Harlequin's Slash Fic

Ted & Ralph: 05 The Fruit of Lightning

Title: Ted & Ralph: 05 The Fruit of Lightning
Author: Julien
Universe: Ted & Ralph (The Fast Show)
Characters featured: Ted/Ralph, and Jamie/Robert (Jamie is an original character)
Category, Word count: Short story; 3238 words
Rating: NC17
Summary: In which Ted and Ralph, and Jamie and Robert, work out their shared futures on the Mayhew estate.
First published: 22 April 2004 in Homosapien 7


The Fruit of Lightning


It had become quite a regular habit: Ted fucking his master’s thighs, working them both, trying to time it so that they finished together in a muddle of gasps and groans and semen. It felt both effortlessly familiar and perversely wonderful to Ted, and he knew he’d be happy doing this, just this and no more, for all the rest of his life. But he also knew that Ralph wasn’t satisfied.

It wasn’t that Ralph didn’t enjoy what they did. It wasn’t that he didn’t get as much pleasure from the act as Ted did. But that unbearably open face looking up at Ted had become a bit remote, a bit troubled. Ralph would shift beneath him, stretch and squirm, seeking something more. Wanting to be touched, wanting pressure, wanting friction in certain places. Seeking something more serious. And Ted knew what it was, right enough. That much was plain; he didn’t need to be told. Ralph wanted to be fucked, for real. Ralph wanted to be sodomised. And Ted just couldn’t quite bring himself to even contemplate performing the act. Ralph didn’t always know what was best for him, after all. Ralph couldn’t be trusted to look after himself properly. Ralph might be hurt. The very thought was enough to take all the wind out of Ted’s sails.

Which brought Ralph’s attention right back to him. The grieving mewling ceased, and Ralph’s eyes were focussed once more on the man above him rather than on some day–dream of what Ralph would rather they were doing together. ‘Ted …?’ Ralph whispered.

‘It’s all right, sor,’ Ted quietly replied. And he restarted the rhythm, and Ralph was looking right at him now, right at Ted or maybe even at Ted’s soul, and within a moment or two they were finishing and kissing and groaning, and everything was just fine.


He felt guilty about it, and he kept it a secret from Ralph, but every Wednesday morning Ted would head down to the cottage with its modern plumbing, in order to indulge in a long bath. He knew that the young master and Robbie knew about the intruder in their home, of course – though they were always off working on the estate or up in the big house by the time Ted showed up – but they kept quiet about it. The most notice they took was leaving a fresh towel out for him.

This morning, though, the two young men were still there, sitting snuggled close together at the kitchen table, giggling over something.

As Ted walked in, Robbie immediately pulled himself upright and sober. Jamie, though, just smiled happily up at Ted. Everything about the young master cried well–shagged, so it wasn’t difficult to figure out the reason for their late start. ‘Good morning, Ted,’ Jamie said.

‘Morning, young sor.’ He was about to turn around and head off again (at least for half an hour to allow them to leave for the day), when he caught sight of what the pair had been giggling over … Ted turned bright red.

‘Um, well, yes,’ said Jamie. ‘It arrived in the mail this morning.’

‘Esther’s subscription,’ Ted managed to stutter in explanation.

‘Of course, of course,’ Jamie replied, nodding vigorously.

‘Must get around to cancelling it.’

‘Of course, yes.’ But the young master was wise enough not to offer to do that for him. ‘Well, we should get going.’ Jamie nudged Robbie, who grabbed the nearest cups and plates, and put them in the sink. ‘Long day ahead.’ Robbie, who hadn’t met Ted’s gaze yet, nodded in his direction and headed out the back door. ‘See you at dinner, Ted.’

‘Yes, sor.’

And Jamie followed Robbie out. Alone at last, Ted sighed, and let the quiet return. There was a momentary interruption when Robbie poked his head back round the door to snag his boots, but then Ted was free to go run his bath.

For a moment, though, Ted looked around the kitchen. Various things were in the wrong places, and the breakfast leavings were still spread across the table. There was even a round mark in the varnish of the table, where someone had set down a hot mug of tea without a coaster. It was brought home to Ted all over again that Esther was gone. And never mind the kitchen – Ted knew that there was only another bath or two to be had from the very manly–scented bath salts he was used to. Esther had always bought them for him, and Ted would rather die than go ask for them at the chemist’s.

He sighed, and then shrugged. The melancholy didn’t leave him, but then maybe it never really would. He picked up Esther’s copy of Hello! magazine, and headed for the bathroom.


The four of them congregated in the kitchen, as usual, for dinner that night. Ralph had already started cooking, frowning over his tattered copy of Mrs Beeton’s solid cookbook. When Ted arrived, he made himself a pot of tea, and sat at the table to watch and offer comments on Ralph’s progress. Jamie turned up a short while later, scrubbed pink except for a dried dab of yellow paint on his chin; seeing Ralph’s lovingly indulgent glance at his cousin, Ted forbore to mention the oversight.

‘I finished the second coat, Ralph,’ Jamie happily announced. ‘We’ll be able to move the furniture in tomorrow.’

‘Excellent,’ Ralph replied. ‘Though I’m still in two minds about whether that dresser really belongs in a drawing room.’

‘It’s a beautiful piece, and the punters won’t realise.’

‘Even so …’ Ralph didn’t seem to have it in him to underestimate the tourists who visited the house. ‘We owe it to the National Trust to get it right. If they feature the house the way they promised, it will be the making of us …’ Ralph and Jamie both crossed their fingers and exchanged grimaces, not wanting to frighten their luck away.

Robbie was the last to arrive. He had always been a quiet young man, but he seemed particularly thoughtful this evening. Absently he pressed his usual kiss to Jamie’s unruly mop of hair, and then he sat at the table, having completely forgotten to fetch his usual bottle of beer.

‘What is it?’ Jamie asked. As the silence stretched, he prompted, ‘Robbie?’

The young man reached into the old canvas bag from which he often produced home–grown fruit and vegetables. This time he produced a round black object, about the size of an orange and covered in coarse bumps, which he carefully placed on the table.

‘What is it?’ Jamie asked again, sounding puzzled. ‘Some kind of pine cone?’

When Ted glanced at Ralph, he saw that the master knew well enough, for Ralph was gaping in surprise. Eventually Ralph replied, ‘No, it’s a truffle, Jamie. A whole English truffle! Where did you find it, Robbie? It must have cost you a fortune.’

‘Oh, no, sor,’ Robbie said. ‘Found it in your beech woods, sor.’

Ralph laughed in delight. ‘Good heavens! What a treat! I’ll have to look up a suitable recipe for our dinner tomorrow – and I mustn’t mess this one up. We really will dine in style!’

Robbie glanced at Ted, and then leaned forward to catch the master’s attention. ‘Sor, I was thinking. Where there’s one, there must be more.’

Ralph looked at him, looked at Ted; looked back at the exotic truffle sitting there on the ordinary old kitchen table. And Ralph promptly sat down. He opened his mouth, but couldn’t manage to form any words.

Jamie went to stand by him, put a comforting arm around his shoulder. ‘I don’t understand,’ he said, looking at the two groundsmen. ‘What’s the excitement?’

It was Ted who explained. ‘Truffles, young sor – they’re rare. Rarer than hen’s teeth, and worth more than their own weight in gold, sor.’

‘Good grief,’ Jamie said. And he abruptly sat down beside his cousin.


Ted and Ralph had formed another regular habit, which they often indulged late at night in the privacy of their own bedroom: Ralph read aloud to Ted, while Ted lay beside him trying and failing not to drop off to sleep. It wasn’t that Ted didn’t appreciate this habit, but he found his master’s contented voice absurdly soothing, and after a long day’s work it was perhaps inevitable that he slipped into a doze at even the slightest provocation.

‘I must read you this bit again,’ Ralph said that night as they lay close together in the enormous bed. ‘It’s so thrilling! But I’m afraid you won’t have heard it last night, what with all the snoring.’

‘Sorry, sor,’ Ted said for form’s sake.

Ralph pressed a kiss to his forehead, and riffled back through the book to find the place. ‘Here we are,’ he announced. ‘You remember that the hobbits reached Rivendell safely, and Frodo was healed by Elrond?’

‘Yes, sor.’

‘Well, Frodo gets out of bed for the first time. And … At that moment there was a knock on the door, and Sam came in. He ran to Frodo and took his left hand, awkwardly and shyly. He stroked it gently and then he blushed and turned hastily away.

“Hullo, Sam!” said Frodo.

“It’s warm!” said Sam. “Meaning your hand, Mr Frodo. It has felt so cold through the long nights. But glory and trumpets!” he cried, turning round again with shining eyes and dancing on the floor. “It’s fine to see you up and yourself again, sir!”’ Ralph sighed happily, and looked at his lover. ‘There, Ted! What do you think of that? Isn’t it wonderful?’

Ted pondered this for a moment. ‘When you said thrilling, sor, I thought there were at least a battle with them Black Riders.’

‘Oh, no! No, no, no. Listen to this: “Elves, sir!” said Sam. “Elves here, and Elves there! Some like kings, terrible and splendid; and some as merry as children.” You remember that Sam always loved the thought of elves, Ted. “And the music and the singing – not that I have had the time or the heart for much listening since we got here. But I’m getting to know some of the ways of the place.”

“I know what you have been doing, Sam,” said Frodo, taking his arm. “But you shall be merry tonight, and listen to your heart’s content. Come on, guide me round the corners!”’ Ralph closed the book and looked at Ted triumphantly.

Ted couldn’t resist continuing the obtuse act. ‘It is wonderful, sor, that Sam should finally meet some elves, and listen to their songs.’

‘Oh, Ted! How can you not see that it’s the love between them that I find so thrilling …? How can you possibly miss the fact that …’ Ralph trailed off and cast a suspicious glance at Ted. ‘How can you miss it, indeed?’ he added in severe tones. ‘You knew perfectly well what I meant!’

‘Yes, sor.’ Ted was grinning. ‘Sorry, sor.’

‘You are not sorry, you mischievous creature!’ But now Ralph was grinning, too. ‘You really are quite wicked, Ted,’ he murmured complacently, snuggling down a little further into Ted’s arms. ‘Quite deliciously wicked.’

‘Yes, sor,’ Ted responded, gathering Ralph even closer, and then reaching out to turn off the bedside light. ‘Come on,’ he murmured in the blessed darkness. ‘Come here, Mr Frodo, sor …’

Ralph gasped in shocked delight. ‘Sam?’

‘And who else would it be, Mr Frodo, sor?’

‘No one else, Sam,’ the young master fiercely avowed. ‘Not anyone else in all of Middle–earth.’ And he surrendered.


When Jamie walked into the kitchen the following afternoon, Ralph was already there, heartily singing away and apparently cooking up a storm. ‘Because your kisses lift me higher / Like the sweet song of a choir / You light my morning sky / With burning love …’

‘Hello, Ralph.’

‘Hello, Jamie!’ Ralph was fairly glowing with happiness. ‘I hope you’ll be hungry!’

‘For dinner? I’m sure we’ll all do you justice. What are you making?’

‘Well, I finally settled on poached egg with truffles and polenta, which is meant to be a starter, but I thought it sounded perfect – and perfectly filling! – as a main with a side dish of buttered asparagus, and then I thought –’

Jamie looked up to see why Ralph had broken off, and wasn’t surprised to find his cousin standing there beaming at the newly–arrived Ted. The groundsman was casting a doubtful look at all Ralph’s elaborate preparations, from the weighty Larousse Gastronomique to the several saucepans steaming or bubbling away on the range to the various ingredients spread about the table.

‘That’s like what Nigella made the other day,’ Ted observed, ‘but it only took her ten minutes. And she didn’t get flour all over herself in the process.’

‘Hello, Ted,’ Ralph murmured, positively incandescent by now.

‘It turned out just fine for her.’

‘I hope this will, too,’ Ralph said humbly.

‘Used to tell me you could only cook pop tarts,’ Ted continued with a touch of severity. ‘And you weren’t such a dab hand at them, neither.’ He was standing very close to Ralph now.

‘I didn’t have you to cook for back then,’ Ralph countered, ‘so there wasn’t any point in doing more.’

‘Well … who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, eh?’ And Ted grinned at his lover, and leaned in even closer with the obvious intention of kissing him. Jamie gaped, having never before seen Ted being at all demonstrative. A blushing Ralph ducked his head at the last moment, and let the kiss land on his floury temple.

Jamie laughed. His cousin was so damned cute when he was flustered.


For once the four of them ate in the dining room, but they sat on either side of the middle of the long table rather than at each end. Ralph had raided his wine cellar in between his culinary endeavours, and the results were superb.

‘Fit for a king, sor,’ Ted declared once they were all done.

Jamie lifted a glass of wine to Ralph in salute, and Robbie muttered, ‘That’s right, sor.’

‘Oh, it was nothing,’ Ralph replied. ‘Our thanks should go to Robbie for finding the truffle in the first place.’

Robbie cleared his throat. ‘I was thinking, sor, how to go about finding more. With your permission, if I could train one of the dogs to sniff them out, that might be best, sor. Otherwise, it might be digging around, trial and error and making a mess of the woods.’

‘Of course, of course, whatever you need.’

‘And if there are records, sor,’ Ted added, ‘from your great–grandmother’s time; she would have kept records of what she did in the gardens and park and the fields, but your father never liked me asking about them.’

‘No …’ Ralph said with a frown. ‘No, I don’t imagine that he did. Well, we shall have to hunt through the attic, Ted. If he didn’t destroy them, they’re probably put away up there somewhere, gathering dust.’

Robbie leaned in closer. ‘Were you thinking that she seeded the truffles among the beeches, Ted?’

‘Perhaps. Or they could be occurring naturally, I don’t know.’

‘Worth their weight in gold,’ Jamie said, shaking his head. ‘I think Robbie’s already done wonders with selling our excess produce, but this is a whole new ballgame!’

‘I found a wonderful recipe today,’ Ralph said, ‘for pheasant poached in white wine and truffles. There are three different restaurants in Winslow that might serve that kind of dish – and it could all be made from local produce, now, except for the wine!’

‘The French will be coming over here to eat!’

Ted joined in the laughter, though he felt that a French invasion was taking things a little too far.

Ralph fetched a chilled bottle of champagne, and four flutes. And they stood for the toast. ‘To the future,’ the master proposed. ‘To our future together; may it be bright and rich in all kinds of ways.’

‘Our future together,’ the other three echoed. The glasses chimed and the champagne was quaffed, and a good time was had by all.


When next Ted sneaked down to the cottage for his Wednesday morning bath, he was flummoxed to discover not only one new bottle but a whole row of new bottles of his favourite manly–scented bath salts lined up on the window sill. ‘Well, I never,’ he muttered to himself, shaking his head. He had young master Jamie to thank, he was sure of it. The Mayhew family had been a mixed bag over recent generations, to say the least, but the two that Ted worked for now were the best of them, no question about it.

He ran a hot bath, and clambered in to soak up the luxury of proper plumbing while reading his copy of Hello! magazine.

Afterwards, Ted was never entirely sure where the idea came from. There had been a reflection or two about how he didn’t feel quite so melancholy any more. There had been gratitude for Ralph’s willingness to be pleased by him, even though Ted baulked at what Ralph most wanted. There had been an interesting article in Hello! about that Rupert Everett chap. And at some stage it occurred to Ted that he had no real way of judging whether or not Ralph might be hurt by what he wanted, because Ted had never actually even touched himself there without the barrier of soap or paper.

He put the magazine aside, slid down further into the fragrant heat, and looked doggedly away while one hand delved into the water. He let a fingertip land where it would. Explored a little. It seemed that all was as tender and as sensitive there as anywhere nearby. He delved further, carefully pressed inside; was welcomed. Glanced down in surprise to see his old fellow towering out of the water and into the cooler air …

Well, that answered that, didn’t it?


Ralph was on his knees searching through a trunk in the attic, looking for any kind of records to do with gardening, when Ted silently appeared beside him. ‘Hello, Ted! No luck yet, I’m afraid.’

‘No, sor. But if you have a bit of time to spare …’

‘I’ve barely even started, and so far it’s been all trash and hardly any treasure.’

Ted cleared his throat, tried not to blush. ‘There might be something else you’re wanting, to be found down in the bedroom, sor.’

Ralph paused, and sat back on his heels. Looked up at Ted, not daring to anticipate anything specific. Simply getting lucky with this man was far more than he’d ever counted on being blessed with, anyway.

A moment later, all was made clear when Ted reached into his coat pocket, then firmly placed a jar of vaseline on the trunk next to Ralph.

‘Oh!’ Ralph stared at it; stared at his lover. ‘Oh, Ted … What changed your mind?’

‘Well, a bit of snug for a bit of stiff … Can’t ask for more than that, can I, sor?’

‘If ever you can, I’m sure the answer will be yes.’

‘That’s what I’m saying now, sor. Yes.’

‘Yes,’ Ralph happily echoed. And he scooped up the jar in one hand, and Ted’s hand with the other, and led the man down to their bedroom.

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