Reunion

Twenty-six year old Tom Crawford sighed to himself, grabbed the mouse on his desk and clicked away the tedious report which he had been reading without absorbing for at least two pages. A glance at the clock on the wall indicated another hour and ten minutes to go until the end of his working day. Discarding a momentary idea of frittering a few more minutes away with yet another visit to the coffee machine on the grounds that this would surely cause him to need another pee break here in the office under his boss Angela’s beady eye, followed as likely as not by an emergency stop somewhere on his short journey home, Tom crossed his legs and willed himself to hold on to the steadily filling bladder until the end of the working day. He was sure Angela, whose office was situated between his own and the men’s room, habitually monitored his time-outs, and he had already gone for a pee too often that afternoon. Tom sat back and then wistfully re-read the private email and its subsequent chatty follow-ups by other addressees of the original which had been appearing in installments during the previous few days.

“Hi guys and girls, how’s things?”, the original email from Sweden opened. “Lars and I have been thinking about all of you back in England for a while, and we think it’s high time we all get together again now that most of us have moved away from Manchester. Lars wants to meet you all – he’s been pestering me for months that he doesn’t know my friends. And how long has it been since I saw you all? Tom and Kevin I’ve hardly seen at all since that unforgettable tour of Europe in Jeff’s car two years ago, Monica even longer ago than that I think, even Jeff and Laura well over a year. Well, that’s too long, and Lars and I want to put that right. Are you all free some time in the month of August? We’re declaring open house here for that month, we’ve got four bedrooms so you won’t even have to sleep on the floor, and you’re all hereby invited. Hopefully we can narrow down a time frame which everyone can manage. Please let us know when you can all come in August. Love, Michael. XXX”

Monica had been the first of the old college friends to respond. Her mail, the second in the chain which Tom now perused, had a holiday photo attached of herself arm in arm with a handsome, fit looking guy in his early twenties, and her message narrowed the time window down to the second and third weeks of the month together with a request to bring her “new boyfriend Wayne – see photo – he can’t bear for me to go anywhere without him and he’d love to meet you all 😀 😀 :D”. Michael had immediately replied underneath with a brief “Thanks for the photo, sure, bring Wayne, Lars and I would really love to have him” which caused Tom to smirk to himself and think “typical Michael”. And then a fourth mailing to all the same recipients was a positive reaction from Jeff in Slough, who had been Michael’s best friend at college, saying that he and Laura were both free in those weeks and would love to come to Stockholm.

Kevin, who was Tom’s best friend and still saw him frequently despite Tom having got a new contract and moved away to Hull nine months before, had telephoned Tom the previous evening at this stage in the email exchange before adding his own contribution. Kevin was very disappointed when Tom explained that there was no way his boss Angela would grant him more free time in August and he would have to say no. But Kevin understood that Tom’s work had to come first and they had a good chat. “Did you see that picture Monica attached?” said Tom. “Wesley or Wayne or something. He looks like an olympic athlete. You’d better make sure Michael behaves himself.”

“Yeah, Wayne,” said Kevin. “I was thinking the same thing when I saw that photo. I suppose I’d better try to suggest quietly to Wayne that he should never go anywhere near Michael without peeing first.”

“Yeah, you’d better,” laughed Tom. “And Jeff will get so jealous if Michael starts working his magic on Wayne, whether or not Michael’s boyfriend is jealous as well.” The two of them then reminisced for a while about the European tour which Michael, Jeff, and the two of them had all undertaken two years before when they had all still lived in Manchester, an adventure which had included various incidents of guys accidentally wetting their pants, most of which were more or less directly influenced by Michael’s outrageous behaviour.

“I’m really sad you can’t make it, Tom,” said Kevin finally. “But I’ll pass on your greetings to all the others, and we’ll all be thinking of you.”

“Thanks. And if Michael gets up to any of his tricks, let me know, okay? I’ll call him up and give him a stern talking to.”

“It’s a deal, man” replied Kevin. “If he makes any of us piss ourselves, you’ll hear about it.”

Tom now sighed again, uncrossed his legs, knocked his knees together a few times underneath his office desk, and then typed his own apologetic mail declining Michael’s invitation underneath Kevin’s positive response. He fumbled with the crotch of his suit trousers, reflecting briefly that it was a good thing Michael could not see him now, then hit the “reply to all” button with a heavy heart.

***

Three months later, twenty-seven year old Kevin Millar spun his hands briefly under the warm air of the drier, double checked that he had done up the fly of his dark blue jeans, and sighed slightly as he enjoyed the newly relaxed feeling of his bladder which had filled uncomfortably during the flight from Manchester to Stockholm. Wandering back out of the busy airport men’s room, he observed that Wayne, Monica’s new boyfriend, was standing outside the facilities, apparently not having needed to go in and use them, waiting patiently for his girlfriend who was still in the women’s room. Wayne’s rucksack was slung over one shoulder and his free hand fiddled nervously with the contents of the pocket of his jeans as he acknowledged Kevin shyly with a brief movement of his eyebrows before looking back in the direction in which his new girlfriend had disappeared.

“She’s still in there, I guess?” said Kevin in an effort to start a conversation with the slightly younger guy whom he had only met a few hours before, introduced by his old friend from college Monica when she had picked Kevin up from his home on the outskirts of Manchester that morning and then driven all three of them to the airport. Wayne, dressed smartly in a patterned shirt and designer jeans, had seemed taciturn, or maybe just shy, and had spoken very little during their entire journey by car and plane, and Kevin had spent most of the time catching up with Monica’s exploits in her local drama society and talking about his own work as a city planning officer. Attempts to engage her new boyfriend in the conversation had led nowhere, Wayne giving merely monosyllabic responses, but now with Monica temporarily absent Kevin made another attempt at friendliness with Monica’s latest catch in a string of quite a lot of boyfriends she had had since their college days together.

Wayne smiled at Kevin nervously. “Either that or she’s done a runner and caught the next flight back home,” he replied.

Kevin laughed good naturedly. Then he enquired: “Don’t you want to go as well?” jerking his head towards the men’s room out of which he had just emerged. “The car journey to Michael’s and Lars’ house might take a while, you know.”

Wayne’s smile vanished and he shook his head shortly, puzzled and irritated at Kevin’s warning which seemed to him inappropriate, almost suggesting that Kevin regarded the mere three or four years’ difference in their ages as a reason to treat him like a small child. Privately Wayne always disliked using public facilities of any kind, even the spotlessly clean ones which airports provided, and he generally preferred to go before setting out from home and then hold on until the privacy of another home toilet was available if this was at all possible. But he did not consider this particular piece of information about his personal habits to be any of Kevin’s business.

Seeing Wayne’s irritation Kevin hastily changed the subject and asked Wayne about the recent holiday in Wales which he and Monica had taken, the source of the photograph which Monica had sent to everyone. However even as the two young men chatted and thawed the ice between them while they waited for Monica, Kevin still privately tested his bladder, checking that he had really emptied it properly just a couple of minutes before, well aware from experience that getting caught short during a car journey was never a good idea, and especially not in Michael’s presence. As Kevin listened politely to Wayne’s description of the Welsh mountain peaks which he and Monica had conquered, Kevin’s mind wandered back to that awful, crushingly embarrassing afternoon at the start of the European touring holiday two years earlier with Tom, Michael and Jeff. Sitting next to Tom in the back of Jeff’s car, Kevin had started to need a pee rather badly on their approach to the ferry terminal at Newcastle from where they were due to cross the North Sea, but out of some misplaced sense of decorum plus an inaccurate estimate of the time it would take to get through Customs and Security and then board the ship, he had avoided mentioning his problem to the others until it was far too late. The resulting catastrophe, which had seen Kevin soaking his jeans on the steps to the upper decks of the ferry shortly after getting out of the car, his friends clustering around him while the hot pee cascaded onto the floor and formed puddles which other passengers proceeded to step in as they attempted to pass the four lads by, still haunted Kevin to this day and he recalled it again now. Kevin also recalled Michael’s obviously intense arousal at his sorry state in the aftermath of his accident and then Michael’s hands down inside his jeans, briefly feeling his soaking underwear and then shamelessly giving his genitals a quick fondle through the sodden material after Tom had carelessly asked Michael to “help Kevin get showered” in their cabin while he and Jeff went to fetch a dry pair of Kevin’s jeans from his luggage in the car. Kevin had been too stunned and upset to resist or protest when Michael had felt him up.

Michael was a good bloke, thought Kevin now, and his unusual fetish about guys getting desperate for a leak and wetting themselves was no reason to think any less of him. But looking now at the handsome, muscular boyfriend whom Monica had acquired, Kevin had a serious hunch that Wayne might need some protection from Michael’s worst excesses of behaviour.

***

Laura Fox glanced at the TV monitor above the huge moving baggage belt in front of where she and her husband Jeff were seated, observed that it still displayed their own flight from London Heathrow in addition to one from Reykjavik and another from Las Vegas, all three flights still accompanied by a hopeful flashing suitcase symbol on the monitor, pondered the incongruousness of this grouping of unrelated world airports for a moment, then returned her gaze to the now familiar pair of luggage items, a small pink case and a larger dark brown one, which were emerging yet again from the depths of Stockholm airport’s baggage handling centre, forlorn and unclaimed, origins unknown and destination equally mysterious. Mindful of the imminent reunion with their old friends Michael, Monica and Kevin plus their first meeting with the respective boyfriends of the first two named, Laura extracted her small compact from her hand luggage and checked her face in its mirror.

Satisfied with her own appearance, she then glanced at Jeff next to her. His thirtieth birthday recently celebrated, Jeff was still just as handsome as he had been when they were students, and almost five years of marriage to her had not taken away any of his youthful image. At least, he was handsome when he managed to dress appropriately. This morning had been different. Shortly before their departure from home to go to Heathrow, Laura had encountered Jeff preening himself in front of the hall mirror, something which was in itself unusual. But his attire had particularly taken her aback. “What the hell are you wearing, Jeff?” she had demanded.

Jeff had jumped at her voice from right behind him and hastily swung round away from the mirror. He wondered how long she had been standing there and whether she had seen him adjusting his bulge and trying to fill it out so that it looked just right. “This is practical for travelling through airports,” he muttered defensively, indicating the tee shirt and tight stretch shorts, both garments clinging to his torso, pelvis and and upper legs like a glove.

Laura snorted. “Practical? Huh! Why don’t you just wear your lycra cycling gear? You might as well.”

“The immigration and security officers don’t like you wearing a cycling helmet,” said Jeff.

“Don’t be evasive. You know what I mean. Those shorts are … indecent.”

Jeff looked down at his shorts, which were protruding slightly and satisfyingly at the front, then looked back at his wife blankly as if he had no idea what she was talking about.

“Well, I don’t know what this is about, but if you think Monica’s going to swoon over you like that, forget it. She’ll only have eyes for her new toy boy anyway – what’s his name? – Wayne.”

Jeff adopted a concerned and conciliatory tone. “Laura, you know I haven’t had any feelings for Monica whatsoever since the end of second year. You changed all that. You’re the only one I want. Monica means absolutely nothing to me any more. Apart from friendship, that is.”

“If you say so,” muttered his wife. Then she looked back at him darkly. “Is this garb for Michael’s benefit then?” she asked, gesturing once more at the tight shorts.

“No!” Jeff’s response was a little too quick, and his facial expression together with the inflection of his voice formed a study of astonished innocence.

Laura had shrugged her shoulders and resigned herself to the prospect of travelling to Sweden and meeting their friends with her husband looking like the front cover of “Playgirl”.

But now, waiting in the baggage claim area of Stockholm’s international airport for their cases to appear on the carousel, Laura looked at Jeff with renewed exasperation mixed with a certain amount of bewilderment. “Jeff, what are you doing? For goodness sake go to the toilet!” she exclaimed under her breath. This was the first time she had broached the subject despite having observed Jeff fidgeting and apparently needing a pee throughout the flight. After they landed at Stockholm he had then, to her surprise, ignored the various toilets they passed on their way through the airport. And now, to Laura’s embarrassment, Jeff was compounding the spectacle which his distinctly informal clothing was providing to all and sundry here in the baggage claim area by suddenly stretching his legs out in front of him where he sat, pressing his thighs together and jamming his hands into his lightly-clad groin.

“Oh, yeah,” muttered Jeff vaguely in response, realising that his full bladder was no secret to his wife. “I’ll be right back,” he added, and set off towards the prominent men’s toilets on the other side of the baggage carousel.

In the men’s room Jeff managed to resist the very strong urge to run up to a urinal, pull aside his shorts and underwear and release it all. Playing for time, he wandered up to a wash basin and rinsed his hands slowly, wrapping one of his legs around the other and grinding the crotch of his skimpy shorts against the fitting as he fought to contain himself. Then he slowly dried his hands under a drier before performing a fumble in his groin for control. Ignoring a quizzical glance from another man who was peeing nearby and seemed to have observed his antics, Jeff left the facilities and returned to where Laura was still seated.

By not sitting down this time, and instead subtly shifting his weight between his legs while they waited for their cases to appear, Jeff successfully masked the continuing urgent bladder spasms from his annoyingly observant wife.

All the time Jeff continued to think about Michael who was presumably waiting for them close by in the Arrivals Hall. Jeff’s excitement reached fever pitch as he contemplated seeing his best friend again for the first time in ages and having him get immediately aroused at the sexy shorts he had put on that morning five hours earlier and at the fact that he had not peed since then and was by now bursting to go. While completely straight to all intents and purposes, and therefore not desiring his best friend sexually, Jeff had nonetheless shared something very special and private with Michael ever since the days when they were still students and before he had married Laura: Jeff had a secret narcissistic trait which entailed that he experienced a very powerful high feeling when desired by another man and being the subject of that man’s fantasies. Michael’s own secret fantasy had become apparent to Jeff one evening back in those early years when they had been sharing student accommodation together. That evening Jeff had been out on a pub crawl with some other friends, had misjudged his beer intake in combination with the long journey time on the last bus back home, had been forced to get off that bus too soon because he could not hold his pee back any longer, but had still wet himself as the bus drew up at the stop. Finally arriving back home sheepish and in soaking wet jeans, Jeff had failed to avoid his flatmate who immediately noticed the long wet streaks extending downwards from Jeff’s groin, seemed intensely interested by this state of affairs, and then persistently questioned him about it, wanting to know all the details of how it had happened. Jeff, slightly drunk and very turned on by Michael’s interest in him, had then allowed his friend to take certain liberties with him that night. Since then, having discovered a way to fulfill his own longing to be desired by another man, Jeff had adopted a habit of occasionally getting desperate for a pee in front of Michael and enjoying his friend’s obvious arousal as he fidgeted and squirmed. His own marriage to Laura (from whom Jeff kept his desire absolutely secret and who showed only vague signs of suspecting that her husband was more than just good friends with Michael), Michael later meeting Lars and – to Jeff’s intense jealousy – falling in love with him, and finally the move by both couples to Slough and Stockholm respectively, had all caused the frequency of the episodes of Jeff’s and Michael’s unique style of bonding to reduce drastically. But Jeff, for one, had continued to miss them badly.

***

Twenty-eight year old Lars gazed at his slightly older boyfriend Michael lovingly as Michael stood under the panel of monitors and scanned the long list of incoming flights. Two years into their relationship, and more than one year since Michael had abandoned his home and job in Manchester and moved in with Lars near Stockholm, certain roles had already been established according to the two men’s individual skills, however trivial these might be, and Lars was already used to leaving Michael to work out details about where the two of them should be and when they should be there.

“Both flights have landed,” announced Michael, turning back to his partner. “The Heathrow flight came in twenty minutes ago, so we’d better get to the gate quickly in case Jeff and Laura are already waiting there for us. Kevin’s and Monica’s flight from Manchester has only just touched down.”

“Can I just go for a quick pee before we meet them?” said Lars plaintively.

“No,” replied Michael shortly, setting off in the direction of the arrivals gate. “Come on,” he added firmly.

Lars smiled to himself as he followed his dominant boyfriend to where he would shortly be meeting the latter’s old friends for the first time. He had known for a long time what turned Michael on and how to please him, and in fact he had encountered the phenomenon on his very first meeting with Michael two years before, although on that first evening he had not recognised the appallingly embarrassing incident for what it really was. A young gay Swedish tourist on vacation in Manchester, Lars had found his way to the city’s “gay village” and installed himself in a dance bar where he had spent half an hour at a small table by himself drinking cider and observing the clientele. A stunningly attractive local guy had then approached his table, enquired if Lars minded if he sat there, introduced himself as Michael and then proceeded to chat him up, all the time buying him more drinks. Lars, despite being buzzed by the alcohol, had been well aware that he soon needed to pee quite badly and had mentioned this to Michael several times, but Michael had told him that the bar’s toilets were filthy and dangerous and he really should not use them. The situation had then become critical, but when Lars insisted that he really had to go and pee Michael responded by suggesting that they should go straight to Michael’s home, which he said was just minutes away, and Lars could pee there. Lars, who had already been hoping for just such an invitation from this very attractive guy, had agreed, whereupon he found himself hustled outside and then straight onto a public transport double decker bus. Now desperate, Lars had panicked at this unexpected development, and when Michael had manoeuvred him straight upstairs and towards the back of the vehicle where no other passengers were present, Lars had stated forcefully that he could not hold it any longer and that they had to get off the bus again. But Michael had pushed him gently into a seat, started to feel Lars’ crotch while he squirmed desperately in his seat, and then unzipped the fly of Lars’ jeans and started playing with his genitals through the soft fabric of Lars’ boxer shorts. Unable to hold back, Lars let go and soaked himself on the bus seat while Michael continued to fondle him. However, Lars’ immediate mortification about this awful faux pas of wetting his pants on a bus with his date sitting right next to him had soon been replaced by the joy of passionate love making back at Michael’s flat.

Michael and Lars did not have long to wait before a couple of about their own age came through the arrivals gate with their luggage, immediately set eyes on Michael, grinned in delighted recognition, let their bags drop to the ground and ran up to hug him as Lars watched from the sidelines. “Hey, Laura, good to see you again!” said Michael as he embraced the young woman who had somehow managed to get in front of her extremely excited husband to greet their old friend first. Then the young man, who was wearing a tee shirt and a surprisingly tight pair of stretch shorts which looked a size too small for him, leapt at Michael and enveloped him in a bear hug. Laura and Lars observed the two male friends cuddling each other for a while, engrossed in the spectacle as they watched Jeff whispering something in Michael’s ear. Laura, who had sharp ears, thought she heard Jeff’s whisper as “I’m absolutely bursting for a piss” but then decided that she could not possibly have heard that right. Whatever Jeff had said, it caused Michael to grin broadly once more, then reach down and touch Jeff somewhere out of sight of their two partners who were watching in slightly embarrassed silence. Jeff responded to Michael’s touch with a sharp intake of breath and backed away, but then he grinned again and hugged his friend tightly once more.

Laura’s embarrassment was not entirely due to now being in the presence of Michael’s partner Lars for more than a minute without either herself or Jeff being introduced to him. At the moment Jeff had gasped and backed away from Michael, Laura had spotted that Jeff’s inappropriately tight stretch shorts were now protruding quite obscenely at the front, significantly more than they had done before, and that Michael’s partner seemed to have noticed this too and was staring at the impressive phenomenon. Hastily Laura abandoned her attempt at waiting for Michael to adopt some social graces by introducing Lars to her and Jeff, and she now successfully distracted Lars’ attention from her weirdly aroused husband by extending her hand towards him and introducing herself. The two of them exchanged a few pleasantries and enquiries about Laura’s and Jeff’s flight, then commented lightly on the obvious closeness between their respective partners who were still whispering in each other’s ear about goodness knows what. Then Laura and Lars lapsed into silence again.

Lars seemed to be tolerating the two male friends’ lengthy and surprisingly passionate reunion indefinitely, but Laura finally intervened. “Hey, guys, you know there are two other people here too, don’t you?” she remarked loudly.

“Oh, yeah, sorry,” replied Michael. “Jeff and Laura, meet my partner Lars who’s rescued me from tedious England and introduced me to the joys of Stockholm life. Lars, these are my old friends from college in Manchester.”

“Michael’s told us so much about you, you know,” gushed Laura to Lars. “So nice to meet you at last after all this time.”

Jeff’s joy vanished from his face as he turned to look at Lars, and the brief salutation which he uttered on setting eyes on Michael’s other half seemed to convey a forced politeness. He refrained from participating very much in the subsequent conversation as the four of them continued to wait where they were for the three other invitees who would all be arriving from the flight from Manchester. As Michael launched into a glowing description of his new life with Lars and all they had been doing together, Jeff even started to look sullen and somewhat hurt, barely saying anything at all and forcing his wife to fill in with the information when Lars asked him politely about his work in Slough. Meanwhile the embarrassing protrusion in his skimpy shorts quickly subsided, much to Laura’s relief, but then to her further exasperation he started to shift around where he stood, placing his left leg in front of the other one, then swapping his legs around so that the right one was in front, then holding himself briefly through the shorts, all the time his attention clearly elsewhere.

Laura was just about to give her husband a surreptitious kick on his ankle in an effort to focus his attention on their conversation when they were interrupted by the arrival through the barrier of her old friends Monica and Kevin together with a fit-looking young guy in designer jeans who was hanging shyly on Monica’s arm as he regarded the four strangers who had been waiting for them. The greetings between the original Manchester crowd were exuberant and hectic while the outsiders Lars and Wayne looked on, but then Michael suddenly turned away from his old friends and latched onto Monica’s boyfriend. “You must be Wayne, right?” he said to him. “Good of you to come, I’m Michael, nice to meet you. Monica sent us a photo of you but it’s good to see you in the flesh. What do you do, then, when you’re not meeting Monica’s friends like this? You look like a swimmer to me. Do you swim? No? Oh well, I bet you’re a keen cyclist or runner, right? Do you work out? There’s a gym just down the road where Lars and I live, and I’ll take you there while you’re staying with us if you like and you and I can pump the muscles together…” Michael prattled on while the others listened, in the process managing to extract more words from Wayne in a few minutes than Kevin had managed to during the entire journey from Manchester.

After a while Monica finally rescued her boyfriend from Michael’s onslaught by putting an arm round his waist and pulling him away. “Wayne, meet my other friends, Jeff and Laura,” she urged. “Isn’t he sweet?” she added to Laura who smiled at Wayne indulgently.

“Okay,” said Wayne, self-consciously ignoring the doting attentions of the two women and turning towards the male in the tee shirt and tight stretch shorts standing next to him. “Hi, I’m Wayne.”

Jeff, who had been staring forlornly and jealously at Michael as he chatted to Wayne, found himself now thoroughly defeated by all the competition for Michael’s attentions and also by the urgent demands of his own body. “Hi, I’m going for a pee,” he replied, pushing past the surprised Wayne and running off in the direction indicated by the prominent airport signs.

Laura shut her eyes in bewildered exasperation at her husband’s behaviour. This really was the last straw, she felt. Addressing the others who were all staring after the rapidly departing Jeff, she began: “I’m so sorry, I’ve no idea what’s got into him…”

***

“Right then, who wants to travel in which car?” asked Lars brightly as the seven young people surveyed his own small hatchback and the somewhat larger saloon which Michael had rented in preparation for his friends’ visit, the two vehicles parked next to each other in the airport car park.

Laura chose Lars’ small vehicle decisively and addressed her husband. “You get in the back here with me,” she ordered, “and be sociable with Lars for a change.” Laura had had enough of Jeff’s poorly concealed obsession with Michael and his moroseness, bordering on rudeness, with everyone else.

The other couple, Monica and Wayne, were therefore, by default, assigned the back seat of the rented car which Michael would be driving. And Kevin, motivated by his own concerns, immediately climbed into the front passenger seat of the same car.

Kevin’s concerns were centred around Michael’s continuing interest in Wayne. After Jeff had returned from his abrupt departure to the toilet, Michael had suggested that before they headed off everyone should take the opportunity for refreshments at the airport cafeteria because, Michael said, they served “really great iced coffee which you’ll never get anywhere else”. Generous as always – one of the positive aspects of Michael’s character which Kevin had long admired – Michael had insisted on buying everyone’s drink and cakes for them. Encouraged by Michael’s enthusiastic recommendation of the iced coffee, Kevin had chosen that, as had one or two others including Wayne. Kevin had, however, insisted on just a small cup, and he was glad that he had because when it arrived it tasted to Kevin just like a cup of ordinary coffee which had been left to go cold. Kevin was puzzled, frankly, that Michael thought it was such a great drink. And then, when he observed the “large” iced coffee which Michael insisted on buying for Wayne, a size of drink which was clearly designed to cater for Sweden’s visitors from the United States who might turn their noses up at the normally modest European portion sizes, Kevin experienced a sudden, disturbing flash-back to an incident which had occurred during his European holiday tour with Michael, Jeff and Tom in Jeff’s car two years earlier. As Kevin watched the unsuspecting Wayne gulp down the oversized drink while he listened and responded to Michael’s continued friendly chatter to him, the parallels with what had happened to the young hitch hiker Neil to whom the four friends had given a lift from Holland to Germany gave Kevin a sudden sense of déjà vu. Kevin, who most certainly did not approve of what he now seriously suspected Michael of being up to, felt compelled to keep an eye on things and intervene if necessary.

In the front seats of the car Kevin chatted to Michael and observed the surroundings for some time as Michael followed Lars’ car away from the airport area and onto a motorway in the direction of the city. Occasionally he turned round in his seat to look at the two in the back, but they seemed too engrossed in each other to be interested in joining the conversation with Kevin and Michael. To be more accurate, Monica was engrossed in Wayne, continually leaning into him, clasping her arms round his waist and shoulders, kissing his cheek and neck. Wayne, on the other hand, had reverted to the apparently shy attitude which he had maintained throughout the journey to Stockholm airport, his head turned away from his exuberantly affectionate girlfriend and his gaze fixed on the road outside. Kevin gradually forgot about his earlier private concerns about Wayne’s welfare, and by the time they had been on the road nearly half an hour Kevin was paying no more attention to the one-sidedly necking couple in the back as he chatted with Michael about the latter’s new life in Sweden and his faltering attempts to learn Swedish so that he could find some employment instead of being completely financially dependent on Lars.

However the sudden interruption to their conversation, at a point when Michael was following his partner’s car through a busy motorway interchange, put Kevin on full alert once again. Wayne had extracted himself from Monica’s embrace and now leaned forward to speak to their driver. “Michael, can you pull over somewhere?” he asked. “I’ve got to pee.”

Monica protested at once. “What? No, love, Michael can’t stop here. You must wait till we’re there.”

“It won’t be long, Wayne,” replied Michael. “We’ll be home in ten or fifteen minutes.”

Kevin turned to look at Wayne. Wayne’s face was anxious and Kevin fancied that his body was trembling slightly. He spoke again in a low voice. “Please, it’s very urgent. I don’t think I can hold it in any longer.”

Monica looked annoyed. “Then why didn’t you say earlier?” she demanded. “And why didn’t you go at the airport? You really can’t just spring that on Michael now. You’ll have to wait.”

Wayne ignored his girlfriend and spoke to Michael again in a tense voice. “Please stop. I’m scared it’s going to come out any moment.”

Kevin looked away from Wayne’s agonised face and turned towards Michael, opening his mouth to speak, but Michael surprised him by immediately acquiescing to Wayne’s request. “That bad, is it, Wayne?” he said. “Alright, don’t worry. I’ll take this exit and find somewhere to stop as soon as I can.” He had switched the car’s indicator on and was pulling into a deceleration lane to leave the road which they were on. “We’ll take another route back after you’ve let it all go at the side of the road.”

Kevin could see Jeff looking back at them through the rear window of Lars’ car ahead of them as their own car peeled off and left the road. Relieved that Michael did not appear to be taking cruel advantage of Wayne’s obviously desperate need of a piss, and feeling slightly guilty for misjudging him and thinking he might want to make Wayne wet himself, Kevin waved briefly to Jeff and made a gesture with one finger in an attempt to signal “see you soon”.

Wayne muttered his thanks to Michael, then started feeling for his seatbelt restraint. His body was tense and shaking slightly, and he was poised to release the catch of the seatbelt and jump out of the car as soon as Michael had the car at a standstill.

“They really have gone the other way,” said Jeff in the other car as he turned back round to face the front.

“I know, I can see,” said Lars who had observed the unexpected departure in his rear view mirror in some bewilderment. “It’s very strange. I don’t know what Michael’s doing.”

“Well, presumably he knows another way home,” said Laura.

“But that road just goes straight to the Södra länken tunnel. It goes to the wrong side of the city, and anyway they might get caught in a traffic jam. Sometimes the traffic in the tunnel slows to a stop, and then you are held up for ages. And Michael knows that perfectly well. I really don’t understand why he’s taking the tunnel.”

“Oh well, he must have some reason which we don’t know about,” said Laura with a shrug of her shoulders.

“I suppose so,” said Lars. “But I still find it very strange.”

***

“Ah, at last,” said a relieved Lars as he spotted the rented car drawing up outside with his partner at the wheel. It had been nearly forty minutes since he had arrived home with Jeff and Laura, a text message to Michael’s mobile telephone asking where he was had not been answered, and Lars had become distinctly concerned about the situation. “Well, I’ll go and make some more coffee for everyone now that they’re here,” he added, setting off for the kitchen.

Jeff and Laura watched through the window as the car doors opened and the occupants emerged. It was immediately obvious to them both that all was not well. Monica was first out from the back seat, but after her boyfriend got out from the other side she then immediately leaned back in and spent some time apparently examining the car’s interior before re-emerging and speaking animatedly and seriously to Michael who appeared to be trying to reassure her. Kevin had his arm across the shoulders of Wayne who had wandered a little way away from the car and had his back to everyone else, his head bowed down abjectly. Kevin was talking to him, apparently trying to console him about something.

“What’s the matter with Monica’s boyfriend?” wondered Laura out loud to Jeff.

Jeff replied “No idea”, but privately and instinctively he had already guessed what it was, knowing Michael as well as he did. And as Wayne then turned round and shuffled slowly towards the house, encouraged by both Kevin and Michael, Jeff saw clearly that his guess was spot on and he now regretfully abandoned all remaining hope of winning Michael’s attentions for himself, for the time being at least. Jeff could see Michael brushing off Monica’s continued effusive apologies and trying to look past her at the dejected Wayne, obviously turned on by the state the lad was in, gazing at Wayne’s jeans which were stained darker, clearly very wet, all around his groin and backside.

Lars re-emerged from the kitchen to greet the arriving foursome, and the first person he encountered in the hallway was an apologetic Monica. “Hi, do you have a bucket and a couple of cloths which I can borrow?” she asked him. “Wayne’s wet his pants on the seat of your hire-car, and I want to clean it up before it stains.”

Michael was unconcerned about the seat. “It’s Wayne who needs helping,” he said. “Let’s get you into the shower, Wayne. Come on upstairs. I’ll show you how the shower works.”

Kevin looked balefully at Michael. “Don’t you think Wayne can work out how to use the shower by himself?” he asked. “Is it really that complicated?”

Lars answered Kevin drily. “Yes it’s complicated, you have to turn the handle one way to start the water and then the other way to stop it.”

“Well, I’ll just show Wayne where the shower is and make sure he has a towel and some spare clothes from his case,” said Michael. “Come on Wayne,” he added, making for the foot of the stairs.

But Kevin stepped up to Michael, pulled him aside for a moment, and spoke quietly and privately, clearly quite annoyed with him. “Michael, believe me, Wayne does not want your hand down his pants.”

Michael grinned at him, unfased by Kevin’s attitude. “You don’t trust me?” he said, giving Kevin a quick hug and a ruffle of his hair.

Kevin’s stern expression softened and he grinned back in spite of himself. “You’re outrageous, you know that?” he said. “I don’t know what to do with you. Tom would give you a real rollicking if he was here.”

Michael gave Kevin another affectionate squeeze around his shoulders and then dismissed him. “Go and chat Jeff up over there. He’s looking miserable. Wayne, come here, man, we need to cheer you up. Give me your bag and I’ll carry it up to your room. Then we’ll get your wet jeans and underpants off you. You’ll soon feel better.”

As Michael hustled Monica’s wet boyfriend away, Kevin shook his head to himself and then obediently wandered over to where Jeff was sitting by himself, Jeff’s wife Laura having taken it upon herself to go and help Monica clean Wayne’s urine off the seat and floor of Michael’s hired car, and Lars having returned to the kitchen. Jeff looked up at him benignly as Kevin made for a chair next to him. “So Michael’s been up to his tricks again, I see,” said Jeff. “You know, I guessed what had happened before you all got back here.”

“Yeah, it’s incredible, isn’t it, how these things happen whenever Michael’s around,” replied Kevin as he sat down. “I was suspicious when Michael brought that huge iced coffee for Wayne at the airport, but somehow I still didn’t think he’d do what he did to the poor guy.”

“Michael really did make Wayne piss himself, then?”

“Oh yes, I’m pretty sure Michael did it deliberately,” said Kevin. “We were following you along the motorway when Wayne suddenly piped up from the back seat that he was desperate for a leak and started begging Michael to stop at the side of the road. He said he couldn’t wait and was scared he was about to piss on the seat. I was about to tell Michael to pull over when he surprised me by agreeing at once and taking the next exit.”

“Yeah, we saw you leave the road,” interjected Jeff. “Lars was really surprised.”

“Yes, well I assumed Michael was going to pull off the road and let Wayne out for him to pee in the verge. But then we started heading into this huge long tunnel so we couldn’t stop. Michael was acting as if he was surprised it was a tunnel, but I’m sure he already knew perfectly well it was. And the traffic was really busy at the entrance and then just as busy in the tunnel itself, and we were in there for ages. There were places where we were out of the tunnel for a short time and we could have left the road, but Michael just kept saying he couldn’t turn off because he was in the wrong lane and so we just kept going into more long stretches of tunnel. Wayne was clearly desperate and panicking, and then suddenly Monica started shouting at him, and Wayne was wetting his pants. By the time we were out of the tunnel Wayne had wet himself and the seat completely, and Monica was furious with him. I guess she thinks he’s let her down, or something, after she’d spent so long proudly telling us all about what a cool guy he is. She spent about ten minutes laying into him and blaming him for wetting his jeans in the car and telling Michael how sorry she was, and all the time I knew full well that Michael had engineered it all.”

“Oh, you know Michael,” said Jeff. “He has his fun but he doesn’t mean any harm.”

“Yeah, well I know you like it when you’re on the receiving end, but most normal people don’t appreciate Michael’s…”

“Sshh” hissed Jeff hastily as Lars returned pushing a trolley with a large pot of coffee and a plate of appetizers.

Kevin and Jeff accepted their refreshments gratefully and chatted to Lars about their plans for an evening out in the city. After a few minutes Monica and Laura joined them, having done as much as they could in the back of the car with the bucket and cloths, and eventually after about twenty minutes Michael, too, came downstairs carrying Wayne’s wet and stained jeans and boxer shorts. The conversation ceased abruptly, and everyone looked at him enquiringly.

“He’s had his shower and he’s got changed, but he doesn’t want to come downstairs,” Michael reported as he reached the foot of the stairs.

“Fine, just let him skulk in the bedroom then,” said Monica curtly. “Serves him right.”

“I’ll take him up a cup of coffee and some nibbles as soon as I’ve started the washing machine,” continued Michael as he headed on through with Wayne’s wet laundry.

“No, let me do that,” said Kevin at once, getting up from his seat and grabbing the coffee pot and a spare cup. “You come and talk to Laura here, Michael, when you’re ready. Monica, how does Wayne take his coffee?”

“Just black,” she replied. “And gone cold if I have any say in the matter,” she added waspishly.

***

Wayne sipped his drink and sat in silence between Kevin and Lars while he surreptitiously observed Michael and Jeff opposite him at the table as everyone listened to some story which Lars was recounting. The atmosphere had lightened significantly between the five males here in the cafeteria of the Playhouse theatre in central Stockholm since Monica and Laura had left them ten minutes earlier to head into the theatre itself for an evening performance of an English language play. Wayne himself felt much more relaxed now that his girlfriend, who was still obviously cross with him about wetting his pants in Michael’s car on the way back from the airport earlier that same day, was finally out of the way for a couple of hours. All the others in the group had shown only sympathy and concern for Wayne’s welfare after he had finally, at Kevin’s encouragement, come downstairs to join them all, but Monica had remained furious with him, presumably for embarrassing her in front of all her old friends.

Monica, who was a drama fanatic, had been extremely keen to see the play, and despite only Laura sharing her enthusiasm, this had resulted in the seven young people taking an underground train into the city centre immediately after their evening meal at Michael’s and Lars’ home and heading straight for the theatre. And now, with the girls out of the way for a couple of hours watching the play with the agreement that the men would go and enjoy themselves doing something else before meeting Monica and Laura again after the performance, Wayne noticed that he was not the only one in the group who seemed more relaxed in the now all-male environment. Jeff in particular, who seemed to have let his guard down completely now that his wife was out of the way, was attracting Wayne’s incredulous attention. Still wearing the tight and revealing stretch shorts in which he had arrived at the airport, Jeff was making a show of being desperate to pee, fiddling with himself in his groin and apparently unable to sit still on his seat, despite the fact that there was a public men’s room here on the ground floor around the corner which Jeff could perfectly well have got up to use. Meanwhile, Wayne noticed, Michael was quite obviously staring at Jeff, apparently excited and aroused, and the two old friends kept making eye contact as they shared in their mutual enjoyment.

Wayne then felt Kevin next to him nudge him gently in the ribs. “See what I mean?” muttered the guy who had spent nearly half an hour talking to him and reassuring him after Michael had finished helping him get showered and changed.

Wayne nodded. Here, if it were needed, was irrefutable confirmation of Kevin’s account, which Wayne had found bizarre, of the unusual private relationship between Michael and Jeff, Michael’s fetish about guys getting desperate to pee and possibly wetting their pants, Michael’s extraordinary ability to engineer this situation in other guys without their knowledge that they were being manipulated, and how it all meant that Wayne’s shameful accident on the back seat of Michael’s hired car that day was not his own fault and that he should stop feeling bad about it. As Wayne now watched Michael blatantly ogling Jeff as he knocked his knees back and forth, then thought of the huge iced coffee which Michael had bought for him and encouraged him to drink at the airport before the resulting panicked urgency as he had begged Michael in vain to stop the car before the squirts which he had been releasing into his damp boxer shorts had finally turned into an unstoppable stream, he mentally identified himself with the young hitch-hiker Neil in the story which Kevin had told him about the motoring tour of Europe in Jeff’s car two years before. Neil, according to Kevin, had joined the four friends on their ferry crossing to the European continent, had persuaded even the very reluctant Jeff (who was jealous about Michael’s interest in him) to be allowed to travel with them, had innocently accepted and drunk about four mugs of coffee beforehand at Michael’s beguiling encouragement, had then been frightened by Jeff’s jealous anger when he had had to get out of the car to pee almost right at the start of the journey, and had then finally not dared to say anything until it was too late when he had to pee again later in the journey. Kevin had also mentioned an incident later on during that same holiday, which seemed totally surreal to Wayne, when Michael had apparently engineered the lead singer of a rock band to wet himself on stage in front of a crowd of three hundred night club visitors.

Wayne now glanced at Lars on his other side as he continued to tell to everyone about his and Michael’s domestic plans, ignoring, and apparently unconcerned by, his partner’s blatant arousal over Jeff opposite them. Wayne was just reflecting enviously to himself how some people were lucky enough to have a partner who allowed them to flirt openly with, and even have fun with, others, considering that Monica did not seem to tolerate him even looking at other women, when there was a disturbance of some sort in the road outside, Lars stopped talking and everyone turned to look out of the window. Traffic had come to a halt because a large turning vehicle was blocking the road ahead, but the focus of everyone’s attention was a minibus containing about eight young men and women which was stuck in the traffic jam with all the other cars. The side door of the bus had opened, a male aged about twenty-five and wearing a blue top and light green shorts had got out, and this young man was now running along the opposite side of the road away from his friends, a tense expression on his face. Another young man, still in the minibus, was shouting something at him through the still open side door.

Michael was on his feet in an instant, leaving his seat and hurrying over to the window to look out. As he and the others all watched, the guy in the green shorts was seen to stop at a building down the road, hesitate in front of it, then abandon his apparent thought of attempting to enter it as he turned and crossed the road, now running again, straight towards the theatre where Michael and the others were watching him. As he entered the foyer, close to where Michael was now standing and in full view of the other four friends who were watching from their table, he stopped and gazed around him, a hunted look on his face, his body bobbing up and down for a moment as he flexed his knees, and his hand squeezing at the front of his green shorts.

“Do you need the toilet?” said Michael to him. “It’s upstairs. Come on, I’ll show you.” He headed up the nearby narrow staircase at a leisurely pace, one hand on each bannister, with the young stranger following right behind him and bumping into Michael’s arm as he attempted unsuccessfully to hurry him up or get past him.

“It’s down here on this floor, round the corner!” protested Kevin loudly enough for the desperate stranger, who was halfway up the stairs, and stumbling and pushing behind Michael in his effort to hurry him up, to hear him. But the pair continued on up the stairs out of sight.

Lars, Wayne, Kevin and Jeff all looked at each other. Lars shrugged his shoulders and looked hopeless as if to say “It’s just Michael, it’s the way he is, what can we do?”, Jeff’s expression was crestfallen and hurt at his best friend’s sudden departure from their private shenanigans in favour of a complete stranger, Wayne looked astonished and slightly amused, and Kevin was frowning in disapproving annoyance.

After a short time the pair appeared again, this time descending the staircase at a much faster rate than before, the guy in the green shorts ahead and Michael in hot pursuit. As they reached the foot of the stairs, Kevin stood up and pointed in the direction of the men’s room for the stranger’s benefit. “Michael…!” Kevin then called out, but Michael was already disappearing into the toilets after his prey.

“Michael’s going too far now,” said Kevin to the others after the men’s room door had banged shut behind the two speedily entering males.

“He’s only playing, he won’t hurt him,” said Lars.

“No, I’m sorry but I don’t think it’s acceptable,” said Kevin to Lars. “You don’t deliberately send someone the wrong way when they need to pee urgently. Are you going to talk to him about it?”

“Michael’s risking getting punched in the face if you ask me,” said Wayne.

“Yeah, or reported to the police,” agreed Kevin. “I hope he hasn’t made that poor chap wet himself. And what’s he doing now in the toilet with him? That’s not on either. Lars, if you don’t talk to Michael about this, I will. I must say I admire you for tolerating his antics with Jeff here: if I was you I’d be jealous with him and Jeff mucking around like they’ve been doing here ever since the girls left. You’re not like Laura: she wouldn’t tolerate Jeff playing with Michael like that. She doesn’t even know what they get up to. But you can’t just stand by when Michael starts abusing complete strangers like this.”

Jeff glared at Kevin. “What are you talking about?”

“You know what I’m talking about. And you know that Tom and I both know. And don’t imagine that Wayne here hasn’t worked it out as well. You and Michael aren’t exactly subtle, you know.”

“Subtle about what?” Jeff’s face was a picture of uncomprehending innocence.

Lars hastily interrupted the two old college friends. “You’re right, Kevin, Michael’s going too far now. I agree he shouldn’t do that. And you’re right that he should be warned that it isn’t acceptable. Will you let me handle him? I’ll sort something out.”

“Okay,” said Kevin.

There was a silence amongst the four of them for a short time. The issues which Kevin had just raised in front of everyone were a little too uncomfortable for anyone to take any further. Finally Jeff put his hurt and embarrassment aside and broke the spell by looking out of the window. “Traffic’s moving again,” he remarked. “Are that guy’s friends waiting or have they gone without him?”

Lars, who had a good view of the road ahead, responded. “They’re waiting for him. The minibus is parked at the side of the road up there.”

At this point the men’s room door opened again and the young man in the blue top and green shorts emerged with Michael following behind. Ignoring both Michael and the foursome at the table, he headed straight for the door to outside, performed a check of the visible state of his shorts by looking down at himself in the doorway for a moment, then hurried away in the direction of his waiting friends.

Michael rejoined the others, sitting back down next to Jeff and grinning in satisfaction. “He made it,” he reported. “But only just. Did you all see how desperate he was when he ran in here? I couldn’t see all that much there in the toilets with him, but I think he might have wet his underpants a bit. They were black, though, and I couldn’t see much of them anyway while he was peeing, but I did think I saw a wet stain on them just before he zipped his shorts up again. The outside of his shorts looked dry anyway, so if he pissed himself at all it wasn’t too bad. While he was peeing I asked him if his pants were wet, but he wouldn’t answer me. I don’t think he appreciated my help. Still, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, right? He certainly had to. I wonder how long he’d been desperate in that minibus. I wonder if he told the others he had to go and if he asked them to stop for him. I didn’t think to ask him that. I should have asked him, shouldn’t I?”

No-one replied. Michael looked around at the disapproving faces, then continued brightly: “Why are you all looking at me like that?”

Lars took control. “Michael, sweetie, you’re much too excited at the moment. I’m going to have a chat with you about this later, but right now I think we need to do something to release all your excitement and calm you down.” He addressed the others. “Finish your drinks, everyone. Jeff, you go and pee now, you can go back to playing with Michael later. We’re all going somewhere now. It’s just a short walk from here.”

***

Kevin made a point of chatting with Jeff as the group of five young men, headed by Lars, wended its way through the streets of Stockholm. Kevin was anxious to repair any damage he might have caused by referring, however obliquely, to the finer points of Jeff’s private relationship with Michael in front of everyone else back at the theatre ten minutes earlier, but Jeff now showed no signs of having been offended and the two friends conversed as easily as they always had done. As Lars turned into a street full of bars and clubs catering for evening revellers, some of them locals and some tourists, Kevin confidently expected that he would be taking them all to some gay bar, knowing that all three straight guys in the group were broad-minded and sufficiently at ease with themselves not to feel uncomfortable in whatever Lars’ and Michael’s favourite joint might be.

It was with some surprise, therefore, that Kevin realised that Lars was heading into a slightly grim-looking bar in which guitar music sounding like Heavy Metal from the eighties was playing and which reminded Kevin of the type of pub back in England which catered for lager louts. Indeed, an all-male group of four very obvious British tourists was seated prominently at a table by the door, all with pint glasses of beer in front of them instead of the more modest sized drinks which were usual in Europe. One of the group, a huge man in his late thirties or early forties, built like a tank and wearing a large white hat depicting an ostentatious Union Jack as if to underline his British credentials, hailed the five newcomers as they entered. “All right, lads!” he hollered, raising his beer glass at Lars, Kevin and the others. “How’s it hanging?” he added loudly. The other three males at his table, all of them somewhat younger, uttered their own affable and slightly drunken greetings to the new party of five. Kevin grinned back at them but then felt himself blushing in anxious embarrassment when he heard Michael respond loudly “Half-mast and left-of-centre, what about yours, or can’t you find it?” to the big man. Fortunately, rather than exhibit any kind of macho outrage at Michael’s daring reply, the man and all three of his companions responded with roars of laughter.

Lars grabbed Michael hastily by the arm and pushed him towards a nearby table. “Sit down there and keep my place for me while I get the drinks!” he urged his partner.

Michael grinned to himself in excited anticipation as he sat down on the bench, guarding the confined corner-place which was normally strictly reserved for Lars. Michael had taken Lars to this very same bar on a number of occasions in the past and had enjoyed playing the dominant role of imprisoning his boyfriend in this same tight space within the macho atmosphere of this straight bar, while all the time keeping him supplied with beers and forbidding him to get up and use the toilet. Michael had enjoyed the powerful position of having the choice of either finally allowing his desperate partner to get up and hobble into the men’s room when he whispered that he could not hold on any longer, which Michael had chosen to do on several occasions, or otherwise just waiting until Lars inevitably pissed his pants on the bench, which Michael had done just twice. Those two occasions when Michael had sadistically made Lars soak himself had been made all the more exciting by the challenge of subsequently having to smuggle Lars out of the bar, through the streets and on and off Stockholm’s underground trains to get him home without too many people seeing his wet jeans.

This time, however, was different from the previous occasions in that Lars was the one who was taking the initiative in bringing him here, not to mention the fact that they were with their friends. Michael wondered to himself what sort of twists these new factors might bring to their game. As he waited excitedly for Lars to bring the drinks over, Michael could see that as well as calling out a large drinks order to the barman, Lars was talking earnestly both to their friends Jeff, Kevin and Wayne, and also to the British foursome who had greeted them when they came in. At one point Michael overheard the large man in the Union Jack hat respond “You’re kidding me, right!?” to Lars, but the discussion continued earnestly amongst all eight men as Michael watched from a distance in mystified, but nonetheless excited, anticipation.

Michael did not have long to wait. To his surprise, it was Kevin who suddenly appeared to be taking charge, his partner Lars still busy paying the barman and distributing a large number of pints of beer to people. But Kevin came purposely over to Michael’s table with one of the group of four British tourists, not the large guy in the hat but a younger, slimmer lad of about Michael’s own age in a grey tee shirt and red shorts, who sat down next to Michael.

Kevin placed two pints of beer on the table, pushed one towards Michael and placed the other in front of the unfamiliar lad. “Michael, meet Barry,” he said. “Barry, Michael. Barry’s on holiday here with his mates. Michael’s my friend and a local here. Now, you two get to know each other. You have an unlimited supply of beer being bought for you to help you along, but there are some conditions. Neither of you must get ahead in the drinking. Match each other, finish each beer together, and after that there’ll always be another one.” Kevin then looked directly at Michael as he continued his instructions. “And secondly, stay where you are, don’t leave your place for any reason, not even if you need a pee. Your drinks will be brought to you. Understood? Good, off you go.”

Barry raised his full pint towards Michael. “Well, cheers Michael. Nice to meet you. How are you doing?”

Michael grinned as his glass made contact with Barry’s and the two of them talked and drank together. He gazed appreciatively at his newly-appointed drinking partner, admiring Lars’ choice of victim if Lars had indeed chosen Barry for him. Barry was a handsome guy in a rugged sort of way, slim but sturdily built, with drop-dead gorgeous looks, a body which suggested that he either had a job doing heavy manual work or he did regular weight training, and a well-filled groin in the red shorts which Michael longed to see getting soaked in the lad’s pee when he inevitably lost this game. Michael tingled with excitement as he took long draughts from his own pint glass and then watched as Barry obediently drank down more from his own, matching Michael’s drinking as the rules required.

Barry drained his glass at the same moment as Michael finished his, and two new full pints were immediately placed in front of them, this time by Jeff. Out of the corner of his eye, Michael could see that his friends and the other members of the British group were also being provided with new drinks as everyone watched him and Barry from afar, as if the two of them were providing some sort of sporting entertainment. And in a sense they were, thought Michael, as he waited confidently for signs that his adversary’s bladder was getting uncomfortably full. The conversation flowed between the two guys just as easily as the beer washed down their throats, Michael initially asking about what the four of them were doing in Stockholm and giving some tips about tourist attractions, and the two of them later on discovering a mutual interest in music. Meanwhile Michael drained the last dregs from his second pint, Barry kept up with him by finishing his own, and Wayne, this time, set two new beers down in front of them.

“Pfff, another one,” said Michael to his new friend, lifting his glass to connect with Barry’s. “Cheers again.” The conversation continued, more time passed, and by the time the two of them simultaneously knocked back the final dregs of their third pints and Lars arrived with yet another full pint glass for each of them, Michael was by then distinctly aware of the effects of a very full bladder himself. However any discomfort from this was nullified by his excitement at Barry’s condition. While Michael continued to chat inconsequentially about rock bands, he stared continuously at Barry as the latter jammed both hands between his legs and then kneaded with one hand in his groin. Michael, though finding himself now quite desperate for a pee, raised his beer glass again and then nudged his drinking partner, nodding at Barry’s glass and persuading a reluctant Barry to remove one hand from his lap and pick up the beer glass too, as required by the rules of their game. Both lads drank again, and Michael felt himself spurt a little, genuinely unsure what type of fluid was leaking into his own underwear, as he sensed that Barry was losing the battle and pushing himself past his limit. Michael stared openly and excitedly at Barry’s lap, waiting for the inevitable dark stain to appear on the lad’s red shorts. The expert in male bladder issues that he was, Michael was absolutely certain that Barry was about to lose control and he relished his imminent witnessing of the moment when that would happen.

Barry swallowed the beer, banged his glass back down on the table, grunted in pain, then turned towards his group of friends who were watching him from the sidelines just as avidly as Michael was. “Denny!” he called out breathlessly.

The large man in the Union Jack hat came over to their table. “What is it Barry, my boy?” he asked his friend affectionately.

“Take over before I piss myself!” gasped Barry.

“Hey!” protested Michael, but it was too late. Barry and big Denny had swapped roles in an instant, and while Barry sprinted off round the back of the bar to the toilets, Denny set his own glass of beer down on the table and his considerable bulk on the bench next to Michael, blocking him in.

“Hi there Michael, how’s it going, mate?” enquired the huge, older man affably. “Still hanging at half-mast?”

Michael’s shock at the unexpected development brought his own critical situation to the forefront of his mind. “Can you let me out?” he said, the urgency of his situation taking priority over any witty reply he would normally have managed to give.

“But that’s not in the rules of the game, is it?” said Denny. “You don’t leave your place for any reason. And you have to match my drinking. I’ve drunk more from my glass, so you have to drink up now.”

Michael strained to hold his bladder shut and protested hotly. “He’s already broken the rules! I’ve won the game now he’s gone for a pee. Now I need to get out.”

Denny looked at Michael pityingly. “Oh dear,” he said solicitously. “You didn’t understand, did you? That rule about staying in your place was for you, but not for Barry.”

Michael stared back at Denny incredulously, then looked over at his friends who were observing the scene a little way off with some amusement. He stared at Kevin who had originally taken the role of rule master. Kevin shrugged his shoulders at Michael and nodded, confirming what Denny had said.

“Well, I don’t care, the game’s over now,” said Michael to Denny with an air of finality. “Can you let me out please?”

Denny shook his head. “You didn’t hear the other rule, did you? Our free beer supply from your mate Lars here stops the moment you get let out from this bench. He’s making sure we’re all provided for with as much as we can drink just so long as you don’t leave that spot. So you’re stuck there until me and my mates have had enough beer for one night.”

As the horror of the situation which he was in sank into Michael, he felt himself involuntarily squirt into his boxer shorts. There was no question this time about the nature of the fluid which dampened his already moist underpants as he stared at Denny and then looked pathetically at his partner Lars who was busy buying more beer for one of Denny’s friends. Then he looked at his best friend Jeff who merely grinned at him, and finally at Kevin who returned his glance with what seemed to Michael like a sympathetic but powerless expression, as if Michael was beyond all help now.

Michael felt his bladder start to give up. Desperately he turned back to Denny. “Alright, let me out and I promise I’ll continue to buy all your drinks for you and your friends,” he stammered.

“But why do you need to get out?” asked Denny.

“For a piss, of course,” said Michael, attempting unsuccessfully to work his way out between the big man and the wall and feeling another squirt further wettening his underwear as Denny efficiently used his huge frame to block his escape route.

“Oh, you mean you need a WEE-WEE!” exclaimed Denny. He turned towards the spectators who were now also joined by Barry who had returned from his emergency time-out with dry shorts. “Mikey needs a wee-wee, Mikey needs a wee-wee…” he started chanting. The attention of other patrons in the bar had by now been attracted too. Denny’s friends joined the chanting, and laughter broke out from various sources all over the bar. Even the attention of the busy bar staff was briefly attracted.

Kevin suddenly intervened. “Okay, I think that’s enough,” he said. “Let him go,” he added to Denny.

Lars agreed. “Yes, he doesn’t like wetting himself, he only likes it when it happens to other guys,” he informed everyone above the chanting and laughing. “Let him go and we’ll carry on buying you your drinks.”

Jeff also took pity on his best friend. “Yes, he’s learned his lesson now,” he agreed. “Let him go.”

But everyone was surprised by a loud, dissenting voice from someone who up until now had said very little. “No! That’s not fair. Why should Michael get let off now when he wouldn’t stop the car for me until it was too late? I want him to piss himself, and I want Monica to see him in wet jeans when she comes out of the play, and then she’ll stop giving me hell about it!”

Kevin, Jeff and Lars all stared at Wayne in amazement, but then a moment later it became clear that there was no decision to be made in any case as big Denny suddenly grabbed Michael under his arms and lifted him up so that he was standing on the bench, his lower body in full view of all the other bar patrons, as his jeans darkened all over his groin and the legs of his jeans rapidly stained all the way down. Denny moved out from the bench leaving Michael standing there staring down at himself and avoiding everyone else’s eye as he experienced at first hand the same humiliation as he had so often seen other guys experience.

Kevin had the presence of mind to grab his smartphone and take a few snaps with the camera before putting it away and joining the others as they all helped their shaking, embarrassed but nonetheless relieved friend down from his precarious position in his slippery puddle on the bench and out into the street where he just let all the rest go into his already soaking underwear and jeans. With a parting wave to Denny and his group, Michael’s partner Lars and his best friend Jeff walked one on each side of him, their arms comfortingly round his waist, and Kevin and Wayne shielded him from general view by walking in front and behind him respectively. All five friends retraced their steps to the theatre to find out whether Laura and Monica had enjoyed such an exciting evening as they had.

***

Tom’s smartphone beeped and his heart leapt as soon as saw who had sent the message. He flicked the television off with the handset, grabbed his phone, settled back in his chair, read his message, looked at the attached image which came with it, and smiled.

“Hi Tom, Well, we’ve had an interesting first day here at Michael’s. Everyone sends you their regards from Sweden. We all miss you and wish you were here. Sadly I have to report that Michael didn’t behave himself, and there were a few incidents. I’ll tell you about them over the phone later. But actually you don’t need to give him that stern talking to like you said, because we’ve just gone one better. Look at the attached photo and you’ll see what I mean. Take care of yourself, see you soon. Regards, K.”

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