Local Manners

by Jules Jones and Alex Woolgrave

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"Only a complete idiot would have set this system up this way in the first place, and then invite somebody in to un-botch it," said Allard without thinking.

"Pardon?" said Baker, the local yokel.

Even Allard could see that what he'd just said was not the best thing to say to the people who were ultimately paying their wages. Which was, of course, Vaughan's fault: he knew Allard well enough by now (carnally and otherwise) to have some idea why it wasn't a good idea to invite Allard down-planet to make nice to the customers. Or at least Vaughan damn well ought to know Allard well enough. Most of his previous colleagues had taken rather less than two months to find out what he was like, and he hadn't been sharing living quarters as well as an office with them. Or screwing them for the last month.

"I apologise for my associate," said Vaughan. "Unfortunately the best Bastard Operator From Hell we could find conforms entirely to the stereotype."

Baker asked Vaughan, a little helplessly, why they allowed Allard to stay with them, given his personality. Allard decided that for once in his life he should be diplomatically silent and actually let Vaughan answer that, instead of butting in.

Astonishingly enough, the others also refrained from butting in.

Vaughan said, "Well, he's completely brilliant with computers."

"That can't be all of it. What's he like politically?"

"I haven't given up hope of one day convincing him of the syndicalist cause, however hard he tries not to be convinced."

Baker looked slightly shocked. "But there must be hundreds, or at least about twenty, people who can use a computer and have The Right Attitude. What's the real reason?"

"Not that it matters to the others, it's a purely selfish reason, but he's a bloody good fuck," Vaughan said.

Baker looked slightly more shocked, and as if he were trying not to be.

Allard tried not to laugh, but didn't bother to hide the fact that he was trying not to laugh.

Baker turned to him. "All right, why do you stay with him?"

"Well, he pays me on time, if I remind him, and the work's not too boring."

"No personal reasons?"

"Well, he's the best fuck I've had all month," he said politely.

"Allard, I'm the only fuck you've had all month!" Vaughan put in indignantly.

"Ah. That's probably why, then," he said calmly.

Baker looked around as if searching for an island of sanity in a perverse universe. "How do the rest of you feel about him being kept on as the Captain's whore?"

"How dare you call me the Captain!"

"How dare you call me his whore!"

"So you're not the Captain?" Baker said doubtfully. "Who is, then?"

"Actually, he is. But he won't let us mention it," said Allard.

"No, actually, the truth is that we have joint ownership," Claire said. "If we need a decision reached in a hurry, Vaughan takes responsibility for it as often as not."

"And you're not sleeping with him?" Baker sounded equally confused by that.

"Sleeping doesn't necessarily come into it. I meant," said Allard, with heavy patience, "that you seem to be making an unjustified assumption about sexual dominance that it took me about a night to fuck out of Vaughan." He paused, and then said thoughtfully, "I quite thoroughly enjoyed doing that." He checked Vaughan was within reach, and patted his property.

"So," said Baker doggedly, "what do the rest of you feel about it?"

"Well, it explains why Allard hasn't been the way he usually is, a vicious sarcastic frustrated bastard," said Harry. "I can't believe I missed that!" he muttered under his breath, "I went on night shift and forgot to set my bugging devices before I left. There's always something bloody on when I forget!"

Allard was quite surprised at that. He would have thought that Harry would have noticed by now that Allard had been carefully un-setting his bugs, even if he hadn't been able to bypass Allard's tricks.

Baker stared at Harry. "So - you're a voyeur?"

Claire rolled her eyes. "Give the man a cigar," she said wearily.

"Strictly equal opportunity," said Harry. "Men with men, women with men or women - if it moans, I'll listen!"

"And," said Baker, bemused, "you lot put up with this?"

"As long as they do the work," said Karen, "we don't feel we need to make a fuss about their personal lives. He's an appraiser - he values things," she added at Baker's blank look. "He's very good at it, and Allard's extremely good at his computer work. Why wouldn't we put up with their personal habits?"

"In other words, they're irritating but harmless," said Claire.

"Rather a good description of Harry," muttered Allard.

"A better description of you would be bloody annoying but harmless," said Claire.

He bowed slightly. "Accurate, apart from the 'harmless' part."

"Fuck him more often, Vaughan," Claire said. "It does wonders for his disposition."

His smirk slipped. It did do wonders for his disposition, but it would never do to have people notice that. Anyway, all this bitching was putting him in a bad mood, and it was approaching time to take Vaughan behind that bush and...just take Vaughan, in fact. "Can we get on with it?" he snapped.

"Wait until we've finished our business," Claire said. "He can fuck you later."

He would have said 'that's not what I meant' but in fact it was what he'd meant, apart from the difference in position. He turned his attention to business, and tried to be nice and not mention the fact that the set-up was an appalling mess too often.

Vaughan glared at him every time he wrinkled his nose and shuddered.

Allard decided that Vaughan hadn't realised that the glare was enough of a turn-on to make him even less likely to behave. Except badly, of course.

Two hours later (it had been two hours even if it felt like two months; he'd checked on his watch) he was grateful to hear Vaughan declare a refreshment break.

Considering what needed refreshment, Vaughan would be lucky to have time for a cup of coffee. Afterwards.

They left the main picnic behind, and picked up the basket with the tea and coffee. Allard wasn't impressed by the idea of a picnic, but kept quiet. He'd actually mentioned that on the ship, and Claire had said, "We know you don't like going into the big room with the blue ceiling, Allard, but the rest of us want some fresh air." This was unfair. He didn't have anything against fresh air, just ants, wasps, caterpillars and anything else that wanted to crawl inside the sandwiches. Not that that would put him off rolling around on the grass with Vaughan. Vaughan would be underneath; he could worry about the ants and the grass stalks and the putting-his-back-out.

"There's a rather nice bush there," he whispered to Vaughan.

"Yes, and Harry's already noticed you noticing it," Vaughan whispered back. "Do you want an audience?"

It was a rather more intriguing thought than he felt entirely comfortable with. "By this point, I don't think I care."

"Could I point out that equally attractive haystack a few yards beyond it? If lust hasn't narrowed your vision too much, of course," said Vaughan.

"Prickly," snapped Allard.

"So are you. And it's a traditional trysting-place-where's your sense of romance?"

Allard sneered. "Strangled at birth, I hope."

"It's a good thing I only like you for the size of your cock," said Vaughan.

Allard was glad that was at least partly true, and secretly glad it wasn't entirely true. To distract himself from this line of thought, he started considering the technical aspects of fucking in a haystack. "Won't work: nowhere to put the lubricant, and above all it's prickly."

"Didn't think you minded the odd prick here and there," Vaughan said on cue. "Anyway, who says we've got to fuck?" He moved up even closer. "We can fantasise about having to do it quick and quiet because we've just got to, never mind about it isn't sensible."

"Where's the fantasy in that? That's reality, if you hadn't noticed."

"Exactly!" grinned Vaughan, and grabbed Allard's hand. "Come on, then."

Allard considered resisting just to teach Vaughan a lesson, and decided that it would be more enjoyable to go along with it for now and show Vaughan the error of his ways later.

Vaughan, who had the luck of the devil, managed to find a ladder. When they had climbed up, they found a nice warm dent in the haystack where someone else had obviously been doing much the same thing as they were thinking about. "See?" said Vaughan, "it was a good idea!"

They crawled off the ladder and into the dent. It was a warm, if prickly, place.

"Now," murmured Vaughan a moment later, pulling a straw out of his mouth, "I've dragged you into this haystack completely against your will, Allard, and I'm going to have my wicked way with you whether you like it or not."

Allard hoped Vaughan didn't know quite how much effect that low voice had on him. He could always try going on top later.

"And you're not going to scream..." Vaughan murmured, although Allard was slightly unsure about that.

"You're not going to make a sound as I ravish you," said Vaughan, "because there are loads of people a few feet away from this haystack and you don't want them to know what's happening to your maidenly virtue.

Allard did his best to remember when he'd had maidenly virtue (about twenty years ago) and decided that being quietly ravished had distinct possibilities.

Vaughan poked one finger into Allard's shirt and rubbed a nipple.

Allard tried not to make any noise at all.

Vaughan crooned, "There's a sweet little thing now. I'm not going to hurt you. Well, not much."

Allard remembered that Vaughan was a couple of years younger than him, and instantly filed-and-forgot that datum. For the purposes of this fantasy, the facts that he wanted to remember were height (Vaughan had at least three inches on him) and weight (at least three stone heavier, which by all reason should feel uncomfortable rather than erotic). There was one sense in which he had an inch's advantage on Vaughan, but he'd probably remind Vaughan of that next time they reversed roles. There was a time and a place for everything.

This was the time and the place to 'fight back' against his 'ravisher'. He did so. As he bucked and swore (very quietly) and wriggled, his cock rubbed again and again against Vaughan, and he moved more and more rhythmically.

"You've forgotten I'm ravishing you, Allard," said Vaughan smugly. "Can't even get decent virgins nowadays," he muttered.

"Think of it as a compliment to your manhood that you have overcome my maidenly fears and transformed me into a raving slut," murmured Allard, licking Vaughan's ear.

"I think I'll break you in for the white slave trade and sell you on to a brothel."

For a fair price, I hope, thought Allard, but decided this wasn't in character and just squeaked. Then he squeaked again, as Vaughan demonstrated just how his resistance was to be broken down, with a good hard grip on Allard's cock through his trousers.

This made Allard lie down with no resistance at all, and Vaughan took the opportunity to undo Allard's trousers. "Mm," he said appreciatively. "Not exactly maidenly grey flannel any more, is it?"

"Your poor endangered virgin is on the way to his wedding night, and you're going to steal the benefit of the clothes he put on to tempt his husband."

Vaughan stole a grope immediately. "Mm. Silk."

Mm. Silk, thought Allard, and it's not only prettier than flannel, it seems to magnify every caress so that I can feel it all over me and keep doing that, Vaughan! and...

"You're getting quiet, my little debauched maiden," said Vaughan. "I'll have you confessing that you're enjoying this before I'm done with you."

"Please, sir," whimpered Allard, carefully not specifying whether he meant please stop or please don't stop.

"No," said Vaughan. "Your tears won't sway me. I mean to have you, and what I want I get."

"Where did you get this script?" murmured Allard, to distract himself from the fact that he felt he was enjoying even such corny dialogue.

"I always thought it ought to be my turn to gag you, next," Vaughan muttered, "but I never got round to it. Even when I was fully prepared. But luckily I've been carrying a hanky in my pocket just in case you'd let me..."

"I hope that's not a used-mmph!" said Allard indignantly.

"Well, if you're going to critique my script I can critique yours. Shut up, Allard."

Allard decided he couldn't bite through the hanky.

"Now you can try to scream all you want. Nobody will hear you now. Not even when I do this." Vaughan gave him a very thorough grope.

Allard bucked violently but silently. Vaughan nearly lost his grip.

"You're not going to escape that easily," whispered Vaughan.

Good, thought Allard.

Vaughan kneeled up a bit, leaving Allard flat on his back, and started to undo his own trousers. He was certainly enjoying this, even if he was a terrible scriptwriter. Allard stared greedily at the result, and noticed Vaughan noticing.

"Yes, take a good look, my pretty one. Bet you've never seen a real man before. Not like that fool you were going to marry." He grabbed Allard's hand and dragged it to his cock. "Feel that. Nice handful, isn't it?"

Allard had just about enough time to realise that Vaughan had indeed improved his underwear, and that it was now a sensible colour rather than fluorescent yellow, before he noticed that it was silk. Mm. Silk. Why had nobody told him it felt just as good to touch from the outside? Actually, somebody probably had, but this was quite...

He did a quick dimensional check of what was under the silk. There was plenty of it. It slid and moved interestingly in his hand. He moaned quietly.

"No, I will not have pity on you," said Vaughan.

He's enjoying this fantasy rather too much, thought Allard, looking at Vaughan's face. If it wasn't for his basic decency, he'd quite like to actually do this to me. He wasn't entirely comfortable with that, nor was he entirely comfortable with how interested his cock was getting. Vaughan wasn't touching him now, and he was aching, and rubbing at Vaughan so that he got the most peculiar tactile echoes in his own cock, and...

"That's enough of that," said Vaughan. "I'm not going to rape you."

Allard panted into his hanky. I do hope he's going to do _something_, he thought.

"I'm going to show you," said Vaughan, stroking Allard's wrist as he kept moving, "how much of a pleasure sex can be." Vaughan's other hand went unerringly to Allard's cock and began to rub it through the silk. "You can keep doing me," he said. "I'm just giving you an incentive."

Allard liked that. He liked the way silk moved against his cock-and against Vaughan's. They'd tried playing games before, but he hadn't had that true illicit thrill of the real possibility of getting caught since he was a teenager. Nor had he done much with silk (although he was now wondering why). He was by no means a virgin, but this was a new experience.

He whimpered softly. This time it wasn't for effect.

"Yes," murmured Vaughan, "you like that, don't you?"

Vaughan wasn't saying that for effect, either.

Allard whimpered again, and spread his legs a bit.

"You will enjoy it," said Vaughan. "I'll see to that." He gently, teasingly, released Allard's cock from the silk underwear and equally gently pushed the silk down under Allard's balls, displaying them and taking the opportunity to fondle them. "That's more comfortable now, isn't it?"

Allard was uncomfortably aware that back when he had been some approximation of a nervous virgin, this sort of forced seduction from an older, more experienced man would probably have worked.

Vaughan seemed to pick up on that. Taking his hand from Allard's bits, he reached to stroke his face gently with a fingertip, as if to say, yes, there's a person in there, not just a sex-toy. "I will be careful with you," he murmured, quite seriously.

How dare he notice, Allard thought crossly. It made this more real, and it was too real already.

Then Vaughan moved abruptly and slightly clumsily, bending down to suck the very tip of Allard's cock. Allard stopped caring about what was real or not.

Vaughan was good at this. Why did we always waste so much time fucking? Allard thought, slightly dizzily, as Vaughan gave him the benefit of a virtuoso performance. First the tip, very delicately, and then about half the shaft-if it wasn't so good, he'd be trying to move to get himself further down Vaughan's throat, but he was at the stage where he couldn't really move. It felt wonderful. It would be good manners to-but he couldn't reach anyway, and all Vaughan seemed to want him to do was lie back and enjoy himself, so he did. Vaughan tightened the suck, sort of moaned around him, quiet but very noticeable, and Allard gave himself up to pleasure. A little more of this, and he'd...

Vaughan stopped, and moved away.

Have you lost your mind! snapped Allard's brain, while his mouth came out with yet another bloody whimper.

"Shh," soothed Vaughan. "I will take care of you."

Come here and let me kill you with my bare hands for stopping! He whimpered again.

Vaughan tucked him back inside his silk underwear. He _has_ lost his mind! Allard decided furiously. He moaned, and tried to get Vaughan's hands rubbing him instead of tidying him up. He moaned again, rather plaintively, when he felt the silk move against the heat of his cock-it felt good, of course it felt good, but the idea was to get him out of his clothes, unless this was Vaughan's idea of a joke.

"I told you that you'd be begging me for it by this time," Vaughan murmured softly. "You're not the first, you know." He lay down on Allard, silk against cock against silk. "I like to hear them say it. Tell me you want me."

He took the handkerchief off.

"Please fuck me," Allard begged quietly, before his brain caught up with what he was saying.

"It will be my pleasure," said Vaughan, and kissed him. "Although I think fucking had better wait for another day, no matter how eager you are for your innocence to be defiled." He began to move against Allard slowly. "You'll have to content yourself with this, for now."

This shouldn't be so good, Allard thought; they were hardly doing anything, and the weight and heat and satisfying armful shouldn't be quite enough to make up for the fact they were in the wrong place (he thrashed and shuddered helplessly) and were still in their clothes (silk slid against his cock) and were only a hedge away from the rest of the party getting horrifically embarrassed at what they were doing.

At this point, Vaughan prudently clapped a hand over Allard's mouth.

Allard would have either protested or bitten him, except that he was too busy coming to think of doing anything else, and there was nothing but wet silk and frantic silence and the feel of it.

When his brain rebooted, he realised that Vaughan had come as well.

Vaughan moved his hand.

"That," murmured Allard, "was quite intense."

"My god," said Harry, "I didn't realise this was what you did together."

Allard and Vaughan looked at each other, and then peered over the edge of the haystack.

Harry looked slightly shocked.

Allard was as annoyed as was physically possible, which wasn't terribly. Well, they all knew what Harry was like, although he'd like to know what gave Harry the right to feel shocked considering what he liked doing. Being Allard, he said so.

"Isn't it a little hypocritical to look that disturbed considering you undoubtedly came looking for us." He looked pointedly at Harry's crotch.

"All right, I liked it. Wasn't expecting it to be that...kinky, is all."

"What a very vanilla voyeur," Allard alliterated.

"I was expecting you to just feel each other up or something."

"Harry, that was frottage. If you think that's disturbing, maybe you have a future as someone's maiden aunt."

"It's not the bits," complained Harry, "it's the fact you were both wittering on about raping virgins."

"No virgins were actually harmed in the making of this fantasy," Vaughan put in. "I can assure you that Allard was not a virgin. Though I rather regret not meeting him when he was."

Harry thought that one through for about two seconds before looking even more shocked. Then he seemed to settle for changing the subject. "Anyway, I just came to tell you two that your tea and your coffee is getting cold."

"So am I," said Allard regretfully, doing up his trousers.

"Have you got a hanky?" asked Harry. "I'd hate to have people think I was doing something peculiar with both of you."

"Harry, you were doing something peculiar with both of us, even if we didn't know it at the time," Vaughan said. "In fact we have a handkerchief-slightly chewed-"

Harry squeaked.

"-although I don't think it'll go round among three of us," Vaughan concluded.

Allard contemplated the hanky, which he'd forgotten, and decided that the silk knickers would do a very good job of confining any messiness. Nothing at all to do with the concept of his cock sliding against wet silk every time he moved. "Be my guest," he said, and tossed the hanky to Harry, who tried to catch it between fingernail and thumbnail.

"It's only spit," said Allard crossly.

Harry wiped himself up, and looked as if he wasn't sure whether to give the hanky back.

"No thanks," said Vaughan, "but cleaning up would be a very good idea." He started picking bits of straw out of Allard's hair rather tenderly.

"Oh, sweet!" said Harry.

"No it's not!" snapped Allard. "Vaughan is merely grooming me like a pet monkey-which is about the level of his social behaviour."

"You did enjoy it, didn't you," said Vaughan, just as Harry said, "I thought fucking him was meant to improve his disposition."

"It did," said Vaughan. "You saw what he was like first."

Allard considered this as a serious point. In fact, he thought, he was capable of going back to deal with the abominable level of tech on this planet for the next two hours without making any rude remarks about it. He'd need caffeine, though.

He slid down the haystack, and Vaughan slid after him. He was halfway towards the siren scent of the coffee-pot before he noticed that Vaughan had taken hold of his hand and he was therefore hand in hand with Vaughan.

This didn't bother him as much as it should have. Apparently sex really did do something for his disposition, although he wasn't entirely sure it was an improvement.

He didn't even snarl when he realised that everybody else was smiling idiotically at the sight.

"You'd never guess what they were doing," said Harry.

"They can guess what you were doing," said Allard. "Would you like me to give them all the details?"

"Er, no thank you," said Harry, a man who, for a voyeur, could be amazingly shy about the details of his own sex life.

"All three of them," complained Claire. "You'd have thought the odds were in favour of me finding at least one straight man on this ship."

"Technically, we're all bisexual," said Allard. "You're just unlucky."

"I do like doing as well as listening," said Harry.

"I'm not that desperate," said Claire.

Harry muttered, "why mention it, then?"

Vaughan said, "Back to work, ladies and gentlemen," very firmly.

Allard thought that was the nearest approach to firmness Vaughan could manage at the moment. He also wondered if any of them quite counted as ladies or gentlemen. From the look on Baker's face, none of them had been exactly polite about their rather idiosyncratic approach to personal relationships. "Actually, Baker," he said quietly, pitching his voice so that only Baker would hear, "there is a good reason I hang around with this lot. It's one of the few workplaces where I can feel normally-socialised in comparison to my colleagues."

Baker looked at him, seemed to be about to say something, and then visibly changed his mind. "Yes, I see what you mean."

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