Meeting of Minds


Second in a series, following One in Every Port and followed by Old Habits Die Hard, both by Dorcas Gustine

Sam Tyler was not gay.

He had no problem with the concept. This wasn't some kind of protest-too-much denial of the kind he suspected in his DCI from time to time. In fact, some of his best friends--well, if he had best friends, some of them would almost certainly be homosexual.

But he, himself, was most assuredly not gay.

Oh, he'd experimented in his youth--who hadn't? That's what being young was for. And he'd never been the type to go wild, just the odd shared spliff-induced fumblings behind (even in 1973 he expected it was a cliché) the bike sheds. Enjoyable enough, certainly. Well, bloody fantastic if he was going to be completely honest about it. But then he'd discovered the joys of receptive adventurous girls, and hadn't looked back. In any case, it was for the best--even in the supposedly enlightened 21st century, life wasn't easy for a copper who was also a poof.

So, he'd gone straight. And he'd never looked back.

Well, OK, there were moments, up against a wall or a filing cabinet, sharing the same whisky-tinted air with DCI Hunt, when he would feel a thrill that was separate from the anger or frustration that had led to the latest confrontation. Sometimes, with Gene, the excitement of the forbidden loomed large between them, and he imagined closing the inches-wide gap between their snarling lips and bared teeth. But he tried not to think about that too much.

And then there was Bodie. Or had been, for one brief incredible night. It hadn't ended well, to say the least. It had taken a very long time to live down the ignominy of having to be rescued from his own bed, naked and bound, having been stitched up by a suspect for the second time. Gene still gleefully teased him about it if they were unlucky enough to pull in an attractive man for questioning. "Shall we do it here then, Tyler, or would you rather adjourn to your place?" He hadn't told the others, though, as he had with Joni. Something of a surprise, more of a relief. Sam could just imagine what Ray would have made of it.

All this flashed through his mind as he lay, shattered and bemused, on the floor of his flat, coming down from an orgasmic high. Having just been pleasured to within an inch of his life by a man he'd met barely twenty-four hours earlier. And one of the most masculine men he'd ever seen, at that.

His thoughts drifted back to the previous morning. Sam had been at his desk, working his way through a second cup of barely drinkable almost-coffee from the machine, half-heartedly transcribing an interview he had on tape. The door to Gene's office was firmly shut, had been since before Sam had arrived, and the blinds were drawn. Sam couldn't summon up the energy to be intrigued by this, despite a procession of CID's finest bombarding him with questions. "Oy, boss, what's going on in there then?" Probably Gene sleeping it off. Sam was grateful for the peace.

The office door crashed open, and Sam raised his head, switching off the tape machine. He noticed immediately and with surprise that Gene appeared refreshed, alert, clean-shaven and all business. Found time for a moment of grudging admiration--he never quite understood how the Guv could achieve this transformation a few very short hours after being all but flat on his back in the bar of the Railway Arms. He himself, having been there till the bitter end, was fighting to keep his eyes open, and was confident that his appearance resembled one of the living dead.

"Right, you lot, listen up," Gene said, slightly louder than was strictly necessary, knowing full well that everyone had been listening from the moment the door opened. DCI Hunt tended to inspire that reaction. "Remember that scrote we pulled in from the drugs bust last Friday? Well, out of the goodness of his heart, he saw fit to bring to our attention that there's a trade route operating from East London onto our patch. Pretty much anything your little heart desires--weed, speed, or--what did you call it, Gladys? Scag? Being distributed out of some warehouse down there in the centre of the universe, and bussed up here to the address we knocked off in the raid, along with a number of others."

Sam had shaken off his lethargy and was listening intently. This much, he already knew. He'd been present at the interview--the 'scrote' in question, a dealer, was a very small fish indeed, barely out of his teens, and had been completely unequipped to deal with the whirlwind of arrogance and aggression that was Gene Hunt in interview mode. Ten minutes in, he'd have given up his own mother if it meant getting out of the Lost Property room in once piece. Come to think of it, he had. Along with a great deal more information.

"So anyway," Gene continued, "I've been on the blower to our esteemed colleagues in the Met." A predictable boo from a few of the listening officers, led inevitably by Ray Carling. Gene held up a hand. "All right, shut it. Actually, they've been extremely co-operative. Apparently they've been on the trail of this distribution team for a while. They seem to think that working together would be the best way to nab these druggie bastards.

Sam beamed, attracting a glower from the Guv. Inter-agency co-operation. Finally, something he could recognise as modern-day policing methods. And he hadn't even had to fight for it.

"So," Gene ploughed on. "The Met have sent us one of their finest, to shower us with the benefit of his wisdom and experience. Gentlemen, Cartwright, this is Detective Constable Ray Doyle."

Sam glanced over Gene's shoulder at the office door, watching along with the rest of the crew as the new DC emerged. Bloody hell. He gaped, transfixed, feeling his jaw drop open but powerless to do anything about it. He'd always been mildly grateful that his subconscious (if that's what it was) had provided him with an image that was passably cool--OK, the shirts wouldn't have been top of his Christmas list, but it could have been so much worse. It could have been tank tops.

But Doyle was something else again. Scruffy, jeans tight and faded, the blue clashing with the green of the T-shirt, all rounded off with a black and red bomber jacket, he still managed inexplicably to look as if he'd just stepped off a catwalk. He had an ethereal, almost feline, quality to him--a quality enhanced by a pair of intense, slightly crooked green eyes, which had made a sweep of the room and had now just locked with his own. Sam had to remind himself to breathe.

"Hello." Doyle spoke directly to Sam, his accent unplaceable but not London. A rumbled chorus of greeting from around the office covered Sam's silence, although a quirk of the expressive mouth made it clear that the reaction hadn't gone un-noticed. Gene, too, seemed aware of the exchange, gazing steadily between the two men, blue eyes unfathomable. Sam, knowing his DCI very well, looked away hurriedly.

Gene performed a few cursory introductions, finishing with, "Anyway, I'm sure you'll all get to know each other. Right then, time to get some use out of this bright young thing. I'm going to need someone to go through the files we've got on this operation. Doyle's going to see if he can pick out any names that are familiar to him."

Sam found his voice. "I'll do it," he said too quickly. He felt the eyes of the entire room burn into him. Damn. "I want to make sure it's done right," he added. Well, that remark wasn't going to win him any friends. With luck, though, he'd have covered his eagerness. Looking up at Doyle, he encountered a spark of amused interest, and knew that he, for one, wasn't fooled.

Gene, however, seemed unaware of any undertones. "That's our Gladys," he remarked to Doyle. "Picky bloody pain. Born to research, he was. Never happier than when he's trawling his way through a pile of paperwork." He switched his attention to Sam. "Fine, then. I'll leave our guest in your more than capable hands. I'm sure you'll be able to make him feel right at home."

Oh okay. Maybe not so oblivious then. Sam mustered all the dignity he could manage, standing and offering his hand to the young DC who clasped it with a firm grip. "Er--great. Good. Good to have you on board. Let's get down to it, shall we?"

"Sounds good," Doyle answered, openly grinning. "You got any coffee? I could murder one."

"Well," honesty compelled him to admit, "we've got a machine with a button marked coffee. That's about as close as it gets."

Doyle snorted. "Listen, mate--sorry, sir - can't be any worse than ours. Some of the lads have taken to just scooping up cupfuls of water out of the Thames. Tastier and better for you."

Sam smiled, relaxing fractionally. "Sam's fine. OK then, let's get this party started." In step with each other, they headed off towards the coffee machine and the collator's office.

Hours later, the two were tired, dusty, thoroughly fed up, and apparently very little nearer a result. Sam sprawled in the one chair the office held, sorting half-heartedly through a file of notes from stakeouts on the address, underlining names as they came up. Half-closing his gritty eyes, he rolled his neck to try and ease out some of the kinks built up by sitting too long. His glance fell on Doyle, and he paused, his attention fully captured.

The DC was sitting, cross-legged, on the floor, jacket discarded in an untidy heap next to him, curls tousled from a day of abstracted fingers combing through them. He was chewing absently on a fingernail, thoroughly focused on the file he was holding. Sam was mesmerised--he just couldn't tear his eyes away. Doyle had a kind of otherworldly, artistic quality that contrasted sharply with the angular masculinity of his features. Sam felt his pulse quicken. Told himself sternly to get a grip.

Perhaps feeling the intensity of the regard, Doyle looked up suddenly, capturing Sam's gaze before he had a chance to look away. Sam bit his lip, his own expression unconsciously wary as he tried to figure out what he might have given away. He cleared his throat. "You got anything?"

Doyle smiled, a glint of mischief appearing in the startling green eyes. "Looks like I might have, doesn't it?" he answered, uncurling himself from the floor and strolling oh-so-casually towards Sam, who was forcibly reminded of a lion stalking its prey. He moved in behind Sam's chair, leaning in close to look over his shoulder. The whisper of warm breath on his cheek made Sam's scalp prickle. "What's this, then?"

Sam aimed for nonchalant professionalism, staunchly resisting the sudden inability to concentrate and the powerful urge to reach up and toy with the curls now brushing his temple. "It's the records of observations carried out over the last two weeks. I've picked out any likely-looking names. Anything look familiar to you?"

"Here, let's have a look," Doyle answered, reaching an arm over Sam's shoulder to flick through the pages, their heads bent close together. A sudden thought occurred to Sam, and he turned his head towards his new colleague. "Hey--you don't...?"

The sentence fizzled and died. In turning, Sam had brought their faces so close together that their breath mingled, the warm bitter aftertaste of too much coffee passing back and forth between them. Their eyes met, Sam reading in Doyle's intense gaze a mirror of the anticipation and tension he himself was feeling. Very gently, Doyle lifted his hand, traced a finger along Sam's cheek. Sam flinched violently, the forgotten file dropping from his lap, papers and photos cascading down onto the dusty floor.

"Shit," Sam hissed, and Doyle chuckled softly. Both men reached down to rescue the scattered papers, Sam slipping from the chair, Doyle collecting and tidying the photos. "Hang on," the DC said suddenly.

Sam responded immediately to the alertness of the tone. "What?"

"This one here." Doyle held out one of the photos, less blurry than most. A dark-haired man, well-dressed but unmistakably tough, had paused at the entrance to the house, turning back, maybe to assess whether he was being watched. As a result, the photo had captured his face clearly. "I know this bloke. You got a name there?"

Sam rifled hastily through the jumble of papers, scanning the information. "No. Just 'unidentified male, late 30s'."

"Not surprised. He's a slippery bastard. Most unlike him to let himself be photographed. This is Gordon Layton. We've had an eye on him for ages now, but he's hard to pin down. We're pretty sure he's one of the key players in this operation. If he's coming here in person, this must be big."

"OK then," Sam said, all business now. "According to this, he turned up three days ago. I'm pretty sure--hang on..." He sorted through the pile of discarded folders on the floor near where Doyle had been sitting. Drew out a file, flipped through it, withdrawing a single sheet. "Thought so. This is the address of a pretty minor dealer, well known locally. We staked it out for a bit on the off chance, but nothing much happened. Except..." He pointed to an underlined entry. "There's a record here of a similar man entering the premises later the same day. Again, no name, but the description fits."

"Right." Decisively, Doyle got up, headed towards the door. Turned questioningly back towards Sam. "You coming, or what?"

"Coming where?"

"Your local dealer's gaff. Layton can't go back to the address you raided, but he could have holed up here. Fancy a look?"

"Fair enough. We'd better bring the Guv up to speed first, though. We could need back-up."

Doyle looked slightly exasperated. "Look Sam, I don't know what it's like up here in the sticks, but where I'm from the top brass wouldn't look kindly on turning out based on nothing more than a hunch. I say we take a look at the place ourselves first, see what's going on, then talk to DCI Hunt about going in mob-handed. How does that grab you? Sir."

Sam laughed. "You don't know the Guv. 'Hunch' is his middle name.'re probably right. It might be best to have some concrete evidence if we're going to pull him away from his darts. OK, we'll take a look. We'll book out weapons first, though. You firearms trained?"

"Yeah." Was that a smirk? Oh God, what was it with 70s cops and guns? "I've done a bit."

"Fine then," Sam snapped. "Let's go."

The drive was conducted more or less in silence. A heavy awareness hung between them in the confinement of the car, a sense of unfinished business, but neither was willing to bring it out into the open. There'd been a moment, a shared glance over the car roof as they got in, Doyle's eyes smoky with a smouldering promise that made Sam's skin tingle. A pause, the faintest of nods signalling a mutual unspoken agreement to leave this till later.

They pulled up outside a row of terraced houses, close enough to the target address to give a clear view, hopefully far enough away not to arouse suspicion. The road sloped downwards towards a factory complex, the chimneys silhouetted deep black against the brilliant reds and golds of the evening sky. "Manchester at sunset..." murmured Doyle. Sam regarded him thoughtfully. There was something undefinably different about Ray Doyle, something that set him apart and reminded Sam of 2006. Maybe that was the attraction.

They sat in peaceful quiet as the sun went down and lights clicked on in houses and streetlamps. Sam nudged Doyle as a figure appeared at the window of the target house, pulling the curtains closed. "That's our boy. Davey Parker." Doyle nodded, peered into the gloom, committing the face to memory.

Twenty minutes later, the darkness was gathering, nothing was happening, and Sam was privately beginning to think about calling it a day. Doyle rummaged around in a jacket pocket, drawing out a crumpled paper bag and offering it to Sam.

"What's that?"

"Chocolate fudge. Want some?"

"God, no!" Sam's reaction was instinctive. Clearly Doyle wasn't so different after all. The amount of rubbish coppers seemed to get through on stakeouts.

"All right, fair enough. Only asking." Sam had never seen anyone chew sulkily before.

"No, it's--thanks, really, I just don't--hang on." Sam reached into the back seat, feeling around in the dark, triumphantly holding up a bag of grapes. "Here we go. If I've got to sit around doing nothing, might as well get something beneficial out of it. Most of the lads on the squad are walking heart attacks." He popped a handful of grapes into his mouth, grinning as he chewed.

Doyle's eyebrows raised as he gazed at Sam. He reached out, his thumb brushing the corner of Sam's mouth, wiping away a stray drop of juice. Sam's heart stopped. Doyle smirked openly, enjoying the effect he was having. "You know, you might have a point there," he said, stashing the chocolate back in his jacket. "Any of those spare?"

As Sam wordlessly offered the bag, his attention was caught by movement outside. He glanced at the house, letting out a sudden exclamation that made Doyle turn sharply in his seat. "That's him!"

The front door had opened, and Layton came out, pausing momentarily to speak to someone hidden in the house, before heading off down the hill. Doyle flung open the door. "Right. Come on."

"Wait! Let's radio in for back-up." Sam rolled his eyes as he realised he was speaking to Doyle's rapidly disappearing back. He opened his own door, simultaneously fishing out his RT. "870 to base. Back-up required--870. Base? Can you hear me?" Cursing the static burst that was his only response, he flung down his radio impatiently and took off in pursuit of Doyle.

He saw Layton turn at the sound of the footsteps pounding towards him. Saw him take in Doyle's rapid approach. Layton turned away, hared off down the hill towards the factory, Doyle picking up his pace to pursue. Sam, used to being by far the fittest and fastest person around, was forced to push himself to try and catch up on the head start of the other two.

He skidded round the corner at the bottom of the road, just in time to see Layton disappearing through the open gate into what looked like the delivery yard of the factory. Doyle didn't hesitate, pelting through after him. His lungs starting to ache, Sam dashed across the thankfully empty road, pulling up fast just short of the gate as he heard a shout from beyond--"Drop it! Now!"

It wasn't Doyle's voice.

Sam flattened himself against the cool brick, craning his neck to peer cautiously through the gateway. His stomach lurched unpleasantly at the situation confronting him. By the looks of things, Layton had hidden just inside the gate, ambushing Doyle as he careered into the yard. Now Doyle was down on one knee, Layton's gun trained with lethal precision at his forehead, his own weapon discarded a few feet away. As Sam watched, he heard the dry metallic click of Layton's gun being cocked, and knew he was about to shoot.

The sound galvanised Sam. Stepping out of cover, he aimed his own gun at the back of Layton's head. "Lower your weapon, Mr Layton." His voice was soft, deadly. Layton, however, was unimpressed.

"Piss off, copper, or your mate gets it."

Right. Clearly talking wasn't going to do the trick. Sam's gaze locked with Doyle's; he inclined his head to one side and was pleased to see Doyle's eyes flicker in understanding. He took a deep breath, shifted his aim slightly...

"DOWN!" he roared, and Doyle dived sideways, flattening himself against the oily concrete as a bullet thudded into the ground heart-stoppingly close to him. Simultaneously, Sam fired, the double explosion making his ears ring. Layton dropped like a stone, cursing through gritted teeth and clutching his right arm, his gun clattering to the floor. San exhaled sharply, shoulders slumping as the threat passed.

His relief, it turned out, was premature. As Sam glanced over to check on Doyle, now picking himself up and glaring irritably at the oil stain on his jeans, Layton made a lunging dive for his abandoned gun. The pair reacted instantly and in a pleasing kind of harmony, Doyle leaping across to kick the gun well out of reach, Sam throwing himself on top of Layton, pinning him to the floor, pulling his arms roughly behind him and reaching for his handcuffs. "That's enough!" he gasped, as Layton continued to struggle. "Gordon Layton, you are under arrest for assaulting a police officer, threats to kill, and on suspicion of supplying class A controlled substances. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence..."

Finally getting his quarry safely secured, he glanced up at Doyle, who was watching quizzically and seemed on the point of saying something. Sam glared.

"...if you do not mention when questioned something you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be used as evidence. Does anyone have a problem with that?"

Doyle shrugged. "Listen, mate, you say what you like. We've got this bastard, that's the main thing. You got a problem, Layton?"

Layton's visible eye glowered up at him. "Piss off."

"I'll take that as a no then." Doyle moved over to help Sam haul the prisoner into an upright position. There was a pause as their eyes met behind Layton's head. "Thanks, yeah?" Doyle said softly.

Sam nodded. "Yeah."

They signed Layton into the station for the night, Sam taking care of the custody records while Doyle completed the transfer papers--Layton would be escorted down to London for questioning the next day. Sam had a feeling Gene wasn't going to like that development, but Doyle was adamant. "Look, we've been on the trail of this bloke for months. We're not going to give him up to a bunch of woodentops that've just fallen over him by accident. No offence."

"None taken," Sam answered casually. "Might be best if we avoid the pub then. Unless you're looking for a fight."

"No." Doyle spoke flatly, his tone noticeably husky. "That's not what I'm looking for."

Sam glanced sharply at him, swallowing involuntarily as the heat blazing from the young DC threatened to scorch him. No more messing about, then, no more hints and tantalising glances. This was it.

For the briefest of moments a thrill of fear shot through him, and he seriously wondered about the wisdom of taking this man on. But his own skin was buzzing, his nerves jangling after the tension of the day, his mind cloudy and reckless.

"My place." It wasn't a question. Doyle nodded once, curtly, falling into step with Sam as he headed back towards the car.

Sam was acutely aware of the presence close behind him as he fumbled with his keys, finally getting the right one in the lock and pushing open the door to his flat. He took a step forward into the gloom, turning slightly with the intention of inviting Doyle in. Doyle, however, wasn't waiting for an invitation. He grabbed Sam by the shoulders, fingers digging in hard enough for Sam to cover a wince, pulling him round to slam jarringly against the wall, moving in on him until their bodies were pressed together.

There was a beat where nothing happened at all, the two men standing close enough to share ragged breaths, eyes locked in something that may or may not have been a question, a last chance to turn back. But Sam had made his decision back at the station, and in all honesty the decision had been made for him the moment Doyle had stepped out of Gene's office. Without hesitation he brought his head forwards, closing the already narrow gap between them to brush his lips with shocking lightness over Doyle's half-open mouth.

A primal noise, nebulously balanced somewhere between a groan and a snarl, forced itself from Doyle, and he increased the pressure, his tongue demanding access, teeth nibbling at Sam's lips as his hands moved lower, gripping Sam's upper arms and holding him immobile. Sam's eyes closed, his head fell back, exposing a length of throat which Doyle latched onto instantly, tongue tracing up and along the jugular vein to swirl in circles around what was, Sam suddenly discovered, an incredibly sensitive spot just below his ear. "Shit," he gasped, prompting an earthy chuckle from Doyle that had an immediate effect on his already interested groin.

The pressure on his arms eased, and he moved his hands round to cup Doyle's arse, stroking upwards to the waistband of his jeans. Tried, unsuccessfully, to push one hand inside. Christ, those jeans really were as tight as they looked. Giving up the struggle, he turned his attention to the buckle on Doyle's belt, unfastening zip and button, stroking his way inside to take a firm grasp of Doyle's erection.

A spark of mischief lit within Sam as he watched clouds of desire form within the depths of the eyes so close to his. He brushed his thumb lightly over the moist, leaking tip, taking a heady pleasure from the power as, with a sharp intake of breath, Doyle arched into him, trapping his hand between them. Sam began to stroke firmly up and down, the proximity of their bodies pushing his forearm along his own tender cock.

Doyle's breathing hitched, became more rapid and shallow, whimpers escaping occasionally from between clenched teeth, the dazzling green eyes now squeezed shut. Sam increased the tempo, licking dry lips as the friction began to tell on him too. His mouth descended on Doyle's, his free hand coming up to tangle itself in the mass of curls, holding Doyle in place as he twisted instinctively, trying to gulp in the oxygen his body was craving.

The two men panted and gasped, Doyle mumbling incoherently into Sam's mouth, heat suffusing Sam as he sensed Doyle approaching climax and felt the beginnings of a deep ache within himself. The pace became frenetic, Sam squeezing and stroking, feeling Doyle's limbs start to twitch violently, until, with a low throaty scream, he came, pulsing in torrents over Sam's shaking hand. He brought his arm gently round Doyle's heaving shoulders, sliding to the floor along with him, pulling his head back to revel in the beautiful sight of Doyle, red-faced and tousled, eyes still closed, a thin sheen of sweat glowing in the moonlight streaming through the uncurtained window. Unable to resist the temptation, he placed the gentlest of kisses on Doyle's parted lips, before standing and moving away.

He didn't get far. He'd have laid good money on Doyle being too incapacitated for any immediate action, but he obviously underestimated the man's stamina. He heard absolutely nothing from behind him, the first hint of Doyle's approach coming when Sam found himself slamming face first down onto the carpet, only just having time to get his hands under him to block his fall. Taking advantage of the surprise, Doyle pulled Sam over onto his back, planting himself firmly on Sam's thighs. Leaning forward, he grasped Sam's wrists and pinned them firmly either side of his head, their faces once again scant inches apart, Sam's eyes wide as he struggled to assimilate what had just happened.

"Where do you think you're going then?" Doyle's voice was little more than a whisper, but laced with an edge of menace that sent a shiver through Sam's already over-sensitised body.

"Uh..." Not much of a response, but Sam's head was spinning.

"You saved my life today, mate. I'd say I owe you one." The pressure on Sam's wrists eased, as Doyle's hands roamed down Sam's body, unbuttoning his shirt and pushing it back, sliding softly across overheated skin. Sam raised his head slightly to watch, fascinated, as the top of Doyle's head moved lower. He felt the hands pause to unbutton his jeans, pushing them down, along with his boxers, till they were tangled around his knees.

Sam's whole world narrowed till he was aware of nothing more than those hands, roughened but gentle, as they trailed lazily across the flat of his stomach, a finger wandering idly across one thigh, leaving goosebumps in its wake. The finger brushed across his cock with heart-stopping lightness, causing it to jump in an unspoken plea that Doyle chose to ignore, his hand moving away again to scrape across Sam's abdomen.

Sam clamped his teeth together to prevent himself from actually whimpering as Doyle gleefully prolonged the agony, deft fingers roaming at will across the skin of Sam's stomach and thighs, a nail occasionally rasping lightly in the tenderest of places. He could feel Doyle moving in closer, warm breath mingling with the feather-light touches. Despite himself, words were torn from him. "Oh God," he breathed, swallowing a gasp. Then, without thought, "Please."

It was as if this was the signal that Doyle had been waiting for. Sam heard a murmur of satisfaction, before a sudden moist heat engulfed him without preamble, ripping his world clean in two.

He was aware of everything and nothing, a barrage of sensations merging and blending into one, consuming him, overwhelming him with an ache that was familiar yet at the same time like nothing he'd ever felt before. He could hear gasps, moans, knew that they were coming from him but was powerless to prevent them escaping. His body throbbed, his mind floated, trapped in a limbo of semi-awareness where nothing existed but the lips, tongue, teeth ministering to him so very expertly. Nothing but the gathering heat rising somewhere deep at his core, building and spreading outwards until he wouldn't have been surprised if he actually burst into flame.

His hands clenched and unclenched, grabbing hold of the thin pile of the carpet below him. His hips bucked sharply as he felt the heat transmute into an unbearable pressure aching for release. At the very last moment, he tried to shout a warning, but managed no more than a hoarse moan as he plunged himself deep into Doyle's mouth, his orgasm taking him over with the force of an explosion. Doyle seemed undeterred, holding firm as Sam came and came, licking and soothing with unbearable tenderness until Sam, shattered, slumped back, trying not to sob.

Doyle rolled off to lie on the floor, chin propped on one hand, gazing at Sam with an expression of smug thoughtfulness, as Sam got a grip of himself and his breathing slowly returned to something approaching normal. They lay together for several long minutes, saying nothing, the silence between them warm and comfortable. Finally, Sam dragged himself to his feet, straightening his clothes.

"Drink?" he asked, his voice still rasping slightly.

"Yeah, that'd be good."

"So, do you do this for everyone who saves your life?"

Doyle laughed. "Dunno. You're the first person who has, so far."

"Mmm." Sam located the scotch and a couple of glasses, pouring healthy shots into each and handing one to Doyle. "Well, remind me to do it again sometime. Stay the night?"

"Nah," Doyle answered easily. "Best be getting back. Long day tomorrow." He held out his glass in salute, then downed the contents in one, letting out a satisfied sigh. Handing the glass back to Sam, he moved towards the still half-open door. Sam closed his eyes, trying not to think about the possibility of the neighbours coming past, or, even worse, Gene having turned up unexpectedly. He opened them to see Doyle standing poised on the threshold, his gaze solemn and searching.

"Look, mate, thanks. Really."

Sam shook his head, smiled slowly. "No need. It was my pleasure."

By the time Sam turned up at the station the next morning, Doyle and Layton were already gone, leaving Sam to cope with an irate Gene Hunt ranting about bloody Met boys thinking they were God's gift.

"Oh, give it a rest, Guv," Sam snapped, causing Gene to stop mid 'bastard' and gape at him.

"All right, Florence, who's rattled your chain?"

"Look, it's nothing, all right? This is the Met's case. What did you expect--they were going to turn the whole thing over to us, just because one of their suspects happens to find his way up here?"

"No, Tyler, I didn't." Gene glared at his DI. "And while we're on the subject of things I didn't expect, would you like to explain to me, nice and simply so I don't miss a detail, exactly why you didn't see fit to involve your own department in this?"

"I..." Um. Good question. "DC Doyle and I--we were on top of things."

Gene's expression softened not one iota. If anything, his glare grew more intense. "On top of things," he repeated flatly. "I'll just bloody bet you were."

Sam felt his temper rising. "And what the hell is that supposed to mean?" The effect was hopelessly undermined by the burn he felt spreading across his face. He tried to meet Gene's eyes, failed miserably.

"Oh come on, Gladys. Do I look like I was born yesterday?" He took a step forward, looming menacingly over Sam. "What is it with you? Is there something in your contract that says you have to hop into the sack with every halfway passable bloke that trips through these doors?"

"You wish," Sam muttered sulkily, before he could stop himself. Gene's eyes flashed, and he grabbed hold of Sam's jacket, pulling him close.

"You said what?"

Sam jerked free, turning away and heading for the door. "You heard me," he threw back over his shoulder, before wrenching the door open and striding out into the office.

Gene stood motionless for a second, watching Sam stalk away, fighting to get his head round what he had heard. Too late, he charged out into the main office. "Tyler! Get back here!"

But Sam was gone. Gene slammed his fist against the glass, marched back into his lair. Suddenly, he needed a drink.

--THE END --

May 2007

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