Pairing: James Lester / Will Andrews (o/c)
Word Count: Total: 12,375 / This chapter: 6,103
Summary: A chance meeting in a bar gives Lester’s life a new direction.
Notes: These are the o/c’s I’m using, and since I started writing this, I always pictured Will as looking like this. And this is Lester’s puppy (get to the end first and this will make more sense)
Notes 2: Previous chapters: ( 1 )
A week later, Lester found himself sitting on the floor of Will’s flat, dressed in jeans and an old jumper, as three tiny, bouncy puppies attacked him. They were still a little unsteady on their feet at times but they were adorable. Across the room, another chewed on Will’s shoelaces as the rest explored the living room on their first trip out of their pen while Ruby watched from her basket. As he played with the pups, Lester marvelled at the dog’s patience in being confined with this lot for so long. She was probably glad that someone else was keeping them busy for a while.
Will had called him that morning, telling him to wear something comfortable and come on over, not telling him that today was the day he was letting the puppies out for the first time. When he got here he had been greeted by all seven of the little pink-tummied over-excitable pups currently scampering around his feet.
Eventually the pups exhausted themselves and retreated either to the old duvet they had all been sleeping on in their pen, or tried to squeeze into Ruby’s basket with her. All except one.
“I think she likes you,” Will commented as the little puppy curled into a tight ball on Lester’s lap, after struggling up onto the sofa to sit with him. Any attempts to encourage her to go with the others had been met with whimpers and so he’d given up.
Lester picked her up from his lap gently and put her on the sofa next to him, watching as she opened her big dark eyes, staring at him. When she was sure he wasn’t going to leave her, she settled down again.
“I must give Connor a call,” Will continued, “I promised I would when he could come and play with them, but I wanted to share this with you first.”
Will leaned over the sleeping puppy, curled up in between them, to brush a kiss over Lester’s cheek.
“Do you want to stay tonight?” he asked, and Lester nodded. “You know, one day, you’re going to have to show me your flat,” Will teased. “I’m starting to wonder what you’ve got there that’s so scary you don’t want me to see. Apart from Connor’s mess, I mean.”
Try two prehistoric creatures running about, Lester thought, but Will had a point. They spent all of their time at his flat, never at Lester’s.
“I’m sorry that I haven’t invited you over before this. I keep imposing on you.”
“No! I was just joking,” Will insisted. “You could never be an imposition, believe me.”
“Nevertheless, I want you to visit. How about dinner?” Lester said. “I’ll cook.”
Will smiled. “You cook, too? Be still my heart!”
“Rather well, actually,” Lester informed him, ignoring the sarcasm. “Though I rarely do these days; when you’re eating alone, it seems quite pointless.”
“What about Connor?”
Lester laughed. “Connor’s idea of good food usually comes in a microwavable container. Between his aversion to anything healthy and the long hours I work not giving me the time, it’s easier to make something simple. If you’ll have dinner with me, however, it will give me the opportunity to show off my culinary skills.”
“Are you trying to impress me?”
Lester nodded. “Is it working?”
“Oh yes, but I was already impressed,” Will told him. “I’m looking forward to it. Do I also get to meet the infamous Sid and Nancy?”
That made Lester pause. He had been hoping to convince Connor to take them to Abby’s for the day, but Will was bound to see them sooner or later. Might as well get this over with. He knew that a few background checks and a couple of signatures would allow him to tell Will about the ARC, too, but somehow that seemed presumptuous. He had no idea where this was leading, even though he hoped that Will would still be in his life in a few years, and so making that kind of gesture might be a step too far right now. No, that could wait until later as long as he made sure Will knew to keep quiet about Sid and Nancy.
“So, are you going to stay tonight?” Will asked, repeating his earlier question.
Lester smacked Connor’s hand with the back of a spoon as the lad reached out to dip his finger into the bowl on the counter. He pulled it away with a yelp.
“I warned you,” Lester pointed out as he poured the mixture into a tin and slid it into the oven. Seeing Connor still rubbing his hand, Lester sighed and passed the bowl over. “Here.”
Connor snatched it eagerly, retreating to the table with a spatula in hand to eat the last of the cake mixture from the bowl. Honestly, it was like cooking with his children, Lester thought, with the constant questions and them eating the ingredients before he’d had the chance to cook them. At least allowing Connor to lick the bowl out would give him a few minutes of peace.
A squeak made him look down. Sid and Nancy were waiting patiently by his feet. It reminded him of Connor a few minutes ago, waiting for leftovers. He cut a tomato and gave them half each.
“No more now,” he told them. “I need to get on.”
Five minutes later, and Connor was back, a smudge of cake mixture on his cheek. “Can I help? I’m bored.”
Lester smiled. “You can start washing up, if you want.”
At six o’clock the doorbell rang, just as Lester was setting out the last of the cutlery. He looked at the table, set out for two with a bottle of wine chilling in the centre and wondered if maybe this was a bit much. Too late now, he thought, as he heard Connor going to let Will in and letting himself out at the same time. He was going out to meet Danny and Becker at the pub in a thinly veiled excuse to give Lester and Will a bit of privacy.
“Wow, I’m definitely impressed.”
Lester turned to see Will saunter into the kitchen, looking around with a frown when he heard the sound of muffled squeaks and thuds. Lester had hoped that either Will would forget about wanting to meet Sid and Nancy, or that they’d stay quiet and asleep in Connor’s bedroom and then Lester could pretend to forget about introducing them. Oh well, might as well get this over with, he thought.
“Yes, that would be the pets,” he told Will. “I need to ask you not to mention them to anyone else; we aren’t supposed to be keeping them but Connor… well, Connor has got rather attached to them.”
Will smiled. “Ok, now you’re making me even more curious. Hang on, you’re serious, aren’t you? I promise I won’t talk about them, James. Now, come on, I want to see these top-secret… what did you say they were?”
Lester smiled. “I didn’t.”
As soon as he opened the door, Sid and Nancy came waddling out of Connor’s bedroom, squeaking happily. He ushered them into the living room, where Will was waiting.
“Will, meet Sid and Nancy. Don’t worry, they’re quite friendly.”
Will just stared at them. “What-?” When Nancy nudged his leg with her nose, he crouched down, hesitantly reaching out a hand to pet her, only to be knocked off balance as Sid pounced on him as well to get a share in the attention.
Lester pulled Sid away, giving Will a chance to escape their attention-seeking onslaught. The other man sat on the sofa beside him, still reaching down to pet them again. He could see Will wanting to ask, but he didn’t voice the question until after dinner.
They’d had a lovely meal and a few glasses of wine, after which they had retreated to the living room. Sid and Nancy, shut in there to prevent them begging as Lester and Will ate, were waiting.
“So what are they?” Will asked as he sat down beside Lester and watching the two little creatures cavorting around by his feet. “Is this secret place you work something like the X-Files? Are they alien? And yes, I know how ridiculous that sounded.”
No more ridiculous than the truth, that they had come through an anomaly from millions of years ago. “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you,” he teased “And I would really hate that. I kind of like having you around.”
“Only ‘kind of’?”
Smiling at the offended look on Will’s face, Lester leaned over and kissed him. “I hope you know that it’s more than that,” he said, looking Will in the eyes, all trace of teasing suddenly gone from his voice. “A lot more. I’m not very good at communicating things like this- my recently finalised divorce is a testament to that- but I care about you a great deal. In fact, I think I might be falling in love with you.”
Will just stared at him and Lester sighed. He really hadn’t meant to say that.
“Sorry. I did tell you that I wasn’t very good at things like this.”
“You’re not taking it back, are you?” Will asked quietly, “Because I would hate to be the only one.”
Lester couldn’t help the smile that tugged at his lips as he heard Will’s words. “I meant it,” he said as Will pulled him in for a long kiss.
They were still there, some time later, when Connor came home. The two Diictodons woke from their nap and scrambled toward the door, giving Lester only about thirty seconds warning to disentangle himself from Will before he heard,
“Oh bugger! I am so sorry! I didn’t mean to interrupt anything. Should I go away again? I can ask Abby if I can stay at her place tonight.”
Hearing Will snigger next to him, Lester followed his gaze and swore. He discreetly tried to fasten his clothing and give himself some degree of respectability, but it was a futile gesture. It was bloody obvious to Connor what they’d been doing.
“Its fine, Connor.” Because that wouldn’t be embarrassing, Connor going to Abby and asking to stay there so that Lester and his boyfriend could shag on the sofa, he thought. And that was probably how he’d word it, too.
Connor called Sid and Nancy to him. “Well, I’m going to bed and I’ll get these two out of your way as well. ‘Night.”
Will waited a whole minute after Connor’s door closed before he started laughing. “Poor Connor. He looked a bit embarrassed.”
“I cannot believe that we were caught canoodling on the sofa like a couple of teenagers.”
“Well what would you call it?”
“Making out, groping,” Will suggested, looking amused at Lester’s embarrassment. “Could have called it a blow job if Connor hadn’t interrupted. Play your cards right and you still could.”
Lester glanced toward the room where Connor had made a hasty retreat. “Maybe we should move this to my bedroom; I’d hate to scandalise the lad twice in one day.”
“Lead the way.” Will followed Lester toward his room, getting in a few good gropes of his arse on the way.
The next morning, Connor emerged from his bedroom in just his boxers, half asleep with his hair sticking up in all directions, on his usual morning quest for a cup of tea. When he reached the kitchen, however, he froze. His face turned scarlet and he bolted back to his bedroom. He returned a few minutes later, this time dressed, and got himself a cup of tea while trying to avoid making eye contact with either of them.
“Would you like some scrambled eggs on toast?” Lester offered, getting up to make it. As he thought, the offer of food made Connor look his way and nod, murmuring a faint ‘please’. “I’m sorry if we made you feel uncomfortable last night. We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Connor shrugged his shoulders. “It’s fine; it was just weird walking in on my boss snogging on the sofa.”
Lester and Will shared a glance, both trying not to laugh. Thank goodness that’s all he thought they’d been doing; they must have done a better cover up job than they’d thought.
Seeing Connor’s discomfort at the topic of conversation, Will asked Connor, “Do you have any plans for today?” When Connor shook his head, Will continued. “Because Ruby’s pups have just started coming out to explore, and I wondered if you’d like to go see them after breakfast? I need to go back and check on them anyway.”
That, even more than the food, brought a smile to Connor’s face. “That’d be great!” He practically inhaled his food before racing off to his room, returning a few minutes later with his trainers on and his coat in hand, waiting eagerly.
“Maybe you should bring Sid and Nancy,” Will suggested. “I know you said they were a bit boisterous, but they seem friendly. And against seven puppies? I’d put my money on the pups.”
Connor turned to Lester, eyes wide and pleading. Lester sighed. “Will said it was okay; it’s his decision, not mine.”
A short time later, Will laughed at the sight of the two Diictodons waddling along happily toward Lester’s car, wearing the dog harnesses that Connor had put on them to make sure they wouldn’t escape. He couldn’t wait to see what the puppies made of those two.
It was the kind of phone call that he dreaded receiving.
“I’ve got three men down, Lester,” Becker told him. “We got the thing back to the anomaly but then two more appeared out of nowhere; I think the one we were herding was a baby as the other two were fucking huge compared to it.”
“How bad are the injuries?” Lester asked, even as he pulled his jacket on, ready to leave as soon as he put the phone down.
“Dev has a head wound but he stayed conscious and we think that Danny’s arm is broken, as well as having a few nasty claw slashes but…”
This didn’t sound good. “But?”
“Mark tried to get the creatures away from Abby and Sarah and the things turned on him. He’s in bad shape. The hospital called Will, but what are we supposed to tell him when he asks what happened?”
“I’m on my way.”
Lester was at the hospital in under fifteen minutes. He was sure that he’d broken at least a couple of speed limits on the way, but he really didn’t care. There were more important things to worry about at present. He saw the team straight away, all congregated in the waiting room of the Accident and Emergency department, looking anxious. Becker had a few scrapes and bruises showing and the look on his face each time he moved told Lester that while he wasn’t letting the others know, he had suffered some other injuries too. Abby and Sarah were sitting with the rest of the soldiers, cups of tea in hand from the vending machine, while Connor fidgeted nearby. When he saw Lester, he jumped to his feet, hurrying over as Becker got to his feet with a wince of pain.
“Becker, go and find a nurse to check you over.”
Becker started to protest but Lester was firm on the matter. “Do I have to drag you over to the desk and check you in myself? Sarah, could you please make sure he co-operates?”
Sarah nodded, looking relieved to have something to do, and led him to the reception desk.
“Has anyone told you anything about how they’re doing?” Lester asked Connor.
“They won’t tell us anything because we’re not family or next of kin.”
Lester straightened his tie and took his ID from his pocket. “They’ll bloody well talk to me,” he said, marching over to the desk.
Five minutes after Lester finished scaring some information out of one of the nurses, the doors burst open and Will ran in, heading for the girl on the reception desk.
“Excuse me, but I was told that my brother, Mark Andrews, has been brought in-”
“Will!” When he turned, Lester fought the urge to pull him into a hug. He looked dreadful, his face pale and eyes frantic with worry.
“James, is he alright? They said it was serious.”
Lester nodded to the receptionist that he’d handle this, and led Will to sit down. “There was an incident; a few of the team were injured, Mark included. He has some pretty serious injuries but when I enquired a few minutes ago, the doctors were still treating him.”
They sat in silence for a while, Abby bringing them both a cup of tea. Will leaned his elbows on his knees, his head in his hands. It seemed like an eternity before the inevitable question was asked.
“As I said, there was an incident-”
“What kind of ‘incident’? Damn it, James, he’s my little brother. I’ve got a right to know!”
“The details fall under the Official Secrets Act, as does the rest of the project,” Lester told him. “You know that.”
Will turned to glare at him. “What I know is that my brother has been hurt, badly enough for them to call me at work and tell me that I need to come here as soon as I can although they won’t tell me the details about how he’s hurt, and my boyfriend, who actually does know what the fuck happened to him, won’t fucking tell me!”
Lester glanced around at the others, seeing them avert their eyes when he looked their way, and tried to get Will to lower his voice but Will shook him off, standing up.
“Will, I could lose my job if I tell you.”
“Well you’d better work out what’s important to you, James, because you’re going to lose me if you don’t,” Will snapped as he stormed out of the waiting room, out of the main doors.
Lester sat back down, not sure what to do. He really didn’t want to lose Will, he loved him and he could see where the man was coming from; if their situations were reversed he probably would have acted exactly the same. On the other hand, he knew the consequences of breaking the Official Secrets Act, they all did, and had signed a binding agreement not to discus the ARC project.
“Lester, what are you doing?” He looked up as Connor dropped down into the chair next to him. “Go and find him, don’t just sit here.” He lowered his voice as he added, “You’ve been happier for the last few months, when you’ve been with him. Are you really willing to just let him walk away?”
Lester frowned at Connor, though whether it was for discussing his love life in public or for being right, he wasn’t sure.
“And if the only thing standing in the way of that is some stupid piece of paper, then get him to sign it too. Problem solved,” Connor told him. “Well, what are you waiting for?”
Flashing Connor a grateful smile and wondering when exactly the kid got so smart Lester stood up to follow Will. He found him outside, leaning against the wall and watching an ambulance pull into the drop off zone nearby. When Lester approached, he straightened up.
“Has something happened?”
Lester shook his head. “No, we’re still waiting. Connor will come out to get us when the doctor returns.”
Will sagged back against the wall. “So what do you want?”
“To talk. What you said earlier… I don’t want to lose you,” Lester began. “And you were correct; you have a right to know what happened.”
“James, I should never have given you that ultimatum. I don’t want to get you into trouble-”
Moving closer, Will pressed between him and the wall, Lester silenced him with a kiss. “Do you still want to know? I’ll have to ask you to sign a few papers later on, confidentiality agreements and such.”
Will nodded and followed as Lester led him to the low wall that ran along the side of the ambulance bay. A stressed-looking man had just come outside to sneak a cigarette, edging closer to them as though wanting to talk, and Lester didn’t want to be overheard.
“I’m not even sure that you’re going to believe me,” Lester told him, wondering how to start. How exactly does one say ‘I’m sorry, but it was a dinosaur that attacked your brother’ without being laughed at?
Will looked slightly confused. “Why wouldn’t I believe you?”
Lester smiled. “We’ll see.” He purposefully didn’t look at Will as he began to talk, wanting to get this out. “You remember when you asked me what Sid and Nancy were, and I couldn’t tell you? Well, they’re Diictodons. They’re a type of prehistoric mammal that lived millions of years ago and they came here through what we call an anomaly- it’s kind of like a rip in time. We discovered the anomalies about three years ago when something distinctively more dangerous than Sid and Nancy came through one. They kept appearing and, soon after that, the ARC project was set up to deal with them. The teams try to return the creatures back to their own times before the anomaly closes and traps them here, while trying to minimise the damage they cause.” He risked a glance at Will. “So, do you think I’m insane yet?”
“I don’t know. You’re asking me to believe that dinosaurs are able to come wandering through holes in time, and that you run some kind of… what? Top secret dinosaur hunting squad.”
Lester sighed. “That makes is sound like one of Connor’s comic books but, in essence, yes.”
“If anyone but you had told me that, I would think it was a tall tale,” Will told him, studying Lester’s eyes as though gauging his sincerity. Whatever he saw must have convinced him. “Is that what they were doing today?”
“Yes. The creature was a baby; they had almost got it back to the anomaly when the parents came looking for it. According to Connor, when the creatures turned on them, Mark put himself between it and Abby and Sarah to protect them.”
Will smiled. “That sounds like Mark. When we were kids he always used to look out for me, even though I was the eldest and it was supposed to be the other way around. He still does it; I’ve had to stop him from ‘paying a little visit’, as he puts it, to a couple of exes over the years.”
Before Lester could reply, he noticed Connor come out of the hospital, looking around for them and waving them over.
“Come on; it looks as though the doctor has returned.”
He and Will stood up, Will taking Lester’s hand and making him pause. “Thank you, James.”
Mark was released from the hospital two days later, his injuries not quite as bad as the amount of blood had made them seem. He wouldn’t be at work for a while, though, nor would a couple of the others. Danny was out of action with a plaster cast on his arm and three butterfly-taped gashes across his shoulder, and Becker’s cracked ribs meant that he was restricted to desk duty for the next few weeks along with Danny. Dev seemed to be fine and had been signed off as fit for duty by the medics, his head injury causing no lasting problems.
Will was taking the whole thing rather well, Lester decided. He had come in to sign the necessary paperwork a few days earlier, after which, Lester had shown him the rest by taking him down to the menagerie.
“Is it dangerous?” Will asked when they reached the mammoth enclosure, backing away as Manny put his trunk through the bars to snuffle Lester.
Lester offered the apple he’d put in his pocket before coming down here. Manny took it from Lester gently and devoured it in one crunch before looking out in case there were more treats.
“No, he’s not.”
“This is so weird, standing here and watching you feeding a mammoth. You treat him as though he was a pet.”
“Maybe I do have a slight fondness for him; he saved my life once,” Lester told Will. “The least I can do is to bring him a treat every so often.”
Will frowned. “I’m not sure I’m going to want to know the answer, but how on earth did a mammoth save you?”
Lester patted Manny’s trunk as he snuffled at Lester again, this time ruffling his hair. “A few years ago, I was trapped in the ARC with a future predator. I was wounded and knew that it would kill me if it got hold of me and so as a last resort I opened Manny’s enclosure. I like to think he was protecting me but in reality he was probably as pissed off with the predator as I was. Anyway, the damn thing was no match for those tusks.”
“I’m almost sorry I asked.”
“It’s ok. I know this is a lot to take in-”
Will shook his head. “It’s not that. I just hate to think of you in that kind of danger, hurt and fighting for your life. Now that I know what you all face every day, I’m going to spend a lot of my time worrying about it.”
“If it helps, I spend most days in my office and not having to face prehistoric or futuristic creatures,” Lester told him, glancing around to make sure that none of the other staff were nearby before he gave Will a quick peck on the lips. “But I do like the fact that you’ll be worrying about me.”
Lester stood at the door to Will’s home, watching as the young couple and their nine year old daughter walked away, carrying the little ginger puppy. Beside him, Will made a sound that was dangerously close to a sniffle although Lester knew he’d deny it later.
“Thanks for staying here with me for this,” Will said as they went back inside. “I wish I could keep them all but it just wouldn’t be practical.”
Both men looked into the living room as Will spoke, seeing the remaining three puppies playing with a dog toy and jumping away, startled, whenever one of them managed to make it squeak.
“They’re all going to good homes,” Lester reminded him. “You made sure of it; that little girl and her parents will give Frodo all of the love and attention he wants.” He paused before adding, “And hopefully a new name. I did say that letting Connor name some of the puppies was a bad idea.”
Will smiled; they had been naming the puppies before they were sold, mainly because it felt wrong to let them go without a name. He wasn’t expecting their new owners to keep the names, of course. “There’s only one more to name now,” he said, stooping to pick up the little female pup, watching as Lester reached over to scratch the little white stripe under her chin. The pup squirmed to get to him and Lester took her. “And I think you should do it.”
“Me?” Lester had never been asked to name a pet before. His mother had seen hair-shedding pets as something incompatible with her perfectly pristine home and would never let him have one, and his children had named their own gerbils, hamsters and goldfish over the years.
“Yes, because I want you to have her,” Will told him. “I know she’s your favourite and I just couldn’t bear to let her go.”
“But the hours I work…” Even as he said it, he knew that Connor would gladly come home to walk her at lunch time, and it wasn’t as though he lived far away from the ARC. He could nip home during lunch to take her for a walk and play with her for a while, and if he was going to be late home, Connor would happily walk her and keep her company. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Say yes. She could even stay here with Ruby during the day, if you needed,” Will offered.
Lester looked down at the puppy in his arms. He couldn’t say no, didn’t want to. Shifting her to the side he leaned in to kiss Will.
In his arms, the puppy looked between them before struggling to turn around. Almost sitting in Lester’s hands, her paws on his chest, she stretched up as far as she could to lick his chin. As he wiped off the puppy slobber, he smiled. His first pet.
“So, what are you going to call her?”
But Lester had no idea. Still cuddling the little puppy, he followed Will back into the living room to think it over while they waited for the retired schoolteacher who was also coming to collect one of the pups today.
“I’m going to come second to her from now on, aren’t I?” Will joked, watching as Lester sat down with the puppy on his lap, talking to her softly.
“No, of course not. It’s more like joint first,” Lester assured him with a smile. “And only you will be sharing my bed at night.”
Will laughed. “I should hope so.”
“I need to get her some things: baskets, bowls, toys. A collar and lead for when she’s old enough to go for walks. And food: What do puppies eat? And I’ll need to puppy-proof the flat, not that it will take much doing as we moved everything dangerous when Sid, Nancy and Connor moved in.”
“She can stay here until you’ve got what you need,” Will offered.
“Thanks. Do you want to come with me to Pet World on Sunday? I get the feeling I’ll buy all the wrong things if I don’t have someone to point me in the right direction. I’ll take you out to dinner afterwards to say thank you.” Lester stopped suddenly, looking down at his puppy. “I could call you Lily... No, I see you’re not too keen on that,” he said as tiny teeth began chewing at his sleeve. “Daisy?” he suggested, lifting his arm out of reach.
“You could let Connor help you name her, as long as you wanted her named after a character from Lord of the Rings or Star Wars,” Will teased, with a pointed look to where Gandalf and Chewbacca were playing.
Lester shook his head. “I think not. What about Ginger?” The puppy’s ears perked up and Lester smiled. “I’ll take that as a good sign- she’s not chewing my sleeve this time. Ginger it is.”
There was something awfully familiar about all of this, Lester thought as he stood at the bar, watching as his team of soldiers and civilians danced and laughed, getting wilder the more they drank, their voices getting louder as they attempted to shout to each other over the top of the music. Noise, Lester corrected himself. It wasn’t music, it was noise. Why did they always have to come to a club? This time, it was Abby’s birthday and so she had chosen the venue. Just once, he’d like them to pick a nice quiet pub to go to after the restaurant…
“Lester, you’re all on your own over here! Come and dance with us!”
Oh, hell. He saw Abby and Sarah reaching out their hands to him and realised that, standing up against the bar he had nowhere to retreat. With a desperate look around in search of an escape route, Lester fended off the women, grateful when someone intervened.
“Sorry, ladies, but his dance card is full for tonight,” Will told them, moving up beside Lester and sliding an arm around his waist. The women giggled, making ‘aww’ noises, but it wasn’t until Will kissed him that they finally gave up. Realising that Lester had something more interesting to do than dance, they wandered away toward a couple of the soldiers, trying their luck with them instead.
“I assure you that my motives were entirely selfish. Now, you owe me…”
Lester smiled. “And what exactly did you have in mind to repay this supposed debt?”
“You have to dance with me when we get home,” Will said, lowering his voice to whisper into Lester’s ear, “clothing optional.”
Lester’s burst of laughter made Abby and Sarah look their way again, the knowing smiles on their faces causing Lester’s face to heat up.
“We’ve been here for a while; do you think they’d mind if we left now?”
Will smiled. “Don’t be such a party pooper; I know you’re enjoying yourself really. Besides, Abby would certainly mind and, incidentally, so would the bartender who’s been eyeing you up for the past half hour.”
Lester turned to look, catching the eye of the blonde twenty-something man behind the bar and smiling self consciously. The man winked at him, making Lester turn away quickly as Will laughed.
“Why on earth would he be staring at me? He’s-” Lester paused, looking at Will.
“You can say he’s gorgeous and I won’t be offended. He is. And so are you, although you don’t seem to realise it.” Will looked at the bartender again. “You know, we could probably convince him to come home with us to play with…”
Lester shook his head. “I do not pick up strange men in bars.”
“Yes you do and it’s a good thing, too, or we’d never have met.”
“That was different. I wasn’t ‘picking you up’.”
Will’s smile widened. “So it’s not the idea of a threesome that you object to, just that he’s a stranger? Interesting…”
“I didn’t say that!” Lester protested, though now the idea had been planted in his mind, he couldn’t deny that he was thinking about it. The bartender was extremely sexy- lovely smile, big green eyes, and those arms… Lester wasn’t usually into men with tattoos but the tight-fitting t-shirt that the man wore was giving him tantalising glimpses of the ones on his biceps and Lester would have liked to investigate them further. He wondered just how hot it would look with him and Will together… Lester shook his head to get rid of those thoughts.
He’d had too much to drink, they both had, that was the only reason they were even discussing this. “You’re doing this on purpose. You’re a bad influence on me, Mr Andrews.”
Will’s innocent expression didn’t convince Lester in the slightest. “Who, me?”
“Yes, you. Now behave yourself.”
“Sorry James. You can spank me later.”
The unfortunate lull in the music meant that the entire team, and the cute bartender, caught those words. For a moment there was a shocked silence as Lester silently prayed for an anomaly to open up and swallow him, before a burst of laughter broke the spell. Lester glared at Will.
“Indeed,” Lester replied. He could already hear the teasing he’d get at work.
Later, as everyone got ready to leave, Lester was surprised when Abby came up to give him a hug.
“I’m glad you came,” she said, “It means a lot to me that you did.”
He returned the hug, somewhat awkwardly. While it was clear that she was inebriated and she had hugged everyone else as well, the sentiment was genuine. She really had wanted him here. “My pleasure. Happy Birthday, Abby.”
Abby glanced at Will, standing nearby. “He’s good for you, you know; we were all getting worried about you before, working all the time, but you’ve looked happy since you met him,” she said, adding, “And he is cute.”
“Yes, he is,” Lester agreed in a low voice, making her laugh before she hurried off to catch up with Sarah.
Looking around at the rest of them as they waited for taxis, he smiled. Though he would never admit it to the others, even under pain of death, he’d quite enjoyed himself tonight. Sure it had been noisy and crowded, and he would rather have spent a quiet evening at home, but it had been fun. He’d worried what the team would think when he brought Will with him, if they would treat him differently, but they hadn’t. They’d simply included Will as well.
Maybe they weren’t so bad after all.
For visuals, see the links at the top.