Chapter 1 – Daniel finds out just how good a friend he has.
"A man walks into a bar, wearing…"
Sounds like the start of any one of a thousand jokes, right? Bear with me. It ain't a joke.
A man walks into a bar, wearing what looks like boxer's tapes on his hands. There's a round of applause, some beer bottles raised in salutation, a parting of the ways as he moves to the counter, clearly embarrassed by his celebrity but nodding to well-wishers amiably. A beer awaits him when he gets there.
"It is on me." says Sabine, a very pretty and very blonde young fraulein from Dusseldorf who's in London for the summer.
"Better make it an OJ. I'm medicated." Daniel slides onto a stool and rests his mittens on the brass rail along the bar. The rest of the room goes about its business and he relaxes. A couple of close friends form an impromptu cordon as they close around him to hear the full story and Sabine makes her way to this side of the counter and perches on the next stool along. Daniel's met her for lunch or coffee a few times over the last month so she's almost a girlfriend and definitely a friend and should be a part of this little group.
"It is a shame to waste this. Yah?" She takes a long pull on the opened but unclaimed Heineken.
"Got a straw?" Daniel makes a show of not being able to pick up his orange juice, prompting Sabine to hop off the stool, levitate a foot or so and stretch over the counter to reach the box of straws. Daniel almost gets caught looking at her ass.
"The news didn't give many details. What did you do?" She holds his glass up to him so he can take a pull on the straw.
"What did I do? I let Chris talk me into taking him to Brixton to get some photos of Saturday's rally. That's what I did. It was more like bloody Beirut. The police were out in full-on riot gear and those guys from the Nation of Islam came prepared. When it kicked off, some young copper broke ranks to try and get Chris out of no-mans-land and got hit on the back by a petrol bomb. I got a bit singed patting the flames out" Daniel held up his bandaged hands to illustrate what 'got a bit singed' meant.
"The reporter said you saved that policeman's life."
"Dunno about that. He had a lot of colleagues close enough to help too. I was just nearest."
"You should get a bleedin' medal." Suggested Chris, who's finally arrived, bearing a framed 15x12 of "the money shot". "This morning's front page. I signed it for you too. See?"
"See!" sighed Daniel "I'm busy trying to put out a burning copper and this joker's stood there taking my bloody picture."
"Just being professional buddy."
"Just being a tosser."
"Professional. The ed wants to know when you're going to submit some copy. He cobbled a few inches together from my notes to go with the headline but he wants you to do a personal account asap."
"Yeah? Just as soon as I can type." Daniel isn't impressed with the idea.
"Dictate it. Seriously buddy, there's a pay rise and maybe even promotion in this story. Fancy interviewing the copper? Docs say he's gonna be ok and we can see him tomorrow."
"OK. But think about it. Ok?"
"Call me tomorrow. PM. Now get lost. I've got a girl here and you're cramping my style."
"Ok Buddy. Goodnight." Chris puts the picture on the bar and leaves.
"You have a girl here?" Sabine asks, blue eyes twinkling at him.
"I can't even hold my own glass so you're going to have to stick with me all evening and, anyway, it's about time we had a proper date."
"A proper date? Are we going to go dancing later?"
"I'm not dressed for clubs but I'm sure there's other things we can do."
"Bobbing for apples?"
"Bobbing? This means…?"
"Sorry. I keep forgetting English isn't your first language. Bobbing for apples is a game. You float apples in a big tub of water and take it in turns trying to pick them out using only your teeth."
"Yes. We have this in Germany but it is only for children."
"Lets just stick to dinner then. If you don't mind feeding both of us."
"I do not mind. When my… The father of my mother. In English this is?"
"When my grandfather was old and his hands were not so still, I fed him also."
"Careful. I'm not so old I can't bite." Daniel snaps his teeth like a turtle.
"Only apples I think."
"Shall we get a table then? We'd better eat here since you're still at work – officially at least." He slips off the stool, offering Sabine a totally unnecessary elbow that she nonetheless hooks her arm through, and they stroll over to the counter by the door. "Ernesto, I'm keeping Sabine for the evening. Just put her on my bill. And can we have a table for two somewhere quiet?"
"Sure Dan. A table for two, but Sabine's on the house." Ernesto smiles like a Port Said pimp selling his kid sister. He doesn't run a particularly tight ship and recruits most of his staff from a local model agency on the principle that pretty girls encourage single men to spend more freely, which may be non-PC but is nonetheless true. Anyway, the girls often need days off for photo-shoots or auditions so he's generally overstaffed to cover the unplanned absences and to make sure the staff aren't too busy to chat to customers and keep them in his bar or restaurant instead of going somewhere else to spend their money. This simple and laidback management strategy is making Ernesto wealthy with the minimum of stress or effort.
Sabine ordered spaghetti for two, which is going to be messy but fun to share.
"How long have you to wear those wrappings?"
"The bandages? A couple of weeks. They'll have to be changed regularly though. I was supposed to stay in hospital a while longer as I can't really fend for myself but I'd go crazy in there."
"Fend for your self? Take care of yourself. Yah?"
"Yes. Baggy sweaters and jogging pants are pretty much the limit of my dressing ability and even that takes ages. I'll go to Panos, my barber – hairdresser – every couple of days for a shampoo and shave 'coz I can use the shower but I have to keep the bandages dry with plastic bags to put over them. It's a case of standing there with my hands up, letting the power shower do all the work then sit around the bathroom until I dry naturally. Can't hold a towel."
"So difficult. I even have to sit down to pee."
"That's not such a big thing." Sabine tries not to laugh.
"I suppose not. Here's dinner"
They ate slowly and got about halfway through the bowl of pasta before it was cold. Sabine used the same fork for them both, alternating one mouthful for him then one for her. She made him slurp long tails of spaghetti up his chin and laughed at the mess he made of his face and sweatshirt. When they'd finished eating, she came around the table and dabbed the spatters of sauce from his chin. The faint traces of her deodorant and the warm, cinnamon scent of her skin were quite intoxicating and combined with her ministrations the whole situation was really turning him on. He'd fancied Sabine from day one but hadn't found an opportunity to pursue the relationship. Now he was cursing all those wasted weeks.
"What did that mean that you said to Chris earlier? FR____"
"FRORN? It's an acronym. We use it when we're in polite company and can't swear."
"But what does it mean?"
"Fuck Right Off, Right Now."
"Are you angry at him? It is a very dramatic picture he brought you."
"Chris is an old friend. I'll forgive him in a day or two but right here, right now? Yeah I'm mad at him on lots of levels."
"So. You are presentable again." She finished tidying up pasta sauce while he was talking. "If you sit the bar, I can work and talk. Yah?"
Daniel's arm snakes around her waist and a little gentle pressure on the small of her back urges her down onto his lap, her arms on either shoulder to steady herself.
"I think you are not so helpless."
"Handless, not helpless." Daniel pecks her on the lips. Nothing new in that. She's European and kisses like we shake hands. "Thanks for looking after me."
"Willkommen mein herr" she kisses him back. It takes a fraction longer.
Sabine extricated herself from Daniel's lap and they both returned to opposite sides of the bar. By the end of the evening, Sabine had done precious little work but at least it had been less obvious. As Daniel stood and started to bid her goodnight she stopped him.
"Wait ten minutes. I will come with you."
"To the station? Ok" He might get a proper goodnight kiss at the ticket barrier: at least more so than he could expect across the bar.
"To your flat. You cannot look after yourself so I am coming to your flat and you are going to be my new Opa."
"Grandfather." She winks.
"A grandfather at 28? Is that even possible?"
"Yah. And you have some grey hairs here." she runs her fingers over his temple.
"Do I get any choice in this?"
"No. German's are very assertive."
"So you're going to invade Poland Street?" he laughs while his mind races with possible consequences - mainly positive ones.
It was actually twenty minutes later, having nobly resisted the urge to fight the inevitable, he proffered his arm to Sabine a second time and they started the short walk through London's balmy night air from Covent Garden to Soho. The streets were still busy, hence noisy, but four floors above Poland Street, it was peaceful enough. Alan couldn't even get his own keys out, proving Sabine's earlier point about his incapacity. She didn't even ask before reaching into his pocket for them. "Good God!" he thought "I hope she doesn't notice I'm going commando." One pair of pants to pull up had been hard enough. As she opened the door, the alarm started beeping.
"4605" he tells her the code, waving at the keypad on the alarm "then Enter"
The beeping stops and Sabine's hand finds the light switch and pushed closed the door.
"You live alone. Yah?" She indicates the general disarray and the innovative use of the living room floor as a sort of horizontal wardrobe.
"There's still time to catch a train home." Daniel suggests, not seriously.
"Do you not want me here?" Her mouth turns down comically far as she puts on an unhappy face. "I am pretty. I know this because boys always tell me so. I know boys lie to girls but they don't all tell the same lies so this I believe. I am pretty, I am helpful, I am funny because you always laugh at my jokes. Why must I go?"
"You don't have to go. You can stay as long as you wish." He smiles, he hopes disarmingly, as he tries to embrace her again. She dodges him almost casually.
"I see how you look at me when you think I don't notice and I think you want me. Now you don't want me. Perhaps I play hard to get and string you up –"
"String me along, not up"
"And string you along, this you prefer?"
"No! Stay. Please. I want you to stay."
Sabine makes a big show of thinking this over and relenting. "Ok. I will stay… to take care of you."
"Shall I show you where everything is?"
"Everything is not on the floor?"
"Ouch! No, it just looks that way."
Daniel gave her a quick tour of the facilities, including both bedrooms. They ended up in the kitchen and he yawned as he suggested a nightcap.
"You are tired. I will put you to bed and bring you a nightcap." So saying and over his half-hearted protests she led him into the bathroom, sat him on the edge of the tub, stripped his sweater over his head, washed his face and brushed his teeth. All this he tolerated but when he stood up and expressed an urge for privacy, he had to move quickly to keep his pants on.
"Sabine, please. I can manage my pants" He is again acutely aware of his lack of underwear and doesn't want her to find out like this. Hell! He'd be happier if she didn't find out at all. Tomorrow he's just gonna have to struggle with them for modesty's sake.
"So shy." But she leaves him in the bathroom and he relaxes as he hears her in the kitchen.
In his bedroom, Sabine is turning down the duvet on his bed. He's used the few minutes of solitude to think of an excuse to sleep in his pants but never gets a chance to use it. This time he just ain't quick enough and before he knows it, his pants are a heap of cloth around his ankles. He sits on the bed quickly, doing his best to maintain some modesty but Sabine seems not to notice or care about his nakedness. She tugs on the jogging pants and he lifts his feet to allow her to remove them completely.
"Now in to bed." She lifts the edge of the duvet and gestures for him to swing his feet up and under it. At a loss for any other response he complies meekly. Once he's safely covered up, Sabine sits on the edge of the bed and offers him two painkillers.
"One 'll do." Daniel picks the tablet off her palm with his lips, swallowing it with a sip of milk. "We should have brought some straws." Sabine observes before taking a drink from the same glass. "Tomorrow I will get some for you."
Her ease with the situation assuages Daniel's embarrassment and his blushes fade. They share a few more sips of the milk then she leans down to kiss him full on the lips. "Gute nacht Opa."
"Goodnight." He watches her walk as far as the door. As she flicks the light switch off he says "Sabine"
"Sweet dreams. Opa."
Chapter 2 – Sabine takes him in hand.
Daniel slept well and his dreams were indeed sweet. Sabine looked really good in his sub-conscious.
He woke to the sound of the washing machine going into its shot-up spitfire spin cycle and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. A few minutes later Sabine pushed open his bedroom door and leant against the jamb with a steaming mug cradled in her hands.
"Guten morgen, Opa. I am sorry if the washing machine woke you? I did not know it would be so much noise."
"'S ok. Good morning to you too. Any more coffee in the pot?"
"Yah." Sabine disappears, returning with a mug in each hand. Daniel wiggles himself up the bed into an almost sitting position while Sabine, placing one mug on the bedside table, perches cross-legged on the edge of the bed and holds his coffee to his lips. He slurps a little noisily but it's hot. It occurs to him that one advantage of Sabine's job is that she knows just how he takes his caffeine.
"Mmm. Thank you. Better let it cool a little."
She exchanges his mug for her own and sips rather more daintily than he managed.
"Did you sleep ok? Have you been awake long?"
"Yah. I washed my uniform. I must go home later and get more to wear."
"My shirt suits you just fine." He's referring to one of his city boy shirts that Sabine has on. It's pink and, being one of the few with proper tails, fits her like a baggy dress, almost to her knees.
"I like wearing men's shirts. It is sexy. Yah?"
"Yes. Very. Sabine…"
"Mmm?" she sips more of her coffee.
"Thanks for doing all this. You've been a real friend." He feels horribly awkward and it doesn't come out sounding quite as he means it to.
"We are friends but not more I think."
"Not more?" Has he missed the boat, romantically speaking?
"First I think you are interested in me but you never ask me out so I ask Chris about you. He says you are always talking about me but you are shy. I think 'Ok, he is English so he is shy. He will move slowly.' But you don't move at all so now I think we are friends and that is good but…"
"Whoa! Slow down. I am interested in you. And, yes, I am shy…God this is embarrassing." He's blushing so much his face is starting to feel like his hands. "You're funny and kind and cute, even though you're as pushy as a panzer division. I just never found the right time to ask you… Oh hell. Sabine. I've never been good at this but would-"
"Yah." She smirks at his evident discomfort. "Yah. I will be your girlfriend and you will be my heroic boyfriend and all the other girls will be jealous and Chris will be happy because he says you need a woman in your life to stop you being so up tight."
"I surrender." He raises his bandaged hands in the universal gesture of capitulation. Sabine launches herself forward, hands landing on his bare chest and lips landing on his. He's been kissed by her before, only the previous night, but the only thing that had in common with this was the participants. He's just getting into it when it's over. Sabine sits up, reaching for his now lukewarm coffee and rummaging in the breast pocket of the shirt, withdrawing two of his painkillers.
"It is time for your medicine. Then you will have a shower." She pops the tablets in his mouth and he sips at the mug to wash them down.
Sabine hopped off the bed, yanked the duvet back below his knees, causing a modesty crisis but as fast as his hands shot down as a fig leaf, it was unnecessary as she'd not even appeared to notice his nakedness, turning away as the duvet moved and heading out the door as he covered himself.
Daniel swung his legs over the edge of the bed and sat up. He was just contemplating how to get his dressing gown off the hook on the door and onto him when Sabine returned with the waterproof bandage covers the hospital had supplied. Again, his mitts sprang to cover his embarrassment. Naked, crimson faced, stuttering and with hands pressed protectively over his crotch, he looked for all the world like a boy whose mother has just caught him wanking.
"I-I was just going to put something on." He stammers out a reflex explanation.
Sabine laughs like music. 'God she's cute' thinks Daniel and, not for the first time, his flaccid penis moves almost imperceptibly under his hands. 'Please God, no!' he almost screams inside his head. A hard-on now and he'll die of shame. Sabine's speaking.
"- these, yah?"
"You must wear these, yah?" she repeats, still smirking just a little at his shyness. It is rather sweet really, as long as he gets over it eventually.
"Yes." He raises one hand, still attempting some decency with the other. She slips the elastic neck of the bag over his bandages and up his forearm, almost to the elbow. He swaps hands, quick as a 1940's fan dancer and she slips on the second bag.
"Now you must shower." Her nose wrinkles a fraction, indicating that this assertion is more than just her emphatic Teutonic tone. He has to admit he's a bit whiffy. She leaves the room. Daniel stands, glances wistfully at his dressing gown and, giving in to common sense, walks past it, following Sabine toward the bathroom.
Toilet paper, already torn off, sits in a neat little pile on the side of the bath tub, the seat is up and Sabine is balanced with one tiptoed foot on the edge of the shower enclosure, stretching to reach the controls without getting wet in the process. Her other leg is stretched out for balance and it's this, and not her thoughtful preparations, that hold his attention. His gaze flows along her taut calf, up the exposed half of her thigh and fixes on the way his shirt tails curve over her bottom. It really is a very lovely bottom: so pert. His penis twitches again in response, snapping his attention away from Sabine's obvious charms. 'Cold showers. Cold showers. Cold showers…' he mentally repeats this mantra as he tries to still his beating heart before it pumps any more blood into his cock. It does little good though. His subconscious is playing the back nine at fantasyland with Sabine as caddy.
She finishes adjusting the shower, pecking him on the cheek as she squeezes past him in the narrow doorway. "I will shave you after your shower." She asserts as she leaves him alone in the bathroom.
"Th-Thanks." He stammers as her footsteps retreat toward the kitchen.
At last he relaxed a little. The toilet paper thing was really very thoughtful. As he sat there, musing over events since yesterday, he berated himself for his foolishness and shyness. Faint heart never won fair maiden and Sabine must be laughing like hell at his embarrassment. She'd acted like a professional nurse and hadn't overtly noticed his nakedness even once. If she could be so matter-of-fact about it, why couldn't he? Because he was English, that's why. With all the emotional baggage a boarding school education and a middleclass childhood could encumber a bloke with. And Sabine was German. He'd seen enough German porn films to realize they were quite a liberal bunch and while he wasn't naïve enough to believe all German girls behaved like that, in his recent masturbation fantasies, Sabine had been up for pretty much anything. That said, in his fantasies, he'd never imagined himself standing naked in front of her, blushing and clutching his wedding tackle while waiting for her to leave the room so he could take a dump. Even in the German porn industry, that wasn't a storyline that ended with hours of rampant passion on the bathroom floor.