Harlequin's Slash Fic

Remorse

Title: Remorse
Author: Julien
Universe: Stingers
Characters featured: Peter Church/Bobby Tait
Category, Word count: Short story; 6631 words
Rating: NC17
Summary: Undercover cop Peter Church rescues a man from suicide, and finds himself fascinated by him – even after he discovers he’s a hitman.
Notes: This story is based in the Australian TV series Stingers, during a particular episode (The Last Hit) guest–starring Aussie heart–throb Gary Sweet as Bobby Tait. My muse insisted on me fitting an extra twenty–four hours into the storyline – but at least the first kiss is canonical! We don’t (or didn’t!) get all that many male/male kisses on Aussie TV, so I thought I’d make the most of this one …
The story was written for a friend of mine, who had at least half of the good ideas.
First published: 22 April 2004 in Homosapien 7

 

Remorse

 

The secret of good undercover police work, Peter Church reflected as he drove towards Bobby Tait’s old shotgun house, was creating a role that didn’t fall too far from the tree. Which meant that he was ideally placed right now – he’d become Bobby’s friend, he’d felt a personal interest in this man, long before he realised that Bobby was a hitman and long before Peter developed a professional interest in him as well.

To be honest, ‘long before’ wasn’t accurate – they’d met and spent time together twice before Peter looked his new friend up on the database and discovered the nature of Bobby’s career. Both times they’d met, Peter had saved Bobby from suicide. Which meant that ‘hitman’ wasn’t accurate either, or at least not any more – ‘ex–hitman’ was more like it. A young girl had been run down by a car as a result of Bobby attempting his latest job, as a direct result of Bobby gunning for Max Purdy, and the hitman had sat there in the road with the dying girl in his arms, waiting for the ambulance – and he’d finally stumbled across a full measure of remorse for what he had done with his life so far.

Remorse. Surely that was something a friend could help with. Surely that was something that didn’t need to be suffered alone.

Peter parked his car, and went to knock on Bobby’s front door. He could hear that music playing again – the dark mournful classical stuff that Bobby had chosen as accompaniment to both suicide attempts. It was morbid, that’s what it was. ‘Bloody music,’ Peter muttered to himself. Who wouldn’t feel like topping himself, listening to that?

Eventually, a half–awake, suspicious, bleary–eyed Bobby peered out. ‘I didn’t call you,’ he said, obviously wondering what on earth Peter was doing there.

Hefting a six–pack by way of invitation or apology, Peter just said, ‘Thought I’d drop by.’

Bobby let him in, and they headed for the lounge, where the stereo was turned right up. Peter asked, ‘What’s the music?’

‘That’s Bach. Bist du bei mir. Actually,’ Bobby added, ‘it was found in a notebook of music written for his wife Anna Magdalena. Some people say he didn’t write it, it was written by some other guy, but I’m pretty convinced it was Bach.’

‘Well, there you go.’ Peter tossed him a beer. ‘So, what do you do for fun around here …?’

They raced cars on Nintendo, and Bobby beat him without even trying – in fact, beat the crap out of him while laughing himself silly. ‘You could go easy on me,’ Peter protested.

Bobby sobered a little. ‘That’s not in my nature.’

 

Back at the squad room, Danni and Oscar were loitering in Ellen MacKenzie’s office, trying to puzzle through this whole Max Purdy mess. Oscar asked, ‘Does Church really think Bobby Tait’s going to give something up?’

MacKenzie shrugged. ‘Tait has no family, no friends, no girlfriend. Peter thinks he just needs someone to talk to.’ The justification sounded weak even to herself.

‘And he picks Church …’ Danni commented in sceptical tones.

The three of them exchanged glances. Peter Church of all people. ‘Yeah, well,’ Oscar said. Then he ventured, ‘If I didn’t know better, I’d think our Peter has a bit of a thing for this guy …’

Danni snorted with laughter. ‘Yeah, that’s another good one – Church at the mercy of his finer feelings.’

‘And if I didn’t know better,’ Mac added thoughtfully, ‘I’d believe him when he says Bobby Tait won’t ever kill again. Perhaps … Perhaps what he has a thing for, is the idea of a hitman having a genuine change of heart.’

Oscar just frowned at that. It was all too unlikely, not to mention confusing.

 

‘They’ll be back,’ Bobby said from the midst of his wrecked home, a couple of days later. Not that this bachelor pad hadn’t been a shambles before, but whoever turned it all over had done a thorough job. What the hell had they been looking for? Peter couldn’t figure it out.

‘Maybe we should go to my joint,’ Peter said. ‘You can tell me what this is all about.’ Which left his colleagues a little over twenty minutes to get the nearest safe–house wired for sound.

At the Hawke Street apartment, while drinking more beer, Bobby finally came clean to his new friend, unwittingly putting it on tape for the cops. Peter couldn’t have arranged it better if he’d tried. Bobby told him a whole lot of details – who he’d killed, and how, and who’d paid him to do it, and how disgusted he was with himself now. Nothing would ever be the same for this man.

‘It was my fault she got hurt,’ Bobby said about the girl. Lucy. ‘As I was holding her, I realised exactly the type of person I was. And I knew what I had to do.’

Peter nodded in empathy. Laid a reassuring hand on the man’s shoulder. Of course – Bobby only killed bad guys, the scum of the earth. And he’d finally realised that’s what he was, too.

‘But then,’ Bobby added with a sense of wonder, ‘you stopped me.’

What did you say to such rawness? Peter nodded again, struggling to find the right words.

But words weren’t called for. Bobby grabbed him by the back of the neck. Forced his mouth onto Peter’s. For the barest moment, for the scariest knee–jerk instant, Peter went with it – but then, when he came to his senses and tried to pull away, Bobby really bore down on him. Peter couldn’t breathe. It was the hardest – It was hard and ungenerous, and couldn’t be dignified by the term ‘kiss’.

Moments passed before Peter could finally break away, back away. Bobby was staring at him with a fierce, almost joyous kind of need. It was obvious that Peter had badly miscalculated somewhere along the line.

He took momentary refuge in the mundane, and fetched them another two beers. By the time he got back to the table, they were each feeling as apologetic as the other. Pete offered, ‘Sorry if you thought –’ They stumbled through a few disclaimers. ‘I like you, Bobby … It’s nothing like … Not like that, though, you know?’ Peter felt as pathetic as his words.

‘I don’t know why I did that,’ Bobby said, mystified. Then, disgusted – ‘I’m such a joke.’

‘No, you’re not a joke.’ Peter sat down opposite him, the width of the table between them. ‘You’re not a joke. And I’m, uh, flattered.’

‘I can’t even recognise friendship when it’s staring me in the face. I don’t know. I don’t know what I want any more. Who I am …’

They were silent, sipping at the beer. Then Bobby announced, ‘This is stupid. I’ve got a job to do.’

‘You’re going after Max Purdy, aren’t you? Because he ran down the girl.’ For that reason, if no other, Bobby wasn’t loath to commit his fourteenth murder.

‘He deserves it, a thousand times over.’ Bobby looked him dead in the eye. ‘And I’ve already been paid.’

‘You don’t have to do this. Right? You can stay here.’

Bobby stood up, angrily pushing the chair away. ‘Why would I want to stay here? Are you feeling sorry for me? Purdy’s out there looking for me, I’m looking for him – I may as well end it now.’

‘I thought that experience with the girl taught you something.’

‘You just don’t get it, and you never will! Go to hell!’

But, still, Bobby stood there by the table – furious, shaking, with a loaded gun in his hand, the one he made his hits with – he stood there only a metre away from Peter, he stood there not leaving. Bobby Tait stood there looking as if he wanted to destroy something. But he didn’t.

Peter carefully considered him. Bobby needed to take some downtime, he was in no state to make sane decisions. If he really let the girl’s death sink in, perhaps he wouldn’t even want to go after Purdy, let alone take on any other contracts, Peter was sure of it. If Peter could keep him here for a while, maybe a few lives would be saved – and, while Purdy’s wasn’t worth much, Bobby’s sure was.

‘I think you should stay here tonight,’ Peter said. He grinned when Bobby flashed him a look. ‘You can sleep on the sofa. I’m just talking about tonight. You can make your decisions in the morning, with a clear head. If you still want to go after Purdy tomorrow, maybe I’ll even go with you.’

‘I work alone.’

Peter shrugged. ‘OK. But stay here tonight, all right?’ He let out a laugh. ‘I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been getting much sleep lately … And being knocked out cold for a night doesn’t count.’

Bobby was staring at him, and already the anger was ebbing away. Finally he said, ‘You took it pretty well. Me telling you what I do. Other people would –’

‘I’m not other people.’

‘No, you’re the most persistent damned bastard I ever met!’

Peter laughed. ‘You got that right.’ And then even Bobby smiled, too, his mouth quirking like he couldn’t quite help himself. Into that moment, Peter said quietly, ‘I told you I’d done some bad things in my time, back when we first met. I told you I knew about that. I’m not so different to you.’

‘You reckon?’

‘When I was needing to turn my life around, I had a friend. He helped pull me through. That’s all, that’s the whole mystery about why I’m persistent – I thought I could do the same for you.’ It was a beautiful story, a perfect fit, and the best part was that it didn’t fall too far from the tree. Sometimes Peter loved doing this job.

Bobby’s anger had been so far undermined by now that he was close to sitting down again. ‘It’s true what they say about time,’ Peter murmured, ‘about how it heals all wounds. I can give you time, Bobby.’

In the event, Bobby veered away from the table and from being too close to Peter. He sat on the sofa, thoughtful. ‘That was it?’ he asked hoarsely. ‘God, I’m so mixed up. I don’t know what I want any more. That was why you kept coming round, why you wanted to help? I really did think it was because you liked me.’

Peter felt the tiniest of ironic smiles tug at his mouth. Hell, maybe he had liked Bobby ‘that way’, just a bit, right from the start. He could admit that to himself now. Bobby Tait was a handsome guy, and sharp, and unexpected. But that wasn’t the whole answer, and perhaps it could be left behind, forgotten. ‘It would take a hard heart,’ Peter levelly explained, ‘to see the pain you’re in, and just walk away.’

Another shake of his head. ‘There’s nothing but hard hearts where I come from.’

‘I know. Doesn’t mean I’m putting you on, though.’ Peter sat up straighter, and cleared his throat. A change of subject was long overdue. ‘I’m gonna order a pizza. Do you know what you want when it comes to pizza?’

That earned him a reluctant but genuine grin. ‘Yeah. The lot, with anchovies, on a thick base.’

‘Man after my own heart,’ Peter lightly replied, heading over to the phone on the kitchen bench. With his back to Bobby, Peter dialled his boss’s number.

‘MacKenzie.’

‘Hey, Mac, it’s Peter from down the road. Home delivery order, thanks.’

‘OK, I heard,’ she flatly replied. ‘We’ll get it. But, Peter, I don’t –’

‘Yeah, the usual, but two of them this time,’ Peter continued, even though Bobby was off in a contemplative world of his own, and didn’t seem to be paying any attention.

‘Look, pretend I’ve put you on hold. I need to talk to you.’

Peter sighed. ‘Sure, I’ll hold.’

It was the perfect opportunity for a one–sided tirade. ‘What do you think you’re doing? We’ve got a confession from him – this is over, Peter.’

It was a cordless handset, so Peter wandered further away from Bobby on the pretence of getting his wallet from his jacket pocket, and pulling out a twenty.

‘You should let us make the arrest now.’

‘Don’t,’ he whispered, with his back to Bobby. Avoiding the sibilant, he insisted, ‘It not over.’

‘What more information can you get from him without him becoming suspicious? You’re not thinking straight.’

He let out a breath of laughter at that, he couldn’t help himself. Straight – god, he suspected he’d left straight behind for a while there.

‘I’m recording all this,’ she warned him. ‘No matter what you get up to in there. For your sake. Because questions are going to be asked.’

‘Yeah,’ Peter said out loud. ‘OK, twenty minutes. See you then.’ And he hung up the phone.

Bobby was sitting on the sofa, thoughtful, almost a hint of peacefulness there in the set of his mouth. He looked up when Peter approached. ‘I’ll tell you what I do need,’ Bobby said.

‘Yeah?’

‘A shower.’

Peter turned away, trying to hide his untoward reaction. An image had assailed him – Bobby showering, soapy, wet, the room full of steam, the tiles slippery, dangerous. Peter there with him –

What the hell? He cleared his throat. ‘I’ll, uh – I’ll get you a towel.’

And as Bobby walked past Peter to pick up his overnight bag, the man smiled at him, mischievous, as if he could read Peter’s mind.

 

The phone rang as soon as Bobby was safely in the bathroom. ‘I want to know what you’re doing, Peter.’ It was MacKenzie, of course.

Peter headed for the furthest corner of the apartment, and kept his voice low. ‘He’s got plenty more he wants to talk about. We only had him down for ten hits, didn’t we?’

‘How on earth are you going to ask about the other three?’

‘Just give me time, Mac.’

‘I don’t know …’

‘Look, if I let him out on the streets again now, someone’s gonna get hurt.’

‘We should be arresting him.’

‘Not until we have more names. We want the guys who paid him, right? They’re the big fish. They’ll be running scared if we take him in now.’ Peter waited through a brief silence.

‘All right. But I still think you’re getting in way too deep here.’

‘Hey,’ he lightly replied, ‘did you or did you not hear me tell him he’s sleeping on the sofa?’

‘I heard you.’

‘Anyway, it’s not like you haven’t heard me in action before on a case.’

‘This is different,’ she insisted.

‘Look, he sprang that on me. I ran with it, but only as far as I had to, and that’s that.’ Peter heard the shower cut off. ‘Gotta go. Hey, is this place fully wired?’

‘No, we only had time to put one in. Near the dining table somewhere.’

‘OK.’ In a louder voice, Peter said, ‘Just so long as it’s on its way. Yeah, thanks.’ And he hung up.

Bobby was there, in nothing but boxers and a t–shirt, towelling his hair. ‘Is that the pizza?’

‘On its way. Thought I’d check.’

‘Good.’ A glint from those blue eyes, and Bobby was gone again. Peter let out a sigh.

 

There was a knock at the door a few minutes later. Peter opened it to discover Oscar with the pizzas.

‘Evening, sir. That’s twenty–five dollars.’

‘Oh, fuck off,’ Peter muttered with a grin. ‘It’s twenty, and you’re not getting a tip.’

‘Bloody typical … Ungrateful sodding customers …’

As Peter took the cartons, the delicious smell gave him pause for a moment. God, how long was it since he’d last eaten an actual meal? But then he remembered himself, and glanced back inside to make sure Bobby hadn’t resurfaced, before whispering, ‘Oscar, where’d you put the bugs?’

‘Bug, singular. Under a chair, the one nearest the kitchen.’

‘Thanks.’ Peter stepped back inside, ready to close the door to the world for the night.

But Oscar said, ‘Mac already told you that.’ It sounded like half an accusation.

‘Yeah. Just checking.’ And with his most winning smile, Peter shut the door in his colleague’s face.

 

They ate while watching TV, both of them too busy with the pizza to bother with conversation. And then Bobby took the empty cartons to the kitchen, fetched them another beer each. There was nothing much on the television, but neither of them cared. Peter let Bobby take charge of the remote, and he was so good at it that they managed to watch three different shows at once while avoiding all the ads.

Peter closed his eyes for a moment – and when he opened them, the late night talk shows were on, and Bobby had turned the sound down low so as not to disturb him. And Peter found he’d curled himself up on the sofa, and was drifting dangerously close to Bobby, with his head only this far from resting on Bobby’s shoulder.

He didn’t deign to leap away or anything. He’d gotten over that initial horror. He could even admit that they’d both had something to do with creating that misunderstanding. Peter cast a look up at Bobby – who was sitting there smirking a little, a not unlovely smirk. And only then did Peter pull away, draw himself upright, stretch out the kinks before settling again within his own space.

‘You’re just lucky I don’t drool in my sleep,’ Peter muttered, ‘seeing as you’re not wearing shoulder pads.’

‘Yeah, but you’ve got this real cute snore, mate.’

‘Huh.’

Peter couldn’t seem to keep his eyes on the TV. His gaze was drawn, time and again, to those long narrow legs cockily askew beside him. It was undeniable there was a certain tension in the air …

‘So,’ Bobby eventually said, ‘I’m sleeping here, on this sofa.’

Peter confidently replied, ‘Yep.’ As if there wasn’t a shadow of doubt about it.

‘Right …’ Bobby said with a light kind of scepticism.

To prove the point, Peter went to fetch a doona and pillows and all. The safe–house was meant to look like a genuine bachelor pad, but there were always plenty of essentials in these places, such as bedding and towels, just in case. For instance, if the whole squad had to hide out, there were only a handful of places like this where they could go.

Peter came back out with his arms full of bedding, and dumped it all on the chair at the dining table. The one nearest the kitchen. Just in case. And then, knowing it was potentially foolish but wanting to pretend to himself that he was perfectly safe, Peter headed back to the sofa. Sat down again next to Bobby Tait.

I reckon,’ Bobby said, ‘if I tried it on again,’ turning those blue eyes directly on Peter, ‘with you,’ he added, ‘you’d let me.’

‘Nah,’ Peter said, shaking his head.

Bobby was silent. Sure enough of himself to just sit there watching Peter with that not–unlovely smirk.

To his chagrin, Peter found himself needing to fill in the silence. ‘Look, it’s not that you’re not an attractive man, Bobby. I mean, I can see that, purely objectively.’

‘Yeah, right.’

‘It’s true! You look like what the rest of us want to be, and you know it. Big muscly shoulders, slim waist, long legs. You could have been on a catwalk somewhere.’

A genuinely amused snort of laughter. ‘You’re forgetting the balding head, the ugly face.’

‘Silver hair,’ Peter countered, ‘and who cares if it’s receding? Handsome face. And you know how to dress.’

‘I’m ten years out of date. My car, my clothes.’

‘Hey, I like it. Days of my youth.’ Peter sighed. ‘Yeah, back in the good old days when I looked more like you. Then I put on a bit of weight when I hit the wrong side of thirty. I got hefty.’

‘You say it like that’s a bad thing.’

Peter cast him a look. And then he finally came out with it. ‘You’re gay, aren’t you?’

‘I guess.’ Bobby shrugged, looked away. ‘I’ve never known anything else.’

‘Yeah. OK. Look, I’m not, Bobby. I’m honestly not.’

But then those blue eyes were directly on him again. ‘So, why are you sitting here waiting for me to try it on?’

‘I’m not,’ he stuttered.

‘What did you say before about walking on the wild side occasionally …?’

Peter winced. Talk about your Freudian slips … ‘Beer. The topic was drinking imported beer.’

The fellow doth protest too much, methinks.’

Shakespeare. This hitman, this ex–hitman who listened to Bach and played Nintendo and drank Melbourne Bitter and misquoted Shakespeare – he was drawing close, he was shifting closer to Peter, and Peter found that he wasn’t going anywhere. What had he advised Angie? ‘Throw caution to the wind.’ Well, Peter supposed he’d never been into preaching what he didn’t practice.

But Bobby did it the same way as before. Wrapping his tense left hand around the back of Peter’s skull, using brute strength to hold him there even though he’d said he was sure Peter would let him do this – forcing their mouths together.

It wasn’t good. It was too much, too hard, and way too far too soon. It wasn’t what Peter thought of when he thought of kissing, even allowing for the differences of this being a man rather than a woman. But he had to go with it. He couldn’t pull away again. He couldn’t bear sending Bobby into another fit of self–disgust. Peter began trying to respond to the kiss instead, opening his mouth, opening himself. Letting the fingers of his left hand creep over the cotton of the shirt, to find Bobby’s waist, discovering pliant skin and muscle there on the taut lean frame. Skin that quaked at his touch, muscle that painfully contracted even further.

It was Bobby who broke away this time, drew away, though he stayed on the sofa. ‘Enough,’ he said roughly. ‘Enough.’

‘All right.’

Bobby shook his head, despairing. ‘I don’t know any more, Pete. I don’t know anything right now. Maybe we should just get this over with. I won’t take long.’

Peter found himself laughing. ‘I wouldn’t boast about that if I were you, mate. Leastwise, it wouldn’t impress the ladies.’

Ignoring him, Bobby persisted, ‘We could just jerk off. Jerk each other off. Get it over with. If you’re not really like that.’

It was the most unromantic proposition Peter had ever heard, and he thought he’d witnessed the worst over years of staking out bars and brothels. And the suggested act itself wasn’t exactly what he expected or even wanted, not at all. He spared a thought for how well the doona might be muffling the bug. And he replied with a nod. A decisive nod. Then he stood, reached out a hand to Bobby; helped him up, led him down the hall to the bedroom. The bed.

Somehow their hands parted, and Peter found himself stranded somewhere in the room, the bed looming and Bobby pacing like a caged wildcat. Peter began fumbling with the buttons of his own shirt.

‘Don’t worry about that,’ came the gruff advice. Then Bobby was there, right there in Peter’s space again, taking charge, unbuttoning and unzipping Peter’s blue jeans, loosening them round his hips, pushing the waistband of his jocks down just a centimetre or two. With an arm round his waist, getting them both on the bed, on top of the covers, lying there next together. Plunging a hand down to grasp Peter’s cock.

‘God!’ Peter exclaimed, arching back, shocked at the too–sudden contact. He was already hard, rock–hard. How could he be so damned hard with so little provocation? It made no sense. He waited for what that hand might do, what that hand might dare do to him, half afraid and mostly in need. Gotta have it. Gotta have it now.

Nothing. There was nothing. Bobby had stilled. When Peter glanced at him, Bobby lifted a brow. ‘Tit for tat,’ he said. ‘Fair’s fair.’

‘Right.’ And before he could think too much about it, Peter shifted up onto his side so that he was facing this unexpected friend of his, that hand going with him; and then he was slipping his own hand down past denim and boxers to find Bobby’s cock just as hard, just as ready.

Bobby set the pace. His every move was smooth and practiced, while Peter fumbled a little, getting used to the motion required – it was like doing himself, only everything was the wrong way round. They settled into a firm and unrelenting pace, totally goal–oriented, almost as ungenerous as the kisses. But oddly enough it was good. Looking at Bobby while they did the deed made it good. Damned good. And it was damned quick, too, as promised.

They fell apart afterwards, and lay there not touching. Breathing hard. When he could, Peter commented, ‘Not so much a walk on the wild side, as a quick stroll, eh?’

Bobby laughed, but wryly.

Peter had always liked a cuddle after sex, and he didn’t suppose that should be so different to being with a woman … He shifted close again, snagged an arm around Bobby’s waist, shifted again as Bobby tentatively moved in, until they’d found somewhere comfortable between them.

And soon enough they weren’t just holding each other, but touching, stroking, even exchanging a few kisses that were gentler than their initial attempts. Eventually Peter observed, ‘You know, I don’t think that got it over with. I don’t think we’re done yet.’

‘Am I still sleeping on the sofa?’

‘No.’

Peter thought it amazing, really, how adaptable a human could be. A few days ago, before he met Bobby Tait, Peter would have said this was impossible, he would never sleep with a man. A few hours ago, he’d admitted the possibility, but was certain it wasn’t actually going to happen. A few minutes ago, he’d realised there wasn’t any part of him that was fighting it any more. Not a scrap, not one iota of him.

‘I’ll go lock up,’ Peter said, ‘turn the lights off in the lounge. All right? Don’t go anywhere.’

‘Right,’ Bobby said flatly, ‘and after all that beer …’

Peter chuckled. ‘OK, you can go to the damned bathroom.’

When he got back, Bobby hadn’t returned, but Peter could hear him splashing around at the sink as if washing himself again. Peter determinedly began stripping. Fully–clothed sex was for teenagers.

On Bobby’s return, the man stalled on the threshold, staring at Peter – who was naked and getting into the bed. A moment passed, and then Bobby turned out the bedroom light, too.

‘Whose benefit is that for?’ Peter asked, unable to see a thing now.

‘Mine.’

‘Huh. So hefty ain’t so great, after all?’

‘Don’t be stupid.’

Peter lay back. He could hear Bobby undressing, too, so at least he’d achieved that much. Soon the man joined him, and they shifted back into that comfortable hold. It was intoxicating, the feel of skin against skin, with the darkness exaggerating the senses of touch and sound and taste and smell. The stroking and kissing became more and more involved.

At last Bobby offered hoarsely, ‘You could fuck my thighs.’

‘Your thighs …?’ Peter repeated in bewilderment.

‘Yeah. Here, I’ll show you.’

Peter felt Bobby’s hands touching him, sliding down Peter’s thighs, encouraging them close together. And then Bobby was shifting on top of him, lying on top of him with his weight on his elbows and his legs straddling Peter’s, pushing his cock between Peter’s thighs. Beginning a slow thrust. Reaching down with one hand to wordlessly ask for more pressure, adjusting Peter’s legs to his liking …

‘Hey,’ Peter murmured in protest. ‘You said you’d show me.’

Bobby was breathing hard, already lost to the need being satisfied. The only reply was a muffled anguished groan.

‘I didn’t say you could do it to me,’ Peter added, despite knowing it was happening now, and would happen, no matter what.

Another groan, this time Peter’s name. Well, the diminutive of Peter’s name that Bobby used. ‘Pete …’ Which Peter hadn’t given him permission for, either. ‘Christ, Pete …’

Bobby’s thrusting was way beyond conscious control or design now, the man was going with the instinct, moving over Peter in the darkness, his breath harsh.

There was something lonely about it, something sad about Bobby’s urge to just run with his own needs, to meet them himself without expecting Peter to help. It seemed like a glimpse of what sex had been for Bobby over the years – quick and selfish and anonymous. ‘Oh, Bobby,’ Peter murmured – and he lifted his arms around Bobby’s broad shoulders, and drew him down closer so that it became a more mutual thing.

The man was near to finishing already; Peter could recognise that from knowing how it was for himself. Peter cupped Bobby’s head, drew him closer still so that he could press a kiss to the man’s temple. And then Bobby was groaning, inarticulate, burying his face against Peter’s throat as semen spurted and slid between Peter’s thighs …

God, the sheets were gonna be a mess. Peter grimaced, and put that problem aside for the cold light of day.

Bobby lay there on him, utterly spent, sprawling there in an uncontrolled way that Peter suspected – or maybe even hoped – was impossible for Bobby with anyone else. When the man’s breathing had quieted again, Peter said, ‘Yeah, mate, thanks for the demo.’

A snort of laughter matched his ironic tone. ‘Any time, Pete.’

‘So, the offer’s still open …? I can do that to you?’

Bobby lifted his head to look at Peter, and his blue eyes caught a glint of the light coming in round the edge of the blind. ‘Yeah.’ A self–satisfied grin was evident in his voice when he added, ‘Won’t be as good, though.’

‘Why not?’

‘I don’t have the thighs for it.’ A hand reached down to Peter’s thighs again, grasped appreciatively at the solidity of them. ‘You do.’

‘God, I should have known. There had to be a reason for you liking me because I’m hefty. It’s always been despite before …’ He let a moment or two go by. ‘But I can do that anyway?’

Bobby rolled off Peter, lay beside him. ‘How’d you want me? Front or back?’

‘Like you did it,’ Peter murmured, slowly shifting over, lost for the moment in the mere idea of lying on the man. Fucking him. Fucking his thighs …

‘Take your time,’ Bobby advised in indifferent tones, face turned away even in the dimness. ‘I meant it – scrawny pins weren’t built for this. But if you take the time to find the right angle …’

Peter said, ‘Hey, I’ll tell you something.’ He was just lying on the man now, at full stretch, and that feeling in itself was weird and wonderful enough. ‘I’ll tell you something, Bobby.’ He waited until Bobby looked up at him, apparently curious despite himself. ‘The thought of fucking your scrawny pins really does it for me.’

‘Yeah?’

‘Oh, yeah,’ Peter confirmed. ‘Cause I noticed them. I mean, before I knew we liked each other like that. Different to thinking you look like what everyone wants to be. I noticed your legs.’

Bobby let out a breath of laughter. ‘You are having me on this time.’

‘Don’t tell me you don’t want people to notice. Those black jeans, narrow–cut jeans, snug in all the right places. Those pointed black boots. I figured that out the first time I met you.’

A long moment of silence. And then Bobby tentatively lifted his arms around Peter’s back, just as Peter had done for him; began running his hands from shoulders to waist and up again. ‘Do it, then,’ he said roughly.

Peter began a gentle rocking motion, the barest preliminaries. There was something he particularly liked while making love to a woman, and why should this be any different? ‘Grab my butt,’ he whispered to Bobby.

A groan greeted this suggestion, as if it was the sexiest thing anyone had ever said to him. Bobby’s strong hands swept lower. ‘Come on, Pete – do me.’

And Peter Church was happy to oblige.

 

Peter had seen his boss furious a number of times, before this case and definitely during it. But those incidents were nothing compared to this cold anger. This was beyond her normal tirades. Way beyond. Which he supposed was fair enough, given that he had in fact made a judgement call he wasn’t entitled to make. Not that he was going to admit as much. He had the perfect alibi – what happened while he was unconscious wasn’t his fault.

‘This guy is a contract killer,’ MacKenzie insisted, frustrated with him for allowing anything else to outweigh the fact.

‘He was,’ Peter firmly replied. ‘He’s retired now, he’s not going to do it again – I know it.’

‘If you let him go, that would be unbelievably bad police work.’

It was a measure of MacKenzie’s anger that she came out with this inanity. Letting a killer go wouldn’t be any kind of police work at all, Peter thought. But he respected her too much to be that petty. ‘If I’d let him go,’ he said instead, ‘that’d be giving someone a second chance – and that’s just not in my nature, is it?’

They stared at each other for a long moment, both knowing that he’d let Bobby Tait walk away free, and both knowing that there was nothing she could do about it.

 

Peter’s mobile rang just past midnight while he was clearing up to go, with his report – at times smoothly lying by omission – already written and filed. ‘Church.’

‘Pete. You all right?’ Bobby, of course. Bobby, who now knew that Church was a cop.

‘Yeah,’ Peter replied. The last time Bobby had seen Peter, the cop had been knocked unconsciousness. Again. Unless Bobby was asking about the official shit Peter was in for Bobby’s sake.

‘Can you talk?’

‘No.’ MacKenzie was already looking at him askance.

‘Look, we should meet. One last time. OK?’

‘Sure.’

‘Down by the Yarra. Far end of that park I told you about. In two hours.’

‘OK.’ And he hung up. When MacKenzie lifted a brow, Peter shrugged. ‘Family. Always wanting something.’

‘Huh,’ she said, and headed back into her office.

 

It was cold enough for his breath to fog, but Peter didn’t give a damn about that. Early for the rendezvous, he strolled along the river bank, watching the water slide along black beneath an moonless sky. The Yarra was far more attractive at night; in daylight, it never looked anything but muddy.

Bobby had mentioned once that he came to this park when he needed to think. At the time, Peter had wondered if Bobby told him that just in case the ex–hitman ever needed rescuing from another suicide attempt. Anyway, it made for a covert meeting place, and that was the important thing right now.

Despite Peter being early, he found Bobby was already there waiting for him. They stood there looking at each other for a long moment. What to say? Bobby seemed more at peace than Peter had ever seen him. Apparently everything was gonna work out fine.

‘I, uh, I didn’t know what you’d need,’ Peter eventually said. ‘I brought some money, in case you’re short. You know, for starting a new life, and all that.’

‘Nah, I’m fine,’ Bobby said. ‘But, thanks.’

‘You need any help? Getting out of Australia?’

‘It’s all sorted.’

‘Yeah?’

‘I always had plans. Just in case.’

‘Right.’ Peter found himself shuffling his feet. Pathetic. Oddly enough, he didn’t mind being pathetic around Bobby.

‘Brought something for you,’ Bobby said. And he held out a CD. ‘I don’t need it any more.’

Peter took it, tilted the cover so that it caught what little light was available. It was the Bach. He looked back up at his friend. ‘Ah, mate.’ Peter knew he was grinning like a fool. ‘That’s good. You know who you are again? You know what you want?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Did I help with that?’

Bobby rolled his eyes in exasperation. ‘You know you did, cop. Persistent bastard.’

But then Bobby seemed to reconsider; perhaps he wanted to answer the question seriously. He stepped forward, slipped his left hand around the back of Peter’s skull. And kissed him. It was the gentlest Bobby had been with him yet. When their mouths parted, Bobby kept him there, forehead to forehead. And he whispered, ‘Never knew anyone like you before, Pete.’

‘Hell, that goes double for me.’

‘The pain has gone. Remember that, all right? The pain has gone.’

And that was that. Bobby let him go, nodded a farewell, turned away. Peter stood there, watched him disappear into the darkness at the far end of the park, watched him disappear into his new life.

Then Peter turned away to head back to his car, wondering where Bobby would wind up. Europe, sipping espresso in a café on a piazza, long legs stretched out before him as the world passed by? South America, shirtless and soaking up the sun, drinking beer and watching the carnival madness?

Peter shrugged. His own plans were far more mundane – home for a shower and a change of clothes before clocking in for work. Maybe there’d even be time for a quick snooze. Peter half–suspected he’d never sleep poorly again. God, he had it bad for that guy.

 

Danni walked into the office and found that, despite it being rather early in the morning, someone was playing the most beautiful choral music. Peter Church of all people. Who’d have pegged him as a classical buff? He was sitting back in his chair, letting the voice and the tune wash over him. He seemed … content, which was even odder than the music.

‘That’s nice,’ Danni said to him, as she put her bag down on her desk and started checking through her in–tray. ‘What is it?’

‘Bach. Bist du bei mir. It was in a notebook of music he wrote for his wife Anna Magdalena. Some people say he didn’t write it at all, that it was written by some other guy.’ Peter paused for a moment, and then declared, ‘But I have a friend who’s convinced it’s Bach.’

Somewhere in the middle of all that, Danni had found a certain report waiting for her. Despite the warmth of the office, and the latte she’d drunk on the way to work, she suddenly felt cold. Barely acknowledging Peter’s lecture with a ‘Right’, she headed for MacKenzie’s office.

‘Seen this?’ Danni handed the report over. ‘Body found in the Yarra this morning. Single bullet in the head. Tentatively identified as Bobby Tait.’

The two women instinctively turned to look out at Peter, obliviously swaying to the music.

Danni added, ‘I haven’t told him yet. Do you want me to?’

‘No,’ Mac replied. ‘No, I’ll do that.’

They looked at Peter again. All was so obviously right in his world. For now. As Danni walked back into the main office, she heard Mac mutter ‘I’ll do it later’. And their boss returned to whatever she’d been working on.

Peter was happily, tunelessly humming along with the soprano now, unaware that this had become a requiem. Danni sighed, and got on with her own work.

Posted in: Slash fic, Stingers

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