Friday Night Fever

Cath UK & Angelis

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1- The Night Listener

In a word, Jessica was feeling mellow.

She was sitting in a classy, just-opened bar outside a brand new luxury shopping centre, sipping vodka and Coke, surrounded by her favourite bunch of gay men. They sometimes accused her of being a fag hag, but she knew it was nothing more than affectionate teasing. In her own way, she loved them all, and knew her love was reciprocated - one way or the other.

Even though Jessica had been born and raised a small-town girl, she'd set out into the world with a mind that could scarcely be more open without the intervention of major surgery, given the amount of glamorous, dangerous novels that had been her greatest pleasure as a young girl.  Jessica had a strong, independent personality, a never-satiated yearning for glamour, and had something about her that made even the hardest, campest specimens of Canal Street manhood want to scoop her up and protect her from anything which might resemble the real world. And what better time to disappear down that glittering rabbit hole than a Friday night?

The beautiful men surrounding Jessica had regarded this tradition as their own unspoken rule since they'd bought their first drinks (or had their first drinks bought for them) and, while they weren't quite hardened veterans of the queer scene, they were all streetwise and gorgeous enough to get by.

It was Friday night. And they were on the pull.

Jessica, however, was not- she already had a boyfriend whom she loved dearly, and the affection she bestowed upon this group of guys was something special and equally powerful in its own way.

Sitting in front of Jessica, to the left, was Andy. He was wearing body glitter that accentuated his camp and flamboyant style, flirtatiously eyeing an equally camp but less appealing man sitting at a nearby table, while at the same time excitedly (and just a bit too loudly) raving to the group about Armistead Maupin's latest book, 'The Night Listener,' because he was a bit worried that some people thought he was devoid of culture and just basically a scene queen. Which he was, really, though no one had the heart to confirm it to him. Dressed in a tight sleeveless top that showed off his tender, fair-skinned arms, he was gesturing eloquently, and putting on a show - both for their benefit, and that of the guy at the next table. If gay men could be called 'slappers', then Andy was brilliantly qualified in Jessica's opinion- but in spite of his status as the biggest tart she knew, she still respected and adored him.

Leo, the sweetest, most whimsical member of the group, was sitting in front of Jessica, thoughtfully staring into the depths of a double vodka and Coke that had just cost him four pounds. He didn't seem unhappy, but on the other hand, he hadn't genuinely smiled all night, and seemed lost in thought. Not even the torturous remix of Mel C's 'I Turn to You' that was playing in the bar could jerk him back to the shallowly wonderful reality of Friday night, but maybe he was just feeling a little under the weather - since they'd met up in the bar, Jessica had watched Leo frantically grab pastel-pink cocktail napkins from the bar and sneeze into them, which he'd done so often that the young, edgily camp barman had taken motherly pity on Leo and left him a decent pile of napkins to cope with his sniffles and sneezes.

Still, it usually took more than a cold to get Leo down, and he still looked gorgeous. He was dressed in obscenely tight Levis which accentuated the length and musculature of his long dancer's legs, as well as drawing deserved attention to what he frequently referred to as his 'packet', an expression Jessica thought was amusing if appropriate.

In contrast with the harsh denim, Leo's T-shirt was soft-looking baby blue cotton, which hugged his broad shoulders, well-developed pectorals and tight six-pack in a manner that would have made a Tom of Finland fantasy drawing look pale. The blue of the shirt also brought out Leo's deep cobalt eyes and emphasised the strong, bright shock of his bleached blonde hair. Although he was astonishingly beautiful, more so than Andy, Leo was the considerate, thoughtful one within the group. He always watched out for the others, and his shoulder was the one they cried on - both literally and metaphorically.

Jessica loved him with a fierceness that sometimes surprised her.

Christiaan, a gorgeous, fine-boned blond exchange student from Finland - whom Jessica would gladly have had an affair with had he been straight and she single - was sitting to her left, avidly taking in Andy's spiel. Everyone knew that Christiaan had an unrequited crush on Andy, who staunchly chose to ignore the fact (or perhaps he really hadn't realised it), to Christiaan's quiet and well-concealed disappointment.

Jessica looked at each of them in turn, casually sipping her own outrageously expensive double vodka, and felt the familiar general feeling of well-being and love that usually overwhelmed her when she was in this pleasant state of intoxication.

She smiled at her friends, and then leaned over to put her arm around Christiaan.

"You are so cute," Jessica smiled, looking straight into the Nordic man's ice blue eyes. He smiled back shyly, cheeks reddening, and indolently stroked her smooth, shining black hair.

Jessica's unrequited crush on Christiaan was just as staunchly ignored by the latter as his was by Andy. This was how things worked - it was their fragile system. Some of their more practical friends - Leo included - wondered exactly when something would happen that would cause this delicate balance between the friends to tip.

He was about to find out.

"Hey, save some of that for me!" Andy butted in, interrupting his book review and giving Jessica an affectionately roguish smile, batting his long black eyelashes at her.

"I don't think so, Andy, she's got to give all the loving she's got to David later on." Leo had a real knack for well-timed sarcasm.

Jessica withdrew as if she'd just been slapped, even though she knew Leo was just teasing. Even though she managed to keep the smile on her freshly painted lips, silence bloomed at their formerly lively table, and Jessica felt a blush tinting her cheeks.

She knew only too well what Leo was referring to.

2- The Question

A week ago, Jessica had been clubbing with the very same group of guys in Cruz 101.

She'd had an awful cold, but nonetheless, she'd gone along - Friday nights were sacred. She remembered that evening as a blur of tissues, sneezing, coughing...and David.

She'd been taking a break near the dance floor, casually smoking a cigarette that had been torturing her sore throat, when the smoke had suddenly become just a tiny bit too much for her raw nose, and the slight tickle that had been causing her to sniffle and rub her nostrils a little all evening had suddenly and unexpectedly blossomed into an overwhelming urge to sneeze.

She'd searched frantically in her small black velvet evening bag for the packet of tissues she'd brought, fingers clumsily fumbling with her intoxication, her cold and the urgency of the situation, scrunching up her pretty face and trying vainly to wriggle her delicate nose from side to side, hoping that she could perhaps quench the dreadful tickle that way, when all of a sudden the sneezes struck.

He'd been watching her - she knew that now. Jessica wondered what he must have thought, watching her freeze, her rich, darkly painted lips parting, her fragile nostrils flaring as wide as they could go, and then expelling a heavy, nasal, "hhhaaaaTSHOO!" which came as a blessed relief and a cursed embarrassment.

Still tissue-less, she'd brought her cupped hands to her face, and sneezed into them, an uncontrollable series of five rapid-fire sneezes, each one heavier and wetter, until the tickle had receded somewhat. Her harsh, wet "'Tshoo!"s were lost in the roar of the music, but when she'd looked up, bleary eyed and stuffy-nosed, David had been standing near her like a beatific deity, with a ready handkerchief that she'd gratefully accepted.

When she was done blowing her nose, Jessica had swiftly pocketed the handkerchief. There was no way she could give it back to him with it's slimy cold-ridden content; she'd simply given him her best cheeky smile and said,

"Sorry, mate, I think you've just lost your handkerchief."

David had given her a knowing, sympathetic smile, and then began swaying to the music.

Oh-so-slowly, he extended his arm towards her in an outrageously old-fashioned romantic gesture that would have been more at place in a grandiose black-and-white movie. The invitation was clear and Jessica happily accepted it. She was always up for a fun flirting session, especially when she knew it was utterly harmless. She always had more fun dancing with gay men then straight ones for this very reason; she loved to flirt, but she loved her boyfriend even more.

He took her hand and led her onto the dance floor.

Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Andy, Leo and Christiaan, staring at her. She could almost read the question that was on all their lips: "Who is this guy Jessica just pulled?"

She knew they'd grill her afterwards, bunch of gossip queens that they were, but for now, David was all hers.

She took in his short, spiky brown hair, caring amber eyes and well-muscled build. The man was topless, and she could see well-defined muscles that started on his chest and went down his stomach before disappearing into the tight confines of his faded, obviously well loved blue jeans. He really was good looking; he seemed older than she was, but she didn't mind in the least.

They'd chatted a bit whilst dancing expertly, bodies rocking in time and pressed together as Jessica valiantly fought the irrepressible little tickle in her nose.

Between dances (Groovejet and Sky) David asked The Question.

"So, are you straight, gay or bi?"

That one was easy.

"Straight," Jessica answered with a smile. "I'm here with some friends, is all."

As if on cue, Leo appeared by her side, giving her a wink as he danced, ostensibly alone, next to her. He was always so protective of her. Had it been anyone else, Jessica might have felt as if she was being spied on. Leo was such a sweetheart, however, that she knew his intentions were always good.

She returned the question, though she was certain she knew what the answer would be. "And you?"

"Me? Oh, I'm straight. Totally."

She opened her mouth to question it, but a slow, ominous feeling of tightness seized her throat. The smoke machines had been vomiting a steady stream of fog onto the dance floor, which had already made her eyes water a little and irritated her nose, and somehow that moment of total surprise had ruined her composure. She had to give in to the fact that her sinuses were driving her crazy.

Jessica held up one silver-ringed hand to excuse herself, as her gorgeous green eyes slowly closed, one elegant white finger drifting under her nose, a litany running through her mind like tickertape - Ican'tsneezeIcan'tsneezeIcan'tsneeze -

Seeing her evident discomfort, David surprised her by drawing her into his arms as the music began again, loud enough to drown out the Rapture, never mind one of Jessica's sneezes. The shock of being clasped to the man's warm, bare, well-muscled chest shocked Jessica so much that the sneezes she'd been holding back escaped her, lightly spraying David's chest, "hhhhhahtSHOO! Tshoo! TissshOOO!"

Grinning, he released her. "Bless you."

"You're STRAIGHT?" she replied as she tried to regain her composure, her voice totally incredulous.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Leo trying his best not to laugh.

"What are you doing here then?" Jessica demanded, blushing ferociously.

David gave her a sly smile. "I'm here with a friend of mine who's gay. Besides, I like coming in gay bars...the atmosphere is nice and relaxed, and nobody picks fights here."

Jessica eyed him, dancing as well as any man there, his smooth chest glistening under the lights. David was straight? Jessica found this highly suspicious, but then again, it wouldn't be polite to start arguing the stranger's sexuality there and then. She simply smiled and continued dancing. Besides, she'd never see him again so it wasn't important...



They'd danced together all night and when she'd gone home, slightly drunk and not feeling very well, she'd left David her phone number against her better judgment.

He had called her two days later and, feeling more or less recovered from her cold, she'd gone dancing with him again, tempting fate, alone this time. They'd had a nice chat beforehand, during which Jessica understood that David was extremely interested in her. The man poured out honeyed compliments that did wonders for her ego. He even held her hand like a boyfriend. She knew she should mention that she was already seeing someone, but for some reason this little fact never did quite make it into their conversation.

Jessica just couldn't help herself; she was a flirt by nature, and even the few occasions where it had led to trouble hadn't cured her of this little flaw. Her boyfriend liked to tease her that she was what he termed a nympho-pyromaniac, someone who was attracted to men and couldn't seem to resist playing with fire.

And so they had danced together all night in the same club they had met in, bodies pressed so close that you couldn't have slid a ruler between them, even though several men glanced disapprovingly their way and others made a grab for David's well muscled buttocks.

Jessica couldn't help noticing that many of the men were unsubtly flirting with her companion, but even when she jokingly brought it up, he laughed and shrugged it off, assuring her that he knew none of them, and that he was as straight as they came.

Vodka and music had mellowed her out and she didn't want to think about anything even remotely complicated, so she just smiled and nodded.

When David leant in for a kiss late in the night, Jessica responded, even though warning bells were going off in the back of her head. She shouldn't, but her boyfriend wouldn't know and besides, David was so cute...

Jessica had been horrified the morning after. Of course, it had only been a kiss, but she knew David wanted more. More importantly, she was certain that she wasn't about to let him have it.

She'd told her friends the story.

Andy had teased her unmercifully about it.

Leo had been more understanding, and told her she should do whatever felt right.

And Christiaan...

Her sweet, blond Christiaan had looked into her innocent, green twenty-two year old eyes with his wise, twenty-seven year old ice-blue ones, which were full of similar experiences, before solemnly telling her that she should do the right thing, and tell David she was already seeing someone. This wasn't like her.

As if she didn't know that.

3- The One-Fag Fag Hag

This little pseudo fling with David was, of course, what her friends were referring to at the moment. All of them were looking at her expectantly after Leo's wisecrack, waiting to see how she would react. She felt the tension mounting at their table. Their group was meeting up with David in less than half an hour in Velvet, another classy bar on the edge of Manchester's Gay Village. What could she tell them? Jessica took another sip of her vodka.

"Oh fuck off, all of you."

She smiled broadly and saw them all relax - Leo most of all.

'It was only a kiss," she continued, "and I'm not interested. Well, not that way - he's really sweet as a friend. I just feel really bad about the whole thing and have been all week. I'll tell him, don't worry your pretty little heads about it."

"Yeah, right," Andy replied cynically. "I've got more important things to worry my undeniably pretty little head about tonight than this Dawson's Creek drama!" He took a hefty mouthful of his vodka, and then made a funny face at Jessica to show he meant nothing harsh, sliding into his usual camp patter. "No offence, Jess, it's not your fault that these sex-starved queens are making a big deal out of one drunken snog, but it's Friday night, and other visions are dancing like sugarplums in my poppers-addled head. Like that barman in Velvet. He's got the best arse I've seen in... oh, at least two days, and if I end up going home with one of those tired old leather-wearing lawyers in the chill-out room tonight instead of him I shall have to shoot myself, which would absolutely ruin this shirt."The whole table burst out laughing, Jessica included.

The tension dissolved, and they all went back to trivial conversation and getting drunk. Andy started kidding Leo about his lack of taste in men, something he always did at the start of an evening. To Jessica and Christiaan's delight, the two of them started bickering like an old married couple.

"I'm the one who has no taste in men?" Leo queried, raising his eyebrows up as far as they would go and doing his best to sound deeply offended. "Who went home with that horrible anorexic muppet from Bolton and then came back whining the next day about the unspeakable boils that covered every square inch of him?"

"Oh please Leo. It was dark, I was pissed, and how was I to know? He had gorgeous eyes and sensuous lips and I kicked him out of my flat as soon as I could convince him to get his clothes back on. It's not like I even touched the scally. And what about your little adventure with Mr Hugh Grant Look-alike Gone Wrong who could have won the "Mr Bad Teeth UK 2000" award? Did you ever ask him how he'd gotten those? And what I want to know is how the rest of his personal hygiene matched up - a few boils might be nothing compared to what Hugh had to offer, hmmm?" Andy's eyebrows moved up and down suggestively over his wide opened eyes as he flicked his tongue in Leo's direction.

Just when all of them were about to fall to the floor with laughter, Jessica put down her drink and said,

"Right guys, it's 10:20. Shall we move on?"

The group quickly made their way over to Velvet. Andy and Leo walked ahead, and Jessica held Christian's hand tightly as they lingered behind.

"Do you think I'm being silly?" she cautiously asked him.

"Well, yes," Christiaan replied with his trademark honesty. "You worry about it too much, darling! It was just a kiss, right?"

"There's no such thing as "just a kiss," Andy shrieked camply, turning his head to grin at Jessica's discomfort. "Look, the poor girl is obviously not getting enough Filthy McNasty, and who's going to tell her boyfriend? You go, girl!"

Leo gave him a disapproving stare. Jessica couldn't tell how much of his disapproval was another joke, and how much was genuine. "I don't know all that much about women, and sharing a flat with Clara hasn't really taught me all that much, but even if you do want to have an affair, why did you have to go to Cruz 101 to look for prospective talent? Isn't it supposed to be slags only in there? Though they are damned good looking..." Leo sighed wistfully.

"Where else would she go?" Andy smiled affectionately at her. 'Jess is the biggest fag hag in Manchester, and that's saying a lot! You don't expect her to be going for straight guys, do you?" He started doing a cracked and tuneless impression of Judy Garland, which they only recognised because of the hand gestures. "Ever since the world began... there is nothing sadder than... a one-fag fag hag...looking for the fag that got awaaaayyy..."

"Look." Christiaan attempted vainly to interject some sanity into the conversation. "I'm sure if you just tell him you're not interested in the right way, he'll be all right about it. You said he was a nice guy, didn't you? You can stay friends."

"You make it sound like I'm breaking up with him!" Jessica cried. 'We're not even dating!"

"Then you can still be friends, like we are," Christiaan said calmly. He was usually laid-back, but after the first five drinks he tended to attain a sort of Zen state.

"With you, it's different," Jessica told him. "It was purely platonic, no ambiguity, from the very beginning."

Christiaan laughed and squeezed Jessica's hand. They had met in circumstances very similar to David and Jessica's meeting, only Jessica hadn't had a cold and she'd approached him to dance. Being thoroughly homosexual, he hadn't even thought about hitting on her and it had been just as well; his friendship with Jessica had blossomed and she had become someone very special to him in the relatively short time they had known each other. And, of course, she was already spoken for.

None of this mattered anything to Andy, who was in full hyperactive flow, and was already thinking up ludicrous names for children like "Azalea" or "Magenta Star" even as he was happily designing David and Jessica's bathroom. Leo rolled his eyes - sometimes, the reason why he'd become such good friends with Andy was totally beyond him - and then an expression of great concentration drifted over his beautifully formed face as he stared straight ahead into the last of the evening's light.

Jessica was the first to notice. "Are you all right, Leo?"

"Oh God, he's been in a total bloody strop all night," Andy sighed. He often acted as though he forgot his friends possessed ears and/or vocal chords.

"I-hh... I'm not..." Leo stopped in the middle of the street, unable to help it, holding a finger under his nose and furiously trying to fight off a slowly but inevitably oncoming sneeze, 'I just...hI- just need to snee...sneeze - hahh.. .haISSHHHOOO!" The sneeze bent his powerful frame almost in two as he hunched low, catching the explosion in his cupped hands.

"Bless," Andy said dismissively, giving his friend's arm a limp-wristed caress. "Look, are we going on the pull here, or what?"

4- The Strangers

They entered Velvet single file.

Andy was the first to spot David, and he immediately leaned over to Jessica, stage whispering:

"Guess who's ready and waiting for you?"

"Oh piss off," Jessica hissed through her clenched, gritted smile.

Andy shouted, "Has anyone got any KY Jelly?" with such astonishing loudness that Christiaan started a little, and - in spite of his crush on the flamboyant loudmouth - did an extremely good impression of someone who'd never met Andy in his entire life.

Of course, Jessica had seen David as well; he was standing at the bar with his back to her, broad shoulders straining forward as he took two glasses from the competent hands of the gorgeous drag queen behind the bar. As Jessica observed, he turned to one side and handed one of them to a pretty blond girl who looked to be about eighteen.

"And he's got a right slapper with him, too! Is he two-timing you already?" Leo murmured into Jessica's other ear. He grinned wide enough at the dirty look he received to look like a jack o'lantern in the subdued lighting.

Andy clapped his hands in delight. "Oh my God. I only just got in here, and already someone's got better odds for a threesome than me! You bastards!... I'm going to the bar."

David spied the group and walked towards them.

As Leo, Andy and Christiaan made their way to the bar, David cornered Jessica and gave her a peck on the cheek.

"What do you want to drink, beautiful?"

"Oh, nothing, that's fine, I'll get it myself."

Jessica smiled nervously and made as if trying to get past him, but David wasn't having any of it.

"Really. What do you want." It was more an order than a question.

"Um... Vodka and Coke?" Jessica blushed, wondering if she should feel bullied when the man was doing her a kindness.

As David turned to join the rest of her friends at the bar, causing Andy to bring out his aging stash of double entendres, Jessica was left alone with the blond girl.

The creature gave her a saccharine smile and extended a hand. "Hi! My name's Destiny!"

Her accent was distinctly, brashly and overwhelmingly American. Texan, most likely, Jessica thought. She was about to burst out laughing as this comical introduction, but immediately suppressed it.

"Hi, Destiny," she didn't quite manage to keep her voice from cracking as she said the name, "I'm Jessica."

"You're David's girlfriend, right?"  The blond girl stared at her with blue eyes as wide as saucers, as she purred the question in her slow southern drawl.

Jessica couldn't help but notice how pretty she was, in an indolent, fragile china-doll kind of way. All the straight boys always went mad for girls like Destiny. They were attracted to their blonde innocence and their soft-spoken ways, though Jessica knew full well how misleading such first physical impressions could be. Most Blonde Angels she had met had turned out to be Poisonous Vipers.

"What? Er, no, we're just friends," Jessica mumbled, suddenly feeling horribly ill at ease. "Why?"

It was Destiny's turn to blush. "Oh, I'm sorry, I just though... Never mind... Oh, hiiiiiiiii!"

Her tone changed from embarrassed to definite high-pitched, squeaky relief as she drawled out her greeting for David, who had materialised next to her.

The guys had returned, bearing identical glasses filled with more vodka and Coke. They all stood stiffly (apart from Andy, who needed a full body cast to manage that) as Jessica introduced her friends. David then introduced Destiny, which drew a very conspicuous snicker from Andy. He immediately thereafter put on his own Innocent Angel face, which was far more accomplished than Destiny's. Jessica shot him a decidedly dirty look; she knew him well enough to know he was enjoying the whole situation tremendously.

"What a divine name!" he cried, pumping Destiny's hand in his most limp-wristed manner. "My name's Andrew Serenity Twiglet III, and these two foxes - " indicating Leo and Christiaan with a broad sweep of his hand - "are Leo Riverchild Kirkland and Christiaan Pop Tart."

"Charmed!" cried Destiny, batting her eyelashes so hard they looked in danger of becoming detached.

As the group very civilly shook hands, David eyed Jessica with a proprietary gleam in his eye.

The object of his affection promptly began looking around skittishly, as if already planning routes of escape.

At that moment, a sleek, beautiful woman panthered over to the table, shouting, "Darling!" in what could have been a parody of media whoredom and could actually have been her natural manner, and kissed Leo on the cheek, leaving a big Betty Boop lip-print. She was so tall and strong-boned, her costume and coiffure so elaborate, that Christiaan and Andy could have been forgiven for wondering if she was a drag queen, until she pulled away from him and grinned at the group, revealing more eyelashes, lips and cleavage than even the most accomplished queen, with the best dresser in the world, could boast. She was wearing a floor-length scarlet gown that owned the concept of tightness, and made her look as though she'd been raiding Jessica Rabbit's wardrobe.

There was a man at her side, an achingly gorgeous and absolutely gay creature of loveliness with dark hair and perfect teeth, in an over-formal charcoal pinstripe suit which was obviously tailored, as the fabric seemed moulded to every single attribute he possessed.

Leo introduced them, "Everyone, these are my friends - Charlotte Katz, Alexander Edwards."

His manner had already changed noticeably, and even as his hand swam dreamily around the group, indicating each one of them, his usually calm, chilly blue eyes were locked on Alexander's dark ones.

"Oh my God," said the woman, running one hand through her perfectly arranged black hair as she smiled at Destiny and Jessica, "Is my twisted little mind getting the better of me, Leo, or are you actually playing with girlies?"

Leo made a noise that could have meant something but, then again, could not have.

Charlotte gave the assembled group a surprisingly weak-looking smile and turned away from them- raising one long, tapered hand in a languid warning- and expelled a violent, throaty, "HATSSSCHHOOOO!"

A torrential blast exploded from her nostrils, which was unkindly lit up by a roving golden spotlight over the dance floor, giving the woman an unlikely halo.

She shook her head violently, and then looked back at them. "Sorry about that," Charlotte said calmly. "I've had a real bitch of a cold all this week and I don't think I've quite got rid of it, so don't come too close to me."

Leo smiled at her sympathetically. "I know. I think Clara gave this damn thing to me as well! In fact, I know she did."

Alexander, awkwardly silent, reached in the pocket of his trousers and handed Charlotte an immaculately folded hanky, which she took gracefully, murmuring, "My knight in shining Armani." Then she blew her nose with a force and abandon that surprised her audience, and looked back up at Leo and Alexander. "I may be stoned, drunk or the victim of a cough medicine overdose here, but you two "lovebirds' haven't said a word to each other."

Andy, never one to miss a sticky situation, even though he was generally about as subtle as a drag queen's wig, quickly analysed Alexander Edwards and ushered the unwieldy group to a nearby candlelit table as he shook the man's hand.

"Hi, dollface," he chirped with even more camp than he thought was strictly necessary, "I'm Andy."

Andy was not too surprised when Alexander mashed his fingers with the forced over-firmness of a business closet case - it was a handshake that incontrovertibly stated, "I'm not queer," and it felt to Andy like the habit of a lifetime. "Alex. Pleased to meet you."

"Oooh, likewise." Andy knew that this man was forbidden fruit, but a little bit of flirting did no one any harm (Jessica, at that point, would most definitely not have agreed with him). Andy prattled on, "And if Leo's said anything about me, it's all lies, he's a degenerate, compulsive liar, but please forgive him, his dad's a High Court Judge you know."

"You're the compulsive liar," Charlotte grinned, "he's the barman in the Frog and Bloomers in Rochdale."

Andy responded with an exaggerated "Shhh!"

Leo got up too suddenly, with none of his usual grace. For a minute, he looked less like a beauty-blessed swan, and more like a lanky schoolboy.

"I'm going to the bar," he said, too loudly.

"How do you know what we want to drink?" Charlotte looked up sharply, and Jessica knew that wasn't really what Charlotte was asking. The woman's immense blue eyes read - Calm down.

Leo sighed and pointed to each of them. "Christiaan, vodka and Coke. Jess, vodka and Coke. Andy, Smirnoff Mule. With a green straw-" Leo paused, feeling - to his chagrin - an uprising tickle deep inside his nose. He said quickly, "Excuse me," and cupped one hand in front of his nostrils like a shield, waiting patiently for the tickle to come to its explosive climax.

Alexander and David transfixed, watched Leo's face transform into a typical, classic I'm-going-to-sneeze expression. Wrinkles appeared in the bridge of Leo's nose, his eyes squeezed tightly shut and he let out a heavy, wet, laboured-sounding "Haiiihhh-SHOOO!" which seemed to shake his whole body in a light spasm. "Uhhh," he exhaled shortly and sharply, rubbing a wrist under his nose. "Sorry." He sniffed wetly. "I've really got the tickles." Before anyone could say anything, he quickly went back to his litany of drinks.

"Destiny - raspberry Source. Alexander - gin and tonic. Charlotte - absinthe and bat's blood."

"If they're out of bat's blood, I'll just have a plain old boring Foster's," Charlotte said, removing a slender joint from her cigarette case.

"David?" Leo asked. "What are you drinking?"

"I'm fine," David said, letting his hand stray slowly down Jessica's back.

"I'll help you," Alexander said to Leo. He said it quickly, but Leo was already forging his way through the crowd.

'I'll go," Charlotte said easily, standing up. 'Oh, by the way, is anyone here a lesbian?"

Destiny and Jessica shook their heads.

"Only on Sundays," Andy offered in a helpful tone.

"Char, can we..." Alexander looked pleadingly at her.

She cut him short. "Alexander Edwards, you wanted to come here! I got you out of that tedious bloody schmoozefest at Ray's, didn't I? And instead of just getting calmly monged somewhere, you threw me and this ridiculous dress in the back of a taxi and insisted that we penetrate Canal Street because you're having commitment issues."

Her dainty nostrils were flaring most inelegantly, and her breath was beginning to come in frantic hitches, but like any good girl friend, she continued chewing him out. "Now we've found your Prince Charming, and if you don't tell him how you feel about him, so help me God, I will tell your mother that we're not really dating -" She inclined her lavishly coiffed head away from him and let out an explosive sneeze, as though it was a strange sort of postscript, ribbons of dark hair flying out behind her. "HA-ISSHHOOOO!"

'Fuck's sake," said Andy, "It's like being in a bloody doctor's waiting room, this."

"You should know, the amount of time you spend in the clap clinic," Charlotte shot back. Rubbing her nose, she stormed off to the bar, muttering, "Who the fuck am I anyway, Jerry Springer?"

Alexander looked after her. He watched as Charlotte sexed up to the bar and put her hand on Leo's back, soothing him a little. Jessica watched Alexander's face. There was a beautiful liquid fullness in the man's eyes and lips - he could have been Charlotte's twin brother - that contrasted starkly with the chiselled bones of his face and his over-lacquered hair.

This man was not used to the scene, even though he looked about thirty. He was trying too hard. He wasn't just on the pull - he was in love.

"Park your bones," Andy yelled at him. "I'm sitting with this one. Alex love, can you pretend we're an item, 'cause that scary bloke with the nipple rings who works in the Alliance and Leicester is giving me the eye. I can't remember whether I've had him or not, and I don't want to waste another Friday night shagging the same bloke. If you want to stick your tongue in my ear, by the way, that's fine."

Jessica remained silent as the group began another session of friendly banter, Christiaan looking increasingly pissed off every time Destiny called him "PopTart."

"God, you English guys have such weird names!" This exclamation, punctuated by a drunken giggle, was her only comment on the subject.

Christiaan began to explain that he was about as English as she was, but she'd already started having orgasms about how wonderful Irish accents were, so he gave it up and stared longingly at Andy, who was staring longingly at someone he totally swore had been in Queer as Folk and had shagged a mate of his, no honestly, etc.

Just as Charlotte and Leo, both looking a little better, returned, David's hand moved onto Jessica's upper thigh. She quietly pushed her chair back and excused herself to go to the bathroom.

5- The Resolution

Jessica stood in front of the mirror. Her face looked uncharacteristically tense and hard despite its alluring sheen of makeup, and the swirling falls of silky black hair that framed it. Jessica leaned closer until her forehead touched the cool glass.

"What the fuck are you doing, girl?"

Her voice sounded unnaturally loud in the small space and she immediately let out a startled laugh. If anyone were in either of the adjacent stalls, they would surely think she was mad!

She laughed a little bit too long, just because it felt nice to do it in spite of her inner turmoil, and then leaned against the wall, where she just let herself slip slowly until she was collapsed in a messy heap on the floor. She closed her eyes and let her chin fall towards her chest, feeling moist warmth bloom behind her closed lids.

Jessica had no idea how long she'd been in there when the door suddenly creaked open and a gently accented voice spoke to her,

"Are you all right, Jessica?"

At first, opening her bleary eyes, she thought she was looking at an angel. Then she realised that it was Christiaan looking down at her, surrounded by a golden halo of light. In her drunken haze, Jessica thought he'd never looked as beautiful as he did in that instant.

"No," she said softly. "Please sit with me."

He complied, and she immediately snuggled into his arms. All she wanted was to be held at that moment, and to be told she was a good person. There was nothing Jessica loathed more than confrontation, no matter how trivial.

"It's all right sweetheart," Christian crooned, the word "sveet-haart" sounding a trifle too harsh and absolutely adorable to Jessica's ears. She burst into tears.

"I'm such a ba-bah...bad person! He'll think I'm leading him on, and I-... I love my boyfriennnnnnd..." Jessica knew how pathetic she sounded. It was the drink that was making her act so melodramatic, she knew, but she still felt miserable.

Christiaan only held her tightly, whispering again and again that things would be fine, that she should be straight with David, that her friends would be there for her and that he loved her.

"I love you too," she whispered, finally feeling better. Jessica meant it fully, though of course not in 'that' way.

She hugged Christiaan fiercely.

Leo stuck his head into the room at that moment, looking every bit like a worried father at seeing his friend in tears. "You guys all right? Oh my, what have we here! Shall I get the others?"

"Yes, we are," Christiaan replied cautiously, still cradling Jessica. "We'll be with you in five minutes. And what the hell's up with you, anyway? Jessica gets to be the drama queen tonight, you know! We can't have two of them and Andy in the bargain. It's bad for group morale."

Leo leant against the wall with the dreamy look of a man who was staring into utopia. "He loves me!"

"Oh my God," Christiaan groaned, aiming for the same tone and cadence used by Vince Tyler in Queer as Folk, something he couldn't quite pull off despite his best efforts because of his accent.

"No really," Leo said. "We went to stand outside near the canal to get some air, and he just said he couldn't stop thinking about me, and he wants to get together for real, I mean we're talking about buying furniture here - Ikea, here we come!"

Christian rested his head in his hands. "This is getting really silly. Bugger off back to Suit Man already, Leo, and tell me about it tomorrow. I'm sure you will, anyway, probably when I'm in the middle of recovering from the world's biggest hangover and he's just brought you bagels in bed."

Leo left, singing, 'I feel Pretty.'

Christiaan got up to hand Jessica some paper from one of the stalls. Jessica blew her nose forcefully and gave her rescuer a red-eyed smile. "Thanks for being there for me. I love you so much, you know?"

"Yes, I know." His smile was filled with affection; in truth, he sometimes felt protective of Jessica the way he would of a younger sister, and he hated seeing her like this. "Ready to go back to... um... "

"David?" Jessica completed his sentence for him. She steeled herself. "Yes. I am. Let's go."

Jessica put on a brave smile as she and Christiaan rejoined the group. She noticed that her glass and Christiaan's were still on the table, the only ones that hadn't been drained.

"Hurry up and drink, girls! We've got to go say hi to some friends in Bar Thirty-Straight before we go out clubbing!"

Andy's nickname for Bar 38 made Jessica smile as she sat down again next to David who immediately put a proprietary hand back on the base of her thigh.

She and Christiaan quickly finished their drinks. They were off to the next bar, the last they would visit before their mad dancing session officially began.

As they entered, Christiaan caught her eye and shot her a distinct "do it now" look.

Jessica's chin dipped in a subtle nod, and she reached for David who had entered in front of her, talking to Andy. While the others went off with Destiny to find the friends they had wanted to meet, Jessica brought David to a relatively private corner of the bar before finally confronting him.

She took a deep breath and almost winced at the sound of her heart drumming away in her ears.

"David, look, about before... I think you're really nice and all, but you never asked me if I was seeing someone and I just thought I ought to tell you that I am. I've already got a boyfriend and I love him." David's eyes widened, and Jessica felt her throat tighten. How would she get out of this?

"I just thought I should be honest with you, and tell you that I really like you, but as a friend. I mean, you're a really nice guy and I like you, just not 'that way', you know? You're really sweet, I just..."

Jessica paused, not sure what else to add. What would he do? Her whole body was tense, and she felt ready to dodge if his hand should rise up and try to deliver the stinging slap she felt she deserved. She was quite surprised when David only smiled and leaned close in order to give her a hug.

"That's okay, Jess, I like you too. I want us to be friends."

Jessica was so surprised she thought she just might melt with relief. That was it? He didn't have a problem with being just friends? This was almost too good to be true! She felt as if a huge weight had just been lifted from her slender shoulders, and the smile that bloomed on her blackberry-painted lips as she returned his warm bear hug was absolutely beautiful.

"So, shall we go find the others?" David asked at last, pulling back.


6- Enter the New Boy

The atmosphere improved considerably after their talk; since the evening had begun, there had been a sense of impending doom in the air, but when the two responsible for that mood returned, smiling and chatty, everyone sensed things had changed for the better. Even Alexander and Leo were chatting shyly, an almost visible impenetrable shield sealing them off from the others. There were no come-ons from the other men in the bar now - everything about the two men screamed, "Couple." Charlotte, a satisfied matchmaker, was having an interesting debate about sexual politics and lycra with Andy.

The only one ostensibly not having a good time, in fact, was Destiny. She was standing slightly apart from the group, sipping her raspberry Source through a neon pink plastic straw and lavishly eyeing the cute guys around her.

"You wouldn't believe what that loopy bimbo just said to Christiaan," Andy muttered to Jessica as she reached his side. "She finally worked out that he wasn't English, but then she started going on and on about how boring Finland is!" He put on a fake, exaggerated Texan accent before launching into excellent and hilarious imitation of the blonde: "'Oh, like, I went Finland for, like, one week, and I've only, like, seen this one city, but there's, like, nothing to do there. It, like, suuuuuuucks.'"

The waving of his hands and the rolling of his eyes had Jessica nearly in tears as she replied. "No way!"

Andy rolled his eyes again. "Oh yeah. You should have seen her! Christiaan was bloody ready to slap her, and you should have seen Leo's face! And she was going on and on about how her dad used to be in the mafia in the States and he was killed, you know, giving lines like 'if you live by the sword, you die by the sword, dude."

Jessica couldn't take his hilarious impressions of Destiny any longer.

"Stop! Stop Andy, please! I'm seriously going to piss myself if you don't stop right now!"

"So did you tell him?" Andy was all business once again.

"Yeah, I did."

"How'd it go?"

"Fine. We'll stay friends."

"Good." He reached for her hand and kissed it. "You're my favourite fag hag, Jessica. And I'm glad you're not marrying David. We'd have to hang around with Destiny, for fuck's sake."

They found their way into Cruz 101, went down the stairs, and got plastered with Shag Tags (for the uninitiated, this is an arrangement whereby you are given a sticker with a number when you enter and you can then leave messages on a board to communicate your feelings to anyone you fancy, thus avoiding the need for cheesy chat up lines). The group had a final round of drinks and launched onto a smoky dance floor that was already loaded with swaying forms.

Within minutes, handsome Christiaan disappeared, spotting a man he knew at the far end of the room. Destiny also drifted off, but no one paid her much attention, as all but David had decided they really didn't care for her. Andy was flirtatiously and exuberantly dancing, eyeing up handsome blokes that shimmied next to him and happily singing along to Kylie Minogue's 'On A Night Like This' while showing total disregard for anything that could possibly be called a 'tune'.

Jessica lost herself in the rhythm, her arms and legs moving gracefully, completely blissful and drunk as she danced with Charlotte.

David danced next to the two women, occasionally playfully flirting with Jessica, but they both understood that this time it meant nothing. He also paid quite a bit of attention to Charlotte, and enquired how she was feeling whenever she let rip with one of her great, blasting, "HaahhhTSCHOO!"s. He certainly had a thing for damsels in distress, Jessica thought. Every time she sneezed, Charlotte shook her head violently and declared that she really should be at home in bed, but showed no real signs of wanting to go there, although when the smoke machines came on her sneezes definitely got the better of her. She excused herself to Jessica and ran to the ladies' room, her sneezes echoing off the cavernous walls of the club even in spite of the crowd. David disappeared -apparently to find Destiny - and Jessica happily danced with Andy until he returned.

Leo and Alexander were trying to talk over the noise at the bar, but when Leo spied someone he knew, he dragged his friend onto the dance floor. Jessica realised that Leo looked suddenly more alive than he had in weeks.

"This is Theo," he said, before introducing them all in turn.

Theo looked to be about mid-twenties, Arabic and sweetly attractive in a jovial, chubby kind of way. He flashed dimpled smiles at everyone and in a minute became friends with all of them, as he good-naturedly bobbed from one person to the next, giving them sociable winks and handshakes.

When he came to David, the latter immediately reached out and drew him near.

Under the amazed stares of the assembled company, he pulled Theo in for a good, long kiss.

When Theo finally broke it off, David smiled as he saw everyone's amazed gape and leaned over to Jessica, shouting, "Did I mention I was slightly bisexual?"

Flabbergasted, Jessica laughed and said, "You go for it babe. I don't mind!"

And she really didn't.

As the night progressed, the group danced on, having a great time flirting playfully with each other and the nearby men. Christiaan came and went, being chatted up by different men who were attracted to his Scandinavian good looks and distinctly sexy dance moves. He danced closely with Jessica who thanked him again and again for being there for her and for being such a great friend. They'd hug and smile at each other, and if Christiaan hadn't been so blatantly gay, they might have been mistaken for a couple.

Andy, flirtatious yet loyal, never strayed too far from the group. Leo would have told him off if he had, always being on the lookout for his flamboyant friend.

Destiny was seen at regular intervals, always in the arms of a different guy and engaging in active sessions of what could only be termed 'tongue wrestling'. During the evening, Leo counted eight different men, but as he couldn't resist gleefully telling the others at regular intervals, "Who knows what she's doing when she's out of sight?"

David repeatedly found his way into Theo's arms and the two of them kissed again and again as the night progressed, sometimes breaking off to dance separately but always winding up together again. Their bodies were rubbing up against each other and there was often a noticeable bulge in Theo's flatteringly tight trousers.

As Jessica watched, amused, Leo leaned in close to her and said, "You know, I asked that David earlier if he was gay, and he and came right out and said 'yes'".

"No... He did?" Jessica's tone was sheer disbelief. The nerve of him!

He paused, the expression on his face switching from involved to distant as he felt an ominous twinge somewhere in the very back of his left nostril. Leo sniffed, feeling the itch deepen dramatically into a burning sensation. His lips pursed slightly and his eyebrows drew down, giving him the look of somebody concentrating very hard on a problem.  He clapped a hand to his mouth, but a visible spray still shot from his nostrils as he sneezed,

"HahahSSHOO!...excuse me... HaISSHOO... Oh..."

Leo rubbed his nose, eager to continue the conversation. "Anyway, he's certainly into guys. He must have grabbed my arse about six times by now."

"God, what a slag," Charlotte, taking a break from dancing, casually chimed in. "Are you kidding?"

She knew he wasn't. There are none so blind as those who refuse to see the obvious. And besides, Leo's arse was a hard target for a gay bloke to avoid.

"I'm so not kidding, babe."

"Fascinating," Charlotte sighed. "He just tried to chat me up too, walked into the women's toilets without a care, I'm telling you. I told him to fuck off but he just stood there staring at me. I was sneezing all over him, but that didn't seem to stop him-"

Something clicked.

Jessica stood in the middle of the dance floor, and a wave of stupefied relief flooded through her. She laughed as she realized how close she had come to making a very big mistake.

"So he told you he was straight, did he?" Leo exclaimed, filled with self-righteous anger on her behalf. "What a cheeky bastard! Move over, Stuart Alan Jones!... He does look a bit like him too, doesn't he? Too bad he's a whore... no offence, love, but you don't want him now, do you? I mean, last week, you were out of your head on Night Nurse and... Why are you laughing?"

"I am SO glad I told him to piss off."

"Yeah, you should be, babe... He's a right wanker, that one!"


Charlotte observed, sniffling, "it looks like he's poor Theo's problem now."

The three of them giggled like naughty children and danced together as they devoured the kissing pair of men next to them with bright, ravenous eyes. Theo caught their eager stares and winked at them from the depths of a snog, as if to say, "guess who got lucky tonight!"

Theo had told Jessica earlier on, when he wasn't busy kissing David, that this was his first time out in a gay club. The fact that the man was still discovering himself immediately touched her heart and Jessica couldn't help but hope that David would be nice to sweet, eager, friendly Theo.

As the evening wore on, it became apparent that Theo was becoming nervous about how things were going to turn out.

"I don't know what I'm going to do if he asks me to go back to his... I've never 'done it', you know," he yelled at Leo through the music.

Jessica couldn't help overhearing their conversation and smiled privately as she saw thoughtful Leo slipping him a small blue and orange 'gay men's safer sex pack' he had picked up gratis at the bar for his friend. Then he kissed Theo on the cheek, and returned to Alexander.

"How are you holding up?" Alexander asked him. "We really should get you home soon, with that cold of yours."

"Yeah, all right..." Leo said, but he knew he had to sneeze again - his whole body was trembling as he focused on the burning pressure in his nose.

Alexander, desperate to comfort him somehow, moved his hand up from Leo's neck to his hair, a fine, bright, natural shade of blonde that seemed to him like solidified light.

Alexander watched his solid, olive-tan hand move through Leo's thick hair while Leo inhaled shakily several times, on the verge of a tremendous sneeze. His face drooped, jaw going slack as his mouth opened a little, and his eyebrows joined in the centre of his forehead, arching upwards. His head moved up a little, and then jerked forward as he let out an enormous


"Bless you, love," Alexander whispered, and kissed him.

7- The Grand Finale

They danced like mad things until 2:30, when the lights came on. Disappointed groans and cheers rang throughout the room as the tired crowd of dancers began the ritual sessions of parting hugs and kisses.

Christiaan, Charlotte and Jessica joined the queue to the coatroom, chatting away about nothing important, before re-joining Theo, Alex, Leo and Andy near the exit, their retrieved garments in hand.

"Where's David?" Jessica asked, scanning the room.

"Dunno," Theo said, looking in turn. "Said he was going to get his coat."

Charlotte and Andy spoke up simultaneously. "But David didn't have a coat when we came in..."

They all stood in confused silence for a moment, feverishly looking through the crowd in search of the missing man.

A loud, high-pitched whine was heard from the steps behind them. It was Destiny.

"But David's got all my money! He can't leave! How will I get hoooooome..."

Andy, angrier with David than with the hapless American girl, suddenly snapped. "Oh shut up, Destiny!" he sneered. "Get one of your, um, 'boyfriends' to take you home."

"Great idea," Charlotte concurred. "I think just I saw one of them getting rimmed in the chill-out room about a minute ago."

All of them were silent except for the slightly pissed Christiaan, who burst out in shocked laughter at this extremely unexpected and most appropriate of outbursts.

Every one of them had had the same thought, only they hadn't dared to speak it.

Destiny uttered a small outraged shriek, eyes blazing out at the group's wry grins and tired eyes, before turning away and walking stiffly out of the bar, her head held up high as a wounded May queen's.

Leo gave Andy a friendly pat on the back. "Your customary charm really shone through there, mate. I'm proud of you."

For all that his tone was dripping with irony, he really meant it.

"Bollocks," Andy shouted cheerfully. "All back to mine!... let's get takeout on the way, I could murder a pizza. Not you, Leo, don't look so worried, you can go home with Alex and he can rub you down with Vicks. Or you could just do the nasty to your heart's content."

"It's not that..." Leo glanced pointedly towards Theo who was standing a little away from them, still looking out into the slowly thinning crowd in the hopes of spying David. "We can't just leave the poor bugger like this!" he whispered, then raised his hoarse voice slightly. "Can you guys wait a bit? If you'll excuse me, I'll go look in the toilets to see if David's there."

The others waited, as Leo made his way through the crowd. He looked left and right, trying to spot the missing man, but to no avail. He entered the women's toilet first and found a drunken couple of men, kissing hungrily as one sat in a sink and the other stood in front of him. Neither was David, so he exited and headed for the men's room.

What he saw when he entered literally took his breath away.

David was definitely inside the men's room.

And someone was definitely inside David.

In fact, two men were definitely inside David.

The term "spit roasting" abruptly surfaced in Leo's mind, an expression he had picked up in Boyz, one of the gay magazines he sometimes liked to flip through. A man was said to be "spit roasted" when he had a bloke entering him from behind while he was performing fellatio on another. The idiom quite aptly summed up what was going on with David; a hefty black man was inserting a dangerously big erection into David's rear, while David was practically devouring a sexy ginger bloke's impressive shaft.

All three looked to be in throes of ecstasy that left Leo standing there with his mouth agape. The two men at each end of David didn't notice him as both of them were in the middle of powerful, torturous climaxes, but David seemed to sense him, and he looked at Leo lasciviously, without any shock or surprise in his calm amber eyes- if those eyes had a message at all, it was "What are you waiting for?"

If this all wasn't bad enough, fate was definitely proving its twisted sense of humour that night - Leo realised, with an encroaching sense of horror, that he had to sneeze.

There was no stopping it- he simply had to sneeze! The shock of the moment, the long night, and his cold came together with the strong reek of disinfectant and poppers in the room and conspired to tickle Leo's nose unbearably. He held his nose, closed his eyes tightly, gulped back his breath, but the damage was done- and David, reaching his own climax as the black guy thrusted the full force of his orgasm into him, was watching Leo struggle with the sneeze, his amber eyes positively alight with excitement.

Leo, his china-blue eyes wide with panic, couldn't help it- he let out a great, violent, "HAISSHHOOOO!" just as David - almost, but not quite, drowning him out - had one of the most incredible orgasms Leo had ever witnessed. The other two men barely had a chance to look round at Leo, as he bolted out of the toilets, only managing to slow his pace to a walk when he rejoined his waiting friends.

"I didn't see him in there," Leo lied to them. "He must've left."

The disappointed Theo struggled to put on a brave face. "Well, like I've been telling these guys, it's his loss." In truth, though he felt let down, he was also relieved at this turn of events. Things really had been moving quite swiftly for his first night out in the novel world of homosexuality.

Jessica couldn't believe it. "You mean, he just up and left? What a...what a TWAT!"

"What a twat!" Christiaan echoed.

The word sounded even more ludicrous because of his accent. Everyone, except Leo, dissolved into laughter.

"Will you be okay, darling?" Charlotte asked the young man.

"Yeah, I will be," Theo replied. "Like I said, his loss."

"Damn right it is. He wasn't worth it, you know," Christiaan put an arm around Theo's broad shoulders to comfort him. "You can do better. Much better."

"Oooohhhh...." Andy cried, falling down the steps with excitement. "Everyone's pulling, except me, you bastards. I hate you all!"

Leo waved him away. "Seriously, Theo, are you all right?"

"There is always next time, yes?"

Theo's cheerful optimism and good grace melted Jessica's heart, and she slipped a slender arm around his waist.

"Oh, you bet. There will be loads of next times. The fun never stops!"

Andy, recovering from his fall and feeling no pain of any sort, kissed Theo on the cheek. "Come on back to mine, and we'll see if we can pick out someone nice for you on the way, hmm?"

"Andy," Christiaan groaned, "Do we really need any more of this?"

"Of course we do!" Andy shouted. His face shone with the zeal of a religious man at the shrine of his worship as he stood in the doorway of the club, framed by a million bright lights, a million snatches of sound, a million beautiful men. "Being on the pull is the best thing in the WORLD!"

His audience looked calmly at him for a second.

Then - so perfectly that they couldn't have timed their response better if they'd tried  - they all shouted, "Fuck off!"

Laughing, the friends found their way out of the club and into the cool night air.