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By Sarah Hapgood

After reheasing their routine backstage 4 times, Bardin went outside for some fresh air. It was now early evening, and the whole place was buzzing, but even so there was an end of summer atmosphere around. The end was in sight, bringing to everyone all the mixed feelings that that entails. He sat down on a straw bale and watched the passing traffic.

Hortense and Olympe, one of the younger chorus-girls, went past, fully-costumed and engrossed in a heated argument. Olympe was a frivolous girl, who loved gossiping. Unfortunately, this had now got her into trouble, after Hortense had heard that Olympe had been making disparaging remarks about her relationship with Hawkefish. The women disappeared into the main tent. Immediately Hawkefish appeared around the other side, looking shifty. He wasn't wearing his ring-master's suit, as he had been invited for dinner up at the Governor's House.

He was very fond of Hortense. Like all middle-aged people, he found it flattering to be fancied by someone so much younger than him. But he didn't love her, and he was looking forward to a couple of hours away from her. Hortense was annoyed that Hawkefish hadn't invited her along, but he wanted to relax this evening, and he had to admit that he couldn't do that in her company. She was like a demanding child who constantly needed amusement.

Bardin watched him as he scooted away across the site, like a fugitive from justice.

"I saw Bardin sitting outsie the main tent just now", said Hawkefish, having pre-dinner cocktails with Adam and Julian up at Brinslee's house "He does take everything so very intensely. I'm not surprised you want him as your replacement though, Julian. I would quite like to retire soon myself, but only if I could find someone like Bardin to take over the Little Theatre for me".

"It's entirely up to Bardin what he does", said Adam, as the 3 of them sat on the leather sofa at the foot of the main stairs "But I think he'll stay with us somehow".

"He'd better!" said Julian "After all the trouble I've taken over his upbringing!"

"One thing that may be of concern", said Hawkefish "Bardin can be notoriously bossy. Sometimes he's not as diplomatic as he could be in his handling of people. Do you not worry that with him now being in overall charge of everyone, that might get a little out of hand?"

"Not at all", said Julian, confidentally "His behaviour won't go unchecked".

"Julian's never has", said Adam, cheekily.

"Humph", said Julian "Anyway, Bardin knows better than that. He should do by now, he's been spanked enough times!"

"But what about when you or Adam are no longer around to exert the necessary discipline dear boy?" said Hawkefish.

"Then the others will do it", said Adam "Bengo's chastised him before now".

"That I find extraordinary!" Hawkefish laughed.

"Oh you'd better believe it", said Adam "Bardin quite relishes a firm hand from time to time. As do all bossy people ... don't they, Jules?"

"You're asking ME are you?" said Julian "What a surprise!"

Hillyard came over and forced his way onto the sofa, in spite of portests from the others that there wasn't room for him.

"That's alright, makes it more cosy", said Hillyard, slapping Adam's knee "What say we get rid of old Julian later Ad, and then I'll come and find you?"

"I think you'll have to wait until we get back to Midnight Castle", said Adam "We'll have more time, and the bedroom arrangements won't be so complicated".

"That's fine by me", said Hillyard, genially "I've waited 30 years, I don't mind waiting a bit longer!"

Hawkefish enjoyed the dinner at Brinslee's table, and afterwards went for a stroll around the garden. There was now a definite chill in the evening air, a sure sign that Port West's long, hot summer was drawing to a close. As he reached the end of the sun-terrace, he saw Bardin sneaking out of a side-door with a parcel under his arm.

Bardin had taken one of his favourite shirts up to Finia to be mended, so that he could wear it in their final routine tomorrow. Hawkefish stopped him, feeling in the mood for a twilight chat with him. But Bardin had been hit with a sudden wave of lust. He had an intense longing to be making love to Bengo back at the caravan. It came over him with extaordinary speed and strength, as though he'd taken a very potent aphrodisiac. He was tingling all over his body, similar to when Julian had thrashed him with the strap a few days earlier. All he could think of was Bengo, and how he wanted to roger him.

He made his excuses and hobbled home hastily, handicapped by a firm erection and a jellied orgasm sensation in his body. He was vaguely aware of Zooks standing in the main squar, talking to a rather sinister-looking, and strangely familiar-looking character with fair hair. But Bardin couldn't have cared less about Zooks at that moment, and completely ignored his urgent salutations to come and join them.

Bardin's lust was his salvation that evening, as it was to be for so many people in Port West that memorable night. The fair-haired character had been Angel.

Joby had snatched a couple of hours of exhausted sleep just before dawn. To say Kieran had been insatiable when they went up to bed would be putting it mildly! He had wanted to try anything and everything. Sheer exhaustion had been the only thing that had eventually dampened his fire.

It was now 7 in the morning, and incredibly Kieran was out of bed and shaving in front of the window, whilst singing an old pop song about love potions, and even managing a small jig after rinsing his face. Joby watched him in bleary-eyed astonishment.

"Ah you're awake", said Kieran, looking over at him "Well roll over so I can bugger you".

"What again?" Joby exclaimed.

"Unless you can think of something else you'd rather do", said Kieran.

"I was gonna go and use the karsey actually", said Joby.

"Use the pot under the bed", said Kieran "You haven't got time to go to the bathroom. Of course if you're not up to it I shall have to go and find Adam".

"I shouldn't think he's up to it this morning either!" said Joby, who had been dimly aware the evening before of sounds of Lonts aroused coming through the wall "Did you put something in the mussel soup last night?"

"Nope", said Kieran "I just exerted the only power I've got that Angel hasn't".

"Eh?" said Joby.

"You know Angel can do all sorts of things I can't, like shape-shifting, and miracle cures and all that", said Kieran.

"Is this gonna take long?" said Joby.

"I'm coming to the point", said Kieran "Well what's the one thing he can never do, and which he hates us doing?"

"Having a good time?" said Joby.

"Exactly. Making love. Showing our love for each other", said Kieran "The Devil can't stand that, because that way we're united, and he can't control people if they're happy and in unity with one another".

"You said you were getting to the point", said Joby.

"The point is, Angel's in town at the moment", said Kieran "I sensed his presence last night".

"Oh fucking terrific!" said Joby "Everywhere we go he turns up!"

"Joby, we have to accept that he's always going to be around", said Kieran, kneeling on the bed "We'll never be rid of him. So we have to learn to fight him with our own weapons, and that's what I did last night. I made the whole town go into a gigantic love-in".

"How?" said Joby, suspiciously.

"Just by turning all me thoughts that way", said Kieran "A bit like when I destroyed the Evil at the lighthouse all those years ago. I couldn't have done all that last night without you, 'cos I fancy you so damn much, you and your wrists! What chance has Angel got if everyone's too busy humping each other to take any notice of him?"

"Not everyone", said Joby "There's always gonna be some sad git who'll be the odd one out".

"Well if they'd rather be bored witless by Angel and his drivelling on, than have a good time, then there's nothing I can do for 'em!" said Kieran.

"Tamaz!" Joby leapt to his feet "I've gotta see that Tamaz is alright. Angel's really got it in for him, Kiel".

"Tamaz is perfectly safe, Joby", said Kieran, grabbing his friend's wrists and pulling him back onto the bed "He's been sealed up in a tin-can with his 6 boyfriends. Angel wouldn't have stood a chance of getting near him!"

At lunchtime Joby crept out of the Governor's House, feeling like a wrung-out dishcloth. Kieran had finally gone to see Adam, so Joby took the opportunity to go and see how Tamaz had fared that night (although Joby had a shrewd idea that Kieran had been right in his opinion that Tamaz had probably had a damn good time in the caravan with the others!).

Walking through Brinslee's house had confirmed that a grand love-in had taken place that night. Hillyard was soaping Mieps's breasts in the bath, whilst Julian huffed and puffed for attention nearby. Lonts had encountered Joby in the corridor and had wanted to kiss him. This was nothing unusual, but it was harder than normal for Joby to get away from him. Ransey was smiling as he emerged from his bedroom and, unusually, showing a lot of teeth as he did so. Codlik, on the landing, was also smiling and showing a lot of teeth (not unusual), but he made a ribald joke to Joby about love potions (highly unusual). Downstairs, an excitable Brinslee was having a whispered conversation with Nesta, who scurried away when she saw Joby. Brinslee meanwhile looked as though he was flying around the Universe on fluffy clouds. Joby idly wondered how Nesta's husband had spent the night, as he went down to the Festival site.

Hortense was sitting on a bale backstage, putting rollers in her hair. She looked up from her mirror as Joby went passed, and gave him an astonishing reptilian smile, accompanied by a downright saucy greeting.

Much shaken, Joby stopped off in the beer-tent to buy a cold bottle of beer. The bartender stroked his hand when he gave him his change. Now feeling as though he was spaced-out on drugs, Joby went back outside where he was vigorously goosed from behind.

"Alright that's enough! You're all raving mad!" he cried, hysterically, thinking the bartender had followed him out.

"It's me", Tamaz grinned and goosed him again, this time from the front.

"Tamaz!" Joby gasped, in delight "You're o.k?"

Silly question really. Tamaz grabbed his hand and dragged him firmly back to the caravan.

"I'm surprised you're still here", said Kieran, getting out of the bath. Through the dense steam in the bathroom he could see Angel standing morosely by the door "After all, I wouldn't have thought this town was your scene at all at the moment. All that focking going on!"

"You think you're so smart, shit-face!" Angel rasped.

"How's your disciple this morning?" said Kieran "These must be lean times for the Devil when he can only get the likes of Zooks to take notice of him!"

"I'm taking him back to the Castle with me", said Angel, sullenly "He wants to come".

"Ach, you've got a wee friend at last!" Kieran cooed "I'd like to say I was worried what you and the others'll do to him there, but I can't get interested enough. As long as he's not expecting us to rescue him later, that's all that matters. I'd like a fairly quiet life from now on".

"You haven't heard the last of me", said Angel.

"Angel, if you don't clear out of here very soon", said Kieran "Me lust might get the better of me and I'll come lunging at you!"

Angel hesitated, and even seemed to move towards him.

"And if that should happen", said Kieran, softly "All your power would be destroyed. The Devil would have been destroyed by Love, as I was originally supposed to have done, all those years ago, and yet couldn't".

"And you could now?" said Angel.

"Ooh I'm frisky enough at the moment to try anything!" said Kieran, winking at him.

"And then what would happen to me?" said Angel.

"You'd be Saved", said Kieran "There would be no Devil in you, no Evil. You'd get another chance to live as an ordinary human being".

Angel stepped towards him, as though he was preparing to cross some great divide, Kieran reading his thoughts all the while. But he hesitated again, and that was his undoing. The Devil's insufferable vanity got in the way. He had been something extraordinary for so long that he couldn't stomach the idea of losing that, whatever he would get in return. And his pride got there too. He couldn't let Kieran win outright. He wanted Kieran to love him, more than anything else in the world, but he wanted it to be solely on his, Angel's, terms. He wanted the security of having Kieran as his love-slave. Nothing else would do. He didn't want to be simply one of the many people Kieran loved, instead he wanted to be the SOLE ONE that Kieran needed and idolised. Until that impossible day happened, Angel would have to fall back into his dark existence. And he did.

Kieran got down to the Big Top in time to watch the younger ones do their final routine, which went down very well, even though it was entirely free of controversy, for a change. Afterwards, he and Joby walked in the direction of the backstage area.

"So you don't fancy being Angel's love-slave then?" said Joby, when Kieran had told him all that had happened in the bathroom at Brinslee's house "I thought you liked the idea of being a love-slave!"

"Yes, but yours, not his!" said Kieran.

They joined hands and walked towards the others, who were laughing, horsing around, and congratulating each other deservedly on a job well done.


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