Old Habits Die Hard


Third in a series. The first is One in Every Port, by the same author, and the second is Meeting of Minds, by Bistokids

In Sam's peripheral vision, two legs wearing cream-coloured trousers stopped just in front of his desk. They didn't move for several moments, and he raised his head, frowning.

"DI Tyler," a voice he thought he'd never hear again said. "We meet again."

Sam would have probably spat some cutting remark, he'd got quite good at it over the years, the constant proximity to Gene had passed onto him his questionable sarcasm and sense of humour. Sometimes he barely managed to catch himself before he could use wild and improbable metaphors. Yeah, surely Sam would have said something very sarcastic, if his jaw wasn't currently touching the desktop.

"B-Bodie?" he gasped.

Bodie smirked and wiggled his eyebrows at him, crossing his arms over his chest. He was wearing a jacket, despite it being quite warm in the office. "And how have you been these..." he trailed off, presumably doing the math, then whistled. "Three years."

"Quite well, thank you," he replied, icily.

The grip he had on his pen tightened progressively and he was sure it was going to snap any moment now.

What the hell was Bodie doing here? The last time he'd seen him--Jesus. He gritted his teeth, his jaw hurting as he tried to suppress the surge of arousal as he thought of That Night. He hated his body for reacting this way to a man that was probably a murderer and had left him tied to his own bed.

Bodie smirked again and his eyes trailed from his face down his neck, to follow the collarbone showing in the gap left by the buttons opened on his shirt. Sam swallowed and had the sudden urge to cover himself. He raised his chin defiantly, though. "What are you doing here? Last time we saw each other you were a suspect in a murder investigation."

"Oh, but you caught the murder, didn't you?" Bodie replied, still smirking. And how did he know that, anyway? Not that the solution of the case had been all that smooth, both Gene and Sam unconvinced when a bloke showed up and confessed.

"You didn't answer the question."

Bodie snorted and rolled his eyes. "I'm here on business."


"Bodie!" another voice called, and Sam turned wide eyes to the man striding towards his desk. "That bird at the front desk--" he trailed off when he saw Sam. "Hey, Sam," Doyle greeted. "You still work here, then."

For a moment the three of them stared at each other in complete silence, then they spoke at the same time.

"You two know each other?" they exclaimed, then, "when did you meet?"

Bodie chuckled softly, then nodded at Sam. "You first, Sam."

"DI Tyler," Sam spat, then glanced at Doyle. "Me and DC Doyle met during a case, two years ago."

Bodie raised his eyebrows at Doyle. "DC Doyle?" he snickered, Doyle snorted at him.

"What about you two, then?" Doyle asked, nudging Bodie with an elbow.

"Three years ago, during a case, as well," Bodie replied. "It was touch and go, but memorable."

From the leer on Bodie's face and the blush Sam felt creeping up his neck, he was sure Doyle had no problems imaging just how memorable their encounter had been. Just as he'd thought, the smirk on Doyle's face didn't take much time to bloom, and widen.

"Oh, right," Doyle snickered, exchanging a meaningful glance with Bodie.

Sam growled under his breath and stood up, gathering the reports he'd been working on. He was about to turn on his heels and leave, when it occurred to him that he still didn't know what they were doing here. "You said you were here on business," he said, glaring at both of them. "What did you mean by that?"

Doyle opened his jacket and reached into his inside pockets. In doing so, his jacket moved aside just enough for Sam to be able to see the holster and the gun.

"What the--you're armed?" he exclaimed, causing all the eyes in the room to turn on them.

Doyle took off his jacket, then he opened his wallet and showed him his ID. "We're CI5."

Sam blinked at the ID, then raised his eyes first to Doyle's face, then to Bodie's, but they were both serious. "You've moved up, I see."

"You could say that," Bodie shrugged.

"We're here to speak with your Boss," Doyle said, showing him the folder he was holding in his hand. "About a case."

"Alright," Sam nodded, Gene wouldn't be happy at all about this. "He's not here right now, you can go and wait in his office, if you want."

While I run off to Spain, he didn't say.

Bodie nodded and turned, but Doyle lingered. "So, you alright?"

Sam sneaked a glance at him, then darted his eyes in the direction of Bodie's retreating back. "I have work to do," he said, abruptly, turning on his heels and marching away, trying to look purposeful.

He was trying to decide whether or not to leg it altogether, and while he would be at a safe distance from the outburst and the snide comments that were sure to come, he would also give the impression of hiding like a coward, whereas this was just a strategic retreat.

Sam lost the moment when Gene stormed into the office, though.

"Tyler!" Gene exclaimed.

"Carpe diem," he sighed, shaking his head.

Gene stopped just before starting with one of his usual rants. He sniffed. "Tyler," he repeated, pausing to narrow his eyes at him, evidently waiting for him to start speaking Latin again. When Sam said nothing, he continued. "Where are they?"

Sam's eyes widened. Was it possible that Gene already knew? "W-Who?" he sputtered.

"Those CI5 thieves with them itchy fingers," Gene snarled. "I was told they're here to steal me suspect!"

Sam rolled his eyes. "Of course," he snorted. "Reduce a case of national security to a childish fight over a toy."

Gene narrowed his eyes at him. "Where. Are. They."

"In. Your. Office."

Gene nodded curtly and turned around, and this was the perfect moment for Sam to make himself scarce. He remained rooted to the spot, though, observing the scene with the morbid fascination people usually reserved for car accidents.

He watched as Gene opened the door to his office, stood there for a moment, closed it again. It would have been kind of funny actually, if it weren't for the snarl on Gene's face as he made his way back to him.

"Do I even remotely look like your father?" he growled, taking Sam completely by surprise.

"Uh, no," he replied, not really sure where this was going.

"Your mother, then?"

"I most assuredly hope not!" he exclaimed.

"Then why are you introducing yer boyfriends to me, Gladys?!" he almost yelled. "You can all get married and be poofy until death do you apart, for all I care!"

Jabs at Sam's sexuality had become kind of an old routine by now, but apparently they still hadn't stopped being funny, because a few snickers echoed in the room at the word 'poofy'.

Which frankly wasn't even a word.

It wasn't like Sam was worried about it, though. With the exception of Gene and the two men waiting inside the office, nobody knew just how uncomfortably close those words were to the truth. Marriage excepted, of course.

"It's them, Guv," he said. "They're CI5."

Gene blinked at him. "You're bloody shittin' me."

"I wish," he sighed. "Look, just go and I don't know...sort things out. Possibly without causing a national incident that would get you arrested for treason or something."

Gene frowned at him. "You're not coming?"

"I'm not going in there to be trapped with--" two men he'd slept with and Gene Hunt acting like Sam was his personal property "--the three of you."

Gene gave him a long look. "Right," he sniffed.

Then in a lightning-quick move, he grabbed Sam's arm and whirled him around, propelling him in the direction of his office.

When they got in, Doyle was sitting on Gene's desk, Bodie standing behind him, wearing a vaguely amused expression. Sam recognized it as the same he'd been sporting when he'd left him tied to his bed. He scowled.

"Park yer arse somewhere else, Curly Delight," Gene glowered at Doyle. "Preferably far away from me city.

Sam rolled his eyes. "Remember, Guv," he said, nudging him in the side. "Going against CI5? Bad idea."

"Well, going against Gene Hunt," he growled in reply. "Very bad idea."

Bodie chuckled. "Just like I remembered," he said, turning to Sam. "He still uses you as his punching bag?"

Gene snarled and shot a glare at Sam, who in turn grimaced and hung his head, scratching the back of his neck. "Now you listen to me, you bloody--"

Sam's hand shot out to grab his arm. "Let's just calm down and act like adults, why don't we?" he exclaimed, darting glances from Gene to Bodie, as they were engaged in a glaring match.

Bodie was the first to give up, raising his hands and looking away with a small smirk.

Doyle broke the tension by dropping on the desk the folder he'd been holding in his hands. He opened it and took out some photos, handing them to Sam and Gene. "John Ashcroft," he said. "A.k.a. Johnny Ashley, a.k.a. Ashley Jones."

"Original fella, innit?" Gene snorted, and Sam elbowed him.

Doyle didn't seem to notice the interruption. "We want him, and we've got reasons to believe that the man you arrested two days ago for that robbery may be the key to find him."

"Billy Hughes?" Gene asked. "I thought you chaps didn't bother with such a trifling matter as a robbery."

"We're going out of our way just being here to tell you," Bodie said. "Normally we wouldn't even bother."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Then I suppose we should thank you for your troubles."

"Hughes has robbed a bank in my city, I've caught him and he'll stay here," Gene said, sitting down behind his desk.

Sam moved to his side, and the four of them stood apart, the table between them as if tracing a border, their positions almost mirrored.

"I won't let you boys grab him and disappear," Gene continued.

"You haven't got much choice in this," Doyle replied.

"We could reach a compromise, you know," Sam suggested, focusing all the attention on himself. "You want Ashcroft or whatever his name is, don't you? We can help you, Manchester is our city, you wouldn't know where to start from."

"Oh, I'm sure we could find a way," Bodie snorted, but Doyle shot him a warning glance.

"What're you suggesting then, mate?" he asked Sam, cocking his head and narrowing his green eyes at him.

"I'm suggesting we work together on this," he replied. "You get Ashcroft and we get to keep Hughes, prosecuting him for robbery."

Gene turned sharply to him, but Sam was still staring at Bodie and Doyle, trying to decipher the silent conversation they seemed to be engaged in. "Well?" he prompted, finally.

Doyle shrugged. "I suppose we could give it a shot."

"But just because it's you, Sam," Bodie grinned at him, and Sam scowled at him in reply.

Doyle stood up and gathered all the photos and the stray pages that had escaped from the file, closing the folder when he was done. "Shall we get started, then?" he asked.

"After you," Sam said, holding the door open for the two CI5 agents to pass through. Doyle smiled politely and Bodie smirked at him.

He shook his head, and was about to follow them, when Gene's hand on his forearm stopped him.

"What the hell are you playin' at, Tyler" he said, lowly, his frown promising nothing good.

Sam shrugged his grip off, but Gene went to grab the front of his shirt, instead. He groaned. "I'm trying to keep us on the case, Guv," he replied. "And you're not helping any with all this open hostility."

"Oh, look at you, Gladys, all happy and glad to see your boyfriends," Gene snorted. "Seduced and deserted, weren't you?"

Sam glared at him and sneaked a glance around to see if somebody had heard that. What had got into him? 'Seduced and deserted', even after all these years it still stung, and Gene had never said anything about it if there were any chances they'd be heard. He'd found it annoying at first--well okay, bloody insufferable--but now it had become another peculiarity of his relationship with Gene. He'd always figured Gene's homophobic side would come out and he'd get beaten within inches of his life, but Gene had surprised him, and he liked to think it was all part of the tight bond of trust that had formed between them over the past three years. As well as the fact that he was almost one hundred percent sure Gene himself was interested in Sam. Until now, though, they'd never gone further than the odd lingering gaze, or the slightly daring touches when they'd drunk a chaser or four too many.

"They're right, you know," Sam sighed. "They could easily take the case out of our hands. You should be glad they even bothered to warn us."

"And we all know the reason why," Gene snorted. "Maybe we should thank your very loose morals."

Sam narrowed his eyes at him. "Maybe you should mind your own business."

Gene shrugged. "Let's just hope you'll be able to keep your legs closed this time, Tyler."

Sam gaped at him, a strangled sound of disbelief escaping his throat. "I can't--Jesus!" he exclaimed, shaking his head and turning on his heels to leave.

First step was, of course, to interrogate Hughes, and Bodie and Doyle tagged along much to his Guv's displeasure. And if he'd ever found Gene's techniques rather barbaric, CI5 wasn't that far behind.

Doyle pushed his arm against Hughes' throat more firmly, effectively cutting off his air, and sliding him up the wall, making him stand on his tiptoes. Gene was observing the whole scene with a general air of detachment, leaning against the opposite wall and smoking slowly. Sam was beside him, his fists clenched by his sides.

"Now, now," Bodie said, shaking his head with a disapproving air. Unlike Doyle he appeared completely calm and harmless, sitting at the table. At first glance, at least, but if you took into account the calculating look in his eyes, his holster, the way his fingers drummed on the table, you had a whole new picture, like a wild animal ready to pounce on his prey.

Sam cleared his throat and had to look away.

"This isn't going well, is it, Ray?" Bodie asked.

Doyle shook his head. "Not at all."

Bodie nodded. "See..." he said, sitting up. "We've asked you gently, but now..." he trailed off, raising his eyebrows. Hughes darted his eyes from one man to the other. "You can't do this," he squeaked. "You're coppers, you can't--"

Bodie gave a sharp laugh that had nothing to do with humour. "Do we look like coppers?"

"We're CI5, mate," Doyle said, grinning up at him. "And you're in trouble."

Hughes' eyes went to Gene. "Mr. Hunt!" he exclaimed, and if Gene Hunt was his last port of call, he had to be pretty desperate.

Gene sniffed and shook his head, coming away from the wall. "Sorry, Billy. It's out of me hands."

"Mr. Hunt?" Hughes tried again, and when that didn't work he turned to Sam. "DI Tyler?"

Sam sighed. "Like the Guv said, Billy. We can't help you," he replied, raising his hands. "Just tell them what they want to know and you'll be free to go."

Gene shot him a look. "Of course he won't be free to go," he snorted. "He's a flippin' robber! He's going to the nick."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Yes, Guv," he hissed to him. "Remind him, why don't you? He'll gladly help us, then."

"He'll help us because otherwise Goldilocks there will snap his neck!" Gene exclaimed. "You don't seem that averse to the idea when he is the one doing that, don't you?"

Sam sighed deeply and pinched the bridge of his nose, mentally counting to ten to give himself the time to think about an answer that wouldn't piss Gene further. "No Gene, I still don't like it," he replied, softly, hoping that the others wouldn't hear. "But you've got to admit that he's not employing the mindless violence you're usually so keen on."

Okay, maybe in hindsight it hadn't been the best thing to say, also because it wasn't like Gene bounced the suspects off the walls like he used to do when he'd first met him. Under Sam's constant protesting he'd toned the slapping and punching down, but mostly Sam wanted to get back at him for his earlier comments.

Gene's eyes widened, then narrowed, his fingers closing against his bicep, and suddenly it was highly probable that Hughes wouldn't be the only one getting out of Lost and Found decorated in bruises.

"Not now, Guv," he said, shrugging him off and nodding to Bodie and Doyle--and their suspect--who by now were all observing the scene with genuine curiosity.

Gene sniffed and came away from the wall, stomping to where Doyle was still holding Hughes. He shoved Doyle away and took Hughes by the lapels of his shirt, whirling him around as if they were waltzing. He sat him down in one of the chairs, then in a sudden move he smashed Hughes' face against the table, and twisted his arm up his back. Hughes gasped and whimpered.

"You listen to me, Billy," he said, and pushed his face further down. "Now you're gonna say what these two blokes here want you to say, got it? And you know why?"

Hughes whimpered louder. "N-No," he mumbled.

"Because I'm telling you to!" Gene spat into his ear. "So start to bloody talk before I lose my patience!"

Sam snorted and hurried to the door, shaking his head.

"Tyler!" Gene called. "Come back here!"

"You're all bloody thugs," he muttered, wrenching the door open and slamming it shut behind him.

Even with the thick walls, he still heard the second 'Tyler' Gene bellowed.

"If you do something like that again, I'll kick yer arse so hard you'll be wearing it as a hat," Gene said, breaking the silence that had reigned in the car for the good part of an hour, and while Gene's conception of figures of speech was original as always--to say the least--the sentiment behind the words was clear enough.

Sam frowned, though, trying to decide what exactly he had done to deserve such animosity. Oh, right, he'd done absolutely nothing. It was just Gene being his usual possessive, territorial bastard self. Barely more than a day since Bodie and Doyle had arrived, and he'd been constantly breathing down his neck, keeping his eyes on him all the time, emitting sounds that were disturbingly close to growls whenever either or both the two CI5 agents got too close or attempted talking to him. He'd even reached the point of taking Sam home the previous night, inviting himself in for a Scotch. Or so he'd said, but Sam knew it'd been just in case Bodie or Doyle--or both--had shown up.

While all the attention wasn't fully unappreciated, since it confirmed Sam's theories of a more than platonic interest on Gene's part, it was very annoying at the same time. Sam wasn't a bloody damsel in distress who needed Gene to protect his virtue, he was a grown man, and it was his damn business what he decided to do with said virtue--or lack thereof, as Gene had pointed out several times. It had been three years, Gene had appeared interested and he knew that Sam didn't mind a bloke's attention now and then, it wasn't like Sam could wait for him forever.

When Gene didn't add anything more, Sam sighed and bit the bullet. "Like what?"

Gene turned sharply to glare at him. "You don't walk out when we're questioning a suspect."

"You weren't questioning him," Sam shook his head.

"That's right, we were!"

"I can't believe this!" he exclaimed, slamming his palm against the dashboard.

"Oi! Watch it!"

"Whether I was there or not wouldn't have made any difference, Guv!" he went on, ignoring him. "Or rather, you just wanted me there so that I could be a witness!"

"What the hell are you talking about?!"

"Congratulations, Gene," he snorted. "You demonstrated you can be as ruthless as CI5, you made your point."

"I wanted you there because we work together, Tyler!" Gene replied, almost yelling now. "You confuse 'em with all your yappin' and lull them in false sense of security."

Sam raised his eyebrows. "Then you come and you smash them down."


Sam rolled his eyes. "Forgive me for failing to grasp this subtle strategy."

It was true though, wasn't it? Even after three years, countless collars, their most brilliant cases remained those when they'd worked together.

Gene narrowed his eyes at him, and waited for several moments to see if he had anything else to add. When Sam remained silent, he turned again to watch outside the window.

After a minute Gene reached for his second sherbet fountain in a hour. "When did they say they were gonna be here?"

Sam checked his watch. "Any moment now."

Gene grunted in acknowledgement and proceeded to eat his sweets, ignoring the glare Sam sent his way. He wanted Gene to admit it, to take it out in the open, so that they could work their way from there.

"You're jealous," he said, abruptly, watching closely to gauge Gene's reaction.

Gene paused, then snorted, causing the white powder to rise in a small cloud and smear his upper lip.

Oh, great. Now sherbet had officially entered Sam's sexual fantasies.

"Please, Tyler," he said, finally turning to him. "Not everybody is after yer scrawny arse."

Sam narrowed his eyes at him. "But you are."

Gene raised his eyebrows, perplexed. "Am I?"

"Bloody hell, Guv! You couldn't be more obvious if you wrote 'property of Gene Hunt' on my forehead!" he exclaimed, and instantly regretted it as soon as the words were out.

It wasn't meant to go like this. Gene was supposed to say something along the lines of 'of course you're mine, Tyler' and then proceed to shag him silly. Or something like that. Gene was a man of action, by his own definition, so what was all this tiptoeing around the subject?

And to think there was a time when Sam had been happily straight.

Or maybe he was just a gay man who'd gone through a heterosexual phase. At this point he was open to any explanation.

Gene carried on as if Sam hadn't said anything. "I just don't want them stomping around my patch, my city, stealing me suspects," he replied. "And I don't like the fact that you're sleeping with the enemy."

"I'm not--" Sam sputtered. "It only happened once!"

Gene gave him a look.

"Well, once with each of them!" he exclaimed, and okay, maybe that didn't sound much better. "What do you care anyway? It's not like I have to answer to you!"

"You go around tripping and falling into bed with blokes, Tyler!" Gene yelled, his face almost red in fury. "And you don't seem concerned in the least about it!"

"That's because I'm not like you close-minded Neanderthals who can't seem to understand the fact that being gay can be completely normal!" he yelled back.

"That's right, you bloody hard-headed bastard!" Gene continued, now almost shouting in his face. "Have you stopped for a moment to think of what those 'close-minded Neanderthals' could do to you if they found out!"

Suddenly it was very silent in the car.

Sam gaped at Gene, blinking.

Gene was worried. Gene was worried about him getting gay-bashed.

"Uh," he said, rather intelligently.

"Your mum will be so disappointed, Gladys," Gene shook his head disapprovingly, and Sam became even more confused at the sudden change of subject. "You certainly won't be able to wear white at your wedding."

Sam rolled his eyes. This was Gene, avoiding a possibly serious conversation with that particular brand of humour only he found funny. "I'm not...'sleeping with the enemy', Guv," Sam finally said. "They're not 'the enemy', and it won't happen again."

"I saw the way they're sniffing around you, Tyler. Like bloody dogs in heat," Gene snorted. "You'll be on your back before you know it."

"Could you be any more crass?!" he exclaimed in disbelief.

Gene shrugged. "'Course I could."

"Be assured that I've got no intentions of putting out for anybody, thank you very much."

"Oh, please, you're a little slut, Tyler," Gene snorted, hitting him in the shoulder, almost playfully. "I'm sure that Bobby bloke will have knickers around yer ankles with just a snap of his fingers," he said, snapping his fingers as if to demonstrate it. "Like magic."

This wasn't going like Sam had imagined. Sure, they were talking about it, they had acknowledged it, but Sam hadn't the time nor will to stand quietly while Gene was taking the piss out of him, and pass as the brazen tart the Guv was making him to be.

"It's Bodie," he ground out. "And I don't even like him. He left me tied to the fucking bed, or did you forget that?"

Gene looked sideways at him. "But we both know that's how you like it."

Sam widened his eyes, and he was about to reply, but he got distracted when he heard the squeal of tyres and a Ford Granada came barrelling around the corner at a speed that rivalled Gene's.

"That's them," he said, when the car came to a screeching halt on the other side of the street.

"Um," Gene said, impressed.

Bodie and Doyle got out of the car, as well as an older man, emerging from behind the wheel.

Sam and Gene followed their example and got out of the Cortina, simultaneously slamming the doors closed, and leaning against the roof of the car.

Sam thought it was a very Starsky and Hutch pose, which was quite alright since they were '70s coppers, and that would never stop being funny in Sam's head. They even had all that homoerotic subtext going on. Well, to be fair, it was a tad more than just subtext.

Sam glanced at Gene, who was now wearing a deep scowl. He was possibly the only person Sam knew who could do that with flecks of sherbet around his mouth and not look like an utter div.

Bodie, Doyle and the other man--who was probably some CI5 big shot--crossed the road to reach them, the older man limping slightly, Sam noticed.

"George Cowley," the older man said, extending his hand, but he gave no indication regarding his position or rank. "I hear there's a slight problem with our Mr. Hughes."

"Gene Hunt," the Guv replied, without even looking at the hand. "And it's our Hughes. Most definitely not a mister."

Sam rolled his eyes and stepped away from the car, coming around the bonnet to shake hands with Cowley.

"DI Sam Tyler," he said. "You'll have to excuse him, he's having a bad few days."

"More like a bad decade," Gene snorted. "And you're not doing much for my peace of mind either, Gladys."

Cowley raised his eyebrows at the name-calling, while Bodie and Doyle didn't even attempt to hide their amusement. Sam narrowed his eyes at Gene and went to stand next the two CI5 agents, stressing his move as much as he could without making it too obvious, so that Gene wouldn't make any mistake at the deliberate nature of it.

"No reason, DI Tyler," Cowley said. "I happen to think along the lines of DCI Hunt."

"You would, Sir," Bodie said.

"And I understand that there might be some friction, but I believe both parties involved hope for a quick resolution of this case, so that we can all get out of each other's hair as soon as possible."

Gene sniffed. "Of course," he said. "But I want to know why you're so interested in Hughes and in this Ashcroft bloke. Because you chaps have yer fingers in so many pies it's hard to keep track of 'em. What was it, Tyler? Terrorism, espionage, conspiracy theories..." he trailed off.

"Anything that's got to do with national security, actually," Sam shrugged.

"Right," Gene nodded. "And I don't want one of my men to get into a situation that could possibly endanger his life without being fully briefed first."

Cowley frowned. "What do you mean by that?"

"I'm going undercover with Bodie and Doyle," Sam said.

"That's why you're gonna tell us everything," Gene added, crossing his arms over his chest.

Cowley turned to look at his men with a questioning frown, but Doyle shrugged and Bodie grinned.

"That's why we needed your amazing powers of persuasion, Sir."

"Actually," Cowley replied, shooting an appraising glance at Sam. "I think that's a good idea."

Bodie blinked. "What?"

"You're outsiders here," Cowley said.

"That hasn't stopped us before, Sir," Doyle said.

"But with DI Tyler on your side, you could have the advantage of knowing the territory, and the not minor aspect of a deeper insight on what to expect from criminals, around here," he said. "His help is most appreciated."

Sam beamed and even Gene allowed himself a somewhat satisfied smirk.

"I trust you've already worked undercover, Mr. Tyler," Cowley said, not quite asking.

"Of course," he nodded.

"In a pub," Gene added. "During a swinging couples case, as well. And as a double agent. Should I tell them about the time with that dealer bloke, Sam?"

"No thanks, Guv," Sam snorted. "I think you've already painted a wholesome picture."

Bodie grinned. "Interesting life up here, isn't it?"

"You have no idea."

"Oh, I think he does," Gene cut in rather spitefully, but Sam's growl at him went unnoticed. "Now we gotta discuss the details, then. So, pub?"

Sam shrugged. "Pub."

Sam grimaced as the knife was pressed more firmly against his neck, the hand grasping his hair tugged as well, tipping his head backwards and making him stand on tiptoes.

"Who's gonna help you now, copper?" Hughes sneered against his ear.

"This isn't going to look good on your arrest sheet, Billy," he said, swallowing carefully, his Adam's apple brushing dangerously close to the blade.

Sam was prepared to admit that maybe this hadn't been a brilliant plan. Or rather, it would have been if they'd known Hughes wasn't just a common bank robber. Weren't the blokes in CI5 supposed to know everything? Then why the hell had nobody told them that Hughes was part of Ashcroft's small group of international terrorists, or whatever they were.

Frankly, between the IRA and these guys in the '70s, and that mess that was 2006, he felt like he'd had more than his share of bloody terrorists.

"Think about it, Billy," he said, trying to make him see some kind of reason. "You won't go far, there're people out there who're looking for you. For me."

"I ain't afraid of them CI5 blokes," Hughes said, pushing him forward. Sam stumbled and almost sliced his throat open on the blade held against his neck.

"Well, you should," he said. "And I wasn't talking about them, anyway."

"Hunt, you mean? He won't try anything when I've got a knife to his boy's neck, will he?"

"I'm not a boy," Sam retorted, but his protesting was ignored, as Hughes pushed him forward again, towards the door.

"Open it," he ordered.

Sam closed his hand on the doorknob, his head still held backwards, almost leaning against Hughes' shoulder. He blinked as the sunlight suddenly hit his eyes. Inside the warehouse it had been dim, and it took Sam a moment or two to adjust to the change and see properly.

When he was finally able to, he saw the familiar shape of the Cortina parked several yards away. Gene was standing behind it, leaning against the roof, his gun aimed in their vague direction. He turned to say something, and Sam couldn't quite figure who he was talking to, until Bodie stood up as well.

Where was Doyle, then?

His eyes caught sight of the inconspicuous surveillance van parked not far away. Maybe he was in there with Chris, Ray and Annie? Sam had been the one insisting on a transmitter and on recording everything they could, causing the amusement of Bodie and Doyle. 'We're CI5, we don't need evidence,' they'd said. And for once Gene had intervened in his defence.


'It's easier to humour him, trust me,' he'd said.

"Let him go, Hughes!" Gene yelled. "And maybe I won't break every bone in yer body! Tyler's told me there're like, three hundred bones in a man's body. That's gotta hurt, eh?"

Sam rolled his eyes. Great. He was stuck with a knife to his throat and Gene using his particular way of negotiating.

"I want a car!" Hughes yelled back. "Or I cut his bloody throat!"

As if to demonstrate his intent, Hughes twisted the knife, the blade sinking slightly into his flesh, drawing blood. Sam leant his head further back, trying to get away as well as he could from the burning pain, and possibly a sudden and very bloody death.

"I'm sure--" he choked, then tried again. "I'm sure we can reach some kind of agreement."

"Shut up, copper," Hughes spat.

"If you don't let him go," Gene tried again. "I'll blow yer head off!"

Hughes was using Sam as a shield, though, and they both knew Gene wouldn't try anything dangerous if there was any chance Sam might get hurt as a result. Or that's what Sam fervently hoped, because the Guv had the tendency to shoot at random until he hit something, anything at all. He probably fancied himself as one of those Sheriffs you see in westerns, with unearthly aiming skills and endless ammos.

But even though Gene's gun remained still trained on them, he made no move to shoot.

That didn't stop him from shooting off his mouth, of course. "Oi, Billy!" he bellowed. "So you're just a small fish, organizing petty robberies while Ashcroft goes around getting all the attention!"

Hughes tensed behind him. "What I do provides money for Johnny's job! I'm a vital part of the group!"

"Sure, keep tellin' yerself that," Gene shouted back at him. "If you died or went to the nick, how much time do you think it'd take him to find one just like you?"

"Guv!" Sam squeaked when the knife sank further.

"I'll tell ya, Billy!" Gene went on, ignoring his pleas. "Ten minutes! And that's countin' the time to stop down the pub to have a pint with his mates!"

Sam groaned through his clenched teeth. Trust Gene to pick a fight with the guy holding a knife to his throat.

"Enough!" Hughes cried. "I want a car now, and I want you gone!"

Right in the middle of Gene's speech on how he wanted to hump Valerie Leon, 'but what can you do?' a shot rang out, making Sam wince instinctively. Behind him Hughes gave a startled gasp and recoiled back, falling to the ground and taking Sam down with him.

"Tyler!" Gene's voice called out. "Tyler!"

And suddenly he was being grabbed under the armpits and heaved up, Gene's hands patting him down his shoulders and neck, looking for injuries that weren't there.

"I'm--I'm alright," he replied, still slightly dazed.

Gene nodded curtly, seemingly satisfied with that, and he turned his attention to Hughes, who was still on the ground, bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound to his shoulder. Bodie was towering over him, having kicked the knife out of reach, his gun trained on him.

Gene lifted him up as well, reserving no regards to his wound, and turned him around to cuff him. "You're nicked! Again."

"He's hurt, Guv," Sam said. "He needs an ambulance!"

"He put a knife to yer throat Sam, all he needs is a good kickin'!"

"You alright Sam?" Doyle asked, trotting towards them, a sniper rifle clutched in his right hand.

"Uh, yeah..." he said, blinking at him. "You shot him?"

"Owed you one, didn't I?" Doyle said, grinning and showing him the rifle. "We had to try this, anyway. I guess this was just the perfect occasion."

"If you say so."

Annie came running towards them, Chris and Ray following behind her at a slower pace.

"Sam! You're bleeding!" she exclaimed.

He frowned and touched the cut on his neck, his fingers coming away bloody. "It's just a scratch," he shook his head, reassuring her. "You recorded everything?" he asked then, fishing the transmitter out of his jacket.

Chris nodded, grinning. "Sure we did, Boss."

"Heard that, Billy?" Gene asked to the man still on the ground, giving him a light kick in the thigh. Hughes whimpered. "Scum."

Bodie re-holstered his gun and smirked at Gene. "Told you, Hunt. You shouldn't have worried," he said, patting Gene's shoulder. "Ray never misses a shot."

Gene growled savagely at him. "Get yer hands off me, you bloody poof!"

Sam scratched idly at the bandage on his neck and took another drag of the cigarette.

It was relatively warm outside, for Manchester at least, and he was sitting on the pavement just outside the Railway Arms, his jacket swung over his legs.

"What happened to the healthy living?" Doyle said, startling him, he hadn't heard him come.

He turned to look as two legs clad in very tight jeans made their way next to him and folded as Doyle sat down. He wondered if he was going to have serious problems in the future with the trousers he wore, not to mention the fact that it was a bloody miracle if he could manage to move around at all in them. He figured you couldn't really beat the sight, though.

Sam's eyes travelled up his chest, where his shirt was unbuttoned almost all the way to his navel. He swallowed, overwhelmed by the sudden flashback to two years ago, his fingers brushing through the hair on Doyle's chest, the memory leaving his skin tingling.

"Uh, What?" he asked, his eyes finally meeting Doyle's.

"You're smoking," Doyle replied, nodding at the cigarette he was still holding between his fingers.

"Oh, yeah." Sam grinned. "I figured, if I had to pollute my lungs I might as well start myself, instead of getting all that second-hand smoking."

"Fair enough," Doyle conceded with a small smile. "That doesn't explain why you're smoking out here, though."

Sam turned to look at the door of the pub, as if surprised by such a question. "I, uh--" he shook his head. "Force of habit. Where I used to live you couldn't smoke inside public places."

Doyle raised his eyebrows. "In Hyde?" he asked, amused.

"How do you know that?" he frowned. "That was years ago."

"We did some research," Doyle replied with a small grin, leaning slightly forward. "I wasn't aware they had all these strange rules in Hyde."

He tried to remember the excuses he used to give when people had asked in the past, but they'd become obsolete after all these years and they rang improbable and rusty even to his ears. In the end he just sighed and shook his head.

"It's a long story..." he replied, taking one final drag and flicking the butt to the ground, where it bounced several times, scattering red ashes all around on the asphalt, until it came to a rest, a few feet away from them.

Sam fixed his eyes on it, forcing himself not to look at the man sitting next to him. The excessive closeness was already causing him an uncomfortable reaction, the hair on his arms standing to an end.

All his efforts were for nothing, though, because Doyle leant back and his left hand brushed against his back on the journey down, so lightly it might have been totally innocent, it Doyle hadn't been looking at him so intensely to see his reaction.

"So..." Doyle said softly, smirking.

Sam swallowed. He was doomed.

The door of the pub suddenly flew open, and Sam sat up, tearing his eyes away from Doyle.

"And what are you two lovely lads doing?" Bodie asked, coming to stand on the other side of Sam.

He looked up at him, but Bodie was looking past him at Doyle, and there was something in their gazes that made him close his eyes to give them some privacy, feeling as if he was witnessing something very intimate.

A hand on his knee made him jump in surprise, fingers softly trailing along the inseam of his trousers. Sam stared wide-eyed at Doyle, but the other man was still looking at Bodie.

"Uh..." he mumbled, and Doyle finally met his eyes.

"What do you say?" he asked Sam, and the question was clear as he felt Bodie's fingers brushing lightly over his ear.

"Uh, the Guv..." he tried. "He--"

Bodie crouched down. "He's busy with The Cow," he said nodding in the direction of the Railway Arms. "They're bonding over pure malt Scotch."

Oh, God.

"I--" he started again, but didn't really know what to say.

"Come on," Bodie said, grabbing his arm and dragging him up to his feet. "You still live in that crappy rat hole?"

Doyle stood up, as well, brushing off his trousers. "Oh, I remember that," he chuckled. "The bed's not gonna hold."

"No, I...I changed place, it's near here," he replied. "I've got a bigger...I mean--a real bed."

Doyle grinned. "That's good."

"Lead us, then," Bodie exclaimed, extending his arm in front of him.

They started walking, Sam stumbling every time a hand brushed against his arm, hand, shoulder, arse.

His trousers had suddenly become very tight, as well.

Oh, shit.

They were gonna eat him alive.

Sam unlocked the door and the next thing he knew he was standing in the middle of the room, his keys being chucked in the direction of the couch, and two sets of hands pushing and pulling him at the same time, a mouth colliding with his.

Sam had barely enough time to kiss Bodie back, before he was distracted by Doyle, as he plastered himself to his back, long fingers gripping his hips tightly, a shower of kisses descending from behind his ear down his neck, to his shoulder. They started as light nipping, becoming progressively hungrier, until Doyle was sucking on his neck, mindful of his injury.

As if they were engaged in a competition nobody had told Sam about, Bodie exchanged a glance with Doyle, then smirked and, grabbing Sam's shirt by the lapels, he tore it open, scattering buttons everywhere. Sam emitted a vague sound of protest, having bought that shirt just last week, but it soon was drowned as Bodie attacked his mouth again. He moaned aloud as his mouth trailed down his throat, his chest, soft bites along the collarbone, and ended its journey when it latched on his nipple.

Meanwhile behind him, Doyle was lazily thrusting into him, and even with the several layers of clothes between them, he was able to feel the erection, when it pressed against his buttocks. The wonder of very tight jeans.

Two sets of hands started working on his belt and flies, and Sam stood there, head thrown back against Doyle's shoulder, barely able to keep on breathing in quick and ragged pants, as his every sense was being overwhelmed with impulses, from his skin, his mouth, his nose, his fingers. He felt something akin to panic, pure, unadulterated terror that seized and froze him, his heart beating so fat he was afraid it was going to explode.

He was tugged--Bodie--and pushed--Doyle--towards the bedroom, his trousers now shoved down to the middle of his thighs, allowing him only small, stumbling steps. When they fell on the bed, at an odd angle, Sam landing half on half off Bodie, Doyle's weight pressing him down. both trousers and underpants had reached his ankles. They were soon disposed of, though, as well as his boots and his socks.

The holsters followed suit, landing on the carpet with a muted thud.

As if following a prearranged plan, Bodie and Doyle stopped at the same time, their gazes locked together above Sam, who was lying on his back between them, the only one in the room completely naked except for the shirt and by now so painfully and embarrassingly erect that he wouldn't have cared if Gene and the whole CID had burst in the room that exact moment.

"Bodie," Doyle said, cocking his head and looking slyly at his partner. "You didn't seem all that happy to see him," he continued and it took Sam a while to make out that Doyle was talking to him, even though he and Bodie were still locked in a staring match. "What did he do to you?"

Sam blinked up at them, but couldn't shake the feeling that he was just a pawn in the game the two of them were playing with each other. It was a strange sensation, being the focus of their combined attentions, and at the same time being completely ignored.

"I fucked him against the wall," Bodie said abruptly, with a ruthlessness that seemed to surprise even Doyle.

"Classy," Doyle snorted.

"I was in a hurry," Bodie replied. "And you should have seen the poor excuse he had as a bed."

"I saw it," Doyle grinned. "When I went down on him on the floor."

"He was a suspect in a murder investigation," Sam suddenly said, finally focusing all the attention on himself. "He had sex with me, then tied me to the bed and left."

Doyle blinked at him, then he chuckled and Sam became peripheral once again. "Bodie," he grinned, shaking his head, his curls bobbing slightly with the motion. "You thinking what I'm thinking, mate?" he asked, his grin widening.

Bodie smirked, nodded.

Sam swallowed audibly as Bodie reached behind his back, reaching for something metallic. "What are you--" Sam choked, but he already knew. Even before the cold circle of steel closed around his wrist with a mechanical click.

Sam stared wide-eyed at the handcuffs hanging from his right wrist, at Bodie's hand sliding up the inside of his forearm followed closely by his mouth, until he was kissing his neck, right next to the bandage, and looking up at him.

Turning his head to the left he saw that Doyle was staring at him as well, his fingers trailing up and down his thigh, coming achingly close to where he wanted--needed them, but never actually reaching there.

"What do you say, Sam?" Bodie asked.

He didn't know what to think at the moment, his mind blank, devoid of all reasoning capabilities. His body seemed to know the answer, though, as his right arm slowly went above his head, Bodie grip around his wrist guiding him. The other one was being led by Doyle to join its mate against the headboard.

And Sam was about to be willingly cuffed to his bed.

Or maybe not.

Sudden, loud bangs startled the three of them, and in a second Bodie and Doyle were crouched by the bed, guns in hand.

"Tyler! I know you're in there you bloody tart!"

Sam literally felt the blood drain from his face--and other places as well--and he bolted up to a sitting position on the bed, staring at the door in horror. It was shaking under the powerful knocking, and even if this door was sturdier than the one in his old flat, he had no illusions of it resisting much under Gene's wrath.

"Hubby's home," Bodie said, re-holstering his gun and stooping down to retrieve his jacket. "Looks like the fun's over."

"What?" Sam exclaimed. "Where are you going? You can't leave me here with him!"

Bodie glanced at the door and just shrugged, but Doyle seemed slightly more sympathetic with his current situation. "He's not gonna--" he started, then he turned to Sam. "Are you gonna be alright?"

"Of course he will, he's always liked a little, what do you call it? Wall-slamming?" Bodie smirked, bending over the bed and giving him a peck on the mouth, leaving Sam with a disturbing impression of déjà-vu.

Doyle's doubts seemed to vanish at that, and he too leant over, but his kiss was more thorough, his tongue sliding over his and exploring his mouth at length. Behind him Bodie snorted and rolled his eyes.

Sam stared wide-eyed as they walked away from the bed, from him, as if they hadn't been about to shag him senseless just a couple of minutes before.

Outside the door, Gene had stopped knocking, and judging by the ominous creaking and banging he was trying to shoulder his way in. Bodie suddenly threw the door open, and his Guv came stumbling into the room, carried on by his momentum.

"DCI Hunt," Doyle said, managing to keep a straight face. "Good evening."

Gene straightened his clothes and narrowed his eyes at them.

"Sam," Bodie said, turning to wink at him. "We'll take a rain check."

And then they were gone, the door slamming shut behind them and for a long moment Gene and Sam stared at it, the room plunged in an absolute, uncomfortable silence.

Gene's head snapped around, then, and his eyes widened when he took in his state, sitting on the bed, naked except for the shirt hanging from his shoulder, love bites scattered all over his neck, shoulders, chest.

"Tyler!" he snarled, and for a horrifying moment Sam was really afraid he was going to kill him.

He scrambled sideways, falling off the bed, and he ran towards the only escape route he could see at the moment, as Gene advanced on him.

Sam slammed the bathroom door closed and leant against it, in case Gene wanted to follow him, when he absolutely had no desire to confront an enraged and possibly jealous DCI while he practically naked.


Gene pounded on the thin wood and Sam was afraid he was going to try and knock down this door, too. Eventually the pounding stopped, and Sam leant his forehead against the door with a sigh.

"Jesus Christ, Tyler," Gene snorted from the other side of the door. "I can't leave you alone for one bloody minute, can I?

As if it was any of his bloody business. Maybe Sam had done a stupid thing--okay, a very stupid thing--to bring them here, but Gene had no right interfering with what he did on his time off, with whatever choices he made.

"Are you listening to me, Tyler?!" he went on.

It was pretty hard not to, actually.

"You'll spread your legs for anybody who winks at you!"

With an enraged shout Sam tore the door open, not caring at all that he was virtually naked. He took a step forward, getting right into Gene's face, their expressions mirroring each other, two sets of furious, snarling grimaces.

"I get it where I can!" he screamed into his face.

"You could go out and easily have half the birds you meet, Tyler," Gene snorted. "And yet here you are, hanky-pankin' with two blokes!"

Sam's teeth were clenched so hard, his jaw was starting to hurt. "And what if I couldn't care less about birds!"

"That's a pile of shit, and you know it!" Gene shouted back at him. "You're not a bloody fairy, Tyler!"

"Why?!" he retorted. "Because if we don't give it a name, if we keep ignoring this, then it doesn't exist?!"

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"It means that for three years we've been on the verge on bonking each other silly, but never actually acted on it!" Sam exclaimed.

"You don't know what you're talking about," Gene said lowly, warningly.

"Oh, I know exactly what I'm talking about. But I still haven't figured why you can't seem to believe I've been attracted to you for three bloody years!" Sam exclaimed at last, and everything stopped.

Gene looked down at him with wide, stunned eyes and Sam was sinking, or so it felt like. He swallowed, struggling to get some saliva in his suddenly dry mouth.

"Gene..." he trailed off, not knowing what to say to fix this, if there was at all a way to fix this. "I--" he started again, but he didn't get to finish.

His upper arms were grabbed and he was shoved backwards, inside the bathroom again, as Gene barrelled into him. He was wearing the camel coat despite the warm season, and it was coarse, and it scratched against his naked skin.

Gene kissed him, or pushed his mouth against his, their teeth colliding painfully, tearing a sound out of Sam's mouth much like a squeak of surprise. He recovered quickly, though, his mouth opening against Gene's, tongues entwining, small bites on his lips, his jaw his throat, as Gene latched down on his neck, sucking, and then went back to his mouth.

Sam's fingers had buried themselves in long, blond hair and he kept tugging and positioning the head as he wanted, constantly changing the angle of the kiss, giving himself more access. They were still moving, until his back hit cold tiles, but Gene kept pushing, and Sam had to slightly widen his stance to accommodate him. As a reward a--still gloved--hand slid down from his neck, brushed against a nipple and went to cup his arse, taking hold of his right thigh and lifting it around Gene's waist.

He gasped against Gene's lips and leant his head back against the wall, swallowing convulsively, his eyes screwed shut as if in pain. "God--" he panted. "This is--"

Gene let go of him and took a step back so abruptly that he almost lost his balance and stumbled.

"Gene?" he frowned at him, fearing a change of heart, and when he saw Gene's face--contorted in disgust--he knew he'd been right.

"Take a shower," Gene said, instead.

He stared. "W-What?"

"A shower," Gene replied, crinkling his nose. "You stink."

Sam's eyes widened, a shiver that had nothing to do with his state of undress running down his spine.



"Good," Gene nodded.

"Good," Sam repeated, and when Gene gave him a long look he tossed away his shirt and possibly took the quickest shower known to man.

He didn't even care about the handcuffs.

When he stepped out, Gene was still leaning against the doorframe, fully clothed, arms crossed over his chest. For a long moment Sam stood there, dripping water onto the floor, feeling a blush blooming on his cheeks and himself getting progressively harder, as Gene's eyes ran down his body, the smirk on his lips and the hungry look in his eyes the evidence that he was liking what he was seeing.

"Ah," Sam said, and Gene lunged forward and grabbed his wrist, pulling him and making him stumble against him. "I'm wet, your clothes--"

"Don't care, they'll be gone soon enough," Gene replied, bending down to kiss him again.

And then Sam was turned, shoved again, in the direction of the bed, a hand trailing down his arm, to his wrist and taking hold of the handcuffs.

"Let's make good use of these, shall we?" Gene grunted against his ear.

It took several minutes for Sam's breathing to slow down to a normal rate, and judging by the hot pants against his neck, Gene was in a similar predicament. The body on top of him shifted slightly, a hand trailing down his flank to rest on his hip, Gene's tongue tracing lazy circles against his neck.

"So?" was the gruff question asked against his sweaty skin.

Sam snorted. "You'll probably never let me hear the end of it," he said, looking up at his ceiling. "But your legendary prowess as a lover might have a foundation of truth."

He yelped and jumped, the handcuffs rattling against the bedrail, when Gene pinched his nipple.

"Like this eh? Kinky bugger," Gene grunted and nipped at his earlobe, as his hand went once again lower, between their legs, to their now spent cocks, fingers sliding through pubic hair sticky with come.

"I don't think I'm up to that this soon, Gene." Sam said, craning his neck down to see his face. In the position he was in, though, all he was able to see was the top of his head, as he was breathing heavily against his neck. Sam moved his arms about, the handcuffs clinking together and managed to nudge Gene with his elbows.

"Hey," he said softly.

Gene raised his head, blinking at him and frowning. "What?" he barked.

"You're not going to sleep, are you?" Sam voiced his suspicions. "You're heavy, move."

"You sayin' I'm fat, Tyler?" Gene narrowed his eyes at him, but he rolled away.

"I'm saying you're heavy, and I can't breathe," he repeated, trying to draw himself up, but the move was made impossible by the arms stretched above his head. He looked sideways at Gene. "Would you mind getting rid of the handcuffs, I'm getting a cramp."

Beside him Gene was suddenly very still, then he snorted and started to laugh. Loud, roaring laughter.

"What?" Sam exclaimed. "What is it? Why are you--"

Oh, shit.

"No, please," he whispered. "Tell me it's not true."

Gene snorted again, then finally turned on his side to look at him. "Seems to me you're not goin' anywhere for a long time, Sammy," he said with a smirk.

Bodie had the keys to the cuffs, and of course right now Bodie was nowhere to be found. And Sam had ended up tied to his own bed again. This was getting ridiculous.

"Fuck," Sam said.

"My thoughts exactly."

Gene took the piss out of him for the whole morning, asking him why he hadn't gone to bid goodbye to his 'CI5 friends', as he called them.

Sam had tried to ignore him, really, but he was in a sour mood, aching all over, his wrists were bruised where the handcuffs had tugged at them, and he had to be careful every time his sleeves exposed them.

His patience was kind of suffering from all that, and when Gene had commented that he was an admirable host, denying no comforts, nor pleasures to his guests, he turned on him and asked him a tenner for his 'services'.

Gene reacted as if he'd been slapped, and after that he avoided him like the plague, which wasn't exactly the result Sam had hoped for, but it worked well enough, as they didn't exchange more than four words for the rest of the day.

By pub time, though, Sam was starting to regret having snapped like that, not the reasons behind it, as much as the situation it had caused. He'd crossed the line, for all his calling him a slut, Gene had never really meant any of it, it was just another way of annoying Sam.

Gene surprised him, though, by taking the first step.

He was smoking outside the Railways Arms, sitting on the steps this time, when Gene came out of the pub and leant back against the wall, a few feet from Sam. He was staring ahead, not looking at him.

Sam waited a couple of minutes to see if he was going to say something, but then he figured if Gene was willing to meet him halfway, he could try his hand at compromising, as well.

"Guv," he said, not sure how much 'Gene' would be appropriate now. "I'm sorry."

But Gene made as if he hadn't heard him. "What's with you smoking out here, eh?" he asked.

Sam snorted. "Old habits die hard, Guv."

Gene gave him a look. "Indeed," he said, but he wasn't talking about cigarettes.

Sam shook his head and stood up. "If you're gonna be like this--"

"What do you want this to be, then?" Gene suddenly asked, and Sam wanted to shout, because this wasn't fair. Gene couldn't say something insulting, and then ask a question like that.

But Sam had to answer, didn't he?

"I don't know..." he replied.

A relationship, he wanted to say, but he was afraid of what Gene's response to that would be. Calling him a poofter for the millionth time, maybe. Telling him he was married, and that real men don't have 'relationships' with blokes.

"But I want it to be," he said. "You?"

Gene sniffed. "Fine by me," he said, shrugging.

-- THE END --

May 2007

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