Second Chances

Fandom/Series: Walker: Texas Ranger

Title: Second Chances

Author/Pseudo: Diana Bloomfield.

Rating: NC-17

Pairing/s: Trent Malloy/Carlos Sandoval

Archive: Yes as long as headers and so forth stay put.

Series/Sequel: Not at this time, but its more than possible.

Author Email: OR
Remember, feedback is not only appreciated, but craved!

Spoilers: Takes place after "Special Witness"

Warnings: This has a high mush/romantic content so if that squicks you out, you've been warned.:o) Authors notes: A big thanks to Bast who betaed for me. Thanks hon.

Disclaimer: No copyright infringements are intended by this and no money shall be made off of it (wouldn't it be nice though to be able to get paid for something you love doing?) Trent, Carlos, and the rest of the cast of Walker belongs to Columbia TriStar. No, on second thought, they're mine, all mine and I'm not giving them back.:o)

Story Summary for Archiving Purposes: After Trent Malloy is nearly killed by an assassin, it prompts Carlos Sandoval to face his feelings for Trent.

A gentle shower fell on the chilly autumn day, but Detective Carlos Sandoval paid little attention to it. Instead his attention was focused on the large window he was peering through.

The Thunder Karate Academy was currently closed, but its owner was nevertheless inside. Trent Malloy was on one of the gym mats, going through a routine of Tai Chi movements. The blonde private investigator/Karate instructor was bare-footed and chested, clad only in an old pair of black sweatpants.

Carlos watched, transfixed by the way the other man's body moved, how sculpted muscles moved with graceful fluidness, how each taut cord worked in harmony to execute moves with precision and tempered concentration. It amazed Carlos that this was the same man who had been laying in a hospital bed, hooked up to a respirator a little more than a week ago.

Trent had been stabbed by an assassin named Riggs, Donovan Riggs. The pig had been hired by a sleaze ball named Morris Foley because Trent had been the last witness Alex Cahill, Dallas' D.A and a personal friend, had to put Foley away. Five other witnesses had reneged on their testimony and Trent had been Alex's last chance. It had been a testimony that nearly cost Trent his life.

Still though, Carols couldn't help but admire Trent's courage through it all. He had never once before felt that strange feeling, the mix of pride and gratification that he had felt the day he rolled Trent into the courtroom and Trent took that sworn oath mere moments before the case was going to be dismissed. The look on Foley's and the attorney's face had been utterly priceless. Watching Trent that day gave Carlos a renewed faith that Carlos had made the right decision when he had become a cop. Putting people like Foley away was what it was all about.

Even with that justification in mind, Carlos still couldn't shake the fact that it had been a close call...too close...for Trent. In one near fatal blow, Carlos had almost lost his childhood best friend, someone whose life he valued more than his own.

The Hispanic police detective thought back to that day in the hospital, when he had first laid eyes upon his lifetime friend after the murder attempt. Trent's vivid blue eyes were dull and listless, his face a hollow shadow, devoid of the life and energy Carlos had been so use to seeing...had always just assumed 'would' be there. Trent's firm, muscular body, usually always active, that laid limp and passive. So still, too still.

A thousand emotions ran through Carlos at once; fear, helplessness, anguish, resentment, anger. How could this happen to Trent? To Trent, who never failed to lend a helping hand, such a gentle and caring person? The injustice of it all finally welled up in Carlos with such intensity that he had been gripped by a red hot wave of rage. That had been when he had effectively ran his fist through the hospital wall.

Ranger Walker had luckily happened to have had been there at the time and with a few well spoken words, was able to diffuse Carlos' anger and fury - but not the pain. Later Carlos had come back to be there, just in case Trent woke up, and the pain was just as intense and acute as it had been. And once more Ranger Walker had shown up.

That night was replayed in Carlos' mind with an unshakeable vividness.


The room was unsettlingly quiet, making the steady hiss of the respirator and the consistent bleeping of the EKG seem omnipresent. Carlos stared at the various wires and patches that were attached to the other man, the wires that tracked Trent's battle for survival.

"It's never easy Carlos," a deep timbered voice spoke softly, breaking the eerie silence.

Carlos blinked at the sound of his name, swinging his eyes onto the older Texas Ranger.

"What isn't?" Carlos asked, his voice coming out gruffer than he was expecting it to.

"Watching someone you love fight for their life and knowing you can't help them," Cordell murmured, a large hand coming to rest on Carlos' shoulder.

The detective's breath caught in his throat as his eyes met those of the older man. Denials sprang to Carlos' mind. He wanted to refute what Walker had said, the underlying truth that Walker had figured out, but that Carlos was unwilling to own up to.

"You've got the same look in your eyes I had when Alex had been shot," Walker explained, answering the unasked question that was plainly written in Carlos' dark brown eyes. Carlos recalled the pain Walker had suffered when his fiance had been shot by a sniper only moments before Walker was going to ask her to marry him.

Walker gently squeezed the shoulder his hand still rested on. "When Trent gets better," Walker started to say, emphasizing the point he had no doubt in his mind that Trent would pull through, "you need to talk to him. If you feel for him half as much as what I think you do, he should know. After what happened with Alex, I realized how easily she could have been taken away from me and how second chances don't come along everyday." Walker's steady pale blue gaze bored into him. "Tell him because if you don't..." Walker paused while a strange flicker moved across his face, "...well, let's just say you don't want that kind of regret." The odd quality of the ranger's voice clued Carlos in that the older man was speaking from personal experience.

With a final and meaningful squeeze, Walker left Carlos alone in silence once more, alone with only his thoughts for company as his eyes fell once more on the injured P.I.

Carlos was in love with Trent. It was as simple and complicated as that.

When had it happened, Carlos wondered? How could it have happened? Carlos realized he wasn't capable of pinpointing the precise moment when his feelings for Trent had started to change because it seemed like it had always been there, the hint of attraction and warmth that went beyond friendship, the strong devotion and trust...always there, all so subtle that Carlos had never questioned it. The latent undercurrent had been dormant, taken for granted, for so long that the abrupt realization shook Carlos to the core. It had taken Trent getting stabbed before it had finally hit Carlos like a physical blow to the gut.

Moisture stung at Carlos' eyes but he didn't give them release. The police office hadn't shed tears since he had been a boy - when he watched his own brother Hector murdered in cold blood in a drug deal gone wrong. That had been the last time and he wasn't about to start now. Besides, if he gave into it, that meant he had given up on Trent and he wasn't about to do that.

So where did that leave him? Did he dare even consider telling Trent what was going on inside of him when Trent was whole again?

Reluctantly Walker's voice haunted his thoughts. 'Tell him...second chances don't come along every day.' The Ranger was right, if he didn't face what he was feeling and Trent healed, he would always regret it if something like this happened to Trent again. Before he was able to hide in his own ignorance of not realizing what he felt. But now? Now that couldn't be, wouldn't be, an excuse anymore.

The decision seemed to have been made for Carlos. Once reached, a unexplainable sense of peace seemed to wrap around him, enveloping him with faith and hope.

The police officer bent his head and leaned in close to Trent's ear.

"Trent, I know you can hear me so listen up," Carlos whispered. "When you pull through this, querido, I promise you we're going to have a long talk and I'm going to have something important to tell you." Carlos' fingers gently brushed through the bright blonde strands of hair. "That means though you're going to have to wake up first. Do that for me, okay?" Carlos' almost cracking as he made the appeal.

When visiting hours ended, Carlos left Trent with one last glance and drove around aimlessly, allowing his thoughts to drift as freely as the car. An hour later, he found himself in the parking lot of St. Mary's Church and wandered up the steps and into the entrance. Once inside, he did something else he hadn't done since his brother had been killed - prayed.


The rain lightly beat down on Carlos, droplets clinging to his hair and dampening his shirt as he continued to stare into the dojo. He had made that promise to Trent over two weeks ago. Trent had upheld his part of the promise and was recovering beautifully. Only the slightest of flinches graced Trent's body occasionally when he moved in a particular way and his wound was pulled, but other than that there were no outward indications that Trent had ever been hurt in the first place.

Carlos on the other hand, had still not kept his end of the deal. There had been no talks, no admission, or professions.

'Coward' Carlos chided himself. That was all there was to it, he was a coward. The officer simply couldn't bring himself to admit his feelings because the thought of losing Trent's friendship was just too high a price to pay if it blew up in his face.

Truth was, when it came to relationships, Carlos had less than a glowing record and he didn't lie to himself about it. Oh, he had tried his hand at long term relationships, but they had never worked out, never lasted. The last one had been well over a year ago and when that one failed, Carlos had drifted into a revolving door of a steady string of meaningless encounters with woman that never lasted more than a couple of weeks at best. They eased the ache he felt, but could never give him the fulfillment he really craved.

Carlos suspected he knew why that was now, but he still couldn't open up to Trent and risk the rejection and the harm it could cause to their friendship.

Suddenly the object of his attention turned and saw Carlos looking in the window. Trent raised his hand and motioned for Carlos to come on in.

Leaving his tennis shoes at the door, Carlos walked in and Trent walked up to him and greeted him with a grin.

"Do I have to make some comment about not having the sense enough to come in out of the rain?" Trent taunted, blotting the sweat from his face with a towel that hung around his neck.

"Watch it or I might have to hurt you," Carlos responded good naturedly.

"Carlos, even fresh from the hospital, I could still take you down and you know it," Trent bantered, the familiar gleam that Carlos had grown so use to back in his eyes.

"I wouldn't doubt it," Carlos returned. Joking or not, Carlos never questioned Trent's skill and strength. When it came to martial arts, Trent had no equal...unless perhaps it would be Walker and that was only because Walker taught Trent everything he knew.

"Anyhow, I'm glad you came because there's something I wanted to run by you."

"What?" Carlos asked skeptically. When Trent got 'that' look in his eyes it was hard telling what P.I was up to.

"Remember the Sanderson case?" Trent asked. Carlos searched his memory and recalled the case Trent had worked on about a month ago. Michael Sanderson, a retail businessman, had hired Trent to find the investment broker who tried to run off with one hundred thousand dollars of Sanderson's money. "Yeah, I remember it, the retail guy?"

"Yeah, that's him," Trent replied. "Seems he was so pleased that besides my fee, he offered me the use of his cabin south of Landcaster this weekend. We're talking good fishing, biking trails, the works. You interested?"

"You can't be serious," Carlos responded.

"Why not?"

Carlos sighed. "Trent, the doctors said to take it easy for awhile, not go mountain biking."

"Oh, a little exercise isn't going to hurt me any, it'll do me good actually," Trent argued and sucker punched Carlos lightly in the stomach. "Besides, I think 'you' could use a little exercise yourself."

"Are you saying I'm getting soft?" Carlos asked incredulously.

Before Carlos could even blink twice, Trent caught him off guard with a foot sweep and caused the police offer to land with a thud onto the mat under him but not before flailing arms caught Trent and pulled him down as well.

"What do you think?" Trent chuckled as he rolled off Carlos.

Sandoval scowled deeply at the P.I until he finally gave in and chuckled too.

"Okay, okay, I'll go this weekend, but there's one condition," Carlos said.


"That you bring plenty of books because you're going to rest whether you want to or not. I'm not going to feel guilty if you tear your stitches or something. Fishing we can do, the biking is definitely a no go," Carlos said firmly.

Trent could see the seriousness in Carlos' eyes and knew from experience that the officer wasn't likely to be swayed. "Okay, it's a deal."


That night as he laid in bed, Carlos wondered just when he had lost his mind. With the way he was feeling, he was suppose to spend the entire weekend...alone...with Trent? 'Yep, definitely loco,' Carlos told himself. All he could think of was that he must just like torturing himself. He never thought of himself as particularly masochistic, but he was seriously beginning to wonder.

As he fell asleep, Carlos fought to keep his thoughts in line and cursed the fact that he was never able to say 'no' when it came to Trent Malloy.


The next morning Carlos woke to the sound of pounding on his apartment door. The detective opened an eye and glanced at the clock on the bedside table. He groaned audibly when he saw it was only five am. Pulling the pillow over his head, Carlos tried valiantly to ignore the persistent knocking that was growing louder.

Finally with a growl, Carlos rolled out of bed and padded across the hardwood floor and tossed open the door where Trent stood with his hands on his hips and an entirely too cheerful smile on his face. The private investigator was wearing a black T-shirt, snug fitting blue jeans, and a pair of worn black leather boots.

"Do you have any idea what time it is?" Carlos grumbled sleepily.

"Yeah, five am, the time I told you I'd be here," Trent answered. "Now why aren't you ready? If we're going to get in any fishing done today we need to hit the road."

"This isn't exactly my idea of how to start a restful weekend," Carlos groused. "Give me a minute to pull some clothes on."

Going back into his bedroom, Carlos pulled on a gray T-shirt of his own and a pair of black jeans finished off with his tennis shoes. Grabbing the couple of bags he'd thankfully had the foresight to pack the night before, he met Trent at the door and together they walked down to Trent's pick-up.

Once they were on the road, Trent handed Carlos a thermos of steaming coffee. Carlos gratefully accepted it and helped himself to a full cup of the steaming, rich smelling, brew. Trent flicked the radio on and Sammy Kershaw's latest song filled the cab. Outside, the pavement flew under the tires in a steady and hypnotic hum.

Draining the cup of coffee until it was empty, Carlos rested his head against the window and watched the various trees skim and dance by while his eyelids grew heavy and started to feel grainy.

The next thing police officer knew, he felt a hand on his shoulder shaking him. Startled, he jerked and blinked blurry eyes.

"We're here," Trent declared.

"I slept the whole way here?" Carlos asked with surprise. He must have been more tired than he had realized.

"Yep, the whole two hours," Trent answered, opening the door and climbing out.

"You could have woke me up you know," Carlos commented.

"Yeah and risk you biting my head off? No thanks man, you were a better traveling companion this way," Trent smirked.

Carlos watched Trent draw in a lung full of fresh country air and the police officer couldn't help doing the same. The air was crisp and unseasonably warm for the fall day.

Sandoval took a moment to take in the scenery around him. Trees of varying types spread across the country side. Flowers of all sorts of colors marked their way over the ground, filling the air with their fragrant scent. In the distance, a bountiful number of birds and other small creatures could be heard scurrying through the underbrush.

Carlos' eyes also landed on the cabin they would be sharing for the weekend. It was a large, 'A' frame log cabin. The wood itself looked aged and worn, roughened by weather and time, but was still quite obvious that the structure had been well maintained and cared for.

Hauling a bag over his shoulder, Carlos decided to follow Trent inside and see what it had to offer. The first room they saw was the living room. It was modestly decorated with mixture that focused on Santa Fe and Native American design that included everything from Native American artwork on the walls to the Santa Fe designed throw rugs covering the highly polished hardwood floor. A huge bay window had a beautiful view of the woods to the side of the cabin and against the furthest wall, there was a large stone fireplace surrounded by a gold plated hearth.

"Where's the bedrooms?" Carlos asked, wanting to find a place to put his bags.

"Down at the end of the hall," Trent answered. "There's only the one bedroom though so we're gonna have to share. Not a problem is it?"

'Oh mi Dios!' Carlos thought. Not only was he going to be forced to be alone with Trent all weekend, but 'now' he was expected to share the same bed with the P.I? How much more could he be expected to take?

"Nah man, no problem," Carlos lied, unwilling to meet Malloy's eyes. He'd just have to make the best of the situation. Surely he could trust himself around the P.I...right?

The bedroom was sparingly, yet tastefully decorated much like the rest of the cabin. The room held only three pieces of furniture; one was a tall, sturdy looking, oak chest of drawers for storage, another was a matching oak writing desk that set under the window, and a four-poster, full sized bed covered with an Aztec print comforter that matched the hanging curtains. From the ceiling, hung a brass fan that was gently stirring the air with its whirling blades.

They both went to work unpacking most of their belongings in the chest of drawers next to the bed, but Carlos left one package in a bag under the bed, its contents meant to remain hidden until he gave it to Trent later.

In the silence, both men were surprised when they heard Carlos' stomach growl viciously.

Trent chuckled. "Is that a plea for breakfast?"

"Must be," Carlos replied with embarrassment.

"Well, you'd better get cooking then don't you think?" Trent asked with a mischievous gleam in his eye.

"Why do I get stuck with K.P?" Carlos grumbled.

"Gotta pull your weight around here somehow amigo," Trent responded, tossing his empty satchel under the bed.

"Fine, if I cook breakfast though, guess whose stuck with dinner duty." Carlos smiled broadly.

"Fair enough," Trent conceded graciously. "And we'll just make some sandwiches for lunch?"

"Sounds good," Carlos answered with a nod.

Carlos found it rather easy to maneuver around the unfamiliar kitchen. Everything he needed seemed to be efficiently accessible, and within a half an hour he was ready to serve a huge breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, sausage links, hashbrowns and a full pitcher of frothy orange juice.

Both men ate with relish, reducing the meal to crumbs as they talked about the drug case Carlos had been working on before the trip. He'd made a large bust that had taken out several suppliers and was more than willing to boast about the details, much to Trent's amusement.

After clearing the table, the two men found a picnic basket and filled it with ham and cheese sandwiches, a bag of potato chips, a container of coleslaw. Trent carried that and the cooler that had soda and a six pack while Carlos grabbed the fishing rods, tackle box, and bait.

The bright sunlight greeted them and beat down from overhead in confirmation that even for it being autumn, the day was going to be a warm one.

The trail they followed curved and twisted, leading them deep into the dense foliage and shrubbery, the trees providing a beautiful canopy of lush, burgeoning, leaves. The deeper they drifted down the trail, the more overgrown it became, occasional branches and fallen limbs hindering their way. Little time seemed to pass though, before the trail opened up and unveiled right before their eyes, a clearing that held a immense lake.

Part Two

The cerulean water was shimmering and reflective, mirroring the rich golden glow of the sun and nearby tree tops. The breeze that blew across Carlos' face was clean and fresh smelling, holding a pureness that only existed outside city limits. It caused gentle ripples to swell and move over the placid surface.

"Wow," Carlos whispered.

"It's something isn't it?" Trent agreed happily.

A heavy plank board wooden dock led down to and over the lakeshore. Setting the supplies and equipment to the side, both men settled down and set up for successful day of fishing.

They passed the time in relative quiet,and occasionally Carlos found himself lookingout of the corner of his eye at Trent. He was pleased to see how calm and relaxed the P.I seemed to be in these surroundings and Carlos found himself mimicking the ease.It had been ages since he allowed himselfa mini vacation like this, and even if Trent's nearness made him feel a little edgy, he wasn't going to admit it.

The fishing was better than Carlos thought it would. Their competitiveness streak came out to play and they started keeping track of who caught what. Trent had managed to haul in four large trout while Carlos was content with his one trout and three small-mouthed bass. They were going to feast that night and their good luck had them both injovial moods.

Before long, the sun had moved directly over head, and the afternoon had crept up on them.

"I don't know about you, but I'm ready for lunch," Trent remarked, squinting his eyes in the sun before turning his attention to the picnic basket.

"So am I," Carlos agreed. He hadn't really thought about it, but at the suggestion of lunch, Carlos' stomach protested its emptiness. Carlos dug out one of the sandwiches and dished himself up a plate full of the potato chips and coleslaw. Trent did the same.

"You know, Thunder would have loved aspot like this," Trent said softly as he popped the tab off a can of cola.

"Think he would?" Carlos asked around a mouthful of sandwiches. The officer wasslightly surprised that Trent had broughtup his father. The private investigator hadn't spoken much about Thunder Malloy since he had passed away from a heartattack over two years ago.

"Yeah I do," Trent answered with a wistful tone in his voice. "One of the first memories I have is the first time Thunder took me on a fishing trip. I couldn't have been more than four or five. Tommy, Travis, and Tandy hadn't even been born yet. It was just me and Thunder."Trent chuckled a little, lost in the past. "I still remember Thunder coming into my bedroom bright and early that morning and shaking me awake. 'Come on lazy bones, the day's wasting away and I've got something special planned for you,' he said. When mom asked him what he had up his sleeve, he just grinned at her and told her it was a secret between him and me. After breakfast he threw me into his pick-up and drove me for an hour down thislittle dusty back road that was full of potholes. I asked him where we were going and he just smiled and said, 'Patience my boy, you'll see soon enough.' Pretty soon we came to this small little lake, probably about half the size of this one," Trent remarked with a sweep of his hand towards the lake he was watching. "I asked him where we were and he put his arm around me and pulling me in close, he said 'This is a special spotthat no one else knows about son. Now I'm sharing it with you and it'll be our secret, a place just for us.'" Carlos watched Trent squeeze his eyes shut for a bare moment before opening them up again and cleared his throat. "You know, I didn't even catch anything that day, but it's still the best fishing trip I ever had."

"You still miss him don't you?" Carlos asked, taking a swig of his soda to clear the thickness lodging in it.

"Yeah, I think about him all the time," Trent answered honestly. "I sometimes stillfind myself asking myself what Thunder would do in this or that situation."

"That's natural. You were really close to him," Carlos responded. He thought back on his childhood and recalled the slight jealously he had felt for Trent and his father, the closeness they had always shared. He and his own father loved each other but they hadn't been able to spend time together the way Trent and Thunder had because his father was always working long hours for the family.

"You know, when I was in the hospital, I did a lot of thinking," Trent continued.

Carlos wasn't able to meet Trent's eyes because he didn't want the image of him in that hospital bed to resurface. "About what?"

"One thing is that I couldn't help wondering what Thunder would think of me if he could see me, what I've made of myself. If what I've become would be enough to make him proud of me."

Carlos' eyes were then drawn to thesapphire blue eyes that were filled with doubt. "Why wouldn't he be proud of you? Look at all you've accomplished Trent-your own Karate school, your own investigation do a lot of good and help a lotof people."

"You really think so?" Trent asked skeptically. "Sometimes I don't feel like its really enough."

Carlos shook his head ever so slightly. Trent never failed to amaze him. It was justlike him not to be satisfied with all the help he'd given people over the last several years. Instead Trent thought about to all the others who had needed help that he 'hadn't' been able to help. He always seemed to expec ttoo much out of himself. Trent's ability to give without expecting anything in return was one of the things Carlos admired most about the other man, but if Trent didn't come to terms with the fact that he alonewasn't responsible for everyone else's welfare, the detective was going to tear himself apart.

"Trent, you can only do so much for so many. Trust me, you've made more of a difference than you even realize. Thunder would be proud if Tommy and Travis turned out to be half the man you are."

Trent's eyes met and held Carlos' for a long moment. "Thanks, that means a lot."

Carlos just shrugged. "Hey, don't thank me, I'm just telling you the truth buddy."

A companionable silence seemed to filter around them and they enjoyed the rest of their lunch without much more said.

After the remnants of lunch was stowed back in the basket, Trent stretched his arms up over his head and gave a feline type pull of his muscles.

"I don't know about you, but we've got more fish now than we know what to do with and that water's looking mighty inviting," Trent said with a longing look out into the cool, clear, body of the lake.

"Yeah," Carlos agreed. It was just warm enough of a day that swimming would have been nice. "Too bad we didn't pack any swim trunks."

"Who needs trunks?" Trent asked witha impish twinkling in his eyes. "Don't you remember those summers at Miller's pond?"

"Yeah, but..." Carlos started to protest.

Trent didn't wait on the officer, instead starting to undress by pulling his T-shirt up over his head and tossed it off to the side. After pulling off his boots, Trent grabbed the fly of his jeans, releasing the button and zipper and pushed the bulky denim down his hips and legs.

"Um, Trent, are you sure it's such a good idea to go swimming? Are your stitches going to be all right?" Carlos asked, trying to pry his eyes away from the form of Trent's exposed body, a pair of red briefs the only material left covering Trent's modesty.

"Yeah, why wouldn't they be? They're waterproof," Trent retorted and coming to stand at the end of the pier.

"What about taking it easy this weekend? Where are those books you were suppose to bring?" Carlos asked, a little more testily than he had intended.

"Darn, I knew there was something I was suppose to remember." Trent cast one more look at Carlos before taking a leap off the edge of the dock and landed with a splash, a surge of spray shooting high into the air before his blonde head popped out from the surface. "Man, this water is great! Come on in!" Trent exclaimed, sputtering water out of his mouth and whipping his hair back out of his face.

"Nah, I don't think so," Carlos said, watching Trent's body bob up and down in thewater that lightly lapped around him.

"Oh come on, we're here to have fun," Trent urged.

Carlos sighed deeply. 'Trouble, you're asking for it boyo," he told himself. Still, maybe it wasn't such a bad idea after all. The chilled waters could do him some good, Carlos persuaded himself. The exercise just might burn away some of the tension he'd been feeling.

Shedding his own clothes, down to his black briefs, Carlos ran the length of the pier and did a cannon ball into the lake. Gasping for air when he resurfaced, he shivered from the shock of the cold water hitting his body. Diving deep once more, the cold subsided and Carlos adjusted to the change in temperature. Moving to lay on his back, Carols let himself drift and float on the surface, kicking his legs to work himself through the water.

"You're right Trent, this is nice," Carlos called out and turned his head to spot the other man only the karate instructor was nowhere to be seen. "Trent?" The water was calm and still except for where he was treading. Suddenly his waist was grabbed and he found himself being pulled under the water with barely enough time to take a breath before being dragged down. Carlos kicked his feet as hard as he could and pushed himself away from the body that was trying their best to hold him under, dislodging the weight on his shoulders.

When he finally was able to reemerge, he heard the sound of Trent's jubilant laugher ringing in the air.

"Oh that is 'so' not funny man!" Carlos growled. "You're gonna get it," he vowed.

"If you think you're fast enough to catch me," Trent taunted and darted off under the water again.

Carlos dove and was in pursuit. Trent was fast all right, his thin, athletic body seemed made for swimming, but Carlos' legs had a lot of power in them and he put it touse. He was able to maneuver under Trent and grab a good hold around the other man's ankles.

Trent tried to kick out of his grasp, but Carlos' hold was secure and he quickly pulled Trent down until he had a good hold around Trent's stomach, then using his legs, Carlos forced them back up and broke through the surface again.

"Hey, that's cheating," Trent complained, but there was no force behind it.

Carlos smiled in satisfaction. "Why is it that its only cheating if I win?"

"Because I hate losing," Trent tossed back.

"I've noticed that," Carlos noted.

Suddenly the Hispanic detective seemed to become aware of the fact that he still hadhis arms securely around Trent. Their bodies were pressed firmly against one another so tightly that Carlos could feel the heat radiating off of Trent's slippery, moist, skin. Carlos stared into Trent's azure eyes that seemed to have gone several shades darker than he had remembered them being. He could feel Trent's chest rise and fall against his own.His eyes then fell on Trent's full, moist, rose colored lips. Only mere inches separated them, close enough to feel Trent's breath upon his skin. All he had to do was just tilt his head slightly and...

Carlos gave himself a hard mental jerk and quickly disentangled himself from thethe other man.

"If I won, does that mean you're cooking dinner 'and' doing the dishes afterward?" Carlos asked, and tried turn before the burning he felt creeping up on him reached his cheeks.

"I'll race you to the shore and back for it, best two out of three," Trent offered.

"You're on," Carlos agreed. "On three. One...two..."

"Three," Trent finished and took off before Carlos could even sputter a protest.

Trent won the match, but Carlos declared a foul so both agreed to a stalemate and to help equally when it came to the clean up. They spent another hour in the water before both were ready to come out.

Carlos climbed out, trailing little puddles around his feet as he moved over the dock. With a grunt, he laid down on the wooden planks and put his arms behind his head. A moment later, the sun was blocked as Trent came to stand in front of him, beadsof water dripping off of him before laying down himself next to Carlos.

"Glad I conned you into coming?" Trent asked before a yawn broke free.

"Yeah," Carlos answered. "I guess I am." In fact he was hard pressed to recall a time hehad been feeling any better. He felt relaxed and peaceful, which wasn't something he felt often.

"See, do I know what's good for you or what?"

Carlos didn't answer, as he gave in to a yawn of his own. The sun was so warm as it glared down from overhead, bathing Carlos in warmth and drying the droplets of water that still clung to his skin.

Carlos didn't know how long he had slept, but when he opened his eyes again, he was surprised to see that the sun had descended low and had turned a deep crimson and stained the sky with deep, rich, shades of burnt orange, blush, indigo, and violet.

The Dallas detective turned his head slightly and a small smile curved on his lips unnoticed. Beside him, Trent was still sound asleep.

Turning on his side, Carlos watched the other man in slumber. In repose, Trent'sface was slackened and serene, a shadow playing across his stubbled cheek. Carlos' gaze traveled down the P.I's chest, noting the crisp, sparse, dusting of fair curls that covered the broad expanse that rose and fell with each breath. A ache gripped at Carlos' chest as his eyes fell on the slightly raised purplish redpuckered scar that marred the delicate, creamy skin, an all too graphic reminder of Trent's mortality. It didn't distract from Trent's attractiveness at all, in fact it made him all the more beautiful to Carlos because it served as a reminder that Trent had survived. Carlos' eyes continued their downward journey. Trent's body then tapered down into a taut, carved, stomach that was hard and firm from years of work outs. The lines of his body swelled slightly at curved hips and then narrowed back down to finely toned and powerful legs. Stillin only his underwear, nearly every square inch of the other man's body was displayed for Carlos' eyes to look upon.

Carlos' hand itched to reach out and brush back a golden strand of hair that fell across Trent's eyes. He sighed deeply, wondering why the private investigator had to be so attractive. How was he suppose to take a whole weekend of this frustration? Carlos realized how close he had been to losing it when they had been swimming together, Trent's full, wet mouth so close to his own, beckoning to him for a taste that Carlos knew would be painfully sweet. 'You're playing with fire partner, and you know what happens when you get too close,' Carlos warned himself. He was dancing too close to the flame and he knew it, could feel it licking at his heels.

What would he have said if he had broke down and kissed Trent like he had longed to? How would he have covered it up to keep from causing irreparable damage to their friendship? Carlos was certain that Trent wouldn't mock or ridicule him, but it could still be enough to make Trent uncomfortable around him, so much so that he wouldn't be able to see past it for the sakeof their friendship. It simply wasn't worth the risk, Carlos told himself.

But how was he suppose to fight the frustration that was knotting up and gnawing at his insides? There was a craving, a fireburning deep inside of him that was getting hard to ignore. He hungered to learn the flavorof Trent's kiss, to become intimately familiar with the feel of that fair, soft, skin agains this own, to hear the sound of Trent's voice crying out and knowing it was him that was cause of it. More than anything though, Carlos just wanted to hold Trent close to him and just revel in that fact that Trent was safe, alive, and to show him how much that meant to Carlos. What was he going to do?

Trent stirred and Carlos averted his eyes, not wanting to get caught staring at theother man. Trent brought his arms over his head and arched his back lazily as his eyes reluctantly opened.

"Mmmm, nothing better for sleeping than fresh air and a good work out is there?" Trent murmured.

"Nope, there sure isn't," Carlos agreed, reaching for his clothing and putting them onto have something to do.

Trent grabbed around for his own discarded and wrinkled clothes. "It's getting late, better get back to the cabin."

After both men were dressed, Carlos grabbed the empty picnic basket and the cooler with the fish while Trent handled the fishing supplies.

The evening air was cooling off as the last few rays of the late afternoon sun led them back up the path to the dark cabin. After opening the door, Trent handed over what he was carrying to Carlos' load.

"Here, take this in, I'm going to get some wood for the fire," he told the police officer and headed off to behind the cabin where some wood, already precut, was waiting for them.

Carlos carried his haul into the livingroom and set the majority of it down at the doorway, but carried the fish into the kitchen to se tout to be prepared. He was starting to put the tackle box and rods back into the bedroom when Trent walked in with an arm load of firewood, which he sat in the holder next to the fireplace.

"I'll start the fire, you can start on dinner," Carlos responded with a knowing smile.

"I'm not going to get out of it am I?" Trent asked, a pleading and hopeful look in hisblue eyes.

"Not in this lifetime," Carlos responded and chuckled at the crest fallen look that crossed Trent's features.

"Oh, all right, but I'm warning you right now that it's your stomach you're putting in danger," Trent grumbled and Carlos chuckled some more.

"I think I'll risk it," Carlos responded, knowing full well Trent could cook as well as he did, even if that wasn't saying much.

Crouching down in front of the hearth, Carlos made sure that the flue was opened and laid some of the kindling down. Searching, he found some old paper and the matches. In minutes, he had a nice sized fire roaring. The bright orange and blue flames flickered and grew, immersing the whole room in awarm, luxurious, glow.

Standing up, Carlos decided to be gracious and see if Trent could use some help with dinner. Peeking around the corner into the kitchen, he saw the private investigator busily peeling a head of lettuce.

"You need any help?" Carlos offered.

"You volunteering?" Trent asked.

"Yeah, guess I am," Carlos responded.

Trent smiled broadly. "In that case,get chopping for the salad. I'll start on the fish."

Carlos quickly decided that the kitchen was definitely not big enough for the both of them. The confines were tight and everytime Trent moved to get some utensil or seasoning he needed, he inevitably ended up brushing up against Carlos solidly, causing sparks to shoot through the police detective's body. Carlos held himself stiffly, trying with difficulty to keep his breathing regulated and the flush he felt on the inside from coming to play on his face and giving himself away.

To Carlos, it seemed like an eternity had passed, but eventually the dinner was prepared and ready to put on the table. A mixture of bass and trout was complimented with baked potatoes, a tossed salad, and steamed corn on the cob.

Carlos found a vintage red wine on the wine rack and opened it when he had been assured by Trent that it was all right to drink it. The table had been set with china and fine crystal goblets that Carlos filled generously with the wine.

Dishing out helpings for themselves, they began eating.

"So," Trent said after taking a bite of baked potato. "Are you going to tell me what's going on with you?"

Carlos' wine slid down his throat ina gulp, his eyes widened ever so slightly."What are you talking about?" he asked slowly.

"Just seems you've been acting strangely since I was in the hospital and it's been going on all day today. Did you want to talk to me about something?" Trent asked, blue eyes searching soft hazel ones.

Damn, Carlos cursed silently. He should have known he couldn't hide something like what he was feeling from someone who knew him inside and out since childhood and who made their living by knowing when someone is hiding something from him. His mind worked furiously, then remembered the gift he had for Trent under the bed.

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