Nickie Elder stared into his beer, the cold amber fluid promising to wash away the stress of the day in one soothing gulp. Not that he didn't like being the Chief Medical Examiner, but occasionally he had the need to spend some time with people that actually had a pulse.

There had been a rash of tong wars, so for the last week he'd been busy taking care of the bloody aftermath. Now it was Saturday night and he was determined to forget about work and have himself a good time. Though, how that had led him to the Falcon Club, a bar that catered to a solely male clientele, he didn't know.

The coroner had heard of the club before, but this was the first time he'd actually had the nerve to come in. Maybe it was because of his stressful week, or maybe it was the fact that he was tired of denying who he was that finally brought him. Nickie suspected it had more to do with the latter than the prior.

Nickie had always been careful to conceal this particular aspect of his private life. After all, when one came in contact with the cops on a regular basis, they have to be careful. Nickie wasn't foolish enough to believe that there weren't still a lot of the 'old school' attitude on the force, and didn't want the hassles of being known as the 'queer doc' they had to deal with. Although he had a number of people he considered friends from the 101st, he didn't take the chance on even letting them know about his lifestyle choices.

Actually, hiding it had become something he'd perfected in medical school. Before he'd ever made it out of Grad school, he'd not tried to hide it, figured that it wasn't anyone else's business whom he slept with. That was until several Frat brothers found out one night and decided to 'make' it their business. Nickie had been beaten to a bloody pulp and the Frat boys had gotten a slap on the wrist. Nickie had even been threatened with expulsion if he pressed charges against any of the boys, having been told that the college didn't want any 'unfavorable press' over the matter, but would pay for his medical bills. It was then that Nickie faced the harsh realities of how the real world worked when you were 'different'.

It didn't take him long in medical school to set up the reputation of Campus Romeo. He'd started dating women with a vengeance, going out every chance he'd get with any woman who happened to say yes to him. The rouse had worked; nobody had questioned him and never suspected when he'd started up a relationship with Tyler, a sweetly shy student. Unfortunately the relationship turned sour when Nickie wanted to keep the relationship a secret...demanded it in fact. It was more stress than Tyler could handle, so he'd broken it off their Sophomore year. Nickie still thought about him, and wondered what it would have been like if things could have been different.

After Tyler, Nickie resumed his dating of the female persuasion, and no one was any wiser. Often, Nickie would feel bad about dating these woman, but he reminded himself that he never lead any of them on and that he'd actually developed some fond friendships with a few of them. It helped ease his guilt a bit.

The thing was, once the mask was in place, it was hard to shake. Even after graduation, when he should have felt like he had more freedom, he still continued the Lothario persona...having honed it to a fine skill. It had become comfortable, a role he'd fallen into that settled around him like an old pair of jeans. It still didn't change the fact that he was pretending to be someone he wasn't.

It was the constant fear that nagged at him. That someone would see under the mask so firmly set in place, and realize that Nickie, the woman chaser, Elder might do a lot of chasing, but never actual catching. He knew deep down the fear of being found out was what made him try so hard to keep the image in place...too hard sometimes.

/So why am I risking it all by ending up in a gay bar?/ he asked himself, letting another sip of the cool liquid slide down his throat. /Because, I'm tired of hiding, sick of it,/ he thought as he slammed the heavy glass down on the black lacquered bar.

The pounding music from the jukebox flowed around him, he could feel the vibrations from the floor through his stool. All around him were couples dancing, swaying, men kissing, hands being held - the figures muted in the soft lighting and haze of smoke. Couples were being paired off as the hour grew later and later.

Once more, Nickie wondered what he'd even hoped to have found in coming here. Was he just trying to prove something to himself or had he actually hoped he'd meet someone and that for once in a long time, Nickie wouldn't end up sleeping alone? Nickie sighed heavily and took another swallow of his beer and admitted to himself that it might have been a combination of both.

"Hey, Nickie, can I buy you another beer?"

Nickie shook off his thoughts and glanced up at Eric Logan, a rather large man whom he'd danced with earlier. Eric was the basketball coach at the University, and while he was nice enough, just not Nickie's type. Unfortunately the man didn't seem to take hints very easily.

"Sorry, Eric, I'm just going to finish this one and head on home," Nickie told him wearily.


The basketball coach put his hands on Nickie's shoulders and slid them slowly down his arms. Nickie tried to pull free, but the grip was solid. Eric leaned in close to Nickie's ear and whispered. "You could always come home with me, you know."

Nickie squeezed his eyes tightly, trying hard to fend off the headache that was taking root behind the bridge of his nose. "Look Eric, you're nice and everything, but I'm just not interested tonight, all right?"

Nickie opened his eyes and saw a flash of something menacing dart across the other man's sky-blue eyes. The fingers on his arms dug in a little tighter.

"That's definitely not the impression I got earlier out on that dance floor," Eric growled out.

All right, so maybe he 'had' gotten a little carried away while they were dancing. It had been so long since the last time Nickie had been held in strong, masculine arms and it had felt so good. That still wasn't any excuse for the way the guy was acting now.

"Look, I'm sorry if I gave you the wrong idea, it wasn't my intention, all right?" Nickie said, roughly pulling loose of the other man's grip.

"Wrong idea? It didn't *feel* like the wrong idea when you were up against me out there," Eric challenged, moving in alarmingly close.

Nickie was about to speak when he heard a very familiar voice come from behind him.

"Hey, buddy, what is it about the concept of 'no' don't you get? Or is that just one syllable too many for your little mind to wrap around?"

Nickie looked over his shoulder and his eyes went wide when he saw Peter Caine standing next to him. The police officer had a hard expression on his face and his hazel eyes were narrowed in a look that had gained confessions from the lowest of society's scum.

"And you are?" Eric asked.

"His date," Peter said as calmly as if he'd been asked how the weather was. One of his hands came down possessively on Nickie's wrist. "I don't want any trouble either, but...." He let the sentence hang as he pulled back the tail of his black leather jacket and showed off the police badge pinned to his black jeans.

Eric's eyes ran up and down Peter, a sneer curling his lip. "Have it your way. He isn't worth it." With one more glare shot at Nickie's direction, the basketball coach turned and left.

Nickie watched Eric's back until he was out of the door, then it finally hit him just who it had been that interrupted them. What on earth was Peter Caine doing *here*? Maybe he'd had a flat tire or something and just came in to use the phone? Yeah, there had to be some kind of explanation for it.

His eyes swung over to the police detective. Peter was wearing a maroon dress shirt under his leather jacket and it looked good on him. Nickie looked up into Peter's amused hazel eyes. God, what was he suppose to say now?

"Thanks, Pete," Nickie said finally, his eyes shifting back to his beer. It was safer than trying to meet Peter's eyes.

To the coroner's surprise, Peter took a seat on the stool next to him and motioned to the bartender. "No problem, the guy looked like a creep."

"Yeah, nothing I couldn't have handled, though," Nickie said, sipping his drink. His mouth had turned incredibly dry for some reason.

The bartender slid a frosted mug in front of Peter. "True, but sometimes back-up can come in handy, you know?"

A heavy silence fell around them as each man studied their drink. Nickie was dying to find out why Peter was here, like an itch that he couldn't ignore. And what was that bit about being Peter's date? He had to have said that just to get Eric off their back. He wanted to ask so badly, but he didn't want to make Peter uncomfortable with asking him questions the officer might not want to answer.

"Just ask me, Nickie," Peter murmured over the rim of his drink.

Nickie blinked. "Wh...what?"

Peter turned on the stool to face the doctor. "Nickie, I've known you long enough to know what it means when you get that look on your face. You want to ask me something, so just do it," Peter told him, his tone gentle.

Damn, what had he expected from someone with the astuteness of a detective? "I guess I'm see you here, that's all," Nickie hesitated. "Why *are* you here?" he blurted out.

Peter chuckled. "Probably pretty much for the same reason that everyone else is here tonight," the officer responded.

Nickie tried to let that soak in. Peter Caine was.... That just wouldn't connect for him. Peter was 'always' out with a lady on his arm, or having ladies practically throwing themselves into his arms. Though, was it possible that Peter was doing the same thing 'he' was and just didn't want to let anyone know about his preferences? But still...Peter Caine? As his mind grappled with all the thoughts warring in his head, he hadn't noticed that his fingers were drumming in time to the tune playing in the background...until he felt Peter's hand covering them.

Tilting his head towards some of the empty tables towards the back of the bar, Peter said, "C'mon, lets go talk somewhere where there aren't so many ears around."

Nickie followed Peter to the furthest booth and slid in across from him. Nickie's downcast eyes studied the lukewarm beer in front of him. Shifting his eyes upwards, he noticed Peter was studying him, keen eyes reading the questions hanging between them.

"So you want to know what I'm doing here, huh? Peter asked with a hint of a smile as he sipped his drink.

Nickie fidgeted a little under Peter's hazel discerning gaze. "Well, it's just that you've always struck me as such the ladies man, you know?" His eyes met Peter's. "I mean, it seems like you've got them lined up around the block just to go out with you since you and Kelly broke up. I also know that you were planning on asking Rebecca to marry you, and...." Nickie paused as he saw the flash of pain streak across Peter's face at the mention of the late assistant D.A that Peter had cared for deeply. /Shit, put your foot in your mouth again, why don't you, Elder?/ Nickie berated himself.

The ghost of past pain remembered dulled Peter's eyes, but only for a moment. "I did love Rebecca, and I did want to marry her," he said, his voice a little gruff and hardly audible over the music in the background. "And I do like woman, but I don't limit myself." Peter had always believed that a romantic relationship wasn't something that should have boundaries, whether religious, racial...or because of sexual orientation. He shrugged a shoulder and added, "Besides, the rumor that I'm the precinct's Casanova is highly over- exaggerated." In all honesty, Peter *did* date a lot, that much was true, but the number of women he'd actually slept with since his break-up with Kelly could be counted on one hand. He was looking for something in particular, craved something that almost seemed intangible, but just because it was hard to come by, didn't mean he was willing to settle.

"So..." Nickie really had no idea what to even say to that. Of course, was his behavior so different back in college? "Does anyone at the precinct know?"

Peter sipped his beer. "A few do, a select few," Peter responded. He'd never tried to hide what he was to anyone, but he didn't have Sandra Mason blabbing it in one of her news broadcasts either.

Nickie's eyes searched Peter's. "Doesn't it ever bother you that they know?"

"Why should it?" Peter asked. "I've got nothing to be ashamed of."

", I didn't mean it like that," Nickie said quickly. "It's just that, well, in your line of work that information could end up being dangerous to your health." As the coroner, he'd seen more than one cop come by on the slab who had been the victim of 'late back-up', or 'caught in friendly fire'. The fact they had been out-of-the-closet gays was, of course, just a coincidence.


Peter leaned in closer across the table. "I trust everyone in the 101st with my life, the ones that know as well as the ones that don't. And even if they all knew, I know nothing would change when it came on depending on them to cover my back." Peter momentarily thought back to a conversation he'd had with Kermit...he knew his friends would never let him down. They'd all faced their baptism by fire as a team on a number of occasions and there was an unshakable bond there...they were family.

"You've got a lot of faith in them," Nickie commented. He was touched at the level of trust Peter had for his colleagues. It was obvious in the conviction of his tone that Peter believed what he said. Nickie hoped Peter would never be proven wrong.

"Yeah, yeah I do," Peter confirmed, draining the rest of his beer. "So what about you? I didn't expect to see you here either."

"Yeah, well I decided I needed a change tonight, myself," Nickie mumbled. "I'm tired of pretending, Pete."

Nickie felt the hand that rested on his tightened its hold briefly.

"Nickie, you shouldn't have to pretend," Peter told him. "As my pop would say, we must all strive to embrace the truth. Even if it's the truth about ourselves."

"Yeah, that's easier said than done sometimes, Pete," Nickie commented dryly, frowning as his thoughts turned inwards.


"What's your other options? Making yourself miserable? Hardly seems right to me," Peter retorted.

Nickie took a long look at the detective. The man he saw before him seemed so secure and confident about who he was, accepted everything about himself. Vaguely he wondered how much of that confidence was attributed to the return of Peter's father. Maybe if Nickie had had a father like Caine, he'd be a different person too.

"If you keep fighting who you are, it's going to eat you alive, Nickie, trust me," Peter said softly.

The look that flickered across Peter's features let Nickie know he was speaking from personal experience. Maybe Peter hadn't always been so sure of himself after all.

"Enough about that," Peter said abruptly. "Tell me about the creep that was bothering you earlier."

Nickie blushed a little and shrugged. "Not much to tell you about. He seemed nice at first, and so I went ahead and had a dance with him." Nickie's blush deepened slightly. "When he started getting a little too free with his hands, I told him to take a hike. I guess he didn't appreciate it."

"Yeah, well he obviously wasn't too brilliant anyway," Peter commented.

"What do you mean?"

"When he said you weren't worth it," Peter responded. "He obviously didn't have a clue to what he was talking about."

Nickie just knew his face had to be fire engine red with the heat he felt flaming against his cheeks. He swallowed the hard lump blocking his throat. "Um, so is this some of that infamous Peter Caine charm I'm being subjected to?"

Peter just shrugged. "Just stating the truth as I see it."

Suddenly the large bar felt much too tiny, the heat of all of its patron's sweltering hot, and he wasn't able to pull his eyes away from Peter's penetrating gaze.

"Hey, doesn't that mean that you've still got a dance coming to you?" Peter asked.


"A dance," Peter repeated. "If you left the creep on the dance floor, you didn't get to finish your dance," Peter said, a soft smile playing on his face. "So, do you want to finish it?"

Nickie stared. "You want to dance with me?" he asked incredulously.

Peter chuckled a little. "Yeah, that's what two people usually do on a dance floor. And I promise, I may not be Fred Astaire, but I'll try not to step all over your feet either." The cop's eyes danced with merriment. "What do you say?"

Nickie opened his mouth, not sure what was going to come out of it, when he said, "Sure, why not?"

Standing up, Peter waited for Nickie to rise, then took his hand and led them to the crowded dance floor. Finding an empty space, Peter pulled Nickie into the circle of his arms.

The beat of the music was slow and driving as Nickie tried to relax in Peter's embrace. He felt the eyes of other couples dancing, knowing their eyes were focused on Peter...yet Peter was dancing with him tonight.

The sultry voice of the singer wrapped around them as Nickie gave in to the urge to rest his chin on Peter's shoulder after Peter had pulled him in closer against him. Nickie's feet moved to the beat, trying to match Peter's fluid, graceful lead.

Nickie felt Peter's hand resting at the small of his back as they swayed to the tune. The officer's touch was so warm, it was like the heat of a candle held close, radiating from its concentrated spot of heat to travel the path up Nickie's spinal cord. It was such a comforting feeling, the heat mimicking the warmth of Peter's breath against his neck.

There was hardly any space between them as Peter pulled Nickie even closer. With their chests pressed against one another's, Nickie could feel the steady pounding of Peter's heart that was in tune with the tempo of the song.

Nickie felt himself starting to melt against Peter's solid body, and trying hard to ignore the pressure of Peter's hips against his own. /Watch it, Elder, remember this is your friend, Peter, here, don't go doing something stupid./ Yet for all his warnings, he couldn't deny how good it felt to have Peter holding him so close, enjoying the feel of the other man's strength.

Peter's breathing brushed through his hair as Nickie pressed his face against Peter's throat, feeling the even pulsing of Peter's jugular against his lips. The scent of Peter's spicy after-shave filled Nickie's nostrils as they swayed back and forth against each other.

Almost against his will, Nickie found his thoughts wondering over various fantasies he'd had that consisted of Peter Caine and moments similar to this one. He'd tried so hard to hide the attraction he'd always felt for the cop since the first time they'd met. Peter cared about people, had a great sense of humor, and there was no denying his attractiveness...and that just the beginning. /So what would you ever have to offer him? Wake up and stop dreaming, Nickie-boy,/ his inner voice warned him. The other part of his mind warred with him and reminded him that he 'was' on the dance floor in the arms of a very real Peter Caine.

All the other couples seemed to phase out of sight to Nickie, leaving him and Peter the only ones on the dance floor. Their bodies moving as one as their feet kept time with the rhythm. For just a few moments, Nickie allowed himself to give in to the fantasy, imagining that Peter 'was' his date, that the man holding him held him tight because they were together and Peter wanted to be with him. In moment that seemed endless and over in a heartbeat, the song was over.

With the moment broke, Nickie pulled back to look into Peter's eyes, not quite ready to let go yet.

"I guess I should get going," Peter said, sounding almost regretful. "I've got to work early tomorrow."

Nickie looked away to the others on the floor, dropping his arms from around Peter. "Yeah, I should probably be leaving too, it's getting late."

"Okay, I'll walk you to your car then," Peter said.

"You don't have to do that," Nickie responded as they started making their way through the crowd to door.

"I want to," Peter stated in a voice that left little room for argument.

They walked in silence out into the night, greeted by the cool fresh evening air. Nonchalantly, Peter swung his arm around Nickie's shoulders as they wove their way through the rows of cars, Nickie spotting his gray Cierra.

"Oh, shit!" Nickie exclaimed, trotting the rest of the way to his vehicle.

All four of his tires had been shredded to ribbons. Shaking his head in disbelief, Nickie noticed that wasn't even the worst of it. From under his hood, which was standing wide open, there were spliced wires coming from every area of the engine possible, hung out like strands of multi-colored spaghetti.

"I don't believe this!" Nickie exclaimed, kicking at one of the deflated tires. He just knew Eric Logan was responsible for this damage. "Damn him!"

Peter came up behind him and placed his hands on both of Nickie's shoulders reassuringly. "Hey, it could be worse."

"Yeah, how?" Nickie snapped, his eyes sweeping back and forth to survey the extent of the damage.

"He could have taken it out on you instead of the car," Peter said solemnly.

With that, Nickie turned and looked up at Peter, a shiver of fear running through him when he realized the truth behind Peter's words.

"Come on, I'll drive you home and make a report out for you tomorrow," Peter offered, already steering Nickie to his Stealth.

The short ride back to Nickie's apartment was made in virtual silence, both Peter and Nickie settling into comfortable quietness. Nickie watched the lights flash by, reflected and dispersed against the fine mist of rain that had started to fall from the dark night sky. All too soon, Peter had maneuvered the Stealth against the curb next to Nickie's building.

"Here we are," Peter commented, the first to break the silence.

"Yeah, I guess we are," Nickie murmured, not bothering to reach for the handle to the door. "Thanks for the ride."

"No problem," Peter murmured back. "You going to be all right?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine. I'll be happier once that report gets filled out though," Nickie said.

"Don't worry, I'm not planning on letting Eric get away with this," Peter reassured him.

"Thanks a lot, I appreciate it, Pete," Nickie said, his hand poised over the handle. Suddenly he lowered it and looked over at Peter. "Hey, you want to come in for coffee?"

Peter smiled, the pale yellow street light casting shadows over his features. "Sure, I guess I could come up for a few minutes."

As Nickie led Peter up to the door of his apartment and fumbled around in his pocket to fish his key out, he wondered what in the world possessed him to ask Peter up to his apartment. He wasn't sure why he'd done it, except that he just wasn't quite ready to let go of the evening just yet.

Pushing the door open, Nickie reached for the lights, immersing his tiny apartment in bright light. Shrugging off his jacket, he hung it up in the closet and took Peter's coat.

"Make yourself comfortable and I'll get the coffee brewing," he told Peter, watching as Peter took a seat on his over-stuffed sofa.

"Mind if I make a fire?" Peter asked, his eyes landing on Nickie's fireplace that took up one wall of his living room.

"Help yourself," Nickie responded, making his way to his small, but efficient, kitchen.

In the other room, Nickie could here the sounds of Peter crunching some paper for the fire and smiled to himself. It might be a nice night after all. There was no way he'd come on to Peter, wouldn't put their friendship in jeopardy that way, but at least he may have another hour or more of conversation with the other man. That didn't bother him at all, he'd love the chance to get to know Peter even better. Somehow, Peter made him feel like the cop really understood him and Nickie appreciated that more than Peter could realize.

His thoughts elsewhere, Nickie moved to take the can off a top shelf, but instead knocked off a glass jar that shattered and sliced his hand open. Yelping in pain, he ran off to the bathroom, started running water and it letting spray over the cut...which made him yelp a little more as it hurt.

Glancing over, Nickie noticed Peter standing in the doorway, concern showing on his face.

"Are you okay?" the cop asked, moving into the bathroom next to Nickie.

"Yeah, I just cut my hand, that's all," Nickie muttered. /God, he probably thinks I'm such a clumsy idiot, why didn't I pay attention to what I was doing?/ Clamping his jaw tight against the pain, Nickie let the water finish cleaning out the wound.

"Let me look at it."

Peter took the injured hand in his own, dabbing it dry with a soft towel as Nickie hissed a bit. "There, its not that bad of a cut," Peter murmured softly, Nickie finally looked up to meet his eyes, and realized just how close Peter is standing next to him...only a inch or so away...the feel of Peter's hand still holding his.

"Got any salve?" Peter asked softly.

"Salve?" Nickie asked a little breathlessly.

"Yeah, salve to put on the cut?" Peter said, smiling a little.

Nickie shook his head and snapped out of his thoughts long enough to point at the medicine cabinet. Nickie watched spellbound as Peter found some salve and tenderly caressed it over the small wound, then took the gauze and gently layered it around his hand, securing it was a bit of tape.

"There you go, good as new," Peter said.

Nickie could swear he could here a bit of huskiness in Peter's tone. "Hey, who's one with the M.D. around here anyway?" Nickie asked, his own voice faltering just a little.

Peter shrugged. "Guess it's in the genes. Like father, like son, you know."

Nickie was still acutely aware of how close they still were, and that Peter's thumb was brushing maddening back and forth across his knuckles. "Well," Nickie's voice cracked a little and he paused for a second. "Thanks," he murmured, working his hand a little to make sure the bandage wasn't too tight. He started to move past Peter, only to find Peter wasn't moving. "Pete?" He looked up questioningly into hazel eyes.

"You forgot the most important part," Peter said softly.

"What's that?" Nickie whispered.

"Kissing it to make it better," Peter whispered back.

Nickie watched with dazed eyes as Peter raised his hand to cup his cheek and tilted his head up, thumb rubbing across Nickie's jawbone as Peter's dark head lowered to cover Nickie's lips.

Nickie's heart stopped in his chest and his lungs couldn't function as Peter's soft lips brushed over his own. In the back of his mind, Nickie thought that this could *not* be happening, that Peter Caine was *not* standing in his bathroom, and definitely was *not* kissing him...he was having a hallucination, that's all there was to it, it had to be. But then Peter's mouth started nibbling gently on his and Nickie promptly stopped thinking all together. If this were a hallucination, what would it hurt to play it out?

Peter's tongue sneaked out and trailed back and forth over Nickie's bottom lip as Nickie's hands ran up Peter's broad back. He could feel powerful muscles and heat under the dark maroon cotton as Peter drew him closer. Nickie felt Peter's tongue pushing and opened his mouth to let the detective have complete access to whatever he wanted. Apparently, Peter wanted it all, because when his tongue invaded, he tasted ever inch of Nickie's mouth. He brushed against the smooth enamel of Nickie's teeth, tasted the silky lining of his cheek, and finally wrapped around Nickie's tongue to suckle on.

Nickie's head was swimming, he felt like he was falling and probably would have if he hadn't been grounded by the pair of steeled arms around him, holding him sandwiched against Peter's firm body and his bathroom sink. He couldn't believe how good the police detective some kind of exotic spice with just a touch of beer they'd shared. One of the hands on Peter's back snaked up and stroked the nape of his neck, Nickie loving the feel of how soft Peter's hair was against his fingers.

Finally, the need for air was too much and he forced himself away, tearing his head back, from that all-consuming kiss. His vision was a bit fuzzy when he stared up into Peter's eyes.

"Um, Pete?"

"Yeah?" he asked softly.

"Look Peter, I really like you...a lot, and I don't know what to make of all of this. I mean, I've wanted you for so long and everything, but just too afraid to tell you, and then tonight when I saw you in that bar, I thought I'd finally lost it. I mean, I never thought there would ever be a chance...and now this, and I'm just not wanting to screw it up or anything, you know? I mean you mean too much to me as a friend now to....mumph!"

Nickie's chatter was effectively silenced when Peter bend down for another kiss, sealing his mouth over the coroner's. Nickie's surprised gasp gave way to a soft moan as he felt himself melting against Peter's frame. The police officer's hands gently ran up and down Nickie's back, squeezing slightly, and holding him close.

When the kiss ended, Peter pulled back and smiled down at the other man. "Nickie?"

"Yeah," he croaked.

"Where's your bedroom?"

Not trusting himself to speak, not wanting to say anything that would disturb this wondrous dream he seemed to have happened upon, Nickie took Peter's hand in his uninjured one and led the officer out the of the bathroom and guided him towards the small room next to it.

The small bedroom was already lit with the iridescent glow of a full moon shining through the window. The moon's light casting pale shadows over the hard wood floor and the bed that sat underneath the window. Nickie didn't bother turning on the light as Peter pulled him closer to his full sized bed.

Toe to toe, chest to chest they stood, hazel eyes looking deeply into dark brown. Nickie's thoughts swirled through his mind. He wanted this with ever fiber in his being, but what if it destroyed their friendship? What if they made love and tomorrow Peter realized it was all some big mistake? He wouldn't be able to stand the look of disdain...or worse...pity, in Peter's eyes when they were forced to work together.

While all these thoughts were rushing through his mind, Nickie found himself once again wrapped in the circle of Peter's arms. The police officer was kissing him gently, tasting his lips and trailing hot nips along his cheek, jaw, and down his neck. Peter's closeness and the feel of his warm body pressed against the coroner's was more than a little distracting to Nickie to say the least. Feeling the uncontrollable response of his own body wasn't making matters any clearer either.

"Nickie," Peter said softly. "We don't have to take this any further if you don't want to. It's all up to you," Peter assured him, his hands sliding down Nickie's back to rest at his hips. "We can take this as fast or slow as you want to, but if you're wanting to stop, you'd better tell me now," Peter said, his lips moving back up to brush over Nickie's. "Do you want me to stop?"

"No," Nickie answered the need of his body overriding his cautious good judgement. He just hoped his heart wouldn't get trampled on too heavily, but damn it, if it was, he certainly was going to take with him a night to remember!

Nickie's eyes were locked with Peter's as the officer pushed the buttons of Nickie's dark blue dress shirt through the small holes. Peter pushed the material down Nickie's shoulders and let it fall to the floor while his fingers travel up over Nickie's forearms, over his biceps and squeezing, over rounded broad shoulders, and down over Nickie's bare chest, fingertips pausing to tug tenderly at his dusky nipples.

Nickie was a little embarrassed by his body, knowing he didn't work out nearly as often as the man in front of him did. He knew he wasn't in 'bad' shape, but not the best he could be either.

"Mmmm, nice," Peter murmured softly. "That lab coat of yours definitely hides too much."

Nickie's cheeks flamed under Peter's appreciative gaze. Who was Peter trying to kid? He was the one in the presence of a virtual Adonis. He'd always found Peter distractingly gorgeous, and now here he was standing in living, warm, flesh in Nickie's bedroom.

The coroner gasped when an arm curled around his back and Peter leaned in to suckle on one of his nipples. Peter's teeth scraped across the tight nub, his tongue flicking back and forth before moving to tease the other on. Nickie moaned low in his chest as Peter's hands went behind him and slid down the center of his back to cup and squeeze his cheeks through his pants. Suddenly there was *way* too much clothing between them for Nickie's taste. He needed to feel Peter's firm body against his...he needed it more than the next breath in his lungs.

He groaned unhappily when Peter pulled away, but his gaze was avid when the police officer shucked his own shirt. Nickie's tongue was glued to the roof of his mouth as his eyes scanned every inch of Peter's bare chest. He'd never seen a more perfect specimen of masculinity in his life. Every muscle of Peter's body looked to be carved out of pure granite and covered with the softest honey colored skin he'd ever seen, the soft rays of moonlight highlighting each cure and shadowing each valley. He was still staring wordlessly when Peter reached for the band of his pants.

Unfastening the button, Peter's fingers briefly stroked over Nickie's hardness, Nickie biting his lip to keep from crying out, as he released the zipper. The fabric fell over Nickie's slender hips and down to his ankles where he stepped out them and gave them a kick.

Nickie held his breath while he watched Peter unsnap and push down his own pants with painstaking slowness, revealing lithe hips, covered in thin black material that was stretched to capacity by the large growing bulge pushing against it, and finally toned and powerful legs. Peter bridged the scant distance between them, taking Nickie once more in his arms, claiming the coroner's lips. Nickie's hands ran over Peter's bare back and dug into his shoulders when the officer's sure fingers crept up and under the legs of his briefs to caress the bare skin of his buttocks. Peter pushed his hands up further to take both firm cheeks into his palms.

Nickie moaned helplessly, his head falling back instinctively to let Peter's exploring lips map out the hollows along his throat and neck, nipping his way down to Nickie's shoulder.

"Feels good," Peter purred, his fingers digging into the sensitive flesh. His index finger lightly played over Nickie's cleft while rubbing over the contours of the gentle swells of his cheeks. "You feel so hot," Peter murmured, the hard length at his groin dueling against Nickie's.

The coroner couldn't keep his own inquisitive hands still and ran them from Peter's shoulders, feeling the bundles of muscles moving under his fingertips, reveling in the power he felt confined with in them. Suddenly his mind played an image of a caged tiger ready to pounce and he couldn't help trembling at the thought of all that tightly bound potential just waiting to be released...and him being the source of that release. His hands then mimicked Peter's, and found themselves inside the thin fabric that was separating them. He wasn't surprised at all that Peter's rear was as firm as the rest of him, not a spare ounce of fat over those bands of pure muscles that he felt tensing under his palms. "God, Peter...this is too much," Nickie managed to say, with a raspy voice.

"Sure you don't want to stop?" Peter asked gently, his prodding fingers stopping their movements, but still letting their groins touch and slide against each other.

"No, no...just intense, that's all," Nickie somehow managed to answer.

Peter's hands came up to frame Nickie's face as he kissed him with such a slow, deliberate, intensity that left Nickie swaying slightly when he pulled away. "It's all right, Nickie, we've got all night to take our time."

With Peter's hand taking Nickie's, the police detective gently guided them onto the bed. Nickie found himself lying face to face with detective he'd yearned to touch for longer than he could remember, and now here he was, lying in his bed and able to do all the things he'd fantasized about for so long. So why was he now so nervous that he could barely move?

Peter, seemingly to realize Nickie's plight, moved up to lie on his elbow, his free hand gently roving over Nickie's chest, fingertips circling around a nipple, teasing it bud of flesh until pebble hard. Moving his head, he then let his rough tongue bathe the nub while his hand glided along Nickie's ribs and hips. Nickie gasped, his body lurching towards the mouth.

"Like that, hmm?" Peter asked huskily.

"Oh, yeah," Nickie managed weakly, his own hand setting to motion to hold Peter's head close against him, gasping in delight again when Peter moved to the other nipple.

The police officer's hand slid between their bodies, stroking and caressing Nickie's thighs, the touching turning bolder when Nickie opened his legs wider for more access. Peter moved himself in between those spread legs, leaving both hands free to stroke over Nickie's thighs, behind his knees, and around his calves. Peter's tongue blazed a trail down Nickie's chest and stomach, his nose ticking the light hair on Nickie's stomach, twirling around the coroner's navel.


The coroner whimpered slightly in response.

"I want to taste you, can I?"

"Jesus, yes!" he moaned.

Peter's fingers hooked into the band of Nickie's briefs. Pulling them away from Nickie's body, Peter slid it over the coroner's substantial erection that pushed its way to freedom, only a scant breath away from Peter's lips. The officer then slid them down Nickie's lean hips and the rest of the way off.

Nickie didn't move a muscle, his dark eyes watching Peter's pink tongue dart out and wet his lips, those lips so close to his aching need that if he'd just raise his hips a fraction of an inch, he'd have the contact his body was demanding.

Peter's hand moved from Nickie's thigh, the pad of his thumb stroking against the underside of Nickie's manhood. His thumb explored the straining veins that latticed the hard flesh, up under and around the fleshy hood, over the plump purplish tip that was leaking in excitement.

Nickie gulped hard, his head raised as he watched Peter's tongue swipe across the trickling slit.

"Oh, Christ!" Nickie moaned out at the touch of Peter's searing tongue.

Peter's eyes held Nickie's entranced and he merely smiled before wrapping his tongue around the engorged head of Nickie's sex and drew it into his mouth.

"Oh Jesus, oh Christ, oh God!" Nickie cried out as Peter because working his tongue around tip, moist lips closing over his shaft like a silken vice.

Peter's hands stroked Nickie's upper legs and inner thighs, glided behind Nickie's legs and curving into the coroner's hips as he suckled with agonizing tenderness.

Peter sped up his pace as Nickie's movements against the bed became more frantic, Nickie's fingers digging hard into the coverlet on the bed. He used his mouth, tongue, and cheeks as an instrument for conducting a concerto of pleasure; each moan he evoked from Nickie's throat, another note of the sonata and more incentive for Peter to continue. Nickie's body writhed under him, the coroner's rigid manhood seeming to seek out the warmth of his lips, the wetness of his tongue. Peter let his mouth open even wider to take Nickie in as far as he could.

Strong hands soothing ran over Nickie's hips and inner thighs, the constant pressure keeping the doctor from bucking up hard into the inviting chasm of Peter's mouth. The need that was curled in a tight ball in Nickie's stomach unfurled and began reaching and racing along his nervous system under Peter's expertise.

Never before could Nickie ever recall having another lover sharing his bed that could have brought him to the level of pleasure he was experiencing how. Peter was bringing him up to plain he'd never known even existed. It was like smog being lifted from his mind; every touch seemed electrified, the moon shining in the window ten times the brightness, the sound of Peter's humming approval load in his ears and sending shock- waves to his groin.

Nickie felt powerless when Peter upped the pressure and the speed as he took him; all of Nickie's energy siphoned into barely clinging on to his control. There was so much he wanted to do for Peter, wanted to give the officer as much pleasure as he was receiving instead of absorbing all Peter could give, but he couldn't even speak his desires because Peter had reduced his voice to incoherent mumbling and groans.

Peter's hands fondled Nickie's tightly drawn sac, fingers investigating agilely along the route between his testicles and anus. One of the officer's thumbs parted the soft half-spheres slightly, while the other one grazed over Nickie's sensitive opening.

Nickie groaned as Peter didn't enter him, only applied pressure to his entrance. Peter pressed harder, letting the flat part of his thumb grind against Nickie while his mouth didn't relent in taking Nickie over and over again as deeply as he could into his mouth. Nickie's hips were lifting to meet Peter's swollen lips all the while driving himself against Peter's hand.

"Oh, Nickie, taste so good," Peter murmured in-between licks, his mouth moving from Nickie's shaft to suckle on one testicle, then the other.

"Pete, I need...need...." Nickie couldn't even form the words for what he needed, he didn't even know where to begin. He needed and wanted it all.

Peter growled and pulled his mouth away and moved his body until he completely covered Nickie's body with his own. The embers of need in his own stomach sparking and igniting as Nickie's legs came around him and their lengths were against each other.

Peter moved his hips, rubbing against Nickie's responsive body, their sexes sliding against each other and their slick moisture leaking between them making the thrusting so slippery.

"Oh, yeah, good...." Nickie cried out as he thrust hard against the powerful body on top of him, his fingers digging into Peter's sculpted cheeks.

Peter's hands cupped Nickie's cheeks, pulling him up firmly against him, holding their bodies close as the fevered thrusting grew in intensity. One of Peter's hands drove through Nickie's sweat slicked hair and held his head still as he ravished his lips, his tongue pushing into Nickie's willing mouth. They moaned in unison as both were fast approaching the edge.

Their bodies rocked back and forth against each other, the friction stripping their control away thread by precious thread. There was still so much Nickie wanted from this night, so many fantasies he wanted to fulfill, yet he could feel his body betraying him, wanting to rob precious time away from him as the struggled for control was a war he was quickly losing ground with. He closed his eyes and kissed Peter for all he worth, clutching onto him as though that hold would somehow keep time itself at bay and the moment frozen.

"Nickie," Peter called to him, forcing the coroner to open up his eyes. "Tell me what you want."

"I want you in me...gotta feel you in me," Nickie croaked out, his voice thick. "Please, Peter, please," he implored the officer.

Peter brushed his lips against Nickie's roughly, hungrily. "Okay, okay, Babe, where's something I can use for...."

Nickie waved his hand in the general direction of the nightstand next to the bed. "Over...over there."

Peter slowly tore himself away from Nickie and dug into the drawer, quickly locating what he needed. Flipping open the cap of the lubricant, he squeezed the gel onto his fingers and coated himself thickly with it. Peter then tenderly probed between Nickie's parted cheeks, a finger sliding into his hot passage. Using gentleness Nickie had never experienced before, Peter worked his finger in and out of the muscular ring, letting Nickie's body relax and respond before he felt a second finger being added.


"I want this to be so good for you, Nickie," Peter whispered, leaning up to kiss the other man while his fingers thrust further into Nickie's body.

"Need you Peter, so bad," Nickie responded, barely audible as he pushed back to meet the fingers probing him so tenderly, the aching in his gut a raging inferno burning him alive on the inside.

Peter's lips nibbled and suckled Nickie's as he pulled his fingers free and taking his sex in hand, rubbed the head across Nickie's opening.

"Ready?" Peter whispered, his lips hovering over Nickie's, his body poised and waiting for his answer.

"Yes, Peter, do it," Nickie answered him, pushing his own body forward to let Peter know just 'how' ready he was.

Nickie held his breath as he felt Peter's hips push forward, slowly breaching him. Nickie's eyes squeezed shut as he felt himself filled inch by inch, Peter completely surrounding him, his own body stretching and opening up to accept Peter's girth.

Peter stilled himself, letting Nickie's body adjust around him, letting himself enjoy being washed in sensations of Nickie's tight, hot body constricting around him. The incredible heat claiming him, the sheer narrow passage swallowing and sheathing him.

Together as one, Peter pressed further in and Nickie pushed back until there was no space separating them, Peter's body resting against the soft curves of his buttocks.

Peter's desire flared at being buried so deeply inside of Nickie, their bodies converging and melding as one. He slowly began moving within the tight depths, thusting with light strokes as his whole body rocked against Nickie's.

Nickie moaned deeply into Peter's mouth as he was filled over and over again with deep, long strokes, filling him until he's explode from the pleasure as Peter changed angles and seemed to get even deeper. Nickie sunk deeply into the bed under the pressure, it creaking on its springs with each pounding force as the momentum pushed him relentlessly into the mattress.

"Oh Nickie, feels so incredible," Peter groaned out, his powerful hips lunging forward, his mouth ripping free from Nickie's.

Nickie shivered at the complete arousal he heard in Peter's voice. Looking into storming hazel eyes, he couldn't believe that he had the ability to have incited such passion in the man in his arms, that Peter could want him with such urgency and fierceness. It was obvious though, as Peter's eyes hid no secrets from him. Nickie saw it all; the wanting, the need, the desperation - a reflected echo of his own tempestuous feelings.

Peter moved his legs until he was higher upon Nickie, allowing him to thrust in short and hard strokes. The detective's swollen shaft finding the hot spot inside Nickie that sent currents of delight ripping through the coroner's body. Nickie's body arched hard into the demanding pleasure, wanting to surrender himself up to the delight and soar higher than he'd ever gone before. He was so close, on the razor's edge.

Peter grunted, his panting breath flowing across Nickie's cheek as he lifted the other man's legs up and over his broad shoulders. Nickie groaned out, his body bent in half as his rigid sex laid trapped between their body, being rubbed mercilessly against Peter's lean stomach with each ramming thrust. Low pitched moans broke free from Nickie's lips as the duel sensation worked simultaneously to drive him until he was hovering over the abyss.

"Pete...I'm gonna...gonna...." Nickie's harsh voice trembled his warning, his traitorous body threatening to fail him, feeling the deluge of passion clawing from his stomach outwards, welling up in his straining muscles as his fingers dug hard into Peter's shoulders.

"Do it Nickie, come for me," Peter whispered harshly, his dark wet bangs falling in his face, beads of sweat dripping on his forehead and down his nose.

Nickie cried out Peter's name as the officer captured the last of it in searing kiss. Nickie's body lurched, his hot seed erupting between their stomachs as ecstasy crashed and receded in waves, surging through him until he was drowning in bliss.

A scant second later, Nickie heard Peter's cry as a final thrust sent his viscid essence jetting into his body. Nickie's muscles milked the last of scalding seed from Peter. The officer's body was motionless, glazed hazel eyes stared into Nickie's while both of their chests heaved from exertion.

Nickie's legs were slowly taken off of Peter's shoulders as the officer gently slipped out of his body. Collapsing next to the other man, Peter pulled Nickie onto his chest and wrapped him in a tight embrace.

"That was fantastic," Peter murmured softly, his hand threading through Nickie's damp, dark hair, his other hand trailing aimlessly over Nickie's back and hips.

"Yeah, it was," Nickie stated, his lips dropping kisses over Peter's chest, snuggling against him.

Peter's legs entwined around Nickie's, his hands continuing the soothing petting. "Want me to stay the night?"

/How about every night?/ "Yeah, I'd like that," Nickie whispered in agreement.

Nickie let his eyes drift shut, the sound of Peter's beating heart keeping rhythm under his ear. Peter's embrace was secure around him, but yet he was afraid of falling asleep. He just knew he'd end up waking up alone and this all having been some surreal dream. A smile formed on his lips as he kissed one of Peter's nipples and let the residual sensations give him proof enough it had actually happened. Maybe tomorrow morning he could make Peter breakfast and they could talk about what tonight had meant for them.

The next thing Nickie knew, a shrill sound was invading his consciousness. The sound was persistent and unrelenting and the more he tried to ignore it, the more he couldn't. The mattress shifted as the body next him stirred and with a sudden vividness, he recalled who was next to him. Sitting up, he watched Peter scramble out of bed and search his jacket pocket, producing a cell phone. Nickie looked over at the clock next to the bed and saw it flashing 4 am.


"Yeah, Caine here, what do you want?" Peter's gruff, sleepy voice answered. There was a pause. "Yeah, okay, I understand. I'll be there in a half an hour."

Clicking off the phone and putting it back in the pocket, Peter looked over to Nickie. "That was Simms, there was a murder earlier tonight and I've got to get to the scene," Peter explained, already pulling his wrinkled clothes back on.

Nickie watched Peter hastily dress, then when he was finished, Peter came over to him. His hand reaching out to cup Nickie's face.

"I wish I didn't have to go," Peter whispered.

Nickie turned his face into touch, his lips brushing against Peter's hand. "I know, you've got a job to do, though." Nickie knew all too well about the responsibility that comes with serving the public. The only reason he wasn't going to the scene himself was that his assistant was on call tonight.

Peter leaned in and kissed Nickie deeply, then pulled back and left without another word.


The next afternoon Nickie found himself looking at the file that was a blur in front of his eyes. For the last hour he'd been trying to finish the report on the examination of a seventeen-year-old shooting victim. Yet here he sat, his mind straying to Peter Caine and the night before.

By some miracle, Nickie had managed to fall back into a restless sleep after Peter left, the disappointment and hurt taking Peter's place as his bed companion. He'd understood why Peter had to leave, but it hadn't made it any easier.

Once at the office, he'd been able to focus on the work at hand, his professionalism firmly set in place as he'd done the autopsy on the young Latino girl whom had been in the wrong place at the wrong time when a gang war broke out.

Everything was going relatively well, thoughts of Peter were firmly pushed into the back of his mind to be dealt with later. That was until Peter had shown up with Jody to go over the findings from the autopsy of the two murder/suicide victims from earlier in the morning...the case that had called Peter away from him.

They had both worn the mask of their job like masters, neither one betraying in any way the night of passion they'd shared. Nickie had answered all of their questions with just the facts as briefly as possible, quick and to the point, not allowing himself to get carried way on details that didn't interest them like he usually did. If Peter found his attitude strange, he didn't let it show. Those hazel eyes that had been so open last night were veiled and expressionless.

When they had finally left, Nickie had holed himself up in his office to do paperwork, but the interaction between him and Peter had left him edgy and nervous. That had been hours ago, and he still hadn't calmed down that much.

/You're a fool, Elder,/ Nickie chided himself. /What did you think? That just because the two of you slept together, it was going to lead to somewhere? You knew better than to expect anything./ Why would someone like Peter want to be with him? Last night had just been some miraculous fluke.

Nickie sighed sadly, finally giving up the pretense of making out the report and tossing it to the side. What was he going to do? They 'had' to talk about this sometime. He'd been determined last night not to let whatever happen ruin the friendship they had, or let it interfere with either of their jobs. Looks like he'd failed on both accounts.

He was just about to call it a day when he heard a soft knocking on his open door. Swiveling around on his stool, Nickie turned to see the object of his thoughts standing in the doorway.

"Hi, can I talk to you?" Peter asked.

"Yeah, sure," Nickie responded hesitantly, giving Peter a curious look when the officer shut and locked the door behind him.

Peter pulled up a stool and straddled it. "Look, Nickie, I wanted to talk to you earlier, but couldn't with Jody here," Peter explained, shrugging his shoulders. "You know."

Nickie nodded his head. "So what did you want to talk about?"

"Well, I...." Peter started to speak, then pause a little awkwardly. "I wanted to know if you wanted to go to an outdoor Jazz festival that's going on in the park tonight."

Nickie shook his head, sure he'd misheard. "Jazz festival?"

Peter smiled softly. "Yeah, I thought you might like to go with me."


"Like" Nickie asked, his heart starting to pound a little erratically. A date? In public? Together?

"Yeah, Nickie, exactly like a date," Peter responded, his eyes sparking. Reaching out, he took Nickie's hand in his own. "Look, I don't know where this is going, but I'd like to find out." Peter's fingers were brushing against the inside of Nickie's wrist. "Last night was something special to me."

Nickie swallowed the catch in his throat. "It me too," he whispered barely audible.

Their eyes held for a long moment until Peter's shifted to Nickie's lips. Leaning in, he stole a long kiss.

"It's a date then?" Peter asked when he pulled back finally.

Nickie nodded, his voice deciding to take a vacation again. Peter brought the back of his knuckles up and gently rubbed them against Nickie's cheek.

"I'll pick you up at six."

One more quick kiss and Nickie watched Peter's back as he left. A small smile formed on the coroner's lips. Peter wanted to go on a date with him.

Nickie didn't know where things were leading with Peter anymore than the police officer did, but one thing was for was a beginning. It was definitely a beginning.


The End