.

"No, wait," Guy said, sounding a bit desperate.


Guy mumbled something Mac couldn't hear, his face averted.

But Caroline heard him. "Is that true?"

"Is what true?"

"Guy claims not to have slept with anyone since, well, since me."

Mac snorted. "Yeah, right."

"I haven't!" Guy twisted off Caroline and sat up. Caroline sat up as well. They all stared at each other. "I could have, if I'd wanted to. That new nurse in obstetrics is gagging for it, but I haven't wanted to, all right?" He looked accusingly at Caroline. "You've ruined me for other women."

Caroline smiled, uncertainly. "Don't be ridiculous. Guy Secretan, Sex God – celibate?"

It was like finding out that Cliff Richard was straight. "It's a world gone mad," Mac said, with heavy sarcasm.

"Oi, you can shut up."

"If it's not on, it's not on."

Guy grabbed one of the condoms and slid it with impressive speed onto Guy Junior, which had remained undeterred by the intermission. To Mac's surprise, Guy picked up the other condom and with lowered eyes, reached out and took hold of Mac's cock and pumped him back to full mast and then with a quick glance up and away again, slid the condom on him.

Mac stared at Guy's averted face for an incredulous moment, then looked at Caroline. She was looking at Guy understandingly. Well, good for her. Mac wished he had a clue.

Caroline slid onto her side and patted the bed next to her. "Sex now, Guy."

"About bloody time," Guy said loudly, and whatever the hell that moment was, it was gone. Guy clambered his way between them and cuddled up to Caroline, kissing her neck. Caroline raised her eyebrows and looked from Mac to the empty space next to Guy meaningfully.

Mac felt a bit miffed. "I'm the one who was dying," he grumbled. "How did this become about Guy?"

"You weren't dying," Caroline pointed out and glared at him.

"I thought I was, that counts," Mac argued, even as he obediently slid down behind Guy.

It turned out that Guy liked his neck kissed, and licked, a lot. When Mac bit him at the juncture of the shoulder and neck, he jerked hard, and Caroline gasped and threw her leg over Guy's. Guy's hips stuttered forward a couple of times before obviously gaining some control as he fucked into her. Mac looked at them. Caroline and Guy were wrapped up in each other, their eyes shut, kissing open-mouthed and all of a sudden Mac felt like he was intruding on something private. He should have known that this wouldn't work – god, did Caroline really prefer Guy after all? He was just tensing, getting ready to shift away, when Caroline opened her eyes and stared at him. She whispered something to Guy. Guy shifted his leg forward under Caroline's and somehow wriggled back a little at the same time and Mac was sliding between hot, sweaty, hairy Guy cheeks and Caroline was smiling at him with such love, Mac swore he would never doubt her – this – again.

Mac reached over and slid his hand over Caroline's waist, pulling them all even closer together. The scent of sweat and sex was familiar, Guy's aftershave a new element, not to mention Guy's ass cheeks gripping him as he leisurely slid his hips back and forward. He was in no hurry, it was unexpectedly cosy, the three of them together, as long as Guy kept his mouth shut, he thought maybe he'd never had it so good.

Then Guy shifted his leg up even more, and any blood left in the rest of Mac's body made a beeline for his cock and he couldn't help it, his cock was like a heat-seeking missile, it was pushing and sliding against Guy's anus, seeking a warm place to slide into but it wasn't that easy, and even if Guy was as tough as he claimed, Mac sure as hell wasn't going to hurt him, so he didn't push it, he wasn't going to—

"Well, what are you waiting for, stick it in me," Guy said, and his voice was nearly unrecognisable, bravado and sex and something else…need?

Jeez, he wanted to, lust fogging his brain, because, god, how often does one get an invitation like that, but he wasn't that far gone. "I'm not into inflicting pain, fucker, not even on you," he panted into the back of Guy's neck. "This is fine."

"Look, the condom's lubed, just use spit," Guy argued.

"Do you want me to hurt you?" Mac stilled. "Is that what this is about?"

"No, Jeezus. Why are you being such a nancy boy about this?" Guy said. "And I don't mind a bit of pain, okay – because I know it's going to be fucking brilliant once you're in – God, can we stop talking about this? We're not bloody old women."

"Wait, you've done this before?"

"I didn't say that," Guy said, suddenly evasive.

"Sue White," Caroline suddenly said.

Mac blinked. "What about her?"

"I was drunk," Guy said defensively. "She had this thing, you know, a strap-on. She took advantage of me."

Mac opened his mouth and caught sight of Caroline glaring at him and shut it again.

"There's lube in the drawer," Guy said.

"How do you know?" Mac said, pulling away to get it.


Mac sighed. "You know what, I don't want to know," he said, and really, when you're sticking oily fingers into your mate's arsehole and wiggling them about, somehow conversation becomes irrelevant unless it involves—

"Ooh, there, right there, no not there, the other way, you twat, oh, oh, OH, fuck, fuck, THERE, YOU TOSSER."

Ah. It was weirdly satisfying to watch Guy pant and writhe and curse and to watch Caroline moving with him, her face distant as she focused on the sensation, but Mac wanted his cock to get some action too dammit, and he lined himself up, yelled "Anchors Aweigh" and pushed in and, oh fuck, it was hot and it was tight and it wasn't like he hadn't known it would be like this but this was Guy, this was fucking Guy, he was fucking Guy fucking Secretan. Guy was clenching against him and it wasn't easy anymore, it wasn't cosy, it was fucking EPIC. With a supreme effort he managed to roll them so that he was on top of Guy and Guy was on top of Caroline. He heard a muffled "oi, you're squashing me," and he got his knees under him and he fucked into him and he fucked into him. Guy's sweaty, heaving back was a blur. Mac was vaguely aware of Caroline making that wailing sound she made when she orgasmed and of Guy collapsing onto her and only then did he let go; he pounded into Guy once, twice more and then pulled out and stripped off the condom and watched his come stripe Guy's back and for a moment he felt like a god; and then he fell back onto his heels and toppled sideways on to the bed.

"You wanker, you did that on purpose," Guy mumbled, his eyes already closing, as Caroline pushed at him.

Mac smirked.



In the end it was almost insultingly easy. Boyce didn't want to risk anyone getting hurt – especially him – so he just waited until the cop went to make himself a cuppa in the kitchen at the back of the station. Then he slipped noiselessly around the counter, lifted the conveniently labelled keys from the hook by the door and slipped down the corridor to the cells. There were only two, and only one of those was occupied.

Statham was sitting on the edge of the bed, his hands tucked between legs pressed tightly together. He was rocking slightly and mumbling to himself, staring anxiously towards the window.

He leapt up when he heard the key turn though, shifting his weight nervously from foot to foot.

Boyce glared at him through the grill and put his fingers to his lips in the universal gesture for 'shut the fuck up now'. Statham nodded. As soon as the door opened enough he came tumbling out of the cell. Boyce shoved his hand against Statham's mouth, leaned in close and murmured, "Follow me and don't make any noise." Statham nodded, his eyes huge.

Boyce was already slipping back towards the exit when he felt Statham's sweaty hand clutch his and, without thinking, he returned the clasp tightly. Hand in hand, they slipped out of the door just as the copper returned, yawning, to his seat, without once looking up.

Incredibly, luck was still with them. The only people in the street had clearly come from the pub – they were already a fair distance past the station and pretty oblivious to their surroundings anyway, if the off-key singing was any indication.

Boyce got Statham to lie down in the back seat easily enough – he was still pretty out of it – and threw a blanket over him. He couldn't quite bring himself to make him get in the boot.

Statham started snoring pretty much straight away. Boyce drove sedately out of the village. The last thing he needed now was to draw attention to his car. He didn't really start breathing properly again until he finally, finally got on to the motorway, and he couldn't help the frequent glances into the rear view mirror, still half expecting blue and red flashing lights to appear, despite not having passed any cop cars.

After a while he tilted the mirror so he could keep an eye on his passenger. He could just make out Statham's drawn, exhausted features in the dim light of passing streetlamps. Statham whimpered to himself periodically, and by the time they were halfway home he'd curled into the foetal position and was sucking on his thumb. Once, he cried out and mumbled something Boyce couldn't make out, but the begging sound made something in his chest tighten and inspired in him an unexpected desire to hit something. Or someone. Specifically, Joanna Clore. The only good thing about this whole mess, as far as Boyce was concerned, was that she wasn't around to mess with Statham's head anymore.

Dwelling on those thoughts and keeping an eye out for any sign of pursuit kept him alert and occupied most of the rest of the way home. And Kim said he couldn't multi-task! Boyce drew a deep, relieved breath when he finally pulled up outside his flat. He flexed fingers that had been clenched on the steering wheel for too many hours and twisted his neck about a bit to get rid of the crick it'd developed.

Smuggling Statham into his flat was easy. Statham was groggy anyway, which made it easy to hook one of his arms over Boyce's shoulder, slide his own arm around Statham's waist and it totally looked like Boyce was giving a drunk mate a helping hand. The street was deserted at that time of the morning anyway and it was still dark enough that anyone looking out of their windows would only be able to make out silhouettes. Anyway, it wasn't like Boyce wasn't in the habit of bringing people home with him at odd hours.

Boyce tipped Statham straight into his bed. He got rid of Statham's shoes easily – they'd taken his laces of course – and pulled the covers over him. Statham opened his eyes and blinked at him. "Is that you, my love?" he whispered, eyes already closing again.

"I don't know," Boyce said, sitting down beside him on the bed. "Am I your love?"

Statham snored in response. Boyce stared at Statham, feeling…affection…for the man. Feeling…protective. Like…like all he wanted to do was take care of him. God. This was Dr Alan I've got a Pointer Up My Arse Statham. It was ridiculous, this feeling. And yet…

Epiphanies sucked.

There were still a few hours before he had to go to work and pretend like everything hadn't just changed. Boyce curled up beside Statham and closed his eyes. After a moment he let his hand sneak out and curl around Statham's outstretched arm. Then he slept.



"Caroline. Caroline. Caroline," Guy was whispering loudly, over and over again. If Mac had any energy at all, Guy would be a dead man right now, fucking waking them up, what the fuck.

"Whu? Not again, Guy. Have a wank," Caroline mumbled, sounding still mostly asleep.

"Shush. Don't wake Mac."

"Go back to sleep, Guy. Better still, go back to your room. " Mac felt the pillow move as she tried to bury her face deeper in the pillow.

"No, I have to tell you something."

"Can't it wait?" she moaned.

"No, listen. I wasn't really drunk."


"Earlier. I wasn't really drunk."

"Yes, you were." Caroline sounded a bit more awake.

"Well, okay. A bit. But I knew what I was doing…saying…"

There was movement. Mac cracked open his eyes. At least it was dawn. There was enough light coming through the window to see that Guy was crouching next to Caroline, clutching her by the arm.

"I meant it." Guy said, insistently. He shook her arm.

"Meant what?"

Guy's face contorted. "Don't make me say it again," he said, sounding agonised.

"Shouldn't you be not saying it again to Mac?"

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"He'd laugh."

"No, he wouldn't."

"Yes, he would."

"No, he wouldn't."

"Yes. He would."

"Well, I guess you've known him longer than I have."

"Yes. I have."

"Fine. Can I go to sleep now?" Caroline said, yawning.

"Yes. I just wanted you to know…you know."

"Guy, it's okay. We know."

"You do?" Guy gasped, forgetting to whisper. "How do you?"

"You're not that good an actor."

"So Mac knows?"

It was all about the timing. "Of course I know, you berk."

It was worth it to watch Guy nearly levitate off the bed.

"Bloody crikey Jesus," Guy shouted. "You nearly gave me a heart attack, you ginger freak!"

Mac smirked. Guy was crouched at the foot at the bed, his teeth bared, his eyes all goggly. God help him, the Swiss prat's donkey face actually seemed cute to him. It must be love. Of a sort.

"Guy, Guy, it's okay," Caroline was saying, sitting up now, turning on the bedside lamp, reaching out.

Her make-up was smudged; her hair actually defying gravity in new and interesting ways. Mac loved seeing her like that, post-sex, before she remembered to be self-conscious and hurried off to the bathroom to make herself look less like the, quote, Wicked Witch of the West, unquote. Mac had been tempted to buy her a pair of ruby slippers but he had a feeling she'd misunderstand, think he was being cruel, and he'd hurt her enough. He was making an extra effort to refrain from being clever at her expense. It was harder than he'd expected. He'd obviously been hanging out with Guy too long.

"Fucking Christ on a stick, woman. You look like you've been attacked by a hairdressing clown who's ingested a fuckful of hallucinogenic drugs."

Mac took one look at Caroline's face and decided discretion was the better part of valour. "Gosh, is that the time?" he said, sliding out of bed. "I'll take first shower, hmm?" and escaped before Caroline strangled Guy with the bed sheets.

In the shower, relaxing under the hot water pounding on his neck, he could just hear the muffled sound of his lovers fighting. It was hard to believe that so much had changed in such a short space of time. He'd gone from his life being nearly over, to a whole new beginning, and he realised, bemused, that he wouldn't change a thing that had happened. He was happy.

Mac smiled to himself and ducked his head under the spray.



Boyce yawned as he made himself a coffee. He leant against the counter, grateful for once for the peace. It had been too quiet around here since two of the Stooges went and got married and never came back.

Ah, there was the other one now. Guy danced into the room and whatever the music in his head was, it was obviously good – he completely failed to notice the new nurse giving him the eye as he boogied past her. And she was at least an eight, too.

"I hear I missed a good party last night." Boyce said casually, just to make conversation.

Guy shrugged. "Yeah, it was okay, I guess," he said. He was sniffing Martin's yoghurt. His nose wrinkled. "I think this is off." He shrugged. "Then again, it's yoghurt, how 'off' can it be?" He started licking around the inside of the container, scooping up the yoghurt with his tongue. He didn't even seem to be deliberately intending to be making it look dirty, for a change.

"I was a little tied up, if you know what I mean," Boyce said, laying on the innuendo probably a little too heavily, but this was Guy he was talking to.

"Niiice," Guy said, looking impressed.

"So, anything exciting happen at the party?"

Guy suddenly got a shifty look on his face. "What do you mean?"

"You know, any good gossip?"

"Nah," Guy said, after a long pause, smiling to himself. "The usual drunks, pervs and no-hopers."

"So just our close personal friends, then."

Sue White came skipping around the corner. She caught sight of Boyce and winked knowingly at him. It looked like a particularly acute facial spasm. Boyce wondered frantically what it would take to shut her up if she decided to say anything. He spotted Martin lurking behind her.

"Mart-EE!" Boyce sang, hoping to distract everyone. With any luck Martin would do or say something particularly mock-worthy.

"Did I say you could talk to ma pet? Did I? Did I?" Sue White said, in his face. Boyce blinked down at her in surprise. Obviously his tactic had been more successful than he could have hoped. Martin leaned around her and waved, smiling weakly. Boyce stared at him. Martin was wearing a black leather dog collar. With studs.

"Heel, Martin," Sue White said firmly, and skipped off down the hall, Martin tailing behind her at the end of a leash. He turned his head to look back at them. "Catch up with you later, yeah?" he called, and then stumbled as Sue White yanked the leash.

Boyce and Guy looked at each other.

"Is it just me, or are some of the people around here a bit mental?" Guy asked, cleaning out the remnants of the yoghurt container with his fingers, and sucking on them.

"At least we're normal, hey?" Boyce said, deadpan, as he watched Guy licking around each of his fingers individually.

Guy nodded. "You said it," and held up his other hand. Boyce slapped his palm. "You coming out for a pint after work?" Guy asked.

Boyce shook his head. "Nope, I'm off home. I've got a new…game…to play with."

"Ooh, can I play too?" Guy asked eagerly.

Boyce smiled complacently. "No, this one's all mine," he said, fondling his pointer.



Title from a quote by Scott Adams