"The next time a doctor says she wants to keep you for a couple more days, you're gonna keep your lily white ass planted in the hospital, like normal people."
Van leaned against the wall as his partner's angry words washed over him. "Normal's for wimps, Deaq."
His weak rally only served to fuel the other man's pique. "Yeah, and how would you know what normal's like?" Deaq finished unlocking Van's apartment door and, with a gentleness that belied his cranky words, helped the other man inside.
Seeing Van injured filled Deaq with a riot of emotions. Anger, towards the slimy excuses for human beings that had injured him. Guilt, that he hadn't been there when his partner needed him. Tenderness, towards the young man who, even with the scruffiest excuse for a beard Deaq had ever seen, had stolen his heart. Frustration, that he couldn't tell the straight Van how he felt about him. And helplessness, that when he'd come to the hospital to help take care of his injured friend, Van had been in the process of sneaking off like a wounded animal. Unfortunately, since Deaq didn't know how to deal with the chaos of the feelings in him, the emotion he was projecting the most was anger. Anger was easy; anger was safe. A lot safer than looking into those green eyes and seeing disgust looking right back at him.
Van sighed, unaware of the other man's agitation. He even splurged and let himself lean into Deaq's strength for a moment before pulling away. That had been unnecessary - it was his arm that was hurt, not his legs, and he was perfectly capable of walking. He was also perfectly capable of taking a taxi home from the hospital but Deaq's untimely arrival had put a stop to that. For an undercover cop, sometimes Van's timing just sucked.
Feeling the effects of the painkillers he'd taken before signing himself out of the hospital, Van carefully made his way over to a chair and sat down. Damn, but he hated morphine. The sensation of his head floating a foot or so above the rest of his body made it hard to think. Van would rather have the pain any day, not being able to think was way more dangerous. Not being able to think clearly around Deaq could be downright disastrous.
Ironically, one of the rules he'd so blithely spouted off to Jarod was that an undercover cop couldn't show the criminals any need, that need made him vulnerable. Van was in the same position, only worse. For Van, it wasn't a criminal he had to hide his need from - it was Deaq. He'd gotten better at concealing his feelings from his partner, but knew how vital it still was. If Deaq knew that Van liked him in a romantic way, he'd be gone before Van's body hit the floor. It was pathetic but true; if Van couldn't have Deaq in his life as a lover, he'd take him any way he'd could get him and that meant keeping Deaq as his partner. Normally, he had a better handle on hiding how he felt, but the stress and the pain from the injury, not to mention the painkillers, were fogging up his thinking process.
Rudy hadn't quite succeeded in sawing Van's thumb off, but the injury had still required surgery. Given his general physical condition, the doctor had wanted to keep him another day but Van wouldn't hear of it. If he hated morphine, then he downright loathed hospitals - their sterile white walls made him feel trapped...
The soft sound of fabric rustling pulled him out of his reverie. Realizing that Deaq was still standing there, Van cracked his eyes open and looked at his partner. "You don't need to stick around. You drove me home - you've done your Boyscout routine for the day."
"You're crazy, dawg, you know that?" Deaq glared at him. "Yesterday, you got snatched and tortured. Last night, you went under the knife to get the damage to your hand fixed." Hayes started to pace as he got really worked up. "But do you take the opportunity to lay back in bed and let those doctors and nurses take care of you? No - you decided to take a walk...."
"Wait a minute," Van protested, "I'd called a cab, Deaq, it wasn't like I was planning on walking home...."
"Yeah, the cab. Let's talk about that," Deaq retorted. Striding over to the chair that the wounded man was seated on, he put one hand on each arm and leaned in close. "What the hell were you thinking of, calling a taxi instead of your partner?"
Van scooted down lower in his seat. "I thought you'd try and talk me out of it."
"Damn right, I would - and for good reason." Deaq pushed back from the chair and resumed pacing. "What does it mean when my own partner would rather get a ride from a stranger?"
"I didn't think...."
By this time, Deaq's pacing had brought him to a position behind Van and he leaned down to hiss in the other man's ear. "That's right, you didn't think."
The last man that had stood behind him to speak angrily in his ear had been Rudy. For Van, to have Deaq do the same was too much to take. An acid tendril of fear gave him the energy to spring to his feet and, swaying, stand to face Deaq. "Wait a minute, who died and left you in charge of what I do? I called a cab - so sue me." With one hand, he gestured wildly. "Why don't you go back to the Candy Store and play with your new partner, Jarod?" Van used the last bit of emotion-fueled energy to turn and walk to the bathroom, shutting the door behind him before Deaq could see how shaky he was.
Deaq felt the anger drain from him as he realized that it had been fear that he saw in Van's eyes. How had that happened? And where had that crack about Jarod come from?
Realizing there was only one place he was going to get answers, Deaq followed Van to the bathroom and pushed the door open without knocking. His mouth was already open to ask his partner where the hell he'd gotten his crazy ideas when he got a good look at Van. The other man was sitting on the edge of the bathtub, his wounded arm cradled to his chest and his other arm wrapped as far around him as it could go. The smaller man's head was bent down and he rocked back and forth, not even looking up as Deaq came in.
Deaq walked in quietly and, after putting the lid down, sat on the toilet so he could face his partner. He let the silence go on for several more heartbeats, finally asking quietly, "What's up with you, Van?"
When he didn't get an answer, he sighed to himself. "Okay, be that way, but there's one thing I want you to hear and hear good." Reaching out, Deaq carefully put one hand under Van's chin and lifted, forcing him to look Deaq in the eye. "Jarod is not my new partner and never will be. I'd turn in my badge first."
To Deaq's relief, Van didn't pull away. "He's the deputy police chief's son. His father could open doors for you and Billie. You ought to...."
"I already got a partner, 'kay? Ain't no reason for me to go lookin' for a new one." Deaq was calm but firm.
Van snorted and pulled away. "Some partner - I got grabbed like a rookie." He smiled but it didn't reach his eyes. "Oh, I forgot, the rookie saved my ass. I guess I'm even less useful than a baby cop."
"At the risk of repeatin' m'self, I got a partner and I happen to like the partner I got," Deaq retorted. "And as for you getting taken hostage, you can blame the Boy Wonder for that." When Van's eyes widened in surprise, Deaq solemnly nodded. "Damn fool froze like a popsicle. Security tapes caught it all. When the shootin' got real close and personal, ol' Jarod was hugging the wall like it was his long lost mamma." Deaq leaned forward to emphasize his point. "It was Jarod's fault that Rudy and Randi got their mitts on you, Van, not yours."
Van made an attempt to be fair. "Yeah, well at least he acted like the cavalry and came lookin' for me. That's somethin', I suppose."
"Oh, it was somethin' all right," Deaq growled. "The little punk followed the terror twins to their lair and tried to take them down all by himself. Didn't even try to contact Billie or me for back-up and we both know he had a phone in the car."
"Classic rookie screw-up," Van muttered. "He could have gotten everybody killed." Like Deaq, for instance.
"Damn straight," the man in question responded. "So, I want you to understand that when you imply that I'd even think about having that snot-nosed, height disadvantaged, peein' in his pants puppy dog for my partner, what kind of disrespect we're talkin' about." Deaq grinned suddenly. "But I'm just gonna chalk that up to the drugs talkin'. I know you're smarter than that."
His diatribe and, especially, his description of Jarod got Van to smile. Encouraged, Deaq playfully made as if he were going to throw a punch at his partner. As he did, however, Van got a good look at his fist.
"Hey, what the hell happened here?" Van said, making a grab for Deaq. He winced as the movement jostled his injured arm. Deaq saw the grimace of pain and reluctantly stretched his arm out so that Van could examine his hand. He hadn't planned on letting his partner know about it, but it was too late now. Knowing Van, he'd just persist and fret about it until he found out the whole story anyway. The way Van was hurting, Deaq figured he didn't need the extra worry at the moment.
"What the hell?" Van repeated as he examined Deaq's bruised and swollen knuckles. "That didn't happen yesterday."
It wasn't quite a question but Deaq answered as if it had been. "No, it didn't." The detective reclaimed his hand and shrugged as nonchalantly as he could manage. "This happened when I beat Jarod's punk ass into the ground.
Van gaped at him. "You what?"
"I didn't appreciate," Deaq said quietly and with great satisfaction, "anybody goin' all Lone Ranger and grand standin' when it was my partner's life on the line." He flexed his hand. "Let's just say this - our boy Jarod's got a whole new appreciation for the concept of teamwork."
Van blinked and then slowly grinned. With his sore lip, it hurt to smile but that didn't stop him or keep him from having the familiar twinkle of mischief in his eyes. "I imagine that Billie had something to say about that."
"Yes, she did," Deaq confirmed. "In fact, she suspended me."
The other man's smile faded and the impish twinkle was abruptly snuffed out of his eyes. "Well, I guess I know how I rate with her." Van looked away, refusing to meet Deaq's gaze.
Deaq shook his head. "Ain't like that, V. Billie suspended me with full pay... and strict orders to take care of my partner." Haye's frown reappeared. "Only, when I went to the hospital to do just that, you were fixin' on goin' all AWOL on me."
Van shrugged carefully and looked down. "Sorry 'bout that. I just had to get out of there."
Now that he knew that his partner had been stewing about being replaced and that he hadn't intentionally snubbed him, Deaq was more inclined to be forgiving. "All right, I hear that." He looked at their surroundings thoughtfully. "But I can think of more comfortable spots than in your can to rest up in." Deaq stood and offered Van a hand up. "C'mon partner, let's get you to bed."
Deaq winced at his own word choice. Saying those words to Van had been a fantasy of his for a while now. Saying them in these circumstances, when Van was injured and vulnerable, was utterly cruel.
Van didn't notice his partner's inner debate. Instead, he simply shook his head, a stubborn look on his face. "Not yet. I want to take a shower first."
It took several reminders to himself that his partner was hurt and not up for an ass whoopin' before Deaq could answer him. "Maybe we should save that for a time when you don't need a safety helmet," he suggested sarcastically, referring to the way Van couldn't sit without listing to the side.
Van pulled himself up straight in response, glaring daggers at the other man.
"Don't give me that look," Deaq said by way of heading off any spoken protest. "I happen to know for a fact that those sweet young nurses were havin' themselves a little tiff, tryin' to decide which one would have the privilege of givin' you a sponge bath." He waggled his eyebrows at Van in an attempt to cheer him up, despite the way the idea of anyone else touching Van like that made his stomach churn.
Van closed his eyes. "Don't remind me." He shuddered. After being held hostage, the last thing he'd wanted was a stranger's hands on his body. Sighing with weariness, he opened his eyes to give his partner what he hoped was a suitably beseeching look. "I just need to get my hair clean, Deaq. Trust me, I won't be able to sleep until I do."
Hayes immediately became serious. Dropping down to squat by his partner, he reached out one hand as if to caress Van's cheek, only pulling back at the last minute. Any cop knew that when a crime victim had an unreasonable desire to get clean, it could be a hint that an assault of a sexual nature had taken place. In Deaq's book, Van's need to wash his hair at a time when he couldn't even sit upright was easily classified as unreasonable... and it scared the shit out of him.
"Van, bro," He said carefully. "Is there something about yesterday that you need to tell me?" When Van just looked at him blankly, he gentled his voice even more. "You can tell me anything, Van. You know that, don't you?"
It took Van another minute to figure out what Deaq was getting at - proof that the morphine was indeed messing with his thinking process.
"That? No, not that," he reassured Deaq, flustered by the insinuation.
"Thank God," Deaq breathed in relief, dropping his head into his hands.
Van hadn't noticed the other man's reaction, seeming to be caught inside of his memories. "I think... I think if you guys hadn't shown up when you did, they might have...."
Deaq's head snapped up. "They?"
"Rudy and that real big thug of his," Van said almost absently. "They... they seemed to like running their fingers through my hair. The big guy, when he was dragging me in and Rudy... when he had me in that chair... he did it a lot."
"Damn!" Deaq exploded, slamming his fist into his palm with a smack. He didn't even notice when the action reopened the scabs on his knuckles.
Van, however, jumped at the sound. His partner's fury caused the blood to drain from his face and he was quick to try and mollify the detective.
"Look, it's no big deal," Van stammered, upset at the other man's reaction. No wonder Deaq was being such a grouch - Van was acting like a big baby. It was enough to piss anybody off. "I'm being a real pussy about this. I don't need to take shower. I'll just go to bed, like you said before...."
The hesitant tone in Van's voice cut through Deaq's fury like a knife. With a guilty start, Deaq looked at Van and realized that he was being selfish. Van was looking at him like he expected Deaq to bite his head off. Expected it - and was willing to take it. He had no clue that Deaq's outburst had been because of his frustration and guilt that those creeps had been allowed to touch Van. It had nothing to do with being mad or disgusted with Van himself - but Van had no way of knowing that.
In fact, Deaq realized with horror that the whole conversation had been selfish. Van had tried to run from the hospital because he was having a hard time dealing with what went down the day before. But had Deaq been supportive? No - he'd seen Van's not calling him for a ride as an insult and reacted like a spoiled brat. Instead of being a shoulder his partner could lean on, Deaq had led Van on a conversation that had been an emotional minefield.
That was no way to treat a partner. Even if he could never be the romantic companion Deaq hoped for, Van deserved better. Starting now.
"No way. If my partner wants clean hair, then clean hair is what he gets," Deaq said calmly.
"That's okay, Deaq. Really, we don't have to...."
Deaq patted Van on the knee. "Hey, Van. You got every right to want to get rid of their touch. I just didn't get it before. I do now." When Van opened his mouth to protest, Deaq beat him to it. "And that's not bein' a pussy either, man, that's just bein' human."
Van swallowed before answering. "Thanks, Deaq."
"No problem, bro." Deaq stood, rubbing Van's shoulder as he did. Looking at the bathtub thoughtfully, he made a suggestion. "Since all you really want is to get your hair clean, how 'bout I wash it for you?"
His partner shifted uncomfortably. "I dunno, Deaq. That's goin' way above and beyond...."
Van wasn't sure he liked the idea of his partner washing his hair for him. Or, rather, he worried that he liked the idea too much. That strong body pressed close behind him... those long fingers massaging his scalp... injury or no injury, how was he going to control himself? One look at the determination on Deaq's face, however, and he knew he was just going to have to make do.
"It's all part of the service, dawg," Deaq waved him off. His nonchalance was 100% fake, aided by months of experience in deep undercover police work. In fact, the detective was having similar reservations. When he'd suggested it, he hadn't thought of Van's taut little butt wiggling around in such close proximity....
Having come up with the idea, however, Deaq's pride wouldn't let him back out.
"Okay, you get that shirt off," Deaq instructed. "I'll go find somethin' to wrap around that busted up wing of yours."
Deaq didn't stick around to see if Van obeyed. Instead, he all but fled to the small kitchenette. "You can do this, dawg," he muttered to himself. "You have to."
With the air of a man facing a firing squad, Deaq started searching the kitchen. He was looking for plastic wrap or anything else he could use to keep Van's bandage from getting wet. He didn't find any such common household item, though. Not in Van Ray's kitchen. He also didn't find much that resembled food; not counting the half-empty box of strawberry Pop-Tarts.
Finally, Deaq settled on an empty trash bag. He took that and one of the army of plastic fast food cups that inhabited Van's cabinets. "No wonder he's so damn bouncy," Deaq muttered in disbelief as he resolutely headed back to the bathroom. "That man don't eat nothin' but junk."
He was about to chastize his partner for his eating habits but, once again, looking at Van stopped him short. The young man was still sitting on the edge of the tub, but now he was involved with trying to get his shirt open. One-handed, it wasn't easy and Van fumbled with the stubborn snaps. In fact, so deeply was he concentrating that his tongue was actually sticking out.
Deaq leaned against the door frame, enjoying the sight, until Van growled in frustration. He chuckled with affection as he moved in for a rescue. "Shirt givin' you some problems there, partner?"
"Yuck it up, Deaq," Van complained, "but you try and take one of these off when you can only use one hand."
"I'm not laughing at you," Deaq solemnly assured him, "I'm laughing with you."
"Uh-huh," Van wasn't buying it. "Pull the other one, Deaqon."
Deaq took a deep breath and set his supplies down. "Let me help," he offered. He tried to think of something funny to say to help get over the awkward moment but nothing came to mind. His fingers cautiously worked at the snaps of Van's garment, trying not to give in to the temptation to stroke the soft skin that was slowly being exposed. "Hey, you cold?" he suddenly asked, realizing that Van was trembling.
As the other man opened his shirt, Van had been staring at a spot somewhere just over Deaq's left ear. It wasn't working - there was no way to impersonalize the inherently intimate act of another man removing his shirt. Hearing Deaq's breathing so up and close and personal, not to mention feeling the other man's hands on him, was undoing his composure.
"Van, you cold?" Deaq had to repeat his question.
"Cold? Nah," Van denied, frantically trying to think of a reasonable explanation of why he'd be shivering. As it turned out, though, he didn't need it. Right after asking Van for the second time, Deaq finished opening the uncooperative piece of clothing. What he saw eclipsed any worry about Van getting a chill.
"What the fu-....?" Deaq had begun to gently slip Van's shirt off his shoulders when he saw the first bruise. Pushing the black fabric all the way back, he gently traced the outline of the most vivid mark - an imprint clearly in the shape of a boot.
"Does Billie know about this?" Deaq asked, voice tight.
Van looked down, trying to figure out what had Deaq upset. Carefully shrugging out of his now open garment, he made a guess. "What? The bruises?" At his partner's curt nod of confirmation, he looked confused. What was the big deal? "I suppose she does, Billie's usually pretty thorough about getting a copy of our medical reports."
Deaq scowled. "You know she still had to make a deal with Rudy and Randi, right?"
"Well, yeah," Van said, looking even more baffled. "That was the whole point of the bust, wasn't it? Gettin' the names of the dirty cops so we could stop any inside leaks."
"I know, I know," Deaq admitted. "Just don't sit right with me. Those two hold a cop hostage and torture him and they still get to cut a deal."
"Probably not as good a deal as before they tried to cut my thumb off, though." Van had finally finished wrestling his shirt off and dropped it to the floor. "I'm gonna be out at least a few days and that's gonna leave the Candy Store short-handed." He grinned at his own pun. "That'll make her cranky. Billie'll probably sour the deal, just outta spite."
Reminding himself about not being selfish and that taking care of his partner had priority over losing his temper, Deaq let Van believe he'd lightened his mood. He used his jaw to gesture at his partner's bandaged hand and wrist, now revealed in all their pristine glory. "So, what's up with that, dawg? Plain white, that's not your style. I thought you'd make them give you neon green or somethin' with a little more pizzaz."
"You're thinking of casts, Dr. Hayes," Van explained. "Wound dressings only come in plain white." He knew because he'd checked.
Deaq swallowed. He'd just realized that Van was sitting in front of him bare-chested. He'd seen Van without a shirt before, but never in the man's own bathroom and never when he was so vulnerable. Vulnerable was a good look on Van. He'd been too caught up before in the thought of Van's assailants cutting a deal to notice. "We gonna do this?" He asked before he had a chance to get distracted.
"I suppose." Van's voice had a distinct lack of enthusiasm. He'd wanted to wash his hair, but hadn't expected Deaq to be part of the process.
"All right," Deaq said briskly, taking charge. He helped Van move to the toilet seat and then busied himself setting up. Within moments, he had the water running at the right temperature, one folded towel draped over the side of the tub to pad it for Van's bruised stomach, and a small pile of other towels readily at hand. It took just another moment to wrap Van's arm and then they were all set.
"Okay, on your knees," Deaq ordered, glad that the darkness of his skin made it difficult to see that he was blushing. "Just balance with one arm; I'll do all the rest."
Van looked askance at him. "Wouldn't it be easier to do this in the kitchen sink?"
Genuinely amused, Deaq snorted. "Not in that kitchen sink it wouldn't. Dawg, have you looked at it? I have and I think anything you washed in there would come out dirtier than it went in."
"It's not that bad..."
"Yes it is," Deaq retorted. "I'm relieved to say that you're not a domestic goddess." He ignored Van's indignant protest and reached to help the injured man move into position. "I find you puttin' any weight on your sore arm and I'll whup your sorry ass. Now, on your knees."
"Promises, promises," Van quipped before he could stop himself. He was just glad he'd already moved to face the other way and Deaq couldn't see how red his face was. He bit his lip and told himself, for once, to just shut up.
Deaq felt his groin tighten as Van finally obediently dropped to his knees and bent over. The young detective shook himself when he realized he'd become mesmerized by the view of Van's upturned ass. Manfully resisting the urge to fondle those tempting cheeks, Deaq knelt next to Van and reached for the bottle of shampoo. As he squeezed a dollop of the thick liquid onto his hand, he firmly refused to think about how the slippery stuff would make a good lube.
"All right, partner, here we go," Deaq warned and then gently guided Van's head under the spout. A moment later and his fingers were buried in Van's hair. Even wet, it was every bit as soft as he'd always fantasized it would be.
Underneath him, Van was having problems of his own. He could feel Deaq's body lightly cover his own as the other man worked on his hair. Deaq was only a couple of inches taller than he was, but felt ten times that in the particular position they were in. Thinking about what else they could be doing in that position, Van closed his eyes and willed himself not to thrust back.
He wasn't entirely successful.
"Stop squirmin'!" Deaq complained. "I don't wanna get soap in your eyes." Besides, although he didn't want to admit it to Van, if his partner rubbed up against him one more time, he wouldn't be responsible for his own actions.
"Sorry," Van mumbled contritely. The injured cop started imagining all sorts of disgusting things as a means to keep his body under control. A glop of canned cat food on a hamburger bun. Pat Boone in concert. Aquarius in a tutu....
Deaq finally had to admit that Van's hair was clean. Pulling his fingers reluctantly from the soapy locks, he grabbed the large plastic cup he'd gotten from the kitchen. Filling it with water, he sluiced the warm liquid over Van's head. While using one hand to help shield his partner from getting shampoo in his eyes, he noticed that Van's usual necklaces were gone. He supposed that they'd been removed at the hospital and that, one-handed, Van hadn't been able to get them back on yet. Deaq made a mental note to offer later to help him. Van somehow looked naked without them.
Damn - it was a mistake to put 'naked' and 'Van' in the same sentence, even if it was only in his thoughts. That led to a whole series of mental scenarios, all featuring a naughty naked Van....
Even with the images running through his head, Deaq was aware that Van had gone utterly still beneath him. "Hey, you okay, partner?"
Van was more than okay; he was loving every second. "MmmHmmm...." he all but purred, too content to verbalize anything more meaningful.
It was the purr that undid Deaq. Already stimulated almost beyond endurance, he responded instinctively by bending over and kissing Van twice on the back. He was just beginning to map a trail along Van's spine with his mouth when he realized what he was doing.
"Shit." Almost in a panic, Deaq leapt to his feet and backed away. "Shitshitshit."
The first thing Van had felt was the cool kiss of Deaq's heavy silver neckless. Then, like in a dream, he'd felt the gentle press of warm lips against his skin. Not once, but twice. Then, he'd felt the cold air generated when Deaq moved so quickly away. His heart grew cold too as he heard his partner swear, realizing that Deaq probably was disgusted by what he'd done. Desperate to see his partner's expression, Van tried to turn around and get up, but his injury got in his way. He managed to face forward but instead of gracefully getting to his feet, he ended up falling to the floor on his butt.
Shaking the wet hair from his eyes, Van looked up at the other policeman. "Deaq?"
"I'm sorry, really sorry," Deaq said, his words jumbled. "I shouldn't have done that." Seeing the shocked look in Van's eyes, he backed out of the bathroom. "I'll just go." He wanted to get out of that apartment before shock faded and the import of what had just happened hit Van. The injured man would probably throw him out of his home and his life - it would be better to leave of his own free will before that happened.
The water and the surprise had gone a ways towards clearing the morphine out of Van's head. Thinking fast, he realized that, injured, he'd never be able to catch up to his fleeing partner. There was no way he was going to let Deaq leave - from the look on the other man's face, if he got away, he'd never come back. To stop that, Van would use whatever tactics were necessary.
Van deliberately used his injured arm to push off the floor, the cry of pain escaping him only partially feigned. It was a dirty trick, but it worked.
"Van, you okay?"
Van was huddled over his sore arm, which effectively hid his smile at the sound of Deaq's worried voice coming closer.
He waited until Deaq dropped to squat in front of him. Reaching out quickly, he used his good arm to grab Deaq by the front of his damp shirt, pulling him close enough that they were eye to eye. "You just don't do something like that and take off, *partner*."
Deaq blinked first. Seeing him deflate, Van let go and Deaq settled back on his haunches.
"I'm sorry, Van," Deaq said, a lot more calm since he'd been forced to confront his actions. "You're vulnerable... you're hurt... the last thing you needed was a hound dog like me jumpin' you."
"Did you mean it or was this a pity thing?" Van was equally calm.
"Pity? What do you mean?"
Van shrugged. "Poor little Van, he had a rough day. Got grabbed. Got beat up a little. Got cut a little. Better give the poor dog a bone so he can get his tail wagging again. That kind of thing."
"Are you kiddin'?" Deaq asked. "Pity?" He couldn't stand the expression of self-loathing in Van's eyes. Throwing caution to the wind, he reached behind Van's head and gingerly pulled the smaller man closer. Seeing those green eyes dilate with desire, he had no hesitations about kissing Van and kissing him deeply.
It felt like he'd been waiting forever for this, but at the same time, it also seemed like it had happened with reality-jarring quickness.
"There," Deaq asked when they finally pulled apart. "Does that feel like pity?" He brought his hands around to cup Van's face, using both thumbs to caress the other man's lips.
"No, it doesn't," Van answered, slowly grinning. "But just to be sure, I think we better try that again."
Deaq chuckled in relief and leaned forward to bump his forehead against his lover's. "I got no problem with that, but I think we can find a more comfortable spot than your bathroom floor."
"If you insist," Van said lightly, accepting Deaq's help to get up off.
Hand in hand, they walked into the bedroom, but despite his best intentions, Van was already yawning by the time they got there.
"Somebody up there doesn't like me," Van complained as he lay down on the bed. He watched hungrily as Deaq pulled his own shirt off and then climbed in to join him.
"What do you mean?" the detective asked.
"I finally get you where I want you," Van said around another yawn, "and I'm too wiped out to do anything with you. Van Jr. may never forgive me."
Deaq laughed and nestled Van close, with his head against his shoulder. "'Van Jr.,' huh?" He teased, starting to finger-comb his lover's wet hair. "Now, I would have thought you'd name it Mini-Van."
"Ha, ha," Van said, nuzzling his face into Deaq's neck. "Like I haven't heard that one before." Fighting off sleep, he asked wistfully, "Are we idiots?"
"For not doing this before? For being afraid to act on our feelings?" When he felt Van's nod, Deaq shrugged lightly, careful not to dislodge his lover. "I dunno. Maybe. Does it matter?"
"I guess not," his partner said sleepily, "as long as it ends up with you in my bed."
"Damn straight, baby," Deaq growled. Rolling nimbly, he maneuvered until Van was laying partially on top of him.
Van patted the warm skin beneath him. "Hmmm... always did like a firm mattress."
"Smart ass," Deaq grinned, kissing the top of his partner's damp head. "Go to sleep." The faster Van got better, the faster they could take this relationship to the next level.
"'Kay," Van murmured, already half awake. He snuggled closer to his lover's warm body. "Mmmm... I did say you were a teddy bear...." His sentence ended in the soft, even breathing of sleep.
"Only for you baby," Deaq whispered as he settled in to thoroughly enjoy his first-ever experience of holding Van while he slept. "Only for you."
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