|Emmerdale Farm: Answers In the Park, (Joe Sugden/Father Brennan), NC-17.
||[Sep. 29th, 2007|12:50 am]
Hope no one minds me posting this here--it is, techincally, "Emmerdale" slash, just focused on "Emmerdale Farm" instead of the newer stories. This one is set in 1976, and features Joe Sugden.
Title: Answers In the Park
Author: Van Donovan / van
Characters/Pairing: Joe Sugden/Father Brennan
Ratings, warnings: NC-17, slash, clergyman sinning. :D
Word count: 6,719.
Author's notes: An "Emmerdale Farm" crossover with the 1976 version of "The Omen." Set in 1976, before "The Omen" and after the "Emmerdale Farm" novel "Whispers of Scandal." Written as a birthday present for the lovely billytaylor, betaed by the wonderful lithrael.
Summary: Joe goes to Manchester seeking David Hockley, but finds answers instead.
(Crossposted to emmerdalefarm and my personal journal)
“Can I help you, young man?”
Joe was brought out of his reverie at those words, turning away from the impressive cathedral he stood before to find that it was a middle-aged, dark haired priest addressing him. If he hadn’t felt so drained and cold, he would have flushed in embarrassment. “I’m looking for someone,” he explained.
“Ah,” the priest replied, turning so they stood side-by-side, facing the church. “You’re in luck. There’s Someone to be found here,” he said, with a subtle nod. “It’s warmer inside, as well.”
Having attended church regularly enough, Joe knew what the priest was implying. Finding God was probably the last thing he needed right now. “I’m not Catholic.”
A knowing look came in the priest’s eyes. “Even more reason, my son.”
Any other day, such a comment would have made Joe crack a smile. He was a man of good humor, and appreciated the stranger’s generosity even if, as a priest, he felt due to give it. Today, however, Joe was not in the mood.
He wasn’t sure what had brought him all the way out to Manchester today, only that he was tracking David Lockley, the handsome young vicar from Beckindale.
Former vicar from Beckindale, Joe mentally reminded himself. Joe had never had much to do with vicars in the past, outside of seeing them at church, but David had been different. For one, he hadn’t worn a dog collar and he had also enjoyed pop music and dancing at the disco. Most of Beckindale’s older community hadn’t thought he was properly suited for the job, but Joe had liked him immensely.
Perhaps too immensely.
Their friendship had been unusual, but rather inevitable. Before long the two had begun exchanging pop records, seeing films and dancing together at the disco down in Hotten. Without his dog collar on, people saw them as just two lads out on the town, chatting up girls and enjoying themselves. Vicars weren’t sworn to celibacy like priests were; to Joe, it seemed a crime to expect the vivacious young man to stay locked up in the dreary old vicarage. Beckindale parishioners didn’t think the sort of girl that David could meet in a disco was the sort he should consider for a wife, but Joe didn’t see why one had to think of marriage when one was just enjoying a dance.
But it was dancing in a disco that had done them in. Joe didn’t drink much on average, and that night had been no exception, though he would blame the drink if ever he were called on it. He couldn’t say how it happened—not even how it had been initiated—but somehow Joe and David had started out dancing and had laughingly ended up kissing. Right there on the dance floor, surrounded by other dancers, out in the open, plain as day.
It still made the pit of Joe’s stomach drop to think about; when his mind replayed the way he had gripped, suddenly desperate, at David’s shirt to pull him closer—to make that unexpected, wonderful kiss last a few seconds longer.
They had laughed it off manfully, and if anyone had seen them they had certainly stayed quiet, but inside Joe knew David had been as shaken by it as he had. The rest of the night they had avoided eye contact, and the conversation on the drive home had been restrained to the mundane.
Less than a week later, the bishop had transferred David out of Beckindale. The stated reason was that David was better suited to a different position, and most of Beckindale agreed. It wasn’t that Joe disagreed, either, but he was wracked with guilt, believing what had happened between them at the disco was truly what had driven David away. Worse, he didn’t know to where he had been transferred.
After a few hours of rational thought, Joe figured it couldn’t have been too very far away, and imagined, with David’s youth and charisma, he would be suited for big city life.
There were only so many big cities within easy driving distance of Beckindale, and he got it in his mind to try them all until he found David.
Like with Christine and Kathy before him, Joe had worn himself ragged searching endlessly for David. He had tried Blackpool first, without luck, and went to Leeds on a whim, stopping at promising looking churches, asking questions and getting no answers. When that had provided no leads, he had moved on to Manchester, expecting similar results, but knowing he had to at least try. He wasn’t sure what he would do if he did find David again, but it wasn’t something he could just let go.
Looking at the sallow-faced priest beside him now, he found he couldn’t put any of that into words. There was a strange, haunted look in the priest’s eyes—something that told of a grief far greater than anything Joe had ever experienced. He didn’t wish to burden the man with any more than he was already carrying. Besides, how did you tell a priest that you had seduced a vicar, intentionally or not?
“Any road, he’s obviously not here,” Joe said at length, realizing the silence he had allowed to stretch between them. “Thanks, though.”
As he turned to go, the priest clapped a surprisingly warm hand on his back. “Come inside, Joe. Have some tea. You look a fright.”
Immediately wary, Joe stiffened, turning around to stare at the priest. “How do you know my name?” he demanded, somewhat rougher than he had intended.
“Perhaps if you tell me why you keep searching for someone who doesn’t want to be found, I will tell you.” With practiced ease, the priest led Joe up the stone steps and into the cathedral, which, in truth, was not very much warmer at all.
“Now wait a moment, Father,” Joe protested. “I don’t for a minute believe that—”
“Brennan,” the priest interrupted.
“Brennan. Father Brennan.” He led Joe not up the pulpit, but down a side corridor, to a very plain interior office.
“Father Brennan, then,” Joe said, struggling not to be annoyed with the man. “I don’t believe David’s trying to hide from me. I think he confessed to the bishop something that happened . . . between us two and the bishop moved him against his will.”
Father Brennan had begun making tea on a rusty cooker. The office was built of bare stone, and was even cooler than the main hall. “There is so much darkness in the world,” he said in a sigh, his voice almost an unintelligible mumble. “Such little things should not concern thee.”
Joe had the uneasy feeling that this priest somehow knew what had transpired. “Happen. Still, don’t much feel as I should be adding to it.”
Setting out two well-used tin mugs, Father Brennan poured out the boiling water. “Have you read the book of Revelations?” he asked without meeting Joe’s eyes.
Joe shifted uncomfortably on his feet at the strange question. He was far from being in the mood for a sermon. “Aye, maybe once or twice,” he said, somewhat dubiously. Accepting the weak tea as it was pressed into his hands, he wondered what he was still doing there.
“That time is almost upon us,” Brennan said, lifting his eyes at last. “The darkness in you, my son, does not compare.”
Joe sipped the tea as it came, only because he was so cold and it was warm. “Should I say three Hail Marys and go home then?” he asked, trying to keep his tone light. In truth the priest rather unnerved him. His eyes were piercing and his skin wan. Joe had never really understood the Catholic Church, but he couldn’t help feel that even this was out of line for their priests.
“It is not a joking matter,” Brennan said, his voice gravely seriously. “Drink His blood, accept Jesus Christ as your savior. Only then will you be saved.”
“I’ve been baptized,” Joe said, somewhat hotly. “And I repent for my sins best I can.” That wasn’t entirely true, but to Joe that was just between him and God.
As if sensing Joe’s discomfort, Brennan straightened, his expression clearing. “It isn’t David you need to find,” he finally said. “It’s answers.”
“What do you know?” Joe demanded, suddenly angry at the priest’s assumptions. “You don’t even know why I’m looking for him!”
“Don’t I?” Brennan countered, setting his tin of tea down on his desk. “I can look into your eyes and see what conflicts and desires you have there. Words are not the only way mere mortals speak.”
Joe instinctively took a step back, and Brennan’s hand shot out, gripping his shoulder roughly, holding him in place. “Leave off,” Joe said.
“Listen to me,” Brennan countered, suddenly intense. “What sins you commit are grains of sand compared to the darkness that will soon be upon us, when Satan’s seed is unleashed upon the Earth. Forgiveness is given to those who sin and repent, and so you do. His wrath is great, but He is merciful. The fears that plague you should be borne out, faced and conquered. You don’t even know the question and you seek answers. I will give them to you.” Pausing for breath, Brennan stared up into Joe’s eyes, his grip on Joe tightened as his fingers kneaded his shoulder. “There is an old park not far from here. It contains the answers you want. Go there tonight, after ten o’clock. Follow the lights and you’ll find what you seek.”
“You’re off your rocker,” Joe whispered, trying to pull away from him.
“So they say of most men who speak the Word of God,” Brennan agreed, his grip tightening painfully. “But I know my place and purpose in this world. Do you?”
“I’m not looking for the meaning of life,” Joe snapped. “I just wanted to find my friend.” At last, he jerked his arm out of Brennan’s hold.
“The park tonight,” Brennan said, his tone serious. “You will find what you seek there.”
“Unless David’s there, I doubt it.”
Brennan suddenly smiled, and in doing so somehow suddenly looked younger and more handsome. “You must trust some things on faith, Joe.” He stepped back, gesturing to the door, to indicate Joe was free to leave. “Go to the park. Follow the lights. There you will find the answer you seek.”
Setting his tea down, Joe backed up. He looked at Brennan, the black of his frock contrasting sharply against the light grey stone wall. Manners told him to be polite to this man of God, though the rest of him rebelled at the notion; he was sure it was worthless advice. “Thanks for the tea,” he managed, before hurrying out of the room.
His footsteps echoed after him, ringing through the empty cathedral, and though he didn’t look back as he trudged out onto the streets of Manchester, he couldn’t help but feel Father Brennan was watching him go.
There was no way, Joe decided, that he could go to the park that evening, even if he wanted. He located the entrance to it easily enough after leaving the church and had walked past, finding it unassuming. He didn’t see how waiting until after ten would make a difference to how it would help him. He certainly didn’t know what lights he was supposed to follow, or what answer he was supposed to find.
Bitter and disturbed by the priest’s unsettling words, Joe had a tasteless lunch in a coffee bar and grimaced as it began to rain. Facts began to pour down upon him. He was in Manchester. He had barely slept the past three days. His family was no doubt wondering where he had run off to this time. If David Hockley wanted to speak to him, the man would write him; he well knew where the Sugdens lived. Though he had gone on wild hunts like this before, Christine had been Joe’s wife, and Kathy his long time girlfriend; there was no excuse for Joe to hunt David like he had hunted them.
Even if David were running from him, what good would do to find him? Joe couldn’t drag the man back to Beckindale with him like he had tried with Christine and Kathy. He wasn’t even entirely sure what he would apologize for; David had been kissing him back just as enthusiastically. Happen in its own way it was best they didn’t speak on it at all. Better it was forgot entirely.
Only Joe wasn’t the sort of person who let things go so easily.
At half past ten that evening, when he should have been getting into bed back home at Demdyke Row so he could rise at five thirty to milk the cows, he found himself standing at the entrance to the park. The rain had let up, but a faint mist still hung in the air. If David were here, somehow, Joe would get what he needed to say out and over with in less than an hour. If he left Manchester by midnight, happen he could be back in Beckindale in time for a quick kip before milking.
The streetlamps illuminated the footpath leading into the park, but beyond him stretched what seemed like endless blackness. The trees in the park stood out as darker shadows against the night. All seemed impossibly still and quiet. Cursing himself for taking the advice of a crazy priest, Joe jammed his hands into his coat pocket and began walking through the silent park.
He kept his eyes and ears alert for any sign of other people, but on such a cold, dreary night, he was unsurprised to find he was alone. Not even the stars were out, obscured by clouds and mist.
After five minutes, when he was determined to give up and go back to his car, Joe spotted a light. It was tawny yellow and faint, glimmering in the distance. He quickly squashed down the strange fleeting feeling of hope rising in his chest and carefully altered his path to head for it. Follow the lights, Brennan had said. It looked little more than another streetlamp; if pressed, he would have guessed it was an alternate entrance to the park.
As he approached, he realized the lone bulb was attached to a small brick building, alone in the center of the park, and there was a man standing outside of it.
For a second, Joe was sure it would prove to be Father Brennan. A surge of anger welled in him, and he began preparing to tell the man off for dragging him out here in the middle of the night, wasting his time. But as he watched, another man materialized out of the darkness, met the man leaning against the wall—who Joe now realized was much too tall to be Brennan anyway—and they disappeared together into the small building.
Joe stopped for a moment, confused, before continuing on curiously. The pool of illumination cast by the light was not very strong, and Joe noted that several other bulbs had burned out beside the one that still shone. The building, he soon discovered, was a public toilet.
A chill swept through him, though Joe attributed it to the cold. He didn’t need to use the toilet, nor would he have in this dark, cold park, but he didn’t slow as he approached the building. There had been two men who had entered it, and though he knew neither were David, something compelled him to follow them.
Joe was not stupid. Though he had never encountered a public toilet like this—at night and in a big city like Manchester—he had heard the rumors and stories. He knew what he could expect. Even so, he was still shocked when he stepped into the dimly lit room and found the two men already well into their fucking.
One of the men had propped himself up on the sink, trousers in a pile on the floor, legs spread, back pressed into the tile wall. The other man had threaded his cock through his fly and was now relentlessly pounding it into the seated man’s body. The room was silent, save for their groaning gasps of pleasure and the soft slap of their bodies when they pressed together.
Unable to even breathe, Joe held himself rigid and watched. He felt like he should turn and run. The men couldn’t help but know he was there, but clearly did not care.
Though neither man was David Hockley, Joe found himself imagining one of them was. He could pretend, in his head, that kissing in the disco might have led to something like this, and his body shivered and twitched in interest at the notion. Riveted by the sight, he took a step backward, trying to escape what he found himself embroiled in.
Though the men were otherwise engaged, Joe feared one might turn to him, or beckon him over with a hand. The rational part of Joe’s mind knew he would never accept such an offer, but the irrational man inside him—the one who had enjoyed kissing David, and who had driven to Manchester on a whim to find him—thought he just might. After such a long, fruitless search, Joe wasn’t sure his rational side would win.
He took another step back and then stumbled into what he thought was the wall. It wasn’t until two firm hands caught him from behind that he realized someone had entered the room after him and was now holding him in place.
“There is your answer,” the man behind him said, in the familiar gravelly voice Joe knew belonged to Father Brennan.
His first instinct was to flail and pull away, but that passed almost instantly. He was rooted to the spot, his eyes still fixed on where the two men were joined. Brennan was right; this was the answer Joe had been seeking.
Brennan’s hands tightened their grip on Joe’s shoulders, and his voice grew louder as he pressed his mouth close to Joe’s ear. “It isn’t David you need to see to understand yourself; it’s this.”
Joe could barely hear him over the pounding of his heart. His eyes remained riveted on the couple in front of him, but he knew what Brennan was saying and what his words meant. He knew Brennan was right. The way his heart was galloping in his chest and the way his body was reacting told him all he needed to know. “No,” he said, but it came out as an unconvincing whimper.
One of Brennan’s hands released his shoulder, moving forward along his body. There was nothing subtle in the way Brennan touched him. One moment his hand was on Joe’s arm, the next it was cupping the heat trapped beneath his trousers. Joe hissed at the touch, at the audacity, at the man, but he didn’t pull away.
“Good,” Brennan growled. He palmed Joe through his trousers a moment longer and then, before Joe even comprehended what he was doing, undid the button and fly on his jeans and pushed the fabric down around his hips.
Joe managed a grunt of surprise before Brennan was pushing him forward. It happened too quickly for him to process it—one moment he was standing there, watching two men he didn’t know engaging in sodomy, and the next Joe found himself gripping the dirty sink bowl as a priest pressed his body into him from behind. One of Brennan’s hands wrapped around Joe’s cock, to pull it free of its confines.
“Father,” Joe croaked, suddenly delirious with desire and revulsion.
“Emmanuel,” Brennan rasped, sliding his hand up and down Joe’s heavy cock.
To that, Joe couldn’t reply. He just let out a groan and gripped the sink harder. His thoughts had scattered completely. He had to still be sitting in his car, debating on whether or not he would actually go into the park. This was all a fantasy he was having. The priest from the church wasn’t really bent over him, manhandling him and panting hot and heavy in his ear.
“Joe,” Brennan grunted, a strange longing in his voice. He tightened his grip on Joe’s cock for a second, and then let go.
No more than a moment passed before Brennan had his hand on the curve of Joe’s arse. He was not wasting any time. Something cool and slick touched Joe’s skin, and he flinched as if he had been burned. How he was letting this happen, he couldn’t comprehend.
To his left, the man perched on the sink began to convulse, gasping as he came. As Joe watched, the man milked his cock dry, come oozing out over his hands as he did. And still the other man pounded into him, grunting with the effort.
The sight alone sent unexpected pleasure rippling through Joe in ways he had not experienced before. He had never witnessed another man come, and he wouldn’t have believed it were possible for one to do so from being taken like that if he hadn’t just seen it with his own eyes. He groaned with sudden, sympathetic longing, watching the other man’s cock being swallowed up inside the man’s body over and over, and found himself aching for the same.
And then Brennan was touching him, pressing fingers into him, aware of what Joe was watching. Possibly he even understood how aroused Joe was by the sight of what was to come. “I will make thee see God now,” he promised, his voice husky. “Beg for salvation while you are there.”
Without any further preamble, Brennan pressed himself into Joe. One hand remained at the base of his cock, guiding, but the other rested, burning hot, on Joe’s flank.
A low groan escaped Joe, but all he could do was clutch at the sink. That he could twist away and escape did not occur to him at all. Overcome with sensation, Joe bowed his head, looking away from the other couple at last. Instead, he envisioned Father Brennan bent over him, thick cock pressing into his tight ring of muscles. Flushing at the mental image and how badly the thought of it turned him on, Joe released the sink with one hand and furiously began working his own length.
He wanted to take Brennan inside him completely. He wanted the man’s rough hands on his body, wanted to feel the fury and passion rolling into him. He wanted to be fucked like the man beside him had been, so hard and relentless that he forgot his name and who he was or why he had come there. He accepted Brennan’s intrusion as best he could, gasping and twitching as he fought against his body’s natural instincts to repel it.
He was going to let go; let a mad priest fuck him in a dirty toilet in Manchester. For the first time in his life, Joe Sugden stopped being the simple farm boy from the backwater town of Beckindale. There weren’t cows at home waiting to be milked or sheep needing to be sheared. He jerked himself hard, moaning unabashedly as he did, giving himself up utterly without even realizing it.
After only a few seconds, Brennan began to thrust into Joe. It was clear that the priest could wait no longer, for Joe could feel the man’s body trembling in desire even as he pushed. It was good—Joe didn’t want compassion or kindness. This was dirty and wrong and deserved to be treated as such. He shouldn’t have allowed such a horrible thing, nor wanted to sin half so badly; he deserved to suffer for any pleasure he received from it.
“Joe,” Brennan gasped, sounding quite miserable. His voice was like a wail. Now that he had found a rhythm he put both his hands on Joe’s hips, pulling the young man back onto him just as forcefully as he was pushing his own body into him. “Oh, Joe,” he lamented with great passion.
It was wonderful and horrible all at once. Brennan’s low voice cut right through Joe, so there could be no doubt who was behind him. Joe shivered uncontrollably at the man’s voice, and the hot hands that gripped his hips, and the hard length forcing itself into him. He gave up possession of his cock again to grip at the sink, grunting as Brennan’s thrusts grew deeper and more urgent. That Brennan needed this more than Joe did was impossible to ignore, and the knowledge that a priest could be caught up in such a vice made everything even more real, more possible for Joe.
The despair in Brennan’s voice as he sinned so helplessly was, for Joe, the perfect encouragement. If a priest could give himself over to this damnation despite the anguish it caused him, Joe most certainly could too, and willingly.
Though it was far from comfortable, Joe braced himself on the sink and then rocketed his hips back, onto Brennan’s cock. Behind him, the priest shuddered and gasped in surprise, stubby fingers clutching at Joe’s hips desperately. Grinning hellishly, Joe panted and did it again, wanting not to just let this happen to him; he wanted to be responsible. He didn’t want to be Joe Sugden anymore, used by a stranger; he wanted to be in control, using Brennan just as much as Brennan was using him. “Brennan,” he groaned again, twisting his head to try to look over his shoulder.
“Such a sinner you are!” Brennan cried in sorrowful delight, and for a brief second the two men made eye contact.
It was all Joe needed—to see the lust in those sad blue eyes; to know that, in the end, this would bring the tormented man far more pleasure than suffering. Joe rolled back onto that thick cock again and concentrated not on Brennan or David Hockley or sinning. He didn’t even concentrate on Joe Sugden—he was just a nameless man, now. All he concentrated on was the feel of Brennan’s firm heat as it pushed into him, over and over. He memorized the shape of that hot, hard erection, and the feeling it sent rippling through him, stretching and pounding into his body.
He concentrated on the invasion he welcomed so helplessly, on how no one had ever done anything like this to him before, and how he was now willingly encouraging a stranger to use him for sexual gratification. Groaning loudly he took perverse delight in the moment: taboo stacked upon taboo upon taboo. For all the sinning he had done in his life, nothing compared to this, and nothing felt half so wonderful. No wonder it was a sin—if normal men felt safe to fuck like this, they would never do it any other way.
Brennan was crying out again, his voice echoing overloud in the small confines of the toilet. The priest seemed to have discovered a renewed source of energy and doubled his tempo, panting hard as he drove himself into Joe’s body.
For his part, Joe had stopped backing onto Brennan—the pleasure had overtaken his ability to control his body. There was something Brennan was hitting deep inside him that clouded his mind completely. It felt like he orgasmed each time Brennan thrust into it, sending Joe into delirium. He never wanted it to end—this moment, with this man inside him, filling him utterly.
Brennan, for his part, lasted quite a while. Longer than one might expect a sex starved middle-aged priest to last in such a tight, hot, virgin body. In the end though, he gripped Joe around the middle, dragging the man down onto his cock completely, until he could thrust in no further, and there he released, crying out in a strangled gasp as he unloaded his burden into the young, firm body around him. He dug his fingers into Joe’s sides, as though hoping to leave bruises, and jerked as he came, pumping himself dry inside that perfect, accommodating cavity.
All Joe could do was to remain bent there, letting Brennan fill him with his seed. It was unlike anything he had ever experienced before, more personal and intimate by far. With the women he had slept with—even his own wife—they had used protection of some sort. And even then it was always him releasing in her, certainly never the other way around. His stomach rolled with the knowledge that he had let such a stranger so intimately inside him in a way he had never let even those he openly loved. His body tightened appreciatively, his abdomen and his thighs, the cheeks of his rear, right along with his balls, heavy now with need.
If he had been asked, he would have told Brennan to withdraw before he unloaded, but now that it was said and done, Joe was grateful for the abuse. It was the literal icing on the cake, making this horrible taboo complete. Brennan spasmed in him one last time, fingers digging hard into his flesh, and Joe came. One hand gripped the sink, the other clawed first at his abdomen, and then, as his orgasm continued, rolling violently through him like a series of waves, dropped to clutch his cock, stroking it harder and harder as hot jets of come shot all over the concrete floor.
Even after he finished, Joe still trembled, his body still spasming, his hips still rocking with the motion. Subconsciously he wanted it to go on and on, forever—that it was over seemed just as impossible to process as it starting had been.
Brennan slipped out of him from behind, though his hands stayed on Joe’s hips, almost possessively. The room grew silent but for their heavy breathing. The other couple had left unnoticed sometime during the passion of the moment. Uncertain if he could still stand, Joe tried to straighten out, shivering from his orgasm and at the cold he suddenly felt—cold and emptiness.
With some reluctance he pulled up his trousers, suddenly ashamed to be standing there, all exposed. That he was likely to dribble come into his pants didn’t even occur to him. He buttoned and zipped and then turned at last, to look at Brennan.
For the first time he realized the man had no dog collar on and had changed out of his priest frock into simple black slacks—which he had done up again—and a black windcheater. His eyes were still sad, but his sallow cheeks at last had a touch of color. Joe met his eyes for a moment, but couldn’t hold the gaze and quickly looked away.
His body still thrumming from the sex, Joe wanted nothing more than to collapse to his knees on the floor and cry in joy and despair. Even dressed, he couldn’t suppress the shiver that coursed through him. His life had been irrevocably changed. Though he still couldn’t meet the eyes of the priest, he reached out, suddenly needing to touch him—to have more contact with this man who had just given him everything.
But as he moved to put his hand on Brennan’s chest, the part of Joe that he had denied finally awoke. He was an upright Christian farmer again and he shouldn’t be touching any man like he wanted to, let alone a priest.
“Foolish boy,” Brennan said, his voice still a low rumble in his chest, but now tinged with affection. He reached out where Joe had failed, put his arms around Joe’s shoulders and drew him close in what could only be called an embrace.
Helplessly, Joe melted instantly into him, hands clenching up fistfuls of Brennan’s jacket. He had no idea how to react now, what to do or say. All he knew was that he wanted to touch this man and thank him, and to push him away just as fiercely.
“Not the answer you wanted?” Brennan asked, his voice soft and rough as he murmured into Joe’s ear.
Shaking his head, Joe pulled away. That was enough, to be held for just a moment. “God sure does work in mysterious ways,” he managed softly, trying to lighten the mood. Self-consciously he ran a hand through his hair. He felt fatigued and jittery still, as if his legs wouldn’t support him. All the same, he wanted to be out of the toilet, back in the safety of his car and from there to the simple, straightforward life in Beckindale, where he wouldn’t have to question his principles and morals anymore.
“Come you back to the church,” Brennan said, stepping away. “You are tired and there are beds available.”
“I can’t,” Joe quickly replied, fighting down the urge to take the man up on his offer. To be fucked like that again, in the luxury of a bed within the walls of a church, the thought positively made him tingle.
Changing tactics, Brennan nodded, “A hotel then. There are several nearby.”
“Nay, I’ve got to get back to Emmerdale,” Joe protested, shaking his head. He took the chance and walked past Brennan out into the darkness of the night. His legs felt weak, but they supported him. “Cows t’be milked soon. People’ll wonder where I am.”
“Of course,” Brennan said, folding his hands in front of him. He stood in the doorway to the building, framed in the golden light from the single bulb. “And David?” he asked.
Joe turned around, looking at Brennan’s feet. He shrugged his shoulders. Given the chance, would he let David Hockley use him the way he had let Father Brennan? Would he use David that way, if allowed? The thought was compelling, but for all of his compatibility and good looks, Joe didn’t wish this sort of dilemma on David. “Happen it’s best he went away,” he said.
Brennan nodded. Overhead, the bulb flickered, scattering shadows over the man’s dark form. Standing there, Joe thought the priest looked like he belonged to the night, and he wondered how many other men he had taken like he had taken Joe. The knowledge that he was far from the first and quite unlikely to be the last tugged at him—it was tragic, in its own way. It made Joe want to offer comfort, though he was far from the right person to give it.
“There will be time for regret when I am in hell,” Brennan said, as if reading Joe’s mind. He even managed to sound almost happy as he spoke the words. “You’ve learned your lesson. Go back home.”
Joe didn’t like the thought of accepting damnation to hell so easily, but nodded anyway. Yet, he didn’t turn to leave. To do so seemed too difficult, like turning his back on all that he had just experienced. At last he raised his eyes, to take in Brennan’s face again. He remembered too well memorizing the wonderful shape and feel of the man’s cock inside him—now he wanted to memorize the face that went with it. The lines of sorrow that creased Brennan’s features tugged at Joe’s heart. The man would have been beautiful if he would but smile.
At last, unable to think of anything else, Joe nodded and said, “Thank you.”
And there it came—a ghost of a smile, flickering over Brennan’s face, brightening his eyes slightly, in away that had nothing to do with the light. “Goodbye, Joe.”
When he was later driving home, Joe couldn’t remember how he had managed to turn away from that sad, broken man to trudge through the darkness to his car.
Once in Beckindale again, Joe slipped back into conformity. If he was a little withdrawn during milking that morning, Matt didn’t mention it. He went home to Demdyke for a long soak at lunch, and by evening the memory of Father Brennan was pushed to the back of his mind. That he didn’t go out the following day on his wild goose chase looking for David Hockley went uncommented upon.
When they learned that Donald Hinton, the new vicar, took up post in the vacant vicarage the following Monday, Annie watched her son for his reaction. She had known Joe and David had grown close—though not to what extent. More than anyone else though, Annie understood that David’s unexpected departure had hit Joe badly.
Hinton was widowed with grown children and exactly the sort of old-fashioned, middle-aged man the little town needed. Though he was a poor replacement for those that had been fond of David, Joe made no comment or rebuke. In his own mind, he felt he was finished with holy men, and he was grateful for Annie’s silence.
Sixteen days after his encounter with Father Brennan—not that he was counting—a letter arrived for Joe, at Emmerdale Farm. Annie held it over for him until lunch, giving it over with a questioning raise of her eyebrows, though she would never ask what it was about.
The envelope was stamped with sealing wax from the Catholic Church and signed Father Emmanuel Brennan. The sight of the name sent a shiver through Joe that settled pleasantly in his groin. Trying to hide his interest in the letter, he took it to the sitting room to read by the fire. That Brennan had found Joe at Emmerdale did not surprise him, but that he had sent a letter—so blatantly from the Catholic Church—did.
The contents did not reveal a hint of the relationship that had transpired between them. It merely thanked Joe for their meeting some weeks ago. The main purpose of the letter was to inform Joe that Brennan was moving from Manchester to a larger church in London, due to some ‘very important business’ that needed attending. It went on to say that Joe would be very welcome to visit, any time. A forwarding address was included.
Joe sat there, holding and rereading the letter, for several minutes. Upon returning to Beckindale from Manchester, he had attempted to put the whole thing out of his mind. It was an impossible feat, but one he tried to concentrate on. In the end, he knew that giving in to that sin was too impossible. He was trapped into this simple life—working for the farm, living in Beckindale. There was no way he could dream of pursuing any sort of life like he had experienced in Manchester, with Father Brennan.
Yet, the letter presented an opportunity to indulge in the pleasure of that sin once again, perhaps even on a haphazardly regular basis. Could Joe convince himself to take a holiday in London for the sole purpose of letting a priest fuck him? The eager twitch in his trousers told him that, despite the ridiculousness of the notion, he was a little more than interested.
His reverie broke as his grandfather came in from his garden, for lunch. The old man grunted in discontent, finding Joe occupying his favorite seat by the fire. “Need glasses now?” old Sam asked, looking at the one-page letter Joe had been pouring over for some minutes.
“Nay,” Joe said, quickly standing up and folding the letter away. “Just lost in thought.”
“What’s that then?” Sam questioned, settling into the vacated chair.
In the kitchen, Joe noticed his mother turn towards them slightly as she finished preparing lunch, surreptitiously interested in the conversation despite her inability to ask about the letter herself.
“Nowt to worry about,” Joe said, all at once. “Just junk mail.”
“They’re clogging the railways with that stuff, tha knows,” Sam agreed.
In the kitchen, Annie began laying dishes out on the table, and Joe suddenly crumpled the letter up into a tight ball. Before he could think about it, he tossed it into the fire, where it soon turned black and shriveled up into ash.
This was where he belonged, in Beckindale, with his family. He had gone to Manchester with questions and had returned with the answer he needed. His life was more than good, and just having the answer was enough. He didn’t need anything more than that.