Pairing: Brief Biggles/Algy, but it's mostly Bertie's story.
Summary: Written for serriadh, on the prompt of 'Bertie being a massive gayer'.
Warning: Severe cliche abuse.
The basement club was dimly lit and shrouded with drifting cigarette smoke.
Lord Bertie Lissie sat alone at a corner table, contemplating the sad state of affairs that was an empty martini glass and idly polishing his monocle. It was been a pleasant enough evening; a little conversation, a little music. The club had a rather - select - clientele, and coming here always gave him an enjoyable frisson.
Reluctantly deciding against another drink - it wouldn’t do to arrive home visibly tipsy after all - he got to his feet and went to collect his coat.
Outside, the bitter November air struck at his face, and he paused to wrap his muffler more tightly about his throat before lighting a cigarette. A movement in the shadows startled him, and he coughed sharply on inhaled smoke as the figures of two men appeared on either side of him.
"Good evening sir. Would you happen to have such a thing as a light?" asked the first, staring pointedly at the gold lighter still in Bertie's hand. The second man was eyeing equally pointedly the door Bertie had just emerged from, before exchanging a meaningful look with his companion that made Bertie distinctly uncomfortable.
"Oh I say. You chaps gave me quite the fright," babbled Bertie, trying to regain his equanimity. "Yes, of course, here you are." The first man leaned in and allowed Bertie to light the cigarette that had appeared in his hand.
"Most kind. Good evening." The man touched his hat and to Bertie's relief they both melted back into the shadows.
Bertie cleared his throat purposefully, and thrusting his hands into his pockets began walking back towards the flat he shared with his three companions. His conscience was pricking at him guiltily and he shook himself. He hadn't done anything wrong he reflected, ignoring the voice that pointed out quite rightly the scandalised reaction should his visits to that particular club become common knowledge.
As he turned into another street, a slight echo came back to his ears and he faltered. Was that another set of footsteps he'd heard?
"Imagining things old boy," he muttered to himself when a swift scan of the street came up empty. Nevertheless when he resumed walking his own step was rather quicker than it had been.
Thinking eagerly of a comfortable chair and a crackling fire, Bertie had almost completely forgotten his earlier unease when he stepped into the passage that served as a shortcut to the road where their flat was located.
It therefore came as a complete shock when he walked slap into a set of arms that first grasped him firmly and then shoved him violently backwards. On the brink of tripping right over, he was almost more alarmed to be seized by a second set of hands that saved him from falling, as this meant he had unseen assailants both in front and behind.
He struggled to free himself, thinking bitterly that it had been foolish to flash his expensive lighter so carelessly in the street.
"Unhand me at once, you - " he spluttered, angry still rather than afraid, anticipating a robbery at worst.
"Or you'll what?" The reply was rough and amused.
"Maybe he'll bend over for us in an aggressive manner," returned the second figure, and despite the darkness Bertie recognised the voice as belonging to the man who'd asked him for a light.
"Look," he tried to interject. "I haven't got much money on me - hardly any, didn’t even have enough left for a bally cab - just take the lighter if you must - "
There was low, unpleasant laughter. "We're not after your money, son," said one.
"Then what? Stop messin' about - "
The punch, coming as it did out of the darkness, took Bertie completely by surprise and he doubled over, wheezing.
"We're going to show you what we think of filthy pansies like you," threatened the first man who'd spoken. "We're going to make sure you're too scared to ever walk these streets again, with your disgusting, unnatural - " there was a pause, a breath, as the speaker drew back and prepared to land another punch.
Bertie's rather foppish demeanour was rather deceptive at the best of times however, and in the same space he struck out first, connecting with dimly visible features with a satisfying crunch.
There was a yell and a curse, but Bertie had barely managed a grim smile before his assailant yelled "Gut him!"
In an instant the bare flicker of light that reached into the alleyway glinted on sharp steel, and his blood ran cold.
"You're dead meat, pervert," promised the second man as they closed back in menacingly.
The shout that came from behind them in the gloom made all three jump - and Bertie's spirits rose immediately, for he alone recognised the voice.
"I don't know who you are mate, but walk away now. I've got a knife," snapped Bertie's aggressor.
"Yeah, well, I've got a gun," came Algy's reply and the two men stiffened immediately. Bertie was hoping they'd make a run for it, but after a hurried whispered conversation, the two men hurled themselves viciously at the airmen.
Seizing the wrist of his attacker, Bertie managed to pull him into the wall, the jarring impact of the knife hitting brickwork enough to make him drop it from numb fingers with a yelp, following it up with a punch to the kidneys that made the man follow it swiftly to the cobblestones.
A couple of feet away, Algy too had bested his man and he grabbed Bertie’s sleeve.
"For goodness sake, come on!" he urged, pulling Bertie away from the groaning men.
"Hang on, I've dropped my monocle," Bertie objected, scanning the wet ground hopelessly.
"Bother the monocle!" Algy cried and tugged harder until Bertie gave in and followed him at speed out of the passageway.
"Though you said you had a gun?" he panted as they ran down the street.
Fumbling for his door key, Algy grinned breathlessly. "I lied."
Once inside, Bertie disappeared hurriedly into the room he shared with Ginger, to fix his dishevelled appearance and to postpone any awkward questioning.
When he finally emerged, in fresh clothes and with a cautious manner, he found Algy settled opposite Biggles in chairs either side of the fire.
Bertie fiddled nervously with his watch-chain. "Er - about earlier. I mean to say - thanks old boy. For the - er - intervention, as it were. Not that it was necessary," he added hurriedly. "Situation perfectly under control."
"No it wasn’t," Algy couldn’t help smirking.
"Well - far be it from me to get involved in another chap's fight. So I held off till it looked like you really needed a hand."
Bertie's mouth opened and closed a few times like a goldfish, and he automatically reached up to polish his eyeglass nervously, before remembering that he'd lost it.
"Oh. You mean to say - you - ahem. You hear what those rotters were - "
Algy nodded apologetically, and Bertie winced.
"Right-ho. Well, I trust there's no need to go passing on spiteful and unfounded - "
Algy's apologetic look didn’t fade, and Bertie shot a dismayed look at Biggles, who hadn’t yet looked up from his paper.
"You've told him already, haven't you?" he sighed.
"Fraid so," Algy confessed.
Bertie nodded resignedly and sank down into a chair, feeling abruptly rather lightheaded.
"Very well. I - I'll pack at once, and be gone in the morning."
Algy looked startled, and Biggles looked up irritably.
"What the devil are you talking about man?"
Bertie frowned. Well - I - I mean to say you can’t want me to - after - " he took a breath. "I won’t deny it," he added in a rush, rather defiantly.
Biggles threw down his paper with a sigh. "I wasn’t aware anyone was accusing you of anything," he said mildly.
"But - " Bertie looked at Algy with a bewildered expression.
"No-one's asking you to leave," Algy confirmed softly.
"You're not - worried?" swallowed Bertie, still waiting for the other shoe to drop. "I mean - Ginger - "
Biggles fixed him with a sharp look. "Do you have any untoward intentions towards the lad?"
"No!" Bertie cried indignantly.
"Well, there you are then," replied Biggles, straight-faced. Algy hid a smile in his hand.
"Right. Um." Bertie got back to his feet, pausing in the doorway, still hardly able to take it in. "Thank you," he said, quietly.
Biggles, by now standing at the window, merely nodded. Algy smiled, and yawned. "Night Bertie."
Once Bertie had left the room, Algy rose and crossed to where Biggles was staring down at the street.
Biggles heaved a quiet sigh. "He'll be the ending of all of us if he's not more careful."
Algy sucked his lower lip thoughtfully. "Reckon he'll be a mite more careful after this."
"Even so - "
"So what?" Algy interrupted. "You'd throw him out?"
"You know I wouldn’t." Biggles abruptly pulled the thick drapes closed and turned to face him. "Besides, it would make me something of a hypocrite, as I'm sure you'd be the first to remind me."
"Hopefully the only one," Algy grinned, and slid his arms round Biggles' neck, pressing a kiss to his mouth before he could object.
Biggles fended him off irritably.
"You're as bad as that ass Lissie. Do you want to be discovered?"
Algy shrugged, unabashed. "I'll tell you what I want, shall I?" he murmured instead, placing his mouth close to Biggles' ear.
"Bromide?" retorted Biggles, acidly.
But when Algy retired some little time later, it wasn’t all that long before Biggles followed him to their room.