Dance Steps: A Houston Knights Series

Running (based on Scarecrow)

by Wolfling and James Walkswithwind

(Rated NC-17)


"Now what?" Lundy looked at his partner. "You wanna give Fayette another try, or lean on Gonzalvez some more?" They sat at their desks in the bullpen, knowing there was nothing they could do out on the streets until either Scarecrow came forward or Virgilio Gonzalvez tripped up.

LaFiamma shook his head. "I don't know which one's worse. Fayette *knows* but he's scared. We might be better off if we don't push for awhile."

"So it's Virgilio?" Lundy wasn't pleased at the idea of running the man to ground, but they had no other leads.

"How about we go grab lunch and decide later?"

Lundy grinned. "Now *that* sounds like a good idea."

"Why don't you go on home, you two?" Lieutenant Beaumont walked up to their desks and gave them each a knowing stare. "I know you've been here late the last couple of nights trying to snare Gonzalvez but until Scarecrow comes forward there's not much we can do. Take the rest of the day off."

As much as he didn't want to let the case go even for a moment, LaFiamma knew that both he and his partner needed a little downtime. "You're the boss, Lieutenant."

Lundy just nodded, and grabbed his hat. With a casual hand he turned it over to dump out anything that might have fallen in, he put it on and followed LaFiamma out. "You still wanna get some lunch?"

"Yeah. Don't you?"

"Yeah. But to tell you the truth, I don't really feel like heading to Chicken's. Everyone's gonna be talking about John. Or trying *not* to talk about him."

"I'm with you on that." LaFiamma hit the button on the elevator.

As they stood waiting for the elevator, Lundy glanced sideways at his partner. At the moment there was no one standing nearby so he said quietly, "Bad habit, huh? You gonna try'n break me?"

LaFiamma grinned, waiting until they had stepped into the elevator and the doors had closed behind them. Leaning over he whispered, "Nah, I like you all in one piece." Lundy just gave the other man a grin. The next floor down more people got on the elevator so they said nothing more.

When they fianlly climbed into the truck, Lundy asked, "You care where we head for lunch?"

"As long as it's not barbecue," LaFiamma warned as Lundy pulled out.

"What else is there?"

"In Houston, not much, I admit." LaFiamma paused for a moment then offered tentatively, "I could always throw something together quick at my place."

"Yeah?" Lundy's teasing grin faded into a pleased smile. Then he grinned again and teased, "You telling me *you* got to the store?" The last few days they'd been too busy to do much at all.

"We can stop on the way."

With a quick laugh, Lundy turned left at the next intersection, changing directions away from the station. It didn't take long to get to the grocery store a few blocks from Joe's apartment. As they climbed out of the truck, Lundy caught sight of one of the other stores in the strip. LaFiamma had started for the grocery store but stopped when he realized Lundy wasn't following. "Levon?" he asked turning back to the truck. "What's up?"

"Just thinking..." He started to head for the store, then stopped again and looked at his partner. "You reckon we could head in there for a bit?" He gestured at the shop, the sign for which read "Bale's Books".

"What for?"

"I thought, maybe," Lundy glanced away, embarrassed. "We might pick up something for Fayette. He needs to learn to read."

LaFiamma looked at his partner for a moment, hiding a smile. Lundy really was a soft touch, he thought fondly. It was a side of the other man that he found incredibly endearing. Not that he would ever admit it out loud of course. "Guess we can spare a few minutes."

With a quick nod, Lundy headed for the bookstore. He wasn't exactly sure what to look for -- first readers generally were written for children, and he didn't want to insult the boy. As they stepped inside and saw the long racks of books, he asked his partner, "You have any ideas?"

"Yeah. Ask for help." LaFiamma walked up to the pretty salesclerk behind the counter and after a few minutes of conversation and flirting he rejoined Lundy with an answer. "They've got some text books for older kids needing extra help to catch up with. They're back here." He started down one of the aisles.

Lundy stood where he was for a moment, watching as LaFiamma headed towards the back of the store. He tried to tell himself he was overreacting -- hell, he'd flirt with her too if he needed something. It was just a reflex.

Right? He followed Joe and found him reading book titles. "What about this one?" LaFiamma asked, picking up a book and looking at his partner. The book's title was, simply, _My First Reader_. It was subtitled as being for adults and teens.

"Should do."

Something in Lundy's tone rang LaFiamma's warning bells. "You okay?" he asked, peering at his partner, trying to figure out what was bothering him.

"Huh?" Lundy looked startled. "Oh, yeah... you think he'll be OK with us giving him this?"

"Yeah, I think so. He's a smart kid. That's half of the reason why he's so annoying."

Lundy gave a small laugh. "Only half?"

"Maybe a little more than half." LaFiamma grinned back then gestured with the book. "I'll go pay for this and we can get going." He walked back to the cash register and again chatted quietly with the salesgirl while she rang up his purchase.

Lundy tried not to watch -- tried not to stare, and jump to conclusions.

It was only as LaFiamma turned to leave that Lundy realised his partner had just paid for the book. Lundy shook his head, wondering how he was going to convince LaFiamma to let him pay for his half. Lundy gave the cashier a glance as LaFiamma walked away, noticing that she was watching his partner rather closely. He frowned. No matter what *she* thought, there was no way LaFiamma would mean anything by whatever he'd said to her.... Besides, this stop was all about them heading back to Joe's place for dinner, and maybe something more? Or was he reading too much into *that*, as well?

Rejoining his partner LaFiamma could not help but notice the distracted expression on the man's face. "You're thinking again aren't you?"

Lundy shook his head. "What'd you have in mind for dinner?" All the lightness had gone out of his voice, strengthening the air the distraction his expression gave.

"Pasta and salad," LaFiamma replied even as he reached out and touched Lundy's arm in concern. "What's wrong, Levon? And don't tell me nothing 'cause you don't get like this over nothing."

"Get like what?" Lundy asked, sounding almost belligerent.

"Like this!"

Lundy stopped walking, and found himself quickly toe-to-toe with his partner. Scowling, he was about to call the whole thing off and drive them back to the station to get back to work.

LaFiamma tightened his grip on Lundy's arm in concern. "Talk to me, Levon."

Glancing involuntarily towards the bookstore, Lundy wondered if it was worth the argument to bring it up... or worth the argument to try *not* to.

*Had* he been imaging things? Suddenly he wanted to kick himself. *He* himself had told LaFiamma that he could, and should, appear 'straight' in public so word wouldn't get back to his family. So flirting with a pretty girl shouldn't be cause for concern. Right? He looked back at his partner and started to brush it aside.

"Levon?" LaFiamma was still waiting for an answer.

"It's nothing, Joe." This time he sounded as if it truly weren't. "I was just overreacting. Jumping at shadows."

LaFiamma stared at him for a long moment before finding nodding his head and releasing Lundy's arm. "If you say so... Let's go get the food okay?"

"Sounds good." Heading towards the grocery store, he asked, "You making the same thing you made a couple weeks ago? That tiny spaghetti?"

"Angel hair pasta? You want me to?"

"It was pretty good," Lundy admitted. He felt awkward saying it, even more awkward asking if Joe would make garlic bread. He wasn't sure what had been done to it, but it was the best garlic bread he'd ever tasted.

Granted, that wasn't saying a lot.

"You really liked it huh? Even without barbecue sauce?" LaFiamma teased.

"Didn't say it didn't need barbecue sauce," he teased back. He stopped himself from saying it was 'all right' and said seriously, "Yeah, I liked it. And the garlic bread." Without looking to see Joe's response, he headed inside the store. LaFiamma grinned as he followed his partner, not responding to the compliment verbally but adding what he needed for garlic bread to his mental list.


Levon hauled the groceries up to Joe's apartment. He'd been unable to think of a way to pay his partner back for his share of the book they'd bought Fayette. The only way to do it without getting into an argument involved slipping the bills into Joe's wallet and that involved waiting until he was distracted. Say, asleep. That shouldn't be hard to accomplish if Joe wanted to do anything after lunch.

Once inside the apartment, LaFiamma shucked his jacket, took the bag from his partner and immediately started the preparations for the meal. "Beer's in the fridge," he offered.

Lundy headed for the fridge, grabbed two beers and looked around for the bottle opener. The matter of the clerk at the bookstore could wait, he decided. 'Joe's here with me, now, and if he has any intentions of fooling around, well, it won't take much to encourage him.' The unexpected afternoon off shouldn't go to waste. Lundy smiled. Worry or not, a chance at making love to Joe wasn't something to miss.

LaFiamma meanwhile was intent on getting the salad ready while he put water for the angel hair pasta to boil. The fact that Levon had said he'd liked the last meal he'd prepared had meant a lot to Joe, not that he'd ever admit it out loud. But he was determined that this was going to be even better. 'Besides,' he thought half-seriously, 'maybe I can wean him off barbecue everything.'

"You need any help?" Lundy offered, setting Joe's beer on the counter near him, out of the way.

"Nah, I got it under control," LaFiamma replied as he continued his preparations. Lundy watched his partner, leaning back against the counter opposite the one where LaFiamma was working. LaFiamma looked comfortable in the kitchen, moreso than he ever felt when he found himself cooking. For a moment he contented himself to watch -- he did love looking at Joe, watching the way he moved, the way he stood, the way he smiled. Lundy grinned.

LaFiamma looked up at that moment and caught the look on his partner's face. "What are you grinning at?"

"Me? Nothing." Lundy took a quick drink of his beer. Having been caught he figured he'd better find something else to amuse himself with. He glanced at LaFiamma again. Something that wouldn't delay the meal.

"If you're looking for something to do you can always set the table," LaFiamma offered, attention still on what he was doing.

"Did I say I wasn't doing something?" He grinned at LaFiamma's look, and started gathering the dishes they'd need. "You really think Scarecrow will testify against Gonzalvez?" Lundy asked, as he tried to distract himself from delaying lunch.

LaFiamma appeared to give the matter some thought. "Yeah, I think so. He's basically a good kid. Annoying as hell but a good kid."

"Annoying? LaFiamma, you telling me you never had an attitude when you were his age?" Lundy smiled.

"Never said that. In my neighbourhood you had to."

"And that was your only excuse, I reckon?" Digging through a cabinet, he turned and asked, "Ain't you washed any glasses since last time?"

LaFiamma shrugged. "Haven't been home long enough. Which is mostly your fault."

"My fault? You're the one who wouldn't get out of bed night before last. And it was only 6.30." Lundy decided to forego the glasses; they would just drink beer with their pasta.

"If I remember right I wasn't the only one not getting out of bed," Joe shot back, grinning at his partner.

"Maybe.. but I'd already washed the dishes." Lundy winked, and stepped back from the table. There was nothing more for him to do, except watch LaFiamma cook. He smiled to himself. "I agree with you about Scarecrow, though. If we can get him away from Halstead long enough to come forward." Sitting in on of the kitchen chairs Lundy settled in to watch his partner, while they talked.

"Yeah, that lady gets on my nerves. You know, if she hadn't come in when he was looking at Pepe, I think he woulda told us the truth right then."

"You're probably right. Don't help us now, though." Levon took a swallow of beer. 'This is *definitely* distracting me from wanting to jump Joe's bones.' He laughed silently at himself.

"Relax. He'll come forward. Eventually." LaFiamma put the pasta in the now boiling water and the garlic bread into the oven to warm.

"Yeah... hope it ain't too late when he does, though." The smells were beginning to remind him it had been a long time since he'd eaten. As he watched LaFiamma close the oven he was struck by another thought. More of a feeling than a well-formed thought, but he found himself wanting to see this for a long time. Years from now, he wanted to be watching LaFiamma, cooking dinner, talking casually. He took a drink of beer to cover whatever expression might have shown on his face.

"Food's almost ready," LaFiamma offered as he turned his attention to the sauce. He couldn't believe how good this felt, just to have someone to hang with, to talk with while he was cooking.

"Great, I'm almost starving." Levon stood and brought the plates over to be filled. He stood beside Joe, almost touching. Definitely something to be done as often, for as long, as he could manage. He looked up, found Joe watching him, and leaned forward for a kiss. LaFiamma met him halfway, free hand coming up and tangling in Levon's hair as they kissed. They stayed that way, neither trying to move until the smell of toasting bread interrupted them.

"Shit!" LaFiamma swore and turned his attention back to his cooking, rescuing the bread before it had gotten more than a little overbrown.

"Sorry." Lundy smiled, not sounding or feeling very sorry. LaFiamma tasted a hell of a lot better than garlic bread.

"No, you're not."

"Well, maybe not. It's all right, though, ain't it?"

"It should still be edible." He handed the basket of bread to Lundy. "Here. I'll just dish up the pasta and we can eat."

"Sounds good. Think we can get back to that kiss afterwards?" He said it half-casual, half flirting, without looking at his partner.

LaFiamma just grinned at him. "What do you think?"

"Dunno, sometimes with you it's hard to tell." Lundy took the plate of pasta, and grabbed a piece of not-quite burnt garlic bread. He waited for his partner's response, successfully hiding the smirk from his face.

Putting his own plate down, LaFiamma leaned over and grabbed his partner's face, pulling the other man to him before capturing his mouth in a breath-stealing kiss. He pulled back after a moment, grinning at the rather dazed expression in Levon's eyes. "That make it any clearer?"

"Yeah, I reckon." Lundy stared for a moment, blinked once, then turned back to his food. LaFiamma's smile widened and he did the same.

They managed to finish lunch with a minimum of conversation that wasn't strictly work-related, by mutual agreement to get *through* the meal as fast as possible. Finally the pasta was gone, and they piled the dishes into the sink. Lundy glanced at them. "You wanna wash up?"

"I am running out of dishes," LaFiamma began, eyeing the impressive pile of to be washed.

With a shrug, Lundy began to roll his sleeves. "Fine by me." He sounded completely unperturbed. LaFiamma hesitated, glancing at the clock and calculating how much time they had before they had to show up at the station and decided the hell with it. He could always buy paper plates.

With that thought he swooped in and started kissing his partner again.

Startled, but not surprised, Lundy stepped back to regain his balance. Wrapping his arms around Joe, he held him as they kissed. When they stopped to breathe, he asked, "We gonna do it right this time? Or just keep going and to hell with good manners?" He teased Joe regarding the fact that in the four times they'd sleep together, they'd been unable to fully undress.

"I want to see you," Joe said, quietly, his gaze intense. Levon didn't reply. Trapped like a deer in headlights he returned the stare, unable to move. He'd seen Joe, once, naked as anything and he'd always enjoyed replaying that sight in memory. But *he* had never, as far as he knew, stood naked before his lover. "Levon?" He started to move his hands to his shirt, ready to undress, when one last thought of practicality emerged.

The kitchen was not the most comfortable place to make love.

"Upstairs?" he asked, barely able to make himself heard over the lump in his throat.

Joe nodded and headed up to his bedroom with his partner, being careful to keep his hands to himself. It was the only way he could be sure they'd make it all the way upstairs. Lundy preceded Joe up the stairs, well aware of his partner's eye-level gaze. Once in Joe's bedroom he stopped, and turned. Without saying anything he slowly began to remove his shirt. How could he be so nervous? They'd been lovers for weeks, now. Surely this wasn't something so new, he had to be nervous. Granted, they'd only made love half a dozen or so times....

Somehow sensing that nervousness, Joe gave him a reassuring smile, reaching up and covering his hands with his own, taking over undoing the buttons one by one. Lundy didn't move as he watched his partner's face, staring at him as the shirt was removed. He could feel Joe's fingers brushing against his skin but the touching was accidental. The focus was on sight, on seeing what was revealed.

Once he'd got the shirt undone including the cuffs, Joe pushed it off Levon's shoulders, letting it fall to the floor. "This much I've seen before." He grinned and leaned in for a kiss. Levon let him in, taking the kiss with as much enthusiasm as he could summon past the butterflies he felt. Breaking off the kiss only when the need to breathe became overwhelming, Joe turned his attention to divesting Levon of the rest of his clothes as quickly as possible, knowing if he didn't they'd once again end up coming in their pants.

Levon found it difficult to remain on his feet as Joe touched him, removed his clothing easily as if he already knew just how to do it, just how his jeans would most easily slide down his body.... He closed his eyes.

Feeling his partner start to sway as he undid the jeans and started to slip them off Joe touched a steadying hand to Levon's bare hip. "Okay?" he asked softly before continuing.

"Yeah..." The response was a sigh, as Levon didn't try to rouse himself enough to speak louder. He'd forgotten what it felt like, to delay the loving for as long as you could because this, just getting ready, could feel just as good. He reached out and put his hand on Joe's shoulder, wanting more contact with his lover as Joe undressed him.

In a very short time Joe had finished removing all of Levon's clothes and he stepped back to look his fill. Levon stood still, letting Joe look at him. Seemed foolish to try to hide himself, anyway despite the sudden doubts that struck him. 'What if he doesn't like what he sees? What if I'm not what he wants?'

The slow smile and heated gaze that Joe sent him quickly put to rest those doubts. Joe reached out almost shyly and ran one finger lightly down Levon's chest. "Definitely worth the wait," he said in a husky voice. Levon's stomach fluttered again. Damn butterflies. There were a thousand things he wanted to say. Smart remarks to hide his nervousness, soft ones to show how much he felt. Instead he pulled Joe towards him and kissed him, feeling the press of clothing all up against his naked body. Closing his eyes, Joe wrapped his arms tightly around Levon and kissed him with abandon.

It was, Levon would have freely admitted had anyone asked, one of the acts he found most arousing. To stand naked before a clothed lover -- once you got past the fears -- made him feel... he wasn't sure he could describe it.

All he knew was that if Joe didn't let go of him and get undressed as well, his lover was going to miss out. As if reading his mind Joe suddenly let go of him and stepped back, hands frantically working to divest himself of his clothes as quickly as possible.

Levon opened his eyes as his lover stepped back, and he watched with growing interest as Joe stripped. The man was beautiful. Truly, stunningly, beautiful. When Joe was standing naked before him Levon stepped up, placed a hand on his lover's face, and whispered it aloud.

The skin under Levon's hand warmed as his words caused his partner to blush. Joe reached out and mirrored Levon's position, caressing the other man's cheek gently. "You're the beautiful one," he said shyly, meeting Levon's gaze through his lowered lashes.

With a smile that fast became a grin, Levon tried to keep himself calm. At his lover's sudden confused look he let himself laugh. After a moment he quickly tried to explain. "Lord, don't this beat all? Never thought we'd be saying these things to each other...."

Joe chuckled at that. "Yeah, me too." He sobered a bit though after a moment before adding softly, "Doesn't make it any less true."

"I know." Levon looked at his lover, saw the expression the other man couldn't hide, the feelings that expression could only hint at. He grinned again. "Least we got undressed this time."

That elicited another chuckle. "So what we going to do now that we are?" "I can think of one or three things."

The grin Joe flashed him was positively incendiary. "Show me."

Levon took a hold of Joe's arms, stepped back pulling Joe across his hip, and tossed them both onto the bed. Levon landed on his side next to his lover. At Joe's stunned expression, he explained, "It's easier to show you down here."

"I think you just like tossing me around," Joe teased, reaching out and running a hand through Levon's hair.

"Maybe," Levon agreed, as he pushed himself on top of his lover. "Maybe I just like to see you lying naked on a bed." He lowered his head and gave Joe a hard kiss. Joe arched up into the body covering his, even as he returned the kiss with all the fire in his soul. He wrapped his arms around Levon and pulled him even closer.

Levon surprised by the intensity and speed at which Joe was trying to lose them both in the passion. The smile on the bookstore clerk's face couldn't come close to dislodging the way Joe's hands were holding him. His lover was making soft little sounds of satisfaction deep in his throat as they continued to kiss and move together, his hands skimming lightly over all of Levon's skin he could reach.

Nibbling gently at his lover's throat, Levon could feel the tiny vibrations on his lips each time Joe moaned. He found a spot where he could cause, and feel, those moans at the same time and stayed at that spot for a while.

Hands came to rest on Levon's backside, squeezing gently and pulling him tighter against his lover, at the same time Joe arched up against him, bringing their erections into close and electrifying contact. 'Have to remember that spot,' Levon told himself as they moved. He gave up thinking for a bit as Joe's hips ground upwards against him.

"Joe...." He moaned as he lifted his head, trying to gasp for breath. Joe murmured his partner's name breathlessly, eyes full of need, arousal and open affection meeting and holding Levon's. Going down for another kiss, Levon rubbed his erection against Joe's. The pressure was almost perfect, almost all he needed. As he let go the kiss he leaned to one side and slipped a hand between them. Pulling their cocks together he gently fingered the tip of each cockhead.

With a strangled cry, Joe shuddered and exploded, clinging to Levon like a lifeline. Feeling his lover bucking, Levon continued the movements with his fingers. It was amazing, seeing Joe like this -- so lost, so free. It made him want to stop everything and just look. As Joe slowly calmed down, his movements slowed and he captured Levon's lips again in a long sensuous kiss that conveyed all his unspoken feelings. It was the kiss -- strangely, it didn't feel that much different from all the others -- that brought Levon over the edge. Pushing against his lover, the world dissolved into an array of silence.


They laid there like that for a little while, wrapped in each other's arms.

Just as Levon was about to give in and suggest a shower, or at least the use of a towel, the phone rang. His lover groaned and rolled over to answer it.

"LaFiamma." There was silence, then Levon heard, "Got it. We'll be right there."

"We'll be right where?" He was already waking up, and wasn't sure he appreciated it.

"That was Dispatch. Beaumont says to get down there ASAP."

"Hell." Levon rolled onto his back, and gave himself two seconds of lazing before pushing himself up. "She say why?"

"No. Come on, Levon." Joe repeated, glint of humor in his eyes. "We definitely need to hit the shower before we leave."

"Well, in that case, I'm all yours." Levon grinned, and levered himself off the bed.

"We don't have time for much more than showering," Joe warned as he too got up.

"Spoilsport." Levon smiled and headed towards the bathroom, rubbing absently at the drying semen splattered on his stomach.

After a quick shared shower they returned to the bedroom to get dressed.

"You know, if we keep doing this I'm gonna have to start leaving clothes here." Levon looked at his dirty clothes with mild disgust as he picked them up.

Joe paused for a moment in his dressing. "Might not be a bad idea," he said neutrally as he resumed.

As Lundy quickly dressed he wondered at the offhand statement, and Joe's response. He didn't say anything as they got ready and left the apartment, wondering what in fact they had meant.


LaFiamma was quiet on the drive to the station, not even arguing over the radio station. Instead he seemed focused intently inward. Lundy was thinking as he drove -- his partner's silence contributed to his worrying. Joe hadn't sounded exactly thrilled at the thought of Lundy leaving things at his place -- maybe he'd agreed because it was easier than the alternative? He couldn't help but think of the girl, again. She'd smiled so wide -- why would Joe flirt with her?

Levon glanced over at his partner, and saw Joe's slight frown. "You sorry?" he whispered.

"Huh?" LaFiamma visibly pulled himself out of his thoughts. "Sorry for what?" he asked, confusion plain on his face.

"Nevermind." In a burst of cowardice he decided he didn't want to know. He wasn't ready to think about doubting Joe's intentions. Although if Joe were just having fun... but with whom? Him, or the girls he smiled so easily at?

LaFiamma shook his head. "Lundy..."

Maybe it was better if he knew, now. Up-front, before he got involved. Irrevocably involved, rather. "Joe? Why were you.. back at the bookstore, the clerk...." He took a deep breath. And couldn't ask.

"Why was I what?" LaFiamma asked truly mystified but able to sense that he had upset his partner in some way.

Levon stared ahead at the road. If he were wrong, Joe would yell. That was all right, yelling was nothing new. But if he were right... He shook his head. He couldn't ask what he really needed to know. So he asked the other. "Why were you flirting with that girl?"

If anything LaFiamma looked even more puzzled. "I was just trying to get some information out of her. I wasn't flirting." He frowned and asked more hesitantly, "Was I?"

Levon didn't say a word. His partner *had* been flirting, and it had bothered him. Still did, despite Joe's stated intentions. Levon had to decide whether it was worth saying so if his partner hadn't even noticed what he'd done. A hand reached out and tentatively touched Lundy's arm.

"Levon?" LaFiamma's voice was soft and concerned.

"If you weren't flirting then forget it." Levon said it curtly, not quite meaning to. He felt angry again but wasn't sure if he ought to be mad at Joe or himself.

"Can you?"

He glanced over at his partner. "What's that supposed to mean? I said, forget it. If you weren't flirting then you weren't." This was no good. The last couple of hours had been wonderful. Why was he trying to mar it by picking a fight? In a calmer tone he started, "Joe...."

"You thought I was, though." LaFiamma's tone was neutral giving nothing away of what he may be feeling.

"Yeah. It looked like you were and I didn't understand why. I.. I dismissed it as just being.. you know, appearing straight in public. I thought I had, anyway." He couldn't look at Joe, not sure if he was trying to hide the hurt, or the shame. Why was he reacting like this?

LaFiamma reached over and again touched Lundy's arm, but this time far from hesitantly. "I'm sorry," he said softly. "It was just... reflex." He shrugged helplessly. "It didn't mean anything."

"I don't know why I got bent all outta shape over it. I knew you weren't... at least I hoped you didn't mean anything by it."

"I wouldn't do that to you," LaFiamma said then stopped. After a moment he continued, "At least not again. Though after Callie I can see where you'd be suspicious."

"It ain't that," Levon said quickly. "I mean, it ain't just her. I.. hell, I don't know why it bothers me." He glanced over and saw his lover looking at him with a worried expression. "I guess it just worried me."

His partner nodded, obviously turning the whole thing over in his head. "What do you want me to do?" he asked simply after a moment, spreading his hands in a conciliatory gesture.

"It isn't something you can do anything about. I'm not asking you for any promises, asking you to change anything just to make me happy." 'Or am I?' He thought. They came to a red light and he stopped, looked over at Joe. "Just tell me where I stand?"

Joe took a deep breath, then reached out and grasped hold of Levon's hand. "Right next to me. You're my partner, my friend and... and more. I care for you Levon, a lot. You're the best thing that's happened to me in a long time. I don't want to blow that."

Levon was saved from having to respond by the light's turning green. He hadn't expected... well, hadn't expected the *sincerity* of Joe's words.

He had heard all the things Joe hadn't said, and for now he didn't mind. They might not be true, but for now... this was enough. He gave Joe's hand a squeeze. "Me too, Joe. Thanks."


the end


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